3.31.2008

FREE UFC EVENT - LIVE ON SPIKE TV

Just wanted to let you all know that if you're wondering what all this UFC stuff is that I keep writing about, there is going to be a UFC Fight Night, live, free (as opposed to pay-per-view) on Spike TV, this Wednesday, April 2, from 7-10 pm, Eastern Time. It's going to be a great card - and since I have endless amounts of blog space, I'll probably post my picks as to who will win all the matches sometime before the fights start on Wednesday.

- Preview

And here is the rest of it.
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State of the U[fc]NION (#2)(Part 1)

For this article, I’ll be taking a look at the welterweight division, as suggested to me by my friend Puddin’…..who for now will be referred to as Puddin’, until he gives me another name to call him.

Anywho, the welterweight division article will not be nearly as focused on one person as the Middleweight division because there are much more contenders, as opposed to the Middleweight division, in which you pretty much have Anderson Silva.

However, because of the large number of contenders and standouts in the division, so as not to make this article 100 pages long, I’m going to split it into two parts which will cover the fighters below, either listed under “Part 1” or “Part 2”. I know, my organizational ideas are genius, and original – feel free to use them yourself. (Also, aside from my personal knowledge on the subject, the rest of my info comes from my favorite, Wikipedia, mmajunkie.com and sherdog.com – both are very comprehensive MMA sites.)

THE LIST:

PART 1
Matt Serra (current Champion)
Georges St. Pierre (interim Champion)
Matt Hughes
Marcus Davis
Mick Swick
Josh Burkman
Karo Parisyan
Jon Fitch

PART 2
Josh Koscheck
Diego Sanchez
Dustin Hazelett
Luigi Fioravanti
Luke Cummo
Chris Lytle
Thiago Alves
Tommy Speer/Anthony Johnson


First, a clarification – the Welterweight division of the UFC is made up of fighters who, on weigh-in day, weigh in at no more than 170-171 pounds (one pound for possible scale error), and no less than 156 pounds. (For last time – Middleweight fighters can weigh in at no more than 185-186 and no less than 171.) However, even though these guys weigh in at 170, if you were to weigh them during their time off, you might find some of these guys weighed as much as 190-200 pounds. Nearly every fighter “cuts weight” before a fight. Initially, this starts with a restricted diet, generally about two months or more out from a fight. This diet is restricted more and more until a fighter is anywhere from 5-10 pounds above their fight weight. Then, on weigh-in day, a fighter will truly “cut weight” by not eating or drinking anything, running or doing other exercise a lot, or just sitting in a sauna under 3 or 4 layers of clothes. This allows them to purge themselves of water-weight, and get down to the fighting weight. FYI, the weigh-ins are the day before the fights, so after the weigh-ins, the fighters will generally start slowly drinking water again, and eating, to get their weight back up. So even if a welterweight fighter weighs in at 170, if you were to weigh him right before the fight, it would probably be closer to 180-185.

Weight cutting is a source of controversy among fight fans and critics, in that it can have very harmful side effects (because fluctuating your weight so drastically can throw off your electrolytes, among other things), but also because the fighters weigh in the day before the fight, so in reality, they have the ability to gain as much weight as they want in the 24 hours before the fight. Now, many fighters have had problems cutting weight, and this can obviously lead to decreased performance because of dehydration or sheer exhaustion….but on to the welterweights….

I’d like to start the actual fighter section with a brief discussion of the former Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes. Now, while Hughes (41-6) may be past his prime in the UFC, he is still a legitimate contender. Hughes is a country boy, now fighting out of Hillsboro, Illinois, from his new gym, Hughes Intensive Training (H.I.T.) even though he trained, until recently, with the famed Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf, Iowa. Dana White, President of the UFC, often refers to Matt Hughes as (much to my grammatical ire) “The greatest welterweight of all times.” (I wish, just once, he would say “all time” instead of “all times”, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.)

Hughes is a two-time UFC WW Champion, and he had 8 successful title defenses (for more info on his fights, feel free to check out http://www.sherdog.com – another great MMA source).

During his reign, Hughes took out great fighters such as Carlos Newton (2x), Hayato Sakurai, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg (2x), Georges St. Pierre (GSP), Chris Lytle, current UFC Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn, and MMA Legend Royce Gracie.

However, Hughes lost his title to GSP (15-2) via TKO at UFC 65, and then lost an interim title match to GSP via verbal submission at UFC 79.

Now, you may be asking why I’m spending so much time on Hughes when he’s not even Champion anymore. It’s because Hughes, as of now, probably is the greatest WW of all “times” and he set a high standard the WW fighters of today have to live up to. Even though Hughes has two losses to GSP now, I’d be willing to bet he could still take out most of the people on that list above, with very few problems. He has incredible strength for his size, his wrestling is great, and he has experience far beyond anyone else on that list.

However, because I don’t think Hughes will be having another fight in the UFC anytime soon, let’s move on to everybody else on the list, most of whom will be fighting within the next couple of months, or just fought within the last couple of months.

First, the current Champion, Matt “The Terror” Serra (although the way he says it with his New York accent, it’s more like, “The Terra”). Serra is 9-4, and were it not for “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, he likely would not have gotten another shot at the title. However, after winning the competition on the show, he received a shot at GSP, who was facing his first title defense after defeating Hughes the first time. Serra TKO’d GSP in the fourth minute of the first round. He caught him with a couple good punches, and then when GSP faltered, Serra pounced and landed a flurry of punches before the referee stopped the fight.

Here’s the thing – almost nobody expected Serra to win that fight. GSP had just TKO’d Matt Hughes and taken the title, and in that fight GSP, only 25 at the time, seemed like the heir apparent to take over the title of greatest WW of all time. Serra had just come off winning a shot at the title from winning on the reality show, and many people thought he would have not been seen again in the UFC were it not for that. GSP choked in his first title defense – choked hard. Maybe it was because it was his first title defense, maybe it was because Serra was more experienced having been in the fight game longer – regardless, GSP wasn’t totally focused, and he paid for it.

GSP and Serra were scheduled to rematch in late 2007, but Serra had to pull out of the fight with a back injury, so Hughes got another shot at GSP for the Interim WW Title, with the winner to face Serra later.

By the way, for those of you who may not be familiar with combat sports, or the terms “interim title” or “interim champion”, it is just what it sounds like. When the true champion becomes unavailable, be it injuries, legal issues or whatever, depending on how long things will take, the execs sometimes decide to name the interim champion, so as to designate a clear number-one contender that the other fighters know they will have to beat to get to the champ, but also to continue to draw bigger numbers for Pay-Per-View Events and things like that. Even “Interim Title Fight” sounds better than just “Welterweight Fight”, and thus draws in more fans.

Back to the Interim title match – many fans and critics wondered how quickly GSP would bounce back from his loss to Serra. Serra was a guy that most people would have picked GSP to walk through, and yet he got TKO’d. Now we were all wondering if something similar was going to happen in his match with Hughes, because GSP wasn’t totally focused when he fought Hughes the first time, and he lost by submission in the first round.

There was no choking this time. GSP basically dominated the first two rounds, and at the end of the second round got Hughes in an armbar and cranked Hughes’ arm so fast that Hughes didn’t even had time to tap – he had to verbally submit. For a guy like Hughes, that’s worse than just tapping, because you actually have to vocalize the fact that you’re getting your ass kicked because you have no other way to save yourself.

Many critics and fans consider GSP one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Winning or losing to Serra in their upcoming match will either solidify that label, or GSP is going to get knocked down a few rungs on the fight ladder. Even though GSP has fought (and beat) other great fighters such as Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Josh Koscheck, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Frank Trigg, and Karo Parisyan, I'm not going to go back and rehash all of that, because it is this upcoming fight that is going to define GSP's career. I'm not trying to take anything away from Serra, because he is a solid fighter, but GSP is poised to take back his championship, and how he handles himself will determine how he is viewed for more than the next few fights. Even if GSP were to lose, he'd still be one of the top contenders, but NOT the Number One Contender, so he would have to work his way back up once again - and there are plenty of hungry guys who want their shot at the title and would be more than happy to fight GSP to get there.

So I'll leave it at that on GSP and Serra for now - I'll do an update just for them after their fight, because the end result will make for some interesting comments.

There are more than a few left, so we’re moving on.

Marcus “The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis (14-3). I love this guy. Davis started his UFC career as a fighter on season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter. Davis didn’t do great on the show, and my friend Puddin’ really rags on him (appropriately so) for blaming a loss on a shoulder injury after Davis stated before the fight that if he lost, there would be “no excuses.” Now, Davis alternates his time training with Jorge Gurgel’s team outside of Cincinnati, and with Sityodtong (muay thai kickboxing) out of Massachusetts However, from that point, Davis has been on a tear. After losing to Melvin Guillard (via TKO due to a cut), Davis has won 11 fights in a row, 6 of them in the UFC. Davis is a former pro boxer who made a great transition into Mixed Martial Arts – and lately, he’s arguably been the most exciting UFC fighter in the welterweight division, if not one of the top two or three most exciting UFC fighters, period. The MMA site www.mmajunkie.com recently joked that if you’re a fighter on a card with Davis, you’re likely not going to get any of the bonuses.

Another quick explanation – the UFC gives out bonuses after each event for (1) Knockout of the Night, (2) Submission of the Night, and (3) Fight of the Night. Bonuses have ranged anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000, and this can be a huge payday for guys whose salary for a UFC fight would be somewhere between $8,000-$10,000, even with a win. Even the loser in the “Fight of the Night” gets a bonus for that. Granted, many of the bigger names do get higher salaries, but you have to be a champion, or former champ to command something over $40,000.

Regardless, Davis has recently been on a “bonus” tear. At UFC 72, he got the knockout bonus for knocking out Jason Tan. At UFC 75, he got the submission bonus AND fight of the night bonus when he defeated Paul Taylor by armbar, after he took a kick in the neck that almost put him down. And at UFC 80, he got the knockout bonus for knocking out Jess Liaudin.

However, while his opponents are quality fighters, they are generally not names you would place in the upper echelon of the WW division (i.e. none of them are on my list). Because of this, some wonder how Davis will fare against a more seasoned fighter. These people will soon have their answer, when Davis takes on the Mike Swick at UFC 85 on June 14, 2008, in London, England.

Mike “Quick” Swick (11-2) got his nickname when he won both of his first fights in the UFC (albeit in the middleweight division) in less than 25 seconds each. His next two fights were longer, but neither made it to the three-minute mark. After a disappointing loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 69, Swick decided to drop down to WW. Swick trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, with fellow welterweight standout Josh Koscheck. His first fight at WW came against Josh Burkman (who will be discussed next), and Swick got a Majority Decision win over Burkman. Frankly, I think it was a split decision at best, but clearly the judges thought otherwise.

As another aside – First, the UFC, and most other Mixed Martial Arts fighting organizations, operate on what is called the “Ten Point Must System”, meaning the three judges who score the bout must award, per round, 10 points to the fighter who they each thought won the round, and 9 or less to the other fighter. Now, if there is a knockout (KO), technical knockout (TKO) or submission (sub), this all becomes moot, but if the fight goes to a decision, it is very important – and if the fight does go to a decision, you have four possible endings.

Unanimous Decision – all 3 judges see the same fighter as the winner.
Majority Decision – 2 judges see the same fighter as a winner, and the third judge indicates he thought it was a draw.
Split Decision – 2 judges see the same fighter as the winner, while the third judge feels the other fighter won.
Draw – The scores indicate a tie – draws are rare in mixed martial arts, but they do happen.


But back to Swick – in spite of the loss to Yushin Okami, Swick impressed me much more at Middleweight – that said, he’s only had one fight at WW, so we’ll have to see what he does next against Davis. Both fighters have great striking, and great submissions, but Swick will have a slight reach advantage, and likely come into the fight heavier than Davis, which could give Davis more problems than his previous opponents. However, Davis has been at WW longer, the weight cutting will likely affect him less.

This fight has potential to be awesome. Both fighters like to stand up, and both still have something to prove at WW – because of the intensity of each fighter, I don’t see this fight going the distance. I’m going to say Davis by TKO (due to strikes) in late round 1/early round 2. Both guys are going to come out swinging, and I really don’t think that can last more than one round unless they spend a lot of time scouting each other out for potential weaknesses, in which case they’ll come out swinging like crazy in round 2, and it will be over in the first minute. Regardless of who wins, I think the winner will likely get KO of the night bonus, and both participants will get the Fight of the Night bonuses. Depending on how exciting the performance is, if Davis wins, I think he could be looking at title shot after this fight, or at the very least, a match against somebody like Karo Parisyan for Number One Contender Status.

Next, we have Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman (9-5). Burkman is another alum of The Ultimate Fighter Season 2, and his UFC record is 5-3. May not seem so great, but his three losses in the UFC came against Mike Swick, Karo Parisyan and Jon Fitch (all guys on my list). Burkman trains with Team Quest out of Portland Oregon, and part-time with Team Punishment out of Big Bear, California. Burkman has a strong wrestling background, good ground and pound skills, and is known for big slams – meaning just what it sounds like – he picks people up and slams them back down.

Burkman’s next fight is against Dustin Hazelett on June 21, 2008, at the conclusion of the upcoming season of the reality show. Hazelett is also on the list, and will be covered in part 2. Hazelett probably has the edge in wrestling, but Burkman is a better striker. I’d say majority decision for Burkman.

Now, for Karo “The Heat” Parisyan (18-4). Karo’s family came to America from Armenia when he was 6. His most obvious fighting style is Judo, but he actually trained, until 2005, under the Hayastan Grappling System, which combines Judo, Sambo, catch wrestling, freestyle fighting, Greco-Roman Wrestling and Muay Thai. (Check out Wikipedia for more.)

Karo is an exciting fighter. He is able to successfully use his judo techniques in the UFC, and is known for his elaborate throws and sweeps that are both flashy and effective. He holds wins over some great UFC fighters (Matt Serra, Nick Diaz, Josh Burkman, Ryo Chonan) and even in his loss to Diego Sanchez (which was a b.s. decision, in my humble opinion) he was exciting. He survived getting a tooth knocked out, and managed to give the crowd a good show when he essentially flipped Diego onto his head, which I think was something everybody wanted to see.

Karo was previously known for simply not training for fights. He admittedly had a great deal of raw talent and skill, so he would not train for fights. This became evident as Karo started getting more and more tired the longer his fights would go on. However, he has more recently claimed that he’s making a run for the title, and knows he has to be in better shape for that. However, something that has never been out of shape for Karo is his mouth. He trash talks with the best of them, even though he doesn’t always make the most sense. He’s cocky, for sure, but can back most of it up.

Karo’s next match is actually this Wednesday night at the UFC Fight Night in Broomfield, Colorado, against Thiago Alves (also on the list). Alves, who will be discussed more in part 2, is a decent fighter. He last beat Chris Lytle (on the list) when he broke Lytle’s nose the doctor on the scene stopped the fight between rounds (tko). That was big for Alves, as he was just bouncing back from a 6 month suspension for using a banned substance – a diuretic, Spionolactone, which he stated he used to help reach the 170 pound weight limit.

Alves has won 6 of his 8 fights in the UFC, and I would give a slight striking advantage to Alves, because he is more precise. I would say overall, Karo hits harder, but throws more wild punches. Alves likely has a slight advantage on the ground, as he is a black belt in Brazilian ju jitsu, but Karo has more experience, and definitely more confidence.

I don’t think Alves can take Karo out early in the fight, so I’m going to call a Unanimous decision win for Karo.

We now come to the last fighter in Part 1 – Jon Fitch (16-2). Now, Dana White recently stated that Fitch would be next in line for a title shot – Fitch has a perfect 8-0 record in the UFC, and has fought such standouts as Josh Burkman, Diego Sanchez, Thiago Alves, Luigi Fioravanti, and most recently Chris Wilson (he’s not on the list, but it was a good fight at UFC 82 in Columbus).

Fitch trains out of the American Kickboxing Academy, with Mike Swick and Josh Koscheck. Fitch was, until recently, a bit of a dark horse. He rarely made it to the televised card of any of the UFC’s Pay-Per-View events, but he was beating everyone they put in front of him.

Not much to say about Fitch – he’s a solid fighter, has beaten quality opponents, and is well-liked with the fans. He has the ability to win fights early, but his fights that have gone to a decision have been exciting. Since Fitch just fought in the first weekend of March, he has no opponent on the horizon just yet. However, if he does not get the next title shot, look for a fight against Davis (if Davis beats Swick), for the Number One Contender Status.

So – that’s it for Part 1 – only about 7 pages – no biggie.

If you’ve made it this far, and you’ve watched UFC at all, you know that there are guys in part 2 that are standout fighters – I’m not trying to say they’re not by sticking them in Part 2, I just listed the fighters in the order I thought of them and then split that list down the middle when it became obvious that this article was going to be much more in-depth than the last one.

Oh, and be on the lookout – so I don’t have to keep putting explanations in these articles for terms and such, after Part 2 of the WW, I’m going to do what I should’ve done in the first place – an intro to everything Mixed Martial Arts – okay, not everything, because that would run on forever, but a lot of the basic stuff, so even people who aren’t serious fights fans can follow along.

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3.27.2008

Two Great Men, Two Great Autographs

Monday night I got to meet George Clooney and get his autograph, and Tuesday afternoon, I got to meet former President Bill Clinton, hear him speak, and get his autograph. It was awesome! More to come later, including pictures of both events.

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END
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3.21.2008

LOST and (not really) Found # 1

I hate J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

First, if you consider yourself a true fan of Lost, and you’ve never checked out http://www.lostpedia.com/wiki/Main_Page - do yourself a favor. Check it out.

I hate J.J. Abrams because he started Lost, and Lindelof and Cuse continued Abrams’ sadistic enchantment of millions of people around the world….The show Lost has caused divorces, the kicking of countless puppies, exasperated gasps, and millions of arms thrown in the air in frustration. Okay…maybe not the divorces and puppy kicking, but definitely the rest.

This article is the first in what I can only assume will be many, many articles and comments on the craziness that is Lost. Be warned, there will be SPOILERS, so read ahead at your own risk. But more importantly, there will be a lively discussion on all of the ridiculous conspiracy theories, countless connections between the characters, and as usual, anything else I feel like. As for this first installment – enjoy, but beware - as this show is twisted and crazy, my articles on it will probably be more senseless and rambling than normal, so prepare yourself.


I thought for this first article, instead of trying to go back to the very beginning and start there, I’d start with the most recent episode and go from there. This could end up being 2 pages or 10 pages depending on how obsessive I get while typing this.

So what do we know now? Michael is back…and apparently going insane. In his flashbacks, we learned where he’s been for the last season – apparently wallowing in his own self-pity, trying to kill himself. But as the big guy from Ben’s camp told him – “The island won’t let that happen.” Now, ignoring for a moment the broader implications of that statement, (and the fact that he put a loaded gun to his head and pulled the trigger and the gun didn’t go off) let’s move along.

Michael got off the island and allegedly told Walt just what he’d done to accomplish that feat – kill Libby and Anna Lucia (as a side note, I really wasn’t sorry to see Anna Lucia go – she was really getting on my nerves). Now, why he would tell Walt this, I don’t know. Honestly, I’m not even sure he told Walt. It does seem like the most likely scenario, given the state of things and contextual clues, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve speculated on this show using that rationale, only to find I was wrong. Just wrong.

Regardless, Michael never did confirm that he told Walt. However, if he did not tell Walt, this begs the question – why are he and Walt not living together?

We learned that Ben really does deserve the title of Master Manipulator, as he was able to get Michael to get on a boat for him with plans to kill the entire crew. Michael even went as far to set off a bomb (that was obviously a dud – and a test) and then dismantled the radio and the engines. Ben told Michael he should do this because he could help save his friends, and that would help with his guilt over killing Libby and Anna Lucia, but I seriously doubt that’s why Ben wants him there – Ben’s motives are always self-serving. Regardless, let’s rewind for just a second to see how we got here.

The big guy from Ben’s camp told Michael that Charles Widmore (Penny’s Dad) planted the fake Oceanic Flight 815 on the bottom of the ocean and did so because he believed there were survivors from Oceanic 815 somewhere. Now, let’s first ask why Widmore would believe this, and how he knows anything about the island. If we look back a couple of episodes to the last Desmond-centric episode, Penny said, when he called her on Christmas Eve, that she knew about the island. If you remember the season finale from a couple seasons ago, when Desmond barely stopped the hatch from blowing up, it briefly flashed to Penny and two guys who were apparently tracking the electronic or electromagnetic disturbance coming from the island. So she knew something. However, if you remember a flashback from the last Desmond episode, when it appeared he was going back and forth between the past and the present, he ran into Charles Widmore at an auction where Widmore purchased a ship’s log from a ship called the Black Rock. Remember that? (It’s a ship on the island - where they got the dynamite in the season 2 opener that blew up the scientist, Arzt.)

Anyway, where did Widmore hear about the Black Rock? How did he know the Black Rock ended up on the island, and how the hell did he know that there was anything crazy about the island? I guess money really can buy you anything, because he seems to be purchasing info left and right. But let’s not forget that Widmore is not afraid to get his hands dirty – e.g. the video of him beating up the guy Ben claimed was someone he tried to put in Widmore’s camp. Widmore is a gangster, and it seems like he’s my favorite kind – he worked his way up, kicking ass where he had to, and then he parlayed that into some good investments, some hostile takeovers, and now he’s filthy rich and hunting for the island where crazy things happen…..but, I digress.

Did Widmore actually put the plane in the water, or was it Ben? Because Ben also has a vested interest in making sure that people stay away from the island – he doesn’t need people to disrupt his little kingdom. However, as Ben stated to Locke, were Widmore to discover the island, he could charge any price he wanted to for people to come visit, especially sick people, since the island apparently heals all sorts of illnesses.

I think it’s more likely Widmore planted the fake plane – he had the money, and he had the resources. But why now? Was someone else onto the secret? And if so, how the hell did that person find out? If you haven’t been able to figure it out already, you should now know why watching this show has made me dumber than law school did, and why I can’t ever have one train of thought at a time.

Regardless, the plane was a plant, and Widmore sent the ship to find the island. Now, let’s talk about the crack team of complete nutjobs that he put together to go find it.

- Lupidis – the crazy helicopter pilot who was supposed to be flying 815 the day it went down (what he was doing instead, I know not – but I’m sure we’ll find out).

- Naomi – random hot girl – every crew needs a random hot girl.

- Miles – crazy psychic/ESP guy

- Farraday – crazy genius who knows about the process for some kind of time travel.

Now, let’s review – three of the four descriptions involve the word crazy. Don’t forget all the crazy mercenaries on the boat, too. (Again, crazy + crazy = integral part of any Lost plotline.) And now, the only non-crazy one – Naomi – is dead. Typical. The hot girls on this show have worse luck than black guys in horror movies. Thank God for Kate, Claire and Juliet.

Most importantly, let’s not forget who assembled this team for Widmore – Mr. Abaddon – possibly the scariest person to have appeared on this show yet. As usual, a name is not just a name. From Lostpedia - "Abaddon" is the name of the biblical Angel of the Abyss (Revelation 9:11). The name is Greek for "destruction" or "the destroyer". As a place, it is likened to Sheol or hell. When Abaddon was telling Naomi about the mission, he said that every member of her team had been chosen for a particular purpose, Widmore clearly had a plan for putting all this crazy on one boat.

But moving back to where we are on the boat: People are going crazy on it, so others are trying to get off of it, and Michael is Ben’s spy – and now he’s been exposed to Sayid and Desmond, and as the episode ended – the captain. And that’s where we’re left for another month.
Other random notes on this episode: Ben apparently has some more freedom, and used that to tell Alex and her boyfriend to follow Rousseau to “The Temple”, a station I don’t think we’ve seen before. Naturally, Ben, as the Master Manipulator used this to get the boyfriend killed, and Rousseau is likely dead as well, and Alex is now back in the hands of his people where he feels she’s safe. However, I don’t think Rousseau is dead – she’s pretty island-savvy, having been there for a while, so she may be faking to find out what’s going on and who was doing the shooting.
The big guy (Tom – just remembered his name) from the island is apparently gay – totally didn’t see that coming.
The watch that Michael traded for the guns and bullets (which he tried to kill himself with) was Jin’s watch which, ironically, Jin had once tried to kill Michael over.

RANDOM QUESTIONS I thought of while watching this episode:
(1) Since the island wouldn’t let Michael kill himself, is that why Jack wasn’t “able” to jump off the bridge in his flash-forward?
(2) Who was shooting at Rousseau, Alex and the boyfriend?
(3) Why did Libby tell Michael not to push the button if the bomb was a dud? (Perhaps because that would mean he’d succumbed to Ben’s will?)
(4) Who was the old guy next to Michael in the hospital? (The camera seemed to pause on him long enough to make him seem significant.)

Again, I hate Abrams (even though he’s no longer involved with the show), Lindelof, and Cuse.

NEXT TIME: The next article will be a generic discussion on the Oceanic 6, and their flashforwards, a talk about the timelines of said flashbacks, and why I think the producers choosing Aaron to be one of the 6 was a HUGE copout.

-Preview

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3.19.2008

"Keep Reading" is working now...

Apparently, I'd forgotten to put some strings of code in, so everything but the abbreviating function was working....So if you clicked on the Read More link, you should be seeing this now....so rest assured, we won't be having the extremely long posts on the main page anymore. But still, since "Keep Reading" shows up at the end of every post, if you see "Preview" before it, there's not going to be anything else to read.

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3.18.2008

Things to come

Just to let the readers know - one of the next few articles will be the start of series on the ever popular TV show "Lost". Like with everything else, it's likely going to be completely random, but it will definitely be devoted to a sort of a discussion on conspiracy theories that explain all of the random crap that happens on the island....i.e. why people's perception of time on the island is so screwed up....

So be ready - I think this one will take off like crazy.

-Preview
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"Keep Reading" is a futile request for now....

Well, the function is not yet working. Obviously the links are up, and if you click on them it takes you to a page with the single article, but so far I haven't been able to get it to work so that you only see an abbreviated version on the main page. I'm even using this post as a test, and doing it the way I'm supposed to, but still....it's not working. I've gone as far as to post a question on a Blogger's help website (b/c I am new to the game) so hopefully that will help. Naturally, I scanned through the questions b/c I knew I couldn't be the only person to have ever experienced the problem, but all of the people who have apparently got the function to miraculously work without doing anything extra....I don't think I'm quite that lucky. But we'll see. More updates later. So for now, when you see me sign off, you'll know that's the end...but if you don't see that, then you will have the choice to Keep Reading....

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"Read More" is making me want to "Do Less"

Modifying something like this is crazy - you've actually got to get in the code on the page, and edit things from there. It's crazy....and not working so far. We may be stuck with long posts on the main page for a while, people. Sorry. Oh, and by the way - - - The "Keep Reading" link on the posts doesn't give you anything extra just yet, so if you click on it, you're just going to get the same article by itself as opposed to the whole main page.

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I'm Back

Back from vacation - it was awesome. Great weather, and relaxing.

There should be a new post up today or tomorrow - and I'm messing around with the template to see if I can add a "Read More" link to some of the posts so the full text doesn't appear on the main page.

-Preview
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3.07.2008

Back in a week

I'll be out of the blogging world until next Friday - going on vacation. Clearly I haven't done enough to need a vacation from blogging, but I definitely need a vacation from just about everything else :)

See you all next Friday.
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3.05.2008

State of the U[fc]NION (#1)

I consider myself an avid fight fan, so from time to time I'll be letting you know what I think about the state of Mixed Martial Arts, particularly the UFC. This recurring column will likely address everything from weight classes to sponsors, developments in the sport to changing legislation, who I like to who I hate.

Having attended UFC 82 this past weekend and watched Anderson Silva dismantle Dan Henderson, my friends and I (along with thousands of MMA fans everywhere) were wondering who would could seriously challenge Anderson Silva. So here, I'll be addressing the state of the UFC Middleweight Division:

Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva (21-4)
- Most recently defeated Dan Henderson at UFC 82 via rear naked choke in round 2.
- 3 successful title defenses in the UFC.
- Previously defeated (in the UFC): Rich Franklin (x2), Nate Marquardt, Travis Lutter (non-title fight), and Chris Leben (pre-championship fight).

Anderson Silva is arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Some people feel this title belongs to Fedor Emelianenko, others feel it's Georges St. Pierre. However, Fedor hasn't had a truly challenging match in almost three years and GSP choked hard in his first title defense. GSP has since rebounded and holds in the interim Welterweight UFC title, but even if he wins the unification match, I don't think his skill level or sheer dominance will match Silva's.

Anderson Silva started with Chute Boxe, a famed Brazilian Fight Team and Training Camp. He later left to form Muay Thai Dream Team and currently fights under their flag.

Silva is a devastating striker - his fists, feet and elbows are abnormally quick, and he hits very hard (just ask Rich Franklin). 12 of his 21 wins are by KO or TKO. However, Silva also has a good submission game. 4 of his 21 wins are by submission.

Regardless of how good he may look on paper, he looks even better in the cage. Out of the 9 rounds he has fought in the UFC, only 3 (arguably) have not gone his way - but even in those three rounds, he was never in serious danger, and was never injured, merely slown down. In his first fight in the UFC (Chris Leben), he had a 100% striking rate. Granted, the fight only lasted 49 seconds, but Silva threw a flurry of punches, kicks and knees like you wouldn't believe. But still - 100% - how many other combat fighters can boast of that same statistic? Not many. Silva has taken the best the UFC (and Pride) had to offer and brushed them all aside. He destroyed Rich Franklin in their first fight, and nearly did the same in their second. He submitted Travis Lutter, a proclaimed submission "master,"; he took apart Nate Marquardt inside of one round with strikes when everyone thought Marquardt would be able to take Silva down and end the fight on the ground; and most recently, he submitted Dan Henderson, the former Pride Middleweight AND Light Heavyweight champion, a man who had only been stopped in a fight twice in his whole career. Silva is quick enough to actually dodge punches in the ring, he always comes into fights with a brilliant gameplan, and he can knock people out with both hands, both elbows, both feet and both knees.

But enough about the past - what about the future? That's the question MMA fans everywhere are asking.

There really aren't any true challengers for Silva left in the middleweight division. Yushin Okami (22-4) is most likely the #1 contender now, and a quick review of the two fighters' records will show that Okami holds a win over Silva. However, it was a disqualification due to an illegal kick - so essentially, Silva beat himself in that one.

Okami has a decent all around game - he has won by KO/TKO/submission and decision. Better yet, only 1 of his losses was a KO, the other 3 were decisions. So Okami hasn't been stopped much. Seems like a decent match-up...unfortunately, that's really all it is...a decent match-up. No one feels that Okami is truly ready to compete with Silva, even with wins in the UFC over Evan Tanner, Jason MacDonald, Mike Swick, Rory Singer, and Kalib Starnes.

I don't think anyone doubts that Okami might be able to frustrate Silva for a bit, maybe an entire round, but Silva's overall edge in skill level would eventually overtake Okami.

Perhaps Rich Franklin could try to make the third time the charm, but Franklin has been TKO'd twice, and unless he came into the fight with a new gameplan, it would happen again. And while the UFC middleweight division does have a lot of talent, none of the fighters are on Silva's level.

So - what's left? Looking outside the organization, two fighters stand out - Paulo Filho and Matt Lindland. Filho is 16-0 and is the current WEC Middleweight champion. He has good submissions and knock out power, and has never been stopped. However, this discussion stops here because Filho and Silva train together and both fighters have publicly stated they would not fight each other under any circumstances. So....we're left with Matt Lindland.

Lindland (20-5) has been around for over ten years and has fought some of the best the sport has to offer: Ricardo Almeida, Pat Militech, Phil Baroni, Tony Fryklund, Murilo Bustamante, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and Fedor. However, he took Rampage (the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion) to a split decision, and when he fought Fedor, was two weight classes above his natural weight.

At the outset, I feel I have to state that Lindland has tried to get back in the UFC ever since he was fired for wearing the logo of a non-approved sponsor to a weigh-in, and Dana White has stated that Lindland will never get back in. In spite of this, I still think it's more likely Lindland would fight Silva (as opposed to Filho).

Lindland is simply a solid fighter - like I've said about other fighters in this article, he has KO power and a good submission game. He also has a strong chin, and most importantly, experience. Even in his losses, he learned something, and he now imparts that knowledge to numerous fighters on his International Fight League (IFL) team. I think that these factors combined with Lindland's desire to get his name back out there after disappointing losses to Rampage and Fedor would give him enough motivation to be truly prepared for Silva, and he would stand a great chance of forcing Silva out of his comfort zone.

However, there isn't much that is outside of Silva's comfort zone. Silva is also quicker than Lindland. But I think the combo of a deeper experience in Lindland versus a dominant reign in Silva would make for a great match.

The only other likely possibility is of someone, Silva or otherwise, changing weight classes. Vanderlei Silva has talked of dropping to Middleweight, but since he and Silva trained together for a very long time, that fight would likely not happen. Otherwise, people have speculated on Silva moving up (to Light Heavyweight) or down (to Welterweight), or someone like Matt Hughes or GSP moving up to Middleweight.

I think Silva would more likely move up than down. He fights at Middleweight (185) but walks around at about 205. A drop to 170 could be dangerous for his health and overall strength.

However, a move up to Light Heavyweight means fighting guys like Rampage, who fight at 205, but walk around at more like 225. I think there would be a distinct strength disadvantage for Silva. However, I do think Silva is much quicker than Rampage, and it would be interesting to see how Silva's precision striking would compare to Rampage's power punching.

Now someone like Hughes or GSP could move up to Middleweight, but I think both fighters would be sacrificing speed, and that's something they couldn't afford to lose against Silva. Hughes definitely has more experience, but GSP seems to be fighting better now - and he took out Hughes with a 2nd round armbar in their last fight. In spite of that, GSP lost his first title defense in a bad way, to Matt Serra. Like everybody else, I questioned his "mental toughness" after this, because he seemed to be overwhelmed like he did in his first fight with Hughes. Even if he were able to overcome all of those issues, I still don't think he could compete with Silva. He'd lose speed and strength going up in weight, and moving up just for Silva to prove a point would be a bad move.

So - that's it for now. If the UFC doesn't bring back Lindland, or if Franklin doesn't completely change up his fight game, Silva's going to be on top of the Middleweight division for a long time.

- Preview.

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3.04.2008

Blast from the past # 1 - Something that was cool when we were kids.

I asked my friend Train to suggest a topic for the first longer article, and I have to admit, I never would have guessed what he chose - Garbage Pail Kids. I feel compelled to also mention here that this article is not designed to plug Wikipedia, in spite of the multiple mentions - in fact, this article wasn't really designed to do anything other than drop some knowledge on you about Garbage Pail Kids - possibly the most random blog starting topic ever.

Train posed the idea to me as something we thought was cool when we were kids, but when we look back on it, they're pretty weird. Now, let's recognize Garbage Pail Kids for what they are - one of the first true, great, spoofs. But also one of the most disgusting children's "collectibles" ever conceived.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garbage_pail_kids

That's a link to the wikipedia page on Garbage Pail Kids. Some random facts, from Wikipedia, about GPK (as they're known today) I wasn't aware of.

- GPK were released by Topps - yes, Topps that made all of the baseball (and other sports) cards.

- There was a live action movie produced in 1987...naturally, it flopped. There was apparently a cartoon series, too, that didn't air in the US.

- There was a trademark infringement lawsuit (big surprise) by Coleco, the makers of the Cabbage Patch Kids. There was an out of court settlement, and Topps agreed to alter the characters to make them look less like Cabbage Patch Kids.

- There was actually a re-release of GPK in 2003 - all new, better quality cards. I feel forced to ask here - what were they thinking? And even more disturbingly, there is a link on the bottom of the Wiki page to this - http://www.garbagepailkids.com/ - again, what were they thinking? Let me say this - the designers have at least kept up with the disturbing trend - this stuff looks even more messed up than I remember it. There are GPK e-cards, a GPK message board, and the two things I find most disturbing - (1) "Raise your own virtual GPK" and (2) "Build Your Own GPK"

Now, let's take a moment to reflect on the origins of GPK. When Train first mentioned this idea to me and we were thinking about it, I remarked that I thought they were designed by two guys smoking weed in somebody's basement who saw a Cabbage Patch Kid in the garbage and BOOM! Light bulb!

But no, GPK were the brainchild of Art Spiegelman...don't recognize that name? Oh, no biggie, he only won a Pulitzer for his graphic novel memoir "Maus" which recalls the struggles of Spiegelman's father to survive during the Holocaust (he was a Polish Jew). Again, check Wikipedia for more info.

So, having seen that, I had to ask myself how he went from Maus to GPK....Now, I could launch into a diatribe here about how Spiegelman is a huge non-conformist, is a very vocal critic of President Bush, and perhaps back in the day he used GPK as a way to show how he thought the world was turning to crap.....Instead of that, though, I'm simply going to speculate he was one of the guys in the aforementioned basement.

Ultimately, Spiegelman got screwed by Topps - when he was negotiating his initial deal, he did not negotiate for any percentage of the profits (apparently this was nothing new if you worked for Topps). He fought with Topps for 20 years, and ultimately left when they refused to deal.

However, after some other critical acclaim, Time Magazine named Spiegelman one of their "Top 100 Most Influential People" in 2005.

(And this guy came up with GPK?)

Time's recognition of Spiegelman makes me seriously question what some of these "influential people" have done to get on the list.

Bottom line - When we were kids, we thought Garbage Pail Kids were cool...looking back on them, we thought they were pretty weird - and seeing this info solidifies the weird label for me.

I hope you all can see that there was really no point to this - Train asked for GPK, and that's what he got, because I can write about whatever I want :)

So, until next time.

-PreView

Other things that will likely appear in the "Blast From the Past" series:

- Transformers
- He-Man
- M.A.S.K.
- Knight Rider
- MacGyver
- A-Team
- Legos
- Tang (Oh yes, Tang)
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