Friday, March 30, 2007

Baseball! Baseball! Baseball! (Correction)

On second thought I'm changing my AL Central predicition to the Indians. The Indians will beat the Yankees in the ALDS and then lose to the Red Sox in the ALCS. This will reinforce the Red Sox as the second most hated team in baseball.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Baseball! Baseball! Baseball!

It's that time again kids. Spring is in the air. Soon the smell of fresh cut grass, pine tar, and chewing tobacco will fill the air. Uniforms have been pressed. Rosters have been set. HGH has been injected. Baseball season is a few days away, and that means it's time for my preseason analysis of the Cubs and predictions for all of baseball. If you've actually read past the post title then that must mean your name is Bob. Enjoy.

2007 Cubs

Last we left my Cubs at the end of the '06 season they were 66-96. Yes, they were only four losses away from the magical number of 100. What went wrong last year? It'd be easier to ask what went right, but will stick with the long list.

The first thing that went wrong was the Cubs once again relied on a healthy Mark Prior and Kerry Wood to pitch. Second, All-Star and MVP runner-up Derek Lee missed over a 110 games with a broken wrist. I actually had the pleasure to be at the game with Lee broke his wrist. Third, Ramirez couldn't take the pressure of being the lone RBI guy and has an awful first half of the season. Once the Cubs were out of it, he tore it up. Fourth, Cubs' closer Dempster went into a tail spin the last half of the season by blowing 9 games. The only real positive is that Rich Hill pitched really well the second half of the season.

This season we have an all new and improved Cubs. President McPhail resigned, and the Cubs marketing guy was hired to take his place. Dusty Baker was released and Lou Pinella was hired as the next manager with a good track record that will be ruined by managing the Cubs. GM Hendry some how kept his job, and realizing that he needed to do something to keep it for next season he spent almost $300 million dollars on free agents. So what kind of team does that leave us with. Let's take a look.

2007 Lineup

Alfonso Soriano, CF
2. Matt Murton, LF
3. Derrek Lee, 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Jacque Jones, RF
6. Michael Barrett, C
7. Mark DeRosa, 2B
8. Cesar Izturis, SS
9. Pitcher

Offensively the Cubs should have no problem scoring runs. There are three potential 40 HR guys and three potential 20+ HR guys. This team will mash, and DeRosa and Izturis at the bottom of the order aren't automatic outs like those slots have been in previous Cubs' seasons. The big breakthrough player for this year could very well be Matt "The Big Murt" Murton. Batting between Soriano and Lee means he should see a plenty of fastballs. The Big Murt already has shown above average plate discipline and could see a spike in power numbers hitting in the two hole. I hope he does well enough that any previous idea of platooning him with Cliff Floyd will be nixed. Why? Because even with Murton our outfield defense will be awful. This is the year where every Cubs' fan will hold their breath on every fly ball. Errors by our outfield will lose us many a game this season. Let's look at the real suspect portion of the Cubs: pitching

Pitching Rotation

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Ted Lilly
3. Jason Marquis
4. Rich Hill
5. Wade Miller

Look, no Prior or Wood in the rotation. The thing is this year the Cubs started the year not expecting them to contribute. If they somehow end up contributing, it's just gravy. I'm not as sour on this rotation like a lot of people are. Did we spend too much on Lilly? Maybe, I think the contract is certainly too long. I still think he'll thrive this year in NL. He previously pitched in the AL East which can inflate any pitcher's ERA. Well he be great? No, but I'm thinking a 15 win season with a 3.4ish ERA. Zambrano is a stud, and will once again be the ace of the staff. Marquis was a big wild card signing, but I think not pitching for LaRussa will help him this season. Rich Hill I think will turn out to be the second best pitcher on the staff. If he keeps pitching and improving the way he did last season, he should be a solid #2 pitcher. Miller is an arm strain away from Angel Guzman rightfully earning the 5th spot. I think the top four pitchers could all win around 12-15 games particularly with this offense, and in the NL Central that can be good enough. What also helps is that most of these pitchers are work horses and can keep you in the game. That means Pinella won't have to over work his deep bullpen, which fell apart last season due to pitching so much.

So where do I see the Cubs finishing this season? I'm saying an optimistic 2nd place finish. I know most are picking the Cardinals again to win, but they have no outfield, and their pitching is more suspect than people think. The team with the best pitching staff I think is the Brewers, and if they stay healthy and their young positional players improve they should win the NL Central. With that out of the way, time for the rest of my predictions.

AL East: Boston

As always this will come down to the Yankees and Red Sox battling for first place. The Yankees have the better overall lineup by only a little. What will decide this is the pitching. The Yanks opening day starter is going to be Carl Pavano. Carl Pavano! The Yankees pitching will hurt this club which is why I pick the Red Sox to triumph.

AL Central: Detroit

A lot of good teams here. The White Sox's pitching isn't as scary as it once was. Twins won't get the career years it got from its players last year, and pitching rotation becomes suspect after their #2 pitcher. Royals will be improved but still in the basement. Detroit will still be mostly young players. Their pitching should be better. Their relief pitchers are nasty good. They added a very good veteran bat in Sheffield.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

I don't know. It's either the Angels of A's. I tossed a coin and it came up Angels.

AL Wild Card: Yankees

Somehow, even with subpar pitching, the Yankees will make the playoffs. This time as the wild card.

AL Cy Young: Johan Santana

Who else, but the best pitcher in baseball.

AL MVP: Derek Jeter

After this though, his age catches up to him, and it's all a slow decline into mediocrity.

NL East: NY Mets

I was originally going to go with Philly, but I think they will once again collapse at the end of the season. The Mets will probably be in third place by the All-Star break. Then they get Pedro back. The young pitchers at this point should be more comfortable and better than at the beginning of the year. Their lineup once again will score a crap load of runs.

NL Central: Brewers

See above

NL West: LA Dodgers

I'm going Dodgers again because of pitching. Arizona will improve but won't make a run till next year. Padres will be the biggest competition for the Dodgers. Jake Peavy could very well push the Padres over the Dodgers, but that's putting your eggs in one basket.

NL Wild Card: Phillies

It was between the Phillies and the Padres. Both will win around 88 games, so I'm throwing the Philly fans a bone.

NL Cy Young: Ben Sheets

I think this is the year he's completely healthy and proves what he can do by carrying the Brewers into the playoffs. He will then completely fall apart over the next few seasons because of overuse, and torture fantasy baseball owners for years.

NL MVP: Pujols

The writers will hate themselves for picking him as he becomes more and more of an asshole diva.

AL Division Playoffs:

Detroit beats the Yankees
Boston beats the Angels

AL Championship:

Boston beats Detroit

NL Division Playoffs:

Mets beat Dodgers...again.
Brewers beat Phillies.

NL Championship:

Brewers beat Mets in another heart breaking series where every Mets fan will vow to never utter the name Ben Sheets again.

World Series:

Boston beats Brewers in a 7 game series, and the Red Sox will end up the second most hated team in baseball behind the Yankees.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

American Idol Recap (If Gwen Can Mail It In So Can I Edition)

Honestly, I'm still distraught over Stephanie getting the boot last week. That leaves me relying on Gina Jett to not be the loser of our Idol Pool. Gina's track record has left me with absolutely no confidence. I should really seek counseling for- Shit, I can't make that cliche joke anymore. Anyway, on with the show.

Since Gwen Stephanie is clearly never giving more than two sentences of advice, I'm going to try to do the same with the contestants

Big Momma sang Donna Summer's "Last Dance" and showed she gets winded when she walks around stage and sings. Her divaness might actually hurt her in this competition.

Sideshow Chunk massacres "Everything She Does is Magic" in a way that only a few could, and could beat The Indian Barry Gibb for worst performance of the night. I'll let that sink in for awhile.

Gina Jett does well with her rendition of "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders. Could she probably survive this round?

The Indian Barry Gibb "sings" Gwen's own "Bathwater." (That's a really painful sentence) Sideshow Chunk is in trouble, and deserves to go home.

I'm going to go a little longer than planned on Cleavage because I'm changing her nickname again. After this many performances it is clear that Haley is accentuating her legs every time out now. The cameramen have even gotten in on it. It's all short skirts and the batting of eye lashes. She sings "True Colors" in her thin voice, and gets a passable grade. She's kind of growing on me. Yeah it's probably her legs.

Midnight Oil performs the creepy stalker song often confused as a love song "Every Breath You Take." Solid performance for him, but also very creepy.

Keeping in the what ever you sing I can sing better, Bobblehead does Donna Summer better by belting out "Heaven Knows." She's the best singer, and it's too bad she has no neck.

CCM moans through Cure's "Lovesong." The best thing is that he didn't beatbox.

Miss Sparks sings a song that Gwen technically didn't sing "Hey Baby." I still think she wins this thing.

Ending the show on a whimper, The Other Chris nasals his way through "Don't Speak." I'm so bored.

This episode sucked. Gwen provided no spark at all. She just stood there and looked cute. She did look adorable. But, how many times did she say the singer should stick to the melody? I was expecting more. The theme was even weak by leaving it to either songs that inspired Gwen or songs she sang. It's such a cop out. Big Momma and Bobblehead should have to try another style. Overall this has been the worst show of this season.

Monday, March 26, 2007


It's funny how one weekend can completely ruin your NCAA brackets. At the beginning of the week I was set with only two of my teams missing from the Sweet Sixteen and I didn't have the two teams out of it going very far. Now? All I have is Georgetown left and I have them only making the final not winning it. I'm not even close to winning now. The good news is that after the Buckeyes won two games that had no business winning they played their best game of the season against Memphis. Of course, that was only in Elite Eight. Can the Buckeyes do it again against Georgetown, who have their own big man to counter Oden? Also, there is now a possibility of the Buckeyes playing Florida for the National Championship in basketball this time. If that happens, I hope the Buckeyes can get some revenge. If not, I'm never going to Florida again in my life. Unless work gives me a free trip to Miami some time in my life. So I guess I won't ever pay to go to Florida again in my life.

One week till the Cubs opening day. The excitement and anticipation of great things should last maybe a month.

Throughout history, television has given us plenty of wonderful TV moms from June Cleaver to Clair Huxtable to Marge Simpson. Well there's a new mom to add to the list: Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights. She is clearly the rock of not only her family, but the high school where she is the school counselor. Is she perfect? No, but she keeps trying. She admitted her struggle when her teenage daughter told her she wanted to have sex. Eventually, she realized she had to trust that her daughter would make the right decision. When she realized she jumped to judgement about one of her daughters friends, she admitted her mistake and is now working to help the girl get on her feet. Most of the time she's right on the money which why her husband the coach relies on her to be his best friend, wife, and counselor. She's smart, funny as hell, and yes sexy. She's my favorite TV Mom to appear on the tube in awhile.

Veronica's father from Veronica Mars is probably the best TV Dad.

Tomorrow morning for the first time ever I'm going to a therapist. I have two concerns. First, for some reason I scheduled it in the morning. I don't start functioning till 1:00pm. How am I supposed to work with a therapist before then? Second, I am skeptic of most therapist. Remember in Good Will Hunting when Will went to all those therapists and was a smart ass to all of them? I'm too considerate to go to that extent, but there's a good chance I'll be a smart ass and throw a wall up. Mandy though helped me pick what I think is one of the good ones...I hope. The other option was simply too attractive.

Watching Kings of Leon perform on Letterman, I've realized they are the new Collective Soul. That's not a compliment.

I'm saving my whole rant detailing how ripped off I was by Stephanie Edwards getting the boot from American Idol for tomorrow. It's ridiculous!

The snobbiest thing I did over the weekend was watch Louis Malle's "Elevator to the Gallows." When someone asks what you Netflixed how can you not sound like an ass when you say Elevator to the Gallows directed by Louis Malle?

Am I the only one excited about the final episodes of Sopranos starting soon? Yeah, me neither.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Miss Him Already

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

American Idol Recap

My only excuse for this is that I have nothing else to write about at the moment, so I'm sticking you with this. For those that missed the last recap you can catch up if you want here.

The following conversation just took place:

Seacrest: Paula, how do you work on the nerves on a night like tonight?
Paula: Booze and pills, Ryan. Booze and pills.

To be fair Paula didn't really say that, but that's what you all were thinking. She actually rambled on in what felt like a rehearsed bit about picturing Simon naked.

Tonight's theme is 60's Brit pop. Because 83% of the audience has no clue about this period of music we are graced with a quick recap which basically said, "You've heard of the Beatles right? Well, people went crazy over the Beatles, and that resulted in a bunch of other British bands becoming really popular. Two of these artists were Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits and Lulu. Trust us these artists were really big at one point. No really. They were huge. Look, this is the best we could do. We can't have Diana Ross every night."

First up tonight is Cleavage. Though I'm thinking of going with Mole because I can't seem to take my eyes off of her Cindy Crawfordish mole. Her song of choice this evening is "Tell Him" by I think the Exciters? No certain on that though. Not a bad choice. It's made its rounds in a few movie soundtracks. There's no real outstanding vocal part to show your talents, so this may require a sell on attitude...and cleavage. Ooops, apparently it was originally sung by Billie Davis. I need to Google that for a minute. Be right back. Watch Mole sing her short shorts, and her strategically taped top. Nice to see she finally realized that she needs to go the sexy route if she even has a chance in this. Clearly, her voice isn't great. She does all right. It's cute, and-wow she's really fighting for the just entering puberty boy vote by shaking anything that can shake. Simon even calls her out on it saying, "I think people are going to be talking about a lot more than your singing tonight." Why don't they cut to her father in the audience when Simon makes those comments. They already showed him before. They need to integrate a little more underlying family drama in this. How priceless would've been the "My daughter is acting like a whore" look from the father?

Oh, "Tell Him" was originally sung by The Exciters. It was though next covered by Billie Davis in the UK. Technicalities, technicalities.

Back from commercial they show Seacrest asking some poor girl in tears if those were tear of joy. Lucky for all of us she says they are. Though that look she gives him as he slowly backs away hints that they might be tears of love. Her parents need to explain first Seacrest is gay, and second she will now need to go to another school in another country because she will never live this down till after high school. Also, her older sister is so crowding into her screen time.

The Other Chris is up now. They must be getting all the crappy singers out of the way first. The Other Chris' goal "Is to finally nail a song." I was expecting him to say groupie because he isn't long for this competition and has to cash in on his fame now. We all saw the "before" pictures after he loss that weight. After this competition that weight is going back on - twice. He chooses "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying" by Gerry and the Pacemakers. eh. Oooh. They brought out the acoustic guitar guy on stage. You know what? The Other Chris did pretty good. Simple and solid. Could I have under estimated him? Nah.

Next up. Stephanie singing Dusty Springfield. Come on Stephanie. You have to up your game this time. My Idol Fantasy team is depending on it. She's singing "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" by Dusty. Aaah. Subpar performance again. She needs to stop doing the vocal theatrics and just sing. She's dropping fast, and I have no more confidence in her. Where's the Stephanie I once knew. CCM is up next doing The Zombies. I can't wait till he adds his special flair to the Zombies.

Here's CCM. He's doing "Time of the Season." Yes, he's adding his special flair. I hate him. Thing is he has stage presence and clearly the teenage girls love him. They are clearly falling for his beat box shtick. I'm scared he might make it. I couldn't handle him as the next American Idol. Seacrest just asked him what's his secret to taking an old song and make it new again? His answer was he puts as much energy and passion into one song as he could. The actual answer is he didn't do anything. He beat boxed a couple beats in the intro and in the middle. He didn't do anything else to the song. Stop giving this schlep credit when he did nothing. He's just the stupid white kid who fools all the other white kids into thinking he's urban and hip. I can't believe Simon is even falling for his crap.

Big Momma is no longer in her comfort zone. She's debating between "Diamonds are Forever" or "You're My World" by Cilla Black, but made famous by Helen Reddy. Lulu wisely advises her to sing "You're My World." Lulu really tries to convince her to sing it. Big Momma decides against it. Apparently, Simon really likes it. It's a boring song to me. Simon and Randy both say it's not her their favorite. Thing is it's still better than most of the contestants.

Midnight Oil steps up to the plate to try his hand at Tobacco Road. I hope he does the David Lee Roth cover version. Please! Please! Have they ever had "Hair Band" Night on Idol? I guess that's another five seasons away. Wait. He's sort of doing the David Lee Roth version. Too bad he's not really singing. Hmm. He's no Roth. He kinda sucked, and he will have a problem tomorrow. He's gone. He's even getting to the point of desperate begging.

After another rehearsed audience question, Jordin, who I still haven't come up with a nickname yet, has decided to sing "I Who Have Nothing." Fantastic choice for her. I love that song. I have to give Lulu some credit. She is really trying to help the girls. Sparky? Hell no. That sucks as a nickname. I might need some help with this. Anyway, she can solidify herself in the top three with a solid performance. She did well. What's Simon's problem? It's a desperate song. Watch out Big Momma and Bobblehead here comes....crap! Why can't I come up with a nickname?

Returning from the break, The Indian Barry Gibb brings the love because he is love. The Indian Barry Gibb is on the fence. He also can't decide on what song to sing. Ba-dum-bum. Indian Barry Gibb has narrowed it down to "You Really Got Me" or "I'm Into Something Good." Mr. Noone suggests "You Really Got Me." He tries to pass it off with some lame excuse, but we all know it's because he doesn't want The Indian Barry Gibb to butcher his own song. You know what I'm changing The Indian Barry Gibb to Love. Sanjaya is Love. So, Love has decided to do "You Really Got Me," and is apparently doing the Van Halen version. David Lee Roth has realized there will now never be a David Lee Roth night on Idol. Look, we all know what Love is going to do to this song, and it won't be pretty. So, let us focus on what is really important at this moment and that is the constant cut aways to the crying girl. She won't stop crying. What is her problem? Where are her parents? Does she love Idol that much? Isn't this dangerous? Maybe they are just using her to remind us what 60's Brit Pop fans were like back then. I bet she's a plant. It totally makes sense now. No it doesn't. It's also important to note how attractive Love's sister is. Now Simon has referenced little mis cry-a-lot. We could be currently witnessing an audience member becoming a star. It appears her name is Ashley, and she likes Love. Aw they hugged. He really is Love. You know Ashley is already going to be all over the internet. I guarantee you she will be on at least two talk shows in a week. One of them will be Jimmy Kimmel. Then her life will be ruined. She will always be little miss cry-a-lot now. If this is what happens when Love is on Idol, we might just have to keep him around.

My other Idol fantasy contestant is up now Gina Jett, and she's really pushing the Joan Jett clothing tonight. She will be singing Stones "Paint it Black." Once again Lulu really helps her.
Eh. Simon's right. It was a mess. I hope she brings in the goth vote

Singing the Zombies "She's Not There" it is Sideshow Chunk. Ooh he's coming out of the audience! He's giving high fives! His family is trying to get the catchphrase "Fro Patrol." Which is about as lame as you can get. That's two nights now that he's irked me. He nearly clocked Simon with the mic stand. That would've been priceless. Come on. Now he's even trying to sell the fro patrol to the audience. Vote this kiss ass off now. I hate the smell of desperation.

Finally, Bobblehead ends the night with "As Long As He Needs Me" which it seems is from the musical Oliver. I think I need to go to the judges to see if this is kosher. Shirely Bassey covered it so I'll let it slide. Bobblehead knocks it out of the park, and jumped to the top. Nice of the director to let us know little miss cry-a-lot is still crying. A very strong and controlled performance. Still in this shallow world I think not being conventionally beautiful is going to hurt her and Big Momma in the long run. It will be a shame too.

That's it kids. I think Midnight Oil is going home tomorrow. That would put the team Krystal and Alon out of the competition, and would mean I don't have to bake cookies. Lulu and Peter Noone really were solid advisers too. Aw. Seacrest is bringing up little miss cry-a-lot onto stage. She went straight to CCM. How awkward. You can tell who is fake hugging her, and who is being honestly nice to her. I tell you, her fifteen minutes have just begun. All fifteen minutes will be spent in tears. So what else did we learn? The guys improved, but not enough. CCM could sneak up and win this, and it scares me. Sideshow Chunk lowered himself to now begging for votes and stealing the whole "Soul Patrol" is unforgivable. Mole has gone full throttle into trying to sell the sexy. Bobblehead is your current leader. Tell the next time I find myself with nothing to blog about. So, that means next week.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hello Old Friend (Kitten Censor Safe)

Last night I went to the bottom of my closet and dusted off my old Playstation 2. You might be wondering why I would pull out that ancient artifact of video gaming and hook it up to my HDTV. What could my PS2 have at that moment that my 360 couldn't? In one word: Kratos. Yes, Kratos has returned in God of War 2 for the PS2. This is the final great game that we will probably see for this steady but now outdated video system. The original God of War is one of the greatest games to ever come out on the PS2, and this game of course is supposed to be better.

A side note: First, video games seem to be the only media where sequels can often be better than the original. Musicians often suffer the sophomore slump. Movie sequels almost always are worse. It is understandable though that video games beat this sophomore slump. With the groundwork already laid out in the original. Development time can be spent on enhancing the game elements and pushing the game further.

Last we left Kratos he had recently defeated Ares and replaced him as the God of War. Now, Kratos and his Spartans are destroying the cities of Greece left and right. This of course has the other Gods a little miffed. So, when Kratos goes to Rhodes to help wipe it out. Athena then turns him into a human, and Zeus tricks Kratos into giving up his powers to defeat a Colossus. Zeus then comes down and kicks Kratos' ass and sends him to Hades. Lucky for Kratos, Gaia. Gaia! Saves you and instructs you to go to the Island of Creation and gain the assistance of the Sisters of Fate to help you get payback on Zeus.

I've gotten as far as just arriving at the Island of Creation. So far the game matches up well against the original. There is still that grand scale of the game that always impresses. Watching you scale up a Colossus and slash his face is always a crowd pleaser. Kratos gets to fly Pegasus and battle Dark Riders on their gryphon. There's the nice sequences of kicking off the Dark Rider, slashing off the gryphon's wings, and jumping off only to be caught by Pegasus. There isn't a whole lot of improvement in the game compared to the original, but I'm not really surprised since the original already pushed the PS2 to its limits. Still this game is a must have, and a great way to say farewell to your PS2. That is till you get that itching for Katamari Damacy.

Below are God of War 2 screenshots. Because of the violent nature of the game, kitten censor has been applied.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

American Idol Recap (Don't F*@#k With a Classic Edition)

It's that time again kids. Tonight we have the top 12 contestants and Diana Ross all in one hour of televised karaoke. That pretty much screams recap.

Well I missed the first singer, but it was one of the guys and they all suck in comparison to the women well except for Sanjaya she's pretty awful. I kid because I care. He's clearly the Indian Barry Gibb. Apparently, the first guy was the guy from the 7-up commercials, Orlando Jones. I thought professional actors weren't allowed in this competition. Next up we have Melinda, whom we will refer to for the rest of the year as Bobblehead. From the few moments I've seen before this I know she's one of the front runners. For some reason Bobblehead picks the boring and unknown "Home" from The Wiz. Someone needs to step in and help these people pick their songs. You have to sing songs people know. Bobblehead does a pretty good job with it. Sweet Paula's all in tears. Is that pure alcohol coming from her eyes? Simon can't stop laughing. Frankly, neither can I.

Chris Sligh has the unfortunate position of following Bobblehead. Every guy must pray before the order is given to not follow Melinda or Lakisha. Chris Sligh is clearly the offspring of Sideshow Bob and Chunk from Goonies. Let us name him Sideshow Chunk. He's even going to sing a popular Diana Ross song, Endless Love. Holy shit! What is he doing? He's turning it into an awful Coldplay ripoff. The last thing you should ever say in front of an artist when you are going to do one of their greatest hits is "... and give it a little bit of a different feel." Diana's going to kill him right now. If there wasn't a camera there he'd be dead. I'd help. Ok she just said "Can I give you one comment." I expected her to follow that up with "Don't f*#@k with my song!" Unfortunately she restrained herself. I don't care that Indian Barry Gibb is somehow still on the show. I ask you all to vote this arrogant fat ass off the show. What makes you think you can change the cords around to a Diana Ross song because it "doesn't sound...modern." It's a classic. Don't f@#*k with a classic! Poor Diana. No wonder she's psycho. She even tries to politely tell him to not screw around and lose the melody. He's not going to listen. He's not going to listen. He didn't listen. He's completely ripping off Coldplay. Good grief. This is painful. Vote him off! This is a disaster! I want a formal apology from him. He doesn't even know how to end it. Randy even calls him out on the Coldplay. Paula can't believe he butchered this. Simon rules. He calls him on this shit. "Even the boos are light." He didn't go with his gut he went with his ego. Sideshow Chunk you are my enemy.

Gina is on deck. She better thank whoever she needs to thank that she gets to follow Sideshow Chunk. I should admit that Gina is one of the two contestants I have in my Idol fantasy team. The problem is she's not awful but she's not great. She clearly is falling into that Joan Jett style. I'm struggling for even coming up with a name for her. As a place holder we'll have Gina Jett. It sucks but that's all I've got now. Hmm. The song she chose was "Love Child." It's a great song, but I'm not sure the general population is that familiar with it. A few things. One, this is boring. Second, why are the horns not playing in this song? The band doesn't seem to be helping her much. The band seems bored. Third, perhaps when Diana Ross says you need to work on enunciation perhaps you should remove the metal stud driven through your tongue.

To quote Seacrest, "Coming up, Sanjaya has a mountain to climb." The commercial break can't end fast enough. The Indian Barry Gibb and Diana Ross together only on FOX! What?! He/she permed it's hair. The Indian Barry Gibb doesn't work now. Screw it. I'm sticking with it.

Have you had trouble the past few weeks trying to get through to technical support? You can blame. That's the only reason I can come up with to explain how Indian Barry Gibb is still on this show. That or a hell of a lot of people believe what Diana claims, "Sanjaya to me"
Yeah, Indian Barry Gibb is all love, and it creeps me out. His song choice, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Good song too bad he can't sing. Ok, Diana just said, "You better get your toe in there." Does anyone know what that means? Wow, Indian Barry Gibb is really? Here we go. Here comes the pain! ... His parents are white? Was he adopted? Nobody believes what they just heard. As Randy said, "Thank goodness for the background singers." Paula believes that Indian Barry Gibb is love. Simon is so baffled he can't even tear into him logically. Can we please eliminate "It's all good" from our vocabulary?

Haley just forgot the words to Missing You. It was a mess. At least she knows it, and fessed up to it. I kind of like her. She's not that great, and falls on the boring side. I don't even have name for her. Wait. She made an effort to show off her cleavage. We'll go with Cleavage. She'll be the next voted off, so I won't have to use it long. Apparently, Orland Jones forgot the words as well.

Phil "Midnight Oil" Stacey is up next with "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me?" Is this the best the guys have to offer? He can only sing loud and even then he's barely average. I would like to point out I know nothing about singing and can't sing a lick. Doesn't stop me from judging.

Ok, every commercial break has featured an add for FOX's new show, Drive. There is no way a show can keep that up for a season. I'll give it a shot though. I like that Nathan Fillion from Firefly is getting another chance.

Finally, Big Momma Lakisha is up. I've got give her credit she used the movie soundtrack loop hole to do a Billie Holiday song, "God Bless the Child." Big Momma ain't messing around. She's here to win. Diana Ross even knows it by only giving her visual performance advice. She stumbled a little out the gate, but she nailed it as she went along. This is Big Momma's to win. No big theatrics in her voice. She just sang. Simon claims that Bobblehead and Big Momma are head and shoulders above the rest of the singers. I'd say Big Momma's even better than Bobblehead. Big Momma has triple the stage presence of Bobblehead, and I don't mean that as a fat joke. Big Momma is your next American Idol.

Modern spin on a Motown classic? Blake is going to make the same mistake Sideshow Chunk made.

I was debating on Blake's nickname. I started off with "Boy band" but that was too on the nose. I thought about The Whiter Toby Mac but that was too obscure. Still I went with "CCM." Why? I know it's still obscure but it's really easy to type. CCM is so pissed he has to follow Big Momma. He's so pissed he's going to screw up an American standard in "You Keep Me Hanging On." Just take the whole rant I wrote about Sideshow Chunk and place it here. Rather than ripoff Coldplay, CCM decides he will use the Live 5 program to create bland wannabe blips and pretend he knows something about music. The girls apparently love him though. It must be the stubble. He's trying so hard to hide his nerd past. Diana even fell for his shit. I am impressed that he never broke a sweat while wearing a shirt and tie, with a sweater and a sport coat. Still, Don't F#@*k With A Classic!

Crap! My other contestant in the Idol Fantasy is Stephanie. I don't have name for her either. I always considered her my decent long shot to win out right. Tonight showed she's a step behind Bobblehead and Big Momma. How do you do Love Hangover and only sing the intro? Stephanie you are killing me. I need you to last a few more weeks. Don't make me count on Gina Jett.

The Other Chris who I confuse all the time with CCM decides to do "The Boss." Another awful song choice. He can't sing either. He tries really hard. So, points for effort, and the Timberlake impression.

Now I feel even less confident in my Stephanie and Gina Jett. Sure, Jordin Sparks spells her name with an "i" instead of an "a." Sure, she picked another awful song in "If We Hold On Together." She might be a legitimate dark horse in this. She's cuter than Bobblehead and Big Momma and comes close to matching their singing. I was hoping Stephanie would fill that role as the cute and passable singer, but it looks like it's Jordin's now.

So what did we learn tonight? There's no way a guy should come even close to winning this thing. It will most likely be a battle between Bobblehead and Big Momma, with Jordin a strong dark horse. I might be out of this thing earlier than I thought. The Indian Barry Gibb is proof that the democratic process doesn't always work. And of course don't f@#*k with the classics.

This Is a Monster Movie

Saturday night Tim, Bobby, and myself had the pleasure of seeing a wonderful movie called "The Host." It's a South Korean film that seems to be only playing in a handful of theaters across the country. That's a shame because this is a great movie.

The premise is your standard B-movie fare of a monster created by something toxic (radiation from atomic bomb testing, chemical spill, etc.) in this case toxic formaldehyde is dumped into a river. Monster then proceeds to wreak havoc. The director takes this framework and twists it around into a funny and frightening family drama.

The monster revealing itself in a terrific opening sequence takes away the Park family's youngest member, a young girl named Hyun-seo. Her father is a bumbling idiot who helps his grumpy grandfather run a small store on the river where the monster emerges. Discovering that Hyun-seo is still alive and captive in the monster's lair, her father and grandfather are joined by her aunt an Olympic-class archer who moves too slowly, and an uncle who is an unemployed salaryman.

Their hunt for Hyun-seo is impeded by not only the betrayal of their friends, their government, and the American military, but by the family's own issues among its members. It's no surprise that Hyun-seo seems to be the only stable member of the family.

Throughout the movie there are jabs at the Korean government and the constant American military presence. The movie is really all about the Parks and their struggle to keep the family together.

There are moments of absurdity, slapstick, horror, and a lot of heart. The middle does drag a little while it focuses on the family turmoil, but it that focus makes the climactic ending resonate stronger.

If by some chance The Host comes to a theater near you I highly suggest seeing it. At least be sure to add it to your netflix, or buy the import on ebay.

Doctor! Doctor!

For the past couple months I've been in and out of doctors' and dentist offices taking advantage of finally getting health insurance. That's what it's there for right? Everything has been checking out fine, but I knew my back was going to eventually be a problem. Years after my back surgery in high school, my Mom happened to mention that I was supposed to go in for a second surgery to correct my back some more. That second surgery never ended up happening because she thought I wouldn't be able to handle another surgery. Now, fast forward nearly twenty years to the present. I thought I could get by and not think about it, but decided to see an orthopod just to make sure nothing was wrong with the rods. Sure enough, he wanted me to see a spinal specialist. That is what I did today. I went to apparently the top spinal specialist on the west coast. It should be noted that every doctor finds my condition fascinating. Every X-ray results with two or three extra doctors brought in to "ooh" and "aah." Also, the doctors and nurses and office help out here are really concerned about decency. Back in Ohio and such it was always here's a paper gown now go parade around. Out here they offer a second gown to put on backwards, and are always concerned about me being embarrassed. The problem is I've spent years in Ohio hospitals parading around in blue paper and my underwear. The number of strangers that have seen me in hospitals in my underwear has to be nearing a thousand. I've gone past the point of feeling the need for decency in a hospital or doctor's office. This has led to me keep saying I'm fine I don't need a third hospital gown, but them forcing it upon me despite my pleas. I did ask if I could wear my hat to the x-ray room though. Anyway, I have flatback which is what the previous second surgery was supposed to correct, and I still have some curvature at the base of my spine. With the advancements in medicine in the past twenty years they can make my spine as straight as an arrow. They will basically make my spine look like the Terminator's. So, do I do it? I probably should eventually, even though it would mean at least six weeks till I could return to work, and all that misery at an age when I'm on the decline. There's also the benefit that it will force me to quit smoking. But can I afford basically two months off work? Nope. Will my insurance even cover most of it? Considering back then the surgery cost around $18,000, and my yearly max is $10,000, I'm guessing it might cover a third of it. I've determined I need to sell a script, which will put me in the guild, which will give me better health insurance. I also think I need a girlfriend to care of me those two months I'll be holed up in my hospital. That or a really attractive home nurse. The home nurse could be also attracted to bed ridden men. So it seems I'm at least a year off. At least I get to have it nagging around now in the back of my mind for a couple years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Toy!

This weekend my contract with T-mobile expired. What does that mean? That means it's rebate on a new phone time! As Mandy would say, "Whoo Hoo!" I had a great time with my Sony Ericsson K750. It handled mp3's fantastically and took really soild pictures. Yet, I felt it was time to move up to a grown up phone. I really needed a smart phone. That narrowed down my options to a couple Blackberrys and a couple other T-mobile branded ones. After a bit of research and hands on, I went with this: The Blackberry Pearl. The SureType function needed because it doesn't have a full QWERTY keyboard concerned me, but it actually predicts really well what you want to type. So with that and it's compact size, and media functions I was sold. A couple days later and I've come to really enjoy it. It's not perfect, but it does what I need it to and does it well. It seems this relationship has started of well.

In Honor Of

A little late, but this goes to recently departed Brad Delp. Mr. Delp is/was the lead singer of Boston. Boston's debut album was the first secular rock album I bought, not counting Weird Al. Here's to Brad Delp may you soar as high as your ridiculous vocals when you sing "AWAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!"

Friday, March 09, 2007

Screw It!

I realize I could be ruining a great thing but I have to write a little on this latest run Spurs have been on. Since losing to a bottom end club in Sheffield United early in March, Spurs have been playing some very enjoyable and brilliant football. It began with a trouncing of Fulham (4-0) at Fulham to send them to the quarterfinals of the FA cup. They then followed that up with a 2-1 win over Everton at Everton where the club showed they were not happy with a draw and just kept attacking. They scored the winning goal in the 89th minute of the match. (There are 90 minutes not including injury time.) That is two victories away! Before that Spurs had only won one match away from White Heart Lane. Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, they go on to beat Bolton 4-1 which is amazing considering they played part of the first half and all of the second half down a man. Then. Then! In what is probably one of the games of the season, Spurs beat West Ham 4-3. West Ham desperately needed to win in order to try to avoid relegation, and they played like it jumping to a 2-0 lead after the first half. Spurs were then able to tie it up only to fall behind again when West Ham scored in the 85th minute. Yet, somehow Spurs were not only able to tie it up in the 89th minute, but eventually won the game with a brilliant counter in injury time. I've never experienced watching my team put the dagger into another. It's always been the other way around. Here though Spurs came from behind in brilliant fashion to basically solidifying the fact the West Ham will be relegated next season. There were players crying on the pitch, and it wasn't my team. I'm still amazed by that. Finally yesterday, Spurs again scored in the closing minutes of the match in the first leg of their UEFA Cup last-16 clash against SC Braga in Portugal.

The club has played some very enjoyable ball, but the club has really begun to score. A lot of this credit goes to the fact that Martin Jol has found the two strikers he wants to stay with. Those two strikers are the same ones I've been say should be teamed up since the beginning. Berbatov and Keane have been fantastic. Robbie Keane is a fan favorite and it's clear why. He's not the fastest man on the pitch but he can control the ball, and put in anywhere he wants. So, Keane really isn't a surprise. Seeing Dimitar Berbatov, who just signed this season with Spurs, adjust to Premiership's style of soccer has been a thrill to watch. The Bolton match is when Berbatov seemed to put it all together and caused people to take notice. Keane was sent off with a red card leaving Berbatov as the lone striker. He completely took over the game and kept Bolton's defense on it's heels. I don't know shit really about soccer, but even I could tell his play was amazing. He was the one who scored the third goal to tie West Ham. In the 89th minute he scored on a free kick at the cusp of the penalty box. He was able to place it perfectly over the wall of defenders and into the net. I've probably jinxed the whole team now, but it's been a thrill watching them play, and to see Berbatov come into his own in this league.

Finally, I need to talk about one of the genius shows on Fox Soccer Channel. That's right I said Fox Soccer Channel. Actually Sky Sports actually does it, and FSC just replays it. Anyway, for the football matches they place a fan of each team in a box to comment on the game. It basically boils down to guys making fun of each other and their team. You add the British accent and it is genius television. I just watched the West Ham and Spurs match, and it's really just amazing and hilarious. FSC I think picks the best match of the week to rebroadcast, because I'm certain not all of them are this good. The West Ham supporter was simply a riot, and I only understood half of what he said.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Musical Memory Recall

I'm five chapters into the memoir by Rob Sheffield called Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time. I came across the book by reading an interview with Mr. Sheffield on Because of my early stunted growth into music I never had the pleasure of reading fanzines or other rock n roll criticisms. That's why I get a little jealous watching Almost Famous. I never got the pleasure of growing up at a time when I could spend afternoons reading music journalists like Lester Bangs. It wasn't till college that I gathered up the nerve to contradict my fundamentalist upbringing and get a subscription to Rolling Stone and Spin. The fear and disappointment I felt when I opened my school mailbox to find the infamous Janet Jackson RollingStone cover glaring at me with stickers covering the hands covering her breasts. I knew I was on Cedarville's blacklist now. It was like your Mom finding your Playboy only instead of throwing it away she ripped all the pictures out and left it back where she found it. I still went back to my room and removed the stickers. Anyway, between Spin and RollingStone the only writers I remember were Rob Sheffield and Jancee Dunn. I remember falling in love with Jancee Dunn once I saw her on 120 Minutes. I pictured her as one of those women that knew a lot about a lot of things and refused to take shit from anyone. It intrigued me and scared me. Rob Sheffield was who I identified with. He seemed like a geek that some how lucked into a job writing about music. He also didn't seem to have a snob approach that some music journalists do. Anyway, that lead me to reading the interview which lead me to picking up his book.

Each chapter begins with a mix tape the he or his wife made. The chapter then covers the time in his life when that tape was made. Most of the book (that I've read so far) deals with his meeting and falling in love, (This happened simultaneously which I understand can occur.) marrying, and living with his wife.

Reading this book caused me to think about two things. First is that the mix tape is basically dead. Sheffield in his book talks about how the iPod playlist and mix CD still keep the spirit of the mix tape. I agree but I think the magic of the mix tape is gone. A playlist or mix CD has a beginning and an end. A mix tape has the magic of a middle where you have to switch sides. That middle gives you another end and beginning. It gives you two acts to play with. You can still pull off the same with a mix CD, but it doesn't create the physical middle that a tape does. A mix CD is still one side, a tape is still two sides. The ease of playlists and creating CD's takes away some of the magic as well. Making a mix tape required perfect timing and physically listening as you created the mix. A mix tape would require at least 90 minutes of your time. That time taken is part of what makes a mix tape special. It's like cooking dinner for someone instead of getting take out. I could go on with the sequencing of albums and the changes caused by the format change to CD from vinyl and tape. But we will stick to mix tapes because this is what I know.

Back in the day I used to be the king of mix tapes even with my extremely limited musical knowledge. The first true endeavor into mix tapes was early in my second year of college. During that year I cranked out five volumes of Love Song tapes. They contained the love song range from the obscure to the cliche love song. It never worked with the ladies, but that was before I realized it was better to create a tape that would move her feet rather than remind her of a former boyfriend. I eventually graduated to mix tapes that dealt more with introducing people to music I'd think they'd like or songs that remind you of time spent with that person. The greatest mix tape I've ever made was for Stace at the end of my last year at Cedarville. I had a crush on her big time but we worked through it and became close friends. I remember during the last days of my college years a group of us were going to see Braveheart. Somehow, I ended up driving alone. At a stop light, Stace got out of the car behind me and hopped in my car. She cared, and that's all I needed. The mix tape I gave her the last day tried to wrap that last year of memories into a 90 minute magnetic tape. From the parties, to the concerts, to the fights, to the alone times I always craved, it all returns when I hear those songs. I think the "I'm Leaving Town. Don't Forget Me" mix tapes were always my best. This bring me up to my second thought: music and memories.

Music is great for so many reasons. It can match your mood. It can change your mood. It can inspire you to act. It can bring complete strangers together in one room to sing along. For me the real magic is those songs that help create those memories. "Hound Dog" is when I'd sit in the bathroom as a kid making the shadow puppet of a dog that sang along with me. Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" reminds me of sitting in Jill's room in South Carolina and wondering what it'd take to be the guy in the love letters she was showing me. Kevin McKee and I used to rap "Fight For Your Right to Party" or "Wipeout" in the high school entrance. I knew one more thing I didn't want in a girl when she started crying at the Michael W. Smith concert as he closed with "Friends." John Lee Hooker's "It Serves You Right To Suffer"joined me while I sat in my dorm room in the dark with a Santa's hat on, and wallowed in the fact that Marne didn't like me in that way. There's Eric and I sitting in his apartment while we listen to one the greatest hurtin' songs of all time: George Jones' "He Stopped Loving Her Today." I tried my best to introduce little Anne Marie to what I thought was punk by jumping on the bed with her to One Bad Pig. Any Violent Femmes' song sparks the memory of me driving Melissa to the Boathouse in order to catch their concert before it ended. We were in such a rush she had to change in the back seat, and it took a lot of will power to keep my eyes on the road. On the drive to and from Boston, Bob and I played Elvis' cover of "Always on My Mind" about thirty times. The road trip mix tape comes in a very close second to "I'm Leaving Town. Don't Forget Me" mix tape. Gaia!
Junior Senior will always be me and my sisters driving from Maine to Ohio for Mom's funeral. Boston would always accompany Bobby and I coming home from work during the first season of CSI: Miami. It always seemed to come on while we exited off the 101. The point is we have a history of songs to go with our own history. That's one the reason I become frustrated when people try to hide or play off the musical embarrassments of their past because it wasn't "cool" or "hip" music. That music show where you've been, and how you've become who you are. Music has powers, and its soundtrack to your life is one of my favorite. My last girlfriend Kathie once said that The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" will always remind her of me. Sure that was a big signal to the lack of a future our relationship held, but I had one of the greatest songs ever written linked to a memory of me. How cool is that?