Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Super Bowl Prediction

Based on what I've seen this year, I do think the two best teams in the NFL will be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Since some early season ups and downs, the two teams have been red hot to close the season, combining to go 24-3 in that time-frame (including the playoffs). The Patriots offense has been one of the league's best since their early season struggles and the Seahawks defense, after not appearing to be quite as dominant in the early going, again established themselves as the best in the league toward the end of the year and in the playoffs. Speaking of the playoffs, these two teams both pulled off miraculous comebacks to get to the Super Bowl. New England was down two touchdowns to Baltimore in the second half before Tom Brady and the Patriots offense took over. Seattle's comeback against Green Bay in the NFC Championship game was even more miraculous. The defending Super Bowl champions turned the ball over 5 times in the game and trailed 19-7 until 2:09 was left in the 4th quarter. Somehow, some way, they managed to score 15 points in the final 2:09 to send the game into overtime, where they won with a touchdown on their first drive to cap the insane comeback.

The two match-ups that I think will be of the most importance are: 1) Rob Gronkowski vs. the Seahawks defense and 2) Marshawn Lynch vs. the Patriots defense. If Gronkowski is severely limited by the staunch Seahawks defense, then Tom Brady will have to look elsewhere - to other targets which have been less consistently reliable this season for him. On the other side of the ball, if Marshawn Lynch isn't a big factor in the game, it could be rough sledding for Seattle's offense. Two other things to watch out for in this game are: 1) New England's run game and 2) Russell Wilson extending plays. If New England can establish a decent ground game like they did against Indianapolis in the AFC Championship game, this will likely pay huge dividends in the passing game. Don't be surprised to see Bill Belichick and company attempt to go this route early in the game in order to hopefully open things up against Seattle's great secondary, the "Legion of Boom," and keep them off-balance. On the other side of the ball, as is often times the case, whether or not Russell Wilson is able to get away from pressure and make something out of nothing will likely play a decent-sized factor in the game's outcome.

When predicting the Super Bowl last year, I don't think I realized just how good Seattle's defense was. Like in baseball where I believe good pitching tends to beat good hitting, I often times hold that same belief in football with regard to good defenses beating good offenses. While I felt Seattle's defense was good, I just had a difficult time believing they were going to limit Peyton Manning and the record-breaking Denver Broncos offense enough to pull out the victory. Boy, was I ever wrong. From the first snap of the game for the Broncos, I thought to myself, "Okay, this isn't looking good... Is Seattle's defense really this good?" Apparently, yes they were, they still are, and even though New England's offense has really turned it around in the second half of the season, I'm having trouble making the same mistake twice and going with the great offense over the great defense. Tom Brady isn't the most mobile of quarterbacks (that's being nice) and unless the Pats are able to establish some semblance of a ground game, expect the Seahawks to bring the pressure and plenty of it. When Seattle has the ball, expect to see a much less erratic Russell Wilson. Until late in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship game, he was awful, he knows that, and he's going to want to follow his very worst game with his very best. Given all of that and the fact I think, no matter how much the team wants to deny it, deflategate has been a distraction for the Patriots, I'm going to go with the Seattle Seahawks in this one.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 23 New England Patriots 16

Week Record:

Overall Playoff Record: 7-3 (.700)

Regular Season Record: 163-92-1 (.639)

Overall Record: 170-95-1 (.642)

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCraigRozniecki?ref=hl


Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 16,054 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

https://twitter.com/CraigRozniecki


Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/rozzy81

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?type=&keyWords=craig+rozniecki&x=7&y=5&sitesearch=lulu.com&q=

The ten books I've written and released in the past 3 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_22?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=craig%20rozniecki%20kindle&sprefix=craig+rozniecki+kindle%2Caps%2C228&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acraig%20rozniecki%20kindle

Monday, January 26, 2015

John Kerry's Rockin' World Tour

Even though I happen to label myself as rather progressive or liberal, I still had to shake my head and laugh at the recent spectacle where John Kerry sat beside James Taylor in Paris, while Taylor sang the song, "You've Got a Friend." Yes, I'm sure that moment is what convinced all of France and Europe that the U.S. stands by our French brothers and sisters, especially following the recent tragic events in Paris.

In light of this international facepalm moment, it seems all but inevitable that John Kerry will travel to the following areas and sit beside the mentioned musicians, where they'll perform these songs:

Mexico: "I Don't Like the Drugs (But the Drugs Like Me)" by Marilyn Manson

Any country in Africa: "Africa" by Toto

Netherlands: "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin

Middle East (pretty much anywhere): "I'll Be There" by The Jackson 5 or Mariah Carey

Australia: "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John

India: "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer (EliZe did a cover version of it)

Ireland: "Why Don't We Get Drunk" by Jimmy Buffett

Canada: "War" by Edwin Starr (either Bruce Springsteen or Frankie Goes to Hollywood could fill in)

North Korea: "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" by Motley Crue

England: "I Thank You" by Sam & Dave (ZZ Top can do the cover)

Any Caribbean nation: "Two Tickets to Paradise" by Eddie Money

Cuba: "I Miss You" by The Rolling Stones

Russia: "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses?" by U2

China: "Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap" by AC/DC

Iceland: "Cold as Ice" by Foreigner

Israel: "Jesus He Knows Me" by Genesis

A stupid meme for the ages

A conservative acquaintance of mine posted a meme for the ages on Facebook yesterday, and even after trying to sleep it out of memory overnight, I still can't get it out of my mind. Yes, it's that ridiculous.

The meme stated, and I quote:

"Rich people stay rich by living like they're broke.. broke people stay broke by living like they're rich!"

Read that again, and again, and just one final time to try and let it fully sink in.

I was speechless upon reading this meme at first. Study after study shows that if a child is born into a poverty-stricken family in this country, the odds are he or she will be poor as an adult, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, if a child is born into a wealthy family, the odds are he or she will make decent money as an adult. Those with money are able to afford better education for their kids, better healthcare and more quality food, more opportunities in all areas, etc. If a family is really rich, this affords them even more opportunities as far as investments and taxes go (what are those tax loopholes again?). The poor don't have such opportunities. They aren't able to consistently provide their kids with good, healthy food, which leaves them more prone to obesity and other health problems. They aren't able to provide them with the quality of education in line with those from wealthier families. Often times, this education is limited to high school, because college tuition costs are too high. This, in turn, limits the "child's" job prospects after graduating high school. This isn't always the case, of course. There are exceptions. However, as far as odds are concerned, this is sadly how things are.

Looking at the meme from more of a sarcastic angle, it looks to be even more ridiculous than when going the common-sense route. Allow me to illustrate this point through some fictional dialogue.

Setting: On a rich person's yacht (yes, as opposed to a poor person's yacht)

Joseph Silver: "So, tell me, Mike, how did you stay rich all these years?"

Mike Koch: "You wanna know what the secret is, Joe?"

Silver: "Yes, of course, I think everyone does..."

Koch: "I simply live like I'm broke, always have and always will."

Silver: "Really? What about this yacht?"

Koch: "What do you mean?"

Silver: "Didn't it cost a lot of money?"

Koch: "Well, sure, but I mean, there are exceptions to what I'm saying, I guess..."

Silver: "...and what about your thirteen cars?"

Koch: "Well..."

Silver: "And your four houses?"

Koch: "You're missing the point, Joe..."

Silver: "I guess I am. So, what is your point exactly?"

Koch: "It's just like I said, I've stayed rich all these years by living broke."

Silver: "What does broke mean to you exactly?"

Koch: "Someone with about $50 million that only spends about $5 million or so here or there, until they get another several million."

Silver: "Oh, okay, well, I guess that makes sense then."

Koch: "You see? I told you! Now where are all my servants? I've been waiting at least five minutes for a manicure, pedicure, massage, a cocktail, and a cigar."

Silver: "Just like the broke people would do, right?"

Koch: "What?"

Silver: "Oh, nothing..."


Setting: In a poor man's trailer 

Billy-Joe Bloke: "I think I finally found the secret..."

William Blankly: "To what?"

Bloke: "The reason I've been broke all these years..."

Blankly: "Really? What is it?"

Bloke: "I've been trying to live like a rich man, you know?"

Blankly: "Not really, no..."

Bloke: "Oh, come on, William. I mean, this is the hottest trailer in this area. I have that '89 Cavalier that's still out there..."

Blankly: "But it doesn't work. You've had to take the city bus..."

Bloke: "Yeah, but still. I can't keep being so greedy and spending so much money."

Blankly: "But you hardly have any..."

Bloke: "I know, and it's because I spent it all!"

Blankly: "But you hardly had any to begin with..."

Bloke: "Don't patronize me, man... Look, I'm doing the best I can. I couldn't afford going to college..."

Blankly: "Because you live like a rich man..."

Bloke: "No! Stop it with this sarcasm!"

Blankly: "Look, bud, I love you and all, but I'm just not understanding where you're coming from with this whole 'I'm-broke-because-I-lived-like-I-was-rich' deal. I mean, for God's sake, you've been on welfare for how long now?"

Bloke: "So?!?"

Blankly: "So how many rich guys do you know that have been on welfare?"

Bloke: "Whatever... You just don't get it. I'm broke today because I tried living like I was rich; it's as simple as that."

Blankly: "Even though you were never rich to begin with?"

Bloke: "Yes"

Blankly: "Okay then... Hey, how about I take you to your all-time favorite store, The Dollar Store, and we can get a few things."

Bloke: "Thanks for the offer, but I can't afford it."

Blankly: "Come on, it'll be my treat. I want you to continue to live as rich as you always have by joining me at The Dollar Store..."


http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/youre-born-it-america

Friday, January 23, 2015

"The Nightly Show" with Larry Wilmore

When I heard that former Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore would be taking over for Stephen Colbert in the 11:30 (pm EST) slot following Jon Stewart's show on Comedy Central, I honestly didn't know what to think or expect. Wilmore was used rather sparingly on The Daily Show, typecast as the show's "black correspondent." So, how was one to really know what to expect of a Monday through Thursday half-hour show hosted by The Daily Show's black correspondent?

While we're just through the first week of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and I'm sure there will several tweaks made in the near and distant future, I'd have to say I'm rather impressed with the show in its early stages.

First off, if you were a die-hard fan of The Colbert Report like I was, try to erase that from memory when viewing this show in order to give it a fair chance. The Nightly Show is drastically different from The Colbert Report. It starts in a similar manner to Colbert's old show, as Wilmore introduces what will be talked about on the episode before breaking to the show's theme song. The Nightly Show then resembles The Daily Show as Wilmore talks about the main topic of the day, cracks some jokes about it, and sometimes introduces a comical guest to join him in the conversation. Following commercial break, Wilmore is joined by four guests at a round-table, and like on Bill Maher's old show, Politically Incorrect, Wilmore discusses the topic of the day with his four guests. The guests typically include at least one comedian and a journalist, along with a show contributor, a politician, and/or an actor. To this point, the guests have been more left-of-center than right-of-center in their ideologies, but conservative guests have appeared on the show. Following another commercial break, Wilmore then plays a game with his four guests, called "Keep It 100," which means, "Keep it 100% real." He asks the four guests some pretty outrageous, yet humorous questions, and forces them to make a difficult decision. If he and the audience feel the guest is being 100% honest, he rewards them with a "Keep It 100" sticker and the audience cheers (well, they usually cheer, unless they really hate the guest's opinion). If he and the audience think the guest is being less than 100% honest, then he hands them some weak tea and the audience boos. After one more commercial break, Wilmore is then asked a "Keep-It-100" question from a Twitter follower and goes through a similar process as his guests.

Overall, the show feels like a hybrid of The Daily Show and Politically Correct. Wilmore has typically been funny in the show's opening segment. The round-table discussions have been a mixed bag, as can be expected from such a format. However, there have been some funny lines thrown in by guests, as well as some interesting back-and-forths from differing viewpoints. The "Keep-It-100" segment may be my favorite part of the show to this point. One has to watch the segment to believe it. The guest's facial expressions when hearing their questions are pretty priceless.

Some of these very questions have been:

- "Are white people tired of black protests?" (asked to the only white guest on the show that day)

- "If Bill Cosby was with some ladies and asked you to join him at a party, would you?" (asked to somebody that seemed to think Cosby was innocent and the women were lying)

- "Knowing President Obama as well as you do, is there anything you could tell us which would seriously damage his reputation?" (asked to Obama's former speechwriter)

- "Was there any point during an interview with the president, where you thought to yourself, 'This guy is being kind of an a**hole'?" (asked to a journalist)

- "Being a Republican woman yourself, as the camera was on you during President Obama's speech where he was talking about equal pay for women, would you have remained seated like your Republican colleagues or stood up?"

If you couldn't tell from the small sample of questions I mentioned, Larry Wilmore has also done something else with his show that few others have, if any have at all - he's gone right after the race issue. Perhaps he can get away with it more since he's African-American himself and is not as uncomfortable or fearful of potential backlash from minority viewers if he discusses such matters in an open manner and even cracks a few jokes and throws a few jabs along the way. In any case, this country has said for a long time, "We need to have a long, healthy discussion about race," yet have simultaneously said, "But now's not the time." Wilmore has decided that now is the time, I happen to think he's right, and hope his show is able to jump-start a healthy dialogue about the touchy subject.

The Nightly Show is still in its very early stages, but to this point, I'm impressed by the show's set-up, how it's combined comedy with serious banter, and how, finally, a show has the cojones to discuss racial issues. Hopefully that doesn't decrease the shows viewers, helps make us more cognizant of these matters, and more willing to openly discuss them with others.

My Grade (through the first week): B+

Thursday, January 22, 2015

According to one music critic, Marilyn Manson just released a country album...

When reading a review of a film, a book, or an album, have you ever wondered to yourself, "Did this critic even read the book?" or "Did (s)he watch a different movie than I did?" This doesn't happen to me very often, but every now and again, I have to re-read the review and double-check to make sure I'm not on The Onion's homepage.

This very thing happened to me this morning, when I read a review of Marilyn Manson's new album, The Pale Emperor, by JC Macek III of PopMatters.

In this review, Mazek said the following things:

- "...Instead, the Marilyn Manson we hear on The Pale Emperor presents himself in the form of a slow and driving murky metal that brings in elements of dark blues rock and even alternative country..."

- "...The driving metallic Honky-tonk guitars give way to some trippy Ennie Morricone-esque spaghetti western-styled desert rock..."

- "...While the rest of the album does play with alternative country as a genre, 'Day 3' can scarcely be described as anything else..."

Yes, to one person in this world, music critic JC Mazek III, Marilyn Manson just released a country album, and no, I didn't find this review on The Onion's homepage.

In light of Mazek's review, expect him to say the following things at some point in his life:

- "Have you ever heard a better rapper than Elton John? I mean, seriously..."

- "Carole King sounded an awful lot like Barry White in that one album of her's."

- "The most powerful video in the career of Michael Jackson was for that song 'Red or Green.'"

- "When I think of Christian rock, the first band that comes to mind is Slayer."

- "Madonna's most controversial moment was when she placed full-sized motorcycle helmets on each of her breasts while performing on stage."

- "My favorite Red Hot Ghost Peppers song was probably 'Over the River and Through the Bridge.'"

- "Isn't it kind of ironic that Kurt Cocaine died of heroin?"

- "I always get Metallica mixed up with James Taylor when I hear them."

- "Prince was such a big dude, it's a wonder why he never played pro basketball."

- "The best album in the history of music has to be that Kevin Federline one."

http://www.popmatters.com/review/189822-marilyn-manson-the-pale-emperor/

Album Review: Marilyn Manson's "The Pale Emperor"

The musical life of a shock rocker can be typically summed up as an act that garners great short-term attention and success due to the controversy and with that, the intrigue that surrounds them, however, after this shock value loses its luster, the band quickly becomes a thing of the past. Fair or not, shock rockers then typically have a difficult time transitioning from shock rock musician to musician and being seen and critiqued on their musical talent rather than their on-stage persona.

This may have never been more the case than with Marilyn Manson. With MTV still playing music videos and the Internet not being too far along yet, when Marilyn Manson came out with the 1996 album Antichrist Svperstar, he ultimately crowned himself as the new king of shock rock. This continued through the band's 1998 album Mechanical Animals, when the band shifted from industrial metal to space rock. After the tragic Columbine shootings in April of '99, though, Manson was largely (and wrongly) blamed for the tragedy, and quickly went from proud shock rock king to a man hiding from the world. He fought back in 2000 with the release of the final album in the band's triptych. Holywood, but even though the album won critical acclaim, and with that, awards, sales were not nearly as strong as for the previous two albums, and it was thus the begin of his downturn. After this record, he's said that he lost the fire and motivation he had felt previously, and after the band's release of their 2003 album The Golden Age of Grotesque, it seemed the band was all but finished. Manson then went on to pursue writing, acting, directing, and most of all, painting. In 2007, however, perhaps prompted by a difficult breakup, Marilyn Manson decided to go back into music and released the album Eat Me, Drink Me. While the album received decent reviews, it was quite different from Manson's previous efforts, so long-time fans were initially lukewarm to it, and with reality television becoming seemingly ubiquitous, the Internet becoming the norm, and MTV forgetting what the "M" stood for anymore, it appeared as if Manson would have trouble winning over many new fans through the shock appeal that had been so effective previously. The band tried to instill a bit more of the old shock appeal through their 2009 album, The High End of Low, but as was seen through weak sales, what was shocking in 1996 was far different than what was shocking in 2009, if anything was shocking at all at that point in time. Due to these weak sales, the band and its label parted ways. It was at this point when the band appeared lost, looking for direction. Eat Me, Drink Me played like a classic rock CD based on a story of a failed relationship. The High End of Low came across as a rehash of all the band's previous efforts. All of this led to the band's 2012 effort, Born Villain, which appeared to be a step in the right direction. The album sounded more inspired, better flowing, with experimentation in sound yet the same Manson vibe peering through. Outside of The High End of Low, that's been a constant for Marilyn Manson - experimentation in sound, yet with the same Manson vibe peering through. From the spooky Halloween-esque rock in Portrait of an American Family to the industrial metal in Antichrist Svperstar to the space rock in Mechanical Animals to the goth rock in Holywood to the rock/rap (beat) mix in The Golden Age of Grotesque to the classic/'80s rock in Eat Me, Drink Me to the punk rock in Born Villain, no Marilyn Manson album sounded the same, yet each and every one sounded like Marilyn Manson. The same is true of the band's latest disc, The Pale Emperor, which has a bluesy rock feel to it and may very well be the most complete and best-sounding Marilyn Manson album since 2000's Holywood (or even further back than that).

The Pale Emperor is already receiving critical acclaim and could very well be the album where both Marilyn Manson and music critics accept him as a musician as opposed to just a shock rock musician. That was a big problem for the band between Holywood (2000) and Born Villain (2012). Not only had Manson seemingly lost the ability to shock the masses as he once did and saw sales plummet as a result, but critics also appeared to continue grading his albums on their level of shock appeal, as opposed to the music within them. There was a growing divisiveness in the music critic community on Manson's music. Those that graded the band on their music typically liked the albums they released and those that graded them on shock appeal were usually left disappointed. However, with this latest album, it appears as if the two communities may finally see eye to eye on the matter and now realize that while yes, Marilyn Manson could shock people with his lyrics and antics at one point in his career, there's a reason why he's still around making music - the guy is a great writer, an underrated musician, and album after album, he cranks out good, catchy rock songs. The Pale Emperor is a prime example of that, as it's dark and mysterious, well written and produced, rockin' and catchy, and may very well be one of the band's best albums in their 20+ year history.

I'll now give a track-by-track overview of the album, including my grades for each song:

1) "Killing Strangers" (7.5/10): When first hearing this song, I thought it was an odd choice for being the lead-in to the album. However, after listening to the album all the way through several times, I can now say it's the perfect lead-in. It starts off with a bluesy, mid-tempo yet catchy feel, and transitions to a rather haunting sound and vibe during the chorus. Those two elements are fairly constant throughout this album: Bluesy and haunting. Lyrically, it's intriguing as well, as it appears to tackle the gun violence (rights/obsession) issue: "We're killing strangers, so we don't kill the ones that we love." It's, without a doubt, a solid opening track to this album, and it gives listeners a fairly good feel of what's to come.

2. "Deep Six" (10/10): This is both the second single and the heaviest song on the album. It starts off with a haunting horror picture sound (that too is fairly constant throughout the album) before quickly going into head-bang mode. The pre-chorus sounds like an up-tempo glam rock track from Mechanical Animals before it transitions back into the head-banging chorus. Through three full listens of this album, this may very well be my favorite track. The music is extremely catchy and heavy, but not overly so (as if it were being forced), Manson's voice sounds terrific, and has been quite frequent throughout his career, one has to love the man's wordplay. Toward the end, Manson sings, "LOVE is EVOL, CON is CONFIDENCE, EROS is SORE, SIN is SINCERE" (check out this page for a breakdown of that wordplay). Also, what other rock star mentions Zeus and Narcissus in a song? This is a fantastic song and, unlike many of Manson's songs throughout the years, it has great commercial potential as well.

3. "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge" (7/10): More so than any other track on this album, this song has generated extremely positive responses from critics. This song provides an extremely different sound for the band. More so than the first two tracks, it showcases a perfect hybrid of the Manson of old and the blues-rock influences which inspired him on this record. It's fairly mid-tempo yet catchy, and toward the end of the song, Manson effectively goes from singing to wailing like the Manson of old. Lyrically, this definitely isn't one of the stronger tracks on the album, which leaves me slightly less impressed than many professional critics. However, I can definitely see the appeal, and see it as the third consecutive strong track on the album.

4. "The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles" (9.75/10): This is another one of my favorite tracks on the album. It starts off like a fairly slow yet haunting track off Mechanical Animals before we hear what's known as the "Manson beat," and things continue to pick up during an extremely catchy chorus, where, among other things, Manson sings, "Lazarus has got no dirt on me," before the sound gets even heavier and Manson says, "I'm the Mephistopheles of Los Angeles." I'd be incredibly surprised if this didn't wind up being a single off the album. It may even have more commercial potential than "Deep Six."

5. "Warship My Wreck" (6.5/10): If there's one song I can't ultimately decide on, it's this one. After four incredibly strong tracks to open the album, while I see this one as having potential and appear to like it more with every listen, I don't think it quite matches the quality of the four other songs. It starts with an extremely haunting, horror film type of feel, before coming across as a hybrid of that and a slower track off Holywood. The song becomes its most haunting during the chorus, when the volume appears to get turned up a few notches. During the chorus, however, Manson's voice, while coming across as incredibly raw and emotional, is difficult to listen to at times if one isn't fully in tune with and feeling the song. This along with some fairly weak lyrics (by Manson's standards) leads me to believe this is one of the weaker tracks on the album. It still has a strong sound and vibe to it, however, if one can tolerate the screeches during the chorus.

6. "Slave Only Dreams to Be King" (7.25/10): Things pick back up again with this song. It starts off with a quick-paced, catchy beat, before the guitars kick in and it sounds like a hybrid of a Rob Zombie tune and a song from The Golden Age of Grotesque. Fittingly, Manson sounds like he's speaking into a megaphone during the verses. It's hard not to bob one's head up and down during this song, but while it's catchy and could become popular at some downtown clubs, I don't think it has as much commercial potential as "Deep Six" or "The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles." It's a good song, though, nevertheless, with intriguing lyrics.

7. "The Devil Beneath my Feet" (8.25/10): This is one of the catchier songs on the album, if not the catchiest. It has a stomp-your-feet, perhaps even dance, feel to it. So long as the band creates a censored version of the song, this could again be a future single with potential on a commercial level. The lyrics are kind of a mix, as they're intriguing, yet also somewhat repetitive. In any case, this is quite a fun and catchy tune, which could even have regular church goers singing, "Least I know, wherever I go, I've the devil beneath my feet."

8. "Birds of Hell Awaiting" (5/10): In my opinion, this is by far and away the weakest track on the album. Honestly, I think it's the only weak track on the album. It starts with a similar eerie sound like many other tracks, but then appears to want to do too much and suffers as a result. The song almost comes across as a tune to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so it's an interesting sounding song, but suffers from a lack of ultimate direction. The lyrics are very repetitive as well. Also, like with the chorus in Warship My Wreck, Manson's voice is somewhat painful to listen to during the chorus of this song. What makes it more painful in this song than the other is the fact Warship My Wreck had a certain flow and increasing power to it, which made the singing in the chorus more fitting and tolerable than it is here. In the end, though, while I find this song intriguing to a certain extent and may give it a few more listens, I have a feeling it will be the only automatic-skip-past song I have on this album.

9. "Cupid Carries a Gun" (9/10): Fortunately, after the weakest track on the album, Birds of Hell Awaiting, comes one of the better songs on it, in my opinion. This is probably the eeriest song on the album. It combines haunting guitars, a mid-tempo beat, interesting lyrics, and Manson never sounding better. The creepy yet catchy verses transition to a powerful chorus, where Manson raises his voice, but to much more tolerable levels than in Warship My Wreck or Birds of Hell Awaiting. While the song was used in the show Salem, I wouldn't be surprised to see it released a single and hear it on the radio. Among the more mid-tempo songs, I think this one has the most potential commercially, especially if it's released as a single around Halloween.

10. "Odds of Even" (7.75/10): Of all the songs on the album, my opinion has improved the most on this one from the first to the second and third listens. Like with Killing Strangers being a perfect lead-in to this album, Odds of Even provides a perfect and powerful close to it. It's one of the slowest tracks on the album, combining a hybrid of bluesy rock and a sound somewhat reminiscent of Mechanical Animals' "Fundamentally Loathsome," before kicking things up ever so slightly with a guitar solo, and then transitioning to an incredibly haunting and powerful close and climax to the song, where Manson continually speaks, sings, and yells, "No one is exempt from the odds of even."

(On the Deluxe Edition are acoustic tracks of "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge," "The Mephistopheles of Los Angeles, and "Odds of Even." The songs are solid, but unless you're big into Manson and/or acoustic, they're not a huge bonus to the already solid album)

Overall: 78/100 = 78%

With each and every listen, The Pale Emperor sounds better, and void of one track ("Birds of Hell Awaiting"), it sounds great all the way through. Marilyn Manson hasn't sounded this inspired and motivated for a number of years and it shows in both his music and interviews. He decided to go in a different direction, experiment with a new sound, yet maintain the Manson beat and vibe of old, and what has resulted is one of the best, if not the best album he's ever released. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's official - the God of F**k is back and better than ever!

Final grade: 4.5 out of 5.0 (Excellent)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cop shoots marathon runner as he crosses the finish line

Sadly, the New York City Marathon was cut short this year when David Nairobi of Kenya was tragically shot and killed by Sheriff Daniel Shihtferbrains as he crossed the finish line to win the race.

When asked to comment about the event, Sheriff Shihtferbrains said, "The guy was coming right at me, really fast too! His arms were violently swinging back and forth when he was running! Not only that, but he charged right through this banner looking deal, which I think was made of steel or bricks or something! In any case, I had no choice. The man appeared to be on a mission, like he was seriously going for something and nothing was going to stop him! I mean, what was I supposed to do, you know? Fortunately, I got that first one, because for whatever reason, tons more were about to follow him. After I shot him, though, and I'm still not sure why this happened, but everyone started running away from me. They should have been walking right up to me and thanking me. I mean, who knows how many lives that day?"

In response to the event and the sheriff's comments, the New York Police Department union released a statement, saying, "We've yet to determine whether or not Mr. Nairobi stole a pack of chewing gum from a gas station when he was 7-years-old or whether or not he ever consumed any wine while in church. Due to all of these questions surrounding a black man's character, I mean, Mr. Nairobi's character, and the fact this was caught on tape with millions of witnesses, we believe Sheriff Shihterferbrains won't face any charges."

President Obama's State of the Union Address and the GOP's response

I won't spend a great deal of time writing about the president's speech last night and the GOP's response, but thought I'd touch on both briefly.

First off, I personally feel this was one of President Obama's best speeches in years. While he's always been a great orator, that fire and optimism which the country fell in love with in 2008 seemed to wane through the years, but appeared to be back on full display last night. Perhaps it's because he doesn't have to worry about another election and can talk like he has nothing to lose. Maybe with how the elections went this past November and knowing that a majority of Americans agree with him on a number of issues (even if they don't realize it), that helped to reignite the fire as well. Whatever it was, the President Obama from last night reminded millions of Americans why they voted for him in the first place back in the 2008 election. He was frank, hopeful, displayed a willingness to reach out to the other side and compromise, but also made it clear that if Congressional Republicans don't work with Democrats to move this country forward, he can and will utter a nasty four-letter word in their direction - veto. It was refreshing to see and hear the fire and fight back in the president. I only hope it carries over through these final two years of his term. Overall, I'd give the speech an "A" grade. While I was satisfied with the content of the speech, it was the fire in his words and tone that really grabbed a hold of me and wouldn't let go.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst gave the "official" GOP response (there were four others). Honestly, I often times feel sorry for the chosen speakers of these rebuttals. It's almost always a lose-lose situation. When the videos are pre-recorded, it sounds as if the speakers didn't actually listen to the speech, as they tend to speak in cliches, talking points, and generalities. Next to the word "vague" in the dictionary is the picture of these very speakers. When the speeches aren't pre-recorded, we then have awkward Marco-Rubio-reaching-for-a-water-bottle-while-sweating-profusely kinds of moments. So, like I said, it tends to be a lose-lose situation. To her credit, Joni Ernst's speech was fairly short and wasn't the worst rebuttal I'd ever heard. Of course, it was nothing special either, and unfortunately for her, the only thing that people seem to remember about her speech was the bit about her wearing "bread bags" on her feet when she was a child. Yes, there are already several memes circulating the web about this. As is typical in such speeches, she was very vague, attempted to say that all opinions were welcome, including the president's, but unfortunately, all of his opinions are wrong and the American people have been suffering the past six years as a result. She really got placed in a bad situation here. Not only did she get placed in the undesirable position of responding to the president's speech like so many before her, she had to try and bash the president and his policies, even when the news in economic circles is better than its been for a number of years. When unemployment is down, the recession is over, gas prices are down, consumer confidence is up, more people have health insurance, the GDP increased a great deal in the third quarter, the market numbers are back and higher than ever, etc., it'd be quite difficult for any Congressional Republican to say, "We're worse off now than we were when the president stepped into office six years ago!" So, overall, I'd probably give Ernst a "C" grade. She was brief, predictably vague, and I have to at least feel partially bad for her to be placed in that precarious and unenviable position.

If you perhaps missed the president's speech and/or Senator Ernst's rebuttal, you can read the transcripts and/or view the speeches at the following links:

http://www.npr.org/2015/01/20/378680818/transcript-president-obamas-state-of-the-union-address

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8LqG_Ld0Dw

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/gop-response-transcript-joni-ernst-gop-response-114423.html

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

This week in football...

The season may be almost over, for both the NFL and college, but there's still a lot to talk about in the world of football. Shall we begin?

1) Was the playoff ultimately successful in its first year in college football?

Did anyone see the ratings? Uh, yeah, I'd say it was a success. The only problem I had with the whole process was regarding the committee. Each major conference should receive equal representation among the committee members, the Power 5 conferences need to decide whether to all have conference title games or not, and either the committee should come out with just one poll (the final one), or stay consistent and logical from week to week. The Big XII may not have had a conference title game, but dropping TCU from 3 to 6 after beating Iowa State 55-3 makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

2) Did the Detroit Lions get jobbed by the refs in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys?

Quite possibly. Sure, the Lions could have gone for it on 4th-and-1 and converted, could have punted the ball more effectively, could have stopped Dallas on their winning drive, and could have scored on their final drive, however, that still doesn't detract from the importance of the missed calls. Even if the referees called all four penalties on the most controversial play of the game, while the offensive face mask and defensive holding and pass interference penalties would have offset, the Lions would still have wound up with the ball at the Dallas 31-yard-line with a 1st-and-10 due to the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Dez Bryant. Also, perhaps more importantly, the missed holding call by Dallas on their ensuing drive would have set the Cowboys up with a 3rd-and-16, which could very well have nullified a field goal on the drive, let alone a touchdown. One play may not ultimately decide a game, but these two plays certainly played a large factor in it.

3) Did the Dallas Cowboys get jobbed by the refs in their loss to the Green Bay Packers?

Yes and no. According to the rulebook, it appeared as if the refs made the right call in overturning the Dez Bryant catch. However, in my own rulebook - you know, my eyes - that was a catch. The NFL has to define certain things more clearly to make rules more comprehendible to coaches, players, fans, and referees alike. On a running play, the ball carrier simply has to have control of the ball while the tip of it crosses the goalline for it to constitute as a touchdown, even if he's hit and fumbles after crossing it. Why then must a receiver not only catch the ball in the end zone, but maintain possession after being hit and falling to the ground for it to constitute as a touchdown?

4) Did the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers or did the Packers simply lose to the Seahawks?

As usual in these situations, it was a combination of the two. Being down 19-7 with about 5 minutes left in the game, there was no way the Seahawks should have won the game. Now, I've always been against the prevent defense. Sure, it often times prevents the long pass downfield. However, it also allows offenses to get into a decent rhythm, and so long as runners are able to get out of bounds after a 10- to 15-yard gain, those yards can add up mighty quickly. This doesn't even take into consideration the fact that if this offense has a shifty runner with the football, he can very easily turn that 10- to 15-yard play into a 30-yard play, as was evident in the game on Sunday. In any case, even after the Packers allowed the touchdown which closed the gap to five at 19-14, with an onside kick recovery, the game would have been over, and they didn't do that. Oddly enough, the Packers defense allowed the following touchdown (and two-point conversion) so quickly, it benefited their offense some, as Aaron Rodgers was able to lead them to a game-tying field goal in regulation that prompted overtime. Then Russell Wilson forgot about the first three quarters, where he was awful, and took over in overtime. The Seattle Seahawks had to do a lot of things right and the Green Bay Packers had to do a lot of things wrong to have made that comeback possible, and that's exactly what happened.

5) Is the New England Patriots' deflated ball controversy a big deal?

In the broader scope of things, yes, it is a big deal. The New England Patriots have faced their fair share of controversy through the years, namely "Spygate." So, if this turns out to be true, skeptics will continue to say, "You see? The Pats can't win without cheating," especially if they go on to win their fourth Super Bowl with Bill Belichick at the helm. Also, expect the team to face a penalty if it turns out to be true, the loss of draft picks being the most probable penalty. However, when it comes to the game on Sunday, I don't care how "deflated" the ball was, it made absolutely no difference in the outcome. The Patriots ran the ball 40 times for 177 yards, including 148 yards on 30 carries and 3 touchdowns by LeGarrette Blount. What was the score again? Ah, yes, 45-7, and it could have been worse.

6) Who will win Super Bowl 49 (sorry Roman numerals)? 

I'll make my pick next week. I know, I'm a tease. Sue me. On second thought, please don't. Thanks.

Info on my Facebook business, Twitter, and Tumblr pages

Here's the URL to my Facebook business page. I update it fairly regularly, but still haven't put forth a great deal of effort yet in researching matters and attempting to make the most out of it. In any case, it can be perused here:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCraigRozniecki?ref=hl


Up next is my Twitter page. I'm still not 100% certain what I'm doing on there yet, but feel I'm gradually getting the hang of it and am up to 15,713 followers. I update it daily with many of my own tweets, but also by retweeting some others'. It can be found here:

https://twitter.com/CraigRozniecki


Lastly, here's my Tumblr page, which I've neglected quite a bit recently, but if you're at all curious, you can find it at the following link:

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/rozzy81

Weekly update of my book information

For new readers (and regular ones, I suppose), here's some information pertaining to my books.

All twelve of my books can be purchased in paperback form at the following site (and others):

http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?type=&keyWords=craig+rozniecki&x=7&y=5&sitesearch=lulu.com&q=

The ten books I've written and released in the past 3 years (yes, I've been on a roll) can be purchased for much cheaper in Kindle form at the following link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_22?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=craig%20rozniecki%20kindle&sprefix=craig+rozniecki+kindle%2Caps%2C228&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acraig%20rozniecki%20kindle

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sorry for the slowdown, but I'm officially back!

It's amazing how crazy these past six weeks have been, the past couple in particular. I suppose most people's schedules get overloaded around Thanksgiving and Christmas, to the point where, in a panic, they look at the calendar and say, "Wait... I just scheduled a half-hour lunch get together for Tuesday! I don't have a half hour to spare! Where did all my time go? Dammit! Where did I put my eggnog?" However, not only did things get hectic for me around the holidays, my brother, sister-in-law, and niece flew into town for a week and a half just two weeks after Christmas. So, between catching up and spending quality time with them and the rest of my family, looking after my niece at times, and my 2-year-old Siberian Husky always around contemplating about taking a baby toy into the backyard, it has been quite the enjoyable, yet draining week and a half, six weeks overall. For as sad as I was to see them travel back home, however, it will be kind of nice to get back into a regular routine again, with work, exercise, meals, etc. I have to say, after spending a week and a half with a 14-month-old toddler and being drained as a result, I honestly don't know how parents do it. It's really pretty amazing when one thinks about it. So, extra kudos to hard-working, loving parents out there! May you keep in tact your sanity throughout the raising process, well, most of it anyway. In any case, I'm sorry for the slowdown with my writing over the past week and a half, but life has finally calmed some, so I should be able to get back to it this week. Thanks for your patience and I hope you like what I have to offer in the coming days and weeks!