September 26, 2013


Yesterday, Nothing Has Changed recorded its 1000th page view.  I started the blog on July 10, 2013 and this is the first of many milestones I hope to celebrate.  So far there have been around 40 entries; I started off with music reviews and branched out into writing about sports, manga, and TV.  I do intend to return to music reviews, though I think I'll be doing the majority of them for Metal Bandcamp.

I want to give a sincere thank you to all the viewers of the blog, especially those of you outside the US.  There have been a number of countries that have viewed the blog extensively through the last couple of months that it's been online.  I appreciate it.

The Bridge (US) - Episode 12 "All About Eva" Recap

The penultimate episode of The Bridge's first season has aired, so let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

Bleach 550 - Blazing Bullets

The newest chapter of Bleach is out.  So let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

September 24, 2013

2013 NFL Power Rankings, Week 3

Week 3 was fairly unpredictable.  As usual, I try to forecast the results (straight up) for each game each week.  I was 9-7 this week, which is one game over .500, and thus inexcusably terrible.  The monkeys writing Shakespeare would laugh me out of the building.  There were some matchups where I just couldn't pick the winning team, though.  Last year, I got burned on a Thursday by Carolina when I picked them to beat the Giants.  This year, they played on Sunday and it turned quickly into a laughable rout for the Panthers.  Didn't see that coming.

Anyway, there now appear to be two great teams, one in the NFC, one in the AFC.  Seattle looks to be unbeatable at home.  How they handle their road schedule will determine how real they are.  Denver looks like they can beat anyone, anywhere, at any time.  Peyton Manning's numbers are unreal so far and he's just starting to play well through the entire game.

If you notice, two teams have left the Rankings this week.  They are the disappointing San Francisco 49ers, and the equally disappointing but much luckier Houston Texans (who damn well ought to be 0-3).  Both teams looked lifeless yesterday and lost rather convincingly.  The teams that replace them are Baltimore and Dallas.  I also considered Tennessee and Detroit for the last spot.  Dallas leads a division (granted, the worst division since the good ol' days of the NFC West not that long ago) and that was enough to give them an edge over the other two.  Honestly, I don't think Dallas, Detroit, or Tennessee will finish the year in the top 10.  So in that sense, it's kind of cosmetic.

Here are the Rankings for Week 3:

1.) Denver (3-0) [no change]
 Let's dismiss whatever outlandish stats Peyton Manning is on pace to pile up. The likelihood is that he won't do it, just based on history.  At some point, the Broncos will slow down.  Whether that's in Week 13, Week 15, whatever, it will eventually happen because they'll have nothing more to prove and head coach John Fox is probably tired of all this passing anyway.  I mostly kid about that.  But if this team starts out 12-0 or better, they'll eventually start resting players.  We've seen it before and we'll see it again, most likely.

2.) New Orleans (3-0) [no change]
 It looked like Drew Brees was having trouble at points in that game against Arizona.  Yet the score and his stats indicate that it wasn't much trouble. Certainly, it helps to have TE Jimmy Graham on the field and in a contract push.  Next Monday's game against the Dolphins ought to be one of the best of the young season and will have an impact on each team going forward, I think.  So far, the AFC has a commanding lead on the supposedly better NFC.

3.) New England (3-0) [no change]
 Again, not a pretty game for Tom Brady and his mostly young receivers.  But they came out of it with a 23-3 win and made Tampa Bay look foolish.  With the Dolphins 3-0 at the same time, there's no chance to rest on their laurels. They have to get better and do it fast.  I suppose the receivers are moving apace, but Dobson's continued drops have to be a concern.  Still, at 3-0, they're one of a slight few that doesn't have much to worry about.

4.) Seattle (3-0) [no change]
 To be fair, putting up 45 on the Jaguars is not a huge accomplishment.  What it indicates is that this is a Seahawks team that doesn't back down, even when a patsy is coming to town.  They're not looking ahead to the next week or next month, they're going to put a beatdown on the patsy and then move on to the next opponent.  After a shaky first week, the Seahawks have had two home games with excellent results.  Thus, they look like the best team in the NFC.  Speaking of which, the NFC is top-heavy at the moment, with the division leaders (Seattle being the best of them right now) looking like the only teams worth a damn.  And speaking of Seattle's division, the rest of it looks pretty stinky at the moment after being highly lauded as the best in the league over the summer.  Just goes to show you that when the games start, things change quickly and none of the offseason bullshit means a goddamn thing.

5.) Chicago (3-0) [no change]
 I doubt I'll ever be sold on the Bears while Jay Cutler remains the QB.  That trend continued through last night and probably through the rest of this season as well.  He started out fine, but then had some trouble with clock management on the first drive.  And really, he didn't play that well overall, nor was he consistent.  But he did make the necessary plays and took advantage of gifts from the Steelers.  The Bears D is solid and uses the one thing it can, forcing turnovers, to its benefit, scoring when the offense can't.  Defense appears to be legislated out of the league, yet when teams can force turnovers and turn them into touchdowns, it's a boon all around.

6.) Kansas City (3-0) [no change]
 Depending on who you ask, the Chiefs are either the least impressive 3-0 team or second least.  In a QB-driven league, having a QB that can't (or won't) throw it more than five yards downfield is a problem.  KC's defense is very good through three games, but if Alex Smith and the offense start sputtering for any length of time, they're going to get tired out and become less effective.  I don't trust Alex Smith's ability to lead long drives consistently, because he refuses to take shots down the field.  Not only that, it is a very tiresome offense to watch, because it's so boring.  People will cite statistics that tell you Smith is a "good" QB.  As usual, this is an example of statistics being used to hustle people.  Watch how he plays and then tell me how great he supposedly is.  Even with Aaron Rodgers at 1-2, I'm willing to bet 99% of football fans would take him on their team over Alex Smith.

7.) Indianapolis (2-1) [no change]
 I think the most surprising result of the week was Indy going to SF and laying the smack down for 60 minutes.  Most of us (i.e. everyone not living in Indiana) expected the 49ers to bounce back and show some fire as they got back into the division race.  Instead, they were derailed by Andrew Luck and his questionable group of weapons.  Clearly, they do not possess the best team in the AFC, or even their division.  But they outplayed the 49ers from the opening whistle and looked really good doing it.  Will they win the AFC South?  Probably not, but I'll be rooting for them to do it.  I don't think Tennessee is for real and the Texans looked like a joke in Baltimore, but they might start pulling it together soon, to my chagrin.

8.) Miami (3-0) [+1]
 Apparently, Ryan Tannehill is one of the young QB's proving to be quite good if not great.  I am skeptical at best.  Sure, they beat an Atlanta team that was moving the ball up and down the field at will.  They've also beaten Cleveland and Indianapolis on the road.  So their resume isn't bad, by any means.  I just don't think that Tannehill has the stuff to be a great QB just yet (if ever).  Maybe he'll prove me wrong.  But until they beat the Patriots, everything with the Dolphins is really just conjecture.  In order to win the AFC East, they have to beat the Patriots.

9.) Baltimore (2-1) [-]
 They just might have exposed the Texans on Sunday.  But it's not like Baltimore is playing perfect football, either.  Their offense still has a ways to go before I can consider it to be anything more than adequate.  In fact, for much of this young season, it's been quite inadequate.  They can't run the ball, either with Ray Rice or without him, and Joe Flacco is having to throw the ball far too much.  I'm not a huge proponent of the running game, but it's necessary to keep the QB from getting killed or having his arm fall off from overuse.  I've never been all that high on Flacco and think the Ravens are getting the just desserts from being "forced" to pay him all that money after winning the Super Bowl.  Face it, Flacco isn't that great, he just rose to the moment like Eli Manning (although Flacco was considerably less lucky).

10.) Dallas (2-1) [-]
 Despite leading the NFC East, I think I have the least faith in the Cowboys of these ten.  They played well against the Rams after coughing it up late last week against the Chiefs.  But I think teams with tough defenses (like the one in KC) won't have much of a problem forcing Romo into costly mistakes that end up turning the result in their favor.  But right now, the offense and defense are clicking at the same time and Romo is receiving consistent protection from the O-line.  All they have to do is keep that up and keep the wins coming.

Three Games to Watch (Week 4):
Seattle @ Houston (FOX)
New England @ Atlanta (NBC)
Miami @ New Orleans (ESPN)

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

September 19, 2013

The Bridge (US) - Episode 11 "Take the Ride, Pay the Toll" Recap

The season finale of The Bridge is just a couple episodes away.  In Episode 11, a confrontation on the Bridge of the Americas goes a long way in determining what will happen the rest of the season.

Spoilers after the cut.

September 17, 2013

Bleach 549 - The StormBringer

The newest Bleach chapter has been released.  So let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

2013 NFL Power Rankings, Week 2

Already, a mere quarter of the teams in the NFL are undefeated.  There were some unfavorable matchups, of course, and those didn't go the way that one might have liked.  There were also a number of matchups betwen 1-0 teams that meant that one of the teams involved wasn't getting out without a loss. Thankfully, there were no ties, so nothing has been completely ruined just yet.

So far, there appears to be one great team, a few bad teams, and a whole bunch that could go either way.  It makes predicting the results difficult. While that's not what I do here, I do make straight up picks every week for every game.  I'm 20-12 after two weeks.  The proverbial monkeys writing Shakespeare could do better, so I'm not bragging.

At any rate, there was a lot of action to be had and much of it is pertinent here.  One note on the Monday night game that just occurred as I write this, though: people who were high on Cincinnati as a potential Super Bowl team, it might be a good time to take a step back.  Andy Dalton may eventually be the guy to lead the Bengals there, but it sure doesn't look like he'll do it in 2013.

Here are the Rankings for Week 2:

1.) Denver (2-0) [no change]
 Peyton Manning is an offensive machine.  He's now 3-0 against little bro Eli and would be the consensus pick for MVP...if anyone in their right mind is deciding such things already.  He's just starting to make his case, I get that. But if they finish like they've started, would anyone else even make sense?

2.) New Orleans (2-0) [no change]
 Sometimes, you just get lucky.  Drew Brees had not looked anywhere near his best through 59 minutes, including a weather delay that lasted over an hour. But when the time to win the game came around, he tossed a pinpoint pass to Colston and got the Saints in range for a game-winning FG.  Amazing, if it wasn't expected.  I'm not sure what the issue is when the team is outside, but it's something that should be corrected soon, given that the Super Bowl will be played in Jersey.  Of course, a lot can happen in the next couple of months, including the Saints getting knocked on their collective behinds.  But I suspect that they'll be up there among the contenders in the NFC.

3.) New England (2-0) [no change]
 Speaking of ugly wins, the Patriots had the ugliest.  Favored by two TD's, Tom Brady threw 13 completions to Julian Edelman and somehow made do with the rest of his receivers being what they are: untested rookies.  I hear that eventually, all of this experience will help the team round into form and be a juggernaut late in the season.  I'm not so confident about that.  What I like is that they're 2-0, with both victories against their weak division.  Let's see how Buffalo and Miami get on before saying that the AFC East is "improved" or other such.

4.) Seattle (2-0) [+2]
 Here's the problem with the perception that people are "doubting" a team like Seattle: they're on the West Coast, and thus have to travel more mileage than most, they put up 12 points against Carolina (seriously?), and only seem to show their true stuff at home. Unless they get home-field in the playoffs, I can't get that excited about Seattle as a true contender.  I'm probably guilty of "doubting" them as well, but as usual, I remain unrepentant about it.  Am I being an idiot?  Then prove me wrong.  So far, they have one questionable win, and one possibly great win (with the caveat that it was at home with their ridiculous enhanced crowd noise stadium design).

5.) Chicago (2-0) [+2]
 Given the erratic play of QB Jay Cutler, I'm not sure what to think about the Bears.  They could well be 0-2 had Cincy or Minnesota actually been able to close the deal.  But because neither of those teams could play a full 60 minutes, Chicago had chances to win games and capitalized on them. They're obviously not in the company of Denver just yet, but they don't have to be. With a slight lead on Green Bay, all they really have to do is maintain. Maybe a split is all they'll need.  Probably better to take both if they can get 'em, though...who knows when they'll stop being lucky.

6.) Kansas City (2-0) [+3]
 Andy Reid is 2-0 in new digs.  He and the Chiefs go to Philly on Thursday to see which team is better in Week 3.  My money would go on the Chiefs, given just how bad Philly's defense appears to be.  I can't really say that I'm "surprised" that the Chiefs are 2-0.  I mean, once they brought in Reid and QB Alex Smith, it seemed natural that they'd start out strong.  How will they finish?  Well, that's another story.  I figured the AFC West wouldn't be terribly strong, but I've been wrong about that to date.  The three teams other than Denver look solid.  Things are fluid, though.  So who's good today might not be good next week.  However, if the Chiefs start out 3-0, they'll be gaining notice.

7.) Indianapolis (1-1) [-3]
 A loss necessitates a drop in the Rankings.  So the Colts fall back just a bit. Not a terrible loss, by any means, but it could be a bit of foreshadowing.  My inclination is to say that Indy will be fine, that somehow QB Andrew Luck will get better protection and that Hilton and Fleener will make the necessary catches in close and late situations.  But there's a bit of doubt, I suppose. Then again, they haven't played a division game yet.

8.) San Francisco (1-1) [-3]
 Disappointing all around for the 49ers.  QB Colin Kaepernick had his worst game as a starter, with three INT's and a general inability to get anything done throwing the ball.  Seattle really made him look ordinary.  While he might have been exposed playing in that stadium, I highly doubt he'll look that bad for the rest of the season.  After all, the 49ers don't have to go there again, unless they meet Seattle in the playoffs and the Seahawks have home-field advantage.  As discussed above, I'm not terribly confident that that'll happen.  So it's a bad loss, but not one that will reverberate much.

9.) Miami (2-0) [-]
 One of the new entrants this week, Miami has now beaten Cleveland and Indianapolis.  A solid start for a team that people really didn't expect much out of.  WR Mike Wallace rebounded nicely.  I think there's a middle ground that he'll hit for the rest of the season: not as bad as the first game, but not quite as good as the second.  The defense seems solid, so the key for this team, like just about every other team in the league, is QB play.  I'm not sure if Ryan Tannehill can get it done for 16 games, but I've been wrong before.

10.) Houston (2-0) [-]
 Believe me, I'd much rather include a team that won but is 1-1, like Green Bay or Atlanta.  Houston has won both its games in fluke-y fashion and doesn't look anything like a contender.  However, they're 2-0, and one of only eight teams to be undefeated after a mere two weeks, so they're in for now. Having to go to overtime against Tennessee is unimpressive, even less so when one considers that the Titans were up 24-16 and had a 4th & 1 that they punted on to gift the Texans a chance to win.

Three Games to Watch (Week 3):
Houston @ Baltimore (CBS)
Atlanta @ Miami (FOX)
Indianapolis @ San Francisco (CBS)

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

September 12, 2013

September 10, 2013

Bleach 548 - The Thin Ice

The newest Bleach chapter has been released.  Let's talk about it!

Spoilers after the cut.

2013 NFL Power Rankings, Week 1

Welcome to the first edition of the Rankings.  I've been doing these for a few years now elsewhere, but with the start of this blog and the termination of user blogs elsewhere, I've decided to do them here from now on.

Week 1 of the NFL season is usually tough to parse out.  Drawing anything definite from it can be foolhardy.  Generally, my Rankings don't aspire to predict anything.  I don't know where these teams are going any more than any other writer that does these.  I just look at who performed the best and rank them accordingly.

That said, there was a lot of sloppy play.  A point was made by one of the various voices I heard on the weekend that this is what we get after four preseason games.  I'm not in favor of the preseason and I'm not sure it really makes that big of a difference.  There'll always be some rust in the first week of games.  Some teams just dug holes that were too big to climb out of.

Here are the Rankings for Week 1:

1.) Denver (1-0)
 Nobody else played better.  Peyton Manning had the strongest performance of the "elite" QB's and the defense held fairly strong in the second half.  Even without Von Miller, they were able to get pressure on Joe Flacco.  That said, I don't think Baltimore is in too precarious a position.  It looks like the Chiefs are the only serious competition for the Broncos.

2.) New Orleans (1-0)
 Sure, it was at home, but the Saints had one of the more impressive wins of the week.  They took out the Falcons right at the end by forcing an INT out of Matt Ryan.  Drew Brees looked as solid as usual while the defense held the Falcons to 17 points.  The NFC South should be quite competitive.

3.) San Francisco (1-0)
 Another good team, another home win.  The numbers might say otherwise, but based on the eye test, the 49ers defense made Aaron Rodgers look pretty bad.  Colin Kaepernick has started to prove that he's no fluke and doesn't require gimmicks to be a successful passer.  I'm not convinced he'll be a great QB just yet, but it is impossible to ignore the connection he and WR Anquan Boldin have made.  Any question about who Kaepernick is going to throw to seems to have been answered.

4.) New England (1-0)
 It was ugly, but somehow Tom Brady and the Patriots managed to beat the Bills.  I guess having to remake the offense on the fly will be a bit of trouble for the first couple weeks, at least until Gronkowski returns.  I'm not a huge fan of driving for a field goal to finish the game.  The Pats' kicker botched a couple of those last season as well, so my confidence wasn't all that high. Luckily, they pulled it out and start at the top.

5.) Indianapolis (1-0)
 One of the most cited stats of the weekend: in 17 starts, QB Andrew Luck has 8 4th quarter comebacks.  It came against the Raiders this time.  They weren't expected to do much besides fight for the #1 overall pick in the draft, but Terrelle Pryor played well enough that it might not happen.  While some viewers are down on the Colts, I think another playoff berth is likely, especially if Luck continues to produce in the clutch.

6.) Seattle (1-0)
 Russell Wilson and the Seahawks scored 12 points and won.  Woooooooo! I know, going across the country to play the early game (1PM eastern, 10AM pacific) is tough, but Seattle made it look even harder.  Carolina's offense might not be so hot, but their defense is for real.  Wilson and company have a tougher test in Week 2 as they take on the 49ers.  They'll be in Seattle for that game, so maybe we'll see a better performance.

7.) Chicago (1-0)
 It's not easy to play well on defense in the NFL.  One of the best ways to do so is to create turnovers.  The Bears have been excellent at this for years. Despite having trouble with Bengals WR A.J. Green, the defense was able to contribute by forcing Andy Dalton into mistakes.  The Bengals were the darling of most of the media, with prediction of making or winning the Super Bowl. Chicago definitely dropped them down a peg.  I'm still hesitant to get behind the Bears; I don't know much about new coach Trestman and have never been a fan of Jay Cutler.  If their defense keeps creating turnovers, they'll always have a chance.

8.) Detroit (1-0)
 It's hard to believe the Lions didn't give away that game.  Then again, considering who they were playing, it might not be a huge surprise.  Good QB play is the hallmark of today's NFL, where offense has been given various advantages over the defense.  I'm not convinced about Matt Stafford, but he's clearly better than Christian Ponder.  Ponder still doesn't look like he's ready for prime time, even with the best RB in the game behind him.  Stafford wasn't exactly error-free, but with Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush (who would have thought?) alongside him, he's got a chance to do some good things.

9.) Kansas City (1-0)
 I get the feeling that there are expectations in KC, even while various outlets are trying to temper them.  They have a new coach and QB and were on the road playing what has to be one of the worst teams in the league.  The fact that a beatdown resulted should really be no surprise.  The Chiefs were a team with talent, but they lacked the QB play necessary to make them good. Alex Smith is another guy I'm not entirely sold on, but he played well enough and has put down a template for success.  Still, it'd probably be better for him (not to mention his health) if there's more balance in the offense.

10.) Dallas (1-0)
 How hard is it to force six turnovers and barely win?  Apparently not very hard.  The Cowboys were 0-4 against the Giants at newly-christened AT&T Stadium before Sunday.  And despite forcing those turnovers and making Eli Manning look fairly bad for the balance, the offense mostly sputtered.  This has to improve if the Cowboys are going to be contenders.  Turnovers have to result in touchdowns.  The defense changed from 3-4 to 4-3 over the offseason as well.  I wasn't in favor of this change; it does nothing to address the real problem the Cowboys have.  Despite forcing all those turnovers, the defense wasn't that impressive.  When Eli got his legs under him, finally, he carved up the defense at will and did pretty much whatever he wanted.

Three Games to Watch (Week 2):
St. Louis @ Atlanta (FOX)
Denver @ NY Giants (CBS)
San Francisco @ Seattle (NBC)

That's all for this week.  See you next week.

September 5, 2013

The Bridge (US) - Episode 9 "The Beetle" Recap

Episode 9 of The Bridge really brought some interesting things to the table. So let's talk about it!

Spoilers ahead in 3...2...1...

September 4, 2013

Bleach 547 - Peace from Shadows

Bleach is back after a short hiatus.  Let's talk about it!

Massive spoilers after the cut.

September 3, 2013

NFL Season Starts on Thursday

The NFL season starts in two days; Baltimore heads to Denver in a rematch of last year's playoff game.

I think I'm going with the Broncos, but honestly, I'm not sure.

The first edition of the 2013 NFL Power Rankings runs next Tuesday.  Look for it if that kind of thing interests you.  My Rankings are descriptive rather than predictive, though, so don't expect them to tell you what's going to happen as the season moves forward.

I should be more excited.  But today hasn't been a particularly good one.

Enjoy the opening game and the rest of the Week 1 action.  I'll be watching the Red Zone channel Sunday for the first time in many a moon and attempting to enjoy myself as much as possible.