Archive for February, 2012
Not only does the coach have to create strategies to effectively take on opponents, he also has to deal with tensions in his own locker room. The competitive nature of sports can spill off the field and cause friction between teammates. Big egos and the lust to be top dog can contribute to problems between members of the same squad.
Before a team even can face the challenges of the opposition they must first learn how to coexist with each other. This is the problem that the Ghana national soccer team is currently dealing with.
When it comes to problems within a sports team, often complaints have to do with disputes over playing time, player chemistry and overall morale of a team. But the situation the Ghana national team is dealing with is a bit more complicated. In a recent article on Foxsports.com, head coach Goran Stevanovic admits problems within his clubhouse can be credited to witchcraft.
The Ghana team, which has struggled as of late, finished a discouraging fourth place at the African continental championship. Coach Stevanovic gave his analysis of the poor performance saying, “We all need to help in changing some players’ mentality about using ‘black power’ to destroy themselves.”
Foxsports.com attempted to reach out to the Ghana Football Association for comments but it refused to directly acknowledge the issue. The GFA president would only say that it’s been noticed there seems to be divisions within the team. He particularly cites a split between the younger players and the veterans.
Though a problem like witchcraft is not common in American sports, inner team conflicts certainly are. For anyone who even loosely follows the NBA it is easy to remember the disaster the Los Angeles Lakers dealt with when the team featured both Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Though there was no dark magic thrown around, the feud did eventually end with an awful impromptu rap song from O’Neal. Bryant should consider himself lucky because Shaq has proven he is skilled in performing magic. The giant NBA star displayed this talent in the unforgettable film “Kazaam,” where he starred as a rapping genie who emerged from an old boom-box.
Shaquille O’Neal’s acting talents aside, the fact is the Ghana soccer team will have to get its house in order as it approaches the next competitive matches. The next World Cup is in 2014 in Brazil and having a team filled with players casting spells on one another is not a recipe for success.
So what is a coach to do when his locker room begins to look a lot like Hogwarts School of Wizardry? I think Coach Stevanovic will have to start laying down some rules about when it is acceptable to practice witchcraft. There also needs to be punishments put in place for players who chose to violate the set rules. Something like multiple game suspensions for turning a fellow player into a toad or using an invisibility spell to avoid a defenseman.
If Ghana can get it’s witchcraft problem under control, perhaps the team could use it to the players’ advantage. I know I would tune into all the team’s games if it meant their warm-up sessions involved penalty kick practice while flying on broomsticks. Also the team’s talents in witchcraft could make for some pretty intriguing halftime shows.
The problems may seem very steep now for the Ghana soccer team but to be successful team members need to look on the bright side. Maybe someday they will reach a place where the presence of witchcraft will be a positive. If Kobe Bryant could survive the attacks from a rapping genie, then I have faith that this team will be able to move beyond its troubles with dark magic and achieve success on the soccer field.
— Jordan O’Donnell
This year was the second go around celebrating “Fat Tuesday” at my family’s home. Mardi Gras concludes on this day followed by “Ash Wednesday,” which marks the beginning of Lent. “Fat Tuesday” has earned the badge as a major party day.
The events that go on at the O’Donnell house to recognize “Fat Tuesday” are far more subdued than ones that can be caught going on in New Orleans or St. Louis. Since last year, we have done some minor decorating and tried to finish the day with a cajun-inspired meal like Jambalya or Gumbo. This year we took it a step further by adding Mardi Gras masks and balloons to the festivities. The cornerstone of this attempt as a new family tradition is the custom of having a “King Cake.”
A “King Cake” is a large circular pastry that tastes similar to a cinnamon roll. It is decorated with icing and yellow, green and purple beads. What makes a “King Cake” special is that located somewhere inside the pastry is a small plastic figurine of baby Jesus. The custom says that whoever receives the piece of cake containing the figurine is responsible for throwing the party and buying the cake next year. For the second year in a row, there was no baby Jesus hiding inside.
The first year we got a cake and when there was no Jesus in it, it was rather funny. The lack of the figurine in the cake was something we could chalk up to a store error. We really didn’t grasp the concept of the custom too well, so it was easy to shrug off the snub. This year when the “King Cake” was placed at the table, we joked how ridiculous it would be if once again Jesus was absent from the cake. As it would turn out, that is exactly what happened. Eating the cake was canceled. The only mission was to rip the pastry to shreds in hopes to find the elusive Jesus. Twenty minutes and mounds of sticky, sweet cinnamon destruction later, the little plastic Savior was nowhere to be found.
I like the idea of the “King Cake,” but this one pastry is severely damaging the prospect of “Fat Tuesday” becoming a regular celebration around the O’Donnell house. Finding the baby Jesus in the cake is supposed to be the magical moment, but for two years I am left hollow. To me, the strange absence of Jesus from the cake is like watching the entire Thanksgiving day parade waiting for Santa at the end, only for it to conclude with a sub par marching band from Ohio. The promise of the man in red was made, but for no reason at all, he does not show up. Two “Fat Tuesdays” down and without any just cause, figurine Jesus has chose to stand me up. All I am left with on “Ash Wednesday” is icing still caked in the webbing of my fingers.
Despite all of this, I still feel that “Fat Tuesday” dinner is becoming a regular tradition for my family. As odd or eccentric as they can be, family traditions allow an opportunity to have fun with your loved ones and make a few memories. Hopefully by this time next year, my niece will be old enough to partake more in the “Fat Tuesday” festivities, including taking on the job of “King Cake” scavenger. Honestly, I cannot take a third year of a “King Cake” with no baby Jesus, I might have a mental break.
Starbucks has been promoting a new special blend of coffee. The name of the roast is “Blonde” and is described by the Seattle-based coffee chain’s website as having a “shorter roast time, lighter body and mellow flavors.” I have had this new coffee Starbucks is pushing and if by their description they really mean it is like drinking a steamy hot cup of air then they are dead on. I should not have been tricked into even trying the “Blonde Blend.” Throughout my lifetime I have had bad luck when it comes to anything blonde, it’s almost like I was cursed.
I had blonde hair when I was a little kid and I was adorable. I don’t brag on myself often, but looking back on pictures of my light-haired self wearing Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls, I am amazed. I seriously should have been in commercials. As I grew older, the blonde hair gave way to my now darker brown color. This has caused countless people who have seen pictures from my youth to look at me and ask “What happened?” The “blonde curse” struck me at a young age giving me an image I will never be able to live up to ever again.
While in college, I had a steady girlfriend for nearly two years. One summer, I took an internship in California and when I returned that fall I was surprised to find my once brunette partner had dyed her hair blonde. I tried to remain open-minded about the new hair do, but it was not long till the “blonde curse” reared it’s ugly head. The relationship quickly turned sour.
Bob Dylan’s album, “Blonde on Blonde,” served as the conclusion to his electric guitar-fueled rock trilogy, that also included “Bringing it all Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” Dylan choosing to name his album by that title may have brought on the “blonde curse.” In 1966, after touring for “Blonde on Blonde” Bob Dylan had an awful motorcycle accident. In his autobiography, “Chronicles, Volume 1,” he wrote, “I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race.” Following the
accident Dylan disappeared from the public eye for a while to then return with the acoustic record, “John Wesley Harding,” followed by the infamous album where he completely changed his singing voice “Nashville Skyline.” The “blonde curse” almost killed my favorite singer and severely altered his artistic production for several years.
Towards the end of my elementary school years, I made a horrible hairstyling decision. I had a procedure done to the tips of my hair referred to as “frosting.” The ends of my sandy brown hair were capped with a bright blonde color. This hair style went hand and hand with what I was going through at the time, what some call “my awkward stage.” I looked like a member of the worst boy band ever. The “blonde curse” spoiled every single family photo from that era.
I love Saturday afternoons. One of the primary reasons because of this is that cable usually is filled with quality movies I have not seen in years.
Lately, I have noticed there are several once reliable stations that have stopped showing the films I enjoy and seem to only play the Reese Witherspoon comedy “Legally Blonde.” I won’t trash the movie neccesarly, but I think it’s wrong when it shows up on several stations usually coupled with it’s sequel as a double feature. The “blonde curse” has struck my Saturday afternoons by finding a way to prevent epic films like “Predator” and “Die Hard” from getting any air time.
Some people avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, strolling in front of black cats, or passing underneath ladders. I need to learn that I need to steer clear of everything blonde. Starbucks may have managed to seduce me in with their new coffee beverage, but next time I will be sure to be more on my toes. I don’t know if the statement “Blondes have more fun” is true but what I do know as fact is that anything blonde sure seems to get delight in tormenting me.
In recent years, the sports world has seen the rise of the UFC as the primer fighting event. As boxing became bland and the audience dissipated, the UFC stepped in with an amped up take on hand-to-hand combat. The sport involves various types of fighting like martial arts, wrestling and boxing.
For those who had become bored with boxing, the UFC brought a more extreme take to satisfy an appetite for a new generation. Also, sports that are a part of the X-Games have also grown in popularity. BMX bikers and Skateboarders are now considered legitimate athletes. The rise of the X-Games and the UFC could be a sign that sporting audiences are seeking a more electrified take on sports.
If this is the case, then there is a sport slowly gathering attention around the Internet that could be the next be thing. Of course, this all depends on the fact that this sport is real and not a hoax. The name of this new extreme sporting competition is Ultimate Tazer Ball.
The game is a very simple one. The matches take place on an indoor soccer field pitting two teams of four players against one another. The game ball is a comically large soccer ball that rivals the size of the common beach ball. As the players try to score goals using their hands and their feet, they must avoid being shocked by a Tazer gun. Each of the players on the field are armed with one as a unique tool to play defense.
Ultimate Tazer Ball has an official website that features a video depicting a practice match. There are plenty of close up shots of the Tazer guns and the electric blue current that surges at their tip. The website also advertises the league currently has four squads. One of the teams is located in Toronto, Canada, were oddly enough Tazers cannot be acquired by civilians because they are considered dangerous weapons.
In an interview with CBC News Toronto, league creator Eric Prum is standing beside the idea this is no joke and Ultimate Tazer Ball is aiming to be the next big thing. According to the article, Prum claims the league will be launched with the help of the partnership with German businessman Erik Wunsch.
There has yet to be an official event, but the Ultimate Tazer Ball website claims the first is scheduled for early March. The location of this inaugural competition is no other than the setting of the film “The Hangover 2,” Bangkok, Thailand. If this event proves to be true and does actually occur, Ultimate Tazer Ball would fit in nicely with the rest of the craziness that apparently occurs in that place. Now, it is just time to wait and see if the UTB actually steps out and shows itself to the world. Till then I still have my suspicions.
For more information on Ultimate Tazer Ball, check out the website http://utblive.com/ . After taking a look, you decide if this crazy venture could be a potential legit sport or is it simply an elaborate Internet hoax.
I have never been a big follower of the string of talent search-themed reality shows.
I remember watching the first season of “American Idol,” but since that year, I haven’t paid any attention. Despite this, I have found myself intrigued by NBC’s answer to the singing competition titled “The Voice.” It is the concept of the show that I find fascinating.
“The Voice” features four major singing stars as coaches for teams of aspiring singers. In the opening round of the show the talent of the singers are judged solely on their singing talent. Appearance is somewhat taken out of the equation, because the celebrity coaches have their backs turned to the stage while they perform their opening numbers. Slowly, but surely, each celebrity coach’s team takes form as they make their selections.
This is a really interesting concept for drafting potential talent. In a perfect world, one would like to think looks don’t matter, but especially in the music business, image is an essential aspect of making a mark. There have been some surprises throughout the show’s first season and already now in its second year. What has proved to ultimately overpower the high concept, is the almost creepy nature of the coaches. Each episode seems to become increasingly filled with awkward moments.
The first coach is Maroon 5′s lead-singer Adam Levine. He checks in on the awkward list due to the fact that he can’t seem to let go of the fact that one of his singers was the winner of season one. An occasional mention here in there would be fine, but it seems that is his defense for any argument between himself and his fellow judges. I think this shows the true nature of “The Voice.” The actual contestants are only background players, because the show is much more about promoting the personalities and projects of the judges.
Pop star Christina Aguilera serves as the lone female judge. She may have important, witty advice for the contestants, but who would ever know. It becomes impossible to listen to her, because she seems to be trying to revive the “Xtina” moniker she sported during her “Dirrty” stage of her career with her gestures. Promoting herself in that fashion just seems unnatural and forced now from her occasionally referring to herself by the nickname and showing it on the rings on her fingers that spell it out.
The king of awkward on the show is eccentric crooner Cee Lo Green. Judging by the first two episodes of this season, it seems like he is less concerned with putting together a talented team and more occupied with hitting on the contestants. Then Cee Lo kicks the weirdness into high gear during interview segments. For some reason he finds it necessary to discuss the show while stroking a large, fluffy white cat. It’s almost like he is doing his best to channel a James Bond villain of some sort. Why producers allow Cee Lo to bring his feline to the studio has me bewildered.
The final celebrity coach is country star Blake Shelton. Before the show’s premiere he was probably more famous for being married to spitfire Miranda Lambert. It seems there are moments when Blake himself is confused by what he is doing on the show. He has yet to establish a consistent attitude or direction on the show. It seems one week he is trying to snatch up one type of artist, then the next he has completely changed his tune as to what he wants. Also, because he is a physically imposing force as well over six and half feet tall, I think he scares some contestants. Then there is the fact that he spends more time bickering with his fellow coaches than actually judging the talent.
Whatever my impressions of the coaches may be, “The Voice” is proving to be a solid success for NBC. In the end, it does not matter if the eventual winner goes onto big things or not, because the viewership for the show itself is there. So as I continue to scratch my head at the odd tension between Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera or the repeated shots of Cee Lo Green ominously stroking a kitty, I cannot argue that this singing competition has most certainly found it’s voice and should not be regarded as an “American Idol” ripoff.
Chances are that if there is a new horror movie out in theaters I will be at it. Recently I ventured out to my local film house to take in the flick “The Woman In Black.” This frightening picture stars Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe.
All the reviews I read about “The Woman In Black” reference how it was an old-style horror movie. Without spoiling anything, I can assure you that there are plenty of frights in this movie without buying into the recent moves of horror made by films like the “Saw” franchise. Since the movie centers around ghostly apparitions, there are plenty of opportunities haunt the audience.
The vengeful woman in black makes appearances in fun ways like appearing in reflections. The ghostly antagonist rears her sinister head through reflections in mirrors, windows and even through rain water. These are classic scary movie devices to reveal the cause of the horror, but does it really translate to our modern age. “The Woman in Black” takes place roughly around the early 20th century, when seeing a car was a huge rarity so the reveals work here.
Maybe a few contemporary ways to scare would work better:
• I spend the majority of my free time in the evenings messing around on my iPad. The device basically has become an extension of my hand. I can spend hours toggling through the Apple made tablet with a few swipes of my finger. Something that that would send shivers down my spine, would be if late one night I saw a ghostly reflection of a woman’s face on the screen of my beloved iPad. I would probably have to put the tablet away for good and switch back to my iPhone to download the latest Black Eyed Peas song. Maybe the smaller screen would prevent any risk of seeing the reflection of ghosts peering over my shoulder.
• There are some who consider the size of the “rims” on a car to be a status symbol. I have never fully understood this notion, but I do get that apparently 20 inches seems to be pretty awesome. Also, I have noticed at several stop lights some people have ones that actually spin while the car is in idle. With the size and shine of these “rims” they become a perfect portal for ghosts to contact us. A young aspiring rapper would never be the same if he came to his SUV to find ghostly messages written around the “rims.”
• In restaurants and shopping malls, I have started to notice a lot of kids walking around with their eyes glued to their handheld gaming systems. I was once told by one young boy who was quizzing me about my job that if I ever made a lot of money I needed to get one of these gaming things. I still do not have one myself, but I can see why they are popular. I also think they are perfect devices for ghosts to give the kiddies a bit of scare. As they are glued to the screen on the final level of a hard game, it would be appropriate for a ghost to appear on the screen. After viewing something like that, truck loads of kids around this nation would finally stop running into people because their head is constantly down focused on Mario Kart.
• No one would really like to admit it but a national hobby for many of us has become Facebook stalking. For those of you who want to pretend like you do not know what this means, this hobby involves cruising through Facebook for hours going through friends, ex-spouses and family members profiles. There are varying degrees of Facebook stalking, but that’s a whole other blog together. The Facebook stalker would never be the same if while they were going through a despised ex’s profile, they suddenly see a shape move behind them in the reflection of their laptop monitor.
• A popular fashion trend is wearing thick, black-rimmed glasses. I rocked a pair for several years until I went to a coffee shop and noticed every male around my age was donning the exact same glasses. This optical fashion movement could also be invaded by ghosts. A cute hipster couple looks longingly into one another’s eyes after a Death Cab For Cutie concert and as the young girl leans in to give her man a kiss, she catches the glimpse of a shrieking demon in his glasses. The horror is enough to scare the ironic t-shirt off one of those hip kids.
• The wonders of having a DVR system still manage to excite me. Though I am not an expert at learning, I know I am in complete control of what gets recorded and what does not. It’s this notion that I feel the ghostly possession of a DVR system is in order for cinematic light. Imagine the torment of someone plagued by a ghost sabotaging their programming. All this person wants is to record this week’s episode of “Law and Order” but instead they are besieged by back episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Glee.” The very thought is bone chilling.
“The Woman in Black” was a peculiar movie but it did feature some thrilling frights. Nevertheless, I think it’s time to update how ghosts find a way to reveal themselves. I will forever remember being shaken to my core when first seeing the original “Halloween” and Jamie Lee Curtis sees the murderous Michael Myers standing between the clothes lines in her backyard during the daytime. My mind was blown, because I thought scary things should only happen at night. In our world of advanced technology there are many ways for ghosts to make their presence known. So in a message to directors, filmmakers, screenwriters, and storytellers alike I ask you to consider invading the comforts of this new world many of us hold so dear.
— Jordan O’Donnell
I consider the Super Bowl to be like the deadbeat, black sheep brother of Thanksgiving. Much like the Turkey holiday on “Super Sunday” people get together to share mass quantities of food, beverage and watch football. The Super Bowl manages to include all the elements of Thanksgiving but maintains a more causal feel.
One popular aspect of Super Bowl Sunday that even non-fans of sports tend to enjoy is the commercials that air during the game. Companies fork over big bucks to get their commercials air time during the most watched sporting event of the year. These companies put extra muscle behind the creative presentation of these spots. A well made or funny commercial can equal big revenue for companies.
In the days and weeks following the Super Bowl people from different media venues concentrate on what ads were a success. It is these analysts who try to determine how effective was the ad, was it entertaining, did people strongly dislike it and did it just fall flat with a bland message.
An interesting thing I’ve noticed in how I took in the ads this year is that for me they served as an educational tool. The sometimes silly Super Bowl ads taught me a lot about my fellow humans and myself. After reviewing lists of ads picking which were hits and misses it becomes a quite telling examination of us a people on earth in 2012.
Ads from Doritos, Careerbuilder.com and Volkswagon earned high marks from the USA Today Admeter. These ads nail home the fact that people love silly dogs, babies and monkeys wearing human clothes. These commercials all bought into old adages that have seemed to grab the attention across a wide demographic. Super intelligent dogs outsmarting their human counterparts can be traced back to black and white television with Lasse. Almost every year there is a few comedies centering around babies performing feats that if you tried to recreate at home with your infant Child Services would be called pretty fast. Finally there is the long standing idea, that if you have a monkey performing everyday human tasks like going to work, smoking, tying a tie, then you will be sure to have an audience in tears from laughter. Evolution has not brought the human race past the fact that we will sit in front of the TV and laugh wildly at a monkey in a suit and turn to a friend to exclaim “Look that silly monkey thinks he is a human.”
The next lesson learned from the 2012 Super Bowl ads is Clint Eastwood will forever be crazily intense. It does not matter if he is playing Dirty Harry or discussing the auto industry in a simple ad, the aging actor always seems posed to knock some one’s teeth in. With his face looking like it was roughly carved out of granite and a voice that sounds like an old growling animal, Eastwood made many take notice with his ad this year according to the USA Today Admeter.
Its official, I am tired of every single Insurance company commercial. Its because of this, I think there needs to finally be a street fight between the three major companies pitch people. Its time for either Flo from Progressive, Mayhem from Allstate, or that irritating Gecko from Geico to finally go. These ads have just grown incredibly stale and all the concepts have been worn out.
Also, there needs to be national mandate issued that if Budweiser is to run Super Bowl ads, then they have to have atleast one that features the famous clydesdales. When there is no spot featuring the iconic horses galloping in the snow or on a sunny day, I feel like I’ve been ripped off.
Another thing is, I’ve come to firmly believe that when I am old and gray and cooped up in my nursing home, I will still be seeing Coke commercials featuring those adorable cartoon polar bears. The long running ad campaign was back again this year. These spots were running when I was a little kid and will still be airing on a TV somewhere during my funeral.
I owe a huge thank you to Dannon yogurt and their commercial. Just when I was starting to really worry, I was filled with reassurance on Sunday that John Stamos is not dead. Thank you.
Overall, this year I can say I enjoyed the selection of commercials from the Super Bowl. Not only was I entertained I felt I left with new found knowledge. I cannot say I was encouraged to acquire any of the products advertised but I enjoyed the entertainment provided. My analysis of the commercials this year did leave me with one problem. I was so busy taking in all my revelations and making notes I forgot to watch the stupid game. I still am not sure who won, it was the blue team right?