Pearl Jam

May 10, 2010

The last decade has probably had the most impact on my life (ages 22-32), especially in terms of movies and music. And for the last ten years, my two favorite bands have consistently been The Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam (although I have liked the latter since high school). Now, that has changed a bit the last year or two, but the fact remains that those two are still very near the top. I have seen DMB 5 times in concert, and followed every disc they have ever put out (including most live ones). I can make similar statements about Pearl Jam…the only exception being that I have only been able to see them in concert one time – in 2000 with Deacon James. That was a fantastic concert: it was a benefit show, it was the last stop on their world tour, it was in Seattle (their hometown), and it featured a surprise opening band – The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In fact, of all the concerts I’ve seen (quite a few), it would rank 2nd on my list, only behind U2. But since then, I haven’t had much of a chance to see them again…until this year. When I found out they would be coming here (a mere 15 minute drive from my house), I jumped at the chance. So Lacey and I, along with Joel and his girlfriend Traci, have been making plans for about the last month to see the concert.

All week, they had been calling for major storms to come through Friday night, followed by a massive cold front. We were pretty worried, and it started to affect our plans. It was a beautiful week, and Friday dawned the same – warm, sunny, and nice. Then, the storms started to blow in (of course). Lacey and I made plans to get there early, to save seats in the lawn (general admission, behind the pavilion reserved seats), and were first in line. It didn’t really rain on us at all, and we got in when the gates opened, and had great “seats”. Then the weather worsened yet again. We were informed that due to lightning in the area, the entire lawn would have to clear, and that no seats would be reserved…it would be a total madhouse when they let us back in. Again, we didn’t get much rain (little bursts but nothing too bad), and they finally let us back in. We were able to run back in, and get pretty similar seats to what we had, though Joel and Traci had trouble getting in, and we had to fight some people off 🙂 Anyway, the opening act was Band of Horses, who Lacey and I have started to get into the last month or so (they’ve had some songs on Chuck, and have a good sound). AS SOON as they took the stage, it started to POUR down rain…and of course Joel and Traci had our ponchos and weren’t there yet. Fortunately, for all the prediction of constant storms with lightning and rain, it stopped after about a minute, and we got NO MORE rain the entire night! We were very fortunate.

The concert had been delayed, but the rain had ended, and it was still nice and warm. Joel and Traci got there, and we had pretty decent seats. We were totally primed for PJ. When they finally came out, it was on. And I can honestly say that this incredible concert has usurped the previous PJ show that I caught all those years ago. They were AMAZING. From the first note to the last note, they rocked HARD. I don’t know if they were trying to make up for being delayed, or if they were happy that this was their biggest crowd and first outdoor venue of this year’s tour (other than the NO jazz fest, but that was a bunch of bands and they didn’t quite do a full set), or if they are playing killer setlists every night, but it was a fantastic group of songs. They did a bunch of stuff for purists like myself, they pulled out the hits for the casual crowd, and even did some rarities. Even Lacey, who is pretty blase about them, said afterward that it was an incredible show…even better than Coldplay, who she LOVES, and who put on a GREAT show. Anyway, we had an absolute blast, and I was completely exhausted afterward from singing at the top of my lungs with the rest of the crowd, jumping, shouting, and cheering my butt off. Eddie was funny at the right times, Mike was incredible as usual, and the rest of the band just plain rocked. What a show. I’ll finish with the setlist, and the album each song is from, along with a few of my comments. Enjoy.

1.Release (Ten) – This is the last song off their first album, and is a GREAT song to start with. It’s a little slower, but it builds tension like crazy, and most true PJ fans know it well. I was HYPED.
2.Last Exit (Vitalogy) – It’s their pattern to start with a slower tune, then rock your socks off. Mission accomplished. I was jumping around like a teenager.
3.Got Some (Backspacer) – The first new one of the night, and a good choice. It followed the breakneck pace of Last Exit well.
4.Why Go (Ten) – Another fast one, from their first album, this wasn’t a radio hit, but is a GREAT song, and most long-time PJ fans know it.
5.In My Tree (No Code) – This is from their “experimental album”, and is rarely played live. It’s got some crazy time signatures, and a great drum part. Lacey really appreciated it, despite not knowing it. A real treat to hear it live.
6.Elderly Woman Behind The Counter in a Small Town (Vs.) – The first true “sing-a-long” tune for the crowd. Definitely a highlight from the concert’s first half.
7.Unthought Known (Backspacer) – Another new one, and a favorite of mine from the new album.
8.Even Flow (Ten) – This is one of their most-played songs, and biggest hits. In all the times I’ve seen them live on TV, in person, heard their live discs, etc., I have NEVER HEARD Mike McCready (a very underrated, but UNBELIEVABLE guitarist) have a solo this long. I wish I had timed it, I swear it was 5-6 minutes long, and he was absolutely SHREDDING. Probably the best guitar solo I have EVER heard. Incredible….I just can’t say enough about it for you to understand how amazing it was.
9.Supersonic (Backspacer) – Another new one, I was still basking in the glow of Even Flow (didn’t mean that to rhyme).
10.Down (B-Side) – Another rarity, the die-hard fans know it, but not many more. Loved it.
11.Daughter (Vs.) – Maybe Lacey’s favorite PJ song. It was fun for her, and me. They also did a snippet from another song off Vs., which was nice.
12.Goin’ Back to Indiana (Jackson 5 Cover) – Very cool, had Eddie soloing on acoustic. A nice treat for the Indiana crowd, whom he referenced over and over…he had a Colts cap on at the end 🙂
13.Rats (Vs.) – Another VERY rare find to hear them do this live. I love it when they do that sort of thing, and I don’t care if the casual fan doesn’t. Hahaha.
14.Wishlist (Yield) – I have a lot of great memories with this song, and it did not disappoint.
15.Insignificance (Binaural) – They seem to like playing this one live. I’m not a huge fan of the album version, but live it does come across great.
16.Force of Nature (Backspacer) – Another new one…it’s pretty decent.
17.Jeremy (Ten) – This brought the crowd back in a big way. Absolutely Killed.
18.The Fixer (Backspacer) – This was the first hit off their new album, so most people knew it. A fun one.

Encore #1:
19.Just Breathe (Backspacer) – Their most recent hit from the new album. It was very low key on acoustic, and was Excellent…this is my favorite tune from the new one.
20.Off He Goes (No Code) – This is one of my top 5 PJ songs, and I was THRILLED to hear it live. A DEFINITE highlight for me.
21.Given to Fly (Yield) – Another one that is better live, this brought the tempo/volume back up, and got me going a little more crazy again.
22.Lukin (No Code) – Their shortest song, it’s speed rock, and absolutely blew the place up.
23.Better Man (Vitalogy) – Eddie had let us sing in bits and pieces throughout the show (Daughter, etc.), but here, he let the CROWD sing the ENTIRE FIRST VERSE AND CHORUS. It was awesome seeing 25,000 people who knew EVERY word. Sends chills down my spine just typing this. My 2nd favorite PJ song…this was special.
24.Do The Evolution (Yield) – Of their hardcore rockers, this is one of my favorites. Eddie was in rare form, screaming and singing alternatively. Rocked out with a vengeance.

Encore #2:
25.Garden (Ten) – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them do BOTH Garden and Release from their first album. I LOVE this song, and was jacked up to get to hear it, along with Release.
26.Whipping (Vitalogy) – This has a GREAT riff/hook, and I’ve always loved it. A bit of a lesser known song by most, it was great.
27.Alive (Ten) – BROUGHT.THE.HOUSE.DOWN. This is my favorite PJ song, and the crowd was in an absolute frenzy. I can’t even explain how pumped I was during this song; the solo, and the chorus were on fire, and it was definitely THE highlight of the show for me.
28.Baba O’Riley (The Who cover) – Traci commented that they could have played ANYTHING after Alive, and the crowd would have eaten it up. She was right, but the fact that it was THIS song by The Who (which they do cover often), LIT US UP. I swear, it was like McCready’s guitar was going to burst into flames and torch the place. Eddie probably jumped off amps 6 or 7 times during the song, and the crowd was loving it. What a moment.
29.Yellow Ledbetter (B-side) – They typically close with this, and it did not disappoint anyone in the house. Mike’s final solo included the entire Star Spangled Banner, done Hendrix-style. Wow. What a concert. Whether you had only followed the hits, or were there with your significant other to support them, or have been a fan for 20 years (like me), this show was for you. They are the consummate performers, and have fine-tuned it like crazy over the years. Just amazing.

And on that note, I sign off (finally).


Ranking The Avett Brothers

May 3, 2010

I’m going to see The Avett Brothers open for John Mayer in August. I’m really looking forward to it, should be a completely awesome show. Over the last 4 months or so, The Avett Brothers have become one of my favorite bands. I have worked my way through most of their albums now, and they are all excellent. It’s hard to rank them as albums, because I love them all. But what I figured I could do was rank the top 7 or 8 songs ON the albums. This just means that, in my opinion, some songs are superior to others within the context of that album. I’m not going to rank every song on every album, just my personal favorites. And I’m only going to do the 3 full-length albums they’ve done most recently (I’m not including The Gleam or The Second Gleam, and I haven’t heard Mignonette or A Carolina Jubilee yet), in chronological order. Here we go.

Four Thieves Gone:
1.A Lover Like You
3.The Lowering (A Sad Day in Greenvilletown)
5.Pretend Love
6.Left on Laura, Left on Lisa
7.Distraction #74
8.Famous Flower of Manhattan
9.Pretty Girl From Feltre
10.The Fall
–This is the only one of their albums where I prefer the more upbeat songs to the slower stuff, although both are excellent. Probably their best record front to back, it is the longest and most complete.

1.The Ballad of Love and Hate
3.Die Die Die
4.Paranoia in B Major
5.Weight of Lies
6.All My Mistakes
8.Will You Return
9.Go To Sleep
–I’ve possibly listened to this the most, because Noah always asks to listen to The Avett Brothers…but particularly Die Die Die.

I and Love and You
1.Ill With Want
2.The Perfect Space
3.I and Love and You
4.And It Spread
5.January Wedding
6.Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise
7.Laundry Room
8.Tin Man
–This is probably my favorite of the 3, because I heard it first, and I think their two most beautiful songs are #1,3 from this list.

I’m still waiting to find the other two albums, plus their live stuff. But at this rate, The Avett Brothers will be my favorite band in a matter of months. Just superb.

Odds and Ends

April 26, 2010

1.New Chuck Tonight! Chuck Fans – it is CRITICAL that you watch these last 6 episodes LIVE. The ratings need to come up, and while it is looking good for a 4th season, nothing is guaranteed.

2.The NFL schedule is out, and I’m already jacked up for the new season. The Colts, as always, will be title contenders, and I’m hoping we can get back to the Big Game and win it all this time! I like our draft picks (more on that later), and though we have a pretty tough schedule, I’m optimistic. Big Games include week 2 (September 19th) against the Giants, Manning Bowl II, which we will most likely be attending live with a bunch of family, and a brutal stretch at Philly, Cincy, at New England, San Diego, and Dallas. Can’t wait!!

3.Speaking of the NFL, the draft was on basically all weekend, starting Thursday. I’m typically excited at first, and then get a little bored by it, and this year was no exception. The only thing I was really shocked by was the combination of Denver trading 3 picks (!!!) to move up and get Tim Tebow in the first round, and Jimmy Claussen dropping all the way down to pick 48 in the second round. Now, I’m not an NFL exec, but this seems insane to me. Claussen has been running a pro-style offense for three years, is a proven fiery competitor who can play through pain, has a picture perfect throwing motion, knows how to read a defense, was generally agreed upon to be the 1st or 2nd best QB in the draft, and he falls that far? Tebow, on the other hand, is mostly a running QB, has had to re-work his entire throwing motion, doesn’t know how to run an NFL offense, or read a defense, and will now be playing against pros, which means that his whole “my desire to win will carry me” thing is over with. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Tim Tebow is not a pro QB, and he never will be. Feel free to quote me if I’m wrong (which is definitely possible 🙂

4.Notre Dame’s spring game was on Saturday, and we learned virtually nothing about them, except that they will be in the spread offense, running a mile a minute. And even though new Coach Brian Kelly and the team remain a bit of a mystery, I’m fired up as hell for this season. If I can’t be optimistic with this coaching change, then God help me. Go Irish!

5.The concert season is starting to get in full swing! I’m hitting Pearl Jam in about a week and a half, for the first time in 9 years, and we just bought tickets to John Mayer/Avett Brothers! I am totally pumped to see The Avett Brothers, they are definitely becoming one of my favorite bands. The summer can’t get here fast enough!

Movie “Reviews”

April 26, 2010

I was able to watch three movies in the past few days, which for me recently is pretty good. I can’t technically call these reviews, since they are really just short blurbs, but here are my brief thoughts on each.

1.Where The Wild Things Are – I actually watched this with Noah. He wasn’t all that interested, but any time there was singing, dancing, or music, he was in heaven. Overall, I was just a touch disappointed. I had high hopes from Spike Jonze, and I thought the film meandered a bit, particularly in the midsection. The beginning was very good, and the end was excellent, and I thought they drew some nice comparisons to his real life (which is hard to do in a dream world sequence with monsters). But the middle was kind of boring, to be honest. With about 20 minutes left, I was solidly in the “this is not very good” camp, but they ended it well and saved the movie. Thinking back about it, I remember it fondly, but I’m not sure how memorable or even enjoyable it was at the time. Kind of a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

2.Avatar – I had already seen this, and reviewed it on here. But this was a totally different experience – no 3D to impress me and distract me from any lack of plot, etc. I had to take it on its own merits this time, without the Wow factor. And I gotta say, it held up pretty well. I think it helped that I was watching the blu-ray version on a big screen with good sound. But the special f/x are amazing no matter how you watch it. The skill involved in making this movie is undeniable. I enjoyed it for what it is worth. I’m not sold on the plot/”message” or what goes on in the film. I definitely don’t think it’s a perfect movie. But it is excellent entertainment, and I’d see it again, and pretty much anything else that Cameron does.

3.The Young Victoria – this was the best of the bunch. Emily Blunt was excellent, the costumes and sets were amazing, and I loved the soundtrack/music. It reminded me that I don’t listen to enough Classical. The story/dialogue was fine – interesting enough. It wasn’t a spectacular film or anything, but quite good and intriguing for someone who didn’t know a lot about the “Victorian Era”. The only problem that this movie suffers from is lack of tension. For the most part, Victoria didn’t have many really “major” obstacles to face – she was brought up royalty, had a little bit of pressure to set up a regency, was taken care of a little too well, faced a couple of assassination threats, but mostly lived a life of, well, royalty. She married the man she loved, had nine kids, and reigned longer than any other monarch in history. Not bad. Anyway, I quite liked the film, and it spurred me on to read some history about her. Good little movie.

Saturday Night Live – By Decade

April 16, 2010

Everyone who has watched Saturday Night Live, and appreciated it, has a favorite decade. If your parents watched it in college in the 70’s, it hasn’t ever gotten back to that level (according to them). If the 80’s are your bag, you spout off things that mostly begin with Eddie Murphy. If you watched it in high school and college in the 90’s (like me), then you argue that was it’s heyday. Now, a younger generation is convinced that we are in the glory years of SNL. Each set of people haver their own arguments, but I would say they are all wrong but me (ha). And I think my reasoning is pretty sound.

Saturday Night Live started in 1975. And while those original cast members are some of the iconic figures in American comedy (Chevy, Martin, Murray, Akryod, Belushi, Ratner, etc.), I don’t think that an argument for the 70’s as the best decade of SNL holds any water. First of all, they were still learning the ins and outs of the show, so there were a lot of mistakes. And while moments from those years are probably some of the funniest ever, there is still only 5 years of a sample size. In my mind, that’s not enough.

Most people would agree that the 80’s were a dark period for SNL. They didn’t know if the show would continue, everyone who was anyone had left. This left a major gap in the early to mid-80’s that just could not be filled. Enter Eddie Murphy, who really saved the show. I have seen some HILARIOUS episodes from that time period. But one brilliant cast member does not a decade make. Period. Some will argue that many of the best cast members of the 90’s really started to be hilarious in the late 80’s, and to some degree this might be true (even though I think they did most of their best work in the 90’s) – but I think that overall as a decade, the early 80’s cancel out what people like Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman did toward the end of the decade.

The 90’s were an incredible time for SNL. They were riding a creative wave from the end of the 80’s, and they kept it going right along through all ten years. Now, I will admit that in about the period from 1994-96, when many of the older guys had left, they struggled a bit. But keep in mind, that guys like Will Ferrell, Tim Meadows, Darrell Hammond and Norm McDonald were still there and being consistently funny. Just look at the list of names I can give you from the 90’s and then TRY to compare it to any other decade. You can’t. Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley, David Spade, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Mike Myers, Tim Meadows, Julia Sweeney, Dennis Miller, Al Franken, Jay Mohr, Sarah Silverman, Michael McKean, Chris Elliot, Janeane Garofalo, Norm McDonald, Molly Shannon, Jim Bruer, Will Ferrell, Darrell Hammond, Tracy Morgan, Cheri O’Teri, Ana Gasteyer, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz, among others. SHEESH!

And while I have liked many of the digital shorts and Andy Samberg-led sketches in the last few years, the last decade has been lean on really great comedy or characters. It just hasn’t been there. The writing has been consistently boring, bordering on horrible. Bad skits have been the rule, with very few exceptions. So, as you can see, the only argument is my argument: the 90’s were the glory days of Saturday Night Live.

Spring Break

April 12, 2010

The first day back from spring break is always a very lazy day. I’m tired from getting up early. The kids are restless, and not ready to be back to school. The day seems to last forever. For all that, it’s totally worth it to have a spring break built into our schedule, and I wouldn’t dream of giving it up. I had a great break. I washed windows like a mad man, put together a swingset, celebrated Easter with family, and spent a lot of time with my boys and my beautiful wife. I was also able to stay up later, and therefore watch a few movies (finally!) Here is a recap.

1.How To Train Your Dragon – I took Noah to see this. I thought it looked cute, and I knew Noah would love it, which he did. He’s still a little young to understand what’s going on, or even tell you what happened, an hour after the movie. But the animation was fun, and he was very intent on it, particularly the flying. I thought the beginning of the movie was a little dull, but it got much better, and halfway in, I was invested. It definitely ended a little cheesy, but it is a kid’s movie after all. Overall, good entertainment for kids and parents alike. I had fun.

2.Date Night – Lacey and I haven’t been out by ourselves very many times in the past three years (for obvious reasons). This current stretch had been from Christmas, so we needed a night with just us. Being HUGE fans of The Office and 30 Rock, we figured this was the perfect opportunity since the movie stars Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. To that end, it was a touch disappointing. I thought the first half hour of the movie was a little boring, and I didn’t laugh much. Now, it did pick up some momentum, and there were some VERY funny scenes and bits of dialogue as it went on. But for the most part, they were fairly cheap laughs. Not the type or volume of hilarity I expected from these two, who deserve much better material than they were given. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie – I did. But I was hoping for more. It had great potential with the whole marriage-with-kids-regain-the-spark angle, that the movie just didn’t quite pull off. Unfortunate.

3.The Informant! – Let me just say this: Matt Damon was terrific. The movie itself, however, was incredibly frustrating. I was yelling at the TV, I was irritated. The problem is – it’s based on a true story! The basic nuts and bolts is that the main character is absolutely insane. He’s cooperating with the FBI, and at the SAME TIME, embezzling millions of dollars from his company, lying to everyone, and talking to anyone and everyone he’s not supposed to. It was fairly entertaining, but I’m not sure what the point of the movie was. So, I can’t really say that it was “good”. I laughed in parts, but if there’s not going to be a real moral or meaning, then I need to be entertained way more than I was.

4.Whip It – Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut starred her and Juno (I’m calling her that because that’s how I think of her, and it’s easier than saying Ellen Page), along with several other actors that you would recognize if you saw them, but are too numerous to name. Overall, the story was a bit mundane – chick doesn’t really fit in, so she joins roller derby. It has your typical “girl power” elements, that were a bit of a yawn. But those were mixed in with some genuinely excellent parent/child relationship moments, that I really liked. The best bits of the movie revolve around Juno’s parents, who were superb. I had fun with this movie, and while it was just ok overall, I think I can actually recommend it as a good time. The only thing that *really* bothered me was the fact that it takes place in a small town in deep Texas, and basically NO ONE has a southern accent (including the father who has lived there all his life, and follows football religously). Ridiculous.

5.Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – This is a crazy movie, and I cannot recommend it. I enjoyed it to a point, and Nic Cage was SUPERB, but it was literally insane. Plus, I don’t really think Cage learns his lesson, and that is depressing as hell.

6.The Time Traveler’s Wife – I do like both Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, but this movie was not good. It was ridiculous, disjointed, cheesy (expected), and boring. I thought there was very little chemistry between the two leads, the story didn’t focus on anything really interesting, and the way he meets the little girl was a bit creepy. Overall, I thought it pretty much sucked, and I wasn’t thrilled with any element of the movie, including the performances, which were lackluster at best. Shoot, man, even Ron Livingston (Office Space), who I generally love, got on my nerves.

7.Law Abiding Citizen – Take out 2 to 3 scenes, and I really like this movie a lot. Since they are in, not only can I not recommend it, I’m not sure I cared for it at all. There are some great moments – surprises, good performances from the leads, some laughs, action, and the characters seem to learn from their mistakes, and repent (to a degree) – I LOVED the final scene. But I have to take the entire film as a whole, and I was disgusted too much to give it a good rating overall. Yeesh.

The Butler Bulldogs

March 30, 2010

As I’ve documented several times in several places, I always get excited for the NCAA basketball tournament. It might be my favorite sporting event of the year – especially since I don’t always have a favored team in the Super Bowl. But with March Madness, there are always conferences to be cheered and jeered, teams that I love, local favorites, and of course those cinderellas. Coming into this year’s tournament, I had a couple of rooting interests. First off, I have become a pretty big Purdue and Butler fan. Purdue because they are good (yes, I jumped on the bandwagon about three years ago and started following them very closely), and because my sister and brother-in-law graduated from there. Butler (as I’ve said before) because they’ve had success for the last decade, but for a variety of other reasons, really. I went to grade school and college with their coach, they are a very small school/underdog/cinderella, they are a local team with a classy program, etc. But more on them in a minute. My other rooting interests revolve around hatred and conferences. I absolutely detest Kentucky, both because they are Indiana’s bitter rivals (my true team), and because their coach is a scumbag. I also can’t stand Duke (though it hasn’t bordered on hatred for a few years), dating back to Laettner (total prick, stepped on a Kentucky player on purpose, hard, before he hit his famous shot…shouldn’t have been in the game in the first place) and the worst-officiated game I’ve ever seen in any sport – the Final 4 in 1992 vs. Indiana (long story). So I’m always rooting against those teams. Along with that, I also love to see the Big Ten do well. Typically we are considered “overrated” coming into the tournament, but we always seem to have multiple teams in the Sweet 16 and beyond. Rarely does a year go by when the Big Ten doesn’t have at least 1 team in the Final 4. But this year, I also had another mission – to see every SEC team go down in flames. This is another long story, but the gist of it is that I have noticed recently that what many (not all) of my SEC friends consider merely “SEC pride”, almost always also consists of bashing other conferences and teams. Whether it be Notre Dame, the Big East, the Big Ten, or whomever, it never seems like SEC fans can just be happy for their conference, which would seem totally fine to me. The problem is, it rarely stops there – they always have to belittle someone else. And if you EVER dare to mention something even CLOSE to negative (even if it’s just a hint or suggestion) about the SEC, you get jumped all over like you started World War III. I noticed this more and more starting with this year’s football season, and continuing through the basketball tournament. Traditionally, I’ve not berated other conferences so much (mostly just individual teams like USC, Florida/State and Miami)…in fact, I used to be a bit of a closet SEC fan. But with Alabama’s hiring of The Liar, through the constant mocking of other teams/conferences that I see from so many SEC fans, I have slowly changed. So, along with my natural hatred for Kentucky, I have been rooting HARD against every SEC team (not that there were many after the first round, but add to Kentucky a Tennessee team filled with criminals, and it’s pretty easy to root against them).

So, while I normally have plenty to get excited about, this year’s NCAA tournament has been special. Indiana is terrible, and did not make it, which seems like it should dampen my spirits. Purdue lost their best player to a blown-out ACL, and dropped from a probable #1 seed to a 4 seed. Butler was underrated by most people, and given a terrible draw (again). And yet, I have found myself “getting into” games even more this year, particularly BECAUSE Butler and Purdue were virtually given no shot to make it deep into the tourney. There have been several games where I have literally been on the carpet in front of the TV, banging on the floor, pleading with my team to pull games out (I SWEAR they can hear me, though Lacey assures me that they can’t 🙂 And all of that culminated on Thursday/Saturday with Butler’s two amazing upset wins. Beating the #1 and 2 seeds, with much less height and athleticism, by playing fundamental, defensive, smart basketball was oh so satisfying. And in each game, Butler built a lead, lost it deep in the 2nd half, and yet battled to an upset victory. These were scintillating basketball games, and ones which I will never forget.

Now, Butler has come home. They are the first Final 4 team to play in their home city since 1979. The city of Indianapolis is in an uproar. We have had a great year with the Colts in the Super Bowl, etc. but we NEEDED this after what happened in Miami. Butler is the definition of a cinderella. They have barely any seniors, a 33-year-old coach, and were given no shot against the “big boys” of college basketball. And yet, playing in their first Final 4 EVER, they have a legitimate chance to do the unthinkable: be the National Champions of college basketball. So come Saturday (and hopefully Monday), turn on the TV, tune in to CBS, and help me cheer on the Butler Bulldogs. They deserve it. They want it. They need it. GO ‘DOGS!!

My Cards

March 25, 2010

Growing up, my favorite sport for a long time was baseball. I have probably 15,000 baseball cards, I played ball from about age 5 to 10, and to pass the time, my best friend J.K. and I played literally countless hours of whiffle ball, imagining we were the great players of the past (and present). And for about 8 years, the Detroit Tigers were my team. I lived very close to Tigers stadium, I saw the 1984 World Series team play, and got a baseball signed by all of them. When we moved to Indiana, however, I started to shift my allegiance. My Dad and Grandpa had always been St. Louis Cardinals fans, and soon I followed suit. I still remember getting ripped off in Game 6 of the 1987 World Series like it was yesterday. The Wizard of Oz (Ozzie Smith) was my favorite player for a LONG time, and while my love of baseball has cooled (mostly due to the strike, and my subsequent love of football), I still have a special place in my heart for the Cardinals.

In recent years, I have started following baseball more and more once again. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m in a fantasy baseball league, but it’s also because the Cardinals have had easily a decade of sustained excellence. The biggest reason behind that has one name: Albert Pujols. This is his 10th season, and he is starting to make a case for a status of the greatest baseball player of all time. His statistics are staggering – so staggering in fact that I can’t name any of them for fear of making this article too long. Albert Pujols is far and away my favorite player, and not just because he is so good. He is a strong Christian, an unbelievably hard worker, and he just seems like a geniunely nice guy. Any organization would be thrilled to have him.

As we get close to the start of the new season, my love of the Cardinals is beginning to be revived. One again, we have an excellent team that should compete for the World Series. But if you ask anyone that knows, they will tell you that St. Louis is one of the best organizations in baseball, if not “the” best. It seems to be a very family-like atmosphere around the clubhouse. We have great fans who are extremely knowledgeable. The stadium is in it’s 3rd season, and is absolutely beautiful. I had the opportunity to go to a game with my Dad last year, and it was awesome – we are going back this year. I love the city, I love our coaching staff, I love our players, and I love the Cardinals.

Come On Chuck-sters!!!

March 23, 2010

Disaster is pending. Last week, Chuck’s ratings dropped significantly (again), as total viewers have fallen from almost 8 million to around 5 and a half. Every show and network was down, though, because of Daylight Savings Time. However, this week is more of the same. Chuck has NOT rebounded, though it’s episodes are better than ever! It doesn’t help that Dancing With the Stars premiered last night, but this is still terrible news. It looks like Chuck fans will have to go through the “will-it-or-won’t-it be cancelled” turmoil again…unless we mobilize NOW and get Chuck’s ratings back where they need to be! Tell your friends! Everyone needs to be watching the best show on TV!!

The Big Lebowski

March 23, 2010

Saturday night, we had people over for a Big Lebowski party to celebrate Jeff Bridges (The Dude) winning the Best Actor Academy Award. It was a great time. We hung out, ordered pizza, drank White Russians, I had the Wii set up with Bowling on it, and then we finished by all watching The Big Lebowski. I hadn’t seen it in a while, so I was quite excited for it. I wore my best pajamas and slippers, looking as disheveled as I thought I could pull off. As I sat in my living room and watched the movie with the 12 or so people that were there, I realized again why I love this movie so much. From the very first scene of actual dialogue – the first bowling alley scene – the characters are so well-defined it’s scary. Rarely is a movie written so brilliantly any more. Every single role is amazingly drawn, and I think I laugh more in that scene than in any other scene in the entire movie…and that’s saying something. Imminently quotable, superbly acted, with a wonderful soundtrack and incredibly gifted filmmaking, The Big Lebowski remains one of my favorite movies of all time. Beware though, it’s rated R for a reason. As the narrator states, “Do you have to use so many cuss words?”