Friday, August 29, 2008

Well, that certainly makes things interesting

This just in: John McCain is choosing Sarah Palin, Alaskan governor, as his running mate.

This is actually quite a brilliant political move. It shatters some independents' preconceived notions of the national Republican party; it makes a blatant (but not necessarily insincere) play for the Hillary supporters feeling disenchanted by perceived sexism during the Democratic primaries; it undermines somewhat Obama's message of change (certainly having a woman a heartbeat from the presidency is different from the norm); and it certainly undercuts much of the bounce the Dems were expecting from the convention.

Well played, McCain.

"It ain't awful hard to tell
What it's like in my little hell
Yeah she knows, she knows, she knows"
- Gin Blossoms, Not Only Numb

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Best "well duh" headline in a long time


"Obama expected to address change in speech"

Oh really? The man whose slogan is "Change we can believe in" is going to talk about change? Thanks for the heads up.

And real quick, I'm intrigued by the ad that John McCain supposedly intends to run tonight, congratulating Obama on his nomination. The cynic in me immediately starting analyzing the political motivations behind this, before the very small remaining part of me told the cynic to shut up and respect the fact that, however briefly, McCain is returning to his promise of a relatively clean campaign.

Also, both candidates will sharply increase the federal debt. Just in case you didn't already know that. :(

In spite of that, remember, McCain is OK. (Hat tip: Banecker.) (Supposedly there's an Obama equivalent, but amazingly, I don't feel particularly inclined to seek it out.)

"You want me to to bring you to something new
This smile is all I have to offer you"
- Girls in Hawaii, Short Song for a Short Mind

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

NFL Predictions 2008

Since Other White Meat posted his NFL predictions, and requested me to do the same, here goes. I hate doing this with so many unknowns before the season even starts, as it opens me up to the possibility of being relentlessly mocked for being gloriously wrong, but here goes nothing:

Division standings

AFC East: 1. Patriots 2. Buffalo 3. Dolphins 4. Jets

I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm betting the Jets will tank under Favre (not necessarily due to his own fault). Otherwise, this division is a pretty easy one to nail down.

AFC South: 1. Colts 2. Jaguars 3. Titans 4. Texans

If the Colts don't win this division, I'll eat my hat. Titans won't overtake the Jags because Vince Young still throws twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. Texans are still the Texans.

AFC North: 1. Steelers 2. Browns 3. Bengals 4. Ravens

The gluttons for trouble known as the Bengals only get saved by the fact that the Ravens' quarterback controversy is between Kyle Boller and Troy Smith (when the correct answer is obvious: get a new quarterback). Browns showed some promise last year but won't overtake the Steelers.

AFC West: 1. Chargers 2. Broncos 3. Raiders 4. Chiefs

There are two battles in this division: Broncos vs. Chargers for first, and Raiders vs. Chiefs for last. Chiefs should defeat the Raiders handily in the latter contest, and I think the Chargers will edge out the Broncs, but it'll be close.

NFC East: 1. Cowboys 2. Eagles 3. Redskins 4. Giants

I have to begrudgingly admit the Cucking Fowboys are probably the best team in the NFC. Eagles have the talent, and this may actually be their year to make something of it. I would have had the 'Skins at #2 prior to Saturday's shitstorm against Carolina, but now I'm worried about Taylor's injury affecting the D and how long it will take the offense to grow into Zorn's system. I really think the Giants are going to feel the losses of Shockey and especially Strahan and have one of the worst seasons for a reigning Super Bowl champ in recent memory.

NFC South: 1. Saints 2. Panthers 3. Buccaneers 4. Falcons

Saints should take this one easily provided they don't underperform like last year (the addition of Shockey alone should give Brees another solid target). I'm giving the Panthers a shot at second because they've got some serious speed - could go either way with Tampa Bay though. The Falcons are still in intensive care from the Vick fiasco.

NFC North: 1. Packers 2. Vikings 3. Bears 4. Lions

The Packers have a lot of talent, and I think that will help buy Aaron Rodgers some time to come into his own at QB. The Vikings are weak at Q, but the rest of their team is just sick. Orton should step up just enough to inch the Bears ahead of Detroit in last.

NFC West: 1. Seahawks 2. 49ers 3. Cardinals 4. Rams

Hard to imagine anyone other than the Seahawks taking this one. I'm taking a wild guess that O'Sullivan will vindicate the Niners choosing him for starting Q; the Cards can't settle on Leinart or Warner, which hurts team stability. The Rams nailed down Jackson, but I'm not sure he'll be good enough to pull them out of the cellar.

AFC Wild Card: Broncos and Browns

NFC Wild Card: Panthers and Vikings

Super Bowl: Patriots over Saints

Let the counterarguments begin!

"I'm tired of aching, summer's what you make it
But I'll believe what I want to believe"
- Yo La Tengo, Stockholm Syndrome

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A momentous occasion

In the "things that happen about as often as cicadas emerge" department, he who calls himself "Other White Meat" (and several variations) has actually updated his blog. I for one was amazed the damn thing still exists. Oh, and don't listen to him at the end: he's not sorry at all. No word on when updates are coming from Ploeger or Ortiz.

In unrelated news, I'm currently listening to Joe Cocker's version of the Band's The Weight. It's excellent, but it does beg the question: does Joe Cocker actually have any songs of his own?

On that same subject, if I were to augment Crash Davis's fantastic "I believe" speech from Bull Durham, I would add, "I believe that her name is, in fact, Annie, and not Fanny as most lyrics sites would have it."

And that's all I have to say about that.

"How does preparation for the week require the entire weekend?
The next time you say to me,
'This week's just a day too long'
Well, your days are getting shorter"
- Karate, Pines

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The movie that predicted the 90s

In an effort to fill in the one gaping hole in my Cameron Crowe fandom, I just got done watching Singles, and I loved it for a number of reasons. The one I want to talk about is probably what it's most famous for: its unintended foresight regarding the world of music that was just about to take the world by storm.

Example numero uno: in the first ten minutes, the two main characters meet at a club in Seattle. The song they were dancing to sounded vaguely familiar. Then the camera panned up to the lead singer of the band they were listening to, and I recognized a very young Layne Staley standing next to a just-as-young Jerry Cantrell. That's right, the band was Alice in Chains, then unknown outside of the northwest.

A little later, we meet Matt Dillon as the talentless lead singer of a hopeful band. He is backed by a lead guitarist named Stone, a bass player named Jeff, and drummer named Eddie - or, as they were just beginning to be known on the national stage at the time of release, Pearl Jam.

Later on, P.J. songs Breath and State of Love and Trust make soundtrack appearances, along with a song called Drown I didn't recognize, but I knew who sang it as soon as the extremely recognizable voice of William Corgan drifted up above the guitars. I also recognized a ten-second demo-sounding snippet of Spoonman, which wouldn't even appear on a Soundgarden album for two years after the movie's release. If that's not clairvoyance, I don't know what is. (Chris Cornell's random appearance at the end, along with a totally-not-music-related-but-still-cool cameo by a young unknown Paul Giamatti, was just the icing on the cake.)

Of course, if I'd been just a little older when the movie came out, I probably would have been aware of this a long time ago, but hey, I found out about it now, so I'm enthused about it now. So there.

Anyway, in addition to all that, it's just a really enjoyable movie that captures a lot of the complexities of being single. Admittedly, there are a lot of contrivances (it is Cameron Crowe), but I was willing to forgive most of them. It ends with an oddly poignant chorus of single voices sharing a variety of sentiments (including one that echoed almost directly something I said earlier today, which may have aided the poignancy). I'm inclined to recommend it to my readership, though even now I reflect that none of my readership is single. Still, great movie, great music. It's no Almost Famous, (what is?), but see it anyway.

And now, another song that popped up in the film, from a band that was sadly on the outs at the time:

"There is this old man who spent so much of his life sleeping
That he is able to keep awake for the rest of his years"
- Pixies, Dig for Fire

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Sal Bass" weighs in

About a week ago, Jeff cited an incident in which the Random House publishing decided not to publish a book about one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammed, fearing "another Satanic Verses". The Satanic Verses, of course, was Salman Rushdie's 1988 book that was so rife with blasphemy that even the man who once sang Peace Train was calling for Rushdie's head.

Random House's decision to pull the new book spawned a little mini-discussion over on Jeff's blog about the responsibilities of publishers. And now Rushdie himself has spoken. Not surprisingly, he disagrees with Random House (and agrees with me); he thinks the book should be published. I particularly like his point about "censorship by fear", which was my point all along.

Not much to say, but thought that was interesting when I saw it in light of previous discussions.

Hats off to anyone who gets the reference in the post title.

"There's nothing ever wrong
But nothing's ever right
Such a cruel contradiction"
- Shinedown, Burning Bright

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Opening ceremonies... OF DOOM!

Harold Meyerson thinks that, of the two major events last week (Russia's invasion of Georgia, which incidentally caused waaaay too many jokes on our , and the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing), the opening ceremonies were far scarier. Part of me thinks he's got a point, but my brain is so fried right now I can't think too hard about it. Either way, it's not a bad read.

"You can do anything
I should be so lucky"
- Maritime, Tearing Up the Oxygen

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Harbinger of good baseball

So I move to Orange County in 1999. In 2002, the then-Anaheim Angels win the World Series.

I move to Houston in 2003. In 2005, the Houston Astros make it to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

I move to Tampa in 2006. In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays are serious postseason contenders for the first time in their brief history, having just last Sunday set a franchise record for victories in a single season.

There are two lessons to be learned from this:
1. I am awesome.
2. I really need to stop moving around so damn much.

"Was this new move just to keep moving?
In hindsight you're gonna wish you were here"
- the Long Winters, Hindsight