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


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...