Tuesday, February 20, 2007

March Madness is upon us!

So my second favorite playoff/tournament is coming soon, NCAA March Madness (behind MLB playoffs and the World Series of course). Selection Sunday is March 11, which is the day most teams find out if they've made the field of 65 and what seed they are. The best part of this day is the fact that CBS always has live cameras on a few teams who are "on the bubble," meaning that they could make the tournament or they could be left out. Seeing the teams that don't make the tournament crying is pretty much the highlight of Selection Sunday.

Anyway, I've watched more college basketball this season than any other season for whatever reason, and I'm here to make my predictions. Screw Joe Lunardi on ESPN and his bracketology bullshit; if you want to win your NCAA bracket pool, you'll listen to me.

So I'll break it down by the teams that I think have a legit shot to win the whole thing, teams that I think are Cinderella possibilities, teams that I'm not 100% sold on yet and teams that are overrated by everyone.


Pittsburgh (RPI: 4, SOS:9)

Simply put, they are the most overrated team in the country. Yes, they play in a tough conference, and yes they will most likely be a number 2 seed, but their best player is a white guy who has basically no skills and is a slightly better version of Mark Madsen. And really, do you think Mark Madsen could lead his team to an NCAA championship. They have the 9th toughest schedule int he country, but even that is a bit decieving. Their early season games were a joke, playing against the likes of Delaware State, Oakland, Robert Morris, Buffalo, Florida A&M and so on and so forth. Their 4 losses have come against Wisconsin and Oklahoma State when both were ranked, and Marquette and Louisville, both of whom were unranked when they beat Pitt. Of those 4 losses, I'd rank 1 as a given (Wisconsin), another as a toss up (Louisville) and the other two as games they should have won if they were as good as people say they are (Marquette and Okla. St.- more on both in a second). Their two most impressive victories thus far have come against Georgetown (that victory looks much better now since GTown was struggling at the time they played Pitt but have come alive since) and Villanova (only cause I consider them one of the biggest darkhorse teams in the tournament). You could also consider West Virginia a good win, since in all likelihood they'll make the tournament, but for a team that's ranked 5th in the country, I'll leave that off.

Prediction: Of the 2 seeds, Pitt is the most likely to fall to a 15 seed in the first round. If they sneak by, look for them to get ousted by the 7/10 seed in the second.

Air Force (RPI: 13, SOS:79)

This team lives and dies by the 3 and if they're not dropping, it could be an early exit for the Falcons. While they are an impressive 23-4 overall, they are 10-3 in tehir own conference, the Mountain West Conference, which means 3 of their 4 losses have come against conference opponents. Can you name anyone else in the MWC? I thought not. Those three losses came against BYU, San Diego State (lost by 21!) and Utah (whose RPI isn't even in the top 100 in the country). Their other loss was a 15 point defeat at the hands of Duke earlier in the season. So while on paper their 23-4 record might seem impressive, take those losses against lesser opponents into account. Additionally, as a 4 or 5 seed, they would be matched up against a 12 or 13, which are traditionally not pushovers. Dangerous teams like Santa Clara, Winthrop, West Virginia, Purdue and Holy Cross could be in these slots, which would mean a first round exit for Air Force.

Prediction: Because of their tournment inexperience and reliance on the 3 ball, Air Force will lose in the first round if they are matched up against one of the teams I already stated. Otherwise, they could escape the first round, but will lose in the second.

Butler (RPI: 28, SOS: 132)

I watched Butler win the preseason NIT tournament, beating the likes of Tennessee and Gonzaga, but I wasn't that impressed then (cause Tennessee and Gonzaga aren't that good) and I'm still not to tell you the truth. This is another team that relies on their sharpshooter, A.J. Graves, coming off screens and draining shots, JJ Redick style. They've lost to Indiana State, Illinois-Chicago (who?), Wright State and Southern Illinois. The loss to the Salukis was understandable, because Southern Illinois is a good team, but the other three are inexcusable if you want to be considered the 15th ranked team in the country. THEY'RE NOT EVEN IN FIRST PLACE IN THEIR CONFERENCE! (which is the Horizon Conference, fyi). This is why I fail to understand college rankings sometimes. What you're telling me is that a team that plays in a conference with far lesser competition and has lost against the likes of Indiana State, Illinois-Chicago, Wright State and Southern Illinois is better than a team that plays in one of the best conferences in the country and has lost to Arkansas, Marquette, Notre Dame, Cincy, Pitt and GTown? How does that make any sense?? (that team is West Virginia, btw). Long story short, Butler is overrated, and I can't wait to hear Jim Nantz go on and on about how they were such a great story during the year and people picked them to go far in the tournament, right before they lose

Prediction: Butler should get a 4 seed, and should win their first round game, but I don't see them surviving whoever wins the 5/13 game.

Marquette (RPI: 32, SOS: 31)

Just really completely underwhelming every time I've watched them. I keep thinking they could be good and they showed flashes at the beginning of the season, but have faded hard since then. They're just way too inconsistent to predict that they'll go far in the tournament. Dominic James is something like 2 for his last billion 3 point attempts, yet he keeps hoisting them up there with 25 seconds left on the shot clock. They've had their moments- beating WVU, UConn, Louisville, Pitt, Duke- but have also looked terrible at times- losing to North Dakota State, DePaul, barely beating South Florida. I think their inconsistency is going to kill them. That and the fact that their leading scorer has scored in single digits in 5 of the past 7 games.

Prediction: Marquette will most likely be a 6 or 7 seed. I can see them winning the first two round, the second round in a nailbiter, but losing in the third round. They're overrated because people think they're much better than this but they aren't.

Honorable Mentions: Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford

Not Quite Yet

Wisconsin (RPI: 5, SOS: 67)

I know, I know- they're one of the best teams in the country and have been all year. They've played consistently good basketball and have a player of the year candidate in Alando Tucker. So why are they in this category? Other than Tucker and Kammeron Taylor, the Badgers have no one- I just don't see them with the depth and talent level of the big boys. Of course they'll be a number one seed, but I think there are 4, maybe 5 teams that have a better chance of winning the whole thing than Wisconsin. To me, the Big Ten is just not as strong as it has been in years past- you have Wisconsin and Ohio State, and then a bunch of mediocre teams. Wisconsin has an early season loss to Missouri State and a defeat at the hands of Indiana, but have beaten OSU, Marquette, and Pitt. While I rank OSU among the top teams, we already know what I think of Marquette and Pitt. So color me unimpressed by Wisconsin. We'll see over the next week if Wisconsin is for real, as they play their last three games at Michigan State, at OSU and home against Michigan St.

Prediction: If one of the number one seeds is going to lose to an 8/9, it will be Wisconsin

Georgetown (RPI: 16, SOS: 32)

Not sure if this is because of my anti-GTown bias or not, but I've had to watch pretty much every GTown game this year because, well, I live in DC. I heard all the preseason hype and was pleased when the team struggled in the beginning of the season, as I had predicted. But as of late, they're coming alive and have played like a team that went deep into the tournment last year. My issue is with their inconsistency. They run the Princeton style offense, which is just annoying to watch when you have two guys on your team who could be absolute studs in Green and Hibbert. The games that I've seen where they make a conscious effort to get the ball inside to Hibbert and run their offense around him, they've been successful. Saturday was the first game I've watched where they didn't get Hibbert involved and had success, due mostly to Green having an absolute monster game (19 points, 9 boards, 8 blocks), but even then they barely escaped with a W. I was at the first Nova-GTown game and like I said, watched last weekend's, and the thing that I noticed was that the smaller, more mobile big men give Hibbert a lot of problems, basically because he is slow as shit and has no mobility, and these guys go right by him and get him in foul trouble. They have a terrible early season loss to Old Dominion, but what looks like a nice victory now against a good Vanderbilt team. They've also lost to Oregon, Duke, Pitt and Nova, two of whom i consider darkhorse tournment teams, while the other two are on my overrated list. This is why GTown is so hard to read.

Prediction: I can't really make one for GTown. This team will only go as far as Hibbert will take them, as we saw in the tournament last year. Depending on the matchups, they could exit early, or could go to the Final Four.

Texas A&M (RPI: 14, SOS: 59)

I have to admit, every time that I've seen A&M, they've seemed more and more impressive, the type of team that is perfectly suited for a deep tournament run. I was very skeptical at first, but am closer and closer to believing in them- just not fully yet. They had two a big wins at Kansas and against Texas, but have lost to Texas Tech, a bubble team, twice, UCLA, my next "not sure yet" team and LSU, who have fallen off the face of the earth. Other than that, their scedule ios fairly unimpressive, including a 101-27 cupcake game against Grambling State. Was that even necessary? Acie Law and Antanas Kavaliauskas provide solid senior leadership, which is important for a succesfful tournament team, but I'm not convinced they have what it takes to win the whole thing.

Prediction: A&M will probably go to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, but don't see them going further than that. Just too many teams with more talent out there

UCLA (RPI: 1, SOS: 6)

There's really no justification I can come up with as to why I'm unconvinced by UCLA- they have the most wins against teams with an RPI in the top 50, the number 1 RPI themselves and teh 6th toughest schedule in the nation. All these point to success, but I guess there are two reason why I don't like UCLA to win it all. First, whenever I watch them, they never seem to have that level of play that the elite teams do, where they can just kick it into high gear and go on a 20-4 run if they're behind. If UCLA gets behind early, I just don't see them coming back. Secondly, I'm unimpressed by their big men. Their tallest player is 6-9, and against teams that have strong inside games, as most of the other elite teasm do, I feel that they can just be dominated.

Prediction: UCLA will probably go far based on their strong backcourt play, but will be pressed to win if they run into a team with anything resembling a dominant big man

Honorable Mentions: Boston College, USC, Texas, Kentucky


Virginia (RPI: 35, SOS: 44)

I think I've seen Virginia play only once this season, but for some reason I'm excited about this team. They opened up the season with what, at the time, was a more impressive win than it appears now, against Arizona. They've also beaten Duke, Clemson and Maryland (2x). They lost by 2 to Purdue, a potential tournament team, 10 to UNC, 5 to BC and 1 to Stanford, so they've put up good fights in all those games. Their bad losses, however, have been very bad- 11 to Appalachain St. (who may be another tournament team at this point, so the loss doesn't look as bad as at first glance), 24 to Utah, and 27 to Va. Tech. So despite tehse bad losses, why do I think Virginina can be successful in the tournment? Like UCLA, they have exceptional backcourt play in J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary (both averaging 18.4 PPG), but have a slightly bigger front line than the Bruins. Make no mistake, I;m not saying that Virginia is better than UCLA; however, I do think that they could cause some problems for other teams and go further in the tournment than people think.

Prediction: Virginia will be seeded anywhere between 5-7, so it really will be dependant on their matchup. However, I could see them going to the sweet 16 if the right matchup comes their way.

Duke (RPI: 10; SOS: 3)

While this might not seem like a darkhorse given Duke's past performance, and believe me, as much as it pains me to even put Duke in this category, I feel that they'll slide under people's radars, especially when peole just look at the records. However, you can't overlook the fact that Duke has played one of the toughest schedules in the country and have been in pretty much every game until the end. A few breaks their way, and we could be looking at a top 5 team right now. Not to mention that 6 of their 7 losses have come in-conference and for my money, the ACC is still the best conference in the nation (seriously, it goes 11 deep. I guarantee you put Wake or NC State in the tournament they win a game or two. Everyone but Miami is competitive).

Now, let me put a disclaimer on this as well. It's a slippery slope with Duke. While I think they are better than their record indicates, I do still think they are a little overrated. Paulus could be the most overrated player, not only point guard, in the country. McRoberts will be a better pro player than he is college player, but he won't even be that great of a pro player. DeMarcus Nelson is their best player, in my opnion, but they don't give him the ball enough. He should run the offense, not Paulus. Nelson can slash to the basket, dump it off to McRoberts when the D collapses or kick it out to Scheyer, who is a pure shooter. But they don't do this becase Duke PGs are and have always been overrated (seriously- Bobby Hurley, Wojo, Jay Williams, Chris Duhon, William Avery- none have ever been good enough to play consistenly at the pro level- Duhon is the closest).

Prediction: Duke will be in the 6-7 range and should go to the elite 8, knocking off at least one big name team on the way there.

(editor's note: I wrote everything above this point yesterday, prior to last night's Wisconsin and Air Force games- both of which they lost. All the more reason to listen to me)

Villanova (RPI: 18; SOS: 4)

For some reason, I really think that Nova is going to do really well in thr tournament. They have a nice backcourt tandem of the experienced Mike Nardi and young gun Scottie Reynolds, and solid big men in Curtis Sumpter and Will Sheridan, who are also veterans. I've watched them play a bunch this season, once live, and liked what I saw every time. They're a little undersized, but similar to George Mason last year, their front court players know how to use that size to their advantage and are stellar rebounders for their height. Reynolds will most likely be the Big East Rookie of the Year and is an electrifying scorer who can shoot the lights out. The have some questionable losses (DePaul, Drexel, Syracuse, Xavier), but have also played a tough schedule and have big wins at GTown and against Notre Dame, Texas, Louisville and Providence. I really like this team and think that they have a chance to go to the Sweet 16, if not further. Plus, Jay Wright is a great coach, something that can't be overlooked come tournament time.

Prediction: Nova gets an 8/9 seed, wins easily in the 1st round and, depending on the #1 seed they play in the second round, could knock them off. If they get past the 1 seed, this team can go as far as the Elite 8.

Santa Clara (RPI: 73; SOS: 144)

Another team that I haven't seen much of, but everything I've heard I've liked. They probably won't go deep in the tournament, but as a low seed are definately an upset special. 5 of their 7 losses have been against solid teams (Kentucky, Air Force, Gonzaga, Nevada, Missouri State) and they have a chance to win the conference that has long been dominated by Gonzaga. Their biggest wins have come against Stanford and Gonzaga.

Prediction: As a 12 seeed, Santa Clara will probably have a good chance to upset the 5 seed. After that, I don't see them going any further.

Honorable Mentions: Notre Dame, Nevada, Louisville, Maryland, Southern Illinois (although they're not really a darkhorse anymore, but I feel like people will underrate them because they don't know enough about them and have them losing early- this is a good team)

The Big Boys

Tier A
Kansas (RPI: 17, SOS: 63)
North Carolina (RPI: 2, SOS: 7)

Tier B
Ohio State (RPI: 3, SOS: 34)
Florida (RPI: 7, SOS: 56)

Tier C
Memphis (RPI: 9, SOS: 58)

I'm just going to group these 5 together and talk about them all at once. These are the top 5 teams, in order, heading into the tournament. Kansas has the most raw talent, UNC has the most depth, OSU has the best player and the most dominant big man, Florida has the best balance and Memphis has the combination of talent, depth and balance that could make tehm deadly.

Kansas just has unbelievable talent- Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers, Sharron Collins and Darrell Arthur all avergae 10+ points a game. They've beaten Florida, Oklahoma State, BC and Kansas State and other than disappointing losses to Oral Roberts and Depaul and lost to Texas A&M and Texas Tech, two good teams. The last game of the season for them, against Texas, should provide a good measuring stick for where they are come tournment time. Although they've traditionally disappointed in the tournment, exiting far earlier thant they should have, I think this is the year they harness that talent and reach the Final Four, perhaps further.

UNC is talented and deep. They've played the toughest schedule by far of the top 5 teams I have here, beating Tennessee, OSU, Kentucky, Arizona, Duke, BC, FSU, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Clemson, all top 50 RPI teams. Their worst loss was a rivalry game with NC State, and like I said before, NC State is an underrated team as it is. Hansborough, Brandon Wright and Rayshawn Terry make one of the best front lines in college basketball, while Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson (Ray Felton redux) provide a stallar backcourt. They have talent off the bench in Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson, all of whom would probably start on 95% of the other teams, and a sharpshooter in Wes Miller. Not to mention, a Hall of Fame coach in Roy Williams. In my opinion, Kansas and UNC are the two heavy favorites to win it all this year.

I've like Ohio State a lot since the beginning of the year; initially, I thought they'd be the surefire national champs, but I've tempered my expecations a bit. Oden has been unbelievable, basically playing the entire season with his off hand and still managing to score while changing the game on the defensive end as well. If both he and Durant declare for the draft, it will be interesting to see who goes first, because both are really, really good. I think they key for Ohio State has been the recent emergence of Mike Conley Jr., Oden's high school teammate, as a the floor leader and an increased scoring threat. This had to happen for OSU to make a run for the national championship. You have to remember that Oden didn't play until December 2 against Valparaiso, meaning OSU played the first 7 games of the season without him (he missed the game against UNC). Then they insert this monster into the lineup, who by the way isn't really fully healed yet so he needs to adjust his game, so the other guys who have played 7 games without him have have a transition period, let's say a month, where they really get used to him fitting into their offensive gameplan. That puts us at game 14 against Illinois. Since that time, they've lost one game, in Wisconsin, by 3 points. Even further, it's only really been since conference play began that Conley has taken charge, and since he's familiar with Oden and how he plays, OSU has been firing on all cylinders ever since. Their big test will be this weekend when they play Wisconsin at home. I'm expecting an OSU victory, with Oden dominating because Wisconsin basically has no one that can stop him. This team has the makings of a national champ, so it will be interesting to watch them in the tournment.

Florida is a very good basketball team, all experienced from their run last year, but I'm not as high on them as other people are, and I'm not as high on them as I am on the three teams I've already talked about. Like I said, they are probably the most balanced team in the country and are great defensively, but I feel their balance hurts them a bit, as they lack that one big play guy who can take over the game for 10 minutes if they need him too (Rush/Wright can both do it for Kansas, Hansborough for UNC, Oden for OSU). Their 3 losses have come to Kansas, Vanderbilt and Florida State, so it's not like they've suffered any devastating losses, but I'm also not impressed with their schedule. Samford, North Florida, Jacksonville, Prairie View A&M, Stetson, Liberty and Western Kentucky don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. Kansas, OSU, and Kentucky are the only three teams they've played this season who have been ranked when they played them. Another thing to consider is the fact that Florida played so far into the tournament last season, won it all, have pretty much partied ever since, especially since Florida won the football title as well, played an entire season this year and again have to make a deep run into the tournament, which will sport a much tougher field this year than in years past. Something to consider, and while it might not have that big of an impact on them, it will be very tough for them to repeat.

Memphis is my darkhorse/big boy team. Of the 5, they're the least likely to win it all, but for some reason I always find myself liking them. I like Calipari, I think he's a great college coach, and Memphis has the talent to sneak through if the bracket is favorable for them. Their biggest win has been against Kentucky, while they've fallen to Arizona, Georgia Tech and Tennessee. Honestly, they probably shouldn't be in the same class as the four teams I mentioned above, but call it a gut feeling, I like Memphis this year. I think they can shake up the bracket and will be a team to watch.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Running Commentary of the Grammys

I haven't posted in a while, so I came up with the brilliant idea to do a running commentary of the 49th Annual Grammys. Unfortuantely I started late, so I can fill you in on what has happened so far: The Police reunited, Mary J. Blige already won two awards, Justin Timberlake did some weird performance where he carried a camera and filmed himself while he sang, Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett won an award for a song that Steve Wonder wrote over 30 years ago (way to be orginal Tony), everyone loves the Dixie Chicks now because everyone's realized they were right about Bush, Beyonce performed underwhelmingly once again (so overrated) and there have been wayyyyy too many commercial breaks. Just another year at the Grammys

8:45- Stevie Wonder gets up on stage for the second time tonight, still looking like he has no idea where he is. Well come to think of it, he doesn't have any idea where he is. Anyway, as usual, he makes no sense and continues to prove my theory that he's the world's biggest closet alcoholic

8:47- Nice little collaborative effort from John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae and John Mayer. Yes John Mayer. Still haven't figured out why him, but let's get beyond that and focus on the fact that he looks like he has turrets when he plas the guitar. God I hate John Mayer. Plus, it's rumored he's dating Jessica Simpson, which makes me hate him that much more. Keep waiting on the world to change there, John.

8:56- Collaboration still going on. Really would love for this to end here. Bring back J-Tim and his crazy camera.

8:57- This just in: Nelly Furtado is smoking.

8:58- BOOOO. John Mayer beats J-Tim for Best Pop Vocal Album. How does a guy who is famous for playing the guitar and looks like Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands win for best VOCAL album?? Have you ever seen Edward Scissorhands? Mayer should be locked away just for that.

8:59- After just a terrible speech from Mayer, we're again told that we have a chance to vote for who will perform later in the show with Justin Timberlake. There are three girls in the audience who have been chosen out of thousands, and we can vote for who wins, despite only hearing about a 5 second clip of each one singing. If I was one of these chicks, I would have just gone on American Idol. They definately would have won and would have been much more popular.

9:04- Shakira and Wyclef perform the Hips Don't Lie song. Great song, great performance. It really should be illegal the way Shakira moves.

9:09- Seal and Burt Bacharach present the song of the year award. Um, Seal, why are you even there? Why would you ever leave Heidi Klum's side? Bacharach makes things even more awkward by going off script and asking Seal to write a song with him, even though it's obvious Seal definately doesn't want to. But of course now he has to, since he said he would on national TV. That Bacharach, what a genius.

9:11- Dixie Chicks win for song of the year, "Not Ready to Make Nice." Hmm, political statement anyone? Let's see how much coverage CNN gives to this tomorrow. I'm betting it'll be Dixie Chicks and Anna Nicole all day tomorrow. Way to inform our country about the important stuff.

9:14- Honestly, how much money did Chevy spend on advertising this year?First we're subjected to the awful "This is Our Country Song" for months on end, now I've seen the new commercial with Mary J. Blige, Big and Rich, T.I. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. about 5 times since the Grammys started. When I get a car, it won't be a Chevy, that's for sure.

9:16- Does anyone ever see Dennis Hopper and not think of Speed? I know I don't.

9:17- If you're not excited to see Nicholas Cage as a motorcycle bandit with a flaming skull, you should probably go see a doctor. Ghost Rider. Friday. You know were I'll be.

9:19- Grateful Dead are honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Somehwhere, Bill Walton is lighting up a joint in rememberance of Jerry Garcia.

9:20- Performance by Gnarls Barkley. Guess what song? This song is fucking making me crazy. Stop. Please. Not only is this song overplayed, but it's being sang really slow by a guy wearing a airline pilot's uniform. How did this make the cut? Who makes these decisions? Horrible.

9:23- Common and Kanye West present best rap album. Kanye needs to go away for a little while, seriously. He's just too full of himself. Predictably, Ludacris wins for best rap album. Can't really argue with that. Plus, he's just got the coolest sounding voice ever. And he gave a shout out to Oprah and Bill O'Really. Good stuff.

9:30- An open question to the people of America. How can you make CBS the most wached network?? Not only that, how is Two and a Half Men the number one comedy on TV??? Shows like Arrested Development get cancelled, but this garbage thrives. This country really makes no sense sometimes.

9:33- I think Terrance Howard is my new favorite actor. He just always looks so cool. Here comes Mary J. Another redemption story.

9:35- Nice performace by Mary J. She does have probably the best voice since early Whitney. Too bad people like Beyonce and Fergie get all the press.

9:38- Mandy Moore. My night just keeps getting better. Unfortunately, they're announcing best country album. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the Dixie Chicks will win this.

9:40- Surprise!! Let's add to the media circus tomorrow. There was a movie called Shut Up and Sing made about how all these country hicks started to hate the Dixie Chicks after they spoke out against Bush. Guess we know who was right now...

9:44- Heineken commercial with Jermaine DuPree and Lil Jon. Congrats Heineken, as if your shitty beer wasn't enough, you've now given me even more reason to not buy your beer ever again.

9:48- Reba McEntire introduces Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts. For some reason, Reba's always rubbed me the wrong way. Carrie, however, does not. Although this country music is making my ears bleed. I really hate country music.

9:53- Rascal completely destroys Hotel California. There are very few songs that only one person or band should perform, and Hotel California is one of them. It just does not sound the same if The Eagles aren't singing it. I hope this is over soon.

9:54- Carrie Underwood singing Desperado. This song just makes me laugh everytime I hear it for mulitple reasons I can't even begin to go in to. She does a good job though. Plus it doesn't hurt that she's hot.

9:57- Rascal Flatts sings again. I'm a little confused, because I was udner the impression that the lead singer's name was Rascal Flatts, but I think now that it might just be the band's name. Either way, can they just go away? There's no way Carrie Underwood should have to split camera time with these scrubs. Also, I'm predicting this now- Carrie Underwood=new June Carter. You heard it here first, and you can tell me I was right in 10 years.

10:00- Best New Artist Grammy goes to Carie Underwood. Anytime she's on camera is great. She's the second American Idol to win a Grammy, behind Kelly Clarkson, but is still the hottest American Idol.

10:06- Again with Two and a Half Men. Just makes me angry everytime I see it. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT!!!!

10:08- Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci introduce Smokey Robinson. Has there ever been a hotter/freakier/scarier girl than Christina Ricci? She scares the fuck out of me, but she's banging. I mean, she fell in love with Casper. Only she could do that and get away with it.

10:09- It had to have taken Smokey a good 3 hours to get into the pants he's wearing. Plus, he looks like he's possessed. I'm scared for everyone at the Grammy's right now.

10:11- Lionel Richie performs. You know, for some reason I've always liked Lionel. He's got a silky smooth voice, can play the piano, has some good songs and hasn't cracked despite having to field about 1,000 questions a day about his 25 pound daughter. Two words: weight gainer.

10:13- Unfortuantely, the performance by two legends is ruined by the third act, Chris Brown, doing some Riverdance type shit with a mask on his face. He barely even sings either, he just does some dance act. So terrible. Can we just get rid of these awful performers please? I will guarantee that Chris Brown will last about another year tops. Remember Ricky Martin? Yea, Chris, meet Ricky. See ya later.

10:17- Out of nowhere, Christina Aguilera pops out of the stage and starts singing. Great voice, but she needs to start slutting it up again. That's when she was really great. I'm talking Genie in a Bottle style.

10:19- Quick recap here. Back in the early 90s, we had Justin, Christina and Britney in the Mickey Mouse Club. Justin's huge and performed once already tonight, Christina is performing now, and Britney...well...let's just say I think we know who the real winner is: K-Fed.

10:21- So you're telling me John Legend isn't gay? Really?

10:22- Am I the only one who is just wishing that Jared from the Subway commercials gains back all that weight he lost, plus like another 50 for kicks? I can't be the only one rooting for this.

10:23- Chevy commercial for the 20th time tonight. Seriously, every other commercial break.

10:28- The usual montage of singers and performers wo have passed away over the past year. Huge ovation for James Brown. No mention that he was a huge drug addict.

10:37- David Spade and Rihanna inroduce Luacris with Mary J. Blige and Earth Wind and Fire. David Spade? Is that a joke? Goot say though, it's weird seeing Ludacis with a clean haircut and a tuxedo. He looks like an actual music artist. Good performance though.

10:43- James Blunt gets up to do his only song, Beatiful. Enough already. We get it. Go back to England and cry about it. Doesn't anyone realize that he keeps singing the same words and playing the same chords over and over again?

10:47- I don't watch Reno 911, but I might actually go see the movie. Looks funny as hell.

10:52- Time for the announcement to see who sings wih J-Tim. And it's the hottest of the three girls, Robyn Troup. Look at Justin playing the guitar though. The girl's got a great voice too. Definately getting a record deal tomorrow. Of course T.I. comes out to sing also, pretty much cause he wants to get with Robyn. Saw right through that.

10:58- Quentin Tarantino and Tony Bennett are on to present Record of the Year. Who came up with these pairings?? Tarantino is such a fucking weirdo. Only he could come up with Pulp Fiction. I'll say Mary J. Blige is going to win this, although Dixie Chicks could be the political favorites.

11:00- Dixie Chicks Dominate Grammys- Shut Up Middle America

11:06- The commercial breaks are geting longer

11:08- Chris Rock is on to introduce the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Gotta love the Chili Peppers- they really have been the most consistently good band over the past 10 -15 years. And they're always so good when you see them live.

11:13- Al Gore and Queen Latifah come on to present the awrd for Best Rock Album. By far the best pairing of the night. Al Gore, go away, please. I hope John Mayer doesn't win.

11:15- Red Hot Chili Peppers take home the award. Nice short speech, and a nice cut to John Mayer in the crowd. I wish he would have been crying.

11:17- Chevy commercial. Again. Also, all of T.I.'s songs are starting to sound the same.

11:22- Another Chevy commercial. That's two this break.

11:23- Don Henley and Scarlett Johansson on to present the award for Album of the Year. God, Scarlett is so hot. Will Dixie Chicks win it again? Again as long as John Mayer doesn't, I'll be happy

11:25- Wow. I really don't think anyone saw this coming. You know, you have to be happy for them. For the past three years, the Dixie Chicks have been bad mouthed, had their record boycotted and even received death threats. All because they expressed their freedom of speech and spoke out against one of the worst presidents in our country's history. As one of the women said, I think this is a sign of people using their freedom of speech to show support for the group. And as someone who is and has been in agreement with everything that was said, I can say that I was happy to see the Dixie Chicks finally see success tonight.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Slight Detour from the Normal Posts

So, as the title states, this post will be a little change of pace from my normal, mindless ranting about the goings on in the world. Instead, I'm going to use this post to talk about something personal that has been happening over the past few days. Boring, I know- who wants to hear about my life? But give it a chance, maybe it will make you take a second to think about things as well.

So on Monday night, I got the unfortunate news that my dad had three blocked arteries in his heart. The blockages weren't bad enough for bypass surgery, which I guess if there's a silver lining on the cloud, that would be it. However, he was going to have to undergo a procedure where doctors inserted what they call "stents" into the blocked arteries. These stents are then expanded, pushing the blockages against the wall of the arteries, thereby freeing them up for blood to pass through as it normally should. These stents are also coated with drugs to prevent the blockages from reforming, provided the patient takes their medication and sticks to a proper diet.

Now, this might not seem like a big deal to some people, but for me (and my family) it was. My dad has always been the rock of our family, and the strongest person I know. He served twice in Vietnam, seeing things that I couldn't possibly even begin to fathom, and has worked in the same job for the past 30+ years, countless hours to make sure that my mom, my sister and I always had everything we needed, went to the best schools we could, etc. , etc. My dad's also an intimidating guy, so I'd never want to be on his bad side- even though I have been a few times. Luckily, neither of my parents have ever been seriosuly sick, so up until now, I've pretty much seen my dad as immortal, so hearing this news was a little bit of a shocker for me.

It also made me take stock of my life a little as well. We all go through life, living every day as if it will never end. We never really think, or at least I don't think that much, about how what we do everyday or what we put into our bodies affects our overall health. My dad is a huge smoker, has been for over 40 years, so I thought if anything would get him it would be lung cancer. But he's always eaten whatever he wanted, worked tirelessly for how many years and always outwardly appeared healthy as an ox. And since I've got his genes, why shouldn't I be the same way?

When I go to the gym, or choose the salad over the hamburger, I find myself questioning a lot of the time, "why am I even doing this? what does it really matter?" I guess what I realize now more than ever is that it does matter, everything that I'm doing does have an effect on my overall health. It might not mean that I'll never get sick, but anything I can do to keep me out of a hospital, especially after waiting there today for close to 8 hours, is a good thing in my book.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The World is Just a Little Bit Darker Today...

Folks, it's a sad, sad day. The horse that captured America's hearts and fought for months has lost its battle. Yes, Barbaro has been put down as a result of the injury the thoroughbred suffered during last May's Preakness Stakes. Let's all take a collective moment of silence to reflect on what this means for us.

Nothing. It means absolutely nothing, other than the fact that we can now stop hearing about this horse and the countless hours and dollars that were put in to saving its life, despite the fact that any other horse would have had a shotgun stuck down its throat within minutes of leaving the track after being injured. Why has this been such an overpublicized story over the past 7, 8 months?? It's a horse who was unfortunatley injured. Do we need the huge "Get Well Soon Barbaro" cards and the bouquets of flowers? It's a horse!

There is one culprit in the sensationalizing of the trials and tribulations of Barbaro: ESPN. Hardly a day went by when we wouldn;t hear the name Barbaro at least once on the 24 hour sports network. But why? Why did they have to talk about a horse who suffered a career ending injury, likely life ending, so much??

And because ESPN covered the story so much, other news outlets who know nothing about sports see this, and think "Well, if ESPN is talking about it so much, it must be important," so they talk about it too. This leads to everyone in this country talking about this goddamn horse who shouldn't have even been alive anyway. It's just over the top, way too much.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union: Shitty

So the State of the Union address is tonight, and let me tell you I couldn't be more excited for it. And when I say excited, I mean I care about as much as I would if Montana were to leave the United State- not one bit. Does this mean American Idol is going to be preempted? That pisses me off. I should write a letter.

In all seriousness though, I would wager that this will be one of the most watched State of the Union addresses in recent history. Not because people are rallying around our president, who I'll refer to from this point on as "moron," "idiot," "that dumbass" or some type of expletive (just so you know who I'm referring to for the rest of this post), but because people want to see what crazy shit comes out of his mouth next and then argue about it endlessly. Hooray!! More fodder for CNN, FoxNews and MSNBC pundits to entertain us with!! Can someone grab me a gun, please?

It's gotten to the point where if that dumbass were to say something along the lines of, "I'm sending the rest of our troops into Iran tomorrow," we really wouldn't be surprised. But in actuality, what would we do about it? We would argue over and over, just as we have with the "new" plan for redeployment in Iraq, and nothing would come of it. Why? Because this fuckhead is still the president! His approval rating, according to a CBS poll is at 28%, an all-time low; 65% of those surveyed in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll said they disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president, while only 33% approve. 71% of Americans said the country is on the wrong track, up from 46% in an April 2003 poll, the month after the invasion of Iraq. So if we have all these numbers in our hands, why haven't we done anything to rectify the situation? Bush's approval ratings are now the lowest for any president the day before a State of the Union speech since Richard Nixon in 1974. Nixon was a criminal!!!!!!!! (I guess Bush may be as well, depending on who you ask)

According to reports, Bush plans to address important plans for health care, education and other issues, while steering clear of the Iraq question. Now, these are important issues to address, and issues that we as a country desperately need to address. However, we're stuck in a quagmire that is not only affecting the American public's perception of their leader, but also the world's view of our country. Before we deal with anything else, we need to correct the mistakes we made in the Middle East, to instill confidence that the new plans our leader is constructing will actually work.

The Democrats swept to power in the House and Senate with lofty promises of helping to clean up this mess and improve the public's perception of the executive office. So far, they have failed. It's time to do the only thing left to do in order to stop the idiot at the top: introduce a motion calling for the impeachment of the president. We need to do something, and soon. Bush is drunk with power already, ignoring his closest advisors and sending American on a path for destruction not only abroad, but at home as well. We can't afford to wait any longer- the charade that all we need to do is continue to charge ahead with redrawn plans is ridiculous. Last week saw one of the deadliest days for American troops since the start of the war. Things are not improving and until our president accepts that, or until we do something to change who is leading us, things will only continue to get worse. Most of us look at the lives we are sacrificing and say "why? we shouldn't even be involved in this conflict." The view of death on the other side is far different. Insurgents who are killed are looked at as martyrs and praised for their sacrifice. This is not to say we do not appreciate our troops who are in battle. I think it's safe to say that every American fully supports our troops and is indebted to them for their courage. However, while we support our troops, I don't think we are willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of them for this cause, this fight to "preserve democracy." The other side, they are willing to do just that, to sacrifice as many as it takes, for as long as it takes. And it is that idealogical difference that our president either fails to see or just ignores, while continuing to pour billions of dollars of resources and manpower into this fight, and continuing to antagonize other unstable countries as well.

In all likelihood, even if impeachment is called for, it probably would not pass. But perhaps it would cause our president to reflect on the situation he has put this country in and start heeding the cries of even his own party members, those who are worried that his incessant obsession with winning this war will severly damaage his party's chances in the next election.

Even now, he has a chance to change things, even though we are in so deep. If he were to just get up in front of the country tonight and admit he was wrong, admit that his plan hasn't worked and vow to change his stance and start bringing our troops home immediately, I would even begin to have more respect for him. There's no shame in admitting you were wrong. 2/3 of the country would agree.

And if you're going to watch the State of the Union and can't bear to be sober for it, here's a link for a great drinking game you can play while watching it. Some pretty funny stuff: http://www.drinkinggame.us/

Monday, January 22, 2007

Feeling Sad Today?

It appears today is the most unhappy day of the year. How do I know this? Well, I was told it, so now I have to act unhappy in order to fit in with society. Nevermind that I could have won the lottery last night, making today fairly happy, or that someone close to me could have died last week, making that the unquestioned unhappiest day of the year, a scientist has said that today is the unhappiest day, so TODAY it is!

Dr. Cliff Arnall, a psychologist at Cardiff University with apparently no other scientific curiosity other than to figure out when people are most depressed, devised a formula combining six factors - weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action - into an equation which calculates today as the most depressing day of the year. "Blue Monday," he's called it- simply genius.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but according to my calculations...now I'm not a scientist, so I might be a little off here...WE STILL HAVE NO CURES FOR CANCER, AIDS, BIRD FLU OR COUNTLESS OTHER DISEASES THAT HAVE KILLED HOW MANY PEOPLE?? I realize this man is just a psychologist, but can he not put any effort into something that might be a little worthwhile? Something that we could use for the common good of mankind?

Well, Dr. Arnall probably thought someone would ask this question, so he formulated an answer to somehow justify this "equation," which has probably consumed the last 15 years of his professional life. Regarding January 22, Arnall says: "Use the day as a springboard for a higher quality life. For example keeping Christmas spending to a strict budget next year will make you less depressed in the last week of January. Also, decide on changing behaviour, such as giving up smoking, eating better, exercising more and getting that new job." Wow, truly inspiring advice. Thank God someone came up with this equation, because I would never have thought of bettering my life otherwise.

People, I mean really, can we use some common sense from now on? Do we need people like Dr. Arnall telling us to do things that should be commonplace in our lives? And while we're at it, can we pump more of our dollars into scientific research that we might actually benefit from? Who was the genius who decided to fund Arnall's research, thinking "you know what, this is great. Screw throwing our money into cancer research or AIDS research- this is where it's at!" That person should be removed from whatever position of pwer they have for being completely moronic.

This also reminds me of one of those silly studies that research firms do, with headlines such as "STUDY REVEALS THAT MARIJUANA USE CAN AFFECT CHILDREN'S GRADES" or "STUDY FINDS THAT EATING TOO MUCH WILL CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN." Really? You think? Two words: common sense. If more people used it, this world would be a much more peaceful and enjoyable place to live.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rosie: Just Shut Up

First it was Donald Trump, now Rosie O'Donnell feels the need to flaunt her opinions on hit television show American Idol. Let me preface this by saying I am completely on the Donald's side when he refers to Rosie as a "terrible, disgusting human being." Not only cannot I not stand the sight of her, even reading about her makes me feel sick. Additionally, I must admit, I am a fan of American Idol as well. So this commentary might be a little biased. Just a little.

Rosie again used her television show, The View, as a platform for discussing her opinions and trying to convince others that she is right. In reference to the previous episode of American Idol, which showcased auditions from the city of Seattle, Rosie took the moral high ground in a six minute bashing of the number 1 show in America. "It's terribly sad to me," O'Donnell said . "I don't think America likes to watch people be ridiculed, made fun of, and called ugly monkeys, or that they're too fat or they're a degenerate... it's an absurd concept that this is what's tolerable now as consumption in America for mass media."

No, Rosie, you know what's an absurd concept? That YOU are tolerable as comsumption for mass media. Not only are you fat, you are hideously ugly and have a huge mouth, which most of the time is spewing crap that is wrong, yet you represent it as being reality. You want to have a talk show, fine, no one can stop you from doing that. But as a talk show host, you at least have the responsibility of properly informing the American public, not giving your blowhard opinion and pretending like you speak the truth.

Let's look at the facts. The American Idol premiere on Tuesday night drew 37.3 million viewers and a 15.7 rating/36 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. 37.3 million! I don't even think The View has that many viewers in a year! It was rated highest at 18.0 rating/40 share, which meant that 40% of of the U.S. homes using television were tuned to "Idol" at that point. Ridiculous. This represented a 5% ratings increase in viewers and 3% increase in adults 18-49 compared with last year's premiere. Even more impressive, it was the second-biggest telecast for American Idol since it debuted in summer 2002. You got it right Rosie, I don't think this is what the American public likes to watch.

Are you kidding me? This is the sole reason WHY we watch! I actually watched the Seattle episode that Rosie is referring to (which I'd be willing to bet that Rosie did not- yet she still comments on it...hmmm). I can't tell you how many times during that episode I uttered the words "I can't believe I live in the same country as these people." Maybe it's harsh, but it's true. We love to watch these idiots, who think they have talent (I really can't even believe some of these people think they can sing...are they deaf? Do they have friends who sit them down and are like "Listen...I know you want to sing and be famous and all...and I'm sorry to be the one to break the news to you...but honestly you're really terrible...it's just not going to happen." I mean, where do these people come from?) get up in front of judges with the honest, 100% belief that they will win this show, just to get absolutely crushed when we all see how terrible they are. How can you not laugh??

Like I said, I watched the Seattle episode, and the one part that really caused Rosie's wrath was the audition of Kenneth Briggs, who sang N Sync's "Tearing Up My Heart." Now, not only was the audition awful, but Simon commented on Briggs' appearance, saying "you look like one of those creatures that live in the jungle with those massive eyes. What are they called? Bush babies?" Now again, maybe this was a little harsh, but honestly, this guy did look like a monkey. He was short, really thin and had the biggest bug eyes ever, and he was singing "Tearing Up My Heart" horribly and attempting showcase some dance moves as well. Truly priceless. However, Rosie's opinion, despite the fact that she probably didn't watch the show, was "That's compassion for you. Isn't that what America thinks is entertainment -- to make fun of someone's physical appearance and then when they leave the room, laugh hysterically at them?" Yes, Rosie, it is. And a lot of people laugh and make fun of your physical appearance as well.

At the gym last night, I happened to see that Forbes Magazine (great name) had released their list of the top 20 richest women in entertainment. Topping the list was Oprah, of course, worth a whopping $1.5 billion dollars, which is just a ridiculous amount of money. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of Oprah, but I don't hate her, because I can see why people like her. She seems like she could be a nice person, she gives away cars and other gifts to her audience members, she does other charitable things with her wealth- she genuinely seems to care about doing right by other people. On the other hand, we have Rosie. What does she do besides rail against other people and act like a genuine ass most of the time? She's boisterous, ugly and a pain in the ass. What is it about her that people like? I can't seem to figure it out. I wish she would just never talk again.