Archive for August, 2010

The Suburbs: Review

“Sometimes I wonder if the world is so small that we can never get away from the sprawl…” —Arcade Fire, “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

“I used to think I was not like them, but I’m beginning to have my doubts…” —Arcade Fire, “City With No Children”

When I was 17, I saw Arcade Fire in what remains the best live performance I have ever seen. It was February 2, 2005, and even though the band’s first album, Funeral, had only been out for a little over four months, it seemed like Arcade Fire had been around forever. By the time the concert rolled around, the band was big enough to bring David Byrne on stage to perform an encore for an audience that included, among others, David Bowie.

In fact, Funeral had had so much buzz prior to its release that it seemed destined to underwhelm. I, for one, was ready to play contrarian and bash it, if only because “Arcade Fire” is a really stupid name for a band. The only problem, though, was that the album was legitimately awesome. From the opening track, “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels),” I loved it, and I was happy, for once, to completely understand what all the fuss was about.

Of course, with such a hyped and successful debut, there come questions of whether or not those fortunes can be duplicated. And while I really like their second album, and I really enjoyed them the next time I saw them in concert, I had started to think that Funeral was the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle success story that only happens to a band once.

The release of The Suburbs, though, has changed that. Continue reading

The Opening Remarks of a Newly Hired Manager Who Was Promptly Fired after His Opening Remarks

“Our primary weapon as a pitching staff, and as a team overall, will be the indiscriminate use of the pitchout. I know, it’s unorthodox, but therein lies its efficacy. We will never be afraid to pitch out. We will pitch out regardless of the batter, the baserunner, the count, the situation. We will pitch out with two strikes, we will pitch out with three balls. We will pitch out with the bases loaded. We will pitch out when no one is on. Our goal is to befuddle hitters into never being sure when a pitch is going to be in and when it is going to be out. We will, in this manner, revolutionize the game of baseball.”

Monday Medley

What we read while exiting through the evacuation slide….

  • Speaking of defense, definitely the legal defense of the week.

The Case for Tiger Woods; Or, We’re Disagreeing with Joe Posnanski?!?!

“The greatest struggle an athlete undergoes is the battle for our memories. It’s gradual. It begins before you’re aware that it’s begun, and it ends with a terrible fall from grace. It really is a battle to the death.”

–William Goldman

It hasn’t been a very good year for Tiger Woods.

Perhaps you’ve heard, but within the last 12 calendar months, Woods lost a major he led after 54 holes for the first time in 15 tries, crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant outside his Orlando home, had a deep history of infidelity and sexual philandering thrust into the public eye, issued multiple forced and awkward apologies, and attended sex rehab. And in the time since sex rehab, Woods has not won a single golf tournament.

This has led NPI-favorite Joe Posnanski to openly wonder why everyone still believes in Tiger Woods, why he was still the favorite to win the PGA Championship even though he’s coming off the worst performance of his career, why when he put a poll on his website, only 3% of respondents said Woods would “definitely not” break Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 18 grand slams (Woods has 14) when these days he looks “like everybody else.”

It has also led me, for pretty much the first time ever, to disagree with Joe Posnanski.

Continue reading

Got A Secret? About Last Night’s “Pretty Little Liars” Finale

This whole time that I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars–roughly four transcendent weeks by now*–I’ve been thinking, of course, a lot about Twin Peaks. The series, after all, are very similar. Both center on murdered girls from a small town with secrets. Both feature, for their time, attractive casts. Both involve the woods frequently. Both often hone in on marital problems. Both contain a character who rides a motorcycle and who was at least rumored to be romantically linked to the deceased while later becoming romantically linked to one of her friends. Both dead girls are very similar in personality, particularly their fondness for secrets.**

*In case you were wondering, I did find the time to finally go back and see the first three episodes.

**This is the time to overlook their very large differences, the main one I think being that Twin Peaks was a show essentially about small-town life with the mystery serving as an entrypoint whereas Pretty Little Liars doesn’t really care about developing Rosewood. And oh yeah, there are no owls in PLL.

Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while lamenting the destruction of traditional marriage…

  • Further proof that William Faulkner can write about anything, as if we needed it. Remember the words of Moe Szyslak: “William Faulkner can write an exhaust pipe gag that would really make you think.” Our favorite sentence from this Faulkner Sports Illustrated piece from 1955? “But [the ice] looked not expectant but resigned, like the mirror simulating ice in the Christmas store window, not before the miniature fir trees and reindeer and cosy lamplit cottage were arranged upon it, but after they had been dismantled and cleared away.”
  • We are far from the first ones on this, but sometimes, taking two things that independently aren’t funny, like say, Kanye West tweets and New Yorker cartoons, and putting them together equals comic gold.

600

A-Rod: The latest member of an exclusive club.....

Here’s something you may not be willing to accept: Barry Bonds is probably one of the five best hitters to ever play professional baseball, regardless of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Bill James called him “certainly the most unappreciated superstar of my lifetime.” Bonds was, according to James, by far the best player of his era. It should be noted that Bill James wrote this after the 1999 season—that is, he wrote it before five consecutive seasons in which Bonds had an OPS over 1.100, an OBP of at least .440 (and over .500 four times), and (in)famously set the single-season home run record, with 73 home runs in 2001. Continue reading

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