Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writing this baby on my brand new external USB keyboard! Because my laptop keyboard no longer recognizes half the alphabet, and it takes a week to get a replacement part!

Side note: I am most likely about the richest I've ever been at this point. You'd think that by now, I'd feel at least a little more secure than I was when I was pushing broke. Unfortunately, that isn't the case, as EVERYTHING I OWN IS ON THE PRECIPICE OF DYING.

My DVD player broke a couple weeks ago. My record player (which I don't really use... but it gives me an excuse to collect actual records) is a few revolutions too fast. Among other things.

Hey. I saw some flicks recently. I'm gonna quickly comment on them.

The Artist: Bad as an homage to 20's silent films, but pretty good as a pure slice of entertainment.

It's by all accounts going to win Best Picture at the Oscars a month from now, and I think I might be OK with that. It's not as revolutionary as, say, The Tree Of Life, but it's fun... and it doesn't have the same "Oscar bait" scent to it that something like The King's Speech did. (I mean, if you follow the Oscar race at all, you could possibly argue that it does since it's been the frontrunner for so long... but for me, it's hard to say that anyone could have imagined something as gimmicky as making a silent film would be received so well.)

Moneyball: Manages to romanticize a statistical revolution in a sport pretty well. (Which is somewhat miraculous, because in terms of the statistical analysis method vs. the old fashioned method of evaluating the game, the statistical approach is the more boring, practical method.) Unfortunately, for some reason they don't treat the Twins' win over the A's in the divisional series as the triumphant victory that I have viewed it as for the past 10 years.

Quick note: I have seen only 5 of the 9 movies nominated for an Oscar. The two above I saw just so I could say that I've seen at least a couple. One I saw because my mother made me.

What this means is that my investment in the Oscar race is very low. Which is not surprising, because last year's sucked after a good stretch where (mostly) good-to-great movies brought home the gold. Also, I was going to try to see all the Best Picture nominees before the actual night, but that was before I saw War Horse and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close nominated, so... screw that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

(Commenting on the games yesterday, because I've got nothing better to do.)

As a Vikings fan, both of the games yesterday were difficult to watch. In that I am all too aware of the feeling of having your gut mangled in several different ways, and both of the games yesterday were stomach punchers similar to many Vikings games of year's past. Moreso the Ravens/Patriots game, because it managed to finagle multiple what-ifs out of the game (what if Lee Evans put forth a little extra effort on the TD he later dropped, what if Cundiff had a little bit extra time to prepare for his kick, or what if he actually made the damn thing) in a way that reminded me all too closely of the 98 NFC Championship game. But the 49ers/Giants game was also miserable, in that the Niners would have won were it not for one single player.

Somehow I was reminded of Charlie Brown and his baseball team, and all the times in which they were on the verge of victory only to have Charlie Brown fail in the absolute pivotal moment.

In essence, the games were riveting, but they were riveting not because of triumph but of abject failure. Which happens... but usually not on the same day in two of the most important games of the season.

Anyway, Giants/Patriots is the Super Bowl. I'll probably end up going for the Patriots, because I appreciate sports villainy through sheer mad genius. But I'm already sick of the "Super Bowl XLII rematch" talk, because it happened 4 years ago and no one cares if the Patriots can exact revenge for the Giants dismantling their perfect season. I mean, no one cares outside of the Northeast (which, conveniently, is where mainstream media is centered).

In any case, the most interesting story this Super Bowl is Peyton Manning, and how screwed he is no matter what happens. If the Patriots win, then Brady will have won another Super Bowl--this time on Manning's turf--providing yet another dagger in that little rivalry. If the Giants win, then Peyton is no longer the best Manning QB of all time. I might find this to be the most interesting storyline since I used to really dislike Manning (for all his brilliance, it annoyed me to no end whenever he would throw a pick and immediately blame the WR), and others might not find it as compelling (since Peyton was probably the second most discussed/analyzed/shouted about topic in the NFL other than Tebow this year)... but it's at least better than talking about the David Tyree catch nonstop for approximately the next 315 hours.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Joe Paterno died today.

I don't usually comment on people dying (or, at least I think I don't... I like to at least say that I don't), but this death strikes me as really sad.

Not that it's the biggest surprise in the world (as soon as he was relieved of his duties, I thought we'd have something similar to Charles Schulz, who died the very day his last comic strip was published), and he had a long, full life. And I know that a lot of people probably aren't ready to forget everything and remember him as a great man, and I can understand why.

But Joe Paterno was a human being. By a lot of accounts a pretty decent human being. And in the last two months of his life he was considered a villain, for actions (or inaction, perhaps) that I'm pretty sure that--put in the exact same situation--quite a lot of people would have handled the same.

I don't know. I don't want it make it seem as if he's the victim in all this, but I don't believe a relatively decent human being should pass on as a bad guy without some form of redemption. That's about all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Top 10 "A" songs

So the whole Internet is blacked out for the time being, and I can't do any work right now. At the moment, I have nothing better to do except either maybe play some games or perhapsdo something productive-- and by productive, of course I mean "making a frivolous list." Guess which route I chose (well... I'm trying to get through Super Meat Boy, and the later levels are super frustrating, so... I guess this is what I'm doing for now.)

This list is kind of simple, as I'm going to list my favorite songs that start with the letter "A". I'm probably going to forget a couple songs here and there, since I'm using my iTunes to figure out my list, but then again... if it's not on my iTunes, is it really any good? (The answer is, of course, no.)

And theoretically, I'm going to try to do every letter in the alphabet... so to avoid monotony (spoiler: lots of Ween, lots of Beach Boys, lots of Radiohead), I've got a couple rules. One: band can only appear once per list. Two: The number 5 position will be devoted to a band that I otherwise would not put on my list. Three: The number 3 position will be the requisite "Beatles or Bob Dylan" spot. Because otherwise I'm assuming they'd be number one all the time. And no one wants to see a list where either The Beatles or Bob Dylan are on top YET AGAIN. Also, I reserve right to add bands to that #3 spot if they end up dominating the top of the list and I get sick of it, and I also reserve the right to expand the spot to number 4 as well if, say, I can't imagine an "I" list without both "I Am The Walrus" and "I Saw Her Standing There" on it.

In essence, I'm trying to make this as interesting as possible for me.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
-"All My Loving" by The Beatles, which didn't even make it to the 2nd round of deliberating, because I knew I preferred another Beatles song to it.
-"All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem, which was originally on the list, but got bumped because I couldn't find the original album version anywhere on Youtube. That's a rule too, by the way.
-"All Along The Watchtower" and "Are You Experienced?" by Jimi Hendrix (well, to be precise... "Are You Experienced?" is by The Jimi Hendrix Experience... but no one cares, really), both of which I have tremendous admiration for, but they don't inspire the same amount of love that other songs on this list do.

10. Magnetic Fields--Absolutely Cuckoo



I'm a little hesitant to put this on the list. I've been really digging into the band's "69 Love Songs" release, and this is one of my favorites... but objectively, there are probably better songs on the album, and in any case... I fear that it's on the list solely because it's a current favorite and won't have the staying power that other songs on this list have for me.

On the other hand... none of the other songs are sounding quite as appealing to me. And it features darkly funny lyrics with a melody that gets stuck in your head for days. And it has a ukelele. And it does all it needs to do in under 100 seconds. So screw it. Number 10.

9. Flaming Lips--The Abandoned Hospital Ship



Most of the Flaming Lips' stuff has some sort of optimistic bent to it, whether if it's masking some darker depths underneath, or hidden within an otherwise somber outlook. Or, you know, it's out in plain front in that noisy, blissful Flaming Lips way. But this song--it sounds weary and somewhat checked out--as if it's--at least for this one time--too tired to project any sort of optimism. Which I guess makes it seem especially poignant and honest.

8. Neil Young--After The Gold Rush



I'm writing these in the order opposite of how you're reading it, starting with the top song and working my way on down. And right about now I'm beginning to realize that the best adjective to describe all these songs is "pretty." This wasn't a conscious decision at all, and I'm sure (or at least I'm hoping) that other top tens of mine might skew towards songs with a little more edge. But as it is, "pretty" is the best word I can think of to describe the overall sound of these songs, and it's the best word I can use to describe this Neil Young ballad.

(Also, his inclusion here makes my list about 18% Canadian (it would be 20%, but... Levon Helm had to go and get born in Arkansas, so...) So not a bad showing for the Canucks.)

7. Ween--The Argus



So--if I continue producing these lists for every letter of the alphabet--I am assuming that Ween is going to appear on pretty much every list. So you might as well learn to love them.

Anyway, this lacks their trademark humor--and is probably played as straight as any song in the band's repertoire--but as an ode to the type of music that "Stairway To Heaven", Pink Floyd and countless prog bands of the 70's emulated--it's quite impressive and lovely. And touching, too--in a weird, spaced out sort of way.

6. Jethro Tull--Aqualung



Who *doesn't* like Aqualung? Multi-parts, iconic riffs, plaintive acoustic sections, killer guitar solos--these are reasons to like songs.

5--AKA THE SONG FOR THE SAKE OF DIVERSITY: NEU!--After Eight



This is--again--the spot reserved for songs from bands that I otherwise probably wouldn't think twice about including. And this band, hailing all the way from Germany and coming from the same Kraut Rock scene that bands like Can and Kraftwerk dominated, gets the benefit of the doubt.

I would probably describe their music as sounding much more experimental than this song, but this does feature the minimalist drum patterns and drones that the band is apparently famous for. It just happens to also sound like The Stooges, or even proto-punk.

4. Across The Great Divide--The Band



I'm not sure really what to say about this song, except that I'm somewhat surprised I have it so high up this list--and yet, I can't imagine anyone *not* liking this song. It seems so gosh darn affable and joyful... I mean, if you're huge on Marilyn Manson and the like, I can see why you might not like this. BUT STILL.

Also, the vocals.

3--AKA THE BEATLES OR BOB DYLAN SPOT. Beatles--Across The Universe



To be honest, this would probably be first... but I didn't want to put a Beatles song first, so I enacted a silly rule that bans the Beatles from ever reaching the top spot. Which is essentially ineffective, since I am telling you right now that this song is probably my TRUE number one. But still. It's important to me that I have arbitrary rules.

This is the Phil Spector-produced version, which is the one that I prefer. I think certain Beatles purists hate it (as well as Lennon himself, I believe), because it slows down Lennon's original vocals and adds layers of strings over what was an acoustic song intended for a wildlife charity record (and in essence, changed the essence of the song from gentle to ethereal.) But that ethereal atmosphere, plus the slowed down vocals, only add to the beauty for me.

2. Tom Waits--Anywhere I Lay My Head



I've been trying to educate my brother on music, ever since he revealed to me once when Stairway To Heaven came on the radio that he had never heard the song before. So that has mostly consisted of listening to the radio in the car with him, and telling him all about the band. And Tom Waits' "Satisfied" from his latest release came on, and I think what I told him went something like "this is Tom Waits, and he is awesome." And then the vocals kicked in, and my brother immediately responded, "yes he is." It might be the biggest highlight in my 22-year career of having siblings.

In any case, if I ever get around to every letter of the alphabet... I'm assuming that there's only going to be a couple songs by Tom Waits seriously considered throughout the whole thing. I'm also assuming that most of them will also place extremely high upon the list. And so this is at number 2, mostly for the way the first part sounds like the most touching eulogy to one's self one can write, as Waits seems to sing his heart out... and the way the second half seems to render it all a joke. It's quite brilliant.

1. Van Morrison--Astral Weeks



Mystical poetry. Like a stroll through a dream world with your loved one that you hope will never end.

I could possibly understand why some might not like this (cause, I suppose it's a little meandering), but nonetheless... everyone should. Maybe just listen to the video 13-14 times or so, and let it seep in. That should do the trick.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

These songs are from Another Green World, which battles Sigur Ros' Agaetis Byrjun for the coveted spot of being my favorite album of all time.





"Everything Merges With The Night" is the penultimate track to the album. I suppose it fits, since the entire record has this lovely, serene texture to it, and this song gives the best representation of that serenity. I've been listening to it over and over again this morning, and... it is having a calming effect on me. Something that I've probably needed as of late.

At least it does while the song is playing. Then "Spirits Drifting" comes along and sounds just like the title, and I suddenly become distressed. I then hit back, and I hear the beginning of "Everything Merges..." all over again, and I feel better again. It is beautiful.

I've written about "The Big Ship" a lot, and mostly I just rewrite my interpretation of it over and over again. But it's the one song that so clearly evokes an image in my head, and so I feel more of a connection to it and thus--I mention it all the time.

Right now what I'm imagining is a country kid from the mid-19th century, one who knows only the world that surrounds his cottage. He goes out exploring the countryside, and after a long journey he stumbles upon a river, and just as he arrives this large ocean liner comes streaming down past him. He has never seen a ship before, much less one this size, and can hardly fathom how it would fit along this river. But there it is, as large and as graceful as anything he's ever seen in his life. And suddenly the thought strikes him that this might be the most perfect image he'll ever see. Then the moment passes, and the liner fades out of sight, and he realizes that he will most likely never see such beauty again. And even while realizing he could not have done anything differently, a small tinge of regret suddenly hits him.

---

It was my brother's birthday yesterday.

For whatever reason, I have always thought that whenever someone in my immediate family had a birthday, I would subsequently have a bad day. I think it started years and years ago, when I noticed a trend that at some point one of my parents would always yell at me whenever my siblings had a birthday party.

Yesterday wasn't bad. But it was difficult.

My diet as of late has mostly consisted of cough drops I have lying around. And just about everything else has seemed completely unappealing, to the point where I'm just going back to the cough drops. I don't think I'm sick anymore. I'm just used to the taste of cough drops, I suppose.

Of course, yesterday being a birthday meant that I had to actually force myself to eat, once at the birthday dinner and again when the birthday cake was brought out. The dinner itself wasn't bad, but I couldn't bring myself to eat more than half of it. The cake was... well, I made the cake, to start. I got bored while putting frosting on so I slapped a Twinkie on top and then fashioned a face out of it using Froot Loops and 2 mirroring candy canes as a handlebar mustache. Unfortunately, I don't know if it was the Twinkie bit I got on top that made it difficult to eat or what, but... somehow, I had myself my first bad piece of cake.

So, that's a first.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I don't mean to delight in the misfortune of others, but... it's been a rough week for me physically and emotionally, and it was REALLY nice seeing your rival football team lose in a way that your team usually would.

(Actually, it's not, really. If we were in the Packers' shoes, we would have either lost 52-0 or by dropping a game winning touchdown in the last second of the game. Or some other completely embarrassing/heart-rending scenario.)

I mean, the Packers are going to be back, so it's really just a celebration that their Super Bowl title count won't be 12 at the end of the decade. I think it was just a case of a team cooling off right as another was heating up.

Now I've got the Napoleon Dynamite cartoon on because I forgot to turn off the TV. It's not very good.

---

I might stop updating this place for a while. It's been sort of a source of frustration, as I've been writing pretty much for myself at a time in which that fact has been seriously bothering me.

I mean, I don't know what else I could do that might give me a needed outlet to vent... that also might be seen by more than one person. But I'm trying to figure that out. I'll let you know.

---

This song has helped me through the week. I try to belt it out in the car whenever I play it, but I lack only a little bit of the natural talent at singing that Brian Wilson possesses.

I mean, I lack a lot of it. But I'm trying to get better at singing, for no real reason. Which has its own set of problems, as a) none of my current ways to play my iPod in my car are working really well, and b) I only belt out songs in my car, and get too self-conscious elsewhere. Or in the presence of my brothers, who seem to unconditionally accept everything I do as great.

Eventually, I'll get better. I think. Anyway, this is a great song. You should play it to remind yourself how great it is.

(Don't mind if I do.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I think my tastes are beginning to become more and more boring as the years go on.

With that said, I'm quite liking The Black Keys and their latest record.



As in, I'm liking the band that has sold probably close to 500,000 copies of that same record, whose songs have appeared in every f-ing commercial and sports highlight package creating since the time the record came out. Which, you know... for rock bands, those spaces are usually reserved for guys who have been out for decades... like the Foo Fighters or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (So at least I'm hearing a decent rock band in their relative prime as I'm watching linebackers run over quarterbacks.)

The band's been around for awhile, but they mostly stuck to a bluesier sound, which kept me mostly away because I find blues kind of boring and didn't hear anything unique to make me want to listen to them. But then last year's album "Brothers" came out and changed the blues formula to include a lot more soul. And it was seriously good. And it was also relentlessly played everywhere (or at least "Tighten Up and "Howlin' For You"), so I'd be tempted to chalk my admiration of the record to constant airplay breeding familiarity. And since it wasn't half-bad, it ended up growing on me. Which isn't true, cause I remember thinking "Tighten Up" was pretty damn good rock song at first listen, which was also the case for non-singles like "Everlasting Light" and "The Only One".

With their latest record "El Camino," though... I'm not so certain that it isn't familiarity winning the album over for me. It's definitely more overtly pop than probably anything else they've released, and I'm not as fond of it as say "Brothers" (though it does fix its main sin of being extremely long), but it's still decent.

But I think I'm liking it more because it's replacing all the usual rock artists that the commercials play for their crappy movies/TV shows/products. I've had SportsCenter on in the background a lot where I'm working (for lack of anything better to put on), and for the past who knows how long, just about every track from the album was played as bumper music for a package pimping what's coming up next. And I mean, this doesn't seem like it should make me more liable to like the album, but this all hinges on the fact that I find the album to be pretty decent and not at all over-produced, and that I'm accustomed to hearing bands like the aforementioned Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers (and bands like Coldplay as well) as the music preferred by huge media conglomerates. And even if it's not GREAT music, it's getting airplay that only major label bands are usually afforded. (And I know they're on a label that's owned by Warner, but--it seems as if their success seemed much more organic than others', so it doesn't seem as if they're on a major label... )

In any case, my favorite is the above song I posted. It's been getting a lot of comparisons to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" (which, side note, apparently my brother hadn't heard before recently when it played on a radio--which, even though I don't really like the band, seems like a large oversight to go 17 years without hearing it) in that it starts off all folksy but then a balls out guitar riff comes to save the day... but it's a lot less pretentious than "Stairway To Heaven." Not necessarily saying it's *better* than the Led Zep classic, since I'm sure that would be a dangerous opinion to have in certain circles, but still.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I need some sympathy.

Today sucked balls. I am coming down with my annual cold from hell... where I go through about 20 boxes of tissues and am rendered pretty much incapable of doing anything.

I think I have moved from the "nose is a constantly running faucet" portion of the cold to the "every body part doesn't work" portion. My legs are weak, I'm probably running a temperature, and my body as a whole keeps fluctuating between thinking it's too hot and it's too cold.

Also, I had to go to the dentist today, which meant that I had things stuck in my throat for 3 hours... you know, while also not being able to breathe out of my nose.

I ended up driving back home, partly because I didn't want to be miserable and alone in my small little abode (and partly because I needed to do laundry, and it's free at home). My mom is out of town, though... helping my sister move from Texas to Tennessee... so I still have to take care of myself. Not that I need to be babied or anything, but it's nice when you're not feeling well and someone else makes you a little bit of comfort food. So... maybe I like being babied a little.

I have no point to this, really. I just need to complain.

Friday, January 6, 2012

NFL playoff predictions

I have the right to revise these as I go along, so I can have the Packers winning whenever the Saints get knocked out.

Basically, I want to be right, and I'm pretty certain it's going to be one of those two teams winning it this year.

Anyway, let's do it one round at a time:

WILD CARD:
SAINTS/LIONS: Lions just got wasted by Matt Flynn. Not going to fare much better against the non-Aaron-Rodgers-MVP and the team that's been unstoppable at the Superdome. WINNER: SAINTS.
GIANTS/FALCONS: I'm pretty sure the Giants only lost to really good teams or bad teams this year. Fortunately for them, the Falcons are just okay... WINNER: GIANTS.
TEXANS/BENGALS: Running game, defense, Texans. Also, the Bengals never do anything once they get into the playoffs, and seemed to mostly benefit from an easy schedule. WINNER: TEXANS.
BRONCOS/STEELERS: Look, I know I'm going to get this game wrong, no matter what I pick. If I pick the Steelers because they could possibly be the AFC's best team despite the Big Ben injury, the Broncos are going to complete the storybook ending and defeat the hated Steelers. If I pick the Broncos, I'll look stupid because they kind of suck. So there's really only one obvious solution. WINNER: BOTH.

DIVISIONAL ROUND:
PACKERS/GIANTS: It would be glorious to have a repeat of the 2007 NFC championship. But... yeah, no. WINNER: PACKERS.
49ERS/SAINTS: Well, I sort of picked the Saints to represent the NFC at the beginning of the season (I may have changed it to the Cardinals just to try to correctly call the sleeper team emerging, which also failed in the AFC with my Browns pick. Obviously I picked the wrong NFC West team). So I'm going with them. It was a good run, though, 49ers. I'll be sort of cheering for you nonetheless. WINNER: SAINTS
RAVENS/TEXANS: So the Texans faltered down the stretch, but... I don't really like the Ravens, and I don't think Joe Flacco is capable of contributing a clutch performance in these high pressure situations. I mean, if I were betting on just a straight head-to-head game, I'd take the Ravens, but... what the hell. WINNER: TEXANS
PATRIOTS/STEELERS: The Patriots aren't *really* that good, and I don't believe they beat a team with a winning record all year, but... Big Ben is hobbled, and the Patriots have enough to put the dagger in the heart. WINNER: PATRIOTS

OR

PATRIOTS/BRONCOS: Well, obviously... Tim Tebow is meant to take on the villainous New England Patriots and finally vanquish them to the delight of the country. This was how it was meant to happen all along. WINNER: BRONCOS

CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES:
PACKERS/SAINTS: Packers are most likely going to win it all, but they haven't been as sharp the last half of the season as they were in the first. Meanwhile, the Saints have gotten better and won 8 straight. And I sort of picked them to win the NFC. WINNER: SAINTS

PATRIOTS/TEXANS: Well... I'm not going to go with TJ Yates/Jake Delhomme over Tom Brady. I don't really know why this is my AFC championship, though... rather uninspiring. WINNER: PATRIOTS

OOOOOOOOOOR:

PATRIOTS/BRONCOS: I know my alternate scenario just had the Broncos beating the Patriots in the Divisional round, but obviously it needs to happen on a bigger stage. So the Bengals beat the Texans, the Broncos face the slightly less-villainous Ravens in the divisional round, beat them. And then Tim Tebow slays the mighty dragon. WINNER: BRONCOS

SUPER BOWL:

SAINTS/PATRIOTS: About 600 points are scored. And every passing record is broken thrice.
WINNER: SAINTS

OOOOOOOOOOORRRR:
BRONCOS/LIONS: Well, obviously if the Broncos make it this far, the story needs to save the biggest villain for last. And obviously the Patriots/Steelers are hard to top. But the Lions are the NFC's most unlikable team (objectively speaking, of course... subjectively, it's obviously the Packers). But they need a little work...

So, in route to the Super Bowl, Ndamukong Suh runs over some Packer fans after beating their team, makes some tasteless Hurricane Katrina jokes in beating the Saints, and... I don't know, punts a baby.

Then Tim Tebow can prevail.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New year and all that.

I didn't really do much for the day, because I rarely do... and I worked when the calendar changed over. I did watch the Vikings game, however... and tried to enjoy it as much as I could knowing that there was no certainty that they were going to stay in Minnesota (although a lot of what I've read indicated that they might stay an extra year to get a deal done.)

It wasn't that enjoyable, because a) we lost, and b) we have no idea whether or not we have a viable starting QB. (Could be that we need to shore up the offensive line to give Ponder some time/protection... but he looked pretty miserable the last few games and certainly got banged up a lot.) But it was somewhat enjoyable seeing Allen go crazy for a while and come extremely close to getting the 4.5 sacks needed to break the single season sacks record. (Despite my decidedly mixed feelings toward Jared Allen.)

I'm already over the Vikings, though. Cause the Minnesota Timberwolves are relevant for the first time in 8 years!

Backstory: the Wolves were my favorite team until about age 10 in early 1998, when the Vikings somehow pulled off a victory against the Giants in the playoffs, down 9 with about 90 seconds left. But they stayed dear to my heart as Garnett emerged as one of the league's best players, and went on to make 7 or 8 straight playoff appearances (they only advanced past the first round once, but still). Then the team sort of imploded, and I went off to college, and I wasn't able to follow them as closely as I used to. All of this is to say that I don't want to appear like a bandwagoner.

Anyway, they're good now. Or at least they look decent. I know the last couple years they got off to decent starts only to absolutely bottom out at the end of the season, but we have a competent coach now, plus much more talent on this squad.

We still have Kevin Love (who looks like he's added lights-out 3 point shooting to his amazing knack for rebounding), but it seemed unlikely even last year that we'd be able to put enough talent around him to entice him to actually stay here. And we don't have enough... yet. But we're getting there.

The most crucial addition has been obviously Rubio, who has shown an innate ability to absolutely take over a game at any given point with his ability to pass to pretty much anyone, along with his apparently newly developed shooting touch. It's only 5 games into his rookie season, but he's showing promise of becoming just as good of a player as Love, which is crucial, because having 2 legit stars makes winning in the league much easier. Plus we have another promising rookie in Derrick Williams, who looks at least to develop into a solid contributor. Add in a couple quality role players (Barea, Tolliver, Ridnour if he came off the bench), and we're looking as if we could make a run towards the playoffs.

Of course, as much as Love and Rubio might make you appreciate quality basketball, we have a bunch of players that will madden you with bad basketball (Wes Johnson seemingly does nothing, Randolph has been inconsistent, and Beasley has a maddening ability to jack up a lot of contested 20-foot jumpers over the course of the game), but we have a decent foundation for the first time in ages. I don't know if we've got enough to make a postseason run this year (especially since I can't imagine any of last year's playoff teams not making it this year (except the Hornets, but they'll be replaced with the Clippers), but we're going to be extremely watchable until the very end. Which is good. Because the state needs a team that looks actually promising.