Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Classic Math Problem

For some reason, I've been spotting a lot of math puzzles around the Internets lately. Walt has had a few recently, and I'm gonna go ahead and steal one from Poz and put it up here. See if you dumbasses can figure it out:

Three sportswriters are in a minor league town for a game. They miss their flight out of town, so they have to crash at a hotel near the airport. One rather seedy looking hotel is offering a deal — $30 for a big room with two beds and a couch. They figure, what the hell, it’s 10 bucks apiece, you can’t beat that.

So they show up at the hotel and give the guy 30 bucks. Then, they get to talking, the guy turns out to be a big baseball fan, so he says: “Fellas, you know what? You can have the room for 25 bucks.”

Nice offer. The sportswriters say — “Great. Just give us a buck each and keep the other two for yourself.”

And that’s how it was.

So, explain this … if each sportswriter put in nine bucks ($27) and the hotel guy got two bucks ($27 + $2), where did the other dollar go?

Suck on that, SAT.

Do You Have Swine Flu?

Check your symptoms and find out at:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dante's Inferno

This weekend, I went to visit a friend down in Southern New Jersey near Philadelphia and, as I don't own a car, I took the train from Newark, NJ down to where he lives.

A fine time was had by all and I ended up staying fairly late on Sunday - in order to grill out for dinner - and headed back to beautiful Jersey City on the 8 pm NJ Transit train back to Newark.

Now, as you may or may not know, I live in Journal Square in Jersey City which is a straight shot from Newark on the PATH subway line.

So, after I got off at Newark Penn Station, I jumped on the PATH and arrived at Journal Square at about 9:30 PM.

As I came up the escalator and began the walk home I was approached by this guy that was about 35 or so and was kind of what you may call an aging goomba.

"Excuse me, I locked my car keys in my car and I can't find a locksmith - do you know any around here?" [insert ay yo, oh ay Jersey accent], he asked.

"No, sorry", I replied. After I second, I suggested that he try the cops downstairs.

"No, they won't open the car because they say they can't accept that liability" he advised. He was obviously distressed and frustrated by his situation.

Now, this guy seemed, like, reasonably not crazy and well enough groomed so I thought for a second and said, "You know what? I can look up locksmiths on my phone in the area and I'll let you call one on my phone."

"Oh, that would be great! Thanks man, I've been stuck here for a while and no one will stop and they cops won't help and I live all the way in Parsippany."

"Not a problem", I assured. And it wasn't, I really was more than happy to help.

So I whipped out my phone opened up my Verizon Wireless Navigator and looked for "locksmith". Within seconds, more than a few locksmiths in the area were up on the screen.

I handed him the phone and said, "knock yourself out."

"Thanks, man. I really appreciate it. I'm Dante, by the way...what's your name?"

"The Notorious LJT."

"Well, thanks, Notorious LJT" he said as he dialed the the first locksmith.

I kind of hung out a few feet aways as he was calling locksmiths, not really listening or paying much attention.

"Fuck! They all want money up front or my credit card number, which I can't give them because it's locked in my car with my wallet. Shit, I don't know what to do. Let me try some more. Do you mind?"


Dante tried a few more but to no avail.

"Shit, well I guess I just have to break the window."

"Yeah, that sucks."

"Do you mind if I try a couple more?"

"No, go ahead."

He tried a few more. I still didn't really pay attention or give it any thought.

No luck. Dante was stuck and was no seeming to prepare himself to go through a brick through his car and was understandably stressed out.

Now, he seemed like a reasonably normal person and he didn't ask for anything so I decided I'd try to help this guy out. My mitzvah for the day, you could say.

"Well, how much do they want?", I asked.

"Fifty bucks and then another $150", he said.

"OK, I'll tell you what I'll lend you $50 and you can just come by my house and call me and I'll come out and get the money back when you get it straightened out in a little while."

"Oh, bro, that would be great man. I really appreciate it, I mean you don't have to do that."

"No, no, it's cool. You seem like an honest guy, I'd be happy to help you out. Just call the locksmith."

Dante called the locksmith.

"OK, now call yourself [also locked in the car] from my phone so you have my number".

He did.

"OK, well I'm on Notorious LJT Avenue down by the cemetary. The building with the lights on. Just call me when you're done and I'll come out and get the cash."

"Bro, seriously, you don't know how much I appreciate this. I'll hit you back, I'll give you $70 for your trouble."

"Thanks, but that's OK", I said.

"No, seriously, let me pay you."

"It's fine, really."

"No, I want to."

"Stop. I don't want any money - really", I said firmly.

"OK, OK."

"He told me to meet him down by Burger King and Montgomery", said Dante. This was a little weird because his car was stuck in the Journal Square garage and BK and Montgomery were a bit of a walk away.

"Why won't he just come here?", I asked.

"I don't know, he said he was doing another job there".

"OK, well, whatever."

So, we parted ways - Dante to BK and me to my condo.

Now, as I made my way home I felt pretty good. I realized there was a chance I would never hear from Dante again nor see that $50 but I felt there was a better than even chance I had just helped out some guy that was having a bad night when no one else would. I had done the right thing.

I got home at about 10 pm and by 11:30, I thought to myself "yeah, I guess I won't be hearing from Dante. I guess I got conned. Whatever, maybe he'll show up and in any case $50 isn't going to put me in the poor house. We'll see what happens."

A few minutes later the buzzer rang.

"Hello?", I asked through the intercom.



"It's Dante!"


"Hey man, whatsup? Everything work out OK?", I asked.

"Well, no. The guy came and couldn't get the car open because it's a new car and he had to call this other guy that he works with for a newer tool. I just didn't want you to think that I had lied to you and just taken the money."

"Oh, well thanks but you really didn't need to walk all the way here to tell me that."

(Now, I never told him my apartment but I guess he came in and just read my name on the buzzer.)

"Well, I just didn't want you to think I had just taken off. They'll be back in like thirty minutes."

"Oh, OK", I said. Now, pretty convinced that this guy wasn't a con artist. "Well, do you want to come in?"

"Yeah, if you don't mind."

"Sure, come on in and sit down for a second".

Dante came in and sat down and waxed poetic on his frustration at the situation. I felt his pain. I could only imagine how annoyed I'd be by this point in the situation.

We talked for a minute and I said, "do you want a beer or something?"


We each had a beer and shot the shit. Dante was from Parsippany but grew up in Clifton and had graduated from Clifton High in 1989.

Soon the beer was done and I suggested he should head back and he agreed.

"The only thing is, the new tool is $10 more upfront".

I handed over $20.

"Listen man, don't worry about coming back. You have my address now that you've been here. I'll write it down and you can just send me a check."


Dante left.

The buzzer rang - it was Dante.

"Hey, you said you were from Teaneck. Do you know a guy named bla bla bla?"

"No, I don't."

"Oh, OK."

Dante left.

The next day at work (Monday), I relayed the story to my friend Melanie who said "you're crazy and you're never going to see that money or Dante again."

"Yeah, well maybe but I think I will."

See Dante again, I did.

My doorbell rang that night at about 10:15 pm.




"Hey bro, whatsup man?"

"Dude, you didn't have to come by, I told you to just mail me the check."

"Well I wanted to give you the money in person."

"Oh, OK."

"But, you see. The thing is, I have this girl in the car outside. Well, she's not outside right now because she went by Walgreens up on Montgomery. But, anyway, I'm with this girl and, you drive?"

Now, Dante was definitely not sober and he was more than just drunk. He was on some kind of upper and seemed a little rabid. Not dangerous, I didn't think but certainly he was on some kind of drugs.

"Do I drive?"

"Why are you looking at me like I'm crazy?"

"I'm not."

"Yeah, do you drive?"

Now I had no idea where he was going with this but I knew I didn't want to go wherever that may be, much less drive Dante and his girlfriend there.

"Um, well yeah I can drive."

"See the thing is, well I've been drinking and I don't want to drive. And I left your money in my car in Hoboken."


"And well, why don't you come out with us for a little while and I'll make it worth your while."

"Um, thanks but I have to go to work tomorrow."

"I'll by you a few drinks."

"No, I'm good."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I have to get up early for work", I said.

"What time?", he asked.


"Yeah, me too."

There was silence as he contemplated the situation.

"Well the thing is I've got this girl with me and I want to take her to a hotel nearby and get freaky with her."

"Um, OK". This was getting really weird and I was beginning to get a little concerned. I just wanted Dante gone.

"Do you mind if I have some water?"

"Sure." I gave him some water.

"Yeah, well the thing is, like, the hotel on 1&9 is $95 for two hours and I only have $70 on you think....."

"Listen, man, I don't have any cash on me."


"Yeah, sorry."

"See the thing is" he explained, "I don't want to ask her to pay because I don't want to make her feel like a cheap whore."

"Yeah, well I just don't have any money on me."

"Ok, hmmm. Let me think......"

The wheels were churning.

"OK, OK, do you have a phonebook?"

"A phonebook?"


"Um, no."

"Shit! I need to find a hotel I can rent by the hour. Which ones are by here?"

"I really don't know any, man."

"Oh, come on! Of course you do!"

"No, really. I really don't."

"Dude, come on. You gotta know one." Dante was incredulous. How could I not know of any?

"No, sorry. I really don't know any."

We were at an impasse but I had my computer sitting on my coffee table and I wanted Dante out so I said, I can look some up on google for you.

Dante called a few places, but these were apparently upscale hourly hotel rentals. You had to rent at least three hours, not two.

"You know what? I should just fuck that bitch in my car."

"Yeah, you should", I agreed.


"Yeah, you really should."

"OK, well I'm gonnna go" he said, much to my relief.


"Hey, do you mind if I buy a couple of those beers off of you?", he asked.

"I thought you don't have any money?"

"Yeah, well I mean like when I pay you back."

"Oh, OK." I gave him two beers.

Dante thought for a minute. "Listen man, we should hang out. This girl is a freak and she's got a lot of dirty friends."

"Yeah, OK. Listen, don't worry about coming back to pay me back. Just send a check."

"No, no, I'll come back in like an hour and pay you back."

"No, really, you can just send a check."

"No, I'll be back."

"No, really it's OK."

"No, I'll be back in an hour."

"OK, man, have fun."

I opened the door and Dante left.

I would be more than happy to never see him or my $70 dollars again.

Specter of Doom for the GOP

More to come on this . . . just wanted to submit my nomination for tomorrow's Daily News headline.

The Proper Word Song

Don't be vulgar, use the proper words!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hey Ticking-Time-Bomb scenario -- suck on this

Average night for me.

I figured I'd get in on the whole torture-debate thing, so in response to Side Bar's post below: Please, someone, anyone, describe a realistic situation which could feasibly happen in, like, real life that suits the "ticking time bomb" scenario.

To be clear, in that scenario, we (the good guys) must:

1. Know that there is in fact a bomb that is definitely in Times Square;

2. Know that said bomb will definitely explode imminently (How imminently? 20 minutes? 2 hours? 12 hours? What is the time limit for the ticking-time-bomb torture exemption?);

3. Somehow be positive that this particular terrorist we have somehow apprehended definitely is the one who made or planted the bomb, or knows who did and can somehow put us in contact with him/her;

4. Know that torturing him is definitely the only way to find out both where the bomb is and how to defuse it.

After that, we can ride my Luck Dragon back to Krypton and make love to some totally hot Kling-On chicks whose beds are made of ultra-soft leprechaun gold while a choir of unicorn-elfs serenade us with the most kickass rock version of Pachelbel's Canon ever.

And then I get to bang Hermione.

Torture Warrants

I have been following the torture debate in the popular media without scrutinizing it that closely, so I will admit that this is not an organized, reflective essay as much as it is just a collection of thoughts. I guess my biggest issue with the liberal response to renewed allegations of torture by the U.S. government during the Bush administration (and to a lesser extent, LJT's post, below), is to question whether this really is an issue about which we want to be morally absolute. Many pro-lifers will make an exception to their opposition to abortion to save the life of the mother. Can I make an exception to my opposition to torture to save the lives of 250,000 people?

I mean, hasn't anyone ever seen 24? Is the "ticking time bomb" hypothetical really that far-fetched?

To me, the problem is not that this government might torture a terrorist to find a bomb that is about to go off in Times Square, I can live with that. And in fact, most people probably expect and accept that an FBI agent faced with that situation would do whatever it takes to protect the innocent lives that the terrorist has put at risk. The problem, duh, is that once you open the door like that, then all people need to do is convince themselves that they are stopping an imminent disaster in order to justify torture. And that could (nay, did, it appears) lead to all kinds of justifications for shit that most people agree just shouldn't happen.

When life hands Jack Bauer lemons, he uses them to kill terrorists.

In early 2002, in the heyday of post-9/11 hysteria (some justified, some not), Alan Dershowitz made a controversial (some would say tongue-in-cheek) proposal that torture should only be permitted when law enforcement officials obtain a warrant from a judge to impose "non-lethal" physical pain on a suspect in order to elicit information necessary to save lives.

He wrote:
Under my proposal, no torture would be permitted without a "torture warrant" being issued by a judge. An application for a torture warrant would have to be based on the absolute need to obtain immediate information in order to save lives coupled with probable cause that the suspect had such information and is unwilling to reveal it. The suspect would be given immunity from prosecution based on information elicited by the torture. The warrant would limit the torture to nonlethal means, such as sterile needles, being inserted beneath the nails to cause excruciating pain without endangering life.

It may sound absurd for a distinguished judge to be issuing a warrant to do something so awful. But consider the alternatives: Either police would torture below the radar screen of accountability, or the judge who issued the warrant would be accountable. Which would be more consistent with democratic values?Those opposed to the idea of a torture warrant argue -- quite reasonably -- that establishing such a precedent would legitimize torture and make it easier to extend its permissible use beyond the ticking bomb case.

Those who favor the torture warrant argue that the opposite would be true: By expressly limiting the use of torture only to the ticking bomb case and by requiring a highly visible judge to approve, limit and monitor the torture, it will be far more difficult to justify its extension to other institutions. The goal of the warrant would be to reduce and limit the amount of torture that would, in fact, be used in an emergency. This is an issue that should be discussed now, before we confront the emergency. So, let the debate begin.
It is worth noting that he wrote this before the warrant-less wiretap issues became national news, and the legitimacy of "secret courts" operating under FISA was called into question. No doubt a "torture court" would be closed to the public, too, and could lead to some of the same problems that surround FISA. There are at least a dozen other ethical and practical hurdles to his "proposal" (and again I put it in quotes because I am not sure he was really serious about it), but to me shooting down his proposal is the easy side of the argument. If you want to be "anti-torture" 100% of the time, then you have to be willing to let that bomb go off in Times Square even if you know that torturing the guy who put it there would stop it. I am not sure any of us could live with that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear Liberals,

Dear Liberals,

Just a little free public relations advice from The Notorious LJT.

You are on the right side of this torture thing. We are the United States of America, we don't torture. We're not into the whole war crime thing. OK, so for a bit we were but we feel bad about it and we're not going to do it anymore. That's what you are saying, right?

Guess what the right is saying via Dick Cheney? These bunch of pussies are too wimpy to protect anyone - especially you. Be afraid. Very afraid. We saved your asses, you don't know exactly how but we did. And you won't appreciate how safe you are until you are attacked again. When you are attacked again, just remember we kept you safe and if we had to crack a few skulls - er, use enhanced interrogation techniques - well, so be it.

Now, of course, there are a great many people that seem to think that torture really doesn't work and that the tortured will say just about anything to stop said torment. This is point one.

They also point out, now Al Qaeda can train for our enhanced interrogation techniques because we've made them public. Well, we don't do it anymore so who gives a shit? Point two.

More importantly, Dick and friends are pro-torture. Any time someone starts spouting off that bullshit, just point out - oh, so you're pro-torture then, right? Use those words. Just like the right very effectively used the words "pro-life" and "death-tax". Pro torture. A lot of times the Democrats' problem is they act like a bunch of fucking sociology students. They just talk too damn much and don't really get around to any concise point. Keep it simple. The right wants to torture people and scare you. We don't, it's not who we, Americans, are. We are anti-torture. That doesn't make us pussies. It makes us right. Point three, the important one.

Keep it simple, people.


The Notorious LJT

Dear The Mets (part II),

Further to ChuckJerry's letter to the Mets, I have the following observations.

The baseball season is 162 games long. That can be a real grind for anybody. And what's one game, anyway? So what if the Mets lose a game they should have won, right? It's not as if this team has missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons because of one single fucking game. It's not as if, in September, the losses from April mean anything at all, right?

Well, ok, maybe one loss does matter, even in April. But how is Carlos Beltran supposed to know that? Why should Beltran keep his head in the game and stay alert and play with absolute over-the-top (wait for it . . . ) Eckstein-like intensity (Did you hear that? It was OB puking and burning me in effigy) for nine innings every night, 162 games a year? It's not like he was on this team the last two years and witnessed these heart-breaking near-misses. Right? It's not like he was the one with the bat on his shoulder the last time this team saw a pitch in October. And it's not like he is getting paid a shade under $20 million this year to bring his absolute highest level of focus, determination and concentration to bear on every single play.

Responsible fans know that their guy isn't going to get a hit every single time he is up, and will choke in the big spot as often as he comes through in the big spot. And that's fine. But a total brain fart like Beltran had last night - not sliding into home on a close play where a slide would have almost assured that he scored - is unacceptable. Shit like this will cost any team a ticket to the playoffs. Anyone who thinks the Mets are so good as to be able to throw away the occasional game needs to think again. Seen the Marlins play lately? Jeebus.

And while we're at it, Jerry Manuel . . . you're on notice. I like your style, and everyone is having a collective orgasm over this opposite-field hitting drill that you did in spring training, but at some point you have to start making the right moves. Bringing in Casey Fossum to pitch with the bases loaded in a one-run game when he had not pitched all year was dubious at best. What are you saving Feliciano for at that point? A bigger situation when the game is even closer? Fifth inning, seventh inning, what's the difference? If you have a lights-out lefty specialist and you have a chance to get out of an Ollie melt-down without losing the lead, you have to take it. And you already know how I feel about Ryan Church getting benched in favor of Sheffield. So watch it.

Lastly, Danny Murphy. I know everyone loves this guy. I know. But last night's game absolutely goes into the column of "games we lost because Daniel Murphy is still learning to play baseball at the major league level." Getting picked off at first in the first inning cost the Mets at least one run (fallacy of the predetermined outcome blah blah blah shut up), and the misplayed ball in left in the 8th inning cost them the game. The Cardinals bullpen is a disaster and ours is the best in the league. If Murphy makes that play, the Mets win that game, no question in my mind. I won't even hang Santana's loss in Florida on Murphy's error in that game (because even without it, that game is tied 1-1 after 9, so who knows), but between that game and this one, you have to figure that Murphy's inexperience has cost the Mets at least one game.

It's easy to overlook just one loss because he has been solid at the plate, and, like I said, everyone loves him. But if this pattern continues, it is going to get harder and harder to justify starting him in left every single night. Particularly when (a) Jerry seems to have such a hard-on to start Sheffield every few games and get Tatis his at-bats, and (b) Castillo's hitting justifies putting him in the two-spot. I know that no one wants to talk about it, but the obvious solution is to platoon Tatis and Sheffield in left (both righties), start Beltran and Church in center and right daily, and use Murphy off the bench plus to spell the other guys with the occasional spot start. Jeremy Reed for defensive substitution late in games where necessary.

We're not there yet, and maybe Murphy can get it together, but this is not a team that is going to win 100-105 games and run away with the division. They are going to have to stretch to win 90, and the division will come down to one or two games again. Losses like the one they had last night will haunt in September and beyond.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dear The Mets,

This letter goes out to Omar Minaya, Jerry Manuel, and anyone else who has a say. Brian Schneider sucks more than a thing that sucks a lot. Ramon Castro has proven that he's a good hitter and a pretty good catcher. It seems apparent that Omir Santos is a pretty good hitter and I don't know anything about his catching but, really, how bad could he be? Let's keep Brian Schneider on the DL indefinitely so we can keep that suckfest off the field.

Brian Schneider couldn't get a hit if his life depended on it and they let him hit the ball off a tee and the ball was a softball and they let him use an aluminum bat and all the infielders were sitting down and all the outfielders left the field and everyone was blindfolded except for him and also everyone is handcuffed and isn't allowed to use their gloves and once they field the ball they have to kick it over to first base like a soccer ball.

Can we please give up on Brian Schneider? Both of these other gies are decent hitters. I'm tired of the Mets lineup being a complete black hole in the 7, 8, and 9 spots.

And while we're at it, can we keep Ryan Church in the lineup please? Enough with this Sheffield crap. And can you gies give some kind of seminar on clutch hitting?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dear The Knicks,

This letter goes out to Donny Walsh and Mike D'Antoni and anyone else who has an say on the Knicks roster. I know that the Knicks are gonna suck again next year. I also know you guys are under the delusion that you are somehow going to sign LeBron James next year despite the fact that there's a good possibility they will have won back to back championships in Cleveland by that point. The only guy who's on your roster that's definitely gonna be on the team at that point is Danilo Gallinari and all that is well and good.

But please, I'm saying please here, please keep David Lee. Do it for me. I have watched the Knicks faithfully since 1989. I have continued to watch even when it was clear that the franchise didn't care about me or about winning or about being under the salary cap. The only bright spot in these past few years has been the play of David Lee. He was great in the Isiah Thomas half court low post system and he was great in the completely opposite Mike D'Antoni 7 seconds or less system and I love him. Don't fuck around with me here.

Keep David Lee!!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Actress, 42, Inspired by Birthday Boy

Chinese American Actress, Bai Ling, has found inspiration in newly 31 year old Friend Of Blog, RTM a/k/a Yosemite Sam a/k/a WinIt.

Frustrated by the lack of quality roles, the actress remains determined to win the Oscar she feels she deserves today...someday.

"I deserve so much more than the roles I get offered now. I’m one of the best actresses. One day I will win an Oscar. I’m already winning it. I just have to find the platform to show it. I’m already winning it! I’ve got that talent."

Win it, indeed, Bai. Win it, indeed.

31 and Still Winning It

F.O.B. (Friend of Blog) Winit is 31 years old today.

Happy Birthday from all of us here at Wheeeeere's Luke!

Winit will be graduating with his masters from NYU in about a month and is poised to set the fundraising world on fire shortly.

Good show and very clever, indeed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lindsay Lohan Is One Crazy Chick But I Like Her Much Better Now That I Saw This

Having a sense of humor about yourself is an easy way to rack up points in my book.

How fucking hot is she, by the way?

Awesome Music Week Extended: Stereo Total

Stereo Total is a German-French duo that are based in Berlin.

They're like synthsizery, pop, new wave and electronica.

I randomly saw this song, "I Love You, Ono" on a commercial and tracked it down in the interwebs. It is a remake of "I Love You, Oh No!" by some 1980s Japanese New Wave band, The Plastics. While not rap or classic rock, the Yoko Ono inspired pun makes it acceptable for me, kind of....actually, who am I kidding? I hate it but I'm trying to be cool - like Chuck Jerry.

Will Sidebar Like It? Probably Not

Will Open Bar Like it? I think so.

Will Chuck Like it? Yes.

Do I like it? No, I only like rap from the early 1990s and The Beatles.

I don't care if it's embarrassing to cry at work

**sniffle** It's okay, you can cry too. Just let it out, man. (Obviously not you, LJT, as that would require "liking something.")

Goddamn, if American Idol ever had a moment close to as awesome and inspiring and uplifting as that, well, I still probably wouldn't watch, but I'd be less hyperbolic in my insults about it.

And let's not forget, not too long ago, this same show also had the cell phone salesman/stunningly impressive opera singer, Paul Potts, who pulled off the same "Oh God, who the hell is this talentless tool -- holyfuckingshit that was beautiful" kind of moment. At this point it's quite clear that even though we beat their asses back in 1776, Britain got all the talent.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Classic Video: Dance Contest

All this delightful little porker needs to do is start beating the shit out of a few women and he'll be well on his way to being the next Chris Brown.

Awesome Music Week: The Bravery

I first heard them: On iTunes, after having it recommended to me by a smart computer
Would Side Bar like them?: maybe to no.
Would Open Bard like them?: no
Would LJT like them?: surprisingly, he's probably the most likely fan. But I'll still say probably not

The Bravery are another synthesizer based rock and roll slash new wave revival band. Lots of energy, good use of the synthesizer, very 80s throwback from the music to the wardrobe and everything. I really like them, but my guess is that none of my blogmates will really like them.

Interestingly for their second album they made two versions. First they put out a non new wave version called which was "The Sun" and then a few months later they remixed all the songs into sythesized versions and released bascially the same album and called in "The Moon". And so together their second album is "The Sun and The Moon".

This is really the only video I could find of them that I could embed into the page, although this song is kinda wack. I would suggest you check out An Honest Mistake off their first album. I like their second album much better, but there isn't even a good video to link to off their second album. It's sortof too bad because even though this is a band that you all may not like, I don't feel like these videos available accurately represent them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Awesome Music Week: Phoenix

I first heard them: Last week on Saturday Night Live
Would Side Bar like them?: possibly
Would Open Bar like them?: probably not, it's a little new wave-ish
Would LJT like them?: Since the default is no, we'll go with that.
Bonus Guess, Would WinIt like them?: Indubitably. If there were a party at his place, this would be on the playlist before the party would be canceled.

(Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a debate raging among grammerians as to whether canceled is spelled with one or two L's? It seems like it should be two, but for some reason, one L seems to be the technically proper use. Both are acceptable in Microsoft Word. It's kinda strange.)

There's a thin line between real good band and a bunch of douchebags, and Phoenix toes that line really well. There's a real possibility that I'd be the only of the four of us who'd like this band. These gies have what some might deem strikes against even before any songs play. First of all they're from France. Secondly they have a real distinct 80s laid back pop sound. You can almost imagine them with huge hair and androgenous clothes jumping around on the stage. Despite that fact, however, I'm really digging on them in the last week or so. I've basically spent the last week listening to a lot of these gies along with our last two entrants, Glasvegas and the Ting Tings.

This particular band just seems to hit me in a sweet spot. Really mellow vibe, catchy tunes, the singer has a cool voice. And they use their synthesizer really well. It's not overused, as is probably the temptation, but it really adds to every song. Phoenix seems to me like the type of band that would really appeal to people under the influence of mind altering substances. I can't really say this for sure, but for some reason they just throw off that kindof vibe to me. This band has actually been around for a long time. They released their first album in 2000, I believe, and actually have 4 albums all together. Their first couple records are not as great as their more recent efforts, in my opinion. They really seem to have grown into their sound. This song posted below, 1901, represents everything that is good about them. Kick back, put your feet up, and break out your phat nug if you're still into that sort of thing, because you'll need it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Awesome Music Week: Glasvegas

I first heard them: Last week on the Jimmy Fallon show. Maybe it was the week before.
Would Side Bar like them?: Yes.
Would Open Bar like them?: Yes.
Would LJT like them?: Actually, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say yes.

Glasvegas is just a fucking rock and roll band from Glsgow, Scotland. The "fucking" was definitely necessary in that last sentence, lest you were wondering. The absolute best part about this band is that the guy sings with a phatty Scottish brogue on every song and it's great. In addition to that, though, the songs are really good.

What I love about this band is that you kindof get glimpses of their influences, but you really can't say that it sounds particularly like anyone else. Part of it is the accent that the gie sings with, but just when you think it's about to get derivative, it goes and switches it up a little bit. The sound of the band is not groundbreaking or drastically different or anything like that, but in an era when other gies are trying to reinvent the wheel, Glasvegas is just coming out and kicking ass.

I genuinely believe this is the one band that all of you gies would like.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Awesome Music Week: The Ting Tings

I first heard them: Like two weeks ago on the Jimmy Fallon Show
Would Side Bar like them?: ahhh, perhaps not
Would Open Bar like them?: almost certainly
Would LJT like them?: Obviously since it's not ultra-legendary classic rock or nascent rap, then he would not

Ok, the Ting Tings fucking rock. I know I've said that at least two out of three of our other authors probably wouldn't like them, but that's just because they're malcontents who don't have open minds. This album, We Started Nothing, by the Ting Tings is just super retro punk pop. The album is just super duper fun, has slamming bass beats, and can't help but remind you of Blondie. It weaves between punk and pop, harkens back to some disco, and skips over that new wave thing that apparently Open Bar doesn't love like I do.

Listening to this album is like being lifted up for about 45 minutes and floating around for a while and then being put gently back down. I've had the album for about a week now and I've listened to it a ton despite the fact that I've also bought a lot of other music in that time. Who are the Ting Tings? You may recognize them from such songs as "That's Not My Name" which is currently getting some play or from that iPod commercial a little while back with "Shut Up and Let Me Go". Anyway, I love this record. I love the one wave of energy that starts with the first track and never lets up.

...and the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums.

Playing Baseball With the Monte Carlo Method

This article in the New York Times about using computer simulations to model scenarios in baseball games is really interesting. In essence, rather than try to come up with an ubercomplicated statistical model to predict outcomes, some gies just write a computer simulation program and then model like 100 or 1,000 or even 10,000 entire seasons in order to smooth out the stats and so forth. Now obviously all this depends on how good your simulator is, but since they've been around since the 1950s, I'm guessing they've made some headway in the field.

The most interesting part about this is that the guy who created one of the more well respected simulators is now employed by the Red Sox. I've got to say I'm really impressed by the Red Sox approach to the game. They also employ the guy who invented sabermetrics, which tries to accomplish the same thing as these simulators, but looks at the problem from a different perspective. I'm confident that all of this research affects the types of players that are currently on their roster, but I wonder how much of this actually gets onto the field in terms of strategy and lineups and such. Anyway, whoever decided to hire Theo and these other gies at the Red Sox was a foreward thinking dude.

I like math

Monday, April 6, 2009

Awesome Music Week: Vampire Weekend

I've been tearing up iTunes recently downloading tons of music. I've discovered a bunch of music that isn't necessarily new to the world, but is new to me. At the same time, I've had a couple of discussions, with Side Bar in particular, about where I hear about new music or find new bands. Well, I've been making a real effort recently to find new music and such so I'm going to make a series of posts regarding this music and some notes and so forth.

It was over a year ago that I made a post about Arcade Fire being my new favorite band, and it was about two weeks ago that Side Bar says to me, "Chuck, I have to talk to you. I downloaded the Arcade Fire album and it's really good." My response was a civilized, "Fuck you." In that vein, I'm going to try to match some of these picks to our other authors in the hopes that maybe they'll take my advice.

Ok, here we go. Awesome music week.

Vampire Weekend
I first saw them: On Saturday Night Live in March of last year.
Would Side Bar like them?: He would love it over time.
Would Open Bar like them?: Yeah, I think so.
Would LJT like them?: LJT only likes the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and rap music produced between 1989-1995. So, no, he won't like any of this.

Ironically, I first encountered these guys within a couple of days of my posting about Arcade Fire. I say ironically becuase these guys are another of my favorites. They have only one album to date, but man is it great. Describing their music is moderately difficult in that it's really a fusion of pop music with some really interesting international influence. They've got interesting drum cadences, flute like instruments, strings all over the place, and all sorts of strange and exciting energy. Their music makes you think of Paul Simon's Graceland given the obvious international influence except with a bit more vigor.

Another thing that makes these guys awesome is that they formed when they were all students at Columbia. So that's cool. I only bring that up because the lyrics of a lot of their songs are really New York-centric. They also really play up an image of a bunch of preppy WASP kids, but it seems clear that it's more of a parody. Many of their songs, however, are also about summering in Cape Cod and things of that nature.

Here's a sample for you. I think this song, "M79" really exemplifies their style. This isn't a music video, which is good, since their videos are actually kinda wack, especially in relation to the goodness of their songs. I've seen them perform on TV several times and they play with a lot of energy and get the crown hyped up and their videos really don't relay what I think is great about them.

More dumb predictions!

Last night was Opening Day for the 2009 baseball season, with the hated Braves topping the even-more-hated Phillies, 4-1. And on the heels of my incredibly prescient NCAA Tournament picks, I figured I'd throw out some more evidence here that humans cannot and should not predict the future.

NL East:

1. Mets
2. Phillies
3. Marlins
4. Braves
5. Nats

I'm fairly confident in my Nats placement; the others, not so much. This division should be a tight race all year, with the eventual winner maybe reaching only 88 wins or so. The top four teams are all good, but all have serious question marks. The improved Mets bullpen gives them the edge over the Phils, who have too many important players likely to downslide this year (Brad Lidge, Ryan "Mr. Overrated" Howard, Raul Ibanez, definitely Cole Hamels, who threw waaaaaay too many innings last year). The Braves season will depend on Larry Wayne Jones not getting hurt, which is like relying on Lucy not to move the football at the last second just this one time! The Marlins have a lot of young talent, but no one really knows how good most of them will play at this level. This team could possibly chase the wild card or battle the Nats for the cellar, depending on whether these kids can play or not.

NL Central:

1. Cubs
2. Cardinals
3. Brewers
4. Reds
5. Astros
6. Pirates

The Cubs' and Pirates' picks seem fairly secure, as Chicago is probably the NL's best team and the Pirates its worst. I think the Cards are due for a bump up this year, with Albert Pujols (somehow) still getting better and a returning Chris Carpenter. Granted, Carpenter's a huge mystery, but if he can approach his 2004-06 level (which is a lot to ask), he could make a huge difference. The Brewers lost C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets, which is too much quality starting pitching for even Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy and (my dark horse MVP candidate) Ryan Braun to make up for. Braun may turn into the best hitter in the league if continues to improve at this rate (and someone offs Pujols). The Reds could surprise everyone and possibly even snatch the Wild Card if absolutely everything falls into place. They have an awesome young corps (Volquez, Votto, Bruce) who could break out, and if Harang and Arroyo can rediscover their past form, look out. Then again, they also have the worst hitter in baseball (Willy Taveras). And I don't know much about the Astros except that Lance Berkman's a really good hitter, Roy Oswalt should demand a trade, and Carlos Lee should ease up on the cheeseburgers.

NL West

1. Dodgers
2. Diamondbacks
3. Rockies
4. Giants
5. Padres

Again, the top pick was easy, so was the bottom, and the middle three are fairly interchangeable. I give the D-Backs the edge largely due to their dual aces, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. But how will they score? They didn't re-sign Adam Dunn, and their top hitter, Mark Reynolds -- while knocking 28 dingers -- struck out 204 fucking times. Holy balls, that's a lot. The Rockies have an old guy who used to be awesome (Todd Helton), a few young guys who should become household names (Chris Iannetta, Troy Tulowitski), and one guy who looks like a steady, above-average player (Brad Hawpe); as for their pitching, it doesn't look good, with the only bright spot being Ubaldo Jimenez -- and he walked 103 guys last year. Yuck. The Giants added Randy Johnson so who cares I'm done writing about them. And poor Jake Peavy, stuck in San Diego with a team that wouldn't be able to score more than 1 or 2 runs against the 1990 TBO Just Video squad, which we all played on except Chuck who we wouldn't have wanted anyway.

AL East

1. Red Sox
2. Rays
3. yankees
4. Blue Jays
5. Orioles

The Red Sox pitching depth is astounding, and their lineup top to bottom is tough to beat. The best team in baseball, on paper at least. It's hard to see the Rays improving too much on last year's 97 wins, not in this division anyway. But they're probably the most fun team to watch, and if their younger players continue to improve, who knows how many they'll win. Picking the yanks third isn't out of bitterness; I really wonder whether Sabathia overthrew last year and whether his arm is shot for this year. A.J. Burnett has a recent injury history worthy of Larry Wayne Jones. Rivera (though still the man), Posada, Matsui, and Pettitte are all already old as fuck -- and that's "old" as in "for the earth," not for clubbing -- while Jeter and Damon are starting to downslide significantly. Teixeira is awesome, he could even win the MVP this year, but I don't think he'll be enough. The poor BJ's and Orioles don't have a chance, and who knows if they ever will. Then again, that's what everyone used to say about the Rays.

AL Central:

1. Indians
2. Twins
3. Royals
4. Tigers
5. White Sox

This division blows. A team here could tally only 85 wins and still take it. Which makes it kind of interesting I guess. Hey, the friggin' Royals might steal this thing, and they haven't won shit since Side Bar and I were on Cedar Lane Texaco. I don't feel like getting into this division too much, except to say that Cleveland's Grady Sizemore is one of the best players in baseball, but people don't know too much about him because:
  • He plays in a small market.
  • He hasn't hit .300 yet, and sports journalists still think that's more important than OPS-ing .876 while being one of the best center-fielders in the world.
  • His dumbass manager still bats him leadoff, even though he clocked 33 dingers last year. This keeps his RBI total (another way-overrated stat) below 100, and thus beyond the notice of Joe Sportswriter.
AL West:

1. A's
2. Mariners
3. Angels
4. Rangers

You know what I said about the AL Central sucking? Ditto here. I feel like 87-88 wins will DEFINITELY claim this division, and it could be any of those top three. The A's starting rotation's average age is under 24, which sounds like they'll deal with some high-ups and low-downs this year. Matt Holliday was a great pickup, and I'd say the same about adding Nomar and Giambi if this were like eight years ago. The Mariners, with Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez, and Ichiro, now have by far the best outfield in baseball -- which makes you wonder if Griffey will get any non-DH time. (He shouldn't.) The Angels have some bigger names and somehow they seem to get really lucky every year, but their top 3 starters are hurt right now and I hate the friggin' Angels especially Mike Scoscia so fuck him. The Rangers? Wow do they suck.

Odd notes:

One thing I'm interested to see this year is how the two leagues stack up during interleague play. The past few seasons, the AL has demolished the NL, but this year may be different. Sure, the three best teams in baseball (Red Sox, Rays, yankees) are all in the AL, but after that, there's a serious dropoff in quality. I'm not saying the NL will catch up entirely this year, but it seems as though the pendulum has at least started to swing back.

Quickly, on the Mets: It's quite strange following last year's horror to say that the part of this year's team I'm most confident in is the bullpen, but there you have it. That's also the biggest problem: What I'm most worried about is the guys who actually play 90 percent of the game -- the hitters and the starting pitchers. Sure, Johan, D-Dub, Reyes and Beltran are as close to locks as anyone, but after that is nothing but question marks (Maine, Pelfrey, Delgado, Church, Murphy), outright worries (Perez), and guys who fucking suck (Livan, Castillo, Schneider). Maybe it'll come together, who knows, but especially after the last two years, it's on those assholes to prove that they're worth the irrational amount of attention and emotion I squander every goddamn year. FUCKING WIN, JERKOFFS!

Also, this year bodes well for some wild and crazy trading, even before the July 31 deadline. With the recession, many small-market teams are gonna end up dumping salary, and fast if they're not doing well early. The Mets certainly need more bats and, especially, arms, but I just worry that they emptied the farm system last year to get Johan (which certainly wasn't a mistake, mind). Basically, if you're making a bunch of money playing for a team that isn't contending and/or located in New York, Boston, Chicago, or L.A., you will likely be on the trading block. I'll bet that most team rosters look far more different at the end of this year than they would had the recession not destroyed most teams' economic prospects.

With that last point in mind, it's particularly dumb to make these sorts of predictions this year, as we have no idea what players are going to play for which teams in six months. But I did it anyway, and if you're still reading all the way down here, dude, go outside. Live a little.

Award predictions:

It's always really stupid to do this, but what the hell.

NL MVP: Manny Ramirez (maybe: Ryan Braun)
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana (dark horse: Derek Lowe, dude looked sick last night)
NL Rookie: Jordan Schafer (homered in his first at-bat last night)

Best Pennant Race: East

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore (maybe: Mark Teixeira)
AL Cy Young: Scott Kazmir, because God hates the Mets (dark horse: one of the kids on the A's)
AL Rookie: Matt Wieters (this kid, the new catcher for the Orioles, is the next big star in MLB)

Best Pennant Race: East

Not to be an east-coast-bias guy, but the quality teams in both leagues seem saturated in the East divisions (Cubs and Dodgers excepted), which isn't to say that the other four divisions won't be close. It's just that -- at this point -- the teams aren't as good overall, so I'll be less interested in watching.



Division Series: Mets over Dodgers, Cubs over Phillies
NLCS: Mets over Cubs


Division Series: Red Sox over A's, Rays over Indians
ALCS: Red Sox over Rays

World Series:

Red Sox over Mets, with me slitting my wrists at how the Mets manage to blow a 3-1 series lead. ARGH!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The end of an ERa

How's that for clever titling? Get it? Because the post is about the last episode of ER? With the capital E and the R....for ER.....get it?

Anyway, last night was the last episode of ER and I felt some small need to post about it. I mean, I don't think there wasn't a time for any of us when ER wasn't required viewing. Of course, that time may have been 1996, but still, I'm kinda sad to see it go. Incidentally, which show do you think won the "Chicago hospital drama war" between ER and Chicago Hope?

Circa 2005, I wrote a post about how I had started watching ER again. I've been watching it since then, and I have to say the show was still really engaging into its 15th season. After having taken a few years off from ER and then picking it up again, I feel like this is one of the better shows in television history.

I mean, I could go on and on about how good this show is and, now that it's off the air, I'm sure people would agree with me, but there are really a couple of things I want to highlight. First is that the one thing I can say with certainty about ER is that it was really consistent. ER is the Derek Jeter of TV shows. Second is that they essentially turned that cast over every 5 years or so and still managed to keep the show interesting and entertaining and engaged in the new characters.

I don't want to bore anyone with recaps of the plot or anything like that, except to say that I was pretty happy with the whole last season, which essentially acted like a really long last episode. And the last episode was a little bit of a departure in that it was basically an homage to the first episode, but that also was satisfying.

Again, I know everyone else probably stopped watching ER in 1999, but I just felt it was worth mentioning.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What is the "Best Movie Ever"?


The world will never agree on what the Best Movie Ever is, even though it's quite clear to me that the answer is "Back to the Future."

See? You're already saying, "What the fuck kind of choice is that?" You might choose "The Godfather," and you'd have a hell of a case. You might say "Casablanca," and only an idiot would immediately disqualify it. You might run into some guy who thinks "Turtle Diary" was good. Of course, if that last case were to happen, you'd be within your Constitutional rights to throat-punch him, then go to his house, burn it down, and kick his dog, but let's be reasonable.

The point is, questions like "What's the Best Movie Ever?" are inherently subjective, and therefore cannot be positively determined. What makes a movie "the best" or even "good" differs from person to person. If the question is "What's the most influential movie ever?" then you at least have some kind of parameter. But even then, "Birth of a Nation" (in which the KKK are the heroes) would be near the top, and you'd probably have to include something like "The Jazz Singer," which is godawful bad, but it was the first "talkie," thus making it influential as all hell.

But the idea of a "Best Movie Ever" is nonsense. You could take a vote or something, but since when is art democratic? And who would vote? Everyone who's ever seen a movie?

I think the best answer to "What's the Best Movie Ever?" is whatever your favorite movie is. If it's your favorite -- and I don't care if it's "Citizen Kane" or "Billy Madison" -- that's the Best Movie Ever as far as you're concerned. Which again proves my scientific theory that "Back to the Future" is, in fact, the Best Movie Ever.

Why "Back to the Future"? Because I love it more than the others, that's why. And if I had to qualify it somehow, I would say that it does just about everything well, in terms of what movies can do: Great characters (George McFly, Biff, Doc Fucking Brown, et al), a super-creative story (boy travels back in time only to have his future mother fall in love with him), great music (Huey Lewis and doo wop?!), ground-breaking special effects, memorable dialogue ("I am your density...I mean, your destiny."), tremendous action sequences (the skateboard chase ending in manure-on-Biff), emotionally touching moments (George and Laraine finally kiss, and Marty can play the guitar again!), an excellent ending ("Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."). What more could you want out of two hours?

But that's just me. If we were, for example, to vote on what this blog's Best Movie Ever is, my money would be on "The Princess Bride." After all, it has certain qualities even "Back to the Future" (BTTF) can't claim. Some of these are fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles – all good things for a movie. And yes, BTTF has fighting, chases, escapes, true love, and – if you're a strict laws-of-time-and-space guy – miracles. But while these qualities have the same name, those things occur very differently in each film. If I had organized this post better, I would have used that whole bit as evidence that voting on the Best Movie Ever doesn't make it so for, say, anyone else reading this.

I guess the point is that calling a piece of art – in this case, a movie – the Best Ever is a waste of time if you're actually serious about it. LJT and I have argued for years about the Best Rock Band Ever, with LJT claiming The Beatles and my saying Led Zeppelin, but I think we both enjoy the argument more than the “answer.” He isn't “right” and I'm not “right” (even though I'm right). I agree with him that the Beatles are more “influential,” and he agrees that Jimmy Page was the Best Guitarist of either group. We both agree that John was the Best Beatle, and we've both recently discovered a greater appreciation for how awesome Ringo was, but neither of us would say he was a better drummer than John Bonham.

I guess the joy is in the discussion, not the resolution. Someone else could enter the room and say that Keith Moon was better than John Bonham, or that "Goodfellas" is better than "The Godfather," or that Pepsi is better than Coke, or that Walter is funnier than The Jesus, or blah blah blah ...

It all boils down to the fact that there's no way to measure these things. “There's no accounting for taste” and all that. It differs from an argument over, say, who the Best Baseball Player Ever was. With baseball, you can examine what each player actually did. Records are kept, and they offer clear-cut evidence of performance. If you analyze that, you cannot say with intellectual honesty that the Best Baseball Player Ever was anyone but Babe Ruth. If you choose someone else – and you are free to do so – I can show you piles of evidence that you're wrong. Baseball players leave an observable and objective record of performance, which we can measure, unlike bands or movies or even pieces of candy (Snickers being the best).

Anyway, I know a lot of this is fairly obvious, but it's something I've thought a lot about and this is a blog and as a blogger I feel obligated to let it out here, in the hopes of generating discussion, of course. Hell, if Side Bar can list a bunch of restaurants in Teaneck and elicit all those thoughtful comments, I figure “What's the Best Movie Ever?” might work.

"Back to the Future" is the Best Movie Ever. Am I wrong to say that?