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March 26, 2006

Looks like 2005 again

Wacky end to the Sumo tournament, but a familiar result: Asashoryu wins his 16th championship.

Kaio came up big and beat Hakuho to get to 8-7 and keep his Sumo career alive. Hakuho dropped to 13-2.

All Asashoryu needed to do was beat Tochiazuma to win the tournament, but amazingly, Tochiazuma managed to beat Asashoryu. Tochiazuma keeps his Yokozuna promotion hopes alive for next tournament (13 wins next tournament will earn him promotion).

And Asashoryu had to face Hakuho in the first all-Mongolian playoff in Sumo history. Asashoryu got his revenge from the loss Hakuho handed him earlier in the tournament and denied Hakuho his first championship. Now, Asashoryu has won 8 of the last 9 tournaments.

Asashoryu beats Hakuho for the Spring Sumo tournament championship

This was the tournament of the Mongolians, as Asashoryu won, Hakuho won the Outstanding Performance prize and a Technique prize, Kyokushuzan (11-4) won a Fighting Spirit prize, and Ama (8-7 and heading for promotion to the top ranks) also won a Technique prize.

Or maybe the tournament of the foreigners, as Baruto (the Ivan Drago of Sumo) from Estonia went undefeated, 15-0, in Juryo. He's the first Juryo wrestler to go 15-0 since 1963.

Final Standings:
13-2 Asashoryu, Hakuho
12-3 Tochiazuma
11-4 Wakanosato, Kyokushuzan
10-5 Kisenosato (young Japanese wrestler will be moving up the ranks to take on all the Mongolians)
9-6 Chiyotaikai, Koto'oshu (battling some ankle injury, lost his last 3)
8-7 Kaio
7-8 Takamisakari (another demotion -- Takamisakari getting dangerously close to droppping down to Juryo level)

Next tournament is in Tokyo in May. It will be Asashoryu vs. 5 Ozeki's (including Hakuho after his promotion). And Baruto will be at the bottom of the big leagues, representing for Estonia.

Posted by JoshHornik at 07:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2006

On to the last day...

Asashoryu beat Koto'oshu and Hakuho beat Wakanosato, so it comes down to the last day.

On day 15, Asashoryu faces Tochiazuma (now 11-3, and needs to beat Asashoryu to continue his quest for Yokozuna promotion next tournament).

Hakuho goes up against Kaio, who beat Chiyotaikai to even his record at 7-7. That means Kaio needs to beat Hakuho to stay at Ozeki (and not be forced to retire). Kaio's managed to win 3 of his last 4, so maybe he actually has enough to win it.

If both Asashoryu and Hakuho win, then they take each other on in a tiebreaker match (a chance for Asashoryu to get revenge for his 1 loss this tournament).

Posted by JoshHornik at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2006

Sumo - 2 days to go

Only 2 days left and it's all knotted up.

Hakuho lost to Tochiazuma on Day 12 and Asashoryu beat Kaio to tie him. Today they both won to go to 12-1. Asashoryu beat Ozeki Chiyotaikai and Hakuho beat fellow Sekiwake Kotomitsuki.

Looks like Asashoryu faces Koto'oshu tomorrow and Tochiazuma Sunday, while Hakuho faces Wakanosato (the scrub who finally got the respect of the match-schedulers, only to lose his 3rd and fall out of contention) tomorrow and Kaio on the last day. That Hakuho-Kaio match could be huge -- Hakuho will probably be going for the championship and Kaio could be 7-7 and need to win to save his career. (Kaio won today to keep his hopes alive, at 6-7, and faces Kotomitsuki tomorrow.)

Hakuho, with 12 wins already, is assured his Ozeki promotion for next tournament. He'll be the 4th youngest Ozeki ever (Takanohana was the youngest). He'll also be the 6th foreigner to make Ozeki and 2nd Mongolian. And now the question becomes -- how long until he makes Yokozuna?

In other news, another Mongolian who's little but has great skill, Kyokushuzan, is 10-3. Retarded-looking Takamisakari has lost 4 in a row and needs to win his last 2 to keep from sinking to the bottom of the Sumo major leagues. And Estonian monster Baruto won the Juryo (2nd highest level - triple-A minor league) championship.

Standings:
12-1 Asashoryu, Hakuho
10-3 Tochiazuma, Wakanosato, Kyokushuzan
9-4 Koto'oshu, (Great Japanese Hope) Kisenosato
8-5 Chiyotaikai, Kotomitsuki
6-7 Kaio, Takamisakari

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

March 22, 2006

Advantage HAKUHO

In the battle of 10-0 wrestlers, Hakuho beat Asashoryu and took the tournament lead. He also assured promotion to Ozeki for next tournament.

So, one promotion will happen and one won't, as Tochiazuma lost to hanging-onto-Ozeki-by-his-fingernails Kaio to drop to 8-3. Tochiazuma won't get promoted to Yokozuna even if he wins the rest of his matches, but if he does manage that (which he won't), he'll be alive for Yokozuna promotion after the next tournament. Meanwhile, Kaio has decided he will stay in this tournament to the last day, even if he gets a losing record. It's unclear if he'll come back for the next tournament as a Sekiwake if he gets demoted, or if he'll retire.

With Tochiazuma losing, the only wrestler other than Hakuho and Asashoryu with a realistic chance is Wakanosato. Well, he's 9-2, anyway. I guess he could get lucky.

Standings:
11-0: Hakuho
10-1: Asashoryu
9-2: Wakanosato
8-3: Tochiazuma, Koto'oshu, Chiyotaikai, Kisenosato (next great Japanese hope)
6-5: Takamisakari
5-6: Kaio

Posted by JoshHornik at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

Sumo Update - Day 10

Clash of the Titans today, when Asashoryu faces Hakuho for the tournament lead. Both are undefeated, 10-0 (as I predicted), after Hakuho defeated Koto'oshu and Asashoryu beat Kotomitsuki. The winner today will be in the driver's seat for the championship, but will have a lot of tough matches still to go.

Meanwhile, Kaio lost again to fall to 4-6. He now has to go 4-1 to stay at Ozeki and, most likely, stave off retirement.

Chiyotaikai has all but sewn up remaining an Ozeki. He's 7-3 and needs just one more win in his next 5 matches.

Tochiazuma is still hanging onto Yokozuna promotion (and championship) hopes, at 8-2. If he can win all the rest of his matches, he'll be promoted and end Asashoryu's record string of tournaments as the only Yokozuna.

Koto'oshu and Kotomitsuki are still hanging in, 3 wins off the lead, but with only 5 days left, they're pretty much out of it.

Standings:
10-0 Asashoryu, Hakuho
8-2 Tochiazuma, Wakanosato (this tournament's top scrub)
7-3 Koto'oshu, Chiyotaikai, Kotomitsuki
6-4 Miyabiyama, Takamisakari
4-6 Kaio

Posted by JoshHornik at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2006

Sumo - day 8

2 man race?

At "the turn", halfway through the tournament, and it's looking like a 2-man race between Yokozuna Asashoryu and Sekiwake (soon-to-be Ozeki) Hakuho. Both won yesterday to go to 8-0 -- Asashoryu over Georgian Kokkai and Hakuho over the Ozeki Chiyotaikai. For Hakuho, it's his first time going 8-0; for Asashoryu, the 15th time he's done it. Because there are 3 Ozeki's that Asashoryu will have to face on the last 3 days, the big Asashoryu-Hakuho match should be coming up in a few days. Look for them both to go undefeated until then.

In other news, Ozeki Tochiazuma took a 2nd loss on Saturday, putting severe pressure on his attempt at Yokozuna promotion. (Will probably have to win the rest of his matches, including Koto'oshu, Hakuho, and Asashoryu.)

Kaio staves off retirement for another day, evening his record at 4-4. Needs to go 4-3 from now on to stay at Ozeki. And Chiyotaikai has lost 3 in a row after winning his first 5, so he needs to go 3-4 to avoid demotion.

Koto'oshu and Kotomitsuki, at 6-2, are staying alive in the race in case Asashoryu and Hakuho get upset.

Standings:

8-0 Asashoryu, Hakuho
7-1 Wakanosato (the proverbial 'scrub', ranked Maegashira #11)
6-2 Tochiazuma, Koto'oshu, Kotomitsuki
5-3 Chiyotaikai, Takamisakari
4-4 Kaio

Match of the day: Hakuho vs. Koto'oshu

Posted by JoshHornik at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2006

Sumo Update - day 6

Standings after day 6:

6-0: Asashoryu, Hakuho
5-1: Tochiazuma, Chiyotaikai, Kotomitsuki
4-2: Koto'oshu, Kisenosato, Takamisakari, Hakurozan, Kyokushuzan
2-4: Kaio

Asashoryu looking strong, and Hakuho looking good to get his promotion to Ozeki.
Tochiazuma is still in it for promotion to Yokozuna, but he'll have to beat at least a couple of Asashoryu, Hakuho, Chiyotaikai, and Koto'oshu.
Chiyotaikai lost his first today, but still looks good to stay at Ozeki -- unlike Kaio who, at 2-4, is looking like a good bet to retire. He's hanging in to see if he has a chance to get his 8 wins, but if not, I think he will retire -- finally.

Posted by JoshHornik at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

Spring Sumo Tournament - Day 3

The Spring Sumo tournament has started in Osaka.

Top stories:

- Tochiazuma goes for Yokozuna promotion. Ozeki Tochiazuma won the last tournament and if he can win again, or maybe get a lot of wins and come in 2nd, he'll be promoted to Yokozuna. He already lost one match - 2-1, not the best start.

- Hakuho goes for Ozeki promotion. Hakuho, currently sekiwake, will be promoted to Ozeki if he can win probably 12 or 13 matches. Seems like he's fully recovered from last year's leg injury and, off to a fast 3-0 start, he'll probably compete for the championship and get his Ozeki promotion.

- Kaio and Chiyotaikai are both 'kadoban'. That means they need to win 8 or they'll be demoted from Ozeki. It's the 9th time in this situation for both, which is an Ozeki Lameness record. Chiyotaikai looks good to get 8, at 3-0, but Kaio has lost 1 match already.

- Asashoryu back to the top? Asashoryu is 3-0 and looking strong again. I wouldn't bet against him winning every tournament for the rest of the year.

And the final contender, Koto'oshu, lost on day 2 but should still contend for the championship.

Posted by JoshHornik at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2006

Josh's Songbook #2: Steely Dan - My Old School

The first judgment I make on any song is the answer to a simple question: could I have written this song? Although not always true, in most cases, considering my musicianship, songs I think I probably could have written myself are generally lame. (This means you, Jack Johnson.)

Of course, just because a song has funky chord changes or an interesting arrangement doesn't necessarily make it a great song, but originality and musicality are certainly requirements.

Which brings me to Steely Dan. I cannot think of a single song by Steely Dan that I could have written. In fact, when I look at the wacked jazz chords they used, I find that I generally can't even play their stuff. Some people probably consider their music a little too 'brainy', but in fact, the best Steely Dan songs (and there are a lot of truly great ones) are incredibly accessible despite their complicated nature.

One such song is My Old School (go here and scroll down to find a video clip of Steely Dan playing it on American Bandstand), from the 1973 album Countdown To Ecstasy. Featuring just plain killer guitar solos, an incredible (and incredibly complex) horn arrangement, and some completely inscrutable harmonies, it somehow manages to put it all together into one of the most sing-along-able songs around.

Lyrically, I could never figure it out, really. It seems like some sort of autobiographical story about a past relationship, but what I like is that the tone (both lyrically and musically) is extremely upbeat but with an edge. Something bad seems to have happened, but there's definite victory in the chorus of "I'm never going back to my old school."

Musically, this song is one of the greatest all-time sing-along songs, because of all the different parts coming together. Listen one time and you might sing along with Donald Fagen on vocals, but the next time you find yourself singing the horn part, and with a few more listens, you might even get the blazing Jeff Baxter guitar solo down. All with a driving beat that never stops, even propelled during instrumental breaks by, yes, the cowbell. The harmonies are so complex (I have yet to sing the right note on "school", but I try every time) but they are seamless. On the last two verses, Donald Fagen duets with himself to amazing effect.

As I said, I never tried too hard to figure out what the lyrics meant, but I still consider these lyrics some of the best in pop music. That's because, musically, they are such a perfect fit. There is not a syllable out of place, and there are so many multi-syllable words and phrases that sound great and are fun to sing. For example, the opening to the last verse, when the harmony hits the high notes on "California crumbles into the sea". And, most perfectly, the lead-in to the chorus with "Oh, no, William & Mary won't do" and then, even better, "Oh, no, Guadalajara won't do".

Steely Dan was really a unique band in pop music history. Some of their songs were great for the harmonies (Reelin' in the Years), some for the guitar solos (Do It Again), some for the tight studio musicianship (Bodhisattva). And when they put it all together like on My Old School (or Black Friday, Kid Charlemagne, Show Biz Kids, etc.), it doesn't get any better.

Posted by JoshHornik at 12:37 PM | Comments (1)

I saw Joshua Jackson: 3 points

Joshua Jackson You may be wondering: whatever happened to Josh Jackson? All of his Dawson's Creek compatriots seem to be in the news. Michelle Williams could be holding Oscar come Sunday night. Katie Holmes, of course, got inseminated by a religious zealot wack-job old enough to be her Dad (and she also got a super cool tattoo). Even Busy Phillips (who I only mention because she was also on Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared) had a new show. And James Vanderbeek, I hear, got promoted from Barista to Supervisor. (...rimshot).

So what's up with Pacey Witter? Well, I saw him the other day coming out of Barnes & Noble at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Couldn't tell - he may have been picking up 'Arthur and George' in hopes of playing a young Conan Doyle in the movie version, or maybe he was buying 'How to Start an eBay Business' to make quick cash out of his old Mighty Ducks costumes.

OK. +1 point each for being the best character on 'the Creek' and for being taller than I expected. -1/2 each for terrible movie choices The Skulls, Gossip, Cruel Intentions, and Cursed. -1 more for a career on life support. -1 more Star Wars Factor.

Total: 3 points.

Posted by JoshHornik at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

Photoblog Chicago

Hmm... maybe I should get a digital camera. I finally developed my pictures from my trip to Chicago. 8 months ago.

Chicago postcard picture
Summer day in Chicago

Millenium Park in Chicago
The cool Gehry bandstand and the even cooler Bean thingamajig.

Josh Hornik in Chicago
Me in Chicago (middle, reflected in the statue, which was still under construction)

Posted by JoshHornik at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

Where's ET? - Special Edition

I know Where's E.T. is greatly missed, so here's one for you:

Guess where E.T. is...

Can you guess where E.T. is in this picture?
Click here for the answer.

Need a hint? Try humming Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" - it might come to you then.

Posted by JoshHornik at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)