Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm warning you now this is too long and terribly written

If you’ll notice, I upgraded the site to the new Blogger, meaning everything looks a little bit shinier. My ultimate goal is to get a feed going on the right side where I can just randomly post links, even if I’m not posting actual content, that I would have put up if I were more timely about updating. That’s the ultimate goal, but we shall see if it actually happens considering I’m HTML and RSS incompetent.

Anyway, a little less than a week out from spring break and the weather in DC has been absolutely perfect. It’s odd to be in a place where spring actually has arrived by the end of March – no offense, South Bend – and we happily await the cherry blossoms and the apparent festival that accompanies it. However, this warm weather and the release of next semester’s classes make it hard not to look forward a little bit ahead to what I assume will be the grandiose awesomeness of senior year.

Most everyone will be living off-campus in various party pads, and with everyone finally 21, we’ll be able to fully enjoy the smoke-filled, cancer-loving bars of northern Indiana[i]. And how about a full autumn of pigskin traveling greatness, with State College, Ann Arbor, West Lafayette and perhaps Westwood and/or Palo Alto on the agenda? Of course, at least for three of the five, with an extended weekend spent in central PA taking it all in. I also have the advantage of being able to finish off both my major and minor in the first semester, but I think I might stretch it out a bit, as well as try to toss in some random minor (Art History, here I come).

Still, lot of time left between now and then, including six more glorious weeks in the District, a pit stop in South Bend over finals week and then wherever I end up this summer. Moving onto some less futuristic stuff…

McHatred: I tried to like Grey’s Anatomy, starting with the Super Bowl episodes and through the rest of last season, including the positively mind-numbing finale that ended in a faux prom in the hospital for the most contrived of reasons, both within the storyline and from a writing perspective (everyone gets to dress up and stare awkwardly across the dance floor!). When The OC made its resurgence, Scrubs came back on and 30 Rock became one of the funniest shows on television, I realized that watching a show in which you could count the characters you liked on one hand – out of a cast of a dozen or more – was probably not the best thing.

That’s why I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it as everyone slowly realizes these people are loathsome. Alan Sepinwall, television critic to the masses, is slowly starting to lose his mind after last week and little improvement this week.(just note the title), while The Onion AV Club points out a multitude of the most annoying traits (I say it’s just Ellen Pompeo’s constant whining). Sadly, its ratings will never dip like Lost’s finally has, but I can always dream.

Benefits of the show? Obviously Kate Walsh.

Another Pirates Generation everybody shouting…: We are quickly approaching Opening Day (Opening Night is a week from tomorrow, the rest of the league(s?) starting the day after), and while the Pirates still are probably going to be terrible, there’s a few reasons to have hope. The first is that in the WaPo hit piece on Baltimore Orioles’ boss Peter Angelos, the highly-coveted first baseman that the Orioles didn’t trade for? Adam LaRoche, who to my great surprise, knocked out 32 homers last year. You wouldn’t think he’d have much protection in the Pirates’ line-up, but if Xavier Nady continues to play well and Freddy Sanchez has a season even somewhat resembling his 2006 campaign, the middle of the order – Sanchez/Bay/LaRoche/Nady – looks like what a big league middle of the order should look like. Now if Jose Bautista and his beautifully high OPS can replace the blackhole known as Jack Wilson[ii], we might be able to score some runs. If the young pitching progresses at all…

(I know, dreaming is a silly thing to do. The Buccos will by lucky to get 70 wins, then the Pittsburgh media will give them a pass because the payroll just isn’t there, when other teams are considerably more effective with considerably less resources. I’m sorry, I’m just getting angry now.)

Oh, and why do I hate the Red Sox more than the Yankees now? Bill Simmons, who I still really enjoy most of the time unlike a multitude of haters on the internet, please take it away:

You know, I felt twinges of this reader's anger this winter, because the truth is, I never wanted to root for a team that bought championships like the Yankees, even though our 2004 payroll was easily nine figures and we landed Schilling, Pedro and Manny mainly because we were one of the only teams that could afford them. Even so, it was always more fun believing that the Red Sox were the "underdogs" in the ongoing blood feud because we didn't spend as much money as the Yanks. But when they have similar payrolls? Not as much fun. So I was bummed out. For instance, the Dice-K signing seemed excessive to me at the time, and I would have much rather seen them go the "Moneyball" route with right field and try to get lucky there (like they did with the Mueller-Ortiz-Millar signings in 2003) over just saying, "Screw it!" and throwing $70 million at J.D. Drew. There was no art to the way they slapped together the 2007 team; they started writing big, fat checks and that was that.

And then spring training rolled around and I watched a couple of Dice-K starts. That's all I needed. The guy's great. If you're a Red Sox fan, you'll be checking the paper every day just to make sure you don't miss one of his starts this year -- he's not as overpowering as vintage Pedro, but he has a similar arsenal of pitches (including a ridiculous collection of off-speed pitches) and a real swagger on the mound. You always feel like you're in good hands with him. Same with Papi and Manny. And Papelbon. Lugo and Drew are enormous upgrades over Gonzalez and Nixon. Beckett looks ready for a comeback year. Schilling looks like he has one last good year in him. And so on. And so on. And now that the one question (closer) has been resolved with Papelbon's willingness to take the job back, it feels like we're headed for a monster season. It's the best team that money can buy. Literally. And you know what? It's not my money. So screw it. I'm on board. Even if there's absolutely no difference between the Red Sox and Yankees anymore


(Well, except for the fans. We have jobs.)

Just to recap: The Yankees spending money was irredeemably terrible, but when the Red Sox do it, it’s okay because…it’s not the fans’ money? Even when the Red Sox were “underdogs” that won the title in 2004, they still had a payroll in the top few of baseball. I really, really hate the Red Sox Nation, their accents and the fact they pretty much are the Yankees 2.0 to everyone else in the baseball universe, only they can’t see it.

One last note on the Pirates: This was the scariest moment in the history of PNC Park, and Dill and I will believe that until a giant monster comes out of the river and attacks right field. In all honesty, I don’t know how the planes didn’t run into the rotunda they were flying that low. So. Terrifying.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the theater: It is! After the terrible series of weekends where Ghost Rider, Norbit and Wild Hogs ruled the box office, 300 was a nice transition into this weekend, where we got three legitimately good-to-at-least-interesting movies: Reign Over Me, Shooter, TMNT. The reviews for the latter two aren’t particularly good, but for action-thrillers with Mark Wahlberg and an animated TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movie, do you need great reviews? Throw in Don Cheadle getting some more mainstream recognition and the opening of Blades of Glory next week and we’re right on our way to summer blockbuster heaven. The drought is over! Hoorah!

Joey Porter and South Beach? What could go wrong?: I never stated my stance on the Dolphins spending a crapload of money to get former Steeler linebacker and perennially overrated “superstar” Joey Porter, if only because I’m trying to get away from the NFL like you would a bad addiction or an abusive partner in a relationship. I obviously wasn’t thrilled because that was a lot of guaranteed money for someone on the downside of their career, but the Dolphins had failed to make a move yet in free agency and every other marquee name was also going for an extreme amount. While making a move for the sake of making a move is a silly way to go about things, Dolphans were starting to get nervous.

Now the worst transition is that when Porter does something stupid, I’m no longer the guy who gets to send the ESPN link about his various misdeeds to my friends: Now they get to send it to me, along with a snarky comment about “Nice pick-up”or others of that ilk. I really hate the NFL and what it’s done to me.

Reason Number #6574 People Hate George W. Bush: I’m not sure if I’m mentioned this yet, but everyone needs to watch Jesus Camp. I don’t think it’s particularly well done – it’s good, mind you, just not great and it drags at times, although I think I just wanted to see them lay into the crazies a little more – but it’s a perfect view on why tolerance and separation of church and state are so important in government. Regardless of what your stance on abortion is, I think we can all agree that using preteens to campaign for your side, whichever it may be, is somewhere between “exploitive” and “the worst possible thing you can do”. My favorite scene by far is when the home-schooled kids, taught by their zealot mother, are going over the reasons why evolution is so wrong. The greatest joy in my political life right now is that the right wing Christian crazies, at the current moment, have to choose between pro-gay Rudy Giuliani, pro-choice (no matter what he says publicly) John McCain and Mormon Mitt Romney. Two sane people going at it for president next November?! Too much excitement.

This is what's wrong with America.

One Shining Moment: Maybe sports in general are just miserable now (although the upcoming NBA playoffs are going to be absolutely fantastic, at least out West), because the absence of any upsets outside of VCU or UNLV in this tournament is really disheartening. Acie Law missed a lay-up, the white guy on the Salukis couldn’t finish a break, somehow the ball didn’t get in Chris Lofton’s hands at the end of the Ohio State game, Jeff Green blatantly traveled and Southern Cal couldn’t finish the job against the Tar Heels. On the bright side, that leaves one absolutely epic Elite Eight game (North Carolina versus Georgetown, in a game featuring about eight or nine potential first round draft picks) and one game that would be a lot better if Ben Howland weren’t involved (UCLA/Kansas). Of course I’ll watch them, other than maybe napping through some of them tomorrow after the show, but not having a Cinderella really takes the fun out of things.

“Awkward silence was the correct answer!”: ALOTT5MA described How I Met Your Mother as “like hanging out with a friend you've known your whole life. More so, I think, than Friends itself ever was. Welcome back from hiatus, old friend!”. I’d say that’s extremely accurate, as even though there hadn’t been a new episode in a few weeks, Monday’s offering was right in pace with the rest of the great season. I’m a little bit behind in my Office, Real World and Friday Night Lights, but I always make time for some NPH action, especially with Veronica on what might be its last pre-cancellation break.

[i] That’s going to be the most annoying trait I carry out of this semester: An absolute loathing of states/cities/bars that don’t ban smoking for the greater good of all patrons involved. It’s probably less about the actual smell at the time and burning in my lungs and more about having to do more laundry

[ii] I know, I know: You love Jack Wilson. Every once in a while he makes a great defensive play, and hey, remember that season he hit really well? Or the big home run against the Mets? He has an OBP of .300. He’s a blackhole in the lineup. For the good of the Pirates, Jack needs to bat 8th if he’s even on the squad, and I’d prefer we just not play him. And again, I know: You love Jack Wilson.

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