Monday, March 31, 2008

Quick Sports Post

1) ESPN's coverage of Major League Baseball's opening night has been excellent so far, though I've been thrown for a loop by ESPN's broadcasting team of Candy Maldanado and Orestes Destrade (who I grew up watching when he was still in the minor leagues.) Its difficult to think of two more random former players who have gone on to become major broadcasters . . . if this trend continues, Art Still and Webster Slaughter broadcast the 2010 Super Bowl. Exactly two people are going to smile at that joke, but whatever.

2) Every March, guys make jokes about how their NCAA tournament pools are always won by a woman who doesn't regularly follow sports. Everybody knows the type - there's a secretary or something who doesn't know much about sports, but precisely because she doesn't know much about sports, she doesn't expect that defending national champion Syracuse is going to beat little-known Vermont. She chooses Vermont to win because a friend of hers just went on vacation in Vermont and said that it was pretty. Vermont beats Syracuse, thus spoiling the bracket of every serious Big East fan, and the secretary goes on to win the $50 gift certificate to Chili's or whatever first prize in the pool is going to be that year.

This year, all four teams to qualify for the men's Final Four were seeded #1 in their region. All four quarter-final games in the NCAA women's bracket feature #1 seeds against #2 seeds. Does this mean that southern men are kicking ass in tournament pools across the country?

3) Tyson Chandler's recent blog post about The Wire was really interesting. Little things like that remind you that these star athletes are real people.

4) The Phoenix Suns scored 46 in the fourth quarter last night, which is just a goofy number of points to score in a single period. I have no idea who is coming out of the Western conference this year. Any suggestions?

All Things Torquil Campbell

The new edition of the Onion A.V. Club features an interesting "random rules" bit with Torquil Campbell, the male lead singer of The Stars. (Their female lead singer is Amy Millan.) Its one of the more interesting random rules they've had in awhile, and I don't just say that because I met Torquil Campbell (and Amy Millan, and their crazy drummer) after a show at The Catacombs in Madison, Wisconsin in the spring of 2005. There weren't more than 100 people there, and I stood no more than 15 feet away from the singers for most of the concert, and afterwards they signed my copy of their cd. They asked me where I was from, and when I told them, they laughed and said that they've spent a lot of time in Buffalo and used to go there to shop and to party when they lived in Ontario.

Anyway here are some stars to listen to:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Elite Eight Weekend

As widely expected, last night #1 seeds UCLA and North Carolina advanced to next weekend's Final Four with wins over Xavier and Louisville, respectively. Today's games between Texas/Memphis and Kansas/Davidson will decide the remaining Final Four squads.

Being Elite Eight weekend, now is as good of a time as any to revisit the 1992 Regional Final game between Duke and Kentucky, which is widely regarded as the greatest college basketball game ever played. An awesome video of the game's dramatic final moments can be found here (embedding unfortunately disabled).

Having watched this game again about a year ago on ESPN Classic, the thing that really sticks out is the long string of amazing individual plays in the closing minutes of regulation and the two overtime periods, even before the game's famous final play. The game was great enough that if Hill's pass hadn't been perfect or Laettner's shot had missed, Sean Woods' miraculous driving bank shot with 2 seconds left in 2OT would be regarded as one of the great plays in tournament history.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gay Gyms, Bad Music, YouTube Dumps

Last night, I got home from work too late to go to my regular gym - the New York Sports Club on Mercer Street - so I went to the New York Sports Club on 7th Avenue, which is open 24 hours. I was surprised at how different they were, despite being owned by the same company and being located just a ten-minute walk from each other. The Mercer Street branch is dominated by NYU grad students and has more women than men; the 7th Avenue location is almost entirely male and plays campy music videos around the clock.

The first video that tipped me off was The Police's "Synchronicity II." The Police are a justifiably iconic band, but even so . . .


XTC's "Around the World" continued the trend of songs you'd never hear in the Mercer Street gym:


I realized that "Around the World" is the title of at least two other songs I really, really like, and have had on various workout mixes of mine for a decade. They are Daft Punk's "Around the World," which just happens to have one of the coolest music videos of all-time. I love the Busby Berkeley-meets-Ed Wood-style choreography:


Also from my freshman year in college, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication. This album formed the soundtrack to half of my workouts in college, but before last night I had entirely lost track of how long it had been since I last heard it:

CBS Sticks It To Hillary Clinton


"She meant that there was fire in the hillside around the area . . . which was the case."

The election of Hillary Clinton to the presidency would turn off a generation of Americans to politics in a way that is entirely without precedent - not prohibition, nor the joint assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, nor the Watergate cover-up disillusioned young Americans quite as badly as would the election of Hillary Clinton..

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ESPN Begins To Redeem Itself?

I have used this space to criticize ESPN on numerous occasions, but yesterday it published a series of excellent basketball articles that deserve mention. Bill Simmons - who is so much less annoying when he's discussing basketball instead of the New England Patriots or reality television - wrote a funny and insightful article on (for lack of a better term) the NBA's western conference pennant race. He's right to finally give Manu Ginobilli his due, and correct to point out that
"[Chris] Paul is ridiculously, overwhelmingly, incomprehensibly good. Look at his numbers since the All-Star break: 25 points, 12 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 55 percent shooting, 49 percent on 3-pointers and an astonishing 6-to-1 assist/turnover ratio in 18 games. ... And that doesn't even account for all the passes he makes that lead to foul shots. You can't play point guard any better than that. It's impossible."
Followed closely by
"Sasha Vujacic, quite possibly the league's best bench player of anyone who plays 20 minutes or less. He's a feisty defender, he shoots 40-plus from 3-point range, he can guard anyone and play three positions, he's a legitimate threat to get punched in the face during the playoffs and, if that's not enough, I'm almost positive that he's wearing some sort of hair net. We haven't had a so-much-fun-to-hate-him playoff villain like this guy in eons. He's like Bruce Bowen crossed with one of John Lithgow's henchman in "Cliffhanger."


Additionally, ESPN ran two excellent profiles of NCAA basketball coaches: UCLA's Ben Howland (who Jake and I have considered to be the best coach in college basketball for the past five years or so) and the University of Wisconsin's Bo Ryan. Having watched the University of Wisconsin closely for several years, I've come to believe that nobody coaching in major college basketball is able to do more with less talent than Bo Ryan. He won national championships at the Division III level and has turned the University of Wisconsin - which once had no real place on the major college basketball map - into a consistent top 10/top 15 school. There's a lot to be said for that. For his part, Howland's teams at the University of Pittsburgh and at UCLA have won so many games with such great cohesion and so many different styles of play that he has to be considered one of the best basketball minds currently working. I'm pretty certain I would feel more comfortable with him as the Team USA head coach, instead of Duke's Coach K.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco

Sometimes I Hate The Internet

You probably remember this video from a couple of years ago, when it was a relatively popular e-mail forward. The clip is stupid, but it manages to capture everything I hate about both little children and local television news in just 17 seconds, so maybe it has some measure of redeeming grace, after all.


But hey, wouldn't it be funny if you mashed this clip up with a segment from the O'Reilly Factor, so that it looked like Bill O'Reilly was interviewing the I Like Turtles about foreign affairs? Toooooooooooootally ironic!


Wait, wait - you know what would be even funnier? If we mashed the I Like Turtles bit up with the "Yes I Can" video about Barack Obama! How fuckin' edgy would that be?


I fully expect David Cross to work this into his next stand-up cd. Along with electric scissors and square bagels, the proliferation of half-assed, smart-alecky YouTube mash-ups starring the "I Like Turtles" kid are one of the signs that we as a country have too much money, too much time on out hands, and far too little respect and common sense.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

oh, HELL no ( a short pamphlet)

Dear Knicks Fans for LeBron,

Get your grubby paws of Mr. James. Your team is mired in decadence and mediocrity. Your cap space is ruined for years. Above all, you no longer possess the Funk. Now, it is clear that as a white boy, unapologetic Celtic fan recent resident of Prospect Heights, I know little of the Funk. After all, I grew up in the town where Bird lived when he played for the Celtics. However, it is manifest to all and sundry that whereas the Funk was strong with the Knicks in years past, the thuggery of Riley and the sheer incompetence of Dolan has cost them the Funk. The Funk, however, is set to return to the five boroughs, its velvety wings bathing Flatbush Avenue and its environs with a sense of history not seen hereabouts since the British were chasing Washington back to the East River (or at least since the Dodgers left.) If someone is going to wean Bron from the teat of adoring Ohio, it's only right and fitting that it should be Brooklyn. Your decadent empire lies in ruins, Knicks fans. Let LeBron breathe the free republican air of Kings County!

Monday, March 24, 2008

NCAA Tournament Open Thread - First Weekend

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the first four days of the tournament. Here are mine so far:

1) Memphis has an enormous amount of talent, and their defense is absolutely tenacious - no team alters more shots than they do. My only concern is that their regimented offense keeps the ball out of their star players' hands on too many plays. (Think of the Dean Smith-era North Carolina Tar Heels, for whom Michael Jordan averaged less than 20 ppg.) It hasn't hurt them yet - after all, they've lost only one game all season -but I expect Calipari to let Derrick Rose dominate the ball a little bit more as the tournament wears on.

2) I like Stephon Curry. You like Stephon Curry. I have no idea if he'll make it on the next level - something tells me his relatively shortage of steals and rebounds means he won't transition well into the NBA - but he's a wonderful college player, and a lot of fun to watch.

3) Kevin Love was awesome this past weekend. With his physical play, basketball IQ, and clutch fall-away jump shots, he has become the first 19 year-old white guy to remind me of 35 year-old Karl Malone.

4) Ranking the upsets and near-upsets: Villanova and Davidson clearly outplayed their opponents and deserved to win their games - Kudos to them. I really liked the guys from Butler; I was sorry to see them lose such a heartbreaker to Tennessee, which would have been a win for the ages. Marquette played terrifically against Stanford, and in my opinion deserved to win that game. Brook Lopez's game-winning shot was very impressive, but I still don't like his game, or that of his brother - they're not very tough, they whine to the officials constantly, and they don't use their height very well. They'll be out of the tournament before too long. West Virginia looked pretty thuggish in their win over a very flat Duke team; for some reason I have a hard time getting excited about low-seeded teams from major conferences winning "upset" games, especially when the program has made it to the round of 8 and the round of 16 in the past 3 years. Some of the other upsets - for instance Western Kentucky over Drake and San Diego - didn't really register with me

Sunday, March 23, 2008

see a little light

new ad campaign for TIAA-CREF includes, as background music, "see a little light" by Bob mould (formerly of Husker Du and eventually of Sugar). HD were one of the originally indie bands, and "see a little light", althouhg beautiful and anthemic, is not really a cheerful song. I know getting outraged about the use of pop songs to sell stuff is passe. and I guess TIAA-CREF isn't the kind of company one gets mad about (the are a financial services company for public servants and educators). but i still kindof object to the use of snippets of culture to support claims about which the work makes no reference. (please see my objections to misunderstanding the last line of the great gatsby and all commercial references to "born in the USA"). yes, part of the song says "I can see a little light/ I know you will/ I can see it in your eyes/ I know you still care." and this resonates with the pubic perception of public servants, but the elided next line is "but if you want me to go/ you should just say so." the song is a sad one about the very end of a long relationship (think of a similar tone to kate nash's "foundations"). I guess I am headed off the rails here a bit, but I just finished "Raj, bohemian" and it furthered my discomfort with infilatration of consumer culture into the deepest recesses of our lives.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

species of morons or nation of them

I know being all bill james-y is lame, but I was just thinking about how idiotic baseball stats are. I was reading an article on the worldwide leader about Javy lopez and all it said was that his numbers declined every year for the last 3 years. He hit fewer dingers, scored fewer runs, and drove in fewer runs. Now this isn't the least bit interesting if his at-bats were also declining (because he was demoted to backup catcher and/or didn't play very much because he was injured). obviously these statistics are being drive in large part by at-bats (not to mention batting order position, and the situations in which he was batting). Basically, his published stats told me nothing. I guess the same is true for pretty much all absolute stats (as opposed to normalized ones). how did we get here? It seems like most sports have one productivity normalized measure (batting average in baseball, points per game and/or field goal percentage in basketball, Quarterback rating in football although that is new), but strangley they only have this one or two. So clearly there is a sense of the utility of normalized stats, but far from complete penetration of the idea. do any other cultures keep more appropriate statistics or do they all fall prey to absolutism? are we a nation of morons or a species of them? This is my sociology PhD right here.

Fuck You, I'm Hillary Clinton And You're Not!

A month or so ago, when Hillary Clinton began to play her "experience" card and run those red phone advertisements, she told a story about how she had come under sniper fire when she visited American troops in Bosnia in the mid-1990's. The point of her story was to emphasize how she's had all sorts of presidential experiences that the upstate Obama cannot match. There was ample reason to be skeptical of her story - nobody remembered hearing about it at the time, which was weird, because if the First Lady was shot at by snipers it would probably have made the newspapers.

The comedian Sinbad, along for the trip to boost the troops' morale, had an entirely different recollection of the landing in Bosnia. According to Sinbad, there was never any sniper fire; to the contrary, their arrival was met with a large welcoming ceremony. Sinbad, who supports Obama, has been telling his version of the story during his stand-up performances.

When confronted with Sinbad's version of the story, Hillary impeached Sinbad's credibility by reminding the questioner that Sinbad is a professional comedian who needs to tell stories to entertain crowds, and reiterated her original version of the story.

Then, political bloggers unearthed this old news story, which proves that everything Sinbad said was true:



What was she thinking? Did she really think she could get away with lying about an event that had so many hundreds of witnesses, and was recorded by so many cameras? At this point, its next to impossible to take anything that she says seriously, and our contempt for this woman continues to grow.

Marxist morning

So I am free for the weekend, and I am taking advantage make some progress on my manuscripts. Keep you eyes peeled for "quantifying external provisioning effects using novel regularity between linear and post-linear growth phase chicks" in an ornithological journal near you in the next 18 months. but I digress.

so I am in the harvard english department, and there are latino men, literally on their hands and knees, scrubbing the marble steps inside the english department building. talk about symbolism. I know, I know, Milton Friedman and Adam Smith just called to tell me to stop being such a sissy and to shut up. but man.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Music

Gnarls Barkley and Destroyer both have new albums out this week. I'll always associate Gnarls Barkley with the great summer I spent in Brooklyn; it seemed as if "Crazy" and "Smiley Faces" were playing out of a window on every street corner in the summer of 2006. Destroyer isn't very well known in the United States, but they're deserved popular in Canada, and are one of the bands out of which the supergroup The New Pornographers was formed. Both albums are really good - check them out if you get the chance.

Also, I'm sort of in love with the cover of the Gnarls Barkley album - if they sell it in poster-size, I'm going to get one for my office.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

South Park Is Back

The new season of South Park started last week. The first episode of the season was pretty weak - Cartman gets HIV from a blood transfusion (something that would have been topical and edgy 15 years ago) and, when Stan makes fun of him, Cartman gets revenge by sneaking into Stan's room and injects him with a shot of his own infected blood. In the end, the kids learn from Magic Johnson that they can fight the HIV virus by liquifying money in a blender and injecting it into their veins. Are you laughing yet? Me neither.

Regardless, the Onion A.V. Club's interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone was really interesting.

Some Links

Here are a few things that I've come across recently....

(1) Dickipedia
If you have a few minutes, be sure to check out this Wiki for dicks.

A couple brief excerpts from the Dickipedia profile for "moderate" dick David Brooks:

Though he is a conservative, the primary reason for his success is not his popularity among conservatives, but, rather, among liberals. He is, in fact, known as the liberals’ “favorite conservative.” This is because he speaks softly, is effeminate, and gently gratifies their self-loathing, masochistic wish to be insulted.


In 1997, Brooks wrote an influential article called “A Return to National Greatness,” for The Weekly Standard, the in-house newsletter for neo-con dicks. “National Greatness” is what results when unacknowledged feelings of sexual inadequacy manifest themselves as a theory of foreign policy.


(2) Keyboard Kid

This is the kind of depraved crap law students with warped senses of humor find hilarious when toiling over briefs.



(3) DMX Talks Politics
A classic interview (or excerpt from a longer interview) discussing the Presidential campaign, particularly the candidacy of Barack Obama.


4) MGMT - Time to Pretend

I haven't really been keeping up with new(ish) music at all this year. This song has been played a lot on the local alternative station and it gets stuck in my head every time. A live performance of this song on Letterman can be found here.


5) The show has hit a new low.

Of all the stories I've read about the gas prices crisis, this one is by far the most bizarre and extreme.

Will Arnett's "Sex Tape"

This skit from the MTV sketch comedy show "Human Giant" is hilarious but really, really disturbing. I expect fans of the late sitcom Arrested Development to particularly enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Common Sense Dancing NCAA Tournament Pool

Here at CSD headquarters we have started an NCAA tournament pool for this blog's readers and contributors. You're all welcome to join! The bracket, which is being run on the CBS Sportsline website, can be found at this link.

The group name of the league is "Common Sense Dancing" and the password is "blog."

UPDATE: Some readers are having difficulty joining the pool. If you would like to join the pool, but can't sign up by clicking on the link I've posted up above, please e-mail me at wadegarrett1989@gmail.com or us at commonsensedancing@gmail.com and we will e-mail you an invitation to join the league.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An Oral History of the NCAA Tournament First Round

Ever since I watched the mighty UNLV Runnin' Rebels light up Duke in the NCAA men's basketball national championship game when I was in first grade, I have been a nut for the NCAA tournament. I'll spare you the long-winded explanation of why I generally prefer watching college basketball to pro basketball, but I'm hardly alone in thinking that the opening two days of the NCAA Tournament are the two most exciting days in sports. The first round is special for many reasons that have been discussed at length elsewhere. I, for one, love watching teams from lesser conferences finally getting the chance to prove they can hang with the nation's top programs. The human drama involved with (1) an unknown team elevating its level of play beyond what its normally capable of or (2) a top team faltering in the face of the less prestigious team's intensity is truly compelling stuff.

As a History geek and lover of such things, below I have included a short "oral history" of some of my favorite first round games of the past ten years.


UCLA/Princeton - 1996


This is probably the most well-known first round upset in tournament history. UCLA had lost a number of its better players from the previous season, but was still the defending national champion and had restocked the cupboards with a number of elite recruits. Princeton, while 22-7 and dominant in Ivy League play, was understandably expected to be blown away by UCLA's superior talent and athleticism. I remember watching the dramatic last minutes of this game with my father at the Stereo Advantage, where we had dropped off our TV for repairs. Even as a 13 year old 7th grader who had yet to try to understand many of the finer points of the game, I could appreciate the near-poetic fashion in which Princeton won the game - a dorky-looking dude acing a player of superior talent who was caught lazy and flat-footed on a backdoor play. Gus Johnson brings it home - awesome stuff.


Mississippi/Valparaiso - 1998

I remember watching this game freshman year in the library of my high school, where one of the more compassionate teachers had set up a TV so students could watch the games during their lunch period (in subsequent years I saved myself the trouble of watching it in the library and just skipped school with a bunch of my friends on the opening Thurs/Fri of the tourney). Your heart breaks for the Ole Miss player who misses two big free throws at the end of the game, but the great execution on that last play by Valpo is one of the more memorable plays in college basketball history.


Oregon/Seton Hall - 2000
This game wasn't even that big of an upset (Seton Hall was a 10 seed and Oregon was a 7 seed), but it holds a special place in my heart because I was there to see it in person. Buffalo was selected as a venue for first and second round games my junior year of high school, and like half of St. Joe's students, I skipped school on that Friday (which also happened to be St. Patrick's Day) to go to the games. After Oregon took a 1-point lead with six seconds to go, Seton Hall point guard Shaheen Holloway went coast-to-coast and hit a buzzer-beating layup in overtime to win 72-71. Afterwards, I joined said half of my high school at a blatantly illegal St. Patty's Day party at the now-defunct Doc's Arena.



Syracuse/Vermont - 2005



Kansas/Bucknell - 2005


Both of these games were played on the same night of the tournament during my senior year of college. I remember going to a packed Richter's in New Haven with a bunch of friends to watch the games over some half-yards.

Everyone was in disbelief as Vermont, which featured two talented stars in center Taylor Coppenrath and point guard TJ Sorrentine but precious little depth, continually frustrated and outplayed Syracuse, which had won the national championship two years before and had made a great run to win the Big East tournament the previous week. Even though I had always been sympathetic to Syracuse as a kid, I couldn't help but join the bar-wide celebration when Germain Mopa-Njila hit a three to put Vermont up a point with two minutes to go. Sorrentine's subsequent balls-of-steel, what-the-fuck-is-he-thinking 35-footer to put Vermont up four pretty much brought the house down. While corny, there is something to be said for the tournament that makes me exchange high-fives with total strangers over the success of guys we had barely heard of two hours before.


Iowa/Northwestern State - 2006


The tournament takes on more significance in the life of the average male when stuck in a dull corporate job. The tournament is the ultimate water-cooler discussion topic, and CBS' introduction of streaming broadcasts of the games in 2006 essentially brought the American economy to a halt during the tournament's opening days. I remember watching this game with a bunch of my co-workers, who had sneakily reserved a conference room so we could watch the games on a projection TV. We kinda lost ourselves in the last minute and suddenly realized we were yelling and throwing high fives next door to where the sale of Banco Pactual to UBS was happening. Whichever multi-national corporation paid for our room and sandwiches that day...thanks.

Tragic Gardening Accident?

Yesterday, former ABBA drummer Ola Brunkert was found dead in the garden of his home in Spain. He was 62 years old. I don't want to make fun, but I can't get over how closely it resembles the funniest and most famous joke about rock drummer mortality. The authorities say its one of those things that's best left unsolved, really.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Talkin' Roundball

1) In my bracket, I've got UCLA winning the NCAA championship. Between Kevin Love, Darren Collison and . . . that ugly dude, they've got a dominant post, a dominant point guard and an explosive wingman who can carry them for five or six possessions at a time when they need him to. To win the tournament, you need to be effective at playing more than one style, and UCLA seems to me to be the team that's best built for March. Apparently, Stanford's Lopez twins are expected to go higher in the draft than UCLA's Kevin Love. Wouldn't that be typical of bad NBA teams? Who's going to draft Brook Lopez ahead of Kevin Love - will it be Milwaukee, New Jersey or Atlanta?

2) The Houston Rockets have won 22 consecutive games, the second-longest winning streak in the history of the NBA. One of the most remarkable things about the streak is that, before the season began, many in the basketball world viewed the Houston Rockets as a two-man team, and one of those two men, center Yao Ming, was injured halfway through this winning streak. Even more amazingly, Houston makes up for Yao's scoring not by having Tracy McGrady - their other star player - take more shots, but rather, by distributing their shots among five or six other contributors. Their defense, which has always been among the best in the NBA, has been absolutely stifling over the past two weeks, and Shane Battier's performance in yesterday's nationally-televised game against the Los Angeles Lakers was one of the most impressive individual defensive performances I've seen in a long time (Kobe was 11-for-33, and had Battier's hand in his face every time he released the ball.) Houston's rookie power forwards, Luis Scola and Carl Landry, are combining to average 19 and 11 rebounds on almost 60% shooting in 39 minutes per game.

3) A good way to tell that the NBA is back is this: Five NBA point guards are averaging more than 10 assists a game this season. The last time more than two guards averaged 10 assists per game was

4) This season, Kansas State freshman Michael Beasley has put up numbers that exceed or match Kevin Durant's from one year ago. Most people consider Durant's '06-'07 campaign to be the greatest freshman season in a generation, but I wonder if perhaps we can expect one such season to happen, somewhere in the country, every year for the foreseeable future. Before 1995, even the best college players stayed in college until they were 21 or 22 years old, meaning that the top amateur players had to play against teams of 22 year old future pros. Between 1995 and 2006, the best high school seniors entered the NBA draft straight out of high school. Slightly less talented players went to college, but turned professional after a season or two. Today, the best players are still leaving college early, only the truly elite 18 year olds are now required to play in college for at least one year. The sophomore, junior, and senior classes are just as weak as they've been for the past 12 years, but now the freshmen classes are full of players who, just a few years ago, would have been starting for teams in the NBA. Now, the best amateur players have to play against teams of {19 year old future pros + 22 year old future accountants}. Doesn't it make sense that, almost every year, there's a freshman or two who can average 20 and 10 or better against that level of competition? If so, what sort of perspective does that give us on Kevin Durant's season? Is he a once-in-a-generation player, or was he merely the best player that year?

How Low Can You Go?

There is a minor league baseball team in Macon, Georgia, called the Macon Music. They recently announced a promotion in 'honor' of Elliot Spitzer, the now-former governor of New York State.

Fans named Eliot and Kristen get into the game for free. The ninth and 871st fans to enter the ballpark receive prizes. ATMs in the stadium will be limited so that fans cannot withdraw more than $5,000 per hour. And so on. By this point, Governor Spitzer's fall from grace is pretty complete, but I didn't expect it to have such credence in small cities in the deep south. Who knew?

This New York Magazine Cover is probably the low-water mark, don't you think? I saw that because its hard to imagine it going any lower:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Food Fight

I thought this was kind of fun. Otherwise I've got nothin' for you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Gayest Songs Of All Time

The 50 Gayest Songs of All Time. All things considered, the list is a good one. Some thoughts:

1) I think "Its Raining Men" has to be #1. I mean, come on.

2) "Go West" has got to be in the top five.

3) I never considered Whitney Houston's music to be particularly gay, despite the fact that a good 50% of R&B dance songs sung by black women end up being gay anthems. (Think about it.)

4) I've never thought that "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" was a gay song - am I missing something? If it was sung in the exact same style by two straight people, would anybody consider it gay? I would say probably not.

5) I would definitely have put Cher's "Believe" among the top ten. Full disclosure - that song has always been a guilty pleasure of mine.

6) Kylie Minogue's songs rank highly in large part because she's Australian, and samesame.come is an Australian website. I don't think she would have been so high otherwise - anywhere else in the world, she's less of a gay icon than Madonna or Cher.

7) Sister Sledge's "He's The Greatest Dancer" should have been in the top 20, and you can't convince me otherwise. Damn, this song is good.

Mid-Week Links

1) The Killing Joke - The New Yorker's profile of the Coen Brothers was really well done.

2) The Hater was particularly funny today, I thought.

3) Sinbad hasn't been relevant in ages, but his bit on Hillary Clinton's alleged foreign policy experience was interesting. When Sinbad makes you look this bad, its time to hang it up. Also, if I was a soldier serving in a foreign country and the USO sent Sinbad to entertain me, I'd definitely take names.

4) Nina's photoessay on downtown Madison, Wisconsin made me unexpectedly nostalgic.

5) As much as I find him personally annoying, I've always liked Joakim Noah's game. He had 20 rebounds against Cleveland last night, upstaging Cleveland's Ben Wallace, whom Noah replaced in the Bulls' starting lineup. In Wallace's 127 games as a member of the Chicago Bulls, he never had as many as 20 rebounds in a single game. Players like Noah are too often relegated to playing roles off of the bench - too many teams think that point guard is the only position that can make all of the other players on the floor better at the same time. Having said that, advertisements like this one, for a French sporting goods manufacturer "Le Coq Sportif," is damn near unconscionable, even for a Frenchman.

6) Pour one out on the curb for Jeff Healey, the famous blues singer. Healey was the main attraction at Jeff Healey's Roadhouse, a Toronto nightclub named after the 1989 movie Roadhouse, in which he co-starred alongside (among others) Wade Garrett.

Elliot Spitzer

By now, everybody has heard about how Elliot Spitzer, the Governor of the State of New York, resigned in disgrace after a federal prosecutor leaked the news that he was being investigated as one of the customers of a nationwide ring of elite prostitutes known as The Emperor's Club.

A couple of thoughts:

1) I feel really, really badly for his wife and his children. Look at how distraught his wife looks in this video. I never felt this sorry for Hillary Clinton, because it was clear from the start that Hillary knew that her husband was a cheater who was never going to change his ways, but had made a deal to stick by him during his presidency in return for his promise to do everything in his power to advance her political career once he left office. That's a tough choice to make, but she made it, and because of it people didn't feel for her the way they otherwise might have. But Silda Wall Spitzer is a victim, pure and simple, and my heart goes out to her.

2) If you ever wondered why people hate the feds, this is the reason why: Under New York State law, solicitation of a prostitute is a Class B Misdemeanor. It carries a maximum penalty of 60 days jail, but 99% of first-time offenders are sentenced to simple community service or else a program of some kind - for instance, the Kings County District Attorney's Office would have sentenced him to attend "John's School" for five nights, then sent him on his way. The maximum sentence under the Federal guidelines is more than ten years in prison.

3) The website for the Emperor's Club has been taken down since the news hit the wire, but it has been archived at this site. According to the New York Times, this is Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the myspace profile of the woman whose vagina Elliot Spitzer valued more highly than his good name, the trust of his family, and the governorship of the State of New York.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'm Back Off the Shelf

I've been away from the blog for the past five days, because I've been in the hospital. I was in pretty rough shape there for a couple of days, but hey - nobody said that bouncing at The Double Deuce and protecting the people of Jasper, Missouri was going to be easy.

Evelyn Waugh was a man

good gravy! Dear statehouse leader gets busted for consorting with hookers and not even a peep from wade et al.? Are we just in partisan mourning? Maybe since wade is a on the state payroll he doesn't think it right to comment. Well, I do. Good gravy, you moron. hopefully you can rebound your career like Jerry Springer did. (For those of you less consumed by Jerry than I, he was mayor of Cincinnati, and was busted for consorting with a hooker because he WROTE HER A CHECK.) I swear I might start a business as a political consultant. the only piece of advice I will peddle is: stay away from hookers!

I would also like to take a moment to discuss the fact that he checked into his hotel in DC as "George Fox" (the founder of The Society of Friends (Quakerism) of which I happen to be a member). I am not really insulted by this. but I do think it would be funny if he made a habit of checking in under other assumed religious names. Joseph Smith seems the least detectable. Maybe Mother Anne? Warren Jeffs? John Calvin? This whole thing reminds me of my favorite line about assumed names and hotels (from "Lost in Translation"): "Evelyn Waugh was a man."

moron.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Another Classic Work of Literature Ruined

"Green color represents hope. My green light is Harvard." - Jinzhao Wang, 14, student at the Boston Latin School.

This New York Times article on teaching The Great Gatsby to American high school students - particularly high-achieving immigrant students - sort of disturbed me. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The New Gnarls Barkley Video Drops

The new Gnarls Barkley video is out. There's a rumor that it has been banned from MTV on the grounds that it may cause epileptic seizures, but after watching it a couple of times, I don't see where the danger, but then, what do I know?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Two Fairly Liberal Dudes

Education Dude, a longtime fan of the blog and a pretty liberal dude, has started a blog of his own with one of his friends. Two Fairly Liberal Dudes is worth checking out, especially if you're into politics.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

One More Day

As most of you know, tonight's primaries in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island will most likely decide the Democrat nominee for the presidency of the United States. If Obama wins either of the two remaining large states, the nomination is effectively his. If Hillary wins both of the large states, the delegate count will be close enough that the nominee will be decided by the super delegates at the Democratic National Convention, in which case the Clintons, who have more friends in the high places and more favors to call in, are perceived to have an advantage. Today is a big day.

So far, Obama has outperformed just about every election-day projection. Either he has some great knack for closing out close races, or else, as election day approaches, and advertisements and news stories make potential voters more aware of the positions and personalities of the candidates who have otherwise just gone with name recognition, Obama gains ground. Or there may be some sort of systematic problem - in 1948 Dewey was projected to beat Truman because the polling was largely done over the phone and pollsters overlooked the fact that, in 1948, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to live in homes without telephones. Could some similar systematic problem be effecting the polls taken during this campaign season?

Anyway, here is Senator Obama's latest campaign ad. Its very basic, but I like it:

This is a big day! I feel like taking to the streets and singing about it, with and against his political opponents in a choreographed production number:


And the even-more popular song that ripped it off:


And, of course, my favorite of the bunch:

More Adventures in Local Newscasting

This woman believes that her son's talking Elmo doll is telling her son to kill people. You Action Eight news team has the story.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Observations on the Socialite In Its Natural Habitat

I went to a black tie dinner last night to benefit the Junior League. Some random thoughts:

1) There are white people. There are very white people. There are very, very white people. Then, there are people who attend Junior League fundraisers. The guests at the party last night were VARSITY Caucasian.

2) You know you're at a good party when the dance floor empties during Outkast's "The Way You Move" and Timberlake's "Like I Love You," but fills up for Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" and Tom Petty's "American Girl." Only not really.

3) One of the items up for bids in the silent auction was this two-level fancy glass serving thing. Upon closer inspection, it was a dish designed for the purpose of serving caviar. Apparently there's a market for that sort of thing. I suppose its classier than the upside down souvenir Buffalo Bills football helmet out of which I have always served caviar.

4) Cipriani's - located in the old Bowery Savings Bank building on 42nd Street - is totally baller. Check it out sometime if you haven't already.

5) Two of my favorite New York City stereotypes - the 50 year-old man with a hot 30 year-old second wife, and the late middle aged woman slightly tipsy after consuming nothing all day but four carrot sticks, three vodka martinis and an estrogen pill - were aggressively on display last night.

6) I expect that a depressing number of women had to soak their feet upon getting home last night - the ridiculousness of the shoes on display really had to be seen to be believed. More than a few people were wearing my week's salary on their feet. I'll never understand why women spend so much money on shoes to make their feet look cute, then have to take their shoes off at formal occasions because the uncomfortable shoes are making their feet hurt.

7) There is a certain type of real-thin New York thirty-something from the small of whose back you can drop a plum line straight to the floor. This is true regardless of breast size, which can sometimes be very large. What is it about the New York City drinking water that produces so many ass-less women? The special lady friend and I spent a good portion of the night making snide remarks about this phenomenon.

8) Tom Wolfe was right.

Congratulations Are In Order

Friend of the blog Sean Ryan recently signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins, for what will be his fifth year in the National Football League. Congratulations!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Idiom Shortage Leaves Nation All Sewed Up in Horse Pies

This is serious - its an absolute oyster carnival.

I would like to point out that one of my colleagues thought this article was serious.

Great Television

William F. Buckley Jr. dies this week, at the age of 83. I saw him speak in person a couple of times, and he was more or less exactly what you expected him to be - smart, witty and charming, a little pretentious and proud of his high American/faux British accent.

Buckley's great contribution to American life, it seems to me, is that he gave conservatism an intellectual basis independent of the nativism and pro-capitalist laizzez-faire policies that caused the Republican party to lose twenty years' worth of elections. If there's one hole in his legacy, it is that, despite his cleverness with one-liners and polysyllabic words, he never produced a single classic along the lines of A Theory of the Leisure Class or A People's History of the United States. (God and Man at Yale doesn't count. Then again he did host a weekly talk show on public television, Firing Line, which contained some of the most sophisticated discussions ever seen on American tv. Here, for instance, is his famous interview with Noam Chomsky about the Vietnam War, originally broadcast in 1969.

Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.