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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Obituary for Someone Who isn't Dead

Today is a very important date.

Today is the 1 week Anniversary of Conan O'Brien signing off from Late Nite with Conan O'Brien for good. Conan isn't done with entertainment, late night television, or NBC. As a matter of fact, Conan is actually being promoted, in a sense, to the 11:30 slot to host the hallowed Tonight Show.

But for some reason, it really feels like Conan is gone. He tearfully thanked everyone who helped him, said his goodbyes and has remained absent from the public eye for seven days.

So now, since the timing feels right and I may not get the chance later, I would like to say a little about Conan O'Brien and how he has impacted my life. 

I remember the first time I watched Late Nite very clearly. 

It was Christmas night....not Christmas Eve's night, but Christmas night, 2002 (I guess the timing technically makes it December 26, 2002). Anyway, it was Christmas  and I was laying down on the family room couch puking my guts out. I had overindulged quite a bit on chocolates and sweets that Holy Day and was now dearly paying the price for it. My new sleeping bag was covered  in vomit, the four clementines I had just consumed were no longer in my body, I was miserable and my mother just happened to have the TV tuned to a peculiar late night program with a tall, pallid Irishman. As I recovered and rehydrated from my regurgitory episode I watched and laughed as Conan O'Brien toured the suburbs of upstate New York looking for awful Christmas decorations. From that day on I developed an intense taste aversion toward clementines.....but I also had an equally intense love for Conan O'Brien.

Most kids probably look forward to summer for the sunshine, activities and freedom of school, but I always looked forward to summer because it meant I would be able to stay up late enough to watch Late Nite. Indeed, every summer from 8th Grade through Junior year of High School, I would stay up until 1:30 in the morning to watch Conan, then wake up around noon the next day. I actually loathed the weekends because it meant there was nothing for me to do during late nights , other than, you know: sleep.

Much of my humor has undoubtedly been shamelessly stolen from Conan O'Brien. I know for a fact that Conan taught me how to be self-deprecating, almost to the point of being self-flagellating. Conan taught me that cheesy could be long as you acknowledged that it was cheesy. And Conan taught me that writing was a legitimate career and one worth pursuing. And above all: Conan's Late Nite years were just damn hilarious. When NBC merged with Universal and Conan O'Brien met Walker, Texas Ranger it was the easily the best pairing since Harry met Sally or Peanut Butter met Jelly.

I applaud Conan O'Brien for his accomplishments and thank him for his unique role in my generation's lives. I also pray that he upholds his promise not to "grow up."

Because if he doesn't, there's hope for us too.

Now how's this for a blast from the past?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Happy Muck Fiami Day

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's Nemesis Time!

The dreaded Red Menace from the North is descending upon our sleepy, innocent village to corrupt our morals, disrespect our women and kidnap our children. 

And I love every minute of it!

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I am partial to epic struggles between dichotomous forces. So tonight's 7:00 meeting/brawl between the Ohio Bobcats and the Miami Redhawks is right up my alley. 

Who can't possibly enjoy a rivalry between in-state rivals? They're the bad guys and we're the good guys. They are the haves and we are the have-nots. They are the Goliaths and we are the Davids (although, let it be known that Ohio leads the all-time meetings between the two). 

The weather is nice, the Indians began Spring Training yesterday and I am wearing my new Indians Spring Training jersey but for at least a 2 hour time-span today, I will be in a cramped, hot Arena watching a sport that I don't particularly care that much about.

Such is the power of the inter-collegiate rivalry. By identifying that we hate "them" it completely re-defines "us" and makes us a little greener.

Basically, the whole reason I have babbled about the Red Menace up to this point (aside from the fact that I have nothing to write about today) is so that I could link the Post's excellent editorial today.

As a Backdropper, I share a special distrust for The Post and all of its Posty ways but I must say that this editorial is absolutely magical and just makes me even more excited for tonight's game. Well done, Post.

And I'll see everyone at tonight's clash between good and evil.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sentence Samurai

A customary Collective(ly) Unconscious golf-clap goes out to President Obama. 

His Address to Congress last night was a moderate success and he brought up many of the issues that perk my ears up.  Namely, he framed many of his plans through the eyes of normal Americans, saying many of the things we can fix come down to personal responsibility. I particularly liked his stance on education It isn't the Federal Government's fault if a nation full of deadbeat dad's and uneducated mothers aren't pushing their kids to go to school. Well done, Barack, you didn't say anything I haven't heard before but you said it well. 

Really, the only issue I took with his Address last night was his assertion that "government is the solution." I admire him for sticking by his convictions, but come on, dude, we all know that is waaaay too liberal. If you really want a bi-partisan Congress, you are going to want to relax your rhetoric on the one fundamental issue that separates Congress. Republicans and Democrats can put aside their differences on many issues and work together but the role of government in Americans' lives is one fundamental concept they can't compromise on. And it is only going to hurt bi-partisanship if the President of the United States picks a clear side.

Other than that, snafu, good job.

It has only been a few weeks but I have been impressed with Obama so far. The Journalist in me appreciates one promise of his in particular (keep in mind that one month in, a "promise" is all it is). Obama says that this will be the most transparent and accessible executive branch in recent history. If Barack can follow through on this promise, I will be insanely impressed.

Especially after all the issues with this current Ohio University administration...

“This is a very sore subject for me, and perhaps it’s time we started pushing back. And I am quite serious; I am even unsure that we should provide the next document without a fight. It sickens me to think of the waste and unproductive time being spent in the name of open records and freedom of the press.”

This is a quote I gleefully stole from SPJ's excellent blog. Contrary to what you are probably thinking right now, the speaker of the quote is not the Antichrist but OU Board Chairman Daniel Dewalder. I would love to analyze this quote further, but I cannot possibly articulate the fury and exasperation in my soul. And you, dear reader, have probably already realized the sadness of having a major University Board Chairman not realizing what the First Amendment of the U.S-FREAKING-CONSTITUTION says clearly. 

I am sorry the freedom of the press is such a pain in the ass to you, I really am.

What really interests me about this quote is who said it though. If Joe Schmoe on the street says freedom of the press is a waste of time then I don't quite react as strongly as I do now. Truth be told, I am fascinated by people in people: Chairman Dewalder, President McDavis, President Obama, it doesn't matter. They are all clearly exceptional bright individuals to have achieved the level of power that they have and I am interested in seeing just what they will do to STAY in power. There are many things people will do to stay in power.

Enraging the press aint one of 'em.

If the pen is truly mightier than the sword, then why alienate and cast-out the largest organizations of pen-wielders on campus? If Daniel Dewalder wouldn't walk into a room full of Samurai and say "ponytails and robes are gay," then why would he say the freedom of the press is a waste of time in a town of 3 newspapers, 2 magazines, dozens of Journalistic organizations and the most renowned and successful Journalism School in Ohio? There has been a metaphorical loaded gun pointed at the head of the McDavis administration since I arrived on campus.

And Daniel Dewalder may have finally pulled the trigger on it.

Speaking of the press...check out this article that was published on yesterday about OU hip-hop artist NIG-Unit. Now check out an article that the Post published today.

Look familiar?

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Commie, Homo-Loving Sons-of-Guns"


That's how I did for my first ever (published) Oscar Predictions. I can't say that such a number vaults me to the "King of the Internet" level that I was hoping for but I am okay with it. The Oscars aren't necessarily a crap-shoot, most categories can be whittled down to about 2 or 3 realistic options and films have a certain "buzz" going in, so guessing the films is not as difficult as picking 1 winner amongst 4 losers.

If it WERE a total crap-shoot, the odds of guessing any category right would be 20% and the odds of guessing ALL categories would be less than a percentage point. But as things stand, I would gauge that guessing  50% of the categories correctly would be the the norm, guessing the 60-70% range is respectable, 70-80% is excellent, 80-90% is Christ-like and 90-100% cannot be done by any man, creature or deity in this dimension or any other.

So, I must say that I am satisfied with guessing two-thirds of the categories right. Here are the categories I got wrong this year (I didn't guess the three "short" film categories because those ARE a crap-shoot)

SONG - Down to Earth – Jai Ho 
VISUAL EFFECTS - The Dark Knight – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 
COSTUME DESIGN – Milk – The Duchess 
CINEMATOGRAPHY - The Dark Knight – Slumdog Millionaire 
FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM - Waltz with Bashir - Departures
DOCUMENTARY - Trouble the Water – Man on Wire 
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Viola Davis – Penelope Cruz

There are a few things I should have guessed here that I didn't. I was a little too confident with The Dark Knight and not confident enough about Slumdog. I had Dark Knight winning two categories that it didn't (Visual Effects and Cinematography) and had Slumdog losing out on two categories in which it won (Best Song and Best Cinematography). If I had a chance to do things over, I DEFINITELY would have picked "Jai Ho" to win Best Song (I mean, really: what was I thinking?) and I don't know if I think I put too much of my own personal biases into the Cinematography pick. Documentary was an idiot choice by me, I got too cute with it....same with the Best Supporting Actress pick. NO one saw the Best Foreign Language film coming and I could have done worse with Visual Effects.

As for what I got right, most were pretty obvious and not too difficult. I guessed 7 of the big 8 correctly, although I am willing to bet there were many out there who guessed all 8 correctly. One thing I got right that I am confident very few others did as well were the sound categories. Sound Mixing and Sound Editing usually go to the same film but by some divine intervention , I guessed correctly that this would be the year that they wouldn't. The Dark Knight had to pick up a win somewhere

At least now I have a baseline (67%) to measure all my future predictions against....and trust me: there will be future predictions.

Now as for the show itself...

I thought it went very, very well. Hugh Jackman was an excellent host, so much to the point where it seems almost unfair. So he's attractive, Australian, charismatic, talented actor, talented, singer, talented dancer, and can host the hell out of a show? Why does one man get to have so much? I am almost hoping that the Australian media uncovers a sweat-shop in his name. Petulant jealousy aside, the intro was very funny....the best part being Anne Hathaway as a sexy Richard Nixon.

The rest of the show ran smoothly enough. Sure, they went a little bit over, but they always do. Normally, I have a problem with all the self-indulgent clips that the Academy shows, only because it takes time away from winner's to give a speech they have been waiting to give their whole lives. Last night, it seemed like Oscar gave everyone ample time to speak and I can only think of one or two folks that had the music start to play them off. The clips that they DID show were predictably mediocre, except for Judd Apatow's skit for the Year in Comedy...which I think I will watch 124320324 more times online before it is all said and done (James Franco watching James Franco kissing Sean Penn was classic).

The speeches were solid all around but the best went to the Milk boys, Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn. Black's was clearly heartfelt and the cameras even caught him being a little weepy when Penn won. I usually don't appreciate Sean Penn's political grand-standing in speeches but I really appreciated what he had to say this time: he was perfectly humble, self-conscious and spoke earnestly about a subject that should be important to us all.

But there was clearly one MVP of the night: Danny-freaking-Boyle. The camera was in love with Boyle last night, cutting to his delirious smiles every time someone from Slumdog won. And then when you factor in his Tigger-jump upon winning the award for Best Director, you have the sure-fire formula for Oscar greatness. God bless any candidate that reminds me of Lucky the Leprechaun.

What a show, people, what a show. Slumdog Millionaire finished with 8, Benjamin Button finished with 3 and Milk and The Dark Knight finished third with 2. All in all, I must say I am reasonably happy with this year's show. The only sad part is that today had to happen. I can only equate February 23rd of 2009 as like the day after Christmas every year. How do you deal with the fact that your favorite day of the year is 364 days away (give or take)?

I guess you just start watching movies again.

I got Public Enemies in 2010!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday Morning Links pt. 23

I must say, Internet, I am pretty disappointed with the reaction to my Oscar prediction blog.

To call it "lackluster" would be inaccurate because that actually implies that there was any kind of feedback at all. A more appropriate term would be "non-existent".

Come on, guys! This is an event nearly 19 years in the making. I am staking my entire reputation, nay, my entire LIFE on the outcome of these predictions. This is my attempt to become the Undisputed Media and Entertainment king of the Blogosphere. I need support in this grand ambition.

I considered withholding your Sunday Morning Links this week to punish you, but I don't think anyone actually enjoys it, so actually publishing one would be a worse punishment.

- Surprise, surprise, George W. is not ranked as the best President of all time.

- The Onion may have outdone themselves on this one. I don't think there is a better beacon of Journalistic quality than the Onion right now.

- In an age of declining readership and ad-revenue, there is really only one stat that matters to newspapers anymore. What an awesome list!

- Speaking of awesome lists, Entertainment Weekly counts down the Top 25 best active film directors

- And finally, you knew something like this was going to happen soon.

That's all for today. Go read my Oscar prediction column. I am going to be breathing into a brown paper bag to still my nerves until 8:00.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Time of Reckoning Has Come....

Back in the Dark Ages when I did not have a blog, I dearly wish I had.

And there were only two reasons I knew I must have one. The first was to publish my HUUUUGE Major League Baseball Preview so everyone could see how smart I was at predicting baseball results. And the second reason was to publish my Oscar predictions.

Now that day has come.

Yes, I will be watching the Oscars, despite my prior pledge not to. I am not happy, but I am watching it because I HAVE to. The Oscars are my Super Bowl. As a matter of fact, I would rather have had NBC aired last year's Oscar ceremonies instead of this year's Super Bowl (freaking Steelers). The show is just such an integral part of my year that I don't know how to live without it. I am pathetic, but this is simply my lot in life and I must accept it. The Oscars try to infuriate me enough to run away and I keep on coming back for more.  

So with that in mind, here are my Oscar predictions. I will analyze the 8 "main" races and simply post my predictions for the rest. For the 8 main races, winners are in bold while who I think should win are in italics.

This is the big one, folks, if I don't do well on this, I will retire from blogging.

Wish me luck!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader
I have seen 4 of these films. I have not and will not see The Reader (I refuse to support any film that stole The Dark Knight's rightful nomination). I absolutely loathed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and I like but didn't love Milk. So for me that personally leaves Slumdog and Frost/Nixon. I loved, repeat, loved  both of these films. For a little while I thought I like Frost/Nixon a little bit better but then I saw Slumdog again and now I know that it is one of the Top 5 movies of the year and is easily the best of these 5. I do feel kind of salty though. About two months ago, before I saw Slumdog for the first time (and when Benjamin Button was the Oscar front-runner) I told my family that it was going to steal the Oscar away from Benji Button. Back then, that was quite a prediction. Now, Slumdog Millionaire is the obvious choice to win. If it doesn't, it will probably be the biggest upset since Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan more than a decade ago.

Gus Van Sant - Milk
Stephen Daldry - The Reader
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Again, another no-brainer. Not only does the winner of Best Picture usually take Best Director as well, but Slumdog Millionaire has its Director's fingerprints all over it. Danny Boyle constantly has the camera in motion on this flick and that gives Oscar voters something very tangible to point to and say "this is a well-directed movie." And they are right for thinking so. I would like to take this opportunity to point out as well though that Ron Howard Directed the hell out of Frost/Nixon. Frost/Nixon absolutely rocks and Ron Howard can take as much credit as anybody for that.

Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
This really comes down to Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke and no one else. Ultimately, I think the Academy will go with Penn as he is the safer choice. I like both performances a lot but it is extremely hard to figure out which is better because the roles are so different. Penn takes a publicly known figure and imbues him with a charismatic humanity while Rourke creates an authentic character from the ground up. Both performances are great but I am going to have to go with Rourke because he is literally the only person on Planet Earth who could have played his character. Imagine Adrien Brody or Johnny Depp as Harvey Milk. Doesn't sound too implausible, does it? Now try to imagine anyone else who could have played Randy "The Ram" Robinson in The Wrestler. Having trouble? That's because Mickey Rourke was the only one who could.

Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - The Reader
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
I just realized I haven't seen any of these films. So...Winslet will win because the Academy loves her. Hathaway should win because I think she's pretty.

Josh Brolin - Tropic Thunder
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road
May God have mercy on any man who wins this award not named Heath Ledger. I love Ledger's performance, you love Ledger's performance, the Academy loves Ledger's performance. Heath was electric as the Joker and when you factor in the fact that this is the last opportunity the Academy has to honor him, he may be a unanimous winner. Heath should win, he will win and when he does we will all have to make peace with the fact that the creativity community has lost of its most talented members forever. What a shame.

Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
Viola Davis - Doubt
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Christina Barcelona
Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I looooooved Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler. That was an excellent film and would have been just as good if Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei were literally the only two actors in the film and played every part. Most people seem to be gravitating towards Penelope Cruz, but if the Academy doesn't choose her in '06 for Volver than I don't think they choose her this year as well, especially considering she is Vicky Christina Barcelona's sole nomination. Viola Davis received some extremely early Awards buzz then cooled off and she will shock the world when the Academy remembers that buzz and chooses her. 

Frozen River
In Bruges
I would love for Wall-E to rise up from the Best Animated Film ghetto to win Best Original Screenplay. Wall-E is such a beautiful film and had such a strong screenplay that the first 30 minutes didn't have any dialogue and was still entertaining. Milk is the clear winner though, not only because it is the only Best Picture nominee in this category but because there was a long history of unsatisfactory Milk screenplays before unknown-Dustin Lance Black stepped to the plate and wrote a script worthy of shooting. I didn't think the script was that great but I admire Dustin Lance Black's story and respect the fact that it was a difficult screenplay to nail down. I can live with Milk but Wall-E would be better.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader
I could actually see Harvey Weinstein's campaigning paying off with a Best Adapted Screenplay win for The Reader, but I am banking on the fact that this is going to be Slumdog's night. Slumdog Millionaire is racking up preliminary and Guild awards at an unprecedented pace and the Best Adapted Screenplay rightfully belongs to it. I agree with the choice. Simon Beaufoy crafted a crazy-entertaining and creative screenplay that Danny Boyle turned into a wonderful movie.

DOCUMENTARY - Trouble the Water
EDITING - Slumdog Millionaire
ART DIRECTION - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
MAKE-UP - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SCORE - Slumdog Millionaire
SONG - Down to Earth - Wall-E
VISUAL EFFECTS - The Dark Knight
SOUND - The Dark Knight
SOUND MIXING - Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire - 6
The Dark Knight -4
Milk - 3
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - 2
Wall-E - 2

Please, Internet Gods, I do not ask for much...just let me be the King of Oscar Predictions this year. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Backdrop Drops!

You, yeah you....what are you doing reading this blog?

It is Backdrop Day, Athens, Ohio, MidWest, United States, North America, Western Hemisphere, World. Everyone must go to College Gate right now and pick up a copy. right NOW. I will wait.....................

Okay, got it? Doesn't it rock? I knew you'd love it! And that's not the best part. This is one new added wrinkle to this release date that is making this Blogger's heart flutter. Backdrop now has a website. If that link wasn't good enough for you, you can find the permanent link to the right of this website, where it will remain 'til the end of time...or at least until Meningitis claims all our lives. 

So no blog today at The Collective(ly) Unconscious. Instead, you must head over to the Backdrop URL and do some exploring. You can find: every story from today's issue, every story from the three other Backdrop issues, extra web content from this issue's stories and exclusive content written for the web. And if you do enough digging, you might be able to find something written by yours truly.

Happy Backdrop Day, everyone!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Athens, Land of Inflamed Spinal Cords

This is a nice little picture, courtesy of (who else) Wikipedia, that shows the "Meningitis Belt" of the world. It looks like we will have to add one more region to that list. I know it will be small and would barely be visible on a World Map, but Athens, Ohio is now part of the fabled Meningitis Belt.

A few days ago, two students on South Green (Be still, Internet, I am on East Green) tested positive for Bacterial Meningitis and were promptly taken to hospitals in Columbus. So now, here we are, living in a Dawn of the Dead-like atmosphere where we walk the streets in fear of encountering a bacteria-carrying Zombie. This has been news for approximately 48 hours and still every time someone coughs in class or says they have a headache, everyone dives in opposite directions like a pin came off a live grenade and yells "MENINGITIS!"

Now, I don't know if this makes me a terrible human being or just a normal one, but my first reaction when I heard that two of my peers had contracted a life-threatening illness wasn't "Oh, I hope they're okay."

My first reaction went a little more like this...

About four or five months ago, I went to our family Doctor, Dr. Brad, for a quick check-up and physical. After all the temperatures, measurements and awkward questions were administered ("No, I'm not surprised that I am technically 'obese', Dr. Brad and yes, I know how to use a condom), the subject of immunization came up.

Dr. Brad has always been good about cutting through the B.S and telling me what he really thinks, even since I was a kid. So when I told him I had gotten all my immunizations aside from meningitis, he wasn't afraid to tell me, ahem, how he felt.

"Look, you need this immunization. I understand you're a grown-up or whatever now and that decision is entirely up to you but I am telling you right now that you need to get it. You are going to an environment (college) that is the absolute paradise for bacteria like meningitis. The chances of you getting Meningitis are about a million to one, but if you are going to die. So seriously, get the vaccine."

Needless to say, I didn't get the vaccine.

So my first reaction to hearing that there was an "outbreak" on campus was: "If I die from this thing, it will be the single greatest I-told-you-so moment in human history." I can only hope that if I do contract this thing and it puts me six feet under, that Dr. Brad will show up to my funeral and spit on my grave. It is really only fair.

Well, I am going to spend the rest of the day in a self-imposed quarantine. Partly because I don't want to become a Meningitis Zombie and partly because I have a couple of more hours of interviews to transcribe. As I write this, we are T-minus 8:46 away from being launched. I have now seen the beast and it is grand.

Come back tomorrow when I will become a Company Man and take you through the ins and outs of the Backdrop Website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Future, Conan?

There was a throwaway scene in last Thursday's The Office that I found very interesting.

Painfully awkward boss Michael Scott is busy working the lecture circuit for his corporation's regional offices so he could tell other branches how to run a successful paper company (one of the running jokes on The Office is the mysterious success of Michael's branch even though he is clearly incompetent). Michael and secretary Pam make a pit-stop in Nashua, however, so Michael can attempt to reconnect with his former love, Holly, who had to transfer to Nashua when their relationship was exposed.

Long story short, Holly is now involved with another man and is away for the week at a Human Resources retreat or something. Michael is upset (obviously) and makes a visit to Holly's cubicle. Now here is the throwaway scene I am referring to, see if you can anything interesting in it like I did.

Michael pushes Holly's seat in which prompts her Dell's screensaver to disappear, revealing her desktop. On her desktop is a Word Document titled "Dear Michael." Michael seems to consider it for a second then takes a flash-drive out of his pocket and transfers the Word Document onto it to read later.

Find anything strange in that scenario? Aside, of course, of the creepiness factor of it all and the improbability that someone would place a sensitive document on their desktop. I am guessing there is nothing all that bizarre in that paragraph for you. Try pretending, then, that the year is 1990. Then re-read it.

Holy shit, the future just arrived in the dead of night and we didn't realize it.

1990 was the year my life began, and if I had the capacity to read back then and had the opportunity to watch that scene from The Office I think my mind would have melted. Dells? PCs? Screensavers? Desktops? Word Documents? Flash-drives? What the hell is going on? And yet, today we use all these machines and programs and don't even realize that we are living a mid-1900s nerd's wet dream. We live in a Digital Era of constant information and don't appreciate it, hell...we barely even recognize it.

In my Freshman year of High School my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Jones, said "People live through history all the time and don't even realize it.

Now, with 4 more years of experience under my belt, I understand even more what Mr. Jones meant. I understand the time that I live in and it feels right to me. I grew up naturally in this timeline and the technological milestones have come at a pace I can wrap my head around. But if I take a few steps outside of myself and look around, I can clearly see that I live in what every culture's concept of "THE FUTURE" was for the past 4,000 or so years.


Maybe that's why I can't enjoy The Office anymore, maybe I am just approaching everything too philosophically.

Or maybe The Office is just starting to suck.

Either way, I am going to need to keep an eye on this whole Internet thing. Three days until launches!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Links pt. 22

Wow, this is the first time in a long time that I haven't gotten the Sunday Morning Links written and published by 12:00 AM sharp. I would like to take this moment to express my deepest sympathies for the death of my worthless Midnight streak.

Instead of dutifully working on my Sunday Morning Links, I was actually spending time with other human beings. Valentine's Day has become a second Christmas morning for me. After spending the morning hunting for the best donuts in Athens (McHappy's) for my Valentine, I woke her up like a dick at around 10 to throw gifts at her.

Obviously, she had me beat...INDIANS TICKETS, BITCHES.

Valentine's Day freaking rocks! Unless you don't have a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, or hate your girlfriend, or your boyfriend, or lost your legs in a snowmobile accident. At which point you are allowed to hate Valentine's Day. But everybody else, you just have to love Cupid's Birthday, or Hallmark's Ovulation or whatever it is we celebrate on Valentine's Day.

Let's Link it up!

- It's that time again, America! Time to protect our daughters from themselves. I think I may include one of these links in every Sunday Morning Links. Balls in your court, Connie Schultz, I know you love writing about naked cell phone pics. 

- If you ever want to feel better about your life, just read this classic "asshole gets his comeuppance" article over and over and over. "I'm Matt (expletive Bush!"

- So...what's your favorite Celebrity iTunes playlist? 

- Check out whose skyline is on the cover of ABC New's Most Miserable Cities List? I will give you a hint: its the land of the Tribe, flammable lakes and Alec Bojalad.

- Finally, the moment I have been waiting months for. EW's Dave Karger releases his official Oscar prediction article. By Thor's Hammer, I WILL kick Karger's ass this year.

Enjoy your Sunday, I will be up in a few hours and off to Alden Library to help shake the cobwebs off the Backdrop website some more. It is going to melt minds, people, minds.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Storm Before the Calm

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day-The day of love, peace, harmony and friendship.

But that is no reason that today can't suck.

I am not familiar with how the calendar works (Good Lord, what do I know anything about?) but I have to imagine that this is the first time in a while that Friday the 13th has fallen the day before Valentine's Day. I don't know about you but I think that rocks. I think that you enjoy the good days a hell of a lot more when they come after a cosmically destined awful day. 

Now, I don't mean to say that I am having the worst day ever (I have been awake for like 3 hours) but it is a fairly foreboding day up to this point and Planet Earth certainly does not seem to be enjoying herself.

I began my Friday the 13th by seeing The Wrestler. You will have to wait until February 19th, when the Backdrop website is launched, to hear how I felt about it but regardless of whether it sucked or rocked, it was an undeniable downer. So after my brief engagement with Darren Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke, I came back to my room to stroll the Interwebs like I always do. And it turns out I missed quite a bit while I slept.

After avoiding our first deadly commercial plane crash since 2006 about a month ago, America may have jinxed itself because 50 people just died in a Buffalo-area plane crash. Any unnecessary loss of life is a tragedy and it was bad enough to hear that 50 people had died in accidental fashion yesterday, but there was also this little nugget buried in the MSN story that just made things 100 times worse:

"Sue Bourque told The Buffalo News her sister, Beverly Eckert, was aboard the plane. Eckert is the widow of Sean Rooney, who was killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Bourque said that while the family had not yet received official confirmation of her sister's fate, the reality was settling in. "We know she was on that plane," she told the newspaper, "and now she's with him."

God damn it.

Seriously, Friday the 13th? Killing 50 East Costers wasn't enough; you had to drag 9/11 victims into this as well? I know Friday the 13th has to suck but that was just a little much for my tastes.

There is no transition from 50 dead human beings to my next topic that isn't horribly awkward and insensitive, so I am going to just dive in.

Conan O'Brien only has 7 episodes of Late Nite left before he leaves for The Tonight Show. Wow, what a gut punch. When they announced that he was moving 4 years ago, 2009 seemed so far in the future that it would never come. But it has and my darling Conan will be leaving me soon. Look, I know he will be on the same network and I know that 11:30 will probably make it easier to watch him but I just can't get over the fact that he is moving to L.A. The fact that Conan was in the Big Apple gave me some bizarre hope that we could cross paths one day and become best friends. Now the chances of that have slimmed considerably. I am going to miss being only 440 miles away from him.

Friday the 13th only have 11 more hours to wreak havoc upon our souls. Then we will fall into the sweet and soft embrace of Valentine's Day and be treated to happy thoughts and bunny rabbits.

On second thought...Friday the 13th sounds just fine.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Isn't it Lame When Parents Just Do Understand?

The weather is nice, my belly is full of Big Mama's UltiMama burrito (it would take less time to tell you what isn't in that burrito than what is) and with Valentine's Day two days away, I am ready to talk about sex.

Turns out it sells, you see.

I will tell you why after I take a second to pimp one of my very favorite news sources. Jim Romenesko's blog for the Poynter organization rocks. Journalism 101 Instructor/Rock God/Jonathan Pryce look-alike Bob Stewart gave us the hint last quarter that Romenesko's blog was worth our time. Like any good brown-noser, I bookmarked Romey's blog but neglected to read it regularly. Now I do and I am glad because about 71% of the material from is blog is gleefully stolen from Romenesko (the rest is stolen from MSN). Anyway, I just thought I should give Jimmy some props. I am sorry I brought up a Journalism blog after teasing you with sex.

Back to sex and its selling capabilities.

Per a Suntimes Newsgroup release (obviously linked on Romenesko's blog), Stevenson High School's (presumably in Illinois) student newspaper recently gave away each and every 3,400 issues of its most recent paper. Why was this issue so popular? 

The Paper featured three articles and four sidebars about "hooking up," which the Suntimes then gives the definition for ("a slang term used by many teens and college students for making out or casual sex with someone they are not in a serious relationship with").  Now here's the part I love: since the papers vanished off of the racks so fast, everyone naturally assumed that the principal or superintendent snatched all of them to preserve these High Schoolers' innocence. 

Nope, the principal says that the issues quickly sold out due to the controversial subject matters. So the principal didn't have a problem with it, the teachers don't seem to have a problem with it and the parents certainly don't have a problem with it. 

"I'm fully in support of any issue that gets the kids talking," one parent even said.

I suppose I should feel great for these kids. Good for them that they live in a supportive, understanding environment that understands freedom of the press and does not sugar-coat sexuality. But I actually feel kind of bad. 

Who do these kids have to rebel against? How will they know how to fight the man if the man is pretty cool and pretty reasonable? How are they going to end up like anything other than normal and boring?

I really feel cheated by that article. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Synthetic Dog Steak..and Other Thoughts

I am borrowing the "Jumbled Thoughts" concept of my Groundhog's Day blog. I am doing this because well, I enjoyed it and after my Sabbath Day off (Tuesday is Alec Day), I am bursting with lots to say!

- I was thinking about lots of things the other night (always a dangerous thing when I'm involved) and for some reason I began to think about socially acceptable foods. I think it is because I have been obsessed with pork lately. If I wasn't a man, I would think I was having bizarre pregnancy cravings. Anyway, that got me thinking about pigs and how I love to tear into those poor little swine's flesh. People (albeit strange people) keep pigs as pets and here I am salivating over their cooked skin, muscle and fat. I then thought about how some folks in the far East dine on dog meat and horse meat, something that all Westerners find repugnant and reprehensible.

Most people would marvel at the hypocrisy of man kind and become a vegetarian. But I am not most people. Instead I began to wonder why no one has ever come up with synthetic dog meat. Think about it: no one wants to eat a dog; they're cute and fluffy and happy. But you can't tell me that you aren't curious as to what a dog, cat or horse tastes like. My best guess is that they all taste like chicken but how can I know for sure? Well, I damn well WANT to know for sure. I would drop down $10 bucks in a heartbeat for a big ol' slab of synthetic tofu dog steak. We could probably save dozens of dogs' lives in Indonesia and Mongolia as well! In a world where Jelly Bean flavors exist from apple to popcorn to sardine to vomit, why can't we have an edible object that tastes like dog/cat/horse meat? 

And you can even take it one step further. Have you ever wondered what a human tastes like? I know I have....I should probably stop writing about this now.

- I know I rambled on about 24 the other day but I feel the need to do so again. 8 episodes of 24 Season 7 have now aired and I feel like I can honestly say that they have been as good or better as any first 8 episodes of 24's history. Better than Season 1, about as good as Season 2, better than Season 3, on par with Season 4 (but those went downhill FAST), better than Season 5, and infinitely better than Season 6. What the hell is it that is making this ancient show so watchable 7 years in? To (kind of) borrow a phrase from our current President: "Change, bitches, change." 

When you view 24 through long lenses, you can see that it sort of breaks down into trilogies. Seasons 1-3 had similar characters, villains and recurring issues. And then Season 4 started things over....but it didn't work. The characters weren't as good, the villains weren't as good and the recurring issues sure weren't as good. Season 5 seems to be an outlier as it was one of 24's best seasons ever, but this can be attributed to Gregory Itzin's superior acting as a disgraced President and a fresh storyline dealing with White House corruption in a time when Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby seemed like old timey movie villains.

And now Season 7 has started things over once again. Only this time, the foundation for the future seems to be much stronger than that built in Season 4. These characters aren't only good, they make sense...something that 24 has had big problems with lately. If someone were watching 24 for the first time ever right now and didn't know its absurd past (6 Presidents in 10 years, about 50,000,000 Americans killed in 10 years and absolutely no civil unrest) they might think that 24 was a realistic, plausible show. The characters are actually upset when, you know, they are forced to threaten an infant in order to save the day or torture yet another person for information. New character's humanity and mundane insistence on "following protocol" only further drives home just how much of a monster Jack Bauer has become in the name of defending his country. And if 24 has had one unifying theme over its 7 years, it is its protagonists fall into sure damnation. Oh Lost has been blowing my mind too. I just don't feel the need to write about it because that type of brilliance is always expected from Lost.

- I think the "single woman with no job living off student loans supporting 14 children" story was way too easy for fiscal conservatives. I would have been interested to see how social conservatives would have reacted if she had gleefully aborted all 8 of those babies in one fell swoop.

- I don't know if you've noticed but is coming out in 8 days. In about 3 hours, I will be heading off to a meeting to figure out how to work the html nuts and bolts of it all. This thing is going to melt faces. Prepare yourselves over the next week.

That's how I feel today. I can only hope and pray that if your type in "Synthetic Dog Steak" into Google, my blog is the first site to come up.

That's my dream... make it happen, Internet.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Being Right is Such a Drag

Why is it that the Award show I hate the most, I predicted the outcome the best?

Maybe Bojaladamus really did exist last Friday. Maybe praying to Lucifer for the answers actually did help me. Or maybe the Grammys are just too easy for a cynic like me to predict. I think I am going to go with the Lucifer one. 

But seriously, 3 out of 4 is considered an absolute triumph for me (much like I consider a 75% on any test a miracle). If I cared about the music industry a little more though, I think I would be upset about being right. What we just witnessed last night was Herbie Hancock Part Two.

Think of it this way: in the past two years, we have been treated to many classic albums and musical acts. Any sensible person will look back at the past two years and see art like Jay-Z's American Gangster, Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, Coldplay's Viva la Vida, Kanye West's Graduation and Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III (for the record, I think all of these are great except for Lil Wayne). And any sensible person would conclude reasonably that these albums musically defined the time in which they were released. Then that sensible person would look at which two albums Grammys decided to anoint as the best our time had to offer and see that in 2007 they chose a 67-year-old's experimental Jazz album and an album from a pretty Bluegrass singer and a 1970's Rock God whose combined ages are 97. 

Well done, Grammys. When I think of our music in the late '00s. I definitely think of Herbie Hancock and Robert Plant's mullet.

To be fair, it is not like our generation made a particularly strong showing. R&B crooner Chris Brown (who is only 11 months older than I am) celebrated his Grammy nomination by beating up an unidentified woman, widely speculated to be America's Sweetheart, Rihanna. Now, I know that domestic abuse isn't necessarily a new thing in America and I know that hundreds of thousands, probably millions of women have been physically harassed by their significant other but...Rihanna?!?!?!?

Oh C.B, you fucked fucked up big time. Rihanna is basically one of the most inherently likable human beings the United States of America have left. I am a cynical recluse who shuns humanity at every given opportunity and even I think Rihanna is pretty swell. Say the word "Umbrella" in America or Europe and count how many people shout back "ella, ella, hey, hey, hey." Shame on you, Chris Brown. You almost single-handedly justified a 60-year-old winning Album of the Year.

I didn't quite watch the whole ceremony but I am getting the impression that Radiohead rocked the house. I haven't seen it yet, so let's experience that together.

Yep, that rocked. I am starting to think the only reason I enjoyed the movie Twilight is that they played "15 Step" over the end credits.

And to conclude my first and probably last extensively music blog of 2009 (unless My Chemical Romance releases their next album within the year), Mid 1990s Pop-punk fans had a BIG night. Most people are probably buzzing about Blink 182's reunion and I can wrap my head around that. Blink 182 were pretty respectable back in the day. But I am more excited about the band that Blink 182 copied their sound off of: Green Day. America's Idiots announced the final award of the night and the omniscient voice over the auditorium's loud speaker announced the name of their forthcoming album.

21st Century Breakdown. Color me intrigued, very intrigued.

Come back Wednesday when I will stop pretending to care about the music business.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Morning Links pt. 21

Only 7 days until Pitchers and Catchers report....only 7 days until Pitchers and Catchers report...

This is all I can do to keep myself sane while I spend my days hobbling across 17-inch-thick ice and praying that the white cascade of death doesn't fall from the sky to smother us all again. I have seen the sun about six times in the last thirty days, I think.

Baseball can't come soon enough. In the meantime, the links will have to suffice.

- I have no idea why I don't shave symbols into my head. I am shocked that Boobie hasn't shaved a middle finger into his quaff yet.

- If Dunkin Donuts is taking aim at the Starbucks dynasty, I feel the need to take sides now. I am with Dunkin Donuts, through and through. I think the only reason I went home this weekend is so I could have a large hazelnut with cream and sugar. Maybe I should shave "DD" into my hair.

- Anybody who wonders why I love the Oscars so much need only read this article. I know the politics of it all are probably why most people hate the Oscars but I feel that when you introduce politics into ANYTHING it makes it more interesting. If there was wheeling, dealing and corruption in Professional Hackeysack, I would probably watch it.

- This just in: Students journalists are kind of concerned about their prospective field.

- And finally, my brother is in a band called Saints and Poets. Last weekend they juuuust fell short of being named the best High School band in Northeast Ohio. Oh and they rock. Listen and become a fan right now.

Enjoy the week! 

And remember: only 6 days until Pitchers and Catchers report....only 6 days until Pitchers and Catchers report...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bojaladamus Gives it Another Go

God, I hate the Grammys.

I know the Oscars have their faults (to say the freaking least) but at least the Oscars didn’t pick Herbie Hancock’s jazz album over Graduation last year. I really think that was the biggest “wtf” moment since Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand ignited World War I.

But I am a competitive man, and regardless of how much I may hate the Grammys, I must prove to everyone that I can guess the results of the award show far better than they can.

“But Alec,” you say, “doesn’t that make you petty, weak and insecure?”
Yes, reader. It does. But it’s s all I got.

So here are my predictions for an award show that I don’t even care about. I am only predicting the four categories that encompass all music genres because A) it would be too easy to predict that Album of the Year nominee Tha Carter III will win Rap Album of the Year and B) it would be tremendously boring.

I guess that technically means that this a 1/32 Grammy prediction blog and I am okay with that. As always, nominees in BOLD are who I think is GOING TO WIN and nominees in ITALICS are who I think DESERVES TO WIN.

Record of the Year
Chasing Pavements – Adele
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
Paper Planes – M.I.A
Please Read the Letter – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

There is no way that Grammy can’t reward the most infectious song of the year. The key word here is “Record”, meaning that this category isn’t necessarily the best song but the best audio production. Paper Planes is brilliantly produced and has all the bells and whistles that Grammy always look for.

Album of the Year
Viva La Vida – Coldplay
Tha Carter III – Lil Wayne
Year of the Gentleman – Ne-Yo
Raising Sand – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
In Rainbows – Radiohead

If Kanye West’s Graduation couldn’t win Best Album last year than Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III cannot , I repeat CANNOT, 100,000% NOT, win Best Album this year. In Rainbows came out way too long ago and Ne-Yo is just the token R&B category. That pretty much leaves it down to Coldplay and the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss dream team. Grammy is probably dying to find the next U2 that they can shower awards on but I am not sure they are completely confident that Coldplay will be around for the next decade. They are going to give it to Robert and Alison because the older voters just can’t help themselves.

Song of the Year
American Boy – Estelle (featuring Kanye West)
Chasing Pavements – Adele
I’m Yours – Jason Mraz
Love Song – Sara Bareilles
Viva La Vida – Coldplay

Coldplay might not take home the Album of the Year but the Song of the Year category is just harmless enough that Grammy can give it to them in the name of appeasement. I am okay with that, but I think I like American Boy better if only because it features a British chick admitting that she wants in Kanye’s pants.

Best New Artist
Jonas Brothers
Lady Antebellum
Jazmine Sulivan

Grammy has already made it fairly obvious that they are smitten with Miss Adele. She has already popped up in two of the other “big” categories. Duffy is the only other option, seeing as she is the “tamer” Amy Winehouse, but Grammy had no problem giving the real Amy Winehouse an award and will probably just find Duffy boring. I think Jonas Brothers should win, not because I like their music (or that I even know what any of their music sounds like) but because I would like to see the Grammys grow a pair and pick a controversial (re: popular) act win after the Oscars couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

Those are your winners. Call the bookies now.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Frost/Nixon 2: Letterman/Blagojevich

It's a shame that journalists aren't allowed to ask the best questions.

In 2009 America, someone else gets to dish out the best queries, someone who clearly has a more respected and understood stature in Western society. That someone is the Comedian. As anyone who watched David Letterman's late night beatdown of Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich can attest to, late night comedian's are now America's shining new beacon of Journalistic integrity.

As St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans writes in his Wednesday blog:

"I've said this before about Jon Stewart; the power of non-journalists in these situations is that they don't have to pretend they don't have a point of view, and they can ask questions where the answer is almost beside the point. Letterman is essentially saying over and over to Blago, "I think you're a weasel," in a way that few traditional news anchors could manage without serious criticism."

To this, I only ask: why?

Why are David Letterman and Jon Stewart the only ones who get to have all the fun? Why can't a journalist answer back when the subject's answer seems to be a stock Public Relations parable? 

Deep down, I feel like I know all the answers, just like Eric Deggans knows them. Journalists live in constant fear that what they say or write in every situation will be torn out of context, broken down into sound-byte form, and played 24 hours a day on FOXNews or MSNBC, painting them as a Conservative/Liberal/Communist/Terrorist partisan soldier. I know that can make journalists so afraid that they are hesitant even to call out someone so obviously insincere, cartoonish and downright wrong as Rod Blagojevich. 

I understand that...but I am certainly not condoning it. I am not looking forward to being part of an industry that feels so victimized by the very media they use as a tool that they let comedians do their job better than they do. This is no slight against the David Lettermans and Jon Stewarts of the world; I think they are great, they just shouldn't be expected to do journalists' jobs because they are afraid to do their own.

Now that I have carefully climbed off my 80-foot soap-box, watch the clip of Letterman interviewing Blagojevich and try to tell me you wouldn't have loved to hear some of these questions asked by the actual journalists who have had the chance to confront "Blago."

And with that, I take my leave and head North for the Winter....or at least the weekend. Stay classy for now, Athens, your blogging hero will be back tomorrow for Grammy predictions.

One last bit: pick up today's edition of The Post and try to find the funniest and most appropriate name you will ever see for a sex offender. 10 Collective(ly) Unconscious points for whoever finds it first!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Fruit of my (Insufficient) Labor

They never told me about this part of Journalism: you actually have to work.

So while I spend the rest of my day, transcribing two hours worth of interviews, enjoy this essay I wrote for a Cleveland sports blogging website contest. Alas, I did not win. But you know what...I like it. 

Baseball haters, log off now. Indians fans, stick around. This is my early valentine for those Under the Wigwam.

As a demented clown with cracked face-paint once told his cosmic counter part: “You complete me,” so do rivals complete each other in the world of sports. When I say O.S.U, you probably think Michigan, right? When I say Red Sox, I am betting you also think of the Evil Empire in pinstripes, correct? Nothing quite defines a sports team and a fan base like the opposing team that you consistently and completely hate. 

Now, I am an Indians fan and while we have our fair share of traditions: banging John Adam’s drum, reading the Sunday Terry Pluto article and worshipping at the altar of Chief Wahoo, there is not one other team that I can point to and direct all my misguided hate at the world at. This upsets me. If I am going to be dedicating my life to loving one sports team, I need to balance the good vibes out by hating another with every fiber of my being. It is high time that we identify the yin to the Indian’s yang. I have been doing some serious (and hateful) soul searching and I think I have discovered the Indians’ rival. Keep in mind that in order to sustain a rivalry the two organizations must be: close in geography, close in ideology and must have a sustainable and legitimate history of past hatred. So without further ado, I would like to present to you a list of the Tribe’s most plausible rivals in descending order. Enjoy (and more importantly, hate)!

5. Red Sox/Yankees
If constant frustration and heartbreak were enough for a rivalry, the Yankees and Red Sox would be the Tribe’s number one enemy. The problem is: there is too much Goliath here and not enough David. Sure, we Cleveland fans hate both the Red Sox and the Yankees, but can we honestly say that that hatred is reciprocated back against us. There have been times when our beloved Indians have been a thorn in the Yankees and Red Sox’s paw (22-0 in Yankees Stadium comes to mind) but in the end, that is all we have ever been. The Yankees tormented us endlessly through the 90s and the Red Sox stole a World Series berth from us two years ago, but we have never quite paid back the favor, at least not in these past two decades. Also, the Yankees and Red Sox do not need another rival: they have each other. This “rivalry” is a non-starter.

4. Twins
Now this is more like it. The Indians are the Twins are almost identical in there approach to building a team. Both Mark Shapiro and the Terry Ryan-machine in Minnesota are committed to developing their own talent from within through quality drafts and shrewd trades, and then locking down those important pieces to long-term deals. In the new millennium, the Tribe and the Twinkies have often made a run at each other in the standings and have even run at each other physically in the field after many a difficult and trying seasons. But there is a fundamental problem here. First off, the Twin Cities are a far cry from Cleveland both geographically and socio-economically. Good rivalries work because cities close together can poke fun at the similarities and slight difference in each other. Browns fan can tease their cousins from Pittsburgh about how many perogies they consume or Bill Cowher’s dim-witted expression (as I frequently do). What common ground do Cleveland and Minneapolis share? None. And that is why this rivalry doesn’t work.

3. Reds
Yes, you heard me right, the Reds are the Indians’s third biggest rival. If they played in the same League, they would probably be our biggest. First of all, look at this from a financial, off-the-field standpoint. The Indians and Reds occupy the same state, and more importantly the same demographic. Cleveland is the king in the North and Cincinatti is the king in the South, but who does everyone else in-between root for? The Indians and Reds rivalry is a constant battle for attention of the state of Ohio. And the best part is: the Indians may have delivered the killing blow this winter. Paul Dolan and the Indians’s decision-makers wisely scooped up the Columbus Clippers to be their AAA affiliate. Why is this significant? Because that is an entire population of baseball fans who will now swear allegiance to Chief Wahoo and not the pugilist old-timey baseball thing that the Reds worship. While, the Battle of Ohio has been far more intense than just a corny marketing ploy by both teams, a true rivalry just doesn’t work when the combatants occupy different league. And that’s a shame.

2. White Sox
If there is a better representation of good vs. evil in sports, it is certainly hard to find. Take a look at the White Sox, the black and white stripe-wearing punks who have the most obnoxious coach in sports, the most snobby fan-base (I am watching you closely, Barack Obama) and almost tore the very credibility of American sports down with their Black Sox scandal back in 1919. Then you have the young, plucky Cleveland Indians who wear bright, warm colors, have a smiling Native American on their hats and were the subject of the movie Major League. For as unlikeable as the White Sox are, the Indians are just as likeable. Consider this Red Sox and Yankees-Lite. Even Cleveland and Chicago are analogous to Boston and New York. Cleveland is the charming ethnic little port-town like Boston, while Chicago is the Mecca-like Midwestern Empire, similar to New York. The problem is, this rivalry may be a little TOO like the Yankees and Red Sox for my tastes. Also, as anyone who has driven the 6 hours to Chicago can tell you, these cities are a little too far away to effectively invade each other’s stadiums every summer.

1. Tigers
Now this is more like it. If there is anything that is in any self-respecting Ohioans blood, it is a healthy distaste for that state up North. Michiganians look like us, kind of sound like us and go through the same daily struggles as we do, but they just aren’t quite us. Looking at Detroit is kind of like looking at a Bizarro version of Cleveland. The people are the same but instead of punching the clock at the steel mill, they punch the clock at the automotive assembly line. Compatibility between two cities is one thing but can the teams deliver on this potential blood-feud? Oh boy, they can. I will never forget the summer of 2007 in which the Indians and Tigers slugged it out for the AL Central crown. It was vicious, exciting and visceral. There was a real intense atmosphere to those Tigers-Indians games and even last summer when the Indians finished in 3rd and the Tigers finished in 5th, that competitive momentum was sustained. The Indians and Tigers do not quite have the heated history that I would love to see in rivals, but they certainly have the passion. Even 100 some years in, it is not too late to identify one’s enemy.

Well, Tribe fans, to the best of my knowledge, the Tigers represent the best rivals we have. I hope you will take my list to heart. And here is to Happy Hating in 2009. Go Tribe!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Jumbled Thoughts on Groundhog Day

I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to write about in this blog entry...but then I got high.

No, no, no, I am just joshing you. Unlike, Michael Phelps, I did not solicit the services of Senor Ganja. Instead, I realized that what I really wanted to write about was good for only about a paragraph and a half. And then I also realized that this weekend was very eventful news-wise and it would be a waste to save all of it for a Sunday Morning Links about 6 and a half days from now.

Of course, I couldn't make the full jump to pure-stream of consciousness. So I organized my thoughts then threw them up onto Blogger. The title "Jumbled Thoughts" may be a bit of a misnomer, but enjoy these "mini blog entries" anyway.

- It is Groundhog Day. And wouldn't you know it, that little furry rat bastard rat bastard saw his shadow again. And just like that, Punxsutawney (that marks the last time I will spell "Punxsutawney" in this blog) Phil has condemned us to 6 more weeks of absolute soul-crushing winter. I hate that goddamn wood-chuck. Although to be fair, the good folks of Punxsu....Western Pennsylvania have created an unrealistic expectation for Phil. I mean, really! YOU try not seeing a shadow on a sunny day. That is like punishing someone for getting wet when you throw them in a pool. Poor Phil has become Fate's puppet and will constantly be blamed for the astronomical phenomenon known as "winter" even though we all know it will run through Mid-March anyway. At least give the Groundhog a test that he actually has control over. Why can't they just present him with two sexy groundhog females, one that represents "Spring" and one that represents "Winter", and whichever groundhog Phil chooses to copulate with is the outcome of the seasons. That would be a far more compelling story-line than a rodent seeing his shadow.

- Apparently, there was some football game on yesterday. I didn't really care about any other result than a Steeler's loss. That isn't an endorsement of the Cardinals, I didn't care if they won. I just wanted the Steelers not to. Maybe the game drags on for 34 Overtimes and they have to call it a draw. Maybe the Steelers all get mysteriously ill and cannot field an 11 man team. Alas, it wasn't to be as the Steelers won 27-23 on Santonio Holmes's miracle catch. Two and half seconds after the game ended, everyone seemed quick to crown it "The Greatest Super Bowl Ever." I am sorry, but that is the single most absurd thing I have ever heard in my life. This wasn't even the best Super Bowl in the past 368 days! The Giants' David taking down the 18-0 Patriots' Goliath was one of the finest 60 minutes of sports I have ever witnessed. This game had about 4-6 minutes of interesting content and the other 54-56 minutes consisted of the refs announcing yet ANOTHER penalty. This was sloppy, ugly football and no one really deserved in my mind...except for Santonio Holmes and Larry Fitzgerald. They should have called the game a draw and split the Lombardi Trophy in half for Santonio and Larry.

- Even though the Cardinals lost, I guarantee you that Cards fans in the Tucson area were entreated to the greatest 30 seconds of their life. First, Larry Fitzgerald catches a Kurt Warner pass in the center of the field with no one in front of him and charges 60 yards down the field to take the field, then the Super Bowl feed is dropped and approximately 10 seconds of hard-core porn is shown in its place. I can only hope that when Grady Sizemore hits the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the 8th in game 7 of the 2009 World Series, that it is immediately followed by 10 seconds of pornography. What a gift!

- As for my buddy Michael Phelps. Come one, dude....come on. I know you are certainly not the first athlete to smoke Mary-J and you certainly won't be the last, but you can't let me, Joe Fan, know that. Don't ever let that picture see the light of day! Drink a little at parties and if you absolutely cannot live without a joint or bong-hit, just do it in a dark room with no windows and NO DAMN CAMERAS. I know you aren't losing any endorsements from this, but you are certainly losing about 892,103 Soccer mom fans which is probably about 39% of your "fanbase." Just not smart. Every time you put on a pound or two for the rest of your life, you will have to deal with Late Night TV hosts and sports announcers saying that you must have the "Munchies." Enjoy!

- And finally, the original topic I was going to blog about. Remember when I blogged about Barack Obama strongly resembling Matt Santos from The West Wing? Well, that got me wondering about which fictional Black President Barack Obama is most going to resemble, which got me thinking about David Palmer, which got me thinking about 24...which ultimately got me to watch the first 5 hours of Season 7 of 24. I used to like 24 quite a bit. It was exciting to watch America's version of James Bond, Jack Bauer, torture terrorists, save the world and slowly fall into moral oblivion for a time. But at a certain point the show just became a parody of itself. You could see every plot point coming from a mile away. Another mole in CTU? Another terrorist being tortured? Another nuclear device? I eventually could take no more and sat all of Season 6 out. Now that I've watched the first quarter of Season 7, however, I am back in. The cliches of the show aren't much different. Jack is still insane and insanely effective at what he does. There are still moles, leaks and corruptions everywhere in U.S government and there are still numerous lapses in logic. But the producers have finally made the sane choice and attempted to bring the show a bit closer to the real world. Instead of working for the Counter Terrorist Unit, which seems to be the most easily-infiltrated organization on the planet and seems to have no problem torturing anyone and everyone to get information, Jack is now involved with the FBI which actually, you know, doesn't break the law. In this version of 24, the Attorney General might actually come knocking if you punch a bad guy's bullet wound or cut off his oxygen. It is a small difference to inject just enough life back into the show for me to watch it....until they do something inexcusably stupid again.

I told you it was a busy weekend!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Morning Links pt. 20

We are just knocking out milestones everywhere this week, aren't we?

Earlier this week on Monday, the Collective(ly) Unconscious celebrated its 100th post. Now, Sunday Morning Links is celebrating its 1/5 of 100th post! This is certainly a time for joyous celebration. That is 20 post, 100 links, 20 weeks and about 71 minutes of actual thought and work put into it. The Sunday Morning Links is a nice little opportunity for me to casually shoot the breeze with the readers, then throw down some links of interesting news stories and well-written articles so I don't have to worry about writing anything.

Regardless of how many times blogging has felt like "work" to me (and trust me, there are times when it does), Sunday Morning Links have always been easy as pie.

Thank you, Sunday Morning Links, for keeping me sane.

I can't honestly say that every other writing project on my docket is quite so friendly, however. Today is the day that I finally tackle my two big pains in the ass: crafting a resume and working on scholarships. The nasty secret about college is that the workload of actual classes is relatively puny. It isn't until you start adding up the "secondary" work that you begin to drown: resumes, interviews, organization meetings, studying, working on scholarships, etc. So there's that nonsense. And I also must begin work on the second of my two big Backdrop undertakings. You can look for the link to that around mid-February, as well as the link to the new Backdrop site. 

As a matter of fact, my list of links to the right of the page is going to need a bit of a facelift next month. The SPJ blog isn't going anywhere as I am still happily involved with that (and especially after Evan Millward's latest and best blog entry). Bojay's Baseball Blog is also here to stay. The Backdrop Facebook link, however, will be torn down in favor of the actual Backdrop site and my little recurring section of the Backdrop site. I had to quit Bobcatblogs due to my ever-increasing workload, but I will probably keep them as a link in a different section along with other sites that I frequent and enjoy.

Well, that's all the shop-talk you can probably handle for now, so without further ado; your links.

- This is my absolute favorite article of the past week. It is time that we truly reconsider how movie reviews "rank" movies.

- Facebook status updates are now the newest art form. Alec ... is excited to hear the news about Facebook statuses!

- The grammar freak inside of me is crying mournfully. If England is going to start observing incorrect punctuation on signs, what hope does America have?

- Remember when I called 2008 the Year of the Vampire in Entertainment? Well, Entertainment Weekly has reason to believe that 2009 will be the Year of the Werewolf.

- And finally, Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a Harry Potter) cordially invites Malia and Sasha Obama to the Hogwarts set. It should have been me, Dan, it should have been me.

Enjoy your week, everybody! And enjoy Scotland, Malia and Sasha!