Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Old School Album of the Day: Kid A

I've had this record for a while now, but for some reason I never really listened to it. Is it still appropriate to call it a record since I don't actually even own a physical copy of the record. I'm talking about the Radiohead album, Kid A, for the record. Ha, record has two meanings. Something made me actually listen to it recently. I can't really say what it was, but whatever it was I want to thank it.

This album is practically ineffable. It's transcends the "good" label. It's working on an entirely different level. It's simultaneously beautiful, dissonant, challenging, attainable, linear, disjointed, depressing, joyful, multi-layered, stripped down, non-musical, and perfectly melodic. I don't know what it's trying to accomplish, but I'm at a point right now where I can't stop listening to it. It's like my brain hasn't completely heard all the sounds on the album and I have to come back to get all the data. I'm like Johnny 5 rolling around America looking for more input.

To say that this album is challenging I think would be an understatement. The only thing I can compare it to is the album by M.I.A., Arular, except that despite my blogging for years about how I love that M.I.A. album, I know none of you have ever heard it. Except with Kid A it's not challenging because the sounds are unique or anything, which is the case with the Arular, it's more like the sounds are just put together in a way that I've never heard before. I had to listen to it about 3 or 4 times just to even wrap my head around the whole idea of the album, and now I'm at a point where I'm just hooked.

And I typically hate saxophone in rock music (I love you, Clarence), but here it's used enormously effectively throughout the whole album (I love you too, LeRoi). I have all the Radiohead albums; I haven't listened to any of them nearly enough, but it's just amazing how different each of them sounds from each other one. OK Computer is similarly good, but I haven't listened to it enough to really comment on it yet.

Anyway, I think Idioteque is the most approachable part of the album as a single unit.

ADDED: "The National Anthem"

If You Were Gonna Have A Party...

My buddy, the Commodore, formerly known in blog parlance as Sushi Bar, recently asked me a question that I figured I'd open up to the forum. Incidentally, I changed his nickname because Sushi Bar was an exceedingly stupid nickname that I came up with and the Commodore is a good nickname, so there. Anyway, he's having a party (presumably in his new South American enclave) and wants to have an old school hip hop theme. Except he spent those formative years in Texas listening to the Judds or whoever, so he doesn't know anything about it. The question, then, is if you were to have an old school hip hop party, what would you include? For the sake of argument, let's say that old school is anything more than 10 years old.

The obvious ones:
"Scenario" - A Tribe Called Quest
"This or That" - Black Sheep
"OPP" - Naughty by Nature (You could substitute "Hip Hop Hooray" if necessary)
"Rapper's Delight" - Sugar Hill Gang
"Rock Box" - Run DMC (any song by Run DMC is acceptable. This is my favorite)
"They Want EFX" - Das EFX
"Momma Said Knock You Out" - LL Cool J
"Sometimes We Rhyme Slow" - Nice and Smooth
"Fugee La" - The Fugees
"The Humpty Dance" - Digital Underground

A couple of personal favorites:
"Parents Just Don't Understand" - DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
"Basketball" - Curtis Blow
"Where I'm From" - Digable Planets
"93 'Til Infinity" - Souls of Mischief

What would you include? My list is far more old school than 10 years. I should have included some Jay Z and probably Eminem. I also left a few out intentionally, in order to elicit some comments. So comment, biotches.

Monday, July 27, 2009

"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains...

This will come into play later.
(And don't read it. It sucks.)

...Think about that for a while."

In tonight's baseball contest between the Rockies of Colorado and the sucky Mets, one of those really odd things that shouldn't have happened happened.

The situation: Bottom of the 8th inning, game tied at 3. Rockies pitcher Juan Rincon walks the first two batters, Luis Castillo (of the astounding +.400 OBP) and David Wright.

Next up? Cleanup hitter Daniel Murphy. (Sigh) Who proceeds to bunt. (Is there a God?)

I'm lazy, so I won't do any research, but I'm willing to bet that it's highly infrequent for a major league baseball team to ask its cleanup hitter to bunt with two men on and nobody out in the 8th inning of a tie game. But bunt he did, and well, and the Mets wound up with 2nd and 3rd, one out, and the mighty Jeff Franceour coming to the plate.

If that bunt wasn't odd enough, the Astros decided to intentionally walk Franceour.

This is sacrelige. Franceour NEVER WALKS. He swings at everything. Since he joined the Mets, the only reason his OBP is higher than his average is because he got hit by a pitch. He hasn't taken a single walk in a Mets uniform, yet the Astros intentionally walk him.

To be clear, intentionally walking Jeff Franceour to load the bases late in a tie game is simply begging the baseball gods to punish you.

Now up? The fearsome (i.e. not fearsome) Cory Sullivan. Obviously terrified of the journeyman outfielder who was just brought up from the minors a few days ago, the Astros switch pitchers. This forces Mets "manager" Jerry Manuel to pinch hit Fernando Tatis. Now, the thing about Tatis is that he hits into double plays like Chris Brown does to Rihanna. Out of 52 double-play chances this year, he's hit into 13 -- a 25% percent rate, which is friggin' astronomical. It's almost like the opposing managers were having a Dumb Off.
"Okay, I'll walk the guy who swings at everything. Go."

"Fine. You want a double play? Here's my DP machine. Go."

"Oh yeah? Well I'm gonna remove my catcher from the game and replace him with reality TV star Kendra Wilkinson. Go."

"That all you got? Rather than a baseball bat, I'm sending my hitter up with this copy of Deception Point by Dan Brown (see above). He wrote it before The Da Vinci Code, bitch!"
So the new Rockies pitcher throws two ridiculously good pitches, which Fernando Tatis has no chance of ever hitting. 0-2 count. It's hopeless.

And, of course, on the next pitch, Fernando Tatis hits a fucking grand slam.

The baseball gods have spoken.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Goatboy on the Mets

Jim Breuer had this to say about being a Mets fan:

They suck. It’s like being in love with an alcoholic. It’s like, you constantly defend her, and people are like, ‘Dude, your alcoholic friend is a mess,’ and you’re like, ‘Nah, you don’t know her like I do.’

Oh, and consider this:

Since May 31, the Mets have posted a record of 16-29. In that same time period, the Washington Nationals have posted a record of 15-30. So at least we are slightly better than the worst team ever.

"The painting was a gift, Todd. I'm taking it with me."

In honor of wedding season, allow me to act like a girl and declare that I want my wedding to be like this one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Like the Sprite in You!

Roy Halladay not coming to the Mets (updated)

Is there a Doc in the house?

According to Jon Heyman, the Mets rejected an offer from the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay, where the Mets would have given up Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and Ruben Tejada.

Hm. How should we judge this one? Let's go through the facts:
  • Roy Halladay is one of, if not the best, pitchers in baseball.
  • He wants out of Toronto and to pitch for a team that can get to the postseason, where he's never been.
  • The Mets are in dire straits, with a gigantic payroll, no offense, no bench, one (excellent) starting pitcher, no other reliable starters, and a good-but-shaky bullpen
  • The extent of the Mets' injuries and the possibility of any stars returning soon are up in the air, but it certainly can't be described as "hopeful" or "likely" or "suck my dick, Omar." Okay, the last one, maybe.
  • Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, and Bobby Parnell have all shown promise, but certainly don't qualify as no-doubt keepers; and Ruben Tejada is some minor-league shortstop named Ruben Tejada (who may very well be good, but still).
Of course, there's the whole Don't Mortgage Your Future for an Aging Pitcher camp, which is fair and relevant. Halladay is 32 years old, getting on in years. So there's that, but also this: A) getting out of the A.L. East and B) switching to the National League would both certainly help him. The Mets would be guaranteed his services for the rest of this year and 2010. And next year, ideally, Reyes and Beltran will be back, Delgado gone for sure, and Maine, Pelfrey and (sigh) Perez will have an additional year on their resumes. A starting rotation (on paper) of Johan, Halladay, Maine, Pelf, and Ollie is top-heavy in a good way, with the back end hopefully not bad enough to destroy the team's hopes, and maybe good enough to dominate.

So how valuable are Fernando Martinez et al? Well, we just don't know, do we? But we do know, thanks to the brilliant Dave Cameron at Fangraphs, how valuable a season-and-a-half of Roy Halladay is:

"The market value for wins took a tumble on the low end last year, but at the high end, teams were still willing to pay around $5 million per win for premium free agents. Based on that, we’d say that Halladay’s fair market value is something like $30 to $35 million per season. However, those $5 million per win contracts were all long term deals, which carry extra risk to the organization and therefore pull down the annual average value that teams are willing to pay. With only a 15 month commitment, the long term risk with Halladay is substantially lower, and teams should (and will) pay a premium for that risk avoidance.

So, for a Cy Young contender only under contract through 2010, $5.5 million per win is probably a more accurate number to use. That puts Halladay’s market value between $33 and $38 million per year.

If we settle on $35 million as a middle ground, which puts him around a +6.5 win pitcher, we then [see] Halladay’s value through the end of his current contract is about $52 million - a full year of 2010 plus a half year of 2009. But, you can’t forget about the fact that he’s very likely to be a Type A free agent at the end of 2010, and the acquiring team would be able to recoup two quality draft choices if they didn’t re-sign him as a free agent [which] is around $8 million or so.

$52 million for Halladay’s performance + $8 million for the draft picks = $60 million in total value. He will be paid $22 million over that time frame, so 60-22 = $38 million.

To acquire the Jays ace, teams should be expected to surrender something like $40 million in value.

What does $40 million in value look like? Something like three terrific prospects who are not that far from the majors. No one’s giving up players from the Matt Wieters/David Price mold, but it’s going to take several players from that second prospect tier, the top 25-50 type guys.

Phillies fans - that’s Dominic Brown, Kyle Drabek, and Carlos Carrasco.

Mets fans? Fernando Martinez, Wilmer Flores, and Jenrry Mejia.

You get the idea. If the Blue Jays trade Roy Halladay, they’re going to ask for the moon. And they should. He’s worth it."

So yeah, it looks like the Mets would have to give up one of those three top prospects, replacing the other two with Niese (so?) and Tejada (meh) plus Parnell (whom I like, but am not attached to) in order to acquire this amazing pitcher.

My feeling is that they should do this trade, but the X factor, I guess, is the Wilpons and exactly how much money Bernie Madoff stole from them. Taking on Halladay's contract and losing those cheap players is a huge financial trade-off, no doubt, and we can't discount that element. But one more bit to toss in would be this -- if the Mets get him, then that means the Phillies don't get him.

The way I see it: Halladay's worth it, at least in terms of that thing that baseball teams should want more than anything to do: win.

UPDATE: Well, maybe Minaya didn't reject it after all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Obituary: New York Mets, 89 Games
Former Major League Baseball Team

Lets have a moment of silence for the 2009 Mets. They're gone before their time. A sad story really. A few observations.

Carlos Delgado started with a minor injury, he was day to day, then he was DL'ed as a precaution, now he's got a degenerative injury that may threaten his career (PS the Mets knew he had this hip condition when they re-upped his contract). Jose Reyes started with a minor injury, he was day to day, he was DL'ed as a precaution, and now he's got an injury that may threaten his season, Carlos Beltran had a lingering injury, was day to day, was DL'ed as a precaution, and now has an injury that may threaten his career, John Maine was initially DL'ed solely as a precaution with an injury that wasn't too serious, definitely didn't need all 15 days of DL time, but now he has an injury that is threatening his season. Now Gary Sheffield has had a lingering knee issue, has had several cortisone shots, and just last night seems to have seriously injured himself in his, wait for it, knee, except the Mets are saying he's just day to day at this point. Any guesses as to how that will turn out?

Let's not also forget Oliver Perez, JJ Putz, Ryan Church, Alex Cora, and Fernando Martinez have all spent extended periods of time on the DL this season as well.

Another thing. Omar, I'm at a loss as to what's going on with the reserves here. Are you getting some kind of AARP discount rates on hotel stays by having Alex Cora, Gary Sheffield, Fernando Tatis, Tim Redding, Ramon Martinez, and Argenis Reyes on the roster? This is a pattern. Over the past several years the Mets have entered the season with guys like Moises Alou and Marlon Anderson as starting outfielders. In fact, does anyone even remember the last time the Mets had 3 solid outfielders playing every day? Was it 1988?

Omar, for every good move you've made, I can count 3 bad ones that have cancelled that good one out. And these are not things that turned out badly in retrospect. There wasn't anyone except for you who wanted to do things like sign Moises Alou, sign Guillermo Mota, pick up the option on Delgado, and sign Louis Castillo to a fucking 4 year deal when no one else even wanted him and his two different length legs walking all lopsided and shit. And I don't even want to start on the bullpen.

I guess we can't really expect much from a team whose owner isn't even a Mets fan. Have you seen that Rotunda? Does he know that the Dodgers are still in existence?

Lastly, I just want to issue an apology from a Mets fan to Ryan Church. Ryan, I have no idea why the team tried to threaten your life by putting you on a plane the day after your second concussion and go to Denver Colorado, of all places. I don't know why they didn't let you get healthy before trying to put you back on the field. I don't know why they refused to play you every day after you finally did get healthy no thanks to the team. I have no idea why you would be sitting on the bench watching Gary Sheffield and Fernando Tatis run around the outfield like it was a Boca Raton early bird dinner buffet. You got a raw deal, you should have played every day, you could have been a contender. At least you're in a better place now and I wish you well. That's more than I can say for the rest of us who are still stuck with this "baseball team".

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years

So much has changed in recent days, what with the untimely deaths of Michael Jackson, Steve McNair, Farrah Fawcett and Arturro Gatti; the resignation of everyone's favorite hot Republican governor, Sarah Palin; and Iran & China going crazy with protesters.

Fortunately, however, dear blog reader even in these uncertain times where the world seems to be changing daily we can hold on to one constant.

One sure thing.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, do not fear because whatever happens, Ron Artest will always be crazy.

Bless his heart.

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

My one question is: is Ron dying next year or is Michael returning from the dead?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Frabulous Playlist

UPDATE: I did some extensive searching through some old mix CDs I had a discovered a bunch of songs last night that were not in my iTunes Library. Many of them went directly onto the Frabulous playlist. As a result, rather than 192 songs, the Frabulous playlist now has 237 songs, all of which are reflected on the list.

It took longer than it seems like it should to make a list of all the songs on the Frabulous Playlist. If you missed something, I posted earlier about making the perfect iTunes playlist. And yes, the second song on the list (sorted alphabetically) is "After The Rain" by Nelson. Deal with it, bitch. I am not suggesting that these are the only good songs in the world. I'm also not suggesting that the list will remain static forever or that there aren't other songs that are good enough to be on the list.

I'll start your comment for you. Choose from one of the below:
a) This playlist sucks because....
b) How can you say this is the best playlist ever when you don't even have...
c) I don't believe you have [song name] on the list and you claim this is a good list...
d) Now that I've read your playlist I know why you pussy out of fights all the time.
(choose d only if angry at the whole world)

Short Al

Things are getting slow over at the New York Times, but Chuck and LJT will certainly appreciate this. He's no Doris FRP, but still a mainstay.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Zen and the Art of the iTunes Playlist

I first got an iPod in 2005. Getting an iPod versus having a CD player is one of those enormous leaps on the technological timeline that really is life changing. I don't want to overstate the idea when I say it's life changing. It's not like having a kid or anything, but at the same time, for someone who likes to listen to music (and I assume that everyone falls into that category. Like making a subgroup of people who like breathing), having an iPod changes the way you live your life. First of all, you don't have to buy CDs anymore. Secondly, you can carry your entire music collection on one iPod. I'm guessing that I have a relatively large and eclectic music collection that has grown pretty steadily since roughly 1989. My collection, combined with my wife's comprises roughly 30GB of memory on my iPod, which is cabaple of holding 80GB. So I've got a ways to go.

Incidentally, at the time i bought my current iPod, the choices in terms of memory (side note: I really hate people who use the term vis-a-vis and also people who use the suffix -wise. For example in this current sentence, if you would say "my choices vis-a-vis memory" or "my choices memorywise" then you suck. If you use the first one, then you are a pretentious douche, the heir to the Masengill fortune, if you will. If you use the second one, then you need to gain a firmer grasp on the English language to more clearly state what you mean.) were to get an iPod that held 4GB, 8GB, 80GB, and 160GB, and nothing in between. I really only needed like 40GB to hold my existing collection and potentially grown into a slightly larger one, but that choice was lacking. At the same time, I seriously considered buying the 160GB one because it was actually a good value vis-a-vis paying like $50 more for twice as much memory, but then I decided I would never use the 80GB, so there was no way I'd ever use the 160GB.

All of this is sortof beside the point I want to make, except that it's all related iPodwise. My real point is that since I got that first iPod in 2005 I've been working on creating the perfect iTunes playlist. It's much harder than it seems it should be. The nature of the iTunes playlist is that you are not limited by things like space and time (Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.) and as such, you can make the playlist as long as you want. On a CD you've got to pare the choices down to basically 15 or so songs, so you end up with a pretty tight mix every time (it's in the gies) although it could get boring to listen to in a couple months or so. My working theory was that I should be able to create one playlist that I could listen to forever. It would basically act as what I would consider to be the perfect radio station with songs from every genre with different energies and really the only thing they have in common is awesomeness.

With awesomeness as my copilot my first iTunes playlist, creatively titled "Jerry's Playlist", consisted of about 600 songs. I would put my iPod on shuffle, and listen to it wherever I went. In the car, running, walking to places, you get the idea. The problem with the 600 song playlist is that there are too many marginally good songs and not enough awesome songs. I would end up skipping a lot of songs and that kindof defeated the purpose of the perfect playlist in my mind. The second playlist I made, "The Short List", was created to remedy that song skipping situation. I knew the problem was that there were too many songs on the list and I needed to limit myself to only songs that I really liked. That list had about 350 songs. The second list ended up being only the second step in the evolutionary process. Still there were some songs that were not good enough to stand up to repeated listening, which is to say forever.

About three weeks ago I created what, to date, is the greatest iTunes playlist ever created. It's titled "Frabulous", obviously, and it has 192 songs. I went through my entire music library and picked only the songs that I was confident I could listen to over and over for eternity. The other day something happened that has never happened before. I was listening to the playlist at work and the music stopped. I thought it might be a really low intro to a song and then I thought that the battery may have died, but when I looked at the iPod, it turns out that I had actually listened to the entire playlist all the way through. Again, this is something that has never happened. Typically I'll listen to the playlist until I get in the mood to listen to a particular album or a specific song and then I'll back out of the playlist to do that and then come back to it. When you come back to the playlist it reshuffles the songs and the count starts over again.

In short, this playlist is amazing. It's as close to perfect as I've come so far vis-a-vis playlistwise. I was initially confounded by my ability to make what was essentially a neverending playlist, but now I realize that all good things must come to an end. Like this post.