This CANNOT Be Emphasized Enough

Around the holidays many a gift giver is picking up the latest and greatest in 1080p high definition entertainment. My father, for example, is about to lay down his wallet for this. Of course, I had to remind dad that when buying his new Mantown centerpiece, he should not forget to buy the HDMI cable.

And as a reminder to dad or anyone else on your list (I know that 52-inch Samsung listed under gift ideas for "Cousin Ed" is merely a code for "self giting"), remeber this...

As endorsed by CNet (and the entertainment geekdom as a whole)- do NOT under any circumstance, even at the risk of illness, dismemberment or even (however unlikely) death, do NOT ever- and I mean NEVER- buy expensive HDMI cables.


JC Penney Coupons

In the spirit of the holidays, I came across a couple of good coupons for JC Penney. Not my particular store du jour, but a popular one nonetheless. (Admittedly, I do use one staple item from there, though I will not say what.)

Here's 15% off your order...

And this coupon rocks that one. Here's $10 off $25 or more- translation: that's OVER 15% off an order up to $65. So, you spend $65 or less, use this link. You spend over $65, use the above coupon.



A Bird in Hand...

Literally. This was a picture taken at random at our house. We have a screened in porch with a hole in the door created by/for the dogs. Occasionally a wandering feathered friend finds its way onto the porch.

We take great care in releasing them back into the wild when it happens. We just happened this time to have the children and grandpa taken by the wonder of this small creature. The lighting, the positioning, the bird... it all just struck me as so perfect in the moment. All taken with the default settings on my (awesome) Canon SD850 IS. Best point-and-shoot there is in my opinion. How can you argue with results such as this...


The Greatest

Here's a song performed by Kenny Rogers, with lyrics by Don Schlitz, that my kids listen to all the time in the car, as it is on a home-made CD from a relative. It took me a few times (half) listening to it before I realized the sincerity and humor in the song. But it grew on me and now I truly enjoy it, so I though I would share its lyrics here...

Little Boy, in a baseball hat
Stands in the field with his ball and bat
Says I am the greatest player of them all
Puts his bat on his shoulder and he tosses up his ball

And the ball goes up and the ball comes down
Swings his bat all the way around
The world's so still you can hear the sound
The baseball falls to the ground

Now the little boy doesn't say a word
Picks up his ball, he is undeterred
Says I am the greatest there has ever been
And he grits his teeth and he tries it again

And the ball goes up and the ball comes down
Swings his bat all the way around
The world's so still you can hear the sound
The baseball falls to the ground

He makes no excuses, He shows no fears
He just closes his eyes and listens to the cheers

Little boy, he adjusts his hat
Picks up his ball, stares at his bat
Says I am the greatest the game is on the line
And he gives his all one last time

And the ball goes up like the moon so bright
Swings his bat with all his might
And the world's so still as still can be
And the baseball falls, and that's strike three

Now it's supper time and his mama calls
Little boy starts home with his bat and ball
Says I am the greatest that is a fact
But even I didn't know I could pitch like that


Yeah, But Can He Do Impressions?

Ever wonder how or better yet, who- makes all those crazy detailed collectors' toys (like MacFarlane's action figures, or MArvel and DC character statues)? Well, wonder no more. Meet Ray Villafane, who does it for a living. And before Halloween, the guy tricks out a few pumpkins for sport (like the one below).


Brodeur Hearts Avery

So, you think ol' Marty has forgotten last year's playoffs?


Not Many People Are Like "Bucci"

I love John Buccigross from ESPN. I like him for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is he is, thus far, not over-exposed as a studio or anchor guy (take note: Stuart, Chris, Scott, et al); He sticks to what he loves, not just what he knows- i.e., his words are either: a) passionate b) insightful or c) both. Too often these sports "experts" are going through the motions. "Bucci" does not.

So what does he know (and love)? He knows (and loves) hockey. Outside of the NHL broadcasts (NHL network, Vs., and NBC), there are few guys in the analysts ranks that are "hockey guys". Bucci is one. Not just because he knows the game, but because he loves the game. He's a fan first, before he is a commentator.

I bring this up because he wrote the following and it's totally, unequivocally, a hockey guy observation that is one of those, "you need to be one (a hockey guy) to get it" moments:

"Fighting also achieves one very important thing for the NHL: It makes the sport stand out in a media world of white noise. No other sport allows bare-knuckle fighting, and no other team sport allows fighting with such a small penalty as a five-minute timeout in a small box complete with towels, ice and beverages. There is even a guy in the penalty box who appears as if he could give you excellent tax advice or 401(k) reassurance."

People that don't "get" hockey won't appreciate that paragraph as much as those that do- especially those that have played the game. That's why I love Bucci. He's a total insider that can pull off being just another fan better than anybody. As long as you get the joke. I'm glad I do.


Way to Go Mr. Probst

What a statement about business versus pop culture versus world events this USOC Chairman selection is.


A FAN-tastic idea

I have soured a bit on Bill Simmons ramblings- er... writings as of late. But this segment in his latest ESPN the Magazine piece is worth of attention. The best sports marketing idea I have heard in some time.

"New Rule: Playground rules for the NBA All-Star Game. Ever since the idea of having captains pick sides started to circulate, in February, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Let's say Stern names Kobe and LeBron as captains. Right before the game we have a coin flip, and the winner gets first pick. The All-Stars line up, and Kobe and LeBron pick their teams playground-style. Imagine the drama. Who'd get picked first? Would a snubbed player end up wreaking havoc in the game? Would bad blood carry over to the rest of the season? God forbid something fun happened on All-Star Weekend."

How cool would that be? Even better would be letting 2 fans be the captains, decided by a raffle-style, free contest on NBA.com and by ballot at NBA games. What NBA fan- neigh- what sports fan would NOT enter this? It would be like the ultimate fantasy league, Xbox NBA Live, fantasy camp, half-court contest at intermission, draft/lottery pick show, All-Star voting hybrid. A sure-fire, guaranteed ploy to lure at least 5% more of the total U.S. population to tune in to at least the opening of the game to see the results.

To paraphrase Simmons- this needs to happen.


The Past, the Present and the Future- Your Brooklyn Nets

If anyone has been paying attention to the NBA the past few years, there are some serious omens in this picture. Imagine this conversation? It probably went something like this.

J. Kidd: Yeah 'Bron, I'm tellin' you man, this dog right here is tha man. I LOVED workin for Jay-Z, man. If it weren't for my ridiculous contract hamperin' Jay's team building, they'd be contenders by now, man. But ain't nuthin stoppin' 'em in 2010, man.

Jay-Z: Aw, man, thanks, brother. Like I've been tellin' my boy here, "'Bron, you ain't got nuthin there in C-town, man." Come Awn Man! Feel me dawg! B-town is THE home of 'Bron in 2010! I already made this team better on the J-Kidd savings plan, bro. Then I sent Jefferson's ass outta here. And look at our kids, man- Lopez, CD-R and we bring Yi along? As soon as I get V.C. off the books, bro, we got ya back.

LeBron: Well you know fellas, I'm not sayin' nuthin' til my contract expires. I'll just play all out for 2 more seasons, push for the first all-season trip-dub since O.R. to get my team to the playoffs, bitch at the deadline that I need a better guard combo than Delonte West, B-Gib, and Mo Williams and make subtle comments to worry our fans that Big Z in the middle is as soft as Beyonce's booty after Jay here is done, man. But other than that, I got no comment on 2010.

J. Kidd: Hey, just don't forget me- by 2010, I'll settle for 10th man in Brooklyn after I burn out another back court in Dallas like I did Jersey because I am losing about a step every game on defense and I could never shoot anyway. 'Bron/Kidd in 2010!

Jay-Z: Okay Jay, I gotcha covered under the veteran's exemption, man. Just make sure you don't go gettin' bitch-slapped around your Brooklyn pad like them days in Jersey with your Ex, man. That shit just ain't right- Beyonce'll think she got some say in our relationship if she sees that shit goin' on.

J. Kidd: Okay man, I feel you. So 'Bron, man...

J. Kidd and Jay-Z turn their heads sideways at LeBron

Jay-Z: You in?

LeBron: Like I said, we'll *wink* talk in 2010.

Note: The above conversation is purely speculative and fictitious and is not intended to represent any factual information that was disseminated by any party.
Except for the part about J. Kidd getting bitch-slapped by his Ex. That we know, allegedly, happened.


The Olympics Might be Underway, but....

...so is the Fall shopping season. A few posts back I mentioned it is back-to-school time (not for me, but 'tis the season). Well, if you want an Olympic-sized event, try the ads being put out by the top designers. And at the same time, take note of the styles- there's a lot to learn from.


A Name to Know... Margiela

This is a name to know (if you do not already) for menswear . And now the Belgian designer is getting into sneakers. And these offerings, like his clothes line, are understated yet forward-thinking all at once.


Summer.... Blink and You'll Miss It

Which is not a bad thing in my opinion. To celebrate the coming of August- which in turn means back-to-school shopping and Fall clothing lines debuting soon- I saw this sweater and instantly thought, "Cold weather cannot come soon enough."

I love Fall clothes. I love the ability to layer and add a little more sprezzatura than (at least) I do in the Summer. Summertime is not (as) conducive to strokes of sartorial genius simply due to the limitations in wardrobe the hot weather dictates- especially among us working class citizens. I get too warm in anything more than a cotton button-down and cotton khakis. I try to mix in blended or stretch wools (read: partly synthetic) that lend a little comfort and style in my pants selection for Summer, but still- to pull off anything heavier turns me into a puddle. I know experts such as Scott Schulman or Glenn O'Brien might argue accessorizing (with watches, fanciful belts, bracelets, accents of a different color, etc.) to offset the more limited wardrobe. But I still cannot shake the greater enthusiasm I have for Fall style.

In honor of the pending cooler weather and Fall collections, I found several garments coming to a store near you that caught my eye lately. I haven't been a student for years, but I can honestly say, bring on Labor Day!

And here's an ensemble for my kid come the Fall...
UPDATE: This leather jacket (see below) by French Connection rocks out- very modern, yet timeless. Something French Connection is REALLY good at is nailing today's styles for a modest sum. This bomber is spot on for today's man in black. Gosh, that sounds like an advert.


Now THIS is crazy...

Jack Bauer still rules, even if he hasn't been on TV for over a year. But where do we draw the line?



David Versus Goliath

Starbucks is was everywhere. With the closing of 600 U.S. stores, the coffee giant has shown that even it is not invincible in these tough economic times. But that does not mean local coffee shops have to struggle too. The above link is a good article about local bean brewing proprietors who stay open and thrive- even against the big 'ol siren of coffee.

This is a
cool slideshow to compliment the article.



Josh Hamilton

Most ridiculous HR Derby round ever? Sure. But that was also a transcedent moment for MLB in this 2008 season.


Why now?

Because I simply haven't bothered b4 this.

hIT List

I hadn't done one in a while so, without further ado...
After I looked back at this list, I realized it represents a bit of cross-media (audio/video, book reading, Web surfing) and sums up my interests right now pretty well- clothes/fashion, electronics, food/travel and sports. Not a bad list of interests at all in my opinion.


Iceberg... NOT the Lettuce

I have been rather fashion-heavy in my posts lately- blame in on the 2009 Men's Spring Collections on preview in Europe right now. But I could not pass this one up.

Remember this label:

It's the first (and I think only) line of menswear I have ever seen on the runway reviews where I think I would buy virtually all of the line. It just looks fantastic and wearable and, well... real.

Too often, these designers go for an exotic theme or a shock & awe or some unrealistic interpretation of what men (American men at least) would wear on a daily basis. I know, I know, the designer/fashion crowd is innately eccentric, so expect to see "ready-to-wear" clothing that might not be so "retail-ready" or mass-consumer-focused.

But OK, I
still want clothes I can look at that say, "YOU can wear this." Otherwise, I am not buying and not becoming brand loyal. If Paolo Gerani (creative director at Iceberg) can continue to put this "eminently wearable" (h/t: Josh Peskowitz) to bed every season, I'll be his biggest fan.


Now THIS would be cool.

With all the technology we have, I do not see why this is not as promising as it sounds. Oh, that's right, too many Detroit hands in Washington political pockets.


And Another Thing...

The Men's Spring 2009 Fashion Week is happening right now across Milan, Florence (Pitti Uomo), and Paris. I saw this black suit in the latest Calvin Klein Collection and thought to myself, "that is how to make a great looking basic suit today." The fit, the narrow (and peak!) lapel, the sheen. It's complete. I'd buy it, no question- something I cannot say often with these fashion show samples.

Then if you look closer- it is a far more forward-thinking suit than first glance will tell you.
Look at the material, it looks textured. If you follow the reviews of the collection, the designer (Italo Zucchelli) uses "cotton perforated like Airtex". Strange, given the shimmer of the clothing. What a great illusion. And a great look.

Sean Avery Gets It

As a hockey fan and ongoing participant (played the game since I was 5), I am not sure I expected this from Sean Avery. But knowing his visage is always in a photo or two snapped at fashion events, galas, charity dinners, etc., I am not surprised by it either. In fact, it raises my opinion of him just a bit.

An NHL enforcer has some sartorial style. Go ahead NOW say something funny about a guy who appreciates fashion.
You know, if a guy who dates girls like Elisha Cuthbert, wasn't proof enough fashionable men are appreciated right back.



This is a great "30,000 foot view" piece on how to make a Website successful from a design standpoint. I have always been a proponent of "less is more"- especially with web design. This article from BusinessWeek has some great points.

Add to that this "Best of/Worst of" slide show and it gives you a better visual understanding of the aforementioned article's talking points.


Changing the Way We View Entertainment

Originally, the comment below was just a simple retort to another blogger's commentary about the merger of ESPN Classic and the NFL (as reported in this weekend's Wall Street Journal) and what that relationship potentially means for both parties and the viewers/fans.

But in super-fast, 30-second retrospect, I think there is a waaaaaaay bigger picture here that will need to be addressed more fully. Essentially, in my response, I wrote:

At first glance, I think the problem for ESPN/NFL will come when they realize they no longer have anyone to push either of them to be better. NFL Network's debut a couple of years ago had them striving to be the "ESPN" of singular sports coverage (and personally I do not think have yet achieved it, though their product is improving).

In a weird way, it's what happened to the WWE (WWF) when they bought WCW. Monopolies generate a substandard product.

I find that's the case already with ESPN broadcasts- like the pros they cover, too often their talent takes plays off.

And I think it is all irrelevant anyway- mid to long-term, it's all going to be open distribution via Internet anyway. You can't stop it, the "Bigs" (ESPN, NFL, MLB, etc.) are just playing tug-o-war until high speed connectivity is as broad as cable access (and as affordable as cable alone).

Until then, they will just keep playing with each other to keep busy.

The global broadcast ping pong game that happens now is all irrelevant in the big picture that is sports television, television and entertainment in general. You see it now in the way sports is reported and the dissemination of news and in the way we take in our information and piece it together in fast ADD-like snippets (like this blog). It's what the major "broadcast" studios, and film studios, and writers' unions and actors' guilds and anyone who is anyone who has a stake in the future of public viewing consumption knows- the future for your eyeballs rests online, NOT in your cable box.

Distribution rights of digital media is the name of the game. Not this baby-step play-nicely-in-the-sandbox innuendo in which juggernauts like ESPN and the NFL are currently partaking. It all leads to the bigger footprint that is Digital Rights Management (DRM). The music industry is already entrenched in it. Hell, thank Steve Jobs for what the TV guys are pandering about now. They saw the future and it is iTunes-or more specifically, the idea behind iTunes.

It's why NBC Universal and the other TV giants are no longer playing the "Fall Premiere" card to the Nth degree and have decided fresh content 365 days a year to is better than pouring all your eggs in 1 basket and futilely driving the same "loyal" eyeballs (read: target demographic) to that basket over and over again. It's why 24 hours after you watch the latest episode of your favorite weekly shows that you can download them or stream them to your laptop, desktop, and mobile device.

People want access on demand to content they desire. That's it. It's simple. iTunes? Nah... iCandy. Mental/emotional brain fodder. It's the psychologically driven search for stimulation and satisfaction that keeps network execs up at night trying to create the next "ghost in the machine" that can successfully (i.e., financially) tap into our individual consumption epicenter.

It's why there are downloads and streaming and push for DRM-free content. People want what they want. The "Bigs" will give it to them (eventually). But they need something in return too. It's why radio succumbed to TV commercials which gave way to banner ads that gave way to click-before-you-watch/read/buy ads, the "Googling" of the Internet search engines and now streaming ads before you download pretty much anything. It's what they always have wanted. Your hard-earned dollar. We have less of them, for sure, to spend indiscriminately. Which makes those dollars you do spend on entertainment all the more valuable to the powers-that-be.

Ask yourself, "If I had just $50 left to spend this month for my own personal satisfaction, how do I choose to spend it?". It is no longer a bottomless pit, where the consumer could keep upping their consumption of goods and services and the entertainment industry could just take take take. Now the pie is finite. The share of voice that has always been measurable, but it is no longer expanding. It is more like hypertrophy- where the market is growing in on itself.

In marketing there are principles that preach essentially 2 ways to gain market share- grow the market and create new opportunity, or steal the other guys' share. Well, now it's almost as if the pie stopped expanding, but there are more slices to the pie (read: more networks, more portals, more games, etc.). And because your discretionary dollars are shrinking, even if the number of consumers expands there is no growth, but rather a slowing of sorts as inflation of the same dollar values stagnates the entertainment industry (hypertrophy), but also diversifies it.

So everything is cutthroat. But in a good way, because if you go back to my earliest point- regarding ESPN and the NFL- a monopoly creates an inferior product. Plato's quote that "necessity is the mother of invention" scarily still rings true. Today, competition breeds the necessity to be better- to build a better mousetrap- in order to secure the consumer's financial choices. That necessity is breeding online into media distribution that will astonish us, but in the end, require us to choose how we give up our last 50 bucks.

I know there are a lot of points mashed into one post here, but I think that also helps illuminate the point... SO much is going on in digital media that it has created this clog that will take time to filter. And probably there will be more than 1 sieve to successfully pan all the gold out of consumers, but the point is still the same. Somebody in the entertainment industry wants your discretionary dollar and the ones that are the most enterprising to accomodate you, will win it.


A Pause to Reflect

I have yet to express any reaction to the Celtics winning their 17th NBA Championship. So much has been written and covered, and the angles and perspectives are just vast. My own silence has just been more of a quiet satisfaction rather than a loss for words.

But I do not need to express how I feel. I did not win the championship. I am a fan, I appreciate what the home team has done (as has their football and baseball counterparts in the last decade) to climb to the top. And there's nothing better than the guys who did it taking a moment to reflect away from all the other slants and fanfare. This clip of KG and PP is great because it's honest and from their hearts.


The Dark Knight

I'm a bit of a comics and sci-fi geek, a sad result of growing up in Generation X whose denizens are the first-born recipients of the mass-media push of these genres (see: Superman: The Movie, Star Wars trilogy, Star Trek movies, original Battlestar Galactica series, Batman: Year One/The Dark Knight Returns graphic novels, etc.).

In anticipation of the sequel to the nearly perfect comic-to-feature-film "Batman Begins", "The Dark Knight", Warner Bros. is launching a new animated series directly to DVD, "Batman: The Gotham Knight" the week prior to the launch of the silver screen release (What cohesion! What marketing!).

At any rate, there are some stills of this new animated feature on IGN (posted back in February) as well as 2 more recent videos. The tone is appreciably darker (like the live-action movies) versus the older Batman animation (e.g., the superb "Batman: The Animated Series"). And wow, it looks impressive. And these preview images and videos got me even more psyched for "The Dark Knight" (for which I was already amply jacked up).

Quick note: David Goyer who (along with director Chris Nolan) wrote and produced the new Batman feature films, also has his hand writing/producing this version (as does Alan Burnett of the aforementioned, "Batman the Animated Series" production). That can only mean tried and true Bat-goodness. See? I am a geek for this stuff.

P.S. Here also is the latest trailer for "The Dark Knight". Enjoy.


He Stands Alone

Tiger Wins His 14th Major Championship.

On a bum knee.

After 5 rounds and 1 hole.



The Comeback C'ids- Celtics 97 Laker 91

Improbable? Yes. Unlikely? Yes. And YES. Unprecedented? Definitely. But the Celtics come-from-behind victory, on the road in L.A., down by 18 at the half was also historic, monumental, and down right awesome.

After the 3rd quarter and the start of the Celtics destined victory, I wrote the following:

So glad I stayed awake because the Celtics are about to show if they have what it takes to finish this series as champions. The reason the Celtics started playing well is three-fold... 1) they finally (FINALLY) started posting up KG against inferior defenders in Gasol and Odom. 2) They used the KG post up game to work inside out and 3) they actually started hitting their shots. P.S. If Paul Pierce works as hard the rest of the series as he did in the 3rd quarter, he'll be Finals MVP.

While I still think Paul Pierce cemented his Finals MVP selection with a 4th quarter as impressive as his 3rd quarter, I had more time to think about why the Celtics pulled off this win. And while I still believe my above points hold true (post game and hitting shots off the KG interior kick outs not to mention spreading the floor with shooters), I do not think they are the reason the Lakers could not close the deal.

Blame Kobe Bryant.

The "New Kobe" stuck around too long. You know, the unselfish Kobe, who, in the 1st half, despite only putting up 3 points (on 3 of 4 FT), managed to have his team up by 18 at the half because he did what championship-caliber superstars do when the opponents' total game plan revolves around the superstar- he drew double teams, passed out to open shooters, and played great defense. But then the 2nd half started, and you know what? The "New Kobe" stuck around too long. The problem was "New Kobe" did not have the same teammates around him in the 3rd and 4th quarters that stretched the floor and hit every open jumper in the 1st half. Kobe was once again joined by merely average teammates on the floor- ones capable of giving away a commanding lead in the game and, more importantly, tying this series at 2 games apiece.

When that starts to happen, when the roof starts caving in on a team, championship-caliber superstars take the game into their own hands and stave off a worst-case-scenario defeat. They become the game. They become super-DUPER-stars. They become heroic, when they are needed most. (Ironically, this NBA Finals has been promoted gratuitously and tied into the move "Hancock" with Will Smith in the lead as a reluctant superhero who first has to be nearly belligerent before he finds the value in championing for the good.) Wow, if that's not a parallel to Kobe Bryant, I do not know what is.

Anyway, back to the game. Where was "Old Kobe" when the Lakers needed him?
The poltergeist that possessed Lamar Odom's body and made it shoot 7-for-7, in the 1st half and net 15 points decided L.O.'s body was just too damn useless in the 2nd half to stick around.

And Pau Gasol? Has this guy even shown up in this series? I mean, I know there was a guy who's 7 feet tall standing on the court, but for all I know it could have been some stilts-walker from 1 of the 9,999,961 versions of Cirque du Soleil playing in Vegas in town to catch the game. The only time I saw Gasol break to the basket was to hop- seriously, he did not even jump- over Ray Allen once and another time happened to be moving forward and I think at the last minute realized he was actually moving faster than he anticipated and ran into the paint where, through no fault of his own, received a pass from (who else?) Kobe for an easy jam. Again, "New Kobe" relying on his teammates not to f**k things up.

So then "New Kobe" could not gear it up and morph into "Old Kobe" when his team needed him most- the 4th quarter. "Old Kobe" was powerless to stop the onslaught of the Celtics' shooters and KG posting up. He had no help and no rhythm to his shooting. You can blame 0-3 shooting in the first half leading to his poor 6-19 night for 17 points, but the switch to Paul Pierce on Bryant in the second half was a real difference maker. Perhaps it was this defensive assignment that handcuffed "Old Kobe" long enough from shedding the poor shooting to ensure Boston doing what the Lakers could not in Game 2- closing the gap of a large deficit (22 points in the case of the Lakers), taking the lead, and hanging onto said lead to close the game.

Whatever the factors, this game was as much about Kobe Bryant being "un-Kobe-like" in the 4th quarter. And that means the Celtics just put themselves up 3-1 in this NBA Finals. Teams up 3-1 in the NBA Finals are 28-0 all-time in NBA history. And regardless of how many more games it takes for the C's to claim a statistically-proven-yet-not-guaranteed (my attempt not to jinx this) 17th title, Pierce should be MVP simply because he didn't let "Old Kobe" show up in Game 4.

So give credit to Paul Pierce and the Celtics for an amazing win. But do not let Kobe- old or new- off the hook. Last night, he was merely another citizen when a city needed its hero.

Paul Pierce might have been possessed in the 2nd half of Game 4 by the
same demon that took over Lamar Odom's body earlier in the game. Sorry L.O.


Lakers 73 Celtics 71 After 3 Quarters

The Celtics just went on a 21-3 run to end the 3rd quarter in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. That erased a ridiculous lead the Lakers had maintained for 2 and 1/2 quarters. So glad I stayed awake because the Celtics are about to show if they have what it takes to finish this series as champions.

The reason the Celtics started playing well is three-fold... 1) they finally (FINALLY) started posting up KG against inferior defenders in Gasol and Odom. 2) They used the KG post up game to work inside out and 3) they actually started hitting their shots.

P.S. If Paul Pierce works as hard the rest of the series as he did in the 3rd quarter, he'll be Finals MVP.

The New NHL.com

The NHL has really stepped up it's "game" on its website. Tonight's NHL awards show has a slew of pre-ceremony goodness on NHL.com. Here's the current "NHL Hour" with Gary Bettman. Guest will be Jarome Iginla (awesome by the way).


Sony's New HT-CT100 Home Theater

They may not be "mainstream" yet, but the virtual surround soundbar speaker systems beginning to proliferate the home theater market are, in my mind, the next wave of "intelligent design meets practical application" in media enjoyment.

Ever since the first high-end models of these bad boys started surfacing several years ago, I have had my eye on them as a great way to minimize media hardware clutter and get a clean look to your system. The biggest suspicion (mostly correct) is that, unless you pay HUGE bucks for the best of the best, the virtual surround sound is about as surrounding as a baby's diaper on an adult. That stereotype (no pun intended) may be about to change.

Enter Sony's sub-$300 HT-CT100.

I may just have to add this 1 to my shopping cart.



I am not so much a car aficionado as much as I am a car enthusiast. Translation? I can't afford to buy 'em, so I just gawk and stare at cars I'd love to own, but haven't the cash flow. The latest example batting around my wish list is this...

The Nissan GT-R.

Any car inspired by a video game (Gran Turismo) has GOT to be worth the price of admission- in this case about $72k.

What you get: 480HP to go 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 193MPH. Yeah, she's fast.


A True Championship

Despite all the story lines, bylines, highlights, re-runs, re-treads, and arguments pro and con about a Celtics/Lakers 2008 NBA Final, let's call it what it really is... Justified.

The Eastern Conference's #1 seed versus the Western Conference's #1 seed. Enough said.

Throughout these playoffs there have been moments of angst for both squads (maybe more anxious minutes for the Celtics, but at this point no one should be counting). But to say it is only good for the over-30 crowd who remembers this great rivalry in its prime is a bit short-sighted.

Here's the thing about the Celts/Lakers match-up that I think gets missed.
It's not reliant on nostalgia alone. The NBA loves this Finals because YES, it does rope in the over 30 crowd.

But it ALSO ropes in the current generation of fans (and passive observers alike) because it features the NBA's reigning MVP (Bryant), the sports' biggest off-season storyline (the Celts Big 3), the biggest trade deadline deal that put the Lakers here (Gasol), and 2 of the longest tenured players on the teams that drafted them (Bryant/Pierce).

It is the absolute culmination of the NBA's hoped-for pedigree- history, franchise players, smart trades, and top seeds.

Really, stop angling just for the old school match-up and appreciate this a a true championship final. The NBA... where justified happens.

UPDATE: I have an on-going discuss
ion on another website regarding the nostalgia factor versus the NBA's true ROI having a Lakers/Celtics finale. The latest argument was that today's "casual" NBA-watcher does not care about the current state of the NBA and the story's involved (that I outlined above). Thus the NBA gurus hope nostalgia drives ratings of this Finals. Here's my latest (and greatest I think) point to date... NO WAY!

Here's the thing... a casual fan today is not just some schmo that was old enough to remember 1987 (the last time these 2 teams met in the Finals).

In marketing terms, the Holy Grail is turning casual fans into avid fans (i.e., the fans that will pay for any and all things related to the sport and their team).

The NBA needs to convert this (the younger) generation's casual fan because they get a longer "shelf-life" out of that new/younger convert's discretionary dollar than they do the guy that already made up his mind in 1987.

So it definitely is about more than nostalgia. Just ask the front office brain trust of the NBA who balance the books.


...But First, the News

I have opinions, emotions, retrospectives, and even prognostications regarding the Celtics Game 6 victory in Detroit to close the deal on their much-expected trip to the 2008 NBA Finals, but before we get there, I just witnessed one of the greatest goals I have seen in ice hockey in a long while.

Mark it down: Game 4 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. Marin Hossa scores the 1st goal of the game at 17:00 of the first period by stuffing a short-side rebound by Chris Osgood's left pad. Just 3 minutes in, Hossa displays some of the sickest hands and fastest wrists I have ever seen on the ice. I've played hockey for 30 years, and I have not seen a guy stuff a puck in such a tight space in such a lightning fast moment more than twice before (vaguely recalling here Jagr in his prime and the other I cannot picture- Forsberg maybe?).

Anyway, it needs to be an ESPN Top 10 play ASAP tonight/tomorrow and preserved as a Youtube moment forever.

Seriously... check it out.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program (Celtics post forthcoming).


The "hIT" List Returns

I used to have a widget in the old format of this blog that was called the "hIT list". It usually covered 5 or so links to stuff (products, software, electronics, articles, etc.) I found relevant- at least to me. Well, in honor of that list, from time to time, I will post a few links to things that struck me as relevant. Totally subjective, but I hope you find some of them useful (or at least interesting). So, without further ado... The hIT List:
  • Reality is MUCH scarier than anything on TV.
  • Agree or disagree, this list is a real thought provoker. (Well, not really, but for a generation of video game geeks, it's pretty funny with a couple of, "damn right" statements sprinkled in.)
  • If you do not read the Consumerist, you are missing out.
  • You simply must appreciate scientific pictures like this one of a solar flare that can be found at NASA's website in the Images of the Day section. Wow.

Do You HDTV?

For those of you with an HDTV (on February 17, 2009, that means everyone in the U.S. based on this), CNET has an awesome link to help you with your HDTV calibration settings for over 80 models of TVs on the market dating back as far as 2006.

If you want the quick background, here's the CNET staff member who does the calibrations blogging about it.


A "No-No" with No Shortage of Storylines

I am glad that the point of Varitek being "tha man" behind the plate (modern record catching 4 no-no's) was not lost in the post-game and today's coverage of Jon Lester's no-hitter... it was 1 of my 1st thoughts when the Sox recorded the final out that it probably has been as much Varitek's diligence as it has been his pitchers' talent over his reign behind the Sox' plate.

Incidentally- Theo's "development machine" seems to be coming to fruition... Lester, Buchholz and (tonight's starter) Masterson are the "early returns" for a club that went from wasteful spenders (read: Dan Duquette Era) to "2 Rings in 4 Years".
Lester's cancer story, the no-hitters, the kids (Ellsbury, Lester, Buchholz, Masterson, Lowrie...), Lowell's fit in Boston, Papelbon as closer... these are the quality stories behind the overplayed Red Sox Nation-type stuff (Yankees, big payroll, etc.).

If you saw the post-game congratulatory pig-pile and line of hugs, you understand how far Red Sox Nation has come.


We've All Been There (right?)

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while by far...

AMP Walk of No Shame Ad


C's go up 3-2 on Cavs

The picture above says it all. The Rajon Rondo show hit Boston last night, and the Celtics 2nd year point guard absolutely stole the spotlight over fantastic games from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

KG's double-double was as dominating as he has been all season. Even Pierce's voracious D (and team-high 29 points) was a different gear from where he has been at any point in the season- punctuated by a highlight reel dunk off of sweet give n' go with KG in the 4th quarter that really shut the door on the Cavs.

But for my money, I say Rondo's 20/13 points/assists defined this win. Not to mention his defense on Delonte West including a magnificient hustle play to block West's layup following a Celtics turnover (gee, why did we get rid of West and keep Rondo the rookie?). Despite his diminutive size compared to the others on the court, Rondo was a mismatch all night long- his speed and aggressiveness against the plodding Cavs defenders were on display and if he keeps it up, the Celtics might just win their first road game of these playoffs. And not too soon.


Wow, it's Been a While.

Like the song says, "It's been awhile...", but I had some thoughts on the current sports landscape, so...

Here's the thing about the Pats... why issue a bitter press release, scolding the media for alleging they taped the Rams walk-through when all this time (and for years previously) they remained stoic like their leader (Belichick) in the face of any criticisms? I ask this as a lifelong Pats fan too (i.e., I have lived/breathed this team for 30 years). Why get ornery now? Move on and try for 19-0 again, end of story.

After watching the Celts' lackluster defensive performance in the final 2 minutes in Game 4 (and almost 10 minutes of horrific offense from both teams) I am concerned about tonight's game. Though I am not panicking because *gasp* LeBron had a big dunk to punctuate the Cavs comeback in this series.

I wonder if the NHL could pull an unprecedented move by anointing the Pens and Wings the Conference Champs today and letting the Stanley Cup Final start this weekend? Would that not be the greatest moment in the NHL this decade? Heck, it would at least give them as much press as the Pens/Sabres outdoor game this past season. G'head, anoint their a$$es.


Let the Quest Begin Again!

Anyone who knows me personally, knows I am a big hockey fan. I have grown up playing the game (still do to this day) and appreciate it for its physicality, grace, and speed- a combination not found in any other sport.

Anyway, this time of year is amazing because the playoffs are a week and change away and the playoff contenders are already beating the snot out of each other.

Despite the NHL's "popularity" this time of year, I saw the following picture and it reminded me why I started playing hockey in the first place. Bobby Orr was my first sports idol and continues to be one of those players that I admire for his two-way play, leadership and toughness. This is a shot of him I
(strangely) had not remembered seeing before. It really sums up one of the greatest players to ever put on a pair of skates and embodies the best qualities of all the elite NHLers... physicality, grace, and speed.

His form is perfect, his intensity and concentration unparalleled at that moment and the shot screams at you to actually feel the movement and pace as Orr streaks to/with the puck- something he did as well as any player... ever. This picture really embodies the game and I would offer it to anyone who asks what is so special about the NHL. Well, this was 30 years ago and the game has not slowed down since.

Let the Quest for the for Stanley's Cup resume.


Oh Weary Traveler, Sit and Relax

I have been away and, poof, 2 weeks goes by- time to relax a bit (see: 5 minute break). And while I am at it, this site streams music “live” (yeah, a store’s music soundtrack ain’t live, but who cares) from various clubs, shops, undergrounds around the world.

Check out Awdio.com.


And You Thought the Yankees Hated the Red Sox?!

Somewhere in between men playing a kids' game for a living, jock jokes, and girl fights there still lives the douche bag who has the balls to slide into a base spikes high.

I give you Exhibit A: The Yankees' Shelley Duncan.

Retaliation for a previous transgression by Tampa Bay aside, there's a right way to put a lick on a guy and there's a wrong way- this was the latter.

P.S. The original home plate collision that got the Yankees' panties in a twist to begin with was the right way. They just did not like being on the wrong end of it.


The Blue Shirts Will Close out Yankee Stadium in '09.

This is cool... literally. It looks like the New York Rangers will play an outdoor game at Yankee Stadium next season- the last year the stadium will be used. I guess the Pens/Sabres game outside this year was the radar "blip" the NHL thinks will get them into the spotlight every year. (Kind of like how every year the National Spelling Bee gets a day to shine too. Nice to see the NHL keeping pace.)

(Now just imagine all the green is white. )

P.S. What?! you didn't know the Yankees were tired of losing to the Red Sox, are closing their doors and leaving baseball?!!! Just kidding- the pinstripes have a new home in 2009.


Banana Republic Surveys for a Cause

I used to work in market research, collaborating with Fortune 500 companies and developing their surveys for brand and advertising awareness, brand equity, demographics analysis, etc. The industry has absolutely exploded with the advent of Internet-based surveys. And we used to prompt all of our surveys with some type of gift/cash enticement to encourage participation by consumers. Basically, you could get a chance to win $50, or $100 or even $200 "gift" (see: cash) for participating in the surveys.

Well, I have to say kudos to BananaRepublic.com for their current website survey prompt that allows you to choose 1 of 5 charities to donate monies to as your "Reward". Banana (and sister stores- Gap and Old Navy, apparently) is donating up to $4,000 to these charities based on survey participation.

I have to say, from my perspective, I take a survey (albeit seldom) because I want to, not because of the reward being offered. But this time, I genuinely took the survey only because I felt I could contribute to a good cause. The choices of charities are:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America - Provides safe places for youth to learn, grow, and develop skills that will help them realize their full potential (www.bgca.org)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America - Is the country's largest youth mentoring organization (www.bbbs.org)
  • CARE - Works to fight poverty around the world through projects that focus on women, their families, and their communities (www.care.org)
  • Dress for Success - Promotes the economic independence and self-sufficiency of disadvantaged women worldwide (www.dressforsuccess.org)
  • Soles4Souls - Collects and distributes new and gently-used footwear to people in need throughout the world (www.giveshoes.org)
A nice range of charities, depending on if you have a preference. But really it is just about giving back a little, regardless.


Because We Love a Well-Dressed Man.

Sure, the gentleman is known as the Sartorialist, but that is more for Scott Schuman's eye for fashion and well-dressed folk on the streets of cities like New York, Paris, Milan, Stockholm, and London. But do not overlook the man's own personal sartorial style. Scott's cool. And the second shot below (of Mr. George Cortina, professional stylist) is also from Sart's blog- showing you he really practices what he preaches.

And he's right on.

(courtesy: thesartorialist.blogspot.com)

(courtesy: thesartorialist.blogspot.com)

UPDATE: Also found Mr. Cortina (here with Mr. Hamish Bowles- also looking quite dapper) from another of Sart's postings- this time courtesy of Mr. Schuman's blog at style.com

Change for the Sake of, Well... Change

There's no reason other than I am beginning to subscribe to the "Less is More" philosophy, but I plan on changing this blog and bringing it back to a simplistic template of yesteryear in both form and function.

Here is what I know. I no longer have time to update different sections and thoughts and syphon through what I want and where. This was intended as a true weblog (read: journal) of things I find interesting and at some point it became an amalgamation of, well... junk.

These things are like closets... if you do not clean them out once in a while, pretty soon you run of room to put things and they invade your living space. This site began invading my space and I do not like it that way.

So, Spring cleaning time has arrived. Changes to follow.


H&M... You D*ck Tease

So, if you do not know H&M by now, well, you should. It's that simple. H&M is an international retailer that truly rocks at the big box clothing+ style+value equation that I have not yet seen anyone else able to duplicate. Very simply, H&M knows clothes.

My 1 regret is there is not an H&M store near my home that carries the men's line. And the website does not offer an online store (yet?). OK, make that 2 regrets. But fear not. While you may lament not being close to an H&M store (or at least 1 with the department you need) they have improved their website playthings so you can at least dream and "doodle" with the stylings of the season.

Check out their dressing room, heck, even upload your face to a mannequin and let your inner Tim Gunn take over.
Make it work people.


Funny Moments in Sports #1,333,445,689

(Photo h/t/t AP photo / Charles Dharapak )

I don't know, this picture just strikes me as funny because my first thought was, "David Ortiz probably can't understand a single word President Bush is saying- and I DO NOT mean that as a slight on my man Big Papi or Ortiz's English (which is excellent).

A Sprint Customer Satisfied... At Least For Now.

I don’t know if this will work for everyone with a Sprint cellular account, but I have been able to make it work twice now in the past 6 months on my company’s business account.

I have 3 cell phone lines through my small business account with Sprint and I have had to upgrade 2 of the phones in the past 6 months- 1 because it got dropped off of a marina dock and got wet, and one because I simply needed to upgrade my own phone for something with newer features/better call quality.

Both times I had absolutely NO success using the Sprint website to upgrade my phone. Trust me, the website stinks. You can never log in as a business customer and I think they do not use a cross platform between their online account management tools and the phone services such as the online store. It’s horrible, do not even try. Secondly, the service number is no use either; they simply pass you off to another department when you need a new phone. And do not get me started on the actual business-dedicated support via phone, email, or local reps. In my experience, they are all pretty useless.

But the good news here is the actual phone sales/upgrade toll-free line (800-SPRINT1) is better at providing you new phones than any other method. On my latest upgrade (my own personal phone), they even went so far as to take my information and call me back when the phone I was looking for was not immediately available- the new Samsung ACE.

It gets better… In addition to the friendly and helpful demeanor of the reps on the sales toll-free line both times, they also converted the mail-in rebates on both upgrades into instant rebates and took the cost of the phones down to the promotional prices immediately- i.e., no hassles filling out a form, providing proof of purchase, and waiting 6-8 weeks for a rebate check! One more thing- on the Samsung ACE upgrade I just did this week, I asked for the instant rebate conversion of the mail-in rebate because I knew they did it for me before (hey, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know, right?). Anyway, ON TOP OF THAT, the rep even told me he would STILL give me the mail-in rebate in my new phone shipment and that the instant rebate would be listed in my next month’s bill as “customer retention” service.

So the final price of my new “ACE” looks like this: $449 retail- $150 promotional - $100 customer retention -$100 mail-in rebate = $99!

Wow. From a company that usually gets poor CRM ratings and from which I personally have had some below-average experiences with along the way, I have been impressed with at least the tool-free phone sales line.


If the Feds Can't Get You, the 11 Year-Old Will.

Reality is by far better than fiction. You really could not make up a story as bizarre as some innocent little 11 year-old kid who was at Jose Canseco's infamous party in 1998 taking snapshots of all his baseball heroes... including Roger Clemens!

Yup, looks like there is now evidence that Roger Dodger was at Canseco's pad way back in 1998 when Brian McNamee claims he was.

Make no mistake, the truth always comes out in these situations. I'm not shocked that there is now alleged incriminating evidence against the dirtbag former Cy Young Award winner. What shocks me is that Clemens has a big enough ego that he went to Capitol Hill and quite possibly was brazen enough to purger himself in front of Congress.

I mean, it is one thing to "deny deny deny" to the media as a P.R. move prior to raising your hand under oath. It is quite another to play the victim, demand a Congressional hearing to exonerate yourself, then LIE when you could be looking at prison time if the Feds feel like pursuing a felony against one of baseball's all-time greats (and believe me they will after this embarrassment).

If this plays out the way it's headed, Roger Clemens just lost the biggest gamble of his life. But hey, his ego can handle it, right? We'll just have to ask his roommate on Cell Block D in a few years.



Pats Win! Pats Win!

Well, not really, but one can dream right? At least kids in Central America get to dream about it. From the A/P (h/t Projo.com and Mat McDermott)...

February 15, 2008

Travel here, and imagine the Patriots really won

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and ended the season with a perfect 19-0 record - at least it looks that way in Nicaragua.

The NFL donated 290 Patriots hats and an equal number of team jerseys trumpeting the slogans "Super Bowl Champions, 19-0" to impoverished children from two small communities in southern Nicaragua.

Thursday's gifts could not change history - the Patriots lost the Feb. 3 game to the New York Giants 17-14 - but they made a lot of youngsters in the communities of San Gregorio and Buena Vista very happy, said Miriam Diaz, spokeswoman for the humanitarian organization World Vision, which arranged the donation with the NFL.

"They (Patriots) lost, but the children won," Diaz said.

The only "football" most of the children know is soccer, but they were very enthusiastic about the U.S. version of the game once the rules were explained to them, she said.

"They were very happy to receive the hats and jerseys," Diaz said. "They said they did not expect such a surprise."

Neither did the Patriots.


The Dumbest Things I have Read about Super Bowl XLII

And there are many of them. So I decided now I will keep a running log of many of the quotes and quips from the past 2 weeks that make me go, "Huh?".

  • THE dumbest thing said thus far... Bill Williamson on MSNBC.com, "The rest of the NFL is thankful the Patriots’ record doesn’t carry over into the 2008 season. And there is no guarantee the 2008 Patriots will be this dominating. In fact, there are indications New England could regress a bit."
Well shit, Bill, thanks for clearing that up. And here my feeble little mind all but guaranteed we'd be perfect again next season after no other team has gone undefeated through a 16-game regular season in NFL history. The fact that the Pats are on the precipice of securing a perfect season- the first in 36 years, makes me pretty darn sure they will regress a bit next year. Just a hunch there, Billy.

  • Ines, the TV Azteca girl, "Marry me Tom."
Spoken to Kyle Brady before she got it right and went seeking the real Tom Brady.

  • "23-17"
Need I say more?

to be continued...


The Sartorialist Featured at Danziger Projects

I am fond of Scott Schuman's work and his site, The Sartorialist. His eye for style on the street- both mainstream and ecclectic, are top notch and worth a look. He's a personable blogger, with a real professional end goal to his blog site (actually the manifest of his life's work- rare that they ever entwine so well and so purposefully). Anyway, Scott has his first official exhibition- going on now- at Danziger Projects- for the work he has put together in fashion photography. Congrats to Scott.

And check out James Danziger's blog, The Year in Pictures. The owner of the eponymous Danziger Projects Gallery has some very cool pictures and thoughts to share- including a brief on how the Sartorialist exhibition came to life.


Patriots Involved in Discrimination?

I do not wish to pick a fight, but with playoff tickets on the line, I must fight to defend the rights of all Patriots fans seeking to pay for overpriced admission to a non-championship playoff match.

As Shalise Manza Young from the Providence Journal reports...

Limited number of tickets available for Jan. 12 playoff game

The Patriots have announced that a limited number of tickets are still available for the team's AFC Divisional round playoff game on Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.

The tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m., but there are some provisos: they will only be sold via Ticketmaster (ticketmaster.com or 508.931.2222), there is a four ticket per person limit, and purchases can only be made with a Visa card (they're a league and team sponsor).

Prices, set by the NFL, are as follows: $164, $130, $115 and $95.

There's just ONE problem with that. Isn't it illegal to discriminate based on payment form- specifically when you are allowing for a specific type of payment form (via credit card), but dictating which type of card is accepted (Visa only)? I'm not sure it's on the level of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers discriminating against the state of New York, but I think this needs to be looked over by our friends at the District Attorney's office. Tracking...

In the year 2008...

After reading some benign beginning of the New Year prediction articles in various forms (mags, online, etc.) I thought a quick top-of-mind glance into the immediate future of possible topics we'll see on Line Change this year.

Without further ado (and after 30 seconds of thought), a quick Top 10 Lines for 2008:

10. Pats win Super Bowl XLII!
9. Brady NOT the father of Baby Jack (aka John Edward Thomas Moynahan)!
8. Backing up your hard drive to a backup drive that is backed up to your usb thumb drive that is backed up by an online storage provider.
7. Facebook goes bankrupt. High school and college students everywhere go back to, um- school.
6. Google wins presidential election! (McCain loses on Florida ballot count. Hilary distant third.)
5. iPhone G2 = $399 upgrade to current iPhone (iPhone G1s mysteriously stop working). $599 for new buyers until October when price is reduced to $399. $200 rebate demand ensues from both newbies and upgraders. Steve Jobs joins board of Universal, Newscorp., CBS, and Paramount simultaneously.
4. The BCS still doesn't work.

3. Red Sox lose the World Series in 7 games to Johan Santana, who was signed by Omar Minaya, plays all 9 positions for the New York Mets and accounts for 100% of their payroll.
2. The Dark Knight breaks summer box office records. Iron Man holds its own against the Memorial Day onslaught. Speed Racer tanks. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull launches Shia LeBouf into 8 figures per flick territory.
1. Randy Moss resigns with Patriots- 5 years, $30 million. Brady redoes contract to create salary cap room.