Friday, May 30, 2008

Cubs Win! Holy Cow!

After being down 8-0 to the defending National League Champion Colorado Rockies, the Cubs came back and won 10-9. These Cubs are definitely setting expectations high. Cubs fans have a tendency to over-value how good they are, but I think these guys are pretty legit.

I do agree they need one more pitcher to get them through the playoffs, but I have no idea who will be available. Anybody else know?

It's a good day. Tomorrow I'm going to watch my brothers play in the North Coast Section Champions for baseball at the Oakland Coliseum. They're 24-2 so here's to closing out a great season!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Your Blog Is a Pretty Big Deal- But It's Not the Champ!

First, watch this clip of Ric Flair circa 1988:

I never was a huge Ric Flair fan, but this clip is fantastic. If wrestlers had to take a class on making promos, this would be in the curriculum. Here are the things he does well:

- He demeans the city he's in. Heels in wrestling have to call out the city where they perform. Make fun of their sports teams. Cheer for the their rivals. Play up negative stereotypes. Dale Murphy and Hershel Walker get made fun of in this case and it's perfect.

- Use a catch phrase. Repeat it over and over. Like clockwork he builds people up and then says, "But he's not the champ!" The slight cackle after each one helps as well.

- Be egotistical. He talks about how he is rich, famous, gets all the girls, etc. To be a heel, you have to be an asshole.

- Call out every wrestler, not just the one you are fighting in the near future. Flair names off all of his possible opponents, not just Lex Lugor. Why be focused on your next match when you can use your face time to talk crap about all the other wrestlers you're going to work over with a Figure-Four Leg Lock.

- This isn't really a rule for promos, but how funny is it that his voice cracks when he says, "Black people?" He sounds like he is a 14 year old teenager.

My friend Ben (bartender, G St Pub) and I have started using Ric Flair's catch phrase on a daily basis. It usually is best when talking about inanimate objects. For example, someone comes up to order drinks. "Two shots of jager and a Bud." To which you stir up the conversation, "Wow, that's a pretty strong drink order. Seriously, that's a great drink order... but IT'S NOT THE CHAMP!" You can throw in a "WOOOOOO!" for good measure. Feel free to use it. If nothing else, people you don't know will give you a crooked look and people will think you're crazy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Watch the Spurs? I'll Pass...

I hate the San Antonio Spurs. Why? I have no idea. It could be because they are boring. It could be because I don't see much personality in their collective robotic nature. It could be because I don't enjoy NBA basketball as much as I used to.

And to be honest, my past experience would lead me to think I'd enjoy the Spurs. I played basketball under Coach Frank Allocco (former USA Today High School Coach of the Year) and we played a similar game to the Spurs. We were very fundamentally sound, won a lot of games, didn't over celebrate or act like jerks. I'm sure other teams hated us because we won a lot, but I'm also sure that we couldn't care less about what they thought. It was all about winning.

However, we I look to my television for pure entertainment, I can't turn on the Western Conference playoffs because the Spurs don't interest me.

Tim Duncan - you are boring. You are probably the best power forward to have played since I was born, and I don't want to watch any of your games.

Tony Parker - you are boring. You're quick, you're smart, you're wife is hot, and I would rather watch re-runs of "Saved by the Bell" (maybe that's a bad example because that's a great show!) than watch you play.

Manu Ginobili - you are boring! You are as close as the Spurs get to exciting. You play with heart and get to the basket almost at will. You are an amazing basketball talent, but I'd rather hand wash a sink full of dishes than watch your balding head play basketball.

I know a lot of other people feel the same way. I put up a half serious post on the messages boards about how I'd rather watch a Pirates/Nationals baseball game than watch a Spurs playoff game. One bitter Texan was not pleased, but for the most part people agreed. Some said the NBA as a whole was boring, but there was more agreement than disagreement. This one sums it up nicely:

"i don't know about you, but i just absolutely hate the Spurs. and the worst part is...i don't know why. i've always hated the "dynasty" teams like the Yankees, patriots, and spurs, but there's something about SA that makes me want to punch babies. maybe it's their over-seas talent (too much of a good thing...). maybe it's their players (i absolutely despise ginobili and his ability to score at will, duncan is almost completely dependent on the glass, and parker is just too damn fast). maybe it's their style of play. either way, i'd rather see a bucs/nats game, too, so i'm just letting you know, you're not alone."

So in the end, I suppose the Spurs are the basketball equivalent to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I respect RHCP as musicians, and I understand they are good at what they do, but I'd rather go to the eye doctor and do the "Which is better, 1 or 2, 1 or 2? 3 or 4? 5 or 6?" test than listen to any of their boring music for an extended period of time.

PS: I truly do hate "Big Shot Bob" Robert Horry. He's a really good reason to hate the Spurs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

High Class Highlights

I needed a couple videos to help me wake up/make me smile.


Even more savage:

SNL: MacGruber!

Charles Barkley speaks the truth:

This is either tragic and awful or hilarious. I haven't decided yet:

And finally, where was this kid on American Idol this year?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Music Monday: Have I Been On Tour?

I haven’t had much time to do anything but play music recently. I played a show in Walnut Creek on Friday night, Saturday morning in Downtown Vacaville, Saturday night at in Lodi, and Sunday night in Davis. It was a little tiring, but to be honest I want more. Who wants to start paying me full time to play shows???

I don’t have too much to write about today as my brain is a little fried from all the shows, but here are some quick notes from the weekend:

If Jake Peavy is injured, my fantasy baseball team is done. He’d be the 3rd important piece of my team gone and I don’t think my team has enough firepower to win consistently without the jager chugging (my favorite picture of an athlete ever) beast of a pitcher.

To the d-bag who tried to start a problem at the Farmer’s Market in Vacaville on Saturday: Please get off the drugs and stop causing problems at 10am. Stop asking to play my guitar and stop reaching into the tip can. There is nothing more sleezy than someone stealing money from a performer working for tips. We all know you’re destined for prison time, so I guess I can’t be that mad.

Four hours is a long time to play music at once, but it feels shorter every time I do it. Maybe I’m in better musical shape (vocals, guitar calluses, etc.)

I’ve been told by a friend that if I learn an acoustic version of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (the Remix)” by May 30th, he’ll put a $100 bill in my tip pitcher. Keep in mind, Shay, I don’t want five $20s.

I haven’t seen “Iron Man. Oh, well.

I watched most of game 7 between the Cavs and Celtics. I have no idea who I was cheering for. I didn’t care who won, but the game was pretty exciting none-the-less. I pretty much hate all the teams left in the playoffs.

The Cubs are a bunch of savages, but they need another pitcher to truly win the World Series. I really like the direction they are going though- Dempster is 5-1; seriously?!

Since I’ve been on a huge Crowded House kick, I’ve also played a lot of their songs live. I thought people would be annoyed, and in fact I was wrong. People were more concerned about who they were and how many albums they have. 5 studio albums, one greatest hits, a few live records, and Neil Finn has two Finn Brothers and two solo records. Plenty of music to go around.

I hope your Monday is fantastical and exciting.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Best Concerts Ever

As an avid music fan and musician, I tend to see a lot of shows. Case in point, I drove my ass to San Francisco to see Crowded House last night. I know many people are not familiar, or only know "Don't Dream It's Over" but for my money, their songs are better than any other band out there. They're sort of like the Beatles, if the Beatles were quirky New Zealanders who actually enjoyed playing live. I'm pretty sure it was the best concert I've ever seen, but I know that anyone who has a fun time at a concert is liable to say that without thinking about it, so here is a list of the best concerts I've ever seen. Feel free to add in your best concert experience:

- Pearl Jam at Spartan Stadium in San Jose - This was a make up concert for Eddie Vedder getting sick at Golden Gate Fields in San Francisco (which was my first concert ever.) Ben Harper actually opened the show before anyone knew who the hell he was. Pearl Jam's set was very solid, and they are very active as a band. Their set was comprised of mostly songs from Ten, Vs., and Vitalogy (which was awesome and you would NEVER get that now if you saw them.) Overall, a great show.

- Dave Matthews Band at Concord Pavilion in Concord - My friends and I scalped tickets for this and paid $10 below face value due to a scalper becoming very desperate. The seats were about 8 rows from the stage on the side. I remember them playing a great selection of songs. I've seen the band 12 times (though, I'm not that into them anymore) and this was the best one of all of them. The second best was probably when I saw them at the Alpine Amphitheater in East Troy, Wisconsin. Luckily there was a show going on because that city is the armpit of the universe.

- Paul Simon and Bob Dylan at Concord Pavilion in Concord - My friend scored (same one from the DMB story) scored some free tickets for this gem in 1999. We sat about 12 rows away, but closer to center to watch two legends of rock get after it. Dylan opened, and at the time, I was embarrassingly not as into him as I am today. He still put on a great show, occasional mumbling aside. Paul Simon absolutely blew everyone away. He played a wide variety of songs between hits, non-hits, solo stuff and Simon and Garfunkel tunes. Definite bonus points for this show because 1) it was free and 2) I was pulled over by a cop for speeding to the concert and he let me go. In fact, I'm fairly certain that the cop's racism was why he didn't give me a ticket, but that's a story for another day...

- Muse at the Concourse in San Francisco - This band absolutely shreds. They are (by FAR) the most rocking band playing live these days. By toeing the line between metal, pop, rock, industrial, and classical music they've separated themselves from many people's original diagnosis as a Radiohead copycat. If you like rock, go buy (illegally download?) their albums immediately. Start with Absolution, then get Black Holes and Revelations. This particular show was also free for me and went with a friend who had just gotten back in the country from Europe. Very good times.

- Crowded House at the Fillmore in San Francisco - The show last night kicked major ass. They played from 9-11:20, took requests from the audience, promoted audience participation, were very funny, and played damn near every song I could've asked for. They even broke into "American Woman" by the Guess Who out of nowhere. The conversation on stage drifted toward Canadian rock (which was due to some audience members yelling out something) and their multi-instrumentalist, Mark Hart, had to switch instruments to play it and he ended up singing it as well. It was like watching a band fully know how good they are, but take the time to goof off a little and challenge themselves with unrehearsed songs and little jams. It was such a wonderful, wonderful show.

Other shows that kicked ass, but didn't make it on the list:

Oasis and Third Eye Blind at Bill Graham Civic in SF
Wilco at the Vic Theatre in Chicago
Verve Pipe, Tonic, K's Choice at the Vic Theatre in Chicago
Neil Finn at the Seventh Note in San Francisco
Radiohead at Shoreline in Mountain View
Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline in Mountain View
Bright Eyes at Freeborn Hall in Davis
Nine Inch Nails at Freeborn Hall in Davis
Pixies at Freeborn Hall in Davis
DJ Shadow at the Warfield in SF

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Music Monday and Tuesday

I've been working on songs in the studio, so the update on my next album goes as follows:

I've already laid down tracks for the following songs, but have not 100% finished them:

As You Wish, Astronomy, Kids Playing Guns In the Street, What's Inside, Second Rate Song (electric guitars), Shallow Water Blackout, Saturday Boy, and 50 Stories

I'm waiting to lay these two down with my drummer, Bart:

Neon Sign and This Time Around

I haven't started on these, but will very soon:

What's the Past Got In Store? and You're Not Just Another Girl (acoustic)

I've laid down and pretty much scrapped these:

For Better or For Worse, Dial Me Up, and This Time Around (demo)

As you can see, this is taking quite awhile, but luckily I've been playing TONS of shows to help pay for recording costs and such. It won't be released until it's ready so thank you for being patient. I'll continue to update here as I do more.

Now on to some sports...

- I had to keep myself in check over the weekend. I have been saying all year that it is NOT World Series or bust for the Cubs, but I felt the crazy Cub Fan inside of me try to break out and go nuts after they swept the Diamondbacks. The Cubs' offense is getting on base and using timely hitting to have the #1 offense in the league. The Cubs' pitching is keeping them in games, with their bullpen holding steady. That is definitely a recipe for success. On top of that, my dream of a Cubs vs. Marlins playoff rematch would be in tact at the moment. I doubt the Fish can keep it up, but that would be some sweet vengeance.

- Fantasy Baseball did not smile on me this week. My team put up the worst showing I've seen any team have since I've been participating in Fantasy. I had Jered Weaver and Brad Penny get lit up. Papelbon blow two saves, Izzy lose his closer job due his terrible performance, and I think my team offense struck out 43 times (thanks Chris Young AZ.) My team is still in first, but wow, what an implosion!

- NBA playoffs are not interesting to me. None of my teams are in it. Only the home teams are winning. LeBron shoots about 9% from the field. I'll pass on this round. The highlights are ok, but wake me up when I can watch an entire game.

That's all I've got today. I'm looking to come back with some stronger material tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Video Dump

Here are some funny videos for today. First off, here's the 7 year old kid who stole his grandma's car. He's so unapologetic I could swear that he's related to Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones.

This video was so popular that it was actually referenced in "X-Men 3: The Last Stand."

Ever wonder how other cultures potty-train their kids? Look now further...

We've all played pick up basketball against a guy like this:

Lastly, we have a live performance from Flight of the Conchords. Love the show as well and can't wait for Season 2.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Quick Hits

Cedric Benson is a hooligan - The Bears worst number 1 draft pick since Curtis Enis was arrested on Boating Under the Influence and Resisting Arrest charges. He failed a field sobriety test, was asked to come ashore for further testing, resisted and got pepper sprayed in the face. Benson does deny that he was drunk and also says the cops roughed him up for no reason. Now, I guess I don't know who is right or wrong in this situation, but Cedric's prior attitude as a teammate does not help me believe his story. For instance, I'm more inclined to believe a gun-wielding Marvin Harrison than the selfish, not tough Cedric Benson. In fact, I hope this is enough to help Benson lose his roster spot on the Bears. I'm thinking he would fit in better on the Cowboys or Bengals anyway.

Gavin Floyd has his no-hit bid broken up in the 9th - While I hate the White Sox, I did pick up Floyd this week for my fantasy team. He had two starts and I figured he'd do alright. Boy was I right! It's too bad Joe Mauer broke it up with a double in the ninth. Did you see Nick Swisher dive to try and catch that ball though? That's what I want in a teammate. Swisher is missed in the Bay Area.

PETA Sucks - What can I say about PETA that hasn't already been said? I'm not a fan of them. I absolutely love animals, but the tactics PETA use to get attention are just awful. In case you missed it, Eight Belles (the horse) finished second in the Kentucky Derby and then promptly broke both of her ankles. The horse was writhing in pain and had to be euthanized on the track. This is absolutely tragic. PETA is now using it to gain support against horse racing. Yeah, these horses that are essentially celebrities and get fed better than most humans need a voice against their awful lifestyle. It was an accident and it was terrible, but please have some perspective PETA people.

NBA apologizes about Detriot time operator - What? The Chauncy Billups three-pointer at the end of the third quarter should not have counted, the NBA admitted that 5.1 seconds were on the clock, the play took 5.7 seconds, but due to the clock "malfunction" it did. This play changed the entire dynamic of the game and I think it's awful that they apologize, but essentially do nothing. Just when you think you've seen it all, there are more problems with refs, clocks, rules, and judgement calls. Sports is the best reality show ever.

Well, better late than never, but I'll be back tomorrow.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Music Monday: 90’s Alt Rock Bands/Songs

In celebration of the Stone Temple Pilots’ reunion, this entry of Music Monday will be talking about some of the best songs and bands from the 90’s. I may try to pick lesser known tracks from the albums, but if a song is great, then it’s going on the list- radio play or not. If I happen to miss a few, feel free to add on to the list:

“Army Ants” by Stone Temple Pilots – This song is one the first CD I ever owned. I got it for my birthday between seventh and eighth grade. I can see why it never got radio play, but it is very catchy, very rocking, and has a savage drum solo in the middle. The whole album builds toward this song. The final track (and bonus song) only serves to bring the listener back down from crescendo of “Army Ants.”

“The Day I Tried to Live” by Soundgarden – This comes from the second CD I ever owned. “Superunknown” is 15 tracks long and I really feel like this one is the best one. Great intro guitar riff that leads into a bassy drum beat (lots of deep tom drums) and odd timing (is it 7/8- I’m not quite sure.) Chris Cornell shows off his vocal range and destroys this song. Most of the songs on the list succeed because they rock hard, but still keep an accessible sensibility about them- this song is no exception.

“Would?” by Alice In Chains – The drop D bass intro is still one of the best bass riffs I’ve ever heard. Creepy vibe through the verse, catchy chorus, and extremely underrated vocal harmonies between Lane Staley and Jerry Cantrell.

“Last Exit” by Pearl Jam – I just love the way this song kicks off the “Vitalogy” record. My band in high school was eventually named “Last Exit” and it was after this song. Truly, Pearl Jam could have a lot of songs on this list because they absolutely know what they’re doing as a band (I’m not as into their more recent stuff, but they still get it whereas many bands lose their way after two albums.)

“Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” by Nirvana – Ah, what might’ve been. Kurt Cobain is the Len Bias of rock and roll (though I suppose the comparison is more fair if Bias had had a few stellar NBA season before passing away.) This song shows the direction that Nirvana was headed before Kurt committed suicide (or murdered depending on what report you believe.) It is amazing to me how non-pop Cobain tried to be, but still couldn’t help but write songs that the majority of people liked. True, they were not the best musicians (though Dave Grohl is clearly a savage) but they made ridiculously awesome music that many people have tried to copy, but no one can get it quite right.

“Mr. Self Destruct” by Nine Inch Nails – This song is beefed up with synthesizers and a dirty guitar riff. Trent Reznor is still one of the best arrangers in rock and that may go down as his biggest strength – layering and arranging.

“The Bends” by Radiohead – Still one of my favorite bands, the entire “The Bends” record is a masterpiece. Each song is perfect. It’s really hard to pick just one song so I went with the title track. It encompasses the direction that Radiohead was going with the record, and where their career was headed. You can’t just accidentally write and record an album that great- and they’ve proved to be the class of the business to this day.

“Only In Dreams” by Weezer – I didn’t like Weezer when they first came out, but their goofy geek rock grew on me over the years. Rivers is actually a pretty underrated songwriter and this song shows off softer sides, but rocks near the end. The eight minute ballad closes out Weezer’s blue album in solid fashion.

“Hello” by Oasis – I dig Oasis. They ripped off the Beatles a ton (who hasn’t?) and the Gallagher brothers tried to start more fights in the 90’s than Wilt Chamberlain slept with women in the 60’s. Remember when he said he hoped Damon Albarn of Blur (now of the Gorillaz) would get AIDS and die? You can’t get that good of smack talk on the best nights of WWE! Anyway, “Hello” rocks and kicks off the “Morning Glory” album with a bang.

I’m sure a missed a few, but these songs stand out as ones I still enjoy listening to today.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Nick Swardson: RAGE!

I went to see Nick Swardson last night at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Most people know him as the dude who hooked up with the silverfox in “Grandma’s Boy,” the stalker from “Blades of Glory,” or Terry from “Reno 9-1-1.” Beyond that, he’s a damn funny stand-up comedian. In fact, I laughed so hard that I realized I was out of laughing-shape. Remind to request a class at 24 Hour Fitness to build up endurance and strength for my diaphragm. Highlights from the set include:

- He mentioned the old school (5 years ago) Sacramento Kings teams. Jason Williams is not white- his parents are definitely black-albino.
- His trip to the Asian massage parlor at age 19. Age of his “masseuse”- between 68-80.
- On the set of “Grandma’s Boy” the dude who played Dante smoked real weed instead of the fake movie weed. This was a bad idea because they would do 20 takes in a row and Dante would be way too high.
- His affinity for blacking out drunk. He loves getting the night recapped to him when he can’t remember it. It feels like he was a secret double agent.
- He hates cocky girls who claim they can out drink guys. They drink hard for an hour and then end up crying and throwing up.
- On Myspace his sexual orientation is “Not Sure” even though he is straight. It’s only because he thinks it is hilarious that “Not Sure” is an option.
- His story about the high-fiving monkey in Vegas was ridiculously funny. He kept paying a monkey a dollar and the monkey would high-five him. He started upping the ante hoping something new would happen (he was wasted) and then paid the monkey a $100 bill and still got a high five. Then, a beautiful woman came up and give $1 to the monkey. It ran up to her shoulder and started dancing on her shoulder. He was pissed that the monkey didn’t dance on this shoulder (contemplated getting a wig and a dress to get it done.) He went back to his buddies and they asked, “How are you doing?” He replied, “I’m down $300.” “Damn. Was it poker or blackjack?” “Neither. Monkey high-fives.”
- The end of “Blades of Glory” was originally going to be his stalker character setting up a sniper rifle and killing Jimmy’s adopted dad.

It was a really great show. But of course, no event is complete without its pitfalls. The biggest negative was the two girls that were placed behind us about ¾ of the way through the show. I can only theorize that these chatty-Kathy’s were moved from another spot due to complaints. The problems were many-fold. First, if they were familiar with a bit that Nick was doing, they would try to say the joke in unison with him. We’ve all seen his Comedy Central special. That’s why we’re here. We all know the bit about how he loves the word “retarded” but unfortunately I paid money to hear him tell his own joke, not to hear you double his voice (best case scenario) or more likely, stumble though the bit making you the worst super-reverb echo box I’ve ever heard.

Second, one of the girls was talking to someone else on their cell-phone at some point. You do realize that comedy shows and movies require the same courtesy, right? People are paying money to be entertained, not to hear you talk to your friend about how funny the show is and your recent doctor’s visit diagnosing you with a bladder infection. C’mon!

Third, one girl was showing the other girl some pictures on her camera. Either, these were previously taken photos that clearly didn’t need explanations right in the middle of the Nick Swardson show, or they were pictures that she had just taken, which again, do not need any explanation. “Look at this great picture I just took! I’m so excited about this picture that I don’t give a shit what the comedian on stage that I won’t get another chance to see live in a long time is saying! Yay for cute pictures!”

So of course, I looked back a couple times (which I hate because there’s no need to make a stand while at a comedy show) and eventually mouthed “Keep it down!” Then I get smart-ass remarks directed my way, “Oh, can we laugh? Is that ok?” YES! In fact it’s preferred to your mindless jibber-jabber during jokes that distract everyone in the near vicinity. I once saw Dave Chappelle and he could barely tell jokes because people kept yelling “I’m Rick James, Bitch!” or “Charlie Murphy!” at him. He almost walked off canceled the show. He explained that they way it works is that we (the audience) paid money to hear him tell jokes. He’ll say something, we mull it over. If it’s funny, then we laugh. If not, we don’t. Then we move on to the next joke. The girls from last night took it to a new level because they were so self-absorbed that they couldn’t go an hour and half without making everything about them. Their conversation, their versions of Swardson’s act, their pictures on their camera. Why don’t we add their mistaken sense of how important they think they are to the list.

One last thing bothered me about the situation. The two girls were sitting with a guy. That guy sat there and did nothing- NOTHING I tell ya! If your girlfriend, sister, friend with benefits, or girl that he’s hanging out with because he likes her but has found his way into the “friend-zone” is talking through a comedy performance, you have the responsibility to rationally tell her to shut up. He just sat there with his arms folded thinking “give me cancer now, God!” It felt like the old SNL sketch where Chris Farley is that woman going through the Zagat’s restaurant guide and Adam Sandler is the husband who can’t take the yapping. Grow some backbone or please mimic Sandler’s character from the skit by taking sleeping pills and putting yourself out of your misery. You’re just as responsible as the bimbo-brigade.

Phew! I know that was a lot of negative stuff, but I overall had a great time. Swardson is hilarious! Check him out ASAP.

Update: On top of all that, my girlfriend sent Nick a Myspace message after the show, and he already responded saying, “Thanks for coming. I also had fun. Party.” It’s pretty awesome that someone would take time out to respond to the fans.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

NBA Re-Allignment?

Heard about this on the radio and thought I'd throw up a quick link. Seems like an interesting proposal from Bob Fitzgerald (Warriors announcer and radio talk show host.)


Seems reasonable. What do you think?

Great Stand Up Comedian: Brian Regan

Instead of talking about Blogs and their impact on sports and journalism today (I think every other blog is doing that today) I'm just going to dump some videos on you. Brian Regan is a fantastic and relatively clean comic who has been going at it since the early 80's. I recommend his stuff, and here are a few examples to get you started: