Wednesday, August 29, 2007

on this side of the looking glass

Oh dear. There is a brouhaha on the internets about an article in cosmo about "gray rape." The author claims that the newfangled "hookup culture", fueled by booze and sexual liberation of women, (predictably presented as something horrifying and new, not something that's well known and documented as having occurred in various societies, including, oh, imperial Rome, the courts of every European nation in the 18th and nineteenth centuries, etc.) has resulted in difficulties regarding determining what rape is and is not and what is and is not rape.

Horse manure. There is nothing, I mean nothing, complicated about the law. Or rather, there is a lot complicated about the law, but the "new" factors discussed do not complicate things in the least. Most rape statutes are explicit that a drunk person cannot give consent, and therefore intercourse with them is STRICTLY RAPE, no matter what they say. And if you think about it, the law could not be otherwise if it were to be in the least bit serious about the idea of "consent". Further, most rape statutes and cases are quite clear that no means no, no matter when it is uttered, or what preceded it.

Cosmo should be ashamed of itself for implicitly spreading disinformation and openly insulting the power of the law. The legislatures and courts of the several states, in their wisdom, have spoken regarding what rape is and is not. Most have also instituted "rape shield" laws, which prohibit admission of evidence of the accusing witness's prior sexual conduct. While there are dire issues regarding proof of rape, as rape trials are often "he said-she said" affairs, implying that intoxication or prior advances by the accusing witness cloud the issue of whether an action is or is not rape is misleading, and indicative of a disregard of the legislature's judgment of what is or is not a crime. Contrary to blogger Jezebel's inane and dangerous assertion that "It's something, "date rape" I guess, but it's not rape unless I say it was, right?" , it's not the accusing witness, or Cosmo, who gets to decide what rape is. That power belongs to the legislatures and the courts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Speak American, Because You're in America

Question: "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans cannot locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?"

For those of you whose eyelids are fluttering in disbelief, she said:I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and I believe that our education, like such as in South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, that our education over here, in the U.S., should help the U.S., or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for us.

Everything about this clip pisses me off. Not only is her answer one of the dumber things I have ever heard in my life, but her transparently fake smile, her layers of make-up, her overly-rehearsed speaking style, her kiss-ass, fake-humble 'I personally believe' . . . all of it is just awful.

Its entirely possible that I'm reading too much into this, but, as I was running errands this afternoon, I heard a radio advertisement for a new program on MTV called "Newport Harbor." The ad began sentimental background music, followed by a narrator, who said: "For the past three years, you've laughed, you've cried, and you've loved along with the girls of the O.C. Now its time for MTV's next reality drama, 'Newport Beach.'" Then, as the background music swelled to a crescendo, it played a series of brief audio clips from the show, one of which featured a high school girl saying "I'm so going to Europe. I don't care, I'll disown you as my parents if I don't go to Europe."

I would hate these women with every ounce of my fiber and being even if they didn't speak like illiterates, which, by the way, they do. Apparently, our country is so wealthy that, if you are either pretty or rich, you don't have to know anything, or ever work to improve yourself. If you are both pretty and rich, you never have to give a fuck about anybody other than yourself. Those are the rules, or at least they are the rules in southern california. Admittedly, these wealthy bitches of privilege represent just a small part of our society, but this girls, like Paris Hilton, Miss South Carolina, and the girls of the O.C. and Newport Harbor, are simply adored by high school girls in this country. Collectively, they represent much of what is wrong with modern American society. That's just my two cents.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Man Crush: Manu Ginobili

As long-time readers of the blog already know, I am a big fan of the Argentinian national basketball team, and of its members who currently play in the NBA. The biggest star on team Argentina is Manu Ginobili, of the San Antonio Spurs. His full-court bounce-passes, soaring finger-rolls, last-second dishes, aggressive takes to the basket and predatory weak-side defense make him, in my eyes, one of the five or ten most exciting basketball players in the world. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself:

Thank Me At Your Convenience

Somebody has illegally uploaded the full-length movie Superbad onto this website. I don't know who did it, but, if you're into this sort of thing, you might want to watch it before the studio takes it down.

Breaking It Down, Part. 1

After more than 15 days of travelling, I'm finally back in the blogosphere. After so many time away, I didn't really know where to start, so I decided to revisit and old topic.This post got a lot of hits when I put it up a couple of weeks ago. Watching the video, I was amazed at how many of my favorite things were incorporated. This post is just to have an excuse to post the full-length videos and talk about them a little bit.

Saturday Night Fever - Travolta Takes Over the Dance Floor
The framing of this video does it no favors; it suffers from the smaller dimensions of the YouTube screen, though Travolta's dancing is electrifying, no matter how you frame it. Saturday Night Fever's music and dancing has become so iconic that I believe the excellence of the rest of the movie has been lost. Anybody with Italian grandparents will recognize aspects of their personality in Travolta's parents, and its protrayal of working-class life in white, ethnic Brooklyn is suprisingly nuanced. One of my all-time favorite minor movie characters is Travolta's older brother, who struggles to reconcile his free will and, (it is implied), his homosexuality with the priesthood vows. If you've never watched the movie in its entirety, you should add it to your NetFlix queue.

Tunak, Tunak
Jake and I have loved this since we first saw it in college, in the fall of 2001. If it doesn't make you tap your feet and want to start dancing, then I don't know what to tell you.

Alizee - L'Alize
I don't know much about the French singer Alizee, except that she's absolutely gorgeous, a sexy dancer, and a great singer. She got married at 19, after making only two albums, and, basically, nobody's heard from her since then - she just lives with her husband and is a mother to her child. Good for her and everything, but, come on, Alizee! You owe it to the men of the world to get back out there. If this video isn't enough to convince you, check out her cover of "La Isla Bonita."
Alizee - La Isla Bonita

Friday, August 24, 2007

Best Onion Article in Months

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Videogame Retrospectives has been doing an excellent job creating multipart retrospectives on classic videogame franchises like Zelda, Final Fantasy , and Metroid (so far). It's great for nostaglic purposes, and to watch the impressive evolution of these series over twenty years.

After I've retired, I figure I'll pass the time teaching the film course equivalent for videogames at a liberal arts college. This info would be perfect for teaching the young ones their roots.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fantasy Classroom

Sadly I CANNOT use my new laptop in most of my classes. Previous students had wrecked it for everyone with their internet surfing and IMing during classes, activties that we most assuredly would have emulated, I freely admit. (It actually has been working out OK, so far, no real lecture classes that would benefit from typing in class notes yet).

But this has also foiled me from starting my own Fantasy Business School League, which would have been a great source of amusement. I encourage you to do so in my stead, if possible. I was introduced to the idea last year by a friend in law school. The premise is this: in each academic setting, there are a variety of "characters" and "That Guy"s (see two posts down on Double-Pop) that say annoying things that bother well-adjusted members of the class, or chew up time with useless, inane comments. Making fun of these people is awesome, and can be good for bonding with other people who are internally banging their heads on the desk with these fools open their mouths to let loose their verbal diarrhea. Playing Fantasy Classroom allows you to turn their LAME comments into sheer ENTERTAINMENT.

After about a week of classes to figure out the class pecking order, you and a few other of the Cool Kids secretly have a draft where you select a member for your team based on their likelihood to say something completely ridiculous/useless/drawn out personal story/etc. Set the topic parameters in advance. Now, whenever one of your draftees says something that makes everyone in room 2% dumber, YOU GET POINTS!!!!

While points per comment are generally kept one-to-one, certain tangents clearly cry out for bonus points, which can be as many as 5 or even 10! if it is utterly awesome in its terribleness. You and the other league owners will agree on all points scored, any arguments are subjected to vote among all owners.

Naturally, the first rule of Fantasy Classroom is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FANTASY CLASSROOM. Of course, that is the 2nd rule as well. The league could flop quicker than you can say "XFL" if word gets out. That being said, everything else is fair game among owner agreement--trades, mid-season acquisitions, baiting or leading comments to get your rotation going, whatever. Have fun, play for drinks for each class, and now you can look forward to whatever dribble is going to spew out of That Guy's mouth.

I'm a Mac, and you need to lose weight.

Justin Long convinced me: I'm now a Mac. I purchased my first ever laptop, and made it an Apple. My girlfriend was irritated, because she thought I had purchased it because of the marketing, not due to the fact that just about every Apple owner I've talked to over the last eight years since iMacs came out in lollipop colors has been rabidly happy and excited about their choice of computer and how well it does Things In General. I told her that her grumpyness was due to her being a PC, which somehow translated into me saying that she was fat.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Social Dynamics

So first week of b-school is over. On the whole, people are nice, but you can tell there is still that feeling of being reserved by most. But not by all. Some people rise to the top of a group's awareness level for better or worse. Like "Double-Pop".

"Double-Pop" is clearly and admittedly Type-A, for starters. In several of our orientation exercises where our entire class was assembled, he had no trouble commenting several times on issues, in that way that makes everyone else not that person a little annoyed. Members of his core section already confirm that he's "that guy" in class who always has to comment, above and beyond acceptable particpation standards. He is also a fan of the pastel polo shirts, especially in the pink variety. But he also, several times this week, has worn TWO polo shirts layered on top of each other...and POPPED BOTH COLLARS.

Now the pastel polo shirt, especially in pink, is making a statement. Popping your collar like the evil coach in The Mighty Ducks is making an additional statement. But wearing two pastel polo shirts and POPPING BOTH COLLARS is the equivalent of INSISTING that people's first impression of you is that you are unmistakably a d-bag prick. Why would someone go so out of their way to make this happen? You have to put effort and conscious thought into that outfit.

The jury is still out on Double Pop. I've heard a mixture of nice things, but also the toolish things that you would expect from a double popper. Word is he wants to go into entertainment, so seeing how the universe loves to reward toolish d-bags, I'm confident he will be a mega-rich producer some day, and I'll have to take my consolation that he's not finding inner piece with his hookers and blow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

So many people are better than me at math

Today was my first day at business school. They imported all these Asian human calculators to make me feel like a dumbass when it comes to courses involving "numbers." They also pretty much told us to expect it to suck for the first semester, but you'll still like it. Similar to what Langston Hughes must have felt, my dream of golfing everyday and scoping out undergrads looks like it will soon dry up like a raisin in the sun.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I'll be spending some extra time at the Double Deuce over the next two weeks, and Jake is caught up in yet another exciting AL Central pennant race. As a result, we won't be posting much between now and the last week in August. We'll catch up with you when we get back. Until then, you are in Paul and Inspector Frank's capable hands.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Superbad "Red Band" Trailer

There used to be two online trailers for the movie Superbad: one for all audiences, and another for more mature audiences. The movie studio quickly pulled it down off the internet, which sucked, but it has recently been put back up. Here it is:Anybody who doesn't think this movie is going to be awesome should get their sense of humor checked.

An Astounding Idea Was Formed

The "Hathaway Mustache Ride" episode was rerun last weekend, and I was reminded of how much I loved this skit.Alec Baldwin has got to be the best host Saturday Night Live has ever had, rivaled only by Tom Hanks and Steve Martin. His timing is perfect, he can both set up and a straight man and be a straight man himself, and he never laughs at his own jokes or giggles at inappropriate times. Basically he's the man. Also, he used to have naked bedtop wrestling sessions with Kim Basinger, which makes him ever moreso the man.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Breaks of the Game, etc.

I recently finished reading The Breaks of the Game, the classic chronicle of the 1970s NBA (more specifically the Portland Trailblazers 1979-1980 season) written by the late David Halberstam. Much has been written about the book, so I'll spare lengthy analysis, but I will say it's one of the best sports books I have read and is a must-read for longtime NBA fans, particularly basketball geeks like Wade and myself. Halberstam does a great job of describing the general state of the NBA in the late 1970s, and along the way provides a number of fascinating and poignant profiles of individual players. The one that stuck with me the most was the story of Kermit Washington. Despite his status as an NBA All-Star, at the time the book was written, Washington - a kind-hearted and introspective player who grew up in desperate poverty and broken homes in Washington, D.C. before basically willing himself into becoming a college All-American and academic standout at American University - was still attempting to overcome both generalized feelings of inadequacy from his youth and the immense psychological weight of nearly killing Rudy Tomjanovich (literally) with one punch in an on-court brawl two years before - on the whole really compelling stuff.

Another player discussed in Halberstam's book was Paul Westphal, which reminded me of this YouTube video (embedding unfortunately disabled) - it's a recap of Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Championship between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns, a dramatic triple-overtime classic which is widely regarded as the best game in NBA Finals history. Westphal, a four-time all-NBA player with great skills and creativity, makes particularly sweet shots at 1:51, 5:53, and 6:25; likewise, his steal at 3:21 and his timeout call at the end of the second overtime are up there with Robert Horry on the clutch scale.

The highlight package is an excerpt from a collection called NBA Awesome Endings, which is sadly not available on DVD. I received the video as a gift from a friend for my 8th birthday and proceeded to basically watch it on repeat for the next two or three years. I like it because the highlight packages are produced like the old NFL Films Super Bowl specials - cool footage, overly dramatic narration and music, etc.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Winning NASCAR strategy: "Drive Fast"

A friend of the blog - I'm not supposed to say his name - may or may not have written this story for the Onion News Network.
NASCAR Coach Reveals Winning Strategy: 'Drive Fast'

The Royal Canadian Henley Turns 125

The 125th annual Royal Canadian Henley Regatta is being held in St. Catherines, Ontario this weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport of rowing, Henley is the largest race in North America, taking place over five days and drawing teams from as far away as Europe and China. Until ten years ago or so, Henley was the most traditional of races: the same events were contested year after year, including events like the 135 lb men's single and the women's 4x with coxswain, which had long fallen out of style. Though it maintains its old tradition of awarding only gold medals, in recent years it has enormously modernized itself by holding more events for high school and college-level rowers, and classifying its races by age, instead of by "class."

Traditionally, there were different experience levels for rowers: junior, intermediate, senior, and elite. Winning a race in a given weight class and experience class meant that you had to move up a class. Thus, if you won the intermediate lightweight single at a qualifying regatta, you then had to choose whether to contest the senior lightweight single, or the intermediate open weight single, but you could no longer race in the intermediate lightweight division. This system, which we copied from the British, eventually led to an overload in the senior and elite categories, where, slightly above-average rowers (say, the seventh and eighth-best guys in a winning eight-person crew) would have to choose between racing against current and former Olympians in their own experience class, or else competing against considerably larger rowers in a higher weight class. Heavyweights had the worst of it, since eventually they had nowhere else to go but the elite heavyweight class, where they had to race against the Jamie Kovens and Tom Herschmillers of the world.

The downside to Henley's modernization is its bizarre fascination with the 16 & under divisions. The 16 & under eights are always shitty, because no club has eight good rowers who are that young. The 16 & under singles are even worse, because nobody at that age is strong enough or skilled enough to row a 2000 meter course in fewer than eight or nine minutes. Then again, the club for which Jake and I used to row, the West Side Rowing Club, tends to excel in the 16 & under division, so we probably shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Anyway, if you're into rowing or just into interesting, unusual sports, you should check out the Henley this weekend. If you're in the area, you really can't miss it - just follow all of the tall, fit-looking people drinking Tim Horton's coffee and sporting unusual tan lines.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Scott Stapp Is A Douchebag

Today is the birthday of Scott Stapp, the lead singer of Creed. This is his mug shot, from when he was arrested for throwing a bottle at his wife. People have their own reasons for hating Scott Stapp, mainly because he sucks at what he does for a living (comedian David Cross refers to Creed as "the third worst band in history"), but I've always hated him because he's a sanctimonious prick who abuses his wife. His pseudo-Christian rock songs were forced down our throat by MTV, pop radio, and shopping center-playlists for five or six before, oops!, it became public that he featured prominently in a six-person sex tape along with Kid Rock and four naked young women from Florida. That's right - a six-person orgy in which two of the participants are Scott Stapp and Kid Rock. I'm pretty sure that, if you ever watched this, your face would melt off and dribble down onto the ground beneath your feet, like what happened to the Rene Belloq when he looked into the Ark of the Covenant.

Also - and this gave me unmeasurable joy - I paid a visit to Record Theater (a famous record store in Buffalo) yesterday, and found that Stapp's solo album was at the front of the $1.99 clearance bin. Awesome.

Thanks for the words: Lawyers, Guns and Money

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"We Fucked Up Fucking Up."

In addition to having to deal with the woes of being a Bills and Sabres fan, those of us that hail from Buffalo also have to deal with exceptional incompetence and corruption on the local politcal level. Mistakes and blunders with lingering negative effects that keep the city and region down from realizing its true potential are the norm. Buffaloians will nod at the following litany of the last half-century of mistakes and others will hopefully feel our pain of the poor decisions made:

- Locating the University at Buffalo in suburb swampland rather than downtown

- Placing Ralph "Teapot Dome" Wilson Stadium in a suburb instead of downtown

- Building a Metro Line that doesn't go anywhere

- Ignoring the potential of the waterfront for sixty years and counting

- Running a highway through a Frederick "Central Park" Olmstead park

- Knocking down the odd Frank Lloyd Wright building

- Deciding against using federal funds to replace an aging, overtaxed bridge to build a new "Signature Bridge" connecting to Canada and instead letting the project for a new bridge languish in obscurity. (Seriously, I was shocked the Minnesota Bridge Collapse didn't happen to the Peace Bridge. Anyone currently on-site to say how the local news is making connections?)

Anyway, the newest mistake unfolding in the City of Light is the push for a new Indian Casino downtown. Despite all evidence and studies that casinos in non-Las Vegas cities become a blight on the community--bringing added crime, social problems, and failing to deliver economic benefits promised (and even creating economic dead zones as people spend their money gambling rather than on other businesses)-- and despite the fact that there are casinos in Niagara Falls 20 minutes away in a much more tourist friendly environment, Buffalo's politicians think they can pull it off. I have no idea where the optimism is coming from. Even IF the Casino actually brought people downtown to spend, even tourists!, the city stands to make a whopping 1% of the proceeds, compared to the Indians who make over 90%. Clearly, someone is not doing the math. Once again it comes down the question, "Are you guys corrupt or incompetent?"

Anyway, while visiting this July, I had the delightful misfortune to see the TEMPORARY Casino (pictured) on July 4th, a few days after it opened. It was both hilarious and sad. Right now, it's a giant blue box with only 4 cramped rows of slot machines inside. They sell hotdogs and muffins in the snack bar, but it lacks a true restaurant, as well as blackjack, poker, roulette, and any other non-slot machine related game. How fitting that Buffalo would ONLY have the game with the absolute worst odds available to play! If the earth's crust opens up and horrific demons that feast on human misery and broken dreams escape from the hells, they will flock to this location to make it their headquarters. Excuse my class stereotyping, but based on the cars in the parking lot, and the average patron's dental work and obesity level, this casino was not bringing in the Ocean 13 whales, but rather the expected people from Cheektowaga and the East Side. The patheticness of this slot machine room was so outstanding that I was awed at Buffalo's ability to mess up beyond messing up--we fucked up fucking up beyond what was thought possible for the situation!

There is a still a little bit of hope before the "Real" Casino is build to suck away more money and blight downtown. A group is suing the Indians on the grounds that just because they buy land downtown, doesn't make it "soverign land" so they can't put a casino on it. Godspeed to those fighting the good fight. The weight of history is against them.

Don't Even Tell Me That This Isn't Cool

TrueHoop has a great post today about a Chinese artist who photoshopped the faces of NBA players and coaches into famous paintings of The Outlaws of the Marsh. The Outlaws of the Marsh is one of the four great novels of classical Chinese literature, about - you guessed correctly - 108 outlaws who live in a marsh. These fictional outlaws have inspired a great deal of traditional artwork over the years. Its probably a bit of a travesty that somebody cut-and-pasted them in this way, but the finished product looks so freakin' cool that I'm sure the original painters will forgive them.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Three Live Ones from The National

In my opinion, The National are at the same stage in their careers that the New Pornographers were in, say, early 2005, or Spoon several years before that. Like the NPs, they are talented musicians whose music is not easily described as belonging to any one genre. Like the New Pornographers, they were favorites of independent music store owners, college radio disc jockeys, and the Onion's A.V. Club for years before they broke into the semi-mainstream. Like the New Pornographers, new fans of theirs are amazed to discover the band has released a substantial amount of really good music before anybody ever really heard of them. Finally, their popularity is driven by word of mouth, and the strength of their live performances, moreso than by their music videos or commercial radio play.

Spinner's Interface is a webcast done jointly by and, in which bands play a couple of their songs and give extended interviews about their music and their influences. The songs themselves often sound a little weird, for, though they are technically live performances, they are recorded in an empty studio, making their performances more similar to something from The Charlie Rose Show than, say, Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show.

Anyway, here are three cool videos from The National's appearance on Spinner's Interface. Check it out:

Mistaken For Strangers:

Slow Show:

Apartment Story:

Jack Kukoda's Buffalo Bills Season Preview

Jack Kukoda, the stand-up comedian behind Navy Boy and Rusty the Audio Repairman, both CSD favorites, wrote a season preview for the Buffalo Bills on Football fans should check it out.

Money quote:

Our general manager and owner, who last year pledged to be more hands on, are a combined 169 years old. That's the kind of experience you're not going to find anywhere else. How many owners were members of the original AFL ownership AND played a major role in the Teapot Dome scandal? Just one: Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Because I am at work at 11:30 on a Friday

Oh, Ricardo Tubbs... dreamy.

Updated 80s icons

So while I didn't comment at the time on Wade's post regarding Transformers and other whoring out of 80s "culture" (which all was, of course, awesome marketing by toy companies), I would like to share the views of Penny Arcade, an excellent comic strip on the matter.

Penny Arcade got into legal trouble for their 2003 sexy update to Strawberry Shortcake. Something about corporations not having senses of humor. Thank goodness the interwebs preserve all.

After Transformers they realized the one bit of 80's nostaglia not ruined yet, and then did so.

And while I didn't mind Transformers, others do, so this one's for them, from vg cats.

Inspector Returns to regular half-assed blogging

So while this is clearly Wade's show, some people (and by "people" I mean "no one, really") may have been wondering where I've been for the last two months. Well, while I can't claim to have been as taxed as studying for the bar exam, I've been fairly busy with the whole going to Mexico City, jury duty, ending work at the video game publisher so I could go to business school this fall, and vacationing with the g/f (Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Canada/Buffalo, Portland for the Oregon Brewers Festival).

Let me just say that the Oregon Brewers Festival is a terrific thing. Each brewery can only bring one beer, the same amount of kegs, and the same number of kegs per day. It puts everyone on an even playing field. You get a mug and wooden tokens. 1 token gives you a few swigs, 4 fills up your tankard. A good time is had by all. And they have totally smart public transportation everywhere so getting home isn't a problem. Smart city design is truly a beautiful thing to behold in action.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Joy Division is Interpol's Collective Daddy

With Interpol's latest album, Our Love to Admire, getting a lot of press this week, I was reminded of this great, 1979 live recording of Joy Division. In case you don't know much about Joy Division, they sound like Interpol, but they got there 20 years sooner, and they dressed like guys in a rock band, instead of four dudes on their way to Fetish Night at The Fireplace.