Friday, December 31, 2010

Killer Parties

We here at CSD headquarters have been fans of The Hold Steady for years, but have yet to see them in concert (it is one of our new year's resolutions for 2011). In the meantime, bitchingly awesome YouTube videos like this one will have to hold us over . . . if we ever do get to see them in concert, we hope they end their show exactly like this.

Its true - it IS like Marrekesh over here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Post-Holiday Links

The AV Club's discussion of their favorite books of the year is strong, as usual. Be sure to check out blogmigo Ellen Wernecke's selections, Jonathan Franzen's Freedom and Berhnard Schlink's The Weekend.

On the other hand,, pop culture critic Linda Holmes discusses her 50 favorite things of 2010, a refreshing alternative to the most specifically media-centered "listicles" that are published at this time of year.

On The New Yorker's book blog, "The Book Bench," James Wood, arguably America's leading liteary critic, discusses his favorite books of the year.

The New York Times' 10th Annual "Year In Ideas" feature was very cool.

Law and the Multiverse - Some serious nerd brain power was invested in creating this, a study of how American constitutional principles would apply to the crimes and punishments Marvel and D.C. comic book characters receive in their respective universes. (Hat Tip: Inspector Frank Bumstead)

Four of the six bloggers on this site are natives of upstate New York, home to America's three snowiest cities.

And, finally, Santa Claus brought the CSD staffers Kindle 3Gs for Christmas. If we had known that Amazon was just about to introduce its lending application, and that Project Gutenberg had so many classics available for free in its online catalog, we might have asked for them sooner!

Finally, Kanye West's My Dark Twisted Fantasy has been in heavy rotation at CSD headquaters lately. It is the work of an eccentric genius, as is his ridiculous 35-minute omnibus music video medley that he somehow manages to pull off:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Springsteen performs "Because The Night" on Jimmy Fallon

The E Street Band may be the best backing band in the history of rock and roll, but, really, if Bruce Springsteen wants to record a couple of albums with The Roots, that would be more than OK with me.Note: This performance is more than a month old, but I just saw the video on YouTube for the first time today, after The AV Club posted it as part of its excellent "Best of TV 2010" feature.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekend Links

NPR blogger (and former Sleater-Kinney guitar hero) Carrie Brownstein discusses her eleven favorite albums of 2010.

The AV Club's feature on the best movies of 2010 was excellent, as usual.

This is almost certainly a hoax, but funny nonetheless.

NPR's "Stop Me Before I Facebook Again" was an interesting story on social networking and its effect on productivity.

This local news story about "electronic pickpocketing" was pretty disturbing.

In the United Kingdom, Morrissey and Johnny Marr have banned Prime Minister David Cameron from liking them, due to the changes the Prime Minister is making to laws regulating hunting. When asked about it during the Prime Minister's questions on the floor of Parliament, the Prime Minister responded with what can only be described as one of the most British moments of all-time:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Close To Being Repealed

The Senate has voted to cut off debate on Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which, translated out of parliamentary jargon, means that the coast is clear for President Obama to officially end the policy, which was first enacted under President Clinton. In the words of Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, "I don't care who you love, if you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn't have to hide who you are."

So, in the spirit of the day, let's post this immediately iconic video of soldiers in Iraq creating a new music video for Lady Gaga's "Telephone."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The "Little Drummer Boy" Duet Is Not Too Old To Parody

Will Farrell and John C. Reilly recently got together to parody/re-enact the famous David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet from Bing Crosby's 1977 Christmas special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas.

Its difficult to believe the Bowie/Crosby duet ever happened - even thirty-three years after it was released, it just seems weird.

Here's the original:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another of the Few Christmas Songs I Can Get Behind

Christmas music is always best when its heartfelt and when it rocks. Bruce Springsteen's cover of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," recorded during the Darkness on the Edge of Town tour at the justifiably famous Passaic, New Jersey concert, is both of those things and more.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The AV Club's Year-End Top 25 List

Last week, the AV Club published its list of the twenty-five best albums of the year, as determined by a poll of their thirteen music writers. In an interesting follow-up feature, the AV Club's thirteen music writers show their individual ballots, as well as their honorable mentions. The next day, Kyle Ryan, Josh Modell, and Steven Hyden get together on a podcast to speak in-depth about the top ten albums from the AV Club's year-end list, the biggest surprises of the year, and bands they love whose 2010 releases were not as good as their previous albums. This was a great year for music, with substantial releases from the best acts around (The National, Arcade Fire, Kanye West, The Walkmen, The Drive-By Truckers, The Hold Steady, etc.) and comebacks from some old favorites, like Superchunk, Verses, and John Mellencamp.

I look forward to the AV Club's best-of-the-year lists, because the first couple of years they did them, 2004, 2005, and 2006, were both extraordinarily good years for music, which happened to coincide with my being in graduate school, living in a college town with indie radio stations and hip record stores, and winter breaks in which I could catch up all of the music I had missed during the previous year. Those lists introduced me to The National, The Hold Steady, and The Walkmen, among others, for which I will be eternally greatful to the AV Club.

Looking at those lists with five or six years of hindsight, it is noteworthy that The Hold Steady had albums on the top ten lists all three years, as did Neko Case, either by herself or with the New Pornographers. To crack the top ten three years in a row, in years as good as those, is remarkable. Other than Bob Dylan and The Beatles, has any band released three albums in three years as good as Almost Killed Me, Separation Sunday, and Boys and Girls in America? Or Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Twin Cinema, and The Tigers Have Spoken? Spread out among even more different groups, Jenny Lewis release her solo album Rabbit Fur Coat, in addition to being in Rilo Kiley (More Adventurous) and The Postal Service (Give Up).

Those three years also had a lot of great albums by bands that seemed as if they would never go away, like Bloc Party, The Streets, Snow Patrol, and We Are Scientists, who careers, for one reason or another, have derailed. Just a great couple of years for music.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

She & Him on Conan

She & Him was on Conan last weekend, and covered "I Put A Spell On You," of all songs. I've loved She & Him since I first heard them (and Zooey for years before that, for . . . obvious reasons) but, since they've always specialized in cute little upbeat 60's-pop-inspired songs and the occasional sad "I'm a beautiful girl pretending to have trouble with love," seeing them cover (and put a distinctive stamp on) a classic "standard" was a revelation.

And, just for the internet, a back-stage video of She & Him singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" with Conan O'Brien accompanying them on acoustic guitar. The adorablitiy (?) is off the charts.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekend Links (Particularlly Wordy Version)

New York Magazine called my attention to the fact that Get Your War On, the funniest and most depressing web-based cartoon I've ever read, is publishing new cartoons for the first time in almost a year. Paul Smecker introduced me to this comic seven years ago, and its sad that, seven years later, Operation Enduring Freedom is still in the motherfucking house.

8yearoldsdude found a terrific list of "culturally untranslateable phrases," some of which need to be read to be believed.

The A.V. Club cut ties with freelance critic Leonard Pierce, who reviewed a comic book without having read it. He was found out because . . . the comic isn't even finished yet, let alone released. Yikes. Pierce reviewed books, music, comic books, and movies for the AV Club, and was one of the contributors to Wrapped Up In Books, the AV Club's excellent montly book club.

Lauren Bush, George W. Bush's neice and former fashion model, just got engaged to David Lauren, heir to the Ralph Lauren fashion fortune/empire. Yes, this means that, potentially, her new name is "Lauren Lauren," and the fact that the two names are pronounced differently will be of little consolation. Presumably, she'll keep the last name Bush, because who wouldn't want to be named after those guys? (Thanks for the words: Jenny Liebman).

Community's stop-motion claymation Christmas special was incredible. In our view, Community has taken over the mantle of the funniest sitcom on television from 30 Rock and, before that, The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm. That means that, for the record, the lovely and talented Alison Brie stars in arguably the best drama (Mad Men) and the best sitcom (Community) on television.

This weekend, special lady friend Amber Waves and I had dinner at Veselka, a coffee shop and Ukranian restaurant in Manhattan's East Village, known for its pierogies, stuffed cabbage, borscht, and other eastern European comfort foods. Highly recommended. It now sells a cookbook that would make a terrific Christmas present for people who enjoy that sort of food, which is everybody.

Artist and bassist Jay Ryan sat down with the AV Club and discussed the music in his iPod, all of which has played on the 29-speaker Bose sound system at CSD headquarters at one time or another. The man's got good taste!

And finally, just because its awesome (and stuck in my head yet again):

Just to prove I'm not A TOTAL Grinch

Because I tend to be a bit of a hater when it comes to Christmas music and decorations, and because, for different reasons, Julian Casablancas and The Roots have been on my mind lately (the "Boombox" video and the outstanding album How I Got Over, respectively), I figured I would post one of my favorite Christmas videos, from an episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that aired last December.

There's a lot to love about this video - a great vocal from Casablancas, The Roots performing so much better than Casablancas' actual band that they remind you once again that they are, arguably, the best band in America today. Also, watching the show live, before you knew that Julian Casablancas was going to be on, you see the beginning of the skit as a callback to this old Saturday Night Live skit before ?uestlove's drumming comes in from off-screen and the camera pans over to the stage as the surprised audience cheers. Very cool.

"I Wish It Was Christmas Today" is an example of the type of Christmas song that I enjoy - it isn't religious, but it about looking forward to the holiday, and enjoying the Christmas spirit. It is not a love song or a break-up song or a pity song masquerading as a Christmas song. Also, just as a general rule, Christmas music sounds a lot better when its performed by Julian Casablancas and The Roots, because they both totally own.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Boombox" Is a Thing?

The CSD staff are big fans of The Strokes and Saturday Night Live, so we were surprised to find this video, featuring The Strokes' lead singer Julian Casablancas and SNL cast member (and digital short specialist) Andy Samberg, which, since it already has more than 11.5-million viewers, has apparently been around for a while. Admittedly, we're a little late to the party, but, fortunately, as a retro electro-pop parody, timeliness isn't particularly important - the late 80's music it references isn't changing itself any time soon, and its throw-away jokes, about the trendiness of fingerless gloves and a Spanish guy doing The Bartman, hold up over repeat viewings. Well played, sirs.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It Takes Alison Brie to Make "Santa Baby" Palatable

I've gone on the record many times about my dislike of pop Christmas music, particularly those songs that are really love songs or break-up songs or . . . greed songs, that do not have anything to do with the religious holiday that is supposed to be the whole point of the enterprise.

"Santa Baby" is just such a song - its basically a song about a gold digger, and just uses Christmas as a way in. Also, it turns the otherwise-perfectly-find word "chimney" into a euphamism for "vagina."

Having said all of that . . . I don't mind this song when Alison Brie sings it, because Alison Brie is perfect. She has important roles in the best drama (Mad Men) and the best comedy currently on television (Community). And she's adorable. So, um, you may want to check this out:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Weekend Links

The New York Times has released its list of the Ten Best Books of the Year.

The New Yorker's John Cassidy on Wall Street's social utility, or lack thereof.

Roger Ebert's terrific series of essays on "The Great Movies" are now collected in one place. Useful resource for movie buffs.

The British Literary Review has named the winner of its annual "worst sex writing contest" for 2010. As NPR says, "if only all bad sex were this fictional!"

The Painted Area had a good post on Monday about how the San Antonio Spurs' hot start is fueled by a fast-paced offense, which is unusual for the tradionally defensive-minded team.

The AV Club discusses bands you need to see live in order to fully appreciate. To nobody's surprise, I vote for The National.

A Swedish statistician named Hans Rosling has an interesting animation to show how the quality of life and average lifespan of the different nations of the world. Its surprisingly cool:

Friday, December 3, 2010

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

This video is from the "random for randomness' sake" school of irony, but some of the former celebrities it digs up (Roger Moore?? Theo Huxtable??) have been out of the public eye for so long that its just good to see them again, even if they are selling their remaining dignity in order to sing along to an over-the-top cover of "Let It Be."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good Table Manners Might Save Your Life

I want to know where Indiana Jones went to archaeology school - they teach you how to throw a punch, look great in tweed jackets and double-breasted suits, and kill your adversaries with flaming shish-kebobs, but not table manners. You never know when classy table manners will impress a Hong Kong mafia boss or like a sexy German occultist who it would be helpful to win over to your side.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blake Griffin Has No Regard For Humanity

Blake Griffin, a rookie power forward on the Los Angeles Clippers, is one of the most exciting players to enter the league in years. In addition to be a very good player, he is tough as nails, and legitimately fun to watch. Once a game or so, he provides a highlight reel-caliber play that knocks me out of my chair. In Saturday's game against the Knicks, he provided three:

Some of these dunks could double as great moments in ownage.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Links (Monday Version)

In the New Yorker, Anthony Lane reviews The King's Speech and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 1.
The New York Times had an interesting article this week about "Unlearning to Tawk Like A New Yorker."

And, speaking of the AV Club, a comments thread last week linked to this old interview with David Foster Wallace, about his book Infinity and More.

The AV Club staff talks about the music, television shows, and movies they want to see one more installment of, but will never get to see, because the show was prematurely cancelled, the band broke up, somebody died, etc. Mine would be as follows: the rest of Season 1 and all of Season 2 of Freaks and Geeks, the rest of the first three seasons of Arrested Development, and the BBC adaptation of The Honourable Schoolboy, the middle installment of John le Carre's "Karla Trilogy."

Tina Fey recently received the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for humor, but PBS had to cut out the portion of her acceptance speech in which she discusses her imitations of Sarah Palin, which, I'm going to guess, are a significant reason why she won the award in the first place. But of course PBS is saying that they cut that portion due to time constraints.

The Basketball blog "48 Minutes of Hell" is reporting that the San Antonio Spurs are using their Development League team to test new sports nutrition and sports medicine plans. Interesting stuff, and it makes you wonder why more teams haven't tried stuff like this in the past.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spike Jonze's New Music Video for "The Suburbs"

Arcade Fire's new video is directed by CSD favorite Spike Jonze.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Strange Carrot-Peeling Contests and Other Tuesday Links

Friend-of-the-blog and Kings County Assistant District Attorney David Kim got a conviction in a high-profile elder abuse case last week.

Well, that's one way to judge a carrot-peeling contest.

The AV Club's primer on the music of David Bowie is as good of a summary of a diverse career as you'll find.

"Uncomfortable Moments With Putin" is a hilarious. Who would take the time to put something like this together? And, is it possible to hang out with him?

Diesel shot some underwear advertisements in, of all places, the Brooklyn Law School library. Nothing like this ever happened while I was in law school. Um, if I went to law school.

Roger Sterling's book, Sterling's Gold, is now for sale. You know what they say - when God closes a door, he opens a dress.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saturday Night Live's Funniest Sketch of the Season?

I really enjoyed Saturday Night Live's parody of the Unstoppable trailer. I'm game for any skit or short that gives Jay Pharaoh an opportunity to do impressions, but this skit really took it over the top, but his impression of Denzel as a walking, catch-phrase-spouting cliche ("chugga-chugga choo-choo, boom!"), and Johansson's running "the size of the Chrysluh Build-ing" joke were exceptionally well-executed. I just really enjoyed the way in which the skit starts out slow - with several lines taken directly from the original trailer - and that ratchets up the insanity ("it gets worse - that's enough flaming kids to hold hands . . . around the Chrysluh Build-ing!") until the final punch line kind of cornily wraps it up. Just an excellent job all around.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

. . . And It Was Good

NBC has already posted Arcade Fire's musical performances from last night. The band sounded good, not great, but definitely left me wanting more, which the studio audience presumably received - the last two times Arcade Fire played Saturday Night Live, they stayed after the show and put on a mini-concert of six or eight additional songs.

Just thinking out loud here, but I've always wondered why Saturday Night Live doesn't give its best musical acts more time - isn't that a better way to fill the ninety minutes, particularly during the weeks when they don't have a surplus of good sketches? In the past year, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, MGMT, Regina Spektor, Jay-Z, Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and Arcade Fire have played Saturday Night Live. Would you rather see any of those musical acts do an extra song or two than see the tenth Kristin Wiig sketch of the night, or another re-hashed skit from a previous season?

"We Used To Wait"

"Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tonight's Episode of Saturday Night Live Is Kind of a Big Deal

Tonight's episode of Saturday Night Live is being hosted by Scarlett Johansson and Arcade Fire. This is a very big deal at Common Sense Dancing Headquaters. The only way this could be more up our alley was if it was also co-hosted by Jennifer Connelly, The National, and Thurman Thomas. To get myself psyched up, I'm going to put on my black 3-piece suit from the 1920's, cut my hair with an axe, put on a football helmet, and post three bitchingly awesome Arcade Fire live performances.

"We Used To Wait"

"Rebellion (Lies)"

"Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"

Their Noise

Even serious music fans rarely pay much attention to the labels that release their favorite music, so its easy to overlook the fact that a significant percentage of the indie rock canon has been released by little, Durham, North Carolina-based Merge Records. Founded by Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance of Superchunk, Merge has become a home for the off-beat musicians in bands like Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, Arcade Fire, Magnetic Fields, M. Ward, She & Him, Camera Obscura, Destroyer, and, of course, Superchunk itself. Merge Records Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, the Indie Label That Got Big and Stayed Small, an exhaustive oral history, tells the story of the label's fifteen-year rise to prominence.

Merge succeeded due to a variety of factors. McCaughan and Ballance possessed a rare combination of attributes: good taste in music, generosity, and ability to form long-term relationships with sometimes difficult, egotistical musicians. As musicians, McCaughan and Ballance were liked by critics, loved by other musicians, and followed by a small-but-dedicated community of students and big-city hipsters. They continued to work day jobs (at restaurants and at Kinko's) well after they founded Merge, and that income, in addition to what they earned through Superchunk, gave them the ability to create a unique profit-sharing structure, in which bands received 50% of the profits from their record sales, instead of the 10% or so that bands on major labels received. Merge valued good musicianship over marketability, and, over the years, developed such a good critical reputation that DJs and record store clerks began to play their new releases simply because they trusted Merge's judgment. Merge bands would tour by van instead of bus, or bus instead of airplane, and would often crash at fans' apartments instead of hotels, to save money.

Merge was conservative with its money - giving small advances so that more of their albums would "earn out," but willing to double-down on albums it believed in, allowing for elaborate artwork and occasionally self-indulgent records, such as when The Magnetic Fields released the sprawling 69 Love Songs, a triple-album that went on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies, despite the fact that, at a major label, it would never have seen the light of day.

Still, for all of their critical success, Merge was small-time, working out of its founders' homes for almost a decade. Their first break-through commercial success was Spoon, which came to them only after being dropped by Elektra after the commercial failure of A Series of Sneaks, which Elektra had foolishly marketed to a mainstream audience, instead of Spoon's traditional indie rock demographic. The oral history format serves the book well here, quoting a member of Spoon as saying that, for hm, the lowest point came when he was forced to take a day job as an executive assistant, and, while wearing a suit, ran into Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss on his lunch hour. His embarassment at being seen at his office job by an indie rock heroine motivated him to get back in touch with his bandmates and find a new label on which to record, and Merge was an obvious choice. Spoon went on to release four excellent albums on Merge. The appeal of indie labels increased as bands like Spoon cracked the charts against the backdrop of an across-the-board decline in major-label CD sales, and, eventually, singers like M. Ward and Win Butler, both big fans of the previous generation of Merge bands, signed up with them instead of any number of major-label suitors.

The oral history format serves the book well - there are a lot of telling anecdotes that would likely not have found their way into print otherwise, and it is fascinating to see how people can remember a single historical event so differently. The other side of the coin is that, in parts, it seems as if every member of the Merge universe gets to weigh in on every turn of events, and obscure bands like Polvo, Butterglory, and Seam get a hagiographic treatment that they don't entirely deserve. Its a good book, but one that probably only serious indie rock fans need to invest their time in reading.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekend Links

New York Magazine's wonderful "My Mother's Thanksgiving" feature will make you drool.

Keith Richards's memoir, Life, was released two weeks ago, to surprisingly favorable reviews. Rolling Stone magazine reports that Mick and Keith don't get along very well anymore, but Richards refuted that in a great interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Keith Phipps' "Triple Feature," about three "scary dog" movies, was very well-done.

A blogger calling herself Nerdy Applebottom posted a beautiful little story about her son who dressed as Scooby Doo's Daphne for Halloween. The title of the post? "My Son Is Gay."

Common Sense Dancing headquarters has been catching up on HBO's Bored To Death. We love its gorgeous Brooklyn locations! A couple of great reviews, by The New Yorker's Nancy Franklin and The AV Club's Nathan Rabin, really capture the spirit of the show.

The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones has an interesting new article about Pavement, who are staging somewhat of a comeback.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Return of "Terrible Love"

The National just released a new studio version of "Terrible Love," and, where the album version deliberately muddied up the band's sounds, adding reverb to the guitars and taking the drums way down in the mix, the new version allows you to hear each instrument distinctly, so that the band's musicianship is more on display. It is an enormous upgrade.

Also, for the ladies, this video has a lot of footage of Matt Berninger being handsome and charming and drunk and skinny and sad, all of which I know you love.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, How I Miss the Muppet Show!

AV Club TV editor Noel Murray's has a regular feature, "A Very Special Episode" is some of the best writing about television anywhere on the internet. Or just anywhere. This week's column, about an episode of The Muppet Show that Steve Martin hosted in 1977, is fantastic, and a must-read for fans of either Martin or the Muppets. As long-time readers of the blog will remember, the CSD staff are avid fans of both, so this was right up our alley.

Great quote: "if you need evidence that the ’70s were a confused time, entertainment-wise, you won’t find any much stronger than this: an ostensible family show featuring a subversive stand-up comic playing the theme song from an R-rated movie known for its graphic violence and forced sodomy."

The banjo scene reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from the Muppet Show, hosted by legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich, which ends with Rich drum-battling Animal for the mantle of Muppet Show drummer supremacy. If you haven't seen it, its great stuff:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

This past weekend, I read the first two volumes of the Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels.

Scott Pilgrim is a twenty-three year-old Canadian, who can best be described as "ineffectual." Not so much a hipster as a "slacker," Scott spends his days playing classic video games, listening to indie rock, and playing bass guitar in a garage band called "The Sex Bob-omb." He is also a part-time ninja. Somehow, in the version of Toronto in which the story is set, that is not exceptional - all sorts of unassuming characters display impressive fighting skills when necessary. That's not the only thing unusual about the book's universe; captions and pop-up video-style explanations appear to give us the "statuses" and motivations of its characters. It is to the novels' credit that, after the first couple of chapters, this bizarre little world is so well developed that it actually makes sense to us.

At the beginning of the story, Scott meets cute with a pretty, insane, 17 year-old Chinese girl named Knives. Scott does not seem to worry about the fact that her name is Knives, probably because he hasn't dated in more than a year and willing to take what he can get. In relatively short order, he also meets Ramona Flowers, a beautiful American ex-patriate, living a similar slacker lifestyle and working as a rollerblading delivery girl for (In a clever piece of character development, Scott asks "that's the online bookstore or whatever, right? What's the website for that?") Then, two things happen - Knives decides that she is in love with Scott and needs to fight Ramona to get him back, and Scott learns that he has to fight each of Ramona's six "evil ex-boyfriends" in order to win her hand. These fights, which pop up out of nowhere, end, in true video game style, with the defeated party turning into a pile of coins, and, on occasion, they leave behind them "items," like skateboards, that Scott can use in future fights.

My favorite thing about the comics are the little, marginal comic details: characters wear t-shirts bearing the names of Neko Case and Calexico and a lot of obscure Canadian bands; the fight scenes, which play like crosses between Moral Kombat/Street Fighter II-style fights and Bollywood production numbers, the hilarious slacker dialogue ("I . . . but . . . it's . . . not . . . its totally . . . its . . . y . . . you're not the boss of me?" passes for a comeback), and the way in which none of the characters can keep a secret because they keep running into/overhearing each other at the same small handful of coffee shops and bars. They're wonderful graphic novels, and I'm looking forward to the next two.

Matt Taibbi and Vampire Squids

The AV Club has a fantastic interview with Matt Tiabi, whose new book Giftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and The Long Con That Is Breaking America, we are very much looknig forward to.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Weekday (?) Links

Roman's, one of CSD's favorite restaurants, gets three stars in New York Magazine. Lot 2, in every-gentrifying Greenwood Heights, got three stars, too.

The AV Club's Halloween-weekend podcast recommends some obscure horror films that sound like must-sees.

Bonus: Also at the AV Club, all-time short-list desert-island babe Connie Britton sat down for a Q & A.

ESPN's Rick Reilly asks the question to which every right-thinking college football fan wants to know the answer: What more can Boise State possibly do to get a spot in the national championship game?

Because every stupid bitch needs a Sassy Gay Friend, Second City's recurring character The Sassy Gay Friend is much-needed. And I'm a sucker for his literary references.

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns tells gay teens that It Gets Better. Warning - This will make you cry:

P.S. The Sassy Gay Friend's "It Gets Better" video is pretty moving, too:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hey! SNL Made A Funny!

Viewed objectively, its pretty lazy for Saturday Night Live to continue to use Don Draper jokes every time Jon Hamm hosts the show . . . but, as long as they are as funny as this callback to the "Sad Don Draper" facial expression, I won't complain. Also, I loved the line "My name is Robert Sims, not 'Fat Guy Gets Owned.'"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Red Shirt Guy - An Internet Meme Waiting To Happen

I know that approximately one million people have already made this joke, but this kid totally PWNED the World of Warcraft creators and made them look like total NOOBZ.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All The Way Across The Sky!

There is a brand of gourmet ice cream in the San Francisco bay area called "Double Rainbow." WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

How Good Is Tom Brady?

For the past ten years, the media has spoken of New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady in reverent tones. Brady was considered to be an excellent individual player who was unflappable in high-pressure situations, and raised the level of his play in the games that mattered most. In his first four NFL seasons, Brady's Patriots won three Super Bowls, and beat the arch-rival Indianapolis Colts the first six times he played them. The conventional wisdom was that Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning was the better individual player, but did not have what it took - leadership, courage, fortitude, grace under pressure, trust in his teammates - to win big games, whereas Brady, with good, but not spectacular individual statistics, had all of the intangibles that Manning lacked.

After the 2006 season, the New England Patriots acquired Randy Moss, the most talented wide receiver to ever play in the NFL, and one of the most productive. Moss had played on several of the highest-scoring offenses in NFL history. Moss' rookie year, the Minnesota Vikings led the NFL in scoring, and 35 year-old Randall Cunningham, long thought to be washed-up, led the league in passer rating and was voted first-team All-Pro. In 1999, Jeff George, long though to be washed-up, took over from an injured Cunningham and posted the third-highest passer rating in the NFL and was second, behind only superstar Kurt Warner, in yards-per-attempt. In 2004, Daunte Culpepper passed for 4717 yards - the second-highest total in NFL history at that time - and a 110.9 QB rating. Moss played only 13 games that season, and caught 13 touchdown passes, despite constant double-teams. After Moss left the Vikings in 2004, Culpepper never posted a QB rating higher than 78.0, and was out of football by age 32.

With Moss, the Patritos went undefeated, and scored 589 points, an all-time record. Tom Brady passed for 50 touchdowns and a 117.2 rating - both all-time single season records - and led the league with 4806 passing yards. That season, the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the New York Giants in one of the most famous football games ever played.

The following season, Tom Brady was hit on the knee in the first quarter of the first game of the season, and would not play again that year. His back-up, Matt Cassell, had not started a game since his senior year of high school. Predictably, his first couple of games were unimpressive, but he rallied to finish the year with 3693 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, good for an 89.4 rating. In other words, Cassell's season would have been the fourth-best season of Brady's career, and may have even been the second-best season, after Brady's 2007 campaign, if you excluded the first two or three games of the season, when Cassell was still struggling to find his sea legs, and the rest of the Patriots were struggling with the loss of their leader. This is not to say that anybody could have done it, but it does show that Brady's receivers, offensive line, and coaching were a significant factor in his success.

Brady returned in 2009, and played very well. But, once again, he had Randy Moss, Wes Welker, one of the best offensive lines in football, and, since Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, and Tony Dungy had all retired, the undisputed best coach in the NFL.

This season, Randy Moss, upset over the Patriots' refusal to extend his contract, became somewhat of a problem child in the Patriots' locker room, and allegedly mocked Tom Brady for getting what looked like a woman's haircut. Two weeks ago the New England Patriots traded Moss -- the single-most talented and one of the three most productive wide receivers to ever play football -- to the Minnesota Vikings. Since then, Brady has thrown for 159 yards, 1 touchdown and an 82.7 rating against the Chargers and 292 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and a 69.5 rating against the Baltimore Ravens, numbers that can best be described as pedestrian. Meanwhile, Moss has scored touchdowns in each of his first two games with the Vikings.

Make no mistake, Tom Brady is good. But I do not believe he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, which seems to be the consensus among broadcasters and NFL analysts. I believe him to be a very good player on a great team, who benefitted from playing under a great coach who was always able to devise an offense that put Brady into situations that made the most of his skills. Brady is a cool customer, and has played very well in the Super Bowl and the playoffs, but has not won many big games since the Patriots' defense stopped being the class of the league, and there is a legitimate argument that Brady has never been the best player on his team. He is a very good player whose looks, media savvy, and early-career success have given him a reputation as being an all-time great and a plucky upstart, two things that should be contradictions in terms. He is a top-five quarterback in the NFL, and probably a top-20 quarterback in NFL history, which is impressive. But he's not as good as the media makes him out to be.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Superchunk (!) on ABC News (?)

I don't watch network news anymore, because I'm both an adult and not retarded, but their "Lunch with Superchunk" feature (?) was really well-done. The interviewer was well-versed in the band's music, and the profile captures Superchunk's unaffected normality, in a setting (the East Village's Momofuku Noodle Bar) that seems like exactly the kind of place where hip 45 year-olds would get lunch on a weekday if they didn't have anything better to do. Superchunk are anti-rock stars, but not in the affected, Kurt Cobain anti-rock star way; they've just never had any interest in it. I'm glad that Majesty Shredding has been so well-reviewed, and it appears to moving units based on word-of-mouth recommendations, which are the best kind of reviews.

One last thought: my excitement over seeing Superchunk get the attention they've long deserved is mitigated by the fact that one of our three major networks considers an interview with a group of 45 year-old indie rockers to be news.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nat King Cole + Mad Men + RJD2 = Awesome

I don't really have anything to add. This is just cool.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Triumphant Return of ZMF

Zodiac Motherfucker has released a new installment of his "Great Moments in Ownage" series. I've never seen this particular Steven Segal movie, but I do plan to use the idiom 'to fuck up ugly' in the future. E.g. "In today's game, the Pittsburgh Steelers fucked the Bills up ugly."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It Has Officially Gone From Bad To Worse

Gregg Easterbrook, Buffalo native and author of ESPN's weekly "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column, writes that the Buffalo Bills are the worst team in the NFL this season:

Buffalo doesn't have a quarterback in training, or anything else. There isn't a single player on the current Bills roster who would have started for any of the Bills' Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.

After posting decent defense in 2008 and 2009, Bills' management dismissed defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who teaches the 4-3 Tampa Two, and brought in George Edwards, who teaches the trendy 3-4. Buffalo is now last in the league in scoring defense while the Giants, now run by Fewell, have the league's No. 1 defense. What a canny move by Buffalo management to show Fewell the door! Buffalo threw the 11th choice of the 2009 draft out the window on Aaron Maybin, who is so awful he doesn't even play special teams. Management won't admit the blunder because this would mean admitting Maybin's $15 million signing bonus also was thrown out the window. Owing to the declining health of owner Ralph Wilson, who turns 92 this week, the franchise has been leaderless at the top for years. "Befuddled Buddy" Nix -- his initial Big Decision was to do nothing in the offseason about the quarterback position, then panic and waive starter Trent Edwards once play began -- looks like yet another Bills' manager who has no idea what he's doing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Somebody Is Trying To Get Fired

The darkest and, perhaps, the best Simpsons open of all-time:

ADDED: This ten-second clip from an old episode of The Simpsons is a bit of a pre-cursor to this past week's opening.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Weekend Links

New Yorker writer and CSD-favorite Lawrence Wright's latest column, "Intolerance," is fantastic.

For reasons that should be very obvious, New York Magazine's "Curators of the New Brooklyn" piece was widely circulated around CSD headquarters this week.

The AV Club's Noel Murray has a new regular feature, "A Very Special Episode," analyzing classic television episodes that capture "the spirit of [their] time and the properties that make television a unique medium." Two recent installments, on The Brady Bunch's "Dough Re Mi" and Homicide: Life on the Street's "A Doll's Eyes," were particularly noteworthy.

Superchunk played a concert at the 9:30 Club a couple of weeks ago, and, as always, NPR's All Songs Considered was there to record it.

A few months late, Best Week Ever's listing of "My 10 Favourite British Announcer Calls During the World Cup" is a lot of fun, even if I would have put the "Velvet and Instant" line in the top three and found a way to include Martin Tyler's fantastic "the Dutch are trying to spike the Spanish guns" line from the World Cup final.

Surprisingly fun internet meme: The Smiling Cigar Guy, from a Daily Mail photograph of the spectator's gallery from the Ryder Cup.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This Is Kind of Awesome

As long-time readers of this blog know, we love Buffalo Trace bourbon. We like it because it tastes good, but we love it because of the crazy-ass narrative on the back of the bottle, a crazy tall tale of westward expansion that all but begs to be read out loud in your best Sam Elliott-impression voice.

So, you can imagine my excitement when my lady friend Amber Waves brought me a can of Kick Ass Coffee. Kick Ass is roasted in Invermere, British Columbia, and it is very strong coffee (at least the blend that I tried). But, once again, the selling point was the narrative on the back of the can, which, because its Canadian, is written (hilariously) in both English and French:

In the summer of 1858, James Hector set out to discover the Kicking Horse Valley. His expedition took him through some of the most beautiful and rugged country in the West. During a river crossing, one of the pack horses kicked Hector so hard that others in the expedition mistook him for dead. As they began to bury poor old James, they noticed his eye twitch. The legend says it was a stiff cup of Kick Ass Coffee that brought him back to life!

Au cours de l'ete 1858, James Hector part a la decouverte de la vallee du Kicking Horse. Il parcourt alors les regions les plus belles et les plus sauvages de l'Ouest. En tentant de traverser une riviere avec les betes de somme, JAmes recoit une ruade si violente que ses compagnons le croient mort. Alors que ceux-ci s'appretent a enterrer le pauvre JAmes, ils remarquent un clignement de paupiere. Selon la legende, c'est une tasse de cafe Kick Ass bien corse qui le ramena a la vie.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Its Sunday Again

Football should still be like this: Deep lineups, 280-pound offensive tackles, crazy turnovers, blocked field goals run back for touchdowns, Kid N Play hairdos on the players, Zubaz on the fans, Cosby sweaters on the coaches, and the Bills walking off of the field victoriously.

Part 1:

Part 2 (where the good stuff happens):

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Early Review of The Social Network

Friend-of-the-blog Finnian Durkan reviews The Social Network. I, for one, am really looking forward to the movie. The criticism to the movie's "I row crew" line may seem like an over-reaction, but, as a rower, I totally get it. The movie is about more than rowing, but its still significantly about rowing, and that is an important detail to overlook - a terrible case of dumbing down material in an attempt to make it easier for an audience to understand, without really asking whether the audience needs the material to be simplified.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm Sorry, Mama, I'm Cleaning Out My Closet

I'm back home for a wedding this weekend, and I have been cleaning out my old bedroom in my parents' house. Its amazing what you find when you do that. I significant increased my wardrobe, as I now fit into a bunch of shorts, jeans, and exercise clothes I had outgrown in law school for junk-in-the-trunk-releated reasons. I have also dusted off John Mayer's Heavier Things, The Rocky Story, The Vines' Highly Evolved, Jimmy Eat World's Jimmy Eat World, Clarity, Static Prevails, Nirvana's In Utero, Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions, Outkast's Idlewild, Gord Downey's Coke Machine Glow, Mick Jagger's Goddess in the Doorway, the case recordings to My Fair Lady and Fosse, No Doubt's Return of Saturn, Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, Weezer's Maladroit, and Gwen Stefani's Love Angel Music Baby. Wish me luck.

I know what you're thinking: how could a red-blooded man sell The Rocky Story, a collection of the best music from the first five Rocky movies? Answer: I don't have the eye of the tiger.

A question for the blogosphere: should I bring my Bill Walton and Manu Ginobilli Starting Lineup action figures back to Brooklyn with me? You be the judge.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Superchunk is Back

On Monday, Superchunk appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and played "Digging For Something," the first track off their new album Majesty Shredding. It was their first appearance on television in sixteen years, and Majesty Shredding is their first album in nine years. Based on how they totally killed it on Fallon, it appears as if they haven't forgotten a trick.

On the other hand, Superchunk never really went away. Beyond the considerable influence of their music, their record lavel, Merge Records, founded by lead singer Mac MacCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance in 1989, has released a significant fraction of the independent rock canon, including the entire catalogues of Arcade Fire and She & Him, as well as albums by Spoon, Neutral Milk Hotel, Camera Obscura, M. Ward, The Magnetic Fields, Dinosaur Jr., Dan Bejar, Conor Oberst, and Destroyer. The odds are that, if you read this blog, you've listened to at least a few of their bands.

Anyway, here's some rock:

Don't you just love the crowd's enthusiasm? I have previously expressed my appreciation for Jimmy Fallon's taste and legitimate interest in musical acts, and the stage-in-the-round really works well for his show. God forbid anybody actually has fun at the recording of a late-night talk show!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Panda, an Egyptian brand of cream cheese, has some of the freakiest advertisements I have ever seen in my life, on the level of the bear-blowing-the-waiter scene from The Shining.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brett Favre Is Killing America

Brett Favre fucking sucks. Its official. His fantastic season last year was due to playing 10 games in dome stadiums with three outstanding receivers, one of the elite running backs in the NFL, a terrific offensive, a great home crowd, and a defense that routinely got him the ball in good field position. Perhaps most importantly, the Vikings' offense stayed remarkably healthy last year - their starters and top back-ups at the skill positions all played the entire 16 games.

Brett Favre has thrown forty more interceptions than any quarterback who has ever played the game, has led the league in interceptions three times, and threw three interceptions today. He's not very good any more, which is fine, because he's forty years old, but it amazes me how he is still treated like a star by the media, and how his games are always broadcast nationally. Who still wants to watch him play?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Narrating the Brooklyn Tornado

"Dude, its right above us."
"Dude, I know, I'm scared."
"Look at that raining! Oh my god! I'm just gonna get nailed!"
"Look at this! Look at this! What the FUCK?"
"Holy shit!"
"Dude, look at this!"
"Its circling, dude!"
"Dude! Here it comes!"
"Oh my God. Holy shit!"
"Dude, right now! Go!"
"Dude, its coming! I don't . . . fucking . . ."
"Dude, get inside, bro. The wind is crazy."
"Dude, a fucking tornado for sure."
"Dude, look at this tree!"
"Oh my God!"
"Holy shit!"
"No no no no no. Chill out."
"Holy shiiiiiit"
"Is that on camera? Pull it back. Pull it back."
"Oh-ho, my God"
"Ha ha ha"
"We're in a tornado right now."
"Oh my god."
"That is fucked up."
"Back up! Back up!"
"Sure enough."
"Back up, man. Back up."
"Its cool, dude."
"Its nuts."
"Holy shit."
"Look at this - its funnelling!"
"Dude, its fuckin' funnelling!"
"Its hitting us, basically, right now."
"Ho-ly shit!"
"Oh my god. Dude, its fuckin' . . ."
"Get in the house! Close the door!"
"Its crazy! You can't see anything! You can't see anything."
"Ho-ly shit!"
"This is fuckin' crazy!"
"DUDE! Oh my god!"
"Oh my god oh my god!"
"I don't want to get hit by debris, bro!"
"Dude, its pouring!"
"Watch out, you'll get hit by debris, bro!"
"Holy shit! Look at that! Look at the tree!"
"Look at the tree! Holy . . . Look at the tree!"
"Look at the tree! Holy fuckin' God!"
"Oh my god!"
"Holy shit!"
"Dude! Come on!"
"Fuck it, dude! Come on!"

The Double Rainbow Guy is Back!

You can't really blame a guy like this for 'selling out,' can you? Look at the guy - its not like he had artistic integrity or aspirations to begin with, I'm willing to bet the Microsoft paid him that he earned in the past three years. Plus, its kind of fun:

Thursday, September 16, 2010


A real, honest-to-goodness tornado hit Brooklyn tonight. No shit! Brooklyn! I had to leave work early today, and was just beginning the three-block walk from the R train to my apartment when the first lightning flash occurred. The thunderclap sounded several seconds later - the lightning was obviously pretty far away - but within seconds sheets of rain had started to fall. SHEETS. I was soaked to the skin (through a nice wool suit, among other garments) within just a couple of seconds. I have never been in rain that hard; it was difficlt to see more than a couple of feet in front of you. The winds were so high that roofing was blowing off of the houses on my street and whipping through the air; bags of garbage were picked off of the curb and blown across the intersection of 5th Avenue and Berkeley. A man running just ahead of me was hit by a limb that had been sheared off of a tree - not a branch, a limb. It was the worst weather I have ever been in in my life.

Later, the extent of the damage was revealed. A woman in Queens was killed when a tree fell onto the car that she was driving. In my neighborhood, a tree on 7th Avenue was entirely uprooted out of a concrete sidewalk. Cars had been crushed by falling trees. My street, and numerous other blocks in my neighborhood, were closed to traffic. Many of the trees on my street were damaged so badly that they will eventually have to be chopped down.

I wonder if a tornado hitting Manhattan would be one of the most catastrophic natural distasters that could occur in this country. Up on the higher floors of buildings, the difference in pressure between the outside and the inside would be so great that tens of thousands of windows would likely blow out of the walls, showering the sidewalks with glass. So the only safe place to hide would be the subway tunnels. Only, if there was flooding, the subway tunnels would be the last place you would want to be, especially with all of those high-voltage wires and electrified third rails. A tornado hitting Manhattan is a scary thing to contemplate.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is This A Spoiler?

"I do not come from a large family. I have the two parents and one sister. Both my sister and I are married, but neither of us has kids. When the whole family gets together, it consists of six people, and we mostly sit around playing board games and talking (comparatively) quietly with each other. My wife, on the other hand, comes from a giant, sprawling family of the sort that Jonathan Franzen writes funny novels that abruptly turn despairing about."
-- Todd VanDerWerff, reviewing Parenthood

In other Franzen-related news, Ellen Wernecke posted a great, spoiler-free review of Freedom yesterday.

If you've already read the book (and who hasn't?), check out the spoiler-heavy comment thread.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Summer In Book Hoarding

Reading is just about our favorite thing in the world. We seem to accumulate more books than we can read - and this is true regardless of how quickly we read. Fortunately, we have become pretty good at finding bargains. Here is a complete list of the books we acquired this summer (one of the benefits of living in a neighborhood with so many serious readers is that a lot of very good books are available for a dollar or less, and sometimes for free, if you keep your eyes open.)

Housing Works Summer Sale
The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud - $1 (hardcover)
Right as Rain, by George Pelancos - $1 (hardcover)
Up in Honey's Room, by Elmore Leonard - $1 (hardcover)
Bag of Bones, by Stephen King - $1 (paperback)

Flea Market on 7th Avenue between 1st and 2nd Streets, Brooklyn
The Luckiest Man, by Jonathan Eig - $2 (hardcover)

Stoop Sale on Berkeley Place, Brooklyn
The Magicians, by Lev Grossman - $1 (hardcover)
The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane - $1 (paperback advance reader's edition)
Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman - 50 cents (paperback)

Stoop Sale on 8th Street, Brooklyn
The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris - $1 (hardcover)
Dry, by Augusten Burroughs - 50 cents (paperback)

Stoop Sale on 5th Avenue, Brooklyn
god is not Great, by Christopher Hitchens - $1 (hardcover)
In the Woods, by Tana French - $1 (paperback)
Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman - 50 cents (paperback)

Give-Away Pile on Stoop on Bergen Street, Brooklyn
Up in the Old Hotel, by Joseph Mitchell - free (paperback)
Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, by Suketu Mehta - free (paperback)

Give-Away Pile on Stoop on 9th Street, Brooklyn
The Hours, by Michael Cunningham - free (paperback)
Timbuktu, by Paul Auster - free (paperback)

Give-Away Pile on Stoop on Berkeley Place, Brooklyn
Everything Changes, by Jonathan Tropper - free (paperback)
Hell to Pay, by George Pelancos - free (paperback) (pre-order)
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen - $15.12 (hardcover)

We probably did not need to buy any of these books, but we don't think that $30 is too much to spend, over the course of four months, on our favorite hobby. Finding room to store all of them is a bigger problem. Fortunately, PaperBackSwap and Bookmooch help us get rid of the ones we've read and replace them with books that are new, or at least new-to-us.

Weekend Links

Patton Oswalt (a long-time CSD favorite) poses a hypothetical to the the A.V. Club staff: If you could live anywhere in the world, for any five-year period in history, where would you live, and when would it be? There are some pretty great answers. Where would you go?

Genevieve Koski, the A.V. Club's baby sister, has a new weekly feature, Trending Topics, which summarizes the week's internet trends. Very cool.

Jakob Dylan has unfortunately not retired from singing yet, which is tolerable as long as Neko Case and Kelly Hogan are backing him on vocals.

This is now a couple of weeks old, but New York Magazine's article on "The Switch and 17 Other Romantic Comedies That Are Actually Horrible and Cruel" is as great of a take-down of the genre as you are ever going to see.

A very good friend of the blog has opened up a mail-order bakery, The Naughty Housewife, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

Noel Murray's "A Very Special Episode" feature has been really good lately, and his analysis of Arrested Development's "Good Grief" catches everything its fans loved about that show, and also how the sort of clever-dickery that ultimately damned it to cancellation.

And finally, in honor of Tony Romo playing opening the season on "Football Night in America," a re-post of this classic video of Tony Romo participating in one of the weirdest things to ever happen:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Holy Shit


Friday, September 10, 2010

Talking To Nerds About Music

If you like tall, nerdy, depressed guys who graduated from Yale and talk about music a lot - and, if you're reading this blog, the odds are that you do - then you will love the writings of Rob Sheffield. His latest book, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, is just as accomplished as his first book, Love Is A Mix Tape, but, as an added bonus, it will not make you sob uncontrollably. This saturday, he is DJing at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, and on sunday afternoon he is participating in a panel discussion as part of the Brooklyn Book Festival.

Album Tacos

Album Tacos is apparently the latest trendy exercise in absurdist juxtaposition, following the proud tradition of Selleck Waterfall Sandwich and Sad Keanu.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Football Season Is Upon Us

It is increasingly difficult to feel good about being a football fan. Science is becoming more adept at treating concussions, and studies show that concussions are far more prevalent than we used to realize, and their repercussions far more long-lasting. Despite their relative wealth and access to the excellent health care their union provides, former professional football players die at younger ages than the rest of the population, often after decades of stumbling through their lives with memory loss and decreased motor function. The other injuries, the broken bones and torn ligaments, are getting worse as well. If the NFL owners get their wish, and manage to extend the season to 18 games, these injuries are only going to get worse.

People who cover football for a living either do not notice or (far more likely) pretend not to notice, but NFL players are getting almost exponentially bigger and faster, such that observant fans have to assume that performance-enhancing drugs are being used far more often than the NFL will admit. To be certain, performance-enhancing drugs are used in other sports, most notably baseball, but, in my view, increased home run totals do not effect the integrity of the sport in the same way that the endless string of broken bones and torn ligaments effects the integrity of the NFL. Traditionalist baseball fans mourn the tainted records held by players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but because that extra strength was directed at balls instead larger bodies hitting each other are higher speeds. Today's games are far more violent than the games of previous decades.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to follow the NFL and still see yourself as a moral and conscientious person.

And yet, football is a nostalgic sport for me. Buffalo does not have major league professional teams in my two favorite sports, so, growing up, we watched the Bills. The Buffalo Bills made the playoffs every season from the time I was 8 to the time I was 16, and went to the Super Bowl every year from when I was 10 until I was 14. I have never rooted for professional athletes as much as I cheered for Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Jim Kelly, Steve Tasker, Darryl Talley, and Cornelius Bennett, and those teams played a number of the greatest football games ever played.

If there's one game in particular that exemplifies what I enjoy about the NFL, it is the game the Bills played against the San Francisco 49ers in September 1992. The field was full of future Hall of Famers, and the game was called and executed at the highest level. Three hours and 1086 yards of offense later, the Bills had won 34-31. As long as the NFL remains capable of providing games like this, I will have at least a little interest in the sport, even if I find it difficult to look past the unsavory aspects of the game.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Onion Can Not Make Fun of Joe Biden Enough

The Onion outdoes itself every time they write about Joe Biden. These two recent features are two of the funnier political pieces they've ever done - the man is a bottomless well of material.

Did you know that Joe Biden is cooling his heels in Mexico for a while? Apparently, somebody didn't get what they were supposed to get, and somebody else got a whole lot more than they bargained for. Oh, I just love this piece - some of those lines sound like the best lyrics Bruce Springsteen never wrote.

Also, I would like to go on the record as saying that if Hennessey started running this advertising campaign, I would totally buy a bottle. And I don't even know what Hennessey is - is it a cognac? I don't even care.

Biden Criticized For Appearing In Hennessy Ads

The 'Double Rainbow' Song

You may think that you have too much time on your hands, but, trust me, you do not have as much time on your hands as these people:

Sunday, September 5, 2010


In 1985, the Buffalo Bills drafted Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, 7-time Pro Bowler Andre Reed, and Frank Reich, arguably one of the greatest back-up quarterbacks of all-time. Since , the Bills have drafted Mike Williams, Josh Reed, Justin Bannan, Willis McGahee, Chris Kelsay, Terrence McGee, Lee Evans, J.P. Losman, Tim Anderson, Tim Euhus, Roscoe Parrish, Kevin Everett, Duke Preston, Donte Whitner, Jonathan McCargo, Ashton Youboty, Ko Simpson, Marshawn Lynch, Paul Posluszny, Trent Edwards, Leodis McKelvin, James Hardy, Chris Ellie, Aaron Maybin, Eric Wood, and Jarius Byrd.

There is a legitimate argument to be made that the Bills did not draft a single player in eight years as good as any of those three players we picked in 1985. The best was, almost without question, Lee Evans, who shown flashes of brilliance, but, limited by mediocre-at-best quarterbacks and terrible offensive lines, has produced 340 receptions and 5356 yards in six years.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Counterpoint

I would not want to try to tackle this guy, particularly when a bitchin' guitar solo is playing in the background.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bills Fans, Get Ready to Start Banging Your Head Against The Wall

I would like to go on the record about a few things.

Last season, I said that the Bills should have picked Michael Oher in the first round, instead of Aaron Maybin. But, if we didn't draft Oher, we should have drafted Percy Harvin. As it turns out, I was pretty correct about that.

This season, I like C.J. Spiller, but he plays the same position as two of the Bills' five best players, and, if we were looking for insurance at the running back position, other good running backs like Jahvid Best and Toby Gerhart were going to be available later in the draft. There wasn't an obvious pick like Oher on the board, and Spiller has an unbelievable amount of talent, but he appears to be more of a situational back, and I think the Bills need somebody who can play on every down. Rutgers' Anthony Davis was still on the board; if he paves the road for Frank Gore and the 49ers offense this season, don't say the Bills were not on notice.

Additionally, the New England Patriots drafted Rob Gronkowski in the second round, immediately after the Bills picked Torrell Troup. Gronkowski is from the suburbs of Buffalo, and plays a position, tight end, where the Bills need help. Additionally, the Bills' quarterback, Trent Edwards, is accurate, but can't throw long particularly well, so it seems as if having a good tight end would be a must-have for our offense. Don't be surprised if Gronkowski flourishes in New England. Admittedly, he is going to a great situation, with a future Hall of Famer at quarterback and two all-pro wide receivers to open up the middle of the field for him. But even so, it would not surprise me if the Bills come to look at Gronkowski as an enormous missed opportunity.