Sunday, September 30, 2007
The History Boys - In an attempt to deflect criticism from their failing policies, the Bush administration has been stressing the historical parallels between itself and great presidential administrations of the past, particularly those of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately for . . . well, everybody, President Bush hasn't read much history, and the parallels he draws are exaggerated at best, entirely misinformed at worst. The late, great David Halberstam exposes President Bush' willful misreading of history.
Onward Christian Scholars - Friend-of-the-blog Molly Worthen, writing in the New York Times Magazine, examines the intellectual life of New St. Andrews College, an unconventional Bible college in the northwest.
Brooklyn's Fragile Ego-System - This article is based on two related, equally arrogant assumptions: 1) Manhattan makes everything that it touches cooler by association, and 2) that everybody who lives in Brooklyn would live in Manhattan if they could only afford it. The cooler Brooklyn becomes, the more like Manhattan it necessarily becomes. However, people live in Brooklyn because they can't afford to live in Manhattan. Thus, Brooklynites are uppity because they are trying to be as cool as Manhattanites, despite the fact that they 'can't afford' to live in Manhattan. In case New Yorkers have ever wondered why the rest of the country thinks they're a bunch of arrogant pricks, this article is a good place to start.
ESPN Announcer's Thoughts Wander - During the overtime of last weekend's Georgia-Alabama game, ESPN's Mike Patrick inexplicably takes a break from football to wonder aloud about Britney Spears' singing career. His fellow broadcasters are confused. On the very next play, Georgia throws a 25-yard touchdown pass to win the game. All things considered, one of the most bizarre minutes of television we've seen in a while.
UPDATE - In case "Brooklyn's Fragile Ego-System" was not quite enough to make you wan t to vomit, these two articles by the New York Times' Allen Salkin should do the trick:
Be Yourselves, Girls, Order the Rib-Eye - Breaking news! Some men enjoy dating women who like to eat food. Also, salad orderers' desperation for approval is considered unattractive by some men. Who knew? Thanks, Mr. Salkin!
Pink Shirts Welcome - If you don't think this article is douchey, then you're reading the wrong blog.
Friday, September 28, 2007
"Childrens do learn." - President George W. Bush, September 26, 2007
I'm glad to see we're making progress . . .
Thursday, September 27, 2007
1) Makes fun of stuff the hipsters talk about before hipsters even existed.
2) Fry's haircut.
3) "the underside of a charred Panzer".
Thanks to B.
What thoughts do you think ran through her head during that one minute? My guess is that it was "hmmmm . . . well, here goes nothing"
This article reminds me of this classic post from the late, much-lamented blog, Veiled Conceit. Apparently, these pathetic crossword-puzzle couples are falling in love all over the place. Who knew? To think that all of those lonely upper west-siders, sitting alone in a coffeeshop on a friday night, sipping a glass of red wine and doing a book of Will Shortz puzzles, might actually find love at the next American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! Stamford, Connecticut should stock up on those NYC Subway condoms, so the lucky couple can spell complicated words with the wrappers!
Also, and this is a little unrelated, but, say what you will about Amelie Gilette, Buck Nasty or Silky Johnston, but nobody was as big of a playa hater as the guys at Veiled Conceit. To take a happy (if totally pretentious and obnoxious) couple's special day and, under a photo of the couple at the altar, put the caption "Let the fucking begin" or "nine letter word, starting with 'p,' for what he'll do to her tonight."
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Ebert's print review is even better than Siskel & Ebert's television review, and is definitely worth five minutes of your time.
1) A couple was arrested for "lewd and lascivious conduct" in a Camp Randall bathroom stall. "Lewd and lascivious conduct" is legalese for "fucking." Hey, sometimes you gotta drop the hammer, but in a stadium of 80,000 people? My favorite part of the article is that, after the couple was separated so that they could be interviewed seperately, the man asked the woman "By the way, what is your name, again?"
2) A suicidal student has escaped from the University of Wisconsin Hospital, and is apparently still at large. Oh, and he's armed with a gun he took from a security guard.
3) A monkey picked a lock and escaped from the Vilas Park Zoo twice in the span of two weeks. Stephen Colbert got ahold of the story, which can't fail to work wonders for Madison's image.
As America's most famous bouncer, I've cleaned up more than my share of troubled institutions. I expect a call from University of Wisconsin Chancellor John D. Wiley any day now. I may have to call in James Dalton for backup on #2.
2) The Painted Area's international basketball power rankings. Spain and Argentina are far more legit than people realize. Granted, I've got man-crushes on half of Argentina's roster, but this year they were runners-up to the United States, despite the fact that they were missing four of their five starters and six of their top nine players overall. Luis Scola, without any assistance, scored 20 points against the United States on only 12 shots. Ginobili is one of the top-ten players in the NBA. Luis Scola would be an all-star in the Eastern Conference, but, as it is, he's merely a two-time Euro League MVP. Andres Nocioni is a rich man's Shane Battier, though nobody, including John Paxson, realizes it. And Walter "Fabio" Herrmann averaged 18.8 points per game on 47% 3-point shooting for the Bobcats last season. Okay, I'll stop rambling.
3) Truehoop's Analysis of the different statistical metrics used to evaluate professional basketball players.
4) Some sweet highlights of the incoming class of college freshmen, including Kevin Love (UCLA), O.J. Mayo (USC), Eric Gordon (Indiana) (here and here), and Buffalo's own Johnny Flynn (Syracuse University.)
Thanks for the words: Zo's Thoughts
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Lately, the video for Feist's "1, 2, 3, 4" has been receiving a lot of attention, in part because Feist is a good singer, in part because she is very pretty, and in large part because it is featured prominently in advertisement for the iPod nano, which Apple insists on cramming down our throat during every commercial break of every football game that's been played this month. Mainly, though, it is receiving a lot of attention beacause it is a great music video.
Early music videos featured quick, montage-style editing with a lot of cutting from camera to camera; film professors still refer to this as "MTV editing." That's more effective for some songs than for others, but, from the artist's point of view, one benefit of that style of editing is that it makes it easy to disguise certain things, for instance the singer's inability to dance. If you want to see a great example of this, look at what Gary Condon did to Catherine Zeta Jones' dance scenes in the movie "Chicago." Do you ever see her take more than two consecutive steps, before the camera cuts away?
When I was a sophomore in college, I took a course called American Film Comedy, taught by a professor named Michael Roemer. On its face, the subject matter of the course was perhaps the least weighty of any course that I took in college. However, Roemer was a great teacher, and such a wise old man in a Maury Schwartz sort of way, that a disproportionate number of his maxims stuck with me. In that course, we watched a lot of silent movies by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, as well as a number of classic comedy musicals, like Singing In the Rain. He told us that there are a lot of different ways in which to be artistic, but one of them is to do something that nobody else can do, and to show the audience that you did it without assistance. Old American films - those of Chaplin, Keaton, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly, among others - were known for their long, single-camera takes, in which the audience could enjoy their enormous physical skills with the appreciation that no movie tricks or fancy editing had been used to make the performers appear more skilled than they actually were. Think of Donald O'Connor's "Make 'em Laugh" number from Singing in the Rain, and contrast it Chicago's "All That Jazz." He lamented that American comedies and action movies had gotten away from this, and, I suppose, MTV is the epitome of the modern style of editing.
What makes Feist's video an classic, in my opinion, is the enormous amount of imaginative, choreographic and cinematographic skill it takes to pull off such an intricate song and dance routine in a single take. Another recent music video, that would make Professor Roemer proud is Ok, Go! "Here It Goes Again," which, though less ambitions than "1, 2, 3, 4" is nonetheless brilliant in its choreography and perfect execution. Here it is:
Monday, September 24, 2007
"The shift is playing out in new, unanticipated ways on the dating front. Women are encountering forms of hostility they weren’t prepared to meet, and are trying to figure out how to balance pride in their accomplishments against their perceived need to bolster the egos of the men they date.
I suppose Williams will tell us why this is true in the coming paragraphs.
A lot of young women “are of two minds,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families, a research organization. “On one hand, they’re proud of their achievements, and they think they want a man who shares house chores and child care. But on the other hand they’re scared by their own achievement, and they’re a little nervous having a man who won’t be the main breadwinner. These are old tapes running in their head: ‘This is how you get a man.’ ”
Ms. Coontz, despite being director of research, fails to cite any research to prove her point. Curious.
YOUNG affluent women say they are learning to advertise their good fortune in a manner very different from their male counterparts. For men, it is accepted, even desirable, to flaunt their high status. Not so for many women.
I would posit that you would get a great diversity of opinions on that subject.
“Very, very early in a date,” said Anna Rosenmann, 28, who founded a company called Eco Consulting LA, in Los Angeles, and earns up to $150,000 a year, “a man will drop comments on how much his sales team had made for the year, which meant his bonus was blah, blah, blah.”
Stop dating tools, Anna.
But, she said, “that’s not how we were raised.”
Good for you! Date men who were likewise raised!
Instead, she said, she starts out dates being discreet. “I don’t talk about myself,” she said. “When people ask me, I’m going to be very honest. But I definitely don’t say, ‘My name’s Anna, I’m 28 and I own a business.’ ”
A reasonable and polite strategy for any gender.
Ms. Rosenmann said that dating considerably older men helps her avoid innuendos from younger men who feel threatened by her professional success. She said that when she has gone out at night with men her own age and has to turn in early to be fresh for work, they have commented , “Oh, Anna’s an adult, she has a real job.”
Anna, you date tools and hang out with slackers. This is a problem.
So as not to flaunt her own salary, Lori Weiss, a 29-year-old lawyer in Manhattan, has found herself clipping price tags off expensive clothes she buys on shopping binges, or hiding shopping bags in the closet just so men she was dating would not see them lying around and feel threatened by her spending power.
While this is not evident from the state of my apartment, it was my impression that closets are where bags go, and one wears clothes after removing tags. Nevertheless, Lori, it may be that a good strategy for not intimidating less well off men is not to go on shopping binges. Perhaps then they will not think you aspire to a lifestyle they could never provide. I understand you think you will be able to provide for yourself forever, but that is a foolish assumption. You may lose your job, or get sick, and then your partner will have to pick up the slack. Will he be able to afford you then? That may be the question in his mind when he looks at your Bloomies bags.
“A lot of guys don’t want to admit they have a problem with it,” she said, referring to income disparity. “They don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ But I think it’s ingrained.”
Probably, but they're doing a good job dealing with it, no? Maybe something that can be solved over time?
She said one boyfriend “wasn’t too comfortable with me paying for things” on dates, so to make him feel better, she would surrender to his wishes. The two would just “stay home and cook, or just get something cheap,” she said. “We’d skip a movie.”
What a catastrophe. A home cooked meal with your significant other. Where were the human rights agencies?
Women said the income disparity becomes obvious in all facets of dating: where you live, what you like to do for fun and how you travel. It often comes down to minimizing who they are — successful, focused women — with their dates, who may be lagging a bit behind.
Is Williams suggesting that all these women are is their incomes?
Although these women often say it is men who have issues around their higher salaries, sometimes it is the women themselves who are uncomfortable with the role reversal.
Hilary Rowland, 28, bought her first condominium when she was 18, using money she had earned from an online business started when she was 15. Last spring, Ms. Rowland, who lives in New York, started dating a 34-year-old musician.
“I usually always fly business or first,” she said in an e-mail message. “The one trip where he paid for the flight — we stayed at a friend’s place — he didn’t tell me the details, then flew us economy on a 6 a.m. flight with a two-hour stop-over, from Salt Lake City, to save money. I would have rather paid myself and flew business at a regular hour.”
If 2 hours of layover and a 6 AM flight constitute a major relationship problem for you, Hilary, you have much bigger problems than income disparity.
“When we broke up,” she added, “he was upset that I gave my ‘ex’ more gifts than I gave him. Meanwhile, the only gift I’d gotten from him was a small notepad.”
Thrupthi, don't date tools.
Ms. Rowland, like some other women interviewed, said that she has come to the conclusion that it would be easier to date someone in the same economic bracket.
“I love traveling, going to the opera and good restaurants,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be Per Se, but good food is important in my life. It’s sometimes hard to maintain the lifestyle I’m used to when I’m in a relationship with a guy who makes less than me, since I don’t want to be paying for the guy I’m with all the time.”
Hilary, I think you're just not too into these guys. If you want to make this guy a part of your life, you make it work. May I suggest the Family Circle at the Met? And, by the way, Hilary don't you have any friends who make less than you? What do you do with them?
The discomfort over who pays for what seems to be not really about money, plain and simple. Instead, it is suggestive of the complex psychology of what many of these women expect from their dates (for him to be a traditional breadwinner) and what they think they should expect (Oh, I just want him to be a nice guy).
Two competing notions do not complexity make.
On a first date at a lounge in Hell’s Kitchen, Thrupthi Reddy, 28, a brand strategist in Manhattan, watched her date down several cocktails to her one, then not even flinch when she handed the waitress her credit card. Initially miffed, she recognized her own contradictions.
Thrupthi, don't date tools. Don't go to lounges. They're full of tools, some of whom cannot afford their alcohol.
“You wonder if you’re being a hypocrite,” she recalled, “because all date long I’m telling him how independent I was, and how annoying it was that men wouldn’t date strong independent women.” (The relationship ended after six months.)
You wonder? Yes, you are. 6 months!? An strong independent woman would have paid for the drinks, and never called that tool again. As would a man. That's just rude on a first date.
Michael R. Cunningham, a psychologist who teaches in the communication department at the University of Louisville, conducted a survey of college women to see if, upon graduation, they would prefer to settle down with a high school teacher who has short workdays, summers off and spare energy to help raise children, or with a surgeon who earns eight times as much but works brutal hours. Three-quarters of the women said they would choose the teacher.
The point, Professor Cunningham said, was that young professionally oriented women have no problem dating down if the man is secure, motivated in his own field and emotionally supportive.
At least, that’s what their responses are in surveys. Talk about the subject with women a bit older — those who have been out of college long enough to be more hardened — and what you hear is ambivalence, if not downright hostility, about the income disparity.
One would think Williams will come up with a meaningful counterpoint. But one would be wrong. Nothing that follows even indirectly contradicts Cunningham.
Jade Wannell, 25, a producer at a Chicago ad agency who lives in a high-rise apartment building, started dating a 29-year-old administrator at a trucking company last year. “He was really sweet,” she said. But “he didn’t work many hours and ended up hanging out at home a lot. I was bored and didn’t feel challenged. He would finish work at 3 and want to go to the bar. The college way of life is still in them at that age. All they want to do is drink with the boys on Saturday. I was like ‘Let’s go to an art gallery’ and all he wanted to do was go to the bars.”
Jade, do not speak of men in the tone you'd use for puppies. It's not attractive. Further, this guy is a slacker, but it's not clear their incomes are vastly different. Their interests are, but that's not the point of the article, is it?
TO her, his lack of income masked a greater problem: a lack of drive.
“I have to say that I didn’t like his career, I didn’t think he had the goals of someone I would eventually like to be with or have respect for,” she said, adding, “It wasn’t the job, it was the passion.”Meaning, not the money. Exclusive from the Times: "Women do not fancy barflies." Lord.
Unyi Agba, 27, an advertising executive with a small firm in Boston, almost always dates professional men, but when she goes out with someone earning less money, there is tension. “This is a topic that’s traveled in my own female circles a lot in the last year,” she said. Across a restaurant table with a man who earns less, “it’s never explicitly said, but there are nuances,” she said. “Things are said like, ‘Boy I’m going to be really broke after this dinner.’ "
Nuances!? That's not a nuance! That's Unyi being a snob! It's about as nuanced as a shovel to the face.
And her response?
I suppose a deflecting, witty remark is completely beyond young Unyi. Does she not have friends in grad school, or just make less money? How does she deal with those dinners? Yes, I am repeating myself. But for the love of Christ!
I have a nagging feeling that, sometime in the next five-to-ten years, I am going to become a parent, and thus be subjected to years of the mindless, soul-sucking dreck that passes for children's entertainment these days. Who doesn't miss the loveable, charming, educational, masterfully executed and - occasionally - edgy humor of Sesame Street?
Update: Amelie Gilette weighs in.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Thanks for the words: Seriatim Opinions
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Rubber Buns and Liquor - Jen Adams - one of my favorite bloggers - is back, with her first post in more than three months. The renaissance festival will never be the same.
Too Deep Zone - Football Outsiders has an interesting article on the 1987 football season, the players' union strike, and the replacement players who, for four weeks, took their place. Twenty years after the fact, its still a little hard to believe that it actually happened.
Writer's Rooms - Jonathan Safran Foer compares the Rose Reading Room of the New York Public Library's main branch on 42nd street to the Grand Army Plaza Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Using the differences between the two reading rooms as a metaphor, Safran Foer makes the argument that Brooklyn is more "real" than Manhattan. Is this true, or is this just what Park Slopers (myself included, sort of) tell themselves to make themselves feel less yuppie? Brooklyn may be more real, but he brags about his 'real' library being just ten blocks away from his home . . . a triple lot brownstone at 646 2nd Avenue which he bought for more than 6 million dollars. Does that suddenly make it seem less 'real?'
Friday, September 21, 2007
Radiohead - OK Computer
By the late 90's, rock had reached its evolutionary end-point; moreso than ever before, bands were selling sizzle instead of steak. This, to me, sounded like the first "post-rock" record. Basically, every good rock album to come out in the meantime has been self-consciously retro and backwards-looking -- the White Stripes, the Strokes, Interpol, the New Pornographers, etc. Did Radiohead save rock music by destroying it? Can everything said about this album also be said about Radiohead's "Kid A?"
Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.
Angry and intelligent, this was the first rap album to really be taken seriously as art. Prior to It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, rap was largely a novelty act, producing singles like "Rapper's Delight," "White Lines," and "Walk This Way," but little of influence or lasting artistic value. Public Enemy changed all that. In a couple of years, gangster rap would come around and take hip-hop in an entirely different direction, one of braggadocio, hos and guns instead of protests,
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
This album more or less created gangster rap (which, as a genre, I detest, but whatever.) Its songs were so catchy, and its videos so incredible (has there ever been a music video better than "Ain't Nutin' But A G Thang?") that an entire nation of teenage white kids starting singing along to rap music. Air record-scratching replaced the air guitar. Rap had finally crossed over into the mainstream.
The evocative language of this album, and of the string of successful music videos it spawned - black sweaters and baseball caps, rolled joints, large, low-riding Caddilacs with hydraulic suspensions, and refrigerators stocked with forties - became so ubiquitous that its easy to forget how good the music actually was. How many rappers, after Public Enemy but before Kanye West, had such an ear for samples (love the James Brown and Parliament!), and paid such close attention to meter? Did any other rappers listen to this album and ask themselves, "hmmm, maybe if I rhymed real words with different real words, instead of rhyming a word with itself over and over again, and combined those rhymes with samples from classic soul and funk records, like Dr. Dre, instead of drum machines, abbreviations, initials, and made-up-for-rap words, my music would sound better?" Based on the music that came out during my high school and college years, I'm afraid the answer is "unfortunately not."
Outkast - The Love Below/Speakerboxx -
This record, like those of Elvis Presley, the early Rolling Stones, Motown, and Prince, showed a generation that the best and catchiest music is made when an artist is able to fuse the best of the black musical tradition with the best of the white musical tradition and create something new and altogether original.
Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction -
The best heavy metal album ever made, and heavy metal's artistic high-water mark. My friends and I owned this album, the cool kids we looked up to owned this album, and their mothers owned this album. It made people begin to take heavy metal seriously just as heavy metal - in the form of hair bands - had stopped taking itself seriously.
Nirvana - Nevermind -
This album gave rise to the grunge-rock movement, but also, eventually, and perhaps unintentionally, to Emo and the Hipsters. Everything in rock music was about being cool, Nirvana made it about being yourself. Nirvana made it about the MUSIC, not the MUSICIAN, and for that we owe them an enormous debt. Douchebags like Creed seem so ridiculous today, and yet their predecessors were dominating the airwaves - even on non-pop stations - before Nirvana. Basically, they made everybody else in the world seem like a bunch of phonies. Also, it helped that nearly all of the songs kicked ass.
Radiohead - The Bends -
Is this album influential, or just really, really, really good? That's a good question.
I've always thought of Radiohead as one of "my" bands. When I a kid, most of the rock groups that I listened to - like U2 and R.E.M - were old enough that they really belonged to my parents' generation moreso than they did my own. Nirvana and Pearl Jam started to change this, of course, but I didn't really get into them until they had already been popular for a little while. I liked Radiohead Pablo Honey when it first came out, so I was clued into the band before they released "The Bends." The first time I heard it, "The Bends" struck me as a classic rock album made by people of my generation FOR people of my generation. Sure, they were ten years older than me, but that was close enough! Finally, I was in on the ground floor with a great band. As a 15 year-old kid, that made me feel enormously cool.
Though Radiohead is cited as an inspiration by most of today's popular indie rock bands, but its hard to make the case that this album influenced either popular culture or rock music to the same extent as the other albums on this list. Still, it feels like too great of a record, and too significant of an accmplishment - to leave off the list altogether.
U2 - Achtung Baby -
First of all, let me say that I consider this to be one of the best rock albums every made. Since its release fourteen years ago, it has never left my regular cd rotation. Stylistically, it was one of the first albums to blend electronic music with hard rock, showed MTV that singers older than 25 could still be cool and that songs with "complicated lyrics" and "notes played in minor keys" could be popular. "One" is a love song for a generation whose emotional needs may outpace its ability to actually love. At the risk of over-stating my case, I would put this album alongside The Simpsons and Seinfeld as one of the major cultural influences that made me say to myself: "What if everything you take for granted is bullshit? What if the old genres are cliche? What if the people who swallow everything that the news, and Hollywood, and MTV force-feeds them are just a pack of assholes?" Perhaps this album didn't influence music as much as the other albums on this list, but it influenced me personally in a way that few other albums have.
De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising -
This was the first album I ever heard that blended rap and r&b to create a lyrically sophisticated, danceable sound that I hadn't heard before. Man, these guys sounded good. I see shades of them in Outkast, Kanye West, the Fugees, you name it.
Kanye West - College Dropout -
Is this the album when rap music grew up? I still remember where I was when I first heard "Jesus Walks" - it sounded so fundamentally different from any other song on the radio, more mature, more lyrically sophisticated, and more earnest. Overnight, serious, thoughtful rap became cool again.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
If you didn't watch NBC's Friday Night Lights last season, I'd definitely recommend Netflixing/buying the first season DVDs to see what you think.
For people who did watch, streaming video of the second season premiere can be found here.
(I haven't been able to watch it yet and probably won't be able to until this weekend, so if it happens that the show completely jumps the shark within the first hour of its second season, I apologize).
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Wade, Frank, and I have used this space in the past to express our love for professional hockey, in particular for our hometown Buffalo Sabres. This past summer, the NHL announced that on January 1, 2008, the Sabres will play the Pittsburgh Penguins on an outdoor ice surface at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. (The Sabres typically play their home games at HSBC Arena, which holds about 16,500 people). There's been a pretty solid buzz about this event in both Buffalo and Pittsburgh since news came out that it was in the works.
Tickets for the event went on sale this morning at 10am. Considering the size of Ralph Wilson Stadium (about 75,000 capacity), I figured I could afford to wait until my classes ended at 3pm to call my friends and order tickets. As it turns out, the tickets sold out in 14 minutes.
While I was surprised about how quickly the tickets went, I'm pretty confident I can scrounge up tickets between now and then. And while I generally think that outdoor games are both a nice homage to hockey's roots and a good for publicity purposes, I feel like the NHL is totally screwing the pooch on this, and their ineptitude speaks to larger issues of why the popularity of hockey has declined so greatly in America over the past decade.
(1) The NHL - not the teams - organized sales of tickets. Out of the approximately 75,000 available seats, only 42,000 were available for sale to Sabres and Penguins fans today. The rest are reserved for Sabres season ticket holders (fair enough), friends and family of the players (fair enough), Buffalo Bills Club Level season ticket holders (hmm...), Toronto Maple Leafs season ticket holders (wtf?), and Toronto Blue Jays season ticket holders (oh HELL no).
I understand that Toronto is a big hockey town - perhaps the biggest - and it's relatively close to where the game is being played, but fuck that. In a league suffering from fan apathy/lack of attendance, Buffalo and Pittsburgh currently have two of the most devoted/rabid fan bases in the league - why antagonize them by giving tickets to their biggest regular season game to fans from Toronto?
(2) Further, on Ticketmaster this morning, the NHL placed no limits on the number of tickets an individual could buy with any particular order. While there are obviously ways around such restrictions, at least it would have taken some work get around them. I can only wonder how many people signed onto Ticketmaster this morning, bought a shitload of tickets, and plan to sell them at inflated prices on EBay and Craig's List for the next three months. Awesome.
(3) The date of the game: why January 1st? Does this make any fucking sense at all? First off, contrary to popular belief, it hasn't been below freezing on New Year's Day in Buffalo for a few years now, which is a problem, considering they need to sustain a large sheet of ice outdoors for 4 hours. On the weather front, late January or early February would have been a much better call.
Also, if the NHL is trying to expand it's viewership, why place its most important game of the regular season on a day which EVERY sports fan across America reserves solely for watching college football bowl games? At this point bowl games on New Year's Day are the new NFL on Thanksgiving - how the NHL doesn't realize this is absolutely beyond me.
PS - While it breaks my heart that Chris Drury won't be wearing a Sabres uniform next season, I wanted to post this to show you why I can't wait to be in a stadium with 75,000 other Sabres fans (also, why Rick Jeanerette is the most exciting sports announcer out there).
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Anyway, I only bring all of this up because TMZ ran this photo of Amy Winehouse earlier today. Needless to say, I don't think she'll be winning the "sexiest Jewish woman" award again any time soon.
With that, I think its time to introduce the first-ever Common Sense Dancing reader's poll: Who is the world's sexiest Jew? When you vote, please cast a vote for both a man and a woman.
Her first rant of the season, about Michael Vick, Lindsay Lohan, and Cameron Diaz's surprisingly good luck with men, can be read here. I hear her on the Cameron Diaz thing, don't you? Everybody had a crush on her after she made There's Something About Mary, but that was nine years ago, and she hasn't done much in the meantime, other than get nine years older. And yet, she has as much luck with dating men as Justin Timberlake has with dating women. Does this make any sense at all? If you were one of the guys she's dated recently, would you want to go out with Cameron Diaz? I'd like to hear guys weigh in on this.
This week's rant, about the inconveniences of late-term pregnancy, is a bit of an instant classic. It reminded me - and a lot of other people - of their friends in the month before the delivery of their babies. So why is it that tv shows and movies always portray pregnancy as if its this wonderful thing? Do you know anybody who's an OB/GYN? If so, ask them how many people in the past week have come into their offices demanding that they be put into induced labor because they just can't stand being pregnant anymore. Movies and tv shows usually portray pregnancies as being such charming events, but, other than Knocked Up, when was the last time a movie portrayed a realistic pregnancy, warts and all?
Thanks for the words: Tuesday Morning Quarterback
Monday, September 17, 2007
It is a good time to remind everyone that the Patriots as you know them (we of Boston knew them as the team who were considered to have a good season if they were within a touchdown of Miami in the home game at halftime) came into existence in a season which they began 0-2. Tricky Willy Belichick was reputed to be on the hot seat after a 0-2 start and a 5-11 prior season. Needless to say, that's not how it panned out.
Everyone assumes that the Patriots aren't even trying, and that, as in seasons past, they will continue to get better as the season progresses. This view may be accurate. In fact, the fact that many people take this view is an advantage to the Pats. However, such views always give me flashbacks to "Dow 30,000", "Mission Accomplished" type prognostications.
Fundamentally, the Pats look good. However, in the first two games of 2001, fundamentally, they looked bloody awful. While it would clearly be too much to ask the media to put down their new chewtoy, at least Pats fans should recall this uneasy truth. The Patriots have often made people look foolish because of the simple fact that the season has 16 games, some of which are in December. Will Randy Moss look as effortless in a blizzard? Will Wes Welker be as sprightly in November if he's thrown to 15 times a game over the middle and wiped out by the likes of Polamalu each time?
The media know what they're doing. Their job is to create hype. If the Pats fail, they can "debunk" the hype. If they succeed they can write "team of destiny" or "team for the ages" stories. As the Pats are the only team about which I care viscerally (though it's impossible to wonder how I, and every Boston fan who couldn't grab the rim the last time the Celtics weren't bloody awful will react to a truly competitive Celtics club,) I must not fall into the media's trap. Though, I suppose, since none of this has led me to make a reckless purchase on credit, the larger trap has failed anyhow.
Warren G & Nate Dogg - Regulate - This gets my vote for the catchiest rap song of all-time.
Naughty By Nature - Hip Hop Hooray - You're lying if this wasn't stuck in your head for like 2 months in 1993.
Positive K - I Got A Man - This wasn't as big of a hit as some of the others, but its amazing how many people my age still have the lyrics committed to memory even 15 years later.
Paperboy - Ditty
Rob Base and DJ Easy Rock - It Takes Two The first hip-hop song I ever liked; this one goes all of the way back to 1988. How can it be nineteen years since this song came out?
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Rap Lyrics in the 1600s - Marc has a clever and well-executed take an old joke.
New York Subway Rant - Every New Yorker could add more than a few types to this list, but this is a good place to start.
Dane Cook Is A Cheap Hack - What Would Tyler Durden Do? tears Dane Cook a new asshole.
Nixon Peabody Pats Itself On the Back - Above The Law has the story of how Nixon Peabody, upstate New York's biggest law firm, commissioned a self-congratulatory theme song to reward itself for ranking highly on Fortune Magazine's list of the best places to work. Everything went downhill from there. Its an interesting story if you're into this sort of thing.
I imagine that I'll probably have to cut back quite a bit on TV this year, but I'm definitely looking forward to the return of The Wire, Friday Night Lights, and 30 Rock. For those that haven't seen it, 30 Rock is definitely worth checking out. It was a bit of an underdog at the beginning of its run, but I really feel like it came into it's own over the course of its first season. SNL veteran and all-around superbabe Tina Fey plays Liz Lemon, the executive producer of a late-night comedy and variety show that stars a Martin Lawrence-type star named Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan). While those two are generally funny, the best lines are usually reserved for Alec Baldwin, who plays a snarky, wiseass network executive. (At this point, is there any doubt that Baldwin is one of the best comic actors of his generation? The guy's delivery and timing are perfect. I totally embarassed myself at how hard I laughed at this scene in The Departed).
Anyway, here are a couple YouTube clips from the first season....
Tracy Morgan Highlights:
Alec Baldwin Kicking Ass:
The "talking like this" contest line is a home run for fans of Baldwin and Will Arnett:
These last two clips are from one of the stronger episodes of the season, in which Liz's boyfriend, recently passed over for a big promotion in New York, decides that he wants to move back to his hometown of Cleveland. The idealized representation of the midwest is hilarious, although it should be pointed out that much of the Cleveland scene is obviously filmed in New York City's Battery Park:
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Generally Jesus Freaks kinda creep me out, mainly because so many of them are hypocritical pieces of shit who prefer to use their faith as a tool for judgement of people they don't like, as opposed to inspiration for moral purity and good works. That said, even though I'm not really a believer, I generally have a lot of respect for people who put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, when it comes to helping others. I mention this because there's a lot of interesting stuff in this recent New York Times interview with star Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Tebow, a sophomore, was a high school phenom in Florida who was homeschooled by his parents, who run a Christian mission and orphanage in the Phillippines. While I sometimes shudder when I hear about the "Good News" and whatnot, I can't imagine there are many college football players - paricularly ones of Tebow's talent and fame - who are planning on spending their spring breaks working at Philippean orphanages and visiting Florida prisons.
My parents moved to the Philippines in 1985 when my dad started being a missionary there. I was born in 1987 and my family lived there until 1990. My dad has been traveling back and forth ever since. Through his ministry he’s got national evangelists who are over there and about 40-something of them who run medical clinics and churches over there. We also have an orphanage with 50 orphans. Every year he’ll take a big group of young people and some who aren’t so young. I’ve always gone every year in high school up until coming to college. Next spring break I’m looking to go again. Its been a great experience. We go into medical clinics, hospitals, prisons, market places and schools. You preach and help out. We go to the orphanage and a lot of things like that. It’s a great experience. I love going every year and I can’t wait until I go back. Every time you go you learn something different, and it changes your life even more. When you come back, you’re grateful for everything that God’s given you and you see how blessed you are. Another thing is that when you go to that orphanage and you see these kids who have nothing and have gone through heartbreak after heartbreak. You see how happy they are to have the littlest thing, just how excited they are. You really see that it’s not about possessions and such. It goes a lot deeper than that.
Also, Tebow's girlfriend has just about the biggest cans I've ever seen, so he should just keep doing whatever works for him.
Victoria Marshman, Yale '09, has been selected to be a contestant on America's Next Top Model. According to the Yale Daily News, Tory is a history major who concentrates on medieval studies, and she has apparently never modeled before.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The Four Tops - "I Need Your Lovin'"
The Temptations - "Get Ready"
The Temptations - "Just My Imagination"
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - "The Tracks of My Tears" -
PS - An archive of Lithwick columns can be found here.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This is by far the best stadium prank I've seen since the famous Yale/Harvard prank of 2004. The video features two friends - both of whom work for College Humor - who for some time have been engaged in a so-called "Prank War." Knowing that Friend #1 will be at a Yankees/Mariners game with his girlfriend, Friend #2 arranges to have a fake wedding proposal annoucement read during the 5th inning of the game. Before Friend #1 has a chance to react, his girlfriend actually says yes to the proposal, at which point he has to try to explain that it wasn't him who put up the annoucement. Things escalate to the point that he says "I don't want to fucking marry you!," which earns him a pretty solid slap. One wonders how much further these pranks can go before these guys can't be friends anymore.
"I'll Understand If Tomorrow You Want to Take Me Out of Your Top 8....":
If the male dog had to row twice a day, this video could also be successfully called "Senior Week 2005." Probably not safe for work, if you have the misfortune of working somewhere that looks down upon its employees watching videos of dogs, in the words of my high school English teacher, bumping nasties.
This Just In, Fox News Anchors Are Racist Pricks:
For me Fox News is pretty much beyond comment at this point, but this video has some greatest hits of the genre.
"Kind of Like a Dueling Banjos....":
This is a video of the Sarah Silverman scene from "The Aristocrats." One of my classmates made a reference to it last night so I watched it again - I can't think of many times I've laughed harder in my life than the last line about Joe Franklin.
-I don't want to hear anybody compare Greg Oden to Sam Bowie. In 1984, Portland drafted Kentucky center Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan, and Bowie went on to have a short, injury-plagued career while Jordan became the best player of all time. Revisionist histories of that draft are easy to write, but, back when the U.S. Olympic team was restricted to amateur players, Sam Bowie made the team as an 18 year-old, making him the first player to ever play on the U.S. Olympic team without having played in a college game. He was an all-american center at Kentucky, and, going into the 1984 draft, Portland had a gaping whole at center and, in Clyde Drexler, a 23 year-old future hall of famer at Michael Jordan's position of shooting guard. If sportswriters rush to analogize Kevin Durant to Michael Jordan and Greg Oden to Sam Bowie, they will do all four individuals a disservice and risk ruining a young man's confidence and self-esteem for the rest of his career.
-Before the draft, I said here that the Trailblazers should draft Kevin Durant, because he was not only the best player in the draft, but also the best compliment to the outstanding young players they already had on their team. Instead, they drafted a center, traded Zach Randolph for cents on the dollar to open up a starting position at power forward, then moved LaMarcus Aldridge from center to power forward. The Blazers are going to have to make do with a team dismantled to make room for a player who is no longer there. I was a big fan of the rest of their draft - Rudy Fernandez and Josh McRoberts - and you can certainly do worse than a young team built around Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Sergio Rodriguez, but their team is now build around a hole.
-As sports medicine has improved, full recoveries from this sort of injury are increasingly common. In recent years, Jason Kidd and Amare Stodemire have show that it takes two years to fully recover from microfracture surgery. Assuming the standard NBA all-star is effective into his mid-30s, then the Blazers have lost approximately 10% of Oden's value to this injury, not to mention a similar amount of the effective careers of their other young stars. Even if Oden is back to his old self in 2009, he will have lost out on a significant amount of seasoning to his microfracture.
-We can more or less give Kevin Durant the Rookie of the Year Award right now, and that's okay with me, but will Oden's lack of a true rookie season get in the way of their developing a long-term rivalry like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson enjoyed for so long?
PS - So it doesn't seem that I'm trying to make light of rape or Police abuse, it seems likely from both the main article and the related ones (here and here) that Matt was lying about the entire episode. Once again, it's just strange to read such grisly stuff about a kid I hadn't seen since we were in 8th Grade, playing touch football at recess at Mt. St. Joe's.
Live From Congress: The Skull Fucking Bill Of 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In case you haven't seen her play, Dee's game - all pull-up jumpers, parabolic 3-pointers, and whipped no-look passes - bring to mind the late Pistol Pete Maravich.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Today brought some good news; apparently Everett has regained limited movement in his arms and legs, and the swelling of his spinal column has been kept to a minimum. There is apparently no infection.
The last time an NFL player was paralyzed was 1991, when Mike Utley was paralyzed from the chest down. Prior to Utley, two players in the previous fifteen years had been paralyzed by injuries sustained on the field. On the play that caused Utley's injury, his head was down when it rammed into another player's chest, and was forced downwards by the force of the collision. In the wake of that injury, coaches at every level of football, posters in ever locker room, and broadcasters on every network have emphasized the importance of keeping one's head up when making a hit. To the casual fan, one of the scariest parts about Everett's injury is that his tackling form on the play was close to perfect. Even when perfect form is used, a helmeted head can be hit with enough force to snap it backwards with sufficient force to break a professional athlete's neck.
This perfect-form injury raises all sorts of ethical questions. Absent improper form, can athlete hit another athlete hard enough to break his neck, without the assistance of steroids?
Can a person, in good conscience, enjoy a sport in which the athletes are nakedly wounding themselves for our amusement?
Have NFL fans made peace with the fact that, once every eight or nine years, a player is paralyzed?
If so, have they made peace with the fact that a significant number of retired players report that they now experience chronic headaches and consistent short-term memory loss, from sustaining repeated concussions and blows to the head during their playing career? What about the comparatively lucky players, who are able to play full careers without sustaining neurological or spinal injuries, but who, later in life, need help getting out of bed, or up a flight of stairs, because their joints have been ruined by years of constant pounding? Not to mention all of the players whose careers were cut short by torn ligaments and compound fractures.
Moreso than any other sport, NFL players suffer the consequences of earning a living playing a contact sport. I continue to love and root for my hometown Buffalo Bills, but I would suspect that I am not the only fan whose love of the game has been mitigated by my awareness of the toll it takes on the players who are paid so well to entertain us on Sundays and Monday nights.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Obviously Peyton Manning has been ridiculously over-exposed in commercials the past few seasons. However it continues to surprise me that people still have the impression that he's boring or a football robot: I thought when he hosted SNL he was the funniest person on the show - particularly the classic United Way skit - and he does a pretty good job with the corny material that's generally written for commercials.
By now I'm sure you can gather it was a pretty mediocre film, but the opening scene - a music video of Grant's former group called "PoP! Goes My Heart" - was awesome, and definitely qualifies as one of the best 80s music video parodies I've ever seen:
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Their pick - "Ramble Tamble" by Credence Clearwater Revival - is certainly a good choice, based on the criteria they lay out. However, when you eliminate all "classic rock staples," you eliminate everybody's top ten picks right off the bat. Seriously, stop ten people on the street and ask them to name the ten rockin'-est songs of all time. How many of them are staples of classic rock radio? It disqualifies "Born to Run," Cream's cover of "Crossroads," and everything that Led Zeppelin ever released.
So, what's left? My pick would be The Rolling Stones' "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'." Its pretty famous, in the big scheme of things, but, since it isn't one of the Stones' ten or fifteen most-played songs, I do not believe it qualifies as a classic rock radio staple under any definition of the term. Check it out for yourself:
Friday, September 7, 2007
A typical exchange:
Wade Garrett: "Pardon me, sir. Do you know how to get to a restaurant called Calhoun's On The River?"
Tennessee Guy: "Sure do. That's on Neyland Drive, but you don't want to drive there because of the one-way streets; it'd be easier to just park here and walk. What you do is you walk that way, down the little path between those two sets of pine trees, make a left, then the path forks and you want to bend back around to the right to a little like riverwalk, then you take that down two blocks or so, past like two or three boats, I think three boats, pass under a bridge, and then you'll see another parking lot and its at the far end of the parking lot. That's the back of the restaurant, the front is on the water. If the stadium comes into view around the bend then you've gone too far. Aw heck, just follow me, I don't want you guys to get lost."
Wade Garrett: "That's really nice of you, but really, we didn't mean to bother you, I'm sure we'll be able to find it."
Tennessee Guy: "No, that's allright, you all aren't from around here and you're dressed up and I want to make sure you make it to dinner on-time."
Four or five times over the course of the weekend, I asked strangers for directions - the concierge at the hotel, a random guy on the street, and a couple of gas station attendants. Every time, I got lengthy and elaborately detailed directions, full of landmarks and streets to avoid and places to see along the way. Twice, people stopped what they were doing and told me to follow them. Every time, I immediately found what I was looking for.
The people I met in Tennessee were the nicest I've ever met; far warmer and more generous to strangers than people in Wisconsin, despite the upper midwest's reputation for hospitality. The smiles of waiters and baristas seem more genuine, and the somewhat wordier style of greeting and thanking people - its always "you're certainly welcome", "how y'all doin' this morning," "thank you kindly," "much obliged," and so on - charmed me completely.