Tuesday, October 31, 2006

i will dream within the night

Trick or treat, kids.

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

if you ain't dead then sing along

Vote for the Bengals in Chunky's Click For Cans contest. The Bengals are currently the "Most Improved Clicks" and have overtaken the Steelers for first place.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

sunday was a bright day yesterday

My disgust with the Bengals coaching and play calling took a 180-degree turn during the second half of Sunday's game. I was fairly livid about the conservative play calling going into halftime. I realize that the offensive line was having trouble giving Palmer time, but the Bengals were making no attempt to take shots down the field. I was especially frustrated with our last possession of the half; with 40 seconds and two timeouts, we had nothing to lose by trying to move down the field for a field goal or shot at the end zone, but the coaches simply let time expire. The camera's shot of Chad Johnson heading into the the locker room at halftime with his head slumped dejectedly said it all. Marvin Lewis did not seem to have any faith in his offense.

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

fame, makes a man take things over

Rob, Jen, Doug, and I headed down to a sneak preview of The Prestige tonight. I can safely say that it is one of the best films I've seen all year. Nearly everything about the movie was fantastic. The casting really could not have been better. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are outstanding in the leading roles. Plus they are supported by a great cast including Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, and even the Thin White Duke and Smeagol themselves, David Bowie and Andy Serkis. The story is about two rival magicians in late-eighteenth century London who will stop at nothing to upstage and ruin one another. That's probably not a great summary but I'm too tired to come up with something better. The writing definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat with all the different twists and turns. It's also not the kind of movie that has a big twist at the end, but which fails to make any sense when you look at the rest of the movie. Everything fits very well. Christopher Nolan has done a fantastic job yet again; The Prestige will rate right up there with Memento and Batman Begins. I saw it for free, but it is certainly worth paying to see.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

don't want me for a sunbeam

It's becoming difficult to not feel very pessimistic about the rest of the Bengals' season this year. With their tough schedule, they'll be lucky to finish at .500 if they don't stop playing at the sub-par level they have been. There are only three teams with losing records left on the schedule, one of which is Pittsburgh, who probably won't have one by the time we play them. There have been five problems that I think are most in need of fixing:
  • 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.
The most obvious culprit for these problems is the vast number of injuries this team has sustained. The team's depth at linebacker and wide receiver is now paper thin after all the injuries and suspensions have taken their tolls. The defense has suffered its share of casualties, losing David Pollack for the season, and being without Dexter Jackson, Brian Simmons, and Rashad Jeanty. Chris Perry has missed the first five weeks. Losing Rich Braham at center has been a huge problem and now it looks like we'll be without Levi Jones for several weeks. That doesn't bode well for an offensive line facing four of the best pass rushers in the next four weeks. With Chris Henry still suspended and Tab Perry and Kelley Washington injured, the team will have only Chad, TJ, and Chatman as healthy veteran receivers. Let's hope Palmer doesn't get hurt, with Anthony Wright out for several more weeks after an appendectomy.

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

angry walls that steal the air

Wow, I never knew that you weren't allowed to tackle the quarterback in football. A roughing the passer call because we sacked the quarterback?! I've said it before and I'll say it again, referee calls need to be reviewed by a committee every week, and refs need to be fined for terrible calls. Poor officiating cost Seattle the Super Bowl last year and it cost the Bengals the game today. Yes, the Bengals played poorly anyway, but there is no doubt in my mind that Tampa Bay would not have scored had the Bengals not been called for that ridiculous personal foul. The Buccaneer touchdown call itself was a tough call and I could see it going either way. That being said, since it was ruled an incomplete pass, I don't know that there was enough evidence to overturn that call from the video. But that roughing the passer penalty was an inexcusable call, and ultimately decided the game.

What a horrible weekend for sports.

i'm a searchlight soul they say

I was really hoping I'd be able to report on Rich Franklin's marvelous fourth defense of his middle weight UFC title from Anderson Silva tonight, but sadly Rich was dominated and lost the belt. Needless to say, that was highly disappointing. I'm not going to complain about how dumb it was that Silva got a title shot after just one UFC victory, because what's done is done. Hopefully Rich will be back in the Octagon soon.

In better news, I got another email from Pfc. Jason Burke from Iraq:

Dear Dave

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
you posted.

Your Friend

Jason N. Burkee

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

burning down the highway skyline

Let's face it, when it comes to music these days, I live up to my reputation as a bitter old man. I don't know what the big thing is about this "emo" the kids are all into these days. I'm not even a big fan of retro-rock like The Strokes or The White Stripes. So it was pretty unusual for me to get into a new-wave revival band like The Killers. I thought their debut Hot Fuss was a great retro-80s pop album, with synthesizers and poppy hooks galore.

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

waiting like a stalking butler

I'm announcing the official launch of The Asylum blog, where Rob, Austin, Doug, and I (and Craig if he signs up) can post whatever crap we want. I guess it really has no point and will probably flounder and die within a month. It's also such a blatant rip-off of Justin Hall and Co.'s Wack MC's that they could probably sue us if they wanted.

Monday, October 02, 2006

convinced himself right in his brain

CBS Sportsline columnist Gregg Doyle wrote an article about how the Bengals' loss to the Patriots yesterday was "karma" and "justice" for all of our offseason problems. I sent the following response to Mr. Doyle. Yes, I realize the sad little man is just trying to get attention, probably because Mommy and Daddy didn't hug little Greggy enough as a child. But I just had to respond back:

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 Cincinnati or paid attention to fan reaction? Fans have constantly said they are sick and tired or these actions. People were calling for Chris Henry to be cut from the team months ago (something the club cannot do, as they would likely face and lose a grievance from the Players Association on Henry's behalf). People are glad to hear that Thurman is suspended for the year, and likely done as a Bengal. We don't want him here. A lot of fans did not think Nicholson or Rucker should make the team. So before you start making up your own conclusions on how the fans have reacted, maybe you should actually pay attention to how the fans have reacted.

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?