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Red Letter Day: 1K, Bitches

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 19, 2009

1000

It was certainly down to the wire, but just before midnight, we here at Intensities in Ten Suburbs reached a true milestone: Our first ever 1,000-hit day on the blog, at least since WordPress started tracking these things at the beginning of 2008. We’ve come close a couple times over the last month, but could never quite crack the millennium mark until yesterday (up to 1050, in fact!) This may not sound like a lot to some of you–hell, it isn’t a lot–but it’s leaps and bounds from our humble, 200-on-a-good-day beginnings, and it keeps our juices flowing to deliver more endless diatribes about teen drama vixens and forgotten nu-metal ballads.

Thanks to everyone who’s continued to visit IITS since Stylus shut down, who’s let us know you’re out there in the comments section, or who’s helped spread the word about the recent 00s countdown. In the words of Drake, we would fuck with all of y’all, all of y’all are beautiful.

In the meantime, keep on coming: The best is yet to come. Technically speaking.

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Red Letter Day: Intenities in Ten Suburbs Joins Twitter, 21st Century

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 23, 2009

Twitter

I know, I know. What can I say? You can only fight the future for so long. Eventually, one must come to the realization that in today’s fast-paced, get-it-done-yesterday world, one simply can not take the time to devote an entire blog post to every idea, packed with inspiration and urgency, that bursts into one’s mind over the course of the day. Much of the time, 140 characters will simply have to suffice. Blog entries here will of course be as regular as ever, but in case one big un’s just not doing it for you anymore, you can also get shorter blasts (yeah, yeah) from us roughly five to ten times a day via our new Twitter page, the imaginetively titled Intensities. We’e got 11 followers so far, at least five of which are (probably) not spam, so things are looking up already, but we would certainly appreciate any additional subscriptions. Follow us and we’ll almost certainly follow you right back, so at the least, you can look at it as an opportunity to pad your no doubt already gaudy stats.

Upwards, not forwards.

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Red-Letter Day: Phil Thine Horn With Post-Season And Go

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 28, 2008

Shine a light

First off, a huge, towering, epic Fuck You to whoever programs FOX baseball in New York. All year I’ve had to miss Phillies games on Saturday afternoons because they would black out my MLB Extra Innings package and only show the Mets or Yankees on FOX. But I thought that with the Mets playing early afternoon today, and the Yankees game getting rained out, I might get what I was cruelly denied last year–the chance to actually watch my home team win their division and secure a post-season trip. But instead, FOX decided to show the Brewers-Cubs game, even as the Cubs were clearly pulling away in the ninth and the Phillies were 90 feet away from giving up a ninth-inning lead for the first time all season, with two long outs to go.

So here I am, staring at the ESPN GameCast on my computer screen, totally helpless as perfect-till-then closer Brad Lidge lets bloop single after walk after defender-splitting ground ball until the Phils’ lead dwindles down to its thinnest possible margin. And finally, I find out about the Phils making the post-season, via one of the most miraculous game-ending double plays I might ever witness, thanks to the following clumsy cut-away report, courtesy of the immortal Jeanne Zelasko:

…Roger Bernadinha scores, and now it’s 4-3, with the bases loaded, with two outs…and it looks like there’s three outs now…and the Phils win.”

Uh, what? I mean, great. Awesome. OH MY GOD. OH MY FUCKING GOD. It’s not exactly a memory I’ll be relating the magic of to my grandkids as they watch Jamie Moyer III throw a complete game shut-out of the Carson City Credenzas in September 2054, but as far as end results go, it’ll definitely do.

Even though I barely got to see any of it, it was still just about the best game I could have asked for to be the cap on the Phils’ 2008 regular season. Well, maybe not completely–it could’ve been against the Mets, or Tim Redding, or whoever the fucking pitcher was for the Pirates that game in August when Joe Blanton threw a one-hitter and they still lost (Blanton! ONE HIT!!!) But it was a tight, suspenseful game where every single player in the Phillies’ starting line-up contributed at least a little to the win–even Carlos Ruiz hit one of those sac flies in the 4th. But more than anything, today’s game was a testament to three of the Phils’ current greats, who might also be my three favorite players on the team–Jamie Moyer, Jimmy Rollins, and Brad Lidge.

There’s really not enough that can be said for what Jamie Moyer has meant to this team and their fanbase this season. Through the creamy middle months of the season, when Brett Myers was looking like a complete flop, Adam Eaton and his 5.80 ERA were still starting every five games, and the Phils seemed allergic to home plate whenever Cole Hamels took the mound, Moyer’s team-record string of consecutive quality starts is what kept Philly afloat. And frankly, even though Hamels is unquestionably the team’s ace, I just don’t know that I’d trust him to lock it down on the last game of the season–Cole still seems a little nervy, a little green when asked to come through in a big spot, and given his repeated statements about how relieved he is about not having to pitch tomorrow, looks like I wasn’t the only one that was worried. Not that I really hold it against the guy–he’s still only 24, after all. But that’s exactly what the Phils keep Moyer around for–he’s got 20 whole years more experience on the mound than Hamels, and really, there’s no one who I’d rather have on the hill with the season on the line.

Meanwhile, Rollins needed the redemption of September more than anyone else on the team. It’s almost hard to remember at this point that barely even a month ago, I was envisioning trade scenarios after it looked like his comments about the nature of Philly fandom was going to make his future in the city untenable. But a five-hit night in a season-highlight comeback victory against the Mets a few weeks later, and the boos disappeared, never to rematerialize. And now today, after two game-saving, Baseball Tonight-confirmed Web Gems (a Mays-style basket catch, colliding with Victorino to save the tying run in the 8th, and then a dive on a double play ball, flipped to Utley from his knees, which saved a run and ended the game), he could take a piss on the Liberty Bell while pouring out a case of Yuengling and ranting about how Rocky was a poor man’s Play It to the Bone and he’d still be the prince of Philadelphia. It’s good to have you back, J-Roll.

But if there’s anyone who turned in a truly season-defining performance tonight, it was Brad Lidge. If you only know about it from SI and ESPN, and you hear about how Brad Lidge is a perfect 41 for 41, you’d think that Philly fans could turn off the TV in the 8th inning, knowing a guaranteed suspense-free, 1-2-3 inning of total domination was on the way from Lidge. There might have been a couple of those, but I’d say no more than a half-dozen, and certainly none in this month. Lidge saves can be measured in levels of panic–maybe not the kind of panic you Brewer or Met fans feel when your closers (sic) enter, but panic nonetheless. Slightly worse than the all-too-rare three-up, three-down type is the kind where after getting two strikeouts, he gives a four-pitch walk to the team’s worst hitter, which gives you that Uh-oh what’s wrong here twinge when you were thinking everything was OK, before he settles down and closes out. Slightly worse than that is the kind where he has a two or three-run cushion, but instantly gives up a couple of singles, as if he wanted to spot the team a baserunner or two, to bring the tying run to the plate–giving you that hand-shaking, why can’t he ever just make this easy? anxiety before he sets down the side with relative ease. Slightly worse than that is the kind where he allows a couple of baserunners, but does so in 25-30 pitches, always getting ahead in the count, only to eventually fall to 3-2 and eventually let up a walk or freak single after what feels like a ten-minute at bat–giving you that pacing-around-the-room, is he finally going to collapse out there? terror, before he gets strike three swinging on the team’s best long-ball hitter for the third out.

But the worst one of all are the ones we’ve been lucky enough to only have three of all year–the Divine Intervention save. Those are the ones where, barring an act of God, there is no way that Lidge should be able to walk out with his streak unfettered–the ones where you’re watching with your head in your hands, thinking This is it. This is the one he doesn’t get himself out of. We had one in Atlanta, when Lidge, up two, allowed runners on second and third and let up a two-out single to Yunel Escobar, which scored one and should’ve scored a game-tying second run, except for Shane Victorino’s canon of an arm, which sailed perfectly into the glove of catcher Chris Coste, who applied the tag on runner Greg Norton a milli-second in time to get the out and win the game. We had another in St. Lous, when again up two, Lidge led off the inning by allowing a solo shot to Troy Glaus, then proceeded to load the bases while acquiring just one out. But then he got a couple of rookies swinging, and again, he was out of it.

Even remebering these instances, I was pretty sure today was going to be the end of it all. It was just too perfect–40 out of 40, comes into the game with a two-run lead facing the ass-end of the worst team in the league’s lineup, three outs between the Phils and the playoffs–if he had to blow one to confirm his rep as a choke artist, and give Mets fans something to shove in our faces for years to come, this’d be pretty hard to beat. And as the baserunners started to trickle in–base hit to Roger Bernadinha, walk to Ryan Langerhans (seriously?), bloop RBI single to Anderson Hernandez, bases-loading single to Christian Guzman–it felt like some sort of higher power had finally called in Lidge’s karmic tab. But then, ground ball up the middle, and some seriously praise worthy defense from your double play team, and somehow, he gets out of it. And no matter what kind of shit he’s put himself in all year–and he’s nearly always put himself in some kind of shit–the one consistent of Lidge’s performances is that he gets out of it. Killer instinct, baseball intuition, or just blind fucking luck–it’s kind of hard to argue against him as the team’s MVP regardless.

So now we play the waiting game, as the Brewers and Mets try to take care of business tomorrow night, to find out if the Phils face the Dodgers or the Brew Crew in next week’s NLDS (in all honesty, I’m actually rooting for the Mets here–not only because I’d rather face the Dodgers in the division series, but the prospect of a Mets-Phils NLCS would be hotter than an NC-17 rated Vicky Cristina Barcelona). And now that I can stop panicking about not getting into the regular season, it’s almost novel to think–hey, maybe we can actually win a couple post-season games this time? But even if the post-season brings nothing but sorrow, to have your favorite starting pitcher clinch the division over your much-hated rival on the last weekend of the season for the second year in a row…well, it’s still hard to ask for too much more.

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Red Letter Day / Clap Clap ClapClapClap: Big Move for the Sixers

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 9, 2008

It is a new era

Sure to be the kickoff to a hopefully very busy off-season, the Philadelphia 76ers made a big team decision today. It was one that’s been rumored for a while now, especially recently, when it was confirmed by the front office. To say it has the potential to turn the team’s fortunes is probably a huge understatement, and it’s a move that, needless to say, has not gone without at least a little bit of controversy. Ultimately, it’s entirely likely that this will be the move that goes on to define the tenure of the Sixers’ relatively newly acquired GM Ed Stefanski, and if it doesn’t pay off, it could easily end up as a regular fixture on the always-increasing list of Phamous Philly Phuck-Ups.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen–the Philadelphia 76ers have traded Calvin Booth.

Booth goes, along with second-year reserve forward Rodney Carney and a draft pick received from the Jazz in last year’s Kyle Korver trade, up north to the Minnesota Timberwolves, in return for a second-round pick and some considerations that end up giving the Sixers some cap space. Many, including IITS reader and fellow Philly sports prognosticator Jason L, assumed that all the cap space the Sixers had been clearing had been for the express purpose of signing Booth to a maxed-out contract, but apparently the Sixers vision of the future was a Boothless one, and instead the magic man will be spending the ’08-’09 season sharing backcourt space with the emerging dynamic duo of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, among others.
Last year, the perennial all-NBA Goofy Back-Up Big put up typically solid numbers up in his first year for the Sixers–.8 PPG, 1.2 RPG, and nearly a whole block per game, all while shooting 33% from the field. But as always with Booth, the numbers can’t possibly tell the whole story. The leadershp and experience he provided as one of the few vets on an all-rookie team was positively invaluable, and his gangly manner and warped visage quickly made him a fan favorite. Sixers manager Mo Cheeks deservedly took a lot of heat during the Pistons playoff series for not playing Booth, infamously opting for unreliable, non-road tested youngsters like Thaddeus Young and Jason Smith over the proven playoff numbers (Four points and four rebounds per game for the Wizards in the ’07 post-season!) of Calvin.

So what now for the Sixers? Well, I guess Andre Miller officially becomes the grizzled, patronizing on-court leader, and at least there’s still the Sixers’ own Snidely Whiplash, Kevin Ollie, warming the bench. Oh, and supposedly they signed some old-ish dude from the Clippers too to maybe help fill the gap a little, but I don’t even remember seeing him play last year, and if he was on the Clippers, how good could he possibly be, right? Poor compensation for the loss of one of Philadelphia sports’ all-time favorite sons, in any event.

Farewell, sweet prince.

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Red Letter Day: Pixies and Weezer on Rock Band

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 24, 2008

How’s this for arts and crafts?

Yeah, I know, it’s pretty boring to make a big deal when something new gets released to Rock Band, considering something new comes out every week and it’s probably irrelevant to anyone reading that doesn’t own the game (although I would like to think that at least a healthy chunk of my readers would have enough sense to get it by now). Still, this is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time–the full-album release of The Pixies’ 1989 alt-rock landmark, Doolittle. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Rock Band deities decided to throw in a couple songs off Weezer’s Red to boot. So it’ll give me an excuse to talk about both bands a little, if nothing else.

I always thought there was a kinship of sorts between these two bands. Nirvana gets the most credit for successfully ripping off The Pixies (by their own admission, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a rip-off of Trompe Le Monde‘s “U-Mass,” so much that they almost discarded the song entirely), and they’re certainly far from the only other band to have done so, but for my money, it’s Weezer that really continued The Pixies’ good works after the latter band’s dissolution in the early 90s. Doolittle is the album where the connection is most pronounced. There’s the obvious stuff–the shiny guitar sound, the loping bass lines, the loud/quiet dynamic switches, the way that the hooks are equally constructed around all four mumbers. Listen a bunch of times, though and all sorts of additional small moments of musical foreshadowing start to emerge–the roots of “Only in Dreams” in the bass line to “I Bleed,” the oceanic oblivion of “Surf Wax America” in the lyrics to “Wave of Mutilation,” and the twangy riffage of “Say It Ain’t So” in the hook to “Hey!”

But what links the bands more than these little creative tics are the way both feel. Much is made of what a violent album Doolittle is–the mortality chic in “Dead,” the casual firepower on display in “There Goes My Gun,” and of course the ocular carvings in “Debaser,” among countless other examples–but unlike Nirvana, The Pixies never seemed to be particularly angry. In fact, it sounds like the band is having a blast, playing it loose and willing to throw whatever against the wall to see what sticks. Kim singing a Spaghetti Western ballad? Sure. Letting the drummer bust out his inner Dean Martin? Why not? Goofy mid-song interjections? Tempo changes? Ending the album with your most propulsive song? All good ideas.

It’s an attitude that Weezer would mostly take to heart in their first couple albums, and has thankfully started to do far more of again recently. If The Pixies had stayed around a little longer, I don’t doubt that Frank Black’s goofier ambitions would have eventually steered him in the direction of songs like “Dreamin'” and “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived,” two of the three songs from Red included in this week’s downloadable content and my personal two favorite songs off the album. This was the problem that I and many others had with Green, which I’ve since come around to but still find it difficult to compare with Weezer’s other work–not only did it feel like the band wasn’t the same group of loveable emo nerds that bared it all, sometimes uncomfortably but always anthemically, in songs like “In the Garage” and “Butterfly,” but it didn’t feel like the same band that goofed off in songs like “Undone” and “El Scorcho.” It didn’t seem like they were having fun anymore. Rivers has since gone completely insane, of course, but he seems like he’s enjoying himself in his lunacy, at least.

Doolittle isn’t my favorite Pixies album–Surfer Rosa was my first love of theirs, Bossanova I feel is their most misunderstood, and Trompe Le Monde is probably the one I ultimately dig the most. But it is their truest classic, in the conventional sense, and not undeservedly so. It’s got the hits, for one, with “Wave of Mutilation,” “Debaser,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Hey!” and “Gouge Away” all ranking among the band’s most well-loved songs. And it just feels like the band’s biggest record, in sound and stature–credit producer Gil Norton for honing in on the band’s unbelievable pop potential without costing them too much of their edge, and creating what for many is probably the definitive college rock album, if such a genre even exists. And besides, deciding between Pixies albums has about as much potential for downside as the Bulls have in choosing between Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley.

A combined 18 great songs out there today–well, maybe only 17, since I think “Crackity Jones” and “Mr. Grieves” only add up to about one great song–repping for two of the best and most enjoybale bands in the history of alternative rock. You’d be foolish not to find a friend with a copy and persuade him or her to shell out about $20 for the chance to re-enact ’em. Sing with me now! “Got me a movie, oh ho ho ho…

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