Saturday, February 27, 2010

Get Off My Shoes, Bitch

Happy Birthday, LJT. Thirty two years of misanthropy and still going strong.

I rock blazers with Birkenstocks

This Will Ultimately Cost Me A Lot Of Money

Ok, so Pandora Radio is a website where you type in the name of a band or a song you like and then they create a radio station for you based on that selection. You have the opportunity to rate every song that they play, which further refines the selections. First off, this is just a really good idea. It's like you love a certain type of music, but maybe you're tired of listening to the same albums over and over again or you want to discover something new. Also if you have a job where you sit in front of a computer all day or something of that nature, this would be way better than listening to a real radio station. Every few songs they play a sponsor commercial, but only one. You can just stream it over the internet and hook up some headphones or whatever. They also have a free iPhone app so you can listen to it anywhere.

So today is the first time I've listened to this for any extended period of time. To start with, I put that I wanted to hear songs similar to Arcade Fire, whom I love. So obviously they play an Arcade Fire song first. Cool. Then the next song is "Let Down" from Radiohead. I have also developed a recent pseudo-obsession with Radiohead. And "Let Down" is easily my favorite Radiohead song. So we're off to a good start with this Pandora thing. The next song they play I've never heard before, but it's awesome. It's called "Hummingbird" by Wilco. Then the next song is similarly awesome. A song called "Nothing Better" by The Postal Service. Anyway, the point is that this Pandora thing is a pretty amazing idea along with similarly amazing execution to this point. Not all the songs are super fantastic, but they are all at least pretty good.

Anyway, I go to iTunes and I end up buying those two albums from Wilco and The Postal Service based on the previews and the strength of those songs. I'm afraid that if I keep listening to Pandora Radio, I'm gonna end up spending a lot of money on iTunes. Now, I've listened to about 20 songs so far and I haven't ended up buying all of the albums, so that's good. But I have a real fear that this may be something I end up putting a lot into.

UPDATE: PS - I strongly encourage everyone to go to Pandora, put in A Tribe Called Quest and sit back and relax. Make sure you have like 3 hours to kill, though, because once they play "The Reminisce Over You" by Pete Rock and CL Smooth, you'll never want to turn it off.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Can't Find Shit in Duane Reade

Today on my way home, I need to stop off at Duane Reade here in Journal Square. And so I did and as I wandered about, I was thinking how I can never find shit in Duane Reade or CVS for that matter.

Now, first of all, I have become increasingly blind in recent years and usually I'm not wearing my glasses so I don't look at the signs hanging up. And even if I am wearing glasses, I generally don't look anyway. I don't know why, maybe it's like asking for directions or something.

Anyway, I have a really hard time navigating these stores. It just seems that things are in no logical order. I mean, toothpaste, facewash, body soap. Things of washing of any kind should all be together. And deodorant should be nearby. But it seems like these aisles are randomly interspersed throughout the store in no seemingly logical order. It drives me crazy and it seems like the order is different in every store. I then become determined to find shit without "cheating" and looking at the signs. If it gets to be mad long, I'll read the signs but I try not to.

Friday, February 19, 2010

More fake Real Men of Genius, this time with audio!

Following up on Side Bar's prior take on those genius Bud Light ads, here's one made for that strange and at-times pathetic creature known as the Mets Fan.

As a card-carrying member of the species, I present you with this bit of song:

(Oh, and fuck the Braves. Quick question: What's the difference between jam and jelly? Answer here.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the knicks make a trade at the deadline

this post is written with no capital letters on purpose, to show my lack of enthusiasm or faith in the knicks.

i haven't even acknowledged our junior varsity team since this post two and a half years ago but today the ny knickerbockers traded jared jeffries and got back tracy mcgrady in return. it was a three way trade, i think.

anyway, it seems like a good deal - we get to see if t-mac, whose contract expires this year, has anything left in the tank while getting rid of one of isiah's overpriced signings at the same time. plus, if mcgrady is any good and resigns it helps their chances of getting lebron and another good player - which is really the only chance of restoring legitimacy to this awful franchise.

The Awesomest Event

Seriously, dude, curling is the best sport in the winter Olympics. Yup, curling. I have watched several hours worth of curling so far during this, the XXI'st winter games. And once I start watching it, I can't stop. It's ridiculously engaging. When you first put it on it's like, "this is so weird. They're sweeping the ice and there's a target and I just don't get it." But then as you watch it, everything comes into focus. It's actually sortof like if you put pool and darts together with air hockey, you would get curling. Someone was in a bar one day and came up with this sport.

It's basically just a spatial reasoning game. But then once you put together the strategy you have to go out and execute it. But it's not like the NFL where executing the strategy involves being more athletic than 99.5% of the people on Earth. You just gotta shoot yourself down the ice a little bit and gauge the strength of your shot correctly. I want to join a curling club. Do you think they have that at Chelsea Piers or something?

I know I'm not an Olympic level curler, so I guess I'm clearly wrong, but it seems to me that these teams take the wrong strategy a lot of the time. I seem to almost always disagree with the way the teams play particular shots. Also, the US sucks at curling. The men's and women's team are a combined 0-7 so far. And the captain of the men's team, who is 0-4, has missed 4 game winning shots to date. The womens team hasn't missed bad shots, but in the two of their games I've seen, they've suffered from one really super bad end in each game (the games are separated into 10 innings, except they're called ends instead of innings). They've ended up giving up like 3 points in a particular end in each of these games when the general wisdom of the game says that they should have scored one or two points instead. So both the teams have shot themselves in the foot. And at the same time I'm sitting on my couch having never curled in my life and I'm disagreeing with the strategy the whole way. And then I think to myself, "Yeah well you painted yourself into that corner and that's why you gave up 3 points," but the announcers seem to think it's just bad breaks, and I guess they know more than I do.

Anyhow, I haven't really been glued to this Olympics as I have in every other Olympics that I can think of, but I definitely love curling. I wish it wasn't only on every 4 years. Also I'm clearly drawn to the more technical sports, because the other sport I love to watch is speed skating. Regular speed skating, not that short track nonsense.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Adios, sweet Marlboro Lights, may flights of Bloombergs sing thee to thy rest

Tonight, Fat Tuesday, I will enjoy my last night of intimacy with my longtime companion.

European cigarette packs are subtle.

I've agreed (along with a friend) to give up cigarettes for Lent. So that's 40 days until Easter, when technically I'll be "allowed" to smoke again. Thing is, I can't really see myself returning to the sweet tobacco product if I can make it that long.

I've wanted to quit for some time now, so this seems like as good a plan as any. I have no idea what my willpower will be like, whether I'll hold up a day, or two, or a week, or maybe even make it all the way. I may find the physical withdrawal too difficult. Maybe the best move for me would be to taper, as opposed to cold turkey. I suppose we'll see.

I've actually cut down quite a bit these last few years, from a clear pack-a-day habit to now only about 3 or so a week. I pretty much don't smoke at all anymore unless I'm drinking, which, unfortunately I do a little too often.

I look forward to an overall healthier lifestyle. After 11 years of inhaling tobacco regularly, obviously there will be lingering effects (if not worse), but I figure the best step forward there would be to quit smoking, right? So there's that. Plus I'm starting to get back into shape. (Anyone else ever tried this 100 Pushups thing? I'm two weeks in, and it feels great so far, though I still can't see how I'll be able to do 100 straight in such a short time period. We shall see.)

I won't smell like ass when I come home at night; neither will my bedroom or living room or half my wardrobe. So that's good too. I can start to reverse the yellowing process of my teeth, which will inevitably lead to my bedding Blake Lively, which is nice. Also, it'll be nice not hacking up a ton of blackish/greenish/brownish phlegm after particularly heavy-smoking nights.

Oh, and the money too. At about $10 per pack, cigs eat into one's paycheck. Pretty soon I'll be able to afford that 5th Avenue apartment I've always wanted.

All in all, that sounds pretty good.

But then there's the scary part. I really have no idea how well I'll be able to handle the inevitable cravings. Smoking has become wholly entwined in at least two major areas of my life: drinking and writing. I'm probably even more intimidated by the prospect of writing without chain-smoking. Writing is something I do alone, with no one to support me when all I'll be able to think about is how bad I want to light up. Whereas with drinking, I can at least bitch and moan to someone about what a silly decision I made and how it would be so easy to have one, just one little cig.

Any advice from any former smokers is welcome, though I get the feeling that quitting is a process unique to each individual.

So if you're interested, I'll be living up Fat Tuesday tonight by watching Lost and chain smoking myself into a hacking, wheezing mess.

But hopefully for the last time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

In Defense of Eli

In the weeks leading up to the Superbowl - and then last night as we all gathered to watch it - there was a lot of talk about Peyton Manning. He is, by all accounts, one of the very best quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL. His numbers are great, his comebacks legendary, and his four MVPs a league record. And the pass he threw to Dallas Clark in what looked like triple coverage late in the game yesterday was just sick.

As Giants fans we occasionally lament that we have the younger, good brother instead of the older, incredible brother (a feeling Mrs. Side Bar presumably knows all too well). But I have always maintained that Peyton grew into his greatness slowly, and entered the league as a good, but not great, quarterback. Likewise, I have always insisted that while Eli may never quite reach the level that Peyton has been on for the past few years, he is on a trajectory to develop into a great quarterback in his own right.

The numbers support my theory (to some extent, anyway). Eli has played five full seasons in the NFL (I am discounting the seven games he started in 2004 as a mid-season replacement for the struggling-but-then-of-course-became-fantastic-again-when-he-left-the-Giants Kurt Warner); Peyton has played 12 full seasons in the NFL. So comparing Eli to Peyton now is a no-brainer --- Peyton is light years better. But that is an apples to oranges comparison. If you consider their numbers over the same period in their respective careers, the distinctions become much finer.

Just give me my fucking keys; I am not guessing which hand

In Peyton's first five seasons in the NFL his numbers were better, but definitely not much better than Eli's. Peyton's completion percentage was about four percentage points higher than Eli's over those first five years. That's four more completed passes per 100 attempts, or about 15-20 more per season. That's probably statistically significant (care to run the numbers, Chuck?), but not by much. Similarly, his passer rating was, on average, about five points higher than Eli's over those first five seasons. But in two of the five Eli actually posted a better passer rating than Peyton did, it is just that a miserable 2007 season (yes, that 2007 season) stands as an outlier and reduces Eli's overall average. Peyton threw 19 more TDs in his first five seasons in the NFL than Eli did, but he also threw 21 more interceptions than Eli during that span. (Both the TD and interception numbers are probably explained by the fact that Peyton attempted 221 more passes in his first five seasons than Eli did in his). And of course, Eli won a Superbowl in his third year, while Peyton won his first (and only, suck it) in his seventh year.

Are Peyton's numbers better over that span? Sure. But as I said at the top, they are certainly within the range of what Eli has done over the course of his first five years in the league. Now add in the fact that Peyton plays in a dome, on a pass-first team, and for the period in question he was choosing between Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison as his targets. By comparison, the Giants are (or were, until this year, when Eli had by far the best season of his career) a running team, playing a lot of games in weather that makes it tougher to pass, and have never had an elite corps of receivers (except the often-disgruntled and now incarcerated Plaxico Burress).

Of course, there is one very important number I haven't touched on yet -- 4, the number of MVP awards that Peyton has won in his career. Eli has none. But interestingly enough, Peyton won his first MVP award in 2003 . . . . his sixth full season in the league. And seeing as how the Mets are going to be --- spoiler alert --- fucking terrible this year, it seems now is as good a time as any to start getting fired up about Eli's MVP campaign in 2010.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Watching TV on TV or watching TV on DVD? Quien es mas macho?

This has nothing to do with anything.
But still, it's Cookie Monster Warlord.
Your argument is invalid.

Following my post on Lost, Side Bar left a lengthy comment singing the virtues of watching TV series on DVD, rather than on a weekly basis. I'm gonna reprint that comment here, since I think what he brought up deserves its own post:
Lost is amazing. And last night's season opener was very encouraging.

But here is the thing: me and the wifey did not start watching Lost until about 4 months ago, and we watched seasons 1-5 on DVD.

There is no better way to watch a TV series than on DVD. It is an accelerator for great TV. It's like straining all that gross shit out of your orange juice and just having a nice glass of clean OJ.

The Wire. Sopranos. Mad Men. Lost. Whatever. These hour-long dramas come on for 60 minutes, once a week (sometimes less than that), and some of them are interrupted every 12 minutes by commercials.

Not on DVD.

On DVD, you can watch four episodes - a month's worth of programming for you first-run broadcast slaves - in less than three hours. You can get through a season in a weekend (as OB did with Season 5 of Lost).

And please, please do not talk to me about DVR. It is not nearly as good as having the commercials edited out, and 42 minutes of the show completely unadulterated.

There is absolutely no comparison. If the first four episodes of season 2 of your favorite show have a total of 45 minutes of just gripping drama in them, that's not too bad for the equivalent of a long movie. But 45 minutes of great TV over the course of a month? No thanks.

We had this experience with the Wire (watched 1-4 on DVD and loved it; watched season 5 every Sunday night and liked it, but it was not as good), Mad Men (1 and 2 on DVD, 3 on Sunday nights on AMC), and now Lost.

So yes, Lost is an amazing show, possibly my favorite ever. I loved Season 1, and was ready for a let down because everyone told me that the show didn't really get good again until season 5. But that was not our experience at all. We got all the way through season 5 without ever really picking a favorite, and without even really being able to distinguish one season from another - it was seamless.

But I am bracing for the DVD effect - if Season 6 of Lost is a let down, I'll know why.
I know of what he speaks.

As I wrote in my original post, I absolutely fucking loved seasons one and two of Lost. Season three annoyed me, and season four nearly drove me insane. I gave up on the entire show a few episodes into season five.

But now I'm back. Like the dumbasses on the show, I have returned to the island. Why? Well, I think what Side Bar had to say factors greatly.

I watched seasons one and two on DVD. Four, five, six episodes per sitting. Holyfuckingshit was it awesome. But then I had to do the week-to-week thing the rest of you peons do. And ugh, did that ever suck.

But this past weekend, when I was somehow uncontrollably driven to give this fucking dumbass piece-of-shit show that did nothing but infuriate me for two-and-a-half years another shot, I plowed through an entire season. And I loved it.

And after the season six premiere, I'm cautiously optimistic.

So, what's better? Watching TV as we've been conditioned to watch it -- as it's designed, one hour per week? Or in longer bursts, removing the commercials and the weeklong waits between episodes?

I'm really not sure. I don't know if my experience with Lost means that seasons one and two were outstanding (likely), while three and four were crappy (probably), and season five started out shitty but got better (almost certainly).

I'm kinda tired now. So here's something that -- like the picture at the top -- has nothing to do with anything I just wrote about. But if you've ever had a pet, maybe this will register (click the image to embiggen):

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LOST IS BACK!!! Wait -- shit. Lost is back. Does anyone have a length of rope?

[If you haven't seen Lost seasons 1-5 but plan to, stop reading. Jack dies, by the way.]

Oh, Lost, you immeasurably frustrating asshole of a program. Why can't I quit you?

No TV show has ever pissed me off so much as Lost has. Not Entourage, not Sex and the City, not even any reality shows.

I may want to see Turtle and Johnny Drama and E given a molten lava enema, but the exhilaration of watching that would be fleeting. Ultimately I just don't care enough.

Lost, however...goddammit. Goddamn this fucking show. Last winter, four or five episodes in, I finally kicked Lost to the curb. I was tired of waiting to find out what that black smoke monster was. And what do those numbers mean? Why can't anyone who dies ever stay fucking dead? Why is it that every season your solution is to introduce more characters when you haven't come close to dealing with the shit-ton you've already got? Who the fuck is this Jacob asshole? And dammit, enough of this boring-as-all-fuck Jack-Kate-Sawyer bullshit. NO ONE CARES. And now they're time-traveling? Seriously? And I'm supposed to keep paying attention when you WON'T ANSWER ANY GODDAMN QUESTION YOU'VE EVER RAISED WITHOUT RAISING LIKE FIVE MORE?!?!?!?!?!? FUCK YOU WITH A RUSTY SHOVEL! GET FATAL TETANUS!

It wasn't always like this.

Seasons one and two were heaven. As compelling as The Sopranos or The Wire. It was then that Lost sunk its teeth into me. I was Bella to JJ Abrams' Edward. The show didn't answer any questions back then either, but it didn't matter... We were in love.

I remember waiting desperately for season three to start. And when it did, things were wonderful. But just when it was getting on a roll came the first time I had the horrifying thought that maybe Lost didn’t really love me back.

After just six episodes that fall, ABC decided for some reason that the best thing for Lost and its fans would be to stop showing episodes of Lost. For THREE FRIGGING MONTHS. This was no Winter Olympics-like break in the schedule. This was no summer vacation. They just stopped showing episodes. No repeats, nothing.

I came to realize soon after Lost resumed that I definitely wasn’t Bella, and Lost was no Edward. I began to understand that I was actually Tina, and Lost was my Ike. And that three-month break was simply the first time I took a backhand.

I began to lose interest during the second half of season three, growing increasingly irritated at each successive episode's "big surprise" and every annoying cliffhanger that I knew would only go unresolved. The only really enjoyable parts were getting to know Desmond (along with Ben, the show's best character, IMO) and finally -- FINALLY -- seeing Charlie (the worst character) die. (Of course, he didn't exactly stay off the show for long, but the bright spots between beatings had to be appreciated, brief though they were.)

However, there was one last stunner. It turns out the flashbacks during the season-three finale (showing an oddly bearded Jack) turned out to be flash-forwards. When Kate showed up at the last moment and Jack exclaimed, "We have to go back!" it was like Ike had finally apologized (“And this time he meant it!”) and gotten me that diamond ring I'd always wanted and he'd always promised me. All was forgiven. He really does love me!

Alas, no. Ike did not change, he only got meaner. Season four... I don't even want to talk about it. I've done my best to repress most of it. But let's quickly go over the finale. Which fucking blew. Ooohhh, Locke was in the coffin? DON'T GIVE A SHIT. What's this? Ben turns some old, frozen wooden wheel and the island...moves? What in God's holy name are you blathering about?

Unlike how had I been roped back in following season three, this time I would allow no such thing. I would not be fooled again.

When season five began, I remember tuning in just to laugh at how stupid the whole thing was. I would NOT let Ike, with his once-charming smile, his soothing voice, come crawling back, only to emotionally molest me ever again.

So I quit.

I managed to smirk through four or five episodes and concluded that it was just gonna be more of the same. And who really gives a shit about the stupid smoke monster anyway. It’s probably just the island farting or something retarded like that.

It was a year of bliss. No more weekly mental-trauma sessions. No more frustration boiling over into near-homicidal rage.

But I heard things. Things like, “Actually season five got really good again,” and “The time-traveling stuff is pretty cool, surprisingly.” I tried to dismiss them. Ike could be at his most alluring when he wasn’t actually around. Absence and the fonder-growing heart or something.

And then I found out that the upcoming season would be Lost’s last. FINALLY, some questions answered! Could it be? Maybe I should give it one last chance…?

So of course I did. This weekend I powered through all 16 episodes of season five, and I’ll say this: It was damn good. The time-travel stuff – somehow – worked really, really well. And they actually addressed the black smoke monster! Woo-hoo! I mean, I still don’t actually know what it is or anything, but I know a helluva lot more now than I used to. (It was pretty cool, too.) And we actually met Jacob. After season four, I would’ve bet LJT’s life that Jacob never really existed and we’d never hear about him again.

So tonight, I’ll watch the premiere. I’ll most likely end up watching every episode. And I’ll probably spend most of the time annoyed, wishing I hadn’t been suckered in…again.

But maybe, juuuuust maybe Ike has changed. Maybe things will go back to how they were when we started. When it was nice. And this final season will be as fulfilling and rewarding and thrilling as it is in my dreams.

That or he knocks me the fuck out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Finally, Perfection

If we were gonna spend our time posting all the hysterically funny things in The Onion, then we might as well just put up a mirror site. All their shit is good. I particularly liked their recent piece about a "normal gay teen" who "thought he might be Christian".

But this is one is the best. Their obit to JD Salinger is just goddam perfect (that goddam was for you JD. You're my boy.)

Relatedly, I've read The Catcher in the Rye like 5 times now and it never gets old. I still laugh out loud. And I'm still mesmerized by Salinger's perfect use of irony. And that's irony with it's actual intended meaning, not the synonym for "coincidence" that it has come to mean today.