Friday, June 1, 2007

Daily Sport Shorts: June 1st, 2007

By Doug Branson

On Billy Donovan going pro level: I don’t know quite what to think of this one. I like his chances of being successful on a few grounds:

1. He’s going to the Eastern Conf.

2. He has Dwight Howard

3. He’s been extremely successful at the college level

On the other hand, I don’t like his chances on a few grounds:

1. He has Eastern Conference talent

2. He only has one Dwight Howard

3. Rick Pitino, P.J. Carlesimo, John Calipari, Tim Floyd, Lon Kruger and Mike Montgomery.

And OH the irony, in a draft that features three Florida players expected to go in the first round the Magic have zero picks.

On Cavs-Pistons series:

I love how the internet, ESPN and instant news updates have revolutionized sports journalism. Take this latest Kobe Bryant instance for example I feel like I’ve been through an entire off-season of Laker news in a day. Instead of letting the situation play out and reporting on it when they got definitive news, or not reporting on it after realizing how ridiculous the whole situation is in Los Angeles, ESPN gives minute by minute coverage, Stephen A. looks like more of a jackass and Sportscenter has to change its tune mid-highlight. It’s silly.

Relating all this to the “Battle for NBA Runner Up,” this new wave of microwave sports journalism has led to no-one thinking past their next article and absolutely no one being responsible for their picks. I plan to write a whole article on this later but to sum my point up, everyone and there mother had Detroit eventually wiping the floor with Bron-Bron’s boys. Immediately people made comparisons between Michael and the Pistons to Bron-Bron and the Pistons. And now it appears there is a chance that comparison might become more than moot. But you won’t see anyone on ESPN admit that they jump to conclusions. They will just point to the blog post that predicted the Cavs to make the surprising upset…dated the night before Game 7.

On Samir Patel:

Karl Malone, Cal Ripken Jr., Dan Marino, all superstars who were forced by their bodies to retire before ever tasting championship glory. Add Samir Patel, superstar speller, to this elite list. Although it was a rule prohibiting anyone past the eight grade from competing, not his body that forced Patil to retire from the Scripps National Spelling Bee without a t-r-o-p-h-y, trophy.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Daily Survival Guide: May 31st, 2007

By Doug Branson and James Mundia

Stealing is stealing…unless you are a college student. In that case the crime turns into a muddled, subjective mess that would make Tolstoy’s heart thump. Most normal people have something inside them that distinguishes right and wrong. Most also have something inside that negotiates that same dualism in situations of survival or common sense. Doing well at college is, often times, about both of these situations.

Like white lies, students at universities deem the theft of some items as acceptable. The only way to prevent this kind of theft is to recognize the items, understand how they are stolen, and why they are stolen.

So without further ado…

Four things you absolutely, under no circumstances can leave in front of college students if you ever want to see them again. (In no particular order)

1. Pizza

As a college student I don’t buy into all the stereotypes that are associated with our breed. We aren’t all strapped for cash, we aren’t all on a diet of ramen noodles and 2 liters of Coca Cola. But one stereotype I gladly accept is that we do eat a ton of pizza. On the main street adjacent to my university we have at least four establishments that deliver pizza. That’s before ever getting to the chain pizzeria’s, like Dominos and Pizza Hut, that surround the campus.

With pizza being in abundance and relatively cheap, if you know the right deals, one wouldn’t think that this would be an item so easy taken without permission. But leave a fresh, hot, unguarded pie in front of a hungry pack of students and it won’t be long before you come back and some guy takes a break between bites to say “Is this for everybody?” He of course asks this after devouring half of the pizza, leaving hardly anything for the “everybody” he is imagining. And the pizza being in your room and on your bed apparently didn’t give him a clue to the answer to his query.

What are you going to do? Call the police? Beat it out of him? If he thought you could do that he wouldn’t have bothered to take a piece in the first place. Besides you’re weak from lack of food anyway and he is refreshed.

At an informal event at a student organization on campus, some members of the organization decided to order pizza for the others. Five minutes after the pizzas arrived they were gone. One of the members that ordered the pizza was stunned that it was gone so fast. Why? You are mixing three things that students, in fact mankind, holds dear: free, food, and marinara sauce. This isn’t necessarily a theft but it goes to the point of how valuable this item is to college students.

Your hard earned money went to buy that pizza so you must protect it. Never leave a pizza unattended around other students. And if someone asks for a piece you can take one of several measures.

1. The New York Method: Stick a piece of pizza in your mouth. Chew loudly and obnoxiously. Stare at the person. Repeat steps until the person becomes frustrated and walks away.

2. The Socratic Method: Question the existence of the pizza itself.

3. The Kosher Method: Charge accordingly.

2. Batteries (AA’s to DD’s)

It seems as if the only thing technology hasn’t changed in our society is the reliance, in some form or fashion, on batteries. Where is my fusion powered universal remote? Batteries are still an essential element to college life. They operate items key to our existence.

Alarm Clock: They can’t screech like a banshee without a couple of AAs.

Remote Controls: If you’ve ever taken an economics class you don’t have the extra five seconds to get up and change the channel. Especially since your alarm clock’s batteries are dead and you woke up 20 minutes late.

Wireless Video Game Controllers: Eliminates the pesky bathroom break from interfering with Halo 3 Beta.

Boombox from 1993: You bought it right as they went out of style. Then you came to college and suddenly it makes you “That Guy” again. But you haven’t changed the batteries since 1996.

Batteries are not only in demand they are expensive in college dollars. Four batteries can cost as much five bucks. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to find a four pack. Whenever you need batteries the most is when the only store left open is Wal-Mart and they only have packs of 24. Suddenly you’re buried in AAs and you leave the other twenty in the box laying on your desk.

This is when the college thief strikes. When you are most vulnerable. Are you really going to miss two batteries in a pack of twenty four? For a male thief, all he has to do is distract you for a mere second and he suddenly has a much larger bulge in his pocket. You look back awkwardly and know the only two options are that he has either stolen your batteries or is really happy to see you. Either way, you can’t take the chance that it is the latter. For a female battery thief, let’s just put it this way. They don’t make those massive pocketbooks for nothing.

High demand, supply is costly, theft is relatively simple. It doesn’t take a ECON major to figure this stuff out. The only way to keep this kind of theft from happening is to own more things that require batteries. That way when you have to buy the 24 pack you won’t be depressed about it.

I suggest purchasing 8 universal remotes and a Furby.

3. T-Shirts

Like pizza, when T-shirts are lying around most students don’t automatically think, “I’m going to steal those.” They assume that they have every right to the T-shirts as anyone else, or they assume that they are being given out for free. This is not only a ridiculous assumption to make but results in some odd combinations of students and T-shirts. No way you can convince me that every skinny, white male that wears a “Great Breasts Are Worth Having” shirt donated money to breast cancer research.

College students think they need T-shirts. For some it’s a matter of economics, others just like to have an odd assortment of outerwear, and a rare few are working on “My College Life” quilt. Whatever category they fall under they are hungry for 100 percent cotton and they will stop at nothing to get it.

If you are selling T-shirts:

--Keep an eye on the shirts at all times.

--Bring a bottle of ink with you. Every 25th person or so, after the purchase, throw the ink on them and yell “Thief! Thief!” They will run and you will scare any would be T-Shirt fiends.

If you are giving T-Shirts away:

--Beware of fake moustaches, fake ids, and bilingual speakers. Remember these theives are crafty and ruthless.

--I recommend an elaborate retinal scan system. But if you’re strapped for cash you can just punch everyone you give a T-Shirt to in the arm. If it's summer time the bruise will show and they won’t be able to get by you again.

4. Alcohol

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you are silly enough to leave the liquid gold out unattended you deserve the eventual and sober disappointment.

Find a bush or a wall, any niche will do, be creative. Just make sure your DD knows where you put it because you are likely to forget.

Or you can purchase this T-Shirt but make sure no one steals it: http://www.cafepress.cm/lt_beerguard.

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Don’t be a victim of crimeless theft. As a college student you have enough to worry about with drinking violations, assault, and actual theft to be dealing with these large inconveniences. College can be a dangerous place if you don’t keep your mind right, your eyes open, and The Daily Obsession bookmarked. Stay tuned for more Daily Survival Guides in the future.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Daily Conundrum: May 30th, 2007

By Doug Branson


In a matter of hours and two radio shows later, Kobe Bryant made another difficult life decision. He went from being on the trading block, to a Laker for life in between psychological sessions with Stephen A. Smith, Phil Jackson, and Dan Patrick. It’s really a shame that Kobe didn’t take more time to mull this over. We as a sports nation missed out on a lot of great moments that could have been.

We didn’t get the unique perspective of another bad front office that you get from a Kiki Vande "wegh in.”

No Dee Brown reminding us why Dream Job was a failed experiment.

No time for ESPN to develop specialized graphics with Kobe in an assortment of uniforms from Bulls red to Warrior blue.

No comment from Kevin Garnett saying he wouldn’t ask for a trade if he we’re a Laker.

No chance for a Boston Globe reporter to ask Danny Ainge about the possibility of bringing in Bryant and getting a response that equates to, “Why would we? We’re already a playoff team.”

No subsequent riots in the streets of Boston.

No examples of how hypocritical Philadelphia sports fans are as they cheer wildly at the news that Bryant is interested in becoming a Sixer.

No chance for Bryant’s agent to insinuate that he would be a perfect fit somewhere between Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson.

No subsequent riots in Denver.

No opportunity for Isaiah Thomas to ponder moving the 2021 and 2022 first round draft picks out west.

No silly "war to sports" analogies comparing Kobe to a refugee.

Nope. Sadly, this story seems like its over before it began. But all is not lost. It will be a long off-season in Los Angeles and they still have a whole draft they can bungle. Until then, we can only dream of the possibilities.

Daily Double Play: May 30th, 2007

Turning two since May of 2007

By Rich Abernethy

As my first foray into this blog business I wanted to bring up something that really grinds my gears, to borrow from the genius that is Peter Griffin. What really gets me riled up are the fixable problems affecting sports today that no one will do anything about. As a sports enthusiast who frequently leaves the channel on ESPN News for hours at a time (and somehow fail to be annoyed by the recurring highlights) some of these things really bother me more than they should. Anyways, here is my list for now (in no particular order) with more to surely follow as they creep up into the ole noggin.

1. The MLB All-Star Game.

Seriously, why does MLB determine home-field advantage for its championship series based on a meaningless game in which half the participants don’t give a crap and are selected primarily by fan vote. How does that make any sense whatsoever? Who brought that up in the meeting? It seems like some joke an intern brought up trying to get a laugh out of Selig, only he starts smiling and jotting it down and the intern starts looking around and can’t convince anyone he wasn’t serious and that it’s a terrible idea.

I mean, baseball perhaps more than any other sport can be influenced by where the game is played thanks to the DH. AL teams sign players exclusively to utilize in that position, whereas NL teams always wind up throwing out their 4th outfielder or random injured player during interleague or the World Series. So why should an AL team get to throw out its best possible lineup (at home to boot) for 4 of 7 games in October just because Magglio Ordonez takes Francisco Cordero deep in the 9th this July? This will never make sense to me. It’s akin to the NBA allowing the winner of the All-Star Game to play on a 9-foot goal or play with 6 players during the Finals. (Granted the Heat basically got the equivalent last June but that’s a whole different rant entirely.)

So here’s the solution: DO WHAT EVERY OTHER LEAGUE DOES!!! Give home field to the team with the best record. That way the team who plays the best all season gets an advantage by laying an extra game at home if the series goes the distance. Put some meaning back into the long, boring 162 game season. What a novel idea. How Bud Selig hasn’t completely ruined baseball yet boggles my mind. No salary cap, different rules depending on which league you’re in, and home field for the championship based on a showcase All-Star game. I think my grandmother could do a better job.

2. Isiah Thomas.

The prosecution rests. Next witness.

3. Stephen A. Smith.

Or more commonly known as Screamin’ A. Smith. If anyone who reaches for the mute button when he comes on ESPN wants a good laugh, then go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAB5lOIl-2U. Kinda long but worth it. He’s like the unhappy friend we all have who ruins the mood when you hang out by overreacting negatively to anything that happens. Only louder. I know I’m not the first to hate on Stephen A., nor will I be the last, but he epitomizes all that’s wrong with sports broadcasting which is really the bigger issue here. It’s his schtick and it’s what set him apart from other broadcaster in his way up the ranks. And because he’s successful, he can’t change or the 6 people in America who actually like him will say he sold out. Or at least that’s my theory. Surely no one can be that angry, loud and overzealous about everything he says.

4. San Antonio Spurs.

Dirtiest team in the NBA. Bar none. And no one calls them on it. And for some reason nobody who has played them in the playoffs has given them a dose of their own medicine to keep them in check. Granted, they have the David Stern card they can play whenever things get serious. They’re like the kid in elementary school who just kept poking you and poking you during class until the point you eventually snap and push him, and then he flops onto the floor and cries to the teacher and you get in trouble. Then as you walk to time out and the teacher’s back is turned he winks at you and grins just to really twist the knife. That’s the Spurs. Ginobili throws elbows all over the place (Watch the tape of Game 4 against the Jazz if you don’t believe me. He threw a shot as egregious as the one he caught from Derek Fisher when he got his 2nd technical that wasn’t called and then scored and got fouled on the play.), Bruce Bowen is dirty almost beyond belief, and Duncan whines worse than Sheed. He doesn’t think he’s committed a foul since 1998. Bill Simmons detailed Bowen’s antics better than I ever could, so go search his archive at Page 2 if you want the full write-up. So my focus is Ginobili. If he were Stephen Jackson or J.R. Smith or even Kobe he’d be getting reamed in the media right now. Remember those suspensions Kobe got earlier this year for forearms/elbows he threw or “misplaced”? Ginobili throws some that would make Kobe blush, and Bowen does the same. Yet nothing happens. And Amare and Diaw take three steps away from the bench and miss the pivotal game of their series. Makes no sense whatsoever. I hope Stern is happy when the Spurs play the Pistons or Cavs and nobody watches them flop their way to four 83-77 wins and another title. It would serve him right.



Daily DUI News: May 29th, 2007

Culprit: Jerry Buss
Occupation: Owner of the Los Angeles Lakers
Quote from a painstakingly prepared statement issued by the Lakers organization: "Although I was driving only a short distance, it was a bad decision and I was wrong to do it."
Probable Cause: The once great Laker franchise is in salary cap hell with no end in sight and Kobe is sounding off once again. His second best player is named Smush and his boy wonder Andrew Bynum has the entire city "wonder"ing why they didn't trade him for Jason Kidd. He is coming to the sad realization that if he would have kept Shaq, he could be drinking championship rings instead of whiskey sours.
What happens now: Svedka Vodka is likely to pull out as sponsor of Buss' birthday party. But he has gained the respect of local party animal Lindsay Lohan. Also, Kobe Bryant has reportedly already demanded the Lakers search for a new owner only to quickly back off claiming it was only a suggestion.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Daily Rant: May 29th, 2007

By Matt Saunders


Allow me to propose a scenario so that this rant might be better understood. You’re driving carelessly on any road that has two or more lanes on your respective side. Your favorite jam comes on the radio and you instinctively say, “Oh shit, that’s my shit.” It’s in this moment that you feel as if your life couldn’t possibly be any better. Suddenly, you encounter a car ahead of you that’s traveling noticeably slower.

No big deal.

You turn your signal on and check your blind spot only to see that a car occupies the space next to you. You are now stuck behind the slower car with no choice but to tap your break, clinch your steering wheel with the force of something not of this world, and feel the explosion take place in your head. It’s in this moment that you revoke the thought of the previous moment and now think of yourself as an incredible moron for ever being so na├»ve.

You now want to shoot the drivers in front of and beside you, not to mention yourself. The car in the other lane steadily creeps ahead of the slower car in front of you and you now have room to make your lane change.

I now get to my point.

It’s not enough to simply move into your new lane and go about your business. It now becomes completely necessary to obnoxiously and excessively accelerate into the lane and continue to trek at a break-neck pace until you no longer see the slower car in your rearview mirror, in the hopes that their absence from your vision means their presence in some situation that greatly surpasses the turmoil that you just endured.

I’ve been mulling over this since being involved in it earlier today. From what I can tell, this reaction is a universal response to the given situation, so my thoughts today have been to wonder why that is. The only logical solution I can come up with is that, like our fear of snakes and spiders, this is an evolutionary thing that’s been handed down for thousands of years and lives inside of us from the day we’re born.

Think about it: Caveman Oglethorpe is tracking down his dinner for the night and all of a sudden is slowed by the old and senile caveman Bartleby, who would’ve been left for dead years ago, but found a way to start fires with his penis. Oglethorpe tries to move past Bartleby, but finds that fat caveman Jones has moved next to him. Jones is moving faster than Bartleby, but is also attacking a rhinoceros and rye sandwich, so it’s not immediately possible for Oglethorpe to get past the two. He becomes enraged and clubs them both in the head and eats them for dinner instead of his previous prey. We, through thousands of years of evolution, have created laws against killing and/or eating other humans, so we simply rev our engines to suggest our desire to do so.

Daily Social Commentary: May 29th, 2007

By Doug Branson

Every good social commentary starts with a story. And most good social commentaries start over coffee. This one starts with both.

The woman working the register of one of my local coffee stores was talking nicely with one of her friends when I approached the counter. I smiled and when she made her way over to me I said something to the effect of, “Hey, how’s it going?” Expecting nothing more than a “pretty good” and nothing less than a sarcastic laugh and a roll of the eyes, what I received was far more rude in shocking. Nothing. Not a blink or a second thought, nothing. Now, I’m by no means old-fashioned. I’m growing up in the internet age. I know that conversations and attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter.

But this was less about the words she didn’t say and more about the interaction that she failed to receive or give. There was a dead look in her eyes. A body language that screamed automaton and stale tone that made it seem as if what I said hadn’t even registered. Awkwardly, I began to adapt to her language, giving my order quickly and reaching for my debit card and showing her my method of payment. Waving it in the air, like I was giving sign language. And finally a response…

“Would you like whip cream with that?”

Hardly interaction. It was straight out of her employee training day. After I paid she went back to talking politely with her friend.

Point is this, she wasn’t having a bad day, I wasn’t rude, she wasn’t mute, she could speak with her friend just fine, she knew the rules of the employee/customer relationship but that’s the full extent of her knowledge of how to talk to strangers went.

No one knows how to talk to strangers anymore. Hell, we hardly know how to talk to people we know. And talking to the people we love is, for the most part, an exercise in frustration.

Think about the last time you had a wonderful talk with a stranger that wasn’t under the influence of something other than caffeine. If it was a month ago you are doing pretty good, a week ago and you might consider a run in politics.

And I don’t claim to be better at this whole deal than the lady at the coffee shop. I’m guilty too. I’ve been in a store line and a man or woman over 50 has made a quip about something or other and I awkwardly shrugged it off or attempted to give a response that gets muddled and turned into a coughing fit. And I almost never interact with strangers. But I do make exceptions for the people serving me or in the rare occasions that I serve others.

For this woman I believe it was more than an overall social deficiency that our culture is suffering from right now, I’ve narrowed it down to three things.

1. Paranoid culture

2. New global impacts on communication

3. Strict interpretation of the employee/customer relationship

Paranoid Culture

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports violent crime, murder, robbery, rape have all increased since 1960. In the case of violent crime it has increased dramatically (Peaking at 5 times as much in 1996 and as of 2005 it has still tripled). The world is a dangerous place to live and people have become more and more aware of this fact. It manifests itself in tangible ways, like increased non-hunting gun ownership, and also in unconscious ways, for example a fear of speaking with strangers.

But wait…taking a closer look at the stats, crime rates have decreased since the early eighties so this culture of paranoia can’t be explained on statistics alone. We have to look at how crime is perceived. Increased coverage of crime is apparent. Twenty four hour news networks devote hours to crime coverage and prevention. Dateline’s Chris Hansen has taken an active role in exposing child molestation. High profile murders and kidnappings are not only covered in full detail on these networks but trickle down to the 48 Hours and 60 Minutes of the world. If I watched this stuff regularly I would be afraid to leave the house. I don’t think there is a question that this affects the way we communicate with people we don’t know. Trust is hard to come by these days.

The paranoia is instilled in us at a very early age. What is one of the first thing you learn as a young child? Never, under any circumstances, talk to stranger, no exceptions. In many cases when the child grows up to be a young adult they aren’t told, “You can protect yourself now and you know which situations are dangerous and which are not, so don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation every once in a while.” Instead some people are growing up unconsciously frightened of everyone they don’t know and labeling everyone as a child rapist. And why not, its all over television.

What are the implications of this? It could have something to do with why crime rates are down. People are much more aware of crime these days and it can be argued that the paranoia culture has something to do. But I believe we have sacrificed too much of our trust in humanity. It has turned us into a fleshy version of the T-9000, immediately identifying people as threat or friend. In the case of our case study at the coffee shop, my conversation may be merely a matter of statistics. Interaction with me that rises above strict professionalism has more dangers than benefits.

New Technological Impacts on Communications

This one is an easy one to see and is talked about all the time. We are a techno-obsessed population able to throw our thoughts, voices, and minds to the far reaches of the Earth and back. The internet, cable television, and cell phones have revolutionized communication in ways we are only beginning to understand. I mean for God sakes your reading this piece of communication theory on the newest innovation in journalism, the blog.

Two ways I believe these technologies have affected our communication, that are relevant to this discussion, are that it has created value shifts in verbal versus virtual communication and that it encourages exclusivity and discourages outside intrusion.

Our cell phones and laptops have taken the load off of much of the verbal communication that burdened us down in previous decades. Some choose to text when calling is just as real a possibility, others result to email or MySpace posts knowing that they will see the person the next day. The overall effect is that we are beginning or already have devalued verbal communication. It’s simply not important enough. It certainly wasn’t to the woman at the register or she would have engaged me. Perhaps if I would have texted her KRZR I would have garnered a pleasantry

But that’s only if I had her phone number, which brings me to my second effect: exclusivity. Think about how selective we have become about who we communicate with. Before caller ID the only way to keep someone from communicate with you was to un hook your phone and blow up your mailbox. Then you would have been called a recluse and a weirdo, perhaps a Uni-bomber.

Now, we have buddy-lists that we can block others from accessing. We have friend lists and privacy settings built into our MySpace and Facebook pages. Caller ID standard on all cell phones allows us to miss any call we don’t want. And we have lists of names built into our phones that ensure that no one we don’t know can sneak through and speak with us. Most techno-savvy teenagers have a virtual gauntlet of measures in place to prevent strangers from contacting them. I have often tried to talk to someone my age or a little younger and gotten a “Wait, you’re talking to me and haven’t sent me a friend request yet. What are you thinking?” face.

This certainly has an advantage, in that it keeps us safe from those who would harm us. But we sometimes take it to a whole new level and it can affect the way we deal with people outside the techno-sphere. I believe this is what was going on between me and the woman at the register. I was not part of her club, her friend list. Thus I was more than a possible danger to her I was also unimportant in her universe. The friend she was talking to was obviously allowed in that circle.

The employee/customer relationship

I saved this baby for last because it has a little to do with both of the above points. In the global economy that we live in today customers are now seen as nothing more than a statistic, demographic, dollar bill, and potential devastating lawsuit to most companies. This is seen by the CEO all the way down to the smarmy white suit who comes to give a seminar on how not to burn people with coffee and how EXACTLY to speak to customers to avoid conflict.

We don’t live in the age of the “Mom and Pop” stores and if my coffee shop loses me as a customer they won’t sweat because they have a line of customers behind me who just want there damn coffee. This could be another article all-together but long story short if people see you as a dollar bill they will treat you as a dollar bill. It’s an attitude that seeps all the way down to the workers.

Businesses are also paranoid of being sued for any number of reasons and as such they will do anything to avoid conflict at all costs. Employees are forced into mindless seminars where they have to adhere to countless regulations and have there every word with the customer scripted. Try and throw off a McDonalds employee with a “Do you have children?” They will give you a frightened look, settle down, and calmly tell you about the new low-fat options they now offer. Strangers are a danger to many companies and they are treated as such.

The lady at the coffee shop didn’t know how to react to my simple greeting because it probably wasn’t addressed in her seminar on “Efficient Coffee Making and You.” She did know how to ask me for whip cream and if I had a discount card. I felt so special.

Conclusion

I’m no Marxist revolutionary screaming, "Down with technology! Down with the global economy and capitalism!” I love the internet, I own a cell phone, AIM, Facebook profile, and am considering getting a Blackberry. Technology is great. I watch MSNBC, CNN and Fox News and Dateline’s To Catch a Predator series is one of my favorite programs. But I also love human interaction and I’m still polite to friends and strangers alike. My point is not that we should, as a society or as individuals, give this stuff up. But I do believe that a lot of people aren’t aware of how it affects the way they speak to people. The more aware we are the more we keep what is human about us, the ability to adapt and interact with our environment. Let’s not all turn into automatons. Talk to a stranger every once in a while. Even if they look at you like you’re crazy and walk away, any interesting interaction will keep our mind, body and souls from completely shutting down.

Daily Recommendations: May 29, 2007

By Doug Branson

Television from across the pond
: The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is a hilarious series out of the UK about the goings on of three IT employees at Denim Industries. Mixing a blend of well executed site gags, ridiculous bits, and the quick wit that we have come to expect from British comedy, this 2006 show has almost completed it's second series. Try and track it down if you can, but if not NBC is bringing the series to the States as a mid-season replacement. It will star Joel McHale (The Soup) and Richard Ayodade, an original cast member from the UK version.

Books for History Buffs: "A Godly Hero: The Life of Williams Jennings Bryan" Michael Kazin
Bryan was the ultimate presidential almost ran. He was a "moral populist" a rare breed in politics then and basically extinct now. He sacrificed his entire career for his cemented principles, making him the Dr. Cox of his age. Kazin does a great job of not only showing us the finer points of the "Great Commoner" but also highlighting his demons. A must read.

More articles to come so stay tuned to the Daily Obsession!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Daily Flashback: Top 10 Songs that Ruled the World (1990-2000)

By Doug Branson

They ruled our world, they dominated our airwaves, and in their prime could have conceivably run for office and won. They were more than a sensation; they were an obsession. They are the songs that ruled our world.

Factors

1. How quotable is it?

You know you know every word to Living La Vida Loca. Admit It!!

2. How much was it overplayed?

You couldn’t turn on the radio for more than ten minutes without hearing this tune.

3. How much did it have to overcome to be popular?

These songs aren’t exactly Mozart or Beethoven but how much lyrical and rhythmic handicaps did the song overcome to still be a hit?

4. Intangibles

Making it on to a hit soundtrack or becoming a pop culture icon gets you extra points on this list.

5. Cultural effect

It isn’t always about being number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

10. "I Believe I Can Fly" R. Kelly

Reign: 1996 -1998

Why it ruled the world: 3 Grammys, listed in Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs, number 2 on the Billboard Hot One Hundred, number one in the UK, and it has been covered more times than we liked to share. But more important than all this, it was the biggest track on one of the greatest and memorable albums of the 1990’s: The Space Jam Soundtrack. Anything good enough to be a metaphor for MJ is good enough to rule the world.

Why it’s Tenth: While R. Kelly did inspire a generation to soar to new heights he would later go on to famously piss on that same generation, literally. Image problems have this song clinging to the bottom of the fiefdom.

9. "Gettin’ Jiggy With It" Will Smith

Reign: Spring to Summer of 1998 - 1999

Why it ruled the world: Good Lord, when your talking ruling the Nineties if you don’t include a Will Smith single you might as well burn the list. We could have put a number of songs in its place, Miami, Men in Black, Willenium, Wild Wild West…okay maybe not Wild Wild West. Point is “Getting’ Jiggy With It” is a symbol for the closest thing the Nineties had to a King of Pop.

Why it’s Ninth: This was his first hit single without DJ Jazzy Jeff producing. And while some may argue it was his best career move we can’t help but feel a little sorry for Jazz. For once it wasn’t Uncle Phil tossing him out the front door, it was his best friend.

8. "The Thong Song" Sisqo

Reign: Mid to Late 1999 into Early 2000.

Why it ruled the world: It was one of the last great rulers of the Nineties and while it didn’t really hit its stride until the new millennium we still thought it deserved to be on the list. It made wearing thongs not only acceptable outside of the bedroom it made middle and high school a completely different experience. For some unknown reason “The Thong Song” and the album itself became a make or break when it came to social status. Sisqo transcended black and white and taught us all a very valuable lesson: beautiful asses in skimpy thongs are colorblind. Whether you like it not “The Thong Song” reshaped our culture, our fashion, and helped a whole generation of middle to upper class white teenagers feel hip for a moment. For those reasons alone it ruled the world.

Why it’s Eighth: Sisqo has not been seen since. Any information on his whereabouts should be reported immediately.

7. "Living La Vida Loca" Ricky Martin

Reign: Late 1999

Why it ruled the world: Another late bloomer but it certainly took us out in style didn’t it. No Books-A-Million or Chili’s was safe from the rule of Ricky Martin’s ’99 hit. It’s catchy, exotic lyrics and sexy video made you really not want to believe anything you would hear about Ricky for the next couple of years. Number one in America for five weeks it not only made a superstar out of Martin but inspired a young William Hung to come out of his shell and finally pursue that music career that had alluded him so far.

Why it’s Seventh: It wasn’t attached to a movie like so many of the other songs on this list. A shame when you think about all the possibilities that Ricky Martin could have had on the big screen. Also, lyrics like “make you go insane” and “like a bullet to your brain” was almost self-prophesying.

6. "My Heart Will Go On" Celine Dion

Reign: Winter of 1997 - 1998

Why it ruled the world: It was the lead song to a movie that, if memory serves, did pretty well in theatres. It was ranked by United World Chart in 2007 as the 14th most successful song in music history. It made Celine Dion a mega-star. You simply could not escape this song or the movie. This heart wrenching ballad made even the strongest of men roll up their windows and crank up the Easy Listening station. And it arguably paved the way for other even sappier songs that were attached to tragedy movies. Any song that forces Aerosmith to make song for a movie about nuking a meteor did nothing short of rule the world.

Why it’s Sixth: It started out at the top of the list but as you will see it pales in comparison to the reigns of our to five. Sadly, this song went down with the Titanic. But not before raking in a lot of dough and sending Whitney Houston into a spiraling cocaine filled depression.

5. "Mmmbop" Hanson

Reign: 1996-1998

Why it ruled the world: Now we’re getting into the big boys. And no better place to start than boys who looked like girls. They made up a sound and turned it into a hit song about absolutely nothing. They started the bubblegum pop revolution that would continue into the millennium. It was number one in four different countries for several months and continues to be played today. Most importantly Hanson made a large group of male teenagers question their sexuality if only for a moment. You cringe when you hear it but you have to admit that we let it rule the world. MMMBop!!!

Why it’s Fifth: Unlike a lot of our contenders it couldn’t pull off a Grammy. If Homer Simpson gets a Grammy than this certainly should have. Unless the males on the voting committee were tricked into thinking they were attractive young females as well, that would make sense.

4. "All Star" Smash Mouth

Reign: 1999 and 2001

Why it ruled the world: You couldn’t escape this catchy tune in the summer of ’99 and how many movies was this song attached to? The answer, amazingly, is five. After hearing this song a million times in the Nineties we thought we had escaped the hole in the ozone layer once and for all. Instead this enormously annoying song re-appeared in 2001 on the soundtrack of the enormously annoying movie Shrek. If you didn’t own a radio and hated movies, don’t worry you probably saw this song performed live at the 1999 MLB All Star Game. Don’t like sports? It was also featured on the video game Donkey Konga 2. Blasting off into space to escape this song? Sorry, it was also the wake-up song on the space shuttle Discovery. Smash Mouth was the undisputed king of the late night talk show circuit, appearing on the Tonight Show a record four billion times. It even managed to get on a fake talk show, “The Larry Sanders Show.” Because of excellent managing, a TON of radio play time, and a Lazuras type recovery this song ruled the world. Let’s just hope it stays dead this time.

Why it’s Fourth: It cracks our top five because of its penetration of every conceivable market but it only reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 so it goes no further.

3. "Who Let The Dogs Out" Baha Men

Reign: The Year 2000

Why it ruled the world: Wow. Wow. Wow. No song on this list has the “Why did this song rule the world?” factor than this song. No other song had as much to overcome to be popular than this song. It truly is a masterpiece of marketing power and luck. It is the latest release of any of the songs on our list and it really did captivate a truly dumbed down society that was created before 9/11. The lyrics are atrocious and the beat is relatively simplistic. It makes Mambo No. 5 seem like Stairway to Heaven. Yet everyone from 6 to 60 wanted to hear this catchy tune. It was the age of the “Whassssup Guys,” it was a time where truly anything went with music. As long as it sold and caught on it held and the Baha Men held.

Why it’s Third: It wasn’t a huge hit and was the last to hold the throne. I refuse to believe that a song that consists mainly of a one word question could have the number one rule over the Nineties. But it did define our generation’s popular music and popular culture. We were Generation Y Not? and we got exactly what we deserved.

2. "Mambo No. 5" Lou Bega

Reign: 1999

Why it ruled the world: What was with 1999 and songs ruling the world? It was the end of a decade of ridiculous innocence after a decade of excess and no song represented that better than Mambo No. 5. It reached number 1 on the charts in the US, Australia, and the UK and stayed number 1 in France for a record 20 weeks. The song and its accompanying video swept the nation and eventually the entire continent of Europe. Everyone was reeling off the names of the women in Lou Bega’s life. Angela, Pamela, and Rita were just a few of the queens of a song that truly had the world ruling power that some of these songs are lacking in.

Why it’s Second: The scope of this song’s influence thrusts it into our top two but it was a remake of a song made in 1952 by Perez Prado. Plus, Lou kind of sold out by making remakes of the song for Disney and Warner Bros. For getting power hungry and outstaying his welcome Lou gets our number two spot.

1. "Macarena" Los Del Rios

Reign: 1995-1997

Why it ruled the world: The reason this list even exists is because of this song. The line at the beginning of the article “it is more than a sensation it is an obsession” was used to describe this song before the list was even thought about. A song that mainly consisted of lyrics in a non-English language spent 14 weeks atop the Billboard charts. It spawned a dance that is still being done on cruise ships around the world. It transcended music and radio overplay. By the time its reign was over this song made women and children weep and men gnash. It was number one on VH1’s list of one-hit wonders. Like “All-Star” no matter where you went you couldn’t escape this song: stadiums, grocery stores, clubs. I truly believe it was a few weeks away from becoming our new National Anthem. The singers weren’t attractive, the video was poorly done, and the song itself was mind numbing. But it captivated a nation with a booming economy and absolutely no worries in the world. If it were released today the world would have way too many other worries to even give this song another glance. But it came out at exactly the right time to absolutely, unquestionably, rule the world.

Why it’s First: Mambo No. 5 was arguably more musically successful but you can ask anyone on the street to do the Macarena and no matter where they are from or what language they speak they can do it, as long as they have no shame and a fetish for having things thrown at them in public. Not many people have any idea what to do with their bodies during Bega’s mega hit. This song has been inserted into the fabric of our culture. It is inseparable from the Nineties. And for a brief period in our history, sadly, it ruled the world.

Honorable Mention

"Believe" Cher

Any song off of Matchbox 20’s first album

"Smells Like Teen Spirit" Nirvana

"U Can’t Touch This" MC Hammer