Friday, August 30, 2013
PRECEDED by, I hope, a trip to Skooby's in Hollywood nearby for a hot dog and some of their famous delicious fried potatoes. Do the dance!!!
Man it's hot. I'm tempted to stay at the main office through the afternoon so I don't have to deal with the joke AC at my own office. The air conditioning at my regular office used to work, but in the last half year it hasn't responded much at all. All it does is blow air into the room. That's not good enough!
I sent in trouble tickets twice to get Facilities to come and fix it, and they'd come, and they'd make adjustments, but nothing changes. I may have to get the manager involved. Stay tuned.
I'm so glad to have College Football back. I grant you the issues with recruiting fraud and scandals and what have you, but once you get the kids out onto the field, the passion out there is palpable. Case in point, last night Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, what a game! Both teams really putting 110% out there.
Same deal with Utah State and Utah in an intense rivalry game. Utah State had that game won mid way through but then it was a dog fight. This is just day one! Can't wait for the rest of it.
The plot thickens with soft cookies. Someone had an extra cookie and offered it to me. Chocolate chip -- it as pretty good. I do think the cookie was baked same day, but it was indeed soft.
The hypothesis I've formed: Soft cookies that are fresh are great, but factory made/lessfresh soft cookie aren't as tasty, seems to be holding true so far.
Did Kobe really jump off the 10m diving platform?! That guy is a baller. I made a new years resolution to do the same thing, but I don't think that's going to pan out.
For the record that's now Kobe Bryant and Katherine Webb who now dove off a 10m platform this year. Total bravery, friends.
There are some days where there's not a whole lot on my mind, and this is one of those days.
I'm a little miffed and simultaneously worried about Yelp hotel reviews. Every hotel on Yelp ever has a bad review, and frankly I question the authenticity of said reviews. Nonetheless, my comments on one such outrageous review to my colleagues was out of line and I wish I hadn't posted it.
I GET IT, I should think harder before making a post or writing a tweet etc. I want to think I've been better, but I don't know if I have.
For example, the Sheraton Gateway at LAX where my buddy stayed for a few days. I thought it was fantastic! I did stay there one night... long story behind that one but I didn't want a DUI and taxi fare would have cost about the same. Anyway, the accommodations were terrific. but no! Some joker on Yelp is still going to write his "story."
For whatever reason, I am more trusting of Yelp reviews of restaurants, but even there, you'll get a sob story here and there that feels over the top. It's hard to tell who's telling the truth.
Anyway, this frustration comes from a hotel I booked recently. Extremely good rate via travel sites, but despite the majority of positive reviews, there was one that really seemed nuts. I just hope that my instinct is right and we call that reviewer's bluff.
I've been jonesing for a prime rib dinner lately! That's an expensive craving innt it? Ah well, I'll see how it plays out. I now know of THREE places to get a very good prime rib dinner out here:
Lawry's the Prime Rib: the classic, the tradition, and truly one of the very best.
Taylor's (in Koreatown): A full prime rib dinner for 20 bones, and many of the hardcore diners at Chowhound were down with it. Pretty cool, huh?
Fleming's: I got wind of their 30 bone Sunday/Monday prime rib special. That's a great offer for the price, and Flemings does a great job with all meats, so prime rib is certain to be tremendous.
That's all from here, enjoy your Labor Day weekend!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Like, remember when they came out with a "Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels" game within that SMB All Stars SNES game? It's "The Blog Entry" that time forgot! SMB Lost Levels was the original "SMB 2" but the powers that be at Nintendo thought it was way too hard so they just adopted a different game as the American Super Mario 2. Well, I can't say the same about the 8/22 blog entry: this time I just forgot to actually post the thing, so better late than never.
No I did not meet any girls today nor cut them up into pieces, but thanks for asking! Grins/Adjustsmic.
I write the blog entries for me first, and then for the audience. Sometimes that yields topics nobody reading cares about, but hopefully you all can hang for the ride anyway.
This is a convenient segue to my America's Got Talent recap. Feel free to skip this section (within the asterisks) if AGT does not interest you....
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All right, here's the deal: I thought it was a pretty good show with one BRUTAL first half hour. I liked the effort in that first half hour, but everything within those first 30 minutes was beatable, even my boys Tone the Chiefrocca (B-OO-T-Y). So, it was underwhelming. Major props to Red Panda for coming onto the show on, what was it, like barely 8 hours notice? She had a great effort given the circumstances, but she dropped a bowl while on the 'cycle so it does not appear she'll advance.
I'm keen enough to do a recap of everybody but instead, I'll focus on the TOP Six... ah??? A little crossover in effect, just call me Iverson baby. I posted the BOTTOM six on facebook (facebook.com/daveinthecity). Now, these will have numbers but they're not in order. Here we go.
1. Taylor Williamson: What do you do when you're challenged and put down by Heidi Klum and you're a comic? Hell yeah -- you go right after her! Material about "kid friendly" topics that turned the subject on its ear *and* pushed the FCC envelope. You kidding me?? That was FANTASTIC. Slow start? Yes, but what a HUGE finish.
2. Cami Bradley: One in a series of groups on this list where the *act* supercedes the action. Here's what I mean. Cami Bradley is an amazing singer and arranger. Tonight, though, she took an Elvis Classic "Can't Help Falling in Love" and really twisted it around. Great idea, but the outcome, at least to this mongo, was strange. She really was out there when she got to the bridge... that bridge needs a more consistent cadence. UB40 made it work, but Cami was kinda there but not all the way. BUT... she's so tremendous to me, and her innate talent is going to advance. I'd be shocked if it didn't.
3. Forte: Another such "act supercedes the action" group. I've seen the act backwards and forwards, stand on pedastals in front of spotlights, sing a pop standard, get the guy in the middle to belt out some Placido Style Tenor, women drop panties and throw roses. I know I know, Dave you're such a downer, etc... I thought their vocal performances were pretty good. They're IN... not even a doubt. but me personally? I can't get into it.
4. The Bearded Guitarist Guy (forgot his name): I thought he did great! Taking a Spice Girls song and making it his own (without going too crazy in the manner Cami did) although he came close with his personal "beatbox" peppering the song. It was *different* but I enjoyed it. The crowd enjoyed it. 3 out of the 4 judges enjoyed it. Howard Stern RIPPED it, but I think he ripped his choice of the song more than the actual performance. What I think he objected to was the idea of Bearded Man pandering to a former Spice Girl. I understand Stern completely, but nonetheless, a fun, tremendous job!
5. Catapult Entertainment: Yet another "act supercedes the action" group. Here's the thing. Usually their performance is able to have a beginning, middle, and an end, all within 90 seconds. Tonight, it was all over the place. Stunning imagery, great theater and precision, but, I don't really know what the message/theme/story was. Again, I think they've shown so much great talent that they gotta make it to the next round. Hopefully America makes the right choice.
6. Collins Key: A little long winded tonight... I won't say he's as predictable (not literally but semantically) as Dittleman last year (ooh look! I just created an outcome using an unspoken equation!! Are you not entertained??), but you saw some of the same general ideas from his last act: Get a bunch of lists together, concatenate one outcome, wow the audience with the visual illustration and showmanship. I thought he pulled it off... but as I think either Stern or Mandel said, it would have played out a lot better if he had more time to execute the "predict the date" trick. He's got a great stage presence and some scintillating ideas, though, so I think he ought to make it to the Finals. and good luck w/ that babe he netted from the audience!
Overall, a fun night on #AGT. Hopefully the results play out as predicted. I really would be quite shocked if more than half this list missed out. Honestly, the misses were obvious misses -- borderline semifinalists who didn't really take their act to another level (although Red Panda was on her way if she didn't drop any bowls). The hits were obvious hits, whether from their previous rounds or whatever they did last night. The two that are borderline are *probably* bearded dude and Taylor... I always have a suspicion that comedy is quite subjective and you know how families and soccer moms might vote on that... not that highly. Taking this further, of the six projected finalists... the two that improved upon their performance from the last round are Taylor and Bearded Dude. I firmly believe that. Getting nearly 10,000 people riled up at Radio City is damn near impossible and both of those guys did it.
Get this -- regardless of whether he advances, Taylor Williamson will be at the Hollywood Improv on Friday night. DO THE DANCE! My family will be joining me to check this out. I will be sure to give him a HUGE ovation.
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Quickies, here we go...
At the risk of going spoiler, can you believe what's happening on Breaking Bad??? Well if you aren't sure, go check it out!
Can you believe the Dodgers are about to lose back to back series? It's entirely believable, actually. Teams tend to cool off after going on unprecedented historic winning runs within a season.
I made a tactical error yesterday with my lunch selection. First of all, I was too lazy to prep a peanut butter sandwich. Then, I erred in not showing patience after the breakfast burger that morning -- I ordered a personal pizza and a soda. They were good, but I felt like I could have easily saved the 5 bones. Just didn't feel right, plus it was relatively high calorie food.
I went home, saw coach there watching TV, then I decided not to do a regular dinner. I finished the leftover fruit, ate a peach on top of the pineapple/strawberries/watermelon, and made a pop tart ice cream sandwich w/ just one pop tart in half.
Legs are still sore, and yesterday was nuts... I was like an old man relying on the hand rail to get down stairs... walking with a limp and all that, but it's improved a good deal from yesterday morning. That six mile run though -- worth it.
What would Mitch Hedberg have been like at Radio City Music Hall? We'll never know now. R.I.P. Mitch.
There were death rumors about Jackie Chan? Good lord, what is wrong with people! Seems like a good dude at least.. his movies had that balance of excitement and humor. Some of them were corny but so what?
I'm more prepared for lunch today -- two peanut butter sandwiches. Coffee is expected to compliment this.
Oooh, sad news for swimming fans: Chloe Sutton is moving out of California and into North Carolina. She cited several reasons for moving, primarily the interest in the new coach out there. It's a little bizarre that she so suddenly decided to move across the country. However, I feel like, from a competitive standpoint, her talent plateaued with her recent international performances. She must think this new coach in NC can bring out that much more in her. I wish Chloe the best of luck.
but! Happier news for swimming fans: We now have World Record Elite Swimmer Missy Franklin in the Pac 12. She now swims with Cal, good ole Cal! Out here in LA, that mean's we'll get to see her swim live at UCLA on February 1st. Huge, HUGE moment for those of us on campus. That's a Saturday, by the way, the Saturday before the Super Bowl. It'll be a "super swim meet" all right!
An already defending championship caliber Cal Swim team gets the world's single greatest female swimmer. This is the equivalent to the Dodgers getting Robinson Cano in the offseason. One can say overkill, I'd say it's a great opportunity for an exemplary athlete to show his or her talents on a big stage.
This moment deserves a Coke! Even in the morning. Time to return to the other things, but we'll be back tomorrow. See you then!
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
1. Bengals aka Bungles. You take out Andy Dalton's sup-par QB play and this is an amazing team. Great playmakers like Green on the edges. Great defense, fierce defense, they can do it all. Not only that, but everyone here is relatively young. This is the team to beat, IMHO in the AFC North. It would be a much easier lock if Dalton played better, but this year we'll find out how well he helps the Bungles. Marvin Lewis will hold them back too, but in the regular season it won't be a deal breaker.
2. Steelers. This is going to be tough. Their roster is pretty weak right now, but some improvements at both the O-Line and D-Line over the last two seasons will be a big boost. Last year, or maybe the year before, they got Center David DeCastro. This year, LB Jarvis Jones from Georgia. Bell doesn't look to be playing much in 2013, but QB Ben Roethisberger will pull a few wins out of his butt, so I see an above .500 season, or at worst, about .500, for Pit.
3. Ravens. So many losses in the off season. They lost Boldin, Lewis, Pollard, Reed, and Ellerbe among others. They also lost Dennis Pitta to injury with Hip Surgery. At this point, the only real returning players are Terrell Suggs, QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice. It would be a lot to expect them to win the division outright.
4. Browns. Time after time. Year after Year. It's the worst team in the division. Cleveland has a few things going for them: their defense and special teams are generally pretty good. That's about it. Who would they even attempt to start at QB this year? Wheedon AGAIN? Hoo boy.
Up Next: AFC South Preview!
In case you were wondering, for dinner last night, I got two pieces of chicken, then a pound of pineapple slices, a pound of watermelon pieces, a pound of strawberries, and two gatorade bottles. I would have just gotten both of them with orange but they were out of orange except for one bottle so I got one bottle of orange and one of fruit punch.
I only got through half of the watermelon and half of the pineapple and about 2/3 of the strawberries. that was so good you guys! I loved it.
AGT tonight! I still gotta catch up on Breaking Bad. every episode I miss it's like I dig a 50 foot hole and fall into it, because all the buzz about the show on the internet and the spoilers bury me until I finally watch the episode.
and it's a BIG episode this week I hear! Time to catch up.
That's all from here. Til tomorrow!
Sunday, August 25, 2013
I'll remember to get plenty of water before and after the run, and also to stretch before running. It won't be easy but I really feel like I can pull it off. I've done about this distance in swimming before, so the cardio is there. I've also run 3 miles at various times, so as long as conditions aren't abysmal I have a chance!
It was wonderful to spend time with my family this entire weekend. It was quite an extensive visit this time around, but I didn't mind.
There's nothing more precious, unrelated comment, than seeing a newborn baby and her happy mother for the first time. Isn't it just wonderful? The little one ready for life and the mother so proud, although probably exasperated from all the labor. I love it. Those moments are so tender that I almost cry.
The coolest thing about any child's birth is that little blanket they use! It's the same one! When my little sister was born over 20 years ago, they gave her that little white blanket with the pink and blue stripes to keep her warm. Today, they use the same pink and blue striped blanket! Not only the longevity wins, but its ubiquity does too. My family has had a long tradition of that white blanket with the pink and blue stripes, but I bet you when my buddy "Bread" in Brooklyn was born way back in the mid 90s (hahahahahaaha, I don't actually know what year it was but he's a youngin'), they probably put him in the same blanket.
It's so very cool...
All these tweets about Miley Cyrus. What did she do??
I'll tell ya... in Santa Barbara, at the Harbor, there's a lesser known bar known as the "Endless Summer Bar/Care." You wouldn't believe how good the fish is there. I ordered a Salmon sandwich. The sandwich is finely broiled over a flame, well seasoned, and served on a lightly toasted buttered cibatta roll. It was the meal of the week, my friends. Just impressive! The fries that came with it weren't bad either. I didn't want to insult the greatness of the salmon filet by adding the supplied tartar sauce, so I used the tartar sauce instead for fries. Yum.
Did you know you can take a "water taxi" boat from the Harbor to the Wharf for only four bones? If you're going yourself or with a buddy, that's tremendous value each way for a picturesque ride in the harbor's waters. Santa Barbara is KING my friends.
That's all from here. More to come tomorrow. See you all soon!
Thursday, August 22, 2013
I've been dragging my feet to do these AFC Previews, but we're about two weeks from NFL season so it must be done. The AFC, total, is a few good teams and a whole lot of rubble. The NFC was more fun to preview because of all the potential and upside, but it's also true that we'll see potential and upside in the AFC, just not as much.
The AFC East, in particular has very little to no upside across the board. Even the division favorite Patriots incurred some serious losses this year. We need not speak of what happened to Aaron Hernandez, one tight end, and it doesn't look good for Rob Gronkowski, another tight end, in the early going. Interestingly, the Wide Receivers on the team, overall, might be as good or better than a year ago. I tend to agree with others that the loss of Wes Welker might be overblown. Did Welker make Brady's offense or was it the other way around? I side with the latter.
To replace Welker, the Patriots signed FA Danny Amendola, a terrific receiver in his own right from the St. Louis Rams. Ultimately, the offense should be at a level similar to where they were a year ago. It's also hands down the best overall offense in the East. The defense has been slowly drafting better, and I think you could even say run defense is not terrible. Coaching is excellent under Bill Belechick's hand. This looks like a Patriots kind of year again. Here's a quick look at the other teams.
Jets. I figure, as far as Geno Smith for QB, you might as well try it out. Let Sanchez start a few games and then transition to Smith depending on how the year goes. The Defense looked awful a year ago, but I think this year, they got a bit of a boost with draft picks Milliner and Richardson. For the Bills, they got burned badly with the huge contract they gave to Mario Williams. Adding to the frustration, their QB Draft Pick E.J. Manuel of Florida State is hurt and will miss the preseason. I don't really know *what* they do well, honestly. Maybe nothing. The Dolphins are said to be a team on the rise and I agree with them. Wallace is a much needed playmaker for their offense and Ryan Tannehill has the peripherals to become a pretty good quarterback. Here's our predictions for the East in 2013:
1. Patriots. The Pats are reminding me of the Atlanta Braves lately in that their division title is sitting on a table just waiting for them. When you look at who they compete against, there's no reason to think differently this year. Brady and co. operate an efficient, pass heavy offense that still hasn't been defeated consistently, ALTHOUGH it tends to thrive most against weaker teams. Defense is still a problem, but the expected 4 wins they'll get from their division will lay a groundwork for a solid 10+ win season. As long as Brady is healthy and well protected, he'll be reliable.
2. Dolphins. Yes! I'm buying into the hype. Good talent with this offense with Mike Wallace on the field. Wallace is a speedy player with good hands, as we saw in Pittsburgh. Tannehill ought to have an 80+ QB rating, Defense might be all right for Miami. One setback for the Dolphins is Dustin Keller's leg injury which wipes him out for the season.
3. Jets. I don't think the defense is getting enough credit. It doesn't have the name brand value that it used to, but NY should be all right with Milliner taking Revis' place at CB. The Jets might still be in some of these games so just expecting them to finish 2-14 is silly. Jets are good for at least 6 wins, but they won't have much say in the division due to their weak offense. IF Geno Smith pans out, they might surprise some folks around the NFL, but it's too early to declare that outcome now. One other guy to watch... Guard Willie Colon... he has NEVER been reliably healthy during most of his Steeler career. If he can play all 16 games this year, I salute him, because he's pretty good otherwise.
4. Bills. This franchise continues to time and time again not get it. First they sign a borderline quarterback to big money, said quarterback hits the tank, and their next move is a desperation draft of E.J. Manuel who wasn't even that good in *college.* Regardless of Manuel's health you have to wonder who's pulling the strings in Buffalo. Their defense was pretty brutal, their OFFENSE was especially brutal. Everything about the Bills is brutal this year. Last place.
Up next! AFC North Preview.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
I am going to try to do the entire blog entry today using dictation tools from my galaxy s4. This is actually a pretty cool phone because it does much better job with my voice then the old one did. It does mean that there are going to be some errors and some typos. But it seems to be a lot more efficient. carriage return
So! Let's talk about America's Got Talent from last night. Let's face it this show was brutal! I mean you had two kiddie dance acts 1 choir doing a song I already had acquired in it and then some other random this delete backspace delete come on he he! Carriage return carriage return enter
I think I got the new paragraph! Anyway the point of all that was it was not involving last night. Even the Domino's guy was not that exciting although in his case it was because he didn't have enough time to really plan out a spectacular performance. You only get 19 excuse me I need 90 seconds to do your act and thats not long enough for a guy with his engineering expertise to plan out something amazing. Oh well, the other thing was I just felt like nothing really struggled the edge nothing really put me on the edge of my seat on America's Got Talent last night. Even the supposedly def excuse me death defying act that one up on the really tall pole he got it from the top of the pool but then she just went down like a sweet! Excuse me, that word was pole and the other word was swing. Any rate I just didn't think there was much there tonight or last night I should say on America's Got Talent and it was just very disappointing.
Am i right let's move on to some cookies no I meant quickies! Onward dot dot dot
Big win for the Dodgers actually. It was big for them to win because they needed to keep themselves from getting along losing streak. Anyway I like the fact they fought back I got the win even against a bad team wife the Marlins.
Alright so the other thing I had on my mind was this thing about calamari. I was at Enterprise Fish Company last night for happy hour and I tried their spicy calamari. The only thing is it was just the regular calamari with jalapenos in it! From that perspective it was a little disappointing, because I was really expecting the whole thing to be spicy down to the sauce but no! It was just regular calamari with a few jalapenos on the top. So good! But a little misleading on the menu.
Paragraph s our little bit tricky on the dictation tool. It's because I'm trying to set up the
So I try to say the word carriage return and instead it is right out the word paragraph in quotations. That is a hoot!
My buddy get your own show had a real zinger tonight -- he said maybe America did not have that much talent tonight! Hahahahahahahaha.
I'm really enjoying this particular blog entry tonight. The reason is because I'm in bed writing this and I'm too lazy to get the computer to type it myself. This will become very useful for days when I'm either too lazy to write or I'm too sick to go get the computer. My s4 is doing wonderful things for me!
One of my friends, we call her Meredith, went to a place called the counter last night and little did she know that it is a chain here in Los Angeles. But! They are in fact expanding and they've been expanding all over. The place she was that was one of the locations in NorCal. Pretty darn cool! Great to see that the counter is expanding your horizons the other parts of the country. She had the burger with the pretzel bun last night and I thought that was a asterisk great asterisk decision. Nothing like the counter to make one evening.
Would you believe one of my neighbors went to see Taylor Swift last night? That's pretty cosmic! Because I was thinking of maybe I'll go see it but then to see your neighbor go and not to mention Express a glowing open Yin of the concert was pretty remarkable. Taylor Swift truly is popular here in LA. N honestly her concert was pretty good. But my neighbor said its the second best concert he has been to in his life! Now that is strong praise for the young country singer. I believe he said his first favorite concert ever was Bruce Springsteen.
I think on Monday I drove by a Church's Chicken. I am intrigued by this place. In fact one of my buddies told me that churches chicken is really good fried chicken. Its not that surprising that I can't find one nearby. With that said, I hope that eventually I will find my way into one. That kind of chicken is hard to pass up. Next paragraph
My sister was at the Grove also on Monday I believe. As you probably know, this is where they tape the extra TV show. So dash my sister tweets that she saw Mario Lopez. She acted really surprised but she shouldn't have been because like he is on the extra program everyday hehe.
Oh I know people love to levy the chance smiley on me. Remind I know what comes with the territory. Actually the sentence was: I don't mind.. I know that comes with the territory.
Well this experiment comes to an end. I think I'll just go back to the regular way tomorrow but it was nice to give my fingers arrest for a change. Till Thursday!
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
First of all, this is going to be very competitive. At the top, two teams that already hate each other: 49ers and Seahawks. Great defenses both, pretty good offenses both. Potential to run the football, both. Mobile quarterbacks both.
In essence, the division comes down to those two teams, so we'll run it down quickly this time. Here are my 2013 West Rankings:
1. Seahawks. They're the most overhyped team in the division, but believe the hype. This defense is really good. Now this is preseason but there was a game the other night between them and Denver at home where the Hawks took a fumble at the goal line and returned it all the way across for a Seahawk touchdown. The Seattle fans went bananas... takeaways. Never count out the Hawks from a game because of their ability to force turnovers. That's a very quick defensive team so you always have to be on your toes against them. I expect the Seahawks to win all 8 games at home, but even 7 would be about right. Russell Wilson, if they LET HIM PLAY will be great for them. I can't say whether they'll be able to overcome Harvin's injury early on, but I would feel confident about it. Ball control is key for Seattle, and I think if they limit their own turnovers they're in great shape. They're also hungry. Top to bottom, I'd consider them the superior team over SF.
2. 49ers. Two key areas where the Niners have an advantage over Seattle: experience at key positions and coaching. Harbaugh is pretty damn good. He took an abysmal team and made them into a super bowl team with most of the same players! As for experience, you're looking at veterans like RB Frank Gore, assuming good health, then LB Patrick Willis and LB Navorro Bowman, among others. Now I mentioned that Seattle is "hungry" but that doesn't mean the Niners just want to coast and play 75% effort this season. All it means is that the Seahawks will have that much more potential, and only by a little. The 49ers are still a very capable football team. Games between SF and SEA are going to be tremendous. The reason I pick the Niners to finish second is primarily due to the predicted wear and tear from the previous year and the prospect of injuries. Crabtree is already out 4-5 months. Willis is nursing a fractured hand but will start Week 1. Chris Culliver is out for the year due to a torn ACL.
3. Rams. The Rams wind up playing some good defense. Good pass rushers like Long and Quinn, but offensively they're missing two of their most productive players. Both RB Steven Jackson and WR Danny Amendola found greener pastures with other teams as FA's. It sounds like the Rams are going to attempt to replace them with middle of the road scraps and rookies. This team has a long way to go to be a playoff team.
4. Cardinals. I don't want to waste any time breaking down these jokers. Point is, their defense *could* be good but it's worthless when you can't put up points yourself. I need not speak more of their offense... Palmer, who they picked up, is washed up. Mendenhall, who I know well from the Steelers, is just waiting to get hurt again. I'm not into it. The Cards might win some games, actually, but they'll need a lot of help i.e. takeaways. In fact, I think their secondary might fall off due to the losses of four players from a year ago.
Coming up... the AFC East Preview!
I'd never do it if my lady friend did not convince me to go, so we went. And it was pretty good! I can't say she was all that great musically, but she was a tremendous *performer*. She knew her audience and she even employed about two dozen (it felt like) dancers to choreograph some of her songs. She went through costume changes and set changes and everything... very visual show last night at Staples Center.
A lot of jokers can sound great in the studio and be a joke on stage, but Swift was pretty consistent both ways. My only complaint, as it always has been, was her limited vocal range. It might be two octaves, maybe one and a half. BUT, she honestly was on last night as was her backing band.
Bands will go on stage, and everyone on the band steps up to the front and has their moment. Generally, when a single performer goes on stage the backing band is just that -- the backup. So most of them just stayed behind her and once in a while their lead guitarist would roll out some solos up front.
Swift really has a way with connecting with her audience, which, I admit, is primarily teenage girls. But hear me out! There were some adult babes in the crowd too!
Whole lot of families last night. I think that part's pretty cool. The only thing is -- NO ENCORE?!?! Everybody in music does an encore... Prince did like 6 or 7 encores once. I was absolutely *shocked* to see no encore in the concert last night.
So, a good night, an impromptu one, and now on to quickies...
An open message to the people at Fleming's: can you calm down with the prices of desserts? For goodness sake, a slice of dessert pie does *not* cost 13 bones... not now, not ever, and not on any planet. That was a total ripoff. I thought *maybe* they'd provide two slices worth or something but no! It's a pie that would cost about $3.50 at any bakery. Unbelievable.
MLB Media, you got your wish. You wanted to bring down Puig and take him off the radar, well, 0 for 11. YOU GOT YOUR WISH. Jokers.
It is true what they say... when it's your team you get more sensitive about it than when it's other teams. Puig DOES make bonehead plays... he does take too many risks, but he's also a rookie. People are acting like he's killing the team's season. People, there wouldn't *BE* a season without Puig! All of the baseball traditionalists need to calm down.
Zone bars look like granola bars, and they taste like granola bars, but they're apparently super energy bars. If an energy bar tastes like a granola bar, that's a pretty good bar.
I remember having a Power Bar many many years ago, about the Early 90s, during a tennis tournament, and man it was like eating paper pulp out of a wrapper. It was weird.
Francesa and Russo used to spread lavish praise for this old Cop show called "Kojak." Then they'd go out and compare other TV shows and ask if they were "Kojak Good." The other day I finally got to see what the Kojak show *was.* Well it was pretty good!
But it's tremendously hokey... that was the 70's par for the course. I challenge anyone to find a 70's TV show that doesn't have at least a few grins/adjustsmic moments an episode. "Kotter" was full of 'em. "The Brady Bunch" was 30 minutes of grinning and adjusting mics. I mean we're talking "S.W.A.T.," "Rockford Files," "Wonder Woman," "The Love Boat," and on and on and on. The only one that wasn't, over all those years was "Barney Miller." Barney Miller happens to be one of my favorite all time TV shows.
Anyway, going back to "Kojak," it's a bald middle age guy trying to be a bad-ass saying snappy lines and fighting crime in New York. It was certainly entertaining, a little cheeky and over the top too.
That's all from here! As Fun. says: carry on! ...til tomorrow.
Monday, August 19, 2013
The South had long been the division of parity from its inception in 2002. For nearly a decade, no team won the division in back to back years. Later on, the Saints and Falcons emerged as the teams to beat.
Last year, the Falcons won the division and had a bye in the Divisional Round. Then, Atlanta went on to the NFC Championship game and built a good lead on the 49ers, only to blow the game in the 2nd half and miss the Super Bowl.
While the Falcons had the best record in the NFL that year, three other teams were either rebounding or rebuilding. Tampa Bay saw the emergence of Doug Martin, their Fantasy Phenom RB. Carolina was treated to a good second season from Cam Newton and company. The TEAM wasn't too hot, only improving one game from 6-10 to 7-9, but the offense still had flashes of brilliance.
Then there were the woebegone Saints, hit hard by suspensions and other trauma. They spent the entire season without Sean Payton, their Head Coach. The Saints had a brutal start but rebounded with wins in 5 of 6 games between October and November. But let's face it, I didn't think they were that good *and* Drew Brees had an off year. He really was throwing interceptions all over the place. Even at that, the Saints had a better second half than first half last year.
SO... we have 2013. I bet you a lot of people are going to take the Saints with Payton and Brees as the two supporting arguments. These are very good supporting arguments, but the defense is in transition. I won't comment a whole lot on their receivers i.e. Graham, Colston, Moore, and RB Pierre Thomas. All of these guys are pretty good and no one guy is really that much better than another except *maybe* Graham last year for Fantasy owners. All of it feeds off of Brees and the O-Line which I still think can keep a game together. The defense is just not that good. Vilma and Fujita are back and some other keepers like Malcom Jenkins. The defense has familiar players, but let's face it, last year the D was terrible. They gave up over *7000* total yards in 2012, and the only change coaching wise will be the change in coordinators from Spagnolo to Rob Ryan.
Here's the rub on Ryan. He's not very good. He seems to leave a lot of openings downfield, but he has the "Ryan" family name so he always winds up hired someplace. The best he did, in his last five years, was the job he had last year at Dallas. I'm not even sure if that was so great.
I also think the hype about Sean Payton coming back is really overrated. I *do* thin Payton is a great coach, but having a good clipboard won't fix the massive issues the Saints have defensively. It might win some games in the regular season but against the big teams they could get torched. Be that as it may, the Saints may have the most experienced team and most proven quarterback in the division. That will be enough to make the favorite among NFL experts.
Here's the rest of the division in a nutshell:
Panthers: Again, their defense was a sieve last year. It's a fun to watch team with some great skill players, but you're also talking about an aging offense. Newton is the youngest guy on this side of the ball but WR Steve Smith is 34, TE Greg Olsen is 28 (not *that* old but hardly a spring chicken), and RB DeAngelo Williams is 30. 30 is usually the turning point for running backs. Precipitous decline in production from age 30 on for most RB's. Panthers defense is said to be better this year, more aggressive even with new rookie DT Star Loutulelei of Utah. I'll take the wait and see approach with Carolina, but they got a ways to go to improve from 7-9... it does seem to have 9 or 10 win potential though.
Falcons: Atlanta took some losses in the off season including TE Tony Gonzalez' retirement, then Michael Turner's departure (no real loss), and John Abraham's loss to FA. The Falcons counter with a calculated gamble getting the often injured Steven Jackson for RB, then Osi Umenyiora for the defense. Osi is an often injured guy too! At DB, the guys to watch are Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, both acquired by draft. Actually, if you think about it, the moves defensively were badly needed as it was time to start getting younger. I just don't like how questionable the backfield is going to be for them offensively. Head Coach Mike Smith will have a very interesting, but exciting preseason. Let's not forget about their more dependable players -- QB Matt Ryan and WR Roddy White. Remember, I said *more* dependable, not always "dependable."
Bucs: Would you believe it? This team is starting to accumulate talent! Good thing too because I do NOT like Head Coach Greg Schiano and his bully act. Schiano is not going to elevate TB to wins, but their talent is good enough to win numerous games this season. First it's Josh Freeman who I think can be pretty steady, and makes some nice throws. Nothing stupendous per se, but solid production. For instance, 4065 passing yards last year and an 81 QB rating. Doug Martin dazzled in the backfield, and Vincent Jackson, if he stays healthy, *could* be Pro-Bowler for 'em this year.
The South is a tough division to predict every year, but for 2013, we'll rank them this way:
1. Saints. Reluctantly, I select New Orleans to win the division this year, despite my ongoing issues with their weak defense and the overvalued move of Payton's return. I grant you that coaches can make dramatic improvements with a team, but the Saints just looked lost out there last year and I don't know *how* Payton is going to do much to improve Brees horrendous INT numbers from a year ago. Despite all that, the teams below them are capable but in my view not ready for prime time so I have the Saints taking the division with, we believe, a 10-6 record.
2. Bucs. There's not only some upside with the Bucs, but some dependable players offensively. Vincent Jackson was the Chargers' best receiver for several years, and today, again if he stays on the field, he'll be helpful to Tampa Bay. Freeman is not going to take you over the top alone, but similar to Matt Ryan he's a guy that can lead you to points when he's *on.* 4000 yards, even in today's NFL is a pretty good season so there's a lot to look forward to with all Offensive Back positions. Then there's Martin, he'll be very good. It all depends on what the defense will bear and what we get from O-Line pass protection.
3. Falcons. The enormous number of losses the Falcons took in the offseason is going to kill them, and replacing important positions with *two* guys who nobody can count on to stay healthy is going to do them in. I would not be surprised to see these guys finish under .500 but officially they'll go 8-8.
4. Panthers. I know a lot has been talked about them, but I feel like they're still not ready for prime time. Some of those guys they're using are old. I'm looking forward to seeing them make a run at .500 though, it's quite possible.
Coming up, the NFC West preview!
Sunday, August 18, 2013
I can sense a lot of baseball traditionalists resent Puig because he's got a little punk attitude in him. Well, I'm not a fan of punks either but the kid is still so young. We'll see if he can shake it off, but in the meanwhile his talent is incredible. He makes dumb decisions, but the kid can really hit a baseball. He can also really throw a baseball and really catch a baseball. Usually if you can hit a baseball, throw a baseball, and catch a baseball, you can play baseball.
So it turns out they *do* have an open mic night at the Hollywood Improv. Observe: http://hollywood.improv.com/show.cfm?id=260644
You don't even have to register, you go into the building, put your name on paper into a hat, and sit there to see if you get called up. Then you can riff for 3 minutes. You don't even need to pay for a ticket or buy any drinks. Imagine that??
I had a very low action weekend. All I did was stay at home for the most part, except for my brief trip to WeHo to get the tickets for the Taylor Williamson concert in about two weeks. I also tried to go to the Original Tommy's on Beverly/Rampart, but the jokers who designed streets here didn't connect Melrose to Rampart Blvd. at all!
Lesson learned, get down to Beverly Blvd. sooner. Sunday was just laundry and a 2.5 hour nap, even though I got in a full 8 last night. I'm happy to be caught up in sleep, but it was a bore of a weekend. No news is good news though.
Here's another thumbs up to Vons/Safeway/Pavilions fried chicken! Had it again yesterday and it was tremendous! Way to go!
That's all from here. Enjoy your Monday!
Friday, August 16, 2013
Junk Man, if you're out there reading this, talk to me, fella. Once your phone dropped out on the switchboard, I was at a loss. I felt bad about not having a chance to do our Random Questions spot last week on the podcast.
I don't have a huge itinerary next week, but let's catch up.
Long blog entries are too long. I was a little perturbed about the length of some of these entries too. Didn't mean to go so long w/ some of the blog posts. I get really fed up with long movies, long baseball games, long football games, long bloated rock albums, long doesn't do it for me either.
Short is better. Short stack, short stop, Martin Short, hey! It all works.
SWEEP! SWEEP! SWEEP!!!! #sctvreference
He's still funny. I'm serious.
Happy Trails Charlie Manuel, you head hunting, snake of an oaf. One Ric Flair reference wasn't enough to win me over. You and Brett Myers can eat it. Onward to you both.
Phillies have some good fans. This isn't really so much about them. It's more about the arrogance of their team during their salad years. And that joke of a short porch at Citizens Bank Park. I also like the cheesesteak sandwiches. And *yes* most of my resentment stems from how the Phils dominated the Dodgers in the 08-09 League Championship Series. Thankfully it's all in the past.
The Phillies though, douchiness aside, were one of the great MLB teams of all time. It may have just been jealousy on my part all those years. For a couple of years the lineup they had was a lineup I'd put up against anybody. Even the 70's Reds or the 90's Indians. Kojak good.
One of my friends told me he was in town and he found a Yum Yum Donuts as he was driving around. I am *pumped.*
I was thinking of doing one of those Open Mic nights. I gotta go out and close the mic, we don't want a spillage.
That's all today. Have a great weekend everyone!
Edit: OI!!!!!!!!!!! *JUNE* 16th? Holy mackerel, I meant August.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
...one more thing though. A Happy Birthday to my buddy Ron in NJ, who we call "Benson" or "Beebs." Funny poster, really good with College Football and the NHL. Hope it's a good one Beebs!
We'll see you tomorrow night!
I like steaks of any geometry: strip steak, cubed steak, steak balls, round steak, you name it.
I did not have a good night of eating for my health. Father's Office Burger w/ a lady friend in their second location over near Culver. Fries with that. An apple cider, alcoholic this time. Then I came home and Coach in very uncharacteristic fashion broke out the cookies. He never eats cookies but he needed to get rid of them after one of his lady friends brought some over. So we finished the remaining cookies -- there weren't very many. Some ice cream in the mix. Then I added in a Cactus Cooler.
I was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. I really need to calm down and eat healthier. Oy vey, I ate like a mongo last night.
The internet last night was worthless to 'em. I'm paying to use this???? THIS IS HIGH SPEED INTERNET?! --channeling Franceser.
The Big Ten is notorious these days for having no offense. The Big 12 is notorious for no defense. Imagine if you combined them?
Forget the brooms, Capuano is pitching. We'll settle for the dustbuster.
What a ride for the Dodgers though, huh? Can you imagine they're playing this well? I'm thrilled to be watching it!
Any time I watch a good comic performance, such as one I saw last night on America's Got Talent, I'm suddenly driven to go on the computer and write a bunch of inane one line sentences. Know what I mean?
Remember when Charlie Sheen thought he was winning?
My computer is not winning. If it poops on me like this during tonight's College Football podcast I'm going to be *very* upset. Computer, Internet, get with the program. 'til then, enjoy your Wednesday!
and make sure to eat your cookies.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
We covered the East last week, now to the North.
This is not a difficult preview to write. It's the Packers and the Packers' division alone to lose. Here's the problem, Green Bay is suffering injury after injury. They lost their left tackle already, they lost Jordy Nelson for multiple weeks (possibly into the regular season), THEN we saw this on Wednesday:
McCarthy-RB Eddie Lacy was held out of practice because of his hamstring, not been given indication it's going to be long-term.
UH OH. The Packers were really going to put many of their chips onto Lacy's stock. Poor kid is injured *already.* The Packers hope for him to be healthy by opening night.
Now then, for the team overall, I think this is, even with all the injuries, going to be very competitive. The bottom line is *RODGERS* is healthy and motivated. As long as QB Aaron Rodgers is in the offense, the Packers are going to be a pretty good team.
There were definite problems with their defense last year, especially with DB's, but there might be some action at DB this year. Sam Shields is a big candidate to take one of the spots. Tramon Williams is in the thick of things as well. D-line is good not great... Coach and I agreed that BJ Raji is overrated. LB is pretty good with Matthews the most notable name.
The Pack have lost a lot at receiver... Jennings also left to go to Minnesota. You can almost count on Jermichael Finely getting hurt again, but I'm told TE depth is better this year. All of this is trivial compared to Rodgers. If Rodgers is healthy, he'll elevate *any* receivers he has around him to good production.
So despite the defensive question marks and the many losses offensively I like GB to take the division. May not be by a whole lot this year, but 11 wins is quite probable.
On to the rest of the division.
Bears: I don't get the hype with these guys. They're just miserable at finishing a 3rd down conversion or a big passing play. Most of this occurred after Cutler's injury, and up until then he was playing great. I'm going to presume a full season from Jay Cutler... if he gets enough help from the O-line I like his chances. However, the Bears haven't had a good O-line in ages. Skill positions are set with Brandon Marshall (WR), Matt Forte (RB), and Marcellus Bennett (TE). Now the principal issue I have with Chicago is the defense. Urlacher retired.. the rest of that defense looks thin to me... injuries left and right. It's going to take some time to rebuild it to *me.* The Bears also have a new coach after Lovie Smith was (finally?) fired last season. Marc Trestman is now their head coach. Jury's out on him for his rookie season, we'll see.
Lions: The Lions made some pretty tangible improvements this year. We knew that Jason Hanson was already so old and unreliable... after last year he called it quits. His replacement is a pretty good gamble: David Akers. Also new on the team is RB Reggie Bush, some role players, and two safeties: Chris Hope and Glover Quinn. Lions' DB was by far the worst unit of the entire NFC last year, and change of any kind is great, but Quinn might be a sneaky good move for Detroit. The Lions knew they had major issues and give 'em credit -- they assessed their liabilities head on.
Vikes: Oi. I know they got Greg Jennings. I know they *have* Adrian Peterson. Ponder is awful. Whatever skill players you get -- it all goes to pot if Ponder and his wimpy 8 yard throws is going to turn the ball over. Defensively, they might be all right, but the Vikings are BRUTAL team to watch, even still. They made the 'offs last year, remarkably. I'm not convinced they go over .500 this time.
So, with the North I have these rankings for 2013:
1. Packers -- They need to do a way better job covering passes downfield and running the ball, but at least there are signs they can improve both.
2. Lions -- tangible improvement at DB plus Reggie Bush for the "change of pace" back are going to pay off for Detroit. It's still an overrated, tough to root for, club, but they have plenty and I mean PLENTY of talent to compete for a wild card.
3. Bears -- I still don't get it. An already old defense gets even weaker and Cutler's going to be a "?" for health. They'll get schooled every time against the Packers too, as so happened last few years.
4. Vikes -- No way. Even with last year's playoff run to commemorate, I see very little from Minnesota unless Peterson runs for 2000 yards.
Coming up later on.. the NFC South preview!
Monday, August 12, 2013
Would have been a good story, ah well! My bad, folks.
Fellas... PLEASE listen to John and Mike from last night's Dave podcast. We not only broke down the PGA Championship but Mike and John both let loose some *hilarious* rants about the Golf Media. You gotta hear it! Here's the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/daveinthecity/2013/08/13/pga-championship-golf-recap-w-john-and-mike-08-12-13
I was pumped enough after last night's show to drink a second Cactus Cooler, and I know how bad those are for my health. Ah well, it was worth it.
I temporarily switched to Pop Tarts for breakfast. This week it's the unfrosted strawberry Pop Tarts. I can dig it... I don't feel like I'll do this permanently but so far so good.
Much easier to prepare two Pop Tarts than two peanuts butter sandwiches. Takes a load of guesswork out doesn't it?
I'm beat... back to the coffee for me. Have a good morning everyone.
Let me get this out of the way, forgive the #allaboutme scenario:
A guy once asked why I don't do all the nicknames with the -ies at the name. Basically the nickname scenario is a system. It all is predicated on how I would say it out loud, so it would have to roll off the tongue in actual conversation.
Thus, a fella like Gamble17 is just Gamble. Which is the first category of Vid nicknames: One Name Scenario.
There's a bunch in this category: Unclever, IDEAR, Mistress, etc. "Gambs" doesn't really click so I abandoned it.
Then there's the -s scenario. Checks, Ooms, Jabes, Beebs, etc. You add in an "s" in there somewhere.
Then there's a few where I take it a step further and do -sies. Capsies, Yotsies, Popesies. It's a feel thing w/ the Vid Nickname system.
Then there's that occasional fourth category of names that have nothing to do with the rules whatsoever: Scooter, Clueless (Dupp developed this one), Mortsies, P-Tone, and so on.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Coach had a lady friend over on Sunday while I was out, and when I got back I was formally introduced. Anyway, we're chatting about the weekend and I start getting into how a Train concert experience is different from a Roger Daltrey concert experience and I said "it's Apples and Oranges, really." THEN, Coach says "Speaking of apples and oranges..."
First of all, that is a *great* segue, and I said to him "Wow, that's a great Dave style segue!" I see my style of speak is rubbing off on him since I moved here to Santa Monica.
Anyway, he goes on and says "speaking of apples and oranges, I hope you don't mind me giving two of your peaches to my lady friend. I owe you two peaches."
I said "Oh, no! I think that's great! I'm very happy to spread the joy of peaches." Then I asked the lady friend what she thought of them and she thought the peaches were fantastic. Folks, I was PUMPED. We are getting the word out about peach season.
Coach was telling the lady friend "I always see Dave eating peaches, he eats two or three peaches a day." And my response was "Oh yeah, it's peach season! You should have seen it earlier in the week, the fruit drawer in the refrigerator was *stuffed* to the brim with peaches." It was great. We all got a kick out of the peaches.
It's been an eventful weekend. I will admit, however, that Orange County, as beautiful and hassle free as it is, doesn't have nearly as many things to do as the LA Metro. The beaches, harbors, and people: gorgeous. But as for attractions and restaurants, that list is much smaller. The ones they have are tremendous, though. In particular I was introduced to the Irvine Amphiteater aka the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater which I thought was *awesome.* Lots to tell, so much so that I'm writing this a full day early and putting off the "Breaking Bad" premiere to write this entry, so pull up a chair and climb aboard for an extra long blog today.
All right, so first of all, the impetus for the trip to OC was a two fold: I wanted to give Coach a chance to entertain a friend visiting from out of town (see above), and further, I decided to, for the first time, give our neighboring county an in depth look. I'm more than familiar with Anaheim/Placentia/Fullerton from my years and years of visiting relatives and going to Disneyland and Angels games. In that foray, an entire southern half of the county was overlooked. This past weekend, we had the USMS Summer Nationals Meet at Mission Viejo's Nadadores Aquatic Center and many of my Masters team mates were competing. So, it was killing two birds with one stone and *finally* making a weekend trip to explore and enjoy what was out there.
This actually yielded a third opportunity I hadn't thought of until I left home: the OC Fair. To summarize, it was just a larger Ventura County fair. I have to be honest, I wasn't impressed. Even the big amphitheater had acts about on par with whatever VC did. Musical concerts and that thing.
The trip to the Irvine Amphitheater was a complete surprise. I didn't even know there *was* a Train concert until I drove up the freeway and passed the marquee. The sign said "Tonight -- Train w/ Gavin DeGraw and The Script." So I didn't think much of it until I got to Mission Viejo Nadadores (MVN for short) to watch my friends at the meet.
It was good to catch up with everyone from the swim club on Day 1. Honestly, the meet was fantastic to us all. My only regret is that I didn't swim it myself. Huge mistake. I assumed for years that if I didn't meet the listed qualifying times I had no shot at swimming. It's just not true -- once I looked it up, it said that people not meeting qualifiers still can swim but would only get to do three races. Ha! I really blew it -- that would have been a lot of fun to swim. MVN is a great pool, and its trained numerous olympians over the years. Not just swimmers, but divers as well. Lots of my mates swam really well here, and one such swimmer was a story onto itself. I think I'll save that story for tomorrow since this entry is already going to be so enormous as it is. She did a FANTASTIC job in her only race of the day. I'll explain the deets on the Tuesday Daveblog.
*Anyway*, while all of this was in action, I went on Stubhub on my phone to see what the ticket prices were for Train/DeGraw/Script. Holy hell, they were going for 30 bones. I was like "That *can't* be right... even has-beens get double that ticket price, and I'm getting three acts with hits *ON* today's music charts for 30?" Well, I had to jump on that one, friends. I drove over to a nearby FedEx office to print out the ticket and we were ready to roll. To be fair, the ticket price was 40 bones after fees, but I later found out that includes the price of parking, so it was a virtual bargain.
So I was at the meet for the entire day, then I left around 6pm to go to the Irvine Amphitheater. For those keeping score, I got an approved day off in order to venture into town that day. Getting to the Amphitheater was a struggle. Office parks and windy roads. I took the wrong exit and I didn't have a dock installed for my phone yet, so it was a struggle. To compound it, the phone was already down to 5% battery life as I used it a ton that day, so navigation tools were limited. I was early enough where it wasn't a major problem, but it was annoying.
Traffic, I'm proud to say, was *not* an issue. This is the single area where OC (especially the area around Irvine) owns it over Los Angeles. Friday evening traffic for a big concert featuring 20,000 fans? Traffic was A-OK. Loved that part.
So I get to the concert and it's my first trip to the Irvine Amphitheater after years of speculating about going there for concerts. I wind up going when it's a concert that was fully unplanned, good times. It takes a while to get from the car to your seat. There's a long walkway just to get to the gate. Then another one to get to the seating bowl. Then you find your seat in this massive circular out-door theater. At this theater, two video screens flank the proscenium to offer closeups and such. Train added a few other electronic displays which were used once they did their set.
I was burned a few times in the past for going to a concert, then waiting about half an hour after the posted start time before anybody played music. Weird Al concerts are pretty miserable at starting on time. There's a pretty tangible reason for this: they don't have an opening act. For at least the last 15 years it's just them and that's it. In fact, my first concert was Weird Al, so I was really thrown off when I went to see a concert of someone else. The "opening act" went on all those years ago and I said "The heck is this? They have a concert before the concert?" Today, I'm rather happy to have warmup acts just as they do in comedy shows.
I was awed too by the venue. It is enormous. I thought the Amphitheater was a one or two thousand seat venue, but I was told later it seats up to 20,000+ people. WOW! I thought to myself, how are they going to fill up all these seats? but they did! It just took a while.
We were about 30-40% full when Gavin DeGraw's band started their set, which ran an hour solid. They hit the stage at 5 after 7pm, the listed start time. Tremendous job by the concert staff to get that going right away. The stadium filled up about half way through Gavin's set... I had no idea that Gavin DeGraw had so many recognizable songs. He was a fun listen.
Next to the stage... the Script, coming off that huge hit "Hall of Fame" on the radio. Here's something I didn't know about the Script until I saw them live: these guys are a bunch of jokers. I love it! Their knack for interacting with the crowd is amazing. They're hilarious when they converse between songs. You get the frontman who does occasional keys, the bald guy who plays lead guitar, the big dude for bass, and I think some other guy for synths. They're all from Dublin, Ireland. and THESE guys, actually went up to the crowd and asked if they could borrow a girl's cell phone and have her dial her ex first. So she did and they were doing this whole breakup song while they were on the phone. There's no way to know whether the guy actually was on the phone sitting through all this but the whole thing was a hoot.
The practical jokes I was seeing from the Script was a pleasant surprise. There were a couple other earlier hits they did (it jogged my memory as they played them). Then it all led up to the big finish, their live version of "Hall of Fame." Surprisingly the crowd didn't pick up on the song earlier, because they had a low-key intro and the chord progression was definitely recognizable but it wasn't until the keyboard guy did his opening riff that everyone went bananas. It was *great.* The Script was also on for an hour solid.
We had intermissions between these acts and a third one before Train started their show. Once the lights dimmed and the opening montage started (it was a loud audio clip of a train leaving the station) the place went nuts and I mean NUTS. You saw all this stage smoke and lights behind that, it looked like a train was coming up onto the stage from behind, a great effect.
Then the lead singer steps out of the smoke, huge ovation, and he starts with "Calling All Angels." Obvious synergy with this song and Orange County, since the Angels used the same song before every Angels Baseball game at the ballpark. I don't know if he always opens with "Calling All Angels" or if he specifically started with it for the OC, but whatever, it was a stroke of brilliance.
Train knows how to play the crowd. Really fun concert, with special effects, electronic displays, and everything. Over the 15 years he's done music, he built up a pretty good catalog of fan favorites and I believe he covered all of them. I was fascinated by all the covers he did too... he had a Beatles medley, a medley of other random songs covering everything from Macklemore to Bob Marley, and he also brought in Country Singer Ashley Monroe to do a song they collaborated on. Afterward, Monroe performed one of her own songs with the Train singer on backup vocals.
THEN, after an already raucous night of enjoyable songs and other entertainment, Train said farewell... then we had the whole ruse of them leaving, stage going dark, etc. etc., lots of cheers, and THEN the encore. We've seen the whole encore process. Most of the same elements in effect here. Pretty good encore. A few down-tempo songs and one other big hit he had. Already a tremendous night, Train didn't stop there. He brought out Gavin DeGraw, the Script and Ashley Monroe for *all of them* to sing a rendition of a song from The Band: "The Weight." WOW. That's all I gotta say, folks. It was impressive and really really enjoyable.
...a concert that came completely from nowhere! One other observation I had about Train that I'll share with you:
The lead singer said "Four years ago we were at the House of Blues in LA and we only had 500 people show up. You've really been great!" That's really great to see the Irvine crowd give him such a big boost. To be fair, a big chunk of the crowd drove in from LA too (including me obviously by way of SM). The point is, it seemed to me, as it did to Train, that the crowd was simply electric. Honestly I was in awe of it too... everybody was really into it that night, singing along, doing the dance, reciting all the lyrics. Amazing. I think if you go back those four years, I recall somewhat that the "Hey Soul Sister" song hadn't hit the chart yet, so indeed Train was in a lull. You want to talk about a comeback, here it is.
It was a rare moment where everything hit spot on. I was privileged to be in attendance. I mean ok, it's not "Hot August Night" with Neil Diamond per se, but in my limited inventory of concert experiences, we're looking at top three for sure.
There's nothing in life like those pleasant surprises. I went into the weekend not knowing of the concert at all, yet, it became the highlight of my weekend.
I went to one other concert the next night, the legendary Roger Daltrey of "The Who." It was, in my eyes "The Who over Two" i.e. Half of the current-day Group without Peter Townshend, but as the concert unfolded, I realized it was much more than that! Into the evening, Daltrey introduced the band and we he said everyone on stage is the same touring band that travels with formal "The Who" concerts. That *included* the guy filling in for Townshend on guitar, and he happened to be Pete Townshend's younger brother. I tell ya, man, he even looked and sounded like Pete on stage. It was a sight to see for sure.
This concert, which unfolded the night after, took place at a venue called Pacific Amphitheater within the confines of the OC Fair. There were a few things which were disappointing about the concert, none of them had to do with Daltry himself, oh man, THAT guy's still got it! He hit all the notes, still brought such great energy, and it was an honor to be in the same zip code with the guy. Nah, the disappointing elements were...
-- The fact that Ray Manzarek couldn't be with him. I found out just before arriving that the concert was originally a duo of Daltrey and the Doors' Keyboardist, which would have simply made my evening. It made my evening as it was, but it really hit home how much we miss Manzarek here in California. Dude was so great. Manzarek died a few months ago.
-- No sellout. I mean, you're talking about 90% of the modern-day Who on stage. They performed nearly all the biggest songs of their career. They put in a pretty damn-good performance, and ticket prices were not expensive at all. I got mine even cheaper than the Train concert! All that, and the best they could do was draw 75% attendance?
-- The opening act... it was a small low-fi group called "The Steven Roth Band." NOBODY had heard of them. People next to me were asking me "Who is this guy? Did you catch the name?" I said "Steven Roth, I might have to google it to make sure" only to see him say right after I said that "My name's Steven Roth, hope you're having a good time tonight." I don't think Roth's band was really that bad, just underwhelming. It wasn't really the kind of act that usually would precede a group like Daltrey and most of the Who but I'm told Daltrey himself selected him. Roth's group is also a locally based band. Listen, I could go to the Music Department at UCLA and grab a few guys to make a band too, that doesn't mean we'll resonate w/ the crowd. I felt bad for Roth... he tried to stage a singalong with one of his songs and *nobody* sang along. He even said sarcastically "Great Energy!" These guys did the best they could, but it was a coffee house group playing an arena crowd... it did not appear to be a great match. One of the guys was on drum, yes, literally ONE drum. I hope they manage ok though and eventually hit the chart. They have good heart, for certain.
-- Crowd energy, or lack thereof, but this was to be expected. It's an older crowd, plus you're looking at a concert within a county fair. It would have been tough to get serious energy with this setup. For a while it reminded me of that gag from "This is Spinal Tap" where the Tap hit rock bottom and did a small show at Magic Mountain and the little sign said "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap." Hahahahahahahahahahaahaha.
The crowd had its moments. I thought it responded great with Squeeze Box, Pinball Wizard, Who Are You, etc. Daltrey went outside the box too, and he relished all those moments. Always cool to see artists draw from their other inspirations. He did a pretty good Johnny Cash medley that I would not have anticipated. Once he got to "Ring of Fire," we got going. All in all a pretty good concert which simply needed a better venue and opening act.
I don't know if it's Fair policy or something, but it seemed like Daltrey's group couldn't do a proper encore... they did a pseudo encore where the band left the stage but Daltrey only went half way out and came back again. Then he got a Ukelele and tried to do an encore song with the Keyboard guy adding textures. I don't know if he meant to do this or what, but the whole song fell apart, and Daltrey forgot words, and he just gave up and said "G'nite!" Then the OC Fair kicked all of us out. It was 11pm by then.
Now on to the other things from the weekend.
I was driving around one of the nights and had Jack FM on. It was an 80's Flashback weekend, so all 80's songs. During the drive I thought "I bet you they play either a Genesis song or Phil Collins during the drive!" THE VERY NEXT SONG was a Genesis song! How cosmic was that??? Do the dance!
Concerts are a deceptively great place to meet women. I can't say I met anyone specifically but I was chatting with people here and there at the two concerts I was at. I should have been more assertive talking to others in the crowd during intermissions. There was a babe (an absolute babe, like a no-doubter home run of a babe with the blond hair and all that) at the Train concert with her mom. They were a couple seats over. I wasn't thinking. Just absorbing the moment, but those two were chatting up the couple between me and them in the same row. Boy that just reminds me what a fun night it was. Really really great. Groups of ladies in pockets all over the stadium. Then, during the concert, they sent out balloons and we were bouncing balloons all over the place. During the Train set, they threw all sorts of beach balls at us. Dodger Stadium was a clear inspiration for that night.
The Newport Beach Brewing Company has fantastic in-house beer. I was there and tried a Newport Steam. Seriously, that beer rocked the socks.
Laventina's Pizza. I went there on the recommendation of a friend. I was hoping the sauce would deliver more than it did, but it was otherwise a solid pizza. Loved the crust, and the pizza was so cheap too! 6 bones for a medium 12"? 8 bones for a large? No wonder it's a big hit with the college crowd there.
Balboa Village so somewhere in between the big concerts and the swim meet I found time to go to Balboa Village somewhere on the Newport Beach peninsula. Small neighborhood but classic streets and shops, the whole thing. It also was bordering a harbor which was really fun to enjoy. On the other end, which bordered the ocean (very small peninsula we're talking about), was Balboa Pier. Gorgeous. Unheralded and unpublicized, but gorgeous. The ocean water was extra blue that day. Many others were fishing and we had people on the beach having a good time. Families and singles and all sorts of beautiful people. That was a good time.
Wouldn't you know? Balboa Pier is also the home of the very first Ruby's Diner which opened there 31 years ago. I could have sampled some history and had lunch there, but I still was able to visit the place and check out the building. Classic Building. Ruby's is a 40's themed diner (exceedingly rare anyplace.. many places tried to do the 50's and 60's). It also had these bullhorn loudspeakers playing 40's music for everyone to hear outside while they fished and soaked in the rays. They have an outdoor patio at Ruby's, indoor booths, AND rooftop seating no less. What a place!
Can you believe what the Dodgers did this weekend? I mean that is incredible! 6 run comeback, unbeknownst to me until after the fact when I saw comments about it online. Then another win, THEN another one against Tampa Bay. It's been such a joyful ride for the Dodgers. Who knows where it ends, but I'm just so glad they're playing this well today.
I have to admit, for all the love I've said of Orange County, I ran out of things to do after a while. There weren't enough original restaurants or other attractions to sustain more than a couple days. That's not all bad, it just means there's limited value for the tourist aside from Disneyland and such. It seems like a tremendous place to live and the OC is huge USC country. Lots of love for SC out there, and I can dig that, friends.
Whew! At any rate, more to come from this writer's pen tomorrow. Have a good Monday, everyone.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
This is tough huh? Dunkin does the donuts more traditionally, but I still would vote Krispy Kreme. I could also do some sugar free donuts. By that I mean, they make the donuts but DONT put the glaze on them. You can ask for that... surprisingly good!
So yea, I go KK... but it wouldn't be an instant decision!
This is it! The weekend is soon to be upon us. Friday: I go to Mission Viejo for the first time but make a stop at Ham 'n Scram for the famous breakfast burrito: it's out in Westminster. Then on to Summer Nationals where I'll cheer on my mates.
That COULD go all the way to 6pm, but it depends on if I hang around to watch all the distance heats. I may... a bunch of our team mates are doing the 800m Free at the end of the day. Say it does, then that gives me night time to go HAM in Newport Beach, maybe pick up some Laventina's Big Cheese Pizza in Newport Beach, watch the sunset, and then check out the local bars if there are any.
Day #2, Saturday. This time, my stop is at Paul's Coffee Shop in Fountain Valley. You remember the place... it was a rollickin' good time with the enormous Chicken Fried Steak. COULD go with that again but I might be leaning toward the big boy sausage breakfast instead. I like the look of their waffles, but I'm worried that they won't be crispy enough to enjoy. I love Paul's. Cozy place, yea it's a little old, but a lot of regs, and a pretty good staff too. I hope the Guy Fieri jinx doesn't hit them too badly. Then, back to Mission Viejo to see if there's any other juice at Masters. THIS time I may just see a few races, then run out to a nearby sports bar to watch. In fact I'm told Mutt Lynch's is pretty darn good! Worth a look. THEN if there's time, I'll scope out the OC County Fair in nearby Costa Mesa.
That's a pretty good summary of the weekend. Not sure if I go back to see more of the swim meet on Day #3, but it's a likely scenario.
It's always a struggle not to have my own grins/adjustmic moment, but at least today I want to keep that cheekiness to a minimum. Nothing annoys me more than those who ham for the camera. I'll do my part to avoid it.
When I'm walking around and a group is about to take a picture, I try to dodge the field of view. I don't want to be in a stranger's pictures! If I was behind them though, I'd offer to take the picture.
I now know what the mind-blown smiley was designed for! Who knew? Actually, I had an idea of it, but I wasn't absolutely sure until someone confirmed it yesterday.
I still remember two years ago when the Giants were rolling and I posted the status update: "Giants: Can they be stopped?" Then they tanked. Hahahahahahahaahahahahaha, that was a good moment for Dodger fans!
I hope the Dodgers don't tank like that. We'll see and enjoy the remainder of the season. As Dodger Thoughts' Jon Weisman said... if you get a good run, enjoy the meal... don't be asking for that waffle on top!
If I want waffles, Paul's in Fountain Valley can hook me up. Have a great weekend folks! Won't be on board for a blog entry tomorrow.