Wednesday, May 29, 2013

100 Posts: A Look Back

So, last night my review of Troy Blackford's "For Those With Eyes to See" was my 100th post on the doofus blog.

In the interest of self interest, I thought I'd take a look at the "Stats" that have been run up here over the past few years.

All Time page views:  6,138  (673 last month)

Most Viewed Posts:
Nov 17, 2011
May 24, 2012
May 21, 2012, 1 comment

Two of my earliest posts ever, have the most views.  Also, I've found that "Top 10" and "Top 5" lists are popular.

Glad to see 177 views of my "Saying Goodbye to Seau" post.  That was a hard one to write for me.

Top "Search Keywords" that have led people to my blog:
scott brooks
musings of a sports doofus
worst sports uniforms
ugly browns fans
grace potter
sports doofus
So, Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks is number 1, and by a long way.  Which is strange because I think I've only written about him one time.  Also love the "ugly browns fans" search.

The Audience of this blog:
United States
United Kingdom
So mostly Americans, which is understandable, because I'm American and my facebook and twitter followers are American.  Surprising to see Russia in 2nd on this list.  Again, Welcome Comrades!

By Month... the most views of this blog
April 2013 with 848 views
May 2013 (still not over!) with 644 views at this writing.
September 2012 with 445 views

As you can see from the picture below, the attention being paid to the blog appears to continue to grow.

As to why I started this blog... I'm not really sure.  I just felt like I had some opinions on things, and wanted to put them out there.  I'm not whining or anything, but I don't really have a lot of close friends, and many of those live quite a ways away.

It was just a way for me to communicate my thoughts, originally on sports, but then amended to include Television, Movies, Music, and whatever else I find interesting.

It's still mostly about sports.  April being the (former) home of the NFL draft, and my live blogging of it the past year was certainly the reason that last month had the most views.

What does all this mean?  Nothing much.  I'm just a guy with a keyboard, who likes sports and popular culture.

Thanks for reading this.  If you're a regular visitor to the blog...feel free to sign up to be a "follower".  I only have 5!  Maybe someone with 100 posts and only 5 followers should "wise up" and stop "wasting his time" by typing a bunch of worthless drivel.  But I'm not going to.

Tell some friends, spread the word... I bet we could double the number of followers in a Month!  
(that's a little joke, I know... I'm not funny)

Thanks again.  We'll see you in the funny papers.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Book Talk: For Those with Eyes to See

So, as I said in my last book post a few weeks back, I'm not a book reviewer.  In fact, I cannot fathom how someone would become such a thing.  It's not that I don't appreciate it... I'm always reading the reviews of the books I am choosing to read, or have read, or whatever.  I understand it takes skill and knowledge that frankly, I do not have.

However, I do enjoy reading and try to get through as many books as I can.  I can never get through as many as I want to, and I usually have a "waiting list" about 10 books deep.

A bit over a year ago, I signed up for twitter, and one of my earliest "follows" was a young writer by the name of Troy Blackford.  Mainly because it seemed like we had similar interests (mostly Stephen King) and he described himself as a "80's kid", which I was too (well, 80's teenager anyway).  So I followed Troy's twitter feed, and I thought that would pretty much be it.

Little did I know that he is writing constantly, and posting many of his stories... free for the world to see on his blog.  I read a few of them, but on a few "special occasions" Troy posted a link for FREE copies of his Trilogy:  Critical Incident, Emergent Pattern, and the soon to be released finale... Inimical Outcome.

I really have enjoyed these "novellas", and so a few weeks back, Troy mentioned on Twitter that he was looking for people to read copies of his collection of short stories "For Those with Eyes to See", I contacted him, and he sent it to me...and I just finished it.

So, where to begin?  Like I said, I'm not really a book "reviewer".  But, I really enjoyed these stories.  They were fast paced, and quick... which is important to me in short stories (I hate reading a book of short stories, and thinking...'when will this end?') .

The other point I'd like to make, is these stories were very original and creative.  I found myself often thinking "where did he come up with this?"... and I mean that in a good way, it was a positive.  I'd find myself smiling as I was reading the introduction to several of the stories.  You just never knew what road Troy was going to take you down.

A few of my favorites from this collection:  Ghost in the Machine, Discontinuity (I'm not sure if this is the same title in the book...I'm going off of Troy's website here..and that's the story, about the person stuck in the room, but I digress), and the title story "For Those with Eyes to See".  There were certainly other stories in there that I enjoyed.. but I'm having trouble remembering the titles right now.

Truthfully?  I enjoyed them all.

Troy also has a "full length" Novel available (I'm pretty sure he'll even send you a signed copy if you want) entitled:  Through the Woods.  Which I haven't read yet, but it is certainly on my "list" of books to purchase.

So, if you like stories, and even better, if you like stories that are imaginative, and fun, and fast moving... I'd highly recommend that you give Troy Blackford's For Those with Eyes to See a try.  I think you'll enjoy it, I certainly did.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Weekend to Remember

With the release of "Modern Vampires of the City" the 'Alternative' rock band Vampire Weekend have created a modern alt rock classic.

I'm no music reviewer... in fact, to be honest I usually struggle to understand what music reviews mean.  What does "rich texture" mean when talking about music?  Or a soundscape?  What the heck is that?

I'm a music lover, but I'm really not into descriptions of what I hear.  If I like it, I'll generally listen to it, and I'll even mention the band and/or artist to my friends and family.

The first time that I'd ever even heard of Vampire Weekend, I was watching Saturday Night Live back in 2008 and they were advertised as next week's musical guest.  I said to my wife, "Who the heck is Vampire Weekend?"  I think I was expecting some sort of Goth/Punk/Hardcore band.  The next week they came on and played "A-Punk", and it took me about 15 seconds to decide that I liked them.

Here is the live performance from SNL of the first single "Diane Young" from MVoftheC.

Vampire Weekend is just getting better and better.

The last album that I was THIS addicted to, was Torches by Foster the People.  And, Modern Vampires of the City is a much, much better album than that.  I enjoy listening to the whole thing... but if you want to check out some standout tracks.....try these:
-Diane Young
-Everlasting Arms
-Ya Hey

However, if reviews are your are a few for Modern Vampires of the City:
Entertainment Weekly
Rolling Stone

So, if you like music, and you like 'alternative' music, but with a little 'pop' thrown in there...give Vampire Weekend a listen.  It's good stuff.  I'll leave you with "Walcott" one of their first hits from the debut album.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's a Mad World

...and we're all living in it.

Mad Men has changed the way we view television.
It's very difficult to explain the appeal of the television series Mad Men.

I remember the first few times I tried to tell people about it.  "It's set in the 60's.  And it's about advertising executives in New York...on Madison Avenue...that's where they get the name 'Mad Men'.  And it's really good."

This was usually met with the response, "That doesn't sound very interesting".

To which I replied, "I know.  But that's the thing... it's phenomenal."  And, I'd go on to talk about how addicting the show was...and how my wife in I would lie in bed and watch it streaming from Amazon, and we'd watch the show one after another....

Mr. Draper is not your typical protagonist.
Usually, people would just shrug and walk away, a little confused...and probably thinking that I was more than a little strange.

However,as time went on, and the accolades for the show kept rolling in, more people I knew started watching.  I don't even feel like an "outsider" for watching it anymore.

Show Runner Matthew Weiner holding the fruits of his labor.
As I was watching last night's episode, "The Crash" (major plot point:  numerous members of the agency get a "supervitamin injection" in the buttocks...which led to all sorts of irregular behavior in the office, as they worked through the weekend trying to come up with a 'pitch' for Chevrolet) I decided... you know what... I'm going to post about Mad Men again.

Ken Cosgrove tap dancing last night... I shall never forget this.
It's truly the best show on television.  Full of unforgettable characters, excellent plot twists, and... and... some of the best acting that's ever been done on the "small screen".  I could go on and on and on about why you should watch it.  But the best way is probably just to say... "watch 2 episodes back to back...and if you aren't hooked, I apoligize".  I've never met a single person who started watching this show and said "meh".  It's usually the same story... "I started watching...and I just couldn't stop."

If you haven't started watching it yet... do yourself a favor and give it a try.  But, start at the beginning.... get the dvd's, or rent it online... but start at the very beginning.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Farewell to Bill Hader

Last night Saturday Night Live bid farewell to one of my favorite performers, and certainly one of the more valuable assets in Lorne Michael's cast in recent history.

Bill Hader arrived at SNL in 2005, and really without a lot of splash or fanfare.  He was just a guy, a new cast member... nothing seemingly remarkable or unremarkable about him.

He just looks like a dude you could be friends with, right?
As time wore on however, I remember Hader quietly appearing in more and more and more sketches.  I remember texting my brother Chuck one night saying something along the lines of "Bill Hader has been in every sketch so far!".

Not only was he gaining more exposure on the show, he was creating some wonderful recurring characters.

The first one I remember striking a chord with me is Italian talk show host, Vinny Vedecci.

Some other favorites who would appear from time to time:  Greg the Alien, newscaster Herb Welch, game show host Lyle Round (Hader is arguably the greatest fake "game show host" of all time, hosting any number of different wacky shows), Lindsey Buckingham from What's Up With That, and Nitro from Laser Cats.

And, he did an amazing job as Vincent Price, in any number of "Holiday Themed" specials, like this one:

Another of my favorite impressions of Hader's was James Carville.  Just Brilliant.

Other famous Hader impressions include:  Al Pacino, Dateline NBC's Keith Morrison, and former Governor Elliot Spitzer.

But the most famous, noteworthy, and beloved of Hader's characters is Weekend Update's  City Correspondent, Stefon.

(All Streaming videos linked from

Probably the best thing about the "Stefon" character was that Hader would consistently start laughing during the sketch, and "break character".  Hader has admitted in interviews that this is because as he is reading the prompter...writer John Mulaney (who co-created Stefon with Hader) slips new dialog and descriptions into what Stefon is saying.  Which leads to Hader often putting his hands on his face to hide his "giggles".

A sight very familiar to SNL watchers.
I'm sure that Saturday Night Live will be fine, it's survived this long for a reason, and there are always "new guys" to pick up the slack.

But I'm going to miss Bill.  He was one of those performers who, whenever he was on would make you feel like "this sketch has a chance...Hader is in it!".  I think that's about the highest compliment you can give an SNL performer.

PS... during the "Closing" of last night's season finale of SNL... seeing Hader and Jason Sedeikis hug each other and then wipe tears away... that was pretty cool.  Sedeikis will probably get his own post when he leaves the show.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Couple of Good Books

Although I consider myself "a reader", I don't nearly get through nearly as many books as I want to read.

So usually, I'm months or years behind when I read something really good.

My Kindle is usually 2 years behind current books.
It was this way with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo", and that entire series.  I had heard about it, and I'd seen the books in stores, and it was always being advertised on Amazon when I'd go searching for books.  But I just never got around to reading it.  When I finally did, I was blown away...those books were phenomenal.

I usually hesitate to mention the books I'm reading on here, because I'm no literary critic.  I can barely write a functional blog.  And to be honest...I'm not sure how functional this blog is.  I'm just a dude with a keyboard, and few ideas.  (Most not very original).

However, I do enjoy reading, and stories.  Lately, I've been alternating between reading a fictional story (like a Stephen King book or something), then I'll read something funny (like Adam Carolla), and I'll follow that with something about sports, and then maybe something on motivation.  And I just go around and around like that.

Anyway, I finally read a couple of books I've been meaning to read for a LONG Time.  And I really enjoyed them.

Neat Covers are the one thing I do miss, using a Kindle.

Horns by Joe Hill

I'd read Joe Hill's first novel, "Heart Shaped Box" a few years back, and after that I eagerly awaited his next release because I had enjoyed it so much.  Of course, "Horns" came out like a year later, in 2010, and I waited to read it until just now...because I was reading other things.

I made a mistake.  Horns is a tremendous novel, by probably the most promising young novelist of this era.  Hill, who is Stephen King's son, is extremely talented, and both of his full length books have been really enjoyable.  He also recently released a new novel, entitled "NOS4A2", that is getting tremendous reviews.

So, if you like Supernatural Thrillers... I'd would certainly recommend Mr. Hill and his works.  I'm certainly not going to wait 3 years to read NOS4A2.

I did actually buy this in paperback, and it basically has nothing on the cover.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I actually remember first seeing the commercials for the movie for The Road.  It starred Viggo Mortensen and it looked like a really good movie.  While I watched a review for the film, I think it was the dude on CBS Sunday Morning... he mentioned that it was from a book.

So I made a mental note of it.  Just something I thought that..."If I get a chance, I should probably read it."  Well, a few years pass, and I get stuck at the repair shop in Sioux Falls, during the Howard Wood Track meet, while they replace the Fuel Pump on my vehicle.  So I walked down the street, and went to Barnes and Nobles and looked for a book and found "The Road".

I must say, I really don't know how to describe this book, other than I've never really ever read anything quite like it.  A man and his son... living in some sort of post-apocalyptic world... make their way South along the road.  That's about all I will share.  My wife kept asking me about this book as I was reading it, and I kept telling her... "Well, they are still walking down the road"...

It was just very original, and touching, and very good.  I highly recommend.  (It's also quite that's a bonus).