Saturday, December 30, 2006

Anti-Anti-Semitism and Wikipedia Go Hand in Hand

I vividly remember studying for finals in May 1998 piled into one of those ridiculously comfortable $10 garage sale chairs that doubled for high-class livin' when the sun began to peak through the curtains and Good Morning America began its daily broadcast.

As I muddled through my notes for Psych 444 it became evident that this broadcast was to be Charlie Gibson's last on GMA. In no time I wielded my calling card/call-back service/10-10-220 or whatever we used for long distance calls before cell phones and had my mom on the other end of the line. Be it his Midwestern charm, all-around decent looks, or clever banter with Joan Lunden, something made Charlie Gibson a fetching and innocent beau for my mom. No doubt, the news of Charlie's departure would throw her world - or at least her morning routine - into a tizzy.

Flash forward to tonight and I'm watching President Gerald Ford's casket being placed in the rotunda of the Capitol building on ABC and good ole' Gibson - now a respectable Charles nee Charlie - is anchoring the coverage. He lilts out some word with midwestern pronunciation and it gets me wondering where Charlie set his roots. I do a quick flash to Wikipedia and discover he's from Evanston, Illinois. Well, there you go - that's a Midwest/Indiana phrase similar to the British "Bob's yur uncle." I'm sure Charlie says it all of the time.

Rolling down to the Trivia section of the Gibson entry brought about a hilarious/tragic revelation. Wikipedia editors want all of us to know that Charlie Gibson is "not related to Mel Gibson."

Is it more likely that Mel Gibson's anti-semitism has caused unsettling confusion around the ABC water cooler or that Wikipedia editors are on a crusade to preserve the reputation of heartthrobs for 60-year-old women everywhere?

Wikipedia, once again proving 100% of people are right some of the time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Colts Love Voltron & Big Wheels...Tackling, not so much

After meeting the Hanson brothers in the immortal hockey chronicle Slap Shot, Reggie Dunlop is aghast that, "They brought their f*ckin' toys with 'em!"

Perhaps Tony Dungy should feel the same way.

Meer days after one of the most pitiful defeats in Colts history - a 27-24 undressing by the previously uber-defeatable Houston Texans - the Colts are in the Indianapolis Star gushing about their favorite Christmas gifts ever.

Of course, the calendar being what it is there aren't too many windows to fit into the local coverage how much safety Marlin Jackson loved the sh*t out of his Nintendo Game Boy. Yet, if I were the Colts and I had just given Ron Dayne his greatest Christmas present - a career best 153 rushing yards - I don't think I'd let it go to print that Dwight Freeney, Raheem Brock and Gary Brackett can't get enough of Voltron especially when they didn't sack David Carr once!

What's more depressing is that these gift stories illuminated heretofore unknown greatness...and the Colts organization ignored them. No one could stop three-year-old Dominic Rhodes or his Smurf big wheel which leaves me incredulous to why he would only carry twice for 15 yards and leave rookie Joseph Addai - who has no documented Big Wheel experience - to get the bulk of the workload...and almost a yard less per rush. (For the record 100 yards on 15 carries is officially studly. Nice work Joe.)

In all fairness, these interviews were most likely done well in advance of the Texans debacle so reporter Phillip B. Wilson might take a day off just like the Colts defense tends to do post week 10. Who am I to cast stones? Do all of the Blue Nation a favor though Colts. Beat Miami. And if you can't do it for your fans and yourselves, well...

Do it for Voltron.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

When Nerds Collide, part 3: A New Hope

Because I'm nothing if not a completist, I must encourage anyone who did not watch the culmination of the Stephen Colbert vs Decemberists feud to watch as soon as possible. The "Rock & Awe" challenge took up the entire episode, and featured an amazing cavalcade of guest stars including Morley Safer, Robert Schneider (of Apples in Stereo), Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone, New York governor-elect Eliot Spitzer, Peter Frampton (and his vocoder), Rick Neilsen, and Henry Kissinger!

While the actual results of the shred-off will be debated for years to come, Henry Kissinger put it best when weighing in with his vote: The American people won.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Coming to the UEFA Cup - Vatican Hoodlums

What on heaven or earth could be better than a soccer/futbol team owing its allegiance to the Holy See?

That's right, talk is the Vatican is thinking of fielding a soccer team that would compete at the professional level, possibly Italy's fabled Serie A.

We knew this was only a matter of time since most Europeans can't wait for the Rapture to settle the girding hostilities between good and evil. At the same time, the Vatican eleven can legitimately compete with the ever-present fascist clubs, kick their ass and then absolve them of their sins.

Can't you just see their uniform kits now? Black shorts and shirts with a splash of white for the Roman collar. The keeper could don a blazing cardinal set complete with zuchetto (that's the pope beanie for you uninitiated). FIFA may need to adopt a new rule for players with rosaries dangling from their hips. Offsides is already a venial sin. And all missed headers will be officially notated as JTB's in deference to John the Baptist losing his header to Herod's daughter, Salome.

The possibilities are endless. Much like their nicknames: Papists, Fish-eaters, Re-Lent-less. I can already see them lining up for an infamous Sr. Alma Marie "Go Stand in the Corner" kick.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bad Idea 2006 Music Review

2006 provided some of the best and worst in music. Without further ado, here is my haphazard look back.

A Random List of the most bothersome musical aspects of 2006:
  • Jay-Z's apathetic comeback album, that only served to sully his legacy. He really is the Michael Jordan of rap!
  • Any journalist who at any point referred to the Dixie Chicks as "courageous."
  • James Blunt
  • Good bands that keep getting their stuff stolen! Meanwhile, Hinder and Evanescence continue on with their gear unscathed. Where is the justice?
  • Me sitting in LA traffic, scanning through stations, and hearing a DJ say the words "I think that's the best song Nickelback has ever written."
  • 1 chorus, 4 words: "This is our country."
  • The continued obliteration of the Black Eyed Peas former greatness, brought on by their abysmal frontwoman.
  • Songs from Grey's Anatomy.
  • Brandon Flowers' mustache.

But why reflect only on the negative when there were many positive stories as well. Many artists put out great albums, with a few of my favorites including The Twilight Singers, Silversun Pickups, Regina Spektor, Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses, Girl Talk, Bob Dylan, and many others. And a few arbitrary categories...

Most Relieving Major Label Debut of the Year:

"The Crane Wife" by the Decemberists

It had all the makings of a disaster - a heralded indie band jumping up to Capitol Records. A bigger studio and a bigger budget for Colin Meloy, who has constantly teetered the line of turning epic parables into self-indulgent sprawling messes. But to my surprise, Meloy did not take the overtly grandiose route. If anything, he scaled things back a bit, focusing on the songwriting and making the most consistent album the band has put out. And they still had time to take on Stephen Colbert.

The Decemberists - The Crane Wife 3 (mp3)
The Decemberists - Yankee Bayonet (mp3)

Best New Ambassador for hip hop:
Lupe Fiasco

In a year where Jay-Z's comeback album was eagerly anticipated (only to result in a huge letdown), it was Jay's signee Lupe Fiasco who created not only the best hip-hop album of the year, but also the best ever rap song about the trials and tribulations of skateboarders.

Lupe Fiasco - Kick, Push (mp3)

Best Video of the Year (that everyone has seen):

In a year when dozens of truly great videos were made, many utilizing state-of-the-art technology, shoestring budget camera tricks, and overall ingenuity, who would guess that the most lasting impression would a static one-take shot made by four guys on treadmills.

Best Video of the Year (that very few have seen):

The band (which has 29 members) is called I'm From Barcelona. The song is called "We're From Barcelona" and it will embed itself in your skull. The video is nearly as low-budget at OK Go's, and it features odd-looking Swedes with mustaches. Could you ask for more? I contend that you could not. I predict that this album (due out in March) will be one of the best of 2007 - put it in the paper.

Best Single of the Year:
"Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley

You've heard it dozens upon dozens of times by now, but don't let the saturation effect the essence of the song. Everyone who heard it for the first time was immediately intrigued, and that's something that just doesn't happen much in music any more. An unparalleled blend of neo-soul, funk, and pop music, every second of the 2:58 running time is perfect. And Cee-Lo's pipes are in killer form. This unique alternate version from Top of the Pops is epic as well.

Best Album of the Year:
"Boys and Girls in America" by The Hold Steady

Much ado was made of The Killers aping Bruce Springsteen on their 2006 release, but The Hold Steady truly channeled the spirit of the E-Street Band here, while adding in some old-fashioned Midwestern sneer just for good measure. This album and band are clearly divisive in terms of critical acclaim, and they're not for everyone. Craig Finn's nasally rants are either embraced or reviled, but he actually took a shot at singing on a few songs, and his presence puts this album over the top. The track "Chillout Tent" will take its rightful place as the 21st century indie-rock "Summer Lovin'," and it features guest vocals from Dave Pirner to boot! God bless us all.

The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations (mp3)
The Hold Steady - Chillout Tent (mp3)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

When Nerds Collide, part 2

The ongoing Stephen Colbert vs The Decemberists feud has proven to be an entertaining back and forth volley of challenges, counter challenges, and overall one-upsmanship. Now it appears that there is a date set for the final duel. Stephen Colbert accepted The Decemberists latest counter challenge for a guitar solo duel (and showcased a hilarious '80's look in the process.)

Mark your calendars for "The Colbert Report" on December 20th. It should be a classic battle.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wii Shall Overcome

If you haven't checked out yet, I can't recommend it enough. It's the number one source for checking out all forms of injuries and damage to personal property caused through using the Nintendo Wii. Of all the great wii-related videos I've seen recently, this one is by far my favorite. It features 60 seconds of heartwarming father-daughter bonding through video golf, with a truly outstanding line delivery at the end that makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Idea for Santa

If anyone is looking to buy me a Christmas present, this will do nicely.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Still Dancing

Dan Monson was forced out of the head coaching position at Minnesota last week after opening the season 2 - 5 with stunning defeats at the hands of teams like D-2 Winona State (The obvious matchup with Rider makes me thirsty for this season's Edward Scissorhands Invitational).

Monson, who took over the bench in 1999 following the great Clem Haskins farce, received a $1.1 million dollar buyout from his contract and turned over the reins to assistant coach Jim Molinari. It doesn't seem that Monson got rid of all of his duties though.

According to the latest USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 poll, Monson is still a voting member of said poll. Big deal? I think so. The poll reflects the input of 31 coaches from Jim Boeheim at Syracuse to Ron "Fang" Mitchell at Coppin State. These coaches represent less than 10% of all Division 1 schools, and Monson isn't even officially coaching anymore!

Of course, I hope that I'm wrong and Monson's dismissal from his duties at Minnesota voided his poll chores. Yet, if Monson is still voting, what credence are we to give to these rankings? At some point Air Force (currently #23) will hear a chant of "O-ver-ra-ted" that they'll now deserve for so many more good reasons.

It could be worse, though. This could be the BCS.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Screw USC: Hawaii Wants the Buckeyes

The Hawaii "Don't-call-me-rainbow" Warriors defeated the Purdue Boilermakers last weekend in a 42-35 slugfest. Hawaii gave up all 35 points in the second half after holding Purdue scoreless to that point. It took another strong-armed drive at the hands of stunning quarterback Colt Brennan to lock up the victory for the newly ranked Hawaii squad.

The game was broadcast in the Midwest via a ham radio hookup, descrambled through 1981 era cable technology complete with the Hawaii broadcast crew constantly tweaking Midwest ears with their Pacific pronunciation of "Ha-wa-ii" and Curtis "Pain-ter" who incidentally was named the player of the game for Purdue while being misnamed "Chris Pain-ter." The same broadcast crew couldn't say enough how a victory over Purdue - 18 point underdog Purdue - would be a win for the ages and solidify Hawaii's home amongst the football pantheon. As noted in Brian Neubert's article in Gold & Black Illustrated, "You'd have thought Purdue was the '85 Bears."

Following the victory, Hawaii head coach June Jones noted that "We beat [Michigan State in 2004] and we beat this team. If Ohio State came [to Hawaii] we'd probably beat them too."

  • Hawaii has an electric quarterback in Brennan, yet the same Brennan will lose the Heisman to OSU's Troy Smith.
  • Hawaii is currently ranked 24th in the AP and 23rd in USA Today, while OSU is a definitive overall # 1.
  • Hawaii is lagging at 25th in the Sagarin rankings and a respectable, yet not perfect, 10 - 2.
  • Sweater vests always trump leis in awkward coach couture.

What are we to learn? Simply, June Jones is out of his mind. Pass the spam.

Friday, December 01, 2006

When Nerds Collide

In the year that The Colbert Report has been on the air, Stephen Colbert's success has been quick and far reaching. He's confronted the dangers of bears, taken Stephen Hawking down a peg, and inspired two different wikipedia biographies. Yet the times when Colbert truly reveals his inner nerd is when he may be at his most appealing. His encyclopedic knowledge of D&D and Lord of the Rings confirms his appealing geekiness.

It appears that Colbert has now found a new target though. The other night, Colbert premiered a new segment called "Who's riding my coattails now?" and took dead aim at the historical nerds of the indie rock world:
"Indie rock outfit The Decemberists, who have shot a performance against a green screen and asked their fans to finish the video. Green screen? Hmmmmm ... where have I heard that before? Does THIS look familiar to anyone in the indie rock scene? Nation, we cannot take this lying down. So tonight, I'm announcing Stephen Colbert's Second Green Screen Challenge: to edit me into The Decemberists' Green Screen Challenge! Yeah, it's go time. You can find their footage at and my clip, the original green screen footage, at Let's see how well they perform their trademark brand of hyper-literate prog rock when I'm slicing off their legs at the knee. [Pulls out light saber.] Oh yes. They will feel the pain."
But Colin Meloy will back down from no battle! As the band (who are no strangers to Lord of the Rings references themselves) told Pitchfork, this battle has clearly just begun. The entire article is worth reading, but my favorite part is when they raise the stakes to Colbert:
"Furthermore, we'd like to announce the very first 'Decemberists vs Stephen Colbert Guitar Solo Challenge'. Put down the pen, Colbert, and pick up the axe! Let's see what kind of a man you really are-- let's SHRED. Let truth and good music prevail!!!"
Where the challenge goes from here is anyone's guess.