Thursday, March 31, 2011

NL Predictions

I told you we'd talk baseball today- let's see how I see this shaking out.  I'm so happy baseball is back...

NL West:

1) SF Giants - Who am I to go against the World Champions?  Not only did they win it all last year, they got better in the off-season.  They'll have Cody Ross for a full season (once he's back from injury.)  They'll have Brian Wilson's Beard for a full season (once he's back from injury.)  They'll have a healthy in-shape Barry Zito (what's that? He just got in a car accident?)  I should probably stop right now as this is getting brutal.  The point is, the Giants, all of a sudden, are pretty deep and have some of the best pitching in baseball.

2) Colorado Rockies - Don't you hate it when people call them "The Rox?"  I do.  I think they'll be solid for years to come since they locked up Tulo and CarGo.  Their rotation is pretty good, but Ubaldo Jimenez tired down the stretch last year.  They'll need him to be healthy all the way through. 

3) LA Dodgers - Donnie Baseball leads the Dodgers into the season.  I'm assuming the games will be played on the field, but I bumped them down to 3rd in the division (from 2nd) because of the McCourt divorce situation.  Top-down problems do actually affect the team.  I like their rotation, though.  Signing Ted Lilly is an underrated move.  I already miss him on the Cubs.

4) Arizona Diamondbacks - Hopefully Daniel Hudson is done tipping his pitches because he needs to dominate for my fantasy team.  Other than that, I know that they will strike out less because Mark Reynolds is not on their team any longer.  They will also hit less home runs.

5) San Diego Padres - Sorry SD.  I actually like the Padres because your city is so nice, but without Adrian Gonzales I can't foresee a very prosperous future.  The good thing is that no one picked your team to do well last year either- so ya never know.

NL East:

1) Philadelphia Phillies - It's hard to ignore their rotation.  I will admit that this team is not as good as many experts would lead you to believe.  Utley being hurt is a big problem.  Remember that streak last year when the Phils couldn't score?  Well, it could be worse this year.  Luckily, they have both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee to win a number of 1-0 or 2-1 games. 

2) Atlanta Braves - I'm interested to see how Jayson Heyward does in his second year.  I'm also interested to see Freddie Freeman at 1B.  I'd pick them to win the division if they were not going with the "closer by committee" thing.  I'm not into that philosophy and I never will be.  It'll be an interesting first season without Bobby Cox. 

3) Florida Marlins - They are pesky.  Josh Johnson is a savage.  I have no idea how they are competitive every year, but they just are.  It defies my mental capacity, so I won't over think it. 

4) NY Mets - Similar to the Dodgers, their ownership is a mess.  Sandy Alderson should bring more stability to the front office, but realistically, this team is doomed to fail.  The only bright side is that expectations are so low, that they could surprise some folks.  For example, David Wright and Jose Reyes live up to potential, Carlos Beltran is healthy and plays well, Jason Bay does the same, and Jon Niese, Mike Pelfry and Chris Young all pitch well... BAM!  83 wins.  I don't think all of those things happen concurrently, but if they did, this team could be dangerous.

5) Washington Nationals - There may come a day where the Nationals are a very good, even great team- but it is not this day.  The Werth signing is cool if you like overpaying for overrated, used items. 

NL Central:

1) Cincinnati Reds - They won the division last year, so I'm picking them again.  Their line up is dangerous and their pitching can be as well.  I have Edison Volquez, so I'm hoping he has a healthy full season.  Dusty Baker scares me because I've seen him wear out pitching arms before.  Assuming Joey Votto is not depressed, they will have a great offense. 

2) Chicago Cubs (WC) - Call me a homer- because I am- but I finally saw them play a bit these past two weeks, and I liked what I saw.  Solid defense.  Solid pitching.  Improved offense.  A manager with a strong mental outlook on the game.  Don't sleep on this team.  Part of my pick also has to do with the other teams in this division having health issues already.  I'll explain that in a second.  For now, just know that if their starting pitching performs, this team will be dangerous.  The backside of their bullpen is nails. 

3) St. Louis Cardinals - Wainwright doing down is unfortunate for the Red Birds.  He is a savage pitcher and they would probably win the division with him.  As it stands, Pujols and Holliday will will this team to 80 wins by themselves.  If they can fill the gap left by Wainwright, they could be even more dangerous.

4) Milwaukee Brewers - What's that? Everyone else is picking them to win it all?  So what?  Let me get this straight, their big acquisitions are Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum?  Well, Greinke cracked some ribs playing pick up basketball and is a huge headcase.  Marcum is already having shoulder discomfort.  So there you go- those are the big pick ups.  They could be dangerous, but many times when the public jumps on one team as a popular "sleeper," that team severely underachieves. 

5) Houston Astros - I'm putting them here because the Pirates are awful and I can't put them lower.  In fairness, I like Brett Wallace at 1B and Hunter Pence is a solid hitter.  They could surprise, but I don't see it.

6) Pittsburgh Pirates - Kevin Correia is their Opening Day starter.  Yes, the Padres dumped him and he landed with the Pirates as their #1 guy.  Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen pose threats on offense, but they do not have enough to overcome the inherent economic disadvantage that the ownership has put in place here.

Playoffs:

Giants beat Cincy
Phils beat the Cubs

Giants beat Phils (again) (I can't believe I'm picking the Giants to repeat in the NL- it's highly unlikely.)

MVP - Albert Pujols
Cy Young - Tim Lincecum
Rookie of the Year - Freddie Freeman
Manager of the Year - Mike Quade

My homer-ism won't even allow me to pick the Cubs to get to the Series.  I'm starting to come around on this team, though, which is good timing since the season starts today.  Can't wait!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fake Question and Answer

I should just take Wednesdays off.  It seems to be the most uninspiring day of the week.  Putting everyone right in the middle of the daily grind is no place for witty sentiment- in fact, it probably only leads to depression.  So to attempt a half-thought out idea in a very lazy manner, let's try a fake question and answer section:

- You write songs, right?  Well, how do you go about that?  Is it hard?

Great question.  Some days, songs come easily and other days it is a grind.  The key is to run with inspiration when you get it.  It can lead to a quickly written song that sounds fantastic.  The songs that take years to finish are the ones that you really put a ton of effort into and they never seem to pan out- until you change one subtle thing and the rest just clicks.  "This Time Around" took a few years to write after writing the verse section in about 5 minutes. 

So to answer the question- yes and no.  It can be hard, but it doesn't have to be.  I like to write lyrics first and then edit them to fit different musical styles to see what works.  Sometimes, that may not be the easiest way of going about things, but I like to have something to sing about when creating a melody. 

- You seem pretty nerdy, are you a huge dork?

Sure, I guess.  I'm pretty comfortable with who I am.  If I want to like Star Wars, Transformers, or playing the occasional Super Mario Bros. game then I'm going to indulge.  I'm not putting too much stock in being a "nerd," "jock," "preppy," or any other category of person from "Saved By The Bell."  Oops- there I go again with one of my nerdy vices. 

I also played varsity basketball in high school for 3+ years (I was moved up at the end of my freshman year), so maybe that gives me non-nerdy cred?  Eh, who knows?  As long as I'm comfortable with who I am, the rest is easy and non-judgmental.  Just the way I like it.

- What's with you and 90s music?

It's the music I grew up on.  I'm quickly becoming the older guy who completely hates on all other generations of music.  "They just don't write music like they did when I was growing up!"  Or something like that.  Seriously though, you don't get quality tunes like "Far Behind" by Candlebox or "Black Gold" by Soul Asylum any more.  It makes me sad.  Some new music is fantastic and I'm very into stuff these days.  Hell, even bands that were around back in the 1990s, can't replicate the sounds they used to release (I'm looking at you STP and Pearl Jam!) 

- Are you really so self-absorbed that you would write up a fake Q&A?

Yep!  I just couldn't think of any great topic today, so I figured this would be an easy way to create a dialogue.  I mean, instead of having all this crazy dialogue in my head, why not put it in electronic text.  I'm used to questioning myself and laughing at my actions so there's no reason that can't be a topic for a blog.  I'm not sure where I was going with this, but I clearly need some form of caffeine ASAP!

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Feel free to ask any real questions via email or in the comments.  I guarantee I'll answer it.  We should talk about baseball tomorrow, yeah, that's the ticket! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Top 5 1990s R&B Songs

Once again, I break down music where I'm not totally an expert.  However, worst case scenario, one of these fantastic songs gets in your head and you are transported back to a day when the WWE was the WWF and when college basketball featured quality decision making.  Those days are behind us, but let's bring them back in a small way:

5) Motownphilly by Boys II Men - As far as catchy songs go, this one is goes down in history as one of the most accessible pop songs ever.  Boys II Men has fantastic harmonies and this song highlights their more upbeat style.  I prefer this song over the "I'm going to slit my wrist at a middle school dance" tempo of "Water Runs Dry" or something like that.



4) Bump & Grind by R. Kelly - If you thought you would escape this list without an R. Kelly song, you were sorely mistaken. This is the original single that jettisoned Robert's career into the mainstream and allowed him to fornicate with young girls without getting in trouble. As you can see, it's a sweet jam.



3) Pony by Ginuwine - Now this is what I call a slow jam! Most of the songs on this list are pretty dirty. Apparently that's how I like my 90s R&B... dirty, hot and sticky. That last sentence was gross, but I'm not deleting it.



2) Return Of The Mack by Mark Morrison - This song reminds me of my bachelor party. After going paint-balling while completely hung over at some crazy-ass warehouse somewhere in or near Reno, we were driven back to the Peppermill in a shuttle by one of the paint ball guys who had a curly mullet and kept saying "all that jazzy stuff." This song came on the radio and it made any thought of vomiting or passing out not an option. What a fantastic groove!



1) This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan - This song is unstoppable. I don't think it is possible to get sick of this song. I can't think of one time this song ever came on and I thought, "Ugh, I wish this wasn't on." That just doesn't happen. Montell is now a big G- the girls see he's got the money- hundred dollar bills ya'll!



What do you think? Are you mad that I didn't include any female vocalist songs like "Push It" or "Creep?" Too bad! Those songs aren't as good as my Top 5. How about "Poison" by Bel Biv Devoe? It barely missed the cut. I stand by the list- these jams get it done 100% of the time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Case Of The Mondays

I had a long weekend and feel even more tired than before I was off. Isn't that always the way it goes?

Friday:

I went to Mrs. B.'s "Bodypump" class at a 24 Hour Fitness I had never been to previously. Mrs. B. knows the instructor from her DPX classes, so we figured we'd give it a try. I decided that since it involved weights, I wouldn't feel weird participating in the class.

Upon showing up, Mrs. B. introduced me to Kristin, the instructor. Instead of calling me Tony, she decided that "Mr. Adrianne" was more appropriate. During the class, she'd call me out over the sound system using my new nickname. It was pretty emasculating in a room full of women (and three other guys!)

Even worse, I tried to be a big shot and use as much weight as possible. The class was pretty damn hard and I expected it to be difficult, but I did not expect to feel light headed. I was going to either throw up or pass out around 40 minutes in. I left the room to get a breather in the locker room. Not surprisingly, Mrs. B. told me later that Kristin commented about my exit over the loudspeaker. I somehow think she'd probably prefer me wimping out rather than vomiting all over her other class participants. My body still feel ripped apart from this class, and no, it does not make me feel like more of a man. Not one bit.

Saturday:

I actually still made it to the gym the next day for some treadmill running, but Kevin Johnson wasn't there, so the trip was uneventful. Maybe he's too busy running damage control for his dumb assistant's emails to the press.  Ugh.

Mrs. B. and I went to see "Paul" on Saturday night.  It was the first time we had gone to the movies in months.  Luckily, the movie was pretty good.  Without ruining any jokes, I will say that they put in plenty of nerdy references to other Sci-Fi pics such as "Star Wars," "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind," and "E.T."  It's a solid movie and with so many other piece of crap movies you could waste your money on, this one is more worth seeing the rest.  Or your could just wait for all of them to make it to Netflix... either way.


Sunday:


Mrs. B. and I woke up early and drove down to San Jose to attend our friends' engagement party.  We are extremely happy for Sean and Trish and had a good time at their BBQ in the park type engagement party.  We were literally still so sore from Friday's class that we were not at our most social.  That being said, we can't wait for the wedding (whenever it may be scheduled) and I'm honored to be the best man. 


Essentially, making this post as boring as possible, we drove home and went to sleep pretty much immediately.  I woke up at 8:30pm and then beat Super Mario Bros. 2 (which is the bastard child of the entire series.)  And that was my boring weekend. 


What?  No tournament talk?!  Not really.  My brackets are a mess, I am cheering for Butler to go all the way, and I think Matt Howard is a savage.  How was that?  I'm really shifting my focus more to the start of baseball season.  I'm looking for fantasy baseball redemption... and I'm out for blood!

Friday, March 25, 2011

NCAA Surprises

Not too much today.  I was just amazed with the two late games yesterday.  I watched them at the gym and left to go home around halftime of the Butler/Wisky game.  When I got home...

Duke was getting their ass handed to them!  I'm not exactly sure how this happened but once Arizona took over, it was impressive to watch.  Derrick Williams should cut up his highlight reel from this game and send it to every team in the NBA.  I'm no scouting director and I don't know his game well enough to know if he'll make a good pro, but he had some ridiculous dunks in that game.



Unfortunately, since I had San Diego State in the Final Four, this Duke victory didn't help me all that much. In fact, my bracket is pretty much busted at this point. I do have Ohio State winning it all, but that's the only team I have left. It's a lost cause, so I'll just cheer for...

BUTLER. Brad Stevens is clearly an excellent coach. His players play hard, solid fundamental basketball. As much as Matt Howard plays the role of goofy white guy (a role I'm familiar with), he is an unbelievable basketball player. He goes hard after every rebound and gets most of them. He is much quicker than one would think. He shoots long range shots. Finally, he is clutch making game winning shots and free throws.

Their game verses Wisconsin last night was fun to watch. They even had the presence of mind to allow the Badgers back in the game so we could get a little taste of Gus Johnson going crazy. Excellent work, Butler!

It's too bad that both Mountain West teams lost in the early games, but what are you going to do? Not much apparently.

Enjoy the weekend and stay safe out there if you're dealing with bad weather- which you most likely are.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thank You Notes

Jimmy Fallon's idea made a whole lot worse.

Dear Vanilla Ice,

Thank you for your song "Ninja Rap." Not only did it provide a soaring and gorgeous backdrop for "TMNT II: The Secret Of The Ooze," but it also effectively ended your relevance in mainstream pop culture.

I'm still a fan,
Tony B.

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Dear Joe Mauer,

Thank you for getting almost to the top of the MLB Jersey sales list. It's ok to get beat by Derek Jeter, I suppose. Just stay healthy and guide my fantasy baseball team to redemption!

Lovin' the sideburns,
Tony B.

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Dear Matthew Perry in Mr. Sunshine,

Thank you for showing everyone that running a medium size arena in the San Diego area is more about wise-cracking and being the boss's bitch than actually doing anything that resembles work. Maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to take a job like that.

Realism is overrated and wouldn't make even a decent show,
Tony B.

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Dear Cheerios,

Thank you for still being delicious. I hadn't had you as a breakfast meal in quite some time- but after eating you this week, it turns out that regular and Honey Nut versions are still fantastic. It is creepy to write directly to a cereal.

Cheerio,
Tony B.

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Dear Dana Jacobson,

Thank you for bringing your broad and manly shoulders to ESPN2 each day. Also, don't think we haven't forgotten about the night you had way too much to drink and went crazy at the Mike & Mike Roast:






















The Goose is loose!
Tony B.

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Dear Carmelo Anthony,

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for making the Knicks worse after they acquired you.  I didn't necessarily think you would make them a contender (at least this year) but never in my wildest dreams would I have believed you'd lead to the team being worse.  Hey, if people can laugh at me for being a Cubs fan, then I have to enjoy the pain of another fan base.  I choose the Knicks. 

Keep it up!
Tony B.

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Dear Costco,

Thank you for your loose return policy.  Considering my ratio of regular trips vs. trips to return things is at 1:1, at least you're not giving me attitude about returning your occasionally defective merchandise.  Wet sponges inside the plastic- really?

Eh, I'm still down with your store mostly,
Tony B.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

90s Music: Oasis

Oasis has to be one of my favorite bands from the 90s.  We can talk about how much of their music they "copied" from the Beatles, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, some random Coca-cola commercial and any number of other artists.  Realistically, there are only a few cases where I would say that Oasis "copied" their music from someone else.  Instead, I would say that they were heavily influenced by various bands or artists- much like all musicians are influenced by music they enjoy.  Liam Gallagher's voice is far too whiny and crooning (in a good way) to fully copy anyone else's style. 

That being said, the band is broken up and Liam Gallagher has his new band called Beady Eye.  The music is ok, but not close to 1990s Oasis.  I prefer to remember the band in their prime.  Here are some of my favorite tunes:

"Supersonic" - What a dirty rocker this is. The guitar is perfectly distorted. Liam's voice is made for this tune. It really does make me want to drink gin & tonic and believe that I'm invincible.



"Live Forever" - No Oasis list is complete without this song. The simple drum beat is infectious to the ears and guides the entire song. Decent use of major and minor keys from verse to chorus, respectively. Great song.



"Slide Away" - One of my favorite songs growing up. This song alone had major influence on my songwriting. The opening Am7 chord is perfect. Perfect I tell ya! Here's an acoustic version with Noel singing lead.



"Wonderwall," "Don't Look Back In Anger," and "Champagne Supernova" - Do you really need me to post videos of these songs? They are so popular that you can probably just play them in your head right now. These are great songs. I especially love Noel singing lead vocals for the first time on an Oasis album for "Don't Look Back In Anger." Also, Noel sure knows how to fully use pentatonic scales for his guitar solos!

"Some Might Say" - I have no idea how this song wasn't more popular in the US, but I know it was hugely popular in my group of friends. Great harmonies between Liam and Noel on this one.



"Cast No Shadow" - This song is under-appreciated. Give it a listen even if you're familiar with the song. It is a damn fine song that deserves your attention. Here's another acoustic version with Noel singing lead.



I know there are plenty of other songs I could mention- "Rock N Roll Star," "Cigarettes and Alcohol," and "(What's The Story) Morning Glory" to name a few. I also recommend listening to versions where Noel sings lead. I'm not sure Oasis would've been better with Noel as the lead singer, but I certainly appreciate his versions of the songs he wrote.

Oasis was a great band and they will be missed. Though, if the money's right, I can't imagine them not getting back together for another knock-down-drag-out fight- I mean- world tour sometime in the future.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Cubs 2011 Outlook

First off, let me wish occasional commenter Brandon and his girlfriend Jen well.  They were hit by a drunk driver head-on last night while driving to Oregon, and while they appear to be ok, their car is totaled.  Don't you love what the lowest pieces of crap in our society is capable of?  Not only will there always be drunk people, there will also be dumb people making awful decisions.  I have no idea if the drunk driver is ok, and to be honest, I couldn't care less if they aren't.  Anyway, Brandon and Jen- I'm glad you came out of this horrible circumstance alright.

Now comes a rant about the upcoming baseball season.  This one is personal and may only apply to me.  Here's my problem- I can't get excited about it.  I want to.  I really, really want to.  But every time I think about the season as a whole, a shadow looms over my thoughts- I'm fairly sure the Cubs are not going to be good. 

This may not come as a surprise to anyone because why should the "cursed" "lovable losers" with the 3rd highest payroll in baseball be a quality baseball team?  Oh, I don't know, probably because their aforementioned 3rd highest payroll in baseball should be getting more results?  Maybe because fans show up at Wrigley Field even when the team is dreadful- all the while, buying $6 Old Styles in order to get some enjoyment out of the product that is being put out there?

Perhaps I'm being over-dramatic.  The Cubs are only 2 years removed from being a 97 win team that got swept out of the playoffs by an 84 win Dodgers team.  I am typically a pretty positive person.  I know that I can control the Cubs' results about as much as I can control the rain that has been pouring on the West Coast recently.  However, most of my life I've maintained a positive outlook when thinking about the Cubs.  This last year's team seems to have broken me, though.  That attitude has carried over to this year. 

Let's have a look at the team.  I'll line out what I like and what I don't, and in the end we'll see if I'm being a Chick Little or if I'm spot on.

Things I Like:

Getting Matt Garza - I'm unsure of exactly how good the prospects are that the Cubs gave up, but overall I like this acquisition.  Garza is a tough pitcher who has had to deal with AL East for years.  He should find the NL Central much easier to pitch in.  I'm also hoping that he will help bring a winning attitude to the Cubs since he's become used to winning with the Rays.  Carlos Pena can also help in that regard. 

Getting Carlos Pena's defense and power - I don't know about $10 million, but for one year only, I like getting Carlos Pena.  Hopefully he can hit 40 bombs at Wrigley and hold down the 1st base corner on defense.  Seems a bit expensive, but what do I care?  I'm a fan, not a member of the Cubs' business office. Like I said, I'm hoping that Garza and Pena can show the other guys (specifically the younger guys) how to be winners.

Getting Kerry Wood - If there was ever a guy who can be commended for taking less money to go to place he specifically wanted to play, it is Kerry Wood.  Getting him to sign for $1.5 million was a steal and likely balances out the massive expense of Pena.  Wood will be great as an 8th inning guy- assuming he can stay healthy.  Chicago is happy to have Kid K back!

The Youngsters - Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin are two guys that have shown great promise early in their careers.  If these two guys continue to improve, the Cubs will greatly improve as well.  Also, it's good to see that Colvin was able to survive getting impaled by a bat.  What toughness!  And we know for sure he's not a vampire, though the Cubs play enough day games to make sure of that already. 

Things I Don't Like: 

Carlos Pena's average - Signing a guy for $10 million that hit under .200 the previous year does not look like a good move.  Like I said, I enjoy his power and defense, but if he hits under .200 this year, it's going to be a LONG year for him.  Chicago fans can be among the most fickle in baseball and you do not want to lose their support.  Beloved steroid taker Sammy Sosa lost them when he hit .240 after being beaned in the head.  I somehow doubt they'll give more slack to a new face in town being paid $10 million. 

Big Z's cured! - Whenever someone goes to rehab and claims they are "cured," it is probably the first clue that they are either delusional or in denial.  At the very least, they are not prepared to overcome the adversity they are sure to face in the future.  Carlos Zambrano went to anger management last year and arrived to Spring Training this year claiming he had been cured.  That is not the statement I would like to hear.  I'd rather him recognize that controlling his emotions should be an ongoing process- but we know that's not going to happen.  I set the "Z led dugout brawl" line at July 12.  Who wants the under?

2B - Jeff Baker and Blake Dewitt are going to platoon?  Oh boy.  Good thing we traded Ryan Theriot last year as a throw in to the Dodgers.  They passed him along to the Cardinals and I guarantee he kills the Cubs every time they play.  THE RIOT was not outwardly impressive, but he was solid.  My hope is that Darwin Barney comes on strong and steals the 2B job outright.  That is doubtful though.

Soriano & Ramirez - If I had $33 million to spend on baseball players, there is no way either one of these guys would get a piece of that cash.  However, in the world of the Chicago Cubs, that is exactly what these guys will get paid.  If they live up to their contracts, it will be a good year.  Again, the chance of that happening is almost zero. 

Fukudome - I've seen enough of this guy.  The Cubs gave him a 4 year $48 million deal.  I'm pretty sure they thought he was going to hit 25 jacks every year while hitting .290 - .310.  He's a decent baseball player, but I'm ready for his contract to be over.  Here's to hoping his impending free agency gives him some extra motivation. 

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I know the Cubs could potentially have a decent year.  I do think they are better than they were last year (that's not saying much.)  Unfortunately, they have lacked a certain passion the last two years that really hurts their perception in the eyes of the fans.  I'm not sure I can describe the "passion" I'm talking about, but I will tell you that the 2010 San Francisco Giants had it.  You just know that they are playing hard, able to overcome adversity, and are an easy team to root for.  I would say that even if they had not won the World Series.  Although, I'm guess it was that passion that helped them finish off their playoff run with a World Championship. 

I want to believe the Cubs will have a good year.  Once Opening Day rolls around, I'm hoping to get the negativity out of my system.  Thus far, however, I can't squash my fears of this being just another year like every other one I've experienced for all of my 30 years.  Championship-less. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Case of the Mondays

Instead of giving my usual recap of the weekend, I'm going to tell a self-deprecating tale that hopefully you'll think is funny rather than offensive.  My last story similar to this was about me not crapping my pants.  Let's see how this one goes.

Saturday morning, I had to wake up early because I was working in Palo Alto at the NCAA Women's Tournament Games at Stanford.  I was not looking forward to it because of the torrential downpour that has been plaguing the west coast of the United States these days.  However, I felt very organized work-wise, so that was reassuring.

I left Sacramento at 8am and arrived in Palo Alto around 11am.  I was happy to get there early because I absolutely hate rushing around trying to meet a time deadline in an area that I'm not familiar with.  Upon arrival, the folks at Stanford were welcoming and helpful.  I was granted my official NCAA access pass which allowed me to go pretty much anywhere except the mystical "Zone 4."  I'm not sure what was in there, but I'll have to assume it was a pot of leprechaun gold and a flask of unicorn blood.  I totally understand why it would be a restricted area.

(Hilarious Side Note: "Zone 4" was actually for Team Locker Rooms [Selected Times.]  "Zone 3" was for Team Locker Rooms [All Times.]  I suppose I could have gone anywhere- just like "Reading Rainbow.")

I sat at an outside table from 12 noon until around 4pm.  St. John's vs. Texas Tech was the first game at 1pm and UC Davis played Stanford after that (around 3:50pm actual start time.)  By the time our purchased tickets and guest list will call were picked up, the game had already started.  I went in to see how the game was going.  UCD hung with #1 seed Stanford for quite awhile before the game got out of hand.  It was a great environment to watch a game, though I didn't actually have a seat so I just wandered around upstairs standing in the corners.

The more I stood there, the more I kept contemplating my departure from the fine city of Palo Alto.  It had already been a long day and I was losing steam quickly.  To be honest, I was not at my finest intellectually... which I believe led to this next mistake.

I glanced up at the jumbotron that they have in the center of Maples Pavilion and saw a famous black woman politician.  Within a tenth of a second the image was gone and the screen was back on the game.  Something didn't seem right about my next move, but I couldn't stop myself.  I jumped on Facebook and wrote:

"Michelle Obama in da house!"

The whole time I kept thinking, "Maybe I was seeing things- it doesn't seem right that she'd be here."  But I gave up thinking about it and began to focus on getting home.

The drive home found the roads to be a bit safer.  The weather was better, traffic wasn't terrible, and I was listening to Men's Tourney games most of the way home.  The Butler game was fantastic on the radio, though I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on with the refs at the end.  After seeing the highlights, I understand the whole situation better and blame the players for making awful mental errors.  It seemed like a well played game besides the last 4 seconds.

Anyway, I got home around 7:30 or 8pm and jumped on my TV to see how the UCD/Stanford game looked on ESPN 2.  I had mentioned to Mrs. B. that the First Lady was there, but that maybe I was seeing things because I couldn't figure out why she was there.  I figured I'd check the tape for her and also to see the end result to make sure my ticketing services weren't needed on Sunday and Monday.  I put the DVR on x5 fast forward and watched the score increase for both teams (a little bit fast for Stanford as they eventually won.)

I would play the DVR at various parts to get an idea of what the game looked like and I was curious to see what the announcers were saying.  During my fast forwarding I saw the screen show the very same black woman politician I had seen previously.  I stopped the DVR and found the woman in question.  Almost immediately the announcer says, "Condoleezza Rice is here watching her alma mater."

Yeah.

I immediately felt like an A-hole (with a capital "A") because a few people replied to my earlier post about the First Lady on Facebook.  I had to go back on and explain to everyone my mistake.  Yikes- I officially was the white guy who thinks all black people look alike.  Ugh.  I made mention of who I actually saw and then swiftly deleted the post because I was embarrassed I even wrote anything. 

I definitely was tired from work, wanting to leave, and saw Ms. Rice on the screen for a split second, but I still felt bad.  It wasn't intentional, so at this point I think it is pretty funny that I played a stereotype that afternoon.  If you can't laugh at yourself... you know the rest.

So what have we learned from my story?

1) Don't post things on Facebook when you don't actually know what is going on.  It will only lead to mistakes and make you feel like an idiot.

2) Watch more political shows.  If you can't tell the difference between Michelle Obama and Condoleezza Rice, you have more problems than just potential subconscious racism.  You're just not as educated on current events as you should be.

The good news in all of this? Condoleezza Rice is actually white based on the Racial Draft that was held a few years ago:




See, I actually got the First Lady confused with a white woman!  Oh wait, that's probably EVEN MORE offensive.  Dammit!  I can't do anything right!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Friday!

Sorry for the lack of quality posts this week.  I've been concentrated on some day-job type stuff that has sucked my energy and effort away from the blog (ridiculous, right?)

I'll be back Monday with some second rate blogsmanship- bank on it.

PS: 14 of 16 on my tourney picks?  Yeah, I'm pretty much like Nostradamus.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thank You Notes

The idea is taken from Jimmy Fallon and made much, much worse.  

Dear Southeast Bracket,

Thank you for being the most trash filled bracket of this year and possibly of the last 10 years.  I'm not high on Pitt as a #1 seed and Florida deserved a #2 seed about as much as "The Situation" deserved to participate in the Donald Trump Roast.  BYU would be a great pick as a #3 seed if they didn't have such high morals and honor codes and such.  I don't trust Wisconsin and I've doomed my bracket by picking Kansas St. to go to the Final Four.  They could easily lose to Utah St. in the first round.  As you can see, Southeast Bracket, you are as awful as Mel Gibson. 

Regards,
Tony B.

----------

Dear Leaky Ceiling In My Apartment,

Thank you for giving me even more motivation to finally buy a house.  This is a joke.  In three years and between two property management companies, one would think our ceiling would have been fixed.  This is not so.  If Mrs. B., my cats, and/or I die of mold poisoning- you know who to blame.*

*We are technically resident managers of the complex (we really do nothing at this point, it's just for legal reasons that they have to have one) so I'm not calling out our management company.  However, when we move out, I'll rip them to shreds.

Sincerely,
Tony B.

----------

Dear Women's NCAA Tournament,

Thank you so much for allowing me to work your wonderful event on Saturday.  I will be the upstanding beacon of professionalism on the outside, but inside I will be wishing that I was watching the Men's Tournament or going to at least 1 of the 3 parties I was invited to that I'm now not able to go to.  Excellent.

See ya this weekend,
Tony B.

-----------

Dear St. Patrick's Day,

Thank you for making it ok for strangers to come up and pinch people if they are not wearing green.  It forces me to participate and actually wear green just so I can interact with a smaller amount of annoying people that would actually do something like that.  Oh, and green beer is not a big deal.  Neither are green milk shakes at Mac-E-D's. 

Top o' the mornin',
Tony B.

-----------

Dear Chase Utley's Knee,

Thank you in advance for getting healthy.  Please, please, please get healthy.  I need your skills at 2B for my fantasy team.  Seriously.  I'm not joking.  Get better. 

Ditto for Justin Morneau's head,
Tony B.

-----------

Enjoy the start of the tournament everyone and Happy St. Patty's Day.  If you're fortunate enough to have my phone number, feel free to text me on Saturday to make fun of me (or just to make me laugh.)  I'll be working out at Stanford from 11:30am until around 5pm. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We Have A Situation

Seth MacFarlane, host of the Donald Trump Roast on Comedy Central, joked, "The Situation is celebrating a milestone tonight, his 15th minute of fame just started." I thought it was a pretty solid joke... up until The Situation took the podium. Then I began to think, "WOW, Seth MacFarlane might be right."

I mean, out of all the most famous reality stars of the past 10 or 20 years, who is actually still relevant? The Miz, maybe? Hell, Dave Holmes (from MTV's "Wanna Be A VJ?") hosts DVD On TV on FX and made a few appearances on "Reno 911" (RIP.) I'm trying real hard to come up with people who have stayed popular in the public eye, and the two I came up with were reaches.

The Situation took the podium and started making jokes that straight BOMBED. The audience rode him like a cowboy at the end of "Dr. Strangelove." 


















The hilarious thing about the whole "situation" is that everyone is now talking about The Situation's set.  His awful jokes about Trump's hair, being rich, and about Whitney Cummings not being a grenade "'cause she's not blowing up any time soon" were beyond awful.  However, given the level of press he's getting about this terrible roast could have helped him reach a whole new level of "popularity."  The alternative is that this set will help finish his fame like Kano ripping out its heart.  (I'm willing to bet large sums of money that regular commenter and blogger, G$ would KILL at a roast.  Just sayin'.)

I'm not going to lie.  I am a weekly viewer of "The Jersey Shore."  I'm mind boggled each and every week about guido's and guidette's actions.  Calling someone "fake" is apparently the equivalent of someone from the Renaissance era slapping another person with a glove and saying, "I challenge you to a duel."  It is apparently more respectable to go behind your significant other's back and hook up with someone rather than harmlessly talk to someone of the opposite sex in front of their face.  Last, it's ok for Snooki to have expectations of guys to be in shape (and be on steroids) but it is completely offensive if anyone mentions her weight. 

I think I watch because I'm so amazed by "The Jersey Shore's" culture- I literally can't believe people act this way, so in a way, it's an interesting study.  And while I enjoy it, I have to believe we're coming up on the series' shelf life sometime soon.  How long will The Situation's act go on?  How long can Snooki continue passing out on beaches and cussing at cops?  Also, isn't it about time for Ronnie to punch someone out again? 

Seth MacFarlane might be right, the "Shore's" entire cast might have started their 15th minute of fame.  Although, if "no press is bad press" then the public is probably more interested in The Situation than ever today. 

If they ever decide to can "The Jersey Shore," maybe there is room to start a show about this little lady:


















 Hotter than Snooki, right?! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

National Pi Day

I'm a nerd who is pressed for time, so here's a video with a musical representation of Pi.  Yesterday was 3/14 and I believe this video was posted in honor of that date:


Sorry I don't have time to talk about how awful the Southeast Bracket of the NCAA Tournament is. It's really bad. Seriously.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Case Of The Mondays

Not too shabby a weekend...

Friday:

I played a show at the Boxing Donkey.  It was a pretty fun time and the requests were definitely keeping me on my toes.  Not sure when the last time I played "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams Jr. or "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode, but now I know they answer to both of those songs are 3/11/11.  Thanks to the great staff at the Boxing Donkey for all that you do and I can't wait to be back soon!

Saturday:

Mrs. B. and I got up early and went with our friends Katrina and John on a last minute trip to Reno.  Since the Peppermill was "sold out" or "only accepting two night reservations" we booked a room down the block at the Atlantis for the first time.  I felt like I was cheating on a significant other, but understand that since this was a last minute trip, there was no opportunity for a room deal or apparently even a one night reservation. 

I figured this would go one of two ways.  1) We have a great time at the Atlantis and our one night spontaneous gambling trip would be a success.  OR 2) We have our curiosity of the Atlantis and other Reno casino resorts completely filled and realize that we should never take the Peppermill for granted.  Let's see which way our trip swayed.

We arrived at around 1:30pm at the Peppermill.  Yes, we went to the Peppermill first.  We couldn't check in at Atlantis until 3pm and we had comp dollars to use at the Peppermill.  After a free meal at Biscotti's, John and I went to the Craps table (of course we did.)  We got down about $200 before coming back up past even and leaving the table with $215 each.  At that point it was around 4:30pm, so we decided to put some NBA bets down before the games started at 5pm.  We took the Bulls and Spurs to cover, found our wives and headed over to the Atlantis.

Check in at the Atlantis was nice enough and we headed up to the room.  The room was nice enough, however we paid the rate that is equivalent to the Tuscany Tower rooms at the Peppermill.  It was definitely not as nice as those rooms.  It was probably just a tad nicer than the renovated Peppermill Tower rooms that we normally get comped.  The best thing about the room was the fact that it had a usable refrigerator.  The design of the room was also pretty nice and the beds were comfortable. 

After drinking some Gentleman Jack in the room, John and I headed down to watch the Bulls and Spurs cover putting an extra $100 in our pockets.  We then met our wives at the Bistro in Atlantis and had a pretty tasty meal.  I had a margarita pizza and lots of water to hydrate back up for the night.  No complaints with the restaurant at all. 

We decided to take a cab over the Peppermill to continue gambling.  For the low, low price of $4.34, we were back at our normal stomping grounds.  John and I found our way back to our favorite Craps table with our favorite dealers (shout out to Don, Phillip, Rick and the rest of the crew.)  We are pretty particular at this point with what table we play at and we patiently waited for spots to open up. 

Once we squeezed our way onto the table, it was going pretty well.  At one point I was up another $273, and I was extremely temped to walk away.  The problem is, you compete with yourself as to whether you're up there to gamble and win or gamble for a long period of time.  The answer you ideally want is both, but sometimes that is not possible. 

While playing, our friend Kevin who is a casino host at the Peppermill slyly came up and whispered, "Hey, you guys can't gamble here because you're staying at the Atlantis!"  It startled me for a second, but when I realized who was saying it I laughed and knew he was joking.  We really should have called him, but I try not to call in favors too often.  He said we should have called him and that he probably could have helped us out.  Such a cool dude.  Lesson learned on that one, even if it was an obvious lesson to learn.  Call your casino host before going up and they will help you out.  As Charlie Sheen would say, "Duh!"

In the end, the table cleared out leaving John, Mrs. B., and myself playing.  Katrina was around watching and occasionally playing slots.  The raised the limit on the table which priced out other players from joining the game.  I think they were trying to close down the table, but we kept shooting until they told us the table was done.  This was not helpful to our bankrolls, but it is the most ideal way of playing Craps.  It's like having our own private table.  We feel comfortable and not be bothered by any riff-raff that might join the table.  In the end, I was still up for the trip but for the session, I was probably down $110.  Ah the beauty of gambling- such a roller coaster. 

Our wives had already taken a cab back to the Atlantis (Mrs. B. left the Craps table before it totally closed), so John and I did the same.  We figured it would be a good idea to try gambling at the Atlantis as well.  This was the worst decision of the evening.  The Atlantis gaming area is not as vibrant as the Peppermill's.  The live music was substantially worse, the tables were of a lower quality (when I reached down to pick up chips, the felt felt old and nasty), and even the chips were of odd quality (lots of $5 chips were different looking and felt cheap.)  John and I got crushed on the table and then we went to bed.  I think we were both still up $50 for the trip, but it was a dumb decision.  Oh well, that teaches us a lesson and at least we were still up. 

Sunday: 

Check out was at 11am (at the Peppermill we would normally get a 1pm checkout due to our Gold Member status.)  Note to self- drinking and gambling on a "Spring Forward" Daylight Savings day is an awful idea!  However, we made the best of it, but quickly packing up and going back over to the Peppermill for another free meal.  I love having comp dollars.  It rules. 

We left after brunch and headed back to Sacramento.  We even missed the possible awful weather that was quickly approaching.  I'm fairly certain I slept the rest of the day away after arriving home.  Another successful trip to the wonderful city of Reno.  My final answer on the Atlantis is that the Peppermill is way better.  I didn't totally mind staying at the Atlantis, but as you can see, we kept going back to the Peppermill for a reason.  It has better high end rooms, a better gaming atmosphere, better food (although our dinner at Atlantis wasn't bad), and just a better overall vibe.  If nothing else, we won't take the Peppermill for granted- not that we really did before, but it was really eye opening to see how much better it is than other potential places you could stay or hang out. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Innovative Modern Musicians: The Damnwells

"I haven't heard of the Damnwells before."

Blah, blah, blah

"Do you think you're cool talking about bands I haven't heard of?"

Yadda, yadda, yadda

"What song would I recognize by them?"

Look.  I've spoken about less than mainstream bands on this blog from time to time.  I know the response can be lukewarm, but I am not deterred.  I can only bring the info to you, then you have to go out and see if this band is your cup of tea.  In this case- THE DAMNWELLS damn well are your cup of tea.  The raspy voice of Alex Dezen is hauntingly beautiful.  The song structure is top-notch.  Even better, this band isn't even famous enough to hate their fans (or at least be too cool for them.)  In fact, they are quite gracious and caring toward the folks that enjoy their music.

I first was introduced to The Damnwells by my friend Eric Woods.  I believe he saw them in San Diego and figured I would like them.  He was right.  Soon after I listened to the "PMR+1" EP, I bought "Bastards Of Beat" at Rasputin Records in Pleasant Hill.  I LOVED that album.  This was probably sometime in 2005.  I listened to it over and over.  With songs like "Sleepsinging," "Electric Harmony," "I'll Be Around," and "Texas" there are plenty of reasons to love that album.  Every song on it is fantastic.  Here's a sample:



A few years later I was back at that very same Rasputin and realized I hadn't checked in on The Damnwells in awhile. I was beyond pumped when I realized that "Air Stereo" was available for me to purchase that day. Shockingly, every song on that album is GREAT as well. I was immediately drawn to "Accidental Man" and "Shiny Bruise" (we'll get to that one in a bit.) Here's another taste:



For whatever reason, I would listen to them from time to time, but forgot to check in again for a few years.  I suppose it's like losing touch with a good friend only to remember to call them pick right back up like you hadn't been apart.  Last month, I found my way to their website and realized not only had I missed the release of "One Last Century," AND they were releasing "No One Listens To The Band Anymore" within a few days.  (I won't be losing track of them anymore as I now follow them on Twitter- @thedamnwells and @damnwellsnews.) 

Also, to my surprise, "One Last Century" was available FOR FREE at THE DAMNWELLS WEBSITE! Are you kidding me? How cool is that? (Highly inspiring- I may have to release some stuff for free, but we'll see about the best way of doing that.)

Even better, "No One Listens To The Band Anymore" was being released through PledgeMusic.com.   All I had to do was donate $10 and I was able to download the album on March 1.  I've been listening constantly ever since!  It's literally pointless to name off my favorite songs from both the last two Damnwells' releases because each and every song is fantastic.  (Ok, if you press me- start with "Soundtrack," "Say," and "Dandelion" from OLC and from the new album check out "Great Unknown," the title track, and "Werewolves.")

As a musician myself, I'm always looking for inspiration.  I have many songs ready for my next record, but I've had a lazy case of writer's block this past year.  I needed something to kick-start my creativity again and The Damnwells have helped me with that.  Rejuvenated, I am so thankful for The Damnwells' music.  So inspiring.

On top of that, because of the donation, I was able to watch a lunchtime UStream.TV webcast where Alex just sat in his living room and played requests and answered questions.  It was beyond awesome.  He actually answered TWO of the questions I typed in.  Here are the general premises of my questions:

I noticed Alex was playing a lot of songs with a Capo on the 4th fret, so I asked him if that was his favorite position to play at.  He essentially said that he's always looking for the best sounding place on the guitar for the chords to work.  He claimed to be "in the goosebumps business" so he'll play things wherever they sound best.  I'm not sure I explained his answer well, but in the context of the stream, it was solid.

My second question was about the second verse of "Shiny Bruise."  I couldn't figure out how they made the effect that sounds like a musical jet landing.  Was it on guitar?  Was it a sample?  As it turns out, they use a mellotron.  Excellent answer!  It makes perfect sense.  Now I have to figure out where to get one of those!

-----------

My main points of the post are three-fold.

1) The Damnwells is a FANTASTIC band that deserves your attention.  Give them a listen and see if you like them.  More than likely- you will!

2) I've been inspired.  I've been "too happy" after my wedding to write sad songs.  Seeing a happily married singer/songwriter like Alex Dezen continue to write greatness allows me to see how it is possible for me.  I didn't just get great music to listen to with their new album, I got inspiration that I needed.

3) By giving away music for free, pledging music revenue to charity, and allowing fans to interact directly The Damnwells are being very progressive in the way they view the music industry.  I respect what they are doing and it has me cheering for them as well as fulling enjoying listening to their music.  Obviously, the music has to be good/great for me to pay attention.  However, it makes me feel that much more invested knowing that these guys are good guys who care about people and fans.  It's refreshing.

So what are you waiting for?  Go check out The Damnwells- STAT!  You won't regret it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

DPX At Power Balance Pavilion

After years of coming to support me at my shows, I finally was able to return the favor to Mrs. B. last night. In the last few months, my lovely wife joined a hip hop dance aerobic exercise class called "DPX" (it stands for Dance Party Xtreme- you know it's extra legit because of the spelling of "Xtreme.") They announced in class that you can try out to dance at halftime of a Sacramento Kings game. Well, Mrs. B. tried out, made it, went to many rehearsals and last night was the night she was able to dance at what was previously known as ARCO Arena.

Mrs. B. was able to leave work early and get all done up for her performance.  I got home from work and we left pretty quickly to get to the arena in time.  She had to meet her dance crew at 6:45pm at one of the tunnels.  After making sure she was all good, I carried her purse and bedazzled sweatshirt to our seats.  Very manly of me- I know. 

We were in the nose bleeds, which was fine.  The arena really isn't all that big so it was still a pretty good view of the game and more importantly of the dance performance. 

While waiting for some of our friends to show up, I just looked around and noticed how depressed the vibe is in the building.  Kings fans are having a REALLY hard time with the news that they will probably be moving to Anaheim (or at least, somewhere else.)  Hell, the Maloofs are adding fuel to the fire by handing out free "Royals" shirts on the way in and making the Kings wear "Royals" uniforms every single night.  I believe the rumor is that the Kings will change their name to the "Royals" if they move to Anaheim.  I'm fairly certain the Maloofs are playing this out exactly the same way as the bitchy owner from "Major League."  Put a shitty product out there, lower the payroll further, frustrate fans, and do their best to prove there is a need to move to a different (and warmer) market.  The only real difference is that the physical team isn't actually playing better to spite them.  I suppose a cardboard cutout of Gavin Maloof in a skimpy bikini would not be motivating to the players, anyway.

Our friends showed up and that made it easier for me to ignore the sad vibe in the building.  We patiently waited for Mrs. B.'s moment.  Halftime rolled around and the lights dimmed like a rockstar was about to enter.  That was the moment when the class was announced and they all bounced out to the floor. 

The lighting for picture taking and video purposes was not great.  The lighting for ambiance was excellent.  Mrs. B. crushed the dance moves.  I'm assuming the rest of the crew did as well, but I was more focused in on her performance (and rightfully so!)  She put some red streaked extensions in her hair to make her stand out and it did the trick.  She did a great job and I couldn't be more proud of her! 

The Kings ended up blowing the game against the Orlando Magic near the end, which sucked, but the overall night was great.  If the Kings do actually move, at least we'll have this great memory of Mrs. B. getting her groove on down on the hardwood of "Power Balance Pavilion." 

Last, I DVR'ed the game to see if we could see any of the halftime performance on Comcast.  They did show an overhead shot and then went down to Jim Gray on the sidelines where you could see some of the girls behind him.  Is it more odd that my wife was mere feet away from Jim Gray, or just the fact that Jim Gray does sideline reporting for the Sacramento Kings broadcasts?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

90s Music: Alice In Chains

With the sad recent news that former Alice In Chains bassist Mike Starr passed away due to an overdoes, I'm reminded of the great music they made while he was in the band.  This post will go past Starr's tenure in the band (he left the band while touring for the album "Dirt") but in general, this post is dedicated to the memory of Mike Starr and Layne Staley, who also died of an overdose.  Just say "NO" to drugs kids. 

"We Die Young"

Appropriately titled, this foreshadowing of what was to come for the two original band members I mentioned above.  This song was on their original EP and became the lead song on "Facelift." It rocks:



"Man In The Box"

You're not going to get many Alice In Chains lists without this song included. This song still gets radio play from time to time and continues to rock by today's standards.



"Bleed The Freak"

A more brooding song that is underrated in the grand scheme of Alice In Chains' catalog. Enjoy:



"Got Me Wrong"

One of my favorite AIC songs comes from the Sap EP. This song is also on the "Clerks" soundtrack. The harmonies in the eventual chorus ("I haven't felt like this in so long") are just amazing.



"Brother"

Also from the Sap EP, this recording is from their "Unplugged" album. I have to say, Nirvana's "Unplugged" is probably my favorite of all the "Unplugged" series followed closely by Alice In Chains. Just awesome.



"Them Bones"

Look, I could easily post every song from "Dirt" on this list. It is one of the best albums released in the 90s. I know I love a lot of music, but I can safely say that "Dirt" is really one of the quintessential alternative/grunge/rock/metal albums of the 90s. It belongs in the same category as Nirvana "Nevermind" and Pearl Jam "Ten." This is one of hell of a rockin' song!



"Would?"

Another fine composition from "Dirt." This song is also a strong addition to the "Singles" soundtrack. You know you love this song.



"Rain When I Die"

Another appropriate song. These guys definitely lived out their music, which wasn't the best thing for their health, but I suppose the music is coming from a dark yet honest place.



"Down In A Hole"

A slower jam with a soaring chorus. Such a melancholy song.



"Rooster"

This video has gruesome scenes depicting Vietnam. The song is amazing. Excellent use of the Wah Pedal Mr. Cantrell. Seriously.



So I lied, I didn't go past Mike Starr's tenure with the band! I started going through the songs and realized I didn't have to get into the excellency that is "Jar Of Flies" or their self-titled album (both great records.)

RIP Mike Starr and Layne Staley. Like I said, do NOT get into hard drugs. They haven't worked for anyone yet, so they won't work for you either. I suppose showing you all the awesome music drug addicts have made is the worst PSA of all time, but these guys were talented without the junk and died needlessly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've Got A Cold

My head feels like it is caving in.  I'm sneezing more often than Charlie Sheen is saying crazy things.  And I'm leaking fluid from my nose.  It's pretty awesome. 

I have some DayQuil but so far, it hasn't made much of a difference.  Hopefully I didn't catch this cold from Kevin Johnson- he has important things to do in Sacramento!

I'll be back tomorrow with some awfully important stuff- ya know, like usual.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Case of the Mondays

Since receiving a tetanus shot on Thursday, I've been ridiculously sore.  I'm not sure if it's supposed to make my neck and back sore along with my arm, but that's what's happened.  On top of that, I feel a cold coming on, but I digress.  You're probably not here to read about my aches and pains- here's the weekend recap:

Friday:

Mrs. B. and I went to work out after work and I got a great run in along with some weight lifting.  Probably not the best idea with my sore arm, but I powered through it.  Afterward, we went to Chili's for a Friday evening dinner.  2 for $20!  Great deal!  We capped off the night by watching "Hot Tub Time Machine."  We hadn't seen it yet, and were pleasantly surprised- it was hilarious!  Rob Corddry was on fire during the entire movie.  For a silly comedy, I would recommend it.

Saturday:

Mrs. B. and I again went to the gym.  This time we went to the downtown Sacramento location (there are three different locations of 24 Hour Fitness that we go to on a regular basis- usually for Mrs. B. to go to her hip-hop dance crew aerobic class.)  After stretching, I went to patiently wait in line for a treadmill to open up.  Someone was already waiting for a treadmill- and that someone happened to be Mayor Kevin Johnson.  More importantly, ex-Phoenix Suns' guard, Kevin Johnson.  It was pretty sweet.  I had seen him out one other time, but for whatever reason it was more fun to see him at the gym.

PS- why the hell is he working out at a public gym?  Don't they have something set up for him at the Mayor's office or at his house?

Anyway, a treadmill opened up and KJ hopped on it.  I kept waiting for a few minutes while listening to the new Damnwells album "No One Listens To The Band Anymore" in my headphones.  A treadmill opened up in the row in front of where I was standing.  KJ saw it open up, looked back at me and motioned for me to take the open treadmill.  I thanked him calmly and took my place on the treadmill in front of his.  Inside, it felt like a well respected coach had just told me to get to work.  I don't know how to explain it, but when an ex-NBA player tells you what to do, you have added motivation to do it.  I'm just glad he didn't tell me to shoot a limo driver!*

*Odd Jayson Williams reference!

KJ dunking on fools:



Later in the day, I went to hang out with my friend John.  We ended up driving to Cache Creek to play some video poker and kill some time.  For joining their players' club, we got $25 free dining each!  We immediately went to the sports bar and crushed a meal with a 23 oz. Miller High Life each.  After playing a little video poker (picked up 4 of kind 8's, won $40 and quit) we got back on the road back to his house.  His wife and Mrs. B. were out for the day and ended up meeting back up with us later.  John and I were deeply involved in some RC Pro Am and Dr. Mario by the time they got home.  We also played some music and I've decided I should learn "The Way" by Fastball.  Great song.

Sunday:

I'll skip the details of my Costco trip.  The main thing you need to know is that when I returned home, I found this guy sleeping in my car port:






















Yes, that is my car.  Fun fact- he was still sleeping there this morning- I think he might be dead.  We've called the police.

Our fantasy baseball draft was a great way to cap off the weekend.  As you may recall, we are allowed 6 keepers- my keepers were as follows:

C Joe Mauer
1B Justin "Headcase" Morneau
2B Chase Utley
OF Carl Crawford (I traded Jayson Werth and my 2nd round pick for him)
SP Roy Oswalt
SP Jonathan Papelbon

I also made a trade where I gave up the 2nd pick in the draft and my 8th rounder for picks 12 and 13.  This worked out well as the 2nd pick was used for Andrew McCutchen (he got Francisco Cordero with my 8th round pick) and I picked up Shin Soo-Choo and Edison Volquez.  Here is the rest of my team:

1B - Paul Konerko
3B - Pedro Alvarez
SS - Elvis Andrus
OF - Drew Stubbs
Bench - Manny Ramirez
Bench - Jesus Montero (Bring this guy up!  Let's make him trade bait!)

SP - Fausto Carmona
SP - Daniel Hudson
SP - Annibal Sanchez
RP - Jose Valverde
SP - Jonathan Niese
SP - Barry Zito
RP - Daniel Bard (Papelbon insurance)
RP - Jonny Venters (Oh, please win that closer's job- that would be awesome.)

If my keepers get healthy, I think I have a solid team.  I'm sure I'll keep wheeling and dealing.  Can't wait for the season to start!

Friday, March 4, 2011

This Time Around by Hanson?!?

A few weeks ago, I played a show at the Naked Lounge in Sacramento with Automatic Rival and Ziva. It was a great time, and as I explained in an earlier post, I had a fantastic time.

The piece of relevant info for this post happened after the show. Upon conclusion, we were all loading gear out and the venue was closing down. I decided to be a gent and give a copy of my current album "This Time Around" to the sound guy and to the girl who worked the register all night (1 copy each, of course.)

The sound guy was appreciative and said thank you. The girl was appreciative as well, but took one look at the CD and said, "This Time Around? Isn't there a Hanson CD called that?!?"

I said I didn't know. More specifically, why would I know? Besides MMM Bop, I can't name one other Hanson song. I'd have a better shot at telling you that Glen Quagmire once admitted to having sexual fantasies about Taylor Hanson before being told that Taylor wasn't a girl.

The girl from the NL informed that it really was the case and that they do have an album by the same name as my album. I think I threw a tantrum similar to Adam Sandler in "The Wedding Singer."

"This is something I wish I knew IN JULY!!!"

The funny thing is that it probably would have deterred me from naming the album after my own song that I wrote with no knowledge of this whole Hanson angle. I don't want to be copying any other artists, or purposefully doing things that have already been done. However, I'm glad I didn't know because I love how the album turned out (cover art, packaging, songs, etc.) It's good I didn't change anything about it.

As it turns out, "This Time Around" is actually Hanson's second album (it's also my second album.) They released the album in 2000 (I released mine in 2010- exactly ten years later.) Both albums have a physical song called "This Time Around" on them. Do the songs sound similar? You be the judge:



(I KNOW! It has over 1 million views!!! Surprising, right?!)

You can listen to all the tracks on my album in the sidebar on the right side of the page. "This Time Around" is Track 8- but you can read and you presumably already have the album, so you already knew that.

I'm guessing your conclusion is that the songs sound nothing alike.

-----------

Instead of feeling embarrassed about this, I'm embracing it. Mrs. B. even came up with the idea of the "This Time Around Tour." It would be my band and Hanson. We'll make t-shirts, sell CDs, and tour the entire country. Taylor, Issac, and Zac- if you're up for it, email me - tony [at] tonybataska.com and we'll get this show rolling!

Let's do this guys! I would also invite Michael Jackson and Biggie Smalls for this jam:



But obviously, both of them are dead. So it goes- this time around.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thank You Notes

You know the drill. Jimmy Fallon's idea made worse by "yours truly."

Dear Charlie Sheen,

THANK YOU for joining Twitter. Your actions and posts are now the real-life equivalent of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies with such unintentional comedy. Your tweets are like roundhouse kicks. Your twitpics are like doing the splits to hit a bad guy in the nuts. Within one day, you've been able to find 1,000,000 enablers. America is beautiful, ain't it?

Winning,
Tony B.

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Dear Lou Brown,

Thank you for your excellent guidance of the Cleveland Indians in Major League. Clearly, since your death, your players have not been able to focus and have been running rough-shot around society. Willie Mays Hayes is in jail for tax evasion. Ricky Vaughn is drinking tigerblood by the gallon. Hell, I don't know where Jake Taylor is, but I'm assuming he's managing semi-pro ball in a Mexican league.

At least Cerrano became President... until he was assassinated in Season 5 of "24."

You are missed,
Tony B.

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Dear Ralph Macchio,

Thank you for taking part in "Dancing With The Stars" this season. My only problem with you competing is that ABC did not also get Billy Zabka to challenge you. A rematch that epic would surely break TV ratings records and vault the world into a global utopia similar to the one featured in "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey." You and Billy could have been our generation's Wyld Stallyns!

Wax On...
Tony B.

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Dear Carlos Silva,

Thank you for starting the Cubs' Spring Training off with a brawl. A healthy clubhouse atmosphere is overrated. Tear it up, big man!

You so crazy,
Tony B.

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Dear Guy In The Locker Room,

Thank you for using the wall drier to dry your hair. Further, thank you for making sure you actually don't have a towel in conjunction with the hair drying. EVEN further, thank you for executing this whole process with your ass to the wall- which, if you're keeping score at home- means your naked penis was facing out for all the other dudes in the locker room to see. You should look into posting WARNING signs. OR...

Buy a towel- STAT!
Tony B.

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Dear Beady Eye,

Thank you going from being Oasis, to now being Oasis minus Noel Gallagher (AKA the talent of the band.) When I listen to your new song "The Roller" I'm strongly reminded of "Instant Karma!" by John Lennon. Why? Because they are the SAME SONG (almost.)

Best of luck,
Tony B.

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Dear Emilio Estevez,

Thank you for not trying to compete with your brother in a crazy contest. However, you gots to make a comeback, son! Young Guns III? A follow up to your character from The Breakfast Club? Another Mighty Ducks movie? We all need more Gordon Bombay in our lives! Whatever works- I'm in!

Emilioooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Tony B.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"You Fine" Or "You Just Gotta Keep It Real"

Last night I hosted a singer/songwriter competition in the fine city of Vacaville. It was great fun. I played three songs:

You're Not Just Another Girl
Kids Playing Guns In The Street
50 Stories

...and then judged the contest. Thank you to all the contestants and all the fine people who came out in support. It was a fun night!

On the way home, I stopped to get gas at the Safeway gas station in Dixon. Mrs. B. asked if I wanted something to drink and I said, "Sure," and she headed into the small convenience store adjacent to the gas pumps.

One of the cashiers greeted Mrs. B. on the way in and she said, "What's up?"

He said, "Nothing, what's up with you?"

"You know, just another Tuesday," she replied.

"I hear that."

Then she picked out drinks and went up to the register and asked, "Do you have any scratchers?" Apparently Mrs. B. wanted to get her Lottery on.

"Scratchers?"

"Yeah, it's pay day!" It was in fact, the first of the month (Bone Thugs!)

"No, no scratchers... You want to gamble, huh?"

"Yeah, sure," Mrs. B. replied again.

At this point, an African American gentleman came in and overheard this conversation. Mrs. B. said he reminded her of Mike Epps from Next Friday. He pipes up and says, "You need to go to Cache Creek!" (Local Indian Casino for those not from the area.)

Mrs. B. gets a little ghetto. "No, I want to play real games."

"So you should go to Thunder Valley?"

"No, they don't have good games there either."

"What games do you want to play?"

"Craps. Roulette. You have to go to Nevada for those games. I'd rather go to Reno."

"Oh damn, you really like to gamble!... What about Red Hawk?" (again, still in California, so this guy apparently isn't great with geography or state lines.)

"No- Red Hawk sucks!" my lovely bride explained. "Every time you go in there and take money out of your pocket, people get all up in your personal space!" (This is, in fact, true. One reason I don't like Red Hawk is the personal space issue. Another reason is that Live Card Craps is much worse than regular Craps.)

"Girls, that's just 'cause you fine."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah, you fine. You just gotta keep it real."

"Oh, ok. Thanks for clearing that up."

At this point, Mrs. B. turns to the cashier she was initially talking to and said, "See? Just another Tuesday."

And like that, Mrs. B. came back to the car and told me to drive away. It had been an interesting Tuesday, and it was nice that it was capped off with that ridiculous tale.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

90s Music Gems

90s music is what I grew up on.  That and the Beatles shaped my music taste for the most part.  Most everyone is still familiar with the titans of that era: Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, etc.  But what happened to some of the lesser known one or two hit wonders of that generation?  I actually have no idea, so I'm hoping to jog my memory regularly and come up with songs that were awesome back then, listen to them again, and see how they hold up.  Let's go on the hunt immediately:

"Sandstorm" by Cast: For as much as Oasis was accused of copying the Beatles in the early 90s, check out this song by Cast from 1995- it sounds like it belongs in the Oasis catalog.  It could've been a B-Side or extra track on "Definitely Maybe."  Anyway, these guys look like they are back together and have made a new album.  Crazy stuff!  Fun fact: Lead singer John Power was in The La's who sang "There She Goes (There She Goes Again)"- quite the catchy tune. 



"Time Ago" by Black Lab: I LOVE this band. That's right, present tense. They are still around and have put out a number of albums since their first album. They also had another mild 90s hit with "Wash Away" but this I enjoy this song better. See if you recognize this gem:



"Stars" by Hum: I once saw these guys open for Bush and the Toadies at the Warfield in San Francisco. It was a DAMN fine show! "Stars" is more recognizable but I also love the song "I Hate It Too" by this band. It's unfortunate that they weren't more popular. Maybe Weezer cornered the market on nerd-rock? Who knows? Hum has a harder edge than Weezer, but I digress. Here's the video:



"Uninvited" by Ruth Ruth: Yeah, if you don't remember this song, then listen immediately. I have no idea what happened to this band, but they sound like they are influenced by Bad Religion to some degree. This song rocks and deserves preservation:



"From Your Mouth" by God Lives Underwater: You'll either enjoy this song or be entertained by the Asian guy in the video who is eating in reverse. This band uses a rock/synth hybrid to bring a solid sound to your ears.



"Nearly Lost You" by Screaming Trees: Quite possibly the least successful Seattle grunge band that also had a hit. These guys are friends with Pearl Jam among others. This song can be found on the "Singles" soundtrack (along with a number of other GREAT songs.) Well worth your time revisiting.



I might do this regularly as it is nice to go back and challenge my brain in this manner.

Also, I recently pledged money to get the new Damnwells album. It is an excellent album and the cause is good as well (fight against AIDS, Malaria, TB.) If you're interested, GO HERE to check it out.