Wednesday, December 23, 2009

FREE HOLIDAY DOWNLOAD: The 'Blitzen & the Hoof Gang' Mixtape

'Dunkin' on that reindeer, dunkin' on that reindeer...'

In honor of the only Christmas commercials to ever surpass the old-school Eat'n'Park sentimental fave - and in tribute to my folks, who split my early Christmas present with me, the Hercules beat mixer - I present a special holiday gift to one and all: 'Blitzen & the Hoof Gang: the Mixtape,' a blend of hip-hop to liven up the holiday, mixed in with bits of "Bad Santa" and the three Nike MVPuppets back-and-forth diss raps between Santa, a.k.a. The Blastmaster KRS-One, and Blitzen, a.k.a. Lupe Fiasco.

Click here to download, courtesy of The link is good until Dec. 30.

("That was Mrs. Lewis from downstairs...... she said YOUAIN'TGOTNODEFENSE!!!")

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Greatest.... Christmas Commercial.... Ever

This tops my previous favorite, the Eat'n'Park 'Christmas Star Needs Help' commercial. That one will always be the sentimental favorite, but how can you argue with the Nike puppets, Kris Kringle vs. the Reindeer in hoops and the Almighty Alrighty KRS-One as Santa?

Also, "Dunkin' on that reindeer/Dunkin' on that reindeer" has surpassed "Dat baby don't look like me" as my favorite chopped-and-screwed phrase.

Sports vs. Athletics: A DP-Inspired Exploration

This morning on the Dan Patrick Show, DP and the Danettes rekindled a debate that has raged far and wide throughout the world of physical exertion and organized competition. It started with the announcement that Jimmie Johnson was being named AP's male Athlete of the Year, and the question was basically: what is a sport and what isn't?

The debate kicked into high gear when Paulie took exception to McLovin's assertion that NASCAR was definitely NOT a sport, or more specifically, that NASCAR drivers (and runners) aren't athletes.

I am somewhere between Paulie and George Carlin ("If there ain't a ball, it ain't a sport") on this. I've had this debate about any number of "sports" with any number of people, so without further ado, let's go one-by-one here:

For me, you have to distinguish between "sport" and "athletic activity," and for some reason, people who are relegated to the "athletic activity" seem to take it as a personal affront, even though some of the most physically-demanding activities (weight-lifting, running) belong in that category for me.

These are all sports, mainly because they have a ball. You can throw hockey in here, too, because it's got a ball-substitute in the puck. Also, you have two teams competing against one another, with one team having the direct potential to affect the other team's chances of winning, which is also very important to me in qualifying something as a sport.

Yes, it has a ball. But if a 50-year-old can beat a 20-year-old at it, it's not a sport. Sorry, it's just not. Additionally, golf is primarily a competition against yourself. You can play golf by yourself. Can't do that with basketball, football, baseball, or hockey.

Again, Paulie seems to have taken this part really personally; I agree that it takes tremendous physical stamina and baseball-caliber coordination to be a race-car driver, and they are indeed athletic. But you could say the same of a fighter pilot. I wouldn't call them an athlete. Another important consideration for NASCAR is that there is a machine involved. The human, unlike cycling, is not providing the sole source of power. And on that note...

Great athletes? Yes, no doubt. Are they sports? No, they are not. Someone whose name escapes me once said, "Running is what you do to train for a sport," and I tend to agree with that. Doesn't mean that the world's fastest runner isn't a great athlete. Another of my important considerations for a sport is direct competition, along with having a chance to directly affect the opponent(s)' chance to win. Even in NASCAR, you can swap paint and cut off your opponents; can't do that in track and field.

• Volleyball
• Lacrosse
• Rugby
• Ultimate frisbee (that's right, I said frisbee is a sport and NASCAR isn't)

• Cheerleading
• Bobsledding
• Skiing
• Snowboarding (most winter sports, let's say, in the interest of saving time)

I welcome any and all debate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gotta Love Rae


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Steelers vs. Packers: It Never Felt So Good to Be At .500


Getting back to .500 never felt as good as this. True, it was an ugly game in which the Packers racked up yards almost at the same clip as the Steelers (final count for Big Ben, I believe, is 503 yards, 3 TDs), Mike Tomlin called for an inexplicable onside kick just as the Steelers took a 2-point lead and then managed to put together a game-winning drive thanks mainly to the Packers being the most-penalized team in the NFL.

I can't discount Ben's lights-out passing day, but consider this: Roethlisberger is having a career stat year... and the Steelers are only 7-7. A significant portion of that can be attributed to defensive injuries and the Ignominious-Yet-Ubiquitous Late-Game Defensive Breakdown, but it also speaks to a real difficulty with the run game, despite having an able running and possible rising star in Rashard Mendenhall.

Two things that Joe Buck mentioned stand out to me today (which is rare; the only thing that usually stands out is my everpresent hate of Joe Buck): Ben's career year, and the fact that not a single Steelers cornerback has had an interception this season. Not a one of 'em. That's terrible. Some of it is attributable to Polamalu being gone. He causes all kinds of havoc and - when he's not getting the INTs - opens things up for other D-backs to get INTs.

Stan Savran is describing on 'Steel City Postgame' right now how, in a massively-convoluted way, the Steelers can still squeeze into the wild-card spot. If they can win out over Baltimore and Miami, they can hand 'em both important losses. They need Denver to lose (they play the Eagles next week), and they need Jacksonville to lose (they play the Pats to close out the season).

I really don't even wanna think about it, or do the math.

So, without further ado, my dream off-season:

Gots-to-Go Situations
• William Gay - I've heard his name called too many times this season giving up big plays. He blew tackles allll day today.
• Willie Colon and possibly Max Starks - Again, their names come up every single week. Starks had an especially bad game today and has been fair-to-middling this year, but Colon specializes in the late-game, momentum-killing penalty, whether it's a false start or holding.

Probably Going
• Willie Parker - I love him, but he just hasn't been the same since he broke that leg. I have a feeling he'll probably be gone after this year.

Off-Season Moves
• Trade some combination of Colon, William Gay and Limas Sweed for one solid offensive lineman. Sweed is young, and he might have an upside yet to come, despite his "Nice hands, feet" performance this year.
• Use the draft picks to try and pick up one more solid addition to the O-line.
• This will probably never happen, because it's not the Rooneys' style, but I really think they should try and throw some cash at a shutdown corner. It's probably going to be a tough year for that; I'll admit I don't know who may be available in the offseason... but they can't go back to the days where teams just abandoned the running game and passed all day on the secondary. Rodgers went wild on 'em all day today.
• I have no solution for the special teams. Steelers just can't seem to do special teams. My only recommendation is trading for Josh Cribbs, so he can't run back two kicks every single &$^!ing game.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Steelers vs. Browns: The End of the Season is Nigh...

The proper words fail me...

So much for any chance of a Steelers Super Bowl repeat.

I started getting that sinking feeling last week with the Oakland loss. It was a slight tickle in the back of my brain when we dropped one to Kansas City, but I wrote that off as a fluke, even though really it was yet another case of Defense - Polamalu = FUBAR. And you could even rationalize The Big Gradkowski's win, what with the CBS commentators yapping on and on about Oakland being a real scrapper of a team.

But a loss to the always-hated-but-more-recently-not-even-so-much-of-a-rival-anymore Cleveland Browns, in which Roethlisberger was sacked five times in the first half? In which the Steelers put up a pathetic six points against the worst team in the NFL?

Unacceptable. To be perfectly honest, I can't even give an intelligent account of why I think they lost the game. I was too busy watching the Penguins come back twice against Montreal. And I gotta say, with the Steelers season basically over at this point barring at least three miracles, including a Lost-style plane crash involving the entire Baltimore Ravens team and David Garrard lapsing into a spontaneous sleep-induced coma, it's nice to have hockey. I haven't watched it since I was probably 15, and got back into it during the Stanley Cup runs.

As for the Steelers, I'm not sure what to say. It will be great to have Polamalu back next season, but he's getting older, and with two knee injuries in one season, I hate to say it, but I don't know how much longer he can be freewheeling around like a maniac. They have to get better players for the secondary. Bryant McFadden was a great corner during the Super Bowl run, and unfortunately, Ike Taylor's star-turn year in 2008 looks to have been a high-water mark. Tyrone Carter has done his best to try and fill Polamalu's shoes, but he's a second-stringer at best. William Gay? That's a gots-to-go situation. He fell apart trying to step up with Troy out.

On offense - and makes me weep to say it - I think Fast Willie Pee is probably moving on in one way or another. I love him, and he made me scream like a little girl in Super Bowl XL, but since the broken leg, he's just not the same. Mendenhall stepped up just the way we all hoped he would, and I'd love to see Colbert pick up a big bruiser-style back to set up Mendenhall and Moore. The receiving game is solid. I don't know if Hines is going to retire or not, but Mike Wallace and Santonio have the potential to be the best wideout combo in the league, between their shared speed and skill.

What I'd hope for in the off-season:

• At least one solid O-lineman to shore things up. Get Willie Colon outta there.
• A bigass running back, like Lendale White or Brandon Jacobs (and not ONE of them, one LIKE them)
• Help in the secondary

I've come to the unfortunate realization that the Steelers' special teams is just fucked. No matter what. They just can't get it done. I have no possible solution.

With the injuries, it's hard to call this a "hangover" season. The Steelers are just a mediocre team in a year when there are a lot of better-than-average teams, particularly in the AFC.


Fisher Price: My First DJ Mix

"He'll tweak ya' ass across the crossfade..." - Beastie Boys

So I highly recommend this Hercules DJ Console RMX. Just like Garageband fulfilled my decade-long dream of creating beats, this digital console is fulfilling my other lifelong dream of being able to mix and blend it.

I realize that, strictly speaking, as a relative hip-hop purist, I should hate this machine and call it a monstrosity. You're supposed to DJ on two Technics 1200s. But what can I say? It's way too late for me to start a vinyl collection. And I'm not out to win the next DMC Championship. I'm not going to be an Invisibl Skratch Pikl.

But for what I want to do - be able to create, blend and mix banging mixes of hip-hop, dancehall, reggae, etc. - this console is perfect. My only real complaint is that the "scratch" option leaves a bit to be desired. Unlike a regular 45, where you scratch a record and stop it with your hand, the RMX console doesn't stop when you do; it just continues the record immediately after the scratch. For someone like me who doesn't have real crossfader dexterity yet for that type of thing, it's kind of annoying.

But again, I'm not looking to be a show DJ; I'm trying to create a danceable mix that I'd actually like to hear, as opposed to a bunch of Top 40 rap that just fades one track into another.

I have been able to achieve some minor scratch-based mixing. For example, I can create a continuous juggle of the Guru sample in Ghettosocks' "Pink Lemonade," and you can make a nice little break out of Cyne's "Plight About Now" and Steve Spacek's "Dollar," which both use the same sample. (And you could blend in the only Jeezy song I enjoy as well, "Circulate")

Basically, what I'm saying is that my already-limited social life is now over, thanks to this mixer, unless I can get some gigs DJing in the area. Here's hoping...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Steelers vs. Raiders: Me and Coach Have the Same Feeling Right Now

"I think I just threw up in my mouth."

I have found a name for my pain, and it is Ryan Mundy.

True, I'm paraphrasing Jack Nicholson's Joker from the original Batman movie, but it seems apropos. A cruel joke has been played on the 2008 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. How else to explain a four-game skid that includes a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and A SHOOTOUT LOSS to the Oakland Raiders?

In amongst his many inane ramblings, I believe I've heard Jim Nantz refer to Polamalu as "the linchpin of the Steelers defense," and it's hard to argue with that. He's missed seven games this season; the Steelers have lost six of those games, and they've given up fourth-quarter leads in at least four. Ty Carter is a serviceable replacement, and has even shown a few flashes of Polamalian vision on the field.

But William Gay is not up to the task. My boy said he'd settle for Gay putting on a new pair of cleats, but his play has been suspect for most of this season. And Ryan Mundy was definitely not up to the task, seeing as how in the space of about three minutes, he:

A) Knocked out William Gay
B) Committed a crucial interference penalty to set the Raiders up to take the lead, and then
C) Gave up the game-winning TD to a rookie Raiders receiver, and not even one named Darius Heyward-Bey--

*OOGMF* ... sorry, I haven't had much to eat, and I just dry-heaved a little there. In fairness, Ike Taylor wasn't exactly "the tits" either. But the Steelers were in a decent position to hold 'em when Mundy went headhunting on a receiver who had already dropped the ball.

Six losses doesn't look like it's going to cut the AFC playoff mustard this season. The Jaguars and Broncos both won today, so no help there... When I looked at the schedule back in August, it looked great! Now? Not so much. Packers, Dolphins and the Ravens' rematch are all still on the horizon, and the hell Coach Epps promised we'd bring is quickly freezing over.

Any other year, I'd call this Thursday-night conference game against the Browns a no-brainer, even on short rest, but who the hell knows at this point? The only reason I can think of for Polamalu to be back is if the Steelers have a realistic chance of getting a wild-card spot. And there's really no reason to think the Browns can't put at least 17 points on the board, now that the ball isn't bouncing off Braylon Edwards' stone-hands anymore. They put up 23 against the Chargers, whose defense is certainly performing on a par with - if not better than -- the Steelers'.

An astute caller to Stan & Guy last week said "every time Sepulveda pins the opposing team inside the 20 during the fourth quarter, I go and get another glass of whiskey," and I'm inclined to agree. This late-season skid has been like the Bad Old Days all over again, when no one could run on the Steelers' D, but everyone had a field-day passing. Add the special-teams woes, and it's the '06 Super Bowl Hangover come back around. Although I don't know that it's a "hangover" as much as it's the devastating loss of Polamalu. He really covers a lot of ground out there, and he has an eye for what's happening on the field better than almost any defensive player I've seen. It's hard to admit, as a born-and-bred Steeler fan, that defense is the problem, but it really is. The offense sputtered a little today, but they put up points when it mattered, didn't have crucial turnovers and gave 'em the lead with the clock running out.

Matter of fact, I'm actually a little numb to the loss right now. I'm actually a little glad to see that hometown kid Bruce Gradkowski had a decent day. Who am I kidding, though? The Raiders scored like 2o percent of their season's touchdowns in this game.

This one hurts. Bad.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Few Day-After Thoughts on the 'Sons' Season 2 Finale

One thing I started thinking about today - but which didn't occur to me last night - is the parallel between Clay and Zoebelle over the full season-two story arc.

Both of them were basically putting on a front the whole season: Clay was trying to keep a lid on the Donna mess, and Zoebelle was not only selling out his racist buddies, but also cooperating with the authorities. I might write more on this later....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sons of Anarchy S02E13: 'Na Trilóbloidí'... My Pathetic Attempt at Blogging the Season 2 Finale

Are these episode titles Latin? I'll be honest, I just don't wanna do the research... [Editor's note: I did the research... it's Gaelic for 'The Troubles']...

And now, my pathetic attempt at live-blogging the Sons of Anarchy season 2 finale:

10:10 p.m. - Lookin' good so far. Kind of surprised that Zoebelle is an FBI rat. Didn't really see that coming. I can see the practicality of his guns-for-drugs plan, but this doesn't make as much sense... can't wait to see what the Mayans are gonna do while they're visiting.

10:12 p.m. - I really hate these Windows 7 commercials. Really.

10:15 p.m. - To be honest, I'm kind of disappointed in Henry Rollins' role this season. He plays the stone-cold Aryan hard-on well enough, but I think he had the depth to put a little more meat on the character, and he was really just sort of a dumb thug the whole season.

10:17 p.m. - That father and son outside the store are dressed exactly the same. That's kinda creepy.

10:23 p.m. - DAMN! So that's why cons volunteer to work in the library. Good for you, Otto. You deserve a little payback.

10:27 p.m. - NICE. Lt. Dangle guesting on The League. F/X is leading the way hands-down for quality cable shows, and the Always Sunny/League combo is probably the best hour of comedic television since Seinfeld and, uh, whatever came after Seinfeld... also, Nip/Tuck is just too awful. Ever since season three, it's all been downhill. When I tuned in for the season 4 finale, a.k.a. "Rent" With Scalpels, I'm pretty sure I puked in my mouth a little bit.

10:45 p.m. - "Where are we going?" "Forward, sweetheart." Yeeeeah. Git 'er, Gemma.

10:47 p.m. - OHHHH, nice move, Stahl. Not only could he not shoot her, but he just gave the gun up? What a puss--BWAAAAAA!!! Crotch punch on a girl! She deserves it, but still, that's a party foul. She shouldn't have killed his ass, though.

10:55 p.m. - Would Zoebelle's daughter REALLY not have heard a motorcycle coming up the block? I want this nasty little bitch to get her comeuppance, but c'mon now... also, Half-Sack, this is a NEED-TO-KNOW SITUATION for the club.... Aw, man, I thought she was comin' to the Irish kid's house. This is gonna go badly...

10:57 p.m. - Oh shit. EVERYBODY'S armed! ... Is Stahl just gonna let this slide? Gemma: "Bloody day for both of us." True dat. Half-Sack, pleeease phone this shit in.

11 p.m. - Nope. I guess she's not gonna let this slide. Unless she wants to set it up so it looks like Edmund killed the girl. That way she can get herself off the hook... here it comes. OH SHIT! She's gonna set Gemma up for the whole thing?? Edmund's dad is gonna go after the Sons on this. Gawd-DAMN, I hate this Stahl bitch!

11:02 p.m. - Dammit, Half-Sack, what did I say? NEED TO KNOW. If you'd have called this in, some Sons backup might have been able to help handle this. Now it's all bad, and you're leading the trouble straight home...

11:12 p.m. - Why do I have a feeling that Jax-Chibs-Opie is going to be the breakaway faction if there's a season three?

11:14 p.m. - HALF-SACK! NOOO! I'm gonna miss him, for sure. He was the source of many of the show's funniest moments.... Surely this Irishman's not gonna kill a baby on F/X...

11:15 p.m. - This Justified show should be called Shane & the Sheriff. Walton Goggins and Sheriff Bullock as a couple of loose-cannon rednecks? I'm down for that.

11:21 p.m. - Nice. Hale left Zoebelle out to dry.... 11:22 p.m. ... And now they're just gonna leave him? Not let ANYONE go in and deal with it??

11:24 p.m. - "Well.... we.... adjust and we adapt." Is Zoebelle gonna be back next season? I think he's probably had just about enough of Charming.

• Gemma is going to take refuge with another charter. Either that, or she's gonna let Unser keep driving her until he dies from the cancer.
• The Irishman is gonna take Jax's son to Mexico. A chase through Mexico could make for a nice two-to-three-episode arc. If Unser takes Gemma that direction, it might could all come together very neatly. I can see a tie-in with the Mayan charters south of the border as well. I can't imagine they're too happy about having several members gunned down because of the Sons/Zoebelle beef.
• At some point next season, Clay's arthritis is going to get the better of him. He's going to have to officially pass the crown. I can see a nice slow-mo shot near the end of season three with Jax leading the crew away as Clay and Piney lean back on a Teller-Morrow bench and clink a couple beers together.
• Hale unconsciously settles into Unser's old role. He comes to appreciate the good the Sons do, in spite of their other negligible activities. I can see him passing by in the squad car during that slo-mo shot I mentioned above.

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Beat Doctor's Abstract Mix

Blast off into the abstract-soul stratosphere...

Click here to download a 22-minute mix of abstract soul, off-kilter jazz and general spacey R&B weirdness, featuring everyone from Eric Dolphy and VLooper to Koushik, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Exile, 14KT, the Heliocentrics and more. As a special Christmas bonus, I also included two recent remixes of Biggie's "Thangz Done Changed" and "Brooklyn's Finest," with Jay-Z.

There's also a super-special holiday extra, an original track penned by none other than my lovely-but-questionably-musically-talented fiancee, MC Aub Zee. It's a three-part suite that somehow manages to only be 1:30, pieced together using three of my beats, and entitled, "Dance: How-To Jam." I really have no explanation for it, other than, listen and laugh. I know I did.

Download for free courtesy of YouSendIt. The link is good until Dec. 8.