Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2008

Dan's Top 5:

1. Bush's Final Year - I don't care if we collectively decide to elect a seedless Chia Head of Richard Nixon next November. I can't see how even the worst (and there are some pretty bad choices in the primaries) of potential candidates could be anywhere close to the atrocity that has been the George W. Bush administration. I echo the sentiments of David Cross, who claimed that he may go down as the worst American President ever.

2. The Summer Olympics - Sure, it's in China, but who gives a shit? (Other than Communist-fearing Republicans) This is the Olympics, and it gives us all a chance to be distracted and actually proud of our country for a few weeks. It also gives me a chance to listen to Bob Costas (winner of the Not Joe Buck award) for some decent commentary and enjoy a free four-hour concert in the form of the opening ceremonies.

3. Fantasy Baseball - This needs no explanation. The only reason it isn't any higher is because it's an annual occurrence.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Reported release date is next summer, and you're going to have to go see it. You have no choice. Either you want to see a fourth awesome movie from the Indiana Jones series, or you want to see who you should blame for making the two-decade effort fall flat on it's face. I have no idea how the movie will be, but it's probably going to be either extremely awesome or extremely poor.

5. The Last Game at Yankee Stadium - There will undoubtedly be a lot of talk about how the final Yankee Stadium game will be the end of an era. While the Yankees of yesteryear might not have been pure evil (I'm not entirely up to date on my baseball history...) the new Yankee Stadium will doubtlessly be tainted with the spirit of the Evil One from day one. Here's to you, Yankee Stadium, and those fabled players of old of whom it is said it's possible not to hate them.

Ryan's Top Five

1. The NFL Draft - How will Carl Petersen fuck this one up? Does Ryan Sims have a younger brother? I don't know, but we have a very high draft pick (as we fucking blow), so I am, of course, intrigued.

2. KC Royals Improbable World Series - KU football wins Orange Bowl, anything on God's Green Earth can happen.

3. KU Basketball National Championship - I still argue that jinxing things is bullshit. Why? I've intentionally NOT jinxed things for most of my life, and what has it gotten me? That FSU Championship in 1993 and nothing else.

4. Fantasy Baseball - Dan said it all.

5. Ryan Fox Fantasy Football Championship Repeat - Damn straight, homey.

Tim's Top 5
Note: I'm posting this in June of 2008.

1. Its inevitable end. - God, this year has been awful.

2. Phillies playoff tickets - Oh man, I really need to do that again this year. I really enjoy playoffs, and it's clear the Indians are screwed.

3. The Indians trading C.C. Sabathia for magic beans - We all know it will happen, I just want to know if we get anything in return.

4. The Bengals falling into the first pick in the 2009 draft. - Welcome back, Bengals.

5. Josh Hamilton winning a triple crown - I'm pulling for him.

Honorable mention: Hopefully economic recovery of some sort. Some of us pay our bills...doesn't that do something?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Top 5 Players That Are Hilariously Included in the Mitchell Report

Tim's Top 5:
I read the report, it's a load of garbage, but it is awesome to see that some really really inept players are accused of using steroids or HGH. The whole list of people included on the list is included at

1) Tim Laker - Wow. Seriously? It must only have improved his pitching (0.00 ERA), because if steroids empowered him to hit .226, it's truly shocking to think how bad he'd have been without the help.
2) Manny Alexander - See Tim Laker.
3) Nook Logan - How much farther did he want his bunt singles to go? If we've learned anything from Bonds and Canseco, it's that steroid use can really have detrimental impacts on people who try to steal bases regularly. Without the ability to steal bases, exactly what is it that you'd employ Nook Logan for? Bagging groceries?
4) Chuck Knoblauch - Combining him with Rick Ankiel, I can conclude that performance-enhancing drugs are apparently the primary cause of neurotic inability to throw a ball to its intended location.
5) Wally Joyner - This just lends unnecessary credence to the theory that taking steroids doesn't improve your ability to play baseball. Admittedly, he was washed up by the time he admitted using them, but he wasn't particularly un-washed up all that often in his career.

Dan's Top 5:

(Disclaimer: I'm only pulling names that I recognize from Wikipedia, and don't really know too much about the ones who haven't played recently.)

1. Jeremy Giambi - The shame of being named in the Mitchell report is nothing compared to the shame you experience when you realize that you're the lesser of two Giambis.

2. John Rocker - When you're John Rocker, steroids is probably the least offensive thing you've ever done. That includes playing for the Devil Rays.

3. Rick Ankiel - From what I understand, his use of HGH was prescribed by a physician to aid in the healing process after major Tommy John surgery. So following doctor's orders is, in some cases, banned by the MLB.

4. F.P. Santangelo - Don't know much about him, but allegedly he bought HGH in 2000 and 2001. All that for a single home run and an average of .197? Also, the name is fun to say out loud.

5. Eric Gagne - Apparently bought steroids in 2004. That was the year he got ten fewer saves than the year before, and his performance has sucked ever since due to injury. There are so few outstanding relievers, so why even bother with steroids?

Ryan's Top Five

1. Phil Hiatt

2. Phil Hiatt

3. Phil Hiatt

4. Phil Hiatt

5. Phil Hiatt

Monday, December 10, 2007

Top 5 "Essential Album Artists"

Aha! Not so fast's in quotes, therefore it's a defined term. Here's the definition:
Essential Album Artist -- You have to have every album. Period. There's something on every one of them that's worth owning, and not just easily replicated by buying a greatest hits comp and going to the concerts and singing along with 1/3 of the songs and being pissed they didn't play every hit. They have to have pushed out four albums -- not counting compilations -- and they have to do it with a band with the same name, you can't just declare Ben Folds a winner by counting his three actual albums with the eponymous Five and his two solo albums. Not that you would anyway. This list gives severe glory to those who lived fast. The Sex Pistols didn't last long enough, Bob Dylan lasted far far too long.

Tim's Top 5:
1) The Beatles - This is too easy. Every one of the thirteen albums is essential because they're all good, even if Please Please Me is too teeny-bop and The White Album is too admired by everyone. Best album: Abbey Road; Worst album: probably With The Beatles, but it still has absolute masterpiece songs on it, it's just also got Please Mr. Postman, which makes me weep inside.

2) Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith has a couple of careers, spending his early days with Kill Rock Stars recording quiet and rough albums, but eventually reaching the sprawling orchestral production of Figure 8. Not only are each of Elliott's albums essential, but he also made Good Will Hunting's soundtrack essential just by including an altered version of Between the Bars and Miss Misery. And, just for good measure, his album with Heatmiser -- Mic City Sons -- is even more essential than all the others, even though it doesn't count to the overall album total. Best album: Either/Or, though I love Figure 8; Worst Album: probably Elliott Smith, but it's still a great album.

3) Pearl Jam - If you like Pearl Jam, you understand that every album, every track becomes essential, because even if the album version of Bu$hleaguer sucks, you'll hear it on an official bootleg and realize it's the greatest song you've ever heard. They can release countless compilations, concert albums, and every time one hits my radar, I still consider buying it. I own them all and although I don't listen to them as much as I should, they're all essential. Best album: Yield; Worst album: Binaural was going to get my vote, then I remembered that they recorded Ten. Ten is the winner. It may have performed a great civic duty by bringing Pearl Jam to my 13-year old consciousness, but radio play has ruined its hope of being a respectable album.

4) The Clash - Sandinista! is a mess, but it's a mess that's still got a lot of value, it's just thinly sown among the 36 tracks, and it's being compared to two of the best albums anyone ever recorded. The Clash and London Calling should both be in the top 50 albums of all time, Best album: I'll say London Calling, because I know I'm supposed to, but I really think that The Clash might be the superior album in my own mind. And Give 'Em Enough Rope blows my mind too. Worst album: definitely Sandinista!, but it's well worth it for being the one person you know who owns the album and has actually listened to it.

5) The Old 97's - Helped in no small part by the small number of albums, each one has value. They run a number of genres in the time span, with the first two being definitely more dependent on country influences with the rock sounding more like Buddy Holly than the Beatleish pop influence that overruns Satellite Rides. In between, Wreck Your Life, Too Far to Care, and Fight Songs run the gamut, but each one has at least a half dozen commendable tracks. Worst album: I'm not enamored with Hitchhike to Rhome, which is too lo-fi country for me, but I think Drag It Up is their weakest effort, because it was an all too conscious effort to return to Hitchhike without the sense of youthful reckless innocence that made an innocuous debut acceptable.

Honorable Mention: Oasis - I don't own Standing on The Shoulder of Giants or What's The Story, but I could easily buy both; Bruce Springsteen - warrants serious mention just because he came surprisingly close for someone with a 35 year career, but Devils & Dust is just not a good album (Magic is, however), and I've never felt a need to own Human Touch or Lucky Town. R.E.M. - god, Reveal is awful. Shame on you, Michael Stipe.

Dan's Top 5:
1. Jimi Hendrix - You could argue that he released three albums as the Jimi Hendrix Experience and one with the Band of Gypsys, but really, all that truly changed was the bass player. There's no question where all the talent was. You shouldn't just buy Jimi's albums, you should have every song memorized. Any sort of "greatest hits" collection does not do the man justice, and "Band of Gypsys" is just as good as anything he did with the Experience. Four albums, no dead weight - the epitome of what this list should be.

2. Peter Gabriel - It's interesting to see how Peter's music has evolved from when he started as a solo artist to now. It's vastly different, but there was never any loss of quality. There really aren't any weak albums, unless you count his soundtracks. Assuming not, his second album was only a modest effort, but I'll forgive that since Peter Gabriel III was one of the best (and most underrated) albums ever.

3. The Beatles - I was going to try to come up with a different fifth artist, but I realized that (a) I couldn't think of anyone, and (b) the Beatles were good enough to be repeated in this list. I probably wholeheartedly agree with Tim here, and I'd like to add that it's because of the Fab Four that we have the standard of a band writing its own songs and consisting mainly of guitar, bass, and drums.

4. Radiohead - Not only do I have all albums, but I have all the B-sides as well. Weak albums include Pablo Honey, Kid A, and Amnesiac. Awesome albums include OK Computer, The Bends, and Hail to the Thief. I credit them with having re-established the album as a valid work of art. Now if only more than a handful of artists would put more effort into making complete albums.

5. The Police - Each one of the five studio albums they made has two big hits on it, as well as a handful of other good songs. Apart from Synchronicity, no album is phenomenal, but if you're going to listen to the Police, it's not that hard to just get all the albums.

Honorable Mention - Smashing Pumpkins, Blur. They would have made it were it not for one single album (Zeitgeist, Think Tank) in their catalogue. So much for last hurrahs. (Yes, I do know Blur are back together and recording a new album.) Also, Muse. Their first album - Showbiz - was decent, but not a must-have like their other three.

Ryan's Top Five

1. The Beatles - Best: Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road. Worst: meh, why try.

2. Badly Drawn Boy - Man, I love Badly Drawn Boy. Best: One Plus One Is One. Worst: probably Born In The UK, though it's still good.

3. The Decemberists - Four studio albums, all excellent. Best: The Crane Wife (is one of the best albums of this decade).

4. John Lennon solo - Wings had a lot of crap. John Lennon did not. Best: Imagine or Plastic Ono Band, but I actually really like Double Fantasy, nuts to everyone else.

5. Harry Nilsson - All right, I don't own all of them, as some are difficult to locate. That said, I've heard tracks from all of them. Did I mention I love Harry Nilsson? Best: The Point!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Top 5 Things You Want for Christmas

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to limit this to things that are withing the realm of reasonable expectations. So no private jets, getting to meet non-Baldwin celebrities, or personal slaves. Also, this list is in no way a petition to anyone for gifts - just another Top 5 list. That established, here we go:

Dan's Top 5:

1. Gift Cards - For prices on DVDs and books, there's really no beating, and DVDs in particular are my drug of choice. The only forseeable downside I can see to this one is having to get another DVD shelf, and packing even more crap up when I leave Blacksburg.

2. A Great Album on LP - Trying to find good albums that I feel are worthy of owning on LP is usually a pain, and there's a chance I've overlooked a really great album on my occasional eBay searches. Of course, the drawback is that it's not for anyone who has a lack of knowledge of my taste in music. There's also the chance that I may already have it.

3. Money - Really, this is probably the one thing I could really use the most, but the brutal irony of money is that, while the most useful gift, it shows the least possible amount of thoughtfulness. I know that I'd feel like shit if I just handed a small wad of cash to someone for Christmas, even if it's what they - like me - really wanted. It doesn't show that I really know their likes and dislikes, which is what everyone really wants - proof that someone "gets" them.

4. A USB Recording Interface - Like the Mbox Mini or something. I've recorded my Bass PodXT to the computer before, bit it sounds like there's a lot missing and it's not recording properly. Having recorded through a friend's Mbox unit, I think it will do the trick for any and all music recording needs I have.

5. A Nice Thiers-Issard Straight Razor - I have two straight razors so far, but only my Henckels is a real pleasure to shave with. However, I'd feel like a real jackass asking for one more shaving item when I've already well-established in that hobby.