Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Passive-Aggressive Notes

In honor of anyone who can't say it to the face of their roommates, neighbors, cleaning ladies, tenants, and coworkers, there is passiveaggressivenotes.com

100 Ways to Kill a Peep


Tis the season. Quite a misleading title considering the site only has 15 ways thus far. Nevertheless, check the site out here.

Lady Gaga

NY Mag has a little piece on how Ms. Gaga rose to fame. And if you need some Poker Face, click here.

"In 2004, she graduated from the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private girls school near the Guggenheim with a dress code of kilt skirts. “We were good girls, but we weren’t nerdy like the girls at Chapin,” she says. “We were the girls that guys still wanted to date junior year of high school, because we hadn’t had sex or given blow jobs yet.” Things are different for her now, as a bisexual adult who idolizes transvestite fashion. (A tabloid recently quoted Christina Aguilera dissing her—“I don’t know if it is a man or a woman”; Gaga ate it up.) “I love sex,” she says, tipping her sunglasses down a bit and leering. “You know, sense memory is a powerful thing. I can give myself an orgasm just by thinking about it.”
Pimpin it in the Limo

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Stimulus

Spring is fighting through the wind and the rain to poke its sunny head through the WORST winter in life's memory. Not the worst winter weather wise. They are all equally bad. I'm talking about the R or D word that's been on the tip on the tip of every one's tongues since October.

In New York City, we've seen glimpses: the token random February 68 degree Tuesday, the "I think spring is here, but it's really not" mid-March day, and a few others where people wear coats even though it's 75 degrees just because it was 50 yesterday.

April is just about upon us. Baseball starts back up this weekend. Before we know it we will be dusting off our jorts and capris to bask in warmness of springtime. It won't save our economy or open up new jobs, but there's something hardwired into our brains that says that the new season represents much more than a few degrees. People literally spring into life.

Restaurants and bars open their patios. People stroll around instead of beeline for the next destination. Sunglasses make everyone look less ugly. Hacks and hack-nots ball together on the courts. Rollerbladers make us laugh and a little jealous at the same time. Strollers and ice cream cones and all sorts of Mary Poppinsish outdoor nonsense come to mind so much that I should be writing this in poem form.

It's the collection of it all that makes the new season so great. This isn't about suppressing the trillion dollar distraction; it's about renewing a sense of living. Nobody wakes up every morning to log a ten hour day and cap it off with some Two and Half Men in their Snuggie. Part of the charm of the city is walking around, taking in sights and sounds and freaks and lost tourists without freezing our ass off speedwalking to the subway.

We constantly hear about this Crisis of Confidence. True, no one will buy anything if they have no money or fear losing their job, but no one wants to do much of anything when they are miserable in the cold. Pea coats are nice and the indoor/outdoor contrast makes for a nice juxtaposition when saying "f*** it's so cold out there" or "f*** it's so much warmer in here". But one of the rights of passages living here is braving the horrifically cold winters and horrifically hot summers to enjoy the fall and spring of New York City.

In a time when no news seems to be good news, the best news ends up not being news at all. Rather it's something so simple and bare as the turning of the seasons. Time to get out and enjoy it.

Lebron on 60 Minutes

I had forgotten how James fired his agent a few years ago and hired his childhood friends to run his business. Quite an uproar over the move at the time.

Why the Bleep Do You Have a Kid?

This is pretty bad

Figuring Out This Online TV Model

The line between TV and the internet is blurring quicker than you may think. Subscription-based services may soon replace a lot of free programming available through hulu and the like:

"Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operator in the country, is working with customers here to test a subscriber model for online TV viewing. Residents who pay for HBO can watch “Big Love,” “Entourage” and other programs on their computers, using special software and a personal log-in. People who are not HBO subscribers are barred from the service."

"Cable executives expect broader tests by this summer of the new systems, which require them to develop technology to identify their subscribers when they go online. The approach is expected to be a hot topic at the cable industry’s annual trade show in Washington this week.

There are also signs that broadcasters and cable networks are worried that their initial, highly publicized push to put some of their programs online may be threatening the higher revenue they bring in when the same material runs on regular television. Cable networks are loath to put programs online unless they can maintain the per-subscriber fee that they receive from distributors."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Yanks

Will Leitch tackles the Yankees challenges ahead in this weeks 3,500 word NY Mag feature:


"So while the rest of us are tightening our belts and bracing for the worst, the Yankees are opening a state-of-the-art, $1.6 billion stadium. While the executives at AIG are held out as venal masters of destruction and shamed into giving up their bonuses, the Yankees are spending $423.5 million on three players. While the housing market tanks and nobody will buy so much as a pair of socks unless they’re 75 percent off, the Yankees dished out two and a half times more money this off-season than the rest of the American League combined.

It’s not that the Yankees didn’t take their licks, just like the rest of us have. Last year, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994, when there were no playoffs. But their response was not to cower, or to reevaluate their methods, or to try to play by the same rules as the rest of the world. They did not renounce their ways: They went all-in. Downturn in the economy? Hey, screw that. That’s loser talk. You see those three top free agents they have there? We’ll take all of them, thank you. The Washington Nationals built a brand-new stadium and watched attendance fall to half-capacity by the second game? Pshaw, like we’re the freaking Nationals. The rest of baseball cutting ticket prices and slashing the payroll? More for us, please!"

Shiftiness at Bank of America

Can't give exorbitant bonuses to bankers on the taxpayers dime? How about raising base salaries instead? Bloomberg reports:

"Bank of America, which has received $45 billion of taxpayers’ money, may raise the annual base pay for some managing directors to about $300,000 from $180,000, said the people, who declined to be identified because the final numbers are still under discussion. Salaries for less-senior directors would climb to about $250,000 from $150,000, and vice presidents would get $200,000, up from about $125,000, the people said."

I'm sure this will sit well with the public:

“We’re in an economic downturn, the government is pouring billions into banks, and these guys are boosting their salaries,” said Jason Kennedy, chief executive officer of London-based recruitment firm Kennedy Associates. “There’s an issue of public perception.”

The AIG Perspective

Maybe this is just a natural reaction whenever the media and public goes so overboard in anger, but I feel a degree of sympathy to some of the employees at AIG. That's why I found an uncovered internal blog entry from an exec at AIG so compelling. Below is an excerpt, but I recommend reading the whole thing here:

"It's amusing to hear people say we should be fired, or that the job isn't all that hard, or there's 50 people willing to do any of our jobs. To all of those folks, here's a clue: This is not a going concern, we have been working ourselves out of a job for the last 6 months, we will not have jobs when we are done, and any replacement will be doing it slower than we can, and is very likely to screw it up much worse than it already is. Oh, and a replacement might not get paid at all, if the government changes its mind again. The only reason I stayed was because I was told that I was a valued member of the team and I was promised a payment. Nobody ever actually tried to renegotiate the terms. It was never a secret, the ERP (Employee Retention Plan) was disclosed many times. Anybody telling you otherwise is lying. Anybody - Geithner, Cuomo, Blumenthal, Dodd, all of them and also those guys in Congress - they all had that information back in October. Cummings has been railing at Liddy about it since at least October."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Links

99 Seinfeld references

Lost photographs of Hiroshima

New math. It's very Demetri Martinesque

Speaking of, "Taking Woodstock" trailer, with Demetri Martin

Arenas returns!

Detroit's Future

Next stop on the U.S. city tour is TIME's look at Detroit's future:

"Detroit's motto, coined in 1827 to memorialize a devastating fire, translates from Latin as "We hope for better things; it shall arise from the ashes." But hope is in short supply. At 13%, Detroit's unemployment rate is the worst in the country among major metropolitan areas. City hall, long racked by corruption and cronyism, became a punch line last fall amid former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's imprisonment. To make matters worse, the city is struggling to bankroll potential remedies. Its projected $300 million budget deficit recently spurred ratings agencies to downgrade its municipal bonds to junk status. (See pictures of Detroit's decline.)

Yet all is not lost, as the city looks to reinvent itself as a greener community and haven for up- and-coming artists.

"In other ways, Detroit is moving on. In place of assembly lines, hundreds of urban farms and gardens have taken root. Nonprofit organizations are helping residents transform barren neighborhoods into fertile plots that feed impoverished families, beautify blighted blocks and raise home values. Others are taking the initiative on their own. Last April, after losing his job, Mark Covington hauled away the garbage piled on his street and began planting squash, tomatoes, collard greens and kale to give away.

His Georgia Street Community Collective devised a mentoring program for kids, held a holiday fundraiser for an evicted family and purchased a vacant building for $1 to convert into a community center and store--a useful commodity in a city vexed by food deserts. "We have to step up and do things for ourselves," Covington explains. "My idea is to have some type of garden on every block."

Is Facebook Growing Up Too Fast?

The New York Times addresses the question:

"More than two and a half million dissenters have joined a group on Facebook’s own site called “Millions Against Facebook’s New Layout and Terms of Service.” Others are lambasting the changes in their own status updates, which are now, ironically, distributed much more visibly to all of their Facebook friends.

The changes, Facebook executives say, are intended to make the act of sharing — not just information about themselves but what people are doing now — easier, faster and more urgent. Chris Cox, 26, Facebook’s director of products and a confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg, envisions users announcing where they are going to lunch as they leave their computers so friends can see the updates and join them.

“That is the kind of thing that is not meaningful when it is announced 40 minutes later,” he says.

The simmering conflict over the design change speaks to the challenges of pleasing 200 million users, many of whom feel pride of ownership because they helped to build the site with free labor and very personal contributions."

“They have a strange problem,” says S. Shyam Sundar, co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University, of Facebook’s quandary. “This is a technology that has inherently generated community, and it has gotten to the point where members of that community feel not only vested but empowered to challenge the company.”

ShamWow Vince Arrested

The Smoking Gun reports that Vince of ShamWow and Slap Chop fame was arrested and released on 4 easy payments of $232.50 after punching a prostitute during a hotel room romp. It should be noted that he punched her as she was biting his tongue without letting go.

But wait, there's more! Act now by clicking on the report link and we'll also throw in the prostitute's mug shot for no additional charge.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Orleans Brews

Keeping with the city tour and snatching everything from the same well, our friends at the NY Times also profiles the reemergence of New Orleans breweries. This is near and dear to my friend Stephanie's heart, so here you go:

"Founded in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans in 1907, the Dixie Brewing Company was still sputtering along when Katrina upended the city. Its old brick building on Tulane Avenue was left stewing in 10 feet of water, and when the flood finally receded, looters moved in to haul off anything of value, including a copper kettle 16 feet in diameter. The brewery these days, with its imposing metal dome, is nothing but a spooky shell.

Heiner Brau brewed for Dixie for about six months, but was ultimately unable to keep up with demand. Its beers, including the popular Blackened Voodoo Lager, are currently shipped around the country from the Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wis. Dixie’s owners, Joe and Kendra Bruno, are eager for it to return to production in its original home. “We believe that it belongs there,” Ms. Bruno said recently by phone."

NY Times on the Portland Economy

The New York Times profiles my second favorite city, using the scaled back expansion plans of its famous book store as a microcosm of the nation's economic woes:

"Portland, a metropolitan area of 2.2 million people, affords an ideal window onto the spiral of fear and diminished expectations assailing the economy. The area has long attracted investment and talented minds with its curbs on urban sprawl, thriving culinary scene and life in proximity to the Pacific Coast and the snow-capped peaks of the Cascades. In good times, Portland tends to grow vigorously, elevated by companies like the computer chip maker Intel — which employs 15,000 people in the area — and the athletic clothing giant Nike.

But in recent months, Portland has devolved into a symbol of much that is wrong. Housing prices have fallen more than 14 percent since May 2007, according to the S.& P./Case-Shiller index. Foreclosures more than tripled last year, according to RealtyTrac. The unemployment rate for the metro area surged from 4.8 percent at the end of 2007 to 9.8 percent in January 2009, according to the Labor Department."

GOP Budget Plan




















I might as well call my blog fivethirtynine, but this was too good to pass up. The GOP proudly boasted about its numberless budget plan, and Nate Silver got a sneak peak.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Other Side

Sports Illustrated feature story on how so many professional athletes end up broke:

"By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce. Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

Former NBA forward Shawn Kemp (who has at least seven children by six women) and, more recently, Travis Henry (nine by nine) have seen their fortunes sapped by monthly child-support payments in the tens of thousands of dollars. Last month Henry, who reportedly earned almost $11 million over seven years in the NFL, tried and failed to temporarily reduce one of his nine child-support payments by arguing that he could no longer afford the $3,000 every month. Two weeks later he was jailed for falling $16,600 behind in payments for his child in Frostproof, Fla."

Is Your Life In Danger?

Probably! if you live in one of these states. #5 seems kind of low for Florida, right?

1. Nevada (Voted most dangerous 6 years in a row, #1 in Robbery & Car Theft)
2. Louisiana (Highest Murder Rate, 2nd in Assault and 3rd in Burglary)
3. South Carolina (#1 in Assault)
4. New Mexico (#2 In Rape, # 4 In Murder)
5. Florida (#3 in Robbery)
6. Tennessee
7. Alaska (#1 In Rape, 4th In Assault)
8. Arizona
9. Maryland (#2 In Murder & Robbery)
10. Michigan
11. Arkansas
12. Georgia
13. Alabama (#3 in Murder)
14. California
15. Texas
16. Oklahoma
17. Delaware
18. North Carolina (#1 Burglary)
19. Missouri
20. Illinois

Keri Hilson, Kanye, Ne-Yo "In a Perfect World"


Love that Keri Hilson, but if you don't, skip to the end to hear a nice verse from Mr. West.

1992-2007 Pay Increases by Sector




















Note that the '92 numbers are in '07 dollars. Check out Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight for an examination of how such discrepancies across industries came to pass.

Rihanna Packing Heat

Goold Ol' Fashioned Schadenfreude

My Two Dads

(My friend's story posted with permission)

Like a lot of kids from Long Island, I was raised catholic. What most people would never know about me is that I was raised by a religious fanatic. Yes, thanks to my mother, for my entire childhood I believed every tiny indiscretion of my life would be a one way ticket to eternal damnation. Even when I was 14, and less completely reliant on my parents to make decisions for me, I kissed a boy for the first time and immediately started crying because I felt like the slut my grandma claimed I'd always become and God would soon smite me.


My mom is completely nuts. She says she hates everyone and everything, and not in the funny way like I do. I was taught to hate everyone. Black people, hispanic people, Asian people, Italian people, Jewish people - I assumed everyone was the strange stereotype my mom taught me. Even thinking about them now is so ridiculous its funny, like when she told me the Chinese acrobats would break into our house by standing on each others shoulders and entering through the second floor. I couldn't even make that up. My mom also literally told me that all gay men had AIDS and that if I even went near them, I'd catch it too.

When I was about to enter high school, my parents got divorced. Some Catholic you are mom. Her favorite pastime became saying all kinds of horrible things about my father, and he really didn't help considering he more or less disappeared. As she tightened her leash on the one thing she could control in her life, moi, it was hard not to believe her.

Finally towards the end of high school, I had had enough of her bullshit just as my dad conveniently sauntered back into my life. My mom instructed me to not tell my father anything about her personal life, and I knew better than to tell her about his (‘cause shes crazy!) That summer my father moved into an apartment in Manhattan and I went to visit him. As I sat in this tiny one bedroom apartment, his roommate (we'll call him Joe), came back after walking his dog. He noticed me sitting there and greeted me. "Hayyyyy how y'all doin!" I feel like the written word cannot convey just how southern and also not straight this man was. I'd never even met a gay man and I immediately tensed up. A million thoughts ran through my brain. Or maybe just five: One bedroom apartment. Roommate. One bed. Chihuahua. Dad taking me to Broadway Show. As I sat there thinking, my father tried to cover his tracks. "Oh I sleep on the couch. You know, its the only way I can afford a place like this in Manhattan and its always been a dream of mine." 'Okay sure. Whatever,' I thought, 'Thats fine, I will choose to believe this.'

I went off to college and met my first out of the closet gay man. Of course for a few days I was convinced he had AIDS but kept this to myself. Eventually we became friends because he was really funny and let me give him make overs. AIDS, schmaids. I'm pretty sure I told someone my fears who explain that that notion was ridiculous.

Periodically, I saw my dad and he'd always come up with a really lame excuse to bring Joe along, and I tried to believe him. I wish I could remember my dad's excuse for Joe being at Christmas, because it was ludicrous, but I can't. Think 'Joe didn't feel like paying for a plane ticket home.' Meanwhile they live in a dope Manhattan apartment. In the spring my father moved to South Beach in Miami (I know), and when I stayed with him for spring break, he and Joe slept in the same room that contained one bed, and said nothing. Alright, the jig was up. But confronting your father about his sexuality is, I don't know, a smidge awkward, don't you agree?

By the time my father acually came out to me that summer, I'd accepted it already. We were fighting about my cell phone and he asked when I'd start acting like an adult. I told him it would be when he started treating me like one, instead of acting like I'm stupid about certain things in his life. Then it became one of those conversations that is entirely vague although both participants know what it is really about. I dealt because, well, it sucked not having a dad around when I was in high school. However, I had to make some compromises. First I had to keep my uber republican sister calm. Though you can't really blame her for running down Ocean Drive crying in South Beach when my father took us to a gay bar for the first time without telling us thats where we were going. Or saying anything about it once we got there. Second I realized that for the rest of her life, every conversation I'd have with my mother about my father would be almost completely fabricated. Because when I lie, I really do it up. I was okay with that because there really was no other option. My dad didn't ask me to keep it a secret but if she knew she'd...I don't even know.

I guess this happened at a pretty good time in society because its when Bravo was first getting big and being gay was, I don't know, in style. So all my friends thought it was really cool. I guess I lucked out. Sure, my dad has been overcompensating for 50 years of living a lie by going to Donna Summer concerts (seriously), buying houses and then selling them so he can decorate new ones, and pretty much only taking me to Gay Bars for family time. And thats fine, because I have to be the cool daughter who doesnt freak out that there is a man dancing inexplicably oiled up and shirtless to my right while my dad angrily asking me why I haven't read/seen The Devil Wears Prada. Its honestly the closest thing to normal life I will ever have.

I still do live in fear of the day my mom will find out about my dad's secret life and my role in it. There is not enough Lysol in the world that would clean the house if she knew the places I've been.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buzzkill of the Day: MTA Approves Fair Hikes

"In a final vote of 12–1, the MTA board approved a series of service cuts and fare hikes in order to stave off a growing budget gap. For riders, this means subway and bus rides in the city will go up to $2.50 from $2. Monthly MetroCards will go up from $81 to $103. On bridges and tunnels where there are already tolls, EZ-Pass charges will go from $4.15 to $5.26, and cash charges will go from $5 to $6.50."

Where the Wild Things Are: Trailer


(FYI: Song In Trailer is by Arcade Fire)

Last Chance to Take it Back

Gmail is experimenting with a new feature that could save you from sending out a potentially embarrassing email:

"When a Gmail user who enables this feature sends an e-mail, a button that says "Undo" will pop up on their screen for five seconds. If the user hits the button within that time, the service will retrieve the e-mail in draft form -- allowing the user to make changes or cancel the message altogether."

The Lady Terps

Lost in the madness of March for University of Marylanders who had to suffer a brutal loss to the oversized Memphis Tigers in the NCAA Men's Tournament is the superior Lady Terrapins basketball team. I grew up as an unabashed hater of women's basketball. From the brick parade and finals scores that resembled football games, I was quick to dismiss the ladies game as an inferior alternative and easy punchline. My preconceptions could not have been more wrong. It took a National Championship run in 2006 to get me to notice, but once I finally jumped on the bandwagon, I was hooked.


The Lady Terps average more points per game than their male counterparts, shoot better, and possess a better collective personality. During a long stretch in the first half of the second round match-up against Utah, the team hit a slew of pull-up jumpers, fired picture perfect passes to the low post and blocked the living shit out of a sure layup. They draw huge crowds by women's standards and have dwarfed the men's team with three trips to the Sweet 16 since 2006. It's easy to cling to a winner, but there are plenty of winners out there you wouldn't pay a nickel to watch. This team is fun to watch.

So as the team marches ahead in the NCAA Tournament, I'd like to share my appreciation of seniors Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver who helped covert an ignoramus into a fan. If you've read this far, check out a piece WaPo's Mike Wise has on the duo's last home game:

"Sixty-five wins, three losses here. Two unbeaten seasons at home. Near-capacity crowds, including a throaty student section last night.

Did we mention the national title banner? It hangs high on a steel beam with the No. 20, worn by the floor leader whose three-pointer in the championship game three Aprils ago brought dead quiet to Duke, and No. 25, worn by the do-everything forward who stylishly cinched the fabric of her jersey together, better exposing the sinewy arms and strong shoulders responsible for more than 1,000 rebounds."






Gum8ball machine




















(via dlisted)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Presser Roundup

Gawker has a round-up of some of the worst offenders of the press conference:

"Major Garret: Fox News.
For finding a way to ask an economic question involving both the words "communist" and "socialist," and for using a White House press conference as a platform from which to pitch his idea for a dystopian science fiction TV series.

The Chinese are about to launch a global currency, you see, while European socialists are bringing about a New Dark Age by not allocating more GDP to government spending, like, uh, Milton Friedman would.

In summary: You're gay for France and all Soviet sympathizers everywhere, Mr. President, but where are your red friends now, mmmmmm? Least relevant question of the presser; also, the one most likely to make your target Fox News viewer do a fist-jab in his Barcalounger."

The Disconnect

After watching Obama's press conference and subsequent analysis after on CNN, the opposition to the President's ambitious (pseudonym for expensive) budget is predicated on the idea that spending trillions of dollars on education, health care and energy is 1. hypocritical, as Obama chastised the Bush Administration for racking up huge debts, 2. will further weaken our economy, as a $15-20 trillion dollar deficit will hurt America's ability to borrow and 3. detracts from the focus on solving the banking and housing crisis. These are legitimate concerns. Here is a visual representation of what just one trillion dollars looks like. It's staggering and difficult to wrap the head around.


The growth projections are debatable. The prospects of Geithner's banking plan are debatable. Just about every proposal set forth in the administration's agenda is debatable. But what Obama reiterated throughout the presser is that 1. inaction will eventually bankrupt our country and 2. the opposition has failed to present a viable alternative. Obama is essentially doubling down on the premise that the only way to spur sustained growth in our economy is to spend massively on the front end in hopes of generating innovation, jobs and ultimately wealth on the back end.


The disconnect lies in the failure of the opposition to recognize that we are no longer in a 1990s economy or even a pre-2009 economy. In the former, the creation of wealth was largely driven by our leverage of globalization practices. American businesses either took advantage of outsourcing or the inferior economies of our trade partners. In the latter, the creation of wealth was driven by speculative markets.

With the rise of power in foreign markets and the impending overhaul of regulation, neither philsophies will work. Unfortunately for a lot of sectors, whether its energy in the case of Enron, technology in the case of the dot com bust era or banking, it's hard to imagine a scenario where vast amounts of wealth can be created by betting on what something will be worth on the future. With tighter regulation, it will be much more difficult to circumnavigate "the system" without the checks and balances to nip a speculative market gone wild in the bud before it ever gets out of hand.

So what does this mean? It means that our economy must be rebuilt on more efficient systems and more tangible, current assets. The massive overhaul of health care, energy, and education will cost big dollars, but it will generate a smarter nation, facing less obstruction and costs in medicine, with renewable forms of energy that can create jobs and be sold to the rest of the world. To assume improving the quality of the three through expensive and exhausting overhauls does not correlate with a more robust and reliable economy is an outdated mentality. It is uncomfortable, dangerous and unproven, but the alternative, laissez faire attitude will keep us stuck in 2009 while the rest of the world forges ahead.



Links

Box Office Mojo: with figures, genre comparisons, forecasts, and more

Hide your children. The Lady Terps will eat them

Oldest words in the English language

Woodstock '09 rumors

More Geithner

Grochery Shopping

Super supermarket Gristedes in NYC is an interesting place, no doubt. Out of a combination of fear and social self- consciousness, I go about every other day. I fear microwaves, so I never buy anything frozen. Laugh now, but when everyone gets cancer from too many Hot Pockets and Lean Cuisines, I'll be laughing because I got my cancer from somewhere else.

The social consciousness comes from the relationship I have with the deli guys. Since I'm food boring, I get the same thing every time: 1/2lb. of honey ham and 1/4lb. of muenster. Problem is, the ham last 2 days and the cheese lasts 3. I just don't have the heart to ask the deli man for only 4 slices of muenster so I end up in the nightmare "10 hot dogs/8 hot dog buns"-ish scenerio. And I can't get 3/4lb. of ham because by Day 3, the ham is slightly over the hill. As a side note, the snaggle-toothed deli guy with the cap and slight abrasiveness has grabbed turkey when I said ham on 3 seperate occasions. A modern day Phineas Gage, perhaps?

But the fun doesn't end there. I also find the grochery store to be the best place for phone conversations. Not only do the flourescents keep me alert, but all the sauces/cereal/cleaning supplies/etc. make for great conversation pieces during lulls. It's just a myraid of word associations before your eyes
(Jar of peppers-Julius Peppers-UNC-Petey Pablo-Pablo Diablo-Wyclef-Clef Palate-and so on). TV doesn't have the same charm because much of the tube involves listening or following moving images. Groceries are just sitting there. Plus I like to walk and talk, so what better pacing place than the aisles?

Finally, the check-out. After I get my ham, cheese, wheat bread, chicken, and cinnamon Quaker oatmeal, I'm all set for an experience that would make an environmentalist roll in his tree house. The stack of yellow plastic bags at the Gristedes cashier's disposal extends a good foot farther than any other supermarket I've ever been at. Remember in 10th grade sex education when the teacher taught you that using multiple condoms is actually counter-productive to preventing STDs? Well using 6 bags for 5 items is counter-productive to my grocery unloading and the world's survival. So recently I've resorted to bagging my own stuff (I know, god forbid), which involves quite a balancing act of shifting between hitting the card-swiping buttons, bagging, and exchanging awkward pleasantries. And that's my trip.


Comfort Food

Economy down, candy sales up. I haven't noticed a change in my consumption, but then again, I've been eating gummy frogs since they had small faces:

"Many big candy makers are reporting rising sales and surprising profits even as manufacturers of other products are struggling to stay afloat. Cadbury reported a 30 percent rise in profits for 2008 while Nestle’s profits grew by 10.9 percent, according to public filings. Hershey, which struggled for much of 2008, saw profits jump by 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Junkie Theater

In the era of skank of love busses, karaoke on steroids, and NCIS24CSIs, the best show in town is our president facing off against the hungry hungry hypocritical press corp. Hungry, because Obama remains one of the few chunks of ratings gold left on TV. Hypocritical, because the same networks and publications who chastise him for late-night sit downs and ESPN Barack-etology, salivate at the opportunity to spread the wealth of soundbites and optics to every nook and cranny of the media universe.

Since the inauguration, Obama has been attacked for appearing too aloof, too serious, too unserious, too nuanced, too vague, too pessimistic, and too optimistic. Yes, a lot of these contridictions are coming from opposing sides: republicans vs. democratics, bankers vs. unions; but lately the line has been blurred to include praise from the GOP and criticism from the liberals. Whatever. The point is not to pick a side or complain about injustice. Instead, it's to get all giddy about a night sure to produce drama and intrigue.

Between the bank plan roll out and Cheney bashing, Special Olympic gaffe and a painstakingly long vetting process, there's enough fodder to last a 16-episode story arc. Couple that with a press corp jockeying for airspace and you have what's shaping out to be a dynamic hour of television that bests anything else out there (except for Eastbound and Down, of course).



Links

15 crazy lawsuits

Roseanne is returning

Shiny new things at Kanye University

Mexico offers $2 million for drug lords

Nate Silver on the Wall St. reaction to Geithner


The Seed from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

Door Closed Quickly on This One

In honor of my old roommate heading out to Los Angeles to sell ELEVATORS, I thought I would share some really lame banter on the move. I thought this would go on forever. It didn't.


me: my friend dan is gonna be an elevator salesman
Erin: so many jokes for that
me: he was in iowa for training and was to be placed somewhere in the us
he got Los Angeles
Erin: woosh he lucked out
"Hi Dan are sales up or down?"
how do you SELL elevators
me: who knows
Erin: "I see you have more than one floor here. ever consider
not having to walk up and down the stairs?"
hmmm
i need to hear this sales pitch
me: lets just hope he pushes the right buttons on his sales pitch
Erin: or he'll get shafted
me: i am already out of elevator puns
maybe its not the comedy gold mine you thought it was

The New Ballparks


Paul Goldberger reviews the new Yankees Stadium and unfortunately named Citi Field in the new issue of the New Yorker:

"A stadium is a stage set as sure as anything on Broadway, and it determines the tone of the dramas within. Citi Field suggests a team that wants to be liked, even to the point of claiming some history that isn’t its own. Yankee Stadium, however, reflects an organization that is in the business of being admired, and is built to serve as a backdrop for the image of the Yankees, at once connected to the city and rising grandly above it."

Geithner's Plan

Geithner's WSJ op-ed piece on his plan to rescue banks can be found here

Obama's Economic Team


Stolen from spanking fresh NY Mag cover story. It's a doozy.

"With their budget, they have laid out a vision that, as former Labor secretary Robert Reich puts it, “reverses and repudiates the economic philosophy that has dominated America since 1981.” Obamanomics isn’t merely the end of Reaganomics, in other words. It’s the end of Rubinomics, too."

The plan:

First, the government would create public-private partnerships, in which a handful of hedge funds and private-equity groups, backed with taxpayer dollars and guaranteed against big losses, would buy up the toxic assets from the banks. Once the banks’ balance sheets were cleaned up, the government would inject the necessary capital into those banks to keep them solvent until private investors stepped in to fund the newly healthy banks. At the same time, the government is administering the so-called stress tests to determine which of the nineteen biggest banks are dangerously undercapitalized and will require injections of government dough (in exchange for preferred stock) to stay afloat if the economy worsens.

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

I cannot believe I used to laugh at some of these:

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
Well, I think so, Brain, but first you'd have to take that whole bridge apart, wouldn't you?

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I think so, Brain, but we're already naked.

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I think so, Brain, but culottes have a tendency to ride up so.

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I think so, Brain, but if they called them "Sad Meals", kids wouldn't buy them!

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I think so, Brain, but me and Pippi Longstocking -- I mean, what would the children look like?

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I think so, Brain, but I don't think Kay Ballard's in the union.

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
I think so, Brain, but, the Rockettes? I mean, it's mostly girls, isn't it?

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
Umm, I think so, Brain, but three men in a tub? Ooh, that's unsanitary!

Behind the Scenes: Eastbound and Down

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tournament Thoughts 2

1. Hugh Jackman probably took steroids for Wolverine.

2. IBM and Exxon are going to fix the world.

3. The ratio of Sonic commercials I've seen to Sonic stores I've seen is 5,000:0.

4. Is it so hard to remove the NBA 3-pt. line from the courts?

5. If you picked Clemson or FSU to reach the Sweet 16, you are stupid.

6. I am stupid.

7. No sport tops basketball in sexual innuendo (ball-handing, sweet stroke, etc.)

8. Some one in the Villanova coaching organization probably has ties to the mob.

9. The Haunting is Connecticut is redundant. Right people? High five anyone?

10. Nothing pleases Jay Bilas.

Tournament Thoughts

1. It feels like Jay Bilas is announcing from multiple cities.

2. The consensus is now that everybody hates Nic Cage. What a waste of a cool fake name.

3. The FG% of 14 footers is about 25% in this tournament.

4. Drinkability commercials shamelessly rip of Southwest "wanna get away?" commercials.

5. The middle pack of the ACC has been pretty embarrassing.

6. The PAC-10 hasn't.

7. Every financial and car commercial is some form of depressing. Even the ones with Howie Long.

8. East Tennessee State would have beat Pittsburgh if they made free throws.

9. By all accounts the new Sprint Center is awesome, but Kansas City's only claim to fame is that its equidistant to both coasts.

10. It's wise of the Sports Guy to avoid covering college sports.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Top 10 Conan Moments

Relive the magic here:

#3 Apple picking with Mr. T

Laziness ctd.

Let's Dance: Part 2

Oooops

Just to prove I'm not helplessly Probama, there was one pretty bad misstep in big O's sit down with Leno tonight. Leno asked Obama if he gutted the White House bowling alley in favor of a basketball court. Obama's response:

"No, no. I have been practicing . . . I bowled a 129. It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something."

I'm pretty sure that by the time I wake up, the Special Olympics committee will demand some sort of apology and CNN's Rick Sanchez will ask everyone to share their thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. Then the New York Post will put together some graphic of Obama superimposed onto a wheelchair with a basketball in his hand. Then PETA will swoop in over the First Family's pick for a dog because it came from some detestable breeder. Thank god I will miss all of this with hours and hours of basketball this weekend.

INSTANT UPDATE: Yup, its already everywhere, including a lead story on POLITICO.

UPDATE 2: Gawker has it too, along with a clip of Keith Olbermann discussing it with Craig Ferguson (although Gawker calls him Colin Ferguson. Inside joke?)


this is going to be real annoying.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mercurizzle Poisizzling

TERPS WIN! I'm Lazy, It's Clip Day

For old time's sake:



(credit deadspin for the inspiration)

Colbert on the Past Tense of Twitter

Commander and Chucklehead


(via POLITICO)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ten Minutes of Steven Seagal Beating Ass

Last Minute Bracket Considerations

20081, 1, 1, 1Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, UCLA
20071, 1, 2, 2Florida, Ohio State, Georgetown, UCLA
20062, 3, 4, 11UCLA, Florida, LSU, George Mason
20051, 1, 4, 5North Carolina, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan State
20041, 2, 2, 3Duke, Connecticut, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech
20031, 2, 3, 3Texas, Kansas, Marquette, Syracuse
20021, 1, 2, 5Maryland, Kansas, Oklahoma, Indiana
20011, 1, 2, 3Duke, Michigan State, Arizona, Maryland
20001, 5, 8, 8Michigan State, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin
19991, 1, 1, 4Connecticut, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State
19981, 2, 3, 3North Carolina, Kentucky, Stanford, Utah









Diddy is Kind of Annoying

Discontinued :(

Links


High-tech green roof architecture

Biomass and thermal power designs

Interview with Animal Collective

Germany presents: Obama Fingers

What a TRILLION dollars looks like

Maryland

Here is a tournament preview I wrote for deadspin, along with some fun facts about the school:

1. Fear la Tortuga. An impressive ACC Tournament performance negated the bad losses to Morgan State and Virginia to send #10 Maryland to face the #7 California Golden Bears in Kansas City on Thursday. The two teams met this past season in football, where the Terps beat the Gatorade out of Cal, 35-27. Junior guard Greivis “Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario” Vasquez, the only player in the nation to wear eye black, leads the team in points (17.2), rebounds (5.5) and assists (5.1) per game. The fiery Venezuelan played high school ball with Kevin Durant at Montrose Christian in Rockville, MD. Eric Hayes, Maryland’s other starting guard, always looks like he’s about to turn the ball over, causing me to yell at my TV and out my window. But then he’ll knock down a big three, and all is forgiven…for now. Oafy, yet lovable Dave Neal, whom Terp alum Scott Van Pelt dubs “The Mayor” for some reason, holds his own despite looking like a cross between Paul Blart and Kevin James. The lone senior leads the team in 3-point percentage and SABs (Smiles After Buckets). He’s the Jimmy Fallon of basketball. Interchangeable parts Landon Milbourne, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosely, Cliff Tucker and Dino Gregory have had their moments, but the team’s success is dependent on the play of Vasquez. In Maryland’s 20 wins, Vasquez averaged 19.3 ppg; in losses, he averaged just 11.5.

2. Fun Gestapo. Best known for burning couches, Scheyerface, and throwing batteries at Carlos Boozer’s mom, Maryland’s fans can be a little rambunctious. But at least we do it in unison! So it was sad to see our Commie utopia disrupted when the university shot down the contest-winning nickname for the Comcast Center student section. Campus buzzkills deemed the name “Red Army” offensive to Eastern Europeans, proving once again that Native Americans are the only people colleges can still publicly disparage.

3. Midnight Madness. On October 15, 1971, Maryland coach, Lefty Driesell, began the tradition of Midnight Madness in an effort to build up hype around his squad. At midnight, which marked the beginning of the first official day of team practice, Coach Driesell had his players run laps around Byrd Stadium’s track. Reflecting on the day, Lefty said, “I got the word around campus and 500 or 600 people showed up. We didn't have (stadium) lights, so the guys ran by car lights.” Not to be outdone, current coach and R.J. Bentley’s frequenter Gary Williams has carved out his own Madness staple by entering the arena floor in increasingly ridiculous vehicles. A tank is considered a vehicle, right?

Here’s Gary in a Lambo; on a motorcycle; in a tank!

Bonus: The Wikipedia entry on Midnight Madness has redefined laziness in fact-checking:

According to legend, Lefty Driesell, who was the head coach for the Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team, began the tradition in 1970 or 1971.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Complaint: MTV.com Edition

If you are like me, and I know you are, MTV has gone way of the Snickers bar: You are too old to digest it in public, but will consume it in private from time to time. I won't watch a skater and his bodyguard or "Run's House", but I'm not above watching every other episode of "The City" or a "Made" episode where a sure-to-fail H.S. sophomore band geek campaigns for prom queen. What a tool. But this isn't ground-breaking journalism here. Everyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s has complained about the station being a shell of it's former self. It's become cliche and inconsequential at the same time. Instead, here's my bafflement at the missed opportunity of MTV's website, mtv.com:

Mtv.com should be leading the way in online music, right? The site has licensed access to over 16,000 videos. And despite a grand total of zero video airings on the flagship station, MTV Hits, MTV Espanol, and MTV Jams air videos around the clock. While costly epics like "November Rain" have gone by the wayside in favor of smaller budget blue screen and Miami Beach shoots, music videos are still a strong driver of sales. With the explosion of Youtube and embedded video, any Tom, Dick, and Brian can post a music on their site. But mtv.com should be the driver behind this. This isn't a knock on the site's content- the videos are there, the articles are there. The problem is, the site itself is horrible.

Sure, blame piracy and Youtube, but really this is a microcosm of the bigger problem with the MTV brand- it is stale. What was once a pioneer in music and sorta-music related content is now a slow-loading, ad puffed, bulky, difficult-to-navigate, directionless site. It's as if an executive at the company said, "Just throw all the shit we own onto the front page, they'll figure it out."

This post may seem irrelevant because MTV has become irrevelant. Color me nostaligic, but back in my day (in old geezer voice), MTV used to mean something. Sure, that something may have been Bon Jovi, (younger) Britney, and Nine Inch Nails videos, but there was an energy and differentiation between MTV and everyone else. Now, sites like Youtube, Imeem, and countless others have rendered mtv.com moot at a time when it should be innovating. Shouldn't users be able to purchase songs off a flashy interface? Shouldn't the site build an online community that rivals the now music-centric Myspace? Viacom's troubles are well documented and likely a source of such shortcomings, but perhaps this a part of the reason why the conglomerate is in trouble in the first place.



In Honor of St. Patrick's Day

Check out Jenny Wick's photography piece titled "Root Ginger":

"Redheads are a pretty big deal. From naughty Eve in the Garden of Eden, without whom some might argue none of us would be here at all, to Britain's most renowned monarchs - Henry-the-serial-wife-killer and his daughter Elizabeth-the-virgin (perhaps some connection there), not to mention the recent Prince Harry-the-rascist. People have been singing ballads to readheads since time immemorial (especially the Irish). More recently there was Valerie, so lamented by The Zutons and Amy Winehouse in the song of the same name. Would the song worked if Valerie had been a brunette? It’s impossible to say. Yet despite their abundant tenacity, gingers receive a very bad press and have often found themselves the objects of ridicule and the victims of what remains in our society, apparently, the last acceptable discrimination."

Scribd

If you haven't heard of Scribd yet, here's your introduction. The site, developed in 2007, allows users to upload PDFs (as seen below) and embed them into websites. Obama's plans, including the '09 budget, health care plan and small business recovery plan can all be found on the site. The site description:

Scribd began with a simple observation – that there's a writer in all of us. And that even more fundamental than our desire for self-expression is our need to learn and be inspired.

Today, Scribd is the place where you publish, discover and discuss original writings and documents. More than 50 million people each month are finding or sharing fun, functional or fantastical writings and documents on Scribd.com and tens of thousands of other websites that have embedded Scribd's document reader.

2009 NCAA Tournament Men's Basketball Bracket


Happy St. Pat's














See the rest of Christoph Neimann's simple but brilliant NYC Lego work here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Let's Dance

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What the Hell Happened to My Facebook Page?



What in Kerry Kittles name is going on around here? I mean, it was inevitable, considering I already posted about the awfulness that was headed our way. But to see it in action- the colors, the claustrophobia, everything is just plain bad. I am reminded of elementary school, when the Trapper Keeper took hold. At first, there was just a slobbery dog ripping apart a baseball on the cover. Then our friends at Mead added a ruler inside. Then the ruler was curved to serve as a protractor. Then, I don't know, a digital clock inside? Whatever it was, things were just added for the purpose of adding more things.

Facebook seems to be taking this same approach. I looked at my screen and couldn't think of one post or group on there I care about. Hey, Julie wants to go somewhere fun! And so does Tu Ahn, whoever the hell that is. Two friends have pieces of flair. Kill me.

Let the backlash begin in 5...4...3...

Tyson Trailer

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Gift and the Curse


Call me old, but these days the college selection process seems different. With a restructured SAT scoring and emphasis on bullshit community service and bullshit club involvement, there's almost a mechanical formula to getting into college these days. Or perhaps this has always existed and I just bypassed the rigmarole by having four criteria to picking my university: far enough from home where I wasn't tempted to visit old flames, a big student population, south of New Jersey, and, most importantly, a big time athletics program.

The University of Maryland fit the criteria. I wasn't a big fan of the color red or anything blow the Mason-Dixon, line but something about the school seemed right. So right that my mind was made up before I ever stepped foot on campus. Embarrassingly enough, I grew up cheering for Duke. I wanted to go to Duke. But somewhere between a B in Driver's Ed. (ruining my 4.0) and a 2 on my AP Calc exam, I had to readjust my goals for something a little more realistic.

So junior year, I was watching a CBS basketball match up between the Terps and the Blue Devils- the mighty Dukies vs. the scrappy Terps- and it just clicked. The rabid fans. The fiery coach. And the team who emulated their coach with grit and tenacity.

In retrospect, it's kind of stupid to pick your school based on one basketball game. I knew nothing about Len Bias and the harsh sanctions that paralyzed the program for years. I knew nothing about the shit hole, campus-hating town that was College Park. Yet, it felt right. Before I knew it I was stalking the mailbox every day for that letter from Maryland.

It didn't take long to understand what it was to be Maryland Terrapin student and fan. The first day back from winter break and Maryland was up 10 against the Blue Devils at Cole Field House in College Park. At Maryland, we riot, so I was tying my shoes, getting ready to sprint a half mile to the campus fraternity row to burn couches, goalposts, desks, or anything else that takes to a flame. Like a duckling needs only its instinct to follow its mother through the pond, I knew the drill without ever participating in the infamous Maryland riot. Except, it was not to be.

Maryland blew the lead in the most gut-wrenching, heart-snatching way imaginable. Turnovers, missed shots, questionable calls- just eight different ways to punch you in the stomach, kick you in the teeth, and tell you your girlfriend got pregnant by a Duke MBA. Oh and the same thing happened in the semifinals of the Final Four...to Duke.

Well next year Maryland won the National Championship. It was euphoric and cathartic and anticlimactic all in one. The Terps were favored to win, but we still had to win. You would think a national championship would elicit prose and hyperbole, but it didn't. It felt more of a great exhale, a year and a half in the making.

The next year we flamed out in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. The year after that we shocked the nation by avenging our heartbreaking loss to Duke by rallying back from 14 down to win the ACC Championship. Then we lost and won and lost and repeated through a permutation of huge wins over top ranked foes and awful losses against beatable teams.

And it's been the same ever since graduation almost five years ago. I'm forever locked into a team that will break my heart or make my weekend. One minute I won't care, the next minute nothing can be more important. It's irrational to put so much emotion into the ability of people I will never know scoring more points than the other team based only on the color of the jersey. But such is sports.

I often say i made a deal with the devil (one of many) by trading a championship for a lifetime of annual heartbreaks. But it's nights like these, nights where the Terps beat Wake Forest to likely earn a spot in the Big Dance, where it makes perfect sense to choose a school out of something as trivial as its collegiate athletics.

Bring on the Dukies.
 
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