Monday, May 26, 2008

The Top 100: 70-61

I really need to get this done.

70. Interpol – "C'mere"
Paul Banks' voice combines perfectly with the guitar on this song. The band has kept its genius throughout its entire career.

69. A Tribe Called Quest – "What?"
My favorite song by the hip-hop group uses rhetorical questions. Woot.

68. Derek and the Dominoes – "Layla"
Almost every so-called "expert" out there has this song has one of the best of all-time. Yes, it is a good song, but it does not totally wow me or impress me like it does the "critics."

67. The Dandy Warhols – "We Used To Be Friends"
The techno-ish feel adds a lot to the song, as do Courtney Taylor-Taylor's high-pitched vocals.

66. Sugarcult – "Champagne"
This song has a great feel to it and is a great dedication to their old drummer.

65. The Doors – "Soul Kitchen"
Thank the Lord for the organ!

64. Descendents – "'merican"
I usually try to avoid getting political, but this song speaks volumes.

63. Silversun Pickups – "Kissing Families"
This song rocks deceptively hard.

62. Meat Puppets – "Lake of Fire"
Something about this song just does it.

61. Gang of Four – "To Hell With Poverty"
The British band promotes their political views throughout this and most of their other songs.

Everything I am writing keeps getting lamer and lamer.

The Top 100: 80-71

I'm keeping the amazing coming…

80. Iggy and the Stooges – "Search and Destroy"
No list would be complete without Iggy Pop. The man was a genius in his own right.

79. Big Black – "Jordan Minnesota"
Steve Albini is another genius, while the subject matter of the song is very interesting. If you're into weird stuff, check out the song meaning.

78. Public Enemy – "Party For Your Right To Fight"
Rap enters the list again…

77. Toadies – "Tyler"
A great song, but when you listen closer you feel a little uneasy. Nonetheless, one of the 100 best I have heard.

76. Minus The Bear – "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!"
This song is not as big as other songs by Minus The Bear, but it is one of their better ones.

75. Shellac – "Watch Song"
One of Steve Albini's other bands produces a riff similar to that of "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth.

74. Sonic Youth – "Brave Men Run (In My Family)"
Speaking of Sonic Youth, this is one of their early 80s hits.

73. Dinosaur, Jr. – "Freak Scene"
The early 90s slackers have been able to keep the same sound for almost 20 years.

72. Fugazi – "Waiting Room"
This song probably should be higher due to the bass riff alone.

71. The Strokes – "Juicebox"
The newest masterpiece from the New York-based rockers.

A Change of Pace

As a young child, I was infatuated by speed. It had control of me. I loved cars. I loved fast cars. I loved going fast while riding my bike. I hated danger though. Totally different story right there. At every opportunity, I would watch any type of auto racing that was on. But the times have changed.

Something has happened to me. Speed should still have control over me. It should still infatuate me. But it does not. NASCAR used to be one of my favorite things to watch on TV. My fondest memory of any NASCAR race is from the 2000 or 2001 Pepsi 400 at Daytona. That was the first race I was into and that I watched all the way through. It had my parents wondering where I was. It got me hooked. Watching Dale Earnhardt, Sr. race was something that enticed me and helped me fall in love with the sport (yes, it is a sport). I watched on and off for the rest of that season, but I was well prepared for the next season.

The next season had hype for me. Dodge was returning to the track and Cheerios was promoting it by having the cars of Bill Elliott, Casey Atwood, John Andretti, and Kyle Petty in the cereal boxes. I tried to collect as many as I could. I tried to collect all the UPC codes so I could send in for more cars, but usually I always fell short in that regard. The Daytona 500 was quickly approaching and I was playing with my cars almost every day before and after school. To my great fortune, I got sick during Speed Week and was home to watch the Gatorade Dual 125s with my dad, who was less than thrilled. The Busch (or Nationwide, if you please) Series race was the day before and I watched intensely. Randy Lajoie won that race. I think.

Race day dawned and I was excited, for two reasons. Number one was that I was supposed to play my best friends’ indoor soccer team that day and number two was that it was race day. However, I was forced to bed before the race started because of my sickness, and I later learned my indoor soccer team lost. I missed Tony Stewart’s spectacular wreck in the back stretch which Earnhardt, whom I was watching intently, snuck by, but saw many other sights that helped me get hooked on racing.

Then came the final laps. Michael Waltrip in first. Dale, Jr. in second. The Intimidator in third. I was living for this. They had made a point about Waltrip never winning a race and I desperately wanted to see him win, followed by his teammate and his mentor. Then there was the crash as Waltrip and Junior crossed the finish line. I was unsure of what had happened. All I knew is that the little guy had won. I was content and went to bed to rest. Later, however, I was informed by my older sister that Dale Earnhardt, Sr. had died in the seemingly harmless wreck. I was stunned. I cried myself to sleep.

I followed racing so closely for the rest of the year. I kept track of who won every race, who won the poles, and so on. I prayed during every Lap 3 and supported the DEI cars. I also fostered a hatred for the Hendrick Motorsports cars. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are never going to be on my Christmas card list. I bought all the NASCAR or Dale, Sr. merchandise that I could and started drawing cars and so on. My teacher that year was a big racing fan and had met Jeff Burton in Charlotte. She helped foster my love for the sport. Kevin Harvick driving the all-white #29 car to victory in the Cracker Barrel 500 at Atlanta was one of the happiest sports-related moments I had at that point.

But then racing lost its appeal. There was something in it that just was not clicking for me. I started growing up a little bit more and just got bored with cars going fast in a circle. I started to dislike Junior, as he was coddled by the media. He just did not win. The Hendrick cars were all better and they just racked up all the points.

I would watch the occasional Daytona 500. I was behind Ward Burton all the way when he won. But none of the drivers had the “it” that could keep me going with the sport.
But I think I have found that driver. Kyle Busch. Yes, all of you hate him, but that’s why I like him. The man does not care while he’s racing. He just wants to win. He is not trying to make friends. He doesn’t care whether it is Junior or A.J. Allmendinger in front of him, he is going to pass them. That is what I like about him. The media portrays his driving style as reckless and malevolent, but if you are driving at 200 miles per hour, aren’t you already doing something reckless? Busch reminds me so much of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. He is always on a mission while he is driving. I like that. Watching him makes me want to get back into the sport.

Maybe I will.

All thanks to the one you hate.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Action-Reaction: May 11, 2008

I'm tired. I'm sick. I don't really want to write this blog, but I'm going to write it anyway.

Action: Greg Maddux recorded win #350 last night against the Colorado Rockies.
Reaction: Maddux will probably be one of the last players to collect 350 wins in baseball.

Action: Mike D'Antoni is leaving the Phoenix Suns for the New York Knicks.
Reaction: D'Antoni is definitely going to need some good luck to get by in New York. The players will have to learn to work hard and the system if they want to compete next year.

Action: The Florida Marlins have signed shortstop Hanley Ramirez to a contract extension worth $70 million over 7 years.
Reaction: The question now is when they are going to trade him. All kidding aside, this is a great move for the Marlins. They lock up the key cog in their lineup for an extended period of time, providing security for an organization that has barely had any security in the past.

Action: Kyle Busch wins at Darlington.
Reaction: I don't get why everyone hates this guy. He's got the talent to win. Just because he wrecked Dale Earnhardt, Jr. doesn't mean he should be beheaded. I've heard comparisons to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Busch is becoming my favorite racer to watch.

Sorry, but I'm sick. Hopefully this will get a little more comprehensive in the future.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Top 100: 90-81

The second ten are here. Be amazed. Be very amazed.

90. M.I.A. – "Paper Planes"
The addictive beat of this song combines with M.I.A.'s vocals to create a hypnotizing song that gets stuck in the head easily.

89. The Thermals – "Returning to the Fold"
This song is fantastic and actually has a message. The guitar riff is easy to remember while the vocals are very impressive.

88. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – "Enola Gay"
At first listen, this song sounds really weird. Well it is. But that's why I like it. It's '80s music at its finest.

87. Klaxons – "Atlantis to Interzone"
Ah the Klaxons. Nu Rave. Feast your ears on to these sick beats. Also, pay close attention to the bass line of this song.

86. Big Black – "Racer X"
This industrial rock is about a cartoon character.

85. N.W.A – "F**k tha Police"

84. Fugazi – "Do You Like Me"
Fugazi is one of the best underground bands out there, although they are on hiatus.

83. Flight of the Conchords – "Robots"

82. The Mars Volta – "Goliath"
The Mars Volta are one of the most underrated bands out there and this song demonstrates their intense musical skill.

81. Kings of Leon – "Charmer"
This is another intense song. 'Tis a good un.

The next 10 will be up later today sometime…

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Action-Reaction: May 5, 2008

Action-Reaction: May 5, 2008

Action: Indianapolis Colts WR Marvin Harrison has been interviewed in a shooting that took place in Philadelphia.
Reaction: The thing that needs to be stressed here is that Harrison has NOT been arrested or charged with anything yet. He has just been interviewed which is just "part of the investigation" according to a police officer involved. It would be a huge shame if anything comes of this. Harrison is one of the good guys in football. He's not flashy, he does not celebrate his touchdowns, he just makes plays. I really like him. I have his rookie card. He went to my grandfather's alma mater in Philly. Just a great guy that does not deserve to be mentioned in the same breathe as Adam Jones and Chris Henry.

Action: Staying in Philly, Eagles CB Lito Sheppard reported to a mandatory minicamp on Friday.
Reaction: This ended the speculation that Sheppard would hold out after the Eagles signed Asante Samuel in the offseason. The best situation for the Eagles would be to restructure Sheppard's contract to keep him, Samuel, and Sheldon Brown. It might be in the team's best interest to do this as well. The Washington Redskins loaded their wide receiving corps in the draft, drafting Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas to go along with Antwan Randle El and Santana Moss. The Dallas Cowboys have Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn, and Patrick Crayton to go along with Sam Hurd and other receivers who randomly show up to play on certain days. Andy Reid needs to try to keep Sheppard on the Eagles.

Action: The Cleveland Browns rewarded GM Phil Savage with a three-year contract extension through 2012.
Reaction: This is a good move for the Browns. Savage has almost single-handedly rebuilt the Cleveland franchise. His free agent moves have combined with good draft choices, giving the Browns one of the great teams and a team that contend for the division in 2008.

Action: Julio Franco has announced that he is retiring from baseball.
Reaction: The 23-year veteran played in five different countries and called his decision to retire the "hardest decision in my life." Franco became the oldest player to ever hit a home run in history last year off of Randy Johnson. I was really hoping that Franco would get a chance to play as a 50-year-old, just because I thought that would be pretty cool. However, that will not happen. Franco will definitely be missed in the majors.

Action: According to The Los Angeles Times, Kobe Bryant will win his first MVP award.
Reaction: I do not Kobe at all. He is just one of those guys that I just do not like. Nothing I can really do about that. But he definitely deserves this award. With all the injuries the Lakers dealt with during this season, he really was the glue that held the team together. So he deserves it. He can do it all.

Action: The Philadelphia Flyers ousted the Montreal Canadiens in five games, allowing the Flyers to return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2004.
Reaction: The Flyers were the worst team in the NHL last year so this is a great story. I'm rooting for the Flyers. Even though it is rather hard to really care about hockey.

Action: LSU Tigers QB Ryan Perriloux has ended his career at LSU.
Reaction: Good riddance.

DJ. Out.

2008 Preseason All-NL West Team

It's been about two weeks since I did the last segment of this. Sorry about that. Anyway, here is the 2008 Preseason All-NL West Team, from my point of view.

First Team

C: Russell Martin (LAD)
Martin is the real deal for catchers. He can hit for high average with some power. And he can run (21 SBs in 2007).

1B: Todd Helton (COL)
Helton's power numbers fell of last season, but he remained a vital cog in the Rockies machine, hitting .320. He is still one of the best hitters out there even though age is catching up with him.

2B: Jeff Kent (LAD)
Age has caught up with Kent, moreso than Helton, but he is still the best option at second base in the NL West.

3B: Garrett Atkins (COL)
Atkins (like all Rockies) benefits from the thin air, but he batted over .300 and hit 25 HRs with 100+ RBIs. Which is pretty good.

SS: Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
I hate to gush on Tulo, but he is one of the rising young stars in the game. Even though he got hurt.

LF: Matt Holliday (COL)
This guy needs to be an MVP candidate every year. Some would argue he deserved it last year even more than Jimmy Rollins. As much of a Rollins fan as I am, Holliday's numbers (.340, 36, 137) are pretty hard to argue.

CF: Chris Young (ARZ)
Despite the fact he batted .237, Young's power (32 HRs) is wanted in a lead off hitter. He could become Arizona's version of Alfonso Soriano.

RF: Matt Kemp (LAD)
Just keep your eye out for this guy.

SP: Brandon Webb (ARZ)
Webb was dominating at times last year and can easily do it again this year.

SP: Dan Haren (ARZ)
Haren was quietly dominate in the American League and should continue his success in the the NL.

SP: Jake Peavy (SD)
This is another player that is hard to argue with.

RP: Trevor Hoffman (SD)
The aging closer is still dominant and a force to be reckoned with at times.

RP: Takashi Saito (LAD)
Saito is the latest Japanese reliever to be a success.

Second Team

C: Bengie Molina (SF)
1B: Adrian Gonzalez (SD)
2B: Orlando Hudson (ARZ)
3B: Mark Reynolds (ARZ)
SS: Khalil Greene (SD)
LF: Eric Byrnes (ARZ)
CF: Andruw Jones (LAD)
RF: Brad Hawpe (COL)
SP: Jeff Francis (COL)
SP: Brad Penny (LAD)
SP: Chris Young (SD)
RP: Manny Corpas (COL)
RP: Brian Fuentes (COL)