Monday, September 28, 2009

'Burgh Sports Wrap

Heath, you're like the ONE bright spot from this week... and Fast Willie P... in the first half... actually, the bright spot was Willie Colon going one entire Sunday without getting three holding penalties...

In the immortal words of Baltimore's Clay Davis, "Sheeeeeeeeeeeeit." You know, I felt bad when Kimo von Oelhoffen rolled up on Carson Palmer's ankle, too, but not bad enough to want the Cincinnati Bungles to actually get back on track.
The Bungles used to be just another cruel joke from the state of Ohio, which did college football great but just couldn't seem to get a grip on the pros. Now they're a reasonable threat in the AFC North, an apartment building where the Steelers are currently renting the sub-basement walkdown, by the way.
The worst part about this loss - since, let's face it, 1-2 is not the end of the world... 1-3 probably is - is that it was the
DEFENSE that is mainly to blame. True, Ben's interception was ugly, but that's on Santonio, who was chugging up the sideline without even a glance back. Palmer, however, led two late-game drives where the Bengals' running game just stomped all over the D line, enough to set up a decent passing attack. James Farrior looked like a shell of his former self in the fourth quarter, and the D is really showing how badly they need Polamalu back. Apparently he covers up a lot of mistakes.
Fuck me. Of
course the Pirates would start winning games (over the Dodgers, 11-1 today, Jesus Christ!) when it doesn't even matter anymore. Yeah, it's funny to see the Buccos staving off L.A.'s division-winning game, but really, when you're like 30 games under .500 again (and by "again," I mean "for roughly the 17th straight season"), who gives a shit?
Okay, so this wouldn't normally be included in the 'Burgh sports wrap, except for an update on The Greatest Back-Up Quarterback in the NFL, Byron Leftwich, who booked after last year's Super Bowl win to become a starter and instead became the first starter to get yanked this season (I think he beat out Brady Quinn by just a few minutes) during the Bucs' 24-0 curb-stomping, courtesy of the Giants. I really, REALLY liked the Steelers' acquisition of Leftwich last season. He was a great back-up, and I was hoping he would settle into that role. Can't blame him too much for cashing in when his value was super-high, but he's really falling flat on his face in Tampa Bay. It's too bad.
Fuck the Versus channel. Or, more accurately, fuck
Comcast, who won't let DirecTV broadcast Versus, thus preventing us from seeing the precious few regular-season Pens games we get down here. I'll be damned if I'm buying the DirecTV hockey package. The football package is already bleeding me dry...

Is Anyone Else Feeling That 'Sons of Anarchy' is Dragging a Little This Season?

Less pensive, more action...

 Maybe it's my fault for watching the whole first season over two days, but it kind of seems like the new season of F/X's Sons of Anarchy is dragging quite a bit.
There is a lot up in the air, to be sure: Darby helping out Henry Rollins and Alan Arkin's kid working the white-power/meth angle in Charming (and isn't it interesting that these neo-Nazi mooks are perfectly happy to sling drugs to their fellow crackers in Charming?), there's the Sons' gun-selling mess with too many gangs. There's Peg Bundy's Big Secret.

But I don't know. Maybe things will get ratcheted back up soon, but I'm just not really feelin' the B story about Bobby taking over the porno books. Hopefully this splinter between Jax and Hellboy will get going soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sons of Anarchy S02E01: 'Albification'

'Look da fuck out, Peg Bundy... it's about to be some shit...'

My sister got me the first season of Sons of Anarchy for my birthday. I hadn't watched it when it was in its original run, having finally gotten some free Tuesday nights with The Shield being over. But I'm always down to check out a promising new TV series, and Sons was pretty sweet. Not only that, but the producer/creator, Kurt Sutter, was an exec producer on The Shield, AND he brought the One-Niners gang with him to the show, technically putting the two shows in the same fictional universe.

This, of course, has me slobbering for Shield cameos. Clearly, Vic Mackey's not going to show up on an ICE bust.
That would be too obvious. But I would love for Sutter to reintroduce Tavon, from the Shield's third season, as a new cop in Charming. It would make for some pretty sweet drama.

Then again, there's plenty of drama as is... especially for poor Peg Bundy, who was the victim of a horrifying, brutal gang-rape on the season two premiere. All I could think of the first time I watched it was that Sutter and Katey Sagal are married, and how exactly would you bring this scene up? "Heeeey honey, so look, this season, you take care of the baby some more, stir the pot with Hellboy aaaaaaand oh yeah, you get gang-raped by Henry Rollins."


Actually, I think the introduction of Rollins and Alan Arkin's kid as the League of American Nationalists (or, in Clay Morrow's words, "Nice car, shiny suit, all your teeth... you must be the top of the Aryan food chain.") as a threat to the club's monopoly on Charming is a brilliant plot move. When the last season ended (don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it), you were left hating at least two members of the club. The situation the pair fomented is definitely going to run throughout season two, but the League storyline does an interesting thing: it introduces a group that's worse than anyone else. Darby is a hardhead criminal, and Rollins' AJ Weston character basically calls him out as a Nazi poser ("I'd button your shirt... you haven't earned it."), and despite Clay and Tig's big sin, these League guys represent a threat to the whole club... to Jax's vision of it AND Clay's. It's something the club can unite behind.

I'm curious as to how Gemma is going to handle the gang-rape, in terms of telling Clay. If she just comes out and tells him, I gotta believe it's all-out war, and then the League storyline is over after a few episodes. I gotta believe she's going to cover it up until either she's found out, or found  way to make it suit her purpose. 

• I still don't like Deputy Hale. He's just too Mayberry. Needs a new haircut, or maybe unbutton that top button... loosen up or SOMEthing.
• Henry Rollins is the perfect Aryan shithead. He just sits there all tattooed and scary-looking, and talks in a very reasonable-sounding voice.
• Arkin's kid, however, is not all that convincing. First off, he doesn't look the part, and he just seems too nice. Maybe they'll shatter that fa├žade in upcoming episodes.
• Half-Sack: "You guys didn't really mean you want me to-"/Clay: "GETOUT!!!" BWAAAA HA HA HA... Half-Sack gets all the best lines ("Yeah, that's real great, guys... just shoot off the one good nut I got left. Thanks.")

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Great Quote re: Glenn Beck's Van Jones Metaphorical Lynch Mob

If you haven't seen it, there's a series of YouTube videos of Glenn Beck's systematic metaphorical career-lynching of former Green Czar Van Jones for his radical past. Huffington Post covered it in an article whose headline referred to Jones as "Beck's first scalp," but more importantly, blogger Mark Kleiman had the following fantastic reality check about this campaign of Beck's against all things Obama:

"If you want to say batshit-crazy stuff and still be treated as a respectable participant in the national debate, you'd better be a Republican."

True dat.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Know This is Kind of Vain of Me, But...

...I've been tracking the numbers for OMM on Google Analytics, and despite my predictions to the contrary, there are a reasonable number of people who actually read the blog. But the real reason I started the blog was to begin a conversation. So feel free to leave a comment, anonymous or otherwise!

128 Oz. of Great-erade: 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2,' by Raekwon

'Chef in the kitchen cookin' up with the crimeys...'

It's 100 percent unfair to compare Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2 to its stone-cold classic predecessor. It just is. No matter how loud you go "OHHHHHH!" when you hear the familiar, ill loop on "Pyrex Vision" (an old Premier beat copped from one of my all-time favorite LPs, OC's Jewelz), it's not going to be the same as that first time you heard "Verbal Intercourse." Believe me, I want it to. I'm boom-bap to the bone, but the Golden Age has passed.

That said, Pt. 2 is every bit as great as I hoped it would or could be. It's easily the second-best album of Raekwon's career, and hearkens back to the original as much as it can without being deliberately backward-looking.

As someone who judges most rap songs based primarily on their production, I don't know if Rae dropped any of his best verses on the albums between the two Cuban Linx, because I truthfully have never listened to any of them in their entirety. All I know is that he dropped some sick guest verses over the past year (on Doom's joint in particular, over another old-school sample), threw down some equally excellent rhymes on two mixtapes, Blood on Chef's Apron and Cuban Revolution, and topped all three with Pt. 2. From the eerie organ on "Black Mozart" to the wavery, paranoid bassline of "Have Mercy," the record captures what I suppose I'd metaphorically call that "Usual Suspects" vibe that provided the backdrop for such intricate crime storytelling the first time around.

Rae shows that same attention to detail on tracks like "Catalina," the plucky "10 Bricks" and the hollow "laaaa's" of "Gihad." He even gets a little emotional over the perfect Dilla track in the ODB tribute "Ason Jones."
And it wouldn't be a proper Cuban Linx sequel if it wasn't guest-starring (billed right on the cover) Ghostface on at least a third of the tracks. He doesn't disappoint, blasting away on the the Clan-cut opener, "House of Flying Daggers" and the greatest Wu track in a decade, "New Wu," which will have you pulling out Enter the 36 Chambers all over again.

Some of the production exhibits a little of the clunkiness that caused older Wu records like The W and Iron Flag to drag on occasion, but it's so refreshing to hear Rae back in the saddle that it doesn't really matter. In fact, I'm gonna go ahead and dub this period of mid-'00s resurgence, from Masta Killa's No Said Date up through now, the Wu-Tang Renaissance. In that roughly five-year span, you have No Said Date, Made In Brooklyn, Fishscale (and More Fish and Another One I Can't Think Of), Chamber Music, Pro Tools, Dopium (debatable, I grant you, but still... a decent U-God solo record? That's almost a miracle), Cuban Linx II and even solid joints from former weed-carriers I had written off, like Bronze Nazareth and particularly Hell Razah (Killah Priest, I've just given up on... either he's just too deep for me, or he's the most boring intelligent rapper I've ever fucking heard. I'm also writing off Rza's Digi Snax, for reasons which should be obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to have heard it. Rza should tell Bobby Digital that he needs to stick to writing the script for the second season of "Afro Samurai").

So... welcome back, Chef. You cooked up another tasty batch.