Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oh My Darling Clemens, Die

Roger Clemens
is a douche
la la la la la.

Here's why:

  • He signed a one-year contract for $28,000,022. See the $22 at the end? It's because his number is 22. Why not sign for $22 million? After all, he did say, "If you think it's about money, you're greatly mistaken. I'm not going to put my body through the paces I put my body through to earn a few more dollars."

  • He showed up out of shape and is pitching in the minors right now. For that kinda money, shouldn't the fat-ass be at least somewhat in shape?

  • He says how much he loves the Yankees and then only travels with the team when he's in the rotation, so he can watch his kids play high school baseball. He has complained about having to carry his own luggage. As the NY Daily news says: "What's forgotten in all the 'family plan' talk about Clemens is that the Astros, who instituted it for Roger in the first place, had already told him that they weren't going to do it this season. And it's because they felt it was counterproductive for the team, especially when the Rocket was seen out and about (like at golf tournaments) instead of spending time with his family."

  • He once said of the Japanese and Korean teams in the 2006 World Baseball Classic: "None of the dry cleaners were open, they were all at the game, Japan and Korea." Where's Reverend Al?

  • He named his dopey kids Koby, Kory, Kacy, and Kody, after all the "K"s (or strikeouts) that he's thrown in his career.

  • He retired after 2003 to huge fanfare at Yankee Stadium, and then came back in 2004 to play for another team paying more money. Then he did the same thing in 2005 and 2006. Does he understand what the term "retire" means? Is he that sad to be out of the spotlight?

  • That bat-throwing thing he pulled with Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series. (He is 12th all-time in hit batsmen.) What is this faggot crap?

  • He was known as a major choke-artist before he lucked into the 1999-2000 Yankee teams, pitching in series that were never in doubt. (Read more from a 2000 Slate article after he had won his first series.

  • The Houston Astros drafted his dopey son Koby as a favor to "the Rocket" in 2005 so that they could spend more time together as a family (which is why "the Rocket" claims he wants all those days off), and then he leaves the organization.

  • Even white-trash like David Wells called him out: "I don't think I would ever do it because of the fact I personally think it would disrespect the team and your teammates. You look at the other players. How are they going to respect you? What are they going to think if you're not there pulling for the team?"

  • When Hank Aaron said that pitchers shouldn't be eligible for the MVP, because they have the Cy Young award, Clemens said: "I wish he were still playing. I'd probably crack his head open to show him how valuable I was." Let's start a rumor that he's a major racist.

By the way, this has nothing to do with the fact that he's a Yankee. I have hated him since he was with Boston, and I hated him with Toronto and Houston too, for the same reasons. He will make his debut Monday against the White Sox. I can only hope his fat, privileged ass gets lit up. He is the consummate spoiled athlete who truly believes he is better than other people.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Amer'cans Are Idiots

Ok so don't get me wrong. The United States of America really is the greatest country in the world. I'm not saying that because I live here or out of some sense of false national pride. I truly believe that it really is the Promised Land. It might not always be that way -- in fact it may cease to be as such in my own lifetime -- but right now we are that shining city on the hill.

But goddammit are Amer'cans fucking stupid sometimes.

Much like obscenity, I can't define an Amer'can (as opposed to an American), but I know one when I see one. I can name some famous ones: Toby Keith, Jerry Bruckheimer, Adam Sandler, Jay Leno. Maybe when it comes to doing something important or innovative or original, an Amer'can will always chicken out and take the easy, safe, lowest-common-denominator way out (see, respectively: that "boot up your ass" song, movies with lots of car crashes, formulaic man-child fart joke comedies, Jay Leno).

Art, and the appreciation of art, is one arena in which Amer'cans suffer. Whereas it seems that other countries tend to have at least a modicum of understanding about art, Amer'can tastes are much more poorly refined. If you look at the highest grossing movies of the last couple of years, you will see lots of crap, whether it's an Ice Cube kid's comedy or another bullshit horror movie, we tend to gravitate to what's easy. We don't challenge ourselves. I am certainly not above this at times. I do watch crap like American Idol and listen to Journey. Of course, Journey is awesome, so they don't really count. Forget I mentioned them, bad example.

Movies in Amer'ca are a very sore subject for me, because I am a tad on the snobby side when it comes to cinema. I watch a lot of indie stuff that looks like it was shot with Abraham Zapruder's camera, and a lot of long foreign stuff. A lot of that stuff sucks too, but I think I have at least the breadth of experience to know what is good and what is utter garbage.

So flash forward to last week. Right after American Idol, there was a show called On the Lot, which is sort of like ... no it is exactly, American Idol for aspiring movie directors. I'm a sucker for all things movie-related. I'm the kind of guy who watches those movie retrospectives at the Oscars (where they always show clips from Singin' in the Rain and Casablanca and Dog Day Afternoon) and actually tears up a little. Yeah I'm wicked queer.

So I am already pissed off at myself for watching the first 10 minutes of this stupid show because I know I'm gonna get hooked on it and have to watch the whole stupid thing. So one thing should have tipped me off that I was going to hate 90% of the "directors" on this show. The judges are Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher, who hasn't done much as an actress but is actually one of Hollywood's best "script doctors," Garry Marshall, who hasn't made a good movie since ... um ... and Brett Ratner. Now in my opinion, Brett Ratner, along with the likes of Michael Bay and Brian Robbins, has helped ruin Amer'can cinema. Ratner was a music video director who ventured out into feature films. He made a couple of really mediocre action/comedy movies like Rush Hour and Money Talks, and because the former was a hit, was offered "serious" projects. He made a decent Hannibal Lecter movie in Red Dragon, and then completely capsized the "X-Men" franchise by making the very below-average "X-3: The Last Stand."

Bottom line: Brett Ratner is the knee-jerk, go-to "commercial" director, even though his skills as an auteur have been in question from the get-go.

So what is the first thing one of the "film makers" says when he sees who the directors are? "Wow, Brett Ratner!" said one bespectacled douche with a soul patch, "That's exactly the kind of movies I wanna make, commercial movies!" I thought the point of finding a film maker was to find someone with an original voice, rather than a helmer-for-hire that can point a camera at something and then yell "cut". Anyone could go to film school and learn to be a director. We shouldn't be having a talent show for trained monkeys.

Anyway, I'm a little off-topic. On Monday, they had the 18 finalists show their one-minute comedy films. There were maybe three or four legitimately well-made and/or funny films, but most of it was mediocre film school -- or worse, Bud Light commercial -- pap. Not really hateable, but nothing that blew my skirt up. (Why I was wearing a skirt has nothing to do with this story so just leave it for now.)

There was, however, one so-called quote-unquote "filmmaker" that did catch my eye. His name was Kenny Luby, and he happens to be from Owego, New York, not really all that far from my own hometown. Kenny had been portrayed on an earlier episode (this show's version of "Hell Week") to be a bit of a prima donna who probably shouldn't have made it as far as he did. Still, he's a local boy, and he didn't go to film school, and I thought maybe if this kid could make something good, I might have to root for him. He submitted a film called "Wack Alley Cab." I viewed it and was simply astounded.

This is one of the most stunning pieces of pure excrement ever committed to celluloid. It is loud, the dubbing sucks, the writing is shit, the acting is beyond worthless. I've seen funnier stuff in Schindler's List. It was as funny as a snuff film. Nobody laughed, the three judges -- including the too-nice guest judge DJ Caruso, director of the underrated and excellent The Salton Sea -- all took a dump on it. There was no narrative point whatsoever. The characters were annoying and loud. There was not one real thing about it. It was made by a simple-minded hack job for a bunch of other simple-minded moviegoers. It was like the worst Time Warner Cable ad being viewed while on crystal meth. Utterly without value or merit. [Update: here it is]

At the very least, I thought, this young quote-unquote "filmmaker" would be exposed to the nation for the no-talent that he is. The market, I trusted, would bear this out to be a rotten concoction. Even the phone-voting public would be able to pick this turd out of the mud pit and fling it back from whence it came.

But I forgot: this is Amer'ca.

Not only did this sub-Ed Wood douchehammer get a single vote, but he was not even eliminated! That means that at least three people got less votes than he did. That means that someone out there saw his 60 seconds of bile and actually said to themselves, "Wow, that was pretty good. I'm gonna vote for that guy," and then returned to eating vaseline and punching himself in the genitals. I had no idea there were that many vaseline-eating genital punchers out there. Small world.

I have no more faith in the Amer'can public, not after tonight. This would be the equivalent of William Hung making the final 12 on American Idol, and not as a joke. I mean, could this be a joke? Is Amer'ca really that cinematically illiterate that they can't tell that this farce of a short film is the equivalent of a kindergarten finger-paint?

Sadly, I suspect that it is. I'm not really offended by American Idol because it pretty much caters to a certain audience, and let's face it, the music industry is in disarray as it is. But when you put the voting public in charge of cinema, you are treading dangerous ground. There was very little that I saw in the short films they screened that made me laugh more than any sketch (even the weak ones) on "The Whitest Kids You Know." Let's get these kids to make commercials for beer companies or blue jeans. For the love of Robert Altman, keep them out of theaters.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Awesome Show Alert: Battlestar Galactica

I have a weird attention span where I basically can watch either half hour comedies or 2+ hour movies. It's very weird, I admit. The hour-long drama format is usually just not for me. Hour-long shows I used to watch like "ER" or "Law & Order" just don't do it for me the way they used to. Part of that has to do with the declining quality of those programs, since "ER" now likes to go to Africa every other week and "Law & Order" is more about how deviant the crime in question can be.

My good friend Tony DiGiacomo, however, urged me to pursue a program to which I normally would not have been drawn: BSG.

The original "Battlestar Galactica" -- featuring Lorne Greene and Face from "The A-Team" was kind of a cheesy sci-fi show from the late 1970s. I had a few of the action figures when I was a kid, including that weird robot dog thing. When I heard they were remaking it, I didn't really think much of it, because I'm not a sci-fi geek. Just a regular geek. I wasn't sure I wanted to invest time in a show about robots and space and aliens. The evil Cylons in the show even sound like Klingons. I figured it probably wasn't my bag, baby.

But don't be fooled, this is one of the best dramas on TV. It does take place in outer space, but everything else about it is like a political/military drama. It's not a mystery like "Lost," and it's not really sci-fi like "Star Trek." It is complex in story and theme. There is depth of character, and actually very good acting. The cinematography is rather brilliant, since it's filmed with a handheld camera for most of the dramatic scenes.

Don't make the same mistake I made and let the sci-fi aspect of the show turn you away from it. There are no actual "aliens" in the show (at leat not that I've seen), and you could just as easily have all the major storylines on present-day Earth. The storylines are deep and the drama is often intense. I just finished the first season on DVD and am completely hooked on it.

As far as the first season goes, only the first season of "The Sopranos" even compares in terms of pure watchability, from episode to episode, and I would venture that "BSG" even surpasses that. It's definitely much better than any subsequent "Sopranos" season, by far.

Seriously, check it out. You know you can trust me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Be A Man For Chrissakes!

I have hated the radio for years. I think it started when I was a painter at Le Moyne College in the summer of 1997 and my fellow brush-jockeys would listen to the regular radio for 8 hour days upon end. I discovered some disturbing trends during marathon 8-hour radio listening sessions that I hadn't noticed in smaller intervals.

I noticed that the radio tended to repeat several songs over the course of the day. It has always been my contention that a radio station should never -- EVER -- play the same song more than once a day. It just doesn't make sense. Maybe the only exception would be a brand new song that is maybe two weeks old or less. But that's it. However, it became apparent that song were being run into the ground. Songs that I hated became interminable four to five times over the course of a work day. Even songs I liked or had the potential to like were ruined.

Those stations that didn't play the same song multiple times -- the "no-repeat workday" stations -- were even more insidious. They would not repeat songs throughout the day, but would rather repeat the same nine-hour block of songs every single day from 8am-5pm. They might shuffle the playlist, but you could count on hearing every song five times throughout the normal work week.

What also struck me was how awful and bland the music was becoming. Radio has always been a commercial venture, but never had I seen radio stations pander to the lowest common denominator. It seemed the quality of songwriting had really gone to the shitter. Once a band broke through with one song, they would release another three or four shitty songs, which would automatically be put into rotation by the knee-jerk radio stations who wanted to crank out the hits.

I'm not exposing any secrets, but commercial radio is crap. Incidentally, you can attribute much of the homogenization of commercial radio to the idiots at Clear Channel who reward mediocrity and refuse to take any chances whatsoever, but that's for another post.

The upshot is, when satellite radio came around, I got very excited. Forget the commercial-free aspect of the format (an admitted bonus), I was glad that there would be more channels with more formats of music. And it would be subscriber-driven, not advertiser-driven, which means stations could come up with their own playlists and not worrya bout repeating the same rotations over and over. They actually employed real-live DJs, who actually put together well thought-out playlists, instead of picking from some kind of corporate-approved menu of songs.

I got my XM radio a few years ago, and for the most part, I love it. Not having commercials is pretty huge, but there are so many other benefits. They have very specifically-defined stations with certain audiences in mind (my favorites are The Rhyme, The Verge and XMU). They have real DJs who don't talk in the middle of the music. On some stations, you could go days and never hear the same song twice. It exposes me to bands and songs I never would have otherwise heard (and it has given me direction in much of my CD-buying). It is the best radio for long trips, since I can listen to concerts or comedy or talk radio, or even TV simulcasts. You never have to worry about changing the channel when you get to a new city. It carries all the hockey radio broadcasts (and baseball for those who like that kind of thing).

There are some complaints, of course. I wish their comedy channels would play more full-length concerts or comedy performances, instead of switching between well-known and mediocre comedians. And boy, if there was ever a question about the dearth of good stand up comedy in this country, satellite pretty much proves it. Also, my music station of choice -- The Rhyme, the rap station -- plays way way way too much Tupac and Too $hort and mainstream hits from The Notorious B.I.G. and Salt-N-Pepa. I was really hoping The Rhyme would celebrate lesser-known rap from the '80s and '90s instead of harping on the so-called classics. Overall, it's still a good station, but I wish I could throw a playlist up there every once in a while.

The thing that got me hooked on my XM, though, is Opie and Anthony. I had been a Howard Stern quasi-fan since high school, since he was basically the only game in town where I lived. I loved that format of radio: comedy disguised as talk radio. But I felt that toward the last few years (especially after the Super Bowl/Janet Jackson controversy), Stern had become very dull, almost unlistenable at times. He railed against the FCC and censorship (although, ironically, he was silent when his arch-nemesis Imus was fired), and then talked about his ratings for hours upon end. His ego made him less funny.

Enter Opie & Anthony. They were basically the soundtrack of 2006 for me. I listened to them nearly every second I was in the car. They could make a 4-hour drive seem like twenty minutes. They weren't always "radio gold," but I found myself laughing out loud to myself more times in six months than I had for about four years listening to Stern. They seemed much more versed in "comedy" than Stern, in its history, its cliches, its conventions. They went the vulgar route, but more often found humor in hypocrisy of celebrities or events in the news. Rather than having a naked woman in studio every day, they would play clips from the internet, and even if the clips were decades old, mine huge laughs from them.

Flash forward to a couple weeks ago, and now I am disgusted. O&A had a bit where a homeless man made some lascivious comments about making illicit advances toward Laura Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Queen Elizabeth II. They laughed along, but they did not make the comments themselves. Yet XM saw fit to suspend them for 30 days, not broadcasting their show (even though they are, ironically, still on regular radio) and suspending all rebroadcasts and reruns. Basically, XM, a company that advertises itself as having no censorship, censored one of its biggest draws.

I am 100% sure of the reason for this: XM is getting ready to merge with Sirius, the other player in the satellite radio game. In order for this to be approved, it must meet with the approval of the FCC, who, it is very clear, is in the pocket of the Bush Administration. (See their refusal to investigate the NSA wiretapping as proof.) Since XM didn't want to draw the ire of the Republican-influenced FCC, they had to punish Opie and Anthony for saying such mean things about two of the president's favorite ladies (three if you include Laura Bush).

Now, for better or worse, I have heard O&A say some of the most ruthlessly, insanely degrading things about many women. Just listen to their opinions about Tyra Banks some day. But only now are they being called into question? Do you think that this controversy would have been a blip on the radar if they were talking about Hillary Clinton? Or Nancy Pelosi? Or even a lesser human like Ann Coulter? Of course not. I can guarantee that XM got pressure from either the FCC or the White House that if they didn't do something to those bad men, the merger would be in jeopardy.

XM, of course, claims that it was due to "complaints" by listeners. Why, then, are listeners cancelling subscriptions left and right? Why are advertisters dropping their sponsorships? As much as I love the concept of satellite radio, I truly hope this blows up in XM's face. I hope that they are actually punished financially for their cowardice.

I'm not going to smash my radio or cancel my subscription, but consider this my strongly worded letter.

Monday, May 21, 2007

You Can't Spell "Breathtakingly iNCompetent" Without...

What the fuck is wrong with NBC?

Could a network possibly make worse decisions than this one? It hasn't just been recently. For years, NBC has been coming to the fork in the road and taking the wrong path.

Saturday was the last straw. There is much better comiplaining here, but I'l recap. Sabres and Senators, Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals, game goes into overtime at 5pm. Coincidentally, 5pm is the exact time that NBC was supposed to switch to their coverage of the Preakness, one leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing. Now, the race itself didn't start for two hours, yet NBC dropped the coverage and switched it over to the Versus channel, which is hard to get in many markets. So what did they show instead of overtime playoff hockey?

Fucking horse racing pregame. Are you kidding me?

NBC, you used to have the world on a string. You once dominated the airwaves like no one else. What in God's name is your problem?

Why did you ruin the unsinkable Must-See Thursday Lineup by stubbornly inserting The Apprentice into the 9-10 slot? There was a place for the apprentice, but Thursday had been holy ground for 20 years, from The Cosby Show to Friends. The formula is very simple: two straight hours of comedy (Friends at 8:00, Seinfeld or Will & Grace at 9:00, with mediocre or struggling series-es at the :30s), then E.R. Simple. But noooo, you had to jump on the stupid reality-TV bandwagon and kowtow to that preening schmuck Donald Trump, who is a "first-class, world-class" asshole. You have only just recovered from that colossal misstep, but you did it by blowing your entire sitcom wad, putting all four of your good shows on one night, and even resorting to bloated "super-sized" episodes. You aren't fooling me, NBC, I know it's just more commercials.

Where did your journalistic ethics go when you gave wall-to-wall coverage of that greasy-faced piece of garbage who shot up the Virginia Tech campus? Did you not realize that you played right into his hands by giving him the credence that he so desperately wanted? And it wasn't just the fact that you played it, or that you made a knee-jerk reaction to show the footage. You made sure you ran the footage through your machines to put the "NBC News" logo on every last frame of the videotape. Do you have any idea how many copycat killers you likely inspired by making this guy into a celebrity? Was the bump in ratings worth it? No wonder they're calling you the "Al-Jazeera of Psychotic Killers."

Why do you cancel promising shows like "Committed" and "Four Kings" and "Andy Barker, P.I." and then replace it with crappy (and I'm sure cheap) reality programming? Is your research and development so bad that you can't even bring yourself to find ONE new sitcom for the new schedule? How many times can you show "Deal or No Deal"? Why are the other networks swimming in good sitcoms? And all yours are smushed into Thursday?

Why did you take "The Black Donnellys" off the air before it even had a chance to develop any kind of following. You let that overrated, bloated "Studio 60" show go for months because it had Aaron Sorkin's name attached to it. But "Donnellys" -- an infinitely better show if you ask me -- was relegated to so the network could "decide if enough people watched it before they put it back on the air." Jackasses!

Do you even realize that you have completely ruined the "Dateline: To Catch a Predator" series by overexposure? That used to be the best reality program on TV, but you got greedy and started showing it too much. Now it's just sad and not even fun anymore. That's right: you made the topic of child molestation no fun anymore.

And why, oh why, couldn't you figure out that hockey is a magnificent game, and that there are more teams than the Rangers, Penguins and Capitals playing on any given day. Did you realize that it might be good to expose more than just the "stars" of the game (Crosby, Ovechkin) and maybe emphasize some of the good teams out there? (COUGHsabressenatorspredatorsCOUGH). Has the way you ruined the NBA -- by turning it into a glorified one-on-one sport -- taught you nothing about how the game should be marketed? Of course, your contempt for hockey fans is clear enough.

I don't normally care about TV ratings and how they factor into decisions networks make. I care about art, not commerce. If there was any justice in this world, "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" would be competing against "How I Met Your Mother" for the number one rating on TV. Jay Leno would have been off the air 8 years ago and John Madden would never have been allowed near a microphone again.

But there is no justice. We live in a world where if a TV executive happens to come across a good idea, it's a goddamn miracle. In fact I would say that most good shows probably happen today in spite of execs, not because of them. NBC just happens to currently be the worst of them. I considered boycotting the entire network, but then I remembered they still do have "The Office" and "30 Rock" so I'll just wait until they cancel those two first.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's Gold, Jerry. GOLD!

I have been severely slacking on my Golden Age Hip Hop site since, oh, October. And the only reason was that I moved and lost internet access, then got it back but not until like February, and then I lost my internet again, and only got it back recently but my computer is too slow and so now I can't really view YouTube from home, only from work.

I know, excuses-excuses.

Bottom line is this: as long as I have an internet connection, I am going to continue to update the site anew. I will be putting up some of the best videos of the Golden Age (1988ish to 1996ish), as well as newer progressive rap music that has the same aesthetic. I encourage your comments and criticisms. Please keep it intelligent. Or as intelligent as you are capable of being.

Now, I went a little CD crazy this week, and I did something I don't do a lot. I bought 4 CDs by white hip hop artists. I didn't do this on purpose, it just worked out that way. I bought CDs from El-P, Sage Francis, RJD2 and Brother Ali. I would have bought one from Cage -- another cracker -- if they had it at Soundgarden. I also did buy J-Dilla, who is a "brotha," but I'm fascinated by white rappers for some reason. (Incidentally, to see a very brief and kinda hard to understand freestyle between Brother Ali and Sage Francis, click here.)

Let me break each album down quickly in order from least good to goodest.

Sage Francis - Human the Death Dance ... The label on this album says "His Most Personal Album to Date." It's all well and good to celebrate how personal your albums are, especially when you're a hip-hop artist, but get over it. His first major studio album was called "Personal Journals." We get it: you're personal! What bugs me is that the reason I liked Sage in the first place is because he wasn't afraid to use his personal stuff, but he always kept it in a hip-hop context. He still does, but he's somehow stuck between hip-hop, alternative rock and slam poetry. This album is actually the best of his studio albums, but I can't help but wish he was still making bootleg mix cd's like the "Sick of..." series. But how can I not like a big fat bald guy? I guess I would just like a little more breakbeat sounding production. But that's just me. I do, however, like the fact that Sage has the audacity to go after Eminem on his song "Midgets and Giants."

El-P - I'll Sleep When You're Dead .... If you've heard the last few El-P projects, you kind of know his style. It's a lot of industrial, almost military drumbeats, with a lot of anger and yelling. It's a far cry from the murky, plodding beats of Company Flow. It's just this side of techno. The album features production by Cat Power and Trent Reznor, and guest vocals by Cage and Aesop Rock (our greatest current rapper, in my opinion). But all the songs sort of blend together, not too many distinguishable from the next. I have always wondered why El-P, considering he is an almost unparalleled lyricist, would choose to have so much noise on his albums that make his lyrics even harder to hear. His in-your-face barrage of sound is becoming his trademark, but he's at risk of marginalizing himself. As if he gives a shit what I think about it.

RJD2 - The Third Hand...
Okay I should have read up on this one, because apparently RJD2 stopped making hip hop for a brief time, and instead made something that sounds kind of like a cross between Zero 7 and Radiohead. And I like it. RJ's first album -- Deadringer -- is a masterpiece of instrumental production, and his song "Ghostwriter" is a 5-star song (you'll hear it whenever my phone rings). This is a good, upbeat album. RJ's singing voice (there is no rapping on the album) isn't amazing, but passable, and actually fits with the tone of the rest of the album. Although I have to say, it made me do a little digging, and next paycheck my next CD purchase is going to be Soul Position (aka RJD2 and Blueprint)'s Things Go Better With AJ & Al; I listened to some clips of it on the internet and almost every track blew me away.

Brother Ali - The Undisputed Truth ...
I was super skeptical about this one. Let me tell you what I knew about Brother Ali: he is a white rapper. In fact he is so white that he is an albino (I kid you not). He is also a muslim. He is very fat and has kind of a lazy eye. Looking at pictures and the album cover, I thought this guy was gonna be another lameass clown white rapper like Bubba Sparxx or Paul Wall. Even worse, I thought he would be some obtuse indie hip hoppin' whiteboy like Awol One. I couldn't have been more wrong. This guy is the shit, and the album is very good. One of the best rap albums I've heard in a while, truthfully. So shame on me for making a judgment, because I would have lost out on a real gem if I hadn't given this one a look.

For your perusal: give the video below a look, it's called "Uncle Sam Goddamn." And tell me if it doesn't sound like the single greatest Geto Boys song ever made. The rest of the album is good too; it's a real hip hop album.

Anyway, I am trying to get a little more consistent on my hip hop blog, for the two of you who care. Keep the suggestions and comments coming.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

You Don't Know What It's Like Unless You're One of Us

I know that I am constantly teetering on the edge of self-pity, but I feel like I have to just get it out there.

It's never going to happen for me. Ever.

The sooner I accept that, the better. High hopes equal disappointment. Period. I would rather wallow in mediocrity than get close to the top of the mountain and fall off. There's that old adage: better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Not true. It's easy to go through life with a cold, black heart, caring for nothing and nobody.

No. Loving and losing is the toughest thing. If you don't care, it doesn't hurt.

It is the toughest of times, and you can't possibly understand it.

Not unless you too are a Buffalo sports fan.

My Sabres, so wonderfully dominant throughout the regular season, ran into a brick wall. They won the President's Cup for best record in the league, and they had the best record in the NHL pretty much wire-to-wire.

They fought hard in two series against the Islanders and Rangers, which supposedly proved their mettle in high-pressure situations. They had high hopes going into a series with the #4 seed Ottawa Senators, which everyone expected to be a classic series. While games 2 and 3 have been exciting, they have not proved to add up to a classic series. So now, barring only the third 3-0 comeback in NHL history (and the first since the year before I was born), the Slugs will finally be laid to rest in a salty grave.

And here's the thing: it was completely unexpected.

This is how we all feel today I should have known better. More about our history in a moment, but first a brief requiem for this beautiful team. They were the most talented scorers in the league this year, and they were shut out in Game 3. For the first time. All season. I don't know if they are too tired, thinking too much, or what. But they are done. And it kills me to say that. This was the first time since I was in high school that I felt that one of "my teams" had a shot -- a real shot -- to win it all. They were so strong this year, and battled adversity all year. This year, they came into the playoffs healthy and with something to prove. And all they have to show for it is a big goose-egg.

I don't even really want them to win Game Four. Let it end already. No mas. If you have to break our hearts, do it in another country.

I said before that this was totally unexpected, but now that I think of it, it was totally expected. Since I was 11 years old I have been a Bills and Sabres fan, and they have all climbed toward the top of the mountain only to tumble down.

Buffalo sports fans are unique. I am from Rochester, not Buffalo, but we share the same Western New York/Rust Belt sensibility. Rochester is Buffalo's loyal little brother, which is why I can't for the life of me figure out why there are so many goddamn Giants, Dolphins and Rangers fans in the area. But that's neither here nor there.

We share a very unique set of circumstances that no other city or region can really even come close to duplicating, and while many people are "fans" of their teams, there is nothing quite like the connection -- and heartbreak -- of being a Buffalo fan. Is there a fan of any city's teams in the country that can match this set of criteria?

  1. Miserable Location. Now, I hate when people say "Oh you only care about that team so much because you have nothing else to do where you live." If that were the case, are Yankees and Red Sox and Broncos and Cowboys fans lesser fans? I would never make that claim. But the fact is that sports are one of our great sources of pride because we can enjoy them indoors, since they generally take place in the colder months. I live a (relatively) fulfilling life in Syracuse, which many people on the "coasts" would call a podunk town. I have many other interests outside of sports and things that keep me busy. But we don't have the ocean, we don't have skyscrapers, we don't have a lot of the things that big cities have. So we can't go windsurfing when our teams lose to get our minds off it, or to the Museum of Modern Art. We drink. A lot.

  2. Constant fear of relocation. This is actually the scariest part of being a Buffalo fan. The Detroit Tigers can have 10 straight losing seasons, but you know they aren't going anywhere. The Sabres have been one of the better hockey franchises of the last decade, and they went bankrupt and almost left town! (I am proud of WNYers for selling out every home game this year.) In 1998 the Bills' future was also in doubt, as they had to have a mass marketing campaign to sell enough tickets to keep the lease at the stadium. A couple bad seasons are okay for the New Jersey Devils; declining tickets sales in Buffalo could be the death-knell. No other city has such a guillotine hanging over it's head.

  3. Team-City Identification. There are few cities in the country where when you hear the city's name, you think of a sports team. Green Bay is one of them, Buffalo is another. And what people might not understand (outside of, say, Philadelphia) is that when the Bills are doing bad, the whole city's psyche suffers. Mondays after a Bills loss are depressing, and I don't even live there. For the last week, Sabres fans have been miserable (myself included). It's really brutal stuff. The team is not it's own sovereign entity; it's an extension of us. When the Bills lose, I lose. And it's not voluntary. I can't just stop caring about the team. If I could, I would have started rooting for the Patriots or Colts or something. They are in my blood, and that blood is poisoned!

  4. Ineptitude and Heartbreak. This is really the crux of it all. By my count there are three major cities in the United States without a major sports championship in the last 50 years: San Diego, Cleveland and Buffalo. San Diego gets no sympathy because they have 72 degree weather all the time and once housed Ron Burgundy. Cleveland is the only city that could come close to Buffalo in terms of sports heartbreak. Cleveland has Jordan-over-Ehlo, The Drive, the Fumble, the 1995 and 1997 World Series, the Browns leaving for Baltimore. But we still have Wide Right, Ronnie Harmon dropping a TD (against Cleveland!) in 1989, Brett Hull's No-Goal, The Music City Miracle, and of course, four consecutive Super Bowl losses. (Note: Philly doesn't qualify for this list because the Phillies won the World Series in 1980. Any city that has a championship in the Color TV Era can't be on this list.)

This Sabres team will always be special to me. There was so much to love about them (although NBC couldn't get their head out of the Rangers' and Sidney Crosby's asses long enough to figure it out for their national broadcasts). They were everything we wish we had in ourselves: style, fleetness of foot, swagger, dominance. They carried us on their shoulders for much of the year and made it okay to be from Buffalo or Western New York for a little while. Those of us who live in those areas know it's just fine to be from Upstate New York, we just can't use sports as a point of pride anymore. I know it is unhealthy to put your self-worth into something stupid like that, especially something you can't control, but boy it sure felt great for a while.

Thanks for a great season. You guys almost had me there for a minute...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Filthy Rodents

Who is this cute little fella?

His name is Farfour, and he loves to entertain little children all across Palestine. He tells them to drink milk, study hard, and encourages them take up arms and perform violence against Israel and the United States. The show is called "Tomorrow's Pioneers" and is a children's show that is produced in Gaza by Hamas, which we all know is the terrorist organization -- you may remember them for their suicide bombings -- that was voted into power in Gaza, partially thanks to President Bush's "Freedom on the March" initiative. Thanks W!

The show will air tomorrow at 4pm local Palestinian time, just in time for kids getting home from school. Here he can teach the kiddies such wonderful lessons as:

"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists. Tee Hee Hee!"
"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers. YAY!"

What a lovely little program.

Hey I've got an idea. How about we start our own children's program that teaches American children to put up arms against all these subhuman animals? (Face it, one of them dressing up as a rodent is a serious upgrade for these filthy beasts.) How would that go over?

Oh wait, I know how it would go over. With a bunch of howling kooks parading through the streets and burning things, seeing as how that is how they deal with philosophical and religious differences. Why don't we have someone dressed up as the prophet Muhammed getting happily punched in the stomach by our fluffy cartoon characters? That would probably go over fine in Palestine, wouldn't it?

These are not people. These are insects. It has nothing to do with their race, it has to do with their lives. These are people who have telethons for suicide bombers. These are people who decapitate prisoners on TV. These are people who have no culture and have contributed nothing to society, but instead myopically obsess over the Koran and Islam. Can a society that has never contributed anything beautiful survive? Can a society whose members are constantly blowing themselves up be worth a shit?

Would kidnapping random Palestinians and chopping off their right hands on camera be considered un-American? Probably. Probably non-human too. But that's what these unholy beasts do -- and worse -- on a regular basis.

If this is what you fucking children do with the power you have, then maybe you really should have none at all. Every day in the United States the Red Cross experiences blood shortages, yet these sacks of human debris walk the earth using up good platelets. You wouldn't be missed.

Of course, I'm not sure if it's safe to put the blood of a dog, snake, rat or any other sniveling filthy animal into a human.

These are not people. And where is the disgust from the Islamic community? .... I didn't think so.

Get your shit together you fucking fascists or soon you will find yourselves extinct and it will be your own goddamn fault.

[Update: this blog -- more professional than mine, of course -- has a YouTube clip of the show with English subtitles. Charming little fucker ain't he?]

The Grudge Match Begins Tonight

No matter what, Sabres, you'll always be Top Shelf in my book...

They are bigger, and they may be tougher. But goddammit we are better. I've already told you what you have to do.

Now get out there and what voters did in November and take the Senators OUT!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Buffy the Empire (State) Slayer

As my buddy Toastie recently joked, looks like the Sabres' path to the Stanley Cup is going to have to go through New York State.

Now that they have dispatched of the Islanders and the Rangers, it appears that the Slugs have tightened their hold on the title of Best Team in the State. Now, it's on to Ottawa to see if they can retain the crown for the East. Perhaps later they can lay claim to the rest of North America. Game 6 was a tough one, but they showed a lot of guts in holding on at the end.

Buffalo celebrates their series victory after Game 6

I am bothered by a couple of things in the wake of this series, three things in particular.

1) You could practially see the dollar signs in the eyes of the broadcasters for NBC, with the delicious prospect of having the legendary New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals. Oh what an unbelievable ratings boost this would be! Forget the fact that the general public doesn't give a crap about the Rangers (like they might care about the Yankees or even the Knicks). The storyline was all about the Rangers, how gritty they were, how venerable a venue Madison Square Garden is, and how much heart they have.

Why wouldn't NBC do the smart thing in their advertising and highlight the tough-guy physicality of the Rangers matching up against the speed and finesse of the Sabres. The Sabres have been the most exciting and TV-friendly team in the NHL this year (even if not in this particular series), yet you would think that the NBC announcers were the Rangers' own play-by-play guys.

Anyone who has been following hockey this year can tell you that Ottawa-Buffalo is THE best matchup in the Eastern Conference for a playoff series, and possibly in the entire league. There will be scoring, great goaltending and LOTS of fights in this series. Plus, it's a serious grudge match. No one outside of the 212 area code gives a shit about the Rangers, NBC!

Sabres celebrate

2) I was really bothered by the lack of respect that the Rangers (and their media-sycophants at MSG) gave to the Sabres after this series. Not only did Jaromir Jagr say that the Rangers "gave the game away" -- as opposed to the Sabres being opportunistic and more talented -- but all the news coverage after the game was about how gritty and tough the Rangers were, and how they were sooo close to winning the series. Um, it was a six-game series! And Jagr said that he didn't think the Sabres were a better team than the Rangers. Jaromir, my friend, did you forget that the Sabres won the President's Trophy, and the Rangers were a #6 seed? The Rangers showed a lot of toughness in games three and four, and as much as they blew it on Drury's goal with 7 seconds left in game five, they were lucky to get away with one in game four in a goal by Daniel Briere that sure looked like a goal to me. So with all the bad calls that went the Rangers way, there was a lot that went against the Sabres too.

Buffalo Sabres' Henrik Tallinder (10) and Paul Gaustad (28) congratulate Jason Pominville (29) on his goal

3) The Rangers played dirty and the national media never picked up on it. There were a ton of non-calls where Rangers mugged the Sabres and not a word was said. That loudmouth Sean Avery, for example, got away with a huge hooking call in game six, and no announcers said a word. Instead, all we here about is how brilliant Henrik Lundqvist is (which, by the way, he really was, much respect to Henrik).

So next up is the Ottawa Senators...

They are the only team in the league that scares the living shit out of me. They are a mirror image of the Sabres, but bigger. They have three scoring lines -- including the dreaded Daniel Alfredsson-Jason Spezza-Dany Heatley line -- and goalie Ray Emery is playing out of his mind. He outplayed Martin Brodeur in the previous round, and Brodeur had the best year of any goalie in the league.

Buffalo needs to do a few things:

1) Score first. This team plays much better with a lead than when playing catch-up. Chris Drury isn't going to be able to score with 7 seconds left in every game, and the Sens have a history of playoff frustration. If they can play off of that, they could have an early advantage. Get 'em scared and panicked early.

2) Kill those damn penalties. The Rangers' power play was way too effective for my liking, and they don't have half the scoring ability of Ottawa. They need to really scale back the stupid penalties (especially for dumb things like interference and delay of game). If Ottawa gets enough chances, they will murder you on the power play. And part of that penalty killing leads to ...

3) Play physical. The Sabres had trouble matching up with a power team, now they will have to match up with another finesse team, but one that has been playing very physically in the playoffs. I say Game One, knock them all over the ice. Make them clean hits (see #2) but make them pay for coming into the Buffalo zone. They have to play with a chip on their shoulder. They're still the Senators, for pete's sake.

4) Stay composed. It's going to be tempting to get into scuffles for revenge over this little incident in February (click on it, it's awesome), but they have to keep it clean. There is serious bad blood between these two teams, but don't let it turn into a 1985 St. Louis Cardinals-style meltdown. You stay classy, Banana Slugs.

5) Attack! Attack! Attack! The reason Buffalo lost game four was that they played on their heels all night. They were passive, trying not to lose rather than to win. They had no energy, no enthusiasm. They were completely outplayed. After the Rangers scored their second goal late in the third period, Buffalo finally got desperate, and turned on the jets. Not surprisingly, they scored quickly, and then seemingly scored again with less than 20 seconds remaining (but the goal wasn't allowed). When they are on their game, they can overwhelm any defense in the league, and when they are sniping shots continuously, a few of them are bound to go in. I say keep pressing, and put Ray Emery right in the crosshairs. He's not as good as the Sabres' Ryan Miller, so he can be lit up. Hell, after Lundqvist I'm guessing almost any goalie in the league will be an easier target.

This is free advice, babies. Take it and let's win this thing in four. Fine, I'll be happy with six.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Slugs, Drury and Max-ecutioner

Yawn....Rangers vs. Sabres Friday Night.

Slugs are down 1-0 to the Rangers with under 30 seconds to play. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist looks like Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuck and Dominic Hasek -- all in their primes -- rolled into one.

The Sabres' Chris Drury (#23), who has a penchant for clutch scoring, zings one into the back of the net to force overtime with 7.7 to play. Once again, he carries the team on his back.

Drury comes through with a pair of 7s

In overtime, Maxim Afinogenov with a SHAWWWWWWWWT. He puts rubber to rope five minute into the OT to give the Erie County Assassins a 3-2 lead in this best of seven series.

Max Afinogenov SCORES

Now the dirty dirty Rangers take their thuggery and chicanery back to MSG facing elimination. That kind of thing may play in the Big Apple boys, but don't bring that garbage to the City of Good Neighbors.

Believe it!

Awesome Show Alert: The Whitest Kids U'Know

There are a lot of awesome shows on TV. Some are really awesome (The Office, How I Met Your Mother), some are kind of awesome (30 Rock, Battlestar Galactica) and some are not awesome at all (Nip/Tuck, I Love New York).

Once in a while, I discover a show that is pretty awesome. A new one I've found is The Whitest Kids U'Know, which is shown at odd hours on Fuse (channel 143 in Syracuse), which is Canada's version of MTV. Whitest Kids is a sketch comedy show that is a mix between Mr. Show with Bob and David and The Kids in the Hall, with the high-concept humor of the former and the loose, free-wheeling feel of the latter. I highly recommend setting the ol' DVR.

For some clips, go to the College Humor website tagged "WKUK". You can also go to their official site where they have tons of archived clips. Okay, so maybe you might not like it, but I just watched two episodes and laughed my ass off. Give it a shot, what have you got to lose for chrissakes?

You can see the "Hitler Rap" sketch right here.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Goal

Buffalo Sabres Danny Briere Goal

I should have expected this.

I am less bothered by this (which I am 99.3% sure was actually a goal) than I am by the Sabres' lethargy in this game. They didn't even wake up at all until the Rangers were already up 2-0 on them late in the 3rd period. As soon as that happened, they started FINALLY playing Sabre hockey. Passing, speeding by defenders, crashing the net. ATTACKING!

Why did it take them 50 minutes to start playing? They were not physical, but they were also not finesse. I know they have to be patient, but they are TOO patient. They're letting the Rangers disrupt all their passing. They are not utilizing their speed and are being careless.

This Rangers team is NOT that good. Come on, goddammit! They need to start overwhelming them with speed and wear those old bastards out. Lundqvist can't stop you forever, but maybe some misdirection or some shots from the outside instead of 50-foot slap shots directly into his bread basket.

You're better than this, boys. Don't go out like that.

Marshawn and Poz

Seems like my Bills did alright in the Draft this weekend. Apparently they "reached" for their first pick, Cal Running Back Marshawn Lynch, and got a "steal" with their second pick, Paul Posluszny, a linebacker from "Linebacker U," Penn State.

I like these guys a lot. Marshawn looks like a rapper from 1992, and Pozluszny looks like A.J. Soprano with some bulk on him. Marshawn is very soft-spoken, and seems very enthusiastic. Pozluszny is probably a bit of a meathead, but he's our meathead now, dammit!

Here are some highlights of each one, set to musical accompaniment.

First Marshawn Lynch, set to N.W.A's wonderful "100 Miles and Runnin'" (the clean version)

And also, Paul Pozlaz ... Puzlas.... they just call him "Poz", to "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.

Apparently these two fellas knew each other before. You can see the Marshawn-Poz connection at the Bills' offical site. There are also some interviews with each draft pick you can get to from that site.

One of them is bound to be a bust, but here's to optimism.