Friday, April 30, 2010

Stephen Colbert, you magnificent bastard!


While The Daily Show remains brilliant, I've written about it kind of recently. Therefore, I instead offer a tip of my cap to Stephen Colbert, who has also been on a roll recently.

I've been watching regularly for the past two weeks, and I definitely think Colbert has recovered from a small swoon following the Winter Olympics. I found a lot of his Olympic coverage, outside of the curling, kind of boring, but hey, most everyone else liked it. I think Colbert is much sharper though when he is playing his character for "sharp" and ignorant criticism, as opposed to genuinely backing a cause.

Case in point - His withering critique this week of the bartering system proposed by some wacky GOP candidate in Nevada. If you didn't manage to catch the episode, the segment is on Comedy Central's website, and also on this website. It is worth checking out, immediately!

Grade: A+

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wherein I link to neat things

I don't really have time to write about the awesome Modern Family episode I saw last night yet, so instead, please settle for a couple links to some neat things I saw other people link to on the Internetz. (I'm so original like that.)

- This is a super awesome version of Super Mario Brothers. You can play the standard game as Mario... Or as Samus Aran from Metroid, complete with bombs and a blaster! Other options include the Contra guy, Mega Man, Link and Simon Belmont. (Another silly-fun video linked on that page: Life in 8-bit.)

- One high school or AAU team hits a three with a second left, to take a lead, and they think they've won the game. Uh, whoops!

- And finally, I have no clue why, but it is incredibly compelling to watch this girl play Shadowgate with her boyfriend. Beating Shadowgate was one of my biggest accomplishments as a kid, since I did it mostly via trial and error, and some scant hints in Nintendo Power magazine. I also played The Uninvited, which wasn't quite as good Deja Vu, a send-up of Raymond Chandler and other detective types. (Also neat: 25 things you might not have known about the NES.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last night's Glee in pictures

Sue Sylvester: Now if you'll excuse me, I have to put in a call to the Ohio Secretary of State notifying them I will no longer be carrying on ID, you know why? People should know who I am.

Unfortunately, because I get held up at work, I didn't really get a chance to do a proper entry for tonight. Instead, please take this one, which relies on pictures and text to illustrate some of my favorite Glee quotes from this week's episode.


Brittney on Coach Sylvester's energy drink: Sometimes I add sand.


Brittney: I think my cat is reading my diary.


Mike O'Malley has been in about 500 shitty comedies, and prior to Glee, his only other good role was as the host of Nickelodeon Guts. Now he's having moving, emotional exchanges with Finn and Kurt. Who knew he had it in him?


Sue Sylvester: How do you two not have a show on Bravo?


The only thing that fell kind of flat for me was the pseudo-relationship between Will and the trashy drop-out girl. Even for a show like Glee that relies a lot on cliches and conventions, it just seemed a bit too much. Still, that didn't cut much into the final grade...

Grade: A+

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rocky roads for Miz, Morrison and Smackdown


On Friday's Smackdown, John Morrison got a clean win against Jack Swagger right before Swagger successfully defended his title at the Extreme Rules PPV. Since then, he lost in a tag team match against the Miz and the Big Show on Sunday, got beat clean by Swagger in a rematch on Raw, and then got drafted to Raw, which also picked up two former world champions - Chris Jericho and Edge - ensuring that it'll be easy for him to get lost in the shuffle.

So, yeah, I think the WWE's booking is still suspect for its main show. While the show opened up with a great tag team match, ShowMiz sure did dissolve quickly after they lost, with Show knocking the Miz out. I kind of wish they teased the break-up more, and with Show getting drafted to Smackdown, there is little chance that they'll feud now. I don't really know where this leaves the Miz either - While I'd like to see him drop the U.S. Belt and get involved in the world title picture, I doubt that the WWE will have Cena drop the belt to him.

Speaking of the title chase, despite Internet rumors, Batista is still seemingly employed by the WWE. There was talk that Extreme Rules would be his final show with the company, but in a minor upset, he came out on top in a triple threat match with Sheamus and Randy Orton for the No. 1 contender spot. I'm really, really hoping that there is a swerve coming before the next PPV, because Cena and Batista have fought about 500 times in the past two years, it seems.

Regarding the actual draft itself, the yearly hosing of Smackdown in terms of name performers continued. They lost Jericho, Edge, Morrison and R-Truth to Raw, and only got back Big Show, Kofi Kingston, Christian and Kelly Kelly. Smackdown at least got some good talent back in return, but Christian and Kingston aren't nearly as established with fans as Jericho and Edge; they're closer to the mid-card in the WWE hierarchy than serious title contenders.

R-Truth already provided the best moment of Monday's show in a backstage confrontation with Ted Jr. He noted that the current champion was looking for a "new Virgil", like his daddy had, and slapped Ted across the face.

And hey, brace yourself fool! Who's hosting next week? It's Wayne Brady bitch! Hopefully he won't have to choke a bitch.

Grade: C-

Extreme Rules plays it by the book, but still entertaining


Catching up on recent WWE programming, starting with last night's Extreme Rules pay-per-view, before moving on to the three-hour Raw draft in a second post at 7 p.m tonight...

I thought the start of the PPV was great, with Sheamus beating the crap out of Triple H with a metal pipe. It was savage and brutal, which is a good idea for a PPV built upon the idea of all "extreme" matches. Of course, it wasn't surprising that Triple H was able to compete later in the show, but I was surprised they let Sheamus go over. I read after the show that Triple H has some neck damage and needs time off, so that was an effective way to get him off television for a while.

After the opening beatdown came the Miz and the Big Show, taunting the other wrestlers in the back. Teddy Long came out to argue with him, and once again, the Miz looked like a million bucks and a future champion. As a result of the Miz claiming he and Show were the greatest tag team of all-time, Long setup a three-tiered gauntlet for them.

The first team of R-Truth and John Morrison lasted the longest, although it was disappointing to see them lose after about seven minutes; both are guys who should be pushed at this point. MVP and Mark Henry were next, and not surprisingly, they lasted about two minutes. ShowMiz has beat them about 40 times the past couple months. And finally, the New Hart Foundation came out, with Bret Hart, and pinned the Miz after about 30 seconds. This earned them a title shot on Raw.

Outside of the tag matches, which were pretty solid, there were two highlights. First, CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio was a great technical match. It was a quick pace and had a slew of near falls, before Punk finally got the upper hand with the help of an unknown assailant from under the ring. And the other strong match, not surprisingly, featured Edge beating Jericho in a steel cage match that felt like the blow-off to their feud. While I liked their Wrestlemania match a bit more, this was still a good match.

The rest of the card was kind of meh to me. Jack Swagger vs. Randy Orton featured some utterly sick usage of some trash cans - I have no idea how Swagger softened that blow, if at all. However, the finish had him going over clean, and although Orton hit an RKO after the match, I don't think the match really helped either wrestler that much.

Finally, the last man standing match between Batista and Cena was just OK. It wasn't actively putrid or anything, like a Great Khali match, but they have fought so many times now that anything they do seems like a rehash. The ending was sort of innovative, as Cena used duct tape to fasten Batista's legs around the ring post, preventing him from getting up. However, this wasn't entirely convincing to me, as it seemed like he could have gotten up.

Overall though, I thought this was a solid showing for the WWE. While there was no "oh my god!" moment on the show, none of the matches were complete wrestlecrap either. Even the "piss break" matches, like the women's championship and the strap match, were kept short and relatively brisk.

Grade: B+

All pictures from the photo galleries at WWE.com.

Monday, April 26, 2010

TV Review: Holy crap, it's Larry Miller! On Aqua Teen Hunger Force!


I'm a big fan of Adam Carolla, and for a while, one of the most frequent guests on his podcast and morning radio show was Larry Miller. The first time he guested, he was pimping a book, Spoiled Rotten America, that I subsequently requested a copy of and reviewed for my college newspaper. (Sadly, I can't find the review on their website to share with all of you; I'm sure it was glorious.)

However, whenever I try to explain who Larry Miller is to people, I have to go through his various movie roles. You know, he was the dad in Ten Things I Hate About You, and he looks kind of like Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell, but he isn't him. Normally, after a few comparisons, something stokes the memory of the person I'm talking to, or they just tell me they know who I'm talking about so I'll shut the eff up about it.

Imagine my surprise to see Miller pop up on this week's episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force then, spoofing his own status as a "that guy in that movie" Hall of Fame member in the show's opening minutes. Carl has no clue who he is, and quite comically, Miller is trying to sell him his patented hair growth system. (Miller and Carl are both bald, very bald.)

Anyway, Miller darts out to Atlantic City eventually because of his crippling addiction to gambling. And in his van, there is a sort of glimpse of an alternate universe available, as Carl debates it out with a clean-cut, clean-living version of himself. Oh, and also, the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past of Christmas Future makes an appearance at the end, and he remains my favorite non-Aqua Teen character on the show, slightly edging out the Mooninites. Strangely, the Aqua Teens are barely in this episode, but it's still quite entertaining anyway, similar to the Bart Oates episode in a past season.

Grade: A+

Sunday, April 25, 2010

TV Review: SNL merely average with sub-par host


Hey, Saturday Night Live still has new episodes this year! For some reason, I find this surprising. Because of their rigorous writing and rehearsal schedules, it always feels like they start later and finish sooner than every other show out there.

In an iffy season like this one, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The best part of last night's show was the embed clip above, which was actually by one of the show's writers, not even a cast member. I definitely agree with his take on Girl Scout cookies; I could eat boxes of those god damn Thin Mints at any point of the year. (As a bonus, Seth Meyers and I apparently think alike - I wrote my blog earlier today about the Lane Bryant models before his thing on the Charmin bears with toilet paper stuck to their ass.)

Beyond Weekend Update, the only other skit I really enjoyed was the recurring one with Tina Funnylastname, the doorbell tone saleswoman. This time though, she was working on alarm clocks. Much like "What up with that?" and Astronaut Jones, the sketch is just so silly and weird that I can't help but laughing every time I see it. While Jenny Slate will probably still be remembered mostly for dropping an F-bomb on her debut show, I like this character of hers.

Beyond that though, the show was very meh. Gabourey Sidibe sucked as the host, which didn't really surprise me. Her, uh, unique look kind of limits what sort of skits and roles she can be in, so I was subjected to her as an angry black lady in an apartment complex and as a disgruntled federal worker. Also, she apparently studied for her hosting stint by reviewing nothing but Jimmy Fallon tapes, since she flubbed lines and cracked up laughing at several points.

If you didn't catch this episode, then I recommend you just watch Weekend Update and the alarm clock skit - it's about 10 minutes after Update - instead of subjecting yourself to the entire thing.

Grade: C-

At The Commercials: Busty Lane Bryant model booted off TV

Apparently, some plus-sized models can't go no love. According to articles around the web, a couple networks are refusing to air or significantly editing commercials for Lane Bryant before airing them. This to me seems stupid for several reasons.

First, the model in question is pretty easy on the eyes. Yes, size 16 isn't always connotated with beauty, but it sure looks fine when the person in question is about six-feet-tall and with a D-cup. If that's the case, then hey, things are cool.

Second, did the networks not realize this would cause a bit of a backlash? And, this is just a hunch, but I imagine that quite a few plus-sized women are regular viewers of Dancing With The Stars and American Idol, and thus, might take offense with the networks stance.

Finally, the networks have no standards when it comes to commercials when it comes to just flat out grossness, which is far more revolting to me. For example, why am I subjected to this commercial about Planters cashews? How come the Sienna parents still exist? Why are pigs eating ham in restaurants?

The picture of Ashley is from this unrelated MSNBC article.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

TV Review: Hey, The Office didn't suck this week!


Is it sad that I'm now surprised when The Office doesn't disappoint me? While it was still far behind Community this week in terms of quality, at least in this humble reviewer's opinion, the main plot angle exploring Erin and Andy's relationship was pretty humorous.

I think all of us know a girl like Erin - She's pretty and cute, and you wonder, "Hey, why doesn't she have a boyfriend?" Then you start to peel the onion like Michael Scott did, and you realize that she is completely, utterly effing nuts.

The highlight of the episode occurred in the restaurant, as Michael was quizzed my Erin about a bunch of random crap. In typical Michael Scott fashion though, he let it slip that Andy was once engaged to Angela, which makes Erin have a freaky panic attack, burying her face in her hair. "In the foster home my hair was my room."

The minor plot of the episode involved harassment around the workplace. Specifically, Kevin talks like Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. Or, as Dwight would say, "Is that the program where all the puppets live in a barrio?" However, the plot got less interesting as Toby's replacement in human resources tried to suspend Pam and Jim.

There were actually a ton of great lines in this episode. "If it wasn't for secretaries I wouldn't have a stepmom." "I knew it existed and I chose to let it die." "She's kind of a rube." "They're making fun of Cookie Monster, but in a strange way, it's like they're making fun of me." "How many pillows do you sleep on at night?" "I don't think he's the best dresser - he reminds me of Easter." "Of course, I'll get you a bowl of pickles."

With the Erin drama and all of the great lines though, this was probably my favorite episode of The Office this season. They need more shows like this, focusing on some of the secondary characters, as opposed to always making it about Michael Scott and the drama of the Saber / Dundler-Mifflin corporate hierarchy.

Grade: A-

TV Review: Weak and strong booking decisions bookend Smackdown

Punk is so great as a cult figure, even if
Gallows' longing is a bit... creepy.


While I praised the hectic nature of Smackdown with my entry last week, I should note that there is a fine line between being surprised and devaluing your product with cluster-eff booking. One reason why I've traditionally preferred the WWE over the WCW and, in present day, the TNA, is that their booking makes a bit more sense. Yeah, it can be boring and predictable at times, but the in-ring action normally makes up for it, and you don't have to worry about constant stipulation matches and screw job finishes in every other match.

Case in point: It sure would be nice if the WWE let its newest champion, Jack Swagger, actually win some matches. Fine, the Undertaker beat him on Monday Night Raw this week; that's a perfectly understandable win against one of the biggest stars of the past 20 years. He managed to pin Edge the other week, but it was only after Jericho hit a Codebreaker against him.

However, while I really enjoy the ring work of John Morrison and think he will be a future champion, it seems silly to let him pin Swagger two nights before a pay per view. It isn't one of the big four, but it still damages Swagger's credibility before the match. If he beats Randy Orton, then it devalues Orton, since Swagger has lost most of his recent matches. If he loses against Orton, it's going to be hard for him to re-establish himself as a threat in the championship chase.

I think the only way the WWE can salvage something from this is if they use it to launch a program between Morrison and Swagger. With Shawn Michaels being forced to retire, Morrison is the closest thing to a "new" HBK, so it might make sense to push him up the card a bit quick. Let me put on my Imaginary Booker hat for a second - I would have Swagger retain against Orton, and Morrison would challenge him to a match on the next Smackdown. Have Swagger cheap shot him and leave, but the match is made anyway by GM Teddy Long. And sometime between that show and the title shot, have Morrison beat the Undertaker in a long match, as a sort of "pass the torch" moment.

Do I think this will actually happen? No. But, it should!

Anyway, outside of the Swagger booking, the worst part of Friday's show was the inexplicable pairing of Kane and Rey Mysterio vs. the Straight Edge Society, consisting of CM Punk and Luke Gallows. Punk was at his cult leader best for the majority of the show, which is why I used his image to lead off this entry.

However, there was absolutely no mention on the show why Kane felt capable of teaming with Mysterio. I mean, it was only about 18 months ago that Kane, in storyline, tried to kill Mysterio. But hey, maybe he bought Rey a Fresco or something while they hung out backstage, and patched things up all nice-nice.

There were some good moments on the show though, some of them surprisingly so. It's not surprising that Jericho and Edge had another great verbal exchange, but who knew that Layla could slowly get over as the tag team partner of Michelle McCool in their blatant rip-off of TNA's Beautiful People? While neither McCool or Layla is as attractive as any of the Beautiful People, they play the characters a bit better to me, and the presence of Vickie Guerrero as their valet of sorts makes them more solidly heel-ish.

With some better booking, this could have been a much stronger episode. However, as is, this week's Smackdown was still light years ahead of a thrown together Raw with MacGruber guest hosting.

Grade: B-

The picture of Kane holding Rey's mask is from this site.

Friday, April 23, 2010

TV Review: Annie's Boobs and Goodfellas make Community great


Community came back from its unnecessary couple-of-week break strong, as the gang at the community college did their best to setup a literal gang, as in a mob syndicate. The scheme? Controlling the chicken finger production at the school, the only decent thing at the cafeteria.

The linchpin for the plan was Abed, who of course immediately started acting like a movie mob boss with his new found power. While the primary spoofing of the episode was of Goodfellas, there was also some Casino and Godfather thrown in there for good measure. Starburns also got a slightly increased role in the episode, which was kind of neat.

However, the purest "laugh out loud" moment of the episode featured a stupid gag by Troy. At the height of the gang's good times, the Spanish study group all arrange lavish perks for themselves - Pierce gets cronies, Annie gets a new backpack (which is why she's doing the robot dance above), Brita gets a hair stylist, etc.

Troy somehow gets a monkey, which he names... Annie's Boobs. Well, to be precise, HE didn't name the monkey that - The monkey has his own Twitter. (p.s. It actually does!!! Right here!) This joke is so simple that it makes for cheap laughs throughout the episode. "I've got to give a banana to Annie's Boobs."

Anyway, this was probably my favorite episode of Community so far from start to finish. If you haven't seen the show yet, it is a good episode to jump in on, since you don't need a ton of past knowledge of the characters to get most of the jokes.

Grade: A+

Thursday, April 22, 2010

TV Review: Everyone returns for incredible South Park


Last night's South Park? Simply incredible. It was the second part of a continuing story about all the people the boys on South Park had double-crossed and tricked getting revenge on the boys. The chief factions were the Celebrities, led by Tom Cruise and the Pope and others, and the Gingers, who Cartman had offended in the past.

The episode was South Park at its most self-referential best. For example, the middle of the episode features Kyle and Stan arguing with Cartman about what's more important - whether Muhammad can be shown in South Park (wink wink) or the true identity of Cartman's father.

Anyway, I won't spoil the big reveal at the end, but it's definitely worth the wait. The second part is the best episode of the season so far.

Grade: A+

Praise God! Marvel vs. Capcom 3 announced!


With a hat-tip to Blast Magazine for breaking the news to me, I'm incredibly glad to hear that Capcom is finally making a sequel to their Dreamcast and Arcade (at least originally) hit, Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Although the character list hasn't been released yet, the trailer and poster graphic show The Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man, Ryu from the Street Fighter series, Morgana from Darkstalkers and Strider (I think).

Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was the tipping point in terms of my buying a Dreamcast for about $50 toward the ends of its lifespan. While the low entry cost of the system was a selling point, this was contrasted by the average sale price of the game, which went for $50 to $75 on eBay.

I shelled out the cash for both anyway, and heck, it was totally worth it. Few gaming experiences matched the fighting action of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and the slew of unlockable characters and other trinkets kept me coming back. For the record, my favorite squad consisted of Cable, Ryu and Cyclops, although I sometimes switched Cyclops out for someone like Dr. Doom or Spiderman or Wolverine, depending on my mood. I'm not sure if the third installment will be worth another system upgrade, since I don't yet have a 360 or a PS3, but with its presence and Final Fantasy XIII taunting me, I might have to crack and buy one of them sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TV Review: Mostly "meh" episode of LOST


LOST was a bit disappointing last night, as half of the episode was a solid snorefest. In a flip-flop from most of the early season episodes, the parts featuring the Island itself are now pretty stale, while the real drama going on involves Bizarro LAX / the tangent universe / the side-flashes, whatever you'd like to call them.

Going from the good to the bad, pretty much everything that happened in Bizarro LAX this week, I found pretty interesting. As I thought, Desmond smashing Locke with his car resulted in Jack being the specialist that would see him, although we didn't find this out until the end of the episode. For the rest of the episode, Desmond worked on getting Claire to see his lawyer - Ilana, it turns out - who magically was the same one handling the Shepard will reading, so there was a brief reunion until Jack got called into surgery.

Outside of this, in Bizarro LAX we also had the plot thicken a bit with Sawyer, Kate, Miles, Sayid and Sun. Sawyer and Kate's flirting is still just as annoying, but it was cool to see him catch Sayid the Killing Machine when everyone else had failed throughout various seasons of LOST. Miles continued to be solid in a small role, and Sun and Jin were cute, and thankfully, their baby is still OK. All in all, I was happy with the brisk pacing in Bizarro LAX, even if the results of Hurley knowing about his past on the Island still haven't been revealed.

In contrast, the Island portions had lots of crap going on that I found uninteresting. FLocke was doing his usual lying and tricking and misleading, such as denying that he had Desmond, then sending Sayid to kill Desmond. Of course, I don't think this actually happened, which is sweet, because Desmond is the best thing going on the show right now. Widmore got seriously pissed off that FLocke wouldn't turn him back over though, and bombed the shit out of FLocke's camp, which I kind of liked.

A couple of FLocke's group - Jack, Sawyer, Sun, Claire, Hurley and Kate - managed to make a break for it on the boat. However, Jack willingly left the boat, since he had a nagging feeling that they weren't meant to escape. My friend Nikki and I agree - I don't think LOST ends without them killing FLocke, as opposed to just running away from him. Once the rest of the group got to Widmore's camp, they were held hostage by his second-in-command, presumably because Desmond either 1) wasn't with them or 2) turned over by FLocke.

Anywho. While this wasn't the most scintillating episode of LOST, I am very interested in seeing how it all ends up, especially in Bizarro LAX.

Island portion grade: D
Bizarro LAX grade: A
Combined grade: B-

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TV Review: Gay ghost fab-u-luss on otherwise iffy Aqua Teen


This week's Aqua Teen Hunger Force was quite disappointing, except for the presence of a fun monster of the week - A gay ghost that explodes when he is exposed to cell phone dial tones. mwhahaha.

Outside of that though, this whole episode feels recycled. (I suppose you could argue that the gay ghost idea was already kind of used in the Dirtfoot episode, but he was a MONSTER, not a ghost, duh.) Frylock and Master Shake are fighting over a cell phone game for most of the episode, which causes Meatwad to do silly things to himself and with the ghost's help to try and get their attention. None of these really work, until Meatwad and the ghost blow up the house, and the phone in the process.

Once the phone is out of the picture, which takes about half the episode, we can get into the wacky fun that Aqua Teen is more known for. You know, like the fact that the ghost is the result of radiation at Smiley Junction, New Jersey, a former utopia a la Epcot. And that Carl's sister, who he hasn't talked to in two years, once gave a handy to Meatloaf. And that the ghost explodes when he is exposed to cell phones.

But like I said, outside of the ghost, this episode isn't anything special. It's definitely skipable if you didn't manage to catch it Sunday.

Grade: C+

Monday, April 19, 2010

TV Review: SNL back up to adequate


While the early 2000s and late 1990s still seem like centuries ago, and even the mini-Renaissance of the past couple years has faded with the stink bomb of the early episodes, Saturday Night Live does seem to be climbing out of its funk. This week's show had some strong sketches, even though the host, Ryan Phillippe, was nothing special.

The show started out strong with the cold open, which was an always enjoyable Larry King spot. Yeah, he's still no Norm MacDonald, but King is always so ripe for parody, as were his guests, Bjork and Richard Branson (pictured above). SNL has been a lot better this season when it has strayed away from politics and stuck to mocking pop culture and celebrities. The monologue was also decent, since it starred one of my favorite characters at the end, DeAndre Cole. "Wooooo, wheeee! What's up with that?"

From there, the show replayed a commercial spoof, although it was one of the better ones, mocking the home security commercials that feature random white dudes breaking into houses. I loved the next skit though, featuring the doofy mock ESPN sportscasters shilling for female condoms during a female weightlifting competition. (I am just barely old enough to remember the days when ESPN really did show lots of crap like that. Now, the female weightlifting, bowling and strong man events are mostly confined to ESPN2 on the weekends.)

The rest of the episode was merely average to me, although an average episode of SNL is above their standard for this season. Also, this makes me potentially gay, but I actually like Ke$ha. Her music is catchy, and I'm not ashamed to say that I find her easy on the eyes as well. I have no idea what she was thinking with the American flag cape, but hey, it works for me.

Grade: B

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The conflicted messages of Kick-Ass


In case you haven't heard, there is sort of a divide about whether Kick-Ass is fun or exploitative, since it has incredibly graphic, downright disturbing scenes featuring an 11-year-old girl killing and maiming scores of bad guys. IMDB users have given the movie an 8.5 rating as of Sunday night, while it shockingly got one star from Ebert, who is usually a good barometer for what I'll personally enjoy.

My own feelings on the flick are... conflicted. First, I think the trailers and advertising for the movie are REALLY misleading, which you should know going in. Realize that this movie is rated R, and it earns its R-rating and then some, in terms of language and graphic violence. The trailers make the movie seem like a silly lark, with costumed superheroes and McLovin'. Well yeah, he's in the movie, but as more of a secondary or supporting character, and before you get to his portions, you have plenty of graphic deaths and maiming.

One of my girlfriend's friends told her the movie was kind of like Superbad, which is completely false, unless you consider any movie with McLovin' automatically like Superbad. Kick-Ass has a lot more in common with the ultra-violent Kill Bill than any sort of Judd Apatow production.

I loved Kick-Ass because I realized pretty quickly what it was - A gritty superhero movie. This isn't Spiderman or Mystery Man, with super powers and jokes and slick production to bail the heroes out. The fighting is shockingly raw in Kick-Ass; Dave, a.k.a. Kick-Ass, is getting his ass beat more than rescuing and avenging. The movie is actually concerned with answering the question, "What would happen if some teenager tried to fight back in a crime-filled city?"

To be sure, there still are plenty of non-realistic aspects included, and they mostly have to do with the relationship between Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage in a good performance) and Hit Girl, the 11-year-old killer. She has been trained since birth to be a superhero and killer, but even with this in mind, her skills are frankly unbelievable and unrealistic.

Addressing Ebert's point - Yeah, there is something a bit unsettling about seeing an 11-year-old get shot and beat up. The shooting happens very early in the movie, but the coldness of the scene was... eerie.

The reaction of the audience also made me cringe. I was watching mostly with college and high school aged-kids, and several of them laughed as she got shot... without having any idea about whether she was actually hurt or not. It did remind me of the reaction of crowds to both portions of Kill Bill, and Inglorious Basterds, but both of those movies play in more of a "fantasy" universe than Kick-Ass to me.

However, I do think Hit Girl's scenes were realistic in the context of the film. Most other movies would have sugarcoated her role, and had Kick-Ass magically develop much better fighting skills to fill her role instead, or to never put Hit Girl in serious danger. Kick-Ass is uncompromising in this regard, and establishes early that it is not going to cop-out when it comes to the violence.

Anyway, I don't want to keep going on with potential spoilers. If you're a fan of Tarantino films or Sin City, then you will probably find Kick-Ass surprisingly enjoying, for the reasons I cited. However, if you hated those movies, and are expecting a silly sort of superhero movie, then avoid Kick-Ass at all costs!

The awesome poster of Kick-Ass, which I now kind of want, I found here. The picture of Hit Girl punching is from Ebert's review, linked again for you here. The "normal" picture of Hit Girl is from this site.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

TV Review: The Miz layeth the Smackdown

The Miz puts his U.S. Championship
and tag team belts on display.


As Bill Simmons has pointed out, it is odd to think that of all the Real World and MTV casts, the only one who has kind of made it big in television amongst the scores of wannabe actresses and actors is Mike Mizanin, who wrestles as The Miz in the WWE.

The progress he has made in the ring and on the mic is simply shocking. When he first debuted with the company, he was an annoying and cocky host of stupid segments, like the Diva search and bikini competitions. He was clearly raw in the ring as well, but a little less than four years later, he is a legitimate heavyweight champion competitor. Of all the wrestlers in the midcard, The Miz is the one I want to see as champion, and I think he is the heir-apparent to Chris Jericho as the smarmy heel who gets over with the crowd anyway.

A good example of his new prowess was on display on Smackdown last night. He sat in on commentator with Matt Striker and Todd Grisham, and overshadowed both of them. And I'm normally a guy who loves Striker's obscure references. However, The Miz's bombast and forcefulness makes him an interesting character.

From top to bottom, not much has changed since the last couple times I talked about Smackdown - It is still by far the best weekly program that the WWE does. While I'm still not crazy about the booking of Jack Swagger as the world heavyweight champion, he at least got the pin in a triple threat match with Jericho and Edge. From top-to-bottom, the show featured a lot of good wrestling, with the highlights being the triple threat championship match and a six man tag (CM Punk, Luke Gallows and Darren Young vs. Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Rey Mysterio).

It was a brisk 90 minutes to watch, and hopefully when the show moves to SyFy this November, it will allow for some even better, more mature angles.

Grade: A+

The picture is from WWE.com.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How The Sausage Is Made: Vanilla Bean coolattas

The elimination of one of my favorite drinks, the Vanilla Bean coolatta at Dunkin' Donuts, has made me sad this week. I'm not sure how many stores they have discontinued the flavor at, but I know it affects at least the two Westerly stores and one in Charlestown, for you Rhode Island folk. They still have it at the mini-Dunkin' Donuts next to Kingston Auto in Kingston, so apparently not every owner has decided to give it the ax.

For those of you not in the know, once upon a time – like four years ago – I worked at Dunkin' Donuts, and I worked there when I was 17 and a junior in high school as well. As such, I have fond memories of the Vanilla Bean coolatta, even if it led to constant confusion amongst customers. (“I want a French vanilla coolatta!” “Uhhh do you mean a French vanilla coffee coolatta or a Vanilla Bean fruit coolatta?”)

The actual process of making a coolatta is... weird. By that, I mean making the mix for the machine. Basically, it starts with a six-gallon bucket. You dump two cartons of the fruit coolatta mix into it, and then add about three to four gallons of water. This would normally create a pretty heavy bucket, with the water nearly at the brim, which I would desperately try not to spill as I hauled it over to the coolatta machine. (The process is the same for coffee coolatta mix, except worse, since that mix comes out dark brown and immediately stains your clothing if you spill it.)

If the machine is completely empty, then you have to wait at least an hour for it to turn the water and mix into slush. Ideally, you try to do it a bit before it goes completely out. It does have to get completely cleaned out every two weeks though, which is highly annoying, since there is no real way to make coolattas in the meantime.

As far as the Vanilla Bean goes, it is a tasty, vanilla ice cream-like drink. However, do yourself a favor, as Adam Carolla would say – If they still have it in your area, ask them to make you a medium coolatta, half Vanilla Bean and half Strawberry. The combination is simply divvvinnneeeee.

The picture is from this site. Apparently they have discontinued the Vanilla Bean coolatta in the past - For shame!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TV Review: I love you, Phil Dunphy.

Everybody dies boys, let's focus on what's important!

This was a strong episode of Modern Family, especially for Phil. That sly old fox had some great lines sprinkled throughout, such as the one above I used for the photo cutline. The other great line he had? "One day I'm going to be a grandfather, and then everybody better hide their meat."

Anyway, his drama with his father-in-law Jay felt a little rehashed, since Jay basically has authority problems with every character on the show. The episode's other plot lines were pretty amusing, although a bit more bittersweet than usual, with Cameron realizing he hates being away from Lilly, and Alex and Manny pulling away from their respective parents. And while I love the middle daughter's character, it was pretty funny to have Claire get vicious, mom-like revenge on her at the end.

So yeah. I have no real idea why Modern Family took two episodes off; maybe it had something to do with them filming the season's final episode(s?) in Hawaii. Regardless, they didn't miss a beat in their two episodes off TV. It's still mandatory watching if you're any sort of fan of Arrested Development-style humor.

Grade: A

TV Review: Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks? ... yeah.

It's nice to see that some things don't change.

Wow - Glee sure came back with a bang. Where to start in breaking down Tuesday's episode?

First and foremost, the seemingly neat bows made at the end of the first half of the season are already mostly undone. Emma and Will are already broken up (and he's already made out with that foxy teacher for the rival vocal group), Finn and Rachel aren't really together either, Will's ex-wife is still lurking around, and Sue Sylvester is the coach of the cheerleaders again. The only thing that seems to be going well, somehow, is Quinn and Puck still being together. And, I imagine this is only true on the surface because they couldn't get to EVERYTHING in an hour-long episode.

As is, the above was a lot of plot to unwind in an hour-long (45 minutes minus commercials) episode. While I enjoyed most of what was going on, excluding the cringe-worthy Emma and Will scenes, there was so much going on that it became hard to follow at times. For example, I think Rachel and Finn broke up about 47 times in that episode, and now Rachel is dating an entirely new guy altogether. If they had split all the plot going on in this episode into two or even three, with some more humor, I think the series would have been better served. Still, I thought this was a great reintroduction for series regulars, even if a newcomer (I'm sure there were plenty with American Idol as a lead) would have been completely lost.

Speaking of Britt, and I realize I wasn't, but I'm glad the writers or producers or whoever on the show finally rewarded Heather Elizabeth Morris with some more lines! (Also, a key note about her: She even acts airhead really well. In any given scene, she is not looking at whoever is talking.) Britt and Santana served as the comic relief for the episode, with Britt as her typical airhead self, and Santana as the brains of the group solely because she isn't as stupid as Britt. A shout-out to Naya Rivera, a.k.a. Santana, who does a good job with her character, the sort of straight woman to Britt's sheer moronic lunacy.

I used one of Britt's quotes as the title of this entry, but good lord, she almost deserves an A+ for just her contribution. In fact, here is my new regular feature when I review Glee: What Britt Said.

[In regard to Rachel] "Those sweaters make her look homeschooled."

[Finn says Rachel is cool.] "Finn, that's mean."

[The waitress asks why they want to return their dinner, even though they ate it all.] "There was a mouse in mine."

[Why didn't Britt and Santana ruin glee club?] "We were seduced by the glitz and glamor of showbiz."

"Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks? ... yeah."

"You're a really good dancer." [Finn: Uh, thanks, but my feet weren't really moving.] "That was the best part."

"Sometimes I forget my middle name."

Grade: A

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TV Review: I still hate Hugo.

Libby brings two friends to her date with Hugo.

Ah, LOST. My friends Tom and Nikki were having a minor disagreement about last night's episode, with Tom claiming it was a 6/10 episode, and Nikki being more positive, calling it a 8/10. My own rating reflects more of a fencesitting: I give the first 20 minutes a 4/10, and the final 20 minutes a 10/10, for an average of 7/10. (Sorry I couldn't really settle the dispute, pals.)

As the title of this entry implies, I still find Hugo to be a miserable, sad character. He is still strictly the fat dude comic relief, even if he's the only one outside of Miles who can reasonably talk to the dead. In Bizarro LAX, at least he has finally managed to make some moves on Libby, which will probably allow Cousin Brandon to rest in peace. In fact, let's tackle this episode, from bad to good:

Bad: Ilana going out like a bitch. It's weird, in that while I'm not her biggest fan, I still thought Ilana deserved to go out a little bit better than, well, being the only character on the show to get exploded besides the dorky science teacher. LOST earns some points for making her death a complete "out of left field" shock, but I openly laughed when it happened, because it felt more appropriate for Loony Tunes as opposed to a serious drama.

Bad: Hurley's continuing pussification. Dash Worthington would not approve of Hurley. Specifically, he pulls a FLocke move in last night's episode and tries to lie to the group to get them to follow him to FLocke's camp. Hasn't he learned anything from how he has been treated on the Island??? One of his biggest complaints during the past seasons has been about being lied to, and the very second he's in a position of power, he uses his "I can see ghosts!" power to lie to people.

Bad: Michael's odd cameo on the episode. It's nice to know that the whispering from all of the past seasons are ghosts haunted by what they did on the Island, forced to remain; it's nice to know that Michael will be spending an undetermined amount of time living in damnnation on the Island. However, like Ilana, most people people will probably consider this a disappointing use of Michael's character. While I was never a huge fan of him, he probably deserved a bit more than this, and maybe they'll address his fate more in Bizarro LAX.

Good: Hurley and Libby FINALLY hooking up, even if it is in Bizarro LAX. This also seems to kickstart his memory, as Desmond seemed to want, and has interesting implications. Hurley clearly has a much, much better thing going on in Bizarro LAX, since he is not cursed, filthy rich and now, with the presence of Libby, in love. If the worlds are somehow merged again, then what happens to her?

Really Good: Desmond knocked Locke out with his god damn car! Wow! That was a wickedly satisfying scene to watch for some reason; I'm not entirely sure why. Also, I think the whole chain of events is part of a plan by Desmond to reunite Locke with Jack. With his injuries, Locke will get taken to the hospital where Jack works, where either the operation or something post-surgical will make their memories kick back online.

Good: Desmond is still the mother effing man, and he is now equal to Jack in my mind. To me, it seems like he has a Luke Skywalker-esque endgame in mind, which is why he appeared fearless in front of FLocke. It wouldn't surprise me if he somehow knows the "secret" to thwarting him and "fixing" the two worlds.

Good: It was nice to see a larger role for some characters, like Ben and Miles, even if they were still mostly supporting characters. And hey, no awkward scenes between Kate, Jack and Sawyer - just awkward gazing. We're improving! Hurrah!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TV Review: Dash Worthington is my new hero.

I really, really enjoy The Daily Show's Senior Supreme Court Correspondent, Dash Worthington. As Jon Stewart noted on Monday night's broadcast, he has been on the beat since 1936 for the show, so that's experience and reliability you can count on. Also, he makes up fantastic new words, like qussy - a combination of quitter and pussy, like retiring Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens. Worthington notes that the Supreme Court appointment is "for life," so really, Stevens is being a quitter and a pussy for backing out early.

If you haven't been watching lately, well, The Daily Show and its brother show The Colbert Report have been on fire lately. (I was going to call Colbert the sister show, but I really don't think he would approve.) Both have had their A-game for the past month, especially The Daily Show. Stewart's take on the nuclear fiasco last week was hilarious, and characters like Worthington and Michael Steele as voiced by Wyatt Cenac.

Grade: A+ for The Daily Show
Grade: A for The Colbert Report

Monday, April 12, 2010

TV Review: Pair of ATHF episodes delight

The Insane Clown Posse and George Lowe combine to make ATHF awesome.

Catching up on an episode I didn't write about last week, I continue to enjoy Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Last week's episode revolved around Meatwad and (mostly) Shake throwing crap off a highway overpass. The hilarity ensues, Aqua Teen style, when Shake throws a chunk of pavement off the overpass, killing a dude driving his car. You know, the typical family-friendly fare of Aqua Teen.

From there, the episode picks up speed as the ghost of the dude haunts Shake for the rest of the episode, forcing him to do good deeds for Carl and others. Shake finally has enough though, and trying to find a demon to help him, he instead comes across an Insane Clown Posse disciple. Of course, this kid is about 15-years-old, and only succeeds in having Shake give him rides before Shake commits suicide with a shotgun, in an attempt to avoid getting banished to Hell.

The best segment of the episode though are the two minutes at the end. Frylock and Meatwad sue the Insane Clown Posse for causing Shake's death. (It isn't really made clear why, since they don't really like him, but maybe they want the cash from it.) And fabulously, George Lowe makes another appearance on the show this season, serving as the bumbling lawyer for Frylock and Meatwad. Even ICP are decent in their brief cameo.

This week's episode is similarly strong, but it has been floating around on the Internet for a while, so I won't go as in-depth on it. Just realize that it is a take on Fantasia, with Meatwad in the role of the multiplying brooms. Good times, good times!

Grade on the two episodes: A-

Sorry for these kind of short entries. Yeah, I'm not doing so much flood coverage at work, but unfortunately, I've been getting chills and headaches during the mornings and nights. As I type this on Sunday night, I have a 99.8 degree fever, despite some Tylenol and Motrin throughout the day. So, until I'm back to complete health, the entries will probably remain short. Sorry folks!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

At The Commercials: ohmygod Sienna parents, please die in a fire!

I don't even feel like trying to encode the video into this post, so if you don't know what I'm talking about when I refer to the Sienna parents, click here. I think Toyota is trying to parody yuppie couples, but instead, they have somehow managed to create the most annoying yuppie couple of all-time that makes me want to throw my remote through my television and cut off my ears every time it comes on to my television.

I guess the irony of the commercial is lost on me, since the Sienna looks like any other cheesy minivan to me. Toyota, how is your product really any better than others on the roads? I have no clue, since I'm too distracted by the horrid, annoying couple prattling on in your commercials, to the point where I'd like to see them set on fire! Your minivan looks like an eclair with wheels.

p.s. Hey kids in the commercial, you're cute. I wouldn't burn you in a fire. But I am hoping that you are not the actual spawn of these two actors, because if so, you could be in for a lot of "fun" times growing up.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

TV Review: 12 Oz. Mouse, 12 Oz. Mouse!!!


I'm always sad when shows I enjoy get canceled, even if there are so bizarre and "out there" that I barely realize what is going on. Oh, why hello, 12 Oz. Mouse. If you like LOST and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, then you might like 12 Oz. Mouse. As odd and different as those shows are, Mouse is essentially a combination.

It starts by following the drunken exploits of Mouse Fitzgerald, a crudely drawn green mouse. He is hired by a shark - old Kentucky shark from Space Ghost Coast to Coast, oddly enough - to rob a bank, and while he does this, things quickly spiral out of control as other characters are introduced.

The show is nearly impossible to explain, yet by the end of its two-season, 20-episode run on Adult Swim, it all kind of made sense. Throughout the show, more sinister background details involving mind control and memory loss and alternate realities are revealed.

Seriously, this show isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it only cost like $5 to make, so I was surprised and disappointed when Adult Swim did decide to cancel it. They did continue it with a web-isode, which was supposed to be the first of seven or eight, but nothing ever continued past the first episode. That's kind of a shame, although the web episode isn't nearly as good as the rest of the series.

Grade: B+

For a great interview with the show's creator, click here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Belated but never imitated LOST commentary

Oh Desmond, you beautiful bastard!

Ahhh - I know everyone has been waiting with bated breathe for this oft-delayed LOST commentary. Well, relax. After many promises by me, it is finally, finally here. You can cease writing your local representatives in Congress. As an aside, I think I'm finally, fingers crossed, done with a lot of the heavy flood coverage I've been slammed with the past two weeks, so I believe I will be back to a more normal blogging schedule.

Anyway, enough with that; let's talk LOST. I thought the most recent episode, "Happily Ever After", was the second-strongest of this season, behind only "Lighthouse." However, that was a Jack-centered episode, so I imagine I might be in the minority who thought it was the best of the season.

"Happily Ever After" followed Desmond, who is definitely the best "cool" character on the show, since he has the least amount of drama. While Sawyer gets some snappy lines, he is also constantly crying about his daddy, his mommy, Juliet, Kate and how he stubbed his toe in fifth grade. And while I love Miles, his screen time has shrunk further this season, and I doubt he is going to get his own episode, unfortunately.

Therefore, Desmond is definitely my pick for the coolest character of the cast. He has the most straightforward and uncomplicated love story with Penny, which is a nice contrast from the doom and gloom misery of the rest of the cast. Even though they have apparently been separated at this point, I can't help but think that things will be fine for them at the very end. (Not so coincidentally, the final episode of LOST is simply called "The End", and I'm a fan of the simplicity.)

Focusing on the episode itself, Desmond was doing cool Desmond stuff, like surviving elctromagnetic pulses and being able to switch between Bizarro LAX and the Island at willing seemingly because of the presence of his constant, Penny. At least, that's the impression I got from the episode. After Widmore's wacky experiment that exposes Desmond to a bunch of electromagnet energy, the story rapidly switches to Bizarro LAX, and later in the episode, when Desmond meets Penny, he finally switches back.

In earlier episodes, it is suggested that Desmond is unique in his ability to switch back and forth - this is especially evident in the time travel episodes, since almost everyone but him dies from the switching. However, it does seem like the only other person completely knowledgeable about the split universes is Eloise Widmore, a.k.a. the mother of Daniel Farraday / Daniel Widmore. Like Miles, I think it would be quite interesting if she got her own episode this season, but with only six episodes and seven hours of programming left, that seems unlikely.

"Happily Ever After" did end a bit ambiguously, with Sayid killing Widmore's man accompanying Desmond through the jungle. Desmond easily agreed to Sayid's request to go with him, which makes me think he has a trick or two up his sleeve. His name wasn't seen on camera in the Cave of Candidates, and it doesn't correspond to a number, so he seemingly isn't one. Yet, this doesn't mean he isn't, and it doesn't preclude him from having special abilities either. After all, Miles can talk to dead people, and he's not on the candidate list either.

I will say that I don't think it is a coincidence that my favorite episodes of this season have been written by the show's executive producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. And thankfully, I have noted that they wrote the final episode, "The End." While some people have been down on the show, I still have hope that a good portion of things will make sense at the end, and I like what they've done so far this season.

Grade: A+

The picture of Desmond is from the episode summary of the excellent LOST Wiki site, which is accessible here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

At The Commercials: Oh, Tiger... you creepy mofo.


I find the new Nike commercial for Tiger Woods... creepy. And that is without considering that the voiceover is by Earl Woods, the late (as in dead!) father of Tiger. Eech. He has been gone for a while, so you know the statements are just spliced together from something else - like what Earl thought about Tiger's game on the 17th green - as opposed to being about Tiger's tiger.

And second, given what a sleazy individual Tiger apparently is, it is weird to see him filmed in this sort of confessional style ad. He looks like he's about to cry throughout, and I feel uncomfortable feeling and seeing sympathy for Tiger.

However, for the Masters, I do hope that Tiger wins by about 20 strokes, because it would cause the sports columnist Armageddon of righteous indignation. I'm classy like that.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ack, flooding!


Once again, I was busy at work with some flooding stories. As a result, I didn't have time to type a proper entry about yesterday's (awesome!) LOST episode. Please accept my forgiveness, and realize that it will be posted at a later time tonight, whenever I'm done covering a town council meeting. Lates!

The photo is from this site.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Reviewing my fantasy baseball draft, part two.

Enjoy this random picture of curling.

For part one of this post, which includes the scoring rules and format of this league, check out my post from yesterday. If you have any other questions about the league and format, feel free to ask in a comment. And, I'll be back to the LOST and television analysis later tonight.

KEEPERS:

Pedroia_Dustin/BOS
Longoria_Evan/TBA
Kemp_Matthew/LAN
Avila_Alex/DET
Tillman_Chris/BAL
Holland_Derek/TEX
Hamels_Cole/PHI
Rowland-Smith_Ryan/SEA
Hughes_Philip/NYA
Santana_Carlos/CLE

Reviewing my keepers, I make up for a lack of top shelf quality with quantity. Longoria and Pedroia were easy keep decisions, since they play at premium positions and in good lineups; perennial All-Stars. Kemp might be a tougher decision in future years, for reasons I'll get into. Aliva cost almost nothing to keep and he's a decent hitting catcher, and I like his chances of forcing Laird to the bench in Detroit. Tillman and Holland are too cheap and still have too much potential to give up on. Same with Hamels. Rowland-Smith and Hughes I view as generic innings-munchers, but since I had the extra years, I thought that I might as well keep them and use my draft picks on others. And Carlos Santana will hopefully be with the Indians at some point this year, instead of playing music.

In terms of overall draft strategy, well, I didn't have any concrete plans or targets. My lone goal was to avoid drafting an OF and 1B as long as possible. I didn't do this last year, and I remember being annoyed at how long decent OFers lasted, even late into the draft. In contrast, I disliked having to constantly juggle my injured pitching staff last year. Therefore, a secondary goal was picking up some durable starters, with the hope of some of my upside guys - Hughes, Tillman, Holland, prospects - coming up and taking their innings at some point.

1 4 SteveG Beckett_Josh/BOS

I viewed Beckett as a better choice than some others, like Cliff Lee, because of his superior team. Given the choice between a pitcher on a winning team and a losing team, I'll take the winning team, since there is a chance for some vulture wins when you don't have your best stuff. I had Beckett, Lee, Chris Carpenter and Vasquez all rated about equally. Carpenter scares me because of his long, long dossier of past injuries, and Vasquez scares me because he flopped in his last trip in NY.

2 20 SteveG Napoli_Mike/LAA

I wasn't crazy about this pick, since the Angels hate his defense and willingly employ Mathis in some sort of time split, keeping Napoli's overall numbers down. I had him last year too though, and it was normally more good than bad. Plus, with Aliva on the bench, I think I'm covered when it comes to Napoli's days off, although I will have to scrounge the waiver wire if there is an injury/

3 36 SteveG Cabrera_Asdrubal/CLE

Since I had already taken care of catcher, which has spotty offensive options, I decided to fill another hole in my lineup and grab Cabrera.

4 52 SteveG Chapman_Aroldis/CIN

Last year, Strasberg went in the third round. While he was viewed as more of a "can't miss" than Chapman, Chapman is closer to the majors at this point in their careers, and he showed some electric stuff in spring training. I considered him the best draftable prospect pitcher with a chance at being a No. 1 starter, and if he does hit that peak, he would be cheap for years and years.

5 68 SteveG Duchscherer_Justin/OAK

Injury-concerns, yeah, but a solid starting pitcher. I think I wanted to take him last year, but the other Steve took him one pick before me, forcing me to take Troy Glaus instead. That didn't work out so well. He's like a poor man's Carpenter, in that he seems to get injured quite a bit, but if he's healthy, he's great.

5 78 SteveG Cuddyer_Michael/MIN

While I think last year might have been his peak in terms of offense, all I had left to fill on my roster was my bullpen, 1B and two OF spots. So, I took him, since he was eligible at 1B and OF. And hey, maybe they'll play him at 2B again this year! (Well, probably not.)

6 84 SteveG Drew_JD/BOS

I really, really like Red Sox players this year. I think the team has a chance to win 100+ games, since their lineup will just wear pitchers down. Drew will only play 120 games, but he normally just misses a game here or there, as opposed to long stretches of time. Therefore, I think he'll still get plenty of counting stats.

8 116 SteveG Coghlan_Chris/FLO

This is why I held off as long as possible on outfielders. If he does have another really good year, or improves somehow or moves back to 2B, then he is definitely worth three keeper years. I almost took him in the sixth with my pick, and I was surprised that he lasted this long. People hadn't started to make a run on prospects yet, and I wasn't really attached to any of the available ones, so I decided to focus on filling out my roster.

8 122 SteveG Wagner_Billy/ATL

Best closer on the board. I have no idea if his arm will hold up, but I needed some relief pitchers, and I wasn't crazy about taking my chances on whoever ended up with saves in Minnesota, for example.

9 132 SteveG Hoffman_Trevor/MIL

See above reasoning.

10 148 SteveG Ordonez_Magglio/DET

I was surprised he was still around. People realize Mike Illitch has to pay his contract, right, and not us? I viewed him as a better proposition than Soriano or Vlad Guerrero, similar hobbled sluggers, and Ordonez does have OF eligibility still.

11 164 SteveG Marmol_Carlos/CHN

Third relief pitcher. He's been shaky in the spring, and shaky in general, but hey, not much left in terms of elite closers at this point.

12 180 SteveG Kelly_Casey/BOS

Time to go prospecting! Every scouting report on Kelly raves about how polished he is, and while he might not have the true "ace" stuff, most don't see him as a bust either, and he has an outside shot of getting up to Boston at some point in the year. Since the REALLY elite prospects like Stanton and Strasberg are long gone, I liked Kelly's upside.

13 196 SteveG Wakefield_Tim/BOS

Depending on how I shape my rotation and swing staff, he could be a really valuable piece. At the least, I know he'll make 15 to 25 starts, a good portion of which will be quality. And because he plays for the Red Sox, he should pick up a decent amount of wins, assuming he isn't eventually bumped out of the rotation by Dice-K.

14 212 SteveG Byrd_Marlon/CHN

Ugh. I have little faith he can repeat last year's numbers, but I hate the speed and SB guys like Juan Pierre that we left on the board. Therefore, I rolled the dice with Byrd. At the very least, Byrd will get a LOT of at-bats, since the Cubs gave him a crap ton of money.

15 228 SteveG Blackburn_Nick/MIN

See above about Byrd, but instead, I'm talking about Blackburn. Like every other Twins' pitcher, I think he puts up an ERA in the 4s and wins (and loses) a 8 to 12 games. For a swing pitcher, that sounds pretty good.

16 244 SteveG Eveland_Dana/TOR

Now stockpiling starting pitching.

17 260 SteveG Encarnacion_Edwin/TOR

At this point, Tom took over for me, drafting with a list. I told him to take the highest rated, in this order, which made for some hilarious results: 1b/3b, ss/2b, OF, RP, and then all prospects. I like Edwin's upside, assuming Cito Gaston doesn't screw it up by playing some hack.

18 276 SteveG Betancourt_Yuniesky/KCA

He already hit a home run, I'm a genius!!! Ack, I didn't even realize he was ranked this high on the list I left, which REALLY skewed toward players with starting jobs and high AB totals. Because the Royals are the Royals, I don't doubt that Betancourt will get 600 ABs, and while his rate stats completely suck, there is always the chance that he has a couple good weeks here and there... Right? Right guys?

19 292 SteveG Raburn_Ryan/DET

Back-up outfielder, with an outside shot of qualifying at an IF spot or catcher if there is a severe emergency in Detroit.

20 308 SteveG Clippard_Tyler/WAS

Decent numbers, and I need a few more arms.

21 324 SteveG Friedrich_Christian/COL
22 340 SteveG Norris_Derrek/WAS
23 356 SteveG Brignac_Reid/TBA
24 370 SteveG Matzek_Tyler/COL

For my prospect list, I did absolutely no work - The list I gave Tom was BP's Top 101 list, in order, with the players already chosen taken off of it. Sorry Michael :(

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reviewing my fantasy baseball draft.


Because I am the super cool sort, I play fantasy baseball, but only one league. That is because I have a short attention span for this sort of stuff, and also because the league I am is really complex, more than your standard league. Here is how the scoring works:

Batting Points = ToB + TB + (SB-CS) + (R+RBI) - OUTS = 2*H + W + TB + R + RBI + SB - CS - AB

Pitching = 3*IP + K - BB - 2*(H+R+ER) + Bonus (+5 for a win, -3 for a loss, +2 per save, +2 per inning past the 5th)

The league also uses a roster format. You can carry a maximum of 35 players, 25 of which are on the active roster. You have to field a lineup of all eight infield positions and a DH, a five-man pitching rotation and three bullpen pitchers. The remaining eight positions are your bench players and swing staff; both can be used to substitute for negative scores among your starters.

There is also a keeper system in place. You are allowed 30 player years - A rookie (Steven Strasburg) only costs one year to keep, with one player year for each additional year they have appeared in a major league game. With that in mind, here is my roster:

C Napoli_Mike/ANA 2
1B Cuddyer_Michael/MIN
2B Pedroia_Dustin/BOS
3B Longoria_Evan/TBA 3
SS Cabrera_Asdrubal/CLE 4
OF1 Kemp_Matthew/LAN 1,5
OF2 Drew_JD/BOS 1,5
OF3 Coghlan_Chris/FLA 1,5
DH Ordonez_Magglio/DET 3
b1 Byrd_Marlon/CHN OF
b2 Avila_Alex/DET C
b3 Encarnacion_Edwin/TOR 3B
b4 Betancourt_Yuniesky/KCA SS
B5 Raburn_Ryan/DET OF
SP1 Beckett_Josh/BOS
SP2 Duchscherer_Justin/OAK
SP3 Hamels_Cole/PHI
sp4 Rowland-Smith_Ryan/SEA
sp5 Hughes_Philip/NYA
SW1 Wakefield_Tim/BOS
SW2 Blackburn_Nick/MIN
sw3 Eveland_Dana/TOR
rp1 Wagner_Billy/ATL
rp2 Hoffman_Trevor/MIL
rp3 Marmol_Carlos/CHN
IR Santana_Carlos/CLE
IR Holland_Derek/TEX
IR Tillman_Chris/BAL
IR Chapman_Aroldis/CIN
IR Kelly_Casey/BOS
IR Clippard_Tyler/WAS
IR Friedrich_Christian/COL
IR Norris_Derrek/WAS
IR Brignac_Reid/TBA
IR Matzek_Tyler/COL

I'll post a more detailed analysis later or tomorrow, but for now, I have to run to the library to cover a story. Lates!

The fantasy baseball picture is from this site.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Celebrating Easter with Paas, Patton Oswalt, South Park and the Hare Club For Men


Happy Easter, folks! In celebration of the holiday, which surely means that there will be far less eyeballs on my blog, please instead read an old entry I did here. While it is one of my old school iTunes running diaries to start, skip down to the Patton Oswalt section in order to get to the relevant discussion about Easter and Paas.

Also, no mention of Easter would be complete without a reference to the greatest Easter-themed television episode, the South Park episode "Fantastic Easter Special." In that, Stan and Kyle learn about the true history of Easter, and the Hare Club for Men. For much, much more talk of South Park, check out the Tag Team that Danielle and I did last year.

The South Park photo comes from this discussion forum. The Paas pictures come from this blog.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TV Review: Catching up with Smackdown's new champ and LOST's tedium


I am woefully behind on my television watching and writing because of all the flood coverage I've had to do for my legitimate job as a reporter at The Westerly Sun. (If you do want to see some crazy flood pictures though, I really encourage you to visit the paper's web site here.

However, I didn't really miss a lot this week. All of the Thursday night shows I watch were repeats, for some unknown reason. (Maybe preparing for the Easter exodus? I don't know.) LOST was still new this week, thankfully, but outside of a stellar performance by the quivering Keamy, I didn't really much care for this week's episode. I've also found Sun and Jin to be kind of boring characters, excluding the brief period of time when Sun actually showed some backbone and took over her father's company. (Also, it's too bad that Sulu plays the father of Hiro in Heroes, because he'd also be awesome in that role on LOST.)

Friday though brought some exciting news, although it was in professional wrestling, which I realize only I follow. Jack Swagger cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot, and used it to capitalize on a fallen Chris Jericho. While Jericho is my favorite wrestler, even as a heel, I also like Swagger's, uh, swagger and bravado. It's good to see a fresh face as champion who can actually wrestle - Swagger's rise up the card has seemed more natural than Sheamus, who got an unnatural push out of nowhere. Swagger has been ECW Champion, and he has been built up consistently as a threat to guys like John Cena. It wouldn't surprise me to see him used kind of like C.M. Punk, who also used the MitB for a surprise win, and then legitimized himself more once he didn't have the belt anymore.

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