Search This Blog

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hell on Wheels Announcement

If anyone made it all the way to the end of the Banshee's interminably long Fall TV Review, you would have seen that Hell on Wheels was my favorite new show of the season.  The main downside to the show is that AMC does not have the full season available online.  They had to be purchased through iTunes. UNTIL NOW!

If you were contemplating catching up with the series, get up right now.  Grab your DVR remote, and get ready.  AMC is presenting a Hell on Wheels marathon on New Years Day.  The marathon begins at 3:00 p.m. EST.  It ends with a new episode airing at 10:00 p.m. EST.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cooking With Banshee: Pomegranate Margarita

It's almost New Year's Eve. A perfect opportunity to break out a new drink. This recipe makes one drink. These pomegranate margaritas are very sweet and not too strong.

Pomegranate Margarita

1.5 oz Cuervo Gold tequila
3 oz pre-made margarita mix
2 oz pomegranate juice
Splash of lime juice

Fill a salt-rimmed tumbler with ice. Put ice in a shaker. Pour the ingredients into the shaker and shake them up. Strain into the tumbler. 01 09 10

Sunday, December 25, 2011

College Football Playoffs: Semi-Finals

The semi-finals of the Banshee Sports College Football Playoffs gave us two dream match-ups.  The match-ups that BCS-bashers have been begging for.  Oklahoma State played Alabama.  Oregon played LSU.  These games were played at neutral sites selected in geographically neutral locations.  And boy did the SEC teams miss the home cooking.

Oklahoma State 31, Alabama 24.  This game was played in Houston at Reliant Stadium.  This was a see-saw battle all game long.  There were six lead changes.  Alabama's run defense was stifling in this game.  The Tide held the Cowboys to -8 yards on the ground.  But, the Cowboy defense stood tall when they needed to, too.  The game was tied 24-24 with 1:40 to go when Alabama intercepted a pass and ran it back to the OSU 40 yard-line.  Then the Cowboys sacked McCarron on three consecutive plays to force a punt.  The Cowboys got the ball back on their own 27 yard-line with just over a minute to play.  Weeden completed a long pass to the Alabama 1 yard-line with only 20 seconds remaining.  Moore scored a rushing touchdown from there to give the Cowboys the lead with virtually no time left on the clock.

Oregon 43, LSU 36.  This game was played at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.  This game was decided by two players.  For LSU, Jordan Jefferson played like the girl with a curl.  When he was good, he was very good.  But when he was bad, he was horrid.  Jefferson threw five touchdown passes in the game.  But he balanced that out by throwing three interceptions.  Two of those were returned for touchdowns.  The player of the game for the Ducks was Rob Beard, the place kicker.  Beard was 5-5 in the game, including one from 52 yards.  The Tigers scored late to pull within a touchdown, but the Ducks were able to hold on for the biggest upset of the tournament.

Championship.  The championship game will be played in the afternoon on New Year's Eve at the venerable Rose Bowl.  This seemed like an appropriate setting.  It has history.  It has a mild climate.  And, it's geographically appropriate for these two teams.  The Cowboys will be considered the home team by virtue of their higher seeding.  That only matters for purposes of uniform selection.  Fortunately, the Ducks have an extensive wardrobe to choose from.  Check back in 2012 to get the results.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fall TV Review

One of my favorite things about Bill Simmons is that he spends equal amounts of time discussing TV and movies as he does discussing sports.  And, it was thanks to Bill Simmons that I discovered the wonders of Friday Night Lights.  So, when I started mulling over the idea of getting this blog going again, I decided that I would make a concerted effort to check out as many new shows this fall as I realistically could.  Here is a list of what I checked out and a brief review.

Revenge.  ABC.  Wednesdays at 10:00.  As an avid ESPN viewer, I was inundated with ads for this show as the summer came to a close.  And, I was pretty excited for it.  After all, it involved beautiful, rich people and crime.  However, I found it utterly unwatchable.  I am, by no means, an artistic snob when it comes to entertainment.  But, I found the dialogue and acting to be atrocious.  I appear to be alone, though.  Ratings have been solid, and it appears that Revenge will stick around for the spring.

Once Upon a Time.  ABC.  Sundays at 8:00.  I stuck with this show for a couple of episodes, but it is no longer on my DVR list.  Why?  Well, I'm not altogether sure why.  It's a fantasy done with a TV budget, so the special affects leave something to be desired.  And, as bad as this may sound, it wasn't violent enough for me.  It fell somewhere in between "fun and light" and "action-packed."  I might have quit on this show too early, though.  People that I like, do like this show.  It also appears that Once Upon a Time is getting solid ratings.

Grimm.  NBC.  Fridays at 9:00.  This show reminded me a little of the Twilight series.  It doesn't involve teenagers falling hopelessly in love with ancient vampires.  But, it does involve other-worldly creatures that are part of modern day America.  The lead character is a police officer in a small town.  So, this show also has a little bit of Fringe to it as he investigates crime with supernatural aspects.  The writing is not as crisp as Fringe, so I cut it from my DVR list after a few episodes.  But it is easier to follow than Fringe.  Perhaps that's why Grimm is likely getting renewed while Fringe is on the chopping block.

Prime Suspect.  NBC.  Thursdays at 10:00.  I was very excited for this show to debut.  NBC is good at gritty crime dramas.  The lead character was hard to like in the first couple of episodes.  But, that was sort of the point.  You had to stick with this to get to know and like the rough-around-the-edges female lead.  Unfortunately, it appears that not enough people were prepared to invest in the show the way that I did.  I love the show, but word is that Prime Suspects days are numbered.

Terra Nova.  FOX.  Mondays at 8:00.  I wanted to like this show inthe worst way ... mainly because of the cast.  I loved Jason O'Mara in Life on Mars.  The premise is cool.  And Spielberg is an executive producer.  If you were looking for Jurassic Park, you'll be disappointed.  But, if you liked Avatar then you'll be more than satisfied.  The problem for me is that Terra Nova's time slot conflicts with Monday Night Football in the fall and Big Monday in the winter.  And there just wasn't enough space on the DVR to continue with this show.  FOX hasn't decided if it will continue with Terra Nova, either.

A Gifted Man.  CBS.  Fridays at 8:00.  I could barely make it through the pilot episode of this show.  I thought it was just boring and badly acted.  Apparently, the viewing public agreed with me.  A Gifted Man has almost no chance of a renewal.

Playboy Club.  NBC.  Cancelled.  Apparently, the recurring theme here is that NBC execs and I do not have similar tastes.  The costumes were glamourous.  The sets were slick.  The music was fantastic.  And the plot was centered around corruption and organized crime in Chicago.  What's not to like?  I have to wonder if this show had been on AMC if it would have been more successful.

Pan Am.  ABC.  Cancelled.  I like this show a lot.  The story lines are not believable.  And the characters are a bit cliched.  But, it is just fun.  It looks cool.  The Pan Am girls are pleasant and nice.  The costumes are pretty.  And the settings are exotic and romantic.  Despite what I said about Once Upon a Time needing more violence, this show is fun because it is so light and mindless.  I was hopeful that this show would at least get to stick around for the spring, but that apparently is not to be.

Person of Interest.  CBS.  Thursdays at 9:00.  All right, I'll be honest.  I would watch Jim Caviezel eat cereal for an hour each week.  But, this is a good show.  The premise is unique, and Caviezel's character is super cool.  Each episode stands alone, but the ongoing story line is also interesting.  And the best part is that this show is coming back for another season. If you have some spare time over the holidays, I'd recommend catching up on the past episodes online so you are ready to watch this show in the winter.

Hell on Wheels.  AMC.  Sundays at 10:00.  I was a latecomer to this show.  But, this is the best new show I saw this fall.  This is a western set shortly after the Civil War.  The plot revolves around the construction of the railroad across the continent.  In a way, it's not fair to compare an AMC production to the network programming I discussed above.  But the production value and the acting in this show blows away the rest of this competition.  It is not family programming, though.  It is violent and gritty.  Another benefit of being on a cable channel.  Unlike the networks, AMC doesn't provide many full episodes on its website.  So, if you want to get aboard this train, the best way is to download episodes from iTunes.  That's not free.  But, I thought it was money well-spent.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Banshee Sports College Football Playoffs: Round 2

After a couple upsets in Round 1 of the Banshee Sports College Football Playoffs, Round 2 went according to script.  This round was once again played at the home field of the higher seeded team.  The home field advantage proved to be too much to overcome.  All the higher seeds advanced.  But, the second round ends the home cooking.  Next week's games will be played at neutral sites.

Oklahoma State 48, Georgia 42.  This game was the first game on the schedule.  It turned out to be the best game of the day.  Georgia's defense played very well for three quarters.  And Oklahoma State played absolutely no defense for three quarters.  Georgia led 42-21 at the end of the third.  It appeared that the Bulldogs Cinderella run was going to continue another week.  And then the roles reversed.  The Cowboys came storming back to tie the game with 46 seconds to go.  Neither team scored on their first possession of overtime.  The Bulldogs scored a field goal on their second possession.  The Cowboys answered with a touchdown pass to win 45-48 in 2OT.

Oregon 55, Clemson 7.  For a moment, this looked like it would be a game.  But, it was a brief moment.  Clemson scored first when they intercepted an option pitch and ran it in for a defensive touchdown.  And then the beat down began.  Oregon's defense had five takeaways in the first half.  That propelled the Ducks to a 31-7 lead at the half.  The second half was more of the same.  The Ducks defense picked Taj Boyd off five times.  Darron Thomas played a great game.  He ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more.

Alabama 34, Arkansas 26.  This game was a rematch of the conference game played on September 24.  The Hogs put up a better fight this time.  The Hogs were able to throw the ball enough to hang close throughout.  Arkansas scored on a 76 yard touchdown pass with 1:46 to go to make the score 31-26.  Alabama then recovered the onside kick and tacked on a field goal to make the final score 34-26.  The Crimson Tide gave up some points in the air, but they held Arkansas to a total of just 7 yards rushing in the game.

LSU 48, Boise State 19.  There is not a lot to say about this game.  LSU led 14-3 after the first quarter and continued with a methodical beating.  LSU moved the ball at will on the ground and through the air.  And LSU's defense was stifling while the game was still in doubt.  The score was 35-12 at the half.  Jordan Jefferson played a magnificent game.  He was 13-14 for 218 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Banshee Sports College Football Playoffs: Round 1

The first round is in the books.  The first round games were all played at the home fields of the higher seed.  That was done for ticket and travel purposes of filling the virtual stadiums.  I assigned game times for each game, and they were all simulated in the real life weather conditions.  Without further delay, here are the first round results ...

LSU 51, WVU 24.  This game was a rematch from an early season matchup in Morgantown.  LSU's defense was the story of this game.  The Tigers held the Mountaineers to just five yards on the ground.  Jordan Jefferson passed for four touchdown passes in the route.

Boise State 28, South Carolina 21.  The weather was surprisingly mild for December in Boise, ID.  The Broncos were sharp early and opened a 28-6 lead at the half.  South Carolina managed a comeback in the second half, but Boise was able to hold on for a seven-point victory.

Oregon 24, Michigan 6.  Michigan played surprisingly good defense in this game.  The Ducks powerful offense was, for the most part, held in check.  But Michigan was absolutely awful on offense.  The Wolverines only mustered two field goals in the second quarter.  That was it.  And Denard Robinson was picked off four times.  That killed any Michigan hopes of hanging with the Ducks.

Clemson 21, Stanford 15.  The first upset of the tournament happened in Palo Alto.  This was a weird game.  The teams combined to miss three extra points and failed to convert on another two-point conversion.  But, the story of the game was that the Tigers defense stuffed Andrew Luck and the Stanford offense.

Alabama 55, Virginia Tech 17.  Believe it or not, this was actually competitive into the second half.  The Hokie defense scored on a pick six at the end of the first half.  The Hokies then intercepted a pass to start the second half and scored on a short field to make the score 24-17.  Then the Crimson Tidal wave happened.  The Hokies finished with six turnovers, and the game ended in a route.

Arkansas 37, Michigan State 24.  Michigan State had enough offense to hang with the Hogs.  But, in the end, the Arkansas ground game was just too much.  Knile Davis ended up with 218 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Oklahoma State 34, Kansas State 24.  This game was the second rematch of the first round.  At the end of October, OK State won a 52-45 shootout.  This time, the teams decided to play at least a semblance of defense.  However, Kansas State could not overcome their own miscues.  Five total turnovers by the Wildcats erased any hopes of an upset in Stillwater.

Georgia 35, Wisconsin 33.  This was the only game of the weekend where weather was even a slight factor.  The temperature was in the 20s, and there was a bit of wind in Madison.  Georgia's defense and Aaron Murray's four touchdown passes were the story of this game.  Wisconsin did run for over 300 yards, but the Bulldogs held the Badgers to field goals on three of four redzone trips.  The Badgers did have the ball with 1:00 to go and Georgia's defense stepped up to hold onto the win.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cooking with Banshee: Banshee Collins

It's that time of year ... when the world falls in love.  It's also the time of year for parties.  And good cocktails make for good parties.  This is not my favorite drink of all time.  But, it is simple and easy.  And if you're not the type of person who usually keeps a fully stocked bar, it only requires a few ingredients.  Vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup (which is simple to make), Sprite and ice.

Banshee's Vodka Collins

Make this in a 16 oz glass.  Fill the cup 2/3 of the way with ice.  Combine the following ingredients in a shaker with ice:

1. 3 oz vodka (doesn't need to be top shelf, but it should not come in a plastic bottle, either.
2.  1 1/2 oz lemon juice.
3.  3/4 oz simple syrup (I make mine half sugar and half water)

Shake those up and pour into ice-filled glass.  Top with Sprite.  Here's a tip ... don't put too much ice in the glass.  Contrary to initial impressions, extra ice will make a stronger drink.  The more ice you have, the less room there is for Sprite.  That ends up with proportionally more vodka in the equation.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

College Football Playoffs

While the rest of the sports world was debating over the BCS snub of Boise State from the Sugar Bowl and the proper bowl placement of Virginia Tech, the Banshee Sports selection committee was working diligently to put together a tournament bracket to settle matters on the field.

The Committee was asked to rank the teams 1 through 16.  The only requirement was that the champions of the power six conferences had to be included in the sixteen team field.  Nineteen different teams received votes to be included in the field.  After recieving all the ballots, I added up the scores and seeded the teams accordingly.

And with that, I present the brackets ...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

College Football Playoffs

The BCS has announced their final regular season rankings. The Arbitrary ... I mean Allstate BCS National Championship game will feature a re-match between LSU and Alabama. Are these the best two teams in the country? Yeah, probably. Is a BCS rematch five weeks from now a satisfying ending to a great season? Not really, no.

Enter the Banshee Blog!

Banshee Blog, with the help of EA Sports NCAA '12, is about to put together a 16-team playoff. Here is how it will work. The champions of the power six conferences automatically qualify for the tournament. That is regardless of the method those conferences use to choose their champions. Here is the list of automatic qualifiers:

ACC: Clemson
Big East: West Virginia
Big Ten: Wisconsin
Big 12: Oklahoma St.
PAC 12: Oregon

The remaining ten teams for the tournament will be selected by the Banshee Selection Committee. All sixteen teams will be seeded by the selection committee, regardless of automatic qualifying status. For example, neither Alabama or Stanford got an automatic bid, but they could still be seeded #2 and #3 in the tournament.

The brackets will be announced mid-week. The games will begin on Saturday. The first two rounds of the tournament will be "played" at the home field of the higher seeds. The semi-finals and finals will be played at neutral sites. All games will be simulated by EA Sports NCAA Football 2012.  The results will be reported each week with an updated bracket.  This is certainly not an entirely novel idea, but it should be fun. 

If you want to be part of the selection committee or know someone who you think should be included, please email ASAP.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Brian's Song

Forty years ago this week, ABC aired the made-for-TV movie, Brian's Song for the first time.  The movie is about the friendship of Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, two young running backs who joined the Chicago Bears as rookies in 1965.  In the first few moments of the film, the narrator proclaims, "All true stories end in death.  This is a true story."  If you are reading this blog, you probably already know enough about NFL history to know which character dies.

Prior to tonight, I'd never seen the film.  But, after hearing Mike Wilbon say yesterday on PTI that Brian's Song is the greatest sports movie of all time, I decided that the anniversary was a perfect time for me to watch it.  Earlier in the day, I told a group of co-workers that I was going to be watching the movie tonight.  The two who were old enough to remember the release of the film got misty-eyed and nostalgic.  Part way through the movie, my father called.  When I told him what I was watching, he said, "That is a great movie."

Well, from an artistic point of view Brian's Song is not a great movie.  It is certainly not the greatest sports movie ever made.  After all, it was made for TV.  On a network budget with a network timeline.  Forty years ago.  But, all that is if you are analyzing the movie in a vacuum.  And that is not the proper way to analyze this film.  Brian's Song first aired in the fall of 1971.  The movie dealt with a friendship between two men.  One black.  One white.  It dealt with cancer in an era when there were few realistic treatments.  And it dealt with men openly showing affection and emotion toward each other.  And all of these things happened in the living rooms of middle America when families gathered on a Tuesday night for the ABC Movie of the Week.  At my age and from 2011, it's hard to fully appreciate the importance of any of this.  In fact, I didn't really understand the cultural impact of Brian's Song until I read this article by Steve Rushin on

So, if you haven't seen Brian's Song, I'm not going to tell you to drop everything and see it immediately.  I will not even guarantee that it will be compelling to a modern-day viewer who is seeing it for the first time.  But, if the movie is viewed as a slice of history and thought about in the proper context, the 90-minute investment of time is well worth the while.