Monthly Archives: September 2009

A surreal paradigm shift

(1:16 p.m.): When Craig Carey first arrived at UC in 2005, he watched during his redshirt year as the Bearcats struggled to win games in their first Big East season.

Penn State gave them a beating. Miami University decimated them by four touchdowns. And West Virginia, South Florida and Rutgers slapped them around in the final three weeks of the season by a combined score of 113-25.

The season was over by Nov. 27, and to a team not used to having a major postseason presence, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for the Bearcats.

Read the rest here.

UC vs. Ohio State: who wins?

(11:45 a.m.): I understand why UC fans want to compare themselves to the school up north, I can understand why they want to be the ones to proclaim that the Bearcats are the best college football program in the state and I can understand why they get excited when sophomore running back Isaiah Pead says something like this about Ohio State:

“If we ever have to strap it on with them, we’re going to win it.

Read the rest here.

A conversation with Brandon Underwood

(11:41 a.m.): After a 2008 NFL Draft in which three UC defensive backs were selected, only one has emerged on an active roster. It wasn’t Mike Mickens – who was cut by the Cowboys and then signed to their practice squad. And it wasn’t DeAngelo Smith – who’s been involved with three organizations already this season.

Instead, it was the least-heralded of the group, Brandon Underwood, a player who was highly-recruited out of Hamilton High, flamed out at Ohio State, transferred to UC and transformed himself into an NFL prospect.

Underwood, drafted by Green Bay, made the 53-man roster out of training camp, and although he hasn’t been on the 45-man active roster for the Packers’ first two games this season – including their loss to the Bengals on Sunday – he’s beginning to make an impact at the professional level.

Read the rest here.

Facing a tough environment

(3:28 p.m.): The crowd at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday could present a problem for the UC football team. The fans are rowdy. They’re passionate. They’re liable to disrupt the opposing offense and intimidate the opposing defense.

If you were at the West Virginia game last season – Bearcats senior wide receiver Mardy Gilyard called it the loudest place he’s ever played – you’ll have a sense of what to expect when UC plays Oregon State at 6:45 p.m. ET on Saturday. But the fans in Corvallis might make it even tougher for the Bearcats than the Mountaineers followers did. These fans carry some serious vocal chords behind them.

Take it from somebody who knows: former USC and current Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga, who played in Corvallis twice in his career and lost both times.

Read the rest here.

The experience I wish I could have

My wife, Julie, had the greatest concert experience of her life Saturday night. She drove to Chicago with some friends to see U2 kick off its North American tour, and since she got back this afternoon, she’s been talking non-stop about what a great time she had.

She gave me the play-by-play of her trip while we ate dinner. She showed me the pictures she took on her camera. She made me watch the YouTube videos (crappy sound quality and all). She swooned over Bono.

We saw U2 about a decade ago at the Georgia Dome during the disastrous Pop Mart tour, and since I’m not a big U2 guy, I was just fine skipping this show. Julie, though, made me relive it.

“It was 100 times better than the show in Atlanta,” she texted me minutes after the last notes evaporated into the night.

“It was the best concert ever,” she exclaimed the next day, as I wiped the pizza sauce off my face.

“Don’t you wish you were there?” she taunted (though she knows I don’t really care).

It brought me back to the favorite concert I’ve ever seen. I’ve experienced some great acts – Ben Harper four times in high school and college; Mike Patton close to a half-dozen times; a Bad Religion show where the band played EVERY song I wanted*; Tool, an eight-hour roundtrip ride from Philly to New Haven to see Sparta; etc.

*This is a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced before and I haven’t experienced since.

But the best show I ever saw was Pink Floyd in 1994 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on the Division Bell tour, the last tour the band will ever play (I don’t think any YouTube videos exist, but strangely, there are numerous clips from the band’s 1987 stop at the now-defunct Omni). The stage show … incredible. The vibe in the audience … awesome. The sound from the band … pretty good. The entire experience … best-ever.

I remember thinking at the time that this was the best show I had ever seen, and that was true. It was only the second true rock concert I’d ever witnessed (Aerosmith was show No. 1 in 1993, though before that, I was supposed to hit a Coverdale/Page concert that eventually was canceled (I still remember how devastated I was when I heard that show was kaput because of poor ticket sales)). I also remember thinking Pink Floyd (minus, of course, Roger Waters) was the best show I’d probably ever see. And that’s true. At least I think.

I really wish I could have found some YouTube clips from the show at Bobby Dodd, just so I could confirm what I’ve built up in my mind the past 15 years. That apparently is not possible. But I do know this. The stage show was incredible, but the vibe in the audience was mediocre (the crowd was decidedly uninterested when the band played its new music, though the fans turned themselves around when Pink Floyd played the hits in the second act). The sound wasn’t really the best I’d ever heard either.

But overall, that show – when I was 15 years old and a freshman in high school – was the highlight of my concert-going experience, and I don’t think anything will ever live up to it. Listening to Julie describe her experience, I was a little jealous, because I don’t think I’ll ever feel that way for another show. It’s not the Pink Floyd show that was so great. It’s the memory of the Pink Floyd show that was so great.

Maybe I peaked too soon.

Why can’t I find this music?

I used to listen to an Internet radio show where the host – a fairly well-known bass player who continues to play and tour with various bands – would throw out songs by artists I’d never heard before. Some were beautiful. Some were horrible. Most of the new songs I heard didn’t do much for me one way or the other. A precious few hit me right in the heart of my ear drum.

Of course, the host played more mainstream music – some Zeppelin, some Beatles, some Clash, some Afghan Whigs, some Pixies.

But there were two songs that came out of nowhere that I really dug. I’ve sought out the songs occasionally during the past year to listen, but I can’t seem to find a place to download them. They’re not on iTunes, they’re not available for purchase on Myspace, they’re not seen on Imeem. They’re not really anywhere that you can buy.

They are Jeff Klein’s “Bury It Low” (which is actually performed by My Jerusalem, a band in which Klein plays) and Martyn LeNoble’s “Closer” (one of the more beautiful songs I’ve heard lately). All I want to do is download the songs (legally) so I can rip them onto a blank CD or just listen to them on my iPod.

But for some reason, that’s impossible right now. And that seems insane.

Don’t we live in a time where we can get anything we want, whenever we want? Isn’t the Internet supposed to give us whatever we need? Yes? Then why can’t I download the damn songs that I want. Why can’t I pay my 99 cents and listen to the music when I’m sweeping the floor or writing a game story? Why is it so got-damn difficult?

It’s frustrating, you know?

Short week isn’t a problem

(5:10 p.m.): If you remember last year’s UConn-UC game, you remember what a disaster that game was for the Bearcats.

A 40-16 pounding that had people questioning what kind of team the Bearcats ultimately would be. Quarterback Tony Pike having to leave the game at halftime because he had lost feeling in his arm. The inability to stop Huskies running back Donald Brown. The 0-for-25 stat on third downs.

It was brutal. And you know what the Bearcats did the next day? They practiced. They had to practice, in fact, because South Florida was coming to town five days after UConn pasted UC. That Sunday workout, though, was a huge event. You could make the argument that it turned around the entire season.

Read the rest here.

Rey Maualuga is earning his stripes

These are the fun stories to write. Big-time newspaper (how much longer will we be able to say that about any newspaper?), big-time story, big-fun guy to interview.

I wish they could all go this smooth.

An almost glorious movie

I liked it. Didn’t love it. I’d see it again, but I don’t think it would replace my top two favorite Quentin Tarantino movies. But I liked it. Liked it a lot.

I saw Inglourious Basterds last weekend. I thought it was very Tarantino-esque. Lots of violence, lots of squeamishness, lots of humor. I really enjoy the way he shot the movie*, and believe me, I don’t study directors like a film student would. Some of it was pure Tarantino. Some of it was somebody else Tarantino was impersonating or praising.

*The closeups – of the fabric of a Frenchman’s courderoy pants, the wide white eyes of a family hiding beneath another family’s floorboards, the wild-eyed expressions of a man killing dozens – were particularly enthralling.

Brad Pitt’s Tennessee accent was overly-acted, but appropriately so with a nod and a wink to the audience watching him. Mike Myers was Austin Powers imitating a British Army officer (again, with a knowing smile to the audience). The villianous Nazis were comically inept and boorish.

And then there was the final scene – a scene that sort of emerged from nowhere and featured a climax that could have turned a movie that you liked into a movie that you loathed.

I liked it. I just didn’t love it. It was Inglourious. Just not as Glorious as I hoped.

The rise of Sam Griffin

(10:58 a.m.): When UC junior offensive tackle Sam Griffin first arrived at UC, he weighed between 210-220 pounds and the coaching staff wasn’t exactly sure where to play him.

The Bearcats could 1) put massive bulk on him and throw him on the offensive line; 2) slowly increase his weight and use him on the defensive line; or 3) keep him around the same weight and have him compete for a tight end spot.

They had signed Griffin because he was 6-foot-5 and he had the potential to play in a variety of positions. They liked his ability to grow. But before his freshman year, there was still a question as to what position group the coaches should assign him.

Read the rest here.