Friday, December 23, 2005

christmas presents!

Last night Kris and I exchanged gifts, as she's going to Ohio and I'm working today (theoretically, I'm working right now, but my head's not in the game yet) and tomorrow. I made out like a bandit...

I got the 2005 version of New York Mets Monopoly. Kris and I played one game that lasted until midnight. She bought Boardwalk-equivalent Tom Seaver on her first turn, and several tense go-rounds occurred before I landed on (and purchased) Park Place-equivalent Mike Piazza, thereby blocking what would have been a crippling monopoly for me.

I eventually prevailed through my ownership of Home Plate and First and Second Base (which correspond to the railroads in the original), and my monopoly of Carlos Beltran, Kaz Matsui and Doug Mientkiewicz (Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Pacific Avenues in the original, respectively); meaning that last night's Monopoly victory has been the biggest contribution to date those three have made to anything associated with the Mets and winning.

I must mention that Kris had some particularly bad luck with the "Home" and "Road" cards (Community Chest and Chance cards from the original), which severely handicapped her (despite her ownership of both utilities - WFAN and the Daily News; by the way, Spector - you're working for Kris now).

It's also worth mentioning that my official bad taste joke of the game was suggesting that Darryl Strawberry and/or Doc Gooden should have replaced the original angry-looking guy in jail.

It's also also worth mentioning that the first two properties after Go (which used to be Mediterranean Avenue and Baltic Avenue) were the Home Run Apple and Shea Stadium, and both were worth $60. Apparently, the Home Run Apple, while a part of Shea Stadium, is worth as much as Shea Stadium, yet buying Shea Stadium does not give one ownership of the Home Run Apple. Interesting.

The final thing worth mentioning is that Kris' game piece was a hot dog. And that's just inherently cool.

My other sweet gifts were cute Love Tokens, which I can cash in for kisses, hugs, massages and rolls in the hay; the truly creepy Zombie Survival Guide, which might be scarier than any such movie thanks to its matter-of-fact writing style and lurid descriptions of zombie attacks; season one of The 4400 on DVD, which is a show Kris and I both enjoy; and season one of the new Battlestar Galactica on DVD. Kris will watch it (or is "tolerate" the right word?), but she knows I absolutely adore it. While holiday shopping last weekend with Kris, I cooed over the DVD set in a store, and her ensuing half-smiles and cryptic comments now make perfect sense.

So Kris did really, really, really well, and I hope I did as well in my gifts to her. I'm going to miss her this weekend...

the newest yankee


Now just slap a funny, fake nose on him, stick him in a time machine back to 1994, and if he keeps the shirt he's ready to be an Bajoran on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (as demonstrated by my meticulous MS Paint artist's rendition):


I dunno, maybe it's the combination of the shirt and the hair, but now he just looks like one of those effete, new-agey-looking (read: wussy) actors they always got to play aliens on Star Trek back in the early 90s. Maybe it's just me.

If anything, I've now given you all the best Christmas present anyone could offer: permanent visual knowledge of what Odo would look like with boobs.

Look at it... there you go... let it burn into your retinas.

Good.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

random saturday thoughts

- I will watch today's Giants game like a normal human being. That means with friends, with wings, and with beer. For once.

My gut feeling isn't good for the Giants today; for one thing, Antonio Pierce would have been one of the main guys counted upon to stop the frightening Larry Johnson (not the good Knicks kind, either). But like the new LJ's old coach told Ernie Accorsi back in his State days, teams with character win games because of injuries, not in spite of them. And quite frankly, being the elite team the Giants aspire to be shouldn't be easy (and rarely is). Plus, it's not like the Chiefs are the '64 Browns here...

- Message in a Bottle is on TBS right now, and Paul Newman completely blows everybody else in the movie out of the water. It's a little confusing as to what he's doing in this. Which shouldn't really be too surprising when you look at the cast, but it's worth mentioning. His Emmy-worthy turn in the much better movie Empire Falls will always be one of my favorites.

- I like Kris' laugh. Though I don't have a link to it to share it with y'all.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

wayne fucking gretzky

This picture is from the front page of ESPN.com (as of 1 pm on Wednesday afternoon):


Wayne Gretzky must be a good coach. If I were a hockey player on his team, I would do anything - including stick my face in front of a puck traveling at speeds upwards of 100 mph - to keep my childhood hero from making that face at me.

If I were a professional hockey player on the Great One's team, and I couldn't cut the mustard, I think it would go a little something like... this:

me

"I sure am sorry I couldn't clear the puck out of the zone, Mr. Gretzky. Can I have your autograph?"

coach wayne

"FUCK YOU"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

hey, it could happen

The NFL has just released updated playoff scenarios in the wake of last night's 36-17 Falcons win over the Saints.

Apparently, the Giants are on the cusp of clinching a playoff spot this weekend. All they need is 1) a win over the Chiefs, 2) a Carolina loss to the Saints, 3) an Atlanta loss to the Bears and 4) a tie between the Cowboys and Redskins.

Also helpful would be an unexpected total eclipse of the sun during Saturday's game, a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan just about... now, a Poltergeist-like implosion of FedEx Field during the Dallas/Washington game (somehow involving Craig T. Nelson), and for monkeys to fly out of Wayne's butt.

shameless plug

For days, I've been thinking of a way to write about the newly-launched Jim Davis for Governor (of the state of Florida) website without too much emphasis on the fact that it's run by my big brother from our fraternity at Penn, Matt Thornton (Matt's the name of my big brother, not of the fraternity).

Terry Ryan, Matt's big brother, was knowledgeable enough to write about how the site makes use of ColdFusion technology (but apparently NOT the kind pioneered by Elisabeth Shue in The Saint), so that's out.

Really, all I can offer is a shameless plug... and this: I know Matt, and he wouldn't be working for anybody unless he or she is the real deal. I could say that a Jim Davis victory is essential in finally turning Florida blue; I could say that Davis, unlike the current governor, will fight the right battles for the right reasons. All of these things are true. But I think the best thing I could say about Jim Davis is that Matt decided to help him out.

So check out Matt's campaign blog already!

it begins

As I predicted here yesterday, the spinning of the Giants' nailbiter has begun. Bob Glauber of Newsday applies the first bit of polish.

Just to be clear - this is not necessarily a bad thing. Though it probably left Giants fans exhausted, Sunday's win was the kind that contenders pull out (and pretenders let slip through their fingers). It's tailor-made for the half-hour NFL Films season highlight of a successful playoff team (or, dare I say, a championship team).

One passage that stood out to me:

"Paterno used to say, 'If you have character, you win a game because you have injuries, not in spite of them,'" Accorsi said. "We lost four starters in the first 10½ minutes of the game, and we fought back and won. We've got two new starters on the offensive line, and we had none left. Unbelievable. That's a very good locker room of people. There's a lot of heart down there."

Monday, December 12, 2005

friday saturday sunday

Friday Saturday Sunday, 261 South 21st Street.

Wow. Kris took me out for a romantic dinner here about a month ago, and I've been meaning and meaning and meaning to review it (as reviewing Philly restaurants we try is something I'd like to do with this blog o'mine). So here goes... Friday Saturday Sunday (hereafter: FSS) is known for three things around these parts: romance, reasonable markups on wine, and mushroom bisque. Kris and I enjoyed two of those three together at FSS. Only I tried the bisque, as mushrooms are high up on Kris' "stinky foods" list.

FSS is cozy. The atmosphere reminded me of what I imagine romantic, contemporary-yet-somehow-timeless 1980s New York City restaurants must have been like. In a good way. Whatever that means. Bright, flourescent, black-lit accents stood out in a world of warm, dark blues (especially on the prominent dry-erase board announcing the evening's specials).

We shared a bottle of Clos du Val Merlot for about $30. Kris and I both liked it. There are very few merlots we don't like - this despite the bafflingly popular hatred for merlot inspired by the movie Sideways, in which the main character refuses to associate with two beautiful women unless they're drinking ABM ("Anything But Merlot"). Kris and I like to actually taste what we drink, so we like Merlot. Fuck all y'all - y'all be bullshit.

Anyhoo, for starters, I had the bisque, which retained just enough mushroominess to be extremely pleasing, and Kris had some pate - which I generally don't hate, but don't go out of my way to eat. This partcicular pate was pretty tasty.

For our main courses, Kris had the crab cakes, while I had the chili-rubbed angus steak special. Both were pretty tasty; it's been my experience that there aren't too many steaks that turn out well outside of a steakhouse, but this particular cut of meat wasn't too chewy or tough (the usual pitfalls of ordering steak in strange, new places).

Besides the mushroom bisque, I really got the sense that FSS was selling atmosphere and mood at least as much as the food (probably more so). There are several restaurants in and around Philly where you can get better, more interesting food; rather, it was in our immediate company where one could see the unique appeal of the establishment.

We sat next to a middle-aged couple that has apparently been coming to FSS for dinner every Saturday night for years. They had their choice of wine waiting for them in their corner booth, and the hyperfriendly wait staff feted upon them as soon as they arrived. They were extremely cozy as they looked out upon the restaurant, and they knew exactly what they wanted to eat; I got the sense they felt they were home. They just seemed so comfortable.

And that's what FSS is - it's comfort food. Especially if you're in love.

monday giants blogging

I haven't blogged for a while; partially because of work, and mostly because of my grandfather passing away last Thursday, which has hit me really, really hard.

For my return to blogging, however, I'd like to switch to some lighter talk and ruminate on the Giants a little bit.

First of all, yesterday's 26-23 overtime win over the Eagles still feels like a loss, if only because the Giants looked so poor in pulling it out.

I think, though, that this could be the win that the Giants look back upon in a couple of weeks as the one that saved/defined/whatevered their season. It just feels like time will treat the Giants' performance yesterday kindly. For one thing, Big Blue never plays flawlessly in Philly, even when the team pulls out a win. And the Eagles are still a team made up of proud NFL athletes; coming into the game I thought it was going to be the scrappy affair it was, rather than the Giants cakewalk so many had assumed would take place. The bottom line is that they took a December win out of Philly, which is tough to do regardless of how well or poorly the Eagles' season is going.

I said to Kris during the final minutes of the fourth quarter and during overtime that this would be Jay Feely's redemption game. And despite some gallows IMing with Spector, I never really doubted Feely. Or perhaps I couldn't really imagine him blowing another amazing opportunity to win a crucial road game. Whatever the case, Feely came through, which will no doubt make this gruesomely ugly game an amazing triumph once NFL Films is through with it.

Looking ahead, there are two real areas of concern with this team. I'll begin with Eli Manning, who has seemingly taken a few steps backwards these past two weeks. Now, I've been on the Eli bandwagon all season long, and I'm not about to jump off just yet (as I'm sure many Giants fans already have - "the next Kerry Collins" was a particularly idiotic comment I heard from one rooter). I think Eli is going to be just fine.

Of immediate concern, however, is whether he'll be able to re-establish his game in time for the Giants to have a shot at doing something special in 2005. I'm not really worried yet, but it's definitely something to keep in mind as #10 takes the field on Saturday versus the dangerous Chiefs.

The other red flag with the Giants is in the trainer's room; Big Blue lost four starters to injury yesterday, including both starting offensive tackles (forcing guard David Diehl to move to right tackle - meaning that there were essentially three backups on the O-line). On the other side of the ball, the Giants lost William Joseph and Antonio Pierce (who's been the heart and soul of the defense thus far this season).

You saw just what the problem with backup offensive linemen is yesterday; backup Bob Whitfield came in cold and did his best Luke Petitgout impersonation, taking two crippling penalties on two different possessions inside the Eagles' 10. You never want to say that Petitgout wouldn't have taken those penalties, but if the Giants hadn't had to settle for field goals in those situations, maybe the game isn't as close as it turned out to be.

The Giants could have some real problems down the stretch if they don't get these players back. And even if they do, Eli is once again going to have to prove to the league that he deserves to be here.

The rest of the season starts Saturday in East Rutherford.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

a little life advice

Mike Ditka has led a very successful life. His secret? To be what he calls a "Grabowski." On the gridiron, a Grabowski gives 110% each and every snap for the love of the game, not for the love of a paycheck. But one need not don pads and a helmet to be a Grabowski. Grabowskis are the hard-working blue collar joes who move our furniture, jack our hammers, hit our softballs and lift our weights.

Still not getting it?

Well, perhaps it can be better explained through song.

Monday, December 05, 2005

back to the future

If, in 2005, "next year is now" for the Mets, it only makes sense that 2007 will be 2002 (or 1993) - for nothing else than deals like this.

I hate to keep picking on the Daily News, Spector, but what is Bill Madden thinking? I can't believe the Marlins wouldn't have given Paul Lo Duca away, yet Omar Minaya sends them the Mets' (remaining) top pitching prospect and Madden basically calls it a steal - for New York! The Fish have to be dancing in the streets of Miami right now - they got a young power pitching prospect for a rapidly aging catcher (whom they still owed $12.5 million).

As for the Mets... WHEN OH WHEN is this organization - which plays in a power pitcher's paradise - EVER going to develop a stud power pitcher? More importantly, WHEN are they going to show faith in a player they develop? (David Wright doesn't count; you don't need to show faith in somebody who's as can't miss as you can get - basically making Wright the accidental by-product of a minor league system which is CLEARLY not designed to develop talent for the major league club).

They should just trade Milledge for Manny or some 35-year old "name" pitcher, sign Sosa, and get it all over with. This organization is disgusting, and this team is going to need truckloads of geritol come February in St. Lucie.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

some sunday baseball blogging

- The NY Daily News reported this morning that the Yankees will be tens of millions of dollars in the red when MLB's accountants put 2005 to bed. And the back page cartoon heavily implies that commissioner Bud Selig has finally succeeded in his apparent Inspector Javert-like quest to "get" George Steinbrenner.

My only thought? If Yankees execs and their mouthpieces in the media for years have said that the team is "only playing by the rules" regarding its 800-lb gorillaism and its massive spending, they can't whine that big bad Bud Selig is picking on them when "the rules" suddenly have negative consequences.

Well, I guess they can (and apparently are), but that would make everyone parroting the company line ginormous hypocrites. Which, I'm sure, doesn't bother any of the big players in this little drama in the least. But it still needs to be pointed out.

- I have no idea why people don't think Javier Vazquez would look fine and dandy in a Mets uniform. His 2005 VORP is nearly identical to that of Kris Benson, but given Benson's and Vazquez's respective ages, injury histories and career tracks, tell me you wouldn't want Vazquez over Benson any day of the week (and, more importantly, over a long season) - especially in a power pitcher's park like Shea, with a coach like Rick Peterson (who excels in getting pitchers not named Victor Zambrano to be more consistent with their mechanics).

- On a somewhat similar note, the Mets - considering all that they'd be giving up - don't need an aging Manny Ramirez clogging up the payroll for (at least) the next three years.

I felt OK about trading young guys for Carlos Delgado because I thought the Mets had gotten their big bat without surrendering their best prospects (opportunity cost-wise, it was like Yusmeiro Petit, Mike Jacobs, Grant Psomas and Manny for Delgado, Lastings Milledge, Aaron Heilman, probably Cliff Floyd and lots and lots and lots of cash).

But now they're going to trade their best prospects anyway, for another big bat - Manny's, which comes with even poorer defense than Delgado's. The Mets need a horse in the rotation (whom I hope is Vazquez - or even better, Barry Zito), a catcher, a second baseman (though I'd love to see Andy Hernandez given a fair shot next spring) and some arms for the bullpen - which means trading their only remaining chips for Manny makes absolutely zero sense (in the vast majority of cases, trading a chip like Milledge makes little sense to begin with).

Plus, with an aging Manny and an aging Delgado in the middle of the lineup, the Mets stand a better chance of ultimately regressing back towards the bloated, awful days of 2002/03 than actually progressing towards the type of long-term success their fans deserve.

For what it's worth, Ricardo over at Metsgeek details why trading for Manny is unnecessarily silly.

serendipity, just off exit 16W

Despite saying that Eli Manning "met" Charlie Conerly's widow on Friday night (I'm fairly certain that Eli used to visit Perian Conerly routinely during his time at Ole Miss - a tidbit that received some attention right after the 2004 draft), Mike Lupica makes a good point today - one that has occurred to me this entire season, even as I've believed throughout that the Giants' future is bright.

You only get so many chances to win.

This is the NFL's ultimate truth. Anything could happen to the Giants next year that could derail what is "supposed" to be their season. Eli could get injured, a la Chad Pennington in 2003 (or Donovan McNabb right now). The offense might lose a couple of linemen to free agency and fail to "click," a la the Giants in 2003. Big Blue's key players might suddenly get old.

There's just too much inherent randomness in professional football to count on anything beyond one Sunday afternoon.

Just ask the Eagles.

And yet, I'm still not worried about today's game. I'm not saying that the Giants are definitely going to win. I just feel that whatever is meant to be will happen (which has nothing to do with the fact that Serendipity is on TBS right now).

Yes, I do believe it's the Giants' turn. Yes, I believe the karmic ledger should be balanced, considering all the garbage the Giants (and their fans) have had to endure in recent years (perhaps even extending back to the 1993 season finale, when Emmitt carried the Cowboys to a victory and a division title despite a separated shoulder). Why not now?

Most of all, I believe Eli Manning is destined for special things. I have faith in him. Because of Eli, the Giants have a chance to win each and every single game they play, regardless of the competition. And when you look at him, you can see the game's past (and in some cases, its present). You can see older brother Peyton when Eli marches up to the line. You can see a little Brett Favre whenever he darts around the pocket before firing an off-balance rocket (something you'd never see from his brother). And you can see a little John Elway (or Johnny U.) when the game is on the line.

And eventually, if you watch him enough, you can see what Ernie Accorsi saw when he fell in love with him.

Eli's still got a ways to go. As Bill Parcells would say, let's not put him in Canton just yet. But even if the Giants lose today, I cannot imagine it will be because Eli allowed it to happen. Which is a slightly different way of saying that every fiber in my being knows Eli will not allow the Giants to lose (even if they end up losing; and before your eyes glaze over, think about how the Giants lost last week and you'll see what I mean).

I truly, seriously cannot wait for this game. I have this crazy feeling that it's going to be a classic.

Friday, December 02, 2005

friday giants blogging

Anyone who's read this site with any consistency knows I usually post about the Giants on the Friday before gameday, and today is no different. Last Sunday's loss to the Seahawks was a gutpunch straight out of the Fassel era, evocative of the infamous 2002 playoff collapse in San Fran. Some pundits called it a potential season-ruiner, but I don't think that's the case.

Something tells me that the vast majority of this team is so young that they don't know how to let such a loss ruin their season. And something tells me that the guys who are not so young - the Strahans, Tikis and Amanis - have been around the block too many times to let it drag them down yet again.

In any case, ESPN's Page 2 (which, like regular ESPN, usually treats the Giants and their fans with an "eat shit and die" attitude) today ran a wonderful essay on Eli, Big Blue and Giants fandom from guest writer Roger Director (who apparently used to write episodes of Moonlighting).

Eli, like any little brother, had to learn fast. He earned that poker face of his. Be a stoic. So it won't look like you're bawling to mama, because that only gets you another Indian burn or a knee in the thigh. Or dangled out the window. But if little brothers can survive, they find out there's a much nastier payback you can inflict on the big brothers of this world than telling mom. Little brothers can grow up to be rattlesnakes.

And now the Giants have a poker-faced little brother with an ice pick for an arm. Who strikes fear when the clock is ticking loud and they break the huddle with the length of the field to go. Other than having a defense you know can't be scored on, there's no better card to have in your hand or to help your Luke Petitgout Syndrome.

I honestly don't have any dread leading up to this game. I'm excited, mostly without that awful feeling that the Sword of Damocles hangs by a thread over the head of each Giant and each Giant fan. Maybe it's because the Giants are so young. Win or lose, Sunday's game represents a wonderful, pleasantly shocking opportunity for such a young, promising team. And I have this funny feeling it's going to be their finest hour yet. The roles of good guys and bad guys are so amazingly perfectly cast, and the prize is right there for the taking.

This is what the NFL is all about.

some random friday thoughts

Wow, I haven't blogged in a long while (at least before "THERE'S MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES ON THE MOTHERFUCKING PLANE!"). I know I promised I would post more. And if you believed me, you're now ensconced in the world of lies that is haplography.

Anyhoo, here are some random Friday thoughts for your reading pleasure...

- Every time I hear a classic, Bing Crosby-era Christmas song on the radio, I think of the opening scenes of Die Hard or Lethal Weapon. Both used old-timey holiday music as ironic accompaniment to gruesome deaths. Touches like that made big, big 80s action movies big, big 80s action movies. So what does it say about me if I hear "Winter Wonderland" on the radio and immediately picture Bruce Willis smirking and saying California!

- I think the phrase "oh no!" should be replaced with "oh noes!" (with "noes" being pronounced like "nose"). We'd all sound a lot more adorable.

- Have the Rangers jumped the shark if I actually start expecting them to win games?

- I saw a feature last night on the local news (the Fox affiliate, I believe) that detailed how to become a Philly hipster. No joke. Apparently, all you need are Buddy Holly glasses, an ironically-worn soccer jersey and "attitude," and then you're offically hip. Note: this is more of an observation than an actual thought. My apologies. -ed... Note #2: my name is not actually "ed"; rather, this is an abbreviation of "editor."

- You've got to love the Philly sports media. On the same day columnist Sam Donnellon writes about how much smarter, savvier and more youth-oriented the Phillies are than the Mets (because the Mets are buying "pasts, not futures"), the Phils go out and give Tom Gordon three guaranteed years to be their closer. So if you're keeping track at home - giving 34-year old Billy Wagner four guaranteed years: stupid. Giving the 38-year old Gordon three years: BRILLIANT!

"THERE ARE MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES ON THE MOTHERFUCKING PLANE!"

I'm sure the legend of Samuel L. Jackson's "Snakes on a Plane" is well-known around the Internets (if not, check out its handy IMDB page), but last night I came across an old post at I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing that is keeping me giggling well into this fine morning.

What else do you need to know? How the snakes get on the plane, what the snakes do once they're on the plane, who puts the snakes on the plane, who is trying to get the snakes off the plane...This is not for you to ponder. There are snakes on the plane. End of fucking story.
I think it goes without saying that Samuel L. has to give a big, ridiculous speech about survival at some point, as he did in Deep Blue Sea (just before getting eaten by a motherfucking shark). I still think Al Pacino is the guy you'd want pinch-hitting if your lead actor can't quite pull off a big, ridculous, climactic speech, but maybe Samuel L. could be the guy warming up in the bullpen to bring your bad movie home.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"FOOT BALL TO-DAY"

I can only imagine such a sign is posted outside of Qwest Field today, where the New York 11 will take on the Seattle squad at 4 o'clock.

I have a good feeling about the Giants today, in that I don't have a horrible feeling for them (the last time I did was heading into the Minnesota game, and we all remember what happened that day... except for me, thanks to my prescription Represitol).

Yes, the Seahawks have Shaun Alexander and the league's top-rated offense. Yes, they're 8-3. Yes, they're playing at home. Yes, they and the Bears are the "trendy" NFC teams now.

But they come from the uber-awful NFC West. Now, you can't blame them for beating up on the weak sisters in their division, but you must acknowledge that five of their wins have come against less-than-stellar teams - most recently the 49ers, whom they barely beat (and, as history shows again and again, if you play badly and win one week, you're liable to have troubles the next week). The Seahawks' most impressive wins were each three-point squeakers at home against Atlanta in week 2 (when Matt Schaub guided the Falcons through crunchtime) and Dallas in week 7 (which was a gift from Drew Bledsoe). Those are two teams I honestly believe are not quite as good as the Giants, despite New York's OT loss at Texas Stadium (during a stretch of season in which the Cowboys' defense was playing out of its mind).

I have no idea what will happen today. The Giants could easily win or lose. But something tells me that the Seahawks aren't going to run away with it, despite what the hype would have you believe. I know I'm tempting fate and the thing from on high here, but it's been my experience that the hype tends to cometh before the fall - especially when that hype is ultimately based upon a weak divisional schedule.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

if you didn't know it already...

NOTHING GOOD HAS EVER COME OUT OF PRINCETON, with the exception which proves the rule being the Daily Princetonian article detailing Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's membership in a club which sought to keep women and minorities out of the former College of New Jersey.

I had a professor at Penn (who shall remain nameless) who went to Princeton in the mid-1960s - another exception to the Princeton Rule. He also happens to be African-American, and he once spoke of a campus group which sought to keep Princeton priviliged and white. I have no idea if it was the same group Alito was a member of, but as this particular professor told the story, the group had open meetings at which anybody could speak. So he gathered up some supporters, went to the meeting and spoke before the cowed group.

The moral of the story is that pure evil comes out of Princeton, not just the run-of-the-mill evil that unleashed Brooke Shields, Dean Cain and Keith Elias onto an unsuspecting world. The best way to beat it is to stand up to it (ideally, standing up to it includes but is not limited to two men's basketball ass-whoopings at the hands of the Quakers every season).

Anyhoo, I had a busy week to rival all busy weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and I hope to be posting more in the coming days. Turducken (yes, turducken). Big Giants game in Seattle tomorrow. Lots of personal developments. Maybe some long-overdue Philly restaurant reviews. That kind of stuff.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday!!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

that's my bush!



If I were to judge by this one picture, I'd say Bush couldn't find his way off the set of the Chinese Pre$$ Your Luck today, so he started asking the little boy who lives in his mouth what he should do.

I can only imagine this will improve his approval ratings. The end.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the diamond joe quimby party

"If that is the way the wind is blowing, never let it be
said that I do not also blow."


I liked the Senate Republicans' plan to end the war in Iraq better when it was the Senate Democrats' plan to end the war in Iraq (thanks to Nitpicker).

"you fucked up - you trusted us"



Via Atrios.

i suck

When it comes to placing the state, I suck. My average error was 18 miles. Kris sent this link to me, and her average error was only five miles.

Who designed this country, anyway?

the eagles are the eagles again

I'm sure the football gods will punish me come Sunday for this, but... damn, that was awesome. I turned the game off with over three minutes to go, thinking the Eagles' annual dramatic season turnaround had begun; I turned it back on to see David Akers' potential game-winning 60-yard field goal attempt fall at least ten yards short as time ran out. After wiping my eyes, doing a double take and exclaiming "wha-a-WHAAAA!?", I used Tivo's 30-minute cache to relive the Eagles' gut-punching, Rich-Kotite-Era-repressed-memory-triggering defeat (which easily - easily - dwarfs the Giants' loss to the Vikes).

Remember I said that I'd believe the Eagles were dead when I saw a body? We're not there yet; this team still has a dominating defense at times, and I'm still not convinced the Giants are any good.

But we're close.

And no matter what happens on Sunday, it's just awesome to see the Cowboys come into town and ruin everybody's night, just like in the old days. The only thing better would be the Giants doing it.

Now, I don't think I'd dislike the Eagles as much as I do if it weren't for their fans; not since Red Sox Nation's pre-2004 heyday has a fanbase so skillfully combined arrogant soccer hooliganism, hangdog defeatism, and a ginormously whiny sense of entitlement. When I first got to Penn in 1998, the wonderful, amazing, devoted Eagles fans went to the Vet dressed as empty blue seats, which kept the games off TV; these days, one learns how charming it can be to hear God's collective gift to fandom do the "E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!" chant eight or nine times... at a Phillies game... in July. Now they can all go to the back of the line.

At least until Sunday.

on edit - I had no idea Donovan McNabb injured his groin. I certainly don't take pleasure in this, and I did not when I posted this blog entry. I wish him the best, and I certainly hope he's on the field this Sunday - after all, you've got to beat the best to be the best. -haplo

Monday, November 14, 2005

the internets in action

So there's been a quote circulating around the Internet the past couple days. At first glance, it appears to be yet another unfortunate choice of words for John Kerry, who was often excoriated during the 2004 presidential campaign for similarly unfortunate choices of words (i.e., "I voted for it before I voted against it," etc.):

"We had no pre-war intelligence," said Sen. John Kerry, "History will show that none of the leading Democrats had substantial intelligence. Anyone who remembers what we did then knows that the president is making a baseless allegation. I think history will bear out my contention that we Democrats lacked the intelligence to make such an important decision."

Sounds too good to be true, right? Sounds like it was tailor-made for the type of triumphant, vitriolic email forwards that circle the drains of our junk mail folders (the same type that can make Andy Rooney look like David Duke). Well, that's because it was.

"Scrappleface" is a fake news website. More precisely, it's an extremely right-wing fake news website; for example, one story deals with Nancy Pelosi's apparent plan to seize oil company profits and use them to fund abortions for ANWR wildlife.

Now that's comedy.

Anyhoo, the Kerry quote is fakily fake; so fake, in fact, that debunking the cause of the resulting outrage-tinged smug satisfaction among the right (look at how many people assume John Kerry actually said this) would be a slam dunk for the folks over at Snopes. Unfortunately, that won't keep this little nugget of subtle-as-a-sledge-hammer satire from circulating around the Internets forever, presented as yet another factual dumb soundbite that actually factually sprang from the wordhole of one John Kerry, Democrat.

Partisans believe what they want to believe - what they expect to believe - facts be damned. Some partisans know it's fake, and just don't care; it stands more of a chance to distract from the question at hand if people assume it's true. It won't change the subject, to be sure; but in the arena of public opinion, Republicans have defeated Democrats in the past by inflicting thousands of little cuts just like this one.

Can't wait to get it in an email.

every battle is won before it is ever fought

It seems the national debate these days has turned to whether or not the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to lead the nation into war with Iraq, or if it was suckered into believing what turned out to be flawed, flimsy intelligence (which is certainly the less evil possibility, but just as unforgiveable a sin if true). The GOP is spinning mightily, trying to convince the nation that the Democrats were privy to the same intelligence and are therefore worthy of all the blame (as Atrios points out, it's the "you fucked up - you trusted us" defense). This is of course untrue, but peddling revisionist history to an eager media is pretty much the only move the Bushies have left.

My question is this: if it's true that the Republicans' massively successful communications philosophy/strategy (whatever you want to call it) over the years hasn't been to win the debate but to control the very terms of the debate - to control the question itself... then haven't they already lost?

the giants are the giants again

Just one thought on this Giants debacle: the Giants are the Giants again. Not because they lost, but because they lost in excruciating fashion; because the defense was awesome until it wasn't, because the special teams was awful, because the offense played just well enough to lose.

Since Tom Coughlin took over the team, there have been new faces and fresh ideas. Last year the team was laughably bad. It happens. This year, the special teams have actually been good. The offense has been explosive. The defense has been mediocre. This is all new for the New York Football Giants. But yesterday's loss was straight out of the Jim Fassel era. You could easily have taken one of today's game stories back in time to 1998 or 2002, changed the names to protect the horrible, and Mr. 1998 Giants Fan wouldn't have been able to determine that this game recap was from THE FUTURE!!! To him, it would have been just another terrible loss for a franchise that knows how to terribly lose better than any other.

sadly predictable

Let the second-half tailspin... begin!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

world cafe live

Kris and I hit Upstairs at World Cafe Live last night (3025 Walnut St.). It was one of their free shows, and even though they told us that the wait would roughly be the same as the half-life of one of the elements down near the bottom of the Periodic Table (the scary man-made ones), we put our name down; while we were discussing where else we could go, a table with a nice window view of the Walnut St. Bridge opened up.

The place looks designed by Philly hipsters (and every member of the wait staff looks like a Philly hipster). Usually I have mixed feelings about this, as Philly hipsters can often deserve massive cockpunches. But this was nice; the beer on draught was accordingly hip - all sorts of brews from Victory and Dogfish Head, and, of course, lager.

The music and food were good - I had an Italian grinder, which had all sorts of Italian cold cuts, red peppers, oil and melted provolone on a toasted roll. Performing was the wonderful Kristin Hoffmann, who has a helluva voice. Her music was very Dido-like, and immediately after Kris and I joked that her stuff should all be featured in teen dramas on the WB, she introduced her next song as "the one that they used on 'Dawson's Creek.'" Still, she was very good and her musical style was very versatile, and it's just cool to eat dinner and drink beer while listening to live music.

Even beyond that, to me, WXPN is one of the things that makes Philly Philly. It's true sometimes that every hour sounds like their Women's Music Hour, but there's a lot of good that they do, and it's refreshing to listen to a radio station that has a firm commitment to new music and to the singer/songwriter. Combining that with food, beer and free live music is, well, perfect.

i have become dell, destroyer of worlds

Goodbye, seven-year-old Power Mac which I got on my first weekend at Penn. I hope you have fun in my closet. I'll power you back up when I need my music and my senior honors thesis. Until then, there's a Dell on my desk now.

Now, it's not actually my Dell; Kris doesn't need her desktop now that she has a laptop, and she realizes it would be better for both of us if there was a computer in my apartment that could actually take advantage of the broadband connection I pay over $40 a month for. So, now, I have become Dell, destroyer of worlds.

I guess I'll miss having a Mac; I used to be really into the whole Mac culture - when I was about 14 or so. Now I couldn't give two shits what sits on my desk. It could be a Coleco (with rust-proofing) so long as the Internet internets faster and the software actually works with the rest of the computing world's.

Really, I'm just glad I got a Dell without having to deal with Steven, the Dell Dude.



Kris is much, much hotter, and pot busts, to my knowledge, are refreshingly free from her background... oh God, what is he doing?

Friday, November 11, 2005

peking duck pizza

Last night Kris and I tried the Peking Duck pizza at Mama Palma's (2229 Spruce St). Let me say this: you must try this pizza. Roast duck, hoisin sauce, mushrooms, scallions and little thin snippets of carrot - all on a pizza. Awesome.

I recommend you share this with someone, as it's sweet enough that eating even the small size all by yourself could give you adult-onset diabetes (not really - don't sue!). But it's definitely worth a taste.

nooooooooooooooooooo

So Fox has cancelled Arrested Development just as I was getting into it. It's a fucking tight show, and now it's gone. At least there's still the DVDs.

Considering Scrubs doesn't appear to be getting back on the schedule anytime soon (and FilmFakers is LONG gone), I'm just about ready to declare that my Tivo season passes are like teeny thumbed-up kisses of death (or, at least warm, encompassing hugs of hiatus).

I'm looking at you next, The Office. Your producers should just lie down in their office doorways right now and wait for NBC security guards to throw their limp, lifeless bodies off the studio lot.

friday sports blogging

Truthfully, I don't know what sets Friday sports blogging apart from the sports blogging I do any other day, but it's Friday, so it's Friday sports blogging.

- The Rangers are, quite simply, shocking. I thought they would have returned to ways of stinkitude long before this. But as long as they keep outworking teams and can avoid hitting some sort of wall (hopefully the Olympics break in February will help), they've got a shot here. It's definitely nice to have a likeable Rangers team kicking the shit out of people again, but I'm expecting Petr Nedved or Anson Carter to step onto the ice any minute and ruin the illusion.

- I'm scared for the Giants this Sunday. This game worries me more than the Eagles game next week, because Big Blue is expected to manhandle the Vikes (and because the Giants didn't play particularly well last week and still won going away). Mark my words - the Giants will lose to a team they're supposed to beat at some point. That's the reality of life in today's NFL. And for some reason, I have visions of a resurgent Brad Johnson picking apart the Giants secondary dancing in my head.

- Looks like Steph Marbury is about to be traded. Good. He's like a vacuum of inspiration on the court, and something tells me the Knicks will be immeasurably better without him. Don't get me wrong - he can be awesome. But I've never gotten the feeling that he's going to take the Knicks on his back and win a game, the way a Jason Kidd or an Allen Iverson can.

- If they must trade for him, I'm really hoping that with Theo gone in Boston, the Mets can get a favorable deal for Manny Ramirez. They shouldn't have to give up the farm for a guy who's going to look lost in Shea's outfield next year (and has just as much a chance of taking the Mets back to 2002 as he does to the playoffs), but they would have had to if the Boy Wonder had stuck around. Here's to hoping whoever's left up there has a little bit less gray matter. It's probably just wishful thinking, but hey - who would have thought the Devil Rays could get Scott Kazmir for Vic Zambrano?

I really don't mind all the money for Billy Wagner (or for pitching in general); from the mood around here (and from what I've heard), the Phillies are either deathly afraid of losing him to the Mets, or have already conceded him to them.

I think what I do mind is the Rotisserie mentality that the papers seem to ascribe to Omar Minaya. It might just be your standard Hot Stove reporting, but it feels a little too much like the winter of 2001-2002, when the Mets thought they were reloading a team that had been to the World Series just one year before. If the Mets bring in one big bat and a closer and fill the rest of the roster with smart free agent moves and/or trades, fine. If they bring in the all-hit, no-glove AL All-Star (i.e., All-Salary) team (Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Aubrey Huff, etc.), I'll be more than a little worried. Throwing money and/or prospects at guys who are obviously not right for the team, the league and/or the ballpark will be the surest way to derail an emerging team, and Omar must tread lightly.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

sadatay!

According to the internets, a new thing to get worried sick about is the growing popularity of t-shirts depicting a "simply drawn snowman with a menacing expression" among kids. According to CNN.com, "the image popularized by drug-dealer-turned-rapper Young Jeezy symbolizes those who sell a white substance known on the street as snow: cocaine." The article ends like this:

Ali Kourani, a Manhattan wholesale salesman, says the T-shirt is their top seller across the country.

"It's big money," Kourani said.


Reading this, I can't help but think that this situation is lifted verbatim from the opening of the movie Pootie Tang, with corporate America making money off the misery of the inner city. All that's missing is Pootie coming back from the farm to save the day and tell Bob Costas about it.

Leepa-chai.

homecoming

To everyone I saw at Penn Homecoming on Friday and Saturday nights: It was awesome to see you. I just feel bad we all weren't able to hang out a little more; dinner and/or hanging out on Saturday night sounded great, but then it sort of devolved into teeny tiny pockets of people doing their own things. Which is more than fine; it just would have been nice to have seen all of you a little while longer.

To everyone I should have seen at Penn Homecoming but didn't for whatever reason: I got much love for ya. Sorry it didn't happen this weekend. Let's make it work real soon.

1000

It took a little over five weeks, but haplography has reached its 1000th hit. Granted, most of those hits come from me whenever I update the page, but still, it's worth mentioning. Thanks to everyone who's been reading this whole time!

prorated eli

The Giants have now played half a season, and in doubling Eli's stats, we see some nice things developing. Over a full season, they come to...

28 TDs
10 INTs
3622 passing yards

And there's still so very much room for his improvement. Once he gets his completion percentage up to around 60% (it's at 51.6% right now), he might just become the best quarterback in the NFC. Right now, his numbers already put him in the running for Pro Bowl consideration (which, while no knock on Eli, says a lot about the state of quarterbacking in the NFC).

This is not to say that the second half of the season will definitely go as smoothly as this first half has gone (for both him and the team); there are a lot of tough games - especially on the road - between now and around 8 p.m. on the night of January 1st, when we will know for sure whether these Giants get to keep playing or not.

But the thing about Eli that the Giants love even more than his stats is this (in the words of Post columnist Steve Serby): "as the pressure moments get bigger and bigger, Eli plays bigger and bigger."

Friday, November 04, 2005

I WILL KILL YOU WITH MY MIND

the knicks and the garden

Mike Vaccaro wrote an awesome column in the Post today which really captures the zeitgeist of Knicks fandom (wow, third post today that is at least tangentially Knickerbocker-related). What the people running Madison Square Garden have done to the World's Most Famous Arena in the past few years is enough to break any New York sports fan's heart, considering how amazingly special the place was in the 1990s.

The very premise of Vaccaro's column implies that the Larry Brown Knicks have a chance to make the Garden special again, but I'm not so sure. When I look at Isiah Thomas' player moves as Knicks' head honcho, I see flawed players acquired by trading other flawed players. Sometimes it feels like he'll make any move in the hopes that some new random assemblage of players will click. I dunno; maybe I'm still hung up on the bruising Knicks of the mid-1990s, or the miracle Knicks of 1999; maybe it will take some time to fall in love with a Knicks team that's long on talent but still feels not quite right. Maybe falling in love with this group will be impossible.

Maybe all they need to do is win.

And another thing: when I look at Larry Brown, I see a guy who's about to realize how hopelessly over his head he is with the players he's stuck with; I just can't see him staying in New York very long. Being coach of the Knicks should mean something, but right now, despite all of the "homecoming" talk, I look at Brown and I think "hired gun." He just doesn't feel like the head coach of the New York Knicks. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad he's here. He's a great coach, and his being here means the franchise still has a semblance of a clue - but I fear that, before too long, he's going to start trying to claw his way out of NYC (like a cat in one of those carry-on cage thingies).

"the ship be sinking"

It's hard to imagine Bush vocalizing his team's fortunes the way Michael Ray Richardson did back in the 80s, but the ship be sinking anyway. When you consider that recent presidents as ideologically disparate as Reagan and Clinton enjoyed monster approval ratings in their second terms, it seems pretty clear that Bush has completely lost touch with moderates. Which makes sense, given that Bush tried to take away Social Security, let his unqualified buddy Michael Brown preside over the loss of a major American city, nominated an underqualified buddy to the Supreme Court, then kowtowed to his narrow base of semi-loyal wackos and nominated somebody who makes Antonin Scalia look like Justice Mendoza on the West Wing (ably played by the creamy Edward James Olmos). Oh yeah, there's that whole Iraq thing, too.

Speaking of the West Wing, it looks like Hawkeye Pierce is getting his ass kicked around the country by Jimmy Smits (I'd jokingly call him by one of his non-West Wing character's names, but I couldn't think of one; thanks for the heads-up to Kris, who actually voted for Matt Santos). Good to see somebody doing well in the polls.

you gotta be there



"You gotta be there to say you were there."

Glad to see Chuck Dolan has the boys down in marketing working in shifts to come up with gold like this.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

giants are screwed

NY Daily News: Giants in first & feelin' Super

Newsday: Surging Big Blue for real

The rest of the NY media is glowing about the Jints, as well.

If the Giants lose to the Niners or the Vikings in the next two weeks - and these articles almost guarantee it - you'll be able to play this to the sight of the bandwagon emptying out.

life's little victories

When I went outside this morning at 8 am, I found that the three-hour parking meters on my little stretch of Walnut Street had three hours' worth of money in them, and the two-hour meters had two hours' worth in them. I'm not sure how it happened, and I put 75 cents in my meter just to be safe (in case this happy glitch vanished like a mirage). But still, I was able to take a little more time this morning to get myself ready and to clean up the apartment.

I love it when stuff like that happens - like free t-shirts, or free food, or finding a five-dollar bill in your pocket when you put on a jacket for the first time after a hot summer. This was one of life's little victories.

Monday, October 31, 2005

not to jinx it, but...

The Inky ran an interesting sidebar describing how Steve Young compared this current Eagles incarnation with the 1994 Bills, who were plagued by a "general malaise" after making it to four consecutive Super Bowls with nothing to show for it.

Well, like the Yankees or the Braves (or the Cowboys or Bulls of the 1990s), I'll believe the Eagles are dead when I see a body. Until then, they're still the Top Dog in the NFC East (and then some), and the Giants (or whoever else would overtake them) will have to win what Philly has by beating the Eagles themselves.

In a similar vein, while I love watching Eli turn more and more into one of the better quarterbacks in the league, I don't think he'll officially have arrived until he begins torturing Philadelphians. Nothing would please me more to see Eli regarded here in Philly the way Troy Aikman was (and really still is). You see, when that happens, it can only be because he and the Giants are either 1) the only thing keeping good Eagles teams from greater things, or 2) routinely showing bad Eagles teams just how bad they are.

That day is coming, children... maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

yanks interested in piazza?

Matt over at Metsblog writes that the Yankees have briefly discussed bringing Mike Piazza on-board as a part-time DH and catcher with Jorge Posada.

While the Yankees mull almost everybody over each winter - I think they had internal discussions about offering me a minor league deal last December - this is more than a little disturbing.

There are only two things baseball players take away from the game - money and memories, and they owe to themselves to get as much of both as they can. I realize this. And I realize that Piazza, while a classy guy, is as subject to this truism of modern MLB life as anybody else is.

Still, #31 stands a good chance of completely blowing away his entire Mets legacy if he moves across town. And I'm not sure I would ever be able to look at him the same way if he were to bash the Mets once there, as all Mets-turned-Yankees seem contractually obligated to do.

tangier

1801 Lombard St

On Friday night, Kris and I ate at Tangier - that little place across from Graduate Hospital with the red neon sign. The beer selection, while not cheap, was good - I had a Dogfish Head, which I liked very much, and a Flying Fish, which was OK, but not as good as the Dogfish. Not really sure which particular brews from each respective brewer I had, as it was loud and I wasn't really paying too much attention to the waitress (who didn't exactly dote on us).

The food was OK; burgers come on a sweet onion roll, which is a mistake if one plans on entertaining company for the remainder of the evening.

I think the best thing about the entire place is that our seating arrangements allowed us to sit next to each other, as opposed to across a table from each other, which was nice. At the end of a long, long week for both of us, we just wanted to go somewhere relaxed and have a beer or two and some food, and Tangier fit the bill.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

me no blog long time

I haven't blogged in a while - ever since the project from hell took over my life (it was like the Hotel California - you could check out, but you could never leave). Now that that's over with, I've got a couple things to post about...

1) I'm really, really glad that Tom Renney didn't pull a Willie Randolph and let Henrik Lundqvist rot on the bench until it was too late. It's still too early to proclaim him as having arrived, but given his background, the scouting reports coming into this season and his performance thus far, he's certainly close. He's given the Rangers strong games in each of his appearances, and he basically won them a game on Thursday night against the Islanders at the Garden. He doesn't give off that Dan Blackburn "confident-but-still-in-over-his-head" vibe, which makes him the first Rangers rookie goalie since Mike Richter to instill some confidence in the faithful.

1a) If the Rangers' penalty killing is as good as it's looked thus far, the Blueshirts could go a long way in this new NHL.

1b) Speaking of Blueshirts, can we go back to the white jerseys at home and leave the away jerseys for, well, away? I know it makes laundry slightly easier for the teams, and the league loves the fact that the dark jerseys at home and the light on the road harkens back to the NHL of the 1960s and earlier, but it's just not the NHL I grew up with.

Now, I love the away jerseys - when I dropped $300 on a Messier jersey back in 10th grade, I went with blue. But, without having seen any Rangers games in HD, I must say the blueshirts have never, ever been able to convey their bluey goodness on TV. And the home whites look crisp on TV at the Garden.

And that's my selfish opinion.

2) If anybody knows of a way to get tickets to Ben Folds at the Electric Factory on Wednesday night (without sucking or selling any body parts), lemme know. I'm equal parts hard worker and lazy idiot, so I waited waaaay too long to try to get tickets to this.

3) I'm still holding out hope for the Karl Rove perp walk one of these days here (soon).

4) I found a weird magazine on the ground yesterday outside of the Rite Aid at 23rd and Walnut called "Libations" (I think it's an insert in Citypaper). It's basically a thinly-veiled marketing attempt for certain beermakers to position premium and semi-premium beer as the "new wine" - something to be savored, collected, and consumed with fine foods. And while it is thinly-veiled, I was hooked. But really, it didn't make me want to go out and by cases of Blue Moon (especially when you could go out and buy Hoegaarden) so much as it made me want to try microbrewing.

And really, microbrewing is something I've been thinking about long before I found a weird magazine on the ground and decided to pick it up. If I ever have a basement, I'm turning part of it into a microbrewery, and another part of it into a black and white darkroom.

5) I'm in my PJs right now, blogging from the couch as Kris plays with Pandora. XPN is playing from the surprisingly good laptop speakers. I don't have to work today. Life is good.

magnum sez...



HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

the voice of a sad angel

Just heard Dar Williams' cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" on the radio, and I think it actually might be one of those covers that surpasses the original song. I know that sounds like sacrilege, and I might be saying it only because we've all heard the original about 1000 million (i.e., a billion) times.

Williams' version is haunting, beautiful, lonely and soaring, all at the same time. Judging by the very little I've heard of her stuff, she's a pretty versatile singer; here, she has the voice of a sad angel.

Comfortably Numb (Windows Media sample)

eli's good

In the midst of his first full year as Giants starting QB, Eli Manning now has two so-so games under his belt (in which the Giants went 2-0), two so-so games with clutch fourth quarters (1-1), and two Peyton-like "Statboy, Jr." games (also 1-1). That's a pretty good spectrum there, and we're likely to see more of all three Elis as the year wears on (hopefully more Statboy, Jr., games, only with a higher winning percentage). Over a full 16 games, Eli is on pace for...

3771 passing yards
32 TDs
11 INTs

And he's only going to get better.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

debit card fun at mcdonald's

I don't normally use a debit card at McDonald's, but Thursday night, as I was driving to Kris' house at around 11 pm, I was literally starving to death. I didn't want to waste time finding a PNC Bank ATM, so I just resigned myself to walking into one of DE-2's hundreds of McDonald's locations and using my debit card.

I ordered a medium #1 for $4.09, swiped my card, entered my pin number, and all seemed well - until no receipt printed out. The cashier didn't seem to think anything was wrong, and when I asked for one (I'm paranoid about these types of things), she looked the register over for about five minutes before telling me it was probably broken.

So I asked if there was any way she could help me out... and she took out a pen and wrote me this:



Awesome.

Special thanks to Kris for digging this out of the trash for me. :) You're too good to me, babe.

Friday, October 21, 2005

is willie behind that bench?

Newsday: Weekes is rusty in his return

Renney absolved Weekes, who he again declared is his No. 1 goaltender, and criticized the team.

I guess Tom Renney is sticking with Kaz Ishii in nets.

from this week's issue of "duh" magazine

By way of Salon's review of Shopgirl:

Martin's performance is one of implacable, rubberized unhappiness; you get the feeling he saw Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation" and thought, "I can do that."

He can't, though.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

awesome

Kos links to a wonderful Rolling Stone profile of Rahm Emanuel, former Clinton staffer and current congressman from Chicago (and leader of the DCCC).

There are a lot of good anecdotes illustrating his bulldog ferocity, but what made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end were the key components of his vision for a Democratic platform that would retake the House next year:

But Emanuel knows Democrats will have to do more than make Republicans look bad if they hope to win back the House -- they must present a positive, forward-looking agenda of their own, one that inspires hope and confidence among voters. After DeLay was indicted, Emanuel appeared on Meet the Press and laid out several components of the agenda he believes Democrats should run on in 2006: universal college education, universal health care for anyone who works, bringing down the national debt and cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil in half within a decade. If expanded, such policies could form the basis of a Democratic version of the Contract With America, the weapon that Gingrich wielded to such devastating effect in his campaign to take control of Congress.

Awesome. Whether or not any of those wonderful-sounding things could actually be seriously addressed in 2007 and beyond (assuming the voters go for it next year), it's really, really, really cool to hear that kind of vision coming from a member of the party leadership - especially in the Age of Bush, in which all policy initiatives set forth by the GOP are tinged with (if not based upon) cynicism and greed. It's just so awesome to hear such an optimistic, confident Democrat talk and act like this while so many things are going wrong in this country under Republican leadership.

He's also enlisting former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler to run for Congress in North Carolina. So he's got that going for him.

Which is nice.

they've got a point

But they still lost. I'm going to assume that means I was right (especially if this starts some magical and/or wonderful run for the Islanders).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

the other shoe

There was a good column by The Sports Guy yesterday. He sympathized with Astros fans while expounding on his "levels of losing" in sports fandom. Being a New York sports fan and not rooting for the Yankees, I can empathize. I'm sure the Sports Guy would disagree with my "frustrated fan" status, as I imagine he sees all New York sports fans - Yankees fans or not - as the neighborhood saw Danny Aiello's Sal in Do the Right Thing. Which is fine, I guess; all I really want is for my teams to do well, and I don't really care how some New Englandah sees harried Mets fans like myself.

Despite the Rangers and Giants' good starts, despite the Mets' winning record in 2005 and despite a potential season of promise awaiting the Knicks, I know in my heart that none of these teams will ever make (let alone succeed in) the playoffs ever again. It's hard to explain - the law of averages says it's not even true, given enough time - but I'm so used to rooting for adrift franchises that I'm conditioned now. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, always. Within entire seasons, within individual games, within offseason moves - I just know that things will never, ever work out for the best.

Case in point - the Rangers, who last made the playoffs in 1997 and were everybody's preseason pick to finish next to last in the entire Eastern Conference, are pleasantly surprising; i.e., they're kicking the shit out of people. They have exciting young talent at the Garden and up in Hartford, and they've got a young kid in nets who has the potential to be a star. They're flying high and tonight they play their hated rivals - the Islanders - from whom they swept the 2003-2004 season series.

All of this can only mean two things. First, the Islanders are guaranteed to win tonight. You can put money down on that. Second, given that these are the Islanders, an organization that defines itself only by 1) four Stanley Cups won 800 years ago and 2) its hatred of the big bad Rangers (who haven't been big and bad since Bill Clinton was getting sworn in for a second term), means tonight's loss might be the one that sends the Blueshirts tumbling back to their proper station in NHL life. I know this because such a turn of events would be exceptionally sweet for the Islanders fan base, which takes delight in Rangers misery (especially when their team causes it), and would be just the type of insult-to-injury the sports gods seem to enjoy heaping upon the Mets, Giants, Knicks and Rangers. And even if tonight's isn't that loss, the inevitable turning point and the ensuing regression towards the mean fast approaches.

OK, "whiny" mode off. Go Rangers.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

my top four: philly restaurants

1) Monk's, 264 S 16th St. Though they're mocked in commercials for Sam Adams, places with Beer Bibles are actually pretty cool. Monk's has an extensive Beer Bible, but all you really need to know about this dark, laberynthine Belgian restaurant's commitment to excellent suds is that they've got Chimay on tap. The food is excellent, too; the pomme frites with spicy mayo might just be the best finger food in the entire city. I always get the Monk's burger, served with bleu cheese and carmelized leeks.

2) The Smoked Joint, 1420 Locust St. Self-described "Rock and Roll Barbecue"; the "self" in "self-described" being the two Long Island Whartonite founders who turned their love of BBQ into what they hope will become a upscale chain. Now, most of the words I just typed - if not all of them - in all combinations of clauses and/or sentences you could possibly jumble them, would normally indicate off-the-scale stinkitude. But this place rocks. (Almost) everything on the menu is smoked, including the pizza and the Reuben. Pickle brine and house BBQ sauce at every table. Jalapeno cornbread. Smoked corn-on-the-cob. Sweet potato fries. Ice cold lager. I love love love this place. Go with the pulled pork platter.

3) El Vez, 121 S. 13th St. Stephen Starr is the fucking man. Yes, I am a little concerned that one day all restaurants in Philadelphia will be his (I'm envisioning Starr's "reimagining" of the McDonald's near Penn on 40th street, which would probably involve an homage to what 1960s Japanese designers and artists thought fast food would look like in 1997), but for now, eating at a Starr joint is a treat. El Vez, as his marketers apparently tell us, is "Mexican-American meets East L.A. in a Tijuana taxi." Specialty margharitas, fresh guac made in the dining area (you can watch them put everything into a charcoal bowl and grind it all into creamy bliss) and crispy mahi-mahi tacos are muy bueno (See? Spanish! Because it's a Mexican restaurant! I'm an awesome writer!!!).

4) Bistro La Baia, 1700 Lombard Street. I think my apartment might actually be bigger than this Italian BYO. The food, though, proves that good things come in small packages (Wow, more great writing! Did you see how I set that up, and then slammed it home?!? Damn!). A seemingly perpetual special is one of my favorite dishes, with three kinds of yummy pasta - lobster ravioli in cognac sauce, gnocchi in pesto sauce, and linguine in mushroom cream sauce. There's probably better Italian food out there, but nothing beats picking out a bottle of wine with someone you love, walking through Rittenhouse Square over to Lombard, literally rubbing elbows with the people at the table next to you, and trying to decipher the waiters' thick Italian accents. It's all very cozy and comfortable.

Kris and I dined there on Friday night, and we sat next to a Penn student (at least, I'm 99.9% sure he was a Penn student) who was trying to impress what must have been a first date. She was dressed like Amy Fisher-meets-Punky Brewster (not that that really has anything to do with anything; and not that Amy Fisher isn't really just an older Punky Brewster). When his companion left for the restroom, he began asking people how to get to Rittenhouse Square - presumably so he could start making some moves.

I love Philly.

- Honorable Mentions: Cuba Libre, Alma De Cuba, Ludwig's Garten, Mama Palma's and the White Dog Cafe, where I had the best eggs I've ever tasted.
- Honorable Mentions of Restaurants Near Philadelphia: Border Cafe, Wilmington, DE. A looping soundtrack of Johnny Cash music plays in my head whenever I'm there.
- Honorable Mentions of Sandwiches Not Technically Served in Restaurants: Pat's cheesesteak (provie - provy? - with), Tony Luke's cheesesteak (sharp provolone with), the Restaurant School Special at Koch's Deli, and the Schmitter at Citizens' Bank Park. All no-brainers.
- Honorable Mention of Restaurant Rendered Obsolete by West Philly Gentrification (second letter down): FWOT. You were barely a restaurant (you had tables and chairs, so I guess you qualified), but damn - I miss your greasy, kick-ass wings and your ghetto flava. Come back, FWOT.

Monday, October 17, 2005

things I'd like to see

- Tom Selleck and Kirstie Alley reuniting on Broadway for a live stage production of "Runaway", with those dancers from the stage version of "The Lion King" playing the evil spider-like robots that inject poison into people. I would settle, however, for seeing Sir Anthony Hopkins do a one-man off-broadway version of "Freejack".

- Katie Couric inventing a teleportation device and testing it on herself on the "Today" show, only to emerge as a horrific half human/half insect creature, immediately leaping over to Matt Lauer and plunging her proboscis into his chest. Ideally, this would be followed by Al Roker talking sadly and philosophically about how we are all just "shadows and dust."

- A movie called "An Indie Buzz Machine: Seemingly Deep But Actually Shallow Truisms About the Alienation Inherent in Modern Life and Love Starring an Aging Actor Looking to Reinvent Himself and Set to a Soundtrack Comprised Solely of the Shins and Death Cab For Cutie." Oh, wait...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

motown philly back again

Hey! I'm back from my jaunt to the midwest, and I think - I think - my project went really well. We shall see. Plus, I can now say I've been to the states of Missouri and Ohio. Specifically, I visited...

1) The beautiful St. Louis, Missouri airport area. Kris and I talked much about getting to see the arch, which is located in downtown St. Louis. She did a little Googling while I was waiting for my flight yesterday, and it turns out the airport is so far away from downtown that - as I type this in New Jersey - I am currently closer to the arch than I was in St. Louis.

I stayed at the airport Marriott, which had its ups and downs. On the plus side, the lovely hotel staff let me use the front desk computer's DVD drive to check my work one last time, thereby making them the latest enabler of my slight case of OCD. But, the hotel lost points when the dude in the gift shop told me they didn't have any toothpaste(!).

I also tried the hotel restaurant's microbrew - Rock River Mountain Ale - which had a hint of vanilla to it. Nice. The Rock River Tavern, as it was called, also had slippery hardwood floors and high barstools, which offered some entertainment as at least two drunkards fell on their backs, got up, and started loudly explaining what happened to the whole place.

2) Earth City, MO., where my work was. If aliens ever came down and sought out Earth's capital city, I bet they'd end up here.

3) Cleveland. Well, just the airport, really, though I got a really good view from the plane of whatever Great Lake it's on. This airport, like St. Louis', had a "Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom" restaurant, which sounded both upsetting and totally made-up by middle schoolers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

quick, quick thoughts

- Can't talk much. Been prepping for a semi-surprise trip to St. Louis.

- The Yankees and Braves lose heartbreaking game fives in their respective division series, meaning that 1) October officially has turned into a month-long bath for Fox, and 2) this postseason might actually be enjoyable.

- I was only half-listening, but I think that when asked on the "Today" show about government planning for an Avian Flu pandemic, the president began reassuring us with a soothing "uhhhhh," added that the military cannot be used as a police force (huh?), and implied that the government's only plan is to sit with its proverbial thumb up its proverbial butt. Which is why it shocks me to hear people say that a man who's spent four years trying to scare the fuck out of us makes them feel "safe."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

game on

So hockey's back, and my team, the New York Rangers, somehow pulled a win out of its collective patoot last night. Of course, I didn't see it, as I turned the game off when the Flyers went up 3-1. Not that I particularly regret turning the game off - for one thing, I'm sure that there will be many, many, many 3-1 deficits the Rangers will fail to come back from this season, and turning off games will be a useful habit to acquire; for another thing, turning off the game enabled me to turn my attention towards helping my girlfriend pick out a sexy Halloween costume.

The restart of hockey is a little bittersweet for me. It's a game I grew up absolutely adoring. I threw myself into its history and tradition with absolute abandon. I revered the Original Six, the Expansion Six, the Stanley Cup, the golden age of the 1980s and the best year of NHL hockey ever - 1994, of course. I loved how hockey reflected its place and time - it could be at once a distinctly Canadian game meant for cold winter nights, a warm living room, comfy sweats and thick, syrupy lager (not that I drank much thick, syrupy lager growing up), and also an social game, meant to be enjoyed in good company (or, at least, enthusiastic company). Like baseball through the spring and summer, it marked time as we all slogged on through the colder seasons. It would never be as huge as baseball or football, but it didn't have to be - it was a charming, entertaining sport mindful of its past.

And then it all sorta spun out of control, leaving my fandom behind in a spray of ice. Whereas other leagues would weigh the question of expansion carefully, NHL teams multiplied like a virus (seemingly just so that the existing NHL owners could keep on collecting those sweet franchise fees), throwing the sport's competitive balance and the talent pool out of whack. Players with skill and creative minds drowned in a sea of guys who represented the new ideal in a hockey player - at least 6'3", at least marginal on skates, at least a semblance of playmaking ability, and could clutch and grab a lot. The ice shrank when the players grew, choking those who could provide the spark that catapulted the sport to success in the first place. Players began switching teams at a dizzying rate. And yes, my team, the Rangers, decided to take a decade-long sabbatical, with Madison Square Garden's head doofus Charles Dolan leaving the fate of its proud hockey franchise (and the franchise's passionate, beleaguered fans) in the hands of a has-been who would rather be fishing anyway (though to be fair, his frequent vacations means there's less time in which he can fuck things up).

So it might be a long, long time before I appreciate hockey again the way I used to. The sport has a lot of work to do. It has to reconnect with a history it disrespected, and it has to prove that it will let the cream of the league rise to the top, as it once did. Third-line checkers and grinders have their place (the third line, for instance), but no one wants to see a sport dominated by them. People, myself included, want to see skill and want to have fun, and it's not even the primitive desire to see cool shit like one-timers and breakaways go down (though that's part of it) - I think sports fans appreciate excellence in performance, and the NHL has to prove that excellence - not brute strength - will be its main requirement for on-ice success.

For what it's worth, it's always fun when one of my teams causes Philly fans to start booing their team (especially after coming back in droves following a year-long "fuck you"), so hockey's reboot can't be all bad.

the "46" presidency

In 1985, the Chicago Bears "46" defense laid waste to the rest of the National Football League. The philosophy was simple - blitz, blitz, blitz. And then more blitzing. Though the alignment was risky - 10 men (out of 11) within two yards of the line of scrimmage and only one safety back (in case a quarterback was lucky enough to get a throw off) - it paid huge dividends for the '85 Bears, who won 15 games in the regular season, stomped through the playoffs and won one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history.

The "46" defense was the brainchild of coordinator Buddy Ryan, who brought it with him to head coaching stops here in Philly and in Arizona. And though some of his defenses after 1985 were very good, his results were inevitably subject to the law of diminishing returns. For the strength of the "46" was not in its alignment, but in its personnel and in the context in which it was used. With defensive stars like Richard Dent, Mike Singletary and rookie sensation William "Fridge" Perry, the Bears had the perfect people to man the "46" - people who could actually get to the quarterback. And 1985 was the first time it was worked to perfection, instilling shock and awe in the hearts and minds of opposing quarterbacks and blockers who hadn't been subjected to anything quite like it before. It was the perfect storm - the men were right and the time was right, and it gave the Bears their only Super Bowl win.

But the "46" defense is hardly perfect. If the men in a defense that's implemented it can't get to the QB, there's virtually no protection against a big play. And even if they can get to the QB, offenses eventually adjust - making it impossible to line up in a "46" formation every time out. Today, no team exclusively plays the "46" (though the Ravens are trying this year, with mixed results). Defenses will show it from time to time, but most defensive coordinators also call for the traditional 4-3, for semi-traditional 3-4 packages, for nickel packages, dime packages, they call for zone blitzes, etc., etc.

Hold on, hold on... I know your eyes are glazing over, but I'm getting to my point. With falling poll numbers and scandals surrounding him, President Bush is addressing the nation with what his administration is calling a "major" address on the war on terror. In other words, he's calling for something straight out of the playbook of 2003 and/or 2004 - back when scaring the shit out of the nation could reverse dropping numbers or distract the populace from some other fuck-up or piece of bad news. Or when calling something "major" could trick the media into giving accordingly major airtime to his standard stump speech.

The two-pronged problem for Bush is this - 1) it's not 2003 or 2004 anymore, falling poll numbers and numerous scandals surround his White House and the GOP, the hurricanes have exposed this administration to some extent and the GWoT is hardly even in the news anymore, and 2) fear appeals inevitably lose their power if they're overused. Yet he's going to try to play the "terra" card once again - possibly because it's all he has left. Who knows?

All I know is that what once worked beautifully when the planets were in alignment now stands a good chance of going over like a fart in yoga class because the world has changed and he hasn't. I could be snarky and say his administration is stuck in a "pre-2005 mindset," but I'm just going to call his "the 46 presidency." When it was the right place and time for it, his governing style produced enormous amounts of political capital. And now, he's running right smack into the law of diminishing returns.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

a serious question

OK... here's the deal.

You're an ensign on the Starship Enterprise, and you beam down to a planet where the men all dress unfortunately. Uh oh! You've violated local laws by accidentally stepping on a plant or something while throwing around the indigenous equivalent of a Nerf football. A horrible fate awaits you within the local criminal justice system - you've been sentenced to have the soundtrack from a 1980s movie playing in your head for the rest of your life. The good news is, the locals will let you choose which movie the score will come from.

What's it gonna be? The locals immediately place the works of John Williams, James Horner, Alan Silvestri and Jerry Whatshisface (Goldschlager?) off-limits.

I've made my choice: the wacky, Burt Bacharach-fueled soundtrack from "Arthur." I'd link to Windows Media samples of the theme, but there is none that I can find other than that Christopher Cross shit. Though apparently you can buy the Japanese import version of the soundtrack on Amazon for $249.00. Take my word for it - it's totally worth it.

Right, so anyway, that's playing in my head. For the rest of my life. And there's really no worries; since I'm an ensign on the Starship Enterprise in this little scenario, I'll get therapy from Counselor Troi, who afterwards will inevitably pity me for my condition and try to cheer me up by seducing me. Which is cool, I guess, except for the strains of Arthur's Theme pounding the insides of my skull during the lovin'.

So what would YOU have playing in your noggin for the rest of your life?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

darn it



Long Beach Island, NJ
September 25, 2005