Summer Update

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. For a guy who is still looking for a job, I seem to be pretty busy. Here’s what’s going on in my world lately:

The Ginja Ninja tears it up with Russell Batiste

Unfortunately, it was just too good to last. Family Funktion at the Tabor wrapped up in April, after a solid 3-month run of groovin’ and helping out the community. Before it was all over we had one hell of a Mardi Gras throwdown with New Orleans’ hardest working drummer Russell Batiste! Since then, C-Money split town and is now tearing it up back east with his new band Yeah Bud. Back here in Portland,  I know there are some of us who would love to get the Funktion started again in the Fall. Let’s make it happen, Family!

Speaking of family, Donna and I took a trip to upstate New York to visit her brother’s vacation home. We lounged for a week on Great Sacandaga Lake and Lake George while playing with our awesome nephew and adorable niece.

If you’ve read my Phish review from a few years ago, you may be wondering why I haven’t posted anything about this summer’s Gorge shows. Frankly, I was just too blown away by the experience to write about it. There are fine reviews at Online Phish Tour and Mr. Miner’s blog if you need a recap of what went down. The band is really on fire right now, and the 2 Gorge shows that opened the second leg of their Summer tour were among the best they have played all year, perhaps even since their 2009 reunion.

For me the shows were just the delicious creamy filling in the middle of a weeklong Twinkie of Phishiness. Coalition Brewing hosted a Gorge pre-party, where Portland’s Phishiest met in the beer garden for some tasty brews and vintage Gorge jams on the sound system. Scott Hewitt and I had a fun drive to and from the shows, improvising a Stephen King-esque short story about the rapidly spreading windfarms along the way. And while the counterculture bazaar in the parking lot never slept, it never got rowdy or ugly either. We met some really nice neighbors in the campsite and soaked in the one-of-a-kind atmosphere. I was riding such a high after these shows that I went out to watch the webcast of both nights at Lake Tahoe at a great local tap room called Hop Haven, meeting even more kindred spirits who just couldn’t get enough Phish.

Further Bus at the Gorge

While the highlights of my summer have been pretty exhilerating, the everyday stuff has been fun too. I get to babysit some pretty cool kids. I’ve got a great set-up in the guest room where I can practice trombone with some jazz play-along CDs, all through my headphones so I don’t bother the neighbors. And I’ve been playing drumset more than ever. In fact, music has kept me the busiest this summer, as I have jammed with no less than 6 bands in preparation for a full slate of gigs in the near future. Among the places you can see me sing, play percussion, drums or trombone  in the next few weeks:

Tonight with Mystic Canyon on NE 30th Ave, just north of Alberta Street’s Last Thursday Street Fair

Noon-2:00pm  Saturday 9/10/11 with Mystic Canyon at Vancouver Peace & Justice Fair, Esther Short Park, Vancouver WA

2:00pm Sunday 9/11/11 with the Featles at Squidstock (contact me in the comments for details)

8:00pm Saturday 10/1/11 with the Harmless Eccentrics and the Magenta Theater Band at the Magenta Theater, Main St, Vancouver, WA

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you soon. Keep an eye out for Umphrey’s McGee’s new album Death By Stereo, available 9/13/11 everywhere. I’m working on hosting a listening party here in Portland before the album drops, so stay tuned….

Uncle Bubba sits for a spell

A Tale of Two Leagues

Football season is underway and once again I am playing in two highly competetive fantasy football leagues. The same two leagues, in fact, in which I led my teams to the playoffs last year. Although neither is a keeper league, both had most of last year’s owners return for the 2010 season. I probably won’t be posting weekly blog updates – I’m already off to a late start – but I’ll mention my teams periodically over the next few months. For now, here’s how the 2010 season began for me.

NFFL (My 2nd year in this ESPN league)
Team Name: Rose City Rock Show
Draft Position: 7th (out of 14)
QBs: Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb
RBs: Ray Rice, Ryan Grant, Jahvid Best, Tashard Choice, Kareem Huggins, Jason Snelling
WRs: Greg Jennings, Michael Crabtree, Bernard Berrian, Austin Collie, Kevin Walter, Sidney Rice
TE: Brent Celek
D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals
K: Ryan Succop

Though all of the Portland owners had a great time drafting at Bottles, the draft didn’t go exactly how I had hoped. I wanted a top WR and QB early, but just couldn’t pass on Rice falling to me at #7. I’m glad I got Jennings in the third, but in this QB-crazy league, the top 10 QBs were already gone by then. I rolled the dice on Kolb in the 5th, but had I taken Eli instead, I might not have been so eager to grab McNabb as a backup in the 8th. The boldest pick of this draft was Ed’s Round 2 (18th pick) snag of Arian Foster, who went on to make him look like a genius as Player of the Week.

Week 1 was brutal for my team, as you might have guessed. Aside from the two high-profile injuries, Cincy’s D was a disaster and Rice, Celek, and Crabtree were major disappointments. Luckily I was able to get help on the waiver wire, dropping Grant for his backup Brandon Jackson and even scoring Fred Taylor (cutting Snelling loose shouldn’t hurt too much.) Looking forward to better matchups for my guys this week.

Bort Footbal League (My 3rd year in this Yahoo League)
Team Name: PDX Prowlers
Draft Position: 11 of 12
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith
RBs: Shonn Greene, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, Reggie Bush
WRs: Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Steve Breaston, DeMaryius Thomas, Kevin Walter, Arrelious Benn
TE: Jason Witten
D/ST: Philadelphia Eagles
K: David Akers

The Bort itself is no longer around, but we were still able to carry on with this league, albeit down to 12 owners from the previous 16. I was pretty pleased with this team after the draft, getting the top QB I wanted. The trade of Housh to Baltimore complicated things a bit since I already have Boldin, so I dropped D. Thomas and picked up his teammate Jabar Gaffney, who bumps T.J. down the depth chart.

The Prowlers dominated week 1 with the top point total in the league and a 40-point margin of victory. Greene’s matchup against Baltimore scared me enough to bench him and start Forte in his place (this league plays 2RBs, 3WRs, with no flex position.) Despite Greene being my #1 pick, I think he sits again this week against New England, with Forte and Charles looking like solid plays.

Random Post and Pix

Donna and Mike at the Northern Lights Saloon, Polebridge, Montana, August 2006

I’m finally getting my computer fixed, so I’ll get back to posting more and better stuff here and at my other blogs for Mystic Canyon and the Harmless Eccentrics. In the meantime, just a few random thoughts I didn’t get around to blogging about, along with some random pix I found on my old computer.

Getting tilted at rehearsal in Camas, April 2007
  • Unfortunately, one reason I’ll have more time to blog is I am out of a job. I am certain I have the skills to get work again in medical billing soon, but I don’t have much passion for the work and would love to be able to take the time to find something I truly enjoy. Anybody hiring bloggers?
  • I thought about doing a “Best of 2009” post, but I really did not pay much attention to what was new in 2009, unless it was on Sirius Jam On. Mantis came out in January and nothing I heard for the rest of the year even came close, but I’m sure my opinion could change if I actually listened to some other stuff. What little I have heard of Muse has me curious, I’ll have to check it out when I have my good computer back.
  • I did see some great movies in 2009 and would say this was my top five, in no particular order: Up in the Air, Watchmen, District 9, Tell No One, and Extract. No, I did not see Avatar, but that’s probably the only movie that could crack this list.
World Premiere of Scary Bloated Banana, Lincroft, NJ, July 2009
  • If you followed my Fantasy Football posts, you probably just assumed I crashed and burned in the playoffs. I actually went to the Championship in my ESPN money league and lost a heartbreaker by one point. Still won myself a bit of prize money, which has already been spent of course. In my Yahoo league, I lost in the semi-finals but won the consolation game for a third place finish in a tough league.
  • As a follow-up to my last post, Mystic Canyon is ready to return to the stage on Saturday, February 20th at the Sellwood Pub. The evening will feature the extended Mystic Canyon family, as the Harmless Eccentrics will open the evening and Mike Smith will follow with his new bluegrass project. I’ll post more on the other blogs as the evening draws nearer.
  • Finally, one last point about 2009 – it was a great year for live music. I saw more of my favorite bands in concert than any single year, including Phish, the Dead and the Allman Brothers, Pearl Jam, The Swell Season and Umphrey’s McGee. My only regret was missing Railroad Earth despite having three chances throughout the year, but I enjoyed discovering some new favorites in the local scene, which I look forward to writing more about in 2010.

Mystic Canyon at the Someday Lounge in Portland, July 2007

Fantasy Football Update

Well, I took a few weeks off from blogging about my Fantasy teams. After impressive starts, my teams were winless through weeks 9-11 and in serious jeopardy of slipping out of the playoff hunt. While my Yahoo team turned things around to clinch a playoff spot in Week 12, my ESPN team kept me on the edge of my seat until week 13’s Monday Night showdown between Baltimore and Green Bay. Here’s how the fantasy regular season finished for the Prowlers and the Volcanoes.

PDX Prowlers 8-3-2, 3rd seed in the playoffs, Bort Football League

Six of the sixteen teams in this Yahoo league make the cut, so to do this well in spite of TWO frustrating ties was a pleasant surprise. Even more surprising perhaps is that I won so many games with such inconsistent production from my RB and WR positions. A Week 10 trade of DeSean Jackson brought me Ryan Grant, who has helped a bit. Luckily, the Prowlers have been carried by Drew Brees, Vernon Davis and the Philly Defense, so even modest production from RBs and WRs has usually been enough to put me over the top. Unfortunately, my first-round playoff matchup is against the 7-5-1 Well Hungarians, who in Week 9 handed me my worst loss of the season. My opponent’s potent core of  Brady, Gore and Andre Johnson face tougher defenses this time around, so a solid effort from my backs and wideouts should keep me in the game.

Vancouver Volcanoes 7-6, 5th seed in the playoffs, NFFL

After a 6-2 start, the Volcanoes dropped from division front-runner to win-and-you’re-in bubble team. I lost four matchups in a row, two of which were heart-breakingly close. This cold streak had me less than optimistic entering my week 13 matchup against the Viking-heavy Portland Pimps. A loss would have tied me with the Pimps and at least one other team at 6-7, with none of the tie-breakers going my way. With Michael Turner out, and many of my matchups looking weak, I knew a desperation play was in order. Not trusting the Colts D vs. Tennessee or the Skins D vs. New Orleans, I played the matchups and snagged Carolina’s D for their game vs. Tampa Bay. This move, combined with Ochocinco’s stellar play kept me slightly ahead through the day games. On Sunday night, Arizona kept the Vikings in check, but Peterson, Rice, Shiancoe and Longwell gave the Pimps a 17-point lead nonetheless.

My only chance for the playoffs was a win, and my only chance for a win was getting 18 points from my tight end, Jermichael Finley. Things were looking up when Finley put up 5 catches for 56 yards and a score in the first half. But as I sat one point behind, Mike Tirico announced that Finley had been taken to the locker room for x-rays on his knee. Fate is indeed a cruel mistress, and for me to get so close, only to lose, seemed unfathomably harsh. But Fate, I guess, also has a cruel sense of humor, as Finley returned in the third quarter to get me the 4-yard catch that I needed to win, and then added a second touchdown catch for good measure.

Thank goodness I had started Carson Palmer on Sunday. He only gave me 5 points, but Joe Flacco’s negative-8 point performance would have shot Finley’s effort in the foot and knocked me out of the playoffs. Instead, I advance to face the 8-5 Wyoming BallBusters in the first round. While I’d love to have Michael Turner back, I need him at full health, not hobbling off on a reinjured ankle like two weeks ago. My flex options (Breaston, Lee Evans, Ahmad Bradshaw and Shonn Greene) have all been shaky the last few weeks, so maybe it is time for another move. I’ll keep up the blog posts for as long as I remain in the playoffs.

Fantasy Football Week 9 Recap

Both of my Week 9 matchups were looking like tough ones. It would take the right combination of lineup decisions and outstanding production to put either of my teams over the top. Things did not work out in my favor this week, but one of the matchups was just close enough to hurt.

High Mountain Widowmakers (4-5) 121,
Vancouver Volcanoes (6-3) 118

Sometimes you just have to trust your gut. My gut was telling me that Carson Palmer had earned back my trust and was safe to start against Baltimore. My head was telling me that Joe Flacco got the better of their previous head-to-head showdown and would be the less risky play. I let my head make the conservative call and watched Flacco fall apart against Cincinnati’s surprisingly dominant defense. Still, I had a slight lead going into Monday night’s game, and if Denver had given Matt Prater a few more scoring opportunities, I could have salvaged the win. But of course, if I had only trusted my gut, it would not have been that close. Next week, I face Jason’s brother Nick, whose Guantanamo Bay Guerillas have sat atop the standings all year, but have lost 2 of their last 3.

Well Hungarians (6-2-1) 96,
PDX Prowlers (6-2-1) 65

My opponent is a savvy trader who added then-injured Frank Gore to his already potent core of Tom Brady and Andre Johnson. Add a tasty matchup for Seattle’s Defense, and it was clear I would need more than a few of my guys to step up with big games. Unfortunately, Drew Brees’ mediocre outing was the highlight of my team’s output this week. Even if I had had the foresight to start James Jones, I still would not have overcome Jonathan Stewart and DeSean Jackson’s combined 3 points. It was a sound beating and there was nothing I could really do to prevent it, which ultimately makes it a little easier to take. Next week, we’ll see which of my  scrap-heap running backs fills in for Steve Slaton against my opponent, the Indy Colts.

Fantasy Football Week 8 Recap

Two weeks in a row with two winning fantasy teams. This weekend’s matchups weren’t particularly thrilling, so it’s hard to write anything too interesting about them. But this whole recapping exercise was really just an excuse to get me writing again, and it’s working. I’ve got a few other blog items I’m working on that I’ll post soon, so let’s get this one over with.

Vancouver Volcanoes (6-2) 135,
Madisonville Maggots (4-4) 83

Every week I stress a bit about who to play in my flex spot, and that decision was made all the more difficult by the emergence of Shonn Greene last week. I went with Breaston over Bradshaw, Fred Jackson and Greene, and it was the right choice, but it really didn’t matter in the long run. Wayne, Turner, Thomas and Flacco combined for enough points to win this matchup for me, as my opponent didn’t get much from Eli Manning, Ronnie Brown or the injured Owen Daniels. Up next, the High Mountain Widowmakers, a team with lots of options. If I were him, I’d have a hard time deciding between Roethlisberger @ Denver or Hasselbeck vs. Detroit.

PDX Prowlers (6-1-1) 76,
TwoManningsOneCup (0-8) 49

Having Drew Brees in the Monday night game was a nice ace to have up my sleeve, but he put up a few stinkers earlier in the season. So I was a little concerned when, at the end of the early games, I trailed an opponent who had failed to replace Kerry Collins, Muhsin Mohammed and Calvin Johnson in his starting lineup. My concern faded as Jonathan Stewart turned in his best performance of the season against the #1 Arizona rush defense. His 20-point performance offset the -1 I got from Steve Slaton, who was benched after an early fumble. While Slaton’s issues didn’t cost me this week, they did cast further doubt on an already suspect backfield. Not a good time to be facing my next opponent, the Well Hungarians, who are building a contender with some very shrewd trades.

Fantasy Football Week 6 Recap

Last Sunday should have been a forgettable day. Both of my teams were involved in lopsided matchups, one winning and one losing. But after weeks of sick and/or lazy Sundays, I was ready for some fun. I watched the early games at a great sports bar, then had quality rehearsals with two of my bands, Mystic Canyon and Harmless Eccentrics. Turns out the best way to get over a crushing loss for the Giants is to jam late into the night.

North Coast Greenleaves (4-2) 162,
Vancouver Volcanoes (4-2) 120

Jason and I had been looking forward to this matchup for a few weeks, as it also happened to be the week that his Saints faced my Giants. We met at the Cheerful Bullpen for the 10am start. While the game was painful to watch, the breakfast was tasty and the Spanish Coffee strong! Drew Brees gave Jason an early lead, and Randy Moss sealed it later in the day. Like the Giants, the Volcanoes put up enough points to win against a lesser team, especially during the bye weeks. But there was no catching Jason, even if Pierre Thomas had managed to be one of the 7 Saints to score a TD.

Things don’t look too good for Pierre this week either against a stiff Miami defense, but the rest of my team looks solid going into Sunday’s matchup against another New Orleans native, Steve, and his Amite Steelmakers, who are gonna need to make some moves due to injuries and byes this week.

PDX Prowlers (4-1-1) 111,
Degoba Green (1-4-1) 55

It was a small consolation as my Giants went down in flames that Drew Brees’ huge game was at least helping me in this league. But the Prowlers’ biggest point total of the year went to waste as my opponent didn’t even show up. Greg Jennings remained on his bench from the previous week’s Bye, and he never picked up a Defense to replace the ones that weren’t playing this week (Miami and SF.) At least I got the Toyota Biggest Fantasy Blowout award for the week, a new feature on Yahoo’s league page. This weekend’s matchup holds a lot more promise as I look to break a first place tie with TDs ‘N Beer.