Sunday, June 30, 2013

Was It All A Dream?

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Thursday night, Dizzy, T-Dogg, J-Mo, his buddy Dave & I all went to see a special preview screening of “Pacific Rim” by director Guilllermo del Toro. You've probably all seen the commercials & posters... the movie that looks like a mix of Gundam, Voltron & Godzilla all rolled into one... like some kind of twisted teenage fantasy come to life... well, it pretty much is. The story is in the near future... these giant monsters called Kaiju (Japanese for something) start coming out of a dimensional riff in the depths of the Pacific Ocean & destroying coastal cities (you'll never guess which one is first... unless you've seen ANY disaster movie to ever come out of Hollywood). Well, in response to this new universal threat, the governments of the world join forces (HA!!!) to make these giant robots to fight them off called Jaegers (German for hunters... so I'm guessing they're designed by Germans instead of Japanese scientists who seem to have the lock on robots? Or maybe it just sounds cooler). Now, these robots have to be controlled by two pilots because... they do a "mind melt" with the robot (because wireless PS3 controllers don't work I guess) and just one pilot, the melt is too much for them. Okay, got it? Alright... so the monsters are getting bigger & bigger... so then the government pulls the funding of these robots to build a fence. Now... feel free to read that last sentence again. These monsters... that are traveling through a dimensional riffs in time & space... emerge in the depths of the ocean... travel thousands of miles to the coast line & apparently can only be stopped by robots punching them (because missiles & bombs don't work better?)... so a fence about a hundred feet high that you're going to build over the course of many many years is going to stop them? Yes... THAT'S where they lost me, right? Not anything before... but right there.
The story is pretty horrible... and not even the portion about the robots & monsters, all that I can go along with... but more the lead actor (guy from "Sons of Anarchy") and all the stereotype characters (borderline cartoon caricatures) that they force feed into the story... but honestly, it kinda makes up for it with all the amazing fight sequences (though kinda predictable & full of loopholes at the same time) so I wouldn't be surprised if this was nominated for an Academy Award for its visual effects, simply astounding... and even all the scenography is pretty amazing... but yeah, the acting is horrible. I'd still check it out if I were you. Drops in theatres next weekend. Again, it's basically a wet teenage nerd fantasy come to life... and having been one, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Spioler alert: YOU GET TO MIND MELT WITH A CUTE JAPANESE GIRL & A ROBOT!!! Also, the Japanese girl will keep secrets from you... like you had a sword the whole time... here's some news...
Thank You for Not Smoking - A new study finds that some anti-cigarette messages in public service announcements have an unintended result: They trigger viewers' desire to smoke. (Surprise!!! Though not at all really…) The findings were published in the most recent issue of Media Psychology. Certain "scenes portraying smoking objects or behaviors can be helpful by making antismoking PSAs more relevant and engaging the target audience,” write the study’s authors, Sungkyoung Lee, Ph.D., and Joseph N. Cappella, Ph.D., of the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania (yes, that was a lot of title to absorb, you may want to read it again to get it all). “However, inclusion of such images can [sometimes] distract viewers from processing audio and non-cue visuals, which are often the most important content audiences need to take away.” The key, the authors write, is whether the anti-smoking message is powerful enough to capture the viewer’s attention. In such cases, the images of smokers will reinforce the notion that cigarettes are harmful. But when the anti-smoking message is “weak,” these images can have the opposite effect. For instance, a PSA released in March 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed a former smoker adjusting to life with a tracheotomy was one of the most powerful television ads that year. Another memorable series of PSAs was released by the Canadian government in March, which compared smoking with “public farting.” “Such PSAs have shown to be effective in influencing the target audience’s awareness, knowledge and beliefs relating to smoking behavior, which in turn increase antismoking intention and behavior change,” write the study’s authors.
In weaker PSAs, the visual “cues” of individuals smoking will override the viewer’s ability to “encode and remember antismoking arguments," they add, as such cues play a pivotal role in the relapse behaviors of former substance abusers. Or, as Adweek puts it, the wrong kind of anti-drug ad will “make you want to take drugs.” The creative minds behind anti-smoking ads know that visual cues are key. The variable in the equation is just making sure that the message is strong enough to outweigh the potential trigger for a craving. The risk vs. reward scenario is said to be similar to using a joke or memorable sexy image to sell an unrelated product, like a car or clothing (or beer or booze or dry cleaning services or ANYTHING!!!). If the joke is too good, people will remember only the funny ad, not what the company is trying to sell (service dogs that bring beer?). “In theory, the core content of a message can be placed in either the audio or video channel, or both,” Lee and Cappella write in their study’s conclusion. “Our findings suggest that the audio channel is an efficient modality for delivering the core arguments of a message, especially when the arguments are strong.” I agree… especially since often times you’re not even looking at the TV & it’s playing in the background for example. Great job, guys! You’ve earned a B+ in Marketing 1010. It’s the same principle as when you go to the grocery store & they have the sign at checkout that says something like “Don’t Forget the Ice!” So what do you do? Immediately purchase ice so that you can pick it up on the way out. OF COURSE YOU DON’T!!! You forget it… or just don’t care. However, if you put it as “Ice for $1.99… or enjoy your warm soda (Coca-Cola if they wanna pay for the advertisement)!” with a picture of a cooler in the sun or something… then that’s more provoking to conjuring an image of tasting that ridiculously hot nasty Coca-Cola that’s been slow roasting in the sun at the beach or whatever. Besides, is it weird that just everybody talking about smoking being bad for you has made me more willing to accept the idea of smoking? It’s the same thing when somebody tells me about red meat being bad for me & comparing it to tofu or some crap like that… so I immediately half-vomit a little in my mouth with the thought of most health food… and then go to my happy place where I’ve got a beer in my right hand, girl in my lap, porterhouse on a plate in her ample bosom, fork in my left hand, knife in my other right hand & Cuban cigar in my other left hand. By the way, apparently in my happy place I have four arms, two wings, two legs & a tail with versatile attack capabilities. What’s my point? Oh yeah… gotta keep an eye on Big Tobacco. Now enjoy your smoking… and birth defects like…
TWO-RTUGA!!! - A two-headed turtle has hatched at the San Antonio Zoo and officials have named her… what for it… Thelma and Louise. The female Texas cooter (it’s a real thing, google it) arrived June 18th and will go on display Thursday at the zoo's Friedrich Aquarium. Zoo spokeswoman Debbie Rios-Vanskike (van SKYKE') said Wednesday that the two-headed turtle appears healthy and is able to swim and walk. She says experts at the zoo don't foresee any health issues for Thelma and Louise, named for the female duo in the 1991 Oscar-winning road movie of the same name (oh I thought they were talking about “League of Their Own” for a minute). The San Antonio Zoo is no stranger to two-headed reptiles. The facility was home to a two-headed Texas rat snake named Janus from 1978 until the creature's death to 1995. Eh… I still like my name better. EL TWO-RTUGAAAAA!!! Coming to the Syfy channel next fall.
Baby Name Update – Nope… not even going to comment on Kanye & Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West on this one. It’s been done to death… and actually not too bad… but this is about something else. Two things actually – Narcissism (strong word but kinda true) & Crowd-sourcing. A Connecticut couple has named its baby with help from customers at a Starbucks coffee shop. Oh yes… it’s one of those stories. Twenty-five-year-old Jennifer James and 24-year-old Mark Dixon of West Haven told the New Haven Register they had been struggling between two names for the boy they are expecting in September, so they decided to put it to a vote. They placed signs at the Starbucks on the New Haven Green, where they are regulars, asking people to vote for either the name Jackson or Logan (ugh… really?). The couple said it got the idea for the voting based on a system used by that Starbucks location, where customers cast votes for the store's employee of the month. (Really? Not just the actual concept of voting?) "We saw that and thought we might as well see how it works," Dixon said. They received about 1,800 votes in the coffee cup serving as a ballot box. The couple said voters did not limit themselves to the two choices they were given (GASP!!!). "We've gotten Obama, Jebediah, Lincoln. Someone put (a) write-in, Webster," James said. James said that when she realized Dixon would sound similar to Jackson, she began pulling for the name Logan. "I don't know why I didn't realize the 'Jackson Dixon' thing, but I think once I realized that, he was going to be Logan no matter what," she said knowing full damn well that the ballot was pointless as she had the Vagina Veto firmly in (nature’s) pocket. The name Logan also was favored by the customers, but ultimately… because there are no losers in this day & age… both names won. The couple said it will name the baby Logan Jackson Dixon. What an amazingly pointless story!
My idea… which isn’t far off… and no, it’s not original… sell naming rights to your child. When & if some poor woman decides that she wants to bear my enormous bastard offspring (or whatever the situation may be) then I’m thinking… Kickstarter or some other crowd-sourcing type of site… where we put maybe four top choices, let’s say for a boy: Korbin, Konrad, Eugene & Barkevious. For a dollar donation, you can cast your vote for one of the top names. Conversely, if you think that you have a better idea, then for $5 you can cast a write-in vote. As the votes add up (God willing), you are setting up a nice little nest egg for our li’l bastard & making your voice heard like on American Idol. Let’s say 100,000 people cast their votes & it raises something like $250,000 (lots of write-ins). Then your new addition to the family, “Monkey Butt Love”, may be able to have a place to sleep, help with a down payment on a home, or maybe even a semester of art school if you want to put the whole thing on that. Not a bad idea, right?
But wait… there’s more. Let’s say that some multinational corporate conglomerate decides that they want your son’s future glory to be associated with their product. Well then, for the flat fee of $250,000 they decide to purchase the naming rights & then you have a beautiful son named “Golden Palace Love”. I know what you’re thinking… what about loop holes out of this situation. Maybe you don’t agree with the name. Be careful though… if there’s anything that previous story has taught us… it’s that Integrity in the vote is important. Act like a f**king p**sy & they may ask for their money back… or they just won’t donate in the first place.
There are loop holes that you can exercise. The aforementioned Vagina Veto may decide that she doesn’t want her first born child to be named “Monkey Butt Love” or “Golden Palace Love” or “Fast & Furious 9: Maximum Thrust Love” or something like that. She has to be on board for it… because it’s her baby, regardless of all that talk she uses to convince you that it’s your baby when bills have to be paid, don’t fool yourself or let her fool you, it’s hers. Period. Then along comes the idea of “Wait, we can just pretend that this random donor came in & paid the $250,000 naming rights… but it’s really us. We take out a home loan, filter it through the site with the lump sum payment & then use it towards the house.” I’m not sure what all the legal ramifications may be with a move like that… but either way, it’s chicken shit. Don’t do it. Man the f**k up. When you’re trying to get free money for doing something that people have done for thousands, maybe millions of years, then suck it up & roll with the decision. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet… even if the bud is named “Tebow for President Love”. Anyway, just a thought… somebody steal it & make millions like everybody else, okay? I’ve got my own ways of making money…
Bank Robbery Update – Speaking of families & trying to make money… The FBI says a Michigan man who recognized his mom in surveillance photos of a bank robbery called police to turn her in. I know, right? What a f**king narc! reports the man told police his mother was at his home in Kent County's Byron Township. Authorities say 53-year-old Dee Ann Sanders of Martin was charged Tuesday with robbing a Bank of America branch on June 18th. Her arraignment is scheduled Thursday in Grand Rapids. A teller says the robber handed her a note demanding $2,500 for her children and grandchildren. She got $1,092. Wait, stop right there… question time. So… she just handed over a note that said something like “Give me $2,500 for my kids & grandkids”? Did she even add pretty please or any kind of threat? They were just like “You know what… here, take this stack… and God bless you!”? Anyway, surveillance photos show a woman wearing a bright red T-shirt with a large American flag on the front. You know… low-profile stuff. FBI special agent Adam Van Deuren says Sanders confessed. It's unknown if she has a lawyer yet. Apparently she doesn’t have a phone listing. Though based on the information in this article, if I’m her lawyer, I’m questioning whether there was a crime committed. It sounds like she was just given money by a bank teller. Anyway, the real crime is the son dropping the dime on his mom. I mean… think about it. Would you rat on your mom? Especially if the only police description is something like “a human being, possibly female, mid-50’s, allegedly poor penmanship, Patriot”? Maybe there were circumstances were it was a little more specific than that… like she signed the note “Sincerely, Dee Ann Sanders” but still, would you do it? Don’t worry mom! Your interstate drug trafficking cartel is safe with me.
Was It All A Dream? – Picture this if you will… Sixty-nine-year-old Wladyslaw Haniszewski had lived in the U.S. for about 30 years. But when the New Jersey resident fell into a coma… he awoke to find himself in his native country of Poland. The New York Daily News reports that Haniszewski fell victim to a growing phenomenon in which uninsured immigrants are deported by U.S. hospitals that do not want to get stuck paying for their treatment. “Imagine being carted around like a sack of potatoes," said Polish Consul General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, who argues that Haniszewski was placed on a chartered flight while still unconscious, never giving his consent to being shipped to a hospital in a country he had not lived in for decades. The practice of medical repatriation has reportedly become increasingly common. One immigration advocacy group told The Associated Press in April that it has documented at least 800 cases of individuals being deported from hospitals without consent over the past six years in at least 15 states. However, the actual number is believed to be much higher because of the significant number of cases that go unreported. "It really is a Catch-22 for us," Dr. Mark Purtle, vice president of Medical Affairs for Iowa Health System, said at the time. "This is the area that the federal government, the state, everybody says we're not paying for the undocumented." There is an ongoing debate over the legality and morality of medical repatriation. Under U.S. law, hospitals are required to gain patient consent, from either the individual directly or an immediate family member, before having the individual deported. The federal government is not directly involved in the cases and does not pay for the cost of deportation. In April, "Colbert Report" host the great Stephen Colbert weighed in on the controversy, saying sarcastically, "It's totally unregulated, so hospitals avoid all the red tape usually involved in shipping the unconscious." Haniszewski has reportedly fallen on hard times in recent years. Friends tell the Daily News that he recently lost his apartment and job, and was forced to relocate to a shelter. The Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick is defending its actions, saying it took the necessary precautions before placing Haniszewski on an outbound flight. “The individual was informed regarding his discharge plan and care,” said hospital spokesman Peter Haigney. “As the hospital's understanding of the facts differs from the published reports, we are conducting a thorough review of the procedures and communications surrounding this gentleman's care.” However, Junczyk-Ziomecka contests the theory that Haniszewski consented to the move or was even informed of the decision. After all, he was still in a coma when he arrived in Poland and even now is unable to verbally communicate with hospital staff. He’s also estranged from his two daughters, who live in Poland. "He can smile from time to time, but he is unable to communicate," Junczyk-Ziomecka told the Daily News. “It’s an incredibly disturbing case,” Lori Nessel, director of the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall University School of Law, told the Daily News. “This kind of action seems clearly illegal and also not ethical, but it’s hard to bring a legal action.”
Yes… yes… very controversial topic this… medical repatriation. My stance: Let’s say, God forbid, I need to stay in the hospital… and I pay my taxes (and an ass-ton for medical that I don’t use often) like a good citizen… but I can’t get the attention that I need (or pay ten times as much as I should have to) because an elderly man estranged from his family is in a coma but I’m covering the charges? I’m gonna lean towards the side of deportation… er, repatriation. All expense paid trip to the homeland? Sh*t, I’d like to check out the Czech Republic when I’m young & healthy… why I gotta wait until I’m in a coma & considered a burden on society? Anyway, that’s really not the reason I brought up the story… it’s just the thought of let’s say that you’re in a car wreck or just randomly pass out or something, let’s say, RIGHT NOW while reading my boring ass blog. Then when you come to… you’re in the middle of some Polish hospital where all the nurses speak a language that you can’t understand, the smell of cabbage & feces waft through the air (okay, maybe not in a hospital) you get the idea. It would understandably freak you the f**k out. Was it all a dream? Where am I? When am I? Why can’t I move or talk? Anyway, I feel sorry for the guy… but unfortunately I just don’t want to pay for him to be in a vegetable. It may sound heartless & cruel but… apparently that’s just me. I’m not really Democratic or Republican or conservative or whatever… I’m just an asshole… who doesn’t want to work harder to get less. Don’t be mad. I’m only being real…
Anyway, that'll do it for tonight. Next time, I've got a few horror flicks to review... and another Batman movie. Intrigued? Of course you are... have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Basketball Christmas 2013

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
It’s that time of year again… basically my half-Christmas every year… when all the GMs, coaches, fans & everybody else involved with the NBA get to see what presents their teams can pick from under the tree of amateur ballers. The big thing that I keep hearing about this draft is that there are “no superstars” where next year they expect a whole bunch… though I only know about Andrew Wiggins whose supposed to be the next LeBron & Marcus Smart who’d probably be the 2nd pick in this year’s draft if he didn’t like Stillwater, Oklahoma so much… so he’ll probably be #2 next year pending injuries. Apparently there are more… but we shall see.
The thing about team sports is that you may LOVE to have a superstar… but there are four other people out there on the court with you in basketball. Michael Jordan wasn’t winning championships by himself. He had guys like Scottie Pippen who nobody expected to be a Hall of Famer when he was drafted… and Horace Grant to grab rebounds… and John Paxson to hit those open threes when MJ was double teamed… and Bill Cartwright to be the defensive anchor… and Ron Harper or B.J. Armstrong to bring the ball up the court… and other bench players like Cliff Levingston & Luc Longley to provide some rest for the starters so they’re fresh in crunch time. It’s a team sport with lots of role players… and this year’s draft could have some fantastic role players that could easily be starters for the next decade or so. Anyway, as you know, I didn’t get to see a whole lot of games until March Madness this year… but here’s what went down Thursday night & what I think about the decision making done… in my humble expert opinion.
NBA Draft 2013
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Anthony Bennett – Forward from UNLV – This pick was a curveball to me. Now, I never got to see Anthony play… but from what I understand, he’s a great physical specimen for a power forward & has some great offensive skills. Combined with quick guards like Kyrie Irving & Dion Waiters… and another large Canadian specimen like Tristan Thompson & a seven-foot sideshow Bob that is Anderson Varajeo, the Cavs have a good young core to go with. They also picked up a guy that I heard a lot about going into the draft later in the round with Sergey Karasev (#19 forward from Russia). Good solid pick, though a bit surprising.

2. Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo – Forward from Indiana – I saw a few bits of Indiana games early last year when they were preseason #1 and all that… and I really liked Mr. Oladipo’s game. I’ve heard people compare him to D-Wade & all that… but that sh*t needs to stop for a few years. He plays solid defense which is always good, he put up about 15 points in college & he may be a start in Orlando, but that’s because everybody there kinda sucks right now. Well, you know, by NBA standards. Don’t look at me like that. That’s why they have the #2 pick. It wasn’t a fluke. Anyway, it should be a good solid pick… even though, I don’t know… yeah, I’ll just agree with the pick. I wasn’t there for the workouts. He plays D. Gotta love it.
3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter – Forward from Georgetown – I like this as the hometown pick & he really is the best fit for the Wizards too. They already have the guard spots taken care of with John Wall & Bradley Beal… and the post spots with Nene & Emeka Okafor… so the best small forward in the draft was a good solid pick. I also like them picking up Glen Rice jr (#35 guard from NBDL) in the 2nd round. He has a few character issues that got him out of college & into the NBDL, but hey, as long as he can overcome all that… if he’s HALF what his daddy was, then he’ll be a steal in the 2nd round.
4. Charlotte Bobcats – Cody Zeller – Center from Indiana – Reading the blogs, everybody thinks that this was a ridiculous pick for the Bobcats… who seem to have a habit of ridiculous picks… and that’s part of why they’re HISTORICALLY HORRIBLE the past few years. However, if the only knock on this guy is that he scores, plays defense, wins… but he’s a little skinny & Caucasian aka non-athletic? Then by all means get that guy in the gym, put some meat on his bones & let him continue to score, play defense & win. Seriously, what was his competition? Another tall skinny 20 year old? Prove ‘em wrong, Cody!!!

5. Phoenix Suns – Alex Len – Center from Maryland – You can’t teach big. I’ve said it at least once every time I’ve reviewed a draft. Many thought that Alex would go #1 because of it… well, I kinda did. However, he has some injury issues, didn’t show a lot of certain skills while playing, but definitely among the best bigs in the draft crop this year. I think that he’ll actually fit in very well in Phoenix & can learn offensive moves from current center Martin Gortat in his development before doing the twin towers kind of thing. Phoenix also picked a guy that I really like with Archie Goodwin (#29 guard from Kentucky). Now… I was forced to watch a few Kentucky games this year… and this guy reminded me a lot of a guy that I saw in UCLA a few years back… who just had a solid all-around game & really athletic… but not really like a superstar kind of demeanor. Well, today that guy is Russell Westbrook… and Archie Goodwin reminded me of him. Basically what I’m saying is… I kinda hoped that the Spurs were gonna pick him up with their #28 pick… but more on that later. Good job, Suns!
6. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans) – Nerlens Noel – Center from Kentucky – Most people had Nerlens Noel as the first pick, even though he tore his ACL earlier this year. The knocks against him were the injury concerns (I’m not a doctor, but I know knees can be tricky, especially when there’s not a lot of muscle helping out), he was “unpolished” on the offensive end… but he’s a shot-blocking fool, 20 years old, a little skinny, but he tore his ACL chasing down a guard on a fast break… so he has hustle & a win-first mentality, right? My suggestion: Grow the high top fade to EPIC proportions and/or pick it out like Ben Wallace used to do… and dominate the defense end… and then clean up the glass on offense putting back misses from the quick perimeter players if they deny the entry pass. Well, we shall see. He gets a chance to be a focal point in Philly, which can be good or bad for a 20-year old… but at least he doesn’t have to deal with being the #1 pick. The 76ers also did a great job in picking up a tall point guard Michael Carter-Williams (#11 guard from Syracuse) or soon to be called MCW or MC-Dub or something like that, probably the best point guard prospect in the draft… but then they also got point guard Pierre Jackson (#42 guard from Baylor) in the 2nd round. Maybe for a backup just in case? Trade bait? We shall see.
7. Sacramento Kings – Ben McLemore – Guard from Kansas –I think this guy could be the steal of the Top 10 picks. A lot of people had him going as high as #2 in the draft… but he fell to Sacramento at #7 and they couldn’t be happier. He has amazing skills all around & a very good athlete… and he goes to a team that could really use him. With their current star Tyreke Evans (very similar game play) probably on his way out to a larger market, they really couldn’t ask for more. I LOVE this pick… and hope nothing but the best for them. Ben grew up in adverse poverty… and I’m not sure whether that has led to good traits like humility & perspective or bad traits like hanging with the wrong crowd & lack of discipline… but I’m pulling for ya. Best of luck!
8. Detroit Pistons – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Guard from Georgia – Never seen him play… but he’s a pretty prototypical two guard, tall, shoots well, decent ball handling skills, might even play some defense from the report. If he works hard & plays well with the other young core there in Detroit, he would be a fan favorite in no time… and I just like his name – Kentavious. Though I’m sure he will also fall victim to the initial nickname game. Welcome KCP!!! I like that Detroit also picked up Peyton Siva (#56 guard from Louisville) because I really liked his game during the tournament this last year. He seems like a good Greivas Vasquez kind of player & should work well for them.
9. Utah Jazz (from Minnesota) – Trey Burke – Guard from Michigan – The National Player of the Year is going to Utah. Skeptics have said that he’s undersized for the big leagues… but the Jazz could sure use a pick & roll playmaker like him to go with their abundance of young bigs. I’m also excited that they picked up the biggest of the bigs later in the first round with Rudy Gobert (#27 center from France). He’s a fairly skinny 7’3” Frenchman with the wingspan of a f**king condor… so he just puts his hand up… and he’s five inches from the rim. F**king ridiculous. Does that mean that he’s going to be a superstar? Of course not. Can you teach big? You sure the f**k can’t. Is he the 2nd coming of Mark Eaton? Only if he puts on another hundred points & a badass Viking beard. He seems more like a Shawn Bradley kind of player… or even a Manute Bol if he can bomb threes… but yeah, obviously a project. He’s not gonna Yao Ming anybody this year. Yes, I was bummed that he didn’t last until the next pick for the Spurs as well. You know how they do with the foreign players. Instead they got another Frenchie… but again, more on that later. Seriously though... look... it's f**king ridiculous how big this guy is...
10. Portland Trailblazers – C.J. McCollum – Guard from Lehigh – After drafting the high scoring playmaker from a college nobody heard of last year with Rookie of the Year & WEBER STATE ALUM Damian Lillard, they picked almost the exact same thing this year. He really was the best talent at the spot though… so maybe it’ll be a good backcourt tandem for years to come. Obviously I never saw the guy play last year (apparently he was hurt for most of it anyway… and I don’t even know where the f**k Lehigh College is). The Blazers also picked up sharpshooter Allen Crabbe (#31 guard from Cal) & another guy that I think could be a great 2nd round steal, Jeff Withey (#39 Center from Kansas). I saw Jeff in a few games… and I didn’t really understand why he wasn’t a big deal leading up to the draft. I could say racism… but nobody would listen.
12. Oklahoma City - Steven Adams – Center from Pittsburgh – Never saw him play, all I heard was “raw” but again, you can’t teach height. The Thunder can pick him up & develop him though because they’re already set for a while at center with Serge Ibaka. That’s really all I have to say on this pick.
13. Boston Celtics (from Dallas) – Kelly Olynyk – Center from Gonzaga – I saw Mr. Olynyk in a few games… and he’s got some skills. Unfortunately it seems that the Celtics have decided to pack it in for a few years after they traded away their stars Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce earlier in the day… but Olynyk is a tall, hard-working big with some offensive skills. As long as he picks up the defense a little bit, he could be a fan favorite during the rebuilding process & set himself up nicely in Beantown. Also... I do love the hair. Players in the WNBA can't rock the locks like this guy can...
14. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Utah) – Shabazz Muhammed – Guard from UCLA – For the first time in recent memory, former GM David Kahn didn’t do silly as things on draft day for the T’Wolves. The new guy stepped in & took a bit of a gamble by drafting Shabazz. Seen him play a bit, he’s a scorer… but needs to handle his defense, otherwise he may be a flash in the pan kind of player. The thing is… everybody says he has character issues or doesn’t play hard… but when you’re playing for free when you know you should be getting paid for it… sometimes you take that attitude. That’s just how it is. Now that he’s getting paid… dare I say it… possibly Harrison Barnes type player? I also like that they drafted Gorgui Dieng (# 21 Center from Louisville) who is a defensive BEAST!!! They really needed one in Minneapolis. Just grab boards & play defense… he could be the next Adonal Foyle kind of player… and you know I like those kind of role players.
16. Atlanta Hawks (from Boston) – Lucas Nogueira – Center from Brazil – The Hawks are looking to make some major moves this offseason with free agents in a few weeks… but they started Thursday by drafting a project big from Brazil. He has the Sideshow Bob hair like Anderson Varajeo but other than that, I have no idea what his skills are. They also picked up one of the top points guards in Dennis Schroeder (#17 guard from Germany) who I never heard of before, but I also REALLY like them getting Mike Muscala (#44 Center from Bucknell) in the 2nd round. He’s a big solid guy who was the focal point of his team in college, but not really against he best competition (Patriot League). He seems like one of those mid-major guys who might do well at the next level though.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Mason Plumlee (center from Duke) – I’m just gonna say it… Brooklyn looks f**king FIERCE for next year now. They had a very good core with point guard Deron Williams, two-guard Joe Johnson & center Brook Lopez… then they pulled trading most of their bench to get Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce to fill the forward positions… so their whole lineup has multiple All-Star games appearances… and they solidify their front court by picking a player that I thought didn’t get a lot of respect in Mason Plumlee from Duke. He’s big, physical, skilled on offense & defense, he should be a great fit coming off the bench for the next few years. Maybe even an upgrade from Kris Humphries who they traded away for Garnett & Pierce. I like it. Big ups to Brooklyn! THE ROC IS THE BUILDING!!!
24. New York Knicks – Tim Hardaway jr – Guard from Michigan – Another one of those “If he’s HALF as good as his dad was…” players but Tim Bug Junior should be able to step in as the backup point guard for the Knicks right from the get-go since Jason Kidd retired & Raymond Felton could give him some good veteran tips. I like the pick… but being the son of a Hall of Famer in the Big Apple could be a lot of pressure too. I’m sure he’ll handle it well.
28. San Antonio Spurs - Livio Jean-Charles – Forward from France – My exact response: “Who the f**k is Livio Jean-Charles?” Not the first time that I’ve had that reaction to a Spurs pick (don’t watch a lot of international 19-and-under basketball) but hey, I’ve also reacted to some of their picks like “Who the f**k is Tony Parker? A FRENCH GUY?” or “Who the f**k is Emmanuel Ginobili? Are they drafting a soccer team?” Continue to prove me wrong, Spurs. Continue to prove me wrong. I also like the pick of Deshaun Thomas (#58 forward from Ohio State) late in the 2nd round. He could be a solid bench performer.
Aside from that, not a whole lot more to say about the draft other than I’m excited for basketball to start again… and they’ve been really building up the draft for 2014 already. Fun fact: Anthony Bennett, this year’s #1 pick, is Canadian (along with #13 pick Kelly Olynyk). Yup… and next year’s consensus #1 pick & the “next LeBron” Andrew Wiggins… also hails from Canada. Could there be a Canadian invasion in the NBA? We shall see…
NBA 2K13 Update: So… we swept the Nuggets in the NBA Finals… even though I’m still learning the controls of the game for the most part. I see opponents doing certain moves & I’m like “I wanna do that… how do I do that? Where do I go to learn these things?” They have little tutorials from Hall of Famers during the career that you can purchase… and I’ve used them… but I feel like I’m more like “what does the circle button really do?” and there are helpful (yet often confusing) tips throughout game play sometimes… but it’s the same 5-6 over & over with tips like “To box out, hold L2 and blah blah blah” to which I reply “Yeah, I’ve been doing it. Now why are my layups not going in? How do I do a spin move? How about some post plays?” Still, I’m learning… and the game is still real fun & exciting… at least to me. After my 2nd second… comes contract negotiations for my REAL contract. Also, I have to figure out how I get Monta Ellis & Brandon Jennings to pass AT LEAST once on offense before they throw their fade away corner shots. Not without its flaws… but still a solid game.
Have a great day everybody!!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Move Over Mississippi

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
I’m sure that you’ve all heard the news… but Proposition 8 has passed & now it’s legal for same-sex couples to marry in the state of California… and living in the city of San Francisco… and with Pride Festival being this weekend… you can probably guess that the city is pretty excited about it. I’m guessing that the wedding business in the city could triple in the next year… but realistically, I don’t see a whole changing other than employee benefits being adjusted & Republicans trying to repeal it or something… again. Congratulations! Now you can marry… next stop, the vote. What’s that? Oh homosexuals can already vote? And drive cars? And basically anything else? Cool… so I never have to hear about oppression of their people ever again? Don’t tell me that there’s never been a gay President either… lest we forget James Buchanan (and maybe a few others that were bi-curious). Congratulations! You’ve achieved equality! It’s ugh… it’s kinda like graduating high school… but I’ll let it surprise you.
NBA 2K13 Update: Well, apparently the game simulates everything after the All-Star break… so during the break, I helped lead my team to victory in the Rising Stars Challenge, lost horribly in the Slam Dunk Contest (some kind of Guitar Hero code command thing, but an interesting twist) & after the fast forward… I didn’t win Rookie of the Year (remember the 12 minute simulations vs 5 minute quarters in my games?) but still made the All-Rookie 1st Team. Boom! Then we swept the Raptors in the 1st round, beat the Bulls in five games the 2nd round & swept the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Finals… so now the Milwaukee Bucks are in the NBA Finals for the first time since Lew Alcindor & the Big O Oscar Robertson were playing over 40 years ago. You’re welcome, Cream City! Yes, that’s their nickname… look it up. I could’ve went with Beertown or something… but Old Milwaukee sucks… and Cream City is MUCH funnier.
I also watched a great documentary called “Undefeated” last night. This movie follows the story of Manassas High School in North Memphis, Tennessee. The area is among the worst neighborhoods in the U.S. with regards to poverty, violence & all that mess… and the football team isn’t funded well. So a volunteer coach named Bill Courtney decided to put some of his own money in to help out… and definitely a LOT of his time to help kids without positive role models to make the most with their lives, to learn about discipline, character & other fantastic traits through team sports… and just to overcome being a teenager & the mentality that you’re not able to do anything. Yes, every single player is African-American. I know, spoiler alert… it’s a low income area. Yes, the coach is wealthy & white… so parts of it have that “Blind Side” vibe… but it really is a fantastic story about people coming together to help each other & offers some lessons about how team sports really can help people & among the top problems in low income areas is that they don’t see a way out. Or they find that it’s difficult… so they give up. It’s tragic… but this story is really good & told extremely well. I think they won an Academy Award or something for it. Check it out. Speaking of kids in horrible environments…
Move Over Mississippi – Kids, have you ever thought “This is the WORST place to live to be a kid?” Well, chances are… if you were in America when you said that, you’re an idiot or had never heard of places like… I don’t know… Afrika! Maybe it was something like “This place sucks! This has to be the worst place in the free world!” Well, unless you lived in Mississippi, you were probably wrong… but there’s good news for the children of Mississippi. Your state is no longer the worst place to be a kid! (Fireworks & confetti) That’s because a new set of annual rankings on children’s welfare says another state has dethroned Mississippi's perennial hold on the bottom ranking of the Kids Count list. For the past 24 years, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has used a series of 16 indicators to rank the well-being of children in all 50 U.S. states. This year’s edition is the first to not place Mississippi at 50 out of 50 on the list, citing gains in health and education. Congratulations!!! Then again, don’t get too excited, Mississippi is still No. 49 on the list. The foundation also noted that a third of Mississippi’s children continue to live in poverty. By comparison, 13% of New Hampshire’s children are listed as living at or below the poverty level. On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts finished at the top of the children’s well-being list. Yay New England!!! Mississippi was humble in praise of their accomplishment of not being the worst though. “While we are not where we need to be, the fact that our child and teen death rate, along with some decrease in the percentage of children without health insurance has been helpful,” Mississippi Kids Count Director Linda Southward told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. There also appears to be an overall improving trend in the South. Louisiana, which was 46th on the list, is the only other Southern state to finish in the bottom five.
So who is the new champion state of childhood misery? Why, it’s the Land of Enchantment – New Mexico (as seen on “Breaking Bad”). The Southwest has fared poorly on the test with three of the bottom-five states as New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada. Southward (ironic last name, right?) said Mississippi saw its gains through improvement in the number of children enrolled in preschool and general student improvements in math for eighth-graders and reading for fourth-graders. Overall, Mississippi was 48th in the Kids Count educational rankings. However, it did not see any economic gains during the same period, continuing to rank 50th on that list. “The evidence is clear—we help children by helping families,” Southward said. “The importance of quality child care, fully funding education  opportunities for children and promoting evidence-based practices, underscored by economic development, is crucial to continued outcomes.” This year’s rankings were based on national data compiled between 2005-2011. For those years, Mississippi’s numbers improved across eight of the 16 statistical areas measured. Overall, the United States improved in 10 of the categories during the same period. Mississippi saw other gains on the list, including a drop in teen pregnancy rates and a drop in its infant mortality rate that has shown an improvement outpacing the national average. “We are still woefully behind the country in reading proficiencies, and the high percentage of high school students not graduating on time continues to be of concern,” Southward said. So there you go… children don’t like the South. Speaking of education…

Concrete Canoes - Does concrete float? For the hundreds of civil engineering students at the annual National Concrete Canoe Competition, the answer is "yes." Teams representing 23 schools vied last week to design, build and race canoes made of concrete. Some vessels were as long as 22 feet and weighed as much as 180 pounds. A wooden canoe of the same size weighs about 40 pounds. Alicia Welling, manager of the California Polytechnic State University team, says the trick to making concrete float is to mix it with glass bubbles and other lightweight objects (like a regular canoe?). Welling says the three-day American Society of Civil Engineers event gives students practical experience in finding creative engineering solutions and working as part of a team. L'École de Technologie Supérieure, of Montreal, took the title Saturday. VIVA QUEBEC!!! Sounds like a cool day on the river, right? This story made me think of my wonderful trip out to Santa Cruz for my birthday last year… specifically Aptos & the sunken concrete ship. Remember?
Own a Piece of History - A collection of items used in the investigation of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky's sexual encounters with then U.S. President Bill Clinton is being auctioned online, Nate D. Sanders Auctions said on Monday. The 32-item collection was submitted by Lewinsky's former lover Andy Bleiler to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr during his investigation of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal in the 1990s, the auction house said in a statement. Lewinsky's affair with married man Bleiler (shocker!) came to light during the investigation that led to Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998 on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Clinton was acquitted by the Senate, and completed his second term in 2001. Among the items up for auction is a signed Clinton letter to the Bleilers. Wait, what? Signed Clinton letters… to the married guy… who was banging the chick that he was also banging? Do they start out “Dear Eskimo brother…”? Also included in the auction are photographs and cards from Lewinsky and clothing gifted by Lewinsky to Bleiler's wife Kate Nason, who is putting them up for sale, the auction house said. "Items owned by Monica Lewinsky, especially relating to the Clinton scandal and Ken Starr investigation are exceedingly rare," auctioneer Nate D. Sanders said in a statement. "This is, to my knowledge, the only collection of this nature to come to light." The items are expected to fetch between $25,000 and $50,000 in total. Online bidding for the lot began earlier this month and concludes on June 27, the auction house said. Lewinsky, 39, has largely remained out of the spotlight in recent years after moving to Britain… where it’s expected that a man in power has a few mistresses on the sly. Sorry kids… among the items NOT included in the auction are… the “slightly used” blue dress. You know what dress I’m talking about… eh? Yeah, you know… I think it’s in the Smithsonian or something already.
Anyway, that’ll do it for today. Wish me luck in the NBA Finals on NBA 2K13… I think I’m playing the winner of the Nuggets-Thunder series (my guess is Thunder because the newest member of the Roc Nation Kevin Durant is on the cover… but we shall see). Tomorrow night is a special preview screening of “Pacific Rim” which Dizzy & I are excited about... sorta. Have a great day everybody!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
This weekend was pretty laid back… Friday night was a party at one of Dizzy’s friend’s for her birthday… and it was Hawaiian luau themed… so we had a good time & I got to break out the Hawaiian shirts. I hadn’t really worn them in a few years. It was really good to catch up with some of Dizzy’s friends that were there. Saturday, we went to hang out with one of her aunts whose dog had been mauled by pitbulls a few days earlier. Don’t worry, I know pitbulls are adorable creatures who wouldn’t hurt a fly as Facebook keeps telling me… but then again, some of them aren’t… and if these pieces of sh*t (and/or their owners) end up as part of a Sesame Chicken special at Chef’s some time soon, then it’s all good… but until then, it’s not. Keep your pits on a f**king leash or I’m putting them on a f**king noose… in front of your kids. You’ve been warned!
Anyway, we watched the Giants game on TV and cracked a few beers… and her dog Casper is doing pretty good considering. He looks like a white furry Frankenstein (don’t worry, not going to show you pictures) but still a sweet puppy. After that, we headed over to some batting cages near Dizzy’s house. See, the softball season starts up again in a few weeks (TBD actually, but soon) and the only time that I get any batting practice in… is during the games. So we tried out this place near Clothing Broker in Jacuzzi Street… and it was pretty nice. We did about 40-50 swings each and after getting warmed up (literally, it was kind of a warm day & mugging in the cages) I started ripping them pretty good… so I’m excited for the new year with softball. We have a championship to defend after all.
That night, we watched “The Mayor of the Sunset Strip” about a guy named Rodney Bingenheimer who… from what I could tell… was basically a kind of groupie mastermind who just kinda popped up all over the Sunset Strip & hung out with rocks stars from about 1962 to the present. He went on tour with the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, helped them all get noticed & helped set the Rock & Roll scene in LA for a while… and along the way had a few interesting endeavors. The documentary has him & a lot of these rock stars reminiscing about old times & current times as he’s still a DJ with KROQ in LA but… times are always a changing (and according to Adam Carolla, KROQ is f**king retarded) but it was very interesting to me… and an interesting research project for a person. He seemed very… I don’t know… he just didn’t seem like he should be famous… but he is… and he also seems to be portrayed to have mommy issues but… then again, don’t we all? Anyway, give it a look. It was interesting.
Another documentary I watched on Netflix was “Knuckleball” starring the likes of R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro & some of the other men who carried on the “tradition” of this pitch that… from what I can tell, isn’t used very often in baseball… but when it is used, can be a VERY effective change of pace… or basically batting practice for the other team. It goes over the history, the stigma, and most interestingly the life stories & career paths of these pitchers. Basically, there’s really no such thing as a pure knuckleball pitcher. All of these guys went through high school, college & even the early pros as standard baseball players, whether pitching fastballs & curveballs… or in Wakefield’s case, he was a power hitting 1st baseman in college & that’s what he was drafted as. However, they ran into hard times once they got to the pros… and had to do something to keep their dream alive… and that was basically be a knuckleball pitcher & pray that a team would take a change on them… or go home & get a real job. Very interesting flick if you’re into sports.
What this movie made me think about was about versatile athletes & what they will do to play the games that they love. I mean… Tim Wakefield could’ve tried to stick to being a 1st baseman… and he probably would’ve been out of the league by 25… and he just retired about a year ago at the age of 46 with MILLIONS!!! It happens in basketball all the time too. Some player will be a hot shot scoring threat in high school & college… because he’s the biggest fish in that pond that’s UC-Irvine or wherever small college they play at. Then, when they make it to the pros, everybody in the league was that big fish… and most of them in bigger ponds… so if you’re trying to be the guy who takes every shot, then you’re not going to last too long at all. There can only be one, maybe two, once in a great while three guys who will put up serious scoring numbers day in & day out… and it takes more than just scoring to win a game. That’s when guys that are considered “specialists” like… shutdown defenders like Bruce Bowen, Raja Bell, Luol Deng and the like who play defense on the scoring stars & then on offense basically just pass around the system or hit corner threes or… the guys that used to come in basically to foul Shaq six times to send him to the free throw line or use their massive physiques to try to keep him & others out of the lane… yet on offense, if they didn’t rebound the ball, then they didn’t get it. Or facilitating point guards like “Muggsy” Bogues & Scott Skiles back in the day who basically had two jobs, dish out assists to other people… and don’t turn the ball over. They weren’t going to physically dominate anybody… but with smart play combined with their teamwork, they had wonderful careers. The great Manute Bol who would block shots, rebound… and on offense, just stand out of the way on the 3 point line & once in a while when the shot clock was running down, they’d bail it to him & he’d heave it up awkwardly & fairly accurately. The poetic Adonal Foyle, who went from among the leading scorers in college to just playing defense & writing prose for over a decade in the NBA. Many similar stories… but all pretty interesting in their own way. Which leads me to Thursday night…
Basketball’s Christmas on Thursday!!! Looking at this year’s draft class, there seems like there may be a LOT of players that are these kind of role fillers. Not really superstars… maybe one or two have the potential… but still looks like it could be a great group of various talents coming into the league for next year. However, I’ll wait until Friday or something to elaborate on some of these players & how they’ll fit with the teams that drafted them. There’s always trades & stuff going on to so… we’ll see.
NBA 2K13 Update: So… at one point, the Milwaukee Bucks were 14-11… then Monta Ellis (ball hog) got hurt & I stepped into the starting lineup legitimately… and then we won 15 games in a row… and now we’re sitting at something like 38-14 & within a game of the best record in the league. I’m starting to get the hang of the game… and have basically decided that it punishes you for trying to do everything (though seriously, if anybody else on my team would play some f**king defense it’d be sweet) but I’m hitting free throws from time to time now, learning the defensive quirks, basically doing great all around games & I’ve got a PER of well over 30 now. Monta’s back now… which means that I’m only going to get about 8 shots per game between him & Brandon Jennings throwing up anything without passing once… but hey, as long as those 8 shots go in, that’ll do just fine.
Lastly, the people who interviewed for roommates over the past few weeks have all bailed… but there’s another guy that I met last night who seems pretty legit & may be moving in next week. We’ll call him K-Dogg. He’s in his mid-20’s, born & raised in Korea, but speaks probably better English than I do, very nice, has a degree in Engineering & Economics, great job that takes him around the world… so yeah, hopefully he passes the background check (caught more than you would think) and he’ll be the newest roommate for a bit. Anyway, that’ll do it for tonight.

Where Should I Go Next?