Monday, August 29, 2011

My Prediction: 2011 NFL Season

A few months ago, we were talking about a season that may have not been. Now, we are back in action and talking about a season that will be. The NFL season for 2011 is up ahead and we are warming up, excited to watch this season kick off. This means that now is indeed the appropriate time to make predictions as to who is going to do what and how well each team will perform this season. I will be making predictions as to how well each team does with a record and a brief statement as to why they'll finish in this place with that record. Keep in mind that the numbers are not going to add up unless they magically do add up, as the standing will be a rough estimate. What will be accurate is the ranking in the division and how those numbers would signify their spot in the playoffs. Here are my predictions for the regular season...

AFC East

New England Patriots (14-2)- While the team picked up some notable players such as Chad Ochocinco to say the least, this team surely still has the hype and energy to sweep the league and be a force to be reckoned with.

New York Jets (11-5)- Rex Ryan's mad science has been genius in the Meadowlands. His team remains fresh and will continue to remain fresh and shadow the head coach and mastermind himself.

Buffalo Bills (5-11)- There hasn't been a ton of new direction for this team, but they should be making some kind of improvement soon.

Miami Dolphins (5-11)- At the moment, this team has gone haywire in its infrastructure. Chad Henne is mediocre at best and the commotion at the quarterback position will cost them many valuable wins.

AFC South

Houston Texans (10-6)- It's been eight seasons since the Texans joined the league and eight seasons without a trip to the playoffs. In a weakening AFC South and being a team on the rise, now may very well be their time to shine.

Indianapolis Colts (8-8)- Peyton Manning is coming into the season a bit rusty, the key talent is aging, the winning spirit is aging, and the last time a team whose stadium hosted the Super Bowl made it into the playoffs was during the 2000 season (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lost in the wildcard). Things don't seem to be panning well for the Colts.

Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)- The Jags look like their improving and they have some good players that are Fantasy Football stars at best. This team needs a new direction from Jack Del Rio's two playoff appearance career as head coach.

Tennessee Titans (3-13)- Unless Jake Locker is the overlooked quarterback of the century, the Titans have a long and bumpy road ahead of them.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)- The Steelers continue to be in shape and have a lot of steam from the season before. I believe they'll demonstrate major dominance like last season.

Baltimore Ravens (12-4)- The Ravens continue to be a major force to be reckoned with, and them and the Steelers have two of the best defenses in the league.

Cleveland Browns (7-9)- This team looks to be making major improvement. It's just going to take time until the Browns are back to good form.

Cincinnati Bengals (1-15)- This team will be the worst in the league and claim the #1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. They will need a few flagpoles if they want to reach the bottom of the barrel.

AFC West

San Diego Chargers (13-3)- While this team didn't stand out last season, they'll be back in form and dominate a mediocre division.

Oakland Raiders (8-8)- The Raiders are finally warming up again. What cost them a spot in the playoffs for this year was that Al Davis let Tom Cable go. Had he kept Cable, the team would have been able to remain consistent with the current plan and build on their success.

Denver Broncos (6-10)- While this team will see small improvement, the big concern is going to be the quarterback games going on between Orton and Tebow. Both are starter worthy, especially Tebow, who will most definitely make his big break elsewhere if things don't work out in Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)- This team had a good year last year and I just do see anything special coming from them this time around.

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)- If this "dream team" that struck a gold rush through free agency forms a chemistry, they'll be a threat in the league. If they crumble, they will just crumble. There is a variety of talent, though.

New York Giants (10-6)- The first part of the season will be smooth sailing, but the second part will determine their place. The Giants will contend in a three-way heat along with the Eagles and Cowboys, and will have to do it with some key losses (WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss to free agency, CB Terrell Thomas to injury).

Dallas Cowboys (9-7)- If the Cowboys struck best in the offseason, I felt they would be the division winner. They'll contend, but warming back up will be the most they do, and I have no idea how Tony Romo is going to be after spending the majority of last season benched with an injury.

Washington Redskins (3-13)- This team is still messy and will have to rely on some big miracles to win games, let alone make the playoffs.

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)- This team will be the dark horse team of the season. You have young and underestimated talent all around, including a young and underestimated leader in QB Josh Freeman.

New Orleans Saints (11-5)- The Saints remain nice and fresh, and Drew Brees is still a quarterback that is a force to be reckoned with. While they lost some talent to free agency, it won't frazzle them too much.

Atlanta Falcons (9-7)- Things tend to go back and forth in Atlanta. Not much has changed in the structure of the team, but the division has become mighty aggressive, which may cause them to fall short in the games that matter most.

Carolina Panthers (3-13)- The Panthers improve... by one game. This team is still not complete, and while they have Cam Newton as their QB, there isn't much else that stands out and proves to be fresh material.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers (13-3)- This team is just on fire! From Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, to their reliable receiving core and aggressive defense, this may very well be the dream team of the decade. I can very much believe that the Packers will be the dynasty team of the 2010's, just like they were when the Super Bowl started.

Detroit Lions (8-8)- There has been a mighty climb for Detroit since Jeff Schwartz took over as coach, but the pieces are starting to come together and this team is warming up to become a threat in the league. It may take time with the talent currently in the league.

Chicago Bears (6-10)- The Bears are on and off all of the time and it doesn't look like they have much going for them this time around. Jay Cutler is not reliable at the starter position and is great on some occasions and not great in others. When he's not great, it means disaster, and the Bears don't look like they'll be battling against the Packers soon.

Minnesota Vikings (4-12)- The Vikings now face the aftermath of dome woes and Brett Favre and I don't know which is worse.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (9-7)- The Rams missed the playoffs last season by the skin of their teeth, and with the weak division they are in and the rising talent they have, the Rams will most likely be the team that qualifies to represent their division going into the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers (7-9)- The Niners have made the effort to head into a new direction with new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The next thing they need to do is find themselves a quarterback that will lead them into the new and improved direction and call it quits with Alex Smith, who has done nothing to help the team make it big since being drafted in 2005.

Seattle Seahawks (5-11)- This team made it into the playoffs with a negative record and a mediocre team. This team doesn't really stand out so much and will falter to the rising Rams and Niners. Tavaris Jackson is not a franchise quarterback and Charlie Whitehurst is most definitely not one either.

Arizona Cardinals (5-11)- Perhaps, Kevin Kolb may do something to lead the team in the right direction since Kurt Warner retired, but it's going to take a lot to get this team out of the frazzling situation they are in.



(6) New York Jets defeat (3) San Diego Chargers, 21-14
(5) Baltimore Ravens defeat (4) Houston Texans, 17-7


(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat (6) New York Giants, 28-17
(4) St. Louis Rams defeat (5) New Orleans Saints, 38-23



(1) New England Patriots defeat (6) New York Jets, 24-21
(2) Pittsburgh Steelers defeat (5) Baltimore Ravens, 20-14


(1) Green Bay Packers defeat (4) St. Louis Rams, 41-6
(3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat (2) Philadelphia Eagles, 35-17

AFC Championship

(1) New England Patriots defeat (2) Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-24

NFC Championship

(1) Green Bay Packers defeat (3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 35-20

Super Bowl XLVI

Green Bay Packers defeat New England Patriots, 45-31

...and so that's how I think the 2011 NFL season is going to turn out. The Packers are the hottest team in the league (ironic, since they're from Green Bay, Wisconsin) and they will create the dynasty that the 2010's most definitely needs. They look as if they're still warm from last season and they will dominate even more on their way to reclaiming the Lombardi Trophy, as it very appropriate remains with the team that originally won the big game and named for the coach that originally coached them to that victory.

I look forward to the upcoming season and all I can do now is sit back and enjoy the games. As Hank Williams Jr. says on Monday Nights, "ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Question & Answer Session: August 2011

I really enjoy this segment where I get to directly talk about what my readers want me to. It provides a great amount of feedback as to what the readers are interested in and it gives me a message as to what I should do more or less of. While I skipped July's session, I am back for August with two new questions sent in by readers and or followers of mine. I really found these questions to be intriguing and juicy, and while one of them was an extremely simple question, the other takes a good amount of thought. I will answer each of your questions to the best of my ability and I hope the answers were nourishing.

If you can bring back any dead artist, which one would it be?

Given that this question has to do with a music artist, I feel I should reword the question to make it sound like this: Why do I think Roy Orbison should return from the dead? Yes, it is completely obvious that I would bring back Roy Orbison, but when you come to think about it, it may come as a good choice. Orbison died in 1988 at the age of 52 and at this time, he was making his comeback to music. Not only was it a comeback, but he seemed to be surrounded by much more hype than he was back in the sixties. Orbison made his big break with "Ooby Dooby" back in 1956 with The Teen Kings, found his signature as a solo artist with "Only The Lonely" in 1960, released his signature hit, "Oh Pretty Woman," in 1964, and from then until the eighties, he went through a dark period where he released a few songs and opened for some performers. His comeback was encouraged by various artists who either wrote music for him, performed with him, idolized him, or all of the above. Such artists include Bono, Jeff Lynne (of the Electric Light Orchestra), Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, k.d. lang, and the list keeps going on. "Roy Orbison's Black & White Night" featured Orbison perform hits with the likes of Springsteen, lang, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, among many others. He was also a part of (what I believe to be) the greatest supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, along with Lynne, Petty, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan.

When Orbison died in 1988, his posthumous career included released albums such as "Mystery Girl" and "King Of Hearts" and featured headlines in the newspapers that would have not been as big had he died in the seventies. Despite such a big comeback, I believe there could have been an even bigger comeback. He had a tour planned for 1989 and would have most definitely been a part of "The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3" (which followed "Vol. 1"). From there, we could have expected more concerts, duets, albums, music videos, and much more. I am only left to wonder what he would be coming out with if he was still alive.

Do you think we will end up in a double dip recession after the debt ceiling was raised?

I can say that the government is juggling with our banks like they're engaging in a sideshow act. If one of those pins drops, we are going to be in serious trouble. This looks like the making of another Great Depression, only Obama is not another Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While Roosevelt eased the situation with programs that held on until the Clinton administration, it was World War II that ultimately caused the end of the Depression by shifting the problem and forcing America to ration and make serious decisions. The only problem is that we never want to start a war. As far as I'm concerned, I think both sides should be ashamed of the job they're doing. It's more than just which party is better.

Balancing the budget should be a priority. If we as everyday people need to balance our own budgets, then the government should be absolutely no different. The problem should not be solved by expanding the budget, raising the ceiling, OR raising taxes. If the budget isn't balanced, then the government should be held responsible. If we're responsible for our budget, then the government should do the same.

We are bound to be going downhill and will have to find a solution to the problem if we want to keep from going downhill. It has to do with us as Americans looking into who we vote in and reading their background. The media does not give you enough information. If you want to solve our everyday problems, you have to start by doing your homework before you go out and vote.

Here are my answers to this month's questions for this month's session. Very good questions indeed! I look forward to my next session with new questions to answer. I encourage you to submit your questions and I'll answer as many of them as I can at the end of each month. You can simply submit them as a comment. I enjoy submitting to my blog and the experience is surely not the same without you the readers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Check This Blog: Flickers

This is Caponomics post #69, which means something substantial. I wrote a total of twenty-three Caponomics articles for my high school newsletter between April 2008 and June 2010, which means I'm up to triple the amount of submissions to my blog. The difference is my newsletter came out monthly, so I had the opportunity to write one Caponomics a month (though with the tournament reports, school events, and other submissions), I wrote more than just the twenty-three Caponomics. On here, I can submit whenever I have something to write about, so I don't have any guidelines on that end.

Speaking of guidelines, I decided to dissect the "Check This Out" segment even more. I will now be featuring my blog recommendations under a single title. Instead of the simple "Check This Out," it will be featured under "Check This Blog." This will give me the chance to point out blogs I am following and thoroughly enjoying, and think that you too should give a look at. My most recent find happens to be a blog about movies titled Flickers, which is a reliable movie blog with a good second opinion.

When it comes to critiques that stand out, the movie critiques happen to stand out the most, or at least during this day and age. Film criticism has especially gotten a big boost from critics such as Roger Ebert, as Ebert was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for his success in the craft. Reading Flickers, I had myself a ball reading each of the posts. Some of the various topics include the "Best Films Of *Insert Year*," a roundup of films currently in theaters, actors or actresses that were overlooked in 2010, and the list keeps going on and on. It will most definitely be a blog I keep up with and continue to see what other film related topics are flowing through the blogger's mind.

Blogs are really reaching their peek in this day and age, film reviews have been popular for much longer. When you combine the two of them together and you something really good. Aspiring film critics should take advantage of the Internet, and Flickers is indeed a prime example. Here's a second opinion that is straight-forward with what he's going to say and how he's going to say it, he presents the topic, and then explains his point of view on the topic. That's what a review is all about. I like variety within a topic and this blog surely allows me to like it more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Cheeses: Caerphilly

Cheese tasting is always a great experience, especially when you go to a place that puts a lot into preparing the cheeses to be tasted. This summer, one of the new cheeses I tried and enjoyed was a Welsh cheese known as Caerphilly. Though countries in the heart of Europe, such as France, are known better for their cheeses, the United Kingdom as a whole should be given credit for their cheeses. Cheddar is the most well known, especially over in America. However, Caerphilly is one of those cheeses that while not as well known, is surely a tasty delight. It's kind of like a hidden gem that you just have to keep looking for as you learn more and more about cheeses.

Caerphilly cheese was originally made for coal miners in Wales while on the job. It was made to fit their needs and provide them with the kind of nourishment they needed. While production was shifted in making Cheddar during World War II, it returned after the war due to production. Since Caerphilly matures quicker, product could come out faster. Since product came out faster, more money could be made quicker on Caerphilly. Not many farms make this cheese these days, but it continues to be produced, which is what matters most.

Caerphilly is a white, crumbly cheese that has a laid back, but effective taste to it. I haven't had the opportunity to pair it, but it could very well team up well with a cracker or something light that allows it to play the star in the pairing. It was good enough to go back for a few more servings and it would be something worth experimenting with when it comes to different pairings. Caerphilly cheese is made with cow's milk and aged for up to ten weeks. When it's ready to be eaten, it proves to be a tasty treat, melting in your mouth as a crumbly cheese should and generally does.

Caerphilly may not be at all places where imported cheeses are sold. If it's in your local supermarket ("if" being the keyword), you would find it with the other imported cheeses. You may have a better chance of finding it at a cheese shop or a specialty store that concentrates more on cheese or specialty food. However, it doesn't hurt to start by giving the supermarket an attempt. If you're eager to give this cheese a taste, you can start hunting any which way. If you want the product, and it will fulfill your needs, then it's worth the search: that's my motto for this topic of interest.

Ames Straw Poll 2011

The debate held in Ames, Iowa on Thursday ultimately led up to the straw poll that occurred two days later. During this event, the majority of the candidates (unless they skipped the event) attended the event and gave speeches, then waited to see how the attendees would vote. All these attendees needed was a $30 ticket and to vote, they needed to be eighteen by November 2012, which means anybody born on November 6, 1994 or earlier could vote. They also needed to be from Iowa, which is a given, since that's where the first caucus is held. With an intense race already in the works, the straw poll had a say in how things are looking.

Michele Bachmann won the poll with close to 29% of the vote. Ron Paul followed in second place by just 152 votes, or 28% of the vote. To be exact, he was just 0.9% behind Bachmann. Tim Pawlenty finished in a distant third with close to 14% of the vote, Rick Santorum followed with 10%, and Herman Cain took 9%. Receiving under 5% were Rick Perry (a write-in), Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Thaddeus McCotter, and several other write-in options. With the exception of McCotter, the others chose to skip the straw poll. Romney and Huntsman have already stated that they will be putting more of their time and effort into the New Hampshire primary.

Tim Pawlenty withdrew from the presidential race the next day after a distant third place finish. Going into the race, Iowa was going to be a battleground for both Bachmann and Pawlenty. Since both are from Minnesota, it came down to which of the candidates was most likely to stick out. In this case, it was Bachmann. I figured that this was going to be make or break for Pawlenty and his finish in the straw poll was going to have an impact on whether or not he would stay in the race. Rick Santorum looks like the only other candidate who put a lot into Iowa and would be a candidate that would withdraw due to a poor showing. At this point, though, it looks like Santorum will be fighting for his piece of the pie known as the Iowa Caucus. To me, Pawlenty seemed like a typical politician who was following the "Anti-Obama train" and had little to offer otherwise. His performance at the debate was poor and it cost him his spot in the presidential race.

The media and many other experts project that there are three frontrunners in the 2012 Presidential race: Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry. While they demonstrate a fine point, Ron Paul should not be counted out at all. Paul is the contrast as to the Republican status quo. He agrees with the fact that we need to rebuild America, but he contrasts on social issues and foreign policy. Many say that he has no chance to win, but that's not necessarily true. He currently has three straw polls to his credit for this cycle (CPAC, Republican Liberty Caucus Of California, and Republican Leadership Conference Of New Orleans, Louisiana), and while they don't determine the outcome in the primaries, they paint a picture as to the views of the voters. Bachmann beat Paul by the skin of her teeth in the Ames Straw Poll, and I feel that despite the fact the media has continued to look him over, Ron Paul should be really happy with his numbers (out 16,892 total votes cast). Paul also won 10% of the vote and the majority of one county in the Iowa Caucus back in 2008, which I feel will be a bigger number in 2012. However, his followers have to go out and vote. This is more than a reality show competition, this is actual reality. Herman Cain can also come out as a dark horse candidate, but he is going to have to gain some more recognition in order to go the distance.

The race will continue to become grittier as the months go on. We will just have to see how much of a battle Romney, Bachmann, and Perry fight out in the upcoming months, and whether or not candidates such as Paul or Cain will be able to build on their dark horse candidacies. The next debate will be held at the Ronald Reagan Library on September 7th, and after the debate in Ames Iowa, seeing the candidates duke it out with their views with only get more exciting.

American Idol Live 2011

Attending the American Idol concerts is a tradition of mine. I have been attending each concert since season four and have enjoyed each for the most part. On most occasions, the concert consists of the top ten from each season. However, this season, due to Casey Abrams being saved by the judges in the top eleven week, with this meaning two contestants would head home the next week, the entire top eleven was invited to go on tour. While this season followed a more scattered lineup, like earlier seasons, the concert was still a good one. With all top eleven at the concert (Katherine McPhee is the only contestant to miss a concert I've attended), this made for a complete show with a lot of excitement and variety.

Not only the order was different, but it wasn't always consecutive either. Most of the Idols got at least two solo performances. The exceptions to this rule were Naima Adedapo, Thia Megia, and Paul McDonald, who got one solo, Stefano Langone and Jacob Lusk each got one solo plus another with backup vocals, Lauren Alaina had two performances, plus one with backup, and Scotty McCreery had three solos and another with backup vocals, these backup vocals coming from other contestants. The others had two performances, not including duets, such as the memorable pairings of Scotty and Lauren, as well as Casey and Haley Reinhart. Pia Toscano, who already has a solo performance of her own, sang her new solo and "Empire State Of Mind."

I came to the show with a checklist of things I was looking forward to from the contestants, something I always do when attending. Let's see... Naima doing her entertaining African dance (to J Lo's "On The Floor" at that), check! Paul singing "Maggie May" and dancing like a headless chicken, check! Casey jazzing it up like he's a jungle man, check! Casey singing "Harder To Breathe," the performance in which kissed J Lo, check! Lauren singing "Like My Mother Does," which made the vocal talent part of the competition look like a dead heat, check! James Durbin, my personal favorite of the season, coming through the audience and making me wish I had front row seats, check! James rocking it out, check! Scotty singing his audition song ("Your Man") and "Gone," check! An excellent show all around, check! My checklist was satisfied.

I must say that this was the best season when it came to contestants, especially the top eleven. There was a wide variety of talent that satisfied the many genres of music that exist. This season was far more laid back and while Simon Cowell's departure was sure to shake things up, his departure also shifted the path in which the show would follow. It would be unfair to say that this path would automatically be a rocky one, because in actuality, this season of Idol was excellent!

I don't feel there is any need to rate of grade the Idols on their concert performance, because I felt that each of them did a fantastic job sticking out and giving me and the other attendees an unforgettable show. I would really look into attending the future Idol concerts and will also look into attending the concerts of the finalists from this season, especially if it was one of James's concerts. The only thing left to do is look to see what next season of American Idol brings and whether or not it could top or even match this season's group of talent. It'll be really tough, but it's still possible. As we wait throughout the fall, what's left to do is see how "The X-Factor" does on television. For now, for those of you who are waiting to attend the concert, I'm sure you're going to have a great time. For those of you who have already attended, I'm sure you could agree that you had a great time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Three Films I'm Looking Forward To Seeing This Fall

While I think about which "Fantastic Film" is the most deserving of being the film of this month, I ponder on another cinema-related topic. That topic being the three films I am most looking forward to seeing in the final third of the year. It seems as if the majority of the big, top-notch, Academy Award contending films usually premiere in the final part of the year. With the films that are out at the moment and the films that will be coming out later in the year, chances are it'll be the same. During the year, the films that to me were "films I had to see in theaters" included The Lincoln Lawyer, The Conspirator, Super 8, and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Here are three more films that will join the list as films I will take the effort to see in theaters.

Contagion- I have become a horror fiction enthusiast. I collect books from the best of the best in the field of horror fiction and I enjoy reading something that's going to keep me hooked. Good horror movies have been able to keep my attention, while those that follow the same old redundant story line have not. Contagion, based on the Robin Cook novel, is more of a medical thriller with the threat being a virus. They can call it a medical thriller all they want, but this is indeed a scary premise and it surely grabs my attention. I will risk the even larger fear of germophobia, something that is so hard to escape, but this could be a new phenomenon if everything works out right.

J. Edgar- Clint Eastwood has really made it big throughout the last decade as a director. He's directed Million Dollar Baby, Flags Of Our Fathers, Letters From Iwo Jima, Invictus, and the list keeps and will continue going on. J. Edgar will feature Leonardo DiCaprio, one of my favorite actors of modern day cinema, as the man behind the Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover. Not only will this film cover his rise and how he exercised his position, but also his closeted homosexuality. If this film hits it big, then there's a very good chance that this will be the film that takes the Academy Award for Best Picture. At the very least, Leonardo DiCaprio would take the Best Actor award. However, it's too soon to be making Academy Award predictions and the film will not be out until November.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo- While the Millennium trilogy has been completed in Sweden, it is only beginning in America. With Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, and Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, a strong cast means that this film has strong potential. Whether it skyrockets or not, this will be the film I am most eager to check out when it comes out on December 21st. I already have my calendar marked and whether I see it immediately or wait, I am looking forward to the event nonetheless, and I will most definitely see the film within the first week of release. This is going to be a very hardcore film with a definite R-rating, due to the severe content on every level. My rule remains the same: if the movie is good and original, that's all that matters.

My checklist of films has expanded and these are the films I have added. I will definitely evaluate the films after seeing them. Also, I will be definitely analyzing all of the films I saw this year in theaters at the end of the year. While I may not do a ranking list, since I don't get to see hundreds of new releases each year, I will do something to look back at everything I got to see. Then again, this is August, so I am speaking pretty soon. Still, this list will most likely not change a bit and I will be looking to watch these films when they come out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

FOX News Iowa Republican Debate

Leading up to the Ames Straw Poll tomorrow, FOX News held a debate for the Republicans that polled at least a 1% average in specific polls. Moderated by Bret Baier and featuring other moderators such as Chris Wallace, the debate featured Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich. The questions were of a wide range of topics such as the economy, jobs, foreign policy, social issues, education, as well as how others stood on specific issues. This was the first debate in which the Republican nominees began mudslinging one another unlike at previous debates, but there was sure enough mud to sling at Barack Obama, and the candidates took each opportunity they had. Like I have previously, I am going to review my thoughts on how each candidate did...

Rick Santorum- To be quite honest, this was the first debate in which Santorum actually stood out in some way. He wasn't the highlight of the night, but he's become the candidate who was the lowest polled to be allowed in the debate. This means he gets less speaking time, which he often pointed out. He stood out to being a rebel for his causes and standing the conservative ground on his many issues. He stood his ground on social issues and even went after Bachmann on a stance she took about going to states in order to influence their decisions. He also went after Ron Paul on the topic of Iran, which turned out to be a heated battle. Santorum was a maverick at this debate and he did what he needed to in order to get his point across. Even if it meant fighting the moderators for air time. While I still don't think it's going to help him get further, he took the steps to doing what he needed to. B-

Herman Cain- Cain made his mark in the first debate, continued to hold that mark down in his second, and while he wasn't as memorable in this debate, he was still himself. Like always, Cain gave clear answers that were easy to understand and were to the point. He mentioned a good plan to make the tax cuts permanent, he once again mentioned his steps to handling immigration, and he mentioned his other views on various other topics. While he seems to be fading with names like Romney, Bachmann, and Rick Perry, who will soon be joining the race, he still presents himself very well and continues to remain a good opinion for those who want a candidate who's strong points are on the economic end. While he's not so strong with other topics, he's perfectly human and will not be afraid to ask those who are stronger in certain topics. B+

Ron Paul- Ron Paul continues to be the contrast of the majority of the party. In this debate, he held up well and continued to receive the most applause for his answers. He stood by his views well, despite being placed on the spot many of times, and held his own against Rick Santorum in a heated debate against Iran. While the two were topping one another, Paul got the last word in what was probably the most aggressive I have ever seen him. He continues to back his support up with how we need to follow the constitution and continue our campaign for liberty, as that's his signature stance, like many others have theirs. While he's not the clearest speaker, his views come up very clear and satisfying. B+

Mitt Romney- Romney is the frontrunner candidate, thus he's going to get the most heat. Many of his questions had to do with that kind of heat. Whether it be for Romneycare or any of his other liberal leaning stances, he was placed on the spot. It seemed like he began to shift to his typical politician stance, as it seems like these are just old times again. He didn't necessarily stick out in a heated debate like Bachmann and Pawlenty did, but he is sure the one that has the most dirt on his hands for having liberal positions. At least he didn't crash and burn to the point there were flames in the building. C+

Michele Bachmann- Bachmann stuck out once again. She made her mark in the CNN Debate and now held her own in this debate. She had to battle Pawlenty on a war of words on certain issues (and in my mind, she won), she defended her stance in voting against raising the debt ceiling, and she gave a heartfelt defense on how she respects her husband. She also mentioned, which I heard her mention pretty much every time I heard her speak, that Obama will be a one-term president. She goes for the big lines and whenever she finds them, she says them. She's making a name for herself, whether in a good way or a bad way. Much like Sarah Palin, though I find Bachmann to be a better speaker. She took the right jabs at Pawlenty and she made the statements she needed to. B+

Tim Pawlenty- Pawlenty was out on the attack tonight. It began when the moderators arranged a question for both of the Minnesotans. Bachmann went after his vote on cap and trade, as Pawlenty went after her failure to push for a raise in the debt ceiling. It wasn't a very good excuse on Pawlenty's end to simply attack her on the inability to pass the bill. When he wasn't attacking Bachmann, he was attacking Obama. One of his memorable lines was that if anybody could find Obama's views on issues such as Social Security, he would come to their house and cook them dinner. He backed that up with an option of mowing their lawn. Then, on a question about a previous statement of Bachmann's migraines being a problem for her leading the country, Pawlenty said the real problem was the migraines Obama was causing on the American people. His attacks didn't really help him progress on issues and he lost the battle of the Minnesotans against Bachmann in the mudslinging match in the first part of the debate. He may also struggle in the Ames Straw Poll, which may affect him in the long run. Still, he had some memorable one-liners. C

Jon Huntsman- In Huntsman's first debate, he did not that the opportunity to benefit his campaign. He didn't stand out for any particular reason and spoke around some important questions. His answers to his support of civil unions and how he sent jobs overseas during his time as Utah Governor were very vague and I came out without any kind of impression. All I know is his record and that he served his country as the U.S. Ambassador to China. I commend him for his bipartisan service, but he really didn't stick out in the debate whatsoever. He just showed up and didn't directly answer the questions. While many candidates don't directly answer questions, we didn't come out knowing his clear stance on the issues. D+

Newt Gingrich- Gingrich was brutal in the debate. He had multiple stand out moments that really stuck out. First, he confronted Chris Wallace on asking too many "gotcha questions" when the questions should be far more important, saying that this was "Mickey Mouse" (which obviously means something else). He then blasted the super committee and blasted their general purpose. I also felt that he gave a strong final statement when he reminded us that the election is in fifteen months and that we need to urge our representatives to go head-on against the issues today, such as Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. Gingrich tends to use a lot of past events (a lot of which have to do with Ronald Reagan, a conversative icon) to support his answers. While he didn't get as much time, he explained what he needed to. B+

This debate seemed to accomplish more on the mudslinging and record defending end than it did on key issues. Picking a winner would be tough, but I feel that Herman Cain discusses his views with giving the least amount of filler, Michele Bachmann did a great job standing her ground, Ron Paul continues to hold a good ground on many heated stances, and Newt Gingrich showed the most common sense. There will be more debates in September, which include one at the Reagan Library, another by CNN, as well as another by FOX News. With Rick Perry entering the race soon, things should become heated. The Iowa Straw Polls may also hold some form of impact as the race continues.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Top Notch Television: Ebert Presents At The Movies

When the syndication years of At The Movies ended last year, I felt that it was a real shame that such a phenomenon started by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in their many "movie review" shows, in which they started syndicating in 1986, was coming to an end. While the show began to enter a slump, Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott were doing a fine job resurrecting the show, but it just seemed as if enough was enough. However, some of else felt that movie discussions were still appropriate for television, and Roger Ebert couldn't agree more. On that note, he created Roger Ebert Presents At The Movies (later shortened to Ebert Presents At The Movies), in which the format would be structured like the original show and the thumbs format (thumbs up for good, thumbs down for bad), which was pulled from the show in 2007, would return. The decision to resurrect the show was a great decision indeed.

Ebert Presents At The Movies features Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Originally, Elvis Mitchell from Public Radio was supposed to sit opposite of Lemire, but was soon dropped and replaced by Vishnevetsky. To me, Lemire tends to be a mainstream critic that reminds me of many of the good critics that review films. She is a great presenter with a great sense of humor, who has a wide range of cinema knowledge. Vishnevetsky, on the other hand, is a rebel when it comes to film criticism. He has very interesting tastes when it comes to films. A mad scientist of sorts. Vishnevetsky seems to look for the artistic attributes of a film and how that in itself made him feel. His knowledge of films is also really extraordinary. In one of the first episodes of the series, we learned about the films that inspired Lemire and Vishnevetsky to become critics. Lemire's happened to be familiar films (such as The Wizard Of Oz and No Country For Old Men), as Vishnevetsky's choice were more vague (such as Shoah and many silent films from back in the 1910's and 20's). That right there demonstrated the two different types of critics on the show and how they ultimately form a great chemistry.

The best part of any version of At The Movies is when one critic likes a film and the other doesn't, especially when one critic strongly likes the film and the other critic strongly dislikes the film. A prime example would be when Roger Ebert liked A Cop And 1/2 and Gene Siskel despised the film with a passion. Not only did this lead to a debate on this particular episode, but it was brought up in the list of worst films (Siskel named this film his worst film of 1993), and in other future episodes. While Lemire and Vishnevetsky are not as cutthroat as Siskel and Ebert could sometimes become, there were some pretty strong opinions. Such instances include Justin Bieber's Never Say Never, which Lemire liked and Vishnevetsky didn't, and Film Socialisme, which Lemire disliked and Vishnevetsky liked.

Another great aspect of Ebert Presents At The Movies is that the show is not just two critics reviewing films and then discussing (or sometimes debating) them afterward. There are also segments from guest contributors. You have journalist Jeff Greenfield, reviewer Kartina Richardson, who reviews movies so smoothly and artistically, thirteen year old Jackson Murphy, and the list keeps going on. Then, of course, you have Roger Ebert's own segment, "Roger's Office," where he submits something to the program, whether it be a review or thoughts on a specific cinema related subject. While Ebert lost the ability to speak due to a surgery in 2006, he continues to review and his opinions and love for cinema continue to remain strong. He has people read the reviews for him, and in most cases, it's Bill Kurtis who speaks for him.

At the moment we speak, Ebert Presents At The Movies is showing archives of classic material. The first of these episodes was an episode of Sneak Previews with Siskel and Ebert. The particular episode was "Going To The Movies With A Critic," which shows you how the two do their job. From the way they evaluate films to where they sit in the theater to whether or not they take notes to everything else in between, we learn a lot about the two of them and how they complete their job. The film they happened to be reviewing was "Black Marble," which incidentally Ebert liked a lot and Siskel thought wasn't as good. It's great to see such throwbacks that would be very hard to see without this show.

Ebert Presents At The Movies is a great edition to PBS, which runs off of the WTTW network in Chicago, the network that gave Siskel and Ebert their big break. I feel that this is a perfect reference to the cinema of now and then. This show, which is produced by Ebert's wife, Chaz Ebert, has a great cast of contributors that make the show great. Along with contributor segments and reviews of films coming to cinema, there is also "Hot & Now," in which the critics make their recommendations to films that are coming to DVD. I also like the ending of each episode, in which you see a segment of either a previous episode of At The Movies, or a past review from Roger Ebert.

What ever the reason, this show should be something to check out, especially if you're a movie buff. Even if you're unable to catch it on TV, you can easily find the show online. When you watch the show online, the reviews are separated by film, as are the segments. Nonetheless, watching this show online is still a great experience, and not much different from watching the show in general. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert are influences to my style of writing and watching them, whether through the archives or through the legacy that they have either left or are leaving behind, is a plus in my book. Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky are doing an excellent job as chief critics, and I look forward to seeing them reviewing, discussing, and debating even more films. I would definitely give this show two thumbs up, but since Roger Ebert trademarked the use of thumbs, I will say that this show is simply excellent!

My Prediction: Anne Burrell Will Be "The Next Iron Chef"

When you have the right challenger and the right "Iron Chef" up against one another, you can surely have yourself a competitive and entertaining battle. You can spice it up even more by bringing in an exciting secret ingredient. However, the selection of Iron Chefs on "Iron Chef America" is the most important thing when it comes to a good battle. At the moment we speak, the Iron Chefs include Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon, Jose Garces, and Marc Forgione. The cast for "The Next Iron Chef" has been announced, and unlike last season, this season features more well-known names. You have Anne Burrell, Michael Chiarello, Elizabeth Falkner, Alex Guarnaschelli, Chuck Hughes, Robert Irvine, Beau MacMillan, Spike Mendelsohn, Marcus Samuelsson, and Geoffrey Zakarian. This group is not only culinary talented, but would also make a great and entertaining addition to the pantheon of Iron Chefs. However, I can boldly make a prediction as to what is going to happen. I would honestly be very shocked if Anne Burrell does not win the program, because her resume on Iron Chef, with other television shows, and with other projects puts her as the front runner to win the program.

Anne Burrell got her start under mentorship from the great Lidia Bastianich, someone I have had the privilege to meet as well as eat at her restaurant. "Lidia's Italy" also happens to be one of my favorite cooking shows. She ultimately got her break from working with Lidia's son, Joe Bastianich (who is a judge in Gordon Ramsay's "MasterChef") and Mario Batali. She was ultimately tapped by Mario Batali to be one of his sous chefs on "Iron Chef America" and the two have worked together ever since. She has since been on TV shows such as "Secrets Of A Restaurant Chef" and "Worst Cooks In America," in which she starred with Beau MacMillan in season one and Robert Irvine in season two. Burrell and Irvine have since become rivals on shows such as "Worst Cooks In America," "Iron Chef America," and "Chopped" through their many appearance with one another.

Now for the reason why I think Anne Burrell will win and should win "The Next Iron Chef"... she's the complete package. In more detail, Burrell has a great personality that will make a great addition to "Iron Chef America," she is a great chef, and she has the record to prove it. When Mario Batali was an Iron Chef, he only lost five battles, and I can name the competitions he lost: Tag Team battle Fruits de Mer with Hiroyuki Sakai against Iron Chefs Flay and Morimoto, Battle Mushrooms against Anita Lo, Battle Shrimp against Traci Des Jardins, Battle Andouille Sausage against John Besh, and Battle White House Garden with Emeril Lagasse against Flay and White House chef Cristeta Comerford. Aside from that, winning nineteen battles sure outweighs the losses.

Another tell-tale sign is the fact that Cat Cora has left "Iron Chef America" for undisclosed reasons, though I'm thinking that she is simply busy. She is no longer mentioned in the opening credits, thus that generally confirms once and for all that you are no longer competing. Though I'm completely pro-merit, I believe that "Iron Chef America" will be looking to fill the gap Cat Cora left, and of the females competing, what better choice than Anne Burrell. I will totally look forward to watching her compete, and it would feel like a rookie quarterback playing his first game. It will feel more like the show brought in a great new idea that will only make the show much more exciting. I think Anne Burrell's ready to make a comeback to the show and this time be the leader of the brigade. I wish the other competitors the best when it comes to competing for "The Next Iron Chef," but I think that it would simply be shocking if Anne Burrell doesn't win it all.

Anne Burrell has a new book coming out called "Cook Like A Rock Star," which in the title itself makes it exciting. I could only imagine what kind of recipes will be inside. The only thing I know for sure is that I will really look in to getting it.

Finally, I feel that the ultimate battle would be a fourth rematch between Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine for the grand title. While Robert Irvine would be just as fitting, I'm going to stand by my prediction. Burrell beat Irvine three times before and while the third time is a charm, the fourth time is more than that. In this case, it will be for the title of "The Next Iron Chef."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Questions For Caponomics August 2011

I did not do a session of answering questions for the readers last month, since there were none to answer. I was considering replacing that with a simple this or that post for the month of July, but felt to instead give it a break for the month. For the month of August, I will be open to answering questions that you the reader may have. Whether it be about a topic I have already covered or a topic that I haven't. At the end of the month, I will answer as many of the questions as I can to the best of my ability.

Feel free to submit questions in the comment area. I will answer all of the questions together in the last week of August. It's great to be able to cover topics that you, the reader, would like to see covered.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pluto The Dwarf Planet

In 2006, the lineup of planets in our Solar System were shaken up when Pluto was eliminated from the lineup. I can remember this very well when it was on the news. I also remember that in my first Critical Thinking game during my freshman year of high school, "How many planets are in the solar system?" was one of the questions. My partner and I got the question right with "eight," despite another team debating that answer, we ultimately won the game, and got the first spot on that year's "Superstars Board." Five years later, this is still the case. Pluto is considered a dwarf planet along with a handful of others and this won't be challenged again until 2015, which is when a spacecraft will arrive and determine whether or not it qualifies as a planet. The question is, was it the right decision?

Many people feel that Pluto is a piece of their childhood education. I learned about the nine planets back in first grade and took a real liking to the order of the planets, how each planet stood out, the biggest to smallest, and anything else about them. Surprisingly, I didn't memorize them like most people did. Many remember the acronym "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies," or something with that tune, give or take a few words. I remembered them by the simple order, as that was how I was introduced to them. In fifth grade, I had to create my own version of the Solar System using Styrofoam balls I would paint, and as I look back, I should have used Model Magic or something of that caliber. I also had the planets hanging on a string horizontally about my bed when I was younger. That was my childhood nostalgia when it came to planets, something many would have. However, when you look deeper and deeper into the structure of the Solar System, you begin to realize that Pluto may not be like the others.

People have favorite planets for different reasons. Pluto happens to stand out in the way that it's the smallest and most furthest planet from the sun. It happens to have so many differences from the other planets, that this led to Pluto's demotion. Recently, new planets have been discovered, not in the structure as the others. You have Eris, Sedna, Orcus, Quaoar, Varuna, 2005 FY9, and 2003 EL61. Then... you also have Charon. To those who memorize the moons as well, Charon happens to be Pluto's only moon, though it's half of size and could very well be a dwarf planet itself in the way it functions. When looking at a graph on, I saw that Eris is actually larger than Pluto. The two are both a part of the Kuiper Belt, which means either Eris equally qualifies as being a planet or Pluto is just a dwarf planet.

There were reasons for Pluto's ejection. While it orbits the sun like the other eight planets, Pluto hasn't cleared its own orbit and is just 0.07 times as massive as anything else in its orbit. Earth, on the other hand, is 1.7 million times as massive as anything else in its orbit. It has been tough to determine the way Pluto functions, but since it's half rock and half ice, Pluto would become a comet in the event that it orbits the sun.

Due to all of this reasoning, either many dwarf planets would become regular planets or Pluto would become a dwarf planet. While Pluto may have been demoted because it was the easier thing to do, it made the most scientific sense. Pluto was only discovered in 1930, so for seventy-six years, we have been learning about the nine planets of the Solar System. At this point, we were given the option to learn about eight or put more on our plate. Maybe we can simply bring the dwarf planets into account and give them a lesson of their own. You have the eight major planets that function like the usual planets and then you have the dwarf planets, which include Pluto and the rest of the gang.

I'm not one of the expert astronomers who dissects the issue, but given that expert astronomers know best about their field, they should be the ones who make the decision as to what's a planet and what's a dwarf planet. Despite the fact that we remember learning about Pluto being one of the nine planets, enough evidence has been given that Pluto would make a better dwarf planet. I haven't attended a first grade class since first grade, so I would have no idea how they are presenting this information to children. You could easily say that "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles" with the eight planets. As for the dwarf planet concept, that would easily confuse first grades, especially with those being on the border. I have no problem being served noodles by my very educated mother, just as long as they're real and not prepacked like ramen noodles.

Excellent Reads: Stephen King's "Hearts In Atlantis"

The summer is such a wonderful time of the year. While the temperatures become scorching hot and muggy, and you sometimes get to the point where you feel as sweaty as a cheese, it's still such an excellent time. Being able to take advantage of the longer days (longer amounts of sunlight, that is) and engage your senses in the many opportunities that lie ahead. When you put summer and a great author together, magic is made! A prime example is in Stephen King's "Hearts In Atlantis," where he captures the Vietnam era in five segments of literary genius. I read this book out in the beautiful summer and enjoyed every moment of it. I will do my best to not reveal anything from the book, though the five stories do connect with one another.

While "Hearts In Atlantis" is the second serving Stephen King, the master of modern day horror fiction, has to offer, it serves as the chief title. We'll get back to that one, though. The first serving is "The Low Men In Yellow Coats," which is about a boy named Bobby Garfield, who lives with his agitated mother, loves to read, and hangs out with Carol Gerber and John Sullivan (also known as "Sully"). He soon befriends an old man, Ted Brautigan, who moves into the apartment in which they live. He's a mysterious man who reminisces about the "Low Men In Yellow Coats," who are coming after him. Ted also pays Bobby to read the newspaper for him, the money in which Bobby is saving up for a new bike. Bobby and Carol become close, and while they go their separate ways, "Hearts In Atlantis" is set while Carol is in college during the middle of Vietnam. Pete Riley is the center character in this story. He is not mentioned in "Low Men In Yellow Coats," but many side characters are and the males fear being drafted into the military. The title "Hearts In Atlantis" comes from the fact that Pete hangs out with a group of guys who play hearts for low stakes and Atlantis refers to a magical place where hearts are protected by innocence. Bobby is not in this story, but is mentioned as Carol reminisces about her childhood to Pete.

The other three stories, "Blind Willie," "Why We're In Vietnam," and "Heavenly Shades Of Night Are Falling" (which is indeed named for the opening lyrics in The Platters song "Twilight Time), tell about the aftermath of those folllowing Vietnam. "Blind Willie" is about Willie Shearman, a bully from the first story, who disguises as a blind beggar. He ultimately regretted what he did. John Sullivan and Ronnie Malenfant reunite in "Why We're In Vietnam." Finally, in "Heavenly Shades Of Night Are Falling," Bobby Garfield returns to his hometown to attend a funeral and resolves events that happened during his childhood, mainly those with Ted Brautigan and Carol Gerber.

I must admit that "Hearts In Atlantis" happens to be one of the very few novels in which I watched the film for before I read the book. However, the film is far different in how it basically concentrates on "The Low Men In Yellow Coats" and follows the basic premise of "Heavenly Shades Of Night Are Falling," but changes up the story. While I enjoyed the movie, it did not do the book complete justice (just like "The Running Man"). I thought the film held some kind of cinema magic, but then I read the book, and I immediately felt that the book shined way above the film.

Back to the book in general, "Low Men In Yellow Coats" captured an era and sent me on a direct one-way trip to 1960. Stephen King is known for being able to capture the innocence of childhood and he did it well in this segment. While this novel is not directly horror fiction, this is a scary book, and scary in a way that vampires and zombies can never be. "Hearts In Atlantis" captured the fear of the Vietnam War and how people were within one random decision of being sent out to war and possibly never returning home. While I thought that "Blind Willie" and "Why We're In Vietnam" were not as strong as the other three, it surely made an impact on what Vietnam did to people and how things that happen in the past can affect how they are in the present. "Heavenly Shades Of Night Are Falling" was one of the most magical endings I have read. Something that not even "...and they all lived happily ever after" could compete with. While it wasn't a fairy tale ending, it was great for such a novel. Something was resolved and I shall say nothing more.

I must say that the summer in "The Low Men In Yellow Coats" really drew out how a summer should be lived, innocently and with as much fun as you can handle. For kids, this is a simple task. For adults, they should find the time when they are not working. I also very much enjoyed the kiss on the Ferris wheel Bobby gave to Carol in "The Low Men In Yellow Coats." It leads me to thinking that while Ferris wheels are not my cup of tea, I would be interested in trying this myself if and when I ever take a female I'm dating to an event with a Ferris wheel. Then again, it won't be as innocent, because I'm not a kid. Still, it shows a positive expression.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Let's Be Brutally Honest: You Want To Be An Illusionist? Make Your Material Original!

I like watching illusionists that are excellent at their craft. I've seen many brilliant demonstrations throughout times in which I was granted the ability to watch one. Whether it be on "America's Got Talent," on shows such as "Criss Angel Mindfreak," in movies such as "The Illusionist," or in many other possible scenarios. The three of them either have or should have something in common... originality. A great illusionist is someone who can create their own material or introduce us with some acts that have never been done before. When I want to see magic be made, I want to enjoy what I'm watching and then think about what I saw later on. The harder it is to come up with a possibility, the better the trick. I shall warn you that I will be giving away some as to how each of the tricks are done, so if you still want to know how they pull a rabbit out of a hat, you shouldn't read on.

On the contrast, many illusions are overdone and demonstrate that this is not an act that is original. Like any other act, you have to stand out. Illusions are no exception. In this particular genre of entertainment, I'm tired of seeing card tricks that are so overdone, which include many of the card tricks that are being done by amateur illusionists. They can fall under the title of being "birthday party magicians," with magicians being the key word. They will entertain the little ones, but they don't belong in the big leagues until they can take their act one step up. I did, however, see card tricks take a step up when they were featured on "Phenomenon," where one illusionist did a "Human Lie Detector" trick. With this bender, he told his assistant (in this case a "Deal Or No Deal" model) to keep answering "no" when he asked what shade of card she was holding (and he couldn't see). He was easily able to figure out simply by the way she turned her head. The fact it's a reflex is an illusion in itself.

Other overdone acts include the rabbit out of the hat (which is simply scooping up the rabbit), the sawing the body in half (which is simply an act of contortion), the many disappearing of the assistant acts, and the list keeps going on and on and on. However, with those overdone tricks come some acts of variety that make you think about how this trick could be done. Just recently on "America's Got Talent," I saw a magician named Landon Swank, who popped out of a mirror. How he did it I'm still attempting to figure out. Then you have the many acts of Criss Angel, who continues to come up with bigger and better things. One that sticks out is the one in which he has a roller coaster go through him. Another great illusion act is the duo of Penn & Teller, who have a variety of illusions and they perform them in such an entertaining way. The list keeps going on and on as to who's a good act. From Houdini to Copperfield to everybody in between.

When you think about how an illusionist has a wide range of creativity, you start to wonder "what's the need for the redundant world of illusions?" If you want to make rabbits pop out of hats, perform overdone card tricks, or slice a body in half, do it at children's birthday parties, not as a major act. I wouldn't even bother buying a magic trick book either, unless these are tricks that actually stick out as being new. Another important thing to know... keep creating new material! You need to have enough material to make you an entertaining act, or you are going to be considered one dimensional. The more material you create, the more exciting an illusionist you will be. You want to have everyone wanting more, not be labeled as "the guy who does *insert the redundant act*.

Illusions are meant to entertain, meant to make the audience think about what they just saw and come out talking about it. Illusions are far from being a redundant field, you just need brilliant minds that create material that's worth watching.