Monday, April 30, 2007

conquer nothing but our minds

Like most Bengals fans, I question the wisdom of taking running back Kenny Irons in the second round of last weekend's NFL draft, but I think you can make arguments both ways on picking him. Leon Hall falling to us in the first round was a blessing (although Darrelle Revis would have been nicer if the Jets hadn't traded up to steal him), giving our secondary some of the boost it needs. I think the Bengals were targeting a defensive player again in the second round, but right before our pick there was a run on linebackers and defensive linemen (including the Jets again trading up above us to steal another of our defensive prospects), leaving us without a good player to pick. We could have reached down for a lower-tier player, but instead the coaching staff chose to address the Chris Perry problem. Clearly they don't feel that Perry will be ready for this season, and there's little question that Irons will be an impact player. That said, it may have been better to address the bigger holes on defense instead of tweaking the minor problems on offense.

Let's not forget that you have to count Ahmad Brooks when you consider this year's draft (the Bengals used their third round pick for this year by taking Brooks in last year's supplemental draft). With the extra experience from last year under his belt, Brooks is worth more than a third-round pick now. So that's two of the first three picks being used on defense. Then we took Marvin White in the fourth round, making it three for four on defense. I think White will be a good third safety to compliment Madieu Williams and Dexter Jackson. Plus, I believe this is the last year of Jackson's contract, giving us a good prospect to replace him.

Some people might also complain about taking quarterback Jeff Rowe in the fifth, but I think that was a smart move. At the time of the draft the Bengals had Carson Palmer and Doug Johnson as the only quarterbacks on the roster. They had been talking to a couple of other veteran quarterbacks prior to the draft, but none of those quarterbacks nor Doug Johnson would make me feel comfortable about the Bengals' chances if, God-forbid, Palmer was hurt again. I think the popular consensus among Bengals fans is that if Palmer gets hurt, you can throw in the towel for the rest of the season. By taking Rowe, the Bengals have a player that they plan to groom as Palmer's long-term backup. Instead of always relying on questionable, aging veterans, the smart thing to do is to develop a reliable second string player. The only thing you could argue is that the fifth may have been a little high for this pick, especially in the face of a couple more glaring needs.

Add on a defensive tackle, a guard, and a strong safety in the last two rounds. You could still argue about holes needing to be filled at linebacker or center or tight end, but in all I think it worked out to be an above average draft. I think linebacker will be okay with Brooks back after having a full offseason and the re-signing of Caleb Miller and Landon Johnson. I think Alex Steponavich will do fine at center, leaving the lack of tight ends as our biggest glaring problem. When you consider that the Bengals have added a veteran on the defensive line in free agency, are still in talks with at least one veteran linebacker, that a lot of last year's injured draft picks like A.J. Nicholson and Frostee Rucker should be healthy, and that last year's standout defensive rookies- Jonathan Joseph, Domato Peko, and Ethan Kilmer- are back and should continue to improve, things don't look as bleak as a lot of people are making them out to be.

edit: I forgot to mention that Irons also gives us more big-play ability at running back. I love Rudi, and you can't beat his reliability, but the Bengals haven't had a run longer than 33 yards in 37 games, and their longest run last year was 22 yards in the season opener. Plus, Irons gives the Bengals a better receiving threat out of the backfield.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

wash your swollen feet

Hot Fuzz: I had pretty high expectations for this movie considering how much I liked Shaun of the Dead, and it didn't disappoint. It was a hilarious mixture of comedy, action, and even a little horror. A great spoof of police, action, and even slasher films. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost once again prove to be a funny leading duo. I don't think I would say it is quite as good as Shaun but it is by far the best movie I've seen all year, and it wouldn't surprise me if it is the best comedy that comes out in 2007.
4 out of 5 Davies.

Grindhouse: Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror was by far the better of the two features- a hilariously cheesy action/horror movie. The spoof trailers were fairly fantastic as well. Despite Kurt Russel's terrific performance, Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof was a fairly big yawn-fest. I like a lot of Tarantino's film but I think his own ego is his worst enemy sometimes, and Death Proof proved that well with all the self-indulgent dialogue that dragged the movie out far too long. Even the car-chase scene was boring.
3 out of 5 Davies.

Smokin' Aces: Stupid crap.
1/2 out of 5 Davies.

cold metal in my hand

Oh my goodness. Mixed Martial Arts might quite possibly be the most unpredictable sport ever.
Tonight marked the third crazy main event upset in as many UFC events. First we had Randy Couture's return from retirement to dominate Tim Sylvia for the heavyweight belt. Okay, it was surprising, but Couture is a UFC hall-of-famer, so it wasn't that much of a long shot. Then major underdog Matt Serra TKOed welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, considered one of the most dominant fighters in the weight class. Then tonight, it was PRIDE star and everyone's pick for the future heavyweight champion Mirko "Crop Cop" Filipovic against heavy underdog Gabriel Gonzaga. And Gonzaga won. Not only that... Gonzaga destroyed Cro Cop!

The second best heavyweight fighter in the world, and one of the world's top five pound-for-pound fighters, was just defeated in one of the most insane upsets in MMA history. Actually, upset doesn't even begin to describe it; it looked like Cro Cop's almost ended. Mikco is one of the best strikers in the world, and his kicks are quite possibly the most dangerous in all of MMA. If Gonzaga had any chance at all, people figured he might get Cro Cop on the ground and submit him. Instead, Gonzaga KOs him with the most devastating head kick I have ever seen. That was the last thing anyone could have ever foreseen happening. I'm still completely shocked that it happened. This has to be rigged, it is just too insane. These kind of crazy upsets don't happen in any other sport. While I'm a big Crop Cop fan and was really pulling for him to win, you can't help but enjoy the unpredictability of it all.

Friday, April 20, 2007

fadin' out like a stereo

I haven't posted anything about the whole Virginia Tech tragedy because, quite simply, I have nothing of worth to say about the situation. We're seeing the same textbook response to a disaster that we always see: relentless, insensitive media coverage, shameless politicians and pundits using this to further their own agendas and careers, a short-lived outpouring of grief and sympathy by the general public, and the desperate search for an explanation or a scapegoat. People want to blame gun laws, gun-free zones, video games, movies, whatever. It wouldn't matter if there were no guns in the world, or if every student in that campus had been armed in self-defense, or if violent entertainment was never created- these things would still happen because this world is screwed up and broken.

Friday, April 13, 2007

the way they only read about

Finally, the first good concert of 2007:
Tool - June 29 @ U.S. Bank Arena. Any takers?

This announcement somewhat alleviates the disappointment of all the good concerts and festivals this summer in Europe that include NIN, the reformed Smashing Pumpkins, NIN & Foo Fighters in Ireland, and most of all, NIN and Tool in Austria and Italy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

faces come out of the rain

I still plan on overhauling my entire blog layout, but I don't want to start until I have the time to sit down and do it all in one fell swoop. Which means it may not happen until after graduation.

Work is slowly progressing on my senior project. For the uninformed, the professor in my senior seminar wanted everyone to do their research projects on some aspect of Spiritualism- the belief that spirits of the dead can be contacted by mediums. Thrilling stuff, I know. I decided early on that I wanted to do something related to the Civil War since Spiritualism was very popular at the same time. When looking for primary sources from Spiritualists in the Union Army (almost all Spiritualists were in the North), I found two prominent Spiritualists who were also the commanding officers of black regiments. Spiritualism and the abolitionist movement had always been closely related, so I finally settled on looking at the connection between Spiritualist involvement and the integration of blacks into the war effort. I know what you're thinking- that's sounds so exhilarating that you just can't wait to get your hands on it. Yawn.

I've thought about possibly posting some of my papers on here before, in the off chance that someone might find them remotely interesting. I know Jess was interested in reading my paper on the Soviet-induced famine in the Ukraine. The two main problems I see, besides boring everyone from ever visiting my blog again, is that the posts would be far too long and that I wouldn't want to risk someone ripping off my very mediocre work. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

seperated from the swine

Roger Goodell flexed his muscles as NFL commissioner today, doling out suspensions to Chris Henry and Adam "Pacman" Jones- 8 games and the entire 2007 season, respectively. Sounds like Bengals fans seem to be split on this decision; either they're tired enough Chris Henry that they support a harsh punishment, or they feel that Henry is being used by Goodell as an example for his new tougher conduct policy. I fall in the latter category. Half the season is too unreasonable. I think Henry's punishment is far too strict considering what has already transpired:

  • Henry already served a two game suspension for the first two of his offenses (a suspension given out by Goodell)
  • The two offenses he is being punished for now both occurred before his first suspension (the league cannot punish players before matters are finished in court. All four of Henry's arrests occurred before he was punished at all; the first two cleared up faster and he was suspended for two games last year. These last two took longer to get resolved in court, so he could not be punished until now)
  • According to the article on, Henry's suspension is twice as long as any previous suspension for such a situation (not counting drug or gambling offenses)
I had expected Henry to get a very harsh suspension. I expected Goodell to make an example of him, but I didn't foresee that being more than a six game suspension at worst. I am glad Henry is being punished because the kid clearly needs some straightening out, but I don't support the way Goodell went about it. Needless to say, I hope Tab Perry and Antonio Chatman are ready to go this season.

His harsher conduct policy was also announced today, and I was alarmed to see that, under the new code, "Clubs will be subject to discipline in cases involving violations of the Personal Conduct Policy by club employees" (link). Basically, they will start punishing the clubs themselves for problems caused by their staff or players. On the surface this looks good, but the problem has already been that the teams' hands have been tied when it comes to disciplining their players. Everyone has heard someone remark that they wish the Bengals would just cut Henry. The reality is that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and players, there is a rule that players can only be cut for skill reasons and for conduct detrimental to the team. If the Bengals cut someone like Henry, they could face a challenge by the NFL Player's Union, which would lead to the team being punished. Also, as mentioned before, players could not be punished until their matters were resolved in court. This is why Marvin Lewis has benched Henry twice in the past two seasons.

Owners like Mike Brown have been advocating for more leeway for teams to punish their players. There's no indication that the teams are going to be given any more ability to punish players. Instead, Goodell is going to start punishing the teams themselves. He's not untying the teams' hands to let them punish players; it appears he's going to leave them tied up and resort to kicking them while they're restricted. Sounds fantastic.

Things are not off to a great start for the Goodell era as commissioner.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I finally watched 300, which was gloriously mediocre at best. It's a perfect example of a movie studio taking a film that is a cheesy b-movie and using marketing to sell it as the next big blockbuster. The best thing I can say for the film is that it looks great. I'd have to think for awhile to come up with something more than that. The acting is over the top at best, and downright embarrassing at worst. Leonidas barks a lot and does his best Braveheart speech imitation every ten minutes (which is never very good), his wife looks smug or angry, the one father-son duo try to show emotion, and the rest of the Spartans yell. The plot is fairly dull and the even the combat itself- the obvious draw for the film- is relatively unexciting. 300 reduces warfare to a slow-motion ballet that is interesting for all of ten minutes, and then usually drags. Okay, so maybe I'm being a little harsh and it's not quite that boring, but it could have been much more exciting. I kept feeling sense of déjà vu for Braveheart and Return of the King anytime someone gave another mediocre speech for freedom or when the next exotic adversary was introduced. Question: Can anyone tell me what Frank Miller's obesession with freaky deformed people is? First we saw them in Sin City and now in 300. Weird.

300 = 2 out of 5 Davies

in high def ultra-realism

My usual lack of self-control reared its head again today, and I succumbed to the temptation to listen to all of Year Zero instead of waiting till its released on the 17th. It was leaked on file-sharing sites and can now also be streamed straight from the official site.

After a couple listens, I can positively say that it surpasses
With Teeth in quality. The album seems very much like a mixture of Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral. Unlike WT, this album actually feels like it's a progression of previous albums. I like WT, and I can appreciate why it was a necessary step for Trent personally to make, but it felt like a detour musically. Now things are back on track and proceeding forward with YZ. Definitely has the most noise in a NIN album since TDS, and I can see why Trent gave a few nods to hip-hop albums or groups like Public Enemy in interviews about the album. Clearly this isn't a rap album, but there is a big emphasis on the rhythm and percussion. The drum machines are out in full-force, and while I really liked the live drumming on WT, it seems like that would be out of place on YZ. I can also see why Trent has mentioned that the usual rock band lineup might not be the best way to present this material, but I think it can be done. The only real downside is that once again there seems to be no influence from The Fragile on this record. The orchestrated soundscapes are still missing although the instrumentals have returned with a couple tracks.

Plus, the pictures for the slipcase have been posted on line.
Much cooler than the standard cover of "The Presence". Plus, the packaging sounds like it will be everything With Teeth should have been: slipcase over a "thermochrome" cover with a 24 page booklet, and who knows what other goodies.

Monday, April 02, 2007

gravity always wins

I can't say I'm too excited for tonight's NCAA basketball championship, as I fear a second straight title for Florida. Honestly, I'll be more angry about a Florida win than by an Ohio State loss, if that makes any sense. I cannot stand the arrogant style of play from Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, or their teammates; constant screaming, fist-pumping, bragging, and taunting. I'm so tired of seeing Noah's ugly mug howling like a beast like he's a superstar, and then turning around and showing his true colors by going 2-7 on free throws. Of course UCLA had to self-destruct against Florida by coming out colder than Hilary Clinton in the second half after only being down six points, simultaneously propelling Florida into the title game and torpeedoing my pathetic bracket's last hope for redemption. I've been waiting for OSU to choke the entire tournament, and although they have come close a few times, so far they have survived. If this game opens anything like the NCAA BCS Championship football game, with an OSU breakaway dunk or something like that, I'm turning it off before I see Florida dismantle them the rest of the game.