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Friday, July 31, 2009

Media Time Out: Part II-Podcasts

In addition to the sports/marching media I read, there's a good deal that I listen to as well. Interestingly enough, despite my love for music, I spend my commute on most days listening not to tunes on my iPod, but instead the latest podcasts, at least of those that update regularly. Here's some of what I take in--if you're intrigued, they can each be found at iTunes:

AP Top 25 Poll Podcast: This is the actual podcast from the AP that gets updated each week of the college football season with the new poll. It's always nice to get the rankings straight from them.

Drum Corps International Field Pass: All the latest DCI news, including insight on shows and hot topics of the year, hosted by DCI's own Dan Potter. It comes out each weekday in season, and I usually listen to it on my morning commute.

ESPN's Pardon the Interruption: One of my favorite shows on ESPN, I don't always catch it day of. Luckily, when I miss it, I can always give it a listen via the podcast.

ESPNU College Basketball Podcast: The latest in college basketball news in season.

ESPNU College Football Podcast: While this is indispensable during the season, it's just as great every two weeks during the off-season. Ivan Maisel and Beano Cook are veritable fonts of knowledge, and while their expertise is college football, they make it quite clear that they just know a lot in general.

The 5th Quarter Podcast: This is the podcast from The 5th Quarter forums, dedicated to HBCU marching bands.

Inside Lacrosse Podcast: I'm actually subscribed to both the audio and video versions of this podcast. I keep up with it primarily for college lacrosse, though it's great to see what the have to see on international competition and the pros as well. Like Ivan and Beano, these guys know their stuff beyond just their sport.

Lacrosse Highlights Podcast: This one is affiliated with CSTV and the NCAA itself, so in addition to lacrosse news, it includes news on all of the winter and spring sports that are in season as well.

LaxPower Run and Gun: This one's a little less formal than the other lacrosse, but also keeps updated more outside of the college lacrosse season, so they've really be the go-to on the of-season coaching carousel.

Vic Firth Marching Percussion Video Podcast: While it's not often that I watch video podcasts, it's great to have lot performances, percussion ensembles and the like at my disposal if I want a quick band dork fix.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Media Time Out: Part I-Blogs

While I may fancy myself a writer of sports and marching, I spend a good deal more time being a reader on both subjects. Here's some of the media I take in:

  • America Least - Obviously a play on words of America East, UMBC's athletic conference, this blog focuses on all things basketball in the AE.
  • The Bull Gator - The author of this blog attended both UF and USF, and while the coverage is certainly heavier on the Gator side, it's worth reading both for the Bulls tidbits and because it's well-written in general.
  • The Bulletin: USF Sports - Greg Auman is a journalist with the St. Pete Times and the official Bulls beatwriter. He's certainly the go-to person if you want the scoop on USF happenings.
  • Tailgating Ideas - Keeps me up on some of the latest on one of my favorite pastimes, tailgating. It serves the dual role of also allowing me to live vicariously, as my tailgates are few and far between these days.
  • East Coast Bias - I stumbled across this one on the Yardbarker network and have been following it ever since. Not only do I have such a bias myself, but these guys are from Maryland, which means a good deal of their writing hits close to my once and future home.
  • Every Day Should Be Saturday - The title alone should have college football fans nodding in agreement. This one covers college football, and does a damn good job of it.
  • Fan Foodie - I don't remember exactly how I stumbled across this one, but sports AND food? Sign me up!
  • Girls Don't Know Sports - The name is obviously tongue-in-cheek, because this girl--woman, actually--knows her sports quite well, and she's another Maryland-based sports fan.
  • Katie the Female Sports Fan - speaking of women who can hold their own in a sports bar (or a bar fight, for that matter) my friend Katie, who has been blogging for a good deal longer than I have. I wish she updated more, but every time she does, it's good stuff.
  • The Mid-Majority - a basketball blog that deals with all of those "mid-major" conferences and the teams in them scraping for likely their sole bid to the Big Dance each year.
  • Saturday Night Lights - this was probably one of the first marching blogs I ever came across. They talk both corps and marching band, though it's been a bit since the last update.
  • Sports on the Yard - My boy Chris, Del State alum and fellow Delawarean, is a blogger, but he's also a bona fide sports journalist. In SOTY, he write HBCU sports.
  • UMBC Basketball's Rally Monkey Blog - Neil is a friend and former resident of mine from my days as an RA at UMBC. I'd like to think I've got a little to do with his rabid UMBC fandom, but regardless, he knows his stuff and serves as a great link back to the ol' alma mater.
  • UMBC Sports Blog - Likewise, this blog, which I think I found linked from Neil's, keeps me connected to what's going on athletically at UMBC.
  • The UMBC Dawg Blog - What can I say? I love my alma mater. This one focuses on athletics alumni.
  • Uni Watch - "The obsessive study of athletics aesthetics", this blog always has interesting tidbits related to all sorts of sports uniforms.
  • Bleacher Report: Contributor Caleb Patterson - My fraternity brother Caleb is just getting his start, writing UNC football.
  • View from the Sidelines - An affiliate of HBCU bandhead site, The 5th Quarter. Like the 5th, this one covers HBCU marching bands.
  • DCI Scores - I added this to the blogroll after discovering the portion of the site that interests me more: Their rankings.
  • Tailgate Lot - I stumbled across this one courtesy of Tailgating Ideas. A little more to feed the tailgating beast.
I hope this gave you a bit more to read--these are all blogs I enjoy reading. Up next for the media time out: Podcasts

Friday, July 24, 2009

Soccer Envy?

Over the past week or so, soccer has come across my consciousness in a few distinct ways.

Last Friday night, I made my way a few minutes up the road to see the Carolina Dynamo of the USL Premier Development League play their last regular season home game. I've been meaning to go for several years now, and since moving last summer, their home stadium is right up the road from us. It was a good time, in that minor-league, family-friendly way. I'd definitely go again.

Then, leading up to yesterday, I started seeing several of my friends in Baltimore talking soccer all of a sudden. Come to find out that AC Milan and Chelsea are playing a game in M&T Bank Stadium.

And a strange thing happened--I was a little jealous. Maybe it's the lack of major sports playing at this time of year, or perhaps it's the magnitude of the game that was taking place, but I was thinking how much I would have loved to have been there. I happened to turn on the last few minutes of that game in ESPN and sure enough, the home of the Ravens was rockin'. I think the idea of soccer intrigues me most when I consider watching it with people who love it--it's contagious!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Carolina Crown

These badges are available to support your favorite corps at the Big Loud and Live theatre airing of the DCI quarterfinals. Figured I'd support the cause and play along.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Being a good host

UNCG, where I work, hosts "America's Most Popular" summer music camp each year; the first session is going on now with another taking place next week. The game room in our student union, which I oversee, is a popular destination for the campers, who are primarily high school students.

Because the game room typically serves as a sports and recreation destination, we've got a subscription to ESPN the magazine and probably have about a year's worth of issues around the room for patrons to peruse. Since the music campers will be renting the room tonight for their end-of-session evening activity, I thought I'd cater directly to the crowd--I grabbed my back issuees of Halftime Magazine and a few rogue copies of DCI Today I had laying around, and they will join they fray today.

Here's hoping they enjoy the additional reading material. Even better, maybe some will grab the subscription cards and become Halftime's newest subscribers--it's well worth it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First at Last

I'm pretty sure no one was waiting with bated breath for my FirstBEAT review, but nonetheless here it comes, 5 days later.

So for the first time, I saw the electronics about which I've been bitching live. In this one show, I saw a pretty good range of its use, from the subtle to the egregious. While I didn't (always) hate it, my general sentiment was this: the use of electronics was either subtle enough that I would not have missed it if it weren't there, or gregarious enough that I wished it weren't there.

After missing all-age corps Alliance, Teal Sound started the night out with the latter sort of show. Their show, the Velvet Rope, featured music from Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, though I was hard pressed to identify many songs. Their pit featured a full rhythm section with bass, guitar, keys, and a drum set; my "this isn't drum corps!" post a few posts back was indeed them. What's more: Ever since I first laid eyes on Teal Sound, I thought their uniforms outfits were stunning. The way their teal popped off of their black uniforms was truly appealing. Their new uniforms are cream, which doesn't have nearly the same effect on their signature teal.

The Crossmen are back in full-length capes for the 2009 season. Their show was a bit lackluster, and this was one of the few notable things. I'm still not in love with their white uniform accents as opposed to the red ones.

If Teal Sound's uniforms were the night's downgrade, Boston Crusaders' are a definite upgrade. The new look with the white accents brightens up the whole uniform. While I had seen their show, The Core of Temptation, via Fan Network, it was good to see it live. I felt like I had a better understanding of it after the piece on the DCI Field Pass podcast. And I loved their use of Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah.

Blue Stars have been a pleasure to watch the past few years, and they continued that this year with The Factory. Sewing machines were a feature of the show, and it was particularly cool when their guard came up with "unfinished" flags.

You heard it here first: I genuinely enjoyed the Holy Name Cadets' show. Conflict and Resolution (West Side Story '09). It was back to no nonsense, excellence in marching, excellence in playing, and a show befitting of an anniversary year. I wish them the best, though not at the expense of...

Carolina Crown, the home corps for this show. I continue to enjoy them, and while I don't think it's the instant classic that the past two years have been, The Grass is Always Greener is a solid show that's extremely well done and deserve the first place it received in this and many other competitions. I will admit I'm not in love with the green uniform accoutrements and the green guard uniforms, which I think wash out on a green grass field, but that's my only very small complaint.

I've got another week and a half until my next shows--Charlotte for NightBEAT and then Salem, VA for the Summer Music Games of Southwest Virginia. And of course, I've still got Fan Network (and you should too!) and may be headed to theaters for quarterfinals this year. Ahh, summer.


In the footage leading up to the MLB All-Star Game, ESPN did a piece showing some of the finest moments of the first half of the season. While I readily admit that I'm not the biggest baseball fan, there's one play that is undoubtedly the best in baseball and quite possibly the best of all of sports.

Stealing home.

It is perhaps the most electrifying to watch. It is an undeniable feat of badassery to attempt and better yet to complete. Despite what they may call being dunked on, if you get home plate stolen on you--a feat that means that you failed to properly get the ball to where you were supposed to be throwing it in the first place--you've truly been posterized.

All-Star Dawgs

So on the night of MLB's All-Star game, it's almost false advertising to make an all-star mention and not mean that game. But quiet as its kept, Major League Lacrosse's All-Star game will be taking place this coming Thursday at INVESCO Field at Mile-High Stadium. It'll be on a bit late--10pm--for us east coasters, but I expect to give it a look anyway.

For the nth time (where n = pretty much as many years as each has been in the league) a pair of UMBC alums, Brendan Mundorf '06 and Drew Westervelt '07 will be taking the field. Despite having been teammates at UMBC and currently with the Denver Outlaws, the two will line up on opposite sides of the field for the All-Star game, with Mundorf donning and Old School jersey and Westervelt suiting up for the Young Guns.

Halftime will feature the Bud Light Skills Competition, in which both Dawgs will compete as well. Mundorf will compete in the Fastest Shot competition, and Westervelt will compete in the Freestyle competition, lacrosse's answer to the NBA's Slam Dunk competition.

For my money, I'd love to see the skills competition, which also features a two point shot competition, take place on a different night and take on the (relative) stature that MLB's Home Run Derby and NBA's All-Star Saturday Night enjoy. Not only would it make for a bigger event, but it certainly can't bode well for the second half to have your stars forego their chance to get some rest during halftime. Still, I'm ready to see my fellow Retrievers and the rest of the MLL put on a show this Thursday night!

With tonight's festivities, however, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that another Retriever is being honored at the MLB All-Star Game. Each of the teams of Major League Baseball is honoring All-Stars Among us, who are individuals who have excelled in service. Being honored by the New York Yankees (but we won't hold that against them) is Michael Pesci, who plays on UMBC's baseball team. Pesci founded the non-profit Perfect Pitch, which raises money for mentally and physically disabled young people.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Best of the Rest

It's summer time, which means that Kornheiser and Wilbon go on vacation quite a bit. While it sometimes puts a cramp on one of my favorite TV shows, I've come to live with--and even enjoy--some of the B-teamers.

One of my personal favorites, though it would seem he'd never believe it, is Dan LeBatard. Despite all his self-deprecating, I enjoy him as a host. I think he's got personality and typically brings a good deal to the show. And when he's in for Kornheiser, I think he and Wilbon have a great chemistry.

As odd as it seems considering the recent turn he's taken, LeBatard and Whitlock used to be my favorite B-team. But obviously he's no longer with the network (and no longer a journalist I enjoy) and me new favorite matchup is LeBatard and J.A. Adande. I've always enjoyed J.A. on Around the Horn, so it's good to see him in the next time slot as well.

An argument that makes my point

So I had handed to me on a platter the consummate argument against electronics in drum corps: Because THIS is not a drum corps picture. And yet it is, of Teal Sound, directly from Drum Corps International itself.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

First Chance, FirstBEAT

Tomorrow evening, Megan and I are schlepping three hours south to Columbia, SC for my first live DCI show of the '09 season. My friends Joseph and Jim will be down there as well, and weather permitting (we got rained out last year) we'll be treated to drum corps courtesy of Alliance, Teal Sound, Crossmen, Boston Crusaders, Blue Stars, the Holy Name Cadets, and the host corps, Carolina Crown. It'll be my first live encounter with the much-cursed electronics, and my first peek at this year's installment of what may be a budding east coast rivalry.

Rivalry? Am I reporting or just stirring something up? Most corps--and even many corps fans--are too magnanimous to lend any credence to rivalry, because they're all great corps with amazing performers and we just try and do our best and yadda yadda yadda. But anyone who's been paying attention has seen that since around the middle of last year, Crown and Cadets' destinies have been linked, and they've traded the lead with one another quite a few times.

Because of geographic proximity and tour schedules, DCI is unofficially grouped into East, Central, and West divisions. Carolina Crown and the Holy Name Cadets have clearly been the beasts of the East recently; the other divisions are currently anchored by the Cavaliers and Phantom Regiment in the Central and Blue Devils and Santa Clara Vanguard in the West. Carolina Crown defeated the Cadets in head-to-head competition for the first time last year in Orlando, and finished ahead of them in finals last year for the first time as well. This season, the Cadets started out strong, but Crown has been taking the most recent golds.

The rivalry may have a bit of traction among the respective fanbases as well. Through observation (and admittedly, being a Crown fan an often a Cadets hater) it seems that there's reason for each group to dislike the other. Crown fans think their corps is new and innovative, while the Cadets innovate in the wrong way with strange things like sets and narration. Cadets fans know their corps is a tried and true World Champion, while Crown is the impudent upstart trying to shine. But will you hear booing or jeers from either side? Of course not (well, maybe a little). Fans will be cordial, clap politely, and perhaps leave the smack for bulletin boards and discussion forums.

Regardless of whatever rivalry, real or perceived, I'm looking forward to seeing the two duke it out tomorrow at FirstBEAT. Both corps--not to mention the rest of the lineup--will give their very best; they may just push one another to do so.
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