To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

A little juvenile humor

Every once in a while, more often for certain people, you just have to go with what life gives you and laugh, even if it's silly and puerile.

For instance, even non-baseball fans will agree with me when I say that today's Toronto v. Yankees game is of historic import.

Yesterday, there was Mulder/Hudson (Mulder won), and Clemens/Maddux (Maddux won).

But what will today bring in the epic matchup between . . . drumroll . . . .

David Bush and Chien-Ming Wang?

That's right.

Bush v. Wang.

I'll just leave it at that.

Updates on Bush v. Wang later.

Friday, April 29, 2005

From a Small Planet Somewhere in the Vicinity of Betelgeuse

I had a very nice day today. Want to hear about it?

Ok then.

Journalism class consisted for watching a video about women in journalism, so nothing incredibly exciting there (in terms of what I did or did not know already). I did take exception to this one woman with horrible teeth though. In any case, I went and got my car (known as the Honda of Doom) from A-Lot and drove into Lebanon, where I interviewed my yoga instructor for a profile I have to write for journalism class.

It was actually a very interesting interview, because my yoga instructor is a very interesting person.

The real cause of my good mood though, is the fact that it's a wonderful day out, and it was nice driving with the window down today.

So after my interview ended at about 3:00, I drove back to town, and thought to myself, "self, you should go see a movie. Don't go home and take a nap. Besides, you can park in town or in front of CVS for an hour, so you won't risk getting a ticket by parking behind Dartmouth Hall."

Twenty minutes later, I found myself in front of the Nugget, having not paid for parking in town because I parked in front of a broken meter, waiting in a very small queue with some other people for the first showing of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

I am a huge fan of The Hitchhiker's Guide books. I read them sometime around 8th or 9th grade I believe. The first two were wonderful excersises in British humour and absurdity, and I enjoyed them thoroughly. The last few tended to wander a little too much plot-wise, and were less enjoyable. Actually, the first two tended to ramble as well, but the rambling tended to be more endearing and amusing than annoying.

I was, like many other fans, concerned when the news about the movie came out. The casting of Mos Def didn't do much to assuage people's fears, and most people were just afraid that they would butcher the first book, or at least not do Adams' material justice.

Walking out of the theater, I can say I got pretty much what I expected - a healthy dose of absurd British humour somewhat loosely tied together by a plot given to madcap dashes rather than progressive steps.

Given the source material, it was translated decently, although some elements did get too much screen time (John Malkovich), and others not enough (Alan Rickman as the voice and Wicket as the body of Marvin the Manic Depressive Robot), and some of the humor is better suited for radio or text rather than film.

That said, I can't think of a hard text to translate to film, both because of its cult fan following and the fact that the text itself is more disjointed than the grunts in a Jet Li fight scene.

Overall, it was a movie I'm glad I paid 6.00 for and not full price, but one I'm glad I saw.

Done with film watching for the day, I got my car, and parallel parked perfectly right in front of Wheeler, my dorm, further reinforcing what I already suspected - that it's a good day today.

Also, I found this link, which tells of the hubbub caused by a large burrito. No joke. Fun stuff.

All I know is that this kid, who, as an extra credit assignment, designed a restaurant that made extra large burritoes, has an extremely bright future.

Because anyone who walks into school with a "30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and tomatoes" is okay in my book.

Now all that's left to do is watch the St. Louis v. Atlanta baseball game (Mulder v. Hudson) and eat some food, possibly EBA's if I feel lazy again, which is looking less improbable by the minute.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Top Ten

I mentioned to my journalism professor today that fan interference at sporting events really isn't anything new. One might argue that violence is up, but even that is rather tentative, considering Ty Cobb is dead. I did mention fans like Morgana the Kissing Bandit, who, in the early and mid eighties, made a name for herself running onto the field to try to kiss baseball players.

That got me thinking along different lines. I remember that Morgana was a running (literally) gag in Letterman Top Ten lists. Not surprising, but when I checked it out, I was surprised at how well they've aged overall.

For example, this one is nice and timeless:

December 27th, 1990

Top 10 Reject Bowl Game Titles

10. The Ben-Gay Bowl
9. The White Guys All-Star Game
8. The Cupless Classic
7. The Festival of Big Sweaty Men on Steroids
6. I Don't Think It's a Fracture But I Can't Be Sure Until We Take
Some X-Rays Bowl
5. Saddam Hussein's Scrimmage unto Death
4. The Guys Who Came Really Close To Passing Their Drug Test Classic
3. The Tournament of Hoses
2. Sissy Boy Slap Party
1. Manute Bowl

Considering that we have things now like the Cornchip and Salsa Bowl in NCAA football, or whatever, this was a pretty farseeing Top Ten list. The Manute Bol reference is slightly old, but still. . .

In fact, there are very few shocking facts that jump out when perusing the old (1987-1993) Top Ten lists. And of course, I will present them as a top ten list (that isn't really that funny).


Top Ten Things I've Noticed About Old Top Ten Lists

10. The sheer number of political references. It looks like 70% of the lists are about international or domestic politics. Now, this might be a result of the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall, and the fact that Dan Quayle really couldn't spell potato, but I don't think we would have seen a top ten list like "Top Ten Questions about David Souter" today. Granted, there hasn't been a Supreme Court appointee for a while.

9. Michael Jackson was a freak back then too.

8. George Steinbrenner was, is, and always will be a grade-a asshole, albeit a rich one.

7. The Top Ten things that sound dirty but really aren't (Feb 3, 1986) still sound dirty.

6. New York did have and still has a wonderful reputation that it secretly enjoys, that of a foul-mouthed, crime-ridden cesspool filled with rats and . . . well, cess. Although Letterman lost a lot of material when Giuliani started cleaning up the homeless and 42nd St.

5. Ted Kennedy was a morbidly obese alcoholic back then too.

4. There were a lot more sports lists. On top of that, very few basketball ones and tons of baseball ones.

3. Kind of a continuation of 4. The Yankees were mocked a whole lot more than the Mets in the late 80's mostly because they sucked so much. Kind of puts a perspective on things.

2. Check out the Top Ten list from July 11th, 1990. It could have been repeated during last years DNC.

1. The Greatest Top Ten list EVER: April 4, 1991. "

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Dread Pirate Roberts

"Kingdom of Heaven" comes out in a couple of weeks, and for a while now, people have been speculating about the wisdom of releasing a period piece that may or may not reflect current religious tensions.

To those people, I say this.

Watch the damn movie first.

From what I've heard about it, there's nothing particularly incendiary, as no one in the film is portrayed in a morally upright manner, with the possible exception of the Muslim leader Saladin. Now, he may or may not be portrayed as a stereotypically "good" Muslim, which in film means an honor-bound mystery man (see "The Mummy" for a particularly silly example - Steve, he did not say "Save yourselves - Kill the girl"), but I'll reserve that for the movie.

A lot of people are voicing disapproval in a similar manner to the way in which people complained about "The Passion," (and to a lesser extent, the "homosexuality" in "Alexander", which is just silly) but I feel that the two movies are in two different ballparks. Heck, they're probably not even the same sport.

What I do think is this:

1) Ridley Scott, who directed the film, has put out some material that I didn't particularly like. "Black Hawk Down" was not a particularly good movie, and by most accounts, "GI Jane" was worse. But I'm tempted to give a chance to a guy who made "Gladiator", which was a good popcorn flick, and "Blade Runner", which in my opinion is one of the best pieces of film ever made. So therefore, when he puts out a movie, which is made to entertain, I'm more likely to trust his filmmaking rather than Mel Gibson, who thinks that he's the second coming of Christ.

2) Mel Gibson is not Christ, and should have stuck with making "Lethal Weapon" movies. Danny Glover needs a job, Mel. "Braveheart" was good, but another piece about a martyr. And "The Patriot" was two hours of my life I'd like to have back, because I could have used that time to do something more productive, like bang my head against a wall.

3) As a logical deduction stemming from 1) and 2), since Mel Gibson is not in this movie, and Ridley Scott is at the helm, it is most likely not a piece of evangelical crap. At least, it is less likely to be one than if Mel were associated with it.

4) Orlando Bloom, who did work with Scott in "Black Hawk Down," is playing a blacksmith who finds out that he's not who he thinks he is. Seriously. I just hope his character's father in this movie was not nicknamed "Bootstrap," because that would just be silly.

5) Why not write a screenplay loosely based on "The Song of Roland"? "The Song of Roland," while being quite impressive on a literary level (it's not just a list of people killing people), does literally demonize Muslims, and it would be interesting to see a filmmaker subvert the text and take a little post-modern spin with it. It would just end up being a "might makes right" tale, but still, it would have some value. I have the feeling that some similar kind of desire does motivate the making of a movie like "Kingdom of Heaven," but again, we'll just have to see now won't we?

6) Last but not least, it is unfortunate that the loudest voices out there complaining are also the ones who have committed to seeing the movie in a specific lens of morality and ethics and religion, namely, their own.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Huckleberry Hound

There's a new study documenting the prevalence of a problem called "Blackberry Thumb."

As opposed to green thumb, which is someone who like to garden, blackberry thumb could present real problems.

At least that's what some people think. But honestly, any prolonged activity on a keyboard or a video game machine will accomplish about the same.

To those people that didn't see this coming, I suggest sitting around and playing a Gameboy for 5 hours at a time, attempting to become the River King by flyfishing.

I suggest playing Diablo II for 10 hours a day for a week until you've pimped out a level 85 Barbarian with Verdungo's Coil, a two-socketed Unique Elite Polearm, a Shako, a Raven Frost,a Metallic Grid and some other sweet shit.

Sit around and play Goldeneye until your hands curl around an N64 controller, even when you don't have one physically in front of you.

Heck, practice the clarinet for three hours. Your right thumb will be black.

Ask Mike about his tendinitis, which I say came from him touching himself too much at night, but he INSISTS stems from all the drumming.

Play pool until your fingers ache.

I refuse to believe that for some reason, Blackberrys cause more stress than a prolonged session of Counterstrike, as some experts seem to think. If anything, since the teenager's bones aren't fully developed, they'll just see even more problems later in life.

The cure isn't acupuncture or magical metal bracelets. It's just not being obsessive compulsive.

Of course, the modern working man or woman is too busy earning a living to bother with setting down their PDA's for a moment or two, because God forbid they not be productive while sitting on a commuter train.

I'm as work-driven as the next guy, but at some point, work does separate from the rest of life.

I also find the part where Sadie Plant, "a British researcher of cyber culture", claims that thumbs are used more than index fingers for pointing and ringing doorbells. So does that mean natural selection will now favor people with the gene for freakishly overmuscled thumbs?

I could write "Dr. Pascarelli's Complete Guide to Repetitive Strain Injury . . . ", except I'd name it for myself. I would read:

"It's not that urgent or important, give it a rest."

The End.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I realized something today as I was sitting in my Women and Journalism class.

My biggest problem this term, in the classroom and outside of it, has been second-guessing myself.

I've been doing it enough that it's starting to really affect everything I do, from participating to interviewing for jobs to everyday life.

For instance, participating in class today just didn't happen for me, even though I had plenty to say about the topic of ethics and interviewing. I just couldn't get my hand up. (And being the only guy in the class isn't a problem).

Wait, that sounds really bad . . . I think I just made a case that I have Decision-Making Erectile Dysfunction or something like that.

Fine. I'll coin the term and go with it.

Hi everyone. My name is William Li. I suffer from Decision-Making Erectile Dysfunction.

After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

I can come up with several reasons for why this might be happening, but right now I'm more concerned with dealing with it and being more decisive.

One of the reasons I got my interview with Milberg Weiss a few weeks ago was because I was decisive during the first interview. I answered questions quickly, I followed a logical progression in my answers, and I was even able to inject a little humor here and there to convey some sense of personality.

And I'm positive that I was able to do this because I had a normal conversation beforehand. After I went to lunch with Kelly from the A&BC (where I worked last summer), it was a lot easier to talk to the interviewers because I'd gotten some practice in interacting with real people and was capable of making normal conversation, which is all an interview really is.

One of the reasons I messed up my second Milberg Weiss interview was because I barely talked to anyone that day. It kind of changes the nature of your interview when the first person you talk to face-to-face is your interviewer.

Instead of walking in and being able to speak freely, it was as if I walked in, had to reflect on the fact that I was about to have a conversation, and by the time this notion had settled in and I was ready to give a good account of myself, the interview was over.

This is something I think I'll have to incorporate into any future interview - I'll talk to someone beforehand, at breakfast, at lunch, driving to the train station. First of all, it'll get my mind off the interview. And second of all, I'll be more prepared for actual human interaction when the interview starts.

You know, it strikes me that ED drugs are a horrible thing. Not just because they make all those commercial about Levitra and Viagra and whatnot. Not just because they stream billions of dollars into an industry that should be focusing on other, less profitable but more beneficial drugs.

But there really bad because we don't need sixty year old men reawakening their libidos. We don't need any more sex in our already sex-obsessed lives. Honestly, considering the explosion of sexual idolatry with Hollywood and music, the last thing we need is a drug that promotes more sex.

Imagine what the world would be like if there was a drug for Decision-Making Erectile Dysfuntion. On one hand, people that really suffer from indecision (I mean really suffer, to the point that pulling your pants on in the morning is a problem - right leg? left leg?) could take it and get through their daily life better. Things would be more streamlined, interviews might go smoother, everyday life could be made a whole lot less strenuous for some people. In comparison, some people that take ED drugs probably need them. But then there are the remainder of people without ED who don't need ED drugs, and the remainder of the people without D-MED who wouldn't need D-MED drugs.

For example, due to certain circumstances, I'm having trouble making decisions and being decisive. Do I need a drug? Or am I better off thinking about the problem and resolving to deal with it myself? If I had the drug, I'd take it, get dependent on it, and before long, it would be like the drug was making decisions for me.

I wonder if that's a problem with recreational Viagra users. If they get dependant on it, are they still the ones getting it up?

But second-guessing and reflection really is a necessary component of everyday life too, isn't it? I shudder to imagine what a Presidential election would look like if the majority of voters just went to the poll and made a spur of the moment decision without reflecting on the pertinent issues and the candidate's stances.

Oh wait. That's right. We're living that reality right now.

Maybe what most Americans need isn't something that makes them more decisive, but more indecisive.

No, I won't accrue thousands of dollars of credit card debt trying to keep up with my neighbors (who are also in thousands of dollars of credit card debt).

No, I won't splurge on an SUV and will consider less convenient and less trendy but more energy efficient methods of transportation.

No, we won't just have TV dinners again, I actually feel like cooking.

No, I won't greenlight a sequel to Final Destination 3 just because the first three somehow made money.

No, I won't try to bring down the judicial system because they refused to listen to me.

Tom DeLay, it's time you took an indecision drug. Your overinflated, self-worshipping phallus has been flapping in the wind for way too long. If you took an indecision drug, you might pause in your attempt to subvery the judicial system. You might *gasp* involve yourself in some non-partisan decision making. Something might actually get done.

I don't need a D-MED drug because part of the experience is coping with it, dealing with it, and motivating myself out of it. I do it by reading baseball columns. I do it by (I think) performing at least adequately on my ecology test yesterday even though all I did for this last week was watch baseball. I do it by writing a tongue-in-cheek blog about erectile dysfunction.

Maybe all those doctors whose knee-jerk reaction is a Zoloft perscription would be better off perscribing a diary or a blog instead.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Did he just . . .

Ok, I know "Touch em All" is a little iffy in the euphemism department, but when the ESPN Baseball Tonight says . . .

"You hang 'em, we bang 'em," I'm sorry, that one takes the cake. Or the corpse. Something like that.

I can't believe you can say that on TV.

Yeah. No more words need to be said about that.

I'm reading a guy named Bernd Heinrich in my ecology class. He's actually a pretty good writer for a scientist. Perhaps not on the Stephen Jay Gould level, but he's very articulate, and very prosy while delivering difficult ecological concepts. Good material. I recommend his stuff to anyone. "Winter World" is what I'm reading, but he has a slew of other books out.

He does have a tendancy to talk about banging trees, but that's banging as in hitting with a club to flush out animals, so I suppose that's ok.

The actually disconcerting part about his material is the rather objective nature of how he presents death in nature. I know it's a part of it, circle of life or whatever, and part of ecological study does include killing things to observe them, but it is a little on the awkward side if you've never read any of it before.

I'm not saying he's enjoys talking about shooting finches or anything like that, especially since he does talk about morals and hunting. If anything, he shows that he cares deeply about everything he writes about. It's just that to oversympathize with the charismatic megafauna (or just the charismatic fauna, as it might be) would compromise the scientific nature of what he writes.

He talks about former pets, which included a free flying owl, a weasel, and a squirrel, and some nostalgia definitely manages to leak through. But he doesn't let himself dwell on it overly long in "Winter World" and I think it's for the best.

Anyway, check it out. There is a reason I'm a bio major, and it's not because I like pain. Well, maybe it is, but there really is some amazing stuff to be observed and written about and investigated out there.

A while ago, before the MLB season started, I wrote about headlines I wanted to see. "No-no for Nomo" or something like that was one of them. But I didn't want to see "No more Nomar," which is what happened yesterday.

It really looked like a freak injury, but whatever the cause, tearing your groin is nothing to joke about. The early diagnosis is that Nomar will be out for two to three months, but I doubt he gets back until September, if at all. And this was the season he was supposed to put it together so he could sign a nice long term contract too . . . .

It's weird (and sad) to think that this guy hit .372 a few years ago.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


This post might seem to be a bit of a downer, but it's not exactly. I'm just working though a couple of thoughts.

What is depression?

I'm pretty sure there's no clear cut definition for it, just as there's no clear cut cure for it.

It's not something I've had a whole lot of trouble with, but like most people, I've had my ups and downs, and I suppose I've let some of my downs last a little longer than they should have.

But this is the thought I had about depression.

Sometimes, we feel the need to tell other people about our troubles. It's a natural thing. Some people go overboard, and we call them drama queens (or kings), but that's one extreme. And ostensibly, the goals of conversation have something to do with an expectation of what will happen to the self, the carthatic release of emotion, and what will happen to the other, the commiseration or the empathy. Or at least that's what the healthy cathartic release involves.

Before having serious conversations, the ones that start "Hey, can we talk for a minute?", most people run through what the conversations will be like. Something like this:

I'll talk to someone about my troubles, current fears, future fears, fears about life, fears about society, fear about fear, they'll listen to me. I might not expect empathy, but I expect them to listen, and furthermore, there's the underlying assumption that by exposing myself emotionally, the emotional relationship that already exists is made deeper.

The difference between being normal and being a drama queen is that normal people don't build relationships this way.

But with depression, none of it happens. One might want to talk, but there's a kind of insecurity about the response that one will get.

For someone who's depressed, I feel the fantasy of the conversation, or the expectation, runs something like this:

I might talk, and the other person might listen, but I'm not sure that anything will come of it. I might not feel better, our relationship might not be any deeper, so it will ultimately have been a wasted effort on both our parts. So why bother initiating the conversation in the first place.

Then the fantasy is stilted, and the conversation doesn't happen. Fantasies about commiseration and understanding turn to muddled thoughts that return to the problems.

There's something chaotic about it. A feeling of "so what?" or "and what then?" It's a feeling that returns to an insecurity about self-worth, because if the fears can't be dealt with or be made into something constructive, something to use connect to others with, then the conversation is useless, and by inference, so is the self. Of course, this turns on itself and leads to more insecurity.

Is this something that was covered in health class, and I just missed it? Or what?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Rembrandt : Toothpaste :: Van Gogh : Cutting Your Own Damn Ear Off

No journalism class today, so I'm taking the opportunity to get my thoughts in order before my day starts.




Oh, who am I kidding, I'm going to fix my major cards, grab something to eat, come back and watch baseball.

Actually, I've got quite a bit of work to do this week - a test on Thursday, need to talk to my Macroevolution prof about possible projects, my journalism prof about possible projects . . . and my Ecology prof about possible projects . . . oh jesus christ I'm screwed unless I get my head on my shoulders. I can write papers like no one's business, but when it comes to experimental design (Ecology), presentations (Ecology and Macro), and a series of interviews requiring actual interaction with people (journalism), I'm not quite as comfy.

I guess the moral of the story is to screw comfy and sit on the damn tack. Or something like that.

I've also got to start applying for more jobs - I got a little discouraged after nothing came out of this last round, so I've been avoiding them. I've got to get back on track there. And find me a 9-5. Or two. I'm actually looking forward to getting out of college and working forty, fifty, sixty hour weeks, as weird as that sounds. Essentially, I need the change of pace. And I find I work better with that motivation too.

Mike Hunter's new song sounds good - ask him for it.

I really can't stop with my ESPN criticism - I actually like Chris Berman; he's amusing broadcasting football, and he's better broadcasting baseball, but he's really got to stop with the idiotic nicknames (like Melvin "Mora mora" Mora - and that's one of the better ones). He makes them up faster than George Bush. And they're dumber too.

I realized yesterday that I had spent the weekend, two sunny, 60 degree, clear days in which frisbees were out and clothes were off, inside downloading and then listening to Nine Inch Nails. That made me feel warm and fuzzy in a nihilistic kind of way.

Hee hee. Nihilism.

Speaking of warm and fuzzy, does this story make my adolescence disturbed, or merely irreverent/borderline racist?

For some reason or another (I think we were bored in Spanish class), my friends and I decided that the answer to the pseudo-riddle "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear / Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair / If Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair / Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't really fuzzy, wuzzy?" was that Fuzzy Wuzzy was a black man. Maybe we had just saw Pulp Fiction or something. I don't know.

No, I think we were just horrible children. Please don't stop talking to me.

I want a Guiness. But not now. Must focus on day ahead.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

And Then Trent Reznor was like "Oh no you didn't"!

Omigod, Trent Reznor totally like has this new album out.

Actually, it's like, not released yet, but, like, I sooo needed to get it, cuz you know, it's like, whatever, right?

So like, this is Nine Inch Nails' like first album, in like, foreva, you know what I mean? It's been like . . . years? Tchaaa . . .

Okay, like, what are my first, like, impression-type things?

The album is called "With Teeth," which is kinda funny, cuz, you know, cuz it is. I wonder if the CD has teeth like the DVD for "Saw" did.

Anyway, like, Trent sounds like he had a bad experience with a girl or something like that. Cuz his music is all angry and stuff. I mean . . . "Every Day is Exactly the Same"? Depressing, dude. Lighten up a little.

I totally feel for him though, when he write stuff like "Will you bite the hand that feeds / Will you chew until it bleeds." Cuz, my dog, like, totally did that to me once. It hurt, man. Like . . . really hurt. What's with all the biting going on in this CD anyway? I like how he rhymes too in there. The lines end like . . . believe/feeds/bleeds/knees/see. Good golly! I could never write like that.

I don't really get it though, when he writes "I pick things up / I am the Collector." What's that all about?

And like, in the song "Love is Not Enough", when he rhymes apart and start, and are and far, and show and think so . . . realize and lies . . . tough and enough. . . . wow . . like . . . deep, dude.

Ok, that's enough of that. Honestly, it's a decent album. Some of the experimental stuff sounds excellent, and for the most part, I like the sound of the album. The song "Only" falls a little flat at the beginning, by virtue of it's literally funky beat, but otherwise, most of the material is recognizably NIN, yet refreshing to a certain extent.

Lyrically though, it really suffers. The above rhymes are actually in the CD, and it's often telegraphed badly. For instance, when Trent sings " . . . and smash it apart / I've gone all this fucking way / to wind up, wind up back at the start," that just kills the song. I mean, Closer went "my whole is existence is flawed / you bring me closer to God." Those lyrics hit hard. smash it apart? back at the start? it sounds like something the Offspring might write.

It's hard to imagine Trent Reznor writing some of these lyrics. One never wants to even think of using the word trite to describe his lyrics, but I came dangerously close to thinking of them that way on some of the songs. Not a good sign.

The title song "With Teeth" is actually the worst song on the album, if only because Trent sings the lyrics "With Teeth" as "With-uh Teeth-uh." It sounds like a valley girl accent (or alternatively, a Wisconsin accent, whatever you think is worse - Wisconin valley girl?), and considering how often he repeats it, it gets damn irritating. It's grating not in a traditional, NIN kind of way, which would be good, but a bad, "I went high school with girls that talked like that" kind of grating.

All that said, there are good songs on the album. The single, "The Hand That Feeds," is radio-friendly, but it is a decent song.

If I have an even bigger criticism, it is that there are no anthemic songs on the album. There's no standout song, like a Hurt or a Closer on this album. You think NIN, you think what a Rage in the Machine mosh pit might look like, only three times as frenetic and chaotic, and with razor blades. There's no song on this album that has that raw feeling. I suppose "Every Day is Exactly the Same" is probably the most well written, but the chorus falls a little flat and while it's not a bad thing, it is one of the slowest songs on the album.

Conduct an experiment. Make a playlist, with "Downward Spiral" and "With Teeth", and set it on random. The contrast is obvious, of course, since they were released over ten years apart, but what's more shocking is the absolute dip in quality, in my opinion. I didn't like all the tracks on "The Fragile" either, Starfuckers Inc being a very silly song, and I'd say this album isn't that much stronger or weaker.

Then again, perhaps I'm just expecting too much. Years of silence since their last album have built up insurmountable expectations, really. It's on a similar level to what people expected from Audioslave, after Rage broke up. And Audioslave turned out okay. So I'll enjoy this album for what it is: it sounds good, and it's still Nine Inch Nails. But I might just delete "With Teeth."


I read a lot when I was growing up. A lot of people know this about me. I read novels, biographies, short stories, plays, anything I could get my hands onto. One of the stories my dad like to tell to embarrass me is the one about my vow to read every book in the Greenwich Library.

I really did say that, by the way. I said it because back in Queens, NY, our library limited you to borrowing 20 books every time you went. It might have been a decent limit for most people, but I felt imprisoned. And when we moved to Greenwich, and I stepped into the Greenwich Public Library, which was larger, cleaner and more accomodating than the Queens Library, I was ecstatic.

We were getting library cards, and my dad asked how many books we could borrow at once. The library employee just looked at him funny.

"I guess if you could carry it all, you could borrow the entire library," the guy said.

If I was ecstatic before, I suppose that then I was feeling like Red meeting Andy down in Zihuateneco, Mexico at the end of Shawshank. So that's a little background for you.

In addition to being a voracious bookworm, I also read newspapers and magazines. I read Time religiously, and sadly have lapsed since I came to college. Time isn't the most intellectual of magazines, but it is a large step up from Entertainment Weekly (a magazine which should be read by no one), and every once in a while, one of their essayists writes something mind-bogglingly simple but absolutely brilliant.

The last essay I read was written by one of their regulars, who wrote that the pro-choice movement emphasizes the wrong aspects of their "side." Instead of emphasizing the woman's right to choose, they should emphasize the need to reduce abortions in general. The argument goes that it's a middle ground that both pro-lifers and pro-choicers, who have polarized unnecessarily, can meet at. It would push the extreme Christian right into a very uncomfortable moral position, and you wouldn't have to necessarily decide on Roe. V. Wade again. And yet, very few politicians say "I would like to set a goal - a 25% reduction of overall abortions in 4 years." Great essay.

I also read a lot of newspapers, although sometimes I focused a little too much on the sports sections. While some people grew up reading Peter Gammons, I grew up reading Mike Lupica. I think I was first attracted to his articles because of his funny last name. I really enjoy the way he writes though.

For example of a blurb I like, this is a part of a piece he wrote for the Daily News regarding the Sheffield/Fan incident at Fenway (for those of you not in the know, Sheffield got tangled up with a piece of the Fenway air conditioning unit while chasing down a line drive. The fan, blowing hot air on a cold April night, almost knocked Sheffield's cap off as he went down to pick up a ball. just kidding. kind of.)

"This was like some sports version of "Rashomon" in the end: Everybody saw something different. Or what they wanted to see. And if they want to see this at Fenway Park at Auburn Hills, they really ought to go back and take another look at Auburn Hills. This was a ballpark misdemeanor. Not a felony. And it is dumber than Chris House to treat it as more." - Lupica, Daily News

Now, I realize that Lupica actually isn't practicing good journalism here - the Kurosawa reference will fly over the head of a lot of people. But hell, what's the fun of writing if you can't throw a bit of elitism or an inside joke in there every once in a while?

I much prefer the very apt Kurosawa analogy to what Bill Simmons of ESPN does. I love Simmons' articles, but he uses analogies involving "The Shawshank Redemption" a little too often. I swear, he uses the Andy/Red/Zihuataneco metaphor once every other column. There are other ones from the movie too - getting it like the warden, framed like Andy Dufresne, screwed over like Gil Bellow's character, they go on. Almost everyone will get them, because the average American has seen Shawshank fifteen times. I made that up. But it could be true.

But he uses it so often it gets annoying. Read his next column. There's a 50% chance it will have a Shawshank reference in it.

The point of my including that Lupica quote, though, was an attempt by me to show that my reading Lupica was meant to be. Lupica is a film buff, I'm a film buff (even though I haven't seen a movie in a theatre for nine months). Is the connection there? Not really. But the thought of it makes me feel good.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Since I finished my thesis, I've been writing less and less. I guess it kind of makes sense because I don't have that need to produce a lot of material, but it's kind of frustrating as well.

Now that it's done, I have to make myself write because I just don't have the deadline hanging over me anymore.

Some thoughts:

1) You know you have to get up off your ass when you turn on the TV to a rerun of Iron Chef (that you've seen before), and actually look forward to watching it.

2) On Baseball Tonight, the show on ESPN, they show all day's home runs in a segment they call "Touch Em All." This of course refers to touching all the bases after hitting a home run. But am I the only one who thinks there is a bad Michael Jackson joke in there somewhere?

3) I haven't been in a movie theatre for . . . .well . . . I can't remember the last movie I saw in a theatre. Eternal Sunshine? That was a long time ago.

4) Sportscenter similies/metaphors are getting silly. I thought "as cool as the other side of the pillow" was rather inventive. But "all over it like a fat kid on cake?" That just doesn't do it for me.

5) One of the few things I will miss about college: Being serenaded on a Saturday night by a choir of drunken guys belting out Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" at the top of their lungs. Truly, a definitive moment of the college experience.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

More Cowbell

Apologies for not updating - I was away this weekend up at the Second College Grant wading in ice cold water and hiking with an ecology class. No joke. Me. Hiking.

This blog, like many of my other ones, will have something to do with baseball. But only tangentially.

The movie "Fever Pitch" is now out, and I think few Red Sox fans, or any baseball fans for that matter, have forgiven the Farrelly Brothers for letting Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore out of their cages and onto the field during last year's now legendary playoff run.

But my issue today is not with the movie, as bad as it might be. No, my issue is with the critics. Everyone can be a critic, but I'm going to take that a step further and criticize the critics.

With a movie about baseball, the easy way out in terms of writing a lead-in or an attention drawing phrase is a baseball pun or reference. It's too easy in fact, and the plethora of these are enough to make one scream. The following are but a few examples. Some are really, really . . . poor.

"In many ways, "Fever Pitch" is the Milwaukee Brewers of movies. It has some potential, but it will lose more than it wins."

""Fever Pitch is a minor league movie where a major league movie is needed and desired." -

Okie Dokie . . . the first one is awkward enough, but the second one? Is the major league movie we all need Major League IV?

"With an all-star lineup that includes directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly . . . ." - Michael Rechtstaffen,

Alright, I guess that makes sense . . .

"given their source material, it should have been an easy home run. Instead they scored on a walk." - Steve Rhodes -

Now, this is a bit much. They scored on a walk? They were already standing on third with the bases loaded? If you say so.

"Sometimes hitters can get caught just looking at that curve fall in for a strike, and all they can do is wonder how they fell for something so light. Plenty of people will leave Fever Pitch with that feeling." - Ward Triplett III, KC Star

This guy seems to have problems dealing with the fact that his name is Ward Triplett the Third, but it's not much of an excuse. Metaphor is one thing. The quote above is something more monstrous.

"The Curse of the Bambino lives. And by now, it's spread to the backlot." - Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

I'm not even sure what that means . . . .

"This is, at best, a distinctly low-grade 'Fever.' If not a foul ball, barely earns a single." - Frank Swietek, One Guy's Opinion

I suppose this is a little better because he mixes up the punning. But still, if the movie is a bloop single, this byline is a foul-tip off the top of one's shoes. Sorry, I guess I couldn't resist either.

They go on and on if you check out, in different incarnations of metaphor, but these are a good mix of chuckle-inducing and downright awful.

What's a good review contain then? Let's see. . . .

We need to know the stars. Check. Big name Director? Check. Everyone gets these.

It would be good to know that it's based on a book by the guy who wrote "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy". Also that it was already made into a movie starring Colin Firth a few years ago, only with soccer instead of baseball. For some reason, not everyone talks about this.

Also, the writers are pretty important in this case. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel wrote "Splash", "A League of Their Own", and some other stuff. Personally I think someone whose first name is Babaloo is probably either a witch doctor or a lounge singer, but if that's what it takes to be a good script writer, maybe I should try. Being a witch doctor lounge singer. Witch doctor by day, lounge singer by night? Or is it the other way around? I digress. . . .

Does the movie succeed in what it tries? In other words, if it's a romantic comedy, does the audience laugh? Curiously enough, some reviews don't dwell too long on WHY we don't laugh a lot, or why the movie succeeds. Some reviews go overboard on the history of baseball, others dwell too much on the writers and others on the directors. Still others bash Jimmy Fallon or the genre instead of the movie, etc. etc. In other words, a lot of critics let their own biases get in the way of writing any sort of informative review.

Finally, a take home message is optional, but pretty standard. At the worst, these include things like "This movie could have a been a home run. But it's not, making me wonder what it takes to write a good romantic comedy these days." At best, they're like the following:

"Complete with season update chapter titles, the film wraps its romance around watching baseball, without actually becoming a sports movie. Told entirely from the perspective of a normal guy sitting in the stands, it’s more a standard romantic comedy that happens to have baseball in it. The Red Sox are just this script’s chosen obsession; you could plug any old geek fantasy into it and get the same result. Ben could just have easily been a crazed Star Wars fan, or perhaps one of those freaks that’s way too into wrestling. The Sox work because the team and its fans have been in the news, and because everybody has a deluded sports fanboy somewhere in their family tree. Being obsessed with sports is more socially acceptable than dressing up as Obi Wan Kenobi, though I submit no more or less unhealthy. No one wants to date a guy wearing Spock ears, but women are willing to put up with a wardrobe composed entirely of Yankees jerseys. Life is so unfair." - Joshua Tyler,

Awesome. It's a little long, but as part of the review, it gets the job done. It's not enough of a sports movie, and too much of a standard romantic comedy. AND, it delivers a bigger message: Fanaticism is fanaticism. This movie would have been worse if it was about a White Sox fan, for example, but this one works for a reason. AND the geek commentary is humorous. Great writing.

Tyler also goes into the stars and the writers, and inserts criticism on them as well, and gives the reader a very complete overview.

Personally, I'd like to know if the movie stays away from the same sports metaphors. You know, the euphemistic talk about balls and getting to third base, etc. etc. Because if it's not, the movie might not be as painful as it could be.

That does it for that. Incidentally, did you know that in the Meatloaf song "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights," the commentary is by Phil Rizzuto? If you did know that, did you know that Rizzuto didn't know what he was being asked to narrate? The narration is a blatantly sexual reference, and Rizzuto was in the dark about that until his son told him about it. (I think it was his son). Apparently, he wasn't too happy about it either.

Along the same lines, I wonder if those ads for "Sex in the City" discussing "Yogasms" were ever pulled. . . .

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Game

The fact that the first person suspended for steroid abuse has 4 career home runs brings me great joy. But I won't dwell on that, because I'm enjoying some good baseball today.

Some notes:

- While Randy Johnson looked decent in 6 innings, I'm watching Jason Bonderman, who has struck out 5 through 2 innings of work, and I'm wondering who's going to have the better year.

Of course Johnson is the proven Hall of Famer and gets ridiculous run support, but the Tiger's offense isn't negligible and Bonderman has filthy stuff. Changes speeds and has good control, hits the corners when he needs to, and his heat hits 95. Nothing to complain about there.

- Regarding the Tigers' offense, they could really be stupendous this year. Brandon Inge just wrecked a mistake by Lima, out to left, which in Comerica is no small matter. Magglio could be good, and Dmitri Young should be a middle of the lineup presence if he's healthy. They need Pena and Infante to develop more, but this team could score a lot of runs.

- Yankee Stadium has all the history, but while I don't know if it's the day game, or just the stadium itself, but Comerica in Detroit looks pretty good. It's huge too, which is kind of fun in this home run crazy era. That alley in left looks like it's at least 430. It's the kind of territory one might imagine Willy Mays covering.

- David Wells balked in a run last night. Who does that? When do the implanted Yankee accusations start flying?

- There was a lot of talk about two rookie shortstops last year, Khalil Greene and Bobby Crosby, but Kaz Matsui wasn't so bad either. I think this year's rookie class is underrated though.

My pick for AL RoY is Jeremy Reed, the centerfielder for the Mariners. I'm not sure if Mauer still qualifies, but he could put up nice numbers if healthy. J.J. Hardy is a decent shortstop with the Pirates, and he could easily be the NL RoY if Andy Marte isn't called up early enough for the Braves.

- I'm definitely looking forward to the Mets / Reds game. Pedro's debut is much anticipated, but I also wonder what the reaction would be like if the Reds tag him for a few runs, which they are perfectly capable of doing. I consider Adam Dunn one of the few 50 HR threats this year. That he might steal 10-15 bases is indicative of what kind of player he is.

- Comeback player of the Year? That's an easy one. Nomar Garciaparra. He'll hit well in Wrigley, and if he's over his injuries, he could be a top-5 shortstop. I think Andruw Jones might contribute more in terms of runs created (and taken away), but considering Jones never really struggled (only with curveballs...), he's not really a candidate for comeback player. Neither is Chipper, who somehow managed 30 homers and 96 RBI despite a nagging injury that forced him back to his old position at third.