Monday, December 31, 2007

on fatherhood.

So, I thought I was done for the year with my pseudo-best of list, but I just can't let this sleep. For a long while now, I've been reading Fistfulayen, the blog of Ian Rogers. I've tried to Wikipedia him, I've done only a little bit of research on the Google, but I don't really care who he is, to be honest. His blog is funny, clever, honest, almost always on the right side of tech issues, and oftentimes heartfelt and touching. His latest post details how his little girl loves Cheech Marin. It's hilarious but beyond that, it's an inspiration for how I want to be when I eventually have kids. I don't know how much money this guy made in the past, if he's a semi-millionaire and doesn't have to worry about too many things now, but that's beside the point. He's still in to good music, he seems like an actual person, and he takes care of his kids. What more can you ask for in a parent?

I oftentimes tell my sisters that lots of books will be written about their generation and how they're changing the rules for parenting. My mom's cool as hell, but I don't remember her being even half as "with it" as they are. Maybe it's the fact that I'm older and able to see it, and their kids won't remember them being this way, but I just don't see them changing that much in the future. It's great to see that parents are increasingly becoming people, as opposed to...well, the opposition. The closer the relationship, the better chance for success, I think. My sisters (and their husbands) and Ian Rogers at Fistfulayen give me hope that this isn't just a shot in the dark, but something that is actually happening.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

on the good and the bad.

Well, I'm going to try to wrap up my year here, and good and bad for me, I got one item for each list today. Let's start with the bad:

Worst of 2007

I don't have enough hatred (nor enough breadth of knowledge) of all the things that came out this year to compile lists of movies, books, music, political events, and general events individually, so they're all gonna get lumped together for this batch. We'll start with the most recent, and probably the most hated.

Spider-Man - One More Day - I don't know where to start with the hate on this item. First of all, a minor quibble: the whole arc is named "One More Day" and it consists of Mephisto making the offer that we all knew his was going to and then Peter and MJ having one more day to make that choice. (Oh, dramatic!) However, the one more day (of the title!) is depicted in the comic as sixteen panels! Nine of those are almost exactly the same as each other and another four are almost exactly the same again! Keep in mind this story arc ran four issues. And yet, the one more day takes place in less than one-tenth of the total time taken to tell the story. The total effect of the story is something I disagree with, it was so poorly done, and it's so drastically out of line with what it seems like most fans want that I feel I'm left with no choice other than to do the unthinkable: I'm going to drop Spider-Man for the first time in my near-15 years of comic book reading. Very sad.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It's not exactly clairvoyance to say that I knew this was a big deal as it was happening, but I'm sad to report that I'm not sure this is being taken seriously enough in the world media. And that's saying a lot, because there has, in fact, been a lot written already about this. But it's damn near the worst thing this year.

Spider-Man 3 wasn't really that bad of a movie, but when compared to the other two, it's just so hard to say that it was any good. And that made me sad.

Same for the fourth installment in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It was a good young adults novel, but compared to the raw emotion of the first three and the thrill of discovery of those, the fourth sat kind of pale, trying to live up to the previous installments and trying to fit in a nice "conclusion" all at the same time. It wasn't terrible, it was just one of the worse novels that I read over the last year.

The ending of the first season of Heroes. Atrocious.

The Best Reading

On the other hand, all three of the other Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants were simply amazing. Well-written, they progressed as actual young women do, from juvenile adolescents to mature young women talking about real things that people do.

The DC Universe and it's continuing expansion. There were things I didn't like (such as the continuing carnage wrecked by Superman-Prime and some of the scheduling issues between Countdown and the Sinestro Corps War) but overall, I think this is the year that DC overtook Marvel in my mind. Not the least because of the Spider-Man nosedive, but also because I see a cohesive universe forming at DC, something I've longed for in comic books forever. Special strong notes go to the Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Batman and Blue Beetle (both of which I'm not reading and regret not doing so) while a special bad notice goes to the Flash: way to stand out for sucking in a year when you had so much potential and the rest of your universe rocked. It wasn't naturally the fault of the Flash, what with all that happened, but it was pretty terrible.

I read a short story by Avi called "What Do Fish Have To Do With Anything?" that was simply amazing. It could be used in college courses. I felt lucky that I got to read it and I laughed at my 7th graders for not realizing how lucky they were.

Best Visual Art

There were at least three thousand forty-six movies that were well-reviewed that I didn't get a chance to see. That makes me sad. But these were the best movies I saw.

The Departed
American Gangster

Best Auditory Experiences

In a year full of mediocrity, only a few things stood out to me. Maybe that means that I'm getting old or maybe it just means that I'm listening to less music than I was in the past. These are in no order.

Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight - Early reviews said it was about the trouble of living in L.A., but there's no way it's not a breakup album. And maybe the best one of those. It's wrenching to listen to.

Kanye West - Graduation - Ahead of its time, but, unfortunately, not the future of rap like a lot of people wish it was. Kanye's not the future, but only because people are scared of mavericks.

Radiohead - In Rainbows - The best album of the year? For free? The success of the new Radiohead album doesn't really depend on whether the music's any good, but rather is necessitated by the fact that they changed the game in one fell swoop.

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky - A return to forms where Jeff Tweedy actually sounded happy. I thought more people would like it after they flipped out for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but it kind of got slept on, unfortunately.

Honorable Mentions: Jay Z - American Gangster, Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero, Arcade Fire - Neon Bible, and Fall Out Boy - Infinity on High, easily my favorite album when the year began, and still not ashamed to admit it.

Best Experiences in General of 2007

Amazon trying to take the competition to iTunes. The more the better.
The flinching certainty of Hillary being the Democratic nominee - the more actual choice we have, the better.
The near-certainty that no matter who the GOP nominates, they're going to get beat.
Last but not least, Lost is coming back!

Friday, December 28, 2007

jack bauer = batman.

So, I'm in the midst of my end-of-December marathon-ing of 24 with my Dad. For the last six years, for Christmas, I've given my Dad the previous year's season of 24 on DVD and we've obsessively watched it while I was on Chriastmas Break from school. (It worked out perfectly that I became a teacher because now I still have Christmas Break.) So, we're watching season six of the show which, from the little information I've allowed myself about it, people seemed to hate. We're a little more than halfway through the show now, and I gotta say: I love it. Way better than last season, where we had the crazy President Logan - and his definitely-equally crazy wife. I know it's kind of crazy what they've done in this season, especially in the beginning of the show (phrased ambiguously so as to avoid spoilers for anyone who's not seen) and with his Jack's family members, but I acknowledge that they need to up the ante on a show that's consistently been over-the-top.

24: still good for me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

on the holidays.

For a while now, there has been talk of a much-vaunted culture war being waged between left and right, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, etc.. Some people think it originated in the 1960's, but seeing as this is a country founded by traitors and free thinkers, I think the likelihood is much stronger that things have been distraught in this country for a lot longer than just the last 50 years.

Recently, however, things have gotten a lot uglier. First, Hillary Clinton claimed that there was a "vast, right-wing conspiracy against her husband Bill, while all that stuff was going on. (You know...that stuff.) However, as we all know, I'm not about to harp on people for calling it like it is.

What I don't think is "calling it like it is" are Bill O'Reilly's constant claims about the sides of the culture war - and what they're all responsible for. Bill O'Reilly claims that liberals hate Christmas and that their insistence upon using "Happy Holidays" is a form of discrimination.

Lately, these types of stories have seemingly been contradicting those opinions and proving that liberals (you know, those type of people who stick up for people getting picked on) actually do care. You would think that this might lead Bill O'Reilly to apologize, but if you know Bill, you know that's never going to happen.

So what are we left with? A constantly widening culture gap where one side hates the other side because they think that the other is wrong in every single aspect of their points of view? That's a terrible world. I'm not sure that's a world I want to participate in.

I guess what I'm saying is that I want this to stop. It shouldn't be that one side hates the other side. It shouldn't be that either side thinks the other side is always wrong. We should be able to get along.

So, in conclusion to my CBS mid-afternoon family special message, all I want to say is, if someone tells you Merry Christmas, maybe you should just be kind in return. And if someone answers your Merry Christmas with a Happy Hannakuh, maybe you should remember that Jews helped build this country - and are still doing so.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

happy holidays.

A couple quick notes on this wonderful Christmas:

First of all, I've started a Christmas card list, so everyone I know and love should get a card from me sometime in the next two to four days. (All depends on the Post Office - and we've talked about my problems with them before!) If you don't get a card and you want to be on my list, you can comment here and I'll get you a card late here, or I can just add you to the list for next year.

Secondly, it's a glorious basketball day today. While Cleveland is losing right now (down four at the half), I have little doubt that they'll be able to make it back and Miami will ultimately lose this game. Then, the more important game, the Lakers are going to take on the Suns in Los Angeles. I'm not alone in thinking the Lakers should edge this one out (only because they're at home?) and that definitely makes me happy. The third game is a throw away. It was supposed to be Kevin Durant meeting Greg Oden, but all it'll be now is the Blazers running their win total up a little more, shocking more and more people every day.

Third, the earliest political caucuses are very close. We'll soon have a lot more clear idea on who the Presidential nominees are going to be in November, and hence more of an idea of what's going to happen in that contest, and what direction we'll be headed in the next few years.

Fourth, headed back to basketball, the Bulls let go of Scott Skiles. I think it's a heartless move, but the right one. Skiles just isn't the coach to keep around at this stage. He's clearly beefing with Ben Wallace (not to mention Tyrus Thomas) and you just can't take that from a veteran coach and a veteran player. Too much discord. (BTW, discord should have an h in it. It should be spelled dischord. WTF?) I like Scott Skiles as much as the next guy, but I don't think he's the right guy for Chicago right now. I'm happy that they got rid of him, I'm curious as to who they'll bring in (and if it'll be an interim situation or a permanent move), and I'm still very confident that the Bulls will make the playoffs and have a good showing. They've got a lot of ground to make up, though. I won't say that I'm without worry. But I think they can get it done.

Monday, December 24, 2007

link of the day.

Jay Z is leaving his post as President of Def Jam. This is pretty significant news but I'm honestly unsure of what it means. He did a good job while he was in charge, he brought in some hits, but I wasn't exactly overwhelmed. I think it's probably pretty hard to do a bang up job in less than three years. Plus, his own records definitely took a hit. Kingdom Come was less than spectacular and, while American Gangster seems to have turned that around more than a little bit, it's only one in the last three plus years that's been great.

I'll be interested to see if he attempts some kind of reconciliation with Dame Dash, what he does with Kanye, who he decides to put out his music with in the future (I know it says in the article that he's staying there, but that's not necessarily true), and what happens with the Rocafella label in general.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

on i am legend.

Good time of the year to see a movie, so I went out the other night and saw the new one that everyone's going to be talking about: I Am Legend, with Will Smith. Pretty damn good.

I was impressed with Will Smith, who's come a long way since his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air days - and even back then, he wasn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination. Will Smith has always been a solid actor and I always laugh at ... that one movie that I can't remember right now when I think of the in-joke about Will Smith being the client of one of the lawyers and they're talking about how he's going to be a big star. (Did that make any sense? If so, a little help on what that movie is?)

Anyway, other than that, I thought there were some great things that definitely need to be talked about. First and foremost, the good differences between this one and The Omega Man. The big one, obviously, was the absence of any spies sent in to get the goods on the doctor. I like this, because it makes him seem a lot more alone. However, that was pretty much blown by the end of the movie. Now, you'd think that these aforementioned clashes would lead to me being unhappy with the movie, but you'd be wrong. Big time wrong. I thought one of the worst things about Charlton Heston's version was the removal of the "legend" aspect of this book/movie. It's called "I Am Legend" for a reason! He has to be a legend. The first version of the movie, The Last Man on Earth, did a good job of staying true to the text and pretty much left everything as is. And that was good. Now, I'm a fan of the Heston version, but it's not the same type of movie. It's just that simple.

Will Smith, on the other hand, gets to be a legend, bringing the original text back full circle, but in a different way. Things obviously have to be updated and I thought this was a good way to do it.

Secondly, I thought the single best thing about this movie was that there were, at times, doubts in my mind as to whether Neville was actually insane. The trap that he got stuck in near the cab, that ultimately led to his dog's demise? I think he set that. Am I alone in that? I think he set it, forgot that he had set it, and ultimately was caught by himself. I think this is where Will Smith shines moreso that any other actor that I can think of (other than Christian Bale maybe) in this part. He successfully conveyed (to me) that, well, it's lonely to be the last person on the earth.

I think I have more to say about this, but I'm not sure just now. This might be continued...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

on problems with moneyball.

I like the fact that we're trying to break down all the games to numbers. I really do. So don't get me wrong in this argument. I try to apply "Moneyball" type of stats any time I can in an effort to better understand both my individual girls on my team, the groups that I put them in, and why we lose games (when we do) and when we win (which I wish we did more often).

However, all of these numerical bases have never convinced me that I should make a decision based purely on the numbers. It just wouldn't make sense to me. I couldn't see it as being true, and I refuse to see it as the way of the future. Maybe some sort of combination will someday be figured out as a good temper to the "gut instinct" way of coaching/managing, but I just don't think that numbers can be relied upon as well as personalities.

So while I was reading this column by John Hollinger touting the values of Chris Paul (whom I think the world of), I just couldn't escape the feeling that something was dreadfully wrong. Hollinger has a long track record of rubbing me the wrong way and I know I'm not alone. I'm certainly not saying he's wrong - CP3 is amazing, there's no doubt about that. I just find it dangerous to be comparing Steve Nash, CP3, the Answer, and John Stockton, along with Gilbert Arenas, and Kevin Johnson.

I think that Hollinger very much represents this new wave coming over to basketball from baseball, just thinking that everything can be boiled down to a number. And I don't think it can.

(As a sidenote, let me say that I hope I've made it clear that Chris Paul is the guard I'd take next year, if I was starting my franchise from the point guard position. Or maybe the year after that. As it is now, I'd still take Nasty Nash or J Kidd [who gets pretty mightily disrespected in the Hollinger article] over Paul today. It's that whole gut argument I'm making. I trust their decisions and experience over his numbers. At this point.)

EDIT: Upon further following of the links that I posted in this entry as research to try to back up what I'm talking about, I stumbled upon Plissken at the Buzzer's post about this very same thing which summarizes what I'm trying to say in a much more intelligent manner.

Monday, December 17, 2007

(old) link of the day.

The Mitchell Report recently came out and baseball enthusiasts have been quite aflutter with the news of who was named, what's going to happen to those players, and more.

The more has included a lot of talk about Roger Clemens, a lot of talk about Andy Petite, and a handful of admissions from former players.

While I think it's worth noting, and I think that it's probably important to baseball to handle this ugly mark that they've been engaged in for so long, I ultimately think that it will do nothing. The Report itself even says that nothing should be done, no consequences should be enacted, and I'm fairly sure that most of the public won't think of The Steroid Era as over until Barry Bonds is ultimately found guilty. That will be the final nail in the coffin, and I think it's not until that point that people will truly begin to move on, and embrace baseball again.

Will it be soon enough for baseball to be "saved?" I don't know. It's certainly not the most popular sport in America anymore. But I don't think it has to be. It just has to be there for the people who love it. And I think this Mitchell Report is neither here nor there for those people.

Monday, December 10, 2007

is there any place you'd like to work less than msg?

Well, the news is in and the news is that the Knicks have 'settled' their lawsuit with Anucha Browne Sanders for $11.5 million dollars. This requires a lot of thought, so bear with me. I'm literally flabbergasted right now, so some of you who know more than me (which is a lot of you) might have to clear some things up for me. However, these are the details to this point, as I understand them:

Sanders sued the Knicks, MSG, the ownership, etc. for sexual harassment. A judge and jury agreed and awarded her $11.6 million dollars.

The Knicks, MSG, the ownership, etc. (hereinafter referred to as "MSG et. al.") disagreed with the judge and jury and, as is their American right, appealed the case to a higher court.

Now, instead of going forward with that appeal, the Knicks have 'settled' (you'll note the use of the single quotation mark each time that word appears; it's that way for a reason: I can't possibly think of an appropriate way to connote the amount of scorn that my voice would have if I was having this conversation with anyone, except for those marks) the case...for 1/10 a million dollars less.

In the ESPN article that I'm linking to, the experts offer some various explanations why this might have been a good business move for MSG et. al. such as, "By settling, the Knicks avoided paying her legal fees" and... ... ... that's it.

To me, that's not a settlement. There's no way that should be termed a settlement. That's a settlement the same way a bully threatens to beat you up at lunch unless you give him all your lunch money, but then 'settles' and lets you keep a penny. Except in this case, the bully is in the right! And MSG et. al. got exactly what they deserved. Someone who describes this as a settlement is out of their mind. This is as big a loss to their organization as their guaranteed last-place finish in the Atlantic Conference is.

Fun note from this article: From here I learned that James Dolan also owns the Rangers, the NHL team in New York. The Rangers are coached by a guy named Glen Sather, who apparently has done exactly what Isiah did with the Knicks - bringing in bloated salaries for nothing and has gotten the same treatment. Apparently Jim Dolan likes to firmly stand by his pathetic losers. Count me out as a New York-anything fan. At least when George Steinbrenner buys up the payroll he has playoff runs to show for it - and, a while ago, some World Series victories. If Dolan ever gets his hands on another franchise, I will pronounce that the death grip.

Pull quote: Isiah Thomas maintains, "As I have said before, I am completely innocent." Yeah Ike, a jury of your peers just somehow managed to miss your 'complete innocence' for eleven large worth of guilt. Easy mistake.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

election season in december.

According to this press release from Martin Chavez's campaign he will not be running for Senate.

This is only a small surprise to me. I had been betting on this dropout coming for a while, but I guess some people are really shocked.

My only real response here is that I think this is good for both New Mexico and the Democrats. This should firmly put Tom Udall in the seat, and he's a good guy. The Democrats have long needed a united front in order to try something of this order. In Heather Wilson's constant battles for re-election they've always thought that this was going to be the time they got her, but they never did. Why? It might have something to do with the splintering of the Democratic front and it might have to do with the bi-polar nature of Albuquerque. It's an insanely Democratic city, with several pockets of Republican activity.

Point is, with a wave of Democrats to ride, we are in good position to back Tom in his quest against her for the Senate seat. She's giving up her House seat in order to run, so if Tom wins and a Democrat takes her old spot, we'll be in a good position in this city.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

i love comic books.

However, this is just a note to say that in the Justice Society of America that was released today, we get to read DC Nation 90 where they brag about posting Halloween pictures and "how far ahead these are written." But released on the same day we have Justice League of America where we read DC Nation 88. Just gives you a little bit of a taste of the frustration that we comic book fans have to put up with.

If these things are plotted so far in advance and the people are paid to write comic books what's the issue with getting it in when you know you have to?! The ending to Green Lantern 25 has been spoiled for weeks now, not thanks to Internet crusaders or anything silly like that, but because DC's weekly comic Countdown (to Final Crisis, as it's been renamed) has to come out on time. So, what's the point of seeing the fight in GL 25? We all know what's going to happen.

What's so hard about putting out a quality product in a timely fashion?

(That's not to say that I didn't love it when Starman turned to us and said, "Anyone have one?!" Pretty nice nod to what's going on.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

i love overtime.

Right now, USC and Memphis are going into overtime! I love overtime! Who doesn't?? I mean, really? It's the greatest thing that can come from a game!

Anyway, here's a link to Will Ferrell's new movie taking on the blessed basketball called Semi Pro.

The news that Hillary Clinton is losing steam is a little concerning to me. I had long ago claimed that Hillary would definitely not be the Democratic nominee, then conceded that she would be, but that she was too polarizing to win, and just most recently, I'd finally both publicly and privately admitted that I thought that not only would she be the nominee but that she'd be our next President. And now I have to deal with this sort of news? It's concerning to me, not only because I like to win, but because I like to know what's going on. If I can't get a good read on the political temperature, I feel very unsure of myself in other areas as well. It's distressing.

It still seems pretty evident to me, though, that none of the GOP is going to be able to topple whomever the Democrats put forth. The initial infatuation the public has had with each and every one of the candidates in the Republican field has quickly and surely worn off for each of them. I believe the public will be quite disenchanted with every single one of the Elephant candidates by January.

Monday, December 3, 2007

the patriots unbeaten season remains.

In the good news, Verizon is unlocking their network for other phones to play on. This is more than a good thing, because it's democratic and it will encourage other carriers to do so. I'm also encouraged to see that it's Verizon doing so, because they've had plenty of other crimes that they're still accountable for.

In other phone news, I want the new Sidekick LX. But, I'm pretty sure that I won't be getting it. I'll be waiting for a phone like it that runs on the Google OS - Android!

The good people at Duke City Fix (which has just set up a new, nice look) are letting us know about a Critical Mass that'll be happening here in town on Friday.

That's about it. I only care about the Patriots because of a bet I made. But I will say that it's made me care a lot. A lot more than I thought I could about non-Denver Broncos football.

Oh yeah, and I won my last game as a coach tonight. Thank God.