Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Overheard in ATL


Oh, I'm at the airport.

Oh, you didn't know? Whenever I'm at the airport, I have an incessant
need to call everyone I know. If I'm not calling people at the airport
-- oh, I can't hear you, I'm in the airport -- if I'm not calling
someone, then I would have proof that I have no friends. It's just
inconceivable that I wouldn't have someone to call.


Oh, gosh, I'm about to get on the plane. But rather than get off the
phone and end this call that was made solely because I am in the
airport, I will just make everything take longer. Oh, I'm in the

Oh, you're at work? Really? Oh, well it won't be much longer. I'm at
the airport. I can't believe you're at work. I mean, it is 2 pm on a
Tuesday and there's a 99 percent chance that if you have a job, you
would be at work, I just think it's SO WEIRD that you're at work. Oh,
I'm not at work. I'm at the airport.


Hello? Hi Doodie, I just wanted to let you know I was here and was all
checked in. My flight's on time, so thanks for bringing me.*

*this is an exact quotation. This leads me to believe 1) she was
calling anthropomorphic feces, 2) that can drive, 3) and that in the
event that her flight had not been on time, she would be angry at the
anthropomorphic feces for driving her to the airport.

This person also was telling person #3 (the person before
Anthropomorphic feces) that she has a mortgage for 40,000 and a second
mortgage for 15,000. She should have skipped flying to Atlanta, she
could have paid off her f---ing mortgages.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The continuing story of Justin Verlander, magical pitcher

Justin Verlander and narratives -- in that link, Joe Posnanski discusses how sportswriters and commentators are clinging to the story that Justin Verlander was the reason the Tigers won last night, despite all evidence being markedly to the contrary.  It's a great read, it's spot on, and it has one problem and one problem alone. Alas, that problem is that Posnanski himself is guilty of perpetuating a narrative that numbers didn't necessarily back up with Verlander this season. See, for instance, two ways to look at MVP voting and the obvious MVP choice (he rightly concludes there isn't one)

While Posnanski is willing to acknowledge that Verlander is not a guarantee for MVP, he does seem to buy into the gospel that Verlander is a uniquely dominant pitching force in the American League. In fact, numbers indicate that he's a superb pitcher whose difference from other great pitchers has been exceptional fortune.  To the extent Verlander has a defining feature that makes him the true unrivaled leader in AL pitching, it's been his ability to pitch deeper into games than his rivals (which may be a function of how atrocious the Tigers' other starters were for most of the season, forcing Leyland to leave Verlander in to give his bullpen a rest). 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fire Rob Parker?

I don't want to have to do this, Rob Parker. Don't make me do it. Oh lord. Fine.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi likely won't win American League Manager of the Year.

Rick Perry likely won't be elected president in 2012. But there's a disturbing probability that each of these could happen despite mountains of evidence that neither man has offered a shred of value added to his representative organization.  I like the direction that this article is going, Mr. Parker, please continue.

In fact, he'll be lucky to finish in the top three in the voting.

I don't know. If I had a ballot, it would probably say Joe Maddon, Manny Acta, and Ron Washington, but a lot of people just look at who went to the playoffs, so Girardi's name will be on there. But I also think that Manager of the Year is preposterous since managers are essentially irrelevant -- what you need is a GM affiliated with the Army of the 12 Monkeys and some dork that was in Get Him to the Greek. Haven't you seen that Moneyball movie?

Sadly, most baseball writers/voters just can't look past the Yankees' $200-million payroll to actually see what he's done.

Earned an attendance certificate? Filled out the lineup card? This is why Manager of the Year is as stupid an award as an ESPY. Winning games is its own reward for a team or a manager. Winning individual awards is something only non-true Yankees like A-Fraud cares about.

Plus, there's an anti-New York vote that swirls around Baseball America whether folks want to admit it or not.

You do know that Baseball America is a publication, right? One that's infinitely more esteemed in its coverage of baseball than the Red Sox crap factory that employs you?

But if there was ever a manager who deserves some credit for getting his team into the postseason this year -- the Yankees clinched the AL East title with a doubleheader sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday -- it's Girardi.

If there was ever a manager who deserves some credit for getting his team into the postseason this yearYou tricked me, Rob Parker. I was going to suggest that EVER was a very high threshold -- that you would have to be saying that Joe Girardi outmanaged Gil Hodges in 1969 or Sparky Anderson in the 1970s, Bobby Cox in any of the years between 1991 and 2005, every year John McGraw managed... No, instead you are saying he is the most credit-worthy of all time* *if you measure all time by considering only this year. You're still demonstrably, ludicrously, and insanely wrong by any rational measure (Kirk Gibson, anyone?), but you're clever. (Oh, wait, you mean credit like credit ratings, credit limits, right? Because obviously since he has a $200+ million payroll...oh Jesus. You're serious.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lists: Books

January (3)
Black and Blue: How Racism, Drugs and Cancer Almost Destroyed Me by Paul Canoville
Home Buying For Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
Tips and Traps When Buying a Home by Robert Irwin

February (6)
Mortgages for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
The Damned United by David Peace
The Quitter by Harvey Pekar
An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
The Good Stuff by Joe Posnanski
How to Beat Up Anybody by Judah Friedlander

March (3)
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
Hell in a Handbasket by Tom Tomorrow
2011 Baseball America Prospect Handbook by Jim Callis et al.

April (4)
The War for Late Night by Bill Carter
I Was Right On Time by Buck O'Neil
Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore
For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond by Ben Macintyre

May (5)
The Internet Is a Playground by David Thorne
Chronicles, Volume 1 by Bob Dylan
Living on the Black by John Feinstein
The Late Shift by Bill Carter
Cancer on $5 a Day *Chemo Not Included by Robert Schimmel and Alan Eisenstock

June (4)
The Game From Where I Stand by Doug Glanville
The Devil and the White City by Erik Larson
Permanent Midnight by Jerry Stahl
Mountain Man Dance Moves: the McSweeney's Book of Lists by the Editors of McSweeney's

July (6)
Chasing the Game by Filip Bondy
Shut Out: a Story of Race and Baseball in Boston by Howard Bryant
The Rocket That Fell To Earth by Jeff Pearlman
The Final Season by Tom Stanton
The New Frugality by Chris Farrell
Where the Wild Things Were by William Stolzenburg

August (5)
Project Nim by Elizabeth Hess
A False Spring by Pat Jordan
Zoo Story by Thomas French
High Heat by Tim Wendel
Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales

September (2)
My Year of Flops by Nathan Rabin
Last Call by Daniel Okrent

Since I've uploaded this, I've read nothing but nonfiction, but it's also included some real dense works -- Last Call took me the better part of two months. It's a good history of prohibition, but the word I'd use to describe it a bit too appropriate for such a topic, so I won't even use it.


I hit a run of science/ecology/biology books with Where the Wild Things Were, Project Nim, and Zoo Story. Now I'm starting a couple of novels, which is odd since I haven't read anything but nonfiction since apparently An Object of Beauty in February, which, while certainly not good, didn't warrant a half a year away from fiction entirely.


Fine, fine, Last Call is dry. Okay? Happy now? Can we move on?

The 50 book threshold seems a lot tougher this year. Admittedly, I've had a lot of lengthier books and I've really run out of go-to fiction authors (I've read everything from Chabon and Vonnegut now, and the Ian Fleming Bond novels are waaaay back in the rear-view mirror now), but it still seems like I've read a lot more than 38 books. I suppose moving near the subway has largely limited my ability to read when going to and from work -- my commute's no longer worth filling and this week I've taken to walking home while I'm trying to overcome an inexplicable injury/health issue that I'm not willing to run through. Either way, 50 is doable, and I suspect it could be done by November considering I have a couple more flights in my near future and no baseball games to fill my spare time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I hate our coffee machine

The coffee machine in my office is annoying for two reasons. 1) It fills even paper cups about half full, so you have about half of a cup of coffee. 2) The coffee machine has apparently become human. It has developed self-awareness and the ability to lie. 

The machine ALWAYS lies. With coffee, it says "preparing your fresh ground coffee"...and my response is "f*** you, machine. I know it's not fresh ground, because I was the one who put in the little plastic packet into which the "coffee" was ground probably eons ago.   So the only way to interpret its statement is that the coffee has been freshly brewed from ground coffee, which is...how coffee works.  Barring someone just pouring water over a bunch of beans into a mug, it's going to be made "freshly" with ground up beans.  So basically the machine is telling me that my eyes are working and the machine is performing its task, but it has to be a fancy man about it.

From this machine, I drink coffee solely because I'm trying to avoid drinking soda, because I don't like coffee much.  So I usually get a mocha -- which, as I learned from said coffee machine, is just coffee with hot chocolate in it. (I do not know these things and I don't enjoy the differences between wine. I am not welcome in the white guy club.) And the mocha...it's even worse.  This time the machine's not lying, it's just an asshole. With the mocha, it says "preparing your indulgent mocha".  Indulgent?  Come on.  1) machine, check dictionary.com --  in·dul·gent /ɪnˈdʌldʒənt/  Show Spelled[in-duhl-juhnt] adjective -- characterized by or showing indulgence; benignly lenient or permissive: an indulgent parent. 2) Are you kidding me? There is nothing indulgent. It's powdered coffee, powdered hot chocolate. It's about as indulgent as doing your taxes. The only, only, only way that you can call it indulgent is to use it in the more colloquial sense that basically means gluttonous. The machine is telling me "hey fatass, you'll get your fucking sugar caffeine shit."

So I hate our coffee machine and am going to have to see the movie Tron so I can figure out how to kill it from the inside.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Live from Oriole Park at Camden Yards

They're playing Ini Kamoze's "here comes the hotstepper" in the Bud
Light Warehouse Bar right now. I had forgotten the song entirely,
which is embarrassing, since I'm now convinced it's the best song I
don't have on ITunes (Us3 - Cantaloop and Onyx - Slam might be its
only rivals, and I now intend to buy all three when I get home).

Coming here is always an ambivalent experience. I've never liked the
Orioles, I hate Cal Ripken (and if I were to say so here, I would
likely be burned at the stake), I was very down on the stadium until I
discovered the bleacher seats -- the "good seats" here (about 20 rows
behind the plate) are among the worst "good seats" I've ever had. But
it's a good day today, I can pretend I want the Orioles to win
(admittedly, on balance, I prefer the Jays, but I really just want the
AL East to reach parity and Andy McPhail is criminally
underappreciated as a GM).

Orioles fans are probably the most past-oriented fans on earth. I
don't think you'd find any other stadium where the most omnipresent
jersey is a player who doesn't play anymore. Admittedly, they've been
bad for a long stretch, but their fans don't have the excuse that
they've not spent money (that's definitely not the Orioles' problem --
they signed Tejada, after all) or that they traded everyone (I don't
even remember the Orioles trading a homegrown talent other than Bedard
-- they deal guys like Derrek Lee that they sign on one year deals
because they'll pay for such players or short-term guys like George

Now they've moved from Ini Kamoze to "Party in the USA". Maybe the
Orioles just acquired Tulo.

Sent from my mobile device

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How to Live Forever

Because it was still 100 degrees at 5 p.m., I decided there was no way I'd subject myself to the Nationals game tonight, even though I missed it Wednesday for work. So I had to find something new to do and knew my laptop was dead (my 5 year old laptop...still works fine -- hence you can read this and it's not all blackberry-formatted). Because I'd been constantly in the E Street Cinema the last few weeks, I was acutely aware of a documentary coming out called "How to Live Forever" that examined aging, death, and whether these were truly inevitable things. Not from a super-scientific point of view, much more of a populist sort of mid-life crisis assessment. And today, it opened at the E Street Cinema and the director was there for a Q&A. Having missed the Q&A with the people associated with Project Nim last week when it sold out before I got tickets, I had to go.

And I'm glad I did. It's a light documentary considering that really so much of it is about death. It's somewhere in between the Errol Morris school and Michael Moore. But one of the questions that he asked a number of people on the street really struck a chord with me because it was bizarrely appropriate to a conversation I had earlier this week while exemplifying why I am a bad role model and should not be let near summer associates.

The question was: "if you could take a pill that would let you live 500 years, would you take it?" The people on the street that he asked were basically split -- half seemed to think that life's brevity was a value of some sort (these were either truly decrepit people or people who were far from having to contemplate death), half said yes (with a special poignance from one person, who pointed out he was recovering from his second cancer surgery).

My conversation came about in a different way but sort of touched on similar ground. In order to talk about anything but work, I asked the summer associates what they were doing with their time in between working and going back to school. One of them had a great many travels planned, the other was going to a wedding and was planning to go skydiving.

Because my brain doesn't involve itself before I speak, I just say "I could never do that." The reason? It's not because I'm afraid of heights or even that I'm afraid my parachute wouldn't open (though that probably plays an insignificant role). Rather, it's the fear that I would get in the air and decide that maybe it's not worth it to pull the rip cord. It's not that I'm suicidal, I couldn't even contemplate that seriously. It's that I lack 100% certainty that, given the actual obligation to do something or vanish, I'd do something. It's much easier and much less troubling to simply continue to exist and not have to confront those decisions. There are plenty of days where I think I don't know how people have kids, because I have it easy and this still sucks. I'm healthy, I have a job, I'm financially secure (until August 2, thanks a lot, tea party). And there are a lot of days where I am ready to chuck it all.

It's certainly possible other people feel this way, but I suspected it's not a terribly common belief. Well, I thought that for a day. The next day, I learned that the summer associate who is not going skydiving apparently told one of my co-workers that my theory was "brilliant". Either I'm apparently onto something and there's a whole community of us who practice fundamentalist ambivalence or he may be more troubled than we know.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bixler's dream is over -- Riggleman resigns

Well, perhaps Jim Riggleman's just been overcome with guilt for continuing as a manager after I excoriated him <A HREF=http://blogaboutfederalism.blogspot.com/2011/04/worst-managed-game-ive-ever-seen.html>here</A>, or maybe Jim Riggleman's resignation is just another sign of the Nationals trying desperately to get their plot to move the team to Las Vegas back on track. In any event, it's one of the most fascinating train wrecks I've experienced, definitely one of the weirdest managerial situations. Edwin Rodriguez resigned earlier this week, to be sure, but he resigned on a day when I looked at the standings, saw the Marlins had fallen to last and wondered how he hadn't been fired already.  Mike Hargrove suddenly quitting on the Mariners was odd, but the team's only real player didn't like Hargrove and was vowing to leave if Hargrove remained as manager (leading to articles like <A HREF=http://www.thebrushback.com/hargrove_full.htm>this</A>. 

But the Riggleman situation is a real black eye for everyone associated with it. Mike Rizzo looks like a jerk for not offering to have a conversation (at which point he'd have refused to exercise the option, triggering Riggleman's resignation then) and the franchise looks cheap because they could have bought peace for the remainder of the season by coughing up $600,000.  For a team that signed Jayson Werth to an average annual value contract of $18 million, that's really stingy.

Then there's Jim Riggleman.  The Nationals job has already lasted longer than two of his three managerial stints even though his winning percentage hasn't shown much reason to keep him around. The 2011 Nationals are a team that's managed to win a lot of games without ever looking particularly good. They've got some solid pieces and have recovered well from losing two players who were supposed to serve as the heart of the lineup with Zimmerman out for nearly two months and Adam LaRoche out for the season. Despite his truly mind-boggling moves and the complete lack of depth on the team, the Nationals were respectable and seemed to be actually drawing some interest from fans (the attendance numbers don't reflect this, though the Nationals have been hampered because they haven't had any of their big draw promotional games yet, any weekend series against the Phillies, and haven't had the sellouts that came from Stephen Strasburg showing up to pitch.)  In any event, the team was at least looking likely to survive and still have a few fans in the seats in September.  So, despite the fact that he's been a questionable manager, he deserved to get the lame duck option picked up, because he hadn't done anything fire-able in the standings (again, tactically, I don't see how he could possibly have held his job in the first instance and a manager who didn't make such moves might well have had this team three or four games over .500 -- the Giants game would have been firmly in the win column).  But insisting that the conversations had to happen in June is, as Mike Rizzo said, not what baseball is about. He had a contract. He wasn't getting fired. If he was going to get fired at the end of the season, he'd have lost nothing -- he's not going to generate any interest as a Major League manager ever again now, and that would make him an unlikely bench coach as well.  If things really work out for Riggleman, he'll be managing the Camden Riversharks next year.

I don't think the Nationals will finish at .500. They wouldn't have with Riggleman, they won't under McLaren. I don't know what effect it will have on the team or their performance. I don't know how McLaren's performance will compare to Riggleman's. But I do know this much -- everyone in the scenario looks like they weren't suited for the jobs they held, and that doesn't bode well for the future of baseball in D.C.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Welcome to run-down San Salvador!

Combining the presence of half of El Salvador's population with the
fact that RFK looks a lot like it's a stadium in a third-world
country, I think I've really got the real feel today (hopefully minus
the people throwing bags of urine).

When they said the game was sold out, I just figured they'd not sold
all the seats and were treating this like a DC United match. Nope.
This place is going to be full by 6 pm, when the El Salvador-Panama
match starts.

What's stunning is the complete absence of Panama fans here. When I
was at the Gold Cup semifinals in 2009, Panama had at least 2/3 of the
fans in Lincoln Financial Field. Today, I saw three on the Metro, no
one in the stadium. Even Jamaica's six fans outnumber Panama thus far.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Top 5 Interrogative Songs

posted from The Top 5 - the longest-lasting of any of the blogs after the livejournal venture had disappeared for a couple years, but I am so swamped with things to do that I am unmotivated to do any of them before midnight, since I'll be doing them after midnight anyway. So it led me to resurrect the top five blog, so long as I can convince Ryan, who's not teaching in the summer, and Dan, who should have limitless time, as I understand that is what happens in grad school -- to follow suit.

Tim's Top 5:
I blame Dan. He posted a reference to this blog today. So I'm posting, because I came up with something that I think would make for a good sporcle quiz -- providing answers to songs ending in question marks. So that's what this is for me -- you could choose to pick songs that are phrased in the form of a question if you prefer, but I'm sticking to something easy to search for in Itunes -- and the only other songs I can think of are "Are you gonna go my way", "Are you gonna be my girl," and "Do you want to know a secret" none of which would make my list anyway. The fascinating thing is that this is a list where the Jimi Hendrix Experience, CCR, Elliott Smith, John Lennon, R.E.M. and The Clash would have qualifiers, and I didn't pick any of those.

1. Life on Mars? - David Bowie - This is far and away the winner here, although if I'd gone with songs phrased in the form of a question, I wouldn't be able to count it. It's one of my favorite Bowie songs, which means it's one of my favorite songs period. The vocal jumps are matched perfectly by the mostly nonsensical lyrics and the music is just soaring. I can't think of a whole lot of songs that do so much with vocal dynamics, but it's fantastic here.

Answer: possibly, frozen under the water.

2. What Do You Want Me To Say? - Dismemberment Plan - I had actually stumbled onto listening to this album (Emergency and I) today and never once thought to connect this song to the list until I ran the ITunes search. It has a similar sort of emphasis on explosions of sound, but ties in some occasional spoken-word sort of lyrics. I've never listened to anything but this album, but this album is fantastic enough to deserve the hype it gets.

Answer: that you're coming back to DC and will be playing the Black Cat on a Saturday or Sunday night.

3. Isn't it a Pity? - George Harrison - This is a very simple song that goes on for a very very long time, but it doesn't feel that way at all. Another masterpiece from what is far and away the best solo album any Beatle ever released. Yes, I said that. Suck it, Imagine (which had a song that narrow missed this list). This song is also noteworthy because IT includes a question mark in the title, even though the next track (What Is Life) does not. Get with the program, Harrison!

Answer: Yes. 'Tis. You're missed, George.

4. What Difference Does It Make? - Sensefield (cover of The Smiths) - I'm sorry, but I just really don't think that highly of the Smiths song (like most Smiths songs, I can see how someone who is not me would like it, but that person is not me). Jon Bunch's vocaqls are meant for this sort of thing, and Morrissey's spoken-word vocal here doesn't carry the same force. This is a pretty good straight rocker, and I am a sucker for Sensefield.

5. What do you do with a B.A. in English? - Cast of Avenue Q - this is the perfect start to a fantastic show that was even better than I had ever figured possible when I saw it live in London. RIP, Sir Gary Coleman.

Answer: Good luck figuring that out. That's why the song is so perfect.

Honorable mention - there'd be plenty, including the only Alice in Chains song that I like (Would?), but how about: CCR - Have You Ever Seen the Rain?; Elliott Smith - Wouldn't Mama Be Proud?; R.E.M. - What's The Frequency, Kenneth?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Just a thought...

I find it amusing that there are 19 copies of Final Exit available used on Amazon.com. Either Amazon's running estate sales now or that book's not all it's cracked up to be.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lists: Books (2011)

I'm at 20 books for the year and expect that I'll be at 21 by the end of the month. I've noticed that I'm accumulating a number of authors for whom I've read multiple books over the last few years -- likely because I read on very few topics and I don't have a lot of readers in my social circle who would really turn me on to someone. The latest to join this group is Bill Carter, who is a television writer, which is surprising, given that I don't really watch much in the way of television. But I read his book about the debacle at NBC with Conan O'Brien in April, which then led me to go back and read his book about the Letterman/Leno debacle at NBC -- of which I made short work. They're both fascinating to me and strike me as pretty ludicrously balanced. They don't make me despise Jay Leno any less, but they make a case for him as a sympathetic figure in both scenarios. But that was right on the heels of finishing John Feinstein's error-laden book about Mike Mussina and Tom Glavine, which was my second of his books.

I'm in the middle of three books: Where the Wild Things Were, Shut Out by Howard Bryant (see FJM post if you want a good reason why I've not felt motivated to pick this up again), and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (which I anticipate I may finish in the next two days).

So, since I started this quest in 2007, I've read 24 authors multiple times. Here's the list:
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (13)
Ian Fleming (12)
Michael Chabon (9)
Jon Krakauer (5)
Raymond Chandler (3)
Steve Martin (3)
Joe Posnanski (3)
JD Salinger (3)
Sherman Alexie (2)
Jim Callis et al. (Baseball America prospect handbook authors) (2)
Bill Carter (2)
Don DeLillo (2)
Dave Eggers (2)
John Feinstein (2)
Mark Haddon (2)
Dashiell Hammett (2)
Nick Hornby (2)
AJ Jacobs (2)
Chuck Klosterman (2)
Michael Lewis (2)
David Maraniss (2)
Jeff Pearlman (2)
Art Spiegelman (2)
Eric Tyson/Ray Brown (2) - no more from these two, it's safe to say.

I'm surprised that Fleming got beat out, I didn't realize I'd read that many Vonnegut books. I will definitely read more Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler when the opportunity presents itself, I just don't engage with fiction that often (the list of authors kind of shows that my forays into fiction are very concentrated in a given author).

I'd expect to add a few authors to that list since I already own the books to do it: Christopher Buckley, James M. Cain, Raymond Carver, Norman Mailer and Harvey Pekar.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well, it fits one of the themes...

I'm pretty sure Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion" is the song most likely to be permanently lodged in my brain. It's not my favorite song of his by a longshot, but it just gets in there and it stays for weeks.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Well, I'm working...

so that explains why I'm really spending my effort trying to write about a stream-of-consciousness playlist that really captures what I'm feeling or what I'm looking for.  It was inadvertent, I found I couldn't really focus on reading comment letters to the CFTC when I was listening to Patton Oswalt (although I like Todd Barry considerably more as a comedian, I end up listening to Oswalt's albums more than any other comedian -- probably since I already burned through all of Barry's so much the first few years where they were the only comedy albums I owned).
It started because I sorted by genre, which brought up alt-country, a genre I created since I figured it made more sense than trying to find Old 97's albums that were spread among live, pop, rock, and  country.  But the first album it brought up was Bare Jr.'s boo-tay, a poorly named but genuinely interesting album that's completely off the radar at this point.  It also has a song that will forever rank as one of my favorites, though it was passed up for a genuinely bad single and probably helped to sink the band's launch despite some pretty strong reviews by Spin (I think) and an up-and-coming music journalist (me -- and god, for all the things I did write when I was chasing journalistic pursuits, music reviews were not among them -- I am not gifted at writing about music even now, and 2 of the 3 albums I managed to review positively led to the rapid destruction of the bands I reviewed -- Bare, Jr. lasted one more album before Bobby Bare Jr. went out solo, U.N.K.L.E. never released another album after Psyence Fiction. I'm likely forgetting something, the only other album I remember reviewing was the first volume of U2's greatest hits).
Anyway, Bare Jr. - Nothin' Better to Do is the song. It's not even available on youtube -- that's how forgotten this album is. The closest thing is this: -- but it's not even close to the same -- the drums and mandolin are what really power the album version, which, after a considerable effort, I managed to find in clip form.
Anyway, the Bare Jr. youtube clip of the house party led to me adding a song that I want to hate, want to despise, want to abhor, because the same house party performance included Bobby covering America's "Sister Golden Hair". Yes, I want to loathe it, but I love for some reason I can't even begin to understand. Whenever I hear it, I then have to listen to it at least a dozen times in a day. And, I suspect if I ever formed a band, I would feel obligated to cover that cursed song. Which led me to -- Neil Diamond - Forever in Blue Jeans (let's just say my band wouldn't be particularly hard-a-rockin'), which led me to Bob Dylan - Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You - a song that I discovered in the last cassette I ever bought -- I was 17 and experiencing the freedom that comes with driving a minivan, because for some reason I had to take it to practice for Once on This Island across town that afternoon, ended up at blockbuster music, and they had a cutout bin of cassettes that included a 99 cent copy of Nashville Skyline.  I liked the album, didn't know what that said about me, and would eventually buy it in CD form about 10 years later. 
That, somehow led to the Avett Brothers' "I and Love and You" -- which I really loved the first time I heard it on XPN, bought the album (and its predecessor) the same day, and only remembered it enough to recommend it to others. It remained unforgotten until my nephew (who was, at the time, not even 4) overheard some reference to Brooklyn and referenced the song. And anytime I bring that up, then I have to add The Weight of Lies to the playlist as well.
I went back to my own genre category, which got me to add three songs to the list from the Jayhawks I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - which I got from the KURE giveaway at the end of Kaleidoquiz my junior year on a 5-track EP that also included the Jayhawks song I already knew that was probably my favorite at the time Blue, and a song I adore but forget constantly (though I've now listened to it 4 times tonight) Save It for a Rainy Day.
That sent me to look for Matthew Sweet - Winona (which is astonishingly not on youtube in non-cover form), which brought up the Matthew Sweet cover of what may actually be my favorite song -- so I added the original (Big Star - Ballad of El Goodo).
Then, about the third time I was listening to Save It for a Rainy Day the harmonica sounded familiar...and so I added Neil Young - Long May You Run (unplugged).
Then I remembered the second song I felt would have to go on my tombstone as a song I loved for reasons that I never understood -- and went ahead and added both it (Pure Prairie League - Amie) and its Wesley Willis cover version (no youtube, sorry -- Amie - rock over London, rock on Chicago). And, because it fit the genre bill -- Old 97's - Buick City Complex, which led me to my other favorite rust belt despondency anthem  Bruce Springsteen - Youngstown
So there's the playlist I felt it necessary to post about. It did the job, too, because I'm still not done working.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Worst Managed Game I've Ever Seen

Jim Riggleman should feel honored. Despite having literally no clue
about what happens during a game of baseball, he's managed to get what
should be an awful team to a semi-respectable record. And he will keep
his job despite offering unquestionable proof he doesn't have any
business possessing it. Two moves he made both constituted the dumbest
things I'd ever seen, both of which were dictated "by the book" only
if one read the title of said book and disregarded every shred of
common sense.

As a thought experiment, consider the circumstances in which you would
walk Eli Whiteside to pitch to Aubrey Huff.

If you said "if there's a left-handed pitcher pitching," you are Jim Riggleman.

If you said "only if there are being runners on first and second in
the bottom of the ninth and either no outs or one out and Aubrey Huff
suffering from late-stage Lou Gehrig's disease," you aren't even a
baseball genius or an intelligent baseball observer, you have merely
reached the status of "sentient being."

Were this the only example of being governed by abstract percentages
that don't make sense in reality, it'd be one thing. But the next
inning, with the game on the line because the move that couldn't
possibly work out didn't work out, he did the same thing. Mike Morse
is coming to the plate. While Mike Morse playing left field would lead
you to excuse most managers for having a losing record, that's not the
point here. So Morse is on deck, Sergio Romo, a right-handed pitcher,
is on the mound. But there's a left hander ready in the bullpen.

The move -- by the book and by the numbers -- is to pinch hit Laynce
Nix. Riggleman's good so far. The Giants, predictably, counter by
bringing in a left-handed pitcher.

Jim Riggleman goes back to the book of baseball in the abstract (not
Bill James' historical abstract, obviously) and sends a right-handed
batter to the plate in the form of ... Brian Bixler.

Let's just stop and say "wow" for a minute. There are precisely zero
circumstances where replacing Laynce Nix with Brian Bixler make sense.
(That includes late-stage Lou Gehrig's disease for Nix.) You're down
one. You pinch hit Nix (a mediocre hitter prone to occasional spurts
of prodigious power) for a mediocre hitter prone to occasional spurts
of prodigious power. Morse and Nix are basically the same, Nix just
has demonstrated his power this year and hits right-handed pitching
better. So. By the book, obvious, bush league stuff. And you know what
happens -- they'll substitute their LOOGY because they've seen the
book too.

Nope. Not if you're Riggleman. If you're Riggleman, you twirl your
fiendish handlebar moutache and say "aha! But I have a secret weapon!"
and pinch hit someone who's only in the major leagues because he can
field and the Nationals suffered an injury to the one player they
didn't anticipate getting hurt, rendering their utility man an
everyday player. But some weapons are a secret because they pose no
threat to anyone, and one of those is a light-hitting slap-hitter who
could only maximize his potential by getting hit with a pitch (an
outcome rarely governed by platoon splits).

Just comparing Nix and Bixler by itself makes the move stupid, but it
also eliminates (1) versatility -- presumably, when one of your bench
players is Matt Stairs, you will be needing someone who can pinch run
and play the position of the player for whomever Stairs (with
apologies to Jonny Gomes, the only DH in the NL) pinch hits. Now, the
bench is Alex Cora and Matt Stairs. (2) the possibility of the only
useful outcome, given that the team has mustered two hits, one of
which should have been scored an error, and you're at the WORST part
of the astonishingly bad lineup. Even if Bixler gets a hold of one
(and gets hit with a pitch), you have a runner on first for guys who
are all woeful hitters (Desmond has, despite a 3-for-3 day on Friday,
an OBP under .300, Hairston was recently spotted batting under . 100,
and then it's the pitcher's spot for whom your options, if you let Nix
bat, are Stairs, Cora, and Bixler. In other words, if the guy batting
in Morse's spot with one out doesn't hit a home run, it won't make a
damn bit of difference. A single just means another man left on base.

So Bixler bats, manages to use the candy cane that he uses for a bat
to hit it to shallow center, and ends the belief that the Nationals
could possibly win the game for themselves.

Brian Wilson nearly remedied this, but instead, the Nationals leave
the bases loaded for the third time in a game in which they had TWO
hits (again, one of which was a hit in the same sense that miniature
golf is golf).

And that's why Jim Riggleman should be replaced by the computer that
wrote Moneyball, Grady Little, or whatever actor played the
kid-manager in Little Big League. Or his hitting coach (Rick Eckstein,
brother of 5-time MLB grit leader/top Grit salesman David Eckstein)
should, despite the fact that by all accounts he is an incredibly nice
and decent human being who donated a kidney to save a family member's
life) have one kidney more than he has jobs.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This week's stupidest thing I've ever read

This week, it comes from Roger Goodell. This should come as no surprise. I have despised his tenure with the NFL, and, unlike Bud Selig, whom I disagree with vehemently and dislike immensely, I don't see that Goodell has done anything positive for his sport. Selig's all-star game chicanery, wild cards and interleague play all offend me, but most people like them. Most people will probably like his attempt to further dilute the playoffs, but I'll probably discuss that later.  Goodell has issued an inexplicable series of suspensions for off field conduct that brought MORE attention to the conduct under the pretense that the conduct was hurting the league, when the NFL is, in my experience, completely immune from righteous indignation.

To wit, how many people are buzzing about these off-field incidents:
-Leonard Little killed a person in a traffic accident when he was driving drunk. Then, six years later, he got another DUI.
-Rae Carruth attempted to murder someone while in the NFL -- he was a first round pick, not some practice squad scrub.
-Ray Lewis was arrested for murder, but ultimately acquitted.
-Lawrence Taylor was arrested for pretty much everything involving drugs and sex at some point.

These are all serious issues. But they weren't major stories that rivaled the games themselves. Goodell put the spotlight on guys like Pacman Jones and Chris Henry.

Anyway, as to the actual retardery, Here's Goodell's parade of horribles:
No draft. "Why should there even be a draft?" said player agent Brian Ayrault. -- That's great. You are quoting an agent. You're not quoting a player or anyone tied to the NFLPA, but you're identifying an agent.  You can quote me on this "Why should there even be an NFL commissioner?"  I think that if you consulted the NFLPA, there'd be nearly unanimous support for the draft, because the draft 1) means money (just broadcast revenue for the draft is substantial), 2) hasn't prevented teams from going nuts in paying players even with a salary cap, but 3) does ensure that the money doesn't all go to players upon entry into the league, so there is money spread around to the guys getting drafts in the third and fourth rounds. VERDICT: Not the players.

No minimum team payroll.  This, Roger, is an OWNERSHIP problem. Some teams will have lousy owners. But you know how fans can solve that? Not go to Bengals games. They did it even during the salary cap era.  The players may be doing a lot of things, but they aren't crusading to eliminate the minimum team payroll. And your point that there will be substantial salary disparity between teams? You know, baseball's gotten worse over the last decade with this disparity, but their revenues are better than ever. You know why? Because they're more years removed from a stupid work stoppage that killed interest in the sport and fans don't really care that much about parity, because most sports fans are fair-weather fans. VERDICT: Not the players and complete red herring.

No minimum player salary. Again, Roger, this isn't what the players are going for. This is what they're willing to accept given that you won't even continue the ludicrously unfair CBA that your owners opted out of to try and add a second deck to the sedan chairs in which they commute to and from games. VERDICT: Not the players.

No standard guarantee to compensate players who suffer season- or career-ending injuries. Who exactly are you trying to convince? The players? This is, again, something that 1) could be negotiated, and 2) is a concern primarily because you subject players to unsafe working conditions and you're trying to make them even more unsafe.  Given that contracts aren't guaranteed, players have virtually no protection on this to begin with. If you're going to suffer a career ending injury, you'd be much happier in MLB.  VERDICT: Not the players and not of concern to fans.

No league-wide agreements on benefits. Yes, I'm familiar with what it means to not operate under a CBA. Your benefits are pretty lousy to begin with. Just ask Dave Duerson or Mike Webster. VERDICT: Not the players and not of concern to fans. it only took six of these and you finally got to one.

No limits on free agency. It only took six of these and you finally got to one that was both relevant and of some interest to fans.  Alas, it's not even sort of realistic. The players' association isn't likely to seek free agency after one year in the league. They have to recognize that it would create even more instability in the league. And your expressed concern that non-elite teams would serve as farm teams for superior teams...well, that's hilarious, because 1) that already happens, it's just that every team is a "farm team" for the Redskins, who will overpay broken down players that have big names and 2) it's the goddamned NFL, there's no farm teams because there's a ludicrously small percentage of players in the league who play long enough to reach free agency.  Even those who do are usually priced well beyond their actual ability to contribute -- Albert Haynesworth is really the poster child of the Goodell-era NFL. I honestly can't think of a game-changing free agent that's changed teams since Deion Sanders in about 1995. Teams find contributors in free agency, they don't build teams that way.  VERDICT: not a realistic interpretation of the players' demands or likely outcomes.

No league-wide rule limiting the length of training camp or required off-season workout obligations. Yep, that's what not having a CBA means. This doesn't mean anything to fans. And, under your jeremiad scenario, all the players are free to sign wherever they want, and I doubt that Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Steve Smith, DeMarcus Ware and Jared Allen are all going to sign with the New York Giants when they find out that they have an 8 month offseason training camp with 2-a-days all year. So owners would have to be reasonable or else they'd be shooting themselves in the foot anyway. That tends to lead to equilibrium and agreement. VERDICT: not of relevance to fans, not realistic.

No league-wide testing program for drugs of abuse or performance enhancing substances. This matters to baseball fans. This means absolutely nothing to NFL fans. Your league is roided to high heaven to begin with, your testing program has caught about two players in history (I can recall two that actually stayed suspended-- Todd Sauerbrun's steroid-laden punting foot and Shawne Merriman), both of whom have suffered the backlash of...fans not giving a damn. Pat and Kevin Williams got suspended, I don't think they've served their suspensions and it's been years.) VERDICT: not of relevance to fans.

So, do I want the NFL you predict? You know what? I'd be just fine with it. If your owners had any sense, they wouldn't pay what they do for free agents, so having a free-for-all whereby everyone bids $200 million for Albert Haynesworth and actually guarantees $2 million of it would be awesome. Operating outside a CBA (which is not going to happen) will potentially hurt marginal players, but they're basically unprotected under the current ludicrously owner-fellating regime, so it wouldn't make much difference. And, at the end of the day, all of the predictions you summon are entirely of your own creation. The players have never taken a hard bargain with you on anything except the 18 game schedule and occasionally the franchise tag. You could have easily gotten a salary cap that increased incrementally and not had to cough up more revenue. You chose to blow up the contract. I hope to heaven that it destroys your league's stranglehold on the United States, but at the very minimum, it ought to result in the players in your league ending its at-will employment policy. Employers who hire and fire at will don't usually add the insult of putting it in a contract that makes it look like you have a job.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So I'm listening to Joe Posnanski's Poscast (with Michael Schur -- Cousin Mose/creator of the ludicrously overrated Parks and Recreation), this week they're doing a Baseball Book Fantasy Draft. I'd been holding off on listening to it, because it seemed like a really fun idea. I'm pretty disappointed thus far, but the thing that was most annoying is familiar to people who know me.

With the first pick, unsurprisingly, Michael Schur picks Moneyball -- the single most overrated book in the history of hyperbolous statements. While I understand the many reasons why Moneyball is wrongly criticized by baseball purists, it's a ludicrously overrated book that has become more overrated as Billy Beane's career arc has continued. People still read it as genius and laud praise on Billy Beane.

Posnanski is now guilty as an accomplice of dismissing the best criticism -- which is that the A's success was really about Hudson, Mulder, and Zito more than it ever was about on-base percentage or Billy Beane's "genius". But the numbers don't lie. The A's on-base percentage was never near the top of the league when they were good, and stripping it to "seeking undervalued commodities in a market" is effectively stripping the book to an idea that is absurd. Every GM is seeking undervalued commodities, some of them are just really dumb.

Anyway, I'd put together a much longer screed on this subject in response to Schur's paean to Jeremy Brown "retiring for personal reasons" on fire joe morgan.

It even elicited a response from him, which was "Well, I dish it out, so I can take it.  I would add that (1) surprise-bunting for a GW single is a lot different from the kind of 1st-inning sac bunting that Beane eschews, and (2) DePo was run out of L.A. by idiot beat writers who didn't like his personality.  Dodger fans sure like Brad Penny, though, and they sure don't miss Adrian Beltre, and they like Derek Lowe, and they sure don't miss Paul Lo Duca or Juan Encarnacion...and they sure as hell hate Ned Colletti and Grady Little.  DePo was a douchey guy, apparently, but he made some great moves for that team.


So I stand by my criticisms. Moneyball is an interesting book, but if you really tried to run a team by the principles it presents, you would have a team that bears literally no resemblance to any of Billy Beane's teams, which were driven by steroids (Giambi, Tejada) consensus high-value pitching (Zito (9th overall pick) and Mulder (2nd overall pick), and players drafted by (surprise) someone else -- Giambi (drafted by Alderson in 1992), Tim Hudson (6th round pick drafted by Alderson in 1997), and Eric Chavez (1st round pick drafted by Alderson in 1996 - 10th overall). Other than the consensus high picks, Beane's drafts resulted in...five players with greater than 10 WAR: Joe Blanton, Eric Byrnes, Rich Harden, Nick Swisher, and Andre Ethier (who he gave away for Milton Bradley). Lest that still sound adequate (it sure beats Mark Shapiro's drafting in that span), keep in mind that at the time Moneyball was published in 2003, only Harden and Byrnes had made the majors, let alone achieved "greatness".

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thought from Nationals Park #2

Rick Ankiel is one of the most underappreciated stories in baseball.
He was a phenom, a dynamite pitcher who looked like he'd win 20 for
years, but then became worthless and couldn't hit the broad side of a

And then, relying on a skill he'd barely had to use and had no reason
to rely on, he still was good enough to make it as a hitter.

He's not great, far from it, he's a player whose reputation outstrips
his actual talent, but in the absence of a complete meltdown, the
guy's a pitcher. HGH or not, that's pretty remarkable.

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Thought from Nationals Park

If there's a sadder phrase than "pinch hitter Alex Cora", I've
certainly never heard it.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Welcome back, FJM!

Rather than start a blog called Fire Howard Bryant, I'm going to point out some of the myriad problems with this article. It is only that I feel comfortable that my blog will not generate more than three or four hits on this piece of garbage that I can do so in good conscience. (In true FJM style, his words are in italics, mine are not.)

Barry Bonds, baseball's all-time home run leader and from 2000 to 2004 easily the most dominant player since Babe Ruth, will wake up Thursday as a convicted felon.

Or a cockroach, if Kafka was onto something. Maybe even a porpoise. That'd be totally cool.

A San Franciso [sic] jury convicted him of obstruction of justice.

If only they'd been given rice-a-roni.  It was not a San Francisco jury.  He was tried in the Northern District of California, so that means there were people in the jury panel from Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Salinas, Oakland, Eureka, San Jose.  But, obviously, the jury's potential residence in a large city makes it very different. If this were one of those god-forsaken Petaluma juries, they'd just be off their rocker and Bonds would be an untainted legend of the game.

Roger Clemens, arguably the game's greatest pitcher, faces the possibility of a similar fate.

I think if you argue that Clemens is the game's greatest pitcher, you are arguably an idiot, but fine, he was a great pitcher. 

Seven times a Cy Young Award winner, Clemens will go on trial this summer for lying to Congress.

Once, twice, three times a Cy Young winner...uh...this sentence has been brought to you by the Commodores.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I've missed this season.

It's kind of remarkable how out of the loop actually going to games
has left me. I've managed to see two total, when if I'd gone to no
games (and had been at home), I'd probably be up to at least six.

In the meantime, the Orioles are 3-0, the Rays (who the O's swept) are
0-3, the Red Sox are 0-3. I'm now waiting for the light rail at BWI,
so I'll surely be witnessing the end of this streak against the

The Reds managed to sweep the team that was supposed to surpass them,
even though the Reds started someone with mono in game 3 and trailed
by 3 in the ninth in Game 1.

Chicago was interesting enough, we covered a lot of ground, saw some
friends, and managed to not blow through much money -- which is of
some significance at the moment. I got back this morning and began
this circuitous journey. Since the game is during the day and during
the week in Baltimore, parking would be a nightmare (my standby garage
that's normally $10 is $26, I think?). Plus, I've already had my car
parked at BWI for over 72 hours, so I'm paying for four days anyway.
So I had to take a 4:40 am train to Midway, fly to Baltimore, take the
shuttle bus to the daily parking garage to drop off my luggage, take
the next shuttle bus back to the terminal, then walk the length of the
terminal to the light rail (since I've never taken it before and had
no idea where it was -- and was about take the other regional rail).
After the game ends (at rush hour, conveniently enough), I'll have to
take the train back and then drive to DC.

Let's just say I'm really committed to seeing a game I'm marginally
interested in seeing.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Live from the Friendly Confines...

Wrigley Field is no Fenway Park. It's a wonderful place, mind you, but
it doesn't generate the sheer stadium envy that Fenway did.

Admittedly, the 50-55 degree temperature difference between when I was
at Fenway (last July 3-4, both days checked in north of 90, but were
comfortable at Fenway) may have made part of the difference, but
there's a lot that's lost by having the bleachers separate from the

It's somehow even colder than yesterday's foray to Nationals Park and
the rain seems to pose more of a threat to the game (though for a
second day in a row, I'm inadvertently under cover).

We'll see how the game goes. It's about as dull an affair as you can
muster with Dempster going against Kevin Correia. It's the kind of
game that makes you grateful to have the legendary Fausto Carmona on
your club.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Marathon curse

Well, last year, I had several issues --

1) what to eat? (Didn't matter, definitely had digestive issues even
before the race)

2) Which shoes? I went with the older new balances, they were probably
a good choice.

3) Knee brace or not? I'd started having knee pain a week before the
marathon. I used it, it was a good choice, so much so that I was
half-tempted to keep using it even after my knee was fine.

This year, they've added logistical stress (the metro opens an hour
before the race starts -- not nearly enough time to get there and even
think of stretching or using a nasty ass runners' portapotty. And

1) What to wear? It's going to be cold, but every time I decide I'm
going with something, the forecast changes. I was planning on pants
and long sleeves since it was supposed to be 34, wind chill of 29. Now
it's supposed to be 39. Ugh. Shorts, I guess? I've done that before
(at least for a drizzly awful half)

2) Shoes? The stress fracture has me concerned, though even that
doesn't actually give me an answer, since it's split whether it's worn
out shoes that are worse or newer shoes (in this case, shoes that
haven't ever been worn off the treadmill). I'm going newer, there's
some rough terrain on this course.

3) What kind of pace can I handle? This I'll never know. Most
legitimate runners can tell their speed, they know their pace, what it
feels like. I run on treadmills all the time, I have no clue. I don't
know how fast I'm going, I don't know whether that corresponds to how
winded/tired I get (it usually doesn't, unless I'm trying for real
speed -- 5ks under about 19:40, 6 minute miles, etc.)

4) Can I go from crippled to marathon in three months? I damn well
better. Otherwise, tomorrow's going to be a long stroll in Anacostia,
because I know I can go 18 miles.

These things aren't rational, I know that. But it's a rare opportunity
to learn things about yourself. And it's a rare chance to really
prove things to myself. Let's just hope I prove myself right.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Well, let's just say it's not a bestseller.

So I bought The Baseball Project's new album, vol. 2: High and Inside today on amazon mp3. I'd gotten their first album from the Bear Public Library and found it was pretty much ideally suited for me, with a couple songs that were among my favorites because they mixed good melodies with lyrics that were both witty and informed like, for instance, Harvey Haddix, which includes the name of every pitcher who's ever thrown a perfect game and included more than a dose of baseball trivia (like, for instance, mentioning the origins of Yo La Tengo, Denny McLain, and Minnie Minoso in a song.

So it's clearly aimed at me.

Perhaps with more laser-guided precision than I anticipated, though. I bought it on amazon mp3, and amazon was so helpful as to tell me "Customers who bought this music also bought:" and three of the seven things identified were things that I owned. Now, given that Peter Buck is in The Baseball Project, it would only make sense that it'd be R.E.M. albums, etc. Hell, Ben Gibbard and Craig Finn guest on the album, so obviously Death Cab for Cutie and The Hold Steady will be on the short list.


1) Old 97's: The Grand Theater, volume 1

Ok -- well, clearly the person who bought both these just bought everything that had a volume number on it. I expect that World Book Encyclopedia, volume "L" will be next.

2) Mumford and Sons - Dharohar Project

Ok, given that Mumford and Sons would be playing in my own personal Abu Ghraib prison, I think this "same word appears in both things" might be the key here. The word project appears in both. Alan Parsons, you're next.

3) The King is Dead - The Decemberists

Well, that is actually the last thing I bought from amazon mp3. Odd. The two will not be appearing on the same pandora radio station ever, but fair enough, they're both hyper-literate dork music.

4) The Old 97's - Mimeograph (EP)

Uh, really? So, of the 7 things listed, I own 3 and bought all of them from amazon mp3, and I doubt that two of them sold more than say, 500 copies.

5) Blessed - Lucinda Williams

Yeah, so in other words, no one has ever bought this before.

6) Going Out in Style - Dropkick Murphys

This one makes a modicum of sense, they're uber-Boston-y, I've read that this album is very Red Sox heavy.

7) Bella - Teddy Thompson

I don't know who this is.

How Terry Cashman didn't appear on this list is beyond me. But I suppose I bought "One Stop Along the Way (the Ballad of Johnny Bench)" from ITunes. So that must be why.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Stamford died this morning. I know it's for the best, but I miss my friend, even in his worst state. I just wish I had his ability to take an awful situation and find positives in it. He lived more than 15% of his life shut in our bathroom because he couldn't control his back half and use the litter box, but up until Sunday, if I went in, he would 1) make a spirited effort to escape and then 2) start purring as if there wasn't a happier cat in the world.

There was so much wrong with the whole process. I'm furious with the veterinarian's office, who failed to give us test results last week when they were supposed to, failed to respond to six phone calls and two emails trying to get them this week, and then when I just drove in person to confront them (and took Stamford with, knowing that at this point, it made no difference what the results were), they assured me someone had called Sarah's phone on Tuesday and left a message. That message? That there was a problem with the blood work and they needed to draw blood again. So despite the purpose of this test being to ensure there wasn't a non-FIP cause, something that could be eliminated (if not reversed), they allowed his condition to get exponentially worse so that even if they found he was just absolutely laden with parasites, I'd have had a hard time not going forward.

Not only did they not call with the "we screwed up" news, but then today, they took him away to sedate him and put in the catheter and it took so long that by the time he got back to us, we think he had already died from the sedative alone. We don't know for certain, but either way, it's just frustrating. They sent in a vet tech to tell us he was very riled up and that's why it was taking so long -- but he hasn't been riled up in days -- and if he were, I'm not sure how you'd tell, given that he had no use at all of the back half of his body and wasn't particularly strong with the front end anymore. Each night this week, I felt like there was at least a 50-50 chance he wouldn't live through the night -- and had reached the point that I sincerely hoped he wouldn't, so he could end his suffering without me having to be the one responsible for his death.

The other cats weren't upset with me when I got home -- I expected them to find the return of the empty carrier concerning, but they seemed more concerned for me. Now, I wonder if Stubbs expects to see his brother, as he's spent all day and night in the window looking out, but it may just be that the weather is nice.

I know this is going to be hard for me, I'm not particularly gifted at dealing with anything sad, but I think the saddest thing for me is that I don't know of anything that shows that we had Stamford. Now that I've cleaned the bathroom, it's like he never existed. There's nothing left of Stamford's short life but a Christmas stocking, a white towel that got put in his carrier after one of his vet visits (because he'd peed in the carrier on the way over there), and precious few pictures (the result of me being lazy and never having reason to know it'd be over so quick). I don't know why it matters, I certainly am not going to forget him, but it upsets me.

I now promise to move on to posting vapid shit in the near future to satisfy the whims of all 10 people who ever stumble across this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's ending soon.

Stamford is going to die by no later than Friday. Just typing that kills me, but it's true -- my most fervent wish is that he'll die sometime in the next day or two so I won't have to play a part in it, but I know it will come to that. When we got back from New York (by way of Delaware, where we moved the last of my possessions from my apartment of five years into storage), he'd lost all remaining use of his back legs and couldn't even balance to stand up. This morning he was having trouble even propping his front end up.  He's fought for a long time, far longer than anyone thought he could, but it would require a miraculous and lengthy history of wanton malpractice to save him now (meaning that the vet would have to notice that they'd just missed something in test after test after test and he'd been completely curable with a shot or a pill all along).  Having called around to pet cemeteries, it doesn't seem I can bury him for under $3,000. (This only adds to the frustration we've experienced on the house search -- we put an offer in a week ago that was over asking price and didn't even get a call back to tell us it was rejected for another offer.)

So I'm not sure what to do. I don't believe in cremation. I think the idea is absolutely awful and I recoil at the thought, but I also have no place to bury him and even I can't justify spending $3,000 for such a place just because of my irrational fear of cremation (this should be noted by anyone ever making funeral arrangements for me -- although I respect that my first choice -- being placed in a glass tube like Lenin -- is probably out of the question for me, cremation ought not appear in your playbook). Part of me wonders if I could just go deep into Rock Creek Park and find someplace, but I have no doubt I'd manage to compound my current miseries by getting arrested for doing so.  So I'm out of ideas and can barely hold it together to get through the week anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lists: Sporting Venues

The end of March can't come soon enough. March has been a month of missed opportunities and general frustrations.  Plus, the end of March means baseball, which is a major plus. I have tickets to the Opening Day game in Washington on March 31, then the next morning I'm flying to Chicago to go to Wrigley Field on Opening Day, and then Monday I'm flying back into BWI, which puts me in Baltimore in time for the Orioles' home opener on April 4. So, in all, three games in five days in three cities. Admittedly, I've done this before -- in 2008, I was at the first ever game at Nationals Park, then saw the Nationals playing in Philadelphia the next day and then went to the Orioles' second game the next day, but this crosses another stadium off the list in Wrigley Field.

I don't know whether I'll get to all 30, but it's definitely something I keep in mind when I make travel plans. I'm actually more alarmed at the number of non-MLB venues that I've made it to, considering that my level of interest is so emphatically lower. Hell, I've been to two MLS stadiums.  So here's the list, with the disclaimer that I only count a venue at which I've seen the home team playing a game (for instance, although I've attended concerts and Wizards games at the Verizon Center, I've not seen the Caps, so for NHL purposes, I've never been there). I'm organizing them in order of frequency of attendance.

Thus far:
Philadelphia - Citizens Bank Park (more than 40)
Washington - Nationals Ballpark (about 10?)
Cleveland - Progressive Field (5)
Kansas City - Kauffman Stadium (probably about 5)
Boston - Fenway Park (2)
Cincinnati - Great American Ballpark (2)
Colorado - Coors Field (1)*
New York Mets - Citi Field (1)
New York Yankees - Yankee Stadium (new) (1)
Pittsburgh - PNC Park (1)
Detroit - Comerica Park (1) (added 6/30)
Chicago - Wrigley Field (1) (added 4/1)
Toronto - Rogers Centre (1) (added 7/1)

Former MLB:
Cincinnati - Riverfront (12?)
Washington - RFK (1)

Philadelphia - PPL Park (2)
New York - Red Bull Stadium (1)
Washington - RFK Stadium (1) (added 6/11)

Philadelphia - Wells Fargo Center (probably about 10)
Washington - Verizon Center (2)
Denver - Pepsi Center (1)


Baltimore - M&T Bank Stadium (1)
Cincinnati - Paul Brown Stadium (1)

Philadelphia - Wells Fargo Center (at least 5, probably more)
Buffalo - HSBC Arena (1)
Colorado - Pepsi Center (1)
Columbus - Nationwide Arena (1)
Los Angeles - Staples Center (1)
Washington - Verizon Center (1) (added in April)

Chelsea - Stamford Bridge (1)
Fulham - Craven Cottage (1)

Coors Field gets asterisked because it was pouring rain and we only stayed for a couple of innings (the game was ultimately rained out after 6, it ought never have started, if I'm willing to leave a game because of weather, it's safe to say you are not experiencing conditions in which a sporting event should not be played).

Favorite sporting venue (venue itself): Fenway Park. It's the kind of stadium in which baseball should be played. Yes, there are obstructed views left and right, but it's intimate, it's ramshackle, and it's charming. It's the antithesis of Yankee Stadium, which is my least favorite sporting venue (and not by a small margin).
Favorite sporting venue (culinary): Progressive Field wins. The food is actually nothing special, Cleveland doesn't exactly have a local cuisine that begs for a prominent role at the ballpark. But they have two things no ballpark should be without -- brown mustard and quality local beers. And it just happens that Cleveland has Great Lakes Brewing Company beer in the center field batter's eye pavilion, which is my favorite. So long as you're there at midseason, everything is at its best (my experiences with the opening day cooking were underwhelming). (Rogers Centre wins some major points for their BBQ Chicken nachos and Alexander Keith's, though the absence of any other Canadian beers is disappointing).
Favorite sporting venue (gameday experience): I love PPL park. You can tailgate right outside the stadium, the food and the beer selections inside are astonishing, the only bad seats are those that are reserved for the Sons of Ben anyway, so you're safe with anything else.

I'm not sure what my next stop is as far as stadiums that I really want to see. I should make it to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks or Rangers game someday, but after Wrigley, Dodger Stadium is really the only other stadium I think of as a must-see. If I were an NFL fan, obviously Lambeau Field would top the list, but football stadiums lack any sort of significance, they're just functional.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Jimmer Fredette insists he has been suspended from BYU basketball team

PROVO - As reports circulated that Brandon Davies had been suspended from Brigham Young's basketball program for having premarital sex with his girlfriend, NCAA scoring leader and BYU guard Jimmer Fredette insisted that he, too, was facing any number of potential suspensions and would likely be kicked off BYU's team and stricken from its record books.

"I'm not proud of what I've done, but with my brother Brandon suspended for his disregard for the moral code, I would be a hypocrite if I continued to play for BYU," Fredette said, adding "I can't go into detail, but I have indulged in a great many suspendable offenses."

BYU's honor code requires that students must remain "chaste and virtuous."  When pressed for details on how he failed to live up to this honor code, Fredette hesitated.

"Obviously, I'm extremely embarrassed to let my teammates down and we all make mistakes, so I don't know if I should say anything. It was, I mean...they...they were all pretty hot.  You know how, uh, when you grab a woman's breast... it feels like... a bag of sand?" Fredette added.

Fredette was quick to add that he was embarrassed about his numerous offenses, but could hardly be blamed, because he'd fallen under the influence of a hard lifestyle.

"All the women, they were really hot.  But I can barely remember it, because I had drank so much.  I was drinking a case of O'Doul's like every night.  And I was, uh, mixing vodka in with my Caprisun.  Sometimes it's hard though, it's hard to get the straw in the pouch when you're so hammered," Fredette insisted.

Despite Fredette's insistence that he faces myriad disciplinary actions, BYU has not announced any suspensions for Fredette.  Indeed, BYU basketball coach Dave Rose denied that Fredette faced any suspension.

"Everybody who comes to BYU, every student if they're an athlete or not an athlete, they make a commitment when they come.  A lot of people try to judge if this is right or wrong, but it's a commitment they make. It's not about right or wrong. It's about commitment. Jimmer's shown that commitment.  He's a model player and a role model, I haven't even seen him look at a can of Coke in his four years here. And girls? Whee golly. Let's just say it's a good thing he's scoring a lot on the court," Rose said.

Rose expected no disciplinary action would be needed toward Fredette.

"And he calls himself Jimmer. He's got a real name, a name that's at least pubescent, and he calls himself Jimmer. Yeah, I think if the NCAA would allow it, he'd be able to play for BYU for another decade or more," Rose said.

KU forward reinstated after triple murder

In other college basketball news, University of Kansas forward Blake Cole was reinstated to the team after Coach Bill Self concluded that the triple murder to which Cole confessed Thursday did not violate KU's honor code for athletes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

MLB allows Red Sox a 41-man roster

Well, try as I might, I just cannot see how this is an acceptable contract under Major League Baseball league rules. Andrew Miller, the once-promising Tigers prospect who flamed out in Florida, has signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox. He could have gotten major league contracts from the Pirates and Indians of the world, but he's with the Red Sox.

That's something baseball can't fix. People will take less to win, just the same as the Heat loaded up on decent veteran players who decided to take 50% or greater pay cuts to play with Wade/James/Bosh.

Miller's contract, on the other hand, is not the same thing.  But the contract he has with the Red Sox is egregious and unfair to the game.  If the Red Sox put him on the major league roster, he gets $1.3 million.  Fair enough. If he then gets sent to the minors, because he can no longer be optioned, he would have to be designated for assignment and, therefore, made available to all teams.  But in this case, it's different. If he gets DFA'd and someone claims him, he has an option for $3 million that vests for 2012.  In other words, the Red Sox have a ready-made 41-man roster, because they can take him off the 40-man at will, so long as no one feels interested in paying $3 million for a player the Red Sox deemed unworthy of playing in the majors.

That MLB allows this kind of provision defeats the entire purpose of being designated for assignment.  The 40-man roster is supposed to make it so that teams like the Red Sox will occasionally have to lose off 26th men that might prove to be solid roster pieces -- or even starters -- for lesser clubs.  Instead, it will just make the rich richer -- players will sign these poison pill contracts with the teams they don't want to leave -- the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Phillies -- but the Indians? No way.  Bud Selig needs to exercise his authority to act in the best interests of baseball and void the contract.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life in DC

Today is actually a weird day for me. I'm not used to having spare time, I've had none of it since I moved here, really. I'm in my office for at least 12 hours every day (admittedly, since it has a gym, I'm not always working 12 hours -- or, more typically, I am working 12 hours, but some of those are at home), commuting takes at least another hour, cooking and buying groceries have taken a lot of time. I've had to trek to and from my old apartment with considerable regularity, my first weekend here was spent at the DMV, etc.

But now my wife is gone to Iowa, I don't have much work to do (and am not motivated enough to do it now), and I lack the motivation to hike down to Georgetown to see Cedar Rapids, since 1) it's not worth driving because it's only a mile or so, 2) I don't want to deal with the ludicrous winds by walking, and 3) I just have a hard time going to movies or any non-sporting events that actually have a set time. I have a very DVR attitude toward things, if they can't be done on my schedule, then it's not worth me going, even when my schedule could have accommodated going to the movies at any of the five times it was playing today. I would still have had to make that decision, and I make decisions for a living. I don't do that in my spare time. And, of course, since I now had a weekend to spend at the Verizon Center without feeling guilty at all, it's Disney Princesses on Ice all weekend. Every weekend this month, the Wizards are home. The one weekend I know I can go? Disney Princesses on Ice. Two shows today. Given that my life's goal list starts and ends with "don't appear on a sex offender registry", I figured I'd sit that one out.

Not much new

My wife tried to get Stamford into the Iowa State vet clinic, since she got invited to be a guest lecturer in Iowa and was flying out anyway. He might have been able to go so they could see what they could find out, but his vet's office never called Iowa State. I'm not terribly optimistic there is anything that can be done, but I am frustrated that an entire office of 10+ veterinarians couldn't pick up the phone on an urgent matter that may be life and death.

He's pretty much stopped eating, though, admittedly, it's hard to tell. He was never a big eater and it's hard to track the dining habits of three cats -- the other two were easy to tell, since they are both fat. That makes it easier. But we're now giving him the cat supplemental milk for kittens who were weaned too early. He clearly likes the taste of it, but he still has to be force-fed. It makes me feel bad to have to do it, to impose my will on a creature who's giving up on survival and actually has the mental focus to just not eat, but part of me still has a shred of hope. He's seen so many veterinarians (these aren't as second opinions, I'm not vet shopping, he's just had to go to vets in two locales and to two different 7-day 24-hour veterinary ERs, but once he tested positive for the feline coronavirus, every veterinarian just determines that anything that's wrong with him is FIP. Every symptom in the world except good health is a symptom of FIP, and in fact, good health is a symptom of it too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This is a hard time.

So Stamford (the kitten with a vast array of health problems) has been defecating and urinating outside his box for a couple of weeks now. His vet just said it was probably a stress reaction to having a new cat in a very confined area (when I moved, I brought my cat to join the two kittens, who'd already had to live with him for considerable periods of time, but with more rooms and opportunities to separate themselves in my apartment). So, after he continued to get worse and worse about it, we got him cat prozac -- which is, apparently, human prozac, but it's mixed to supposedly taste like salmon.

Well, last night, I found out it was likely all in vain. I took him to the ER at an all-night veterinary hospital because he's having issues with his back legs. He doesn't look balanced, he has had increasing difficulty jumping, and the one time I saw him go to the bathroom in the living room (not in his box), he was just walking along, and all of a sudden, it was like his back end just twisted.  I didn't even realize he'd pooped, but my wife could smell it immediately. It was like he didn't even know what he was doing.

The bad news is that it seems that he doesn't. He has no idea.  Given his feline coronavirus and the wildly varying symptoms of FIP, the veterinarian thinks that he's experiencing primary FIP infection and it's causing neurological symptoms, which have explained the progression in his loss of ability to use his back legs.  In short, she thinks he's going to die in the very near future.

I've spent thousands trying to keep him alive.  It has really been more than $2,000 at this point with all the vet bills. Most people would be glad to have it end, no more wiping up urine every time I need to use the bathroom, no more trying to squeeze in trips to the vet in between 14 hour work days. Not me. I just want my friend. And that, apparently, is what I can't have.

Monday, February 14, 2011

50 book challenge

Back when I was on livejournal, in those distant distant past days, my friend Ryan got me intrigued at the so-called 50 book challenge, wherein people read (unsurprisingly) 50 books in the span of a year. At the time, I'm sure I'd read somewhere between one and five books the prior year, since I was prone to just starting tons of books and never finishing any of them. Since it became a quasi-competitive thing, I've had no such problem. This year, even though I no longer regard it as a particular challenge, it's going to be much more of an uphill climb. Moving, starting a new job that involves far more work, certain other complications (the subject of which will be clearly revealed when you see the books I've finished) and the time that it takes just because I actually see my wife have all limited my reading. So I'm at a mere 5 books for the year, though I feel as if I'm simply forgotten something that I read.

January (3)
Black and Blue: How Racism, Drugs and Cancer Almost Destroyed Me by Paul Canoville
Home Buying For Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
Tips and Traps When Buying a Home by Robert Irwin

February (3)
Mortgages for Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown
The Damned United by David Peace
The Quitter by Harvey Pekar

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chief Wahoo's Trail of Tears has updated!

Yes, this was the blog I was actually intent on keeping current, so much so that I sponsored some baseball-reference.com pages. Then I got busy and the Indians did not. Whoops. Anyway, here's the link.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Accurate Perception Syndrome

So I'm trying to get a psychological disorder that I've discovered (and named after myself, of course) into DSM-V when it comes out. DSM-IV launched Asperger's, autism, and ADHD into the realm of super popular diseases. I think I should do the same for cynicism.

TK's Disease or Accurate Perception Syndrome is a crippling psychological disorder that is associated with a bleak worldview and the belief that whatever foods will help keep you from becoming obese will ultimately give you cancer, and those things that don't give you cancer will give you heart disease or an increased likelihood of being hit by a bus or shot by a tea party activist. It, like life, is invariably fatal.

Bill Belichick Summoned to Roger Goodell's Office to Explain Academy Award Nominations

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reportedly requested a face-to-face meeting with Bill Belichick after his film NYJ Walkthrough 12/3/10 received 3 nominations for Academy Awards last week.  

NYJ Walkthrough 12/3/10, a 98 minute film of a final walkthrough of a game plan by New York Jets players and staff, which received nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor, has garnered near-universal acclaim in the cinematic community as a visceral portrayal of futility and despair.  The film, which was shot from the stands at the Jets' practice facility, was rumored to be intended for Belichick's personal game preparation, but has instead become a dark horse to triumph in the Best Picture category over films like The Black Swan and The King's Speech.

Belichick has denied comment on the film, stating only "I have not seen the film, i had no role in its making, and I was operating under the belief that the NFL permitted the conduct that the Academy suggest I played some role in. I would decline any Academy Awards that were given to me."

Heralded cinematographer and fellow nominee Roger Deakins (True Grit) rejected Belichick's response as false modesty.

"I've seen few videos that so captured the grace of Right Red 42 and the weaknesses in D'Brickashaw Ferguson's ability to pick up a right end stunt. It was moving. The gravitas of it all was so much that it looked like the Jets could barely even get the ball moving. It was as if Belichick's film just had a paralyzing effect on them, like the Patriots saw everything coming and the Jets saw the futility of the game," Deakins said.

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper was among the critics who lauded Walkthrough's single-hidden-camera framing. 

"The single-camera shot is relentless.  It takes the intensity of Hitchcock's Rope and says 'listen, if you're going to have nothing but 8 minute shots, we're going to have a single shot that bears down on the same spot on the field for 98 minutes.'  And the eerily silent soundtrack really harkens back to Von Stroheim," Roeper said.

LaDainian Tomlinson was alarmed to hear of his nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an aging, broken-down running back refusing to concede the inevitable.

"I'd like to thank the Academy, but that's a bunch of shit," Tomlinson said. "I'm as fast as I ever was."

Uncredited executive producer Rex Ryan claimed full credit for releasing the films to theaters in New York and LA against Belichick's wishes.

Ryan said, "I knew this could really appeal to the [expletive deleted] public. I mean, millions of [expletive deleted] people watched the  [expletive deleted] Pro [expletive deleted] Bowl. Football sells."

Former Browns and Jets Coach Eric Mangini agreed that the film was worthy of Roger Goodell's attention, but believed the meeting would do nothing to allay Belichick's cinematic career.

"Of course [Goodell]'s calling Belichick in, he probably wants to congratulate him. I mean, this is Roger Goodell, and it's not like Belichick celebrated a touchdown. He'll be fine," Mangini said.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fun with homonyms

Listen, the hair is bad. I will grant you that. But this is a mockery. In competition with Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady is named NFL Offensive Player of the Year.  Not even close. He's nowhere near as offensive as they are.

There may be posts in the pipeline, but the move has sapped me of my strength and the solitude that led me to post things in the first place. We'll see. Things that might be discussed: my response to the Academy Award nominations (which I started a week ago), why fantasy sports no longer hold any appeal to me (I certainly haven't grown up), my top Onion Articles, and my top songs and albums for years from 1960-2009 (it takes me a while to catch up, sorry).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thomas Wolfe was right.

Well, the point was that you can't go home again. But he also wrote "Look Homeward, Angel", so he's just a contradictory asshole, isn't he?

Anyway, for those who aren't attuned to the current course of events, I'm starting a new job next week and am going to have to move. On the plus side, I'm moving out of Delaware. On the down side, I HATE moving. Plus, I have a lot of things in this place that I don't know why I still have. Among the things I found was a box full of papers and things I wrote in high school. Rather than belabor the truly astonishingly level of pathetic that was unearthed among the dozen partly-written screenplays and notes from people I don't even remember, I will share something that, judging by my handwriting, was written in high school. That said, I don't ever remember writing it and still find it amusing. Actually, to clarify, I'm not sure whether I find it funny or whether I find the fact that at some point I felt it necessary to pen it funny.

So I present to you:
God's Hood - The Ten Commandments
1. Thou shalt not be frontin' wit me, cause I am yo God! Thou shalt not be givin' the coin to nobody but me.
2. Thou shalt honor yo mama and yo daddy, as if you even knew him, cuz you a bastard.
3. Thou shalt check thyself before thy wreck thyself.
4. Thou shalt be sharin' hits from da bong with yo tokin' brothas.
5. Thou shalt be lovin' thy day off from bustin' caps.
6. Don't be wastin' thy brothas, bitch.
7. Thou shalt not be jackin' things from yo brotha's crib.
8. Thou shalt not be ballin' some other man's wife bitch; ice the brotha first.
9. Thou shalt not be covetin' no goods, even if yo neighbor's an ol' dirty bastard.
10. Thou shalt not even be wantin' yo brotha's bitch, even though she be all over you, dude.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stream of consciousness

I've decided I'm going to try something new, which is to set my IPod on random and then let whatever song it picks cause me to write something in response for the period that the song is going on (if it goes longer, so be it).

The Ipod has decided this is going to be a challenge, because it picked Portishead - Silence. I don't know the song well, I believe I got it from a CD a friend of mine sent me along with The Go! Team and something else (possibly Camera Obscura).  Portishead strikes me as a band I'd really like to like, but like the Chemical Brothers before it, it's not something I can generally get into, although I should make considerably greater use of techno-ish music on runs.  The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" and Propellerheads' "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" were both on my marathon playlist if I recall correctly (I'm certain about the latter, which is the perfect marathon song since it's 9 minutes long). Portishead isn't prefect for such things, the harrowing sort of vocal line on this song isn't the kind of adrenaline and endorphin dump that I'm looking for, but the drum loops could carry the day by themselves.

Of course, IPod. Now you play "The Book I Write" by Spoon. Well, I managed to time the last one so I wrote for the exact duration of the song previous.  For this song, it's a much easier task.  Stranger Than Fiction (the soundtrack from which the song is taken) is one of my favorite movies, easily in the top 10 of the last decade for me and probably higher if I were to concoct such a list.  Considering the paucity of movies I've seen since I went to law school, this is hardly putting it in a pantheon, though I think it belongs there.  I suspect Stranger Than Fiction might have been the first movie I saw by myself in Delaware after moving here.  Immediately after seeing it, I went out and bought the soundtrack and have since bought a half dozen Spoon albums. Good choice, Ipod.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Report: McNabb at fault for another Eagles playoff defeat

As the seconds ticked away and put an end to the Green Bay Packers' upset victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs Sunday, Philadelphia sports fans blamed a familiar figure for the Eagles' failure: quarterback Donovan McNabb. Although fans disagreed in how directly McNabb was responsible for the defeat the directness of McNabb's responsibility for the defeat,they were uniformly in agreement that he was to blame.

Some fans, apparently confused by the on-field presence of a quarterback other than Kevin Kolb, accused McNabb of quarterbacking the Eagles to the defeat. "McNabb played horribly yesterday," said Frank Lawton, 39, a pipe-fitter from Bala Cynwyd, PA. "That interception at the end was classic McNabb. I think we all knew what was coming. He may have changed his number on the field, but he hasn't changed his losing attitude."

Some fans, while acknowledging that McNabb was nominally not a member of the Eagles, still found a way to blame McNabb for the defeat.

"Listen, when they traded McNabb, they got back a 2nd round pick. If McNabb had been any good, we could have gotten a real player in return, not just Nate Allen. Just imagine -- if McNabb had been any good, we could have drafted Eric Berry or even Tim Tebow," said Gary Logan, an HVAC salesman from West Chester, PA. "With a guy like that, we'd be in the Super Bowl."

Still others blamed McNabb's effect on the locker room as the reason for another disappointing season.

"McNabb's attitude was brought down the team. They got used to his attitude of losing and that's what keeps them failing in the playoffs year after year. No matter who's actually playing quarterback, every time they lose, you can see that McNabb look in their eyes," said Richard Graham, a talk show host on local sports radio station WPH.

Not even Michael Vick, the Eagles' quarterback who actually threw the game-sealing interception with 33 seconds left in the game, was immune to the contempt for the six-time Pro Bowler.

"Listen, I've always loved Donovan, he's a great guy and has been a good friend. But, man, I hate Donovan McNabb. That guy has let this team down so many times. And worst of all, I can't believe he killed all those dogs," Vick added.

While many Eagles fans blame McNabb, he is not without his supporters.

"McNabb? Who's that?" said Joseph Harris, a retiree from Pennsauken, New Jersey. "All I have to say is that Randall Cunningham was awful yesterday. They should get rid of that no-good bum."