Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Long Walk Home

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

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

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

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

Yeas:

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

Nays:

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

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why John McCain Used To Matter

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

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

Two Fairly Liberal Dudes

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

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

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

Saturday, September 20, 2008

David Foster Wallace

NASCAR Cancels Remainder of Season Following David Foster Wallace's Death

In deference to the memory of Wallace, whose writing on alienation, sadness, and corporate sponsorship made him the author of the century in stock car racing circles and whom NASCAR chairman Brian France called "perhaps the greatest American writer to emerge in recent memory, and definitely our most human," officials would not comment on how points, and therefore this year's championship, would be determined.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"The Women"

Exhibit A why everybody should read the New Yorker:

Anthony Lane, on The Women:

"In short, we are back in the land of “Sex and the City,” and thus with the lurking suggestion that greed—emotional greed, not just the material ravenings of the shopper—is the only alternative to the humiliation that comes from subservience to men. No middle way is permitted . . . Taken together, “Sex and the City,” “Mamma Mia!,” and “The Women” add up to a spectacular trilogy of the inane, and to point that out is not the prerogative of the misogynist or the killjoy. It’s the view of someone who thinks that women deserve better from the movies, and who sees no joys to kill."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week Two in the NFL

1) After two weeks, I am prepared to say the following: the Jets, Jaguars, and Browns aren't as good as they were expected to be. The Bills, Broncos, and Packers are better than they were expected to be. And tomorrow nights' game may show us which team is coming out of the NFC this year.

2a) The Buffalo Bills are 2-0. The Bills have looked very impressive in some areas of the game, namely their defense and special teams. The Bills' offense, which has suffered in recent years due to injuries and overly conservative play calling, has been merely competent so far. I don't understand the Bills sometimes. How can Marshawn Lynch routinely run over linebackers on his way to five-yard gains? Is it a good thing that Lynch breaks two tackles on his way to being stopped at the line of scrimmage, or a bad thing? I love his running style, but it seems as if he takes a lot of hits on his way to getting his yardage. Is the answer to try running him outside more? Pulling or trapping guards? Pitch-outs, counters? Surely the must be a better way to utilize his talents . . . but I have no idea what that would be.

2b) The Bills' next three games are against Oakland, St. Louis and Arizona. Few people before the season would have predicted them to be 4-1 going into their bye week, but at this point that is not an unrealistic expectation.

3) Is Green Bay legit? Is Aaron Rogers really that good? If so, how is that possible, given how badly he looked last season, and this pre-season?

4) Today's San Diego-Denver game was spectacular - not quite as good as the Bills-49ers game from 1992, but definitely one of the better regular season shoot-outs in memory.

5) Marvin Harrison hasn't looked good so far this season. Is he just slowing down with age, or are the Colts' injuries (to Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark, etc) to blame, as Manning has less time to throw and fewer targets with which to spread defenses?

6) Matt Cassell appears to be a perfectly competent game manager - you know, like Tom Brady was before he became a celebrity, star wide receivers started taking huge pay cuts to play with him, and the started running up the score against weaker teams. But Cassell hasn't been able to get the ball to Randy Moss - either last week or this week - and, without him around to stretch the field, the Patriots' offense is going to look relatively pedestrian this season. Welker was open so much because teams were focused on Moss. Morris and Maroney ran so effectively because teams needed nickel and dime packages to cover Welker and Gaffney, since they were already doubling Moss. And so on. Without Brady's ability to hit Moss downfield, the Patriots' offense is going to look more like it did during Brady's early years - screen passes, slant routes, counters, dinks and dunks, and a lot of 20-17 victories. They may even win 10 or 11 games that way. Wouldn't it be funny of Matt Cassell - a career college backup - spelled Tom Brady and led the Patriots deep into the post season, much like Tom Brady - a college backup for much of his career - did in the year 2001?

David Foster Wallace Is Dead Today At Age 46

David Foster Wallace, the author of Infinite Jest, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, Consider the Lobster, and several other books on my bookshelf and those of many of my contemporaries, is dead today. According to the New York Times, he committed suicide by hanging himself in his home; his wife found him when she came home around 9:30 last night.

David Foster Wallace was a virtuosic talent. His two books of essays - A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster - are two of my favorite books. They are beautifully written, cover a broad range of subjects, and provide laypeople with sophisticated insights into subjects like the novels of Doystoyevsky, the films of David Lynch and professional tennis, without resorting to insiderism or using jargon excessively. They are the type of books you feel smarter for having read; that you are always lending out to your friends and trying to persuade other people to read. Also, his essay on Roger Federer, published during the 2006 U.S. Open, is probably the best essay ever written about tennis and one of the best essays ever written about a sport.

DFW's fiction is somewhat more of a mixed bag. He had as much talent as a fiction writer as he did a non-fiction writer - several of my friends consider Infinite Jest to be among their favorite novels, and I understand why. I enjoyed what I read of it, but I made the mistake of beginning it during the spring of my third year in law school, which was a big mistake - I had to set it aside during finals, and then while I studied for the bar exam, and, by the time I was able to pick it up again, months had passed and I wasn't about to go back and re-read the 500 pages I had already read. Perhaps now, as a tribute to him? Generally I preferred his non-fiction, but the man had so much talent that even his fictions - which I believed was sometimes written more to prove a point than anything else - were almost as brilliant as his essays.

David Foster Wallace was a major cultural figure to educated 20-, 30- and 40-somethings. He will be missed.

The Election Is Over

Tina Fey impersonates Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. There are some things you just don't do: you never key another man's car or eat another man's fries, you don't piss over Charles Bronson, you don't throw Manny Ramirez a hanging curveball over the middle of the plate, and you don't nominate an air-headed hockey mom for vice-president when the most beloved comic actor in American looks exactly like her and is a registered member of the other political party.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Songs I've Had Stuck In My Head Lately

Liking both Credence Clearwater Revival and Sly and the Family Stone is a little bit like cheering for both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but what can I say - the jukebox at CSD headquaters is eclectic. Enjoy.

Sly and the Family Stone - If You Want Me To Stay


Jackson Brown - Somebody's Baby


Fleetwood Mac - You Make Lovin' Fun


Credence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary

Its difficult, in today's wintry post-Big Lebowski world, to listen to Credence without somewhat of a sense of irony, but their music holds up really well after forty years - even the songs they stole from Ike and Tina Turner.

Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me

If you don't think this is awesome, then I don't know what to tell you.

Breathe With Me

Yes, I know this is very stupid. But its a lazy saturday morning after a 70-hour work week - indulge me.
Just for old time's sake, here's the original, which will never go out of style:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Say What?

I do not find this reassuring:

GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"

PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.

GIBSON: Didn't that take some hubris?

PALIN: I - I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink.

So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.

Sarah Palin answers him yes; I whisper "No." Fifty bucks to anybody who can explain to me what she meant by waying "you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the misson that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink." I also hear that Hawaii has always had a pivotal role in the Pacific. It is in the Pacific. It is a part of the United States that is an island that is right here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Holy Fucking Shit

John McCain belives this woman is fit to be commander in chief of the armed forces.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The "Original" Mavericks

A new John McCain advertisement describes him and his running mate Sarah Palin as "the original mavericks." The word "original" means "first of its kind." The word "maverick" means "one who dissents" or "one who does not adhere to the beliefs or practices of a group." Therefore, the plain meaning of Senator McCain's new slogan in the English language is that he and Governor Palin are the first two dissenters in the history of the world.

The word "original" is now officially archaic, and we as a people are a little bit dumber because of it.
Talk about it at Videocracy

And the Show Has Reached A New Low

John McCain approved this message, which criticizes Barack Obama for passing legislation aimed at teaching kindergarten students how to avoid sexual predators:

Obama spokesman Bill Burton replied: “It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls – a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why."

Carrier

If you miss that particular brand of nausea, fear, tears and class guilt that The Wire caused you to experience, I urge you to sprint to your computer like Usain Bolt fleeing a swarm of bees and watch the PBS documentary "Carrier", now available on Hulu.com fo' free. Honestly, I would have paid the obscene price I paid for The Wire DVDs for this show, but it's free. You should probably pacify the aforementioned class guilt with a PBS donation though.

I will not particularly touch on the themes of the show, but I can promise that the show is a perfect blend of showing how a carrier group actually works, involving the viewer with relatable characters, and scaring the BEJESUS out of the viewer by highlighting the broad ignorance (despite on the job competence) and tunnel vision of the people handling the most powerful conventional war machine ever built. It's also not an anti-war work of art, so if you are a relative hawk like myself, it is very, to use the winged phrase, fair and balanced.

Say What?

Rick Davis, a top McCain adviser, has said that “this election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

If anybody knows what that sentence means, please share, because to me it makes no damn sense at all.

I would guess that he means that the winner of this election is going to be the candidate in whose life story the most voters can see a reflection of themselves. Or, should I say, in the life story authored for them by the highly paid campaign consultants in their employ. As Joan Didion would no doubt say, the relationship between the campaign rhetoric to observable reality is growing more tenuous by the day. The Republicans saying that Sarah Palin has more experience than Barack Obama because she was mayor of a small town and governor of a small state, while at the same time taking her off the campaign trail for three weeks so that they can teach her the nuances of macroeconomics, and foreign and social policy. Rush Limbaugh criticizes the Democrats for being elitist while he appears on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine. And so it goes.

Do the people of the United States suffer from a sense of intellectual inferiority severe enough that they would rather vote for the girl next door than for somebody who may, from time to time, speak over their heads? Why do people need to feel as if they are as smart as the President? Shouldn't the President be smarter than you? Shouldn't the President be better educated or better trained than you? Shouldn't people wonder why Sarah Palin issued a press release about her pregnant teenage daughter, then criticized the press for a week for covering the story of her pregnant teenage daughter?

November can't come quickly enough, because I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Who Does He Think She Is, Burt Reynolds Or Something?

To quote Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog: "Hello, I am a moron, and my name is this guy."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Random Thoughts on the NFL's Opening Day

1) Tom Brady, the two-time Super Bowl MVP, nailer of superbabes and mainstay of my fantasy football team for the past three years suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the season. His stat line for the 2008 season is: 7/11, 76 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

1a) The New England Patriots will be starting Matt Cassell, a career backup who appears to be a competent-if-unspectacular quarterback, which is more or less what you're looking for in a backup. As a starter, he will benefit from playing with the best deep threat in the NFL (Randy Moss) and the best possession receiver in the NFL (Wes Welker), and from the increased role of Laurence Maroney, the Patriots' fine running back who, until now, has taken a back seat to their high-octane passing game. Rumor has it that the Patriots have contacted free agent quarterback Chris Simms to fly up to Boston for a workout. It is never a good thing when your potential quarterback is a free agent one week into the season. If I was the Patriots, I would continue to start Cassell, and keep Simms in reserve in case Cassell gets hurt. Is Cassell a better fit than somebody like Daunte Culpepper? I'm not particularly a fan of Culpepper, but Culpepper has played with Moss in the past, with generally good results. Culpepper has a bigger upside than Simms, but also has more potential to be a total bust. Who would you rather hire if you were the Patriots?

2) I did not expect the Atlanta Falcons to run for 320 yards against the Lions. I expected big things out of Jerious Norwood, who is averaging more than six yards per carry for his career, and who averaged 6.6 yards per carry today, but I didn't expect Michael Turner to break out for 220 yards. For the past couple of years, Turner has been regarded as the best backup running back in the NFL, relieving the San Diego Chargers' star LaDamien Tomlinson for two or three plays per possession. Its difficult to think of many backs, other than Priest Holmes, who had long careers as starters after spending several seasons as a backup. I didn't expect Turner to be the one to break the trend, but he appears to be well on his way.

3) Before the season, the Chargers, Jaguars, Colts, Patriots and Cowboys were, by consensus, regarded to be the five best teams in football. Three of those teams lost today (and looked bad doing so), and the fourth team lost its best player to a season-ending injury. Are the Cowboys now the favored to win the Super Bowl?

4) The Eagles are legit. Granted, they played the Rams. But they Eagles are legit.

5) The Buffalo Bills blew out the Seattle Seahawks, who for the past several years have been one of the premiere teams in the NFL. The good news is that the Bills scored 34 points, and scoring points has been their weakness for the past five(!) years. The bad news is that their special teams scored two of their four touchdowns and set up a third by forcing a fumble deep in Seattle territory.

The Bills seem to have an outstanding defense and outstanding special teams. Can their offense score? Marshawn Lynch and Lee Evans are both going to have big seasons, and Trent Edwards with his performance today, seems to have permanently established himself as the Bills' starter for the foreseeable future. But can they score more than 20 points on a regular basis? Are they going to continue to throw six-yard outs and wide receiver screens on 3rd-and-8? Are they going to continue to keep Marshawn between the tackles? Are they going to find a way to get Lee Evans open down the field, and James Hardy open in the end zone? What's your prediction for the Bills this season?

Its Football Day

Plain-Spoken

"Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity." - Georgia Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland

In other news, Governor Palin recently admitted that she has a skinny white chocolate mocha for breakfast every day. What would the reaction have been if Barack Obama - or even Michelle Obama - had said the same thing?

In still more election-related news, the pastor at Wasilla Bible Church, where Sarah Palin and her family attend services, said of God that "He is gonna strike out His hand against, yes, Wasilla, and Alaska, and the United States of America." This sure makes all of that Jeremiah Wright bashing from a couple of months mack seem silly now, doesn't it?

Friday, September 5, 2008

WTF??? Moment of the Day

What in the name of God do you think that Yahoo meant when they wrote "Even Paris Hilton is said to have fallen prey to this e-mail scam?"

Imagine that! A ruse so sneaky that even Paris Hilton fell for it!

Jon Stewart on the GOP

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The "In A World" Guy Is Dead

Don LaFontaine died today at the age of 68. By all accounts, he was just a regular, normal guy who identified his talent at an early age and always felt lucky to be able to earn a good living off of it. One of my favorite things about him is that people would e-mail him on his website and ask him to record their voicemail messages and he would actually do it. Really, how cool is that?

I'm already bored with american politics

eh. now I remember why the red state/blue state divide (or at least the Fox News/CNN divide) makes elections unbearable. Half the networks see everything the republicans do as evil, juvenile, and calculating. and the other half see it as honest, brave, and realistic. no one is changing anyone's mind. it's boring. and it makes the rhetoric seem ridiculous. No one answers anyone else's questions.

I'll tell you what I think. McCain is an out-of-touch geezer. he would have made a great presidential candidate 15 years ago, but Newt Gingrich had us sign a contract that meant he owned america at that time. Barack Obama probably is a unrelenting careerist (but what politician isn't, really?). He also happens be a gifted orator and the owner of a sweet-spot identity/biography for 2008. Sarah Palin is desperately unqualified, but the VP doesn't do anything unless the president is hopelessly weak so it probably doesn't matter. Biden is a cynical pick to reassure whites, men and working-class voters.

Obama-Biden reflects my policy desires more closely, so I will vote for them. But I am not kidding myself about their quality as people or their superhuman abilities to transform america.
and given that I live in Massachusetts, I am effectively disenfranchised anyway.