In-House Notes

I did a bit of housecleaning on the blog tonight. In addition to returning to my original PressRow theme, I’ve decided that it’s finally time to pay a little attention to my links over on the right hand side of the page. I had a few links in there that didn’t work anymore, and I haven’t watched Ask A Ninja in at least ten months or so. I’ll be updating these links over the course of the next few days — I try to keep them relevant and useful, and then I usually stop paying attention to them after a few days and then we go a year without updating them, so I’ll see how long I’m able to keep it up this time. I’ve added a few of my daily reads (Kottke) and finally freshened up my Artists list, which is basically a compilation of the artists I really, really love and will continue to love no matter what kind of records they release in the future.

I’m also about to undergo my second phase of bringing back all my old blog posts dating back to 2001. This is a major undertaking and thus I’ve been taking it a bit at a time, but I want to get the archive out of my Gmail account and into a place where they are, at the very least, legible. They will be available as always via the drop down archive selector on the sidebar.

Everyone have a good weekend. I can’t guarantee I’ll be posting much original content through the weekend, because it’s going to be a busy one. Take care.

Chuck Bartowski On Flickr

Chuck Bartowski is the lead character from the upcoming NBC show Chuck, and he’s got a Flickr account. He’s also got a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and an account on every other social network in the entire internets.

I totally dig this kind of marketing, and I’m hyped about the show. NBC looks to have a very strong lineup of new shows, including Life, Bionic Woman and Journeyman in addition to Heroes and The Office.

New Music Wrapup

I used to do this a lot, but haven’t in quite some time, so I thought I would take a moment to wrap up some of the new music I’ve been listening to lately. There’s a few whole records in here as well as a few singles; it’s basically a mish-mash of stuff.

KANYE WEST — GRADUATION

Kanye West -- Graduation

Yeah, it’s good. Over the next month or so, you’ll no doubt be inundated with praise for this record, and deservedly so. I’m a fan of Kanye’s, and the last two records have been really, really good, but they’ve fallen short of the “classic” tag that he do desperately seeks. Graduation, however, will most likely be remembered as a classic and one of the best rap albums of this decade. Kanye has always been a great producer, but he’s really outdone himself on this one, seamlessly blending techno punches with brilliant samples from all manner of artists. Coldplay’s Chris Martin makes an appearance on Homecoming, but the highlight of the album, for me at least,  is easily “Champion”. This is Kanye’s most soulful album and probably the benchmark of his career.

ROBBIE SEAY BAND — GIVE YOURSELF AWAY

Speaking of benchmark albums: Robbie is a longtime friend of mine, but even that friendship makes no difference on how amazing his second national release is. This is easily the best Christian-market album I’ve heard in the past ten years; every single song on the record is chock-full of incredible hooks and layer upon layer of goodness. Whereas his first album was made for driving to the beach in the middle of summer, Give Yourself Away is made for any time and season, and it makes you want to sing out loud.

CAEDMONS CALL — OVERDRESSED

Caedmons Call would have to be classified as my all-time favorite band, but the past few years haven’t been kind to them. In accordance with the wishes of Essential Records (their old label), the band veered into CCM territory and came out worse for the wear, but Overdressed basically erases the past ten years worth of albums and puts them back where 40 Acres left off. That’s a good thing. They’ve returned to the rootsy, folk style that so many loved them for, and this record is probably their second best overall album.

EISLEY — COMBINATIONS

Eisley is one of those bands that you either love or hate. I love them and have since I first heard them playing in Dallas way before they ever signed a record deal. Combinations takes the good stuff about the band and makes it stronger while eradicating the fluff they picked up on their first full-length. I haven’t listened to this one enough to really get a good grasp on how I feel about it, but my first listens have given me good impressions.

FF2007: GruveBall Draft

Here’s how my draft went down. I’m thrilled with my picks, by the way.

1. Joseph Addai
2. Maurice Jones-Drew
3. Donald Driver
4. Donovan McNabb
5. Marques Colston
6. Alge Crumpler
7. Jacoby Jones
8. Vince Young
9. Donte Stallworth
10. Jason Witten
11. Ravens D/ST
12. Stephen Gostowski
13. Greg Jennings
14. Tarvaris Jackson

I didn’t actually mean to pick Jackson — I tried to pick up Kevin Kolb, since it’s a keeper league and he’s going to be a stud in about three years. I worked the waiver wire following the draft and dropped Jackson, picking up Kolb. We’re also doing defensive players, so I grabbed Demeco Ryans.

All in all, a good draft. Everyone I got was ranked pretty high on my charts, and getting Vince Young in round 8 was a coup I think,

Fantasy Football Zero Day

Tomorrow is Fantasy Zero Day for me — I have drafts in both of my leagues.

The first league is the new GruveBall league, a fantasy league started by myself and Jon (hence the “Gruve” in the league name). This is a keeper league with 8 of our friends, and it’s going to be a doozie. We’re having a draft party at Jon’s house, and it should be pretty awesome. This is the league I’ve been doing research on for two months, and hopefully Sunday will see me having a good draft. I’m using an value-based strategy, which is different than anything I’ve ever done in fantasy sports, so we’ll see if it works out. I’m really hoping to NOT get the first pick in the draft, because I don’t want to take LaDanian Tomlinson and I’ll feel like I HAVE to if I have the first pick. I’m much more comfortable down at pick 5 or 6, where I know that one of the two running backs I really want will be available, and I won’t have to wait until the tail end of the second round to get my next pick in.

The second league is another keeper league. I was asked to take over a team from another owner, which means I have to designate my keepers. I actually chose not to keep anyone — the only guy I really would have kept is Vince Young, and I didn’t see him as a first-round keeper, so I’m just going to go ahead and do the draft and hope I can come up with someone great in the first round.

Fantasy Baseball 2007: August Notes

I’m currently sitting in next to last place in our fantasy league, but I’m not mad. Things are actually looking brighter than ever, and I firmly believe that if I had another two months, I could pull into the top six in the league and make our playoffs. As it stands, however, I’m sitting 25 games out of 6th place and 52 games out of first.

Here’s my team as of today, August 22:

STARTERS

C – Jorge Posada
1B – Dmitri Young
2B – Orlando Hudson
3B – Ryan Braun
SS – Derek Jeter
OF – Aaron Rowand
OF — Curtis Granderson
OF — Kevin Youkilis
Ut – Mike Lowell

BENCH
Jason Giambi
Jack Cust
Rick Ankiel
Kazuo Matsui

PITCHING

SP – Johan Santana
SP – Fausto Carmona
SP – Scott Baker
RP – Brad Lidge
RP – Takashi Saito
RP – Al Reyes
RP – Trevor Hoffman

To me, I’ve got a sick lineup. I picked up Carmona off the wire earlier this month, and I aquired Saito in a trade for Derrek Lee (which has proven to be a great trade, as Lee has tailed off in a big way the past three weeks).  Obviously, Ryan Braun was the move of the year for me; I read that he was going to be coming up from the minors in mid-May and did some research, finding out that he was a great power hitter, and watched out for him to hit the wire so I could pick him up. I grabbed him and he’s been a starter ever since.

I ended up releasing Roger Clemens, mostly because of my personal dislike for the man. Also, Scott Baker historically has a great final few months of the season, so I went ahead and grabbed him. And I’ve got the nastiest collection of closers in the game, with Lidge, Reyes, Saito and Hoffman.

If I were in a keeper league and had to pick five players to carry into next year, I’d keep Braun, Jeter, Santana, Rowand and Granderson. Braun has been my MVP (and will be a contender for the real MVP award at the end of this year), and I’ve got a group of guys who are going to be absolute superstars within a few years. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help me this year.

Oh well. It was a fun experience, and at least my fantasy football draft is next Sunday. I’m going to rule that league with an iron fist.

This Is Not Good At All

Time reports that most people in the Bush administration expect an attack on Iran within the next six months, if not sooner. The talk stems from the belief that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard is responsible for supplying materials needed to create the explosive formed projectiles (shape charges) that are the primary mechanism behind the IED’s being used against American forces in Iraq today.

Look: I’m all for stopping IED’s. I can tell you from first-hand experience that being hit with an IED is a terrifying experience. The first one I encountered during my deployment to Iraq happened during a convoy from Tikrit to an airfield where our main medical supply station was; the IED exploded into the HMMMV ahead of mine, and to this day I don’t think I’ve regained the hearing I lost in that blast. It nearly blinded the Captain riding shotgun in that vehicle, and it was a sickening, visceral experience. That was before they started using EFP’s as often as they do now, too, and they’re even deadlier.

I want my battle buddies to stop dying overseas, but attacking Iran is not the answer. I’d like to tell you that I knew what the perfect solution is, but I don’t. The truth is that we should be figuring out a way to get out of theater and back home safely instead of planning the next prong of a never-ending war on terror. Which is why I support Barack Obama for President, because he, more than anyone else, seems determined to bring my friends home and stop the never-ending cycle of deployments, lost loved ones, and sadness that it has brought, and continues to bring, to so many people I know.

I’ve subscribed to an RSS feed that lists deaths of soldiers overseas, and every day I read that feed with dread, hoping against hope that I won’t see anyone I know come up. My greatest fear is that I’ll still be subscribed to that feed when I’m 40 years old, still reading about people I served with dying for a cause that doesn’t really even exist anymore.