The Browns Improving

I don't think I am going out on a limb by saying that this team is already better than it was all last season. Yesterday, new Browns coach, Romeo Crennel cut Jeff Garcia who probably isn't as bad as he was last season. It was just a bad fit and an experiment that didn't work. On top of that, Cleveland didn't need his wacky Playmate love triangles. Maybe after Terrell Owens called him gay he had something to prove, but making an ass out of yourself in a Cleveland court room with two chicks isn't the answer.

Crennel also kept Terry Robiskie onboard, which is a good move in terms of keeping the players from jumping ship. This team wasn't winning or anything, but they actually seemed like they wanted to play when Robiskie became their coach. When Butch Davis was still here, they had one leg overboard. I try not to defend the players quitting when they make that amount of money, but apparently Butch Davis was almost that bad as a coach.

The state of the union is thus. The Browns still have a couple of decent running back options, in Lee Suggs and Mean Willie Green. They have a few solid receivers now that Quincy Morgan is gone. They have a tight end who everyone was excited about until he got hurt in Kellen Winslow Jr. The Browns also have a defense that is more than serviceable. We will see what Crennel and GM Phil Savage decide to do with Gerard "Small Change" Warren and Courtney "Overcast Skies" Brown.

I guess that just leaves one little piece (or giant hole) called the offensive line. They just named an offensive line coach. Now all we need are a couple of players who won't get our eventual quarterback killed.

This is optimism folks. Really. It is.

CD Review: Finch

Finch is a band that is tough to figure out in hindsight. I liked their last album "What It is to Burn" but only to a point. The chaturbate songs are never bad, but never outstanding either, with a few exceptions like the title track. On top of that, the style of screaming/singing emo/screamo or whatever you want to call it had become quite tired and formulaic by the time their album was hitting it big. With that in mind, I was curious to see what the band would do on their upcoming release.

It is a pleasant surprise so far. They haven't abandoned any parts of what they did to get them to where they are. They still have the same amount of passion, energy and some of the best technical ability of anybody playing in their genre. Now, in order to push the envelope, they seem to have embraced a little more of their ambition and really gone after something a little different.

The sound of "Say Hello to Sunshine" appears to be a matured version of their style. That isn't to say that the hooks and pop sensibilities are gone, but they are willing to push past the standard structures that make material in the emo/screamo genre so familiar and comfortable. For example, the band mentions Faith No More in its influences and that is readily apparent on this album.

But that isn't all of it. For example, on "A Piece of Mind" I hear some deceptively heavy and simple riffs that recall Helmet, although only for moments at a time. On "Ink" I hear a song that sounds like Finch, but it is more boisterous and full, like the kind of song that Incubus wishes they had written for their last album. It is just a great combination of syncopation and the kind of guitar riffage that would have an entire floor of bouncing.

That isn't to say there aren't some songs that fall below the mark. "A Man Alone" is an experiment into some weird kind of psycho-punk rockabilly. Can't fault them for originality, but it doesn't totally work for me.

But, I don't want to dwell too much on the negatives, because overall this is a very good jasminlive album. "Bitemarks and Bloodstains" is one of the highlights to be sure, along with the aforementioned "Ink" and "Revelation: Song" which sounds like a front-runner for a video on Much Music or MTV2.

So, if you are a fan of Finch, you should enjoy this album. If you are a bit tired of the screaming/singing formula that peppers too many albums then you will probably be ready to jump on the Finch bandwagon.

Purevolume advanced listen for "Brother Bleed Brother"

MTV Video for "What it is to Burn"

Friday Five - Thinking about Celebs

Friday Five - Thinkin about Celebs - If you want to participate, answer the questions on your own site, or in the comments. Just make sure you let me know where you answered them and link back to here. I miss the Friday Five sometimes, so here it is.

1. If you could find out that one celebrity wets the bed, and you get to inform the world, which celebrity would it be?

I would love it if Brendan Fraser wet the bed. Especially since he basically only makes movies now. George of the Jungle, Looney Toons Live in Action, etc. I thought Fraser was going to be one of the best (School Ties anyone?) but instead he has continually stunk. He might as well not have the ability to control his bladder like a school child.

2. You get to take over for one celebrity, thus making him/her disappear forever, because frankly, you can just do their job better than they can. Who would it be?

I don't even watch the show, but I am going with Ryan Seacrest from American Idol and that failed TRL ripoff that he tried to do. I don't have too many delusions about being able to do celeb jobs better than many of them, but I know damn well that this moron can't hold a candle to me in any department other than looking innocuous. If getting a show cancelled on The WB is part of the job description, I am a natural for this job.

3. If you could use a time machine to go and change one moment in celebrity (or a celebrity's) history what would it be?

I am going to go back and take all the drugs away from Chris Farley. I know that Belushi was first and everything, but Farley was my generation's Belushi and I want to see what he would have done, had he not O.D'd. Ok well maybe I will let him keep his bag of herb, but I am definitely taking the coke away from him.

4. Name one or more "celebrities" that are really non-celebrities in your mind, that you would like to ban from the front of all the lines at the jasminelive parties, because their "fame" shouldn't buy them a damn thing.

I really like That 70's Show, but I am going to have to go with Wilmer Valderama who plays Fez. This Zero goes to all the good parties. He ruins girls like Mandy Moore and Lindsay Lohan, and all he has ever done was rip off Balki Bartokomous from Perfect Strangers. If Cousin Larry can't be famous, then Balki can't be either. Those are just the rules.

5. Alright, one nice question. If you could take one marginal celeb and pump them up to full-blown bangin-in-Paris-with-Tom-Cruise famous, who would it be?

I am going to go with Kristin Kreuk who plays Lana Lang on Smallville. She is a complete over-actor on this melodramatic show, but I just can't stop watching. Plus there is something so exotic about the way she looks that I think she should be hugely famous kind of on the same path as a Catherine Zeta Jones before she became annoying with Cell Phone commercials.

Comedic Reverse Psychology

Sometimes bad comedy ends up being the funniest. You know if you take an easy (and normally unfunny) line and make a big deal about saying it with fake exuberance, it can be downright hilarious. It just depends on who is around and whether they get this form of comedic reverse psychology.

For example, we could be talking about getting a car back from the body shop and the conversation could go like this.

Person: "Well hopefully they don't run into any trouble."

Me: with fake exuberance "Running into TROUBLE, is what caused them to be there in the first place. Zing!"


At this point, trying to prove that I meant it to be cheesy and that the line wasn't supposed to REALLY be funny would do me no good.

Maybe the world is just too used to people grabbing lines like that and using them seriously.

Maybe I have the comedic timing of Sinbad.

Cleveland Scene vs. The Cleveland Bloggers

Apparently a lot of the bloggers around Cleveland didn't see the humor that was attempted by Cleveland Scene Magazine when they took some shots at local blogs in their acidic column "First Punch."

I feel to an extent that I am involved in this because I was one of the bloggers listed in the story. Sure, they even called me a bastard, but I thought it was funny. I had a couple people point it out to me and they were laughing. Then I read it and I was laughing. Isn't that what "First Punch" is all about?

Anyway, a lot of my fellow bloggers, many of whom I have met around town at various events, are really taking offense and felt the need to strike back. While I respect them, I don't think this is really all that big a deal. I know a lot of people put a whole lot more stock and usefulness into their blogs than I do, and I don't think those efforts should be negated.

George Nemeth does a good job of being the unofficial hub of Cleveland Blogging. He shouldn't have his efforts belittled and many other people with good intentions and good ideas should also not have their efforts belittled.

But, it just feels to me that this was more of a love tap than a "First Punch" to the face. Also, I would say that in a town with two entertainment weekly's and plenty of problems, that any efforts to try and create a larger community out of the disparate subsets that make up Cleveland can't be done with sniping from the various corners that we come from.

It was a joke. You don't have to think it is funny, but you don't do yourself any service by attempting to consolidate your voices against some great perceived evil.

I emphasize the word perceived. Any bashing of this town by writers at Scene magazine, I would venture to guess, comes out of the same frustrations that we all have with Cleveland. To deny those frustrations would be to deny conversations that we have all had when we have had these same conversations at Meetups.

You can't have your glass half full without theirs half empty.

So, if we know there is a fragmented community here in Cleveland, stop making it more fragmented.

I know they hit first, but I am sticking to my guns and saying that it was a joke, if poorly received by some.