Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Idol Chatter

It's the top nine! Who's ready for Adam Lambert to be inexplicably lauded?!? So, with David Spade creepily sitting behind the judges, here we go:
  • Anoop Desai, singing Usher's "Caught Up": This is going to be another weak week for me, since I don't know anything about the hot iTunes songs. As far as I know, Flo Rida is just the Gators with a misplaced space. This song sounds vaguely familiar, but 'Noop didn't do himself much justice tonight. I think he's popular enough that he'll be alright, but just not that strong.
  • Megan Joy, singing "Turn Your Lights Down" by Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill: Marley and L-Boogie -- two people whose careers are dead! No, really, she kind of sounds like what it would be if Lauryn Hill were white and a porpoise attempted to cover one of her songs, but not take it all that seriously. Jokey Porpoise has the VFTW vote, but she'll be gone soon enough.
  • Danny Gokey, singing Rascal Flatts' "What Hurts the Most": Good job. I don't really know the song, even though he seems to think that everyone in the world has heard it. A fine ballad that let him do his thing. A little flat at the end, but that is the band name after all. Simon said his was so much better than 'Noop Dawg and Meg Porpoise that it was like "two snails competing with a race horse." Well, what are they competing in? If it's a "who can climb up glass" contest, I'll take the snails, thank you very much.
  • Allison Iraheta, singing No Doubt's "Don't Speak": I don't recall this being a popular download right now. But, hey, she grew up to this song. Shoot me. Great look, though. We really needed Raggedy Tina Turner. Can't wait for Raggedy Ike to show up. Stop me, folks. I tell you, she gave my ears no respect. Worst performance for her so far.
  • Scott MacIntyre, singing Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are": I totally downloaded this on my Commodore 64 back in the day. I wrote an iTunes program in Basic. Print "Buy Now". Run. If I'm making Basic jokes, you know I must be bored out of my skull. And you would be correct! I'm continuously weirded out by how much Scott looks like Christopher McDonald (Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore), which reminds me of the time we were in LA and saw the Country Bears premiere happening across the street (co-starring McDonald). My friend (you know who you are) screamed, with all the cops around, "Shooter! Shooter!" I'm amazed he wasn't arrested.
  • Matt Giraud, singing The Fray's "You Found Me": Any time I hear The Fray, I keep waiting for someone's dead fiancee to show up. McVibrato-y was not real strong with his pitch here. He's got to be in some trouble.
  • Lil Rounds, singing Celine Dion's "I Surrender": I'm totally soured on Little since she blew it last week. She should have been kicked out on the spot for murdering a song that should have been right up her alley. Pitch problems again this week; she's not quite as good as we all thought, huh? Although, I suppose if she's going for the caterwauling vote, she'll nail it down.
  • Adam Lambert, singing Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music": When this song came out, iTunes was literally Eye Tunes. A guy would sit there and blink into wax paper in order to make a song. We all hate Bizarro David Cook. Here's a cover of "Play That Funky Music"!
  • Kara mentioned that it was like "Studio 57" in the room. You remember that one, the club three doors down from Studio 54.
  • Kris Allen, singing Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine": He has grown on me like a bland fungus. You'd never call him dynamic, but he's never bad. I'm amused by the length of this list of covers of this song. Blowing into the mic aside, he was clearly the best tonight.

I'm going to say that Giraud will be leaving us.

Tell Me...

A number of musicians have birthdays on March 30, ranging from the sublime (Norah Jones) to the ridiculous (Celine Dion) to the godlike (Eric Clapton). However, none of today's birthdays should make us so happy as that of Stanley Kirk Burrell, turning forty-seven today. Here's a "treat":

Sunday, March 29, 2009


  • Dreadfully behind on TV between the tournament and a mad dash to the end of Battlestar Galactica.
  • I told you all that Memphis and Louisville were overrated. The frustrating thing is that I got three of the Final Four, with Michigan State, Connecticut, and Carolina. The only one I missed (and by such a slim margin) was Pitt, my national champion. So I'm near the top of my pools right now and will fall off precipitously next weekend.
  • I think Carolina has to be the favorite to win it all. UConn is great, but you could see the sheer talent and balance of the Tarheels in their whooping of Oklahoma today. Who's going to check Lawson?
  • Got Guitar Hero: Metallica today and my hand is a near claw. I was totally wrong on the song list. Just going by albums before the Black Album, the game includes "Battery", "Creeping Death", "Disposable Heroes", "Dyer's Eve", "Fade To Black", "Fight Fire with Fire", "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Hit The Lights", "Master of Puppets", "One", "The Shortest Straw", "The Thing That Should Not Be", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", and "Whiplash". Add to that the original versions of a ton of classic Metallica covers, like Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?" and Queen's "Stone Cold Crazy". If you're a big Metallica fan and you have/like the Guitar Hero games, this is a must get.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Classic

Seventeen years (boy, do I feel old) exactly since the night that Christian Laettner made sports history against Kentucky, we had a classic ending. It's all about the below video where Villanova basically ran the same pass-off play that made Bryce Drew famous, just setting up a drive instead of a three. Two things to notice: Reynolds locked the ball down to protect it as he cut past the two Pitt defenders and then he slides to the left as he goes up, just enough to avoid any possibility of a charge. I'm finished in all of my pools because Pitt's gone, but hats off to Reynolds and his amazing play.

And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • I sometimes have to think for a while to get a good post title, but I'm pretty happy with the ones from the last few days -- an apt line from an apt song, Metallica's "...And Justice For All".
  • Speaking of, Guitar Hero: Metallica releases on Sunday. The centerpiece song will be "Master of Puppets" and it looks to be heavy on Black Album fare.
  • I'm surprised at the margin of Louisville's win -- I thought that Arizona was a bit more talented.
  • Michigan State seems to be like Pitt in that they just make big plays when they need to. Pitt has Fields and Blair to do it, the Spartans have Lucas and Walton. Obviously, Michigan State has the much worse matchup with Louisville, but you have to think they're coached well enough to be able to keep themselves in the game.
  • Connecticut looks unstoppable, but that doesn't mean they'll win it all, since Pitt's had their number. It doesn't even mean they'll beat Missouri because of Mike Anderson's frenetic style. However, while I thought Missouri would beat Memphis because Memphis had no true point guard, UConn's AJ Price should be able to beat the press and get the Huskies into the Final Four.
  • Villanova beat Pit by ten in Philly earlier in the season, but Blair only had seven and eight. Obviously, he'll do better. Amazing how exposed Duke was in that game on Thursday. They didn't look like they even belonged in the tournament.
  • The least surprising result of the Sweet 16 round was Carolina's rout of Gonzaga. If the Zags couldn't stop one Western Kentucky guard from going off, how were they supposed to stop Wayne Ellington? Carolina and Oklahoma should be a heck of a game. How he fares against Griffin should say a lot about Hansbrough's prospects at the next level. With Lawson back though, the Tarheels are rolling.
  • Billy Gillespie's out at Kentucky. I've heard Izzo mentioned, but that's beyond ridiculous. Billy Donovan is the obvious choice, but I like Jay Wright or Mike Anderson as well.
  • The Ryan Moats story is pretty bad. I understand the cop being angry at first, but given the circumstances you have to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Escort them in. If they're lying, arrest them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

So Grim, So True, So Real -- Part II

First, the answers to the questions:
1. We found the driver to be negligent solely by the act of drinking and driving.
2. We said no. What little bit of witness accounts we got say that he wasn't driving eratically or over the speed limit. It's extremely subjective, for sure.
3. We said no for basically the same reason as number two. We know he was over the yellow line when the accident ocurred, but we decided that either he swerved to avoid the other car if the other car was coming into his lane (which is not something totally unreasonable) or he took the turn wide (dangerous but not entirely unreasonable or "grossly" negligent). Again, very subjective. This was the huge thing since it made him not guilty of manslaughter, the worst charge.
4. This was the toughest. Was the other driver partly at fault because she was drunk? Because the teenagers saw her straddling the yellow line, did the defendant swerve to avoid her and, when she swerved back into her lane, they hit (therefore both/neither at fault)? We argued this back and forth for an hour. Then, at a total impasse, we broke for lunch to step back and mull it over. In the end, we found that the defendant was at fault (and therefore guilty of two of the homicide charges, four counts total). You're not allowed to speculate, you're only allowed to go by what the evidence says. And since nobody saw the cars right before impact, the only evidence we had was that, at the exact moment of impact, the defendant's car was in the wrong lane and the other car was in the right one. It might not even have been the alcohol, he could have just taken the turn wide. Either way, the evidence was what it was.

So we had witnesses crying, we had the slick defense consultant, we had overdramatic closing statements. It was way more like TV than I ever thought it would be. I'm sure most trials are not like that. Basically, the trial is a play that the actors are putting on for fourteen people sitting in a little box. They all talk to you. They make sure you can see every picture and piece of evidence. At the end, twelve of those fourteen people go into a little room and decide how the play is going to end. It's crazy, but it's fascinating and it gave me a lot of faith in our justice system. You can see how everything is set up to ensure a fair trial and to protect the defendant as much as possible. Again, I'm sure that's not true in every case.

The most intriguing part for me was the deliberation. For two days, we had heard all of this testimony and seen all of this evidence and we weren't allowed to say one thing about it out loud. Couldn't tell friends and family, couldn't talk to the attorneys or witnesses, couldn't talk to the other jurors. Finally, they shut you into the room and everything just comes blurting out. You talk about who you liked and didn't like, which witnesses annoyed you, what testimony moved you. When you get down to business, it becomes the MBA project from hell. Everybody has done some sort of group project, but in business school you work on a lot of case studies and you approach all of them in a specific way. Twelve people working on a group project, all have to agree, you've been given some evidence but in pieces that need to be put together. My business school training definitely allowed me to take a leadership role as a consensus builder, first finding all of the common ground and putting it aside and then working on the few differences in opinion. The hell part comes from the fact that someone's life hangs in the balance and nobody is going to tell you if you got the right answer. As the verdict was read, I looked at the attorneys to see if there was any reaction as to whether they were surprised or disappointed. Nothing. So we know the defendant's family was happy that we found him not guilty of the worst charge, manslaughter, but otherwise we wait until he's sentenced and call up the judge so we can find out and get closure.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So Grim, So True, So Real

The only time other time I had been summoned for Jury Duty was when I was in college and away from home, so I didn't have to serve. I was called on Monday and, hearing stories from my friends, settled in for a boring day of reading and maybe checking Facebook a couple of times. Around an hour and a half in, I was called with around fifty other people to go to a courtroom. The judge asked a bunch of qualifying/disqualifying questions and a number of people who answered yes to those questions were called up and either seated or excused. When they got to eleven jurors and after all of the excuses were used, all of the people who had answered these questions were done. There were maybe twenty-five people left in the room for one chair and two alternate spots, and the court was ready to call up people randomly. Mine was the first name called. The trial ensued and as I recount the events in narrative fashion (leaving out any names even if they're on public record), I'll leave it at a point where the reader can decide a verdict and then tomorrow I'll finish with actual thoughts on the trial process and let you know how it was decided.


Late one night, last year, a woman was driving home from work. It was a clear night and as she drove down an unlit and winding country road, she noticed headlights coming up behind her. She preferred to drive slowly and while the car behind her may have been going the speed limit, she had a bad feeling and decided to pull over to let them pass. She pulled to the side and two cars drove past. The first was driven by two young girls, also home-bound after work.

These two girls had noticed a few miles back a large, dark-colored sedan behind them when it had either hit a bump and its lights had raised up or it had turned on its brights for a second. They thought it might have been an undercover cop, so they made sure to drive the speed limit. They drove along; the car behind them kept its distance and it gave them no reason to pay other notice. There was an upwards slope, leading to a blind curve. The girls came up and through the curve and saw another car coming towards them. The car seemed to be driving a little faster than they were and it was cutting it a bit close, straddling the yellow line. They were a little worried since there was no shoulder on this stretch of road -- to their right was an embankment covered in trees, to their left the other car's lane and then a guardrail. They swerved a little to their right to make sure they had room and they passed by the oncoming car. That's when they heard a boom.

It was so loud that they thought they may have been hit, but they quickly realized that wasn't the case. They pulled over, got out, and turned around to see the most horrific thing they had ever seen. The car behind them was mangled and spun around to face the direction from which it had been coming. The oncoming car was absolutely crushed on the driver's side of the front and had spun back, its tail end coming to rest up on the guardrail and then sliding down the rail as much as eight feet. The girls ran towards the scene. The first woman, after pulling back on the road, had also heard the crash and raced there to see if she could help. Around the same time, a police officer just happened to be driving up and, seeing the wreckage, pulled over and called the fire and rescue team.

There were screams coming from both cars. One of the teenagers ran to the car on the guardrail and found a female driver pinned by the crushed front end and not breathing well. She helped a seven-year-old girl out of the passenger's seat. The police officer came up and found that the passenger sitting to the rear of the driver's seat, a middle-aged man, was already dead, crushed. The first woman helped a seventeen-year-old boy out of the other side of the rear seat and then made her way to the other car. There, the male driver was pinned and screaming that he was going to die. The fire and rescue team arrived and was able to take the roof and doors off of each car to extract the drivers. The female driver died shortly after being taken out of the car and the male driver was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Obviously, we learned this story through the testimony of a number of witnesses, none of whom had seen what happened in the moment immediately preceding impact. Most of them cried as they testified; none affected me more than the police officer who lost it as he described the female driver, the mother of the two children and girlfriend of the deceased passenger, and how she attempted to console her children with what breath she had left. Horrible.

The male driver had his blood tested at the hospital and police forensics would later confirm that he had a .13 blood alcohol concentration. The accident reconstruction team pored over the site, taking copious pictures and marking every scratch and piece of debris on the roadway. It was determined that the impact had occurred as many as three feet on the side of the road on which the female driver rode. The two cars had hit head-on, with the point of impact being right in front of each of the drivers. The accident reconstruction specialist explained using charts, easels, pointers, and so on. To refute, the defense called their own consultant, obviously slick and trained at talking to juries. He did what he could to bring any kind of doubt as to where the cars were immediately before impact. Was the female driver on the wrong side and the male driver was swerving to avoid, when he hit her?

The final complication came in an autopsy report that was entered into evidence. The female driver had a .11 blood alcohol content. She was also driving above the legal level.

There were eleven separate charges, ranging from driving while impaired all the way up to vehicular manslaughter. In order to decide on these charges, we essentially had to answer the following questions. I've given you all of the evidence, so you decide:
  1. Was the male driver (the defendant) negligent in his driving (that is, was he acting differently than the way a reasonable person would act)?
  2. Did the alcohol have substantial impact upon the defendant's driving?
  3. Was the defendant "grossly negligent" in his driving (that is, was he acting far beyond the way a reasonable person would act)?
  4. Most importantly, was the defendant's negligence the sole cause of the accident and, subsequently, the deaths?

Leave any answers and thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Navy

Random Pop Culture:

  • Tonight was the finals of the Tournament of Champions on Jeopardy. Larissa Kelly, the greatest female Jeopardy contestant of all time (by $), absolutely looks, sounds and acts just like my wife. Never before have I cheered so much for one contestant. Throughout her time on the show, she was truly gutsy in her wagering and looked embarrassed that she kept winning all of that money. Unfortunately, in tonight's final, she missed the Final Jeopardy question and finished in 2nd place. Here's to you, Marissa-with-an-L.
  • Tonight's ESPN Streak for the Cash pick: Caps and Maple Leafs - 6 goals or less.

Random Hatred And/Or Love:

  • I think I am the only person in the world who actually WANTS to get called for jury duty. I read far too many crime novels and watch much too much legal TV shows to never sit on a trial. I've been called for jury duty only once before and barely sniffed a courtroom. I got eliminated by the defense from a credit card fraud case as soon as they realized that I was an accountant. I know Josh is probably hating the experience right now as most trials are rather mundane. However, I find it riveting and can't wait until Fairfax County pulls my name up.

Random Video:
For those of you from GW, time to reminisce about the greatest halftime show ever! Enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2009


I'm on hiatus for tonight and likely tomorrow as well, for a reason that will be explained later. Peep this in the meantime from Prime Minister Pete Nice, DJ Richie Rich, and MC Serch:

A Lovely Light

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • It's amazing that Mark and Michael didn't get eliminated on this week's The Amazing Race. The producers want all the teams to dance, that why they always make the other option something like literally finding a needle in a haystack. But the bumbling brothers chose the stupid option. I'm waiting for a leg where the detour is, "You can either sing a song in front of this crowd of natives or you must fly, under your own power, to the pit stop."
    • Finished a very good season of Big Love tonight. It tickles me that Bill's brother-in-law is played by the same guy (though much grayer) who played Professor Jeremiah Lasky on Saved by the Bell: The College Years.
    • I have jury duty tomorrow, so I'll be ducking Pauly Shore like it was 1990.
  • Dancin':
    • Per the usual, the best games were saved for last today, with Michigan State's escape (my Final Four remains intact!), Mizzou's controversial win, and Louisville's way-too-close survival of Siena. How freaking great is the online March Madness On Demand from CBS Sports? My wife watched something on TV while I had three windows with each game open on the laptop, in HD quality. So I could flip as time and situation warranted and I could always keep the audio up to the Gus Johnson one. I'm actually kind of surprised they don't charge for that.
    • Great performances today by Cole Aldrich of Kansas with a triple-double (the last one I can remember off-hand in the tourney was Dwyane Wade's against Kentucky), Levance Fields/Sam Young/DeJuan Blair of Pitt (just huge plays whenever their team needed them, highlighted by Fields' heads-up rebound/timeout off his one-and-one miss right before halftime that led to a game-tying three at the buzzer), and Jerel McNeal of Marquette.
    • Upcoming questions for each of the Sweet 16 games: I know a team can have one bad game, but how does Louisville beat a very hot Arizona if they can barely beat Siena? Can Kansas continue their Collins/Aldrich two-man game against a team as balanced as Michigan State? Can Purdue's scrappiness make up for their huge talent discrepancy with UConn? Can Mike Anderson's run-and-gun style bother a Memphis team that lacks a true point guard? Can Pitt keep coming up with huge plays to get past close games? Does Villanova's perimeter strength play right into Duke's perimeter defensive strength? Can Gonzaga learn how to play defense in time to check Ty Lawson? Can Syracuse stay hot enough from the outside to overcome Blake Griffin's domination inside?
    • Answer key: I don't know, no, not a chance, very possibly, yes, yes, no, I'd be surprised if they did.
    • I've seen a lot of commercials over the last four days of watching basketball. This is my favorite:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dancin': Day Three

The important stuff:

  • Player of the Day: (tie) Orlando Mendez-Valdez, Western Kentucky; Ty Lawson, UNC; JaJuan Johnson, Purdue. Mendez-Valdez scored 25, including seven of ten from downtown in the Hilltoppers' near upset of Gonzaga. Johnson scored 22, but more importantly had four blocks, including two on one posession when Washington was down only two. The most important one of these three is Lawson, who shook off the rust and scored 21 in the second half as LSU made the game close. If Lawson continues to play like this, Carolina should have a very good shot to breeze through to Detroit.
  • Game of the Day: (tie) Texas-Duke and Western Kentucky-Gonzaga. On the first day, the best two games were the last, ditto the second day, ditto today. In my reimagined brackets, I had Texas and WKU winning. Both were very close. Texas had a three to lead that rimmed out and then failed to get a rebound, down three. Western Kentucky tied the game with six seconds left on a tip-in, but Gonzaga's Demetri Goodson took the ball the length of the floor to score with 0.9 seconds left.
  • Most Problematic Commercial Effect: I'm probably the only person who is annoyed by this, but it's the Old Spice commercial with the centaur. When the guy reaches back and puts the bottle on his back, there's a slight bit of foam around the bottle. The foam never drips or dissipates. Even more, when he puts it down, the foam appears right at the second the bottle hits his back in the shape in which is stays for the rest of the commercial.
  • Bracket Apologist: I had Clemson beating Oklahoma in my original bracket, so the only game in which my team was in today and lost was Purdue-Washington. The Huskies fell by two points. In my reimagined bracket, I lost on Texas (five points, but they had a shot to win) and Western Kentucky (two points on a near-buzzer beater). My brackets aren't great, but so far only Wake has lost for me in a game that wasn't close.
  • Re-thinking Memphis: Nope, they had a serious physical advantage over Maryland. If they continue to shoot the way they have, they'll probably get to the Final Four, but if they continue to shoot the way they have, they'll also be the best team of all time.

Dancin': Day Two

The important stuff:

  • Player of the Day: Chris Wright, Dayton. Wright had 27 and 10 as he led the Flyers to a dominant win over West Virginia (the only Big East team to lose in the first round). His scoring also included some sick dunks to keep the momentum going. Runners-up: Ronald Moore, Siena; Ben Woodside, North Dakota State.
  • Game of the Day: (tie) Wisconsin-Florida State and Siena-Ohio State. There were no great games on the first day and only one (the high-flying, fast-paced Tennessee-Oklahoma St) through the first three sets of games on Friday. Then all hell broke loose with Cleveland State's dismantling of former #1 team (and my Elite Eight team) Wake Forest and these two dandies. Siena battled back from a defecit to send the game to overtime. The aforementioned Ronald Moore nailed a three to send the game to double overtime, then nailed another (his only two threes of the game) with seconds left to win the game. In the other, Florida State held a twelve-point halftime lead until Wisconsin turned up the defensive pressure and started nailing threes. They sent the game into overtime and won it there, again in the last seconds, with a big three-pointer and then a big three-point play.
  • Team That Most Surprised Me: Cleveland State. It's one thing for a 13-seed to beat an ACC team. It's another when that team jumps out 29-12 and never looks back.
  • Team I Think Can Surprise on Sunday: Oklahoma State. They looked high-powered (if sloppy defensively), while Pittsburgh had a much tougher game then expected with 16-seeded East Tennessee State.
  • My Record in the First Round: A sorry 23-9. As for as double-digit seeds, I hit on Western Kentucky and Maryland, while barely missing out on Utah State and VCU.
  • My New Sweet 16: Since CBS has a round-by-round picks challenge, I'll give my Sweet 16, based on the teams there. Going out on a limb, a little, I'd say: Louisville, Cleveland State, Kansas, Michigan State, Connecticut, Washington, Missouri, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Xavier, Villanova, Texas, Carolina, Western Kentucky, Syracuse, and Oklahoma.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dancin': Day One

The important stuff:
  • Player of the Day: Quincy Pondexter, Washington. It would be easy to go with Blake Griffin, but he was playing a bunch of chumps. Mississippi State won the SEC and they were a trendy upset pick. UW ran them right off the floor and, while guard Isaiah Thomas and center John Brockman were also dominant, Pondexter scored 15 in the first half and the Huskies basically coasted from there.
  • Game of the Day: (tie) VCU-UCLA and Michigan-Clemson. They accounted for two of my three losses (Butler-LSU, another close one, was the other). Clemson was down big and came back to have a three at the buzzer to tie, which fell very short. VCU came from down double digits as well and Eric Maynor had a shot to win at the end, but he was defended well. No buzzer beaters today, but some solid games. A lot of the joy was in the low seeds that gave the big teams a run for their money, most notably American and Cal State-Northridge.
  • Ass of the Day: Brandon Lang, who made four predictions on the Junkies this morning. One, that Mississippi State would win outright (as mentioned before, it wasn't close). Two, that Northern Iowa would win outright (they didn't, though they made it sort of close at the end). Three, that Memphis would easily cover (they didn't and were trailing with five minutes to go). Four, that Gonzaga would easily cover (nope).
  • Team That Most Surprised Me: Maryland. They dominated their game with Cal.
  • Team I Think Can Surprise on Saturday: Texas. Duke may have some serious issues with the Longhorns' size.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tonight, We Shake Our Heads In Disappointment. Tomorrow, We Dance.

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Thanks to Angie for her comments on Idol, so I know I'm not alone in some of my thoughts. Funny that the news story comes out today that someone leaked that the show was rigged to have a top four of Danny, Adam, Lil, and Alexis, and a finals of Danny and Alexis. Guess that wasn't the case. But, ugh. I know she wasn't great last night, but the show is much weaker for not having Alexis on it anymore.
    • No Lost comments tonight, because there's not much to say. Enjoying it, but the only mystery was the same one: Why didn't Sun, much less Frank and Ben, jump back in time? Wasn't the "shock" ending the most predictable one ever?
  • Dancin':
    • The tournament starts tomorrow and I'll be out all day watching it. I don't know the schedule by heart, but I'm fairly certain that the UCLA-VCU and Cal-MD games are going on at the same time, (UCLA-VCU is much later) which should cause quite a stir here in the DC area. Here are some notes:
    • Game I'm Most Excited About: UCLA-VCU. I have the Rams losing to Villanova in the second round, but I think they're capable of going on quite a run. It all starts tomorrow when we see if the Maynor-Sanders duo is as good as I've been hyping it to be.
    • Player I'm Most Excited About: James Harden, Arizona State. Dude is so freaking smooth. He can do everything on the court and he does it with so much ease. He kind of reminds me of a James Worthy-type. Runners-up: Ty Lawson, North Carolina; DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh; Jeff Teague, Wake Forest.
    • Lesser Known Player I'm Excited About: Shelvin Mack, Butler. I have an unhealthy fascination with Mack's jumper, which is the smoothest I can remember seeing in a long time. Doesn't mean he has a better one than Curry, he just has a beautiful release. Runners-up: Kenny Hansbrouck, Siena; Ben Woodside, North Dakota State.
    • Team That Drives Me The Craziest: I'm talking about the team about which I have no idea how to pick. It's Duke. They're not big enough and they have so little talent outside of Henderson and Singler. The only problem is that there are no threats on their side of the bracket. Villanova is good, but their three-guard offense plays right into the hands of Duke's strong perimeter defense. Runner-up: Connecticut.
    • My Cinderella: Clemson. I didn't pick any double-digit seeds into the Sweet 16, which will happen. I was tempted on VCU and I think Western Kentucky may have a shot, given Gonzaga's recent history. So, I went with my 7-seed that I took to the Elite 8. The Tigers could totally lose to Michigan in the first round, but they have a lot of talent and they have enough offensive balance to take out Oklahoma, who lost approximately a million games down the stretch.
    • My Non-1-Seed Final Four If I Were Crazy Enough To Pick Them: Wake Forest, Missouri, Florida State, and Gonzaga. But I'm not crazy enough to pick them.
    • My Final Four: Michigan State, Connecticut (I hate every team in the West regional, so I'm going with the 1-seed), Pittsburgh, and UNC. It's a shame that Pitt and Carolina have to play in the national semifinal, if they make it that far, but it could set up a nice rematch between Pitt and UConn.
    • My National Champion: Pittsburgh. On paper -- and they don't play the games on paper -- they are the best. They have all the talent of Carolina with infinitely more toughness and defensive ability.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Idol Chatter

I gave you Morehead St. and they won tonight in a blowout for the right to face Louisville, to whom they lost 79-41 back in November. Now, it's time for- Ladies and gentlemen, here are your judges! Shut up, lame announcer guy! It's time for country week! How excited am I? Let's bring in the folksy Randy Travis, work up some contrived March Madness theme, and get going:
  • Michael Sarver, singing Garth Brooks' "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)": I'm biased against this music, but this was a damn mess. If I wanted to hear someone sing unintelligibly and out of breath, I'd go to a Britney concert and sabotage the tape machine. I'll call him the Big Ten because he seems on paper that he'd do great this week, but he choked.
  • Allison Iraheta, singing Patty Loveless' "Blame It On Your Heart": She's so polished for her age that I'm starting to think she's a ringer. The girl can sing. She's Syracuse -- I don't particularly like her and she doesn't seem like she should be as good as she is, but she finds a way to rock the place.
  • Kris Allen, singing Garth Brooks' "To Make You Feel My Love": I bet you didn't know this was originally a Dylan song. He didn't make it sound like it, huh? He has the amazing superpower to take any style of music and make it sound like sugary pop. That's not necessarily bad for this show, just makes me want to stay away from any album he ever puts out. We'll go with Butler -- they're a cute little mid-major team that doesn't really threaten for the title and, with their defense, drags every game they play into the same slow-down style.
  • Lil Rounds, singing Martina McBride's "Independence Day": You can tell she was really out of her comfort zone, but her voice was good enough to pull her through. Definitely the first cracks in her armor, though. She's from Memphis so I'll give her Memphis -- she's blowing opponents away and people love her, but you can see that given the right style of play (ahem, Missouri), she could have a surprising meltdown down the road.
  • Adam Lambert, singing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire": When I saw that he would sing this song, I curled into the fetal position. I don't know if anyone has ever preened more on national television than this dummy. I hate him, hate him, hate him. Duke. He sucks but everyone thinks he's so good and he may go farther than I think he should.
  • Scott MacIntyre, singing Martina McBride's "Wild Angels": He makes every song sound like Bruce Hornsby is singing it slightly off-key. Does anyone else think that, with the curly hair, he sort of has a William Katt feel to him? He's not the Greatest American Idol. I think he's Arizona -- I'm not sure he particularly belonged in the field, but he has some flashes of talent here or there and everyone keeps picking him for some unknown reason.
  • Alexis Grace, singing Dolly Parton's "Jolene": She's become one of my favorites and, while not perfect, she's just humming right along with relative ease. I think she's destined to glide right into the late stages. She's Carolina. Sorry, 'Noop, you're just not good enough to get it.
  • Danny Gokey, singing Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel": Praise music is his wheelhouse. He's got it all: likability, soul, one of the more unique voices in the competition. But you wonder if it's too much and people will sour on him like they did with Melinda Doolittle. He may be too good to be true in the end. That screams Connecticut.
  • Anoop Desai, singing Brenda Lee's "Always on My Mind": While he hangs out in back with Taub and Thirteen, I'll say that he did a good job of going in a different enough route from the famous Willie Nelson version. Wake Forest looks like a super-talented team but sometimes doesn't play that way. He's exactly the opposite. He really is a lot better than you think he should be. I'm a big fan. We'll go with Villanova, who has no inside presence to speak of but guards that are good enough to shock you.
  • Megan Joy (she dropped her ex-husband's name), singing Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight": I 80% love the tone in her voice. It's so different, but she can't always keep it up on every note. She may get credit for her looks, but she has some fundamental problems that will only get more obvious the farther she goes. Ladies and gentlemen, your Oklahoma Sooners!
  • Matt Giraud, singing Carrie Underwood's "So Small": Not bad. He's definitely overcome his problems in the semifinals. He has real talent and he's sneaking under the radar. Do I think he'll win? No. But people have been sleeping on him. That would be Louisville.

Notice how I didn't label anyone Pittsburgh? Just pointing it out. Anyways, I think Michael Sarver was the worst (although, hearing the highlights at the end, I forgot how much I hated Adam Lambert's), so I'll pick him to go, but it could just as easily be Megan.

Fight 'Em 'Till We Can't

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Filler episode of 24, more or less. Still shaping up to be one of the stronger seasons, especially after the last one.
    • Sort of disappointed in this week's Amazing Race. There's drama in one of the best teams coming in last, only to find out that it's a non-elimination leg. This week, it was the worst team who did it, so I shrug and say, "Eh, they'll be out next week anyway."
    • Through two seasons (out of four total) of Battlestar Galactica. Intense. Crazy how they totally changed the whole thing with about ten minutes to go in the second season finale.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • I know too many adults who act like they're in middle school for my comfort. What the hell?
  • Dancin':
    • When I look for a team to go deep, I look for a team that has a point guard who can control tempo and distribute the ball, at least one big man who can get dirty down low, and one other player who can get buckets as needed. Basically a complete team -- it's not rocket science. 2003's Syracuse team had McNamara, Warrick, and Melo. The great Florida teams had Green, Noah/Horford, and Brewer. Last year, Kansas had Chalmers, Arthur, and Rush. Again, not rocket science. So who has that kind of game this year?
    • The obvious choice is Pittsburgh, with Levance Fields, Sam Young, and DeJuan Blair. They have experience, all three can score, and Fields averaged over seven assists.
    • Carolina is pretty obvious as well, with the great (and hopefully healthy) Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, and Wayne Ellington.
    • Michigan State has Kalin Lucas, Goran Suton, and Raymar Morgan (if he's healthy).
    • Not coincidentally, these are three of my favorite teams in the tournament. Among the other teams that I think fit this bill are Washington, Florida State, Gonzaga, and Clemson.
    • More in-depth previews coming, but I'll call Morehead State in the play-in game tomorrow night. Their game with Austin Peay a week ago Saturday was the best game of the week that didn't involve six overtimes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dancin': First Thoughts

While pondering JT's tooth loss on Survivor (catching up on a week of show's lost to basketball) and how I'd console any St. Mary's fans I knew if I knew any, here are first thoughts on the tourney:
  • I watched ESPN's special and everyone adored Louisville, Syracuse, and Memphis. You know what that means. Louisville, Syracuse, and Memphis are probably all really overrated. We know what's up with the pundits.
  • I loved VCU after their dismantling of Mason and that hasn't changed a bit. An Eric Maynor-Darren Collison matchup should be a lot of fun, with Villanova's Scottie Reynolds waiting in the next round. There are some really great point guards around the country this year.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about Arizona State yet, but their first round matchup should be a lot of fun to watch. NBA-bound swingmen James Harden (ASU) and Dionte Christmas (Temple) are two of the most talented all-around performers in the country.
  • Carolina potentially has a good path to Detroit, but they kind of got screwed on the second round game. The 8-9 matchup is between LSU and Butler, who entered Championship Week ranked #16 and #17, respectively, in the coaches' poll.
  • If I have one beef with the tournament committee, it's them putting Pittsburgh and Carolina -- the two best teams on paper -- on the same half of the bracket. It's quite possible that the real championship game will be that national semifinal.
  • If we're talking about dancin', I know who my starting five is. Take it away, Coz!

Won't The Real Steve Perry Please Stand Up?

One of the things to do on YouTube is to do shot-by-shot remakes of other cool videos. Hence, someone did this with Journey's "Separate Ways", another (like last night) of the great music videos. Here's the original (can't find it to embed). Oh, and my prediction for the #1 seeds tomorrow is Louisville, Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Memphis.

Friday, March 13, 2009


With six of the top ten losing and UNC and Duke both barely winning their games, things are crazy. Maryland knocks off Wake to face Duke tomorrow. Syracuse wins again, but this time in only one overtime. Washington falls behind Arizona State by seventeen, comes back to lead by one, and ends up losing by ten. All of this is prelude to next Thursday, so I'm paying tribute to the best sports week of the year -- and it's been a fantastic one -- by giving you the single best video on YouTube. It's an oldie, it's a favorite, but I bet you haven't seen it in a long time. Ladies and gentlemen, Apache!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

And They Are Indisputable (Championship Week Edition)

These are the facts:
  • Greatest game I've ever seen. Hands-down. When #20 Syracuse and #4 Connecticut hooked up tonight, you knew the game would come down to the end. Both teams have a lot of talent -- 'Cuse with a great point guard and three-point bombers, UConn with the monsters in the middle. And sure enough, Eric Devendorf nailed a fall-away three at the buzzer to win a fantastic game. Except the ball left his hand about a hundredth of a second too late. The refs made the right call reversing it and the game went to overtime. Then, it went to five more overtimes. Not a typo -- Syracuse defeated UConn 127-117 in six overtimes. Six overtimes. Syracuse didn't lead at all in the first five, needing a last second three to tie it at the end of, well, one of the many overtimes. Johnny Flynn of the Orangemen played 67 minutes. In one game. And on and on -- you can check out any of the great stories anywhere. You'll also be able to check out the game on ESPN Classic soon and for a long time after that.
  • Maryland stays alive and they're helped by a bad loss by Miami, a loss by Providence, and a loss by Arizona. Wake Forest tomorrow and the Terps do not match up well against the Deacons' size. I actually wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Wake win the ACC.
  • The big guys fell hard today as Kansas lost to Baylor, Oklahoma lost a nail-biter to Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh got beat soundly by WVU, and the aforementioned UConn loss. We all know that the very top teams losing in the conference tournaments doesn't mean much. Gives them more rest and gets them that much hungrier.
  • Some of the worst officiating you'll ever see in that Oklahoma game. OSU hit free throws to go ahead by one with 2.3 seconds left. The Sooners threw the length of the floor to Blake Griffin, who caught just outside the three-point line and chucked it towards the hoop, he missed, and the Sooner who tried to tip in the rebound missed. And then the clock started. They call OU-OSU games "bedlam" and this one most definitely was. The refs went to the video and made the correct call that the game should have been over, but what if the guy had hit the follow? That may have been after the clock should have expired.
  • Logged a little time with a very unimpressive Memphis win in the C-USA tournament. There aren't many bigger Memphis haters than me, even after last year. It's not like they even have Derrick Rose or CDR this year, anyway. You can't beat one of those crappy teams convincingly? Can't wait to see them play an underrated 7-seed like Texas A&M in the second round.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hint: They All Deserve It

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Finally caught up with a great House from Monday (they had strayed from the pure House-Wilson dynamic since the beginning of the season) and a pretty good 24. The moment to remember was definitely when Moss was talking to Jack and put his hand on Jack's chest. Jack just calmly looks down and then back at Moss, who looks down and pulls his hand away. Good stuff.
    • Still two weeks behind on Heroes. I'll get there.
    • Not a huge surprise with Jasmine and Jorge going home. Jasmine wasn't very good after the first week and she sort of looks like the alien from the movie Explorers. I bet you haven't heard an Explorers reference in a really long time, even though it was the first feature film for both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix. As for Jorge, I question Idol's success with the latino demographic. No numbers to back that up, just feel like the show is as white as white can be. It's the mayonnaise of reality shows (Survivor is ketchup -- the tried and true -- and The Hills is salt -- the condiment that people wouldn't consider a condiment, plus too much of it will kill you).
    • And why would Kanye be on the show? Seemed very weird to have such a huge star be on such an early episode, if any episode at all.
    • The big boy tournaments start tonight with the first ranked Big East team (Syracuse) playing and the Big 12 and Pac-10 getting underway. The Big East is always the first tournament to air entirely in HD, which makes me lament my hours of watching grainy basketball over the last few days. ACC starts tomorrow, but I actually really love the Pac-10 tournament. I think it has to do with the fact that we almost never get to see any of those teams, which is a shame; Washington is legit. Actually, one of the games through which I'm flipping right now is Stanford vs. Oregon State. Sort of weird to see Craig Robinson coaching, especially since you can see the clear resemblance between him and his sister.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Family values make for great politics, huh?
  • Random New Addiction:
    • There was an article in today's Diamondback (UMCP's paper) about fmylife.com, a site where people can post short blurbs about bad things that happened to them. Some of the blurbs are obviously fake, but most are amusing and some are downright hilarious. It's hard to stop reading them once you get started.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Idol Chatter

Now, as I deftly weave other stories into the discussion, it's finalist time! As the thirteen come out to butcher Michael Jackson songs with Adam Lambert annoying me and Alexis Grace dressing like a generic Halloween Playmate, here we go:
  • Lil Rounds, singing "The Way You Make Me Feel": The order is a bit surprising tonight, with Lil and Danny going early and Alexis getting to close it out. She's a great singer. What else do you want?
  • Scott MacIntyre, singing "Keep The Faith": I have to say that I'm unfamiliar with this song. Is it the whitest Michael Jackson song or did Scott just make it that way? The judges say "safe", "old-fashioned", and "not dynamic". Like I said, "white". I'm on record as not being a fan, but this is, after all, the season of the disabled reality show contestant.
  • Danny Gokey, singing "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)": Apparently, he lives in either the house from Caddyshack or The Meaning of Life. I really like how he started it, to make the song more his own. I think he actually moved a bit too much, which put him out of breath a bit. Sort of a mess, but his voice is still great. If he gets voted out, it would be a bigger upset than the Netherlands knocking the Dominican Republic out of the WBC tonight (the Netherlands are known for pot and the Dominican is known for over-the-counter steroids; which one do you think would help more?).
  • Michael Sarver, singing "You Are Not Alone": It's not fair to make this guy, who didn't deserve to be in the finals, sing a song like this. Horrible. The judges' praise of him was about as dead-on as the fact that Yahoo right now has, at the top of their page, a story about how Chuck Norris Facts are blowing up on the web. Timely!
  • Jasmine Murray, singing "I'll Be There": The problem is that Mariah re-recorded this in 1992 (the same year as Jasmine was born!) and that's never good. She's okay, but the hopes for her were so high back at the beginning. By the way, I feel like Paula is seriously stepping up her game as a judge this year with Kara there to threaten her.
  • Kris Allen, singing "Remember The Time": If Danny from NKOTB and David Archuleta had offspring, it would be Kris Allen. I don't really remember any of his performance, but that means it must not have been so awful, right?
  • Allison Irahita (whose father has the haircut that Jim Carrey had in Dumb and Dumber), singing "Give In To Me": She's way better as I like to think she is, but she definitely oversings a bit. I think she thinks she's a lot better than she is. Really great personality though, she makes Jason Castro look like Taylor Hicks.
  • As we go to commercial with Anoop doing an awesome Thriller dance...
  • Anoop Desai (trying to figure out why his given name is Gogol), singing "Beat It": We all love 'Noop, right? No need for any other in-depth analysis, even if the judges bash him because he's not one of the plants. So the game of the night was Cleveland State knocking off #17 Butler to win the Horizon championship. They out-Butler-ed Butler, playing tremendous defense, getting the key rebounds, and doing just enough to win. Great scene at the end with the coach standing on the sidelines, looking up, and sobbing at what his team had accomplished.
  • Jorge Nunez, singing "Never Can Say Goodbye": The best part of this is that the song hit #1 on the Billboard chart called, between 1982 and 1990, "Hot Black Singles". I think that's a website. Anyway, his performance was okay, but I feel like he needs to show more soul. That would be "soul", not "sole", lest he be jumped by this turtle.
  • Megan Corkrey, singing "Rockin;' Robin": Not only is she super hot, but her mom is hot, too. Caw! Weird song choice, but I do (caw!) like her voice. Caw caw! Vote For The Worst chose her, mostly for some (caw) reason (caw) I (caw) can't (caw) remember (caw). It bothers me that the robin outbopped the oriole too, since it'll clearly be accomplished by most of the teams in the American League. Caw caw!
  • Adam Lambert, singing "Black and White": Notice how The Darkness never covers Michael Jackson? Might be something to ponder. Oh, man, do I hate this guy. Apparently the crowd and the judges, who loved him, loves screeching. They'd have a damn aneurysm if Samuel Powers walked on stage. And what's with that uber-closeup?
  • Matt Giraud, singing "Human Nature": You knew that, with what he does for a living, he'd blow us away given a pop song and the chance to play piano. I'd compare this favorably to a David Cook-esque performance. He was more than a bit flat in the falsetto, but otherwise he made the song his own and his playing ability sets him apart. Kara so wants him.
  • Alexis Grace, singing "Dirty Diana": The girl can sing, though she should be worried that everyone voting for her will be calling the porn number at IDOLS13. I don't think she's quite good enough to be a factor at the end of the season, but she's in the top half of the contestants.

I'm going to say that Megan and Michael will be gone (because I don't want to see Anoop go).

Monday, March 9, 2009


Siena, who won a game in the NCAAs last year, is back, but forget them. Forget Chattanooga, who made the Sweet Sixteen in 1997 (leading famous alum Dennis Haskins to put a team photo on his desk on the Saved By The Bell set). #12 Gonzaga has no place in this conversation. Indeed, Cinderella entered the building tonight. VCU looks to fall into that magical twelve to thirteen range where they are more than capable of winning a game or two. As an eleven in 2007, they knocked off Duke (yay!) before losing to Pitt in overtime. The Rams are powered by the most underrated guard in the country, senior Eric Maynor, who hit the winner over Duke, and sophomore 6-10 forward Larry Sanders, who had eighteen and twenty(!) with seven blocks tonight in their win over George Mason. A great point guard and a beast in the middle, plus a couple of other guards who can shoot from long range? Purdue, Florida State, and the other potential five seeds have something to fear.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Saw Watchmen in IMAX. Amazing clarity and the movie feels so big. May have to do that more often for big movies. Anyways, the movie is amazingly true to the book and pretty good overall. It must be easier in some sense with the storyboards already done in a way, but Zak Snyder should get a lot of credit for how great his visuals are, down to the smallest detail. He took source material with a high difficulty rating because of the expectations and fan feelings. Kudos to him for being up to the task.
    • Watchmen has one of the better opening credit sequences I can remember, where Snyder uses people standing still to re-enact famous photos in history, but twisted to reflect the book's alternate universe. It gives it the feel of living dioramas, where the people are literally standing still to the point that some of them are shaking a little. What are the great opening credits in movie history? We'll have to explore that at some point in the future.
    • Weird that T.O. just totally disappeared off the face of the earth. Oh, he signed with Buffalo? Like I said...
    • Saturday Night Live this past weekend has to to be one of the worst episodes I've seen in a long time. Even Justin Timberlake popping up (is he on retainer now?) couldn't help it. From the clips I've heard, I bet it's still funnier than Jimmy Fallon.
  • It's March!:
    • The single greatest sports week of the year, Championship Week, is in full force! If you didn't have the remote going in full force this weekend, you missed:
    • The game of the weekend, by far, was the Ohio Valley Conference championship game between Morehead State and Austin Peay. A potential game-winning alley-oop with 6.7 left in regulation followed by a buzzer beater to send it to OT, a blocked shot at the end of single OT to send it to double, a freshman scoring his only two points by draining a baseline floater with 1.4 seconds left in double OT to win the game for Morehead State. This game was everything that's great about March.
    • Beyond just that, there were a lot of games on from the various conferences on MASN and CSN and CBS and ESPN, etc. Other great games include: today's Patriot League semifinal (yes, I watched the Patriot League semifinals) between Army and American that AU won on a free throw with three seconds left; today's Missouri Valley Conference championship game between Illinois St. and Northern Iowa that went to overtime (although CBS cut from the last ninety seconds, in a three-point game, to show the tip-off of Duke-Carolina); and the Colonial Athletic Association semifinal between George Mason and Towson. In fact, the story of the weekend was Towson, showing that there can be Cinderellas even in the conference tournaments. Towson, the #11 seed, beat the sixth seed and the third seed before giving second-seeded Mason everything it could handle. If you want a "what to watch" tip for tomorrow, check out the CAA title game (7PM on ESPN2) between Mason and VCU, led by Eric Maynor who was such a hero in the 2007 NCAA tourney.
    • In terms of the big boys, their tournaments get under way in the middle of the week, but there was plenty of action today with Carolina beating Duke (the talent disparity is just too big) and Michigan State continuing to look very impressive in a win over Purdue. If the #1 seeds are indeed set, then the Spartans will probably be the #2 in the bracket with Oklahoma. I wouldn't want to be the Sooners in that case. Another big dark horse is Wake Forest, who beat Clemson today. They have sick talent, great size, great shooters, and are led by all-ACC guard Jeff Teague. I'll leave you with a Teague highlight you may not have seen from Wake's game with Maryland last week. He gave Dave Neal what one might call "the Arabian goggles" (it's NSFW if you choose to look it up, I'm warning you):

Saturday, March 7, 2009

side bends or situps

Random Pop Culture:
  • How come Puerto Rican contestant Jorge Nunez is allowed to be in American Idol but Puerto Rico has their own World Baseball Classic team? Make up your mind, Puerto Rico. Either you are with us or against us.
  • While spending a few days in New York, I enjoyed listening to the following discussion on WFAN. Alex Rodriguez is now suddenly "injured" only a few days after meeting with the commissioner to talk about his use of steroids. A few callers now suspect that perhaps it is not really an injury but instead a hushed up suspension so that he has time to get clean. Conspiracy theorists unite!!!
  • Don't forget to spring back your clocks tomorrow morning.
  • Is any Hollywood personality more overpaid than Vanna White? What exactly does she do? Any blonde bimbo can walk across the stage and touch a letter. I wish Wheel of Fortune would bring back the old rules where you didn't get to keep the cash but instead had to choose from the random sponsored items. (I'll take the black and white television for $3,000, Pat.)

Random Hatred And/Or Love:
I know that millions of people read this blog on a daily basis (give or take a few). I want to call out one person who may or may not be a reader. If you drive a car with New York license plate AV360, you are officially on notice. Mr. AV360, you were driving on a highway in Manhattan on Wednesday. You see a funeral procession going by as you approach a bridge. You think to yourself that it would be fun to cut into the middle of the procession so that the procession gets broken up. Who cares that everyone has their hazards on and other lanes are moving faster. It doesn't matter that the person behind you is constantly flashing his high beams. Thank you AV360 for being Rick.

Random Music Video:
I am very excited to learn that Richard Cheese will be performing at the 930 club in DC next month. Many of you may never have heard of this guy. He doesn't have too many original songs. In fact, I believe all of his songs are covers. Richard Cheese is essentially a lounge singer. Watch his version on Jimmy Kimmel. I apologize for the grainy picture but it's classic Richard Cheese performance.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It Tastes Like Tuna

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Reading a few Watchmen reviews here or there. Very mixed, the Rotten Tomatoes rating is 65%. Read deeper, though. The people who I respect, like Roger Ebert or Harry Knowles, like it. Meanwhile, the review in this morning's Post, a negative one, is one of the most ill-conceived reviews I can remember in a long time. Basically, the knock -- and this is true of many of the bad reviews -- is that the movie is too true to the original source material. In other words, the Post reviewer hated the book so he hates the movie. Stupid. Wouldn't it make more sense to pick someone who hadn't read the book or was completely indifferent?
    • We're onto season two of Battlestar Galactica and it's really cool how they changed the opening credits to include the survivor count as of the beginning of the episode. Makes it fun to try to guess what the number will be based on what happened in the previous episode.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Today starts the single best sports week of the year. I logged a little time tonight with the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun championship as East Tennessee State knocked off Belmont to get revenge for losses in the last two conference tourneys. The championship game is tomorrow night. Three automatic bids will be won tomorrow as we start Championship Week. All the way through the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12 championships next Sunday (and the subsequent selection), we get hour after hour of great basketball as teams fight for their postseason lives and we get our first glimpses at the potential Cinderellas. The best, of course, are the small conferences where winning the tourney is the only way to get into the NCAAs.
  • Random Video of the Week:
    • Here's a great video that's being used to advertise for a big Purim Spiel next week. Not only is it a dead-on spoof of Mad Men, but the mayonnaise joke kills me because of a running argument I have with my wife over whether or not Jews eat mayo (they certainly do not).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Future's In Our Hands

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Two words: Curtis. Armstrong. Not the strongest Earl ever, but still.
    • I didn't say it last week, but the secret Survivor cross-tribal alliance dawned on me literally five seconds before they came up with it on the show. I paused it, said, "Hey, they could totally pull something over on both of their tribes," and re-started the show in time to hear Brendan and Taj say something along the lines of, "Hey, we could totally pull something over on both of our tribes." Great strategy.
    • One other Egyptian reference in Lost -- the sky god in Ancient Egypt? Horus.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Just when I had made fun of how predictable Idol is, they one-upped (one-downed?) my low expectations. First of all, they ran long so my DVR cut out during the last commercial break, meaning I had to go to Vote For The Worst, YouTube, and EW.com to figure out who was the twelth finalist. Of course, it was there that I found out that, shock of all shocks, they were going to have thirteen! So Anoop and Matt G. could both make it in! I'm sure it's not coincidental at all that the three people beside Anoop (I actually don't think Anoop is a plant, because he doesn't sound like he looks) who made it through were the three that the producers hyped up the most all along. Matt G. was the obvious choice if you knew they were going to pick four. I'm sure it's also not coincedental at all that whenever one of the eventual winners sang, Simon said that they were so-so vocally but that they were really marketable and really good, while whenever one of the others sang, Simon would say that they sounded good (which most of them did) but that they were annoying or indulgent or didn't have the "it" factor. I know that was a long sentence, but it was less tedious than this travesty of correcting the mistakes that America apparently made by not picking the producers' plants. In its unpredicability, Idol was even more predictable than ever. Well at least we're down to the finalists and we can get straight to the vote-rigging.
  • Random Music Video:
    • This song is on Guitar Hero: World Tour and I was talking with a few people who either hadn't heard it or don't remember it. With all apologies to Green Day and Rancid, is this the best punk song of the last fifteen years or so? I think yes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Finished the first seasons of both How I Met Your Mother and Battlestar Galactica. Battlestar had a serious gasp moment at the end. How many shows in recent memory can do something to legitimately induce a gasp? Lost, Sopranos, The Wire, 24. Am I missing any?
    • Idol's so freaking predictable. You knew who was going to go through by who stood up and when. And you knew who the eight wild-card contenders would be. And it should be easy enough to guess who will go through tomorrow. I'm not saying I won't watch it, but it is barely entertaining at this point.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Matt Birk in a Ravens uniform and a three-day weekend coming up with tickets to go see Watchmen. No hatred today.
  • Lost Comments/Questions Of The Week:
    • Let's take a step back and look at how far we've come this season. It's pretty amazing that if we were given an episode last year where we found out this much about Dharma, we'd be floored. Instead, I'd consider this just a nice character-driven episode that filled in a bunch of blanks but didn't give us any huge answers or bring any huge questions.
    • We saw Horace Goodspeed, who's shown up a bunch in the series before. He's obviously in a leadership position with Dharma, since Richard came to see him. Horace is the guy who brought Ben (and his father) to the island and he's also the guy who built Jacob's cabin. When Locke, after being shot by Ben, saw him in a vision, Horace said that Locke had to find him in order to find Jacob. Horace also had a nosebleed. Interesting, huh? We'll be seeing a bunch more of him. (Thanks, Lostpedia!)
    • We saw the statue to which the four-toed foot belonged. Don't really know more than that, except that it speaks to when the time jumps occurred. The well wasn't there at all, so they were way in the past. Then they jumped to where the well was there, but filled in. So I'm guessing that Dharma filled in the well because of the power they recognized at the donkey wheel. Which means that Locke fell down the well at some point before Dharma, or at least before they all ended up.
    • More Egyptian imagery -- the ankh necklace that Paul gave Amy. This on top of Hurley's drawing of the Sphinx last week and, of course, all of the hieroglyphics near the wheel, near the hole into which the smoke monster disappeared, and on the clock in the Swan after 108 minutes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Idol Chatter

The last third of the semi-finalists went tonight. I'm so excited to watch a group with such astounding talent. Here we go:
  • Von Smith, singing Marvin Gaye's "You're All I Need To Get By": I couldn't wait to hear this guy sing Marvin Gaye and it lived up to all expectations! If you ever wondered what it would be like if Opie had sung soul on an episode of Andy Griffith, now you know. He actually sounded okay, so maybe he'll have to put off that fishing trip with Pa. Spanky and Buckwheat sure are going to miss him. I'm mixing references so it's time to move on.
  • Taylor Vaifanua, singing Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You": She danced like Elaine Benes, so if that's what she was going for, she scored. Nice tone to her voice, this week is already way better than last week. I don't know what the hell Kara is saying this week. Cliches, something about shopping; maybe Paula slipped her some "tic-tacs" before the show.
  • Alex Wagner-Trugman, singing Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues": The longest song title of all time rings in the bad karaoke portion of tonight's program. His attempt at coolness came off like the time that Arvid Engen put on a leather jacket and tried to be cool.
  • Arianna Afsar, singing Abba's "The Winner Takes It All": Here's what's less pitchy than this performance. Major League Baseball. A used car salesmen. The part of flight dynamics that is neither roll nor yaw. Okay, moving on.
  • Ju'Not Joyner, singing Plain White T's' "Hey There Delilah": Bowie, represent! I think his voice was a little weak in the low register to sing something so soulfully and I feel like you need to do something upbeat in this round to get remembered. Not bad, though. Plus, they all sang this in Hollywood Week, which makes it kind of boring. His performance was totally overshadowed by Simon forgetting that someone who had just sung three songs ago was even in the competition.
  • Kristen McNamara, singing Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason": Did you know that Kristen placed sixth on a season of Nashville Star? Her voice is fine, but her timing is horrible. There was just something just slightly off the whole performance. Something too canned, but still a little frenetic in the annunciation. She grates on me. I want someone who's not so polished at this stage so we can watch them grow as an artist. She's seriously lacking in "round-the-way girl" appeal. Uncle L wouldn't approve.
  • Nathaniel Marshall, singing Meat Loaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)": First of all, don't use the word "humble" in the same sentence in which you refer to yourself in the third person. I can't say anything about the performance because I would hate myself, so we need to get to the big question. What wouldn't Meat Loaf do? Has this ever been answered?
  • Felicia Barton, singing Alicia Keys' "No One": The one voice crack aside, she blew the doors off the place. I'm inclined to root for her because she replaced the plant, Joanna Pacitti, and so it shall be. She's one of my favorites now. How the heck did the judges not put her into the top 36?!?
  • Scott MacIntyre, singing Bruce Hornsby and the Range's "Mandolin Rain": I actually don't think this guy's voice is all that good. He was very weak in Hollywood and very weak tonight. It's pretty obvious that the judges are afraid to say bad things about him. Isn't that real discrimination, instead of just the appearance of it?
  • Kendall Beard, singing Martina McBride's "This One's For The Girls": She's got a great chance to go through, right? She has the all-American look (whatever that is) and there always has to be some country singer in there. Who cares that she wasn't perfect? Dubya got voted in twice, right? I'm sure we can find the connection there somewhere.
  • Jorge Nunez, singing Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me": He's been one of the producers' favorites all along. Very good voice, definitely the best guy tonight. You figure he'll be the guy going through and the judges will have to wait until the Wild Card to throw Scott MacIntyre a pity spot.
  • Lil Rounds, singing Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You": She and Danny are the producers' favorites this season. Hands-down. Rightfully so. At least there's some real talent on the show this year.

I have Lil, Jorge, and Kendall (or maybe Felicia) going through.

The Old Snow Job

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Snow day today. So, yeah, the guy who said he was in a coma so he couldn't be the father? He was the father!
    • Let's pretend that nobody swam to the White House on 24 tonight. Instead, let's focus on ten of the awesomest seconds in 24 history. Jack gets called by the president while torturing the evil guy (who doesn't even give him fake info, so that's unrealistic, too). Jack than proceeds to taser the phone for no apparent reason!! Then, seconds later, the soldiers bust through the door to stop Jack and the first guy in kicks aside a chair that isn't even in his way. You should watch it back, if you can -- it's freaking hilarious.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • Tomorrow, the Maryland Senate is going to debate a bill that would repeal the death penalty. An e-mail from O'Malley's office today led me to send an e-mail to my state senator in support of the bill. I'm actually pro-death penalty, in theory. There are just some crimes for which someone needs to pay the ultimate price. However (and this is a huge however), you'd have to convince me that there is absolutely zero chance that someone innocent could be put to death. This is just the most basic common sense of all time to me. And since there are people on Death Row who have been found to be innocent (read Grisham's great non-fiction book, The Innocent Man), you just can't take that risk. Can not kill an innocent person. It'll happen sooner or later.
  • It's March!:
    • We're watching Cinderellas and tonight it's Creighton, out of the always-competitive Missouri Valley Conference. Twenty-five wins, including ten in a row. Their leading scorer has the awesome name of Booker Woodfox and he shoots over 50% from downtown. It's the hot mid-majors that make a splash in March and one can definitely see Creighton coming in the ten to twelve range and making a bit of a run. Meanwhile, conference tourneys get underway tomorrow in the Big South and the Ohio Valley. It's that time of year!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March On!

  • Random Pop Culture:
    • Had an occasion today to go to the movies by myself, so I took in Taken. Here's the plot: twenty minutes of boring blah blah blah, Shannon from Lost gets kidnapped in the scenes they show in the trailer, Liam Neeson spends the next hour going around Paris and obliterating fools. It's awesome. Seriously, the movie is co-written by Luc Besson (the other co-writer is the guy who wrote the Karate Kid movies) and it's very much in Besson's particular style. He writes very dark and intense action films, using better actors, such as Neeson, Jet Li, or Jason Statham, so the films come out a little more serious than your usual martial arts fare. I think I saw the first Transporter film and didn't love it, but Besson also wrote The Professional (one of Gary Oldman's best performances), Kiss of the Dragon, and the tremendously underrated Unchained. I very much enjoy his style of movie and Taken doesn't disappoint along those lines.
    • This past week's episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was so boring and indecipherable that it almost made me not want to watch the show again.
  • Random Hatred And/Or Love:
    • If tonight's snow in the DC area does end up disappointing, there will be a lot of very unhappy people. First, we didn't really get any snow this year. Second, the weather people hyped the hell out of this one. I was watching The Weather Channel for a second tonight and they were calling it the "Monday Mega-Storm" and trying to explain that even though the storm itself isn't all that large, the name is justified because it will hit the entire East Coast megalopolis.
  • It's March!:
    • Two weeks from Selection Sunday so it's time to get down to business and let's pay attention to the big boys, the four best teams in the country. Assuming you have no rooting interest in Carolina, Oklahoma, or Connecticut, you should be rooting for Pittsburgh when the tournament rolls around. They've been right on the verge of the Final Four for a while, but haven't yet made it. They have a legit shot this year though, with a lot of talent and a gritty style that's a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The Panthers are powered by the trio of senior point guard Levance Fields (the quintessential tough Brooklyn guard who averages 7.5 assists and can score when he needs to), senior swingman Sam Young (their leading scorer who can hit from anywhere), and sophomore center DeJuan Blair (at only 6-7, he reminds me a lot of Lonny Baxter in how he uses his big frame to overpower taller players, like his domination of UConn 7-3 phenom Hasheem Thabeet). They play tough defense, they can run when they need to, they can bang down low. Fun team to watch. Still on the fence? Still need one more reason? How about a Dixon who wears #3? That would be junior guard Jermaine, Juan's half-brother.