February 16, 2012

LEGO. Major League Baseball. You Know You Want It.

A couple of years ago, Gus Ramsey brought up a question on the B.S. Report that should have been completed years ago: Why aren't there LEGO(c) versions of MLB stadiums?

To that end, Gus and I have spearheaded a grassroots effort to make this all-too-important dream a reality.  i mean, really, what Pittsburgh Pirates fan wouldn't want a LEGO version of PNC Park?

And not to anger half of Pennsylvania, but for you Phillies here is Citizen's Bank in Philadelphia:

Credit for the above stadiums goes to Jason Burik & Burik Model Design.

If you want to be part of the growing LEGO & MLB mission, you can follow us at @Lego_MLB on Twitter, like us on Facebook at LEGO, Please Create MLB Licensed Stadium Sets.

It's Thursday!

Since it's a random Thursday in February, I decided to update the blog.  It had been about two years with the same fireworks picture/layout/yadda, so why not?

I also wanted to post just to let you know I'm serious this time.  I really am.  I'm not just going to promise you blogs and follow through.  Again.  I'm not going to say I'm going to the gas station for cigarettes and somehow end up in Florida with the rest of the deadbeat bloggers.

January 29, 2012

Feed Me, Seymour!

I'm hungry for your feedback. In the coming weeks (or months, I don't really know) I plan on returning to the good-old-fashioned blogosphere, just like your mammy and pappy used ta. In the meantime, send me your fodder...err, questions...to gumboblog@gmail.com. I promise I'll take it easy on you with my silver tongue lashings...responses. Maybe.

March 27, 2011

Who-onzo Martin?

Here is the link to Andy Katz's article about why Bruce Pearl was fired from the University of Tennessee.

In the article, Katz notes "the final straw for the university came earlier this month when, a source told ESPN.com, the staff committed an NCAA violation on March 6 in regards to a player pass list for the home game against Kentucky. It was a procedural matter, but enough was enough apparently and that tipped the scale toward the firing of Pearl and his staff."

Today, March 27th, Tim Gardner of USA Today reported that Tennessee has hired Cuonzo Martin of Missouri State to be its next head basketball coach. Now, I don't know Cuonzo from Billy, other than the fact that he took Missouri State from 11 to 26 wins in two seasons. Is that impressive? I don't know. What I do know is this logic progression (use of the word "logic" disputable):

  1. He was hired one week after Pearl was fired.
  2. A one-week coaching search for a major university is extremely short.
  3. A one-week coaching search means one of three things:
    1. Martin is an amazing candidate that blew away the administration and should prove successful nearly immediately.
    2. The candidate search was not carried out well. This will show itself in the further lowering of a successful program that has made the NCAA tournament for each of the last six years.
    3. The university was carrying out interviews before Pearl was fired.

My guess? Perhaps because I still back Pearl and would have chosen to keep him, (assuming more damning evidence does not come out that would make keeping Pearl to seem the most asinine option), C. This is a further back-stab of a coach who was suspended, fined, banned from recruiting, and whose contract was terminated yet still chose to stay and coach said university. If Hamilton was indeed interviewing candidates behind Pearl's back, this sheds further light on an Athletic Director who stated that Pearl's job was still under consideration one day before the team was due to play Michigan in a first-round tournament game, fracturing the fan base and distracting the team to the tune of a 30-point defeat. Hamilton has made a mockery of his position, and I have made no secret of the fact that as an alumnus of the University of Tennessee I am upset with the direction Hamilton has taken. Perhaps Martin will turn out to be a terrific fit with the team and is able to keep players such as Kevin Ware, who said "As long as they hire a good coach I can trust, I'll want to be at Tennessee." Ware had previous sent a letter to the NCAA requesting to be let out of his letter-of-intent after Pearl's firing. Did Hamilton make the right choice? We won't know for years. What do you think?

March 18, 2011

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

This post should be a short-but-sweet recommendation for any history buffs out there.

I've subscribed to Common Sense with Dan Carlin (a political podcast, iTunes link here) for a few months now. The show's host prides himself on "Original and outside-the-box thinking on current events and history," but in reality, Mr. Carlin typically shows himself to be a rational thinker who takes the time to digest both sides of whichever two issues he presents bi-monthly. Additionally, the two issues generally coincide to some degree, although it can be a tenuous link from show to show. Recent shows have covered the Wisconsin budget debate/union debacle, and public participation in governmental policy. However, the real reason I'm recommending Dan Carlin is his "Hardcore History" podcast.

Hardcore History (here is the iTunes link) is a new look at some of history's most fascinating periods. The series generally updates every two months, so there is a wealth of back-logged shows on iTunes currently. The first series I listened to was Carlin's "Ghosts of the Ostfront", which chronicles the Russian-German battle to the death on the eastern edge of World War II. The depth of research is fantastic, and the imagery is at times shocking. I'm currently in the midst of "Death Throes of the Republic," in which Carlin takes an in-depth look at the Roman Empire as it teetered on the edge of collapse.

I cannot recommend either of these podcasts highly enough, and if pressed I would go with Hardcore History, even if the releases are so distant from one another. If you're interested in a well-structured point of view that may not be your own, or are looking for a historical piece to stretch your knowledge, check out Dan Carlin, and his corresponding podcasts, available on iTunes.

March 17, 2011

The Hunger and the Thirst

March 17th, 2011.

St. Patrick's Day

It's been 9 days since we all made our choice. For some it was easy, for others, it's still a struggle. But we've all made our bed, and now we're lying in it.

There are rumors flying about why…rumors that maybe this happened last year, too. But with everyone's attention span reduced by Twitter and inane status updates, no one has a truly clear recollection of what happened before last week.

The blurred memories, the shattered lives, it all adds up to one thing:

Zombie Lent. Maybe you're afraid to admit it, maybe you have your own horror story to live through, but we've come as a species to a defining point in our evolution

Do we continue on our path of sacrifice? Or do we cave, and let the hunger and thirst win out, forever weakening our spirit?

In the nine days since yours truly gave up soda, I've managed to stave off bouts of murderous rage while craving that bubbly feeling you get when the carbonation hits the back of your throat. You know, that tickly, life-altering delicious tingle that lets you know you're truly alive. Without that, I've been reduced to sagging onto the floor, desperately trying not to tackle poor bystanders with a Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Squirt, or even, God-forbid, a Tab. My motor-skills are reduced to the point where I walk like that weird ghost-chick in The Grudge. Everything I eat seems to turn to ash in my mouth.

All my brain can focus on is 31 days away. I don't know if I can make it. And if I don't, I fear for mankind. So prepare yourself.

March 6, 2010

Reel Review: Avatar, or Matrixes with Ferngully Wolves

The Terminator. Aliens. The Abyss. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. True Lies


James Cameron, I doubted you. After Titanic, I unofficially swore off any contact with you aside from your pre-existing work. For those of you who don't know, I worked at a movie theater for 2 ½ years during high school. While it was a great job, it did have some downsides: listening to "Wild Wild West" on a seemingly endless repeat, Phil Collin's "You'll Be in My Heart" playing while watching never-ending promos for Tarzan, and most of all, the disaster that was Titanic (JAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCKKKK!!!!!). From the day the movie was released, December 19th, 1997, that movie tormented me for 6 months. No other movie during my tenure at the Carmike Cinemas 8 in Clarksville, Tennessee managed to revive itself from the smallest theaters to the main theaters with stops in the mid-size theaters as many times as the Leo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet slobberfest did. Countless weekends of cleaning inordinate amounts of discarded tear tissues passed while I wanted to jam a molten-hot enema in each of my ears as Celine Dion's " My Heart Will Go On" droned on and on (by the way, I managed to hear about 5 seconds of that clip before I puked). The movie left mere days before my 17th birthday, which still ranks as the greatest gift the universe has bestowed upon me.

What does this have to do with Avatar? Unfortunately for Cameron's passion project, Titanic served as one of two reasons why I actively chose not to watch Sam Worthington-led project. What was the second reason, you may ask? My unyielding desire to detach myself from any public drool-fest, which means, yes, I am a self-aggrandizing ego-maniac whose 3 blog followers means I'm sitting on a gold mine. But I digress. On a rare night when I had to entertain myself while my wife had a birthday girls' night, I decided, mostly due to the film's start time, that I'd give in and judge the phenomenon for myself. And I'm glad to say that I was wrong about the film's reception. As is well-known, the film's visual element is absolutely stunning. I caught a 3D showing of the movie, and aside from small effects that flittered seemingly in front of your face, the added depth of the 3D effects helped to completely immerse yours truly in the movie, after the necessary adjustment period at the outset. But where most complaints I've heard have dealt with the plot, I found the story compelling and much deeper than expected.

Yes, the heavy-handed treatment of the military was over-the-top. However, aside from the (necessary) use of English as the primary language and the primarily Caucasian cast of soldiers, there is very little to identify the guerilla-Marines as critiques of US forces. Cameron expertly wove together a story of colonialism, xenophobia, classism, racism, greed, and exploitation. Can the story be seen as critical of American/Middle East relations (or better, tensions) over fossil fuels? Absolutely. At one point, Giovanni Ribisi's character notes that to create an excuse to take a prized resource, all leaders or politicians need to do is frame the native population as a threat, and invasion or occupation is an easy, or even needed, precaution…preemptive strikes, anyone? Further, the movie's central conflict lies in man's seemingly innate desire to conquer nature, believing that "traditional" knowledge is innately inferior to scientific learning and progress. Easy research into Seasonal Affective Disorder shows that humans are invariably sensitive to the natural environment, and while SAD in no way can truly compare to the communion the Na'vi share with their homeworld of Pandora, it begins to illuminate the disconnect that we as a species has promulgated on ourselves as we've strove to build more and more technology to "improve" our lives. The incredible sense of community that Cameron wrote into the indigenous peoples of his fictional world shouldn't serve as a laughing point, but rather a goal in the sense that while we may never achieve a "human hive mind" of sorts, we can look to become more aware of our impact on each other as individuals and as larger collectives.

As an urban planner/community developer, this may seem at odds with my chosen profession and its built-in need for expansion, but it should serve as a reminder to continuously look to the effects our built environments have on the minds, mental states, and physical well-being of our fellow citizens. As I've waxed on faux-etically about my love for a movie I've only left an hour and a half ago, I'll wrap this up.

But just remember, Mr. James Cameron, you still owe me for the emotional trauma of Titanic. Big-time. I can't forgive you just yet. I need more time. But at least Avatar put us on speaking terms again.



Special Effects: A++++++++++++ (you've seen the clips, dogg)

Story: A- (see above)

Acting: B+ (The colonel(?) in the movie, though completely over-the-top, is absolutely believable. And Sigourney Weaver pulling an Ellen Ripley homage was wonderful.)

Pacing/Plot: A (for a 2 ½ hour movie, I didn't have a single urge to whiz)

Overall: A (And a very strong contender for the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture)