Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Today is a good day.
Those ever-lovable Kiwis, Flight of the Conchords, have a new season starting in January. Some of us have caught glimpses of them filming in the streets and pet shops of Brooklyn. Fortunately all you lucky fans can watch the premiere a month early thanks to Funny Or Die. There isn't much I can add about the Conchords that hasn't been said already, so I'm sure you're as excited as I am. I've even embedded the episode right here on the ever-lovable Better Chatter, because nobody likes unnecessary clicking.
P.S. There's a preview of HBO's new Will Ferrel / Danny McBride show East Bound and Down at the end. So you can get excited about that too.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
More importantly (for anyone reading this), hearing this song reminded me of the supremely entertaining and bizarre video for this song, which features a weird mix of Anime and Voltron-era animation. If you've never seen it, here you go...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Like many, my introduction to the Vaselines was Nirvana's cover of Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam. Listening to Kurt Cobain on that song struck a chord with my young, sad slacker heart. Jesus didn't want ME for a sunbeam either! It's a song about sadness but also about knowing whom you are where you stand. This is exactly what autumn is to me – the cold and dark days get me down but give me a chance to reflect and take stock of myself.
The Vaselines have an oeuvre of 19 songs that blended equal parts twee and punk and paved the way for fellow Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian as well as, of course, Nirvana. Their songs of gleeful kissing and social disillusionment never sounded incongruous no matter if they were strumming or shredding. Which makes sense why Cobain, who named his daughter Frances after their co-founder, and his ear for pop song structure couldn't get enough of them.
Luckily you can get their entire body of work on the extremely pleasing The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History, which, for $10, is worth investing in if you're looking for a delightful soundtrack to your autumn.
The Vaselines - Dying For It (mp3)
The Vaselines - Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam (mp3)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
With all of the election-related craziness I didn't really have time to consider how depressing it was to see Chauncey Billups, easily my favorite basketball player this decade (see this post from last year for some evidence), traded to the Denver Nuggets last week. Beyond his reputation for steadiness and excellence under pressure (and, of course, his brilliant name), Chauncey Billups just seemed like a fundamentally friendly and bright person, the sort of guy that no one had a bad thing to say about and that seemed to be "close, personal friends" with about three quarters of the league.
Michael Rosenberg, (via DBB) has a very revealing and sad story about the moments after the trade went down in the Detroit Free Press today, that serves as a great reminder of how nice it was to have a person like Billups leading the Pistons for the last six years. I'm actually not opposed to the trade taking place for lots of reasons (see TrueHoop for a nice breakdown), but as member of the sappier, "Field of Dreams" school of sports sentimentalists, it would be impossible to not feel, even two weeks later, a lot of sadness about seeing Billups go.
Here's my single favorite Billups-related moment, the buzzer-beater against the Nets in the 2004 NBA playoffs:
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Obama, who is not without an ego, regarded himself as just as gifted as his top strategists in the art and practice of politics. Patrick Gaspard, the campaign’s political director, said that when, in early 2007, he interviewed for a job with Obama and Plouffe, Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The postmodern reality-creation site Wikipedia has, for better or worse, eliminated the need for encyclopedias. Having instant access to information on virtually every movie, album, insect, philosophy, etc helps break down the limits of education. However, the fact that anyone can contribute occasionally makes the content little more than entertainment. But this is the beauty of the internet - anyone can write fiction. Josh shared a vandalized page about Count Chocula with me the other day that was way more interesting than any real information could've been. It reminded me of something I wrote a few years ago, my own constructed reality of a beloved childhood character. So instead of boring you with an argument for or against plentiful, but distorted knowledge, I'll leave you with my story. Because as a writer with a mischievous heart, sometimes I don't like to get my facts straight.
As a child, young Charles couldn't stay focused long enough to tie his shoes. He failed every class in elementary school except gym. He was the kid who pulled the fire alarm. The kid the entire class had to wait for as he finished his subtraction problems. The kid who threw spit balls. His father was a traveling cummerbund salesman and his mother seemed to hop on the back of any motorcycle driven by a mustachioed man with 'Shut Up Bitch' tattooed on his arm. By the time Charles was in high school, he wasn't running with a bad crowd - he was the bad crowd. If he decided to show up to school, he was usually on some sort of hallucinogen, barbiturate, or combination of the two. Escaping through drugs became an obsession for Charles. He would sit in his bedroom, trip or shroom, and imagine that his stuffed animals were playing the music he heard on his stereo. He even believed his pet rat led the dancing. The only things that occupied his time were video games, personal puppet shows, and pinball. What most would see as an unsatisfying, depressing existence for young Charles, he found to be a lot of fun. After a while, neighbor kids heard about all the fun he was having and began joining him in his bedroom. They played games all day and watched him put on his puppet shows to music, but, fortunately, they were not allowed to touch the drugs. It became the hot spot for neighborhood kids ages 2-12. Charles started charging admission and even saved enough money to move into a loft across town. His operation became so big a businessman approached him and offered to help him start franchising his business out. He went on to make millions, owning hundreds of 'funspots' across America. That young drug-crazed visionary was none other than Charles Edgar Cheese, or Chuck E. Cheese as you might know him.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Just wanted to let you know that, in case you hadn't heard. I feel like I'm still in shock right now, and I expect to keep feeling that way for a while. Check out this really cool 3-d map from the Washington Post if you'd like to see the actual counties that carried Obama to the nomination.
Monday, November 3, 2008
FiveThirtyEight.com (which stands for the total number of electors in the electoral college) is a fantastic website that presents giant and unwieldy chunks of data in ways that pretty much anyone can understand. More importantly, however, FiveThirtyEight is great because it allows you to talk like a genius. You can explain why improper party weighting makes Zogby polls unrealiable, or that Rasmussen polls should always be assumed to have a 1-2 point Republican lean, though their large sample sizes still make them the most reliable benchmark. Fun, right? If you have any sort of interest in statistics, give this site and shot. You'll never look at elections the same way again...
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Via Detroit Bad Boys, here's a funny little breakdown of the Piston's roster this season. Learn such exciting things as:
- Jason Maxiell plays the trumpet!
- If Cheik Samb were not playing basketball he'd be working with his father and brother in "export-import fishing businesses."
- Rodney Stuckey is good at "dancing, eating and sleeping"
- There's a very good chance that Joe D. will finally pull the trigger on a trade before the trade deadline this year. I don't blame him for not doing a "fifty cents on the dollar" trade this offseason, but it seems clear that the team as it doesn't quite have what it takes. There is, however, very good reason to believe that this winter they'll be some disgruntled star on a bad team that will pretty much force them to trade him. It happens almost every year, and the last time Dumars capitalized on it, it netted the team Rasheed Wallace.
- There really is a lot of good, young talent on the team. Jason Maxiell, Rodney Stuckey, and Amir Johnson in particular make the season worth watching even if you don't think the Pistons have what it takes this year. Stuckey in particular (i.e. "the poor man's Dwyane Wade) seems ready for a great second year as the go-to 3rd guard off the bench.
- Although the top-half of the roster may be aging, there really does seem to be a good foundation forming that can begin to take their place. The fact that Amir Johnson is now in the starting lineup gives me hope that Michael Curry is actually willing to play these young guys, too.
Monday, October 27, 2008
This new trend of financial industry ads that present the virtues of their product in such an unusually oblique way seems to be catching on. I'm not exactly proud to admit that this sprightly ad from Traveler's Insurance was probably the one that I liked the most from the summer:
I guess it's kind of unusual to be charmed by an ad in general, but when in comes to the banking industry it seems especially dirty, right? Anyone have any ads of late that they've particularly liked or disliked? I was arguing late night about whether those "realistic" ads for match.com are cute or cloying. I still lean towards cute, but that new one in the sushi restaurant is, I admit, pretty hard to watch.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Early in the evening, I noticed Simon's friend Justin, a legendarily frugal graduate student, engage our waiter in an extended colloquy. After dinner, I sidled up to Justin to complain about the exorbitant bill, knowing my outrage would fall on sympathetic ears. Instead, he flashed a wicked grin and revealed that he had "seceded from the check, Jefferson Davis-style." That is, having realized things were getting out of hand, he had worked out an understanding with the waiter whereby he would order on a separate tab that would include only his appetizer, entrée, and beverages. It was a brilliant stroke, though it required Justin's unabashed cheapskatedness, which, like his taste in metaphor, is rare indeed.
Also, don't forget than another NBA season is sneaking up on us in it's typically under-the-radar fashion. I know it's pretty much only the diehards that even follow the season until January or so, but this is nevertheless big news for me. Would be bigger, I guess, were I not still bearing the scars of their defeat to the Celtics last June and kind of despondent over the fact that the team that failed to win the title last year is back basically entirely unchanged.
That being said, how can I not be excited about Amir Johnson and Rodney Stuckey. They're the future, peeps!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
To Gov. Palin
Q: Are you serious?
To Sen. Biden
Q: Is she serious?
Just a friendly reminder to make sure you watch history unfold tonight at 9pm EST
UNRELATED UPDATE: I'm very proud of my home state right now.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Thus, when the McCain campaign performs such a blatantly political, desperate, and completely symbolic move like "suspending his campaign," there just aren't enough Chuck Todd's left out there to call shenanigans on him. Thank God for David Letterman...
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Everything from the way he's holding the microphone to the bizarre expression on his face seems to expose every "snobby," "snooty," "prissy" cliche you might have heard about Obama. It's so absurdly, devilishly brilliant, what can you say but: well done, NRA.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
1. "In the Wheelhouse," the podcast that Brandon and I have been talking about for the last 6 months or so, is finally up and running! Head over to the In the Wheelhouse website to ch-ch-check it out! We're definitely still finding our voice, but if you're a fan of extremely low-key discussions of music, claymation, and my personal gambling woes, this is the place for you!
2. If you're feeling confused by the relentless polling and looking for a place to figure out where things are actually trending in the presidential race, I'd suggest (via my friend Mike's excellent recommendation) that you head over to FiveThirtyEight, the excellent political blog started by PECOTA inventor and former East Lansing debator Nate Silver. Every time I start freaking out about, say, the Republican post-convention bounce, I head over there their reasoned analysis is like putting a warm towel on my forehead.
3. Finally, if you're looking for something a little lighthearted this afternoon, here's the Spider-Man theme song, broken down by the incomparable Joe Posnanski . I'd be remiss if I didn't include the iconic opening sequence here in full:
Friday, August 22, 2008
The album itself is really worth listening to: it' a really confident and polished version of that sort of soft, rustic sound that I'm normally a little more "eh" about. Anyway, here's the video (thanks go to BK for the heads-up):
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Oh, it's been a long and winding road to the Presidential Election, but one of our unalienable rights is now only a month and a half away. So break out your bunting, pop some Orville Redenbacher, and plant yourself in front of the old HDTV – it's political attack ad season.
The primary elections were already historic, but the many differences between the presidential candidates make their ads all the more interesting. We have Change vs The Same, Multiracial vs Uniracial, Hip vs Hip-replacement. A couple months ago it seemed like the election might be a formality, but polling shows McCain essentially even with Obama. When things get tight, the feces flinging begins.
McCain was first to make waves with his claim that Obama is a bigger celeb than Britney or Paris and is apparently unfit to run a country because of this. Obama, a universally liked and respected black man running for president of the United States of America, is definitely a celebrity. But, obviously, so is McCain. Weak stuff if you ask me, especially when Obama has been adamant about running a positive campaign.
Obama is now responding with negative ads in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida which air simultaneously with national ads that are much less biting. It's always fun to see what the public (though it's mostly the media) responds to and whether it affects their voting.
Luckily for us, there's a website that has collected every presidential ad since the very first was created for Dwight Eisenhower’s campaign in 1952. The Living Room Candidate lets us compare Reagan to Mondale, Nixon to McGovern, and Clinton to Bush to Perot. It's a great reminder that political mudslinging has been around as long as politics itself.
Make sure to check out the site to get yourself in the mood. Since I can't find out how to embed their videos, I'm leaving you a YouTube clip of George H.W. Bush's famous "Willie Horton" ad. Feel the hate.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Last night at a barbecue I had a chance to rediscover School House Rock! Rocks, one of the great tribute albums of my childhood. Much like The Crash Test Dummies' God Shuffled His Feet, I probably played this slightly jokey record about 39 times more than anyone reasonably should have.
That being said, this collection, composed of 90's artists putting their own take on the entertaining, if slightly dippy, School House Rock videos from the 70's, is a legitimately entertaining collection of songs. Plus, it's practically a "who's who" of mid-nineties rock & roll. I'm pretty sure that my introduction to Pavement came via their version of "No More Kings," and a pre-lame Moby has an awesome thrashing, menacing version of "Verbs." The Lemonheads, for that matter, never sounded more pleasantly stoned than during their cover of "My Hero, Zero."
My two favorites are placed right at the beginning of the record. Deluxx Folk Implosion's "I'm Just a Bill" is almost too tongue in cheek but, listening to it last night, I couldn't help but think that it still held up pretty well as both a funny, if still respectful, tribute to the song and a prefect send-up on the earnestness of the original narration (though The Simpsons' "Amendment to Be" remains the all-time classic send-up). In case you've never seen it, here's the original song:
The real gem remains Blind Melon's "Three is a Magic Number," a song that seems so up their silly hippie alley that it's almost hard to believe their version is a cover. Shannon Hoon was born to sing that song, and it's likely the best thing they did after "No Rain." Here's the video (with their cover in place of the original):
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
What can I tell you about it so far?
We have a name: In the Wheelhouse. Please refer to this for a little more info on this sadly underused expression.
We have a website: www.wheelhouseshow.com. Which, while empty for now, will soon be a veritable treasure trove of fantastical, heart-stopping information!
We have a producer: our good buddy Steve, who knows more about matters technical (and websites, and organization, and planning...) than I ever will.
We have a theme song which, when finished, will sound a little bit like the slice of genius below:
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Here are a few things you almost certainly don't need to know:
1. I went to Atlantic City and actually came back to New York with more money than I left with! Thanks go to all the terrible players at my poker table at the Taj!
2. I think that the new Walkmen record, You and Me, might end up being the best album of the year. Extremely, extremely strong from top to bottom. I actually saw them play a few years ago and I still don't understand how Hamilton Leithauser's vocal cords are still working. Head over to the Black T-Shirt to listen to "In the New Year," one of the standout tracks from the album.
3. I'm on a massive John McPhee kick right now. Anyone read any of his stuff? I'm not much of a geology buff (or haven't been in the past) so I'd avoided him for quite a while, incorrectly thinking that nature writing was predominant area of focus. It turns out that he's actually all ove the place as an essayist, covering everything from sports to Farmer's Markets. I'm currently reading the extremely interesting Looking for a Ship, about a trip he takes on the US Merchant Marine. Any other fans out there with books of his to recommend?
4. If I hadn't been so distracted with job-related matters, I probably could have written 7,000 words about that amazing, day-gobbling Wimbledon final. It's certainly the highest-quality tennis match I can remember seeing, and rivals the Sampras-Alex Corretja US Open quarterfinal that I watched with my mom way back in 1996 for sheer drama. And, because I like you all so much, here's a clip from that riveting quarterfinal:
Better (Chatter) posts to come!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I can't totally explain why I was so intrigued by this unusual mix of dogs, chess, and the Old West, but it was the first thing that I read every week in the magazine for it's entire 16 week run. Maybe it was the classic cartoonish drawing style? Or the soft, pleasant colors? Or maybe just the fact that the overall weirdness of the cartoon always seemed to provoke a laugh? Regardless, check it out while it's still up!
(Also, a big thanks are owed to Brandon over at The Black Tee Shirt for the format redesign! Much, much improved!)
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Case in point: While Wimbledon (which I've made a habit of watching every morning the last couple weeks before I go in to work) was going through one of it's classic rain delays this morning, the network had to kill some time. Their solution: have Dick Enberg and Bud Collins basically sit at a desk and just tell stories for half an hour or so.
Collins, though well known for his ostentatious attire (see above), is also a much-loved and loquacious storyteller. Enberg, though not in my opinion as strong of an announcer as he once was, remains a relentlessly cheerful personality and a great ambassador for tennis.
Anyway, as Collins was telling a long story about some mixed-doubles tournament that he saw back in 1959, a few things occurred to me:
1. Thank god for rain delays at Wimbledon: a sporting event that prominently features a couple of genial old men telling mildly ribald stories is, I must admit, most certainly my kind of tournament.
2. It's moments like that which make it no wonder only about 9% of Americans still give a hoot about Wimbledon.
3. Part of the fun of being a tennis fan is feeling like you're a part of the very clubby exclusivity that a place like Wimbledon cultivates.
The fact is, Wimbledon does make me pretty sentimental. Not only did I play tennis virtually every day as a kid with my brother and my good friends James and Chris, I have surprisingly distinct memories of watching Wimbledon every summer at my Grandparent's Traverse City home. It seemed like every July for years two things we're guaranteed: 1. My brother and I would go up to Traverse City for the annual Cherry Festival and 2. Pete Sampras would annihilate everyone at Wimbledon. Good times. Is there anything, by the way, more likely to make you shamelessly sentimental than the Julys of your childhood?
Monday, June 30, 2008
The article is typically hilarious Plimpton and serves as a perfect example of his much-celebrated form of "participatory journalism." What sports fan wouldn't love to try and pitch against a team of all-stars? Who wouldn't want to see if they could find a way to get through it? And, finally, who doesn't (even if they wouldn't admit to it) kind of want to see Plimpton fail miserably and have the order of the universe reaffirmed just a little?
The article moves briskly and is full of moments that will (or, at least, they should) make you laugh out loud. My particular favorite moment is near the end when the heat and the stress get to Plimpton on the mound and his inner voice stops trying to keep him calm and starts to crack a little under the pressure:
But during Banks 's tenure the inner voice refused to stay contained within my head. The lips began to move, and my mumbled voice, for some reason with a southern inflection which I have never used before or since, became increasingly audible on that lonely hill, moaning and squeaking like the fluttery breath of a tuckered hound.
What caused the voice to crack utterly was a string of seven balls I threw to Gil Hodges before he hit three fouls in a row and then his single, none of these first pitches close enough to the plate to get him to so much as twitch the bat off his shoulder. At first the voice offered its usual counsel not to push the ball and to take things easy. Presently, however, it got exasperated—"Hey, come on now, bear down, Ah say"—like a short-tempered farmer training a pup to come to heel. Then finally, as the control continued to flag, the panic surged in not by degrees but quickly, like a prowler's bulk suddenly filling a doorway, and it came in and throttled the voice so that all that came out was a thin high squeak.
And then this curious thing happened. The voice turned traitor. It went defeatist on me. It escaped and ran off, washing its hands of the whole miserable business. But it didn't desert me completely. Much worse, it capered around out there on the periphery, jeering and catcalling. "You po' fat fool, y'think y'all pretty fat and smart standing out theah pitching, hey? Well, lemme tell yo' sumpin. Y'all can't pitch yo' way out of a paper bag, that's what. Jes' try. Jes' le's see yo' try putting the ball ovah the plate."
So I would try—and when the ball missed the strike zone under Hodges ' watchful eye, the voice would cackle gleefully, "Y'all see that? Oh my! Y'all see that ball roll in the dust? Ladies an' gen'men, d'y'all observe that ball drop down theah in the dirt? Haw! Haw! Haw!" it would roar gustily in my head. "Haw! Haw! Haw!"
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Not too much to add to that, other than to say that living in New York, lounging in my neighborhood park, and reading P.G. Wodehouse is pretty much exactly what I assumed (when I was in college), or hoped, that I'd be doing once I hit my twenties.
Hmm, I suppose it would have been possible for me to have aimed a little higher?
Friday, June 20, 2008
I particularly loved his post on Tiger Woods on Monday, which considered the unusual hold that Tiger Woods has over so many of us, especially seeing as how nobody really seems to know anything at all about the guy.
In the midst of the post, he talks about how almost every other athlete has has a few stories written or told about them that seem to open them up and get a sense of what makes them who they are. I particularly liked this Michael Jordan story:
It seems that he was practicing before a game, and arena people were going through all the scoreboard games to make sure they worked. “Hey,” Michael yelled out. “Who wins the dot game tonight?” They told him … say it was blue. That night, during a timeout, the dot game began. Jordan turned to Scottie Pippen: “Hey, bet you a thousand dollars blue wins.” Something about that gets me closer to Michael Jordan, his hunger for action, his need for control, his preparation, his desperation to win. Pippen agreed to the bet, which tells you plenty about him too.
Sometimes I seem like half of my posts on this blog are some sort of defense of the world of sports and the unshakable hold they seem to have over me. Maybe that's why I feel the need to champion my favorite sportswriters like Posnanski, Bill Simmons, etc. They remind me that's what's especially fun and addictive about sports are not so much the games themselves, as it is the endlessly entertaining (at least for me) conversations, arguments, and analysis that they inspire.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Listening to the new David Sedaris audiobook
Not finishing the Sunday NYT Crossword
Busy working, etc. etc. etc.
So, why I am even posting at all? No good reason, other than to talk about Fleetwood Mac for a moment. That's right, it's summertime and I'm once again in the mood for the Mac!
Fleetwood Mac has become one of those bands that I went from sort of ironically liking (I mean, look at Lindsey Buckingham's white suit in the following clip and try tell me that it isn't cool on some level!) to honestly enjoying, to now being sort of in love with. Seriously, Rumours is one of the few albums I own that doesn't have a single song I dislike on it. And Tusk, even at double- album length, is pretty much the same way.
I know a lot of people don't give this band a chance and I can understand that. It's hard for them to escape the same category that The Eagles, Carole King, and every other sort of AOR from the 70's fall into. All I can say is that this band's music just cuts deeper than the others from that era. Lindsay Buckingham's guitar playing sets the tone, Mick Fleetwood holds everything together with his superb drumming, and what can you say about crazy gypsy Stevie Nicks? Her vocal delivery on Silver Springs is about as powerful and moving as you'll ever find in a pop song.
Anyway, my point isn't to convince the haters, but to share this clip in case people are looking for a quick midday break from work. Thus, here is a vintage performance of "Dreams" from the late 70's ...
Also, check out this Sandro Perri's amazing cover of Dreams. Definitely, definitely worth a download.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Flip Saunders is not a terrible coach by any means (though his unwillingness to play Amir Johnson more still nags at me) but this Pistons team only gets up when they are sufficiently inspired and he just isn't the guy to do that. Three years in a row (though the last two more than this one) the Pistons lost in the conference finals when they had an excellent chance to win and were favored by most to do so. Three years! What could possibly lead us to believe that Saunders us suddenly going the find the key that will make next year's team, which if nothing really changes will be nothing more than older and slower, any different? I will however, miss his perennial "white guy overbite" on the sidelines.
Even if you put the onus on the players and not on Saunders it doesn't really change much. I mean, if a coach isn't going to make the difference with this team than why not just bring in someone that will play the young guys more than Saunders was willing to? The East is nowhere near as deep as the West and the Pistons will almost certainly make at least the 2nd round of the playoffs no matter who they pick. The 2nd Round/the East Finals-is there really that big of a difference? It isn't the worst thing in the world to be the Atlanta Braves of basketball, but I suspect that Joe Dumars is willing to take some big risks this offseason to try and retool the Pistons no matter what sort of fall-off it might temporarily lead to.
Thus, my choice for the new head coach would be...Michael Curry.
Curry, a practically talentless player who nonetheless stuck around for 11 seasons, earned the respect of his teammates through hard work, defense, and leadership. Plus, he's got to be one of the only ex-NBA players with a Masters and, lest you think he might need more credibility in the locker room, he used to be the President of the NBA Player's Union. I think if nothing else, Curry (currently an assistant coach on the team) would bring an interesting perspective to the Pistons and might provide a boost to the sort of team that just doesn't play at their best unless there's something big to play for (and even that hasn't really made a difference the last 3 years). Certainly, his perspective would have to be quite a bit different than that of coaching lifers like Saunders and Larry Brown.
UPDATE: Wow, well I guess we might get a chance to see if it's the right move after all.
Friday, May 30, 2008
I can't help but think NYC is falling apart. A crane on East 91 St collapsed this morning, becoming the second construction incident like this in the last two months. The Times noted the first collapse prompted "an extensive review of the safety of the city's cranes." I guess with all that reviewing they never got around to fixing the problem. The bridge collapse in Minneapolis, last summer's NYC steam pipe explosion, and the demolished New Orleans levees indicate America's aging infrastructure has developed osteoporosis.
Something needs to change. Unfortunately our flailing economy, futile stimulus package, and love of blowing things up are all drawing our attention away from this problem. Here's what I propose we do to get our infrastructure back on track:
-Instead of one gigantic crane, use 10-12 big cranes.
-Put riddle-telling trolls under all major bridges. Will spice up commutes and deter stupid, bridge-destroying drivers.
-Use aqueducts instead of underground pipes. We'll be able to see damage without digging anything up, plus they'll make beautiful ruins once everything around them collapses.
-Build roads out of diamonds. Nature's strongest mineral will not only last, but will be nice to have around once the dollar is worthless.
-All buildings taller than three stories must be made of marshmallow. Will soften the impact of falling cranes and serve as an emergency reserve for s'mores.
-Institute a you-break-it-you-buy-it policy for all damaged structures. Make that school bus full of kids pay for the Minneapolis bridge they destroyed, NOT the taxpayers.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
(Thanks go to Ben Smith's blog on Politico for the heads-up!)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
But, that being said, have you seen Jason Maxiell's block of Kevin Garnett in last night's game? It was sick. And kind of unbelievable considering that he's about 8 inches shorter than Garnett. And, thus, this makes it too good not to share...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
With summer almost here (Or so the calender says. Once we get some weather in, say, the high 60's I might be a little more inclined to believe it) isn't this pretty much the only kind of sound you want to hear for the next three months?
Friday, May 16, 2008
That being said, here's my excuse: With the endgame approaching and delegates shifting so quickly as people shift from one candidate to the other (well, from Hillary to Barack), I've been obsessed with tracking how close Obama is to the magic delegate number of 2025 needed to clinch the nomination. So, that being the case, this post is getting put up for me and me only, suckas! (Alright, fine, you can check it obsessively too if you're a weirdo like me)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I mean, c'mon, how much longer could you have expected to wait before I threw in some sort of Pistons-related post?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Apparently, there isn't as much love out there for Snagglepuss as I originally thought! After an impression I did of him a few days back was greeted by confusion and blank stares I figured I had to include a little clip to let people see what they were missing. So, here it is...
Kind of an odd character, eh? A pink, erudite, and fussy lion in cuffs and collar? What the hell was the Hanna/Barbara team thinking!?!
Still, the results are pretty hilarious (he sounds to me like someone doing an especially bad impression of Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack), and how can you not love one of the more bizarre and funny signature catchphrases ever created: "Heavens to Murgatroid!"
Friday, May 9, 2008
After the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, society seemed to be heading in the right direction. Segregation, discrimination, and Jim Crow were supposedly put to rest. The 70s proved that most segregation and discrimination were de facto and probably amplified by America’s economic problems. But throughout history, some of the most important forms of music (rock ‘n roll, hip-hop, punk, folk) emerged as reactions to societal struggles like these. Now granted, soul had been around for decades before the 70s, but it wasn’t until then that we started seeing many of its permutations.
For much of the 60s, soul was more pop than political. Motown made music for the masses, James Brown sang about feelin’ good before he voiced the frustrations of countless inner cities, and Marvin Gaye crooned about how sweet love was until What's Going On in ’71. By the time the 70s rolled around, a lot of soul’s sheen had been stripped off and artists like Curtis Mayfield focused on the social problems that had become unavoidable. But with Mayfield, his effortlessly melodic arrangements could transport you to a drug-filled Chicago alley or inside the home of a struggling family, it simply depended on whether he was using scuzzy guitar or sweeping strings. The culmination of political soul came in the soundtrack to Superfly, which, with Isaac Hayes’ efforts on Shaft, forever linked this musical era to Blaxploitation.
On the flip side of socially conscious soul was the blossoming of plastic soul. This is not to be confused with “blue-eyed” soul (Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Dusty Springfield, et al.), which shouldn’t be classified as “plastic” because of its apparent sincerity. Plastic soul, on the other hand, has a certain level of affectation that acknowledges the strangeness of white people singing black music (especially when guys like Jagger and Bowie just look and sound so damn British). Despite its inherently detached appearance, plastic soul can be quite soulful. The aforementioned Brits did it quite well and Beck’s Midnight Vultures is a modern plastic classic, but sadly there were musicians who took this stuff far too seriously. Footnotes like Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins created yacht rock, which can’t be considered blue-eyed because of its insincerity (or pure schmaltziness) nor plastic because it doesn’t acknowledge its absurdity. But all of this music was fun, which was certainly a nice escape during the sometimes-gloomy 70s.
The infusion of fun back into soul was an inevitable backlash to the serious music of the late 60s and early 70s. A lot of singers found refuge in the hedonistic my-eyes-are-closed-and-everything-is-alright attitude of disco. The energy of danceable soul translated well across the world and focused more on rhythm and positive messages rather than social awareness. Essentially everyone knew things sucked and joyous songs helped people get by. Lately there’s been an emergence of African soul/psych/funk compilations from the 70s and most are quite good. It’s like big treasure chests in West Africa were simultaneously unearthed, giving us the funkiest offerings from Nigeria, Ghana, and Benin. The music is generally more socially conscious and subversive than its American counterparts, but just as danceable.
These are just a few of the many variations (70s) soul has to offer and I advise you delve further into it. The best thing about a soul phase is that when it’s over, the messages stay with you just as much as the catchy, catchy music.
Songs of soul:
Curtis Mayfield - The Other Side Of Town
Curtis Mayfield - (Don't Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go
David Bowie - Somebody Up There Likes Me
T-Fire - Will Of The People
Thursday, May 8, 2008
All that being said, you've got to love the cover of this week's Time, right?
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
It looks like the media is starting to acknowledge what was pretty clear by the end of the February: the race for the Democratic nomination is, effectively, resolved:
Monday, May 5, 2008
North Carolina: Obama 54% Clinton 46%
Indiana: Clinton 53%, Obama 47%
Democratic Nomination: Obama
Presidency: Obama 49%, McCain 46%, Nader, et al 5%
NBA Finals: Pistons over Lakers
Horse Racing: Big Brown wins the Preakness but falls short (like all the others) at the Belmont
MLB: Red Sox over Diamondbacks
Hockey: um...Wings over Pengiuns?
Tennis: Nadal over Federer at the French Open, Federer over Djokovic at Wimbledon, Djokovic over Roddick at the US Open
Golf: Woods wins the next two majors, some random fat guy wins the PGA Championship (very original, eh?)
Biggest Movie: Indiana Jones
Biggest Comedy: Step-Brothers
Biggest Flop: Speed Racer
Movie I'll Personally like the Best: Pineapple Express
Amount of time before Bryan and I break down and get internet/cable in our new apartment: 2 weeks
Number of nights I'll annoy my friends this summer by talking about some new podcast I found: Approx. 137
Month before Brandon and I actually start to do our podcast: July
Month that I'll start getting sad that summer's almost over: May
Anyone else have any predictions they'd like to put out there?
Friday, May 2, 2008
This morning was especially fun, as I spent 20 minutes rolling back and forth in bed, moaning in pain, while trying to gather the strength to get out of bad. I never thought I'd be the kind of guy to hire movers, but there's no way I'm going through that nonsense again. Anyway, I'd write more about this, but I've blacked out twice since I began this post and I think that I need to go buy a banana.
Regular posting to resume next week!
Friday, April 25, 2008
The biggest difference between how I feel about the Tigers today (cautiously optimistic) and the way that I did last week (moody, sullen, withdrawn) is the return of their lead-off hitter, and my personal favorite player, Curtis Granderson, one of the true good guys in sports (please stop me if I start sounding like Rick Reilly). According to the this story from the Grand Rapids Press, while he was rehabbing from a broken finger last week with the Tigers A ball team: "with some time on his mending hands, he called Grand Rapids Public Schools and offered to spend some time with students." He went on make an impromptu speech at a local assembly about what it takes to be get ahead, be successful, etc. to a bunch of thrilled middle-schoolers.
Here's a slightly shaky YouTube clip of Granderson hitting an inside-the-park home run last year that gives you some sense of the type of on the field excited that he creates with the Tigers:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
For at least two weeks, at least until North Carolina brings what will hopefully be some good news, I'm going to try and take a break from politics. I'm going to try and scale back my blog reading, going to refrain from reading the New York Times (as much), and I'm even going to scale back watching The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
It's all just too much, and here's the main reason why: THE. RACE. IS. OVER. It's been over since March 5th. Clinton cannot win without something way, way more catastrophic than the "Bitter/Cling" controversy or the Jeremiah Wright scandal, she just can't. She won't be able to catch up with Obama in terms of delegates, she won't even have a shot at total votes after North Carolina (even though that is a completely worthless statistic because numbers are considerably lower in states that have caucuses and thus paint an inaccurate picture), and there is just no way that downticket Superdelegates in places like South Dakota and Georgia will have to give Clinton the 70% + margin that she needs to overtake him the backroom way (and that's not even mentioning the fact that if she won this manner it would irrevocably damage the Democratic party in the eyes of African Americans, college age students, etc.).
So, what I really can't bear is two more weeks where people debate non-issues like whether or not the race is actually over. Nothing else is going to change except for more gaffes and "gotcha" moments that will continue to cost the Democrats votes they won't get back in the fall. Why am I subjecting myself so passionately to a race that's over? Why don't I just hang back for a few weeks and wait for Clinton to, inevitably, step down from her pursuit of the nomination? Seriously, what new developments could I learn at this point?
So, if you need me, I'll be in my bunker watching the NBA playoffs for, oh, the next 5 weeks or so...
Friday, April 18, 2008
Yeesh, three YouTube clips in a week? Does this mean I'm shifting from a Slate shill to a YouTube shill?
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This clip, from the movie Animal Crackers (thanks, Dewey!), was the moment that finally hooked me into to the hilarious, bizarre world of the Marx Brothers:
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Has anyone else read Gene Weingarten's Washington Post story about world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell playing a Stradivarius while incognito in a rail-station in Washington, D.C.? Basically, Weingarten got Bell to agree to play for an hour in disguise as just an ordinary busker. The results, needless to say, were extremely surprising...
I have to admit, I was quite moved by this story. Although I think the reason has something to do with the way that we recognize (or, more often, fail to recognize) something beautiful even when it's right in front of us, what really got me were the stories of the few people who understand, even if only on some intuitive level, that what they were seeing was indeed something special and out of the ordinary. The fact that the people who stopped to watch don't fall into any specific set of racial, gender, or age categories makes me want to speak in flowery language about the power of art to transcend boundaries and reach people that don't even care to be reached, but I'll restrain myself. Still, good article. Well worth reading.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Seriously busy the last couple weeks with apartment-hunting and doing the work of two people at my job, hence the lack of frequent or substantial posts. Still, I've been thinking a lot about Obama's "bitter" problem and the presidential race in general, so here are some thoughts for the 3 people out there that might possibly be interested:
First, in case you haven't seen it yet, here's what Obama said at a fund raiser in California that got him in trouble:
"But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothings replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
1. A classic "Kinsley Gaffe" (once again: check out Kinsley's new essay collection and you won't be disappointed) if there ever was one. We can all agree that what he said has an air of truth behind it, can't we? If it weren't, would Republicans in every state be wasting their time with issues like distracting Gay Marriage bans that district voters from the Iraq war and the economy but don't actually make anyone's life any better? We all know that he shouldn't have said what he did the way that he did, but to pretend that what he said was completely untrue or out of line is to be willfully naive (or worse). Still, for someone that William Safire himself has noted for his gift for words, I can't believe that Obama would be so careless in his use of words like "bitter" and "cling" which have such strong and generally negatives connotations.
2. The fact that H Clinton has been trying to murder him on this the last few days proves just how dangerous it is for the Democrats the longer she stays in the race. There's absolutely no way that the 80% of the Superdelegates (or so) that she needs to win will break that dramatically in her favor at this point. In addition, there's almost no way that Obama won't win North Carolina big enough to make Pennsylvania a wash. And, though every possible indicator makes it seem like a foregone conclusion that she will lose, it looks like Clinton will most likely stick around long enough to not ultimately accomplish a lot more than spending millions and millions of dollars attacking Obama and hurting his general election chances for as long as she cares to. Do I sound bitter? I think I'm mostly just tired of it and bored with that fact that there's nothing new to follow except each new Clinton attack.
3. Aren't we all getting a sick of politicians (and Obama's camp is as bad as any other) getting so "outraged" and "insulted"and "shocked" when an opposing candidate phrases something the wrong way. Obviously, the gender and racial components have taken this kind of thing to another level during this presidential campaign. The problem with this new "scandal," is that, as Marc Ambinder points out on his Atlantic blog, the issue is one of elitism, and it's a bit of a stretch for people like McCain and Clinton to frame Obama against themselves as some sort of elitist outsider.
4. Regardless, what Obama did was merely a gaffe, not a scandal. Spitzer getting caught in a prostitution crackdown is a scandal. The Teapot Dome was a scandal. What Obama did doesn't really seem to me like anything more than a case of using the wrong words to describe a phenomena (i.e. the way many working class/lower class people vote against their best economic interests because of cultural issues) that we all know exists but, apparently, have to pretend doesn't.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Now, I hasten to add that I don't think this will be any sort of reliable indicator of when or if Clinton will actually leave the race. I'm pretty sure, for example, that their "Albert Gonzalez Resignation Meter" was up for about a year before they finally retired it (only then, of course, did he resign-maybe he just didn't want to give Slate the satisfaction?)
Anyway, here it is. For whatever dumb reason I've been checking this every day, and I thought by sharing it I could somewhat lesson my secret shame at doing so.