Saturday, July 31, 2010

Back in the Saddle

The Concept II Model E ergometer is not a time machine, but it might be from the future. Its sturdier and quieter than previous models, and I like its higher perch - it makes getting on an off a lot easier on your knees and back (OK, you tend to notice this more getting off of the erg than you do getting on).

On a totally unrelated note, doing a long steady state row the day after The National concert that ended late and two days after a heavy quads/back/lats lifting day is a really good way to make yourself feel like an old man.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Belated Links - Mad Men edition

Frank Heller, lawyer of law and minor internet celebrity, tells you what the LAW IS, son. That's what he do.

New York Magazine's annual "Cheap Eats" list was predictably strong.

The New Yorker's James Surowiecki on Wall Street, The White House, and the weak economy. lists "14 More of the Most Unintentionally Gay Rap Lyrics Ever."

And, finally, just two days late for the season premiere, a bunch of Mad Men-related links!

Matthew Weiner, creator of 'Mad Men,' was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air.

The AV Club's critics discuss the season premiere of Season 4 of Mad Men.

As part of the excitement leading up to the premiere of Season 4 of Mad Men, Flavorwire discusses the books read by the characters on the show, and also the analytical/scholarly books written about the show.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gaslight Anthem - "American Slang"

Gaslight Anthem's first album sounded a little bit like a prolonged Springsteen impression, but now their second album paints them as a legitimate heir to the New York/New Jersey sound passed down from Springsteen to Bon Jovi to My Chemical Romance.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Millions of Teenagers Can't Be Wrong

Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump performed this week's "AV Club Undercover" song, covering "My Favourite Dress" by legendary old-school British punk-rockers The Wedding Present,* and does a pretty blue-eyed soul version of it.

Remember that scene in The 40 Year-Old Virgin where Paul Rudd says "I used to think Matt Damon was kind of a Streisand, but he's killin' it in this movie" Um . . . that was a good scene.

Patrick Stump covers The Wedding Present

*For their part, The Wedding Present covered The Rolling Stones' "Mother's Little Helper" earlier in the series.

Monday, July 19, 2010

USA Basketball's 2010 Camp Invitees

USA Basketball has invited the following twenty-one players to try out for this summer's national team, which will represent the United States at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey from August 28th - September 12th:

Chauncey Billups
Stephen Curry
Tyreke Evans
Eric Gordon
O.J. Mayo
Rajon Rondo
Derrick Rose
Russell Westbrook

Andre Iguodala
Kevin Durant
Jeff Green
Rudy Gay
Danny Granger
Kevin Love
Amare Stoudemire
Lamar Odom
Gerald Wallace

David Lee
Tyson Chandler
Brook Lopez
Robin Lopez

It bothers me that none of the players from the 2008 Olympic team are coming back this summer, and it bothers me further that this team has some of the glaring weaknesses that haunted the United States in international competition from the 2000 Olympics to the 2008 "redeem team" Olympics, namely one-dimensional big men, and over-abundance of shooting guards and small forwards at the expense of other positions, and inconsistent perimeter shooters whose NBA games largely consist of driving and drawing fouls. The international game has a greater emphasis on shooting than the NBA, as well as fewer fewer whistles and, therefore, fewer free throws. Westbrook, Rose and Rondo are all outstanding players, but none of them is an accomplished shooter, and they can only find minutes for so many athletic, dribble-heavy point guards. They will excel in the open court, and that's great if Coach K wants his team to run, but I can easily see them struggling in the half-court with a lineup of, for instance, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Danny Granger, Rondo and Gordon.

I would start Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and David Lee, with Curry as my offense off the bench, Mayo as a "D and 3's" type in the Bowen/Raja Bell mold, and Amare and Lopez off the bench if the team wants to run a little bit more. I may start Lopez or Chandler if we play a team, like, for instance Spain, which has legitimately 7-footers in its own right, otherwise I think that small and up-tempo is the way to go with this group.

But mainly, I am disappointed that more of the United States' best players are not competing. Our major problem from 1996 until 2006 was that we took winning for granted, and too few of our truly elite players wanted to play. I understand that, this summer, a significant number of our elite players are either injured or are changing teams and have a lot of off-the-court business to take care or, but I would feel much better with the steadying influence of Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carlos Boozer, and Carmello Anthony.

What Do Your Professors Read When They Go To The Beach?

The Yale Alumni Magazine includes a charming little feature about what some beloved faculty members are reading this summer. Jonathan Spence is reading Wolf Hall, Harold Bloom is re-reading John Crowley's Little, Big, Charlie Hill is reading The Four Feathers, and Stephen Carter is reading Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow. Also, somewhat surprisingly, Carlos Eire recommends The Pillars of the Earth, calling it "the best historical novel I've ever read."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Links

The New York Times previews Season 4 of Mad Men.

Frank Rich's column this week, discusses how the reaction to the latest in Mel Gibson's series of public-relations catastrophes represents how the country has moved away from the culture-war anger that made 2004 such a terrible time to be an American. (For my money, that summer's Swift Boat advertising campaign remains the low point of American political discourse.)

The A.V. Club's film critics discussed Inception and The Sorcerer's Apprentice in a great little podcast, and managed to avoid using any spoilers, so props to them. Tasha Robinson also appeared on At the Movies to discuss Inception. THERE ARE A LOT OF SPOILERS so don't click on it if you haven't seen the movie yet.

Also at the AV Club - a primer on the works of Neil Gaiman,

Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule posted an old 1982 interview with Pauline Kael, one of the most influential film critics of all-time.

Somebody referenced this old internet animation the other day, dramatizing internet message board threads about how babies (or is it babbys?) are made, and its still just as weird as I remember it being.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thank You, Internet!

The guy who put this together is a genius. (I say guy because, though I do not know the gender of its creator, I can only assume that NBA basketball in-jokes + 14 year-old WWF highlights = male auteur). I never watched wrestling growing up, but Hulk Hogan's heel turn at the 1996 Bash at the Beach is so famous that every guy who was a teenager in the mid-90's probably remembers it. Anyway, Hogan turning into a villain is probably the best analogy for what LeBron James did, going overnight from one of the "good guys" in basketball to an almost universally despised villain character, crushing the dreams of the city of Cleveland to go crush ass and run up scores with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Anyway, this video is bizarre but well worth a few minutes of your time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Every "That's What She Said" Joke from The Office

I know, its an old joke, but its funny when its delivered this consistently well.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

emo evening thoughts

cycling through my bad mood music staples at the end of this biz trip, I realized that two of them are specifically anti-marriage/family.

"no children" on Tallahassee by Mountain Goats and
"rake's song" on hazards of love by decemberists

can you think of any anti-marriage songs (not just misogynistic ones)?

The Internet Thinks I Write Like David Foster Wallace

Usually, facebook quizzes give me the howling fantods and make me want to off my map, but this is one I can get behind.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

flowers and madness

In Akira Kurosawa's movie "Ran" (based loosely on King Lear) an elderly warlord goes mad from grief and defeat. His madness is expressed, repeatedly, by depicting him happily picking simple field flowers. Why do we associate madness with childish delights, and specifically appreciating flowers? Was Ferdinand the Bull lovable or crazy? He was a little crazy, right? But fighting in bullfights is also crazy, isn't it? Is giving in to our inner child so visibly a sign of madness, that the battles of the world have worn us down? Does it matter that the flowers are wild -- is a more cultivated blossom a sign of greater sanity? There is a wildflower garden in the new Millennium Park in Chicago -- it is oddly calming.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Philosophy of Modern Communication

NPR's Diane Rehm interviews William Powers about his new book, Hamlet's Blackberry, and discusses whether contemporary technology makes communication so easy that we eschew both "alone time" and face-to-face interactions with other people. Definitely worth a listen. Also, somewhere, David Foster Wallace is smiling.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekend Links

The AV Club's "Fighting With Loved Ones Over Art" has generated 1,444 comments, making it one of the most-discussed AV Club articls of all-time. What works of art do you disagree with your loved ones again? In the Garrett household, Lost in Translation is probably the movie about which we most disagree.

New York Times' columnist David Brooks' op-ed "The Medium Is the Medium" should makes my parents feel less guilty for having bought so many books over the years. Of course its possible that Jake Taylor and I would have become serious students if they hadn't bought so many books, but why take the chance?

Former Gawker blogger Emily Gould discusses how perpetually-outraged feminist blogs may be doing women a disservice.

World Cup articles had more relevance earlier this week, but even so, this Slate article about Why All Soccer Fans Should Root For Holland to Lose To Spain is worth reading. None of the teams in this year's World Cup were as 'critically acclaimed' as Johann Cruyff's Dutch teams from the 1970's, and it raises the question of what we like to see the most in sports - victory at all costs, or well-played, entertaining games.

In the words of Jake Taylor, "the fact that this is probably not real does not mitigate its awesomeness."

FakeCraigFinn is my new favorite Twitter feed. He's been on fire lately, which is more than I can say for RealCraigFinn, whose latest album, Heaven Is Whenever, is The Hold Steady's weakest showing in years. In the AV Club, Steven Hyden suggested a few things The Hold Steady could do to get back on track.

Yes, I realize that just about everybody in the world has already seen it, but you didn't really think we would let the headline "Tired Gay Succumbs to Dix in 200 Meters" go by without comment, did you?

These "Horribly Sexist" print advertisements from the 1950's, 60's, and 70's would never have seen the light of day at Sterling Cooper.

Friday, July 9, 2010

emo evening thoughts

So now we are outraged that an egotistical and commercialized sports star did something egotistical and commercialized.

upper-middle brow magazines get thin as hell on quality content come summer. I'm looking at you NYRB and New Yorker.

the fact that I look forward to business travel as an opportunity to save up airline miles for a personal trip makes me boring and irredeemably cheap.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Louis C.K. Gets Serious Over Poker

I would like to thank my friend Matt Ufford at Warming Glow for posting this scene from Louis C.K.'s new show, "Louie." Common Sense Dancing has been a fan of Louis C.K.'s for years, particularly his killer stand-up specials, and, while he sometimes takes on social issues a little too directly, he does so with a clarity, seriousness of purpose, and sense of humor that is unimpeachable. C.K. and his cast (I'm assuming this scene is, at least in part, improvised) deserve a thumbs-up for this one.

Thanks for the words: Warming Glow

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

emo evening thoughts

Kings of Convenience, you might have to take over from Vampire Weekend as the wearers of the "I stole another ethnic group's musical style and didn't do much else to it" dunce cap. It's just samba, right? Am I missing something?

Tom the dancing bug, you speak the truth

We All Love A Big Finish

Indie rocker Clem Snide covers Journey's "Faithfully" as part of the "AV Club Undercover" series. Be sure to hang in there for the out-of-nowhere flourish of an ending.

Clem Snide covers Journey

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Weekend Links

Here's what we've been reading this week:

Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski - the two AV Club critics who were once teenage girls - discuss the new Twilight movie (and describes it as "a romance between a vampire, a werewolf, and a moron"), while (same link) the AV Club's male critics discuss The Last Airbender, which they unanimously agree is the worst movie of the summer. In their written reviews, Scott Tobias gives The Last Airbender and "F" and Roger Ebert gives it one-half of a star.

In keeping with this week's David Foster Wallace trend, here is's 1997 interview with DFW.

In the New York Times, Jeffrey Rosen writes about Kagan's responsibilities in filling Louis Brandeis' seat on the bench.

Amelie Gilette, who recently gave up on most of her freelancing to join the writing staff of The Office, has continued to write her Tolerability Indexes for The Onion, and has published another strong installment this week.

In McSweeney's, another interesting installment of "The Confessions of A Female Porn Writer."

Bill Simmons of discusses how soccer is ready to capture our nation's attention. Simmons writes: "I love the Cup because it stripped away all the things about professional sports that I've come to despise. No sideline reporters. No JumboTron. No TV timeouts. No onslaught of replays after every half-decent play . . . No announcers breathlessly overhyping everything or saying crazy things to get noticed. We don't have to watch 82 mostly half-assed games to get to the playoffs. We don't have 10 graphics on the screen at all times. We don't have to sit there for four hours waiting for a winner because pitchers are taking 25 seconds to deliver a baseball . . . The World Cup just bangs it out: Two cool national anthems, two 45-minute halves, a few minutes of extra time and usually we're done. Everything flies by. Everything means something. It's the single best sporting event we have by these four measures: efficiency, significance, historical context and truly meaningful/memorable/exciting moments. You know … as long as you like soccer."