Thursday, May 26, 2022

Baseball Review //
Wallingford Cardinals, 5
Record-Journal Expos, 7
May 24th, 2022
Ceppa Field, Meriden, CT


Official Box Score here :::

Additional Photos here :::

On Tuesday night the GHTBL had its third game of the season and the first of the season for the Record-Journal Expos as well as the first overall for the Wallingford Cardinals.  Online the schedule said this game would start at 6:30pm but it actually started- I believe- at 6:00pm.  I almost went to Ceppa Field at 6:00pm because that's when the Spotlight Hour starts in Pokemon Go and I figured I'd just catch all the Seels while I'm there but instead I opted to catch some Seels at home first so I got to Ceppa around 6:15.   My uncle also said that the night before there was the heated Meriden rivalry game of Platt vs Maloney and he was there so he found out the lights didn't work, which was likely the reason for pushing the start time back.

Confused as I might be as to when the game started and how much of it I actually missed, I do know that I saw AJ Hendrickson hit back to back doubles during this game, scoring two runs the first time and an additional run on the second one.   I also saw the Cardinals do that old switcheroo steal to score a run where they have runners on first and third and when the runner goes from first to second the other runner goes from third to home.   There were a number of great plays during this game defensively as well, with both teams making that extra effort to save runs.

While this was the first game of the season, I always like to think about what it could spell for the rest of the season.  The Expos seemed to start off a little rough with the pitching, but then they settled in and whether that becomes an all season thing or not doesn't matter because giving up a run or two isn't a big deal as long as you then get into your groove and shut them down offensively as well as score your own runs.   And just from this first game- compared to last season- that's one factor which I feel has improved for the Expos.  They have been swinging and not at bad pitches.

Sometimes you make contact with the ball and the second baseman catches it and throws you out at first.   But sometimes that ball soars past the shortstop and second baseman and you get a hit.   These are both the types of things that the Expos were doing offensively, but they were getting more hits than outs.  That really was the difference here between the Expos and Cardinals- just making contact and getting the ball out there.  Sometimes the center fielder catches it, sometimes it drops behind him and the left fielder.   But you don't have those options if you're not hitting, if you're not making contact with the ball.

As the game went on, Justin Marks settled in as pitcher while eventually AJ Hendrickson also took over and the amount of strikeouts thrown was really a difference maker as well because it limited the scoring of the Cardinals.  The Expos did exactly what needed to be done to win the game: score and keep the other team from scoring.   If they can keep this up all season, it will be a good sign of things to come.

This year, the GHTBL has each team facing each other three times and though the Expos have won their only game this week, after Memorial Day they have two home games scheduled as well as their first away game at Muzzy Field against the Bristol (not really) Greeners.   The two home games are against the Phillies on Tuesday and Championship Jets on Friday, so those will definitely be some tough tests and just all around great baseball games.  

Preview: Pro Wrestling GRIND presents "Come And Get It" (5/27)

While things are heating up for the title picture in Pro Wrestling GRIND, this is their sixth show and so a lot of the roster is really shaping up in their wins and losses.  If wins and losses are any indication of how a title tournament might go, then right now it might be expected that Logan Black and Rip Byson would meet in the finals and what a match that would be.   This also seems to be the show where wrestlers from two shows ago (except for BEEF :() come back and try to avenge their losses.    We have debuts, we have returns, we have the usual suspects, so come and get it!

Shook Crew vs Team All-Japan

The Shook Crew as a tag team- Bobby Orlando and Bryce Donovan- are 0-1 in GRIND, with a loss to The Mane Event.   Dante Drago is making his GRIND debut and though he usually tags with Jack Tomlinson as VBU, that can be to the advantage of the teamwork that this expanded Shook Crew will need to defeat Team All-Japan.   The Saito Brothers are 1-1 in GRIND.  Though they also suffered a loss to The Mane Event, they picked up a win last month over The Work Horsemen.  Jay Freddie, however, is 2-2 with losses to Rip Byson and most recently Perry Von Vicious, which will be a theme among this show.   

While Team All-Japan will likely look to utilize their power and teamwork, Shook Crew are no strangers to each other and can use their teamwork just as well as their speed and high-flying ability.   The fact that Dante Drago might not be on the same page as Bobby and Bryce might be the deciding factor in this match.   But this is the first ever trios match in GRIND history and it looks to be pure chaos.   Hopefully they enlist the power of two referees.

Travis Huckabee (3-1) vs Ryan Mooney (2-1)

At "Antisocial", I said to Ryan Mooney that I'd like to see him face either Travis Huckabee or Cabana Man Dan.   Someone must have overheard me because this match is going to be a classic and could quite possibly steal the entire show- which says a lot about it when you consider the card on a whole.    Travis Huckabee enters this match with only one loss- to Rip Byson- and Ryan Mooney also only has one loss- to Alec Price.   Both of these wrestlers started their journeys in GRIND with a loss and have since picked up wins and been unstoppable.

Travis Huckabee has wins over Myung Jae Lee, Perry Von Vicious (in a true Match of the Year candidate) and most recently Mike Skyros.   Ryan Mooney has picked up recent victories over Gary Jay and Channing Thomas.   I'm not sure either competitor really has an advantage at this point because as technically sound as Travis Huckabee is (and Huckabee ranks amongst the best), Ryan Mooney is just that scrappy and will do what needs to be done to win.  This is going to feel a lot like a match where both of these wrestlers are undefeated and someone will be handed their first loss.   This has that big fight feel for sure.  

Willow Nightingale (0-1) vs Brooke Valentine (NA)

Willow Nightingale made her debut for GRIND back at "Price Of A Mile" with a loss to Delmi Exo.   Brooke Valentine is making her GRIND debut here and this should be an interesting matchup as Thick and Juicy 2.0 explode!  The one thing that needs to be stated about GRIND is that they bring out this different side of wrestlers than any other promotion does.   What you might be used to seeing from Willow Nightingale in Beyond Wrestling, AEW, MLW, etc is not the same Willow Nightingale we saw take on Delmi Exo.   

During this match, Brooke Valentine will likely have that toughness brought out as well.   Wrestlers, by nature, are tough- I think it just takes getting into that GRIND ring and feeling like you're fighting for survival to really bring it out in a lot of ways.   This match also has those stakes of Willow Nightingale wanting to avenge the loss from her debut and not sink to 0-2, but yet Brooke Valentine also wants to debut with a win so it's going to be very tooth and nail here.  

Logan Black (4-0) vs Manders (0-1)

Logan Black is the only wrestler who is undefeated with four wins and the only wrestler higher in the rankings than him would be Rip Byson, who is 5-0.   The only show Logan Black was not on was "You Better Run", the second show, and you have to wonder if he was whether or not he'd also be 5-0.    Logan Black has really just been having some of the toughest matches of his career here in GRIND, with wins over Merc, Ryan Galeone (I miss him!), O'Shay Edwards and most recently Joseph Alexander.

The thing which all of those opponents that Logan Black has faced have in common is that they are all bring something different to the table.   Logan Black has survived the veteran Merc, who is tactical and brought a hardcore brawl to the first show.   But there is also that power and high-flying of Ryan Galeone, the strength and size of O'Shay Edwards and the youth and technical savvy of Joseph Alexander.    

Manders brings something different to this match than any of Logan Black's previous opponents as well, but Logan Black just seems like he can adapt so well that this could be an uphill battle for Manders.   Manders is 0-1 in GRIND though and will likely be looking to avenge that loss to Jay Freddie and not go 0-2.   This is going to be that pure battle of will power and who is going to be able to stay down for the three count first because that just doesn't seem like something either competitor is capable of doing.

Delmi Exo (2-0) vs Jody Threat (NA)

It's always interesting how many wrestlers debut for GRIND and seem to have their first match as a loss because perhaps they are not fully prepared for what awaits them.  Delmi Exo is now 2-0 with wins over Willow Nightingale and Anthony Greene.    That experience inside of a GRIND ring should help Delmi Exo, though Jody Threat is making her GRIND debut and no one ever wants to lose in their debut.

While Delmi Exo really seems to be perfecting this power-based style of technical wrestling, the fact that Jody Threat can just hit you from any angle at any time and use her own body as a weapon is what makes her so dangerous.   This match very much feels like Delmi Exo is going to come in with a game plan and try to win by going by the book, while Jody Threat just offers up this unpredictability that very well might be the key to victory.

Perry Von Vicious (4-1) vs O'Shay Edwards (0-1)

When you consider two wrestlers who seem equal in size and strength, it's difficult to get a better match up than Perry Von Vicious vs O'Shay Edwards.  The idea behind Perry Von Vicious is that he is a Monster Truck and yet O'Shay Edwards is The Big Bad Kaiju, which is also a form of a monster.    If this makes you wonder whether monster trucks and kaiju have ever crossed over before the answer is yes (and it's quite fun to look into should you feel so inclined)

Perry Von Vicious has torn through the GRIND roster, both defeating names like Brandon Watts and Nolo Kitano while also defeating the mainstay Jay Freddie and perhaps toughest challenge in BEEF.   The only loss Perry Von Vicious right now is at the hands of Travis Huckabee in what was just a brutal Match of the Year contender.   O'Shay Edwards has only appeared in GRIND once and it was a loss to Logan Black, but Black is undefeated so there really is no shame in that.

I've always been a fan of wrestling through the 1980's and 1990's when it felt simpler in many ways.   It felt like someone out there didn't know what to do with Dan Spivey and Sid Vicious, so the two got teamed up as The Skyscrapers and even based on that name you have to assume that a lot of the reason why they were paired together was someone saying "You're both really tall".   Though I feel like a lot more thought went into this match and there is a lot more behind it (and at stake), I still like to just look at this match graphic and think "They're both so tall".

There was also that same time though when you had someone like Sid Vicious taking on The Undertaker you knew it was going to be a lot of chokeslams and powerbombs- power moves- because they were both such big guys.  I think that, as wrestling has evolved, this match is going to be a nice throwback to those days but also a bit more technical as both PVV and Edwards are known to leave their feet. 

Derek Neal (NA) vs Rip Byson (5-0)

There is, undoubtedly, a lot of great wrestlers coming out of the South and with Uncharted Territory taking place down there now it has given them a brighter spotlight to showcase just that.  If you're like me though, you enjoy and appreciate good wrestling regardless of the location and in GRIND Derek Neal will not be booed for being from the South but rather respected for his in ring abilities.   

While different names can come to mind when you think of the South, to me Derek Neal is the face of that scene in many ways.  Even in defeat, Neal has had high profile matches against Dominic Garrini and BEEF, but also has recent victories over Manders and Ashton Starr.   This can be said about a lot of the wrestlers from the South, but Derek Neal just has that look: Derek Neal is just built like a professional wrestler.

Unfortunately for Derek Neal, he is coming to GRIND to take on the only roster member who is 5-0 in Rip Byson.   People may not know enough about either of these wrestlers, but even if you feel comfortable with your knowledge of Rip Byson and Derek Neal matches, I don't think anything can quite prepare fans for the carnage which will take over the Pulaski Club.  As Rip Byson has wins over Travis Huckabee, Jay Freddie, WARHORSE, Brandon Williams and Kevin Ku, it certainly feels like if anyone is coming to make a statement and end the winning streak of Rip Byson that man would be named Derek Neal.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Music Review //
Aleksandra Takala
"In My Own Time"


The music of Aleksandra Takala is instrumental but it can feel like the soundtrack to a film and overall even without vocals these songs still feel connected and can tell a story.   What begins with acoustic guitar plucks makes me think about "Desperado", though it can also be a bit sensual.   This takes us into a world of magic and a lot of this album will stay there as well.  Even as the second song begins you can hear that flute and get that vibe of being at the RenFair.

Big strings come in with this powerful score.   It's classical, but it's also something else.   On "Helpless to Help" pianos come in to set the tone while "En Tiempo" has more of an X-Files/Stranger Things vibe with hypnotic loops.   A funky drive can be heard in "A Tribute to the People" while "Song of the Redwoods" makes me think even more about this being the soundtrack to a film such as "Lord of the Rings".

"Silva's Ride" has a sleeking way about it while drums bring up more magic in the final song, "Masada Overture", which comes in just over thirteen minutes and feels like the end to the story.  Even within the song titles themselves you can kind of see how this album feels like it's made up of little stories which when played together form one larger story.   While this could be heard in a movie at times I also imagine it being played by an orchestra while actors portray their roles on a stage for a play.

One of the best parts about music is when sound is able to create images for you.   This may or may not be an actual soundtrack but for someone to interpret it as such and create a series of music videos would be neat.  I imagine one video per song and then they would all link together to form a flowing visual.  But even if that part only remains in my mind, the audio on this is quite good and should be heard by anyone interested in taking a similar adventure.  

Music Review //
Ansa GaRangDengZhen (Zen)

This song is really all over the place.   There is this flute and feeling where it could be spiritual, but then it kicks into these beats and feels like it's going to turn into a dance as well.  While this might feel like a good idea on paper, it does so seemingly without thought as to what is happening- one hand doesn't seem to know what the other is doing, as the old saying goes.

The vocals range from one point of being high to another point of being much higher and they just sort of climb.  I'm not sure if this is done with an actual vocal range (I believe it is though) but it makes me think of something being autotuned as well, which is just not how anyone wants to think of anything I suppose.

Near the end this song just becomes something completely different with keys and it feels more like a mashup of several songs than just the one song that it is meant to be.  If Zen were to keep this song inside of one lane- such as a dance number with the beats- it could be rather enjoyable.  But the way in which this is presented makes it feel like snippets of different songs got mixed together on accident.

Even if this song could maintain that low key, spiritual vibe and have it build with keys to create beats, the fact that this vocal range starts off so high and just gets higher is not music to my ears.  I do not have a dog or know anyone who does, but if this was played around dogs I assume they would feel the pain in their ears that I feel when those really high notes are hit.   While this song has components which could make it easier to listen to, the execution just leaves a lot to be desired.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Baseball Review //
Harvard Crimson, 0
Yale Bulldogs, 1
May 14th, 2022
Bush Field, New Haven, CT
(Ivy League)

The official box score for this game can be found here :::

Photos can be found in a Facebook album located here :::

The final series of games for Yale Baseball had special strings attached to them.  Not only was the field finally being dedicated to George HW Bush- though it has been noted as such in Pokemon Go for quite some time now- there was also a special ceremony announced for the retirement of Coach John Stuper.  There are several reasons to experience Yale Baseball every season in person.  One is because admission is free.  Another is because where the games are played is incredibly nice and there isn't a bad seat in the house.  And an even better reason is because the players just have this different attitude and approach to the game of baseball than other colleges have and even the majors.

But one of the big reasons why we'd also been going to Yale Baseball when we can is because of Coach John Stuper, who is one of my all-time favorite players to play in MLB and not be a part of the New York Mets.   My fun fact about Coach Stuper is that not only did he pitch in the World Series (something not every pitcher in MLB can say) but he did so as a rookie, in Game 6 which tied the series 3-3 and then the Cardinals would also win Game 7 and become Champions that year.  This was also all done opposite Keith Hernandez at first base, who I enjoy as a Mets fan as well.

When we arrived at the Yale Baseball Field, a parking lot attendant type waved and instructed me to roll down my window.  He asked if we had reserved parking or not and considering that I had no idea what that meant- parking has always been free and on a first come first serve basis- I was then told to drive down a path and we ended up parking somewhat far away.   I assume this was done because of how many fans were there and the reserved parking was likely for staff/former players/family, but not me.

Once we got into the stadium a few of the sections near the Yale dugout were roped off and you had to go through security to get into them.  It looked like they were serving food (maybe even had a bar?) but that was, of course, for the VIPs again and not me.  I didn't care.  We went and got our seats near homeplate, but in the shade because it was so hot.  As a fast forward to the end of the game: When we left, there were cars parked on the field next to the stadium.  This was easily the most fans I've ever seen at a Yale Baseball game, but honestly, they should be bringing in this many fans for every game.

In between games they did the ceremonies, noting that they expected to have Marvin Bush there (?) but instead had an audio message from Jeb Bush.   The fact that George W Bush couldn't even be bothered to show up- when he had also attended Yale and played on the baseball team- shows how much of a priority this was.   But, we didn't come here to see the field be dedicated to George HW Bush.  We came to see the final game of Coach John Stuper.

The way that this game went was like a chess match.  In the second inning, Ben Metzner got on with a double.   Carson Swank grounded out, but moved Metzner to third.   Colton Shaw then hit a long shot to right field, which was caught for two outs, but it was enough to bring Metzner home.  That was the only run of the game and it felt a lot like playing small ball, rather than going for those big innings of homeruns and just power hitting.   It was smart, not being greedy and just the way that baseball should be played.  

But the defense also held their own- on both sides.  A 1-0 game can be broken open at almost any time because it'd only take two runs to get that lead.   The pitching match of Mike Walsh for Yale and Chris Clark for Harvard should be a bigger story here, as it was largely the reason why this game was held at 1-0.  

This game was a lot of fun- and suspense- and even though they played another after it and then a third in the series on Sunday, this felt like a good note to go out on so it was the final game of the Yale season for us.   It's crazy to think that Coach Stuper had been doing this for 30 years when it feels like most people out there today haven't even been alive that long.  (For reference: When John Stuper debuted in MLB I was only two years old, but a lot of people out there reading this probably weren't even born yet)

Quentin got this giant sign that is a photo of Coach Stuper, which they were handing out and then holding up during his speech.  We also found a table that was selling merchandise (the first time I'd ever seen such a thing there!) and they had two jersey type t-shirts: one for George HW Bush and one for John Stuper.  I asked how much they were and after the salesman told me, he also said he only had XXL left and I said that was fine.  It was funny though when he asked which one I wanted and I responded slightly offended that anyone would think I wanted a Bush jersey.

The final thing we did before we left was get a signature from John Stuper on the program.  While driving there, I had thought in hindsight how cool it would've been to print the image from this game onto an 11x17 sized poster and have it signed but I also didn't know where I'd put it as my wall space is so limited now.   The fact that it was the cover of the program felt like fate and with the help and patience of Mike Walsh, Quentin was able to get the autograph he was seeking and create a lifelong memory with a souvenir he can hold onto forever.

Music Review //
Ava Della Pietra
"my boyfriend"

The pop-driven song "my boyfriend" by Ava Della Pietra has an easy way of listening to the  music while at the same time telling a story about relationships.  While it could be taken from the title that the song is about a present relationship, such as with lyrics about the qualities of a current boyfriend, the way the overall song vibes is with lyrics about wanting someone to be your boyfriend and just having those thoughts of relationships.

Opening with the line "For the first time in my life I want a boyfriend" really sets the tone as this is a song which can be thought about not only by someone who is young and starting out in that world of dating but also for someone who is older and is either getting back into dating for whatever reason or just perhaps is nostalgic for those days and can see this in that way of being compared with when we were younger and inexperienced with love.

When listening to this song, I think about how when I was younger I'd really just get into a relationship and date someone simply if they liked me.  It was that easy.  But now that I'm older, I have that mentality of "You like me? Why? Something must be wrong with you".   I think we need more of that harsh judgment in our youth but also more of the carefree style in our older years, so finding that balance is what it's really all about with dating.  Maybe this song can inspire that in some people who are out there looking for love.

Through powerful vocals which at times can be layered, "my boyfriend" ends with the line: "Truth or truth do you like me / Dare or dare would you kiss me now".  This seems only fitting for not only the direct intent of the song but the way that I can view it as being older because when you're in those younger years playing Truth or Dare is very common, but it also happens to be a game which can stick with you as you're older but you play it a little bit differently.  Ava Della Pietra might not have planned on bridging the gap between dating in your youth and later in life, but it has happened here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Cassette Review //
Icarus Phoenix
"No tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell"
(Telos Tapes)

$10 // Edition of 50 //

When this second cassette by Icarus Phoenix begins, there is a sense of psych-acoustic rock before it fully kicks in and just begins rocking.   Throughout these songs several influences can be heard such as Ted Leo, Daniel Johnston, Nathan Leigh & The Crisis Actors and The Get Up Kids, but Icarus Phoenix has also just done a wonderful job at finding their own voice- through sound and lyrics- and showcasing that here.

If you can get into the style of rock music which I've compared this with then you should be good to listen and enjoy this cassette from start to finish.  It has that way about it where it isn't overly strong in any genre- where it's not like gangsta rap or metal- so it should have a sense of appeal to most music listeners.   However, this cassette also has strong lyrics which after an initial listen should be examined and perhaps certain lines can be taken to heart by you personally.

I really enjoy the song "Rivers" for all of its lyrics and specifically the line: "Who we are and what we have is enough".   We seem to exist in a world where we always want more and never seem satisfied so it's nice to have this sort of mantra which can help us to not feel that way so much.  This also really applies directly, within the context of the song, to the idea that sometimes you don't have to win over the entire world with your art but if you help one person- even if that person is you- then it's worth it.

As another example, "All the Same" has this great overall sense of lyrics but I pull out the one line of "We won't always be this young" and really think about it.  There are things that I want to do and I think back to when I was younger and staying out all night wouldn't bother me but now I'm more hesitant to do it.   At the same time, I know that ten or twenty years from now I'm going to likely have even less energy to go out and do things so I need to do them now while I'm still somewhat young.  And I enjoy that Icarus Phoenix has that overall idea of embracing life.