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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Worst Team Names (And What They Should Be)

Lately, I have been watching a lot of sports and realized that there are a lot of terrible names for teams. Like, a surprising amount of bad names. And being me, I couldn't help but call them out and offer replacements. For the purpose of keeping this article (relatively) short I am limiting myself to the four men's pro sports. (I could write forever if I included minor league, college, pro soccer, and WNBA teams.) My criteria for coming up with new names generally relies on one of two things: 1) History -- Either the franchise's or the city's, 2) State/City Symbols -- If the teams truly represent the city and/or state, they should have names that invoke that city and/or state.

The Racist

Culprits: Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Redskins.

Washington has the most offense name for a professional sports team and the Indians posses what is possibly the most offense logo since the Gold Dust Twins. Atlanta is known for the crowd chant known as the "Tomahawk Chop." It's been years since the American government has all but wiped out the native population. Must we continually mock them with racist team names, logos, and cheers? Simply put, these team names have got to go.

The Braves was a little tricky to come up with a new name for. The team originated in Boston, moved to Milwaukee, and is currently settled in Atlanta. However, the team has only been known consistently as the Braves since 1941. Before that they were known as the Red Stockings, Red Caps, Beaneaters, Doves, and Rustlers. After they were Rustlers and before they stuck with the Braves, they had a name from 1936-1940 that I think they should go back to: The Bees. This name has the bonus of being one of the teams previous names (granted, this was when they were in Boston, but it is the same franchise) and would be offense to no known race. (If aliens ever come and bee in a slur to them, we may have to go to the Doves.) Due to a bee being yellow and black, the colors scheme for the team would likely change to look similar to the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is the only downside I see to adopting the name Bees.

The Cleveland Indians was the biggest no-brainer for me. They should become the Cleveland Spiders. Not only is there historical significance with this name (a previous Cleveland baseball team was called the Spiders), but no other sports team has this name or any derivative of it. It is wholly unique. Because of the history of the new name, it would likely make it an easier sell to die hards opposed to any name changes of their beloved franchise.

The Kansas City Chiefs used to be the Dallas Texans, so going back to their original name doesn't make a lot of sense. Creating a new name becomes our task. Why not honor the original owner and one of the great members of the AFL and NFL and call them the Kansas City Hunters? (After Lamar Hunt, of course.) This could allow the team to keep its colors (changing them could be costly along with a name and logo change). However, if you're going to call your team the Hunters why not go with orange helmets and then brown and green unis? (Ok, that might look especially ugly. Pretend I never said that.) Still, the name Hunters sounds pretty cool.

The Washington Redskins become the D.C. Hogs. This works because of the association with Washington and its policy of putting "pork" into bills, the fact that a football is called a "pigskin," and the fact that they already have fans who dress up as hogs. (Sort of.) If you don't like D.C. Hogs, go with Washington Hogs; you can even get crazy and call them the "Hawgz" if you really want to. But no matter, it is way better than Redskins.

I am not including the Chicago Blackhawks for a few reasons. The history of the team name dates back to the World War I company that the original owner served in. While the naming of the company appears to be named after a member of the Illini tribe, this isn't enough for me to call out Chicago. However, if they ever wanted to change their name, I would fully support that decision. I also want to point out that this isn't a post on what teams need to change their logos. If it was, Chicago would certainly be a part of the discussion.

Teams That Don't End in "S" or "X"

Culprits: Colorado Avalanche, Miami Heat, Minnesota Wild,  Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, and Utah Jazz.

I don't know why or when this tradition started, but it needs to be rectified. It sounds and looks weird. When I refer to an individual player I should say that something like, "Derek Jeter is a Yankee." Saying "Giant douchebag LeBron James is a Heat," sounds weird. So we start saying, "Giant douchebag LeBron James is a member of the Heat." I don't like it and so here is what the above teams should be called.

Colorado briefly had a hockey team in the 1970s called the Rockies. The team soon moved to New Jersey and became the Devils. Colorado went without a professional hockey team until the mid-1990s when the Quebec Nordiques left Canada. The team for some reason became the Avalanche. As a fan of the team, this has stuck in my craw to no end. So, what should we call this team? I remember when then team first moved to Denver, they said they were considering calling many different nicknames and that they were also saying that the team could be named after for either Denver, Colorado, or the Rocky Mountain region. As a kid, I thought that the idea of naming a team for a region was a great idea. I immediately fell in love with the idea of naming the team the Rocky Mountain Bandits. However, as I've grown older, my love for a region based name has faded. However, I still like the idea of calling a team the Bandits. Compromise solution: Colorado Bandits.  I think the name works well enough and invokes an "old west" type feeling.

The Miami Heat sounds like an STD. "I met this girl last night and I think she may have given me the ol' Miami Heat." Plus, what is a heat? Can you show me a heat? When I think of your team name, I shouldn't think of the knocking caused by my apartment's heater. We can do better than that: Miami Crocodiles or Crocs for short. Crocodiles are found in the area (as well as alligators). And the name sounds infinitely more vicious and cool than the Heat ever will.


Minnesota had a hockey team before the Wild called the "North Stars" which sounded unique, fun, and cool. Then the team moved to Dallas, dropped the "North" and left Minnesota with an expansion franchise and a name that makes little to no sense. (Seriously, the Wild? This may be the least thought out name in all of sports.) I think that Minnesota needs to get back to their roots and take up a name that local sports fans know and understand. They need to be called the Minnesota Lakers. (Don't worry, we'll address the Los Angeles basketball team later.) Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, this name just makes sense. The fact that they never tried to get the name back is ridiculous. They should be the Lakers, plain and simple.

I wish I lived in a world where we could have a basketball team called the Oklahoma City Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. Instead, they are called the Oklahoma City Thunder and another opportunity is missed. However, I know that calling a team the Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers is much too long and cumbersome to make for a good team name. Instead of going with Oklahoma's state bird, let's go with another state symbol: Bison. The Oklahoma Bisons (or, if you really have to, Buffaloes) makes for a much more interesting name for a team. Plus, while I know what thunder is, I can't see thunder or hold thunder or eat a thunder burger. I can do those things with a bison.

Orlando clearly chose their name as a nod to the Disney theme park that exists in the city. This is a stupid reason to choose a team name. I was tempted to go with Orlando Conquistadors as a nod to the Spanish explorers that originally settled and exploited the region, but opted not to mainly because of the cumbersome nature of the word. Then I thought about the Orlando Skeeters (Mosquitoes), but they are no longer part of that county. And it still doesn't sound that great. I also considered the Orlando Ballers, but that just sounds like a generic basketball team. So, what do we call the basketball team from Orlando? The Orlando Manatees. Taking the name from Florida's state marine mammal, it works for a few reasons. The colors can stay the same and it can help spread the word about the endangered "sea cow."

The Utah Jazz were originally the New Orleans Jazz. This made sense because jazz music is played in New Orleans, unlike Utah where music is not allowed. (Previous joke stolen from "BASEketball." Probably the best joke in that movie.) Utah needs a name for their team that is more representative of their culture. Originally, I thought that the Utah Bees might work (Utah is the "Beehive State" and its state insect is the "honeybee"), but decided that it is best not to give the same name to two teams. I thought that calling them the Utah Elks could work (Rocky Mountain Elk being the state animal), but that isn't that much better than Jazz. Also, it should be noted that all of the sports teams in SLC have double" Z's" in them: Buzz (minor league baseball), Grizzlies (minor league hockey), and Starzz (WNBA). With that limitation in mind it became quite the puzzle for a replacement for the Jazz. Ultimately, I went with a compromise: Utah Zombiez. Yes, it doesn't have the double "Z" and yes, it doesn't end in "S" or "X." But, it ends with the plural sound (which is what was needed) and it keeps two Z's in the name, albeit in a ham-fisted way. On top of that, Zombies are constantly increasing in popularity. Plus, dead people are pale just like the majority of Utah's population. This is what I call win-win.

Names That No Longer Make Sense

Culprits: Arizona Cardinals, Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Memphis Grizzlies.

The Arizona Cardinals used to be the Phoenix Cardinals and before that were the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, just like the baseball team. So, clearly this team is in need of a new name. The other pro teams in Phoenix are the Suns (NBA), Diamondbacks (MLB), and Coyotes (NHL). All items that invoke a desert feel. Cardinals do not create this feeling. So, if we're going to go with a desert feeling we could try calling the team the "Arizona Sand" or "Phoenix Cacti" but those violate my "teams need to end in an "S" sound" rule. So, let's leave the desert and say with Arizona. I'm thinking we use the state's official mammal, the Ringtail. The Ringtail has a unique physical makeup and this could lead to some of the most dynamic uniforms in the league.

The Calgary Flames were originally called the Atlanta Flames. They were named after General Sherman's march to the ocean. Which as far as name origins go, is pretty cool. However, the team moved to Calgary and inexplicably kept the name. Oilers would be a natural fit, but is taken by rival Edmonton. Calgary needs to embrace a new image. I'm thinking cowboys, but Dallas already has that name locked down. In that same spirit, here are your Calgary Rustlers! It is sort of like a cowboy, but distinctly different. Which is exactly what Calgary needs.

The two teams most associated with Los Angeles were originally in other cities. The Lakers were in Minneapolis and the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. Originally known by many other names, the "Trolly Dodgers," took their name in 1891. Soon after it was shortened to simply the "Dodgers" and the name has stuck ever since. In 1957, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and simply replaced the city name. While I respect the history of the club, there aren't trolleys in L.A.. The name hasn't made sense for the club since the move from Brooklyn. It's time to change that. The Los Angeles Angels would be good if it wasn't already taken by the club in Anaheim. I would love to call them the Los Angeles Sabertooth Cats (after the state fossil), but it's a little long. Sticking with state symbols I think that the team should be called the Los Angeles Grays (after the state marine mammal the Gray Whale). One of the original names for the team was the Brooklyn Greys, so it has a bit of a historical flavor too. I really like this name, but it has to be the second least likely to change.

The least likely team to change their name is the Los Angeles Lakers. While the name no longer makes sense, after they left Minnesota, it has been built into such a huge brand that it is likely to never change. That's not going to stop me from trying to do better though. In fact, because the Lakers will likely never change their name, I am going to go way out on a limb and recommend one that I like. It is named after another state symbol, the state prehistoric artifact. Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for the Los Angeles Stone Bears! Named for the chipped stone bear, this name satisfies for a few reasons. It is linked to the state, it has uniqueness, and it sounds pretty sweet. Here's hoping the Stone Bears become a team. Until then, we'll have to deal with the Lakers.

The Vancouver Grizzlies was a perfectly reasonable name for a team. It was an animal that existed in the region and the name was slightly unique. When the team moved to Memphis, one thing was overlooked: there are no grizzly bears there. The bear that is unique to the region is the black bear. However, calling a team in the South the "black" anything is probably a bad idea. Let's drop the bear angle and go for something that Tennessee is known for: music. Admittedly, this isn't the best name in the world, but I think it suits our needs and wants for the name. Let's welcome the Memphis Notes to the NBA. Honestly, the name would work better if the team was based in Nashville, but we can't move the team. Still Notes is better than Grizzlies. Really.

The Ridiculous

Culprits: Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Charlotte Bobcats, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Nets, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards.

All of the teams listed in this section have pretty awful names. So much so, that it is imperative that they change. In fact, on the whole, the teams above haven't been very successful. Maybe a name change is exactly what's needed to turn these franchises around.

The first rule for naming a team should be that you can't name your team after a kid's movie. Yet, Disney did just that when they were awarded an NHL franchise in the early 1990s. The team was originally known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, but have since dropped the "Mighty" and are simply the Anaheim Ducks. However there is too much similarity to the previous bad name; a new name must take its place. A name for this team is a little tricky because of the geographic location (southern California) and the sport it plays (ice hockey) seem to go together like oil and water. I think sticking with the bird angle is a fine idea, which is why I am proposing the team be called the California Condors. Granted, if San Diego had a hockey team, this could be a better fit; but why would San Diego ever have a hockey team? Plus, I think a condor could be a duck in a fight. And isn't that what truly matters?

The Atlanta Thrashers is a silly name for a team. Especially after you realize how great of name the Atlanta Flames was. I was really tempted to call the team the Georgia Peaches, but decided that would better fit a WNBA team than an NHL team. I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that the team should embrace Greek mythology for their name. Thrashers then becomes Tridents. The Atlanta Tridents could incorporate Neptune and Triton as part of their mascots. (And to those wondering, I was inspired by Futurama.)

Charlotte's basketball team was originally the Hornets. But the team moved to New Orleans and almost Oklahoma City. North Carolina has a rich history from which to pull a team name. And now that Michael Jordon owns Charlotte, he should really look into rectifying the situation. However, I'm going to skip over the history and go with a bit of local wildlife: Muskrats. The Charlotte (or Carolina) Muskrats sounds great and is unique. When was the last time you heard of a team called the muskrats? Never that's when. Again, this is a vast improvement on Bobcats.

The Houston Texans are a relatively new team. The city's previous team was the Oilers who moved to Tennessee to become the Titans. Houston's new team invokes thoughts of the former name of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Dallas Texans. The Houston franchise originally narrowed it down to six names: Apollos, Bobcats, Stallions, Texans, Toros and Wildcatters. All of those names suck except for one: Stallions. It isn't great, but it is much better than Texans. And what we're doing here in improving team names. So, welcome your Houston Stallions.

The Los Angeles Clippers is a terrible name. By keeping Los Angeles in their name, they will always play little brother to the Lakers. So, let's try to break the team out of that image. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome your Hollywood Stars! This is another instance where you could get away with adding a "z" at the end and go with Starz. I would stick with the "s" though, it's classier. This is such a large improvement over Clippers, I'm surprised they haven't already adopted the name. (I should point out that this name wasn't my idea. My brother is the genius behind this one. Turns out it wasn't my brother wasn't such an amazing genius, but he got the name from Dave Dameshek. )

The New Jersey Nets are under new ownership and planning a move to Brooklyn. On top of that, talk of a new name has been bandied about. This can only mean, they're aware of bad name. Moving to New York, they'll want the best name they can get. That's where I offer them this: Brooklyn Knights. It's cool, you can keep your current colors (if you want), and it is unique. Ok, I admit it, this name is sort of stolen from the name of the professional baseball team n the Batman universe. But, the Nets need a hook, especially now that they're moving into the city that is Gotham. Plus, I think it sounds pretty cool. If the team currently known as the Nets decided to go this way, they should try to lock down Batman as their mascot.

Originally the Rays were called the Devil Rays, which made a bit more sense because we're all familiar with what a Devil (or Manta) Ray is. Dropping the "Devil" has served the team well as they have put together winning ballclubs ever since. Admittedly, going with Rays was a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't work. Not completely. The team needs to exorcise the spirit that clings to their old name so that they can finally win the Series. Sticking with the animal kingdom: Tampa Bay Bats. This is such a natural baseball team name, I'm surprised nobody has done it before. (For the uninformed, a bat is what baseball players use to hit the ball.) I don't think I need to explain my choice here. It just seems to fit.

Toronto had the misfortune to get their team in the mid-1990s, right after Jurassic Park came out and the world was going crazy over dinosaurs and particularly the velociraptors. It would be like if a team started now and decided to call themselves the Glittering Vampires. It's never a good call to name your team after a fad. Toronto is Canada's only basketball team now and they should have a name that better represents them. This animal appears on Canadian currency and is a part of Canadian culture. No more Raptors, hello Toronto Beavers!

Washington's basketball franchise was originally based in Baltimore and called the Bullets. (As far as team names go, this could be the scariest based on Baltimore's homicide rate.) The team moved to Washington and kept the name for a time before deciding to go with the Wizards. They made this change pre-Harry Potter, so the impetus behind the call has to be that the owner was a huge Dungeons and Dragons fan. There is talk of having the name go back to Bullets, but we can do better than that. And by we, I mean me. Calling the team the Patriots would be a little too on the nose. Calling them the Generals sounds good until you remember that's the team that always loses to the Harlem Globetrotters. And Washington Masons feeds a bit too much into conspiracy. I think it is best to keep with America's (and therefore Washington's) rich history though and name the team the Washington Doughboys. The term used to refer to American soldiers during the Mexican-American War until World War II. This name invokes images of patriotism, history, and could lead to the greatest mascot since the Phoenix Suns' gorilla.

Conclusion

Not much else to say. Those are all the team names that I could stand to see changed. The groupings are from what I feel are the most needed changes to the least  needed. However, if none of the other names are changed, I feel that the Washington Redskins has got to go. I can live with the others (for now), but Redskins just feels to hateful and ignorant to continue.

Did I miss your team? Don't like one of my suggestions? Do you have a better idea? Let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Greatest Death There Ever Was

The Natural (Director's Cut)Before you begin reading, you should go and watch The Natural. It is one of the greatest sports movies ever and this post is all about it. So, go. (Yes, it's from 1984. I don't care. I just watched it the other day. Give me a break.)

Quick summation for those of you who haven't seen it in awhile: Roy Hobbs is a young phenom pitcher from a farm. He is on his way to the big city to try out for a team. Along the way he encounters a woman who appears to be attracted to skilled players. When they both reach the city, she invites him to her room. Once there, she shoots him and then kills herself. The film jumps to several years later where Hobbs is a rookie right fielder for the New York Knights. Hobbs isn't started until necessity requires it and then he hits the cover off the ball. He soon becomes the star player. The Knights are in an ownership struggle. The bad owner, The Judge (we know he's bad because he likes the dark), will retain control if the Knights don't win the pennant. For this reason he attempts to bribe Hobbs so he can retain control of the team. Hobbs continually declines. Towards the end of the season Roy ends up in the hospital. It turns out that he still had the bullet inside him and it was destroying his stomach. The doctor says that if he wants to live, Roy needs to stop playing baseball immediately. Roy ignores this advice so that he can do the right thing and help his team win the pennant. Roy wins the game with a miraculous home run in the bottom of the ninth. We are then treated to a brief scene of Roy and his son, who he only learned about just before his game-winning home run, playing catch on Roy's old family farm. The End.

Or is it? Cause it kind of looks like Roy Hobbs died on the field.

Hobbs's injury seems to be worse that anybody thought because it is actually oozing.
At this point in the game, Hobbs is down to his last swing. And unlike the mighty Casey, we're lead to believe that Roy Hobbs succeeded. However, I think with the last swing Roy Hobbs ruptured his wound to the point that he died. The reasons I think so are numerous. He is shown to be woozy and barely able to walk on occasion. The umpire even asks if Roy is ok. This is not a man who is about to hit the greatest home run of all time. Not only that but the home run is filled with some interesting imagery.

Things then slow down. I know this can be done for dramatic effect, but here I believe it is applied to create a surreal quality. The reason I also believe this is that when Hobbs swings the crowd is blacked out, so we only see him. Then the ball that Hobbs hit, creates a "bright light."
Hobbs then runs the bases while the field, and presumably the crowd, is showered with sparks and probably glass.

Hobbs crosses home plate in the dark. We catch a brief glimpse of how excited his team is. We're then treated to a shot of a slow moving baseball traveling among the sparks. This is probably intended to represent Hobbs's soul traveling to Heaven. We don't see the celebration of Hobbs and his teammates in the clubhouse. We don't see them playing in the World Series. We don't see the reconciliation of Hobbes and the mother of his child. We don't see the introduction of him to his boy. Instead, we just see ball. Then we see the ball land in Hobbs's son's glove. The boy is in a field with his mother and father. Hobbs and the boy are playing catch and we can see they are all truly happy.
And then that's it. The movie is over. Hobbs has to be dead and in Heaven. His team lost the game. The Judge took over control of the team. And that story isn't as happy. Which is why we're shown Hobbs in the afterlife, enjoying himself.

Whether he lived or died, we can all say, "There goes Roy Hobbs. The best there ever was."

Think I got it all wrong? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Future of Rename Earth (Updated 6/2/10)

Dear Rename Earth reader,

Hello . Lately, I have been unsure about the direction that this blog should take. I really enjoy writing the long and in-depth posts that sometimes take days or weeks to complete. However, because of the longer posts it means I don't update this site everyday. It has been brought to my attention that having shorter, but more frequent posts could benefit the site. I don't know which way to go on this, so I am asking for your input. Please take the time to vote in the poll. If you have more other ideas, please leave them in the comments section. The poll closes at midnight on June 1. Please take the time to cast your vote.

Thanks,
Tyler

PS
I will post the results of the poll and more during the first week of June.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moving Pictures Stole My Soul

Normally, I like the titles I come up with for my posts. But if I were to ever start a band, I would push hard for Moving Pictures Stole My Soul. That being said, here are a few movies that I've watched recently and my thoughts on them. Also, like most reviews, there will be spoilers.

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing (20th Anniversary Edition)Do the Right Thing is about race relations in America in the late 1980s. Danny Aiello and his sons own a pizza joint in a predominately black neighborhood. Spike Lee (who also wrote and directed) is the pizza delivery boy. There are other characters that we see and meet throughout the neighborhood, but the main story focuses on the pizza place. Now, I think I understand the point that Lee was attempting to make with his film. That we all silently hate each other and it will only get worse unless we make an effort to change. However, I think that Lee's message is delivered ham-fistedly. He portrays Aiello as a nice, if not overly tolerant, individual. However at the end of the film, when he is pushed by two characters who feel as though they've been hurt by him, he reaches into his bag of racial epithets and begins throwing them around more freely than Parmesan on a pizza. Lee's character is who we view the story through and he is not very sympathetic. He is an absentee father, who works a minimum wage job and does so poorly, and on top of all of that he is the one who escalates the racial standoff into a full-on riot. Yet, after the race riot and burning of the pizzaria, he goes to find Aiello and demands to be paid. This is probably the biggest downfall of the movie and what keeps it from being great. If the main character was just a little bit more sympathetic, this could work. As it stands, I think this is a move that's worth watching, but only once. (Currently available streaming on Netflix.)

Primer

Primer
This is a film all about time travel. The two characters accidentally create a way to travel through time. And so like everybody else would, they hide the secret and use it to make financial gains and save lives. This is an incredibly interesting concept, that becomes incredibly muddled as characters begin to go farther back in time or create multiple time machines. This is understandable because time travel is a mucky business. The major flaw this movie has is that the actors are all amateurs. That's what is keeping this from being one of those films that everybody has to see. Instead, it is one of those films that you hear about from your nerd friends who keep pushing it and then when you see it you have trouble following it and then when you see your friend again you give several non-committal answers so that you don't appear stupid. As it stands this is probably in the top five of time travel movies. It deals with the subject as honestly as you possibly can. Things like causality and paradoxes are dealt with in a mature and scientific manner, which is nice to see in a movie about time travel. Again, acting holds it back, but you should watch it. It may hurt your brain, but it's worth it. (Currently available streaming on Netflix.)


Alvin & the Chimpmunks 2: The Squeakquel

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Single-Disc Version)If you let your kids watch this movie, you are a bad parent. Seriously. If I find out you allowed your kids to see this, I am calling social services.








Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes [Blu-ray] I wasn't interested in seeing this movie. At the end of the film, I still felt uninterested.
Ever get the feeling that a movie was manufactured to sell other things? That's how this movie felt. The plot felt secondary to how "cool" everything is supposed to look. I don't really why anybody would enjoy this movie. Even for a superficial popcorn movie, this movie isn't much. I would say I was disappointed, but I had low expectations anyway.




Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by SapphireWinner of the most cumbersome title of 2009. This movie should have won all the Oscars. It had a great, compelling, and tragic story. The main character, Precious, is 16. She has one child, with a mental disability, and is pregnant with another. The father of both of her kids is her father. Her mom physically and verbally abuses her. Her life is enough for anybody to give up on, but she doesn't. Even after she finds out that she is HIV-positive. This is a tough film to watch, but it is so very well done that I couldn't stop. I cannot recommend this film enough. I don't want to spend the rest of this review saying how great this movie is and how much you should watch it, so please just go and do it.

Infernal Affairs

Infernal Affairs (Wu jian dao)This is the film that The Departed was based on. And when I say, "based on," I mean "run through Google Translator and made in Boston instead of Hong Kong." I watched this well after I saw and enjoyed Scorsese's movie. Then I saw this and realized that they completely ripped this off. Honestly, you probably needed to in order to get western audiences to see it, but still. I don't think I've ever seen a remake that took so few liberties with the story. Scenes, characters, and shots were lifted right into The Departed. Don't get me wrong, I love Scorsese, which is why I was so disappointed after I saw this movie. Not because I didn't like Infernal Affairs, but because I did. I highly recommend this one, if only so you can see how similar these two movies are.

Agree? Disagree? Think I am completely off my gourd? Let me know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where the BCS Has Brought Us: The Future of NCAA Football

Disclaimer: If you don't care about sports, in particular college football, you may want to skip this entry and come back for the next one. No hard feelings.

Now that Duke won and the NCAA Basketball season is over and nobody cares about the College World Series, let's talk college football. Specifically, what would happen if some of the ten team BCS conferences expanded to twelve.

A few months ago, the Big Ten (Eleven) conference announced they would be seeking to add another team. The only reason for this is to have a football championship game. A few weeks later, the Pac 10 responded by saying they were looking to add two teams to their conference for the same reason. Assuming that both of these conferences follow through and add the necessary teams, and the other major conferences stay the way they are, that means the strong conferences just got a lot stronger.

Let's take a look at these moves individually and see where they could lead.

Big Ten

The Big Ten needs to only add one school to reach the championship game threshold. Championships bring in huge dollars for the conference and national exposure thanks to the ABC, CBS, and ESPN broadcasting them. Currently, the Big Ten, Pac 10, and Big East don't have championship games. So, who could, and who should, the Big Ten court for this position?

Notre Dame : This is the smartest choice for both parties. The Big Ten adds the marquee school they need to attract a large national audience and create a buzz. Notre Dame finally joins a BCS conference and quits getting special treatment. Notre Dame's AD has even said that joining a conference may be an eventuality. The only reason that the Big Ten wouldn't make this move is because it doesn't expand their TV market. (Indiana University is already a member.) That's where the next few schools come in.

Rutgers or Syracuse: These are both private schools that, historically, haven't been football powerhouses. However, the motivation for adding these schools is clear: New York City. By adding either school, you can hope to take the college football market for NYC and make them Big Ten fans. Plus, the Big Ten Network also has a foothold into the nation's largest market. This would be purely a cash grab and everybody would know it. However, isn't the addition of a twelfth team a cash grab anyway? Why be sneaky about it.

Texas, Nebraska, or Missouri: All three of these Big 12 teams have been brought up and mentioned as possible additions to the Big Ten. If the Big Ten can't get the New York market, they'd be smart to push for Texas. Not only because they could get the large TV markets of Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, but the Big Ten schools could raid the nation's most fertile recruiting ground. If Texas did leave, they would be leaving lots of great history and rivalry. Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, and most importantly, Oklahoma, would be left in the dust. Texas would be doing a huge disservice to its heritage by jumping ship.

Nebraska and Missouri are the dark horses and I think the most likely to jump conferences. Both schools are in the Midwest, where the Big Ten makes its home; both have mentioned they would listen to any offers (meaning they'll go if asked); and both seem unhappy with their sitting in the Big 12. Both are members of the Big 12 North, which unlike the South, has been weak since the conference formed in 1994. However, both schools are founding members of the Big 12, as well as the previous incarnation the Big 8. It seems hard to believe that one of these schools would jump ship after such a long time, but the money that would come from the Big Ten Network, its TV deal with CBS or ABC/ESPN, and a national buzz, it is also hard to think that one of these schools wouldn't jump.

Who Will Go: Look for Notre Dame to join. As I stated above, this is the smartest move for both parties. However, if for some reason the Big Ten decides not to offer membership to Notre Dame (having been spurned in 1999) or Notre Dame decides not to join, look for Nebraska or Missouri to be the next on the list. Both schools would be a huge get for the Big Ten and a huge hole to fill for the Big 12. (More on the possible destruction of the Big 12 further below.)

Pac 10

A football championship game is the main reason that the Pac 10 wants to expand. It has a bit more work than the Big Ten, because it has to add two school as oppose to one. What schools are the Pac 10 likely to be looking at?

Colorado: Since the Pac 10 announced expansion, it has almost been assumed that the University of Colorado would join. The Pac 10's criteria for joining is a bit more stringent than other conferences. They want decent athletics and storied sports programs. Colorado kind of fits these requirements and has the Denver TV market which would prove valuable. If you do bring Colorado, the next question is who is going to be their rival? All the other schools are paired up with natural rivals (Cal/Stanford, USC/UCLA, OU/OSU, UW/WSU, and Arizona/ASU). The natural choice would be to bring their Big 12 rival, Nebraska.

Nebraska or Texas: There has been less buzz about Nebraska joining the Pac 10 than the Big Ten, but don't be surprised if they make the jump here. As mentioned above, they would make a good pairing with Colorado. Bringing them in though, would shatter some of their Big 12 rivalries (Texas, Oklahoma, and recently Missouri.) This would also be quite the geographical stretch. Nebraska has much more in common with the Big Ten schools than the Pac 10. Though it could happen, I don't see it playing out this way.

Texas has also been mentioned. They do meet the academic requirements and they have a huge following and TV market. For many of the same reasons as mentioned above, I don't seem them jumping to the Pac 10. Texas has too much going for it in the Big 12. No need to fix what isn't broken.

Utah or Brigham Young: Utah is generally mentioned in the same breath as Colorado as the front runner to the Pac 10. They would jump at the chance if given the offer. They would also bring the SLC TV market with them, which isn't too shabby. If they were to go with Colorado, the two schools could make a rivalry work, even though the schools have no real history. The only reason they don't join the conference is if the Pac 10 can get one of the bigger schools mentioned above.

BYU is a bit of a dark horse. They have the academic and sports requirements. However, they would be the only religious school in the conference. While that won't discount them from a spot in the new Pac 10, it could make the current school a bit nervous. If joined, they would do well as a rival for any of the above schools. And if for some reason, Utah and BYU were both tapped to join the Pac 10 their rivalry would mimic the rest of the schools in the league (close and in-state). BYU probably only joins if one of the Big 12 schools balks.

Boise State or San Diego State: Speaking of dark horses, it would be these two schools. The only reason that I am even mentioning either one is because they already have affiliations with the Pac 10 (SDSU for men's soccer and BSU for men's wrestling). However, they are both long shots to become full members. There are better schools academically and sports-wise that are more likely to join. While I think it would be great to see how BSU could preform in a BCS conference I don't think the Pac 10 is the place for it. If one of these schools gets chosen, a lot probably went wrong with the Pac 10's proposal to other schools.

Who Will Go: Look for Colorado and Utah to join. Everybody has a lot to gain from these schools joining and it appears to be what the Pac 10 would like for not only sports and academic reasons, but also geographic reasons. Colorado thought about going to the Pac 10 a few years ago, but ultimately balked. I think they still may hold and stay with the Big 12. If one of the Big 12 schools goes to the Big Ten, Colorado will be much more likely to jump. If Colorado doesn't go, look for BYU to fill their spot.


Big 12

If one of the Big 12 schools is picked off for joining either the Big Ten or Pac 10, the Big 12 will have to scramble to fill that void. Depending on what happens, as many as three spots could need to be filled. Who could make the jump and who would the Big 12 want?

Utah or Brigham Young: If one or both of these schools don't jump the Pac 10 and there are one or two spots open in the Big 12, both of these schools will merit large consideration. For the reasons mentioned in the Pac 10 section, they would make great choices for the Big 12. Helping BYU's cause is that the Big 12 already has a religious school as a part of its brethren (Baylor). While they would be good choices, they probably only come if one of the Big 12 North schools go.

Texas Christian: Since 1996, TCU has been a member of the WAC, Conference USA, and Mountain West. Joining a new conference wouldn't be unprecedented for them. On top of that, they do have a nice size TV market (Dallas/Fort Worth). They likely only jump if Texas bolts to the Big Ten or Pac 10, the Big 12 would be looking to fill a void in their South division. For that reason, I see them as a long shot to join the Big 12. Because Texas isn't likely to go anywhere, neither is TCU.

Boise State:  Another dark horse. This situation seems more likely, but still requires a bit to go BSU's way. At least two teams would have to leave the conference and either Utah or BYU would have to join the Pac 10. Boise State would fit into the Big 12 better than the Pac 10 and give the the Big 12 a reach into the Pacific Northwest. (Admittedly, Boise isn't much of a TV market and the Big 12 would probably be looking to extend itself beyond just Idaho viewers.) If Boise State does end up joining, it probably means a lot went wrong for the Big 12.

Colorado State or Air Force: Grabbing one or both of these schools would be the Big 12's attempt to hang on to the Colorado/Denver TV Market. Bringing in the AFA is unlikely, but Colorado State is a possibility. Colorado leaving isn't the only scenario that brings CSU in either. If Nebraska, Missouri, or even Texas, leave CSU could be brought in. They already have a bit of a rivalry with Colorado. Along with Utah and BYU, CSU would probably get the a lot of attention from the Big 12 if they need another school. However, the likelihood of them joining the Big 12 depends on how many schools are needed and what those two Utah schools do. However, don't be surprised if you end up seeing Colorado State as a Big 12 member.

Who Will Go: I think it is very likely that at least one Big 12 school leaves opening up a spot for one of the above schools. If there is only one spot, it probably goes to BYU or CSU. Both schools fit the criteria that the Big 12 could be looking for. If there are three spots to fill, it means Utah isn't in the Pac 10. In that case, add them and TCU to the mix to fill the open spots. It's hard to say who goes to the Big 12, because I don't know who is leaving. Still those four schools will get heavy consideration no matter how many teams leave. How many join, simply depends on how many of the current members leave.

Mountain West and WAC

If one, two, or even three schools are cherry-picked from these conferences, they will have to consider merging together again. (The WAC split in 1999 with some of the schools forming the Mountain West.) The merger could work out well for both conferences and could lead to an invite to join the BCS sooner than later. Currently the conferences boast Boise State, Hawai'i, Utah, and Texas Christian who have made a combined seven BCS bowl games going 5-2. (Though TCU's loss should have an asterisk because they played a non-BCS team for their 2010 Fiesta Bowl.) However, if one or two of these schools are asked to join the Big Ten, Pac 10, or Big 12 that could hurt any sort of BCS invite for the conference(s). What happens here is the biggest question mark, because it depends on so many other things. I can't even begin to break this down other than say, a reunification is the best idea for the conferences even if they don't have any teams poached.

So, that's just about every plausible scenario I could think of for the coming chaos of college football conference realignment. Did I miss a school? Miss an angle? Let me know in the comments section.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You Know, Reading is Fundamental and Shit

I have recently had the opportunity to sit down and read real books. This is a nice change of pace from my college days where I felt guilty if I ever picked up an unassigned book. (I could waste my days watching tv, going to the movies, or hanging out with friends, but if I picked up a book I would tell myself that I should be reading one of my textbooks.) Here's a rundown of the past few books I've read and what I thought about them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fixing The Electoral College

It seems that everybody is talking politics these days. Most of the discussions fall on the economy, government intervention, and health care. However, I'm not interested in rehashing these topics. Instead, I will try to help the mess that is The Electoral College.

The Electoral College, like most compromises, is far from perfect. Its design, like the bicameral Congress, was to put more balance between the large and small states. Since the disaster of the 2000 presidential election, recount, and eventual court case, there has been more talk of eliminating the Electoral College. (Admittedly, that talk has died off since George W. Bush is no longer holds office.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Commercials Are the New Radio

Ever since I got my first iPod, I have shunned the radio. This was fine at first because I had all the music that I could possibly want and I had bands that I followed. Quickly, I fell behind. New artists came out, I would hear people talking about new songs, and I had no idea what they were talking about. It became a struggle. I could either listen to the insular world that my iPod provided or hear new (though not necessarily good or great) songs. So, I did. I retreated. And eventually The Beatles topped all my playlists. However, as much as I love The Beatles, even they grew stale. And so did much else in my library. I wanted to hear new bands and songs, but I could no longer listen to the radio. There's too much crap and too many commercials. Surprisingly, it would be advertisements and ad execs that came to my rescue.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Qu'est-ce que c'est? (Learning French: Part Two)

For part one, click here

The title of this blog simply means, "what is this?" Though I first heard the phrase coming from the Talking Heads in this song. (Skip to 1:20 for the start of the song.)

When we last spoke (meaning, when I last wrote and you last read), I had just finished my first lesson using Rosetta Stone. I have just finished the first unit and thought I would give you a bit of an update on how things are progressing. Plus, this helps to keep me accountable on my learning.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Becoming A Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkey (Learning French: Part One)

If you don't get the title, please click here.

For a while I have been wanting to learn a new language. In high school I took a year of Spanish and then found out that it was not required to graduate. Needless to say, I took no more Spanish. When I first enrolled at the college, I signed up for Japanese. (They did have a language requirement for graduation.) I dropped that class halfway through the semester. After taking several classes about Canada  I became interested in Quebec and in order to travel there, I decided I would have to learn French.

Now that the question of which language to study had been settled, I needed to figure out how I was going to accomplish this feat. Classes are behind me now that I have graduated. Tutors sound expensive and will require a rigorous commitment. So, how am I going to learn anything? Turns out there is another way.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Breaking Down "The O'Reilly Factor"

Before you read any of this, you may want to know my political affiliation. But, I won't be going into that. This isn't necessarily an attack on O'Reilly or Fox for their viewpoints. Rather, this will mostly focus on the nonsense that is produced on the show, The O'Reilly Factor. That being said, let's get into it.

On February 3rd and 4th, The O'Reilly Factor aired parts of a 45 minute interview with Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." This intrigued me and I watched. The way that O'Reilly has his February 3rd show organized bothered me, so I decided to take a closer look at the next episode and go over everything that irked me.

O'Reilly begins his show with a segment called "Talking Points Memo."
This is where he goes over the big news story of the day (on this day it was response to the first part of his interview with Stewart). The words that he says out loud are written on the right of the screen while he says it. This is the most blatant form of talking down to an audience I have ever seen. Every other news and "news" show presupposes that I am smart enough to follow along with the person on screen while he/she is talking. From now on, I will use time stamps to help you keep up.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Skittle Vodka or How To Make Pretty Colored Alcohol

A few years ago, I came across a post on how to make Skittle-flavored vodka. I have wanted to do this for a while but never actually got around to it. I finally did it because I have a friend's birthday coming up and thought this would be a fun gift. This is fairly easy to do, and I encourage you all to give it a try.

Supplies you will need:
  • A large bag of Skittles
  • Five 20 oz. plastic bottles (Water bottles work well and are readily available.)
  • Five glass bottles (This can be anywhere from 10-20 oz. It comes down to personal preference; I went with 16 oz.)
  • Five plastic bags or bowls (To house the different colored candies.)
  • A plastic funnel
  • Coffee filters (I recommend the smaller ones for 4 cup machines, they are just the right size.)
  • A lot of Vodka (This is going to depend on the size of your glass bottles. You will probably have to convert oz. to mL, this can be done through any number of websites including Google.)
Ok, now that you have all of your supplies, your first job is to separate the Skittles into their different colors.


Monday, January 18, 2010

First Post!!

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Tyler and I will be your host for the rest of the time you are on here. This is my first blog and I feel like I should take a minute and explain what it is that I plan to do here. This blog should serve at least three purposes:
  1. To come up with a much more interesting name for the third planet from the star Sol.
  2. To serve as an outlet for my thoughts about movies, books, tv shows, sports, politics, things I have seen on the internet, and anything else that comes to my mind. 
  3. To keep me from being bored, now that I have graduated from University.
I should clarify a bit about point two. This will not be another of the far too many pop culture blogs. My tastes (and probably yours as well) tend to be a bit more diverse than what is happening right now. Posts on movies and television shows may deal with things that have long since run their course. Posts dealing with books are likely to cover paperbacks, if only because my schedule and budget don't allow for me to always shop new releases.

Hopefully this will be an entertaining addition to your web browsing. As you can see, things are just getting started and a less generic layout and color scheme should come along. It should be noted that [osts will typically come once a day or so. Because it won't necessarily be a daily blog, I suggest you subscribe to my RSS or Twitter feeds. If you have any questions or comments, please drop a line at the bottom of this or any future post. Until next time, thanks for reading! And remember, "Earth" sucks.