Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Monumental Tale by Starwin Lubos

Once it was a Christmas. The time, date, and year are irrelevant since it would merely distract the true grandeur of this story.

I had been up since 5:00 am working on my 7,600 page proposal to strengthen the economy of the United States when an urgent call came.

Note 1: I am normally up by 5:00 am, this is not abnormal.
Note 2: I know the call was urgent not because of what the person on the other end said, but because every call i receive is urgent because I am that important.

On the other line it was a frantic Ms. Claus. She had informed me that Santa has been diagnosed with a rare strand of the plague that haunted England from 1539-1640. Apparently, the cold temperatures along with the right amount of holiday cheer found in the North Pole serve as an ideal breeding ground for this horrific disease.

Wanting to help, I knew offering my services would be quite a bother to my normal routine. However, like the legendary person I am, I cast aside my wants and needs for the greater good of everyone who celebrates Christmas and turns to Santa for gifts and joy.

I offered to come up and cure Santa of his ailment so that he could finish his tasks at hand. Normally I'd swim up to the North Pole for a nice warm-up routine for my workout. However, I opted for private jet.

Note 3: I did not opt for private jet for time's sake, but rather because I wanted to test out the new jet propulsion system I created a month ago. By air or by swimming the time differential would be indifferent.

When I arrived at the North Pole I was greeted by Ms. Claus. She has looked better. Time has done some work on her, she sort of looks like Carmela did after Tony was shot in Season 6 of the Sopranos.

She took me into see Old Saint Nick where he lay looking rather pathetic. I was hoping the plague made him look so horrid, but I think he just let himself go. Personal appearance should be important to everyone.

As I gazed over Santa on the brink of death, I pulled out a vial from my jacket pocket. The vial contained the cure for the plague, something I cultivated a few years ago and saved for a rainy day. Near the brink of death, I was proud to know I would save Santa from his near death.

Then out of nowhere some kind of polar bear hybrid rushed in through the wall of Santa's bedroom. This was like no other polar bear I have ever seen. Double the size, rabid, aggressive, and most likely pure evil. Ms. Claus informs me it is from the heavy radiation the poles contain. Global warming has caused greater radiation to mutate polar bears in the womb causing these freakish beasts.

Note 4: Work on solution for global warming. Have it done by February.

I tried to reason with the bear. "Easy, fella," I said. This did nothing and the bear took a swipe at my finely styled hair. Using a blend of hair wax, gel, and constant blow drying I had figured how to perfectly style my mane of thick, lustrous hair.

Insulted by the indigence of this bear assaulting me, I rolled up my jacket sleeves and gave the bear one last chance to desist. Sadly, for the bear, he denied my courtesy. So I proceeded to slap the bear across the snout, followed by a quick jab to the main artery of the heart, then as the bear was stunned, I lifted him over my head and removed him from the room.

Note 5: The bear was lighter than expected. Probably around 3,200 lbs., not the 4,000 lbs. I estimated.

Where I threw the bear, I could not tell you. Once he passed over the horizon, I knew he would not come back.

I rushed back into Santa's room and gave him the vial. Sadly, the vial could not work fast enough. I had to maintain Santa's blood pressure so that he would not fall into shock. Quickly, I assembled a haphazard device that kept the heart pumping, while filtering the blood through the body to keep his body responsive to the medicine.

Soon he was recovered and ready to go on his journey.

He told me I was amazing, but I already knew this.

So when you celebrate Christmas, make sure you think of my greatness.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Movie Review: No Country For Old Men

Before I say anything, I would like to say a few words to all the Tom Brady and Tony Romo fantasy owners who enjoyed the ride of a lifetime as these QB's packed in record seasons as they propelled hundreds of thousands of fantasy teams into the playoffs this week only to leave those teams and the owners' hopes in shambles. In what is probably the most unexpected and horrendous let down in fantasy history, this is what fantasy football playoffs are all about. It's not fair and the best team doesn't always win. Take a life lesson from these things. Anyway, ONWARD!

Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, the Coen's get back to business by doing what they do masterfully...tell a great story.

In the week since I intended to write this review No Country has gone on to pile up numerous awards from the New York Film Critics and National Board of Review and other people in charge of giving out praise for film in categories like Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Directing, Screenplay, and Ensemble Cast. All of which this film deserves. What also has emerged is the likely Oscar contenders with teen pregnancy dramedy, Juno, taking the Little Miss Sunshine spot, Atonement for the period piece, and No Country and There Will Be Blood rounding out the legitimate contenders spot. I am exuberantly ecstatic about P.T. Anderson's latest, and I will be sure to let you all know what I think about it once it is released. Anywho...

Following previous lackluster effort by the Coen's in the form of: The Lady Killers, Intolerable Cruelty, The Man Who Wasn't There, and O Brother Where Art Thou? (which I enjoyed, but some did not), No Country is much more in the vein of Fargo and Miller's Crossing. The story is centered around great characters, an enthralling story, and just enough existential commentary on society that those brain cells of mine that really enjoy such things were jumping for joy.

The basic outline of the film follows drug money, the man that finds it, the man that wants it, and the men that try to figure out what is going on. I guess the main driving force of the film is Javier Bardem's character, Anton Chigurh. A Mexican bounty hunter out for the lost drug money. Chigurh is one of the most interesting characters and one of the best villains in recent movie history. The perfect blend of a psycho, killer, cerebral, and principled character, Bardem is able to bring to life an incredibly complex character whose presence not only makes the characters in the film uneasy when he is around, but also makes the audience feel anxious for what this madman will do next.

Chigurh is essentially an Angel of Death, where whenever he is present odds are someone is going to die. However, what makes Chigurh most interesting is that he is not a pure madman, but a rather disciplined killer who does not pursue innocent people, but rather kills those that choose to involve themselves in his path. Of all the people Chigurh kills in the movie, none of them were unwarranted in his frame of mind. Each person interfered or involved themselves in Anton's business without him provoking them.

Similarly to Omar in The Wire, for those that watch, these kinds of principles are what allow Chigurh to survive in a business where violence surrounds him and he should be dead. For those that don't know, Omar robs drug dealers for cash and drugs. Now, normally, Omar would be killed, but his honor in doing what he does protects him in what he does. There is something very poetic about that aspect.

The main character being chased is Llewelyn Moss, played by Josh Brolin. While he too is gaining attention for his performance, I must say I enjoyed Brolin more in Planet Terror. Moss has the misfortune of stumbling onto some drug money, which he decides to take, setting in motion his fate.

Finally, as a moral compass is the good old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Jones is the old school sheriff who is trying to figure out what is going on. Bell is a second generation sheriff who was raised on principles of honor and duty. His voice actually opens the film speaking of the old days where sheriff's didn't have guns and all men had honor. A novel idea, but as the film unveils itself, it is clear that such notions are in the past.

In the end, as the story moves along, you are certainly pulled into the pursuit of the money, the characters involved, and the back stories they have which the Coens mostly just hint at. Bubbling underneath this suspenseful film is a tale of morality and the paradox that comes about when a man has principles. The three main characters are all lead by choices they make, and their principles lead them down their own road.

Moss is an Army vet who lives in a trailer with his wife. While he does have a strong will, his morals are in question. When left with the choice to take this drug money or leave it, his desire to better his life moves him to take the money. With good intentions, but a poor choice, Moss is sent on the run and forced to deal with the fear and paranoia that comes with the money.

Sheriff Bell is a man who has strong convictions and principles. He is lead by his desire to solve the crime, to get rid of the bad guys and have a peaceful county. However, his principles turn out to be dated. As a result this man who operates with a very high moral code is left to be useless and rather pathetic in the end. A sad state on the affairs of society when such a person is left in such a hopeless state.

Finally, Anton is a man who, as I said before, has principles for a killer. In order for him to continue to live he must keep doing what he does. To kill those that are in his way, and to maintain what he believes to be right. While what he believes is misguided, it is his ability to continue to pursue these ideals that keeps him safe from the punishment of such misgivings. There is a scene in the end of the movie where Anton, for a split second, has his eyes wander to children enjoying themselves. Right after that he is badly injured in a car accident. I took this as to meaning his purpose in life is to be a killer. To do anything else will lead him to his death. There is no other option for him. This enables him to survive in this society.

Overall, the movie is great. It can be a tad long at times, but there is the typical Coen humor and suspense that makes this movie a must see.

Directing: 8.5/10
Acting: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Re-Watchability: 10/10
DVD Purchase: 9/10

Overall: 9.3/10

Thursday, November 29, 2007

VS: Trisha and Parisa

I'm making an executive decision. I was going to write a review of the new Coen bros movie, No Country for Old Men, but that has been put aside until Friday or Saturday for this imperative issue. Real World: Australia. Trisha vs. Parisa.

In what has been one of the worst Real World's ever, where the cast is the dumbest in history, people are abruptly leaving the show every other episode, and no one really learns anything from each other. There is this vibe every year for the past 3-5 seasons that you can never imagine these people being friends after the show is over because of how they acted towards each other in the house, but with this Australia cast, you really get a sense it could happen. To my count there have been two positives about this season. Isaac staking claim as the coolest guy ever on The Real World and Kelly Anne's posterior. Now there is a third. The decision of Parisa to kick Trisha off the show for pushing her.

For those of you who are unaware of what happened, I'd love to catch you up using a video clip, but unfortunately MTV locks every Real World clip ever in a vault, thus leaving none on YouTube. Here's a link to the whole episode, you can fast forward if you want. So here's a brief description. Parisa and Trisha have hated each other all season, Parisa accused Trisha of not caring about her parents after Trisha bitched at Parisa for using the phone to talk to her parents. Anyway, Trisha storms over, shoves Parisa...forward to house meeting, and against the remaining girls' wishes, Parisa sends Trisha home.

That's the short of it, and from here on out I'm going to proceed as if everyone knows what has been going on, for the sake of the article.

Anyway, this feud is epic not because someone was sent home, but because Trisha and Parisa are so different that when forced to pick a side, you're really showing a lot of yourself.

From the beginning of the season I thought Parisa was unfairly ostracized by her ditsier female roommates, including Trisha. However, as the season progressed, it became abundantly clear that Parisa sort of causes her isolation. She is definitely socially awkward and certainly thinks too highly of herself.

With Trisha, you know what you got from the beginning. She's a superficial, manipulative person that hides her foibles behind her boyfriend (who she cheats on) and her religion (which she uses as an excuse for her actions). An overall terrible person inside, but personality-wise she is outgoing and tends to establish dominance among other females to get friends.

They're so totally opposite ends of the spectrum, that if you're looking from the other side you have equal reason to hate both of them.

There really is no way you can make a decision and be completely happy with the side that you're on. Are you going to support the superficial bitch or the humorless curmudgeon? When it comes down to it, it really is just picking between two miserable people.

Personally, what makes this decision even more difficult is that Parisa actually kicked Trisha off. She could have taken the high road, tried to mend some fences with other roommates, and have tremendous "hand" over Trisha for the rest of their lives. Instead Parisa took the low road, said, "I don't like this girl," and sent her on her way. By all means Parisa had every right, as dictated by the MTV rules, to do so, but to actually take away this once in a lifetime opportunity from a person for a slight and I mean slight push seems to be a little extreme.

It's not like when Danny got absolutely destroyed by that 6'9 guy in the street fight during Real World: Austin. Which is still to this day the most hellish blow ever landed in reality TV history.


Oh, wait, MTV is a tight ass about their precious Real World clips.

If it were up to me, I would have let Trisha stay in an apparently "high road" move, only to subvert that over the next two months by making comments like, "Just remember, I could have sent you home, whore." Either that or I would have created some Saw type scenario and made Trisha prove how much she wanted to be in the house. Like have her dig the house key out of Aneesa's colon before a timer goes off sending an enraged Wes/Abe at her swinging Timmy like a baseball bat. Or she could just make out with Colie for 5 mins, subjecting Trisha to every STD that Colie has contracted since Real World: Denver.

Alas now, Trisha can come off as a pity party candidate for having to leave the show even though it is her own doing and bitchiness that caused this whole chain of events in the first place.

In the end, I'm more anti-superficial/thinks they deserve everything/manipulative/uppity bitch than anti-boring/awkward/humorless/stick-up-their-ass bitch, so I'm siding with Parisa.

It will be interesting to see what will happen to Parisa as a result of this, but somehow I'm sure things will work out.

Although, I can't wait for Parisa v. Trisha in the first elimination of the new RR/RW Gauntlet-Inferno-Battle of the Sexes-Whatever the next show is. That's gonna be intense.

So, there is the decision that must be made. What side do you choose? Would you have kicked Trisha out? What does who you pick say about you?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting 405

Rocking 405 with J Hemp on the spot. Warning: There is profanity.

The Gym Rules 2008 Edition

In honor of me getting 405 lbs. I've decided to re-run one of my favorite articles from the Myspace site. These are the gym rules. I've written a bunch of standards that people who frequent the gym should adhere to. I've added some pictures and some new rules. So enjoy it (in honor of me).

I've been going to gyms long enough to notice and understand certain nuances of gym life. While some are more obvious than others, they are all rules that should be understood in order to have a fulfilling, and more importantly, embarrassment free gym experience. So it is with that knowledge that I impart on you The Official Gym Rules or How Not to Make an Ass Out of Yourself and Earn the Resentment of People Who Know What They're Doing.


Women- 1. Don't sweat

This part of the Gym Rules isn't that difficult because women typically know how to dress anyway, and this discretion extends to the gym as well. The main objective for a woman is to essentially not sweat. Now, I'm not saying that women can't perspire at all, it is a gym, and you are working out, but one should do their best to hide any sweat stains or excess liquid buildup. When sweat does occur, bring a towel.

2. It's not a fashion show

Don't show up in the gym in Abercrombie track suit and a Von Dutch baseball cap, OK? Throw on sweats and a decent t-shirt and work out. You're outfit for the gym should not cost more than $20 (not including shoes). No one is impressed at your fashion sense at the gym. The idea is comfort at the gym, and if I think you look uncomfortable at the gym, then odds are YOU are uncomfortable at the gym.

And don't even get me started with the girls that wear makeup to the gym, it's probably the most moronic thing ever.

3. Don't be a bag lady

With all that being said, this doesn't mean show up to the gym looking like a mess. As I said before, girls know how to dress. You can work with what you have and maintain a certain appeal while still fulfilling the prior rules. Hair should be properly maintained, and the world of women's athletic apparel is booming, providing an abundance of useful, yet fashionable attire to wear at the gym.


Just as a side note, since I am a man, I will have much more in-depth rules for the guys.

1. You're not protecting any house

This is in reference to the Under Armour wearers out there (specifically the tight Under Armour, not the loose t-shirts or whatever). This isn't football, and you're not getting hyped up in the locker room to come out and lift. Under Armour is to remove sweat from your body and keep everything tight. While some may prefer this when they do lift, the only purpose is that the tight fabric may help in the lifting process (i.e. on bench press). However, if this is the case, then just throw a shirt on over the Under Armour.

You're not Charles Bronson, and you can't walk around with a semi-defined upper body and pull off Under Armour. It just doesn't work that way. You're trying way to hard to be like, "Hey check my pecs out." And let me tell you, if you are doing this, then odds are you're just embarrassing yourself.

NOTE: All the rules for men are waived if you are in the upper 98 percentile of male lifters. When you're big enough that every one's reaction to you is "holy shit", and you can't go anywhere without some girl telling you you're "too big" then you can do whatever the hell you want. Lift in a sundress for all I care. I have only seen two guys that meet these standards:

The first was a professional weight lifter whose forearms were bigger than my thighs, and he skull crushed 315 lbs. The second was a gigantic guy given the nickname Tyson (because he looks like Mike Tyson) only the fact that he was 6 foot 1. He could bench over 600 lbs and he did lunges outside in the parking lot with 225 lbs across his back. Oh, and when he failed to get 585 lbs at a bench contest, he went outside my gym and punched a whole through a wall. This wasn't plaster, this was the OUTSIDE of a gym. So if you think you can do that, then you can get away with murder at the gym.

2. You're not Tara Reid

Yes, this is for guys. Meaning that under no circumstances should your nipple ever slip out of your shirt. Cut off sleeves are fine. It frees up certain encumbrances, and it helps keep you cool if it is hot. Regardless of your arm size or whatever, everyone can wear cut offs.

However! When one is cutting said sleeves from said shirt, one must never extend the cut below 1 inch. At this point the arm hole expands and stretches revealing any number of things from rib cage to the always disgusting nipple. There's no need to see another man's nipple, nor should you want to show it off. Keep the cut offs respectable.

3. Damnit, woman! Where's my dinner?

Don't wear wife beaters to the gym. Always a bad idea. Not only are they thin and white, but they show off far too much on nearly every guy. The thinness and the whiteness are exposed when sweat happens and the beater attaches to your body (not good). Also, for a beater to work at a gym, you need everything to be huge, from your arms, to your back, to your shoulders. Very few people have this.

So help me God if you're one of those skinny thug kids that show up with the baggy wife beater and HUGE sweatpants, that's the worst. You make yourself look like a fetus.

Just opt for beaters more respectable cousin, the tank top. Tank tops have color and are much stronger fabric wise. They tend to cover up more, and there is no reason that everyone can't enjoy a tank top.

4. No shoes, PROBLEM

Don't be Joe Cool and lift with sandals or even worse no shoes. You need sneakers at the gym. No one wants to see sweaty feet at the gym. Nor do they want to deal with someone so grungy that they feel they can expose their feet at a gym of all places. Where else have those feet been? No one wants to deal with that.

5. Gloves

Long shunned by lifters as a sign of weakness, gloves have gotten a bad rap. Gloves are fine because they can help grip for people who need that. Also, they are a protective from turning your hands into calloused freak show exhibits. Trust me, it's not pretty if you've been lifting for a while. I am a proud glove user and have baby soft hands to attest to it.

With that being said, if you do choose to wear gloves, then get ACTUAL lifting gloves. They range from like $10-$30 bucks so it's not a big deal. Don't show up with gardening gloves, or batting gloves, or winter gloves. It just looks foolish.

6. So...much...sweat! Where to put it?

Don't wear wristbands, headbands, or whatever to the gym. You're not running anywhere, and you're clearly just doing it to look cool.

7. The pants party

This is generally more towards older people, but get some shorts. Don't walk around in biker shorts or WAYYY high running shorts. Look respectable and not like you're trying to win the Tour de France or that you're an NBA player from the 70's. The shorts problem has similar consequences to the nipple problem mentioned earlier, only the outcome would be far, far worse.



1. Put some effort into it

You're working out, it's OK to strain or push yourself. Don't sit there and act like you're reading a book and drinking lemonade on a Spring afternoon. A proper gym workout shouldn't be easy, nor should you be able to sit there in perfect elegance and lift weights. You're not too cool to work out or lift something, so don't act like it.

2. Praise the Lord!

Don't congregate at the gym. Making a group of people take up a large amount of space and talk about nothing is utterly unnecessary.


1. AMEN!

Same for guys. Blabbing for an excess amount of time is unnecessary. While the gym is a much more social environment than some people believe, talking should not do two things:

a) It should not cut into your workout. You can talk, but continue lifting.
b) It shouldn't cause a problem for people around you. I don't want to know what happened to you last night, so keep it to yourself and those you intend to speak with. However, don't be an eavesdropper. Unless the conversation is affecting you in some way, stay out of it.

2. Mirror, Mirror

Don't check yourself out in the mirror. You can walk by, get a quick glance, whatever. Just don't stand there admiring yourself. There's no need for it, and no one likes a narcissist unless his name is Lex Luger.

3. Thirsty much?

Why do people feel the need to walk around with a gallon of water? A gallon?? There's no way you need that much water to drink during a workout. Clearly you're just trying to make yourself seem hard or something.

I saw an Ultimate Fighter who drinks at least a gallon and a half of water a day. That's one day, 24 hours, not during a 1-2 hour workout. His workout consisted of a non-stop hour long lift, moving from machine to machine, increasing weight each time around, and he doesn't need a gallon of water.

4. Heavy weight

Now, some people use big weights at the gym, some don't, but there is one unifying no-no that connects these people. People who drop their weights in the most unnecessary fashion available. Not only do they try to announce how much weight they've done, but also how hard it was to accomplish.

Granted, sometimes you don't have a choice but to drop weights and make a loud noise, however, this is allowed to occur when the weights involved are in an excess of 90 lbs. and they must be dropped from a precarious position.

These weight droppers will release the weight from about waist high, and sometimes they even fling these weights across the room. I work with some heavy weights and the only exercise where I remotely come close to dropping the weights in a loud fashion is on flat bench with dumbbells.

Here's a helpful hint: If the weights bounce or rotate more than once after you put them down, then you're a weight flinger.

5. Was it good for you?

On a similar note, these same type of guys may also let you know that they're doing a large amount of weight by screaming or groaning excessively. These sounds are distracting, and in a gym full of people really weird.

Sometimes, as always, you need to let out a scream, grunt, moan, whatever, but this is a rare occurrence. If you're moaning on more than 2-3 reps, then you're in excess. A grunt comes about when the weight involved is so much that you must verbalize in order to lift said weight. Well, if the weight is so massive that you need to scream, then there's no reason you should be repping that weight more than once or twice.



1. Traffic jam

Do not, for any reason, take a dumbbell off the weight rack and proceed to lift directly in front of the rack. The dumbbell rack is essentially the freeway of a gym. It is a road in which a clear path should always be.

This is pretty much the most violated gym rule, and I hate when people do it. Take your weight and move away from the rack! It's a little extra effort that won't make you look like a dumb ass. There's no reason to be in front of the rack and lifting. There needs to be at least a 2 foot avenue in which people can move freely. This can be used to get or put back weights or move somewhere.

Basically it's like practicing parallel parking in the middle of a freeway.

2. Violating personal space

With each area of the gym, there is an amount of personal space that goes along with it. It is important to always be aware of these areas at all times. Watch where you're going and be sure not to stand around in someones way.

The person you are imposing yourself on could ask you to move, but it's not their responsibility to tell you you're a moron. You should be aware of this. So now you are.

3. It's a germ

Personally, I'm against this whole wipe down your machine deal that some gyms have. I can see why it's there and all, but it's not like I'm getting surgery or dental work done by the treadmills. It's a gym. Spraying down the machines with that cheap soapy spray is annoying for two reasons:

1. It's all about the motions. If you see a person wipe down a machine, you think it's clean, but in actuality, it's not. Honestly, people gently glide the paper towel over these machines, and you think it's made that much of a difference? You'd need to really get in there and scrub hard to legitimately clean that machine.

2. It's not my job. People work at a gym for that reason. I'm there to work out, not be a janitor. Get your employees to clean the machines every now and then.

4. You gonna put those weights back?

Reracking the weights is a big question. For the most part, you have to do it. It doesn't fall into the job category because you remove the weights, so you should put it back. Plus it's not fair to others if you leave weights on and they have to take it off.

My rule goes that you only have to take off as much weight as you started with. Meaning if you go to a bench and there's 135 lbs. on there, then when you're done, you're allowed to leave 135 lbs. That way you negate whatever weight you did. It's sort of an in between.

5. The ocean called...

This goes to the people that bring water bottles to the gym and intend to fill up the entire thing at the water fountain. I understand you may need some water, but to sit there and occupy the water fountain so that you can fill your bottle is unacceptable so long as people are waiting behind you. If people are behind you then fill up a moderate amount and move on. No one wants to wait there for 2 minutes while you hog all the water.

6. It's a good steam

At my new gym there is a sauna which I use once a week to relax. Now, I don't know if this is a generational thing or not, but some guys are way too naked in the sauna. I'm fine if you have a towel on or whatever, but to be completely naked in a small space with other guys is a little odd to me. How can you be comfortable just sitting there, and why would you want to be naked of all things? This even extends to the locker room where guys will just stroll around naked. I mean, it's a locker room, of course there are gonna be naked guys, but some just take way too long to get ready. All of these guys tend to be older, like late 50's early 60's. So either it's a generational thing or old people just don't care about this kind of stuff. Maybe I'm the man on the short end of this opinion, but I feel lots of nakedness in the sauna is no good.

And those are The Official Gym Rules. They are open to be changed and altered at any time, but they provide a solid starting point for gym goers not in the know.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Testing Your Fanhood

I'm going to the Eagles v. Dolphins game tomorrow. Is it the most exciting game in the world? No. Is there any hype or interest in the game other than having the Eagles win? No. As a matter of fact, the only major area of interest is the hope that the Birds don't lose to an 0-9 team. Sure there's talk that if they win they'll be a game back of the Wild Card, but come on. Unless the Birds beat Pats next week, there is no chance of getting that Wild Card unless the Redskins, Giants, and Lions pull a collective New York Mets and vault the Birds into the playoffs. However, here is my point...I want to go to the game. I will enjoy going to the game. I want the Eagles to win that game. Why? Because I'm a fan.

People, especially in the Philadelphia area, often refer to themselves as fans, but that is not the case. For example, two years ago when the Eagles were an absolute mess I went to the last game of the season against the Redskins. There were probably more 'Skins fans in attendance than Eagles fans. Now, this was an especially disappointing season since there were high hopes for the Birds, but more and more often people only want to be a fan, for any team, when times are good. You don't become a fan by enjoying championships and celebrating wins. Those are your payoffs for being there for the heartbreaking losses and embarrassing defeats. Every time something horrible happens to your sports team you have to be there so you can fully enjoy those truly great moments.

And those moments aren't always championships, but can come anywhere at any time. It's being there and knowing that you truly wanted your team to win above all else.

That is really the ultimate litmus test for being a fan: Will you be there to suffer through the tough times? AND Do you want your team to win at all times?

There is an exception to the second part of the test. Rooting for your team to lose is acceptable when going for a higher draft pick for next year, but ONLY when that top pick is a life altering player, like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were. Other than that, there really is no excuse to root against your team. Even if you just want them to rebuild or move on, when it comes down to it, can you be happy if they lost? Sure maybe from an outsider standpoint moving on and cutting your losses is the best option, but when that game is over, something just does not feel right about accepting defeat.

Being a true fan is really the most nonsensical thing a human can do. Think about it. From the time you first become a fan, you arbitrarily select a team based upon geographic location, your dad's favorite team, or maybe a team that had a big impact on you during your formative years. That's all that it takes. After that, you root for that team no matter what. You spend thousands of dollars on tickets, merchandise, apparel, travel, along with countless hours watching these teams throughout the year. Hours and hours spent all for little morsels of pleasure and, if you're lucky, a championship or two.

It would make more sense just to have a laid back approach to sports fandom and just enjoy sports as entertainment. Root for the best teams and check in every now and then to see what they're up to, changing your favorite team year to year so as not to be stuck with a loser.

That's not what being a fan is about though. Something inside you makes you adhere some kind of mythological loyalty, on the level of loyalty to your friends and family (maybe even a little more), for seemingly no good reason at all. It makes people take out second mortgages on their home to buy Super Bowl tickets or cry uncontrollably or maybe even act a little out of character.

What being a fan is, is just having a passion for something. Sports pushes those buttons and makes you root, cheer, live, and die with a team you've selected. It is a masochistic (go with the second definition, but I bet there are some people out there that go with the first) process that the more you think about it, the more odd of an entity it becomes. I guess that helps explain when you try to tell your girlfriend about why you like a certain team, she shoots back at you with an "Are you insane" look. And what it boils down to is yes. It is a completely insane approach to life, but it is oh so necessary.

I'll be at the Birds game, rooting for them on Sunday. Whatever team you like, I suggest you do the same. Go Birds!

Gotta support the team...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Top 5: Guys I'd Wanna Be

In the spirit of Halloween, where children take on the persona's of ghosts, goblins, super heroes, and magical entities, I decided to create a list of a kind of Halloween for guys in their mid-20's. Here's how it's going down. I've compiled a list of the Top 5: Guys I'd Wanna Be. Meaning that as of this instant, I would trade lives with said person.

Now, when compiling this list I had to weigh in a lot of factors. By taking over this person's life, I would inherit everything that goes along with it. The person's personal life, finances, age, public perceptions, and daily pressures. For example, if I picked Alex Rodriguez I'd have a lot of money, but I'd also have the pressure to perform during the baseball season, a horrible public perception of being a total jerk and a selfish ass, and I'd be married to a wife I may or may not cheat on with Canadian strippers. So those are the things you have to weigh out when making these selections. Perhaps when you think about such a list some aspects may be more important to you than not (i.e. public perception, relative anonymity, marriage). Every one's standards are different, but I've compiled this list in respect to my personal preferences. Feel free to do the same for yours.

Just to be clear, whomever you choose, you'd maintain his ability/talent. So if you pick an athlete, singer, actor, whatever you keep his individual talent.

These guys are all worthy candidates, but specific flaws or complications in their lives eliminate them from serious contention.

The Married:

Tony Parker, age 25, Pro Basketball Player

The Good: The French-born Parker plays point guard for the San Antonio Spurs. He won his third NBA Championship last year, also garnering Finals MVP. As a star in the NBA he easily pulls down millions of dollars a year via contract plus any sponsorships he may get.

The Flaw: After winning his 3rd NBA Title, Parker wed Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria. Sure no one is complaining, but I would need to be unfettered.

Tiger Woods, age 31, Professional Golfer

The Good: Tiger Woods is a global icon. He makes more money than any athlete on the planet and is far and away the best golfer on a putting green now and probably for the next 10 years. He has his golf winnings, multiple endorsements, and the respect and admiration of pretty much any dude on the planet.

The Flaw: The life of a golfer is all consuming and strenuous, so it's good for Tiger to settle down and have some balance in his life. So in late 2004, he wed his one-time nanny, and more importantly one-time Swedish bikini model, Elin Nordegren.

Christian Bale, age 33, Actor

The Good: Christian Bale is probably the most bad ass actor out there today. His versatility and dedication to his roles are legendary and has such great movies under his belt as American Psycho, Equilibrium, Harsh Times, oh and he's Batman. He has the respect of his fellow actors, and he currently tops my list of favorite actors. He is a couple years away from an Oscar and the requisite pay checks will follow. Originally from Wales, he even has an accent.

The Flaw: Bale married Winona Rider's assistant in 2000.

The Old:

Richard Branson, age 57, Entrepreneur

The Good: The self-made British billionaire, Branson, has his hands in many ventures, the most successful being his company, Virgin, he started in 1970. Virgin now encompasses music, airlines, and retail stores.

The Flaw: While Branson lives his life out as a young man, the $7.8 billion he is worth isn't enough for me to want to be 57 years old. That's quite a leap.

Bruce Dickinson, age 49, Musician

The Good: Lead singer for metal god's Iron Maiden, Bruce has rocked sold out arenas around the world since the early 80's. Despite the recent flux towards pop-rock and away from metal, Maiden still remain relevant around the world. Nothing can be cooler than being the lead singer of a rock band in front of thousands of people. He is known as a revolutionary front man, ushering in the operatic rock that Maiden is known for. His solo release, "Chemical Wedding," is also probably the greatest album of all-time.

The Flaw: Despite being fucking awesome, a pilot, world-class fencer, song writer, and of course front man, Bruce may have his best years behind him. Maiden recently announced a World Tour, and he can handle it now, but years to come may only make him shakier.

Jack Nicholson, age 70, Actor

The Good: Nicholson is a Hollywood icon and one of the coolest guys ever. He has tons of awards, all the respect in the world, and is known as not giving a fuck about anything. Known for being kind of a loose cannon, he represents old Hollywood, and there's nothing wrong with being a living legend.

The Flaw: If I had to pick a 70 year-old to be, it'd be him. He still gets the ladies, and has floor seats to the Lakers. Not a bad gig.

The Dads:

Colin Farrell, age 31, Actor

The Good: Farrell has been known to accompany many women to bed, which adds to his rough and tumble persona. He seems to get pretty decent projects thrown his way, working with directors like Terence Malick, Steven Spielberg, and Oliver Stone.

The Flaw: He has a kid wandering around somewhere from a past relationship. Beyond that, a lot of his movies are pretty awful and you have to wonder about his shelf-life longterm.

Brad Pitt, age 43, Actor

The Good: Pitt obviously has a lot of things going for him. One of Hollywood's elite actors, Pitt has a sparkling career and has great movies like Fight Club and Se7en to his name. Pitt recently began branching out in real estate and starting his own production company. Regarded as one of the best looking guys in Hollywood, Pitt is always referenced for his looks as well as his acting. He also ended his marriage with Jennifer Aniston to upgrade to Angelina Jolie. That's some man points right there.

The Flaw: Despite dating one of the hottest women on the planet in Jolie, again not complaining, he has about 15 adopted kid and one of his own. Just too much headache and concern to walk into.

Tom Brady, age 30, Professional Football Player

The Good: The "Golden Boy" was just that, and by all accounts still is. After winning the Super Bowl three times, the former 6th Round pick had the world at his finger tips. Well regarded as the best quarterback in the NFL, along with Peyton Manning, Brady is in the middle of a record setting year on his way to his 4th championship. Privately, he is known for being well-dressed and dating super models and actresses. He recently signed a large contract, and despite many offers, turns down many endorsement dollars. He also has God status in the New England region.

The Flaw: After dumping ex-girlfriend, actress/model, Bridget Moynahan
, things were going as planned for Brady as he moved on to super model Gisele Bundchen. However, Brady soon became a daddy as it turned out Moynahan likely pulled the goalie on the Golden Boy. Some controversy arose, but Brady handled it like a champ and things seem to be fine.

The Just Missed:

Prince Harry of Wales, age 23, Royalty

The Good: There's nothing wrong with walking up to a girl in a bar and going, "Hi, I'm a prince." Plus being second in line the odds are he'll never have to worry about taking the throne, but still gets access to all the goodies.

The Flaw: Being a Prince, his life is constantly under the spotlight, and being the red-headed 2nd son will always be viewed as lower than his older bro, Prince William.

Ryan Gosling, age 26, Actor

The Good: Gosling is THE up and coming actor of the day. He will pretty much have any role he wants in a couple of years, and he has already been nominated for an Oscar. Recently single after ending his relationship with "The Notebook" co-star, Rachel McAdams, Gosling is free to roam about, which shouldn't be hard since "The Notebook" made him an instant favorite to many ladies out there. He maintains a low profile, which is good for living a normal life.

The Flaw: He may not have the most preferable bankroll at this point, making it a bit of a gamble. Plus, he's Canadian.

Lewis Hamilton, age 22, Formula One Driver

The Good: Hamilton burst onto the stage as a F1 phenom. Finishing 2nd in total points after his rookie year, the young Hamilton has what it takes to fill to void left by retired F1 great Michael Schumacher. He gets to drive incredible cars incredibly fast, and I'm sure that goes a long way. As for the money issue, Schumacher was the 2nd highest grossing athlete two years ago behind only Tiger Woods so money won't be a problem.

The Flaw: Could be a bit of a gamble, like Gosling. Hamilton could be the Tiger Woods of racing, leading to an eventual move over to NASCAR, but he could die in a fiery crash. I'm not comfortable going with that.

These are the head honchos. The guys that have pretty much everything going for them. Their flaws are limited, and you'd really have to dig to find something unpleasant about their lives.

5. Derek Jeter, age 33, Professional Baseball Player

The Good: Jeter gets $18 million a year to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. He won 4 World Series titles already, and is constantly referred to for his leadership, ability to win, and baseball skills (though sometimes overrated). Also being the premiere athlete in New York for the past 10 years, Jeter has been rumored to have been with: Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson, Gabrielle Union, Adriana Lima, Jessica Biel, Vanessa Minnillo, and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta. That's a murderer's row right there (clearly he prefers brains over beauty). I view Jeter's dating life like this: He's a gorgeous woman expert (see. wildlife expert) and it is his duty to tag and release these girls back into the wild. It's almost a right of passage for hot women to date Jeter to offically get hot woman status. He also finally won the immortal battle of Who Would You Rather Be: Tom Brady or Derek Jeter? It was close, but Tom's kid gives the win to Jeter.

The Flaw: As I said, Jeter dated all those women, see the past tense...not dat-ING, dat-ED. So that does nothing for me. Also, while he essentially gets a free ride from the New York media for his on-field ability, that soon may end as the Yankees may struggle in the years to come as his skills begin to diminish with age.

4. Prince Albert von Thurn und Taxis, age 23, Royalty

The Good: Prince Al is worth $2 billion from a German family fortune that dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. He is the youngest member of the Forbes Billionaires list, and basically doesn't have to work for the rest of his life. His fortune lies in real estate, art, and tech companies.

The Flaw: He's in Germany. He rules a lot of Germany. I don't wanna be in Germany, and I may have to stay there since it's my hood. If I didn't have to stay there, I'd buy a couple sports teams and hang out.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, age 22, Professional Footballer (Soccer)

The Good: Cristiano is regarded as one of the top footballers in the world at the young age of 22. Having signed on with English giant, Manchester United, Ronaldo has the spotlight of being the top player on the world's top team. He is under contract until 2010, but after that you can be sure he'll sign one of the biggest contracts in sport. Think of him as the new David Beckham, only with 100x more talent. Also, at a young age Cristiano is constantly in British tabloids that focus on what model he is currently with.

The Flaw: The constant sports pressure of having to perform all the time. While Ronaldo does have respect from a lot of people, there is still a lot of criticism about his whining and poor temper on the pitch. Plus, having it all tends to send a lot of negative energy your way.

2. Justin Timberlake, age 26, Musician

The Good: Coming from 'N SYNC, JT has done the impossible and shed his boy band image to be one of the top music acts in the world. Perfecting his pop, hip-hop mix, Timberlake has earned the respect of musicians from all different kinds of music. He has worked alongside 50 Cent, Timbaland, and T.I. to push his street cred to new levels. Recently, he has begun to branch out into acting and other avenues that will only add to his bankroll. He also is an excellent Saturday Night Live host starring in the legendary "Dick in a Box" song and one of my favorite skits "The Barry Gibb Show." While that is miraculous in itself, what really puts JT at #2 is that since his split from 'N SYNC, the only legitimate poor career move you can pin on him is dating Cameron Diaz for too long! He was with Britney Spears and like a stock broker, sold that stock at its highest peak as her career fell apart and his sky rocketed, then moved onto Cameron Diaz for a few years, and he is now with Jeter ex, Jessica Biel. I say he shouldn't have been with Diaz for so long because he's a young guy, he should be out there, not tied up to an older woman. Even if that woman is Cameron Diaz.

The Flaw: I don't think I could ever move passed the whole boy band thing. It would eat me up inside and probably lead me to a drug overdose.

1. Theo Epstein, age 33, General Manager of the Boston Red Sox

The Good: Theo is the brainchild of the Red Sox. He brought Boston their first World Series in 86 years, and he was the youngest General Manager in professional sports. Recently, he brought yet another championship by holding onto younger talent and not mortgaging the future. Although some of his moves have been suspect, he was man enough to let go of some key players from the 2004 Red Sox team that allowed the Sox to win again this past year. The proof is in the pudding, and Theo just wins. He is young and, like Brady, had God-status. What makes Theo's life most preferable is that he has my dream job, GM of a baseball team, he makes plenty of money, and most importantly of all, he can still live a semi-normal life. Epstein doesn't have the allure of mega-stars like Timberlake, and he will only have to be judged on his moves as GM, something I'm fine with. Also, he is unfettered with no wife or kids. He still has plenty of quality years ahead of him, and eveything is going right for the guy.

The Flaw: None.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Courtesy Flush: Sports Edition

Just a quick run through of some sports over the past week. ONWARDS!

Sadly, I was at that Eagles disaster on Sunday. I'm actually glad to say that I saw this final 97 yard drive by Brian Griese coming. You see, one of the benefits of being a long-suffering Philadelphia sports fan, you begin to anticipate and expect crushing defeats to take place. No regular season loss has been as devistating in recent years as that loss to the Bears. It officially ended the Eagles hopes of making the playoffs this year. This isn't just because this was a bitter loss, but due to the fact that the Birds still have two games against Dallas, one more against NY Giants and Washington, at New England, against Seattle, and at New Orleans. The key to this season was getting off to a fast start to help guide the Birds through the end of their schedule, that hasn't happened. Also, the rest of the NFC East are a combined 15-5.

Rough Sunday if you were a Boston sports fan:

If you aren't lucky enough to have Tom Brady quarterbacking your actual football team, it is just as good to have you QB-ing your fantasy football team. After a ridiculous 6 TD performance, it is clear that the Pats are going to run up the score on every team, and their run game is secondary to Brady's TD numbers. Here's what I said about Brady's fantasy impact in my NFL East Preview:

Best Fantsy Player: Tom Brady - he finally gets to have a multitude of weapons around him. With Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth at WR and Laurence Maroney coming into his own at RB it is almost like Brady is being spoiled. He should be able to extract TD's like a surgeon extracts a gall bladder this year.

As for the Red Sox, they came storming back from a 3-1 hole to beat the Indians in Game 7 hours after the aforementioned Pats won yet again. Personally, I'm happy that Daisuke Matsuzaka got the important start and pitched very well. He's been under a lot of pressure to be this elite pitcher right away, and it is going to take a year or two for him just to get comfortable to the new environment. Everyone makes a big deal about his $100 million contract, but he didn't ask the Red Sox to spend half of that just for negotiating rights. It is a bloated number, and I feel that along with an average year for this supposed phenom has caused people to give him a harder time than he deserves.

In the World Series this year, it is obvious that no one has any idea what will happen. Either team could sweep, it could go 7 games, every game could be a blowout, every game could be close, hell with the series going to snowy Denver in late October, we may not even finish this whole thing until early March. It is a complete wild card on all fronts. Too much is relied on for too many different things to take place to make any kind of confident predictions aside from, the Sox have experience or the Rockies lay off will hurt them. I did pick the Sox at the beginning of the year, so I'm sticking with them because it is more fun to be right than wrong, but I will say I think the whole series will fall in line with how Game 1 goes. It is the battle of the post season masters: Josh Beckett and his post season career vs. The 7-0, 21 of their last 22 Colorado Rockies. If Beckett pulls through and shuts down the Rocks, I like Boston, but if the Rockies come out firing another World Series Championship may not happen for the BoSox. Not like Boston doesn't have enough trophies nowadays.

On another bizarre note, ex-Phillie Paul Byrd has been linked to HGH. You'd think the feds would release, you know, good baseball players to link to HGH. Sort of play up that, it's ruining the game and tainting the sport type angle. If Paul Byrd, Jay Gibbons, and Jason Grimsley are HGH users, then maybe it's just making baseball players that would normally suck ass slightly more tolerable. In some weird way, it may actually be improving the sport. If Wes Helms hits 15 homers next year, investigators may wanna check out his bank statements.

(Note: the image is not altered. Paul Byrd really is that short and stumpy.)
(Note: Byrd released this statement in regards to HGH allegations, "Look at me! I look like an albino Smurf, and you're going to accuse me of HGH?")
(Note: I just made that quote up.)

Finally, UFC had it's latest pay-per-view on Saturday. UFC 77: Hostile Territory. While usually spectacular, this PPV was pretty weak and disappointing. There were two highlights. The first was the official announcement of Brock Lesnar as a UFC signee. Brock is a former amateur wrestling champ, professional wrestling champ, and had his attempt at becoming a professional football player thwarted a couple years ago when he was cut from the Minnesota Vikings. However, Brock may have found his calling with UFC. Stronger, faster, and more skilled than virtually any heavyweight in UFC, the only question with Brock is his ability to strike and take a hit. If he can be successful at those two things, then he will surely be a champion.

Secondly, and more impressive, was the main event of Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin. Silva has been on a tear as of late since beating Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Championship by essentially breaking his face with knees. This time was just a pure tactical display of fighting by Silva. Virtually unchallenged all night by Franklin, Silva knocked down Franklin at the end of the 1st Round before finishing him off in the 2nd. It was about as impressive a victory as I have seen, and firmly place Silva as one of the best fighters on the planet. The only challenge may come from Dan Henderson, who is currently in the 205-lb. weight class division, who would have to cut weight to fight Silva. Something Henderson has done back in his Pride fighting days.

Here's a link to Silva's beat down of Nate Marquardt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, or The Boss as he often goes by, has been at this music thing for decades. New Jersey born Springsteen has long carried the spirits of the state along with him on his musical voyage to take over the country and most of the world with his good ol' rock music. Known for his soaring sound and poetic lyrics, Bruce has built up quite a reputation as a magnificent artist as well as an artist that puts on one hell of a live show. Following the release of Bruce's latest album, "Magic," he decided to load up the E-Street Band once again and hit the road.

For a long while, Bruce has sat atop my "Artists I Most Want to See Live" List. So when it was brought to my attention that he would be indeed touring with the E-Street Band, I had to jump on this opportunity because you never know how many more you'll have. With a long understanding and appreciation of Bruce without ever spilling over to his fanatic fan base, I was indeed pumped to see the show in person. I was lucky enough to pull floor seats along with three of my friends for the Philly show on October 5th. I was also fortunate to meet up with some more of my friends from the great state of Delaware to enjoy the Bruce festivities. Amazingly enough, as my friends and I went up to get our wristbands for general admission, we managed to slide up 200 spots in the GA lottery to land pit seats, making a great show even more unbelievable. We quickly entered the Wac Center a mere two people between us and the stage.

Thanks to a blend of brews and cigars my anticipation was soothed but ready to spring at any moment. Then, right on time, Bruce and the E-Streeters took to the stage. The non-stop concert spanned over two hours with the band moving quickly from one song to another so as to keep the concert bouncing. My basic concept of a Bruce show would be that it is similar to a sort of church service. Lots of music, everyone participating, and just a good vibe all around. Ok, maybe this doesn't sound like a church that you or I have ever attended, but you get the idea. Truly, my assessment was not far off. The vibe was definitely better than any concert I have attended, and the band executes extremely well, especially for it being one of the earlier stops on the tour. The set list played out as follows:

Radio Nowhere
No Surrender
Lonesome Day
Gypsy Biker
Reason to Believe
Candy's Room
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Brilliant Disguise
My Hometown
Darlington County
Devil's Arcade
The Rising
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
Born to Run
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
American Land

While there were a good amount of new songs, and of course some songs were left off that I wanted to hear, I really couldn't complain. This being my first Bruce show I got to see "Born to Run," "Brilliant Disguise," and "Candy's Room," the latter two being personal faves. "Incident on 57th Street" was supposed to rear its head, but sadly did not debut until the following night. Most of the songs certainly pleased the fans, and as for the new tunes, they're good songs and I had no problem hearing them, even preferring to hear "Girls in Their Summer Clothes." The only major complaint was Bruce changing up the set list during the show, subbing in "My Hometown" over "Adam Raised a Cain," which is a much more concert friendly song. A typical highlight was "Born to Run" with the houselights up. Trite, I know, but I can't deny that song for what it is. From the most hardened Bruce fans to the people who just showed up for a good show, that song is just electric when it blazes through the arena. There's really no way around it, and if you don't feel that song when it's played live, then you're a liar. A fucking liar.

Overall the show was all I could have wanted and more considering where I was in the pit. It was an exciting, fun concert, and for the first time I was in a pit and wasn't worried about some douchebag causing problems for me or people around me. Those Bruce fans are all about enjoying themselves, not interfering with others.

Granted there are about 4 levels of thought on Bruce:

IV. Hate him - don't like his music, Jersey, or anything about the guy.
III. Think He is Overrated - enjoy "Born in the U.S.A." and "Dancing in the Dark," but don't get what all the fuss is about.
II. Good fans - like most of his music, have an idea what most of his songs are, and his significance to music in general.
I. Lunatics - know everything about Bruce, his family, and friends (I'm talking daily activities, hobbies, places the Springsteens' like to hang out), can name all the E-Street Band's middle names, and own a bootleg copy of Bruce's kindergarten recital from 1954.

I fall comfortably in the Tier II category, and I'm fine with that. I take Bruce for what he is, and I have a great respect for his music and know that it is a good time when Bruce is playing. So as far as this concert goes, I was more than pleased with the experience, and if you're anywhere in Tier IV or III and you have some money laying around, I say go to a Bruce show. He might be able to change your mind. So with that, I cross Bruce off the top of my "Must See Live" List. Who's next? It's hard to say, but they'll have a lot to live up to after seeing Bruce.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hey, Everyone! Come See How Good I Look!

Now that the Rockies have secured the last Wild Card spot in a bizarre game last night, it's time to hop in the time capsule and check out my pre-season predictions. I must admit, I'm getting better and better at this stuff as each year passes, and despite some embarassing misses, I certainly made some nice predictions. Let's check them out.

Standings (Predicted):
AL East - Boston Red Sox
AL Central - Cleveland Indians
AL West - LA Angels

NL East - Florida Marlins
NL Central - Houston Astros
NL West - San Diego Padres

AL Wildcard - New York Yankees
NL Wildcard - The Philadelphia Phillies (if not now, then never)

Standings (Actual):
AL East - Red Sox
AL Central - Indians
AL West - LA Angels

NL East - Phillies
NL Central - Cubs
NL West - Diamondbacks

AL WC - Yankees
NL WC - Rockies

Even though I made a clean sweep of the American League, my NL predictions yielded only one playoff team, the Phils (who knew?). Although my gamble on a young up and coming team went to the Marlins, instead of the Arizona Diamondbacks, I can't be too disappointed in going with the Padres, who just missed, and the Astros were a total mistake.

Playoffs (Predicted):
ALCS - Indians v. Red Sox
NLCS - Padres v. Astros
WS - Red Sox v. Padres
Champions - Boston Red Sox

Playoffs (TBD):
The playoffs are yet to be determined, but obviously I have some misses even though my champ is still there. Should be a good playoffs, especially with the Phils in, but I certainly would have preferred the Padres over the Rockies. The Rockies are on too much of a roll. The Phils need to come out the gates firing or we may not make it to the NLCS.

Awards (Predicted) -
AL MVP - Grady Sizemore
NL MVP - Albert Pujols

AL MVP - Alex Rodriguez: slam dunk, no questions asked. The only reason to anticipate this vote is to see if A-Rod will be a unanimous MVP.

NL MVP - Jimmy Rollins or Matt Holliday: Both of these players are great and well deserving of the award. Even though I have a stronger allegiance to Rollins, Matt Holliday is on my Keeper Team for fantasy baseball which endears him to me as well. However, being fair, the award does deserve to go to J-Roll. While both players carried their teams down the stretch, while Holliday had a great year, Rollins had a historic year. There is a difference, plus Rollins may get a Gold Glove this year, which is something you cannot say for Holliday. Jimmy's only concern is that incumbent MVP and teammate Ryan Howard may snag some of his votes.

AL CY Young - Roy Halladay
NL CY Young - Jake Peavy

Most Likely -

AL Cy Young - C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia has had a great year with 19 wins and logging 241 IP, but in all honesty there is really no one in the AL to stand up and take this award. My predictions, Halladay, came on late, but it was not good enough. Had Erik Bedard stayed healthy, he very well could have won the Cy Young.
NL Cy Young - Jake Peavy: Got this one right. Peavy had an off year last year, but now led the league in the triple crown of pitching (19 wins, 2.54 ERA, 240 K's). There may be some other votes for Brad Penny and Brandon Webb, but in all seriousness, their numbers do not compare to Peavy's at all. Although his lack of ability to come up in big games (see: Last Night) is the biggest knock on him.

AL ROY - Dice-K
NL ROY - Kevin Kouzmanoff


AL ROY - Dustin Pedroia: The AL race is still wide open. Dice-K is the biggest name out there, but had some shaky starts letting up 5 or more runs in his last 10 starts. Delmon Young has had a great rookie year (.288 BA, 93 RBI), but his number may still be beaten, and his bad attitude won't do much to win over voters. Pedroia has been the most productive and valuable rookie in the AL playing a solid 2B and hitting .317 with 86 Runs is just what that Red Sox line-up needed.

NL ROY - Ryan Braun or Troy Tulowitzki: Both of these young player came on late. Tulowitzki helping carry the Rockies to the playoffs, and Braun emerging halfway through the year to end with a ridiculous line of AVG .324 HR 34 RBI 97 OBP .370 SLG .634 through 113 games. Tulowitzki put up his own offensive numbers going AVG .291 HR 24 RBI 99 OBP .359 SLG .479
in his rookie year. The two things Tulowitzki has going for him are that his team made the playoffs and he is a much better fielder than Braun. However, I think that Braun was just too productive to not give him this award. My pick, Kouzmnoff played very respectful and should finish in the Top 3 for ROY.

AL Home Run Leader - Travis Hafner
NL Home Run Leader - Albert Pujols

AL HR Leader - Alex Rodriguez
NL HR Leader - Prince Fielder

AL Batting Champ - Joe Mauer
NL Batting Champ - Miggy Cabrera

AL Batting Champ - Magglio Ordonez
NL Batting Champ - Matt Holliday

AL Future MVP - Carl Crawford
NL Future MVP - Chase Utley

I have to admit, I have no idea what this category means. At the time I guess I was looking for more categories to predict, and I assume I was going for sort of a breakout all-around star that would emerge. It's an unclear category and I'll probably never do it again. However, I was right about Chase, who would have been MVP had he stayed healthy all year.
AL Future MVP - Hanley Ramirez: I couldn't find one in the AL, might still be Crawford, but Hanley Ramirez is the man and I wanted to give him a shout out.
NL Future MVP - Chase Utley

AL Future CY Young - Erik Bedard
NL Future CY Young - Cole Hamels

Ditto with this category and the next two categories. Yeesh. Still think I nailed it though.
AL Future Cy - Bedard
NL Future Cy - Hamels

AL Breakout Bat - Howie Kendrick
NL Breakout Bat - Prince Fielder

AL Breakout Bat - Carlos Pena (AVG .282 HR 46 RBI 121 OBP .411 SLG .627): The man had one home run last year. ONE!
NL Breakout Bat - Prince Fielder: 50 Homers, yeah, I may not know what this category means, but I think I was right.

AL Breakout Arm - Dick Harden
NL Breakout Arm - Scott Olsen

I'm just not even bothering with this one. I will say that I was way off on both accounts though.

Clemens Return - 98 percent (He has returned)

Dice-K wins - 16 (15)

Howard Homers - 47 (Exactly right)

Dunn Strikeouts - 180 (Nowhere near Ryan Howard's record breaking total)

Worst Phillie - Some reliever (Adam Eaton)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Courtesy Flush

Well it has certainly been an interesting weekend. The Phillies are NL East Champs and going to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, while the Eagles are pretty much a disgrace. Why can I never have it all? As soon as one sports team excels, the other falters. At this point all you can do is appreciate what the Phils have accomplished and use that to numb the misery that is the NFL season. Just for the record, the Phils have a great chance to make it to the World Series, and if they play the Padres in the first playoff series, then whoever wins that will advance to the World Series, and you never know what can happen at that point.

If you listen to podcasts, or want to start, look into This American Life. It is the most popular podcast out there, and I've listened to it for a while, but I've always been hesitant to recommend it because it is so popular. I'm much more of a fan of Filmspotting or NYC Radio Lab, but This American Life is just really amazing and unique. I strongly recommend it, and you can find links to all of the podcasts to the right of the site.

I've made some modifications to the site, which includes some Recommendations pour toi to offer links to some books, CD's, DVD's, and whatever else you might want to purchase. There are some more pictures up to add to the decor, and the GLOCKthoughts Thinker of the Month is now the Bi-Weekly Thinker of the Month because a month is a long time, and I couldn't stare at the that O.J. picture for much longer. The new Thinker will be updated along with the Poll Questions, which will serve as time keeper. Also, there is a list of tags to posts to help navigate easier as the posts accumulate.

I have utilized the forum for some short postings and a couple links. Feel free to add to it or just check it out. You can post anonymously if you want, so there is no pressure to identify yourself if you don't want to.

Overall, I think this site has been quite a success. I've received some kind words, and with already near 700 views in a couple weeks is far ahead of the Myspace site. I guess it is because this site is more open to everyone where you'd essentially have to know me to look at my Myspace page. So that is definitely a benefit I was looking for.

I'll be throwing up an MLB Review post tomorrow, which will review some things from the year and go over my pre-season predictions. Should be fun. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I can't wait to see the Phils in the playoffs!

Friday, September 21, 2007

What's The Deal With Scrubs?

Have you ever watched Scrubs? Do you know what it is? For years, the outside opinion of the NBC comedy Scrubs has baffled me. Entering its 7th and final season, Scrubs has been a television anomaly to me due to the fact that it is constantly a punchline for the television world. Tapped often as unfunny, disappointing, and generally unpopular, the vitriol towards this show is unfair and unwarranted for a show that is creative and entertaining on many accounts.

What really makes the criticism of Scrubs so intriguing is that the show isn't bad, certainly not worse than other sitcoms on TV (According to Jim, King of Queens, and My Name is Earl to name a few), and that for the most part a lot of people accept this criticism they hear. Some how over the years, Scrubs has become the show to ridicule and as a result the show is under appreciated by fans and critics alike.

Told primarily through the main character John "J.D." Dorian (Zach Braff), Scrubs follows the residency of young doctors through the medical world. Using inner monologues and fantasy scenes add to the comedy of the everyday life of J.D. and his other piers at Sacred Heart Hospital. The characters and situations in the hospital create some very imaginative and funny situations that lead Scrubs to be a good television program.

The cast as a whole is one of the strongest on television simply based on the size of the cast and their ability to be funny and add something to each episode whether they are a major component or not. A key example of this is J.D.'s foil and nemesis the Janitor. Torturing J.D. for pure enjoyment, the Janitor's pranks and means of harassing J.D. are great whether he is in the episode for 10 minutes or 2 minutes. That kind of ability to work within the parameters of a TV show so well is something along the lines of Newman from Seinfeld, and praise doesn't get much higher than that.

Also, Scrubs has one of my all-time favorite TV characters in Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley). If you don't know who McGinley is, you'll probably remember him as Bob from the Bobs in Office Space, the S.W.A.T. leader in Seven, and most recently the Commissioner of the More Taste League (MTL) in the Miller Lite commercials. Dr. Cox serves as J.D.'s unoffical mentor and carries himself with a pocketful of insults and overwhelming confidence that leads him to be the top doc in the hospital. Just the character as a whole is so creative and enjoyable that McGinley has really made Dr. Cox his own, adding everything from talking ticks to specific movements that add to the bravado of the character so well. It is amazing to me that he hasn't been nominated for so much as a Golden Globe (I believe he hasn't been nominated) let alone won anything for his performance. It is really one of the most underrated characters on television.

Other cast members add a lot to the show as well. They all add their own special touch of neuroses, egotism, and insanity to the bunch of characters in the show. They can all weave in and out of a storyline perfectly and they are all strong enough to carry an episode on their own. I mean, Sarah Chalke plays Elliot Reid who may just be the only television character in history to get progressively better looking as the show went on. Seriously, she has always taken a step up on the looks department. Which may not have much to do with the show, but is still worthy of note.
(Left: 1st Season; Center: 3rd Season; Right: 6th Season)

Which is coincidentally the exact inverse of Ellen Pompeo on Grey's Anatomy, who has only managed to become more sickly looking and closely resemble a plastic doll.
(Left: Old School (2003); Middle: Grey's Anatomy Season 1; Right: Season 2)

Which is another point of contention. How can Grey's Anatomy be so much bigger as a show than Scrubs? You're dealing with essentially the same material, only Grey's is a dramedy (drama with some comedy) while Scrubs is comedra (comedy with some drama). Granted the allure of Grey's is greater, and for that reason and the fact that dramas are easier to get attached to than comedies, I would expect Grey's to be a bigger hit, but the disparity is so great that it leaves me confused.

Further elaborating on the Scrubs drama point, there are some very poignant moments that go along with the goofball comedy that Scrubs is known for. Some of the stories are well written in a way that at the end, all of the plots in the episode come together to not only make the episode complete, but also lead to sometimes unexpected and refreshing revelations about the struggles in life. Scrubs would never consider itself a drama, and it would never want to be, but that doesn't mean there cannot be moments that make you feel something other than typical light hearts for these characters. The thing Scrubs does that I admire the most is the way in which it shows these young residents struggling in their profession. It isn't all one-liners and goofy situations. There are times when these people do struggle and suffer through hardships that you would find on any drama. Even for being a comedy, Scrubs takes the time to break down these difficult situations and resolve them in a way that is atypical of your usual comedy.

If I was hard pressed to think of reasons why this show is so mistreated, and trust me, I have tried to think of as many things as possible, I can really only come up with two.

First, ironically, what I admire most about the show is what may detract from it. Namely the comedra aspect of the show. I was watching it once, and my brother came down and happened to catch the last 10 minutes or so. Well, the ending was rather serious, and as it wrapped up, my brother turns to me and goes, "What the hell is this show about?" Keep in mind, this isn't the first time he has seen Scrubs, and he was well aware of what show it was, but maybe people who watch a comedy do not necessarily want these curveballs thrown at them out of nowhere. After watching a show that makes them laugh and have an enjoyable time, to throw in some drama can leave a bad taste in their mouths. Also, the fact that these mostly funny characters suddenly go through incidents of death, self-doubt, and depression can seem melodramatic coming through the TV screen. The points of drama are not subtle. They're in a hospital, they're going to have to deal with death, disease, and personal turmoil not because it's easy to write about, but because it is what they as characters would go through.

Second, is the inherent dislike for Zach Braff. As a person, I don't see too much that is good about the guy. He seems like a jerk in real life, and kind of a downer. His movies always show him as some kind of depressed loser who can't get his life together and tends to blame others for his faults. When he threatened to punch an 8 year old on Punk'd didn't help, and something about those scenes in Scrubs when he has to be rude or he says something wrong are just a little too real. Think about it, has there been a least liked leading man for a sitcom ever? Of course, I don't know Braff, he could be a great guy, but these are just general observations from me. Although, I can't imagine my impressions are that different from most anyone else, and that's not a good thing.

Other than that, I can't really think of anything to take away from Scrubs. I'm just a guy trying to figure out why no one seemingly likes this show. It's like the musical equivalent to liking the Foo Fighters. They've been around for awhile, sure I purchased "The Colour and the Shape" back in the day, but I don't like the Foo Fighters now. As a matter of fact, I know more people that hate the Foo Fighters than like them. Can you name one person that legitimately likes the Foo Fighters? That's what liking Scrubs is kind of like. Maybe I'm way off and a lot of people like Scrubs, who knows, but I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this situation as best I can.