A story about new UCLA Bruins Football Head Coach, Rick Neuheisel

December 30, 2007

I’ve heard a lot of crappy things said about newly announced Head Coach Rick Neuheisel (AP photo at the right taken from BruinBlitz.com) that I can’t help but think have been unfair.  Most people make comments based on what they read on the Internet or what’s been published in the press.

I, on the other hand, have at least had the opportunity to speak with him (in a past life) and see him in action in front of his players when, well, he thought no one was looking.  Y’see I roomed with a walk-on running back during my undergraduate work at UCLA and I was a huge collegiate football stats guy.  I kept stats on many of our players (during the Aikman, Johnson, Maddox, Fein, & Cook years) and personally analyzed match ups for my own pleasure – particularly cornerbacks-versus-WRs or linesmen-versus-linesmen for every game.

Through various connections in the Marching Band or friends in (pledging) Sigma Nu, the jock fraternity, I got the chance to hang out with several football players.  Let’s just say that hypothetically of course, a certain 5′ 3" Asian guy got the chance to eat with several large corn-fed football players more than a few times (under rather interesting circumstances I might add… after all, how exactly do you explain having a short Asian kid at the table next to a 300lb lineman?) while they were at what is called "training table" – where all the football players sit down and eat on UCLA’s dime.  And naturally, UCLA Quarterbacks coach, Rick Neuheisel was on hand with his players.

I remember quite a few stories involving Coach Neuheisel however here’s one that’s always stuck in my mind:

One day, the team was walking into the Treehouse for training table, a place in the UCLA student union where lots of home cookin’ was done – not like Panda Express or the other fastfood type stuff they have there today on the 2nd floor, but real food.

As they walked in, a skinny, somewhat obnoxious tall old guy was on his way out and stopped Coach Neuheisel by grabbing his arm and said, "Hey, you guys aren’t bad, but you folks need to tighten up that offense and mix it up a bit."  Coach just nodded stoically and said something akin to, well, we’re workin’ hard at practice to get things moving and thanks for watching us at the games.

The skinny guy then said, "Yeah, well, you guys need those quarterbacks throwin’ better…" and as he walked away, he said:  "Hell, I could throw the ball better than those guys."

Coach Neuheisel suddenly appeared to lose his composure, turned around in almost a fighting stance and yelled at the top of his lungs so everyone in the Treehouse could hear him, "THE HELL YOU COULD!?" And stared this guy down intensely..

Naturally, he startled the skinny guy who quickly scuttled away without a word.  Coach was so angry and incensed, I really thought he was gonna tear this guy’s head off right then and there.  I also remember swallowing another bite of sweet potato pie and thinking, "Good for you, Coach… good for you."

See, I think he could have let that slide.  After all, it wasn’t like anyone necessarily had heard the conversation they two of them were having, but the fact that Coach decided that the pride of his quarterbacks was being soiled by some nobody, in front of other players who might have been listening, and that this guy deigned to do it in the Bruins’ own dining room… that showed to be a level of loyalty, unity, and self-respect that I think is the foundation of any good team.

If you give me a choice between a team that treats each other as brothers on the field and a team loaded with pure talent but lacks unity, I’ll take the former over the latter any day of the week.

Good luck, Coach Neuheisel.  Consider my season tickets renewed for 2009 and go Bruins!

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Using Amazon’s Wishlist to categorize one’s current personal interests

December 28, 2007

I’ve discovered during this holiday season that my interests are fairly easy to define.

Every year, people ask me "what I want" for Christmas so this year I decided to create an Amazon.com wish/gift list.  During that time, several things have been added, other things have been cut, but the end result has been a very clear definition of what my interests are.

  • Books about Dogs & Dog Adoptions
  • Books about Las Vegas & Blackjack Strategy
  • Books about Japanese Sake
  • Any good HD-DVDs
  • Various electronics (Zune, Slingbox, Xbox 360 peripherals and games)
  • A few select Alternative/Modern rock Music CDs
  • Non-fiction Audiobook CDs

While this might not seem like a clear list, it really is.  Nothing on my rather long list falls outside of this set of categories. 

In fact, this Christmas, I knocked out about half my "wishlist" but I also noticed that people that accessed my list, ABSOLUTELY NEVER actually bought the items directly from Amazon.com.  I’m sure a big part of this was the fact that it requires a delivery charge (something I don’t have to deal with since I’m an Amazon Prime member) and the fact that many people I know still haven’t gotten used to purchasing gifts online instead of at brick & mortar stores during the holidays. In contrast, I bought virtually everything online for my family and friends this year.

In any case, I found this all very interesting.  It’s very rare that I’m able to look at a collected list of my’s wants and derive an aggregate set of personal interests through it.  I wonder what this list will look like in 10 years. 

Even more interesting… I wonder how Amazon consumes this information into it’s neural network to derive what kind of other things I’d be interested in.

Spooky!


A dog’s prayer

December 18, 2007

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Dear Lord…
Thank you for bringing me to Timmy’s house
and not to Michael Vick’s. 
…Amen.


MUSIC: 3rd Grammy Nomination for Daniel Ho Creations

December 14, 2007

Do you know anyone that’s ever won a world-reknown award?  I know a really nice guy who owns a record label that’s won not one but TWO GRAMMY awards. 

TWO-TIME GRAMMY AWARD WINNER
Daniel Ho, the owner and producer for Daniel Ho Creations, is a singer, songwriter, and producer.  He’s a very talented performer in his own right, but something he’s done that very few people in the world has, is he’s produced two GRAMMY award-winning albums on his own record label. 

"BEST HAWAIIAN MUSIC ALBUM"
The first was in 2006 when he produced "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Vol. 1" and the album won "Best Hawaiian Music Album" in the 48th annual GRAMMY awards.  The second was in 2007 when he produced "Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar" which won "Best Hawaiian Music Album" in the 49th annual GRAMMY awards.

THIRD NOMINATION IN THREE YEARS
And now he and his company’s up for a THIRD award with not one, but two nominations this year.  The following two albums are nominated for GRAMMY awards in the category of "Best Hawaiian Music Album":

Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

The first is a compilation album like the first two Grammy award winners he produced.  Featuring the talent of George Kahumoku, Jr., Ledward Kaapana, Dennis Kamakahi, Cyril Pahinui, Martin Pahinui, Owana Salazar, Keoki Kahumoku, Daniel Ho, Richard Ho‘opi‘i, Bobby Ingano, Da ‘Ukulele Boyz, and Sterling Seaton, it bears some similarity to "Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar", packing even more talent on the disc than ever before while managing to articulate the soul of Hawaii Slack Key even more eloquently than before. 
[STREAM SAMPLE MUSIC 64kbps]  [DOWNLOAD 160kbps]

Hawaiiana 

The second is of a very different sort in that it’s performed entirely by singer & actress Tia Carrere.  Tia performs exactly what the title reads:  Hawaiiana… some of Hawaii’s most beloved music, including Aloha ‘Oe & He Aloha Mele.  Her dreamily beautiful & emotional rendition of Aloha ‘Oe almost compels a tear from one’s eye.
[STREAM SAMPLE MUSIC 64kbps]  [DOWNLOAD 160kbps]

 

THE REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION
So if any one reading this is a a member of NARAS or knows someone that is, might they please consider voting for one of these two albums for the GRAMMY category of "Best Hawaiian Music Album"?


UPCOMING MOVIE: Giant monsters attack Japan!

December 12, 2007

THE SKINNY: There’s not a lot of info about Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s next project, but what is out there is pretty exciting:

IESB.net
has gotten hold of something called “the Black List”, a compilation of suggestions by over 150 film executives and high-level assistants.  Each of these folks gave the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts written in 2007, and one of these scripts was Parker and Stone’s upcoming Paramount project, GIANT MONSTERS ATTACK JAPAN! The movie has been announced for release next year, and all anyone knew up till now is that it would be PG-rated.

The synopsis of J.F. Lawton’s script (which can be found in the “2 votes” category) is as follows: “Prompted by a corporate transfer, a father and son move to Japan and find that all the fantastic elements of the son’s favorite Japanese movies – Godzilla, giant robots, secret ninja cults, etc. – are a real and borderline mundane aspect of everyday Japanese life. Adjusting proves difficult, hijinks ensue.”

So, it’s a documentary, then.

TAKEN FROM:  http://ifmagazine.com/new.asp?article=5445


Katharine Fletcher of Play Digital

December 11, 2007

I’m sitting here with my Zune, zipping through all the Podcasts that are listed online that I can subscribe to on Zune Marketplace when I see this one called Play Digital.  And much to my delight, after subscribing I discover that the host is a grrlgamer.

imageLessee here.  Long, dark hair, cute little bod, sweet British accent, beautiful bright brown eyes, low maintenance Jinx-esque wear, a great knowledge of gaming, and very little fear of letting a 4 letter word pass those lips.

Whew!  That’s my kinda girl.  I like her spunk and attitude more than Morgan Webb of XPlay fame.  Heck – maybe G4 ought to try flying her out to Los Angeles to get her on the small screen.  They could use some new talent.

And maybe they could get someone with some personal dignity and real gamer credentials to replace Attack of the Show’s atrocious ‘Layla Kayleigh’.  (Wasn’t that woman supposed to have left by now to take over as designated eye candy of the World Poker Tour?)

I digress.  Check Katharine out at http://www.playdigital.tv/.


Just desserts at the KROQ Acoustic Christmas for Night #2 fans

December 10, 2007

Every year, a friend of mine hooks me up with tickets to KROQ’s assorted concerts.  It’s admittedly a nice diversion from the hell that is work sometimes.  And every year there are a few pairs of tickets that I can give to a friend and this year was no exception.

But in a strange twist of irony, I couldn’t GIVE the extra pair away.  You see, this year, the event took place on Saturday & Sunday night with different bands on each day.  With Linkin Park & Bad Religion performing on "Night #1", everyone wanted that night.  And frankly with good reason, but I’ll leave that for another blog entry.

But the extra pair was for "Night #2" which featured:

  • Muse
  • Jimmy Eat World
  • Modest Mouse
  • Spoon
  • The Shins
  • Feist

Not terribly common names to many of the people I know unfortunately.  Personally, I’m a big Jimmy Eat World fan and I like Muse but the other bands I wasn’t that familiar with.  But the sick part was that the seats were amazing:  Orchestra 2, Row HH, Seat 7 & 8.  Folks:  These are dead center seats in the area right above the PIT.  Imagine having pit tickets, except with your own seats.

So I ended up going to Night #2 alone, since my other half had to work on some stuff tonight.  The other pair went back to KROQ and I trotted into the metal detectors of the amphitheater at 8:00PM.

AND THEN THE KILLERS CAME OUT.

Women were screaming as they raced to the entrance… apparently a bunch of people don’t actually go into the theatre until it’s late so they just hung out in front, smoking, or doing whatever and suddenly heard "Somebody Told Me" emanating from inside.  It was clear that something exciting had happened inside the amphitheater because there was pandemonium in the halls and the level of noise cranked up to 11. 

Yes, it was true:  the Killers were the surprise unannounced guest band of the night as a little thank you to the people that came to Night #2, and what a "thank you" it was.

Now the funny thing was that the Killers were indeed fantastic.  But they were essentially an opening band for Jimmy Eat World and Muse, both of which were great bands in it of themselves, but between you and me, I’ll take the Killers any day of the week – and apparently, so did a lot of people there.

But what ended up happening was that all the people that rushed in to see the Killers ended up also seeing great sets by both Jimmy Eat World and Muse – both of which were phenomenal.  In fact, very few bands have knocked my socks off in the same way as Muse did:  These dudes are incredible in concert.  I’m going to go pick up some of their albums as a result of that concert.

And I’ll talk about the Linkin Park night later.