Friday, May 29, 2009

Now THAT'S How You Do It.

I've gotten awfully tired of mediocre online promotions - The Dark Knight's was particularly spotty, as I recall, with both a clever "I Believe In Harvey Dent" poster campaign and a series of lousy YouTube videos - and that's why I'm excited about "Yo Teach!"

"Yo Teach!" is the fake and deliberately terrible sitcom promoting Judd Apatow's new comedy Funny People, a riff on the "Welcome Back Kotter" teacher-who-cares three-camera show, but if you stumbled over it (and lacked any knowledge of current pop culture) you wouldn't know it's fake. It's hosted on, it has a real listed start time (Sept. 27th) and ad campaign "School's Back In Session This September!" Plus it stars Jason Schwartzman as "Mark Taylor Jackson," a completely unaware falling star.

There's both a clip and an EPK available. Watch the EPK first. In fact, I'll embed it.

My favorite bit is Jason Schwartzman's "hard to argue with that!" delivery in "Student Body." Is it just me, or does this look like it could honestly be a real comedy pilot on Fox five years ago?

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ESPN: Fantasy Focus

I mentioned earlier I was a part of ESPN's top fantasy league the other day, the Man's League, run by Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz, their two top fantasy columnists. As such, I was a guest on the ESPN: Fantasy Focus podcast yesterday. I was a little nervous, but I still think it's cool that I was a guest, so I'll include the link here. I'm on from about 10 minutes from the end on.

You'll find it terribly boring if you don't follow fantasy baseball, of course. I'm just kinda proud.

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Empire Online: The Cryptic Canvas

I had loads of fun with this:

In honor of their 20th anniversary, Empire Online released a movie game called The Cryptic Canvas, a painting with 50 different movie titles hidden inside. Some are simple and straightforward, some are groaners, and some are fiendishly difficult. It's a good waste of a time while you're doing something else.

Here's a hint right out of the gate: all of the movies are from the past 20 years.

I've completed the puzzle, so I won't give anything away, but if you get stuck I'll put some hints for some of the hard ones in the comments, though even then I won't give anything away.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Kicked In The Nuts

Here's what happens when a wedding videographer gets a little too close to a dance floor that's a little too small.

Take note the bride arriving at :40 to make sure I hadn't ruined her reception by becoming permanently injured.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Performances of American Idol: Season 8

This post will probably be as controversial a post as anything I've ever posted, but I've gotta say: I went over this list half a dozen times, moving things up and down, removing things, putting them back in, etc., and this list has to be pretty close to an absolute.

We've got one more week of performances, though there's no reason to assume that any of them will be unbelievably great, since the judges will be picking songs for the contestants again (yay.), so I think we're safe to put the list on ice before a (hopefully) Adam and Kris finale next week.

Rabid Glambert and Danny fans might pour flame mail down my throat, but you have to admit - while Adam has been more than solid the whole season long, always effortless, always energetic, his two really only show-stopping moments are given their due here, and solid-but-unremarkable (for him) performances like "Black Or White," "Feeling Good," and "Play That Funky Music" don't make the list. Danny fans - what can I say? He's been solid all season, never surprising (save for that one time), and while his vocals have been excellent, how many can you look back on and say "that was an unbelievable performance." The couple weeks that qualify are listed here.

As for Lil, Scott, Megan, Michael, and (God forbid) Jorge and Jasmine fans, and those vague hangers-on from the Semi-finals (Ricky Braddy, everybody!), I can only apologize. You were all memorable. Just not in the right way.

Links are provided.

25. Jesse Langseth – “Bette Davis Eyes"
The only one on this list who didn't make the finals, she never really had a chance - she sang in the same semi-final group that Alison did. How good was this song, though? The backbeat on it, and those smoking vocals over that snapping groove. And Jasmine beat her to the finals because the judges thought she might be a 'package artist.' Grr.

24. Matt Giraud - "Part Time Lover"

Matt was unfortunate to never really start to find a real comfort level until the end of the competition, but this was one of the performances where he remained completely in the zone, (mercifully) not killing the melody with riffing.

23. Anoop Desai - "True Colors"

Anoop hit a stretch early on where it was clear the only thing that was really working for him was slow, soulful ballads, something he fought endlessly and unsuccessfully. His best moments were always these quiet, understated vocals, and this was one his very best.

22. Kris Allen - "Heartless"
The only real standout from the top three's showdown tonight was Kris' attempt to get America's attention by covering Kanye West's "Heartless," a strong choice since it's a current and musically interesting song famously sung by a terrible singer, so the only place to go was up. Choosing to do it with just an acoustic and stretching his vocals to their limits, though, was a gutsy call.

21. Danny Gokey - "Get Ready"

We learned early on that if Gokey could get a chorus in his range that just needed him to slam the gas to the floor, that was a moment worth waiting for. Of all his faster moments, complete with gloriously awkward dancing and self-conscious glances at the camera, he never hit harder or more effectively than he did right here.

20. Alexis Grace - "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)"
The performance that swept Alexis into the finals (where she was immediately swept right out again) was so good that everyone believed that bogus news story floating around at the beginning of the season that the producers already had their top 4 picked out and Alexis was in it. Of course, her getting booted after her lovely but ill-advised version of "Jolene" the second week ended that conspiracy theory pretty quickly.

19. Matt Giraud - "So Small"
Nobody really made it through Country Week that well (except for Anoop, of course). It's somehow just not a good week for most singers, for some reason. Still, Matt did some interesting things to Carrie Underwood's hit and really made it sound like something that could be on an album he made. Not bad for a guy who is quite emphatically not a country artist.

18. Kris Allen - "She Works Hard For The Money"

Ah, Disco Week. Where everyone falls all over each other to try to "re-invent" disco (as if anyone invented it the first place. I maintain it was accidentally discovered, like how Marie Curie discovered uranium. I hope whoever it was suffered the same fate). Kris ended up the only person looking untouched at the end of the night with a stripped-down acoustic version of the Donna Summer classic.

17. Allison Iraheta - "Someone To Watch Over Me"
Trust me, this is the first of many Allison performances. How she managed to remain skating through in the bottom three each week despite so many jaw-dropping performances is beyond me, but this was one of my favorites. Imbued with all the desperation and trembling vulnerability the song requires, Allison connected with the song in such a way that it would've made Mr. Holland re-write his Opus all over again (Dreyfuss references!).

16. Matt Giraud - "Who's Loving You"
We'd gotten the impression that Matt was a good singer during Hollywood week, but his Semi-final performance of "Viva La Vida" (though not nearly as bad as everyone says it was) didn't give us much to go on. When he went back to his roots during Wild Card week, it was game over. Despite the judges very clear efforts to jam as many girls into the Top 12 as possible (Jasmine Murray!), it was clear that Matt had made a home for himself on the Idol stage.

15. Adam Lambert - "Born To Be Wild"

Adam has mercifully dialed down the endless showboat wailing that marred his early performances, though he hasn't exactly figured out how to bring the energy back up without alienating fans ("Cryin" was a good step forward this week), sometimes it's best when he lets it all good. "Wild" was every bit as good a vocal as Adam had all year, plus his crowd-pleasing head-banging made for a great show.

14. Danny Gokey - "What Hurts The Most"

There's a moment in this song where it gets big, and you need a big vocal to make it work, and as soon as it hit that part, everyone watching said 'oh, wow, yeah, that's why he picked this song.' Watch it back now. I still get goosebumps.

13. Allison Iraheta - "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"
No matter how big the song, no matter how fast the lyrics fly, no matter how old the material, if a song is rocking enough, Allison will destroy it. Every time.

12. Matt Giraud - "Let's Get It On"

The song that made everyone - even the judges! - snap to and say 'y'know, this guy's got a real chance at that thing.' The swipe of the mike off the piano stand and the subsequent stride to center stage just announced with every little motion an eye-catching, veteran performer. And speaking of eye-catching, it should be noted both how outrageously tight his jeans were, and how disturbingly excited Kara was at the end of the performance.

11. Adam Lambert & Allison Iraheta - "Slow Ride"
Everything about this performance makes me feel happy - the two of them trading lines, exchanging riffs, interacting and grinning at each other, plus the giant hug at the end that showed how genuinely thrilled for each other they were. I hope they actually do let them do it on the tour and not one of those awful group numbers that drag every results show into the ground.

10. Anoop Desai - "Always On My Mind"

I still remember the moment Anoop started singing this song and my jaw just dropped to the floor. Up to this point we'd seen Anoop perform at least four times, and there wasn't the slightest indication he had this sort of vocal. But the moment he opened his mouth for this song, it was like you could hear a pin drop in the Idol auditorium.

9. Allison Iraheta – “Alone”

At the time Allison performed this in the semi-finals, we had absolutely no idea who she was. She hadn't been seen in previous segments, we'd barely seen her face during Hollywood week, and so we knew she wasn't one of the go-to season favorites (which at that point were Danny, Matt, and Lil, I'm pretty sure). But once she started singing, she'd vaulted into the top 13 before the song was even done. Still one of her best vocals from the season.

8. Matt Giraud - "You Found Me"
This must be the year's most underrated performance. Maybe it was performing the song from the pit in front of the stage. Maybe it was being surrounded by 50 fans who could not clap on any of the beats. Maybe it was that awful Members Only jacket. I don't know. But Matt killed on this song, pouring grit into the melody and riffing off to give it a soulful edge. I'll point out that this is the only week during his last stretch where he didn't end up in the bottom three.

7. Allison Iraheta - "I Can't Make You Love Me"

How is it that such an adult sort of song about complex relationships sounded so natural when sung by a sixteen-year-old girl? She was so heart-breaking on this song, a selection, it should be pointed out, from "Songs From The Year You Were Born" week.

6. Danny Gokey - "Come Rain Or Come Shine"
As stellar as Danny's vocals have been (until recently), it wasn't until Rat Pack week that Danny really had that moment that made you say 'man, that's why this guy is here. No one else could've done that.' And all because that song has so many moments where it seems like it's about to get huge, and you brace for it, and Danny reigns it back in, keeping you waiting for the big finale that makes it all worth it.

5. Kris Allen - "Falling Slowly"

How lousy was Movie Music week? Out of seven performances, we had two (two!) Bryan Adams songs, Danny brought a harp player onto the stage, and even Allison was kinda mediocre. While Adam brought the show some energy on "Born To Be Wild," it was Kris' sweet, gentle take on "Falling Slowly" that reminded us of just how outstanding a singer Kris really is - and gives lie to Simon's endless insistence that Kris shouldn't be in the finals because he's not a good enough vocalist.

4. Allison Iraheta - "Cry Baby" (post-elimination)
Her Rock week vocal was a little rocky, though I think we can't blame bad vocals for sending her home that week (Oh, Danny, why?). But once she got eliminated, her farewell performance was pitch-perfect and emotionally stunning. Where most people halfheartedly stumble through the song that dropped them from competition, Allison gave us one more reason to remember that we'll be seeing her again soon.

3. Adam Lambert - "Mad World"
A lot of people assume that this should be number one, but at least for me, once I heard that Adam was doing "Mad World," I said 'oh, he'll do the Gary Jules version.' And of course he did. But that's nothing to take away from Adam's vocal, which is both haunting and impressive, and his tender, understated (!) performance.

2. Kris Allen - "Ain't No Sunshine"
Nobody else this season has had a moment quite like this - a melodic reinvention of a song so gripping that the judges had to admit that they could see the song being played on the radio right then. It's the only time this year I heard a performance and knew that I'd be buying that person's album when it came out, no matter what.

1. Adam Lambert - "Tracks Of My Tears"
Was there any doubt? Remember, up until this performances Adam was a sharply divisive candidate, as fans either deplored him and his persistent wailing, or found him to be the best contestant Idol had ever seen (I was in the former group, though I was starting to come around a little). But "Tracks Of My Tears" - slow, acoustic, and poignant - was unlike any performance we'd ever seen from him, and still let him show off his remarkable vocal range. Looking back, we'll almost certainly end up saying 'and that's the moment he won American Idol.'

Disagree with me? I'm not surprised. I'm not backing down on this list though.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

50 Things (I Think) I Know About Star Trek

In about an hour, I'm going to go see Star Trek, J.J. Abrams' reinvention of the classic franchise. I mentioned yesterday that I was excited about seeing the movie even though I've never seen any of the movies or watched the show - after all, it's being billed as a "Star Trek for the rest of us" - and Claire thought it was ridiculous that I'd never really seen any "Star Trek" before this.

But despite my complete lack of exposure to anything from the Trek universe before this, I know a good deal about it. Everyone does. It's inescapable. In fact, here's 50 things I know about "Trek" despite having never seen any of it.

50 Things (I Think) I Know About Star Trek

1. Captain James T. Kirk is played by William Shatner in the original series.
2. Kirk would have sex with anything, on any planet, that seemed even vaguely feminine.
3. A LOT of those aliens looked awfully human and perfectly acceptable for Kirk to have sex with.
4. If Kirk seemed to be falling in love with one of these aliens, it was absolutely certain that this creature would be dead by the end of the show/movie.
5. There are ten "Star Trek" movies.
6. All of the even-numbered Trek movies are good.
7. All of the odd-numbered Trek movies are weird and/or terrible.
8. This movie is the eleventh, and therefore the one that seems to be capable of breaking the streak.
9. There are three Star captains. Shatner was Kirk, Patrick Stewart was Picard, and then there was a female captain who a lot of people hated.
10. Female Trek fans call the female captain a "great female role model." Male Trek fans just pine endlessly for Kirk and Picard.
11. In the later seasons/reboots/whatever, The U.S.S. Enterprise, for no logical reason, has a holodeck.
12. The major purpose of the holodeck seems to be exposition.
13. Sometimes people hang out in the holodeck in order to play chess with Sherlock Holmes, or whatever, because when you have a holodeck, you have to write it into the script a whole lot, or else everyone makes fun of it for being useless.
14. People spend exorbitant amounts of time explaining the science of the holodeck, or questioning its validity as a scientific object.
15. All of this time should really be spent on much more important things.
16. Every fight scene in "Star Trek," the show, has been abysmally terrible.
17. Having William Shatner fight a guy in a rubber suit while dramatic music plays in the background was always a really bad idea, so there's no excuse.
18. Leonard Nimoy got to speak with a monotone for, like, 20 years, and is now heralded as a great actor with no validity whatsoever.
19. Shatner is also regarded as great actor just because he's "in on the joke." This is a stupid reason to be considered a great actor.
20. Wesley Crusher was played by a guy named Wil Wheaton, who looked exactly like the way you'd imagine a guy named Wil Wheaton to look.
21. Uhura, who will be played by Zoe Saldana in the new movie, was originally played by an actress named... I dunno, some other actress who wore a miniskirt and was black. This was regarded as a huge step forward for our culture.
22. The fact that Trek fans regarded this as a huge step forward for our culture says a lot more about Trek fans than it does about our culture.
23. Uhura hooked up with Kirk and managed to not die, one of the most impressive feats any character managed on early Trek television.
24. "Bones" McCoy was a hothead, which was probably how he managed to get the stupidest nickname on television.
25. McCoy might have been a doctor, which is why he was named "Bones" - y'know, the ol' "sawbones" nickname. It's still a dumb name.
26. McCoy always battled with Spock, a classic example of emotion vs. logic.
27. The fact that people withdrew great insights from these arguments would be a very great example of the former.
28. The navigator was Sulu, played by George Takei. He was supposedly a fencer of some kind, an exceedingly useful skill in outer space.
29. Sulu spent very little time navigating and most of his time counting down the seconds until the ship would explode.
30. Scotty was the engineer who always miraculously kept the ship from exploding after the crew had screwed everything up again. Engineers everywhere found this appropriate.
31. He was nicknamed "Scotty" because his last name was Scott, a nicknaming habit that unfortunately did not extend to Kirky, Spocky, or later, Picardy and Crushery.
32. Everyone agrees "Wrath of Khan" was the best Star Trek movie ever.
33. In it, someone - probably Kirk - yells "Khaaaaaaaan!" at the skies in a dramatic fashion.
34. The reason they do this is because Spock died.
35. The death didn't actually take, because no one wanted to see "Star Trek" without Spock.
36. Other Best Star Trek movies are IV and VI, and I think VIII is also up there.
37. In one of them - I think, "The Voyage Home," the Kirk and Spock-version crew goes back in time to 1960s or 1970's Earth. Hijinks ensue.
38. The crew wasn't supposed to change anything while they were in the past, but of course they did, which probably should've screwed everything up but didn't, because that would be too problematic to write about.
39. There's a scene in the movie where one of the actors is asking passers-by questions, and it's all their real responses. It's the old hidden-camera trick.
40. Everyone finds this very cool, and not at all gimmicky.
41. Despite the fact that it's very, very gimmicky.
42. People debate Picard vs. Kirk all the time, because Patrick Stewart was cool and collected, and Shatner was animated and fun and talked with a weird cadence, and so they're very different and the debate rages endlessly.
43. Shatner got a leg up by going first, of course. If the original captain had been someone like Patrick Stewart and he'd been replaced by someone like William Shatner, there would have been rioting in the street.
44. In the later series, there's another token black guy who wears weird sunglasses. No one saw this as a big step forward for our country, not even "Star Trek" fans.
45. The crew from the original series were in movies I-VI, the crew from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" were in movies VII-X, and the crummy casts from the other crummy versions haven't been in any movies at all.
46. Scott Bakula was also the captain of one of the versions of Star Trek, because Sci-Fi fans love them some Scott Bakula. It wasn't "Deep Space Nine," though, cause that was some other dude whose name I don't know.
47. "Star Trek" has its own version of the Ewoks, only lamer. They look like some sort of gerbil-housecat mixed breed. Apparently one of them will be in the background somewhere in the new movie.
48. Spock was a Vulcan, who apparently mate something like every seven years, though I imagine that event happened just in time for May sweeps at least one year.
49. There's a Klingon language that people memorize, and the word for "why" is "qatlh." This has stuck in my head, though I'm not totally sure what a Klingon looks like. I think they're the ones with the Triceratops forehead.
50. Despite never having seen any "Star Trek," I honestly did not have to look up any of this stuff. This says much about how my brain works, since I regularly can't remember what my weekend plans are and where exactly I agreed to be.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Flight Of The Conchords

I need to post about this, just because the website is a blog called "Topless Robot," and I had it as a tab on my browser when my head pastor came into my office. And naturally, we had to hunt around online for something while he was in here. Great, uncomfortable fun.

Anyway, Topless Robot has come up with a "The Ten Best Flight of the Conchords Songs" (with YouTubes embedding for quick viewing). While the list is certainly a close approximation of what might be considered FOTC best work, my list would actually look like this:

Honorable Mention: Sello Tape, Inner City Pressure, It's Business Time

The first FOTC song that ever really registered with American culture at all, and it did so because it's a better live song than it is a musical episode. Though it did give us one of the better scenes from the pilot, the filming of the music video, where we all came to love Murray (Bret: We wanted robot costumes like Daft Punk. Murray: Well, I don't know who that is.).

9. Think About It
Another live-vs.-music-video argument could be made here, though the song certainly outdistances it by being so deadpan hilarious - "they're turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers, but what's the real cost, 'cause the sneakers don't seem that much cheaper! What are your overheads?" FOTC are masters of the second punchline - they hit the rhyme, then riff a little at the end to try to jam a couple new jokes in there before the next line - and this song is their best example of that ("mmmm... turns out he's dead!") Also, it's funny just because Bret and Jermaine's frenetic half-dancing is much funnier than any staged choreography.

8. If You're Into It
I don't know how this actress manages to keep such a straight face during this song, especially since she's in such close proximity to Jermaine's crotch for so much of the time. There's a reason this is FOTC most-watched YouTube video.

7. Sugarlumps
Jermaine and Bret's ode to their nutsacks only ranks this low because of Dave's somewhat unispired rap section at the tail end of the song drops it a couple notches, leaving it the second-most-danceable FOTC song about their genitalia from the second season. Lots of songwriters fall into a rhythm like that. Like how Dylan sings about trains a lot.

6. The Most Beautiful Girl In The Room
This was a fairly startling moment when it first happened, because up until this point in the pilot, this was just another hipster HBO show, and then Jermaine starts singing, and you realize that the whole show is going to be a musical, and then you hear what he's singing about, and you realize the whole show is going to be an ironic musical. The song's classic for Bret hanging around the edges in order to sing backup.

5. Too Many Dicks (On The Dancefloor)
And here's the other dance-song-about-men's-genitalia from Season Two. Like "Carol Brown," which you'll find later on the countdown, it's directed by indie auteur Michel Gondry, whose style proved to be a perfect match for FOTC's off-beat whimsy. I'm a Gondry fan, though I think he sometimes goes wildly off the rails (The Science of Sleep, I'm looking at you), and it's nice to see him do some work with a little structure, an obstruction that seems to bring out the best nonsense in him.

4. Leggy Blond
This song keeps ranking high on people's "Best Of" lists, though I don't know if it translates into a straight YouTube video unless people realize that the whole episode was about writing the song and most of the lyrics are from Murray's episode-long hunt for rhymes for the word "hi," the only lyric he'd managed to write that he was happy with.

3. Not Cryin'
This is one of those moments where the ability to make video really makes the song. Shot in dramatic black-and-white, it's brilliantly overdramatic in addition to being, of course, lyrically clever.

2. Carol Brown (Stick Around)
This song's good for all the reasons FOTC songs normally are - clever, fun, catchy - but this one takes it to a whole other level by just being so outrageous hook-laden. Jermaine's choir of ex-girlfriends singing behind him, the string and horn sections, the brief moments of slow self-reflection - plus the fun of writing a song that's exactly the opposite of Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover." It's like listening to SNL's "Bon Jovi Opposite Band,' Jon Bovi.

1. Hiphopopotamus Vs. Rhymenocerous
And of course, this is number one. This was a fun, off-kilter faux hip-hop song when the band used to play it on stage, but once they started the show and made it into a full-fledged rap song, it became so much more funny. Watch and see:

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Why Yes, I Would Like A Lifesize Richie Cunningham.

The Hollywood Wax Museum is auctioning off a lot of their older wax figures, epecially 70's and 80's figurines. I was intrigued and hunted through to see if I could find one that I liked, but they turned out to be terrible. Even Zombie Michael Jackson was terrible. How do you mess that one up?

That's Tom Cruise on the left there. I kid you not.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

2009 Youkilis

Two years ago, I made the argument that Kevin Youkilis was the best first baseman for the price in the American League. At the time, Youkilis was hitting .342 with an OPS of .956 and making $424,500 a year. Not only that, he wasn't on the All-Star Ballot, which I found to be a complete travesty.

This offseason, Youkilis got an extension and a huge bump in pay. But he's hitting the cover off the ball this year, so the question needs to be asked: is Youkilis still the best value at his position in the American League? How about in all of baseball?

As it turned out, I didn't have time to run the numbers of all the NL players, so here's the AL comparison. Stats are listed below, so you can draw your own conclusions (by the way, Ryan Garko? Still seriously underpaid) but here's the rundown:

Top AL First Basemen (in terms of production)

1. Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
2009 Stats: .391, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 1.049 OPS
2008 Stats: .292, 37 HR, 127 RBI .886 OPS

2. Mark Texeira - New York Yankees
2009 Stats: .182, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .692 OPS
2008 Stats: .308, 33 HR, 121 RBI, .962 OPS

3. Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins
2009 Stats: .324, 6 HR, 21 RBI, .962 OPS
2008 Stats: .300, 23 HR, 129 RBI, .873 OPS

4.Kevin Youkilis - Boston Red Sox
2009 Stats: .393, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 1.112 OPS
2008 Stats: .312, 29 HR, 115 RBI, .959 OPS

5. Aubrey Huff - Baltimore Orioles
2009 Stats: .279, 3 HR, 23 RBI, .807 OPS
2008 Stats: .304, 32 HR, 108 RBI, .912 OPS

6. Carlos Pena - Tampa Bay Rays
2009 Stats: .271, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 1.041 OPS
2008 Stats: .247, 31 HR, 102 RBI, .891 OPS

7. Mike Jacobs - Kansas City Royals
2009 Stats: .244, 4 HR, 13 RBI, .742 OPS
2008 Stats: .247, 32 HR, 93 RBI, .813 OPS

8. Jason Giambi - Oakland A's
2009 Stats: .213, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .637 OPS
2008 Stats: .247, 32 HR, 96 RBI, .875 OPS

9. Hank Blalock - Texas Rangers
2009 Stats: .258, 7 HR, 19 RBI, .865 OPS
2008 Stats: .287, 12 HR, 38 RBI, .846 OPS (65 Games)

10. Lyle Overbay - Toronto Blue Jays
2009 Stats:.242, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .889 OPS
2008 Stats: .270, 15 HR, 69 RBI, .777 OPS

Top AL First Basemen (in terms of salary)

1. Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
2009 Salary: $14.4 Million

2. Mark Texeira - New York Yankees
2009 Salary: $12.5 Million

3. Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox

2009 Salary: $12 Million

4. Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins

2009 Salary: $11.6 Million

5. Aubrey Huff - Baltimore Orioles

2009 Salary: $8 Million

6. Carlos Pena - Tampa Bay Rays

2009 Salary: $8 Million

7. Lyle Overbay - Toronto Blue Jays

2009 Salary: $7.95 Million

8. Kevin Youkilis - Boston Red Sox

2009 Salary: $6.25 Million

9. Hank Blalock - Texas Rangers
2009 Salary: $6.2 Million

10. Jason Giambi - Oakland A's
2009 Salary: $4 Million

I think it's safe to say that Kevin Youkilis is giving you pretty close to the best value available.

American League Stats and Salaries

Aubrey Huff - Baltimore Orioles
2009 Salary: $8 Million
2009 Stats: .279, 3 HR, 23 RBI, .807 OPS
2008 Stats: .304, 32 HR, 108 RBI, .912 OPS

Kevin Youkilis - Boston Red Sox
2009 Salary: $6.25 Million
2009 Stats: .393, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 1.112 OPS
2008 Stats: .312, 29 HR, 115 RBI, .959 OPS

Mark Texeira - New York Yankees
2009 Salary: $12.5 Million
2009 Stats: .182, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .692 OPS
2008 Stats: .308, 33 HR, 121 RBI, .962 OPS

Carlos Pena - Tampa Bay Rays
2009 Salary: $8 Million
2009 Stats: .271, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 1.041 OPS
2008 Stats: .247, 31 HR, 102 RBI, .891 OPS

Lyle Overbay - Toronto Blue Jays
2009 Salary: $7.95 Million
2009 Stats:.242, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .889 OPS
2008 Stats: .270, 15 HR, 69 RBI, .777 OPS

Paul Konerko - Chicago White Sox
2009 Salary: $12 Million
2009 Stats: .310, 3 HR, 18 RBI, .865 OPS
2008 Stats: .240, 22 HR, 62 RBI, .782 OPS

Ryan Garko - Cleveland Indians
2009 Salary: $446,100
2009 Stats: .290, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .792 OPS
2008 Stats: .273, 14 HR, 90 RBI, .750 OPS

Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
2009 Salary: $14.4 Million
2009 Stats: .391, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 1.049 OPS
2008 Stats: .292, 37 HR, 127 RBI .886 OPS

Mike Jacobs - Kansas City Royals
2009 Salary: $3.275 Million
2009 Stats: .244, 4 HR, 13 RBI, .742 OPS
2008 Stats: .247, 32 HR, 93 RBI, .813 OPS

Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins
2009 Salary: $11.6 Million
2009 Stats: .324, 6 HR, 21 RBI, .962 OPS
2008 Stats: .300, 23 HR, 129 RBI, .873 OPS

Kendry Morales - Los Angeles Angels
2009 Salary: $1.1 Million
2009 Stats: .274, 4 HR, 16 RBI, .867 OPS
2008 Stats: .213, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .666 OPS (27 Games)

Jason Giambi - Oakland A's
2009 Salary: $4 Million
2009 Stats: .213, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .637 OPS
2008 Stats: .247, 32 HR, 96 RBI, .875 OPS

Russell Branyan - Seattle Mariners
2009 Salary: $1.4 Million
2009 Stats: .324, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 1.043 OPS
2008 Stats: .250, 12 HR, 20 RBI, .925 OPS (50 Games)

Hank Blalock - Texas Rangers
2009 Salary: $6.2 Million
2009 Stats: .258, 7 HR, 19 RBI, .865 OPS
2008 Stats: .287, 12 HR, 38 RBI, .846 OPS (65 Games)

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Basketball Things

Malcolm Gladwell has a great piece in the New Yorker on David vs. Goliath and the importance of the full court press.

Here's the Barack Obama version of "Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?" Also, here's the Teen Wolf and Hoosiers versions, courtesy of Bill Simmons - who, I'm very disappointed to say, announced that his new book will end up being called The Book of Basketball and not Tuesdays With Horry.

Look for the Celtics to shock the Magic tonight despite gaudy stats from Dwight Howard.

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Why yes. I am on the Twitter. You can find me on the Internets whenever you want.

I finally joined Twitter - if you have one, you can follow me.

I discovered something interesting about trends by noticing something I did in the lead-up to my finally getting on Twitter. I had about fifteen conversations with people on Twitter explaining my reluctance to get one for all the normal reasons ("everyone just says what they're doing or what they just ate"/"it's just a popularity contest"/"it's just a fad"/"I don't want to be updating it constantly or having people constantly complain about how I haven't updated"/etc.) At the end of each conversation, I'd just say "yeah, I just really don't think I'm gonna get one." After a while, without really thinking about it, I suddenly just went online and got an account, telling myself "well, I just won't be one of those people who updates random crap constantly." At about the same time, a watched a couple other people go through the exact same process - we even had conversations together explaining how we weren't going to get on Twitter, and then we all did.

I think that when a new fad arrives, people need to have those conversations, where they make every excuse and explanation for not getting the new technology until they run out of enthusiasm for having this conversation over and over, and just go get the new whatever-it-is. You see this with people in my parents' generation all the time: they keep explaining how they don't want a cell phone, and won't use a cell phone, and are annoyed by cell phones, and then suddenly, without fanfare, they have a cell phone. You just reach a point where by constantly explaining to everyone else why you don't want something, you end up talking yourself into it.

Now I just need to find a way to exploit this.

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11 Points

I wanted to share my latest discovery - the 11 Points Blog, where a TV writer just makes lists of 11 things. Simple concept, great execution - he does the research to make all the posts funny, which is something I can never find the energy to do, myself. It's like Book Of Ratings before the guy stopped writing and decided to just make a crummy webcam show.

I'm still poking through the archive, but here's a couple posts that are early favorites:
Fantastic internet time-waster.

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Where WILL Amazing Happen This Year?

Alright, now that we've all seen the ads a million times: is the NBA's "Where Will Amazing Happen This Year" ad campaign the greatest series of ads a sports league has ever produced? Is there even anything else in the running?

Also, which one of those ads is the best? Outside of the Celtics ones, I'm partial to Kobe's game-winner, myself.

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