Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Idol Chit-Chat

Another thirteen-hour day and I'm too tired to write a ton, plus I only watched "Idol" tonight after I got home. So here are a few observations:
  • I'm a little bitter that I didn't make the joke I was going to make last night about Brooke and the polygamist ranch. It was a mix of the shirt she wore last night and her general vibe. Unfortunately, Mr. Tony's news guy made the joke this morning on the radio.
  • When they brought Jason Castro out first, I groaned out loud. It was obvious he'd be safe. I really hate him.
  • Nice move to narrow it down to two at 27 minutes into the show. That didn't make it too much easier for me to just fast-forward through everything until the very end.
  • Gotta love those Ford commercials. Apparently the Idol contestants can save the world by going green. Is the next joke that Jason Castro has been going green for years or that he immediately smoked all of those trees?
  • Paula's first comment was a little weak, but she really redeemed herself with the second one. No, I'm just kidding. I skip past any time she opens her mouth.
  • Natasha Bedingfield kissed David Archuleta on his cheek. At the next commercial, he ran crying to the dressing room where he scrubbed his face violently. After all, girls are sent by the devil to take away his God-given singing ability.
  • Which is more genuine: Neil Diamond's hair or David Archuleta?
  • They showed Kristy Lee Cook right as they cut Brooke. Was this to remind us that Brooke wasn't as bad as other contestants or was it to remind us that maybe the talent this year hasn't quite been as good overall as we thought it would be? Or maybe Roger Clemens is sleeping with her.
  • Will Brooke White ever shut the f*** up? No matter how I felt about her singing in the past, her constant backtalk was very annoying. Also, nice job with the last song.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Turn On Your Heart Light

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Why have I been looking forward to Neil Diamond week? It may be because Neil Diamond's parents used to live in the upstairs apartment that was part of my aunt and uncle's house. Why, after he became a big star, were his parents living in a small apartment in Brooklyn? These are the questions poised on the spears of time. What are the answers? We'll never know.
    • Could Howard Dean have been any more wishy-washy on "Meet The Press" this past weekend? Yuck.
    • And I was watching "Idol" as I'm writing this. Paula is seriously high. There's no other explanation for her not realizing that they had only sung one song. That was the biggest "WTF?" moment of the night. (Though not of the season -- that would still be the whole putting David Archuleta's head on the rearview mirror thing.)
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • This is no joke. This was actually on a network yesterday morning. I'm speechless.
    • Seriously, is that the absolute dumbest thing you've ever seen from a "news" show?
    • This is very cool, although he did turn the ball over. Hard to imagine the other candidates being able to do something like it, though I hear McCain plays a mean game of Canasta.
  • Ranking The "Idol" Performers:
    • 5. Jason Castro -- I'm not sure that he's seemed comfortable with any kind of music that they've had to sing this year. Unfortunately for him, tonight's show came about nine days too late. Although, I suppose, it's probably always April 20th for him. The second performance was abyssmal.
    • 4. Brooke White -- Okay, she's horrible. I guess I've finally come around. That "I'm A Believer" was one of the worst performances this season. The only thing keeping her from being #5 was a better second song and that other doofus.
    • 3. Syesha Mercado -- She was about as close to the pitch on that first song as I'd be to a Jake Peavy fastball. The second was much better.
    • 2. David Archuleta -- It's really just the two Davids and everyone else. I thought "Sweet Caroline" was by far one of his best performances in a long time.
    • 1. David Cook -- I knew this week would play well into his style. Diamond's songs are easily adaptable into heavier rock-ish pop.

Monday, April 28, 2008

These Pipes Are Clean

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • The long-awaited return of "House" tonight. Only four episodes, but it's well worth even the little taste.
    • Watched The Darjeeling Limited last night. Much like the new Harold & Kumar, it got mixed reviews, but it was much better than I thought it would be. Wes Anderson has great comic timing and knows how to ride a running joke just long enough.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • 12-hour day at work. Unfortunately, it wasn't the last one of this week.
    • My dog went to the groomer and came back poofy and with a bandana around his neck. I'm very glad that he's not self-conscious at all, because he looked like a fancy lad.
    • I bet you never thought you'd ever hear another Cabin Boy reference. I bet you have no idea what Cabin Boy even is.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I don't know what it was about the weather today. I'm normally not super affected by gloomy days, but I was just bumming all day. There was no reason, because this morning was the meeting each year where I get the most props in front of the entire staff, plus via meetings and various other means, I managed to do an amazingly small amount of actual work during the regular 9-5 hours. Maybe it's because I knew I had a long day; maybe it's because the weather has been so perfect over the last week or so and it was nasty today. Regardless, Monday is not the best day to be miserable, with four more days left to go.

Week In Review

Random bests from the past seven days:
  • Movie of the Week: Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. The reviews were lukewarm at best, but I enjoyed it. It's not as funny as the first, but it has its moments. If you know a movie isn't going to be Anchorman-level, all you can hope for is some great lines to remember, some surprise jokes, and a little surprise insight. You definitely get more than the bare minimum of all of that. So f*** you, donuts are good.
  • Athlete of the Week: Chase Utley. He's the athlete of the month at this point.
  • Activity of the Week: Eating matzah. The holiday is blessedly over.
  • TV Show of the Week: "Lost". It's back and any Ben flashback/forward is a good one.
  • Event of the Week: Rice being rationed by Sam's Club and Costco. That's some scary stuff when you really think about it.
  • Person of the Week: Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's refreshing when someone on "Idol" is actually honest.
  • Villain of the Week: Ira Katz. Really, just disgusting.
  • Coming Attractions for Next Week: Work, work, and work. A mini-bachelor party on Friday.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just People

Note: This is chock full of spoilers, but since the movie is 35 years old, deal with it.

It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of

Most people have heard this line in one context or another. It's one of the final lines from the 1973 movie Soylent Green, screamed by the great over-actor Charlton Heston. It's famous because his screaming is funny, because the whole idea is amusing. 35 years later, one begins to wonder whether the movie could be strangely prophetic.

Soylent Green is a futuristic thriller about the year 2022, but some of the themes in it sound familiar. Earth is overcrowded (check). People are living longer (check). The amount of people have caused shortages in basic foods (check). These foods have greatly risen in cost because of this (check).

The crux of the plot comes in at this point. It seems that old people have begun disappearing. What is happening is that the government is taking the old people into a room where they are shown pleasant movies about nature and then gassing them. The dead people are turned into the new, cheaper food called soylent green.

So we live in a world where the population does not look to be levelling off. Wholesalers have begun to ration rice, a basic food staple, for the first time that I can remember. The environment, with which Soylent Green doesn't deal, could even lead to worse crops. It's hard to imagine how these problems are going to quickly get better. At the retirement community I visited yesterday, the area where Alzheimer's and other very sick patients go for the remainder of their lives is even called "Renaissance Gardens". Nice name for a not so nice place.

Look, I know it's an impossibly large step to go from where we are to cannibalism. I know that the world has done enough with cloning and synthetic foods that there are other options. However, 35 years ago most of the plot points in this movie were unbelievable works of science fiction. And now, most of the plot points are happening. 14 years earlier than the movie had them happening. It looks Orwell wasn't the only person who thought up a hellish future and came up with our very real present.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Friday Notes

Okay, so it's actually happened three times that three different teammates have won the MVP award in consecutive seasons:
  • 1938-1940 Cincinnati Reds (Ernie Lombardi, Bucky Walters, Frank McCormick)
  • 1941-1943 New York Yankees (Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Spud Chandler)
  • And I was partly right -- 1961-1963 New York Yankees (Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard) -- I guessed it would be Berra as the third. Note that Maris also won the award in 1960 as well (with the Yanks; he was traded from the Kansas City Athletics after the 1959 season)

There have been a number of times where two teammates have won in consecutive years, the last being Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds for the Giants in 2000 and 2001. Of course, Bonds won the next three after that.

I really should put up a favorite sites thing on the left. This info came from It's my sports IMDB.

If you didn't see this story, you should. Between the fiasco at Walter Reed, all of the homelessness, and now this disgusting cover-up, one has to question if the government really cares about our troops.

Otherwise, it's late. So one other note: if you never expected to see a show end with a catatonic Walter Koenig (Chekov from "Star Trek") staring out from behind bars, you need to see tonight's "Soup".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Fans Are Stupid

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Three words to describe this week's "Survivor": Oh... my... God...
    • I mean, we all knew Jason was a moron, but why didn't James say anything? I wouldn't be totally surprised if James pulled off some kind of switch-up next week. Not saying it will happen, just saying I wouldn't be totally surprised.
    • "He sends shivers halfway down my spine." Ha! Great "Earl".
    • Great Final Jeopardy today. Something like, "This plains state capital doesn't contain any letters in the name of its state."
    • Method Man is so good on "C.S.I.:" and (was) on "The Wire". Yet they can't quite find the right show or movie for him to be the lead.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • The only way you can convince me that the Democratic primary wasn't over when she couldn't put him away on Super Tuesday is if she wins the nomination. Since she won't, I'm not backing off of it, no matter how long she sticks around and wastes her donors' money.
    • Shaun Alexander was released by the Seahawks a day or two ago. Goes to show that running backs are pretty interchangeable unless they're all-around weapons like Tomlinson or Westbrook.
    • Chase Utley is just absurd. With Howard and Rollins having won the MVP the last two seasons, I wonder if any team has ever had three different guys win the award three seasons in a row. I'll try to look it up. My guess is no, but if anyone, it would have to be the Yanks in the late '50s/early '60s.
  • "Lost" Comments/Questions of the Week:
    • Well, if there was any question remaining that the monster from the pilot episode was the black smoke, that question has been answered. How crazy was that scene?
    • Ben can control the black smoke? Has he always controlled everything it does?
    • What's with this crazy feud between Ben and Widmore? How did it start? What about the island are they fighting over? What's with these "rules"?
    • Pretty shocking scene there with Alex.
    • Were the people on the ship lying about the doctor being fine? Or, since time is so weird between the island and the outside world, was the doctor still fine in their "when" but dead in the island's "when"?
    • At the end, Ben says that Penny will never find the island. If she's still looking for it, is Desmond still alive and on the island? In other words, just because we know 6 people made it off doesn't mean necessarily that all of the rest of them are dead. In fact, it stands to reason that nobody in the general public knew that the Oceanic Six were even on that specific island, since Penny obviously doesn't know where it is.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I'm Back, Like Jason Castro Will Be Next Week

Finally got the cable and internet hooked back up. I'll think of some other stuff to write about tomorrow, including some movies I watched, but I'm going to stick only with "Idol" for now, having caught up tonight. "American Idol", the week that was:
  • It was a little disconcerting that Kim Kardashian (who, by the way, is famous for having a big ass and a sex tape) was sitting right behind Simon on Tuesday night. They should try to keep that area pseudo-celebrity-free.
  • I don't really care if that kind of music isn't up Jason Castro's alley. He hasn't taken anything seriously all season, and this was just a more obvious symptom. I think he could have done better to sing some kind of adaptation of "I Don't Know How To Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar. It was a folk song that hit #1 on the pop charts for a little bit. I'm surprised nobody sang it.
  • I finally thought that Brooke was not so good. Color me shocked that she wasn't in the Bottom Two.
  • I've noticed over the last couple of weeks that David Cook's voice is a lot better than I have given him credit for. That showed big time on Tuesday.
  • Bonus points if you can tell me where Carly messed up the lyrics on Tuesday! She sang the line right on the results show.
  • Speaking of the results show, have they ever had to fill as much time as they did tonight? I thought they were going to end up with 5 minutes of dead air at the end.
  • Or show a re-run of "'Til Death". I just figure that dead air would be less of a turn-off.
  • I don't necessarily agree with who got voted out, but she wasn't going to win anyway. It's all about the Davids, at this point.
  • And who got voted out? Why, it was Carly! Had to get that in one last time.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Thanks to a blunder by Comcast (I think), I'm without cable and internet until Wednesday morning. So, I'm sitting in Panera, which sucks because I can't eat bread, and using their WiFi for a little bit. So if there's no post tomorrow, so be it.

The one quick note is that I saw Expelled, the Ben Stein documentary about Intelligent Design yesterday. I saw it because a) it's about how Intelligent Design should be seen as a legitimate scientific theory and b) it got 0% from the "Top Critics" on Rotten Tomatoes (9% overall). That's right, it pulled a Blutarski.

The movie is pathetic. It's slanted, ignorant, and actually offensive in spots. It compares the scientific establishment to the USSR (showing the Berlin Wall countless times) and compares Stein to Reagan rather blatantly. It also uses Holocaust imagery to show that it is Darwin's fault that the Holocaust happened. Then it compares Planned Parenthood to the Nazis. I'm not making any of this up -- it's all in the movie. The film talks about how all theories should be given the freedom to be discussed and then it plays ominous music whenever someone says they are an atheist and then ridicules them. I knew it would be bad, but I didn't think it would quite make me angry. Plus, if you had made a bet on Stein finding stupid places within the movie to say both "Ben Stein's Money" and "Anyone? Anyone?", you'd win! F*** Ben Stein.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Night Is Different From All Other Nights

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Went to the movies (for the first time in forever) and saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It's gotten great reviews. I can't figure out why. It's very, very funny -- Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd are in it, after all -- and Russell Brand, a British comedian, is great as the villain. I'm not sure that Jason Segel is a leading man, but he's also very funny (though he has more than a couple scenes of full frontal nudity). It's worth seeing it for the funny lines, for sure. However, the directing and editing are abyssmal. And I really mean really, really bad. It's way too long; each scene seems to start a couple of seconds too early and last a couple of seconds too long. The cuts from scene to scene or bizarre and too harsh. The best/worst part: there are some conversation scenes that are shot in green screen that is so bad and noticeable that you can't stop staring at the edges where the people meet the background. Again, it's worth seeing for the Apatow-style ad lib jokes, but it's a really bad movie overall.
    • Ironically enough, the other movie I saw yesterday, on DVD, is not funny in the least, but it's very well-directed and well-edited. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead is a thriller about a couple of down-on-their-luck and morally abhorrent brothers who decide to pull off a robbery to grab some easy money. Something goes horribly, horribly wrong during the robbery and they, and their family, are forced to deal with the consequences. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney. I think that about says it all. I go back and forth on who is "The Greatest Actor In The World"; sometimes it's Johnny Depp, sometimes Russell Crowe, sometimes Sean Penn. It's awfully hard to argue against Hoffman though.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Props to my friend Dan for his write-up in last week's Weekend Edition from the Post.
    • This is horrifying. Just warning you.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Saturday night begins Passover. Passover is the Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jews' flight from Egypt after 400 years of slavery. You know, Ten Commandments and all that. Other holidays get the press like Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, or Hannukah, but what you might now know is that it's Passover that more American Jewish families celebrate. In this way, it's arguably the most important Jewish holiday. While Yom Kippur is the holiest day, the freedom from slavery is the key theme that is seen throughout every aspect of Judaism, so we are reminded of the Passover story every time we go to synagogue for anything. For eight days, we don't eat any bread (since the Jews had to leave Egypt so quickly that their bread didn't have time to rise) and instead eat matzah. Jews with ancestry from Eastern Europe (like me) also can't eat, for various reasons, legumes (green beans, soy beans, peanuts), rice, or corn (including corn oil and corn syrup). Those things are in a lot of stuff that you might eat on a daily basis. So why is this a rant? I would rather not eat at all for one day than have to eat Passover food for eight.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just A Man, Flesh And Bone

I kind of screwed up and deleted yesterday's post. Whoops.

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Good TV on tonight and new "CSI:", "Grey's Anatomy", and "Lost" episodes return next week.
    • "My Name Is Earl" was very funny -- Beau Bridges steals the show every time he's on.
    • More than anything else though, with this shaping up to be one of the worst seasons so far, we finally had a great episode of "Survivor". It was the kind of episode that will make the rest of the season great. Great job by Probst to order the votes to prey on the first true uncertainty of the season, but I was pretty sure what was going to happen when I saw the look on Parvati's face. She has to jump right into the lead for favorite to win. I didn't much like her the first time she was on, but she's pretty awesome this time.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Thanks for bringing Papelbon into a non-save situation... When will managers learn, if they're truly dedicated to protecting a young superstar closer's arm?
    • The Caps were a nice story. They'll probably be back next year.
    • I am very happy that, other than seeing it on the front page of the Post this morning, my life has been entirely unaffected so far by the Pope's presence around here.
  • Daily Rant:
    • That being said about the Pope, I'm actually a little unhappy with some of the headlines we've been seeing. There was a little here and there about his speech on peace and human rights, but the big stories have been about his comments and meetings regarding sexual abuse scandals. It's obviously been a big problem for the Catholic Church, especially for their reputation, but I can't believe that it's so widespread that the number of bad priests in any way come close to the number of good priests. Priests all over the country do great work in their communities and with children, troubled or otherwise. The publicity these scandals have gotten have led some local radio shows to have discussions where people posit whether or not the Catholic Church is comparable to the polygamist cults in terms of the harm it can bring to children. That's total garbage. Even though I vehemently don't believe in the same structure of divinity or the same social policies as the Pope, I recognize that he has few peers (maybe only the Dalai Lama) as a leader who can preach peace and have people listen. With the way the world is right now, let's let these good things take precedence.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Idols And Losers (I Don't Mean Kristy Lee Cook or Cindy McCain)

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • I'm actually pretty amazed at how much weight some of the people who were voted off early on "The Biggest Loser" lost by themselves going into the finale.
    • I don't think Jimmy cried on "Kid Nation" as much as Mark cried this season on "The Biggest Loser". Speaking of which...
    • I think Steve was just a little psyched about tonight's "Idol". Probably not as much as for tomorrow's. We really do sleep on what a prolific artist Mariah has been for the last 18 or 19 years.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Did you know that John McCain's website included some of his wife Cindy's favorite recipes? Well, it used to. They got taken down, because they were plagiarized from the Food Network.
    • Nice to see that Huckabee going nuts over the stupid "bitter" thing has actually hurt her in the polls.
    • Yes, I'm calling her Huckabee now.
    • I kind of got on a "Kid Nation" kick... Here is the one, the only, Jared. First he makes money, then he becomes a pimp.
    • This video is awesome, especially if you're an "Amazing Race" fan.
  • Ranking Tonight's "Idol" Performances:
    • 7. Kristy Lee Cook -- "Forever". Her freaking practice sounded awful, which didn't bode well for the performance. And she didn't disappoint. In terms of being bad, that is. Good low register, kid! Hopefully, the Bush voters will stop pushing her through.
    • 6. Syesha Mercado -- "Vanishing". First of all, never show any of the contestants singing with Mariah. That kind of destroyed the illusion a bit. In the second half of the song, she had more pitch problems than the Orioles. She's good, but she's just not good enough.
    • 5. Jason Castro -- "I Don't Want To Cry". I constantly find it hard to take him seriously. He's routinely pretty good though; I just don't like him as much as the top four.
    • 4. Brooke White -- "Hero". She did a lot better than I thought she would, given the material. Her style of music is totally up my alley. I am kind of getting tired of her back-and-forth with the judges though.
    • 3. David Archuleta -- "When You Believe" from The Prince of Egypt. I'm secretly a huge fan of this movie. He had some issues in the falsetto, but he routinely turns in strong performances, if a little boring.
    • 2. Carly Smithson -- "Without You". Nancy Wilson does Mariah Carey. She still kind of bores me, but this was a little more passionate than Archuleta's.
    • 1. David Cook -- "Always Be My Baby". He can make any song his own. I don't love most Emo stuff, but for this competition, he's easily the class of the bunch.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Win Ben Stein's Insanity

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Started to read The Know-It-All, A.J. Jacobs' book about his quest to read the entire Encyclopediae Britannica. He's very funny and very good -- if you still haven't read The Year of Living Biblically then just freaking go do it.
    • Mostly just caught up on Bill Maher and "Meet The Press" tonight from the weekend. Best moment: Mary Matalin when being harrassed about McCain bringing a third Bush term, said, "Look, people are so sick of the Bush-bashing..." Russert cut her off, laughing (with the rest of the panel), and threw it to somebody else.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Put in an offer on a house today. We'll cross our fingers.
    • Is it weird that I kind of want to see the latest Alien Vs. Predator movie on DVD?
    • I also sort of want to see the Ben Stein pro-Creationism movie. I just saw an ad on TV. I bet it's going to be fantastic! And enlightening!
  • Daily Rant:
    • Didn't the writer's strike end?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Week In Review

New weekly thing today. If nothing else, I figure it will help me keep track of good things for year-end rewards.

Random bests from the past seven days:
  • Website of the Week:
  • Athlete of the Week: Sherron Collins, Kansas PG. Mario Chalmers hit the shot, but it was Collins who set up the play with his pass/screen, plus his man-to-man defense on Derrick Rose kept Kansas in the game in the first place.
  • Activity of the Week: Finally getting to a ballgame specifically, but in general it was hanging out with college friends all weekend. Very good times.
  • TV Show of the Week: "The Soup Presents: Soup Side Show". The Monday night best-of shows are usually not as funny as the real thing, but this one demanded multiple DVR rewinds to rewatch jokes.
  • Event of the Week: The last episode of the Don and Mike Show. I finally caught the podcast and I found myself tearing up twice -- when Mike was about to leave and he started crying (the crying was rough, but just Mike leaving made the finality of it seem real) and at the end, when Don started crying and said his final "Love ya Frieda, love ya Bart." I've listened to that show for 18 years. 18 years.
  • Person of the Week: Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown professor. He's great on "Hardball", but he was absolutely spectacular on MSNBC's panel discussion about race on Friday night. I'm planning to grab one of his books from the library.
  • Coming Attractions for Next Week: Passover starts on Saturday night. Can you feel the excitement?!?

Random Saturday Stuff

Went to a Nats game at the new park for the first time. It's nice; reminds me a lot of the Philly park. The game was boring and there's too much construction going on around the place, but it's very cool to see the Capital dome while listening to the National Anthem and it's nicer to be closer in than RFK is. Of course, the view of even the Capital is going to go away as the construction continues. Overall, I think it's middle-of-the-pack if not a little above average as ballparks go. Definitely not anywhere close to Camden Yards, whatever-the-one-in-San-Francisco-is-called-now, or PNC in Pittsburgh.

Otherwise, not much going on. Hopefully Tiger can make the Masters very interesting on Sunday.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cherry Blossoms + 80-Degree Weather = Perfection

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • When I got home this evening, my cable box was on MSNBC from taping "Countdown" earlier. I was lucky enough to stumble onto a documentary called Meeting David Wilson about a young black man who tracks down the descendant of the family that owned his great-great-grandfather in North Carolina. More notable was the subsequent live panel discussion at Howard University. Just really fantastic, engaging stuff about race in America.
    • On a related note, the panel featured Michael Eric Dyson, a professor at Georgetown who has been on TV a lot lately, from "Hardball" to "Countdown" to "Real Time with Bill Maher". He is tremendous; I can't imagine ever being able to speak as eloquently and insightfully on an extemperaneous basis.
    • Today was the last ever Don and Mike Show as Don Geronimo retired. I've listened to the show since 1990, my freshman year of high school. I don't think it's quite hit me yet. I'll listen on podcast over the weekend, since I couldn't hear the whole thing today. We'll miss you, Don.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • You can have Central Park. There is no city in the U.S. (if not the world) that is as, well, perfect on a beautiful day as D.C.
    • Went to GW today to hang out with some friends and see the old place. It's changed a lot since undergrad, but it was pretty apparent that I've changed more than the campus has. College is a great time -- not much responsibility, mostly free on Fridays. I'll take my real paycheck and the freedom that comes with that and with being in the real world, thank you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idol Doesn't Like My Type

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • There haven't been many "Survivor" contestants with less personality than Amanda. She is quite whiny and annoying.
    • Jason better keep winning those challenges. He's next without a doubt because of his stupid move (but what's new with stupidity from the Fans?).
    • What's with every contestant except James having a not-very-secret crush on Ozzie? It's just a freaking weird season.
    • Did they seriously sing a Jesus song on "Idol" tonight (and not like "Jesus Walks")? I'm feeling very, very left out of the world right now.
    • They actually write "America voted and you are safe" on the cards that Seacrest holds? Kind of lame.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I ate damn near a whole medium-size bag of baby carrots today. I'm one more carrot away from looking like a thinner Syracuse mascot.
    • The Forrest Whitaker videos on "Idol" were really nice. They also made me hate this even more.
    • Do they give away platinum albums for downloads? That seems sort of dumb.
  • Daily Rant:
    • No, seriously, they sang a preachy Christian song on "Idol" tonight. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Every Other Night, Idol Takes And Takes

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • I know they raise a lot of money. I know it's for good causes. But "American Idol" is so freaking smug and self-serving about it. According to the greatest Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, "The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others." Maimonides actually laid out eight levels of tzedakah (the Hebrew word sort of equating to charity). What Fox does through "Idol" is #4: "When the recipient is aware of the donor's identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient." In other words, doing stuff for people is great, but beating your chest about it is not.
    • By the way, I'm watching it as I type this, so it's very likely that I'm going to get angrier and more annoyed as I go on.
    • It is kind of fun to joke about everything, such as: "Jeremy Piven must be there. Any place where someone is being self-serving on TV is like the Bat Signal for Jeremy Piven." Or my wife's "I can't believe Fergie is embarrassing Heart. Dude, you were on 'Kids Incorporated' -- go away!"
    • How about that weird Teri Hatcher band? It's a real band starring Greg Grunberg, Jesse Spencer (from "House") and Hugh Laurie (who must not have been there tonight). Here's their website.
    • Hey, it's Steve's favorite new act, Miley Cyrus!
    • Look at us, we're ExxonMobil, we're doing lots of great things! You keep seeing our logo on a charity event! Pay no attention to how much we're charging you for gas! We're great!
    • Fox takes about 7% of the raised money for administrative costs, which is pretty good for a charity. Last year that was $5 Million, which coincidentally was exactly how much Fox pledged to the charity last year! The charities they give to have good Charity Navigator ratings. It's definitely beneficial, much better than most of the stuff on network TV. Still more self-serving than they need to be.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Here it is, one last time for the year.
    • The funny thing about "American Idol" in general is that, for the most part, there's a reason that the kids are covering the songs and not recording them. If you ever listen to the original right after the "Idol" performance, you'll get some perspective. For instance, here's David Archuleta performing "Angels" and here is the original Robbie Williams performance.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Had a situation at work the past couple of days where a coworker with whom I work closely is leaving. He wanted me to take over a part of his job, which is a little more technical than mine. After some discussion with various people, the buzz what that I wouldn't even be considered because it wouldn't be the right step for me because my "career path is towards management". It's flattering, no doubt, but doesn't that just sound weak? When you get an MBA, you know deep down that you're doing it to be in management, but it just seems so nebulous. You're not actually doing anything except making sure other people do it for you. I know that's not what it really is -- you set the vision, work with the overall strategy, motivate others. Just on a practical level, it sounds so freaking lame.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Maiden Voyage to Nationals Park

Last night was my first chance to visit Nationals Park. I had heard nothing but great things based on the various reviews of people who got sneak-peaks (like Josh) or went to opening day (like several others I know). However, four hours after I entered the stadium, I left with mixed feelings.
There are certain things about the stadium that are absolutely fabulous. Everyone who walks into the park will be completely blown away by the immaculate scoreboard. It is crystal clear and so hi-def that I almost spent more time staring at the scoreboard than the actual field. (Remember that I was watching the Nats and Marlins...not a lot of talent on the field. The game itself reminded me of the epic Baltimore versus Montreal game that many of these readers viewed back in 2000 or 2001). The sightlines in the stadium are all spectacular and the food choices are plentiful. However, the stadium didn't have the same cozy feel to it that others like Camden Yards have. Even though there were roughly 15,000 people dressed up as empty seats, I didn't feel like the rest of the attendees were into the game. It looks just awful that the priciest seats, those behind home plate which cost $300 per seat, were almost entirely empty. Yes, I know it was cold and there was rain in the area during the day but this is Game #2 people. It is the first chance to go to the game without having to buy season tickets. Maybe the DC-Baltimore area really can't support two teams and this was a $610 million dollar mistake.
My big criticism of the stadium is the transportation issue. I know parking is extremely limited. That's fine. Growing up in Boston, I am used to having to take the subway to the game. I tried taking the Nats Express which shuttles you for free from RFK Stadium. Normally this would be a good way of getting to the stadium without taking the Metro or searching for parking. Unfortunately, the shuttle bus lets you off 6 blocks from the stadium. This is much too far considering there is not much other traffic in the area immediately before and after the game. After the game, we spent 20 minutes walking back to the bus while passing, at most, 5 cars. There is no reason that the shuttle couldn't pick us up a few blocks closer to the stadium. If they could move this pickup spot closer by about 3 blocks, I'd be a much happier camper and more likely to use this option in the future. Being picky, the out-of-town scoreboard reported a few incorrect scores and they don't have in-game updates like they do at Camden Yards. Once the stadium works out the kinks, I am sure it will be a positive experience, but it left me feeling incomplete where it could have been a more special experience.

Rock, Chalk, Championship

Sometimes you get a feeling at the beginning of a game that it's going to be a great one. I had this energy running through me that said, "This one is going to be an all-timer." It wasn't even a matter of whether or not that feeling would be wrong; you just kind of know it's the truth.

We'll be seeing that Chalmers shot for years and years to come, but there were some other great things:
  • I can't quite explain why Derrick Rose didn't take the game over the whole time, other than that Sherron Collins was just that good defensively in the man-to-man. He was everywhere against Carolina, so maybe that's not such a stretch.
  • How freaking good is Darrell Arthur? Kevin Love had serious issues with Memphis' interior defense on Saturday, but Arthur was fantastic.
  • Maybe the Tigers could have fouled (and maybe they tried), but Chalmers ended up with an off-balance shot with a hand near his face. You just have to tip your hat to him for draining it.
  • I was going out of my mind when they originally counted Rose's bank shot as a three. His foot was obviously inside the line on the first watch.
  • I was going to joke here about some of the commercials, but I think I'll actually save it and do a whole thing later.
  • Wasn't that kind of a lame "One Shining Moment"? It was okay, but it was really full of Memphis and Kansas. Only one or two Stephen Curry highlights, basically nothing from the Final Four games (the thunderous dunk by CDR on Love comes to mind), no sign of Duke anywhere (even the Gerald Henderson winner in the first round).

Assuming nobody leaves (which is ridiculous, since Beasley and Love, at least, are gone), here is my top 5 for next year:

  • 5. Texas (returns all 5 starters)
  • 4. North Carolina (only loses one key player, no starters)
  • 3. Memphis (loses only Joey Dorsey and bench player Andre Allen, who didn't play in the Final Four anyway)
  • 2. UCLA (loses only one role player, no starters)
  • 1. Kansas (loses Russell Robinson and Roderick Stewart, but that means that Sherron Collins jumps into the starting lineup)

I'm going to assume that Rose, CDR, and Brandon Rush go pro, but not Kevin Love or Tyler Hansbrough. Maybe a reasonable guess? That gives me a top three of Kansas, UNC, UCLA.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mark Penn, I'm Sorry To Inform You That You Have Been Eliminated

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Watched maybe the last eight episodes of Season 2 of "The Amazing Race" today. Great season, even better finish.
    • I finished reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter this morning. It's the book upon which the TV show is based. I actually like the plot of the TV show better. The ending of the book is not so good.
    • Catch "Meet The Press" this morning? Ed Rendell is really starting to tick me off. Nice backtrack on the "Obama can't win enough electoral votes" thing!
    • I watched I Think I Love My Wife on HBO On Demand yesterday. It's actually pretty funny. Apparently co-star Kerry Washington is a fellow member of the GW Class of '98. A little bitter that I never knew her back then -- she is money.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Has anyone absolutely demolished their reputation more than Mark Penn this year? Even Bill's legacy hasn't taken that much of a hit.
    • I think I have to stick with Memphis tomorrow night.
    • Could this finally be the year that the Yankees fall off? Outside of Wang, their rotation is more than a little suspect.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Went home-looking today. I can't figure out how there are some that are $75,000 more than others that really aren't that much better. There are a lot of factors that play into it, I know, but it still doesn't make sense. I'd love to see the face of someone from, say, Omaha if they saw how much even a small townhome goes for in good ol' Montgomery County.

April Madness

A few quick thoughts on the Final Four games:
  • Both blowouts, but still very entertaining. When you take into account the quality of all four teams, the basketball was at a very high level.
  • I guess Memphis is just a little better than I thought.
  • Derrick Rose is amazing. He really can do anything he wants at any time.
  • Kansas played as well for those first 12 or 13 minutes as any team can possibly play. They were everywhere -- it looked like they were playing 7-on-5. I knew Kansas was a better team than Carolina; more athletic, big guys to disrupt Hansbrough's inside game. I just didn't know they were that much better.
  • Prediction for Monday night: I have to go with Memphis with Rose being the difference. I just don't know if he can be stopped. The only caveat is that Kansas is so scrappy and so quick that they can actually run with Memphis.
  • No matter what, this is going to be a hell of a game Monday night. Vegas has Memphis (-1) with a total of 146. Take the over!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Body Of Work

And I come by here to say that America too is going to Hell, if we don't use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty, to make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to Hell. I will hear America through her historians years and years to come saying, "We built gigantic buildings to kiss the sky. We build gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our spaceships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our airplanes we were able to dwarf distance and place time in chains. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths....

America hasn't lived up to this. She gave the black man a bad check that's been bouncing all around. We are going to demand our check, to say to this nation, "We know that that check shouldn't have bounced because you have the resources in the federal treasury." We are going to also say, "You are even unjustly spending five hundred thousand dollars to kill a single... soldier, while you spend only fifty-three dollars a year per person for everybody categorized as poverty-stricken." Instead of spending thirty-five billion dollars every year to fight an unjust, ill-considered war... we need to put God's children on their own two feet.

Much has been made over the past weeks about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and some hateful language that he has used at times. The hateful language that has been played and shown everywhere comes from a couple of short snippets from YouTube. Wright, who otherwise most famously delivered the "Audacity of Hope" sermon, has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion for being racist, insane, and anti-American. It took one of the great speeches in recent memory for Senator Obama to overcome this controvery. Reverend Wright is now damaged goods in public opinion, no matter how many people he inspired or how many positive messages he delivered from his pulpit.

Read the top two paragraphs closely. These are the words of someone who feels betrayed by America. These are words that you would expect to hear played again and again on any number of radio shows like Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly, along with derision and attack.

Focusing on the quote that "America is going to Hell," the person who delivered those words, O'Reilly or Beck might say, is someone who ignores the "real" America that promises freedom to all, that was born on the idea that "all men are created equal." This is a hateful person who sees only the bad. Anything good that this person ever did or said has to be tainted by these beliefs. We don't have space, they would say, for people who are poisoning our society with hate.

We live in a society where too many people see everything only in absolutes -- you either love America all the time and speak positively of her, or you hate her. Frederick Douglass wrote in his 1846 Letter to Horace Greeley that "I am one of those who think the best friend of a nation is he who most faithfully rebukes her for her sins—and he her worst enemy, who, under the specious and popular garb of patriotism, seeks to excuse, palliate, and defend them."

Look at the top two paragraphs again and think about how we judge people based on a soundbite or a couple of paragraphs that we read. Think about what you would think about the person who spoke those words. Those are words that would be reviled by many in today's society. Those are words that would bring much anger and hatred upon the speaker.

Those were the words on March 18, 1968 of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. May his memory be for a blessing, zichrono l'vracha.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

There's No Crying In Survivor!

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • How about that Tribal Council tonight? Shameful, shameful, shameful. If your goose is cooked, just accept it without the tears. You reap what you sow.
    • New TV tonight!! Unfortunately, I won't get a chance to watch "Earl" or "CSI:" until tomorrow night. I'm way psyched for the "Earl" return though.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Two days away from what has to be the greatest Final Four ever.
    • Caught a little of the college slam dunk contest at a bar tonight. One kid did an honest-to-God 720. I'll stick a link up as soon as I find video.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I'm a little put off by how much Jesus is being mentioned on "American Idol" this year. I don't totally resent it, it's just off-putting. My solace is that of the current four best (the Davids, Michael Johns, and Carly), only Archuleta sings the religious songs. Pop means wide-reaching appeal and fortunately religious stuff just doesn't really cut it at that level. Plus, when Melinda did the religious thing last year, it was some real Gospel. Get some soul in it at least.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Great April Fools' Joke

Here's the best one of the year. Thanks to my co-worker who reads this stuff as part of her job for catching it and pointing it out to me. Note: You may need to sign in/register to the Washington Post website to read these articles.

You have to give credit to someone who's willing to go all the way with something.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dolly Parton Wants Your Brains

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Actual quote from "The Biggest Loser" tonight: "Australia is the second heaviest continent. Of course, the first is the USA." Yikes.
    • Don't you think a moment like that should have a little logo pop-up that says it's a nominee for "The Soup"?
    • Dolly Parton's undead zombie decided to show up on "Idol" tonight. It's entirely possible that when she takes off her makeup at night (assuming that it hasn't been surgically added) she looks like Norman Bates' mom.
    • David Cook was good as always, Jason Castro was way better than usual, and I hated Syesha's song choice. And please, can we perform the Kristy Lee Cook mercy killing?
    • I happened to catch a couple of minutes of "Dancing With The Stars" last night for the first time ever. How can anyone possibly watch it? It's cheesier than Kraft dinner. It's cheesier than the space between Dolly Parton's undead toes.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Believe in reincarnation -- Evel Kneivel is back!
    • I totally forgot to recount a story from the drive home from down south on Saturday. We were in Raleigh, passing by a big accident, when an ambulance came out at a stop light and we had to wait. Unfortunately, the pickup truck in the next lane didn't notice everyone else stopping. It slammed on its brakes, but the pavement was wet. The truck spun around maybe two or three times, sliding through the intersection. It came to a stop literally inches away from a car on the other side. I've never seen anything quite like it.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Why did April Fools' Jokes seem so funny when I was younger? They're just dumb now. Like Seacrest's "Idol" opening. The only decent one I saw was one on a news blog about Clinton dropping out of the race. When you clicked on the link, it had the big message. I guess it's much funnier to screw with people on days other April 1, when they don't see it coming a mile away.