Thursday, October 30, 2008

bad writing

This is an actual wire lede from today:

Obama, McCain duel over economy in key states

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

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mortgages that should not have been written, and many houses that should not have been built, a lot of content should not be published, because it actively makes people dumber.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

Bah humbug.

Was This The Worst World Series of All Time?

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

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Old Friends Are Back

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

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

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

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Me Out Of This Skirt!

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

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why Did It Have to Be the Cowboys?

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

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

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

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thoughts on the 2008 Baseball Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Watchmen Footage

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vagina Movie Game

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

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

Did we miss any good ones?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sing A Song For Them

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

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

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

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

She's Back

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

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Noteworthy New Books

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

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

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

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New York Magazine's 40th Birthday Party

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

Secret Meeting

Start A War

Madison in the Fall

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

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who's the Funniest Palin?

The Streets

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sweet Voice, Acid Tongue

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

Carpetbaggers (Without Elvis Costello)

Sunday, October 12, 2008


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

Thanks for the words: Garry Trudeau

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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Mother Tongue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 10, 2008

Baby, We'll Be Fine

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I've Got Nothin'

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

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

Monday, October 6, 2008

Handle With Care

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

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

Somehow I Doubt This Is Correct

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"You Forgot Poland"

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

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

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

The Vice-Presidential Debate

From last night's episode of Saturday Night Live:

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

Our love of Tina Fey continues to grow.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

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

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Droppin' Phat Beats Up In This Piece

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

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

What is the Role of the Vice-President?

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

What is the Rold of the Vice-President?

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

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"I Beg to Disagree"

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

bailout bitching

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

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

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

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

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