Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Albums of 2007

Yahoo posted it's list today.

I own NONE of them.

I would consider buying three of them.

My "outsider status" remains intact.

Perhaps the greatest website ever created

Even if you are not a football (soccer) fan, you will find this sight irresistible:

http://hudsonia.blogspot.com/

Ray Hudson's enthusiasm for the sport and his creativity with the English language make me happy to be alive. Dick Vitale wishes he was Ray Hudson!

Thank you...

...that five figure check I deposited came to me as a result of the sale of my grandparent's house.

I will put it to the best use I can.

And I would give it back in an instant to have either or both of them back for even another day.

Funny?

The teller at my bank who usually can't be bothered to speak to me when I make a transaction suddenly had all the time in the world for me the other day when I deposited a five-figure check.

It was "Mr. This" and "Mr. That," "Happy Holidays, " and more.

What-EVER.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Oddsmaking Recap

A few days ago I made my first attempt at handicapping my potential Christmas presents- let's see how I did!
  • Outside Magazine subscription: 2/1
    • A good bet as it makes things easy for my brother in-law's brother.
I was pretty sure about this one, but I was wrong. I got an Amazon gift certificate instead, which I'll probably use...to renew my subscription.
  • Two tickets to a Red Sox game: 15/1
    • Not confident in this one, but if it happens, my sister will be behind it.
I'm going to count this one as "correct."
  • Digital Camera: 5/2
    • This is the most likely to be my "big gift" this year.
I definitely made the wrong call here.
  • Any of the IKEA items on my list: 50/1
    • Too expensive and too inconvenient to acquire. I'll drop the odds to 25/1 on the kitchen table/chairs or a gift card.
Not only was I correct, I got the reasoning right too!
  • Items from my Amazon wish list: 3/2
    • These are the cheap, "go to" gifts for those who can't come up with anything else.
I got a movie on my list.
  • Seinfeld/Family Guy/Simpson's seasons on DVD: 4/1
    • I should probably give higher odds on these, but somebody might come through.
I got season 3 of the Simpson's.
  • Duvet Cover: 2/1
    • Almost a lock, if Mom finds a bargain it will be a done deal.
Mom found a bargain.

  • Small Humidifier: 6/1
    • This would be so practical it would almost hurt my feelings so I'm going to have faith in my family and put a little longer odds on it than I probably should.
My family had no problem hurting my feelings.

  • Shoes from Zappos: 10/1
    • Even the lack of risk (free shipping/free return shipping) in getting the wrong size will not allay the fears of certain people in my family have of ordering online.
Correct again.

  • Wireless router for my iBook: 3/1
    • I could probably shorten the odds even more on this because my brother (the software engineer) will likely be able to acquire one at a criminally low price.
My brother actually paid full price for it!

  • House plant: 1/1
    • The time of year might work against this, but at worst, I'm sure I'll get a gift certificate for one.
Nope.

  • GPS unit for hiking: 25/1
    • Too many variables for some people to consider purchasing it.
Winner!

  • Step stool: 1/1
    • Inexpensive and practical- too hard to resist.
Surprisingly, not.

So, 9 correct, 4 incorrect. Not bad if I do say so myself! See you at birthday time!

Christmas Letters

(Keep in mind, as you read the following, I have sent no more than five Christmas cards total in the last decade, so it's not as though I'm encouraging these people.)

I can deal with getting Christmas cards from people I seldom/rarely/never see. For example, every year I a card from my sister in-law's father and step-mother. They are perfectly nice people, but I don't think I've seen them more than once since my brother got married three(?) years ago.

What I cannot deal with is getting Christmas cards which also include a "Christmas Letter," the one in which the author(s) fill you in on everything they've done in the past year. I think there are two primary reasons for this. First, if I had any interest in what they were doing during the year, I would stay in touch! Second, they always seem to be written- as one might logically expect- by people who have an overdeveloped sense of their importance and the importance of their endeavors.

The letter in question was written by the daughter of a man who taught with my father for many years. The two families have remained close, but at this point, I really only see them at weddings and funerals.

Here are just a few highlights:
  • The author refers to the celebrating of the "adoptiversary" of the mixed breed dog they took into their home this year.
  • The author has a "life coach."
  • The author and her husband take part in a weekly meditation group and spent a week on a "silent retreat."
  • The dog referred to above, "signed" the letter.
  • The letter closes with the following sentence: "May we all find safety and protection, health and strength, peace and happiness, and internal fulfillment and awakening through this season and throughout 2008, and may we send the same out to the rest of the planet."
Honestly...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Before today ends...

...I would like to say that it sucked. Hard.

That is all.

Something I wish I'd never seen

I just saw a film clip of the now 41 year old Sinead O'Connor- somebody whom I've always considered as beautiful a woman has ever lived- and let's just say the years have not been kind.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Chimps

Re: My previous post wondering what a group of chimpanzees should be called.

I don't know.

Monkeys come in a troop, cartload, tribe, barrel, band, pack, or tribe.

Gorillas come in a band.

Apes come in a shrewdness, band, or pack.

Baboons come in a congress, flange, pack, or tribe.

Monkeys fit in some of these groups and are lumped into others, but I can find no unique name for a group of them. Thus, I have chosen one.

Henceforth, a group of monkeys shall be referred to as a posse.

Books!

This evening, between about 8 and 10:30pm I read Steve Martin's new book My Life Standing Up. It was excellent. After reading it I started thinking about books, and specifically, difficult books. That is, books that have challenged me.

Setting aside books that I have had to read on a deadline (for a class I was taking or teaching), in which case I have been forced to muddle through, speed read, and employ various other "techniques"- whether I've actually understood everything I was reading or not- I could only come up with three books that have been difficult for me.*

The Pope's Rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk: I loved his first novel, Lemprière's Dictionary, and thus I began his second novel with great gusto- it promptly kicked my intellectual ass. Sure, the plot was complex and the vocabulary enormous, but that had not been a problem for me in the past- I did read and enjoy Charles Palliser's The Quincunx after all! Nevertheless, I'd guess that I tried to read this book four or five times before finishing it. In between it sat on my bookshelf quietly mocking me. In the end, I was triumphant, but did I enjoy the book? I really don't know...

If on a winter's night a traveler... by Italo Calvino: Such a small book. Again, it took numerous tries over numerous years to get through it. It got to the point that I carried it with me wherever I went in the hope that the right time and the right frame of mind my suddenly intersect and allow me to finish it and eventually that happened. I read it between classes while working on my M.A. I'm assuming that my academic work had my mind honed while at the same time, in need of some escape and I was able to finish it. In this case, I think I just "surrendered" to the book and worried about figuring out what it meant and how it worked after I finished it. It was fascinating, and when it was over, I didn't want it to be.

Which leads me to the third book...

The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco I'm a HUGE fan of Eco's novels The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, and Baudolino- not so much The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. By my recollection I bought this book while visiting my best friend in AZ in around 2001 or 2002 and like the books above, there were many attempts, much failure, and the quiet mockery. Last night I started my most recent attempt at it and I feel as though I may make it this time as I have resolved to read it with...and this is not easy for me...patience. Regardless of whether I succeed this time or not, it contains one of my favorite quotes of all time, "The first quality of an honest man is contempt for religion."

Indeed.


*Setting aside pretty much everything I had to read by David Hume for a class in graduate school. Tough stuff to be sure, but I think the biggest problem may have been my disgust with the professor's inability to teach leading me to become passive-aggressive about the material. My attitude was something like, "If you're not going to teach, I'm not going to learn." My only non-A in graduate school was in the is class. Somebody almost got punched...

Monday, December 17, 2007

I am living proof of this

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071218/sc_nm/chimps_math_dc

My guess is that I'd finish somewhere in the middle of the pack- or whatever the name is for a group of chimpanzees.

Big Red Bows

How offensive are the television ads (particularly those for Lexus) in which somebody gives a $30,000-$75,000 automobile as a Christmas gift?

And we wonder why people in "Third World" (and other) countries hate us? Sheesh! I'm tempted to take a long, hot bath in my marble tub with the diamond-encrusted solid gold faucet until I can stop thinking about it.

This is one reason that there will always be a part of me that is a little bit (or more) of a socialist.

Curses!

What should have been a glorious (and lucrative!) fantasy football season came to an end in the playoffs yesterday as the weather in the New England game and a broken leg prevented me from moving on to the finals next week!

That being said, I certainly had $10 worth of fun over the course of the season- it just would have been nicer to see that multiply into the first or second place share of the money.

Oh well, wait 'til next year!

Less than 10 days until Christmas!

Rather than posting my Christmas list (with pictures!) as I have done in the past, I thought I'd try something different this year and post my list and give odds on what I am most likely to receive.

How could I possibly be able to determine what I'm most likely to get? First, I know which ones are too expensive for anyone to get me, so those are out. Second, I know that there will be some that are purchased by my immediate family but given to me "from" people outside of my immediate family. Third, I know my family. They will not be able to stay away from giving me some of the practical things on my list- call it a combination of nature (our family's thrifty Scottish heritage) and nurture (self-reliant New England location). Fourth, and finally, only once in my life has my family (specifically my mom) truly surprised me with a Christmas gift. So, off we go!
  • Outside Magazine subscription: 2/1
    • A good bet as it makes things easy for my brother in-law's brother.
  • Two tickets to a Red Sox game: 15/1
    • Not confident in this one, but if it happens, my sister will be behind it.
  • Digital Camera: 5/2
    • This is the most likely to be my "big gift" this year.
  • Any of the IKEA items on my list: 50/1
    • Too expensive and too inconvenient to acquire. I'll drop the odds to 25/1 on the kitchen table/chairs or a gift card.
  • Items from my Amazon wish list: 3/2
    • These are the cheap, "go to" gifts for those who can't come up with anything else.
  • Seinfeld/Family Guy seasons on DVD: 4/1
    • I should probably give higher odds on these, but somebody might come through.
  • Duvet Cover: 2/1
    • Almost a lock, if Mom finds a bargain it will be a done deal.
  • Small Humidifier: 6/1
    • This would be so practical it would almost hurt my feelings so I'm going to have faith in my family and put a little longer odds on it than I probably should.
  • Shoes from Zappos: 10/1
    • Even the lack of risk (free shipping/free return shipping) in getting the wrong size will not allay the fears of certain people in my family have of ordering online.
  • Wireless router for my iBook: 3/1
    • I could probably shorten the odds even more on this because my brother (the software engineer) will likely be able to acquire one at a criminally low price.
  • House plant: 1/1
    • The time of year might work against this, but at worst, I'm sure I'll get a gift certificate for one.
  • GPS unit for hiking: 25/1
    • Too many variables for some people to consider purchasing it.
  • Step stool: 1/1
    • Inexpensive and practical- too hard to resist.
So there we have it! I'll be back in eight or nine days to see how I've done...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter!

I woke up to almost a foot of snow this morning and there's more on the way tomorrow night.

THIS is what winter is supposed to be like in New England.

Hopefully this is just the beginning!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My point is made

Abbot and Costello, er, Max Bretos and Christopher Sullivan, are the commentators on the Boca Juniors-Etoile Sahel match I'm watching. Christopher just said, "Here we see the repetition- ah, replay of..."

"Repetition?!" Seriously?!

If he wasn't American born and raised I'd think he learned his English from a textbook in English that was badly translated into a foreign language, then translated back into English, then plopped onto little Christopher's desk. He speaks like the surreal directions you read when putting together furniture produced in South Korea or Vietnam.

Or, maybe after years of work on television he's just now been introduced to this, "instant replay."

Oh, and Boca are wearing their traditional blue shirts with the wide, yellow, horizontal stripe, but with yellow shorts and socks. What? Why? It's not like there's a conflict with Etoile Sahel, they're wearing red from head to toe!

Sleepin' Late

I slept until 12:09pm today, something I haven't done in a long, long time- and trust me, I was once known for sleeping until mid-afternoon day after day after day.

At first, I was a little annoyed that I'd "slept for half the day," but then I realized that this was something crabby old people say, but, I also realized that I can't remember the last time I felt quite this rested.

I may go for two in a row tomorrow. I though, I suppose, two of anything can only be in a row, can't they?

Monday, December 10, 2007

My So-called Life

I should not be this happy about squeaking out a 2 point win in my fantasy football league.

Nor should I have been so anxious while doing so.

That being said, I'm now 11-3 and in no worse than second place (which means I'm a lock for the playoffs).

Should things continue to go well I could see a $30-90 payoff in the end- not bad for a $10 investment.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Two Observations on the "Princess Bride"

1. Has any woman ever looked more beautiful than Robin Wright does in this movie? Say what you will about Sean Penn, but he's a very, very lucky man.

2. The more you look at Cary Elwes in his close-ups, the odder his face becomes. His eyes are kind of close together (mongoloid is the word that comes to mind) and his bone structure seems to be kind of lumpy.

Oh, and of course, Andre the Giant is awesome.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sometimes guilt is misplaced

I'm just a bit of a movie buff, but for whatever reason I've never bothered to investigate the cinema of France in general and the movies of the French "New Wave," Truffaut, Goddard, et al. in particular.

I'm also in love with film noir and while studying it I learned that the French were the first to use the term (hence, the term!) and that they made some good films in the genre.

Anyway, I decided to make good use of Netflix and remedy this situation.

So far, meh.

I started with one of the big ones, Truffaut's "The 400 Blows." It was good, for sure, but I wouldn't say great. I'd recommend it to others, but it was not the life changing experience I had been led to believe it would be. I was not, however, deterred.

Next was "Rififi,"directed by Jules Dassin who also directed several American films noir that I have enjoyed, including "Brute Force" and the original "Night and the City." This was better, but it was not- in my opinion- an example of film noir. There were some aspects (no hero, not happy ending, etc.) that fit with the genre, but basically it was a "caper" film. To put a finer point on it, the "philosophy" of the film would make it film noir, but the look of the film is too bright and open to qualify.

Still to come are "Le Samouri" (which I have high hopes for) and "Le Professionnel," we'll see...

Saturday Night Observations

First, there could not be less on television on Saturday night. I know that part of it is that the various networks assume everyone is out on Saturday night, but I am not. I have no social life. So, perhaps somebody out there with some money to invest could put together some sort of cable television for people like me- "Shut-In TV" or something like that.

Second, by process of elimination I'm watching the Bruins v. Maple Leafs game. I've always been a hockey fan and a Bruins fan, but in the decade or so* since Cam Neely retired (and the Bruins have gotten worse and worse) I've watched them less and less. I'm actually enjoying tonights game, but every few minutes I find myself saying, "Who the hell are these guys?" Here are the ones I could name:

-Glen Murray (because he's been there on and off since 1991)
-Zdeno Chara (because he was in the news when he was traded and he's the tallest player in the NHL and I tend to know useless crap like that)
-Tim Thomas (because he's been there off and on for 5 years and went to UVM- I went to UNH)
-P.J. Axelsson (because he's been there for 10 years)
-Marco Sturm (because he's one of only a few Germans in the NHL...see Chara comment)
-Phil Kessel (because he had cancer of the...er, he had cancer)

*for six of those years I without access to Bruins games unless they were on national TV, I'm not as "fair weather" of a fan as my statement above may make me seem at first read!

Well, anyway, I'm sure that was enlightening for everyone involved, I'm going to fire up the PlayStation.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cool Website of the Day

Check out:

www.strangemaps.wordpress.com

Very thought-provoking, and, nerd that I am, I was kind of disappointed when I realized I'd reached the end.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

This afternoon's UEFA Cup match between Everton and Zenit-St. Petersburg match is a "cracker" and it's not even halftime yet.

Unfortunately, "your match commentator" is Max Bretos...solo. None of Christopher Sullivan's rambling, malapropisms, or foreign language neologisms to distract me from the constant stream of "asshattery" that is the aforementioned Bretos' version of play-by-play.

There was a poorly called penalty (and subsequent red card) earlier in the half that Max first thought was unquestionably a penalty- until he saw the replay- at which point it became the crime of the century. Given that he is probably commenting on this game while watching a monitor in a control room somewhere in the Fox Sports studios (as opposed to actually being at Goodison Park in Liverpool) he probably should have done what I did (as I sit in my living room watching on television)- wait to see the replay.

Jack-ASS.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

If it's 22 degrees outside...

...how is it raining instead of snowing?

I'm really hoping to see a pile of snow when I wake up tomorrow!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's kind of fitting...

...that it snowed on the first day of December.

Sadly, it did not snow very much.

Happily, there's a possibility of more on Monday.

Hooray for Winter!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Is there anything more disappointing...

...than a poorly mixed fountain soda?

There probably is, but I can't think of anything right now.

Looks like one more post for November


Evel Knievel died today, one more part of the 1970's that is no longer with us. I fondly remember watching him on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" and owning some sort of motorcycle toy that was powered up with a toothed pull cord.

R.I.P.

And one more small "Hot Stove" post

If the deal is Lester, Lowrie, Masterson, and Crisp for Santana, pull the trigger Theo, pull the trigger.

A Great Big Post To End The Month

I've had some free time and some motivation over the past few days, so I’ve undertaken a bit of a project.

I saw a list that somebody made of the must influential albums they owned and I decided to put my own twist on it. These are the15 most influential albums in my life. There are two things that make each of these stand out. First, I distinctly remember listening to them- in some cases I remember the first time, or where I was, etc. Second, each of them led me to other albums and groups that have had an influence on me.

Now for the caveat...all of the descriptions/explanations will have them.

The Beatles “With the Beatles”/The Beach Boys “The Best of the Beach Boys, vol. 1”

I don’t know what the first music was that I ever listened to, but there’s a good chance it was jazz- big band and otherwise. My dad originally went to music school and worked off and on as a “big band” musician (trombone and baritone horn) for most of his life, so jazz was always around. However, my memories of this are vague at best.

The first music I have a specific memory of came from my aunt when I was about seven or eight. She had left a closet full of records at my grandmother’s house when she moved to Australia and during one trans-global telephone call I asked if I might “borrow” some of them. I took a lot of them and a lot of them- and I hope my aunt will forgive me- were crap. The Association, Paula, really?! Some of them, however, were not, and I can remember listening to two of them for hours on end on the GE “stereo” with my dad’s HUGE brown Koss headphones on my little head. They were so big and heavy they hurt my neck after a while.

“With the Beatles” and “The Best of the Beach Boys, vol. 1” are classics judged by just about any criteria or critic. I won’t rehash the reasons why, they’re just great rock and roll albums and they were a revelation for that fact alone. They were pure, unspoiled, joyous, rock and roll. Luckily for me, however they were full of cover songs and obvious influences. The Beatles and the Beach Boys introduced me to Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, which in turn led me to Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochrane, and Roy Orbison.

These artists sustained me as I cast my net far and wide across the musical seas over the next few years. I can remember owning tapes (remember them?) by Def Leppard and the Who, I can remember taping songs off the radio (at my grandmother’s house, we lived too far out in the sticks to get decent reception) by everyone from the Police, to the Clash, to Golden Earring, to Eddie Money and a bunch of other artists that I have probably block from my memory for fear of mortal embarrassment.

The Stray Cats “Built for Speed”

This was the album that brought me out of the musical wasteland that was my “tweenage” years. Not only did I see the connection to the artists I already liked, it was the age of MTV and this band had “the look” as well. Tattoos, pompadours, stand up bass, big Gretsch guitars- everything. I wasn’t sure what “Rockabilly” was, and I didn’t have the means (money and access mainly) to find out what it was or pursue my interest any further. In fact, it would probably be fifteen or twenty years before I actually owned any rockabilly album not by the Stray Cats- partly because a little thing called punk got in the way. Nevertheless, eventually the Stray Cats led me to Johnny Burnette, Sonny Burgess, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis (again), the Paladins, the Reverend Horton Heat, and many others.

Richard Pryor “Live on the Sunset Strip”

Around this same time, my parents allowed their 13 year old son to join Columbia House and then failed to monitor his purchases or listening habits. To their credit, I’m not sure they would have vetoed my choices under any circumstances, they were pretty good about trusting my judgment. Whatever the case, I probably saw Richard Pryor on Johnny Carson or Saturday Night Live reruns or something and when I had the opportunity to purchase his new tape, I jumped at the chance. I remember listening to “Live on the Sunset” at night, on my walkman, while I was in bed. It was, to say the very least, a revelation.

I was born and lived my first seven or so years in a racially mixed and somewhat tense city in CT- not that I remember any of that. Instead, what I remember is growing up in very white, very middle class NH. It was a great place to grow up and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I clearly didn’t get the full picture. Richard Pryor helped to fix that. He was funny, smart, introspective, profane in the best possible way and nothing at all like Bill Cosby.

The Alarm “Declaration”

This might be the most significant album I ever purchased and as a result I’m not sure I’m going to have that much to say about it. First, the band never became all it could have been. There was a great five or so year run (1983-1988) and then they just kind of fizzled. Whatever the case, they were hopeful, optimistic, energetic, idealistic- in short, everything I needed at that point in my life. To this day, they are by far the best live band I have ever seen. An Alarm concert is the closest I’ve ever come to having a religious experience.

U2 “War”

Given what has transpired in the last twenty-five years, this might seem like a no brainer, but at the time, there was no indication that U2 was going to become anything big- they didn’t sound like anything else, and they seemed pretty sincere in a world populated by more insincere bands than you could shake a synthesizer at. The sound was big, the lyrics were engaging, and the videos were always on. “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” and “New Year’s” remain as powerful now as they were then. I hesitated to give the group a back-handed compliment, but to this day U2 remain the biggest and most popular band that I am not ashamed to love. With the exception of “Pop”- what the hell was that?!

Minor Threat “Complete Discography”

Wow. This was it. I finally got punk/hardcore when I heard this at a friend’s house. A two hour bus ride to Boston (at the original Second Comings Records in Cambridge, actually) later, I owned it. Well, actually, I didn’t. I owned the various 7”s and 12”s that would eventually make it up. I remember spending $80+ on (used) records that day, I think I rode the bus home with thirteen or fourteen albums that day.

Super fast, super tight but you could understand the lyrics, and in this case, here was a hardcore group whose lyrics were as important as their music. On a personal level, those lyrics gave very vocal support to a lifestyle I was always living. And they were doing all of this on their own record label, and one (Dischord) that still exists.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double TroubleCouldn’t Stand the Weather”

This is where the blues began for me and I suspect that this is the case for a lot of us who grew up in the 1980’s or who did not grow up in the South. This was music that I could get lost in and music that made me want to find out more about the blues, more and more and more. Stevie was a genius in his own right and his music led me back to everyone from Robert Johnson to Son House, to Muddy Waters to B.B. King and beyond.

And, as I always tell people, I have never witnessed anyone better at what they do. When you watched SRV in concert you felt as though you were witnessing something incredibly special- and you were right.

3rd Bass “The Cactus Album”

Growing up in rural NH I had been aware of Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys through the mass media, but this was the first rap album I ever bought- and that didn’t happen until I was in college. Why this one? That’s fairly simple- I got the references. Whether they were literary, pop culture, or musical. I’ve learned to appreciate Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Nas, Public Enemy and many other rap groups, but 3rd Bass will always be first. Sadly, they only lasted long enough to produce two proper albums.

Johnny Cash “The Sun Years”

It took me far too long to find Johnny Cash. My grandfather was born in the same small Arkansas town (Kingsland) and even lived there at the same time as the Cash family did. I even remember some connection between the two families being mentioned at some point. Nevertheless, I think my disdain for country music in general always kept him at arm’s length. Somewhere along the line, however, maybe as a result of my interest in rockabilly and probably in a search to be close to my grandfather after he passed away, I found my way back.

Morphine “Cure for Pain”

I met a guy named Owen when I was in college- he went to UC-Santa Cruz but was at my college for a semester on an exchange program. After college he moved to NYC and bounced around a little before getting a job at the New Yorker- where he works to this day. Owen was already hip when I met him and living and working in New York only magnified things. He once sent me a cassette in the mail- no case, no labels, no explanation. I listened to it more months and enjoyed it. Then I got sick of it and tossed it. Some months later Nirvana and Pearl Jam were all over the radio. Needless to say, although they weren’t my favorites, I learned to keep track of what he was listening to. During one visit I noticed a “Cure for Pain” sitting next to his stereo. I didn’t listen to it, I didn’t even pick it up to take a look at it. Nope, I just waited until I was home and then went out and bought it.

Drums, sax, and a 2-string slide bass. It shouldn’t work, but it does. That plus Mark Sandman’s lyrics made Morphine “something” in a musical world full of a lot of nothing. I think Morphine brought me close to liking jazz, but after peering into the abyss, I stepped back. Morphine is better than jazz...wait, what?

The Clash “The Clash”

“London Calling” is the more obvious choice, but this is the first Clash record I remember buying. It struck me at the time as not sounding like a band’s first attempt. There seemed to be too much going on and it all seemed to be going too well. The Clash led me to the the Sex Pistols and the Ramones and the Jam. The Jam led me to Paul Weller and the Style Council (for better or worse).

Sam Cooke “Live at the Harlem Square Club

Thanks to my parents, “oldies” had always been in my life, but too often they were too clean cut, too saccharine for my tastes- especially after I’d discovered punk and the blues. But it wasn’t until I read that this was one of the top ten live albums of all times that I became at all interested. Not too long afterwards I was in NYC with a friend and we went to Mondo Kim’s where I bought the CD. I was not disappointed.

Not only did Sam Cooke possess one of the most spectacular and subtle voices ever, he could also get down and dirty.

The Pogues “Rum, Sodomy, & the Lash”

I don’t know if it’s my favorite Pogues album, but it’s the one I bought first. From the Gericault painting on the front to the rogues’ gallery on the back, it looked cool before I’d even set it on the turntable. The music was everything from sentimental to rambuncious and Shane MacGowan’s voice and lyrics were a revelation. In my opinion, it was not going too far to say that his work belongs with that of any poet or author Ireland has produced. While I like Black ‘47 and Flogging Molly, and while I love the Proclaimers, nobody has ever done a better combination of traditional folk music and punk rock and I doubt anyone ever will.

Husker Du “New Day Rising”

It’s funny how over a quarter century after this record came out it finally dawned on me who Husker Du most resemble- the Clash. They were the American Clash. Think about it: an incredibly high output over a relatively short period, the ability to master any genre of music they undertook, a pair of writer/singers who alternately cooperated and competed with one another, checkered solo careers, and gone too soon. But enough about that.

This album is relentless. From the first fifteen seconds of the title track to the insanity of the record’s last three songs, it’s flawless. The lyrics were pretty good too: "All the silver you can steal, can't buy a piece of what I feel."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An Announcement

I shall now have some toast.

And there is a big, big post coming in the next day or two.

That sort of rhymed!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Question of the Day

The collective term for brothers and sisters is "siblings."

What is the collective term for nieces and nephews?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today's Observations

  1. One of the things I like best about living in New England is that when I went to bed last night it was Fall, and when I awoke this morning it was Winter.
  2. I hate high school aged boys. I know at one point I was one, but I have every confidence in the world that I was not as much of an idiot as the three boys I had to play soccer with tonight. You want to know how bad it was? I paid to play for two hours and left halfway through. Here's a tip boys: if you're constantly dribbling the ball into not one, but two defenders, there is somebody open- always!
  3. A person I know and who is known as a moralizing do-gooder was fired today. Good luck explaining to your wife and children that you lost a job with limitless possibilities for advancement because you were sleeping with a subordinate.
  4. I'm hungry.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Well, that made for a crappy weekend!

Yesterday: Scotland loses to Italy in stoppage time to end their chances of qualifying for Euro 2008.

Today: New England gives up a lead and loses to Houston in the MLS Cup final.

Maybe the Patriots will put a 100 on the board tonight against the Bills to make me feel a little better.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Damage Report

So, as I sit here, sore as hell from playing two hours of soccer on what was little more than fuzzy green concrete, I thought I'd make a list of the damage I have done to myself since birth.

-Chipped tooth: Pretty much fixed, I remembered having it fixed (ground down), but I don't really remember how I chipped it in the first place.

-Fractured left wrist: Elementary school see-saw accident.

-Partially torn rotator left cuff: Soccer injury. Opted not to have surgery. Once in a while I tear the scar tissue and it hurts for a few days, but otherwise, it's manageable.

-Left knee: Soccer injury. I'm not sure what's actually "wrong" with it except that when my legs start to fatigue from playing, hiking, etc., it looses some of it's spring. It is also the cause of the limp that only one person has ever noticed.

-Shins, both: Numerous scars and calcifications. All soccer-related except for one scar/lump the origin of which I shall never discuss.

-Toes: I have broken all of them at least once, and my right big toe so many times that it doesn't bend like it is supposed to.

All in all, not too bad I guess.

It's a girl!

More correctly, a niece!

My brother called me last night to confirm that he and his wife are going to have a daughter in April.

This will be my first experience with "uncle-hood" and I'm looking forward to it.

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, at the moment I am most happy for my brother because his health problems beginning in childhood and lasting through his teenage years had led us to believe that this might not be possible.

So, congratulations to my brother and his wife. I can't wait to be the "good uncle" (bad influence!).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Question of the Day

Why do bank signs display the time and temperature?

Sub-question: Why don't any other businesses do this?

That is all.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's not a word!

"Fustrated" is not a word!

The word is "frustrated."

Thank you.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fact of the Day

Migraine headaches...suck.

Today's has just reached the six hour mark.

Trying to sleep should be fun.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's My Anniversary!

Tomorrow marks one month since I became an "official" commenter at Deadspin.com

Feel free to stop on by and see if you can figure out who I am- my screen name will mean nothing to you, but my avatar should be a dead giveaway!

Something Else to Consider

"Hallowed Ground" by the Violent Femmes maybe the most under appreciated album of the last twenty years- it's certainly the creepiest.

Something to Consider

On the basis of only The Joshua Tree, U2 may be one of the best rock and roll bands ever. Of course, they made other albums too...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Reason #7475 Why I can't/don't own a handgun

""I don't want to hear any new music," said art curator Anne Shires, 32, who said she paid $260 for a floor seat."

And who did she pay that much to see?

Van Halen.

I hope she hasn't reproduced.

Boston Sports Round-Up

Red Sox
  • Exercised their option on Tim Wakefield...I approve.
  • Exercised their option on Julian Tavarez...meh.
  • John Farrell declined an offer to manage the Pirates and chose to remain the pitching coach...who wouldn't decline an offer from the Pirates?
  • Oh yeah, last week, they won the World Series.
  • Yankees suck.
Patriots
  • In case you've been locked in a SAC bunker under the Rocky Mountains, you may have heard that the Patriots and Colts play Sunday. The winner will RULE THE WORLD- or at least the NFL through nine weeks. Oh, and our new overlords will be the Patriots, 42-28.
  • I don't care if they are running up the score- I don't remember a whole lot of sympathy in 1990 or 1992.
Revolution
  • The Revs play the Red Bulls on Saturday, the winner advancing to the conference finals- will this be the year the Revs finally win it all?
  • Looking forward to next season, will they be able to keep Shalrie Joseph, and will they finally sign a big name/talent player?
  • Just as an aside, for those who feel MLS is not a "major" sport, the Revs averaged 16787 fans per game this season. A "sellout" for the Bruins would be 17565, and for the Celtics, 18624. Not bad for a team that has been around since 1995, as opposed to 1924 and 1946 respectively.

Celtics
  • I actually watched a Celtics game tonight- not the whole thing, but most of it! This may be the first time I have been able to say this since Larry Bird's final game in 1992.
  • The TD Banknorth Garden, with it's jumbotron, strobe lights, loud music, etc. will never be the Gah-den.
Bruins
  • A tough break for Patrice Bergeron, but so far so good! Their not the Cam Neely Bruins of my younger days, but they're not longer the shame of the Boston sports scene.
  • The new "retro" uniforms are growing on me even if they are made by Reebok.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Halloween!

...and I couldn't care less.

Monday, October 29, 2007

TA-DA!

World Series Champions again.

I shall now sleep the sleep of the smug.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Really?

Is it really possible that a few hours from now I might be back here on my blog celebrating the second Red Sox World Series victory in four years?

Wow.

I hope to talk to you in about five hours.

Go Sox!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Unnecessarily confirming that I am a nerd.

I rented the movie "Pathfinder" just to see how many historical inaccuracies I could find in it.

I did this because, in the previews for it "they" went out of their way to point out that this all happened "before Columbus," and then proceeded to show all kinds of people riding around on horses!

It's not supposed to be a very good movie, but at least I'll have a reason to pay attention to it.

Awaiting Game Three

It can't really be this easy, can it?

Then again, while it would be nice for the Red Sox to clinch the World Series in Fenway, I'm not sure that it's worth the two losses they'd have to suffer in order to make it happen.

Oh well, here's looking at Saturday night in Denver!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

UPDATE: Hope Solo, Greg Ryan, and losing to Brazil

Nobody- especially me- should have been shocked to learn today that USWNT Head Coach Greg Ryan was basically fired today by the USSF.

The USSF wanted to "go in another direction," and I am sure that Coach Ryan is looking forward to "pursuing other opportunities."

Whatever the case, it just goes to show that the next time you bench a goalkeeper who is coming off over three hundred minutes without giving up a goal in the middle of the World Cup, you probably shouldn't expect to have a job for much longer.

Mia Hamm-Garciaparra will be involved in choosing the new coach. I don't know if that's a good or bad idea, but there it is.

My Dad Had Brain Surgery Yesterday...

...and they didn't find anything! Thank you, I'll be here all week, remember to tip your server.

But seriously, folks, he did, and he's doing well. He has another follow up surgery next week, some fine-tuning over the next few months, and hopefully he'll see some pretty dramatic results by early spring.

If you'd like to learn about the procedure he had done, I invite you to Google "subthalamic nucleus implants." Pretty amazing stuff.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quote of the day

In response to Bart saying, "We could get in trouble."

"That's okay, trouble is a form of attention."

Milhouse van Houten

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By the power vested in me...

...as self-appointed Pope of Baseball, I hereby confer upon Tim Wakefield, preemptive absolution for any and all negative outcomes which may result from him pitching this evening against the Cleveland Indians.

He is injured, hasn't pitched in over two weeks, and as a knuckleballer, and he does not pitch in a style conducive to starting in a playoff game. In short, he is being put in a very difficult position and we should not have are hopes to high.

That being said, I hope he pitches a gem.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Well Done The Lads!



They did it again! Scotland defeated Ukraine 3-1 today at Hampden Park, Glasgow to remain atop Group B in their European Championship qualifying match. Goals from Lee McCulloch, Kenny Miller, and the increasingly talismanic Jamie McFadden were enough to win the day.

I haven't done all the math but I believe a win against Georgia on Wednesday will leave Scotland needing only a draw against Italy in their final match (at home). And this assumes no help from any other teams.

'Mon the Scots!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lyric of the Day

She had black hair like ravens crawling over her shoulders...

"All Wrong" by Morphine

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

NOW, it's time go gloat.

Dear New York Yankees,

Bite me.™*

Me.




*David Letterman, the 1980's

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Kid Stays in the Picture

(with apologies to Robert Evans)

I relate the following story from my day today mainly because- while I was certainly flattered- it made me laugh out loud.

A friend of mine came up to me today and said that a friend of hers (who doesn't know my name) wondered to her where I'd been recently. My friend asked who she meant, and she replied, "You know, the cute guy with the backpack!"

Okay, so let's review my conflicting reactions to this first.

1. The young lady in question is quite attractive and found me to be cute- SCORE!
2. I'm concerned that becoming known as "guy with the backpack" is one step away from being known as that guy who stands in front of his house and waves to every car that passes buy or the guy who covers all his windows with aluminum foil to keep the government from spying on him.

I'm going to stick with the first one as it makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I've still got it...or at least a part of it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

It's almost time to gloat!

The Red Sox swept the Angels today to move into the ALCS.

The Yankees are currently losing- more importantly, several former members of the Olde Towne Team have made major contributions. Clemens (traitor, mercenary) is already out of the game and the Indians took the lead on a home run from Trot Nixon (hustler, stand-up guy).

Should the Yankees lose later this evening, I'll be back with a very short, but very smug, and borderline inappropriate post.

Update: Has it come to this?

My disillusionment continues as the Clash's version of "Pressure Drop" has recently shown up as the background music in a Nissan commercial.

(insert cursing)

It all started a decade or more ago when the Beatles "Revolution" was used in a Nike television commercial...

Then Ramones' songs started showing up in the background of commercials.

Then Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" became the backing track for a series of cruise ship commercials.

Then songs by the Clash were in for the same treatment.

Then a Johnny Cash song showed up in ads for a motel chain.

Then only a month or so ago I noticed a song by the Jam in a Cadillac commercial.

And then there was today...

The Pogues "Sunny Side of the Street" in a Cadillac commercial.

Leading me to the following conclusions:

1. I'm old.
2. Of all of these artists, many are dead (Johnny Cash, half the Ramones, one quarter of the Clash) and their estates are cashing in.
3. I'm old.
4. The other half are broken up (the Jam) or reunited (Pogues, Stooges)- sort of.
5. I'm old.
6. My generation (more specifically, the punk subculture part of my generation) has enough money to buy- ick.- Cadillacs.
7. I'm old.

Whatever the dynamics behind any of this, I am, in a word, disheartened.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wow!

I thought watching the Red Sox win convincingly last night was fun, but watching the Indians emasculate the Yankees tonight is almost as enjoyable...

...maybe more enjoyable!

Go Tribe!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hot off the presses!!

First, a stellar effort from the Red Sox to take the first game from the Angels. Great pitching from Josh Beckett and timely hitting from the offense. Hooray!

Then, after finishing as runners-up on too many occasions to recount, the New England Revolution have won their first trophy! Tonight they defeated FC Dallas 3-2 to win the 2007 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup! How nice it would be to add the MLS Cup to that in a few weeks!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hope Solo, Greg Ryan, and losing to Brazil

"It was the wrong decision, and I think anybody that knows anything about the game knows that. There's no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves. And the fact of the matter is it's not 2004 anymore. It's not 2004. And it's 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can't live by big names. You can't live in the past. It doesn't matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters, and that's what I think."

Hope Solo's post-match reaction to being benched in favor of Brianna Scurry

It's not too often that I get a chance to weigh in on an issue about which I actually know something (I coached women's soccer for a decade), so I have to say something about what just happened at the Women's World Cup. Here's what happened and my take on all of it:
  • US Coach Greg Ryan chooses to replace goalkeeper Hope Solo with Brianna Scurry for the semi-final match against Brazil. His rationale is that Scurry has a good record against Brazil- Solo had never faced Brazil.
    • Problem 1: You don't replace a "hot" goalkeeper. Solo hadn't lost match in the last fifty or so she played. It was unlikely she would suddenly not play well against Brazil were slim.
    • Problem 2: Brianna Scurry had not played a meaningful (World Cup, Olympic, etc.) match in three years, and is now 36 years old. To borrow a boxing term, "ring rust" was likely to be an issue for Scurry.
    • Problem 3: Greg Ryan's rationale makes no sense- every US keeper ever has a great record against every opponent- the team is 275-50-39 since it's founding and had not lost under Ryan until the loss to Brazil!
  • Hope Solo publicly states that Ryan made the wrong decision and that she would have stopped the shots that Scurry let pass.
    • Problem 1: Even if you're right, you don't say it in the press. No matter how moronic the decision was, the issue needs to stay within the team.
    • Problem 2: When criticized for the first mistake, trying to "recontextualize" your comments about your teammate and coach makes you look like an idiot.
  • The claiming she would be a distraction, the US team votes to have Solo leave the team for the rest of the World Cup.
    • Problem 1: The rationale here is ridiculous. Solo would be a distraction for the one remaining match?! The 3rd place/consolation match? Very, very weak.
    • Problem 2: As a coach, you cannot- as I read the situation- use your players to cover your mistake. Even if the players came to him to request a vote on the issue, he has to refuse it. He made the mistake, the blame is solely his- having her leave the team only exacerbates the problem by airing team business in public, again
  • Coach Ryan forgets how to coach, over an above his match day decision.
    • Problem 1: Hope Solo is a world class athlete, a necessarily competitive person, and beyond that, a soccer goalkeeper- she should be expected to have an ego! Without it, she probably wouldn't be as good as she is- Ryan should know this. While he probably couldn't have predicted her going public with her feelings, did he expect her not to have them? Would he have wanted her not to have them?!
    • Problem 2: He suggests that there is, and I'm paraphrasing, "Plenty of talent out there..." and that, and this is a direct quote, "what's got to occur is reconciliation and that is a very slow process." Coach, you can't try to turn Solo into the only person who made a mistake. And coach, FYI, she's got a brighter future with the team than you do.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Musical Ponderings

A former co-worker and I used to pass the time (and at the job in question we had a lot of free time!) by engaging in lengthy debates on the subject of popular music. Sometimes it was making "best" and "worst" lists, sometimes comparing concert-going stories from our past, etc.

So today, as I was listening to Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer singing a duet of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," I thought about some other artists I would love/would have loved to see work together, and in some cases, the song I would have loved to hear them sing. Some of these- I think- are musical "homeruns" and others, perhaps, just ideas...

  • Johnny Cash and Shane MacGowan singing "The Long Black Veil"
  • Sam Cooke and Sinead O'Connor singing "Frankie and Johnny"
    • Granted, this one would take some reworking, but I think the interplay would be great and I'd love to hear Sinead sing soul music.
  • Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie singing "All You Fascists"
    • Yes, the Mermaid Avenue albums sort of addressed this pairing, but not quite the way I would have wanted to have it happen if I controlled time and space.
  • The Proclaimers and the Everyly Brothers singing "All I Have To Do Is Dream"
  • Joan Jett and the Donnas singing "Bad Reputation"
  • Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan singing "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)"
    • Although, I think my head might explode.
Any others I missed?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The War by Ken Burns

If you are not watching Ken Burns' new documentary, "The War", you should be.

Rather than writing a new post about it, I'm going to repost a prior post with some expanded parts. My apologies if any of the information is incorrect as a result of the passage of time since the average post.

---------------------------

Today is the 61st anniversary of D-Day. Soon, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day and V-J (Victory in Japan) Day.

In a time when wars are characterized by ambiguity and misgivings, it's important to remember that this was not the case during the Second World War. Then there truly were "good guys" and "bad guys." It's also worth remembering that while we should mourn each and every life lost in service to our country, the scale of loss during WWII was unlike anything we encounter today. The combined loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan has yet to top 4,000. During WWII more than 400,000 American lost their lives, an average of 6,639 a month.

Like todays servicemen and women, these men (and women) came from all walks of life, from all areas of our country- and even from other countries, and gave all that they had. They did so willingly, heroically, and humbly.

If you have a relative, a friend, or even just a neighbor who served, say "thank you." These veterans won't be around forever, in fact, WWII veterans are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day. It is likely that they will all be gone before you or I pass away.

One of these veterans was Senior Radioman John Mitchell of Kingsland, AR. He left home after high school to cut timber in Idaho and Utah as a member of the Civil Conservation Corps. Like many young men who came of age during the Great Depression, he chose this path to ease his family's financial burdens.

Later, when war came, this farm boy from southern Arkansas joined the United States Navy- having never seen the ocean before.

During the war he served on the U.S.S. Hambleton and the U.S.S. Newcomb. The Hambleton took part in the invasion of North Africa and hunted U-boats in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The Newcomb took part in every major Pacific operation from the Marshall Islands to the Battle of the Phillippine Sea.

Having seen so much action in their time on the Newcomb, Senior Radioman Mitchell and many of his shipmates were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba just before their ship headed for Iwo Jima.

Senior Radioman Mitchell was on duty the day the Japanese surrendered and had the honor of announcing this news to the base.

Senior Radioman Mitchell came home in 1945 and lived for another 52 years, the last 28 of those as my grandfather.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

That's what I thought all along!!

If you know anything from reading my blog, you know I love sweet, sweet vindication. Today's comes courtesy of the BBC's website. The highlighting is mine...


"Many 'Imagine' Food Intolerance"

Millions of people in the UK have self-diagnosed a food intolerance and may be avoiding key foods as a result, a poll by a testing firm suggests.

Less than a quarter of the 12m people who claim to be food intolerant have had their condition formally diagnosed.

While many of the nine million who also claim to be intolerant may well be so, it is suggested they may just be fussy.

Nearly 40% of the 1,500 people polled by Yorktest thought it trendy to be intolerant and many blamed celebrities.

Actress Rachel Weisz for instance has a well-publicised wheat intolerance, TV presenter Carol Vorderman a gluten one, and Rod Stewart's former wife, Rachel Hunter, a lactose intolerance.

The range of foods people declared themselves intolerant of was diverse, but grapefruit and sushi were declared by those polled to be key culprits.

Food intolerances are not as severe as food allergies, which in severe cases can prevent people from breathing properly.

But symptoms can nonetheless be uncomfortable, ranging from a stuffy nose to aching joints and nausea.

However the wide variety of complaints which people pin on food intolerances could be related to a number of other conditions.

Nutritionist Tanya Haffner said it was important to seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.

"You may be cutting out something you don't need to which might be putting your nutritional health and your longer term health at risk," she says.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Colin McRae, MBE (1968-2007)


Colin McRae, his five year-old son Johnny, and two others died in a helicopter crash yesterday near his home in Lanark, Scotland.

Within the world of motorsports rally drivers are considered by their peers to be the best drivers, and for more than a decade, Colin McRae was one of the best rally drivers in the world.

If that means nothing to you, and it might not, think about it this way. Colin McRae was as good at what he did as anyone you can name at any given endeavor. If Colin had played guitar, he would have been Stevie Ray Vaughan, if he'd been an artist, he would have been Picasso.

If you want to have an idea of what rally drivers do, and specifically, what Colin McRae could do, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_BQIaKYsk4 Pay particular attention at about the :53, watch the landing and recovery on after the second jump.

Amazing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is meaningless, but...

...here's a little something I just stumbled upon:

During France's last 47 outings they have suffered only three defeats:-

Against Italy during the 2006 World Cup Final and against Scotland twice in the Group B matches for Euro 2008.

'mon the Scots!

And Now It Gets Interesting

In a match already being called Scotland's greatest in 40 years- if not ever- the boys in blue left Paris with a 1-0 victory over France in their latest EURO 2008 qualifying match, vaulting them into first place in Group B.

A 64th minute long distance strike from Jamie McFadden (pictured) gave the underdog Scots a stirring victory over the heavily favored French side.

Scotland now have three matches remaining- Ukraine, Georgia, Italy. Seven points from these matches will guarantee qualification regardless of what France and Italy do in their three remaining matches, but five points might be enough. Either way, Scotland must hope the Ukraine- with matches remaining against both sides- can do them some favors with a strategic win or draw.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is there such a thing as "good-natured" complaining?

So, a friend convinced me to join his fantasy football league.

I spent yesterday chained to my laptop bending my brain around how I could root for Tom Brady to have a great game while at the same time, not costing me points- I have the Jets defense, or based on yesterday's game, "defense."

Anyway, now I find myself doing the same thing while also trying to follow the Red Sox game and watch something on PBS.

ARGH!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Just a thought...

...maybe I'm just betraying my northeastern liberal provincialism, but I pretty much stop listening to anyone talking about politics when they pronounce it, "EYE-wrack."

I want these people to hop back in their "VEE-hick-ulls" and drive away.

EURO 2008 Qualifying is Back!

Scotland has won again- 3-1 against Lithuania! Thanks to the Urkaine v. Georgia & the France v. Italy ending in draws, Scotland remain 2nd in Group B. Following the mid-week game against France, things can only get better. A win, and Scotland move into 1st place alone, a draw and Scotland remain in 2nd place on goal differential, and a loss keeps Scotland in second, but with only a precarious 1 point lead over Italy. The good news ahead of the Paris match* is that Bazza is back for Scotland and Henry is out for France via an accumulation of yellow cards.

*c'mon, that's a great joke!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In better soccer news...

...early in the second half Scotland lead Lithuania 1-0. It's still going to be hard to qualify- too many good teams in the group, but all they can do is win their matches and see where it takes them.

Ewwww...ugh.

At first I was just going to make some snarky comments about the Russian national team being by far the ugliest team in Euro 2008 qualifying...

...and then I found myself constantly switching back to the West Virginia v. Marshall football game.

Why? Because the Russia v. Macedonia match is all but unwatchable! As much as I would like to see Macedonia- excuse, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (I don't want the UN leaving a nasty comment on my blog)- stick it to the Russians, they're awful, and it's not going to happen.

My parting tip for the FYROM? If you keep giving up free kicks near your goal and then defending like blindfolded drunks, you're going to lose- by a lot.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Food (literally!) for thought

Twice in the last week or so I've come across something that, I don't know, restored my faith in our country just a little bit. One was in my hometown, the other in a town near where I live. What were they?

Self-service produce stands.

One of them- the one in my hometown had a multitude of produce and no list of prices. You just took what you wanted of each vegetable and left what you thought was appropriate.

I realize that the money coming in from these stands isn't going to be the difference between affluence or poverty in either case, but it's nice to know that there are a few people who still have faith in their neighbors.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Quote for Daily Use

Feel free to use this the next time some Dead-following, patchouli wearer tries to sell some sort of hemp something or other:

"Some sort of hippie, crystal-gripping nonsense."

Courtesy of Kari Byron (Mythbusters)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Continued Vicarious Success

In my ongoing habit of living through my friends, I bring you another success story.

My best friend, who was working in the aerospace industry as a "private" individual (though he worked at a NASA space center) now works directly for NASA.

I will now register my lack of shock when, sometime in the future, he calls to tell me that he's applying to be a "mission specialist."

Good job, Danny Boy!

It's about damn time.

Alberto Gonzales resigned today.

In the words of Comic Book Buy..."Worst Attorney General- ever!"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Public Service

Do yourself, and perhaps your sole a favor and go to www.youtube.com and search "Sinead O'Connor"

Listen to/watch...

1. "Oro Se Do Bheata Bhaile"
2. "The Foggy Dew" with the Chieftains
3. "Haunted" with Shane MacGowan
4.
"Mna na h Eireann"

You will learn a few things...

-Her voice is a treasure- up there with Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, etc.
-Nobody writes a "rebel song" like the Irish.
-Gaelic is a beautiful, beautiful language.
-The Proclaimers were right, Irish girls are pretty...really pretty!
-Sinead O'Connor was Natalie Portman before Natalie Portman was Natalie Portman.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is this the way that Rome fell?

I stood behind a woman in a checkout line today who was very vocal (to the cashier, not I) about how excited she was that she was purchasing the extended edition/director's cut/whatever of her favorite movie. That movie?

"Wild Hogs"

What was it that H.L. Mencken said, "Never underestimate the bad taste of the American public"?

I guess so...youch!

Friday, August 10, 2007

A joyous day

I could nit-pick about it raining and preventing me from playing soccer (though I should be able to do that on Monday), but I will not.

Instead, I will positively revel in the fact that it is 3:45 in the afternoon and the temperature has yet to rise above 55! And it's the middle of August!

I wore a sweatshirt when I was out earlier!

C'mon fall, hurry up and get here!

I'm also a bit chuffed because I came up with a zany, semi-serious idea for a long-term project that has me positively beaming!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What does it mean?

When you don't want to go to bed, can't sleep when you do, and never wake up rested no matter how long you sleep?

I don't think it can mean anything good.

I'm not sure I care.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Awwww...

"Clemens was booed off the mound after allowing eight runs and nine hits in 1 2/3 innings."

Well, he is only getting paid $20+ million dollars for a partial season, so you can't expect him to give his best in each and every outing.

I'm sure my attitude would be different if he had signed with the Red Sox, but he didn't, and now I get to laugh at him...and the Yankees.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Deuling Scandals

So, which is in rougher shape in terms of its image- the NFL or the Tour de France?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Last Night (+ bonus garbage)

It was 80 degrees at 10:30pm.

That's just not right.

Bonus Garbage

On a TOTALLY unrelated note, bonus points to anyone who can identify the source of my new blog title without resorting to Google.

I now have a myspace page...not because I necessarily wanted one, but because my co-workers badgered me into it. I currently have two "friends"- is that good? No, I didn't think so either. I do have a cool song on it, though, so you know, I got that going for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I think I ate a bug

It's dark, the fans are blowing who-knows-what into my apartment, and I didn't bother to look before taking a big gulp from my class of soda.

At least it wasn't a big bug.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hmmm...

Last night was a good night...it makes me a little more hopeful about the future.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gilmore quits presidential race

WHO?!

It's probably a good idea to leave the race if nobody actually realizes that you are in it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Before anybody gets any ideas...

...my blogs new name has NOTHING to do with the establishment on Martha's Vineyard (nor it's uber-preppy ephemera), the Hound of the Baskervilles, or the Led Zepplin song. Study up on Winston Churchill if you're curious about it.

I wish to point out

that save for this very post, I have not said anything about the heat.

Attention Reader(s)

This past weekend while visiting my family I unexpectedly received a large amount of genealogical information from my mom, so I'm going to be a bit busy for the next few days. I hope you will bear with me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

At least make them work for their money!

I live across the street from a (dividede) parking lot.

On the right side of the parking lot is "Liquor Town," on the left side of the parking lot, the local police station.

Next to my building is a driveway in which a cruiser usually sits to a) watch the intersection and, b) to keep an eye on Liquor Town (duh).

That being said, it's probably not a good idea, after making your purchase at Liquor Town and getting back into your battleship-sized 1980's Cadillac, to drive over the curb between the two parking lots (creating the screeching noise that brought me to my window and drew the attention of the officer sitting in her cruiser (assuming she wasn't already watching the whole scene) and exit from the police station side of the lot while also laying down some tracks in the flower garden.

In a mere matter of seconds, officer one had pulled her over, two officers returning to the station pulled their cruiser in front of her, and another officer who had just exited the station on foot also sauntered over.

I'll summarize the remainder...

...the driver failed all of her sobriety tests.

...she got a bit "difficult" as she was being cuffed up, causing her to be "frog-marched" into the station.

...the non-arresting officers are currently going though the Caddy (light blue, black vinyl roof) and, judging by the amount of stuff on the roof of the car, finding a bunch of interesting things.

Short of actually crashing her car through the doors of the station I'm not sure she could have made it any easier.

Nice work!

Quote of the Day

I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

--Stephen F. Roberts

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vacation

So, as Day Two of my vacation hits its midpoint, I find myself with time to shake out the contents of my brain.
  • Given all of the times that I've made lists of things I hate and posted them here I am shocked that I never mentioned Cream Soda. How can something supposedly so closely related to Root Beer be so bloody awful? I think it's just one of those "old people" sodas like Ginger Ale that people haven't actually had since the Depression but somehow recall as being good. I am not fooled.
  • I am newly single. I have mixed emotions about this. There may be more lengthy posts on this in the future, but it's only been five days and I haven't quite been able to put all of my thoughts on the subject in to a nice neat package.
  • I actually went out and bought "throw pillows" ("accent pillows"?) for my relatively new (and stylish) IKEA couch. If they hadn't been so inexpensive I'm sure I'd feel much more emasculated than I do. A few more episodes of this nature and it will no longer be possible to mistake my apartment for a dorm room, which is good, right?
  • I was looking forward to playing soccer tonight, but alas, there is none to be played.
  • It's hot today, not as hot as was forecasted, but still, Africa hot.
  • I'm reading three books at the moment- down from four a mere week ago. First, a book on the history of the English language (my third such book in the last year) by David Crystal called, not shockingly, The Histories of English, a summer "page turner" in the National Treasure mode by Brad Metzler called The Book of Fate, and FINALLY, after what appear to have been endless publishing delays, Chris Salewicz' The Ballad of Joe Strummer: The Definitive Biography. The long wait for this last one was made a bit more palatable when it arrived in hardcover!
  • My most recent musical purchase is Rhino's Lightnin' Hopkins Anthology: Mojo Hand.
  • It's late June and my beloved Red Sox have managed to maintain a double digit lead in the American League East. It is too soon to rejoice, but there is some snickering going on already at the expense of a certain other team in the AL East.
  • Just a question: could there be a less interesting slate of movies out at the moment? I give you the following:
    • Spiderman 3: What a disappointment, my Spidey-sense did not tingle...at all.
    • 1408: Shouldn't Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack make me want to see it?
    • Evan Almighty: Catering to the LCD of the fundamentalists didn't result in the expected ticket sales- good.
    • Surfs Up: Another animated penguin movie?!?!
    • Fantastic Four...: The first one was so bad I will not give this one any of my money.
    • Knocked Up: Very good, but I already saw it.
    • Nancy Drew: Um, no interest. Now if it was the Hardy Boys...
    • Shrek the Third: Nope.
    • Oceans 13: It was okay.
    • Pirates: Nope.
  • That's 6 sequels out of 10...somebody isn't trying very hard.
Okay, I lost my train of thought, so I guess that's about it for now.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Good news in a bad week.

Turns out Joe Strummer was half-Scottish.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's June 20th

So Happy Birthday to me...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

So...over Memorial Day Weekend I took some time away from work and drove six hours down I-95 (does it have a nickname? "Boredom Alley" might work if it doesn't) to meet up with my best friend of 20 years* for a two day 25-30 mile hike. We drove another two hours to the Savage River State Forest in western Maryland and commenced to hiking.

Beauty of nature...lots of exercise...interesting "locals" (we were dangerously close to West Virginia after all)...the phrase "rugged intellectuals" was even uttered at one point.

Any-who...the larger point being that the hike was the longest time he and I have been able to spend together since we overlapped for one year in college (he finishing his BA, me making my first attempt at my MA) and it was great! I forgot what it was like to not need one's "inner monologue" at all!

We then returned to the Baltimore 'burbs where I got to know his two-year old daughter, enjoyed talking with his wife (whom I've known for two decades as well), and attended a Memorial Day "block party" sort of thing.

We've decided to make the hike an annual thing and I am gladdened by that.

Finally, I apologize, this post is terribly written. I had a great time bonding with my best pal and I blame the fact that the connection he and I have does not lend itself well to articulation.

*a topic for a later post maybe.

Monday, May 28, 2007

13.5 Games

Must...not...gloat...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Fallwell

Pardon me while I shed not a single, solitary tear upon his passing.

Consider the following before you shed any of your own:

  • He often claimed to be a "Doctor" (of divinity one assumes), but he only possessed three honorary degrees- two from unaccredited institutions.
  • He was a segregationist.
  • He supported apartheid in South Africa.
  • He said the following about homosexuals: "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals."
  • He believed all American schools should be run by the church, not the government.
  • He said the following about 9/11: I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and th feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"
Where, I ask you, is the "morality" in any of that?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Scottish National Party 47, Labour Party 46

Those days are past now,
And in the past
they must remain,
But we can still rise now,
And be the nation again,



And soon, it appears...

What?!

I was flipping by the first Republican debate and saw three of the candidates raise their hands in response to the question- and I paraphrase- "Who doesn't believe in evolution?"

In 2007, that's chilling.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Just to prove I'm getting old(er) and bitter(er)

A partial list of bands/artists I can do without:

-A.F.I.
-Lilly Allen
-The All American Rejects
-Arcade Fire
-Arctic Monkeys
-Bright Eyes
-Dashboard Confessional
-Death Cab For Cuite
-Fall Out Boy
-The Fray
-Gnarls Barkley
-Interpol
-Kaiser Chiefs
-The Killers
-Lady Sovereign
-LCD Soundsystem
-John Mayer
-Modest Mouse
-My Chemical Romance
-O.K. Go
-Panic at the Disco
-The Shins
-Snow Patrol
-Amy Winehouse


That'll do for now.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fox Soccer Channel

Let me begin by saying how thankful I am for the Fox Soccer Channel. I have to pay extra to get it on my cable plan, and I have to overlook the fact that it is owned by Rupert Murdoch, yet I still enjoy it immensely- so much so that its becoming a regular thing for me to get up earlier than usual on weekends to make sure that I can watch as much soccer as possible before going to work.

(wait for it...)

However, it has also reminded me of how bad announcing tandem, or in this case, a HORRIBLE announcing team, can ruin even the best match. I speak of "play-by-play" man Max Bretos and his partner, "the eclectic analyst with an ever-evolving accent"* Christopher Sullivan.

Mr. Bretos (also a commentator/interviewer for the WWE- I'll allow you to insert your own comment...) has one fundamental problem as an analyst- he doesn't know how to analyze! He generally spends ninety minutes overreacting to underwhelming on-field action, missing important action because he is too busy with other minutiae, interjecting barely-relevant trivia and non-sequitors, and being snarky and generally quite pleased with himself. Put more concisely, he's an ass.

Mr. Sullivan is equally bad, but much more intriguing.

I know enough about the beautiful game to know that Mr. Sullivan knows the beautiful game, which makes his work that much more frustrating. Mr. Sullivan played in a quality collegiate program, fashioned decent professional career for himself mainly in the pre-MLS period (no small achievement), and represented our country on almost twenty occasions. And yet... The best description I can give of his, ah, "problem," is that he sounds like a man trying to make himself understood on the more intricate points of the game in a language he has only recently learned to speak. His attempts to find appropriate vocabulary to make his points are something between Sisyphean and Tantalusian. The problem is exacerbated by his labored syntax and diction. His speech often reminds me of my high school days when my direct translations of German sentences into English looked something like, "He the ball kicked." Finally, his commentary is further garbled by his penchant for speaking what I can only describe as "Spangloguese."** Mr. Sullivan inists on putting much of his soccer specific knowledge into the various languages of which he may or may not have an understanding.*** To call something a "bicycle" or "overhead" kick is not enough, it must be a chileno. This would almost make sense if he used the foreign language terminology when he was commenting on a game from one of the relevant countries, but alas...

The combination of all of these things is that he sounds like somebody who has suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past, but whose friends and family now lovingly, proudly, and maybe a little patronizingly, say of him, "He's really doing quite well!" This is all the more troubling given that he is a native English speaker and a college graduate with a degree in business and finance!

I've got no end to this post except to say, there are plenty of great announcers out there who do work in the English language- Martin Tyler and John Motson come to mind.

I think this was my longest post ever.

*Credit for this apt description goes to Michael Connolly at ussoccerplayers.com

**His Spangloguese is sometimes supplemented by French and Italian- "Fretalian""

***Unlike English, I was able to find confirmation that he speaks Spanish and Italian.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring is here...

...and at the risk of sounding cheesy, it's a wonderful thing to sleep with the windows open, and better yet, being only a few footsteps from the Connecticut River, I can hear the low roar of the falls at the same time.

Very nice, indeed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

EPL-USA

Not many people will care about the following, but I do.

After watching a few Champions League matches today, and the the EPL Review show I was impressed by how well American soccer was represented in what might be the best league in the world. Some may argue that over any given period there may be a better league (Serie A, the Bundesliga, the Primera Division, etc.), but at the moment three of the four teams still remaining in the Champions League are English and that, I feel, is a good barometer of league quality.

Here’s the breakdown:

Manchester United: No American players.
Chelsea: No American players.
Liverpool: No American players.
Arsenal: No American players.

Bolton Wanderers: One American player.
-Johann Smith: On loan to Carlisle United.

Everton: One American player.
-Tim Howard: Starting goalkeeper.

Tottenham Hotspur: No American Players.
Portsmouth: No American players.

Reading: Two American players.
-Marcus Hahnemann: Starting goalkeeper
-Bobby Convey: Currently injured.

Newcastle United: One American player.
-Oguchi Onyewu: on loan from Standard Liège.

Blackburn Rovers: One American player.
-Brad Friedel: Starting goalkeeper for the last seven years.

Manchester City: One American player.
-DaMarcus Beasley: on loan from PSV Eindhoven.

Middlesbrough: No American players.
Aston Villa: No American players.

Fulham: Three American players.
-Brian McBride: Team’s leading scorer.
-Carlos Bocanegra: Team’s second leading scorer.
-Clint Dempsey: A starting player as of late.

Wigan Athletic: No American players.

Charlton Athletic: One American player.
-Cory Gibbs: Rehabilitating a knee injury.

Sheffield United: No American players.

West Ham United: One American player.
-Jonathan Spector: Starting defender.

Watford: One American player.
-Jay DeMerit: Starting defender.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Funniest Thing I Read Today

This description of Canada appeared in an article on Gawker.com today: "...the large mass of semi-arable land blocking Montana's view of the Arctic..."

I actually have a lot of respect/love for "America-without-the-handguns," but that's just plain funny.

Monday, April 02, 2007

It's Opening Day!

On the 4oth anniversary of the "Impossible Dream" season I offer a little salute to my (and my Aunt's) favorite player ever.

How far does Red Sox Nation reach? My aunt has lived in Australia for almost 30 years and she still celebrates Yaz's birthday every August.

The first pitch is in half an hour...

... GO SOX!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Sneaker Fetish...continues




Puma Tri-Sock running shoes: they're even more limey in person!


Adidas Forest Hills Vintage: to quote one of my favorite movies, they are "money."

Merrell Full Pursuit Gore-Tex XCR: they'd be awesome even if I hadn't paid about 25% of their actual price!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Victory!


Young Craig Beattie scored in the 89th minute today to ensure that Scotland will remain tied for the top of its group regardless of what France does against Lithuania later today.

Scotland probably should have done better against a side like Georgia, but a win is a win is a win, and they move to 4-0-1 with for 12 points.

Up next a much sterner test later in the weak at Italy. An away draw would make for a successful trip, a away win against Italy would be magical!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I could smell it before I could see it


Today I was off running some errands.

While walking across a parking lot I smelled something wonderful. I stopped, lifted my head and looked around, and saw the source of the wonderful aroma- White Hut.

You can learn all about it at their website, but here are a couple of things that will give you a better idea of what the place is like.

First, it seems like everyone there is a regular- that's probably why they've been in business for almost 70 years.

Second, drinks only come in bottles and cans. Although, you can get ice water at the counter, and without anyone giving you a dirty look.

Third, the restroom doors say "Ladies" and "Gentlemen."

Finally, if a woman orders a hamburger, it is cut in half for her.