April 27, 2006

A Little Help From the Audience

Something I've seen about some other blogs that I like and am in the process of adopting is daily features. I'm sure you've noticed the New Music Tuesday pattern. Also included is the Album of the Week. Monday is "Tip, Trick and Tool" the New Music Tuesday is obviously Tuesday's feature, Album of the Week is Sunday. I'm looking to fill in the rest of the days, but I'm looking for a little more direction. I've had a few suggestions come in via email for more downloadable music. Others have suggested a Thursday column about the previous night's Lost episode. I've gotten a few requests to bring back the album cover thread. I'll still have my day to day posts, but this would add some additional discussion and probably interest as well. So here are some of the suggestions, I'm asking for more. Sports discussion has been moved over to One, Two, Three Strikes, and there has been positive feedback about that (both from the non-sports people and the sportos). There's some great topics lately over on The BLB Nation, too (not to mention the subsequent traffic increase).

Monday Q & A
Thursday Lost Recap (which I don't have a problem with other than the summer is coming and the episodes will end...who needs a summer of discussing the crazy cliff hanger at the end of the season the producers promise?)
Album Cover of the Week
Discovery Music Download (Don't sue me, Apple)
Weekly update on the project

So leave a comment, or better yet, email [mkinmotion(at)gmail(dot)com] your suggestions...you're reading this now, so you have at least some interest.

April 25, 2006

New Music Tuesday: Back to the Roots

New releases this week lead us back to some roots of modern music.

Pete Seeger. No, not Bob Seger of Chevrolet fame. Pete Seeger has been an influence on music for years and years. It seems to have all started with he dropped out of Harvard in the 30's. He was aquainted with Woody Guthrie in 1940. The 40's and 50's saw Seeger be accused of being a communist by Joseph McCarthy. In 1958, Seeger set out on his own and perhaps helped shape the face of 50's and 60's folk music. Such folk classics as "If I Had a Hammer," "We Shall Overcome," and "Turn, Turn, Turn" (popularized by the Byrds) were written by Seeger. He was an early supporter of Bob Dylan, a friend of Johnny and June Cash, and continues to have an influence today.
Bruce Springsteen put together a great ensemble to tribute Pete Seeger. He brought in some members of the Max Weinberg Seven. The Boss brings his usual enthusiasm to the project and his admiration for Seeger in We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Many of the songs will help you recognize the talent that Seeger possesses.

Also new this week is an album of duets from Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. All the Roadrunning has some beautiful songs that highlight Emmylou's voice and Mark Knopfler's guitar.

Did you ever think you would see the tag "double bass virtuoso" in my blog? Well this week Edgar Meyer lives up to his tag with a self titled release. Perhaps you've never heard of Meyer, but he has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Bela Fleck and James Taylor. This album is all him. You'll get some folk, bluegrass and even some classical on this album.

April 24, 2006

Tip, Trick and Tool #1

I've decided that I will put 1 tip, 1 trick and 1 tool into a weekly post. This week, though I've got two tips and two tool. Enjoy. Let me know what you think.

Check out Meebo. It's an IM aggregator. If you have say, an AIM, a Yahoo, an ICQ, and an MSN messenger, you can sign in to all of them at the same time. It's web-based so it doesn't require installing software. Give it a shot, I think you'll like it.

I've been messing around with RSS readers lately trying to find one that I like. I'm not completely satisfied with any of them, but the one that I recommend is SharpReader. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, email me and let me know so I can set you on a path to a better life. If you have a better RSS reader (for PC) let me know.

Do you like Google maps? Do you like MapQuest? Well, let me propose that you check out Microsoft's Local.Live. It's in beta, so it's still got some kinks, but lets face it, so does Google and have you ever actually followed the directions that MapQuest gives you? What's sold me on Local.Live so far is that I can double click on a city and zoom there it is. Give it a shot.

Any Gmailers out there? Not a gmailer? Let me introduce you to Google Calendar. Think a web-based Outlook...but (and this is a big but) there's more. You can share appointments with other google calendar users, you can set up your reminders to email or text you when it's time for them. Similarly to Outlook, you can propose or invite people to events or meetings. You can choose to share or keep private as much of the calendar you wish. I haven't had a lot of meetings or appointments lately, but I can see how it would be quite useful for you busy people.

April 23, 2006

April 23 - A Day of Firsts

(Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron, 1954)

On April 23, 1954, Hank Aaron hit his first of 755 career home runs. Hank was 20 when he hit his first, 40 when he passed Ruth with #715, and 42 when he hit #755 in 1976.

On April 23, 1956, Elvis Presley performed in Las Vegas for the first time. No not the Vegas or the Elvis you think of immediately...

(A young Elvis Presley in 1956)

Also notable on today's date:

New Coke debuted in 1985.

Shirley Temple born in 1928.

Roy Orbison born in 1936.

Lee Majors (who I think of more as "The Fall Guy" than the bionic man) born in 1939.

Howard Cosell passed away in 1995.

James Earl Ray (the man who confessed to assasinating MLK) died in 1998.

Not to go unnoticed, Happy Beer Day (gluckstag bier) Germany!

Album of the Week

This week's album came out a couple of months ago. When most of you think of Shawn Mullins, you think of his smash hit from 1998 "Lullaby." Soul's Core is still one of my favorite albums.

"Pretty soon, I’ll be a drivin' fool somewhere down this lost highway/ then I hear a voice from my soul’s core sayin' freedom’s just a metaphor, you got nowhere to go" -from "Gulf of Mexico"

A side story about Soul's Core: The Mad Fishicist and I went to Valdez before he moved there to visit Belle Etoile. We quickly discovered that on a rainy, windy, cold, early fall day, there isn't much to do in Valdez, Alaska. We spent the day going from one place to the next avoiding the rain...we got the Valdez library tour, watched the earthquake video and most of the pipeline video, watched millions of pink salmon dying for fresh water, and visited the Valdez music store. We bought, or I bought, or he bought two tapes. Yes, casette tapes. One of the two was Soul's Core and the other was Depeche Mode's Ultra, or was it Songs of Faith and Devotion?

But back to the album of the week...9th Ward Pickin' Parlor. The title suggests a New Orleans theme. Mullins hails from Decatur, Georgia outside of Atlanta. He attended college on an ROTC scholarship with an obligation of service after his graduation. He served in the IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) and acheived the rank of 1st Lieutenant but resigned honorably once his commitment was fulfilled. He has said that he has stayed in contact with a lot of the guys who he served with. The word that comes to mind when I listen to his music is "true." A lot of people wrote him off because of the success of "Lullaby." He's continued to create spectacular music. His follow-up to Soul's Core didn't find commercial or critical success, and in 2002, he teamed up with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge to form The Thorns. The Thorns made some noise on the scene not only bringing supergroup back into our vocabulary, but also echoes of Crosby Stills & Nash. With songs like "Faith" and "Beautiful Wreck," 9th Ward has elements of blues, folk and rock. Definately check it out, the link below will take you to iTunes where you can hear samples of the songs. If you're not an iTunes person, there's an Amazon link at the bottom, as well.

Shawn Mullins - 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor

April 19, 2006

Strays Don't Need To Sleep

Let me preface this by saying I'm typing this sitting outside in the sunshine that has been so absent from Bay Area skies for months. The thermometer says 74, sitting in the sun feels much warmer.

Pretty amazing show last night. I saw Strays Don't Sleep open for Josh Rouse at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. I got there early to avoid the traffic mess that is San Francisco. I grabbed a Coke across the street at a little deli and stood outside of the deli for a while having some interesting conversations with various homeless and street people. At one point I looked over and there was Matthew Ryan with both hands full of coffee cups (an independent coffee vendor, if you were wondering) turning down the same homeless woman that asked me for taxi fair and bus fair within a minute not realizing I was the same person. Honestly, like most musicians, he doesn't stand out, but I was still a little star struck, but figured identifying him might tip the locals off that he might be worth hassling (Looking out for you MRyan). Josh Rouse also walked by (seperately), but at the time I wouldn't have been able to pick him out of a crowd. Getting there early means getting in early; which usually means you get the best "seat." I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume most of you have never been to GAMH. They offer dinner tickets as well as standard GA tickets. The dinner folks were ushered in before the rest of us. The hall is set up with a balcony that goes around three sides of the room. I went up to the balcony initially, because there were seats and I'd been on my feet for quite some time. Once I realized that the better seats were down on the floor, I made my way down. The line was coming through the door slow enough that I walked right past the crowd and staked out the front of the stage. They had the Strays gear set up, so I positioned myself right between where Matthew Ryan and Neilson Hubbard would be. I've kowtowed to Brian before, so I was stepping away from his side.
Strays took the stage and they didn't hesitate. They are releasing their album in June, so I've only been able to hear snippets of their stuff and a few tracks that iTunes has. It sounded so great. I got a lot of stage sound rather than the PA mix because all the speakers were behind me. Neilson, Matthew and Steve (drums) harmonized their three distinct voices together to make magic. I found myself drifting in to their songs as the images were so well drawn. Matthew jumped into the crowd and serenaded the crowd managing the hug and then steal a girl's purse...he gave it back. Their set had so much energy and yet still maintained the quiet intensity on songs like "For Blue Skies." I wanted them to play longer and I was jonesing for some Matthew Ryan songs. I've become so attached to his music over the last few years! When their set was over Matthew had to unplug his foot pedal bank right next to me. He leaned down and made eye contact with me, so I extended my hand for a handshake and all I could come up with was "Great Show." He shook my hand and thanked me. Not quite the personal interaction I had with him in Portland a few years ago, but I'll take it.
Much like when I saw Matthew Ryan open for Gary Jules in Portland in 2004, it seems the crowd was there for Josh Rouse. I overheard a few conversations that included "Who's opening?" and heard a few people say, "Don't know, don't care." But the crowd got into them and I overheard a couple talking after the show while we waited for a light to change and she said, "What did you think?" He said, "I could have dealt without the second guy, he made me want to put two bullets in my head, but the first band was great." I almost said somehting, but I held back. Unlike this guy, I enjoyed Josh Rouse. Not nearly as much as Strays, but he brought Neilson, Brian and Steve out to back him up on a few of the upbeat songs. Brian played bass, which put him right in front of me. I like his stuff, I'm not sure I like him, though. Maybe it was the gum he was chewing, but he seemed like he owned the place a bit, but maybe he did, because the crowd seemed to know every word to every song. And I've got to hand it to him, he had a four peice string section (nicknamed the Earthquake Quartet, being it was the centenniel of the SF quake in 1906) which brought his melodies to life. All in all, a really good show. Probably created some new Strays fans, though I'd think it would be hard to say, "We're Strays Don't Sleep, we made you all like our music, but it's gonna be another couple of months before you can buy our CD." So if you were there and found me via Google, you can get more amazing music from Strays Don't Sleep by getting yourself some Matthew Ryan or Neilson Hubbard. But for those of you that are interested in seeing Strays or Josh Rouse, their next stop is Los Angeles, and it looks like a new date was added in LA where Strays will open for Matthew Ryan or vice versa (Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, Thursday 4/20). I wish they'd done that in SF. Check out Strays on myspace for tour info.
Here's a start...Strays Don't Sleep performing "For Blue Skies" which appears on the One Tree Hill soundtrack, but don't let that deter you from checking it out.

Also if anyone reading this is or knows the guy with the fancy camera who was in the front row on the left (stage right) and can either get me in contact with him or a link to flickr or some place, I'd love that. I forgot my camera and felt like an a-hole because I was so close.

April 18, 2006

New Music Tuesday: Spring Edition

Tuesdays are great days for music. This week particularly. Here's a look at the new music coming out this week.

Dirty Southern Rock hasn't been the same since Drive-By Truckers hit the scene. A Blessing And A Curse could be a great introduction if you haven't heard these guys. I recommend also picking up Decoration Day or Southern Rock Opera.

For a little preview here's Gravity's Gone...

Also making a strong showing today is Mat Kearney's Nothing Left To Lose. The title track has made it onto a few compilations and playlists. I don't know much about Mat, but I do know that he should remind you a bit of Coldplay.

Susanna Hoffs. Seriously, who didn't have a crush on Susanna growing up? Well she and Matthew Sweet released an album of covers called Under the Covers, Vol. 1. I like covers and I like cover albums...I live album covers too. Matthew and Susanna cover classics from The Beatles, The Zombies and The Who. Very well done.

Tonight as most of you remember, I'm off to see Josh Rouse and Strays Don't Sleep. Of course, I'm more excited to see Strays Don't Sleep, especially Matthew Ryan, I'm very impressed with Josh Rouse's new album Subtitulo.

April 14, 2006

A Show of Hands

Seriously, who buys "authentic" Survivor buffs? I'll admit I've been watching this season. The last one I watched was season 4 (Marquesas). But never have I been drawn to the show enough to buy one of the buffs they advertise every week, but they do advertise them every week so I'm thinking America has made a market for them. So raise your hand if you've ever bought one.

April 12, 2006

Strays Don't Sleep and Responses

Strays Don't Sleep is a musical collaboration of friends. As I've mentioned on here before, I'm a huge fan of Matthew Ryan and he happens to be one of the collaborators in Strays. I'm excited that they will be in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall (GAHM for locals). Even more excited that I will be there. If you're in the SF bay area, I highly recommend you check them out. Mind you, they're opening for Josh Rouse who has made it into my playlists over the past year, so if you're into Josh Rouse, you should definately check this out. Strays have some tracks on iTunes that I highly recommend. And for my UK readers/friends, this tour will be headed to the UK in May. Details can be found at the websites linked above.

I've gotten a lot of positive responses and some questions from my last post about the project. I encourage you to ask whatever catches your curiosity. I already have a few places to add to the trip that were suggested by readers.

Q: What do I get for sponsoring a mile? Can I sponsor a specific mile?

A: Well, hopefully you sponsor more than one mile, but aside from that. If you wish, you will receive a mention of yourself, your internet moniker, your blog, your product, whatever you wish. If you would like a particular mile, we can try to work that out.

Q: How much of your budget is covered by donations or sponsors?

A: I'd honestly like to cover as much of the cost by people getting involved in one way or another. That may seem selfish, and maybe it is, but I think I can pull through on providing a daily escape from wherever you are to wherever I am.

Q: Souvenirs?

A: I thought about that. And I'm up for it. As I get closer to leaving, I'll start to list stopovers along the way. If you want a souvenir from one of them, drop an appropriate amount of money onto PayPal including shipping cost (usually 3-5 bucks for shipping). T-shirts, hats, postcards (shipping definately much cheaper), and other trinkets. I have one friend who has already asked for a few shot glasses.

Q: What do you mean "if I can agree with 'the cause'"?

A: There are products I use and there are products I don't. If I don't agree with a product or a company, (depending on the offer, this is America, right?) I could turn down their money. Another example would be something like diapers. Not anything I use (I promise) or could use, so unless the deal would be sweet, I won't promote diapers. Maybe someone will sponsor me in exchange to pimp using cloth non-disposible diapers...now that's a cause I could attach myself to. Kind of like Bob Barker and the spay and neuter your pets tag.

Q: Do roller coasters count as roadside attractions?

A: Of course, as do Major and Minor League Baseball.

Thanks for the questions, and thanks for the donations. I appreciate it all. Also feel free to submit your tracks for the ultimate MKinMotion playlist.

April 11, 2006

In Motion

A month or two ago, I mentioned an idea I was kicking around. Something I’ve been thinking about for a few years, actually. From here on out it will be referred to as a project because it is more than in the works. The idea is to travel the United States via minor highways and country roads. Throughout the journey I will document what I learn, what I see and of course where I go.

What will I be trying to accomplish on this project? Well, the primary goal would be travel, fishing, adventure, enlightenment, blah, blah, blah and blah. A secondary goal is to document my experiences with various medium. This blog, a likely podcast, and several book ideas that I would be formulating. Along the way I would explore various aspects of American life across America. Along with a fair catalog of music and ideas, MK will truly go in motion. I will pack my fishing gear, golf clubs, laptop, camera, guitar and an adventurous spirit. There are places I’d like to see and in the coming weeks I will make some of those public, but I’m also looking for participation from you.

The best part of this project is your ability to get involved. There are a number of ways you can get involved. The first and easiest is by reading and listening. The idea of vicariously traveling around the United States has to appeal to some of you. By reading and providing feedback, you can also have some impact on the direction and outcome of the project. Another way you can get involved is by participating. As I move across the country, you could have the opportunity to meet up with me and either give me a tour of your world or travel with me for a leg.

As I work through the preparations for this project, I solicit your ideas of places to visit. Some standards like national parks, landmarks, museums and historical spots are always interesting. There are a lot that are fairly well known, but what I’m looking for is the ones that aren’t as well known.

I’ve developed a pretty extensive spreadsheet to act as a budget. Another way to participate is to sponsor me. You can do this a number of ways, the easiest for you and for me is to use PayPal (there will now be a button on the sidebar and I will publish my progress), but there are other ways. My budget can be divided out to be about $0.52 per mile, so sponsoring individual miles is an option. I’m also set up as an Amazon.com associate, so any purchases made through this site generate some income to me. Other ways to contribute financially would be to sponsor individual items that will be used along the way. I’ve created a wish list on Amazon with some items and will keep it updated as the project goes along.

You might be asking yourself, why would I want to get involved? Why would I want to spend my hard earned money on this project? Well, other than the obvious thrill of traveling the U.S. vicariously through me, you would earn my respect and get yourself mentioned in any capacity this project earns notoriety. Whether it is the podcast or other podcasters/bloggers covering me, etc.; my sponsors would be the champions of my project. Cross promotional opportunities…synergy.

And I know someone out there wants to design me a logo. Because we all know that MERCH is a great way to get some funds.

If you work for or own a company that has some sort of product or wants very cheap advertising, I will also accept corporate sponsorship. I am actively seeking minor sponsorship from some companies whose products I already use and would be willing to make sure everyone knew I used them. As I fish and golf and explore the U.S. I will have ample opportunity to share my experience with countless people. This could be as simple as bumper stickers, T-Shirts, Baseball caps, etc. I am willing to turn myself and my truck into a cross country traveling billboard as long as I can agree with the “cause.”

In the coming weeks I will post much more about the project. My target is to launch somewhere around the 1st of June.

So submit your donations, submit your ideas, and submit your corporate sponsorships…

Of course I will have more updates and develop this as the project goes along.

I got mentioned on a podcast. It wasn't much, I added myself to their frappr map and they thought my parents must not like me to have named me MKinMotion. The podcast is called "The Big Show" and is done by a married couple in the Phoenix area.

April 8, 2006


Compartmentalize: To separate into isolated compartments or categories.

I've created a separate blog to cover baseball topics. I got some feedback and did some thinking. Seems like a decent idea, afterall, I have been pouring it on a little thick with the Blazer post and all the baseball. If you enjoy the sports stuff follow me over here. For the rest of you, I'll get back to the normal music, movies, life and other topics here.

Sidenote: If you would like to contribute to One, Two, Three Strikes, submit your stuff to mkinmotion(at)gmail(dot)com.

April 7, 2006

Superman Returns...

...to earth.

After going 2 for 2 with both hits being home runs to start the season, Albert Pujols has returned to earth. His average after 4 games is .357 (which is what we can expect the whole year). Something to remember as I keep you updated on Albert all season; the guy is only 26.

So here's his line:

Avg: .357
HR: 3
RBI: 6
SB: 1

His career numbers are unbelievable. He's on pace to easily put his name in the same sentence as DiMaggio, Mantle, Musial, and others.

Career: 5 seasons
Avg.: .333
HR: 204
RBI: 627

Funny, ESPN has his totals for the season and then projections based on them...according to their projection Pujols will have 122 home runs, 243 RBI, and 41 stolen bases. That would definately break the season total without any asterisks. Speaking of single season HR record, Roger Maris was only 26 when he hit 61 in 1961, which made me think of what other guys did at 26. Babe Ruth hit 59 in 1921; ARod hit 57 in 2002; Ralph Kiner hit 54 in 1949; Cecil Fielder had his MVP year and hit 51 in 1990; Griffey hit 49 in 1996; Harmon Killebrew hit 48 in 1962. Bonds only hit 33 when he was 26 in 1990 (but won the MVP [man those sportswriters sure hate him, giving him the MVP 7 times]), but we all know the rest of that story. Mickey Mantle had 42 home runs while batting .304 in 1958 when he was 26, but came in 5th in the MVP race to Jackie Jensen who had 35 HR and batted .286. Mantle a Yankee and Jensen on the Red Sox...rivalry, gotta love it. So 26 can be a magical age for a baseball player and although 122 home runs is a bit of a stretch, Pujols can definately make it a memorable year.

April 6, 2006

MLB Predictions

Lots of magazines, newspapers and TV networks are making their predictions for the MLB season, so I figured, why be left out?

American League
MVP (Most Valuable Player): Manny Ramirez, Red Sox

Cy Young: Johan Santana, Twins

ROY (Rookie of the Year): Francisco Liriano, Twins

CPOY (Comeback Player of the Year): Frank Thomas, A's

MOY(Manager of the Year): Ken Macha, A's

National League
MVP: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Cy Young: Jake Peavy, Padres

ROY: Prince Fielder, Brewers

CPOY: Scott Rolen, Cardinals

MOY: Grady Little, Dodgers

West: Angels
Central: Indians
East: Red Sox
Wildcard: A's

West: Dodgers
Central: Cardinals
East: Mets
Wildcard: Braves

First Round
Red Sox def. Angels
A's def. Indians
Cardinals def. Braves
Dodgers def. Mets

A's def. Red Sox
Cardinals def. Dodgers

World Series
Cardinals def. A's

April 5, 2006

Apparently recently, someone clued Bono in to his lyrical mistake. In live versions from the beginning of the Vertigo tour (San Diego and Seattle) he's still saying "Early morning..." In Portland on Dec 19, he sings "Evening, April 4..." I've posted a link to a mp3 of said Portland Vertigo show. Just the one track...

Pride (In The Name Of Love) ++link removed++

And if for some reason the band would like this link removed, just email me...cause boy, do I have got some questions for you...

April 4, 2006

Sleep, Sleep Tonight

Are U2 revision historians? You may wonder where this is coming from. In their masterpiece "Pride (In The Name Of Love)," the lyric is "Early morning, April 4, shots ring out in the Memphis sky. Free at last they took your life, they could not take your pride. " Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 at 6:01PM. I've included the conclusion of MLK's famous "I Have A Dream" speech as a tribute to the day he was assassinated.

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today my friends — so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning 'My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!'

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi — from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring — when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children — black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics - will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (August 28, 1963, Washington D.C.)

April 3, 2006

Play Ball!!

Although the season officially began last night with the White Sox and Indians, the season really begins today. With 26 teams in action today, the promise of a great MLB season is underway. And despite President Bush's weak sauce in Cincinnati, we're underway. As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of the Cardinals and the Red Sox. Today has looked good for both teams so far. At this point, I'm watching the Red Sox and Rangers on ESPN2 and Mike Lowell just went deep to make it a 7-2 lead. As a fan of Boston and St. Louis I can be encouraged by a number of things. Curt Schilling looked great. He pitched 7 innings giving up only 2 runs on 5 hits. Mike Lowell's homer is a great sign. Lowell was fodder in the trade that brought Josh Beckett to the Red Sox. Traditionally he's been an offensive threat, though last year he struggled. Getting a change of scenery and a quick start can be very good for Lowell and the Red Sox. Coco Crisp has been phenomenal in centerfield, despite no caveman appearance. David Ortiz hit a home run and doubled. At the time of this post, he's 3-4 with 3 RBI (ends game 3-5). And not to be outdone, in Philadelphia the Cardinals have jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the 6th. Cris Carpenter looks good, and Albert Pujols has 2 home runs (the second of which was an upper deck blast). Another good sign is Scott Rolen's grand slam. Coming back from a shoulder injury, it means a lot that he can make a big impact. I'll be tracking Albert Pujols all season.

April 2, 2006

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

I will preface this post with a few disclaimers.

1. I am a Laker fan.
2. Hindsight is 20-20.

I grew up in Portland. Though I don't remember it, I was alive during the Championship win in 1977. I remember Billy Ray Bates, Darnell Valentine, Kiki Vanderweghe. The first games I attended I saw Dr. Jack Ramsey (PhD in Education, in case you ever wondered) coach. I held on tight as Mychal Thompson did curls with me and another 2nd grader when he visited our school.

Jim (Yes, Jim not John) Paxson led the team in scoring. Kelvin Ramsey, Kermit Washington...I could go on about the 1981 Blazers, but I won't.

The first game I went to was against the hapless Utah Jazz...the pre-Malone/Stockton Jazz. Billy Ray Bates seemed to have flown higher than our seats to dunk. I was hooked on the game.

However, something happened the next time I went to a Blazer game. Los Angeles came to town. I was already a fan of the Lakers, I'd written a biography of Kareem Abdul Jabbar in 4th grade. This was the Showtime Lakers. Magic Johnson, Kareem, Worthy and a rookie from Oregon State University and Benson High School, AC Green. I remember that the Portland crowd cheered when AC was introduced.

Things had gone awry the previous summer. Portland ended up with the second pick in the draft. This was an interesting predicament. I think it was pretty clear that Akeem (prior to his name change to Hakeem) Olajuwon would go with the top pick. When the second pick came around, I'm sure they were thinking they were just a piece of the puzzle away from greatness. They had two quality guards in Paxson and a young Clyde Drexler and solid forwards with Calvin Natt, Mychal Thompson and Kenny Carr all they needed was a center. Olajuwon was gone, so the next best thing was Kentucky's Sam Bowie.

This is a huge piece of Blazer lore because the picks that followed Sam Bowie were Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, etc (incidentally, Carl Lewis [yes, the sprinter] was also drafted by the Bulls). The Blazers passed up three hall of famers for Bowie who became a huge bust which I can tell you already figured out by the blank stare on your face. 2nd picks are always a challenge. This may be a lot of people's answer to the topic question. However, without Michael Jordan the Blazers reached the Finals twice.

Of course, Jordan reached the finals 6 times and won each time.
Things went wrong from the end of that second finals appearance. And lots of common questions come up:

1. Should they have traded Drexler (afterall he left and won a title)?
2. Should they have played Jermaine O'Neal?
3. J.R. Rider?

No doubt one of the biggest problems with the Blazers, and it's still a problem is that they overpay for potential. Their roster today is dripping with talent and potential, but there's no way they should be so far above the salary cap with that production. Here's MKinMotion's blueprint for the Blazers...and you better hurry before they become the San Jose Blazers or St. Louis Blazers.

1. Pick a couple of young players and build around them. But you must stick with the players you choose to build around and not keep changing.
2. Get rid of Travis Outlaw or get him to change his number (#25), see #3.
3. Get some good karma by retiring #25 for Jerome Kersey (who incidentally left the Blazers for the Spurs and won a championship), #30 for Terry Porter, #00 for Kevin Duckworth and #52 for Buck Williams...even Uncle Cliffy if you're up to it.
4. Stop making bad trades and bad deals. I think their still paying salaries to Pippen, Sabonis, Bonzi and Damon. (That's sarcasm, by the way, so no need to email me about being inaccurate).