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January 25, 2006

Reclining Pig: Oscar Edition

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards, I scoured the photo archives and found these...

Philip Seymour Hoffman must wear this Reclining Pig shirt a lot
Best Actor favorite Philip Seymour Hoffman

Reese Witherspoon in Reclining Pig Couture
Everyone made a big deal about the fact that Kirsten Dunst had worn this same dress before. How did they not notice the gold poodle-skirt-style Reclining Pig that Reese had added as a special touch?

Posted by JoshHornik at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2006

Tochiazuma Wins

Well, Hakuho did what he had to, beating Koto'oshu to go to 13-2. But then his fellow Mongolian Asashoryu let him down. Tochiazuma got a good grip on Asashoryu's belt, with a quick face-off, and it didn't take him long to throw Asashoryu down to go to 14-1 and win his 3rd championship.Tochiazuma flings Asashoryu
Tochiazuma teaches Asashoryu how to fly

So, Asashoryu ended up 11-4, only 2 fewer losses than he had all year last year. Koto'oshu ended up 10-5 in his first tournament as Ozeki. (Look for Hakuho, who got the Outstanding Performance Award, to join him at Ozeki within a couple tournaments.) Roho ended at 9-6 and looks good for promotion to the top ranks next tournament. Ama also ended up 9-6. Kokkai ended up 8-7 by beating Takamisakari and dropping him to 7-8 (no Hawaii trip for Takamisakari's Mom). Hokutoriki ended up 3rd in the tournament at 12-3 and he won the Fighting Spirit Prize. And Tokitsuumi also went 12-3 and won the Technique Prize.

Next tournament starts March 12. Asashoryu will be looking to take back the crown, and Hakuho will be looking to earn his Ozeki promotion.

Posted by JoshHornik at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2006

No V8 for Asashoryu! 2 left for title!

Asashoryu beat Koto'oshu yesterday, but before the match had even started, he had watched Tochiazuma beat Hokutoriki, making his match irrelevant.

In fact, by winning and taking his record to a tournament-best 13-1, Tochiazuma took everyone but one other wrestler out of the competition. Hokutoriki fell to 11-3. Asashoryu also stands at 11-3, and Koto'oshu dropped to 10-4 with his loss. Tokitsuumi lost to drop to 11-3, as well.

The only wrestler left with a chance to catch Tochiazuma is Hakuho, who beat Tokitsuumi to raise his record to 12-2.

So it all comes down to the last 2 matches of the final day. First, Hakuho faces Koto'oshu. If Hakuho beats Koto'oshu, he puts the pressure on Tochiazuma, but if he loses, Tochiazuma wins the tournament.

Then, Asashoryu can't win his 8th tournament in a row, but he can play spoiler to Tochiazuma. If Hakuho wins, then an Asashoryu win over Tochiazuma would send Hakuho and Tochiazuma to a playoff. (Hakuho lost to Tochiazuma in their match on day 8.)

And in other news, Georgian Kokkai and "Robocop" Takamisakari both stand at 7-7 and go against each other on the last day to determine who gets promoted and who gets demoted. Also, Takamisakari promised his mother he'd give her a trip to Hawaii if he wins 8 or more, so a lot is riding on tomorrow's match.

Posted by JoshHornik at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2006

No 6-way tie! Tochiazuma leads!

In what I called a "breather" for the Yokozuna, Asashoryu was shocked by Ama and knocked almost out of contention for the title. Ama, the smallest wrestler in the top level, actually managed to get lower than Asashoryu (who usually gets very low himself) and used the advantage to spin Asashoryu around and finally down. Ama goes to 9-4 and Asahoryu down to 10-3 and 2 behind the leader.

The leader, all by himself now, is Tochiazuma at 12-1 after beating Koto'oshu. In a pretty impressive show of strength by Tochiazuma (who's about a foot shorter than the Bulgarian giant), Koto'oshu never had a chance and ended up getting pushed out. Koto'oshu joins Asashoryu at the barely-alive 2 back with 2 days left.

Tochiazuma is the only 1-loss wrestler left, because Hakuho beat the other, Hokutoriki. Hakuho, my new pick to win the tournament, looked strong again and got his record to 11-2, just 1 back. Hokutoriki fell to 11-2.

Today's matches:
Hakuho vs. Tokitsuumi (the other wrestler 1 back at 11-2)
Tochiazuma vs. Hokutoriki
Asashoryu vs. Koto'oshu

There could be a 3-way tie after today w/ Asashoryu or Koto'oshu just 1 back, if Hokutoriki beats Tochiazuma. If Tochiazuma wins, he will probably still have to beat Asashoryu on the last day to win it without a playoff.

Posted by JoshHornik at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2006

Asashoryu loses! 6 within 1 win of lead!

This is now officially the most competitive Sumo tournament since September of 2004, the last time 6 wrestlers were within 1 of the lead after 12 days.

There are 2 tied for the lead at 11-1, and 4 tied for 2nd at 10-2. Asashoryu yesterday joined the 1-behind gang, losing to the guy I predicted might be trouble for him this time, Hakuho. Hakuho is also 10-2 now. Asashoryu was looking pretty good, pushing Hakuho back and working to get a grip on his belt, when Hakuho made a lightning-fast move to lock Asashoryu's arm, whip his body around and yank Asashoryu down and out. (And by the look of Asashoryu rubbing his shoulder, pretty nearly pull Asashoryu's arm out of its socket.)

The cushions went flying (that's what the fans do when someone beats a Yokozuna) and then there were 2 in the lead: Ozeki Tochiazuma and the guy I better stop calling a scrub, Hokutoriki.

Meanwhile, the other 2 wrestlers 1 back include Koto'oshu, who won his 7th match in a row and looks nearly unbeatable now, and another scrub from the bottom of the rankings, Tokitsuumi.

With only 3 days left, the tournament really gets interesting now. Today, the 2 Ozeki's (Tochiazuma and Koto'oshu) go up against each other, then they take turns going up against Asashoryu on days 14 & 15. Asashoryu goes up against an out-of-his-league Ama today for a breather, before the 2 Ozeki's on the weekend. With a little help from Koto'oshu beating Tochiazuma, and Hakuho beating Hokutoriki, there could be a 6-way tie for first after day 13!

Posted by JoshHornik at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2006

Q: Are we not men? A: We are still DEVO!

Devo in classic yellow jumpsuit, red energy dome combo
Last Saturday, I had the rare opportunity to step back in time and see one of the great acts of the 1980's. Do not call them a one-hit wonder. DEVO were much more than just Whip It: They were original, wrote great music (if there are any new bands reading this, cover "Girl U Want" and I guarantee a hit!), and they were one of only 2 80's bands my brother and I both agreed was great. (The other was The Knack, and yes, I still think My Sharona rocks.) The show was in Agoura Hills, some random town I'd never heard of -- probably the most secret Devo gig since Muffy Tepperman's Bat Mitzvah on Square Pegs.

Anyway, though I must admit to some nostalgia -- every time Mark Mothersbaugh went for a familiar synthesizer solo, I wanted to go roller-skating or play Atari -- these guys can still play and sing. They don't quite look as good in their yellow Devo jumpsuits and red energy domes (AKA flower-pot hats) -- in fact, they're gray-haired and fat -- but they didn't disappoint on energy or choreography. Why would a band that hadn't had a hit or put out a new song in over 20 years play 4 gigs a year in small local clubs? It seems it's because they really enjoy doing it.

On to the concert:
After a brief video montage of classic Devo videos, the band appeared in yellow jumpsuits and red energy domes, playing "That's Good" in true 80's-synth glory: guitar, drums, and 3 synthesizer players. They then played a couple others in this configuration, including the aforementioned great piece of songwriting, Girl U Want, and then they switched to guitar-band format. Little known Devo fact: the band was really much more guitar-centered than synthesizer, and always played live drums, too. Switching to three guitars, bass and drums (with the occasional Mothersbaugh synth solo), they broke into a greatest hits set list, especially focused on their first breakthrough album. Songs played included Whip It, Mongoloid, Gates of Steel, Satisfaction, the truly outstanding Uncontrollable Urge, and Are We Not Men?, at which point they tore off their yellow jumpsuits to reveal matching Devo t-shirts, shorts and knee pads (not the most flattering look for aging nerd-rockers). They then finished with a few more, closing with the seemingly never-ending (in a good way) Come Back Jonee.

The arrangements were all almost exactly the same as the album versions, and the band was surprisingly tight for guys that presumably don't play together that often. (And though we know some still have flourishing musical careers, who knows if they all still play?) Mothersbaugh's voice sounded exactly the same as always (though I guess it was never exactly about the notes with Devo vocals). The crowd was enthusiastic -- who knew there were so many Devo fans?

As Devo's bass player Gerry Casale said, "you don't have to look any further than the chimp in the White House to see that de-evolution is still happening" and considering some of the popular music today (Strokes, Hives, etc.), it's clear Devo are still relevant, maybe more so today than ever.

Posted by JoshHornik at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2006

Sumo Update - Day 9

9 days down, 6 to go, and this is still one of the most competitive tournaments in ages.

Our leader: Hokutoriki, ranked Maegashira #11 (translated: scrub, although he did compete for a championship in some tournament in the last couple years). Hokutoriki is feasting on the low-ranked wrestlers, and he's the only wrestler yet to lose. 9-0.

Hokutoriki, current King of the Scrubs

The real competition is at the top of the standings.
At 8-1, Yokozuna Asashoryu with 7 straight wins (most very easy) since a shocking day 2 loss. Also at 8-1, Ozeki Tochiazuma, who lost his first match yesterday.

At 7-2, new Ozeki Koto'oshu, plus Sekiwake's Kotomitsuki and Hakuho. Also 4 Maegashira's, including dangerous Russian wrestler Roho.

In why-don't-you-just-retire-already news, Ozeki's Kaio and Chiyotaikai have both dropped out of the tournament due to injury.

Match of the day tomorrow: Asashoryu vs. Kotomitsuki

Posted by JoshHornik at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2006

Some Sumo, so sue me!

Oh, yeah! That time again.
After a truly dominant year 2005 by Yokozuna Asashoryu, it's time to start 2006 with the New Year's Tournament.

To recap the storylines:
Asashoryu has won 7 tournaments in a row. He won more matches (84 out of 90) in 2005 than any Sumo wrestler ever won in a single year.
He has been the only Yokozuna in Sumo for over 2 years now (a record). And of the Ozeki's (2nd highest rank), at least one has been in danger of losing his rank for 8 tournaments in a row. In other words, he has had no competition.

But we start 2006 with the possibility of some competition for Asashoryu:
1) Koto'oshu just got promoted to Ozeki. It was the fastest promotion ever (since the time he started in Sumo), and he's the first from Europe (Bulgaria, to be exact.)
2) Hakuho, who looked like the newest star of Sumo about 6 months ago, then got hurt, looks to be completely healed and ready to compete with the best again. He's currently a Sekiwake (the rank just under Ozeki).
3) With 4 Ozeki's now, someone will have to be able to hang with Asashoryu.

OK, we're through day 4 now and here's the big news:
- Koto'oshu lost on day 1. He did that last tournament, too. I think he was too nervous on his first day as Ozeki. He's won 3 in a row since then, though.
- Asashoryu lost on day 2. Just a great match by Georgian wrestler Kokkai. Asashoryu seemed pretty pissed. He's won all his other matches, but now the pressure is on if he wants to beat 84 wins this year.
- Hakuho definitely looks like he's back in health. He's undefeated.
- Of the other Ozeki's, Kaio is looking bad again at 1-3, Chiyotaikai looks OK but he lost one, and Tochiazuma, who is this tournament's Ozeki in danger of losing his rank (needs 8 wins or he's demoted), is undefeated.

4-0 -- Tochiazuma, Hakuho, and 2 scrubs
3-1 -- Asashoryu, Chiyotaikai, Koto'oshu, Kotomitsuki, Roho
2-2 -- Takamisakari
1-3 -- Kaio

Posted by JoshHornik at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2006


OK, you can all stop holding your breath.

Here they are, the 2005 Joshcars!

I don't care what Ebert says, I think it was a pretty bad year for movies. Decent year for comedy, though (and good year for animation) -- why don't the awards ever go to comedies and comic actors for being funny? If there was an MVP for acting, it should go to -- well, OK, it should still go to Philip Seymour Hoffman, but #2 would be Vince Vaughn for what he did in Wedding Crashers. And if Sarah Silverman stars in a comedy concert film, doesn't that make her the lead actress of that movie?

Enjoy and send comments.

Posted by JoshHornik at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2006

Best in Music 2005

OK, time for the year-end lists. Here are my lists of the best music from last year.

Best CD's of 2005
1. Devin Davis -- Lonely People of the World, Unite!
This one breaks a virtual 3-way tie at the top by being the most accessible. Straight-ahead 3-minute rock tunes win every time.
Read my review

2. Sufjan Stevens -- Illinois
Every time I hear one of these songs (with the iPod on shuffle), I get more respect for this CD. True musical genius, considering the guy wrote the songs, produced it, and played most of the instruments. This is not straight-ahead rock, but totally rewarding.
Read my review

3. Bright Eyes -- I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Pure songwriting. The focus is on simple melodies and lyrics over acoustic guitar. The few accents (like a solo trumpet or an Emmylou Harris harmony vocal) work perfectly. The album is even better as a whole than the sum of its parts.

4. Joy Zipper -- American Whip
Vocal harmonies, enveloping atmospheric music, downer lyrics over happy music. If you like "shoegazer" music, you'll love it. Even if you don't, you might like this, as it's a little more interesting than the usual shoegazer. Check out the song Alzheimer's, which straddles the line of decency but stays on the right side (and sounds great, too).

5. Stubbs The Zombie -- soundtrack
A video game soundtrack? I guess it's a video game about a zombie from the 50's, so the music is all rock 'n roll songs from the 1950's (Lollipop, Mr. Sandman, Everyday, Earth Angel, etc.) performed by alternative bands of the 2000's. Great concept, very well executed.

Best Concerts of 2005
1. The Decemberists at Henry Fonda 3/21
Great songs, well-played but spontaneous. High energy. With the addition of Petra Hayden to the band, the harmonies were great, and Colin Meloy's voice is unique and interesting (live and in-studio). Good song selection (easy with only 3 albums) and a good crowd.

2. James Brown at House of Blues 11/16
The hardest-working man in show business never lets you down, even at age 72. Just writing that is amazing. The guy doesn't dance as much or even sing as much as he used to, but he can still hit the notes when he tries. And he does still scream, grunt, and perform like he always has. The songs are all-time classics, and he always puts on a killer show.

3. Rolling Stones at Angels Stadium 11/4
More old guys who can still do it. Mick can still sing, and dances around the massive stage like a 20-something. Keith, Ron, and Charlie still play great. (Keith cannot sing, but, hey, he never could, and it's always fun to see him try.) The song selection was a bit 'greatest hits' but the show was a crowd-pleaser and it's always fun to see a huge show with giant moving stage, fireworks and videos, and a large crowd.

4. Newport Folk Festival - Newport, RI 8/6-7
Great lineup and perfect weather. Traditional bluegrass like Del McCoury and festival highlight Foghorn Stringband, mixed with modern folk musicians like Ray LaMontagne and Bright Eyes, with a couple classic rockers (Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello) thrown in. A few lows (Pixies, Kaki King) but the highs definitely outnumbered the lows by a lot.

5. Polyphonic Spree at Henry Fonda 2/21
No concert brings more positive energy than the Polyphonic Spree. The number in the band almost approach the number in the crowd, and the energy and controlled chaos they bring is truly a sight to see. And contagious, bringing the always-appreciative crowd to its feet, dancing and singing along.

Posted by JoshHornik at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)