Friday, December 29, 2006
I'm also working on the 2006 Davie Awards. I'm sure you all just breathed a great sigh of relief after reading that. Rest assured, you can sleep easier knowing you'll get to find out all my favorites from the past year. I know you've just been dying to find out.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The wide receivers weren't looking too hot themselves either. The number of dropped passes is just inexcusable. And can we just go ahead and cut Chris Henry now? The guy obviously has no interest in playing because he never puts forth any effort. Chalk up another drop in the endzone for him, and how many times did he make a half-hearted, one-handed attempt to catch the ball? He seems to think he has better things to do, so let's not hold him up.
Some terrible coaching tonight too. Why, oh why, did we call a timeout on what was obviously a questionable catch by Chad early in the game?! Even if they needed to take a timeout to sort things out, snap the ball and spike it. It wasn't worth the timeout or all the lost yardage. Granted, I actually think it was a completion and the referee was wrong to reverse it (yes, initially it went through his hands but he caught it against his leg. It still never touched the ground) but it was clear that it was a close call. I couldn't believe we took a timeout and gave Indy all that time to decide on whether or not to challenge.
Plus, I don't know what Marvin was thinking in leaving Palmer in till the end. It was obvious that they'd already conceded the game when they kept punting instead of going for it on fourth down, so why leave your quarterback in to take more shots? He'd been getting pounded all game, and it was a stupid risk to take. In fact, Palmer's fourth fumble came late in the game when Anthony Wright should have been in instead. If you're going to admit defeat, don't take unnecessary risks.
Lastly, Chuck Bresnahan should publicly apologize for that defensive gameplan. Apparently he thought it would be a good idea to give the Colts a free 10 yards on every play. Just as long as we didn't give up a pass of 20 or more yards, it doesn't matter how many times they catch it short and run for extra yards. It was maybe a nice idea to start off, but we should have abandoned it after Manning had his way with us on short passes. I don't know how many times I saw the linebackers or safeties running away from the running back coming out of the backfield because they were afraid of a deep pass, only to have Manning dump it off and the back runs for a first down. The pass coverage was pathetic.
We can clinch a playoff spot with a win at Denver next week and losses from Buffalo and the Jets or Buffalo and Jacksonville. But more likely, we'll have to win at Denver next week and at home against Pittsburgh. We're going to need major adjustments.
Monday, December 18, 2006
While he was here we saw Stranger Than Fiction, which was fantastic. It's the best kind of comedy; it's funny, sincere, and has a deeper message at the same time. Will Farrell really showed how great of an actor he can be when given a part that demands it. He's a perfect blend of funny and emotional, and it was a refreshing change from his usual roles in movies like Talladega Nights or Anchorman.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I can understand why a lot of people would not like The Fountain. I can see why the idea of three parallel storylines involving a Spanish conquistador searching for the Tree of Life in order to save his queen, a brain surgeon trying to cure his dying wife's cancer, and a monk or Zen master floating with a tree in some sort of space-worthy bubble on a journey across the cosmos several hundred years or so in the future would not appeal to many individuals. By the way, the conquistador, brain surgeon, and Zen astronaut are all the same person. Or are they? (don't worry, this all becomes apparent in the first 10 minutes of the movie, so it isn't really a spoiler) Does that sound pretentious to you? Well that's because it is; it's a Darren Aronofsky film and he's all about being ambitious and pretentious. The answer to whether or not you should see the movie is if the pretentiousness of the plot intrigues you or turns you off. Personally, I'll take the pretentiousness of The Fountain over something like Apocalypto. But I'm not too surprised that it's doing poorly at the box office.
Almost all of the special effects were done without the aid of CGI, and the result is fantastic. The images of the space odyssey are some of the best I've seen in a movie. Clint Mansell's score is fantastic. I think he must be one of the most under-appreciated film composers today.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis on Saturday issued his thanks to Cincinnati fans for their support during Thursday’s victory over Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium.
“On behalf of everyone in our organization, I want to say how incredible our crowd was at the Ravens game,” Lewis said. “The noise was particularly outstanding. A number of our defensive players commented to me about it, so I know it gave Baltimore’s offense a difficult situation to deal with.“The fans came out in great numbers,” Lewis continued, “even though it was a very wet night with the threat of storms in the area. They stood up for our team and came out and gave us the atmosphere we always strive to have in The Jungle. I want them to know how much it’s appreciated and how we look forward to the same level of support for our last two regular-season games against the Raiders and the Steelers.”
Nice to know my screaming-till-my-throat-was-raw was appreciated. I thought we were a great crowd too, and it was a huge win. Seven scoreless quarters in a row? Both sides of the ball are picking up steam at a crucial time. The Bengals need to keep this momentum rolling to win at least three of the next four, especially the game in Denver.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Casino Royale is easily the best James Bond film since Goldeneye. Since the three after that were terrible, I guess that statement isn't necessarily a huge compliment, but take my word for it: it's just what the Bond-franchise needed. Sure, the plot requires you to suspend a certain amount of belief and doesn't hold up to any deep scrutiny. But it's a James Bond movie; you're not supposed to take the entire thing seriously. There's a difference between making it so unbelievable that it's just stupid (like Die Another Day) and making it believable enough as long as you don't sit down and analyze it too deeply afterwards. Of course, anyone who expects something deep from a James Bond movie is missing the point entirely. Daniel Craig is fantastic. He may not be quite as sophisticated as Pierce Brosnan, but he's much more rugged, which is exactly what this movie calls for. James Bond is a man who isn't afraid of getting his hands dirty. The film is the grittiest entry into the franchise in a long time, which is one reason why it's so enjoyable.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
In UFC 65, Georges St. Pierre had his way with defending Welterweight champion Matt Hughes en route to a second round TKO. It was fantastic to see St. Pierre get redemption for the sole defeat in his career and win the belt. Unfortunately, Heavyweight contender Jeff Monson could not overcome 11-inch height and 10-inch reach disadvantages to beat title-holder Tim Sylvia, losing in a five round judges' decision. It was almost sad to watch Monson struggle to get inside Sylvia's reach, only to get stuffed on the takedown attempts, and the one time Monson did get Sylvia on the ground he was unable to submit him. Sylvia was surprisingly impressive on the ground, but his lack of motivation to finish an obviously dispirited Monson on his feet was very disappointing. But St. Pierre looked spectacular as he systematically picked Hughes apart on his feet while defending any takedown attempts. The fight would have ended in the first when a huge left from Pierre put a stunned Hughes on the mat, but the bell rang as St. Pierre pounced to finish him off. But the fight didn't last long in the second round as St. Pierre put Hughes down for good with a great kick to the head and then finished him off with some punches and elbows before the fight was stopped.
The game against New Orleans was a must-win for the Bengals, and while it wasn't pretty, the team put up big plays when it needed to. Chad Johnson has just been phenomenal the past two games: 17 receptions, 450 receiving yards (an NFL record for consecutive games), 5 touchdowns. He and Palmer have really turned around what had been a down year for both of them and Johnson now leads the NFL in receiving yards. And yes, give the defensive credit for the big turnovers, but something has to change. The defense is now dead last in the NFL in passing and total yards allowed. We can't count on those turnovers to always come at the most vital moments; they didn't against San Diego and that's the more likely result if this defensive play continues down the stretch. Every game is a must-win still and this week's game at Cleveland likely won't be a cakewalk, and then we face a short week with Baltimore next Thursday. Injuries are still eating us alive on the offensive line and nearly every position on defense. By the way, Palmer is up for Fed-Ex's Air Award for his passing against New Orleans (but to be fair, can someone explain to me how Drew Brees could throw for over 500 yards against us and not be up for this award?!).
Monday, November 20, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
The band seemed to be having a great time and there was a lot of interaction with the audience. William Duvall did a remarkable job filling the very large shoes left by the late Layne Staley. It's remarkable how similar he sounds to Layne, and he had no problem performing any of the songs. Jerry Cantrell was fairly stoic and mellow for the majority of the show, but his performance was amazing. Duvall may have adopted the role of frontman and Mike Inez was the most playful, pulling out goofy props and attempting to distribute cans of beer to the crowd, but Cantrell was obviously the quiet force driving the show. I'd also argue that he's probably one of the most underrated guitarists ever. Anyways, the show was well worth the trip.
Bleed the Freak
It Ain't Like That
Dam That River
Rain When I Die
(Layne Staley video tribute)
Don't Follow (acoustic)
Killer Is Me (acoustic)
No Excuses (acoustic)
Got Me Wrong (acoustic)
Down In A Hole (acoustic)
(Alice in Chains video montage)
We Die Young
Man In The Box
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
What to say about last week's Bengals loss? They look like the mediocre team their 4-4 record says they are. Yes, we all know that deep down the Bengals are more talented than they are playing, but so what? It doesn't matter how much talent you have, in the end all that matters is whether you have a "W" or an "L". The offense looks sloppy, the defense couldn't stop a team of girl scouts, and the roster is riddled with injuries. Emotions are running too high right now: everyone from Rudi to Willie to T.J. to Carson is getting frustrated and upset. The team needs to mature and step up when the game is on the line, because we're about to go 4-5 when the Chargers come to town this weekend.
Yes, we should have had a pass interference call on that play near the end, but by now it has become apparent that those critical calls are not going to go our way. Poor officiating cost us the game in Tampa Bay and possibly in Baltimore as well. So yes, without the terrible calls (or lack of) we should be 5-3 or 6-2, but we should never have been in those situations in the first place. If the team was playing up to their potential, Tampa Bay would never have been that close that late in the game, and we would not have been trying to dig our way out of a 14 point hole after five minutes in Baltimore. NFL referees are terrible, but the Bengals need to not let the game get in a position where the refs are going to make or break it. Now as we all saw in the Super Bowl, sometimes the officials will be so terrible that it doesn't matter what you do, but poor performance by the Bengals has been as much of a culprit as bad calls.
Now on to the Wii... I'm not sure what else to say about it, Kel. I certainly think it will be the victor of the next generation console wars, with the Xbox 360 in second and the PS3 flopping and taking Sony down with it. The price tag is much more consumer friendly; I think Nintendo made the right choice in focusing on affordability and gameplay over the most technologically advanced system with cutting-edge graphics. Yes, Gears of War looks absolutely amazing, but I don't want to pay twice the cost of the Wii to get a 360 in order to play it. That said, I'm not one of the people lining up the buy the Wii when it comes out. I intend to wait and see how the games are that will be coming out for it (like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Red Steel), and most importantly, how I like the Wii-mote controller before I'll think about buying it. Since Craig is getting one I'll get to try it hands on for awhile before I make any decision.
I desperately need to fix some things with my PC. First of all I need to replace this crappy default Dell case. Why you would ever design a case that opens up like a book is beside me. To open up the case you have to unplug everything connecting to it, pick it up, lay it on its side, and pull it open. That makes it far too much of a chore to take a look inside the PC, when on most cases all you need to do is pop open the side. I also need a new cooling fan; my current one keeps sputtering and sounds like it will croak at any moment. Figuring out why my excellent Zonet wireless adapter won't reinstall is also gaining in priority. The Belkin one I'm using now is nice as a backup, but the signal is weak and it cuts out far too often.
Company of Heroes, a real-time strategy game centered around the Allied invasion of France in World War II, is one of the top computer games I've played this year. I used to love RTS games like Starcraft, Red Alert, and Total Annihilation but over the past few years there have been few games in the genre that piqued my interest. The WWII setting has been beaten to death in first-person shooter games but is less cliched in RTS games. CoH combines the right amount of RTS-style action with tactical and strategy elements from typically more realistic turn-based WWII games. Take all the historically accurate units and thrown in a great physics engine with fully-destructable environments, and the game delivers gritty combat straight out of Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. The single player campaign comprises 15 extremely challenging missions and also allows skirmishes against the computer for extended play. Multiplayer consists of skirmishes either against human opponents or team games against the computer AI. Doug and I have had a couple good battles teamed up against the computer.
Heading up to Cleveland tomorrow to catch Alice in Chains with Dougie and Justin. Throw in Navs Fall Conference this weekend, and it's going to be a good weekend.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
How did I ever use the Internet without RSS feeds? I know that this isn't exactly new to all the uber-savvy web geeks out there, but its something i just ignored until the other day. Now instead of going to twenty or thirty different websites checking for updates (or forgetting to check many sites) all I do is go to Bloglines to get all my updates at once. It's amazing how much simpler it makes checking updates and getting news online.
I had no idea that Nirvana's Live! Tonight! Sold Out! VHS video was coming out on DVD next week.
I'm planning a major overhaul of the layout and content of this blog when I find the time. There's a good chance it won't be till after this quarter ends in December, but we'll see.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Been pretty busy lately and haven't had a lot of time to update. I had been playing a lot of Company of Heroes which is a really good game for anyone who's a real-time strategy fan. I've also been listening to new stuff from Beck and The Deftones; The Information is the best Beck album since Sea Change. Thank You For Smoking is a very funny movie if you haven't seen it. I have a headache and I'm too tired to type up anything more eloquent or extensive than that.
I like it a lot. I've been starting to get work done on my research paper for my junior history seminar. Since our topic in the class is nineteenth century London, Paris, and Vienna our research paper has to follow the same idea, so I'm doing opium use in nineteenth century London. Thrilling, I know. But it's better than doing the working class, prostitution, orphans, or any other topic during that time range that has been covered to death.
I need to figure out exactly who and what I'm voting for. Like most people I'll be glad to see all the negative campaign adds gone from view when this is over. The sad thing is that this type of mudslinging between politicians is pretty much embedded in the fabric of American politics. You can go back to the election of 1800 between Jefferson and Adams, when they'd accuse each other of things like stealing cattle, being a closet-monarchist, or not being a Christian. I'm not saying it's good or okay that these crazy accusations continue to occur, but that's just the way it seems to go. One of many things about our political system that need to change.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
But as everyone knows by now, things turned completely different in the second half. It was great to see them taking shots down the field, even if I think they only completely the one on 4th-and-1. My hat is off to Marvin and offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski on that call, which took a lot of guts to make (and was maybe even a little reckless). I don't think it was a coincidence at all that the running game got going the same time we started going deep with the pass. When we stretch the field and make them worry about the long bomb, it's so much easier to run the football. I was impressed with the performance of our tight ends as well. Reggie Kelly did well and got a touchdown, and Tony Stewart had that crucial 19 yard catch-and-run on second down deep in our own territory to get us out of trouble. We'll need another big performance from them with Kelley Washington out again and Antonio Chatman banged up. Maybe we'll get to see our boy Glenn Holt line up at wide receiver. Willie Anderson had a big game too, yielding no sacks to NFL leader Julius Peppers Ahmad Brooks was impressive once again at linebacker. He could be the spark our defense needs without Odell Thurman.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
- The offensive line is not protecting Palmer and is not opening holes for the running game. How many times have we seen Rudi waiting behind his blockers for a hole that never opens or getting swallowed up for a loss as soon as he gets the ball? Palmer has already been sacked almost as many times as he was last year.
- The defense cannot stop the run. I guess some things never change. I don't think Sam Adams has quite had the impact they hoped.
- Poor pass rush. We have not pressured and sacked quarterbacks well since Week 1. Of course, we all know what happened the last time we sacked the quarterback...
- Palmer's inconsistency. Carson has obviously not been back to last year's form. There have been way too many times that the ball has either bounced at the feet or sailed over the head of receivers.
- Conservative play-calling. Anyone else tired of the Run, Run, Pass, Punt formula the offense seems to have perfected so well? We aren't taking enough shots down the field. That's the only way to spread the field and give Rudi room to run. Sure, there were the long bombs to TJ and Chad last week, but those were the exception. Sadly, we're stretched so thin at wide receiver right now that we probably won't have many chances to do so this week.
But there is some good news. Antonio Chatman looked healthy last week after missing the first four games. Brian Simmons should be back and hopefully Dexter Jackson will be too. Chris Perry should return this week as well. I thought Ahmad Brooks made some good plays last week after not seeing much playing time. Hopefully we can figure something out with our skeleton crew of a roster and weather the coming storm of Carolina, Atlanta, @ Baltimore, and San Diego.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
What a horrible weekend for sports.
In better news, I got another email from Pfc. Jason Burke from Iraq:
Hey Dave how are you? I am doing fine. I am going
to try and swing by Cincinnati around the 9 of
December to the 14. Do you all have anything going
on? I have not bought the ticket yet.
My time here is almost done. I should be home/
Germany in the beginning of next month. Thanks for
the offer of sending stuff though. I do not really
buy, or need much out here. I bought quite a few
books on amazon though. They pass some of the down
time, when I am not trying to get a bit of sleep.
Nothing to exciting going on here. We just went
into the city, and cleared some where around 150
houses in 12 hours. That was fun, but tiresome. I
was pretty sore after it. That is the most excitment
we have really had in a while. That mission was
supposed to be dangerous but no one even took a pot
shot at us. Someone tipped them off, it was probably
the Iraqi police.
That is about it. I miss you guys. Coming to visit
should be a nice change of pace though. I will keep
Jason N. Burkee
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The band's sophomore album Sam's Town sees them trading in their metrosexual, Duran Duran 80's retro-pop for Bruce Springsteen and U2 80's retro-rock/pop. Gone are the dress shirts, black eyeliner, and faux-British singing. In their place we have blue jeans, mustaches, and arena rock anthems. The Las Vegas natives aim for a much more American feel on the new album. Hot Fuss conjured up images of night clubs and busy streets; Sam's Town feels like the boys left the Vegas strip and are now cruising down the dusty highways of the surrounding desert.
The opening title track sets the tone for the album as a powerful, Americana-themed rock song that manages to stay true to the new-wave stylings of Hot Fuss at the same time. The remaining songs are bookended by "Enterlude" and "Exitlude" which really don't add or detract anything from the album other than that they're basically filler. The first radio single, "When You Were Young", is a clear homage to Springsteen. It's the type of song that seems most at home blaring out the speakers of a convertible soaring down the highway.
Despite it's absurd name, "Bling (Confessions of a King)" finds The Killers channeling U2. The song feels ripped from the same vein as Joshua Tree with vocals you can almost picture Bono doing himself and a riff that clearly was inspired by Edge. The fusion of arena rock and synth-pop continues on the energetic "For Reasons Unknown". "Read My Mind" is a strong, hook-laden pop song that just screams "future single". That shouldn't be seen as a slight, because with these hooks it's not the kind of song you mind popping into your head at random moments. "Uncle Johnny", a song about said uncle's cocaine habit, is one of the hardest rockers of the bunch. The guitar riff is excellent, which is good because it helps you ignore the mostly nonsensical lyrics.
Unfortunately Sam's Town starts to fall flat after the first half of the album. The love song "Bones" entertains by featuring brass instruments in the background, but once again the lyrics border on comically senseless (Don't you wanna come with me/Don't you wanna feel my bones on your bones?). Take a lot of time coming up with that one, Mr. Flowers? Still, the music is enough to keep the song entertaining. "My List" is a slow-burning anthem that has you picturing the singers rocking back and forth with their arms around each other's shoulders by the end of the song. The rough outdoor imagery appears again on "This River Is Wild", which is simply another poppy rock ballad. "Why Do I Keep Counting" rounds out the album before the "Exitlude", and really has nothing fresh to add to the album.
One tends to get the feeling that The Killers may be a gimmick band; it'll be interesting to see if the band makes a third transformation for their next album. But the group stays true enough to their original sound that most fans of Hot Fuss should embrace this offering. The first two-thirds of Sam's Town are strong enough that the album is a very successful pop album. That's exactly what one has to remember when listening to this album; it's okay if most of the lyrics are gibberish. The songs are fun enough and filled with such good hooks that it should entertain for awhile.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Wow, your article about the Bengals "deserving" to lose to the Patriots because of their off-field problems is ridiculous. You were probably one of those moronic talking heads that said Hurricane Katrina was a punishment from God. You’re certainly following the same train of thought as those idiots.
You seem to think the Bengals aren't doing anything to punish these offenders. Well genius, that's because until the NFL punishes the players, the club can't. Otherwise they run the risk of double jeopardy - punishing the player twice for one offense. Henry was benched, what else can the Bengals do? Marvin Lewis had Odell Thurman's locker cleaned out and given to someone else. Since Thurman was suspended by the NFL, Lewis punished him the only way he could, and also sent the signal that these actions will not be tolerated.
"Bengals fans, who have largely turned the other cheek..." Have you actual been in
You act as if Henry and Thurman are the only player makers the Bengals are missing. David Pollack is out for the year, starters Dexter Jackson and Rich Braham are out with injuries, special teams star Tab Perry is out again, and Chris Perry is out for the first six weeks. T.J Houshmanzadeh missed the first two games. Wide receiver Antonio Chatman missed three. All of these losses hurt the team; Henry and Thurman aren't the only factors.
As you pointed out, T.O. can act like a diva with his overdose, Ricky Manning Jr. assaults someone, but we’re the ones who deserve to lose? Or you've got teams like the Ravens with convicted cocaine dealers on their roster (did they ever so much as bench Jamal Lewis, or Ray Lewis when he was charged with murder?), but we're the bad guys.
Let's face it; the Bengals' loss had nothing to do with your warped sense of "justice" or "karma". It's just the way the game played out. Quit writing ignorant and offensive articles just to garner attention to yourself. I guess that makes you as good as T.O. No such thing as bad publicity, right?
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Cincinnati Bengals (3-0): With such a tough schedule, I couldn't ask for a better start (duh, how do you get a better start than winning all your games?). Sure, they haven't all been pretty wins, but that's what good teams do; they don't choke when things get ugly, they just find a way to win. We've had some bad injuries, but so far we've proven that we have a deep roster with great play from guys like Kevin Kaesviharn and Rashad Jeanty. Going 4-0 before the bye week would be a great start to a tough schedule. If we can keep this up, we stand a good chance of not only winning the division but getting a first-week bye in the playoffs.
Baltimore Ravens (3-0): I knew the Ravens would be better this year, but I didn't think they'd be doing this well. The defense looks scary, and should stay that way if they can remain healthy. Steve McNair's quarterback numbers haven't been off the charts, but he's doing what the Ravens need him to do: not screw up at crucial times. If they can keep it up, I see them as one of the AFC wild-card teams.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2): I really am surprised that they're off to such a bad start. Roethlisberger has looked terrible. With the way the Bengals , Ravens, and Jaguars are playing, I have a hard time seeing them climbing out of this hole and making the playoffs.
Cleveland Browns (0-3): I didn't think the Browns would be a good team this year, but I didn't think they would look this bad. I thought we'd be seeing an improved team, but there is no sign of it so far. The running game has been horrendous and Charlie Frye is no gem either.
New England Patriots (2-1): All their personnel losses are finally coming around to haunt them. Not resigning kicker Adam Vinatieri and keeping former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch are obviously hurting the team.
New York Jets (2-1): Wow, this team is one of the big surprises of the year so far. I didn't think they would be any good at all this season, but so far they are very impressive. Chad Pennington has made a good comeback. They were almost 3-0; the sole loss was a closely-fought loss to New England which in itself was an impressive showing.
Buffalo Bills: (1-2): Despite their losing record, the Bills have also been better than I thought they would be. They've performed well even in their losses, almost beating New England and the Jets in close games.
Miami Dolphins (1-2): One of my preseason AFC wild-card picks, the Dolphins have been extremely disappointing. I thought Daunte Culpepper's terrible season last year was a fluke, but he doesn't look any better this year. With weapons like Chris Chambers, McMichael and Ronnie Brown at his disposal, there's not much excuse for his poor playing. The team had a good chance of upsetting Pittsburgh till Culpepper literally threw the game away.
Indianapolis Colts (3-0): Despite losing star running back Edgerrin James, the Colts have still been impressive. Still, their lack of a rushing attack and inability to stop it on defense are going to hurt them this season.
Jacksonvillle Jaguars (2-1): I didn't give this team much credit going into this year, and they've rubbed it in my face. They shut out the defending Super Bowl champs and almost hung with the Colts in Indy. If they keep this up, they're a lock for one of the wild card spots.
Tennesee Titans (0-3): They can call this season a rebuilding year if they want, I just call is a disaster. We'll see Vince Young take over at QB in the next few weeks but that won't save this season. At this rate, they might even finish behind the Texans.
Houston Texans (0-3): Yeah, they probably should have taken Reggie Bush in the draft. David Carr is doing better this year, but the rest of the team still stinks.
San Diego Chargers (2-0): Looking better than I thought they might. Philip Rivers hasn't made any big mistakes so far. If they can keep that up and LaDainian Tomlinson can keep running wild, they could take the division.
Denver Broncos (2-1): They were my preseason AFC pick for the Super Bowl, but after losing to St. Louis and barely beating Kansas City 9-6 I think I've lost faith. Sure, they beat New England in Foxboro, but I just don't have faith in Jake Plummer to stay consistent. But with the AFC West weaker this year, they still have a shot at winning the division or at least a wild-card spot.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2): Yes, Larry Johnson is a great running back but this offensive line is awful without Willie Roaf. With Trent Green out, there's no reason for team's to do anything but put eight or nine players in the box to stuff the run.
Oakland Raiders (0-2): This team is just awful. Really, they're probably the worst team in the NFL.
The Playoffs: Indianapolis, Cincinnati, New England, San Diego; Wild Card: Jacksonville & Baltimore (or Denver)
Sure, I'll make a Super Bowl pick. Everyone seems to pick Indianapolis which seems strange since they have a worse running game. But they do have Adam Vinatieri, who would have made that clutch kick against the Steelers last year. Since the AFC is weaker this year, I'll still go with the Colts (I feel biased if I pick the Bengals). But I think the Bengals have as good of a shot, providing we don't choke.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Tool came on around 9:10 to a solid white stage that was mostly barren except for the drum set, a couple amps and the lone microphone stand. Behind the white stage there were white projection screens about six or seven feet high, and above that was a plain black backdrop. Throughout the concert, the band would project visuals onto the white projections screens, the white stage itself, and the big square scoreboard in the center of the arena ceiling (the kind of scoreboards you see in basketball and hockey arenas). The visuals were mostly computer-generated images and designs, and I thought they really added a lot to the show.
"Stinkfist" was the opening song, which was a fine choice in my opinion. I like the song a lot and really got the crowd into it. Both it and "The Pot" both had little extended "jams" by the band which were great. The band played some brief little guitar and keyboard intro before "Forty-Six and Two", which is another favorite of mine. After a good version of "Jambi" the band launched into "Schism", which naturally got a big reaction from the crowd. The visuals for this was just the same music video, but considering that it's one of the strangest videos out there I had no complaints. "Schism" isn't my favorite Tool song due to the radio always over-playing it, but it was fantastic live. The band sped the middle of the song up to double-time, which was a refreshing change to the song. The instrumental "Lost Keys" led right into an extremely intense "Rosetta Stoned". The rapid-fire vocals at the beginning of the song didn't transfer as well to a live performance, but the rest of the song was fantastic. Very powerful.
Next the band played "Wings for Marie" and "10,000 Days" as one very long song, and in my mind it was the highlight of the show. The laser effects made their debut during "Wings", and I definitely thought it was a good choice to save them for this part of the show. These songs were written about singer Maynard James Keenan's recently deceased mother, and in my mind they represented a musical and emotional high water mark for the night. The show was both musically and visually at it's best during "10,000 Days". The combination of the screen projections with the new laser effects was amazing, and the song just blew the crowd away.
Tool's take on an encore was refreshing. Instead of ended the regular set with the lights going out and walking off the stage for five minutes while everyone cheers before returning, the band simply finished the last song of the regular set, grabbed some bottles of water, and sat in the middle of the stage. They'd talk to each other or to various roadies, all the while bathed in blue light while all the fans cheered and applauded. At one point one of the band members held up a lighter, and everyone in the crowd with one followed suit, which looked pretty cool. Then after a few minutes the guys simply got up and went back to their instruments.
"Lateralus" was the first song of the encore, and showcased new lighting effects from the previously bare black backdrop. Then they band played a long, ambient instrumental intro before launching into a blasting rendition of "Vicarious", the first single from 10,000 Days. Then they closed with "Ænema" (my favorite Tool song) which probably got the most reaction of any song the whole night from the crowd. It was awesome to see the entire arena so into it. I could have sworn that Maynard swapped two of the lines in the song around, but that's just nit-picking.
By the end Tool played for at least an hour and forty-five minutes, probably closer to two hours. The set list could have been a little longer, but the length of the concert is evidence of how long each of the songs is. I thought it was a fantastic show; I would definitely want to see them again. No real complaints about the set list either. I would have liked to hear "Sober" (we actually heard nothing off Undertow, but that's not a crime like not hearing anything from The Fragile at a NIN concert is) or some of the less well known songs off Ænima and Lateralus. "Right in Two" is the only other real song from 10,000 Days that we didn't hear, which was a shame because it's a fantastic song. But still, every song Tool played was fantastic, so I cannot complain. One of the best concert's I've been to, that's for certain.
Forty-Six & Two
Wings For Marie
(ambient guitar-keyboard-drum intro)
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Pittsburgh's offense played horrible on Monday night, but that doesn't make me feel much better for this week. In fact, I'm not sure I want to play them after an embarrassing loss like that. I have no doubt that we can beat them, but it won't be easy; the offensive line will have to protect Carson and open holes for Rudi, and the defense will have to not give up big plays to Willie Parker, Hines Ward, and Heath Miller.
Going up to Columbus tonight to see Tool. Apparently they canceled their show on Tuesday due to an illness in the band, but no such news so far for tonight...
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
The movie was over two hours long, and certainly could have been trimmed down. There were too many unnecessary additions to the plot (most of the obligatory romance story, the one guy being accused as a spy, etc.) that didn't much of anything to flesh out the side characters or advance the story. Naturally, no Hollywood movie would be complete without a romance being forcefully jammed into the story, although the love story in Flyboys is less painful than many of its counterparts (Pearl Harbor, for example). At least they didn't turn it into the usual love-triangle.
Obviously the main draw of the film is the action sequences in the air, and the dog fights are mostly successful in entertaining. The main problem with them is that they get fairly predictable and a little absurd at times. To be honest, much of the film's entertainment value was in laughing at whatever ridiculous scene was unfolding on the screen. Something tells me that landing your plane just behind the front line trenches to rescue a downed comrade stranded in no-man's-land isn't very accurate. I don't want to spoil much of the movie, but I'll just say that most of the movie was so laughably idiotic that late in the film, we were actually able to predict that one character would pull out a pistol and shoot another pilot right in the face with it. As they were flying in the air. That guy must have been the greatest shot of all time to hit the tiny target of a person's head in one moving plane from another. Snakes on a Plane could learn a lesson in comedic lunacy from Flyboys; the latter was for more fun and entertaining.
The characters were mostly straight from your typical Hollywood cookie-cutter. James Franco plays the rugged, handsome, cocky main character that is cast first on looks, second on acting ability (apparently no one realized that there probably were not many World War I pilots with blond highlights in their hair). He wasn't horrible, but it was obvious he was cast on looks. Then there's the stereotypical grizzled veteran who doesn't care about anyone else because everyone he cared about has been killed, the African-American who must overcome the prejudice of other pilots (at least that part is probably accurate), the son of a wealthy businessman who is a disappointment to his father because he'd rather become an artist, and so on. The actors themselves really weren't bad, but their characters could have used more fleshing out and more originality.
So if you just want to be entertained, then by all means, go see Flyboys over the aforementioned Snakes. But if you really want to see a good movie this weekend, go see Jet Li's Fearless. Li's final martial arts flick is a great story. The plot is very good, Li's character is well-developed, and above all, the action scenes are very well done. It doesn't have the visual style of Hero, but it's an excellent martial arts epic about a Chinese legend and a fitting end to Li's career.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The Deftones took the stage right around 8. They opened with a good version of "Feiticeira" followed by the popular "My Own Summer." After that came "Beware the Water", which I believe is a new song from their upcoming album. Next came "Passenger" which was the song I'd hoped to hear the most. The White Pony version is my favorite Deftones song, and while the live version doesn't have the guest vocals by Tool's Maynard James Keenan, it was still the highlight of the show for me. "Change" was another highlight and probably got the most reaction from the crowd. They threw in some good tracks from Adrenaline like "Nosebleed" and "Root" and "When Girls Telephone Boys" from their self-titled album. We got another new song with "Hole in the Earth" before they closed with "Headup" and "7 Words". I thought it was a good set and the band sounded really good live. The shortness of the set was disappointing (11 songs in about 45 minutes) but since the Deftones were not the final act it wasn't too surprising. Jon and Rob wanted to stay for Korn so we did. I'm sure it was a good show if you're a Korn fan. As far as their music goes they actually weren't bad, but I'm just not a fan. They played for too long, and then we went home. Riverbend was really, really muddy (and half the people there were intentionally covered in it) but at least it barely rained while we were there. Even though the Deftones set was short, it was well worth the $10 lawn tickets to see them live. Their new album comes out October 31st; their previous effort wasn't their strongest but after hearing two of the songs, I'm pretty excited about Saturday Night Wrist.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
It wasn't the prettiest performance by the Bengals yesterday, but you can't complain about opening the season with a win on the road, especially at one of the toughest home stadiums in the NFL. The defense had some good pressure going on the quarterback and they held Larry Johnson to 68 yards rushing. That scoring drive by the Chiefs in the 4th quarter was somewhat disconcerting, but overall I was fairly impressed with the defense's performance. I thought Rudi showed some great moves too. He was finding a lot of holes and breaking many tackles. Poor Trent Green, I hope he recovers fast. That was a monstrous hit by Robert Geathers. Of course Herm Edwards and the Chiefs players displayed their thinly veiled anger over the hit after the game, but A.) Geathers was already airborne when Green started to slide, B.) the Chief's Eddie Kennison ended up pushing Geathers towards Green when he tried to block him, and C.) it never looked like a helmet-to-helmet hit to me, which is what all the Chiefs seem to claim it was. Every time I saw the replay, it looked like Geathers's shoulder hit Green's helmet. But the Bengals started their very tough 2006 schedule off with an important win, and we open at home with the Browns next week. I would chalk it up as an easy win, but you never can when we play Cleveland.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Don't believe the hype for Snakes on a Plane. Here is a movie that I really wanted to like. I went in with a very positive attitude. I knew it would be bad, but it was not hilariously bad like everyone made it out to be. It had a fair amount of laughable parts, but there was an equal number of times when it was just contemptibly bad. It tried too hard to be so bad that it would make us laugh along with the filmmakers, instead at laughed mockingly at their failed attempt at a hilarious campy film. Sam Jackson did turn in a great performance and had some ridiculous funny lines, but the rest of it was pretty forgettable.
UFC 62 was better than the last couple pay-per-views by a long shot. Most of the fights were very entertaining, including the rematch of Bonner vs. Griffin. I was hesitant to get excited about the fight because I knew there was no way it could live up to their first fight, and while that was still true, it turned out to be what was probably the most entertaining match of the night. Those two never fail to put on a good fight, and Forrest Griffin is hilarious. Bonner was robbed of a round by the judges, and I feel bad for him that he lost, but hopefully he'll rebound with a good win his next fight. Rich Franklin comes back for UFC 64 in October against a very tough opponent. Can't wait for that, and for UFC 63 in September.
I'm working on packing up the apartment. The wisdom teeth come out tomorrow and we move out either Thursday or Friday.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Nothing to exciting going on here. I am in the
Ramadi area. Living the Dream...? Not really, I
would say the best way to describe my situation would
be frequent bordem, highlighted with quick stints of
The truck in front of me was hit with an IED a
couple weeks ago. I lost my squad leader. That was
pretty tough. The other day a car bomb went off at
the Iraqi Police station. We have been in one or two
actual fire fights. We are not in the city though we
are outside the city.
On a happier note, school is done this year? thats
cool. How did it go. Did you have any more liberal
slanted classes were you had to regulate? :) Is the
apartment you are moving into in the same area?
Better? That will be cool. One of the guys bought an
x-box 360 have you tried it yet? Thoughts on it?
It's not bad, can't wait for Halo 3. The Playstation
3 who wants to pay that much for a system?
Where are you thinking of working next? Maybe
another place with nagging callers. :) Well I got to
go. I will talk to you later. I miss you guys.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Being the unemployed individual that I am, I couldn't help but notice the roughly 8 billion yellow flyers I saw posted all over campus declaring "Work For Students". I pulled off one of the little tabs and decided to check out the website when I got home. The site was extremely vague about what kind of work was involved, other than saying that it was for a company called Vector Marketing. I assumed this meant it was some telemarketing company, and considering how much I hated being called by crazy disgruntled people, I had even less interest in calling them in their own homes. But I figured there wouldn't be any harm in filling out their online application, although I became more skeptical when I saw how simple the application was (not even asking about prior job experiences or references) I became even more skeptical. Then within half an hour, someone calls me back about setting up an interview (which is 6pm tomorrow). As soon as I was off the phone, I decided it was time to check up on Vector.
It seems Vector Marketing has a long, controvertial history of ripping off students. They send students out as independent contractors to sell Cutco knives. This is after your unpaid training and the deposit and have to put down to work there. Doug told me Jon used to work for them, and he ended up losing money. There's even a group formed by former student employees called Students Against Vector Exploitation. Since they didn't give me any way to recontact them, I guess I'll be skipping that interview tomorrow.
And the job search rolls on.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Yahoo Fantasy Football Games:
- Pro Football Pick'em - League ID: 25299 Password: cincinnati
- Survival Football - League ID: 2217 Password: cincinnati
- Salary Cap Football - League ID: 535 Password: cincinnati
- Austin's Pro Football Pick'em Group (with confidence points) - League ID: 360 Password: cincinnati
- College Football Pick'em - League ID: 11813 Password: cincinnati
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Anyone have any opinions on the subject? Who's a good provider? Got a good deal on a plan?
Friday, August 18, 2006
Justin got my hopes up last week with the announcement that Alice in Chains is going on tour again and playing in Cleveland Novemeber 9th. If anyone has even the slightest interest in going, please let me know. Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning. I'd be happy to drive.
Edit: Sweet, Dougie's going to be my concert buddy again and go with me. We're probably going to copy off Justin and see the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame while we're up there to. And now Joe's going too.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Jess, Christy, Alex, and I leave tomorrow for New Jersey. We'll be staying with Tim and Elly until next Wednesday, so don't expect any updates until then. It should be a lot of fun, as long as the drive out there goes okay. But at least we won't be flying out there.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I am anything but an Al Gore fan, but I've had a reserved interest in seeing his film on global warming since I first heard about it. Watching the film, there's no doubting his sincerity. After losing the 2000 election, Gore has poured himself into traveling around the globe, lecturing audiences about the dangers of climate change. I'm normally not a fan of biased documentaries, but An Inconvenient Truth shouldn't be compared with the propaganda Michael Moore puts out, which somehow gets classified as a "documentary" instead of "fiction" or "complete bs".
Basically the whole movie is clips from him giving lectures about the problem of global warming. He gives good evidence to back up his claims, and from what I've heard and read, the argument isn't that what he says isn't happening, but that it won't be quite as severe as Gore makes it out to be. I'm not sure quite what that means; that sea levels will only raise by ten feet worldwide instead of twenty? For some reason that doesn't make me feel any better. There's a couple spots in the movie where he can't help but take a couple shots at Bush. I'm sure that goes over well with a lot of the demographic in the audience, but it just makes Gore come out looking bitter and petty. There's one section where Gore talks about how mistakes were made in the past and you get the impression that he's talking about mistakes being made in regards to the environment. But immediately after that, for no apparent reason, the film cuts to a montage of the 2000 election recount in Florida and that whole controversy. Hey Al, I've got an Alice in Chains song you might like. It's called "A Little Bitter". I also wish he would have spent a little more detail on the solutions, but mainly the message seemed to be "here is what's going to happen, now the politicians need to start doing something big to prevent it." And I think he's probably right.
I know what some of you may be thinking now: that I've been sucked in by this propaganda and now it has me all terrified of what could happen. Well first of all, I've been growing more concerned about this for awhile now, which is one reason I kind of wanted to see this movie in the first place. Secondly, why is everyone willing to take such a chance with this? I don't really understand it. It sounds cliche to say this is the only planet that we have, but it's true. We certainly aren't doing a great job taking care of it, so why would we want it to get worse?
The other things that disappoints me about this is the complete and utter silence from the "Christian" community. We're supposed to be good stewards of what God has given us, something you hear all the time when it's an issue such as tithing. What about this planet we've been given? The Christian community if full of all kinds of moral outrage over gay marriage and abortion and Harry freakin' Potter. Where's the outrage over the irreparable damage we're doing to this home he's given us? So much time, effort, and money is spent protesting things like gay marriage. Why aren't Christians out in force writing to their Congressmen that they want to see more measures passed to prevent further environmental harm? I know there probably are lots of Christians out there working for things like the environment, and I'm not sure why I'm expecting the heads of the "Christian community" to care when they often do a terrible job representing Christ, but I think the lack of care in this area is fairly disappointing.
I realize I'm sounding pretty extreme right now, but don't worry, I haven't turned into a big treehugger overnight. Part of it is me just letting off steam from a variety of things. But I think this is an issue that more people need to pay attention to, and care about.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Jess and I drove down to Georgetown with Rob and Jen on Saturday to watch the first day of Bengals training camp. I'd never been to training camp before, and it was a good time. We had fun watching the practice. I was most interested in seeing the condition of Palmer's knee, and I have to say that the reports of his progress are not exaggerated. He wears a big brace on the knee but he was moving all over the place in the drills, taking drops and rolling out to throw on the run. I think the biggest test is going to be how it holds up when he starts to take hits. Even though he'll take hits in camp, it probably won't be till the preseason that we'll really see how well it holds up. I have a hard time thinking that the guys in practice aren't going to be hesitant to hit him as hard as they can, but another team will give it the true test. I took some pictures with the camera Jen brought, but apparently the camera doesn't like zooming in that far because they turned out kind of blurry for a digital camera. I guess I'm just a bad photographer.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The good news is that Mathias Askew probably wasn't going to make the team anyway, and after this I'm all but certain he'll be cut. I'd like to see them put provisions in the contracts of "troubled" players like Frostee Rucker and A. J. Nicholson where if they get in some kind of trouble, then they forfeit parts of their salary. Similar to the clauses some teams have about players engaging in dangerous activities. I think there's a possibility we may even see Henry get cut from the team if Antonio Chatman and Tab Perry perform well in training camp, but I'm not holding my breath.
I made a big change to my class schedule yesterday that should allow me to graduate on time. I was going to be one quarter behind on Spanish, as I put off taking it till this summer. I'm halfway through the first class right now, but forgot to sign up for the next one after this in the last third of summer quarter. Since we're going to New Jersey for a week anyway, I figured I might as well just take it in the fall and just be a quarter behind. Well when I was talking to my mom about my classes, I realized that I'd only be missing four days of class while in New Jersey. Sure, four days is a lot for a three and a half week class, but if it's a matter of choosing between four days and another whole quarter, I'll gamble on missing four classes. I'm going to talk to the prof and see if we can work something out, but either way I'm taking it because it had open spots. I managed to get into the next Spanish class in the fall just fine, I didn't even have to shuffle my current schedule around. I was looking forward to not having any more classes after next week, but this will be worth it in the long run.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The other big announcement was the most surprising: Team Fortress 2 is in fact very much alive, and will also be bundled with Episode 2. This is a game that has been in limbo almost as long as Duke Nukem Forever. The biggest change is the artwork for the game; the characters look like something out of a Pixar movie. Their figures are cartoonish and exaggerated. Personally, I think it's a great look. Team Fortress isn't about realism, it's about fun. The video didn't show any gameplay, just the character models, so it isn't really known whether Valve is planning on it being the revolutionary multiplayer game they said it would be seven years ago. I'm guessing after all this time, and after games like the Battlefield series that have already done with Valve planned to do with TF2, that the game will be more like a port to the Source engine. But if they're including it free with Episode 2, that's okay by me.
M. Knight Shyamalan's Lady in the Water comes out this weekend. I was planning on seeing it, but it's not getting the best reviews, and after the mediocre Village, I'm a little hesitant now. There really haven't been many movies I've been looking forward to this year. I'm tired of superhero movies, and I was bored with Pirates of the Caribbean before it even came out because I knew it would be more of the same (they made it LONGER than the first?! Doesn't anyone hire an editor anymore?). One of the few I am definitely excited about is Miami Vice. Michael Mann has put out some great movies (HEAT, Collateral) and this looks like it will be more of the same. Jamie Foxx is a good actor, and while Colin Farrell isn't my favorite, he's usually pretty good in these action roles.
And then there's Snakes on a Plane which sounds so terrible that it almost makes me want to see it.