Wednesday, March 23, 2005

NC2A picks

I found that this year's NCAA tournament was harder to predict than previous years. But I have to pat myself on the back for predicting two huge first round upsets: Bucknell over Kansas and Vermont over Syracuse. And I was actually pretty confident going into the tournament that both would happen.

First, Kansas was/is overrated. Besides Wayne Simeon, no Jayhawk has really thrived under Bill Self's system. It's very obvious that they miss Roy's system, and that Self's system held them back. Most games I saw them in this year, they've looked inconsistent and pretty much every win I saw was ugly...including against scrubs. Hell, Mizzou won against them, and almost beat them the first Allen Fieldhouse. With their new recruits coming, they might be a better team next year talent-wise, but I don't think their record will be as good. I think with Self's recruiting abilities, they'll be close to top-notch in a couple of years.

I felt that Vermont over Syracuse was more of a stretch. But I just had a gut feeling that Vermont would do it. I don't feel that Syracuse is that much better than Kansas this year, and Kansas struggled against Vermont and could've lost earlier in the season...whereas Carolina played them later and killed them.

I had Wake Forest playing Carolina in the finals with Carolina winning it all. My other two final four teams are Kentucky and Illinois. So Wake losing in the second round kind of ruined my brackets. I still have a chance to win, but I have a feeling I won't. Therefore, even though I have Kentucky beating Duke in the elite eight, I'm sort of hoping for a Duke-Carolina semifinal. I'm also sort of hoping for a Carolina-Illinois final. Both would be very entertaining.

Marvin Williams has been great all year, but in the tournament the monster has awoken. He'll be the catalyst for a Carolina championship. Unless he loves college that much or unless he really wants to be Naismith player of the year next year and have his number retired in the Dean Dome, I think he'll bolt for the NBA. If Carolina wins the championship, I think he's gone for sure, like Carmelo Anthony a couple of years ago. He'll go down as arguably the best sixth man in college history.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ahhh, Spring?

It's officially spring, my favorite season of the year. But it certainly doesn't feel like spring in Chicago. I've heard from many people, including Chicagoans, that there really isn't a spring in this city because the weather's so inconsistent until May. I've been sensing the weather "wanting" to get warmer here, but right when it feels like it should be warm, it gets cold again. Oh well. As long as I'm stuck working my shitty job in Harvey (the Compton of Chicago), I guess I couldn't really take advantage of warm weather even if I wanted to just yet.

I also can't take advantage of the neverending list of potentially great shows coming here in the next month or two, especially because I'm so fucking tired by 9:00 most weeknights. I'm going to have to pick and choose which shows to go to. I've already committed to these following shows: Slint (this Friday night with some Chapel Hill friends, including Tim), the Animal Collective, M83 (who I haven't heard much of, but my friend Chris, whose music taste I admire, says he really likes), and Gang of Four.

I will also try to go to as many of these shows as I can (which is probably just a fourth) (in alphabetical order):

Angels of Light
The Books
The Boredoms
Christina Carter
Desmond Dekker (I think I already bought a ticket to the M83 show the same night.)
Dizzee Rascal
Iron and Wine
Melt Banana
Orchestra Baobab
Out Hud
The Pagans
Parts & Labor with Pelican
Roots Manuva
Yo La Tengo

Monday, March 14, 2005

A commercial for Galena, Illinois

Last week the ladyfriend suggested taking a road trip somewhere, and so this past weekend we, along with another couple, took a two-and-a-half-hour road trip west to Galena, Ulysses S. Grant's hometown.

It was a nice change of pace from the usual citylife. I had forgotten how quiet it can be not living in a city, although I was at my parents' house in St. Charles, MO just last weekend. But Galena is Small-Town-America-in-the-middle-of-nowhere quiet. We rented a two-bedroom townhouse at the Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa and relaxed, although we all didn't get as much sleep as we probably intended.

Supposedly the town makes most of its money through tourism (1.3 million visitors a year), and I wasn't suprised after visiting myself. Galena is a beautiful and charming town and suprisingly hilly - almost mountainous. People actually go to the resort to ski. And if you live in Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, or any large city in the northern part of the Midwest, and you want to temporarily go someplace peaceful and quiet and not just flat farmland, Galena seems kind of like a hidden treasure. However, unless you're an avid golfer or just plain old, I don't recommend spending more than 4-5 days there because it can get a little boring. Nevertheless, I'd go there again for a weekend sometime in the future.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Best show ever?

Probably not, but the Six Organs of Admittance show at the Empty Bottle last night was the best show I've seen in a long time, and that includes some great shows I've already seen here in Chicago and also in Chapel Hill. Chris Corsano (of Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano duo), who played percussion on the latest Six Organs album, is touring with Ben Chasney right now, and his presence helped transform the Six Organs performance into something I hadn't seen the previous three times.

Chasney started off solo and not too much different from what I remember from the previous times. But halfway into the set, after looping some acoustic guitar parts, Corsano started playing drums (including using a violin bow) while Chasney got electric. Then came the noise, and it was fucking stunning. Everytime I've seen Six Organs I'm just in awe, but last night my jaw just dropped, along with everyone else around me. During the PG Six set, I was wondering what the fuck I was doing there since I had to get up so early this morning; but after the show I was glad that I went.

PG Six was sort of boring, kind of like last time I saw him. I like his music, but it doesn't really translate that nicely live. He messed up a few times, and at times I thought I was watching the male Cat Power.

After the show before I hurried home to sleep, I bought a CDR of a Chris Corsano (side) project Vampire Belt. I haven't listened to it yet, but I heard Ben Chasney describe it as "a very metal Harry Pussy." Sold.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Tomorrow's gonna suck

Pretty soon I'm going to head down to the Empty Bottle for the Six Organs of Admittance and PG Six show. I also have to wake up at 5:45 for work tomorrow morning, and I'm already sleepy right now. Yes, tomorrow's gonna suck.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Go Heels, Part II

It was a good day for me in college basketball, as both Mizzou and Carolina won. How both games played out surprised me and didn't surpise me.

Missouri almost always plays KU tough, even when they seemingly have no chance of winning prior to the games. I vividly remember unranked MU (in maybe '96 or '97) defeating an unbeaten, number-one-ranked Kansas team that had Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Scot Pollard, and Jacque Vaughn when they really should've had no chance in hell. During the first game in Lawrence this year, Mizzou outplayed KU and was up at half, I think. KU came back at the end and won. I thought the same thing might happen today...and it almost did. But MU hung on and won. Whew.

As for Carolina-Duke, I predicted a Carolina win by a large margin (see post below). I was wrong, obviously, but what a comeback by the Tar Heels. K's gotta be kicking himself right now. As per any heated rivalry game, especially Duke-Carolina, this should be another reminder that there are rarely blowouts. Duke played tough, and I started thinking that K had Roy's number yet again before the Heels scored 11 straight points to win the game. However, I expected Felton to have a bigger game, although you can't be too hard on him because he's probably the most indispensible guy on the Carolina team. I guess I just expected him to have more points and assists. Sean May is a monster. I'm not sure how much of a star he'll be in the pros, but he'll be in the league as at least a role player for the next decade. I was at least right about him having a big game. And I think I was pretty accurate about Shavlik Randolph. He should've gone to State.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Go Heels

After spending the latter half of this week in shitty Springfield, Illinois, attending a psychologist conference, I'm spending the rest of this weekend at my parents' house here in Missouri. Simply, Springfield sucks ass. For those of you familiar with the state of North Carolina, Springfield reminds me of Greensboro or Winston-Salem, except worse. Anyway, I don't have work until Tuesday, so I'll spend tomorrow watching some college basketball with my dad.

First up will be shitty Missouri versus overrated Kansas. During his first few seasons at Mizzou, I gave Quin Snyder the benefit of the doubt, but there's only so much I can take. He should've been canned after the whole NCAA infractions debacle, which was just extremely embarassing to the university. But he's proven time and again that he's arguably the worst coach in college basketball. He needs to stop trying to be a "motivator" like Coach K and go observe some practices around the country and learn how to teach some real basketball. He'd be a good assistant coach who's in charge of recruiting, like he was at Duke, but he's a shitty head coach. Anyway, I hope they beat Kansas, who play such an ugly brand of basketball I can't stand them even more than when Roy was there.

Speaking of Roy Williams, the second game of the afternoon is the one I'm looking forward to the most. Carolina versus Duke (or Dook). First, I should say that the years I spent in Chapel Hill has made me a true blue Carolina fan. I've become such a fan that if Mizzou played UNC, I would be torn up inside, instead of automatically rooting for Mizzou. This didn't happen necessarily because I lived in Chapel Hill, but it happened gradually as I read more and more about Dean Smith and how much I respect him as a coach and as a person. The program really does do things the right way, much moreso than how the media portrays Duke as the model program (even though they're not as dirty as some diehard Carolina fans may think). I just have so much respect for the Carolina program that I can't help but think that sooner or later they may overtake Mizzou as my number one team. Presently, they're tied.

I still kind of can't stand Roy, however, and it really has nothing to do with Kay U. I don't like the way he always carries himself in a "woe is me" sort of way, always seeking sympathy from the world with his melodramatic musings. (Examples include: "There's no bigger Carolina fan than me" after he turned down UNC in 2000 to "there's no bigger Kansas fan than me" that he'll say now.) I also don't think he's the saint he and the media portary him to be. I think I'd like him a lot better if he didn't try so hard to make himself look like the the most innocent person ever. But the bottom line is that he's one of the best coaches and recruiters in the country, and I'm sure he'll lead Carolina to at least one championship before his career is over, quite possibly this year. So, despite some of the negative feelings I have about the guy, I'll take him on my side. I'd defintely take him anyday over that sleazy coach down at Dook.

I cannot fucking stand Coach K and his stupid ass assistants, especially that brown-nosing pipsqueak Wojo. I respect K for his accomplishments at Duke, and I think he deserves to be recognized as one of the two best coaches in ACC history with Dean Smith. But the thing that separates K from Smith is that Coach K emphasizes winning at all costs, and his motivational skills are probably as good as any coach in history. Dean Smith, on the other hand, emphasized playing the right way, with winning as the probable outcome should his team play smart and the right way. He knew how to teach all that, and thus his players carried those skills to successful NBA careers and former assistant coaches to successful head coaching gigs. Now, look at K's former assistant coaches. Snyder has been ripping off the University of Missouri with his NBA Jam style of coaching for years, and Amaker hasn't done shit with Michigan either. They're both identical in playing some infuriatingly, stupid-ass basketball. Look for Wojo to follow in their footsteps. (I'm not quite as sure with Chris Collins since his father Doug is known as someone who truly understand the X's and O's and fundamentals of the game.)

Anyway, with Coach K's motivational skills (and Roy's history of getting outcoached in big games from Norm Stewart to Lute Olson to now Coach K), Duke definitely has a chance to steal this game in Chapel Hill, especially with Rashad McCants not expected to play. However, I think Raymond Felton will have a huge game especially with that embarassing last play in the game in Durham a few weeks ago. J.J. Redick will shoot something like 6 for 24, and Shavlik Randolph will foul out in 7 minutes with 2 points and 2 rebounds. Sean May and Marvin Williams will also have big games. My prediction: Carolina 89, Duke 70. As for the MU-KU game, I predict: KU 62, MU 52.

And if you happen to watch the game, look for my friend Tim (below on the left), who'll be wearing his UNC Mexican wrestling mask at the game.
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Aquarius Records : Customer Favorites 2004

On January 25th, I listed my top records of 2004 here.

I also sent the list to Aquarius Records, and they listed other people's lists, including mine. Out of the people they received lists from, they randomly chose one name for a $25 gift certificate. Unfortunately, that winner wasn't me.