Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Show That Masi Oka Is The Star Of

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • The Heroes season remains solid so far. They continue to make it into more of a live action comic book than anything resembling reality. More below.
    • Got home from work early today (half day for the holiday) and turned on MSNBC to watch the fun. It was kind of like a video game to see the Dow numbers bounce around the way they did.
    • Are the Ravens for real? It seems like it, but I don't want to get my hope up too much.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Here are two sites that randomly generate a Sarah Palin-esque response to questions. This one has already-generated questions and has better answers, but this one lets you ask your own questions and has dumber answers.
    • I wrote my piece on the high holidays for this "blogger carnival" that my friend at Shtetl Fabulous put together. Her post contains links to a bunch of different posts from different blogs about the Jewish holidays. I would do the same sort of thing, but knowing me, it would be about something like the relationship between Jesse and Andrea on Beverly Hills, 90210 and who would really want to write about that?
    • Speaking of the high holidays: shannah tovah, bitches!
  • Heroes Comments/Questions of the Week:
    • This is nitpicking, but did Nathan really hook up with Niki in the Corinthian hotel? I seem to remember that it was the Montecito, since that was a reference to NBC's show, Las Vegas. I can't find out either way by looking at the Heroes Wiki, so who knows.
    • Who is Daphne working for? Angela Petrelli? Mohinder?
    • Who is the Haitian working for? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would just go around trading secrets.
    • Sylar is pretty good as a Fed, no?
    • Can people pass on powers (i.e., the whole thing with Parkman)?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dallas Dealt Defeat

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • The big season premiere of Dexter tonight. It seems like a good plot for the season, with Dexter having accidentally killed someone who seems innocent. Most importantly, the level of acting took a bit of a step up. The actor who played Doakes was not so good so with his death, they have a hole for a new character or two. The guy who seems to replace looks okay so far, but they also added Jimmy Smits in a guest role. I guess the show has gotten big enough that major actors are willing to do guest spots.
    • Speaking of major actors, another solid episode of Entourage. This one was a bit less comedic than usual, but the show has never been a straight sit-com anyway. The ladies from The View (minus Walters) were on the show and their line reading was pathetic. That whole section came off as so phony.
    • Finally, the season premiere of The Amazing Race -- a great show, but I still prefer Survivor. The thing about this one is that the first few episodes are relatively worthless. It's cool to see where they go, but the race doesn't get really interesting until they get down to the really capable teams.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • We need Sarah Palin to defend us from an event like this.
    • Short week coming up with only a half day tomorrow and no work on Tuesday or Wednesday. Of course, I have to sit in services, but it's a fair trade-off.
  • Week 4 Thoughts:
    • Putting aside the 2000 season, which was a long time ago, is Kerry Collins a Super Bowl-caliber QB? Is Tony Romo? I think both are fair and equal questions, but so totally different. I feel like Romo turns the ball over too much and all Collins needs to do is play it easy and let that defense work.
    • Brett Favre threw for six TDs today. In the same game, Kurt Warner turned the ball over six times.
    • Didn't the Skins fans want to get rid of Jason Campbell at some point? He's getting near elite status.
    • I think we learned that the AFC West stinks. In other words, there's no good football being played west of Dallas.
    • The worst football state has to be Ohio, right? That Cleveland-Cincinnati game today was the football equivalent of an Ed Wood movie.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Street Fighting

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Chris Rock premiered his new special on HBO tonight. You know, that guy is pretty funny. He may just have a future in this comedy thing. Seriously though, he was so funny that whatever attempts I make at jokes tonight will seem sort of lame.
    • The cold open on SNL was a spoof of the Katie Couric interview. It was reasonably funny, with Tina Fey still nailing the Palin voice. One of the jokes was that instead of writing lines, Fey just recited the actual responses. It was funny, but didn't have that special something that the first one had.
    • On the other hand, the debate skit was pretty worthless. I was hoping for a bit more. They made fun of both of the candidates fairly equally and they totally missed out on the McCain-not-looking-at-Obama thing. Pretty lame. Go after one or the other, but don't hedge your bets.
    • The best joke in the news was something along the lines of, "The bailout plan will help Main Street as well as Wall Street. Martin Luther King Boulevard, you're still screwed." I was thinking of jokes along the same line last night -- see below. The dispassionate Clinton impersonation during the news was fantastic, by the way.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I'm just going to think about Paul Newman's passing. He hasn't done anything of note for a while, but all I have to say is: Exodus, Cool Hand Luke, The Sting. I may even watch The Sting tomorrow in honor of him.
  • Jokes and Jokes and Jokes and Jokes:
    • We're all sick of the Main Street/Wall Street thing, right? What we didn't know is that original versions of the plan were meant to help other streets, as well.
    • E Street -- $22 million to ensure that they keep running, as they were born to do.
    • Sesame Street -- $249,000 stimulus program to help with trash can foreclosures.
    • 42nd Street -- $18 for a CD of the show, since it includes the song "We're In The Money" and any bit of positive thinking is a plus.
    • Elm Street -- $50 million to change nightmares to good dreams, so people aren't miserable when they're asleep as well as awake.
    • K Street -- Oh, never mind. I'm sure that Congress wants nothing to do with K Street.
    • 34th Street -- $700 billion because we need a freaking miracle right now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Update #2

McCain cursed at Obama. Seriously. Check out 4:30 on this segment. McCain clearly says, "Horseshit" twice:

Update on the Update: Maybe he said, "Course not." Not sure. Whatever, he was angry the whole night.

Early Morning Update On The Debate

Point of clarification -- if you want to know why I was so sure last night that Obama had won the debate handily, even in the face of pundits saying McCain made better points, here's why:
  • Studies (that I've read but can't seem to find right now) have shown that people remember what they see, not what they hear. Also, it's obvious that certain impressions of debates stick with us much longer than the content. Bush 41 looking at his watch while Clinton spoke. Gore sighing. Kerry being long-winded. Other than "fuzzy math," do you remember anything that was actually said at those debates?
  • That being said, the visuals were obviously well in favor for Obama last night. We knew all along that he would have a huge boost because he's younger, better-looking, and taller (though the cameras were stationed so as to take away that height advantage). But did McCain have to feed into it by being hunched and condescending? He looked like a mean old man. Which, funny enough, is the stereotype that haters tried to put on him this year. He could have seemed very warm by just LOOKING OBAMA IN THE EYE. That easy. Instead, he was disrespectful and people noticed. It's a disrespect that I've written about a number of times over the last month or so (see: Giuliani and Palin at the RNC).
  • As for the impressions we'll take from it, that's going to be up to certain media (or as Sarah Palin might say, "mediums") to point out certain moments. In 2000, it was Saturday Night Live that parodied Gore's sighs and brought them to the forefront. So what will SNL parody tonight? It could be Obama agreeing with McCain, but I'm 99% sure it will be McCain's condescension. Hence, why I thought that will be the big story that will take hold.
  • Finally, McCain may have done well with the pundits, but were they the real audience? Nate Silver breaks down the internals from the polling last night (that showed overwhelmingly that Obama won the debate) and points out some very surprising numbers.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Liveblogging: Debate #1

10:37: It's blessedly over. Game. Set. Match. The big story will be McCain's inability to look at Obama and his constant chuckles. This sucker is over.
10:34: Wait, wait. McCain is stumbling over himself, trying to compare Obama to Bush? Nice.
10:32: He's closing so strong with knocking Bush. "Hey, did you all forget that Bin Laden is still out there?"
10:30: What a fantastic closing shot by Obama about world faith in the US. And McCain won't touch it. Wow.
10:27: I like that McCain came out against torture. Thank God for that, at least. (Though he did vote for it in the Senate).
10:26: Great last question about 9/11.
10:24: Is it as obvious to anyone else as it is to me that McCain doesn't take Obama seriously? I mean, it's been obvious all along, but he's treating Obama like a little kid.
10:19: I don't think this patronizing tone is so good. Oh, and by the way, the KGB hasn't existed for quite some time.
10:16: Mac got a good blow in with that "Oh, please!" line.
10:08: Oh, John. You didn't screw up a name. Please, say you didn't do it.
10:07: "Russia and China, which I think Senator McCain might agree, aren't democracies." That was pretty good.
10:04: Ok, I'm done with the censorship for a moment. I'm fucking tired of McCain and Palin bringing up "the second Holocaust." Sick and fucking tired of it. It couldn't be more insulting.
9:59: This discussion of his record is the best thing McCain has said yet.
9:56: Ok, this is mostly boring. But that actually helps Obama. McCain needs a game-changer.
9:48: This sounds horrible, but I'm kind of getting emotional over this. Obama is so concise and so forceful that I'm kind of overcome with joy. This is going better than I could have ever dreamed.
9:45: John, just f***ing look at him! Stop smirking! This is the equivalent of Al Gore's sighs in 2000.
9:38: All along, McCain won't look Obama in the eye. Even when Obama is addressing him directly, McCain looks at Lehrer like Obama is a joke and smirks. This will be a huge thing, I guarantee.
9:35: Jim Lehrer just said that the President "rules" the country. I can't think of a funnier joke than just pointing that out.
9:31: Of course, I'm watching on MSNBC. On Fox News, McCain is probably winning.
9:30: On the liveblog at fivethirtyeight.com, they're talking about how hard it is to judge debates objectively. It's true, I'm going to make fun of McCain no matter what, basically. Can't imagine he's doing so well objectively, though.
9:28: McCain to himself: "Broad band? What's that? Is he talking about The Supremes?"
9:26: McCain to himself: "Don't smile. No creepy smile. Can't help it... No, stop! Don't!"
9:24: Jesus, why don't we get off the earmarks already? 'Cause I just got off yours. Or something like that.
9:19: This site is interesting. It's tracking partisan response during the debate.
9:15: Was McCain just unbelievably stupid enough to knock animal DNA-testing in Montana??? After that seal crap in Alaska? Wow, that was dumb.
9:14: Ok, let's stop this Main Street/Wall Street crap. I'm tired of it. If the Yankees can go away, so can this.
9:13: That line about regular people having their own financial crisis at the end of every month is going to be a big sound bite for Obama.
9:09: I just noticed that Obama is wearing the flag pin. That was one of the big (quiet) caves of the campaign.
9:07: People will lose their "credits"! Will my degree be taken away? Will the quarter I put into Ms. Pac-Man not count?
9:06: Hey, J-Mac -- Sen. Kennedy actually was already released from the hospital. But whatever, that's nitpicking.
9:04: Wow. right off the bat with the bailout... This could set a bad tone for Hail Mary McCain.
9:03: Wait, one of them is black???
9:01: The Comissar of Cute keeps barking. I think he's as excited as I am. Either that, or he's pissed that I trapped him in the basement. Which, coincidentally, the McCain campaign is doing to Sarah Palin until November 4.
8:53: Ok, here's what they need to do.
Obama: show up and stand on the stage with McCain (see: Reagan, 1980).
McCain: Um, apologize to the American people for his mess of a campaign? Tell everybody that Sarah Palin was a big joke and introduce Mike Huckabee? Hmm... I'll think about it and get back to ya.
8:52: Getting ready... I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this, but since I'm watching it anyway, might as well. Why waste my good jokes on forgetfulness?

But Whoever Should Be The Secretary Of Cluelessness?

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Big TV night for premieres and started with My Name Is Earl. This remains the only sitcom I watch on network TV and it's well worth it. There was some great Beau Bridges action tonight (the second episode being better than the first) and some great lines as well. Here's one that's catching on for me -- when Randy found a suit behind a dumpster with a litter of kittens and when he was told he would be the President in the movie, he responded by saying, "And here's my Secretary of Cute," before pulling out a little kitten. Awesome. I spent the entire night calling my dog everything from the Grand Poobah of Cute to the Assistant Undersecretary of Cute.
    • A very solid Grey's Anatomy premiere picked up right where the last season left off, which is good. Sloan was badass, as usual, and they made a great choice on the new character with household-favorite Kevin McKidd (Rome, Journeyman) joining the show.
    • Finally, my favorite show, Survivor, kicked off its new season. Best of all, this year it's in HD. I don't know what they were waiting for (CBS has been notoriously behind on HD coverage of the NFL), but it looked pretty spectacular. They have a beautiful location in Gabon and a couple of interesting people already. My favorite to win out of the chute has to be Marcus. My favorite to make fun of? Easily, it's Charlie, the gay lawyer who immediately developed a super creepy crush on Marcus (who's straight, but very nice about it). This should be fun to watch and I can only hope that we end up with a weird version of Ozzie's super-wussy love-speech to Amanda from last year's final council.
    • By the way, if I didn't say it before, I dropped Fringe like a hot piece of crap. Which, coincidentally enough, it is.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • You realize that if 90210 continues to be successful, we'll see more shows like that being brought back. Which means we could be headed down the dangerous path to Charles In Charge: The Retirement Years or Golden Girls In Heaven.
    • We know that Sarah Silverman is very funny (when she's not on Comedy Central, at least). You must watch this video that she cut for a new site called The Great Schlep, which aims to get young Jews to visit their grandparents in Florida and convince them to vote for Obama. I'm not kidding.
    • If you're a Republican, you should really come on over to the good guys for this election. You're missing out on such wonderful humor. While you're cringing at every hem and haw in front of Katie Couric, we're laughing our asses off at what a dolt they picked for a running mate. It really is freeing to have a candidate that you trust implicitly not to screw up. You should try it.
    • Crap day tomorrow with an 8:30 meeting followed by what should be a very rough funeral. I will be liveblogging tomorrow night, the night I've been waiting for more than any other since June or so, as we have the first debate, where Barack Obama will be matched up against either John McCain or his own hand with a face drawn on it.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I was at a class today that took place in a library and someone pointed out this book, a children's book about September 11. It includes a very simple telling of what happened and some hand-drawn pictures of wonderful things like a plane about to fly into a building or a plane crashing into a field. Great stuff for little kids. Also, it talks about how the country really came together and everyone is very patriotic and nobody argues over politics. Seriously. Yeah, that lasted about two minutes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Day To Remember

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • I'd say that House is on fire this season, but it's always very good, of course. The new P.I. character is great and they're doing a solid job of weaving House's personal problems with the medical mystery. Still one of the best two or three shows on TV.
    • I love the new 90210. I think I've mentioned that. The whole part where Dixon thinks he's about to score with Silver and realizes that he's just given away the lone condom he had carried in his wallet for four years was classic. Anybody who's been an eighteen-year-old guy gets the joke. Best lines of the night: "My mom gave me an after-school special talk about sex." "What's an after-school special?" "Google it!"
    • I hope you saw Letterman tonight. Dear God... If you didn't, you'll be reading about it everywhere on Thursday. I actually started to feel a little bad for McCain during the Top Ten list, but then it kept getting worse and worse. I think it's safe to say that there is one guest who will never go on Dave again.
    • You know, it wasn't such a bad speech from the Prez. I don't quite get why he kept rubbing against the microphone and maybe it was a little technical for the lesser-educated of us, but it was effective and blessedly non-partisan.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • This is where I comment on what happened in the world of politics today. But, I'm suspending my comments because Congress needs me there to help. Well, they certainly need me as much as they need McCain.
    • No, really, too much happened. This may be the best day of the campaign yet. Hence...
  • Your List Sucks!: The 11 Worst Things That Happened To The McCain Campaign on 9/24/08.
    • With a quick note that most of things are interconnected and have very obvious causal relationships...
    • 11. Rick Davis -- The Times and Newsweek both confirmed that Davis' firm had been receiving $15,000 a month up fom Freddie Mac until last month. Also that Davis had met with execs in 2006. That would be one year later than 2005, which was when McCain insisted yesterday that the relationship was severed. This led to the first moment of extreme awkwardness in Palin's embarrassing interview with Katie Couric (#3).
    • 10. The Media Backlash -- So the campaign attacks the press and says that they are out to get McCain and they don't expect the media to call BS when McCain pulls a questionable gimmick? You have to wonder if anyone plans anything a day in advance in this campaign or if they're running around panicking like the scene in Airplane 2 when they find out they've run out of coffee. Yes, I made an Airplane 2 reference.
    • 9. The President -- Oh, wait, he's still in charge? And to which party does he belong again?
    • 8. The Obama Response -- Here's some of the text. "Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time." Ouch.
    • 7. The Joint Statement Fiasco -- Obama called McCain privately and then waited. McCain eventually called him back and supposedly agreed to a joint non-partisan statement. Two minutes later, McCain came out with his big announcement. So which is worse, that McCain stole Obama's idea and tried to one-up it politically? Or that when McCain aides said he was in deep conversation all morning with advisors, they were lying?
    • 6. Palin's U.N. Visits -- One of my co-workers made me double over in laughter today when she referred to it as "speed-dating the world leaders".
    • 5. Letterman -- I can find some of a transcript, but it doesn't do it all justice. I could try to find a YouTube link, but the vitriol lasted as much as two-thirds of the show, so it wouldn't be long enough. Letterman absolutely tore McCain a new one tonight.
    • 4. Polling -- Do you want the ABC/Post one that has Obama +9? The Fox News one with Obama +6? More importantly, +9 in CO, +9 in PA, +6 in NH? The campaign had to hold a press conference with their pollster to fight against the results. This was the real cause of everything -- with the economy at the forefront and the numbers getting out of hand, McCain needed a huge gamble to get the headlines back. Unfortunately, see #10.
    • 3. The Couric/Palin Interview -- There are two cringe-worthy moments here: the awkward pause and uncomfortable repetition of the talking points at the very beginning, and the cluelessness at the very end. Also, saying we might go into a Great Depression wasn't real smart.

    • 2. Delaying the Debate -- I think the afternoon SurveyUSA poll about this was bogus, but it's not hard to figure out that people have been waiting for the debates. I know that McCain can't afford to legitimize Obama while the polls are going the way they are. Tough luck.
    • 1. Suspending the Campaign -- What can you say? Presidents can't quit. Presidents have to multi-task. I know he's losing, but does the McCain campaign have to keep pulling gimmick (Palin) after gimmick (lies) after gimmick (today's crap)? Does anyone actually think he'd make a good President if he has to resort to this crap every other day?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Random Essay: Repentance Is So 12th Century

An intro for our non-Jewish readers: We're coming up on the Jewish High Holidays, also known in Hebrew as the Yomim Nora'im ("days of awe") or the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah ("ten days of repentance"). These ten days will start at sundown on Monday with the beginning of Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, and ending ten days later with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The belief is that once per year, God opens up the Book of Life in which is inscribed the fate of people for the next year -- who will live, who will die. The Book is opened on Rosh Hashannah and sealed on Yom Kippur, so Jews are supposed to practice teshuvah, or repentance, for those ten days in order to ensure that they will be looked upon kindly.


You're standing in synagogue on Yom Kippur, hungry because you're fasting and bored because you've heard the whole thing dozens of times before. Your mind wanders a bit as you basically recite from memory. Only three prayers ever really stand out for me and I'm putting aside Unetanah Tokef because I'm only ever moved by how many tragedies (9/11, Katrina) seem to strike close to the holidays. The other two are Al Chet and Ashamnu, confessional prayers that list our sins. This is the time for reflection, which I suppose is the whole point. It's your last chance to look back over the year and think about the horrible things you've done so you can repent and start with a clean slate. Well, folks, I'm here to tell you that it's BS. If you're waiting until then to repent, you may have snuck on board the Halachah bus, but you've missed the life one.

We sin. We transgress. It's what we do. Nobody's perfect. Hopefully, we have the presence of mind to apologize to whomever we've hurt, but that gets done almost immediately. If you're waiting a year to apologize for something and the person is still angry at you, whatever you did is probably too big to be brushed aside with a "sorry" anyways. But, of course, teshuvah has nothing to do with other people. We repent so that we can feel good about ourselves. It's the secret behind that scary guilt that Jewish mothers wield so skillfully. Are we being the best person that we can be? And you're going to wait until the next Tishrei to answer that question?

Maimonides wrote about teshuvah in the late 1100s, when life was much simpler. If he wanted a tish with his boys after Ma'ariv, then they'd have a standing agreement or maybe they'd send him a letter. He wasn't getting texts at 5PM asking if he wanted to meet up last-minute at the new shtetl hotspot. He thinks he was perplexed? He wasn't sitting in Panera with a laptop on wi-fi, a cell, and a BlackBerry. Some would say that the speed of our society means that we have to take these ten days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur and cherish them as a chance to look back and take stock in ourselves. No way.

It's not easy to walk backwards. It's a little disconcerting to stand backwards against the flow of foot traffic on a busy sidewalk. Go hop on the Metro and watch how many people hate even sitting backwards. We need to see where we're going. Sure, we must have an intrinsic knowledge of where we've been, but we can't let it slow us down. We need to be able to access our life lessons like Wikipedia -- a brief summary of something we've learned that may or may not be true depending on how we've interpreted it or how we've taken liberties with our memories. We need to make adjustments to ourselves on the fly. We can't wait because every opportunity that we might have taken if we had been more self-aware will have passed us by.

Self-reflection is a perpetual necessity. Practice it enough and it won't even take any time. You'll know when you're doing something that hurts your self-image. You'll be able to quickly apologize to other people and, more importantly, to yourself. Without the burden of guilt or doubt, you'll be looking ever forward, ready to see what's coming down the road. It'll be easier to dodge any obstacles or to seize upon any opportunities. Even better, when you're in synagogue on Yom Kippur, chanting the Viddui, the confessional prayers, you'll be able to think about how happy you are that you've already come to terms with your sins throughout the year and your mind can wander on to more important stuff like, "Will they have anything better than bagels at the break fast?!?"

Like Dolphins Can Swim

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Pretty good start for Heroes. They worked in the new characters, set up the plot line of being able to spread the powers, and got some pretty intense scenes going. Much like with Lost, I'll throw in a few questions farther down and hopefully get a discussion going.
    • I'm psyched to see Wire alumni on various shows. The most obvious this year is either Tristan Wilds (Michael) who's one of the stars of 90210 or Lance Reddick (Daniels) on both Fringe and Lost. You also have Andre Royo (Bubbles) making an appearance on Terminator and he was in the credits for Heroes tonight, but I didn't see him. Of course, Jamie Hector (Marlo) showed up at the end of the episode, playing one of the new villains.
    • Another fine episode of Entourage last night. This season is shaping up to be pretty good after a weak premiere. Any time you have Ari and Lloyd doing their thing, you're going to have a good time.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • This is the best explanation I've read of the credit crisis.
    • Remember how, after 9/11, we were so angry and in shock that we allowed the PATRIOT Act and the AUMF to be passed, leading to our disastrous war, the weaking of our Constitution, and the dismissal of the Geneva Convention? Well, we have another crisis on our hands and the administration is trying to get an unprecedented consolidation of power (with plenty of opportunity for misuse if there's no oversight) pushed through. But hey, if we're fooled for the fifteenth time, we're probably getting what we deserve.
    • I have to say, I'm not that nostalgic about Yankee Stadium. It's been renovated since Ruth and Gehrig played there, so it's not as classic as Fenway or Wrigley. Also, while the old parks are great, they become a little less so when you have to crane your neck to see because your uncomfortable seat is inexplicably facing away from the mound and you have to lean to get around a pole. Plus, Fenway has troughs. That's just wrong and nasty.
  • Heroes Comments/Questions of the Week:
    • Wasn't Linderman dead? I think the last time we saw him was the season one finale when DL was pulling his fist out of the back of Linderman's skull. Not to say he couldn't come back (or someone couldn't be impersonating him), but I thought his return came with relatively little fanfare. There was that weird moment when Tracy is leaving Nathan's room and Linderman is standing in the shadows. I couldn't quite tell if she acknowledged him.
    • I like the idea of current Peter being embedded with the villains while future Peter tries to find him.
    • Isn't the parallel to season one a bit weird? The whole thing was about them trying to stop Sylar from getting Claire's power so that he wouldn't be able to heal fast enough to blow up New York, which would make Linderman powerful after he had moved Nathan up the ladder and into the White House. Well, now Sylar has Claire's power, Linderman has helped Nathan become a senator, and Hiro had a vision of Tokyo being destroyed.
    • There's the obvious question about Tracy and Nikki and Tracy's power, but we'll learn about that in time.
    • If I remember correctly, Peter had the scar in the future during season one. Did we find out where it came from?
    • Where did future Peter get the power to change his appearance? There was that Candace from the first season, but he never came in contact with her. Someone else must be able to do it.
    • Do you think that the actor who plays Suresh went to the producers during hiatus and said, "Look, I'll come back, but you have to let me have a power and get some chicks."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Amish Paradise

Tonight is the last game at Yankee Stadium. As a Red Sox fan it pains me to say it, but Yankee Stadium will be missed. Pick out any of baseball's greatest moments and it is likely that it happened in the Bronx at The Stadium. Without the House That Ruth Built, only Wrigley Field and Fenway Park will remain as baseball's classic stadiums. As nice as some people may consider Nationals Stadium or Camden Yards, they pale in comparison to the experience provided by older stadiums. It is becoming increasingly rare for today's younger generation of baseball fans to see a baseball game as it was meant to be i.e. nine inning of baseball and that is it. At older stadiums, there is no need to be told when to cheer or when to clap. There is no T-shirt toss or Hot Dog race. There is just baseball. This is the true experience. Without Yankee Stadium around, there will just be one more corporate named stadium with overpriced seats and no history to romanticize the team. Tom Verducci wrote an excellent article in Sports Illustrated this week to capture the moment of Yankee Stadium's passing. When the wrecking ball comes in a few weeks, a big part of baseball history will be obliterated with it.

Other Random Thoughts:
  • Why don't you hear more Weird Al music on the radio?
  • I have been told that getting a tattoo is painful. I know that you can't get a tattoo if you are intoxicated. I presume that this is so that you won't regret it in the morning. However, why can't you go into a tattoo parlor at, let's say, noon to make an appointment for later that evening? You can pick out the design of the tattoo at that time. You then spend the next few hours getting hammered. By the time, you show up for your appointment, you won't feel as much pain and you won't have any regrets the next morning. It seems too simple.

What Happened To The AFC?

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • There were some pretty good lines on Real Time this week. Most of them had to do with Maher talking about how dumb Americans can be. Next week, with his new HBO special on Saturday, Chris Rock will be on. That will be can't miss TV.
    • I've listened to Metallica's Death Magnetic a little bit and it really does sound like And Justice For All. A real return to when Metallica was building its reputation as the greatest metal band ever.
    • Entertainment Weekly came out with its list of the top ten dumbest shows on TV (the first ten at this link). I'm shocked to inform you that I don't watch any of them. I watch some stupid s***!
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Kudos to the Rays for clinching their first postseason birth. I am officially rooting for them to win it all, if only because I want to see a World Series game with 5,000 people in attendance. No, seriously, they're exciting as hell to watch and there's still an outside shot that they can get Carl Crawford back before everything's said and done.
    • If you care about this stupid bailout at all, the must-read columnist of the hour is Paul Krugman.
  • Your List Sucks!: Top 5 Teams in the NFL after Week 2:
    • 5. Carolina -- They just win. Tomorrow against Minnesota could be a heck of a game and the Panthers get Steve Smith back.
    • 4. Tennessee -- Chris Johnson gives them a big play threat with their scary QB situation and the defense is outrageously good.
    • 3. N.Y. Giants -- Sure, they beat St. Louis, but they crushed them and Justin Tuck is leading a big play defense.
    • 2. Philadelphia -- I actually thought about putting them #1 after barely losing in Dallas. McNabb is back. I forgot how good he could be. I think we all did.
    • 1. Dallas -- You think the NFC East is any good?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Deep Thought Of The Day

Since I'm getting home so late, I have the energy to just lay one deep thought on you as we make our way into our increasingly socialist economy.

Let's say I took my paycheck and went to Atlantic City. I bet it all on black, but red hit. Then someone came in and said, "Sorry you lost, here's money so you can pay your mortgage." What exactly would stop me from gambling my next paycheck?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

That's Where I Want To Be

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • The big week for season premieres is next week, which gave me some time to check out the new 90210 tonight. The dialogue can be a bit cheesy. The cuts are a little weird. The lengths to which they went to conceal the father of Kelly's baby are a bit much, referring to him as "he", which led to some confusing sentences. In other words, it's pretty craptastic. In other words, I FREAKING LOVE IT! I'm so hooked, having watched the first four episodes in a row tonight. The two main characters (nice kids who move from the Midwest, imagine that!) are likeable -- one is an Anne Hathaway look-alike and the other is the kid who played Michael on The Wire (the 11th best character). You also get Jessica Walter, who played the mother on Arrested Development, and some other recognizable actors. Also some inside references, with Andrea and Jesse's daughter showing up and Nat coming on every so often and waxing poetic (a tad creepily) about Brandon. If you loved the original, you have to watch this show.
    • I'm looking for a book to read and leaning towards Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat. His work in the Times is obviously quite good.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Politico's Ben Smith killed me today when he linked to this video while referencing what the economy needs. I mean, how freaking good was that song?
    • Speaking of Nate Dogg... Sorry to bum you out, but he's not in great shape.
    • Learning is fun.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I was surprised to learn today that Spain is not, in fact, in Latin America. Also it's a member of NATO and therefore an ally of ours. Who knew?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Utah = Nice, Utah = Mormons, Mormons = Nice

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • The second episode of Fringe did actually end up being better than the first. It's pretty intense, but there are still a few parts here and there that just seem to be missing something. It's very reminiscent of The X-Files, which isn't bad on the entertainment scale but is pretty bad on the originality scale.
    • Funny that there's nothing on their site, but DC's Progressive Talk 1260 AM has changed it's name on the air to... "Obama 1260". I'm not kidding. All of their bumpers include a famous snippet from an Obama speech. Even I think that's a bit ridiculous.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • It's not cool to hack people's personal e-mail accounts. Period.
    • This is a great line by Obama. He gets to hit McCain on hypocrisy and age in one sentence.
    • I meant to get to this the other day. These maps show personality traits by state and they're pretty fascinating. Going by them, I'm most likely to be open and neurotic, but not particularly nice. You can judge for yourself.
    • Weirdly enough, from those maps, it seems like Alaska has no personality to speak of. Again, judge for yourself.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Dude, meetings set during lunch time are just not cool. Not lunch meetings -- regular meetings scheduled during lunch time. Not cool.

Megan Fox Is A Very Dirty Girl

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • The folks from Princeton-Plainview are back and the episode was a bit heavy, even for a show with lots of dark episodes. It's interesting that Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer are still in the main credits, but none of House's team are. Especially since they went with the formula from last year -- quick appearances by Cameron and Chase but a heavy load of Thirteen.
    • I'm glad I decided to DVR Fringe tonight, even though I haven't yet watched it. Fox screwed up on the times and House ran over by a minute with a big, emotional ending. Luckily, I was able to start up Fringe and catch the very end.
    • I picked up Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for Wii today. It's quite violent, with plenty of killing and the graphic sounds of necks snapping when Vader and his apprentice go to work with the Force. The story, which takes place between Episodes III and IV, seems interesting with Vader taking on a secret apprentice to a) help him hunt down the fugitive Jedi and b) overthrow the Emperor. The gameplay is very cool. Generally, you use your remote hand to control the lightsaber and your nunchuk hand to attack with the Force. All it takes is a couple of minutes of walking around, throwing soldiers into each other and flinging pieces of steel to cut down battalions, to get hooked.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I heard this on O'Meara today. Megan Fox did a shoot for Maxim and then (speaking of Thirteen from House, Olivia Wilde) Fox did an interview for GQ in which she talks about the kind of relationships of which John McCain and Sarah Palin would not approve. You should check it all out. You know, if she's your sort of thing.
    • We have some pretty good pennant races going on. Personally, I'm pulling for the Rays and the Phillies (both in first place after tonight).
  • Daily Rant:
    • Here is a story about the Republican Jewish Coalition's message testing against Obama. I do not approve. I will save other thoughts for myself, as nobody likes Jew on Jew violence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

History Lessons

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • I wasn't really feeling Weeds tonight too much. It was a little artsier and slower than usual, which came off as a bit anticlimactic for a season finale.
    • Geez, you think that Eagles-Cowboys game was any good?
    • Season premiere of House tomorrow night. About time we get to the really good shows.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I needed Brian Westbrook to have a very big game tonight in order to win a fantasy matchup. As Bush and/or the Bluths might say: Mission Accomplished.
    • Richard Cohen of the Post unleashes a barrage on John McCain.
    • Speaking of McCain, with the phrase "run on banks" getting tossed around today, isn't about time that we heard about some sort of Keating something-or-other?
    • I thought I was harrassed by hurricanes this summer. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, late bluesman, had it way worse.
  • Daily Rant:
    • It's funny how you learn regional history in school and so much ends up getting put by the wayside. I grew up in Baltimore, so we got a heavy dose of the Civil War in terms of mid-nineteenth century history. My wife grew up in California, so she learned the Civil War in a much less concrete way (understandably) but got lessons on the missions in California that I never got. Meanwhile, there are whole other parts that have history of which we've never heard. All this is to say that while September 11 marks, well, September 11, it also marks another horrible tragedy in American history of which I was unaware until recently, the Mountain Meadows massacre. You might say, "What?" and I reply, "Exactly." In 1857, the Mormons were settling in Utah, having been led out there 10 years before by Brigham Young, after Joseph Smith had been lynched in Missouri. Fearing government interference, the Mormons became very wary of any outsiders and armed themselves to repel an expected attack by the U.S. Army. During that time, a very wealthy wagon train from Arkansas came through on the way to California, with around 140 people. Since one of the original tenets of the LDS religion was that any Gentiles (non-Mormons) were worthless because of their lack of belief, the Mormons set upon the party, using Indians (and dressing as Indians) to aid in their attack. They ambushed the caravan and then laid seige for close to a week when the Arkansans fought back. Finally, on September 11, 1857, the Mormons flew a white flag and told the party that they had negotiated with the local tribe for safe passage. The Arkansans came out of their hiding place to honor the truce, at which point around 120 were murdered (17 very young children were taken for adoption). I don't mean to disparage the Mormon religion, we all have our skeletons, but it's an amazing tragedy that most likely goes entirely unnoticed outside of the Grand Canyon region of the U.S.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Insert Clever Title Here

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Great episode of Entourage tonight. They eschewed the usual formula to set up this season, where Vince is down on his luck and having to re-invent himself as a movie star. The stuff about the show that bores me is the lack of adversity, so this season could be shaping up to be a good one.
    • I'm sure nbc.com has put up the video from SNL this week. Tina Fey was perfect as Sarah Palin. Perfect.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Speaking of Nincompoop of the North, if I have to hear the sound bite of "In what respect, Charlie?" with all of its condescending tone, one more time, I'm going to put on a moose costume and parade around her yard.
    • Karl Rove thinks John McCain is stretching the truth too much. When MC Rove disapproves of your tactics, you might want to take some ethics lessons. Which brings me to a point that Andrew Sullivan talked around the other day. Do you think that, late at night, McCain's conscience is gnawing at him? He used to pride himself on his integrity.
  • Random NFL Week 2 Thoughts:
    • This just in: The Jets traded for a forty-something-year-old quarterback.
    • Maybe we were looking at the wrong team in the AFC South to join the NFL elite.
    • Hmm, the Pats barely beat KC last week. Oakland got creamed by Denver. The Jets squeaked by Miami. This week, Oakland bets KC soundly, the Dolphins get embarrassed in Arizona, and the Pats won ugly over the Jets. Interesting.
    • So when do pitchers and catchers report for the St. Louis Cardinals?
    • Mike Shanahan has a huge pair. Romeo Crennel needs a huge lesson on clock management.
    • Division race to watch so far has to be the AFC South (Atlanta excluded).
    • After watching the Pats-Jets game, I'm thinking that Buffalo may have a shot at winning the AFC East.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Football Eve

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Went this afternoon to see Burn After Reading. It's classic Coen Brothers, humor, violence, a quirky plot. There's something about Clooney in one of their movies, and the other actors do great jobs as well. I'm not sure that there's anything that makes this one stand out from their other work, but that's in a positive way as well as a negative way. The whole point of the story, summed up in the last few lines, is pretty freaking funny.
    • I love when CBS has the double-header against a Skins home game. We get cheated out of the 1:00 AFC game. Hey, at least Direct TV doesn't have a monopoly on the Sunday Ticket!
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • This is a great article by foxsports.com's Jason Whitlock about Vince Young and the culture of victimization among black athletes. While it's not about politics in the least, the lessons in it have been shown off impressively in this year's presidential election.
    • We finally get to see tomorrow (in a huge game) if Matt Cassel got enough QB experience at USC by having his locker close to Carson Palmer's. That was a Sarah Palin joke, by the way.
  • Your List Sucks!: Top 5 Teams in the NFL after Week 1
    • 5. Carolina -- Great win in San Diego and if Delhomme is back, the team is very tough.
    • 4. Green Bay -- How about Aaron Rodgers with all that pressure against maybe the best defense in the league?
    • 3. Philadelphia -- It was at home against an awful team, but they still exploded without Kevin Curtis suiting up.
    • 2. Pittsburgh -- Bad week for the AFC, I guess. I still want to see more of Willie Parker carrying the load before I believe it.
    • 1. Dallas -- The 'Boys are ticking along on schedule.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

They Didn't Ask Him If The Earth Was Flat

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • An effective use of Lou on The Soup tonight. I was surprised that they brought back Spaghetti Cat after last week's ending, but they did it in a whole different way, so it didn't feel overdone.
    • I'm woefully behind on Monk. Those two weeks of convention coverage threw me off a bit.
    • I actually wanted to watch the Palin interview, but I didn't and didn't DVR it. I've caught pieces on YouTube though. Kudos to Charlie Gibson for actually being somewhat tough. With the confusion and minor backtracking, it sounds like the lipstick may be coming off the rose a little.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Here are some clips of McCain's (uncomfortable) appearance on The View. I think it was a commenter on TPM or Politico who said something along the lines of: "If John McCain can't beat Joy Behar in a debate, how in hell is he going to beat Barack Obama?"
    • Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic has done some fantastic reporting work all year. He's one of the true journalists among all of the opinion bloggers out there. This piece speaks better than any other I've read to the difference in attitudes between my Clinton convert friends and me.
  • Special Message:
    • I try to steer clear of my actual personal life because, really, who cares? But I have to (even though it's technically past midnight) wish my dear wife a happy birthday. You are smarter and more honest than Moosey the VP Clown. I hope you like your gift of faint praise.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Random Americana: 9/11

Part 4 in an ongoing series.

When you get punched in the face, you have two choices. Play the victim or stand resolute in what you've always done and use that as a foundation from which to fight back. Everything else stems from those basic choices. You can play the victim and then fight, but you're still a victim. People will lose respect, but even more it will affect your own self-image.

Which do you think we chose to do once the initial shock of September 11, 2001, had worn off? There may have been an initial showing of patriotism -- flag t-shirts, car flags, etc. -- but I think that at some point we started feeling sorry for ourselves. Through the PATRIOT Act and the public's complicity in a nonsensical war, we changed the nature of America. Rather than standing strong and showing our enemies that we would not be afraid, we began to get scared of everything. Sure, we had never been attacked in that way before, but our fear handed the terrorists some modicum of victory and it left us paralyzed to stop the government from doing anything it damn well pleased.

To be a victim means that you don't understand why this bad thing has happened to you. But, let's step back and understand. Nothing is unprovoked. It's not like we were going along, minding our own business, when somebody decided to attack us for no reason whatsoever. This isn't to excuse anything, obviously. But we were attacked because Al Qaeda hated our presence in Saudi Arabia. We were in Saudi Arabia because Iraq was threatening the oil supply and Israel as well. Iraq was threatening Israel because (if we go all the way back) God told Abraham to pass his leadership to Isaac and to expel Ishmael. Nothing is unprovoked, nothing like this comes out of the blue.

We call it a "War on Terror", but you can't fight abstract ideas. We are fighting real people and they are fighting back. There are casualties on both sides. It just so happens that, unlike in Israel, those casualties had been generally kept to only our troops overseas. An attack on our soil was most likely only a matter of time.

The question is: Do you feel safer today than you did seven years ago? That also begs another question: Did you even feel unsafe on that day? I think about Israel, where terrorist attacks are, unfortunately, a regular occurence. They've never experienced anything near the scale of what we went through, but we were attacked once. They live with the threat being real and hanging over their heads at any moment. They live their lives. They don't fundamentally change their government or their rights. They don't (usually) act for the sake of action. More importantly, they don't look over their shoulders every second. They live their lives.

Instead, we do some of the same things that we condemn. We yell about Russia invading Georgia, but we invaded Iraq. We fret about American civilians being in danger, but how many civilians have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Did we stand strong behind the notions -- our values and the Constitution -- that made our country great? Or did we curtail people's rights no matter what our Founding Fathers may have thought? We suspended habeaus corpus, we spied on our fellow Americans, we tortured our enemies. We changed everything about ourselves because we feared more than just fear itself, which was the real enemy all along. We've lost something we can't get back. We've become, to other countries, what we hate about our enemies. I can't help but think of the last sentence of Orwell's Animal Farm (a book that infuriates me more and more every time I read it, especially in the past seven years): "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

No Drama

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Actually went out tonight to a function at a bar downtown, so not too much of this.
    • I thought this was the most insightful thing I read today. Considering we know how deliberate Obama can be, it makes sense.
    • This was the most passionate. I'm thinking I may need to amend my McCain essay from last week a little.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I'm just now half-watching a Family Guy re-run and this ad came on for a local pawn shop. I just don't know...
    • Aren't you, like me, just a little bit disappointed that the Large Hadron Collider didn't end the world? Wouldn't that have been at least a little cool?
    • I have very few thoughts today, random or otherwise. I do find it amusing that the person in one of my fantasy football leagues whose only QB was Tom Brady was very slow to pick someone up. So I grabbed Cassel to be my backup. Who did they get for their only guy? JaMarcus Russell. Yeah.
  • Daily Rant:
    • There's some talk about Democrats panicking about the election. Nonsense. A friend at work has started to get very concerned and won't calm down, no matter how much I say she should. See, she was a Clinton supporter, so she's new to the party. She doesn't have faith in the grand plan. I seem to remember a young(er than today) blogger who wrote this on November 3 of last year: "Obama had everything working for him: momentum coming off his great speeches at the 2004 convention and the Illinois statehouse, high public opinion as a fresh-thinking outsider that got a lot of play in the news magazines, history as he seemed to be the first African-American candidate with a legitimate shot. Well, that shot is gone. He has been boring and meek...." Could I have been more wrong? I seriously could not be less worried about the election right now.

The Return Of The Magic Box

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Oh, pop culture, how I have forsaken thee. With the conventions and football, I've put you off for far too long. The TV season is starting back up, so here we go.
    • On the season premiere of Entourage, Ari tried to find a job for Vince but then yelled at Eric because he couldn't get Vince on the phone. Then, Ari yelled at Lloyd until he could get hold of Eric. Meanwhile, Vince was doing something that rich people do and Turtle was getting high and/or drunk and hitting on women. Johnny got into a crazy argument over something having to do with his appearance/pride. Sound familiar? It's the plot of EVERY FREAKING EPISODE! There were some funny lines, but I've established in the past how I generally feel about the show.
    • On Weeds, Nancy did something that she should, by all rights, be killed for; Celia said something demeaning to her daughter/husband; and Andy and Doug did something wacky and sexual. Are you getting my point yet about half-hour cable comedies?
    • Since I haven't yet watched 90210 (have it on my laptop), Monday brought the first season premiere of a network show that I watch with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It's good; I still say it's a fine replacement for the last season of 24. It's kind of weird that Garbage's Shirley Manson was on it, but the last scene was pretty cool. I'll remark again on how CGI has become affordable enough that even TV shows can use fairly advanced stuff.
    • Tonight, J.J. Abrams premiered his new show, Fringe. Think X-Files meets Lost. No, wait, don't think. If you do, the horrible dialogue will hurt your head. It was cheesier than I would like and it's quite derivative, but I suppose that Abrams deserves a second chance. I don't have tons of time for new shows though, so I doubt I'll stick with it.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I did decide to skip the series premiere of Liar: The Sarah Palin Chronicles. Line of the Day: "On the same day that dozens of news organizations have exposed Governor Palin's phony bridge to nowhere claim as a 'naked lie,' she and John McCain continue to repeat the claim in their stump speeches. Maybe tomorrow she'll tell us she sold it on eBay," Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.
    • How great is life when the Yankees don't make the playoffs and the Raiders stink? All we need is for the Cowboys to have their usual playoff choke and all will be right with the world.
    • Here's the hilarious ending to this past week's The Soup. The Clip of the Week is funny enough, but the part afterwards? Pure comedy genius.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I've been walking around all week with a ridiculous scratch on my forehead. During the storm on Saturday (Tropical Storm Hannah, the second straight named storm I've been in!), a tree in my neighborhood blew to a 45-degree angle. I walked the dog on Sunday and while doing so, I was talking on my phone and looking down, when I ran smack into a branch that was hanging down from said slanted tree. A thick branch. Now I look like my temple took a punch from Kimbo Slice. You'd think it would give me street cred but, unfortunately, booboos from walking into a tree are not considered tough.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Who is Matt Cassell?

It's been a few months since I last chimed in on this blog. However, I am currently feeling a little verklempt. I will give people time to talk amonst yourselves. I'll give you a topic...Does Tina Fey look like Sarah Palin or is Sarah Palin trying to look like Tina Fey?


There, now I'm better....

I was watching the Pats game live at my friend Eric's place yesterday (the Red Zone channel rocks). When Tom Brady went down after getting tackled on the knee, the collective gasp from the five of us there was deafining. Even my friend's dog, appropriately named Brady, hung his head low for the next few minutes. In a moment's notice, a team can go from a stellar 16-0 to a mediocre 12-4. I find it ironic that the first time in a few years that Brady was not listed on the injured list as probable is the only game that he actually gets injured in.

So who is this Matt Cassell guy? Can he lead the Patriots to the promise land? The next few weeks should be interesting not necessarily for Matt Cassell but for Tom Brady. Now we will find out whether Bill Belichick is truly a coaching genius or if Tom Brady is really one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Here is what I know about Matt Cassell.
1) He has not started a game since he was in high school, almost 8 years ago. Even in college, he backed up Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer at USC so he did not play much.
2) He made the 2006 and 2007 Pro Bowl team for his role in holding a clipboard.
3) His brother is a Major League Baseball player.
4) He is no Tom Brady. He isn't even Greg Brady. He is probably closer to Oliver.
That's it...That's the list.

If anything, the Patriots schedule is in their favor so he has time to get accustomed to this starting QB job. The next few weeks consist of the Jets, Dolphins and the bye week. None of those teams have a particularly strong defense. I may even be able to put up 14 points on the Dolphins if Randy Moss was my teammate.

If this season turns in to a disaster, I can't complain too much. Three Super Bowl championships in the last few years are enough to make me content. Plus, I wasn't the idiot who picked Brady #1 overall in one of my fantasy leagues.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

And They Are Indisputable (NFL Week 1 Edition)

These are the facts:
  • Yesterday's guest blogger would like to say something: Hey everyone, it's Billy again! Remember when you bought the Hercules Hook and it ripped a chunk out of your drywall? Hey, I can't be responsible for every contingency. So when I put New England as the number one team, I was horribly wrong. I apologize if you bought them, but how could I know? Please don't sue!
  • How many great endings can you have in one weekend? The Chiefs-Pats, Jets-Dolphins, and Panthers-Chargers games all came down to goal line stands. Of course, only the Panthers came away with a win after that impossible buzzer-beater throw by Delhomme. Who doesn't love Jake Delhomme?
  • I can't get too excited about Flacco and the Ravens yet, since they were apparently playing a Pop Warner team today. The Bengals are pathetic. I am cautiously excited though, and hearing Cam Cameron on the radio helped. You can just tell by the way he talks that he's a great coach, even if he didn't have obvious great results as well.
  • At some point, Favre will stop getting lucky when he throws the ball up for grabs. It seems that lately for him, that point has been sometime in the playoffs.
  • Roscoe Parrish is absurd. He also looks kind of funny; his helmet looks too big for his body.
  • Cleveland looks like Cleveland again. I'm afraid that the Sunday Night game next week against Pittsburgh is not going to be fun to watch.
  • Are we surprised that Michael Turner is good? He always used to tear it up when LT was off the field. Plus, did you see the Lions tackling skills, or lack thereof?
  • It was great to see Olbermann and Patrick back together again. Lots of inside Sportscenter jokes tonight. Of course, my favorite line of the night was when Patrick set it up so Olbermann could say, "The Bucs were... mmmm, Bushed."
  • Karma's a bitch, ain't it?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The NFL, As Seen On TV

Note: I could have written about movies I watched recently or talked about the brilliant ending to last night's The Soup that had me laughing out loud for minutes after the show ended. But tomorrow is the opening of the NFL season, so we've asked special guest blogger, TV's Billy Mays to preview the year as only he can.

Hey everyone, I'd like to welcome you to Random Babbles' fantastic NFL preview! We guarantee you mildly-informed opinions or your money back! We'll count down from the worst team to the top. Stick around to see who will be #1 -- I promise it won't be a surprise!

32. Atlanta Falcons: You'll get the same quality of play as ever, but we absolutely guarantee no dog fighting! That's right, this year is pitbull free! Rookie QB Matt Ryan will personally welcome you to the game when he sees you in the stands while laying on his back after yet another sack!
31. Miami Dolphins: You might think the team will be hungry after a one-win season last year and you might be right! With the return of Ricky Williams, the team is sure to be hungry... for Doritos! Are you as excited about Chad Pennington as I am?!
30. Kansas City Chiefs: If you like seeing great stars like Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson looking really depressed on the sideline, this is the team for you! With no Hard Knocks to let you know the players this year, every game you see will be a surprise!
29. Oakland Raiders: Al Davis will yell, "Just win, baby!" and they will do exactly that at least three times! We guarantee that the Raiders will lead the league in guys named JaMarcus!
28. San Francisco 49ers: Frank Gore, Frank Gore, and more Frank Gore! Get to know J.T. O'Sullivan, but did we mention they have Frank Gore?!
27. St. Louis Rams: You may be shocked to learn that a team with this much talent is this bad! You'll get plenty of disappointment and, this year only, we'll throw in boring division games for free!
26. Chicago Bears: This team was in the Super Bowl only two years ago! That's right, around nineteen months ago, this team played for the NFL championship!
25. Baltimore Ravens: You have never gotten more Flacco than you will get with this team! I'll say it again: Now, with more Flacco than ever! Plus, if by any chance Flacco's head gets separated from his body in Week 2, you'll get a Heisman Trophy winner at no extra charge!
24. Cincinnati Bengals: Plenty of high-scoring games for your viewing pleasure! Even better, I bet you've never ever seen a guy with a fake Spanish number as his last name before! The Bengals officially bring to you the two weirdest named wide receivers in NFL history!
23. Detroit Lions: Now, with non-wide receiver draft picks!
22. Arizona Cardinals: With the NFC West, even the worst teams in the league have a chance of giving you a second place finish! Don't forget that they exist!
21. Denver Broncos: I usually sell you cutlery, but I'm honored today to sell you Cutler! You fantasy players will love the way they use their running backs!
20. Washington Redskins: Now, with the power of Zorn, the Redskins will bring you levels of mediocrity that you have never witnessed with your very own eyes! If you watch closely, you may even see a wide receiver catch a ball or two!
19. Buffalo Bills: Lee Evans promises to show up in at least three games this year!
18. Houston Texans: When you watch the Texans, you get to see Andre Johnson and we'll throw in some other players, too! Don't mess with the Texans!
17. Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith and Julius Peppers are on this team! Pay no attention to the other guys on the sideline!
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They just might be better than they look on paper! We promise the most effeminate quarterback with the hottest girlfriends!
15. New York Jets: The Jets have a new surprise quarterback that you have never heard of! Their fans will all think that he can make the difference, but what will you think?! Watch them play the Patriots and find out!
14. Green Bay Packers: Now with more Aaron Rodgers than ever! You've never seen the frozen tundra so Favre-less!
13. Tennessee Titans: Come see Vince Young give just as much effort as he feels like giving! They will stop offenses cold! Even their own!
12. Philadelphia Eagles: You may not know that Donovan McNabb has never won a Super Bowl, but it's actually true. He guarantees that he won't win one this year either!
11. Cleveland Browns: They promise to set the lake on fire! I mean, they promise to set the division on fire! They're more explosive than a pollution-filled body of water!
10. Seattle Seahawks: You may pick them to win the NFC every year, but they'll show you yet!
9. Minnesota Vikings: With all the running game and defense that you love about football! They might even just let Adrian Peterson snap it to himself every play this year!
8. New Orleans Saints: Shockey, Shockey, Shockey! We guarantee that they will outscore the other team on many an occasion!
7. Pittsburgh Steelers: If you think they are one of the elite teams in the league, you guessed wrong! Instead, you will find them overrated!
6. New York Giants: They give you all of the Manning with none of the high expectations!
5. Dallas Cowboys: If you love blondes with big boobs, you'll love Tony Romo's skybox! Terell Owens guarantees a double-team on every single play!
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: If you don't enjoy watching Maurice Jones-Drew and this defense, you may just be a loser! Also, when it comes to David Garrard, the quality might surprise you!
3. San Diego Chargers: Shawne Merriman's knees may even hold out for a game or two! Either way, he promises to dance after every step!
2. Indianapolis Colts: Now with new and improved something to prove!
1. New England Patriots: They may not go undefeated on the field, but they will go undefeated in your heart! We guarantee absolutely no spy cameras that you can find anywhere!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Many Paths To Cultural Enlightenment

My good friend over at Shtetl Fabulous posted a very interesting article yesterday about the Yiddish language, and I started to write a comment in response that could very well have ended up longer than her original post. Instead of monopolizing her entire comment page, I decided to extend it into a post for this blog.

Despite growing up in a very secular, non-religiously observant home in the San Francisco Bay Area, I now find myself firmly entrenched in Jewish affiliation. Not only do I work in the community as a Jewish educator, but I hold two Master's degrees in Jewish subjects, belong to a synagogue and attend regularly, count many Jews among my closest friends, and live in a home with a kosher kitchen and mezzuzahs affixed on most of my doorposts (and yes, I linked to an article about mezzuzot on myjewishlearning.com instead of wikipedia - 'nuff said). I think it's safe to say that I'm a knowledgeable, affiliated American Jew.

There are times, though, when I feel completely ignorant when it comes to this religion/culture of mine. I do not know if this is due to growing up on the West Coast, far from any influence of the type of Jewish culture that I associate with New York, or if it is due to the fact that my Jewish ancestors came to this country in the 1840s along with two million other German Jews, long before the mass waves of immigration that flooded American shores between the 1880s and 1920s. These German Jews came to the United States mostly for economic reasons and were highly assimilated in their native country - they were not overly religious and spoke German (and later, English), not Yiddish. The Jews who came in the late 19th - early 20th Centuries were mostly Eastern European, spoke Yiddish, and brought much of what one would now think of as "Jewish food" with them. It is this Judaism of kugel and Yiddish that I struggle with.

I think it's great that there are people out there who want to resurrect and revitalize Yiddish as a spoken language. There is something lovely about this nostalgic cause, but it is not a cause I identify with at all. Aside from the dozens of Yiddish words that have made it into our vernacular, many people in the Jewish community frequently pepper their speech with words that I simply do not know, and instead of using the language to encourage a sense of inclusion, it actually excludes. A couple of weeks ago, my boss used the word "tachles" as we were creating the outline for a five-week course, and instead of asking him what this word meant, I took 20 minutes to search online, not even realizing the word was Yiddish. I felt inferior, somehow, that this word's meaning eluded me, and did not want to let him know I did not know it. For some people, Yiddish has become a vehicle through which they express and embrace their Jewish identity, and I applaud this. They find meaning and connection in this unique language.

I maintain that one of the beauties of Judaism is that it is multi-faceted, and people can find something meaningful in many different places. For some people, it is language - either Yiddish or modern Hebrew (my personal favorite). There is a small movement of young Jews in their 20s who are embracing and expressing their Judaism through tattoos. Some people embark on social action projects, endeavoring to fix this world that all too often appears irrevocably shattered. Some people make aliyah and move to Israel, and others immerse themselves in spirituality and prayer. The best part of all is that it is all incredibly personal - we all find meaning in different places.

RNC, Day Four: The Great American, Passed By

John McCain is a great American. He is a true hero and his service to his country should be honored.

We heard these words countless times last week during the Democratic National Convention, the words used to set up attacks on his positions, so that no one may infer that the attacks were personal. That does not make them any less true: John McCain is a great American. He is a true hero and his service to his country should be honored. The end; I will not attack him tonight.

We just finished watching the convention of a party that has solved its horrible turmoil. In control of all branches of the government for six of the last eight years, they had presided over a dark time for America. A major attack on our soil, the failed pursuit of the attack's architect, an unpopular and ill-advised war, a major economic downturn, the coming-home-to-roost of America's sense of entitlement. They sported a President with one of the worst approval ratings in history. Their control of Congress was wrested from them in one fell swoop two years ago. Every one of these signs said that there was no way the Republicans could come close in this election. The opposition party found its savior, the living embodiment of the change so desired by the country. How could the Republican party come together to put forth a face that could stand the environment and overcome its challenges?

In its previous two victories, their candidate was deeply religious, he answered to a "higher father". In 2004, marriage equality referendums came up throughout the country, driving the right to the polls and winning an election with the power of these religious values. But when the primaries arrived in 2008, nobody could be found to carry on this mantel. The major players: Mitt Romney, a Mormon wearing a "flip-flop" albatross around his neck; Rudy Giuliani, a pro-choice big city mayor who had become somewhat of a joke because of his one-track mind and personal scandals; Mike Huckabee, a deeply religious former pastor whose economic ideas were far too liberal; and John McCain, an American hero and the country's most famous non-Kennedy Senator, who had been so badly ravaged in 2000 by Bush and Rove. As Iraq, prior to the economic collapse, continued to take center stage and the Republicans realized they needed something different to attract a more moderate American public, McCain became the runaway choice. He wrapped up the nomination fairly quickly, with his only (small) speed bump being the conservative values of Huckabee. And so the GOP put forth a man with the reputation of being a maverick and a relatively non-religious one at that. After the Bush years, was the religious right really in control, and, if so, would they embrace a man who was not wholly on the same page with them?

We found out the answer this week. After Senator Obama chose Joe Biden, a man who he felt would help him best govern, John McCain reportedly wanted Joe Lieberman, a man who would do the same for him. And the base wouldn't go for it. They would never be able to let go of certain value issues, such as the "culture of life". McCain instead made what has seemed like a rushed decision, picking Sarah Palin. The pick attempted to attract disenfranchised Clinton voters and it was very much focused on reassuring those in the religious right who were not sold on McCain's values credentials. For the base of the Republican party, the pick seems to have worked. Too well.

I keep going back to a point in Rudy Giuliani's speech last night when he was talking about Obama's background and said that it was a story that "could only happen in America." And then the crowd laughed. They jeered and booed and I still can't understand why they showed such disrespect to their opponent and to the American dream. But then Governor Palin took the stage and was just as sarcastic and disrespectful. The crowds screamed for her and laughed with her at "community organizers" and they ate her up with a freaking spoon. And then John McCain took the stage tonight.

Putting aside the horrific visuals of the speech (the colors behind him, his age, the sea of white faces in the crowd), McCain did exactly what he needed to do. He took the Republican party to task for its failures over these last eight years. He preached reform and bipartisanship. It was the speech of a true maverick and it gave me a glimpse of his greatness. His line, "We came to Washingon to change it, but Washington changed us," is as honest a line as has been spoken during this entire campaign. It got a mere smattering of applause. He finally spoke at length about the economy... and the crowd seemed bored. Sure, he was taking these delegates to task for decisions they had made in the past. It was tough love. But it was tough love that they needed in order to retain control of the White House and to find some bipartisan way to work with what will be an even more solidly Democratic-controlled Congress. The delegates seemed to want none of it. What they wanted was Sarah Palin. Her introduction in the speech got the loudest applause of the night. They love her because she has their values, unlike McCain. It turns out that the religious right had gained control of the Republican party. The extremism reigns and it will send the moderates looking for somewhere, anywhere else.

John McCain is a great American, one of the greatest. He has served his country in ways that I will never be able to. For all of my disagreements with his views on foreign policy, I recognize that now. I see why people have held up his ideal for so long.

John McCain is a great American. He deserves better than this.