Monday, April 30, 2007

A brief rant

So, I have about a 20-minute window in the morning between shower goodness and an exciting 15-minute commute on the most dangerous road in America. I like to take that time to eat a decent breakfast, drink coffee, and, perhaps most importantly, watch SportsCenter. Particularly during baseball season.

Because, as we all are hopefully aware, it is baseball season. The national pastime. The thinking man's sport. The sport that has carried our nation through many trying times. Baseball, the sport that marks the times.

This morning, I watched highlights from basketball and Nascar. I repeat: basketball and Nascar.

Now don't get me half wrong: as I've done in the past, I'm willing to make allowances for basketball. I understand it's their playoffs, I usually anticipate spending the first two months of baseball season watching sprinkles of hoops highlights, even though the main pre-requisite for the sport appears to be an unusual pituitary gland.

But Nascar? Nascar? Please, ESPN, don't taunt me. Don't say that Red Sox-Yankees highlights are on their way, and then show repeated images of Jeff Gordon's car getting pelted with beer cans. Oh, and a single roll of toilet paper. Can't forget that. What's Jeff Gordon's opinion on that roll of toilet paper? Please, inquiring minds want to know.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't everyone who watches Nascar, um, watch Nascar? Live. While it's airing? As in, they plan their day around it? I know most of my relatives do. So why, oh why, is it more important to show them highlights of the race they've already seen than to show us baseball fans the highlights for out-of-market games we haven't seen?

Okay. I'm done. Sorry about that. Thanks for letting me rant.

Song lyric of the day:
"And you know there's something else
But you can't give a name
Someone's selling all your heroes
And it seems such a shame"
- Luna, Lost in Space

Friday, April 27, 2007

Moral dilemma

Okay, so I'm experiencing something of a moral dilemma, and I figure I'll open this one up to my readership. So here goes...

Imagine you're a 25-year-old music fan with disposable income and friends in the Washington/Baltimore area. Now imagine that within the past 24 hours you have been contacted by no less than two of said friends inviting you to three days worth of musical goodness in said area that will require significant expenditure of said income.

The options are as follows:

  • July 14 - the Decemberists, with the Baltimore Symphony
  • August 4 - Modest Mouse, TV on the Radio, Incubus, Fountains of Wayne, Beastie Boys, the Police
  • August 5 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Chris Cornell, Spoon, Interpol, 311, Velvet Revolver, Smashing Pumpkins

Additional facts to consider are: you have seen Modest Mouse and Interpol live, but not since their newest albums (Interpol's drops July 10), and you have also seen Chris Cornell live twice in Audioslave form (but he will supposedly be playing Soundgarden material); your low opinion of the Beastie Boys is well-documented, but you hear they put on a good live show, and your inviter is a fan; and, in theory, only one of the August dates will be possible.

So pop quiz, hot shot: what do you do? What do you do?

Song lyric of the day:
"The plan keeps coming up again
But the plan won't accomplish anything
If it's not implemented"
- Built to Spill, The Plan

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Things that make me happy

Since I haven't posted in a while, I wanted to rattle off a nice, upbeat post about things that make me happy (especially after last week's far more downbeat post, the likes of which I hope never to have to write again). In no particular order:

  • The current Major League standings as we conclude month #1, particularly the positions of the Orioles and the Yankees in the American League East and the way the Braves have been playing so far. Hell, if you just turned the NL Central upside down, you could almost call it a perfect year so far.

  • New addition to the blogosphere Brad Ploeger (actually his fifth or so attempt).

  • Jeff's comment on a recent Ploeger post, which I intend to interpret in the wrongest way possible and never let him live down.

  • Puppies.

  • The upcoming "Margaritas of God" weekend, featuring performances by the National and Arcade Fire, and special guest appearance by Bob Sacamano. (No one outside myself and Bill Gates what the hell I'm talking about here.)

  • Forrest Gump (both the movie and the softball team). Also, relatedly, beating a priest in beer pong in the backyard of his church. (Hey, he beat me earlier in the night, I deserved retribution.)

Surely, there are plenty more, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Song lyric of the day:
"Was there anything I missed
As far as you know?"
- the New Pornographers, All For Swinging You Around

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No words...

Most days, when you wake up, you don't think you're going to be spending a few hours later that day making sure several of your friends and acquaintances are still alive.

But some days, shit happens.

Yes, I do know people who were on Virginia Tech's campus when the shootings occurred. Yes, I have an acquaintance, a guy I don't really know outside of drinking with him a few times, who has classes in Norris Hall on Tuesdays, who may well be dead had the gunman chosen to wait a day. Yes, one of my best friends (whose sister I learned was okay) told me of a friend who was in a classroom, huddled on the floor in a classroom, as a gun magazine was emptied through the glass in the door. Yes, I have a friend from high school in the Engineering graduate program, who I have not heard from but do know is okay.

No, it doesn't make sense.

There's no lesson to be taken here. Nothing about gun control, though guns were involved in the deaths, and I'm sure some left-wing nutjobs will pick up on that. Nothing about immigration, though the gunman was a resident alien, and I'm sure some right-wing nutjobs will pick up on that. No lesson other than another reminder of how complicated the machinery of life truly is.

I whisper, "Busy, busy, busy," but really, there are no words.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Free speech triumphs again

Anyone trying to couch the Don Imus firing as a threat to free speech (such as this guy that Jeff links to) needs to realize that, in fact, it represents the ultimate triumph of free speech.

I really couldn't give a lick about Don Imus or his radio show, but this whole debacle fascinates me just because it proves how well the system works and how wonderful the First Amendment truly is.

Follow the progression with me, if you will (I may be missing steps, since I honestly haven't followed it that closely):

  1. Don Imus, a host on a radio program owned by a private company, exercises his right to free speech and says something stupid. The federal, state, and local governments do nothing.
  2. CBS exercises its right to free speech by suspending Imus while considering harsher courses of action. The federal, state, and local governments do nothing.
  3. Al Sharpton and many others exercise their rights to free speech by calling for Imus to be fired. Others exercise their right to free speech by saying the suspension is enough. The federal, state, and local governments do nothing.
  4. The Rutgers women's basketball team exercises their right to free speech and speaks openly about their opinion on Imus's words. The federal, state, and local governments do nothing.
  5. Imus continues to exercise his right to free speech by offering an apology. The federal, state, and local governments do nothing.
  6. Ultimately, CBS decides the thing to do is express their right as an independent corporation and terminate Imus and end his radio program. The federal, state, and local governments do nothing.
  7. Imus continues to have the right to express himself freely and openly, only he will no longer be paid to do it. And the federal, state, and local governments will do nothing.

Whether CBS made the right decision or not is up for debate. And it may debated, freely, because the whole time we keep talking, guess what? The federal, state, and local governments will do nothing to stop us. They can't.

Free speech 1, state-sponsored censorship 0. Game over.

(Inspired by a rant suffered by Aaron last night and a brief chat with Ploeger this morning. Post was written hastily and may be incoherent. Not a source of the Recommended Daily Amount of riboflavin.)

Song lyric of the day:
"Heads down, thumbs up
Two sips from the cup of human kindness
And I'm shit-faced, just laid to waste
If you've got will and a little time
Use it tonight"
- the New Pornographers, Use It

Thursday, April 12, 2007

R.I.P. Philboyd Studge

As someone who has occasionally referred to himself as a Bokononist, tongue firmly planted in cheek and entirely unsure whether or not it belonged there, I would be remiss if I did not devote at least a small amount of this blog space to acknowledge the passing of Kurt Vonnegut.

One of the ironies about Vonnegut's passing is how difficult it is to truly mourn him, as it was he who taught us (through our galactic friends the Tralfamadorians) that all moments are always happening, so anyone who is dead is alive and happy at some other moment. So we simply say, "So it goes." Some of us may also whisper, "Busy, busy, busy."

There's a striking passage in Cat's Cradle. The narrator has been trying to understand Bokononism, and he finally asks, "What is sacred to Bokononists?" The response he receives is simple and direct: "Man. That's all. Just man."

Why is that the funniest writers always also seem to be the most poignant?

And then there's this passage, from Breakfast of Champions: "What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

"And all music is."

If you want, you can stick to books written by saints. Personally, I will always prefer books written by pillars of salt.

Song lyric of the day:
"Hey Secret Agent X-9
Why don't you drop me a line?"
- Modest Mouse, Secret Agent X-9

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Better late than never

This just in: Iran is (sort of) coming to their senses.

Yes, the 15 British prisoners-of-not-really-war-but-something-not-quite-peace are being released. In complete honesty, I harbor some doubts as to whether or not they were in Iranian waters when captured. Which doesn't change in the slightest my opinion on Iran's actions, which seem to be of the "capture first and fuck asking questions" variety.

Either way, it looks like this phase of what is likely to be an exceedingly long sparring session with Iran is soon to be over.

Also, my favorite comment about this situation so far, from Jon Stewart: "We may not be that great at nation building, but we're really good at nation unbuilding."

Song lyric of the day:
"And if the old guard still offend
They got nothing left on which you depend
So enlist every ounce of your bright blood
And off with their heads"
- the Shins, Sleeping Lessons

Monday, April 02, 2007

A man who needs no introduction...

Ladies and gentlemen, the illustrious Mr. Dan Ortiz, a.k.a. loud Dan, a.k.a. enthusiastic Dan, lead guitarist of Unexpectedly Sober, wannabe Latin lover, inexplicable playa extraordinaire, has started a blog. I know I said he needed no introduction, but that's merely my interpretation of his first post, in which he essentially launches himself into the blogosphere as if he has been one of its regular visitors.

Anyway, stay tuned to see whether he becomes a semi-regular blogger, or whether he vanishes into obscurity after merely a few posts like certain individuals we know.

Song lyric of the day:
"You got it wrong
So I brought you plenty thoughts
Words were at a loss
It's a good day to skip because
The party is gonna call"
- Band of Horses, Weed Party