[2007.05.30 - 11:00 A.M.]

Last Thirteen:

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[2007.05.29 - 04:00 P.M.]

Catching up on all the PodCasts I missed during vacation, and I just got to last week's Best of Mike & Mike from the 24th. During the run-down of upcoming topics, Greenie tosses out this question:

"Keyshawn Johnson turns in his football jersey for a shirt and tie; But will his early departure keep him out of the Hall of Fame?"

Um, no, I don't think his early departure will keep him out of the Hall of Fame. I think the fact that he is not even close to a Hall-of-Fame-caliber player will keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

I mean, hey, I liked Keyshawn as a Jet, even though he was always slagging on my man Wayne. I liked his arrogance. I liked his toughness. I liked his work ethic. Seemed like a solid player and an interesting, charismatic guy. But let's face it: In terms of skills and accomplishments on the field, he never lived up to a fraction of the hype that accompanied his #1 pick status. Not with the Jets, not with the Bucs (ring notwithstanding), not with the Cowboys, and certainly not with the Panthers. Hell, just the fact that he got bounced around to four teams in eleven years ought to tell you something about his non-elite receiver status. What on Earth did Keyshawn ever do that would prompt anyone to put him in the HOF conversation? Silly Greenie.

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[2007.05.28 - 11:30 A.M.]

Had a wonderful time in Key West. I'll have some highlights and possibly even pictures later today. Or maybe tomorrow. Depends on how this Last Day of Our Vacation plays out. In any case, I've got a bunch of stuff to catch up on and hope to have the blog humming along again by mid-week.

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[2007.05.18 - 05:50 P.M.]

Nine and a half games behind the Red Sox. That's it, I'm sounding the alarm.

I could deal with the pitching woes in April. Hey, you try losing three of your five starters for extended periods and see what happens. But this Dead Bat Society shit has me apoplectic. This is not acceptable. The Yankees have wasted at least three or four quality starts in the last ten days because we can't buy a run. That's just bullshit. New rule: One cold bat per week. Draw straws each Sunday to figure out who it is and then all the rest of you schmucks go out there and hit.

Subway Series this weekend, obviously, what with interleague "Rivalry Weekend" going on. Like to win at least one of these three, but I ain't optimistic about it. Best chance is with Pettitte tonight. Tomorrow Rasner goes and then Sunday we've got one Mr. Tyler Clippard -- yet another minors call-up -- taking the mound. (The rain-out on Tuesday night really fucked up the rotation, apparently.) So yeah, there's a very real possibility that we could get swept by the Mets. (Why no, Paul, it's not too early to make our October dinner reservation. Obviously it's going to be your choice.)

Oh well. No matter what happens this weekend or even against the Sox, I'm not letting it get me down. After all, I will be in Key West...

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[2007.05.18 - 04:00 P.M.]

Friday night is the most glorious time of the week here at TwoGlasses corporate headquarters. The work week is behind us and, unlike Saturday and Sunday, we're in a Chore-Free Zone. It's silly time. It's drinkin' and blowin' off steam time. What could be better? Well, I'll tell you what could be better: Friday night before vacation, that's what's better.

That's right, please excuse me while I let out a hardy...

WOO HOO!!! WE'RE GOIN' TO KEY WEST!!!

Oh my. Seven nights in the World Capital of Mellow & Buzzed. Feel free to toss a "Hey Toast, have a margarita for me" in the comments secure in the knowledge that I actually will have a margarita for you. Seriously, I promise. I don't care if I get 48 exhortations in this regard, I'll make a list and knock 'em down one by one.

Fuckin' Key West. Clave Oeste. Been there? Then you know of its magical relaxation properties. Not been there? Go there.

I'm figuring on a late afternoon or two taking in the music at Sloppy Joe's (and drinking beer), at least one sunset cruise (sunset booze cruise), snorkeling, maybe rent bikes for a day, maybe rent Skidoos (maybe get a loan, quit our jobs and open Toast & Tracy's Skidoo Rental Shack), check out the cats at Hemingway House (not as in "cool people" but rather as in "cats"), and perhaps take a day trip to the old fort at Dry Tortugas. Hell, we've got seven days, why not? Oh, and the eating and the drinking. I shit thee not, I purchased a pair of emergency 38-inch pants for when I get back. Just in case. Not that I won't try to work off some of those calories with frequent swims in the pool and/or ocean. Or sweat them off in the Jacuzzi.

Damn is this gonna be fun.

Back in a bit. Have to go pack.

Update: Actually, this is going to be a one-slice night. Too much to do before we leave. I'll get the baseball thread up, though. Promise.

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[2007.05.18 - 02:45 P.M.]

CSI (4-26): Finally started catching up on CSI. Thank FSM that Comcast On Demand carries CBS's shows (and, oddly enough, among the big networks, only CBS's shows, at least for now). Good one-off episode here dealing with a washed-up boxer named "Happy" who lived in a whorehouse. The whole walk-back through his four sequential causes of death was quite amusing. Oh, while I have to thank the writers for putting a crossbow in the hands of one would-be Happy killer -- because, as I pointed out to Tracy, no way does an arrow shot from a bow go clear through a guy's windpipe and maintain enough velocity to then pass through a window -- that arrow sure didn't look like a crossbow style arrow. Not that I'm an expert. Anyhow, when we get back from vacation pretty much all our other shows will be wrapped, so we'll be able to plow through the remainder of this CSI season. Damned Thursday night log-jam. Something's gotta give.

Sopranos (5-13): On the one hand, it's about damned time we had a non-trivial development in this show. On the other hand, did it have to be Tony snuffing out Christopher? I think Chrissy was my favorite character on this show. The way the scene played out was something. For a minute, I thought Tony was killing him to put him out of his misery. (It's extremely likely, given the way they portrayed the accident, Christopher's decision not to use a seatbelt, and the fact he was coughing up blood, that he was a goner.) But as Tracy pointed out when I said this, the glance at the car seat gave the game away. The rest of the episode just kept taking us further and further into the deep resentment Tony had been harboring towards Christopher, which was a little shocking at first but not as much when you consider all the plans and hopes Tony had put into him. From the first season on, it was clear Tony was moving Christopher up the ranks fast, and that he wanted Chris to be his successor. Then came the drugs, Adrianna being exposed as a rat, and the goofy Hollywood hobby. Plus the "unmanly" nature of Christopher's need to stay off the booze. Given all that, it's fair to ask, in retrospect at least, why Tony didn't whack him sooner.... Could we please put a moratorium on the AJ story line? Please. First the stupid romantic entanglement, and now he's fallen in with the type of scumbag kids that make me want to punch my TV set.... How many episodes we got left? Three? I'm putting the over/under on the number of additional primary characters who get killed at 3.5. Place your bets.

House (5-15): This week's episode of House was the first in about a month or so where I didn't find myself sitting on the couch wondering "Why do I still watch this show?" Yes, the plot was the usual paint-by-numbers medical mystery, but the kid who played the patient was such a perfectly evil little shit-stain that I was thoroughly engrossed, wondering if one of the doctors would break down and either poison or strangle him. Also, the ongoing story arc around Foreman's resignation took an interesting turn as we were left to wonder for fifty five minutes or so which of his co-workers scuttled his interview in New York. Turns out it was House, of course, who wants Foreman to stay but can't bring himself to ask him to. My money was actually on Chase. I figure that, without Foreman there to play Alpha Underling, Chase's woeful inadequacy would become far more glaringly apparent to all concerned. (Really: If Chase resigned, do you think anyone would give a rat's ass?) Lastly, as Tracy asked last night, why the hell did they go and turn Cameron into Hoe-bag McIcy, the robot nympho doctor? For the first two seasons she was the wide-eyed, earnest, ultra-sympathetic angel. Are we to believe that her prolonged exposure to House and Foreman has somehow damaged her humanity? (I can't believe she offered to give Foreman a recommendation. This is the guy who gave her the "We aren't friends" speech, although whether that was before or after he injected her with a fatal disease to save his own ass I can't remember. Really, what the fuck?)

Lost (5-17): Let me begin by saying I'm glad Charlie's still alive. Captured by bad guys perhaps (well, I assume they're bad) but alive. I am not prepared for Charlie's death. I like him too much. And, of course, that means I liked this episode, which was Charlie-centric. We got to see more of his past, we got to hear You All Everybody -- would you believe I just went to the iTunes store to see if they had really recorded that song so that I could download it? You should believe it, because I did. -- and we got to see the true extent of Charlie's achingly beautiful love for Claire. I thought his "Top Five Moments in My Life" list was outstanding. So outstanding, in fact, that I plan to make it a QoTM at some point... Looking forward to seeing what happens when Ben and company invade the beach. If Juliet's playing it straight, it should be a bloodbath of Other ass-kickery. That would make me very happy. Of course, that's a very big "If"... No word on Locke's fate besides Ben telling the dude at camp that he had "an accident". I imagine they're saving Locke's triumphant return for the grand finale.

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[2007.05.16 - 02:00 P.M.]

No, not even the threat of being swept away to Munchkin Land by a twister will prevent me from posting my Last Thirteen:

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[2007.05.16 - 12:35 P.M.]

Ruh Roh

Tornado Watch for Weatogue, CT

Urgent - immediate broadcast requested
Tornado Watch number 277
NWS Storm Prediction Center Norman OK
1230 PM EDT Wed may 16 2007

The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a Tornado Watch for portions of

Connecticut
western and central Massachusetts
far southern New Hampshire
far southern New York
northern Rhode Island

Effective this Wednesday afternoon and evening from 1230 PM until 600 PM EDT.

Tornadoes...hail to 1.5 inches in diameter...thunderstorm wind gusts to 70 mph...and dangerous lightning are possible in these areas.

The Tornado Watch area is approximately along and 45 statute miles north and south of a line from 30 miles west of Poughkeepsie New York to 20 miles east northeast of Worcester Massachusetts. For a complete depiction of the watch see the associated watch outline update (wous64 kwns wou7).

Remember...a Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings.

Discussion...severe threat is increasing within this small area early this afternoon...where strong heating and modest instability is already occurring. If storms can remain discrete...shear values are more than adequate for supercells and possibly tornadoes...especially into MA/nrn CT. In addition...damaging winds and isolated large hail should accompany the stronger storms.

Um... OK, then. I will keep my eyes open.

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[2007.05.16 - 12:30 P.M.]

Dancing With The Stars (5-15): You know what the judges needed last night? A set of paddles with 11's on them. This is what happens when you start doling out those 10's too early and too often: You lose the ability to distinguish between a great dance and a really, really great dance. Both of Apolo and Julianne's dances last night were 10-worthy based on where the judges had previously set the bar, right? But then Joey and Kym come out and finish the night with a Jive routine that was clearly the best dance of the night. The upshot? No way to properly reward them. Worse still, because the judges were literally handing out 10's like they were free candy, Joey and Kym's perfect performance ends up with the same score as Ian and Cheryl's "perfect" performance and Laila and Maxim's "perfect" performance.

Why the scare quotes? Here's why: Ian and Cheryl's jive -- the dance where Ian was in the Elvis get up -- left me totally cold. It was way too soft around the edges. Not nearly enough pop and precision. If they wanted to give Ian a perfect score as a going-away present, they should have awarded it to his tango, which he and Cheryl worked to powerful effect. As for Laila and Max, I simply could not see how either of their dances earned perfect scores. Their quickstep was frankly boring -- hard thing to pull off considering it's the fastest dance in the mix -- and their cha cha, while better, exposed exactly the flaw Len pointed out to Laila when he visited their practice session: Laila's tendency towards floppy arm gestures. (How does a professional boxer not have strong, precise arm motions?)

Anyhow, all this carping aside, great round of performances this week. Ian and Cheryl will be missed, but hey, it had to be someone. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Apolo still has one more extra gear he can shift it to for the Finals next week. They've got to overcome Joey's charismatic edge, the handicap the judges are conferring upon Laila, and Len's weird bias against Apolo's style. Tough mountain to climb.

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[2007.05.15 - 05:25 P.M.]

This story from Fridge made me a little sad, somewhat indignant, and, honestly, freaked me out just a bit in that "Shit am I getting old!" kind of way:

Today, on the way to school, Twisted Sister's classic "I Wanna Rock" came on the radio. My kids perked up immediately. "Daddy! The Spongebob Song!" Yes, my little guys, the Spongebob Song. That's how they know it. You can see the finale of the fantastic(seriously) Spongebob movie below. They laughed, clapped and sang along. Rockin' Toddlers!

But before it was the Spongebob song, it was one of the greatest rock anthems of the 80's. And, I'd say one of the best videos of all time. My first concert ever was Twisted Sister opening for Iron Maiden. Your old Dad banged his then four [ed: teen?] year old head and rocked the devil horns hard came home with ringing ears and a couple T-shirts I proudly wore to school the next day.

Not having children, I was unaware of this horrifying and blasphemous act of musical co-optation being carried out by the Spongebob Empire.

I mean... I mean... I mean...

Twisted Sister?

Twisted Fucking Sister? Are now known? To legions of rugrats and protopeople? As the guys who do that Spongebob song?!?!?!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

(Moment of Silence for the small part of me that just died.)

I too, of course, saw Twisted Sister in concert (he revealed, neatly segueing into the Question of The Moment): First opening for Ozzy at the Boston Garden and then headlining a fucking amazing triple bill with Mötley Crüe and Ratt. The latter concert still stands, all these years later, as my favorite concert ever. I mean no disrespect to AC/DC (my favorite individual live band) or to Andrew W.K. (an unbelievable ball of energy live) or to any of the many other great acts I've seen. But nothing will top Sister, Crüe and Ratt at the Orpheum.

Each band was peaking around the time. Twisted Sister and Ratt had come out with Stay Hungry and Out Of The Cellar, respectively, in 1984, and Crüe was still touring in support of Shout At The Devil (1983), so all three groups were in top form. Now take that show to the Orpheum -- an old school theater designed to amplify every pin drop so the guy in the back row of the balcony can hear it -- and just imagine how that sonic environment was put to use by these three metal bands, each seemingly intent on inflicting more permanent hearing loss than the previous one. Fuh-huh-huh-HUCK, Yeah. This show actually decimated the greater Boston area, kicking so much ass that it lead to the Great Boston Ass Shortage of 1984. Never seen anything since that's topped it.

In my recent experience, at least, it's pretty hard to find a good, let alone great, multi-band bill. Most headliners seem to get stuck promoting clear b-teamers or local acts of marginal interest. Hell, the last truly killer three-act show I saw was Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Red Hot Chili Peppers at the RPI field house circa 1992. (That was a lucky break as it was just a few months before the former two broke big.) Of course, I'm not talking about your big festival style tours here. Sure, you can see a lot of good bands at events like Ozzfest, but you've got to put up with a lot of shit too. I'm talking multiple worthy bands touring together and rocking a great show.

When's the last time that happened to you?

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[2007.05.15 - 04:45 P.M.]

Heroes (5-14): Before getting to the rest of the episode, I want to applaud the writers for the sure-fire, first-ballot "One-Liner Hall of Fame" inductee we saw last night: Thompson sneaks up behind Matt, pulls a gun on him and asks "What am I thinking now, Parkman?" only to have Bennett sneak up behind him and answer "Your last thought" before blowing his brains out. That rocked. I'm not kidding, after the mandatory five-year waiting period, that's gotta take its place right next to "Yippe-kay-ay, Motherfucker"... My big question about last night's show is "How long are we supposed to believe Hiro's father spent training him?" 'Cause unless you've got some way of simply downloading the knowlege, you do not become a master swordsman in a couple of hours. Now, my assumption was that Hiro paused time for the duration of his training, but if that's the case why would Ando have already left when they emerged back into the shop? I just found that segment a bit perplexing... Another question: Given Ted's sketchy ability to contain his powers, and the fact that he's already killed at least one person by accident because he perceived himself as under attack, how did he not instantly vaporize Sylar as soon as he realized that Sylar meant to harm him? And I know the real answer is "Because the writers wanted Sylar to have his ability to go nuclear" but still... I like the way that Nicki/Jessica have turned into an actual tag-team, able to hand off control to the appropriate party for a given situation. I also thought it was a nice touch the way they shared with us that Candice is a fatty. In fact, I'm impressed generally with the way they've fleshed out (uh, no pun intended) her character in the last two weeks... Last question: Is Linderman really dead? I loved the way D.L. "killed" him - very nasty - but afterwards Tracy raised the possibility that he might somehow regenerate based on his healing abilities. Only I'm not clear on whether he can heal himself or just others... All set for the season finale next week (loved the money shot at the end with Sylar looking out over the city) and guess what? Tracy and I are going to be in Key West. Normally I would never interrupt our vacation for a T.V. show -- that's what DVR is for, after all -- but I fear we may need to make an exception in this case.

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[2007.05.15 - 12:30 P.M.]

Ever been reading a blog post or an article and a statement brings you up short so violently that you forget to keep reading after you've processed it? That was my reaction when The Plank's Michael Crowley began a post about some spat the Obama campaign's gotten into with the statement:

My biggest man-crush was for former New York Knicks shooting guard Allan Houston...

I mean... Wow... Really?

There are plenty of Jeopardy! categories that I can imagine Allan Houston surfacing in. Can I take "One-Dimensional Players" for $200, Alex? Let's go with "Historically Bad Contracts" for $1000. "Squeezably Soft Knicks" for $800? But "Athletes Who Inspire Man Crushes"? Somehow I don't see Houston's name being on the board for that one.

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[2007.05.15 - 11:30 A.M.]

Christopher Hitchens is an idiot. True, this is not news, but I thought it needed mentioning after running across his piece in Slate yesterday entitled "A Brave Woman Scorned: The campaign against Shaha Riza is the nastiest character assassination I have ever seen."

I have not followed the Wolfowitz-Riza World Bank "scandal" very closely. I know the broad strokes -- that Wolfowitz is being accused of improperly using his position to benefit Riza, a romantic interest of his -- and I know that Wolfowitz is an incompetent, arrogant fool, but that's about as far as my interest takes me. If Wolfowitz loses the top spot at the bank, I will neither shed a tear nor will I be especially thrilled, the latter reaction being ruled out because I'm quite confident he'd shortly surface in some other position of power and influence where he can continue to mismanage his way through life.

What does interest me here are the ridiculous histrionics of Hitchens' defense. We know that Hitchens has sworn a blood oath to defend the Iraq War unto death, but does that oath extend to the war's architects? And moreover, does it extend to defending said architects in matters wholly unrelated to Iraq? I find that rather bizarre.

As to Hitchens' assertion that the media's treatment of Riza is "the nastiest character assassination I have ever seen", words almost fail me. Saxby Chambliss' attacks on Max Cleland weren't nastier? The Swift Boat Liars' vicious, protracted campaign of lies against Kerry wasn't nastier? Oh, but let's take on something that really hits closer to home, given the similar theme of nepotism and the purported agendas of the attacking camps: The Bush administration's outing of Valerie Plame. I would call that both nastier and far more consequential. What did Hitchens have to say about that bit of nastiness? Here's a sample:

I'd go on, but here, you can browse Hitchens' Hits yourself if you like. Suffice to say that you'll find no hang-wringing in there about how Valerie Plame was being mistreated and misused for political purposes, and no scathing criticism of the media for aiding and abetting those responsible for her professional demise. That sort of defense, you see, is reserved for anonymous bank bureaucrats who have the good fortune of being associated with Hitchens' neoconservative soul mates.

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[2007.05.14 - 08:00 A.M.]

Survivor (5-13): Last night's finale gave us a Survivor first: In fourteen seasons, never before has a winner been selected unanimously by the jury. So how did Earl -- not a great player by any stretch -- earn this distinction? Easy. He was going head-to-head with two of the lamest finalists to ever don a buff in Cassandra and Dreamz. Indeed, as the Final Four paddled their way through the obligatory revisitation of eliminated tribemates, I was stunned by how many clearly superior contestants -- hell, clearly superior human beings -- had watched their torches get snuffed out while those two useless idiots moved on all the way to the end. From Yau Man to Edgardo all the way back Sylvia, one worthy opponent after another somehow went home. It was like watching a bad horror movie. Seriously, how does Cassandra -- lazy around camp and useless in challenges -- make it to the final? How does Dreamz -- unabashedly untrustworthy and more often than not incoherent -- make it to the final? Gah. Never before have I been so happy to see a season of Survivor come to a close.

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[2007.05.11 - 07:00 P.M.]

Sun - 7:55 PM: OK, New Rule: No Bouncing Scrums until September. I'm watching ESPN's Baseball Tonight and I've seen no fewer than three Bouncing Scrums of Happy Players. Come on, guys. It's May. Gotta raise the celebration threshold a bit. Deployment of the Bouncing Scrum should be limited to playoff victories or late regular season wins that have playoff implications.

Sun - 6:46 PM: It's in the books: Yanks lose 2 of 3 in Seattle, falling to a fairly whopping -- Can something be "fairly whopping"? I think so. -- eight games behind the first-place Sox. Dark days indeed. At some point the "Oh, well, it's still early" bit starts to sound like whistling past the graveyard. I don't know if that point has arrived yet, but it can't be far off. What bugs me is that it's no longer just a matter of fixing our pitching. Our pitching hasn't been that bad, hiccups like Wang's Friday start notwithstanding. When I see our bats go collectively cold like tonight, that's what scares me. This team is built around hitting, after all. Ack.

Sun - 5:20 PM: There is no more hideous sight in all of baseball -- possibly all of sports -- than the Bouncing Scrum of Joyous Red Sox Players. Ugh. Here I am watching the Yanks, down 2-0 to Seattle, and I'm thinking "Well, the Sox are going to lose so the worst we can do is hold." Then I look at the scoreboard and see that Baltimore Closer Chris Ray, who took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, has given up one run and loaded the bases. Sure enough, he flushes the win, losing 6-5. Unbelievable. Gotta hand it to the goddamned Sox: They're having a charmed season right now. Everything that can break their way is breaking their way.

Sun - 8:45 AM: Couple of Yankees notes: Matt DeSalvo picked up his first win in the majors last night in Seattle, helping the Yankees to avoid falling eight games out of first. Derek Jeter (.376) and Jorge Posada (.369) are now #1 and #2 in the AL batting race. Oh, and a memo to Major League Baseball: West coast teams hosting east coast teams should never be playing a night game on a Saturday. There's just no reason for it.

Fri - 7:00 PM: Herewith and hereforth, readers, is thy weekly thread into which thee may deposit thine thoughts related to the bases and the bats and the balls. (I don't know if "hereforth" is a word. I suspect not, but I've got a buzz and don't really care.)

Mediocre week for the Yanks, especially the big loss to Texas yesterday. Sure, one can rationalize it by saying Texas was due to win one against us sooner or later, but man. 14-2 against Mr. Wang? I guess that sinkerball turned into a stinkerball, at least for this outing. No worries about the Ace, of course. Wang has had games like this and bounced back nicely. Just wish we could have made up a little ground against the soft, tender meat the schedule is offering us at the moment.

Also, it would be nice if the Red Sox could maybe lose a game at some point.

For those who are interested in the fate of my fantasy teams -- and really, who isn't? -- Angelos and I are in a tight head-to-head match in the Blue State Baseball League, with his Shaved Beavers currently leading my Hell's Bells squad 200.67 to 198.5. With three pitching starts left apiece, this could easily come down to late Sunday night. Meanwhile, after an all-too-brief stay at the #1 spot in our Phi Sig rotisserie league, Riff Raff succumbed to perennial champ Fridge's Frigidaires, slipping back into second. (Long season, though, and my day looks like it's finally scheduled to arrive this year.)

Anyhow, tawk amongst yuhselves.

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[2007.05.13 - 11:45 A.M.]

Carlton Farms Canadian Style Bacon: This is the first Canadian-style offering I've received from the BoTMC. Now, usually I'm not a huge fan of Canadian bacon. In my experience it's basically ham jerky - lean, tough, and too chewy. Carlton Farms' rendition of the style, however, is far superior to what I've had in the past. It's quite tender and fatty in the middle -- much fattier than any Canadian bacons I've had previously -- with enough crispness around the edges to keep things interesting. There's no flavoring added here, which is fine as the taste of the meat is great on its own. Rating: 3.5 Pigs out of a possible 5.0.

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[2007.05.13 - 10:15 A.M.]

Survivor: (5-10) Have to hand it to Yau Man: He's a weird little dude but he's clearly got the biggest brain on the island at this point. (Not that there's a ton of competition in that category.) Somehow, he sniffed out which way the wind was blowing at tribal council this week and played the immunity idol at just the right time, sending Stacey home in his place. My only criticism of his game play is that, in the deal with Dreamz for the truck, I'd have asked for more. I'd have made Dreamz promise not to write my name down all the way to the final three. Still, just coming up with the idea to trade Dreamz the truck for future considerations was a masterful stroke. (Not that one could really picture Yau driving around in a Ford F-350 Superduty anyhow, of course. I bet he drives a Prius.) So, OK. I guess I'm now tentatively rooting for Yau. There's still something a little off-putting about him, but compared with the rest of these schmoes he's certainly the best player.

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[2007.05.12 - 04:45 P.M.]

Can you hear that? Close your eyes and concentrate. ("Help me...") That is the blogosphere itself, calling out to me, begging me to heal the psychic wound it suffered yesterday when Matt Yglesias committed his wanton act of beersphemy. I hear you, oh blogosphere. Help is on the way.

Let's do a little beer blogging.

We begin with Georg Schneider's Wiesen Edel-Weisse, an organic hefeweizen from Schneider-Weisse, who bills it as "the Champagne of weissbiers". Funny story: This beer has been sitting in my fridge since last Spring. I have no idea why. Usually the only time a beer stays in my fridge that long is if it's some horrid mass-produced domestic my brother-in-law brought over. But somehow I never got around to this bad boy. Every time I wanted to drink it I wasn't in the mood to blog, and I wasn't about to leave this beer unblogged. Then Winter came, and I don't normally drink weissbiers in the Winter. Anyhow, here, at long last, we are.

The Pour: This beer develops a ginormous head -- we're talking 4 inches here -- of effervescent foam. The bubbles in it are huge, and you can hear the hiss and sparkle of them as the head quickly dissipates. Scents are lemon and grass with a wisp of floweriness. The body is golden wheat and quite cloudy. Visual carbonation levels in the glass are extremely robust.

The Taste: There it is, that big, sweet and sour hit of light, lemony delicious malt right up front. All the scents from the head fill up your mouth as you swish this brew around. There's a bit of citrus in the mix as well. The hops here are subtle and generally stay hidden until the aftertaste, which is long and pleasant. The real beauty of this beer, however, is in the body. It is celebratory in its lightness. It is vivacious. The high carbonation levels lead to a mouth feel that seems to actively burst as your drink it, like the beer answer to Pop Rocks. Perfect delivery system for the zingy, tart flavors. There's a tiny trace of stickiness here that gets left on your lips, but nothing overwhelming. Not a hint of the 6.2% ABV comes through in the flavor, which could be dangerous if you were having more than one of them. (At the boutique price of $3.99 a bottle, you're probably not.)

The Verdict: God, I love a good weissbier. Talk about a style that's perfectly wedded to it's season. As barleywines, with their warm, heavy calm, are the perfect beer for the dead of Winter, hefeweizens -- all zip and zing and excitement and lightness -- are the harbingers of Spring. And what we have here in Georg's Edel-Weisse is a very good rendition of the style. Quality stuff.

Rating: 9.0

We return now, for the penultimate time, to the Chemist Gift Pack, for a look at Karl Strauss Brewing's Red Trolley Ale.

The Pour: Red Trolley arrives at Glass Station with a medium sized, fluffy head that is gone after only a minute or so. Aromas off the top are caramelly. The body is new copper penny in color and carbonation levels in the glass are to the weak side of medium.

The Taste: Nice balance here. The malt and hops present themselves as a couple. The former offer a big blast of the caramel hinted at in the head as well as a hint of nut and a strong suggestion of fruit - maybe apple or strawberry. The latter give off a nice bitter note, reminiscent of a stronger ale, and lend a sharpness to the proceedings. The body is nice and robust, suggesting a big, full-on ale. The Aftertaste is medium in length, and mostly presents in a bittersweet note on the underside of the tongue. %ABV is not advertised on the label, but I'm feeling something in the 4.5-5.0% range.

The Verdict: This beer has all the characteristics of a solid pub beer, but it's got a bit more flair in the taste department. Nice combination of drinkability and character.

Rating: 7.0

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[2007.05.12 - 03:30 P.M.]

I have a question: Anyone ever notice those two tiny divots in the roof of your mouth? Very close together and right near the center ridge of the palate? What the hell are those? Do they go into your sinus cavity? I Googled stuff like "holes roof mouth sinus" but I couldn't find anything relevant.

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[2007.05.12 - 01:00 P.M.]


Ride Time: 1:51:58

Distance: 24.9 Miles

Average Speed: 13.3 MPH

Max Speed: 34.7 MPH

Water Consumed: .7 l

Leaks Taken: None, sadly.

Emissions: 2.2 SRPM

Perfect cycling weather today, and with Tracy having to work this morning I decided to go out and beat myself up a bit. Not a bad little ride, with the exception of one major hiccup. See that average speed of 13.3 MPH? Putrid, huh? Yeah, well, not when you take into account that I had to walk my bike for about 20 minutes after the paved trail I'd been riding on unexpectedly became very unpaved. (See item C on map.) I think the whole "Rails to Trails" thing is one of the best initiatives ever, but while I realize development is sometimes slow and proceeds on a "budget-permitting" basis, it sure would be nice if they finished entire segments at a time, as opposed to, say, letting a guy with a road bike get a mile deep into the forest before yanking the asphalt out from under him.

Points of Interest

A: Strangely, the town engineer has yet to respond to my request to install a "bike lift" running from the valley up to West Simsbury. This sucks, as pretty much any time I want to ride west I've got to start out by pummeling my knees.

B: Took a break here to hang out on the footbridge in Collinsville, easily the most picturesque spot on the ride. Collinsville has come a long way in the past few years actually. Lot of renovation, lot of cool little shops. Even saw a nice looking tavern I'd like to pop into.

C: Yeah, so like I was saying, sudden cessation of pavement is so uncool. My tires can handle a mile or so of dirt if need be. Gravel? Not so much. Being a stubborn idiot, however, I eschewed the option to backtrack to the trail's last egress point and instead hoofed it. After twenty minutes of that shite -- during which I seriously considered slinging my bike over my back and climbing the embankment up to the road -- I finally arrived at an access point that led to freedom. Oh, and at the end, I was singing to myself "On a road again. I just can't wait to get on a road again..."

D: Saw that the trail was back to paved at this point and decided to follow it. That lasted about 1/2 mile before I was greeted by another "unfinished" segment. (At least it looks like they're working on this piece, which should connect up to the spur just south of Unionville.)

E: Ahhhh! Suicide Chipmunks! Two of these little fuckers ran out right in front of me in the span of a minute. I think I might have clipped the second one's tail.

F: This stretch of the trail is part of the Farmington Valley Greenway, which is in turn part of the East Coast Greenway, which should eventually allow me to bike all the way to Florida. (Which would be pretty freakin' cool.) Oh, this stretch of the trail is also arrow-straight and perfectly flat for about 8 miles, which means I get to go to my tall gear up front and engage the warp drive.

G: As I approached the terminus of this segment of trail, I rode up behind another cyclist who had what appeared to be a small backpack on. Only it wasn't a backpack. It was HER HAIR!!! Ahhhh!!!

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[2007.05.12 - 12:05 P.M.]

Yes, there is something weird going on with Haloscan. Comments are showing up in the recent comments widget, and they are showing up in Haloscan's control panel, but they are not displaying in the actual comment window. I assume they will have this fixed soon...ish.

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[2007.05.12 - 09:00 A.M.]

Smallville (5-10): Better show this week than last week's silly Noir episode, but in terms of advancing the story line we're still moving at a pretty sluggish pace. The opening scene in the underground lab was so reminiscent of last month's show where we meet the wife of this week's guest star -- re-engineered "super soldier" Wes Keenan -- that for a moment Tracy and I thought it was a repeat. Yes, we know Lex is building an army of meteor-enhanced soldiers. Get on with it already. I dunno. I go through phases with this show. Sometimes it makes me cranky, sometimes I love it. It just seems to me that, since Green Arrow took a leave of absence, things have stagnated. Speaking of Mr. Queen, we did sorta meet him briefly last night during the latest animated "Smallville Legends" clip that they slipped into the commercial break. I like these little comic-book asides, but memo to the producers: You need to slow 'em down. At regular speed, they are unfollowable unless the viewer is on meth. (We figured out last night that if we use the magic of DVR and watch them at half-speed, however, they're both informative and enjoyable.)

Supernatural (5-10): Part One of the season finale of the Best Show You're Not Watching is in the books, and it was a doozy. Sam and Dean's yellow-eyed tormentor transported Sam and a handful of his other "gifted" potential proteges to a ghost town in South Dakota where they were induced to battle against each other cage-match style. The "winner" of this little competition gets to be the general who will lead the Demon's army when he tries to take over the world (or destroy it, or whatever he's got planned). Sam, seemingly ever doomed to fight against the fate the Demon has planned for him, seeks to unite his peers to thwart this scheme but, weak (and in one case evil) bastards that they are, they cave, playing right into their assigned roles. At one point, the Demon takes Sam aside and, in an odd attempt to endear himself to his "favorite" gifted youth, shows him that his mother's demise was an unfortunate but necessary act of tidifying after she walked in on Sam's demonic baptism and not a case of random malice. (Great recruiting gambit: "Kid, I only burned your mom to death on your ceiling 'cause I was afraid she'd talk! I'm not a bad guy, really!") We part with Sam as he walks away from super-strong army dude, having refused to kill him, and just as Dean arrives on the scene with a dependable hunter buddy in tow. Suspense killing ya? It ought to be. Next week, tune in for the Big Finish. Or, alternatively, read about it here.

The Office (5-10): As episodes of The Office go, "Beach Day" had pretty much everything going for it. The comedic highlight, of course, was Andy helplessly floating off into Lake Scranton in his inflatable sumo outfit. The shot of him drifting by in the distance as Michael wonders aloud where he disappeared to was just priceless. As much as the typical over-the-top goofy stuff dominated the show, however (I loved Crede's metamorphosis into Dunder Mifflin's own version of John Locke), the killer moment was Pam walking the coals and then blurting out to her assembled office mates that 1.) She felt underappreciated and ignored by them, and 2.) Oh, by the way Jim, I cancelled my wedding for you. I mean, it was just another example of how, every now and then, this absurdist comedy can sucker punch you with a surprisingly human moment. Lastly, one question: What on Earth is Michael's hangup with Toby? Why does he loathe him so? Is it just because he works for HR?

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[2007.05.11 - 07:00 P.M.]

Herewith and hereforth, readers, is thy weekly thread into which thee may deposit thine thoughts related to the bases and the bats and the balls. (I don't know if "hereforth" is a word. I suspect not, but I've got a buzz and don't really care.)

Mediocre week for the Yanks, especially the big loss to Texas yesterday. Sure, one can rationalize it by saying Texas was due to win one against us sooner or later, but man. 14-2 against Mr. Wang? I guess that sinkerball turned into a stinkerball, at least for this outing. No worries about the Ace, of course. Wang has had games like this and bounced back nicely. Just wish we could have made up a little ground against the soft, tender meat the schedule is offering us at the moment.

Also, it would be nice if the Red Sox could maybe lose a game at some point.

For those who are interested in the fate of my fantasy teams -- and really, who isn't? -- Angelos and I are in a tight head-to-head match in the Blue State Baseball League, with his Shaved Beavers currently leading my Hell's Bells squad 200.67 to 198.5. With three pitching starts left apiece, this could easily come down to late Sunday night. Meanwhile, after an all-too-brief stay at the #1 spot in our Phi Sig rotisserie league, Riff Raff succumbed to perennial champ Fridge's Frigidaires, slipping back into second. (Long season, though, and my day looks like it's finally scheduled to arrive this year.)

Anyhow, tawk amongst yuhselves.

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[2007.05.11 - 05:00 P.M.]

It's Friday afternoon. It's quittin' time. The windows are open, a warm, moist breeze blowin' in. Got the iTunes kickin' it party shuffle style. Got a glass of whiskey by my hand. It must be time for... Eggs! No, that's not right. How 'bout... Bacon!!! No, no, no. Wait a minute, wait a minute: I've got it. Is it time for Slices of Toast!?

Why yes. I believe it is.

Let's start with the Iraqi parliament's decision to take a two-month recess -- "Vacation" maybe? Can anyone physically located in Iraq honestly be said to be on "vacation"? -- starting in July. This plan has certain precincts of the American political/media scene all up-in-arms at the audacity of those irresponsible Iraqis. Connecticut Representative Chris Shays had this to say:

"If they go off on vacation for two months while our troops fight -- that would be the outrage of outrages."

I agree, it is outrageous. I mean, what kind of fucking asshole takes a two-month summer vacation when there's a war going on and the stakes are so high? Oh yeah...

(Slice Track: Weezer - Buddy Holly)

slices

So I'm listening to this week's Science Talk (a weekly podcast from Scientific American - possibly my favorite podcast) and the host, Steve Mirsky, is interviewing Charlie Bamforth, the Anheuser-Busch Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at U.C. Davis. Bamforth is a professional chemist by training, and about two minutes into the interview Mirsky asks him:

"At what point in your chemistry education do you commit to beer as your life?"

And I just start cracking the fuck up, because I'm sitting here thinking "How long until somebody asks Chemist that question?" Actually, I think he should look this dude Bamforth up and see if he can get into a mentoring program.

(Slice Track: Tom Tom Club - Genius Of Love)

slices

Speaking of beer, I started reading Matt Yglesias' blog a few weeks ago. Matt is considered one of the premiere bloggers over here on the left, and since Google Reader has increased my blog reading bandwidth to dangerous proportions I decided to give him another look (I'd read Yglesias off and on when he was at TAP and he always seemed too wonky, but he's a solo act now). Lo and behold, I find myself enjoying his stuff. But then, today, I come across this nugget of anti-wisdom in a post titled "Confessions of a Former Beer Snob":

"Budweiser is great. I used to drink fancy beers. Indeed, I still drink a fancy hefeweizen now and again. But a Bud is a solid choice and most microbrew stuff is crap."

And I'm like [does Jon Stewart rubbing-of-the-eyes pantomime] "Bwuuuuuhhh???"

I can see drinking Bud at the stadium or at a cookout out of desperation and/or lack of alternatives. I can see declaring Budweiser "not bad" in a generous moment*. But declaring Bud a "solid choice"? No, I think not. And then further compounding that sin by casually smearing the legions of skilled craft brewers our country has been blessed with as producing "crap"? Are you shitting me? (And "fancy hefeweizen"? Dude, a triple-fermented Belgian or a barleywine is "fancy". Hefeweizens are a common warm-weather style of beer.)

To embrace Budweiser is bad enough, but dismissing microbrews just shows that you don't really like beer.

Update: This is priceless. A commenter named Tizzod just responded to Matt's post with:

Sort of like how David Broder is afirst rate reporter and most bloggers are know-nothing dirty fucking hippies sitting around in their pajamas. Good one.

(Slice Track: Kiss - Hard Luck Woman)

slices

Last Sunday 60 Minutes did a piece on what just might be the single stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard of: The "Stop Snitchin'" campaign.

A cancerous outgrowth of hip-hop culture, the idea behind "Stop Snitchin'" is to discourage people -- primarily inner-city youths -- from cooperating with the police under any circumstances.

Now, look, I can understand the whole gangsta code thang (based on the mafia code) that you don't rat out a member of your crew. Not saying I agree with it, but I understand it. I can also certainly understand the distrust of the police that underprivileged minorities feel. I watched the Rodney King beating. Hell, I even sing along with Fuck Tha Police. But refusing to cooperate with the police under any circumstances as a matter of "principle" is bat-shit insane.

You might have caught a replay of a clip from the 60 Minutes feature on Jon Stewart's show this week. In it, rapper Cam'ron declares that, even if he knew a serial killer was living next door to him, he wouldn't report it to the cops. He was, of course, responding to a reductio ad absurdum from Anderson Cooper, but by actually embracing it - answering in the negative - he comes off as a world-class imbecile. Frankly, if that's his attitude, I hope a serial killer does move in next door to him.

FSM knows that the police can be some corrupt motherfuckers, and that many individual officers fall prey to the temptation to abuse the power of the badge and the gun. You know what though? They're also, in many cases, what stands between civilization and the lack thereof. The answer to police corruption is to fix the police, not walk away from them.

(Slice Track: Oasis - Rock And Roll Star)

slices

On a lighter note, Deadspin's AJ Daulerio may have just penned the funniest description of the prostate gland you'll ever read:

I still think of it like this magic button that rests deep inside your rectum that, when pushed, triggers a geyser-like spooge able to shatter glass. You know, kind of like the turbo boost button.

(Read the post. The context is hilarious in its own right.)

slices

John Howard strapped on the blogger stunt balls today to ask a question that I have long wondered about myself but never given voice to on the blog: What's the deal with "Hate Crimes" legislation?

I'm sure this makes me a bad liberal, but I just don't get hate crimes legislation. Now, I'm 100% completely and totally in favor of rights for everyone, including any and all minorities, and even "enemy combatants" (though that's another topic). What I don't understand is why a hate crime is any worse than the exact same crime committed for different reasons.

If someone is stabbed or shot or beaten because they are black, a woman, gay, or whatever, that's terrible and I think the person who did it should be punished severely. However, if I get stabbed or shot or beaten, just because someone wants my wallet, or my car or whatever, I think that's just as terrible, and I want the person who did that punished just as harshly as the person in the first case.

Not only do I agree with John's point, but I've frequently used the exact same example* -- some random dude killing me for money -- to make the point: Violence is violence. Murder is murder.

I am not an expert on Hate Crimes legislation. There may be some technical aspect to these laws that evades me. But to the extent that they punish equivalent actions based on motive rather than results, I have a problem with that.

(Slice Track: Disturbed - Liberate)

slices

Let's lock this edition of Slices down with a boot to the head for one Mr. George Steinbrenner. No, he didn't fire Torre. No, he didn't force Cashman to trade Phil Hughes for some once-great-but-now-on-the-decline stud pitcher. No, it's this:

The most patriotic moments at Yankee Stadium can also be the most confining.

Seconds before The Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America are played, police officers, security guards and ushers turn their backs to the American flag in center field, stare at fans moving through the stands and ask them to stop. Across the stadium’s lower section, ushers stand every 20 feet to block the main aisle with chains.

As the songs are played or sung, the crowd appears motionless.

Listen up, George: Encouraging a little respect for the Star Spangled Banner is OK in my book. (Enforcing it is not.) But dude, you have got to get this God Bless America shit out of your system. Not only is it not our national anthem, not only does it suck moose cock as a song, but the observance of said song in even a pseudo-official patriotic way is fucking offensive to non-believers like myself. And yeah, even us godless heathens can still love baseball.

I get it, OK? Yankees, New York, 9-11, blah-diddy-fucking-blah. Get over it. Our team is the last one left in the league still engaging in this repulsive (and fake) 7th-inning-stretch "tradition". Please, take Kate Smith and that fuckin' weird dude who sings the phony extra verse and put them in a closet in your Tampa mansion somewhere.

(Slice Track: Sum 41 - Billy Spleen)

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[2007.05.11 - 12:30 P.M.]

Lost: Holy Mother of Fuck, what a wild episode. OK, in order of importance: Locke cannot be dead. Locke is the Island's Chosen One, so he can't be dead. (And if he does "die" he has to assume some Obi-Wan-esque role, inhabiting the place in semi-corporeal form.) Funny thing about the way those last five minutes went is that, as Paul pointed out in an email, "Just when Locke appeared to have completely transformed back into bad-ass-take-no-crap John.... BAM!" Yes indeed. BAM. Pulled the rug right out from under us. And it wasn't just the way they played Locke up; they also started to make you think maybe Ben wasn't All That, portraying him as having lost the upper hand and maybe just being a bit crazy, which leads us to... Jacob! Four options here (at least) as I see it: 1. Jacob actually exists as some sort of independent entity, 2. Jacob is the Island, literally a manifestation of its personality, 3. Jacob is an externalization of some island-related power that Ben has, or 4. The phenomena that Ben calls "Jacob" and that they both witnessed is actually just another island-induced hallucination of some kind. Whatever the hell Jacob "is", he scared the crap out of me... Ben's back-story was awesome. I was unsure what, exactly, the Dharma Initiative was, but "Hippie Scientific Commune" was not high on my list. Namaste indeed. And just think of quiet, nerdy Ben patiently waiting all those years to betray the Dharma geeks on behalf of the Island's "original inhabitants" (of which we know virtually nothing, of course). My favorite bit from this was the way they tied in Ben's pre-patricide moment with his douchebag dad to the Hurley/VW Minibus episode. Well done... The one weak spot in the episode was the goings-on back at the beach. Sawyer confronts Julianne with the tape and, what? She reveals that she already told Jack about the Others' plans? Weak and anticlimactic. Still don't trust her anyhow. That aside, great episode. I can't help but think that the writers heard the complaints of the masses last fall and decided to throw this show into high gear again.

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[2007.05.10 - 01:00 P.M.]

Do you know what sucks about working from home?

Absolutely nothing.

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[2007.05.10 - 11:15 A.M.]

You know how you really want to do Good Works -- Stuff that makes a difference? Stuff that'll help you earn your Good Liberal Merit Badge? -- but it's hard. Hard to volunteer for shit, too expensive to buy a hybrid car or install solar panels, too damned time consuming to write or call your representatives about Issue XYZ? You know what I'm talking about? Well here's something wicked easy that you can do:

The National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) announced [on February 21st] that the nation's largest food drive to combat hunger will be conducted this year on Saturday, May 12 in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions. On that day, letter carriers will collect non-perishable donations as they deliver mail along their postal routes.

..

Residents will be asked to leave non-perishable donations—such as canned meat, fish and soup, and cereals, pasta and rice—in a bag near their mailbox on Saturday, May 12 before their letter carrier arrives. It will be taken to the local post office and then delivered to a local food bank, pantry or shelter.

I mean, really, I think even I can manage to schlep a small bag of cans out to the mailbox. And I am the King of the Lazy Bastards.

(Hat Tip: All Spin Zone)

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[2007.05.10 - 09:30 A.M.]

Let's kick off a new post series here, cataloging one of my favorite subjects to harp on, annoying pronunciations. I'm listening to the Mike & Mike podcast from yesterday, and we just had back-to-back cringe inducers:

1. Jason Stark keeps referring to Roger Clemens' hometown as "Youston". It's "Houston", you dork.

2. Chris Broussard just informed me that LeBron James is "Matooring". Is that anything like "Machuring"?

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[2007.05.10 - 09:15 A.M.]

Survivor (5-3): I so wanted Alex to shinny up that damned pole and get immunity. Not because I particularly like Alex, but simply because I wanted to see the Alliance Of The Lame somehow get broken, somehow get shaken up. Dear FSM in his heavenly pasta bowl, I have never seen a more boring, unlikable, unhateable, just plain uninteresting group of people make it this deep into a season of Survivor. I am in awe of their blandness. Now that Alex is gone, I'm left pondering Who I Want To See Win, and you know what I'm coming up with? Nada. I don't fucking care. Ah, screw it, I'll throw in with Boo. Sure he's big and dumb, but he's at least marginally more substantial as a person than the rest of that crew. Earl? Earl annoys me. He seems to think he's a playuh, a manipulator, a Survivor Mastermind. And he's so not. It's like he's falling into a win here. Yau Man? You'd think he'd be a favorite -- I do give him props for his wily engineering skillz -- but he's just... skeevy. Stacey is a See You Next Tuesday if ever there was one. Dreamz is extraordinarily annoying. It's like he has ADD, the way he switches from one impulse to another over the course of a single episode. And lastly, Cassandra seriously gives me the creeps. She's like an ugly version of Jasmine from Angel, all plastic smiles and fake friendliness. Gah! I can't believe one of these freaks is going to walk away with a million bucks. Worst. Season. Ever.

House (5-8): The funny thing about this whole "Foreman wants to quit because he's afraid he's turning into House" story arc is that Foreman is a bigger dick than House ever thought of being. Seriously, who would you rather hang out with, House or Foreman? Yeah, thought so. It's ludicrous for a selfish, humorless prick like Foreman to be holding himself up as too good to stoop to House's behavior. Bitch, please. You're the same guy who deliberately infected Cameron with something you thought was killing you in order to spur her to help you out. You're the same guy who hadn't been home to see his parents in, what, ten years? You tell Chase "I don't like you... I'm never going to like you" as he's reaching out to you? Fuck, I don't particularly like Chase either, but you don't have to be a douchebag to a co-worker like that. And yet you're concerned that House is too cold and inhuman and you're turning into him. Dude, becoming like House would be a huge step up for you. Oh, yeah, the episode: Some girl came in with a weird infection and House had an epiphany with ten minutes left to go in the episode and figured out what it was being caused by.

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[2007.04.09 - 06:45 P.M.]

Dancing With The Stars (4-7/8): To give you an idea of how emotionally invested I've become in the outcome of this show, seeing Joey Fatone standing in that cone of red light during the results show last night almost gave me an anxiety attack. Alright, that's an exaggeration, but let's say a mild case of agita. Seriously, I wish the producers would unveil to us the exact weighting system they use to combine the audience's votes with the judges scores, because it is a fucking mystery to me how Joey and Kym -- ranked an appropriate #2 by the judges behind god/dess-like Apolo & Julianne -- wound up fighting for their dancing lives against Billy Ray and Karina while Ian & Cheryl's good-not-great performances put them in the clear. Now I'll grant that there were moments in the Fat One's routines this week -- actually just the Mambo; I thought his Waltz was perfect -- where he seemed a little lead-footed, a little slow, but nothing to justify putting him in the bottom two. He survived, though, and that's what's important, because this show has to come down to him and Apolo. Nothing against the occasionally inspiring Leila Ali, but she's not quite in their league. Apolo & Julianne nailed both the Foxtrot and the Mambo, but I've got to ding them for their song choice on the former: Jesse's Girl? C'mon, guys, that was awful. I missed half that routine because I was cringing from the appallingly cheesy inappropriateness of it. Your second musical choice, while oddly based on Clementine, at least sounded reasonably cool, and in no way detracted from a smokin' hot, triple-10-worthy Mambo. (Hmmmm... Apolo's trip-10's came on the Samba and the Mambo. I know he's half Japanese, but might their be some Hispanic blood in those veins?) Eliminated this week were Billy Ray and Karina, but not before a tense moment between Billy Ray and Hugo, who referred to their Waltz as "crap". There was no danger of it coming to blows, but our country boy made it known in no uncertain terms that he found that judgement of his honest efforts hurtful, and I had to sympathize with him. That said, Billy Ray was the last of the also-rans. The semi-finals start next week, and while I've already made clear which two teams I feel should advance, all four are close enough that it's anyone's ballgame.

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[2007.05.09 - 03:00 P.M.]

Last Thirteen:

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[2007.05.09 - 12:30 P.M.]

Executive Summary: A fresh take on Bond that's truer to Fleming's writing than any to date.

Thoughts: When Tracy and I entered the Exchange of Favorite Books phase of our relationship, the first thing she had me read was Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. Having never read Fleming, and having been introduced to Bond in the movies during the Roger Moore era, I was taken aback at how alien Fleming's Bond seemed. His Bond was no master of the one-liner, no suave ladies man. He was all business: Coldly efficient, focused on his mission, and maybe a little tightly wound. Oddly enough, this made him more compelling than any of the bigger-than-life movie Bonds I'd seen. I was quite pleased this past weekend, therefore, to find that Fleming's Bond has arrived on screen.

Daniel Craig's rendition of Bond features a spareness of wit and an almost complete absence of the familiar Bond banter. In its place he delivers a level of gravity, intensity and fierceness that make you lock your eyes on him every minute he's on the screen. His emotional detachment (up until the fateful dropping of his guard later in the film) borders on the cruel. This Bond is deliberate, methodical and predatory. He's also quite disdainful of the cocktail party aspect of the secret agent scene. He is about kicking ass, taking names, and getting the job done; that is all, and, as it turns out, that's plenty.

The story tracks the book very closesly, at least from what I can recall, with the glaring (and somewhat annoying) exception that the writers substituted the ubiquitous Texas Hold 'Em in place of Baccarat. The plot is straight-forward and small-scale, featuring a nefarious underground banker and a ring of arms dealers. The Fate Of Western Civilization decidedly does not hang in the balance. That's OK, though, because the result is a Bond story that is -- hold your breath -- actually believable. Not to say it doesn't have the Bond Staples, of course. There's a love interest, in the form of Ms. Vesper Lynd (but even her role is developed in a way that feels genuine, unlike the superficial decorations most Bond women come off as). There is the requisite chase scene at the beginning (but it's more athletic and gymnastic than usual and less reliant on improbable stunts). And finally there's the scene where Bond is momentarily at the mercy of the Bad Guy, a cringe-inducing affair that will have any men in the audience protectively cupping themselves for the duration.

Verdict: I liked this movie a ton, I'd certainly watch it again, and I'd strongly recommend it to anyone who thought (as I did) that the Bond franchise had become hopelessly stale. There's a new 007 in town, and he might be the best yet. Rating: 8.0 (+)

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[2007.05.08 - 08:35 P.M.]

That was a long-ass drought. What was that, two weeks, Alex? C'mon, dude, you're making me look silly.

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[2007.05.08 - 05:30 P.M.]

Smallville (4-3): You know, I initially thought the reason that I couldn't get a handle on last week's episode, finding it muddled and confusing, was that I watched it half-cocked at the tail end of our Friday evening. I just went back and read a synopsis of it, however, and - surprise! - it wasn't me! The episode, entitled Noir and partially shot in (surprise) a film noir style, really was a mess. The noirish portion of the hour (basically the middle forty minutes) scrambles the relationships between the primary characters in a highly off-kilter fashion (Jimmy and Lana are having an affair?) and casts them in odd roles (Lionel runs a nightclub?). This would be an acceptable indulgence if it somehow related back to the real show's timeline in a way that made some sort of consistent sense. Aside from the word "gardenia", though, I didn't see the connection.

Supernatural (4-3): This, by contrast, was an excellent "alternate reality" episode, especially since, for the first half hour or so, you're really not sure if the alternate reality the Djinn created -- a world in which Sam and Dean's mother is still alive, their father died peacefully in his sleep, and the brothers are not hunters but are estranged -- was real reality or just a projection in Dean's head. Turns out to be the latter. The Djinn, we learn, create and maintain these illusory mental states as a way to pacify their victims while slowly exsanguinating them. Sorta similar to the way the machines pacify and use humans in The Matrix, albeit not on an industrial scale. Anyhow, next week kicks off the two-part season finale, which looks to be a ton of fun. I love this show.

Heroes (4-7): OK, exactly what was all that about with Sylar's visit to his Mom's place? The writers weren't seriously trying to make us feel bad for Sylar because his Mom pushed him too hard, were they? That's so... so... comically sensitive. I'm sorry, but if they wanted to give Sylar even an ounce of humanity, they're about a dozen episodes too late... Best scene by far was when Hiro and Ando are hiding behind the painting and Sylar says "I can hear you", followed by them teleporting and him looking all confused... Whatsername the shapeshifter unveiled a new extent to her abilities, showing that she can manipulate external illusions in addition to managing her appearance. Her threat to Mica that she'd make him see stuff that would "damage him for life" recalled to me that short story from the Twilight Zone movie with the kid who could put people into any television show/scenario he wanted to. Scary shit... Aggravated to see Hiro's sword get broken by Sylar's Grip of Cold. I just hope they don't drag that out into another protracted round of "Hiro loses his powers". And speaking of, help me out on this: A friend at work suggested that Ando, and not the sword, was somehow the key to Hiro's power. He claims that Future Hiro said as much in last week's episode. Anyone else pick up on that or see any evidence to that effect?

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[2007.05.06 - 12:00 P.M.]

The Amazing Race: It could have been worse: Charla and Mirna could have won. When that [badwordforawomansgenitals] ever snagged that early connecting flight and jumped into first I was ready to claw my face off. Luckily, it later turned out that dwarves aren't very good at ocean kayaking. Averted Worst Case Scenarios aside, it was still hard to see Eric and Danielle stride onto that mat and grab the million dollars mere minutes ahead of Dustin and Kandice. Stupid cab driver. I mean, in terms of racing skills, you could argue that those two were the most undeserving of the final three teams. I swear, I can't tell you how many times during this season I sat in awe of just how dumb they seemed. (Actually, I can tell you: It was 43 times.) But whatever. In The Amazing Race, as in all of life's competitive endeavors, the best team doesn't always win. Besides, somewhere, I'm sure the Barbies are still smiling.

Sopranos: Last night's episode was a mixed bag. On the minus side, with a mere handful of shows left, every nanosecond spent dealing with a lovesick A.J. is a nanosecond too many. I just don't care that much about the kid. Never really have. On the plus side, the feud between Paulie and Christopher was great (particularly the part where Paulie does donuts on Christopher's lawn) and the final scene, where a rapidly-coming-unglued Christopher shoots his AA buddy in the head, was the kind of truly shocking moment this show hasn't offered up in some time. That said, I still say they've got to abandon these small-bore episodes that focus on a character or two at a time and give us a big, epic finish that wraps up the New Jersey/New York Mafia saga.

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[2007.05.04 - 08:30 P.M.]

Rocket Sez:
Bite Me, Haters.

Sun - 7:25 PM: Roger Clemens is a Yankee once again. This is a Good Thing. I am pleased by this development. Now, let me first put my issues on the table:

1.) I never liked the way that Clemens "retired" after his last season with the Yanks and then signed with Houston 6 weeks later. I hate when athletes do that. All those tearful farewells at stadium after stadium and then... you keep playing? Really, I'd like to have a law passed that when someone "retires" from a profession they can never participate in it again.

2.) I think the way Clemens has approached the last two seasons -- sitting around and waiting well into the season to decide which club he'll sign with -- is just wrong. I think if you want to play for a major league baseball team during any given season, you should show up at camp the same as everyone else and either finish camp with a contract or then you can be a free agent and play the field. There's just something ethically questionable to me about the way Clemens has approached these last two years. Not his fault, mind you, as the rules allow it. But I'd change something.

OK, that said, the Yankees just signed Roger Clemens. That's huge. Here's my dream season: Yanks wind up in the World Series with a rotation of Wang, Clemens, Pettitte, Moose and Hughes. Clemens and Pettitte get that last Yankee ring together that they should have gotten in 2003 were it not for that flukey Series loss to the friggin' Marlins. Clemens spends five months passing along everything he knows to the next Roger Clemens, Phil Franchise. Following the World Series victory, Clemens rides off into the sunset for good, wearing a Yankees jersey as the Sports Gods intended.

Yeah. That would be nice.

Sat - 9:00 AM: Tracy and I are off to Boston. Enjoy the games this weekend. And Fridge, if you're reading this? I'm calling it now: The Suckleberries are going down to Hell's Bells.

Fri - 8:30 PM: So I'm walking into the living room from the kitchen, Yanks are playing game one of their four game set against the Mariners, and what do I see on the T.V. but Manny Ramirez belting a home run. For a moment, my bowels clenched. Then I remembered that we're not actually playing Boston this weekend.

Why was this clip on? YES announcer Michael Kay and former Yanks pitcher Al Leiter were discussing Ramirez' game-winning homer last night where he waited at home plate to watch the ball sail out of the park and then, slowly, started trotting towards first base with his arms raised. And when I say "discussing" what I really mean is "getting their undies in a bunch". Kay just said that if he was the pitcher he would have gone after him. Leiter's talking about how "disrespectful" it is. It's an honest-to-FSM Joe Buck/Randy Moss moment, and all I can say is, guys, can it. For chrissakes, it's not like Manny started doing a touchdown dance. You ask me, a home run is a celebration-worthy event. We're not talking about an infielder celebrating catching a pop fly; we're talking about a hitter pausing for dramatic effect as he swats a game-winner. Up yours if you've got an issue with that.

OK. So back to the Yanks. Nice three-game sweep there in Texas, even though it was marred by Phil Franchise's injury. If we can take this series against Seattle, it'll do a lot to assuage the pain of April. Pettitte had an OK start yesterday and Moose looked, quite frankly, awesome. We've got another round of young guys this weekend, however, with Rasner and call-up DeSalvo both starting. Wang should be able to pitch tomorrow despite a torn fingernail. And Hughes? He'll be back in a few months. And Haters, when he does come back? He's gonna wreck your shit.

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[2007.05.04 - 05:00 P.M.]

Ah, yes, it's a beautiful Friday afternoon here in the Shire. Work is done for the day. Time to go to Play. And so it is with great pleasure that I give you... Slices of Toast!

Item The First: According to Christopher Hitchens (interview), Karl Rove is an atheist. This revelation is distasteful to me but not altogether shocking. I mean, homosexuals had Roy Cohn back in the day, so I guess we atheists get to have Karl Rove. Still, it does blow my fucking mind a little how people can whore themselves out to those who hold their beliefs in contempt. I don't doubt that contempt goes both ways -- Rove's retort that "I'm not fortunate enough to be a person of faith" drips smarm right off the page -- but still, to be an atheist who deliberately seeks to rile up fundamentalists, dominionists, and other theocrats? That's not just unprincipled, it's dangerously stupid.

(Slice Track: XTC - Season Cycle)

slices

Item The Second: Kevin Drum and I got the exact same score on our SAT's. Kevin reveals this number by way of discussing the insane requirements that today's kids have to meet in order to get into the nation's top colleges:

In 1975, I applied to Stanford, Caltech, and UC San Diego and was accepted by all three. This was no big surprise: I was an A student, scored 1420 on the SAT, attended an NSF math program the summer after my junior year, had two varsity letters, and was editor of the school paper. Not bad! But as near as I can tell, it would barely get me an interview at a place like Stanford or Harvard these days. I suppose I'd still make it into UCSD, but that's about it.

I was an A student through middle school who became a B student in high school and a frequently absentee student in college. I scored a rare two-fer in junior year of high school when the assistant principle summoned me to his office and handed me two envelopes: One containing a notice that I was being kicked out of our school's Honor Society, the other a National Merit Scholar letter of commendation. I played one year of junior varsity soccer before finally realizing that it wasn't the ideal sport for an overweight kid with asthma. Never learned to play an instrument. I was in the Chess Club and I was a charter member and president of the Computer Club. Applied to MIT, WPI and RPI. Was rejected (obviously, given my grades) by the former, and accepted, based largely on my SAT score, by both the latter. If Kevin's take is right, and I have no reason to believe it's not, I'd be going to UMass today or maybe UCLA (University of Charlestown at Logan Airport).

But here's what bugs me. Kevin says at the end of his post:

[W]ho knows. Maybe it's just a trick of the light. But all I can say from reading news reports is that the kids who get into elite universities today sure seem a damn sight more accomplished than me or anyone else I knew back in 1975... I feel like a Neanderthal.

Um, I don't. Not one bit. Frankly, I'm happy that I had space to breathe growing up. I'm glad I sat on the porch cranking science fiction novels instead of doing community service. I'm glad I spent countless hours dorking around on primitive BBS's from my Commodore 128 instead of being on the yearbook staff or participating in student government. I do wish I had done more athletically, but that's with 20 years of distance between me and the asshole jocks who seemed to dominate the high school sports landscape. And I'm damn proud that I never spent a nanosecond prepping for my SAT's. I think it's a grave injustice how much money gets spent by families trying to inflate their kids' digits on that thing. It's a standardized test. Teaching kids how to take it defeats the goddamned purpose of it.

So, Kevin, cheer up. You're probably a lot more well-adjusted -- and just as smart -- as any of these young'ens with their hyper-structured, over-achieving lives.

(Slice Track: Collective Soul - Gel)

slices

I've been to my share of movies on opening night, but opening morning??? Yep, that's when my man Fridge went to see Spiderman 3. Now, the one review I've read so far killed this movie, but I promised I'd wait to see how many couches the World's Greatest Movie Critic gave it. Well, uh... 3.5? (Out of 5.0) And he tacitly admits in the review that there's some Spiderman Inflation going on with that. So figure 3.0 honest couches? Ugh. Think maybe we'll wait for the DVD.

On a related note, in the Slate review, Dana Stevens trots out this old chestnut:

The second Spider-Man, one of those rare franchise sequels that surpasses the original...

You know, as much as that became the CW after Spiderman II came out, I want to officially go on record here as disagreeing with it. I loved the first Spiderman. The second? I could take it or leave it. See, first off, a huge part -- perhaps the best part -- of any superhero movie for me is the "Hero Discovers His (Her) Powers" part of the story arc. I love that shit. That's the part that makes me feel like a little kid, sharing the protagonist's wonder at what's happening to them. On the other hand, your typical sequel has the dreaded "Hero Temporarily Loses His (Her) Powers" plot device. I hate that. Hate it. Find it utterly tedious. So there's the big structural reason I liked S1 more than S2. On top of that is the fact that I thought Doctor Octopus was a preposterous villain, whereas the Green Goblin was better rendered and had a more compelling reason for being a dick.

So there you go. I declare myself president of the People Who Preferred Spiderman I Club.

(Slice Track: Green Day - Boulevard Of Broken Dreams)

slices

Over in the Neighborhood, Mike flagged Entertainment Weekly's list of the Top 25 Science Fiction Movies & TV Shows of the Past 25 Years. Some very excellent discussion ensued in comments, spurring me to do a full run-down of my thoughts on each entry. Be forewarned, this list is pretty shitty in parts. Here goes:

25. V: This miniseries started out really strong. Its ending, however, ranks among the silliest events in television history. I will forever remember that little green baby lizard hand reaching up... and, oh, how I laughed.

24. Galaxy Quest: OK, now this is just insulting.

23. Dr. Who: Didn't care for the original. Haven't seen this new one.

22. Quantum Leap: I only saw a handful of episodes from this show. Nice, fluffy entertainment, but nothing great. Besides, I now harbor a bitter grudge against Scott Bakula for ruining what was probably the last installation in the Star Trek franchise.

21. Futurama: Never saw it, but I feel pretty confident that, while I'm sure it's funny, this has no place in a Top 25 Sci-Fi list. I mean, if this list was from the previous quarter century, would we have the Jetsons on there?

20. Star Wars Clone Wars: Worst inclusion on the list. A freakin' animated Star Wars spin-off? Fuck you, Entertainment Weekly. If you wanted some great animated sci-fi, you should have gone with Star Blazers.

19. Starship Troopers: Never saw it. From what I've heard, I'm not in a hurry to.

18. Heroes: There are those who will say "too soon" to include a show in its first season on this list. And there are those who have issues with including what is essentially a superhero show in the sci-fi genre. I don't care. This show absolutely rocks. If they finish out the first season strong, I honestly think they should let it go at that and encase this single run of episodes in amber in the T.V. Hall of Fame as one of those rare instances of Television Perfection. It is that good.

17. Eternal Sunshine: This is considered science fiction? Um, no.

16. Total Recall: Loved it when it came out, but man does it look dated and silly now. And not in a good, campy way.

15. Firefly: Joss Whedon could probably do a T.V. series centered around the world of competitive knitting and I would still enjoy it. That he decided to do a hybrid sci-fi/western and made it work is an eternal testament to the man's greatness. That it got cancelled after half a season will burn my ass until the last time I ever turn off a television set.

14. Children of Men: Haven't seen it yet, but anything that gets 5 Couches immediately makes my Must See list.

13. Terminator: If I ever get around to expanding the Toast Top Five into a Toast Top Ten, the original Terminator will surely be in the expansion pack. Where II was more your typical Hollywood Big Budget thrill ride, the original was darkly... original. Bonus: Michael Biehn, who played Kyle Reese in this film, also played Johnny Ringo in Tombstone.

12. Back to the Future: OK, there's a pretty high Cheese Factor here, but I enjoyed the shit out of this movie when it came out.

11. Lost: I'd never thought of it as sci-fi before, but sure, I can see that. Last fall I'd have pooh-poohed including Lost on a Top 25 list of any kind. But after this recent half-season? You'll get no more arguments from me.

10. John Carpenter's The Thing: I think I saw this but I think I was too drunk to remember it. No, wait: Maybe I'm thinking of the Blob. I should probably see this again. Or for the first time. Whatever.

9. Aliens: This movie kicked a lot of ass. Great popcorn flick. Loved the scene where Ripley fights the queen in the power-loader cyber-thingy suit (a device which was obviously the inspiration for the Goliath in StarCraft).

8. Star Trek - TNG: Prior to the arrival of BSG, this held Favorite TV Show of All Time honors. I confess that I've never really gone back and watched it in any systematic fashion, so I'm not sure how it holds up to the test of time. (Favorite Episode: Yesterday's Enterprise)

7. ET: Puh-fucking-leaze. Get that kids stuff outta here, bee-yotch!

6. Brazil: Nice surprise here. Don't think I would have considered it sci-fi, but any time I see Brazil get props of any kind I'm happy. I loved this movie.

5. Wrath of Kahn: Best movie of all time.

4. X Files: I remember driving to the video store at 12:30 AM with my ex-wife to pick up the next videotape from season two (?) of this show after they left us hanging on Scully's kidnapping. This was a great show for a while. Unfortunately, the last season or so seemed to collapse under the weight of all the mythology they'd built up, and the movie was pure fucking dreck.

3. Blade Runner: As I said at Mike's place, I think I'm one of the only sci-fi fans on the planet who didn't like this movie. I even watched it several times just to try to understand what all the fuss was about. Nope. Didn't like it.

2. Battlestar Galactica: Last year I declared this my Favorite TV Show of All Time. I'm hoping it holds onto that spot after the latest bizarre season finale, but even if it doesn't, it'll be one of the most kick-ass, hard-core sci-fi shows ever. From a production standpoint, this show sets the bar for realism, something that's usually not a high priority for the genre.

1. The Matrix: Number 2 on the Toast Top Five, and there are times when I think the only reason I don't promote it over Wrath of Khan is out of a sense of nostalgia. Utterly ground-breaking movie. A paradigm shift, if you will. Good thing they never ruined it by making a sequel.

Plenty of omissions. I'd have included the wholly underrated Pitch Black even though, as I noted in the comments at Mike's, it was part of that sci-fi/horror sub-genre that practically eclipsed its parent genre after the success of Alien and Aliens. I think Deep Space Nine featured some of the best sci-fi the Franchise ever delivered, particularly in its final three seasons. Voyager had some extremely good episodes too. Never watched Babylon 5 or Stargate, but on reputation alone I'd put those shows ahead of crap entries like Clone Wars and Galaxy Quest. Oh, and I'm with Maurinsky: Firefly should have easily cracked the top ten. One of the great travesties of T.V. history that that show got canned so quickly.

(Slice Track: Kix - Hot Wire)

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[2007.05.04 - 04:00 P.M.]

Dancing With The Stars: All right, now that the field has been sufficiently narrowed, it's time to run down my rankings of the remaining contestants:

5 - Billy Ray & Karina: Billy, you actually seem like a fun and likeable guy, a fact which is both surprising and problematic. "Surprising" in that I expected you to just be an annoying dumbass. "Problematic" in that your charisma has allowed you to coast way beyond where you should have gone in this competition. Make no mistake, it should have been you going home this week, not J-Rat. Yeah, he's old and dances like a stiff, but he tried. You're young, you dance like a stiff, and week after week you throw it in everyone's face just how little effort you feel like giving this thing. I mean, come on, man. Your line before the waltz where you said you wanted to "showcase" Karina? You must think we're as dumb as I thought you were.

3 (tie) - Ian & Cheryl: Ian, you are the Peyton Manning of this competition. That is to say that your emphasis on control and technical perfection, while extremely pleasing to some (like me) leaves others (like the judges) finding you "robotic". That's a damned shame too. Not being familiar with your acting work, I actually went through the first two weeks of this season thinking you were the professional on your team. That's how polished you look out there. Alas, that polish and smoothness is apparently not what the judges want from the celebrity participants.

3 (tie) - Laila & Maksim: Laila, my opinion of you changes with every dance. I believe it was either the tango or the paso doble where you did the most amazingly graceful routine of the night. Like Bruno (who clearly has a crush on you) I was spellbound. Lately, though, you've been trying way too hard to be sexy, and though I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I've got to tell you: All that hip thrusting and boob shaking with your 6-foot-plus, larger-than-life, professional boxer's body just isn't working for me. In fact it's a little frightening.

2 - Joey & Kym: Joey, every time you take the floor it puts a huge smile on my face. Here comes the Fat One! What's he gonna do next? Your routines have been consistently entertaining, often in completely over-the-top fashion. You're clearly a goof-ball of the first order, which makes you a huge hit in my household. In fact, your flair for showmanship and superior skills would make you my top pick were it not for...

1 - Apolo & Julianne: Apolo, dude, you have got it going on. As much as I loved watching you on the short track in the Olympics I've got to say that this might be your true calling. You move flawlessly, with grace and precision. You exude charisma. And I'm not afraid to say it: You bring the sexy. Throw in the fact that, in Julianne, you've got the hottest partner out there, a woman who's your perfect match both physically and attitudinally, and you are my lead-pipe lock to win this thing. (Yes, I know the judges, Len in particular, went out of their way to knock you off your pedestal. Don't let it get to you. They are just testing your champion's resolve.)

House: Foreman's quitting? Come on, why couldn't it be Chase? Oh well, at least they gave us one interesting development during that hour-long snooze-fest. When the inter-character dynamics on this show become stagnant, as they undeniably have lately, the mind-numbingly formulaic nature of the plots really comes to the fore. I mean, it's getting to the point where I wish they'd do a ten-minute recap each week that cuts out whatever banal medical "mystery" they've plugged into the appropriate spot in the Mad-Lib pad they use to generate their scripts.

Lost: Fucking. Awesome. Episode. One question first, though: How did Locke know that his dad was the man who conned Sawyer's mom? I was under the impression that the Others only had files on the passengers from the plane, so he couldn't have learned it that way. Was the information in Sawyer's file? Anyhow, on to the bombshell of the week: The revelation by the parachute woman that Oceanic 815 was found at the bottom of the Pacific with all the passengers on board deceased. I can think of three possibilities here off the top of my head: 1. She's an Other plant somehow, and she's simply lying. (Remember, they found Ben hanging from a tree too.) 2. She's telling the truth and this is some very elaborate set-up where the Lostians had false memories implanted of being on that flight before being planted on the island as some sort of experiment. (In which case why would they need to bother with a real plane crash? Oh no, I'm confusing myself.) 3. Locke's dad was right and this is some sort of afterlife. People have been speculating as to this scenario since the show's inception, and while it'd be a pretty lame out, you have to allow for it. One way or another, this is the sort of Big Development in the Lost world that turns everything upside down and re-glues you to the screen. Great stuff.

The Office: I'm going to get killed by my female readers for saying this, but I'm with Crede: What's the big deal about a dude showing you his naked self and then running away? I mean, that has to be the goofiest and most harmless "sex crime" imaginable, no? Falling Off The Couch Moment: When Michael puts his hand down his pants and sticks his index finger out his fly. That was just painfully funny in a Going-Back-To-Second-Grade kind of way. Script Perplexity: When Michael says "What, he didn't see Pam? Or Karen From Behind?" Tracy took this to mean that Michael doesn't think Karen is attractive from in front, but that assertion is just preposterous on its face. Loved when Michael was listing the times when he feels good around Jan and he adds "towards the end of having sex." Can't decide how I feel about their break up yet. All in all, though, pretty solid episode.

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[2007.05.04 - 01:00 P.M.]

Someone at the fortune cookie factory has an overdeveloped sense of irony. I shit thee not, this is the message I just received on my "fortune" after scarfing down what had to be a 1,500-calorie helping of Szechuan chicken:

"Regenerate your system through diet and exercise. Save the cookies!"

Nice, pal. Real nice.

(BTW, my lucky numbers are 12, 16, 20, 21, 29 and 35. Please do not use these for a period of one week as they are mine alone and will not work for you.)

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[2007.05.04 - 08:30 A.M.]


Tracy pointed out this wonderfully appropriate juxtaposition of headline and image on the front page to today's Hartford Courant. The headline is from a story about how the military's mental health system is doing a shitty job. The picture is from last night's debate between the GOP's presidential candidates. Separate matters, I'm sure the editors thought, and yet when you glance at that layout it seems to suggest a story the nation's papers should be covering.


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[2007.05.03 - 07:40 P.M.]

I signed up for the Blog Reader Project, which is doing it's annual survey. If you haven't already taken it via another site, by all means, go ahead and take it from mine.

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[2007.05.03 - 12:00 P.M.]

Granting that I've got a highly biased perspective on the matter and that he's probably not looking for my unsolicited advice, I think the worst career move Jonathan Chait ever made was when he decided to start running his mouth about the liberal blogosphere. Seriously, it's just a fuckin' tragedy what's become of the man. In terms of raw ability, Chait is quite possibly the most gifted political writer in the galaxy. His masterworks, The 9-10 Presidency and The Case For Bush Hatred, belong in the Kick-Assery Hall of Fame. Like so many journalists before him, however, the catnip that is the liberal blogosphere made him nutty. He first showed signs of blog-induced asshatitis back during last year's congressional elections when, after essentially signing onto every last criticism of Joe Lieberman that was floating around the 'sphere, he confessed that he couldn't really root for a Lamont win because -- wait for it -- it would be a victory for left-wing blogs. That, my friends, is fucking crazy talk. Possibly the best example of the phrase "cutting off your nose to spite your face" that I've ever run across. Anyway, Chait is at it again this week with a cover story in the current New Republic that seeks to analyze and explain the power of the "Netroots"*. In Chaitian style, it is extremely long, quite engrossing, and eloquently written. It also proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Chait does not have Clue One about what animates left-wing bloggers.

Predictably, the article's generated a ton of buzz. For starters, check out what Avedon Carol and Kevin Drum had to say. I'm not even going to attempt the 10,000-word response that this thing merits -- better writers than I are wearing out their keyboards at this very moment giving Chait the virtual ass-drag he so dearly deserves -- but I do want to make three quick points:

One: Chait repeatedly ascribes to lefty bloggers envy and admiration of Movement Conservatism's political machine. This is an obscenely obtuse misreading of matters. The liberal bloggers I read don't want to build a Left Wing Noise Machine. Not our style. We do, however, want to stuff a giant sock in the Right Wing Noise Machine's gaping maw so that the nation can return to debating politics in a reality-based manner. Likewise, the liberal bloggers I read aren't looking for a left-wing Grover Norquist to lead them. In fact I dare say that most of us, confronted with a human being who possessed Norquist's combination of hideous amorality, political ruthlessness, and delusional psychosis but who happened to share our progressive values (an unlikely creature, but work with me), would absolutley shun that person. Fascism does not fly on our side of the sky.

Two: Chait harps relentlessly on the ridiculous notion that the Netroots cares more about political advantage than they do about the Truth Of Things. Here's a sample (courtesy of Mr. Drum's culling):

[E]stablishing the truth about an idea matters less than phrasing the idea in the most politically effective way....intellectual honesty is deeply alien to the netroots....the netroots critique is [] that the conception of fairness itself is folly....slight whiff of anti-intellectualism in some quarters of the netroots....The netroots consider the notion of pursuing truth for its own sake nonsensical....There is a term for this sort of political discourse: propaganda....the netroots take part in a great deal of demagoguery, name-calling, and dishonesty.

Aside from being incredibly insulting, this assertion is just pure, Grade-A bullshit. If I could point to one single thing that unites every left-wing blogger in the country, sending us all into huge spasms of rage, it is the right wing's penchant for constantly. Fucking. Lying. Indeed, the very emergence of lefty blogs in all our horde-like glory can be seen largely as a spontaneous, organic attempt to reject the constant stream of demonstrable falsehoods that the conservative movement keeps pumping into the national bloodstream day after day after goddamned day. There is a reason so many of us proudly jumped on the phrase "Reality-Based Community". And that reason is that truth is precisely what matters to us. Truth is the very thing we hold most dear, in a way that wingers simply do not.

Three: There's a classic "tell" that lets you know when someone who's yapping about liberal bloggers doesn't know what they're talking about, and that tell is an obsession with Kos. To uninformed outsiders, Kos is more than an example of left-wing bloggers, he Is The Blogosphere. This Kos fixation betrays a fundamental lack of understanding with regard to the blogospheric phenomenon. Yes, Kos is "highly influential". Yes, his million-hit-a-day battleship dwarfs little dinghies like this blog. But in some sense, and I suspect anyone who's blogged long enough will "get" this, there are no true superstars in blogging. There are more popular bloggers and there are less popular bloggers, but there is no one dude who is ever, at any time, the King of Blog Mountain. It jes' don't work that way. That Chait seems to think it does really tells you all you need to know about his grasp of blogging and bloggers.

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[2007.05.03 - 09:00 A.M.]

Atrios, as usual, is right. The correct response from the Democrats to Bush's veto of their Iraq funding bill, both politically and on the merits, is to send the same damned bill back to him again and again and again. And then, if necessary, again. The American people are tired of Bush's bullshit. The American people want the troops home. Or, as Atrios pithily puts it "People hate Bush and they hate his war." So the Dems should ram this bill down his motherfucking throat. (They won't, of course, because they're timid idiots, but that's not going to stop me from recommending it as a course of action.)

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[2007.05.02 - 10:30 A.M.]

Last Thirteen:

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[2007.05.02 - 07:00 A.M.]

OK, so let's review the Yankees pitching woes after one month:

Now before you trot out the old "Hey, injuries happen" bit, yeah, sure they do, but this is absurd.

Update: I'm listening to the Mike & Mike podcast from yesterday morning and SI columnist Rick Reilly is on there talking about the Yankees, and how he's ecstatic to see them in last place, how he needs lead shoes to keep from floating off the ground -- and that's fine, gloat if you must you prick -- but then he goes into the tired, worn-out, pathetic Hater Schtick about how rooting for the Yankees to do well is like rooting for Bill Gates to win the lottery or rooting for Brad Pitt to get laid and - HA HA HA HA HA!! That's so fuckin' funny!!! - and how being a Yankees fan is the trendy thing and how he saw a girl wearing a pink Yankees hat and, like, she's been a fan all week -- And really, dude, what the fuck are you talking about? The only thing "trendy" about the Yankees is being a Yankee Hater -- and recall this isn't your hater on the street talking this is a professional sports journalist from the nation's premiere sports magazine, and so I just want to say to you, Mr. Reilly, from the bottom of this Yankee fan's broken heart: Eat shit and die.

Update II: The Post's Mike Puma captures the agony:

May 2, 2007 -- ARLINGTON, Texas - There's cruelty, then there's what happened last night to the Yankees. Has any 10-1 victory in the team's history seemed so depressing?

There was Phil Hughes, the franchise's future - and from what was evident last night, the present - limping from the mound, the soreness in his left hamstring overshadowing the brilliance he had displayed for 61/3 innings.

The injury cost Hughes his shot at a no-hitter, and the Yankees lost another starting pitcher to the disabled list. Any question why there was a damper, even with the Yankees' recent woes, on this mauling of the Rangers?

Nope. No question.

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[2007.05.01 - 12:30 P.M.]

Heroes: Day-um was that a good episode! Last night Hiro took us five years into the Doomsday Future that unfolds after Peter blows up half of New York City (um, was I the only one who assumed that when Peter blew up he would, you know, blow up?) and introduced us to Future Peter (Grizzled Bad-Ass), Future Parkman (Bitter Psycho Homeland Security Guy), Future Bennett (running an underground railroad for mutants) and future Sylar (masquerading as Genocidal President Nathan Petrelli). Great characterizations all around. I wasn't sold on the idea that Nicki would shack up with Peter after DL and her kid's death, and Claire's storyline was a little dull until Sylar popped her cap, but other than that the hour flew by. Of course the centerpiece of the episode was the double dose of Hiro. They played up the weirdness of present-day Hiro interacting with Future Hiro with masterful subtlety instead of going for the cheap, awkward humor that such time-travel paradoxes are typically milked for. Figuring in Ando's demise as the catalyst for Hiro's transformation from naive optimist to deadly Kendo sword-master was also a nice touch. I confess, I was worried last week about the potential pitfalls presented by this "Back to the Future" episode -- it's the kind of writing stunt that's definitely high-risk, high-reward -- but they nailed it. Finally, a question: We've been warned that "only three chapters remain". Do you get the sense that this might have been planned as a single-season show? Essentially an extended mini-series? Has anyone heard if there are definite plans to bring it back for season 2? Gotta say, as much as I'd miss these characters, it'd be a pretty ballsy move to air a single, tight, self-contained, A+ quality season and then call it a day.

Survivor: (From 4-26) With Mookie gone, sent to the jury on a 4-3 vote after a bizarre bit of strategy from the dominant alliance was screwed up by Alex's inexplicable stab in the back, I'm about ready to throw in the towel. There's not a single compelling personality left here to root for. All we've got are various shades of Bland (Earl, Cassandra, Boo, Alex) and despicable (Stacy, Dreamz). Combined with the mind-numbing, repetitive predictability of the challenges, this has to rank as one of Survivor's worst seasons ever. Without some major shake-ups to the format or -- FSM Forbid! -- the locales*, it may just be that this show has run its course.

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