Category Archives: TV

Nike’s “Write The Future” World Cup Commercial

World Cup 2010

So it’s a Nike ad… but hey it’s getting me amped for the World Cup (as if I need a commercial to get me excited). But the video is awesome and is foreshadowing for some goosebumps from South Africa. We are now officially under 21 days until the Cup begins. Scarves Up fans…

Musical Wednesday: DeWyze & Bowersox, King & Taylor Duets, and a Ballin 6th Grader

This should be a recap of American Idol last night. But I’m not really going to do a recap until it comes down to the final two: Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. I put this prediction out there weeks/months ago. However, I didn’t know they were going to do duets this week on Idol.

Call it chance or call it timing. I was listening to the radio this weekend while gardening/planting for Moms and they were playing the entire concert of James Taylor and Carole King at the Troubadour (one of my favorite venues in LA, which ironically I went to less when I wasn’t living there than when I was). To you young bucks out there or the musically deficient readers of mine, you have to peep out both of these artists. Not musicians or songwriters, but artists. Individually they are masterful but together they exemplify, duet.  “Up On the Roof” was originally written by Carole King, popularized by The Drifters, but dominated by the duet of King and Taylor. The song reminds me of all the good times on my old rooftop in downtown Los Angeles.

Not at all to compare Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox to James Taylor and Carole King, but figured the last song was a good lead in to this video. I’m a sucker for musicals or movies based around music. Peep the “Who is the Penning Panda?” page and you’ll find a few of such movies. One of the movies based upon musicians is the movie Once. That movie gets me EVERY time for a number of reasons, some personal, but mostly for the story and the music. Keeping that in mind, you’ll understand the next part of this blog.

One of my dearest friends, Mags, lives in the Central Time Zone and she sent me a text before Idol aired West Coast time that read: “Oh God you’re going to have an orgasm when you watch a certain song on Idol tonight!”

This of course had me wondering as she knows me as well as anyone out there… I was out and about and didn’t get to see it “live,” but when I did finally get a chance to watch it on DVR I’d have to say… she was right. Not only were DeWyze and Bowersox paired up, but they sang one of my favorite duets of all time from the movie Once, “Falling Slowly.”

Let’s be honest there are really only two “stars” to come out of American Idol: Kelly Clarkson (probably because she was the first winner) and Carrie Underwood (mmmm, Carrie Underwood). Again not saying DeWyze or Bowersox will be as successful as either of those two, but I’m really vibing off both of them. If they can keep their heads on straight and find a good support team, they can do good things. And hopefully they pull off another duet in the future… best performance all season, hands down.

Speaking of people with musical skill. This was posted by a friend of mine and I can’t help but snag it and repost it. If you haven’t heard of Greyson Michael Chance yet, I have a feeling you will. At least virally online. This kid is amazing and to think he’s only 12. I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time before someone “discovers” him and signs this kid.

This is the video that my friend Jillian posted of Greyson covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at his school’s Edmond’s Sixth Grade Festival. Definitely check out his YouTube Channel that also features two of his original songs. A brilliant songwriter and musician, this kid if he can keep his nose clean (all puns intended) could be on the fast-track to stardom. I often have my qualms about the Internet, but it’s amazing how fast something like Greyson’s talent can spread. I mean if Greyson was on American Idol, he’d be getting all the teenie bopper texts (look at the girl’s reactions in the background). This kid is probably all-time dude when it comes to “7 in Heaven” at his middle school parties. Or in the words of my boy Sam, “They want to jump his bones.”

Hey Greyson, do you need an agent?

New Banned South Park Episode

The South Park Posse

I’m pretty much a huge fan of South Park. No matter how far they push the envelope, everything they do is on point.

Well it looks like Trey Parker and Matt Stone pushed it to the edge last night. I wasn’t near my TV to watch it last night. But rumblings from my friends said that the first 10-15 minutes weren’t even aired. So naturally I had to go find what the deal was. Apparently a lot of it was censored, check this link on a brief discussion.

I wasn’t able to find an uncensored version. I’m sure one will pop up sooner or later on the Internet. But I was able to find the first part of the episode apparently not aired in some places last night. That particular link will include a few random pop ups. If you’d like to view one without pop ups you can go here. However, that site for this particular episode pretty slow to refresh. So however you want to view it, it’s up to you.

I’m not going to break down the episode, I’ll leave that up to you and whatever websites/media outlets that so choose. But in my opinion they should’ve just let the episode run without the censorship. Our society has come to a point where political correctness is stifling creativity and an open mind, rather than protecting anything. We’re so caught up in trying not to offend anyone, that we’re quashing any real conversation. It’s like the sheltered child growing up, who when the finally break free of their parent’s nest they realize that the world is a vast place and reality is not confined to four walls. If we are ever going to break free of stereotypes and ignorant beliefs, we need to face them head on instead of hiding them in a closet. Our society is so quick to turn their heads or ignore reality. Yes, you choose your own reality. However, I fear that our society and generations after mine are going to be too blind to realize real issues.

That was an impromptu rant. However, if you want to have an honest and more fluid discussion with me I’ll be glad to oblige. Maybe I’ll speak more of this and my disdain for categorization and the softening of our society. Not that we need to be hard asses all the time and not that some categorization can help us. But we’re stuck in this old paradigm that is outdated as some “truths” and “morals” we once thought were right. Only when we can address these old notions, figure out their real base can we move on to better things. What are those “better things”? Again get a hold of me so we can discuss some things. We can learn and appreciate the past, but a massive transcendence of the mind is needed more now than ever.

With that, I will be off to Mexico for a spell and hopefully will return with some good blogs for you all.

American Idol: Bowersox won the contest tonight

So again I’ve had a busy week, but I have to make time for an American Idol post. For all intensive purposes, unless someone comes up with an amazing performance this could really be my last American Idol post. The contest is over. Also I won’t be writing one next week, as I’ll be chillin on a hammock in Puerto Vallarta.

The theme for tonight’s episode was “inspirational songs.”

Inspirational to my heart was Siobhan Magnus; again she looked amazing tonight. Despite Simon’s confusion of the “leaves” (actually butterflies) on her dress, she looked stunning (do I have an infatuation? Most likely). Unfortunately, her performance was not inspirational. I mean taking on “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey is tough for anyone. She may be in the bottom three tomorrow. I feel like she’s working more on her justification speech after her performances rather than her actual singing. Still love you and still think you’re right on for standing up for what you want to do.

The rest, for the lack of better description… BORING. I’m not even going to talk about them. The competition has come down to two contestants: Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. Lee is just ready to cut an album, I’m sure after doing his obligatory songs picked by producers he’ll be on point.

Though the competition in my eyes is down to two people (has been for a month now), there is one contestant who is BY FAR head (dreads and all) and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

I believe my years of American Idol fandom warrants this paragraph. The past few years of Idol has been sorely lacking on talent. It should be no surprise that Simon Cowell will be leaving the show after this year. There have been a few gems in the rough, but no real stars. Album sales are indicative enough (even though album sales by no means qualify talent). That being said, Crystal (apt for this analogy) Bowersox is a diamond.

Now you should know that Carrie Underwood pretty much makes me stop anything I’m doing. Keep that in mind with my next statement. Crystal Bowersox is on a whole other level, on the level of Carrie Underwood (for American Idol purposes). I might, might, even venture to say she is ahead of her. Every week she comes out almost mocking the rest of the contestants with her talent (though Lee can definitely hang, but just hasn’t climbed to the top of the Idol rock).

I’m going to post both Lee and Crystal’s performances. But I could really just post Crystal’s. I’m posting Lee’s because his song choice of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” was money. It’s one of my favorite songs. Lee gave his standard professional performance. But as far as it being “Inspiration Week,” it was about five steps behind Crystal’s performance of Curtis Mayfield’s CLASSIC “People Get Ready.”

I literally got goose bumps from Crystal’s performance. I didn’t even get goose bumps from Carrie Underwood’s performance of Heart’s “Alone” (it just made my heart melt). My boy Jack says she’s a “huge star,” and I agree. In a simple equation she’s Joss Stone + Janis Joplin + honest soul + an instrumentalist = huge star. I’ve been tentative to crown her Season 7’s winner, but after tonight the level she’s on, really it’s Crystal Bowersox and the rest of American Idol. The way she keeps it honest and real (helps that she’s a mom) will go a long way in this industry. Watch those tears at the end of the song as she hit the lyrics “you don’t need a ticket, you just need to thank the lord.” A genuine star that the industry needs.

Amendment to original post. Okay I can see one way that Lee DeWyze may sneak in the victory. But these song choices have to be timed perfectly to steal it. From the wonders of YouTube I found these two performances of the Kings of Leon “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” Lee, my dude when you read this (because I know you do)… well this may be the only way you’ll win American Idol (just don’t do that dance before Sex on Fire, it would defeat the title of the song). Do work son… but the crown is already on MommaSox.

Shuffleboard, Glee, Killer Whales, American Idol… Guess, I’m no longer hibernating

So I wasn’t going to blog this week. I am in April hibernation (it’s not going very well). But two things happened yesterday that has forced me to write a blog: a weird interaction, Glee returns, and the compulsory American Idol review.

Bizarre Brother-Sister Relationship

First thing, first… Alyssa, you missed another semi-adventure, but they’ll only continue with Booger now in town.

Okay, so last night (like every week) was $2 Tuesday at my favorite local watering hole. Last week they put out a new shuffleboard table. For those of you who don’t know, the house I lived in during law school had a legit shuffleboard court in the backyard. By legit, I mean the one with the clay disks and shuffleboard cues. The type of shuffleboards you see on cruise boats.

Look I’m Asian, we have a knack for doing well in skilled games. Don’t hate, it’s just true. So naturally we hop on the shuffleboard table. My first partner was the hommie Justin, we ran our first two games. We decided to switch it up and I gained one of my best friends Booger as my new partner. We again ran legs. By running legs I mean we were playing against some dudes, about 7 points down. Boogs comes through with a 7 point round I followed it up with a 4 pointer by knocking my opponents puck off the 3 zone and leaving my puck in it’s place. Muscled up homeboy in his size small Hard Rock t-shirt was furious. Basically I have a secret spin to my table shuffleboard game, if you think you have skills meet me at a bar. I’ll bring the quarters, you bring your tissues.

The point of all of this happened when Justin and I were partners. We played against a big dude (by big, I mean beer belly big) wearing a polo shirt with some martial arts patch on it. He was on Justin’s side. On my side was this feisty little girl (by little, I mean her head came just above my elbow) wearing a shirt trying it’s best to expose her cleavage.

Mmm... Hayley

So we’re playing, she’s getting all feisty. She pops on Paramore in the juke box. I’m going to stop right here. Look I’m in love with Hayley Williams, even more than Siobhan Magnus (discussed below). No, but seriously my boy works for Fueled by Ramen and has her phone number. He’s discussed my obsession with her, that she actually finds hilarious (meaning he didn’t paint me as a creeper, props Slice). He also said that he’d give me her number. I just fear asking for it, because I know I’ll just call her and say, “What are you doing tomorrow? Nothing? Sweet let’s get married and make babies.” So you now know how I felt when Paramore came on.

Turns out this feisty lil girl loves her just as much evidenced in her line, “I will have sex with Hayley.” Anyway she’s all bouncing around, getting all up in my biz. So the beer belly dude is about to shoot, she leans over and is pulling down her shirt screaming, “Shoot it here. Shoot it here fag.” I’m thinking, “Man these two have a bizarre relationship and I wouldn’t want to ever be in their house.”

Every time he shot she’d do the same thing (of course she did it for Justin also, but that’s besides the point). Midway trough the game we find out that Beer Belly and Elbow Height are brother and sister. The worst part is that Beer Belly was encouraging the antics of Elbow Height, it actually got worse. I’m a fan of awkward situations, but not at all of obnoxious drunks (yes sometimes I’m that guy, I’m usually not a fan afterwards).

When I found out they were brother and sister, I kinda got sick a lil bit. Between rounds they were getting awfully close to each other, seriously it was awful. I turn to Boogs and said, “Man if that was my sister, I’d tell her to put a jacket on.”

Anyway Elbow Height starts talking about her daughter to me. Then was all asking what I was doing later. Being the guy I am, I respond, “Not baby sitting.” She gets all bent out of shape, and pulls down her shirt, and goes “Even for these?” Being the guy I am, I actually held back. What I was going to say was, “Dude is your brother the father of your kid? And I’ve seen better.” Thankfully, Justin felt my flow and we ended the game in a blistering manner.

I was feeling a bit hung over this morning, but not from the $2 drinks… rather from that awkward ass scene with Big Belly and Elbow Height. I’d fear Elbow Height reading this blog and the fact that I may see her again at $2 Tuesday, but I’ve concluded she probably doesn’t know how to read.

Glee One-Liner

I actually just got into Glee a few weeks ago. I’ll thank a certain friend for making me watch the entire first half of the first season with them. It should be known that I’m a fan of singing, especially in shows and movies i.e. Amadeus, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and anytime Family Guy or Cartman breaks out into song. (Seriously click on those links, especially Cartman singing Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”).

So it shouldn’t surprise you that I think Glee is on point. Further it should not surprise you my favorite line from last night was (thanks to Maggie for reminding me):

“Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?”

Oh man that get’s me. And now I feel like I can repeat it without sounding homophobic. Dolphins are definitely not Killer Whales. For those who don’t know, the Panda will die by getting eaten by an Orca, quite possibly a pod of transient Orcas. Seriously, it’s in my prophecy along with a pool with a lion rock facade. You doubt me? What’s your prophecy?

American Idol Top 9 Redux

So the biggest news of this week for American Idol was the fact that last week Michael Lynche was saved by the judges. Rightfully so. That’s the bummer about this show, it’s really up to teenie bopper texters to vote for who remains. Before I get into my opinion of last night’s episode I’m going to put it out there, Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia will be the bottom two. Despite Andrew’s pre-Idol YouTube following, I just don’t think he’s grown and done enough.

What else can I say about Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox? Not my favorite performances, but both of them did a stand up job once again this week.

Siobhan Magnus, not your best and I fear you’re slipping a bit. But my babe has soul and I love it. You looked your hottest tonight, yes please with a cherry on top. And I hate cherries. She’s got the POWER vocals. Don’t back down Darlin. Though she did lay the best line by a contestant ever on American Idol, “I’m not just one kind of singer or one kind of vocalist. And if I can’t even label myself, I don’t think it’s even necessary to be labeled. I just love to sing.” If you know me and categorizations, I hate them. That’s it I’m flying down to LA to give her a proper hug. The Panda is in love. Siobhan = Bamboo.

Katie, you sassy little girl. Lovin it. I think of everyone she has the most potential. She has a Christina Aguilera attitude in her voice. Calm down folks, I don’t think she’s the next Christina Aguilera. I can only hope she can surround herself with the right people. I can see why my boy Jack is in love. I’m gonna take que from Maggie though, what is up with her outfits? Not that I’m a fashion guru in any sense, but I have some stylz (with a z). I smell good anyway, I bet she smells good. Playin. However hen she ages a year, I’ll give my true opinion. Jack, easy buddy.

Michael Lynche, not my favorite performance. But Big Mike proved he should’ve been saved last week. I wanna kick these teenie bopper text voters in the teeth. Too aggressive? Maybe, but damn. His vocals are silk. I enjoy the Marvin Gaye and Al green steez. Yet I still question where his niche is to sell records. Unlike Siobhan, he’s not unique enough. And I fear he may get lost in the money mongering label mix. He needs the Panda as his manager. Hit me up Big Mizzle.

Casey James can jam. Reminds me of Doyle Bramhall or Derek Trucks. And for all intensive purposes, those two sell records. I could get down with some Jack Daniels and Copenhagen and jam with him. I’m all about the blues rock, feelin it hommie. Just keep rockin it and swing that axe, you’re a musician dude. Stick to it and don’t forget it.

Aaron Kelly (my Moms’ favorite) has a good voice. The thing I dislike about the judge’s commentary to this date is that they judging him on his age. They want him to be like that lil bro-bag Justin Bieber. But seriously Aaron has a great voice. But if he is to succeed in this biz, he needs to believe in himself. He needs to believe that he has talent, unlike said Bieber. Hopefully that will come with age. Shit I know kids out of law school with no clue on who they are. Own it youngin.

I’ve said it before, but why is Tim Urban still on American Idol? Now my problem is magnified, last week’s performance was decent (I mean he did what he had to do for that particular Beatles song). This week, albeit nothing show stopping, but he came through again. Obviously he’s not near my top three Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, and Michael Lynche (in that order). But hey, during Elvis week all the contestants ran the risk of sounding like glorified karaoke singers, dude did all right. Not at all saying I’m a fan now.

Andrew Garcia, sorry my dude. Ask my friends, especially girls, I’m all about the cheeze. But for a second week in a row, that was excessively cheesy. You can get away with it with your song choice during Beatles week, but this week was not great. My dude, I’m one of those who was a follower of you on YouTube, but I believe your time has run out. If by chance you return next week, grab your acoustic and spill that soul brotha.

Wondrous Wednesday

I kinda pinned myself into a corner and now must stick with the blog theme of the week… Days of the week. I have a sneaky suspicion this will turn into a music blog, seeing how it was American Idol night last night.

So I might as well drop my first music video of this post. Simon & Garfunkel’s “Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.” If you’re looking for a Wednesday song, this is the one you should listen to. Though it was recorded in 1964, it still is a very relevant song.

Wednesday. Known as “Hump Day.”

Wednesday. The name of my endearing friend Alexis’ cat, affectionately nicknamed Dubs. RIP Wednesday, you’re the only cat that I can say that I miss our cuddle times.

Wednesday. My good friend (and best neighbor/cook) Alyssa had an on point thought about Wednesday last night (on a Tuesday), “Wednesday, half the week is over. It’s all downhill from there.” I cheers to that.

I’ve been fortunate lately to fall into great conversations with great people. I’m not ready to blog about such ideas, yet. But like one of those made for TV dramas, there was my obvious foreshadowing.

Instead, this is now my apparent weekly blog about American Idol.

John, Paul, Ringo, George - Musical Legends

Big week in the eyes of the Penning Panda. First it’s getting down to the nitty gritty of the top 9, it’s time for the cream to rise. Another reason why this was a big week, is because the contestants were to take on THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, The Beatles. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I think The Beatles are THE GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME. The contestants were asked to give their renditions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney written songs. John and Paul, saints? Well in name yes, but pretty much some of the best lyricists. Look, how many decades has it been and their songs are still relevant? As my dawg Randy Jackson would say, “Know what I’m sayin’ dude?”

Oh and the following paragraph there is a smattering of links to videos, I HIGHLY encourage you to click on em… there are some songs in here that you may not know about, but SHOULD. Picking a Lennon or McCartney song, the possibilities are endless. I have my favorites, sure. “Something” is the greatest love song of all time. “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” is just a solid jimmy jam. “In My Life” might be their best song (actually that’s a hard statement to make, but it is one of my favorites). The acoustic version of  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a masterpiece by George Harrison. The trio of “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/In the End” could exemplify my life on almost any day. Basically the fanatic I am, I could think of a Beatles song for ANY occasion. Pop music owes The Beatles. And the at times simplistic lyrics carry so much weight. Most people don’t know about their non-number 1s. But I can excuse it, there’s a reason they are number 1s. You don’t think The Beatles are current? Well if Rock Band isn’t current, then you could make that argument.

Now if it was me on American Idol, these would probably be the two Lennon/McCartney songs I’d choose from: “Oh! Darling” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” in Eddie Vedder fasion.

Now to the actual American Idol show. As I said I was already on the critical tip being Beatles week. Slightly nervous that they would ruin the songs, I was pleasantly impressed. For what it’s worth I believe that almost all of the contestants had their best weeks. I also had to raise my glass of beer (because I had one or four in my hand while watching) to the show in it’s entirety. I have to say it was one of the best all season.

Yes, yes, and yes I still love Siobhan Magnus. So basically these blogs are Siobhan infatuation posts, sorry. She chose to sing a song that SO MANY have butchered in the past. “Across the Universe” is one of those Beatles classics that you can’t do too much with it or else you’ll miss it’s essence. Siobhan’s high note has almost became her trademark, but this week she strategically placed it. I’d agree with Randy that it may be a bit sleepy, but technically I though it was an awesome rendition. I mentioned the high notes, but her falsetto was on point. One of her best performances this season? Probably not, but she kept it real… and for her to succeed in this industry that’s what she needs to continue to do. Oh and I love “amazingly weird.” Love it.

To the rest of the highlights. I’m not going to post Tim Urban’s “All My Loving”, but hey he sang within his range and kept it Beatles poppy. His ass still needs to go home, or go try out for Glee. He’ll probably stay, damn you teenie bopper texters.

Andrew Garcia gave a pretty good performance of “Can’t Buy Me Love“, a little cheezy, and that’s what you can fall into when you sing a Beatles song. I had high hopes for my dude, due to my YouTube following of him pre-Idol. All I’m gonna say is, stick to the acoustic my man.

Aaron Kelly’s “The Long and Winding Road” unfortunately followed the title of the song. This young buck can sing, no doubt. But it’s starting to become repetitive. He needs to come out swinging, loosen up, and connect with the songs. As it was a good rendition, it didn’t leap off at me. You need to find your “moment” son.

Michael Lynche is my dude. I thought his song choice of “Eleanor Rigby” was a good one. I’d agree with Simon that it had a bit of a musical flavor to it. But I mean with the strings and the meaning behind the song, that’s the essence, and Big Mike hit it. Here’s my thing, Big Mike will probably be in the top 3 when it’s all said and done along with Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. The difference between Big Mike and the other two, is that I really don’t know what kind of album he’d put out. He’s an entertaining dude and can sing well. But I have trouble seeing him sell many records. I could be wrong though, I gotta admit he’s been a pleasant surprise all season. For singing contest purposes he’s been solid every week.

I’ve always thought Casey James would be a good headliner to a rock band. He can definitely, definitely rock his axe. I applaud his song choice of “Jealous Guy“. It is one of those unknown songs that when you do hear it, realize that it could’ve been a hit for anyone other than the Beatles. Like I said Casey could be and probably will be a great frontman, but his acoustic flavor tonight was on point.

All season I’ve been pushing for Katie Stevens to break through. I dig her voice. I think her ceiling at age 17 is pretty damn high. But like Aaron Kelly they’ve been struggling to find the right song. I believe they are trying a wee bit too hard to compete with the more mature contestants who know themselves a bit better, and that only comes with age. My boy Jack said Katie Stevens’ performance of “Let it Be” was life-changing. Normally Jack and I are on the same page with music. First this is definitely a big song, like “Across the Universe” you can’t do too much with it. But what Katie did with it last night, was pretty awesome. THIS was the performance I was hoping for all season. Life changing? Jack there’s only been one life changing performance on Idol, Carrie Underwood’s rendition of Heart’s “Alone.” But if Katie can keep it up, she can be a dark horse. And like I said she has mad potential.

I’ve said this early on, Lee DeWyze could make an album right now. It would sell like chestnuts on a street in NYC during Christmas. The folky/rock tone of his voice is solid. The judges get on his case because he does not have confidence. I just think the dude is a cool customer and wants to perform the best he can. The recent weeks he has been doing just that. When I heard he was singing “Hey Jude” I thought he had the potential to kill it, and he did… but not in the deathly way, in a great way. Keep on keeping on my dude.

Crystal Bowersox. She is my favorite in this competition. I seriously believe she has the best artistic talent that I may have ever seen on American Idol, and I watch A LOT of American Idol. People keep comparing her to Janis Joplin, a good comparison sure. But I think she has it a bit more together than Janis. She’s great on the guitar, knows when to tone it down, and seriously knows how to rock and bring it. Her style, whenever she finally records albums, is definitely an injection of soul/rock/honesty that contemporary music needs these days. That lead in applies to her version of “Come Together“. Crystal is a professional to the P. I love Siobhan, but Bowersox knocks my socks off.

Tuesday’s Thoughts on Monday

So now that Monday is over, I’m spending this blog on talking about Monday. It’s going to be mostly sports related. After my Dawgs were eliminated from the Sweet 16, I had to take a breather from sports. But this week makes it damn near impossible for a sports fanatic like me to back away.

Monday brought the National Championship, M’s Opening Day, a talking Tiger, two hours of 24, and solid rebuttal to the Monday Meanderings blog.

2010 NCAA Men’s B-ball National Championship

I’ll admit I didn’t have either Butler nor Duke in the championship game. In fact I had both the Bulldogs and Blue Devils out in the Sweet 16.

Why I Don’t Love Duke

Basically I find any plausible matchup in the early rounds to get Duke out of my bracket. Duke is one of those teams like the Yankees. You either love em or you hate em. I don’t love em. I have my reasons.

I know this has nothing to do with the college game, but can you please tell me what ANY Duke player has really done in the NBA? Shane Battier? Elton Brand? (I kinda like Brand) Christian Laettner? Grant Hill? (I could like the dude if he ever played more than 20 games a season) J.J. Redick? (That just makes me laugh). More importantly in 2001, I was riding Lute Olson’s Arizona Wildcats. It was my freshman year of college and my first big money sports bet. Before U-Dubb Zona was my favorite college basketball team, all the prep ballers from Washington would go there. Long story short, friggin Duke won the game, I was drunk and I kicked in a 25×10 foot window in our dorm community room. So not only did I lose my first big money sports bet, I had to pay for the damn window, and subsequently had to go to group alcohol counseling meetings. The funny thing, maybe not so funny, is that my group consisted of all athletes (yes I was an athlete at UW once) all for ridiculous, though amusing, reasons.

But one thing I can’t hate on Duke about is, Coach Mike Krzyzewski. How that spelling turns phonetically into sha-chef-ski? I have no idea. Not that my last name is easy to pronounce, but you can at least give it an honest try. Pan-da. What, you thought I’d give my real last name?

The actual game provided great story lines. A hometown Cinderella team in Butler (even though Butler was ranked 11th in the polls pre-season, was right around there if not higher at the end of the season and have won a billion straight) up against a storied Duke program.

Butler was lined with 2-star players. One of their best players Gordon Hayward was a ballin prep tennis player, often trading AAU sessions for a racket. Andy Roddick sent him a good luck text after Butler beat Michigan State. Duke had it’s normal high level recruits, soon to flame out in the NBA.

Not to sound racist, this was just an observation. But I don’t know if I had ever seen a basketball game with more white dudes than black dudes on the court. Further one of the black dudes on Butler has the last name of Vanzant. I felt kinda fooled, thinking I was watching a hockey game or tennis match. I was expecting the ghost of Adolph Rupp to do a dance mid-court. If you recall the movie Glory Road, where Don Haskins’ Texas Western (now UTEP) started 5 black players against Rupp’s Kentucky Wildcats (Rupp hated the idea to say the least) and ended up winning the National Championship. Hey, I’m just keeping it real here.

The coaching story line was just as intriguing. Butler’s teenage looking Brad Stevens (actually a young 33) left his marketing associate position at Eli Lilly to take an unpaid position on the Butler staff. Eventually worked his way up, and is now in my eyes, Stevens is as cool as a mojito in humid Central America. Then of course there is Duke’s Coach K. For all that I hate on Duke, all of the lame ass Duke loving analysts, and the more so obnoxious Dookies… I cannot hate on Coach K. Like I said he brings in “college” talent and has them perform. My respect for Coach K grew even more when he masterminded all the egos of NBA players, leading the US Olympic team to a gold in Beijing.

Coaching is of upmost importance in college basketball. All the youth and pressure, the coach must be the thermometer of the team. Throughout this tournament Butler showed incredible poise, all credit goes to cool customer Stevens. The announcers got it right during the game about Butler, “Always about the next guy stepping up for these Butler Bulldogs” no matter injury or foul trouble.

All my bets on the game aside (I hit the points and the under, missed on a parlay with Butler straight up with the M’s and Angels), if that final shot from Hayward fell I would’ve ditched my manhood and cried with joy. Seriously that was a hell of a run Butler, I tip my U-Dubb hat to Bulldogs. And I guess I can say, great year Coach K.

Quick March Madness Afterthought

DON’T EXPAND THE TOURNAMENT! The NCAA has their panties in a bind about not having a playoff system for football. Their main argument is that the season would be extended and the students would have to miss more school. (One interesting note, the Butler players who had class the day of the National Championship were shuttled from their hotel to class. Butler IS class.) But seriously you’re telling me that expanding the Tournament would not make any players miss more class? Good looking out for the player’s welfare.

Great, coaches get to keep their jobs because they are one of the fringe teams to get into the expanded tournament. I mean the legitimate teams won’t even play the first few rounds, they’ll just sit around to see who the 14-16 seeds will eventually be. The aura of the first weekend would be stripped. The Tournament is just long enough to keep you engaged the whole way through. By the time your bracket is busted or your team is eliminated, you’ve followed all the story lines and want to keep watching. If the Tournament was any longer it’ll be like watching the seemingly 7 months of NBA playoffs, bo-ring.

The old adage should be followed, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Seattle Mariner’s Opening Day

King Felix Dealing against the Oakland A’s

The M’s opening day. I finally got to see a game on TV. It had been years living in SoCal. Although I was fortunate enough to catch a few games in at Petco Field and at Dodger Stadium. But there is nothing like watching a game to the sweet sounds sliding from Dave Niehaus’ voice. My Oh My!

The game provided great highlights. Chone Figgins squeezing out a walk and stealing two bases at his first at bat and eventually scoring a run. In Chone’s second at bat he hustled on a sacrifice fly for another run. That’s a quality off-season move. Sweet seeing a Rob Johnson homerun, he’s now up to half his HR total of all of last season. Felix Hernandez is living up to his off-season contract and his moniker “King Felix.” King Felix was DEALING, locating firing heat and getting nasty on location with his off-speed pitches. Plus I got to see a double play (one of my favorite plays in all of sports) from this vaunted defense. The victory was a great way to start off the long haul through the Dog Days of Summer. No mater what, it’s going to be a great summer of sub $10 bleacher seats, garlic fries, and beers at Safeco Field.

Speaking of off-seasons I am over speculating about the NFL draft. I refuse to talk about the Draft until it’s over. I figure this way I won’t be all riled up when I leave for Mexico the day after the first round. It’s obvious I know nothing about football, at least not like Pete Carroll. Yes, I’m still baffled about signing Charlie Whitehurst. I used to be pretty good at addressing needs for the Hawks. Now any of the holes I thought we had, have only become bigger. The one thing the Hawks have going for them, is that we really won’t know if they screw up the draft with the head-scratching off-season. But catch me in two years when the genius or insanity of this Hollywood front office is qualified.

The Masters

And of course Tiger is back on the course.  I’m not going not going to go over the whole Tiger “Day After Thanksgiving” debacle again… If you want my opinion on it, you can read my old post on the subject. We’re all moving on, as Tiger should do with his family and his game.

I did watch the entire interview yesterday. I commend his apology to the other players for being questioned about him. I also hope, like I did in my previous blog, that Tiger will respect the game more. One thing is obvious, I believe this unfortunate situation has made him human. Rick Riley opines that he’ll be missing his Tiger tenacity on the course. I beg to differ. I believe like he said, “everything is stripped away.” Though maybe he could’ve used a better term.

Like I’ve said before, I’m a fan of Tiger’s game. (His golf game, although… playin’) I also know that he’s had to shoulder the entire sport of golf. This is no excuse for what he did to his wife and family. But as being a former athlete I can tell you that it makes it that much tougher to focus, especially in a game that requires so much detail. But with genuine answers and a genuine smile when he said “the pressure is gone… I’m having fun again,” I’d be even more nervous playing with him.

I’m hoping this will make Tiger a better family man. But I’m pretty sure this will make him a better golfer. For the first time I may actually bet the field against Tiger in the Masters. Winning may not come immediately. But if he’s honest with himself and family and if he is as excited as he appears, the jungle better be warned. A renewed focus and appreciation for the game (which he probably hasn’t had since his father died), well the talent is there… and his mental focus and attitude may only be getting stronger.

Can’t wait for Thursday and another one of my favorite sporting events, The Masters.

24

I don’t have too much to say about 24, other than this season is AWESOME! I’m not going to persuade you to watch 24. In fact you really can’t jump in mid-season. It’s like stepping into a political debate without reading the law. But will I encourage you to grab full seasons of 24 on DVD and see what the hype is all about? Definitely. Check out seasons 1-4 and then grab season 8. Look, don’t judge a show until you walked a mile in its moccasins. What? It’s true with 24 though.

Jack Bauer, nuff said

Thoughts From Hojo

And the blog comes full circle. Yesterday I suggested that you give Mondays a break. But my boy Hojo had other thoughts on my leniency. One of the reasons I write this blog is to get my readers (the 4 of you) to hopefully think about something, anything. I’m not writing the blog for you to side with me, in fact I welcome any bashing of my thoughts and opinions… Hojo did just that, but in a legit way. Look if you’re going to make a loud and concrete statement like, “I HATE MONDAYS,” you better come legit like Hojo. Here’s Hojo’s response:

Long time listener, first time caller..

ok look; Fuck Monday’s..

From my experience it’s about finding a job that you wake up to and think to yourself, well fuck it’s 7:30 and I’d rather be asleep but I don’t really mind going into work and I have some shit to get done anyway. BTW, if you wake up hating your job regularly you should quit as soon as possible.

– this is where my comment would end if I hadn’t had 5 beers while watching the NCAA Championship game & the latest episode of the Pacific.. on the subject of the NCAA Championship game, how many of the Duke+Butler players do you think end up on the Utah Jazz by 2012? Vegas line is four –

It’s the select few that wake up on Monday stoked.. I think it’s an even smaller group (or venn diagram if you want to think of it that way) of peeps who wake up and think to themselves “fuck, I love my job – I love my relationship – I love my life.” But maybe that’s what we’re all chasing to some degree, while at the same time making enough coin to meet our personal needs (or acquire the items we’ve been convinced we need).

It’s a sad truth that the term “human condition,” has a negative connotation to it and I think it’s due to our ability to understand that life should/could have more meaning than: live, contribute, reproduce, provide, die; but we continue to struggle with this so called “meaning of life,” it’s even become cliche’.

It’s important to take a quick second to note that there’s very little correlation between wealth and happiness. Indeed on some level, humans seem to have an innate addiction to “personal progression,” as many of those who have inherited lives of luxury don’t feel like they’ve contributed to the world or even to their sub culture and as a consequence are among the most miserable.

Many people equate their life’s pursuit to a feeling of “happiness,” which is really no more than a state of mind and something that people (myself included) are able to pursue more freely on the weekends only to be let down or “brought down to earth” on Monday.

Well fuck, I haven’t discovered any type of meaning of life, but I can tell you this much, when it comes to pleasant experiences and enjoying the company of others I find it more easily attainable on day’s that don’t require me to wake up to deliver on obligations at a certain time.

I still question though if it’s cerebral thought is more of a curse than a blessing.

While our conscious thought has allowed us to move out of the hunter-gather societies of old and advance science on so many levels it’s also allowed us to lose site of the moment.

I think I’d be hard pressed to find a group of humans who didn’t agree that their most satisfying experiences have been lived in the moment (very much a Buddhist principle).

For this reason I say fuck Monday, because it represents a snap back into the collective subconscious that keeps us all under control.. keeps us aimed at live, contribute, reproduce, provide, die.

\end rant
Deep Thoughts.
Hojo