Monday, February 27, 2006

quiet hands, quiet kiss on the mouth

I've got some housecleaning issues I want everyone to know about. Some of my links were to dead sites or to sites that I don't give a shit about anymore. Those are gone. Don't worry. The link to your site/blog isn't going anywhere. Unless your name is Bill Purdy. The Bitter Buffalo, which is co-written by Bill, has been moved from the "I don't personally know" list to the "friends" list.

Also worth noting is the addition of a new link. I don't know if you've ever seen it, but this is some funny shit right here. I don't know this dude, and I don't know how I stumbled on his blog, but I tell you. This is good shit. That is, of course, assuming that you're a smart-ass. If you're reading my blog, it means you know me, which means that you are indeed a smart-ass. If you're not reading my blog, then piss off.

Anyway.... some of my favorite rhetorical letters are the ones to barefoot guy, Manute Bol and Bicycle Maniac.

Stop by and give the dude a read.

now playing:

Jeff Buckley Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

i still don't like the guy

Okay. So now the word is that the substance for which Ricky Williams tested positive was not marijuana. It doesn't cancel the fact that he failed a drug test. That's a bit like being arrested for a fourth DUI and saying "oh, but I wasn't drinking whiskey this time". Notice that I said "A BIT like" rather than "EXACTLY like". Yes, I know it's a bit of a stretch, and it's possible that the "substance" could turn out to be something that was unknown to him. However, at some point, he and other athletes who fail drug tests have to be accountable for the substances in their bodies. I have been criticized for my views on this in the past with other athletes, but I have been consistent in my view.

Maybe he's been doing Propecia with Montréal Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore. Maybe that's Ricky's dark secret -- he's bald. Maybe it'll turn out to be crystal meth. I'm just saying.

I said when Rafael Palmiero got nabbed with a steroid-like substance, and
I'll say again here: if you're getting the kind of money these guys get to play sports, and you have a list of substances that are not allowed to be in your body, you should be especially careful about the "supplements" or medications that you take. Check ingredient lists. Pay someone to make sure it's safe for you to take. Ask questions if you have to.

If you have failed multiple drug tests in the past, and you know the consequences of another failed test, you should be anally careful about it. Like the guy in the restaurant with the gluten allergy.

The fact that Williams is a repeat offender makes it easy for me to pass judgment on him. The fact that Palmiero made his now infamous "I have never taken steroids. Period." speech just days before testing positive made it easy for me to pass judgment on him. The fact that Theodore is using Propecia makes it easy for me to laugh at him. He's got the thickest, manliest head of hair in the entirety of the NHL, and he's been using Propecia for 10 years. For the uninitiated, the story there is that one of the ingredients in Propecia is a known masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. The suggestion is that you take the Propecia and they won't know that you've been taking the performance-enhancer. However, anyone who has watched, listened to, read about or even heard about the Canadiens this year knows that Theodore has sucked ass. There's no way he's been taking performance enhancing drugs.

If the substance turns out to be one of the ingredients from his Flintstones Chewables, then I might retract my criticism of Williams. In the meantime, it's the fourth time he's flunked a drug test. I get the feeling, though, that if it was something like a Flintstones Chewable or Propecia, they'd have already told us.

If you think I'm being unfair, I'm sorry. If you think I'm hanging a man before he even goes to trial, I'm sorry.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oh Ricky,..

It seems like no other bloggers are writing about this, so I'll go ahead and take the plunge.
Ricky Williams is a complete and utter moron. He has flunked yet another drug test, his fourth. He sat out four games this past season after flunking his third drug test at the end of the 2003 season. He then spent a year in exile, hanging out with Lenny Kravitz and getting high every day. The Dolphins took a huge chance by letting the freak back on the team after he abandoned them, not to mention his previous drug problems.
Now Williams faces a mandatory one year suspension from the league because of his fourth positive test. There was no indication as to what he had tested positive for, but his past would suggest marijuana. Before anyone gets on their high (no pun intended) horse, I will mention that I do not smoke pot but I am in support of the legalization of it. That's a whole other issue. That notwithstanding, marijuana is currently illegal, AND (unlike the NBA)it is on the list of banned substances in the NFL. Sorry, but that's the way it is, and you know the rules.

I think the one year suspension is too light, actually. Williams has proven that he doesn't care about the sanctions that have been placed against him. He has made fools of the Dolphins front office for giving him another go. He is perhaps making a fool of Paul Tagliabue.

I'm sure that the Dolphins will tell him to take a hike, but I really do think that the league needs to tell him to take a permanent hike. This isn't about a guy getting busted with some weed. This is about a guy who repeatedly violates rules, repeatedly bitches about the sanctions against him, and repeatedly proves himself to be unworthy of the second, third, and fourth chances that were awarded him. If this isn't handled in a more aggressive fashion, it could turn out to be a Steve Howe-type situation. No, smart ass, not the guitarist from Yes. Same name, different guy. I mean the Steve Howe who was a baseball pitcher in the '80s. He tested positive for cocaine SEVEN TIMES, and ended up making a complete mockery of baseball and its then commissioner Fay Vincent. Vincent had handed Howe a lifetime suspension after the seventh positive test, leaving many to wonder why he took so long to make that move. However, after Vincent was forced to resign, Howe was able to pull some strings and got the suspension overturned. He indicated that he needed the cocaine to treat his Attention Deficit Disorder. Somehow, they accepted this, repealed the ban, and he was back in the saddle within months. Got that? Cocaine. To treat ADD. As if methylphenidate (Ritalin) doesn't do the trick.

Actually, even if they do suspend him, I'm sure he'll come up with some "Oh, I've been smoking reefer to treat my Social Anxiety Disorder. You don't want me to be ill, do you?" excuse. He's been using Paxil to counter the symptoms, but he's also been know to claim that marijuana makes it less prevalent.

Seriously, the NFL needs to call a turnover on downs on this issue. Williams failed to convert the fourth and twenty-seven. Sorry, buddy, but you don't get another chance.

End of rant.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

There's an army on the dance floor, passion with a gun

I had a dream about a month and a half ago, and it's sort of been bothering me since then. Almost everything about it was pretty cool, but it didn't make a lick of sense. The dream machine is very strange and non-sensical. But then again, the George Michael Sports Machine was the most non-sensical thing ever, and we never questioned that. Why, then, should we question the Dream Machine? I guess because we think we can learn stuff about ourselves. I don't know.

Anyway, here's the dream:

I was about to start a new job. I'm not sure exactly what that job was, but it was a normal office job. I was taking a week off after leaving whatever previous job I had. During that week, I spent a lot of time hanging out with a person from my real life. Specifically, it was the girl who made me the mix CD, and on whom I have a real life crush. I was at her house really early in the morning because her car was going in the shop, and I was gonna give her a ride to work after she dropped off her car. Her phone rang, and that's when the stuff that makes no sense started. She answered, and put it on speakerphone because she was ironing a shirt or something. The caller was Gabriel Byrne. But it wasn't Gabriel Byrne. It was his character "Tom Reagan" from Miller's Crossing. He was furious, and he was looking for me. How he knew to call there was a surprise to us, and why he was calling was even more of a surprise. Apparently, he was going to be my boss at the new job. He got the wires crossed and thought I was supposed to have started to work that day. Anyway, he was using really aggressive, threatening language. He told Kate "You tell that faggot he's got exactly (pause) four minutes to get his ass in here if ever wants to use his left arm again!" Kate took offense to that, but took more offense to the "faggot" comment than to the threat of amputation. "Take that back," she said. "I happen to know he's not gay, and he's proven it to me lots of times". I was of the impression that he threw "faggot" in there the same way lots of people throw "monkey fucker" in there. He wasn't actually suggesting that I was gay; he was simply using a term of derision. Eventually, I got on the phone with the Gabriel Byrne as Tom Reagan guy, and I reminded him that there was still one more week before I started to work. He was profusely apologetic, and offered me an even better position than the one he already had for me. I still didn't know precisely what my work would entail, but the pay was going to be great, and I knew it was legitimate work, so I didn't really question it. The dream pretty much ended there.

Gabriel Byrne? I don't know what that's all about. It's been years since I've watched Miller's Crossing, so I don't know why that character would pop into my dream. The getting of new job was appropriate because I had just, in real life, decided to change jobs.

I know that it's not very exciting, or funny, or any of that, but I wanted to get that out there. Anyone else ever have a dream where Gabriel Byrne was their boss?

now playing:

Viva Voce The Heat Can Melt Your Brain

Monday, February 13, 2006

I am so out of tune with you

Here in Greensboro, you can't get away with blogging unflattering things about people in high places. Especially if you compare them to people in low places. First, it happened to my friend Kevin, then it happened to me.

Kevin recently criticized some dude named Bill Brummell after reading a corny quotation on a Starbucks cup. Turns out, this Brummell dude is a tv producer/documentarian. Remember "Night Tracks" from the '80s? Sure you do! It was a music video show that came on TBS on Saturday nights spanning into Sunday morning. That was his baby. Apparently he works for FOX now. Anyway, this dude has evidently been reading Kevin's blog, and specifically that particular post. Kevin's analogy was that Brummel's poem is like something written by "every 8th grade girl ever".

Over at my other place, I recently wrote something about Ted Leonsis, who is majority owner of the Washington Capitals and vice chairman of AOL. He markets himself as a really approachable and "normal" guy, and he actually does a great job of reaching out to the public. On two occasions that I know of, he's invited Caps bloggers to watch a game from his owner's box. He also extended a really nice gift to all the season ticket holders who stayed on board through the lockout.
My post, though was criticism of his completely absurd "101 goals in life". I called him, among other things, "arrogant", "self-serving" and "decadent". Here's what may have been the one, though:
The whole list, to me, reeks of arrogance. Especially the way he checks them off the way a leathery bar whore adds notches to her lipstick case. Maybe he's a really swell guy, but you lose your "normal guy" cred when one of your goals in life is

15 Net worth of one billion dollars, after taxes

Anyway, Mr. Leonsis caught wind of it, and sent me a short e-mail, telling me that he likes Wilco and "Raising Arizona" and that he grew up in the town where the Hurricanes' minor league team plays (Lowell, Mass), while going to public school. He said he left a comment on the blog, but he must have been foiled by the robot protection, because I never saw the comment. Oh, and yes, it really was him.

Maybe we can make this into a game. See who can get traffic on their blog from the person in the highest position after writing bad stuff about them.

now playing:

Kleenex Girl Wonder Ponyoak

Thursday, February 09, 2006

you are repressed, but you're remarkably dressed

Mainstream media really sucks sometimes.
Take for example the headline from this story, from Reuters:

Sex abuse victim to carry US colors

The story is about Chris Witty, who has been a Winter Olympics mainstay for the US in middle distance speed skating. She's won three Olympic medals, including the Gold for the 1,000 meters in 2002. In that event, she set a World Record time, which still stands.
Also, she has competed in some cycling events in two different Summer Olympics, making her only the ninth American to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games.

She was selected to be the flag bearer for the United States in the opening ceremonies of the Turin Games.

Witty recently announced that she was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Surely this is a horrible thing, and something that should not be ignored. However, I think Reuters was remiss in their choice of words in the headline. It makes it seem as if they pulled some kid out of an orphanage to hoist the flag. It might also unintentionally shift the focus from "Chris Witty, Olympic athlete" to "Chris Witty, sexual abuse victim". If she wishes to be known henceforth as "abuse victim", that's one thing, but I still think they could have done something like:

US Flagbearer, five time Olympian Chris Witty was abused as a child

Those are just my two cents.

now playing:

The Mountain Goats All Hail West Texas

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

you're gonna make me spill my beer if you don't learn how to steer

I thought I would get some really negative responses to my "Stanley Cup is greater than Lombardi Trophy" post. Instead, I got some excellent questions concerning the Cup. I'll answer them as best as I know how.

Lord Stanley's Cup was named for its benefactor, Frederick Arthur Stanley, the 16th Earl of Derby. He came to Canada and was Governor general for some period of time. He was always a sports enthusiast, and in his stay in Canada, he became enthralled with ice hockey. He had the idea of having a challenge cup for the best team in Canada. Obviously, in 1893, this meant amateur teams. However, over time, the Cup was given to the team who wins the NHL playoffs. As you may know, there was a labor stoppage last season, and the Cup was not awarded. During the lockout, some citizens pleaded their case in front of Canadian courts to award the Cup to the best amateur team. It came too late, but just this week, the courts decided that the Cup should be awarded to an amateur team if there should ever be another season lost to a work stoppage.

Lord Stanley made many demands when he donated the Cup, which cost the equivalent of roughly $50. Among them was that no team shall ever own the Cup. They shall have possession of it for one year, and they shall return it in good shape upon having it challenged away from them. This is probably the most important thing that defines the Stanley Cup. No team shall ever own it, and it is returned to its trustees after one year.

Another excellent question concerns the names on the cup. What happens when it gets full? The Stanley Cup, as you probably know, is multi-tiered. Under the main bowl are three rings which gradually get larger. After that, there are a series of five rings of equal size. The bottom-most ring is where the newest additions to the cup are. When this bottom-most ring gets full, the top of the five rings is removed and taken to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. There should be two more seasons on the current Cup before the bottom-most ring gets full.

Winners do not get a replica or a plaque. They do get a ring, which is pretty cool. And each member of the winning team (including the coaching staff, the equipment managers, the radio guy, etc) gets to hang out with the Cup for 24 hours. The Cup has a bodyguard, who travels with it all the time, to make sure that nothing really bad happens to it.

A question that hasn't been asked specifically of me, but which should be answered anyway is about the authenticity of the cup. There are actually three Stanley Cups. The original Cup, which only lasted a few seasons, sits on display in the Hall of Fame. It was redesigned later on, and there are two versions of the modern Cup. One version lives at the Hall of Fame, and is never passed around. It is free of spelling errors, and obviously free of physical defect. The second is the one that gets passed around and taken to bars, and goes on tour. There are a few physical defects from its misadventures, and there are something like eight spelling errors on that Cup.

For reference, the Cup stands nearly three feet tall and weighs in at 36 1/2 pounds. In comparison, the Lombardi stands just under two feet tall and weighs seven pounds

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

what a beautiful face i have found in this place


So there's a huge basketball game tonight. It's a mismatch in Duke's favor, but both teams always rise to the occasion, so we should expect a close game. It should be fun, anyway. I think there was a football game of some importance the other night, too. That's what I came here to write about. Sort of. Quick. What's the name of the trophy given to the Superbowl Champ? Think you could pick it out of a police lineup? I stumbled on this article, in the McPaper the other day. Yes, the NFL is envious of the recognition enjoyed by, and the mystique surrounding Lord Stanley's Cup. They think that, with the right marketing gurus, they can put it on the same level with hockey's holy grail.

Here's what they have in mind, followed by what I think of their ideas:
Pigskin Presentation Stand. The league is building a sleek, high-tech presentation stand shaped like a football with a red carpet leading up to it.

Are they serious? Do they really think that anyone gives a rats ass about the podium? Or how it is presented, or who presents it? Since they were the ones to draw the comparison, I'll reference the presentation of the Stanley Cup. When the Cup is presented to the Captain of the winning team, it sits on a fucking card table at center ice. That's about as low-tech as it gets. Sure, the table is draped with a special table cloth, and there is a "Stanley Cup" red carpet, but there's nothing sleek or high tech about it. The commissioner of the NHL hands it over. No celebrities, no hall of fame player. Just the commish. Nobody cares about the table or the carpet. They just want to see the victors hoist the Cup. I would think that the NFL would be wasting their money on a "sleek high-tech presentation stand" that nobody will give a shit about.

Super Bowl highlights. NFL Films will try to keep the crowd around for the trophy ceremony by debuting a 41/2-minute long film featuring highlights from Super Bowls I-XXXIX. The league hopes broadcaster ABC will then seamlessly cut from a commercial break to the trophy presentation.

Yeah the highlights are all good and well for the 80,000 in attendance. But what about the 10 million people watching on television. I seriously don't think this would be in aid of promoting the Lombardi trophy, anyway. The "One Magic Moment" highlight reel does wonders for CBS during the NCAA Final Four, but it does nothing to promote the actual trophy. I couldn't even tell you what the NCAA basketball trophy looks like. I can sing that song word for word, but you could whack me in the head with the trophy, and I wouldn't even know what hit me. Which brings us to the third point...
Hail to the trophy. The NFL is creating signature theme music and protocol for the trophy that Supovitz describes as its own Hail to the Chief for this and future Super Bowls.

Maybe this is the most laughable. Theme music? Yeah, right. I can imagine the following conversation NEVER taking place:
  • Hey, Chris... Have you heard that new Lombardi Trophy song?
  • Yeah, dude, that's a fucking jam! I totally have the utmost respect for that trophy now.

  • Um... right. To my knowledge, this would be the only trophy that has its own gay music. Maybe it'll work, but it seems silly to me.

    Here's what might be my favorite part of the article:
    "We're building a mythology around it," says Frank Supovitz, the former NHL executive turned senior vice president of events for the NFL.

    Building? a mythology? around it?

    The reason that the Stanley Cup has a mythology around it is that it is the very same cup from one year to the next. The original cup sits in the hockey hall of fame, and is kinda banged up, but it has been a challenge cup since 1893. By comparison, the NFL manufactures a new Lombardi Trophy each year. The trophy is inscribed with the year, and the name of the winning team. That trophy is the permanent property of said team. The Stanley Cup, however, moves along. It is never the property of any team; they simply have possession of it for one year. The name of every team, and of every player who has ever won is etched on the Cup. And in a tradition that's only about 10 years old, each player gets to do whatever he wants with the Cup for one day. That's part of the mythology. Players have baptized their children in the cup. They've taken it to the boobie bar and let fans drink beer from it. They've thrown it in the bottom of swimming pools. They've taken it on roller coasters, and on mountain climbing excursions.
    Before the era of players having personal time with the Cup, there were quite a few tales of mistreatment of, or misplacement of the Cup. For instance, in 1905, when the Ottawa Silver Seven won the Cup, one of the drunken players dropkicked the Cup into the canal on a dare. It sat there overnight, and was later retrieved (a little worse for the wear) from the frozen surface of the canal. So there's stuff like that which can never be part of the "lore" of the Lombardi Trophy.
    Players in the NHL get a real kick out of being able to hoist the exact same Cup that hockey's legends have. To have their name etched permanently on the same Cup with hockey's legends. To have in their possession, the very same Cup that (so-and-so)'s dog ate out of. The very same Cup that was accidentally left on the side of the road by the 1924 Montréal Canadiens.

    First of all, it would take years, maybe decades for the "created" mythology of the Lombardi Trophy to take hold. And the chances of it taking hold are lessened by the simple fact that every year, a new trophy is made. Nobody will ever say about the Lombardi "Wow... I'm holding this object that Bart Starr held 40 years ago." Or "wow, this thing sure has had some adventures, and my kids are eating cereal out of it right now".

    My advice to the NFL if they want the Lombardi Trophy to be more famous than the Stanley Cup would be to make it into a challenge trophy. And change the design of it. It's frankly very boring that the football champ gets a trophy in the shape of a football. If you want it to have some of its own mythology rather than some invented mythology, it should be designed such that the winning players can do stuff with (or in) it. It works for the Stanley Cup.

    I would also advise the NFL to start handing out more hardware. And speaking of which, "Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award" isn't gonna cut it. That's something else that hockey fans get really pumped up about -- the multitude of different trophies that are handed out each year. Some of those trophies are, admittedly, pretty lame. Most, however are not only beautiful awards, but they have rich tradition as well. I could go into detail about them all, but I'll spare you that.

    Now playing:

    Drop Nineteens Delaware

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo, like some cat from japan

    Saturday morning, I woke up thinking about Bauhaus. Specifically, their version of "Ziggy Stardust". About a month ago, I dusted off my "Bauhaus" section of the CD racks and listened to them for the first time in years. That was prompted by a text message from Hans, who recently saw Bauhaus perform in Chicago.

    I don't think that was what caused me to wake up thinking about Bauhaus, though. I figure it had something to do with a mix tape that was made for me on my last night at my old job. There's a girl there who I have a crush on. She'd been promising me a copy of her band's CD for a while, and for the occasion of my last night, she made that for me plus a mix CD. As far as her band, I have to give the hesitant thumbs down. It sounds a bit like Bikini Kill but with significantly less talent. Is that mean?

    Anyway, the mix CD is pretty awesome, but it didn't have a track listing. I knew about a third of the songs, and I could guess the artist on another third, but there were four or five that I had no idea. With a little help from the internets, I was able to figure them all out. Except one. There's a cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" that's almost exactly like the original. I guess it's possible that it actually is Joy Division (maybe some alternate version), but it just doesn't sound like Ian Curtis. Not that I'm a huge Joy Division fan, but I have heard that song hundreds of times, and it sounds different. After all, as my friend Kevin always points out, the beginning of that song marks the threshold between the punk era and the new wave era. You know... when the synthesizer kicks in.

    Anyway, I spent a while trying to figure out who it is, and why they chose to do a cover of a great song without adding anything to it. I like it when someone covers a song brilliantly by maybe changing the instrumentation, or the pace of it, or the gender of the singer, or something like that. Or they do something, anything, to make the cover stand apart from the original. Except mess with the lyrics.

    All that said, I still think that Bauhaus' version of "Ziggy Stardust" is incredible. It's damn near identical to the Bowie version, musically and lyrically. And even though it doesn't do anything to stand apart, I love it.

    So anyway, thinking about the cover(?) of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" made the wheels start turning, and I woke up thinking about "Ziggy Stardust". For your enjoyment, and perhaps your criticism, here's Kate's mix:
    1. Mason Jennings -- Nothing
    2. Of Montréal -- Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games
    3. Arcade Fire -- Neighborhood
    4. Built to Spill -- The Plan
    5. Björk -- Human Behaviour
    6. David Bowie -- Sound and Vision
    7. The Amps -- Full on Idle
    8. T-Rex -- Jitterbug Love
    9. Modest Mouse -- Interstate 8
    10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah --The Skin of My Country Yellow Teeth
    11. Fugazi -- Bed For the Scraping
    12. Tiger Bear Wolf --You Play Guitar
    13. We Versus the Shark --The Graceless Planet
    14. The Faint --Glass Danse
    15. Tom Waits --Hoist that Rag
    16. Pixies --Here Comes Your Man
    17. Johnny Cash --I Won't Back Down
    18. ????? --Love Will Tear Us Apart
    19. Kill Creek --Colors of Home
    20. Neutral Milk Hotel --In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
    21. Stellastarr --Pulp Song

    Quick notes on some of the ones I didn't know:

    Tracks 12 and 13 are both very mathy and they're by bands that I hadn't listened to, but all of the indie kids around here talk about. To be honest, I'm not that into either.

    Kill Creek. I didn't recall ever hearing this band before, but a quick look at their website told me that they've been around for quite some time, and I recognized one of their records from having been in heavy rotation at WQFS back in the early 90s. Back then, they sounded like they were trying to sound like Superchunk. The song that's on Kate's mix sounds like they're trying to sound like Rainer Maria.

    Stellastarr. Can anyone say PiL? I actually had to go to their website to make sure is wasn't really John Lydon.

    It had probably been seven years since I've listened to the Amps, so that was really neat to have that song on there.

    I don't care if you call me a fag, but I really like Mason Jennings. He keeps showing up on mix CDs, and I don't own anything by him, but I like everything I've heard. Say what you want.

    I've got something in the works for a Tuesday afternoon post that will be full of arrogance, snobbery and holier than thou-ness. Tune in later for that.

    A sneak preview: Football is inferior to hockey.

    Now Playing:

    Hayden Elk-Lake Serenade