Professional sports are a curious enterprise. People expending a lot of energy, emotion, and oftentimes money pulling for grown men, most of which are millionaires, to score points based for the most part on where they happened to grow up is kind of a silly idea when viewed from the outside in. But, I don’t care- sports are interesting, entertaining, and fun to invest in emotionally. Yes, even professional sports. There’s something to be said for seeing athletic competition at its highest level, and if it’s fun to participate in as a spectator too then I’m all for it.

Growing up in central Indiana I’ve had some interesting experiences following the pro teams nearby, at least once I got past the ‘front running little kid’ phase of my sports fan experience. I don’t really care much about major league baseball other than I generally wish the Cubs and the Reds well. The Colts are king around here right now, and I am enjoying it immensely. The NFL is a great league and having one of the elite teams is a great thing for a football fan especially now that they finally got over the hump, and I can’t wait for our season ticket spots to open up next year.

One thing I do have to cop to, which is true really mostly everywhere, is that I share a spot in the fan base with an extreme amount of bandwagoners. Of course, this holds true for almost any good team, but it seems like our ratio is much worse than other places like Green Bay, Cleveland, etc. The last Colts game I went to the fans started doing the wave when the offense was on the field. I get absolutely infuriated by our fans way too often.

Which brings me to the Pacers. I remember feeling the electricity around the state when those mid 90s playoff series were heating up. Reggie. Spike Lee. John Starks. The Dunkin’ Dutchman. Boom Baby. Indiana is ‘the home of basketball’ and no place rocked quite like Market Square Arena during the eastern conference finals. An elite team that always fell just short (sound familiar?) but that always had the support of a great fanbase. Getting edged out in game 7 of the 98 eastern finals in Jordan’s last Bulls year was a heartbreaker. But the team made the right moves and persevered until finally it looked poised for a championship run in the 2004-5 season.

Pretty much everybody knows what happened next.

What people don’t seem to remember is the stretch after the brawl how large crowds continued to show up while probably the least talented group of players in the league fought (not literally) through every game and still made the playoffs. But the damage was done. The brawl and the subsequent flip out of Artest put a stigma on the Pacers that sticks to this day and will continue for years. After the brawl was a few months old but still a major sports topic the word ‘thug’ started to pepper more and more conversations involving the Pacers. Reggie Miller retired. Jermaine O’Neal battled injuries. Jamaal Tinsley got a huge contract but struggled under Rick Carlisle. Stephen Jackson fired his gun in the air outside a strip club. Tinsley and Marquis Daniels got into an argument at a bar. The Colts continued to prosper, Conseco Fieldhouse attendance dropped.

Continued in part 2

Continued from Part 1

Enter 2007- the Pacers are a PR disaster, but they have a new coach who may be just the guy for the roster they have, and the guy with the system to really unleash the talent on the squad, and nearly every game is on tv. Ron Artest is long gone. Stephen Jackson is gone. Jamaal Tinsley is still here, and the fans are not happy about it. But, quietly the Pacers are quietly adjusting to the new system and Tinsley is the centerpiece of the team, playing up to his contract finally. Jermaine O’Neal’s purported unhappiness starts to disappear after he rests his knee for some games, and the momentum is building behind the positive play of the team, putting them maybe in position to win some fans back.

And then Tinsley, now a big leader on the team, decides to step out in the middle of a few days off to the wrong part of town. Goes with his brothers, a couple friends, and a pacers employee and Larry Bird’s friend (you think he’s not there to keep an eye on things?) to an R. Kelly Concert, watches the Mayweather – Hatton fight, and then makes the decision after midnight to head to a west 38th street club where the after party for the concert is being held. When word hits the Tinsley group that a fight broke out earlier, they leave immediately, but when they get back to their cars, some real thugs are waiting, and they want to party with the rich guys. When told they’re just heading home, said thugs are reported to have said ‘We’re going to party with you whether you like it or not.’ Words exchanged, high speed chase downtown, Larry Bird’s friend shot in the elbow. Everyone lucky to be alive.

In the aftermath, the fan base reaction has been mostly on the level of another club rio incident, when really the only thing Tinsley is guilty of is being out too late and at the wrong club. He and his group made every effort to avoid trouble, and yet is fired on by an assault rifle, but he’s ‘in trouble again’ and the fans around town who haven’t seen the turnaround this season and have their mind made up on the guy want him gone. Oh, and trade Jermaine while you’re at it! At the very least you probably won’t see any Pacers go anywhere remotely sketchy again soon, at least I hope not. For somebody who’s been won over by the team’s great effort and play on the floor, this is the most frustrating thing that can happen because it’ll keep people from tuning in to watch the turnaround. And Jamaal Tinsley did nothing illegal.

I guess all I can do is keep watching the games, and telling people how things are different this year. And watch as Jermaine O’Neal returns to form and looks like a happy player on the floor again now that he doesn’t have to carry the whole team on his back. Even Mike Dunleavy is putting up career numbers and looking like a solid player and I hated the guy last season. I guess Donnie Walsh was right to make the trade he did, the ingredients just needed a different chef. And did I mention the games are much more fun to watch now? Give it a shot former Pacer fan, tune into FSN, and read Indy Cornrows. Tonight you would’ve seen Troy Murphy get half punched in the face and also ejected, and watched the Pacers come from 16 down to winning convincingly. It’s hard not to be entertained by that.

I started typing this to contribute to the forum discussion, but it got really long so it’s now a blog.

Last night I got the opportunity to take in a preview screening of The Golden Compass. Since I’m a nerdy enough guy I don’t mind a good fantasy movie here and there. Initially I was lukewarm on the movie (may have had something to do with having to sit in the front row).

After a day to think about it I’ve come around quite a bit on this movie. My major gripe with it is the pacing was way too fast, and a lot of major plot points and settings were packed in together, but it’s very difficult to introduce and frame an entire fantasy world in less than 2 hours. I think it would have been better off with an additional 30 minutes to let things breathe a bit.

Part of the problem is that Peter Jackson set the bar too high with the Lord of the Rings movies, but The Golden Compass seems to stand on its own pretty well. The special effects and art direction are unique enough from typical fantasy, leaving the theater we had a discussion about how the aesthetic is reminiscent of the game Final Fantasy III on Super Nintendo if you remember that sort of thing. The Industrial Revolution type fantastical technology meets magic and monsters sort of vibe is a nice change of pace.

Overall I did enjoy this movie and taking a step back from the ending and realizing that there definitely are going to be a couple more movies it works pretty well. They really were heavy handed about wrapping it up there, and there is a pretty neat battle towards the end, despite the couple of GIANT AWESOME BEAR OUT OF EFFING NOWHERE moments. Can’t help but smile at those though.

Casting was great, the girl who plays Lyra was good for the role, Nicole Kidman is great as the creepy Mrs. Coulter, Ian McKellen was a good choice for the voice of Ioric the bear, and we’ll see how Daniel Craig does more in the next couple of movies I’m guessing. Even though she’s not as ridiculously attractive as she was opposite the aforementioned Craig in the last Bond movie, I liked Eva Green as the prominent witch character. Last but certainly not least, I think Sam Elliot plays pretty much the same role in every movie, but I love it every time he’s on screen, and his ‘daemon’ was perfect.

Overall, I’ll give the movie 3.75 out of 5 fountain cokes, to Fellowship of the Ring’s 5 out of 5. Definitely worth seeing if you’re able to enjoy fantasy kinds of movies. I still haven’t seen Chronicles of Narnia, I probably should get on that.

SCANDAL RELATED Postscript: After seeing the movie and then reading about the ‘Controversy’ surrounding it, it all seemed pretty silly to me. I haven’t read the series of books that this movie started the adaptations to. Evidently they’re known for their themes against ‘organized religion,’ but in the movie they’re really toned down. If anything it’s more anti-authority than anti-religion, on a level similar to the Star Wars trilogy (IV-VI anyway). The “Magisterium” in the books is supposed to evoke a church similar to the old church of rome that has strayed from its roots and now seeks to control everyone rather than enlighten them. Kinda Paradise Lost-lite themes of free will in there, but really I don’t see what the fuss is about other than they use the word heresy a few times.

Last I checked Christianity did go similarly astray from its roots there in the middle ages, even I received the smoothed over version of those events in Catholic school. There were reasons for the clash between the Franciscan and Benedictine schools of thought, and reasons that Martin Luther went redecorating, and reasons there was a counter-reformation that got things started back on the right track. Obviously things never got even close to as bad as they do with “The Magisterium.” But if you’re really getting that upset over the comparison then I’m not sure what to tell you, read a history book. But this sort of stuff is really harmless and in no way attacks anybody’s faith. Most dystopias are pretty outrageous but still plausible intentionally so as to remind people not to let things even get half as out of hand.

Copy paste from the other blog, slightly longer and heavier subject matter this time. Whoa, Doc!
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Last weekend I was involved in one of those late night philosophical conversations that pop up occasionally, this one involved the subject of having a passion in life and what exactly that means. As a result of this conversation I realized that I don’t really have a capital P level ‘Passion’ as most people define it, and I also realized I’m perfectly fine with that.

Part of the discussion revolved around how my friend and bandmate’s one driving focus is music- it’s all he wants to do with his life and monopolizes most of what he’s thinking about, and my drive in no single area is anywhere near as strong as that. There was some discussion of ‘passion envy,’ and while I do admire that sort of singular drive, and recognize that it’s responsible for the great art that I love so very much, I don’t necessarily wish I had it.

I love to play music, and I’d like to get much better at both playing and writing and learning new instruments, but barring a life crisis or some huge shift of luck it will probably remain a hobby I spend an unusual amount of time and money on. In a way, I’m patterned after Sponge from Salute Your Shorts. I love to read and absorb as much information as possible on every possible subject- music, current events, politics, science, technology, literature, stupid trivia, everything. Like Depeche Mode, I just can’t get enough.

If anything I don’t have a ‘Passion’ because my passion is spread too thin across too many pursuits, but I like it that way. I love to write even though most of my writing is on this blog that probably gets just a few readers. I love to try and get back into shape even though the past couple years have shown that I’m not very successful at it. I will keep slogging my increasingly bad knees to the gym at irregular intervals. I do have the ability to focus intently on a pursuit, but I’m not as astute at honing that focus on more than one thing at a time. But, I think part of that reason is that my brain is always seeking that next new thing to whet its appetite, and I think for me that’ll do just fine. I’m happy enough being a jack of all trades, close to a master of a few.

The other, intertwined subject of this conversation was how we as individuals are going to be remembered. Without a driving passion to create something truly great, how am I going to leave a legacy? I think every philosophy has something to lend to the idea of leaving something behind for those still on this mortal coil after someone is shuffled off of it, and I put a lot of credence in the idea of making a mark and being remembered. However, my thinking on this in the past few years seems to be influenced by two quotes, the first of which is from a speech by Carl Sagan in regards to this picture:

We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The second quote is one that one of my oldest friends likes to use that is actually old Honest Abe quoting an ancient eastern society, although Wikipedia says the origin is attributed in a few different places:

It is said an eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him with the words, ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

Both of these statements have shaped my personal belief that eventually the greatest accomplishments in this lifetime will be swept away, but if anything that drives me to try and accumulate the knowledge and create whatever creative works I can and share them with people I care about while I’ve got my shot.

I know many people will draw many different conclusions from that sort of an idea and I’m also aware it’s nothing revolutionary in a theological or philosophical sense, but it gives me a bit of direction. I am extraordinarily thankful for the creative geniuses, a couple of whom I’ve written about in previous entries, who often destroy themselves under the weight of their own passion for their art or their science- without them there would be much less love to spread around.

In the end I realized my goal is to end up as a less literal, somewhat higher-brow version of Earl Hickey. I’ve got a quite a ways to go, but I suppose that can be my ‘Passion.’ Given how things have been going recently for me, I need to be a bit more proactive, but personally I think it’s good to take stock of that personal philosophy occasionally and get re-centered.

Foreword:

I’ve given up on linking to my blogs from blogspot, I’ll just paste them in here along with any additional minutiae of my life posts that I want to keep off my ‘writing’ blog. I’ll save the 2 people who read this one click! Hooray! On to your regularly scheduled blog:

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One of my favorite little things about music is certain songs or albums seem intertwined with certain events or time periods in the past. I tend to listen to music in full album form rather than individual songs so for me this makes certain albums seem much better than they are, and other really great albums get tainted (although a couple albums I really liked have risen above this).

For the most part when this happens, various albums just evoke certain memories without affecting my thoughts on the music. Every time I hear any track off of Led Zeppelin IV I get a very vivid mental image of riding a school bus to a cross country meet. Maybe the fact that this record singlehandedly spurred my ‘good music’ awakening implanted that experience into my brain.

The White Stripes’ Elephant and Queens of the Stone Age’s Rated R transplant me into the mostly empty apartment Justin and I lived in off campus over the summer at Purdue. Blind Melon’s first record and the first Hootie cd take me to the balcony of that same apartment earlier in the year sitting and bullshitting with Cole and Justin Karr, but there doesn’t seem to be a real pattern into what ties a specific piece of music in with any specific memory or timeframe.

Oddly enough, my favorite instance of this involves an album that I listened to incessantly during one of the most emotional and depressing times of my life. I was mostly lonely with most of my friends having moved away, and smack in the middle of a transition phase of my life- deciding where I was going post college and consumed with job interviews and final projects. I was in the process of dealing with a genuine heartbreak and in complete denial that I was suffering from any such thing, and maybe that’s what helped The Wrens’ The Meadowlands become the album that evokes the fall of 2005 more vividly than most other musical memories.

The Meadowlands is a slightly noisy indie rock record made up mainly of retrospectives on many topics, but like most of the very best and worst music, relationships are the main subject. I listened to the first two tracks of this album on my shower cd player nearly every day for a couple of months, and given the subject matter puts me in probably one of my all time great emo states of mind. She Sends Kisses is a track that could probably compete to be in my top five favorite songs. The Boy is Exhausted and Faster Gun are great upbeat tracks, and Ex-Girl Collection and Everyone Chooses Sides have titles that can tell you exactly what they’re about- but the lyrics are brilliant.

13 months in 6 minutes is also pretty self explanatory, but it tells a completely non unique story that is so vivid it brings to mind every relationship that started hot and flared out, or even had the possibility to do so. The last track is short, but sends such a piercing and emotional yelling note up your spine it’s one of my favorite 5 seconds in rock music, and definitely among the most bitter and sad.

The Meadowlands may have been written in the garden state and about a collection of experiences that occurred there, but every time I hear it I’m sitting in a threadbare apartment on Yeager Road feeling sorry for myself- and I always keep listening.

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I know this isn’t unique- does anybody else have a favorite song or record that reminds you of a certain time in your life, for better or worse?

Had a great weekend visiting Chicago, took in an excellent house party at a good friend’s place, enjoyed some great football, some great food (it’s hard to find good Thai food in the midwest except in Chitown), and some great inside jokes. Meanwhile I’m looking forward to getting back into an Indy state of mind this week and next weekend. Meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been writing about on the blogspot blog:

First, I muse on my recent iPod purchase and my feelings on said purchase. Also sort of a mini review of the new iPod Classic.

Next, I attempt to put into words my feelings on my favorite record of all time, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over The Sea

Last, I detail my past and continuing experiences as a novice Guitar Hero player. Hope to see more people joining us at half time of Mojo Night Football as the season progresses.

Go Horse!

As the inimitable Hup has suggested I’m going to update this blog with what’s going on with my fancy pants other blog.

The goal for my blogspot page since I started it recently was to cover a variety of topics that are interesting to me, and I’ve been preoccupied mostly with music in my spare time.

In Melonhead I talk about my all time favorite band deciding to reunite without the heart and soul of the old band, Indiana’s own Shannon Hoon.

In this cat is a landmine I do a bit of proselytizing for my favorite instrumental band with odd song titles.

In what was a pretty crazy weekend involving a double birthday celebration a fantasy draft, and a lot of drunken couch sleeping I managed to survive even after very briefly sideswiping some of the mojo people at Pepper’s on Saturday night. Hopefully I can make it out for a more direct involvement in such shenanigans soon enough.

My name is Craig, I’m from the internet.

All tongue in cheek Magritte references aside, I probably won’t update this guy much except about any indymojo or small nightlife related minutiae I run into. Everything else will be posted in my pre-existing blogspot blog or on my band’s Myspace page. Please check both of them out if you have some spare time. This is a neat little community that has potential and I hope I can contribute as well as meet some new people to interact with.