Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Whose Line Is It Anyway: Season 10, Episodes 1 & 2

After having what happened to be a successful return to television last summer, Whose Line Is It Anyway easily picked up a tenth season, which is the second season since its revival as this particular show and not one under a different name since 2007. I constantly stressed last season that this show needed to do a few things in order to get back on track to seeing the success it did to be as great as the Drew Carey version...

1. It's great to see successful regulars such as Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, and Ryan Stiles back again. For this season, bring back the successful guest performers such as Greg Proops, Brad Sherwood, Chip Esten, among others.

2. Do away with the celebrity guests on just about every episode. The Drew Carey version MAY have had 5-10 offstage celebrity guests on its entire run, including Florence Henderson, Richard Simmons, David Hasselhoff, Jerry Springer, Sid Caesar, and Lassie, all of which were of good quality. The Aisha Tyler episodes have celebrities that are lesser known constantly walking backstage onto the stage and participate in the same games not necessarily centered around them, when audience members can easily fill these gaps and cause a greater laugh. PLUS use the guest performer, that's why they're there. I find it outrageous when the guest performer has less performance time than the offstage celebrity.

3. Include different games and include some of the classics. Spread it out. Do not have the same games in different rotation. 

At the moment we speak,  I feel that 1 and 3 have been exercised efficiently. Greg Proops is the only person I have seen thus far from the names I mentioned that returned to the show, but it was a nice breath of fresh air to see that not only he returned, but I would argue that he was the funniest performer on the premiere. The second episode had Keegan-Michael Key as the guest performer. While he first appeared last season, he was the funniest guest they had on the program. Bringing him back was an excellent decision. From what I have viewed through scheduling updates, Nyima Funk and Jeff Davis will be returning, as will Greg Proops, on one occasion to fill in for Ryan Stiles, who fell ill to the point he was unable to attend a taping.

For the third, we saw Scenes From A Hat, Song Styles, and Living Scenery in both of the episodes. One can argue that endless ideas can come out of the first two and I would argue that games in the nature of Scenes From A Hat, that include rapid fire one-liners, should be on each show (Props and Dating Profile are others). However, it has almost become intentional that games with which the superfluous celebrity guest is able to take part have been planted in to the show on almost each show. We saw Infomercial and Party Quirks on the first episode, used for the first time during the Aisha Tyler era, which I was quite pleased with. I hold high hope that this strays away from the constant use of Sideway Scenes and What's In The Bag from last season. Once Hoedown returns, then just about everything will be set!

As for the second, which I saved for last, it seems like my criticism was ignored. Of course, I don't hold the sole opinion on this issue, but after reading several other pieces of criticism about these unnecessary lesser known celebrity guests, they DO NOT need them in order to run a good show. On the two episodes that aired last Friday, Kat Graham performed in Song Styles and Living Scenery, while Tara Lipinski performed in Song Styles, Dubbing, and Living Scenery. While the only thing Graham said was the adjective that described her in order to drive the broadway song Wayne sang for her (which was "Flamboyant"), Lipinski didn't say a single word. Their appearances are unnecessary to the point that it taints the show and may ultimately hurt its impression on viewers.

Ultimately, the direction of bringing strong guest performers such as classics (like Greg Proops) and their better performers from season nine (like Keegan-Michael Key) made for a decent premiere. Their numbers went down slightly, but March Madness could be a legitimate reason as to why. While the first two episodes were relatively amusing, they need to really make sure they make good decisions when it comes to keeping up as best as possible. If they don't make the necessary changes in order to attract viewers and keep those that have been loyal all along, their numbers can plummet. The first of these decisions being to do away with not so special celebrity guests. These guests are talented at what they do, but they do not need to appear on Whose Line Is It Anyway in a role that can easily be filled by somebody in the audience or by the fourth performer. If they continue to reformat the show to tend to these guests, it's going to hurt the viewership and thus cut the run of the show unnecessarily short. This show deserves more justice. As for Aisha Tyler, she's doing a fine job as the host, but any opportunity to have a game that she is able to get involved is avoided.

As for the term of the day from Season 10, Episode 2: SHLING DONG!

Verdict: 7/10 (because this season has the opportunity to be better and this is reflected by what the first two episodes had to offer, but if they indulge in redundancy on the purpose of tending to the celebrity guests, this number can see a tragic plummet) 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Three Years On Blogger

March 9, 2011 was the day I began my voyage of conducting Caponomics through the world of blogging and I have since witnessed positive results from using the blogosphere to put forth my ideas on different areas of interest to all whom expressed interest. As I always do for my anniversaries, I plan to take a statistical approach to informing everyone how far forward this idea has come from being a column in a high school newsletter.

Between my last anniversary and this, this here marks the 70th post. The second anniversary post was the 181st, while this post I am presenting you today is the 251st. In retrospect, I have improved from my second year of blogging, even though my first year remains the most impressive when it comes to the quantity of posts being released. I do, however, agree with the notion that quality is more important than quantity. At the moment we speak, I have 20 followers and a total of 27,638 page views. Of course, how these page views came about is always debatable, but I always take the optimistic stance of saying that I am picking up plenty of interested viewership. From last year to this, the number of page views did more than double from the first two years put together. Let's see if we can see another round of doubling. While this may be a bit more of a challenge, everything is possible, especially with more material.

My countdown should be an intriguing one this year. There have been a lot of curve balls, primarily in the last few weeks, which means the top part of the list has just recently made it to form. As for the Shark Tank posts, they're fewer additions to this list than last year, going from six to three. Before I give too much away, we should start counting down...

#10: Television Review: Shark Tank Season 3 Premiere- This remains one of three posts that has been featured on all three of my top tens and for decent reasoning. The third season of Shark Tank can be deemed the rightful transition of a typical business-based program into a business-based primetime phenomenon. This meant providing Mark Cuban with a full season contract and ousting Kevin Harrington out for good. I'm almost positive that when they taped the second season of the show, they started taping with Kevin H., before having Jeff Foxworthy in the seat farthest to the left during the next taping, and Mark during the last. They realized that Mark and his quickfire personality (including the 24-second game clock) and what the other sharks deemed bully demeanor was what the show needed. People still read this post in order to fulfill their curiosity to this practical turning point of the show.

#9: Memorable Sax Solos- This is the second of the three posts that have been featured on every top ten list. I wrote this back in June 2011 as a response to the tragic death of Clarence Clemons, who remained active in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and even performed with Lady Gaga in her album Born This Way, most notably in the song, "Edge of Glory." To celebrate his life, I didn't just include sax solos that he gave (most notable "Jungleland"), but also the notable performances that others gave. This past year, I decided to create a follow-up post in which I ranked my ten favorite sax solos. Perhaps that will give you a hint about what is to come...

#8: Shark Tank Season 4 Premiere- If season three provided Shark Tank with its transition to a primetime hit, season four provided the show with a reason as to why it deserves to be a complete season show and not just a show that has staying power like a typical reality or game show. In this case, Shark Tank's episode count went from about 10-12 per season to about 24-28 per season. They would start at one number and only increase based off of the demand. Quite a demand also meant quite a readership for my post going over the first episode of the season. It dropped from 7th last year to 8th in this, but it proves that Shark Tank remains a reason that people come and pay visits to Caponomics.

#7: My Thanksgiving Post- This past Thanksgiving, a blogger and cancer survivor asked me and several other bloggers to post about what Thanksgiving means to me. I decided to follow along with the idea and jot down my true thoughts about the meaning of Thanksgiving and who or what I am thankful. This post saw massive interests, in consecutive chunks, just as several posts of mine that have held the top position have experienced. Just about everything I posted back in November remains true, for it is exactly what gives me the drive to keep on writing and pushing forward in my craft.

#6: My Ten Favorite Sax Solos- This is the follow-up to my original post, "Memorable Sax Solos," that I wrote back in June 2011. I felt I should incorporate more of my favorites, even if "Jungleland" and "Baker Street" remain at the top of my list without any surprises. These posts do, however, depend a lot on my mood I was in when I was writing them, thus if I were to do a "Ten Favorite Sax Solos" piece in a few years, the top ten may rank in a different formula. Chances are, however, that the two solos I mentioned by Clarence Clemons and Raphael Ravenscroft, respectively, will stand as they may on the top of my list.

#5: Shark Tank Season 3, Episode 11- This is the extent of my Shark Tank-themed posts that appear on my top ten. As a single episode, this one remains the most popular. For those who do not remember this particular episode, it is the one where Mark Sullivan comes onto the show asking for a million dollars for a "Sullivan Generator" that turns ocean water into gold. This is also the episode where James Martin of "Copa Di Vino" returns to the show in hope that this time around, the sharks will be able to help him with a gripe he's having with his company. Interestingly enough, this is the first episode of the series where no deals are made whatsoever. At the moment we speak, there have been three episodes in which no deals were made. Nevertheless, Shark Tank viewers have continued to show interest in what ever happened to the "Sullivan Generator" and "Copa Di Vino" to the point that a 2012 episode remains relevant to the 2014 audience.

#4: Poem Review: "The Starry Night" by Anne Sexton- I have done my best to write up more posts that have to do with books and literature. This gives me the opportunity to brush up my literary chops for when I film episodes of Literary Gladiators, which I plan to release when I'm able. I will say that the gap between four and five on the list is quite massive and I mean 200 page views massive. In this post, I analyze the Anne Sexton work on how van Gogh's notable painting speaks to her. Being a confessional poet, Sexton's poetry could sometimes take on bleak emotion, which is what this one tends to do, while at the same time expresses a longing for comfort and a hunger to see her wish come true. It's quite an honor to have people looking at my analysis of "The Starry Night" in order to fulfill their need of understanding the poem a bit better.

#3: Top Notch Television: Ebert Presents At The Movies- For two and a half years, this post stood on top and its massive surge in readers made it the post read most. Just a few weeks ago, the upcoming post on this list took over that spot and this underrated series that has not aired since 2011 was finally dethroned on the list. At this point in time, those who were close to Roger Ebert and remain close to Chaz Ebert, such as Christy Lemire, continue to contribute reviews to Ebert's website even after he died in April 2013. Nevertheless, it's understandable why this post would lose readership since the show has not seen airtime since it could no longer be funded as a subject to public broadcasting. This is immensely unfortunate, for Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky had quite a chemistry as somewhat of a mainstream, intelligent critic and a more skeptical, mad scientist-like critic. In clearer terms, some of Vishnevetsky's views were not status quo in the world of cinema, while Lemire's views did not come with shock. Both sides are respectable and necessary.

#2: Let's Be Brutally Honest: Orange Juice Pulp Is Oh So Burdensome- This post (along with the Anne Sexton poem post) remain actively consistent when it comes to attracting readers. While it was 10th on the list last year, it is now 2nd, even if it stood atop the list for about a week or two. As I mentioned before, these are always fun to write, for they are lighthearted and really don't expect too much of a demanding opinion. One can say "to each their own" and that would be that. On the other hand, this could light up a spark with someone who just let an argument like this go over their head, dismissing it as being "fluffy." In addition, I like the "Let's Be Brutally Honest" segments and this has been the first and only to break a top ten and stay long enough to be mentioned in the bigger picture.

#1: Movie Review: Argo (2012)- It's the Academy Award winner for best picture at the 2013 ceremony, it's the last picture Roger Ebert named #1 on his annual top ten (or in the case of a few other years top film) list, it's a film directed by and starring Ben Affleck, along with John Goodman and Alan Arkin about the Iran Hostage Crisis, and it's the most viewed post. Within the last week, this review has garnered close to 2,000 page views. Where this level of interest struck is undetermined, but a level of interest IS a level of interest nevertheless. Before it saw a surge, there were just 13 page views since this post was published on June 9, 2013. I hold high hope that after people read this review and had yet seen the picture, they did what they could to go ahead and see it. On the bus ride home from a trip to Gettysburg, they had this picture and played it as their first of two films (which is MUCH better than playing that Seth Rogen on the way there. Forgive me, but Seth Rogen reminds me too much of the Newsman from The Muppet Show). Argo is one of this generation's finest films!

Of course, just like any other year, there are memories I create when it comes to blogging. I thought I would share them...

All of my posts have garnered at least 10 page views since August 2012- The last post I wrote that didn't garner double-digit views is my announcement that I began posting reviews on Amazon. In all honesty, I haven't posted an Amazon review in quite awhile. It's been a decent outlet and I reached five figures in the rankings when it came to helpful reviewers. Maybe some day I'll return to writing Amazon reviews. Perhaps my Sunshine review and reviews for other lesser known authors is a fine way to resurrect this trend.

An eye on literature- I want to submit more frequently about different works of literature and different topics that fall under the category of literature. I plan to expand on my Literary Gladiators project with my fellow English majors and this would be a fine way for my viewers to also get a taste of my writing. Each of us has a role, while most of my friends plan to teach, I'm the wildcard that wants to write.

My post about Ellen Page last month- In all honesty, this is the post I saw the greatest emotional connection to. While there was a statement about how coming out as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or transgender, the most important part is that Ellen Page is an excellent actress and probably an excellent person. One of my colleagues said it was my greatest article I wrote and I agree that this is one of my favorites. Perhaps in ten years, "coming out" will be a thing of the past and people will just look at your preference as being another element of the world's diversity.

My projects- First off, I will announce that Speculations From New Jersey was released on Amazon today. This features my short story, "Pity Teeth," about a trip to the dentist gone wrong. In addition to this story, you can read fifteen other works from some spectacular authors. There will also be a release at the Lunacon convention in New York. Literary Gladiators also released its pilot back in February and with a re-taping coming up, there should be a batch of ten more episodes coming along. I plan to conduct a taping of up to 40 episodes over the summer and will release that batch weekly starting in September. When I'm not conducting the web show, I hold interest in working on some more fiction, short stories or novel ideas.

I want to thank everybody that has read my blog and hope you continue to read and enjoy what I have to offer. For my fourth year, I hope to continue to flow of posts and will share what I can, which will include every episode of Literary Gladiators. Here's to three years!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The 250th Post (With An NFL-Themed Q&A)

I have been operating Caponomics through Blogger for what is almost three years (my third anniversary is this upcoming Sunday) and what I'm writing here is the 250th post. Being able to share 250 ideas is quite a feat and I have been happy to garner as many fans as I have, whether they are active followers or not. For this post, I promised that I would do a Q&A for #250. I encourage everyone to submit any question they may want for me to answer when I conduct these. It's your feedback and suggestions that give this blog a little extra drive. I'm just a blogger with ideas.

I have three questions pertaining to the NFL Season that just passed. These questions were submitted back in January, so I am going to tweak them so that they're able to flow to someone following along through the month of March. The topic of discussion has to do with the past season and the arrangement of the coaches. We are also a week away from free agency and two months from the draft, so this should also be a response to my predictions from earlier in the season.

Here we go with questions:

What did you think of the 2013 NFL Season?

As a team fan, it was painful! The Giants started the season at 0-6 and while they were able to reshape and go to 7-9, we learned that their defense was rusty, their offense struggled, and their offensive line was atrocious. Letting go of Kevin Gilbride due to his "same old offense" in favor of an unpredictable Ben McAdoo was the right call (even if Pat Flaherty should have been a sure bet out the door).

As a football fan, this season had a lot to offer and we learned that the Seattle Seahawks had EVERYTHING going for them. Not only is Pete Carroll one of the most enthusiastic head coaches in the league, but Darrell Bevall operates a powerful offense, while Dan Quinn stepped up to the plate in his first season as defensive coordinator. Both men should see opportunities to run the show in the future. Russell Wilson can play QB at all angles and he has plenty of weapons to hand off or throw to. The defense has demonstrated excellence as well... even if Richard Sherman can have an outrageous personality that leads to postgame rants that make him look like Clifford from Muppets Tonight. The one specific element they have going for them, however, is their twelfth man. This includes the fans that really provide them with the push they need during home games and break the record time after time for the loudest crowd.

As for the rest of the teams, the Denver Broncos really showed relevance (up until the Super Bowl) and their offense could, perhaps, be considered one of the best of all time. Their defense still contended as well. Andy Reid turned the Chiefs around in what was not a huge shock, Ron Rivera proved he has more to do in Carolina, while the Falcons and Texans shocked the league in being more far disappointing than they have been the last few seasons. In addition, the Bengals and Chiefs continue their postseason victory droughts for not having won in the postseason since the 1990 and 1993 season, respectively.

What did I think of the outcome?

The Seahawks steamrolled over the Broncos in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, by a score of 43-8. The last time the final score in the Super Bowl was overwhelmingly lopsided was when the Ravens beat the Giants in the 2000 season, with a score of 34-7. I predicted the Broncos would beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl, while I had the Seahawks in the playoffs, but losing. I predicted the Texans and Bears would lose in the championship, so the Texans making it THAT far was quite a bitter taste to my prediction. I predicted the Jaguars would be the worst team this season and looking at the beginning of the season, I was cutting it close, for they were looking like they would go 0-16. When all was said and done, the better team won Super Bowl XLVIII and the Seahawks dominated on every side of the ball. I am very happy that the Super Bowl MVP went to Malcolm Smith, a linebacker, for his very important interception that came just before halftime. He also made crucial plays that either came close to interceptions or helped in some way lead to interceptions. This is the first time the MVP went to a player that was not a quarterback since 2008 and while Russell Wilson did an outstanding job, there were plenty of MVP options to choose from.

What do I think about the coaching transitions?

Every transition was justified for each team's purpose, with the exception of Rob Chudzinski being let go from the Browns. It wasn't because they lagged, but because I ask myself, "why did you hire him in the first place when the hire was such a soft deal?" It all comes down to selecting the right coordinator and it didn't seem like Chudzinski was the coordinator for this time and place. I did feel that Rex Ryan deserved to be let go, while Dennis Allen survived in a turn of events (just the second Raiders coach since 2001 to survive more than two seasons), even if he'll likely be let go at the end of next year. While I agreed with Mike Munchak being let go, it was because he didn't want to fire somebody, which makes sense for both parties. The firings of Mike Shanahan, Greg Schiano, and Jim Schwartz will decrease the number of hot-headed coaches in the league, while Leslie Frazier became the out man of a dreadful quarterback fiasco.

As for the hirings, I felt the decisions were relatively impressive. The one that made the biggest splash and should have the most immediate success is Lovie Smith for the Buccaneers. The Bucs should have hired a veteran coach (whether it was Mike Sherman, Brad Childress, or Marty Schottenheimer) over Greg Schiano and after two seasons with Schiano, they made the right decision to choose a veteran and choose Smith. If there are others to look out for gradually, they would be Bill O'Brien for the Texans and Mike Pettine for the Browns. O'Brien did an excellent job rebuilding Penn State when it became shattered from the issues behind Andy Sandusky that took Joe Paterno's legacy and turned it from diamonds to dirt. O'Brien should be able to take a team that needs simple renovations and turn them into playoff contenders relatively quick. Pettine will have more of a handful as he's coaching a team that was reborn in 1999 and has since made the playoffs just one time (in 2002). If the Browns are patient, Pettine should have them getting close to .500 immediately and in the playoffs soon after. He had the Jets and Bills defenses operating successfully and will now bring some of that flow to the Browns, while Kyle Shanahan will help rejuvenate the offense.

I am pleased to see that both Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer were tapped for head coaching positions for the Redskins and Vikings, respectively. Both of them should see decent results in some fashion. Gruden becoming a head coach was only bound to happen, while for Zimmer, it's a "better late than never" affair. As for Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Caldwell, they have all coached in the league before, but their coaching tenures could be considered "quarterback driven" in plenty of ways. Whisenhunt was behind two playoff runs with the Cardinals, which included one in which they reached the Super Bowl, but after Kurt Warner retired, the Cards struggled immensely and a starting quarterback could not be established. Caldwell started head coaching during a season where Peyton Manning was powerful, then went into a decline before losing Peyton Manning for the season and was unable to recover from such a gap. Caldwell was fired following a 2-14 season. Both Whisenhunt and Caldwell redeemed themselves by rebuilding the Chargers and Ravens offenses, respectively, into active form. Whether or not they could rejuvenate their teams with what ever they have is the key question.

I want to thank Kevin Brownlie once again for providing me with questions I could really feast on. I enjoy NFL discussion just as much as I enjoy the NFL. Coming up in the NFL, as I mentioned, is free agency and the draft. Free agency kicks off next week and there should be plenty of highlight transitions to the point that eyes should remain peeled to NFL.com. Who the first pick of the draft will be and which team will select which quarterback (including "who will get Johnny Manziel) will be questions looking for answers.

Please submit questions you wish to have answered on my blog and I'll arrange a Q&A. My areas of interest for blogging include politics, books, literature, film, television, sports, music, food, current events, environmental events, nostalgia, and responses to previous posts. Questions are appreciated!

Here's to 250 posts and several more!