Thursday, January 31, 2008

Chris Berman is Not Happy



I definitely post this video tepidly for a couple of reasons. On one hand, it's pretty hilarious. On the other hand, I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Chris Berman, even though I stopped finding his schtick funny 15 years ago and tolerable 10 years ago. However, no true Bills fan can help but like the guy, mainly because he's one of the very few major media people who routinely sticks up for the great (but ultimately cursed) Bills teams of the early 90s.

That said, he seems like kind of an asshat here. More childhood innocence ruined.

Thanks for the words: Deadspin

Interesting Recent Legal Developments

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by the Indiana Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge a new law requiring voters to show ID before casting a ballot. Though acknowledging that more Democrats than Republicans will be disenfranchised by this law, the majority of the court seemed to imply that it would be reluctant to overturn the law, because, at this point, and inequity caused by the law would just be hypothetical. The Constitution gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction over "cases and controversies," but, because the law hasn't injured anybody yet - since nobody has been denied any of their rights - there is no "case or controversy" to give the court jurisdiction over the matter.

In layman's terms, the Court is probably going to say that it has no business second-guessing the legislature unless its laws actually cause injury. Even if they would be able to know in advance that the law would create Constitutional problems - and they don't know for certain - they would not know how to remedy those problems until they have a better idea of what those problems are. Justice David Souter said that waiting for the election results to come in "would be a virtue, but one of the vices would be that it would be after the election, and the entire matter would be academic for another two years." Justice Scalia - who believes that the case is not ripe for adjudication until it causes an injury - asked during oral argument: "This court is sitting back and looking at the ceiling and saying, oh, we can envision not the case before us, but other cases. Maybe it’s one-half of one percent or maybe it’s 45 percent, who knows. But we can imagine cases in which this law could be unconstitutional, and therefore, the whole law is unconstitutional. That’s not ordinarily the way courts behave, is it?" I don't agree with Justice Scalia about much, but I sort of think he has a point on this one.

In another interesting case, the Supreme Court of Washington recently ruled that Attempted First Degree Felony Murder is a non-existent crime. It makes sense, doesn't it? The felony murder laws were written to solve a technical legal problem. Intent to kill is an element of first degree murder - you couldn't be prosecuted for first-degree murder if you didn't intend to kill somebody. But what about criminals who kill somebody during the comission of a serious felony - robbery, burglary, arson, etc. - without intending to do so? If you rob and bank and accidentally run somebody over during your getaway, or kill somebody working in a building you mistakenly believe to be empty, you've killed somebody while intending to do something seriously illegal. But you didn't mean to kill them. So what crime are you guilty of? Manslaughter didn't seem to be serious enough, so judges invented the Felony Murder doctrine - where the intent to kill is transferred from the intent to create a dangerous situation during the course of another criminal act.

But if an attempted crime is a failed crime, is it possible to have attempted felony murder? Almost by definition, you can't attempt felony murder, because if you intend to do it, its regular murder in the first degree. Therefore, it is impossible to commit the crime of 'attempted felony murder'

More on the Yankee Doodle

The Yankee Doodle's closing is getting a lot of attention - the New York Times had a pretty good article about it today.

Also, there is now a facebook group dedicated to saving the Doodle. If you feel like making a financial contribution to help save the Doodle, you can go here to make a donation.

Better Sports Media Needed

Major sports media pumps out braindead puff pieces at a near-constant rate, but this recent Sports Illustrated article is truly a monument to the genre. While it's quite clear that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn't always a superstar and had to work very hard to achieve his success, isn't it a bit of a stretch to wail on the "Self-Made Man" thing when he had parents wealthy enough to provide him with (1) a personal quarterbacks coach and weight training unit in high school and (2) a personal sports psychologist in college? Both my parents had great jobs, I grew up wanting nothing, and all of these things would have been extravagant. In light of this and the thousands of professional athletes who have achieved great success without access to any of these kinds of amenities (let alone two-parent households, quality schooling, proper nourishment, etc.), is it possible there's a better, more sensitive term to describe Brady than "Self-Made Man?"

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Overlord

So I work in a faceless office park in a faceless suburb of boston. all in all, my work life is pretty mundane. except, parked outside my faceless office park every morning is a 1988 canary yellow Camaro with the license plate "OVRLRD". that's right--Overlord. I wonder every day where the overlord works. Is he a paralegal at Pandisco & Pandisco Patent lawyers? Does he work for GreenPoint Mortgage Funding (probably not seeing as our banch of GreenPoint, much like phony Beatlemania, has bitten the dust). Perhaps he mans the desk at Pearson career aptitude testing. It is so Dwight Schrute it blows my mind.
here's to you, Overlord.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Yankee Doodle, 1950-2008

Say it ain't so!

The Yankee Doodle coffee and sandwich shop, long a favorite amongst Yale undergrads due to its cheap caffeine and greasy hamburgers. Tonight the long-time New Haven landmark closed its doors for the last time. The owner cited increased rent as his reason for closing up shop. The Yale Alumni Association attempted to intervene on the Doodle's behalf, but was unable to buy the restaurant a break.


Yankee Doodle merchandise
is still available while supplies last.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Cat Bill

Don't ask me how, but Adlai Stevenson's veto of "the cat bill" came up in conversation today. Governor Stevenson's letter explaining his veto of the Illinois Legislature's "cat bill" is one of my personal favorite selections of expository prose, anywhere. Here is the full text:

To the Honorable, the Members of the Senate of the Sixth-sixth General Assembly:

I herewith return, without my approval, Senate Bill No. 93, entitled, "An Act to Provide Protection to Insectivorous Birds by Restraining Cats." This is the so-called "Cat Bill." I veto and withhold my approval from this Bill for the following reasons:

It would impose fines on owners or keepers who permitted their cats to run at large off their premises. It would permit any person to capture or call upon the police to pick up and imprison, cats at large. It would permit the use of traps. The bill would have statewide application -- on farms, in villages, and in metropolitan centers.

This legislation has been introduced in the past several sessions of the Legislature, and it has, over the years, been the source of much comment -- not all of which has been in a serious vein. It may be that the General Assembly has now seen fit to refer it to one who can view it with a fresh outlook. Whatever the reasons for passage at this session, I cannot believe there is a widespread public demand for this law or that it could, as a practical matter, be enforced.

Furthermore, I cannot agree that it should be the declared public policy of Illinois that a cat visiting a neighbor's yard or crossing the highway is a public nuisance. It is in the nature of cats to do a certain amount of unescorted roaming. Many live with their owners in apartments or other restricted premises, and I doubt if we want to make their every brief foray an opportunity for a small game hunt by zealous citizens -- with traps or otherwise. I am afraid this Bill could only create discord, recrimination and enmity. Also consider the owner's dilemma: To escort a cat abroad on a leash is against the nature of the cat, and to permit it to venture forth for exercise unattended into a night of new dangers is against the nature of the owner. Moreover, cats perform useful service, particularly in rural areas, in combating rodents -- work they necessarily perform alone and without regard for property lines.

We are all interested in protecting certain varieties of birds. That cats destroy some birds, I well know, but I believe this legislation would further but little the worthy cause to with its proponents give such unselfish effort. The problem of cat versus bird is as old as time. If we attempt to resolve it by legislation why knows but what we may be called upon to take sides as well in the age old problems of dog versus cat, bird versus bird, or even bird versus worm. In my opinion, the State of Illinois and its local governing bodies already have enough to do without trying to control feline delinquency.

For these reasons, and not because I love birds the less or cats the more, I veto and withhold my approval from Senate Bill No. 93.

Respectfully,

ADLAI E. STEVENSON, Governor

Feist - "I Feel It All"

Feist's video for "1, 2, 3, 4" was one of the coolest and most popular music videos in years. Her latest music video, for the song "I Feel It All," is almost as good.

Long or Short?

I'd like to thank my colleague Paul Smecker for introducing me to Long or Short Capital, a website that does to the financial services industry what Kissing Suzy Kolber does to the NFL.

Their running "Quotes Entirely Relevant to Investing" feature always cracks me up. A recent example: 'Pro forma' - Latin for 'lawyers jerking themselves off.'

Also of note are their series of posts about "mini-ballers," young finance guys who haven't really accomplished anything in their careers. We all know somebody like this. How To Be A Mini-Baller discusses the all-too-familiar New York investment banker type - prestigiously educated high-earners whose consumption habits have them living from paycheck to paycheck.

How do you know if you're a mini-baller? Well, you might be a mini-baller if "You have outrageously expensive clothes, all of which you paid for and most of which you buy because you saw a mini-baller the previous night who was wearing that outfit and “getting it done.”" Also, "You say “get it done” all the time. You’re not sure what this means, but you know its important, and when you say it . . . you mean it."

Credit Card Roulette discusses one of the douchier habits of mini-ballers. Of course, credit card roulette is much more enjoyable when you can expense every meal you eat for no good reason, for instance because you worked past 8pm even though you didn't get to work until 10am.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading this week:

Letters To An Editor - Even though its a couple of weeks old, in the past week three different people brought up this New Yorker feature about Raymond Carver's relationship with his editor, Gordon Lish. I love the 'primary source' value of this stuff. Here is a cool online slide show about Carver and Lish.

Who Wants Slices? - An interesting survey of the United States' various regional styles of pizza.

Ben Bernanke - From the New York Times Magazine, an interesting profile of the Chairman of the National Reserve Board.

Hitler Is A Cowboys Fan - Didn't you always know this was the case?

Rambo - I really enjoyed Nathan Rabin's review of the latest Rambo movie in The Onion A.V. Club. Money quote: "Stiffly written, woodenly acted, and indifferently directed, yet full of shit blowing up real good and motherfuckers getting killed, Rambo is fun-bad, then bad-bad, then ultimately fun-bad again, before its abrupt end. A plea for international intervention in Burma cunningly disguised as a B-movie bloodbath, Rambo is paradoxically both a condemnation and celebration of mindless slaughter." I'm sure that Matthew Jacobson and Michael Denning will have a field day close-reading this one.

Stay Classy, President Clinton

Our former president on Senator Obama's victory in South Carolina:

"Jesse Jackson won South Carolina twice."

They Said No, You Can't Do That, He's A Live Bear, He Will Literally Rip Your Face Off.

I can't believe I forgot to include this in my post yesterday - this local news bit from Moble, Alabama captures just about everything that's ridiculous and annoying about local news. I know, I know - local news is an easy target, so its almost unfair to make fun of them, but 'reports' like this one are the reason why. The artist's rendition of the Leprechaun never gets old, and the way in which the anchors appear to be only half-joking at the end is the icing on the cake.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Here's What's Happening In Your World Tonight

Its YouTube Saturday here at Common Sense Dancing headquarters. Here are three more videos which show the inanity of local news broadcasters:

WEWS News Promo:
This local news promo from the mid-1970's is a gentle reminder that Anchorman (like Spinal Tap) was funny because it was only slightly more ridiculous than the subject it was parodying.

Tracy Morgan Goes Crazy:
When the visibly intoxicated 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan stars improvising on a morning talk show, none of the small-market 'talent' can keep up.



I Must Be Emo:
This small-town local news team's report about the dangers of emo music is

Saturday afternoon Rapture

God I love this song.

"That Squirrel Can Water Ski"


In my opinion, few things in this world are as consistently sad and hilarious as local news: it's pretty much an endless source of entertainment. Perhaps the most amazing thing about local news is that it pretty much sucks everywhere, even in big cities in which the broadcasts have high production values and competent anchors. Somehow they just can't help themselves from broadcasting retarded human interest stories that nobody cares about and capturing moments of human weakness and stupidity on camera in the most vivid ways possible. In honor of the bird infestation report below - which I just found today - here's a quick list of what I have to imagine are 5 of the greatest moments in the history of local news:

5) Bird infestation report:

http://view.break.com/439964 - Watch more free videos
When people say it's good luck to be shit on by a bird, this probably isn't what they have in mind.


4) News anchor looks exactly like serial rapist suspect:



3) Blowing up a dead beached whale:

"The humor of the situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale blubber fell everywhere" has to be in the running for the greatest sentence ever spoken in the history of mankind.


2) Atlanta Grape Stomping Competition

The pain and misery of the poor woman's fall is funny enough, but what's even greater is that the hosts at the end of the video are pretty much beyond parody - those old "Morning Latte" skits on SNL might not even do justice to how corny and artificially upbeat they are.


1) Bubb Rubb and Lil' Sis:

I hadn't seen this in a couple years - there's just so much to unpack in this report. I'm a big fan of running the stoplight and clipping the parked car during the demonstration of the whistler tip.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cecilia, You're Breakin' My Heart

I recently saw and loved Atonement. The previews make it look like chick flick/Oscar bait, but its not - its an incredibly sophisticated adaptation of one of the best novels I've ever read.

Having said that . . . .

KSK's parody of parody of Atonement is one of the funniest and most evil things they've ever done. Their thesis is simple - a movie starring a woman this good looking shouldn't be so stuffy and British. Its sort of hard to argue with, don't you think? And where else will you find stage directions like this:

[ROBBIE is smoking a cigarette (because he has blue balls and the technology and masculine social mores of the day are prohibiting him from engaging in self-mutilation) and typing up an apologetic letter for CECILIA, whom he would care to bang like a tennis ball off a garage door]

Caption Contest!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It Is What It Is

In the wrong hands, the English language is a fat, steaming bowl of meaningless. To wit, no popular phrase is the equal of “it is what it is.” This phrase is utterly void of any content whatsoever; speakers can use this phrase to describe any state of being, at any given time. When is it not what it is?

People, when you say “it is what it is” you are saying absolutely nothing at all. Please stop saying this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"This is our most desperate hour. Help us, Elisha Nelson Manning, you're our only hope."


Most of my friends - at least ones with whom I discuss sports - know by now that I haven't always been Eli Manning's biggest fan. From his days at Ole Miss I always thought his reputation was bolstered by his name alone, and was not fully convinced he was a better player going into the 2004 NFL Draft than Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, quarterbacks who were both drafted after Manning. Then he bitched and sulked rather famously about the possibility of having to play for the San Diego Chargers, who held the #1 pick that year, despite the fact that they had one of the best players in the league at RB (LaDanian Tomlinson) to help his transition to the NFL. Eli's prissiness over franchises didn't cast him in a particularly flattering light, especially when the Chargers immediately proceeded to become one of the AFC's premier franchises, while the Giants, to whom Manning was traded, were infuriatingly inconsistent over the next three seasons with Manning as starting QB, with the frustration of poor performance compounded by his tendency to shoot strained, angsty/adolescent shrugs to teammates and whine visibly after poor plays.


Having lived in Manhattan for two years, and thus being abused with Giants games on local TV for two agonizing seasons, it was clear that the Giants were essentially an NFC championship caliber team with the exception of poor quarterback play. On offense, the Giants had Pro Bowl caliber players at RB (Tiki Barber), TE (Jeremy Shockey), and WR (Plaxico Burress), and their line was decent enough. Further, their defense was always among the best in the league, particularly at pass-rushing. There were countless games where they were pretty much in control, except for the fact that Manning had trouble connecting with his receivers, even on short throws to open men.

Only if you watched Manning play from 2004 through November 2007 would you understand why this advertisement is so fucking funny:


That said, Manning has elevated his level of play noticeably over the past month. I say this with great caution, as I can hardly count how many "ELI MANNING HAS GROWN UP!!!11!!1" columns I have read by mainstream media hacks over the past three seasons, which have typically been based upon one decent performance amongst a sea of mediocre or terrible ones. But even a hater like myself can't deny that he clearly outplayed Brett Favre on Sunday, and that he made a number of throws which, given the situation, certainly qualify as clutch. His performance Sunday at least gave me a glint of hope that the Giants - who are currently 13.5 point underdogs despite giving the Patriots a run for their money at the end of the regular season - could actually make the Super Bowl a game.

This would sound ridiculous to most people at first, but it's easy to convince yourself if you really, really try (and trust me, I'm really, really trying). Think of it this way:
**The Patriots haven't looked all that sharp in recent weeks, particularly against the Chargers, Giants, and Ravens.
**Randy Moss has been a complete non-factor in the playoffs so far, perhaps distracted by recent legal issues.
**The Giants have a tremendous pass-rush, and Brady has struggled at times when faced with pressure in the pocket (the Chargers were able to pick him off three times).
**The Giants offense, even when Manning has struggled, has proven it can run the ball effectively (Brandon Jacobs averaged over 5 yards per carry during the season and Ahmad Bradshaw has emerged as a strong backup), and the Patriots linebackers - particularly the interior guys who will have to stop Jacobs, a 265-pound hammer - are essentially bundles of peanut brittle in helmets and pads, their most effective tools being steroids and cheap shots.

As for a prediction...the easy way out would be to say that the Giants will give the Pats a good game then fall short at the end. If I choose this route, the Giants will inevitably win, and I'll kick myself for not making a bolder prediction. On the flip, should I pick the Giants, Eli will probably morph into the 2004-era bitch he may very well be deep down inside, and the Giants will get humiliated. However, in this relatively safe forum, I'm feeling pretty saucy - in the biggest upset since Luke Skywalker fuckin' PWNED the empire, Eli leads the way in a Giants victory - let's call it 34-28.

The internet: bringing righteous haters together




Before the internet, if you were to tell me that there would someday be a way to successfully make and distribute a .000001%er joke combining Final Fantasy VI and the shitiness of Garfield, I would have thought you were a mad dreamer. To now know that there is a kindred spirit out there... as Milhouse once said, is this what it's like when doves cry?

The creators' other works also do an excellent job of exposing the humor charlatan that is Jim Davis. The fact that he is a millionaire for peddling his banal garbage angers me greatly.

I also enjoyed the clips collecting the negative reviews of the Garfield movies and this one that helped explain why the strip was "funny". I liked all of them, actually.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Act of Blasphemy

The roommates and I watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off tonight. Overall, the movie holds up remarkably well. We were surprised at how many lines we remembered after all of these years, and at how many of the jokes still work.

Having said all of that, the parade scene near the end of the movie sort of bothered me. Riding on a float, Ferris sings "Danke Schoen" - clearly the famous Wayne Newton version - followed by the Beatles cover of "Twist and Shout." In the movie, he's supposed to actually be singing those songs - he shouts into the microphone, and the members of the marching band are all playing their instruments in time.

Was Matthew Broderick's lip synching was supposed to fool the audience into believing that Ferris Bueller was actually singing? If so, why not hire a singer to re-record those two songs? Why use such enormously popular recordings that half of America already knows by heart? Wayne Newton and John Lennon don't sound anything like each other; are we supposed to believe that Ferris has the range to sound so distinctly different on back-to-back songs? If he's supposed to be lip-synching, where is the music coming from? How could the organizers of the parade possibly have known somebody was going to commandeer a float and start to do karaoke? And if he's supposed to be lip-synching to a recording then why is the marching band playing along? Are THEY all supposed to be pantomiming along with Ferris' lip-synching? And what's with the vaguely racist shot of like thirty cool black guys dancing in choreographed unison?

What Went Wrong?

Apparently, it is bad movie week at my apartment. Since basketball and hockey haven't really gotten interesting yet, college football is over with, baseball is out of season and the NFL is now playing only one day per week, there's a lot of tv time to fill, and my roommate has chosen to fill it with the worst movies on television - recent days have brought us Norbit, London, Rocky 4 and Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector.

One thing all of these movies seem to have in common is very talented supporting casts. Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector - which may in fact be the very worst movie I have ever seen - features Tony Hale, Tom Wilson and David Koechner, all of whom are wonderful comic actors and all of whom are infinitely funnier than Larry The Cable Guy, by the rule that any number is infinitely greater than zero. But all of those other movies had talented supporting actors, too. Do actors that good need work that badly? Are the movies to be faulted for not giving them larger roles, more to do?

"Its All Deadly"

By request, here's more LCD Soundsystem. Somewhere David Byrne and Arthur Russell are smiling.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Eli Manning Is Clean, Your Highness



Hat Tip: Kissing Suzy Kolber

LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but LCD Soundsystem has been stuck in my head for the past week or so, particularly their groovy single "All My Friends."

I Hate the New England Patriots

Jim Nance: Coach Belichick, you're going back to the Super Bowl. What was the difference in today's game against a very tough Chargers team?

Bill Belichick: You know Jim, I think the difference in today's game was the players. They played well today, they played well all season, and I'm lucky to be the coach of this team.

Jim Nance: Thanks for those tremendous insights, Bill - not for nothing are you regarded as the game's greatest intellect. Congrats again on winning the AFC championship. (Turns to Junior Seau) Junior Seau, you are 38 years old, and today you have somehow retained your reputation for being a great defensive player despite the fact that you have done little for the past three seasons other than pile on to ballcarriers who have already been tackled by your teammates. What do you have to say about today's game?

Junior Seau: I'd like to congratulate my hometown Chargers on a good season, and I would like to say that Bill Belichick is without question the greatest coach ever. Despite the fact that there are half-a-dozen future Hall of Famers on this team playing well belong market value in an attempt to bandwagon their way to a Super Bowl Ring, we still had by far the highest payroll in the National Football League. Leading a team like this isn't easy. You really have to hand it to him. In fact, I'm pretty certain that an offense of Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Laurence Maroney, the best offensive line in football would pretty much be unable to score a touchdown ever without his brilliant gameplanning.

Jim Nance:
That was a fascinating insight! I love covering this team. Rodney Harrison, you've managed to remain a media and fan-favorite despite the fact that you've been voted the NFL's dirtiest player three times, investigated by the F.B.I. and suspended from play for using illegal performance-enhancing drugs, fined more than $300,000 and suspended several times over the course of your career for your dangerous and malicious playing style, and almost ended the career of the greatest player of all-time with a blatantly illegal helmet-to-helmet hit in 2002. What do you have to say for yourself.

Rodney Harrison: We're just taking it one game at a time - we're trying to get better every week. I can't wait to get back to the film room so that I can prepare for whoever wins this evening's NFC championship game. I love playing for Bill Belichick - the two of us have a special, complicated, deep, almost Byzantine bond.

Jim Nance: That's fascinating. Randy Moss, you're currently under a restraining order and being investigated for domestic violence after you allegedly beat your your girlfriend last week. You've referred to the tragic 1970 Marshall plane crash as "really no big deal," run over a Minneapolis police officer while making an illegal turn, mooned fans from the field during a game, left the playing field early when your team was losing near the end of a game, admitted to smoking marijuana during the season, and quit on every team you've ever played for in your career. What are you thinking, now that you finally have the chance to play for a Super Bowl?

Randy Moss: I hear they've got kind bud down there in Arizona. You betta recognize! Yeah, that's right.

Jim Nance: Mike Vrabel, the media loves your white skin and your versatility, in that you're both a pretty good linebacker and an emergency tight end who is sometimes used in trick plays in short-yardage situations. Whether it be on offense or defense, you always find a way to contribute to Patriots' wins. Today, you contributed to Asante Samuel's interception when you leg-whipped San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers, in defiance of NFL rules. What do you have to say for yourself?

Mike Vrabel: Well, all I have to s--- what the hell?

Bill Simmons:
(interrputing) That is NOT true! Didn't you watch the game? It was one of the worst-officiated games in NFL history! All of the calls went against the Patriots! I can't believe that nobody talks about this. While we're on the subject, last week's game against Jacksonville was also one of the worst-officiated games in the history of the NFL; I can't believe nobody talks about that game, either! If I only had more time, I'd write a 100,000-word column about it. Did you see the last game of the regular season? That, too, was one of the worst-officiated games in NFL history, and once again every call went against the Patriots. I'm telling you, the Patriots just can't catch a break! I can't wait until next month's Super Bowl goes down in NFL history as the worst-officiated game in NFL history, everybody loves Eli Manning and you just know he's going to get all of the calls because the Patriots always get screwed by the officials. Its sort of like in Rocky IV, when the referee was Russian and wanted Ivan Drago to beat Rocky and let him get in a bunch of extra punches after the bell rang, but before Rocky ended the Cold War. The fact that Sylvester Stallone, Tom Brady, Mike Vrabel, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale are all caucasian is merely a coincidence. The Patriots haven't caught a single break in the past six years. Why doesn't anybody talk about th-

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading this week:

What We Know - Putlizer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright examines privacy, torture and the threats the intelligence community faces in the future. Via The New Yorker.

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Ladytown
- Men's magazine are admittedly somewhat of an easy target, but Amelie Gilette's latest post is one of the funniest I've read in a while. I love the angry comments from the frat guys and Entourage watchers who don't get the joke.

Marmalard Party - Kissing Suzy Kolber has been laying into Philip Rivers this week. See also their "epic douchefrontation" between Rivers and New England Patriots Fans.

Aqua Teen-ized - The incomparable Neko Case appears on Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Who Would Ever Buy This?

I'm a pretty avid read and Don DeLillo is one of my favorite writers, but I would never, ever wear this t-shirt. In fact, I'm amazed there are only 84,203 items more popular than it on Amazon.com.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ask Tina


And . . . the Show Has Reached A New Low

The sports world is probably a better place with Bill Simmons than it would be without him. Having said that, he hasn't written a good column in a very long time and his most recent column on ESPN.com was hackish, uninsightful, unfunny, blatantly homerist and all of his jokes were recycled from previous columns. I started a post in which I cricitized it paragraph by paragraph, only to find that I had been pre-empted by Kissing Suzy Kolber. They're right - Bill Simmons has become the Dane Cook of sportswriters. Its only a matter of time until he starts making movies with Robin Williams.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How Soon Is Now?

No real reason for posting this. Enjoy.
How Soon Is Now?


Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lost in Adaptation

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is one of the best books I've read in years. Following the success of the No Country For Old Men screen adaptation, major studios have recently announced that they will be turning The Road into a film to be released possible as soon as late this year, and his 1986 classic Blood Meridian into a Ridley Scott film to be released sometime in 2009. So far, so good.

Then, this afternoon I read an article in Variety about how Charlize Theron has been cast as the unnamed Mother character in the film version of The Road. That character doesn't really exist in the novel, except in one or two of The Father's flashbacks. The casting of a big star like Theron suggests to me that her character will be greatly expanded for the movie version. One can only assume that this decision was based on market research, is a blatant attempt to appeal to women and an attempt to get more free publicity from late-night talk shows. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but think about - why else would you mess with a classic novel from one of America's greatest living writers?

When a classic book deals almost exclusively with characters of one gender, movie studios often order a strong character of the other sex to be written into the movie, for no reason other than to help with ticket sales. Most times, this tactic fails miserably. The only semi-success of this sort I've ever seen is Garrett Breedlove, Jack Nicholson's character from Terms of Endearment. Breedlove is a beloved character from one of the most powerful mainstream films of the 1980's, but even so, people who read the book before they saw the movie could never get used to having him around.

This is a different, but just as offensive, problem as when studios bastardize history to make movies more "inspiring," and in the process completely dishonor the true stories on which they are based. Just watch any sports movie starring Denzel Washington - The Hurricane, Remember The Titans, and The Great Debaters are three recent examples, as is Glory Road, which wasn't a Denzel Washington movie, though it sure felt like one.

What do you think - should studios do this? When they do it, do they bastardize the source material? Or

Reason #239048234 Why I Hate Sex In The City

For years, I've been telling people that Sex In the City is a terrible show. In my view, its sole purpose was to sell an Epcot Centerish vision of Manhattan to angsty young women and bored housewives in the flyover states - according to the show, there's no crime in New York City, and no minorities other than a few campy gay guys, and everybody has time to take two hour drinking lunches and enough disposable income to shop at Prada and Jimmy Choo. Carrie Bradshaw, who we're supposed to love does little other than whine about men, and most of the remaining characters are unappealing, if not outright terrible human beings. Miranda is the only likeable one, and she's the least-developed of the four. Other than possible Miranda, none of the characters act like any of the women I know in my personal life, perhaps because the show's writing staff consisted entirely of gay men, and yet women all over America fell for the marketing line of Finally, A Show On TV About Strong, Independent Women. Strong and independent? Please, they did little other than whine for four years, and now we're going to have to live with the movie version, which is going to be shoved down everybody's throats this summer. If you want to see a roomful of women get defensive in a hurry, tell them that you think that Sex In the City sucks and then just sit back and watch the fireworks.

The reason I bring all of this up is that today I saw a list of the most popular baby names in America in 2007, and the most popular boy's name was Aiden, for the third year in a row. IF Carrie ever becomes a popular girl's name, I'm moving to a country that doesn't speak English.

(Thanks to Lost in Texas for the baby names link!)

This Is Getting Ridiculous

Like 90% of computer users, I was a PC man up until Apple introduced the iPod. For the past five years or so, Apple's products have been so beautifully designed and engineered that they've broken out of their niche market of computer enthusiasts and graphic designers and now reside in the pockets and arm-holsters of millions of Americans. But their new laptop takes it to an entirely new level - if this thing actually works, its going to make every other laptop on the market look as clunky as a telephone book by comparison.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The National - Apartment Story

I love this video! The hand-drumming and tapping feet, and 'girlfriend pretty' (read: not supermodel/MTV pretty) are nice touches - they're small details, but they're also what the National is all about.

Ugly Mugs

List of the Day shows us the ugliest mug shots of the year. Who said that criminal law wasn't a rewarding career?

Our Long National Nightmare is Over - CSD trots out its Best-Of 2007 Music picks.

Wade:

Album of the Year - The National, The Boxer.

The Boxer is one of the rare albums that works both as a thematic whole and as a collection of great individual tracks. Songs like "Mistaken For Strangers," "Slow Show," "Apartment Story," "Fake Empire" and "Gospel" are sincere reflections on the imperfect love and inner city pressures of urban adulthood. And they sound terrific - Bryan Devendorf drums like a more subtle Mick Fleetwood,turning love ballads into toe-tappers and laying down unconventional, against-the-grain beats for the uptempo rockers, and lead singer Matt Berninger's somber baritone is a welcome contrast to the overly precious vocals of so much contemporary indie rock.

Runners-up: Arcade Fire, Neon Bible, Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and Radiohead, In Rainbows.


Song of the Year - Arcade Fire, "Antichrist Television Blues"

Choosing a song of the year is difficult, because a significant number of the year's best records work better as albums than they do as collections of singles. "Antichrist Television Blues" is a song that only the Arcade Fire could have produced - sincere lyrics, layered choruses, and unconventional instrumentation, all building towards a rewarding climax.

Runners-up: The National, "Mistaken For Strangers" and "Slow Show," & Spoon, "You got Yr. Cherry Bomb"

I Shouldn't Have Slept On: Rilo Kiley

Oh, how did I live for the past three years without More Adventurous in my life? If Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis isn't the most talented and charismatic woman in rock music, I don't know who is. If you told me that, somewhere on this planet, there was a hot redhead who combined all of the best qualities of Janis Joplin, Loretta Lynn, Gwen Stefani and pre-2003 Liz Phair while playing a killer lead guitar, I would have told you that you were lying. In fact, until I see her in person I'm going to remain skeptical that she actually exists, but that doesn't change the fact that "Portions For Foxes" and "I Never" are two of the best songs I've heard in years, and that Rilo Kiley is one of the best bands in the contemporary rock.

Biff:

Album of the Year: Kings of Leon, Because of the Times.

I like rock and roll a lot. Songs about girls, drugs, partying, and existential crises really do it for me, for some reason. But I’ve had a nagging sense that, like many others have observed, individual song downloads had killed the ambitious rock album. I was wrong. Because of the Times is a fucking masterpiece. Three and a half minutes into the sprawling opening track “Knocked Up,” you should begin to sense that there’s something going on here. “My Party” is one of the most subversive, filthy rock songs I’ve ever heard. True Love Way” is the best power ballad this side of Bon Jovi. Arizona” departs on a solitary, wandering guitar-hero riff. It all works. The Kings are tighter than any working rock band right now, and yet Because of the Times manages to sound epic without really sounding like it’s trying to.

Because of the Times is visceral enough to resonate with classic rock fans, and smart enough to resonate with indie rock snobs. When it comes right down to it, not too many rock bands truly try to evolve, to pound at the joints? Right now, I think this might be the only group out there doing this. Seriously, stop reading this blog right now and go buy this album.

Honorable Mention: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver; Radiohead, In Rainbows.

Song of the Year: Spoon, “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”

I can play this song a minimum of three times – it absolutely owns me. I don’t really know what it’s about, but who needs to divine meaning from song lyrics when four white guys from Texas out-Motown Motown? You’ve got to love the surgical precision with which this song was crafted – check out the double-tracked tambourine. The strongest burst of rock and roll joy since U2’s “Beautiful Day.”

Honorable Mention: Arcade Fire, “No Cars Go”; Chromeo, "Tenderoni," Justice, "D.A.N.C.E."

I Shouldn’t Have Slept On: The Rapture, Pieces Of The People We Love.

Pieces came out in 2006 but I only discovered it this past spring - big mistake, Biff. This is the sound of a punk-rock group who kidnapped Bootsy Collins and made him make them funkier. They’re guitar-driven songs with strong melodies, but each song is anchored by a throbbing bassline, disco high-hat sounds, and a general party-type ambiance. There are a couple different clowns who sing along, but the groove is The Rapture’s strength. The highlight of the album is clearly its first single, “Woo! Alright-Yeah . . .Uh Huh,” where the lead singer makes fun of his audience for not, in fact, dancing. If I ever went running, this is the type of album I would throw on the IPod. It’s also good to put on in mixed company if you’re trying to “fun” up the atmosphere. The Rapture prove that indie kids can laugh and dance and have a good time without resort to 50 Cent. By all means, go buy this.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekend Links

Comanche Moon - The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gives the latest Larry McMurtry mini-series a mixed review.. It may not be the classic that Lonesome Dove was, but its still a chance to see the always-excellent Steve Zahn, the always-gorgeous Linda Cardellini and Elizabeth Banks, and the always-ridiculous Val Kilmer.

Basketball Matters - From NPR's "This I Believe" series.

Welkahhhhh! - Kissing Suzy Kolber's impersonation of obnoxious-and-borderline-racist Boston fans is hilarious and depressingly accurate. Money quote: "I always wanted Troy Brown not to be black, and now he isn't!"

The last three links are from The New Yorker's annual Winter Fiction issue:

Alma - Junot Diaz's latest short story.

Outage
- John Updike's latest short story.

Wakefield
- E.L. Doctorow's latest short story.

In Defense of Baby Fat

Lately a bunch of my friends have been discussing Keira Knightley, who looks gorgeous in "Atonement" despite the fact that she's as skinny as a beanstalk. (Photo via The Guardian UK.) I think that some of the criticism of her is overdone - yes, she's too skinny for my taste and for that of almost every other guy I know, though she makes up for it in other ways. The most important thing to bear in mind, I think, is that she's always been this thin, so its not because of an eating disorder, which would seem to be the whole point.

Having said all of that, there is definitely something to be said for having a little meat on your bones. I've long considered Jennifer Connelly to be the most beautiful woman in Hollywood. Here's a clip of her from the recent movie Blood Diamond. Compare that to this clip of her from the 1989 film Career Opportunities, and tell me that there isn't something to be said in favor of baby fat:


Or, better yet, this clip of her from Dark City, the best movie that nobody's ever heard of:

Friday, January 11, 2008

For Unique And Delicate Snowflakes

Witney Matheson of Pop Candy is reporting that a Fight Club musical is in the works. I'd rather get my ballsack hair caught in a sticky mousestrap than watch a Fight Club musical, but that's just me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sweet Balaka Of Mine

This made me laugh. Hey, why not.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Failure Pile In A Sadness Bowl

The Onion A.V. Club's "Taste Test" blog is one of its most underrated features. In its most recent post, comedian Patton Oswalt, who, in his acclaimed 2006 stand-up album "Werewolves and Lollipops" famously described KFC's 'famous bowls' menu item as "a failure pile in a sadness bowl" actually sits down and eats one of them for the first time. As you may have expected, the results weren't pretty.

I'm a comedian. I'm obsessed with love, crime, America, and the apocalypse. The KFC Famous Bowl is all of these, and it also kind of looks like the future-food you'd see people eating in '70s science-fiction flicks.

I also like science fiction.

The Dark Night, 2007 and 1966

The new Batman movie looks totally bad-ass. Its amazing how wimpy and homoerotic the 1966 original looks these days - its a cult/camp favorite and occupies a place of honor on Jake and Frank's respective bookshelves.

mission accomplished and the maginot line

English contains the noun "troupe" which means "a group of people usually actors." and also the noun "troop" which means "a group of people usually soldiers, baboons, or boy/girl scouts." for real. both can also be intransitive verbs that mean "to move about in such a group." both are derived from the same middle french word and both have basically the same meaning. it is like the english language went out of its way to make sure everyone knew that a group of french people could only be artists, whereas an anglophone group is clearly filled with militarists.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Money Be Green

Nick Hornby interviews David Simon, creator of HBO's epic television series "The Wire," in the most recent issue of The Believer, an imprint of McSweeney's.

Here's a bitchin' preview of Season 5 of The Wire:

McSweeney'd!

Friends of mine have heard my various rants on the casual, probably-benign-yet-extremely-annoying-and-occasionally-offensive elitism among recent Ivy League graduates in Manhattan. This recent piece in McSweeney's, entitled "Some Relatively Recent College Grads Discuss Their Maids," is definitely one of the more awesome satirical works I've seen on the subject recently. Arf Arf Arf!

This Is A True Story

This story is a little inside, but I know that my blogger teammates will get it:

Last night, I spoke to a good friend of mine, who lives in Atlanta. She told me that she recently received electric scissors from her mother as a Christmas present. When I asked her what she planned to use them for, she said "I don't know, maybe I'll use them to cut my square bagels."

Monday, January 7, 2008

You Can Imagine Where It Goes From Here

Regina Lynn of Wired Magazine writes about a new company called Deaf Bunny, which makes pornographic movies whose intended market is deaf people. According to the article, Deaf Bunny uses subtitles, sign language, and cartoonish thought bubbles and "blatant use of technology" (whatever that means) to help deaf viewers understand "the complex plot and tangled relationships" of its first release, "Naughty Deaf Roommates."

Thanks for the words: Andrew Sullivan

Be Prepared To Get This Song Stuck In Your Head

Okay, so they sound sort of like what the lovechild of The Donnas and Camera Obscura would sound like if it was was produced by Phil Spector, which not that I think about it really sounds sort of awful, but The Pipettes are kind of catchy and their lead singer is, in the words of my former law school roommate "a total smokeshow," which when translated out of Hellneyse basically means "drop-dead gorgeous."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Weekend Links

They Didn't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow - The New York Times' Frank Rich discusses the Obama/Huckabee victories in Iowa and eviscerates the mainstream media for giving the establishment candidates the benefit of the doubt for so long - I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who compared the media's reaction to Romney's "Faith" speech to the media's fawning coverage of President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" publicity stunt. But it would be worth reading for the title alone.

Beginners - Nineteen years after his death, the New Yorker publishes a previously unreleased Raymond Carver short story.

Jane Eyre Runs For President - Good stuff from McSweeney's.

The Least Essential Albums of 2007 - By the Onion A.V. Club

God and the G.O.P - Round One

Hendrik Hertzberg slices and dices the religious-themed campaigns of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Nothing in his essay will come as news to anybody who regularly follows politics, but he makes his arguments with exceptional style and verve. The New Yorker at its best.

The highlight:
Indeed, the only “religion” that Romney had anything rude to say about was “the religion of secularism.” Secularism is not a religion. And it is not true that “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom,” as Romney maintained. What freedom, including religious freedom, requires is, precisely, secularism — which is to say, state neutrality in matters of religion. (Nor does religion require freedom, as the European past and the Middle Eastern present demonstrate; religions, plural, do, however.)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What Does A Boring Douchebag Sound Like?

"I am grateful to all of the voters for any consideration I was given. It is a tremendous honor and I am sure it is one that my family will one day look back on with great pride."

-Tom Brady, on being voted the NFL's Most Valuable Player

The Best First Wedding Dance Of All Time

A lot of you have probably seen this video already; its been on the internet for a couple of months and I just haven't gotten around to posting it.

I love it because not only is it hilarious, but the bride is 1) smoking hot, 2) has a great sense of humor 3) doesn't take herself too seriously and 4) has large . . . tracts of land. My female friends tell me that the guy is really cute, too. Whatever.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Best Books of the Year

Its the time of year that posts like this pop up all over the place, and the Onion and Boston.com have two of my favorites.

The Onion A.V. Club's Best Books of the Year:

I've come to trust the reviews of the Onion A.V. Club more than any other periodical, save perhaps The New Yorker. Its enormously to the A.V. Club's credit that they take so-called genre fiction - science fiction, fantasy, detective fiction, etc. - as seriously as more 'literary novels,' and their year-end best-of lists reflect a healthy amount of both.

1) Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
2) Don DeLillo, Falling Man
3) Kurt Anderson, Heyday
4) Austin Grossman, Soon I Will Be Invincible
5) Philip Roth, Exit Ghost
6) Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know
7) James Kugel, How To Read the Bible

This seems like a good list to me. I've only read a couple of the books on it, but they were both great. The might have added Ian McEwan's "On Chesil Beach," but that's about it.

Boston.com - The Best Fiction and Non-Fiction Books of the Year

Fiction
Peter Davies - The Welsh Girl
The Gathering - Anne Enright
Cheating At Canasta - William Trevor
Denis Johnson - Tree of Smoke
Don DeLillo - Falling Man
Ian McEwan - On Chesil Beach

Non-Fiction
Arthur M. Schlesinger - Journals
David Halberstam - The Coldest Winter
Rick Atkinson - The Day of Battle
Tim Weiner - Legacy of Ashes
Edwidge Danticat - Brother, I'm Dying
David Michaelis - Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
Arnold Rampersand - Ralph Ellison: A Biography
Woody Holton - Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
Eric Jay Dolin - Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America

Obama and Huckabee Win the Iowa Caucauses

For decades, the Democrats have taken for granted the support of the African-American community. Likewise, the Republicans and evangelical Christians. Last night, these segments of the major party-bases made their voices heard, upsetting the favored candidates (Hillary Clinton, Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney) who the party elders and mainstream media had all but coronated months ago. For more than a year, we've had to listen to assholes like Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Guiliani smarm and bullshit their way through interviews, kiss babies, wave to crowds, deliver speeches consisting of little more than a series of soundbyte-ready talking points, and jump through intellectual hoops to avoid saying anything that could be construed as actually taking a hard line on a controversial subject.

I am reminded on a scene from The West Wing, in which C.J. Cregg, the President's press secretary, and Charlie Young, the President's personal assistant, are discussing how the President's recent announcement that he suffers from Multiple Sclerosis will effect his campaign for re-election. Cregg fears that voters would not be able to see past the health issue, and therefore that the M.S. would cause the President to lose the race. Young disagrees, on the grounds that the American public is too intelligent to believe the scare tactics used by the President's opponent. Cregg says "You're forgetting that its an election year. Everybody's stupid in an election year." To which Young replies, "No, everybody gets treated like they're stupid in an election year." Wouldn't it be great if this was the year that the American public realized that it has been treated like idiots every four years for their entire lives, and they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?

This has been said before, but Obama and Huckabee have a lot in common. They're genuinely nice people. Their campaigns are about political issues, instead of insults, accusations, and re-hashed dicussions of the Vietnam War, the 60's, and Bill Clinton's marital infidelities, which are to baby boomers what pornography is to frat boys. Obama and Huckabee give in-depth answers which actually answer the question they've been asked. When was the last time Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney did that? Perhaps most importantly to me, Obama and Huckabee regard convervatism and liberalism, respectively, as political philosophies with which they happen to disagree, not dangerous belief systems which need to be eliminated from the face of the earth. I think its a GOOD thing that Obama doesn't hate Republicans as much as Hillary Clinton, and that Huckabee doesn't hate liberals as much as Guiliani and McCain.

If the rest of the 2008 Presidential campaign is like this . . . who knows? I may actually watch, instead of just zoning it out for ten months before showing up on election day.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Joe Francis--bad guy

The title pretty much says it all. Joe Francis is the chairman of Girls Gone Wild (videos where young, drunk girls bear their breasts and make out for the camera). he is also in jail now but claims he was set up by vengeful cops. There was an article about in the NYT. it was surprisingly kind to him--while still sortof calling him a moron--but implying that perhaps he was unfairly targeted and should be lauded by the left as a co-champion of the ACLU and Larry Flynt. But this earlier article from the LA times written while he was king of the GGW empire is pretty damning. The reporter shows him to be a rapist, a misogynist, and abusive. He is certainly not a nice man by any stretch. These articles viewed together are interesting. there an obvious current in pornography that it is horribly exploitative. there is a libertarian countercurrent that it is empowering and shows our strength and inherent american-ness that we allow it. how are we to feel when we are confronted with the fact that even soft porn is horribly exploitative and run by horrible people, but that the actual charges that sent him to jail may be somewhat unfair. it makes the grand cloak of civil liberties that we democrats have worn for 8 years seem a little gross when joe francis can wear it too.

this is also relevant because the flame that wade wrote two posts down is in the same vein of liberals being forced to draw lines and exclude people from understanding and forgiveness. frankly i am more inclined morally to forgive members of ancient cultures than abusive pornographers, but the law is oddly against me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Don't Let The Bells End

Christmas is over, bringing us a well-earned respite from Christmas music. But, before I close the books on holidays music, I'd like to share one more great Christmas song: "Christmas (Don't Let the Bells End)" by The Darkness.

For Shame

On Saturday, December 29th, a fire burned down an Oak Park, Illinois apartment complex, killing three people and a pregnant woman's unborn child. Yesterday, Chicago police arrested Subhash Chander on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated homicide of an unborn child, and aggravated arson. His motive? His lingering anger over the fact that his daughter, Monika Rani, "culturally slighted" him when she married an Indian-American man from a lower caste without his consent.

As a good liberal, I have been taught to respect other cultures. As a good liberal, I think somebody needs to grab this asshole by the shoulders and beat the Indian-ness out of him. He's living in American now. I'm sure that we Americans have some cultural practices that really piss him off. But, unlike so many people on the sub-continent, we're not okay with the practice of Bride Burning - the practice of dousing one's wife with kerosene and lighting it on fire if her family does not pay her dowry in a timely fashion. (Lest anybody forget, the traditional purpose of a dowry is that you are essentially bribing a man for taking a dependent woman off your hands.) In one year in the late 1990's, a single Bombay hospital reported 1,200 cases of wife-burning. Think about it: that's just one hospital in one city. If a single incident of that sort happened in the United States, the television shows would talk about it for a month.

We find abhorrent the fact that some Indian villages do not have electricity or running water, but do have battery-operated sonogram machines. Why do they have these machines? To determine the sex of a fetus before it is born, so that they can abort it if the fetus is female. For a rural laborer, these tests often cost a full year's salary, and yet tens of thousands of them are performed every year.

Would Chander have committed these murders if it was his son, and not his daughter, who married without his consent? I don't know, but I suspect not. For some reason, this makes me irrationally angry. The next time I hear somebody - a politician, a cultural theorist, a sociologist, whoever - talk about the importance of preserving cultural traditions, I am going to lose it. Ceremony is one thing, but preserving shameful cultural superstitions from our sexist, misogynist, racist, and homophobic past serves no purpose.

I am reminded of last friday's post about Christopher Hitchens. The caste system exists because of the Hindu religion. Is there anything good - anything AT ALL - to be said about it? Would any non-religious belief system be sufficiently strong to move a man to commit a crime as heinous as this one?

The Ice Bowl

Loyal Buffalonian, die-hard Sabres fan, stand-up comedian and loyal roommate Jack Kukoda was Deadspin's correspondent at yesterday's "Ice Bowl" - the outdoor hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

My favorite part:
"Not to get all literary-referencey on you, but if you've read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," you have a good idea of what tailgating in the parking lots around The Ralph is like. Everything is cold and gray, the pavement is cracked and blistered, and there are marauding bands of lunatics who may attack without warning. In short, it's glorious."

Its Like I've Got A Fever

And the only prescription is hot chicks playing the cowbell. Jenny Lewis, hit that thing.


Rilo Kiley - "Breakin' Up"

My New Year's Resolution

Like most avid readers, I buy more books than I'm able to read - in fact, buying books is my only real indulgence. I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but, this year, I was looking for the motivation necessary to tackle some of the more acclaimed dust-gathering books on my shelves. I remembered that, during one of my summer breaks in law school, the New York Times Book Review published a feature on the best works of American fiction published in the last 25 years. In making the list, the Times polled several hundreds writers, critics, and academics, and the list of people who responded to their survey reads like a "Who's Who" of American letters. Several dozen books received votes; the Times ended up publishing a list of the twenty-seven novels which received multiple votes. I usually find lists like this to be pretty corny, but this list is exceptionally well-done.

I've already read thirteen of the twenty-seven books. Eleven of the fourteen I haven't read currently sit on my bookshelf, unread and gathering dust. I don't normally make New Year's resolutions, but this year I have resolved to finish reading all of the remaining books on the list. If I finish in time, I'll re-read the ones I've already read - and so far they're all worth re-reading.

Since deciding on this resolution two weeks, the subject of New Year's resolutions has come on in a couple of different conversations. Two of my friends loved the idea and, independently of each other, agreed to join me in my efforts. A couple of others have said that they liked the books on the list and want to read them, but they don't know how many books their work schedules will let them get through. That gave me an idea: Every time I begin a new book from this list, I create an open thread for it. If any of you readers feel like reading along, you're more than welcome. At worst, its an honest effort at a self-improvement project. At best, it can become a poor man's version of a book club. Here's the list:

NY Times Best Work of American Fiction Published Since 1980

Toni Morrison - Beloved

The Runners Up


Philip Roth - American Pastoral
Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian
Don DeLillo - Underworld
John Updike - The Rabbit Angstrom Novels ("Rabbit Run," "Rabbit, Redux," "Rabbit Is Rich" and "Rabbit At Rest")

Also receiving Multiple Votes:

Raymond Carver - Where I'm Calling From
Don DeLillo - Libre
Don DeLillo - White Noise
Richard Ford - Independence Day
Mark Helprin - A Winter's Tale
Denis Johnson - Jesus' Son
Edward P. Jones - The Known World
Cormac McCarthy - The Border Trilogy ("All The Pretty Horses," "The Crossing," "Cities Of the Plain")
Tim O'Brien - The Things They Carried
Marilynne Robinson - Housekeeping
Philip Roth - The Counterlife
Philip Roth - Sabbath's Theater
Philip Roth - Operation Shylock
Philip Roth - The Human Stain
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norman Rush - Mating
John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of Dunces