No alarms and no surprises, please.

Monday, July 30, 2007

States that have hosted Fridge

Chemist sez he may have done this before. Maybe so, but it's new to me, and pretty cool. I just wish we could choose the color for the state. Red sucks as a state color.

create your own visited states map

Without further adieu, here are the "States" I've been to in no discernible order.

1) Connecticut - Widely known for two things: Home state of our desipicable Senator Joe Leiberman and being the location of Fridge Headquarters.
2) California - Finally got to go to Califoria in 2005 for the Microsoft PDC. It's the convention for the geeky minions like me who make their living out of making stuff that crashes on windows boxes. I liked LA, but it really is like a bowl of concrete between the beach and the hills. Kinda freaked me out.
3) Oregon - Went to Portland for friend's wedding. I loved it there. I could enjoy living there. Plus, I pulled off a bravura performance with "the toast". I'm still hoping to get a hold of the video of that, so I can make myself a YouTube star. Anyway, I killed, such that this dude kept coming up to me and saying that we should "do standup comedy together". I'm not even sure what that means. Is it me, or does that sound like a come-on? I felt a little gay talking to him about it.
4) Florida - Home of Yankee Spring Training, Several Fridge friends and Disney. Love Disney.
5) Illinois - My brother went here for undergrad at U of Chicago. I think he was a sophomore or junior when I went to check him and the city out over thanksgiving break. It was really fucking cold. Frostbite inducing cold. I did not dig it.
6) New York - Love it. NYC is awesome. I went to school upstate at an institute that is now dead to me. Long story. Lots of variety in New York, from the city itself to Montauk, to Niagara to the Finger Lakes. Oh yeah and Binghampton.
7) Rhode Island - Wee little state with some cool east coast beaches and Newport. I really like Newport.
8) Maine - Remind me. 'Moose' is like 'Deer' same in plural and singular forms, no?
9) Massachusetts - Boston, Cape and the headquarters of the aforementioned
10) Wisconsin - Been to Madison many times when I first started in the software business. Mostly it sucks. In fact, one thing I remember is that Madison has a law that no building can be taller than the state capitol building. so you have this sprawling city where all the buildings are 5 stories or less. Stupid. Does have a cool college area near the U of Wisc.
11) Vermont - When I was in college and the drinking age was lower in VT than NY and the liquor was cheaper, I may or may not have loaded up my Subaru Brat with cases of liquor to bring back to my fraternity.
12) New Hampshire - Lake Winepessaukee (SP?). Or something like that. Went there on vacation. It looked just like Connecticut with a bigger lake. Yawn.
13) Georgia - Went to Atlanta in 1996 to visit a friend and watched the Yanks beat the Braves in game 6 from a sports bar crowded with Braves fan. Drunk as I was, I was decidedly not gracious to my southern hosts. I'm pretty sure I did the Tomahawk chop and might have mentioned the wife-beating allegations against Bobby Cox.... Moving on.
14) West Virginia - I went to a shit-kicker country bar that had 60 year old ladies selling jello shots and Honky-Tonkin Country bands. It was another world.
15) Kansas - Birthplace of Mom of Fridge. Went there when young with Mom to visit family. Remember it being hot and boring.
16) Virginia - Former location of Fridge Headquarters during attempt to cash in on irrational exuberance. Lots to do if you don't mind swimming in people. Severe lack of Dunkin Donuts is a major weakness.
17) Louisiana - Mardi Gras 1997. Five Days of Ludicrous Drinking. By the end, I was actually bored of drinking and was a little frightened by people in general. Loved the city. Wonder how different it is now.
18) Pennsylvania - Birthplace of Fridge (Pittsburgh!). Lived there again as twenty something shiftless loser. Mostly sucks with exception of Gettysburg, Hershey, Philly and State College on Gameday. Best described as two cities on either end with Alabama in the middle.
19) New Jersey - Home of the New York Giants and the Bada Bing.
20) Washington, DC - Not a state. When I lived in VA, I got to take my friends and family to the same DC attractions over and over! Yay!

Not bad. But my map is not nearly as red as chemist's. Stupid big box states out west. Go to one little place and get to color in a big-ass box of real estate. I need to pee in Wyoming, too.
21) Delaware - How could I forget Delaware? Well, it would be easy, except I saw a NASCAR race there once that really kicked ass. My only time at a NASCAR event. Surprisingly cool. Beer selection, predictably bad. My favorite note for this is that you can actually buy an extra seat just for your cooler. In fact, depending on the size of it, you may be required to. I love America.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Caption Contest

"Prime Minister Brown? I know yer a limey and all and use the metic system. But, do you think this little sumbitch can take us to White Castle? I sure do love them teeny burgers!"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

If you don't watch Flight Of The Conchords on HBO

You really should. Imagine a sitcom about two dudes from New Zealand where the humor is somewhere between The Office and Napoleon Dynamite. Oh yeah, and then a couple of times an episode they break into song. Songs like this one.

"Aint no party like my Nana's tea party!"

Best Country Song Ever

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Guess What? Curt Schilling Sucks!

Really? I can't believe it. Once again, the obnoxious baby jesus pimpin doofus felt the need to share his thoughts on players not named Curt Schilling with the rest of the world.

"If someone wrote that stuff about me and I didn't sue their [butt] off, am I not admitting that there's some legitimacy to it?" he said on HBO's "Costas Now."

When asked about Schilling's remarks before the Giants played the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night, Bonds responded: "Don't worry, my day will come.''

Schilling said "this will be the steroids era forever" and proposed that Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro should be punished for steroids use.

"Jose Canseco admitted he cheated his entire career," Schilling said. "Everything he ever did should be wiped clean. I think his MVP should go back and should go to the runner-up."

Pardon me, while I stretch, reflect and gather my Qi as I prepare to once again address the bloviating gelatinous mess that is Curt Schilling.

Ahh... ok. Ready now.

See, here's the thing Curt, you pathetic pimply WoW geek. (this pic shows Curt as he prepares to do battle online!)
No one really wants to hear your pathetic grandstanding about steroids. Why is it that you consistently feel the need to inject yourself into this issue? What about your personality craves attention? Did your parents ignore you such that you were forced to consistently bug them for attention like a pomeranian humping somone's leg? Why, Curt?

Who died and made you the King of All Baseball Media? Was it the baby Jesus? If so, can I get a ruling from the Pope on this one?

Furthermore, where was all this outrage and willingness to throw players under the bus when you were testifying before congress on Steroids? Here's you, flapping your gums to Bob Costas on HBO:
"It goes to the Mark McGwire thing in Congress. I mean, I'm a huge Mark McGwire fan. But I just always thought it was very simple: If you did something and someone asks you if you did it and you didn't do it, you say no. Any other answer than no is some form of yes, isn't it?"

Here you were in your statement on Capitol Hill as part of your 2005 testimony:
I must also tell you, members of the committee, that I hope that a result of this hearing there is a better awareness of the steroid program recently implemented by Major League Baseball and its Players Association. That program, though certainly not perfect, and I dare say there is no such thing as a perfect testing program, is a substantial step in the right direction that appears, from initial statistics, to be having the desired effect—that is removing steroids from baseball. Statistics have shown that from 2003 to 2004 the number of players using steroids in the major leagues has gone from 5-7% to 1.7%. In fact, in yesterday’s New York Times it was reported that there were 96 positive tests during the 2003 testing period, and in 2004 that number saw a dramatic decrease as only 12 players tested positive. I see that as progress, I see that as a positive. It troubles me when I hear the program being identified as a joke, a travesty and a program not designed to rid baseball of steroids. I think those numbers show this to be a meaningful program, one that is working, and steroid usage is dropping. The Players Association, in an unprecedented move, re-opened the Collective Bargaining agreement for the sole purpose of strengthening the drug testing procedures, and its penalties. You may view the reopening of the agreement as a non-issue, or as one of minimal consequences, we don't.

Wait a sec. It doesn't sound like you thought it was a huge problem then and you felt that the Players Union had handled the situation with a great deal of responsiveness. Let us all remember that the first version of the steroid policy, of which you are speaking in this statment, really was a joke. And it wasn't until the players went on TV and were so transparently lame that public pressure forced the union to cave and give it some teeth. And why didn't you call "bullshit" on Palmeiro and McGwire when they went to Congress and ducked every tough question? HBO asked the same question.
Schilling said the circumstances of testifying caused him to be reticent.

"When you're sitting in front of Congress and you're under oath, you'd better be damn sure if you're going to mention a name that you are 100 percent guaranteed sure somebody did something," he said during the HBO interview.

This statement would be amazing coming from a normal person, but one must recall that you are simply a complete asshole . This is pure "cover your ass" activity from a guy who was there not to represent baseball and not even to pitchers who have to throw baseballs to 300 lb behemoths like Mark McGwire. You were there to represent the players union. The Globe had it right at the time.
Schilling denounced Canseco as ''a liar" and his book as a ''disgrace" and defended baseball's revamped plan to ban steroids as meaningful progress.

''The allegations made in that book, the attempts to smear the names of players, both past and present, should be seen for what they are," Schilling said, ''an attempt to make money at the expense of others."
Again, wait. Here you were defending the names named in the book, specifically McGwire and Palmeiro. WTF? Didn't you say that Canseco's MVP should be taken away because of what he said in his book? But in 2005 it was ok to ignore what was in it? And in 2007 it's all of a sudden ok to 'smear the names' of the same players? Fucking Douchebag.

Even before that testimony, you were predictably outspoken about steroid testing. But not necessarily in the way you'd think.
Curt Schilling says he and fellow players would be more than willing to submit to steroid testing as long as Major League Baseball owners had no role in the administering of tests.

"I don't trust the Major League Baseball ownership group to handle drug testing for Major League Baseball," the Red Sox right-hander was quoted as saying in a Hartford Courant story published Wednesday.

Aha. We have reached the meat of it now. I have it now. All along when Bud Selig was trying to change the policy the MLB Players Assoc. and basically used the "five D's of Dodgeball: Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Dodge". They even asked for a larger share of revenue in exchange for "allowing" testing. You supported this all the way. You chipped away publicly in 2004 at the Baseball Owner Tyrants. In 2005, you went to Capitol Hill and promoted how "generous" the players association was to re-open the collective bargaining agreement to include testing - even though at the time, there was no penalty. You said nothing about who was doing steroids (you had to be 100% sure, right) and even attacked Canseco who has yet to be wrong about anything in his book. Now, it's 2007 you now think it's just fine to hammer everyone who's alleged to be involved in steroids, proof or no and oh yeah, let's just point out that Barry Bonds has a mistress again...

Curt Schilling, you are an opportunistic, self-aggrandizing asshole. Furthermore, in as much as you were outspokenly resistant to the kind of steroid testing that the Commissioner was trying to implement, defended the Union's first attempt at toothless testing and silent about abuse among the teammates you played with you are wholly complicit in creating the environment that allowed our national pasttime to be dominated by hulking muscle men and later bogged down by the minutia of who took what PED when. Now, you have the gall to stand up and flap your gums about steroids incessantly as if by some colossal mistake you were declared the voice of reason.

Shut up you complete idiot.

And what of Barry Bonds, who is undoubtedly a cheater and an easy target for an idiot like yourself?
When asked about Schilling's remarks before the Giants played the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night, Bonds responded: "Don't worry, my day will come."

If I look into my mind's eye and imagine what the perfect "day (that) will come" looks like, it's this:

"AP - Anaheim - Last night, the Boston Red Sox faced the California Angels of Anaheim of Orange County and new DH Barry Bonds, who last year broke the record for most all-time homers and subsequently had 755 asterisks applied to his new record. When Boston Pitcher Curt Schilling stepped on the mound, Bonds left the batter's box, ran to the mound and proceeded to pull a Jeff Gilooly on Schilling beating him severely in the left ankle until he had a new bloody sock to match the famed right one. Bonds then proceeded to the Press Box to announce that he was retiring for good, that he had in fact taken steroids and that all his stats after the age of 34 should be wiped from the record books so we can all get on with our lives. Schilling immediately fedex-ed the left bloody sock to the Hall Of Fame and said that he was retiring to focus on geeky MMORPG called Schilling's World Of Suckcraft where every player must be Curt Schilling and points are accrued by giving press conferences wherein you mention the Baby Jesus. Sales in Boston are expected to be high. Schilling then gave interviews long into the night until the baseball writers chipped in on a box of donuts to get him to shut the fuck up."

Curt Schilling... You suck.

Good Boy, Jake. RIP

This dog was a true hero.

A world-class rescue dog’
Flood adopted Jake as a 10-month-old puppy. He had been abandoned on a street with a broken leg and a dislocated hip.

On the evening of the team’s arrival in New York, Jake walked into a fancy Manhattan restaurant wearing his search-and-rescue vest and was treated to a free steak dinner under a table.

Flood eventually trained Jake to become one of fewer than 200 U.S. government-certified rescue dogs — an animal on 24-hour call to tackle disasters such as building collapses, earthquakes, hurricanes and avalanches.

After Katrina, Flood and Jake drove from Utah to Mississippi, where they searched for survivors in flooded homes.

‘He was always ready to work’

Good Boy, Jake. Good Boy.

Damn, it's getting a bit misty around here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm pretty sure that Robert Byrd thinks that Mike Vick is Barbaric!


Also, looks like new NFL commish Roger Goodell is all over Mike Vicks shiznit.

"I thought it was appropriate as a next step that what we do is tell Michael that he should not report to camp so that we can continue our review of the situation as quickly as possible, make some determinations about how it fits within the personal conduct policy and then make the next step from there," Goodell said.
Roger Goodell, you kick ass. I totally expected the NFL to punt on this and wait until a plea or verdict occurred. You know, the old Bush "ongoing investigation" line. Not Rog. No flippin' way. Nice job.

On a semi-related note, if you're looking for a dog to adopt (or some other animal, even). I found this link to after exporing a Basset Hound Rescue post at Shakesville. (link seems to be broken right now - site maintenance at shakesville - but click back later for a ridiculously cute picture of an old basset hound). The site is amazing and incredibly comprehensive. I found roughly 40 dogs within 10 miles of my house for adoption. The Fridge Canine Hotel is all booked up right now, but certainly when there is a vacancy, that will be the first place I look.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Et Tu, Bear Grylls?

Seriously... W. T. F. ???

Bear Grylls, you are dead to me. No survivalist should be caught cheating so easily. What complete bullshit!

Sure, you drank the juice from fresh Elephant Dung.
Sure, you drank your own pee. But hey, who hasn't?
Sure, you fell through the ice on a frozen lake on purpose to show how we could survive that.
Sure, you ate a sheep's eyeball boiled in water boiling from an icelandic volcano.

But, dude. Seriously?

According to Weinert, while filming in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains — an episode in which Grylls, 33, is seen biting off the head of a snake for breakfast — Grylls actually spent some nights with the show’s crew in a lodge outfitted with television, stone fireplaces, hot tubs and Internet access.

I feel so dirty. So violated. You broke my heart, Bear. You broke my heart.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mike Vick. Please Go Away.

Seriously, Mike? You were part of killing at least nine dogs? By hanging, electrocution, drowning and "slamming the dog's body to the ground"? There are incredibly gruesome details at that link.

I simply can't imagine how anyone can do what you did (ok, allegedly, whatever). I mean, starting a side business ("Bad Newz Kennels" - FYI, there's no 'z' in 'news') explicitly to raise dogs and train them to try kill each other? What kind of person does that? Dogs, even naturally aggressive breeds like Pit Bulls don't do that naturally. They are like any other animal. They want to eat, sleep, play and procreate. You have to teach them how to want to kill like that. And a person who would do that simply becuase it's "gangsta" is fucking totally morally bankrupt. It's certainly not someone I could ever root for on the football field, as I used to. And frankly, I'd prefer if I never had to see you again. Which is a shame. Vick is an amazing football player and highly entertaining to watch - really a once in a lifetime talent. I forgave him his "Ron Mexico" moment, because hey, all 20-something millionaires sleep around. But this is different. This tells me you are essentially a bad person. Please go away. Leave my favorite sport immediately. Thanks.

Besides, Vince Young is better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sleepy Joe Must Go, pt 2

The picture directly to your left is that of Edwar Ramirez. Study it, because if it's up to Joe Torre, you probably won't see him much soon unless you live in Scranton. He came up and made his Yankee debut on July 3rd, striking out the side in an inning of work. He was electric. Dominant. His changeup was like a nintendo pitch. I was excited, but I immediately thought to myself, "Self, do you think Joe will play him?" (Self just laughed at me). This, however, was clearly an exciting find for the Yankee talent evaluators. Here was a kid who was waived twice by the Angels. Apparently, they prohibited him from throwing his changeup, which appears to be a major-league strikeout quality pitch. Even Rob Neyer, who at best usually has only sarcastic barbs to throw toward the Yankees thinks this is an exciting deal for the Yanks (you'll need ESPN Insider), because the kid has dominated statistically. Rob loves his spreadsheets.

That was last season. This season, Ramirez's numbers in the minors were simply phenomenal. With Double-A Trenton, he struck out 33 batters in 16 innings. With Triple-A Scranton, he struck out 47 batters in 27 innings. Now he's in the majors, and he's struck out four batters in two innings. In his debut he struck out three straight Twins, all with that nasty changeup.

For all the talk about the Yankees' financial advantage, it's worth mentioning that any other team in baseball could have picked up Ramirez. If only they'd let the statistics do their work for them.

Ah.... There's the rub, Rob. (heheh - Rub Rob!) We have Sleepy Joe working the phone to the bullpen. He doesn't need statistics! He manages with his gut! He's just like our stupid croc-wearing commander-in-chief: Intelligence be damned! They know what's right in their gut!

What does Sleepy Joe's gut say? It says, "Kyle Farnsworth is the MAN!"
Asked about mounting speculation that he might lose his eighth-inning role, Farnsworth answered: "Who says that? That's exactly what it is: speculation."

A little while later, Torre acknowledged he would stick with his setup man a while longer.

"Yeah, he's still our eighth-inning guy," Torre said.

Conventional wisdom says that you build the bullpen from the end and go backward***. Your closer, who pitches the ninth, is supposed to be the best pitcher. The 8th, second best, and so on until you get to the 5th or so and then you're really talking about a "long man". So, Joe being all about tradition and conventional wisdom is definitely saying that Kyle Farnsworth is his second best pitcher. In other years, this might be true. It's not anymore and Joe appears to be trying to make it so by force of will. Joe knows that Kyle is his second best pitcher and he'll keep throwing him out there out of loyalty and respect. That is what makes Joe admired by his players. They really feel he cares about them and he really does. But, it's also this loyalty that ruins his bullpen management.

Because while Joe Torre thinks Kyle Farnsworth is the second best pitcher, he's in fact the worst. Statistics bear that out.

Here are the Yankees bullpen members ordered by OPS against:
1)Ron Villone, .610
2)Brian Bruney, .684
3)Luis Vizcaino, .694
4)Mike Myers, .695
5)Scott Proctor, .710
6)Kyle Farnsworth, .777
7)Edwar Ramirez, .829 (2.1 innings)

So, of all the pitchers in the pen, Joe Torre picks the guy who is allowing the best results to the opposition (note, I am giving Edwar a pass here on the 2.1 innings - he had one great outing and one where he gave up a run and let an inherited runner score not enough data). Not only that, but Farnsworth is having by far one of his worst years. Let's look at a very good statistical indicator of the effectiveness of a pitcher - Strikeouts per 9 innings pitch. It's not perfect, but a good indication that a pitcher is pitching at his expected level of performance, luck and random meltdowns aside. Here's Farnsworth's K/9 since settling in as a reliever in 2001.
2001: 11.74
2002: 8.87
2003: 10.85
2004: 10.53
2005: 11.19
2006: 10.23
2007: 5.79

Wait, wuh? 10.23 k/9 in 2006 (first with Yanks) dropped to 5.79 in 2007? WTF? What are these statistics telling me? People who follow pitching know that precipitous drops in K/9 are often very bad signs and can indicate an injury. At the very least it's an indication that there is something wrong with this guy. He's giving up too many hits, walking too many batters and striking out too few hitters. He is not performing to his normal level. Statistically, this indicates something that needs investigation. But, hey, Sleepy Joe's not much for statistics. He's gonna keep throwing Kyle out there until his arm falls off because Kyle is his guy.

Logic would tell you that a pen building backwards based on actual performance would look like this. Let's take Farnsworth out of the equation and far, far out of pinstripes. That leaves this:
CL: Rivera
8TH: Villone/Bruney
7TH: Vizcaino/Proctor

Not bad. But can it possibly be even better?

Now for more K/9:
2006A: 13.79
2007AA: 17.82
2007AAA: 15.86
2007MLB: 15.43

Those numbers are Edwar's. You see, after he was cut for the second time by the Angels, he decided to start throwing his changeup. It's apparently a special pitch because no one's been able to challenge him since then. This is exactly the kind of talent Joe ought to be developing aggressively. It's fairly common for a young reliever to come up and bring a spark to a team. Need examples? Mo Rivera in 1995. K-Rod in 2002. Bobby Jenks and Joel Zumaya in the last two years. Edwar Ramirez could do that for the Yanks when the need it most - RIGHT FUCKING NOW. What sez Joe?

Hard to say, really? What does silence sound like? Edwar Ramirez hasn't pitched since July 6th - Villone, Farnsworth, Vizcaino, and Proctor have pitched a total of 20 innings since then. In the Post article linked above, we get this Sleepy Joe gem.
With a roster move imminent, Torre said he'd like to see righty reliever Edwar Ramirez this week.

Meaning, Joe needs to see him to know whether to cut him. Jesu-Fucking-Cristo. Apparently, Edwar had a lackluster second outing and Joe isn't a fan. This is of course quite ironic because all of Farnsworth's outings are lackluster outings. I'm not saying that Edwar should replace Farnsworth as the 8th inning guy. But certainly we ought to see what we have in the kid, not let him rot on the bench. Going from trying to hit his changeup which drops out of the zone to hitting Mo's cutter and 4 seamer and who operates mostly in the upper half of the strike zone could be especially confounding. And in the meantime, I do think that Farnsworth ought to be banished from the 8th inning - any of the remaining relievers would be an upgrade. Unfortunately, neither of these things will likely happen.

What will happen? Edwar will now have to pitch for his job because of a head count crunch, where he could easily have been used aggressively to see what the Yanks have in his tantalizing talent. He may do well under this pressure, but going from sitting on the bench for two weeks to pitching for your job is not easy. He has the talent, so I expect him to do well. But he could have been given more of a chance to break in. On the other hand, Kyle Farnsworth has a ridiculous amount of job security given his performance. And his drop in strikeout rate scares the crap out of me. I expect him to keep being ugly in the 8th until he blows up one game. Then we'll hear that "he experienced soreness but pitched through it". Then he'll have an MRI. Then he'll go see "Dr. James Andrews" which is always bad. Then a sleepy Joe Torre will sit in his office and ruminate about what a big blow it was to lose Farnsworth for the year and how "he was just beginning to turn it around" because Joe's been "seeing positive signs" and how "he just hasn't been right all year but is a tough sonovagun" and "how could anyone have known this was gonna happen"? Yeah, how could anyone know?

p.s. Dear Yankees, If we can't have Edwar, can we at least have Chris Britton? He would give us one reliever that doesn't walk someone nearly every time out. Thanks.

*** Remind me to post on the logical failing in building a bullpen this way sometime. Thx.

Unreviewable Reviews

The following are quick reviews of things that are damn difficult to review, mainly because you likely already have an opinion about them and I may be too excited about them to .

1) Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix - Good god, this movie kicked ass if you are a Potter geek. Probably the best performances by the cast in any of the films. The Portrayal of Dolores Umbridge was fantastic and the final scene at the Ministry of Magic was great. An obvious must-see for Potter fans, I can imagine anyone who doesn't recognize the characters off the bat would be completely lost. They trimmed a big fat book to the shortest running time of the series by trimming exposition and a lot of the bits that aren't central to the plot. Most notably the thread with Snape and Harry learning that his dead parents are real people with palpable faults. I remember reading this and thinking how Harry is really becoming a disillusioned youth. This is mostly left out of the movie.

2) Shut Up And Sing - This is a DVD, I picked up for my wife, who is a country music fan. Of all the country crapola I've been subjected to, only the dixie chicks has made it through the Fridge-Suck-Filter. I kinda liked them for a while. When they pissed off Red America, I really loved them. Then they came out with a completely unrepentant fuck-you album and I was hooked. I now consider myself a Dixie Chick fan. So, I finally got around to watching this movie, which is a documentary that begins with the Chick's lead singer in 2003 saying that they are ashamed that the president is from Texas. It follows them for the next 2-3 years as their careers hit a wall of whacko country radio political orthodoxy. They tank, record a new album, have babies and return to a legitimately smaller fanbase. It was a very interesting documentary, depicting the Chicks keep on keepin' on as they try to continue to do what they love to do without saying sorry. There were also a few interesting, "Wait, what?" moments. Moment #1) They hired a studio drummer to play for them on the new record. Looks just like the dude from the Chili Peppers. Turns out it IS that dude Chad from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Moment #2) The album is produced in part by Rick Rubin. Yes, that Rick Rubin of Beasties, Run DMC, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, U2, Public Enemy. No wonder I really like this country album. Moment #3) Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks is married to Adrian Pasdar. He is better known today as Nathan Petrelli on Heroes. In fact, at one point, she's going on stage at a show, he gives her a kiss, says goodbye and I kinda expected him to fly off. That was weird. Disclaimer: I'm strangely obsessed with Natalie Maines. Not sure why.

All in all, decent movie and the highlight is definitely the end, where they go back to the same venue where the whole brouhaha began and instead of apologizing, they say the same damn thing. Kick ass. Good album, too.

3) Crowded House "Time On Earth" - I can't be even-keeled about Crowded House. I just can't. For the firs time since 1993, they have a new album out and if you like their others, you will like this one. It's more of the same exceptional song-writing from Neil Finn. This dude can write some gorgeous melancholy songs. Fantastic. I am seeing them in Northampton, MA on August 4th. See, they're from New Zealand and they basically haven't toured since their drummer Paul Hester committed suicide. Aside from being in Crowded House, Moms and Dads of little kids will recognize Paul as the cook from the "Hot Potato, Hot Potato" Wiggles video. Anyway, I never had the chance to see these guys before and I'm glad they're touring again. Every one of their albums has spent 4-6 months in heavy rotation after getting it and each holds up well over time.

There ya go. Three reviews, three things I loved but couldn't quite certify as empirically good.

Andrew Bogut Thinks America Sucks

Of course, why would I care what a soft 7 foot Aussie thinks?

I don't. I like my NBA ballers like Z-BO, Eddy Curry, David Lee and the paragon of all things Knickerbocker, Charles Oakley. I don't have time for whiny, wussy, furriners.

But, America needs someone to have it's back and luckily Etan Thomas is the man for the gig. I mostly remember Etan Thomas from being a raw monster at Syracuse in the Pre-'Melo era. You don't think of NBA players as being smart and thoughtful, but Thomas sure is. Read his smackdown of suck-ass Andrew Bogut and enjoy.

P.S. Click here to see my boy Eddy Curry block the crap out of a soft Bogut shot attempt.

Monday, July 16, 2007

See what I mean? You'll look like this tool.

Don't do it.

Public Service Announcement

If you are a man, do not put these on your feet.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I wanna be President! Of Red Sox Nation

Because it's the most pathetically lame fan participation idea ever. After listening to ESPN, reportedly the deal is that you have to spend $14.95 to join "Red Sox Nation". Then you're entered in the lottery to be the President of Red Sox Nation.

I'm in. Only because they apparently will have a "President's Day" type event where you get to go to Fenway and be king of the dorks for a day. I am all over that. Fifteen bucks for a lottery ticket where the prize is that I get to go to Fenway wearing my Don Mattingly Jersey (Of course, given the status of the season, perhaps a Bucky Dent jersey?) and ruin Red Sox Nation day? They had me at hello...

This stuff makes me want to vomit.

Following on the heels of Toast's patriotic support for taxes paid by individuals comes the most nauseating business article I've read in years (you will need to login at to read it). Written by David Cay Johnston at the New York Times, it discusses the crafty use of "Tax Loopholes" by Blackstone to do what's described in the article as the following:

“These guys have figured out how to turn paying taxes into an annuity
Not familiar with an annuity? What it basically means is, these guys pay taxes, then get that back that money in parts annually with a return on that investment. They figured out a way to IPO, pay some taxes, then deduct some value such that the deductions save them future taxes save them more than the taxes they've paid.

Fucking Bastards.

Lee Sheppard, a tax lawyer who critiques deals for Tax Notes magazine and has studied the Blackstone arrangement, said it was a reminder of the disconnect between the tax debate in Congress and how the tax system actually operates at the highest levels of the economy.

“These guys have figured out how to turn paying taxes into an annuity,” Ms. Sheppard said. “What people don’t realize is that the private equity managers, the investment bankers, all the financial intermediaries, are in control of their own taxation and so the debate in Washington about what tax rate to pay misses the big picture.”

Exactly. These douchebags are just like the first guys that realized, "Hey, you know, we open an office in Aruba, call it the headquarters and all of a sudden, those profits are actually made overseas! Whoo Hoo!".

So for the poor schlubs like me who were scratching their heads at this point in the article because they've never seen the "turn taxes into annuity" button on TurboTax, here's the play-by-play by the outstanding Johnston.

Blackstone’s tax maneuver hinges on its use of good will, an accounting term for the value of the intangible assets, like a well-known brand name, that are built up by a company over time. That value is part of the reason a company is worth more than the sum of its physical parts, like buildings and equipment.

Individuals who create good will cannot deduct it. But when good will is sold the new owners can because its value is assumed to erode. The Blackstone partners sold the good will from their left pocket to their right.

In simplest terms, the Blackstone partners paid a 15 percent capital gains rate on the shares they sold last month in the initial stock offering to outside investors (those shares represented a stake in the Blackstone management company, not its funds).

Blackstone then arranged to get deductions for itself for the $3.7 billion worth of good will at a 35 percent rate. This is a twist on the “buy low, sell high” stock market adage; in this case it would be “tax low, deduct high.”

Goddamn. So, while my boy Toast is doing his best to rightly make people realize that paying taxes is a patriotic act, some fucking white collar bastard tax attorney is making 700 bucks an hour trying to figure out how to make a bunch of billionaires kajagoogoo-illionaires.

It's to this $700 per hour, Mercedes CL 600 driving, republican voting bastard that I'd like to now speak.

Dear sir or madam, you are a financial terrorist. You are a traitor to your country. The first dollar you saved that billionaire came right from Walter Reed, where it could have used to help a true patriot. The next came from a family who's breadwinner had to leave his job so that his family's income could drop far enough that they'd qualify for Medicaid and finally be able to treat their daughter's chronic illness. The next one would have helped pay for a copy of "My Pet Goat" for an inner city kid who was trying to learn to read and couldn't swing a presidential reading. But hey, maybe he'll be good at basketball or be a rapper.

Get the picture? You are the problem. Sure the system is there to be abused. But that's like saying, "Hey, there was no alarm system. Why shouldn't I have stolen that pack of gum?" Because it's wrong, that's why. You're smart. You're good with numbers. You know that every dollar you save your billionaire client either is later taken from a citizen who needs it or is borrowed from a foreign government to finance loopholes like this one. You know this. And still, you get up in the morning drive to work and try to thwart your governments efforts to fund it's activities. It's wrong. Go work at McDonalds and get a real job. You're a parasite. Like one of those little sucking shitball fish attached to the bottom of a shark.

Why don't I blame the billionaires themselves? Because, it's like blaming a shark for being a shark or Tony Montana for sticking his head in a mountain of coke. They are what they are. A few of them, (Gates and Buffett come to mind immediately) realize how unique they are and how ideally suited they are to make an enormous difference in the world. The rest? They just want to wake up each morning with more money than when they went to sleep. But those tax attorneys know better. And our society deserves better. So, while I'd love to give these tax attorneys a columbian necktie just like Tony Montana would, I won't. But since I'm being the bigger person here, can't we please close this loophole? And while we're at it, the one that encourages small business owners to buy Hummers? Thx in advance.

Sidebar: Reading this article reminded me about how truly great David Cay Johnston is at writing about this somewhat dry subject of tax policy. And I was reminded how I never picked up his book "Perfectly Legal:The Secret Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else" I always meant to pick it up because Johnston did such a good job covering the Bush-DeLay tax cuts of th 2001-2004. I remedied that. Looking forward to reading it.

I am aiming high

Starting today, I aspire to reach a state of "indifference". This will require a great deal of work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I just had a terrifying thought

I was reading this post at Crooks and Liars. Once again a journalist that is actually in Iraq and has a real idea of what's going on is popping Sen. Joe Lieberman's neocon fantasy bubble.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: The war is not lost in Iraq. In fact, now American Iraqi security forces are winning. The enemy is on the run in Iraq. But, here in — in Congress, in Washington, we seem to be, or some — some members seem to be on the run, chased, I fear, by public opinion polls.

COOPER: Is the enemy on the run in Iraq, Michael?

WARE: No, certainly not. And I think we need to be aware that it’s enemies. I mean, America doesn’t face just one opponent in this country, but a whole multitude, many of whom are becoming stronger, the longer the U.S. occupation here, or presence here, in Iraq continues. So, unfortunately, I’m afraid that Senator Lieberman has taken an excursion into fantasy.

I noted the "D" that the CNN transcript surreptitiously snuck next to Joe's name and thought to myself, "Joe Fucking Lieberman is no Democrat". Then, it occurred to me that he obviously once was a Democrat and was even the Democratic nominee for Vice President.

Then it hit me. Joe Fucking Lieberman. This Joe. Crazy neo-con Zealot Joe could be the Vice President of the United States right now. Even worse, he could be the next president. AGH!

Let's play this thought experiment out to its conclusion. Let's say we evaded the whole "Sore Loserman" escapade of a Supreme Court appointed president Bush. Gore would have been the president. Let's imagine that even if he did maintain the Clinton Era focus on Terrorism 9/11 would not have been avoided. I imagine that just like the country did around Bush, they'd rally around Gore (I suspect that many republicans would find it far more acceptable to criticize leadership in this scenario, however). The War in Afghanistan would probably have been prosecuted in the same manner. The War in Iraq would not have happened at all. Global Terror War would be fought and Gore would work to build alliances with other nations rather than go it alone. He'd have the same immediately high approval ratings as Bush and would win a second term. Without the failed escapade in Iraq to bog him down along with illegal wiretapping, gitmo and ludicrous domestic policies like gutting Social Security and immigration going over like lead balloons, there'd be little to wear away at the Gore Administrations approval but tedium over one party presidential rule.

The logical successor? Loyal Joe Lieberman.

So let's continue the thought experiment even further. What if Joe had won the election as President? Let's imagine that in the second Gore term North Korea and Iran were both making noise about nukes. What would President Joe do about that? We would be back in the same fucking boat. A neo-con president with a ton of goodwill to burn and who relishes fighting wars over seas. Right where we are now. Except that the one thing we have going for us is that the game clock is running out on the lame-duck Bush presidency, where Lying Joe Lieberman's would be just beginning. I don't think I could have lived through that.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

You can lead a child to their bedroom

but you cannot make them nap. That is all.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Quick Hits

- I touched an iPhone. And now I am cooler than you are. 20 words or less review. Excellent iPod. Surprisingly good phone. Good browser. Suck-ass keyboard. Don't want one.

- My son loves "Batman". Not the Christian Bale scary bat man. Not the be-nippled George Clooney. Nor does he like the non-descript Val Kilmer Batman or the be-hair-plugged Michael Keaton. Nay, people. He loves him some Adam West Batman! . Now that I've seen this movie a hundred times I need to say the following. 1) Lee Merriweather was one hot catwoman. 2) Frank Gorshin was sporting an impressive package in that riddler suit. 3) I was stumped when my Daughter asked me "Where are Robin's pants?" Good Question.

- Jericho starts back up on CBS tonight at 9PM. I missed the original, but the DVR is set now. I've heard good things from friends.

- Coming back to golf has been overwhelming in terms of golf technology. First, they got rid of the metal spikes on the shoes in favor of these funny looking plastic spider thingies and then there's these hybrid club doo-dads, square drivers and drivers with movable weight inserts. Woah. Luckily, my game is not at the point where technology is the issue yet. I'll have time to catch up while I continue to shake off the rust.

- Here is a cool clip from the movie "Starship Troopers". I never read the Heinlein book, and wrote the movie off as utter crap from the trailers. But, it was surprisingly good.

It also struck me as the closest thing to a movie version of my all-time favorite PC game, StarCraft. Here is the trailer for StarCraft 2. We'll be lucky to see it come out in 2008. It's production company is incredibly careful and deliberate and concerned with quality. It will likely be an instant classic. This trailer is cooler than any movie trailer I've seen in a long time. Click here if you're an uber geek and want to see the gameplay.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rule Of Law is even more passe than MySpace

It went out faster than the macarena and mambo #5. There was a time when it was of paramount importance.

It's important. It's critical. It defines our country for most of the countries throughout history, and anything that erodes, that taints, that corrodes, that diminishes the rule of law is something we ought to be mindful of and be very careful about. I don't want that torn down or diminished or turned into a peace of plastic that could be molded. I really believe that notion that no man is above the law. That's naïve of me, I suppose. There are some people who are above the law. But they shouldn't be. They shouldn't be. We should have a government of laws, not of men.

- REP. HENRY HYDE (R), Chairman, Judiciary Committee

That time of importance was 1998 when the country was reeling from prosperity, a violent war in Kosovo and fellatio.

Now? Not so much.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Movie Review - Live Free Or Die Hard

Yippie-Ki-Yay, bitchez!

Truth In Blogging Disclaimer: I love Die Hard. No, really. I so completely love the movie Die Hard. When it came out in 1988 and I thought it was the greatest movie ever made. I have since softened on this stance, but to this very day it holds up pretty well. It's really a modern American classic and, in my opinion, the pinnacle of 80's action movies. It spawned millions of dollars worth of big money Hollywood copycats. Pitch meetings in LA were built around a one sentence Mad Lib. "It's like Die Hard, but _________ (preposition) a ______ (noun) starring ________(actor)". "On" + "Bus" + "Keanu Reeves" = "Speed". "In" + "Airplane" + "Wesley Snipes" = "Passenger 57". "On" + "Mountain" + "Sly Stallone" = "Cliffhanger". "With" + "Beer gut and ponytail" + "Steven Seagal" = "Under Siege". Etc., etc., etc. Predictably, none of these matched the original but the truth of the matter is clear. Die Hard was as groundbreaking as any enormous blockbuster popcorn movie can be. This love and devotion may very well pollute my analysis of the movie. I may either be harder on the latest or I may be more forgiving. So, take what I write next in the light of a Die Hard fan. (End disclaimer).

As this movie is a Die Hard film, it needs to be measured with respect to the original. So, I will identify the basic qualities that made the original great and measure Live Free by that standard. Additionally, I will rank each of the 4 movies by their relative achievement in each facet.

Standard #1: John McClane Character
The First One and This Movie: John McClane still kicks ass, even as the actor who plays him ages. Now 52, Bruce Willis still looks like his bad-ass self and can still beat some bad guys up believably. He can throw a punch and a one-liner back to back. What always separated John McClane's character from other action heroes of the 80's and 90's was Willis' convincing portrayal of a world-weary NYC cop. This character wasn't a cartoon like Stallone's Rambo, Arnold's, well, um, everything or Van Damme's mullet. This guy looked like a regular dude and was portrayed like a regular dude - Well, a regular dude who is really unlucky and kicks a lot of ass. And, in the apparent new standard for electing presidents, he has high 'drink beer with him'-ability. He's hard to dislike. In Live Free, John McClane's character isn't exactly deepened in a meaningful way. I thought this was best done in the original, as they made time to cover his relationship with his wife, which was convincingly dysfunctional. There is a bit of interesting father-son-ish interplay between McClane and Justin Long's hacker character, Matt Farrell (You'll know Long is the "I'm a Mac" guy). But it has little depth. Unlike most action heroes, he celebrates when he whacks a bad guy the way we do watching him. He's not some steely eyed robot of determination, he's a person.

My rank in Standard #1:
1) Die Hard - the best in this regard, IMO.
2) Die Hard 3:Die Hard with a Vengeance - I loved the early, alchoholic McClane
3) Live Free Or Die Hard - Spends more time on action
4) Die Hard 2:Die Harder - Crappity crap.

Standard #2: Ass Kicking
The First One and This Movie:
Ass-Kicking is where this movie truly shines. It easily has the MOST action of any of the die-hard films. Like all sequels, it has to raise the bar. This being the third such sequel, the bar is raised to a near preposterous level. Your opinion of this will hinge on whether you feel it crossed the line into "preposterous". I thought it tap-danced on that line, and toed over it with the scene with the fighter jet (I hate spoiling action sequences, so I won't elaborate).

Again, the first movie had this completely right. This was a low-tech battle, pitting a doggedly determined hero against a group of thieves armed with a 9mm and without shoes. There was an intimacy to the conflict. Live Free is more classic big-action popcorn movie. The villians are mostly nameless and faceless, even to the extent that most of them are uniformed in all-black Swat style gear. But, it's an excellent big summer movie and the stunts and action are fantastic.

My rank in Standard #2:
1) Die Hard - Again, a classic.
2) Live Free Or Die Hard - BIG Stunts! BIG, I tell ya!
3) Die Hard 3:Die Hard with a Vengeance - Big points for the excellent scene in the elevator at the Gold Repository. Loses points for surfing on a dump truck.
4) Die Hard 2:Die Harder - Mostly just ok.

Standard #3: The Villain
The First One and This Movie:
There is one vastly underrated player in the original Die Hard. Alan Rickman. His Hans Gruber is one of the greatest screen villains of all time. He steals every scene he's in. You hate the guy AND you love the guy. He's the yin to McClane's yang. His portrayal created a stereotype villain that was repeated dozens of times. The most hilarious of these was when John Lithgow mysteriously speaking with an accent in Cliffhanger. He was so good, he was typecast in that role, reprising the evil guy again in Quigley Down Under and the pathetic Costner vehicle, Robin Hood. He was ultimately underused until he was cast as Severus Snape in the seemingly ever up-and-coming Harry Potter films. But Die Hard will likely be the signature role of his career and he was amazing.

That's a lot to live up to. Timothy Olyphant tries his hand in this movie as Thomas Gabriel, evil cyber-Terrorist. I just recently started watching the re-play of Deadwood on HBO, and really like Olyphant and he brings the same sense of intensity he does to Seth Bullock. He's very good and he has one money scene where he truly shuts up John McClane. Unfortunately, the role of cyber-terrorist is a lame one. This may be true for me because I know too much about computers to think that Seth Bullock is a cyber-terrorism expert, has a smokin' hot girlfirend and can handle a gun and kick ass. The role didn't quite work, but it wasn't because Olyphant fumbled it. He's legitimately good.

My rank in Standard #3:
1) Die Hard - Best. Villain. Evah!
2) Live Free Or Die Hard - Not bad, Bullock.
3) Die Hard 3:Die Hard with a Vengeance - Jeremy Irons sucked.
4) Die Hard 2:Die Harder - Negative points for both William Sadler's gratuitous man-ass shot when he's doing Tai Chi and for making James from Good Times into a traitor. I loved Good Times.

Standard #4: One-liners
The First One and This Movie: has already declared 'Yippie-Kai-Yay, mothafucka!" as the greatest one-liner in history. Who am I to argue. But the first movie had lots more memorable quotes. In fact, I'd wager that if you got ten random dudes at a bar, bought a couple of pitchers and got them talking Die Hard, you'd end up hearing 80% of it's IMDB quotes page recited back to you.

This movie isn't quite as good as that. In fact, no action movie is quite like that. But, it tries and often succeeds. It does so mostly because of the easy comic sensibilities of Willis, Long, Olyphant and an excellent minor role for director Kevin Smith of Clerks fame.

My rank in Standard #4:
1) Die Hard - "Yippie-Ki-Yay, motherfucka!"
2) Die Hard 2:Die Harder - (to a pre-NYPD Blue Dennis Franz)"Hey, Carmine, let me ask you something. What sets off the metal detectors first? The lead in your ass or the shit in your brains? "
3) Live Free Or Die Hard - "What are you a Goddamn Hamster?"
4) Die Hard 3:Die Hard with a Vengeance - None.

1) Die Hard
2) Live Free Or Die Hard
3) Die Hard with a Vengeance
4) Die Hard 2:Die Harder

There you have it, this movie is the best sequel and the second best overall. They all pale in comparison to the first film (which is a perfect 5 coucher). This one is a very solid movie that stands well on it's own. PLEASE NOTE: If you read the disclaimer above and also this review, you'll see that I really am a Die Hard fan. You may want to drop the rating if you don't feel the same way about the original. Also, you are wrong about the original. It's fucking great.

Rating: 4 out of 5 possible couches.