Saturday, December 13, 2008

Angels Make Big Offer to Big Teix

8/160.  Not quite the 7/160 that was rumored yesterday, but still pretty damn big.  Honestly, I hope this gets it done.  He's 28, and he's very good.  I think this is a fair deal, and most importantly, it's not my money.  

I just hope that if he signs, they commit to Kendry Morales in the outfield.  I think he'll be a nice replacement in left, and that lets them shore up the defense with Matthews in right, assuming they can't cut him loose.  And I agree with Rob's commenters.  He's nuts if he thinks this is a bad deal.

Bruin Hoops - Starting to come together

It's becoming increasingly clear that Ben Howland is going to rotate about eight or nine guys once conference season rolls around.  He's got his starting five, then Roll, Dragovic, a freshman guard, and a freshman front court player.  The minutes are there for someone to step up, but Lee, Anderson, Gordon, and Morgan will have to earn them, and the team will be better because of it.

Today's game was a nice tune up for next month.  DePaul is not very good.  Their coach sucks.  Their best scorer has a serious attitude problem.  They are simply not major players for the best recruits in Chicago (who are now heading south to Champaign, as nature intended).  And it's kind of too bad, because I live about 200 feet from their campus (though 25 minutes or so from All-State Arena).  But there is no buzz whatsoever in this town about DePaul basketball.

One thing I've finally realized about Ben Howland basketball is that UCLA is almost always going to look bad against a zone defense for the first 10 minutes of the game.  That used to frustrate me, but I've finally come to the realization that it's really a feeling out period for the Bruin offense, and they're taking the first ten minutes to figure out what they're going to do over the last 30 minutes.  Roughly ten minutes into this game, the Bruins led by five points.  With roughly 11 or 12 minutes to go, they were up by 20.  The Bruins are patient on the offensive end, and as a fan, you need to patient watching them.

One player who had a nice game for the Bruins on the offensive end was Nikola Dragovic.  He was 5-7 for the game, but 5-5 inside the arc.  He seems to be adding another dimension to his offensive game, no longer content to just wait on the perimeter for jump shots.  That's a big addition for a team that needs interior scoring.  He still needs to step it up on the defensive end, though.  I also noticed a concerted effort by Darren Collison to take more jump shots.  On the negative side, Josh Shipp missed all of his three point attempts.

Tonight's game was not a test for the Bruins.  It was a high profile scrimmage, and I think Ben Howland knew as much.  Things are progressing for this young team, though, and they'll be ready for conference season next month.  Special appreciation goes to Coach Howland for getting Tyler Trapani into the game.  It had to be special for both him, and his great grandfather, to play in the Wooden Classic.  The man is a national treasure, and I'm thankful for the opportunitiy to have seen him speak last summer.

A few more cupcakes await before conference season.  Plenty of time to keep moving forward.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ted Leo @ AV-Aerie - 12/10/08 - Updated with link to photos

This is the third time I've seen Ted Leo live, but the first time I've seen him with no Pharmacists*.  It was kind of an interesting aesthetic, really.  I've seen singer/songwriters before.  I've even seen singer/songwriters who were part of a band play without the band (Grant Lee Phillips doing his Buffalo material, for example).  But I've never seen a singer/songwriter play something pretty close to the same arrangements he plays in the band setting without the band behind him.  

In other words, usually when guys play a solo set like this, they have an acoustic set up.  The acoustic guitar almost allows the artist to add a little of his or her own percussion to a given song.  Ted Leo basically just played lead guitar for the entire night.  Picture him playing a typical TL/Rx show, but without anyone behind him.  It was really cool to see once.  I'm not sure I'd be particularly jazzed about seeing it again (I would go, of course), and it's really made me want to listen to the studio versions of all the stuff he played.  

Speaking of the stuff he played, he sample a little from just about every album, and played a bunch of covers including songs by Lungfish, the Waco Brothers, Blondie, and set ending rendition of Bruce Springsteen's 'Dancing in the Dark'.  From his own songs, he played a bunch of stuff that was unfamiliar, but also played:
  • Timorous Me (which had some improvised handclaps)
  • Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone.
  • The High Party
  • Ballad of the Sin Eater
  • Me and Mia
  • Bleeding Powers
  • Colleen
  • Bottle of Buckie
He played for about an hour and a half, only stopping occasionally to tune and joke around with the crowd.  He was entertaining even when he wasn't playing.  

As for the venue, it was the third floor of a semi-industrial building converted for music in an industrial part of town just northwest of the United Center.  I imagine, per their website, that this was one of the "fund raising arts and cultural events whose revenue will go to local socially and/or environmentally focused initiatives in partnerships chosen on a bi-annual schedule."  It had a really high ceiling, but you wouldn't know, because the whole performance space was covered by a large parachute draped from above to make it feel much more intimate.  The house lights never went down, which almost gave it the feel of a casual evening with a friend, assuming your friends invite Thax Douglas over to read strange poems.  Even beer was cheap.  $2 bucks for a can of High Life, and that was a "suggested donation".   *UPDATE* - Photos of the night at this link.  Pretty good look at the venue.  

So a really cool show, in a very different type of setting than I'm used to.  I look forward to seeing who else they'll book there.  Enjoy some Ted. Two versions of Rude Boys to choose from, and two great live songs back to back.

*There may have been actual pharmacists in the audience.  I didn't poll everyone's occupation.

Rude Boys solo live

Rude Boys studio recording (you'll have to turn it up a bit)

Timorous Me/Walking To Do