Monday, January 31, 2005

tv and movies

Okay. Call me a sissy or something like that. I didn't go to the Pedro the Lion show. The weather wasn't even an issue. By mid-day, the temperatures were in the mid 40's, we never got that second round of precipitation, and the roads were never really an issue to begin with. I was just feeling really lazy, and I wanted to lay on the couch. Plus, the old man in me was saying "Hey, dumbass, you've got to work at 7:00 am, so it wouldn't be that clever to go to a rock show in Chapel Hill".

Lucky for me, I got to watch some good tv, some bad tv, and I pulled out one of my favorite movies. Thanks to the wonders of DVR, I was able to watch a show on Discovery Channel about tsunamis while I was recording Arrested Development, then watch Arrested Development while recording a Discovery Channel show about Pompeii and Mt Vesuvius .
Quick analysis is as follows. Tsunami show = awesome. Arrested Development = great. Pompeii = terrible.

Unfortunately, the tsunami show isn't going to re-air, but the crappy Pompeii show is going to be on all month. The Pompeii thing sucked because they wasted about 2/3 of the 2 hour program doing a dramatic interpretation of what happened that day 2000 years ago. The acting was like community theatre, the special effects like a really bad '70s B movie. Overall, that portion of the show looked like a cable access show. Really, we don't give a rats ass about the conversations that may or may not have taken place between the people. They could have made this into a one hour straight up informational, educational piece about volcanoes in general, and this one in specific.

The tsunami show of course had some focus on the recent south Asian tsunami, but it was more broad than that. I learned some stuff about some other causes of tsunami. We're most familiar with those caused by earthquakes, like the recent one, but there are many other causes. The one they wanted to talk about the most was landslides. These are particularly dangerous because they can generate (and have done so) waves of up to 500 meters in height. Yes, that's right. 500 meters high! To you and me, that's more than a quarter of a mile! In contrast, the southeast Asian tsunami, and most tsunamis are about 10-12 meters in height. In July of 1958, Latuya Bay, Alaska experienced an earthquake of about 8.0 magnitude (the USGS says 7.7, some reports say 8.2), and a resulting landslide, which caused a megatsunami believed to have been 1,720 feet high. You can read more than you care to know about that here.

This program proved to be both extremely informative, and enthralling all the same.

Before calling it a night, I popped in one of my favorite movies of all time, His Girl Friday, which I'm sure I could write a book about. Cary Grant's elegance and comic timing, and Rosalind Russell's perfect balance of harsh and soft, somber and hilarious make this movie such a joy to watch. Their chemistry is freakin' amazing. Every time I watch it, I enjoy it even more than the previous time.

I've got three new ones from Netflix on deck for tonight and tomorrow: Knife in the Water, The Philadelphia Story and Some Like it Hot.

Now Playing: Morrissey -- Bona Drag
Morrissey Bona Drag

Sunday, January 30, 2005

i like calling north carolina home, BUT.....

I love being a North Carolinian. I have lived here all my life, and I don't really want to move away. I'm not one of these hillbillies who has never set foot out of my county; quite the contrary. I've been a number of places across this country and a few other countries. Some of them have impressed the hell out of me, but I still like it here.

However, the thing that drives me crazy is the damn ice storms we get. The "Johnny come lately Yankee carpetbaggers" make fun of us because we get our panties in a wad over three inches of snow. I'll admit that folks around here panic about snow, but to be fair, it isn't the snow that really makes us freak out. Unlike our friends above the mason-dixon line, we don't get lots of snow; our winter storms usually involve ice. Lots of it. Ice storm = buildup of ice on trees and power lines = high risk of power outage = old people die, and the rest of us freeze our asses off for three or four days.

I've said before that our restaurant suffers when there is ice. Snow isn't a problem. People love to come out when it snows. Ice, however, sucks. The roads get a little sloppy, and we're doomed. Tonight, for example, the roads have about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice. Not that bad, but nobody wants to leave the comfort of their house. This is a Saturday night, and we only did 105 covers (meals served). To put that into perspective, we usually do 400 or more on a Saturday night, and anything less than 300 is considered dead. This was our worst night ever. Suffice to say none of the hourly employees made any money tonight. Nor did the company. I left at midnight, when there is usually standing room only, and barely even standing room. Tonight there were perhaps 20 people in the whole place when I left. That sucks ass. Oh. Again, a perspective thing... Our capacity is 350. It's a huge building, so only having 20 people in there makes it look really sad.

The positive thing about ice storms is this. You spend 20 minutes scraping the ice from your front and rear windshields while your car is warming up. By the time you're done, your car is nice and cozy. You have purposely not scraped the ice from your windows because you hop in, roll down the windows, one by one. When you (slowly) roll the window down, the ice stays in place, and you can punch the ice away, pretending that you're punching the window out. Maybe it's juvenile, but I get a good kick out of that every time I do it.

I may have to skip out on the Pedro the Lion show tomorrow night. We're supposed to get more ice, all day tomorrow. Since the drive is 45 minutes, I'd really rather not bother if the conditions are less than favorable. Plus, there are some mitigating circumstances which don't bear mentioning at this point. I'll just say that I may have a very good reason to stay in town, but I won't know until tomorrow. You'll probably never know.

Now Playing: Death Cab For Cutie -- You Can Play These Songs with Chords
Death Cab For Cutie You Can Play These Songs with Chords

Thursday, January 27, 2005

winter songs

One of my new purchases the other day turned out to be packed full of surprises.

I didn't really pay attention when I bought the new Matt Pond,PA ep, called Wintersongs. I just saw that it has seven tracks. So I was thinkin' there was no way I could go wrong.

Three original songs, which are all great. Standard Matt Pond stuff; kinda Shins-esque. Actually, the first song sounds so strikingly like it could be a Shins song, that I had to double check the status of my iTunes player. Something about the vocal harmonies, or the way they stack the vocals in the studio. Not really a whole lot to the song, but it really sticks with you. On this record, though, there's not so much cello and violin that they usually use. It's there, but not as prominent. To be frank, I kinda miss it, except on the last track, but I still like this release.

Like I say, three originals. Four covers.
"Winterlong" by Neil Young
"I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight" by Richard & Linda Thompson
"Holiday Road" by Lindsey Buckingham
"In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel.

I didn't even look at the track listing as I listened to the ep the first time, and to be honest, I don't know the music of Richard & Linda Thompson at all, and I don't know enough Neil Young to recognize that track. But the last two floored me. Yeah, its cheesy, but it still makes me smile to hear "Holiday Road". Although the tempo and instrumentation are quite different from the original, I still get the same feeling from hearing this one. "In the Aeroplane...", on the other hand was kind of shocking version. In this track, actually, there is tons of cello. It contrast to the original version, this one has a more pronounced drum track, and the guitar part is played less jangly. The NMH version, although a fantastic song, always seemed creepy to me. I guess part of that stems from the heavy use of the theramin, which the Ponds don't use. I really like this one quite a bit. It makes me smile.

I don't know if you five loyal readers and other visitors know or care about Matt Pond, PA, but I can highly recommend The Nature of Maps. HIGHLY recommend. Give it a spin. Or I will come to your house while you're at work and hold your fabric softener at ransom. If you like "Maps",then you should buy this ep. You can't download it from iTunes, and honestly, Steve Jobs doesn't need your money anyway. Your local independent record shop owner does.

By the way, the spell checker on this thing sucks.

Now Playing: The Apples in Stereo -- The Velocity of Sound
The Apples in Stereo The Velocity of Sound

please don't misunderstand me

I just realized that one of my previous posts might have been misleading.

I LOVE the new Bettie Serveert record. I wasn't lying when I said that I didn't like Log 22. I don't quite dislike it, but I just don't find occasion to listen to or even think about it. This new one, despite having some new faces in the band, is back to basics for them. Less experimental, more Bettie Serveert that I've known and loved since '92. I'll very much look forward to seeing them in Chapel Hill this spring.

Now Playing: Sun Kil Moon -- Ghosts of the Great Highway
Sun Kil Moon Ghosts of the Great Highway

pieces of april

So I had movie night last night and again tonight. I started with Pieces of April , which I didn't really know much about. I knew that Katie Holmes and Oliver Platt were in it, and that was about it. My upstairs neighbor watched it a while back and said it was really good, but I don't really take her movie advice seriously. After all, she thought Van Helsing was (in her words) "like the best movie ever". Granted, I never saw Van Helsing, but what kind of bullshit movie has Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, a werewolf, AND Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Exactly.

I won't give away too much, but I will say that if you haven't already done so, go rent Pieces of April tonight, or put it at the top of your Netflix queue. Now! Katie Holmes isn't really even the best thing about that movie, although she does a good job. Patricia Clarkson is awesome as her mother, Oliver Platt does a good job as the father. Pretty much my favorite, though, was the job that Derek Luke did as her boyfriend. Without giving any details, I'll just say that this movie is funny, touching, and very real. It was done on a very low budget in 16 days with name brand actors, with hand-held digital equipment. In this respect, it's very similar to Full Frontal, which was one of my favorite, and one of the most underrated movies of 2002.
Oh. As an added bonus, there's lots of music by the Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt. In fact, Stephin Merritt wrote a song specifically for the movie. Much of the movie is unscored and has no music, but all of the music comes from Merritt. The Soundtrack is quite nice, and features some otherwise unreleased stuff. Anyway, I really liked this movie, so I watched it again tonight. Interestingly, the second time through, I was mesmerized by different things and different characters.

Seriously. Rent this movie. Today.

Now Playing: Sufjan Stevens -- Seven Swans
Sufjan Stevens Seven Swans

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

oh glorious day!

Today is a glorious day. No, there isn't any good news on the hockey front. Today is just a glorious day because it's Tuesday. Now that we're out of "the holiday season" that means lots of new releases down at the record store.

I did a little studying, and I knew that there is a new limited pressing ep by Matt Pond, PA , and a new long player by Low. Some other things came out, but I'm just not interested. Call me an asshole, or whatever you want, but I just couldn't possibly care less that there are two albums out by Bright Eyes. I have never cared for them, or him, or whatever we're supposed to call Bright Eyes. I realize that this gets me negative indie cred, but I just don't care.

So I go on down to the record store, and actually the first thing I notice on the new release shelf almost made me shit myself. A new record by Bettie Serveert?! Could it be true, or is this some crappy retrospective thing? Happy to say, it's a new record, entitled Attagirl. As much as I love them, I had given up with the release of Log 22 . I didn't like it that much, and it seemed like the end to their gradual shift from rockin' to cruddy. It looks like Carol, Peter and Herman are the only ones to stick with it this long, as they've got some new faces.

Fuck me! As I'm writing this, I'm listening to this new Bettie Serveert, and I notice in the liner notes that the song "Lover I Don't Have to Love" is actually a Bright Eyes cover. What a dumb coincidence! And I like it.

Truth is, I wasn't that excited about the new Low record, but I gave it a preview on the listening post, and I didn't hesitate at all to scoop it up. This time around, they went heavy on the fuzz and upped the rock meter, sort of shifting away from the mopey stuff.

I have a whole pile of movies to watch, and a homemade pizza to eat, so that's gonna have to be it.

Now playing: Bettie Serveert -- Attagirl
Bettie Serveert Attagirl

Monday, January 24, 2005

this annoys the hell out of me

I don't talk about football much. At least not in this forum. But this has really been bugging me.

On Jan 8, the Carolina Panthers let their radio man go. With no notice and no reason. Bill Rosinksi was the only voice the Panthers radio network ever had. 10 years. He was widely recognized as one of the best in the industry, and was one of only a small handful of radio guys actually employed by his team rather than by a radio station. He was everything a good radio guy should be: exciting to listen to, knowledgeable, biased in favor of his team, and a lover of the game. Perhaps he was a little too opinionated, though. He routinely called a bad play a bad play, or criticized players, management and coaching staff. Behind closed doors, he criticized Panthers management for not giving him an NFC championship ring when the Panthers won the NFC in 2003. A poor decision by the Panthers. Rosinski was, after all, a Panthers employee. It's standard practice for all team employees to receive championship rings. He complained about this to Charlotte Observer writer Scott Fowler, who wrote about it. Rosinksi believes that this may have something to do with his firing, and Fowler might feel a little bad about printing it.

Here's my complaint, though. If you want to fire the guy over something like that, then so be it. The Panthers, however, chose to tell Rosinski that they were "going to move in a different direction" and offered no further explanation. They offered no explanation at all to the millions of fans who tune in every Sunday. The team's official website has removed all evidence of Rosinski's affiliation with the team and never made mention of the firing. We deserve some sort of explanation. Rosinski is very good at what he does and will quickly find work with some other team. He will rightfully hold a grudge. We fans, though, will have to suffer through some new guy, or have the moron color guy step up. And he really is a moron. Unintelligent, inarticulate, and completely humorless.
We deserve better.

Now playing: Ivy -- Apartment Life
Ivy Apartment Life

Saturday, January 22, 2005

another indie rock addiction

Alright. Sombody needs to get me some help. I'm hopelessly addicted to Pedro the Lion. I just can't stop listening. In my car, I've been listening to Achilles Heel on infinite repeat for about a week. Right now I am listening to Control . I just can't stop. Lucky for me, they're coming to the Cat's Cradle next Sunday, so I'll be able to enjoy them live.

The weather is crappy today. Freezing rain. They had called for mixed precipitation giving way to clear skies and warmer temps, but that hasn't happened so far. Just nasty ass freezing rain. That means we'll be slow as hell at work tonight. If it snows a foot, we would be busy as hell, but this stuff is just no fun at all. Nobody wants to freeze their ass off just to get a burger and a beer unless they can also play in the snow.

I messed up my rotation, and I won't be getting any more Netflix movies until Monday. Last night, I watched the 1965 version of "Flight of the Phoenix", which lived up to its expectations. I highly recommend it to anyone. Certainly not one of the best movies ever made, but really good nonetheless. I don't see how the new one can be any better, or really even worth the time. I rarely see the point when classic movies are remade. However, that seems to be all Hollywood does these days. Everything is either a straight-up remake, or heavily based on a classic film.

Speaking of which, I guess I am kind of excited about the remake of "Bad News Bears". I think Billy Bob Thornton should be perfect as Buttermaker. However, I think that Richard Linklater might try too hard to make it into a bizarro freaked out thing. I hope it goes well.

Now Playing: Pedro the Lion -- Control
Pedro the Lion Control

Friday, January 21, 2005

pimento cheese, movies, and hockey

I think I'm addicted to pimento cheese. I hadn't eaten a pimento cheese sandwich in many years until I was playing poker at a friend's house two weeks ago, and his girlfriend made me one. I had forgotten how good that stuff is. I went out the next day and bought a lot of it. It would be easy enough for me to make myself, but I prefer to buy it. The deli in the Harris Teeter makes a good one. For some reason, I prefer it over the name brand stuff. I dunno. Something about freshness. I can't stop eating them.

I've been really pleased with Netflix since I signed back up with them. They ship from in town now, which means if I send some movies back on a Monday morning, I'll have new ones by Wednesday. I love it. At the demand of my friend Kari, I put Chinatown in my queue. It's probably her favorite movie, and I had never seen it. I really liked it a lot. Oddly enough, in that same batch of Netflix movies was Jules and Jim, which I rented purely because Cameron Crowe always talks about the films of Francois Truffaut and Billy Wilder as being the most influential on him. I'd seen a few Truffaut films before, but this one is the one that people talk about all the time. Back to the point... Both these films involve women with really messed up values concerning love and sex. Although that isn't the focal point in Chinatown, it's there. I loved the work done by Faye Dunaway, John Huston, and of course Jack Nicholson in the lead role. There was a line in there that I'm sure I'll quote forever. One of the guys said "How dumb do you think I am?" to which Geddis (Nicholson) later replied "You're dumber than you think I think you are."

Last night, I watched Employee of the Month, which I thought was horrible. Steve Zahn made it somewhat bearable, but overall it stank. Up next, is the original version of The Flight of the Phoenix, which I'm excited about. I didn't see the new one, but I heard that the original kicks so much ass. When I get home from work tonight, that's the only thing on my agenda.

Alright, so the ass clowns couldn't get anything resolved vis-a-vis the NHL lockout. They had two days of meetings, and still nothing. There's an alleged meeting next week, but no official word. Rumor has it that some of the clubs are telling their players to be on standby, which is a good sign. However, the failure to get anything accomplished in a two day meeting is yet another bad sign.

Well, it's about that time to go earn my daily nickel.

Now Playing: Camera Obscura -- Underachievers Please Try Harder
Camera Obscura Underachievers Please Try Harder

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

We're # 75! We're # 75! We're # 75! (plus beer, hockey and iPods)

I read some silly thing which said Greensboro is the sixth worst place in America to date. Out of 80 major metropolitan areas, we ranked # 75. Sweet! It took into account things like the number of coffeehouses, the number of bars, the percentage of single people aged 18-24, and some other factors. Then I thought, "wait a damn minute!" That's kinda cruddy that they don't take into account the number of single people over age 24. Not that I really care about this study, but those people, and the world in general need to come to terms with the fact that 18-24 isn't the only demographic that counts for anything.
We've just released a new beer at work. A smoked porter. I like it a lot. What makes it "smoked"? The malt is exposed to beechwood smoke. It's subtle, but very nice. It's getting some favorable reviews
by the beer dorks. This site is really cool, as it has beer geek reviews of just about any hand-crafted beer there is. They don't waste time, either. Our new beer has been up for six days, and it already has reviews. I'm always amazed at how sophisticated some people's palate is. Yes, beer is often as deep and complex as wine, and experts can pick apart every ingredient. Of course there are wines and beers that are low in flavor profile and shallow in complexity. But none of us drink beverages like that, right?

I may be doing a 180 here, but I have some hope for NHL hockey this season. Today in Chicago, there was a meeting between the two sides, but with Goodenow and Bettman absent. Apparently, the meeting was productive, and nobody really expected a deal to come out of it, but they'll talk again tomorrow. Something may happen then. I still have hope. So does ESPN's Terry Frei , who is probably the only person in the history of the English language who has ever used the word "obdurate" to describe a hockey team. We'll know by this time tomorrow.

I'm trying desperately to avoid the urge to buy an iPod. Every time I find myself on the brink, I tell myself that I don't really need it, but every time someone else talks about how much they love theirs, I get jealous. I think I can stave it off a little longer.

Now Playing: Stereolab -- The Last of the Microbe Hunters
Stereolab The Last of the Microbe Hunters

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

seeing old faces, and not being able to

I'm supposed to be mad at my favorite bar. This is the kind of place that treats its employees really well and treats its regulars almost as well. Employees are showered with gifts from the owner, they drink for a dollar (illegal in this state, by the way), and they have an incredibly laid back atmosphere. Lots of shady hole-in-the-wall bars let their employees get away with murder, but this place is a nice place, and it does really good business. So the employees like to stay there. I like going there because they know their regular customers really well. They know that I'm gonna come in there one or two times a week, that I drink the same beer (Murphy's Stout) every time, that I will have no more than three beer, that I like to sit in the same stool every time, and that I'm gonna treat them well. If it's too crowded to belly up to the bar, all I have to do is catch the bartender's eye, and my drink is on the way. Many of the regular good tipping customers (myself included) frequently are charged for less than they drank. Just a friendly gesture by the bartenders. Not that they steal from the company. They just put it on their own tab. Very cool.

But I'm mad. They fired three bartenders who I consider to be my friends. I know most of the bartenders there by name, but these three are the kind I like to hang out with outside the bar. Sure, they were each thinking of quitting anyway, but they were suddenly fired when the bar brought in some bullshit corporate managing group. Okay. I'm probably not fooling anyone. Anyone reading this is either from out of town, or knows full well that I'm talking about M'Couls. I love this place, and I have been going regularly since they opened their doors. Despite the fact that I work across the street, and we brew our own beer (including a fantastic Stout), I still like going there. It's comforting and I can really relax. If I drink where I work, I can never really relax. Anyway, I was gonna protest by not going there, but I just can't do it. I love it too much. I guess beer is thicker than friendships.
Some, anyway. Most people reading this are my dear friends, and obviously are way more important to me than any beer or cute barmaid.

The other day, I was reading the blog of an ex-girlfriend who lives in DC now. I was directed to her blog by a mutual friend, and I check in (without commenting) about once a week or so. I was moved to comment because she posted that she needed one of her exes to stalk her. Her current boyfriend is being stalked by his ex, so she feels left out. Although I'm not really right for the job, I commented anyway. The next day, she had put a post about me, and said all sorts of nice things about me. On her blog, and on mine. I was shocked and flattered. Maybe not shocked, but surprised. Shannon and I have been cordial, even friendly since we stopped dating 4 years ago. I think it was 4 years. She's a warm, sincere, and very talented woman. And the only one of my exes that I have any contact with. Even when I told myself that I wanted to burn the bridge, she wouldn't let me do it. She knows me well, and knew that I didn't want her out of my life. Like me, she is a Libra, prone to stubbornness. Thankfully she was more stubborn than I. There's a lot in my life that I'm not proud of. At times, I made it difficult for this woman to be my friend. I am not proud of that. But I am proud to say that Shannon Ivey is my friend.
I am also proud that the people reading this are my good friends. You're all awesome people.

Now Playing:Lost in Translation Soundtrack
Lost In Translation Soundtrack

Sunday, January 16, 2005

the french connection

I watched The Bourne Supremacy last night, which I thought was pretty good. I had heard terrific things about the car chase sequence, and was encouraged to watch the movie for that reason alone. Although I'm not usually a fan of "the action movie", I do like a good car chase. Still, though, I can't say that I liked this car chase anywhere near as much as the one in The French Connection.
I have to admit that I really was impressed with the chase scene and how they went about making it in The Bourne Supremacy. If you haven't seen the DVD version, rent it just to watch the bonus feature about the car chase. Pretty neat. But I still think the French Connection scene is far superior. First of all, they didn't have some of the technologically advanced things that the director of TBS had. The car was rigged to look as if Gene Hackman was driving, just as the TBS car was rigged to look like Matt Damon was driving, but that's about the only similarity. TBS was a much more controlled and safe environment. With The French Connection, they didn't even have clearance from the police department to clear out the streets. They just did the scenes anyway. They were able to control the traffic signals, but they were not able to block off the area. As a result, there were numerous REAL cars and REAL people in that scene. Mainly those people who lived and/or worked in the neighborhood. Every car in TBS was scripted , and every movement was planned and carefully storyboarded (but not rehearsed). In that unrehearsed respect, TBS felt kind of real. TFC, on the other hand was not given permission, nor did they give warning that they would be doing those scenes. The woman with the baby stroller, for example, was not supposed to be there. That was a real woman with a real baby stroller who unknowingly was on a film shoot. Almost got killed. The city bus they sideswiped was a real bus in service, with passengers. They took some big chances, and fortunately nobody was hurt. Plus, they ended up witha kick-ass scene. I also think it was supremely cool that a car was chasing a subway train rather than another car.
I dunno. This is just my opinion.

Now Playing:Unrest--B.P.M.
Unrest B.P.M.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

like a damned basketball encyclopedia

We played this fun game at work today. "Can you name every NCAA basketball champ since 1980? (from memory)?"
Before I went to check on the accuracy of our list, I admitted that we must have gotten a few wrong or out of order. I would have been happy to have gotten 18 out of 25. Much to my delight, we only missed one! Some bonehead mistake it was though! We tried to give Michigan State the title in 1998, when it was actually Kentucky. MSU wasn't even in the final four that year.
Now we look like idiots!

Try it yourself. See how well you remember your basketball history, then go to this site to check your results.

Now Playing: Hayden -- Elk Lake Serenade
Hayden Elk Lake Serenade


What a massive disappointment!

For some reason,I decided to work this afternoon as opposed to my normal Saturday night shift. I'm kinda glad that I did work because it spared me the horror of the UNC v WFU game.

Since I didn't see the game, my opinion here is based entirely upon what I've read, what I heard from other fans and from post game commentary on the radio.

Say what you will about the officiating, and I've heard that it was a little questionable, but the thing that stands out is that Wake went 32-32 from the line. As much as I want to believe my whiny friends and co-workers (who are mostly UNC fans), I have to side with the statement I heard on Tarheel Radio. That statement was that it was more that Wake was putting themselves in a situation to go to the foul line than the refs just granting them those chances. More specifically, they were driving to the basket a lot, taking the ball inside, which generally creates more traffic and more fouls than an outside game. On the flip side, they were putting a lot of pressure and double-team on Sean May, forcing the Heels to play an outside game. Usually, this is no problem. However, today, they shot something like 28% from behind the 3-point arc, and they shot a ton from out there.
Again, I'll make a statement that will be unpopular among Heels fans. The officiating couldn't have caused us to lose. A failure to adjust to the game did. If you notice that the refs are calling a ticky tacky game (which, it sound to me like it was), then you have to adjust specific aspects of your game. If you send your opponent to the charity strike 32 times, you probably deserve to lose. However, you figure the best of the best teams are only going to hit about 80%. So let's say they go 25-32. A closer game, but you're still giving them way too many chances to put points on the board.

I think Roy needs to get these guys to practice their free throw defense a little more. Allowing a team to shoot 100% is just unacceptable.

I just re-joined netflix, and my first three dvds arrived today, so I'm in for movie night. Chinatown, The Bourne Supremacy and Jules et Jim.

Now Playing:Piano Magic -- 'Writers Without Homes'
Piano Magic Writers Without Homes

Thursday, January 13, 2005

a mellow night on the town

I've been acting up recently. Two weeknights in a row I went out and had lots of drinks. Tuesday night I was up wicked late. 4 am. My insomnia spell notwithstanding, I haven't been up that late in a long time. Certainly not up that late drinking. Just to be near a pretty girl.
So last night was liver appreciation night. No booze, no going out. I just stayed home, played a little scrabble and watched the Heels trounce the Jackets.
Tonight should be good fun. Yes, I'm going to have a drink or two, but that isn't the point. I'm going to the Carolina Theatre to see The Godfather .
On the second Tuesday of every month, they show a classic film. This month it got messed up, so they moved it to Thursday. I'm excited about this. I've only seen The Godfather once, and that was a crappy VHS copy playing through a crappy vcr on a crappy tv. Although the seats leave something to be desired, the theater is beautiful, and nothing beats seeing a great movie on a huge movie palace screen.
Next month, in celebration of Black History Month, they'll be screening Shaft. No, this isn't a joke. They really are going to show Shaft as part of a "classic" film series.

Now Playing:Belle et Sebastian -- IYFS
Belle and Sebastian If You're Feeling Sinister

Rashad McCants, and what promises to be an exciting Saturday

I can't wait for Saturday's UNC-Wake Forest matchup.

I watched most of last night's game, in which Carolina shelled #8 Georgia Tech . I left that game with a couple of impressions. First, about Tech. Georgia Tech is a good team, but without B.J. Elder, they really aren't. Their bench was awful last night. I think I read that they got only 11 points from the bench. You can't win in the ACC if you're only 5 deep. However, Jarrett Jack is proving to be one of the best guards in the nation. Although he didn't have a spectacular night against the Heels, he still managed to put up 24 quiet points.

Now, about the Heels. Although they pasted the Yellowjackets, they didn't play that well. They shot only 41.2% from the field, committed 19 turnovers, and only got 12 points out of the mercurial and mysterious Rashad McCants, who is arguably the best player in the nation. They didn't play well, and still destroyed the #8 team in the nation. The way they did it, though, is what makes this team so great, and what makes them a good candidate for national champions. They play as a team. Patient and focused. Fundamentally sound (most of the time). AND they like to run the ball. And run. And run. That mixture of talent, poise and stamina is deadly to opposing teams. I just hope they can keep it up.
But while I'm thinking about Rashad McCants, I'll add a little more. Most of the complaints about McCants are that he's emotional; that he frowns sometimes and sulks when he plays poorly, that he sometimes gets visibly upset. I don't really see what the problem is. He's a phenomenal ballplayer, and he happens to have emotions. On and off the court
Rashad McCants The SI article back in November was really good, as is the article that is linked above, which both go into the depths of who Rashad McCants is as a man more so than who he is as a player. His growth as a person, and his much publicized "buying into Coach Williams' system" are certainly a big part of who he is as a ballplayer, but there is more to him than just a ballplayer.

Now playing:Beach Boys--Pet Sounds Sessions
Beach Boys Pet Sounds Sessions

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

you listen to rubbish i really despise

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Badly Drawn Boy. More specifically, the album Have You Fed the Fish. I just got into this guy when my friend Amanda wouldn't stop talking about how wonderful he is. It's a really good record, and a lot of fun. There's a couple of things on this record that are really interesting to me. One is a lyric in the title song, which goes "You've got to give me two days and woman, I'll make you a girl. Sometimes you've got to rewind to go forward." Then there's this repeated line throughout the album about being the one who can "get her tickets to what she needs", suggesting that the way to a woman's heart is getting her into the Neutral Milk Hotel show or something like that. Along with that is in the song You Were Right, he says "I remember doing nothing the night Sinatra died, and the night Jeff Buckley died, and the night Kurt Cobain died, and the night John Lennon died ... And that was a lot of lives who lost the tickets to what they need." It makes me sad, but I like it. Another thing I think about when I'm listening to this record is how much he and Sondre Lerche sound alike vocally. I don't notice it so much on BDB's newer record, but I do on this one.
So I've been listening to that a lot lately. I've been listening to a lot of different stuff. But there's something weird going on. All the time that I'm listening to whatever it is, all I can think about is Anti-Western by Camera Obscura. It's living in my head. I can't help it. Not that it's a bad song to have stuck in your head, but I just cannot get it to leave.

Now Playing: Drooliana Hatfield -- Hey Babe
Juliana Hatfield -- "Hey Babe"

Saturday, January 08, 2005

more hockey

I know. I know. I keep going on about this. I won't go too long this time, though.

So the league has cancelled the Board of Governors meeting that was scheduled for January 14. "No new developments", they say. Although many of us had already given up hope on rescuing this season, this was what many considered to be the "drop-dead" date, beyond which no deal could be made in the interest of playing any games this season.
I retrospect, and upon reading a comment to one of my previous posts, perhaps I was a little misleading about something. The deal the Hurricanes have offered to all of the season ticket holders is not that bad. If I chose to take my money back, I would indeed lose my season-ticket holder status, and all of the "priority" that I have accrued being on board for three seasons. This "priority" comes into play when the club allows you to select your exact seat for your season tickets. Those with more "priority" (read: longevity) get to go first. That's it. So I have to start all over. And here's where it isn't as bad as it sounds: We're not the Detroit Red Wings or the Toronto Maple Leafs -- season tickets can be had easily. If I wanted to start all over, I would be able to, and I would probably still be able to get tickets in the lower level, but they would have to be a few rows back from where I am now. All my "priority" got me this season was an improvement of three rows. To see games that aren't happening. So I'm just going to let my money silently earn about $50 in interest over a year's time. The option of taking your money back and starting all over when hockey resumes isn't that bad, but it isn't the road I'm taking.
Tonight would be a road game against Nashville; a game that I might have attended. I've been saying for some time now that I was going to start going to road games. Especially road games in cities where I have friends.
Something interesting that I was thinking about this morning is that this will be the first time that an major North American sports league has lost an entire season due to a labor stoppage. At some point in the very near future, the league will have to announce the cancellation of the 2005 entry draft, which will put some of those young players in a bad situation. They'll have to continue playing junior hockey, or play in Europe.
Still, though (and to me this is a really big deal), thousands of completely innocent people were put out of work because of this nonsense. Hotdog vendors and bartenders employed by the arenas had to be told that the arena lost 44 events, and some jobs had to be cut. Same applies for folks who usually work arena security. Same applies for hotels, bars and restaurants that rely on game night traffic for business.
I'm not going to turn my back on the game, but I'm really frustrated with the lack of effort in resolving this thing.

Now playing: Blonde Redhead -- 'Misery is a Butterfly'
Blonde Redhead "Misery is a Butterfly"

Friday, January 07, 2005

something about the stone roses

oh dear god

After I read Reid's post , I decided to wander around the blogs, clicking the "next blog" button. I came across a slew of blogs that were in Spanish, my own blog, a pretty cute one by a middle school girl talking about the difference between "like" and "love", and I settled in on Mikey Guitar , a lad from Manchester who writes mainly about music.
Most of his posts are really short. Two or three sentences. There was, though, a sizable post singing the praises of The Stone Roses "Second Coming" . He says that the record was "an underrated masterpiece" and that because the record was universally reviewed as a disappointment, that "NME is nothing more than a chip paper" and that "it sits in millions of people's top ten album selections".

Help me out here. Maybe I just can't see it, but I thought that "Second Coming" was shite. Barely even listenable. We all remember how much we adored "The Stone Roses", and we eagerly and patiently waited five years for that second record. Maybe we were all were (at least I was) expecting another record full of songs that sounded like "I Wanna Be Adored" and "Shoot You Down" . This wasn't it.
Of course this guy may be taking it a bit too personally that the Manchester darlings of 1989 weren't so hot in 1995. But what does he have to complain about? He's got the New Fast Automatic Daffodils! Okay. Seriously, he's got The Verve, Oasis, New Order, the freakin Smiths, the Charlatans UK, and one of my new favorites, Badly Drawn Boy.
Seriously. I want someone to show me the error of my ways. Show me what's so great and underappreciated about "Second Coming".

Now Playing: Jeff Buckley -- Live at Sin-e deeelux version

Jeff Buckley "Live at Sin-e" deluxe edition

Thursday, January 06, 2005

more 9/11 stuff

Here's a couple more records released close to the 9/11 thing that have some relevance.

1. Ryan Adams -- "Gold"


This album was released exactly two weeks after 9/11, and to be frank, I don't know that much about it. I've heard it a number of times in friends cars and at bars, but I haven't really listened that closely. Worth mentioning is the opening song, entitled "New York, New York". The video to this song featured shots of the WTC Also, worth mentioning is the cover art showing the American flag displayed upside-down. Contrary to popular belief, flying the flag upside-down is not the appropriate way to show dissent. Flying the flag upside down is, in flag etiquette, the proper way to symbolize "dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."
It would be safe to say that NYC,, Washington DC, and America as a whole was in such a situation. I don't remember hearing that the artwork was changed at the last second, so all we can say is that it was prophetic.

2. I am the World Trade Center -- "Out of the Loop"

Out of the Loop

I didn't really want to bring them into it. It's too obvious. The cd was released eight weeks prior to 9/11. The only odd connection I can find is that the 11th track is entitled "September". I don't know anything about this band other than that they are "sort of electronic", in a St. Etienne kind of way and that the girl is "sort of cute". I recall hearing that they were gonna change their name, dropping the "the", but I don't think that it ever happened. I just did a bit of research, and it turns out that IATWTC's singer, Amy Dykes has had a horrible year. First, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma , and was later bitten by a rabid cat. As if the radiation treatment and chemotherapy wasn't enough, she had to also endure the series of rabies shots. Ouch! This is probably the saddest thing I've heard in a long time.

more later

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

My own little conspiracy theory

I've decided that I need to start my own conspiracy theory.

I think that indie rockers were in the know about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. They tried to warn us, but we didn't wanna hear it. I provide the following albums as examples:

1. Explosions in the Sky -- "Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die/Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever"

Explosions In the Sky

Now, the thing about this, aside from the name of the band, is that the album was released on September 4, 2001. So what? The inside liner notes are really sparse, but the back page has nothing but a drawing of an airplane, and the caption "This plane will crash tomorrow". There is a rumor that this record was actually released on September 10, which would make that caption even more eerie, but September 10 was a Monday. New release day is always Tuesday.

2. Superchunk -- "Here's to Shutting Up"

Okay... this one is kind of a stretch. The album was released on September 18, 2001. One week after the attacks. However, while the images were still being constantly shown on tv, tha chunk had to chime in. Track 3, entitled "Phone Sex" features the lyric "Plane crash footage on tv. I know, I know that could be me." Obviously the song was written well in advance. Mac must have known something.

Alright, alright. I can't go through with it. I can't extrapolate these terrible coincidences into some crazy theory. They're just that. Crazy coincidences. Obviously, these bands couldn't have know about or had anything to do with the attacks. It's just wild that their albums have plane crash imagery in them, and they happened to be released in such proximity to that horrible day.

I tried to do a search of the albums that were actually released that day, as it was a new release day. Nothing of note. Well, Slayer did put out a record, and I'm sure it was full of lyrics about death and dismemberment. They usually are.

In all seriousness, the above mentioned albums are both fantastic. I highly recommend them to anyone. Especially to strangers on the street. I've ranted before on this blog about Explosions in the Sky. I'm sure at some point in the near future, I'll rant about tha chunk.

If you do nothing else today, go somewhere where you can listen to that Explosions in the Sky record. It's truly phenomenal. If you have the patience for it. It's instrumental, heavily effected, mostly very intense, and the tempo constantly fluctuates from dead still to frenetic. I can't listen to it enough. You may have listened to them before whether you know it or not. If you saw the movie Friday Night Lights, that was their music you heard throughout the film.
I'll shut up now.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

silly conspiracy theories, plus a good charity

I read in the New York Times yesterday about some really silly stuff concerning the recent earthquake and resultant tsunami in Asia. Now, granted some of this stuff could have been meant as satire, but we've all heard this type of uninformed comment before about how things that we do cause the earth to react in a certain way. To say that our bombs caused this tectonic activity is just dumb. And insensitive. Millions of people are homeless, more that 110,000 dead, and the only thing these people can think to say is "it's America's fault". What do these people think caused the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius? The evil Roman Empire? Was the Krakatau volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami caused by some evil man-made force. No. That was an extremely active tectonic region, and it continues to be today. You can read all about tectonic activity here, and about the geologic reasons for tsunamis here.

They say, in the interest of comparing explosions, that the explosion from Krakatau was TEN TIMES GREATER than that of the atomic bomb the US detonated at Bikini Atoll.

I didn't mean to start going off like that, but I did want to mention that I donated a small sum of money to one of the relief organizations for the tsunami victims. There are a number of fine, better known organizations, but I chose to go with The American Friends Service Committee, which is run by the quakers. Now, admittedly, some of their mission statement is a bit too hippie for my taste, but I like that they aren't out there to change anyone's religious beliefs. I like that this relief campaign is committed to helping those in remote areas that might get ignored by the bigger, more visible organizations. To be frank, I also like that you can make a donation from a secure page. Some of the others have contribution pages that, for whatever reason, are not secure.
Anyway, that's that.

Monday, January 03, 2005

no miracle on ice this time

Wow! So much for playing well against the Russians. To be fair, although the scoreboard said 7-2, there were two empty netters and a garbage time goal at the buzzer, so it wasn't quite that bad.
Actually, team USA looked pretty good. After giving up the first two goals, we played really well defensively despite being on the penalty kill most of the night. Not a complaint about the officiating, mind you. They really only blew one call, when they should have awarded USA a penalty shot when Russia deliberately took the net off the moorings while the puck was in play in their own zone. We just took way too many penalties and found other ways to put ourselves in harm's way. Offensively, we played okay, but we couldn't finish some key plays. In the net, Montoya did way more than could have been expected.

Hats off to the Russians for playing a really solid defensive game and to their stellar goalkeeping. However, they really demonstrated some incredibly poor sportsmanship by taunting the USA players and fans. Thankfully it didn't get ugly, but it easily could have.

As much as I hate Barry Melrose, I liked the amount of optimism he has for saving the NHL season. I'm not that optimistic, but he's got a finger closer to the pulse of the game than I do.

Okay. So now we get to play in a meaningless bronze medal game on Tuesday. I only hope that our pension for brinksmanship doesn't do us in. It would be a real shame for the defending champs to fail to take a medal.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

happy new year, and more hockey stuff

This is the first year in three that I didn't spend my New Year's Eve in Raleigh. Every year, the Hurricanes have a Dec. 31 home game, but obviously not this year. In the absence of the NHL, I've been watching the World Junior Hockey Championships , and I've been enjoying it.
Actually, I was disgusted with the first game that I actually got to watch all of. USA v Belarus. The Belarus team had played horribly throughout the round-robin, and team USA had been playing well. Not on that night. We failed to capitalize on power plays, including at least one five-on-three. We had sloppy passing in the neutral zone, we had way too many careless off-sides calls. Turnovers deep in our own zone, bad goaltending. Just bad. Although the score was 5-3, it wasn't even that close. One of our goals came on a shot that wasn't even a shot, so much as a dump-in from the blue line. Actually, though, we did get pretty decent goaltending out of Al Montoya .
Losing that game was kinda bothersome, but losing to the Czechs was not. They're a really talented team. I think the Florida Panthers will be really happy with their top pick from the 2004 draft, Rostislav Olesz , who has played really well. So has the overall top pick, Russia's Alexander Ovechkin , who will have a great career with the Caps.
The Canadians are probably the team to look out for, and the talk of the tournament has probably been the stellar play of young Sidney Crosby , who is only 16 (!), but is gaining comparisons to Gretzky, even by The Great One himself. He, Patrice Bergeron, and the Hurricanes top pick, Andrew Ladd have been lighting the lamp with ease. They should have no trouble making it to the finals.
I'll eagerly anticipate being able to watch the USA v Russia semifinal on Sunday night. We should be able to put up a good fight, if we get good goaltending, and if we can play the way we did against Sweden . I've been impressed with the play of the Sabres' top pick, Drew Stafford and Phil Kessel , who is just 17, and is supposed to be the USA's answer to Crosby.
The more I think about it, the more excited I get, but come Tuesday, it's all over. This is the only hockey worth watching until the NCAA frozen four. After that, nothing for a long time.
Anyway, ... Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

a RBNBR primer

Some of you may be curious about the way things work at red and black is the new black and red, so I've decided to do a FAQ page. Even though few (or none) of you have actually asked these questions.

1. What's the deal with those post titles?

There isn't really a "deal" with those. About 99.68% of the time, these are song lyrics.

2. Yeah, but it seems like they don't have anything to do with the post itself. What gives?

They're just song lyrics. That's all. Sometimes it'll be a song that's actually in my head, sometimes it'll be a lyric that I admire. Sometimes it'll be there for no reason.

3. So they're not even related to the "now playing" feature? I don't get it.

No. they're not related to that feature. There will almost never be any relation between the music that is playing on my speakers and the song referenced in the post title.

4. Why?

Just because.

5. Pretend I care for a second. How will I know where the song lyrics come from?

You won't. If you do a google search of those exact words, you'll probably get an answer. If you really, really need to know and google won't tell you, you can ask me.

6. So... What about this "now playing" feature? What's the deal? Is it like a "what's in heavy rotation at the moment, or is it what you're literally listening to as you write?

The album linked at the end of the post is what's actually playing as I write the post. I'm an "album" kind of guy, so I'll let the whole album play from start to finish.

7. Linked?!?

Yeah. The little picture of the album cover has a link to a listening station for that album. just mouse-over the picture for details and click on it to go to the listening station. More often than not, it's linked to, where you can also purchase the album if you want to. I would recommend buying your records from independent stores, but they don't usually have on-line listening posts.

8. Some of these fancier blogs have their own on-board jukeboxes. Why don't you do something like that so I don't have to leave the comfort of red-new-black?

I'm not smart enough to figure out the code required for something like that. Besides, it's too hard for me to pick out individual songs.

9. You don't get out much, do you?


10. What's with all the talk about Scrabble?

It's one of my passions. I play a lot of competitive Scrabble.

11. Competitive?

Yeah. I play in a club and I go to tournaments and stuff like that. There's a whole competitive side to the game that most people don't know about. We take it quite seriously.

12. What? Like you get really pissed when you lose? Is that what you mean?

No. Not like that. But I study word lists and strategies. It's mainly about memorization and learning mnemonic devices. There's a lot of work involved with being a "good" Scrabble player.

13. Are you "good"?

I'm better than most people, but within the world of competitive play, I'm sort of average. Like a baseball player stuck at the "A" level. Better than amateur ballplayers, but not among the elite professional players.

14. You don't get out much, do you?

I just told you. No.