Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Quick Hits

Roger Clemens is a pedophile! Well, maybe/maybe not, but he definitely was doing something inappropriate with Mindy McCready (yes, I'm aware that no one knows that she is a country music singer.) Clemens has had a relationship with her since she was 15 and he was 28, married, and had two kids. He claims there has never been a sexual relationship- though, he also filtered thousands of dollars to her through an intermediary. At this rate, Clemens will be more hated than Bonds, John Rocker, and OJ Simpson combined. Ok, maybe that was a reach- nobody reaches OJ level.

Costas on HBO was really interesting. They had Will Leitch of DeadSpin.com on CostasNow tonight for a panel about Blogging. They also had Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger and Cleveland Browns Wide Out Braylon Edwards. Buzz went on one of the craziest tirades I've ever seen. He ranted about how profane, inaccurate, and overly terrible blogs are. Ironically, he used the most profanity of anyone all night and pulled snippets of blogs that "proved" his points. Honestly, this is an act of a desperate man who fears change in general. He's mad that more and more people read blogs and that it is "dumbing down" the world. Each point he made produced more projectile saliva than provoking thoughts. However, Leitch made the point that "running a blog is hard work." I can attest to that. It takes effort, focus, and intelligence to pull off anything remotely successful. It takes awhile to get readers and sustain their presence. I highly recommend watching the show if you haven's seen it.

Miley Cyrus is naked! Well, no she's not. There was a Variety photo shoot where she had a couple semi-provocative pictures. Disney met that with a furious rage that their prize cash cow was doing something not wholesome. Now Hannah Montana is backpedaling saying she's embarrassed about the pictures. C'mon Miley, the pictures aren't that bad and your parents were at the shoot (your dad is physically in one of the pictures.) Don't backpedal. Who cares? Just don't drink Rockstar and Vodkas for breakfast, marry a back-up dancer, or hang any children over a balcony.

3-1 is my Fantasy Baseball record thus far. My team is rolling on right through the Pete Rose Gambling All-Stars. Savages.

I'm in the studio today! Recording some new songs and tinkering with recordings from last time. Time to go to bed and get ready for it. Peace.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Giants Paid $126 Million, and All They Got Was A Long Reliever

For not being a Giants fan, I certainly do talk about these guys a lot. In truth, I do like the Giants (or rather, I love going to their fine home ball-park) so I wish they would turn it around. I even like Barry Zito. I thought it was an intriguing signing last year, but more and more, it looks like an awful move. On the surface, it made sense to bring Zito across the bay as he was loved as an Oakland Athletic. He already had ties in the community. They probably got some defecting A's fans cheering on the Giants. Overall, it looks ok.

Well, it's not ok. Not at all. Brian Sabean knows how to scout one thing and one thing only- pitching. Look at their rotation: Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, and even Kevin Correia. The Giants lead the majors with 4, count 'em, 4 shutouts. There only weakness is every fifth day when one of the richest players in baseball pitches.

Now let's look at their offense... Depending on who Bochy plays they have the oldest or youngest line-up in baseball. Winn, Rowand, Durham, Molina, and Aurilla round out the old guys. Balker, Valez, Bocock, Lewis, and Ortmeier are the young guys. I can't talk about this offense without losing my own offensive ability to type, so we'll just say that they are anemic at best.

Sabean blew it on two levels. First, how in the hell did you think Zito was worth $126 mil? Your team is ONLY good at scouting pitching. Did you not catch a few games on local cable the last year Zito was on the A's? His skill set has been declining since he won the Cy Young award as the number 3 pitcher with Oakland. You had to see this coming.

If you couldn't get any offensive player to sign with you, then you save your money. Offense is exactly where your funds have to go. Find proven hitting talent to supplement your young pitching. You haven't had a home-grown offense force since Matt Williams. MATT WILLIAMS! He's retired already. You have signed every other player that was every offensively effective since then. For shame, Brian Sabean. You turned the only thing you're good at into your teams biggest weakness.

Imagine trying to trade Zito and Cain for nothing. How many teams eat the contract of Zito just to get Cain? Probably no one. You might have a couple bites if it was Lincecum instead of Cain, but you get my point. The Giants need to hire "the Bobs" from Office Space to come in and do some consulting. "So exactly, what do ya do Mr. Sabean?" To which he responds, "I'm good with people! I sign good players! Don't you understand what I'm saying!"

Uh, no. We don't.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Music Monday: Cover Songs

As a musician who works hard to get shows, you have to do things that are both a lot of fun and a huge pain (and many that fall right in the middle). Not every show can be the perfect set-up. My favorite way to play is a 10 song set, with my drummer, at a venue that is also hosting artists that I like and/or are popular. A great example of this is when I opened for Matt Costa in Sacramento, but there have been plenty of nights at the G Street Pub in Davis that also fit this criteria.

Now, in no way am I saying I dislike playing other formats, the above example is just my preferred scenario. Last night I played at the Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek. I love playing there a lot. The only drawback (if you can call it that) is that the shift is 3 and-a-half hours long. To prepare for a show like that your voice has to be in shape, your fingers need to be awfully calloused, and you have to have a lot of material to play.

I've written hundreds of songs, and I have a solid twenty originals that I'll break out at anytime, but no matter how good anyone is, if it's not on the radio, it is very difficult to keep an audience's attention for 3.5 hours. So not only do I have to play cover songs, I may play songs that I don't like or enjoy playing. Is it a sell-out move? Maybe. But it has to be done in order to mix in originals and get people interested enough to buy my CD.

So, without further adieu, here are some of my favorite cover songs to play followed by the ones I don't enjoy playing.

My Favorites:

- "Blackstar" by Radiohead - This is a lesser known track off of "The Bends." I recently learned it and I really enjoy playing it. If you like Radiohead's singles, but are unfamiliar with this song, I highly recommend you check it out.
- "Something" by the Beatles - I have a recorded version of this that I did on my Mac in November. You can listen to it on my Myspace page and my website. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best Beatles songs. Solid song structure, great lyrics, moves through different keys. It's got it all.
- "Where Is My Mind??" by the Pixies - You may remember this song from the final scene in "Fight Club" when the buildings are all imploding. The song rocks and is pretty catchy even if the audience is unfamiliar with it. There is also the bonus that it gives "coolness" points for the people who do like the Pixies.
- Any Crowded House song - This band is so ridiculously underrated in the States. Neil Finn's songs stack up well against the Beatles, but for some reason the only song that every got play here is "Don't Dream It's Over." Newsflash, they're not an 80's one hit wonder as they're on tour right now (I'll be seeing them at the Fillmore on May 14th.) Clearly this recommendation is for people who dig the Rock/Pop side of music.
- "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" by Bob Dylan - Do I need a reason?
- "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson - I've had many a college co-ed get up and use the dance floor for this number and it's just a fun song to sing (if not difficult, but still fun.)
- "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Oasis - I've been a fan of Oasis since the beginning and I don't care how idiotic the Gallagher brothers are, they still make good music.
- "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" by Nirvana - This one is not originally by Nirvana, but from their Unplugged album comes a gem that needs more play. When my voice is in good shape, the final part falls into my range nicely and shows off the up-side of my voice. However, it's disaster if my voice isn't up to it. I think I like the danger part of it.

Least Favorite:

- "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison - Everyone does it. The song is totally played out. It was played out years ago. It still gets requested and I still play it. Maybe the easiest song to play in human history.
- "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band - I learned it as a joke after Anchorman came out. People still request it. It's a funny song, but I mean, how serious can I be taken when singing about getting down to business in the afternoon?
- "Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears - The band Travis does an acoustic cover of the song that I learned. People still dig Britney. If nothing else it reminds me of young Britney rather than trainwreck Britney. It's not enough to prevent me from loathing myself when I play it, but sometimes you gotta give the people what they want.
- "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash - Blasphemy! How can I put this song on the list? I'm just sick of it. It usually goes over really well and I'll continue to play it, but I think I played it out for myself.

So that's it for the list. I'm sure I left off some important songs that I love and hate to play, but the moral of the story is that sometimes you have to muddle through things that aren't as fun to get the opportunity to get what you want.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Regular Schedule

I never truly appreciated the art of blog until I started reading The Money Shot. The funny thing is that I Googled (yes, that was a verb) my own name and ended up finding a reference to me on it. I was intrigued and found that it was elementary school friend Graig. I moved around a lot when I was a kid (Chicago to Ohio to Georgia to the Bay Area) and I lost touch with many of my friends.

The point of this story is partially just to relay a gripping, dramatic story and to make the point that Graig's blog succeeds because it is a) funny b) consistent and c) has structure. I'm not 100% sure I can be as consistent (a daily blog is a big commitment) but I can try. So far, I'm thinking of something like this:

Music Monday - This bites a little bit from Adam Corolla's radio show, but it's a really great idea so I'll use it. At times I might just talk about different happenings in the music industry, my own music, or rank favorite songs.

Tuesday Sports - Tuesday is probably a good day to talk sports. Most likely baseball. Maybe NBA. Maybe Figure Skating. Who knows? Just seems like a good day to do it.

Wednesday Pop Culture - This could end up being sports also, but maybe I'll check in on TMZ and report the crazy stuff I find.

Thursday Wild Card - All topics are live on Thursday. Anything at all.

Friday TV - At least until Lost is over, then I'll re-evaluate. Feel free to recommend shows that I should watch.

We'll see if I can figure it out. Maybe I'll start doing it at lunch. I definitely want to put more effort in and I know that my blog is currently not on par with the greatness that can be blogging.

PS: What about funny picture day? That would be easy right?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back on the Horse

Ouch. My bad for taking a break. I start to write a few good posts and then take a vacation- that's no good! Where was I? Well, not on a real vacation, but I did work the last two nights at Tegan and Sara and Death Cab for Cutie. Both were sold out. Both were pretty cool. Here are some random notes since my last post:

- I'm ready to say it... this better not jinx anything... I believe the Cubs are a good baseball team. 14-6 to start the season is a pretty good start. They have had more home games than away games, but so far the offense has the most runs in the majors (besides the D'Backs?) and the back end of the bullpen looks great. I want more from Rich Hill and Ted Lilly, but overall I'm pleased.

- Do the Bengals need Ocho Cinco that bad? The Redskins insane owner and Tom Cruise lover, Daniel Snyder offered a 1st round pick this year, and a 3rd rounder next year for Chad Johnson. If I'm the Bengals, I have to take the deal. I mean, the Raiders only got a 4th rounder for Randy Moss. Instead, Cincinnati is holding a grudge and not trading him, thus depriving us of funny touchdown dances and the ever-popular "You got burned by 85" board on his locker.

- The NBA playoffs have started, and to be honest, I don't really care that much. I watched parts of a few games, but I'm not as into it without the Bulls (or Kings or Warriors) in it.

- Andrew Lloyd Webber night on American Idol doesn't interest me. I have no problem with the musicals, but I just don't dig them. I'm also still pissed that Michael Johns got voted off. I had that guy pegged to win it all and he got upset like a 2 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This is the first year I've actually watched the show and I'm just about over it.

- The A's are in first place. What?!

- I had a sore throat last week and canceled a recording session. Nothing bothers me more than canceling recording. Instead I went home and rested. It was not as fun. The new album is coming along nicely though. Updates to follow in the coming weeks.

- I saw "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" this weekend and it is a great movie! I totally recommend it. It is a funny, well-made movie. It's more accessible than Superbad and rivals 40-year-old Virgin for the best Apatow produced movie.

- Lost is coming back this week. Totally stoked for it. I have a feeling that the final 5 episodes will be very solid.

That's all for now- happy hump day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Entrance Music

As a frequent reader of Cubs.com, I always read through the Mailbag where fans ask the beat writer [many times stupid] questions and she attempts to answer them in the most white-washed and P.C. manner. One string of questions/comments did catch my eye- many people started writing in asking about Kerry Wood's entrance music.

The Cubs did not settle what music to play when Woody comes in during the 9th inning. So now you have everyone and their mother suggesting the "perfect" song for Kid K's entrance. Before I give my own suggestions, let's look at some of the other songs that have been on the minds of the people:

"Knock On Wood" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Besides the fact that this song is actually called "The Impression That I Get," why on earth would you seriously want to hear this song at a critical part of the game. I know the person who suggested this one. Well, I mean, I don't know them, but I've run across them a lot during my life. Oh, oh! I know! The lyric is "knock on WOOD!" His last name is WOOD! It's perfect! Ugh. C'mon.

"Enter Sandman" by Metallica - Not a bad song choice, but I'm pretty sure that Yankees' closer Mariano Rivera already comes out to that one. I bet their next suggestion was "Hells Bells." Can't we come up with something original? No? Oh that's right, these are probably the same guys came up with the parody of "YMCA" and sang "Shawn Green is gay." Yeah, that really happened in bleachers of Wrigley Field during Tom Glavine's 300th win (note: I was physically at both Greg Maddux's and Tom Glavine's 300th win. Pretty sweet, eh?)

Just Letting the Organist Play - Not a bad suggestion. Gary Pressy keeps Wrigley in that old-school vibe, so I wouldn't be mad if they decide to go with it, but they should decide which organ song to play. It better be a good one!

"You Can't Touch This" MC Hammer - What?! Not "Ice Ice Baby?"

"I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister - Again, not a bad suggestion. Nothing is scarier than Dee Snider in his movie "Strangeland" so why not try to psyche-out opponents with his classic hit? Then again, they might instead think about Stifler in Road Trip dancing to the song on the bus that he stole from the blind woman. It might lighten the mood enough to watch Woody blow another save.

Alright, those were not the best suggestions, so here's a list of what I would want to come out to:

"Hysteria" by Muse
"Organ Donor" by DJ Shadow
"Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith
"Immigrant Song" by Led Zepplin
"Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes

You could also pick any number of WWE theme songs. To their credit, someone did suggest Vince McMahon's theme song "No Chance In Hell." Unfortunately that's probably the odds of them ending up picking a great song.

Go Cubs!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Moneyball and the San Francisco Giants

Bay Area baseball is in dire straits right now. The A's traded fan favorites Nick Swisher and Dan Haren in the off-season, and it is very likely that Rich Harden and Joe Blanton will be gone by the trade deadline (how is Eric Chavez still on the team?)

However, the team across the Bay is even worse. They are the worst team in baseball. I'm pretty sure that me, three friends, and the starting five from the Women's Olympic Basketball team could generate more offense than the Giants. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are the bright spots in this otherwise dismal team.

For years I've thought that A's general manager Billy Beane was really smart, but I couldn't stand him getting rid of players too early that the fans know and love. But really, look how all of them have panned out:

Jason Giambi - Caught with steriods, the Yankees would rather not have him.

Migel Tejada - Caught with B-12 (aka steriods) and abilities have really declined. The Astros traded for him before the Mitchell report came out, and might regret it once he's brought up on perjury charges.

Mark Mulder - Never pitched as well for the Cardinals as he did for the A's. Currently injured for the last two years.

Barry Zito - Lost 5 mph off his fastball and doesn't look to have the control he once had on the A's.

Eric Chavez - The only guy they've retained and he's always injured and his skills are clearly declining.

Tim Hudson - Still a great pitcher for the Braves.

The A's have stayed competitive by shrewdly trading or not re-signing players to get younger players with more upside. The Giants NEED to take a look at the A's and mimic them for at least a couple years. Here's what I would do:

TRADE MATT CAIN AND TIM LINCECUM FOR "CAN'T MISS" OFFENSIVE PROSPECTS.

I totally agree this is crazy-talk for most Giants fans, but here's the logic. You only have Cain and Lincecum for a certain amount of years (and once it gets to arbitration, they'll only get more expensive.) Unless you can convince one of them to sign a 12 year deal, they're not doing any good pitching to 3-1 losses every game. Also, they'll never re-sign with your team if you can't give them offense. Cain was by far the most tough-luck losing pitcher of 2007. He's on track to go the same way this year. They clearly can't sign enough players to jump-start their offense, so how else will they get players who can hit?

The Giants also just hosted the All-Star game, brought all the big name players to their park, and showed them one thing: AT&T PARK SUCKS FOR HITTERS. Good luck getting offense now.

Signing Aaron Rowand isn't that bad because he can show young guys how to play hard, but please Brian Saben, NO MORE OLDER PLAYERS. If you're going to go young, then go young!!! Don't trade for Joe Crede. Don't sign Vlad Guerrero next year. Don't try to trade for Godzilla Matsui. Please, trade either Cain, Lincecum, or both and stock up the farm system. Feel free to get rid of Brian Wilson too if you need to. I mean, you did once trade Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser to the Twins for a bag of Doritos.

On a tangent, how did you trade Francisco Liriano? The marketing of Francisco on the San Francisco Giants alone makes him a keeper. Anyway, that was one of the worst trades ever.

Are you still not on board? How about the Orioles? They traded Erik Bedard for a bunch of great prospects. They are 6-1. The Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for prospects. They are 4-3. The Giants have kept their pitchers (who wants Alex Rios now?) and they are 2-6 (barely, how the Padres didn't pull that out tonight, I have no idea.)

In no way am I suggesting that we're looking at a Marlins/Orioles World Series, but I think they are more competitive than the Giants right now. To add to and sum up my idea for the Gigantes:

- Cut payroll temporarily to 50 million and mimic the A's "Moneyball" style.
- Trade Cain and Lincecum in separate deals and raid other organizations "can't miss" prospects (offense and pitching because you will need a couple pitchers to make up for losing Cain and Lincecum.)
- Play your young players. No one wants to watch Ray Durham. Get the young guys in there.
- Field a competitive team and then bring payroll back up and sign a couple players. Who knows, maybe you go get Cain or Lincecum to come back once you're more competitive.

Well, let's see some action Sabean. You better do something quick or else you'll be out of a job.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Running Up the Score

I was listening to sports talk radio the other day and someone called in to talk about the "classless" Denver Nuggets. They had pounded the Seattle (almost Oklahoma City) Sonics a couple times this season. In fact, they scored 168 points against them earlier this year. The Sonics upset the Nuggets the this past week and have put the Nuggets dangerously close to missing the playoffs. The caller was so happy that the Nuggets "got what they deserved." Basically Karma! got the Nuggets. Because they ran up the score, they deserved to lose to an inferior team.

Slow down.

I don't believe there is such a thing as running up the score. Did you hear me? I DON'T BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE TO RUN UP THE SCORE.

I believe that final scores are always accurate. And here is why:

- Teams should never give less effort to develop bad habits. If a team is clearly more dominant than other team, it is not good for the better team to play to the level of their opponent. It can sometimes develop bad habits cause vulnerability to other better teams. When you step onto the field of play, you owe it to yourself, your teammates, your coaches, and everyone who has played your respective sport to play your ass off.

- It is always possible to lose a game. Unless the other team forfeits the game, there is no reason to play less than your best. The Cubs gave up a 7-0 lead today against the terrible Pirates and ended up winning in 12 innings. No game is safe until it is a final. Play your hardest until it is over.

- Taking your stars out of the game is not always necessary. The New England Patriots were conisistently beating teams by 20 or more points by halftime to start the NFL season last year. Taking the stars out at that point would actually cause more harm that good. They needed the live reps to stay sharp and in shape. This helped them play well in games that were closer against better, more talented teams. On top of that, a coach does take the risk of injury by leaving the stars in, and that's a decision they need to live with. It doesn't matter what an opponent who is getting absolutely dominated thinks.

- Stop crying. If your team sucks that bad that you are going to cry about a better team whooping you, then you need more practice and less complaining. Be more concerned with your own performance, not the other team that completely destroys.

I'll never understand people complaining about this. Ever. There's really no excuse for crying. Get better and stop worrying about the other team. You might actually improve your performance instead of staying at the bottom of the league.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Definition of Let Down

The Detroit Tigers.

They make a huge splash during the off-season and acquire Migel Cabrera and D-Train Willis from Florida. They look to have a potent offense, and even better pitching staff with Verlander, Rogers, Bonderman, Robertson, and some other guy. So they are expected to roll through the season and dominate the league. Not so, my friends.

The Kansas City Royals shut down the Tigers' offense, exposed the Tigers' bullpen, and swept them 3-0 the last three games. Yes. The Royals. You might know them as the terrible team that never amounts to anything. If the Tigers can't handle that kind of pressure, I shutter to think what will happen with the Indians, Yankees, Red Sox- hell, even the Rays are looking better than the Motor City Kittens.

This is even coming from a die-hard Cubs fan. The Cubs played awful against the Brew Crew and don't look like the team media "experts" have picked to win the Central. That being said, I'm way more confident in the Cubs than the Tigers right now. That team looks flat, fat (thanks Migel Cabrera), and not scary at all.

Maybe it's time for Jim Leyland to retire- again. They caught lightning in a bottle two years ago (until they got rolled in the Series) and then let their guard down last year. Coming out of nowhere to be good is way different than having World Series expectations isn't Detroit? You better recover soon or you're not catching the Indians.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Savages of the Day


Ah, what a beautiful opening day. Besides the Cubs losing to the Brewers, I enjoyed it thoroughly. My fantasy team is kicking ass (107 - 37 so far this week.) My pitchers all had quality starts (C'mon Angels, where's the run support?!) My hitters are hitting consistently. Here are my picks for SAVAGES OF THE DAY. Each award is judged solely on my opinion of what a savage is, and what level of savagery a particular player displayed.

Jake Peavy - This guy started off the season in fantastic fashion. 7 INN, 4 K, 3 H, 0 R. Jake, you're so damn good why don't you relax and have a drink? In fact, drink an entire bottle! Since I'm in a keeper league, no one will even sniff this guy for years. I won't trade him or drop him at the end of the season. It's perfect.

Carlos Gomez - And to think I didn't believe the Mets gave up much to get Johan Santana. Apparently this guy is a baller. He gets on base, swipes bags, and produces runs. The Twins will not be that great this year, but they can definitely be a competitive pain in the ass for contenders. On a side note, for all you SF Giants fans, this is the exact type of player that your team needs to be somewhat decent. Dave Roberts isn't getting it done- and neither are any of the young'ns that the Giants will run out there this year.

Kouske Fukudome - WOW. The Cubs may have lost to the Brew-Crew, but I think it was overall a great day. Zambrano pitched well, Marmol looked awesome, and even Wood didn't pitch awful (despite the way it looks in the box score.) But NOTHING was as good as Fukudome properly striking balls all over the field. 3 for 3 with a single, double, walk, and 3 run homer to tie the game in the ninth. It is very exciting to think about how good this guy could be. Unfortunately, Cubs fans will boo him tomorrow if he strikes out once. I probably could write a completely separate blog about the pathetic Cubs fans that boo players and give Cubs fans a terrible rep throughout the sporting community. Oh, well. For now- FUKUDOME!

The Kansas City Royals - Clearly over-matched by the over-hyped Detroit Tigers, the Kansas City Royals exposed the Tigers weakness on the first day of the season- their bullpen. What a talented team the Tigers are, but they might end up finishing second in their division if they can't get their relief pitching together. I predicted them to win the division, but I'm not so sure anymore. They'd clearly be in much better shape of Zumaya hadn't gotten hurt, but I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know. The Royals came up big yesterday, and they should enjoy their one day in first place. They earned it.

Honorable Mention: The Weather Systems in the Midwest and East, Brad Penny, and the Washington Nationals.

Opposite of Savage Mention: Joe Morgan's Commentary, Eric Gagne, and Mark Hendrickson's opening day start.