Saturday, May 31, 2008

Modest Mouse and R.E.M. tonight

Review to follow.

Also, I certainly need to type up a response to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

And, oh yeah, we bought a house. It's kind of a big deal. ;-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The NBA has become Professional Wrestling

Once upon a time, long ago, in Santa Barbara, I had a wonderful experience that would prove to be formative moment in my development as a sports fan. Magic Johnson was in town, and he brought a whole team of ex-NBA stars to play an exhibition game for professional basketball deprived Santa Barbarians. It was a fantastic game - there were top college prospects and old pros trading baskets and increasingly difficult shots. The game came down to a final play. The details are fuzzy, but I remember the moment the game ended with absolute clarity. Magic made his patented hook shot with time running out. Interestingly, he made this shot from half court.

What really intrigued me, though, and what intrigues me to this day, is that there was no way that ball was going to careen off the edge of that basket. It was going in; there was no doubt about that. So, why didn't Magic take this half-court shot all the time? Clearly, he could make it often, with reasonable certainty. Wouldn't a half-court hook shot be an amazing weapon to have in your arsenal? Yet, that was the only time I saw Magic use this shot.

"No really, I NEVER make this shot. Pure luck"

This leads me to my current assertion. The NBA is fake. I love it. I love watching the current Lakers team, with the uber-clumsy but effective Pau Gasol toss in hook shots like it's the first time he's touched a basketball.

"I'm so big and sexy and Spanish"

But it's fake. I'm sorry to be the one to have to tell you this. So, "what's your proof that the NBA is fake?" you are probably asking me right now. Let me explain, like a Spaniard would.

1) Let us begin with the obvious: The refs are crooked. Most of us who have watched any amount of NBA games over the past few years knew this, so we weren't at all surprised by the Tim Donaghy adventure. If you watched the Spurs-Suns series last year, you knew something was rotten in the state of Arizona. Poor little white Canadian Steve Nash's bloody nose was one of the most pathetic sights in NBA history, and it was compounded by the fact that it was the result of yet another dirty ass play by the leagues dirtiest team, the San Antonio Spurs (more on their terrible "contributions" to the current state of the NBA later).

"Some body's going to do something about Robert Horry, right?"

2) Dunks. Why aren't there more of them? It's clear that most of these guys are tall enough and athletic enough to dunk on almost every play, yet they are a relative rarity. Sometimes, you'll see a player dunk with little or no effort, and then on the next play, this same exactly player will miss an awkward two-foot hook shot. This makes no sense. It's almost like David Stern has one of those collars from the beginning of The Running Man around every NBA player's neck. If you dunk too often - POP! There goes your head. And all your endorsements.

"I don't have to jump to dunk, but it looks more realistic when I do"

3) Free Throws. This one boggles the mind. How do professional basketball players ever average less than 80% on free throws. They're free. Any kid can spend a few months shooting baskets outside his house and get up to 80% on his free throw percentage. That's why I am absolutely dumbfounded when players like Shaq struggle their entire careers to get over 50%. You are telling me that Chipper Jones is batting .400 and yet there are professional basketball players that can't make 4 out of 10 free throws? Nonsense.

"If you can't make free throws, you deserve to lose at life"

4) Exaggerated Arguing/Flopping/Fouling. I had to combine these all into one category, but I think everyone knows what I mean. Sarah can't stand basketball because, in her words "THEY ARE ALL A BUNCH OF WHINY PUSSIES!" (Sarah is a Packers fan. In her eyes, basketball players are primadonas who couldn't hold Brett Farve's jockstrap.) So, this is where the Spurs come in. Have you ever seen Tim Duncan's eyes when he's called for a foul? They are practically lunar. Have you ever seen Bruce Bowen or Manu Ginobili flop to the ground for no apparent reason other than they just got burned on their defensive assignment? (If your answer is no, just watch a Spurs game for more than three minutes) And then there's my favorite - The Mystery Foul. No one knows why it was called. There weren't any players even close to the ball. The other team just got mugged on the other end of the court. Yet, there's that whistle. No rhyme or reason - almost as if the refs are working on commission, and need to call one more foul so they can buy that jet ski they've had their eyes on.

"So THIS is what it's like when you close your eyes!"

5) Travelling. It happens on every play. Also randomly called at times.

"Hey refs! Do this more often!"

6) The dagger in the heart of the legitimacy of the NBA is the Harlem Globetrotters. Have you seen what they can do to the Washington Generals? I say put them in the NBA, and they'll win all 82 games. Kobe ain't got nothing on Reece "Goose" Tatum.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Growing out of bands

There are some bands that transcend your personality shifts, changing values, and modulating tastes...

And these are probably the bands with which your connection is so intense and intertwined with your essence that there's no way you are going to move past them, because they are moving faster than your own intellect.

On the other hand, there are bands that had a once exalted position in the pantheon of permanent artists who fall from grace, yet seem to eventually recover...

When they come back into your life, you wish you hadn't parted on such bad terms before - though an album like Around the Sun will do that to you...

There's another type of band - one that fits like a glove on a particularly level of your consciousness, but not as intensely as the first category. These bands may stay "true to their roots" so to speak, but that is indeed why you love them so much.

I'm certainly not one of the people who was surprised by Pearl Jam's latest "comeback" album. I knew they'd just keep cranking out good, interesting music powered by skilled musicians and a guy with one hell of a set of pipes.

There is an unfortunate fourth category - bands that stay the same, while you don't. And no matter how badly you want to continue to love these bands, they just can't keep up with the moderate personal progress that you've made in your life...

Jimmy Eat World was the latest and most tragic entry in this group, as it is very difficult to see them every making an album that is relevant to my life ever again. This pains me deeply. But I have to call a spade a spade.

And now it's time to add another band - Death Cab For Cutie.

This is tough, obviously, because they are my wife's favorite band.

But I've heard their new album enough times now, and I realized why they agitate me to the degree they do - Ben Gibbard is still singing about the problems I had in my early twenties. It's all uncertainty and angst about who loves you and who doesn't. And frankly, I think that's juvenile. Call me an elitist (I'd be in good company given the recent comments about Obama), but I can't be moved anymore by lines like "You can do better than me, but I can't do better than you." I'm married. I have a job I like a lot. That feeling of uncertainty, that sense that your life is somehow a disappointment, the sneaking suspicion that you'll never feel things the way you used to - that's all gone for me now. Simply put, Ben Gibbard is still singing about the same things he always has - and those things don't apply to me anymore.

I used to be a staunch Gibbard supporter. I liked the long, elliptical lyrics that he crafted. I liked his flowing melodies. The only problem is that I grew (not very much even), and the band has stayed the same. Let's look at some lyrics from their latest album to illustrate:

I cursed myself for being surprised / That this didn't play like it did in my mind.

Now, I'm not going to take the trouble of looking for specific lines from other Death Cab songs, but anyone vaguely interested in the band knows that this is Ben's only subject matter - disappointment. Sure, he'll throw in a love song here or there, but they are always tinged with bitterness and regret. I can't say that I feel bitter or regretful when it comes to matters of love anymore.

She holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child

Here's another lyric that will be familiar to DCFC fans. The awkward simile. The only problem is that these similes are getting clumsier and worse with each passing album.

We're not the same, dear, as we used to be. The seasons have changed and so have we.

I don't think I have to say much about these lyrics. Not only are they painful obvious and uninspired, the comparison to the seasons is so banal I'm wondering if Ben is getting lazy or is trying to poke fun at the trite lyrics that pervade pop music.

Moving on to the music that back these lyrics, we find the same problems. Ostensibly, Narrow Stairs is an "off-the-cuff" and "energetic" return to albums like Transatlanticism and The Photo Album after the stale, muzak-esque Plans. This is all pretense though. The music is still not up to the level of creativity seen in DCFC's older work, simply because they were never a great band, they were merely very good. You saw the potential there, but with each passing album, I feel like I'm watching a highly touted NFL prospect blow their once unlimited talent on cheap hookers and cocaine.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I just watched it and I am quite disturbed right now. The scene in the pharmacy was my fucking nightmare, but the scariest part of this film was the people! The ending is unbelievably fucked. Sarah is traumatized - She's watching "How it's made" on the science channel just to take her mind off of the ending. Harsh realm. Harsh Harsh realm!

People are complaining a lot about gas prices. I'm not surprised. They are high, but everything goes up in price. Especially drugs for cars.

You've got that right, people will always complain about having to pay for anything.

I'm going to play Oblivion as soon as Sarah is done watching TV.

Don't read this next thing unless you're totally ready to geek out.

I was playing Oblivion yesterday and I stumbled upon this beseiged castle. After a skirmish with some marauders, I was informed that I had received the deed to the castle! NICE! I HAVE A CASTLE! I love this game.

It was totally random, but I just stumbled upon this castle directly to the west of Chorral. They actually have a google map for oblivion, and I found it on that map. I know it's there, but I'm not sure why I was able to stumble upon it. It was an interesting battle, too, because I was getting my ass kicked, and then some random Imps starting attacking the marauders. Once they were dead, I killed the Imps, talked to the head of the castle guard and he gave me the deed to the castle. I'm not ready to move on to the main quest and oblivion gates yet. The first time I started this game about a year and a half ago, I made the mistake of going straight for the main quest.

It's much more fun, in my opinion, to wander around doing random quests for a while. I tried to steal a horse yesterday. That didn't work - this is not exactly like GTA.

Clean game though. My mind feels dirty after watching the Mist. That Lady preaching about the end of days broke my spirit.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Unwanted Side Effects

It's amazing, but all weight loss products are basically the same thing - a low grade stimulant that curbs your appetite and speeds up your metabolism. There's no way this is what our creator intended for us to do when the burden of resisting a third Burrito Supreme at Taco Bell became to much to bare.


Fantasy Sports are an incredible source of joy and pain. I recommend that you definitely don't maybe probably sign up for one never do it.

Every time an Ipod commerical comes on, I'm convinced it's only a matter of time before Sarah has downloaded whatever massively annoying song is in the background.

We made an offer on a house. We were a bit too late. It's o.k., I'd rather live in a castle.
I had a student write an AP essay using the Bible as a work of literature, while simultaneously proclaiming that it was a factual document. I love brain dead again Christians.
LOST is on in a few minutes.

Here's a picture.