Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost "The Variable"

- The opening has Desmond recovering from the phantom milk gun shot wound that clearly didn't hit him.
- Eloise Hawking comes to talk to Penny- and admits that she's Daniel's mother. Penny and Daniel brother and sister???
- Daniel returns to the island in the sub and gets Miles to take him to Jack. He's talking crazy asking Jack how he got back.
- Daniel says his mother was wrong to tell Jack that this was the island's destiny. Dan, I got bad news for ya- I think you might be wrong in this instance. Never trust a guy with an injured brain.
- Excellent piano playing for a young bloke in braces. Oh, it's young Dan getting a talking to by his mom about destiny. She is really big on destiny, isn't she?
- Damn. I'm glad my mom never made me quit music! I don't like you Eloise! You're lame!
- Jack visiting Sawyer- I miss the days when Jack and Sawyer used to butt heads and fight over Kate.
- Cameo by Phil. He's tied up in the closet. Exactly where that lame-o should be.
- Looks like we're revisiting the opening scene from the Season. Daniel is down in the construction area of the Orchid.
- Alright, Dan's going to talk to Pierre Chang. Dan's asking for Chang to evacuate the island. He's letting him in on some serious future talk.
- Break it down- Dan tells Chang that Miles is his son. Aw- Miles! Why you gots to lie? You could've had a tender father from the past/son from the future type moment.
- Eloise is back at it. If I was Daniel's girlfriend, I wouldn't stand for Ms. Hawking's lip.
- Daniel talking about research grants- why is no one surprised that the grant is from Charles Widmore.
- Dan's mom gives him his journal. I wonder if there is anything already written in it besides the inscription. For example, could Eloise have been the one to say "Desmond Hume is my constant" rather than Dan?
- Town hall meeting for all the 815ers and friends. They are realizing that the writers have decided that the survivors in Dharma-ville is boring. Time to move back to the beach.
- Good to see you Twitchy. Great nickname Sawyer!
- Dan needs to find the hostiles to see his mom in the past. What- is he going to find her to get one of her awful peptalks?
- Now we're revisiting a scene from Season 4. Dan's crying and look who it is- Charles Widmore.
- The Wired magazine on the couch says "The Impossible Gets Real." It also says "The Super Power Issue - X-Ray Vision, Invisability, Time Travel."
- Finally! Confirmation that Charles Widmore was actually the one who put the fake 815 plane at the bottom of the ocean.
- Dan's going back to the island so it can heal his brain- just like Locke's lame legs. How does that island decide who heals and who doesn't? Jack had his appendix problem, Ben had a spinal tumor, yet other people heal like that. I wonder how the island decides.
- Sawyer getting snippy with Jack. Jack responds by trying to use Kate to get info. Sawyer is not too happy.
- HG Wells! That's two great nicknames!
- Sawyer just called Kate "Freckles." Bad move calling your ex-lady by a pet name in from of your current lady. Bad form, James.
- Time to pack up folk- onward to the beach again.
- Kate and her guns- is it always necessary? Yes, yes it is.
- C'mon Dan. That's nice of you to tell Charolette to get off the island, but why do it in such a creepy way? By the way, it's 1977 in this scene. Charolette was born 1979- did she time travel as a child? Nah, I believe the writers admitted it was a boo-boo.
- I admit I thought Radzinsky was going to be an awesome character. Turns out he's bat-shit crazy and pretty annoying.
- Fire-fight! Damn, it's nice to see Jack and Kate shooting things up. This Dharma-ville setting for the Season has lacked action for these characters- I dig them getting back into it.
- Dan can't play piano any longer. He does not look like he's in good sorts. Eloise is here to make it "better." Literally, she is quickly becoming one of my least favorite characters.
- Eloise looks like Satan lives in her eyes. I really don't know how else to explain that comment, but she looks evil.
- Nice blue Jeep. Not as cool as a silver Jeep, but whatever.
- "This is our present. Any one of us can die." Ooh- somebody's going to die. I know foreshadowing when I see it!
- Sawyer is having a really hard time dealing with this change. Dharma life has made him soft- time to unleash the beast.
- Stu finds Phil in the closet. That could be the name of a movie I don't want to watch.
- Daniel is now explaining some complicated stuff. He's explaining a way for them to prevent the 815 plane crash from ever happening. Well guess what dude- in no way would it be ok for you to do something that would wipe clean all the history we've watched for the last five years. I'm pretty sure your audience would not be cool with that. There's a variable for you- your viewing audience!
- Dan wants to detonate a hydrogen bomb, eh? Really? Just like that? This fool is crazy.
- Back in the hospital with Penny and Eloise. Eloise admits that she really doesn't know what is going to happen next- damn she's like Biff from Back to the Future 2- Unfortuntaely, it looks like she's gotten to the end of her Almanac.
- Desmond is alive. I was literally worried more about the swine flu than him dying.
- So Widmore is Daniel's father. From the tone of Eloise, it sounds like something bad is going to happen to Mr. Faraday. How the hell did he get that last name anyway? Widmore and Hawking don't add up to Faraday- do they?
- Good plan- let's go to the Others' camp wielding a firearm. Terrible plan crazy dude.
- Richard Alpert sighting!
- Dammit. Daniel is shot- by his own mom! She knew the whole time she was sending him to get shot by her. That is super lame. There better be a good explanation for this later on.

Well there it is. A Faraday-centric episode that led to his demise. Overall, great episode- but you already knew I was going to say that didn't you?

Top Ten Cover Songs (Part 2)

5. Hard to Handle by The Black Crowes (Otis Redding) - I remember watching this video as a kid and not knowing what the heck the lyrics were. I will say that I only recently found out that this was a cover song at all (I suppose I'm not a huge Otis Redding fan- and no, I'm not insinuating that I don't like him.) Anyway, the Black Crows sped up the tempo just a bit and used a solid cleanly distorted guitar (didn't that even make sense?) to make their version the most known version of the song. They also change the lyrics a tad going from "Pretty little thing..." to "Hey, little thing..." which actually changes the phrasing more than one would think. Overall, great song no matter who is singing it.

4. Hurt (or Personal Jesus, Father and Son, or Redemption Song) by Johnny Cash (Nine Inch Nails) - We're going to stick with Nine Inch Nails, but I want to mention that Johnny Cash did a lot of great cover songs later in life. He took songs by Depeche Mode, Cat Stevens, Bob Marly, and Soundgarden and made them his own. As far as "Hurt" goes, it may actually be more emotionally charged than the NIN version. Cash sings in his classic baritone range over a soft arrangement that really grabs the listener. Helped by the video that came out for the song that showed him as an old man while mixing in clips of his younger days- it is just an emotionally fantastic cover song all the way around.

3. All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan) - This could be the most covered song ever. I get so bored when bands decide to cover this song nowadays, but if we go back to the beginning we'll see that Jimi Hendrix made this song his own. I'd argue that Jimi's version (while it may or may not be better) is more popular than that Bobby D's. The addition of Hendrix's wizard-like (do wizards even play guitars?) electric guitar with a more organized/listenable vocal line make this an excellent version of the poetic Dylan song. Side note: I'm not sure I've ever had the urge to light a guitar on fire- don't you think smashing one would be a lot more fun?

2. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (Leonard Cohen) - This version is better than the original. I don't care what Leonard Cohen fans say. Jeff Buckley really tapped into the heart of this song and made it better. The etherial way he sings the song to go along with the ultra clean guitar still amazes me. It is an absolute shame that Buckley drowned because that guy was one impressive musician. If this song is an example of where his music was going, then the world missed out on a lot more great tunes.

1. Wonderwall by Ryan Adams (Oasis) - I don't even have to say this song is better than the original- the writer of the song, Noel Gallagher, heard this version and told Ryan Adams, "The song is all yours." Not to mention that Adams opened for Oasis this past year on tour in large part because of his version of "Wonderwall." The tempo is slowed down, the arrangement is stripped to an acoustic guitar, stand up bass, and some ambient sounds for a great effect. Adams subtly changed the vocal phrasing and this version is absolutely stellar. If you haven't heard it- go check it out!

So what have we learned? Great cover tunes most likely do something original to give a different take on an older song. They have to keep the emotional value of the original song in tact, while hopefully adding a new dimension. It is a very difficult thing to pull off, but these ten songs do it very well. Let me know your favorite cover songs- or tell me some that I should've included.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top Ten Cover Songs

Today we'll be looking at great cover songs. Keep in mind, these are the best cover songs according to my opinion. As with my other Top Tens, I already know there will be debates with my choices, but feel free to leave omissions in the comment section. I went through the majority of of my 11,000 iPod songs and beyond to come up with a list that I like. I started with about 30 songs and eliminated them one by one to come up with this solid group. A songs qualifies as a cover when it is originally recorded, and then re-recorded by someone else. So for example, all the country artists who record songs written by other people do not qualify as cover songs unless they were NOT the first person to record and release the song to the general public. That being understood- here is the list:

10. Stand By Me by John Lennon (Ben E. King) - John Lennon does an outstanding version of Ben E. King's classic on the album "Rock & Roll." The slightly faster tempo and upbeat acoustic guitar helps give this version it's own distinct sound from the original. The horns in the background are used very effectively as well, and it is hard to argue that Lennon does a great version of this song.

9. Thirteen by Wilco (Big Star) - Elliott Smith also does a great version of this song, but I prefer the Wilco version. Now, most of the songs on this list are there because they do something different from the original, while still successfully capturing the original song's emotion. This version is not all that different from the Big Star version overall, but the subtle vocal phrasing that Jeff Tweedy uses and the slide in the background really pull this version together. I thought it was a pretty rare song to come across, but I just looked it up on iTunes and it is there waiting for you- check it out!

8. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by Neil Finn & Friends (The Smiths) - This song borders on not being able to be included because Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr does play on the tune. It's from a live 2001 concert. This version is successful because a less whiny Neil Finn takes the lead vocals (compared to The Smiths' Morrisey, whom I do like, but he is pretty whiny.) It also is important because I did not listen to The Smiths before hearing this song- now I love them. I literally cut out two other Smith cover songs (Joshua Radin's Girlfriend in a Coma and Muse's Please Please Please Give Me What I Want) before making this list which tells me that the source material is very, very strong.

7. Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison (James Ray) - Originally done by James Ray in 1962, George Harrison took and made it into the poppy 80's hit you remember (and can't get out of your head.) This could be corniest song on the list, but I admit, I do like it. A quick piece of trivia: Who was the last Beatle to have a #1 hit on the US Billboard Charts? A: George Harrison for "Got My Mind Set On You." Crazy, huh? You'd have thought that you could give Paul McCartney 21 years and he'd come up with another #1, but alas, it is not to be. Speaking of Paul McCartney, better luck next time. You're a legend, but you're not on this list.

6. Mad World by Gary Jules (Tears For Fears) - This song ranks very high because the original is actually not very good. I like a few Tears For Fears songs, but this is not one of them. Gary Jules slowed the tempo down, made the backbone of the song light piano rather than over the top synthesizers, and BAM! The song becomes amazing. This might be the best example every of songs succeeding based on arrangement rather whether it is "good" or "bad." I'm still waiting for someone rearrange "The Safety Dance" but I'm not sure that would help much.

Top Five will be coming tomorrow- stay tuned...

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

Well that was an excellent weekend! While I didn't feel well on Friday (sore throat and ears, if you recall) I managed to get through my show at Pyramid in Walnut Creek without much trouble (besides the freezing temperature.) Thank you to all who attended!

On Saturday, I tried to watch as much of the NFL Draft as possible. While the Bears ended up not having a pick on the first day, I was quite interested in one Bay Area team gift wrapping the best wide receiver in the draft to the other Bay Area team. I really don't care if Darius Heywood-Bay ends up being a decent receiver. I'm almost 100% sure Michael Crabtree will have a better NFL career, and the Raiders absolutely showed why they will continue to hang out near the bottom of the AFC West. I'm not sure I'm qualified to grade any of the NFL teams for their overall drafts, but feel free to leave opinions in the comment section. If you say the Raiders, you will be banned from commenting forever.

Later in the day, I went to my friends Adam & Sarah's wedding. It was a great ceremony and a very rocking reception. I had an absolute blast! The tone was set by the bar being open for the ceremony. Let me repeat- I was drinking a beer during the ceremony. It was amazing. The music was great and the people there were even better. Solid all the way around.

Sunday, I forced myself to get up and play basketball with a couple friends. While I may be a bit out of shape, my jumper was not bad (if I do say so myself.) We're signing up for a summer league so I have to get my act together soon.

After that, I caught the end of the Bulls/Celtics game. I don't care who wins this series (OK, that's a lie, GO BULLS) I'm very happy to see the Bulls playing with heart and giving the Celtics all they can handle. Besides Game 3, this series has been ridiculously entertaining. The games are going down to the wire- and the level of competition has been second to none.

In the afternoon, I went to the recording studio to lay down vocal harmonies for "50 Stories" (yes, the song that I used in this blog's url.) I'm happy to report it is sounding great, and I'm fairly certain it is the first fully completed song for my new album. Once I get the full mix, I'm debating releasing it as a single on iTunes. I'll keep you posted.

Lastly, after my "woe is me" Friday blog- I have strong prospects for monthly shows in Davis, Sacramento, Roseville, and Walnut Creek. I guess things really do happen for a reason (lame cliche, but works in this situation) or at least I feel totally renewed about my music career. I'm ready to get these new things rolling and I'll be sure to update here with my new schedule.

PS: 3-0 in fantasy baseball! Oh yeah!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Organizing My Music Stuff - Publicly?

Today, I'm not feeling great. My ears and throat are swollen (probably from allergies) and I have a show tonight in Walnut Creek. Being that I will never miss a show unless I'm hospitalized- I'm going to do my best to play from 7-11pm (yeah, that's 4 hours!) Anyway, if this comes off as less than my usual effort, it's probably because I have less than my usual effort to give.

It is with some degree of sadness that I announced that after May 14 I no longer have my regular Thursday gig at Pyramid in Sacramento. They still like me, but they're trying to switch it up a bit. In some ways, I agree with them. It is difficult to get friends/people I know to come out every Thursday because they know "there's always next week." At least now when I get a show, people will be more inclined to come out and support. Side note: Thank you to everyone who did come out last night!

Also, I really need to refocus myself. Why do I play music? Well, because it is fun to write songs and play them. Am I really doing that these days? Not really. I can play upwards of 250 cover songs (at least) and probably half of them are stale to me. I really need to focus on making people care about my original songs rather than letting folks request songs that I have no desire to listen to, let alone play.

In a related note, I have got to finally finish this new record. I talk about it all the time. I have a version of all 13 tracks organized that is listenable, but not finished. I think it will be good once I get it done, and I'd like to work on marketing it to radio and really trying to sell it. I may also need to focus on putting together a band rather than doing so many shows solo. Don't get me wrong, not splitting show money is great, but at a certain point it gets boring without a band (and you thought I might throw in a sex/masturbation comparison- ok, well there it is.) As much as it is hard to meet people who are on the same page musically, and then trusting them with playing the songs I've written, it is necessary for me to do this in order to get things back on track.

So I'm going to attempt to play tonight in the closest thing I have to a hometown, and I have a feeling there will be a decent amount of people showing (thank you, it's much appreciated). I'll mix in lots of originals and lots of covers. And while I am a little bummed to have lost my regular gig here in Sacramento, I know that ultimately, change is good. Getting out of my lulled comfort zone will probably help me become a better musician and motivate me to improve my music career.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog. It keeps motivates me to write every week day, and I've been enjoying it a lot. I'm going to keep this thing going as long as people keep reading. Sorry for this sappy ending to an overly melancholy blog, but as I said in the beginning, I'm not feeling 100% today, so I'll be back on Monday with the vigor of 100 healthy camels. I'm not even sure what that means! I think I'm going crazy! Have a great weekend...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bullseye On Your Back: The New Tampa Bay Rays

While driving around yesterday, I heard an interview on Jim Rome's radio show of Tampa Bay Rays' budding superstar, Evan Longoria. While his name is hilariously similar to Desperate Housewives' star Eva Longoria, this guy is a legit power hitter. He is one of the many reasons why the Rays had a Cinderella run to the World Series last year.

Rome asked Longoria a couple very good questions (I suppose he has his job for a reason.) One question was, "Do you think that you have a bullseye on your back now that teams have seen how successful your team was last year?" Longoria answered in a more elaborate way, but the overall jist was, "Yes- we do have a bullseye on our back this year."

So here we set 15 games into the Rays' 2009 season and they are 6-9 and in last in the AL East. While I doubt they will finish in last, and I don't subscribe to freaking out of the first 15 games of the baseball season, I did predict them to finish third behind the Yankees and Red Sox because of the raised expectations they will experience this year. Now that everyone knows how good they can be, they are not sneaking up on anyone. Last year, playing the Rays was not a big deal to the other Major League clubs. If they beat the Rays, big deal- the Rays had never had a winning season, so why take them seriously? If they lost to the Rays it was decently embarrassing- almost like a major college football team scheduling a FCS school. The big time school gains nothing by winning, but finds shame after the FCS school sneaks up on them and pulls an upset.

This year, teams will not have a tough time motivating themselves to play the AL Champion Rays (sounds way better than the "Never Had a Winning Year Before" Rays.) Early on, we can see that the 6-9 record could be an indication that teams are giving their best effort for each game against the Rays. This leads into Rome's next question, "It is probably too early in the season to panic, but when is a good time to panic?" Longoria answered clearly, "Now is the time to panic. We'd be wrong not to have a sense of urgency. We have to turn things around and improve immediately." While I'm paraphrasing, and Longoria didn't sound worried about it, I really liked his answer. There's really no reason to freak out, but he and his teammates realize that 6-9 over the longhaul will not get it done. Teams will be giving their best effort against the Rays, so they had better be ready to bring it every night or the Rays will drift back to the back of the AL East.

I guess my main point is that I really do believe that expectations can affect how teams perform. The Rays have a very talented team, but they may find it hard to overcome the expectations that they've built for themselves. I still don't think the Rays will make the playoffs, but I have to say, I think Evan Longoria is a great player, and he sounds like a good leader with a solid point of view. I was impressed by his interview and wish I had him on my Fantasy Baseball team!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Top Five Bands That Don't Do It For Me

As with all of my Top Ten (or in this case, Five) Lists, these may incite a heated debate. To clarify, this list is full of bands that I have some to moderate respect for (Nickelback and Kid Rock just got disqualified), but that don't do it for me. This could be a little like when one of your friends says a particular celebrity girl is good looking, but you disagree because she's not your type. One of the reasons I'll write this is because people will request for me to play songs by these bands, and I essentially refuse to take any time out of my day to learn anything by them. Without delay, here are some bands that don't inspire me at all, but that I don't find wretched:

5. Smashmouth - Many people forget their first album featured a decent song in "Walking On The Sun" and also was Parental Advisory for Explicit Lyrics! What?! When I first mentioned them, you probably thought of one of two things- the song "All Star" on the Shrek Soundtrack or two, their cover version of "I'm a Believer" which was featured on the, uh- well, the Shrek Soundtrack. As soon as they jumped on the kiddie movie bandwagon there was no going back. On the bright side, it has effectively ended their ability to produce new music and they have wandered into obsurity. They may still be receiving royalty checks from their clear and utter sell out, but one thing no one can call them is "cool."

4. Lenny Kravitz - "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" had shades of Jimi Hendrix somewhere in there, but Lenny's entire catalog is riddled with songs that do not make my ears perk up. It seems like every song of his that I hear is a hollow version of something else I've already heard. "Fly Away" is a good example of that. I'd say that song feels like Lenny woke up one morning and said, "I don't really like this Pearl Jam/Stone Temple Pilots thing, but the people sure do! Let's write an Alt-Rock song!" Once every six years I'll find myself listening to a Kravitz song and enjoying, but once that one song is over his whole catalog feels stale again.

3. Lynyrd Skynyrd - I know a lot of people might disagree, or even dislike me as a person for this opinion, but this band does nothing for me. "Sweet Home Alabama" is easily the most overrated song ever written. Well, that is until Kid Rock ripped it off and used the beat to make another hit song last year. LS's extended guitar solos may be musically impressive, but many times they are tedious and uninteresting. And don't get me started on the people who yell out "Free Bird!!!" at every concert. I do respect a certain amount of their musicianship, and the fact that a plane crash cannot stop this band from touring (I have no idea how many of the original members are left, but it can't be many.) However, listening to "Sweet Home Alabama" have consumed any less than 8 strong cocktails should be considered pain on par with Chinese Water Tourture.

2. Sublime - Alright we get it! Alternative rock with a Latin/Reggae vibe that talks excessively about dirty sexual stuff and weed. The jig is up! Had their lead singer Bradley Nowell not died, this band would not have sniffed the popularity they garner today. I'm pretty sure I've had people attempt to fight me over this opinion. I know life and death are serious things, but they should not affect how well a band is remembered. John Lennon was murdered and Kurt Cobain eligedly committed suicide and both of their bands are way better than Sublime. I literally change the channel every time they come through on my car's radio waves which is why they make the list.

1. The Red Hot Chili Peppers - No band exemplifies the theme of today's post than RHCP. While the picture to the right should be enough to get my point across, I have musical gripes as well. The overall feel of their music too frenetic for me to really get into (note: there is plently of loud and fast music that I like- read frenetic as "wild, all over the map, and trying to squeeze too many notes into places where they don't belong.") The musical talent is clearly there, but the sound that they produce does nothing for me. Anthony Kiedus' voice grates on my ears (perfect example is the chorus to "Soul to Squeeze" off the Coneheads Soundtrack.) There was definitely points in my life that I wanted to like RHCP (Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californiacation were the their two closest albums to winning me over, but alas it was not to be.) Also, what's up with them having an album called Californication, a song called Dani California, and them mentioning California as much as possible in every song. It's a pretty sweet state to live in, but even the Golden State can be diminished by over-referencing.

So that's my list. For any person that takes offense to any group on this list just remember, I still do mildly respect all of these bands- I'm just letting loose with why they don't quench my thirst for good music the way other bands do. Feel free to let me know in the comments bands that you may half-way respect, but can't stand to listen to- hell, you can even tell me if this list makes any sense! Happy Hump Day!

PS: No new Lost on tonight, so no Lost blog either. Sorry folks! Complaint letters can be sent to ABC.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sharks vs. Cubs - A Comparison in Futiliity

So this is where I normally have the first half of a Top Ten, but I may just have a Top Five tomorrow...

Instead, we're going to look at the Chicago Cubs and the San Jose Sharks today and ask- is the same psychology going on with both of these clubs?

While the title may sound harsh, these are my two favorite teams in their respective sports. Admittedly, I'm not the most knowledgeable hockey fan, so bear with me (pun not intended.)

The Cubs futility has been well documented. Back to back World Series championships in 1907 and 1908 and nothing since. The curse of the Billy Goat Tavern was put in place during the 1945 World Series against the Yankees when Wrigley Field staff refused to let in the owner of the Tavern because he had his goat with him (the goat also had a ticket.) Fans blame a black cat running on the field in 1969 (at Shea Stadium), Leon Durham's error during the 1984 NLCS, and Will Clark's over .600 batting average in the 1989 NLCS. I even was getting heckled as recently as the Oakland A's home opener this year about Steve Bartman from A's fans as I walked through the parking lot with a Cubs shirt on (side note: Calling a Cubs fan "Bartman" is about as good of heckling as telling a player "You suck!" Bring something more original, please.)

Anyway, excuses aside, the Cubs absolutely tanked in the playoffs the last two years going a combined 0-6. It's really weird, but as a fan of the Cubs I know this feeling that I get when the weight of the playoff task gets too heavy for the players in the game. In 2003, I didn't feel it at all when they were facing the Braves. I didn't feel it until the Marlins made the series 3-2. At that point the Cubs were throwing aces Mark Prior and Kerry Wood in games 6 and 7, respectively. I had this weird feeling that the Cubs had to win game 6 or they would be sent home. I tried to talk myself out of it knowing Kerry Wood was having a great year, but there was no way around it. Going into game 7, it was almost like my mindset was one with the players at the time- wanting the victory so bad that it slips away because the team is trying too hard. If you're reading at this point and saying "Tony, you don't make any sense," well- you might be right. This is a very difficult feeling to explain and an even more difficult thing to shake. When a team has been branded "Cursed," "Chokers," or any of the other fantastic monikers a team can earn, the pressure to succeed becomes that much more intense. Enter the San Jose Sharks...

As an avid KNBR listener, I noticed that there was a lot more chatter about the Sharks choking in the playoffs again that is very remenecent of some of the Cubs' failures. After Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks, it felt like Sharks fans were trying to console themselves in a similar manner to Cubs fans during their recent playoff collapse. You see, the Sharks also have a history of not getting it done in the playoffs and fans and media alike are latching on that (possibly deserved) sendimet.

Game 2 mounted even more pressure on the players, and while the Sharks played better, they once again fell short prompting even more questions about whether they are the kind of team that folds up under pressure.

So what's the cure? Look no further than the 2004 Boston Red Sox. I hate to say it (I have come to dislike the Sox because it feels like the Cubs and Sox used to be on a sinking ship together, while the Sox jumped off and saved themselves while taunting Cubs fans on the way to the life-raft) but the Red Sox put everything in perspective soon enough to trick themselves into believing that there was no hope, so that created hope. The self proclaimed "idiots" didn't really care that they were down 3-0 to the talented Yankees. They tricked themselves into playing free and easy instead of feeling the weight of any curses or fan expectations. I truly believe teams like the Cubs and Sharks that have been branded as "chokers" try too hard and ultimately end up getting beat by teams that allow their game to "come to them." Why have the Marlins won two World Series championships? Well, besides the fact that those teams were quite talented, it was because no one expected anything out of them. Clearly at this point it is Championship or Bust for the Cubs and Sharks players and fans, and that puts too much mental strain on the players. Don't look now, but that psychological way of thinking may even be seeping into the current Yankees clubhouse.

I really hope the Sharks can figure this out and realize they are better than the Ducks before it is too late. They are a better team, and just need to find a comfortable mental spot to get the job done. I have no idea how to better explain this, but just know that it feels awful when you're in the middle of it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

While I didn't have the most productive weekend- two days off are two days off and there were many sporting events to indulge in. Onward to the Monday edition of my blog:

- As I'm writing this, I'm watching the Sharks game. It's tied 1-1 and nearing the end of the second period. I'm still trying to get into hockey, and HD is really helping.

- The Cubs won with late home runs both Friday and Saturday. Alfonso Soriano is showing what a great player he is, though I'm still not quite sure why he is a lead off hitter. Aramis Ramirez hit a walk off home run on Saturday against the hated rival Cardinals, and had the game not gotten rained out Sunday evening, I'm fairly sure he would've gotten thrown at during his first at bat (for showing up the pitcher when he hit the game winner.) So far, the Cubs have not been clicking as a team, yet they are 7-4. I have a feeling they will only get better.

- For as much as I did not follow much of the NBA this year, I did watch a large majority of the Bulls/Celtics game on Saturday. That was an awesome game. Without Garnett, it looks like the Celtics and Bulls match up almost evenly. As a former basketball player, I typically get frustrated watching games that feature high amounts of mental errors (turnovers, defensive mistakes, lack of boxing out, etc.) This game, was a very well played game where I felt both teams were giving great effort and competing on level that should represent the NBA more often. Derek Rose tied Kareen Abdul-Jabbar for the rookie first game playoff scoring record with 36 points. He'll win the Rookie of the Year for sure. I'm so happy the Bulls drafted him, and I have a feeling he'll be a stud for years to come.

- The Giants and Diamondbacks scored a total of 6 runs total in their series this weekend. The great news is that the Giants' starting pitching was amazing. The terrible news, 4 runs of offense over a three game period will usually not result in a series win. Tim Lincecum looked amazing during his 13 strikeout performance on Saturday. While I'm happy to see fellow Northgate High School Alum Doug Davis pitch so well, the Giants really wasted a great performance by the reigning Cy Young winner. No timely hitting, bad baserunning, and a bullpen that cannot be as perfect as the offense needs them to be will be the Giants' downfall. I do think there is some hope, but the offense needs to get it together very soon. I suppose I don't want them to get too crazy because Brian Wilson saves will immensely help my Fantasy Team (2-0 after two weeks!)

- I also watched the A's game Sunday and they were absolutely shut down by Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays. I had forgotten Ricky Romero's name, but actually saw him pitch a game in college when he went to Cal State Fullerton (against the UC Davis Aggies.) He reminded me of Johan Santana and was part of CSUF's national championship team. Well, currently he's rocking a 1.71 ERA and I took a flier on him in my fantasy league. It could be a good move for anyone a little short on pitching.

- I also watched UFC 97 Saturday night. Chuck Liddell lost again. It may time for him to hang it up. At this point, he's worse than Michael Jordan was on the Wizards. Admittedly, I enjoy watching the fights, but I'm not totally qualified to give analysis- but I'm pretty certain I'm right about Chuck. Let me know if I'm not.

- I'm going to see Margot & the Nuclear So & So's in SF May 16, and Wilco in Tahoe on June 28. Both shows are going to be off the hook.

That pretty much covers the weekend (for me, at least) so hopefully you had a good one as well. Keep on, uh, keep on trucking...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The State of Bay Area Sports: State of Emergency

Well, on this Friday I'd like to take a look at the state of Bay Area Sports. As a mostly Chicago sports fan living in Sacramento, I listen to a lot of sports talk radio and hear all about the Bay Area's shortcomings and the fans' complaints. This year, I really can't blame them.

- The Golden State Warriors - Finished their season 29-53 (8-33 on the road!) Their season officially tanked in the offseason when newly locked-up point guard Monta Ellis hurt his ankle riding a moped. Yes, you heard it correctly- a MOPED! KNBR personality Rod Brooks has talked about this ridiculous fact ad nauseum, but he's still got a point. It is ludicrous for a grown man to be riding around on a moped, not to mention a professional athlete who stands to lose millions of dollars if anything goes wrong. Anyway, they've put themselves in good shape for the NBA Lottery, and while the second group of Northern California NBA basketball players have the highest percentage of winning the Battle of Blake Griffin this June, you just never know. An addition of Griffin to the Warriors might put them right back into the playoffs (a la Derek Rose to the Bulls.)

- The Oakland Athletics - At 4-5, they could be the brightest spot for the Bay Area. And yes, I'm talking about the team that was almost no-hit by knuckelballer Tim Wakefield just two days ago. Their pitching staff reeks of inexperience, but has done alright so far. Their retooled offense should be producing more than it has (3 homeruns so far, I think.) This weekend they are playing in Canada taking on the buzzsaw known as the Toranto Blue Jays (17 homeruns in 10 days, by comparison.) Luckily, they'll miss Jays' ace Roy Halladay, so it should be an interesting series. PS: The A's colors are just ugly. Green and Gold?

- The Raiders and 49ers - I'm lumping these two disasters together. Jeff Garcia signing with the Raiders might be the smartest thing they have done in recent years (that's not saying much, is it?) The Black and Silver is definitely not what it once was. On the other side, you have Mike Singletary talking about (possible #1 pick, so why is he even talking to this kid?) Matthew Stafford's inability to cope with his parents' divorce. How do you let this story leak out? For being one of the smartest linebackers in history, Singletary is not the smartest guy. It pains me to say it because he was probably my favorite player as a kid (tied with Walter Payton and Brad Muster [kidding]) but this guy will probably fail as a coach because he lacks a filter in his brain that separates intensity (my way or the highway) from intelligence (maybe I shouldn't pull my pants down right now.) Go ahead and prove me wrong Raiders and Niners- you've both got the divisions to get it done. I dare you!

- Your San Francisco Giants - 2-7? Really? That's all you got? On paper, it looked good. Three Cy Young Winners (Lincecum, Johnson, and Zito), and two young flamethrows (Cain and Sanchez.) The offense looked to be better with the overpriced addition of Edgar Renteria and a young Pablo Sandoval leading the way. What actually happened is that this team still can't hit, Randy Johnson is old, Barry Zito is still terrible, Tim Lincecum may spring back to reality (which will still be good, but maybe not Cy Young good), Sanchez has been wild, and Cain has been their best pitcher easily. I've commented on KNBR personality Dan Dibley's blog and gave him a hard time for being overly negative on the Giants. Well, I'm starting to buy into his attitude. This team is proving to be fairly inept on the basic fundamentals of fielding and baserunning, so I can't see it turning around anytime soon.

- The San Jose Sharks - What's that? You are the best team in hockey? Well, you sure didn't show it last night. You're making me regret jumping on your bandwagon. I wanted to have one favorite "local" team, so I took a stand- if the Sharks and Blackhawks play each other, I'll go for the Sharks. This was the absolute wrong time to do this. I watched some of the exciting Blackhawks overtime win last night and those guys are young and exciting. They will be good for years to come. The Sharks on the other hand, are very good, but for whatever reason feel like the Jim Kellys (or maybe Bernie Kosars) of hockey. I think this team will bounce back, but I won't be shocked if they get eliminated.

So there's your depressing Bay Area sports snapshot for Friday April 17. Hopefully these teams improve because it is freaking depressing living in a place where no cares (or worse the shout from the rooftops) about the teams because they're all terrible.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lost "Some Like It Hoth"

New episode of Lost has a Star Wars reference in the title, let's get to it:

- Young Miles talking to dead people like usual. Haley Joel Osman would be proud.
- Sawyer and Kate are back from their excursion. And of course, time to cover up what they were doing.
- Miles was brought into the "circle of trust." Who does Horace think he is- Rober DeNiro?
- Miles has to go to Radzinsky. Stu is effing nuts. Always carrying a gun, and always talking crazy.
- Oh, a dead body- let's go Miles, get all Dr. Phil on that corpse.
- Miles looking like his character from X-Men 3 (you know, the crappy one.)
- Yikes, looks like his mother is dying of cancer. No jokes here, this is pretty intense.
- Guaranteed his father is Pierre Chang- Asian guy from such hits as "The Swan Video," "The Pearl Video," "The Flame Video," among others.
- Miles is on a collision course to meet his dad in 1977. He looks fairly uncomfortable.
- Hurley getting after it cooking. Never trust a thin cook- so obviously you can trust Hurley.
- More Kate and Roger Linus action. Ooooh, abusive dad worried about worried about his son... love multi-faceted characters.
- Hurley and Miles in a blue Dharma van- looking forward to some awesome time travel conversation. Here we go, Hurley's going to find the dead body.
- Miles knows all about the body's backstory- a filling from his tooth goes through his brain?
- Hurley talking to dead people as well, eh? We kind of knew that, but I'm interested to see where this goes.
- Miles is totally faking his psychic action with this Locke-look-alike.
- A Naomi sighting! She got smoked by a cross-bow didn't she? Either way- she gone!
- Nothing like sitting on a swing-set drinking a Dharma beer. I would love Kate to get together with Uncle Rico- then she wouldn't ruin Jack or Sawyer.
- Well, looks like my last comment was just made irrelavent.
- Back to the blue van- Miles and Hurley talking about their super powers talking to dead people. Sounds like one of my average conversations.
- Pierre Chang fresh off his cameo on "Gary Unmarried."
- Miles confirms the obvious- Chang is his father. [Darth Vader breathing noise.]
- Naomi brings Miles down for his audition- talking to some guy.
- Felix the delivery guy got smoked.
- Miles was hired to interview dead Dharma folks on the island to catch Ben. Offered $1.6 mil to find Ben. 1.6 x 2 = 3.2 (why he asked Ben for $3.2 mil in Season 4. Exactly double.)
- Hey, a Jack sighting. he looks like he doesn't give a crap about much these days.
- Jack talking crazy to Uncle Rico... maybe a little over the top intense.
- Hurley is cracking me up talking to Dr. Chang. Big Gulps, huh guys? Whelp- See ya later!
- They're building the hatch- creepy numbers appearance!
- Do you know what lies in the shadow of the statue? Hey! That's Seth Rogen from last episode!
- I feel like the guys in the van are some new faction (not Widmore, and not Ben.) Or at least, maybe the writers want us to think that...
- Miles is breaking down right now. He steals Hurley's notebook. He's been writing down Empire Strikes Back.
- The skeezy guy from Old School is now blackmailing Sawyer- that's about as bad an idea as the time I played ice hockey with Rodney Dangerfield- wait this isn't Family Guy.
- Miles giving back money to a guy he conned- this is the second time this happened (though in both cases it's debatable that he did actually talk to the dead folks.)
- Hurley and Miles compare dad issues- Hurley uses a Star Wars metaphor to talk about Miles' problems- I gots to be honest, Hurley's the man.
- Miles sees his dad reading to him as a 3 month old. Awww- he's getting all choked up!
- Yes! Daniel Faraday coming to the island on the submarine! This is going to be a crazy time warp. Can't wait to hear the explanation for this one!

Well, that was a truly great episode. I'm interested to see Jack get into more action, but Miles' backstory was really interesting. Well done Lost- still the best show on TV.

Pyramid Alehouse Sacramento Thursdays!

As a remind, I'm still playing every Thursday at Pyramid Alehouse in Sacramento from 6:30-8:30pm. You get 30% off your bill if you bring in this flier:

The printable version can be found by CLICKING HERE! Hope to see you there.

Thanks to Steve (AKA the Annoying Blogger) for making the flier!

Top Ten Comedy Movies (Part 2)

5. Step Brothers - I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from this movie, but from the moment Will Ferrell put his nuts on John C. Reilly's drum-set, I realized that this movie was one of the greatest comedies ever made. The way these two act like kids at forty is quixotic (ok, I just wanted to use that word, and I don't think it works in this context, but deal with it!) The only thing funnier than the Catalina Wine Mixer is how the characters talk so reverently about the Catalina wine mixer. Lastly, Will Ferrell, in a dream sequence, busting in on his therapist dressed like the Brawny Paper Towel Lumberjack is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

4. Happy Gilmore - Adam Sandler killers me in this movie. I'm sure there are old school purists that are mad because I ranked Happy Gilmore above Caddyshack- well, unfortunately I really don't care. In fact, Just stay out of my way... or you'll pay! LISTEN to what I say! Seriously though, the price is wrong, bitch.

3. 40 Year Old Virgin - Steve Carrell is funny in this, but there's no chance this movie makes it this high without the cast of characters around him. Romany Malco (had to look up his name), Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd make this movie way better than it would've been otherwise. Hell, even the Pakistani guy who worked in the electronics store is hilarious. The advice "Be David Carruso in the movie 'Jade,' helped me get my fiance! (Could be true or not, who knows!)

2. Dumb and Dumber - Lloyd and Harry on the adventure of a lifetime. I remember seeing this in theatres and dying laughing. I recently bought the special edition DVD with some extra scenes and even those are great. It really sucks they didn't get on the bus with the bikini models at the end (sorry for the spoiler but seriously go see the movie already) but there's really no way those guys would get on the bus. They served the characters correctly by not allowing it. Even funnier, a guy from my high school said he has only cried at the end of two movies- Braveheart and Dumb and Dumber.

1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - Was there any doubt? The first time I watched this movie, I thought, "It was pretty good." Now that I've seen it 80 times, I have to admit I still find new, subtle stuff to look laugh at. Try this one: When they announce Ms. Corningstone as the co-anchor everyone gets upset and most people focus in on Ron yelling about it. Look at the upper left corner of the screen and watch Paul Rudd do a cartoonish fake fainting. He puts his hand to his forehead and goes straight down. It's pretty damn awesome. There are tons of quotable lines and great characters to latch on to. Not many things are better than the street fight during the middle of the movie.

So that's my list. My apologies to Old School, Dirty Work, Talledega Nights, Airplane!, Naked Gun (1 and 2.5- I'm fairly certain G$ is going to kill me on that omission), and the countless others that I didn't squeeze in. Let me know what else I missed or just leave some funny quotes in the comment section.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Hate The Cardinals

I did what I shouldn't have. I drafted Chris Carpenter for my fantasy baseball team. My thinking was that he was injured all of last year, so he'd be healthy and rested this year. After a 1-hit 7 inning performance in his first start, I thought I was a genius. I even turned down a trade: Carpenter for David Ortiz. My team needs more offense, but I rejected the trade (I'm not terribly high on Big Papi these days.) Now Carpenter leaves the game after the third inning with an oblique strain ruining my chances at victory this week.

The good news is Carpenter may miss his start against the Cubs later this week. May I present to you the face of evil.

Disclaimer: Fantasy Baseball seriously warps your perception of reality- it is most important that Carpenter performs for my fantasy team over his actual team the Cardinals. I'm serious.

Top Ten Comedy Movies

I'm sure this will be controversial, but here are my top ten favorite comedy movies. Once again, I'm probably missing a few classics, and I could be just not as familiar with some greats, but feel free to make suggestions in the comment area- I'm always down with watching great movies.

10. The Hammer - I loved Adam Carolla's radio show, and still listen to his podcast most of the time. The dude is funny. He wrote and starred in this movie about a has-been boxer that was working construction before he gets an opportunity to possibly make it to the Olympics. One of the best scenes is him listening to his iPod and jumping rope- he thinks he looks a lot cooler than he is- that's an understatement.

9. Caddyshack - Between Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and that rascally gopher this movie is hilarious. I have to be honest, I'm not as familiar with this movie versus the other movies on the list, so this may jump up the top ten in years to come- who knows?

8. Billy Madison - STOP LOOKING AT ME SWAN! Adam Sandler going back to school to battle the weasel Eric for the Madison hotel empire. Chris Farley makes a great cameo as the bus driver, stripping quizmaster, and lover of the penguin. What doesn't this movie have?

7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall - People have told me I look like Jason Segel. I'm not sure I see it, but I think they mean it as a compliment. Either way, this movie is pretty damn funny with Jason Segel, Paul Rudd as the stoner surf instructor, and Russell Brand as rock star Albus Snow. When Brand sings "Inside You" to the rest of the resort I almost peed my pants- then thought it might be a funny song to play (I ultimately passed.) It also makes me feel calm given the tropical environment.

6. Tropic Thunder - Speaking of tropical, this spoof of a war/actors taking themselves too seriously movie has Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey, Jr. in the jungle thinking they're making a movie when in fact that are in the heart of darkness. Amazing cameos by Tom Cruise and Kenny Powers himself, Danny McBride help this movie excel. Downey, Jr. really does steal the show. Best line in the movie: "I'm a lead-farmer motherf***er!"

So there's the first half, we'll get to the next 5 manana...

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

My adventures from the weekend:

- I went to the A's game then out in Berkeley for my buddy Adam's bachelor party. The A's lost 5-4, but the game was a great time. After many adult beverages in the parking lot, we went inside and played Mound Ball. Surprisingly I've never played before, but here's the gist of it: everyone puts in a dollar, the first person holds all the money. If the ump throws the ball and it lands on all dirt, the person holding the money wins. If it is touching any grass, everyone puts in another dollar and the pot gets bigger. I won a solid $32 in the eighth inning- excellent.

- Alfonso Soriano is a savage. He hits the ball ridiculously hard. The homer he hit to win the game on Saturday was one of the sweetest looking home runs I've ever seen.

- Kevin Gregg should lose his job as the closer. He's somewhat responsible for both Cubs' losses, and I still don't get why Carlos Marmol didn't get a promotion after being such a dominant set up guy last year. Marmol has better numbers than Gregg, and doesn't wear weird shield glasses.

If you have not seen Reed Johnson's play to rob Price Fielder of a Grand Slam- you have to see it! I've made it easy for you- it's here:

- My fantasy team won this week. They are awesome and ready to do more damage. I hear Ichiro and Joe Mauer are on the fast track back from the DL...

- The Padres are in first place? What the hell?

- Margot and the Nuclear So & So's are an amazing band. If you have never heard of them, at least check them out and see if they are for you. Easily the best band I've heard in awhile.

- The band Phoenix is a close second. Check them out too.

That's about it. I hope you all had a great weekend, it always ends too quickly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Update

First off, a moment of blog silence for Nick Adenhart.

So glad they caught the guy who crashed into Adenhart's car. It doesn't bring him back, but that guy is a danger on the California roadways. Really, your license was suspended for a DUI, and you're drunk driving again, run a red light and kill 3 (maybe 4) people, then flee from the scene on foot. That's just wrong and I hope he gets the maximum penalty, which in California is being put in medieval chains while our governor beats the hell out of you Kindergarten Cop-style.

Anyway, week one of fantasy baseball is not even over and going look at my team to see how they're doing.

Offense: My offense is lacking a bit. It seems like my guys are getting off to a slow start, but I have a feeling they'll pick it up sometime soon. Brian Roberts is my best player so far (with 11 points). Adrian Gonzales is doing ok as well with 9 points. The rest of my line-up is Pudge Rodriguez, Ryan Zimmerman (I hate this guy, anyone want to trade?), Miguel Tejada (should've drafted Troy Tulowitzki), Ryan Braun (he'll be hitting bombs soon enough), Carl Crawford, Tori Hunter, and Jose Lopez (was doing great until his two strikeout, two double play ground balls yesterday.)

The biggest thing is that I have Joe Mauer and Ichiro on the DL right now, so when they come back, my offense will take an immediate jump.

Starting Pitching: This is going to be tough to beat. My team stands to have one of the most dominant weeks in fantasy history if my pitchers continue the way they started.

Derek Lowe - 29 points right out of the gate against the Phillies.
Jake Peavy - 9.5 points even though he took the loss. I'm looking for you pull your weight Jake!
King Felix Hernandez - 27 points in his dominating performance against the underacheivers known as the Detroit Tigers.
Chris Carpenter - 29.5 points in a seven inning, one hit game. If this guy stays healthy, he might be the Cy Young winner. Bad news for the Cubs- great news for my fantasy squad.

Side note: Gavin Floyd pitched well off my bench. I also have Kelvim Escobar, Brad Penny, Andy Pettite, and young'n Brett Anderson (I'll be in attendance tonight for his first MLB start.)

Closers: I started all three closers and so far so good. I have Jon Papelbon and both Bay Area closers, Brian Wilson and Brad Ziegler. Ziegler was a last minute start and he has the most points (24.5) with two saves already. I have a feeling Papelbon and Wilson will both get saves before the end of the week.

Overall: My team is built to win. I am currently tied for most points in the league, but if my offense can get going even a little bit I think this team has the pieces for greatness. I will say this, I would like a bit more power in my lineup. Any suggestions on if I should use any of my players as trade bait for a power hitter? My league is not terribly trade-happy, and I'm a little scared to break up this great rotation, but I'd be happy to listen to any point of view.

Last thing- MLB.TV is probably the greatest thing ever. They seem to have fixed steaming issues, so the quality of picture is amazing. I highly recommend it. I only wish MLB was paying me to say that...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lost "Dead Is Dead"

Time for my weekly installment of live (or somewhat tape delayed) blogging "Lost." This week we'll be catching back up with Ben and Locke in 2008. I'm hopeful there is some info on the smoke monster, but we'll see...

- No idea who the hell these folks are- oh, there's Richard. Young Ben recovering with perfectly beaded sweat all over him. How inappropriately provacative.
- Young Charles Widmore looking like he should be friends with Gerard Butler.
- Ben looks confused when he sees Locke with a pulse. Ben broke the rules. Understatement of the Season.
- Alright, Ben's going back to get judged by the smoke monster. Wonder if he's telling the truth? I'd love to see Ben on "Moment of Truth." So Ben, have you kidnapped, tourtured and murdered people? Have you ever stolen a baby? Have you ever lied and said you enjoyed Juliette's cooking?
- How the hell did Seth Rogen get on the island?
- Ben back up to his old head games- Caesar has Ben's back with a huge gun he found in a hatch from many episodes ago.
- Nice! Appearance by Young Ethan! Old that he's been frosting his tips on the island.
- Let's see how Ben steals a baby. Interesting comment about the "whispers."
- Ben and Locke face off- round 2 for the episode. Elephant in the room- Ben killing Locke.
- Maybe Ben doesn't want to see the smoke monster.
- Awesome- Ben capping fools like he's Suge Knight! Honestly, Caesar needed to die, he wasn't bringing much to the table. Now Locke and Ben are going adventuring- doubtful this is going to be a fun buddy comedy.
- Going back to New Otherton- I'm finding it hard to write anything because pretty much everything Ben says is b.s.
- Ben and Widmore facing off in the past. Widmore maybe isn't the "good guy" he wants us to believe he us. Or, of course, Ben is posturing to make Widmore look bad.
- I think Locke isn't getting awfully confident in how in tune he is with the island- maybe dying gave him some knowledge.
- Ben's inspecting his house where he finds Sun and Lapidus (the Lawnmower Man!) How the hell does Ben not know about some of the O6 not being in the Dharma Initiative? They're going to have to run for it before Young Ben makes it back to the DI.
- Lapidus looks like he's bouncing from this party. Good thing Sun is staying- would be highly uninteresting if she left as well.
- Here we go- smoke monster... this better not disappoint.
- What in holy hell is going on here? Ben released some water, and said he'll be outside.
- Now Ben is swinging Alex- and now he's making Charles leave. Wow, Penny is the reason Widmore gets banished by submarine- not by frozen donkey wheel.
- Dead is dead, huh? Tell that to Christian Shepherd.
- Damn, Locke really is hugely confident. Confidence but not cockiness will be good- if Locke goes overboard he might get "smoked."
- Alright, let's see how Ben kills Penny. Hmmm... if that actually happens.
- Our mutual friend- great Dickens/Desmond reference! Also was the book Desmond was going to read before he dies.
- Looks like the tables have turned Mr. Linus. Go underneathe the Temple and see what happens.
- Tell Desmond you're sorry? What a cop-out. At least Desmond beat his ass.
- Hmm... looks like Ben has some sort of soft spot for children losing their mothers- much like he did when he was born. Ben looks like a science project as blood poofs out of his mouth underwater.
- Frank is getting quizzed with crazy ass questions. What is Illana doing? First she kicks Sayid in the face with hooker-boots and now this? She's nuttier that Fat Bastard's (from Austin Powers) crap!
- Ben falls down a hole- and now he's being enveloped with black smoke. Awesome scene.
- Now Alex is telling Ben exactly how it is. Who's your adopted stolen daughter?! Say it! Say it!
- Ben looks like a little puppy dog when he's talking to Locke. Ben may redeem himself yet.

That was an exceptional episode. It was really hard to come up with material on this one. Lots of deception to wade through. It was very cool to see Locke turn the tide on Ben and to see below the Temple. This episode really delivered. Michael Emerson is an amazing actor. Once again Lost proves why it is the best show in TV.

Top Ten Poker Players (Part 2)

As promised, my update from last night's $10 Sit and Go ended with me getting broke off by quad Aces. I'm not sure I've ever been beaten by such a large hand so if there's a way to go out, I guess that's it. I suppose I have a long way to go, but I'm up $70 over the last two days, so I've got that going for me.

This sparked quite a debate at Trivia night last night, and I'd like to reiterate, THIS IS MY OPINION. By no means is this the end all, be all list. That list would clearly have Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth. My list, however, doesn't have them because they don't entertain me as much as the other folks. If you disagree- then put people I missed in the comments or even your own list. Don't just tell me how wrong I am and try to take away my man-card because I didn't compile the definitive list of top ten anything.

5. Johnny Chan - One of the most famous poker players before the TV boom, Johnny Chan won back-to-back World Series of Poker championships (1987 and 1988) and also made an appearance in the movie "Rounders." I have not seen him on TV recently playing poker, though he was Jamie Gold's "coach" during Gold's championship run a few years ago. Chan also still carries his signature oranges to the table. Back in the day, smoking was allowed at the poker table, so many people would pierce the skin of an orange and smell the citrus to alleviate the stench of smoke. Anyway, Chan is the man.

4. Jennifer Harmon - To avoid being sexist, and because she's a cold-hearted ice queen at the table, Jennifer Harmon (pictured looking like a cougar combined with the Undertaker) makes onto the list. It's really interesting to see how she'll use her femininity to her advantage at the table. Her husband, Marco Traniello, is also a professional poker player. She also made a cameo in a movie, though it was in the turd of a movie "Lucky You." Seriously, how to you make such a terrible movie, let alone a movie about poker. It's too long and inversely as interesting. Besides that, I admire the way Harmon holds her own against the guys. I'd love to see her become the first woman to win Main Event- though the odds of a pro winning in general these days is slim.

3. Gus Hansen - This guy just plays crazy. Any two cards can and will be played. Hell, any two cards can and will be subject to a raise. His erratic play makes him a tough read (though occasionally this does bite him in the ass.) Last night I was hoping to catch Hansen go heads-up against Tom Dwan on Full Tilt, but they didn't start playing before I went to bed (Dwan bought in with just under $300,000 and the other seat was reserved for Hansen.) As far as TV goes, I swear that everytime I turn on the World Poker Tour, he's at the final table. In fact, he's the only person to have won 3 WPT events.

2. Phil Ivey - This guy gives off that champion vibe. Many people consider him the Tiger Woods of poker, and while I'm not sure anyone is capable of being that good, Ivey is pretty damn close. The one thing that bothers me a little is his bug-eyed glazed over look that he goes into every hand- though I've come to appreciate it as it does hide his tells and probably bothers opponents as well. The most impressive thing about him is that whether he wins a huge pot, or loses a monster, his reaction is the exact same. I think his concentration level is beyond what normal people are capable of.

1. Daniel Negreanu - I can easily see people hating on this number one. I remember when I first got into poker, I hated watching Negreanu. He's arrogant, goofy, Canadian and his freakin' mom packs his lunch. However, over the years I've grown to really like and respect his game. He really knows how to play "big boy poker." I can't even count how many times I've seen him tell another person what they had in their hand if the hand ends without the other person showing their hand. He'll fold and tell them "You had (whatever the person had)." It's pretty impressive. I've read one of his books, and it was conscise yet extremely helpful. He also takes preperation very seriously (where many other poker players don't factor it in.) Overall, Negreanu gets the number one slot because I'm tyically entertained when he's on TV, I think he's truly the most (or one of the most) skilled poker players, and he seems like an alright guy.

So who did I miss? G$ had an excellent suggestion of Phil "the Truth" Darden, which would've been good had I remembered that guy existed. Clarkster, any good suggestions? I left off Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth (because he's easily the most annoying poker player), Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Mike Matusow (also annoying), Sammy Farha, and even the great Ben Affleck. There are a lot of good personalities and skillful players out there, so I don't doubt I could've missed some excellent choices, but I'll stick with these folks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Top Ten Poker Players

As I was in the process of winning a $20 Sit and Go on Full Tilt tonight, I thought that this might be an appropriate Top Ten this week. If you're not into poker, then feel free to sit this one out. If you do like/love or can't stop playing then let me know who I missed:

10. Tom Dwan - I didn't know who this guy was a week ago. However, as I was catching up on some High Stakes Poker on Game Show Network, I saw him win a $919,600 pot against legend Barry Greenstein. I wondered "Who the hell is this guy?" I looked up him on Wikipedia and found that he's 23 years old, made $5.5 million last year on Full Tilt, and cashed twice on World Series of Poker events. I'm not sure if this is legit, but supposedly he bought in with $50 initially, never went broke, and built his riches from that. Now that is savage!

9. Antonio Esfandiari - Known as "the Magician," I really like Antonio's poker game. He makes excellent decisions in the cluth and is fairly entertaining inbetween hands. He's also good for a "Nuts" segment on ESPN where he does magic tricks with cards and chips. His biggest drawback is that he looks like a greaseball, but he seems like a nice enough guy.

8. Phil Laak - Esfandiari's buddy, Laak is known as "the Unabomber" because he always wears a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses. His play is erratic and he's generally a goofball- though that plays to his advantage at the poker table. He also met Jennifer Tilly while playing poker and the two of them have been together for many years. Side note: I can't tell if she's hot- any thoughts?

7. Joe Hachem - I didn't like him at the time he won the World Series of Poker Main Event, but after watching him play after, he might be the most solid player out of the ones that have won the Main Event in the "TV Era" of Poker (2003 and after). While his Australian cohorts are pretty annoying, I very much enjoy watching this guy deduce what other players have- most times he's right.

6. Chris "Jesus" Ferguson - No way I can leave a guy with the nickname of "Jesus" off the list. His stoic pose during hands is his signature (along with his cowboy hat and sunglasses.) I doubt people are able to tell if he just left the seafood buffet at the Rio or if his dog just passed away. He always takes the same amount of time with every move. He tests opponents' patience as well as concentration. Oh, and he also throws cards through fruit! What a talent!

Looks like I might play one more round on Full Tilt before going to bed- results and the rest of the Top Ten manana...

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Case of the Mondays

Well, this was a lazy weekend! But here's all I can come up with-

- I'm still beyond stoked about Jay Cutler. After watching the press conference, I'm sold on him. Looks like game three of the preseason will be pretty awesome (Bears @ Denver.)

- I saw Martin Sexton at Harlow's. He is very good live. Excellent guitar player and very soulful vocals. The unfortunate thing was that I wasn't very familiar with his catalog, so it was harder to get into, but I am going to try and listen more.

- Finally watched "Twilight." It wasn't my favorite movie, but it wasn't as bad as many of the haters will lead you to believe. I'm not going out of my way to recommend it, but overall I was entertained.

- Drafting Derek Lowe for my fantasy baseball team is going to work out just fine. He pitched a savage game against the defending champs tonight. He was extremely efficient and his sinker caused the Phillies' hitters to beat the ball into the ground. Cannot wait for the Cubs' first game tomorrow.

- Last, I watched a special on CBS before the Michigan State/UCONN game Saturday about college athletic program budgets and corporate sponsorships. They were talking all about how corporate sponsorships have a place in collegiate athletics as long as it is tasteful, yada yada yada. Immediately following this special, was a trailer/commercial for the new Terminator movie where they superimposed some of the Final Four players into terminator robots. Wow. I'm not necessarily in favor of paying college athletes, but you've got to be kidding me. Don't feed me bullshit about being tasteful then show me a trailer/commercial/game preview like that. It's like Michael Moore showing us a prologue to his movies of him counting his millions of dollars.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Jay Cutler To Bear Down

As we found out yesterday, Jay Cutler (and a fifth round pick) was traded to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton, 2 first round picks and a third rounder. First off, congratulation Bears for sacking up and making this trade! I can't remember a time when the Bears were involved in a blockbuster trade, let alone a trade for a great offensive player.

My initial reaction is one of extreme happiness. I think Cutler will do will with the Bears. They do need some more offensive weapons, but with Matt Forte, Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark and the recently signed Orlando Pace (PLEASE STAY HEALTHY) I'm hoping they have enough to build around. Let's go to some reactions:

- My brother, a huge Lions fan, was the one who texted me first (I was in a class so I didn't know the Bears had made the move.) He admitted that the Bears now have a franchise quarterback and he seemed to think the move will be good for the Bears.

- Other friends were texting me about how awesome it must be to be a Bears fan. Now, it is easy to get caught up in the hype. While it is awesome to be a Bears fan, I'm not sitting here claiming that Cutler is the next coming of Joe Montana- but he is easily the most talented QB the Bears have had since I've been alive.

- The clincher was my friend who is a Broncos fan called me and said that I should be excited because Cutler is a really great QB. This friend is a highly knowledgeable and intense football fan. He's not impressed with new head coach Josh McDaniels and thinks the guy is screwing everything up. In fairness, my friend is a huge Mike Shannahan fan. My overall point here is that even (most) Broncos fans are upset with the situation and would rather have kept Cutler.

I know I'm working with a small sample size, and many radio and TV personalities say Cutler has to "grow up" and "mature" but come on! If your boss came in every day and told you how expendable you are, you're not likely to enjoy your time at a particular job. The only difference is that Jay Cutler had more leverage than most people because his skill set is openly coveted by multiple multi-million dollar organizations.

As a Bears fan, I'm really excited to see what Cutler will do on the field for the Windy City. He is a welcome addition, and to be honest, taking first round picks away from Jerry Angelo is probably a good idea anyway. Go Bears!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lost "Whatever Happened, Happened"

This week's in episode blog follows "Whatever Happened, Happened." I'm predicting this week will either show Young Ben not dying, or have Doc Brown showing up to explain to the cast that they've broken the space/time continuum. Let's check out the action:

- Looks like a Kate-centric episode. Yippee [sarcasm should be noted]. I'm not the biggest Kate fan, but this should give good info.
- Immediately we see Jin helping Young Ben and his big-ass gunshot wound.
- Kate's helping Uncle Rico (Ben's dad) with the winch. For being such a great con-artist, she can't fool anyone into believing she knows anything about cars.
- Back on the mainland, we see a flash back of Kate and Turniphead Aaron as a baby. Oh snap! She went to visit Cassidy- drama to ensue...
- Aahhh- so that's what Sawyer whispered to Kate before he fell out of the helicopter. Take care of my kid! Great send a nomadic criminal to help take of your single-parented child that you left... great...
- Cassidy is a freaking mind-reader. She should transfer to be on "Lie to Me" rather than "Lost."
- Sawyer getting down to business. This thing really is starting to spin out of control.
- Juliette is trying to do surgery on Young Ben. Looks like it's going less than well.
- Look at Hurley with a Back to the Future reference. Miles drops some serious time travel knowledge.
- Sawyer asking Jack to do some surgery and Jack is refusing. I love it- Jack playing chicken with fate.
- Jack finally getting back into his savage self. In fact, this is better as he's starting to believe in fate. Kate, of course, is talking him out of being that savage.
- Kate is donating blood to Young Ben- "Have you had sex with a man whose had sex with a man since 1977?" Way more complicated question in this case.
- Uncle Rico seems to care about Ben... hmmm... why is he suck a dick then?
- Young Ben is freakin' out- going into shock.
- Miles is dropping more and more knowledge. Hurley is challenging him at every turn. This seems to be explaining a lot. For the message board folks- this will turn into many more ridiculous debates about who Jacob is. Get over it- it's someone we haven't seen yet!
- Juliet suggests medical attention by the Others- great twist! Can't wait to see how pissed Horace gets over this.
- Kate's taking Young Ben by himself... no Juliet to help, aw.
- Looks like we're getting more info on what the hell happened to Aaron. Juicebox!
- Aaron disappeared? Oh there he is! He's with a woman who looks like the busted prostitute version of Claire.
- Sawyer and his dapper glasses coming to save the day- I'll bet my left shoe him and Kate get back together by the end of the series! Unfortunately, I'm not wearing any shoes.
- Kate explains some of the motivation for going back to the island. These characters have some pretty terrible reasons for going back. That's been the biggest flaw with Season. Otherwise, no complaints.
- Juliet busting in on Jack in the shower! That's some serious attitude she's throwing his way.
- Kate's calling Sawyer out- and it looks like she's right.
- Truce violation! Sawyer dropping Richard's name. Guyliner coming up after these messages!
- I'd love some more time travel debate featuring Miles and Hurley. I'd even love to be in that conversation- I'm a nerd.
- Ok, so Kate went to see Claire's mother. Claire disappeared? Understatement of the year!
- Kate admitting that "she needed Aaron." Lame.
- In a somewhat noble move, Kate goes back to the island to find Claire. Unless she brings Egon or Peter, I doubt she has much shot.
- Can Richard save Ben's life? Yep, but he's going to take "his innocence?" Sounds way too child molester.
- Ellie and Charles would be mad? Wow. And Richard disappears with Ben into the Temple like a dead baseball player into a corn field.
- And John Locke makes too quick of a cameo- next week's episode looks waaaaaay better! Can't wait for it!

Any first reactions?

Top Ten Recent SNL Sketches (Part 2)

I'm really sick with a cold (I never really took colds seriously until this one) so let's just dive into sketches with little explanation.

5. The Rock tries to use a lighthouse to hook up.

4. Couldn't find the one I want (where Will Forte goes trick-or-treating to get his Megan's Law sheet signed) but this one has similar elements.

3. The hot new artist Blizzard Man puts it down!

2. MacGruber!

1. Two Lonely Island Digital Shorts. Very funny and I'm not quite sure how they got these on network TV, but whatever works I suppose. I suppose a warning is in order- though I'm not quite sure how many kids read my blog.