Monthly Archives: September 2009

2009 Fantasy Football – Conquering the Gridiron

With baseball season coming to a close (Nathaniel and Zachary are battling it out in the championship round, with Nathaniel leading with a week left to go) it’s time to turn our fantasy attention to the NFL.

This year’s fantasy football team was historical conquerers. Guess who the commissioner is. If you guessed soon-to-be-wed JT, you’d be right.

We have ten players this year for our league, most of whom abided by the league’s theme or Conquering the Gridiron.

Tristan: Alexander the Baller
Mr. Walters: Bjorn Ironside
Nathaniel: Cortez’s Aztec Gold
Zachary: Gengis Khan
Garrett: Hanibal’s Elephants
TJ: Strong Tamerlane
Mr. Shadoan: The A-Men
JT: The Ragin’ Trajans
Josh: William Wallace
Michael: Charlemagne Champagne

So that’s our lineup for the 2009 football season. Soon there will be more old, married guys than young, hip good-looking ones.

week

Notes: JT used big weeks from DeSean Jackson and Reggie Wayne (49 points) combined and the Minnesota defense (39 points) to rack up the high score of the week at 175 points. Nathaniel overcame the Philly defense racking up 69 points to beat Tristan 155-151 when Rian Lindell scored 9 points on Monday Night Football.

America’s Got Talent’s Second Semi-Final Show

Recycled Percussion – They’re still a neat little group, but not altogether special. They’re loud and flashy, but is that enough to win a huge talent show? I think that this type of group is sometimes just a lot of noise, and lacking in actual musical appeal.

Lawrence Beaman – Performing a soulful arrangement of Falling In and Out of Love With You, Beaman again wasn’t as good as he could have been. He has a big and impressive voice and I just wish that he could put together a performance that utilizes his full talent and ability. Hopefully he makes it through and knocks it out of the park in the next round.

Erik & Rickie – They’re cute, but they’re no different that thousands of other young children around the country whose parents drag them to dance rehearsals and recitals every day. Fun to watch, but they don’t match up well with the other remaining acts.

Jefferey Ou – He remains an extremely talented pianist and is also supremely strange. I think that strangeness led to his buzzer from Piers, but I don’t know if it was a hundred percent warranted.

Hairo Torres – Something about this kid’s dance style intrigues me. He’s certainly not one of your run-of-the-mill dancers, and actually he’s quite the opposite. He’s unique and entertaining and perfect for this show.

The EriAm Sisters – The three sisters struggled through the same problems with the vocals this week that they did last week. While other acts continue to improve, they EriAm Sisters don’t, and may even be taking small steps backwards from their impressive first performance.

Mario & Jenny –Epic fail. They threw a curveball with their act tonight, much as the yodeling dominatrix did in the first quarterfinal show. They had something going that was fun and dangerous and fell flat on their face when they tried to mess with it. The AGT stage is not one for experimentation. Stick with what you do best.

Drew Stevyns – For some reason, he starts shaky every time out, but ends up throwing that behind him and finishing with flair. He’s got that rugged quality to his voice that makes songs like the one he sang tonight – The Way I Danced With You – so emotional and powerful. He deserves to stick around.

FootworKINGZ –They’re another one that hasn’t quite improved as much as I once anticipated they would. They haven’t added any new moves that produce the “wow” factor this type of competition needs.

Barbara Padilla –I’m so glad Barbara Padilla is here. She gives me an automatic finalist without having to stress over it. She performed Ava Maria tonight and was nearly flawless. Welcome to the finals, Mrs. Padilla.

***

The four finalists from this group that I’d send with Barbara would probably start with Hairo Torres. He’s quirky and he’s fun. I’d also take Recycled Percussion despite their noise. They are all great showmen and that adds to any act.

Finally, I’d take Lawrence Beaman and Drew Stevyns to round out the ten finalists. I just can’t take anyone else from this group over those five.

***

America ended up agreeing with me, as all five that they put through were the ones that I thought were the most deserving. It’ll be interesting to see where the competition goes from here, because what America likes is not always the most talented.

It seems that even though America’s Got Talent is a variety show that showcases all types of acts, the American public gravitates towards singing acts. This is probably why Acrodunk, the most entertaining acts in the entire show was given the boot before the finals. People can connect with emotional lyrics more than they can with five guys flipping around dunking a basketball. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.

America’s Got Talent’s First Semi-Final Show

Acrodunk – I didn’t believe that Acrodunk, one of my favorite acts could really add anything to their performance to make it any better, but they went ahead and added fire. I love awesome dunks and I love fire. I can’t really explain how excited Acrodunk’s performance made me and they solidified themselves as one of my favorite groups. They’re fun, they’re exciting and they’re dangerous. If this isn’t a Vegas act, I don’t know what is. To be honest, watching Acrodunk is one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever seen on TV.

The Texas Tenors – These three gentlemen certainly have talent, although there are acts that utilize their talents better than the Texas Tenors. They seem like the type of guys that you’d be more likely to find at the local karaoke bar than in a million dollar competition. They’re a little cheesy (and were again this week), but they’re also very good. I like all-male vocalist groups and these guys have the whole package with their looks, charm and voices.

Paradizo Dance – After their first two performances, it was going to be difficult for them to do anything better. Where do you take an act that included a 90-pound girl lifting a 250-pound guy? Their semi-final routine was much like their first two performances, and it was perfectly executed and beautiful. They gain an advantage by being a different type of dance act, and not one that’s a dime-a-dozen.

Drew Thomas Magic – He astonished me in his original audition and then again in the quarterfinals, but he’s turned into something of a one-trick pony. He really needed to expand on his repertoire this time around because you can only repackage the same illusion so many times before people tire of it. Regardless of the repetitiveness, his illusions are still fantastic.

Tony Hoard & Rory – His performance this week was a thousand times better than his quarter-final show, but he’s still not more impressive than the rest of the remaining acts. He added some very impressive stunts for Rory and the dog rose to the occasion. Still a very fun act, but not the best.

The Voices of Glory – The sister is still very much the star of this group and they continue to feature her. They opened their semi-final performance with the two brothers beginning the song and their performance really came together when the sister took over the stage. The three siblings are all great kids too, which doesn’t do anything to hurt their appeal any. Sure, there are better singers, but as far as acts as whole, I’m not sure there is.

The Fab Five – I like them, but their act hasn’t progressed all that much since the beginning of the competition. While acts like Acrodunk and Voices of Glory have added different aspects that enhance their performances, the Fab Five has stayed comparatively stagnant.

Grandma Lee – Even after seeing her twice, I still enjoy her. She not the best comedian I’ve ever seen and to be honest, her material isn’t side-clutchingly funny to begin with. But because she’s 75, she’s a pleasure to watch. However, it seemed she was reaching for material and might have run into something of a wall. Joking about her and Piers was funny the first time, but it’s run it’s course.

Arcadian Broad – Piers critiqued his dancing and I agree. He runs around, spins and jumps but it’s not a particularly graceful type of dance. He looks more like a child chasing bubbles in the backyard than he does a million-dollar performer.

Kevin Skinner – He definitely had a down week with his vocals. His higher notes were very noticeably flat, but the best thing about Kevin is that even when that happens, he still brings tears to every eye in the audience.

***

Only four acts move past the semifinals, and it’s getting harder and harder to pick the ones that deserve to go on. I’d eliminate Arcadian Broad, Grandma Lee and Tony & Rory first off the bat, as I just don’t think they measure up to the rest of their competition. I’d also drop Drew Thomas Magic and the Fab Five.

That leaves me with five acts for four spots. Acrodunk is definitely through in my book, as well as Paradizo Dance. I think that the vocal problems Kevin Skinner had last night might be caused by the pure emotion with which he sings and because of the way he has of captivating an audience, I put him through.

So my last spot in the semi-finals comes down to the Voices of Glory and the Fab Five. On one hand, I don’t want to get so caught up in the emotional story of the Voices of Glory that I overvalue their talent. But Nadia has an incredible voice and her brothers, while not as good, pair excellently with her in harmonies. The Fab Five are highly enjoyable to watch and their footwork and coordination are incredible.

In the end, I have to choose the Voices of Glory for the final spot and send the Fab Five home. I just don’t think the Fab Five have shown me enough different aspects of their act to warrant sending them to the semifinals over the Voices of Glory, who, again and again have come back and astonished me week after week.

So the first four finalists for me would be Acrodunk, Kevin Skinner, Paradizo Dance and the Voices of Glory.

***

In the results show, The Texas Tenors were the first group through while Arcadian Broad and Drew Thomas Magic were sent home.

In the second grouping, Grandma Lee went through while Tony & Rory and Paradizo Dance went through. I was disappointed here, but America’s falling in love with this little old lady and I’m just not.

Kevin Skinner went through and what has turned into a bigger tragedy than Charles DeWayne going home, Acrodunk got the axe. How the hell do they go home? Kevin Skinner is emotional and a decent enough vocalist, but he’s not a terrific talent.

After a run around the mill, the Fab Five and the Voices of Glory were both voted through. So the acts moving into the finals were the Texas Tenors, Grandma Lee, Kevin Skinner, the Fab Five and the Voices of Glory. Grandma Lee should not be in the finals and I still can’t figure out how Acrodunk is headed home.

AFC Preview

New England Patriots (12-4): This team won 12 games without Tom Brady behind center. Even if Brady doesn’t return to his pre-injury form, he’s still one of the premiere quarterbacks in the league.

New York Jets (8-8): The defense could be something special, but the suspensions of Shaun Ellis (1 game) and Calvin Pace (4 games) hurt. The offense will be run-heavy with Leon Washington, Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene allowing rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez to acclimate to the NFL game.

Miami Dolphins (8-8): There will be no Comeback Player of the Year award for Chad Pennington this time around, and the offense will feature more “Wildcat” formations and try to capitalize on 2009 draftee Pat White’s special skill set.

Buffalo Bills (6-10): The headlines in Buffalo (and sometimes Toronto) will probably focus around T.O. and the circus he brings with him and for good reason. The Bills won’t be all that special unless they can get by without starting RB Marshawn Lynch for the first four weeks (suspension) and if the offensive line steps up to protect the QB and open running lanes.

Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Joseph Addai looked like he lost a step last year, and the Colts drafted UConn back Donald Brown to help out in the backfield. They’ll look for Anthony Gonzalez to somewhat replace the production of Marvin Harrison, although his hands have looked poor in practice and preseason work.

Houston Texans (10-6): If Matt Schaub plays all 16 games and the offensive line keeps him upright, this offense could be very special and carry the Texans into their first postseason appearance. Andre Johnson is already an elite receiver in this league and Schaub is on his way to becoming an elite quarterback.

Tennessee Titans (9-7): Losing Albert Haynesworth up front is no doubt a large blow to a solid defense, but adding WR Kenny Britt and TE Jared Cook give Kerry Collins yet two more possible targets as they look to solidify their receiving corps on offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11): With Fred Taylor gone, Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD) will become the central part of Jacksonville’s offense. The Jags finished off 2008 on a low note and it looks like 2009 will be another tough season as they look to rediscover their team identity.

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): The Steelers are the defending champions, but remember that only one of the past ten Super Bowl winners have repeated and that team may have been doing illegal things. But with a shut-down defense and MVP-caliber quarterback, the Steelers look to have a pretty good chance to return to the Super Bowl.

Baltimore Ravens (9-7): They won last year based mainly off how dominant their defense played, and they lost Rex Ryan, the mastermind coordinator and quite a few key pieces from that defense. The defense will still be a strength, but the offense may have to take a few steps forward to return to the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9): The defense is slowly (slowly) improving, but it’s still extremely porous. A healthy Carson Palmer will be able to outgun the other offense once in a while leading the Bengals back around another .500 season.

Cleveland Brown (1-15): Brady Quinn should probably win the quarterback competition, but neither he or Derek Anderson is all that attractive of an option. Eric Mangini has a tough road ahead of him in his first year as the Browns’ coach.

San Diego Chargers (10-6): Always one of the most talented teams in the league, San Diego is usually also one of the more disappointing teams as well.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-7): Things are looking up for the Chiefs, but they have to hope that Matt Cassell’s injury isn’t too severe. They underwent a serious makeover in the offseason, but hopefully it’s a good one.

Denver Broncos (5-11): Firing Mike Shanahan probably wasn’t the smartest decision the franchise has made, although it probably wasn’t as bad as getting rid of Jay Cutler.

Oakland Raiders (4-12): Butchering the draft again this year was only the beginning for Al Davis. The on-field product isn’t going to be much better, seeing as they still don’t have any reliable quarterback options.

Video Walk-Through of The Shire

Here’s a quick peek into the house and property I’m living at for the next few months.