Friday, October 28, 2005


Well, W finally pulled the plug on the misguided Miers nomination.

When you've got the right-wing wackos unsure of your commitment to the cause, and everyone else thinks you're an example of cronyism run wild, this is what you get.

The question now is: who's next? Whoever it is will probably be indistinguishable from what Miers would have been. Despite the hullabaloo from the right, can anyone doubt that she would have been doctrinaire down the line? Would Bush have nominated her if he wasn't sure about it?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Most Recent iTunes Random Plays

  • Bruce Springsteen - I Wanna Marry You
  • Moby - Honey
  • Sleater-Kinney - Little Babies
  • OutKast - Humble Mumble
  • Radiohead - High And Dry
  • Nick Cave - Helpless
  • The Magnetic Fields - The Things We Did And Didn't Do
  • Blondie - Pretty Baby
  • Wire - Surgeon's Call
  • John Coltrane - Dear Lord
  • Elvis Costello - I'll Wear It Proudly
  • The Promise Ring - Electric Pink
  • Los Lobos - El Cuchipe
  • Mitch Hedberg - Cookies To Jellybeans
  • 808 State - Pacific 202

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

This One's For You

Tonight, as the Pale Hose clinch their first World Series title since 1917, take time to remember those special folks to whom this means so much:

Buck Weaver (as played by John Cusack) - For all the crap you hear about Joe Jackson deserving a spot in the HOF, remember the one member of the Black Sox who was bounced from the sport by Kennesaw Mountain Landis not for taking any money (he didn't, Jackson did), not for throwing any games (he hit .324 in the series), but for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and then not ratting out his teammates.

Buck won a series in '17 (batting .333), but never got another chance after the infamous '19 Series.

Ted Lyons - While there are an almost limitless supply of White Sox without Series rings, the poster child for the almost 90 year reign of futility has to be this longsuffering Louisianan. Lyons pitched in 594 big league games -- each and every friggin' one for the White Sox.

For 21 seasons over 24 years from 1923 to 1946 (he had a cup of coffee in '46 after missing '43 through '45 for a little thing called World War II) he toiled for the Sox. Sunday Teddy had some ups (3 20-win seasons), and some downs (2 20-loss seasons) before finishing the string as the team's designated Sunday pitcher.

In those 21 seasons the Sox finished with a winning record just 5 times -- never finishing higher than 3rd in the American League. 594 games, 484 starts, 356 complete games, 260 wins, 230 losses -- and the man never came closer to a World Series than 3rd place. Now THAT is futility!

Andy The Clown (aka Andrew Rozdilsky, Jr. ) -
He was annoying as hell.
He was banned from the Cell.
Now from heaven he yells down.
I swear I can still hear goddamn Andy The Clown ...


Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Yooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooou Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiite Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooox!

Unknown Assailant - Part of the fun of going to Sox games as a kid in the '70s was the slight undercurrent of menace that was always present. After all, not for nothing was Comiskey known as the world's largest outdoor saloon.

But only once did that undercurrent find its way to the surface -- albeit in a mostly benign circumstance.

The favored event for the group trip on the church bus was the Friday night twi-nighter in front of a sparse crowd. The m.o. was for the boys to watch the first couple of innings with the dads in the third base grandstand, then wander off for a few innings/hours of wandering around the mostly empty ballpark looking for whatever.

This time whatever included a run-in with a would-be mugger in the narrow walkway behind the left field upper deck. I say would-be because 1) he never actually hit me, and 2) he was thwarted by the fact that I had no money to give him (I believe I was on my way back to hit up dad for some popcorn money).

As the Series champs finish off before SRO crowds, it's nice to remember when would-be criminals were free to ply their trade in peace and quiet at Comminskey.

Dick (Don't Call Me Richie) Allen - Last, but not least, comes the first truly exciting player to ever wear a ChiSox uni -- at least for my generation. The picture at the left gives the best summation possible of Dick Allen's don't-give-a-damn allure.

By the way, has anyone ever gone through as many name changes as this guy, only to wind up calling himself "Dick?"

In 1972 he was a one-man buggy-whippin' wrecking crew on the way to winning an MVP for the Sox -- who of course finished second in the AL West.

Like Lyons, Dick never made it to the Series.

Belated Ugh

Nephew Matt & wifey Trish were in town from PA over the weekend. As Penn State grads they came both to visit the favorite uncle & aunt (& cousins) and to join the trek to Champaign for the Lions vs. the Illini (and to get a little quality time away from the nipper as well, I suppose).

Apart from the couple of hours spent at the game itself, the weekend was great. The game itself was an unmitigated disaster of biblical proportions on so many levels that it almost defies description.

The good news was a second half score of 7-7. The bad news was the 56-3 halftime score. I know it will take time for Ron Zook to bring in some talent and right the ship, but this was so mind-bogglingly bad that it's hard to envision the Illini being competitive in the Big Ten for a long while.

But the beers outside the stadium were good, and you make the best of a bad situation. The long and late ride home was enlivened by Matt's suggestion to pass around the iPod and everyone take turns picking songs. Here are a few of the songs -- at least the ones which made it to the end of the song and onto my "Recently Played" list:
  • Noreen - "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" - Green Day
  • Matt - "Me & Mia" - Ted Leo + The Pharmacists
  • Trish - "Gin & Juice" - Snoop Dogg
  • Dave - "Enjoy The Silence" - Depeche Mode
  • Noreen - "Landed" - Ben Folds
  • Matt - "Fairytale Of New York" - The Pogues
  • Trish - "Tears Of A Clown" - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
  • Dave - "Let's Stay Together" - Al Green
  • Noreen - "Aerials" - System Of A Down
  • Matt - "Wonderboy" - Tenacious D
  • Dave - "Seven Nation Army" - The White Stripes
  • Matt - "Billie Jean" - Michael Jackson
  • Dave - "Brown Sugar" - The Rolling Stones
  • Noreen - "Lose Yourself" - Eminem
  • Matt - "Jump Around" - House Of Pain
  • Trish - "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" - Eve
  • Noreen - "School" - Supertramp
  • Matt - "Stranglehold" - Ted Nugent
  • Trish - "Hello, It's Me" - Todd Rundgren
  • Dave - "I Was Made To Love Her" - Stevie Wonder
  • Noreen - "Here Come Those Tears Again" - Jackson Browne
  • Matt - "Light Of A Fading Star" - Flogging Molly
  • Trish - "Our Lips Are Sealed" - The Go-Gos
  • Dave - "Hope There's Someone" - Antony & The Johnsons

1 More 2 Go

Not that I was still awake to see/hear it, but the Sox took their third step towards a World Series championship last night in 14 innings, 7-5. By my calculations, the game finished up at about 1:15 local time, and if there was anyone still up watching this thing on the east coast at quarter after 2 in the morning I'll eat my Sox hat.

It still seems like a dream, but if the Sox win tonight they will have won 11 of 12 postseason games, and 16 of 17 since their darkest moments in Detroit at the end of September.

Go Sox!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Not In The Cards...Again

For all the regular season success of the St. Louis Cardinals in the past decade -- 5 division titles, 6 playoff appearances (5 in the last 6 years) -- last night's loss to the Astros saw the Cards match a (for them) ignoble record. It has now been 23 years since the last of their 9 World Series titles -- matching the franchise-record drought of 23 years from the first series in 1903 to their first title in 1926.

This has apparently become the norm since the infamous Don Denkinger call in Game 6 of the 1985 Series. Since that call the Cards have consistently found a way to lose in the postseason, and typically against inferior competition.

  • 1985 - after the blown call the 101-win Cards completely disintegrated against the 91-win Royals, dropping Game 6 in the 9th and getting blown out in Game 7, 11-0.
  • 1987 - the 95-win Cards lost all four games in the HumpDome to drop the Series against the 85-win Twins.
  • 1996 - the Cards pushed the superior Braves to a Game 7 in Atlanta, but lost it 15-0!
  • 2000 - the Cards were swamped by the Mets in 5 games in the NLCS, dropping the finale 7-0.
  • 2001 - the Wild-Cards lost to the D-Backs in the first round, losing in the bottom of the 9th of the deciding 5th game.
  • 2002 - after dropping the first two at home, the Cards never came back to the Loo, losing the NLCS to the Giants in 5.
  • 2004 - a 105-win juggernaut was swept by the BoSox in the first trip to the Series since '87.
  • 2005 - baseball's winningest team (100) fell in the NLCS to a team they had beaten by 11 games in the regular season.
Obviously, the regular season is the hard part. Given that baseball is the toughest sport in which to make the playoffs, 5 appearances in 6 years is strong stuff. But given the recent failures to live up to the proud history of the franchise, when can we look forward to hearing about the Denkinger curse?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

More Of What I Want

More on the coming changes in how we watch movies & TV.

Not Dead Yet

Clutch. Stone clutch.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Once In A Lifetime

A once in a lifetime occurrence last night.



I'm 45 and it is the first time the White Sox have won the American League pennant in my lifetime. They last appeared (in a World Series) was in October of 1959 -- 11 months before I appeared.

Next weekend will make it once in the Series. In my lifetime.

They did it in fine fashion -- 4 straight complete games for the first time in a postseason series since the Yankees in the 1956 World Series. So I guess that's a once in a lifetime occurrence as well.

More Puppy!

Q. Puppy got a name?
A. Yes...

Q. ....Well, what is it?
A. Libby. No wait, Tibby. No wait, Spot.

Q. Never mind.
A. Maybe it's Libby.
Q. I said never mind.

More pics (click to enlarge):


A new addition to the family this weekend (more pics to come):

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Yesterday had to be the most remarkable day of college football I can ever remember -- at least here in the Midwest.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota scored to go up 10 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Wisconsin took only a little more than a minute to score to pull within 3. Minnie started at their own 9 after the kickoff and couldn't move the ball. Their freshman punter then dropped the snap and Wisky fell on it the end zone for the winning TD.

In West Lafayette, Northwestern scored the winning touchdown on 4th & goal from the 1 to beat Purdue.

In Ann Arbor, Penn State scored with 53 seconds left to take a 25-21 lead. After taking the kickoff back to midfield, Michigan scored the winning touchdown as time expired to hand the Lions their first loss of the season.

And in South Bend, USC salvaged its Number 1 ranking with a win over Notre Dame. After exchanging leads the entire second half, ND took a 31-28 lead with 2:04 left. SC marched back (theme for the day), including a 61 yard conversion on 4th & 9. Out of timeouts, the game appeared to be over when Matt Leinart was stopped at the 1 with seconds left. Thing was, he no longer had the ball, since it was forced out of his hands by an Irish helmet. That left seven seconds on the clock -- just enough for Leinart to decoy a spike and take a second effort sneak into the end zone.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Midnight Madness means a new season is almost upon us.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

You Say You Want A Revolution?

Apple unveiled it's newest iPod yesterday. The revolution? It will allow you to play video as well as audio.

Think the shakeup in the record industry has been bad in the last few years? -- you haven't seen anything yet.

Also announced, at least in its infant stages, is the part that iTunes will play in the distribution of content. What iTunes is doing to the audio industry is coming for video industries as well -- direct to consumer downloads.

Eventually what this is likely to mean is that the giant media conglomerates will be little more than financiers for content providers. Decisions about what to watch and when and where to watch it will be completely pushed down to the consumer. Content will be the value proposition -- not packaging.

As exciting as the video iPod is, though, I do think that the truly revolutionary aspect will be the eventual role of iTunes (or whatever it will eventually be called). As home electronics become more integrated the day is soon coming when it will be an everyday thing for the computer/laptop/TV/stereo to be one fully integrated device/network within a home -- and iTunes (and/or its equivalents) will be the important aspect of the iPod/iTunes pair. Consumers will be able to sort through, download and view content (video and audio) from iTunes right through their "TV" screen, using a "remote" that will look like some sort of computer keyboard/remote tablet hybrid.

Want to watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm?" Forget the TiVo, look it up, buy it and watch it. At a certain price point this will start to make sense (why should I pay a flat fee for HBO when I watch at best 5% of what they air in a given month? Buy what you want a la carte and forget the rest) -- and as this becomes a dominant model that price point will fall.

If I want to watch it on my TV right then, I can do that. If I want to watch it later that night, I can store it and do that. If I want to download it to my iPod and watch it somewhere else tomorrow, I can do that.

What will become valuable will be good content that people will pay for. Which is as it should be.

Records You May Not Want

From this morning's Tribune:

"Illinois Quarterback Tim Brasic has rushed for 242 yards and needs only 56 yards in the last five games to break Rich Weiss' 1978 single-season school record."

Mickey Owens Redux?

It had to be that the baseball gods would not allow Mark Buehrle to lose Game 2 of the ALCS -- even if his teammates were unable to win it for him using natural means.

A.J. Pierzynski made it to first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth after swinging at strike three. A controversial call of a dropped third strike allowed Pierzynski to take first. After stealing second without contest, PR Pablo Ozuna scored on Joe Crede's smash off the wall. The run gave Buehrle a 2-1 win that he certainly deserved, even if the rest of the team might not have, and tied the series at one game each.

Next up, Friday in the OC.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Soggy At Crunch Time

Disappointing 3-2 loss for the Sox last night in Game 1 vs. the Angels in the ALCS.

Disappointing mostly because of the missed opportunities to at least tie the game in the late innings. The leadoff hitters in the 7th, 8th & 9th all got on base -- none scored. The reasons were failures in the very areas reputed to be the strengths of the team: small ball skills.

In the 7th, catcher A.J. Pierzynski is shot at second on what is clearly a missed hit-and-run sign to Joe Crede. In the 8th, Scott Podsednik had a singularly horrible at-bat after Jose Uribe's leadoff infield single: fouling off two sac attempts before watching a called third strike. Uribe got to second before dying. In the 9th, after Carl Everett reached on an error, Aaron Rowand's telegraphed sac attempt cut down PR Pablo Ozuna at second. A fly out and a Crede punch out finished the game.

Back at it tonight at the Joan.

DualDiscDebacle -- Incoming!

Over the weekend I received my final incoming package from the DualDiscDebacle CD exchange. That made 5, plus an extra. Here's the rundown:

First in was "The Sophomore Mix: Parts I & II" (click to any of these to enlarge):

These came from Jenny in St. Louis. Some good newer stuff (Pelican, Jem, Libertines) and a lot of old-school stuff (Beatles, Stones, Velvets, Clash, Sly Stone, etc.).

Next in was and untitled mix -- with no cover art -- from Templar in Winnipeg, Manitoba:

Hmmmm. Not the greatest amount of effort here, but it did include "Cinnamon Park" by Jill Sobule, which I had been looking for for a while (and no, I'm not going to buy an entire Jill Sobule CD for one song), so that was a plus.

Amy and Anthony were in next with another untitled, uncovered mix:

Some weird coincidences on this one. Both discs include "David Watts" by The Jam (Amy did one, Anthony the other), "White Man In Hammersmith Palais" was also on "The Sophomore Mix", and Ted Leo's "Ghosts" was on my mix. Anyway, a lot of great songs here.

Fourth in was "Brasil/OK" from Rodrigo in Brazil:

The first disc includes Brazilian tunes, and many of them feature a sort of ambient feel (accentuated, no doubt, by the fact that I don't know any Portugese). The standout track is "Tabocas" by Instituto & Z'Africa Brasil. The second disc is somewhat more familiar fare, highlighted by Head Of Femur and Arab Strap.

The last of my expected five, in this weekend, was "Rain/Shine" from Kirsten in North Vancouver, BC:

Both discs feature a nice, subtle vibe and a nice mix of old favs and new (to me) stuff -- which is just what you want out of a mix like this. Really good stuff from one of my favorite places on earth (Vancouver is just the best).

The extra double disc, "Chupacabra/One Eyed Pig," came courtesy of a side swap with Jen:

Great cover art (certainly the best of the lot), and a great set of songs as well -- too many to mention really -- which were also almost certainly the best of the lot.

Thanks to all for the great CDs!

The Ugly Canadian

That angry-looking guy you just passed on the street? Could be Canadian.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hitchens On Miers

If the Bush Administration had somehow come to the conclusion that Christopher Hitchens was one of them, his incendiary Slate piece on the Miers nomination will lay that thought to rest.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Step One?

Step one was to win the first postseason series since the doughboys were fighting "over there."

Last night -- after losing an ALDS in 2000, losing ALCSs in 1993 & 1983, losing the World Series in 1959, and throwing the World Series in 1919 -- the Sox finally took that first step, beating the other Sox 5-3 to sweep their ALDS series.

Step two awaits the winner of the Yankees-Angels series. More fun awaits.

Mediocrity Deserves Representation Too ... Right?

Steve Chapman weighed in on the latest Supreme Court nominee a couple of days ago, and I find myself about half in agreement with what he writes.
For the latest vacancy, Bush conducted a wide-ranging national search and ended up with someone from down the hall. After John G. Roberts Jr., the only appropriate response to the nomination of Harriet Miers, on either the right or the left, is: You cannot be serious.
I agree with Chapman that Miers is the most underqualified Supreme Court nomination in my memory, and quite probably the most underqualified ever. Even Haynsworth and Carswell look like John Marshall next to her.

My other feeling, though, is that it is ridiculous to feel any surprise at the choice. This President is increasingly being defined by his own mediocrity (try this, go to google, type in "failure" and hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. Funny? Not too funny.) and by the mediocrity of his choices in advisors and personnel (Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Brown, Rice, Chertoff, etc., etc., etc.).

This is now an administration in the throes of cronyism run amuck -- Harding II. Why should we expect anything different from a Supreme Court appointment now?

There is also no point in feeling any consternation at the choice. This is the guy the country elected twice (OK, OK, once -- make it twice, with an asterisk). Time and again we've heard that what Americans like about the guy is that he makes a decision and sticks to it -- he has the courage of his convictions. Well, the flip side of that is that he's going to do whatever the hell he wants and damn the consequences for the future of the country. God talks to him, so who are you to tell him that anything he does is wrong? "Trust me," is what he says, and this is not a request. It is a command.

Chapman writes that,
A president is entitled to give priority to personal loyalty and comfort when he is choosing, say, a staff secretary--a job Miers previously held. But for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, a bit more should be expected.
More should be expected from most Presidents, but I'm afraid that almost 5 years into this President's term, you cannot seriously expect more from this one.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rerelease Trailers

In it's endless quest for new markets for old products, Hollywood is repackaging and releasing some old titles with some new pitches.

Check out the trailers (Quicktime) for these rereleases:

Oh. Umm, no. Not real.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Up Rethought?

Noreen has long been telling me that Up (the first one after Bill Berry left the band to concentrate on his farming) is one of her favorite R.E.M. albums, and that it deserves a lot more credit than I've ever given it. My typical reaction has been to back slowly out of the room while nodding and smiling.

Truth is, I don't have a single song from Up on my iTunes. I have almost 13,000 songs on my iTunes, and not a single one from this album from one of my favorite bands of all time, even though I have the CD. I guess you might say that I haven't shown it much interest.

Along comes Stylus (via chromewaves) with not one, but two articles asking those like me -- and I'm not in the minority here -- to give Up another listen. The first, by Ian Mathers, is part of a Stylus series called "On Second Thought." As you might guess, the series takes albums which were initally dismissed and says "not so fast."

Mathers argues that Up only reveals its treasures slowly, but that it came at a time in the band's career where that type of patience was likely to be in short supply. It's core fan base was aging, and so didn't have the time to devote to repeated deep listenings (check). With the band pared to a trio, one collective eyebrow would already be raised in anticipation of a sub-par effort sans Berry (check, again).

Mathers compares Up to Kid A in that in both cases fans "seemed to mostly react with mild bafflement." The key difference being that Radiohead's fans were willing and able to give Kid A enough listens to ultimately understand it and love it, while R.E.M.'s fans showed no such willingness with Up. That may be true to some degree, but I'm quite sure that there were more than a few Radiohead fans who loved Kid A from the first listen (myself included). Yes, it wasn't OK Computer II, but who wanted that?

The problem for R.E.M. wasn't that Up wasn't Automatic For The People II, it was that seven years and two mediocre albums had intervened. I had spent some time listening to Monster before punting it. A couple of songs on New Adventures in Hi-Fi were decent, but the album as a whole was uninteresting.

So when the band reneged on their promises to hang it up when anyone of the original four left, and soldiered on to make Up, it was true enough that patience was in short supply. For Mathers, though, patience has additional rewards:
(There) are moments and songs that stack up next to anything I've heard from any area of R.E.M.'s discography, even if they sound nothing like Murmur or Green or Out Of Time or what have you. The shapeless Reveal and the leaden Around The Sun quickly proved that Up was a fluke, a happy accident, but that one-off nature hasn't prevented it from slowly assimilating more and more of my listening time. Sometimes the really good ones sneak themselves into your ears whether you want them to or not.
The second Stylus piece is a J. Edward Keyes article that "plays God" by shortening and resequencing the album, axing three songs and "shuffling the deck." The result is, according to Keyes, "a second chance, a shot at filtering out all the PR malarky and seeing Up for what it is: The last great R.E.M. record."

Well, maybe. I guess it might be worth reshuffling to Keyes' specs and giving it one more listen. Maybe I'll even see what Noreen's been talking about all these years.