Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shark Tank Season 3, Episode 2

I have done week by week reviews of American Idol, which in fact made up the meat of the majority of my work on Caponomics during the first few months. I felt that it would be a good idea to do the same with Shark Tank. My Shark Tank posts have proven to be fairly popular according to my stats, as both my pieces are in the top ten. Now let's get to business... literally speaking. Episode 2 of Shark Tank was filled more so with entertainment value, whether it be fun entertainment, seeing idiocy be brought down entertainment, emotional entertainment, or just zany entertainment. Only one of these bits of entertainment actually made it in the tank tonight. The sharks featured in the episode were Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and Robert Herjavec. I am going to issue this warning: if you did NOT see the show and want to view the events on your own, DO NOT READ ON. This post WILL be issuing spoilers. This will apply to my other reviews of Shark Tank as well.

First into the tank was Steve Gadlin with a business called "I Want To Draw A Cat For You." This line was just random drawings of cats that delivered some kind of humorous message. He drew cats for occasions, such as a birthday, or for any kind of theme. He admitted to thinking of most of his ideas on the toilet and gave a zany presentation that included the format in which he spoke and the way he danced while doing it. The dance was absolutely catchy. The original offer was $10,000 in exchange for 25% of the company. Mark Cuban gave a counteroffer of $25,000 in exchange for 33%. Gadlin closed the deal with Cuban when he promised to draw a cat for every thousand sketches were made.

The next entrepreneur wanted to sell a company in which he was training people to become better salespeople. The only problem was, he was not such a good salesperson. Daymond John wanted him to sell him the pen he was holding, but did not convince him. With most of the sharks out, Mark Cuban tested him by offering him the exact offer: $90,000 for 40% of the stake in the company. He wanted to hear from Barbara Corcoran, the other shark remaining, but Cuban informed him that he failed the test of having something at his fingertips and blowing it away. Corcoran continues her streak of not making a single investment throughout the season. The entrepreneur left the tank empty-handed, coming off as being rude.

For the update, I strongly believed that "CitiKitty," the toilet training product for cats, would be revisited at least sometime during the season. Now happened to be the time. Kevin Harrington, who generally sat in the spot Mark Cuban is occupying, invested in this product. He was with the creator as they went to Walgreen's to promote the product.

Next up was Rick Smith Jr., a magician who wanted the sharks to invest in his magic show. He holds a record for throwing a playing card and he demonstrated this by hitting a stick of celery. He also had Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary sitting in chairs facing one another, lighting the lighter under Cuban's chair and it ends up hitting O'Leary. O'Leary took the lighter and wanted to strike revenge. The magic was incredible, but unfortunately, the price was major. Smith Jr. priced the magic show at $1,500,000, which was too rich for the sharks. They all went out.

To close the show, Donny McCall came on with a product called the "Invis-A-Rack," that was meant to allow you to organize what you needed to on the back of a pickup truck, but containing the same look to the truck. The product was really a good idea, though it needed a bit of work and McCall did not want to head overseas. In the business world, avoiding overseas business is not something the sharks wanted to risk. This was an emotional moment for Robert Herjavec, knowing from offhand experience about working your way up in the business world. He cited how his father worked his way from the bottom up as a factory worker when he immigrated to Canada from Croatia. He added that his father was made fun of, but he kept his strive and worked his way up in the business world, but still felt his time as a backbreaking worker was what he enjoyed the most. He broke down while telling this story. Mark Cuban came the closest to making an offer, but couldn't, due to the prices not being able to match up.

This final segment brings up a topic of discussion. This is the fact that the American dream is still alive and how this man is encouraged to contribute to the "Made In America" goal. While he may have not succeeded on the show, he did receive some recognition. Hopefully, his product does succeed and contributes to yet another product that can be considered a purely American product. On the other hand, Herjavec does prove a point when it comes to immigration holding such a fine opportunity. Just about every American immigrated to this country from another country. We immigrate in order to find opportunity, which was the message Herjavec was trying to deliver. I must admit that the story he told was emotional, even on my own end, as it goes to show you the strive "sharks" have to take to get to the position they are. In his case, it wasn't easy, but that's what makes the dream even better.

Shark Tank returns next week with several new entrepreneurs trying to see if the sharks will invest in their product. Will we see the next big thing? Will we see big dollar amounts? Plus will we see Barbara Corcoran make an offer? Those questions will be answered on next week's show.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Television Review: Shark Tank Season 3 Premiere

The return of Shark Tank was one thing I was looking forward to during the upcoming television season. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two seasons and find it exciting that it's back for another go-around. The sharks this season include Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and Robert Herjavec. This season, Cuban got a promotion from three episodes last season to every episode in this. For three episodes this season, Lori Greiner of QVC will be sitting in for Corcoran. It's unfortunate that Kevin Harrington was not asked to participate this season, because while he doesn't have much of a personality like the others, he does have a lot to offer.

In the premiere, the sharks included an entrepreneur who created a water bottle that you can open from the bottom in order to keep both sides clean. He got help from basketball center Bill Walton. His personality was greedy, pick and choosy, but at the same time confident and aggressive, which is somewhat of a positive trait in the world of business. Other ideas included a funeral planning service, a ghost writing service, and a night club planner. The night club planner was the only other deal that got any form of output from any of the sharks. Every shark, with the exception of Corcoran, jumped into the action when it came to engaging in making investments of any kind. Then again, Barbara Corcoran was known for not investing in many of the memorable products of previous seasons. Instead, her investments were based off of sentiment and on products that weren't necessarily popular among the majority of sharks. In this episode, we saw that it's not always the best offer that comes off on top, but sometimes it's the investor that fits best.

This should be an exciting season of Shark Tank. There's a lot in store as to what we could see this upcoming season. Chances are the intensity is going to drastically increase. The key fault seems to be the increase of visibility when it comes to the bridge between great quality products and entertainment value. The celebrity assisted products, the clueless entrepreneurs, and the subtraction of Kevin Harrington in exchange for Mark Cuban (and last season Jeff Foxworthy) seem to contribute to the entertainment value. While entertainment is key, good products should hold the most importance. We want to see entertaining pitchpeople, but they also need a product that is worthy of moving forward.

We'll just have to see what this season holds, because I will surely be watching it.

Verdict: 9/10

Excellent Reads: Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games"

Young adult fiction has made an impact on American pop culture. You can add world pop culture into the mix if you really want to. Series' such as Harry Potter and Twilight have stirred up a ton of conversation, whether this be good or bad. Harry Potter was a well written series with a brilliantly created utopia filled with wizards. I'm not a fanatic for the series and feel indifferent about the remainder of the legacy. I have never read Twilight, but have heard of the concepts and do not agree with them. I'm a fan of the genre of horror fiction, which includes everything from the supernatural, the psychological aspects, to the structure of the characters. The structure of the creatures, vampires and werewolves in this case, is poor (vampires that sparkle, c'mon!!!).

I decided to begin reading The Hunger Games, because I liked the concept. A reality competition in which districts fight against one another in order to survive, due to a punishment that came about after natural disasters reduced America as a disaster land known as Panem. A lot could be done with such a concept. I watch reality and game shows, began reading Stephen King's The Long Walk and finished reading The Running Man, two works that featured a competition that could really mean life and death. On Survivor, the worst that could happen is that you're eliminated from the competition and you go home having wasted time on a deserted island. In novels like The Hunger Games, you could never come out alive.

The story concentrates on Katniss Everdeen, who comes from District 12. This is the coal mining district and the lowest of the low... at least ever since District 13 was destroyed. Her father died in a mining explosion and her mother lost her sanity. This meant Katniss became in charge of the family, which includes her mother and sister, Prim. Katniss enjoys spending time in the woods, hunting and gathering with a male friend of hers named Gale.

The Hunger Games is a major event run by the authorities of Panem. People treat the event with more commitment than they treat any form of entertainment. A big deal is made out of everything. You have a male and female from each district selected to compete, then there's the makeup, the interviews, the reality show aspect, the side betting, the sponsors, and the audience participation and interaction with the show. This all occurs with young lives on the line. The feeling feels much like the Vietnam War meeting "The Running Man."

For the story aspect, Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister when her sister is chosen and is joined by a guy named Peeta Mellark. The competition is only the beginning of things. The way that the competition plays out and the influence of the authorities and society makes the competition all the more juicy.

I'm a fan of the first book of the series! I like the concept of a reality show that actually plays as being a big deal. It plays much more of a big deal than just about anything else, because there are innocent lives that are on the line. Thinking of it that way may come off as being immoral, but the fact that this may be our future is far more possible than we could imagine. The fact that someone is being forced to tribute themselves for a decision that they didn't even make plays a lot like the drafting process during the Vietnam War. The fury that comes out with such an idea is what makes the story so good. I also like the development of the characters, all of them serve a purpose.

It's also a surprise that Suzanne Collins worked behind the scenes with Nick Jr. She then goes ahead and creates a series that is considered young adult fiction, but much of this comes from the fact that there are young adults participating in the series. This is extremely dark, incredibly violent, and paints a drastic picture of a disastrous future. I will not suggest approaching this book with caution, because I do not believe in literary censorship. If you can handle the concept, then go right ahead and enjoy, because there's a lot to enjoy.

If this were a regular book review, the Verdict for this book would be a 10/10, just like the majority of my excellent reads.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Let's Be Brutally Honest: Songs Need More Variation In Arrangement

Much of the music that's coming out of this current time period really does not hold very good quality. It's not so much about talent, but more so showmanship and being able to attract the group of people you are trying to appeal. Some of these performers are actually creating their own habits that are beginning to create trends for those who listen to a singer's performance or watch them perform. Then you have performers that can actually create their own music and make the music come alive. However, there is also a bit of an issue on that end, and it all has to do with the creativity aspect...

When I'm listening to the radio, I often see songs following the same format. This format is: starting verse, rising verse, starting chorus, continuing verse, continuing chorus, final verse, final chorus, and close. Music is often featured in the beginning of the song and commonly somewhere else in the song, the middle may be most common. The title of the song is generally mentioned at the end of each of the choruses and repeated at the very end, unless the last line is the first line. I always see Taylor Swift following this format. I commend her for her creativity, but I just wish she would change up the way she arranged the song. Many other singers follow such a format when there are so many ways a song could be arranged. Even the songwriter can create new, rarely if ever used arrangements.

Several prime examples exist. The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" features the chorus at the beginning and toward the end of the song. The remainder of the performance is new material that makes it as if the performance is musical poetry. Sometimes the chorus could be included in most to all of the verses. Examples include the Traveling Wilburys songs "End Of The Line" and "The Wilbury Twist," where the beginning or end almost always remains the same in each verse, but the words change up. Next, you have the story format, where the song continues to flow until the very end, although a chorus may be included, such the case includes "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band, "Big Bad John" by Jimmy Dean, "Went You're Hot You're Hot" by Jerry Reed, and several more country songs (and perhaps a few rock and roll songs).

Then there are songs that follow a format with just a continuing story. Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" not only has a continuing story, but it plays as if it is a rock opera, which is what Freddie Mercury intended. There are different stages with different tones. The performance is nearly ten minutes long. Other such performances include Roy Orbison's "The Crowd," which features verses without a chorus that is repeated again later in the song, PLUS unlike many songs that start out on a low note and end on a low note, this performance gets right to the point, rises at the climax and ends on a high note. Many of Orbison's earlier songs do not follow the typical format that just about everybody uses these days. 

Performers have often been guilty of simply using the same background to each of their performances and just changing up the words. In the sixties, a group called Dick & Dee Dee performed a hit called "The Mountain's High." There was another song of theirs that followed just about the same format, but with different words. Many early groups are guilty of doing this and it should be frowned upon, especially for those who want to be known for their creativity in a certain genre.

I really look forward to seeing what kind of talent could come out in our future for music. I'm sure that there are plenty of singers and songwriters that could break out and express their creativity. I'm also hoping that they have a lot to bring to the table when it comes to how they arrange their music. Sometimes, I think I'm hearing the same song, but just with different words and different music. I want to be wowed by somebody who's going to give me something different and stick out in the crowd.

The music industry is a growing industry with stars of all shapes and sizes, sometimes literally. Some of which make me feel like I'm riding down the road and flowing through paradise. Others make me feel like I'm hanging out with my refrigerator. As long as creativity and originality exists, then such industries that rely on creativity will continue to operate.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Television Review: !ROB!

Rob Schneider's acting is sick and twisted... and so is this sitcom. Schneider felt the need to create a sitcom about marrying a Mexican woman and having to deal with her Mexican family. The show is filled with Mexican humor and what ever else Schneider thinks will contribute to a dream sitcom featuring Mexicans. The first episode pretty much provided me with everything I needed to know.

Rob Schneider plays Rob, a short, middle-aged man, who is compulsive in the way that everything needs to be orderly. He marries his wife, Maggie (played by Claudia Bassols) in Las Vegas and in a very quick and careless fashion. Mexican families are known for making a big deal about the occasion of getting married, but with Rob and Maggie, it was just tie the knot and have a nice day. Rob wants to spend some time with Maggie, alone in bed, when Maggie informs him that she wants him to meet her family. Her family includes her dad, Fernando, who is played by Cheech Marin, her mother, grandmother, uncle, and everyone else in between.

I watched the first episode and I was filled in with everything I needed to know. Maggie grew up in an overprotective family and her parents do not approve of Rob. He doesn't make a good first impression and the next few impressions aren't so good either. *SPOILER ALERT IN THE EVENT YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN THE SHOW. IF YOU DO, SKIP THE PARAGRAPH, IF NOT, CONTINUE...* He makes Mexican related comments, has a spat with a child in the family, knocks over mourning candles in Maggie's grandmother's room, and gets into a scuffle where he ends up looking like he's humping Maggie's grandmother. She leaves angry, but quickly brushes off the issue and offers to engage in makeup sex. He remains clumsy when the family comes to their house and engages in things such as dropping his cell phone in the drink. Ultimately, there's a moral and Rob expresses how he loves Maggie, and hopes her family understands.

Despite having a few laughs, including Rob's scuffle with the grandmother, this show is just pathetic. The first episode was pretty much the finished product. Rob Schneider continues to contribute to his suggestive acting career, Cheech Marin's notion hasn't changed much either (I couldn't make it through a Cheech & Chong film), and the rest of the acting is just poor. Maggie's character is just about as two-faced as they come, and it's like there is no off switch, and the rest of the family has their moments, but that's about it. Oh, and the uncle is a creeper.

If this show makes it past one season, then it's a miracle. Stay away from this show. There's so much more you could do with thirty minutes. It's very likely that the material will run out quicker than the flavor in a Chiclet. You may get a laugh or two, but it will only take time before you realize "what the heck is this?" A sick little show indeed.

Verdict: 3/10

Cait Darcy

For the record, I am not a professional talent agent. I am just an ordinary blogger who likes good music. Then again, with some of the music these days, just about anyone could be qualified to be a talent agent. What I do know is that talent agent or non-talent agent, there are performers that are just good at what they do. I went to high school and sung in a quartet with a guy named Mathew Pope, who's working to become a country music star. Then I heard of and got to know somebody named Cait Darcy. Just a humble individual who sits behind a guitar, strums the strings, and comes out with excellent music. This is somebody I would like to be able to watch advance through the ranks.

The southern part of my county held an American Idol-like competition that was intended to be an annual hit. Since my family is involved with the Rotary, which held the competition, they contributed their time and many of us attended the shows. I met Cait Darcy during the second go-around. She came off as being the girl with the guitar, who had such a good stage presence, but in a way that was NOT in your face. She also happened to represent my high school... or at least the high school I would have went to had I not been going to private school instead. During the competition, her performances ranged from Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," both of which were excellent in their own way. I am far from being a Lady Gaga fan, but turning it into an acoustic performance is a brilliant idea, and the performance was brilliantly done. "Hallelujah," on the other hand, was a song that has really been known to put performers over the top, and for Darcy it was no different. To be quite honest, the final stage of the competition came down to just three competitors. Darcy was one of them.

Cait Darcy is actually passionate about performing and creating music. There are several artists in the industry that are basically performers that could easily be replaced by duplicates. Darcy actually writes her own lyrics, which is something I admire. Songwriters who create their own work understand what music means. The contrast would be artists who are told by a producer what to say, what to do, and how this should be done and what way it should be done. Then sit back, enjoy the riches, watch out for the paparazzi, and you'll be a successful star. As for Darcy, she knows exactly what she wants to do, and doesn't have to have anybody tell her so. She performed one of her original songs, called "They Don't Wear Glasses," in the local talent competition I attended. This song was inspired by a feeling and this feeling was put to the tone of music. That's talent!

Cait Darcy has arranged several local gigs in the state of New Jersey, mostly southern, and is hoping to arrange more... and I hope so too. She has a site ( that will fill you in with her upcoming performances. Subscribing to her feed will help as well. I heard two of her originals thus far and most definitely look forward to hearing more of them. Darcy is something the music industry needs and would provide refreshment to the radio. Any ordinary person would deem her as the next Taylor Swift, but I'm not any ordinary person. I think Cait Darcy will be the next Cait Darcy, which means she'll become a successful star in her own right.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Romney Wins New Hampshire Primary

While the Iowa Caucuses went down to the wire, the New Hampshire Primary was a takeaway for Mitt Romney, who may very well be on his way to winning the Republican nomination. New Hampshire looked like a contest of just Romney, Paul, and Huntsman, as Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry decided to put more concentration on South Carolina. After the week of debates and old fashioned campaigning, what was expected is what happened.

Mitt Romney ended up with 39% of the vote, much of it had to do with the fact that voters believe that he is the candidate that is most electable and is most likely to defeat Barack Obama come the general election. Ron Paul took second and garnered 23% of the vote. Jon Huntsman followed in third and got 17% of the vote. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum both picked up 9% each, though Gingrich received more votes, but not too many more votes, and Rick Perry took last by capturing by 1% of the vote. While we knew that Romney would win by a good margin, we believed that Paul and Huntsman would have a more competitive battle for second place. The fact that six points spread the two shows that it wasn't such a competitive contest after all. Paul was able to capture a good number of young, independent voters. This shows that the older the voter, the less likely they'd be voting for Paul. Also, Paul has picked up 21% and 23% in Iowa and New Hampshire respectively this primary, while only picking up 10% and 8% respectively last time.

Jon Huntsman laid it all on the line for New Hampshire and the fact he picked up 17% of the vote, a third place finished, and a handful of delegates (but not enough to make him a force to be reckoned with) showed that he did a decent job. Despite most of us believing that this was crunch time for Huntsman, he will be staying in the race. I was almost certain, as were many other analysts, that Huntsman would be mediocre in New Hampshire and then end his bid for president. It turned out that the numbers he picked up were satisfying enough to head forth to South Carolina and eventually Florida. It will take a lot, as he polls in the single digits in both states.

The current polls of South Carolina show that Mitt Romney holds the lead for the majority of the time, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich constantly battle for second, Ron Paul follows the three of them, then Rick Perry, and finally Jon Huntsman. Paul and Perry were closer on many occasions, but Paul is garnering a bit more support and Perry's numbers are simply shrinking. I expect for Perry's numbers to be so low that he will finally end his campaign after South Carolina. Gingrich will also need a good showing or at least something decent in order to stick around. If not, I could see him ending his campaign and endorsing Santorum. I have no idea how long it will take Huntsman to end his campaign, but it may be soon when he says that enough is enough. Romney, Santorum, and Paul will likely be in the campaign for the long run, staying until Romney picks up the delegates he needs in order to clinch the nomination.

No non-incumbent Republican candidate has ever won Iowa AND New Hampshire. Mitt Romney changed the notion and may very well be on his way to running a flawless campaign. We do have many more states to go and a Super Tuesday that may be the decider for this campaign to the presidency. I'll submit a post having to cover how things are looking after all is said and done in South Carolina.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Richard Hunt: The Lost Muppeteer

Today's random question of the day: Name a Muppeteer, any Muppeteer, past or present. Don't look past this sentence until you have an answer. If you said Jim Henson, you are likely with the majority, as Henson was the creator of such a famous empire. He was the life behind Kermit the Frog and several other Muppets. If you didn't say Jim Henson, for what ever reason, chances are your next choice would have been Frank Oz, who was Henson's most memorable colleague. Aside from teaming up with Henson to perform Miss Piggy, Bert (to Henson's Ernie), among many others, he was also known as being the voice of Yoda in the Star Wars films. Kevin Clash, who has been given recognition in the new documentary Being Elmo, as he is in fact Elmo, or Carroll Spinney, who performs Big Bird and Oscar, are other possibilities.

Then you have Muppeteers that don't receive as much recognition. One of which is the late Richard Hunt. Most of you who aren't Muppet fanatics (For the record, I'm not a Muppet fanatic, but will occasionally watch Muppet related things and do research) would ask: Who's he? The best way to respond is with a follow-up question. Do you remember Scooter, Beaker, or Sweetums? They are Muppets that were performed by Richard Hunt, and performed really well. Scooter, The Muppet Show gofer, was his signature character, but some of his other memorable Muppets include Janice, the female of the Electric Mayhem, and Statler, the clean-shaved grumpy old man on the balcony who sat alongside Waldorf (who was performed by Henson).

Richard Hunt probably had far more interesting characters on Sesame Street. This is not the politically correct edition that shoves the values of eating healthy down our throats or features preschool style characters or large doses of Elmo and other cloying Muppets. Instead, this was the 70s, 80s, and early 90s version that featured humor that kids, adults, and young adults could enjoy. The actual aim was for those in kindergarten or first grade back in the day. Hunt had several characters that could appeal to the adult viewer. This include Forgetful Jones, the cowboy who could forget anything from his name to doing a specific action in one of Kermit's films (for instance in Oklahoma, he went through other vowels besides "O"), to the language he spoke. You also had Placido Flamingo, the opera singing bird with a huge ego, Don Music, a composer who would hit his head on the piano when he got frustrated, and Sonny Friendly, the game show host that served as an alternate to Henson's Guy Smiley. He was teamed up with fellow Muppeteer Jerry Nelson (who performed Kermit's nephew Robin, Floyd from The Electric Mayhem, The Count, among several others) in such roles as being Sulley to Nelson's Biff, as well as the right half to the Two-Headed Monster.

When doing research on Richard Hunt, I found out that he was openly gay. This is actually new information on my part. I knew that he died twenty years ago today (January 7, 1992) from AIDS, but did not know that he had a romantic preference for men. It seems to make more sense as to why he died from AIDS, despite the fact that this is not always the reason for such a death. Nonetheless, he was said to be the personality on the set. Incoming Muppeteers would meet with him when getting acquainted with the set and he would often perform with his Muppets off the stage for guests, such as the weekly guest on The Muppet Show. He was only forty at the time of his death, thus I can strongly believe that he would still be performing to this day had he still been around. It was indeed a big loss, as Hunt not only provided a stronghold for The Muppet Show, but also a strong dose of the comic relief on Sesame Street that just about anyone could relate to.

Richard Hunt made a strong contribution to the world of Muppetry. While his characters were never as mainstream, like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Big Bird, Elmo, or Cookie Monster, his characters provided enough entertainment for the viewer. Throughout his life, he is most famous for the life he provided through his Muppets. If your job is to be a Muppeteer, that is exactly what you should be doing. An award was named in his honor for specific Muppeteers who showed as much dedication to their role as he did.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Movie Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I am an avid fan of the Millennium Trilogy. I have been a fan since I thoroughly enjoyed the book in which the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson wrote back in 2004. I read the book over the summer and it was the second best book I read last year. The film came out two weeks ago, but I got in while it was in theaters, so that's all that really matters. The film was an enjoyable experience that cut down some of what was in the book, but still remained faithful to the basic concepts of the film. That is all that should really matter.

Mikael Blomkvist is played by Daniel Craig. I have enjoyed Craig's acting, especially when he portrayed James Bond in Casino Royale. He does not disappoint in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and provides just the right personality in which Blomkvist should have. Blomkvist is a journalist who runs the Millennium magazine, but is targeted by Hans-Erik Wennerstrom, a businessman who is targeting Blomkvist in a libel case. One of the key differences between the novel and film is that Blomkvist does NOT go to jail in the film, as he does in the novel. Though in the novel, him going to jail doesn't really play such an effect to the plot. Blomkvist meets Henrik Vanger (played by Christopher Plummer), who wants him to solve the case of his missing great-niece, Harriet. Vanger is the owner of a giant corporation and lives on a Swedish island with members of his family, all of which are separated and do not speak to one another. In exchange for solving the case, Vanger will provide Blomkvist with the information he needs to order to defeat Wennerstrom in a case.

Meanwhile, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, played brilliantly by up and rising actress Rooney Mara, is overlooking these events and is ultimately tagged by Blomkvist to help with this ongoing case. Salander is a social misfit (who may have Asperger's Syndrome, but may not) who bares tattoos and piercings, and has a new guardian, Nils Bjurman (played by Yorick van Wageningen), who controls her financial assets after her old guardian suffers a stroke. Bjurman exchanges finances for acts of sexual activity, which become more extreme during each deal. To add to this, Bjurman is a middle-aged creep. Salander does get her revenge on him. Salander forms a chemistry with Blomkvist that sets the stage for a good team that's solving a good case.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo demonstrates that the Millennium Trilogy is a series that viewers should be taking seriously. In two hours and thirty-eight minutes, the film shows an exciting crime thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You never know who is going to do what next. The acting was completely on key and those participating in the film should be considered for Academy Award nominations. At the very least, Rooney Mara should be considered for a nomination as Best Actress.

Is it worth seeing in theaters? Absolutely! Go and enjoy, because that's what you're going to do. The film is R-rated for violence and language, but more so for the sex and nudity that's featured in the film. That's the story, however, and this is supposed to be an extreme novel. The original novel translates to Men Who Hate Women, which plays the theme of disgusting men who are engaging in disgusting acts against women. With that being said, the Millennium Trilogy is worth your time and attention and you will most definitely enjoy the novel and film. I will really look into reading the remainder of the series and attend the movies when they're released in the years to come.

Verdict: 10/10

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Romney Wins The Iowa Caucus By Eight Votes

The results as to how the Iowa Caucuses were going to pan out shifted throughout the primary season. The front-runners happened to be Mitt Romney and somebody else. It began with Michele Bachmann up until the straw poll, which she won, Rick Perry upon his entry into the race, Herman Cain from the time Perry began flubbing in the debates until his many extramarital affairs put a bad taste into the voters mouths, Newt Gingrich followed as sharing the front running status from Cain's demise until too much information flubbed out about Gingrich. By December, Ron Paul garnered some strength and Rick Santorum and his hard work ultimately paid off with some form of recognition.

The Iowa Caucuses came down to Romney, Santorum, and Paul, who finished in this respective order when the night was through. Unlike the 2008 caucus, where Mike Huckabee was projected the winner at 8:35 PM, this race went down to the wire. All three of these candidates stuck around in the 20% range and anyone of them could have had a chance to win. Ultimately, Mitt Romney won by eight votes and 25% of the vote. Rick Santorum also happened to garner 25% of the vote. Ron Paul finished in a strong third with 21%. Santorum happened to capture the similar evangelical, born-again vote that Mike Huckabee carried back in 2008. He surprisingly happened to also garner the Tea Party vote that many would believe would go to Ron Paul. On the contrast, Ron Paul held a strong amount of evangelical, born-again votes. Romney holds the vote on those who are not evangelical, born-again, as well as those who are looking for someone to defeat Barack Obama in the general election. These three candidates indeed come out of the night as the big winners, as the race for them was neck and neck and neck.

As for the others, Newt Gingrich got 13%, Rick Perry got 10%, Michele Bachmann got 5%, Jon Huntsman got 1%, and Herman Cain (who suspended his campaign) and Buddy Roemer picked up under 1% (which were simply double digits in votes). It was no surprise that Huntsman would have low numbers, because he didn't put any time into Iowa, but instead concentrated on New Hampshire. If there's anyone that comes out as a huge loser in the caucus, it's Michele Bachmann. Gingrich did worse than expected, but at least got into double digits. Perry was slipping in support as well, but at least won a few counties and maintained 10%. He could still have some form of comeback in South Carolina and has the tools to do so. Bachmann, on the other hand, had Iowa in a strong threshold in the Ames Straw Poll. Maybe making the double digits would have been somewhat decent for her campaign, but 5% just doesn't make a strong statement. She will be suspending her campaign and rightfully so, as South Carolina would have been her final chance for redemption. Chances are that redemption won't be.

New Hampshire is the next state. It looks like Mitt Romney has this state wrapped up, but we'll have to see what the margin will be. Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich will be the only other candidates that really contend in this state. Perhaps, Rick Santorum could come in with some form of strong showing, but it is very unlikely that he will make this a race to the end with Romney. He may garner stronger numbers than he intended to, but not enough to win the state. He'll likely just start concentrating on making South Carolina a competitive fight with Romney, Gingrich, and Rick Perry, who will likely concentrate on that state. If Rick Perry is unable to come up with strong numbers in South Carolina, then his race is over. It is unlikely that Huntsman comes up with big numbers in New Hampshire and will likely end his campaign following at best a 10% finish.

Ron Paul is somebody that should be taken more seriously than he has. He has been ignored by the media and dismissed as being a candidate without a chance. Well he came close to winning the caucuses and clearly has strong support from young voters. It is the young voters who will be living throughout the majority of the future, so what they have to say is pretty meaningful. Paul will likely stick around throughout each of the primaries, regardless as to whether or not Romney has been named the nominee (that's to say IF he is the nominee). Paul could contend in New Hampshire and in a few other vague states of which he holds strong support. It's about time that he is taken just as serious as every other candidate that's in the race and he has just as much a chance of winning the nomination.

There will be two debates before the New Hampshire primary, which will likely feature the six top candidates that remain. Plus the second-tier candidates such as Buddy Roemer and Fred Karger will likely drop out after coming in with little support. Roemer may pass 1%, but that's about it. Gary Johnson has already left the Republican party to join the Libertarian party. As for the six that remain, New Hampshire will be something to seriously look at. I will surely have some say about that primary after it occurs on January 10th. The piece may be written the next day, though.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Check This Blog: Largehearted Boy

I am one to keep up with my page views and the specific stats behind each of them. I have had over 5,000 of them. Then, I look at the breaking down as to which pages were read and every little detail in between. I noticed that Largehearted Boy became one of the lead ways to my blog and then noticed that I was given the honor to have my list of ten best books from 2011 mentioned as one of the lists. There were other bloggers who made lists, along with lists from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. With all thoughts about being featured aside, I looked deeper into this blog and really enjoyed it. If you hold an interest in music and/or literature, this blog will surely be the blog for you.

David Gutowski is the "Largehearted Boy." He holds an interest in just about anything having to do with music and literature. He also holds interests in comics, graphic novels, food, and pop culture in general. This is demonstrated strongly on this blog. This blog has demonstrated to be more so one that leads the way to discovering more talent, as it mentions specific music. There are also lists of music blogs that listed the best tunes of the year. There is also mention of literature and book blogs that made up lists of the best books that were read during the year. Most recently, Largehearted Boy, as he does each and every year, has made a list of the blogs he recommends for those who are currently following his.

It's great to see someone spreading the word and increasing opportunities for those who share his passions. Largehearted Boy has allowed me to discover many others who share a common passion of reading in my very own personal case. Many of these blogs have themes, such as Christian and Romance, that don't necessarily suit my interests, but they do know how to run a blog. This may very well be the best gateway blog that I have seen in awhile.

Definitely check out Largehearted Boy, most especially if you like to read or listen to music. It is very likely that you'll hit a gold rush of some kind.

Monday, January 2, 2012

How My NFL Regular Season Predictions Turned Out

At the moment we speak, my regular season predictions turned out being fairly strong. There were some bold predictions that didn't seem to come true, but I don't proclaim to be a Nostradamus. I'm just a blogger and aspiring author, not a psychic. I like football and that's that. My Super Bowl prediction could very well be a reality, but we'll just have to wait and see. For 2009, I thought it would be the Pittsburgh Steelers defeating the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl (both teams missed out). For 2010, I thought the Baltimore Ravens would defeat the Green Bay Packers (the Ravens lost in the divisional round and the Packers actually won the big game). This season, I have a bold prediction that could hold true, but there is still a lot of room for upset specials.

I will sort out my thoughts by division to give some organization...

AFC East

My prediction was pretty much accurate. The Patriots not only won the division, but also the #1 seed, the Jets took second, and the Dolphins and Bills dwelled at the bottom. I had figured that the talent that the Patriots demonstrated meant that the AFC would be in their hands. The Jets, while they took second, performed to lower expectations than I believed they would. I thought they would contend for the playoffs once again and cause the havoc in which they did for the last so many seasons. It turns out that they were rocky and ended up 8-8. It was unfortunate how the Bills started out so strong, but then faltered as the season went on. They have a team that's actually performing to good standards, but they just can't translate it into wins, thus their longest playoff drought in the league still remains. I figured the Dolphins would not do a good job, but they did improve during the stretch, and felt that Tony Sparano should have at least kept his job until the end of the season. The only team that matters so much now is the Patriots and their longevity into the playoffs. At the moment we speak, it seems as if it'll come down to them and the Ravens, the Steelers will have to be fortunate enough.

AFC South

This division was a mixed bag, but my important predictions stand. I predicted the Texans would win the division and do so at 10-6 and they did. I predicted the Colts would miss the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and they did. They lost six more games than I thought, but it goes to show you that the team is nothing without Peyton Manning, their talent is weakening, and Jim Caldwell is NOT fit to be their leader. It goes to show you that now is the time to set up for the next generation of the Colts. The Jaguars did worse than I thought, but Jack Del Rio was fired after all of this time. As for the Titans, they did better than I thought. I was thinking they would bomb, but they nearly made the playoffs at 9-7. The Texans look like a weakening team, as Wade Phillips absence showed for a lack of defense and T.J. Yates may now be feeling the heat. Their match against the Bengals may provide them with one win, but in that case, they will NOT get past the Ravens. The AFC South was not a strong division, not the weakest, but not at all strong.

AFC North

It's no surprise that the AFC North was a strong division, since the Ravens and Steelers both finished at 12-4. I did believe the Ravens would go 12-4, but the Steelers would go 13-3 and clinch. However, I can see both teams making it to the divisional round of the playoffs, a prediction that will stand. The Ravens may have a better chance at advancing to the AFC Championship than the Steelers, but that will be something we just have to wait and see happen. The Bengals prediction I made may very well be my boldest prediction that goes up in flames on the negative to positive end. I thought the team was a mess and that they would go 1-15. However, their new talent with rookie QB Andy Dalton and some young, helpful receivers have really provided them with a contending team. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is also a future nominee for a head coaching job, as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer should be looked at as a coaching nominee right now, with the defense they have. I expected the Browns to not explode, but not falter in the way they did. I was thinking Mike Holmgren was injecting some life into the team, but they have problems that seriously need to be addressed. The Ravens and Steelers are going to be strong going into the playoffs, the former may be stronger than the latter, but any prediction may be included.

AFC West

I just needed to switch the names around and make the numbers a bit more mediocre. I correctly predicted the Raiders being in second and going 8-8, due to the fact Al Davis should have not let Tom Cable go. Also to note, the Chiefs dwelled at the bottom of the division. However, the Chargers did not perform to expectations. They just performed poorly, as they let Darren Sproles go, and Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and the rest of the offense performed poorly. Rivers and Gates, for the record, need to no longer be considered as Pro Bowl candidates. They were considered this time, but if they keep performing like they did this season, they shouldn't get the votes. The Broncos were the surprise team. Tim Tebow turned out being a quarterback that led the team to several comeback, overtime wins. However, much of the credit for the team's success should be given to the defense and Matt Prater, the kicker. John Fox was also a good fit for the team as head coach. If the Steelers remain healthy, they should easily be able to defeat the Broncos. Winning games in the last moment will not come easy for the Broncos in the playoffs.

NFC East

One thing we know for sure is: The Eagles are NOT the dream team. It seemed like the Eagles had a lot of talent on their roster, but I also mentioned that they could easily crumble, especially if Michael Vick got hurt. He got hurt and the team didn't perform well. However, there was more. Juan Castillo should have not been moved to defensive coordinator, just to make room for Howard Mudd as offensive line coach. The defense performed poorly, especially with the talent on the team. The Cowboys rightfully fell to third, only I said 9-7, instead of the actual 8-8. The Redskins were at the dead bottom, but at 5-11 instead of 3-13. However, the team does not have many issues addressed. If Mike Shanahan wants to remain with the team after 2012, he is going to have to draft a quarterback of the future. Rex Grossman and John Beck are not quarterbacks of the future. Roy Helu and Evan Royster may be a strong pair of running backs, but they need a passing game that will work. The Giants won the division, finally making the playoffs after falling short the last two seasons. The Giants have been inconsistent and their run in the playoffs will all come down to consistency. They could either be the dark horse team that no one saw coming or they could be knocked out quickly.

NFC South

So it turns out that the Saints were a force to be reckoned with. Plus the Falcons made the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time ever. I believed the Saints would make it, but the Falcons would not. While the Panthers didn't make the playoffs, they did go 6-10 and showed that Cam Newton is an incredibly talented quarterback. It turns out that my boldest positive to negative prediction that went up in flames was that the Buccaneers would win the division and reach the NFC Championship. I felt the team was young and hot, Josh Freeman would progress, and Raheem Morris would make a name for himself as coach. It turns out that the team fell into a huge slump, Josh Freeman regressed, and Raheem Morris demonstrated that he was too ineffective and immature to be a head coach in the NFL, thus he's gone. The Saints could very easily reach the NFC Championship if they defeat the Lions at home and 49ers on the road, which is very likely. They will have a better shot against the Giants or Falcons (likely the Giants in this case) at home than on the road against the Packers. They are far better at home, no dome team has ever won outdoors in the championship, and going to Green Bay, Wisconsin in what will likely be freezing weather will likely not change this. The Falcons haven't won a postseason game since 2004. If the Giants are not put together, they may have a chance. If they are, they may be in for a handful.

NFC North

The order was correctly projected and the one seed for the Packers in the NFC was as well. I knew that the Lions were going to improve, but was surprised that they went to 10-6 and qualified for a spot in the playoffs. That is a good thing, as they haven't reached the playoffs since 1999, leaving the Bills as the only team to not reach the playoffs in the 21st century. The Bears faltered and the Vikings just reeked, not much else to say on that end. As for the Packers and Lions, the playoffs will be interesting. The Packers will likely play the Giants or Falcons. The Giants could shock them if they "show up," as their regular season matchup went down to the wire. The Falcons would have a tougher time in the cold weather, but may have a chance. The Lions will have a difficult time getting past the Saints at home. It's possible, but the chances are slim. The Lions haven't won a postseason game since 1991, the second longest drought, only behind the Bengals, who last won in the postseason in 1990. I predicted the Packers would win in the Super Bowl, and I feel that prediction could hold if they remain strong.

NFC West

Pretty much botched up on the NFC West. I thought the Niners were in store for improvement, but they would need to part ways with Alex Smith. It turns out that Alex Smith is doing excellent and ever since Jim Harbaugh came in, the team has just kept going upward. The Seahawks and Cardinals did fair, but not playoff worthy. As for the Rams, they just bombed. I felt that with Sam Bradford and with the team's close contention in the playoffs last season, they would have a good chance this time around. However, they just crumbled due to injuries and lack of targers for Bradford and all around talent. The 49ers could have a run, but they may very well be stopped by the Saints if the team remains hot and performs well in this road game. Anything could happen, though.

My Super Bowl predictions still stands, the Green Bay Packers defeat the New England Patriots. Just for kicks, here are my updated predictions as to how things will turn out, but will not at all be rejecting anything from the first prediction sheet.


Texans beat Bengals- 23-13
Steelers beat Broncos- 17-3
Saints beat Lions- 49-27
Giants beat Falcons- 31-28


Patriots beat Steelers- 27-24
Ravens beat Texans- 20-7
Packers beat Giants- 31-28
Saints beat 49ers- 28-24


Patriots beat Ravens- 20-17
Packers beat Saints- 56-42

Super Bowl

Packers beat Patriots- 45-31

Let the playoffs begin!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ringing In 2012

I would like to start out by wishing my readers a Happy New Year! We have made it to 2012 and this looks like a huge year up ahead. 2011 was the year in which I found a new home for Caponomics on Blogger. Before last year, the column was simply featured in newsletters and on Facebook. 2011 kind of reminding me of skiing on some slops, as there were several up and down moments throughout the year. Let's hope 2012 is a mountain climbing experience that doesn't have any downward direction. Well, I do expect a rocky ride, but that's a part of life. Just something that will allow more upward direction.

I accomplished a lot with Caponomics during the first nine months on Blogger. I wrote 115 posts, ranging in a variety of topics. I have had over 5,000 page views from readers across the globe. I have 10 followers and some honorable mentions from those who have read my posts. It was such an honor to have my list of ten best books from 2011 featured on a list of lists on the music and literature blog Largehearted Boy. Besides my mention, it really looks like an interesting blog that I will really look into blogging about soon.

Speaking of what's on tap, I shall discuss things that I will be blogging about within the upcoming year. I am not confirming that I will be writing about these topics, but these are strong ideas. Those that will be written really soon will be more likely to be written. Within the upcoming week, I will be evaluating my own NFL predictions and seeing how accurate my picks actually were compared to the real picks. I will also be making my playoff predictions and how I think each team will do, scores included. On January 3rd, the Iowa Caucuses will kick off the Republican primaries. I will be giving my few cents as to the outcome of the event. I will really look into doing the same with New Hampshire, South Carolina, and the many other contests. Also to be included in my upcoming posts will be the segments that I created last year. There should be a good amount coming early in the year.

On March 9th, I will be celebrating my first year anniversary of bringing Caponomics to Blogger. I will definitely have to think of something special. Maybe include some highlights from the first year of blogging, which is continuing to be an excellent experience. I also hope to match, break, or at least come close to the number of books I read this past year. For the record, I will NOT be reading Twilight.

Along with my blogging, I'm also hoping to increase my fiction writing, which I do during my own time. I found a contest that I'm interested in entering and am currently working on that specific entry. Becoming successful in the writing field is a challenge in itself, but it's able to be accomplished, and that's all that matters.

I really look forward to the adventures that 2012 will be bringing. I could see a year with a ton of adventure on the way. I hope everyone has a wonderful year and comes closer to being able to accomplish their dreams!