Doing the E Street Shuffle

not bruce's best picture

To celebrate the fact that it looks like I’m going to the MoveOn Springsteen/REM concert tomorrow night, I’ve decided to name my favorite song off each of Bruce’s albums (not including his greatest hits/live stuff). By the way, Rolling Stone has a short interview with Bruce about the MoveOn concerts. On to the songs:

Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (1973)
Best Song: Lost In the Flood
Hey kid, you think that's oil? Man, that ain't oil that's blood.
Tough call on one of my three favorite Springsteen albums (along with Darkness on the Edge of Town and Nebraska). On an album full of vivid stories, Lost in the Flood’s the best.
Runner Up: For You

The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle (1973)
Best Song: Rosalita
My machine she's a dud, I'm stuck in the mud somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.
I know Rosalita is the song that is played most from this album, but it’s also the one I end up screaming along with every time. Sandy is the song I end up whispering along with, and screaming wins out every time.
Runner-Up: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)

Born to Run (1975)
Best Song: Thunder Road
As the radio plays Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, Hey that's me and I want you only.
Another tough call. This is the album that introduced me to Springsteen when I was just 6 years old. I doubt Thunder Road was my favorite back then (Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out probably was, with its tenth-tenth-tenth-tenth) but listening to Thunder Road you feel like you’re there with Bruce and Mary and all those boys she sent away.
Runner-Up: Jungleland.

Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
Best Song: The Promised Land
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man.
Another favorite, an album full of anthems and none are stronger than the Promised Land. Bruce sticking it to the man. Makes me want to tell my boss off, and I like my boss!
Runner-Up: Badlands

The River (1980)
Best Song: The River
For my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat.
Listening to this recently, I was surprised how poorly it has held up. Most of this double album is done in almost a retro-fifties style. The song the River deals with what happens when the young optimism of Bruce's early albums meets middle-aged reality. Cadillac Ranch is a joke song, but I’ve loved it since I first heard it. In 1980 everyone loved “Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am.”
Runner-Up: Cadillac Ranch

Nebraska (1982)
Best Song: Highway Patrolman
I got a brother named Franky and Franky ain't no good.
The third of my three favorite albums of Bruce’s. Definitely not one I loved when it came out. Have to be in the right mood to listen to it (surprisingly good to take on runs), but I love it every time. Highway Patrolman squeaks by Atlantic City (with its great opening line: Well they blew up the chicken man in Philly last night) because it’s such a cool story.
Runner-Up: Atlantic City

Born in the U.S.A. (1984)
Best Song: Glory Days
I hope when I get old I don't sit around thinking about it, but I probably will.
What can I say about Born In the USA? Still the only album of his I don’t have on CD. Even if I did love this album there’s no need to own it, half the songs are hopelessly stuck in my head. Bruce’s grand stab at the Billboard chart. Loved it when it came out, and then got sick of hearing it. Glory Days and Darlington County seem like the most authentic (least calculated) songs on the album. They sound like Bruce and the band having fun.
Runner-Up: Darlington County

Tunnel of Love (1987)
Best Song: All That Heaven Will Allow
Say hey there mister bouncer now all I wanna do is dance, But I swear I left my wallet back home in my workin' pants.
The most under-appreciated of his albums (at least by me). A lot of very good songs, but I still hardly ever listen to it.
Runner-Up: One Step Up

Human Touch/Lucky Town (1992)
Best Song: Pony Boy
Sky of dreams up above, my pony boy.
What it the wide wide world o’ sports was Bruce thinking on these two? Drop the E Street Band for session musicians? Ugh. I group them together because they came out the same day and because it’s easier to forget about them that way. Pony Boy is the best of them because it doesn’t sound like the rest.
Runner-Up: Better Days

The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995)
Best Song: Jonestown
Once I made you rich enough, rich enough to forget my name.
As much as I like Nebraska you would think I would love this one, but it has never connected with me. The stories aren’t as strong and there seems to be absolutely no hope on this one, where Nebraska at least ended with Reason to Believe.
Runner-Up: Straight Time

The Rising (2002)
Best Song: Lonesome Day
A little revenge and this too shall pass.

An album with a purpose. I wouldn’t doubt someone wants to take it to Broadway. An okay album, but most of the strength of it comes from the fact that the characters and stories are based on real events. So my two favorite songs off it are the ones that deal most with the pain of personal loss after 9/11.
Runner-Up: Empty Sky


Another Ten Things I Know I Think

1. I know I think that "Vertigo", the first single from U2’s upcoming CD How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is everything R.E.M.’s new stuff isn’t. It rocks, it’s fun (right from the uno dos tres catorce count-off), and it’s completely different from anything they’ve done before. Someone should send Michael Stipe a copy.

2. I know I think I beat Woody Allen to the punch. In this interview, he sounds like he read my Michael Moore post. He says:
Michael Moore delivered a powerful and successful piece of documentary with Fahrenheit 9/11. But the problem is that most of the people who liked it were people who thought like him. Me for example. But, even Moore didn't manage to influence the other side.
Not that I was the first person to ever think that.

3. I know I think that now that the Expos are moving to Washington they have to call themselves the Senators, and I know they won’t. I also think they should follow the Patriots and go with a red white & blue color scheme. This is a no brainer, but they probably won’t do this either since every new uniform seems to have to have black in it somewhere.

4. I know I think a great injustice has been done. The MacArthur Genius Grant winners have been selected and, once again, I wasn’t even nominated. Winners include a ragtime pianist, a high school debating coach, and a molecular biologist. Yeah, like a molecular biologist is smarter than me.

5. I know I think that it’s hilarious that Dubba’s hometown paper, the Lone Star Iconoclast, has endorsed Kerry. As much as the Boston Globe has criticized Kerry, I doubt they will reciprocate.

6. I know I think that people can crack on Cat Stevens’ music all they like; I still dig "Here Comes My Baby". (You might not want to click on that CatStevens.com link if you plan on flying anytime soon. You don't want that in your Patriot Act file).

7. I know that there is nothing cooler than having Norm Abrams show up at your work.

8. I know I think that the Thrill’s "Whatever Happened to Corey Hiam?" might end up my generation's “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?” and that’s pretty sad.

9. I know I think that the presidential debates shouldn’t be called debates if there are no rebuttals and no candidate-to-candidate questions. As NPR’s Connie Rice (not to be confused with the evil Condi Rice) puts it: that’s not a debate, that’s a news conference. Bush wanted this, and Kerry has to be ready for it. He can’t go into it like it’s actually going to be a debate.

10. I know I think that the world really really really doesn’t need a Barenaked Ladies Variety Show.


Once Upon a Time You Dressed So Fine

The new Newsweek cover reminds me of an old Steven Wright joke:

One day I got on the bus, and when I stepped in, I saw the most gorgeous blond Chinese girl. I sat beside her.

I said, 'Hi', And she said, 'Hi', and then I said, 'Nice day, isn't it?'.

And she said, 'I saw my analyst today and he says I have a problem.'

So I asked, 'What's the problem?' She replied, 'I can't tell you. I don't even know you.'

I said, 'Well, sometimes it's good to tell your problems to a perfect stranger on a bus.'

So she said, 'Well, my analyst said I'm a nymphomaniac and I only like Jewish cowboys... By the way, my name is Denise.'

I said, 'Hello, Denise. My name is Bucky Goldstein.'

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Bucky Goldstein:

cowboy up!


26 Things - September 2004

26 Things is a fun photographic game - no winners list, no prizes handed out. On a given date, 26 items are posted on the website and participants set out to photograph each item in their own interpretation. The 26 Things list for September is a very easy list intended to be a quick project for everyone who stumbles upon it. some themes have been taken from previous hunt lists, and some themes are new.

Click on photo to see my complete set.


Into the Mystic

I had watched Clint Eastwood' s Mystic River only two weeks before reading Dennis Lehane's novel, book number 48 as I endeavor 52 novels this year. While that may have taken the suspense out of this detective story, it wasn't what ruined the book for me. This is not a typical murder mystery. Mystic River isn't just about catching a killer; it's about what happens when the ripples caused by a child abduction of twenty years ago collide with those created by a current day murder.

I decided to read the novel even though I saw the movie because I wasn't that impressed by the movie. It was a well-acted film, but I thought that the writing had some weak points. I know that turning a 400-page novel into a 2-hour screenplay means weeding out some story so I was interested in what was left out. Unfortunately, very little was cut. The weak points of the movie were the weak points of the book. It tried to be about the struggles each of the three lead characters had with their wives, their families, their jobs, their neighborhoods, their pasts, and themselves. That sounds too ambitious, and it was. The book ended up too wordy in some places and too shallow in others.

The only other detective novel I've read this year was Jonathan Letham's Motherless Brooklyn. I would highly recommend that book.

Next up for me is Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Blogist Tourist.


Fantastic Planet of Football - Week 2

fantasy players wear teeny tiny helmets

Week 2:
Deep Threat 93, Three and Out 66

If current trends keep up, I’ll have to change the title of these Fantasy Football updates. (The title is a play on Marshall Crenshaw’s Fantastic Planet of Love). There's nothing fantastic about Three and Out starting out 0-2.

Last weekend I got creamed again, this time almost single-handily by Roy Williams. I will continue to get punished until Brian Westbrook crosses into the end zone. It probably didn’t help that I put in Washington’s D and benched Baltimore's.

This week the only changes I’ll make are going back to Baltimore’s D and putting Randy McMichael in at TE for the bye week resting Daniel Graham. I’ll have to stick with the questionable Warwick Dunn since my only other RB, the rarely used Willis McGahee, is also in a bye week.

Next weekend’s competition, the 1-1 Woolwich Eagles, has some roster holes to fill this week. As of today they still have the definitely out Kellen Winslow and questionable Edgerrin James in their lineup. Shhhhh, nobody tell them.


The Only Christmas Hint That Matters

nembutol numbs it all, but I prefer alcohol it's just a dream he keeps having, and it doesn't seem to mean anything

My wife says she already has an idea of what she's getting me for Christmas, but that doesn't mean you do! Only 93 more shopping days left.

Yesterday the greatest album ever, from the Only Band that Matters was reissued. The Clash's London Calling [Legacy Edition] includes the original album plus the previously unreleased "Vanilla Tapes," tapes made while the band was rehearsing the material that would become London Calling. Also included is a DVD documentary on the making of the album.

Also on my music wish list is The Wilco Book. Mostly a photo book but it also includes a 40-minute CD of unreleased material. That's scheduled to come out in November.

Wilco is perhaps the Only Band that Still Matters. Especially after hearing R.E.M.'s newest CD today. After two listens to Around the Sun I cannot get excited about this album. Which is ironic, since I'm sure the band put it out on the web two weeks before its release date to get people excited. I remember when a new R.E.M. album was an event, I would go out on my lunch break to get it that day. I don't think that has happened since Monster ten years ago. I'll give the new one a couple more listens before deciding, but so far it sound like more of the same.


Presidental Ticket

The missus and I went to see Michael Moore speak at the Tweeter Center in Camden last night and I came out of there with mixed feelings.

Believe it or not, I'm not a big fan of Michael Moore. Conservatives say he bends the truth to suit his position, as if Rush Limbaugh is the Keeper of the Truth. They say he is anti-American which, if you ever listen to Moore's message, is a crock. He is very Pro-American, almost too Pro-American at times. He just doesn't like their America. He dares to say that maybe we could learn some things from Canada (Canada!!!). That maybe CEOs might not have your best interests in mind. That guns kill people. Un-American! Watching these mental midgets get all worked up is the best part of Michael Moore's crusade.

A big problem I have with Moore isn't even his fault. It's that his targets are too easy. It's too easy to make jokes about the Bush/Halliburton ticket when these guys are walking jokes. It's hard to get into deep conversation about such a shallow president. Moore often beats the neo-con dead horse so thoroughly that you almost forget these people are immoral and start feeling bad for Rummy and Condi. Almost.

Moore is right that someone must point out the lies that this evil administration tells to those who still may vote for Bush, or just as bad, Nader. The so-called liberal (ha!) media isn't doing it. So he's spending a lot of his time doing these college talks, giving free tickets to students (he wants the "slacker vote") and charging just five bucks to others. But he's not the right person for it.

Last night's lecture was a case of preaching to the converted. That's the biggest problem. Worse, Moore is not a very good preacher. Moore is very funny but he's all over the place, rarely looking at his notes and often screaming obscenity-laced anti-Bush slogans. We who have no problem proudly calling ourselves liberals eat this stuff up. But it doesn't attract those on the fence.

Moore's movies are only now starting to attract the general public, and his live appearances aren't professionally edited like those documentaries. This was evident when he showed two Swift Boat parody ads that he said were made that day. They were so professional done and their message was so dead-on ridiculous that they looked like the real thing. This contrasted strongly with his disorganized train-of-thought lecture.

The night ended up being a pep-rally for liberals to go out and change people's minds, which is great. But it would be better if the speaker could more effectively send the message to the masses himself.

All in all it was still a fun night. Pep-rallies usually are.

P.S. It looks like Moore has posted his often-diverted-from speech from last night on his website.

P.P.S. Thanks to Mike for the tickets.

Update: The lecture made Yahoo News and the Gannett News.


Ten More Things I Know I Think

1. I know that Newsday's Jimmy Breslin is on to something when he points out that all those fluctuating presidential poll numbers are bogus since they don’t include cell phone numbers, missing out on, oh, about 170 million phones. That’s not a problem if you have a cell phone and a landline phone, but most young voters have just the cell. And young voters tend to skew Democratic. Unfortunately, these polls have the effect of keeping voters home if they don’t think their candidate has a chance. Move On’s get-out-the-vote hopefully will solve this.

2. I know that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences did something right when it gave the Best Reality/Competition Emmy to The Amazing Race for the second straight year. Survivor gets all the press, but Survivor often gets annoying, while the Amazing Race never stops long enough to get annoying.

3. I know that John Kruk escapes the wrath I usually have for former baseball players that become ESPN commentators (I'm looking at you, Rob Dibble). That’s because Kruk isn’t afraid to see something other than the player’s point of view. He doesn’t care what the player union thinks. If he doesn’t agree with the players, he says so.

4. I know that I always thought it was cool when a high school let their seniors have something other than the usual yearbook portrait (I remember that Moorestown Friends High gave each grad a full page for whatever picture they wanted). After seeing this site, I’m kind of glad HCHS didn’t let us.

Update: The senior portrait site has been pulled. Gotta act fast.

5. I know from the background of a British photo I saw that T.J. Maxx is called T.K. Maxx in Great Britain. What I don’t know is why.

6. I know I saw a lot of Run Against Bush shirts at PDR Sunday. I didn’t see any Bush shirts.

7. I know Todd Zeile should be congratulated on hitting (pun intended) the 2000 career hits mark this past weekend. Zeile had a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 1996. In fact, Zeile’s had more cups of coffee than a whole dormful of students during finals week. In the last 10 years Todd has played for the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Cards again, the Orioles, the Phillies, the Dodgers, the Rangers, the Dodgers again, the Marlins, the Rangers again, the Mets, the Rockies, the Yankees, the Expos, and the Mets again. What I love about Zeile is that after playing for all these teams, he singles out the Yankees as the team he never wants to play for again. My kind of player.

8. I know that my kids would enjoy the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery just as much as the Garden State Discovery Museum.

9. I know that Jim White has the coolest album title I’ve heard this year: Drill a Hole in the Substrate and Tell Me What You See. I just wish WXPN would play something other than “Static on the Radio” from it.

10. I know that my football guru, Peter King (from whose Monday Morning Quarterback column this post steals its form) picks the Eagles over the Vikings tonight, 30-21.



Accentuate the Negative

I'm the one in the green shirt (from 2003)

The Philadelphia Distance Run half-marathon was this morning. 13.1 miles. With some help from the beautiful running weather I finished just 3 minutes slower than my personal best of last year. Considering that my training this year has been much less intense than last year, I’m very happy with the results.

For the second year in a row I ran negative splits. For those of you who are not running geeks, that means I ran the second half of the race faster than the first half. Which is very good because it means I am pacing myself well and not falling apart at the end, something I often have a problem with. I did have a rough time at the mile 12 mark with about a mile to go, but I struggled through it and did all right.

Like I said, the weather was perfect - cool and sunny. The Schuylkill River (which the race circles) overflowed last night and the clean-up wasn’t quite complete. There was a point where you had to run about a half-mile in a quarter-inch of mud. Everyone’s backs were just splattered. I felt good for 12/13ths of the race and was in a good mood and joking and talking with people. Everybody seemed to be having fun. For some unknown reason the drummer who usually plays at mile 8 was missing! But the bagpipe player was there. These are two traditions that you come to expect at PDR.

Next up is the race I’ve actually been training for, the LBI 18 Miler on Long Beach Island, NJ October 10. Flat and straight from one end of the island to the other. I haven’t done well enduring the second half of this race. I have fallen apart at the 10-mile mark the last 2 years and dragged myself through the last 8. I’m hoping that by reducing the number of miles I’ve been running I won’t be worn out for the race. I’m also not as concerned about my time; I just want to have a strong second half.



rowan hall at night

Week 3:

Rowan got back to Division III competition and back over .500 today. The Profs beat the Western Connecticut Colonials in a blowout, outscoring WestConn 43-7 to better their record to 2-1.

The Profs have off next Saturday. On Friday night, October 1, they play their first conference game of the season, against the College of New Jersey Lions in Ewing. According to TCNJ's online student newspaper, as part of their Sesquicentennial Celebration the college changed the name of its mascot from Linus to Roscoe. No mention of whether or not the mascot has been told to stop acting timid but brainy and start chasing 'em Duke boys. Khee, khee, khee.

The college formerly known as Trenton State College raised a ruckus a few years ago by renaming itself The College of New Jersey. Seems Princeton University once went by that name but only for about, oh, 150 years. Anyway, what bugs me the most is that TCNJ actually uses the T of "the" in its initials. Why not just CNJ? If you're going to include the, why not of - TCONJ?

My high school alma mater, Holy Cross High, keeps on keeping on, trouncing cross-town rivals Delran 34-6 Friday night. Ouch. I was amazed to discover that Delran now has about the same number of students as Holy Cross. Back in the old days (twenty years ago) Holy Cross enrollment was about twice to size of Delran's. While a recent housing boom has boosted Delran's numbers, Holy Cross has been in a freefall lately. With this year's incoming freshman class they hope to start a rebound.


Photo Friday - 09.17.04

Each week Photo Friday posts a photo assignment. Your mission is the creative interpretation of the week's theme. When you're done, post the picture you took to your website and submit your link to Photo Friday.

Photo Friday is about challenging our participants to be original and creative within the constraints of the week's theme. It's not a competition. Anyone with a camera and a place on the internet to post pictures can participate.

This week's challenge: Domestic

Click on photo to enlarge.
click image to enlarge

I've seen many pictures with beautiful steel kitchen utensils, but the truth is we have more plastic than steel. I still think that the lighting, the pig, and the old teakettle give this a rustic flavor, even with the plastic.

Minnie Disc

minnie me

Just days after I mentioned her performance in Big Night ("And Minnie Driver looks great") I find out that Minnie has her first CD coming out next month. From the four full-song samples that I listened to at her website, she's not bad. Apparently she was close to signing a record contract before her big movie debut. I agree with the Guardian's Alexis Petridis who wrote that she sounds like an alt-county Dido. Her backing band is made up of members of Pete Yorn's band and the Wallflowers, two bands I'm not exactly fond of, but I didn't hear anything like those bands in her samples. I'll reserve my judgment until I hear more, especially her cover of Springsteen's Hungry Heart.


Don't Take Any HUMONGOUS Nickels

holy moly!

Has the US Mint not learned anything from the Susan B. Anthony and the Sacagawea coin failures? Today they rolled out the design for the new nickel, to come out next year. I'm sorry, but unless Dockers is designing new khakis with huge pockets, I just don't see people using coins this large.

Talk about big government.

Moon-Age Daydream

Several times during my trial to get through 52 novels this year I’ve ridden the elevator, holding my current read, and been asked "what are you reading now?" That’s the easy part; what I dread is the follow-up, "what’s it about?" The ride’s short so I try to give them a one-line answer. Some novels just aren’t made for this. "It’s about a detective that has Tourette Syndrome." "It’s about a old couple driving from Baltimore to Pennsylvania." "It’s about an opera singer who gets taken hostage with a bunch of guys in Peru." These quick descriptions are usually met with blank stares and repeated pushs to the door open button. Novels just don’t lend themselves to easy descriptions like non-fiction. John Adams is 752 pages, but it only takes two words to describe what it's about.

Book number 47, Ira Sher’s Gentlemen of Space, is one of those tough-to-explain novels. It’s about an everyman sent to the moon on a NASA mission and goes missing. But of course, it’s about more than that. Most of the book is told from the perspective of the astronaut’s nine-year-old son as he looks out on and lives through the spectacle of media and space fanatics encamped outside his apartment building. It’s about hero-worship, and it’s about disillusionment, and it’s about escape, and a lot of other things and probably even more stuff that I missed.

It is not an easy book to read. Everything is described in such a poetic way that if you try to fly over any sentence you only end up having to read it again. The reader must stop and absorb one line before tackling the next. It’s a dreamlike story where anything is bound to happen. The author somehow makes even the most absurd events, like the remaining astronauts camping outside the apartment building in their spacesuits, seem very believable. This often takes even more deep prose to illustrate what is happening. I understood the author’s desire to say something deeper with his story but such wordiness got to be a burden on the flow of the story.

Which is not to say I didn’t like the book. It was a good story and, again, somehow very believable. It was Sher’s debut novel and it would be interesting to see if he learns to streamline his writing in his next work.

I have finally, finally started Mystic River, and today picked up Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist and Nick McDonell’s Twelve from the library. I figured I should read Tourist since this blog takes its name from it. McDonell wrote Twelve when he was seventeen (follow that?) so I’m curious about that book.


Watch It

"People like to put the television down, But we are just good friends" - Talking Heads "Television Man"

I hate to have two television-related posts in a row, lest you think that all I do is watch TV, but last night was the season debut of ESPN's Dream Job and now tonight is the season debut of the best football show on television, HBO's Inside the NFL. I usually tune out most of what the hosts are saying (and I check out HBO2 any time Wanda Sykes comes on); the NFL Films highlights are what I'm waiting for. I'm no longer a big fan of Harry Kalas during Phillies broadcast, but he is perfect on the highlight reels (and I couldn't imagine Chris Wheeler replacing John Facenda in the role). Plus, Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback, Peter King, is the show's managing editor and is on it every week (you may have noticed I like this guy).

As for Dream Job, Rowan grad Brian Startare barely made it out of week one. The call-in vote wanted him out, but the judges saw enough potential in him to keep him on for now.

Since I was busy coaching my son's soccer practice I missed the first half of the show, but I did get to see Brian Startare and Valerie Hawrylko's "My SportsCenter" segments and they were both awful. From what I've read, Valerie did well in the sports debate segment and Brian didn't. The four other contestants that went this week looked good when they replayed their highlights, but eventual loser Joe Voyticky must have been really bad to be judged worse than the two contestants I saw.

From what I saw, judge Stephen A. Smith was surprisingly understated and Woody Paige was just as bad as I expected. He hated Brian's segment, but didn't give a single reason why. Usually the judges give the contestants constructive criticism so they can improve as the show goes on. Woody wouldn't do that. He was so brutal that follow judge Kit Hoover gave him a nasty look the whole time he spoke.

The novelty of the show hasn't worn off in the second season (okay, maybe telling the losers, "Coach wants to see you in the locker room; bring your playbook" has gotten more annoying). I'll keep watching, and maybe even remember to tape it so I don't miss half of it next week.


Dream On


Tonight at 7:00 is the premiere of season two of ESPN's Dream Job. Last winter this was on late Sunday nights, so I would tape it and watch it while running on the treadmill Monday mornings. 7:00 Tuesday night is much better, although it will mean missing Good Eats once a week. My two-year-old son, a big Alton Brown fan, isn't going to like that.

It's easy to pick who to root for: Follow Rowan grad Brian Startare. I'm not crazy about his three things he would take on a desert island:

1. a "bottomless keg"
2. Heather Locklear
How old are you, Dude? She's like 60.
3. a volleyball - a la "Wilson" from Castaway
Dude, Tom Hanks prefers that you forget that movie.

but he is a Prof, so I'll stick with him. Plus there aren't any cute girls in it this time.

Stuart Scott comes back as host, continuing his hiatus from SportsCenter until he comes up with something - anything! - to replace Boo-Ya. ESPN Talent VP Al Jaffe and perky Cold Pizza host Kit Hoover return as judges. The other two judges, replacing Washington Redskin LaVar Arrington and Pardon the Interruption's Tony Kornheiser, are the Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen A. Smith and the Denver Post's Woody Paige, two guys who shout anytime they have a camera in front of them. If I stop watching Dream Job, it'll be because of these two chowderheads.

Fantastic Planet of Football - Week 1

fantasy players wear teeny tiny helmets

Week 1:
Fourth and Inches 70, Three and Out 53

I knew it was going to be a bad Fantasy Football weekend for Three and Out when my Baltimore defense did worse for me than Kansas City (!!!) did for my opponent. Even with T.O.'s great game, I could not recover from Shawn Alexander's unbelievable day. Brian Westbrook did very well but failed to score, so he didn't get me many points.

It's going to be a week of tough decisions for ol' Three and Out. My whole second string may need to be trashed. Next weekend we're looking at Deep Threat with Payton, Marvin Harrison, LaDainian Tomlinson, Quentin Griffin and David Akers. Ugh.


One Word, Two Definitions



From Merriam-Webster Online:
Main Entry: ox·y·mo·ron
Pronunciation: "äk-sE-'mor-"än
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural ox·y·mo·ra /-'mor-&/
Etymology: Late Greek oxymOron, from neuter of oxymOros pointedly foolish, from Greek oxys sharp, keen + mOros foolish
: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly : something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements

From me:
Smokey and the Bandit II was on American Movie Classics tonight.

Ten Things I Know I Think

1. I know that this post is a blatant rip-off of Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback Peter King's Ten Things I Think I Think. I think my title sounds more definite. I know what I think, Peter only thinks what he thinks. All this thinking is hurting my brain.

2. I know that the funniest part of ESPN's 25th anniversary show was anything having to do with Charlie Steiner. I forgot how funny he was. I do remember that he was great at calling baseball games for ESPN radio. Unfortunately he has now gone over to the dark side, working for the Yankees on the YES Network.

3. I know that that the Anaheim Angels Chone Figgins is just one in a long list of centerfielders whose names you can't say without laughing (joining Milton Bradley, Choo Freeman, Coco Crisp, and Nook Logan).

4. I know that I wanted to add The Graduate to my list of great movies you probably haven't seen, but I wasn't sure how well seen it really was. It's an older movie (older than me) but Bravo has been showing it at odd hours lately, so movie number one on my list of great movies you may have seen is: The Graduate.

Great line: [Buck Henry as the hotel clerk]: "Are you here for an affair, sir?"

5. I know that my son beat me in writing about my debut as his soccer coach. I had a lot of fun doing it (I'm an assistant coach, so there's not a lot of pressure on me on game day). More importantly, my son liked having me there. Somehow being his coach made me less critical of him and made me enjoy watching the game much more. I'm also lucky that the team is made up of well-behaved kids.

6. I know that after watching the Eagles' first game in my neighbor's driveway (yes, there's a TV in his driveway) that Miller Lite is just as bad, if not worse, than Coors Light. I did not think this was possible. Of course, I can't complain unless I'm paying. If I were to pay, I would pick Miller over Coors because Miller only jokes about politics, while Peter Coors is actually running for senator as a Republican (talk about the dark side!).

7. I know that I will unrealistically believe that the Phillies still have a chance to make the playoffs until the day they are officially, mathematically, eliminated. But of course that day will never come, right? Right?

8. I know I'm a little late with this, but the Democrats should have pounced on the fact that the Swift Boat boys all started with Nixon's dislike of the anti-war Kerry, and should have made the main talking point of Schwarzenegger's convention speech the bizarre fact that he said that he became a Republican because of Nixon and the GOP crowd went wild. Democrats have to step carefully around Clinton's legacy but the Republicans can name drop Nixon?!?

9. I know that if the Expos and Marlins were forced to play against each other in Philly, I would want to go to the game. The teams will play two games originally scheduled in Florida in Chicago instead because of Hurricane Ivan. While Major League Baseball has played games in Japan and Puerto Rico, I don't know if there's ever been a "neutral site" game in the U.S. [Update: 4003 fans attended the first NL game played on an AL field since 1946. U.S. Cellular Field holds 40,000.]

10. I know that it's tough to come up with ten items for a list like this. My hat's off to Peter King.


Fry, Eagles, Fry

We are ready for some EAGLES football! (Not really Irving Fryar.)

II Much

the new library

Week 2:

Division II Southern Connecticut showed Division III Rowan the difference between the two divisions: 24 points. The Owls beat the Profs 51-27 in a game played at Glassboro High School (Rowan's $1 Million synthetic turf replacement is not yet complete).

Next Saturday at 1:00 the Profs are thankfully back to playing within their division in Danbury, CT against the Western Connecticut Colonials. WestConn's website brags that 90% of their grads are "satisfied to very satisfied" in their new careers. When I graduated college I was satisfied just having a job!

On a brighter note, my high school alma mater, Holy Cross High, clobbered Northern Burlington, 42-14 Friday night.


Lies and Consequences

After finishing Caramelo, a tale that adds “healthy lies” to a family story, I moved on to Maile Meloy’s Liars and Saints, a story about a family story affected by its unhealthy lies.

The quickest read so far in my journey through 52 novels was book number 46. I ripped through this 260-page book in a little over a day. Coming on the heels of slow moving Caramelo, it felt great to pick up such a quick read.

Like Caramelo, Liars centers on several generations of a family, this one being a Canadian-American family. While the story touches on ancestry in Canada, it mainly stays California-based. The story deals with the life of a deeply catholic couple that starts a family in the post-World War II era. The mother tries to keep the family from harm by covering up a teen pregnancy. Her deception snowballs into other deceptions and finally the truth comes out and must be confronted. The book deals with faithfulness to the church and to the family. An amazingly readable story, and a great debut novel from Meloy.

I've now moved on to Ira Sher's Gentlemen of Space, thankfully not the story of generations of a family. It's a story of an everyman who is picked to fly to the moon and doesn't return. So far it's pretty good. Still waiting for my wife to finish Mystic River!

Searching for the Great Pumpkin

Catching up on a lot of posts today:

Just finished my six pack of Smuttynose Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale last night and I have to say I wasn't all that impressed. Reviews on RealBeer.com talked about its subtle pumpkin and spice flavor, but it was a little too subtle for me. I'm not looking for a pumpkin pie taste, but I didn't taste or smell anything resembling pumpkin or spices. It wasn't a bad tasting beer, but it wasn't what I was expecting.

I may search out another pumpkin ale before the fall is over. And on the strength of their Old Brown Dog ale, I'll keep trying other Smuttynose brews.

Kinda Kinky

I just saw the new HP commercial that uses the Kink's "Picture Book" as the soundtrack. I have mixed feelings about this. I never like seeing cool songs in commercials (perhaps the worst being "All Day and All of the Night" for Jolly Rancher) and I love "Picture Book". But it's not like I ever hear the song on the radio, so at least I get to hear it. And I'd rather have a cool Kinks song than another commercial with a Moby soundtrack.

It will all be worth it if it helps turn people on to the songwriting genius of Ray Davies.

Five Great Movies You Probably Haven't Seen

Following the lead of Middie Back! here are five great movies you probably haven't seen:

5. Big Night - Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci playing brothers running an authentic Italian restaurant, no matter what the customers may want. A great, quiet, funny movie. And Minnie Driver looks great.

Great line: "Sometimes the spaghetti likes to be alone."

4. The Candidate - A movie about an innocent idealist thrown into the slime of a political campaign. Unfortunately, always in vogue. With Robert Redford in the role of John Edwards Bill McKay.

Great line: "Now what?"

3. Night Shift - Ron Howard's first time in the director's chair. Michael Keaton's first movie. Fonzie playing a dweeb. A very funny movie where you can tell everybody had fun making it. Keaton and Henry Winkler run a prostitution ring out of the city morgue, and Shelley Long is actually very believable as a hooker. Go figure.

Great line: "That Barney Rubble, what an actor."

2. Tin Men - Glengarry Glen Ross going for laughs. The only time Danny DeVito played a slimeball on a human scale. Has the same sharp back-and-forth dialogue as Diner. Part of the Barry Livenson Baltimore trilogy.

Great line: "I'm gonna tell you something. 'Bonanza' is not an accurate depiction of the West . . . You ever see the show? It's a fifty-year-old father with three forty-seven-year-old sons. You know why they get along good? 'Cause they're all the same age."

1. Nobody's Fool - A great movie based on Richard Russo's great book. Some of Paul Newman's best work. Everybody is just dead on. Even Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith, and I hate Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith.

Great line: "Ollie, you know my feelings about arming morons: you arm one, you've got to arm them all, otherwise it wouldn't be good sport."


Short Story Long

When I had resolved to read 52 novels this year, I had no problem with the prospect of skipping non-fiction for a year. I had read some very good non-fiction last year (such as Michael Lewis' Moneyball) but I thought that it would be fun to restrict myself to the world of make-believe (although I guess you could have that in some non-fiction books, too).

Right off the bat I unintentionally kind of cheated by picking Mark Winegardener's Crooked River Burning as my first novel of the year. It was, I think, the first "historical novel" (a novel that mixes historic facts into it's story) that I've read since maybe the Crucible in high school (not that I read a lot of novels between high school and last year). Winegardener's book weaves the story of two people falling in love against the background of Cleveland history. That might not seem like the most interesting or romantic scenario, but Winegardener writes a very personal story interspersed with short narratives about Cleveland's famous and infamous citizens. That these historic sidebars are heavily footnoted add to their authenticity and make the fictional parts of the book seem more real.

So sticking to fiction is not a problem for me. No, the biggest dilemma I see my "novel-only" resolution creating is coming in October, when the Best American Short Stories series releases the 2004 issue. Before I started really liking novels, I really, really liked short stories, and this anthology is always fantastic. I was resigned to having to wait until I finished these 52 novels before picking up Best American Short Stories 2004.

Then I read novel number 45 in my mission to read 52 novels, Sandra Cisneros' Caramelo. This 440-page book reads like a extended short story. On top of that, it reads like a historical extended short story. Just like Crooked River Burning, it employs footnotes for the historical parts. Caramelo takes you through several generations of a Mexican family whose story shifts from Chicago to Mexico City to San Antonio and back to Mexico City and Chicago, with pit stops all over America and Mexico. Where Crooked uses its annotations only during its historical interludes, Caramelo uses them throughout the book to explain Mexican-American culture or offer mini-biographies of famous people who serendipitously end up in the family history.

More than any novel I've read this year, this book did not appear to be in any rush to get where it was going. It didn't seem to include any major plot points or work up to a major climax. I don't mean for that to be as critical as it sounds. It was simply the (pretty much true) history of a family. I think it was the breeziness and poetry in Cisneros' writing that gave the book the short story feel. But it was not a slight book. When I finished it and looked back on the story I realized that there were many major plot points in it, it's just that Cisneros didn't hit me over the head with them.

In Winegardener's Crooked River Burning, we have no reason to doubt what he is telling us about his protagonists is the true story. History is History. But with Caramelo, you know that family history is actually family storytelling, and there's no problem telling a "healthy lie" (as the narrator's father puts it) if it helps the story. These myths somehow help centuries of stories weave together seamlessly. Ironically, the only time the novel feels disjointed is when the story centers on the narrator, as she goes through puberty. But that is a short diversion and a minor objection.

So, how did I like the book? While I was reading it, I actually wasn't sure. It took me a relatively long time to get through the book. I think that was caused by the book's laid-back feel and its lack of the strong backbone of a gripping tale. I ended up reading a few pages at a time, with very little pushing me to want to read on and on. But after finishing the book I found that I did enjoy "cheating" and reading a short story, no matter how long it was, as a break from reading novels. The historic bits about Mexican-American history from the Mexican viewpoint were very interesting and the storytelling is on a personal scale and often very funny. But for this family's story to be considered a novel I think it would have to be more concrete. More propelled. Like many of the short stories I've read in anthologies like Best American Short Stories, this was a very interesting little story that I enjoyed while I was reading it, but after moving on becomes part of the collective "short stories" that I may not remember but makes me a fan of short stories.

Now I have started Maile Meloy's Liars and Saints, a very quick read. I had intended to read Mystic River, but my wife took it from me and now I have to wait for her to get through it (after seeing the movie, I don't imagine it's a light read).


Looking a Gift Vendor Table in the Mouth


In my mailbox at work on Friday, for the first time ever, was a 4imprint catalog. 4imprint sells "imprinted promotional products" a.k.a. that crap they give out at the vendor tables at conferences. I can only guess that I have received this catalog because I manned a table at a GIS conference last March, but I have nothing to do with ordering these things. I gave out my company's pens at that conference and I couldn't believe how excited people got about cheap free pens.

I don't attend a lot of conferences, but the ones I do seem to have way too much "vendor showcase" time. So I have given quite a bit of my conference time seeking out the best giveaways. Here are my rankings:

Good: Nice pens. The kind that I'll get upset about when someone walks off with it. Or one that's just cool looking.

Better: Anything beer related. I don't even know if symmetryny.com is still around, but I've been using their bottle opener every weekend for the last four years. And although I've never actually seen one at a conference, if you were to give me a pub glass I would probably throw some business your way.

Best: Anything I can bring home for the kids. This saves me the trouble of shopping for something to bring something home to prove that I actually thought of my kids while I was gone. My conferences aren't always held in what you would call destinations. They are often held at state universities and I usually end up buying t-shirts for my boys, and university bookstores aren't known for their low prices. Stress balls are big hits. A calculator is good, too - the 7yo knows how to use it and the 2yo thinks it's his very own PDA. Compasses are cool, though I barely know how to use one, let alone my kids. Rubber ducks are a big hit with the bubble bath age group and look good on my desk if I can snag an extra. In fact, most kids stuff looks good on my desk.

Bad: Cheap Pens. Your name is going to be associated with this junk. Do you really want someone cursing your name when that pen falls apart, stops writing mid-sentence, or explodes all over them? This also includes pens that aren't going to be used. I thought those three-sided hi-lighters were bad, but now they have five-sided ones. How are you supposed to hold these things?

Worse: Things that look okay at a conference, but are too dorky to use in the real world. I don't need any more help looking dorky. There's a reason I keep my ID in my pocket until the guard asks me for it. Because lanyards look geeky. And Canvas Totes? You're kidding me, right? Again, do you really want your name associated with something this lame? What are you, PBS?

Worst: Things I only need one of, and I've already got it. Sport Bottles. Ugh, do you know how many of these things I have? In addition to the conferences, every race gives these things away in their goodie bags. For the love of God, no more sport bottles. And no more really nice Business Attaches. I feel bad when I get one of these, because I know two things: 1. Someone spent a lot of marketing money on them and, 2. I have absolutely no use for them. I (like most people) already have a bag for work, and it has the added benefit of not having your company's logo on it (unless your company is G. H. Bass and Co.). These things are too nice to just throw out so I hang on to them just in case something happens to mine. After two years I dump them into the Goodwill bin.

On second thought, forget it kids, I'm keeping that Pocket Etch-A-Sketch for myself!

And These Blinds, Do They Go Down?

Via Farm Accident Digest, which is not, from what I can tell, actually a weblog documenting farm accidents: look out the window of the third picture down.


Photoblog - Haddonfield, NJ (September, 2004)

Click here to view Photos.


Rowan Smokes Newport

beautiful, bucolic, Bunce

This just in:

Week 1:
Rowan University Profs 33
Christopher Newport University Captains 32

So far, so good. And that was against a team where every player is a Captain!

Next up: Southern Connecticut State University Owls (Saturday, September 11 1pm). The Owls vs. the Profs! Owl vs. Owl! Buho a Buho!

I have to say, their owl looks a lot scarier than our owl. Man, division 2 gets all the cool mascots.


Insert Winona Ryder joke here.

Pitchfork Music News reports that the Seattle band Shoplifting has had all of their guitars and drum hardware stolen while on tour in Queens. Now, how are they going to replace all those instruments? Hmmm... let me think. All I know is if I owned a music shop anywhere near NYC I would watch these guys very closely. Also, the band is reportedly thinking of changing their name to Loss Prevention.

Okay, I made that last part up.


While in NYC, Be Sure to Stay at the Plaza Hotel

click for more pictures


No Thank You, Ray

Earlier this week, after hearing the Ray Charles/Van Morrison duet of "Crazy Love" on Ray's posthumous Genius Loves Company CD, I wanted to write an entry about how great the song sounds. Ray sounds great as always, but Van the Man sounds fantastic. He sounds as if he loves the song and is having the time of his life singing with Ray. Van Morrison is notoriously hit-or-miss live (the song was recorded live at the Songwriter Hall of Fame awards), but his singing on this version of "Crazy Love" is all hit and no misses.

I was going to say that the song is so good that it has almost washed the bad taste of Ray's Powerball lottery commercials ("It's America's game, the one and only...") out of my mouth. While any lottery commercial (or hyperbolic local news coverage of mass ticket buying) makes me ill, it was depressing to watch Ray happily and enthusiastically sing a ditty for a venture that is basically a tax on the mathematically challenged. I thought that Ray's endorsement of gambling was over with his death, but after going to his website it turns out I may be wrong.

On a page that looks like satire straight out of the Onion, an August 2001 press release announced a "development agreement" between Ray Charles and Bally Gaming. Bally's developed three slot machines with Ray's likeness: "Ray's Jukebox," "Ray Charles' America the Beautiful," and, I kid you not, "What'd I Pay" featuring "the Payettes". Ugh. The press release goes on to say that, at Ray's insistence, these slot machines include "the option of offering audio-assist features and a Braille button deck that will allow visually impaired players the opportunity to experience the games." Truly robbing someone blind.

I don't go to casinos (though I have no problem with those who do), so I don't know if these slot machines are still on the casino floors. But if they are they are sure to become part of what people think of when they think of the "Genius" of Ray Charles (and if you don't think that's true try to think of Orson "Citizen friggen Kane" Welles without thinking of his Paul Masson "no wine before its time" commercials). It makes me wonder just how hard up for money Ray was to mar his legacy this way.

Change is Good

In his Slate article today, William Saletan gives his take on the GOP argument that Bush is a good president because he "stands firm":
I'm no huge fan of John Kerry. He sees two sides of every one-sided issue, and four sides of every two-sided issue. But the alternative is a president who sees one side of every issue, no matter how many sides it has. Given the how many sides there usually are, and given how little effort Bush makes to learn about each issue, the odds are that, on average, he'll pick the wrong side. The record of the last four years shows that he has done precisely that. But because Bush refuses to "waver," as Schwarzenegger charitably puts it, we keep going in the wrong direction. The only way to stop such a president is to vote him out of office. Fortunately, an election is coming.
I mostly agree with Saletan, although I think by making this statement he admits to buying into the Republican illusion that Bush never changes his mind. This isn't true. Bush has actually wavered - or as the GOP would say "waffled" - on many issues (such as his opposition to the creation of a Homeland Security Office and a 9/11 Commission). Where the "never changes" illusion comes in is after wavering, he acts as if his new stance has always been his stance. Change, to him, is bad. Often the only time he "stands firm" is when the stars align and the far-right and some bizarre poll results agree with his stance (like when he continually implied that Iraq had something to do with 9/11). Unfortunately, important issues such as going to war and same-sex marriage are being decided on quite loopy poll results and the always loopy far-right.

Kerry may not be the best at expressing this, but many of his so-called "flip-flops" come after situations have changed. The 50-cent gas tax was a good idea 10 years ago when he proposed it but it's not a good idea now, so he's no longer for it. "No Child Left Behind" sounded great when he voted for it and now that Bush has failed to fund it Kerry is rightfully against it. These aren't flip-flops, or taking every side of the issue, but changes in position after thoughtful and careful analysis of the issues as they stand now, and I have no problem with that.

Update: Slate writer Chris Suellentrop gives more examples of Bush's lack of stubbornness:
The biggest fib the president says on the stump is, "When I say something, I mean it." Did he mean it when he said that no matter what the whip count, he would ask for a second vote at the Security Council before going to war with Iraq? Did he mean it when he was against a Department of Homeland Security? Did he mean it when he opposed the creation of a 9/11 commission? Did he mean it when he opposed McCain-Feingold? Did he mean it when he said troops shouldn't be used for nation-building? Did he mean it when he said he planned to use his presidency to strengthen international alliances? Does he mean it when he says, "It's the people's money, not the government's money"? If so, then why does he spend so much of it?
That list doesn't even include the recent "We can't win this war"/ "We can win this war" flip.

The GOP aren't the only losers in NYC this week.

I've never loved the Cleveland Indians more.