Sunday, July 15, 2007

2007 World Series of Poker

The 2007 World Series of Poker is wrapping up with the Main Event, featuring a first prize of over $8 Million.

One of my fraternity brothers from Duke, John Armbrust, is in the top 30 and survived onto Day 6. The very least amount of money he will stand to win is $285,000, but he has a nice chip stack ($2.6 million) and he's a great player, so anything can happen.

He was in last place and down to a a couple hundred thousand chips before making a furious comeback. Here's a picture of him before making the run:

Here's an article on John written by Craig Cunningham of Pokerworks. Craig (cc) was a frequent commenter on this blog for a while before he got busy with his own website, Quest of a Closet Poker Player.

Check out John's blog to keep tabs on his experience, which he's been keeping since playing in a couple of other events. It's quite detailed and poker-heavy.

Best of luck to John the rest of the way, no matter what happens he's already made a great accomplishment and set himself up for a nice poker career, not to mention a good financial situation for the next few years!

John Armbrust's WSOP Blog
World Series of Poker Official Site
Card Player

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Better Than Ezra @ Power Plant Live in Baltimore 06/22

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend mentioned that Better Than Ezra was playing a free show in downtown Baltimore and asked if I wanted to go. Better Than Ezra? Free? I'm there.

BTE has always been one of my favorite bands. They've consistently produced great music starting in one of the golden ages of rock in the mid-nineties. Of their 5 major studio albums, not a single one has been bad. In fact, I'd venture to say that all of their output is excellent.

Better Than Ezra also seems to like playing in Baltimore. They've played the same venue, also free of charge, for the past four or five years straight, and they've come here consistently for most of the past decade. As far as bands go, they're like your favorite cool uncle that comes to visit over the holidays and gives you a bunch of cash and goes out drinking with you. Actually, that's a stupid analogy and I don't have an uncle like that, but hopefully you get the point. I love me my annual live BTE fix.

As for the show itself, a good time was had by all. The band played a quality set with a bunch of staples and spanned their catalogue fairly well. They didn't play a couple of my favorites, "Live Again" and "Daylight", but I can't complain. As usual, "A Lifetime" and "In the Blood" were great to hear.

For your listening pleasure, wholesome MP3's follow the setlist below.


Sincerely Me
A Lifetime
Extra Ordinary
King of New Orleans
Southern Thing
At the Stars
Laid (James cover)
Miss You (Rolling Stones cover) ---> Juicy
Desperately Wanting

Jolene (cover)
Girl of the North Country (Bob Dylan cover)
In the Blood

MP3: Better Than Ezra - "Desperately Wanting"

MP3: Better Than Ezra - "Good"

MP3: Better Than Ezra - "A Lifetime"

MP3: Better Than Ezra - "Misunderstood"

MP3: Better Than Ezra - "Breathless"

MP3: Better Than Ezra - "Daylight"

Monday, June 25, 2007

a couple of good new tunes

Just testing some file sharing spots with two new songs, the much-welcomed first single from the Smashing Pumpkins, and a nice song from Spoon's latest.

MP3: Smashing Pumpkins - "Tarantula"

MP3: Spoon - "The Underdog"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Badass of the week: Julio Franco

Something which I forgot to mention which caught my eye recently: Julio Franco of the New York Mets hit a home run in a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamonbacks on May 4th. Now, normally someone hitting am opposite-field dinger isn't a big deal, but Franco became the oldest player in major league history to hit a home run - at 48 years, 8 months, and 12 days. Basically, the guy is 50 years old and he's still good enough to make a major league roster and hit bombs. The dude could easily be my dad.

Big Julio was born in 1958, in the midst of the early stages of the Cold War. Dwight Eisenhower was president of the United States, and in Cuba, a young, brash Fidel Castro was busy pissing off his neighbors to the north. NASA was yet to put a man in space, and the world's population was less than 3 billion, less than half the current population.

Over 15,000 players have played the great sport of baseball, and Julio Franco is the oldest of them all to hit a home run. Needless to say, Franco's accomplishment deserves some applause.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lollapalooza looking good

This year's Lollapalooza lineup was recently announced, and the roster looks like one of the best they've had in a long time. Pearl Jam will be headlining an American festival for the first time in over a decade, and Muse will join them as the two best acts on the bill.

Here are just a few of the bands which highlight the dozens of bands:

Pearl Jam
My Morning Jacket
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Blonde Redhead
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

The event will be held August 3-5 in Chicago, the same weekend the Police, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Beastie Boys headline the V Festival here in Baltimore.

some tunes for your enjoyment:

MP3: Pearl Jam - "Alive"

MP3: Pearl Jam - "World Wide Suicide"

MP3: Pearl Jam - "Daughter"

MP3: Pearl Jam - "Rearviewmirror"

MP3: Muse - "Time is Running Out"

Muse - "Map of the Problematique"

Muse - "Plug In Baby"

Muse - "Stockholm Syndrome"

MP3: Interpol - "C'mere"

MP3: Interpol - "Obstacle 1"

Spoon - "The Way We Get By"

MP3: Spoon - "I Turn My Camera On"

MP3: My Morning Jacket - "Off the Record"

MP3: My Morning Jacket - "One Big Holiday"

MP3: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - "Under the Hedge"

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Sopranos last stand

Later tonight, "The Sopranos" begins its final series run with the first of nine episodes. Easily one of the best TV series ever, the show has been captivating ever since it premiered in 1999 and has helped cement HBO as a creative force for some of the best television shows and series since (Band of Brothers, The Wire, Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Even though the show has dropped off a little in quality since about Seasons 3 and 4 - a little too much time was spent with the Vito coming out of the closet storyline over the past season, for example - "The Sopranos" has consistently maintained a high level of output in bringing us the mob world of New Jersey. Picking up from the Martin Scorsese's gangster world of Goodfellas, the show has been a great ride, no matter how gratuitously violent or expletive-laden.

Things are going to go down in a glorious fury during these final episodes, and rumor has it that two main characters will get whacked/killed off. My guess is that Junior and Paulie will bite the bullet; Junior's dementia and desperation are too much for him to handle, and Paulie's hot temper and past trangressions will probably be his downfall. Christopher would be a prime cadidate, but he should survive. Silvio is too level-headed and careful to get whacked, and while it would be interesting to see the writers kill off Tony in the end, I don't think we'll see it happen (although another attempted hit against him wouldn't be surprising).

Regardless of what transpires, these last nine episodes should be a fuckin' blast.

Here's a video of every single death/whacking on the show:

MP3: A3 - "Woke Up This Morning" (Sopranos Theme Song)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Greg Oden the man-child

How in the hell is this guy a teenager?? Image courtesy of a hilarious caption from The Onion. (Greg Oden On Final Four Appearance: 'I'm Happier Than I've Been In 30 Years')

MP3: Neil Young - "Old Man"

Monday, March 12, 2007

new Arctic Monkeys - "Brianstorm" MP3

The Arctic Monkeys are back with a new single, "Brianstorm", a hard, frantic rocker that's a little heavier than most of their songs. Last year's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not was one of 2006's better records, and certainly an excellent debut. With some bands, like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, releasing disappointing follow-up records, a strong sophomore effort would be welcome. Their newest LP, Favorite Worst Nightmare, hits stores in late April.

Here's my favorite song from last year, "A Certain Romance", a catchy guitar-driven tune, along with a couple others:

MP3: Arctic Monkeys - "A Certain Romance" [buy]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Duke vs. Maryland

Tomorrow night at 9 PM, Duke faces off against Maryland in college basketball. Maryland always plays Duke tough, and tonight should be another great game.

Below is a video clip of one of my favorite games between the two schools, from 2001 when Duke came back from 10 points down and less than one minute left to play, tying the game at the end of regulation before ultimately winning in overtime. It remains as perhaps my favorite sports moment, and I was lucky enough to have witnessed it in person.

After the win, Maryland started regularly beating Duke at home and away at Cameron Indoor; perhaps the 2001 comeback was a big reason for Maryland taking their play to another level against their hated ACC rivals.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Rage Against the Machine reunite

In some of the best music news in a long while, Rage Against the Machine will be coming back together after a seven-year haitus to play the 2007 Coachella Festival in April.

Rage Against the Machine where a force in the 90's, introducing a form of rap-metal which dozens of bands have miserably failed to imitate. Despite the fact most of the band continued on in the form of Audioslave (Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, Tim Commerford plus Chris Cornell) - a good band in their own right - nothing can match the intensity of the original lineup. I managed to catch Rage live at the 2000 HFStival in DC, and I'm happy I was able to witness one of the most powerful live acts of my generation before they called it quits.

Whether or not the band will stick together beyond the festival date seems uncertain, but ideally Zack de la Rocha and company will find a way to record again.

MP3: Rage Against the Machine - "Bulls on Parade"

Rage Against the Machine - "Wake Up"

Rage Against the Machine - "Guerrilla Radio"

Rage Against the Machine Official Site

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Congrats Cal Ripken: Hall of Fame-bound

Congratulations to Cal Ripken, Jr. - one of the Baltimore Orioles greats - as he has been voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the 12th Oriole to be inducted into the Hall.

Cal received 98.5% of the vote, which is a record for a position player and quite an accomplishment considering a lot of baseball writers who cast ballots refuse to vote for players for reasons having nothing to due with the player's merits. One sportswriter submitted a blank ballot because he lumped Ripken and fellow inductee Tony Gwynn in with "the Steroids Era", and the writer refused to vote for anyone until more is known about steroids. Other writers (otherwise known as assclowns) just don't vote for any players on their first ballot out of principle.

A well deserved honor for one of the games best shortstops and a Baltimore icon.

ESPN link

Monday, January 01, 2007

albums to look forward to in 2007

2006 was a lackluster year for rock music. Perhaps I'm just losing touch with the music scene, but the past year seemed even more boring and disappointing than the last few years, which has been a dead period in music to begin with. Aside from strong albums from Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Bob Dylan, not much new or exciting surfaced. All we really got was the arrival of Panic! at the Disco and the continued success of Fall Out Boy, and both of those bands suck.

2007 seems to be a much more promising year. We'll get highly anticipated new albums from Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, and Wilco. We'll also get sophomore efforts from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Arcade Fire (which could be brilliant or huge letdowns), along with new records from indie darlings the Shins (their Wincing the Night Away is already getting early positive buzz) and mid-tempo rockers Spoon. Add in possible albums from U2 and R.E.M. late in the year, and the future looks good.

Here's to a solid '07.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Casino Royale

Casino Royale

When I first saw previews for the new Bond flick, I had trouble buying into Daniel Craig as the new 007. While Pierce Brosnan isn't a remarkable actor, I had gotten used to seeing him in the last few installments of the series. All of those films were fairly entertaining, with Goldeneye the best of the Brosnan era. But whereas Brosnan played Bond with a smartass confidence, Craig takes a much more raw approach which reveals more character than Brosnan ever did. Brosnan fulfilled a stereotype and caricature, never really providing any depth to the character. In Casino Royale, Craig is believable as a young, brash MI6 agent starting out his career, with a few missteps along the way to becoming an elite secret agent. Complex action scenes and fancy gadgets take a seat in favor of plot development during which the hero and villians take turns trying to outmaneuver each other. This was effectively accomplished in the setting of a super high-stakes poker tournament with millions on the line. It was good to see poker playing such a large role, as the poker scenes were interesting; several hands between Bond and the villian, Le Chiffre, are played out to dramatic effect.

As far as action movies go, Casino Royale is well done and worth seeing. With a new Bond on board, it looks like the franchise is headed in the right direction.