Sunday, January 29, 2006

Take back the White House in 08

OK, we've lost David Palmer to an assassin's bullet. But what about Jon Stewart, eh? I just watched one of the funniest bits ever on The Daily Show. He contrasted Oprah's indignation at the disclsoure of James Frey's having fabricated passages of his "memoir" versus some of the media's Fabergé Egg handling of George W. Bush.

Oprah had the balls to call Frey a liar to his face for making up parts of his "memoir." But we're unable to call Bush a liar about having led us into a war to find non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Must exercise discipline

in both blogging and doing push-ups. off to do 15 or 30 and then go to bed.


Monday, January 23, 2006

I wish I could be this self-absorbed

"Kris Benson, traded today from the NY Mets to Baltimore Orioles, and Anna Benson, his loving wife will hold a press conference, tonight, Saturday January 21, 2006 at 8 PM at [location]. Ms. Benson, who was informed about the trade today while on the set shooting for the April Cover of FHM, along with her husband will respond to the many questions concerning the trade."

apparently there's an amazing press release "they" released. amazing, meaning something even more self-indulgent and funnier than this.


Another sign of age

So we went to see Giant Drag at the Troubadour Sunday night. They're amazing. If you're at all twisted in the head or had any bad relationship breakups or dysfunctional boyfriends/girlfriends then you might want to check them out. One caution though, if you don't think you could take a band that has a song called "Y.F.L.M.D." (You fuck like my dad) then perhaps you might not want to check them out. They are quite awesome though, a duo of just Annie Hardy on guitar and Micah on drums, keys and other. Though they have a similar instrumentation to the White Stripes they're way different (and to me, not quite as good, but that's not derogatory to Giant Drag). So if you wanna be on the forefront of what's new, check 'em out.

Now onto the quickie story. When we left the show at like 11:45 we were handed stuff from the street teams standing outside the doors. Usually it's a lot of crap--stickers, CDs, fliers for upcoming gigs, crapola. But this time there was something else, an invitation to the Giant Drag afterparty that night. After examining it, this thing was the real deal. Dave, Matt and I kicked it around briefly. But Matt was out, because he had to be up at 6:20 a.m. Dave asked whether I was interested in going after we dropped Matt off. Unfortunately, I had to drop the bomb ...

"dude, we're gonna be the oldest people there." I'm 30, Dave is 31 and Giant Drag is definitely not, and the member of their street team looked even younger. So we headed home that Sunday night.

It's still a good album, though.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

A genuine good reason for religion--written 1.26

Though I was baptized Catholic as a baby and "born again" at an Evangelical Christian summer camp after sixth grade, I've been a committed atheist since my sophomore year of college. Even in high school I was strongly drifting away from religion and the notion of God. I found the testable certainties and theories of science more appealing and as I studied history was very much disgusted at the role religion played in war and conflict. I once told a student that a belief in God was simply a way to bury a human fear of death.

In college once I started studying philosophy it became really clear to me that while God was the Answer from some people, the notion of a higher power was not for me. My "faith" in science and the near infinite bounds of humanity's potential was enough for me to sustain my optimistic sense of the future. And nothing has happened in the subsequent years to change my mind. Well, that is until recently.

One of our students at L.A. Youth recently passed away. She was just 17 years old. It was heart-breaking to learn of this. While she was involved she was one of our most prolific participants--she wrote, shot pix, reviewed music. Everything. Unfortunately in the past like 10 months we started to lose touch with her. She had some shit going on in her life, so she stopped writing and coming to our meetings. But, we did hear from her from time to time on e-mail or with a phone call, and in our last communique (a few months ago) it sounded like she was doing OK.

Then we got the call that she had died. Her mother and sister called (on a Tuesday) to share the bad news. They knew how much she had been involved and how close she became with us. The call while we were on deadline for our January issue, so I got knocked over momentarily, but then comparmentalized the information. I didn't do this, of course, to be callous, but I knew that at the moment I didn't have the time or energy to grieve. The wake was scheduled for Saturday.

On my way to the wake her death started to hit me. The traffic on I-10 east was practically a standstill. And as I trailed behind the flashes of red brake lights, it sort of hypnotized me and I couldn't help but think of the fact I was headed to a wake for someone who was just 17. An amazing, beautiful girl who cast a spell over everyone who I'd ever seen her interact with.

When I got to the funeral home and saw the dozens upon dozens of grieving friends and family, it finally connected with me. Her death seemed an affront to any sense of cosmic justice. How could someone so loved, so cared for, so beautiful in the collage of smiling pictures be gone? We walked into the small chapel and saw a room with occupied pews with some friends and relatives stone-faced (almost as if in denial that such an amazing light was prematurley extinguished) while others were crying, trembling, some almost uncontrollably. I couldn't believe it.

After a few minutes I noticed that it was open casket. Suddenly, I was 17 again at my dad's uncle's funeral. Back then I was so NOT gonna view the body in the casket. The thought just freaked me out. That was just not my idea of how to grieve. Fortunately, I was allowed to personalize my grief. This time though, I felt like I had to approach to say a sufficient good-bye. As I got closer I found my steps getting a little more deliberate and smaller. I wasn't freaking or anything, but I was a little uncomfortable. When I got about a foot away, I was (fortunately) blocked from getting any closer by a copule of her friends who were really devastated by this. I could see her, though, lying there with a perfect stillness and a look of serenity unlike any I've seen before on anyone--except perhaps a buddhist nun that I met. I said a small good-bye in my head (and also my heart). And that was that.

Over the couple hours we saw probably close to 100 teens, who she knew from gigs at a local all ages club, as well as other friends of the family. When I saw so many people who clearly loved her and who were so clearly wrecked by it, I was angry, hurt, sad. How could someone who touched so many people in such a positive way be gone? It once again affirmed my atheism--no way that the great benevolent deity would take someone whose life was lived so ultimately unfulfilled.

As we stood outside the funeral home in the brisk air, I felt something different though. That image of her lying peacefully, perhaps with a peace she never knew in life, made me think that it wouldn't be fair for her NOT to be going somewhere "else." It just seemed so useless for her to finally find a sense of peace and not be able to experience it. Suddenly, I had an almost epiphany-like thought: perhaps the comfort of believing a loved one had blinked out of existence did have an important place in people's lives? Part of me for an instant, honestly, wanted it to be that way.

I've struggled with this over the past few days. However, I haven't swung away from my atheism. Instead I've remembered something I heard (on Star Trek: The Next Generation): "Death is the state in which we exist only in the memory of others. So it is not an end ..." (or words to that effect.) That idea has brought me comfort, because now she does live in our memories and there it will always be peaceful and filled with amazing music.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My favorite fortune tellers

I've been really lucky since moving to Los Angeles to meet some amazing people and land a job (working with students at a non-profit, teen newspaper) that I find rewarding on the big levels and very enjoyable on a day-to-day basis. One of the really cool things is staying in touch with students when they head off to college and sharing from afar their new lives and discoveries. I've been especially fortunate to watch two students at Stanford as they've gone from former students to something more akin to friends. This year G and G burned me a couple mix CDs for my birthday/xmas. On one of the CDs is the amazing Neil Young song "Old Man." I was impressed, though ultimately not that surprised, that they would include such amazing music on their lists. I also of course assumed that they weren't making any statement about their old editor.

However, last week, when a convergence of factors (deadline, late stories and being short staffed in the office) forced me to work a 60-hour week I realized that their gift was too prescient. I've been more tired in the last couple days than I can honestly remember. I have literally struggled to stay awake at work, even after getting like 7.5 hours of sleep, which usually is more than enough. Hot damn, I'm getting fucking old. That's also what's kept me from updating in the past week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More evidence of a television golden age ... 24

Monika to me

i am shocked they killed michelle! we were all floored by that. palmer made sense, though it was bad, but top it off with michelle! right after she and tony finally had a year without any near death ctu experiences... that was just cruel. but i said out loud that something would happen as soon as they said goodbye and tony said, "don't do this." and now poor tony has to soldier on and save the day without michelle to keep him going. i guess they knew they couldn't kill tony (otherwise their fans, including me and probably you, would kill the writers) so they had to hit us with michelle but still...ouch. i'm sad. the rest of the whole thing was fairly unremarkable to me -- like i can't remember any particularly exciting moment (except when bill talked to chloe after she'd been arrested and they uncuffed her and she took the cellphone and just went, "hi,"-- that was funny) and i really couldn't follow jack's logic in going into the place where palmer was shot. that seemed stupid. i kind of like the president's wife being crazy, but i'm not really invested in it yet. i think part of the reason it is so boring is that the actual physical presence of people we like at ctu is at zero. bill, audrey, edgar, curtis -- we like some of these people but overall they are not very compelling without someone like tony, or even chloe, in the office. chloe is pretty great (why she was with that sleazy possibly evil dude from ctu, who knows). and bill and curtis were certainly quick to doubt jack and be all, "Ok. let's arrest him. he's bad now." at least audrey fixed her hair. and jack is stuck dealing with yet another lame teenager getting in the way of things. what was up with his vaguely trashy girlfriend? poor jack. at least he is now properly groomed, unlike the vagrant look he sported in the prequel. whatever, even if it wasn't great, it was 24, and i'll keep watching even if it is bad. the airport hold-up looks like it holds some promise. although i'm getting tired of all this hostage stuff -- it seems like someone takes someone else hostage every 10 minutes in 24 world, doesn't it?

Me to Monika

I wasn't that surprised that they killed michelle actually. i think it was part of the producers' intentions to "start over" this year. they didn't want us to expect all the same people to come to the rescue this year. also, i noticed that reiko aylesworth was listed as a "guest star" this year while carlos bernard was listed as "starring." i was very sad that palmer was offed. i mean it made sense, like you said, but i was really sad. i wanted david palmer to be MY president, dammit. and i didn't want to see michelle die (esp. after watching the deleted scene in the DVDs when she and tony and jack say goodbye to each other), btw, but i saw why they did it. but yeah, the death of tony would have caused a revolt.

i dug the episodes actually. i like that the bad guys were largely kept pretty much on the d.l. we don't know who they are really or what they want exactly. i think they're Russian, what do you think? and i am glad curtis appears as though he's going to be a major character and i like seeing edgar back and taking charge. and after watching the DVDs i grew to like bill buchanon. audrey still drives me nuts, and her too open shirt is so ridiculously inappropriate and distracting (yay FOX!). btw, nice to see John Beard getting more work. But you're right CTU played a pretty small part in this episode which did "feel" unusual. also, i thought bill was justified in doubting jack. bill and jack never had the closeness given that jack never worked with/for bill, except for last season. and the evidence was pretty convincing to me. i mean, palmer and tony and michelle and jack and chloe had a connection regarding a really fucked up situation. i was a bit surprised that curtis didn't raise more of an objection, but he didn't also seem like hardcore intent on slamming jack or anything and the coming attration looked as though he was ready to partner up with jack again quickly. the hostage stuff is kinda lame, esp. b/c the kid, but the airport setting could be good.

i agree with you that the presence of another accidental teen in distress really annoyed me. this could REALLY bring things down. but i like that it seems as though this season will follow last season in that there is going to be just the one major plot--no re-election and terrorism competing for viewers' attention. logan's wife's mental instability is at this point for me kind of a wild card. last year with driscoll's daughter was too much, but this year it seems wrapped up into the plot.

And Walt being a bad guy was pretty obvious, given how he plotted to kill Jack last year. and he of course satisfies the "bad guy on the inside" quotient. and it's pretty likely someone else will also join that role, eh? I am also thinking that chloe's affair could be that guy. but it seems like we've established a large pool of good guys--buchanon, audrey, curtis, edgar, chloe (who is like my new fave TV character ever). they need to make action figures of Chloe and Tony along with Jack Bauer. Btw, last i checked that Bauer figure was still like $100 and still just that imported figure from Japan.

and i agree with you about jack and his WT girlfriend, what's up with that? and how much reference is there going to be to the prequel? and jack being in chicago and jack obviously being involved with something espionage-esque on his "hiatus" from real life.

nevertheless, i am VERY excited to have 24 back on. watching season 4 was so amazing over the break, so going right into 5 is perfect. lost and 24 are kicked in and then alias comes back in march. i'm excited.

btw, saw kiefer on charlie rose a few nights ago and he was plugging his record label--ironworks records. check it out online. rocco deluca actually sounded pretty good and i might go check him out soon. going to see giant drag at the troubadour on the 22nd and KT Tunstall at the Troubadour on Feb. 2. not sure whether i told you that.

Monika to me

yes audrey with her outfits! ridiculous! we commented on that last night, but i forgot until you mentioned that.

Me to Monika

btw, any speculation as to how kim gets re-introduced this year? and what was up with jack getting from mojave to ontario in like 50 minutes yesterday during rush hour? hullo? he should still be on the road right now, right?

Monika to me

hey mike,

so i thought these two were significantly stronger than yesterday. that airport scene was tense! i was like curtis, listen to jack, he keeps saying flank two for no reason at all. that lord of the rings guy did something right, but i suspect he will continue to be a pain in the future. i felt bad for bill buchanan. i even started to feel bad for the annoying teenager. mostly, i wanted to throw things at pres logan.
anyway, i think next week will be good except for the lame confrontation between jack/audrey/jack's trashy girlfriend. i suspect kim will be reintroduced when she sees jack's face on the news or something, or if someone from ctu calls her. then she'll come in and interrupt some sort of important planning meeting by yelling at jack for not telling her he was alive. i was trying to think of past villains who could now be involved in this season, and i couldn't come up with anyone except skinny terrorist chick from last season/other seasons.

Me to Monika

hey monika,

great eps tonight. another thing kiefer mentioned on charlie rose was how the producers knew this year that FOX would launch with four eps in two nights (like last year, but they didn't know that last year). so the producers wanted to do the first four eps as a mini-series almost within the season this year and it definitely worked. the exhale after the tension build-up for these four episodes was HUGE. "flank 2" clearly meant something, but they had me going as to whether jack/curtis/bill/CTU would figure things out. also, even if they did figure it out, there'd be no guarantee that the CTU agents would save everybody as they appeared to. given that this is 24, some of those hostages or some of the agents could very well have died.

and sean astin/samwise/RUDY is going to be a thorn all season, but he seems like he's well-intended. i have a weird vibe about him though. not sure why, like maybe he's the other mole. i am sure i'm wrong, but setting up Spenser as the mole seems too obvious. i mean, Bill, Chloe, Edgar and Audrey are beyond reproach, but it's CTU so someone has to be a mole, and who else is working in that office this year? spenser and lynn (btw, couldn't astin's character get a real guy's name?)

great prediction on the kim re-emergence. i thnk your explanation sounds right on.

btw, i felt like the preview was soooo much that it had to go beyond just next week's episode, otherwise we'd seen almost all of it. good to see mike novick and jack finally meeting in person. weird to see how bad walt cummings has become so quickly. no "carlos bernard" in the credits tonight, btw. i miss tony. there was an interview with him in the los angeles times recently. i'll send it to ya.

p.s. i'm gonna post these e-mails on my blog.

Monika to me

i don't know if spenser is the mole either -- it does seem too obvious. but it might explain why he's trying to get close to chloe, because she's the computer expert. and while nothing ever distracts chloe from work, it would be a killer to have her downfall come in revealing something to spenser accidentally and then allowing him to go set off nuclear bombs or do something equally terrible. i don't think she would do that, though. i feel like her allegiance is pretty much just to jack (and partially edgar) and she wouldn't let this rico suave guy mess her up. but who knows?
what do you think is going on with palmer and the hidden stuff in his manuscript? and what's up with his "close" relationship with the psycho first lady?

Love comes from small surprises--retroactive posting

As a music fan working in non-profit teen journalism and also living in Los Angeles, I love CHEAP music. And I love rare music. And I love getting music ahead of time. So I LOVED the offer tied to the release of Jenny Lewis's debut solo CD, Rabbit Fur Coat. I'd get the CD mailed to me two weeks before the official release date, at a discount, avoid the retail middlmean AND get a limited edition 7-inch vinyl single (which incidentally I cannot play).

So it came today and it's a beautiful CD, btw. Review coming soon. But also included in the package was a signed note "Thanks, Mike! [heart] J[scribble that looks like "enny"] (I also have autographed liner notes to Jem's debut CD and Rachael Yamagata's EP), but this is the only one personalized. I also had no idea this was coming in the package, so yay!

As noted in this blog, I think Rilo Kiley is the best band of the past decade and seeing Rilo Kiley close its headlining tour last summer with a special appearance by Deborah Gibson doing Lost in Your Eyes was the BEST. CONCERT. MOMENT. EVER. So getting this little trinket was just about the coolest thing I could have ever wanted.

*dancing in my own head*

Monday, January 16, 2006

Re-discovery--retroactive posting

Last week I worked my first 60-hour week in years and it hurt. Like it almost literally hurt. It got so crazy that while I was exhausted at 4:30 p.m. most days, I was wide awake each night at 1 a.m. because I was sooooo past tired. Yikes!

Well, Sunday I ditched exercise to sleep in and it was great. Then Monday I went on a short hike, about 4 or 5 miles. It was great. We went up to Malibu and hiked to Escondido Falls, highly recommend. Dave and I were finished with the hike by noonish and then had a quickie lunch at Finn McCool's in Santa Monica (try the clam and potator chowder--TDF).

Got home and decided to chill and instead went out, way out. Bottom line ... I love napping! I woke up after about an hour and 15 minutes of perfectly temperature-controlled unconsciousness to feel as if every cell in my body had been replaced.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

The silence is deafening

If the swing voter is a moderate on most issues, and is sooo important to elections, how has George W. Bush and his extremely conservative politics gained such traction nationwide and why has the Republican Party gained so much power by going further right than ever?

That's what I want to know.

Right now it actually appears that Samuel Alito is going to become the next Supreme Court Justice in this country. A man who seems to me most definitely does NOT fit in the mainstream. See this from the New York Times:

EVIDENCE OF EXTREMISM Judge Alito's extraordinary praise of Judge Bork is unsettling, given that Judge Bork's radical legal views included rejecting the Supreme Court's entire line of privacy cases, even its 1965 ruling striking down a state law banning sales of contraceptives.
--So, um, yeah. Siding with a guy who would thought it was OK to forbid sales of contraceptives, very mainstream (in the Vatican, i guess).

OPPOSITION TO ROE V. WADE In 1985, Judge Alito made it clear that he believed the Constitution does not protect abortion rights. He had many chances this week to say he had changed his mind, but he refused. When offered the chance to say that Roe is a "super-precedent," entitled to special deference because it has been upheld so often, he refused that, too. As Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, noted in particularly pointed questioning, since Judge Alito was willing to say that other doctrines, like one person one vote, are settled law, his unwillingness to say the same about Roe strongly suggests that he still believes what he believed in 1985.
--Support for more reproductive freedom outweighs greater restrictions virtually every time, according to polls conducted by every organization. For example: 53 percent of Americans consider themselves pro-choice according to a CNN/USAToda/Gallup poll from this past week. 42 percent consider themselves pro-life.

SUPPORT FOR AN IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY Judge Alito has backed a controversial theory known as the "unitary executive," and argued that the attorney general should be immune from lawsuits when he installs illegal wiretaps. Judge Alito backed away from one of his most extreme statements in this area - his assertion, in a 1985 job application, that he believed "very strongly" in "the supremacy of the elected branches of government." But he left a disturbing impression that as a justice, he would undermine the Supreme Court's critical role in putting a check on presidential excesses.
--Sen. John McCain, perhaps the most respected Senator nationally because of his genuine independent streak, has built his reputation in the last few years on challenging unquestioned executive authority.

INSENSITIVITY TO ORDINARY AMERICANS' RIGHTS Time and again, as a lawyer and a judge, the nominee has taken the side of big corporations against the "little guy," supported employers against employees, and routinely rejected the claims of women, racial minorities and the disabled. The hearing shed new light on his especially troubling dissent from a ruling by two Reagan-appointed judges, who said that workers at a coal-processing site were covered by Mine Safety and Health Act protections.
--Let's see here, more right-wing than two Reagan appointees. That's more conservative than Alex P. Keaton, who would have been on the conservative side in 1750, according to his dad.

DOUBTS ABOUT THE NOMINEE'S HONESTY Judge Alito's explanation of his involvement with Concerned Alumni of Princeton is hard to believe. In a 1985 job application, he proudly pointed to his membership in the organization. Now he says he remembers nothing of it - except why he joined, which he insists had nothing to do with the group's core concerns. His explanation for why he broke his promise to Congress to recuse himself in any case involving Vanguard companies is also unpersuasive. As for his repeated claims that his past statements on subjects like abortion and Judge Bork never represented his personal views or were intended to impress prospective employers - all that did was make us wonder why we should give any credence to what he says now.
--In Kindergarten, before we form political views, they teach everyone to be fucking honest. So this disingenuousness is clearly outside the mainstream.

[MORE FROM THE NYTIMES] The debate over Judge Alito is generally presented as one between Republicans and Democrats. But his testimony should trouble moderate Republicans, especially those who favor abortion rights or are concerned about presidential excesses. The hearings may be short on fireworks, but they have produced, through Judge Alito's words, an array of reasons to be concerned about this nomination.

[BACK TO ME] Though I am an admitted bleeding heart liberal, who often finds the "mainstream" Democratic Party platform tooo right, I value the more moderate point of view. For it's often in the heads and hearts and wills of the moderate that our country has done the thrived and been most uniting of disparate forces. Bill Clinton's stewardship of the economy, which to be fair had some of its roots in George H.W. Bush's presidency. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger's staunch defense of California's coastline in the face of Republican-led federal pressure to relax environmental standards for economic gain.

Thus it pains me to see so many reasonable and intelligent Republicans on the sidelines during the recent Samuel Alito confirmation hearings, and to be honest during the five years of the Bush II presidency.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I really liked it, although since it's been about 18 years since we've seen a new episode i guess any new episode would have been great. i kid, i kid. i really did like it. i forgot how much fun new eps are.

so here's what i liked ... the parallels between eko/his brother and charlie/his brother. very cool stuff. eko like many others is starting over on the island. he's now become a "priest," just like Locke became a biped, Charlie "kicked" (perhaps) his junkiness, Jack became a leader, Sun became an English speaker and a gardener and a nurse, Hurley became a stud (hello Libby!), Michael became a father, Jin became his father (the fisherman) [btw, the Jin-father connection through fishing just hit me now for the first time], Claire became a mom, Sayid became a torturer again (just as he seemingly had escaped that), Kate became a good person and gardner and stylist, and Sawter became a good guy (at least deep deep down on the inside, but still an ass on the outside). interestingly, Boone, who couldn't become anyone really was killed off, and shannon whose transformation would be very limited was also killed off. Granted, it's not like all those transformations are that big a deal.

Did you notice all the like flashes of people in the black smoke as the smoke seemed to "stare" at Eko? It was like silhouettes almost or the types of impressions you see when a dark room is lit very briefly by a camera flash. I couldn't make out who any of the people were though. so eko and locke have both had confrontations with the monster and done OK. in each case i think we're dealing with two peopel who approached it without fear. does charlie having survived count as anything? Also, did locke merely just see smoke? and oh yeah, were those flash images some kind of electromagnetic disturbance? just wondering ...

The ending montage had some typical cheesiness to some extent. it felt a little too long, as usual. but i did like the jin-sun-analucia moment. And the hurley thing was funny. it just should have been a little shorter. The very end with Charlie was OK. I liked that Charlie had that huge stash of smack. and with claire throwing him out (i guess i hadn't realized how much they had started playing House) better send him back to the white lotus, though, otherwise i'm gonna be PISSED. but you're right, any drama that hinges on him seems to be set up for a letdown.

as for the michael-walt computer stuff. i'm not sure what's going on. at first i had thought that michael had turned the monitor off before jack snuck a peek. but i think that's something that we'll see or learn about soon enough. i think that we're going to learn that this is something like a screensaver or sleep mode or something. nothing too big would be my guess.

i am hoping that next week is a sawyer episode, like as he joins in on the hunt for michael. but i think i'm reaching there. btw, this jack protecting kate stuff is getting really tired and pissing me off. why is jack such a fucking neanderthal about all this shit? it better have to do with his wife and the breakup, b/c if it doesn't i'm gonna puke.


As bad as being a Buffalo sports fan has been (wide right, immaculate deception, No Goal, a bankrupt hockey team, the shrewd strategizing coach who defines straightshooting as hiding who the starting quarterback will be when everyone already knows) it could be worse.

This is from the AP story of the New York "Hockey" Islanders firing another coach:

Fired Islanders coach Steve Stirling, who ran practice Wednesday morning, was hired as the 11th coach in Islanders history in June 2003 and became the eighth dismissed by Milbury in his 10 years as general manager.


Milbury has revamped the roster several times, changed coaches eight times and has never won a playoff series since he's been in charge. Yet his job has never been threatened by team owner Charles Wang.

Milbury even relieved himself of coaching duties twice.

When Stirling replaced Laviolette after the Islanders' second consecutive playoff appearance following seven years out of the postseason, Milbury figured this was the last coach he'd be allowed to hire.

That wasn't the case.

He took a chance on a guy who had never led an NHL team after Stirling came off a successful two-year stint as coach of the Islanders' AHL Bridgeport affiliate.

While Stirling lasted less than 1½ seasons, Laviolette moved on to Carolina and now has the Hurricanes in first place in the Southeast Division, just one point behind Ottawa for the best mark in the Eastern Conference. Laviolette will also be the U.S. coach at next month's Torino Olympics.


Another huge embarrassment for democracy?

This is from an Associated Press story relating what the President has said about critics of his handling the war in Iraq.

But he termed irresponsible the "partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil or because of Israel or because we misled the American people," as well as "defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right." With that description, Bush lumped the many Democrats who have accused him of twisting prewar intelligence with the few people, mostly outside the mainstream, who have raised the issues of oil and Israel.

Bush argued that irresponsible discussion harms the morale of troops overseas, emboldens the insurgents they are fighting and sets a bad example for Iraqis trying to establish a democratic government.

So thankfully it's up to the most partisan President in memory, who has shown an inhuman aversion to humbleness and reflection that a Hollywood hack scriptwriter wouldn't try to pass along as realistic to arbitrarily judge the "irresponsibility" of comments criticizing his handling of a war. Does he even understand the blackhole like density of the irony inherent in his argument? The complicit silencing of criticism in the face of authority is what we're in Iraq to fight agaist right? Because he has said it ain't oil, Israel or phantom weapons of mass destruction (unless they're under some other dinner table somewhere).

Mr. President in a true democracy not only do you defend those in your miniscule minority railing against the MAN, but you should equally defend the right of THE MAN to shout in a united voice against you. Defend that and then you're defending democracy.

This is a war in which more than 2,000 American soldiers have died, an untold number of Iraqis have died (because trying to ascertain that information might give the insurgents comfort), thousands still lack electricity, plumbing, adequate food and drinkable water or jobs or hope. Given the administrations disdain for attaching any significance to round numbers like 2,000, I suggest that the media start banner headlining evevy soldier's death.

I wasn't gonna write tonight, Mr. President, but thanks, I guess for sparking my first amendment neurons.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Two entries in one day (because football and politics are too different, i.e. I'm not Steve Largent, JC Watts or Jack Kemp or Lynn Swann)

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcast Network and former Republican Presidential candidate, on Israeli Prime Minister's suffering a major stroke: "He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'" Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, "The 700 Club."

"God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone,'" he said.

[From] According to The Associated Press, Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of people who criticized the comments: "What they're basically saying is, 'How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?'"

"This is what the word of God says," Watts told the AP. "This is nothing new to the Christian community."

I credit the Bush administration for immediately and unequivocally renouncing Robertson's statement. Free speech is a great thing, and I hope that I would always defend vigorously someone's right to say that which makes my blood boil. But with that freedom comes great responsibility, and a comment like Robertson's makes me think that he doesn't grasp that in the slightest. It's so sad that his version of Christianity promotes a vengeful God and puts no value on sympathy or sensitivity or grace.


Earlier this week, Today's Papers on flagged a "signing statement" President Bush submitted with the McCain anti-torture amendment seeming to assert that the administration was not ultimately bound by the law. TP suggested that the papers ask the White House where it stands on the amendment.

Well, the Boston Globe, at least, has done just that. The White House's answer: Sure we're bound by the torture ban—except when we decide we're not. Or as an (anonymous) administration spokesperson put it, ''Of course the president has the obligation to follow this law, [but] he also has the obligation to defend and protect the country as the commander in chief, and he will have to square those two responsibilities in each case." That did not make Sens. McCain, Warner, or Graham happy.

This is from the NYTimes a couple days ago:

For proof that criminalizing abortion doesn't reduce abortion rates and only endangers the lives of women, consider Latin America. In most of the region, abortions are a crime, but the abortion rate is far higher than in Western Europe or the United States.


In a region where there is little sex education and social taboos keep unmarried women from seeking contraception, criminalizing abortion has not made it rare, only dangerous. Rich women can go to private doctors. The rest rely on quacks or amateurs or do it themselves. Up to 5,000 women die each year from abortions in Latin America, and hundreds of thousands more are hospitalized.

Abortion is legal on demand in the region only in Cuba, and a few other countries permit it for extreme circumstances, mostly when the mother's life is at risk, the fetus will not live or the pregnancy is the result of rape. Even when pregnancies do qualify for legal abortions, women are often denied them because anti-abortion local medical officials and priests intervene, the requirements are unnecessarily stringent, or women do not want to incur the public shame of reporting rape.


this is me -- This will never happen in the United States right.

Thoughts on the Rose Bowl and the future imperfect of the Buffalo Bills

So Vince Young, UT-Austin QB, put on one of THE most amazing performances of any athlete ever in a team sport in the Rose Bowl. USC and any every college football fan in the universe knew that stopping Vince was the key to winning this game, but it didn't matter. He was awesome.

Basically, he was able to outduel Reggie Bush, the media-annointed USC player in the "it's a battle of this guy vs. that guy (neither of whom are ever on the field at the same time)" because as a QB Vince had the ball in his hand every play on offense, while Bush had to rely on play calling that allowed him to get the ball in positions where he could (football cliché alert) "make plays."

He was simply awesome. 467 yards of total offense. That's a video game like performance. And for those of you who voted on the over for Vince's rushing total (it was fifthfuckingtwo, HULLO?), congrats.

Of course after his amazing game and his amazing season and his team's national championship, Vince is now apparently leaning toward entering the draft. Vince if for some miracle you read this -- STAY IN SCHOOL.

You don't want to be a Saint or Titan. The Saints are in absolute disarray and who knows who's going to be your coach. The Titans ... Norm Chow = great. Jeff Fischer = very good. But Kris Brown = horrible running back. You can do better. And i cannot even name one of their wide receivers.

... Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have done a good thing and dismissed President and General Manager Tom Donahoe. Yay! His teams' record of 31-49 after five seasons, his horrible coaching hires, aloof attitude, culture of secrecy and my-way-or-the-highway-arrogance finally got him fired.

Unfortunately, the Bills did a bad thing, too. They kept Mike Mularkey as head coach. Let's pile on the bad news: Greatest Bills coach in history Marv Levy has been brought in as G.M. UGH? I love Marv, but he's 80. Admittedly, I hate old people, but I don't hate Marv, but what is going on? I know the owner Ralph Wilson wants a man he can trust, trust is love man, but Marv, who has been out of football for like 8 years? Here are some e-mails on that exchanged between my friend jon and i:

Jonathan H:
As for Marv, imagine how fucking bad that guy wants to win a Super Bowl.

you're right about marv, too bad it ain't gonna happen.

Jonathan H:
Ye of little faith. Come on. Don't you know?: When it's too cold for them,


OK, not sure what that has to do w anything - except that it is like 20 degrees today - but I like that Marv is back.

i love marv, but i do NOT like that he's back in this role. he's not plugged into the NFL that much anymore. he's not exactly a "fresh start." and how seriously will he be taken among GM circles.

and they still have mularkey so who gives a shit who they get. they have a coach who ain't that good on the sidelines and j.p. at QB. i still like JP's future honestly (even in light of my vince young wishes) but he's not in a good situation or with a good coach for him. mularkey's offense is a piece of shit. and since mularkey has to win to keep his job, he won't play losman meaning more mediocrity with holcomb, more flesh wasting by losman and tons of divided bitterness for the team.


go stallions/blizzard/wings/destroyers!

Jonathan H:
It's not like Marv has been dog-sitting in the Dominican for eight years. He's been calling games, and he's a smart dude. I don't think any other GMs would be disrespectful to him. It also doesn't matter that much - the NFL doesn't make as many trades as, say, baseball or hockey does. Interfacing w other GMs isn't that huge a percentage of an NFL GM's job.

I don't think that Marv is being brought in to be the prototypical GM, though. I think he's just supposed to be a stabilizing force. On paper, the organization has people who are good or adequate at their jobs/positions. Marv had a way, as coach, of making players/people who were good on paper ACTUALLY be good.

When Modrak suggests a personnel decision, Marv will ask him:
Will he fit in w player X?
Does he have the right (or any) character for this team?
Will Mularkey be able to coach him?

For whatever Marv doesn't know, he'd still know if someone were half-assing.

And when Mularkey decides to run Shelton or Shaud in third and goal - or any other of Mularkey's asinine in-game decisions - Marv will question him. His good personhood, or whatever, will help him to say some dicey things to Mularkey and yet keep the relationship working.

As for the QB situation, I don't want to see Holcomb starting, either. The team has lost a year at that position. Holding an 'open competition' in camp next year is the right thing to do. If Holcomb wins the job, then we get a new starter the following year. What a mess.

But who knows - Marv could tell Mularkey that if the team wins seven w Losman, he'll in a word for him w Ralph. I'd settle for seven wins w Losman. As long as Levy can win Mularkey's trust, the team will be in a good way.


it's weird how you and i have flipped on the bills. Coming into this past season, which ate my feces, you were more skeptical and i was drinking the Kool-Aid. Now i am bordering between EXTREME VITRIOL and apathy toward the bills.

Mularkey has lost the team to me. He doesn't get along with McGahee or seemingly Losman or Evans (all three questioned the team's playcalling this year). That's supposed to be the future. I am sure the team also really appreciated the HUGE tactical advantage we got by not naming our starting quarterback. Once a shitty coach loses his team, he won't get them back by dumping Eric Moulds.

And so if Marv isn't a traditional GM then what's the point? We don't want to become one of those organizations that has divided leadership. Yeah, it's good to separate business stuff from Football decisions, but there needs to be a clear hierarchy on football decisions. Granted I am an admitted agist, but two 80+ year-olds watching film and shit doesn't inspire tons of confidence. And not to be morbid, but how long
will Levy steer this ship? Is it any good to have a placeholder GM for a couple years. Will players want to get on board with an organization in a state of permanent flux. I feel like Wilson "settled" for Marv as GM, b/c Marv would go along with Wilson's decision to keep Mularkey. I think any other competent GM would never take the job b/c Mularkey eats ass, and the new GM would want to bring in his own coach, who doesn't suck/eat ass.

It pains me to say all this about Marv, b/c I love Marv. But the Bills are bigger than anyone individual and I care more about the Bills than Marv (in the professional sense, i obviously don't want Marv to have a coronary b/c he's putting in 90 hours a week). I just don't think Marv is a great fit. Sure he's not out-of-touch completely and there are fewer trades in football, but he said himself that he's got to get
more familiar with personnel. If he's going to have final football authority, which the News articles said he would, then he cannot solely rely on Tom Modrak, who, btw, has been very hit and miss. I wouldn't have minded him getting shitcanned in the least.

I feel like the Bills had really reached rock bottom and rather than jettison all the anchors who dragged them down they're trying to inflate them with hot air. Who fucking knows? It's all GINORMOUSLY disappointing to me.

Jonathan H:
Yeah, I dig. We have flipped. Makes for good back-and-forth.

Just for the record, in general I am not optimistic about next year, chiefly bc Mularkey is still here. I am trying to find the good points, of which there aren't many.

You're right about Modrak, too. He is no John Butler.

And the whole thing is pathetic in the sense of why Marv is here at all -- not that he's incapable, but obviously, he's pretty old and there are people who are more dialed into the league:
It's like Ralph broke up w his girlfriend and he's lonely and afraid and so he does what men do when they are being pathetic - he reached out to an ex bc it would be easy and safe and familiar. He and this organization have been burned that badly.


the ex-girlfriend metaphor is purrfect.

..... So my hope now is that Vince Young stays in school for his senior year and then the Bills go down in major infamy and score the perfecto 0-16 next year, thus guaranteeing the Bills the first pick in the draft in April 2007. Two things at that point. If we're 0-16, we know that J.P. ain't the guy, which I would be sad to see, but if you can get a better Michael Vick (way more accurate, basically as fast, much stronger, less arm strength, but strong enough), you get him.

Here's Jon's take on Vince:

As yr friend, I'm going to advise you to get off the Vince Young bandwagon before it crashes into a wall of preseason-caliber defense personnel who are going to expose him as Kordell Stewart part II. ..Eh, maybe I'm just being contrarian, now that I keep thinking about it.

So who knows what's going on in sports with me anymore.

Final Rose Bowl thoughts: For the record, I'm acknowledging my incorrect prediction. I had said USC 45 Texas 31. And thanks sincerely to USC and Texas for a game that honestly lived up to the game-of-the-century type hype.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

06 will not be this quiet

In the book IT, Stephen King took a shot at the cliché "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Basically, he wrote "fuck that. the most they change, the more they really fucking change." Well, it's good that George W. Bush doesn't read Stephen King.

This was from on Jan 5.

The Washginton Post goes inside with President Bush bypassing the Senate and making a raft of recess appointments last night. Among the fine new hires: Julie Myers who will become head of the immigration bureau, despite complaints across the political spectrum that she's unqualified. Another hire will head a preparedness office at the Department of Homeland Security after making a name for herself, as the Post puts it, "demanding that information about racial disparities in police treatment of blacks in traffic cases be deleted from a news release." And a third will head the State Department's office to coordinate emergency relief. She has no experience in emergency management or relief, but, don't fret, she did serve as a state chair of Bush's 2000 campaign.
(Sometimes it's Thank Goodness for other blogs, otherwise I'd have no content.)

Maureen Dowd's column that ran Thursday is yet another sign that there might not be a God, because if there were we'd already be smack dab in the middle of the apocalypse.

"The Post reported that W. had taken advantage of an innovation started years ago by [Supreme Court nominee] Samuel Alito Jr. to shore up executive privilege. As a young Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, Mr. Alito created a strategy that has the president declare what laws mean when he signs them. Mr. Alito wanted the courts to focus as much on the president's interpretation of a law as on what he called 'legislative intent.'

W. has issued at least 108 such statements, The Post said, rejecting 'provisions in bills that the White House regarded as interfering with its powers in national security, intelligence policy and law enforcement.'

And since the imperial presidency is run by the vice president, W. has a lot of free time to do the things he likes to do. Confined with his wife and mother-in-law at the Crawford ranch, he spent his Christmas vacation mountain-biking and clearing brush.

He left the ranch for a brief visit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he kidded in a way that again showed his jarring lack of empathy with the amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan: 'As you can possibly see, I have an injury myself -- not here at the hospital, but in combat with a cedar. I eventually won. The cedar gave me a little scratch. As a matter of fact, the colonel asked if I needed first aid when she first saw me. I was able to avoid any major surgical operations here, but thanks for your compassion, colonel.'

[there are no words in English to express my dismay. i guess it's good that my outrage is still coursing strongly through my veins]

W. also used the occasion to defend the Nixonian eavesdropping program that even made John Ashcroft and his deputy, James Comey, skittish. As The Times reported, Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales had to make an emergency trip to see the reluctant Mr. Ashcroft in the hospital in March 2004 to get the program recertified because Mr. Comey had balked.

You know you're in trouble when John Ashcroft is worried about overreaching."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

So today is just a few quickies ...

First off the L.A. Times really let me down today. The paper was awesome enough to publish a story about how the marching bands are dealing with the rainy weather this Rose Bowl season, but then had a variation on the worst cliché in newswriting: "rain failed to dampen spirits." (disclosure: I've used it, too. it was one of my first stories at the Albany Times Union)

Secondly, I want it on the record that this is my primary New Year's Resolution: to read four Shakespeare plays (King Lear, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream and perhaps MacBeth again), this goes along with my standard thing of learning to do more cooking (this year I make the family sauce), reading more, and exercising more.

Next thing for the record: USC 45 Texas 31. Sorry, Andrew, but go Pac-10!

Looking back on 2005: the four must get albums: Bright Eyes "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning," The White Stripes "Get Behind Me Satan," Gemma Hayes "The Roads Don't Love You," and The Magic Numbers "The Magic Numbers."

As I told one of my kids this year who was seeking advice on how to live her life at 13: "listen to good music every day."

Happy 2006!