Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cat's Cradle

One of Vonnegut's earlier novels, Cat's Cradle's narrative is pretty straightforward but told in an interesting way. The plot is really science-fiction, although this really wasn't obvious for a while. Vonnegut's known for his social satire, and a lot of the book is humorous takes on people and ideas from the time period. The nameless narrator is telling the story of how he got to where he is, and starts with him doing research for a book about the day the nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He goes to the hometown of one of the fictional creators of the device, but doesn't realize until later he came up with something much more deadly before he died. Vonnegut jokes about the arms race, McCarthyism, and religion as the setting shifts and the narrative takes a darker turn.

What's interesting is how he uses the narrator plot device as a way to increase tension and danger without actually having anything happen in the story. The main conflict occurs very quickly near the end of the book, but the writer is always dropping hints of how things will go wrong. It's very oddly structured, with over a hundred chapters despite being fewer than three hundred pages in length. There are frequent interruptions as the narrator explains concepts and teachings of Bokononism, the fake religion he practices. Besides the interesting story, Cat's Cradle is really funny. There's a lot of humor in the dialogue, even when it's expository, and funny characters, even if they only have a short amount of time to make an impact. Vonnegut has a style of writing that's all his own, which makes reading his books a unique experience, unlike very few other ways to entertain yourself. I think everybody should read at least a little of his stuff, and Cat's Cradle is a good choice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Take the Money and Run

One of Allen's first movies, back when he was one of the prime innovators of comedy in film. He's known for creating a lot of jokes and gags that have been recycled endlessly by less creative writers, and Take the Money and Run is the first real Mockumentary. A lot of the movie plays pretty much like a normal movie, but the narration and interviews with people who knew the main character are what make it different. Allen wrote and directed, but Ralph Rosenblum's editing appears to have been very vital to the movie's success. He changed the editing and tightened up the whole thing, making it into a lean comedy gem.

Virgil is a man who appears kind-hearted but is really a career criminal, although he's not great at what he does. There's a lot of great humor about botched heists, failed escape attempts and how a relationship holds up under the strain of breaking the law for a living. The central conceit that it's supposed to be a documentary doesn't really make sense, because most of this stuff would never be filmed in real life, unlike the more mundane subject matter of This is Spinal Tap or The Office. If you just ignore this problem though, you can find a very smart and funny movie. It rewards viewers who remember details and can spot some cultural references (there was an entire bit about an old Game Show I wouldn't have gotten as well without some help). The runtime is pretty quick, and they never spend too much time on one subject. This is where Woody Allen got his start as a "triple-threat", and it's a good movie indeed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blades of Glory

Yes, Blades of Glory is a stupid movie. A very stupid one. But the cast is very talented at making people laugh, and the result is an enjoyable comedy. Will Ferrell is the obvious star, and he's in fine form. After showing he can act in real movies, he still hasn't lost the ability to create a character with his own quirks that is still part of his persona. He has plenty of great one-liners, although many were blown in the trailers. Some of the best stuff in the movie is his character, Chazz' sex addiction and his many tattoos representing trysts with famous skaters. Jon Heder, who shall forever be saddled with the memory of playing the titular protagonist of Napoleon Dynamite, didn't get much screen time in commercials, but he was actually pretty entertaining as the more grounded half of the main duo.

The movie has a lot of great people in smaller parts, all famous for their television work. SNL's Amy Poehler and Arrested Development's Will Arnett as the evil/creepy sibling skate team, The Office's Jenna Fischer as their docile sister, The Daily Show's Rob Corddry as the manager of a children's ice show. There's also a lot of cameos from famous skaters that help create a fun atmosphere. There's obviously nothing that special about the plot, there are lots of traditional plot devices and crap thrown in to justify it as a movie and not just a string of figure skating jokes. It's not great, but it works, and it all flies by pretty quickly. It seems like Ferrell's trying to make a character/movie for every celebrity profession, from news anchoring to NASCAR driving and now to pro skating. It usually works, and I don't mind having simple, fun movies like this.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

24 - Season 2

The second season of 24 is definitely crazier than the first, with nuclear weapons, political backstabbing, and conspiracies. It's also more action packed, as Jack has to battle against more heavily armed thugs than he did previously. There are new characters and subplots that develop alongside the main story, some more interesting than others. Jack's daughter Kim is still around and getting into trouble, and while Elisha Cuthbert is still nice to look at, I was already bored of seeing her in distress all the time. How many psychopaths can you really bump into in one day? They definitely stretch reality to make the plot crazier. Unlikely terrorists and strict timetables (You have less than 12 hours after an attack to launch a surprise retaliation?) can come close to breaking the suspension of disbelief.

The show's still fun, though. It's not really supposed to be a realistic drama, so the more outlandish stuff is easier to digest. It's a twisty, exciting series, and I think they pull it off pretty well. I think the real-time gimmick which defines the show is still flawed in its implementation, but you learn to live with these things. All the actors, but returning, new, and the ones just with small parts do their roles well, and the production quality is good. Too many characters seem overly stupid in their actions, and it can seem artificial when they keep extending the resolution to stretch the story out for twenty four hours. It's still a good show though, and Jack is still one bad mother, even as he has to deal with so much crap in one day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Deeper Meaning of Liff

This is the second edition of a book by the premiere British Science Fiction Humorist and the producer of Blackadder. It's basically a dictionary that takes a bunch of names of places in England and around the world and reuses them as definitions for things that don't have words yet. Some of them are just silly, others are references to things that might be familiar to you and funny for that reason. Oftentimes several words, because of similar roots or just because, will all have interrelated meanings that build on each other. The best words are ones that actually sound like the kind of thing they're describing.

There's also a bunch of maps showing where all the names came from and a funny, extremely thorough index. There's even a funny little appendix. The Deeper Meaning of Liff is pretty short and doesn't have much important to say, but it is a funny little book to thumb through when you're bored.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ergo Proxy

Ergo Proxy is another show that has some cool ideas but doesn't quite live up to its potential. It tells the confusing story of a future where Earth has become sparse and people live in domes protecting them from the harsh environment. There are monsters called Proxies around, and the story is about the truth behind their existence. It starts fairly promisingly with some stylized action scenes showing off the Proxies' power, but that happens less often as the show goes a different route. At first I didn't like Vincent, who seemed like an annoying plot-device character. It soon became clear he was a protagonist along with Lil, and he developed into someone more tolerable. I don't get Lil's eye shadow, but she's a decent heroine. There's also Pino, the adorable infected android who accompanies them and adds a lot of humor to the series which can otherwise get a little monotonous.

The story is pretty interesting, although I wasn't a huge fan of how it was generally presented. There's a lot, and I mean a lot of dream sequences, introspection, mind games, and any other explanation you can think of to provide justification for confusing, brain teasing episodes that slowly reveal plot details while messing with the viewer's heads. None of them are really bad, it's just that kind of thing takes up so much of the show that you have to wonder how much time they spent working on kooky fantasies instead of making sure the show's story structure was solid. The pacing is a little off, with a lot of the aforementioned trickery and filler before it ends a little abruptly. I get the feeling the creators liked Evangelion and were influenced by it pretty heavily. There's nothing wrong with having a show that's a little out there, but I thought they spent too much time dabbling in that instead of elaborating on the world they came up with. I think it was a pretty decent show, but not what it could have been.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Game Update 5: PSN Demos

So I've played a bunch of game demos for the Playstation 3 through their online store, which is really a good way to let people know what's coming soon. Here are my brief thoughts on all of the ones I've played, with the note that it's not a judgment on the final game, just whether I liked the demo.

Bladestorm - I don't get it, it looks like it should be a third person hack-and-slash with troops at your disposal, but all you can do is command them with no attacks of your own.

Clive Barker's Jericho - The visual style and premise is kind of cool, but the basic shooting gameplay isn't that fun and I'm tired of timed button presses.

Conan - There's some hilarious over-the-top violence, but the game itself looks and plays horribly.

Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM - Combine two of the most-milked franchises from Japan to create something that's not very interesting or fun.

Folklore - A little linear in design, but it looks nice and it's fun to yank out souls.

Genji: Days of the Blade - I liked the demo of the original PS2 game, but the basic hack-and-slash just feels off. Also, GIANT ENEMY CRAB.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - I couldn't find very much actual gameplay in the limited time I had, just magically moving around benches and playing a marble game.

Heavenly Sword - Pretty awesome looking, not a fan of the timed button presses again but the sword combat is fun.

Major League Baseball 2K7 - Hitting is too hard, but I like baseball.

Motorstorm - I don't play many racing games but this one seemed pretty fun.

Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction - I love the PS2 games, and this convinced me quickly they're going back to the greatness that was the series pre-Deadlocked.

Resistance: Fall of Man - I didn't like it at first, I'm not a fan of the slow-moving bullets and the apparent difficulty, but after skipping the first level, I got through the second and then went back and beat the first. Good looking, fairly fun shooting.

The Simpsons Game - For a game that makes fun of stupid game design, they shouldn't use it as a crutch so much. Not funny, either.

Skate - I love this, for some reason. The complex controls make it much more satisfying and believable when you pull off something cool, and video editing is nice.

Stranglehold - Completely over the top, basically Max Payne on speed. Lots of fun shooting and doing ridiculous things in slow motion.

Tom Clancy's GRAW 2 - Tactical shooters don't interest me much, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

Tony Hawk's Proving Ground - The basic play mechanics are still pretty good, but after Skate, they just seem less compelling. Also, the writing, animation, and voice acting in the cutscenes were all terrible.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Episode Two continues the story from the previous games, pushing the narrative forward in ways it hasn't been before. For it's time, the original game was pretty impressive in its immersion but now is very limited and a bit simple. The sequel took huge steps forward in presentation and upped the ante quite a bit with consistent characters, but was still a little basic. The first episodic expansion really raised the bar with its development of Alyx as a believable and likable character, and she's maybe the best ever in a video game. This game takes big steps forward in adding intrigue and surprises to the plot, with more than one shocking moment. It's still not as smooth as a good movie, as plenty of little things can break the illusion, but it's still quite a feat for the medium.

What really matters is the gameplay and not the story though, and Half-Life still excels in this area. Valve hasn't added a new weapon since 2, but that's not the only way you can mix things up. They've added a couple new enemies that require brand new combat tactics, including one that's especially interesting, the Hunters. They announce their presence in dramatic fashion and are a very intimidating foe while still being beatable. They do get annoying in the final climax when they prevent you from accomplishing your goal, but are still pretty cool. The balance between combat and puzzle-solving is still fantastic, as you never spend too much time on a specific kind of experience. It's a lot of fun just cruising from location to location in the new vehicle, seeing what there is to see, before the next big battle happens. The Vortigaunts are given a spotlight in the second episode, and they make a pretty effective and intriguing ally. The added achievements maybe caused me to spend too much time playing in a specific way to unlock them, but they still add some satisfaction to your progression. The last big battle is one of the best designed large combat sequences I've ever played, that combines the skills of driving, Hunter combat, gravity gun use, and precise aiming in a way that is exhilarating while maintaining a manageable difficulty. As part of the high-value Orange Box, it's something truly worth seeing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


One third of the new content in the Orange Box, Portal is too short to be worth the price by itself, but it's one of the most inventive and enjoyable games in a long time for the few hours it lasts. It has a simple setup; you're a test subject being evaluated as you solve puzzles using an experimental weapon that can create a portal between two different places. At first you can only create one end of the link, but before long you can set both locations as you use them to redirect energy balls, cross pits and fling yourself over obstacles. It's a bit mind-twisting at first, but it doesn't take long for you to get familiar with the logic behind it and understand how it works as simply as any other game mechanic. As you go on, the environment gets more dangerous (including turrets that are both deadly yet cute) and the puzzles require more thought to navigate. It climaxes very well with a final encounter that tests everything you learned in a tense situation. It's cool how they were basically able to have a final "boss" without resorting to giving you actual weapons besides the portal gun. They do a good job of shifting between simple but pressurized puzzles and more cerebral ones, preventing your brain from getting tired with the same thing over and over.

You can't talk about Portal without mentioning GLaDOS. She's the artificial intelligence that monitors your progress and tells you what's happening as you work your way through the lab. She seems nice at first, but it isn't long before you realize something sinister's going on. Her voice acting and dialogue is hilarious, and the game's great writing and presentation is half of why it's so good. Few games are actually laugh-out-loud funny, but Portal is one of them. The fact that something horrible is happening becomes more and more obvious, and it's all dark in a very silly way. The line "The Cake is a Lie" is already embedded in the collective consciousness of everyone who's played it. There's also a very memorable and funny song in the end credits that keeps it going. The ending is a cliffhanger and they've already tied Aperture (the company whose laboratory you're running around in) into Half-Life's story, so I wonder how the future of Portal will pan out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation

I can guess that this was very innovative at the time, and a big step forward for that kind of post-punk sound. It holds up well, and is definitely a good album, I just have a hard time really getting into it. The production's a little lo-fi by today's standards, and I think there's an overall lack of polish. Some people may like that, which is fine, I just like music crafted with a little more care. It's a little too long for the amount of ideas it has, and can seem like just a lot of detuned guitars prattling together. It all sounds pretty good, but not much of it really demands my full attention. It's totally fine to have on in the background when you're doing something else, but I can't really see myself dedicating too much of my spare time to it. Not to belittle the album, though. There's plenty to like about it.

"Teen Age Riot" is a nice catchy opener, despite being almost seven minutes in length. "The Sprawl" is the first song featuring the female vocalist, and is pretty nice until the two minutes of feedback at the end. I think the whole record would be better if it was just tightened up quite a bit. "Cross the Breeze" is one of the most enjoyable on the album with a hard, frenetic pace. "Total Trash" is an interesting song with a melody that breaks down and comes to a halt as it goes on. "Kissability" is the shortest actual song at barely over three minutes, and pretty enjoyable. "Trilogy" is a three part epic that starts hard and fast, slows down for a while, and then picks up again for the finish. It kind of encapsulates the entire album, interesting in parts but a little too long for its own good.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Radiohead - Amnesiac

Amnesiac was recorded in the same sessions as Kid A, which is considered by most fans and critics to be the superior album. I agree that it's more cohesive and flows better as a united work, but I don't think the music itself is really noticeably better. They're both pretty good alternative albums with heavy electronic elements. Kid A has more truly standout tracks, but there's plenty to like about Amnesiac. There's a lot of catchy parts and great moments, and of course plenty of weirdness. A lot of the songs on Amnesiac are actually more like actual songs than on Kid A, with more palatable structures and more traditional instruments. I don't think what Radiohead's become is as interesting as what they used to be in the mid-90's, but their work since the turn of the millennium is still pretty good.

"Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box" starts things off with a nice mellow sound and pleasant beeps and bloops. "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors" has odd computerized vocals and minimal but compelling instrumentation. "I Might Be Wrong" has a good guitar riff going for it, although it does get a bit repetitive. It's followed by another less artificial song, "Knives Out". The next song is "Morning Bell/Amnesiac", another version of a track that originally appeared on Kid A. It's different enough to be interesting although it doesn't branch too far from the original. "Dollars & Cents" is easily the creepiest and most unnerving song on the album. "Like Spinning Plates" is unique sounding with the reversed effect and has a cool atmosphere. "Life in a Glass House" ends the record with a departure for the band, as hard as that is. It has a heavy jazz influence but doesn't seem too out of place. Radiohead is able to maintain an identity as an artist despite the fact that most of their albums can sound quite different.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Deftones - Adrenaline

I've mentioned previously how Deftones was regarded as nu-metal despite being generally much more interesting than the usual band with that label. But White Pony was their third album, while Adrenaline is their first. It still has its moments and is pretty decent for a debut, but there's clearly much work to be done to get their sound to where it ends up. A lot of the songs sound pretty similar and lack the subtle touches that give them a little more quality. It really is basically nu-metal. It's not bad, and pretty good for the subgenre. But this is definitely a band that benefited from stretching out a bit creatively.

The guitar part in "Bored" is a bit typical, but contrasts well with the voice of the singer, which I think is a huge part of their appeal to me. Even though a lot of the songs don't have a whole lot going for them, they still show some potential for the future with extended softer sections, and the rise and fall of tension is handled fairly well throughout. "7 Words" is one of the more aggressive, with a chorus consisting mostly of one word being shouted repeatedly, but it works pretty well. "Fireal" is a very deliberately paced song, and is more interesting for it, as the drawn out buildup makes the whole thing seem more epic and satisfying. "Fist" is a slightly different kind of song, it still has some anger behind it but still has a more mellow feel to it. It's a bit more passively unnerving. Adrenaline isn't bad but shows definite room for the band's improvement.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Beck - Odelay

Beck's a pretty eclectic artist. He raps, sings, does folky songs, rock, and a lot of weird stuff. He samples a bunch of artists on Odelay, and puts all the sounds together to create an album that is both wide ranging and still cohesive in the unique sum of its parts. There are a variety of instruments used and no song sounds much like any other. I don't know how much of it can really be attributed to Beck and how much credit you really have to give to the original artists he borrows from so heavily, which is part of the reason I'm not totally huge on it. Even if he's not responsible for some of the music though, he still put it all together, made plenty of instrumentation on his own, and did all the vocal stuff. The songs are transformed to fit into his style, so it's not just like he took a riff he liked and sang or rapped over it.

The album starts with a great guitar part and trademark repetitive-yet-catchy chorus in "Devil's Haircut". The next track, "Hotwax" has an odd mix of country guitar and electronic scratching. "The New Pollution" is a nice song with some eccentric noises and a smooth sax part sprinkled in. "Novacane" tricks you into thinking it's going to be mellow before busting into the cooler, hard center of the song. "Where It's At" is the single everyone knows, a pretty enjoyable rap-heavy song. "Minus" is probably the fastest-paced song, and a pretty good one. "High 5 (Rock the Catskills)" is one of the stranger tracks, and fairly wandering. "Ramshackle" is another acoustic, slower song to cap off the album in fine form. There isn't that much about Odelay that's truly amazing, but it's a completely solid and enjoyable record the whole way through.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Well, that's the season. The Yankees, try as they might, were again eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, after four games. They were looking good in Game 2. And Pettitte had a tremendous, gutsy game. They hadn't scored much, but they were leading Cleveland 1-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth, and Joba was on for a second inning after shutting down the Indians for two outs in the seventh. But something had started previously that was now becoming a big problem... lots and lots of bugs. Midges apparently, they had settled on to the field after the wind had died down and they were everywhere. The Yankee fielders tried using bug spray but it didn't work. Joba's neck and face were covered with them, and it obviously got to him, as he allowed the tying run to score without giving up a hit, just a lot of wild pitches, hit batters, and walks. The offense continued to do nothing until Vizcaino gave up the walkoff in extra innings.

Game 3 started as poorly as Game 2 ended, as Roger Clemens, getting no help from Derek Jeter's phantom error, gave up runs and was visibly uncomfortable on the mound. He was removed in the third inning and replaced by Phil Hughes, who delivered a great performance. He allowed his inherited runner to score on a wild pitch and a bloop double, but shut down the Indians for the next three innings, striking out four. He kept his team in the game until Johnny Damon delivered a go-ahead home run. Joba relieved him in the seventh and seemed to tire before finishing the eighth, and then Mariano closed it in the ninth. Phil was awesome, becoming the youngest Yankee to ever earn a postseason win. Joba was surprisingly human after his incredible regular season, and he shouldn't have let the bugs get to him. But he's not why they lost the series.

Joe Torre, managing what is now likely his last game, decided to start Chien-Ming Wang on short rest for Game 4, despite his poor showing in Game 1. It didn't pay off, as he allowed two runs in the first and loaded the bases in the second before being relieved by the originally intended starter, Mike Mussina. Mussina was decent in reprising Phil's role from the day prior, but not good enough. Cleveland got six runs off the pair, and despite late home runs by Cano, Abreu, and Rodriguez, they ended up losing the game. The Yankees lost because Cleveland got hits when it was needed and New York didn't. The Indians had 12 hits with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, the Yankees had 1. And that's pretty much all you have to know. Derek Jeter grounded into three rally-killing double plays, and Jorge Posada continually struck out with men on base. Alex wasn't great, and will get a lot of blame for this, but he was definitely better than them. He managed four hits in the last two games, but they'll say it wasn't enough, too little too late. There's a strong possibility he and several others won't be on the team next year. He's an amazing hitter, and his offense from third base is simply not replaceable. If he does go to another city, I wish him luck in a place with a local media that's slightly less insane. 2008 could end up a rebuilding year with three promising pitchers 23 or younger in the rotation, but it should be fun regardless of who's still around.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Perfect Blue

I've only seen one movie directed by David Lynch, Mulholland Drive. But if that's fairly representative of his work, then I imagine that Perfect Blue is pretty much exactly what would happen if he made an anime.

Satoshi Kon's directorial debut was created in the 90's, and it shows a bit. The quality of the actual animation is pretty good, but there's some inconsistencies in the art and a lot of obvious production mistakes, mostly in the beginning. The creativity and intelligence of the work comes through despite some mistakes, making for an intriguing and often disturbing film. It stars Mima, a young pop singer who leaves her group to pursue an acting career. This angers a fan who starts threatening and stalking her. As it goes on, something happens which causes her to begin breaking down mentally, as her life and the movie she's working on become hard to distinguish and she's tormented by a vision of her past self, still dressed as a pop star. The longer it goes, the more confusing it becomes, which can be a little annoying but also effectively conveys what the character must be feeling.

It's a pretty mature movie, as her work becomes pretty adult oriented and the murders start happening, one being particularly brutal. It might seem a little over the top, but I think it fits the tone of the story pretty well. It really tries to get inside the head of someone who's scared for her life and not sure what's real anymore. What's actually happening takes a little mental capacity to figure out, but the ending is suitably climactic and satisfying. There's genuine tension as it unfolds, while the truth slowly dawns on the viewer at the same time. It has a few issues, but it's a good story.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Liveblog 8: ALDS Game 1

Playoffs! The Yankees couldn't catch Boston in the end, but they still played well enough to grab the wildcard. Boston picked the 8 game series, leaving the Yankees playing their first game today in Cleveland. The Yanks killed the Indians this season, but they didn't have to face their ace, CC Sabathia, who's starting tonight. Chien-Ming Wang is making his second consecutive Game 1 start in the playoffs, and hoepfully he can overcome his road woes and pitch well enough to give his team a shot. The big story is going to be if A-Rod can finally get it done in the playoffs. Apparently it doesn't matter that he's the biggest reason they're there, if he has a bad few games and they get bounced in the LDS again, he's a choker. I hate the media. I'm not terribly confident for this series with two geezers pitching in Game 3 and 4 (if that one happens), but I'm very hopeful. So let's go with the liveblog.

Top 1 - Damon leads off against Sabathia. He has bad career numbers against the Yankees, but he hasn't seen them since 2004 and has rounded into a Cy Young favorite this season. Damon works a 3-1 count before smacking a ball JUST foul down the right field line. Or was it? The umpires reconvene and call it a home run! I'd like to see a replay, but they don't seem to have a good angle. They of course bring up the discussion about instant replay in baseball. Most against a change can only cite the "human element" of having umpires make the calls, but I don't see why tradition is more valuable than being correct. If nothing else, they should be definitively right or wrong on home run calls. Jeter works a 2-2 count before popping up. Despite the vast weight difference, CC reminds me of Randy Johnson; big, tall left-hander with mid-nineties heat, good control, and a good slider. Abreu does his thing by drawing a walk. Apparently Froemming isn't giving that outside corner just yet. A-Rod draws a walk as well. They're following their game plan to the letter - make CC work for every out. He has 24 pitches already. He throws two balls to Posada before striking him out with three more pitches. Matsui up with two outs. Froemming starts giving that corner, two called strikes. Matsui grounds out weakly to end it. Would have liked more runs, but they did work CC for 33 pitches.

Bottom 1 - Wang hits Sizemore with his first pitch. Terrific. Cabrera smacks a grounder to Jeter who turns the double play easily. Actually terrific. I didn't liveblog any of Wang's starts this year and I don't talk about him much, but he might be my favorite Yankee at the moment, although my man-crush on Phil Hughes is challenging that. He's a hard worker, doesn't complain, seems friendly and composed, and gets the job done. Wins are an overrated statistic for pitchers, but it's still impressive he's won 38 games in his first two full seasons. I don't think he has the dominance in him to be a true ace, but he's definitely the team's number one starter right now and should be a good workhorse for a long time. Hafner's already seen more than twice as many pitches as the first two batters combined. He walks. Martinez hits a single. Without Posada, he'd be the best catcher in the league. Garko lines a single up the middle, and Hafner scores easily. Wang hung a slider, even though Mr. Gwynn called it an elevated sinker. The sinker's 95 Tony, not 85. Full count to Peralta. This inning would be a disaster without those first two outs on three pitches. It's still pretty bad anyway. Peralta walks, bases loaded for Kenny Lofton. If he gets a hit, I might just kill myself right now. He gets a single, driving in two, but Peralta is picked off on the bases to end the inning. This is why sometimes it's good to be able to get strikeouts. 3-1 Indians.

Top 2 - That was very bad, but there's still plenty of time. Cano walks on four pitches from Sabathia, which is hard to believe. Seriously, why are there outfield umpires if they can't make those calls? Froemming saw Damon's home run clear as day in the first, but the guy who's entire job it is to see it missed it. Cabrera pops up, which is much easier to believe. Eye Chart's up. He pops up as well. Damon works it 2-2, but Cano is thrown out easily attempting to steal. Not sure why they tried that, he's not fast at all. Just throwing away outs early. At least CC has 49 pitches already.

Bottom 2 - Gutierrez pops out to A-Rod. Wang strikes out Blake on four pitches, back to the top of the order. Sizemore singles, but gets caught stealing on the next pitch. That was better. I'm going to grab some food.

Top 3 - While I was gone, CC struck out Damon and Jeter before walking Abreu again, but then A-Rod popped out the first pitch. What a choker! 68 pitches. At least they're doing well on that front.

Bottom 3 - Cabrera clubs a home run to right-center after starting 0-2. Crap. Pronk grounds out weakly. Martinez flies out in similar fashion. Garko flares a duck-fart single. Peralta flies out to left, and the Yankees need to start hitting now.

Top 4 - Posada loops a liner to right for an out on the second pitch. That's not getting it done. Froemming's definitely giving that outside corner now. Matsui K's on 3 pitches. Also not getting it done. Cano hits a dinger, two run ball game. That's how you get it DONE. Cabrera pops out again because he's not a very good hitter. 80 pitches. The count doesn't matter as much any more, he's gonna get enough rope to go two more innings and get to Cleveland's two dominant Rafaels. Unless they light him up, which would just be fantastic.

Bottom 4 - Lofton pops out. He walks Gutierrez, bringing Blake to the plate, who grounds to Alex who gets the out at second. Wang strikes out Sizemore looking, and we're on to the fifth.

Top 5 - Shelley Duncan leads off, taking over for Mientkiewicz. Apparently the old ankle injury he aggravated earlier today has caught up with him. Duncan works the count full before smacking a single. He's pretty awesome, I have to say. I don't see how he stayed in the minors until age 27 before getting a chance. CC stays outside on Damon and walks him. Five walks tonight, very uncharacteristic for him. It's probably nerves. The Yankees should knock him out in this inning. Sweep the leg. Jeter flies out harmlessly to right, but CC has 99 pitches now. Abreu swings at the first pitch, which is surprising, but lines it for a double the other way, a run scores, and here's a big spot for A-Rod - runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. They walk him intentionally. If someone says he didn't get the job done, I'm gonna punch them in the mouth. Bases loaded for Posada. The first three pitches are balls. The next two are strikes. He gets him swinging. HUGE out. Now a long fly ball doesn't tie the game. This would be a good time for Matsui's first hit against Sabathia. He pops out to Peralta. God damn it.

Bottom 5 - That could be the difference in the game and the series - tying run on third base with one out and they don't get it done. Wang has to hold down the fort. Unfortunately he walks Cabrera. Hafner flies out to center. Victor Martinez hits a two run homer. Wang is not getting it done at all. Garko grounds out to second. Peralta bloops a double to short right field. Fact: this is the most annoying hit in all of baseball. Lofton with another single, and a run scores, exacerbating the irritating nature of the dreaded bloop double. 7-3, Indians. Wang's night is over, and he'll be lucky if his season isn't. Ross Ohlendorf is coming in to put out the fire. Or so we hope. Unfortunately he walks Gutierrez after Lofton steals second. You have a fastball, Ross, it's okay to use it. Blake doubles down the line to score two runs. The commentators are going back to Jeter's at bat, thinking that if he had bunted instead of swinging away, they would have tied the game on Abreu's double. I guess they're ignoring that the Yankees have given up 5 runs this inning. Sizemore pops out, but the game is over. No way the bullpen blows this. I'll watch the rest of the game, but I'm done typing up everything that happens. Hopefully Pettitte can do well tomorrow and the Yankees can head back to New York with a split. Back later with the wrap-up.

Wrap-up - The Yankees managed nothing in the rest of their at bats, losing 12-3. It was a damned if he does, damned if he doesn't situation for A-Rod. He didn't get any hits so he'll probably get criticized again, but if he had it would have been dismissed as meaningless stat padding. Never mind that he was intentionally walked in his only high-leverage at bat, he can't win until he does something really big. Ohlendorf struggled as he started the next inning, and had to be relieved by Veras who finished it. Phil Hughes pitched two innings, which is annoying, because it seems like his talent was being wasted in a game that was already over. Besides another solo home run, he looked pretty sharp, commanding his pitches well and getting two strikeouts. I guess he could still pitch in a meaningful game this series, but I wouldn't count on it with Joe managing. Wedge made a couple questionable moves too, throwing his two best relievers a total of three innings with the game already in hand. We'll see if that's a factor tomorrow.