Thursday, December 31, 2009

10 years.

Wilco said, "It's the end of the century/And I can't think of anything/except you."

My lists, like I said earlier, are going to be a little different. The songs that I've listed immediately below are the labeled the best songs of the decade. These are the songs that I enjoyed the most this decade, in approximately the order I enjoyed them. (There has been much internal debate.) Number one is unchangeable. If you want to argue over order after that, we can talk.

The albums, on the other hand, are labeled, as the top five of the decade. These five albums are, I think, some kind of combination of the following: the most important music made this decade, the music that meant the most (I don't really know if that's different) and the music that I enjoyed.

However, the top five list is not merely populated with the stuff that I liked, because that would be untrue. So I felt the need to include a third list of stuff that came out in the last ten years (and one more, see below) that I loved the hell out of, but wasn't anywhere near the best.

You should already have all of these songs and albums. If you don't, you need to remedy that immediately. If you have any questions, as usual, feel free to ask.

Best Songs of the Decade

1. "Float On" by Modest Mouse - Simply put, the single song on this list that I could see myself listening to 6o years down the road and still feeling as good about. "Float On" got a lot of press when it dropped, for changing the sound of the Mouse a bit, and I continue to see it on a few lists of the best of the decade, but it's too far down. TIME Magazine called this the "The Decade From Hell" and there were times when we needed a pickup - no song does that better, or will continue to do so, than "Float On" by Modest Mouse.

2. "New Slang (When You Notice the Stripes)" by The Shins - Barring its overexposure in Garden State, this song (and the band as a whole) really can change a person's life. A great piece of pop recorded by some guys who grew up in the 505 that had a dark, dark undercurrent to it. The Shins' first two albums stand as keynotes of this decade and the return of lo-fi pop to the mainstream. This song stands as the banner of those albums.

3. "Hey Ya!" by OutKast - Definitely not the best rap song of the decade, nor the most popular (thanks a ton, Soulja Boy, you jerk) but the one that did the most to continue to bridge the gap between so-called black music and the white majority. When the mass market consumes (good) hip-hop on such a level, it is a good thing. "Hey Ya!" did more to push OutKast through those barriers than the Grammys they'd been nominated for and even more than the one they'd won! This is a semi-sad statement, but only if you ignore the sweet sounds put forth by Andre 3000. A classic gem.

4. "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" by Wilco - Here's the deal: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of the most important albums this decade. And when the album starts off, we hear the weirdest combination of sounds, followed by a drumbeat that sounds like a ticking clock. This whole song is (was?) the sound of the implosion of the record label industry; with its well-known voyage not needing repeating, let's simply acknowledge that Wilco was ahead of their time, the album rules and, while there were other singles that I might have chosen, no song did more with so little to acclimate people to the fact that things were changing.

5. "Lose Yourself" by Eminem - The most inescapable song of the decade. Changed Eminem's career more than his loathed (most of all by himself) breakthrough single. And, on top of all that, the best sports motivation song since "The Eye of the Tiger." Teams blasted it, teens loved it, parents tolerated it. This song would have been the perfect pop combination for hip-hop, had OutKast not come along with their weirdass throwback. The perfect pop star of the first half of the decade at the apex of his career.

6. "Daylight" by Matt & Kim - Those who know me well shouldn't be shocked by this placement. Undeniably my song of the year, it catapults into the list of the decade (I kept it out of the top 5, but only after many battles) by sheer virtue of its ability to make anyone who listens happy. The simple beat, the drums and keyboards, the lyrics full of hope and then the booming chorus...all of these aspects culminate in a song that I'm not sure I could ever get tired of hearing.

7. "Since U Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson - From the first moment I heard this song, I wondered if it was going to be the guiltiest of my pleasures. Then I remembered that I don't have to feel guilty about liking pop songs, because I don't have any pretensions about my music taste! Whew. Big sigh of relief. Seriously, though, this might be the best pure-pop song released in my lifetime. It's pure syrup, funneled through the horrid lens of American Idol. If we have to endure the show for ten more years, it will be worth it because we got Ms. Clarkson, who is so much more than a one-hit wonder, with the songs she continues to pump out being great, great examples of the wonders of pop music. None, however, can measure up to her first song and its belted out chorus. I dare you to try and not to sing along.

8. "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes - This song was the hardest for me to include on this list, because, for some reason, I'm not a huge fan of the White Stripes. I think Elephant looks amazingly pedestrian in hindsight, but this song, hated by me upon release, proved amazingly resistant to my feelings. It wiggle and squirmed into my head and it wouldn't get out. Combined with the people who were pre-disposed to love it, this song became a monster, a self-fulfilling prophecy where the band marched over any who would put up their token resistance. The pure driving rhythm of the bass and drums would not be denied.

9. "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce - A contender for the most inescapable song of the decade crown. Back before Jay and B were married (in secret, but for real, but don't let pictures out, and don't talk about, but OK, they are) they killed any other contenders to the duet category by putting out this notice. In 2003, Beyonce was just that girl from Destiny's Child and Jay-Z was a great rapper, especially after the success of the Blueprint, but this song prepped both of them for superstardom that, as we look back in 2009, appears as though it was inevitable. The beat is frantically catchy, without any of the annoying sound effects of some of her late songs (that's right "Single Ladies" I'm looking at you), the Jay verse fits in perfectly, and the result was sweet.

10. "Idioteque" by Radiohead - For the last song of the decade, I'm only cheating a little bit. "Idioteque" is my favorite Radiohead song ever, and Kid A probably deserves a spot on the top albums of the decade but got shoved out by stiff competition. So, yes, Radiohead has to have a spot on my list, and this is where they get in. Now, with all those disclaimers, let me continue to say this: "Idioteque" is probably the best song Radiohead has ever recorded, as well. While much fuss is made over "Everything in its Right Place" as the first track of such a game-changing album (just like I gave to Wilco) the simple fact is that "Idioteque" continues the sonic experimentation in a way that the first track doesn't come close to matching! Kid A, however, is a true album, with the tracks meshing, and needing that all-important ordering, so it's hard to truly say that we can just indiscriminately grab any one and say it's better than the others. When looked at carefully, though, "Idioteque" stands as the culmination of those efforts.


Top 5 Albums of the Decade

5. Arcade Fire's Funeral - For all the press that the "The" bands got early in the decade (you know: The Strokes, The Hives, The Vines, etc.) it wasn't until 2004, when the Arcade Fire came out with this semi-concept album that indie rock really, truly returned to a prominent place. Important not only for the swelling music, the multi-instrumentation that has since become a standard, nor merely the way in which it shook the industry, Funeral sounded like somebody with skills and vision setting out to change the way we heard things. They did, we did, and everyone benefited.

4. Green Day's American Idiot - The other side of the zeitgeist of the first half of the decade. Interestingly enough, released only one week after Funeral. Proved that pop-punkers could grow up and do something musical, proved that Green Day's early success wasn't a fluke, and proved that people of my generation still loved the Who. Green Day hit upon something, somehow, that tapped into what so many young people were feeling at the time. It was the most unexpected thing, from the most unexpected place, but it resulted in something that was very unifying. American Idiot set up a level that Green Day will never be able to reach again, but for that brief period when people were discovering this record, it seemed like anything was possible, not just for them, but for us.

3. Bruce Springsteen's The Rising - When this album came out, I immediately called it the Album of the Decade. Obviously, 7 years has changed just a little bit, but it hasn't changed the fact that this is the single most important album (and best sounding!) made about the most important thing that happened this decade. The Rising set Bruce Springsteen on his own mini-revival this decade, but that's beside the point: with this album, Bruce recorded a cornucopia of authentic reactions to a defining moment. It's impossible to hear this and not recall details about the events of September 11, 2001. And he doesn't focus on one side of the story, either, with the penultimate song, "Paradise," being a brave choice at that time. A tremendously bold artistic decision by a man who'd been stuck in the middle ground, The Rising showed that out of great tragedy can come beautiful art, and it set the stage for more to come, from Bruce individually, as well as from those who chose to take bold choices.

2. Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker - I will not lie: I didn't get into this album until more than a year after it was released. When I was in college, I was pushed onto Whiskeytown. My order of purchase went Pneumonia, Ryan's Gold and then Heartbreaker. If it's not too much cheating, I'd like to nominate all three of those albums for the number two slot on this list. But, I figured that was too much cheating, so I had to boil it down, and there's no escaping the fact that Heartbreaker stands head and shoulders above the other two albums. (This, despite the fact that Pneumonia is on my list of all-time top five favorite records! I'm telling you, this was a bitch of a decision!) Ryan Adams changed the way I listen to music. While I'd been fond of claiming that I listened to, "Everything but country," for most of my life, the truth was I didn't give country music many chances. Most of what I heard was terrible, cliche and obnoxious. Ryan Adams changed that, and, in the process, became my favorite musician of all time. His work, whether solo, with Whiskeytown, with the Cardinals, or with anyone else, stands up against anything else by anyone else. His best work can stand with the classics of any genre. There is not a single person this decade who influenced the music that I listened to and enjoyed, what I thought of as good, more than Ryan Adams. There is, however, one album that did so...

1. Kanye West's College Dropout - That's right, I said it. The College Dropout is the album of the decade. While Ryan Adams changed how I listened to music, Kanye changed how everyone listened to music. From his production to his over-the-top-in-real-life persona, Kanye ruled the decade. Late Registration has gotten better in hindsight, Graduation was great from the get-go, but College Dropout changed the game. The soul sound started to come back before this album dropped, because of the other hits that he produced, but this album pushed it through. Talib Kweli had been around before, but after this album, his name started getting dropped regularly. Common had been loved before this album, but after signing with Kanye and GOOD Music, his next two albums charted at #2 and #1. Jay-Z had been the man, but with Kanye producing his hits, he had a distinct sound.

But that's just measuring his effect on other people. His effect on the music itself cannot be overstated. Mixing backpack rap and materialism, swagger and insecurity, a blatant love for family and an aspiration to lonely superstardom, and the most agonizing sexual ambiguity (from fighting against homophobia to famously being portrayed as a gay fish) we've ever seen, Kanye West is a bag of contradictions. Those faults, however, did absolutely nothing to slow down College Dropout. In 2009, it's a different story, but when this album dropped (in 2004, good God! what a year for music) there was nothing out of place. Even tracks that could be seen as filler on a lesser album ("The New Workout Plan") seem like they mesh here. The overall message, coming from someone who seemed like a pretty smart guy, was such a vicious assault on the American education system I was shocked his mother still spoke to him.

Kanye's output since then, both musically and personally, has varied. That's neither here nor there. College Dropout is the five-star record of the decade, influencing everything that came after it, stylistically and musically. It's a front to back album that will stand the test of time.

Favorite Albums of the Decade

As I've said, I felt bad leaving these albums off my list. For the sake of my own failing memory, I'm writing them down here, so that I can always see what shaped me. These are the albums that I obsessed with, that I didn't think were in the realm of Best Album consideration - some of them are far off, but some were closer than you might think to busting into that range.

Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends - The album that made me do this list. There's no way that I can recap this decade without including this album. When I moved back to New Mexico, this was the soundtrack.

The Shins - Oh, Inverted World & Chutes Too Narrow - Local boys done good. Perfect pop masterpieces. Both these albums fit onto one CD. If you don't have these albums, email me and I'll send them to you, because you need them.

Jay-Z - The Blueprint & The Black Album - I've rocked Jigga hard (forgoing the pause) for almost fifteen years now. His output isn't nearly as consistent as he'd have you believe, but anyone who argues against the Blueprint as classic is a fool. The Black Album should just be re-released when he gets ready to really retire. People would buy it again, it's that good.

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot & A Ghost is Born & Sky Blue Sky - Wilco deserves more press for this three album stretch that changed them. YHF got all the words, but, for my money, Sky Blue Sky might be their best album of the decade, perhaps edging out Being There as their best ever? A consummately professional band (including the non-professional-ness that's needed by anyone in a band), it shocks the hell out of me that the people who were riding them hard in the YHF-era now think they're not worth talking about.

Beck - Sea Change & Modern Guilt - Again, mostly put here for the timespan and the change. To go from Sea Change to Modern Guilt, both great albums in their own right, but so completely different, shows that Beck's got skills way beyond Odelay which everyone loved and Mellow Gold, which remains the standard. Modern Guilt deserved more accolades than it got.

OutKast - This decade was hard for the boys from the South. After Aquemini (one of the best rap records of all time, but getting no placement on the list because it was released last decade) it seemed like the world was theirs. Stankonia was amazing, but not on the same level. Idlewild was better than the shit it took. And the double album was innovative, but suffered. The sum of OutKast is more than the whole of its parts. Big Boi's solo CD should have been out already. It's sad how they've kind of faded from the scene, but they remain one of the best groups in the short history of hip-hop. Undeniable.

The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - Another album that changed how I listened to music. I really wanted to get into the Flaming Lips after loving this album, but nothing they've done since (or before) measures up. That's fine, because this is one hell of an album.

The Kleptones - A Night at the Hip-Hopera - Began my love for the Mash-Up genre and still stands as the best example thereof. A more important album than people realized, with its anti-record label message embedded in the music itself, it gives a new meaning to the phrase, "The message is the medium."

Q-Tip - The Renaissance - The album that we were waiting for him to make? Maybe not. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a damn good record. And it got slept on.

Radiohead - Kid A & Hail to the Thief & In Rainbows - I couldn't possibly put this list up without including Radiohead. Kid A got the top slot or top five on a lot of lists and I don't have anything against that. Hail to the Thief gets better and better in retrospect. And In Rainbows is a lot better than originally reported. The best band in the world got better this decade. I look forward to seeing what they do next.

And last, but not least:

Jimmy Eat World - Clarity - It broke my heart to look this album up and realize that it came out in 1999. This record is tied with Tell All Your Friends as the soundtrack to the happiest time in my life. College and the friends I had, the people I met, the moving from here to there and back again, everything, can be summed up by my friend Greg's favorite record of all time. I regret to report that I've actually seen Jimmy Eat World, when they were on tour for the album after this one, and that I talked smack. I was ignorant. This album gets one of the largest shout outs I can muster but it wasn't released this decade. If you don't have it, get it. It might not sonically fit with what's being pumped out right now, but as we all know, that's not always a bad thing.

So there you have it. The last ten years in musical form. Let the revisions begin.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

hitting the streets for a year.

I had a goal this year to run 1,000 miles. I did not make it. I don't know how many miles I realistically ran, but I think it was just over 900. Which is a lot. It's good, don't get me wrong. But it's right around 10% off my goal. I guess if this was school, I'd be in A- or B+ range, which is better than I did for most of my schooling, but I don't really like to measure things in terms of school, especially given my problems with that field.

Regardless. A few things stand out from my Nike Plus graph:

The least amount of times that I ran any given month was 10. (Except for December, when I've resumed my awful drinking habits and run a pitiful amount. I'm not going to tell you how few.) The month I ran the most frequently was, no surprise, June, with 21 runs. (More than double my slacker months.) This says a couple things to me: Firstly, in January and February, when it was stupid cold here, I was still fresh in my commitment. I went to the gym (thanks sister, for the membership!) and I put in the miles. Secondly, the time off, to myself, with nothing to do other than read, write and run actually paid off! I mean, I had a great time hanging out with Kat and it was awesome to see a new city, but... I mean, who knew? It actually worked! Thirdly, I slacked in October, with only 10 runs. However, one of those was my marathon, which I accomplished in less time than I wanted, crossing a life goal off my list. Sometimes, the individual tree is worth more than the forest?

I don't feel like a failure because I didn't hit 1,000. I'm not going to try for it again, and I know that may seem like giving up, but I took a shot. I don't think I took my best shot (because if I had done my best, I think I would have gotten it) but I think I gave it a good enough one. Around September, I started to get really fed up with the routine. I was complaining to anyone who would listen that I didn't want to run, that I'd be happy when it was over, etc. Around October, with the marathon creeping up, I started talking about maybe dropping out of the marathon and just running the half. But I knew that I'd trained all year for it and that it was highly unlikely that I'd train that diligently again. So I stuck to my guns even though I was dead afraid of the race.

During the actual marathon itself, I had two goals: finish under four hours and not to stop a single time. I checked the first one off the list, but was unable to keep going, especially in the last three miles or so. I think I stopped four or five times. It was disappointing, especially as it was happening, because all I could think was that I was going to miss my target time because of that stopping. When I finished under my target time, I almost couldn't believe it. I think I was in some kind of shock.

After the marathon, I signed up for a series of short races, so that I wouldn't just stop running completely, and try to finish my yearly goal. It only kind of worked. I went out for those races, but I just didn't keep up my end of the bargain as thoroughly as I had early in the year. However, now that I'm on break, I've been running again and enjoying it.

I think this, then, is the ultimate point: I went hard at a long-term goal, as well as some shorter-term ones. I didn't achieve the year-long goal, which seems like a big target, but I crossed a life-goal off my list. I think that's more important. And so, yeah, I'm disappointed that I didn't do what I set out to do, but I'm proud of myself.

Next year, I'll run when I want to. I plan on biking a lot more frequently, and trying to transition off the road and into the water.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

capping this year.

Once again, as it's December, I'm looking back over the last year. It's a different kind of list here on TRLS, though, mainly because I'm not a paid, professional critic, and I don't spend that much time reading quote-unquote real books, nor going to the cinema. My list, then, is of the best things that I read, saw, and listened to this year. In regards to the music, it's my opinion on the best of what came out this year. In regards to the books and movies, though, it's a sampling of the things that I experienced that were worthwhile. I'll be checking back in a few days from now with my end of the decade list of songs and albums, which will have very little similarity to some of the others I've seen. Without further ado.

Best Things I Read in 2009

White Teeth - Can't believe it's only been a year since I finished Zadie Smith's first work. Stunningly powerful, it influenced everything else I read this year.

An Abundance of Katherines - John Green's second book, better than Paper Towns, which I also read, but won't make this list, full of fun characters and an interesting quirk. I refuse to believe those who say they didn't see the twist at the end, though.

Too Cool to be Forgotten - Lots of press on this one, but it turned out to be just all right. An interesting idea that was certainly interesting in its execution, somehow the sum felt like less than the total of its parts. Frustrating, but worth reading.

The Loud Silence of Francine Green - After I read this book, I read a review on Amazon by someone who claimed to be a teacher, who said they didn't know much about McCarthyism, and who said they thought Francine was a dangerous role model. My head almost exploded at the irony. Read this book.

Harry Potter - While I was in Pittsburgh this summer, I read all of the Harry Potter books. They were magnificent. I know this has already been written, so I don't have much to add other than to say if you haven't read them, there's literally nothing worth waiting on.

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Given to me by Kat while I was there, Chabon knocks another one out of the park. (Although, this was his first, right? So, I mean, I guess this was the first one he knocked out of the park.) I was so engrossed by his tale of semi-regular folk that I think I blazed through this one in a day. Get it.

Speak - In preparation for my class, I read this book, centering around the transformation a girl in high school undergoes after she's raped. It's incredibly powerful, incredibly well-written, and doesn't aim for anything grandiose; it tells the story in everyday language in a manner that any person of any age will be able to get. The best book I read all year, besides White Teeth.

Comic Books - This year was a weird year for me and my comic book tastes. I loved everything, but nothing stood out. While Blackest Night kicks ass, it's still ongoing. And Batman and Robin is great, but it misses Quitely's art when he's not there. The Flash: Rebirth mini has suffered from delays, as did seemingly every big book. The single best book that came out in 2009 was Adventure Comics, with Geoff Johns writing and Francis Manapul drawing, but my enthusiasm for this title has waned with the last two Gerry Ordway books and the knowledge that Geoff and Francis are departing imminently. What a drag.

Note - I also read the remainder of the Twilight books this year. They were terrible. However, I'm not going to ride the anti-Twilight bandwagon, because I firmly believe that any book that gets kids reading is a good book. I'm sure there were people who looked at me when I was growing up and saw my nose buried in comic books and thought I was wasting my time.

Best Movies

Watchmen - That's right, it's on my list. It's not a perfect film but it's a damn good one. In a year with no Iron Man, this stands out as the cream of the comic book movie crop.

The Class - Depressing in the best way. It really made me question whether I truly want to go teach in France or even if I want to continue doing it at all.

Away We Go - Man, what a great movie. Maybe my movie of the year? Just a super honest look at how people are doing things nowadays, with hardly a pretty, tied-up resolution in sight, and believable depth to all the characters.

Up - I know this is going to get many people's votes as movie of the year, and I'm not going to disagree with those people. A solid contender. Doing its best to make the claim that animation isn't just for kids anymore.

Star Trek - JJ Abrams is my Master now. 'Nuff said?

Moon - Not nearly as good as I wanted it to be, but deserving to be on this list mainly for its reinforcing of the idea that Sam Rockwell deserves more!

I also caught, for what its worth, from years past, Gran Torino (tops of the list), Fanboys, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (not nearly as bas as some people tried to make it out to be), and The Namesake (beautiful).

Things I Heard in 2009

In no particular order: BlakRoc by BlakRoc was one of the best, simply put. It's Blitz by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs seemed a little too disco at first for my tastes, but then I realized it was just killer rock. Dark Night of the Soul by Sparklehorse, Danger Mouse, and David Lynch. If you don't own this album, you missed out on 2009. Wilco (The Album) by Wilco the band - not nearly as good as Sky Blue Sky, but got more press - why? Jaydiohead: The Encore from Minty Fresh Beats was waaaay better than the first one, and Only Built for Cuban Linx II from Raekwon was as good as everyone billed.

The Ecstatic by Mos Def is the only album not on that list that might have a place, Phoenix's album was good but not great, Fall Out Boy will always have a place in my heart, but the album was uneven, and Jay-Z has no place on this list.

What'd I miss?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

i want to see a truly mad genius.

I've been thinking about basketball a lot lately.

Specifically, I've been thinking about shooting percentage and, thanks to the wonderful gents from Free Darko, the positional revolution that Don Nelson always gets so much credit for. I've been thinking about the smallball that D'Antoni is credited with reviving. And I've been thinking about some of the new crop of stars, starting with not so newbies like Dirk and Ray Allen, continuing through to Lamar, and finishing up with Kevin Durant and Chris Paul (Don't think he belongs here?).

(Sidenote: If Don Nelson were truly a mad genius, that guy that everyone wants him to be, this is what we'd see from him. I don't believe we will, and I don't believe that it's really as good an idea as I'm going to present, but, damn! Just talking about this makes me want to see it, just to see how marvelously magnificent it would turn out.)

So, conventional wisdom says that we pound inside, that the two ball rules supreme and that the three is a silly shot. Percentages are lower, defenses can chase you off the line, etc. Well, I've been thinking about percentages a lot lately, and I've been watching a lot of basketball, playing a lot of basketball, and coaching a lot of basketball, and what I really want to see is a team that shoots almost nothing but threes. The only time, really, that I'd be OK with a two (on this theoretical team) would be on a fast break with an advantage - 3 on 2, 2 on 1, or an open court dunk. Otherwise, I say, let it fly.

I know this sounds like madness.

But just for the sake of argument, let me try to talk my way out of this. According to Basketball Reference, the average for the last 10 years worth of 2 pointers is 59.3%. This obviously doesn't include this year, since the season's not over yet. The same time-period averaging of three pointers brings a 47.6% total.

If you make 59.3% of your two-pointers in a 100 possession game, you're going to score 118.6 points. However, if you score 47.6% of your three-pointers in a 100 possession game, you're going to score 142.8 points. That's a pretty big gap.

Now, granted, not everyone's shooting that hot from three. So we have to make an adjustment. (However, it's worth pointing out that some people aren't shooting near 60% for 2, either.) What if 3-point shooting dropped to 40%? Still gets you an average of 120 points, just over the two ball mark.

Let's look at some helpful samples: Kevin Durant, whom Hollinger loves, and Shoals loves, and everyone seems to love, but who, somehow, has a negative plus/minus, only shot the 3 ball well in his second season, averaging 29% both his rookie season and this season. However, even with that bad average, his three-ball average still produces 10 more points per 100 possessions than does the field goal percentage! Lamar Odom just about breaks even in the two categories even though no one thinks of him as a particularly feared three point shooter. Dirk Nowitzki, though, is the obvious one to mention here, averaging out to almost 20 points better from beyond the arc.

Before I hear in comments that it "Just wouldn't work," let me say this: I know it wouldn't work. I know that the threat of the three-pointer would become almost meaningless if they never drove inside, never got to the line, never pushed the defense back on their heels. I know that. BUT. It doesn't change the fact that I want to see it. I want to see some team just completely abandon the center position, grab some freakishly long wings who stroke the three at a decent percentage and a point guard who can do so himself, and see them run it for a year. How many points would it produce? How many people would they piss off? I'm not talking about the Fun 'N Gun Suns here, because I'm not looking for Nash alley-oops to Stoudemire (or the dearly departed Matrix). I'm not talking about the Warriors and Baron's dunk on AK-47, although that was hot.

What I'm talking about is seriously gunning a system on the pure three ball. They'd lose a lot of games when the shots weren't falling. The averages would drop because they'd be shooting more of those shots that just aren't as easy. I know these things. But it doesn't mean that I don't think about it all the time and dream of seeing it someday.

What do you think?

Monday, December 7, 2009

continuing a bad policy.

As per my normal position, I'm here to complain a bit about copyright law as currently enforced in the United States. I don't know, but it's always just seemed like a kind of bad idea to sue the people who are your normal, paying customers. (As a sidenote, I laughed a lot when I saw this video, which reminded me of the circumstances a bit - there are always cheating people, right?)

So the crux of the story seems to show that in an overlap between legal and illegal activity, the illegal one has precedence. While I agree with the legal concept of ignorance not leading to innocence, one really has to question an approach where this is the end result.

Also, a major GAAAAASSSSS FACE to CNN for their title of the article: "'New Moon' Taping May Put Woman in Prison." While it kind of describes the article, I'd love it if we could get a little bit of the reality of the situation in the description - how about adding the word inadvertent or accidental, or something else?

Last but not least, I'm shocked that there hasn't been a call to the police department yet: the lady spent two days in prison? Why?? Surely bail can be set a bit more quickly for a non-violent offense, not even thinking about the circumstances! The whole story just smacks of over-reactionism and the poor business model of the MPAA, the theory of zero tolerance (when it comes to anything) and a seemingly poorly run police department in the city of Rosemont.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

the grammys?

Really, the Grammys are what inspires me to write again? Even I find that tiresome and old. But here I am, doing it anyway. (For what it's worth, I have an entry all but published on how a real basketball maverick/genius would just say, "Fuck the two-pointer. Shoot nothing but threes." But it needs some editing. How about if I promise it before the end of next week?) Anyway, the Grammy nods just dropped and Twitter is all ablaze about it - or, at least, my feed is, since mine is devoted to basketball and rap music. And my hometown.

Anyway, here's the official link, you can scroll down (almost halfway through!) to Category 31 to see the individual Rap nominations. Wow. It's a list.

Jay Smooth made a comment on Twitter saying that four of the five songs, in the clips shown on the Grammy selections, were sung as opposed to rapped. I think he called it correct when he said that it was a sign of the times, but I also think that, overall, these songs are pretty good. (Why am I even trying? I hated most of rap this year. Also, to be fair, he hit me back to clarify my misreading of his original tweet.)

Cudi's "Day 'N Nite" was the best thing about a disappointing album.

Drake's "Best I Ever Had" somehow convince everyone that So Far Gone was a Rap album when, in fact, it was a R&B album. It was a good one, at that, but...it's not a rap album. That's not to say he's not a good rapper, he's decent, but this is not a rap song, nor is the album rap at its core.

"Casa Bey" isn't even close to the best track on The Ecstatic! I don't get it because I don't listen to the radio; was it a single? I mean, we can't get "Life in Marvelous Times" or "History" or something else from a pretty good swing?

Em's "Beautiful" got a lot of press after the album it came from got soundly thrashed on the blogs, but I never got why there was the fixation. I mean, sure, it's good, the video was a nice tribute to his town, especially at a time when Detroit kind of needs that (although it could be said that it's more like too little, too late) but the song's just all right. It's certainly not the best Eminem song (verse?) that we got this year.

That leaves the Jigga man. I hope that I've made my feelings on Blueprint 3 known. If not, let's just say underwhelming is an understatement. However, I haven't hear a single argument all year against "DOA." The song is a banger, it spoke a truth that needed to be said, and it was as hard as Jay's gone in a long while.

Rap song of the year. Undoubtedly.

And then there's the Rap Album of the Year category. God, after expending all that energy defending music that truly didn't move me, let me just say that if Q-Tip doesn't win this category, I will honestly, truly never care enough to pay attention to the Grammys ever again. The only true competition is Mos Def's The Ecstatic but...it's not close. That's it. I'll be back.