Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tunak, Tunak!

Today is a travel day, so, in lieu of an actual post, check out this all-time great music video.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Sports Links: Old School Basketball

Its a slow blogging day here at Common Sense Dancing, because its our last day before spring break and everybody's trying to get out of town. Rather than write anything insightful, I'm just going to dump a bunch of links on you. Here we go:

Dr. J's All-Time Greatest Dunks: Heavily pixelated, but some of these need to be seen to be believed. My personal favorite is the famous "Rock the Cradle" dunk over Michael Cooper in the 1983 NBA finals, when he picked up a loose ball at half-court, picked up his dribble at the 3-point line, took two enormous strides and dunked on Michael Cooper, the best defensive 2-guard of the 1980s. That has to be the best in-game dunk of all time. Hubie Brown said of Dr. J that he never played an away game in the ABA, because he would turn every road area into a pro-Nets one. Watching these highlights, don't you believe him?

Larry Bird Regulators Mix: With the vintage broadcasting of Johnny Most, old-fashioned tight shorts, 80's graphics and the best rap song of all time as background music, this is one of the cooler YouTube videos I've ever seen. The only thing wrong about it is that it isn't 20 minutes long.

Pistol Pete Maravich: This summer in Brooklyn I got onto the subway at Grand Army Plaza next to a 300 pound black dude wearing a skin-tight Maravich Celtics jersey. It might have been the highlight of the entire summer.

Magic Johnson: Showtime: There's a lot to love about this video. Not only are the Magic Johnson highlights incredible, but we also get corny new-age background music, Yellow's "Oh Yeah," big-haired 80's Laker Girls, and a priceless close-up of Arsenio Hall and Charlie Sheen slapping five that was so funny that it literally almost made my head explode The half-court bounce pass is one of the most exciting plays in the NBA, and his around-the-back assists against the Phoenix Suns is still the best assist I've ever seen.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Modest Mouse's New Album: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

If you're lucky, every so often a new song will come out that embodies your exact mindset at that time and place. In the summer of 2004, that song, for me, was Modest Mouse's "Float On." I had liked Modest Mouse for a couple of years already, but that song took it up a notch. From that day on, I was A Modest Mouse Fan.

Undeniably cool idea #1) Their new album, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, was originally intended to be a concept album about the crew of a ship that dies in every song. That's definitely the coolest idea for a concept album I've ever heard.

Undeniably cool idea #2) Halfway through the second song on the disc, I said out loud to myself "hmm, it sounds like Modest Mouse has been listening to The Smiths." When I got home and looked at the liner notes, I saw that Johnny Marr had informally joined the band. Good to know.

Undeniably cool idea #3) The catchy, understated "Fire It Up" will remind every Modest Mouse fan of why they fell in love with the band in the first place.

Undeniably cool idea #4) "Florida," with a vocal from The Guy From The Shins, is one of the better songs you'll be hearing on the radio this summer. You heard it here first. The Guy From The Shins is one of those talented singers whose voice is tragically underutilized on muted, folky music. I'll call this "Pulling a Neko." Of course, none of this changes the fact that I would marry Neko Case ten minutes from now and never have any regrets.

Undeniably cool idea #5) This music video:

Funny Lawyer Stories

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client who lost his house in Hurricane Katrina and wanted to rebuild.. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to the parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application,we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:
"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I w as unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Isabella. The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus ' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn loan?"

He got the loan.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

New Anti-Rape Device Hits the Market

This strange-looking device works as follows: it contains a bunch of "sharp, fish-like teeth." Women put it into their vaginas, like a female condom, and if they are raped while they have it in, then these sharp spikes stick into the offending man's penis. The spikes would then break off when the man pulls out, giving the woman an opportunity to escape while the man reacts to the pain. Furthermore, the man would need to go to a hospital in order to have them removed, which would theoretically increase the number of rapists who are arrested for their crimes. Everybody wins!

Except . . . if you were a woman living anywhere but South Africa (where the device was invented as a counter-measure against that nation's horrifying rape epidemic), would you want to risk putting 15 sharp needles into your vagina? Vaginas are soft! Needles are sharp and hard! I realize that women run a risk of rape, especially when they are walking alone and at night. But is the risk higher than the risk of stabbing yourself in a very sensitive area with a very sharp object? Would you really say, "hey Julie, wait up! I'll be ready to leave in just a minute, I have to go put sharp, fish-like teeth into my vagina." How would you react to hearing that? The device is important, and in some ways ingenious, but will it find a market in the United States?

Read more about it here.

Pro Athletes Who Blog

In recent weeks, the basketball player Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards and baseball players Curt Schilling and Pat Neshek (of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, respectively) have started blogs.

I like the idea of athletes communicating directly to their fans, particularly Schilling, who is known for speaking his mind. I'm somewhat skeptical of Arenas' blog -- he is one of my favorite players in the NBA, but his blog is run on the NBA's website, and NO professional sports league is more protective of its image than the NBA. If Arenas ever wants to post something critical of the referees, or general managers, or other star players, I suspect the NBA will censor it.

I'm most interested to see Pat Neshek's blog, because, unlike Arenas and Schilling, he is not a star, but rather just a rank-and-file major league ballplayer. Looking forward, I think that his observations on the day-to-day life of a baseball player, of the craft and lifestyle of major leaguers, will prove to be more interesting than Schilling, whose tends to opine about foreign policy, american culture and conservative politics as much as baseball. Schilling's an admirable and intersting guy, but I wouldn't be surprised if Neshek's has more "sports value." Hopefully his blog will become the baseball equivalent of Paul Shirley's, whose observations on the everyday life of an NBA player changed the way in which I view the league. Shirley is no longer in the NBA (damn you, Timberwolves, for choosing to hire Vin Baker instead of him!), but hopefully someday he will start blogging about his current career in Europe. Wouldn't you like to read about his games against Trajan Langdon, Bryce Drew and Scotty Thurman? I sure would!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Althouse Situation

University of Wisconsin Law professor Ann Althouse has become embroiled in two highly publicized blog-wars over the past 12 months. One of them was with the awesome Feministing blogger Jessica Valenti, and the other was with Feministe blogger, NYU law student, and all-around superbabe Jill Filipovic. It all came to a head yesterday on BloggingHeads TV, when Ann Althouse all but melted down over the criticism she had taken in the blogosphere.

The feud with Valenti arose when Althouse posted a photograph of a group of liberal bloggers, including Valenti, posing with former President Bill Clinton, and criticized Valenti for 'hypocritically' calling herself a feminist while looking sexy in the same photograph as the notorious womanizer Bill Clinton. That touched off a long series of arguments in which Professor Althouse unattractively showed herself to be a hopeless careerist mired in 1970's feminism. Though she claims to be a moderate, she admits to having a very conservative readership, to whom she appealed with her ad hominem attacks on Valenti, and outspoken liberal and new-wave feminist.

The fued with Filipovic arose when the New York Times ran a series of articles about how anonymous comments about Valenti and several other good-looking female law students on some law school-themed blogs may have resulted in those students missing out on employment opportunities they would otherwise have secured. Some jerks posted anonymously to rant and rave about their bodies in disgusting detail, what they would do to them if given the chance, and so on. Law firms, which tend to be stuffy conservative and which tend to be run by even stuffier and conservative hiring partners, shied away from hiring these women, who had done nothing wrong other looking too pretty for their own good. Althouse said that it was their fault for looking sexy and allowing their photos to be put on the internet in the first place (overlooking the fact that in many occasions they weren't the people who posted the photographs) and reminded everybody, in her trademark sanctimonious way, that the blogosphere is a tough place, they should just 'laugh it off,' and that those with thin skins shouldn't participate. This struck everybody involved as the internet equivalent of 'blaming the victim,' which is just about the least feminist thing a person can ever do or say.

This culminated in yesterday on Blogging Heads, an internet tv station in which bloggers have point/counterpoint-style discussions with one another. In her debate with The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta, Althouse, when prompted, exploded in an angry rant about how she was tired of putting up with the character assassinations she suffered in the course of these two blog-wars. Ann, what ever happened to having a tough skin and laughing it off?

This only matters because Professor Althouse is the public face of MY law school. What she does on her time is her business. But, as a former guest-editorialist at the New York Times and the moderator of an 8 million-hit blog, she is the most famous member of our faculty. In the past three years, two incidents at the UWLS have brought me confused e-mails from friends in other parts of the country: last month's Hmong controversy and Ann Althouse's various public rantings and meltdowns. She should know that, when you are a member of an organization, such as the University of Wisconsin faculty, you have to expect that your actions will, for better or worse, reflect on the rest of the organization. My classmates and I are going to have the University of Wisconsin Law School's name on our diplomas for the rest of our lives, and we deserve better than to be known as "the school where that crazy Ann Althouse teaches," or as a school that not only harbors, but celebrates and promotes its wackos. Good times! Everybody waive as seven more law schools pass us in the national rankings.

I've blogged about the Ann Althouse situation on Legal Badger here and here.

The Onion News Network Is Here

The Onion News Network, about which rumors have flown for the past several months, is finally here.

With stories like "Immigration: The Human Coast" and "Rice to Voyage East," ONN is off to a strong start. I even love the DeWar's advertisements between videos! But the real highlight so far is the sublime "Bush Calls Up Civil War Re-Enactors For Duty in Iraq." Stay tuned.

Definitely the Coolest Thing I've Seen In A While

The Discovery Channel's current series, "Planet Earth," is the best argument I've ever seen for getting a high-definition television. Shot with hi-definition cameras at the reported cost of $1 million per episode, this series is unlike anything I've ever seen. In a sandstorm, you can see the individual grains of sand. In the ocean, a shark's splash hangs in the air like blood from "300"'s fight scenes. This video of a great white shark snatching a seal out of the water and nearly swallowing it whole sent chills up my spine. I don't care if you're not a nature person - mark your calendar, because this show is not to be missed.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hot Chicks With Douchebags

For some reason that 75% of men are unable to understand, hot chicks are attracted to douchebags. It is a scientific fact. Not all hot chicks, but a disproportionate number. Remember that girl you had a crush on in high school? Now, do you remember her boyfriend? Wasn't he a douchebag?

This has been a running joke of mine since my freshman year in college, when a girl who I really liked was found to be dating a total douchebag whose name alone would have been enough to leave you laughing and scratching your chin, wondering how a girl like her ended up with a guy like him. Former teammates of mine will remember the "hot girls have sketchy boyfriends" limmerick I wrote at Gales Ferry in the summer of 2001 that totally made Dave White my bitch.

It might be because douchebags are high on confidence and low on shame. It might be that women are attracted to striped shirts and shiny objects. It might be because all of the nice guys are too pussy to ask them out, so the douchebags are their only offers. There has to be some sort of explanation -- right?

Well, look no further. The excellent blog Hot Chicks With Douchebags is the best blog of this sort to come along since Veiled Conceit, whose "DoucheHamptons" post this past summer made people justifiably afraid to show off in the NY Times wedding section.

I cannot overstate how happy this blog makes me. May it continue to thrive so long as douchebags continue to nab all the hot chicks.

Scattered Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament, Part 4

1) For those of you who missed it, Greg Oden's game-winning blocked shot against Tennessee is the play of the tournament so far. I started to throw my hands in the air when Oden pivoted on his right foot at the foul line. At that point, he was already sizing up Tennessee guard Ramar Smith and getting himself into position for the block, and Smith hadn't even crossed the 3-point line yet. That play was spectacular.

2) The typical 'prospect' center at a major D-1 school is tall and coordinated, more athletic than the typical player of his height, but lacks seasoning, game experience, and a sophisticated basketball IQ. Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaq and Dikembe Mutombo, were such projects who worked out; Michael Olowokandi, Adonal Foyle, and Joel Przybilla are recent examples of such projects who did not. Stanford's Brook Lopez and Georgetown's Roy Hibbert are contemporary examples of this. But here's what makes Greg Oden so scary -- he already has a spectacular basketball IQ. His rebounding instincts could use some refinement, but he makes the right decisions with the ball, has brilliant footwork, can pass out of the double-team, draws a ton of fouls and makes his free throws. What he doesn't have a lot of is coordination: he may still be growing, and if he's not, then he still has to grow into his body to some extent. Right now, he's using the right footwork, but its still somewhat slow. In a couple of years, he'll have the right footwork and the coordination to get the first step on opposing big men. When that happens, the sky is the limit.

3) Michael Conley is going to be a legitimate pro in the very near future. In the past ten years, the only freshman point guard who has been able to penetrate and dish better than Conley is Chris Paul, and he is now a franchise player in the NBA. Conley is arguably even more athletic.

4) I don't know what to say about the UNC game. They were the better team, but hit a historic cold stretch at exactly the wrong time. I have to give Bill Simmons credit -- he said that, as great as Carolina was, a great shot-blocker could take them out of their game to a greater degree than any other elite team. That's exactly what happened when Roy Hibbert re-entered the game in the second half and was able to stay out of foul trouble.

5) I caught about 15 minutes of today's Tennessee-Marist women's game, and I saw Candace Parker hit a turn-around 15-foot jumper from the right baseline that if I didn't know better would have sworn was shot by Karl Malone. It was high-arcing flick-of-the-wrist jump shot. You just don't see women take that shot. She doesn't play like an athletic woman (like, say, Lisa Leslie or Cheryl Swoopes); she plays like an athletic man. A 6'4" shooting guard who can legitimately dunk? And did I happen to mention that she looks like Beyonce? Are you kidding me? Where do I sign up? Here's another pair of ridiculous dunks.

6) Brian McCormick, author of the excellent blog Rants of A Basketball Maven, has been absolutely on fire this week. Check it out.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ridiculous Weather = Slow Blogging Day

I've been really lax about posting this weekend, because its 76 degrees in Madison today and, well, its just too nice to stay indoors looking for stories to blog about. In the meantime, here is a highlight reel of Saturday Night Live's inimitable Tina Fey at her best.

More Tina Fey awesomeness/hotness can be found here. If you're not already watching 30 Rock, do yourself a favor and start. You won't regret the decision.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Sports Link: US Men's Olympic 8+

Today is a really crazy day, so in lieu of a real post here's a video of the United States Olympic Rowing team just dropping the hammer on everybody at the '04 Olympics. I've raced against a lot of these guys, and they were all a million times better than me.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Links Than Christina Ricci's Chain

1) The University of Wisconsin Law School's main weakness is its business law department. Everybody knows this. The faculty we have in that department are terrific, but we don't have anywhere near enough of them, and some courses that were promised to us as 1Ls, specifically in the fields of Securities Law and Intellectual Property, are no longer offered. This year, three of our leading business law professors, Gordon Smith, Bernie Trujillo, and Bob Schnur, have left for one reason or another. So it makes perfect sense that our latest faculty hire teaches -- wait for it -- Critical Race Theory! Good Times! Everybody waive as seven more law schools pass us in the national rankings! Legal Badger has the scoop.

2) Kissing Suzy Kolber discovers a long-lost archive of NFL-themed Family Circus cartoons. Just great work from everybody involved.

3) They'd Rather Eat Chocolate - Apparently there is a new book out telling women that they shouldn't feel bad for never wanting to have sex with their husbands once they've had their children. They'd rather eat chocolate instead! Is it because they're spending toom uch time around these guys? Isn't marriage awesome? A wonderful institution we need to preserve in its current form or else risk the stability of our entire culture? This, on the other hand, is how men see the world. And they wonder why men are reluctant to tie the know? Dan Savage offers his take.

4) I hate it when I get kicked in the penis.

5) Because none of you have anything better to do, here's a great clip of U2 singing "With or Without You" live in Boston on their 2001 tour.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Delightfully Incongruous

Its been a long 24 hours here at Common Sense Dancing. Come back later in the day for the fourth installment of Dispatches From the Wisconsin "B" League! In the meantime, here are a couple of things have I've been having difficulty wrapping my brain around.

1) Don King had a front row seat for Pope Benedict's private audience at the Vatican today. This is the same don King who served four years in prison for manslaughter and has been an all-around shady person and royal pain in the ass since the early 1970's. At the end of the private audience, he handed the Pope a green and gold boxing belt. Stay classy, Don.

2) This video of an old Yiddish couple rapping along to Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Gin and Juice," is blowing my mind. In fact I'm half-convinced it is a sign of the apocalypse.

3) This classic bit from the British sitcome "Extras," starring Kate Winslet and the inimitable Ricky Gervais, featuring a nun talking dirty to Anne Frank and Joseph Goebbels, needs to be seen to be believed. NOBODY does this sort of thing better than Gervais, the creator and star of the original British version of The Office. This video is NSFW.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Buffalo Wings and Shadayaim: Hooters Opens In Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel is to be the site of the next Hooters restaurant. Let the record reflect that I have never eaten at a Hooters; the concept just seems gross to me, and even if it wasn't, I'd still be too much of a Buffalo wing snob to do it. Anyway, according to news reports, the restaurant will be similar to American Hooters restaurants, but with a slightly different menu, to accomodate local tastes and to account for some foods it is difficult to obtain in the Middle East. I can only imagine the grand opening ceremony:

"Today we realize the dream of our grandfathers: To be a Jew among Jews . . . and big titties. Or, in the language of Abraham, 'ttts.'"

Fox News: Now 100% More Fair!

There's a great collection of Fox News screen shots up on No Quarter this morning. My personal favorites:
1) Libby Convicted on Four Counts, But Was There Even A Crime?
2) Hunting Accident Controversy: How is VP Cheney feeling?
3) Did Dems Ignore Foley E-mails To Preserve Seat?
4) Running graphics of Democratic 'scandals,' including the 'scandal' in which Barney Frank came out of the closet, to remind viewers during the Mark Foley fiasco that Republicans weren't the only party that's had Congressional scandals.

Also, check out this fascinating article about what happens when France-hater Bill O'Reilly doesn't get his fresh croissants in the morning. You don't want to fuck with Bill after he's had stale croissants.

Thanks to Terry McMahon for the tip.

Monday, March 19, 2007

TV On the Radio On Common Sense Dancing

My post about TV On the Radio's kick-ass concert at the Orpheum on Friday has been getting a lot of hits, thanks to The Isthmus, The Capitol Times, and for linking to it! People have asked me a lot of questions about the show, and all I can really say is that they sounded this good, but louder and with more people singing along.

Monday Afternoon Laughter Break

1) I don't normally watch awards shows, but the comedians' song at last month's Oscars was hilarious, but also self-deprecating and warm-hearted in a really charming way. I'll embed the video further down in this post.

2) Two weeks ago, I hadn't seen a Cracked Magazine in 15 years. I don't know where they've been, but they've come back strong, with last week's list of the 20 Worst Cover Songs of All Time and this week's list of People Magazine's 15 Most Ludicrous Celebrity Write-Ups.

3) What would you give to have the ESPN College Gameday crew broadcast your sexual encounters? It would be pretty sweet, especially considering their enthusiasm and the ease with which they throw around the term "length." However, I might still prefer to have Gus Johnson, because he would make it sound the most exciting. Marv Alberts "Yes!!!!!" has some promising bedroom potential, but if he was in the room I'd be afraid that his toupee would attack me, and that might make it difficult to concentrate.

Annotating the Classics

Today's New York Times features an article for the bookworm in all of us: how do you read, and how do you teach, classic works of literature whose cultural and social references have become obsolete? The Bonfires of the Vanities, published less than 20 years ago, already reads like a world gone by. What, then, to make of Jane Austen, whose brilliant comedies of manners are more than ten times as old? As the article points out, Austen was worried that the social structures, manners, and opinions about which she wrote had changed too dramatically in her lifetime for readers to understand what she was really driving at.

How are American high school and college students, whose life experiences are not all that broad to begin with, supposed to understand Return of the Native or Ulysses? Or Shakespeare? Remember those folio editions you used to read in high school, with the text on the right-hand page and various definitions and explanations on the right-hand page? Does reading that the word "plum" used to have four different meanings in the 1500s make the pun any funnier to a modern reader? When you were assigned the annotated Ulysses in college, did you actually read all of the annotation?

As a fan of this literature, I have enjoyed almost every 19th-century-and-older British novel more on the second read than the on the first. The first time through, its helpful to read the annotation, or to read secondary materials (the best of which by far is Daniel Pool's "What Jane Austen Ate and What Charles Dickens Knew") simultaneously with them, so that the second time through a novel you understand all of the references. Still, that is all enormously time-consuming, especially when one has to work within the constraints of an academic semester, when class time is limited and students have competing assignments from other classes. Having said that, all but the very highest-level english classes read these classic works of literature for their broader themes - the battle between the sexes, or balancing tradition and modernity, or the meritocratic middle classes rising to prominence over the increasingly obsolete aristocracy, etc, and it isn't the end of the world if an allusion or two whizzes past, feet above our head.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Scattered Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament, Part 3: Player Names

In my house, there is a running joke about the funny names of some of the players in the tournament. My particular favorite was when Michigan State showed a lineup featuring players named Raymar, Marquise and Goron. I like it when people come up with creative and original names for their children. This is particularly prevalent in black culture. However, this is quite a bit different from misspelling a popular, existing name. (More on this later.) The Social Security Administration has a great website that tracks the most popular baby names in the country, and I decided to use it to track the popularity of the names of the players in the NCAA tournament.

Raymar is as obscure as I thought -- it has never been one of the 1000 most popular names in the country, despite the fact that two prominent players in the tournament have it. Marquise was more popular than I realized; over the past 15 years it has been between the 368th and the 801st-most popular names in the country. This might not sound very popular, but then I found out it was actually more popular than my own name most years, so that was pretty weird.

Looking around a little bit more, I found that the popularity of former Orlando Magic basketball Anfernee Hardaway made his name - a phonetic spelling of the name 'Anthony' pronounced in his mother's heavy African-American accent - rise from understandable obscurity to surprising popularity 667 in 1995, 597 in 1996, and 839 in 1997. When Hardaway blew out his knee and could no longer perform at an all-star level, the popularity of his first name dropped right off of the chart. My other favorite thing about Anfernee Hardaway is that his middle name is ALSO misspelled -- its "Deon" instead of "Deion." Good times! Also, somewhat depressingly, the name Peyton has risen from 583 to sonsistently in the top 150-200 due to the popularity of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. May this trend reverse itself quickly and permanently! Who would want to name their child after Peyton Manning? The guy is a total gomer, is single-handedly responsible for five of the 10 most annoying advertisements on television, and is about to host what is destined to be the worst Saturday Night Live episode of all time.

New Jonathan Lethem Novel

The always-awesome Jonathan Lethem has a new novel, You Don't Love Me Yet. I'm a big fan of the rock-novel genre (i.e. Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Don DeLillo's Great Jones Street) and I'm a big fan of Lethem generally, so I'm looking forward to this one.

In The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Salman Rushdie wrote that "The only people who see the whole picture are those who step out of the frame." Narratons don't get more in-frame than Lethem's, who are often unreliable in many ways, most notably Motherless Brooklyn's Lionel Essrog, who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome. I look forward to Lethem's take on the rock novel.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I'm having trouble sitting down because TV On the Radio rocked my ass off

Brooklyn rockers TV On the Radio played a show at The Orpheum tonight, just a couple of blocks from my apartment. The show was incredible - band sounded great, the sell-out crowd had a ton of energy, and at the end of the show the applause was the loudest and most enthusiastic I've ever heard after a concert. Combining elements of rock, r&b, a cappella and jazz, they are the most popular experimental band in indie rock.

I've long admired TV On the Radio's recordings, but at the start of the show I was a little worried that their dense, layered, and studio effect-heavy sound (think Radiohead meets Parliament) wouldn't make for the most exciting live show. Needless to say, I was way off. Their songs proved surprisingly easy to sing and tap-your-foot along with in person, and at one point during "Staring at the Song," I turned around to see an audience entirely swept away by the music they were hearing. It was borderline euphoric. Highlights included "Province," "A Method," and "Staring at the Sun," though with Jaleel Burton's bass drum cranked up to "approaching tyrannosaurus" levels, every song left an impression.

More tomorrow when my ears have stopped ringing an I'm actually able to to think straight.

Friday, March 16, 2007

What Are America's Favorite Buildings?

The American Institute of Architecture just released a poll of America's 150 favorite buildings. It contains all of the usual suspects, and I was happy to see that Yale's Ingalls Rink, designed by Eero Saarinen, made the list (#149).

I've been to 17 of the top 20, and 51 overall. Though I've always wanted to see the St. Louis Arch, the Vanderbilt Biltmore Estate, and some of the other highly ranked buildings, I am ashamed to admit that I had never even heard of the Hotel Del Coronado, despite having been to San Diego a couple of times. Some, like the Rose Center for Earth and Space, or the D.C. Metro, or the Federal Building in Islip, seem pretty obscure to me.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta is only familiar to me from the climactic shoot-out from the movie In the Line of Fire.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Scattered Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament, Part 2

1) CBS is broadcasting the Midwest Regional live from my hometown of Buffalo, New York, which is not in the midwest. Go figure. Also, there is something seriously wrong with the parquet -- the entire area inside of the 3-point line is painted Columbia blue, with the key painted a darker shade of blue. It looks like HSBC arena bought it second-hand at the 1994 Toronto World Championships' post-tournament garage sale.

2) Old Dominion forward Gerald Lee is from Uusikaupunki, Finland. How the hell are you born in Finland with a name like Gerald Lee?

2b) Which high school did he go to? Uusikaupunki High, of course. I mean, duh!

3) Color Commentator Bob Wenzel says: "Lee is from Finland, which means he should be accustomed to the weather they get here in Buffalo." Fuck you, Bob Wenzel.

4) Butler/Old Dominion is 20-19 at halftime. I love the NCAA tournament! Scores are higher in the Wisconsin intramural "B" league.

5) The best player for Butler looks like the autopsy doctor on Scrubs. This has to be a bad sign.

Scattered Thoughts on the NCAA Tournament, Part 1

Okay, I HATE Joakim Noah. A pet peeve of mine is when players from privileged backgrounds front "street" to make themselves look tougher. See: Kobe Bryant and Chris Webber. Having said that, Webber and Bryant sound like reasonable intelligent and well-educated guys when they are interviewed.

Joe-Kim, on the other hand, sounds like a total illiterate. Did you listen to his post-game interview? He sounded like a moron, even by the low standard of the typical post-game interview. But, since everybody who hasn't been living under a rock for the past twelve months knows his family background, he came across sounding even worse. Well done, Joe-Kim! Unfortunately, only the dance (not the speech) is on YouTube. Here's the link.

This seems like a good time to mention that Michigan State's team features players named Marquise, Raymar, Goron and IsAiah. Also, Texas Tech features players named Rogdrick, Decensae, Jarrius,, Damir and LucQuente. Good times! The best part was when Dick Enberg, broadcasting the Texas Tech-Boston College game, said "Decensae White's mother, an avid baseball fan, named him after the great Orioles third baseman Doug DeCinces. Its not spelled the same, but that was her inspiration."

Consider me inspired! I love college basketball.

Law School Haiku

Curious Character takes over first place in our running "Bitterest 3L" contest. I'm sure that everybody suffering through Civil Procedure II, Business Organizations or Jurisprudence feels his pain.

Worst Idea I've Seen In A While

Is anything worse than a mime? How about evangelical Christian mimes? How about black evangelical Christian mimes? How about black evangelical Christian mimes who wear big chains and sunglasses indoors to try to look tough? Well, is all of the above. This is about as dorky as it gets.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What Does Your Music Say About You?

The science blog "Mixing Memory" has a terrific post today about what the music we listen to has to say about our personalities. Read the whole thing - its interesting stuff.

I'd like to see some more research in this field, perhaps broken down by age categories or even individual bands. For instance, a 55 year-old listening to the Rolling Stones might mean different things than a 25 year-old listening to the Rolling Stones. Much closer to home, what does listening to Arcade Fire or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! say about a person? What does sending out bootleg Arcade Fire youtube videos to all of your friends on a near-daily basis have to say about a person?

I particularly liked this paragraph:
In short, people who listen to jazz are smart, liberal, adventurous, and poor; people who listen to heavy metal are smart, liberal, adventurous, athletic, and prone to social dominance; people who listen to Madonna or the "Dancing With Wolves" soundtrack are agreeable, conscientious, conservative, rich, happy, dumb, emotionally unstable, and hot; and people who listen to hip hop are extraverted, agreeable, liberal, athletic, and hot. Well, those are the tendencies at least (I've known some smart Madonna fans, though I have to say that they were pretty emotionally unstable).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Best and Worst Cover Songs of All Time

By coincidence, The Onion A.V. Club and Cracked are running simultaneous articles about the best and worst cover songs of all time.

There are some really good choices on both lists, but in my opinion the single-worst cover song of all time has to be the Counting Crows' "Big Yellow Taxi." Everything about that song sucks -- they ruined a beloved classic, they interpreted it all wrong, their voices and playing sound terrible, and they changed the most important line of the entire song. There's no way that song should ever be sung by anybody other than a hippie chick.

Not only is Sheryl Crow's version of "Sweet Child of Mine" isn't her only offense to the rock music gods; its not even her worst cover song. Her rendition of Cat Stevens' "The First Cut Is The Deepest" is even worse.

My favorite covers include Thelma Houston's cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way" (though great as it is, it might not be better that the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes' original), The Beatles' cover of "Twist and Shout," and Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

ADDED: Chris nominates Billy Idol's "Mony Mony." My reaction to his comment was straight out of High Fidelity: "You bastard! That's so good - that should have been mine!"

UPDATE: Retrocrush - which you should check out if you haven't already - is having a poll to determine the 100 worst cover songs of all time.

This Week in Weird News

Scandanavian Trekkies - A liberal politician in Finnish is has translated his campaign website into Klingon, in an attempt to lure Trekkie voters. This is about as dorky as it gets, right? But look at that campaign photograph -- he's wearing a black blazer over a retro t-shirt. Apparently hipsters aren't confined to Brooklyn, Lincoln Park and Madison, Wisonsin. Who knew?

Don't Divorce a Trained Mason - A 43 year-old German man, recently divorced from his wife showed up at their old house, measured it, cut it in half, loaded his half onto a forklift, and drove it away. Once again, this goes to show that you just don't fuck with professionally trained stone masons.

Frustrated Burglar Calls Police For Help - Another week, another 'only in Wisconsin' news story.

Mayan Priests Purify Temple after Bush Visit - This story speaks for itself. Doesn't this story make your proud of our nation's leaders?

Just For Laughs

This was the inspiration for the Bud Light commercial that first aired during the Super Bowl. Of course, Bud Light dumbed it down and took out all of the best jokes, but whatever. The original is still really funny, and The Whitest Kids U'Know have a bunch of other great video clips online.

As long as I'm posting things that made me laugh, you should check out this clip of Tracy Morgan promoting his stand-up comedy tour on a morning news show in El Paso, Texas. This clip is almost good enough to single-handedly redeem local news for 35 years of terrible journalism and all-around corniness.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Mainstream Media is Way Behind the Curve

The Walter Reed fiasco officially became a big deal last week, and today the general in charge of running the hospital, Lt. General Kevin C. Kiley, was forced into retirement. Doonesbury author Garry Trudeau was on this story LAST SPRING. Way to go, Mainstream Media!

In other news, the U.S. Attorneys scandal also broke last week. This is noteworthy because, back in December, my brother sent me this e-mail:
1) A number of US Attorneys (7) were recently forced to resign by the

(2) It turns out that a few of the US Attorneys that were forced to resign recently completed investigations of the Administration/corrupt Republican Congressmen or are currently conducting such investigations

(3) The departed US Attorneys have been replaced largely by Republican stooges and partisans that lack proper qualifications for the positions

(4) The reason the Administration is allowed to do this is an obscure provision in the updated Patriot Act which allows the Attorney General the power to appoint new US Attorneys without Congressional approval

Also in the legal realm, you might have seen that Charles Stimson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, recently called upon corporations to boycott law firms that provide pro bono work to terror suspects.

The summer after my first year in law school, I worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of New York. The man who hired me was named Mike Battle, who was then promoted from the position of U.S. Attorney W.D.N.Y to the Director of the Executive Office of the U.S. Attorney, in Washington, D.C. -- the highest-ranking US Attorney in the country. He resigned last week, and it is widely assumed that he resigned over his role in the blossoming US Attorney scandal. Did he fire people he wasn't supposed to fire, then resign to get out of the line of fire? Or, on the other hand, was he so fed up at what Attorney General Gonzalez was asking him to do that he resigned rather than go along with it?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Do They Know Its Halloween?

My appreciation of Arcade Fire continues to grow. Their new album, Neon Bible, is improving every time I listen to it. Beyond their music and boatloads of talent lies a geniune charm. They wear their celebrity lightly. I was wasting some time on YouTube the other day when I came across this fantastic video of theirs, Do They Know Its Halloween? A brilliant, star-studded parody of Band Aid's corny (if equally star-studded) Do They Know Its Christmas?, "Do They Know Its Halloween" features contributions from Arcade Fire, Jenny Lewis, Beck, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and comedian David Cross. I love it. I just wish I had found it in time for my last Halloween party.

Simul-Blogging Conference Finals Sunday

Its the biggest day of the year in college basketball, when the Big East, Big 10, and Big 12 crown their conference champions. Some scattered thoughts:

-Joakim Noah is all over the place. I don't know if he's gotten over his respiratory tract infection or if he's newly remotivated, but this guy has refound his fifth gear. Picking a guard's pocket and going coast to coast? Blocking a shot, recovering, and making a steal on the other side of the court on the very same possession? This guy is incredible.

-Okay, those Michael Jordan/Kevin Bacon advertisements for Hanes Underwear are really gay. And by that, I mean they're thematically homoerotic -- it looks like they're about to start making out with each other. Don't these guys have agents to protect their images better than this? If either of these guys ever has to play "tough" again, will anybody believe it?

-For some reason, everybody loves analogizing Al Horford and Corey Brewer to past and present NBA players -- Karl Malone and Al Jefferson for Horford, and Scottie Pippen and Shawn Marion for Corey Brewer. I have two reactions to this. First, we already know that Noah is a great player, so, if Horford and Brewer are so good, then why doesn't Florida win every game by 20 poins? They've really struggled this season, in a way that seems incongruous given their alleged level of talent. My second point is that Malone, Pippen and Marion are all known for their non-stop motors, their commitment to off-season conditioning (nobody was more fit than Karl Malone.) By contrast, the Gators have slept-walked throuh much of the season, and at times appear downright uninterested on the court. Much bas been written about the eclectic off-the-court interests these guys have -- what if they just don't like basketball very much? Are these guys going to keep improving and changing their games for 15 years?

-Joakim Noah finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocked shots. Nobody else fills up the stat sheet quite like this. Its safe to say he'll make a good pro. Plus, he's the sort of player who absolutely infuriates whoever it is he's matched up against, and you love having guys like that on your team - I don't care if he's a self-important douche.

-Okay, Joakim Noah's just accepted the most outstanding player award by breakdancing in front of everybody, then giving one of the most inarticulate, contrived, and artificial acceptance speeches I've ever heard. Good times! I love it when pampered children of French tennis players and Swedish beauty queens act like they were raised in the hood.

Kansas/Texas and Wisconsin/Ohio State

-Kevin Durant already has 22 points in the first half. This guy is incredible. He's playing in the back of the zone, which is a change from his usual position at the top of the zone. Why the change in tactics?

-At halftime, I realize that the Wisconsin game started at 2:30 instead of 3:30. I change the channel to ABC and see graphic showing the score to be Ohio State 16, Wisconsin 9. I say aloud: "Wow, is it halftime already?" I think the Badgers' football team outscored their basketball team this season.

-The game starts up again; it turns out there are six minutes left in the first half. The sad part is that this game is not especially low-scoring by Wisconsin standards.

-Ohio State's wonderful freshman center picks up his second quick foul and has to sit out the rest of the first half. Now's the time for the Badgers to make their run! If they don't get out to a lead here, they'll be in trouble in the second half.

-Both teams look really flat; nobody's playing especially well. The Badgers aren't pulling away as I had hoped. What if they're both overrated? The Badgers have played the 43rd-most difficult schedule in the country this season; is it any wonder why they've only lost four times? I'm convinced their scheduling was done by Barry Alvarez.

-Bo Ryan is a great coach and everything, but his teams play the least-interesting brand of basketball I've ever seen. I love how they protect the ball and take open shots, but does every game have to end 51-47? They look like a 1950's team. They really maximize their natural ability, but its just not fun to watch. I wonder if Norman Dale helps him draw up his game plans.

-I love how excited Alando Tucker gets after he scores a tough basket. He might be the least cool black person in the entire city of Chicago.

-Hey everybody! The Selection Sunday show starts in just a matter of minutes. The SELECTION SUNDAY SHOW. I can't wait!!! Is North Carolina going to be the #1 seed in the Eastern bracket, or in the Southeastern bracket? Is Ohio State going to be in the West or the Mid-West? Are you as on the edge of your seat as I am?

-Okay, now its official: the Badgers are going to have their asses kicked in the tournament. They've won all year by forcing their tempo onto the opposing team, and have beaten them by making fewer mistakes. But if we're having trouble doing that against mid-tempo Ohio State, we are going to be in serious trouble against running teams like North Carolina, Kansas and Texas A&M. We're not going to be able to hold any of those teams to 55 points -- its just not going to happen. All season long I've been waiting for some athletic team from the ACC or Big 12 to dictate the tempo and run us off the floor. Seriously, how would we be able to keep up?

-We are currently playing a lineup with three guards, a 6'5" small forward and a 6'10" white center who passes up open 15-foot jump shots. What happens if we have to play Texas? Alando Tucker is our second biggest man on the court, and he's my height. What happens when we play a team whose second tallest player is 6'10"? I don't see him holding Kevin Durant to fewer than 45 or 50 points.

-Back to the Kansas game. After that killer first half, Durant has cooled off considerably. Its going to be important for Texas to keep feeding him the ball though -- the only way he's going to snap this cold streak is if he keeps shooting.

-Back to the Badger game. Ohio State wins 66-49. Alando Tucker finished with 14 and 8 - that's not going to get it done in the tournament. He's a great player, but, for some reason, Ohio State just has his number. Once again, the Badgers fail to score 50 points.

-I think I've pinpointed the reason for Tucker's sub-par performances against Ohio State. As an undersized small forward, he's made a living by postng up larger, slower defenders and beating them to the basket. In basketball parlance, he "out-quicks" his men to the basket. Well, Greg Oden is 7'1" and has disproportionately long arms for somebody his height. You can out-quick the Ohio State forwards all day long, you've still got to get your shot over Greg Oden in order to score. Tucker, who's not much of an outside shooter, can't stay back and shoot over Oden in the way that most other elite small forward would be able to.

-Postgame trophy presentation. Greg Oden, on point guard Mike Conley: "I just move out of the way and let him do what he do." Amen, Greg. Amen.

-Back to Texas and Kansas. Now THIS is a basketball game. Athletes who can actually run and shoot! Good times.

-Mario Chalmers hits an absolute dagger 3-pointer to force overtime. Want to bet that Texas lets DJ Augustin shoot too much in overtime?

-A great 3-pointer off a hand-off screen gives Kansas the lead. Kevin Durant has only taken one shot in the first 3:30 of overtime. Why aren't they getting him the ball?

-Brandon Rush just came up with a ridiculous blocked shot to keep Kansas in the lead. Kansas' help defense has been spectacular all game long. If I told you that a team had the fourth-best player in the country, the deepest bench, a great coach and a deep bench, you'd be tempted to bet on them to go to the finals, right? If betting on sports was legal.

-Last 30 second of overtime. Texas just hit a crazy three to bring the margin back to two points. Note: There are 9 seconds left and Kevin Durant is 0-for-2 this overtime.

-Kansas wins 88-84. Julian Wright finishes with 19 and 8, and handled the offense being run through him to a large extent. Just a great all-around player. Brandon Rush (19 and 7, plus that key blocked shot) is officially legit, and Kansas is officially scary.

I'm going to pass on the Tournament Bracket show. I should probably do SOME work before the day is through.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring Comes to Madison

I walked out of the Multi-State Professional Responsibilities Exam this morning (which should be renamed the Multi-State Professional Bukkake Exam, but I digress) to find that today is the first day of spring in Madison. Its 47 degrees and sunny today, after being 15 degrees and windy just four days ago. Good times! In my neighborhood, State Street was full of grad students window-shopping, street artists sketching portraits, musicians playing instruments, and more skateboarders than I've seen in six months. Good times.

Wisconsin winters suck, but how much more must they have sucked 100 years ago? My 20-minute walk home is tough enough when the windchill is thirty below zero, but a similar walk in the late 1800s would have ended not in front of a tv in a heated apartment, but in front of a weak fire in a drafty room. How much would those early Wisconsinites have looked forward to the first day of spring?

Dispatches from the Wisconsin League - Week 5

Riding a three-game winning streak and coming off our second consecutive easy victory, Tremendous Upside Potential has moved into the top ten (out of 50) in our intramural league’s RPI rankings. I’m excited. In fact, I’m stoked – so much so that I’m growing a hockey-style Playoff Beard so as not to jinx our team’s good luck. Except that by saying that I probably just jinxed it. Is it dorky? Why, yes, of course, but then our team was just a flip of the coin away from being named either “Shades of Willis Reed” or “Joe Dumars and the 2003 Draft Class,” so that’s what you’re dealing with. Let’s just move on.

Going into last night’s game, we didn’t know what to expect. We were badly shorthanded. The Sam Rikkers Experience forgot his student ID, and wasn’t allowed to take the court. Permasweater had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t attend. Paul Hammond, our only left and best outside shooter, was AWOL. We were even missing our captain and fearless leader Crash Davis, who had messed up some tendons in his shoulder after a Lindsay Jacobellis-like snowboarding accident earlier in the day. Nonetheless, we weren’t too worried about having only one substitute – the other team didn’t have any.

After warming up, I walked into the half-court circle to take the jump. The opposing team’s center was only 6’1.” He sized me up, walked away, and directed his point guard into the circle. I asked: “What are you guys doing?” to which he replied “Eh, we weren’t going to win the tip anyway.” This was our competition.

We got off to a 15-0 lead off a series of transition lay-ups, put-backs, and wide-open jumpers. After a time out, they showed a zone defense, which was a sound decision on their part, as we were missing our two best perimeter shooters. A couple turnovers and bricked 3-pointers later, they had cut the margin to single digits. Their comeback was helped along by some sloppy play on our part; we made the classic mistake of looking too hard for “the perfect pass” instead of just exploiting our physical mismatches. I was as guilty as anybody else in this regard. Anybody who has played with me for any length of time knows that one of my favorite plays in basketball is the touch-pass off the offensive rebound. (Arvydas Sabonis and Tim Duncan are especially adept at this.) Twice in the first half, I jumped over my defender and, instead of plucking the ball out of the air, pushed it towards players on my team who were open under the basket. The first time I did this, my teammate under the basket clearly thought I was going to shoot it, and was looking around for a man to box out when the ball whistled past him out of bounds. The second time, Sweet Gil caught it under the basket and laid it up, only to see his shot roll around the entire perimeter of the rim before rolling out. Tough breaks, both. After a frustrating half of trial and error, we finally got organized on offense, with Gilbert in the high post, Crock Pot in the corner, and myself on the block. Spud made a couple of back-court steals, and suddenly we had the game in our hip pocket.

A bizarre sequence of events closed out the first half. After they missed a shot with about 35 seconds left, we decided to hold it for a final shot. I slipped a screen and got wide open under the basket. Spud passed me the ball, I got hacked on the way up, and the ball bounced in to the corner of the gym. The refs called the foul on the floor, instead of on the way up. The clock ticked down: 10, 9, 8 . . . “Hey, stop the clock!” I yelled. The refs just shrugged. “Can the half end on a foul?” I asked? The ref nodded, and Spud immediately called a timeout with two seconds left. Oops! We had already used our time out earlier in the half, to stop the other team’s “run.” Technical foul! The other team made both free throws, then took the ball out of bounds. “Can I just foul them?” I asked. “Um . . . sure” said the ref, and sure enough, somebody did. So that’s how the half ended – aren’t law students great?

By the start of the second half, the outcome was already more or less decided. An opposing player who looked disturbingly like the fighter Butterbean made four 3-pointers in the second half, though he hadn’t even attempted one in the first. It didn’t really matter; by this point were just killing them on the boards, and the game had devolved into the standard intramural blowout: long outlet passes, 3-pointers off the dribble, wild rebounds, errant no-look passes, shots fired before the rest of the team made it down court . . . the works. I ended up with 10 points, five blocks (including particularly satisfying one that hit the shooter on the face on the way back), and even a dunk off of a backcourt steal. Good times!

Next week: Round one of the playoffs

Friday, March 9, 2007

Great Ways to Waste Time

If you're in class or at home and have ten minutes to kill, I suggest you try to name all 50 states as fast as you can, and then try to name as many nations of the world as you can in ten minutes. Its surprisingly addictive.

I got 99 countries the first time I tried it, and 122 the second time. I tip my hat to 8yearoldsdude, who was able to name 160 out of 192 U.N. sanctioned countries in ten minutes.

I got all of the former Soviet states, but was disappointingly bad with the African countries. Also, I was surprised to find that there's a country named St. Kitts. Its actual name is "st." instead of "saint," and "kitts" instead of "Catherine's." Even when you account for the anglophilia, that's still a shockingly shorthand way to name a country. I haven't been this confused since I first read that Larry Bird's actual given name was Larry Joe Bird. Not Lawrence Joseph - Larry Joe. I can't get over the formal informality.

Thanks to 8yearoldsdude for the tip.

ADDED: If you get stuck on the nations of the world, you can use Yakko Warner as a lifeline.

Tremendous Upside Potential - The Players

I've been posting a series of stories about my intramural basketbal team, and figured CSD's loyal readers would want a summary of our . . . colorful roster. Here goes:

Crash Davis - This former baseball catcher and all-around salty bastard, his basketball philosophy consists of keeping one foot on the ground at all times and never telling anybody his last name, so as not to dishonor his family’s house. Tough, physical defender. A stocky guard, his offensive game can be described as “a poor man’s Adrian Dantley,” using his ample posterior to post up smaller guards, then bully his way to the basket or fall away for a jump-shot. Once a game, he absolutely rockets a no-look pass into traffic, which ricochets off the face of an unsuspecting defender, official, or spectator as often as it finds its intended recipient.

The Sam Rikkers Experience - I have previously written at length about Sam’s style of play here.

The Crock Pot - Heating up slowly, but never getting all that hot, this laterally challenged small forward’s game is best described as “Wally Szczerbiak without the jump shot.” Our most consistent outside shooter, his sweetest looks are the corner set-shot and, when in the key, the ugly straight-ahead bank shot over the front of the rim. His basketball instincts include the ability to avoid turnovers, anticipate cross-court passes, and get away with more defensive hacks than Rick Mahorn. Previous nicknames include “Duffel Bag” (referring to his lumpy build) and “White Molasses” (referring to his ‘agility.’)

Sweet Gil – A legitimate 15-20 ppg high school player, this forward is easily the most skilled player on the team. Could average 20 points if he wasn’t too nice of a guy to demand the ball or take a lot of shots. His help defense and mid-range jump shots are valuable commodities in the “B” league.

Permasweater – Remember that Ben Stiller movie where he’s playing pickup basketball, and the soaking-wet chest hair of the guys he’s guarding smacks Stiller in the face every time he goes up for a shot? That’s what playing against Permasweater is like. An inexperienced basketball player, but former football linemen, he hits the boards and sets bone-rattling picks. Looks a bit like the comedian Dave Attell.

Le Tigra – All hair gel, high socks and Stockton shorts, playing with Le Tigra is like playing with Derek Zoolander. He didn’t play basketball growing up, but he plays tough defense and has a hockey player’s understanding of moving without the ball.

Spud – Like a shorter version of The Sam Rikkers Experience, Spud is a former college tennis player with ridiculously quick hands and feet. Every game, he gets a couple of easy lay-ups after picking the opposing guard’s pocket in the backcourt, Dennis Johnson-style. The only member of our team who can make free throws consistently.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Newt Gingrich Is A Hypocritical Douchebag

The AP reports that Newt Gingrich had an afair while he led the witch hunt against Bill Clinton that culminated in Kenneth Starr's ridiculous Independent Counsel investigation.

Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Ron Livingston, Trent Lott, Dick Armey, Tom DeLay . . . with the track record of 1990's Republican leadership, should anybody really be surprised at Gingrich's hypocrisy during the Lewinsky affair?

The Week in Sports Links

My old friend Jack Kukoda has a guest-post on American Hockey Fan this week. Buffalo Sabres fans should definitely check it out.

Sports Illustrated has a totally unnecessary column about the most disturbing sports injuries of the television era. Not for the faint of heart.

Forbes Magazine's ranking of the best general managers in sports is one of the more bizarre things I've seen in a while. Basketball fans will reconize how absurd it is to have Kevin McHale and Billy King ranked #1 and #3. Bryan Colangelo, the best General Manager in sports, is ranked #94. Scott Pioli and Bill Polian aren't even the two top-ranked general managers in football. Any methodology that arrives at those results is fatally flawed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

"You'll Never Read Again"

The Onion News Network!!!

I am giddy with anticipation.

Added: Here is the YouTube version of the trailer. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

1,000th Visitor!

Common Sense Dancing just got its 1,000th visitor! According to my sitemeter, the 1,000th visitor logged on from Caracas, Venezuela. Ho there! Or, as you might say, "Hola!"

Crazy Lawsuits

This crazy lawsuit out of Chicago reminds me of why I never got a tattoo. The only thing less intimidating than a "Chi-Town" tattoo is a "Chi-Tonw" tattoo. I don't know how visible this tattoo is, but would you really want to call people's attention to it?

Remember the dude who sued Boy George for damages after Boy George kicked his ass outside of a gay nightclub in Los Angeles? If Boy George broke your nose, would you want to sue him? Really? And go public with the fact that Boy George kicked your ass?

Fun With Public Service Announcements!!

I don't know what to think about these 1950's Public Service Announcements. They're full of dated slang, unintentional double entendres, and stilted dialogue. They'd be funny, if they weren't sort of creepy. A typical snippet of dialogue goes something like:
-"Hey, ya know somethin'? I had a wet dream last night."
-"A wet dream, what's that?"
-"Oh, you know, when sperm comes out of your penis."

There are a bunch of these online, but my favorites are As Boys Grow, Cindy Goes To A Party, and the housewife-friendly Cooking Terms and What They Mean.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Libby Verdict

I know they're going to appeal, but I don't see how they're going to overturn this verdict, unless there was some overwhelmingly prejudicial evidentiary error, for instance if the judge overruled an objection to a properly objectionable question which ultimately prejudiced the jury against the defendant. They found him not guilty on the third count, which to me shows that they weren't politically motivated; there was enough evidence for a politically motivated jury to have reasonably found him guilty on all five counts. I can't wait for President Bush to pardon this guy! Oh man, its going to be great!

This reminds me of a classic Doonesbury cartoon about the Watergate investigation, which actually got Doonesbury banned from some conservative newspapers until massive reader protests lead to it being reinstated. Garry Trudeau is the Jon Stewart of the Baby Boom generation. Speaking of which, I can't wait to watch the Daily Show tonight.

Neon Bible Drops Today

Arcade Fire's eagerly anticipated album Neon Bible drops today, after months of leaks and rumos. The reviews on Pitchfork and Rolling reviews are favorable, but not enormously so. I won't ramble on about it, because their first album, Funeral, meant so much to me, and to so many other people, that I doubt reviews will have much effect on album sales, one way or another. If you like this type of music, you like Arcade Fire, and if you don't, you don't.

I've previously blogged about Neon Bible here, with bootleg videos of them performing five or six of its best songs.

Fans of Arcade Fire will love the New York Times Magazine article "One Very, Very Indie Band," which captures Arcade Fire's spirit better than any article I've read.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Wade Garrett Hates Ann Coulter

Oh, how I hate this bitch. Fired from her big law firm job, she moved to Washington D.C. to begin a career as a right-wing hatchet woman, who keeps her readers happy by feeding them a steady diet of ad hominem insults aimed at Democratic politicians. Most recently, she received a standing ovation at the Conservative Political Action Convention by calling John Edwards -- who is married and has raised four children -- a faggot. What family values! This media whore is on a very short list of people for whom I would not apply the breaks to avoid hitting with my car.

I'm amazed at the way in which the conservative base eats her up. First of all, the sexually repressed men in her party are madly in love with her. Because of the Republican party's positions on social issues, there are few single, educated women in their party. Coulter realizes this, and takes advantage of it by wearing revealing clothes to every public appearance. Never mind the fact that she's not pretty, or that she has an Adam's Apple, or that her emaciated frame makes her look like a Holocaust survivor, or that her awful complexion makes her face look like a patchwork of scrotum and elbow skin. She's a blond Republican! Sign me up!

A woman like Coulter can only appeal to a base that is motivated by hate. The base on the Republican party is motivated by its massive hatred of illegal immigrants, gay people, Hollywood, New York City, urban lifestyles in general, condoms, and by anybody whose love life differs from the orgasmless, once-a-week-on-saturdays, missionary position sex life that of which we all know that married conservatives happily partake. Anybody who differs with this platform on any issue, or, like Rudy Guiliani, Mitt Romney and John McCain, try to create sensible compromises between this position and mainstream America, is dismissed as being "too liberal." This is our country.

Sunday NBA: Dennis Johnson Tribute

The Boston Celtics honored Dennis Johnson, their recently departed alum, with this stirring video. I think its really well done. As you probably know by know, he was coaching in the CBA at the time of his death, and died of a heart attack suffered while working out with one of his players after practice. Dennis Johnson was a terrific player and a pretty good coach, and he had an intelligent and intense style of play, punctuated by the occasional surprisingly explosive move, which was uniquely his own. Brandon Roy is probably the best contemporary analogy.

If you want to know what Dennis Johnson was like as a player, watch this video from the 1987 Eastern Conference finals. Larry Bird makes one of the most famous steals of all-time, and feeds Johnson for the go-ahead lay-up. On that play, Johnson made three heads-up plays in three seconds: directing traffic on defense, cutting to the basket as soon as Bird touched the ball, and after shooting turned around to play tough defense on the offensive player taking it out of bounds. He didn't scream or celebrate after he scored, and was playing defense by the time the ball dropped out of the rim. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Dennis Johnson. If you were a professional athlete, isn't that how you would want to be remembered?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sunday NBA Reading

1) Chuck Klosterman's article on Gilbert Arenas in this week's "Play" is well worth reading. Klosterman does a good job of describing to a general audience what basketball fans have known for years, namely that his eccentricities are genuine, and geniunely endearing, instead of self-conscious attempts to attract media attention. The article doesn't touch on this, but Arenas' mother abandoned him at an early age by leaving him on his father's doorstep and then disappearing. His father, a struggling actor in L.A., worked odd jobs between acting gigs and at times was so poor that he and Gilbert lives out of a car for months at a time. Anyway, Arenas is an amazing story.

2) When Shaquille O'Neal retires, the NBA is going to have a difficult time filing the personality vacumn. How many stars have been so legendarily tough and yet so effortlessly charming? From a recent NY Times article: “I am the baddest big man for my age bracket,” O’Neal said. “I was the baddest at age 20 and now I am the baddest at age 35. Just get it to me and I’ll go to work.” O’Neal turns 35 Tuesday. He still is bothered by his surgically repaired left knee, which took a beating Friday night in a couple of collisions. “I am going to go home, ice it, eat some Frosted Flakes, drink a couple of vitamin waters and chill out and hopefully it will be O.K. tomorrow.” Its almost impossible not to find this endearing.

3) The San Antonio Express-News continues its terrific coverage of the NBA. What if LeBron opts out of the Tournament of the Americas this summer, and the United States blows everybody out? LeBron didn't play especially well in the World Championships last summer, in part because he doesn't have a natural position and plays mediocre perimeter defense. If Team USA replaces him and excels, a lot of people are going to have egg on their faces. Does anybody else think that the combination of Shawn Marion, Michael Redd and David Lee might be a better fit than LeBron, Carmello and Joe Johnson? When LeBron decides he wants to play in the 2008 Olympics, whose place on the team is he going to take? If he's on the team, he has to start. But he's a 6'8" forward who's been playing point for the past four seasons, who hasn't yet shown he's able to defer to an actual point guard. Does anybody else see this as a potential problem?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Friday Sports Link: The Best Hockey Game Ever?

Has any team in history dominated their sport like the Soviet Red Army? The Soviet Union won 10 of 12 Olympic gold medal between 1956 and 1992, during which time their affiliated club team, CSKA Moscow (nicknamed the Soviet Red Army), won 20 out of 22 European championships between 1969 and 1990. Though they left Russia for only a handful of games every year, players such as Vladislav Tretiak, Valery Kharlamov, Boris Mikhailov, Vladimir Petrov and Igor Larionov became household names for American hockey fans. Their coach, Viktor Tikhonov, was the long-time coach of the Soviet National team, and is considered one of the great hockey minds of all-time. This ridiculous highlight reel shows them at their best.

Every two years, they would tour North America, playing exhibition matches against North American national teams, NHL all-star teams, and NHL club teams on their home ice. Many hockey experts consider the 1972 Summit Series, between the Soviet Union and Team Canada, to be the gr1976 match between the Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens to be the greatest game every played. The formidable Red Army team was met by the Canadiens' future hall of famers Ken Dryden, Larry Robinson, Guy Lafleur, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, and Steve Shutt. Perhaps the only club sporting event that had more historically great talent on the court at the same time was the 1984 NBA finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's the video:

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Something Different

I think about stuff like this when I'm bored out of my mind in Civ Pro II.