Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Jam

How could I not close the year with the best party song of 2010? Ke$ha's Tik Tok hits every requirement a good party song needs. 1. A dance beat. 2. A killer hook. 3. A chick talking about brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels. When you have those three things in a song you're pretty much guaranteed party song of the year. So congrats, Ke$ha. We only hope you can one up yourself in 2011. Happy New Year ya'll.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Expanding Your Cinema Horizons- La Haine

Poverty, race, immigration, and violence are issues commonly dealt with in American films. Our history as the land of the "melting pot" make issues of race and class based conflict sometimes seem like an American issue. After all these issues are mainly urban issues and no one usually associates cities like London and Paris with the ghettos seen in Los Angeles and Brooklyn. However, in reality these issues have been rampant in the Paris suburban ghettos, called banlieues, since the late 1980s. Specifically, the area of Clichy-sous-Bois has been home to several episodes of rioting and extreme violence in the mid-1990s and 2000s. Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 film La Haine, which translates to "the Hate", details these urban struggles with a subtlety that American films on the subject lack, making La Haine not just a movie about French issues, but one that addresses it on a global scale.

The movie centers on the relationship between three friends of different backgrounds, Vinz (Jewish), Said (Muslim), and Hubert (African), as they live out a day inside and outside the banlieue. All three are angry over the beating one of their friends took from police the night before and the condition of their friend and potential retaliation is a constant theme throughout the film. Vinz, played by the excellent Vincent Cassel, finds a police officer's gun lost amidst rioting and the gun drags all three main characters deeper into the specter of violence the banlieue presents. However, unlike most films on this subject Kassovitz does an excellent job staying away from heavy-handed messages. All three characters waver from violent outbursts and bad decisions to moments of real self-reflection and all three actors do an excellent job of making their characters seem like real people instead of convenient personalities to push a single message. Kassovitz also journeys away from the banlieue into the heart of Paris to show how it isn't necessarily the place that has made them this way, but the attitude of the nation. Kassovitz stays away from easy answers to the questions the movie poses and the climatic ending is very fitting, and based on a real life event.

Outside of the message, the film is beautifully shot in black and white and the cinematography brings out the bleakness of the locale. Kassovitz also uses many different shooting angles and techniques that keep the movie interesting and provide great views of the people and buildings that make up their lives. The film is also dripping with the American hip-hop and gangster culture that permeated France in the mid 1990s. The characters seem like they would fit in in any American city and the mix of French traditionalism and American hip-hop culture produce some awesome set pieces and references, including this mix where a DJ blasting to the whole ghetto samples KRS-ONE and Edith Piaf.

La Haine is a wonderfully shot movie with deep and interesting characters, action, and amazing set pieces that tells the story of urban struggles. It may not have the pedigree of a Do the Right Thing, but it is brilliantly acted and does not force the message down your throat. It is one of the best foreign language films of the last twenty years and is a must watch for any film lover.

Marco Scutaro’s Incredibly Ridiculous Plate Discipline

Marco Scutaro is an especially interesting player with an incredibly underrated skill set that may go un-noticed to the average fan. While traditional statistics like home runs and a high batting average are what generate attention and excitement; the reality is that a successful MLB player is measured beyond that into more meaningful statistics that better demonstrate his true value and contribution. Taking a closer look at Marco Scutaro’s 2010 season I found that Scutaro possesses one of the greatest assets to any Major League team; tremendous plate discipline.

One of the best indications of a player’s plate discipline and meaningful at bats is his pitches seen per plate appearance. Rather, the ability to wear pitchers down and make consistent contact fighting off pitches. In 2010 Marco Scutaro ranked 1st in all of MLB shortstops and 29th in all MLB with 4.04 pitches per plate appearance. Additionally, Scutaro saw 2,808 pitches in total which was still 100 more than the next closest SS and ranked 15th in all of MLB.

To better demonstrate just how superior Scutaro’s plate discipline is to the rest of the league we can take a look at some more advanced statistics. Here is a look at some key statistics that measure plate discipline and how he fared against the league average.

Swing %
Scutaro: 37.5% (5th in all of MLB)
Avg : 45.6%

O-Swing % (swing% pitches outside the zone)
Scutaro : 19.4% (5th in all of MLB)
Avg : 29.3%

O-Contact% (contact rate outside the zone)
Scutaro : 87% (3rd in all of MLB)
Avg : 66.5%

Z-Contact % (contact rate inside the zone)
Scutaro: 97.4% (3rd in all of MLB)
Average: 88.1%

Contact %
Scutaro: 94.8% (1st in all of MLB)
Average: 80.7%

SwSt % (swing and miss %)
Scutaro : 1.9% (1st in all MLB)
Avg : 8.5 %

Looking at these numbers we see that Scutaro is extremely patient at the plate and rarely reaches outside of the zone to chase pitches. Even when he does get fooled and caught off balance he manages to make contact 87% of the time – 21% more than league average.

The other statistic that stands out is his remarkable 94% contact rate and 1.9% swing and miss percentage which ranked him 1st in both categories amongst all of MLB at any position.

In addition to a low swing % and high contact rate you can probably predict that Scutaro took his share of walks as well. In 2010 Scutaro had 53 walks ranking him 3rd amongst AL shortstops. The single most important thing a player can do at the plate is not make an out. For this reason it is best to measure a player based on his On Base Percentage (% times he does not make an out). Scutaro had a .333 OBP in 2010 ranking him 3rd amongst AL shortstops.

I leave you with this visual of Scutaro’s BB/K ratio against the league average. Even after a considerable drop off from a career year in 09’ he still ranked well above the league average SS in 2010.

(All data courtesy of Fangraphs)


Is This Real?

No? Good.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yao Ming and Bostjan Nachbar = Plane Party!!!

If there's one thing the Chinese do well its sweater fashion

The Internet Used To Be So Lame

You're looking at screenshots from the original Space Jam website. Was that really only 14 years ago? The internet was so fricken lame back then. Each page took light years to load and you had to look at stupid Times New Roman red font written on top of a black starry night background. Everyone knows black backgrounds are the absolutely worst to use when trying to get people to read any form of information. Space Jam the movie killed it but this website needs to step up its game. Stellar Souvenirs? Does Warner Bros. know anything about marketing? Every inch of this site should have had pictures of Michael Jordan on it. At least put some of Michael's Secret Stuff up for sale. That drink would sell as fast as the Jordan 11's.

Wake Up and Jam

Girl Talk - Knife / Wamp Wamp

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Expanding Your Cinema Horizons- Modern Times

Anyone who has even a cursory knowledge of film history knows that the biggest development in cinema's 100+ years was the development of synchronous sound technology in the late 1920s. However, what most people don't know is that this transition did not go as smoothly as people may perceive. The first major film with synchronous sound, The Jazz Singer, actually plays much more like a regular silent film that has some musical acts with synchronized sound. That film was released in 1927, and it wasn't until around 1930 that films had dialogue that is similar to what we see today. Outside of the technological problems associated with the switch to sound films, major industry stars fell by the wayside because they were unable to make the switch. In fact, a lot of the silent film stars were foreign immigrants whose thick accents caused them to fall out of favor with the studios. Silent film stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, and Buster Keaton all faded from oblivion, and even the biggest silent film star Charlie Chaplin only released two more major motion pictures (one the 1940 sound film The Great Dictator).

The other of Chaplin's two major releases, the 1936 silent film Modern Times, is generally regarded as the best of Chaplin's work and was both the last major silent film and the last appearance of Chaplin's legendary Tramp character. While all of these historical landmarks make the film important in its own right, Modern Times stands out because it is a snapshot of both the technological changes in the film industry and the United States and their effect on the American populous. The plot of the film is fairly basic, essentially it is a series of mishaps by The Tramp as he attempts to work various jobs such as factory worker, night watchman at a department store, and singing waiter and his continued failures that mostly lead to jail sentences. He even meets a young girl (played by Paulette Goddard) who helps the Tramp with jobs, housing, and company. The film isn't even really fully silent, as Chaplin uses synchronized sound effects, and even has some dialogue although it is very sparse.

Culturally, however, the film's message is all about the difficulty of man to adjust to technological advancements in industry. In 1936, the country was still recovering from the devastation caused by the Great Depression, and most people in blue-collar jobs still found themselves in and out of work. On top of that the increasing mechanization of assembly lines made many unskilled laborers unnecessary. The 1930s and 1940s were the beginning of America's shift into becoming a service economy and as Modern Times illustrates for many it was easy to get lost in the shuffle of unemployment and poverty. Chaplin always portrayed the Tramp as a clumsy, unintelligent everyman who succeeded in spite of his best efforts, and nowhere is he more likable than in Modern Times. Despite his struggles and mistakes, he is an easy character to root for and Chaplin's ending makes us hopeful that one day the Tramp and all like him will find their place in the sun.

Artistically, the film is also one of the best examples of mickey-mousing (synchronizing music and effects with on-screen action) and slapstick humor ever created. The film has several classic sequences such as the Tramp working in the assembly line, his time as night watchman, and even the Tramp's only words, a song of gibberish he sings to entertain the restaurant he works in. The most famous scene though is the one where the Tramp is selected to test out a modern feeding machine,

All of the scenes expertly show Chaplin's knack for comic acting, and his facial expressions and gestures say more than any words could. The movie is genuinely funny and interesting, and it runs at a quick 87 minutes so even if you have not seen a full silent film before, Modern Times is an easy one to start with, unlike say Birth of a Nation.

More importantly than the films humor, however, is that Modern Times is the perfect film to express an important part in film's history. As silent film faded away so too did various film stars, directors, acting styles, and scoring techniques. The transition to synchronous sound completely redefined film as a medium, and over time the silent-film era has become seemingly unimportant. Chaplin was criticized for making a silent film almost nine years after synchronized sound began, but what Modern Times shows is that there will always be a place for great acting, humor, and wonderful characters no matter their technological standing. After all, Modern Times was the third highest grossing movie of the 1936, partly on star power, but also because it is an excellent film. So add Modern Times to your Netflix queue, and enjoy a film that showcases silent film's biggest star as he adjusted to a changing Hollywood. It is as the Tramp says in the last title card of the film (and some say the silent film era), "Buck up- never say die! We'll get along."

Wake Up and Jam

Unless It's Kicks - Okkervil River

Monday, December 27, 2010

Notre Dame and Miami Players BANNED From Mexico

EL PASO, Texas -- Players from Notre Dame and Miami will not be allowed to cross the border into one of Mexico's most dangerous cities during their free time before the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly took his team's passports before the Fighting Irish flew to El Paso as a precaution. The Hurricanes didn't bring passports, either, and met with both local law enforcement and the FBI on Sunday shortly after arriving in Texas to further underscore the potential dangers of crossing the border.

Fans from both schools have also been urged to be cautious. El Paso borders the Mexican city of Cuidad Juarez, which is wrapped in a drug war. Officials say more than 3,000 people have been killed there this year alone, and the vast majority of crimes in the city are never investigated.

I'd be willing to wager serious money that 95% of The U had there gats packed up ready to throwdown with those crazy Cuidad Juarez Mexicans before they were even on the plane to El Paso. I mean have you see the 30 for 30 on The U? This is what these dudes live for. 3,000 people already killed over the year? Michael Irvin saw that in 4 weeks of Miami night clubbin. Once again, the NCAA cracking down on something they shouldnt stick their nose into. Im actually fully confident that Miami could have single-handedly ended the drug war between the amount of money they're given weekly and the fact that they could have intimidated the shit out of those drug-lords. You haven't messed with America until you mess with the streets of Miami.

Ps. Did they really have the take Notre Dame's passport's? No chance they were coming within 300 yards of the Mexican border.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wake Up and Laugh. Diana Taurasi Tests Positive for Steroids

NEW YORK -- Diana Taurasi is facing one of the most difficult challenges to her stellar basketball career.

The WNBA standout and former UConn star tested positive for a mild stimulant while playing in a pro league in Turkey, her lawyer told The Associated Press on Thursday night.

Neither Jacobs nor Fenerbahce confirmed that Taurasi tested positive for modafinil, which has been involved in several major doping cases, including that of U.S. sprinter Kelli White.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!! Fresh off Geno and the UConn chicks whining like Snooki about not getting enough attention, Diana Taurasi comes through and gives us all a laugh by testing positive for a banned substance. What a week for women's basketball. I'd give you more but I'm hungover and its Christmas Eve.

Yummy Beer

Terrible picture, but it was dark in the room.- Anywho, this is an Anchor Small Beer. Anchor brewing is one of America's oldest breweries and this particular style is an older style of beer that doesn't get made too much these days. Basically, small beer is beer brewed using mash that has already been used to make Barley Wine (Anchor's Barley Wine is called Old Foghorn if you're interested in trying both). Barley Wine's tend to have high alcohol content with intense flavors and a hard liquory taste; not something you could drink a whole lot of. At just a hair over 3% alc. Small Beer is a whole lot weaker. Think of it as a cup of tea made with a tea bag that's already been used a few times if my explanation doesn't make sense. As far as taste - this was the first time I've had a small beer and I wasn't over or underwhelmed by the taste. So I guess this beer is very whelming. It's technically an ale because it is fermented warm, but it drinks more like a lager - crisp, with less intense flavors. It's very unoffensive to drink so I think most people would enjoy it, I just like my beer to have a little more going on. In the end - it's all beer, and it's all yummy

Thursday, December 23, 2010

True Grit

I’m kind of a sucker for the Coen Brothers, so I feared that even before seeing it I would not be able to build critical distance from their newest film, True Grit, which already touts best picture buzz. Even with its prerelease praise and my affection for Joel and Ethan Coen, I left the theater a bit underwhelmed after this one.

Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Hailee Steinfeld giving her first feature film appearance were all excellent. Having not read the novel, I can’t speak to how faithful the film was, but after viewing trailers, I was surprised at how lighthearted the movie got at times. I sort of expected a rough and tough Coen western – which at times it was – but was a surprised by its buffoonery. There’s a scene in the film where Rooster Cogburn (Bridges), a drunken violent U.S. marshal gets involved in a heated metaphorical dick measuring competition with LaBoeuf (Damon), a proud Texas ranger who has spent months on the trail of the petty low ranking gang member Tom Chaney (Brolin) by throwing cornbread (a limited and necessary resource on their tiring search for Chaney) into the air and firing at it mid flight.

Cogburn is built up from the moment we actually see him as this ultimate badass as he sits in court, emotionless as he’s being grilled about what he calls self-defense, which really may have been murder. As the film continues to roll, though, Cogburn sort of becomes comparable to Jim in Mel Brooks’ classic 1974 western comedy Blazing Saddles struggling to sit up:

Bart: Need any help?

Jim: Oh… All I can get

The story is one of revenge. Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) is 14 years old. She’s incredibly smart for her age. Sometimes, she seems to be a bit too smart given the violent and unforgiving terrain of old Arkansas in which she lives. After all, the film takes place in a time where a woman’s role was much different than it is now. It was somewhat difficult to believe that Mattie could bully some of these hardened cowboys the way she does. Mattie wishes to avenge her father’s death by killing Chaney, the guilty party. She reaches out to Cogburn who is predictably reluctant to help with her search, and he predictably gives in. LaBoeuf wants Chaney for his own reasons, but the three make for a fun team to root for on their way to Chaney.

The acting shines, and I suspect Steinfeld has a long career ahead of her. I enjoyed this film, but it fell short of my expectations. I hold the Coens to a high standard as they have made some of my all time favorite movies, so maybe I’m jaded. The Coens always have humor in their films, regardless of subject, I’m just not so sure it works in True Grit as effectively in some of their prior films. In The Big Lewbowski, the comedy was witty, and abrasive, in Fargo it was grotesque, and in No Country for Old Men it was frightening. Here, it borders on slapstick, which is a tight squeeze for a movie about revenge in a violent south.

I remember leaving the theater after seeing No Country and someone said “Get your money back on that one!” It’s one of my favorite films personally, but I understood why a dude on a date would have been disappointed. It wasn’t a popcorn movie. It demanded more thought than the time spent in the theater actually watching it, which is the main reason I am so fond of the Coen Brothers filmography.

True Grit is a good popcorn movie, and a fun watch with terrific acting, but it isn’t a film I’ll be dwelling on for days, weeks, months or even years to come.

As a rating, I’ll give the classic, tried and true cliché response: It’s good for what it is.

Go Shopping and Jam

Sufjan Stevens - Come On Let's Boogey To the Elf Dance

It's Christmas and I forgot about the blog until now. Shoot me. As a treat, I present to you my favorite Christmas song performed by the multi-talented Sufjan Stevens (Although I will forever spite him for not following through on the 50 states, 50 albums concept and taking 5 years off from music...bastard)


Expanding your cinema horizons

So basically I wanted to do something else with the blog on a regular basis than just TV recaps, and I really like Dave's idea about doing movie reviews about older or less-well known films that I think people will really enjoy. In reality, I'm sure people will have heard of many of the films I do, and many are classic films that I enjoy and think added a lot to the legacy of cinema. I intend to do films of all types of genres, languages, and directors, but also am open to suggestions on classic or contemporary films that you think I should see and write on. Since I will be busy with school, TV recaps, and other life-related jazz I am aiming to do just two of these posts a week starting after Christmas. Here's a list of the first ten films I'm going to write about so you can get an idea of the types of movies I plan to do and when I aim to do them. For some reason I think Tuesday and Thursday will be a good time to post them so expect one every Tuesday and Thursday.

12/28- Modern Times
12/30- La Haine
1/4- Rififi
1/6- Fast, Cheap & Out on Control
1/11- McCabe and Mrs. Miller
1/13- Adaptation
1/18- Shadow of a Doubt
1/20- Singin' in the Rain
1/25- Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
1/27- Touch of Evil

That will take us to the end of January so get excited people.

HIMYM- False Positive

Season 6- Episode 12

For all of you out there who watch How I Met Your Mother, you will know that one of their familiar story techniques is the rapid fire, flashback and flashforward combination that fragments the storytelling. In HIMYM's earlier seasons they used this technique to create episodes that were very funny and had good character development (well for a traditional sitcom at least), and I was happy to see them use this style again in "False Positive". Season 6 has been mainly about advancing the characters to bigger life-stages, which at times has felt forced, although it is necessary since the show began to stagnate. However, "False Positive" did an excellent job taking the characters away from their journeys and to let them have a little fun for a bit.

The premise of the episode was that Marshall & Lily take a home pregnancy test that turns up positive, which causes Robin and Barney to start to reevaluate what they are doing with their lives. The episode goes back to this reveal several times to see how each major character reacts to this big reveal, and from there we see how everyone took the news. Robin decides that she needs to finally make a decision on her career move, and narrows it down to either taking a research job at a major news channel or being the new "coin flip bimbo" on the popular show Million Dollar Heads or Tails, hosted by Canada's own Alex Trebek. Barney takes the news as a sign that he should start to give away some of the money he has made to charity instead of buying a suit with diamond pinstripes. He does this first by doing his best Oprah imitation and giving away his favorite things to everyone at MacLarens , and second by donating to his brother's father's church.

However, what makes this episode more than just a very generic maturation story is the fact that early in the episode we find out that Marshall & Lily's positive test was incorrect. This leads to the funniest part of the episode where all of the earlier portrayals of them as a happy and excited couple were really them hiding how freaked out they were. They even attempt to do all the pre-birth activities in one night (baby-proofing the apartment, painting the nursery, playing Mozart for the soon to be child), although none of them go particularly well. This plotline was where I think the episode shined because it showed that Marshall & Lily were human after all. All season they have been pushing how much they both want a baby and it hasn't seemed realistic. I understand people can be excited for childbirth, but Marshall & Lily hadn't showed any of the natural jitters people experience when they decide to bring another life into this world. Outside of how funny their storyline was, this episode made me respect their characters again.

Now obviously the news of this false pregnancy makes both Robin and Barney rethink their righteous decisions and naturally they retreat back to what makes them happier in the short term. This is a very natural thing that everyone experiences and I liked how the episode addresses how major advancements in others' lives push us to make decisions we are not quite comfortable with. I can totally see Barney in a diamond suit, Robin flipping coins on TV while looking hot, and Marshall & Lily pushing off their baby fever for a while longer; however, for the sake of the show life must go on and it takes a not so subtle push from Ted to get them back on track. Ted can often be the most annoying character on the show, and most of the time it is him who needs to be pushed to do anything, yet his outburst to the rest of the group to grow up was well done. After all, Ted is the one they all confide in, and it is natural for him to want the best out of all of them. It's always fun to do what makes us happy in the moment, and it certainly is more fun to watch HIMYM when all five major characters are doing inane funny things, but the show one ups that by actually making us root for them to finish their journey. Sometimes the journey is only deciding to help the needy instead of buying the gaudiest suit of all time, but what the hell it's a step.

Grade: A-

Random Musings:
- I would watch the shit out of Million Dollar Heads and Tails. I swear nothing is better then watching people go for lots of money on what is essentially luck, AKA Deal or No Deal. However, like Deal or No Deal one season would be enough.
- It's tough to describe how the flashbacks affect the episode without being overly wordy, but watch the episode and you will see exactly how they played with different situations and lines multiple times.
- I give grades on these episodes mainly just because it is a really easy way to wrap-up the post. I would hope that the words before would give you an idea on how I feel the episode went, and the quality of an A differs greatly from show to show. The idea of them is to illicit discussion on the episode in the comment section, but I'm starting to see that not a lot of you readers watch the same shows as I. That being said, I love catching-up on TV so let me know in the comments a show you would like me to cover and I'll see if I can fit it into my schedule.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wake Up and Jam

Chiddy Bang - Old Ways

Shout out to Izzy Alcantara for the snipe.

Black Swan

I don’t know that any contemporary filmmaker gets more out of their actors than Darren Aronofsky. After seeing his latest flick, Black Swan, I imagine Aronofsky’s relationship with his lead actress Natalie Portman behind the cameras mirrored that of Portman’s character, dancer Nina Sayers with Thomas Leroy, played by Vincent Cassel, in their on screen quest for magnificence – without the psychological torture.

A competitive New York City ballet company is casting for a production of Tchaikovsky’s, “Swan Lake.” The ambitious Leroy wants to present the production in a new manner, which revolves around the idea of one dancer portraying both the cursed white, and evil twin black swan. Every dancer needs the lead role. An early competition between Sayers and company newcomer, Lily (Mila Kunis) is apparent, but the white/black swan metaphor does not revolve around two people. It revolves around one.

Portman is astonishing in this film. She is both bombastic and tender, and always balances the two opposites gracefully. She lets herself go freely in ways her character cannot.

This was the first I’ve seen of Kunis in a drama. As Lily, her motives are always a bit foggy, and for that, she Kunis deserves praise. There always seems to be ulterior motives to her actions, but they can’t quite be confirmed.

Again, I can’t imagine Aronofsky would appreciate the comparison, but I can’t help but picture him speaking with his actors the way Leroy does his dancers. This is a painful and tragic film, and perhaps his best of what I have seen. This is one that will stay with you for a while.

I’d like to add that I saw this movie a week ago, which is why I mostly stuck to surface level review and plot summary rather than any deep analysis. My hope is that in the future, I will be able to get writing immediately after viewing a film to give deeper insights to how I felt about it.

Also, rather than assigning arbitrary stars, numbers, or letter grades, I’m just going to go with a more conversational verdict.

So for Black Swan, I say definitely go see it. It’s dark, twisted, and scary at times. It has phenomenal acting and direction, and looks beautiful.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Great TV Recap

On the 8th day of finals my Pat Welch promised to me...4 TV Recaps and a Chaz in a Pear Tree. (The effect only works if you try to sing it)

Alright after that terrible Christmas pun to open, the truth of the matter is I did promise some TV recaps and only produced one. Since it has been some time since each of the episodes passed I thought I would do the other three quickly right here then tomorrow I'll catch up with this week. After this year's episodes culminate tomorrow with the Psych season finale, I'm going to list my Top 10 TV episodes of the year, so be ready for that on Thursday.

The Walking Dead- TS-19
Season 1- Episode 6 (Season Finale)

Unfortunately The Walking Dead continued its good episode, bad episode flow and ended the season on a fairly weak episode. The CDC provided a lot of potential for some semblance of civilization being left, but instead it was only a day before the site was scheduled to blow up. The episode did provide us with some interesting ideas to play with, it did not really provide any closure or excitement that will carry over until Season 2 premieres next Halloween. Essentially we learned that all civilization has been taken over and that it is some sort of virus that is causing this problem. There is no cure in sight and even one day of drinking and hot water does not change the fact that there are still a ton of zombies waiting for our gang next season. The episode did finally resolve the missing grenade issue, who knew Carol had it?, and ended with a beautiful shot of the explosion with "Tomorrow is a Long Time" playing. Some storyline we have to hold on to until next Season: the increasingly awkward and dangerous Shane/Lori dynamic, what exactly Jenner told Rick at the end of the episode, Dale and Andrea's newfound (and potentially one-sided) feelings. Also, goodbye Jacqui, we hardly knew ye (Seriously we hardly knew you. I don't think you had any meaningful screen time. Was T-Dog your husband?)

Grade: B

HIMYM- The Mermaid Theory
Season 6- Episode 11

This was a pretty standard episode of How I Met Your Mother, with Barney once again coming up with a theory on how we see and treat women. This one was actually one of the better recent ones, with Barney commenting on how continued contact with average or below average looking girls (manatees) eventually turns them into someone you are attracted to (mermaids). I think this is one of the more believable theories Barney has come up with, although the back-story of how pirates used to hallucinate on long voyages was a little over the top. This part of the episode did produce some great sight gags, especially Robin in the manatee suit, and overall I did like how they addressed how Marshall and Robin seem to simply be friends by association (their love of cold-weather sports notwithstanding). The other half of the episode was fairly weak, however, with Ted going on a boating trip with Zoe's husband "The Captain" and Ted believing that he was going to get killed at sea. It was a subtle push towards the inevitable Ted/Zoe pairing and overall the episode did not really have that much to offer. Although I did really love Marshall's blown- up photo of The Captain's face showing how his eyes and mouth offer mixed emotions.

Grade: B

Psych- We'd Like to Thank the Academy
Season 5- Episode 13

This episode was a welcome change from how bad "Dual Spires" was. Instead of running theme, they used a guest star, Ralph Macchio, well and put Gus and Shawn in funny situations from the very start of the episode. This episode also moved forward in answering one of the lingering questions in the show; how do Shawn and Gus get away with their blatant disregard for police procedures? I assumed they might address this with Shawn's dad taking a job with the SBPD, and I'm happy that we got to see how terrible Shawn and Gus are at actual police work. The mystery was a little lacking, although I did enjoy the shoot-out at the supermarket as the finishing point. Still the quality of the show is not nearly as high as any of the Season 2 episodes, and there has been no movement at all in the Jules-Shawn relationship. I feel like Psych is just in a state of stagnation and they are hoping people won't care as long as the Yin-Yang trilogy ends up alright. I for one would still like to see the show perform on a consistent basis, but right now I'll settle for more episodes like this one.

Grade: B+

Well that catches up on everything but this week. I'll update those tomorrow, and due to the network Christmas break it will be Psych heavy, but don't worry the season is over tomorrow so you can hear more about shows you may actually watch.

The Sad Story of Brandon Roy

Once on of the brightest young stars in the NBA, Brandon Roy's engine is currently riding on the lowest gear. After a meniscus tear in his left knee left him hobbled in April of last year, Roy opted for surgery in order to help the blazers "if they advanced in the playoffs," his own words. Roy's surgical procedure came on April 15, just three days before the 2010 playoffs began. With the Blazers down 2 games to 1 in the opening round of the playoffs to Phoenix, Roy pushed coach Nate McMillan and then-GM Kevin Pritchard for a return in game 4 on April 24, a mere 9 days after his surgery. The coach and GM obliged. Roy played 26, 19, and 37 minutes respectively over the final three games of the Blazers season as they bowed-out to the Suns 4 - 2.

Any competitive player in the league would have asked to play those games if he even felt 60% ready to go. Brandon Roy is a competitor. As inefficient as he was (check out his lines) the Blazers management felt he would give them the best chance to win. But at what cost? With a little more than a 1/4 of the season finished in the NBA, Roy has looked like a sliver of the player he once was.

His stats are worse now than they were his rookie year. The 5th year veteran is shooting a career worst 39.8% from the field and only grabbing 3 rebounds/game compared to the 4.6 he's averaged the past 3 seasons. His first step is completely gone as he's been unable to create the open looks for himself he once used to thrive on. And he's been unable to defend quicker 2-guards.

Is it fair to place the blame solely on the management for Roy's decline in production? Probably not. Yet, it's very fair to say that McMillan and Pritchard should have told Roy to stay in street clothes last spring after his surgery.

There's a scary similar case to this involving Tim Duncan. Duncan injured his knee on April 11 of the 1999-2000 season (his 3rd year; remember, Roy was in his 4th) and sat out the remainder of the season. The Spurs were coming off a championship the year before and could have competed for a repeat with a healthy Duncan. Yet, Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford thought of the future of their franchise and sat Duncan in the playoffs (a first round exit to, wouldn't you know it, the Suns). The rest is history as Duncan led the Spurs to three more championships and solidified himself as the best Power Forward of all time.

Again, in no way am I saying that Blazers management is solely to blame here. Roy has had a history of bad knees since playing at Washington University. Yet, with this knowledge and the type of all-around player Brandon Roy was evolving into, was it worth playing him 9 days after knee surgery in a year where the Blazers were coming no where close to a Finals appearance? Absolutely not.

Wake Up and Jam

Wilco - Heavy Metal Drummer

Monday, December 20, 2010

Im sitting at home watching the Heat-Mavericks put on an entertaining first half and Mama Cal goes "What is that logo????" Now, in order to get my mother interested in a sporting event there needs to be one of the following:

1 - A player she finds attractive (Tom Brady)

2 - The very very end of a close game

3 - Something completely out of place that catches here eye

That's basically it. Well about 30 minutes ago Mama Cal looks up from her book and found something that caught her eye. She started laughing and explained that the Miami Heat logo looked like a pacifier. And wouldnt you know, it does. And then she laughed some more and said "awww baby LeBron is playing for the pacifiers." Which I actually found pretty funny. Has this joke been done before? Is it just my mother and I who think the Heat logo looks like a pacifier? Whatever, Karim Garcia was slow today and I didn't want to feel the disappointment of another two days back to back Wake Up and Jam's.

Peanut Butter and Jam

Modest Mouse - 3rd Planet

Alright so we're all on break after a stressful week of finals and I just woke up. Dont hate the player hate the game. Expect big things from Karim Garcia this week.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wake Up and Jam

Andrew Bird - Plasticities

Mr Bird is one of the most talented musicians Ive come across. Admire his brilliance with this absolutely astounding live show courtesy of 'In The Basement'

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yummy Beer

This post is about the bigger bottle pictured. I hope everyone knows what the smaller of the two tastes like. If you can't read the label clearly, this grandiose brew is made by Ipswich Ale and is called Hosiery Mill Double I.P.A. At 1.5 liters this bottle contains roughly 4.25 regular sized beers. At 9.2% alcohol it drinks like a whole lot more than 4.25 regular sized beers. I expected it to taste a lot more bitter than it did. Double I.P.A.'s basically use 50% more malt (sweet, roasty taste), and 100% more hops (bitter, fruity taste) than a single I.P.A. so I thought this beer was going to be a kick in the teeth, but it was actually pretty pleasant. You could definitely taste the extra alcohol but I didn't think it was any more bitter than your standard Sierra Nevada. Noof tried a glass and it didn't taste the way he expected either, so I don't think it was just me.
Overall- yummy beer. Only complaint is how cumbersome the bottle is. I'd much prefer it as a bomber or in a six pack so I could carry it around in my travel lunch box cooler thing. Also, you need to drink it in one sitting. Once you open it, you can't really recap it and save it for later. It's best if you share it with a couple friends so every glass poured is fresh... if you don't like to share, try your best to keep it cold and drink it fast!

and be ready for a headache- remember 9.2%!!

Paper Writing Jam

I don't want to steal Cal's thunder since I really enjoy his wake-up jams, but I've been up writing papers for the last 72 hours, so I thought for those doing the same thing I'd provide them with the song thats helped me stay sane. This jam comes from the trance/electronic band Crystal Castles and its methodical beat and hypnotic lyrics make it the perfect song to blast in your headphones while you attempt to write 12 pages in 7 hours.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Only 11 More Days Before the Celtics Start Saving Their Legs

So we're a quarter of the way through the NBA season. I'd like to take this time to amuse you with some random thoughts on the season thus far.

• First and foremost, the Boston Celtics continue their ritual of dominating the first 2 months of the NBA season. Much like the guarantee that Drew Gooden will be on a new team next year (10 teams in 9 years!) the Celtics are making this early season success a yearly lock. At the same time, you have to admire the type of ball they are playing. Rajon Rondo is controlling the pace of the game as well as anyone in the league right now. He's officially a pass-first point guard, backing that up to the tune of 13.8 asst/game. Rondo's success can be attributed to the health of Kevin Garnett. Last year, Garnett's knees made it look like he was going to turn into a better-rebounding Zydrunas Ilguaskas over the next couple years. And paying a man 18.8 million to shoot jumpers and not be able guard anyone with above average quickness would not have sat well with the C's management. But Garnett looks rejuvenated. Clearly putting the time in the gym to rehab his knee this offseason, Garnett is looking like a little lesser version of his MVP self from 2007. I'm not holding my breath on him staying healthy all year but the improvement is surely encouraging. And yet, as much of a surprise KG has been, the biggest (literally) surprise of the year has to go to the newly acquired Shaq. The most underrated story in Boston (IMO) is Shaq's unbelievable effectiveness and willingness to adapt to his role as a bench player. Shaq has a 21.07 player efficency rating, good for 11th in the eastern conference. He's been banged up of late, but a healthy Shaq come postseason time, along with the rock solid play of PP, Ray, and Big Baby, bodes very well for the Celtics

• I'll keep this brief, as the coverage on the this team has been Favre-esque, but I really think the Heat are a year away. Even with this recent 9-game win streak (which boasts only 2 wins over teams with winning records) the Heat just do not have the depth to match-up with the Celtics, Magic, and maybe even the Bulls in the East. The Celtics have showed the last 3 years they can beat a one-man show. And that's what happens when Wade or Lebron go to the bench (there's no convincing me at this point that Chris Bosh is anything but a celebrated LaMarcus Aldridge). Give the Heat one more year to get some depth and maybe I'll consider them a serious contender.

• The San Antonio Spurs are going to win the West. Book it. Even with the Spurs 20-3 start, the Lakers are still a -220 to win the West. Pretty ridiculous when the Lakers have yet to show that they can guard a team that shoots well and has quick guards. And wouldn't you know thats exactly what the Spurs do best. Add in the fact that this torrid start has occured with Tim Duncan averaging a legs-saving career low 28.8 Mins/Game, and you can see why the Lakers should be hotly contested come playoff time.

• John Wall and Blake Griffin are really really good and they are really really young. Crazy exciting players. That is all.

• The NBA has its been collection of point guards it has ever had and they are all going to get paaaiiiddddd. With Mike Conley signing an absurd 5 year $45 million extension with the Grizzlies, a collection of young point guards can all expect to get equal to greater money than Moneybags Mike. Tyreke Evans, Steph Curry, and Brandan Jennings can all expect to get greater dollars than Conley if they continue to produce at the rate they do for the next two seasons. And then you look at a guy like Ray Felton, who just signed for a two-year deal worth 15 mil, and you have to believe he's salivating to sign a new deal after seeing Conley get 9 mil per/year (CBA pending).

Money aside the point guard position might be the NBA's deepest right now. The talent influx over the past 5 years has been astounding. Personally, I love breaking stuff down into tiers and feel it gives a realistic view of value. For instance, cars are always looked at from a tier point of view. So let's spin our point guard rankings that way:

Rolls Royce/Lambo/Masserati (Tier 1)

Stylish with their own flare.

1. Chris Paul - No one is touching CP3's overall game at this point. He really deserves to be on a championship contending team but he's crazy loyal to New Orleans at this point. One day...

2. Russell Westbrook - As of today he is my MVP of the league. About a month ago the Thunder were struggling to live up to the pre-season hype. Durant does down with an injury and it looked as though the OKC would go into a tailspin heading into a game IN Boston. Mr Westbrook proceeded to drop 31 points on the Cs, outplay Rajon Rondo, and completely turn the season around for the Thunder. Which is why he is ahead of...

3. Rajon Rondo - Averaging a mind-blowing 13.8 assts/game is only good enough for 3rd best point guard in the NBA in this man's opinion.

4. Derrick Rose - Improved jumper has made him virtually impossible to guard when he's hitting his shot. And yet Rondo eats he and the Bulls alive. Until he proves he can outplay Rajon I have to put him #4

5. Deron Williams - Will get killed for putting him this low but I've never trusted him in big games. Seems to hide and not play to his strengths when his team needs him most. Bring on the haters.

BMW/Lexus/Benz (Tier 2)
Flashy and Consistent

6. Steve Nash - Kills me not to be able to put him in the Rolls Royce tier. One of my favorite players to watch over the last 10 years. Playing this year with a team that you could argue has 8 small forwards, he has played admirably. Would still take 1-5 over him on this date though.

7. John Wall - Idea of the century: Instead of the crap 3 on 3 celebrity games the NBA fools around with on All-Star weekend (a weekend the league takes very seriously) why not have an hour long combine? Here are some ideas to put in: A vertical leap where the backboard is used to measure the inches/also shows how high above the rim these guys can get off 2 feet. A bench press for the big guys in the league (although I don't think anyone could compete with Dwight Howard for the next 8 years). Finally, the crowd favorite, a full court sprint down and back between the fastest players in the NBA. You would have to use heats to determine the final 5 or 6 players competing but imagine this for a final 6: LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, Chris Paul, Monta Ellis. Who wouldn't watch that? My moneys on the John Dougie Wall but it would be hella entertaining.

8. Steph Curry - Can we officially drop the "en" from his name because Steph Curry just sounds like a guy who could rain 8 3's on a team any given night. I'm a huge fan of Steph only because of the rave reviews that have come out of G-State for his willingness to learn the point guard position to keep Monta Ellis happy. Plus when I correctly picked Davidson to go to the Elite 8 in 2008 I developed a massive man-crush on him.

9. Raymond Felton - My vote for most improved player through the first quarter of the season. You gotta give Donnie Walsh credit for rebuilding the Knicks piece by piece after Lebron took his talents to South Beach.

10. Tony Parker - Proven. Has great percentages. Not as quick as he once was and has split some time at point with Geroge Hill but this guy still scares the hell out of me with his creativity.

Toyota/Nissan (Tier 3)
Solid but you know what you're getting

11. Brandon Jennings - Based on the caption of this tier Jennings may not belong here. Personally, I think the 50 point game he dropped last year still has casual fans thinking he's better than he really is. 39% from the floor, 37% from 3, and 75% from the line gives him worse percentages than any other player listed thus far. Couldn't put him any higher than this based on those facts.

12. Devin Harris - Perfectly defines this tier. Very solid player who would mesh perfectly with 3 or 4 of better players. Never thought Dallas should have given him up as he's above average defensively compared to the porous defense the next man on our list plays. Now Harris sits in lowly New Jersey waiting for Mr Russia to surround him with a team. At #12 on our list though

13. Jason Kidd - Can still run a fastbreak better than everyone on this list save Rondo and CP3. His knowledge of the game and his ability to hit the 3 put him ahead of a lot of guys more skilled than he is.

14. Mike Conley - There's no way Chris Wallace sat down and ranked the point guards in the league when he signed Mike Conley to that ludicrous deal. The #14 point guard, while more than formidable, is not worth 9 mil a year.

15. Chauncey Billups - Chauncey has lost more than just a step; he's lost his swag. At one point considered Mr. Big Shot, he now is on a team without an identity as Carmelo continues to keep the team in disarray with his demands to play in New York. I wish I could say Chauncey may be higher on this list in the future, but I just don't see it.

16. Andre Miller - Had to push this tier to 6 for two reasons. 1. Brandon Jennings really doesn't fit. And 2. Andre Miller is another player that defines "knowing what youre gonna get out of him." Not flashy at all but a veteran who can lead a team to victories. Considering he's the 16th rated PG out of 30. That's pretty damn good.

Reliable in the right situation

17. Jrue Holliday - He's quick and shifty, extremely young, sees the floor well, and has good touch around the rim. If the Sixers didn't cripple their franchise with the Elton Brand contract they may have been able to make a run at a big-time scorer last summer who would have fit in wonderfully with Jrue and Iggy. But that's a story for another day.

18. Darren Collison - I feel like there's a pretty big dip after Holliday. I had high hopes for Collison after he took over for CP3 and put up 80% of his stats. But Collison has been anything but CP3-like this year averaging only 13 and 4 assts. Still young and like his potential but thought he would be better this year

19. Eric Bledsoe - I refuse to put Baron Davis on this list after seeing him get booed ferociously by Clippers fans after he CAME BACK from an injury. Bledsoe, on the other hand, is a guy that works hard and has some crazy athletic ability. Has an erratic personality and his skills aren't quite there yet though. Yet, it's only a matter of time before he takes the reigns in Clipperville.

20. DJ Augustin - I really dont like him at all but we needed a round number to finish this thing out. Plus it was a choice between him, Beno Udrih, Jordan Farmar, Mike Bibby, and Jose Calderon and DJ Augustin was by far the best name out of all of them.

21 - Sebastian Telfair - THROUGH THE FIRE!!!!!!!


Gay Sex Banned at World Cup 2022

JOHANNESBURG — FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted Monday that the votes to award World Cups to Russia and Qatar were based on developing soccer and had nothing to do with money. He also noted that the world's biggest soccer tournament will have to adjust to more than just the sweltering desert heat when it takes its party-like atmosphere to the Middle East in 2022. Blatter said that homosexual fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" that are illegal in Qatar. Drinking alcohol also is restricted in the country, but Blatter hopes soccer's universal appeal will bridge cultural differences at the 2022 World Cup.

Good start to the 2022 World Cup. No gay sex, which for soccer means no sex at all, so that's gonna be an issue. This is going to be a tough adjustment for World Cup fans to make. Gay sex has been a staple of World Cup festivities for years. Maybe this information should have been brought to the table during the decision making process, that definitely would have given the US an advantage.

And good luck with trying to keep people from drinking in public before their country's World Cup game. I can't wait to see how FIFA reacts when the UN has to step in to negotiate the release of a thousand drunken Europeans from Quatar prisons, that will look really good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wake Up and Jam

I listened to this song probably 37 times this weekend. It's pure hot fire. I never thought Ke$ha (always respect the $) could come close to creating a party song that would touch Tik Tok, a song I drunkenly claimed should be in the billboard top 40 in 20 years, but We R Who We R is slowly approaching. Bravo, Ke$ha.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Psych- Dual Spires

Season 5- Episode 12

I hate to continue to bring up Community, but the thing that makes their parody episodes a success is that despite the numerous references to other movies or TV shows, the show is still grounded by the relationship between its main characters. The same, however, cannot be said of Psych, which since Season 3 has done this type of one note tribute with increasing frequency. Tonight's episode (it actually aired on Dec. 1st, but I've been busy) takes a hard look at one of James Roday's favorite shows, Twin Peaks. If you are wondering what the hell Twin Peaks is you are certainly not alone. The show began airing in 1990 and only survived a two season run before being cancelled. The show is famous both for its creator David Lynch, one of the premier directors of what could be called surrealist film, and the fact that many consider it to be on of the most quality shows ever put on TV. If you have seen any of Lynch's movies (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive) you'll know that he likes to look at the utopian portrayal of the American suburb and put a spin on it. This is true of Twin Peaks where the murder of the Homecoming Queen, Laura Palmer, commences the unraveling of the seemingly perfect community she lived in.

Psych takes this idea of a perfect community and replicates it on the small scale (their fictitious town Dual Spires only has 288 residents), while keeping the murder the same. The plot begins with Gus and Shawn receiving a random and eerie email inviting them to Dual Spires' cinnamon festival, which they of course decide to attend. They arrive in Dual Spires and find that it is oddly quaint and old-fashioned. They don't appear to have any modern technology and Gus is the only black person they have seen in ages, and in one of the episode's funnier moments is mistaken for Frederick Douglas. However, what commences after the body is discovered runs about the same as every Psych episode the last two seasons. Shawn and Gus begin to awkwardly investigate the murder, while Juliet and Lassiter show up to make things a little more difficult for them. They slowly patch the clues to come up with one conclusion, which is complicated by the death of a minor episodic character, and eventually figure it out just in time to saved by Juliet and Lassiter. If this all sounds familiar it is because pretty much every police procedural uses it now.

This leads me to the major problem I had with this episode, which is unless you were familiar with the original show it was boring and confusing. Most of the humor came from knowing how the original show operated and from seeing the original actors in different roles, although one did reprieve an older role he played in Psych. Throughout the episode I found myself using wikipedia and imdb to try and see who the actors played and what some of the references were. This made it impossible to get into any viewing rhythm, and by the end of the episode I was less than satisfied. In Season 1 and 2, the murder mysteries took a backseat to the relationships between Shawn and Gus, Shawn and his father, and Team Psych vs. the SBPD. The mysteries were not complicated, but the show was still genuinely funny and you actually cared about what was going. This culminated in what was a great Season 3, where they were able to have episodes that produced some real emotional drama. That was the show that I fell in love with, but over the last two seasons, the proliferation of tribute episodes and the lack of any non-superficial character development has really dragged down its quality. The major development this season was Shawn and Juliet finally becoming a couple, but despite the fact that five years of viewing was rewarded , the moment seemed boring. It's getting to the point where the only time the show is excellent anymore is when they bring in a good guest star (this season's Viagra Falls), do a broad-based theme episode (last season's High Noon-ish), or change up the format (last season's Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark).

This season only has three more episodes (not counting the one two nights ago) left before they get back to the drawing board for Season 6. We still have the inevitable finish to the Yin-Yang trilogy, but outside of that I would like one more strong episode to make me feel confident that Psych hasn't lost its touch for good. Next weeks Christmas episode would be a good place to start, although the fact that it is based on It's a Wonderful Life doesn't bode well. Sometimes it's sad to abandon a TV show you love, but Psych is seriously slacking.

Grade: C-

Random Musings:
- I doubt anyone reading this blog actually watches this show besides me, so I shall spare you from in-depth quotes.
- That being said, despite my hatred for this particular episode, Seasons 1-3 were excellent, and even Season 4 was good. If you are looking for a funny, light-hearted show to catch-up with, it's on Netflix instant play. It may be no The Wire or Breaking Bad, but I still enjoy it.

Wake Up and Jam

Weezer - El Scorcho

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Community- Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

No matter how much we enjoy them, the feelings we have for certain holidays inevitably change over time. As we progress through the stages of our lives, it is natural to have a certain love/hate relationship with our holidays of choice. For example, my enthusiasm for both the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve has increased tenfold now that I am older than the legal drinking age. Still that does not mean I won't always remember when the Fourth meant fireworks and trips to Gloucester on my Uncle's boat, or when I struggled on New Year's Eve to stay awake until midnight. Yet, none of these holidays pale in comparison in terms of grandeur to the Christmas season, which dominates the entire month of December and arguably even a few weeks before and after that. Christmas is a whirlwind of family, shopping, wrapping paper, familiar music, time off, and eggnog, but most importantly one of routine and tradition. Sadly, these traditions must change over time as people grow old, move away, and even pass away, and that can make for times when Christmas is bittersweet.

This is the central story of Community's stop-motion Christmas Special, Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas, as Abed and the gang (well mainly Abed) seek to find the meaning of Christmas. Abed sees everyone stop-motioned animated and begins to act very odd, so the group enlists Professor Duncan, resident Psychology professor and Christmas wizard, to help him gain back his sanity. This involves the gang playing along as Abed takes them to his Christmas planet, where they journey Willy Wonka style to find the true meaning of Christmas. Along the way, group members drop out who don't truly care to find Christmas' meaning (Jeff-in-the-Box is eaten by Humbugs!), and Duncan shows up along the way in an attempt to push Abed towards finding the repressed memory that caused him to crack. With the help of mainly Pierce, Annie, and Troy, Abed finds that the real meaning of Christmas is the DVD of Lost Season 1, or as he terms it, lack of payoff...but wait, in reality Abed is just coping with the fact that his mother will not be visiting him on December 9th for the first time, and the gang steps in to sing him back into the Christmas spirit. In Abed's words the true meaning of Christmas is that Christmas has meaning.

The episode did not have quite the laughs or crazy antics I expected from a stop-motion animated Christmas special, but overall it was classic Community. While last weeks episode went for sentimental and fell short, this one was a perfect example of why I love this show. Amidst the robotic Pterodactyls, humbugs, and songs was the story of a young man seeing his family start to slide further apart, and his journey towards acceptance. Abed lacks the social or emotional skills to accept loss in a normal way, so the idea that he would use the backdrop of Christmas specials and songs to help out makes perfect sense. Community does an excellent job of making you care for the characters no matter how insane the premise is, and the scene where the study group returns to lift Abed's spirits was very well done, even though you could tell there was some touch up done to their singing work. I also loved how spot-on all of Abed's Christmas visions of the gang were, especially Jeff as essentially a talking head. Mostly, though I loved how the episode was very different from what I expected, but just as good. I expected this episode to keep me laughing from start to end, and while it was funny, instead the gags were smart and set-up the ending perfectly.

As a Senior in college, I'm getting to the point in my life where Christmas will no longer mean a long break from school, and a time to see all of my immediate family members. Soon we will all have jobs and families that will keep us from getting together every December. Christmas may start to be about travel and logistics, which are the two things I always hear from people as to why they hate Christmas. Still, as Abed says the importance of the holidays is to make meaning of whatever you want. Whether is it the little things (listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas music, peppermint hot chocolate, Christmas lights covered in snow) or the big things (seeing the people you love, giving or receiving the perfect gift), Christmas is only as perfect as you make it. Take time to actually enjoy the hassle of shopping, have a beer with family and friends, or maybe do the thing that made you love Christmas in the first place. After all, sometimes all it takes is for good friends to sit down and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to make somebody's holiday.

Grade: A

Random Musings:
- Sorry if this post was overly sentimental, but I enjoy Christmas and wish more people felt the same way.
- There was not a lot of great one-liners in the episode, but a ton of great sight gags. I would say Pierce as a teddy bear was my favorite.
- I would love to see what was happening in real life as Abed led them on their journey. They must have used all of the Study room.
- Clay Alison Brie just isn't the same.
- I've been way behind on my TV recaps due to finals, but over the next few days will churn them out. I'm going to do one a day as follows: Psych-Dual Spires, The Walking Dead- TS-19, HIMYM- The Mermaid Theory, Psych- We'd Like to Thank the Academy, and over break I will catch up on Friday Night Lights, Top Chef All-Stars, and Chuck as well as continue with Community, Psych, and HIMYM. The Walking Dead's season is over.
- Post your thoughts in the Comments.

Darren Spang has some advice for P.K Subban

I don't know how this video hasn't gotten more press. I guess it was a mistake, but you'll have trouble convincing me this word mix-up would have happened if he was talking about just about any, with the exception of like three, other players in the NHL. Let's look at that last bit from Darren Spang:

"He's full of life, full of personality, he's the gregarious sort. The more gregarious he got the more people wanted to settle him down."..."You almost feel bad for P.K cuz he's got a lot of personality, but it's time to settle down a little bit and be a pro."

I hope Spang doesn't really think he fooled anyone with this. First of all I don't he's using gregarious in it's proper context. I can't imagine how being fond of company would translate to effort in hockey games. The way I'm reading this, the NHL finally has an Ochocinco that fans can enjoy, but analysts like Darren Spang wanna keep him and his gregariousness down because its not a normal part of hockey.

Wake Up With Rex Ryan (ew). Jam with CuDi

Kid CuDi - Soundtrack 2 My life

Screw Webber. The Wake Up and Jam will always live, even if its the second post of the day.

Rex Ryan is such a good coach

"Ryan gathered his players around a hole in the ground, just off a grass practice field, and placed a football into the earth -- a game ball from Monday night's embarrassing 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots."

As a team, the Jets didn't bother to review the tape of the game, although many players watched it on their own. It didn't get any better the second or third time.

Gotta love the strategy here by Rex. These are flawless strategical tactics if you want to prepare a team for the playoffs. Honestly this must be whats going through his mind:

"We gotta put the New England game behind us. You know what we should do? Bury one of the game ball's from that massacre in a practice field near by. I doubt Sanchez will remember how terrified he was or how badly he crumbled under pressure if he has to walk by a spot in the dirt where a ceremony was held to make us 'forget' how badly we were beaten."

"I don't think we need to watch that New England tape as a team. Sure they exploited all of our flaws, and ya we'll most likely have to face them again in the playoffs if we plan on getting to the super bowl, but I just want my team to forget about it. There's nothing on that tape that can be useful to us, like how New England ripped through our defense so easily, or how Marky Mark had no idea what the hell was going on against their coverage. No, we're just gonna forget about this game and move on."

This is a great reminder of why the Jets aren't a team to worry about when Rex Ryan is coaching. I know they made a playoff run last year, but at some point Rex is going to have to realize the dumb goofy shit you do and say at practice or at a press conference doesn't translate to anything come Sunday. You think any great coach wouldn't watch that film with his team, this is coaching 101. The best time to watch film is in a bad loss. Players don't give a fuck about film when they're watching a victory, there's no point to caring- you won. Any team that wants to get better will watch a film of them getting beat on, because it shows the necessary improvements that need to be made.

On Tuesday, Ryan compared his team's plight to that of the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears, who lost a late-season Monday night game and went on to win the Super Bowl.

There's no way he can honestly think the Jets are this good right. I know this guy's a fucking idiot, but there's no way he could have honestly felt this was a reasonable comparison. A good coach would also realize that the Jets just lost their most crucial weapon they've had all season, their mouths. The Jets have backed up most of their talk this season, with the exception of course of coach Ryan's statement that Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the league. However, after this rout, where Ryan talked shit about Brady and how he's the only person who doesn't think he's the best QB in the league, there isn't much that other teams have to take seriously when it comes to the Jets. Their coach is a joke, LT and Shonn Greene get less and less productive every week, Braylon Edwards still can't catch a pass, and their defense is weak through the air. Either way I'm sure Rex will have plenty to say come this weekend about how unbeatable the Jets are, probably guarantee a super bowl berth or something along those lines.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

T.I is Back: No Mercy Is Killin It

Yesterday T.I dropped his new album, No Mercy, his first album since being released from federal prison for gun charges. T.I went into prison on a high note, with his previous album, Paper Trail, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 568,000 copies in its first week. Paper Trail also had four songs reach the top 5 of the Billboard 100 (Swagga Like Us, Live Your Life, Whatever You Like, Dead And Gone). Paper Trail was packed with hits from beginning to end even beyond the Billboard hits, including Swing Ya Rag, Every Chance I Get, and Whatever You Like Ft. Rihanna. TI’s went into prison as the king of the rap community, being able to back up his verses with street cred, I mean he was arrested for gun trafficking, and also being able to write one hell of a hook (the chorus of Every Chance I Get is one of the most ballin things ever said in the history of the spoken and written word). TI left rap fans wanting more as he entered prison, and curious about what kind of rhymes would come out of a 1 year sentence.

One of the difficulties that comes with making a great album is that it leaves your fans with raised expectations of what’s coming next. Such is the case with TI’s No Mercy. If a listener plans on trying to enjoy the album by comparing it to Paper Trail, they’re going to be disappointed. No Mercy isn’t better than Paper Trail, and TI most likely won’t come out with an album better Paper Trail in his career, it was just too good. No Mercy, and more importantly TI, deserves a lot of credit for being different than Paper Trail. Based on the consistency of songs on Paper Trail, it’s clear TI has a winning formula to making hits, that he could have repeated on No Mercy and made mainstream rap fans just as happy as they were in 2008 when Paper Trail dropped. TI went the other way on No Mercy, writing more meaningful verses and much more creative choruses than we’re use to hearing on the radio.

The biggest flaw in No Mercy is, strangely, the lack of TI. He only has 3 songs on the album where he’s the only artist. I don’t mind it too much because most of his features do a pretty good job, but aside from Eminem and Kanye, none of them are even close to TI. His solo songs, “Salute”, “Everything On Me”, and “Big Picture” are all great. “Everything On Me” is similar to a Paper Trail tracks like “I’m Illy”, with a catchy chorus and a club beat mixed with TI’s swaggered up verses, where he rhymes about droppin cash and gettin laid, something I’ll never get sick of. “Salute” is my favorite of his solo tracks. It has a lot of old school flare, especially in the beat, which has minimal synthesizing and relies heavily on the bass and high snare drums. The beat’s simplicity lets the listener appreciate the lyrics, which were written to remind everyone in the rap community what TI’s done in his career, even beyond just the albums.

No Mercy has 11 tracks with features on them. In my opinion, there are 9 songs, and 2 certified wake up and jams. “Welcome to the World Ft. Kanye West” and “That’s All She Wrote Ft. Eminem”. And even amongst those two, That’s All She Wrote is on another level. TI caught both of these emcees at their best. Em’s album Recovery solidified his place as one of, if not the, greatest of all time in terms of pure lyrical skill, and Kanye’s new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, hasn’t had a bad thing said about it yet. Outside of those 2 songs, TI still brings in great emcees to feature, with new guys Rocko on “I Can’t Help It”, and a song that should blow up the radio soon in “Lay Me Down” with Rico Love. TI saved his best verses for his Kanye and Em songs, a necessity because both Kanye and Em absolutely kill these tracks. Kanye handles the chorus on “Welcome to the World”, and in my opinion nobody lays down a better chorus than Mr. West.

A note to all rappers, don’t feature Eminem on your album. He will absolutely outshine you and leave your listeners with their jaws dropped, forgetting anything you said on the track. He did it to Wayne on Rebirth in “Drop the World” and did to Drake, Wayne, and Kanye on “Forever” He’s the best there is right now without question, and if you forget Relapse he might be the best of all time. There are too many ace one-liners in his verses to name here, but it goes beyond just the lyrics. Em jumps from 1x, to 2x, to 3x speed throughout the track. No matter how well you memorize his verses, you can’t keep up with him, I’ve tried. “/Buy you a bag of fritos? I wouldn’t let you eat the fuckin chip on my shoulda./ Even if you was bleach and I was hair I wouldn’t die for ya/ “…that verse only gets better but I’ll leave it for you to hear on your own.

Overall: A-

Must Watch - John Lennon's Death 30 Years Ago

Hard to argue that The Beatles were not the most influential band in history. Musically and lyrically they were far beyond any other group of their time. In their early years they completely changed how pop music was created. As they grew older, their music became more complex and a lot of the same theories they developed are still being expanded upon today. The White Album is one of my favorites of all time purely for the breadth and depth it entails. When they parted John Lennon and Paul McCartney cemented their legacy as musical genius' with individual releases. Lennon, as seen in the video, was arguably the most adored musician of all time. A week of worldwide mourning following his death was the only proper reaction anyone could justify.

Ps. We had this before Barstool. Score one for Karim Garcia.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thoughts on Pats-Jets Tonight

Bob Kraft is calling tonight's Patriots-Jets game the biggest regular season game in his 17 year ownership of the New England Patriots. I tend to agree. Heres a rundown of what's on the line tonight:

• The obvious - Home field vs Wild Card. With both teams at 9-2 and New England already controlling the tie-breaker over the 9-3 Steelers this game means a whole boat-load for home field in the playoffs. And then you factor this in; the loser of this game will be relegated to a wild card position and most likely have to go IN to Indianapolis in the first round and beat Peyton Manning on the road in the playoffs. That's the difference between taking a top-5 girl in your class to the prom who you're in love with and you KNOW is DTF VS. taking your friend that sits next to you in math class who's pretty good looking and in the back of your mind you know if you both get a little drunk maybe you'll be able to take it all the way but the odds are stacked against you. Big difference.

• Mental edge. Say these teams do meet again in the playoffs with the winner of tonight's game with home field in that game. Not out of the question by the way. The Jets have already beaten the Pats on their home field and if they win again tonight they will have the clear mental edge in the playoffs. Belichick has never been swept by a divisional opponent with Brady as his quarterback and you have to believe if he does tonight, especially to Rex and the Jets, it will knock him off his game a bit. On the other hand, the Pats have beaten the Ravens, Steelers, Colts, and Chargers. All that's left is the Jets. With a win tonight, why wouldn't they believe they can go into the playoffs and run train on every team Ray-J to Kim Kardashian style.

• With a W, Rex Ryan will absolutely unleash the most ferocious eating binge any of us have seen. I'd be shocked if he didn't walk up the podium with a massive chicken wing smothered in gravy and some chocolate covered onion rings.

• Jets win and Mark Sanchez might, depending on how he plays, be considered a good to great quarterback and he might have the stats and wins to back it up. As much as it pains me to say this Dirty has been playing clutch football as of late. Not great football but clutch football. If he pulls out another win tonight every media outlet in New York will have a collective orgasm.

• Pats win and maybe Giselle goes a little crazy and shows off her knockers twice in one week. I mean, if you haven't seen these puppies by now you haven't been alive so maybe she'll just say screw it and start making it a weekly showing. Crazier things have happened.

Prediction: Pats 24 Jets 17. Brady throws for 250 and 2 TDs and Pats control the tempo through the air.

Wake Up and Jam

As Tall As Lions - Song for Luna. Completely forgot about this band until last night. Forget no longer because As Tall As Lions kill it in this Wake Up and Jam.

Ps. I know Karim Garcia has been a little thin lately with material. Please forgive us as we all are going through our final papers, projects, and exams. Promise the content will pick up in 1.5 weeks. When have we ever let you down? Oh, twice before? Nevermind. Just trust us.