TeXans and O’s

Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

Dragon Slayers

His name is Deshaun Watson, first of his name. Jacker of Jaguars, killer of Colts, and Warden of the AFC South. He is now the Dragon Slayer.

For the second time in franchise history, the Houston Texans defeated the New England Patriots 28-22 behind the heroics of Deshaun Watson. Coming into this game, I had a feelings the Texans were going to finally get over the hump, and defeat the Patriots on national television.

The Patriots have been pretty shaky over the past couple of weeks despite their 10-1 record, and it showed mightily Sunday night. Tom Brady looked frazzled most the night, and often showed his frustration towards his teammates on the sidelines.

The Patriots also lost control of the top seed in the AFC to the Baltimore Ravens. That is a more pressing problem as it seems their chances to go to their fourth straight Super Bowl will require home field advantage. The Ravens are the closest thing to unbeatable in the NFL right now, and appear to be the favorite going into the last month of the season.

For the Texans, the win solidified their chances at winning the AFC South for the second year in a row. It’s not going to be easy. They play their biggest threat, the Tennessee Titans, twice before the end of the season. The good news is the Texans have an easier schedule to close out the season.

Playoff Picture

The playoff picture in the AFC is going to a lot of fun to watch going into the final month of the season. I can see two scenarios where the Texans could make the AFC Championship this season.

The second seed is the less likely of the two, but not completely impossible. It would require the Texans to go 4-0 and the Patriots to go 2-2 to end the season. Since the Patriots have been so shaky recently, culminating in Sunday’s loss, I can see them struggling against the Chiefs and surging Bills down the stretch. In this scenario, the Texans would land a coveted first round bye. That advantage, along with Deshaun Watson puts the Texans in the AFC Championship.

The other, more likely, scenario is the fourth seed. All this takes in the Texans winning their division, and finishing behind Kansas City in the final standings. This will be tricky because there is a strong likelihood these two teams will finish with the same record at the end of the season. In this scenario, the Texans would get a first round home game against, likely, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A win there would send them to Foxboro to face the Patriots. After Sunday’s win, I am not worried about the prospect of knocking off the Patriots on the road in the playoffs. Daunting? Yes, but I feel this victory could give us the confidence we’d need to get a victory at Gillette Stadium.

Super Bowl, you ask? Stop kidding yourself, the Ravens are a lock to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Cleveland Sucks

I’ll close with a story that really just needs to go away, but just keeps vomiting up more garbage with each passing week. Two weeks ago, Miles Garrett swung a helmet at the head of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. As a result, he has been suspended for the rest of this season. Personally, I feel the punishment could have been more severe, but it’s hard to push for much more. In any case, the guy deserved extreme punishment.

The following week, there were reports of Cleveland Browns fans using a Steelers helmet to swing at a Mason Rudolph piñata while tailgating. Such class, Cleveland.

Then, this week, we see an Instagram post of Browns head coach, Freddie Kitchens, wearing a t-shirt saying, “Pittsburgh started it.” This refers to the fact Rudolph was the instigator of the fight resulting in the swinging of the helmet.

Cleveland has sunk to terrible new lows in class and respectability. The Browns came into this season with a great deal of hype, but have become one of the biggest disappointments of the season. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Kitchens. I would also lay part of the blame of the incident on him as well. Well coached players don’t swing helmets at other players. Kitchens claims his daughters wanted him to wear the shirt. What a father!

The incident is about as shameful an act a player can commit on the field of play. The best you can do is accept punishment, and move on. It says a lot about the city, team and fans of Cleveland that they not only don’t want to move on from this embarrassment, they want to revel in it. It’s a look as ugly as their uniforms.

Rockets Launch

Oops, He Did It Again

AP Photo/ Michael Wyke
AP Photo/Michael Wyke


So, James Harden scored 60 points in 31 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re even taking a moment to truly admire his accomplishments. Look at this:

From @TommyBeer

The ten highest-scoring games of 2019:
1. James Harden: 61
2. James Harden: 61
3. James Harden: 60
4. Damian Lillard: 60
5. Devin Booker: 59
6. James Harden: 59
7. James Harden: 58
8. James Harden: 58
9. James Harden: 57
10. James Harden: 57

It’s very clear to me we are witnessing something truly special with James Harden. The numbers he is putting up are simply incredible. It is a testament to his talent fans and the media have almost become apathetic about it.

In fact, Saturday night’s fireworks were a blip on the sports news scene as the day was dominated by a number of Rivalry Week showdowns, including an unforgettable Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama.

It’s all good, Harden doesn’t hold a grudge. We have another month or so before the country turns its attention to the NBA. Don’t be surprised if he goes for 50+ a couple more times before then.

The Great Experiment

A little more than a month into the season, it’s clear we can call the Great Experiment combining James Harden and Russell Westbrook a success. Going into this season, there were serious concerns around the league about how they would adjust their playing styles on the court.

Some were drooling over the prospect of opening a column about the Rockets with, “Houston, you have a problem.” Fortunately, James and Russ haven’t given them much to gripe about.

Harden is averaging 38.9 points a game, and has a legitimate chance to average 40 points a game over the course of a season. If anything, playing with Westbrook has made him better. And I LOVE watching Westbrook on the court for the Rockets. He brings a tenacity Rockets fans haven’t seen since the days of Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell.

Now, things aren’t perfect. There have been some lapses. Westbrook’s shooting has been a liability for a team whose success is dependent on knocking down 3’s with abandon.

The good news is they still have time and plent of room to improve. Eric Gordon has been sidelined with a knee injury, and will likely be out until the New Year. His return will give the Rockets another proven shooter. A shooter that would have been invaluable in a road loss to the LA Clippers.

All in all, I feel we can be very optimistic going into the rest of the 2019-2020 season. It’s also time to prepare for a renewed rivalry with the Dallas Mavericks. More on that next week.

Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen

While I am loathe to celebrate an injury of any player. I must admit I am relishing the current state of the Golden State Warriors. They are flailing with a very un-Warriorlike record of 4-17 dealing with a spate of injuries that can only be described as a Greek tragedy.

I wish them a speedy recovery. The NBA isn’t the same without them, and any Rockets playoff run will feel hollow if the Dubs aren’t vanquished on the road to a championship.

Besides, it would REALLY suck for the rest of the league if they land the #1 pick in next year’s draft a la the San Antonio Spurs when they drafted Tim Duncan. It might not be too early to start watching the college ranks for the prospective #1.

Texans & O’s – Tuesday, October 7, 2019

So far this season, the Texans are something of an enigma. I really can’t tell what we have on the defensive side of the ball. While J.J. Watt is certainly rounding into regular form, this team still hasn’t turned out a great defensive performance. And while they had a number of great plays and stops against the Atlanta Falcons this week, they still allowed 32 points to a 1-4 team.

The offense, on the other hand, appears to be a juggernaut as long as Deshawn Watson stays vertical during the game. After the debacle last week against the Panthers, Watson turned the closest thing to a perfect game by ANY player in NFL history. For the record, he is the first player in NFL history to pass for 400+ yards and 5 touchdowns with 5 or less incompletions.

However, this being the Texans, we have our infamous nemesis, the Indianapolis Colts, to thank for possibly making things much more difficult next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Not only did they hand the Chiefs their first loss of the season, they shut them down at home so badly they are likely to coming into this weeks matchup against the Texans looking for blood.

The good news is they may have also provided some dirt on how to shut down the unstoppable Chiefs offense. Of course, if the Watson and the Texans offense can start putting up the same kinds of numbers from Sunday, the defense can get away with letting the Chiefs score thirty or more points with abandon.

Season Says

After five weeks, the Texans are 3-2. I still believe they will win the division, and make the playoffs with a final record of 10-6. That’s a somewhat optimistic take built on what I hope to be the Texans’ first 6-0 season against the AFC South. We’ll see.

Super Bowl Pick

Right now I’m going with New England vs Green Bay.

That’s all my prognostication I’m prepared to print for now. See you next Tuesday.

The Bondium – James Bond Rankings

James Bond Rankings

  1. Daniel Craig
  2. Pierce Brosnan
  3. Roger Moore
  4. Sean Connery
  5. George Lazenby
  6. Timothy Dalton

Daniel Craig is the best Bond simply because from his first scene, he shook, not stirred, the concept of James Bond. He is also the star of, in my opinion, the two best Bond movies of all time. (see below) The Daniel Craig canon also incorporates an incredible amount of homage to the previous Bond movies. (Again, see below)

Many may scoff at my choice of Pierce Brosnan as the second best Bond. I welcome those arguments, but say this; without Pierce Brosnan, we may not have any Bond films today. The Bond franchise was totally wrecked after Timothy Dalton, a choice made because Pierce was not available (see: Remington Steele), took on the mantle. He resurrected the franchise before franchises became the currency of Hollywood blockbusters.

Roger Moore has the distinction of starring in more Bond movies than any other actor. Most, if not all, of his movies carry more than a bit of camp, but (mostly) hold up over time as some of the most enjoyable films of the franchise.

Yes, Sean Connery is the fourth best Bond. While I am always a connoisseur of the original being the best, I have found a number of problems with Connery’s Bond. The first is his character rapes Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. The second is the racism of Bond being camouflaged as a “Japanese” in You Only Live Twice. While both films contribute a great amount to the Bond oeuvre, they do not hold up well over time.

George Lazenby play James Bond once. However, that one film is better than most of the Bond canon. It is the only movie where James Bond gets married, and it featured the first “Bond Girl” who not only held her own against the secret agent, but could kick some serious ass. Diana Rigg (aka Mama Tyrell for you Game of Thrones), we applaud you.

Timothy Dalton is without a doubt the worst of all Bonds. I must admit, I LOVE License to Kill. However, The Living Daylights is the absolute WORST Bond movie of all time. It’s so bad, I skipped it during this past binge.

The Bondium – Pierce Brosnan Film Rankings

I credit Pierce Brosnan with saving the James Bond franchise. After Timothy Dalton, it took six years, the longest gap between any two Bond movies, for producers to finally resurrect James Bond for a 90’s audience.

Pierce Brosnan Film Rankings

  1. Goldeneye
  2. Tomorrow Never Dies
  3. The World is Not Enough
  4. Die Another Day

The Pierce Brosnan movies ushered in an era of higher production values for the Bond franchise. For one, they feature two Oscar winning actresses, Judi Dench and Halle Berry; and another nominee, Rosamund Pike. It’s ironic the movie featuring all three is the worst movie of Brosnan’s tenure.

Goldeneye is the Goldfinger of modern Bond. It creates a wonderful storyline of conflict between 00’s, while adhering to the tried and true James Bond formula. You have Famke Jansen playing Xenia Onatopp, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and the introduction of the the first female (and BEST) M. Oh, and let’s not forget Tina Turner’s AMAZING song.

Tomorrow Never Dies is ALMOST as good as Goldeneye. After one Bond film, Pierce Brosnan settles into the role, combining the beguiling charm with a respectable amount of humor. In an early scene, Tomorrow Never Dies delivers two of the most Bondian lines of all time:

“I’m just brushing up on a little Danish.”
“Oh James, you were always a cunning linguist.”

Jonathan Pryce is glorious as a media mogul bent on world domination. As a lover of an iPad, this film always delights me with a scene predicting the idea of such a device.

The World is Not Enough is the Bond family motto. It was originally mentioned in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Honestly, I would place this above Tomorrow Never Dies as its plot is one of the best in the franchise, but it suffers from Denies Richards’ Christmas Jones. A regrettably terrible Bond girl and character. Nevertheless, its villain is one of the best of the series.

Die Another Day should have been a great Bond movie, but loses itself in a terrible premise and writing. Still, it did bring back the Aston Martin.

The Bondium – Other Bond Film Rankings

George Lazenby holds a unique distinction of being starring in a single Bond film. Timothy Dalton wasn’t the first choice when he became Bond, producers were hoping for Pierce Brosnan, who eventually took on the mantle long after Dalton’s short two film stint. Together, they are the Other Bonds.

Other Bond Film Rankings

  1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  2. License to Kill
  3. The Living Daylights

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of my favorite Bond films. George Lazenby, taking over for the now legendary Sean Connery, performs admirably as the new Bond. The film itself adheres to the Bond oeuvre wonderfully, and introduces the first empowered Bond girl in Diane Rigg’s Contessa Tracy di Vicenzo.

Most fans today are more likely to recognize Rigg from her role as Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones. In case, Tracy holds another distinction as the only woman James Bond marries in the entire franchise.

Despite my poor opinion of Timothy Dalton as Bond, I must say I do enjoy watching License to Kill. It pulls out all the stops of a Bond movie with over the top stunts and and infamous death scene involving a decompression chamber. And it’s hard to forget Benicio Del Toro’s role as a zany assassin sidekick.

The Living Daylights is the worst Bond film of all time. I refused to watch it during my second time through, and doubt I’ll ever watch it again.

The Bondium – Roger Moore Bond Film Rankings

While I turned away from the Sean Connery Films, I found myself delighting in the campy schtick of the Roger Moore films. They do, of course, lather on more than a bit of misogyny. However, over time, they come off charming compared to the previous Bond.

Roger Moore Bond Films

  1. The Man with the Golden Gun
  2. View to a Kill
  3. The Spy Who Loved Me
  4. For Your Eyes Only
  5. Moonraker
  6. Live and Let Die
  7. Octopussy

Without a doubt, The Man with the Golden Gun is my favorite Roger Moore Bond film. Christopher Lee, as Scaramanga, plays one of the best Bond villains as an assassin who kills with a single shot from his eponymous Golden Gun.

He’s driven to prove himself the best assassin in the world by challenging James Bond to a duel. The Man with the Golden Gun is a rare Bond movie with a reasonably dramatic plot. It’s also a great example of how Bond movies regularly use emerging technology, in this case solar energy, as McGuffins in various films.

View to a Kill is a PERFECT Bond movie. It has everything that makes a great Bond movie: A totally insane villain played wonderfully by Christopher Walken, the filigreed setting of Château de Chantilly as the backdrop of a high stakes thoroughbred auction., a devious plot to destroy Silicon Valley, and one FABULOUS Grace Jones as the Amazonian assassin May Day. That doesn’t even cover it’s theme by Duran Duran, one of the best Bond songs of the franchise.

The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only are basically Roger Moore standards. Enjoyable if you like his Bond oeuvre, mostly tolerable.

Moonraker is an interesting entry in the Bond canon as it actually cut ahead of For Your Eyes Only because the producers wanted to capitalize on the success of a little movie called Star Wars.

Live and Let Die is actually a quite enjoyable, but suffers from some racist stereotypes, and the introduction of the Jar Jar Binks of the Bond films, Sheriff Pepper. He is an offensive take on a rural Louisiana sheriff, and the most forgettable character to appear in Bond films.

Finally, we have Octopussy. The name alone is enough to put it at the bottom of this, or any, Bond list. It also features one of the worst Bond girl names, the eponymous Octopussy. It makes most dialogue involving her character cringeworthy.

The Bondium – Sean Connery Film Rankings

The Sean Connery Bond films hold a special place in the world of Bond as they helped build a the foundation for a film franchise of twenty-four movies and growing. However, despite their vaunted status, I feel they do not hold up well over time.

Sean Connery Bond Films Rankings

  1. Dr. No
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. Thunderball
  4. Goldfinger
  5. You Only Live Twice
  6. Diamonds Are Forever

Goldfinger encapsulates how Sean Connery’s films do not hold up over time. While you can chalk it up to the way it was back then, it’s hard to watch James Bond rape Pussy Galore in Goldfinger’s barn about halfway through the movie. Goldfinger also personifies the basest misogynistic tendencies of James Bond. There’s even a point where he almost ditches his mission because a pretty woman passes him on the road.

It’s for that reason I chose Dr. No as the best Sean Connery Bond film. It’s hard to argue against the original. It lays out the Bond formula pitting the suave, sexy secret agent against a maniacal villain bent on world domination.

From Russia With Love is a classic Bond movie. It introduces the infamous Bond nemesis, Ernst Blofeld, sports a ridiculously campy gypsy woman fight scene, and introduces the train as an iconic Bond fight scene backdrop.

Thunderball is, possibly, the first Bond film to introduce exotic locations as part of the Bond canon. This is nothing to say about the names of the villain, Largo, and his yacht, the Disco Volante.

You Only Live Twice suffers from a racist concept of trying to place James Bond undercover as a Japanese fisherman. The ludicrousness of the idea is only surpassed by its execution.

Diamonds Are Forever is the least unwatchable film from the Sean Connery era. It is mostly a footnote as Connery was brought back (in desperation?) after George Lazenby elected not to do another Bond film. It lacks any substance, but does claim the title of the best Bond Girl names in the entire franchise; Tiffany Case, Plenty O’Toole and Bambi and Thumper.

For my part, Tiffany Case is the most exquisite name of all Bond Girls. It’s a shame her character and the movie were so forgettable.

Daniel Craig Bond Films

  1. Skyfall
  2. Casino Royale
  3. Spectre
  4. Quantum of Solace

Top 007 Bond Films

  1. Skyfall
  2. Casino Royale
  3. Dr. No
  4. Spectre
  5. Goldeneye
  6. The Man With the Golden Gun
  7. Tomorrow Never Dies

Top 007 Bond Villains

  1. Blofeld (Multiple Films)
  2. Mr. Silver (Skyfall)
  3. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
  4. Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
  5. Elektra King (The World is Not Enough)
  6. Dr. No
  7. Elliot Carver

Top 007 Bond Girls

  1. M (Multiple Films)
  2. Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)
  3. Tracy (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
  4. Money Penny (Multiple Films)
  5. Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
  6. Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)
  7. May Day (View to a Kill)

Top 007 Bond Songs

  1. Skyfall
  2. Writing’s On the Wall
  3. Diamonds Are Forever
  4. Nobody Does It Better
  5. View to a Kill
  6. Goldeneye
  7. Live and Let Die

Top 007 Bond Cars

  1. Aston Martin (Multiple Films)
  2. Lotus
  3. Scaramanga’s Flying Car (Man With the Golden Gun)

Top 007 Bond Gadgets

  1. Watch
  2. Pen (Goldeneye)
  3. Briefcase (From Russia with Love)
  4. Radio Transmitter
  5. BMW Remote (Tomorrow Never Dies)

Q Branch

M-sights

Where Do We Go From Here?

We’re at the crossroads, my dear
Where do we go from here?

After Imelda, I’m afraid we have to start having a serious conversation about the future of Houston.

Look at this list:

  • Memorial Day Flood – May 2015
  • Tax Day Flood – April 2016
  • Hurricane Harvey – August 2017
  • Tropical Storm Imelda – September 2019

Catastrophic floods are coming to Houston at an unprecedented clip, and it’s only a matter of time before parts of city will be underwater again.

Maybe you won’t go, maybe you’ll stay
Oh I know I’m gonna miss you either ways
It’s such a lonely road

The Houston Chronicle published an article asking if it’s worth staying in Houston after these floods. Personally, I not sure I would want to stay in Houston if my home flooded during two or more of the events above. The problem is how do you identify the areas that need to be closed permanently, and then how can you force people to stop rebuilding and/or forcing them from their homes.

The easiest way to pick a fight with a Texan is to threaten their land.

Where do we go from here?
All I can do is, follow the tracks of my tears

That is nothing to say of the particularly troubling realities of relocating heavily flooded neighborhoods like Meyerland. Meyerland has long been the proverbial home of Houston’s Jewish community. It has been wrecked by all of the aforementioned floods, and has led to a “loss of faith” within our Jewish communities.

But even if we believe the best solution is to close off large parts of Meyerland, how do we also protect the Jewish community, and everything it does for all Houstonians?

This is only part of the greater conversation about how Houston must respond to future flood events. In the cases of the Memorial and Tax Day floods, it’s not clear there is much that can be done to prepare. However, in the case of tropical storms and hurricanes, I feel it may be necessary to start shutting down the city ahead of such events. I know it may seem ridiculous, and it would most certainly result in the occasional false alarm, but think about the alternative.

I was talking to a friend about Imelda. Her son was trapped, but very safe at his school. She wasn’t worried about him, but she felt an acute anxiety about the idea of not being able to reach her child.

What if things had been worse? What if children had been trapped late into the evening or over night? What about this?

I refuse to believe needlessly keeping children home in the face of a storm threat is worse than putting children in this or similar danger.

It will take considerable thought and consideration, but it needs to happen. After all, putting the safety and well being of our citizens is the most Houstonian act of all.

Where do we go from here?
All I can do is, follow the tracks of my tears

Houston Scared

Today marked the first time I found myself scared by a rain event in Houston.

My first hurricane was Alicia in 1983. I don’t remember much from it except for the stars of duct tape across my bedroom windows, and looking over the destruction wrought upon a neighbor’s weeping willow while the storm’s eye silently passed.

I was spared the devastation of Tropical Storm Allison as I still lived in Sugar Land at that time.

My first true hurricane experience came with Ike. I remember watching the a freight train of rain barrel down the street in front my house. I remember the glow of my phone’s screen as I watched the eye of the storm creep slowly by mere miles from my location. I remember the utter destruction it left in its wake not only in my neighborhood, but all around Houston. I also remember the great outpouring of goodwill from my neighbors, eager to pitch in to help each other in our time of need.

Hurricane Harvey was a different animal altogether. I lost a part of myself after that storm. A part I have yet to get back or replace. Like many Houstonians, I am permanently scarred by that storm.

All that said, Imelda may be the scariest weather event of them all.

First, we must look at her development. Within a matter of hours, she went from an investigative area (invest) to a full blown tropical storm. Forecasters knew there was a likelihood for rain, but nothing near a tropical storm.

Eerily like her sister Allison, Imelda quietly entered the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast Tuesday afternoon, dumping a moderate, yet manageable, amount of rain. Houston, it seemed, had been spared the worst as Imelda slowly moved eastward. By Wednesday afternoon, things were looking up in Houston while a terrible picture started developing eastward. Still, Imelda lashed out at Houston that afternoon with a torrential downpour. Nevertheless, it did seem the worst has certainly passed.

Then came Thursday morning. Imelda became the petulant middle child between Allison and Harvey, throwing an absolute fit with the seventh largest rain event in U.S. history. This after losing Tropical Storm status almost immediately after making landfall in Texas.

Allison and Imelda are twin sisters of sorts. Two tropical storms whose greatest performances came AFTER we thought them gone. Imelda is the scarier sister as she literally came out of nowhere. At least Allison was polite enough to let her know she was coming to dinner, though she did come back after dessert to wreck the dining room.

I don’t know where that leaves us today, dear friends. It’s clear to me Houston is a dangerous place to live. In all this talk of storms, I didn’t even mention the Memorial and Tax Day floods.

I guess you could look at Imelda as the demon spawn of Tropical Storm Allison and those floods.

Flooding is a new reality in Houston, and that scares me because it seems Mother Nature has made a game of trying a new area of Houston to flood each year. While evidence isn’t conclusive on these events being linked to climate change, it is almost certain some kind of connection exists, and will only get worse.

Indeed, Houston has been the site of how many 100-500 year floods in the last four years? As we limp towards the next election in a few weeks, it’s important to see how our city leaders plan to address this unpredictable, yet frequent, threat.

It’s also a time to put aside pettiness and hate to realize we are all in this together, and we won’t make it through this or the next event without each other. Take care of your Houston, it’s going to need it.