Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Year In Words

I read 37 books this year - 23 novels, 4 other works of fiction, and 10 non-fiction. Far too few of them were library books.

Best Fiction I read in 2008

Libra, Underworld and Falling Man by Don DeLillo
Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
The Sportswriter and Independence Day, by Richard Ford
Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Saturday, by Ian McEwan

Best Non-Fiction I read in 2008

The Third Chimpanzee, by Jared Diamond
The Year of Magical Thinking and Political Fictions, by Joan Didion
The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright
The Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson

Most Underrated
Richard Ford's The Sportswriter and Independence Day, about novelist turned sportswriter turned real estate broker Frank Bascombe, stand beside John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom novels in the way they capture the nuances of everyday life for a regular guy in changing times. Set in New Jersey, one might say that they are the literary answer to middle-period Bruce Springsteen. I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

Books That Feel Our Pain
Joshua Ferris' Then We Came to the End and Ed Park's Personal Days may be two of the short-list best novels ever written about work - imagine Catch-22, set in mid-sized 21st century offices - but they're more than that, they're finely observed and fully realized renderings of how young professionals live.

Prose Poetry
Marilynne Robinson's Gilead should be taught in every high school in the United States. Like The Great Gatsby, or The Catcher in the Rye, every word serves a purpose and not one word is wasted. Its just a beautiful novel, from start to finish.

Books Writers Should Read

I'm convinced that Joan Didion writes the best expository prose of any living American writer. Political Fictions and The Year of Magical Thinking are both depressing, but full of clear thinking expressed in stylish prose.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ra Ra Riot

For your consideration: A bunch of my friends are hooked on a (relatively) new band called Ra Ra Riot. Friend of the blog Crash Davis reports that they are great to see live that and that everybody at the show - including his wife - fell in love with their violin player. Here they are playing Letterman earlier this fall.

grandparents

When I visited my grandparents over the holidays, we talked about their being discriminated against as Jews in the 30s and 40s.

My grandfather talked about how, growing up in baltimore, he didn't know people hated jews until he got to college. my grandmother talked about going out on dates in college with men who would say "you can always tell a jew girl by the dark circles under her eyes" or some such. She would then inform them that she was jewish and didn't want to see them anymore.

I told them not to worry, we now had muslims as the religious minority to be suspicious of and exclusionary towards. they laughed.

Tribond

There is a single block of broadway (in somerville, you new york-centric dolts) that contains Woody's Liquors, Pini's Pizza, and Wang's chinese. It is known to a few acquaintances as "the cock block."

This is the second amazing confluence of stores in greater boston. As you drive south down the lynnway into Revere, you encounter the Wonderland Dog track (soon to be closed by fiat of the people), then a veterinarian, then a chinese restaurant. In the sustainability world, we call this "downcycling."

We gotta make our own fun up here.

(N.B. This post is not meant to imply that all chinese restaurants serve dog, all chinese people eat dog, or, frankly, that either of the previous concepts is a problem. They are made of meat, afterall)

Little Frustrations

Barnes & Noble.com delivers to addresses in New York City the business day after you place your order. This is true even if you use their 'super saver' shipping, which is free on orders above $25.00. This is very convenient.

Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble uses obscure carries (has anybody heard of "Lasership?") which require you to sign for your packages. Typically, they come to your home three days in a row during the hours you are guranteed to be at work. Then, they return the package to their warehouse, which is always located in unreconstructed Hell's Kitchen, or East New York, or across from the Marcy Avenue Projects. This is enormously inconvenient.

Have you ever been to the southern end of Hell's Kitchen? Dumpsters everywhere, windowless buildings, boarded up doors, a scattering of sketchy townhouses dropped in between warehouses and old factories, rat-filled intersections you need a Ghostbusters proton pack and a hoverboard to safely cross. What's the point of express delivery if you try to deliver it when your customers aren't home, then make them trek out to an obscure location to sign for it in person? It doesn't make any sense to me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An Exercise In Redundancy

The Celtics-Lakers basketball game on Christmas Day featured the Toyota Halftime Show, brought to you by Toyota, which was advertising its "Toyotathon of Toyotathons" clearance sale.

Today, UNC is playing West Virginia in the "Mieneke Car Care Bowl." The Flo-Max halftime report is brought to you by Flo-Max.

Weekend Links

A couple of links to relieve the post-Christmas boredom:

1) Blogs have been understandably slow this week, but Rubber Buns and Liquor (where the haterade flows like wine) is back from its long hiatus, with excellent posts "Murder, She Wrote" and the Jason Mulgrew-esque "Aperture For Destruction."

2) Noelle Hancock, a former classmate of several contributors to this blog, recently landed a book deal with Harper Collins. Her blog Just Putting It Out There is always good for some chuckles.

3) NPR's poll of the best albums of the year is pretty good. I may be risking my indie/blogger/Brooklyn credibility by saying this, but I think that Coldplay's album got shortchanged by a lot of critics this summer. Vampire Weekend are friends of friends of mine, and I think they're very promising, but I can't say that their album is the second-best that I've heard this year. But the Flight of the Conchords is deservedly in the top ten, and the now-legitimately released, once-bootlegged Bob Dylan live album is excellent.

4) According to preliminary reports, retail sales are down about 8% this year, and are down as far as 20% in the areas of clothing and electronics. Do you know what that means? If you have a gift certificate - ANY GIFT CERTIFICATE AT ALL - use it ASAP because it is only a matter of time until everything is going out of business. Well, with the possible exception of Target.

5) In these anxious times, a good possible use for a gift certificate is Personal Days, a workplace comedy by Buffalo native and former McSweeney's editor Ed Park. It gets the CSD stamp of approval. While you're at it, check out Joshua Ferris' Then We Came To the End.

6) In the NBA, both games nationally televised on Christmas day were outstanding - Spurs-Suns and Celtics-Lakers. I am an outspoken fan of the Spurs, but, at this point, every NBA fan should love the Spurs-Suns rivalry - the teams hate each other and always elevate their level of play in the other team's building. In Thursday's game, the Suns scored a tough basket in the paint to take a two-point lead with seconds remaining. The Spurs called a timeout, inbounded the ball to Tony Parker, who penetrated and kicked out to an open Roger Mason for a game-winning 3-pointer. You couldn't draw up a better ending than that - both teams scored tough baskets in the last ten seconds of a closely-fought, physical game, and Shaq and Tim Duncn both played like much younger versions of themselves. Just a great game all around. Here are the (unfortunately rather heavily pixelated) plays of the day:

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Walkmen

2008 wasn't a great year for new music, but one album which has recently caught my attention is The Walkmen's You and Me. They've been around for a few years, but this is the first time I've ever really paid attention to them. You and Me is an excellent record, and if their future albums sound anything like it, they can count me as a new fan. Here's a video:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Here's a little piece of New Jersey to help you get through the holidays:
To our "readers" and co-bloggers of the gentile persuasion, Happy Christmas! Nothing says Yuletide like an old hymn sung by Ms. Carey.



And for those in our "audience" who prefer some masculine vigor instead, the equally sultry opera basso Giorgio Tozzi sings the same. Comfort and joy indeed!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Weird Christmas Duet

Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks team up to sing "Silent Night." I keep waiting for a Saturday Night Live skit to break out, but it never happens. Merry Christmas.

The Tribe Has More Than Just Klezmer!

They also have hip-hop! Orthodox Jewish rap and reggae star Matisyahu spent the first night of Hannukah rocking the East Village under the light of a large, mirrored, rotating dreidel. He has more shows planned this week in the East Village and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. How cool is that?

When Matisyahu first hit the scene a couple of years ago, Bill Maher joked that he should form a Jewish rap super-group along with his fellow Jewish rap singers "My Son, the Doctor Dre" and "Fifty Cent, But For You, Forty-Five." I'm still eagerly waiting for this to happen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah to all the little Yankels and Yoseles out there. We don't have carols, but we do have... Klezmer!



And Jokes!

Four Jews are sitting in a restaurant in the Lower East Side. For a long time, nobody says a word. Finally, one man groans, "Oy."

"Nu?" shrugs the second man.

"Oy gevolt!" says the third.

At this the fourth man gets up from his chair and says, "Listen, if you guys don't stop talking politics, I'm leaving."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Worst Band Names of the Year

Kyle Ryan of The Onion A.V. Club has recently published his third-annual list of the worst band names of the year.

'A Nickel Bag of Funk' is a pretty bad band name. 'Coup de Ska' is worse. 'Natalie Portman's Shaved Head' is probably the worst. But 'Sega Genocide' is just corny.

Just Like the Prodigal Son, They Return

Waiting the subway station to take the train home from work today, I took a seat next to a guy wearing headphones who can only be described as looking exactly like what I expect Brother Mouzone looked like as a fifteen year old. He was blasting House of Pain's "Jump Around" on his headphones loud enough for me to hear him two seats away. The thought that House of Pain is still being taken seriously sixteen years after their debut is sort of startling to me.

Full disclosure: In seventh grade, I bought House of Pain by House of Pain. Jake and the Inspector could tell you about a few other poor decisions I made in record stores in the early nineties. Fortunately, blackmail is a two way street.

Random thought: If "Jump Around" had been the first track on the CD, how many people would have ever made it to the second track? Twenty percent? Ten percent? Less than that?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Brooklyn Bars and Pubs

Since several of this blog's contributors live in Brooklyn, and a disproportionate percentage of its readers live here, I figured this was worth sharing: a website called Shecky's has a fantastic listing of Brooklyn bars and pubs, with solid reviews of each. Check out their listings for Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Greenpoint, and Prospect Heights.

Friday, December 19, 2008

NBA Ramblings

1) Chris Paul is the best player in the NBA right now. He destroyed San Antonio two nights ago - by scoring a momentum-turning lay-up at the end of the first half, winning a jump ball over the 6'6" Manu Ginobili late in the fourth quarter, and throwing a painfully subtle alley-oop over Tim Duncan to Tyson Chandler after a baseline drive that I am not a good enough writer to describe. His team is outscoring their opponents by 28 points per 100 possessions while he is on the floor. Most seasons, Michael Jordan's teams outscored their opponents by about 20 points per 100 possessions while he was on the floor. (In fairness, LeBron is currently leading the NBA with a +/- of 29 per 100 possessions, but I think he's getting more help.)

2) The Boston Celtics are very, very good. Rajon Rondo has developed into a legitimate star in his own right, taking other teams out of their offense by getting the basketball out of their point guard's hands, and picking up the slack when Allen or Pierce is having an off-night offensively. But most importantly, his development as a ballhandler and passer has turned the once-stodgy Celtics into a running team, allowing them to get easy baskets in transition, which was their only real weakness during last year's championship run. There's a good reason why they are 24-2 at the moment.

3) Paul Millsap is really good. Jake and I have considered him to be a diamond in the rough since he entered the league three years ago, but this season Millsap has exceeded even our expectations, having posted nine consecutive double-doubles since taking over the starting power forward position from the injured Carlos Boozer. Millsap led the country in rebounding all three years he played in college, and yet he wasn't drafted until the middle of the second round, because NBA teams considered him to be too short. The fact that he was 'too short' to be a college star, and yet led the country in rebounding three straight years, outrebounding much taller players, should have been a tip-off.

4) Devin Harris is really good. This comes as a surprise to everyone except a) people who watch the University of Wisconsin and b) people who understand Avery Johnson's coaching style. Devin Harris can play.

5) David Lee is really good. Another entry in the "he puts up great numbers, but everybody writes him off because he's an inch shorter than the ideal height for a player of his position" See also Chris Paul, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Brandon Roy, Paul Millsap, Luis Scola, Charles Barkley, Dave Cowens, Wes Unseld, etc.

The Year in Music. Or,the Year in Music?

I'm a little confused - was there a year in music this year? What albums were released in 2008? Almost every working band that I listen to - The Arcade Fire, the National, Radiohead, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the New Pornographers, Rilo Kiley, Spoon, The Stars, LCD Soundsystem, the Shins, the Decemberists, Bloc Party, Interpol, the White Stripes, Of Montreal, etc. - released a new record in 2007. But in 2008, I made only four cd purchases - Jenny Lewis' Acid Tongue, Elvis Costello's Momofuku, TV On the Radio's Dear Science, and Yes, Virginia, The National's collection of B-Sides and live recordings.

All of the above-mentioned albums were very good, but I don't believe there was as much good music made in 2008 as there was in 2007. What did I miss? Does anybody have any recommendations?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

rock and roll all night, and make memos every day

Actually got off my butt and went out to a show last night.

went to see The Sunsets Quick, a band including one of springydog's classmates. I had been too lazy to listen to thier myspace tracks, and I was worried that they might be raw. But they were very tight and quite fun. The influences of of Weezer, Wilco, and to a lesser extent Pixies were very apparent. I actually mistook one of their original songs for a Pixies cover which I think speaks highly of them (or poorly of me, but let's not think too hard about that). The make good use of a horse-galloping cadence from drumming on the rim of drums that gives several songs a catchy, driving sense. I can give them an unbiased solid thumbs-up, worth the money, fun time.

We stayed for the first few songs of the next band Forsythe. They opened with an accordion/acoustic guitar duet featuring the lead singer, Emily Forsythe. This woman has an honest-to-goodness big time voice. She is maybe a little too enamored of Regina Spektor's current success using expressive vocal modulation, but she is the kind of voice you can hang a dream on. Their next song featured accordion, horn, guitar and drums that created this big, lush, strident sound reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel. It was excellent. Sadly then, the accordionist, Amelia Emmitt (who is listed as a member of Mister Sister, but that seems to be a Peoria, Il. rock septet), left the stage and the remaining members arranged themselves into a standard guitar,base, drum outfit that wasn't nearly as fun or interesting.

And then I turned into a pumpkin.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Seriously?

an expose opinion piece about hooking up? seriously. in 2008? I was going to try to ignore this, but it has been on the "most beloved" list for several days. Hell, an authority figure gave a speech about the dangers of hookup culture at my college's graduation when I was a sophomore. She gave it again when I was a senior and I thought it was tired then in 2003. I guess this is just one of those "go to the well" topics that people will always be excited to read about because it combines the prominent themes of "sex" "the world is going to hell" and "kids today." I am surprised it doesn't tell me that those who date in college (rather than hook up) are more likely to land prestigious jobs and live on the upper east side. that would have been an editorial grand slam.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

tea

I drink tea at my office. several cups a day. Coffee gives me too strong a jitter spike. tea keeps me alert without being too wired to concentrate. and managing hydration is easier. It took about 4 months for my superiors to stop giving me the hairy eyeball for drinking tea instead of coffee. There was a decidedly gendered bent to the teasing.

I drink mostly red rose black tea. I started because it was on sale once, but then I discovered that red rose comes with these lovely little china animals (hawk, fish, dog cat, duck). I collect them on my desk. They mark these nice, adult blocks of time. I finish a box every couple of months so I receive the present of the new one at just about the right interval where it is still exciting without being unattainable. I always wait until I used the last bag before taking the animal to my desk.

when I am feeling whimsical, I arrange them. sometimes I arrange them by ecosystems (who would live near whom), sometimes into food chains (who would eat whom). I might try to do phylogeny next.

I recently finished a box and had to start casting about into the other derelict tea boxes.

I had one cup of lapsang souchang. it was like drinking barbecue.

I am currently drinking oolong, which seems perfectly fine. but I really would like to get back to my animals.

bad things

holy cow was yesterday a lousy trip home on the indie music front. Due to fundraising, I left my beloved WMBR (88.1) to venture over to WERS (88.9). I was hit with the double whammy of Vampire Weekend's "one (blake's got a new face)" and the decemberists's "valerie plame." jesus, what a pair of hideous, self-satisfied, nasal bricks. and I love the decemberists. I am one of the twee-est motherfuckers I know. man, it was terrible.

If there hadn't been a stooges tribute morning show complete with uncle tupelo's version of "i want to be your dog", I might have had to switch back to audio books.

And don't get me started on AIG's "retention payments." A grossly overcompensated industry is not helping its public image.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Everything Old Is New Again

Saturday Night Live channels the Pet Shop Boys. So what if the Flight of the Conchords got there eighteen months ago? This is still pretty funny.

Wassup

1) I am currently about 500 pages into Don DeLillo's Underworld. It is amazing. People often compare Don DeLillo to Thomas Pynchon, which is bullshit. Underworld is the novel Thomas Pynchon would have written if he had more self-restraint, emotional intelligence, and compassion for his characters. Be sure to pick it up whenever you have the time to read a 900 page novel. One drawback - it isn't a very good book to read on the subway (which is where I do the lion's share of my reading these days.)

2) Tonight, as I was leaving my subway station, I observed an unwrapped condom lying right in the center of the staircase. I take it that no two people actually bonked on the subway station staircase, which suggests, in the words of David Cross, that there is some sort of sick, urban Johnny Appleseed who is walking the streets of New York, dropping used condoms, trying to grow a chud baby. Everything about this paragraph makes me want to throw up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

library

I was at the public library last night. returning an audio book of "I married a communist" and checking out "bonfire of the vanities." I hate myself for liking Philip Roth and Tom Wolfe. They tell lurid tales about the way adult white men fear that the world actual works disguised as tales about how the world actually works. It is a base kind of story-telling, and horribly engaging. I think that they have actually made me a worse person.

but then the guy behind me in line was checking out "atlas shrugged" and I didn't feel so bad about myself anymore.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This Brings Me Back to 1994

Always keep in mind that a big crab can literally flip you out of the boat.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shadowplay

I've been in a very Joy Division place lately. Here's a pretty obscure clip of one of their earliest televised performances on the BBC.


I have to say that I don't pay much attention to The Killers, because I'm not a 16 year old girl and its not 2005 anymore, but this Joy Division cover of theirs really impressed me. I half expected them to begin the video with a Chuck Klosterman spoken word poetry slam.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

How Do You Know You're In Buffalo?

I heard Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" three times yesterday - once in the car, and once in each of two different bars. Other than (possibly) Detroit, there aren't many cities in which I can picture that happening in the year 2008. Is this a reason why its fun to be home, or a reason that I no longer live here? Can it be both?

Of course, every time I hear that song, I am reminded of The Strangest Thing To Ever Happen Anywhere. I've posted this a couple of times already, so long-time readers of the blog will have to bear with me, but The Strangest Thing To Ever Happen Anywhere was a 2006 concert in Hollywood, California by the cover band Metal Skool, in which they pulled out Dennis Haskins (the actor who played Mr. Belding on Saved By the Bell) and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo out of the audience to sing "Don't Stop Believin'" with them. It only gets weirder from there - Mister Belding admitting to doing coke with the band, then swearing at the audience, Metal Skool's lead singer making half-serious gay jokes at the audience for knowing the words to the Saved By the Bell theme song, and Tony Romo trying to hit high notes during the bridge. By the end of the eight minute video, your jaw will be hanging open - just trust me on this one.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday Reading

Over this Thanksgiving week, I am reading Don DeLillo's Underworld - a book I purchased in hardcover immediately after its release and which has been on my "must-read" list ever since. I think you need to force yourself to read the classics, and even long contemporary fiction like Underworld, because there's always going to be a less challenging book to read, and it isn't easy to read a book that makes demands of its readers.

I am now a couple of days into Underworld, and I'm very impressed. It is so artfully constructed, and its prose so considered, that I am trying to pace myself in my reading of it, so I may not have a review for a while. But it is very good.

What are you reading over Thanksgiving break?

Stuck In My Head

For some reason, I haven't seen this video until now. Its kind of freaky - appropriate to the tone of the song, but not necessarily to the lyrics.


Now, Seven Nation Army - that's how you make a video:

Atlas Shrugged At the Current Financial Crisis

This piece may be the best thing from McSweeney's Internet Concern since the Hamlet-as-a-series-of-facebook-status-updates piece that just about killed the CSD staff this summer. I'm glad that sophisticated satire has more than one home on teh internets.

While we're sort of on the subject, McSweeney's is having a deal through December 17th - buy $60 worth of merchandise from their store and receive a free copy of either Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends or Nick Hornby's Shakespeare Wrote For Money. Not a bad way to stock up on Christmas presents for the literate and sincere twenty and thirty-somethings on your Christmas list.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why Buffalo Is Awesome

In Buffalo, New York you can buy a 24-pack of Labatt's Blue or Blue Light for $18.99, and said case comes with a free Buffalo Sabres stocking cap. I can think of literally nothing to make this a better deal. Its impossible.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What To Make of Greg Oden?

Portland Trailblazers center Greg Oden has been the subject of much debate lately. In high school, he led his team to three consecutive state championships in Indiana, one of the most notoriously competitive states in the country for prep basketball. As a freshman in college, he was a first-team All-American, and led Ohio State to the national championship game, where he put up 25 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocked shots against a Florida front line, all three of whose members were NBA lottery picks.

Oden sufferend a knee injury, and missed what would have been his rookie season in the NBA. He sprained his foot in the first game of this NBA season, and has played less than 180 minutes through the first twelve games of the season.

Oden is far above the league average in player efficiency, he is among the league leaders in defensive rebounding percentage, total rebounding percentage, and blocked shot percentage - before a recent mediocre performance, he was blocking 10% of shots taken by the opposing team while he was on the court. At the same time, the Trailblazers play considerably worse when Oden is on the court than they do when he is on the bench - in two recent games the team played almost 30 points worse per game with Oden on the court than they did with his backup, Joel Przybilla, on the court.

Some heavily hyped players hurt their teams, because, subconsciously, their teammates ease off a little bit when they are on the court, watching the star with the expectation that he will carry the team, effectively playing 1-on-5, whereas, without the star on the court, and the cumulative effect of five lesser players playing at the top of their game would trump having one star player and a bunch of other, passive guys. Is that what's happening with Oden? Is his timing so far off that he throws his teammates off-rhythm, even while his own personal stats are positive? As Oden continues to recover from injury and get his timing back, are the Trailblazers going to improve? Or, once opposing teams recognize his weaknesses,is he going to lost his effectiveness?

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Next Watchmen Trailer

Anticipation continues to build.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This Is Creepy And Weird

Sara Palin, former Republican Vice-Presidential nominee and Governor of Alaska, pardoned a turkey in her hometown of Wasilla this week, and gave a television interview while a man in the background feeds turkeys into a shredding machine like Gaear Grimsrud feeding Carl Showalter into a wood chipper at the end of Fargo. I don't even know what joke to make here - its hard not to stare at it like a car crash, with jaw agape.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nom

A bit of guilty, absurdist fun. So in this weeks new yorker, there is an article about an international food writer...whose name is Nom! (It is a diminutive of Naomi). Now given my unabashed love of Lolcats (go ahead, bring it on), this bit of cultural coincidence makes me very very happy. (nom is lolcat onomatopoeia for eating) How did I get here from sleeping in an igloo and shooting at polar bears? I ask myself at every day.

while we are talking about my timewasting, go to thisisindexed.com. it's great.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Portis Poetry Straight

There has been some attention paid to clinton portis on teh interwebs for his statement "portis pockets straight." This is a phrase said by clinton portis on during an interview with former redskin brian mitchell (who has a history of attacking portis on-air) and former georgetown coach john thompson. Portis was responding to attacks and perceived slights from mitchell when he uttered the phrase.

on it's face, the phrase is pretty simple. Portis claims he intended it simply as a statement that "I make dollars" or "my paycheck still arrives no matter what you [Mitchell] say." however, if this were his only intention, he could easily have said "Portis straight pockets" and it would have been immediately clear. His inversion of the last two words creates a much more complex phrase.

I was initially skeptical of the attention paid to it. The lovable Mr Irrelevant printed t-shirts with the phrase and even got portis to pose (albeit sheepishly) wearing one. I had chalked it up to that awkward (and I usually, I think, inappropriate) post-racialist version of "black people say the darnedest things." but the more I said the phrase, the more layers were present in it. below are my thoughts.

I make dollars
the sentiment that he gets his money is still the dominant one in the phrase. It now functions as an elided version of "portis' pockets are straight". They are heavy with his money.

defending his manhood
the inversion of 'straight' and 'pockets' turns 'pockets' into a noun from a verb. this allows the interpretation of "portis' pockets are straight"--his groin is heterosexual--he is a man.

alluding to langston hughes
In modern slang, 'straight' serves largely as an intensifier placed before the word it intensifies. It means, "truly" or "solely," such as Randy Moss's famous "straight cash, homey" and the somewhat antiquated "straight dope." but portis has placed 'straight' after the word it intensifies. in "we real cool" Hughes writes "we real cool/we skip school/we hang late/we strike straight". hughes uses straight as an adverb. If you read Portis' phrase the way he intended it, with 'straight' intensifying the verb "pockets", (in what manner does portis pocket his cash? straight) the construction is identical.

alliteration
"portis pockets straight." it is great to say. say it out loud. it is fun. it is easy. it rolls. the repetition of the "Po" helps keep the phrase moving. it's great.

This is not the first time portis' syntax has been the subject of serious consideration. The link is to a column by the washington post's ombudsman about a mini-scandal over the summer in which portis' slang grammar was corrected for him by an editor within quotation marks attributed to him. The question become one about whether his syntax was expressive or would embarrass him. I think we have to give CP the benefit of the doubt.

Four of Our Six Bloggers Are Very Frustrated This Morning

Please, don't apply the expression "wide right" to the field goal that Buffalo Bills placekicker Ryan Lindell missed at the end of last night's game against the Cleveland Browns. Yes, the field goal missed to the right, but then, so do many other field goals. Comparing every field goal missed to the right near the end of a close game to Norwood's miss isn't fair to anybody.

And yet . . . anybody who thought that Lindell's kick was going in clearly hasn't spent much time in Buffalo.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saving Buffalo's Untold Beauty

This past weekend, The New York Times ran an article on Buffalo, New York's architectural history. Pretty cool stuff, even if, as the article points out, much of it is currently at risk, and there is little money available with which to preserve it.

The slideshow, available here, is especially cool.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Black and White Night

Because we all need a little more Roy Orbison in our lives.

The AL Cy Young Award

Cliff Lee won the AL Cy Young Award yesterday, drawing 24 out of a possible 28 first-place votes. My own pick for the Cy Young Award, Roy Halladay, finished a distance second in the voting, with 4 first place votes.

Cliff Lee went 22-3 this season, and had an ERA of 2.65. Its difficult to argue with statistics like those, which in most seasons would allow a pitcher to run away with the award. However, Halladay was 20-11 with a 2.78 ERA and 4 complete games. Halladay pitched 22 and 2/3 more innings, had a lower WHIP (baserunners-per-inning), threw 9 complete games, struck out 36 more batters. Lee's team outscored Halladay's team by 805 runs to 714 runs. Winning 20 games on a team without a .300 hitter OR a .500 slugger isn't easy to do.

Lee had a terrific season, but Halladay had a better season. Halladay would receive my vote for the award. Lee's lead in wins and ERA jump off the page to people who don't look at statistics very closely, which is why he ran away with the award. Lee's individual statistics were good enough that he wasn't undeserving of the award . . . but he wasn't the best pitcher in the American League this year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who Else Is Excited About The Quantum of Solace?

Roger Ebert once wrote that not every man wants to be James Bond, but every boy does. Anthony Lane's review of Quantum of Solace discusses the way in which the character has changed over the years, from a playboy with a day job to a more convincing portrait on a professional killer. Of course, Lane peppers his review with hilarious one-liners, such as "the new movie gives us Bond in mourning—a condition that issues, according to Freud, in melancholy and a general indifference to life, but which causes this particular sufferer to stab people in the neck and toss them from tall buildings" and "Is Vesper truly avenged because her beloved James gets to butch it out with the flower-shirted Dominic (Greene, the movie's villain) in what looks like a Ramada Inn?" Just a must-read on several different levels.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Is Pretty Strong

Get Your War On blew my mind when Paul Smecker first introduced me to it about five years ago. Its changed a lot since then, from an inconsistently updated comic strip featuring clip art characters to a slick multi-media website featuring cartoons, articles, and animation. For me, a little bit of the fun wore off once the War on Terror gave way to the second Iraq War, and also because, as it become more popular, it lost a little of its willingness to take risks - the I-can't-believe-we're-getting-away-with-this quality was lacking. Nonetheless, the new, post-election video is pretty funny.
Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

weekend points of interest

1. buried deep in this unfocused Malcolm Gladwell article which is a riff on the new paean to Goldman Sachs lies an interesting idea--albeit one that is rather poorly linked to the actual subject, GS honcho Harvey Weinberg. Gladwell introduces several sociologists who bring us the idea of the "minority middle man." Why is Apu, the fictional proprietor of Qwik-e-mart, Indian? Why are the proprietors of corner stores in urban neighborhoods stereotypically Korean? Why did I have to change my money at Lebanese-owned hardware stores in mainland equatorial guinea? because they are minority middle men. The theory goes that because these are immigrants, excluded from the social community in which they do business, they can operate their business more effectively. Were they accepted ethnic, social, or national peers, they would be expected to participate as community members--helping the needy, not offending distant friends and relatives, allowing people to call in favors. Their outsider status allows them to be better business people because they do not care what their clients think of them after hours. interesting.

2. I went to see DBT and the Hold Steady last night. It was an almost comically bifurcated crowd. You could tell pretty quickly who was there for whom. I was there for DBT, being a sucker for southern rock in almost all of its incarnations. despite the fact that they were opening (DBT and HS decided to alternate being the opening bad on tour dates which is oddly charming), and playing to an audience dominated by Hold Steady fans, I thought they performed well. The departure of Jason Isbell is definitely felt, but they soldier on, great fun, if not mindblowing.

I was excited for the Hold Steady having read all the positive reviews. I was badly underwhelmed. they seem to be living proof that making relentlessly uptempo, middle-of-the-road-tinged-with-indie music strictly targeted to college kids is a good recipe for success. Think hyped-up jimmy eat world with little bits of the killers, and 3rd wave ska. Although not that similar musically, I could not shake the Dave Matthews feel. The frontman's demonstrative antics seemed forced and a little cheap, which is probably a decent summary of the band.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

why vote in the morning?

having read this at lost in texas, and received more than a few emails from friends who live in hyper-energized parts of massachusetts (somerville, cambridge, etc), it seems pretty clear that lots of people waited an hour or more to vote first thing in the morning. I have to ask "why"? I breezed into my polling spot at 7.35pm on the way home from work and was out in 2 minutes. I even got the polling-place PTA bake-sale goods marked down because the polling place was closing soon. what is the appeal of voting first thing in the morning? does it avoid the fear of missing out? is it a hipster thing about being first? is it the joy of wearing the "i voted" sticker and hectoring others at work all day? I don't get it.

I Love New York

The "real America, the pro-America part of America" can go shit in its hat.

Filmed on St. Mark's Place in the East Village of Manhattan, late last night:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

election things:

this article by skip gates is very good. His command of visions of a black president throughout the entirety of american history is impressive and revels some startling precience on the part of the authors. I am sure an army of research associates have been digging up these passages for months prefiguring this day, but it is still a worthy read.

I cannot help but feel irritated by the perceived involvement of other countries with our election. Releasing doves at the Eiffel tower on behalf of the citizens of Europe in support of Obama? buzz off. I felt similarly when living in Canada, I was often confronted wtih anti-bush propoganda. What role do you have in our electoral process? who cares what you all think about this? It is as neutered and pointless as my sporting a "Fuck Vincente Fox" hoodie.

we decriminalized marijuana in Massachusetts. cool. Now cops will take you pot and fine you $100. (unless they are federal cops in which case you will still go to jail forever). Generally I think this is good, but I wonder what the cops will do with all that pot. Would it be a more effective law if they smoked it in front of you? I hope the bill does not usher in a bizarre shadow economy of soft-headed opportuntists.

We also managed to trounce a ballot initiative to essentially eliminate state income tax. Althoguh I know it cements us as tax-and-spend liberals, I think ti shows foresight. "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.” - Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

President Barack Obama

Where were you when you heard the results of the Presidential election? How did you respond to the news?

I watched the returns come in at a friend's apartment, and then, between 10 and 11pm, when there had been no new results for half an hour and none seemed to be on the immediate horizon, I decided it was time to head home. As the subway briefly poked its head above ground, my cell phone beeped to let me know that I had a new message - it was from my mother, informing me that the networks had called the election for Obama. The walk home along 7th Avenue was memorable - people running out of bars and running out into the street, people shouting out of open windows, cars honking their horns. Just a fantastic scene.

If you have a story about how and when you heard the news, please share it in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Days Are Here Again

So long sad times
Go long bad times
We are rid of you at last
Howdy gay times
Cloudy gray times
You are now a thing of the past


Nobody would be so bold as to say that cloudy gray times are a thing of the past, but . . . tonight was a big night.

Election Day

People at my voting station in Brooklyn were lined up down the block at 7:00AM this morning. That's a good sign, isn't it? Politics matters again. What is the voting like where you live?

Also, I would like to give a quick shout-out to Paul Smecker, who voted early so that he could poll-watch in Pennsylvania today.

"I Would Have Gone With 'Hello'"

The Mystery Science Theater guys are back with a new show, "Cinematic Titanic." Here's a preview:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Political Stuff

Is anybody else ready for this election to be over and done with? I almost can't stand to listen to coverage of it anymore - all of the stories are either about the 'horse race,' or else they focus on various political commentators' predictions about who is going to win, and by how much. Neither of those is of very much interest to me, but then I can't blame the networks, since at this point there isn't anything of substance left to report. This election is the story that ate itself.

Did anybody see John McCain's appearance on Saturday Night Live? Wasn't that a weird way to spend half a day, just three days before the general election? One joke was hilarious - the one about him adopting an 'angry grandpa' persona for the rest of the campaign - but he looked slightly uncomfortable for the rest of his appearance, which is understandable, since he probably didn't rehearse. I'm beginning to worry that late night shows have become so important that their political content will kill the audience for real honest-to-goodness political shows like "Meet the Press."

One quick thought about the predictions: some experts are predicting Barack Obama to win the presidential election by a margin of 53-42. Does anybody else not expect that to happen? I don't know if I'd be able to handle it if it did happen - it would be as if the Buffalo Bills won the Super Bowl by sixty points or something. Has anybody ever seen an election with that big of a discrepancy in popular votes? Even Mondale and Dukakis came closer than that.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mr. November

"We are one people. We are one nation. We are wide awake, in a fake empire. And together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea, 'Yes, we can!'"


Thanks to Lost In Texas for the find.

Get your "Mr. November" t-shirts here. $18 is a small price to pay for street cred in Brooklyn, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Madison, Wisconsin, Athens, Georgia, Austin, Texas, on the north side of Chicago and probably like seven other places.

Good Writing

The Onion A.V. Club's Andy Battaglia covers David Foster Wallace's memorial service, which was held at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts last Thursday.

David Lipsky's articlein the latest issue of Rolling Stone about David Foster Wallace's last days was really well-written and surprisingly affecting. The story about how Wallace met Jonathan Franzen, and how they both moved to Syracuse to start over in life, is surprisingly affecting. If you've ever read anything by Wallace - or, for that matter, by Franzen - you really should read this article.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

bad writing

This is an actual wire lede from today:

Obama, McCain duel over economy in key states


What a horrible, horrible lede. First, it's not written in English. Obama and McCain did not duel. They were not even in the same place. They did not even discuss or debate. They did not address the economy. They just talked trash about each other with the economy as a backdrop. The states are not any more "key" than any other states. They just happen to be battleground states because of the electoral college system. The actual meaning of the lede is as follows: "Obama and McCain give slightly revised stump speeches in electorally important states." But no one wants to read that. And they are completely reasonable to not want to read it, because nothing of importance occurred, and writing a lede that comes close to the New York Post's standards does not change that shortcoming.

I think the media is suffering from a "bubble". Like many mortgages that should not have been written, and many houses that should not have been built, a lot of content should not be published, because it actively makes people dumber. While they have a right to publish it, and people have a right to read it, I don't have to pretend it's informative or educational.

Bah humbug.

Was This The Worst World Series of All Time?

Five not-particularly close games, epic rain delays, lots of strikeouts and solo homeruns, but few actual rallies, questionable managerial decisions . . . 2008 isn't going to make anybody forget 1991, 1987 or 2001 anytime soon.

Now that I think about it, the two hands-down most famous serieses of the past seven years (since the post-9/11 Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series) have been American League championship serieses between the Yankees and the Red Sox. I love that rivalry as much as everybody else, but if we don't get a couple of dramatic World Series in the near few years the sport is really going to risk losing a significant chunk of its fan base.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Old Friends Are Back

And the fact that this video isn't all that funny doesn't make me any less happy to see them again.

The first advertisement I saw with these guys was during the 1999 Thanksgiving day Detroit Lions game. The ad aired exactly once, and it damn near killed Jake and I, who were at our cousins' house for Thanksgiving dinner. Then, about six weeks went by, during which it never aired again. I remember discussing it with Jake at the time, and we both agreed that some sort of African-American group threatened to sue Budweiser for its stereotypical portrayal of black people, or else the networks just considered it to be in bad taste and refused to air it again. Then, it came back just in time for the Super Bowl and became a huge phenomenon. Then it got played out. But when it first game out it was the funniest things on tv, hands down.

Now, they're back. And . . . I think they're a little rusty. But watch it for yourself and see what you think:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Me Out Of This Skirt!

This past weekend, Jon Hamm hosted one of the funniest episodes of Saturday Night Live in recent memory. My man-crush on Jon Hamm had already reached Chris Paul and 1990 Andre Reed levels, but these two clever and self-deprecating Mad Men parodies really took it up a notch:



Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why Did It Have to Be the Cowboys?

About two weeks ago, my downstairs neighbors moved out, leaving a box of no-longer-wanted paperbacks up for grabs in the hallway behind them. I cherry-picked a copy of Bill Simmons' Now I Can Die In Peace. Hey, don't judge me - every New Yorker needs a book they can read five or ten pages at a time on the subway. Anyway, Simmons begins the book with a discourse on bandwagoning and "sports bigamy" - a subject familiar to anyone who has read his columns on ESPN.

According to Simmons, people between the ages of 20 and 40 who cheer for the Yankees, Cowboys, Braves, Raiders, Steelers, Celtics, Lakers, Bulls, Canadiens and/or Oilers without having either grown up or gone to college in their respective regions has some explaining to do. I can't say that I disagree in principle, even though I am selfishly thankful for the fact that bandwagoning Buffalo Bills supporters in other parts of the country almost single-handedly kept Buffalo's economy from collapsing in the early 1990s. A footnote to this discussion caught my attention:

"I was in college when the Emmitt/Aikman Era came together - you have never seen so many Cowboys hats and T-shirts come out of the woodwork, with an astonishing correlation between people who jumped on the Cowboys bandwagon and people who rowed crew. These were also the same people who a) hit on your girlfriend when you were away for the weekend, b) drank Bud Dry, and c) enjoyed Jim Nantz."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thoughts on the 2008 Baseball Season

Since we're all waiting for the rain to stop so that Game Three of the World Series can begin, this seemed like a good time to look back at the 2008 baseball season.

-The Tampa Bay Rays do not have a single .300 hitter, or a batter with an OBP higher than .383. Only one player, Evan Longoria, slugged greater than .500, and he missed one quarter of the season with an injury. No pitcher had more than 14 wins. Several of teir best players, particularly Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton, performed significantly worse this year than last year. How did they make it to the World Series?

-Though he won't win the Cy Young award, Roy Halladay was once again the best pitcher in the American League. Halladay led the league in WHIP (1.05), innings pitched (246), complete games (9), shutouts (2) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.28). He deservedly won the Cy Young award in 2003, and was far and away the best pitcher in 2005, when he was 12-4 with a 0.95 WHIP before a line drive back up the middle fractured his leg. I would vote for him for Cy Young this year, but the 22-3 Cliff Lee is likely to win going away.

ADDED: I forgot to mention that Halladay faced the additional challenge of playing in the best division in baseball, the American League east. 16 of his 34 starts came against Tampa Bay, Boston, or New York, and several more came against the Baltimore Orioles, who, though a losing team, still have a good lineup and play in a pitcher's park.

-Oakland's Jack Cust led the American League in both walks (111) and strikeouts (197). Out of 594 plate appearances, he made contact with the ball 284 times.

-Mike Mussina quietly won 20 games for the first time in his career. Did you know that he now has 270 career wins? When Tom Glavine won his 300th game near the end of the 2007 season, the consensus around baseball was that he was likely to be the last 300-game winner. Now, I'm not so certain.

-Another Yankee pitcher, Mariano Rivera, quietly had what may have been his best season. His WHIP was a jaw-droppingly low 0.665, and opposing batters hit only .165 off of him. Wasn't he supposed to have been washed up a couple of seasons ago?

-Everybody knows that Albert Puljols is a great player, but this season may have been his best, and it is strange to me that there is any controversy at all as to who the National League MVP ought to be. Puljols hit .357, with 37 home runs. But he also hit 44 doubles, drew 104 walks while striking out only 54 times. Ryan Howard hit 11 more home runs than Puljols, and 4 more triples. But Puljols hit 18 more doubles, 31 more singles, drew 23 more walks, and struk out a whopping 145 fewer times. With his 48 home runs, Howard slugged .543, while Puljols slugged .657. Puljols' .357 batting average was 18 points higher than Ryan Howard's on-base percentage (.339). Puljols should win, hands down.

New Watchmen Footage

Some new footage from The Watchmen movie has been released. It isn't much, but, for fans of the novel, it is something to stoke the fires of their imagination for another few months.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vagina Movie Game

So on the bus ride back from Mexico this weekend, I was introduced to the “Vagina Movie Game”. In this game, one replaces a word from a movie title with the word “Vagina”, and hilarity ensues. To excel in the game, the replacement must still make the movie recognizable, and there should be extra hilarity associated with the new inclusion of “Vagina”. For example, “A Vagina Runs Through It” is way funnier than a more pedestrian “Jurassic Vagina.” Sometime you may struggle with how to maximize the funniness in a combination—do you go with “Harry Potter and the Vagina of Secrets” or “Harry Vagina and the Chamber of Secrets” “Bill and Ted’s Excellent or Bogus Vagina”? Trust your instincts.
We played with strict rules—no substitutions like “Good Will Cunting”. IMHO here are some of my favorites:

The Vagina Whisperer
Edward Vaginahands
Butch Vagina and the Sundance Kid
Ten Things I Hate About Vagina
The Usual Vaginas
My Big Fat Greek Vagina
Vagina Wide Shut
The Vagina Temptation of Christ
Indiana Jones and the Vagina of Doom
Vaginas in the Mist
28 Vaginas Later (the best of the # titles?)
Scent of a Vagina (HOOAH)
Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Vaginas (follow up with a “Snatch” pun for a nice two hit combo)

Did we miss any good ones?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sing A Song For Them

At CSD headquarters we are beginning to come around on Jenny Lewis' new album, Acid Tongue. While we had originally hoped to hear more upbeat numbers, Acid Tongue's sad, pretty songs have begun to win us over.

Here she is, singing "Sing A Song For Them," one of our favorite songs from her new record:


And, from a recent episode of Late Night With Conan O'Brien, this poignant rendition of "Acid Tongue."


Fans of the JL will enjoy this interview, published in the most recent issue of The Onion.

She's Back

Rubber Buns and Liquor is back, after almost a year of radio silence. Jen Adams' two most recent posts are about getting contact lenses and renting her apartment out for the weekend, and, if you don't think those sound like promising subjects for blog posts, then you'll have to believe me when I say that this woman can make just about anything funny.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Noteworthy New Books

1) Marilynne Robinson's latest novel Home has been almost universally praised, and was recently nominated for a National Book Award.

2) Neal Stephenson's Anathem sounds like another of his fascinating, information-filled stories . . . but, as The New York Times asks, is it really a novel?

3) The New York Times gave John le Carre's latest novel A Most Wanted Man, won a rave review from Alan Furst, then a lukewarm review from Michiko Kukatani. The CSD staff takes this to mean that its worth reading, but we'll wait until the paperback comes out and the hardcover ends up on the $5.98 rack with all of the former best sellers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New York Magazine's 40th Birthday Party

Its only a matter of time until these get taken down, but Jake and I went to see The National on Friday at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and here are some clips from that concert that have popped up on YouTube.
Fake Empire


Secret Meeting



Start A War

Madison in the Fall

I miss Madison at this time of year - falls in that park-like city seem to last forever, the Badgers are on tv, and the farmer's market on Capitol Square is at its best.

There are dozens of beautiful photos like this one at The Other Side of the Ocean, which you should read if you're into photography, or the midwest, or food . . . basically you should just check it out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who's the Funniest Palin?

The Streets

I've almost forgotten how much I used to like The Streets. Mike Skinner's first record Original Pirate Material was both a slap in the face and a kick in the ass, combining rap, garage, and house music to create a genuinely original album that stayed stuck in my head for the better part of a year.

Inspired by the release of The Streets' new album Everything Is Borrowed, I played "Has It Come To This" for the first time in three or four years . . . and it still rocks.


Unfortunately, Everything Is Borrowed has not been well received by critics, and his next album - on which he is apparently already working - is rumored to be his last.

What are your thoughts on The Streets? Should he have called it quits after A Grand Don't Come For Free? Do you think he's going to have a long career? So long as "Has It Come To This?" and "Lets Push Things Forward" will it really matter?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sweet Voice, Acid Tongue

Jenny Lewis' second solo album, Acid Tongue, sounds somber and sparse, particularly when compared to Rilo Kiley's 80's dance-inspired recent Under the Blacklight. The album has a number of sad, pretty songs, but doesn't have as many upbeat, singalong songs as her previous records, with the exception of "Carpetbaggers," which she sings with an exceptional guest star, Elvis Costello.
Acid Tongue

Carpetbaggers (Without Elvis Costello)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

*Sigh*

"I just have to rely on the good judgment of the voters not to buy into these negative attack ads. Sooner or later, people are going to figure out if all you run is negative attack ads you don't have much of a vision for the future or you're not ready to articulate it." - John McCain, 2000

Thanks for the words: Garry Trudeau

We've posted this before, but just in case you feel like comparing the John McCain of the year 2000 to the John McCain today, here is a link to David Foster Wallace's essay "A Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Mother Tongue

I wish that more high school teachers would assign books like Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way" It is scholarly, but it is also entertain, full of vivid anecdotes and historical examples, but most important it answers the question "so what" - it gives readers compelling reasons why they should care about the words they use and about the English language in general.

Below are a few of my favorite passages, but really, you should go out and read the book for yourself - it is a wonderful of expository prose, and will make you appreciate the English language in ways you never did before.

"To appreciate the wonderfully simplifying beauty of (the system of English pronounciation) you have only to look at the problems that bedevil the Chinese and Japanese languages. There are two ways of rendering speech into writing. One is with an alphabet, such as we have, or a pictographic-ideographic system, such as the Chinese use. Chinese writing is immensely complicated. The basic unit of the Chinese written word is the radical. Radicals can stand alone or be combined to form other words. Eye and water make teardrop. Mouth and bird make song. Two women means quarrel and three women means gossip."

"Indian languages, particularly those of the eastern part of the continent, were inordinately agglomerative. As Mary Helen Dohan notes in her excellent book about the rise of American English, Our Own Words, an early translator of the Bible into Iroquoian had to devise the word kummogkodonattootummooetiteaonganunnonash for the phrase 'our question.' In Massachusetts there wa a lake the Indians called Chargoggagomanuchaugagochaubunagungamaug, which is said to translate as 'You fish on that side, we'll fish on this side, and nobody will fish in the middle.' Not surprisingly, such words were usually shortenened and modified. The English-sounding hickory was whittled out of the Indianpawcohiccora. Raugraoughcun was hacked into raccoon and isquonterquashes into squash. Hoochinoo, the name of an Indian tribe noted for its homemade liquor, produced hooch."

"Computers, with their lack of passion and admirable ability to process great streams of information, would seem to be ideal for performing translations, but in fact they are pretty hopeless at it, largely on account of their inability to come to terms with idiom, irony, and other quirks of language. An oft-cited example is the computer that was instructed to translate the expression out of sight, out of mind out of English and back again and came up with blind insanity.

"In 1977, President Carter, on a trip to Poland, wanted to tell the people, "I wish to learn your opinions and understand your desires for the future," but his interpreter made it come out as "I desire the Poles carnally." The interpreter also had the president telling the Poles that he had 'abandoned' the United States that day, instead of leaving it. After a couple of hours of such gaffes, the president wisely abandoned the interpreter."

"A glance through the British edition of Who's Who throws up a roll call that sounds disarmingly like the characters in a P.G. Wodehouse novel: Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, Captain Allwyne Arthur Compton Faraquaharson of Invercauld, PRofessor Valentine Mayneord, Sir Helenus Milmo, Lord Keith of Kinkel. Many British appellations are or truly heroic proportions, like that of the World War I admiral named Sir Regniald Aylmer Ranfulry Plunkett-Ernel-Erle-Drax. The best ones go in for a kind of gloriously silly redundancy toward the end, as with Sir Humphrey Dodington Benedict Sherston Sherston-Baker and the truly unbeatable Leone Sextus Denys Oswolf Fraduati Tollemache-Tollemache-de Orellana-Plantagenet-Tollemache-Tollemache, a British army major who died in World War I. The leading explorer in Britain today is Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes. Somewherein Britain to this day there is an old family rejoicing in the name MacGilleheatheanaich. In the realms of nomenclature clearly we are dealing here with giants."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby, We'll Be Fine

With the Indians out of the playoffs and Dalton coolin' at the Double Deuce, Jake and I are going out to see The National and Stella play New York Magazine's 40th Anniversary Party at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan. If any of you want to join us, here's how to get tickets.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I've Got Nothin'

All work and no play make Wade Garrett a dull boy. Hey, nobody said that keeping order at the Double Deuce was going to be easy.

This song is stuck in my head. No good reason why.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Handle With Care

I always loved the Travelling Wilburys. Five of the all-time greats of Rock and Roll music - Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Tom Pettty and Jeff Lynne - got together because, after decades of stardom, they thought it would be cool to be in a band of equals again. Performing under the stage names Nelson Wilbury, Otis Wilbury, Lefty Wilbury, Lucky Wilbury and Charlie T. Jnr., they made two modest-but-excellent albums, entitled Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 and Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 (actually, for Traveling Wilburys Volume 3. There is no Volume 2. And on Volume 3 they performed under the names Spike, Clayton, Muddy and Boo Wilbury. Whatever - they were cool.

Though their catalog is small, they produced two contemporary classics in as many albums - "End of the LIne"a and the much-covered "Handle With Care."

Somehow I Doubt This Is Correct

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"You Forgot Poland"

Poland withdrew from the 'Coalition of the Willing' yesterday, thus rendering my favorite t-shirt semi-obsolete. Too bad. Fortunately for our friends and former classmates serving in Iraq, Micronesia is still a member of the coalition of the willing.

*A member of the Canadian Parliament famously referred to the Coalition of the Willing as 'the Coalition of the Idiots,' a moniker with which I cannot say that I diagree.

**Over the past four years, approximately 15 people have offered to buy this t-shirt off of me. Its sort of a litmus test - if you get the reference and you get the joke, you're pretty cool.

The Vice-Presidential Debate

From last night's episode of Saturday Night Live:

"I believe that marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers."



Our love of Tina Fey continues to grow.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

The most popular novel in America right now is David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. The New York Times loved it. The Onion A.V. Club gave it an "A." The Washington Post called it "grand and unforgettable." Even Oprah chose it as her bookclub's book of the month for October.

I mention this for several reasons:
1) The novel is excellent and I have been recommending it to everybody I know who reads literary fiction.
2) Since it was chosen by Oprah's book club, libraries have run out of copies but the major book sellers are all discounting right now, meaning it is as cheap as it is ever going to get.
3) If you love dogs (full disclosure: I do not) then you have no excuse not to buy ths book.
4) A close friend of the blog is an editor at Ecco, the company that publishes Sawtelle, and if it sells enough copies then she'll finally be able to buy that custom Chevy Camaro Ford Mustang I know she's always wanted.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Droppin' Phat Beats Up In This Piece

Until this week, the year 2008 had been a lousy one for new music - other than the Fleet Foxes and The National's collection of B-Sides and live tracks, few things had caught the fancy of the dedicated critics at CSD headquarters. Then, all at once, five promising new albums dropped at once - Jenny Lewis, TV On the Radio, Lindey Buckingham, The Cold War Kids, and even the late, great Mitch Hedberg.

Here's "Golden Age," the new single from TV On the Radio's Dear Science:

What is the Role of the Vice-President?

“Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position.”

What is the Rold of the Vice-President?

“Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"I Beg to Disagree"

Sarah Palin's Strange Brew accent and inability to end a word with "-ing" angers me. But hey, apparently "americans are cravin' that straight talk."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

bailout bitching

I understand that the problems with the bailout bill are much more multifaceted than my own relationship to them. The republican paradox of being pro-business and pro-small governemnt/pro-redneck has finally reached an impasse when favoring one means looking like you are giving the finger to the other. but I want to sound my yawp on these issues

1. I keep hearing from pro-bailout boosters, that gov't (and consequently taxpayers) could make money because the CDOs and other distressed financial vehicles will retain value in the long term as the economy stabilizes. We have a HUGE industry that has grown up in recent years on the single basic idea that "if you give over your money for a long time, we will make you a big pile more." That industry is called private equity, and they have a mountain of money. So if these distressed vehicles will be making money long-term, why aren't those guys, whose job it is to look for such opportunities, buying them? The whole thing sounds like used car sale to me


2.The bailout has a major PR problem. Paulson and Bush are still pushing the "have faith in us and don't question" strong leadership model. and that isn't going to fly in the current political and financial climate. wall street and the presidency are disgraced and they need to understand that position and work from it.

You simply cannot come asking for this kind of money after this kind of fuck up still playing the expert without contrition. No one--bank president, treasury secretary, individual financial employee ever broke the veil. No one ever said they were sorry; That they failed. This industry privatized massive gains and is now looking to socialize losses based on the theory that if we don't socialize those losses, everyone will lose more. Ok. fine. you guys fucked up huge getting rich and trying to get richer and now we have to step in or we will be fucked too. I get it. My brain is complex enough to understand this idea. and I am willing to help. but by god I want to throw some tomatoes first. Fuck you guys for getting us in this mess. Contrition would go a long way to undoing some of the vitriol towards wall street that is blocking this bill. and I haven't heard any. I have only heard the same tone as during the boom--we need your money, we need no regulation, and it is much too complicated for you to understand.


Financial professionals and associated service professionals, you are welcome to respond with you formalized, self-justification. I know we need the bailout, but I want something in return besides a false promise of value creation by assets no one wants.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Long Walk Home

This new advertisement for British breadmaker Hovis needs to be seen. It has the production values of Atonement (just without Keira Knightley and that green dress.)

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes . . . it rains.

My parents sent me a package about a month ago. UPS apparently came to me house, but didn't believe that I lived there, so they looked up another Wade Garrett in Brooklyn, left the package at his door, and peaced out. Today, the package, bent and rain-soaked, showed up at my door. Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you.

In that vein, here are some Yeas and Nays from the past couple of days:

Yeas:

1) The Buffalo Bills being 4-0.
2) The good chance that the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs will play each other in the World Series.
3) Sarah Palin being exposed for the farce that she is.
4) TV On the Radio and Jenny Lewis having new albums out; Marilynne Robinson, Neal Stephenson and Philip Roth having new novels out.
5) The smokin' hot eastern european girl on the subway in the mini-skirt and the above-the-knee boots - it was a long day and you made the ride home infinitely more pleasant.

Nays:

1) This fact that this promises to be another 65-hour work week.
2) Down Jones dropping 778 points today, and screwing people who, you know, need money and credit to get through life.
3) The dozen-or-so rats squeaking and scampering around the bottom of the trash can I passed on the way to the subway tonight after work - you were pretty gross
4) The New Kids On the Block having a new album out; Candace Bushnell having a new novel out.
5) Trying to choose between having a glass of wine or taking a sleeping pill when you're tired but can't sleep

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why John McCain Used To Matter

David Foster Wallace's essay "Why John McCain Matters" is one of the greatest pieces of political reportage I've ever read. Re-reading it now, eight years after it was originally published, lends a number of sobering and depressing insights into this year's presidential campaign. Back in the year 2000, John McCain was a rogue Presidential candidate; one who ran on his beliefs and didn't give a damn who disagreed with him. That made him an attractive candidate to young people, and to independents who were pissed off that mainstream politics had become too much about the horse race and about members of the governing class scoring cheap points against each other, instead of about advocating policies and representing citizens. Once John McCain started to win primaries, and realized that, now, for the first time, he really had something to lose, he became a dramatically different candidate - and, as importantly, the voters began to see him through the same cynical lens through which they view more typical politicians.

The essay isn't short - it is eleven internet pages, and, in its unedited for, more than 50 paperback pages - but it is well worth your time. You have to believe me on this one.

Two Fairly Liberal Dudes

My friends over at Two Faily Liberal Dudes have really stepped up their game over the past few week, bringing twice-daily roundups of political coverage. Good stuff, TFLD!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Top Whiny Thoughts About Work That SEEM Reasonable But Are In Fact Exact Replicas of Thoughts You Had When You Were Mad At Your Parents That One Time

1. Other Practice Groups (other kids' parents) think I'm great! Why not mine?
2. She is criticizing me for THIS!? She should see how badly other associates (kids down the block who smoke) screw up!
3. How do they expect me to have a normal life if I do all this work (homework). Don't they know I need a balanced life to thrive?
4. If they aren't nicer to me I will totally turn into one of those bitter associates (kids who smoke.)
5. And if that doesn't work I will totally run away to Alaska and they'll be sad then!