Sunday, August 01, 2010

Random Thoughts at the Deadline

Some quick thoughts coming off the heels of the trading deadline, a great comeback win and Big Papi proving that the third time truly can be a charm:


- Let the Ryan Kalish Era begin. He was raking in AAA and should play almost every day in either Left or Center. I caught the replay of the game, but going two for 4 with a GIDP that was a laser and would have been a hit if Cabrera wasn't holding the runner on is a pretty nice debut. Couldn't be more excited - really pumped to watch this kid. This also will mark the end of the Hermida era - I wish the kid luck; seems like he has the talent, just can't get it together. Theo loves those low risk, high ceiling players, which brings us to...

- The Jarrod Saltalamacchia Era. I have to say, I'm not falling off my chair in excitement as much here as for Kalish - but I understand it. I'll say this, two years ago people were calling Theo to trade Clay for Salty... thank god that didn't happen. The biggest issues right now are twofold: 1/ he is not hitting at AAA and 2/ he has an embarrassing case of the Yips... he can't throw the ball back to the mound; and it is pretty bad - but Theo thinks he can get over them. The low down on McGuinness and Mendez is they are both pretty projectionable players. Mendez is in Lowell and had a whole lot of upside - and he is the reason I don't love this move. He has a lively fastball with movement (95-99) and some nice secondary pitches that will obviously develop through the system. His best is a tight slider in the mid-to-low 80's that breaks very sharp - a great out pitch, but still needs consistency. He's only 19 - so a long road, but could turn into a nice arm as he travels down it. McGuinness is a 6'1 lefty with excellent plate discipline and by all accounts an incredible hard worker, spring coil swing, and above average defense. He hit very well at single A, was about to move up (or maybe he did recently), and from what I can tell there was some excitement in the Sox minor league circles. I think he was slugging over .500 and carrying an on-base over .400 with a bunch of homeruns. That all said, this is a huge buy low scenario around Saltalamacchia. Lots of people think the fact he can't throw the ball to the pitcher is causing a string of problems throughout the rest of his game. The Sox think that the kid has a huge ceiling and have wanted him in the past but the price was always to high - and they believe the change of scenery, and some meetings with Tewksbury may be the first step. We also sent $350k and a PTNL

- Our bullpen is not good, sitting in the basement in nearly all important statistical categories... it just has been a huge hole with the team and they looked for something to patch it up right up through the deadline. But now that the deadline has passed, it seems like the opportunity is going to be given to the kids... Bowden and Doubront. The hope is that one of them can be trusted in the 7th/8th and I think that they are going to be given the chance to succeed or fail over the coming weeks. The exciting part for me is, if one of them does relish in the role, we will have a true home grown back end. It will, hopefully, be fun to watch and with two of them there should be that healthy internal competition that can do nothing but good.

- There is just no market for Mike Lowell, zilch, nada, zip. What a weird, tough, unfortunate situation this has turned into. There were a whole bunch of moves for corner infielder/DH types as we came to the deadline - and Mike had to just sit back and watch. Cantu, Peralta, Tejada, they all found homes - but they all have so much more flexibility and in the end that is where Lowell's value gets the biggest hit. His hips and knees just don't allow him to be a viable option defensively. From the Sox perspective, not much we can do either. There is no room on the major league roster - especially with Ellsbury coming back. He will end up playing more in Pawtucket and will probably be asked to accept the role. Maybe they can move him on waivers - but any way you slice it this is a crappy situation for a class act guy that has done a lot for our club... but his time has passed.

- With 58 games left, we have 10 against the Yanks, 6 against the Rays... the rest are against teams the Red Sox should beat - and I expect them to put up a strong winning percentage in those games. So the season is really going to come down to the 16 games against our two divisional foes. A few bits of good news.
1) They also have a couple more series against each other, and someone has to win, someone has to lose.
2) The first of the 16 games starts 8/6, and the Sox will be close to healthy with Ellsbury probably back. After that, we get Pedey and I think this team is the best of the three. Especially with a healthy Beckett, Lester, Clay and Lackey - finally.

As always, if nothing else - it should be a fun ride. I can't remember the last time we were 7 back at the deadline and I felt so optimistic... such a weird year.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Play it again

Question:

What album have you listened to more than any other over the course of your life? Now you got to take into account albums from all stages that might have played in your early years... What did your folks listen to, how about your siblings? This is not about what album you listened to most while stoned at Hampshire college... throughout your entire existence.

For me it is incredibly hard to pick the first one and took some time. I instinctively was going to lead with a Stones or Beatles album, because they were played before I had control by my father, then I got into them at an early age, they were played by roommates, at parties, and I still listen to both bands often today. But that doesn't really work within the confines of this question. The fact is, the Beatles and the Stones have SO many good albums, it is impossible for me to select one over the other. I would be lying if I said I listened to Sticky Fingers or Revolver more than Some Girls or Abbey Road or Exile on Main St or the White Album - too much quantity and quality in their catalog. If it was what band - hands down these two. But I digress... After lots of internal debate, I've narrowed it down to three:


1. The Clash - London Calling: One of the few albums that I have gone through several non-stop listening periods with. Usually, I fall for an album and listen non stop for, say, a couple weeks. Then there are albums like the others on this list that are in an ongoing rotation every few weeks or months. London Calling is the only album I have rediscovered over and over again. In high school, when I was introduced to the Clash - I spent months with it and the songs on this record taught me a lot about the width and breadth of music - something that changed my perspective forever. Then, a few years later while at Fordham, and primarily because of my roommates - it came back out with full fury. Months of listening to it, non-stop. This time I had some very different interpretations of the album and the songs. If my first go around taught me a lot about musical styles and variations - this time it represented more of state of mind, it opened up some pretty different world viewpoints, and on many - let's go with - un-sober nights, it was the backdrop to some pretty aggressive discussions. This was new to me, and this album represented a catalyst of sorts. And then, recently, maybe 2 years ago when I was commuting from the city every day.... Jimmy Jazz came on shuffle all, something that was a constant occurrence (not Jimmy Jazz specifically, but Clash songs playing) - but this time I decided to shut off shuffle all and play it the whole way through... that lasted for over a week, 2+ hours of commuting each way, by myself. I hadn't really spent time with it - a prolonged time of countless relistens in nearly a decade and, once again - it felt new. And that is what is so great about music - it bites you over and over again, but leaves different teeth marks as time goes on. As we grow, as our experiences change us, music changes as well. Not the chords or lyrics, but the way we interpret them.

2. Tribe - Low End Theory: Anyone who knows me half well could have guessed this would have made the list. But the truth is, I spent a lot of time debating between this and Beats, Rhymes, and Life. At the end of the day, Low End Theory was my introduction to Tribe and that first encounter led to a life time obsession. That said, if it were not for Beats, Rhymes, and Life - this would be standing alone by itself. I guess I could say that for the Beatles and the Stones, but they made so many albums that took time away from each other. In this scenario, if Beats Rhymes Life and Low End Theory were 1 album or one of them were never produced, the other would be an easy shoe in. I honestly don't have a witty way to describe how much I listened have listened to these albums, but they were the first CD's I ever wore out from just listening. And because B,R,L wouldn't have happened without Low End Theory, and because Low End Theory popped my Tribe cherry - it edged out. And I love Midnight Marauders, People's Instinctive Travels and the Love Movement... but they never came close to these two.

3.Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: My only true post high school album to appear on the list. Discovered Wilco in 2001 while at Fordham... and they have been my favorite band since. Quick aside - by far the best thing about college is the social education, of course - but it is not the going out, building people skills, learning to socialize, figuring out how to tap a keg, etc. that I am most thankful for - it is the exposure to so many different things. That is why I am so glad I went to Fordham and Umass, Boarding school and Public school, lived in several states, etc. Each place had that many more people and cultures, with different music, movie, food tastes. I've been fortunate to experience a very wide variety as well and when I visit my hometown and catch up with high school pals that never left - the one thing that strikes me is how limited they are. And I suppose that is one way to live - I'll just say that I'd never give up a chance to be put into a new and uncomfortable environment. You can't grow and learn in a fixed routine. Anyway, Since 2001 Wilco has been my favorite band - I have seen more Wilco concerts than any other band, this record is usually sitting on the record player when I get home, it is constantly in the mix.

There are a slew of ones that come close: Pet Sounds, Paul’s Boutique 36 Chambers, Revolver, Sticky Fingers, Nirvana Unplugged, Appetite for Destruction, Illmatic, Ten, 3 Feet and Rising, shit - there is a chance I listened to Under The Table and Dreaming 200 times between 97-2001.n But these three rise above

I also like to think about what will be on the list 25 years from now? Will these three all stay on? Will I add to this or will one be replaced? I will tell you one thing, this list and these albums are the reason I constantly seek out new music... because those moments when an album really hits you and really sticks and causes you to forget that any other music exists for an extended period of time - those moments are pretty damn special.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Random Sox Thoughts...

And the Red Sox keep on winning. It really is impressive and, at this point, teetering on the edge of insanity. To come back from 8.5 games in a month is hard enough, but to keep winning at that clip with this many injuries is amazing to watch.

A couple of miscellaneous thoughts that have been kicking around the old noggin

1) Who in the hell would have predicted that heading into 4th of July weekend, the Major League 25 man roster would be littered with the likes of:
-- Gustavo Molina
-- Angel Sanchez
-- Eric Patterson
-- Darnell McDonald
-- Daniel Nava
-- and Bill Hall
That in itself is insane. But if on April 15th, I told you that was going to be true – even less people would have believed the Red Sox would have the second best record in all of baseball with 47 wins.

2) Lackey is an odd pitcher, isn’t he? And not just the double chin, unathletic build. It is the way he pitches. He doesn't dazzle, he never dominates, and he rarely leaves jaws dropped. He has a 4.46 ERA, he has only struck out 56 batters, while walking 39 for a K/BB ration of 1.43 (Lester’s is 2.71). But what he does do – and does very well is win f’n baseball games. It is really impressive actually how he can pitch just good enough to come out of a start with a W. With an ERA+ of just 95, he is strutting around with a record of 9-3 heading into the All Star break. That is the same record as Jon Lester who has an ERA+ of 155 and just one win shy of Clay's team leading 10 wins AL leading ERA+ of 182. Clay Buchholz deserves an entire post on his season so far. I expected a nice jump, hoped for a big jump, but right now he is performing at a level only matched by some guy in Colorado, Florida and Philly – and those 3 throw to pitchers every day. When he pulled up short grabbing the back of his knee, New England gasped – and when he came out of the game, we worried… and that was the first no-decision Clay has had all year. But back to Lackey – only 8 other players have 9 wins in the AL – and the second lowest ERA+ is CC Sabathia… which is still 20 points higher than our double chinned friend. But the craziest part is that his best pitching has come in no-decisions. He has had 4 no decisions, all four have been lost by the bullpen in either the 9th or extra innings with the biggest gut punch being his start against the Yankees on June 6th - his best outing of the year - where Paps gave up 2 in the 9th. Paps blew 2 wins for John. Think about THAT... he should be tied with David Price for the league lead in wins with 11.

3) It is mind boggling how bad the injury situation is; and of course, that is why we have the likes of Gustavo Molina on the 25 man roster. And while Ellsbury, Cameron, Hermida, Beckett, and Dice K all hurt the past few months or so - Pedey, Vmart and Buchholz missing any time (crossing fingers that Clay doesn't) is pure torture. But, baseball is a funny game. Average guys can do amazing things. One man can win a game with one swing. A pitcher, a bullpen - they are able to carry the torch on days where the offense finds holes in their bats. And at the end of the day, it all comes down to timing. Papi steps up big last night - Lackey does what he needs to do. They capitalize when men are on base, they work counts, Bill Hall drives in some big runs with a nice piece of hitting. Varitek contributes when he is called on… and that dynamic – I think – is unique to this game.

4) With this string of injuries; I find myself thinking back to 2006 and how much easier it is to swallow a rash of injuries to the offense then to pitching. In 2006, only two pitches started more than 30 games (Beckett and Schill) – next in line was Wake with 23. After that, they saw a total of 11 different pitchers start a game for the sox. Lester, Clement, Wells, Kyle Snyder, Jason Johnson (talk about a name to forget - pitched 6 games with an ERA over 7), Lenny Dinardo, Julian Tavarez, Kason Gabbard, David Pauley, Kevin Jarvis, and Devern Hansack. The result? The only time the Red Sox did not win 95 games since Theo took the reins and their worst season in nearly a decade - since 2001 to be exact.

The moral of the story here - if people are going to go down, let it be offensive - because, as I mentioned above, Bill Hall can win you game on any given day. You can win games 1-0 by having strong pitching, good defense and some luck on offense. You can weather the storm with your offensive studs out. But, when Jason Johnson, Kyle Snyder, Lenny Dinardo and Kason Gabbard combine for 26 starts - you know what happens? 8-18 records happen, that's what.

5) Ok, the time has come to say goodbye to interleague play. I’d say it was fun while it lasted, but it wasn’t. It is a debauchery for so many different reasons - but none more than what it does to the schedule. The poor Arizona Diamondbacks interleague opponents have a combined winning percentage of .606 - the Nationals? .303. In the AL, the Red Sox had the toughest interleague schedule with the aggregate winning percentage of opponents at .546. The Rangers are in the bottom with their national league foes winning at a clip of .415. Not to mention - the two leagues play WITH DIFFERENT RULES. When Pete Rose first walked into Fenway for the 1975 World Series - he looked at the Green Monster and just stared - he was mesmerized. He had been playing in the majors for 12 year and was obviously familiar with Fenway Park and that big wall in left. But this was his first time actually looking directly at the 37 foot, 2inch wall - and, in typical Pete Rose fashion – he started to calculate how many more hits he would have had in this park. Interleague play cheapens that moment. It cheapens the World Series. It cheapens the All-Star game - and there is literally no good reason to do it outside of money. (Well, except for that 13-5 record)


Here we are - It is July 1st - the Sox are 47-31, 1 back from the division, 2 up on the Wild Card. It always takes a 90+ degree day or two for it to really start rolling. And now, with that on the board - I get the chills just thinking about the next 4 months.

It is days like these I miss not being in Boston anymore

Saturday, June 19, 2010

And like that...

And like that... for the next few months we have only one team to root for, only one box score to check in the daily rags, and after a whirlwind playoff run - New England wakes up punch drunk, pissed, angry and opens their newspapers (online of course) to see what their hometown ball club has been up to... and they smile - all is right in the world as the red stockings are tied for the most wins in all of baseball and back only one game in the loss column for first place in the 2010 AL east, which might go down as the best division of all time.

But the road to this point came not without its bumps..

For starters, less than one month ago - on May 23rd, the Red Sox were 8.5 games behind the Rays. Quickly the season was beginning to slide away. They needed a bat, their supposedly great defense went all swiss cheese on us, and in between them and the Rays there our hated pin-stripped rival acted as a road block; who on May 17th where a full 6.5 games up in the wild card. Things were dire, outlook was bleak, and everyone from Sully from Southy to that Curly Haired Boyfriend Dan Shaughnessy to the prick Dirt Dog to the entire talk radio universe - they all were ready to quit. And, they probably thought that they had their reasons...

... except they play 162 for a bigger reason:

Since May 17th, the ole own team has gone 22-8, the Rays have started to play like the team they actually are, the Yanks played at a solid pace - but just not solid enough (16-13)... and just like that; 1 game back. Bam. Best division in baseball, maybe - when its all said and done - the best divisional race of all time. And while we have more than half the season to go - you know what, I like our odds... and either way I'll love our journey.

So what happened on those lost nights where the Boston faithful watched large men dawning green and white charge to a 7th game disappointment? How the hell did they turn this shit show around so drastically, so fast, and relatively quietly. Well, lets take a quick gander:

What happens when a team who is ranked 3rd in the league in runs scored all of a sudden adds one of the best power bats to the line up? Well, they rocket to the most runs scored in the league by a healthy margin is what happens. The Red Sox are far and away the best offensive team in baseball right now - having scored 383 runs to date. Next best... The Yankees with 367, then the Rays at 350, then the Rangers at 348, then nobody else for a while. And they didn't need to go out and trade Clay or Kelly or Kalish to get this bat... they just needed two things; trust and patience. And hats off to Tito and Theo and who ever else was involved in sticking with the Large Father while everyone from Maine to Methuen was calling for his head. Bench him, play Lowell, send him to Minors... a lesser team, a lesser organization may have obliged under pressure - but that is why this is not a lesser team. That is why they have made the playoffs 7 out of 8 years. That is why they win 95 games a season. They stuck with him and he rewarded them mightly.

April/March: .148/.238/.286 1 hr 4 rbi 5 r
May: .363/.425/.788 10 hr 27 rbi 16 r
June .259/.427/.552 4 hr 14 rbi 15 r

And the league has noticed, as they are no longer attacking Papi. He was only walked 4 times in March and April as pitchers smiled as he approached the batters box - a reversal of roles which probably hurt me more than the lowly batting line. But then those smiles turned down a bit and they walked him 10 times in May. And my god - did he crush the ball in may. His may, this year, will go down as one of the best months of hitting in the history of baseball. And like that, the smiles were wiped off of their face holes and they now were emotionless again, nervous, and yes - filled with fear. And as Papi now glides to the plate with the excited grin of a Little Leaguer who hit his growth spurt early, they have already walked him 16 times in June. He was always best when pitchers were fearing him... and jesus he is certainly at his best. Those May numbers are of course unsustainable, and he was getting a lot of pitches to hit as people thought he was done and challenged him. Not anymore, the average will drop - but that OBP is still a pretty thing to look at and when they do make a mistake he will smash it. One more quick point - a lot of us don't remember this, but pre-steroids... nobody just hit all the time. The game was lived on streaks, some stretches of greatness, some stretches of slumps, but most of the time it fell in the middle. I think we will see more and more of this trend moving forward. Steroids, more than anything else, allowed players to heal faster, play through injury, and remain confident - those are three of the biggest slump factors.

But what is even more amazing is the team has surged ahead with several injuries. Josh Beckett, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dice - K have all spent time on the DL - some nearly the entire season. Their replacements, men named Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald, guys who had no shot to make their high school team, college team, independent league, minor league baseball, or the big show like Daniel Nava (we touched on his story a while back and by now its known on a national scale - but even still... as he is raking at the pro-level, people are still saying he is just a fill in, he can't keep it up, Hermida has more upside, he will be on the Pawtucket shuttle when Ellsbury is back, etc. and he just keeps hitting. And if the Erin Andrews story gets any bigger she will be banging him by tuesday for more headlines, she loves herself a headline). Even the elderly statesmen, Tek and Lowell, with their broken backs, shotty knees and plastic hips have contributed when called upon.

And of course, there is the defense. A topic of debate here on the report for a few weeks was how could Theo focus so much on the defense and miss so badly. Well, a mix of some bad bounces, small sample size, getting used to fenway, cold weather, bad luck, horrible pitching and a tough schedule was the reason. They have rocketed up to become a top defensive with a team UZR over 6. Their two best players have been JD Drew and Adrian Beltre. Scutaro has been playing really well, Pedroia is his normal nastiness at 2nd base. The team who couldn't throw a runner out, who was run on relentlessly like the Kansas City Chiefs has turned into one of the least run on teams in the league. Again, not by free agency, not by bringing up some minor leaguer whose bat would be a hole in the line up... but by good coaching, making adjustments on both the pitchers and catchers end and fucking hard ass work.

But we expected great defense out of Beltre - that is why we got him for this "bridge" season. The issue was, at what cost is great defense worth blocking a prominent hitters position like third base. I argued that it depends on the make up of the team, how good the starting pitching could be, how many ground balls they induce, and ultimately how many runs it could save... and for the Red Sox - it was very important.. more so then having a good bat who couldn't play any defense (see Mike Lowell). So I was fine with it... and all of a sudden he is playing like 04 Beltre. an OPS over 9, and average - that will come down - over .330. His 48 rbis and 87 hits also lead the team. The most interesting tidbit about Beltre is his hot/cold splits. And by hot and cold I mean the temperature outside. So far this year, when it is below 69 degrees - he is batting .279, an OBP of .320 and slugging .353 in 140 plate appearances. When it is warmer than 69? .404/.429/.728 in 114 PAs. And guess what, it is only getting warmer. He has been absolutely terrific and would probably be considered the best all around player on the team so far (his stellar defense coupled with fantastic offensive output) except for one not so small, goatee'd, aggressive bald thing...

...Kevin Youkilis is an animal. He not only leads the team in OPS+ with 167, he is 23 points ahead of the next guy. He is, without a doubt, one of the best 5 players in all of baseball and so far only 3 have been better with the bat.

1) Justin Morneau who, with his bat alone, has been worth 2.7 WINS this year for his team. The man has an on base percentage of .446
2) Miggy Cabrera who his crushing the ball to a tune of a .645 slugging percentage (.35 points higher than the next guy).
3) Robbie Cano - who happens to be that next guy with a .610 slugging percentage and 2.5 wins in his swing so far

Then its Youks. Youks crazy stance and rugged swing has given the red sox 2.4 wins by itself. After these four players, there is a pretty significant drop off, with Hamilton, Konerko, Longoria all around 1.7 wins.

In 2008 when Youks made a significant offensive jump - especially from a power perspective (a .100 point increase in ISO*), every sabermatrician out there developed theories and reasons why it was an outlier, why he would regress. His HR barely made it out of the park, his BABIP is high, and so on. But the next year he didn't regress, his BABIP stayed the same, as did his ISO - although he did strike out more and walk less. Then this year, he has fixed those two components of his game. He is striking out less (16% of the time vs 25% last year), he is walking more (16% vs 13%), and his ISO have taken another leap (from .250 to .275). And now, we realize, he is just doing what Kevin Youkilis has done every year since he became a full time player at the late age of 27 - he is getting better and better and better.

The pitching staff, well - we have had our share of injuries, lots of them, but with John Lester as the ace - great work from Clay, strong enough outings from the double chinned Lackey, some surprise starts by Wake, help from Dice K when he is not injured, and strong work from the bullpen they have more than held their own. Here is an interesting stat... Only one team, Kansas City, has had more pitchers throw in a game this year with 21. The Red Sox have had 19 different arms appear in games. That usually means one of two things: You're really bad or really hurt. Obviously our situation is with the latter, which makes the success all that more amazing. It also - once again - proves the point you can never have enough pitching. Tampa bay has only had 13 by the way.

We could use some pieces for sure, an extra arm in the bullpen would be the biggest and most pressing issue (but what team in the majors couldn't use another arm in the pen). Bard is blatantly throwing too many innings - to the point where I fully expect his arm to come flying off in a bloody heap causing Joe West to toss him for delaying the game - and I'd love to see them get a good 8th inning guy to take that 7th inning role. But as we roll into Fathers Day weekend, you need to just sit back and smile... don't you? Baseball is funny that way, as fans we live in the moment, we ride the wave of the daily box score, we get emotionally high one night and hung over the next with late inning heroics and follies... and we should, the ride is the best part. It is where the true fans live. But when you step back and look at how seasons have historically unfolded you see that teams go on streaks, they win 8 out of 10 and lose 8 out of 10. And you're never as good as you are during those winning streaks and you're never as bad when the losses pile up.

The saying is you win 60, you lose 60, but it is what you do with the other 60 that really counts. Well, the Sox are 19 games away from their 60 expected wins... and it is only June 19th. You can't ask for much more than that out of a ball club.

Sit back, buckle up and lets get ready for a nice ride. The best times are yet to come - the team has the luxury of taking their sweet ass time with Beckett and Ellsbury and Dice K. Once we get past the all star break and into the long, sweltering summer stretch - we will start to see those guys come back, with no mileage on them. May take a bit to wipe the rust off - but I think the best days are ahead for this team.


* ISO stands for Isolated Power, which is a measure of a hitter's raw power, in terms of extra bases per AB. Its formula is ISO = (2B + (3B*2) + (HR*3)) / AB

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Globe Trotting

Potential new feature here in Freeze Pop land, born from a longtime love affair with the Sunday paper. As I consume more and more of my news online, the Sunday Boston Glove endures as my one tangible newspaper experience. Call me a hopeless romantic but there's still just something different and wonderful for me in the experience of having a newspaper in your hand versus reading articles online.

One of things I really enjoy about flipping through a Sunday paper is the randomness of seeing which stories and sections grab my attention from week to week. Maybe it's an interesting Travel piece. Maybe a book or movie review that sends me straight to my Amazon wish list or Netflix queue. Or maybe it's a long feature in the Ideas or Sports section. It could be almost anything.

That's where this feature comes in. In this space, I want to share the journey through the Sunday paper by presenting my top five list of the most interesting pieces of the week. The rules are simple. There are no limits on what's eligible. Could be a small blurb. Could be three stories in the same section. Whatever's clever. As long it catches my fancy it's fair game. And, on that note, let's dive into a first pass (in no particular order) below.

Clarke's Globe Picks of the Week (10/25/2009)

1) Headline: Coming Around Again
Author: Joan Anderman
Description: Record-contract limbo behind her, Carly Simon revisits her classics and makes new album a family affair

Comments: I'm far from the world's biggest Carly Simon fan. I mean, I've got You're So Vain and Nobody Does It Better on my ipod. Don't get me wrong. I know about the failed marriage to James Taylor. I'm familiar with their son Ben Taylor and his music. That's pretty much where it ends though. That said, I thought there were lots of interesting tidbits in this piece about her re-packaged greatest hits project.

You learn about her Starbucks contract and how that deal fell apart. Then there's the whole dynamic of her relationship with her son which is kind of fascinating. You can tell he adores her on the one hand but that they have this kind of weird working relationship too. There's the lingering enmity with her famous ex-husband. There's hope that this project is going to be commercially successful despite what seems like a lot of mixed feelings over doing it in the first place. After reading this story I could easily see myself buying into a book or a movie based on Carly, JT and the kids. There's more material there than I would have thought.

http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2009/10/25/carly_simon_revisits_her_classics_on_a_new_album/

2) Headline: Islam's Darwin Problem
Author: Drake Bennett
Description: In the Muslim world, creationism is on the rise

Comments: See, here's why I enjoy the randomness of the Sunday Globe. We go from a story about Carly Simon to a feature about the rise of creationism in the Muslim world. I love it. And I highly, highly recommend this piece if you can find the time. It's fantastic. I think you might be surprised how many people (even in the US) do not support the theory of evolution. Some of the statistics that Bennett provides are pretty eye-opening. The stuff in here about Adnan Oktar (Turkish author and vehement creationism-defender) is worth the price of admission alone too. No scientific or religious training? No problem! Blame Darwinism on Freemasons! On the flip side, surprising support for evolutionary theory from a Middle Eastern country you might not expect. Which one? You have to read it yourself...

http://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=7015487156350410449&postID=1016265885188321359

3) Headline: Welcome To The Dollhouse
Author: Francie Latour
Description: The line the new black Barbies won't cross

Comments: Well-written piece about the problem with black Barbie dolls. Plenty of valuable historical context. I learned about "Colored Francie" from the 60's and Oreo Fun Barbie from the 90's. The biggest impression that the story made on me though was in regards to the crazy lengths that many black woman go to get straight hair. I don't think I had any concept of the severity of the salon experience described by Latour, what with the burning chemicals and so forth. Yikes.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/10/25/the_line_the_new_black_barbies_wont_cross/?page=1

4) Headline: For Walker, Financial Fouls Mount
Author: Shira Springer
Description: Former Celtics star pursued by creditors as free-spending lifestyle drains his wealth

Comments: Poor Antoine. Nothing in this story really surprised me. "Young person is given boatloads of money and doesn't handle it well," is a tale we've all heard by now. But the details are still pretty depressing. And, granted, it's hard to feel sorry for someone that was paid over $100 million to play basketball. But when you balance the craziness of playing $15,000 hands of blackjack with Michael Jordan and $1,800 dinners against taking care of about 75 people (especially his mother) to the point where you're giving five people authorization to just use your credit cards as they see fit, you do have to have a touch of remorse for the guy.

http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/celtics/articles/2009/10/25/former_celtics_star_antoine_walker_pursued_by_creditors_as_wealth_vanishes/?page=3

5) Headline: What You Hear Is Not A Chorus
Author: Matthew Guerrieri
Description: The truly original thing about "Rapper's Delight"

Comments: Now here's an easy sell. You give me an article about Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank and Master Gee's signature hit and I'm in. This story, in particular, is about the uniqueness of a song with no chorus. Guerrieri describes the phenomenon in Rapper's Delight thusly, "Like the balladic verses of the blues, or the improvisatory excursions of long-form jazz, the song is less interested in how loud it can rev its engine than in how long it can keep it running." Well said, sir. Well said. I like a good chorus as much as the next guy but who says that every song needs one? Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go fire up some Sugarhill and ease into the afternoon. Happy reading kiddos.

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/10/25/the_truly_original_thing_about_rappers_delight/?page=2

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Music Finds You

Well... sort of.

I have been on an absolute barnstorm across the world wide web the past few days loading up on new music. It has been one of the most successful new music missions I have ever had - and like all things, it came with a clear strategy. A strategy that I want to share.

It started with the great website Hype Machine, which aggregates music from the top blogs around the world in one place. You can listen to them all like it were a long running playlist, which is the first step. I listened and when something struck my fancy, I jumped to the blog and began the second part of the search. I spent some time on this persons blog to feel out their musical taste - was it one dimensional, did they have a wide variety of styles that I enjoyed, how did they write about the songs and artists they were offering for download.

I did this exercise for about two weeks and came away with 12 or so blogs that just killed it. These sites offer fans the ability to download tunes - so download I did. I must have added 200+ songs to iTunes over the two week span... didn't try to decide if they were worthy of a long-standing position yet - that came in phase 3.

Once all the songs were on my iPod - the switch shifted towards my commute and Wednesday wedding planning which I have dubbed "new music and new memories". Which now makes wedding planning time, also the time where I find new music and both of us are all geared up (for different reasons) - just brilliant stuff. So the system at this point is pretty simple. There are three grades I give each song which allows me to circle back and finish my new music quest afterwards (this method is straight from the Hadley handbook by the way). As for the ratings, each grade is assigned one of the ratings star on iTunes/iPods

- If the song doesn't resonate, doesn't seem like something that will get plays - but instead a constant skip over - it gets one star

- If the song is good, a song that may grow on me, a song that might just be great one day - it gets two stars

- And finally if the song comes off like an instant classic, something that just clicks from the get go - it lands three stars

At the end of the day, I go back and sort by rating on iTunes. Erase all the 1 star songs, keep all the 2 start songs, and immediately do two things with the 3 star songs: 1/ make a mix tape to share the new music with people and 2/ begin to download more stuff from each band

It's that easy... and nothing is more refreshing than finding a boat load of bands to discover... because let's face it - discovery is the best part.

And just in case you want to check out some of the new groups I have dug up:

-The Vaselines (not new, actually most famous for Nirvana covering - but new to me and great)
-Cymbals Eat Guitars
-Camille Yarbrough (old r&b/mo-town/funk - "Take Yo Praise" has been covered a few times)
-Alex Bleeker and the Freaks
-Ducktails
-Fluffy Lumbers
-Digits
-The Noisettes
-Blind Pilot
-The Drums
-Clare and the Reasons
-Free Energy (song Something in Common)

Happy hunting

Thursday, October 08, 2009

CB Buckner Review

See full size image
F-

Seriously, the MLB has to do something about the horrible umpires in this league and their method for placing them into the post season. It needs to be based on merit, not tenure.

Awful. God f'n awful. No pressure or accountability to be good at their jobs.

Genre Review - Country

What the hell did Country music ever do to deserve this? I am serious, why do people have an unrelenting hate for Country music? It pisses me off to no end and I want to address 3 points:

1) Country music is as old a form of American music that we got. Developed by blending several styles of music together in South Eastern U.S. at the turn of the last century, it extends into so many different genres of music. It was born from the blues that had been a major part of the same region for quite some time – and it has so much of that in it.
2) The issue is that everyone associates Country music with people like Garth Brooks, John Denver and Kenny Chesney. That is a subset of the genre – closer to “Country Western”, than say some of the more blue-grass banjo fronted Country bands or say – a bluesy Country band… or say, I don’t know – ELVIS F’N PRESLEY. I mean even Ray Charles was considered country soul in the early 60’s. And you know what? Country music led a new genre of music called Country rock in the 1960’s. And some of the early bands playing in this space? The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Eagles, and so many more. Country influenced the best bands of all time – throw on Honky Tonk Woman by the stones… seriously do it now Honky Tonk Woman. Great song, rooted in Country. Wilco, Son Volt, Old 97’s and a bunch of other bands spun off with Alternative Country in the early-mid 90’s. The problem is, people think Country Pop and Country Western is the beginning and end of the genre and it pisses me off to no end. And what happens is great musicians are overlooked. Go download “Jackson Station” by The Band of Heathens and tell me that is not a great f’n song.
3) I swear to god I am going to punch the next person that says “I like all music except Country” in the dick. Right in the pecker. Because it is a stupid ass thing to say, even if you really hate all Country music (which you obviously haven’t listened to it all) – you don’t like EVERY other kind of music. When was the last time you dug deep into the Big Band our Latin House genres? Big on Gothic Rock? How about Progressive Trance? Do you have any idea how many genera’s of music there are? I’ll tell you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_popular_music_genres. So please, if you don’t want a punch to your weiner, please don’t say that idiotic sentence ever again. It makes you look stupid.
Some of my favorite bands in the world are Country. Country is a major section of music with a bunch of genres within it. Stop giving it a bad name.
Grade
Country: A
People who say “I like everything buy Country”: F

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Traffic Boners

















On the way out, eh? Then how come I see traffic boners by the bushel basket every morning on 128 during my morning commute. I can't drive 2 miles without some hooligan whipping a traffic boner out at me.

Movie Review - King's Ransom

I remember where I was the day my idol was traded from the most entertaining NHL team of all-time to the Los Angeles Kings. I was 13 years old and my parents were picking me up from SVS Hockey Camp in Rhode Island. It was hot and muggy and I was devastated.

When you're 13 years old there's no way to process how arguably the greatest hockey player in the world can be traded. I mean, why would you do that if you were running a team? You've just won 4 Stanley Cups. He's in the prime of his career. He's Wayne-flipping-Gretzky! You can't trade Wayne Gretzky!

So I was stunned. And confused. I bought a t-shirt of Wayne in that silver and black Kings uniform and wore it with the same pride I had in my authentic blue Oilers jersey with 99 on the back in orange. But it never felt right to me. When the Kings knocked the Oilers out of the '89 playoffs it felt weird. When the Oilers returned the favor the next year and won the Cup, without Wayne, it felt even weirder. And when he broke Gordie Howe's all-time scoring record in the middle of all that, in Edmonton as a King, that may have been the weirdest of all. I could never fully resolve myself to the reality of that trade. Maybe I never will.

Enter King's Ransom...Peter Berg's documentary, the first in ESPN's 30 for 30 series, on that fateful day in 1988 when The Great One was dealt to LA. I think I had last night circled on my calendar from the minute I knew when it was airing. The Red Sox could've been playing Game One of the ALDS last night and I might have skipped three innings just to watch it. That's how excited I was for this project. Excitement justified? Sadly, not quite. Here are my impressions...

-I love Peter Berg for tackling the subject. And I love that you can kind of tell he's just in awe of Wayne throughout the film. I don't love the job that he did with Wayne's interview on the golf course though. I feel like he let him off the hook way too easy in spots.

For example, they talk about how Peter Pocklington and Glen Sather both gave Wayne the option to call off the trade right before the press conference. That's fascinating and something I never knew. Wayne's comments about it are really interesting too. He admits that maybe he should've taken a few days to think about it before saying, essentially, that they're already too far down the path and the deal makes sense so let's go ahead and do it.

I think there's genuine regret in Gretzky over the trade. He talks about leaving a championship-caliber team for one of the worst teams in the league. He estimates they might have won another 4 Cups if he stayed. I think there's a part of him that's completely haunted by the whole thing. But Berg didn't really press him or fully explore that angle. He takes Wayne's ultimate answer of "no regrets" at face value. I'm not sure Jeremy Schapp or Bob Costas buys that. I certainly didn't.

-On a more positive note, kudos to Berg for slipping in two quick clips of my favorite Gretzky goal, his shorthanded OT winner in Game 2 of the '88 Smythe Finals against Calgary. (Shown between :11 and :16 in this video...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3uVSFmSLTY&feature=PlayList&p=A08B30F755CB14FA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=26) In general, I thought the use of old highlights was choppy and somewhat disorienting. I always appreciate seeing that goal though.

-I definitely did not need all kinds of footage of Wayne standing in an empty Great Western Forum. Way, way overused. The opening scene of him driving up and getting out of the car was cool but everything after that could have been cut.

-Speaking of things that could have, nay SHOULD have, been cut, the worst part of the entire documentary in my opinion were the ridiculous shots that were thrown in of someone skating around in the dark in Oilers and Kings uniforms that was clearly NOT Wayne Gretzky. Why in the world would anyone think that's a good idea? Awful. Just awful.

-That made it into the film for some reason. The biggest lost opportunity, however, was something that wasn't in the movie. And that's any kind of reaction or interviews from Wayne's former teammates in Edmonton. That's a gigantic ommission. How can you not get Kevin Lowe or Paul Coffey or anyone from those teams on the record with their thoughts on the trade? Gretzky famously says, "I promised Mess I wouldn't do this," while crying at the press conference. How do you not cut to Messier after you show that clip to describe his emotions at that moment?

-Lacking Wayne's famous Oilers teammates, at least we get Glen Sather. I was never a huge fan of Slats (especially when he was running the Rangers) but I have to give credit where credit is due. He's great throughout. I love how Pocklington describes him as "pretty pissed off" (I think that's the quote) when he first told him about the Gretzky trade and Sather says in response, "I was more than pissed." You can tell he's still seething over the whole deal. And I loved the part about how he wouldn't have traded Wayne for an entire organization if it were up to him.

-I was very surprised to learn that Wayne did most of the planning for his wedding with Janet. Really Wayne? Wouldn't have guessed that.

-Speaking of Janet...best line of the movie was easily, "...hey Janet! I saw Police Academy 5!" I'm sure she's delighted to have that on her resume.

-I dont know why but I love Walter Gretzky. It looks like he lives in the same house he's lived in for the last 50 years. Canadian flag flying in the front yard. Picking dandelions. Just as soft-spoken as you please. Love it.

-One last criticism...I would've liked much more discussion on the aftermath of the trade. They gloss over it with text that mentions Wayne never winning a Cup in LA, Edmonton winning in '90, Pocklington selling the team, warm-weather expansion and Bruce McNall going to jail. I wish they spent more time on that stuff. Let's get definitive opinions, not just from Wayne and Pocklington, about whether the trade was a success. Let's debate whether that expansion was a good thing for the league or not. I wish they gave more time to those types of questions.

Overall Grade: C (Wish I could go higher but I just can't.)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Facebook Status Reviews

Ok, so I was going to start by saying sorry. By saying that I apologize if you find this little website and realize I am making fun of your Facebook Status Update. I was going to say no hard feelings - but screw that.

I accepted you as a friend on facebook and now you have to face the fact that your Facebook status is awful and borderline embarrassing. That is what friends do - we tell our friends when we have shit in our teeth, when our zippers down and today, in 2009, we call out people for having lame ass status updates.

So what is my social network up to...

Love Happens
You know what also happens? People take a crap because they ate to many ding dongs and twinkies before dinner... that is what also happens. You know what seperates the two? The later is something that people actually give a shit about

Grade: F

Literally had a headache all day... What the Hell
I literally don't give a shit. That's the hell.

Grade: F

Just got a free copy of The Nest in the mail. There's a magazine for married people??
Yes, there is also magazine for married people cheating on their wife with barn animals. Are you kidding me? You are surprised that there is a magazine for married people? It is a pretty large f'n segment of the world you know... and magazine's are purposely segmented into small niches. Or, just maybe, did you want to let everyone know for the 200th time this month that you are married?

Grade: F

Things change, so do cities, people come into your life and they go. But it's comforting to know that the ones you love are always in your heart... and if you're very lucky, a plane ride away :)
Okay, so I figured that an actual person didn't sit around and make this shit up for their status update - it had to come from some movie, song, tv show... and sure enough, my friend google lets me know that it is a Sex and the City quote.

Now why does it irk me, well a few reasons:

1/ I know cities change, but what is the point here. Guessing it was part of some sappy "NY isn't like it used to be" that everyone who has ever lived here always says. It was always better a decade before...

2/ People who I love are certainly in my thoughts quite often... I guess I am okay with the heart analogy as well, although from a very scientific perspective I could call bullshit. What pisses me off is the "always" crap. No one is in my heart when I am taking a dump and no one wants to be - no matter how big the love.

3/Very lucky? I think lucky should do just fine... or even just normal. I have lost plenty of people close to me, but there is still a boat load of people I love within a car ride never mind a boarding a damn plane.

All and all, I hate every quote that doesn't make me laugh or remind me of the roller palace in 6th grade

Grade F

Needs new music on her i-pod and is open to suggestions...
First reply to this update: "Buffett".

That is your recommendation on new music for a friends i-pod? While your at it... you should also rent Stand By Me and check out this show Friends. You know what... I don't even hate the status update - I just think people should be accountable for having stupid ass friends.

Grade F

Ya... E's and Sloans marriage will last... No problem
The goddamn show JUST ENDED. 90% of the people I know are watching Sunday Night Football and are going to be catching this on either OnDemand or DVR... Are you kidding me? Why in the dick do you think this is ok? Wake the hell up...

Grade F



Saturday, October 03, 2009

Language Review - Irresistibly Irish

Quick post after a late night realization…

Substitute “”me” with “my” and you will sound like you’re right off the boat from Ireland. I literally spent 2 hours last night cracking my shit up.

Where’s my car – “Where’s me car”

Can someone tie my shoes – “can someone tie me shoes”

Or maybe - I think I have lost me wallet, me keys, me jacket and me dignity… if anyone finds me things, call me cell – I should be in me pajamas at me house with me lady

It doesn't get old

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lyrics Analysis (Funky Cold Medina)

All right, kids.  Let's jump back into the lyrics analysis game
with a song that's shockingly 20 years old now. My comments in
red...

Funky Cold Medina - Tone Loc

Alright, dig it
(As you wish, sir)

[ VERSE 1 ]
Cold coolin' at a bar, and I'm looking for some action
(Is there a better way to describe hanging out than cold
coolin'? I say no.)

But like Mike Jagger said, I can't get no satisfaction
The girls are all around, but none of them wanna get with me
My threads are fresh and I'm lookin def, yo, what's up with
L-o-c?
(Questioning yourself in the third person is kind of awesome.)
The girls is all jockin' at the other end of the bar
(Or, as they say in Spain..."Las muchachas son todo el jockin'
en el otro
extremo de la barra. It seems "jockin'" is the same
in any language.)

Havin' drinks with some no-name chump, when they know that I'm
the star
(The nerve)
So I got up and strolled over to the other side of the cantina
(I like that. Tone's perplexed but he's not in any great hurry.
Just calmly strolls
across the cantina.)
I asked the guy, Why you so fly? he said, Funky Cold Medina
(I love that the guy answered so confidently and with no
hesitation. Like
some stranger coming up to you in a bar and
asking "why you so fly?" is
totally normal and expected. I'd
like to ask 100 random people "why you so
fly?" to see if even
one of them wasn't completely confused.)


Funky Cold Medina

[ VERSE 2 ]
This brother told me a secret on how to get more chicks
Put a little Medina in your glass, and the girls'll come real
quick
(In your own glass? Not in their glasses?)
It's better than any alcohol or aphrodisiac
(It absolutely isn't. This is like saying a Mercedes is better
than a car. Something can be the best in its class. It can't

be better than something it is though. Ketchup can't be better
than any tomato-based
condiment.)
A couple of sips of this love potion, and she'll be on your lap
(That's powerful stuff. A couple sips?)
So I gave some to my dog when he began to beg
(Wait, what? Why? Why in the world did you do that? You gave
some to your
dog? Your dog!?!?)
Then he licked his bowl and he looked at me and did the wild
thing on my leg
(I'm sorry but you deserve that Tone. What were you hoping
would happen
when you gave your dog Funky Cold Medina? Again
...it's your dog!)

He used to scratch and bite me, before he was much much meaner
(I bet the Dog Whisperer secretly uses Medina.)
But now all the poodles run to my house for the Funky Cold
Medina
(All right, I'm confused. Do you give the Medina to someone and
it makes them
horny? Or do you drink it yourself and suddenly
you become irresistible? I mean,
the guy at the bar had it in
his glass. And your dog is getting all kinds of
hot poodle ass
from drinking it. So that implies you drink it yourself. But
then,
you're giving it out to everyone in the rest of the song.
And it only stands to
reason that the object of your affection
should be the one drinking it. Hmmmm.
Mysterious stuff, this
Medina.)


You know what I'm sayin?
(Not really)
I got every dog in my neighborhood breakin' down my door
I got Spuds McKenzie
Alex from Stroh's
(Two celebrity dogs and they both live in your neighborhood?
What are the odds?
Love how dated those references are now too.)
They won't leave my dog alone with that Medina, pal
(Oh, we're pals now? Nice.)

[ VERSE 3 ]
I went up to this girl, she said, Hi, my name is Sheena
(Speaking of odds...what are the odds her name would rhyme with
Medina? Would've been much harder to write this lyric if her
name was Barbara. Or Ruth.)

I thought she'd be good to go with a little Funky Cold Medina
(Well, that's an improvement over giving it to your dog. Lucky
lady.)

She said, I'd like a drink, I said, Ehm - ok, I'll go get it
(As a rule, I think it's a good idea to let strangers pick your
drink for you.)

Then a couple sips she cold licked her lips, and I knew that she
was with it
(Dope)
So I took her to my crib, and everything went well as planned
But when she got undressed, it was a big old mess, Sheena was a
man
(Bahahaha. Well then. That, indeed, is a big old mess.)
So I threw him out, I don't fool around with no Oscar Meyer
wiener
(It's kinda not his fault though...just for the record.)
You must be sure that the girl is pure for the Funky Cold
Medina
(...says a man who earlier in the song gave some of this stuff
to a dog.)


You know, ain't no plans with a man
This is the 80's, and I'm down with the ladies
(Something about the 70's you want to tell us about, Tone?)
Ya know?
(Kinda....I guess)

Break it down

[ VERSE 4 ]
Back in the saddle, lookin for a little affection
I took a shot as a contestant on The Love Connection
(Does anyone have that episode? I'll pay good money for it.)
The audience voted, and you know they picked a winner
I took my date to the Hilton for Medina and some dinner
(That is so, so romantic. I'm swooning.)
She had a few drinks, I'm thinkin soon what I'll be gettin'
(Wait, a few FCM's? You only need sips of that stuff, pal.)
Instead she started talkin' 'bout plans for our weddin'
(See, that's what happens.)
I said, Wait, slow down, love, not so fast says, I'll be seein'
ya
That's why I found you don't play around with the Funky Cold
Medina
(Apparently not)

Ya know what I'm sayin
That Medina's a monster, y'all
(Words to live by. And we're out...)

Candy Land - Website Reviews

For a change, not here to rip on why something is bad - instead, applaud a brand for understanding social media and taking a risk. (and then rip on someone for being incredibly bad)

Skittles has completely revamped their website and decided to, in a way, turn it over to the fans.

When you go to www.skittles.com, you are sent through to their facebook page, which has a Skittles branded box in the top left corner that allows you to select different options. Each options bring you to different social sites. Some options to click in the box are:

"Chatter" - brings you to the Twitter Search page looking at what people are saying about Skittles; the good, bad, ugly. Some examples:



Really cool, and of course they could be getting lit up - but they aren't. Because Skittles are the color of the f'n rainbow, taste damn good, and make people inherently happy. A very calculated risk if I ever saw one. We skip the PR bullshit and hear what real life human beings have to say.

"Friends" - brings you right to their facebook page with almost 3.5 million fans. Running promotions, sharing content, active wall, etc. Some brands complain their facebook page doesn't get any traffic. Well chances are your product just isn't relevant and you are not putting any effort into driving folks there.

"Media" - Has all their commercials hosted on their youtube page. No need to skip over these, its up to you to watch them. And their not replacing their television spend, just adding to it.

Now I think this is a great example of how a brand can think outside the box - understanding the depth of the media shift and having a go at something that will drive some buzz.


Meanwhile Hershey's is running a stupid ass and incredibly tired promotion giving away NCAA tickets with literally the lamest copy of the year



"I'm A Big Fan" - really? Who the hell on gods green earth says that repulsive shit? And why do companies still get a huge boner out of any promotion that has user-generated content? Meanwhile they haven't a clue what the hell it means. Listen, we don't care that some schmuck Ohio State fan thinks he or she is "A Big Fan"... and of course its only the Big Ten schools that think this shit matters. Nearly every conference has zero video entries, a couple have 2 or 3, but the Big Ten has 14. And then all the videos are predictably awful, lacking any creativity - how does no one tie in a "hershey squirt" after a big interception or something to prove they are a "Big Fan"... not only does the website and promotion suck, Hershey fans and Big Ten fans suck as well.

So where do I net out... I am going to buy a big ass pack of skittles, cause they taste good and they proved not be stupid, lazy, sheep. Then I am going to video tape a Skittle Squirt and post it on their youtube page.

Grade:
Skittles: A
Hershey: F
Big Ten Fans: D-

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Old S.I. Review (April 27, 1987)

Man, it's been a long time since I did an old S.I. review. Too long in fact. As soon as I came across the site of a triumphant Rob Deer in a box of old magazines this past weekend though, I knew what I had to do. Let's jump right in shall we...

Bobby V. Packing Wood
Strong start to this issue with a picture of Bobby Valentine carrying about 30 Rangers bats in the dugout in an attempt to shake them out of a hitting slump next to the table of contents. Probably didn't work though since the '87 Rangers finished in a last place tie in the old AL West.

1987 Toshiba Laptop Specs
Gotta love this copy from an ad for Toshiba's new laptop computer...

The Toshiba is the most powerful laptop you can buy. With a standard 640KB memory that's expandable to 2.6 MB. And a spectacular, high-resolution gas-plasma display that let's you work for hours without getting quint lines. It is an incredible example of Toshiba's technologies in miniaturization.


Zamboni Fan, eh?
Check out this fantastic letter from Steve Aureli of Knoxville, Tenn...

Thanks for Leigh Montville's fascinating article on the Zamboni (You're an Old Smoothie, March 30). I've been a Zamboni fan for years. In fact, I used to live in Waterbury, Conn., and when the Whalers were floundering not too long ago, we would go to the Hartford Civic Center and pay good money to see the Zamboni perform. Something resembling hockey was played during the long intermissions."

Things That Sounded Better At The Time
One other thing from the Letters page. Tim and Janet Matthews, a couple from Toronto, sent in a note taking writer E.M. Swift to task for his contention that Canadians, by and large, have low expectations for their athletes in international competitions. First athlete they cite to defend Canada's athletic prowess? Ben Johnson.

Remembering the Fast Start of the '87 Brew Crew
Moving on the meat of the issue, we begin with the feature story about the Milwaukee Brewers starting the season with an 13-game winning streak and a no-hitter from "embraceable lefty" Juan Nieves. Some highlights from that piece...

-Riding an 11-0 start, the Brewers drew 29,357 on Easter Sunday. I don't know what the capacity was at County Stadium but that seems like a low turnout for an 11-0 team.

-Juan Nieves channeling John Kreese..."People probably think this is a joke," Nieves said, "but it's not. It's a taste of what's to come the rest of the way. We're back. No mercy." It's worth noting at this point that Milwaukee finished 3rd in the AL East in '87.

-Did you know Juan captained the baseball, basketball and cross-country teams at Avon Old Farms? That's a fun piece of trivia. I have to admit, I didn't have Juan pegged as an Avon man.

-Best part of the article? I nominate this...

"Shortly before Opening Day, The Milwaukee Journal conducted a telephone survey of Wisconsin residents and found that 74% of them had no idea who the Brewers manager was?"

OK, first of all, a telephone survey to see how many people know the manager? That's awesome. I will pay money for copies of those phone calls. Even better that 74% didn't know though. 74%! That's tremendous.

The 1987 Phoenix Suns...More Sordid than you Remember
I think it's safe to say that the '87 Suns probably benefited from a comparative lack of media scrutiny. Consider the following...

-At the time, the '87 Suns were involved in "the largest single drug bust in the history of professional sports." No fewer than 11 players, past and present, were implicated by Phoenix law enforcement officials, including Walter Berry (a 6-time all-star and the leading scorer in Suns history).

-Berry was not only implicated but largely believed to have snitched on his teammates in the process. Good times.

-Aside from the drug bust, Phoenix police were also looking into allegations that a Suns-Bucks game from February of '87 may have been fixed.

Can you imagine the 24-hour indignation we'd be hearing from talking heads if all that was going on these days? Although....one thing would be the same and that's David Stern's reaction. Stern's quoted in the article and sounds exactly the same back then as he does now. "We've been assured there's nothing to the allegations but we're looking into it..."

The LaFontaine Game
Ahh, the old 4-OT Game 7 Isles-Caps thriller that ended on Easter Sunday. I remember it well. Hadley slept over that night and we watched into the wee hours. I can close my eyes and see Bob Mason standing dazed in the Wasington net after LaFontaine's turn-around slapper. Game over. Series over. Isles advance.

What I didn't remember until reading the article though is that Washington had a 3-1 lead in that series and lost 3rd period leads in Games 6 and 7. Now, that's a tough way to lose a series.

The Nigerian Nightmare
Skipping past articles on the Boston Marathon, Kentucky Derby prep races & a piece about Greg Louganis getting beat a few times at some indoor diving competition, we get a pre-NFL draft scouting report on Christian Okoye. Some highlights...

-Christian's favorite food was a pungent Nigerian stew called fufu.

-The stories of his athleticism and physique are pretty crazy. At the time, he was the African record-holder in the discus and a 17-time All-America in a variety of track & field events. 6'3", 255 lbs with a 34" waist. Ran a 4.45, 40. 35" vertical. Could bench 405 lbs. and could squat 725 lbs.

-Scouting reports were mixed because of his inexperience, as you would expect. Last first-round, early-second round seemed to be the consensus (and that's where he went incidentally...going to the Chiefs early in the 2nd round). Best part of the evaluations is this quote from Reed Johnson (head of player personnel for the Broncos)...

"Think of the acceleration from Asuza Pacific to playing against the Raiders! What a shock."

Ummmm...the Raiders then, or the Raiders now? Because I think Asuza Pacific could've given last year's Raiders all they could handle.

-My other favorite quote comes from Christian himself, after being handed a football for the first time in his life in college. Christian's reaction? "Very interesting....but very impractical."

Dr. Z on the '87 NFL Draft
Dr. Z goes 7 for 28 in predicting the first round of the NFL draft. Nobody ever does much better than that in hindsight. 7 for 28 is actually higher than I would've guessed. His best call, to me, is listing Rich Gannon in his top 5 underrated players section. Says if he went to USC instead of Delaware he'd be a first rounder. Good call on someone that ended up going in the 4th round (to the Pats by the way. We'll see you in at the Snow Bowl game in 15 years, Rich).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chasing Patron




1) No, that is not that cool

2) My top can hold the f'n tequila inside the bottle so it doesn't spill- because that is the god damn purpose of my top. You know what is more important... that I come off easily.

And honestly, why the hell did they cast Imperioli here - was he really the best option. What the hell does he bring to the brand? Tough Italian Guy that knows his tequila? Not for me - when I see him, I think of a raging heroin addict that cries a lot and can't handle his shit.


...Meanwhile, look at Patron - just absolutely understanding what a guy drinking patron wants:


Great commercial, glides over the empty bottle (WITH NO TOP ON) as it scans a bra and jeans and other clothes... whose clothes you ask? A smoking hot chicks clothes that's who. Then they show the tequila on the rocks in a clear glass with a lime on the rim... bottle half empty and no top.


And we see why one feels the need to attack the other.


Grade:
1800: C-
Patron: A-

Target - Pearl Jam Commercial



Ok, so I love Pearl Jam. Or maybe I loved Pearl Jam... all I know is that at one point in my life - between Ten and Vitalogy and VS. - Pearl Jam was cool as shit. I wore flannel jackets in the midst of Summer because of Eddie Vedder did, I grew out my hair, I cut my jeans into jorts... I literally followed the man blindly. Then something happened... I am not sure if it was them, or if it was me... likely a bit of both, but the relationship hit the proverbial fork in the road. Outside of listening to their old stuff from time to time and my obsession with cut jean shorts - it has all but faded.

The point is - if Eddie Vedder told me to go shop at Target in 1994... I would have not thought twice. I would have jumped on my huffy, silver chromes and all, and b-lined it to nearest Target. But you know what, he never would have... because that Eddie Vedder, THAT Pearl Jam... they found their clothes at Salvation Army or Caldor or some other awesomely shitty store that may or may not sell pretzels that tasted great (Bradlees)

Furthermore, I am not sure how much they paid Cameron Crowe to direct this spot - but I might just call Target's VP Media and let them know that his agency convinced him to overspend for a big name director when my 14 year old cousin could have caught the same footage with better quality on his friggin Flip Video.

And then we have the group of advertising brain child's that must have creamed their pants with the "target logo" stamp idea to kick off the commercial. Not sure why that pissed me off so much, but it did.

So where am I at the end of the commercial? I don't want to go to that lousy themed concert... I don't want to buy their new album... I definitely don't want to go to Target for any reason... The association with Cameron Crowe didn't do shit for me - it just shows a lack of creativity and a fat wallet.

I guess the one thing I might do is go to iTunes. But that is because I always go to iTunes and just quickly hearing iTunes at the end of this stupid commercial reminded me that the new Avett Brothers album came out today. That and I might also throw on my old flannel jacket.

Grade:
Target, Pearl Jam, Cameron Crowe, Hipsters: D
Apple/iTunes: B

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Poppin' Ain't So Easy Neither

I'm eating my lunch in the company lounge this afternoon when one of my co-workers walks in to heat up a bag of popcorn. Ought to be simple enough, right? Well, apparently not.

First thing I notice is that the guy is pressing like two dozen buttons. Beep...beep....beep beep beep. Really dude? That many buttons? You can't put a minute up there? Or how about....oh, I don't know....maybe hitting the button that says "Popcorn?" No? Keep pressing buttons? Cool, cool.

Eventually this hooligan gets the microwave on. I go back to eating my lunch. Couple minutes go by. Guy goes to retrieve his Orville Reddenbacher and opens it on the counter...out comes the smoke monster from Lost. The popcorn is somehow both burnt and mostly unpopped. And he's irate.

"Oh my god. This always happens. I can't figure out what the hell you need to do!"

Ummm...you can't figure out how to microwave popcorn? This is a common occurrence? Wow. I am now officially terrified for the future of this company.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It's Showtime


Its official, in my opinion, Showtime is the new HBO. It has superseded the Home Box Office as the place where my favorite, must-see televisions shows reside. The tide started turning last year when in addition to Weeds, I started watching Californication (Duchovny is perfectly casted as Hank Moody, the sly-talking, self-destructive, shoot-from-the-hip, struggling novelist that the show is centered around). Then just recently, after several trusted sources vehemently recommended that I watch the show Dexter, I did. And that was the end of my internal HBO vs. Showtime debate.

While HBO has been hit (Flight) or miss (John from Cincinnati) lately, Showtime has been quietly churning out some of the best shows on TV. I urge everyone out there to watch the three shows listed above and please let me know if I should be watching one of their other shows.

Showtime Site

"I love women. I have all their albums." Hank Moody, Californication

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I Was Born To Lick Your Face


While flipping around last night, I noticed TV Land was screening Caddyshack...albeit with one whopper of a description:

Movie, Comedy (1980) Chevy, Rodney. Oddballs and gophers undermine a
country-club caddy out to win a college scholarship.


Is it possible to create a more insane, misleading and boring description of one of the all-time great comedies?! Seriously? Who undermined Danny Noonan? Was the college scholarship even that relevant of a plotline? It's not even close to the most important golf match of the movie. Also, Ted Knight doesn't get top billing with Rodney? Come on...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Tiger Woods Experience


Soon after we watched Tiger battle through 91 holes of inspiring golf, rolling in back-to-back birdies to raise his 3rd U.S. Open, we found out that he did it all with a stress fracture and that his season has come to an end. This news, undoubtedly, led to an industry wide “What the f**k are we going to do now” moment. TV Executives, Event Title Sponsors, FedEx, the PGA, Nike, Gatorade, etc. are all scrambling and rightfully so… they have all committed a lot of time, energy and money into Tiger’s game (aka the PGA Tour).

And it really is Tiger’s game at this point, isn’t it? His direct sponsors invested over $105 million into him this year alone. When he is in the field everything spikes: TV ratings, attendance, news coverage, it all goes up. I was trying to think of a parallel to the Tiger phenomena and it really doesn’t exist in popular sport. Typically, the sum is greater, and the sport (and even a team) can withstand injury to a great player… but not golf, not this day and age, not this player. I guess it is most similar to music and specifically bands difficulties overcoming the loss of their centerpiece. Sure, they can keep the band name, keep playing the same songs and they will still get the real diehards to come out and watch… but without Freddy, Queen is not Queen… without Slash, GnR concerts just don’t feel right... and there is no escaping it. The real fans may come, but they walk away whispering to each other that something was off. That while it was great to hear the songs, the environment never solicited the excitement and vibe that they have become accustomed too.

In a way, Tiger IS the frontman in the world’s biggest rock band. When he is playing, everyone else's shots seem more important, their game seems to be inspired and while the crowd loves Tiger… they also look as if they love the rest of the band more because he is playing. He has all the characteristics of a band leader too… he is the most confident and explosive of the bunch. It is not just the hip thrusting double fist pumps either… Tiger stands over a putt not wanting to make it, but with the feeling that he HAS to. Sometimes I feel like the rest of the field just doesn’t want to mess up. If Tiger is Jimi, they are the Experience and while individually they are fantastic musicians… it doesn’t seem right without Jimi up front wailing away on his manipulated Fender Strat. The Experience just wants to make sure to hit all the notes, to get to the end of the song. Jimi wants to stick some acid under his bandana and go on a 10 minute psychedelic solo that culminates with him brushing his teeth with his guitar. That’s Tiger. Tiger doesn’t want to just make the putt, he wants to brush his f’n teeth with it and that is why it’s his band.

I will keep watching, diehards always do, but it won’t feel the same… how could it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blogging Is Hard


Well, this blog has had quite a nap over the past year. After a strong surge of posts in late 2006, early 2007... we completely flat-lined and after a last ditch attempt to turn this place into something it wasn't, something easier, we died. What we tried to make the blog was not a bad thing, but it drifted away from our core values and what this place initially was meant to be; a stomping ground for our commentary on music, sports, news, movies, and any other form of culture that peaked the interest of 10CFP on a given day.

After recently looking back on it all, it became clear that we sort of missed it. Putting the pen to the pad on a daily basis not only gave us a warped sense of accomplishment, it was actually relaxing to a certain degree. And thankfully, unlike Dan Ackroyd's comedic timing, Freeze Pops are never lost for good. They may melt and turn into that liquid sugar that I was banned from as a kid, but they can always be put back into the freezer and in short order, mold into their proper form.

But the fact remains, blogging is hard. It is hard because everyone does it, because we have other jobs, because we have to consume media, TV, literature, sports, etc. to write about, because for 95% of us there is no tangible payoff. It is hard because we need more sleep now and because Celtics games end at sunrise. It is hard because we have DVR and Netflix to watch and Podcasts and Hypemachine to listen to. It is hard because everyone keeps sending me those damn Facebook applications. It is hard for a hundred reasons, but most of all it is hard because we want it to be good. We don’t want to post mindless, meaningless, trivial, bland, redistributed crap. We want the 4 or 5 people reading this thing to like it and to keep liking it.

But we missed it. So we have been rummaging around our cabinets, picking up all the unfrozen freeze pops, drinking a few grape ones, and getting them back to the way they are supposed to be.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

White Collar Boy- Belle and Sebastian

BBC studio shows rule....they emote Austin Powers at his peak. Belle and Sebastian can really bring it....one of the more unique bands, a sound that distinct and a good deal of fun. Plus, they are absolutely enormous in Scotland. In January 2005, B&S was voted Scotland's greatest band in a poll by The List, beating Simple Minds, Idlewild, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, and The Proclaimers, among others (source: Wiki). Go Stuarts!