Thursday, June 4, 2009

Over, Under, Spot On

Time to roll out a new feature on Within Reason. Our friend "Smack" and I will be debating, as we normally do, but this time the conversations will adhere to a specific format: each topic discussed will be categorized as "over-rated, under-rated, or spot on." We hope you enjoy, and as always, feel free to weigh in by posting a comment.
Within Reason: Alright, here we go with the first round of “Over, Under, or Spot On”:
1) Sam Adams Beer.

Smack: My immediate response was overrated but I couldn’t think of a good reason why. I’ll go with “pretty much spot on.” I think if it weren’t for the Summers and Winters I would commit to overrated.

WR: Totally over-rated. Or, spot on for the wrong reasons. The best thing Sam Adams has going for it is that it was the first (or one of the first) "little guys" to break through to the mainstream. I think the beer itself, though, is over-rated. Their seasonals are way, way over-flavored. Most American specialty beers are, but Sam Adams Winter tastes like bizzarro cough medicine.

2) Brett Favre
S: To me that’s an obvious overrated, but I’ve got a funny feeling you’re going to try to tell me otherwise.
WR: Nope. Totally agree. He has lost more games - meaning single-handedly - than ony other QB in history. 1 Super Bowl victory, a string of absolutely horrible playoff games, and now all of this retirement drama. If John Madden, who does not get enough credit for the influence he has over the current generation of NFL fans, did not have such an enormous man-crush on Favre, I believe his reputation would be much different.
3) Near and dear to our hearts: Pearl Jam
S: I think they’ve run the gauntlet throughout their career. Can I first of all point out that someone who was born on the day that Ten was originally released will be able to legally buy cigarettes by the end of this summer? When Ten came out they were pretty much instantly on top. Then Vs came out. Lots of praise and at this point I’d say spot on. Then there were Vitalogy and No Code: experimental albums, plus the whole Ticketmaster debacle. Massively underrated at this point. Yield was kind of a comeback and they were back to spot on. Binaural was a very quiet release and by Pearl Jam’s standards it was a sub par album. Still spot on. Riot Act may have been the first album that I would say overrated. They promoted it and hyped it up and although I like it, it’s not what I had hoped for. Their eponymous album was really solid. Spot on, maybe even underrated.
WR: I'm going spot-on, agreeing that it's kind of an aggregate of all three. I think the band suffers a bit from some of the "die hard fan base" backlash that you'll see with the Dave Matthews Band, or even Fall Out Boy - where there's that built in "so many people think the band is cool simply because these fans perceive themselves as cool just by being fans." I think in the case of Pearl Jam, this phenomenon is counteracted by the Nirvana - or overall 'music snob' backlash. I think Pearl Jam got a bad rap and were unjustly perceived as 'corporate rock' (apparently in some secret way that Nirvana' was not). Of course, this just makes it all the more enjoyable to show these "music snobs" - of which I know several - cuts like "Unemployable" or "Lukin" - to see the "this is whooo?" reactions.As far as the music itself, I agree that it's been up and down - but the streak of Ten, Vs, Vitalogy, No Code (enormously under-rated in my opinion) and Yield (ditto) is a string of albums that may - due to the state of the music industry - not be duplicated again for a long, long time. Their subsequent releases have been mixed, and I'll even go so far as to so that 2006's eponymous album was a bit over-rated, due mostly to how poorly Riot Act has been received.
As far as the revelation about Ten's release date: Let me point out (as some one with a few years on you) that around the time I was in the record store - at midnight, no doubt - to pick up 'Vs.', the 20th anniversary re-release of 'Dark Side of the Moon' was a hot album. I remember thinking, "Man, 1973...20 years ago. People who were into that record are so old now..." Then, no matter how hard I fight it, I cannot help but to remember "Appetite for Destruction" - the first album I was in love while possessing any sort of matured musical taste (forget that I was in middle school). That album came out 22 years ago. People who were born after I tried my first cigarette are smoking. People who were born after I...nevermind...are, well...nevermind.
4) Hybrid Cars
S: Overrated for lots of reasons. Expensive to buy, expensive to repair, they aren’t that much more fuel efficient than some gas cars, and there will soon be completely electric cars. Have you seen the new Tesla? 100% electric and faster than a Ferrari.
My turn… in the same vein as hybrids: 5) Organic foods
WR: - Yes, I've seen the Tesla. The coolest thing about the Tesla is how relatively inexpensive it is, based on it's performance, appearance...well, the whole package.
- Totally agree on hybrid cars. They are over-rated to the point of annoyance Those new Prius commercials make me want to claw my face off. "The Earth is not psyched you are driving ANY sort of car, people!" That's the equivalent of saying, "I'm bringing my alcoholic friend to the party - you know, the one who drinks all the vodka and trashes the place? Yeah, him - but don't worry, he's switched to beer..."
- Organic food is at a crossroads. At first, I don't know if it was under-rated or misunderstood. It was more expensive, and I think the average consumer did not fully grasp just how unhealthy our 'normal' food had become. Then, for a while, it entered the realm that the Hybrid car currently occupies: You were considered kind of snooty for seeking out organic food - like you expected your grocery receipt to read "Thank you for shopping...and SPECIAL thanks if you bought organic food." Now that organic food is becoming more and more mainstream, and the FDA has really loosened what it means to be "certified organic" - I think it's moving towards the over-rated category.

S: I’m going to go with overrated as well. It’s definitely seen as snooty and a lot of it is bogus anyway (high fructose corn syrup, ewww). I am all for the concept – it’s much better for you and I’m willing to pay more for farm fresh, fair trade, cage free, free range, etc. because I understand that it costs more to bring those products to market. That’s not my issue. What drives me nuts is when my roommate comes home from Trader Joe’s with his organic chicken breast, pomegranate juice and Kashi, then he sits on his fat *** and plays Playstation for 2 hours and thinks he’s a healthy person. And it’s Playstation 1! Poseur!I just get the feeling that half the people shopping at Whole Foods couldn’t pass this quiz:
1. What is an antioxidant?
2. What color is an acai berry?
3. Where did you get those sweet Birkenstocks?
6) Manny
WR: Answer key to your quiz: 1) "I think it's like, uuh, golden...root? Like, it helps you pass a drug test? Right? Oh no, I'm thinking of...this helps you not sweat. Errr.." 2) We sell the pills with that. They're, like, white-ish. Do you mean the juice? Let me ask my manager, River. 3) I found them. Oh no, wait, my parents bought these ones for me. I lost the one's I had found at Bonnarroo.

Manny is another good one. I think we might be a little out of touch here in our neck of the woods, having just gone through the nasty Manny-divorce, then finding out he'd been cheating all along. As a pure hitter, I'd say spot on*. He gets plenty of respect for his ability. As a power hitter, I think we have to say over-rated, simply for the fact that if he had been abusing steroids, and steroids increase power, his power numbers are artificially inflated. It will be quite interesting to see how the 'clean' Manny performs come July.

* I do have to say one thing about the whole "pure hitting" thing. If one of the big draws of steroids is it's ability to allow you to train much more frequently - due to it's aiding of the natural recovery process - I would say that anyone on steroids is not only helping to build muscle mass, but just plain getting in more reps and overall training. Partner that with the fact that baseball is a quintessential "practice makes perfect" sport, and I always wonder why the argument of "he's be great without the steroids" is usually so vehemently defended by most baseball writers. I do concede that there is a natural "you've got it or you don't" level of hand-eye coordination involved, but I certainly think steroids help batters in more areas than just power.
S: Yeah, he is a good hitter, and the praise he gets for that aspect of his game is spot on. However, the steroid bust puts a big asterisk on the hitting for all the reasons you mentioned. Then factor in the mediocre-at-best fielding, the lazy base running and the club killing attitude when he inevitably becomes dissatisfied with his contract. And up until this week he was on pace to start in the ASG despite a 50 GAME SUSPENSION! Overrated.

WR: Last one: 7) Adam Sandler

S: Well I think most people either love him or hate him. He was good on SNL, his CDs were funny, and personally I thought the early movies were hilarious (“Going Overboard” excluded - he still owes me 2 hours for that one). He does ok with the serious roles, too. I don’t think anyone’s trying to paint him as being on the same level as, say, Philip Seymour Hoffman (although upon further investigation he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Punch Drunk Love.) He was funny when he was trying to be, and good when he was being serious. I will grant him a free pass for “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.” Otherwise spot on.

WR: Sandler is another tricky one. Looking at his filmography, there are a lot on the resume I had forgotten about (usually not a good sign). Skipping "Going Overboard" - here's a run down (of his feature roles): "Billy Madison" - classic, "Happy Gilmore" - all-time classic, "Bulletproof" - awful, "The Wedding Singer" - very solid, but VH1 has it on steady rotation, so some of the shine has come off, "The Waterboy" - slipping a bit, "Big Daddy" - a bit of a rebound, but you see him getting tame..."Little Nicky" - awful, "Mr. Deeds" - crummy, "Anger Management" - poor, "50 First Dates" - not well received, but I actually think it's on a level with Big Daddy: decent, "Spanglish" - either I'm missing something, or that movie had no plot, "The Longest Yard" - meh, "Click" - awful, "Reign Over Me" - awful, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" - awful, and kind of offensive, I think, "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" - better, but still awful, "Bedtime Stories" - which I've heard was enjoyable for families (haven't seen it).

That's not a great track record, but he can still make boatloads of money for the studios. I would say that Funny People could be a tipping point for his career - to see if he can remain viable in the world of relevant, target demo (18-34) comedies, or whether he veers off into the land of "I have kids now. Look for me this summer in 'Daddy Day Care 2: Diaper Doody.'"

I'm going to say over-rated, with a make up exam this summer.

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