2010 Eagles UniDictions – Week 3 – Jaguars

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OK.  Let me first apologize for all of you saw  my successful week 1 Unidiction and took the week 2 numbers to Vegas.  I told you my system only went to 28 — and was based on nothing other than uniforms.  If anything would be the sign that you have a problem, betting based solely on uniforms is definitely it.

Speaking of problems… Andy Reid totally destroyed my witty intro to this week’s column.  I even had an epic, dog-based pun.

On to the uniforms… according to Uniwatch (as well as my keen eye for research), the Jaguars generally eschew the tradition of “warm weather” teams wearing white at home during September/October, and go right for the teal jerseys.  So, the Eagles are in White over Midnight Green for the second week in a row.

As you’ll see below, I’m no fan of the current Jaguars uniforms, but a big, big fan of their previous (pre-2009) look.  Specifically, the alternate combination of Teal Jersey over Black Pants was one of the best looks seen in the NFL.  Unexpected color combination (teal and gold), no superfluous details, a unique, but reasonable typeface for the numbers…you name it, it had everything.  The full story of the unveiling of the current uniform can be found at the Uni Watch Blog, but what’s notable is that the new uniforms are meant to establish a firmer brand identity than the (admittedly bordering on excessive) numerous previous options.  Of course, when a team doesn’t have an “identity of winning” (and the fanbase which grows around that winning…unless you’re the Tampa Bay Rays), deciding that the uniforms are the reason for the “identity” issues is much easier than developing a team  which is successful on the field.

A quick note about all those combinations: I’m generally pretty tolerant of the “monochrome” football look (Redskins, Seahawks, Texans, etc…by the way, this is a great page about the Seahawks uniforms), but I will admit I take issue with the black/black combination because black is in practically every team’s color scheme to some degree, so it shouldn’t/can’t be the only color worn on a given Sunday (sort of serving as the opposite of a unique identifier).  I’d like to think I have a pretty keen eye for this stuff, but I even almost linked to a picture of a Ravens player wearing black over black until I saw that his helmet did not have a jaguar on it.

The UniDiction

Either 2, 3, 6, or 7 points awarded for each category (safety, field goal, touchdown, touchdown+point after, of course)

Helmet

Eagles: 7 — Same as always.  Definitely one of the best helmet designs in the league.

Jaguars: 1 — The concept of the logo works, but did you ever notice that the spots on the jaguar are actually kind of life-like, and not just plain dots?  Did anyone ever notice?  Nope.  The detail is too small.  There’s something to be said for designing something so people who care see the “little things,” but, that’s taking the expression too literally.  If someone from the Jaguars PR department were reading this, he or she would recommend I mention the fact that there’s flip paint on the helmet, showing green in some light and black in other light, but looking through game pictures online, it always looks black (in fairness, the bright spot in the main picture above looks greenish) .  Maybe I’ll update this after watching the game in HD on Sunday.  The odd black+white stroke along the torso of the players is an odd framing device.  I guess it’s to add shape to the players…. because, obviously, football players are like obscure professional wrestlers from the early 90’s who had muscles drawn their clothing

Jersey

Eagles: 6 — Again, same as last week.  This jersey doesn’t say “Eagles” the same way that the green jerseys do, but they have all the details right.

Jaguars: 2 — It’s like they took the old color and turned down the saturation slider.   Of all the questionable changes, why modify the shade of teal?  It looks like “Honolulu Blue,” another lost between two other shades.

Pants + Socks

Eagles: 3 — I like them less this week, I’m not sure why.  For some reason, I’m thinking the white over white would be a better look.

Jaguars: 2 — I am no fan of those weird, partial swoops/stripes on the side of the pants.  It’s not that they’re ugly, it’s that they make the pants look unfinished.  Another broken detail compared to their previous uniforms.  Like the Eagles, the socks are a simple black over white; no harm, no foul.

 Intangibles

Eagles: 3 — Like I mentioned in the Pants section above, the White over Green combination didn’t do much for me last week.  Maybe it was just due to the way the colors contrasted with the Lions’ uniforms… I’m not sure.

Jaguars: 1 — They took something good and broke it.  End of story.  The current White over Black is an improvement, but they’re not wearing them this week.

Final Score

Eagles 19

Jaguars 6

In terms of trivia, here’s a look at the original design for the Jaguars uniforms in the 90s which did not survive a lawsuit from Jaguar, the car company.  (and, unique as the jersey was, was kind of ugly)

*½

It’s the Eagles’ weaker uniform combination vs. a just plain old sad uniform; this won’t be a good week for Eagles aesthetics.

2010 Eagles UniDictions (uniform + predictions) – Week 2 – Lions

  Overview

A lot of stories coming out of last week’s season opener against the Packers.  Injuries, a quarterback conundrum (don’t call it a controversy!), and what turned out to be a pretty good uniform match-up.  The 1960 throwbacks, which I publicly gave a “meh” opinion, actually worked quite well on the field.  And oh yeah…my first UniDiction: Packers 26, Eagles 18.  Actual score: Packers 27, Eagles 20.  I’m going to count this as a win for my “system.”

The Lions have only worn white at home twice in their (documented?) history, so it’s safe to assume they’ll be wearing their Blue over Silver uniform, not White over Silver, which puts the Eagles in the White over Midnight Green combination.  Wikipedia says  The Lions  have a throwback uniform in their repertoire, but looking through pictures of each game last season, they haven’t been worn since the  the 2009 uniform/logo update, and let’s be honest, if they’re worn this year, they’ll save them for the Packers or Bears.

There are no “uniform stories” this week (do brain injuries count as “uniform stories” because a helmet is involved?  hmm…no.  no they do not), so let’s get right to the for the full breakdown after the jump.

The UniDiction

Either 2, 3, 6, or 7 points awarded for each category (safety, field goal, touchdown, touchdown+point after, of course)

Helmet

Eagles: 7 — Metallic Midnight Green, Nicely detailed wings with the silver pattern, black then white double-stroke really makes the design pop.  The helmet is definitely the strongest visual identifier for the Eagles.

Lions: 2 — The Lions’ logo is, and has always been “blah,” even though though the 2009 refresh specifically tried to address this.  Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the Lions’ color scheme, so nicely proportioned stripes aside, the Silver+Blue+Black+White aren’t making up for the dullness of the logo.

Jersey

Eagles: 6 — Finally some stripes after last week’s throwbacks!  The green jersey is the one in the Eagles fan’s mind’s eye, but there’s nothing wrong with the white one.  Check out this picture of Kevin Kolb from last week’s game.  Based on the fans, it would appear that the Black, Midnight Green, and Kelly Green jerseys are much more popular than the White jerseys.

Lions: 2 — Supposedly the blue is officially called “Honolulu Blue.”  It can be bought as a real-deal paint color, so I guess it’s a real color.  (example: Kelly Green is a real color, Midnight Green was created by marketers).  But Honolulu Blue.  It’s like the Color Train was between the baby blue and Yale stations, so decided to choose neither.

Pants + Socks

Eagles: 6 — The stripes on the pants, at first glance, appear to be Black/White/Black, but there’s a neat detail hiding there.  The “back” stripe is actually dark grey, not black.  The solid black and white sanitaries and socks…plain, but they work without turning the whole combination into stripezilla.

Eagles: 6 — Compared to the normal Green over White combination, these are just lacking…something.  BUT, the Eagles do have one of the best looks in the league, effectively mixing the traditional and the modern without looking like an over-financed high school team.

Lions: 3 — I can’t ever fault a team for trying to honor tradition [within reason] (and generally succeeding – as Paul Lukas said last year, they still look like the Lions), but if ever a uniform is exactly the sum of its parts, it’s the Lions in “Honolulu Blue” over Silver.  Actually, their White over Silver isn’t so bad.  And…at least they’re not wearing the amateurish Black over Silver from the pre-2009 uniform set.

Final Score

Eagles 25

Lions 13

**

This week’s match-up gets two stars; the Lions uniform is nothing special, and the game will likely be just as (non-) special, and the Eagles will be wearing their “B” uniform.

2010 Eagles UniDictions (uniform + predictions) – Week 1 – Packers

This has been cross-posted on crossingbroad.com, a great destination for Philadelphia sports news.

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Being that all predictions for the NFL season thus far are based on a combination of  last year’s results and four pre-season games (The NFL Pre-Season — The four weeks when your friends with season tickets slightly regret their purchase!), we might as well base our predictions on something more arbitrary with little bearing on the actual game*.  Uniforms. 

[*I think some coach or player was once quoted as saying “look good, play good,” so creative interpretation of the rules of English grammar aside, I’ll leave it at “little bearing” instead of “no bearing.”] 

 The big news for this game is that the Eagles will be wearing their 1960 throwbacks.  As detailed at great length previously, I don’t like them.  Classic, accurate, but too plain.  The presence of Kelly Green should appease the loud “bring back the Cunningham-era jersey” people who don’t realize that the throwbacks are not the same as the “Cunningham-era” uniforms (white vs. silver paints, Eagle logo on shoulder, stroke around the numbers, helmet wing details, etc.).  So at the minimum, it takes away their ability to complain about the uniforms, giving more time to complain about things that matter.  Like Kevin Kolb.

With the Eagles wearing green jerseys, this puts the Packers in their White Jersey/Yellow Pants combination.  I don’t think it’s the best combination in the NFL (undecided on that one at the moment), but it’s everything the Eagles throwback is….except it’s not boring.  Something as simple as shoulder striping really makes the look of the “classic” NFL uniform template work well (think of the Bears and the Browns).

The UniDiction

Either 2, 3, 6, or 7 points awarded for each category (safety, field goal, touchdown, touchdown+point after, of course)

Helmet

Eagles: 3 — a white (or black) stroke around the wings would really help.  Really, the design looks unfinished.  A plain green helmet, though historically inaccurate, would look better.

Packers: 7 — there’s absolutely nothing I would change

Jersey

Eagles: 2 — Championship aside, this isn’t one of the Eagles’ better looks.  It’s just green with white numbers!

Packers: 6 — missed PAT because their Green jersey + yellow pants combination is one of the defining images of the NFL.

Pants + Socks

Eagles: 6 — the two green stripes on the white pants definitely add something, and the white stripe on the green section of the socks avoids the “endless field of green” effect seen on the jerseys.  That said, one thick vertical stripe would look better on the pants.

Packers: 7 — the contrast-color/white/contrast-color triple stripe on the pants is nice touch, and the two-tone socks (without anything breaking-up the solid color) work because they would look too busy with a stripe, being that there are plenty of stripes elsewhere.

 Intangibles

Eagles: 7 — authenticity counts and the fan base really likes them.

Packers: 6 — Points awarded for using yellow in their color scheme.  Missed PAT due to the management thinking a uniform from an era with completely different equipment would translate to the 21st century.

Final Score

Eagles 18

Packers 26

Hmm… I may need to adjust my scoring system to add up to numbers which look like real “football scores.”  And so it can go above 28… 

Also of interest, UniWatch (Paul Lukas) on Page 2 posted his 2010 overview of all NFL uniform changes yesterday.  Definitely a must read.

****

The match-up itself gets four stars. Both teams will be wearing “classic” uniforms, and both teams’ colors complement each other.

Eagles 2010 Uniform Round-Up – The 1960 Throwback

This has been cross-posted on Crossing Broad, an up-and-coming Philadelphia Sports destination — heck, they’re the ones who broke the story that Dorney Park was the first rehab assignment for Ryan Howard

Lil’ Shebaz: Patriot, Martyr, Wide Receiver.

It’s that time of year – the notable roster additions and subtractions have been discussed, the expected win-loss record has been decided, the newly featured players have had a chance to step up, and the Cowboys fans have been thoroughly bashed.  What’s left?  Well, three interminable pre-season “games,” and lengthy discussions of uniforms.

We’ll be taking a hard look at the Eagles 2010 uniform situation today, then running a week-by-week season preview showcasing each expected match-up.  (the NFL doesn’t have hard and fast “home” and “away” uniform designations like baseball, so there will be some guessing)

The biggest uniform news this season by far is the addition of the 1960 Kelly Green over White Throwback to be worn for 2 (or 3?) games.  Though most fans (this one included) have generally positive opinions of the current “Midnight Green” uniform sets, others clamor for a return to the Kelly Green, which had been the primary color used from 1948 (or prior?) to 1995.  “They should wear the Cunningham-era jerseys again” was the typical comment, and I think that most people lump all of the Kelly Green designs together (they look almost the same from the beginning to the last ones in 1995), and, well, the Cunningham “era” is the most convenient point of reference for the “old school” look, if only because the Eagles weren’t a particularly great team during his 1987-1994 run, and the McNabb era is associated with the Midnight Green, though it predates him by three seasons.

Of course, the “reason” (beyond additional merchandise revenue — yes, people even bought the yellow and blue monstrosities from 2007) for the throwbacks is to celebrate the 1960 season, so much of the discussion of “this other Kelly Green design would have been better” is rather moot, but words and opinions are free on the Internet, so here comes the soapbox.  Keep in mind this is not a discussion of the authenticity of the throwbacks or how close they got to the classic look; this is all about the look itself.

Simply, the 1960 throwbacks are boring.  Not because they’re “old,” not because they’re “classicly simple,” but because they’re brutally plain.  Look at what the Packers and 49ers can do with the “classic” NFL template.  I don’t need the modern busy-ness of the Bengals, the Bills, or the Broncos, but the jersey is literally just green with white front/back numbers and TV numbers (what numbers on the sleeves are called).  No stripes, no trim, no stroke around the numbers, heck no logo (the Reebok logo doesn’t count) or even Eagles wordmark.  Sure, they’re authentic, but they’re boring, too.  [I don’t think the current uniforms are perfect either; see my comments in future articles.]  Come to think of it, the vaunted “Cunningham-era” jerseys aren’t all that great either; very, very plain, but at least they added an Eagles logo to the sleeves and black stroke around the numbers (on both the green and white jerseys) adds something to it.

The pants and socks are an improvement, with two green strips along the outseam of the white pants, a white belt, then a ~50/50 ratio of white sanitaries over green socks, with a slim white band on the green socks to visually “break” the verdant field.  (triple word score!).

Unfortunately, in the interest of authenticity, the wing detail on the helmet is plain silver.  It lacks both the simple white stroke of the “Cunningham-era” helmets and the more complicated black and white inner and outer stroke of today’s helmets (which also include an arguably excessive silver highlight color to give more definition to the “feathers”).

Ignoring the significance of the 50th anniversary, what were some other, maybe more visually interesting options?

Well, the 2nd most of thought of (in my incredibly unscientific poll of one) Kelly Green uniforms are those funky ones from 1969-1973 with a white helmet with green wings.  (even funkier in 1973 when they had a black stroke around the green wing).  Then there are those “wasn’t disco bad enough” late 70s-early 80s disasters.  Or as I call them Stripezilla 1 and Stripezilla 2, Stripezilla’s Revenge.  Or, they could’ve done something practically sacrilegious and just replaced Midnight Green on the current uniforms with Kelly Green and swapped in the silver pants of the “Cunningham-era” (file by Jeff Shirley from a uniwatchblog.com uniform tweak round-up).

Look for future articles about uniforms as the season approaches, then a weekly uniform-centric overview of each upcoming game.  Until then, enjoy the Eagles in their white over white combo, a look which is unique to their pre-season games.

**½

The 1960 Eagles Throwback gets two-and-a-half indecisive stars. It’s nice to see the Kelly Green on the field, but it’s definitely not the best version, even if executed exactly.

The 2008 Phillies Alternate Uniforms

The Phillies have been one of the few teams to not have alternate uniforms in the last 15 years; the White Sox have their solid black jerseys, the Diamondbacks have their solid red and solid black, and on and on throughout the league. The Phillies have had an alternate hat the last few years, but it’s only worn during the three weeks of interleague games.

alternates

For 2008, the Phillies will have a third uniform which will hopefully go over better than their 1979 “Saturday Night Specials” which were worn only once. Basically, the new uniform is the home uniform minus the pin-stripes (and the right arm number) plus a new hat inspired by the 1946 design (the modern “P” is slightly different). Well, in terms of being really picky, the vertical strip on each pant leg is blue-red-blue with the normal home uniforms missing the stripe (would look too busy with the pinstripes) and the current away uniforms having white-red-white stripes on the outside of each pant leg. Notice the blue stroke around all of the copy, the blue-red-blue at the edge of each sleeve and neck as well. These details are reminiscent of the late 90’s Blue Jays uniforms.

The verdict? I like them – I’ve always been a fan of the ill-fated, solid blue alternate hats worn for about a month in 1994 because the 1993+ uniforms have always been very, very red, with no other colors except the blue stars dotting the “i’s” and the blue button on top of the hat. Blue’s seen in the batting practice jerseys and hats, but they’re definitely not the image of the team. I would prefer the brim to be solid blue to match the rest of the hat instead of being red, but it is an obvious throwback to the hats of the late 40’s. (I think a better choice would be solid blue with the stylized logo of the current alternate hats but with a white “P” and red star to create a disturbingly complete symmetry between the home and alternate hats, but oh well – that combination would probably be a bit much, if not unnecessary.)

****

I guess it comes down to whether these new alternate uniforms are more interesting than the 70’s/80’s maroon design. The Brewers wear their wildly popular 80’s uniforms on Friday night home games, and I’m sure that lots of Phillies fans would like them to do the same, but let’s leave those for turn-back-the-clock games instead of being a normal part of the rotation. The 2008 Phillies Alternate Uniforms get four stars: they’re obviously not a risky choice, and I’m sure lots of people will buy a replica when they’re available, so good work to the design team responsble for not copping out and settling on just a solid red jersey with white pants to match pretty much every other team in the league.

If you’re at all interested in uniform-related stuff, be sure to check out http://uniwatchblog.com, a daily-updated blog on the topic.

Empty Bookshelf’s First 100 Reviews


Oh, those kids. Always at it. You guys really shouldn’t’ve.

So here we are at the first of what may be a few reviews of our first milestone, 100 reviews. Not only is this the first review of this milestone, but of what could be very many milestones. We here at the Bookshelf like the word “milestone“, and don’t believe in Thesauruses. So here we go, our first hundred in a nutshell.

The first actual review happened way back in October of 2005… remember that time before the Steelers won the superbowl, before “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, before Dick Cheny accidentally shot his friend while hunting, and before Bristol, United Kingdom celebrated the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (actually April 9) by relighting the Clifton Suspension Bridge?

Dan’s first review was aimed at complaining about post-game hype surrounding an extremely long baseball game. Of course our readers probably care about boring Astros-Braves baseball games as much as they seemed to care about my terrible review of the dictionary. Even though that picture was good, it was nowhere near the five star quality of this image. I too tried my hand at reviewing food, but it was an utter failure. On the plus side, my review of the letter to the editor is one of my favorites, and my first review actually got eight comments, including this link. The few following that grilled chese review focused mostly on music, my opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”, a particular episode of Trading Spouses, and Dan’s opinion of My opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”. Dan also said that the Colbert report wouldn’t last, which seems to have been proven false.

October seemed to be us finding our footing.
***

November saw Dan’s Cleveland Trifecta, a diatribe against horses, a road that he liked, an episode of “Coach“, and his complaints about how much he aches, now that he’s an old man. I started the month strong with the Beth review, but struggled through the rest of it, with lame reviews like Thursday, a type of tooth”paste” that doesn’t work for me, and an insightful, yet completely unnecessary complaint about my nosebleeds. My FAO Schwarz review kinda made up for them, but the highlight of the month involved Dan and I sparring about how Christmas is coming earlier every year, and something about me being a time-traveling sheep.

November didn’t see much improvement over October, but the Christmas stuff was entertaining.
***½

December got a bit better, even with a few less reviews. I busted out the old NES games, for a few reviews that I swear are not trying to copy off of XE, another personal favorite, Christmas Cards, Adam’s first review, Dan throwing the hate down on Pitchfork media, and a suprising amount of people commenting on Roger Ebert’s take on video games. The biggest advance in December was the pop-ins, that added added some clarity to our parentheses-obsessed-writing.

December was a highly engaging and entertaining month, even with only nine reviews.
****½

2006 rolled around, and January saw Dan get political, review half of a book, not like warm winters a lot. I only contributed three of ten reviews that month, but all three of them were relatively alright, mostly because “Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego“, and “The Simpsons” after season 9 is so easy to complain about.

January’s topics fell off a little.
***½

February, while being the shortest month, was also a monster for us, as far as number goes. A whopping twenty-one reviews. To be fair, 17 of them came in our envelope-pushing live superbowl reviews, the biggest stunt pulled in the history of reviewing anything and everything on a five star scale. The only other reviews of any substance were my Gauntlet Review of the Beatles albums, and Dan’s digging up of our one-issue underground high-school newspaper.

Despite the big stunt, and two good reviews, February was kinda lacking.
**½

March just plain sucked. Four reviews total. One by me. Three megareviews by Dan.

½

April was slightly better, with another of my top five of my reviews, Legacy of the Wizard. The other four I would give an average of 3 stars to, but since there were only four during the month, that’s going to cancel out the Legacy of the Wizard bonus and take it down a half star.

**½

For my money, May was our best month yet. Dan’s contribution was the lengthy three-part TV landscape review. I threw out quality stuff with my Songs for Silverman, and Degree Navigator reviews. The shorter American Dreamz and Davinci Code video game reviews were serviceable, but my immense LOST season 2 review tops everything.

*****

June fell off a bit. Four reviews total. Split two and two. Mine were based on a ridiculous news story, and anger at other people for coincidentally coming up with the same ideas as me. Dan tried to put everything into perspective by seeing how well the entire history of human ingenuity and artistry stacked up in the interstellar community, and complained a little about how the national geography of roadways isn’t designed to suit his needs.

**

July was filled with the (I gotta admit my ignorance as to the relevance of this phrase… and wikipedia does nothing to help) Navel Gazing set. I was had for a few minutes by a Jimmy Kimmel hoax, and I thought the critics were a little too harsh on Shayamalan. Despite the mediocre numbers for the month, I’d give it a 3.5

***½

This gives us a per-month average of 3 stars, which isn’t too shabby.

In my first ever review, I reviewed the concept of this website. I claimed that we wouldn’t be able to keep it fresh, that we’d run out of ideas, and that we wouldn’t be able to stay somewhat funny at least. I believe my exact quote was “It has the potential to provide hours of entertainment for readers, and shape their lives for years to come. However, the downside is that it could get old real soon, and provide us with nothing but an excuse not to get real jobs.”

Well, I think we’ve significantly proven wrong every single point that I just brought up. We have 29 categories, 19 subcategories, and even two sub-sub categories. We’re still writing about reasonably different things, and while we may have slacked on the funny in recent months, we still bring the ‘A’ game on occasion. As far as my quote goes, I’d be willing to bet that we’ve provided maybe a few hours of entertainment for a handful of people, which probably did nothing to shape their lives for even the near fututre. On the upside, it hasn’t gotten old, and we have gotten real-ish jobs.

For all of these reasons, I’m willing to up our star rating by half a star, over the average rating of 3. I’ve also realized that my method of calculating the rating might not be the best, so I’m gonna throw in another half star for a final rating of 4 stars out of five.

****

And for those of you playing along at home, yes, this technically is the 100th review and so therefore should be included. This review receives 3 stars for not having much to offer in the way of witty musings, and for having a faulty overall rating method, but for packing so many subjects and links into one review.

***

Navel Gazing Part 2: Sneakers as Temporal Landmarks

Now that is a triple-word-score $5 title!(all ridiculousness aside, stick with me, I’ll explain what I mean by that later. I really couldn’t think of a more condensed name for the concept.)

Those that know me and read the website (I’d wager the two are almost mutually exclusive — except for the ragtag bunch of misfits that Nate drags in) know that my Youth was marked by complete, abnormal interest in a variety of subjects. I’m not sure of the exact order, but it went something like this: dinosaurs, space, birds, Star Wars, airliners, fighter jets, and what I’ve sort of landed on now, computers and cars. That’s all well and good as it could be, and until very recently (yesterday, to be exact), I thought these phases were the be all and end all of “where I was” at a particular time, the landmarks (or buoys) on to which everything in my past had been tied. As in, when I’d page through my old, binding-suffering-because-of-overuse copy of Audubon’s Field Guide to North American Birds (1994 edition, of course), I’d remember X, Y, Z that happened around that time. Same thing when looking through my old space books, the binders I put together about airplanes, my dinosaur toys, etc, etc. I had thought that those were it for “way back when.” I think the reason for thinking in these terms is that each stage stands alone as a very discrete point in time. I can’t put my finger on exactly when I was interested in airplanes, but it was after such-and-such and before other such-and-such. Obviously, this isn’t how life goes, it’s rare for there to be a finite and complete “end” to something. Sure, I still remember bits and pieces from each “stage,” but I’m not usually adding more to whatever it is that I know and remember about each. I hadn’t put much thought to it, but these academic pursuits really only have memories about the particular subject associated with them: sitting in the cold, convincing myself that I was always just one more roll of film away from taking a picture good enough for Birder’s World with my crappy camera, and on and on. That’s the sort of thing I remember when I look through my old bird books. That’s all well and good, but as I’m looking at it now, I must not have been a very interesting kid, only remembering things related to these rather niche interests. So that leads us into yesterday.

aj12
Oh, the memories. Sort of.

I have a bit of a soft spot for sneakers; my Oakley Twitch review might’ve shown that, but being that I limit my purchases to the shoe in question, it’s quite under control. Recently, the Nike Free 5.0‘s have intrigued me. I have one pair of what I’ll call not-sitting-around sneakers, so I definitely don’t need these new sneakers, but I think they look nifty, and having tried them on, they’re very comfortable in their own, unique way (just like Nike would have you believe). So, this sneaker-centric internet browsing led to a corner of the internet I knew existed but didn’t realize quite how serious they were. The sneakerheads/shoeheads. All things considered, that’s fine. There’s no better place than the internet to complain about how “Nike’s reissue strategy really screws over the collectors because they claim a colorway will be limited, then change the packaging and sell it to everyone.” God bless the internet. Anyway. All this led me to this exact page, a history of all the Air Jordans. At first, there’s little significance there, I’ve never owned a pair of Air Jordans, they were way out of what my mom decided my sneaker price range was and by the time I was buying sneakers myself, they were still way too expensive, and more importantly, I wasn’t really into basketball sneakers anymore. But where this comes together is how big a deal sneakers were for elementary and middle school boys (that’s not a universal thing, but consider it a blanket statement). Looking through the list of Air Jordan’s, the first ones I remember as being “the new ones” were the Air Jordan 5’s, released in 1990. I was 8, but I can remember who the first person I knew that had them and how much I wanted them. I remember seeing the kids wear them for intramural basketball games at the East Side Youth Center, and on and on. And these aren’t people or things I’ve even thought of since then, way back in 1990. Oddly enough, going through the rest of the Air Jordan’s up until 1996’s Air Jordan 12. I had no intention of purchasing a pair then or now, but I remember talking about the new colors that would come out every month or so with my more athletic-minded friends at the time, many people I hadn’t thought about since then (until randomly looking at pictures of sneakers online), and oddly enough, the first time I really thought about the interior details of my middle school, something I thought I had forgotten since the day of my 8th grade “graduation.”

It goes on and on, looking at any of the high profile sneakers from 1990-1997, lots of stuff I didn’t realize I remembered. But it ends there in 1996/1997. Sneakers after that don’t elicit anything. I thought about it for a while, and I realized why. That’s when simple things like sneakers were phased out by a more serious interest in music. Like anyone “young,” I had always enjoyed TV, movies, and Top 40 radio, but around 1996/1997 (14 or so years old) most everyone has had a couple serious years acquiring his or her own personal taste in music. Before that point, oddly enough, sneakers provide those “temporal landmarks,” but after that time, it’s really music that reminds me in that same way. Of course it’s not just music, there are all sorts of “touch points for memories:” textures, smells/scents, pretty much anything, even the way a Chevrolet Lumina’s steering wheel feels. But none of this is news to anyone, we’re all simply interested in different things at different times in our lives. I had sneakers, but I’m sure other guys (and girls) have video game “sponsored” memories (I have some of those, mainly from being at friends’ houses, what with my mom associating video games with some sort of figurative devil) or memories when you find a Goosebumps book in the basement of your house.

***½

Navel Gazing Part 2: Sneakers as Temporal Landmarks receives three-and-a-half stars due to its main point’s obviousness as the review went on. The hyper-ambitious title perhaps hinted at possibilities left unanswered and avenues unexplored. Also, I’m a firm believer in sneakers being the ultimate artifact of contemporary design for point in time (heck, look at that Air Jordan overview, and see how the shoes from the early 90’s, with their neon colors, which were the new hotness™ way back when — my goal for the too many pairs of Oakley shoes I have is that they’ll be a bit more long-lasting in terms of style), and I’ve not touched on that concept one bit above.

Oakley Twitch

Plenty of pictures here

Here’s a bit of a different topic for review: sneakers. I’m not sure if it’s a bit of a vain topic (what are we going to review next, Seersucker Suits?!), but I’m pretty enthusiastic about this particular pair of footal (it’s a word as far as I’m concerned) accessories. I’m sure most everyone else doesn’t care about it, so stop reading here if you want.

If somehow you’ve ended up on this page after searching for something as inconsequential as this sneaker, please use the comments to correct any of the color, material, etc., etc. information contained in the review. For example, I’m not sure if “Brown” and “Dark Brown” are two different colorways or not.The colorways are officially “Dark Brown” and “Brown/Tan.”

twitch
I feel liked a kid in a…shoe store.

History for history’s sake: Oakley’s best known for their aggressively styled sunglasses and “extreme sports” gear. There’s something to be said about designing a functional, fashionable product that still stands today as functional and, even more mind-bogglingly, fashionable today, and their M-frame sunglass product has been around since at least 1993 is testament to their industrial designers’ and product engineers’ abilities. I had known for a long while that Oakley made sneakers though they were always a niche product: few people wore/owned them, but they were (and are) one of the few brands which makes entirely black and entirely white sneakers. That doesn’t sound very significant, but think of how many all-black sneakers you’ve seen. Sure, there are plenty of all-black shoes, but not athletic sneakers. I’ve seen cooks, chefs, and that guy who thinks there just might be a pickup basketball game after church and he’d better have appropriate footwear (the all-black Oakley sneakers), if only because they’re the only game in town for that tiny niche of needing to look appropriate in church and on a basketball court.

Jump forward some number of years later, and as I was doing research for a project for a friction class in college in early 2004, I came across a picture and review of the Oakley Twitch. Unfortunately, the website, kicksology.net, was “retired,” the article no longer available, even to the WaybackMachine and Google’s cache. Finding no other review (or even much discussion) online, I guess that makes me the official messenger, as the sneaker as been discontinued, so even Oakley’s website doesn’t mention it. The image of the shoe so impressed me that I decided I was going to buy a pair ASAP (there are few products (or “anythings” really) of any sort that move me in a such a way. Knowing that Oakley shoes were hard to come by, I vaguely remembered that Amateur Athlete (in the Westgate Mall in Bethlehem, PA — tagline: “Westgate Mall, The Mall Time Forgot!”) carried the Oakley brand and hoped they stocked the particular sneaker. My second day home for spring break, I visited the store to find that not only did they have the model, they had it in my, not rare, but infrequent size, 13. I’ll go into colors and details later, but they had the “Storm” colorway with the awkward but endearing rubber Lip feature (or it a Nose). Truth be told, I was hoping they’d have the same sneaker from the kicksology review, the Brown-Tan colorway with Lip/Nose, but it was close enough.

The sneaker: at risk of being labelled “superficial,” I’ll address the comfort, etc. issues first. From 7th grade (1996ish) until I bought my first pair of Twitch sneakers (spring 2004), I wore “skater” shoes. In simplest terms, I never skateboarded (or “shredded”, “grinded”, or “thrashed”), but I liked how that “genre” of sneaker looked. I was reasonably active, but not particularly athletic, though I purchased sneakers specifically for tennis and church-league basketball because skateboarding shoes, while comfortable, have incredibly flat soles, thick tongues to pad your foot during “sick” tricks, and literally weigh about a ton (each). As detailed above, my first experience with the Twitch was at Amateur Athlete in the Westgate Mall, and my first impression was that my various sneakers from the past 6+ years were heavy. It wasn’t like wearing nothing, but it was quite the improvement. The soles were just as flat as the skateboarding shoes, but that didn’t stop me from losing plenty of intramural football and softball games with them. The not-excessively-padded tongue made the sneakers feel a bit more “connected” to my feet, as with the padded tongue, it felt as if my feet sort of “floated” in the sneaker. Generally and specifically, very, very comfortable, but it’s rare that someone would buy shoes if they were not comfortable (note: women are excluded from that generalization). *Note: the sockliner (insole(?)) varies per pair. One had little arch support while another pair was more accomodating.*

Simply, these are pretty much the coolest looking shoes ever. Oakley made them in a wide variety of colorways, and even had two varieties of the shoe going at once. Twitch sneakers are generally either designated as either normal (no special label, just “Twitch”) or “Noseless” (also called “Twitch NL”) which refers to the bumper on the, well, nose (actually called “toebox”) of the sneaker, which, to 2006 Dan, had very little functional purpose, but, to 2011 Dan, has shown to be invaluable for avoiding scuffing at this very sensitive area on the versions with smooth leather or suede instead of rough suede. with little functional purpose (other than to avoid some scuffing) . But function or not, it does add a curious aesthetic detail that brings the visual area of the rubber into the leather body of the shoe. This visual melding of two different functional aspects of the shoe (body and outsole) is rare in non-specialized sports shoes/sneakers. [2011 note: I sounded awfully confident in this absolutely made-up “fact”] “NL” versions of the sneaker look a bit more “serious” as there is nothing eye-catching about the toe-box when it’s plain leather. Also, if I consider my online pursuit of the sneakers to be formal research, the “Nosed”/Normal varieties are decidedly rarer than the NL variants. I’m not sure why it’s “Lip” and “Noseless” instead of “Nose” and “Noseless,” but being that the internet is my primary source for this, there’s plenty of room for it to be all wrong. I’m basing this on searching for the shoes from 2004-2007 on the secondary market, as production stopped in 2003 (I think), then even liquidators’ supplies dried up by 2007 or so. The last pair I bought was a second instance of the Storm Normal/Nose version [which, coincidentally, I’m wearing as we speak.]

A tour of the shoe: the outsole has an aggressive pattern than looks as if it were constructed by taking numerous pieces of rubber, and arranging them on the sole. What makes the outsole different is that it, like the “lip,” extends onto the instep and outstep of the sneaker, again visually mixing different functional parts of the sneaker. It looks aggressive without the “my sneaker can beat-up your sneaker” look of some sports sneakers. As the previous pictures have shown, the body of the shoe isn’t over-the-top, but it’s still eye-catching.

Onto the colorways:
First and foremost, I’ll say that I prefer the Normal/”Nose” variety, but being that those are as tough to even find pictures of online, I won’t make a distinction. I’ll start with the three pairs that I own (most of these pictures were found online, not taken by me. You’ll definitely be able to tell which ones are of shoes I own/have worn.).

  • Storm (Blue, Light Blue, Blue is rough suede, light blue is smooth suede) — first pair purchased. This colorway lends itself a “sporty” but not particularly “athletic” look. Light-colored rubber with white mid-sole.
  • Tan/Honey (both leather) — Second pair purchased (as of today [2006], haven’t yet made the yearly sneaker rotation). More “serious” looking. Black rubber with black mid-sole (exclusive to this colorway). Frequently found at Overstock.com. I don’t think this colorway is available with the nose/lip. These shoes got beat-up especially quickly because of the tenderness of the leather and lack of the rubber nose.
  • Dark Brown (Brown/Light Brown*leather/suede) — Third pair purchased; at least one year away from becoming rotated in. “serious” looking. Almost “dressy.” Brown rubber with brown mid-sole. I do not believe this colorway exists in a nose/lip variety. 2011 comment: I wear these very rarely because the leather is so sensitive to scratches.
  • Oatmeal (Black and Off-white) — Sort of silly looking. Relatively common on ebay [in 2006]. Black rubber with white mid-sole. With the nose they look a bit less silly; I found a pair with the nose on eBay for the right price.
  • Ocean (Navy Blue/Light Blue) — Good mix of colors. Sometimes found in random sizes through Froogle.com [2011: remember Froogle?!]. Black rubber with gray mid-sole. I do not believe this colorway can be had with the nose.
  • Cement/Navy (White/Navy) — Most “athletic” looking of all colorways. Almost looks like a cross-trainer type sneaker. Only able to find one picture in the billions of pages Google indexes. Some have shown up on eBay and I’ve found more pictures. Dark blue rubber with gray mid-sole (blue rubber exclusive to this colorway). Here’s one without the nose.
  • Red/Tan — bright “casual” look. Frequently on eBay (but never in the right size. Brown rubber with tan mid-sole. I’ve never seen this colorway with the nose.

Well, I think that might be the most thorough discussion of that topic since the design of the shoe within Oakley.
*****

The Oakley Twitch receives 5 big stars for being impossibly cool-looking and all sorts of comfortable as well. Sure, some of the colorways aren’t that appealing (I’m looking at you, “Oatmeal”), but the successful varieties create a sneaker that doesn’t look out of place at events where sneakers aren’t normally allowed. The fact that Oakley discontinued the sneaker doesn’t help or harm its rating; I’m sure that if the designer were to have things his or her way, it’d still be widely available. Really, if you come across a pair of size 13US Oakley Twitch sneakers, buy them, no matter what color they are. I’ll pay you back. (Um, if anyone actually takes me up on this offer, let’s set a limit of $50 for the sneakers.) The Coil Over, Flinch, and Coil are similar in design to the Twitch, and being that the Coil Over is my current sneaker (its year is up in April), I can assure you that it’s not the same.