Sunday, January 29, 2006

If I Could Have a Personal Theme Song... would be "Lifting the Building," by David Holmes (from the "Ocean's 12" soundtrack, you can listen to a snippet here). Whenever I hear it, to steal a line from "Ghostbusters," I feel so funky.

For those unfamiliar with Holmes, the man is a musical genius-- check out the score to "Out of Sight," another Steven Soderbergh project he scored. Delicious, delectable grooves.

[Apologies for those who are wondering why I went all "Ally McBeal" all of a sudden.]

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Essay of the Year

This is perhaps the most powerful essay I've read in a long time, written by's Peter Daou.

In it, Daou begins with this hypothesis: "[T]he traditional media, the trusted media, the "neutral" media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it."

Here's part of his well-thought-out analysis: "You’ve heard the narratives: Bush is likable, Bush is a regular guy, Bush is firm, Bush is a religious man, Bush relishes a fight, Democrats are muddled, Democrats have no message, national security is Bush’s strength, terror attacks and terror threats help Bush (even though he presided over the worst attack ever on American soil), Democrats are weak on security, Democrats need to learn how to talk about values, Republicans favor a “strict interpretation” of the Constitution, and on and on.

A single storyline is more effective than a thousand stories. And a single storyline delivered by a “neutral” reporter is a hundred times more dangerous than a storyline delivered by an avowed partisan. Rightwingers can attack the media for criticizing Bush, can slam the New York Times for being liberal, but when the Times and the Post and CNN and MSNBC echo the ‘Bush stands firm’ mantra, it adds one more brick to a powerful pro-Bush edifice."

Really powerful stuff, and I agree with almost all of it. Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bidding Adieu to the New York Yankees

This baseball season, I will officially be a fan of the Oakland A's. No more split loyalties for me, I've given up on the New York Yankees.

Like a bad break-up, this has been in the making for several years and finally crystallized a few days ago. Yet, this decision to drop the Yankees like a bad habit still tears at me a little. The Yankees were the team I grew up with, and now I'll be following closely a team from a city I've never even visited.

Why? Mainly because the current team is not the Yankees franchise I grew up loving. It has nothing to do with how they've done performance-wise. There's no passion, no energy and no excitement there today. This is -- in no way, shape or form -- the team Don Mattingly led during my childhood. Now it's just aging players collecting that big paycheck every two weeks. Nothing spicy there, except for the clubhouse hijinks that sporadically grace the tabloids' back pages.

The A's are almost the inverse of this. A habitual underdog because of their payroll, they always field a team that is intriguing and chock full o' talent. And scrappy as hell. Zito, Harden, Blaton, Swisher, and Dan Johnson-- all are amazing, and now they've added Frank Thomas, the 'Big Hurt'. And I greatly respect what general manager Billy Beane has done with limited payroll, as chronicled in Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" and followed up by several baseball beat writers since.

So, goodbye to Pinstripe Alley; hello, Athletics Nation. This should be a fun year.

Note: This doesn't mean I'll be rooting for the Red Sox in any shape or form, though.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Repeating NYC Factoid #852

I must say: One of the true pleasures of New York is the ability to roll into a diner at 4 a.m. and be able to gorge yourself with food.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

"Your Uncle Molests Collies" seems I have pushed into a silly blog go-around. Thanks, Heather, for this I shall pay you back dearly.

The rules are as follows: The first player of the game starts with the topic, “5 weird habits about yourself”. People who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits, as well as state this rule clearly. In the end you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged, and link to their web-journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog/journal that says “you have been tagged” and tell them to read yours.

Well, at least it didn't say anything about becoming impotent or how I will become destitute if I were not to partake. But since I'm a bit sore over having to do this, I'm going to be a little creative, using only my past revelations here and those who have already been "tagged."

So, here are my five:
1) "I get a really bizarre sense of accomplishment after i remove a hair clog from a drainhole." (via Heather)

2) "I prefer to e-mail and text people than to actually speak to them on the phone. This allows me to multi-task more efficiently and frankly, long phone conversations are too tedious." (via the beautiful
Angelina, who dragged Heather into this)

3) "I shower in the morning AND at night." (again, Angelina, showing she is tres weird)

4) "Since [August 2004], I record each book I have read -- and there have been many -- into a little schoolbook-type ledger that I hide away in my apartment." (This is one I actually blogged about
back in June)

5) "I'll use a fork, if I need to, to eat ice cream." (Me again, see
my post on this from November.)

The next "tagging" victims are
Elisabeth, Dziura, Shankman, Kristen and Mary. Sorry, guy and gals...

Update: I just re-read the above and realize I am probably suffering from OCD.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Random Thought #415

"Underworld: Evolution" opens today. Not something I'm interested in seeing, but one thing struck me last night as I saw an ad: What do the creationists/'intelligent design' proponents think about this film? Would they argue here that perhaps this progression by werewolves and vampires wasn't an evolution at all, but something done by God's hand, even if we are talking somewhat-demonic figures?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I, Bookworm

Over the course of 2005, I read more than a book a week for a grand total of 57 books. Take that, Youngna Park!

While I have been recommended a number of books throughout the year here, I wanted to write on my favorite effort from this past year: Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders' translation of Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy" (Chronicle Books)-- with each of the canticas ("Inferno", "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso") in Dante's epic poem a separate book.

For the uninitiated, "The Divine Comedy" describes Dante's journey through Hell, purgatory and paradise, and has been called "the greatest literary statement produced in Europe in the medieval period". While I could easily have picked something from one my favorite contemporary authors (such as George Pelecanos, James Ellroy, Alan Furst or Richard Price), this collection is the most enjoyable, coming up automatically when I'm posed with the "High Fidelity" 'top five' question.

I've always loved "The Divine Comedy" and this collection stands out from the rest of what I read this past year due solely to Birk's artwork (pictures rock!). Here, Birk has created a wonderfully rendered vision of Dante's work, setting his paintings in contemporary urban America. The above print comes from the first chapter of "Inferno," accompanying the following words:

"About halfway through the course of my pathetic life
I woke up and found myself in a stupor in some dark place.
I'm not sure how I ended up there,
I guess I had taken a few wrong turns."

Note the detail in the painting (see the McDonald's logo in the back?). He is certainly the heir to Gustave Doré, of which Birk's works are based upon here.
Be sure to check these books out if you haven't yet.

Others I absolutely loved -- but did not write about here -- were Erik Larson's "The Devil in the White City" (Vintage), Eddie Muller's "The Distance" (Uglytown), Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's "Freakonomics" (William Morrow) and Nick Hornby's "The Polysyllabic Spree" (Believer Books). And I should probably also mention how much I enjoyed B.R. Myers' "A Reader's Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose" (Melville House), a quick little gem.

Here's to hoping I'm able to polish off even more books in 2006-- especially since I have 30 books on the shelf waiting to be read.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ode to the Black Table

One of my dreams this year was putting something together worthy enough for The Black Table. Sadly, it looks like I have to scratch this one off my list.

As they themselves
report, "it's with a heavy heart that we thank you all for your support and announce that in three weeks, on Friday January 27, we will no longer be updating the site."

Over the three years they've been in existence, they've publishing nearly 1,000 stories from 200 different authors. According to
FishbowlNY, they've served as an incubator for such rising talent as "[Entertainment Weekly]'s Whitney Pastorek, Salon's Lynn Harris, authors James Frey, Jonathan Ames and Tom Perotta, ESPN's Dan Shanoff, Lindsayism's Lindsay Robertson, Paper/The Corsair's Ron Mwangaguhunga, Glamour's Melissa Walker, Gawker's Jessica Coen, plus MB's own Claire Zulkey, Jamie Frevele, Greg Lindsay, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and, yes, your hardy fishblogger Rachel Sklar. (P.S. That's not an exhaustive list.)"

Fare thee well, Black Table-- you will be missed muchly.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"Don't Tell the Mermaids Where I'm Goin'"

Over the past few days, I've found myself fascinated with Beck's new CD, "Guerolito," essentially a remix of his earlier-in-2005 album, "Guero." I've been listening to it at home, on the subway, at work-- it's that damn good. It's also very quirky.

Each song from "Guero" appears here in a very different form, with Air and Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys two of the most notable contributors. There is one extra, added song that hasn't appeared on any other album that appears here as well, called "Clap Hands." This is the one song I can't get out of my head (you can listen to a portion of it

Between this and the Gorillaz album, I just hope I don't turn into
this guy.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Thankfully, A New Year

This past year was a hard one, to put it mildly, as my father passed away in May. There are no words I can put here that fully tell how much pain I still feel from this loss. So I'm glad 2006 -- a new year -- is now upon us. Thank God. Every day, I'm still mourning my dad, but it's a chance for a new start; may this year be less tumultuous for all.

My one resolution for the year: Enjoy life to the fullest.