Friday, February 25, 2011

Survivor 22

I first off must admit that last season's Survivor was the first season I did not complete. I got a little over half way through and stopped watching. There has been seasons before that I have not watched in their entirety, but last season was the first time I totally bailed. I had to look up online to see how won.

A couple early thoughts on Season 22.
I used to not be a fan of All-Star seasons, but the one last year was great. I wasn't excited for Russell and Boston Rob again, but having the 2 veterans really allows you to jump right into the season. There is no feeling around episodes. Those two are running thangs right away. It makes for good viewing.
This "redemption" format sounds a whole heck of a lot like Real World/Road Rules Challenges, not that I'm complaining. Those things are pretty entertaining. I'm not sure it will add to Survivor, though. We'll see. It is definitely a safeguard to keep Boston Rob and Russell in the game. The previous "redemption" ploy off the Pearl Islands, was kind of lame, bringing back Burton and Lil, not really offering much to the season.
Will there be real water challenges this season?

Alright, let's take an early look at this year's cast.

Boston Rob - I like him, glad he's back, much better without Amber.

Andrea - I like her. She is cute and hot. There's something about her very alluring, must be that Wisconsin up-bringing. I think she could make it far under the right circumstances.

Kristina - Fake boobs, loner, won't be around for long.

Grant - So this guy was an NFL football player. I see him making the jury and then going out as the "threat". On a side note, someone once asked who I would choose to look like if I could look like anyone in the world, ok maybe I poised this question just so I could answer it, but anyways, my answer was James from Survivor, but now Grant is a close second. No homo.

Philip - Yes! This guy is great. Vastly entertaining. I don't think he'll make it far, so take it in while you can.

Natalie - Apparently this chick is 19. I think that is too young. she might go far under someone's wing, but will not be a major player.

Ashley - I like her. She's hot, but not too hot that that's her only asset. I predict she will go far.

Russell - Too cocky, but that was the case last season too, but he still made it to the final. Definitely brings the entertainment value.

Steve - The new Tom - Older, grey, strong. Apparently another ex-nfl player. He should go far, maybe taking over as team leader once Russell is gone.

Julie - she could definitely kick my ass.

Sarita - hasn't really said too much yet.

Stephanie - power hunger young girl on Russel's teet. She's the type of girl that would scan the bar at bar time looking for a drunk guy she couldn't otherwise get, a muskrat or 'skrat, as we called them back in the day.

Krista - Kind of weird, also on the Russel train.

Ralph - Yes, the hairy redneck. I can't wait til this guy pulls one over on Russell

Mike and David - Two younger white guys, don't know much about them. One was in Iraq, one is kinda dorky, but they'll take down Russell and be best buds.

I see the season building to a Russell/Boston Rob Redemption Island showdown in about week 7 or 8 and then falling off after that.

Stay tuned kids!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where No Survivor Has Gone Before

Another late winter, another season of Survivor. Those post's title does not refer to the stupid elimination battle which we are yet to see or the "Survivor 2nd Chance/Survivor What If...?" promos. That might be the worst thing ever. Before I delve, into this season, I thought I'd take a look at places Survivor has never been, but should go. I once heard a rumor it was going to be in Jordan, but had to back out before they started due to fear of Middle East Violence. Interesting.
Let's take a quick recap of where Survivor has been.

1. Borneo - cool
2. Australia - cool, but not as cool
3. Africa - eh, sounded cool, but pretty much just desert.
4. Marquesas - super cool, Waterfalls
5. Thailand - don't remember much
6. Amazon - Sounded cool again, but kind of boring. Piranhas.
7. Pearl Islands - Panama, pretty cool. Rupert.
8. Pearls again
9.Vanuatu - Maybe the best scenery
10. Palau - Awesome
11. Nicaragua - I think the toughest conditions ever
12. Panama, again, some real good challenges, though
13. Cook Islands, tied with Vanuatu for best scenery, and better challenges
14. Fiji
15. China - better than expected
16. Micronesia - not bad
17. Gabon - a much better Africa
18.Tocantins - Brazil again
19. Samoa
20. Samoa again
21. Nicaragua
22. Nicaragua again

A few notes: First, landlocked places are bad. It is clear all the best seasons took place on the water. I'd say 80% of the best challenges were water based. 2nd, WHAT THE FUCK happened to the water challenges?!!!! Seriously, I understand there being only fabricated water in Nicaragua, but Samoa, it's an island. Why no water challenges? To tell you the truth, I don't remember an true water challenges - with boats, and swimming, and diving since Micronesia.
Bring back the water. My only guess is that someone died or seriously got hurt in a practice challenge. The truth is out there.
Also, I've often heard people pitch ideas of a cold location, but that would not work. No one would do anything. It would be super boring, and there would be no eye candy.
Ok, since the produces have gotten seriously lazy, I will provide them with the answers of where to take Survivor next.

1.Madagascar - Yes, this would be the best season yet. You got the ocean, mountains, animals that exist nowhere else in the world. This is the season I will be on.
2. Maldives or Seychelles - I hear these are among the most beautiful places in the world. Tons of small private islands would make a perfect location for an upcoming Survivor Season.
3. Okinawa - "Japan here. China here. Okinawa here."
4. Tuvalu - We've had Palua and Vanuatu, let's get another South Pacific, ending in "u" island. It could be the atoll season.
5. Pitcairn - Yes. Following in the footsteps of real life survivors, though the descendants of Fletcher Christian have not fared too well as of late.
6. Easter Island - see Survivor commercialize more ancient ruins

7. Suriname - I don't know why, but I just imagine Suriname as having both loads of rainforests, swamps, and Caribbean Sea beaches.

Let's make it happen Jeff Probst.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Super Bowl Thoughts

I thought I'd look back on some of awesome events and circumstances that make this team and this season so special. This group is full of great stories. Of course we all know the Rodgers/Favre story and the Clay Matthews walk-on story, so I'll take a look at a few other stories about the 2010/2011 Packers and Super Bowl XLV.

-Jarrett Bush-

I've read a lot of Super Bowl coverage, but I can't believe how little people have mentioned Jarrett Bush. This guy has been the whipping boy of the media and fans for years. He would get sh** on nearly every time he was on the screen. How he is still on this team, I do not know. The perennial special teamer I guess. He has been burned more times than I know and just looks awful pretty much every time he has been in there. Career Stats: 78 games played, 1 interception. 1 Superbowl, 1 interception. He came through when it counted (I'll ignore his getting burned just a few minutes later for the Hines Ward TD.) I'm happy for him, and I'll lay off him for at least next season.

Week 15 - The Packers were so close to not even making the playoffs. Everyone remembers the Giants 4th quarter collapse to Mike Vick and the Eagles in week 15 that allowed us to control our own destiny, but it was also the week 15 overtime victory by the Lions over the Buccaneers that also got us into the playoffs. This was just as improbable. The Lion, going in with 26 GAME ROAD LOSING STREAK, got the ball back at their own 32 down by three with no timeouts left, 1:39 left, and Drew Stanton as quarterback. Somehow he marched them down the field for the game tying and game winning field goal. Thus the Packers are in the playoffs and not the Bucs.
Thanks Drew Stanton.

Al Harris - This is one regret. I wish Al Harris could've been on this team. It would have been great to see him come in for the injured Charles Woodson and save the day. Anyway, still a great Packer and owner of one of the best ever Packers plays. I'm sure he was watching the game proudly.

Atari Bigby - Despite doing little to nothing this season, it was great to see Bigby leading the troops out of the tunnel.

Rodgers Celebration - A-Rodg had a nice Jim Valvano moment after the Steelers missed their 4th down play to end the game. Running around like a kid, looking for someone to hug. Each time ESPN showed it they cut away right before he finally met someone. I wonder who the first person he hugged was.

Desmond Bishop - This guy was our 4th middle linebacker at the start of the season. Injuries to Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar make him a starter. He steps up during the season and makes HUGE plays in the playoffs. Kudos too to Frank Zombo for coming out of nowhere to dutifully replace the also injured Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga.

AJ Hawk - Another unsung member of our great linebacking core. He will never have the hair, the speed, the big play ability of Clay Matthews, and I'm sure Clay's girlfriend is much better looking than Brady Quinn's sister, but Hawk was solid all season long, not spectacular, maybe not up to the level of a top 5 pick, but he was a key contributor to the Super Bowl march, especially after all the LB injuries. It was nice to see him on NFL Countdown reflecting on everything.

Howard Green - Huge guy, huge play, forcing Big Ben into the INT. Love his story being castaway by the Jets, then helping beat them the next week. Also, who can forget how little his jersey was in his first game with the Packers?

Shaun Suisham - Cut by the Cowboys, Redskins, Browns, and Rams this guy was then attempting a 52-yard field goal in the Super Bowl. Anyone surprised with the outcome of that kick? Wow.

Johnny Jolly - Lastly,lots of people want to know what Brett Favre was doing during the Super Bowl, but I oh so desperately want to know what Johnny Jolly doing. Did he watch the game? Did he go to Dallas? Did he get arrested? He is from Houston and apparently not yet in jail, so I'm going to speculate it was some sort of liquid codeine binge eventually meeting up with Lil Wayne to celebrate the Packers victory. Lots of purple drank and Styrofoam cups. Yes!

Super Bowl Champs! Even the stories at the periphery are great. Thanks for the contributions guys.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Green Bay Packers 2011 Super Bowl Champions!!!

The Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl Champions! Yes, we did it. And unlike many teams, we is the proper identifier, not they. The Packers are our team. I'm sure you become even a closer member of the Packers the closer you get to Green Bay. Everyone in the week approaching the Super Bowl was loving Green Bay and the Packers and what they represent, from Rick Reilly to Rachel Maddow. The Packers are unique and WE are champions.

I think the word that best described my post game feeling was content. I wasn't elated or running through the streets, I was simply content. I was happy, but content was the best word. I think a lot of it was the way the game went. The biggest celebration plays were early. I just sat back Sunday night and felt like there were no problems in the world, that everything was just a bit easier. Content.
Also, I wanted to take everything in. I remember the 1997 Super Bowl very well, but remember very little about the season itself. This season I was in for the long haul. My feelings Sunday night and still today were about the culmination of the season, of the journey.

For me, the picture that best tells the story about the 2010/2011 was the celebration after the final kneel down. Aaron Rodgers (of course) hugging Brandon Jackson and Andrew Quarles. What? Yes. Those are the guys in the game. Not Ryan Grant. Not Jermichael Finley. Not Donald Driver. It just showed the devastating injuries the Packers had and that it did not matter to Aaron Rodgers. He worked with whatever was available to him.
Let's look at it again. 2nd youngest team in the NFL. 15 players on the IR. The most games missed due to injury. Woodson and Driver go down. Super Bowl champs!

About the game itself, wow, it was eerily similar to the Bears game and especially the Eagles game. Packers dominate, don't put it away at right before halftime, come out with the ball, 3 and out, other team gets a TD right back in the game, another huge Packers TD, other team scores again, goes for 2, later get the ball back, Packers hold on for the win. Man, holding on! Making you sweat, making it tense. Wow, still feeling it.
Super Bowl.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl Preview

Wow, the Packers are in the Super Bowl! This isn't a surprise obviously, due to the two weeks of non-stop media coverage, but it still doesn't quite seem real. I'm not used to my teams winning.
But we're not done yet! Sunday is the big game.

I have to say I'm feeling pretty good. I feel everything that could have gone wrong went wrong against the Bears. Penalties reared their head again. Rodgers threw a Red Zone interception (Favre-esque) which never happens. And that other interception, that was beyond a fluke; it was just miraculous. And the whole 3rd string quarterback was pretty wild too.
I don't think I see those things happening again.

So, on to Sunday. What do I see? Well, I think the Packers are the better team. Let's take a look at why we will win or why we won't win.

Why The Packers will win:
- Better team - the Pack has amazing depth. I think 1-22 or 1-53, we are easily the better team. I know that does not translate to winning necessarily, but it plays a big role. Just look at how many different guys have stepped up in the playoffs.
- Aaron Rodgers and his receivers - Yeah, I don't really need to say much about this. Rodgers is sick and so are the receivers. He can pass, run, avoid the rush, make the deep throw, make the finesse throw, get big. We have 4 great receivers and big Brett Swain waiting to get his chance in those five wideout packages.
- Stopping the run - this one isn't for certain, but if they can stop the run, they got the game. The big guys inside do pretty well, and the should get at that less than full strength o-line of Pittsburgh.
- Pressure on Big Ben - You know, I don't really think Roethlisberger has had that great of a season, pretty average in fact. We will put pressure on him from the D-line, from the linebackers, and from Chuck Woodson. If we can keep him from escaping, he will throw picks.

Why the Packers will lose:

- Special Teams - this was a huge positive against the Bears, but I'm still not sold. Crosby cannot seem to kick it deep, and a "good" kickoff spot for the Packers is like the 35. Oh, and let's not forget that offensive lineman return against New England.
- Short Yardage Situations - I know all the fans, myself included, love Kuhn, but in my opinion, the Packers have been pretty poor in short yardage situations, especially near the goal line. The Steelers had that big stand against the Jets. Look for this to be key. Getting 3 instead of 7 or having to punt from the 40 or 50 is huge in the Super Bowl.
- Tight Ends - If one put together a list of the best tight ends over the last 5 years, I don't think Heath Miller would be on many people's lists, but the guy is good. The guy is consistent. He's played in big games. And the Packers are susceptible against the Tight End, especially down the middle which is the bread and butter of Miller. If Miller gets going, those safteys cheat toward him, and Wallace is gone.
And, of course, the tight ends for the Packers are not much. Hopefully they will not be a liability.
- Drops - There is nothing like a dropped pass to kill a drive. It frustrates the fans to no end and kills momentum. I don't have to tell you that despite the greatness of the Packers receivers this season, dropsies have been a problem.
- Fumbles - I'm not sure why I put this one in. Maybe because I feel good about Rodgers not throwing an INT, but I'm leery of fumbles. I guess its from years of watching Ahman Green and now Brandon Jackson and Ryan Grant. Hold on to the ball.
- Inability to close - If the Packers let the Steelers stay in the game, they will take advantage unlike the Eagles and Bears. Dominating the game doesn't matter if you don't dominate the score board too.

What won't matter:
Experience - a non issue. These guys have all played big games before. Once you get on the field you just do your thing.

One more thing:
Go Pack Go!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ranking the Harry Potter Characters

I was going to write a few more things about the Harry Potter Characters, but I the end, I was going to rank them anyways, so, I thought I'd just skip to that.

I left out Ron, Hermione, Harry, Voldemort, and Dumbledore on purpose. They are the main characters and don't need to be ranked. Hagrid was purposefully omitted because he sucks.

Criteria - Ok, my criteria is always a bit flakey, but usually, we are looking for the best character in the literary sense of the word - Do they add to the story? are the entertaining? do they invoke emotion in the reader? Would something be missing if they were absent? Obviously, if they are likable, they will be higher on the list. You'll see a lot of people from last posts list on this list as well. I think wanting to know more about a character is a key quality.

The Top 35 Harry Potter Characters.

35. Peeves - comic relief, but a bit annoying.
34. Xenophilius Lovegood- An interesting character, told a good story, but sold Harry out.
33. Cho Chang - Cho was very similar to many girls from my teenage years. You were all about her for a short time, but then she really fizzled out quickly.
32.Cornelius Fudge - He was a very present character, but really didn't do all that much.
31. Wormtail - You need a character you hate yet feel some pity for.
30. Narcissa Malfoy - Brought some much needed humanity to Draco
29. Oliver Wood - This mother loves quidditch!
28. Lavender Brown - a bit annoying, but played her role well, and brought Ron and Hermione together.
27. Mad-Eye Moody - I'm conflicted on this one. Moody was real cool in Book 4, but that was actually Barty Crouch Jr. The rest of his contributions were not too substantial.
26. Lucius Malfoy - You need villains. He was a good one, not a great one.
25. Percy Weasley - Another character it was easy to hate, but he had the transformation at the end.
24. The Dursleys - Wow, read #25. Dudley made the biggest chance of the family. That was one of the more interesting parts of Book 7
23. The Gaunts - They added a different element to the series. They were intriguing and showed much about Voldemort's character.
22. Igor Karkaroff
21. Remus Lupin - Lupin is the favorite character of some people, but he was a bit inconsistent for me. He was great in Book 3, but king of tailed off for me. His whole wanting to come with Harry in Deathly Hallows was kind of weird.
20. Barty Crouch - Sr. and Jr.
19. Ludo Bagman - Provided a foil for all the serious, earnest wizards and witches we met.
18. Arthur Weasley - Couldn't you see Arthur as your friend's father? The moral compass for the Weasley family and one of the few that always trusted Harry with the tough truth.
17. Fred and George Weasley - 2 parts comic relief, one part faithful friend and brother.
16. Cormac Mclaggen - As I said in the last post, I wanted to see more of this guy. He reminds me a bit of the Cobra-Kai, but I think he had a good heart. A good supporting character.
15. Draco Malfoy - I'm also conflicted on Draco Malfoy. His portrayal is inconsistent. He at times is just evil for no reason. We get a little better character insight of him in Book 6. There he shows humanity and much more depth, but I feel there was opportunity for more.
14. Sirius Black - Sirius was a cool character, but I feel he could have also been explored more. He was Harry's father figure and wanted to be his friend, but I think the toll years in Azkaban could have been more prominent.
13. Regulus Black - Odd that Regulus makes it here above this brother, but as a minor character, he was the bomb. See yesterday's post for more, but in such an odd role, Regulus was perfectly portrayed.
12. Horace Slughorn - A good mix of teacher and misguided teacher wanting to still make amends. A realistic portrayal I think.
11. Dolores Umbridge - The most unlikable character in the entire series, and that is saying a lot. A very great villain. So misguided, but a great example of what Harry and Dumbledore were up against.

10. Mungundas Fletcher - A great foil to almost every other wizard on the good guy's side. This guy failed in almost every way. You need that presence.

9. Victor Krum - Krum played his role well - foreigner, outsider, friend, ally.

8. Neville Longbottom - Neville showed the most growth in the series. He was originally the screw-up, the one no one wanted to sit next to or work with, but turned into a leader. A great example of how 7 books allow for character growth and of Rowling's message of including all no matter how seemingly unfitting they appear.

7. Bellatrix Lestrange- Another one to hate, but this time you don't really need any further character exploration, bitch is just crazy.

6. Gilderoy Lockhart - A great literary character. His personality and true personality just fit the 2nd book so perfectly. You wanted to hate him and his cowardly ways, but couldn't. One of the first examples of Rowling showing that characters are not always as the appear.

5. Cedric Diggory - The prime example of honor, friendship, fairness. I think even Harry said he couldn't dislike him even when he tried. He may be a bit one-dimensional, but that fits his role. Also, his death was a turning point in the story.

4. Kreacher - I'm a big fan of the journey of the character, of a character changing due to the environment he or she is placed in, of the character learning from past mistakes. This can be seen in Neville, Harry, Hermione, Ron, and in my number one and two choices on this list, and we see glimpses of the downward change in Voldemort. Kreacher is a drastic example, going from one of the most hated and frankly worst characters to one of the best. He really came through for Harry and the good side in book 7, a nice turnaround.

3. Professor McGonagall - McGonagall illustrates the the other type of great character. It doesn't have to be all about change and transforming, consistency works too. McGonagall is the most consistent person in the book. We don't need to know her back story to see what see is all about. She is a caring teacher and role model, but also one you would not want to mess with.

2. Severus Snape - So I think I'm putting Snape number 2 because most people think I will put him 1. He is a great character no doubt. He has the journey. He has the mystery. He most importantly, has elements of good and evil. Even when at his most surly, even when you don't know any of his back story, you still like him, or at least want to see more of him and know more of him. That is the mark of a good character. Snape is again the sign of the complexity that a 7 book (7 year) series allows for. In one book, he never really does anything that great (accept for maybe book 6) and could not show dynamic change either, but as a body of work, is an amazing character.

1. Luna Lovegood - Yes, Luna Lovegood is the best character in the Harry Potter universe. She presents a lot of things that make Harry Potter what it is. She is different and funny, but most importantly sincere. She has this connection with Harry and other characters that makes her super likable, but also super crucial. And like most of my rankings, it is easier to be the favorite when you are a minor character. Luna is just on the fringe of being a major character, but being a minor character makes her free from mistakes. Every time she is present it is important, it adds value, you wait for it, whereas Snape had a few appearances that weren't all that great or even necessary.

There you go Harry Potter fans.