Nathan Leigh Jones Returns From Hiatus

Posted by Greg on Jul 30, 2017 in Music, Op-Ed

Two weeks ago, Australian singer-songwriter Nathan Leigh Jones penned a blog post that literally shook me to my core. Read more…


American Idol Notebook, Vol. 1.

Posted by Greg on Mar 14, 2013 in Music, Op-Ed

I was pretty disappointed to learn that last week American Idol advanced the mediocre Paul Jolley and failed to advance Elijah Liu, but I am esteemed by the enormous amount of female talent. In many ways this is a big year for American Idol. A female hasn’t won since Jordin Sparks and the most talented finalist hasn’t won since Jordin’s year as well. Read more…


Oscar Thoughts From a Curmudgeon

Posted by Greg on Feb 28, 2011 in Movies, Op-Ed

Every year I look forward to the Oscars and every year I’m let down. Maybe I’m just hard to please. Don’t get me wrong I’m thrilled with all the awards The King’s Speech won ––––it deserved them –––– and I was happy Christian Bale finally won, that’s not really the problem. The problem is….well, allow me to explain.

Kirk Douglas is an icon and a true legend, but does he really need that much time in the spotlight? Call me cold-hearted, cruel and insubordinate, but his rambling monologue was a few minutes too long. Sure it was funny and yes it was nice to see the old guy still doing his thing, but for the life of me, it was painful to watch. If you think I’m being unfair to a stroke victim and a geriatric, then I’ll take the time to pick on someone else. Namely Aaron Sorkin. Seriously dude that acceptance speech needed to be a lot shorter. We all know you’re smart, we all know you think the world of yourself, but just shut the hell up and get off the stage.

As for the winners. Everything went as planned. Well, except for Best Supporting Actress.

Someone please explain to me how Hailee Steinfield is billed as a supporting actress. True Grit is her story, and she is the fulcrum on which the entire script moves. I understand she’s a newcomer and a no-name, but the Coen brothers trusted her enough to pit her in the lead role, and the awards committee should honor their decision. As for the winner, Melissa Leo was great in The Fighter, and performed her role flawlessly, but that being written, the performance was not really the stuff of Oscar legend.

Jacki Weaver on the other hand was unrivaled in the underrated and overlooked Australian crime drama Animal Kingdom. My take is Leo is getting the award for kicking ass in Frozen River a few years ago and getting snubbed there. But who am I to know? I’m just a crochety 20-something picking on Kirk Douglas.

Toy Story 3 is a great Pixar film and a true delight through and through, but did it really need to win two awards? Randy Newman is a terrific songwriter and a bonafide talent but come on, enough with the love fest. Did he really need a second Oscar? I realize he’s been nominated 20 times, but seriously, just no.

My only other complaint is how in the hell did Biutiful not win for Best Foreign Film? Every critic agreed Bardem was sensational and that the script was Gonzalez-Irriatu’s best. So why the disrespect? Yeah his films are dark, dismal and downright chilling, but No Country For Old Men wasn’t a laughfest either and it was decked out with Oscar gold.

A few other things. I’m glad Inception got a few wins, even if they were in the smaller categories. Christopher Nolan’s directing prowess is limitless and the film was a true high watermark, so it’s good to see the Oscars continue to respect his talents.

As for the show itself. Franco proved to be a capable and charming host, while Hathaway was anything but. The laughs were good and the show moved quickly. But when it’s all said and done, not even a F-bomb from Leo could cement this year’s Oscars as anything truly special. Then again, what do I know? I picked Kate WInslet over Natalie Portman and Exit Through the Gift Shop over Inside Job.


The Demise of Professional Sports

Posted by Greg on Feb 17, 2011 in Op-Ed

I don’t know what has happened to professional sports but it seems to have run amok and spiraled out of control.

I suppose it has been a long time coming but things really started tumbling when LeBron James hosted The Decision, a made-for-TV interview with Jim Grey, in which he announced his departure from Cleveland in favor of South Beach. While the event was listed as a charity grab, the truth of the matter was James just loves the spotlight and can’t stay away.

Flash forward a few months later and Carmelo Anthony is doing the very same thing after desiring a trade out of Denver. Rather than make a quick decision and help his team out, he’s putting the Denver organization and hordes of others in limbo by waffling back and forth.

But it’s not just basketball. In the NFL, owners and players can’t agree at all and the 2011-2012 season remains in limbo.

And oh yes, baseball too has the very same problem as Albert Pujols remains mired in contract negotiations with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Once upon a time recreation was sport and sport was entertainment. Enjoyable, unpredictable and worth spending an afternoon watching. These days, it’s a cash cow, a corporate power grab and everything sport shouldn’t be.


A Nod to Rod

Posted by Greg on Nov 3, 2010 in Music, Op-Ed

For the past month or so, “Young Turks” has been playing in my head. I’m not exactly sure how it ended up in my brain or why it won’t leave, I just know that it has a tight grip and won’t let go.

Suffice it to say I’m a casual Rod Stewart fan. I grew up with a mother who is one of his biggest fans and his music often permeated my childhood. Though I don’t own any of his albums, it is fair to say I’ve never heard a bad song by him. I think it’s the voice. It just gets to me every time.

In doing some quick research on Stewart himself I came across a startling and stunning fact that is worthy of attention: Every single studio album Rod Stewart has released has either gone gold or platinum or higher.

You get that? Every single album. Now maybe it’s just me, but that is certainly something worthy of merit and accomplishment. I quite honestly can’t think of a single solo artist in the last decade who has had such luck. Michael Buble? Kenny Chesney? Honestly, is there any?

While Stewart’s best days are probably way behind him and his much-publicized personal life is checkout aisle fodder, there’s no denying commercial appeal. My parents saw him a few times back in the 80s and said the energy he put forth in his concerts was awe-inspiring. While he probably isn’t much of a fireball these days, you can’t knock a guy for pouring his heart and soul into what he does.

So on this Wednesday in November, I’m tipping my cap to the crooner himself. Here’s to you Rod, here’s to you.


Two Stories: Braylon and Kenny

Posted by Greg on Sep 22, 2010 in Op-Ed

On Monday, Denver Broncos Kenny McKinley took his own life, leaving behind a son and an armful of loved ones. Those that knew him cited his effervescent personality and his jovial nature. Few if any thought he’d be the type to do something like this. And so for the third time in four years, Denver Bronco Nation is mourning the passing of a teammate. Suddenly whatever worries or anxieties were fresh on their minds have evaporated. This weekend’s game remains just a small step in a lengthy grieving process.

Two thousand miles east the New York Jets organization is grappling with the unpleasant news that wide receiver Braylon Edwards was cruising through the west side of Manhattan while drunk. Due to the player’s union unconscionable rules he’s allowed to practice and play on Sunday. Rather than rebuff the player’s union’s rules and sit him for the entire game, Rex Ryan and the Jets brass are benching him. And so, Edwards receives a slap on the wrist for an idiotic, selfish and dastardly decision. His pathetic and foolhardy public apology only makes this situation that much more grave. In said mea culpa, Edwards admitted that his act was not selfish and that because it was a legal matter he declined to discuss his emotions regarding the incident. Instead of embracing the fact that he’s lucky to be alive, he’s clumsily attempting to save face.

If only he knew how blessed he was. The tears on the faces of Kenny McKinely’s parents reveal just how precious life really is. Maybe one day Braylon will wake up and realize that. But let’s be realistic, that’s probably asking too much.


Need some inspiration today?

Posted by Greg on Sep 9, 2010 in Op-Ed

My illustrious sister has posted an ever-inspiring and incredibly buoyant post about a wounded soldier and his championing spirit. If ever there was something to boost your day, this is probably it. While war films and war novels cast the culture of war in varying degrees, this simple post puts it all in perspective. God bless our soldiers and God bless this man!


The Death of College Football on Long Island

Posted by Greg on Aug 11, 2010 in Op-Ed

Now that Hofstra has pulled the plug on football, those of us in Nassau County that appreciate college football are in quite a bind. But all is not lost. The C.W. Post Pioneers, a former Division II powerhouse play home games at Hickox Field on the pastoral C.W. Post campus. Those that aren’t on Long Island, should know that C.W. Post is housed on the former estate of the cereal magnate Post family. If that’s not enough to get your butt in the seats, take this simple nugget into account: C.W. Post is the only non-Pennsylvania college in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. So why are they there, you ask? It’s quite simple, really. The PSAC houses some of the best D-II football schools in the nation, of which C.W. Post is included. In 1998, Post introduced Bryan Collins to the mix and for eight years, the team won an average of eight games. Then in 2005, Post won the first two NCAA Division II tournament games for the first time in program history and advanced to the national quarterfinals. The following year, Collins was named athletic director at Post, and since 2007, the team hasn’t posted more than six wins in the last three years, and this year has been predicted to finish third in the PSAC. So is the pressure on Collins? One has to think it is. An exciting and telling season is certainly in store.

Just a few miles north in Kings Point, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy fields a squad that hasn’t made the ECAC playoffs since 2002 and hasn’t visited the NCAA playoffs since 1994. Hired in 2005, Coach Ed Toope hasn’t helped the cause much. The team hasn’t won more than four games since he took over and doesn’t seem to be a factor in this year’s Liberty League title. Things can’t be too promising over at the USMMA, the school’s football Web page has pages and links dating back to the 2006 season. An intentional oversight? Someone sleeping on the job? Either way, it doesn’t appear to be a pretty season. But then there’s the golden ribbon to tie it all together. The USMMA is a service academy, who plays squads such as Coast Guard Academy and SUNY-Maritime. But the whole schedule isn’t laden with cupcakes, other opponents for this year’s 2010 season include the likes of Hobart, Union and Rensselaer, all of whom have made the playoffs in the last three years. So does it look bleak for the Mariners? Absolutely. Are five wins probably a stretch? Sure. But hey, stranger things have happened. And if it does happen, sure would be nice to say that this lowly little blog gave the USMMA program a few minutes of their time far before the New York Times, Newsday, and the like.

Aside from St. John’s in Queens, no other local schools offer football. NY Tech, Farmingdale, Molloy, Old Westbury and Adelphi all don’t sport football, and aside from two-year college Nassau Community, there are no other college football programs in Nassau County. Now if one ventures to Suffolk County, it’s a different story with Stony Brook carrying the torch, but truth be told, that’s really about all. St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue and Dowling in Oakdale don’t offer football, and the only other remaining colleges in Suffolk County are all junior colleges.

Does Long Island have a college football problem? Absolutely. Is there a remedy in sight? Not likely. So until this problem gets ameliorated, the Mariners and Pioneers are it. Other than that, College GameDay it is.


College Football > Pro Football

Posted by Greg on Aug 2, 2010 in Op-Ed

Not going to make a long post, just want to write and say why college football will and always will be supreme. Sure it has its share of problems and sure its far more money-hungry than it used to be. The conference expansions this past spring and the continued recruiting scandals, from Reggie Bush to UNC and all places in between are enough to leave a sour taste. But here’s why college football doesn’t suck. The following five things don’t happen at the college football level.

-Darrelle Revis holding out for a better salary and missing Jets camp.
-Albert Haynesworth and his traveling circus
-Sam Bradford signing a $50 million guaranteed contract
-Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson’s reality TV
-Tony Romo and Brett Favre. Enough said.

There’s only 32 more days until Sept. 2 and the eight games that kick off the season. I can’t even begin to discuss how excited/amped I am for this season to start. I wish it was here already.


Live365 and the Advent of Country Music

Posted by Greg on Jul 14, 2010 in Music, Op-Ed, Websites

I’ll just come right out and say it. The past 16 days of my life have been inundated with country music. Most of this is by my choosing, but the other half may just be the inherent magnetism of the genre. On a lark, I decided to listen to iTunes radio at work. In truth I was tired of listening to the girls at work chatter and gossip and I needed a distraction. Having grown up around country music, and having attended college in North Carolina for six years, it’s always been a part of my life, but it’s never been a daily staple.

Because the New York metro area dislikes country music, I went immediately to the country pre-sets on iTunes and the first one that caught my eye was Constant Country KRS. Sure enough the station is based in New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan in the urban enclave of Edgewater. The first four songs played were “Pound Sign,” by Kevin Fowler, “Pray for You,” by Jaron and the Long Road to Love, “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer,” by Billy Currington and “Trailerhood,” by Toby Keith. And then I was sold.

Upon Googling Constant Country KRS, I found out that it’s part of the Live365 family. I had heard of Live365 before but had never given it the time of day. And well, now that’s all changed. As each new day dawned, I found myself putting on Constant Country KRS as soon as I logged on. And just like that, the days quickly flew by. But, this appreciation for country has extended even farther. While I’ve always watched GAC and CMT with sporadic interest, they are now an everyday staple. Somehow, country music has overtaken my life. And somehow, someway I feel okay with this. I’m comfortable with this new direction and to be quite truthful, I’m not sure I’ve heard a bad song in the past 16 days. Is country music that good or am I just easy to please?

Lord knows what the verdict is on that, but I for one am thankful for Live365 and Constant Country KRS.

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