Saturday, August 30, 2008

Paging Lloyd Bentsen

The New York Times' Gail Collins predicts that, during the Vice-Presidential debate, Joe Biden is going to say, in response to Governor Palin's self-comparison to Hillary Clinton, "I served with Hillary Clinton. I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine. Governor, you are no Hillary Clinton."

Of course, he's not actually going to use that line, but can you think of any debate in which such a line would be more appropriate?

Some Songs I've Had Stuck In My Head Lately

Hey, its a slow friday night. Here are some songs I've had stuck in my head lately:

Paul Simon -
The Obvious Child
Let's just say that after eight months at my current job I have a new appreciation for the lyrics "I don't expect to be treated like a fool no more, I don't expect to sleep through the night." Also, other than Johnny Cash's Fulsom Prison performance, Springsteen's Passaic, New Jersey show from 1978, The Last Waltz, the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Nirvana's Unplugged concerts and the original Simon & Garfunkel reunion concert in Central Park, this is one of the concerts I most wish I could have been able to attend.

Guns N' Roses - Patience

My life more or less resembles Slash's in this video, only the exact opposite. Also, without the disturbingly literal snake symbolism.

Elton John - Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Still the best song ever written about New York City.

Bob Segar - You'll Accomp'ny Me
One of the great unappreciated love songs in rock and roll. Also, this is one of the single most seventies videos I've ever seen. Also, this song will forever have a place in my heart for the beautiful way it was used in the "Smooching and Mooching" episode of Freaks and Geeks.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Backstreets
To paraphrase Tom Perrotta, I've always felt a bit proprietary about Springsteen's music. I don't come home from work and wash up and go racing in the street, but I do take a certain pride in knowing people who did, or who could have if they wanted to. Also this video kicks fucking ass.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Its No Contest

Joe Biden has been a Senator for thirty-five years. He has served on the Judiciary Committee and the Committee For Foreign Relations. He is as responsible as anyone for keeping Robert Bork off of the Supreme Court. We have him to thank for the Violence Against Women Act. Plus, I personally find him inspiring because he is a stutterer who overcame it to have a lengthy career as a public speaker.

Sarah Palin's has been governor of the State of Alaska for two years. For the record, Alaska has almost exactly one-quarter of the population of the Borough of Brooklyn, the county in which I reside. Before that, she was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska - a town of 9,000 people. She has also been a sportscaster and a commercial fisherwoman.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yes, We Can

I don't know how to describe my feelings towards Barack Obama. I don't know if I have a man-crush on him, or whether its an actual gay crush. All I know is that I love him.

raw fish, eat me

So I was originally going to ignore this piece of crap from the NYT, but then one of my supervisors who lives in Brooklyn brought up how interesting and amazing the piece was and how shocking the results were, so I must now release the hateful truth upon you to make sure none of you make such fools of yourselves.

NYT story goes: brave young girls perform complex genetic analysis, uncover consumer scandal about mislabeled sushi.

We put this story through our proprietary NYT bullshit-stripper and came out with this: Two white girls go to Trinity HS in NYC. One of their fathers is a geneticist. He uses genetic fingerprinting to determine the species of things for a living. Girls decide they want to test sushi using this genetic techniques to see if said sushi is labeled properly. (the article attributes this as the girls' idea, and we will believe them for the sake of charity). This technique is already widely used for seafood ID, most notably caviar. Girls go out and buy a lot of sushi. Girls cut off tiny piece, stick in in plastic sample tube and freeze. girls eat rest of sushi. Girls send fish samples to some poor Asian grad student in Ontario to do all the actual genetics. Results come back. Sample size is too small to be statistically relevant or publishable. but in anecdotal terms, girls discover that Red Snapper is frequently mislabeled. Unfortunately a Clemson scientist has already discovered, documented, and published this fact. White Tuna (like albacore--who orders white tuna anyway?) is frequently mislabeled. unfortunately, a google search can tell you that. The article refers to the Clemson scientists response: "he added that genetic analysis had been simplified to the point that high school students could now perform the task without sending samples off." Translation: We are talking about my colleague's kid here, so I am not going to scorch the earth, but do the work yourself and learn something, lazybones.

Now I have no problem with high school students doing shitty, derivative research. Shitty research is the first step towards good research. I honestly believe that, and this was probably something close to an age-appropriate high-school project. I am happy they are engaged with science.

but why the fuck is this in the new york times? seriously. They didn't discover anything. and they didn't do any work. Where are the articles about the Ontario student or the Clemson professor? oh right: white girls+NY private schools+elitist foods+complex-sounding technology=NYT gold. Fuck me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"What Could Make Somebody Want To Leave New York And Move To Buffalo?"

So asks New York Magazine. Hey, some people like living in New York City and others like living in a place where they can buy a single-family house with four bedrooms for $250,000. The couple featured in the article work in freelace professions - one is a musician and music teacher, the other is a freelance proofreader - who can work from anywhere. Those in the service professions, particularly law, accounting and advertising, have a somewhat more difficult go of it in Buffalo because there aren't as many big clients to service. And there is very little opportunity in certain occupations such as finance, fashion, television/acting/stand-up comedy, brand consulting, and so forth. New York is the best fit for a lot of people, but it takes some balls for New York Magazine to admit that people may in fact be happy somewhere else.

The Onion A.V. Club Interviews the "Stuff White People Like Guy"

Apparently, his name is Christian Lander. Just take a look at him - you know you want to kick his ass. Does he look like he just pedaled over to this photo shoot, with a fresh baguette and the latest issue of The New Yorker dangling out of his open backpack? I don't think so, either. You know what white people like, hipsters on bicycles! They're just so white!!1!1

As you may surmise, I don't particularly like his blog, but a lot of my friends (and, for that matter, fellow contributors) do, so on those grounds he'll avoid a Double Deuce-style beatdown, at least for the time being.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

*Nerd Alert*

The new Coldplay song "Viva La Vida" reminds a Washington DC-area DJ of the type of music that would play during the montage of an 80's movie . . . then constructs a plot for the sort of movie to which it would belong. The plot involves the Yale crew team. Hey, why not - its a slow day.

P.S. I should have posted this a month ago, when it was still somewhat current.

Dunkin' Donuts Independents

They're more important than you'd think:
Latest Poll Reveals 430 New Demographics That Will Decide Election

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mansion On The Hill

As covered by The National.

"It Makes Moby Dick Look Like A Flaming Pile of Horseshit By Comparison"

Nathan Rabin reads The Watchmen as part of The Onion A.V. Club's "Better Late Than Never" series and is totally blown away. My praise for it is slightly less hyperbolic, but it is still the best comic book I've ever read, and the one that holds up the best after repeated readings, deserving its place on Time Magazine's list of the All-Time Top 100 Novels and Entertainment Weekly's list of the "New Classics" of literature.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Calling All Basketball Nerds

Complete video of the quarterfinal match-up between Greece and Argentina can be seen here. Many serious basketball fans consider these two countries to be the leading practitioners of the international style - drive-and-kick guard play, extensive use of the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop, big men who can shoot, guards who post up, and widespread use of tall wingmen with quick releases.

At an hour and forty minutes, the video is a little on the long side, but it is must-see viewing for serious basketball fans.

Click here for analysis from TrueHoop's Henry Abbott.

The Women's Double

Its probably safe to say that the women's double from the 2008 Olympics was one of the best rowing races of all-time. Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell - fan favorites and defending Olympic champions - came from far behind to nip Germany and Great Britain at the finish line. Here is the photo-finish. Again, I'm sorry there's no sound.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The 2008 Olympic Men's 1x

Sadly, there's no sound.

I'm still trying to find video of the awesome women's double competition; I'll post it if I ever find it.

Woody Allen

The Onion A.V. Club interviewed Woody Allen, and it was good.

His new film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, has been getting good reviews. Has anybody seen it yet?

Captain Obvious

The complete list of "stuff white people like." Enjoy your book deal, guys! You've earned it.

Apparently, white people life architecture, dogs, 'being offended,' sweaters, and both coffee and tea. Apparently, black people like sleeping under the stars, cats, have thick skins, being cold, and being sleepy. Man, what a great blog!!!!!1

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michael Phelps, or He Hate Me?

I've been glued to the television for the past nine days, watching the Olympics, and I'm not the only one - from a broadcaster's perspective, the rights to broadcast the Olympics are as valuable as those to broadcast the Super Bowl. The Olympics is compelling viewing, even for people who don't normally watch sports, and, for those who do watch sports consistently, the Olympics allows them the opportunity to watch swimming, track and field, rowing, speed skating, skiing, and other sports that only receive airtime once every four years.

That makes me wonder - if swimming can keep a nation glued to its television sets for a week at a time, once every four years, what sort of audience would it draw the rest of the time? In non-Olympic years, just about every sport has World Championships, or at the very least a World Cup. I may not watch swimming as often as I now watch major league baseball, but I would make time for it once or twice a year during the world championships or the national championships, particularly if swimmers like Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, and Aaron Piersoll were involved. The same with track and field, and any number of other sports. NASCAR and the PGA Tour have every event broadcast on national television. Even if you're a golf fan, wouldn't you trade a minor professional tournament for the swimming world championships once a year or so? Wouldn't the Australian Open in tennis, or the world championships in track and field draw more viewers than the World Series of Poker, or the World's Strongest Man competition? Why do we get the relatively far afield the Arena League football, high school football, small college basketball, and Little League World Series games that ESPN broadcasts every month, but not the most important events in other, Olympic sports? I don't understand it - maybe that's why I'm not a television executive.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"The Thing Is, Nobody Ever Cared Who Let The Dogs Out"

Retrocrush counts down the twenty most annoying pop songs of all time. You can probably guess what's number one.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Did That Just Happen?

Usain Bolt just won a gold medal in the 100 meter dash, running a world record time of 9.69 seconds, but what's really amazing is that Bolt was so far out in front of the field that he basically stopped sprinting with 20 meters left in the race, smiling and pumping his arms and gesturing to the crowd. What time would he have run if he had sprinted all of the way to the tape? Could he have broken 9.6? Could he have gone 9.5? One would think that, in the finals of the Olympic games, ten seconds wouldn't be too long to to concentrate and focus, but when you're as good as Usain Bolt, I guess you can afford to showboat.

Also, is it just me, or does American sprinter Walter Dix remind anybody else of Rick James?

Don't Act Like You're Not Impressed

Michael Phelps just won his eighth gold medal of the Olympic games - something that nobody in the 112 year history of the modern Olympics has accomplished. In seven of the eight events, Phelps set an individual world record, or a team world record in conjunction with his teammates.

Natalie Coughlin just won her sixth medal of this Olympics, which is a record for an American woman. She has now won eleven medals in the eleven Olympic events in which she has competed.

Dana Torres also won the eleventh medal of her Olympic career, her third silver of this Olympic games, and her second gold medal IN THE PAST TEN MINUTES.

Michael Phelps is a single guy. So, um . . . all he has to do now is walk out his front door in the Olympic Village and point, right?

One One-Hundredth of a Second!!!

Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell of New Zealand defended their Olympic gold medal by winning the finals of the women's double by one one-hundredth of a second. You can watch the video here (Click on rowing - Day 8 finals.)

I love Carolina and Georgina Evers-Swindell. They're tall, pretty, and, at approximately 6'3" and 170 lbs, they're total bad-asses. Georgina is the world record holder on the rowing maching, going 6:28.5 for 2000 meters.

The Saturday Finals

1) The single sculls races in this Olympics were outstanding. The American single sculler, Harvard graduate Michelle Guerette, rowed the middle thousand meters of the race at 37 strokes per minute - an outrageous stroke rating for the women's single - and surprised the two heavy favorites, Rumyana Neykova and reigning Olympic champion Ekaterina Karsten, by being in the mix as the crews entered the final 300 meters. When Karsten tired and fell off the pace, Guerette claimed the silver medal - the first medal for the United States in the women's single since 1988.

2) In the men's single, all six competitors were overlapping at the half-way point. 2004 gold medalist Olaf Tufte of Norway - one of my favorite stylists in the games - led for the middle thousand meters of the race, got passed by both New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale and the Czech Republic's Milan Dolecek before mounting an incredible final sprint to defend his gold medal. Just beautiful racing from everybody in the six-man field. Tufte, who is a farmer in his native Norway, is famous in rowing circles for hosting a little games of his own on the farm where he lives - he invites other international rowers up to Norway to compete in contests like log-sawing and plow-pulling. Despite, or perhaps because of, his unorthodox cross-training regimen, his rowing stroke is a thing of beauty, and it allowed him to out-race his larger competitors.

3) Australia continues its tradition of winning small team boats, winning both the men's pair and the men's double, and leading the men's fours race for approximately 1850 meters before being passed by the twice-defending Olympic champion British crew in the last 15 strokes. The Australian pair was particularly satisfying to watch - they based at 35 strokes per minute for the body of the race - a good two or three strokes per minute lower than their competitors - but were somehow able to stay up with the field. Then, in the final 600 meters, as the other crews began to tire, Australia had plenty of room to take up the stroke rating, and won going away. This sort of rope-a-dope strategy is frequently attempted, but rarely executed so effectively.

4) Tom James, the 3-seat in the British men's four, has the largest lung capacity ever recorded by the British institute of sport, at 9.2 liters. For those of you who haven't familiar with the obscure landmarks of such physiological testing, Lance Armstrong has a 7-liter lung capacity, and Chris Ahrens, who for the better part of a decade was the big gun of the U.S. men's national team, had a 7.5 liter lung. A nine-liter lung is absolutely off the charts.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Memories of Bernie Mack

Back when it was first in theaters, I saw The Original Kings of Comedy with Jake and the Inspector. We were, if not the only three white people in the room, at least three of the only white people in the room. If you have never had such an experience, all I can is that, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. It adds some unintentional comedy to the considerably amount of intentional comedy in the movie. In particular, I remember that Jake and I laughed so hard at Bernie Mack's Phil Jackson impression that people around us started laughing at us, then we started laughing at being the center of attention, and so forth. Just good times. Here's a clip:

One thing I always admired about Bernie Mack's stand-up acts was the way in which he could wring painful laughs out of serious issues. How many times have you heard a comedian say something like "My sister's on drugs . . . I ain't ashamed to tell ya, some of you probably have family memebers that are fucked up, too, around here." The audience laughs, but they also understand and sympathize.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Scattered Thoughts On the Summer Olympics

1) Michael Phelps now owns eleven Olympic gold medals. So far in this Olympics, he has won five gold medals in five attempts, and set five world records in the process. Try to wrap your head around that for a little while.

2) Just about every swimming final has seen more than one competitor break the world record. My roommate and I think that the new swimsuits - which are more hydrodynamic than shaven skin - risk devaluing world records to the point where they are almost meaningless. Some sports, for instance Major League Baseball and international rowing, prohibit the use of certain technologies, in an attempt to preserve the sanctity of existing records and to keep the sport from becoming a big engineering contest. Is it time that swimming did the same?

3) Jason Kidd had zero points and three turnovers in the United States' game against China. Everybody loves Jason Kidd and he's just about the perfect personality to captain this team, but there's just no way he should be starting over Chris Paul and Deron Williams, unless the team starts him for honorary purposes and then sits him down shortly after the game has begun. If it were up to me, I would start Deron Williams - somewhat of a lesser NBA player than Chris Paul, but whose game is better suited to the international style of play, which puts a premium on 3-point shooting.

4) Is there anything more ridiculous in the summer games than the artistic/choreographed elements of the floor exercise in women's gymnastics? When it comes to human rights abuses, the sight of these poor little girls - who are basically gymnastics robots - dance while middle aged broadcasters in Armani suits shout out things like "she's showing off her funky side!" is just a notch or two below waterboarding. They dance like marionettes. Please, make it stop!

5) Natalie Coughlin, why won't you be my wife?

Monday, August 11, 2008

That Was Awesome

In case you missed it, last night's men's 4 x 100 freestyle relay was one of the most exciting races of any sort that I've ever seen. Here's the video, from NBC's Olympic site.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Dinner Party

The New Yorker has a new short story by Joshua Ferris, author of the excellent Then We Came To The End.

Aie Aie Aie

Stay classy, President Bush.

Isaac Hayes Is Dead at 65

The legendary Isaac Hayes died today, at the age of sixty-five. His theme song to the movie Shaft has become somewhat of a cliched shorthand for tough black guys. Because of that, its easy to forget how totally bad-ass and original it must have sounded in 1972, when Shaft hit movie theaters, and a certain type of black urban cool hit white audiences for the first time.

Of course, a younger generation of Americans knew Isaac Hayes as the voice of 'Chef,' the public school cafeteria worker who teaches Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman about the ways of the world, occasionally breaking into song when spoken word could not contain his pearls of wisdom. My favorite of these was, of course, "chocolate salty balls":

In my opinion, the "Death of Chef" episode is one of South Park's all-time greats. Here is its hilarious conclusion:

His NY Times obituary can be found here.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm Speechless

This video may mark the evolutionary end-point of this blog. Discuss.

Olympic News

1) The US basketball team plays China at 10 AM tomorrow morning. President George W. Bush, Chinese president Hu Jintao and former President of the United States George H.W. Bush are all going to be in attendance. You know you're excited.

2) Rowing: Friends-of-the-blog Steve Coppolla and Micah Boyd compete in the heats of the men's eight tomorrow around 5 AM. Its just a heat, so its not worth waking up early for, but be sure to TiVo it!

3) Swimming: 100 meter freestyle swimming Emily Silver is an early candidate for my quadrennial Olympic swimmer crush. Of course, with two-time defending quadrennial Olympic swimmer crush Natalie Coughlin still around, I'm having trouble making up my mind. My biggest olympic swimming crush of all time was Summer Sanders, a choice justified by her subsequent appearance in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and her current career as a television broadcaster.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Great Ideas I Should Have Thought Of: #1

Hamlet, Facebook newsfeed edition

Wilco Sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" At Wrigley

Wilco sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Wrigley Field on Sunday, the day after they played Lollapalooza. Afterwards, Jeff Tweedy stopped by to chat with the guys in the booth. If you like Wilco this video is worth five minutes of your time.

So That's What Jermaine Has Been Up To . . .

Gentlemen Broncos is about a teenager who attends a science fiction convention, only to find out that all of his ideas have been stolen by a famous, hack airport novelist fantasy writer. Jermaine plays Ronald Chevalier, the famous novelist at the center of the story. This video is for Ronald Chevalier's website, part of the movie's viral marketing campaign.

Thanks for the words: The Hater

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Hipsters Like

The Onion A.V. Club's review of The Airborne Toxic Event's album neatly captures most of the valid criticisms of the indie-hipster crowd. Money quote:

The Airborne Toxic Event appears to live in some kind of social vacuum solely occupied by bands, where everyone's busy drinking and breaking up without ever getting together, wondering when they'll experience a genuine emotion without a hint of self-awareness.

euphemism/biology FAIL

So... why would cougars hunt their own cubs, but for mating? 8yearolddude may care to drop the knowledge. Oh, and I am SO there, just as soon as I draft my 100 word essay about how I am a worthy cub.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

my hating is weak, pathetic

Compared to this masterpiece. You know it's good hating when it makes you feel a little ill.

Tompkins Square Park in the 1980's

I'm glad I didn't move to New York until 2006. What would it take for the city to go back to looking like this? Less than we probably think, I would imagine.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Just Tore Off Your Head . . . And Now I'm Throwing It At Your Body

I know, I know. But I kind of like Coldplay - there are worse things to be than a moderately artistic rock band which every two years releases an album that nobody can get out of their head. Their videos are usually pretty good, and this one is no exception, although I will say that I'm confused as to what they're trying to accomplish between 1:38 and 1:51.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Open Thread: Baseball's Trade Deadline

A number of big names and future Hall of Famers were moved at last week's trade deadline. Feel free to discuss them here if you'd like.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"The Natives had known Denys better than the white people; to them his death was a bereavement."

Yesterday, the Red Sox traded my favorite baseball player, and probably the only one whose play truly ever thrilled me. When Manny Ramirez stepped to the plate, especially in the playoffs, the atmosphere changed wherever people were watching. The man who is known as a space cadet achieved a level of supernatural focus at the plate that was discernible even on television. At the same time, his relaxation was perceptible as well. I will always argue that no baseball player could take a close ball like Manny. His body language left no doubt that he knew it was a ball the whole time, and the way he lowered his bat conveyed a level of contempt for the pitcher that mere mortals could never hope to emulate. Manny's swing is not as sweet as Junior's, but there is a catlike springing grace in it, showing strain, but strain that comes so naturally and spontaneously as to be joyful.

Yet, besides the ideal of grace, relaxation, and focus, Manny meant a lot more. He is a player who meant a lot to me as an outsider who is nevertheless on the inside. Manny is consumed by the craft of baseball, the game itself. He spends more time at the ballpark than most players. Yet he never fully bought the Red Sox mystique, never let baseball be more than it should be. And for this, he was often despised. He is also a bit of a prima donna, but I don't think that's the true reason people are ambivalent about his career. Other inside outsiders understand him, I think. These institutions you've built, we think, they are very good. We want to learn them and excel in them. But they are not our religion, just our craft.