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.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, by Rob Sheffield

Rob Sheffield has been one of th greatest music writers around, and his new book, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, by Rob Sheffield, is a collection of essays about his life in the 1980s, and the pop songs that remind him of different coming-of-age experiences he had as a teenager and 20-something. It's very good. He admits that a lot of the songs are corny, but is nostalgic for the years in the early-to-mid 1980s when what was popular and what was critically acclaimed were one and the same - Springsteen, Prince, U2, etc. Its very well-written and, full of charming stories like this, where Rob, home from Yale for the summer, runs into a casual acquaintance from high school:

I was wearing a cardigan, and Vincent was wearing a lime green tank top, so it only took a minute for us to start chatting about The Smiths. We found somewhere to sit and eat French Fries. The Red Sox game was on TV. We talked barely at all about high school, a great deal about gender ambiguity in "Still Ill," and a little about the Red Sox. He wasn't a baseball fan, so he was curious about what was happening on the field.


"What the hell was that?"
"A double play," I explained. "The runner on third got caught."
"Will he get home?"
"He hasn't got one."
"Barbarism begins at home."
We didn't have many friends in common, so we ran out of gossip fast, but we just kept talking in our private Smiths language. By the end of the game, we'd discussed The Queen Is Dead todeath, and I'd learned which members of the 1986 Red Sox were hot. Jim Rice grounded into a 6-4-3.
"That's it?" Vincent asked. "Its over."
"Its over."
"In a way, it never really began."
"But in my heart, it was so real."
"We shook hands at the train and traded addresses. We never wrote those letters and never ran into each other again. I thought it was strange to spend an evening having so much fun with someone I didn't know so well, and to not hang out after that, because I was too young to know adult life is full of accidents and interrupted moments and empty beds you clib into and don't clib out of. A few months later, the Red Sox lost the World Series.