Thursday, December 21, 2006

Discovery

Hoopsmack

In the glory days of my wit, I used to write things like this:
Living down here in South Florida I have the luxury or misfortune (however you want to phrase it) of watching Toine play for the Heat and after all these years I have been finally able to figure out why Toine shoots the way he does. For just the slightest of movements Toine loses his balance and is forced to shoot tippy-toe jumpers or last minute heaves at the basket while in the lane. The answer? His giant, oddly shaped head of course. If you are trying to balance a flowerpot on your head and you suddenly move without thinking what will happen to the flowerpot? Same situation here. Toine moves so fast that he forgets his head has to catch up with the rest of his body causing an imbalance of weight forcing him to of course shoot all out of balance. It makes perfect sense to me now.
Then there is the NBA's bottom ten. Unsurprisingly, the Brians Madsen and Scalabrine feature prominently. And finally, from their pre-AI trade musings on what would happen to each team should they acquire Iverson:
Milwaukee Bucks - Iverson begins to pout about a diminished role playing next to Michael Redd and is joined in his chorus by sullen second year center Andrew Bogut. The two get caught in a feedback loop which scorches the earth, converting the entiree [sic] state of Wisconsin into one giant nacho.
Maybe someday soon I'll watch a movie or read a book or talk about something not relating to sports...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All AI All The Time

My last one until he actually, you know, plays for the Nuggs.

But, damn, Henry Abbott gets this perfectly right:
You know those glow sticks they give little kids on Halloween? With the neon goo inside? Where you and I have blood, Iverson has that glowing stuff pumping through him. He's just on fire, all the time. If you could spread that magical juice throughout your roster, you'd win the title every year--talent and size be damned.

But as it is, Allen Iverson has two gallons of it, and most people don't even have a teaspoon. There's your trouble. Hmm... it's a game won by the best team... so what do you there? Through most of his career, Allen Iverson has known what to do there: win the damn game himself. He can see how and where the fire is burning, and by comparison it's almost all in him.

Deep inside all of us, upon hearing and seeing that, there's some eighth grade basketball coach ready to tear that little punk a new one, with a lecture about teamwork, a lecture about leadership, and a lecture about lighting the fire in your teammates, instead of complaining it's not burning brightly enough and moving on.

Well, I urge you to turn off that little coach for a second. Why? That coach's point is valid, but his tactics suck in this instance. You are simply not going to convince Allen Iverson to change anything about his game with a lecture.
15 years later, it's easy to forget how much heat Sam Smith got for writing "The Jordan Rules" because it supposedly made MJ look bad (I didn't think so at the time, but then I was never under any allusions that a professional sports team was full of best buddies. Remember the old adage about the Sawx, 25 players and 25 cabs...) The parts that were so controversial were about Michael's tendency to not just denigrate, but destroy his teammates if he didn't think they were matching his intensity. Which none of them ever were or could (with the possible exception of Rodman, but that was a craftier and less volatile MJ as well). The Bulls of the late 80's were littered with players who might have turned out to be functional NBA role players had Jordan not simply ended them as basketball players. Dennis Hopson. Brad Sellers. Stacey King. Heck, Kwame Brown is just now, maybe recovering from the scars.

But here's the thing, those that could survive the heat earned his respect, and acquired some of Jordan's drive. He willed Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant into becoming star material. Or more exactly he willed them to have that desire. And at the key moments in Jordan's first title run, he had trust in his team, finding John Paxson over and over for the buckets that beat the Lakers in what would turn out to be Magic's swans song.

Up until that point, people questioned whether MJ could be enough of a 'team player.' But put the right players and personalities on that team, and of course he could be.

And until I'm proven wrong, I think the same thing about Iverson. He is desperate to be surrounded by guys who will come with him. The one time he had anything resembling a tough-minded team around him, he went to the finals with Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Ty Hill, George Lynch and Mount Motumbo. Not a whole lot of talent in that group but they brought it every night. Snow may have been the worst jump shooting guard in the entire league. Until the Sixers needed it, then he was cash.

Is Denver that kind of team? Well first of all, that there is more talent alongside AI is abundantly clear. Secondly, the Nuggets have some tough (or at least tough-minded) bastards in Camby, Boykins and the dead hard Eddie Najera (No points for injured fake-thug Kenyon Martin though). Melo may seem laconic, but lest we forget, he's won a championship without a whole lot of help, give or take Hakeem Warrick. Whether JR Smith can handle the fire is a very open question. We shall see.

But my point is this: Iverson needs teammates he feels are both willing and able to win, and this is as close as he's going to come. And he's got to know that and adjust accordingly. I think he will. Else he's the spoiled punk everyone thought he was, and I'm eternally disappointed.

Worlds Colliding

Sometime, somewhere, I posted my top five press-conference meltdowns of all time. I can't seem to locate it at the present time, but I'm fairly certain it included Bob Knight and/or The Tuna losing it, John Cheney trying to choke John Calipari, Herm Edwards "playing to win the game." It was a while ago, so Denny Green was not yet "who we thought he was." But the top two, well, come on:



I could die happy. (H/t Skeets)

And as a bonus, Outkast vs. Charlie Brown:



(h/t Yogo)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Answer

If you don't love Allen Iverson you're either an idiot, know nothing about basketball, or both. This is a non-negotiable edict. I don't care if you think he's a thug, a malcontent, a coach-killer. That you hate hip-hop, tattoos and corn-rows shouldn't matter. When I think of AI, the first thing I usually think of (well, the second after smiling at the thought that he is my 80-something gramma's favorite player and has been since he entered the league) is Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire:
No heart? I'm all heart motherf*****!
Despite this, he is (or at least was, paging Mr. Artest and/or Mr. Anthony) the poster child for the NBA's "image problem". Which makes it a certain kind of perfect that he is apparently being traded to the Denver Nuggets.

The real villain is not Allen Iverson, it's Pat Riley.

If there is any justice in this world, the Nuggets and Suns will meet in the playoffs.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rawkin'











Rock Star

You scored 96%!

You damn rock star. You know all the basics, and if you got any wrong, I bet it was that stupid Traveling Wilburys question.

Your friends are probably intimidated by your knowledge of classic rock and envy your impressive collection. When a classic rock song comes on the radio, you can probably identify it before the vocals kick in most of the time. You probably get good scores on the "maiden name of Clapton's mom" tests, too.










My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on notes




The BASIC classic rock Test
(via Ahist)


I can assure you that it was not the Wilbury's question, because they didn't even ask about the fifth member, Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra. I think I just destroyed my street cred...

BasketBrawl 2.0

If ever there were a punk move in sports, it's got to be cheap-shotting an opponent, then blaming the opponent for running up the score. Once and for all, citizens of the world: If you don't like your opponent running up the score, play better. This is the big leagues. Your incompetence is not your opponent's problem.
- King Kaufman in Salon (h/t supersaurus commenting at Yglesias)

While I have some more rambling thoughts on "L'affaire d'Madison Square" over at TWT (thesis: Brad Radke and Carmello Anthony, kindred spirits. If that doesn't hook you, I dunno what does...), I've been surprised that I have shared in the modal reaction (see Yglesias and commenters as well as the majority of the FD commentariat: 'Melo (Namond Bryce, you mean? Nice catch, Yogo...) shouldn't have swung; Nate Robinson is a jackass; Mardy Collins didn't do anything that bad (and was probably put in an impossible position by Zeke); Stern overreacted, but the main (and unpunished) villain of the piece is fucking Isiah Thomas. Has there been a sports figure that has managed to so thoroughly destroy so many things as Isiah?

In any event, I think Mark Stein at ESPN captures my thoughts perfectly (and is behind the Insider wall) so:
Instant reactions to the main MSG Fight Night penalties meted out Monday by NBA commissioner David Stern:

Carmelo Anthony: 15 games
Too many games ... way too many when you hear that Isiah Thomas will sit out zero games. Seven to 10 games was a sensible range to me.

Don't forget that Orlando's Keyon Dooling and Seattle's Ray Allen got five and three games, respectively, for a scrap that happened less than a year ago. Melo's sucker punch, when things were finally dying down, was certainly more egregious than what Dooling and Allen did ... but not three or four times worse.

(One footnote: Any league suspension longer than 12 games entitles the suspended player to an arbitration hearing, but I'm told Anthony has not yet decided whether he plans to seek a reduction.)

Nate Robinson: 10 games
Five games less than Melo? Nobody -- not even Anthony -- escalated this thing more than Robinson, needlessly jumping in the faces of multiple Nuggets in his latest attempt to prove how big and tough he is.

Little Nate never landed the kind of roundhouse that got Melo in trouble. But his transgressions were right up there with Melo's.

And neither Robinson nor Thomas has shown a shred of remorse, either. Anthony, at the very least, issued a lengthy apology.

J.R. Smith: 10 games
This thing probably never gets near paying customers if not for Robinson. But Smith tumbled into the baseline seats with Nate and was later seen throwing a punch. So even if he was goaded, Smith's actions outweigh any alibis.

It should be obvious now that NBA fights will forever be scored differently -- and met with harsher punishments than yesteryear -- because each new fight dredges up memories and footage and commentary about the Malice of Auburn Hills.

Mardy Collins: Six games
Collins' inexcusable foul on Smith triggered the melee, and a two-handed hit that hard has to be met with a stringent penalty.

But I also believe -- taking my cue from insiders with both teams -- that he was merely a rookie doing what he was told by his coach.

Doesn't get Collins off the hook, obviously, but it apparently happened the night before, too: Collins was sent into garbage time of the Knicks' blowout loss at Indiana and picked up a flagrant foul in the final two minutes.

Isiah Thomas: Zero games
Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

You can argue that Zeke deserved to be hit hardest of anyone involved, frankly, given the MSG footage clearly showing Thomas telling Anthony that it "wouldn't be a good idea" to venture into the paint.

Isn't that proof of premeditation? An unmistakable threat?

The Knicks' spin -- Isiah was imploring Melo to show more class than his coach? -- is laughable.

Unlike players who lose control in the heat of the moment, I'm quite sure Thomas knew exactly what he was doing.
Yup.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

For the Guy Who Has Everything

My father is the world's hardest person to buy gifts for. This morning at coffee, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas (for about the 50th time since Dec. 1, I might add). He said "Let me think about it..." after talking with the Slat Rat for about 30 minutes while he cogitated, I asked him what he'd thought up.

"What was I supposed to be thinking about again?"

But thankfully, my blogfriends supply me with ideas. My dad loves margaritas, and is obsessed with snowmen, so voila!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Today's Truths

  • Shoals at FreeDarko has an almost indescribably fantastic post about, more or less, basketball as a metaphor for finding meaning in an essentially anonymity inducing consumer culture. Relatedly, I mourn for Francisco Liriano by demonstrating that (shameless) imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • Barack Obama... I mean this is 6 kinds of awesome, and really, for me, this is about 150 kinds of kick-ass. But since we here at WAP are all about substance over style (except when we aren't) how much of this is playing the Saxophone on Arsenio? I just don't know enough to get excited about him for any reasons aside from A) he ain't Hillary, and relatedly B) he might win, even against John (St.) McCain. Now, talk to me about Gore-Obama '08, and I'm ready with the bumper space.
  • KFMonkey drops the hammer on the third season of Lost boom. I don't really have anything to add other than to call bullshit on the show's creators any and every time they claim to "know where they are going" with the whole story of the island. If they're just making stuff up at this point, I'll start a fund so that we can get better, uhm, stuff to the writers' room, and we can go full-on David Lynch on this piece.

How evil are you?

  • A tailer-made description of why I keep saying (in comments) that basketball is not-especially amenable to SABR-geekdom from today's Daily Dime:

    You may never see a highlight of this play, as it did not result in a bucket or dunk, but follow this to get a glimpse of the kinds of things that happen in an NBA game on a nightly basis:

    Deron Williams beats a show by Dirk Nowitzki on a ball screen, drives middle and makes a sweet no-look pass to Carlos Boozer. Boozer, challenged by a good shot-blocker in DeSagana Diop, loses the ball on his way up, sending the ball high into the air. Williams, on the baseline following his pass, jumps high to keep the ball away from Anthony Johnson, who otherwise would have an easy recovery, and bats the ball toward the free-throw line.

    Boozer, Diop, and Devean George all make an effort to get a hand on the ball, but it ultimately goes to Andrei Kirilenko. AK-47 takes an immediate dribble toward the rim and Diop, who gets back into defensive position. Andrei bends his long 6-9 frame down to almost half his size and throws a perfect bounce pass, thru Diop's legs, to a waiting Jarron Collins under the basket.

    As Collins goes up for the layup, Diop reacts quickly and blocks Collins point blank at the rim.

    The entire play takes nine seconds and produces two missed shots, a good hustle play by four players, two terrific passes, and a blocked shot. And no points. Oh, and three verbalized "wow" calls by me as it happened. Highlights alone do not tell the NBA story.

    Nor do the stats as we collect them.

That's all for now. Theo, get it done, or JoBu is coming to get you:

Compare and Contrast

Without looking at the headers, which of these is actually Easterbrook, and which is parody? No points for answering "it is the real Easterbrook and a parody, your mother, your sister, your mother, your sister...." *SLAP*

Sorry about that...

Anyway, best bit of the parody?:
80% Of This Column Was Written Using Autotext! DirecTV has a monopoly! There is "dark matter" in the universe! CEO's who fly private planes are fucking assholes! Coaches only make decisions that will make them look good! No one touched the running back on that run! He shouldn't get any credit! My son Spenser is very advanced and will ruin the curve for your unintelligent child!
(HT joeo in the Unfogged Mineshaft)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Take Your Pick...

Two entires in the "why I love soccer" notebook...

Matty Taylor:


[Update: Deadspin reminds me that since Taylor has done this before, it's definitely not a fluke:


As I'm sure they're still singing in Portsmouth, Taylor For England!]

Or Michael Essien:

Sorry about the poor quality, when a better one goes up on YouTube, I'll snag it.

(Also sorry, Tim. I along with half of Manchester was hoping that Arsenal would hold on...I would have settled for a draw before a ball was kicked and certainly will live with it considering that shelling Lehman's goal took over the last 10+ minutes.)

Difficulties

I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I probably won't reach the 50 in 52 mark...unless, I account creatively. Hey, Ezra says it's ok:
I find actually listing the books I read throughout a year a troublesome enterprise. So many of them end up half-finished, somewhat-skimmed, or otherwise partially absorbed that I'm generally left with a fairly small number of books read, and a somewhat overwhelming mass of books somewhat read.
Indeed. I mean if I add together fractional books read, I think I'm probably over the hump. As it is, should I force myself to finish a book that kinda and/or totally sucks just to meet some arbitrary goal?

In my defense I had just finished reading this which I enjoyed immensely, and thought to myself "if I like a 'rivalry' book so much when the author hates my squad, it would be even better to read one where I'm with the Good Guys." Except that Blythe's book is well-written and original, whereas the Sox-Yankees book is reheated, rehashed and probably a staple on many remainder racks at this point.

So I may not reach 50 individual books completed, but will have read the equivalent of 50 full books by the end of the year. This strikes me as a plausible interpretation* of my resolution.

P.S. If you are a hoops guy, I thoroughly recommend "To Hate Like This..." One of my top five or so for the year, and certainly in the top two for sports (along with "Fantasyland" which I still hope to blog about at TWT prior to the New Year")


* It's true, The Law has destroyed what little shred of soul which may have survived the first 29+ years o'life. I'm legalistic parsing my own new year's resolution. This does not end well...

WHY?


I think I asked this last season, but if you're going to have an off-court dress code, why are these atrocities okay? First the new ball (feels ok just shooting around, but when you actually play with it, tears your hands all too shit. I've never gotten paper-cuts playing ball before...) and now this. Will the Real David Stern Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up?

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's This?

Random Gifts I've received on this Friday.

1. Just discovered TBogg's Friday Izzard Blogging. If you don't know about Eddie, well:


2. Somebody has promised me holiday cookies...I forgive you for spoiling that World Cup match, or I will once they arrive...

3. Blogger has given me the gift of allowing tags/categories on my posts. Because what I need is a time sink of going back through ye olde(ish) archives, and er, archiving things. And then maybe I'll get around to finishing the 7 books I need to complete in 23 days...(yipes).

4. My name is now on the new company letterheard. We just got it back on from the printer today. I'm such a sucker for trinkets like this...(though I'm still not listed on the website. Chop, chop, people)

5. Of course the office also has given me the gift of...working all weekend.


PigF***r.

By Request

I've been informed that people are really feeling the lack of Oranger SasquatchBlogging. This being friday, I thought I'd oblige:


Papa Pooh prepares to cud da toikey on T-day. Tyge, per his wont, is incorrigible.

I can say from recent experience that pops is actually getting off pretty easy here. During my recent dog sitting experience I realized how difficult it is to eat with one hand while continuously stiff-arming a 100+ pound dog with the other.

We know about Manny being Manny...

Tyge being Tyge...

In other cute pooch new, Gunner arrives (along with Lil Sis) next week. Sure there will be cute pictures to be had:


Maybe I should start a regular feature - Friday Pops and Dogs blogging. He does have a birthday coming up, and that kind of gift is right in my favored price range.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

These Five Things I Know Are True (12/6)

1. This week's Studio 60 was clearly the best of the year thus far. Sorkin can clearly write a Christmas episode (though I desperately wanted them to Just Shut Up And Let The Band Play at the end) - it got a little dusty during this:


2. "Heroes" on the other hand, might be losing me. Aside from Hiro, and the Cop Who Hears Voices, none of the characters really pop.

3. Via AOL's NBA blog (featuring Shoals of FD fame), Tim Hardaway, respect:



Timmy was probably my favorite player after Reggie Lewis died and before KG came along. Of course the "UTEP Two-Step" signature move from the old EA Sports games had a lot to do with it. (Two crossovers, a spin, and a running floater which went so high it went off the top of the screen, IIRC. And if you think that didn't have a formative effect on my own shot selection...well, as Tall says, I don't have shot selection as it's more of an accumulation.)

4. My Fantasy Football team blows, if you cared. Mainly because I'm terrible at it. The team I drafted would be doing pretty well. Given my GMing skills, maybe I should cut Theo some slack...not likely.

5. Finally, Miss Frankie, very, very very NSFW. Or for having liquid in your mouth while reading. Monitors are both fragile and spendy.

My Mantra

Tim asks:
Pooh,

Your public is waiting for you to weigh in on this JD Drew to the Sawx business.
Five year grace period...five year grace period...five year grace per, aw screw it.

WHAT THE F@*&, THEO?

I stick up for you, if you no sign Matsuzaka now...



J.D. Drew for $70mil? (ok, Julio Lugo is an upgrade at short...but then wouldn't Hanley Ramirez do just as well if not better? It's not like he's proven himself at the Major League lev...what's that? RoY? PigF****r...) To continue with a theme, he has talent but he has no...MARBLES. We think MannyBeingManny is flaky, but you never really feel like he doesn't give a crap, just that he goes about things the wrong way. J.D. Drew does not, in fact, give much of a crap. That's a good fit with the Boston media. But at least we have the Japanese John Halama on board.

I was telling PapaPooh the other day that if we don't close the deal on Matsuzaka, this will have been a disastrous off-season. Isiah Thomas bad. Matt Millen bad. Don Rumsf...no, that's too far.

Five year grace period...five year grace period...five year grace period...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Things I Know Are True

1. I was wrong, wrong, wrong about Vince Young. Good on you, son. Though I can safely say that I was 100% right about Eli Manning. Though Eli is not helped by his coaching being the biggest jackass this side of Bobby Huggins.

2. Ohio State. Give the points. Michigan. Give the points. Whoever is playing Notre Dame. Give the points and then some.

3. To quote myself on Wire #49:
Not to get all Bethlehem Shoals here, but 49 completely validated the agony any fan of the show has come to expect, dread, and crave in equal measures. In previous seasons, they've managed to spread out the heartbreak - this year, they dumped it on us all at once. In a way, it was a relief, because my expectations being what they were, I felt a great deal of foreboding as to what precise terrible things were about to happen.

Is there any way that Child Services lets Bunny take Namond in? Is the world only big enough for one of Michael and Bodie? How does the rug get pulled out from under Daniels?
4. Someone find me the YouTube of Carmelo going all Dr. J from this weekend...

5. I just got caught up on the first 3 shows of "DayBreak" this weekend. Surprisingly strong. Plus it has Jayne, playing, well, a guy just like Jayne. Good times.

Victory Is Mine

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 100%

You are a terrorist-loving, Bush-bashing, "blame America first"-crowd traitor. You are in league with evil-doers who hate our freedoms. By all counts you are a liberal, and as such cleary desire the terrorists to succeed and impose their harsh theocratic restrictions on us all. You are fit to be hung for treason! Luckily George Bush is tapping your internet connection and is now aware of your thought-crime. Have a nice day.... in Guantanamo!



Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


(via Yglesias, amongst others.)

In a completely unrelated note, can I get a Sheik, What? from my KFAN homies out there?


Program Director, Yasay?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Overheard

I understand that Kevin Garnett is a monster that emeges from a basketball shell covered in green gatoraide, but his career to this point compares unfavorably to Alex English's.

Ouch. Discuss.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Caught

I couldn't run forever - the powers that be have caught up to me. My assignment, whether I choose to accept it or not: Document Review.

It's everything I thought it would be and so much less...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lutefisk, Lutefisk

Lefse, lefse, I'm from Minnesooooda, yeah sure you betcha:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West

The Inland North

The South

Boston

North Central

The Northeast

Philadelphia

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
(Via CharleyC)

Well, not actually from there, but I lived there for long enough that I can pass. Especially when I get drunk - then I sound like Jerry Lundegaard.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Few Notes From Too Much TV Time (Election Edition)

1. Does anyone have a copy or video of Harold Ford Jr.'s concession speech? It was stunning. I was flipping channels last night, especially when they had candidates giving speeches, but I couldn't click away from his. Chris Matthews on MSNBC was clearly smitten, and with good reason. Magnanimous after perhaps the nastiest race in the nation; poetic; and appropriately upbeat - the man is 36 and clearly knows he'll be back.

Update:Here it is, (H/T Feddie)


2. I like Pat Buchannan. Not his politics (at all), but out of all the talking heads, he is the most honest. He doesn't say what you want to hear or what he thinks advances his interests, he serves it up straight, no chaser. And the rest of the blabbermouths couldn't deal with this. He alone avoids the Pundit's Fallacy. Part of the problem our politics has is that the discussion of it is often too meta - the thinking taking on additional layers of complexity like a Russian nesting doll.

3. Bye Rummy. Good riddance. Not entirely sure if this, in itself, means much in the way of 'change of course,' but combined with the realigned congress and the fact that Gates seems to be at the very least, a reality-based grownup (and thank goodness, not a fleepin' neocon), this strikes me as good news.

4. How does a state dependent on oil and gas (aka fossil fuels) elect a governor who doesn't believe in dinosaurs? FWIW, mom, I called both the governor and house race right to within 1 percentage point of the final margin. Diane Benson did well to get 40% (a female, Native, democratic candidate who favors subsistence over game hunting running against a billion term incumbent anti-intellectual redneck who refused to debate her...)

5. George Allen's quest to be Mini-Bush is getting a little creepy. Recount yasay?

What struck you?

Morning In America?

Look, I'm massively cynical about our political system. Perhaps painfully and counter-productively so. So don't begrudge me my morning of jubilation, okay?

Before yesterday, in my darker moments (becoming more and more frequent, and a major reason I stopped talking about politics in this space) I was wondering whether the American Experiment hadn't irretrievably failed. The Torture for Terror...er...Military Commissions Act was the last in a long line of straws by which we seem to have sacrificed our essential Americaness at the altar of...hell I have no idea what the purpose was unless I'm going to be completely cynical and say at the altar of political gain. To steal a quote from the (fictional) Jay Landsman, we did not cast off our ideals lightly. We hurled them away with great force.

And it's not like these actions were the result of a popular mandate. The President is unpopular, and has been almost continuously since America more or less decided he didn't suck quite as badly as does John Kerry - and the fact that it's even a question is a rather sad commentary on whatever conventional wisdom got JK the nomination in the first place. Giving massive new powers to a guy no one even likes that we know or at least suspect that he has no idea how to actually use constructively = bad times.

The rest of the world was watching, and this felt like out last chance to convince them that the worst things said about us aren't accurate.

It was in this frame of mind that I started hearing about various shenanigans yesterday morning. Being both a Red Sox fan and having only really followed politics since 2000, I was already expecting the worst. And then, it happened. I really can't describe it any other way than that. I guess the turning point for me was the first batch of Senate exit polls followed quickly by the canaries falling like dominoes in Indian, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. After that I felt pretty ok - the early reports of voting problems were overblown, and I was perhaps a little bit paranoid.

And now, with the human gift for turning history into narrative, I can see the TfT act as being the nadir, and maybe we can bring it back. I'm actually feeling a bit optimistic today. But that doesn't mean it's time to rest on laurels. The Dems may or may not have "had a plan" before today, but now they need to get on it, toot suite.

To go back to "The Wire" well, "gettin' clean is the easy part. Now comes life." Last night was the easy part, the new Congress has a mandate for change. Not for "change," but to put the work in and do it right. When it comes down to it, I think that the public is going to demand competence above anything else at this point. I'm prepared to accept (some) policy outcomes I don't like as long as we the people get what we pay for.

I don't know exactly what this "competence" means substantively, because that's above my pay grade. But I know what it doesn't mean, and that's more politics for politics sake. I'm all for investigations, but not witch-hunts. It's no longer enough to talk about how the current administration and previous Congress got it wrong. Show me something better, don't just tell me about how great it would be if you did.

So, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Reid, and the presumptive '08 candidates, you're on the clock. Don't let us down.

Update: See also, Ogged:
For as long as there have been liberal blogs, there's been a dastardly Republican majority in both houses of Congress. The blogs are voices of anger, opposition, and witness. So now what? Those things aren't the things we need anymore. I can't be the only person who looked at Eschaton this morning, saw that the Wanker of the Day was Rahm Emanuel, and burst out laughing. But I won't be laughing for long if the blogs don't adapt, and we have the activist blogs turning their anger toward moderates, and the wonky blogs having good faith discussions about precisely how to calibrate the COLA.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mr. President...

Henry Waxman, line 2. Something about "subpoena for records."

In other news, popcorn futures are way up.

A Sign

Just had a pretty moderate-sized earthquake up here. The earth is moving, and so forth...

Cocoon

Is it over yet? Are we there? Wake me up in time for the Daily Show tonight...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Are the MFY's Neocons?

I'm with Drezner, Best. Op-Ed. Ever.:

TRADE A-Rod’s continued failure to deliver in the clutch is diverting critical resources and dividing our team. He must go. We need to move on, now!

KEEP Trading A-Rod would lead to a disaster in the American League East. It would embolden other teams and threaten future Yankee clubs. To cut and run is not an option.

TRADE Neither is “Stay the course.”

KEEP Not once has the Yankee brass said, “Stay the course.” That’s never been the plan!

. . .

TRADE We’re sending our kids to fight an endless war in Boston, when it’s Detroit that attacked us. After we swept the Red Sox in August, you hung out your Mission Accomplished banner, but nothing has been accomplished.

KEEP The Yankees never said it was over. The news media said it was over. And I acknowledge the challenges. We must adapt. We must heed the experts. Joe Torre and his coaches have said they believe A-Rod should come back. We must listen to them.

TRADE Those are the same “experts” that batted A-Rod eighth!

KEEP You would stoop so low as to attack Joe Torre? Have you no shame? Have you no shame!

RTWT

In other news, Pasta Diving ("and another one pastadivingJeter") won his third straight gold glove. Dreams do come true.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Season-Appropriate Headwear

I've seen stories like this (hat tips to commenters all and sundry) pop up all over the place:
Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist.

That's exactly the kind of problem that sends conspiracy theorists into high gear -- especially in South Florida, where a history of problems at the polls have made voters particularly skittish.

A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said.

But hey, that's just Florida, we already know they can't figure out how to vote.

Except:
KFDM continues to get complaints from Jefferson County [Texas] voters who say the electronic voting machines are not registering their votes correctly.

Friday night, KFDM reported about people who had cast straight Democratic ticket ballots, but the touch-screen machines indicated they had voted a straight Republican ticket.
Some of those voters including Lamar University professor, Dr. Bruce Drury, believe the problem is a programming error.

Saturday, KFDM spoke to another voter who says it's not just happening with straight ticket voting, he says it's happening on individual races as well, Jerry Stopher told us when he voted for a Democrat, the Republican's name was highlighted.

Stopher said, "There's something in these machines, in this equipment, that's showing Republican votes when you vote for Democrats, and I know Ms. Guidry's a nice lady, and she's working hard, but her theory that my fingernail was somehow over the Republican button is just unrealistic, my fingernail was not. The equipment is not working properly as far as I can tell."
Jefferson county clerk Carolyn Guidry says her office has checked the calibration of the machines and found no problems.

She says the electronic system is very sensitive.


Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm voting Democratic...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mas Bookblogging

Finished #40 over the weekend (and it was a doozy), but need to get caught up after the quickies from last week.

#32 "In the Shadow of the Law" by Kermit Roosevelt: Probably this year's winner of the "Wolf" memorial "all setup, no payoff award." Continuing my trend of doing unwise things before a big life change, (like viewing "The Paper Chase" the night before my first day of law school...and then my torts prof turns out to look just like Kingsfield. Of course, he turned out to be a real sweetheart, but I was yet to know that and was thoroughly terrified...) I read this legal thriller (use of term is advised) the weekend before starting the new job.

From what I can tell, Roosevelt gets BigLaw culture pretty right on. There's the superstar, the striver, the frat-boy, the burn-out, the old coot, etc.

And then, well, it gets silly. I won't spoil it for you because describing the various plot set ups would take too long, but suffice it to say that there is not one, but two ridiculous deus ex machina reversals that would have John Grisham himself shaking his head and saying "no f'in way." Not quite as cringe-worthy as Dan Brown's hand held parachute in Angels and Demons, but close.

#33 "Assassination Vacation" by Sarah Vowell. If only "Killing Yourself to Live" had been as witty, fun, and oh yeah about the advertised topic as this one. A meandering journey through the twists and turns of the Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley assassinations, and the motley cast of characters each seemed to throw up. Most intriguing and tragic was the story of Lincoln's son, who, Forrest Gump-like was more or less present for all three. Just the right dose of modern politics for my liking as well (Vowell, unsurprisingly considering her oeuvre, is decidedly, though not viciously, left-of-center.)

#34 "What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States" By Dave Zirin. Is it odd to be a Marxist sportswriter? It would have to be - I can't imagine a more perfect "opiate of the masses" than spectator sports. In some places *cough*NotreFreakinDame*cough*, football really is religion. But anyway, Zirin is in fact a Marxist sportswriter. Unfortunately for this reader, he spent a little too much time in the Rick Reilly School of Overwrought Simile. Combined with his decidedly Leftist politics, there are some profoundly silly passages. I'm all for more Dick Cheney jokes. But just not bad ones.

Anyway, some parts of the book are actually decent - the historical sections dealing with Jackie Robinson, Ali, and the Carlos/Smith black power salute. Easy enough where events have shown the protagonists to be on the Right Side of History, as they say. The more recent stuff, not so much. Too often, he confuses "wit" (advisedly used) with substance. Further, sports seen through a completely political lens is uh, lame. He can't decide whether the players are the avenging angels or class traitors. I get confused.

That said, there are some decent bits in the more recent stuff. He takes a nice healthy run at George Foreman, and actually had two very thought-provoking essays defending Barry Bonds. Overall, too much vinegar, not enough...(huh?)


More soon...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bookblogging Update and Quick Hits

Well, I'm at 39, just finished Sully's, will get to that sometime this wkkend. Since I'm hopelessly behind in blogging the quest for 50 in 52, I might have to cheat a little and give some quick hits.

#25 - Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford: I can save a ton of time here by simply saying 'What Angelica Said.' The main thing I took away from the book is how ruthlessly utilitarian the more famous of the Khans (Genghis and Kubilai) were. They get a bad rap for being cruel and all that, but the time period, they weren't so bad. Ok, if you were an enemy soldier, they killed you, but there wasn't nearly the wholesale slaughter, rape and pillage which seems to be a staple of other 'civilizational' contests.

#26 - A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage: Like Salt, but with liquor instead. Since I like drinking more than I like cooking...

#27 - How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer: Think of P.J. O'Rourke doing his "everything is crap" routine, but instead of warzones, soccer clubs. Really would have been better titled "How Soccer Reflects the World," but that's a minor quibble for a very readable book.

#28 - Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by David Winner: Quite possibly the best book I've read this year. Wide ranging discussion of Dutch culture, ingenuity, individualism, racial integration and the 'style vs. substance' debate, seen through the prism of Dutch soccer. The Dutch are, with reason, often known as 'the Brazilians of Europe' for their stylishly attacking football. At least prior to this World Cup's much less extravagant side, they were. But there are particular psychological, perhaps even psychiatric reasons why they never seem to come good in the end. Fascinating read.

#29 - 31 - The Mind of Bill James by Scott Gray; Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville by Stephen Jay Gould; Fantasyland by Sam Walker; 3 baseball books, which I'll cover at TWT sometime soon.

More to come sometime this weekend...

Clockwork

Monday - First Snow of the Year

By Friday - Massive Head-Cold. Blech.

For future, reference massive head-cold #2 is scheduled for late February. Just in time for...aw, crap.

The Irony is Perhaps Lost

I really had no special desire to see this.

That is, until this (via Glennzilla):
In an Ironic Twist of Events, NBC and The CW Television Network Refuse to Air Ads for Documentary Focusing on Freedom of Speech...NBC responded to a clearance report submitted by the Weinstein Company’s media agency saying that the network “cannot accept these spots as they are disparaging to President Bush.”

The CW Television Network responded that it does “not have appropriate programming in which to schedule this spot.”
I'm not sure which angers me more, CW's lying (not being a demographer myself, I can only speculate that there would be substantial crossover in the audiences for say "Gilmore Girls" or "Veronica Mars" and the Dixie Chicks. But that's just me, who am I to tell the bastard child of the 5th and 6th broadcast networks (out of...six) that they have no clue?) or NBC's uncharacteristically bald-faced truth telling.

Glenn hits on a point I've made (see here) in the Net Neutrality debate:
Once corporate-owned networks start selecting which politically-tinged ads are "too controversial" and which ones are not, it is inevitable that messages which please the political leadership which regulates those corporations will be allowed, while messages that displease those political leaders will be rejected.
FWIW this will probably shake out in favor of the film, if this controversy gets any play at all. For example, I now think I'm going to go see it seven or eight times out of spite. And I hate the Dixie Chicks...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Slice of Pooh

My favorite libertarian recently posted an article on FoxNews (how do they still let him post there? He's clearly an apostate. But I digress...) about the sillyness, both substantive and political of the GOP's decision to ban online gambling (read: poker):
The people who are going to be affected by the ban are the millions of Americans who play online poker recreationally — and responsibly. But that $12 billion per year is going to simply dry up. Problem gamblers and minors will still be able to find places online to make wagers.

Any attempt to prohibit consensual activity is going to create black and gray markets. The legitimate, law-abiding gaming sites may now be out of reach for Americans, but that'll create a niche for truly unregulated sites. These sites will be far more prone to fraud, won't much care about the age of their customers, and customers who are defrauded will have no recourse.

There's also no telling who's behind them. But it's probably a safe bet (pardon the pun) to say that the people operating black market, blatantly illegal gambling sites will include a significant criminal element.
This being a topic on which I have some interest (former lives and all that...), I fired off an email, which he was good enough to publish:
Good article. I have two points to make in response - the first is that this is incredibly tin eared on the part of the GOP. My guess would be that poker professionals *should* be solidly in the GOP base - there is no more naked a form of capitalism then the ruthless meritocracy of poker. Yet, as you suggest, in a single move, the GOP has decided to jettison this group (a group with both visibility and money to spare to contribute to candidates who won't try and kill their livelihood.)

My second point relates to the notion that this is simply leaving tax revenues on the table. Yes, the operators of poker rooms won't pay taxes, but neither will the professional players. I subsidized grad school with online poker, and I always paid taxes on my winnings. Now? No way would I expose myself to criminal sanction by declaring "Other Gambling Winnings." And I don't think I'm the only one. Given the size of the market, that's significant tax revenue simply being left on the table so that state lotteries (or, as most poker players refer to them "taxes on stupid people")
and Indian casinos can maintaint their monopolies and we can "save the children."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Gregg Easterbrook: Making Sense (almost)

My favorite new show of the season is Friday Night Lights - (Heroes, Studio 60, Shark and The Nine all have their moments, but suffer from certain flaws. KF Monkey covered Heroes overly-portentious dialogue pretty well; Studio 60 is, surprisingly for Sorkin, unsubtle; Shark is an unabashedly terrible show made watchable by James Woods; I think I think The Nine will become less interesting the further in time the characters move away from the opening bank heist.) And I don't think I'm the only one.

Despite this critical acclaim, the show has struggled for ratings out of the block, so TMQ says "save FNL":
Here are the good aspects of "Friday Night Lights." First, brilliant cinematography. Many television shows claim to offer theatrical-quality film values; "Friday Night Lights" actually does. NBC has spent a ton of money on "Friday Night Lights," a reported $2.6 million per episode -- perhaps too much for the long-term survival of the series. In Hollywood, production money often disappears into Ferraris for the director and presidential suites for the cast; "Friday Night Lights" producers are getting their money's worth onto the screen. The episodes have many outdoor scenes, which are more expensive than studio-filmed scenes; lots of crowd scenes; lots of gritty depictions of school corridors, parking lots, restaurants, gas stations and other standbys of daily life. (The greater the number of scenes, the more expensive an hour of television is to produce; many contemporary TV dramas have too many scene shifts, but that's a separate issue.) Next, the acting is first rate. Third, the situations and characters presented are as close to real life as television can come. Yes, the cast is better looking than any representative sample of actual people, and 25-year-olds play 17-year-olds. But there's no over-glamorized action, no preposterous subplots. Surely "Friday Night Lights" would have stood a better ratings chance had the show been some "Gilmore Girls"-esque teen inanity [Pooh: Seriously Greg, Gilmore Girls is your best shot at 'teen inanity?' Afraid to take a shot at The OC because it's on Fox? Tsk tsk]. Instead "Friday Night Lights" challenges viewers with material that isn't flashy or pumped up.

Now to the not-so-good aspects. The pilot episode not only was a total downer -- it ended with the character you thought would be the series focus being paralyzed for life -- but gave viewers the impression the show held small-town life and prep football in disdain. The pilot was heavy on subliminals suggesting the producers thought the sort of people who play or care about high school football are rubes or have warped values. That view might be defensible as an artistic choice, but my informal survey of friends who love football culture and who watched the pilot was unanimous on this point: Everyone one of them said that if "Friday Night Lights" was going to be about bashing football, they weren't going to watch. It turns out the show does not think small-town America or people who care about high school sports are weird; subsequent episodes have been sympathetic to the characters and to the town depicted. But as the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Having the pilot be depressing, then end with a character paralyzed and everyone sobbing, was the sort of touch effete Manhattan critics love, but viewers don't -- who wants to watch more of that? The "Friday Night Lights" pilot was a disaster in terms of stating the show's case for its audience. This show would have been better served to start with the second episode, whose concluding image -- the coach and his petrified backup quarterback standing alone on the field of an empty stadium late at night with all the game lights on -- was haunting.

Okay, so Easterbrook can't help being a populist anti-snob, no shock there. I'm not an effete Manhattan critic, and I loved those aspects of the pilot, features not bugs as they say. However, I think he's quite probably right from a viewership standpoint - the reason that all sports movies are the same is that the 'scrappy underdog making good in the big game' thing resonates. Even if you know it's coming.

And FNL turns that paradigm on its head a little - there have been legit "chill scenes" in every episode thus far (the hail mary in the pilot, the one-on-one under the lights and "eyes wide open" scenes in episode two, and the conclusion to the 'standard training montage' in last week's episode). But the show never ends on these high points, as if to say, after the game ends their is still life to live. Last week's was a particular gutshot sort of moment - bringing in the hired gun QB right after the team building solidarity of the previous day's midnight practice. Perhaps appreciating these reversals do make me a Manhattan elite, but whatever.

In any event, watch the show, it's worth your while to get caught up.

Update: Easterbrook can't help himself from being a tool in some aspects - see Yglesias, who disses so I don't have to...

Monday, October 23, 2006

"The Departed"

Finally saw "The Departed" this weekend, and while it was eminently watchable, and certainly worth my $9.25 (!), it didn't quite match the hype. I'm underwhelmed in large part because there was nothing new here. It's a nice genre piece, but I've seen it all before (though I actually haven't seen "Infernal Affairs" the Hong Kong film which this is a remake of).

I suppose as a whole, "The Departed" is a superior film to "Gangs of New York," but "Gangs" was more interesting because of my unfamiliarity with the milieu. Performance-wise, Damon, Di Caprio, Baldwin and especially Wahlberg were great, and I don't think Nicholson was as "big" as everyone has been saying (there was one Lecterish moment, but that was largely it for the indulgent scenery-chewing.)

I endorse wholeheartedly the criticism of the inanity of the film's final shot. The phrase "on the nose" comes to mind.

Perhaps I'd be more positive if the tautest portion of the film hadn't been spolied by the fact that not one but several idiots brought their toddlers to a Marty Freakin Scorecese movie. Are you high? So the rightly lauded scene consisting of Damon and Di Caprio silently listening to each other being silent over a phone connection was broken up with ga-ga-ing, and perhaps a goo-goo or two. Spolis the tension somewhat...Plus one of the kids couldn't sit still, and was wearing those shoes with the lights in the heels, so it looked like there were cop cars actually sitting in the front of the theatre with the lights on.

Anyway, if you can stand violence and profanity, see it. Thoroughly professional, though not quite transcendant. B+

:(

(Scene 8:15 AM - Anchorage, AK. Location - my driveway)

Pooh: Ohmigosh what is that white stuff on top of my car???

(Cue sinister music)

Pooh: It's, it's, it's Termination Dust

(Jangling strings, ala "Psycho")

Well, hey, only about 5-8 months until I see green grass again. Who am I kidding, like I'm allowed to go outside during the work week anymore anyway...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Que?

YADIER MOLINA?????

(or if you live in NYC, Yadier 'pinche cabron' Molina)

((Of course while I was typing this, the Mets have 2 on none out...))

(((Cliff Floyd needs to swing harder)))

((((Why is Paul Lo Duca's theme music "Boogie Shoes" not confidence inspiring))))

(((((UHM, swing the bat, Carlos...)))))

Saturday! Bonderman! Carpenter! It's the World Series on Fox!!!

... Heh, been there myself, Met Fan (as some have in fact witnessed)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Missed...

Amidst the hullaballoo of, well, nothing, there was no hullaballoo, I missed the One year anniversary of this here blog (it was roughhly Tuesday). Happy belated B-day, WAP...

Belated Bookblogging: "The Good Fight"

Apolgies for the age of some of the links here, I wrote the bulk of this almost two months ago. FWIW, I'm up to 38 for the year, so I think I can still make my 50 in 52 plan.

In reading "The Good Fight," and then thinking about why it left me feeling more than a bit high and dry, I recently came across a series of questions. Questions which author Peter Beinart should be able to answer in the course of developing his vision of "liberal internationalism." But in the end, he probably can't, at least not within that framework, because for all the high-minded rhetoric and historical analogy at his disposal, there's no there there when we drill down from a philosophy to what polcies to follow. First, the questions


A common query:
So here’s a question: What happens if the war had been executed competantly? Let’s assume this wasn’t Donald “Special Forces Solve Everything” Rumsfield, but a real military leader like Eisenhower or MacArthur and we’d gone in the right way. Let’s assume for one imaginary moment that we played it smart, maintained stability in the region, and installed a pro-Western Democracy on par with Jordan or Turkey. Would you approve of the war then?
Callimachus (quoting Abe Lincoln):
Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert ? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked Administration of a contemptible Government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional, but withal a great mercy.
M. Takhallus:
Sixty five years ago we fought a war with Japan following their attack on Pearl Harbor. Within a matter of a few months we were burning down Japanese cities. The Japanese of that era favored wood construction and we dropped incendiary bombs. Later, when the technology became available, we dropped atomic bombs. You can argue one way or the other whether there were significant, legitimate military targets in each and every case, but let's take it as granted that there were. Nevertheless, incendiaries in packed cities full of wood houses, I think we knew what would result. I think we knew the firestorms might suck the oxygen from the lungs of children as well as adults, women as well as men, opponents and supporters of the regime alike. Fair enough so far? Question: were we right or wrong to do it?

(See also here for a thoughtful follow-up)


Admittedly, these are tough questions, but a serious, 'important' tract on a "new approach" to U.S. foreign policy should provide some guidance as to how that approach would handle difficult questions...if the problem was easy there wouldn't be such strenous disagreement now would there.

And for all the good work Beinart does leading into his prescriptions, this is where he fails. Much like Andrew Sullivan, Beinart talks a good game about lessons learned, and hubris, and multilateralism. But these 'epiphanies' don't mean much if they amount to calling for "more of the same, just better."

That said, there is much to recommend here. I don't have the historical chops to dissect Beinart's discussion of post-WWII liberal foregin policy or his chapter on the rise of the violent strain of salafist Islam which seems to be the motivating ideology of Al Qaeda ("The Looming Tower" is on the book pile, and hopefully it will tell me more ), but these historical chapters are a useful primer. Further, Beinart's demolition of the errors of the Bush administration carries the tone most easily recognizable as that of a scorned lover.

In particular, I think Beinart is correct on the dangers of overly moralistic absolutism (I think the major point of contention among the posters at my other place [ed: nice catch, 'Pick] is our individual tolerance for ugly outcomes. Or, more harshly, the extent to which we believe ends can justify means.) It may came down to us having to do some nasty things that in a better world, we'd prefer not to, but a demand for purity uber alles strikes me as having the practical effect of demanding we do nothing, ever.

This is not to say that we should no longer strive for morality and ethical behavior, to the contrary. Beinart is explicit in his view that an important aspect in this conflict is the degree to which we remain true to our ideals, as well as the degree to which we are seen to remain faithful.

Which is nice, but there is a not-so-subtle irony of a book which purports to fill the void of concrete vision in liberal circles, but gives us not much more than the very platitudes sought to be replaced.

Beinart could have saved us all a lot of time by simply saying "I was very wrong. I'm sorry that I was an ass. Everything is a mess, and I have no idea what to do now. Send me a check."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Eek!

As some (one) of you may have surmised, the bosses have found my little cubby-hole. Where I fear I shall stay until about Thanksgiving at this rate...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Day 4: The Sickness

Should I be worried? The scene, 5:30ish on a standard Thursday afternoon. I'm just packing up to go home...the phone rings. It's a partner asking me if I'm available for an emergency project. (This being my first week, there is only one acceptable answer here, really.)

What does it say about me that I was elated by this turn of events?

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Pooh's Views of Early Fall TV: The Good

So far the new shows I've decided to watch have been a bit underwhelming We've seen the debuts of several new shows, and I've taken a gander at several of them: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip; Smith; Shark; Six Degrees and SHeroes. By and large, meh. Today I'll talk about the ones which I have liked so far, later, I'll get into the bad and the unoriginal.

1. "Heroes" - okay, so they are so obviously going for the X-Men storyline to appeal to the immense fanboi base. So what? I'm something of a fanboi myself, so it works for me. Plus, they've made several good choices - only one of the players introduced thus far has the Supermannish whiny-guy thing going, and they have made some very interesting choices not just for powers but for who has them. I particularly liked the inclusion of the Japanese salaryman, as well as the flying brothers.

Additionally, they are aiming more for Darknight era Batman, rather than Adam West. I'll take dark and mysterious over campy pretty much any day. One downside is I'm not convinced that either female lead is up to carrying the show. Well, I'm convinced that Ali Larter isn't, and I don't recognize the girl playing the cheerleader, so I'm, at best, skeptical. A further negative is that they appear to have picked the Most Annoying. Voice. Ever. to do the "previously on 'Heroes'" bit: B+

(However, Kung Fu Monkey has a good point about the dialogue, which is at times...pretentiously portentious:

he first episode was laden with the particular disease of non-genre guys writing genre: "Behoooold. I bring you superheroes WITHOUT CAPES! What brave new world of fiction is this? And look, there's even a plotline using a series of pictures as a narrative device. They are called, in the underground, 'co-mic book-es.'"
Indeed.)

2. "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" - Profoundly disappointing pilot episode. Not saying it was bad, but compare it to the pilot for "West Wing." Maybe for those who never watched "Sports Night", the show might seem original, but I feel like Sorkin is covering old ground with 30 minutes more per week to use. Matt Perry and Brad Whitford seem to have a nice reparte, but I'm concerned that they are not distinct enough from each other either in appearance or personna. I could be proven wrong, but who wants to watch "Smart and Smarter?" I did enjoy the opening teaser (and especially enjoyed the dig at the Media for all reporting the "Network" aspect of it, as if it was an original observation.)

Lest I seem too negative, I thought the second and third episodes were better - a lot will ride on Sarah Paulson, who didn't have much to do in the pilot, but has certainly been growing on me. She'll always be compared to Allison Janney's C.J. Cregg. High bar there. Additionally, I don't feel like we 'know' any of the characters besides Matt & Danny so far - what is D.L. Hughley supposed to be doing? (And after ignoring the 15-year old looking groupie in almost perfunctory fashion, what odds on their being a shocking twist regarding alternate sexuality?) Is Nate Corddry (of "Daily Show" moderate fame) playing Topher Grace playing Jimmy Fallon? Will Danny Concannon, er Tim Busfield ever stop inducing "hey it's C.J.'s hubby! What the hell happened to his beard?" reactions. I know, I know, it's early, but my expectations were pegged insanely high.

But despite all my complaints, it's Aaron freaking Sorkin writing the dialogue, and Matt Perry and Brad Whitford can still in fact bring it: B

(Slate disagrees with my last point, writing the show off as an excercise in "I'm Aaron Sorkinbitch!, and you're not")

3. "Friday Night Lights" - There was not a single original element in the pilot episode. Isn’t there a rule against a director of a film (Peter Berg) turning around and directing a TV show of the same title? It’s supposed to work the other way, right? (See Miami Vice, Firefly/Serenity, etc…) To my recollection, Altman had nothing to do with MASH the series, for an example of a movie being made into a show.

So, let's see, take the basic plot line of "Varsity Blues," remove the MTV-related goofiness. Mix in the hyperkinetic, shaky camera work from "The Shield," and in the soundtrack from "Any Given Sunday" because it works well for football. Add insanely violent football action, plus the Standard Miracle Comeback ("SMC"). (Simmons has a point:

I can't stomach another climactic game scene in which the home team recovers an onside kick, runs the next play for 20 yards, then, on the final play, the QB throws a 50-yard pass that his WR catches on the opposing 30 and takes off for the winning TD. Not even the CFL has 140-yard football fields. Come on. This isn't rocket science.
I know, didn't occur to me at the time either, but yeah.)

All that said, it was still amazingly well done for network TV, and fully watchable. Even knowing what was going to happen the SMC still had chill potential. Even if the throw should have gone 30 yards out the back of the endzone unless Deer-in-headlights backup QB guy took at 23-step drop before throwing...The trash-talking rapper/preacher running back was surprisingly effective as well - in his prayer following the game, his cadence reminded me uncannily of that of my former college roomie who's now a pastor.

The challenge now is to make the show interesting and believable across a whole season. How many SMC's can we really believe in? And will the show be able to maintain the almost painful earnestness, or will it be reduced to what Tall Guy predicted: "The OC" in pads? B-

I am most intrigued by "The Nine" - after the disappointing premiere of "Lost" (by adding more and more stuff to the island, they are in danger of neutering the essential "Lost"-ness of the whole deserted island thing. More on this one next week, I promise). The pilot teased, and now we really want to know "What happened inside the bank?" Unfortunately, I'm guessing from the previews of the second episode that it is going to be told, in a piecemeal, flashback manner. The premise is "Lost" inverted. And I'm not sure that's a good thing - the backstories make the island happening more interesting, I'm not sure how much I'll care about What Happened After to the Nine until I know What Happened Before. Of course, I could be wrong, and it could be pure marketing genius, as the show will demand repeated viewings once the whole thing plays out, spurring DVD sales, etc...but I'll stay with it for a time, at least. Grade: Incomplete

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Day 3: Arrived

2 independant and perhaps inconsistent thoughts today.

1. I still feel an awful lot like I'm playing dress-up, or going to a halloween party as a Real Lawyer.

2. I'm looking out my window(!) to see the maintenance folks putting up the sign on my reserved parking space(!!). I'm easily purchased, I fear.

Bigamy (Sports Edition)

Let's Go Twins! And by "let's go," I mean "goddamnit, you led the AL in hitting, how about, you know, hitting. Looking at you Baby Jesus Mauer." Of course, I'm more sanguine than these guys or that guy (heh,

BTW)

Or especially her.

Update: No sooner had I composed this bad boy then Cuddy and Morn-ofertherseries went back to back.

Update the second Ouch. No sooner had I updated than a "failed to turn the DP" led into Torii deciding that coming back from 1-0 down in the series is just too easy. That was almost Bostonian the way that there developed, sorry TwinKids for the jink...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Quick Baseball Predictions

Twins over A's in 5: Twins can take 1 of 3 when Johan isn't pitching.

Yankees over Tigers in 3: Young team, in a tailspin, gets hypnotized by the 45 minute 7th inning stretch at the stadium (which includes everything short of Disney on Ice, these days...)

Padres over Cardinals in 4: La Russa probably pinch runs for Pujols, which ends up costing them the deciding game. If there's a baseball equivalent of the basketball "Look! I'm coaching!" timeout, it's Tony La Russa doing pretty much anything. This is still a really good book, though.

Mets over Dodgers in 4, before the lack of Pedro derails them. (It's almost as if one could have predicted that Pedro would be very good for a year or two after he left the Sawx, and then his arm would fall off. Almost.)

Let's Go Twins

Day 2

It was a dark and stormy morning...

And they haven't fired me just yet. Which is nice. As can be told from the lack of updates after 10 am yesterday, the bosses found me (depending on who's here and not in trial, I have between 7 and 12 on any given day...not to mention the IT people, accounting, who really owns my ass, and of course my secretary who could do my job twice as well for half as much...or so she tells me. Not that I disagreeto her face...)

To answer some questions from yesterday - yes, I got the spiffy plant. I don't have to look busy, I am busy. State of mind and all that. And Sam, .2 hours, not that I have a timer or anything...