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Another Tuesday means another day of new music on the iTunes Music Store. So as I'm downloading Kanye West's new release, Late Registration, I thought I'd update American Idol fans on past competitor's efforts currently available on the Store.

Available today as a pre-release, the Lauryn Hill sound-alike (Randy Jackson's words, not mine) Camile Velasco offers up her debut single "Hangin On". The 30 second preview doesn't sound too bad, but that's probably because the 80s remake is a familiar tune. "And what's more importantly", no signs of the wristband on the album cover.

Prior to the Velasco release, Latoya London's "Appreciate" was the most recent Idol-alum debut. Despite a nice get on a guest verse from The Roots' Black Thought, the preview sounds like the 2000's formulaic R&B. That doesn't mean it can't be good, but there's only so much room in a shopping cart.

Outside of the compilations from the show, the following is a list of AI alums on iTunes:
  • Bo Bice - Inside Your Heaven (Single)
  • Camile Velasco - Hangin On (Single)
  • Carmen Rasmussen - Photograph (Single)
  • Carrie Underwood - Inside Your Heaven (Single)
  • Clay Aiken - Measure of a Man (Album); Merry Christmas with Love (Album)
  • Constantine Maroulis - Pray for the Soul of Betty (Album)
  • Diana Degarmo - Blue Skies (Album)
  • Fantasia - Free Yourself (Album)
  • George Huff - My Christmas (EP)
  • Josh Gracin - Josh Gracin (Album); Stay With Me (Single)
  • Justin Guarini - Justin Guarini (Album)
  • Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway (Album); Thankful (Album)
  • Kimberly Locke - One Love (Album)
  • Latoya London - Appreciate (Single)
  • Ruben Studdard - Soulful (Single); I Need An Angel (Single)
  • Tamyra Gray - The Dreamer (Album)
  • William Hung - Inspiration (Album); Hung for the Holidays (Album); We Are the Champions (EP)
I think that's it. Sorry, no Jon Peter Lewis. Yet.

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My Man Oates

On the way back from the Hall & Oates concert last night, everyone was wondering how John Oates manages to squeeze his moniker into the name of the greatest rock duo ever. Shouldn't it just be Hall, the greatest rock solo ever?

Not so fast. From Behind The Music, The Daryl Hall and John Oates Collection:
Hall & Oates' partnership flourishes in spite - or perhaps because - of the differences between them. "I'm a strong starter and John's a strong finisher," Hall explained to Behind The Music. "He's very meticulous, I'm conceptual. I see the big picture, he sees the details. I'm an optimist, I think he's basically a pessimist." Or as John Oates told the show, "We didn't have a lot in common on the personal side. Other than music."
Concert highlights:
  • Opening song: Maneater
  • MJ exploded when they played her fave Rich Girl, which was H&O's 1st #1 in 1977
  • I liked the 3 song sequence of She's Gone, Sara Smile and I Can't Go For That
  • Says here opening act Todd Rundgren (find Hello It's Me remix on iTunes) produced H&O's early albums
  • Concert closes with cover of Love Train

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I'll Vouch For That


Bird Seed

So T.O.'s first preseason reception of the '05 season achieved the same result as his first preseason reception in '04. Both were touchdowns on the first play from scrimmage. No surprise to see the fans erupt with excitement, but this one didn't. Its a bummer to realize that an Eagle wideout is most likely going to dominate opponents all season long without generating a peep of enthusiasm from this fan.

Sheldon Brown on the Eagles D: We're going to be barking all season long.

Moats or Buck? Traditional thought says a change of pace back best complements a starting tailback. If you got the Bus, you send out Amos Zeroue on occasion. If your starting RB is Tiki Barber, you spell him with Charles Way. With the loss of between-the-tackles runner Correll Buckhalter (again), the Eagles are comfortable moving Ryan Moats up the depth chart to back up starter Brian Westbrook. It will be interesting to see how spelling an elusive back with incredible quickness with another of similar traits pans out. Could this approach possibly work better for the Birds O? The biggest change might be an increase in touchdown passes for Donovan McNabb, since the Eagles won't have an inside runner to rely on inside the 5.

I've got Bengals Chad Johnson and Carson Palmer in how many fantasy leagues again? Thankfully Cincy was on the Eagles schedule last year.

Could Koy Detmer's job be in jeopardy? Andy Hall's been in the system long enough that Koy's "understanding of the offense" might not hold as much merit as it used to. And with Detmer's arm-strength lacking compared to Hall, I wonder if the Eagles would consider the younger QB. We'll get to see a lot of new Eagle Mike McMahon at quarterback next week, and I think its safe to say he'll be the Birds top option to back up ol' number 5 going into the season.



Weekend Reading II

Articles from around the web...



The Hinge

Following the completion of this evening's fantasy football draft, I realize the promise of my BlazeNet Football League version of Gang Green hinges on the same player that my Kegger Krew Football League version of Gang Green does: Arizona Cardinals rookie running back J.J. Arrington.

I had Arrington ranked 21st overall at his position for several reasons: 1) An aging Cardinals running back proved he was still a diamond during a solid fantasy season a year ago; 2) The Card's offense should be better than last year's thanks to Anquan Boldin's complete return of health, Larry Fitzgerald's year of experience, and the addition of veteran QB Kurt Warner; 3) An improved offense should translate to more sustained drives and an increase in scoring chances. Therefore, I nabbed "The Hinge" in the 4th round in each draft (38th overall in BFL and 37th overall in KKL) to complement my first round pick in each case, Ravens' running back Jamal Lewis.

Here's the problem: I know absolutely nothing at all about J.J. Arrington. Seems like I should...
  • He was born in 1983. That year, rookie RB Eric Dickerson led the NFL in rushing yards. E.D. ran for the Los Angeles Rams who moved to St. Louis in 1995. STL was vacated by the Cardinals franchise which moved to Arizona (originally Phoenix) in 1988. J.J. runs for the Cardinals - full circle... what a start!

  • As a 2nd round pick, Arrington was the 4th back selected in this year's draft. Hmmm... Clinton Portis was a 2nd round pick 3 years ago selected behind William Green (1st back taken!), T.J. Duckett and Deshaun Foster, becoming an immediate fantasy sensation. Arrington the next Portis? I like it!

  • In 2004, the Cal product scored 15 TDs which exacted the Arizona Cardinals' combined total of 15 TDs from its entire backfield.

  • It's a decade thing... 1975 was the only season Jim Otis ran for over 1,000 yards for the Cardinals, 1985 was the only season Stump Mitchell ran for 1,000 plus yards for the Cards and 1995 was the only season Garrison Hearst broke 1,000 for Arizona. The leagues I have J.J. in aren't keepers, so, sweet!

  • What do the geniuses at Scouts, Inc. have to say in the Fantasy Football Preview edition of ESPN the Magazine? "Think Warrick Dunn without all those annoying MRIs. Should thrive in Arizona's three-wide sets." Did they have to use the word thrive? At least they have him ranked 30th among RBs.
With the forthcoming season in the balance, things sound promising for "The Hinge." Here's to J.J. supplying the dynamite to an explosive '05 for Gang Green.



Thanks Coach

64 consecutive starts at quarterback. More than 3500 passing yards in each of the past 4 NFL seasons. 118 career touchdowns scored. Still, 7-year NFL veteran Aaron Brooks calls plays from a wrist coach.

If a professional as consistent and effective as Brooks is getting a little help, why shouldn't the rest of us? It's time to repurpose the Wrist Coach as a friendly assistant to players of all games. Truck Drivers could view driving directions through Coach's window. Taco Bell taco artists could stick recipes in there. The President could have "nuclear" spelled phonetically on his. Ashlee Simpson's lyrics could be right there on her wrist!

Of course, as a Web Designer, I think I would go with the Hexadecimal HTML Color Codes on mine. Or else Photoshop keyboard shortcuts. (Thankfully I have an extra Wrist Coach in the closet since my Flag Football teammates banned it from the next Frenzy.)

Aaron Brooks has taught us a valuable lesson: Don't be afraid to ask for a little help. The Wrist Coach... It's not just for quarterbacks anymore!



Weekend Reading


FFL: Poker For Picks Draft Blog

The Poker For Picks Fantasy Football League just completed it's inaugural draft. The ESPN Draft Room was very well done and ran smoothly. Here's how things went down:

6:58 - Gang Green has entered the draft.
7:03 - Yours truly gets off to a pathetic trash-talking start by dragging Jerry's poor kids into the Live Chat.
7:10 - Mr. Texas Hold'em himself enters the draft room... Flood Gates, you're on the clock!
7:15 - Josh busts on Eagles fans for the first time.
7:31 - Mr. Sparkle reports Puff the Magic WR goes 3rd, thought to be a little high.
7:39 - Cowboy fans should not be allowed to take ol' #5!
7:43 - Black and Gold finally enters the draft to see 3 QBs on its roster. Nothing else.
7:47 - I just took Michael Clayton without knowing his relation to current Ravens WR Mark Clayton or former Dolphins WR Mark Clayton... so much for background checks.
7:55 - Late 5th and early 6th round value picks Bennett, Barlow, Arrington... which will hit a homerun?
7:58 - Do I take the NFL's most overrated Q (Favre) or FFL's most overrated Q (Vick)? Hopefully Vick transforms himself into a fantasy stud... New Mexico?
8:13 - Finally grabbed a TE. Heath Miller is Green!
8:19 - With the 100th pick in the draft, Helmet Head's select Cedric Benson
8:27 - Flood just took Reggie Williams and I thought "good pick." Draft must be winding down. (Actually I do like Williams, he's a monster.)
8:36 - Bills Defense is drafted. Projected to be a top 5 D, they're selected in Round 13.
8:42 - I just took the TE I was going to take in round 9 in round 14. I like when stuff like that happens.
8:49 - Marshall Faulk is the 151st pick in the draft... my how the mighty have fallen. Could be a solid flex pick if he plays a lot of receiver.
8:56 - Ricky Williams is the 164th pick in the draft... my how the mighty have fallen.
9:03 - I think I'm experiencing my first bug... with only 1 more pick to make.

10 teams, 18 rounds, only 1.5 hours of actual draft time logged. Efficient.

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A Morning for the Dogs

I was greeted at work this morning with the following voice mail message left by a voice best described as the female version of Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite:
Dude, I heard you kickin' my dog.
I see you walkin' down the road, I see you kickin' my dog.
You kick my dog again, I will rip your (expletive) heart out and feed it to my dog, okay?
So don't kick my dog no more.
That's it, word for word. I must admit I was a bit alarmed. After all, this is no way to do business. She didn't leave a name or number! I need to call this person back so that she realizes the dude kickin' her dog didn't receive the message and would unfairly have his heart ripped out and fed to said dog since the threat failed to reach it's intended audience.

For the record, I don't kick dogs. I pet dogs. Peace.



The King

Elvis Presley died 28 years ago today at Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. Labeled "a hero to most" by poet Chuck D in 1989, he was better known as the undisputed King of Rock & Roll. In his honor, I present the top Kings of the last 28 years:

5. Bernard King
A rookie the year Elvis died, Bernard faced many of the same pitfalls Presley did. Plus he had knee problems. But he came back strong in the late 80's as a member of the Washington Bullets. As seen on HTS, he averaged 28 points per game in the '90/'91 season and made the All-Star team at age 35.

4. Burger King
While it might be #3 were it not for the Chicken Fries, Burger King makes the list powered by the most dominant breakfast menu in the fast-food game.

3. King Kong Bundy
This 450 pound mammoth made it worth staying up late to watch Saturday Night's Main Event. He missed an opportunity to become WWF Heavyweight Champion when he lost to Hulk Hogan in a Steel Cage during Wrestlemania 2. He may have jumped the shark a year later when he wrestled midgets.

2. King James
The most unbelievable NBA story over the last handful of seasons is that Lebron James lived up to and even surpassed the hype and expectations he faced when entering the league. Forget Carmelo and D-Wade last season, he was rookie-of-the-year hands down. And King James was my '05 midseason MVP, he would have given Nash and Diesel a run for their money if the Cavs season didn't go in the tank following the All-Star break.

1. Kings of Rock
I'm the King of Rock/ there is none higher/ Sucker MCs should call me sire/ To burn my kingdom/ you must use fire/ and I won't stop rockin' 'till I retire.
Run D.M.C. holds down the top spot. Jam Master Jay, Run and Darryl McDaniels formed the first hardcore rap trio. Since their 1983 debut, D.M.C. lost his voice, Jam Master Jay lost his life and Run became Reverend Run (check out his "Mind on the Road" single in iTunes).

Honorable Mention: Carole King, Stephen King, Larry King Live, King Britt, King of Prussia Mall

Worst of the Rest
  • King of the Hill: Impressive run, but who watches?
  • King Rice: UNC PG never hit the pros
  • The King Harley Race: Stop wrestling old man!
  • Don King: Daily Show rants were kooky
  • Stacy King: 6th overall pick in '89 = bust
  • King Tee: My Word Up magazine lied, he was never rap's hypest MC
  • Rodney King: It's not like he planned it, but his catch-phrase may very well be corniest ever
  • King of Beers, Budweiser: Poison!
  • King of Pop: I'm still a fan of his music, but is now better known as Wacko Jacko



Casual Fan Warning

As a full-fledged Eagles fan, my Birds-pack includes watching every preseason game in its entirety. Unlike a certain WR, I am committed to this team and plan to honor that contract by checking out the '05 preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But I must warn the less committed, this could very well be the most annoying football broadcast ever!

Usually a Monday Night Football game guarantees the announcing team of Al Michaels and John Madden. Well, tonight for some reason, the game will be on ESPN, which means we'll have to endure the three-headed monster known as MikePatrick, Joe Theisman and Paul Maguire. Unlike Madden, who usually sticks to the on-field activity, these three schmucks will be dwelling on the T.O. drama all night long.

You'll hear about the sit-ups. You'll get to know Drew Rosenhaus. They'll even probably mention Rush Lame-baugh's recent comments that he'd like to combine his wealth of football knowledge and effective "people skills" to unite these once dominant teammates. And when they take a break from Owens, Hines Ward's contract holdout will most likely become the topic.

I just reviewed my contract... thankfully I didn't see anything prohibiting the use of the mute button.


Vote For Pedro

Caught 2 movies this weekend - Super Size Me and Napoleon Dynamite.

Super Size Me wasn't much of a surprise. I've kind of been figuring lately that since fast-food commercials (ranch-tooth is the latest) are more and more resembling 90's beer ads, there must be more to this stuff than the general lack of nutrition. I can dig most of the guy's points. And I also dig the creative way documentaries like this are put together. Will I still find myself in line at the Taco Bell next week? Si.

Napoleon Dynamite got a play just so I would understand the t-shirts. Is the merchandise better than the movie? You decide.



Sloppy Joes

Paying close attention to the KNBR flap, Travis sent me the following email earlier today:
Good article on the situation...
Click here for article
For the most part, I dug the article. Then I logged onto CBS Sportsline for some numbers and replied:
Best line:

"Folks, could we possibly de-escalate the rhetoric? We'll have nothing left if genuine tragedy strikes."

Worst line:

"He might come back with an insight about how something other than lack of intelligence might account for some of those kids, when grown up, hacking at slop nightly."
Isn't he basically making the same claim Krueger did, minus the "brain-dead" part? There are currently (as of games played before August 11th) 11 free-swingers with 100 or more strikeouts. With the exception of Canadian Bay, all of these slop-hackers are Americans.

1 Adam Dunn CIN LF 122
2 Richie Sexson SEA 1B 122
3 Brad B. Wilkerson WAS CF 114
4 Pat Burrell PHI LF 112
5 Mark Bellhorn BOS 2B 109
6 Preston Wilson WAS CF 107
7 Jason Bay PIT LF 104
8 Brandon Inge DET 103
9 Troy Glaus ARI 3B 101
10 Eric Chavez OAK 3B 100
11 Jim Edmonds STL CF 100

I know it can be argued whether this stat alone is indicative of undisciplined bat-swinging. Just throwing some relevant numbers out there since many people will probably agree with the non-inflammatory parts of the guy's original point. I'm not buying it. I'll buy "baseball players hack at slop nightly."

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A Season Without Slim

"That's right. Even the fans in Philadelphia call him Todd Stinkston."

That was sort of the quote Michael Irvin delivered last season on Inside the NFL. It seems like the only thing consistent about Todd Pinkston's game is that he's caught the ire of NFL talking heads and football fans, especially Eagle fans. Here's why:

  1. At 6'4", Slim weighs 170 lbs. soaking wet
  2. He was manhandled by the Panthers in the Eagles 3rd consecutive NFC Championship game loss
  3. He avoided contact from lurking DBs twice on deep passes during consecutive games late last season
So this season they will get their wish. Todd Pinkston tore his achille's tendon and will miss the entire '05 campaign. Greg Lewis will man his starting wide receiver position opposite Terrell Owens and just might open the season as the Philly fan's offensive darling.

And while I think Lewis is the perfect replacement and will hold his own, I just don't agree with the notion that he will outperform Todd Pinkston. Pinkston's averaged roughly 700 yards and 4 TD's per season over the last 4 years. He's averaged 16 yards per catch or more during the past 2 seasons, leading the Birds in that category for the past 3 years.

Similar numbers are attainable by Greg Lewis, but surpassing them will be difficult. Like Pinkston, Lewis should succeed in playing the role of stretching the field with deep passing routes. But the bulk of the Eagles offensive action occurs 15 yards from scrimmage and in, which takes advantage of the team's more talented offensive weapons. Basically, the number of targets the Eagles number 2 receiver gets each game is dictated by that position within the Eagles' scheme, rather than the wideout playing that position.

So even when Greg Lewis becomes a fan favorite in '05, I won't forget the plays that Todd Pinkston has made over the years. Slim came up big in one of the most amazing victories in Philly sports history, catching 7 balls for 95 yards and 1 TD in the "4th and 26" win over Green Bay in the '03 playoffs. Pinkston caught balls from Koy Detmer and AJ Feely for 94 yards and a score on Monday Night Football against the 49ers, helping to ease the anxiety Philly fans faced following Donovan McNabb's 2002 ankle injury. And while it was unfortunate that he left the game 2 quarters early due to leg cramps, Todd Pinkston was putting together a monster Super Bowl against "a good bunch" last season with 4 catches for 82 yards in the first half.

I look forward to Slim stretching the field again next season, unless the analysts and fans get their way.

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I'll Vouch For That

Colgate 360 Toothbrush
The unique tongue cleaner (which I say doubles as an inside-the-mouth scraper), the special bristle design, the soft polishing cups... I'll vouch for that.

Chips Ahoy! Chewy Snack 'N Seal
It's the old "why didn't they think of that sooner?" It's a convenient, stay fresh package... I'll vouch for that.
See Snack 'N Seal in action



Scouts (St)Inc.

I received my latest ESPN the Magazine on Friday... turned out to be both its Fantasy Football Preview and Summer X Games Preview issue. Pop quiz: Which of these previews will deliver better draft results for your Fantasy Football team? Answer: Neither.

After quickly flipping through the Magazine (I usually just skip straight to the last page to see the photoshopped image), I thought it might make more sense from a fantasy perspective for me to dig up last year's Fantasy Football Preview issue. Their '04 Crib Sheet blurb reads:

"... That's where we come in. We asked the geniuses at Scouts, Inc. to ID the latest trends, the biggest sleepers and the big names most likely to take a bigger fall..."

Let's review some of the Scouts, Inc. geniuses' highlights:

  • #4 QB Matt Hasselbeck, "a top-five fantasy passer in contract year. Ka-ching!"
    -He finished 12th overall among QBs and scored more than 160 points fewer than top 2 QBs. Ka-ching!

  • #6 QB Steve McNair, "great fantasy production and you can trust him to stay on the field."
    -Oops. McNair finished 31st among QBs because he played in less than half of his team's games due to injury.

  • #15 QB Jake Delhomme, "Repeat after us: Carolina's a running team."
    -The Panther QB finished as the 7th ranked QB and attempted 36 more passes than Peyton Manning.

And those are just the Quarterbacks. Sure there were some predictions that landed in the vacinity of reality. For the most part, I would say the geniuses were around 50-50 in terms of accuracy. For example, their "Good to Go?" column on injured players most likely to come back: Rich Gannon (no), Warrick Dunn (yes), Willis McGahee (yes), Charles Rogers (no) and Dallas Clark (somewhere in between).

The bottom line is, there really is not an exact science to projecting the fantasy football success of NFL players. And to make the claims that some publications and web sites do, well it's Merrill Hoge-like (ESPN NFL analyst who predicted that the Eagles wouldn't make the playoffs last year). Their rankings are no more worthy than mine or yours and its proof that "the plan" is more important than "the players" in the world of fantasy sports.

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Logo Synergy (an exercise in external linking)

The Braves are actually on TBS tonight playing the Reds in the rubber-match of a three game set. It’s a close game and sure there are subplots, but I’m focused on Cincy’s logo. Disappointing to finally realize the Reds’ “C” shares the same font as the Chicago Bears’ “C”. I know a handful of Reds fans. And I know a few Bears fans. But I don’t know a Reds AND Bears fan… so why the logo synergy? Clearly, there are fonts out there worthy enough to represent these franchises. And while I doubt the Reds will beat the Braves tonight, Cincy did beat the biting Bears to the punch by sporting this logo more than 60 years prior to Chi-town.

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Blah, Blah, Blog

I've wanted to start a blog for some time now and I'm finally giving it a shot. I don't expect much of what I have to say to be very useful or worthwhile, hence the title. But I do look forward to getting some of my thoughts, ideas and opinions on line to kick around with my friends and family, so here goes...

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