Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Bear is Back!

Last year the Bruin's launched a web-series titled The Bear and the Gang which chronicled the interactions between the B's mascot and various Bruins players, staff and personalities. If you missed any of last season don't fret, both first season episodes are still up on the teams site. (Claude Julien steals the show.)

Earlier today the team unveiled the trailer for Season 2...

So basically Season 2 is going to be even better - if that's possible. There's so much that's right with this video. Johnny Boychuk rocking the goggles from Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Loui Eriksson's face watching the Bear carrying a sheep through the locker room. (Although in fairness to Eriksson he really only has one face. I'm not lying look at how far down you have to go to actually see him smile.) Or perhaps Brad Marchand throwing out a sac tap that would make Ashley Schaeffer jealous.

Check it out and let us know what you think. And don't forget to tune back in when the second season begins on December...ish.

Christian Ehrhoff Scores OT Goal Through Defeseman's Skate

Wow.  Really all you can say here. 

The Buffalo Sabres were down early in this game, but rallied to score twice in the second period, eventually forcing overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The Sabres and Leafs added another chapter to their wild 2013 rivalry.

But the whole game pales in comparison to what Buffalo blue liner Christian Ehrhoff was able to do just 32 seconds into overtime.  With a waning power play, the Sabres won the face off and the puck squeaked out to Tyler Myers.  Myers held and passed across to Ehrhoff, who drifted into the slot and ripped a low slap shot that found its way to the nylon.  Impressive enough, sure, but watch what happens when the puck leaves Ehrhoff's stick.

Ohhhhh SNAP! And could James Reimer's have left that five-hole any wider open?

The Sabres earn points number 12 and 13 on the season with their sixth win, while the Leafs earn a point to tie the Montreal Canadiens for fourth place in the Atlantic. Montreal and Toronto will square off Saturday night to break the tie, while Buffalo goes into New Jersey to take on the Devils, who are 6-4-0 over their last 10 games.

Bo Pelini Is Unfit for Society

Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini has outdone himself this time.  While I could explain his profanity-laced tirade towards his own fans at Nebraska that came out earlier in the season, wouldn't it be more enjoyable to watch a Taiwanese animation of it?

We thought so too.  So now that you're up to speed, the video of Pelini swinging his hat nearly into a referee's face during the Iowa game makes a little bit more sense.  But in typical fashion, Bo once again let his words speak louder than his actions.

"I thought that was a chicken shit call. Excuse my language on that, but I've never seen anything like that before."

Pelini was referring to a pass interference call about halfway through the third quarter, which came just after he was leaving the field at halftime and was already fuming.

"I don't coach to make a case," Pelini said to reporters immediately following the game. "If they want to fire me, go ahead.  I believe in what I've done, I don't apologize for what I've done."

Awkward.  Safe to say Nebraska has not had the season that Pelini has envisioned, and currently sits at 8-4.  This is his sixth year of coaching the Cornhuskers, and while his antics may not be loved by the school, the players have a pretty deep-seeded respect for the man.

"I would play for Bo Pelini against Satan himself and a team of demons at the gates of the underworld."

Ladies and gentlemen, the quote of the century brought to you by Cornhusker receiver Kenny Bell.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Case for Rob Ford

By this point in time, unless you've been living under a rock or in the Dakotas, you've heard of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Ford has made more headlines than a Kardashian over the past couple months and by the looks of things, he's just heating up. If you aren't familiar with Ford, here's a trailer from the 1996 Chris Farley classic Black Sheep to get you up to speed.

Ford has grabbed headlines for a myriad of reasons, ranging from reading while driving, admitting to smoking crack cocaine and most recently ensuring that the public knows he's, "got more than enough to eat at home". (Fair warning, Ford's language is quite graphic here so peruse at your own risk.)

That said, I feel compelled to defend Ford from the bashing he's been taking at the hands of the media over the past few weeks. I want to preface this by saying that in no way am I defending his actions. He's made some terrible decisions, he represents himself poorly in public and politically we have very different views.

However, Ford represents a phenomena fairly unique to American and Canadian politics. We base political decisions on the private lives of our politicians. We possess an insatiable desire to know every mundane detail about their lives and when we find something we dislike, view as immoral or dishonest we instantaneously jump to the assumption that this person is unfit for political service.

To me, this is a problem. When it comes down to it I couldn't care less about someone's personal life compared to their political record and success. I'm not voting for this person to be my friend, I'm voting for this person to ensure that environmentally, socially, economically, and militarily my nation is secure, sustainable and responsible. (Yes, I intentionally put environmentally first, but that's an issue for another post.)

I don't care if my President has smoked a joint if he can open nuclear negotiations with Iran and launch one of the biggest social programs the nation has seen in nearly half a century. I don't care if a senator has had an extra-marital affair so long as he's willing to draft and pass legislation which creates subsidies for companies investing in renewable energy sources. I don't care if a governor or mayor is smoking crack cocaine if they're passing legislation which gives tax breaks to middle and low income earners.

I don't need to associate with these people, I don't need to like them. In no way am I required to agree with the choices they make in their personal lives. John F. Kennedy remains the embodiment of Democratic values (although Jimmy Carter really should be the person who possesses that role) despite the fact that he was engaged in an extra-marital affair with Marilyn Monroe, which the press was aware of. That would be like Barack Obama going behind Michelle's back with Kate Upton. Did that prevent Kennedy from standing firm during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

And I'm not singling out Kennedy for his actions. Bill Clinton's scandal with Monica Lewinsky stole headlines only a decade and a half ago. While Clinton was impeached he was later acquitted and served out the remainder of his term. Did Clinton's extra-marital affair prevent him from reporting budget SURPLUSES during the last three years of his term?

Even our most recent President George W. Bush came under fire for alcohol abuse in his early life. I can't believe I'm going to defend George Bush, but the fact that an incident that happened in the 1970's should have any bearing on his life floors me. Did Bush's struggle with substance abuse prevent him from dodging a shoe!? Okay maybe not the best example, but that's the only positive I found from his presidency and you get my point.

In other countries the degree to which we delve into the lives of our politicians would not only be out of place, it would be entirely alien. A recent scandal in the Mayoral election of Auckland, New Zealand is substantial not because of the scandal itself, but because it, "has raised fears it could herald a grubby new era in which the sex lives of politicians, traditionally seen as beyond the purview of the media, become fair game." You can read the full article from CNN here.

I can't fathom being unfaithful to someone you love, I'm not going smoke crack cocaine, nor will I likely be reading while driving and I wouldn't have a lot of respect for someone who was to do so. I wouldn't be friends with this person and odds are I would generally dislike them, but the reasons why Rob Ford is in the public spotlight are inconsequential to me. If you're going to attack Ford, attack his political life, attack the decisions he's made regarding public transportation or staffing cutbacks, but don' simply focus on his private life.

We constantly critique our political system for being immoral, dishonest or corrupt and I can't help but wonder if maybe we're the problem. Maybe if we didn't think of our politicians as The Real Housewives of D.C. we wouldn't be in the midst of economic recession. Maybe if we didn't worry so much about whether Mike Michaud was gay we wouldn't need to worry about whether it'll be alright for women in Maine to grow beards for the next four years thanks to Paul Lepage.

Maybe if we payed as much attention to our politicians' political stances as we do to their sex lives, substance abuse issues and personal flaws then maybe, just maybe, we can start to make politics about, well... politics, again.

Mike Tomlin Got In Jacoby Jones' Way And I Love It

People are all up in arms about this.  Me personally, I was just hoping for a second tie in the NFL in two weeks because both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are going for an AFC Wild Card spot which the Buffalo Bills are poised to snag.

(Quick aside: look, before you burst out laughing at that last point, the Bills play the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.  Patriots game is a loss, fine, but the next toughest game is still totally winnable against the Falcons.  Bills put up an 8-8 record, we're right there.)

In the Thanksgiving night game between the Ravens and Steelers, Jacoby Jones was returning a kickoff with the Ravens ahead 13-7.  He was streaking up the left sideline, he cut back in and was tackled just after it looked like he might have the legs to take him to pay dirt.

Who is that standing on the sideline, a little too close to the field? Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. He did nothing illegal, according to the officiating crew, but when you take a look from all the different angles, it sure looks like he knew what he was doing.  You can see that hilarious image above of him looking over his should as Jones was coming, and apparently what he was looking at from the beginning was the jumbotron showing the run back.

Now unless you were there, who knows what angle the big screen was showing, so we'll never really know what Tomlin was thinking when he did that.  All I know is this was a little big of gamesmanship played by Tomlin, and I love it.  The Ravens players were upset about it, but at the end of the day, they won anyway, so who cares? 

Great move by Tomlin mixing things up like that.  I could watch that little shuffle move he does all day. Cat-like reflexes, that guy.

Why Buzzfeed Sucks

Buzzfeed is one of the sorriest excused for a website I have ever seen, yet people go bananas over it and read it like the Gospel.  The "articles" are outdated, with some not even having a date as they're just about some irrelevant garbage from a sitcom or movie 20 years ago, they contain minimal writing or creativity and the quality is just absolutely poor.

Sure, I could string together a list of 10 things and put GIFs with them that 30 people are going to laugh at and call it a story, but as a thinking human being, I don't see the point, and you shouldn't insult your own intelligence by reading it.

For instance, let's take a look at this piece: "21 Questions You Never Want Your Family To Ask."  Solid topic, because relatives are always putting people in the hot seat, intentional or not.  But let's zero in on what the issues are here.

Why 21 Questions? Three are basically the same question about dating, so the material is stretched way too thin just to use, surprise surprise... GIFs...

Have the words, "I hear your Twitter is hilarious, can I follow you?" ever been uttered by any living thing on earth?  No.  So why would this idiotic question make the list.

There are three questions on visiting, one is asking about Edward Snowden's asshole (so that's clever), and GOD FORBID your family asks you to stay long. Why would anyone want to hear their family ask them that?  Ugh, makes my skin crawl just thinking about it!

Want to let that one slide?  Fine.  How about this sorry excuse?

Or this one, where reasons 19 and 20 are the same damn thing.  And I'm pretty sure anyone who celebrates Christmas watched Christmas movies, but that doesn't mean they're "obsessed with Christmas."

Why is this stuff below "freaky" and "weird?" Most of it seems awesome, actually...except for Dinosaur State Park in Connecticut and that weird Jimmy Carter peanut in Georgia, though.  But what's annoying is how Buzzfeed feels they have to add their commentary to EVERYTHING.

"But dude, that's such a small sample size of all the stuff Buzzfeed writes."  If you'd like, I'd be more than happy to stick around and tell you what's wrong with the disgustingly overwhelming majority of their articles, no problem.

Now granted, I'm not the best/funniest/most topical writer out there.  You may ask, where did this hatred come from?  From the filth that Buzzfeed puts out on a constant basis.  There is such a small portion of it that's actually relevant, and even if it is, the writers try to put their own inside joke spins on it, and its just a really poor way to structure a website.

If you like Buzzfeed and harbor any angry feelings towards me, or if you've read this far and think, "you're stupid, Buzzfeed is funny," then I'm afraid you're stupid.

When I was a kid, I remember my teachers at school used to say that watching too much TV puts corners on your imagination, shaping it into a box rather than it going on in infinite directions - powerful image for kids.  But if you read and enjoy Buzzfeed, it won't be long until your mind does this.

Sam Hunt - Raised On It

Putting this song on the blog is long, long overdue.  Saw this guy a few months back with Chase Rice at The Paradise.

If you don't like country music, you do now.

Sam Hunt released this single recently, along with his acoustic mixtape, "Between the Pines," which you can and should download free on his website.  Guy's got it.  He wrote Billy Currington's new single "We Are Tonight," as well as Keith Urban's "Cop Car" and Kenny Chesney's "Come Over."

Enjoy the video, download his stuff, go wild.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bruins Sitting Pretty on Turkey Day

Falling just short of a third of the way into the season, “American Thanksgiving” is a time when teams can really start to get a feel for where they stand in their division and in the league as a whole.

By this time, many storylines have started to play out and patterns are starting to emerge. Offseason acquisitions have had time to gel with their new linemates (or defensive partners) and have had exposure to their new team’s system.  I figured now would be a good time to take a look at the Bruins season so far.

The obvious place to start is to take a look at how the Bruins’ biggest offeason moves (arguably the biggest offseason move in the league) are panning out.  Moving Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars, along with Rich Peverley, was a move that certainly made waves across the Boston sports community.  In return, the Bruins received Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, as well as two other players who are currently playing (and playing quite well) in Providence, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser.

Eriksson and Smith seem to be coming into their own on their respective lines, providing the effort and depth that the Bruin’s hoped to acquire through this trade.  Sporting a recent six-game point streak and hands like this, Eriksson will no doubt continue to make the Bruins better at both ends of the ice. With the addition of a more defensive-minded player to his line, Patrice Bergeron has been able to focus a bit more on his offense.  Though he has not been finding the net lately, that will undoubtedly change and the line of Eriksson, Bergeron and Brad Marchand will contribute immensely to the success of this Boston team moving forward.

The second biggest move the Bruins made coming into this season, was the highly publicized addition of Jarome Iginla, just a half-season after he snubbed the Bruins to go play with those two whiny stars in Pittsburgh (click that link, it’s a good one).  While, fans were understandably hostile when news of this acquisition first broke, at this point of the season, Iginla has won the majority of them over.  Stepping in to fill the vacant winger spot left by Nathan Horton on the Milan Lucic-David Krejci line, Iginla has been everything fans could have hoped for.  He’s brought both physicality and the ability to score along with the passion Bruins fans love to see in their guys.  

The third line features two players who have made a much bigger impact than expected.  Flanking Chris Kelly on the third line this year are Smith and Carl Söderberg.  Smith, coming over in the Seguin deal, has been a pleasant surprise almost doubling his point total last year as a Star, just 24 games into the season.

Söderberg is not exactly a newcomer to the Bruins as he got some playing time late in the season in the playoffs after coming over to from Linköpings HC of the Swedish Hockey League.  Söderberg has really come into his game so far this year, dropping the timid, finesse, Euro game for a more physical, aggressive style while still showcasing his soft hands and strong shot.  Of course, any kind of production from the third line is a step up from last year’s line, which was invisible for the majority of the season.

Depth on the blue line has also contributed to the Bruins success so far this season and is a major factor in their current position atop of the Eastern Conference.  With injuries to veteran D-men like Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid, the Bruins haven't missed a beat.  Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton have all continued to improve and show that they can be trusted to step up and not only eat up minutes, but contribute on the score sheet as well.  Kevan Miller has also stepped up as of late, playing some solid D against some top teams.

The biggest problem I see with the Bruins right now is their goalie situation.  While there’s no question that Tuukka Rask is one of the best goalies in the NHL, Chad Johnson makes me nervous.  I wouldn't call Johnson a sieve, but he is a rebound machine keeping the defense on their toes.  In the recent past, the Bruins have had solid goaltending from both their number one and two guys, whether it was Rask backing up Tim Thomas (and vice-versa) or more recently, Anton Khudobin backing up Rask.  There may come a time this season where the Bruins will have to consider taking a closer look at Niklas Svedberg (in Providence) as a backup.  Let’s just hope Rask doesn't go down because that could prove catastrophic for a Bruins team looking to make another deep playoff run.

All in all, if you're a Bruins fan, you have to be really excited about where the team is
right now and the kind of talent they have on their roster.  It’s still early in the season and hockey is an unpredictable game.  Teams can get red hot, other teams can completely fall apart and injuries can change the entire course of a season.  While it’s way too early for any kind of prediction, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Bruins are currently among the league’s elite teams.  Here’s to hoping they stay that way.

The great thing is after this many games last year, the season was already half over.

The even better thing is, we still have that two-week break in February for Olympic Hockey!

2014 World Cup Stadium In Brazil Collapses

You show me one good thing that has come out of Brazil since the news broke about them hosting the 2014 World Cup, and I'll show you one good thing that has come out of Qatar since the news broke about them hosting the 2018 World Cup.

According to Sports Illustrated, "Television images showed that part of a 500-ton metal structure cut through the outer walls of Sao Paulo's Itaquerao Stadium, destroying some of the seats on the east side of the venue and crashing into a massive LED panel that runs across the stadium's facade."

The incident killed at least two people, and investigators are working to figure out what went wrong.

Get John Taffer in here and shut this thing down immediately.  Not that Brazil was in prime shape to begin with, but ever since work has begun for the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, it has been an absolute zoo.

Rooting for Other Teams

Thursday is a big day for me. Not because of Thanksgiving food, not because I get to spend my day surrounded by my awesome family but because the Edmonton Oilers have a game against the Nashville Predators. Yes, I acknowledge that the Oilers suck, and no, I don't care.

I know that Max is going to go off on me for this, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm a Boston Bruins fan through and through and if the Oilers and Bruins played each other in any situation I'd be cheering for the B's. That said when these two teams aren't playing one another I see no reason why I shouldn't get fired up when Taylor Hall buries one from the slot? Why shouldn't I cheer when Devan Dubnyk makes a sprawling save (rare as that may be)? And for that matter why shouldn't I get fired up when Drew Brees fires a strike to Jimmy Graham when he finds a seam?

I cheer for these teams because as much as I love the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, and Bruins, I love sports even more. Cheering for the Oilers, the New Orleans Saints or even the Pittsburgh Pirates doesn't make me less of a Boston Sports fan, it makes me more of a sports fan.

When I cheer for Edmonton, I'm cheering for a team that plays an entirely different style than the Bruins. It's entertaining to watch a team that doesn't have the defensive discipline or physical presence of the B's. I'm watching a team that is entirely reliant on their offensive skill and talent which is staggering, to say the least. Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky; the list goes on and on.

When I cheer for the Saints, I'm cheering for a team that rallied a city around it in the face of overwhelming tragedy, much like the Red Sox did this past year for the City of Boston. Brees is one of the classiest athletes in all of sports and does more for charity than just about any athlete. You can say all you want about Bountygate but the whole thing got blown out of proportion and the team paid the price.

When it comes down to it, sports are entertaining no matter who is playing them. If you're a fan of a sport, you have an interest in the game. For many reasons - some personal, some trifling, some foolish - people get vested in sports. This doesn't mean that people don't have preferences or priorities, but rather that they can't help but be a fan.

I'm going to sit down tomorrow night with a stomach full of turkey, stuffing and general goodness to watch the Oilers take down the Preds in grand fashion... or lose by five goals. Regardless, I'll be watching, because I like the Oilers. Because they aren't playing the Bruins.  And because no matter who is playing, it's hockey.

Black Wednesday Survival Guide

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving and you know that that means,
time to get drunk with people you haven't seen since your teens...

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving! Or, as it's now more commonly called, “Dammit, I have to awkwardly drink with people I haven't seen in five years” Day. Actually the technical term for tonight is “Black Wednesday” and it has become one of the nation's biggest partying nights.

Black Wednesday isn't all fun and drunken games. It comes with it's fair share of problems, namely: “how the hell do I associate with all of these people?”

First off, don't worry. Odds are you're going to have the same conversation with about fifteen different people until you get drunk enough to no longer care.

It may be worth while to prepare yourself in case of emergency. In order to do that you need to know what to expect. We here at Three if by Strike take your sanity very seriously and consequently have taken the initiative to create a list of the five people you're going to meet tonight and how to deal with them.

                                                                     1. The Townie

The townie's natural habitat extends just as far as the boundaries of the town you grew up in. A “trip” for the townie is going to the next town over to watch a high school football game, all the while aggressively shouting about how they could have thrown five touchdowns by now. Think Uncle Rico, but in real life. You don't really care, but you gotta admit, they're kind of a big deal around town. This person is fairly easy to deal with. Just talk about their glory days, they'll do the rest. “No dude, I don't remember that time that you scored 15 points in a high school basketball game in the state of Maine. That sounds very challenging, please tell me more about your athletic prowess.”

                                                           2. The Pseudo-intellectual

So they went to college and read a book by Freud, Foucault, Marx or some combination of the three... that's it. Point is that they now think they're smarter than everyone else in the room and waste no time making you aware of that. They'll probably drop the words “proletariat” or “discourse” within the first two minutes of the conversation as they casually tuck their alpaca hair scarf over their shoulder. They may be annoying but hey, they paid attention in class and their GPA probably shows it. The key to dealing with this person is just keeping your mouth shut. They'll rattle off everything they think they know in a few minutes and like an crying baby they'll tucker themselves out. Be wary, they may try to regain their strength with a steady diet of craft bears and house wine.

                                                      3. The Social Justice Advocate
                          Picture has nothing to do with that I'm talking about but this little guy is adorable

This person has always been conscientious but in college they got dreadlocks and one time they smoked a joint with a guy who had a Bob Marley poster on his wall. Now their wardrobe is comprised solely of Che Guevara memorabilia (although they are waiting on an Edward Snowden shirt they just ordered.) If you have a beer in your hand they'll tell you that it's manufactured by child labor. When you tell them it's made in Vermont they will tell you it's made by child labor in Vermont. (Sorry, but no matter what you do you're an enabling capitalistic asshole). There are two ways you can deal with this person. Your best bet is to pair them up with the Pseudo-intellectual as they will talk about nothing of substance for the next three hours. If this isn't possible just enjoy the ride. “Oh no way! You work at a non-profit, organic, sloth farm that promotes sustainability in rural Wyoming, you're making a difference in the world!”

                                                         4. The Gordon Gecko wannabe

They've moved into the financial district of some major city and are now a junior member at some firm, insurance company or bank. This person is easily visually recognized by the suit they wore to that dive bar you're at or the fact that they easily have more grease in their hair than... well than John Travolta in Grease. Besides looking like Chrispin Glover in Charlie's Angels, their hobbies include reading the “Wall Street Journal” business section, writing cover letters and resumes or wearing suits to cheap bars in an attempt to pick up women (Hey, they're wearing a suit now!) The best way to deal with this person is first to accept that they are likely going to be making more money than you. If they take a five minute break from pursuing that girl who was way out of their league in high school to talk to you just ask them for their business card. Good work, you've now both complemented them and shut them up in one fell swoop! Also, if they make it big you can now call them and beg for money.

                                                                 5. Animal House

This person is still stuck reliving the glory days in college. They probably flew under the radar in high school and are now back with a vengeance after waking up in a pile of their own vomit a few times during the past five years. This person can be seen wearing an undersized fraternity or sorority t-shirt and, as mentioned before, probably throwing up somewhere. They'll be fun until they've had their fifth Bud Light in the past twenty minutes and try to take their shirt off. We're at a small local bar, not an Avicii concert, keep it together.

They're going to try to relive their glory days to you plain and simple. One night they had twelve beers and washed it all down with a whole handle of whipped cream Smirnoff and somehow lived to share their tale. “No way man, no one else partied in college at all. I'd love to hear more made up stories about how cool you are!”

Now that you're prepared for tonight get out there and have fun. And remember: enjoy it, you only see these people once a year so if you make a fool of yourself who cares. Get into the spirit of Black Wednesday and recuperate tomorrow with ample helpings of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. If you need some advice be sure to check out Span's post on the Top 5 Thanksgiving Foods!

Sasquatch, Loch Ness Monster, Perfect Pandora Station - Do They Exist?

We could spend hours upon hours discussing cryptozoology, which actually would be awesome, but today's blurry picture to bring into focus can be found a lot easier than most of these mythical beasts.

Pandora.  We all use it.  Some prefer their iHeart radio, or Spotify, sure, but when you think of internet radio, you think of Pandora.

Every day I listen to Pandora at work. It just makes more sense over downloading Spotify or adding/removing music from my phone.  Every day I am starting new stations, liking and disliking different songs, adding different artists for variety; but for what?

To do the impossible: create the perfect Pandora playlist.

It is without a doubt one of the most arduous processes known to man, right behind what my brothers-in-arms do over at Animal Planet, but its something that can be done, right?  Let's take a look.

The biggest question right off the bat is, "well, doesn't everyone have different musical interests?" Its a totally fair question, but no one asked you.  The quest for this station is a quest to find yourself. You may also like O.A.R. and Icona Pop, but it doesn't mean I like that guy who sings "Grenade" and "The Lazy Song" any more than you like Sara Bareilles.  One man's trash could be another man's Perfect Pandora Station...

"But music is subjective to your mood." Correct, music is very much a mood thing, but for this exercise you have to just go at it with the mindset of, "I can only have one station for the rest of my life."  But that being said, everyone knows there are some songs that when you hear them, nothing else matters, and you just jam out for a few.  So maybe there is a station perfectly capable of being either mood-resistant or mood-changing, right?

I have made several attempts at the PPS. The closest I have come is when I chose to not like a single song on the artist Fastball's radio station, but if I heard "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis one more time...  Then there was the strategic liking of songs starting off of "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam.  Pearl Jam into Lynyrd Skynyrd into Bob Seger into Foo Fighters into... Tool? Deftones? Looks like we took a wrong turn at Albuquerque. No thanks.

Dave Matthews Band mixed with Darius Rucker radio was my life for a good three months, but soon, I had liked and disliked too many songs, and things were getting repetitive and I had to move on. Sting radio got weird.  I liked it, but it got weird.

I decided to Google my issue and see if anyone else was attempting this feat, and it turns out, yeah, a ton of people are. posted an article titled "How to Create the Perfect Pandora Station," but in the article, they are very quick to drop the word perfect for words like ideal or perfectly customized. Okay, so not actually perfect, then.  Cool.

This e-How article is just insulting to someone who has done any research on the PPS.

Through my dozens and dozens of attempts, I have yet to find a station where I don't skip or dislike a song in the first 15 played.  And if a station has been good enough to make it to the second day, as many have, I can't say that I have found one worthy of being my Perfect Pandora Station.  But that's just me.

I want the PPS to be real, just like I want to see that episode of "Finding Bigfoot" when they finally find Bigfoot (it's gonna happen).  But it just seems so unlikely.  Try as you might to mix Kevin Rudolf, OneRepublic, Florence and the Machine, Big D and the Kids Table and Barenaked Ladies, the end result is that you're going to end up with a station where you like every fifth song, and that's if you're lucky.

Bob Harper, Coach From 'The Biggest Loser,' Is Gay?

This one honestly caught me off guard. Didn't see it coming at all. Good for Bob Harper. I like Bob even more than Jillian Michaels. Once, I actually picked up Bob and Jillian at the airport when I was doing my college internship, so we're like best buds. Surprised he didn't shoot me a text first. We brought him to his hotel and when I woke up in the morning I mean dropped him off, he thanked me for the ride and gave me $20 for my time.

I don't really understand why it's a headline still when people come out. Who cares? Bob Harper is gay, I like cheese cake, and Prince Fielder is fat. Whoop Dee Doo!

If Prince Fielder, Cheese Cake and Bob Harper were all part of one story on the other hand... Now that's something I would want to read about.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Official 'Thanksgiving Food' Top 5

5. Cranberry Sauce : What the fuck is it? It's only eaten once a year. I'll dabble...

4. Turkey : Cue the outrage! Turkey is not that good. Needs to be smothered in gravy to enjoy it. I am on      #TeamDarkMeat, though (no homo)

3. Mashed Potatoes: Mashed is my thing but I don't care how you like your potatoes. Potatoes are awesome and a Thanksgiving staple.

2. Pumpkin Pie: Delicious. Not my favorite type of pie, and pie is not my favorite type of dessert. But I'll be damned if I don't make an entire pumpkin pie and a half gallon disappear on Thursday.

1. Stuffing: Stuffing is the best part of Thanksgiving. So damn good. I have no clue what the hell it is but I    want more. And left over stuffing... My god.... So ladies, if any of you are in need of a good stuffing... I'm your man.

P.S. - Snack time for the big guy...

Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette Version)

This is whats hot on the internet streets today....

But we need to talk about something: Are that many hot girls always on Chat Roulette? Like, is this a trick?

A brilliant Chat Roulette viral ad? Because I know one thing is for sure. When I get home tonight forget PornHub, YouPorn or RedTube... I'll be getting my fix on Chat Roulette, baby.

CJ Fair Says Aloha!

Blood after a dunk is so badass. I dunked once and cut my finger on the rim in a pick up game... Walked around for three days like I had the biggest dick on the eastern seaboard.

Glad the NCAA is tightening up the rules this year. Hopefully next year they will make karate chops to the head illegal as well.

UPDATE: How awful is that video?... Round 2
UPDATE: Got the video working. Enjoy.

Since I'm New Here, I Want To Introduce You To My Girlfriend

Her name is Kendall.... NSFW here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Juicebox: First Cut

Juicebox describes themselves as "an infectious blend of rhythm and blues, soul and funk."  After seeing them perform live once and listening to their just-released six-track EP, there's no doubt that I would have to describe them as an undeniably infectious blend of rhythm and blues, soul and funk.

Based out of NYC, Juicebox is made up of seven musicians who have played together since 2009.  Their EP, "First Cut," marks the ensemble's first official release. Now, I've never been much at reviewing music, but when you listen to something and your immediate reaction is ".....DAMN!" then it warrants a little praise.

Saturday night, I caught them playing at the Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The venue heated up instantly when they took the stage.  Everyone was into the music and jamming out with every solo, including the one guy just off stage right who appeared to be getting taken to church by Lisa Ramey's vocals.  But all it took was a couple songs, and he had plenty of company.  The band had tremendous energy through their 45-minute set and even onto the one-song encore the crowd called for as Juicebox was about to exit the stage.

I've known organ and keys player Dave Mainella since we were kids, and I even took piano lessons from his dad.  He invited a few friends and me down for the show, and we jumped at the opportunity.  What sold it for me was probably when Mainella described the band as a mix between James Brown and Lauryn Hill.  It was the first time I had heard them play, and I was immediately drawn in (as evidenced by the conversation I had with Ramey following the set, who confirmed that she noticed my awkward eye contact as she sang...but its not my fault since her voice is killer).

Mainella held it down along with Isaac Jaffe and Alex Raderman on the bass and drums respectively, while sax player Nicholas Myers, trumpeter Aaron Rockers and guitarist Frank Cogliano cooked up some nasty riffs and solos to blend it all together.  You can just see how much fun they were having on stage, the type of fun that's, well, "infectious."

To me, their up-tempo songs are really where they make their money, as you can't help but want to get up and dance, but when that beat drops it can easily make your knees weak.  The songs are simply intricate, and are powerful yet a little sensual at times (just listen to the final track, Friday Morning Class, for a perfect example).

Listen and watch their video above, download their EP and follow them on Twitter.  These guys are good, I can't say it enough. And if anyone knows where a good spot in Boston would be for them to try to play out, let's hear it.

Is This Thing On?

What's up, Three If By Strike and it's three regular readers. SPAN here. I will be doing some blogging until I get fired... Here goes nothing.

Hide the women and children. Let's get to work.

Lose Yourself to Dance

This kid has me absolutely rolling at my desk right now.  Epic dance-off between a young Pistons fan and a Palace of Auburn Hills usher.

I haven't seen moves like that since Judy took Robert to that club for the first time...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On Bandwagon Fans

Band•wag•on: noun,    
          -a particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.

The bandwagon fan can be identified by a number of characteristics. They begin to express a seemingly deep interest in a team once playoff season rolls around or after a team’s playoff success (possibly a championship). They usually have very limited knowledge of the team, with the ability to name only the most popular and publicized players.

The term “bandwagon fan” is an insult often directed at someone with the utmost disgust. How dare you pretend to love this team when, before the playoffs, you couldn’t even be bothered to know the scores of their games? Oh, really? You love this team? I bet you can’t even name five players on it.

Sometimes, a bandwagon fan can garner as much hate from a “real fan” as a fan of a rival team. And so I have to beg the question, why?

To begin to explore the reasoning behind this bandwagon hate, let me make a distinction between two kinds of bandwagon fans. There are the bandwagon fans who insist they are die-hard fans. They’ll pretend that they were there from the beginning; that they’ve been fans since back when the team sucked. Not only do they pretend to know everything about the team itself, but insist they know everything about the sport as well. This type of bandwagon fan deserves to be hated on and should be called out upon declaring themselves a die-hard fan.

On the other hand, there are those who tune in only during playoff season, or become fans after a championship, that are more than willing to admit it. They’ll be the first ones to tell you that they didn’t watch the team much during the season and probably couldn’t name more than a couple of star players. You have to respect their honesty.

The problem then becomes, where does one begin their journey to becoming a “real fan?” Can you only become a true fan of a team when they suck? If so, now is the time to become a Celtics fan.

It seems as though being a fan of a sports team has become similar to being a fan of an indie/underground musician. You don’t want them to become too popular for multiple reasons. If everyone becomes familiar with them, the fan club becomes less exclusive; less cool. You may also worry that, with so much popularity, they may become sellouts. The thing is, neither of these concerns translate to a sports franchise.

If you’re a fan of a team that doesn’t have that many other fans, that doesn’t mean you’re part of some exclusive club, it just means your team sucks. If you’re a real fan, you want your team to become more popular, because bigger markets attract big time players.

When it comes down to it, so what if someone isn’t a die-hard fan and isn’t as invested in the team as you are? At the end of the day, you both want the same thing and that’s for the team to win.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Taking the T

Welcome to the T - the one mode of transportation where the crying baby is actually welcomed over the various other atrocities that surround you on your daily commute.

Never mind the fact it's never on time and that half of the drivers seem to be locked in a lifelong game of "how many schmucks' arms can we shut the doors on," it's that second you step onto the T that your perception of reality changes.  You could literally win the lottery the night before, and as soon as you tap your card the next morning, you feel like you were robbed of the only two dollars to your name and thrown from a roof.

I've taken the T sparingly for much of the past five years, but the work commute has regrettably made it essential.  Over the years I've made myself a set of rules for riding because one wrong move and you're in a world of trouble.

Rule #1) If a crazy person isn't staring at you, then YOU are the crazy person.  You just have to suck it up and deal with someone eyeballing the stuffing out of you.  Who knows what forces compel these lunatics to hold eye contact for a good six stops, so its best you either bury yourself in your phone, or if you feel like living on the wild side, pay it forward and stare down another unsuspecting victim.

Rule #2) Assume everyone on the T has been raised by wolves.  Trust me, everything will make a lot more sense.  You're nuts if you think someone is going to move out of the way for you either getting on or trying to get off the train, which makes that one time is does happen a bigger miracle than Moses parting the Red Sea.  And if you think people on the train know how to communicate in English or any other human language, just hop off and flag down a cab... then jump in front of it.

Rule #3) DO NOT sit down. Ever.  The train can be entirely empty, but the odds are heavily stacked against you that the next person to saunter aboard will want your exact seat.  And its not like you can say no to someone who asks you (for those of you who think "oh, I would already have offered my seat to someone," refer back to Rule #2).  Just don't do it, because you also then run the risk of getting sat on -- I wish I was kidding.

Rule #4) For the love of all that is holy, spread your feet if you're standing up.  Apparently most T drivers are either hammered drunk or are failed stunt drivers because they take no prisoners going around turns or stopping at intersections when they're on the street.  I'm pretty sure I know now where Christopher Nolan shot that zero-gravity scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt from "Inception."  Nothing will make you more susceptible to those I've warned about in Rule #1 than a nice game of human Plinko in the aisle.

Rule #5) Always take the back car.  Getting in the front car can be compared to walking into a rainforest on Mars.  The back car has anywhere from one to three more sane human beings in it, but at this point, you take what you can get.

Rule #6) As bad as the T is, if you take the bus, all bets are off.  You're screwed.  I once witnessed two women step on the bus.  One sat down while the other went to pay.  She tapped her card, then afterwards flipped out on the driver for not giving them the senior discounted price that she had asked for (because that's how that works?)  As she was flailing around, she decided to retell the story of how she walked on the bus 14 seconds ago, reenacted the card tapping and found herself out another two dollars.  The grand finale was her banging on the door demanding to get off so she could go get a police officer to arrest the driver. (Note: that linked story was not that same least I don't think it was, it is unconfirmed at this time)

That was one time out of five total times I have been on the bus.  Twenty percent of my time riding an MBTA bus, there has been a looney bin escapee yelling at the driver.

Keeping these rules in mind will in no way enhance your T experience, but they may save your life one day, so take heed.  If you have any other rules that I'm forgetting, feel free to share.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Embrace the Hate!

Fans of New England area sports teams are touted as being some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans out there but there’s one thing we aren't very good at and that’s embracing the hate from other fans/fan bases.

There have been a few controversial calls against Boston sports teams as of late, most recently the non-call on the final play of this past Monday Night Football game against the Panthers.  There was also the call against the Patriots field goal defense team in Week 7 against the Jets costing them the game in OT.  And who could forget the obstruction call against Will Middlebrooks on what came to be the winning run in Game 3 of this year's World Series?

As the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox have amassed their various championships, starting with the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory in 2001, these big four teams have attracted far more bandwagon haters than bandwagon fans.
As a result, when controversial calls like these occur, bars, living rooms and social media sites erupt with various arguments from both sides.  The two main sides of these types of arguments become the Boston Fan vs. the Anti-Boston Fan.

Here is where us Boston fans need to learn to take a step back and embrace the hate.  Don’t waste your time trying to reason against such antiquated arguments as “its payback for the tuck rule and Spygate!”  Don’t even bother responding to accusations that the Bruins are so dirty and only get away with it because Greg Campbell’s dad used to be Director of Player Safety.  Oh, and most certainly do not even entertain the most bitter anti-Boston fan’s disturbing conclusions that the Red Sox World Series win was given to them as a result of the tragic events of April 15th (disgusting, I know).

Trust me when I tell you, it is so much more satisfying to sit back and listen to these baseless arguments and unsupported character assassinations and smile.  Smile because you know that no one is as dedicated to trashing the Jaguars and Astros as they are to trashing successful teams like ours. Smile because you know players like Tom Brady and Milan Lucic would be just as popular if they played in any of these “hate Boston” markets.

If you really want other fan bases to stop hating your teams and players, it’s simple, lose.  If you want other fans to acknowledge that maybe your team did in fact get screwed on that call, stop beating their teams so much.

But if you want to see the wins and the championships continue to pile up, learn to let everyone else hate on your team knowing that the hate they live to express is just a product of the intense jealousy they try so hard to suppress.

Called It

As you might be aware, the Boston Red Sox are your 2013 World Series Champions, thanks in no small part to the pitching performances of one John Lackey.

Since Mr. Skinny Britches himself showed up to Spring Training way back in late February, I was in full support, knowing that a new-look Lack could find the success everyone thought a 5-year, $60 deal would bring just a little sooner.

But all that time lost was nothing a little patience and facial hair couldn't fix.  Lackey went 3-1 in the postseason with a 2.77 ERA.  He has 25 strikeouts in 26 innings and posted a 1.19 WHIP.  He even pulled a classic Lackey when manager John Farrell came out to pull him in Game 6, and told him to shove off.  But in his win, he became the 10th pitcher (sixth starter) to clinch multiple World Series winners, his first coming 11 years ago in a Game 7 win for the Angels over the Giants.

So congrats to Lack and the Red Sox on bringing home their third trophy in 10 years, and a little pat on the back to me for being a believer.

My Kingdom For a Prince... Tigers and Rangers Turn in Blockbuster Deal

Not at all like trading a kingdom, but when you get a chance at a title like that, you have to go for it.

Just when you thought baseball news was hitting a lull, two American League teams burst of the scene to save the day.  The Detroit Tigers have traded first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler.

The Rangers seemed tentative at first, and who could blame them with 7 years and $168 million left on Fielder's contract.  According to Rangers general Manager Jon Daniels, "Both sides were interested and we got the money where both sides could live with it."

A strange way to phrase that, "both sides could live with it."  But with Detroit giving them $30 million of salary relief, it could be worse.  Oh, and their infield is stacked now.

The Rangers will boast one of the most potent infields in the game in 2014.  Prince will man first as he has done in Milwaukee and Detroit, and with Kinsler gone, it will give the Rangers a chance to slot Jurickson Profar as the every day second baseman.  On the left side, the tandem of Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre will continue to goof off and hit bombs swinging from one knee.

And its not like the Tigers are hurting in this deal, either.  While they are giving $30 million to Texas, Kinsler is only owed $62 million, bringing their grand total to $92 million, which Texas pays $138.  The extra funds could set up nicely for say, a Max Scherzer re-signing?

With first base open and a bad hip to worry about, the Tigers will most likely shift two-time defending MVP Miguel Cabrera over to first base, with Kinsler, Jose Iglesias and potential rising star Nick Castellanos rounding out the remaining positions.  So no real question marks for the Tigers on the field, but in the dugout, how will 44-year-old rookie manager Brad Ausmus fare with the perennial postseaon powerhouse Tigers?

Over in Arlington, is this the year manager Ron Washington can finally get the monkey off his back and get that 11th win in October?