Saturday, July 01, 2006

Memories Like Fingerprints Are Slowly Raising

Vs - Peal Jam

If the MTV Unplugged series is the best music show devised for television, then VH1 Storytellers is a close second. But both have become sporadic at best with only Alicia Keys getting the Unplugged treatment recently and Storytellers only produced three shows last year and is airing the first one of this year tonight starring . It should be interesting the stories the band tells after being in hibernation for about a decade, but at the very least the performances will be solid and hopefully top heavy of earlier albums.

In honor of their performance tonight, it seems apropos that I induct one of their albums into the Scooter Hall of Fame this month and for my money is the pinnacle of their career. Ten was a great debut, but was bogged down by the grunge sound at times while Vitology had some better songs, but it was also a decent into lunacy with songs like Bugs and the closing “song.” But it is Vs. where everything came together, expanding on the grunge sound, to make the best album of their career.

Vs. starts out with the one-two punch of Go and Animal, two songs that, if they can’t get your blood pumping, nothing will. But the band quickly showed their growth next with Daughter where they were able to slow things down without going into the power ballad cliché. The musicianship really shines through on the song and I love the ambiguity of the lyrics with the booklet saying the line in “violins (ence).” Granted intelligibility of Eddie Vedder doesn’t work because for a long time I thought he was saying “a glorified version of a pelican.”

Dissident features one of the best riffs the band has come up with making you wonder how the duel attack of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready are always absent from best guitarist list, but that may be the answer, that there is two of them. The band takes a complete left turn on W.M.A. with its percussion and bass heavy song about police brutality and still has yet come close to creating another song like it which is somewhat of a same. Rats may not have been the best song on the album, but you got to love the shoutout at the end.

Near the end of the album are two of my favorite Pearl Jam songs starting with the pulsing Rearviewmirror. I remember after getting my license a few years later and I loved playing this song at night in the summer on a country road with the windows down as each passing headlight telling a different story as the song made a perfect soundtrack. There was just a sense of optimism to the song. On the other hand Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town took a much more subtle approach and after two albums filled with doom and gloom, the song was a refreshing breath of clarity and simplicity and could be my favorite Pearl Jam song not titled Betterman.

The album ends with the haunting Indifferent, yet another chance the band took and the line, “I’ll swallow poison until I grow immune” still sends a chill down my spine to this day. The diversity and the and all the successful risks the band took on Vs. makes it a welcome addition to the SHoF. And yes, I do have one of the copies of the CD without the title on it. (If you remember, the band did have a name for the album when it when to print, so the first shipment went out without Vs. appearing on the album anywhere.)

Friday, June 30, 2006

She Did Not See My “A” Game

Must Love Dogs

During yesterday’s post, I slipped in that Jerry Maguire was one of the few chick flicks that guys can actually enjoy because it had football for us to focus on. As for chick flicks, that’s pretty much the list except for one caveat; oddly enough who has somehow make a career out of making watchable romantic comedies from hoisting up the jukebox in Say Anything all the way up to one of the best movies of the past ten years, High Fidelity.

Cusack’s latest entry into the genre is Must Love Dogs, a movie centered on what seems to be a booming business, internet dating. Both Cusack and his female counterpart, , are recently divorced yet not ready to get back into the game. But thanks to some nosey family members and an over-sex lawyer, both inadvertently make into the world of on-line dating. Sadly that’s where the hilarity stops.

The start of the movie starts off with a few chucklers and looks to be focused on the two main characters as they are forced to get back on the horse. But once the internet profile is set up, it quickly turns into Lane’s movie and Cusack wrongly takes a back seat. At this point the movie is rarely romantic or comedic, which is never good for a film that is supposed to be in the genre. Speaking of underused, Stockard Channing is grossly underused as one of Lane’s father’s girlfriends. Much like the Cusack character, Channing’s looked as if they had a bigger part for it, but never got around to fleshing it out.

Plenty of romantic comedy cliché about most notably the obligatory spontaneous break out into song scene. Ironically enough , who may have started this cliché in My Best Friend’s Wedding, is involved in the scene and adds to the insainity of the premise by rushing to the piano to accompany the singing. And what mobile home doesn’t have a piano? The biggest fraud of this movie hough is that not only did neither main character actually own a dog; didn’t even appear in the movie. What a shame.

Must Love Dogs gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

You Can Tell Everybody This Is Your Song

In a story I broke here, I went to a wedding this weekend. That really isn’t of note because it basically like every wedding I’ve ever been too. Well except that I got a little slack for not giving a wedding gift. Am I wrong to think that you should only have to buy someone only one wedding present in their lifetime no matter how many times they remarry? But anyways. Last summer did a very good job mocking weddings, although the crashers would have been wise to skip this wedding as all the bridesmaids were married and the only available chicks there were more like to be flower girls than bridesmaids.

As great as Wedding Crashers was as poking fun at the event, it did miss a couple key wedding events first and foremost how every wedding DJ plays the exact same playlist which hasn’t been updated in a decade or so. I think the only song they played that has been released since I hit puberty was some hillbilly song about riding horses and/or cowboys that successfully dropped my IQ a couple points by listening to it. I only know it was a fairly new song because my sister, my hillbilly music expert, informed me of this. But back on topic, it’s like wedding DJ’s haven’t picked up any new music since the advent of the CD. Granted I had to chuckle when he put on Shout (Parts 1& 2) because of the scene in Wedding Crashers. Too bad there were not any unattached chicks there that wouldn’t have been carded at the bar to reenact that scene. Oh well.

But the real genesis of this post is another aspect of a wedding that the movie sadly didn’t address was the first dance song. Now I wrote a dissertation back in college stating that “Your Song” has a direct correlation to divorce. If “Your Song” is I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith, don’t expect to be getting to the bronze anniversary. Also if you are a dude and you get stuck with “Your Song” that was written by Diane Warren, it’s time for your man card to be revoked. It doesn’t bode well for this bride that for the second time had a hillbilly song as “Their Song.” It may have actually been the same song, but I can’t be for certain as all hillbilly songs start to sound alike after a while.

Unfortunately you cannot just declare “Your Song” because it has to happen organically and must be mutually agreed upon without actually being discussed. This usually happens at a romantic interlude, in high school this is typically during your first kiss during a slow dance at Homecoming. Although if you are high school sweethearts you do run the risk of having some pretty cheesy songs being played and no one want I Swear by All 4 One following them ten years later. Them there are the people that miss interoperate song. I don’t know how many weddings I been to in the past decade that have had Crash into Me by the Dave Matthews Band as the first dance not knowing that the song is in the point of view of a stalker. Okay, if you meet your future husband lurking outside your window, the song may fit, but everyone else you may want to find something else.

Since I’m long past the awkward high school dance phase, it is a little easier to set up an organic moment for “Your Song.” And here are some of the songs on the top of my list to use during those situations (in no particular order):

Your Song (Elton John) - Yeah it’s the archetypical “Your Song,” but it’s old enough that not many people will be using it as they all go for Your Body Is a Wonderland if they’ve outgrown Crash into Me.

Have a Little Faith in Me (John Hiatt) - Quite possible the most romantic song ever written, and currently on the top of my list potential “Your Songs.” If Hiatt’s a little too obscure for you, you can also check out versions by Joe Cocker, Jewel, or Mandy Moore.

Every Time I Close My Eyes (Babyface) - Another oldie but goodie, this time from my formative years, back when R&B was good babymaking music. Granted back then there wasn’t many chances fore babymaking back then, but isn’t that what the wedding night for? Then throw in some Mariah Carey and Kenny G for the ladies and it’s like the of music (both dudes and chicks can enjoy).

I Believe (When I Fall in Love it Will Be Forever) (Stevie Wonder) - If Have a Little Faith in Me is the most romantic song ever written, this runs a close second. And has no barring on this song being on this list (okay, maybe a little).

Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own (U2) - Maybe not the most romantic song on the list being that the song is about Bono’s dad, but no one is better at songs about relationships and the song’s theme is a great way to start any relationship especially the marriage kind.

‘Til Kingdom Come (Coldplay) - Kind of obscure as it was stuck in the back of their last album as a not so hidden track. The one drawback is that it doesn’t have a very danceable quality so it hinders its first dance appeal. But say if you are musically inclined and can rework the song and slow it down for that very purpose, it would definitely score extra points for you.

This is in no way a definitive list, just some songs that have popped into my head, so feel free to add your own in the comment section or tell me of a song that has worked for you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I Wish I Was Mr. Gates

I have to admit I was a late-comer to , but I’ve found myself spend more and more time on the sight checking out mostly live performances, although I wish people would stop posting crapping videos taken off their camera phones because the quality is usually horrible. Even one of my favorite reads, recently inducted thirty-three videos into the You Tube Hall of Fame including videos of Beavis and Butthead watching Hulk Hogan’s video and the top 10 baseball fights (how was the minor leaguer who mule kicked the catcher not number one; greatest move ever). And don’t let the Sports Guy moniker fool you because, much like the 9th Green, it's not just about sports as he takes on pop culture too, but you may want to skip whenever he starts going on and on about Boston sports. But anyways. Aside from the videos on his list, here are some videos I’m checking out.

Bruce Springsteen - Pay Me My Money Down (Conan O’Brien)

I used to be a faithful watcher of (which I once appeared, sadly which hasn’t got onto You Tube yet) but as I grow older, I, much like Tony Kornheiser, can’t stay awake to watch it anymore. But I still check out the late night shows to see if they have any great guests on to tape (I’m not cool enough to Tivo) and that was the case Friday with on . If this is any indication of what his tour is going to be like, I’m, going to have to pick up some tickets. But while watching it, I swear I saw Conan O’Brien on acoustic guitar and low and behold, it was him. They even let , who was on earlier for an “In the Year 2000” bit, play the spoons and if you look closer, you can see in the background playing the glockenspiel or something.

The Raconteurs - Steady as She Goes

This video has something to live up to as Jack White’s other band; always has great videos. The Raconteurs video doesn’t disappoint, but for some reason this video reminds me of an old cartoon that involved racing and included a dog, thing was named Dastardly or something like that, and it’s now totally bothering me that I can’t remember the name. It doesn’t help that Black would looked exactly like the baddie in the cartoon if he put on a top hat.

Ashlee Simpson - Invisible

This video should put to rest all those plastic surgery rumors following these days because it is now obvious that she didn’t go under the knife, instead it was the lead singer of that beat the ugly out of her. I love how the video is in black and white to give it the serious edge, but only succeeds in making it harder not to laugh while watching it. What sad though is that I reviewed her album (Hey, How Long Till the Music Drowns You Out?) and don’t even remember this song. Although I don't see this song in iTunes, does this means she has a new album coming out? Maybe that meteor set to hit the Earth on Monday will turn out to be a good thing after all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We Know by Now to Say Enough

Dusk and Summer - Dashboard Confessional

One of the best shows has ever produced, back when they actually has musical programs, was the iconic Unplugged. Almost the music heavyweights from the eighties and nineties picked up the acoustic guitar for the seminal series. Then MTV switched to a lifestyle network and the show disappeared. It was later picked up by its sister station (keep in mine this was also back in a time when MTV2 actually showed videos before it became a second rate and a place of MTV castoff show). Needless to say I was excited to see the show’s return although one of the bands on the lineup, , I wasn’t really aware of.

What surprised me when I tuned into their performance was how the lead singer didn’t even sing much as the audience took over and more times than not drowned him out when he did sing. The songs were refreshing as teen pop and rap-metal dominated the channel with heart on their sleeve songs. A few years and an album later, the band is back with more of the same for their new album .

The album starts off with the bombastic Don’t Wait where Chris Carraba sets the tone early with belting out a soaring intro. That energy keeps up for most of the album which actually is a downside of the album because it sounds as if they are trying to hard to make stadium anthems. But I’m not sure crowds are ready to sing “My capillaries scream” along with Carraba as that phrase gets old soon. And what is that metaphor supposed to mean anyways? I let Screaming Infidelities slide because the phrase sounded cool, but I’m going to need an explanation to how, why capillaries scream.

One of few times they do take it down a notch is for So Long, So Long. It’s almost apropos that Adam Duritz helps out with vocals on the song because mastered the heart on the sleeve song long before Dashboard Confession came along. Currents followes the same theme but unfortunately, Duritz didn’t rub off enough to help the rest of the album sound mediocre at best. Then again, Duritz hasn’t had that much of a rub on his own band’s last couple albums.

Song to Download - So Long, So Long

Dusk and Summer gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, June 26, 2006

We on Award Tour: 2006 ESPY Nominations

The ESPY’s are quickly becoming even more entertaining than the MTV Awards season granted half of the readers here may not even know what they are, and that half most likely like dudes (ESPY’s are awards given out by ESPN, just don’t ask me what they stand for). This year, fresh off his retirement, Lance Armstrong host and it’s already been announced that a group of female Afghani women who set up soccer matches for the fairer sex will be receiving the Arthur Ashe Award, a segment that always ranks as the one of the most emotional moments of the year and enough reason to watch. Now, much like the Grammy’s, there are way too many categories to list here, plus I have no desire to pick who is the dude who can turn left for five hours the best, so check out all the nominees and vote on the page at and be sure to check out the awards July 16th. Now on to my predictions:

Best Male Athlete
Lance Armstrong (Cyclist)
Vince Young (University of Texas Football)
Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seahawks)
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardnals)

Who Will Win: Lance Armstrong
Who I Voted For: Lance Armstrong

First off, where’s Dwayne Wade? How does LeBron get the nod over him? Really, this category is easy because you can eliminate the three people that didn’t win anything. Not that it really matters as Armstrong will run away with the award like he always does when Tiger Woods isn’t involved (and sometimes when he is).

Best Female Athlete
Annika Sorenstam (Golfer)
Hannah Teter (Snowboarder)
Sheryl Swoops (WNBA)
Melanie Troxel (Drag Racer)

Who Will Win: Annika Sorenstam
Who I Voted For: Hannah Teter

A pretty pathetic group her with two chicks who’s sports barley qualify as sports, but I gotta go with the gold winner.

Best Team
Maryland Lady Terrapins Basketball
Chicago White Sox
University of Texas Football
Pittsburg Steelers
Miami Heat

Who Will Win: Pittsburg Steelers
Who I Voted For: Miami Heat

The Steelers had a decent run, but being a Browns fan, I cannot vote for them ever, I’m going with the Heat instead because Shaq winning a title without Kobe, making him look even worse is a good thing and it makes up for Wade’s oversight for Best Male Athlete.

Best Coach/Manager
Ozzie Guillen (Chicago White Sox)
Bill Cowher (Pittsburg Steelers)
Billy Donavan (University of Florida Basketball)
Jim Larranaga (George Mason Basketball)
Pat Riley (Miami Heat)

Who Will Win: Bill Cowher
Who I Voted For: Jim Larranaga

Cowher’s is obviously out out, Donavan ruined my March Madness bracket, Riley didn’t even coach the whole season. So even though I fear Guillen will call me names if I don’t vote for him, I’m going with Larranaga because I gotta give a fellow Mid Major some love.

Best Game
Andre Agassi vs. James Blake (US Open)
Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves (Game 4 NLDS)
USC vs. Texas (National Championship)

Who Will Win: National Championship
Who I Voted For: Game 4 NLDS

This was easy for me as I not only watched just one of these games, I even blogged about it - The New Killer B(urke). Only the sixth walk off/series ending home run ever the cap off the longest postseason game ever. Much better than watching an overrated team get beat.

Best Championship Performance
Vince Young (University of Texas)
Venus Williams (Tennis)
Sam Hornish Jr. (Indycar Driver)
Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)

Who Will Win: Vince Young
Who I Voted For: Dwayne Wade

Let me get this straight, the left turn only circuit has a championship? Wait, never mind, I don’t care. But here’s my argument for Wade, the Heat lost Game 3 getting ready for a sweep, but somehow was able to single handedly save the game and then made sure his team didn’t lose again in the series. Again, who was he not in the Best Male Athlete category?

Best Moment
Kobe Bryant - 81 Point Game
Dakoda Dowd - LPGA Attempt
Jason McElwain - Manager, Shooter
George Mason - Final Four Run

Who Will Win: Jason McEwain
Who I Voted For: Dakoda Dowd

Throw Bryant out right away and I already gave George Mason some love earlier, so for me this comes down to the two heart-tuggers. For those that don’t watch Sportcenter, here’s the lowdown on the other two; McElwain was an autistic manager for his high school basketball team. Then in the team’s last home game, the coach let him go in during some garbage time and hit six three-pointers, scoring twenty points in four minutes. Dowd on the other hand got a sponsor’s exemption to play in an LPGA tournament, giving her mother, who is dying from bone cancer, a chance to fulfill her dream of seeing her kid play in a pro event. Dowd almost made the cut going two over par even among the immense media presence at the event.

Best Play
Nathan Vasher - NFL’s Longest Play
Tyrone Prothro - Alabama’s Unbelievable Catch
David Wright - One Handed Catch
Aaron Rowand - Nose for the Team
Reggie Bush - Punt Return TD

Who Will Win: Reggie Bush
Who I Voted For: Aaron Rowand

As a defensive guy, I love seeing the Web Gems on Baseball Tonight and Rowand’s catch was one of the best. Keep in mind that the bases were loaded with two outs some if he doesn’t get that ball, that’s three runs that likely score.

Best Comeback
Teddy Bruschi (New England Patriots)
Ronnie Turiaf (Los Angeles Lakers)
James Blake (Tennis)

Who Will Win: Teddy Bruschi
Who I Voted For: James Black

Bruschi will most likely win in a landslide, but I was a little queasy of him coming back that soon from a stroke. Blake on the other hand came back from a fractured vertebrae, contracted a debilitating virus, all the while losing his father to cancer. After all that, he made it to the finals of a major.

Best Breakthrough Athlete
Kimmie Meissner (Figure Skating)
Shawn White (Snowboarder)
Chris Paul (New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets)
Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitols)

Who Will Win: Shawn White
Who I Voted For: Chris Paul

Meissner didn’t even medal in the Olympics, I already thought White broke out along time ago, but Paul was the best rookie in the NBA even though the team that drafted him didn’t even have a permanent place to play. You gotta have heart to play under those conditions.

Best Record-Breaking Performance
Ben Roethlisberger - Youngest QB to Win a Superbowl
Shaun Alexander - Most TD’s in a Season
Mike Metzger - Backflip over the Fountains at Caesars
Kalen Pimental - American LLWS Strikeout Record

Who Will Win: Shaun Alexander
Who I Voted For: Shaun Alexander

Being the youngest/oldest is a pretty cheap record especially at a team sport and what exactly was Metzger’s record? Since you can never be sure of a Little Leagers age, I’m going with Alexander.

Best College Male Athlete
Vince Young (University of Texas)
Reggie Bush (University of Southern Cal)
Matt Leinart (University of Southern Cal)
J.J. Redick (Duke University)
Adam Morrison (Gonzoga University)

Who Will Win: Vince Young
Who I Voted For: Adam Morrison

Both Redick and Bus are looking at violations against the law and NCAA rules repesctively. Leinart gets thrown out for the double no-no of hanging out with Nick Lashay and dating Paris Hilton. So Morrison edges out Young by a moustache.

Best Baseball Player
Albert Pujols (St. Louis Cardinals)
Chris Carpenter (St. Louis Cardinals)
Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees)
David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox)

Who Will Win: Albert Pujols
Who I Voted For: Albert Pujols

Ortiz gets thrown out for only showing up four-five times a game, really how cheap is that? This should be a runaway for Pujols, but where is Johan Santana?

Best NBA Player
Kobe Bryant (Los Angles Lakers)
Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns)
LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)

Who Will Win: Dwayne Wade
Who I Voted For: Dwayne Wade

I think I’ve spent more time talking about basketball today then spent watching it the past year, so let’s move on.

Best NFL Player
Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seashawks)
Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)
LaDainian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers)
Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)
Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears)

Who Will Win: Shaun Alexander
Who I Voted For: Shaun Alexander

I’m beginning to think there are more ESPY awards than Grammy’s at this point, moving along:

Under Armour Undeniable Performance Award
A.J. Hawk (Ohio State)
Matt Leinart (University of Southern California)
Kobe Bryant (Los Angles Lakers)
Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)

Who Will Win: Kobe Bryant
Who I Voted For: Ryan Howard

WARNING: Blatant product placement. I have no idea what this award is supposed to represent, but I’ll go with Howard just because.

GMC Professional Grade Play Award
Doug Flutie (New England Patriots)
Candice Parker (University of Tennessee)
Antwaan Randle-El (Pittsburge Steelers)
Aaron Rowand (Philadelphia Phillies)

Who Will Win: Doug Flutie
Who I Voted For: Doug Flutie

So how exactly does this differ from Best Play (which Rowand is also nominated for)? Are these the ones that GMC executives hand picked? But anyways. I believe Flutie is here for the drop kick he had during his final season, so I’ll go with him.

Now I'm not entirely sure what catergory it should be nominated in, but this deserves a nomination for next year. My favorite part is when he brings out the water bottle. All tirades need props.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Are You Ready for Some Football - Knockout Edition

The knockout round of the World Cup started yesterday and I was able to correctly pick seven of the sixteen teams in their correct seeding from my original picks (see - Are You Read for Some Football?). As for the round robin games themselves, I was fairly mediocre ranking in the 50th percentile in their pick ‘em game. I was unable to correctly pick every game in a single group but went five of six in Group H missing only the Saudi Arabia-Tunisia tie. On the other side, the group of death lived up its name as I only got one match correct, Italy over Ghana.

I was unable to post my revisionist picks for the knockout round yesterday as I was stuck at a wedding, so here are those, unchanged from what I chose from what I picked from the ESPN game on Friday:

Round of Sixteen
Germany over Sweden
Argentina over Mexico
Ecuador over England (oops)
Netherlands over Portugal
Italy over Australia
Ukraine over Switzerland
Brazil over Ghana
Spain over France

Germany over Argentina
Italy over Ukraine
Netherlands over Ecuador
Brazil over Spain

Germany over Italy
Brazil over Netherlands

3rd Place
Netherlands over Italy

Brazil over Germany (3-1)