Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Best Music Videos of 2008

Last year, I finished by 1st year blogging for Bad Idea Blue Jeans with a recap of sweet music videos from 2007. And so, for the sake of symmetry, I'll do the same this year.

I decided to narrow my list to 20. They are listed in the order that I brainstormed. I am embedding a few of my favorites, so you can enjoy without having to follow the link. Plus, by the time I get this published, Youtube (or Warner Music, depending on who you ask) may have pulled them all from the interweb.

Counting the various links, you're in for a few hours of entertainment.

Devandra Banhart - Carmensita

I admit that my love for Hotel Chevalier is probably influencing my love for this video. But come on. Natalie Portman, magic marker moustaches, and the phrase “Crystal bubbles will cremate our troubles.” That’s some Bollywood gold!

Radiohead – Reckoner

While everyone else was digging on Radiohead’s video-without-using-video, I prefer this black and white Sim City meets my iBook screensaver. On an odd note, it also reminds me of this.

The Brighton Port Authority – Toe Jam

Musically, this is cool, because it’s a Dizzee Rascal, Fatboy Slim, David Byrne collaboration. Not the mention the naked sensor game of pong.

Bjork – Wanderlust

One of those videos that visually, I can’t figure out. Am I looking at CGI? Puppets? Do bison really have feathers? Anyway, while I prefer the happy cheery Bjork (as opposed to this one), I’m a sucker for a good climactic scene involving a waterfall.

Arcade Fire – Black Mirror

For this one, you have to go the website. Visually, it’s nothing new (it sort of looks like a Nine Inch Nails video from 1995). But, the website allows you to mute any combination of 6 tracks. Finally, the all-snare drum version I’ve always wanted!

Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?

I just LOVE that the song simply provides the background music for this heartwrenching (literal) scene. I also imagine this break-up occurring at the same place/time as this. And, when the heart starts singing, I'm reminded of Audrey II.

No Age – Eraser

Sometimes I feel like my life is on a loop. Sometimes I just want to quickly run through a backyard full of balloons. Sometimes I want to walk into a cloud of flour. That's why I like this video.

She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?

The only thing that can make Zooey Deschanel more adorable is cartoon birds. And cowgirl outfits. And those ghosts from Pac-Man. And decapitations. So cute.

Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma

So what if it’s a Wes Anderson rip-off (right down to the font)? I love Wes Anderson. So I’m gonna love this.

Kanye West – Flashing Lights

Yet another one-shot video. Only this one involves a shovel-wielding hooker of some type. Plus, Kanye’s mouth is duct-taped shut! Finally!!!! I also like this video because it sort of reminds me of Knight Rider.

Matt and Kim – Daylight

I just like the fact that they’re smiling like 4-year-olds on Christmas throughout the entire video. Who cares that there’s no room to drum in a closet, or the back of a cab, or a dumpster. Plus, you know, the whole irony of having no daylight. Get it? The title of the song. I bet Kim is the clever one.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s – As Tall As Cliffs

The premise is simple: January 19th, 2009 - W’s last night in office. I’ll let the joy of this video speak for itself (though the homeless man showing Bush his belly is a definite highlight for me). Plus, this band was responsible for Conan saying the name of my hometown. Whoo and hoo!

The Ting Tings – Shut Up and Let Me Go

For me, it’s more about the song than the video. I was in a dancing mood all year long, which I think it why I forgive the similarities to this video. Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the ting Tings vibe.

Goldfrapp – Happiness

Come on! It’s a bunny-man hopping around in a white suit. The only think more endearing is the crew if little kids on those bouncy balls about halfway through the video.

I actually blogged about the next three videos awhile back. I guess they stood the test of time.

Justice – DVNO

Rivers Cuomo – Lover In the Snow

Young at Heart – Fix You

Grampall Jookabox – The Girl Ain’t Preggers

Any song that comes with a sweet video game is cool in my book!

My Morning Jacket – Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2

In Paste Magazine, they had a space on a Indie 2008 Bingo board that said “Ripped apart Jim James’ disco falsetto…only to find yourself humming it to yourself two weeks later.” Consider me pegged. As far as this video, it’s a bit more accessible than the Bjork video. Plus, it gets me excited to see Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are.

#1 WITHOUT A DOUBT: French Students – Thriller

A group of French college students made a one-shot recreation of Thriller. It involves about 100 people, an entire campus building, and students who are clearly lip-synching to a language they don’t speak. Genius.

What'd I miss? Go ahead and comment on your favorites from 2008. I dare you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Drew Carey is dead inside

Apparently this took place on The Price Is Right today:

What the hell is wrong with Drew Carey? This is a history making moment and he couldn't care less! His comatose reaction makes me think something fishy is going on at the TPIR home offices. And how irate must that woman be who came within 500 dollars herself! None of this is adding up. Was Drew Carey neutered before taping? I am beside myself with equal parts confusion and rage

UPDATE: Will Leitch has a take on this phenomenon that involves re-shooting the segment, the ghettos of Connecticut, and Slumdog Winnebago owners. It's the best theory I can think of thus far.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nuclear War

While watching the trendy Dayton Flyers fall from the ranks of the unbeaten this evening, I checked out Pitchfork for the first time this week and read the predictably uneven review of the predictably uneven Grampall Jookabox album. This review unexpectedly led to a savvy quick marketing scheme by label Asthmatic Kitty, and sparked a (relatively) thoughtful discussion on Musical Family Tree on the merits of the review, and of Pitchfork's review system as a whole. As I read the Pitchfork review, framed in the author's context of being a Hoosier himself, this final passage seemed most irritating (even more so than a normal P4k missive):

Ropechain isn't going to displace Margot & the Nuclear So-and-Sos as the standard-bearers for Indie-ana any time soon (though please, someone hurry up and do it), but the album can stake a claim to represent that ever-underrepresented subculture that the nineteenth state owns as well as the other 49: Fidgety suburban druggies.

Swish. Why just review the album itself when you can also take a pot-shot at a completely unrelated band?

Perhaps my sentimentality gets the best of me at times - this can happen when you live in a state preparing to send it's second straight governor to jail. But I don't get the point of ripping on a hometown band for no apparent reason in a review of someone else's album. Perhaps it has to do with where I now live. One of the biggest surprises I've found since moving to Chicago is that while this city obviously is a destination spot for national touring bands, the local band scene in Chicago is not supported anywhere near the extent that the same scene is appreciated in Indianapolis. Maybe that's a direct result of national bands being much more readily available, but as a whole, there's very little enthusiasm for local bands playing live within Chicago. Neither does there seem to be the same sense of camaraderie among bands supporting each other that is evident in Indy. This mentality no doubt further colors my disdain for watching a hometown band get thrown under the bus.

But the fun doesn't end there. The discussion continued on the reviewer's personal blog, where the comments section included this highly dubious claim:

I've talked to more people around Indy and Bloomington that resent them [Margot] than like them, that's for sure.
If true, then the people you've talked to are assholes. I know many people in Indy who find the band to not particularly be their cup of tea, but even those who don't necessarily like the band's music think it's cool that a band from Indy is making a name for itself. Who from Indianapolis wouldn't have been excited to see the Melody Inn t-shirt or shout out to Marmoset on national television? Shit man, I'm happy just hearing Conan say the word "Indianapolis." The very few people I know who actually resent them (I can think of 2 people total) are jealous musicians or wannabes, upset that they haven't gotten the well-deserved breaks Margot has.

That notion is crystallized further later in the comments:

it's easiest to understand where i'm coming from if you're from indianapolis, have been attending shows in the area for about half your life, have seen hundreds of great bands come and go, and still, the only band ever mentioned is the one which gets popular because they sound like arcade fire and cop a wes anderson reference. it's frustrating, and a lot of people i talk to admit it. i don't hate that band, and i don't want to bully them out of existence. i'm just expressing frustration, again from an "insider" perspective, that it's got to be *them.* point granted, though. i know it seems shitty.
Welcome to the real world, friend. I fit every one of your listed stipulations there, and yes, until the day I die, my inner 14-year-old will be outraged that SuperFatFlyBoy never went on to headline Lollapalooza. We've all seen bands galore that deserve that big break but never quite get it because in the end, success is a lottery. Most bands will never get that notoriety, but this bullshit about "that band doesn't deserve it" is a joke. Should more bands from Indy have broken through? Of course they should have. But trying your best to throw rocks at the one band who is doing things the right way while finding a measured amount of success is lazy and more than a little disappointing. This is not a band who has earned notoriety through easily optioning their songs to air on "The Hills" or "Grey's Anatomy." This is not a band that has shamed it's hometown the way Nickelback has shamed all of Canada. This is a band that has consistently praised other local acts in interviews and on stage, much more than they've needed to.

Luckily, the majority of people supporting music in Indianapolis aren't doing so while talking with others about how much they hate one band in particular. Most fall in line with Dodge, praising the local acts that more people should know about, and simultaneously refusing to take cheap shots at one of the successes of a scene that means a lot to many people. This my friends, is true Hoosier hospitality.

Coaching Carousel: Change of Venue

It was interesting to hear the Indiana University faithful calling for an inside man to replace the calamity that was Kelvin Sampson after Sampson was run out of Bloomington. People were even getting kicked out of Assembly Hall for calling for the return of Bob Knight through that last great bastion of free speech: the homemade t-shirt.

Who stepped into the breach? Dan Dakich, former Indiana player and Indiana assistant under His Holiness, R. M. Knight, with ten years of head coaching experience at the Division 1 level at Bowling Green to boot. Quite the capable fellow.

Dakich was an improbable and, honestly, accidental head coach for the remainder of the 2007-2008 season. He had begun the year as the director of basketball operations which to most lay men is a glorified, administrative grunt. Regardless, Dakich was at his school serving the program he loved and wanted to succeed.

Then came the ignominious departure of Rob Senderoff. Dakich stepped out of the office and onto the court becoming one of Sampson's assistants. I think Dan even got to speak during some timeouts.

Finally, Sampson did the decent thing and exited Indiana mid-season leaving Dakich to coach the Hoosiers through their final seven games. It was quite the meteoric rise and undoubtedly not the course Dakich would have chosen himself.

Within days of the end of the season, talk began to swirl around who would replace Sampson permanently. Few gave Dakich a chance to continue leading Indiana with its (albeit distant) National Championship pedigree, and eleven days after losing to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament Dakich was replaced by Tom Crean. A mass exodus from the program followed leaving the Hoosiers a mere shell of the previous season. The torrent of departures took Dakich with it, and Indiana is currently 5-4 with a bevy of transfers and walkons.

You might think Dakich would land on his feet after having spent his entire coaching career in NCAA division 1 with head coaching experience at Bowling Green, Indiana, and West Virginia (if only for a scandal ridden week). But the NCAA was just one letter too long.

Enter the CYO.

Dakich is currently building a program at Bloomington's St. Charles Borromeo where he heads up the 8th grade A Team. Don't believe me, check the CYO's website below.

The program is in place with assistant coaches Schneider and Stratten pulling double duty with the B team. Honestly, they have three coaches for a grade school team. In all fairness, Dakich's son is quite a baller on the team and Dakich is used to being around guys that coached their boys (Pat Knight, Kellen Sampson). He's obviously waiting for the right opportunity to move beyond the coaching springboard that is the CYO.

Gary Parrish actually scooped this story months ago, but the story is intriguing nonetheless. One moment you're on top of your professional world; the next you're sharing gym time with a pot-luck, funeral dinner.

The ultimate kick in the pants rests with ol' slime bucket himself, Kelvin Sampson. While Dakich moved in at the most inopportune time to take his dream job only to be replaced in a matter of weeks, Sampson, the man who single-handedly ruined a storied program - one I'm proud to root against - is off cavorting in the NBA while Dakich is getting his kids primed for their upcoming tilt with St. Jude. Sometimes, life just ain't fair. Although, taking Dakich at his word he's all for it.

Luckily, St. Charles is a force to be reckoned with, having dismantaled Indianapolis power St. Barnabas 50-33. To put that in perspective, the team Dakich coached last year, the Indiana Hoosiers, only put up 54 points last weekend against Gonzaga...and the Hoosiers had 16 more minutes of game.

Looks like the kids in Bloomington still know how to run the motion offense...only these kids are just 13 years old.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Back on Track

I refrained from posting post-Arkansas-Pine Bluff (how 'bout them hyphens) in hopes that this Ball St. game would be a better return to form.

It was...sort of.

Purdue took down the Cardinals 68-39 tonight. The new starting lineup of LewJack, Nemanja, Kramer, Smooge, and Hummel still got off to a lackluster start letting Ball St. hang around until Purdue finally eclipsed 11 points and never looked back. Either way, it was good to see Painter mixing things up.

The 3-point shooting was still awful with the Boilers only hitting 3 overall. Yet the defense - the same defense that coach Matt Painter has publicly criticized recently - responded very well to the challenge holding BSU scoreless for a ridiculously long stretch and forcing 21 turnovers.

Side note A: Muncie traffic is rancid.
Side note B: Multiple news outlets (ESPN.com, Sportsline.com and not PurdueSports.com) included with their AP stories a tidbit about the Ball St. crowd chanting "Where's your bowl game?" clap, clap, clapclapclap!

That's not the whole story, though.
  • It started with the 40 or so Paint Crew members chanting "Ball State High School."
  • Then the Ball St. student section, the Nest, retorted with "Where's your bowl game."
  • Purdue fired back "Buff-a-lo! Buff-a-lo! Buff-a-lo!"
  • The Cardinals: "Four and nine! Four and nine!"
  • After some scoreboard pointing, the Paint Crew went with "We can't hear you," and Ball State's students had no response.
Don't let the AP fool you; the Paint Crew ended with the upper hand even if they were jerky enough to start it. Hopefully this foray into Muncie might start an annual matchup and set up another friendly yet part-times antagonistic rivalry.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Outmanned, Outmatched

It's been a while since I felt this bad.

Sitting in Mackey Arena last night while Purdue absolutely shit the bed against Duke was a an arduous journey through fandom. There weren't any boo birds that I could hear, but there were some uber-critical folks in attendance. There were even some assholes who threw things onto the court (by the way, if that's you I say again, "Go fuck yourself.") But the majority of us were locked into that gut-wrenching malaise that watching your beloved team fall apart can so often draw out.

Purdue was run out of the gym from the get-go. Much can be said about the stiffled start. Duke's quick assault. Purdue's numerous missed layups. Purdue's equally numerous turnovers. All in all it's the same story: you get down early, the opposition then dictates your attack and your lineup. Without luck at that point, it's a Herculean effort to right the ship, and all credit to Duke who was obviously running their game plan to perfection (just ask Hummel and Smooge).

The rebounding edge was abysmal, as was 3-point shooting, but I think those issues don't manifest themselves if Purdue isn't down 7-0. For whatever reason, each game this season has had a flat opening portion that either let teams like Coppin St. hang around or lets juggernauts like Duke run away with the victory.

What to do?

First things first: this isn't the end of the world. Purdue will have more than enough time and experience to get ready for the Big Ten let alone the post-season. I have full faith in Coach Painter that he'll find room to improve the poor defense and lackluster offense of the previous night.

Next, something must be done to quell this tide of underwhelming first halves before Michigan St. mops the floor with us. I think the obvious change must come in the starting lineup. Look all you want, you're not going to find more height or strength on that bench. Instead start LewJack instead of JaJuan for more speed, or Nemenja for more strength. Morris Peterson was Big Ten player of the year coming off of the bench. It's not really an insult to enter the game at the 17:00 minute mark if it will stop us from losing to quality opponents.

Finally, we the faithful need to keep coming out to games even if it is Arkansas - Pine Bluff. The electricity in Mackey last night was phenomenal, until the meltdown of course. Keep cheering for this team. They're still in the driver's seat for the Big Ten Championship.

They just got the shit beat out of them last night. And, oh yeah, it sucked.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Purdue Basketball: We Got Hosed

What can I say?

Purdue is called for nearly twice the fouls of Oklahoma, 28 - 15.

Oklahoma attempts 41 more free throws than Purdue.
Now folks are going to say that it was Oklahoma's interior oriented offense that merited the free throw advantage. Well, riddle me this? How then did Oklahoma guards attempt 25 free throws. In all, 7 of the 8 Sooners who saw the floor attempted a total of 46 free throws; that's more than 6 a piece on average. Purdue had a total of 4 trips to the line spread over 3 players.

All this, and the Boilermakers still were able to eke out a 4-point lead in overtime. Granted, two empty possessions helped piss that lead away.

Then it happened.

Oklahoma leads 81 - 80 when Keaton Grant tips a ball at the Oklahoma end of the court. Two Sooners and two Boilers converge on the loose ball when suddenly a whistle blows from the referee across court in front of Oklahoma's bench and OK coach Jeff Capel. No player ever established possession and the ball goes out of bounds off of Oklahoma. It should have been Purdue ball with about 24 seconds to go.

Instead, Oklahoma gets the timeout and the inadvertent whistle gives the ball to the Sooners on the alternating possession arrow. As Matt Painter pointed out in his post-game radio comments, the referee blew the call and hid behind the "inadvertent whistle." No, the referee gave Jeff Capel a timeout when his team didn't even have the ball.

I know that's one play in a game of hundreds of plays. Purdue did commit 19 turnovers. Hummel was on the bench - with fouls of course - but come on. Come the f*ck on.

I don't know if you can even fix this situation because all players on both teams will stop at the whistle. Maybe the NCAA should abandon the inadvertent whistle all together and just give the ball to whomever last had possession. For God's sake, get the call right. Don't run like a pussy behind your inadvertent whistle.

Duke next.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Purdue Basketball: I'll Take It

Purdue carved a spot in the pre-season NIT Tip-Off Hyphenated-College-Basketball Endeavor Game-a-thon with last night's win over Boston College.

While the finish was reassuring, the start was a bit dicey. Again the Boilers seemed to be having a tough time getting comfortable point separation. I know there's only 20 minutes to work with in the first half, but I'm wondering what it's going to take for Purdue to just come out and blow someone away.

Regardless, the true story is the much documented increased defensive aggressiveness when the Eagles shaved a 17 point lead down to 6 in the fleeting moments. Albeit a two possession game at that point, Grant, Moore and Kramer never let the margin get too unsettling. Overall, it was nice - although frantic at times - to not feel that Purdue was playing not to lose. Forced turnovers, drawn charges and clutch free throw shooting will continue to be essential this season, especially with a tough run of Oklahoma, Duke, and Davidson in the next three weeks.

Looking forward, tomorrow's game with the Sooners will be very interesting down low. Blake Griffin accounted for no less than 41% of Oklahoma's scoring versus UAB. It will be interesting to see if Purdue double-teams him in the post or relies on Johnson's height and Calasan and Reid's 10 available fouls to neutralize.

Just give it to Smooge and Hummel and let them shoot the Sooners out of the New York.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Message Sent

I didn't get many opportunities to relish tonight's performance, but it's more of what I had in mind.

The Boilers throttled Loyola-Chicago 78-46 and assured a Thanksgiving jaunt to Madison Square Garden for the pre-season NIT semifinals.

My opportunities to enjoy this win were hampered by circumstance: I don't receive ESPNU as part of my overpriced cable package (oh, U-Verse, why do you run from me?), and IU was playing new intrastate rival, IUPUI. So, despite my ability to see the game at a local establishment, I was not privy to any of the audio because despite their absolute shittiness, IU still pulls rank in Indianapolis.

Luckily enough, the visuals did most of the talking. The Boilers seemed to have lost the lethargic awkwardness of the previous romp and replaced it with a more oiled performance. They did again get themselves in a scoring hole, bu,t my, how they broke out of it holding the Ramblers to an embarassing 10 points over 17 minutes. The 3's continued to drop 35.3% of the time and the turnover battle was won by a margin of 9.

However - and it's proving to be an old story in a season only 3 games old - Purdue was again out rebounded. I'm interested - but not interested enough to pay attention down the stretch - to know how many of those opponent rebounds came when Mark Wohlford and Buckets Riddell were picking up minutes. Regardless, it will be an interesting matchup with Boston College next week. The Eagles out hustled St. John's tonight and won the rebounds 35 - 24.

Rebounding woes aside, and Kramer's scoreless 20 minute night disregarded, the Boilermakers sent a message loud and clear. They are not messing around and letting anyone hang too close in these early matchups. This team now looks like one with a purpose and one free of the early season dust and rust.

Look out, Big Apple.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Purdue Basketball: That was Ugly

Evidently this poor youngster just finished watching Purdue take on Eastern Michigan.

Tonight's contest - despite the 29 point winning margin, near 35% 3-point shooting, and four starters in double figures - kind of stunk.

Looking at the box score still doesn't sway my opinion. Purdue won the turnover battle - forcing 22 and only committing 10 - along with the amazing line of 11 steals for the Boilers and 0 for the Eagles. In the face of all of this evidence I still never saw Purdue develop that rhythm that would make me confident they're ready to demolish any of the other ranked opposition included in the pre-season NIT.

Now don't get me wrong. I think they're still rather capable. But a few glaring measurements stuck out to even the most casual observer. First, Purdue was lucky to pull even in the rebounding department. Sure they lack a dominating physical inside presence, but Johnson and Calasan can still pull them down. What's sad is seeing Purdue helplessly out of position, especially when it comes to opponents on the perimeter streaking in to grab boards.

Secondly, how on earth did Purdue rack up 7 more fouls (21-14) than Eastern Michigan? Without going back to the tape Tivo, I seem to remember a ton of fouls down low on dribble drives. Hopefully they'll gain that step and be in position to slow, if not stop, penetration which can only then go on to pay dividends in the rebounding game. Thankfully, Purdue played the Eagles tonight who shot an abysmal 47% from the stripe.

I love the winning ways. I just hope to see a more fluid attack on Georgia/Loyola tomorrow night.

A few notes
  • E'Twaun Moore returned to the starting five. Evidently whatever snit put him on the bench has been resolved.
  • Purdue's 3-point shooting improved, despite a dismal start to shooting in general. The Boilers hit 8 of 23 for 34.8% with Hummel leading the deep charge going 3 for 5.
  • Ken Pomeroy is keeping a running tally of 3-point shooting in the NCAA comparing this season to last year's 19' 9" season. So far, the farther line has caused a negligible decrease in 3 attempts, but a 2.6% decrease in made 3's. I'll be interested in seeing this shake out. I've also e-mailed Pomeroy asking him to crunch numbers on overall scoring.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Starting Five...Huh, What?

Purdue got the season off to a confident start with last night's 82 - 50 win over Detroit Mercy.

Three major stories arose from the action. First, E'Twaun Moore had to come off of the bench in favor for starting freshman Lewis Jackson. According to Coach Matt Painter's comments, something was lacking in Moore's recent practice effort, and he was relegated to sixth man. Not that it fazed Smooge at all; he dropped in 18 pts in 23 minutes of play.

This will be one of those early season manufactured stories though, more fodder for talk radio than debate within the team. My guess is we see Moore in the starting five for Monday's Eastern Michigan game.

Secondly, the Boilermakers were nearly flawless in protecting the ball and committed only 3 turnovers for the entire game. Painter likes to keep turnovers to 6 a half which is a large step up from Gene Keady's no more than 15 in a game. Should Purdue continue to force 20 turnovers as they did last night while taking care of the ball in kind, that advantage may alleviate any rebounding shortcomings.

Lastly, with 3-point shooters now a foot farther from pay dirt, some college basketball experts are expecting to see lower shooting percentages and scores. Albeit against Detroit Mercy (Sagarin rating 202 of 347), Purdue managed 34.8% success behind the line. Factor into that total 2 missed attempts by Ryne Smith and Mark Wohlford, who should see playing time diminish with tighter competition we could have seen a higher mark closer to last year's standard of 39.6%. All this and they still managed 82 pts with 8 scorers.

What's to be learned? The Boilers aren't scared of the new distance (Hummel, Calasan, and Green attempted five 3's), and the more traditional deep threats (Moore & Grant) will still be ready to bury the long ball. The accompanying spread half-court set will also favor Purdue's quick cutters (Kramer and LewJack).

Next up: Eastern Michigan in the pre-season NIT.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Purdue Basketball: The Season Begins...For Some

There's still no doubt that I'm counting the hours to the tipoff with Dick Vitale U Detroit Mercy.

However the prospects surrounding this season - as wonderful as they are - still don't compare to this fact: Purdue will have this season again next season.

You see, the Boilers will only graduate Bobby Riddell, Marcus Green, Nemanja Calasan, and Chris Reid. While that foursome is an integral part to the team that Painter built, it represents only 13 pts and 6.1 rebs a game. To put that in perspective, Scott Martin's departure depleted the team of 6.9 pts and 3.6 rebs.

That amount of perspective has me kind of excited/relieved to hear that the word from West Lafayette is a possible redshirt for freshmen Ryne Smith or John Hart. If either of these guys can perform as advertised, I'd much rather have them for three seasons post Hummel, Smooge and JJ than two. God knows a great deal of the current - and God willing future - success could hinge on the overlap these rosters would have.

While I don't know thing one about how a redshirt season might affect the fragile ego of an 18 year old, I'm hoping Hart and Smith could get beyond the Scott Martin myopia and focus on the upside of not only playing with this talented squad for two to three seasons, but then stepping into their shoes with more than one season of your own in the sun.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Reality Sets In

The ballyhoo of another D-II drubbing wore off as soon as I finished reading the story online.

It was great to hear about JaJuan Johnson's impressive line (22 pts, 14 rebs, 7 blocks) and read about the Boilers' climb out of a bit of adversity. Yet, hearing and reading are as far as I'm going to get into this game because it was once again broadcast online. For that matter, the regular season tipoff will be in the same boat when it's available exclusively on ESPN360. Does it bother me? Not really.

You see, as I was standing in the biting winds of East Lansing, I was readily reminded of the proximity of the dawning basketball season. The collective Purdue fans assembled for the football yawn-fest were more than ready to usher in a winning - and in that weather, indoor - season.

But, let's not count our proverbial chickens. Let's not jump into this season thinking that we're somehow owed something. I want to earn every bit of success this year, and that means not complaining that I'd have to sit in front of my laptop to break the seal on this season.

It's not a tall order. The NIT tipoff against Eastern Michigan will be on ESPN2 and my Tivo will be humming.

Bring on the season. I can almost taste it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A "Confrontation" Confrontation

In honor of today's electoral confrontation, I give you a competition between two pairs of comedians performing the song "Confrontation" from Les Miserables.

First, we have the How I Met Your Mother duo of Dr. Horrible and Eric from Undeclared.

pros: they perform with passion, and without Segel showing his penis
cons: they're on the Megan Mullally Show

Next, we have the Wet Hot American Summer duo of Andy and David Wain (director).

pros: they make no attempt to connect to the fact that they're promoting their new movie Role models
cons: they make no attempt to show their penis

If only McCain and Obama could settle their differences in angry duets.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Purdue Basketball: The Season Begins

Well, that's a good start.

The Boilermakers demolished Florida Southern last night...well, at least that's what I read. The game was broadcast online, and I was otherwise engaged at a Halloween soiree. I know, the bastion of fandom.

Come on, the Moccasins are D-2.

Lew Jack did have his hands on 20 points with 4 scored and 8 assists. Kramer didn't attempt a field goal, however. Yet, Ryne Sandberg Smith pours in 13 points in 20 minutes time.

The big story did not involve the Boilermakers though. The Big Ten Network has signed Gus Johnson - yes that Gus Johnson - as an announcer for the network team.

There's no word as to Johnson's status for the NCAA tournament and CBS. Either way, I can't wait to hear Gus rip through some Boiler victories.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Enormous Expectations

The preseason prognostications are largely in. Check out a few here, here, and here.

Coach Matt Painter has reiterated that these predictions don't hold much water, and the boys at BoiledSports have pointed out yet again that these preseason accolades are nice to look at but not much more than that. We've yet to play a game.

Still, the informed electorate fanbase is ready to lay their hopes on the line and put some concrete, measurable goals out in the open before the Florida Southern tip. Where to begin though?

I think the expectations shake out like this in order from reasonable to dreamy
  • Winning season
  • Beat Duke
  • Beating the 3 I's: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana (Coach Keady's old seasonal goal*)
  • Winning the pre-season NIT
  • NCAA Tournament berth
  • Big Ten Tournament championship
  • Outright Big Ten title
  • Elite 8
  • Final Four
  • and while we're here, National Championship
There's so much to hope for, and honestly, I don't know where to stop my dreaming. I graduated the spring that Cardinal, Robinson, Jaraan, Carson Cunningham, Greg McQuay et al lost for the fourth third time to Wisconsin and narrowly missed the first Final Four since 1980 - the first I would remember - in Indianapolis and another date with Sparty. Even at the start of that season I didn't have the school-girl giddiness that I do this season.

There's the rub.

I know better than to buy the hype. I know better than to talk Nemanja Calasan-sized smack. I know better. Yet still, I hope.

However, against all good, past-disappointment-informed judgment, I'm drawing my line somewhere near Big Ten title and Elite 8. Let's get started.

*No real understanding why Gene was hell bent on this measure. Was he a closet grammarian enamored with assonance, or did he just like sticking it to Dr. Tom, Lou-Doo, and Bobby?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Here He Comes

You might have heard the news coming out of Arizona; they're in need of a coach.

After a season-long leave of absence, Lute Olson is finally calling it quits, but there's a catch. Olson's one-time successor, Kevin O'Neill, is not in the running for the position seeing as he moved on to the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.

Mike Dunlap seems to be the
coach of the moment, but I think Arizona will not be too enamoured with Dunlap's Division II pedigree, and will continue their "nationwide search" throughout the season.

Funny, a well-connected coach in the know recently remarked he'd like to
get back onto the sidelines - preferably not in the Big Ten or 12.

Who was that coach? You guessed it...Frank Stallone...Bob Knight.

This will be interesting, to say the least.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Purdue Basketball: Enormous Expectations

Eric Gordon. Really?

Numerous times last season I put on my best face and tried to control my paralinguistics enough to convey sincerity and approached an Indiana fan. I had one question for them. How much will it take?

Indiana had arguably the best guard in the nation in Eric Gordon, and they only had him for one season. There was no doubt that Gordon's time in Bloomington was fleeting, and the Hoosier faithful would only get one chance at...whatever it was they wanted? So I asked, "How much will it take to make you happy?"

Was it a national championship? a deep tournament run? a Big Ten title? What result could leave them satisfied after entering a season with limitless potential.
Interestingly enough, not too many of them had an answer. And all told you so's aside, I don't think the aftermath could have been much worse.

Now's time to pose the question to the Boilermaker faithful: What will it take to leave us fulfilled this basketball season that kicks off Friday with Mackey Madness?

To say that Purdue fans are pumped about the upcoming season would be quite the cliched understatement. Taken within the context of the abysmal football endeavors to date, the basketball horizon is mouth-wateringly exciting. Take a look at these tangibles
  • Multiple nationally televised games
  • Non-conference matchup with Davidson (possibly twice)
  • A berth in the preseason NIT
  • Hosting Duke in the Big Ten - ACC Challenge
  • The lone Indiana game is at Mackey
  • Games against five different Indiana schools
  • A season ending game at potential Big Ten powerhouse Michigan St.
Then we can enter the realm of the borderline ridiculous
  • In a May 2008 visit to Las Vegas, the Caesars sports book had Purdue at an 8/1 opening to win the national title, second to North Carolina's 4/1. I've seen it higher at 20/1
  • The highly touted arrival of Lewis Jackson
  • The immeasurable pressure of surpassing last year's over-achieving squad.
All of this reminds me of an anecdote for Cubs fans: the optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist half empty. The Cub fan is just waiting for the glass to tip over.

While I don't think the pessimism in West Lafayette is anywhere near that level of futility, it does remind us once again - as if Boiler fans needed to be reminded - be cautious.

What do we want? My enormous expectations tell me I'll take a win over Florida Southern for now.

Chronicle of a Season

In anticipation of this upcoming basketball season, I am planning an ongoing chronicle of the season. It is thus far titled:

Purdue Basketball: Enormous Expectations

I hope to have my first installment up before the Midnight, I mean 5:00pm Madness of this upcoming Friday.

Stay tuned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pro Run Ep 11: "If They Mated" Edition

Enough with my analysis. I give you the "If They Mated" edition of the Pro Run blog. Enjoy.

lead singer from Bloc Party + Jack Skellington = Suede's design for Jerell

M.I.A. + Laurie Forman from That 70's Show = Kenley's design for Leanne

Todd Cleary + Rainbow Bright = Korto's design for Suede

The Pussycat Dolls + Felicity Shagwell = Jerell's design for Kenley

Dolly Parton + Cowboy Troy = Leanne's design for Korto

I'm looking forward to next week's Cryfest (maybe Ricky and Andre will come back to guest judge).

I'm holding strong with my final three predictions. However, they are pushing very hard for Kenley to get the boot. Her past performaces saved her this week. I think she'll get the Santino pass one more time. Sorry, Leanne.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pro Run Ep 10

I'd like to dedicate this blog entry to the pigeon that died on top of Jerell's head last night.

A moment of silence, please.

Well, after my long hiatus from Project Runway blogging, I returned to find Blayne (the poor man's Christian Soriano) and Terri (the poor man's Diana Ross) were gone. And we're left with contestants, two of which clearly have no chance (Suede and Joe). So the next few weeks are pretty simple: can Leanne knock out Jerell for the final spot in the finals with Kenley and Korto?

A few scribbles from my notepad last night:
  • Evening gowns for infants....it's no more ridiculous than making dresses out of Saturns
  • While forcing the designers to work with clients always creates more drama, do actual designers ever do this? Don't they just make whatever crap they want and throw it on the runway?
  • I have a theory that those college grads were all previous cast members of My Super Sweet Sixteen with giant fake noses......what? those were their real noses?....that's sad.
  • Everyone ripping on Joe's outfit was probably the first time this season I genuinely laughed outloud. Nancy Reagan indeed!
And onto the designs!
Joe - The moment I saw that popped collar, I knew you were a gonner. Use your pocket square to dry your tears.

Leanne - I completely support your decision to equip your client a bullet-proof shawl. I've seen Dangerous Minds.

Jerell - You are killin' it. But your model was shaped exactly like you....I suspect you just grabbed that outfit out of our closet....but were too selfish to give her the hat too.

Korto - I think this oufit looks ridiculous, but you consistetly follow the guidelines of the challenge, and yet it always looks like you made it. Korto, the goddess of having a clear aesthetic (I have no clue what that means. Maybe Kenley will tell me).

Kenley - They've edited you into an arrogant asshole. I bet you're just arrogant. You're in danger of becoming the one-note wonder that Uli was a few seasons ago. Then again, Uli did make it to the finals.

So, it seems pretty clear that Suede will leave us next week. Then, I'm gonna predict that Leanne overtakes Jerell to make it to the final three.

And in preparation for next week's hip hop episode (everyone but Korto will fail miserably at this), I leave you with my favorite jam from Ladies Love Cool James:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Prepare for the Bloodbath

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hosting the Michelin MotoGP race this weekend, and evidently things are going to get messy.

According to news sources, the MotoGP brings a few things to each of its host cities: 100,000 spectators, economic injections, and lots and lots of death.

I first came across this on an evening newscast, and then re-read the same general information online. Let's see if I have this straight. According to the story I first saw, due to the increase in motorcycle traffic surrounding these races, host cities should expect to triple - that's tree times - their normal level of donorcycle fatalities. My favorite story quotes officials preparing for motorcycle fatalities to "end up in the dozens."

Dozens, folks. That's minimum 24 , but more likely upwards of 40. Seriously.

Indianapolis hosts many events that garner crowds in excess of 100,000 every year, mainly the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, Black Expo, and to a certain extent, many conventions and trade shows including GenCon. The two races bring their rash of public intox arrests and a lewd conduct here and there. Black Expo - after a few black-eye years - was largely issue free this summer. And GenCon, well what can you say about a bunch of sweaty guys in black t-shirts playing Magic the Gathering at Steak 'n Shake until 4:00 in the morning? Maybe a few curfew violations at worst. Regardless, none of these events are clocking in with body counts in the dozens! That is, of course, disregarding the countless hordes of Glondorian dwarves slaughtered by this guy.

The crazy thing is that race and city officials are basing these estimates on previous races. MotoGP must be the most dangerous sport in the world. To put it mathematically, if you're one of the 100,000 attendees and we're expecting 40 to 50 deaths you have in the neighborhood of 1 in 2000 chance of dying. That's worse than most of these horrible possibilities, and roughly 35 times the normal chance of dying on a motorcycle placing it somewhere between fires and natural disasters. Is this damn race worth the risk?

Seriously, if any of the aforementioned events brought a death toll like this annually, it would be canceled in a heartbeat. By comparison, there were 23 US military deaths in Iraq for August. By definition, that is not "dozens."

* * *

My cooler head is setting in. Maybe these estimates are inflated to scare all drivers - be they of the 2 or 4-wheel variety - into being more cautious. Likewise, the 'consider the source' mentality wants me to pop over to Google News and dig up reports from cities that have hosted similar events. Maybe it's just that these sources don't really understand the word "fatality." No matter what I find, I'm not going to be happy because either A) these officials are lying to the public hoping fear will keep us in line or B) the reports are true and my street - a haven for late-night 2-wheeled shenanigans - will gush with blood.

Either way, I'm gonna run like hell if I see Kellen Winslow or Ben Roethlisberger anywhere near me this weekend.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I Have No Words

I was driving home tonight after watching Purdue limp through a 42 - 10 victory over Northern Colorado. The Cubs were facing the Reds, and I had WGN for the first few miles, but lost that signal as soon as a cloud unshrouded the moon.

Lucky enough, WLW - 700 AM can be heard in the Philippines on a clear night, so the game was still available. The only trade of course was a swap of Ron Santo for Marty Brennaman.

The Cubs were laying the wood to the Reds, but that wouldn't be the only wood of the evening. After breaking his bat, Cubs reserve Micah Hoffpauir went for a new bat. What then flowed from the luxurious lungs of Brennaman left me thoroughly speechless.

"They always feel good when they're sporting new wood."

Friday, September 05, 2008

Barely Useful

It's clear that Project Runway just isn't inspiring me the way it used to. Call it the post-Rami blues.

But as a peace offering to my faithful readers who have been so disappointed in me, I offer an article I just wrote for Semiuseful, an outstandingly funny, cynical, and insightful online magazine-blog hybrid (I believe the term we're trying to coin is "magblog") that was launched by a few sassy Indy philosophers.

In this issue, I debate the age-old question: who is better -- Tom Jones or Neil Diamond?

Explore previous issues that tackle such hardhitting subject matters as the best mac 'n cheese option, the history of the little black comb (remember, they pass it out on school picture day), the best 10 fights in cinema, and of course, Saved By the Bell trivia.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pro Run Ep 6: Attack of the Glamazons!

Let me start by saying that there is no excuse for my laziness in not blogging about the Brooke Shields episode. But in my defense, the episode was a ripoff of the Sarah Jessica Parker ep from last year, so just read that blog instead.

Well, I had mixed feelings about last night's show. It was fun to see Chris March (a.k.a. Harvey Fierstein) back for a visit, and 7' drag queens do make for intersting television, but if I were on the show, I'd be pissed. When will "the next great American designer" ever have to make giant women's superhero outfits? Luckily, this was a nice buffer episode that let the producers finally get rid of Daniel, so no harm, no foul.

**side note: I already can't wait for the reunion episode, when they will undoubtedly show the "Daniel pouting" montage**

A few random notes before we get to the designs:

  • at the beginning of the show, Heidi looked like Sandy Ollsen from Grease. I think I hear Broadway calling.

  • best drag queen name: Farrah Moans; worst drag queen name: Sweetie

  • Tim Gunn at Mood = 3rd grade teacher at state capital building field trip

Tim: "What do you say?"

entire cast: "Thank you, Mood!"

  • I almost hesitate to mention it, because it will only encourage Blayne, but I at least appreciated whichever cast member referred to themselves as "annoyedlicious"
  • Why was the fan poll of who people would rather see in drag so damn close? I thought for sure Tim would take at least 90% of the vote.

  • Are there drag kings?

Alright. On to the show:

Kenley - You play smart. This is safe enough to be in the middle of the pack. No need to try and knock one out of the park on a this dumb-ass challenge.

Blayne - For future reference, having your design called a terradactyl out of a gay Jurassic Park is not a compliment...even for a drag queen episode.

Joe - congrats on a win that will have no bearing on the rest of the show. That jumpsuit will look great when Pepto-Bismol launches its disco-superhero-indigestion-crime fighter mascot!

Stella - I'm starting to love you. Hopefully the producers will keep you around for entertainment's sake until the final three (you can be this season's Chris March).

Suede - your queen looked sort of like your older brother. And he bullied you like you were his little brother! How cute.

Daniel - No worries. You've got a short-wearing boyfriend waiting for you at home. Your lower lip and impeccable (yet absent) taste will be missed.

Terri - Those are some intense sleeves. And rarely does a drag queen show almost no skin. You've got Acid Betty whipped.

Jerell - Michael Kors seems to think this outfit looks normal. It makes me more worried about Kors than you. But you lose points for encouraging the collar pop craze that has plagues the 2000's.

Korto - You tapped into the secret of all drag queens: deep down, they always want to be Disney villians

Keith - You tapped into the secret of all drag queens: deep down, they never want to be a Disney guy-who-turns-into-dog

Leanne - You get ignored in almost every episode. But I applaud your origami/crumpled-paper-in-a-waste-basket design

My favorite design of this episode: Korto

My current top three: Kenley, Terri, Suede (he's losing ground

The next to go: I wish it was Blayne, but it'll probably be Keith.