Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Killing them dead

Thanks to Chad for sending me the link to this. I've been insisting for years that there is a serial killer on the loose killing college-aged men in college towns across the Upper Midwest. Now the La Crosse Police, in their infinite wisdom (the same infinite wisdom that allowed La Crosse to be the number one place in the U.S. to get away with a bank robbery in the late 1990's), have stated that there is no serial killer, which seems absolutely ridiculous. Now, there are other detectives who beg to differ. Hopefully my insistence is validated soon.

Curiosity Kills

I'd been somewhat curious as to how this would sound.

Fuck. Terrible.

Do the Royals read this blog?

The instant I posted this, the Royals go off and win three of four games and climb back to within a stone's throw of .500. They seems to have started scoring runs also, as would seem to be evident by the 9-5 ass-whooping they laid down on the Rangers last night. I had placed a moratorium on watching the Royals every night about five games into their losing streak, but maybe this is the indicator that I can return. I guess all they needed was me lighting a fire under their asses (or maybe they remembered this)...

Hopefully, Jose Guillen can build on this game and get on a tear.

"Fargo Rock City"

As this blog has (d)evolved, it has become more and more about my own fandom. There are a few opinions espoused here that are not related to media or sports, but those are becoming fewer and farther between. Generally, dropping by this site is simply checking out my opinions on these relatively unimportant matters--and certainly in the instance of this post it is not always in the realm of what some might consider timely.

Now, somewhat ironically*, I had been told by a friend (J-Bone) that I should check out Chuck Klosterman because "he writes like [I] talk." Then, about three weeks ago, KRD handed me Fargo Rock City and said she thought I'd like it because like Chuck Klosterman, I hail from a small town in the Upper Midwest (mine had one stoplight, his had none) and seem to share the same sensibility.

*The irony becoming clear soon...
Thank you both. Having now read Fargo Rock City, being compared to him is flattering, and it probably wouldn't have happened if I'd not been loaned the book.

Fargo Rock City is Klosterman's love letter to 1980's Glam Metal. Having grown up a teen in a small farming town in an era in which this music was the prevalent force in his (and many others') youth, he feels that this genre is written off as being entirely unimportant and sets forth to correct this erroneous assertion by the critical community at large.

Now I don't listen to a lot of Glam (or Hair) Metal, so this isn't a book that is completely in my wheelhouse from a subject matter standpoint, but Klosterman's writing is so engaging and funny that the lack of encyclopedic knowledge in the area prior to having read the book is entirely irrelevant. Moreover, I'd have to say I agree with his contention that anything that was that much a part of popular culture for more than a decade cannot be written off as having been without merit because its message (sex, drugs, and booze) was generally superficial.

This isn't simply a look at metal's overlooked cultural impact on the masses, though. Fargo Rock City is an insanely endearing look at how this music affected the writer as a youth, and it is loaded with autobiographical content that hits closer to home than I might like.

Overall, there is not a single lull in the book, and not knowing the frontman of Dokken by name is not going to take away from the fun of reading this book.

But don't take my word for it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Drafts and Stuff

Before I dive into the Chiefs draft, I'd like to mention how terrible the Mavericks looked last night. The Mavs are a team I like quite a bit. I wouldn't call myself a die-hard Dallas fan, but in a sport that is almost entirely star-driven at this point theirs is a team that I've grown to like over the years. Maybe it was Shawn Bradley (the best player in the NBA) that did it. Maybe (read: Probably) it wasn't.

Mark Cuban has become every fans wish to be the owner of their favorite team. He lavishes his teams with the best of amenities. He sits courtside with the team. He bought the team because he was a fan of them (and had a shit-ton of money), which is obviously every other fan's dream. Mostly, he's assembled a crew of likable guys (Antoine Walker notwithstanding), and they've become a perennially competitive team. But watching them this year, especially after the Jason Kidd trade has made one thing evident: This team needs to be blown up. Maybe if these Mavericks were in the East, they'd have a shot, but I don't think so. When the Kidd trade happened, I didn't think it was the wisest move--as I personally think Devin Harris is going to be a pretty damn good player--but I certainly didn't think it was going to be this ineffective. They're aimless and lackadaisical--and I don't think it has to do with the pot. They just aren't built to win a championship.

That said, I'm moving on to the Chiefs' draft...


You know when you are sure you're going to get fired? Everyone who makes decisions at your job is leering at you, and you feel certain the axe is going to fall? Then they give you a raise or do something nice, and you're wondering what the fuck is going on?

Well, that's how the Chiefs draft was to me.

Anyone who ever reads this knows my confidence in Carl Peterson is nonexistent at this point. When he hired Vermeil, I thought that they were going to the Super Bowl in three years fueled by the fact that Vermeil's teams had always gone to the Championship Game in Year Three of the Dick Vermeil plan. Well, in Year Three they looked amazing for the first nine weeks of the season, then they looked vulnerable, then they lost to the Colts (Goddamn You, Peyton Manning!!!) in a game in which the Chiefs failed to force Indy to punt once. Now the Chiefs are awful. That last flash killed any hope I had for the Chiefs succeeding in the Carl Peterson Era.

Now I sit through every game, knowing the Chiefs will find some way to lose. I watch their moves every offseason, certain that they will do nothing but make the team worse, bit by bit. I watch him trade draft picks away for a coach who was hated in New York for being unable manage a game, only to have that coach prove unable to manage a game.

Then they trade Jared Allen away (and if you go back and read any of the Chiefs posts I wrote during the last football season, you'll know how I felt about Jared Allen), for draft picks, which historically the Chiefs would have squandered.

Then this happens, and the experts are saying this, and the only team getting an A from Mel Kiper is the Chiefs.

What the fuck?

They drafted the guy I've wanted them to draft since October or so (if Jake Long wasn't available) with their highest pick. They were able to address their offensive line issues (hopefully, Branden Albert is able to learn the tackle position well, which I'm not sold on necessarily, but I've got to hope) with two possible starters being drafted. They got a steal of a corner with Brandon Flowers in the second round. They took out an insurance policy for LJ in the form of Jamaal Charles. They got a raw TE in Cottam, who has a lot of upside.

Now I'm no expert, but I'm kind of shocked that they seemed to do so well with their draft.

Can I start to hope again? Am I that abused wife in the Lifetime Movie (probably Meredith Baxter-Birney) who keeps coming back for more after her husband repeatedly beats her and then apologizes, saying he'll never do it again?

I guess so.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chiefs Draft

Surprisingly good, it seems so far. I'd write more, but me be tired and need to get up for work tomorrow. Too much work and no fun make Josh something something.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Before I retire

I'm rapidly becoming obsessed with the sitemeter on my page (and not simply because I'm a shameless narcissist). It seems as though the phrases "Jason Segel cock shot" and "soapy cock" are popular with the random ass people. Maybe if I type those words more this blog will actually take over the internet, which was always the intent.

This does bring me to two separate conversations that I had today about the re-emergence of the phallus as the centerpiece of American cinema. One conversation centered on the desensitization of the American public when the penis is used as a comedic device. The other was just how it seems like that's the new thing for an actor to do. Now the non-Jason Segel example given was of Emile Hirsch in last year's "Into the Wild", which I've not yet seen, to which my initial reaction was simply that I imagined that Jason Segel probably showed better than Emile Hirsch did.

I think I may have problems.

And to the person who checked in from Dunedin: How does it feel to be in the city that is the home of George Lowe, voice of TV's Space Ghost? I bet it feels pretty good. Pret-ty... pret-ty... pret-ty good.

Are these our Royals?

They've now been swept in successive series(es?) by Oakland then Cleveland. They've played poorly for two weeks now. They've squandered a 6-2 start to end up four games below .500 before they've played 25 games, closing the stretch out with a seven-game losing streak. And it's an active one.

It's not pretty.

And I don't think they're this bad, really, but I don't know that they're good either.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jared Allen... Gone.

Well, Carl Peterson's gone and done it again. Obviously, he knows what's best for the franchise as his record of playoff success in the last decade is testament to. Or as his ability to evaluate talent in the draft, never reaching and never having high-profile picks flop.

Well, in his infinite wisdom, he decided that he could strong-arm the best pass rusher--nay, the only pass rusher--that the Chiefs have had since Derrick Thomas. He chose to do this after Allen stated he would not re-sign with the team if they slapped him with the franchise tag. As a result of Jared Allen expressing his unwillingness to re-sign with the team after next season, the Chiefs (read: Carl Peterson) traded Jared Allen to the Vikings for their first round pick and their two third round picks, and that is some pretty good value, I guess.

Unfortunately, Carl Peterson is running this team. So more than likely one of the following will happen: With the Fifth Overall Pick of the Draft the Kansas City Chiefs select Matt Ryan; With the Fifth Overall Pick of the Draft the Kansas City Chiefs select Chris Long; With the Fifth Overall Pick of the Draft the Kansas City Chiefs select Ryan Clady. I'm not sold on Ryan. I will, as stated months ago on this blog, hate Chris Long. And Clady is not the fifth pick of the draft. Any of those options look terrible to me, but it sure seems like Carl Peterson will do one of those things, and when drafting Matt Ryan is the least retarded of the scenarios that will probably play out, this is looking to be another shitty Chiefs draft.

Maybe I'll be surprised. Maybe Dorsey will fall to the Chiefs, and Carl Peterson will jump on him. Maybe. I'm not holding my breath, though.

The worst part of all of this is that I really think that Jared Allen wanted to remain a Chief. That is, of course, until Carl Peterson decided he could bully Allen around. The same guy who was bullied by Larry Johnson into a ridiculous contract after setting the record for carries, and accordingly times hit, in a season the year prior. So Carl plays the bully, then trades the player he bullied (who was arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL last year) for draft picks, which in theory is a good idea, especially with the picks he got, but they'll surely be squandered as his track record points to.

And now Jared Allen is a Viking. Fuck. How many players do the Vikings have to ruin for me? Greenway? T-Rich? Now Allen? They'll probably coax Christian Okoye out of retirement, convince Joe Montana to suit up for them since T-Jack blows, and reanimate Derrick Thomas's corpse only to have him become the all-time sack leader in NFL history (cementing his Hall of Fame status, but entering in as a Viking).

I hate Carl Peterson.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!"

Upon having first heard the title track, I wasn't sure how crazy I was about it. It seemed all right. Not great. All right. Now, I have the song stuck in my head. I feel like I walk everywhere to its cadence. My feelings on the record as a whole are very similar. At this point, it's following me around, not loosening its grip on my subconscious. The pounding, primal rhythms of "Dig...", "Night of the Lotus Eaters", and "We Call Upon the Author" are particularly infectious.

Generally speaking, this album is much more a rock album than the last ten years or so of Bad Seeds records--which Cave has attributed largely to Blixa's departure, who apparently hated doing things rock 'n' roll--and seems to have pressed forward in the direction that Cave & Co. seem to have gone with the Grinderman project. That's not a bad thing by any means. This feels like a fresh new album in an already formidable catalog. There is no retreading going on here. The mainstay piano has been jettisoned in favor of the organ, and when grouped with the odd semi-industrial (not NIN industrial, but sounds-of-a-factory industrial) percussive loops, you're given some riveting music. The violin is gone, too, leaving Warren Ellis to do God knows what. While those elements are surprisingly missing, the greatness of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds looks to be ever-present.


I feel like I should say that I deleted a comment. It was just a spam comment, but I don't want to discourage any of my loyal reader(s) from commenting. You probably didn't want a DVD player from dubious origins anyway.


Well the Royals certainly seem to have come back to Earth. They're back below .500, where I'd imagine just about everyone outside of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area expected them to be. I still think they can finish close to .500, but this recent slide has been discouraging to say the least. The pitching has not looked good.


So right before I watched Peter Johansen's Vlog about his sitemeter, I decided to go out and get one. In his entry, which I watched no longer than five minutes after I installed one on this site, he talked about how some user from Bumfuck, Canada, stumbled across his site while googling "thin beard". Well, upon seeing how random people stumble across my site, my initial reaction would be to change things drastically. Among the varied searches that brought outsiders to this blog were "Jason Segel cock shot" and "cock, prick". If you were among the curious, "cock, prick" took a fella from China to my Gratuitous Soapy Cock Shots post on that fucking Village People movie.

I have, of course, decided against a change in content, as a change in content would have to spring forth as a result of a change from within. Anyone who knows me knows that won't be happening soon.


Among the trailers showing before "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" were the trailers for "Tropic Thunder", "The Foot Fist Way", "Iron Man", "Hulk", and "Pineapple Express".

First, how fucking desperate is Marvel for the Hulk franchise to work. They just made a movie, what, four years ago? They're already rebooting the series in the hopes of making an Avengers movie? Lame.

"Iron Man" does not look lame. Not at all. The Times had an extensive feature on Downey in the Life & Arts section Sunday. It can be read here.

"Tropic Thunder" is hard to not get excited about. Blackface Downey looks to be awesome, and say what you will about post-Zoolander Stiller, his directorial stuff has been pretty good.

As for "Pineapple Express", holy fuck does it look awesome.

So does "The Foot Fist Way". If for some weird reason, you've not seen the trailer, here it is (red-band, hence NSFW).


And, in other movie miscellany, I'd like to direct your attention to this "Eddie and the Cruisers"-centric portion of Tom Berenger's IMDB page. Merry Christmas, ladies and gents.


Finally, good luck tomorrow, Barack.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Man on Film: Once

Having seen this twice on video in the past month, I was actually moved to reviewing this even though it's been out for quite some time. I would usually refrain from reviewing something like this, but I think there are enough people out there who haven't seen the film even though it did win an Oscar (Best Original Song).

Directed by John Carney (the former bassist of The Frames, not the former placekicker for the Atlanta Falcons), "Once" is an endearing piece of cinéma-vérité chronicling a week in the lives of an Irish busker/vacuum cleaner repairman and a working-class Czech immigrant as they meet and record an demo. Shot with two hand-held digital cameras in and around Dublin, Carney uses the urban Irish setting as the fitting backdrop to his contemporary musical. Luckily, in this musical the music is actually produced by musicians within the context of the film sans dance numbers and fantasy sequences. And the music produced is actually good. Written by the film's stars--Glen Hansard (the frontman of The Frames and one of the stars of the outstanding Irish music film "The Commitments") and Marketa Irglova--the music is great, too. Particularly affecting is the Oscar-winner, "Falling Slowly". Performed as an impromptu duet within the context of the film, this is the point at which any doubt as to the veracity of the film washes away, leaving the viewer vulnerable to the beauty of the music.

As for its stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are amazing. Their sexually constrained interplay is engrossing when they're not performing. As for when they are performing, there is no denying the electricity they have. Hansard, for one, is amazing, as anyone who has ever seen The Frames live can attest to. And Irglova's solo on the piano in the studio is devastating.

Essentially the film's plot is but a tool to get the music out there. The collaboration, the camaraderie, and the chemistry are what propel the film, but this is not a problem. As often is the case, sometimes the simplest stories are the best ones. This is no exception.

Man on Film: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

In the latest release from the "Freaks and Geeks" sect of the Apatow clan, Jason Segel follows in Seth Rogen's footsteps and tries his hand at screenwriting. The resulting film is one which certainly measures up well to the latter's "Superbad" and assuages the fears of the reactionary Apatow fans who worried that a drop-off in quality was already underway. For the doubters, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" serves as a reminder that when "Freaks and Geeks" people are involved in the creation of Judd Apatow productions the end product will be of the highest quality.

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" follows the downtrodden protagonist, Peter, the composer for a comically horrible CSI-style show, as he tries to cope with having been dumped by the star of the show, the titular Sarah Marshall. In an effort to get over his relationship, he decides to escape to a resort in Hawai'i that she had spoken of before. When he gets there, he sees that Sarah is also there, and she is with a new man.

Any more talk of the plot would be futile. If you've seen any romantic comedies, you can tell where the film is going. The plot is not the important part of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". This is a character-driven film. From the leads to the supporting cast, the film is brimming over with great characters, like Paul Rudd's sunbaked surf instructor, Chuck, Jonah Hill's gay fanboy waiter, Matthew, or Da'Vone McDonald's sea turtle enthusiast/bartender, Dwyane. Of particular note, though, is Billy Baldwin, who channels the spirit of David Caruso to great effect in his cameo as the TV detective in Sarah Marshall's show. His one-liners are priceless, especially his play on frozen treats.

The true test of the film is whether or not the film is funny, and it is. The comedy is fresh; the jokes are funny; and the audience is given a film that is not simply stock moments with stock reactions. It is not your typical romantic comedy. It plays on awkwardness. It embraces pain. There are three full-frontal nude shots of Jason Segel, all in uncomfortable situations.

Honestly, I think this film works better than last summer's hit "Superbad". While "Superbad" was great, there seems to be a depth to this film that "Superbad" did not reach. It does explore relationships in an adult manner, showing instances in which the disintegration of the relationship is not simply one person's fault, even if that isn't the crux of the film.

And lastly, what Peter's depression culminates into is outstanding.

All in all, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is a great comedy, which is certain to have one particular line involving the letters B, L, and T repeated around the world.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Addressing your comments, and The Beginning of a Treatise on Defecation

I'll use this space to respond to some comments that have been made over the past few weeks...


First off, the De Palma post got the people riled up. Weibel asked how I felt about De Palma's relationship to the Boss. Luckily, De Palma only directed the "Dancing in the Dark" video, so I think I can justify the love of one and hatred of another.


Qualler stated that he felt that "Carrie" was good and then De Palma forgot how to make films. Well, opinions (mine, too) are like assholes. We all have them, and I want to stick it in all of them. Wait. That's not how it goes. Oh, yeah, they all stink. That's it.


Butt sex is gross.


Weibel also stated that "Gigli" wasn't that bad. I tend to agree. It's not good, don't get me wrong, but it got lambasted and written off immediately as one of the worst films ever. "Scarface" is worse.


To anonymous, who said, "You suck, do some research." Thank you. By the way, those were two independent clauses that should be separated by one of the following: ", and", ";", or ". Do".


Little brother, now that you mention it, I did trade you those Counting Crows records. I wish I could say I queerly repurchased them, but, alas, I did not. I ended up trading something to Whit for Tom Cochrane, and I really wish I still had that CD. Tom Cochrane got the Broken Social Scene seal of approval in having appeared on the Kevin Drew record, so I finally can feel vindicated in my love to Tom Cochrane. Londonbeat was gay. Roxette was/is awesome. If you take a magical journey to the land that was 1989* and give "Listen to Your Heart" a second chance, you'll find that it's fucking awesome. Fuck it. Here you go.

* Now (and I'm getting this all from wikipedia, obviously the most reliable source for information on the planet) rumor has it that Roxette broke in the U.S. because some kid from Minneapolis was studying in Sweden in the fall of 1988, when "Look Sharp!" was initially released in Roxette's homeland, Sweden. The album was getting tons of airplay there, so when the kid came back to the states and found that the stations weren't playing it, he proceeded to badger KDWB until they played "The Look". The listener response was so positive that the DJ had to put it in heavy rotation and soon made copies to distribute to other stations. We lived in Rochester, a mere 70 miles from the epicenter of the stateside explosion of Roxette, so I now feel special for having been so close to something so important.

Just to have these things on the record, I also listened to Rick Astley, Debbie Gibson, Billy Ocean, and Tiffany as an elementary schooler. In middle and high school, I actually owned CDs by Fastball, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Reel Big Fish, and many other awful bands. How I'm not gay or a townie, I'll never know. Now, I feel no shame for liking Rick Astley, Billy Ocean, or P.M. Dawn (who I didn't include because I stand by their awesomeness, and holy shit do I still wish I had those first two P.M. Dawn records), but I should mention that I owned albums by these artists. I also owned Nick Cave records in high school, so clearly a small part of me wanted to be cool. That was not the part of me that decided that buying that retarded Cherry Poppin' Daddies CD was a good idea.


Moving on.


If you missed it, Ryan said that Billy Corgan was pissed at Collective Soul for ripping a riff from Snail and using it in their only hit.


And finally, Chad alerted me to a glaring omission from the Springsteen story. High on the adrenaline from having just seen the Boss, we exited the American Airlines Center and headed towards the ramp we parked (Platinum Parking). When we parked we found the closest spot to the exit that we could, so we wouldn't be waiting in the ramp for hours to get out. Well, upon reaching the spot in which we had parked the car, we found that Chad's car was gone. We looked at each other. We were all at once puzzled, scared, and dazed.

Chad asked, "This is where we parked the car, right?" To which I replied that it was.

We stood there. Looking around helplessly. As Chad and Mark continued to stand puzzled about 15 feet from where we had pulled in hours earlier, I decided to walk down a little further, doubting my recollection of where we parked. As I neared the end of the row, a car that was the same make, model, and color as Chad's car caught my eye. Oddly, it was backed in, which I was sure we had not done, because only assholes do that, and we're not assholes. Well, we are assholes, but not that kind of asshole. We're the assholes who play the lookalike game and laugh at everyone else. We're not backing into parking spot assholes. They're a different breed.

As I rounded the car to inspect the back, the signature bumper stickers on the rear of Chad's car were there. I flagged Mark and Chad over to the car in this strange spot. We sized up the car, making sure that it hadn't been broken into and that all of our valuables were there. Realizing that there was no ticket on the windshield, we got in, completely weirded out, and left the ramp.

We figure that they had to have towed us to a different spot (even though when we got out to the ramp, there was a different car parked in the adjacent spot to where we'd initially parked), but the weirdest part of the whole thing is that they have to have towed the car, and then someway in between points A and B, they dropped the car, brought the tow truck around to the front of the car, re-picked it up, and towed it the rest of the way into the spot where I found it, leaving it in a primo position for exiting without problem. It was completely fucked up. I guess that's what you get with Platinum Parking...


Hopefully this all encourages future commenting, as I can give shout-outs and responses should your comments warrant that treatment.


Mark thanked me for mention of his lavatory exploits. Not sure how sincere he was in the thank you. He should have been. I am a big fan of defecating in public. The more pristine the locale/bathroom, the better, as far as I'm concerned. I know Mark is cut from the same cloth in that regard.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll begin to talk about my personal beliefs insofar as dropping deuces is concerned.

First off, I will feel no shame whatsoever for taking care of business, regardless of where I have to do it. There is a certain quality of facilities that I'd prefer, but as Chad and Mark can attest to, I will shit in a cold-ass bathroom in a West Texas Rest Area if I have to. They were shocked. I wasn't too crazy about it either, but it happened, and I'm a stronger person for it.

Secondly, I love to read on the can. I get my best reading done there. No interruptions. Intense focus. These are good things. When I worked in offices, I'd sneak whatever book I was reading into the restroom with me and get an extra 15 minutes before and after lunch. When I worked at Spider House, I used to take a book in with me without shame. While sitting in there, I had a scale for how long I'd take, depending on the patience of those waiting to get in for their turns. So you can imagine it, the bathroom is (was?) ultimately a single-use bathroom. There was a urinal and a toilet, but there was no stall action, so there was a lock on the door to keep out the riff-raff. Well, for the first time the door was pushed on from outside, I gave that person a pass. If I was disturbed a second time, I was going to sit there for a little while longer, enjoying my read and my private time. If there was a third attempt at entry and I hadn't done so already, the obligatory courtesy flush went out the window. I enjoyed this. A lot. Some might say I enjoyed it too much, but I disagree. Moreover, whenever I grabbed for that book, my co-workers knew exactly what was going on and smiled knowingly.

Third, I do not answer the phone while taking care of business. That would be rude. The only exception would be this: A "friend" and I have this friend who is also named Josh but was nicknamed Deuce by yours truly. In the spirit of his nickname and our general affinity for defecation, we thought it would be appropriate if we called him whenever we were dropping a deuce to tell him, "Hey man. Just droppin' a deuce and thinking about you." Unfortunately, we've yet to do that (Why? I don't know...), but if ever I feel so moved, that will be the occasion in which I talk on the phone while dropping a deuce.

More to come in the future on defecation. For now, this should sate your appetites.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two of my boys be makin' some noise

No, I know what you're thinking, and Burt Reynolds and Ben Affleck did not start a thrash metal band. Releasing this statement on his website and widely reported on here, the Boss endorsed Barack Obama. Even sweeter than that, he called out the media for their retarded coverage of this election, choosing to focus on quotes taken out of context rather than, oh, have an insightful discourse on the issues. Kudos, Bruce. Kudos.

More thoughts on Bruce...

During the encore in his concert at the American Airlines Center, he brought a group of elementary school girls, who had been cheering their asses off from the floor, up on stage to dance to "Dancing in the Dark". And dance they did. And, while I'm usually the guy who's sitting there irritated by what kids are doing, I have to admit it was cute.

The only problem here is that Bruce has now ruined concerts for these girls. Seriously. When are these girls ever going to have another concert that measures up to what they got on Sunday night? They saw the Boss. He engaged them in conversation earlier in the concert. He got them up on stage and let them dance all around him. Then he hugged them as they left the stage. And it was Bruce Fucking Springsteen. It's not like we're talking about some girls getting up on stage with Big Head Todd and the Monsters or the Gin Blossoms. They got all this at a Springsteen concert in what was likely a few of their first concert experiences. Nothing can ever measure up to that, and they couldn't possibly have an appropriate degree of appreciation for what they got, and when they hit their 20's they'll probably start to doubt their recollection as to how great that night was.

Well, if you're reading this sometime in the future little girls, you had the best night of your life on April 13, 2008. Nothing will ever compare. Not even childbirth. You peaked. But it was a helluva peak.

Man on Film: Not so Smart People and Snow Angels

So it seems as though the movie-going public is in the midst of an abysmal stretch of releases--releases more worthy of being excreted in public restrooms than being projected upon big screen. Hopefully we finally pass through these doldrums this weekend, which sees the release of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and the coming out party for Jason Segel's cock. We also get to see the eagerly anticipated "88 Minutes"... All right, maybe I jumped the gun in expressing my hope that we were in the clear.

As a result of there having been no noteworthy releases over the past few months, "Smart People" made my list of things to do this evening. Excepting a predictably likeable performance by Thomas Haden Church, there really wasn't a whole lot to like about this film. That's not to say that "Smart People" was bad, per se, but it wasn't good either. The film occupies that realm of the spectrum littered with slightly better than mediocre films. The curmudgeonly protagonist starts to move past his emotional issues and grows slightly, enough to give the viewer who doesn't really care what happens by the end of the uninteresting film that much needed hope for the future of the hero. The ne'er-do-well, somewhat dim brother and underachieving son are the two who are not completely socially retarded, and thus the only characters who could easily be happy. The precocious, Young Republican , perfect-SAT-score daughter who has taken over the role of her dead mother is deeply damaged by her exploited role as 17 year-old homemaker/surrogate wife. Introduce a love interest who challenges the protagonist (and has no chemistry with the protagonist), and anyone who has ever seen a movie knows what will happen.

The film looked all right. It wasn't visually arresting, and "Wonder Boys", for one, captures the area much more vividly, but it wasn't shot poorly. The soundtrack/score was particularly irritating, being reminiscent of just about every other film ever made about a professor where the score wasn't classical. It was the standard acoustic fingerpicking bullshit with sparing percussion here and there.

Honestly, were it not for the portions of the film in literary academia, I don't know that I'd have liked much of anything about the film. And I'm not saying the literature aspects were particularly stimulating, but I do have a soft spot for that type of thing, so I can't say I was disinterested when the classroom setting scenes came up.

As for "Snow Angels", it was much better. In fact, it's the only thing I've seen in months that was truly worth seeing. Having sat in post-Sundance limbo for over a year, it finally saw its release a couple weekends ago. It was well worth the wait.

The films consists of two storylines. One dark. One light. One exploring a poisonous end of a volatile relationship. One delving in to a blossoming teen romance.

Annie (Kate Beckinsale) and Glen (Sam Rockwell) have separated as Glen's instability that pervades his entire being makes their relationship untenable. Glen begins to come back around, having found sobriety and God. Annie would really like to distance herself from him if at all possible, and one gets the sense quickly that--while she is certainly flawed--it would be best for her and her family if she could get him to stay away.

At the other end of the spectrum is young Arthur (the great Michael Angarano), who works at the restaurant where Annie waits at and who Annie babysat for when he was a child. His burgeoning relationship with new girl/outcast Lila comes in the wake of his own parents separating, as his professor father wants to selfishly pursue a single lifestyle.

As anyone who has seen David Gordon Green's previous output ("George Washington", "All the Real Girls", and "Undertow") would know, these storylines may seem simple, but they are finely nuanced. His deft hand allows the audience a glimpse at small-town America that is seldom portrayed accurately, certainly not this side of TV's "Friday Night Light". Where other films resort to caricature and cliche, Green's "Snow Angels" shows its scabs and scars and raw nerves, allowing the viewer's gamut of emotions to run from satisfaction to disappointment and from grief to elation. And while it would be easy to say that all of the troubles with the adult relationships featured in the film are just what will come of the innocent, youthful love between Arthur and Lila, it seems that there is always at least a glimmer of hope in Green's films, and that Arthur and Lila's love serves as a beacon of hope in this glacial adult world.

To write on the film without mention of Sam Rockwell's turn as Glen would be a gross injustice. Glen's transference of power over his actions to his God is startling, and his volatility keeps you on edge throughout the film. Yet, in spite of his myriad shortcomings and faults, he is ultimately pitiable. There's an innate sympathy the must be felt for him, tearing the viewer between the two sides of the coin with this likable foil.

Additionally, as one might expect from an approved disciple of Terrence Malick, the film is breathtaking, capturing the wintry Pennsylvanian landscapes with a hushed brilliance owing much to Green's mentor.

In less able hands, this film would have been a deeply depressing film, but--as Green tends to do--the film is imbued with enough heart, humor, and hope so as to leave the viewer happy upon exiting the theater, which is an epic achievement in light of the film's ending.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Mo' Nomo

I'll not even mention the issues that the Royals have in their rotation past Bannister and Greinke right now, choosing instead to focus on why Hideo Nomo is with the club. He's not been particularly impressive. They have better options in AAA. I think it's time to cut him loose. I know it's early, and there is probably the thought somewhere in the front office that having Hideo Nomo may help keep the pipeline to Japanese talent open, but he's been ineffective to say the least. When he came in for Bale* in the 4th, it was a tie game with a man on. Now it's an 8-4 game, and he failed to record an out in the 5th.

*Thus far Bale seems ill-suited for the rotation. I think in their desperation for a left-handed starter, which is certainly a notion I can appreciate, but shoe-horning Bale into that spot does not seem to have worked. While they're still in a good spot, I'd love to see Hochevar get the call and see what he can do. I don't think they can continue to trot John Bale out, who keeps getting worse with every start, without suffering. Meche will likely come around, and Tomko can be serviceable, but Bale is not working.

Make it 9-4 with 2 outs in the 5th. It just doesn't look like Nomo can cut it anymore. I like the guy all right, but he does not belong on this team if he can't get anyone out.

I'm going to take a shower now and hope that this 10-4 game (yes, it's now 10-4 after a grounder squeaked under Grudzielanek's glove with a man on third) has turned for the better.


If I were to start this tale at the beginning of the day, this would be a long entry. One far too long for my energy level at this moment, so I'll save Sunday morning for another time...

After getting off work at 10:15 am when my roommate/relief got there, I called Chad to tell him I was off, grabbed coffees at Little City, changed, and waited for Mark to be somewhat ready. As tends to happen when a road trip of any sort is being undertaken, Mark was not ready. This being at least the third time the three of us have gone galavanting across the Great State of Texas we were more or less expecting it and were not really bothered by it, nor were we in any particular rush.

For the greater part of the ride towards Waco, we sat trying to guess what the next song would be on the "Hair Nation" (inspired largely by the fact that I'd just begun my detour from McCullough's John Adams that morning and was quickly becoming enamored with Klosterman's Fargo Rock City) and "Movin' EZ" stations on Chad's Sirius Radio, starting with Hair Nation, going to Movin' EZ, then switching back to Hair Nation when it was determined that Movin' EZ tendencies to play more Streisand and Warwick than Bread and Hall & Oates was going to make us gay. In case you were wondering, no, they did not play Minnie Riperton's "Loving You", which was quite the disappointment.

Despite Chad's primal urge to gorge himself on Flying J fare, he was more than willing to forgo a meal there in favor of buying half of Mark's $6 way in to the Dr. Pepper Museum in order to take a gander at the scariest thing ever:

Animatronic Doc Alderton, complete with moving eyes. After being scared sufficiently shitless, Mark met us back at the soda fountain, where Chad and I were trying not to be lewd, which requires herculean effort on even our best days. In no more than ten minutes, we'd shown Mark what he needed to see, grabbed Dr. Pepper soda-fountain-style, and got back on the road.

Our next stop was a brief one in Hillsboro, where we couldn't help but feel bad for the gay young Black man working the counter at Taco Bell, as Hillsboro did not strike us as a town that would be especially open to that. I made sure to be especially nice to him, as I'd imagine most people who come up to the counter at a Taco Bell in Hillsboro, Texas, just look on in shock, afraid that they're going to catch the gay. But I could be wrong. Probably not, though. At any rate, we determined that he'd more than likely end up in Austin within the year.

Back in the car (and following my realization that as a child I had really gay taste in music*, which probably means something), we resumed out retarded guessing game and put in calls to find out the following two things: 1.) Was Lou Gramm the lead singer of Night Ranger or Foreigner (the latter)? and 2.) Who was the non-Paul Carrack singer in Mike + the Mechanics** (Paul Young)? I split on those, so pride was won and then promptly lost, leaving me empty inside, right where I started...

* This was set off when I reasserted my belief that Okkervil River sounds like Counting Crows, whose CDs were in my collection back in the 1990's but were sold at least eight years ago. I then proceeded to admit that I also owned Throwing Copper (I still kind of like "Lightning Crashes" although not nearly as much as I used to and I'd love to watch the episode of Strange Luck that it was featured in). I saved face when I could truthfully say that I hated Collective Soul and that Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid was unquestionably garbage and that Billy Corgan pretty soundly burned them back when Collective Soul tried to knock the Pumpkins. Ryan, if you're reading this, and remember the details, please post the story in the comments section.

** By the way, Rutherford does appear to have co-written almost all of their songs and wrote "The Living Years" with some dork named B.A. Robertson. Both of them had recently lost their fathers.

Eventually, we rolled into the American Airlines Center Platinum Parking Ramp with an hour to spare before we were required to have gotten our wristbands for some retarded lottery that they were going to have for the floor ticket holders for the evening's festivities. Wristbands firmly sealed, we set off to the Victory Tavern and Grille, which you can most definitely avoid, mostly so that Mark could take a dump before setting foot in an arena. Absolutely retarded pricing. I, too, made use of their facilities and believe I got my $28 worth out of that place in one way, at least. Mark said that it was the most expensive shit he'd ever taken and all he got was a bowl of soup and a beer.

Upon settling our bill (and getting the $10 I was almost shorted in change), we headed over to the Floor Ticketholders Retardo-Lottery where we lost and were stuck in the second section of the floor, but it took the Keystone Kops about 45 minutes to get the second flight of floor people, so we got to wait for a year or so before we got to go in.

Once set in our spots on the floor, we waited. While we waited, we wondered to ourselves why we didn't just get assigned seat, but in retrospect we didn't really know that we'd get dicked by some nonsensical lottery system or that we would've been able to see just fine from just about all the seats in the joint. But after suffering through an insanely long sound check and a howling group of fucktards from Vidor*, the Boss finally came on stage and unfurled this set. Anyone who's seen the Boss already knows what I'm about to say, but if you haven't, here you go. He's fucking amazing. He's so high-energy. He's coming up on 60 and could run circles around my lazy ass. And I truly believe he's one of about four artists (Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan) who have been around since the 1970's or longer and are still producing relevant music.

* For the first time, I was at a concert where I was largely impressed by the fans at the show. It really seems like the only people who were a problem were 20-somethings. In fact, all of the people around me who were more middle-aged were pretty awesome. They were really into everything but didn't let their enthusiasm turn them into annoying assholes. The same cannot be said for about half of the 20-somethings around me. Coming in at the top of my shit list was a guy in an Asbury Park three-quarter sleeve shirt with two trampy East Texas girls, all of whom were extremely fucked up. Unfortunately they were not so fucked up that the tone-deaf, rhythmless choad--who I'll refer to as Wayne from here on out--forgot the lyrics to all of his songs. Nope. Wayne sang out. Loudly. And off-key. And he clapped. A lot. Out of rhythm, like the drunk-ass white guy he was. And he really loved to shove his open hand up into the air, then clench his fist meekly, then lower his hand, wait 30 seconds and then repeat the whole process again. Slowly but surely, these assholes tried to wedge themselves in ahead of me, to which I did not budge, despite the whore-y attempt by Harlot #2 at grinding against me in what I can only assume was a brilliant attempt to use her feminine wiles to gain access to the slot in front of me. And were this a person who was not incredibly irritating for so many more reasons that I don't care to elaborate on I'd have probably allowed them past, but not here.

As far as the set was concerned, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" was probably the song I'd ideally have heard first, so to have him kick off with that was pretty great. The Magic songs really fit in well with the rest of the set (especially "Devil's Arcade" and "Last to Die") and are a testament to his consistency over the years. I loved hearing all but two tracks from Born to Run, an album I used to not be too crazy about (the prevalence of the horns bothered me) but have recently come around on. "Because the Night" was amazing. Clarence Clemons' solo in "Jungleland" was completely arresting and borderline shocking, since he's coming up on 67 years old. Hell, all of "Jungleland" was arresting. You kinda just stood there in awe. "Born to Run" was great, and the Born to Run trifecta to start the encore was golden. The weirdest/best moment had to be when Bruce brought Jon Bon Jovi on stage to sing "Glory Days" with them. And the closer, "American Land" is one helluva knockout punch.

As we walked out, there was no doubt in our minds that we'd spent roughly $100 well. The show was one of the best I've ever seen, if not the best.

In what would become arguably the worst spending of money (Victory does factor into the equation), we decided to hit the Jack in the Box drive-thru, and Mark and I fell asleep, leaving poor Chad to the road and his sleep-deprived depravity. Waking up in Austin an hour-and-a-half later, Dokken was on, and I couldn't believe I'd fallen asleep for so long. After dropping Mark off, we pulled up to my house with Bon Jovi's "Runaway" rattling out of the speakers, bringing the day in which I finally saw the guy whose "Tunnel of Love" became the first tape I ever owned to an appropriate end.

I hope there are many more times.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Up since 6:00 am...

I've had a very long day which started with my best attempt at getting prettied up and ended with me regaining consciousness after a Hillsboro Jack in the Box-induced food coma. What happened between is probably worthy of three or four blog entries--at least one of which I'd love to write tonight if I weren't so goddamn tired. I can say I was witness to a New Jersey-sized team ass whoopin' of a surprising scale. Anymore would be too telling out of context. The most important post should be out there for the world to see during the day tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Things you can be expecting soon

  1. A review of the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds record, "Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!"
  2. A review of the new ('new' being a term of relativity, as it played Sundance in 2007) David Gordon Green film, "Snow Angels".
  3. A recap of my first Springsteen concert experience.
  4. Possibly a story about what I am going to do the morning before we leave for Dallas for the Springsteen show.
  5. A brief history of my bowel movements.
  6. Crying about the Royals having lost a third game.
  7. More inane observations about random-ass pop culture shit.
  8. Lamenting another shitty Chiefs draft.

I'd write one of these things now, but I just got off work and have to be back there in 10 hours, and I'd like to fit a trip to the gym in before I go to work at 12:00 noon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Royals are 6 - 2?

All right. Read that again. The Royals are 6 - 2. Go ahead, rub your eyes. Read it again. The Kansas City Royals (a Major League baseball team for those of you who weren't alive in 1985, which was the last time they made the playoffs) have won six of their first eight games. That means their record is six wins and two losses. They have played the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins (both of those series being on the road), and the New York Yankees (two games into a three-game series). At the onset of this season, most experts would have agreed that two of the three teams that the Royals have played were going to be vying for playoff spots come September.

Now I'm probably getting a little too excited about this all. I am an excitable man. The thing is, I spend most of my time as a sports fan wallowing in misery. I can't enjoy a Chiefs game. I sit there wondering how they are going to lose. And I'm probably more prone to pessimism with football than baseball, but I have never had a moment as an adult where the Royals started playing games, and I thought that maybe, just maybe this team has the depth to keep winning.

Look, I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I've been waiting for the pitching to blow up. I didn't start Greinke in my keeper league (keep in mind, I kept him from last year because I thought he'd continue on with what he finished off last season doing) this week because I was convinced the Yankees would destroy him just like they did last season. He shut them down. For eight innings. Seriously.

And their ace hasn't even been as good as he can be. Gil Meche has looked like a very average pitcher. He looked bad against the Twins. Yet we Royals fans find ourselves basking in the glow of a 6 - 2 start. Was one year all the young pups needed? Can Mark Teahen rebound like he seems to be doing? Can Bannister beat down all the BABIP-citing naysayers with seemingly nothing but his wits? Does Zack Greinke keep his head on straight all season?

I guess all of those questions will be answered with time, and as a long-time fan of teams ranging from underachieving to mediocre to fucking terrible, I have to tell myself that these Royals can't really be good.

But can they?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rediscovering the Past: Brian De Palma, in one word


That really does it.

Carrie: Does not hold up well.

Blow Out: Uninteresting, slightly masturbatory sound in film exercise.

The Untouchables: Of the films of his I've seen, this one bothers me the least, if only for the Connery Academy Award. Still fairly uneven. Once Connery is dead (and the film is 21 years old, so I can't imagine I've spoiled much there), the film loses its luster.

Casualties of War: Ugh. Setting out to make a small-scale, thoughtful war film. Does not work in his hands. Coincidentally, Michael J. Fox's worst film. Wait, MJF's worst film was a De Palma film?

Bonfire of the Vanities: Resoundingly panned. From all accounts, a poor adaptation of a well-loved book. A 5.1 on imdb, for whatever that's worth.

Raising Cain: Haven't seen it in years. Thought it was retarded when I was 15. Can't imagine my tastes have changed enough to come around on that one.

Carlito's Way: Also haven't seen it since it came out. I did not care for it. I have friends who like this film who dislike De Palma, so I can't say for sure I'd still dislike this.

Mission: Impossible: First flawed film in a series of flawed films, the second being the most entertaining.

Snake Eyes: See Mission: Impossible? Seeing this is then unnecessary, as they're the same film.

Mission to Mars: Actually saw part of this the other day. Retarded. Didn't even know it was De Palma.

Femme Fatale: There is no reason to ever see this. Trust me.

So, that was more than one word. Sorry. The first one summed it up.

Odds and Sods

Happy Birthday, Aunna. I hope you wake up without a hangover. Remind me to get "Minute by Minute" into your possession.


Open Letter to Commenters,

If you're ripping on something I say, I get the whole posting without a moniker, but, when you come with gold like:

""Nobody leaves Baby in the corner" that line would be more bad ass if Dirty Dancing were a gangster movie, and Swayze machetes Jerry Orbach to death, then has anal sex with Jenifer Grey, in a corner no less."

I'd like to be able give you mad props. That shit is gold and is exactly the sort of response that I want from my readers. Kudos, whoever you are. Kudos.


And finally, tomorrow I get re-CPRed. Watch out world because when I give CPR, your unconscious ass is getting the tongue.


Addendum at 6:45 in the morning:

Scarface--yeah, that Scarface--is one big piece of shit. Pacino is terrible (and I like 70's Pacino). Pfieffer is awful (my friend, Chad, stated the other night that he's never seen anyone be as shitty in a movie as Michelle Pfieffer was in Scarface, and that pronouncement is not far off). It's far too long. It also marks the beginning of the end for Pacino. After Scarface, he still had a nuanced performance or two--Sea of Love comes to mind, but even that allowance is drawn from a vague recollection--but his career became filled with roles in which we were treated to Al Pacino yelling the entire fucking time with little room for anything but his new, loud persona. It's really a damn shame because he's so fucking amazing in the first Godfather film, and maybe I'm drunk (check) and on crack but I don't recall him freaking out and going into some screaming tirade at all in that film. So, I guess if you're reading this Al, you're at a 10, we need you at a 2.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Dirty Dancing is on again. Apparently, the premium channels are going to play this non-stop for as long as Swayze is back in the public eye, what with his unfortunate, on-going bout with cancer. Now I could mention how lame it is that they're not playing Red Dawn or Road House around the clock, both of which are fucking badass, but I'd rather focus on something that just started to irritate me. How the hell does a movie that takes place in the 1950's have a soundtrack largely consisting of music that was recorded in the 1980's? And it's not like these songs were recorded in the 1980's to sound like they were from the 1950's. This is a film with music that is entirely out of place in the setting, marked by the climactic scene being backed by the firmly mid-80's production of "I've Had the Time of My Life". Does this bother only me?

You can't buy class (but you sure as shit can drink it)

So, I'm sitting here watching Brewster's Millions,

as any upstanding citizen would be doing on a Monday at noon, and at one point in the film he's drinking a Miller High Life that he's poured into a glass. In a recent post, I spoke of my affinity for the Champagne of Beers, and despite its bargain basement prices I do think it's a pretty solid beer. Now, that bottle of High Life in the film looks exactly the same as it does now 23 years later. There aren't many things you can say that about. And it's a classy bottle at that. I wish everything was as classy as High Life...

Speaking of class, the little engine that could, the Kansas City Royals, sit tied atop the division one week into the season with a record of 4-2. They did drop two of three in the Dome, but Tomko looked surprisingly good, and Soria struck out the side in an inning for the second time in his four outings this season. Gordon and Teahen have been encouraging so far. Perhaps it is as they go, so go the Royals. Aside from poor outings from Meche and Bale on Friday and Saturday, their pitching has looked very good. And their bullpen has been lights out, with Mahay being the only reliever (not counting Tomko in a relief appearance in the opener) to give up an earned run, and he's pitched 3 1/3 innings. Encouraging signs all around one week into the season.

As a fantasy owner, I got screwed out of two home runs this week. One in my keeper league with the Cardinals opener getting rained out and Pujols getting a home run stolen from him; the other in my Austin league with Carlos Beltran getting robbed of a home run that was called out initially and then the umpires in the infinite wisdom decided to reverse their decision even though upon showing the instant replay their initial call was correct. The Pujols homer being negated cost me a tie in the category and a 6-5-1 win for the week. Color me unhappy, but dems da breaks, I guess.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Can you feel it coming in the air tonight?

Before I start this entry, I should note that I'm having to watch the Royals game archived on* (which is awesome, by the way), but I am irritated with whoever decided to schedule this entire Royals vs. Tigers series for day games. Maybe it was because it's early in the season and nights are cold (?) in Detroit in April. At any rate, I've had to work during every single Royals game thus far, which has seen them roar into the lead in the AL Central while sweeping the pre-ordained entrants to the playoffs those Tigers of the $137 million payroll.

*(Pozterisk?) Why is it that the archived games have the long break in between halves of innings? If someone at is reading this, as I'm sure is the case, that's something that could be fixed...

Now before I get too excited about the Kansas City Royals owning the best record in all of baseball--which is totally true, I just looked it up--I should mention I do not believe that they will go 162-0. They will probably lose a game sometime soon. I'll cry a bit. And then I'll cry some more. But until then, it's now a few days into the baseball season, and the Royals are looking pretty good.

All right, on to the game. Greinke looked a little shaky in the first but that seven pitch second inning was pretty nice. Gathright's running catch on the Clete Thomas fly to the warning track in left center in the first was very nice, too.

As I'm watching the top of the 3rd, TPJ got to a 3-0 count. Do I smell a TPJ walk here? Nope. To his credit, Bonderman did throw three straight strikes...

Now, I know the Royals offense gets going as the game progresses, but so far Mark Teahen is the only Royal to reach base.

I like the comment from the booth about how Jim Leyland believes that Clete Thomas was the most talented guy in the Tigers' minor league system. I wonder if that has anything to do with how they cannibalized that system to win now. And Clete looks foolish on a swing-and-miss on a two-strike count.

Alex Gordon crushed that ball in the 4th. He hit a Bonderman change-up (that one that he's been working on in spring training for the past three years...) pitch 410 feet to the opposite field. And Bonderman has put his third straight runner on base to start the inning. Nice first-to-third for Guillen on Gload's single to right. The Royals have been working counts, getting that pitch count up in the fourth.

Keeping in the spirit of this year's Kansas City Royals, I'm living the High Life right now in the fabled 32 ounce tall boy fashion**.

**(Double Pozterisk?) On a much mentioned road trip with two of my bros, Chad and Mark, we made a discovery of Columbian proportions. Sure, someone had more than likely already been there, and we probably didn't find what we had set out to find, but it was a happy accident without question. At a convenience store in rural West Texas--either Marfa or Alpine--we discovered that Miller High Life came not only in those classy 12 ounce glass bottles, befitting the Champagne of Beers, and those golden 12, 16, and 24 ounce cans, and those large bottles (32 ounces, I think), but it also came in these gargantuan 32 ounce cans. These are not your parents cans. They are quite possibly wider than the Fosters tall boy cans. They are certainly as tall as any 24 ounce tall boy you'll ever see. They are really quite impressive. Almost as impressive as this new Royals squad.

Now Greinke seems to be getting into a little bit of trouble in the fifth. He mishandled a grounder and ended up with Inge and Clete on first and second. He fell behind 3-0 to Polanco. He got out of the inning unscathed, but a bit of a scare there.

Man, Teahen really turned on that pitch fast. It got out in a hurry. Here's to hoping he can build on that and not get stuck with another single-digit home run season. And yes, I took a sip of the High Life there.

Greinke worked around that Magglio double off the wall in deep, deep center with aplomb. Two shallow pop flies, one of which elicited an expletive from close friend of Ugueth Urbina, Ivan Rodriguez, and a routine grounder to Gordon later, and he's out of the inning.

Why does anyone try to run on the arms of Guillen and Teahen? Sheffield looked foolish when he got thrown out trying to stretch a fly ball that dropped between a sliding Teahen and TPJ into a double. Teahen threw him out side-armed and off-balance from his knees. Embarrassing.

All right, so the Royals pitching has been very good so far. The bullpen has given up, what, one run. And while it worries me a bit that Soria has three innings pitched in three games, it does bode well for the team if they're playing close games and possessing the lead late, so I can't complain. The starters have been great so far. Bannister put the naysayers down for another start. Greinke kept the potent Tigers in check and wasn't even really lights out like he can be.

It's really hard for me to temper my excitement. Maybe it's because I know it probably won't last and when the hell else will I get to be this excited about the Royals this year, but I'm feeling like I did in the first few months of 2003.

Can someone please make sure that GMDM doesn't sign Juan Gone in an effort to put them over the top for next season?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

2008 Major League Baseball Preview

As mentioned before here is my preview with predictions for this season, which is now upon us...

AL East
  1. Boston Red Sox - They're balanced. Their starting pitching should be strong throughout the season, with Josh Beckett factoring into the Cy Young race, and their bullpen will once again be a key advantage for them. While they will surely see a drop-off in production from Mike Lowell and a continuation of the slow degradation of Manny Ramirez's prowess at the plate, those two things should be offset by a full season of Jacoby Ellsbury with the club along with improvements from Pedroia and Youkilis.
  2. New York Yankees - Heading back in the right direction with a renewed interest in actually developing talent from within the organization rather than simply going out and buying it, the Yankees are another year away from being able to take the AL East crown back from Boston. Kennedy and Hughes will both be cutting their teeth at the Major League level this year and, as such, will go through some rough stretches. Those two, along with Joba Chamberlain, Robinson Cano, and Melky Cabrera will usher in a new era for the Yankees over the next few years, one in which the Yankees actually return to the glory they had in the late 1990's. This is not the year for them, though, and the aging and increasingly ineffective Mussina, Damon, and Giambi will prove to be even more of an albatross to the team than Jeter's defense.
  3. Toronto Blue Jays - Their offense is not particularly impressive, but their starting pitching and their deep bullpen will carry them past Tampa in the standings. Barely. Halladay rebounds, Burnett makes 30 starts, and B.J. Ryan gives them a return on their investment. Dustin McGowan surprises all and wins 16, while striking out 190 with a respectable 3.40 ERA, which garners him a few votes on Cy Young ballots. Vernon Wells recovers some but not enough to get Jays' fans off his back regarding the huge contract he's hung around their neck.
  4. Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays - Kazmir, Shields, and Garza should prove to be a formidible three, but the back end of their rotation is questionable at best, and their bullpen will experience some shaky stretches as the recently un-retired Percival visits the DL for an extended stint this season. Their offense shows drastic signs of improvement, especially starting in late May, when the Willy Aybar experiment is abandoned for the future in the form of Evan Longoria.
  5. Baltimore Orioles - Bringing up the rear (and not letting anyone else get anywhere close to them), the Orioles finish with the worst record in the American League. They are abysmal in every facet of the game, especially after they trade Brian Roberts to the Cubs in early May. Adam Jones and Markakis give the fans a shred of hope for the future, but there seems to be very little to get excited about in Baltimore since the Ravens are not particularly good and The Wire is done.
AL Central
  1. Cleveland Indians - Travis Hafner doesn't return to the 2006 level of production he spoiled Cleveland with, but he does right the ship a bit. The starting pitching after Sabathia and Carmona is adequate, but their bullpen carries them with Rafael Perez breaking out in a big way, relishing the set-up role after Betancourt is promoted to closer in the wake of a Joe Borowski injury. The offense picks up where it left off last year, and the Indians win the division by four games.
  2. Detroit Tigers - Having decided they would forgo trying to build from within, they sold their souls to become a smaller version of the Yankees, buying talent in the hopes of buying a championship. Renteria's shrinking range causes problems for an already problem-riddled pitching staff, with Willis failing to adjust to the AL, and Rogers spending nearly two months on the DL. Bonderman continues to be inadequate, as does their suspect bullpen.
  3. Kansas City Royals - I've already previewed them in detail here.
  4. Minnesota Twins - Their stay near the cellar is not a long one, but this season is a rough one for Twins fans as their young pitching staff experiences many ups and downs. Delmon Young plays well but does not save the franchise as some had hoped. Carlos Gomez steals 57 and shows blazing speed but at times struggles in centerfield, costing the Twins more than a couple games with mistakes in the outfield. Joe Mauer's health continues to be a problem.
  5. Chicago White Sox - While Orlando Cabrera proves to be an upgrade over Juan Uribe, the cost (a league-average innings eater in the form of Jon Garland) is greater than the gain. As was shown last season, they are a team that is getting older, and they have yet to address the issue in a prudent manner. As such, they continue to struggle, lacking any reliable starting pitching past Javier Vazquez or a bullpen that can get them to the 9th consistently.
AL West
  1. Seattle Mariners - The tandem of Cy Young Award Winner Erik Bedard and Felix Hernandez dominate, while their remaining starters prove to be effective enough to hold off the Angels. Midseason call-ups Brandon Morrow and Wladimir Balentien prove to be integral to the Mariners winning the West. Richie Sexson manages to get his average over .240, and Adrian Beltre has his best season as a Mariner.
  2. California Angels - Health issues with their starting pitchers cause the Angels to rely too heavily on unreliable young starters Joe Saunders and Ervin "Johan" Santana. Their inability to make room on their roster for Brandon Wood continues to frustrate their fans, and when he is packaged with Mathis/Kotchman to bolster their pitching staff and perhaps enhance first base, his bat is lost forever. Their lack of depth in the bullpen with Scot Shields spending a few spans on the DL proves too costly and loses them the division.
  3. Oakland Athletics - Sure, Billy Beane sold off much of their talent to build for the future, but they still aren't as bad as the Rangers. Their pitching staff is by no means great, but Harden, Blanton, Street, and Foulke would each be the best pitcher in a Rangers uniform. Harden remains relatively healthy, making 26 effective starts. Their bullpen is a strength for them, and their young offense scores enough to keep them in most games. By the end of the season, the squad begins to gel and they play spoiler to the Tigers and Angels in September, while giving Seattle a scare in the penultimate weekend of the season before giving it away the next weekend.
  4. Texas Rangers - Their pitching is awful. Their starters can't bring enough leads to the almost passable bullpen, and their offense--although more potent than most had imagined behind the still surprising Josh Hamilton--is substandard in the competitive AL. Only the Orioles have a worse record in the American League.
NL East
  1. New York Mets - While they are not the team everyone predicted them to be with Santana and Martinez (who makes a mere 18 starts), they are still the class of the NL East in the regular season. If by nothing else than a by-product of pitching in the biggest market in the country, Santana wins the Cy Young with a season that is only arguably better than Jake Peavy's. Jose Reyes continues to swing for the fences while neglecting just getting on base. He leads the NL in steals but frustrates SABRmetricians everywhere. Injuries keep the race in the East close, but they manage to close it out with a week to spare. They do not enter the playoffs healthy, though.
  2. Atlanta Braves - Francoeur's new strength and a full season with Mark Teixeira have the offense clicking all season long. Yunel Escobar proves to be as effective a table-setter as Edgar Renteria was with more speed, and Jair Jurrjens gives Bobby Cox a legitimate third-starter. Glavine remains a viable fourth starter. Hampton makes 14 starts, which is 14 more than he made last year or the year before. While their middle relief makes for a little more excitement than anyone bargained for, Rafael Soriano makes due until Mike Gonzalez returns, giving him a set-up man worthy of the effort he'd put out up to that point. McCann regains some of his 2006 form and gives them 25 home runs. Chipper is healthy enough to finish third in the MVP voting.
  3. Philadelphia Phillies - They miss out on the Wild Card despite a weak September schedule when they're not playing the Braves, who finally thwart them in the final week of the season. Their inconsistent 3-5 starters and the bullpen's tendency to implode costs them when it becomes clear that no matter how good the left side of your infield is defensively, they cannot stop balls from travelling over the fence. Chase Utley proves that he is the true standout on the team, as Rollins comes back down to earth and Howard continues to show that the average he displayed in 2006 was an aberration.
  4. Washington Nationals - While finishing well out of the hunt, the enthusiasm surround the new ballpark coupled with the fact that the Marlins are also in this division allow the Nationals to finish in fourth place in the NL East. Their absolute lack of starting pitching is cumbersome, but their bullpen is a true strength. Their young outfield proves to be quite good, and Zimmerman gives Craig T. Nelson and the rest of the District hope for the future of the franchise. While they may not be as talented as the Marlins, they pass them in the standings with smoke and mirrors.
  5. Florida Marlins - Their stable of young, injury-prone pitchers like Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, and Anibal Sanchez simply cannot stay healthy enough to vault the Marlins out of the cellar. Despite their microscopic payroll and their lack of an imposing power hitter, their offense does score runs behind a well-balanced attack led by Hanley Ramirez (who garners enough votes for a 6th place finish in the MVP voting even on as abysmal a team as the Marlins), Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, and Josh Willingham, all of whom finish with more than 25 home runs.
NL Central
  1. Milwaukee Brewers - In the division that no one wants to take, the Brewers back into the playoffs. Gallardo comes on strong in June and carries the team along with Manny Parra. Sheets is healthy for most of the second half of the season and makes almost 30 starts, which is 15 more than anyone realistically expected. Gagne doesn't last long in the closer role and after being demoted is shut down for the season with a shoulder injury, but the Brewers have nothing but depth in their bullpen, which proves to save them. Much as they have done the entire season, the offense provides them with just enough to edge out the Cubs when they meet in Milwaukee in the final weekend of the season. Ryan Braun is the NL MVP.
  2. Chicago Cubs - Despite underachieving all season, the Cubs find themselves in the race for the playoffs until the final weekend, where they have the chance to catch the Brewers only to squander the opportunity. Their bullpen consistently lets them down. The starting pitching outside of Rich Hill is extremely unpredictable. Kosuke Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez are formidable all year long, but the rest of the offense struggles to score runs with any degree of consistency, despite the addition of Brian Roberts.
  3. Cincinnati Reds - Dusty gets them into third place, but not without sacrificing the future of Aaron Harang, who throws 230 innings. Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto start the season well, but begin to tire as Baker rapes their arms. Violently. He manages to squander the talent of ML-ready Jay Bruce until August, when his bat can no longer be ignored. When he gets to play, Bruce tears it up, calling into question once more Baker's ability to manage young players.
  4. St. Louis Cardinals - Much to my chagrin, Albert Pujols gets shut down in July. Colby Rasmus provides them with some considerable pop, and Ankiel manages to crush the ball when he touches it which is about one of every four at-bats. Carpenter returns and pitches well but sadly doesn't regain his Cy Young form. Troy Glaus proves to have the better season than Scott Rolen making that trade appear to work out well for the Cardinals. La Russa retires at the end of the disappointing season.
  5. Houston Astros - Their offense is markedly improved from last season, but not enough to make up for having no pitching staff to speak of. Oswalt's skills continue to deteriorate ever so slightly, as his K-rate dwindles even more. Past Oswalt, their pitchers are so bad (including Jose Valverde, whose ERA barely stays below 4.50) that their offense could score seven runs a game and not finish over .500. And they don't do that.
  6. Pittsburgh Pirates - What is there to like? McLouth improves a bit. Bay gets his form back. Gorzelanny and Snell pitch well. Their other young hurlers elicit vomitous from Pirates fans.
NL West
  1. San Diego Padres - Pitching, pitching, pitching. Peavy is outstanding and finishes a close second in the Cy Young vote. Chris Young is great. Greg Maddux wins 15. Mark Prior learns much under Maddux's wing and stays off the DL upon his return. Their offense is still anemic, especially at Petco, although Kouzmanoff finally plays up to the expectations the club had of him last season when they got him from Cleveland. The bullpen fails to be as effective as last year, but they don't kill them as often as they'd have needed to to cost the Padres the division.
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers - Matt Kemp steps up in a huge way, and their pitching keeps them just ahead of the very good Rockies and Diamondbacks. Jeff Kent continues to defy Father Time and produces especially well for a second baseman. Loney doesn't provide the power they'd like from their first baseman, but he gets on base and drives in runs. Andruw Jones is a welcome upgrade from Juan Pierre and is the only Dodger other than Kemp to hit more than 30 home runs. Their lack of power hurts them, as they don't have the pitching that their divisional foes San Diego have.
  3. Colorado Rockies - Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales provide a nice complement to Jeff Francis. Holliday finishes second in MVP voting, with the Rockies contending for the NL West and the Wild Card until the final week of the season. Holliday finishes with 42 dingers to go along with his .319 average and 148 RBIs. Atkins and Hawpe each hit 30+ homers.
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks - Dan Haren disappoints Phoenicians. His worth does not outweigh his cost, and while he is a solid #2 starter, he is not the #1b starter they had in mind. In any other season, Webb's season would be Cy Young worthy, but Santana and Peavy are otherworldly, making him an afterthought. The offense struggles to consistently score runs, having prolonged droughts from their young hitters, which their offense is too reliant upon.
  5. San Francisco Giants - Worst offense ever? Probably. Their team is awful. If it weren't for Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum pitching every few days, they probably wouldn't sell any tickets. Or at least they shouldn't. This team is horrendous.
AL Playoffs

Indians over Yankees (Wild Card)
Red Sox over Mariners

Red Sox over Indians

NL Playoffs

Braves (WC) over Padres
Mets over Brewers

Braves over Mets

World Series

Braves over Red Sox


AL MVP Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP Ryan Braun

AL Cy Young Erik Bedard
NL Cy Young Johan Santana

AL ROY Jacoby Ellsbury
NL ROY Kosuke Fukudome

*matchups corrected thanks to the watchful eye of "anonymous"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One down...

So one game's in the books, and the Royals are ahead of the Tigers and White Sox in the standings. I've been meaning to write up a full-on MLB preview (in which the pitching deficient Tigers and White Sox are taken to task), and hopefully that will still happen.

On the first game in the Royals quest to get back to respectability, the Royals came back on Verlander and crew, thanks in large part to a deep homer by George Bre--I mean, Alex Gordon. He also made a great diving catch to preserve their one-run lead in the bottom of the 11th. Tomko entered the game in the 7th and pitched an impressive inning only to give up the game-tying homer to Carlos Guillen in the 8th.

The Royals also ran the bases aggressively, and while Teahen got thrown out at the plate, I like the idea of them putting pressure on the defense to perform well. We all know how pressure on the defense played out for the Tigers two Octobers ago...

Sadly, I had to work during the day, so I could only listen to the game. Not that Denny Matthews is chopped liver or anything, but it would've been nice to see the game...
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