Friday, February 27, 2009

Would You Jump Off A Cliff If He Did?

Dear LeBron,

I know you spent a lot of time with Kobe over the summer. And I know you think he is soooo cool. But this is really a new low in emulation. You had ZERO ASSISTS last night against the Houston Rockets. I can excuse the Kobe-esque 33% shooting, the Black Mamba-ish one-on-five with everyone standing around watching you, even the post-dunk scowl. But for Mr. I'm Gonna Average A Triple Double For My Career? This was inexcusable. Even Ben "I Broke My Leg and Didn't Know It" Wallace had more assists and rebounds than you in half the time.

Keep this up and you'll never escape the curse of being the next Kobe Bryant. Except that Shaq won't be coming to give you a title.


Charlie T. Hustle Jr.

P.S. One rebound was pretty pathetic too. Correction, Really pathetic.

That's What I Was Thinking- RE: TeeMak

Both Charlie T and I are regular readers of ESPN's Bill Simmons. "Regular readers" might undersell it. We IM his best stuff, slam his worst, email him and never hear back because he's too bigtime. I'm not gonna oversell it either, but we're regulars.

Simmons, in his most recent article (which is a really interesting and surprisingly well-researched look at NBA finance), captured the essence of someone we at The Black Converse have a mutual unappreciation for: Tracy McGrady.

And by the way, nobody loves basketball more than me. I mean, NOBODY. But when an NBA player with two years remaining on his contract for a total of $44 million shows up for the season out of shape, complains most of the year, lets down his teammates and fans again and again, lands in some trade rumors and decides, "Instead of getting traded to a team I don't like, I'm going to announce that I'm getting microfracture surgery four days before the trade deadline and kill any potential trade, and even better, I'll be healed by next spring, just in time to showcase myself for another contract," and successfully pulls this off -- with no repercussions from anybody -- then yes, the system is broken and needs to be fixed. Because that was disgusting. Tracy McGrady, you are officially indefensible for the rest of eternity. Even your cousin Vince wouldn't have done that. And that's saying something.
For the stat-mongering Hollingers of the group, that was 3 sentences.

Mehr Bitte


These are words written by David Byrne in 1974.(more about it here They are now the words to my favorite song on the Dark Was The Night compilation.

As I went through to make a list of the songs that I liked the most and the songs I liked the least, all I really wanted to do was listen to that one. The Dirty Projectors and David Byrne collaborating on "Knotty Pine". The last half of the second paragraph in Byrne's journal log about the Dirty Projectors music summed it up for me. It is this strange take-off from pop music, completely strange and oddly familiar at the same time.

I am now heavily anticipating the ninth day of June. Because that is when the new Wilco album will most likely drop. And it is also when the new Dirty Projector's album "Bitte Orca". And you should too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Detroit Pissed-Ons

The Pistons, Pissed-Ons, Pissed-Offs...are strugggggggling. And it's ugly. Normally dominant- a veritable force in the East for years now- on what's considered one of the toughest homecourts, even DEE-Troit has become inhospitable. Jack White is pissed. Eminem will be, when he finally emerges from his Brian Wilson-esque sandbox. The facts:

– 8 straight losses (most consecutive since 94-95, when Don Chaney and rookie Grant Hill were running things, Rodman was getting traded, Allan Houston was slipping away, and the shotcallers were busy signing Christian Laettner, Loy Vaught, Cedric Ceballos, and the late Bison Dele)

– 6-18 in the last 24 games (I am too dense to navigate, but I'm sure there's somewhere I could find out how that compares to the rest of the league. My gut tells me that it's in the lower quarter. My gut also tells me to work out, but look where that's gotten me.)

–Detroit is a loss or two away from their total losses from last season, which included a near-trademark run into (and out of) the Eastern Conference Finals.

–A.I., normally a warrior, left in the first quarter, which can only mean either he's really hurt (my guess) or he's throwing in the towel (the average Piston fan's guess). Speaking of towel throwing...

–Sheed, normally a talker, talked and also toweled and left in the fourth quarter, which isn't abnormal. I don't fault him either, unlike some blogs who are calling for his head, pointing the finger like Sheed is the one who made all of this happen. I disagree. At least somebody is showing some fire and some impatience with the losing ways.

–Rip Hamilton finally stopped putting on the happy face(mask) with this team-building soundbite:
"I've said I'm happy to come off the bench as long as we're winning," Hamilton said. "But we're losing. We're now 4-12 with me coming the bench. Something's got to change."

Joe Dumars has some big decisions to make. For a few years, in spite of their Eastern Conference Finals streak, some folks have called for Blowing It Up And Starting Over. It might finally be time. You hear that, Mr. Dumars, that is the sound of inevitability.

I've got a court date coming this June

With all the negative snark and critiques and backhanded compliments of this blog, I have one pure unabashed joy to announce:


That is all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Drop Brooks & Dunn

A rare football post. But the news is both shocking and irresistible. I can't wait until we see the headline: Local Union Loses Hall, Oates.

Why would the Buccaneers drop BOTH of their kickers?

How do you say "Thrown Under The Bus" in German?

See Dirk talk (on

See Dirk talk candidly.

See Dirk candidly throw several folks under der Autobus.

Throw who?

Say hello to the bottom of the bus or at least the back of Dirk's German slap....

Shawn Bradley, such an easy (and easy to hit) target. Pick on someone your own size, Dirk. Oh. Wait.
But, sure it’s bitter sometimes when a teammate doesn’t invest the necessary time. The best example was Shawn Bradley. He would some times come to training camp and not had a ball in his hands for four months. But what can you do? There is no rule.
Coach Avery Johnson, gone but not forgotten.
... hoped that Coach would let (Jason Kidd) play (Kidd's) way, that we would play quicker and have more fun. But just the opposite happened. Avery pushed his style on Jason. It was tough throwing a guy like him into a system which he didn't really like.

Dwyane Wade, almost complimented
(In the Finals) Dwayne Wade just played out of his mind, hit threes and got every whistle.
Karl Malone, if Dirk doesn't win a championship he PRAYS to be put in the same sentence as you, Stockton, and Barkley.
What Karl Malone did back then - heading to L.A. after all those years in Utah - yeah it was a little questionable. But when you want the championship so bad, then you can’t rule out a move like that.
Whoever Decided To Make Basketball A Team Sport, who totally ruined it for Dirk. Wah wah wah. So, Dirk, if basketball were an individual sport, you think you'd be winning championships over whom? Kobe? Wade? LeBron? Sure, pal. Sure.
I know I’m not in an individual sport. If I were in track and field maybe I would have won something big by now.
The Fair Police, who apparently took some days off. Further wah. Your team, by the way, got a Hall of Famer for Devin Harris. For the record, Kidd has only been in the league one more year than KG.
But the other teams have gotten so strong, also through some unfair trades -- Pau Gasol to Los Angeles and Kevin Garnett to Boston.

Injury Report 2.25.09

Detroit Pistons (playoff hopes) are listed as day-to-day.

City of Houston (patience with teeMAK) is listed as out indefinitely.

Blake Griffin (Clippers stench) is listed as probable.

Portland Trailblazers (finishing strong) are listed as questionable.

Spike Woolridge (caring about Boozer playing again) is listed as inactive.

Paul Millsap (caring about Boozer playing again) is listed as day-to-day (personal reasons).

Anybody (cutting their cornrows off a la Carmelo, Iverson, Rip Hamilton) is listed as a gametime decision. (We hope that Delonte West is the next to follow suite)

And finally...
Gilbert Arenas is running again. We all know what that means..6 more weeks until a season ending injury.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Just 5 Easy Steps

Hi my name is Charlie T. and I like Andrew Bird. Hi Charlie T.

As I sit here trying to rank the songs on the Dark Was The Night compilation, I came across a track by Andrew Bird. As you all know, since I gave up on any more dates to the Merriweather Post Pavilion, I have been spend my free time with the author of the Noblest Beast thus far in 2009.

Bird is more mysterious of a creature than he should be, especially for Spike W. So folks, I am unveiling my foolproof 5 step plan to get Spike to give AB the time of day. And since verbal persuasion doesn't work I will have to leave that one off the list.

1. Make a mix CD with an Andrew Bird song or two hidden in there
I need to decide whether or not I want to include more than two AB songs. Probably not since I only get roughly 70 minutes on one disc and Spike's attention span is about 1/10th that. The songs will definitely include Fitz & Dizzyspells for the pop leanings and catchy hooks, not to mention the violin during the whistling solo. And I can't decide between Tenuosness or Oh No. They will both be a gametime decision.

2. Give the CD to Spike while having either Thai food or burritos
It never hurts to make sure the other party has a full stomach when persuading them. Thats how Jermaine O'Neal got Larry Legend to give him that ridiculous contract which the Heat are now saddled with. The difference is Spike's stomach won't be full of strip club hot wings and Andrew Bird is not highway robbery.

3. Talk of The Giant Of Illinois; could be referring to the current US president, Air Jordan, Tweedy & Co. or the Bird track on DWTN.
This is the step where I relentlessly mention Bird's collaboration with Wilco durning many of their live shows and how its not a coincidence that the consistently choose him. I will also put a Glenn Kotche song on the afore mentioned mixtapecd to get Spike excited about the reality of Mr. Kotche's solo/collaboration work.

4. Ask about the highlights of the mix CD
You always follow up. There has to be accountability. Not sure how this will make him listen but it will sure as heck make him accountable. Until he becomes calloused to saying "No, I haven't yet" a la Baron Davis to his personal trainer when she asks about his home workout routine.

5. Make references to Jon Brion, whom is named in the liner notes
Spike is a JB lifer. I am hoping this sweet spot, as the last resort, can be the gateway drug.

So this is my plan. I would love for Spike to just go to a show, which was my gateway drug. Now I am all over the Birdman like Gilbert Arenas is all over knee surgeries.


Charlie T.'s buddy (though, interesting, he's not in his Fave 5) Dwyane Wade put up 50 points last night in a loss to that other team from the Redneck Riviera (thank you, Vic Chesnutt).

The interesting thing isn't so much the exclusive club he joined– Players Who Dropped 50+ Points In A Game That Their Team Lost By 20+ Points (including members Dana Barros, George Gervin, and four-timer Wilt Chamberlain)– as it is the list of players who AREN'T on that list. Jordan, even in the lean Chicago years, put up 50 a bunch. But never in a lopsided loss. Even Allen Iverson, a scoring machine on several struggling teams, never did it. Vinsanity isn't. Dominique isn't.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Change Of Plans For The Weekend

Here is a friendly little reminder, for all our readers across America, to update your weekend schedules accordingly.


The Suns PR has informed us that Friday the 13th 3-D will not be shown as part of a post All-Star block party downtown out front of Stoudemire's Downtown. Plan accordingly.

Coincidentally 140 points in a single game will also not be seen the rest of the year.

New Orleans

The Chris Wilcox Welcoming Party featuring Master P at the House of Blues has been moved to Nokia Theater at Times Square.
Also, Master P is off the bill and Jay-Z will instead be performing.

An unpacking party at Chandler's has just been confirmed. It is scheduled to start around 5:30. Please wear closed toe shoes.

Park City

Skiing with the Celtic's Big 3 at the Canyons has been postponed indefinitely as part of the West Coast push for Paul Pierce's "Truth Strikes Again" charity. Apparently Garnett couldn't make it...some kind of doctor's appointment.

Recently added to the local calendar is an intimate party at Harry-O's. Details say "for Boozer and his agent only. Drinks are on the house"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Massive Nights In Giant Chillout (or Smokeout) Tents

It's no secret here on El Converso Negro that we've got a lot of love for The Hold Steady. Both Charlie T. and myself were baptized in cheap beer and poetic spittle at one of the band's numberless Boys & Girls In America tourstops. Guts, glory, truth, barre chords, bars, raised glasses, taped glasses, dead ends, deadbeats, backbeats, back alleys, alleycats, catechisms, other get the point.

So I have to admit a little shock when I heard that our boys were playing some european shows with...Counting Crows? (whose first two albums I'll defend to the death, whose next two had their moments, and whose later work seemed to focus on and amplify any and all weaknesses of the previous four.) But there's the common thread of guys who just love making music together and want to make each show a singular experience. Plus there are some common threads, influence-wise. Blah blah blah. I get it.

But then.

I just found out that Dave Matthews Band has The Hold Steady slated to open some east coast shows. To me, that's like Paul Milsap playing with grit and soul and fire and truth, only to have to give way to a soul-less stat-stuffer like Carlos Boozer.

Plus, The Hold Steady in a stadium? Maybe their E-Street roots have them primed and poised and groomed for the task. While I would never begrudge a hard-working, kick-A band like theirs success and I'm not saying they shouldn't do it, it just seems a little incongruent to me.

[Apologies are due Mr. Matthews who seems like a stand-up guy and has given homes to My Morning Jacket/Patty Griffin/David Gray/a ton of others and released In Rainbows and is a true friend to both Farm Aid and Neil Young's Bridge School. It's just the music that can grate sometimes. In full truth, I've seen Mr. Matthews + Band at least a half dozen times, two or three of those by choice. The best show was just him and a guitar.]

What would you say?

Trade-In-Cheek Chatter

The Mothership is reporting all kinds of trades. And by all kinds I mean any possible scenario to get you to click around on the website. But the question is, are any of them true? Can anybody confirm or deny the veracity?

Here are a couple that we are getting reports that are all but done according to sources.

POSTED Feb 19 at 11:05 MST

The Source reports that the Nets are going to send Jay-Z to the Wizards in exchange for Arenas. Reports say the Wizards are interested in bringing HOVA on to perform at half time the rest of the season in an attempt to sell tickets. It also works out for Nets co-owner Bruce Ratner who is looking for a personal chef. Hibachi has no real value on the court at this point so we have to assume the reports are true.

POSTED Feb 19 at 11:09 MST

A three-way trade is reported between the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Bobcats. In the trade the Bulls would land Bobcats GM Michael Jordan and Suns GM Steve Kerr, the Suns would receive Joe Johnson and Shawn Marion back somehow and the Bobcats would "just be happy to have anyone else as their GM".

The following reports are highly probable according to The Black Converse insiders.

POSTED Feb 19 at 10:54 MST

In an attempt to dispel the circulating rumors about his still mysterious trips to the Dominican Republic in 2001 with pal A-Rod, LeBron James will switch from Tic-Tacs to Mentos. He will also erase A-Rod's Cousin's number from his cell phone.

POSTED Feb 19 at 11:14 MST

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Carlos Boozer will trade the remaining season and the rest of next season to the Jazz in exchange for wearing suits and giving high-fives during games. The deal is contingent on Boozer being excused from attending any team practices and press conferences.

The following reports are long-shots according to TBC insiders.

POSTED Feb 19 at 10:44 MST

The Houston Rockets had been shopping teeMAK to Darfur in exchange for anything...anything. Trades have since broken down now that more light has been shed on TmaK's injury. Rockets owner Daryl Morey will now finish off that bottle of scotch and turn Nick Drake back on. Rockets PR declined our attempts to contact him only responding with "Mr. Morey requested that Sally, hold all his calls."

Trade Questions

First of all, the rumor mill and the "reliable sources" are growing tiresome. The facts, so far, about this Trade Season is that it's all small fries. It's smaller than the card game in Almost Famous when Stillwater's manager uses the Band Aids as a bet. These aren't power players. In fact, most of them are minor pieces. Role players, for some of these guys, is an overstatement. Role sitters is probably more accurate.

So some thoughts:

The Big Cactus to the Cavs
A) There's no way.
B) How great would it be if Shaq just kept traveling and reeling in the championships? At this point, I want him to create a big cushion that'll make it harder for Kobe to "prove himself." I know All-Star Weekend was supposed to eradicate those rivalry feelings. It didn't. Shaq still wants to win The Legacy Battle with Kobe-san.
C) Would this basically be admitting, within a week, that the last 3 big moves they made were failures? 1) Watch Shawn Marion drift off like one of the Oceanic 6 with no island and then get traded to Canada. 2) Fire Terry Porter while watching D'Antoni make the Knicks a story again. 3) Trade Shaq?

The Big Postage Stamp to ____
The only thing that makes this seem possible is New Jersey's dogged determination to clear room for that kid that Jay-Z likes. Mostly, I'm surprised by the teams that are supposedly showing interest- San Antonio and Portland? These are, in my mind, two of the teams that are doing the right stuff to create winning atmospheres.

Is Tyson Chandler happy?
That first practice is going to have Michael Scott Level Awkwardness. I think the players will be fine. But I bet management hates seeing Chandler's agent's number on the caller I.D.

The Buck Stops Richard Jefferson
Chris Broussard says Milwaukee wants to ditch Richard Jefferson. As if anything that organization is doing ever makes sense. I bet they still drunk dial Ray Allen.

Starbury is going nowhere.
That sentence couldn't be more correct on every level. If I were a New York beat writer, I would write a fiery indictment and title it The Cancerbury Tales.

The Gaslight Anthem

I gave blog/emusic faves The Gaslight Anthem my first listen this morning. I had to ask Charlie T:

Are The Gaslight Anthem the poor man's Hold Steady or the rich man's Goo Goo Dolls?

To which Charlie T replied:

In that scenario, if Jordan is Springsteen, the Gaslight Anthem are Harold Miner.

In 10 years, will copies of The '59 Sound be like Harold Miner jerseys? Signs of premature hype purchase? For the sake of Baby Springsteen, I hope not.

Monday, February 16, 2009

All-Star Bullets

What this isn't: Observations about Wes Unseld or Elvin Hayes
What this is: Observations about the All-Star Weekend festivites

Shaq is still fun
The pre-game dancing went on about 4 minutes longer than he actually played in the game but I didn't care.
Calling Craig Sager unprofessional for asking about the Suns' coaching status during the pre-game was an unheralded highlight.

Dwight Howard is fun
I got a little tired of all the Dunk Contest gimmicks, the phone booth, but his performance Sunday made me penitent.
He might have the best smile in the league and its nice to see him along with all the other players smiling too.

Kobe is still awkward
10 shots in the first quarter? Really? Who was gunning for the MVP out there besides you? Nobody.

Pink and Orange don't match
Thanks I don't have to ever look like an idiot while I figure it out.

The Dunk Contest lacks innovation
The 12 foot hoop was good, but couldn't you have done a more exciting dunk on it than that?
Another free throw line dunk? Really?
Was J.R. even trying?
Congratulations Nate for bringing a green ball...that was the pinnacle of innovation.

Joe Johnson not an All-Star
The most boring part of H-O-R-S-E.
22 minutes and ZERO points, including 0-3 from the 3 PT line.
You also managed 0 assists and 0 rebounds while committing 5 turnovers. Cool.

Durant is an All-Star
And he might have the coolest shoes in the league right now

Spike needs to give D-Wade a break
The bow-tie during the rookie game was great. The outfit during saturday night was fun. And the band-aid, well its a band-aid. What do you want on it, Snoopy? Little Mermaid?

LeBron will not be competing in the Dunk Contest
Do I need to explain this one?

The All-Star game hasn't figured out the music
Bring in one star hip-hopper too perform all the songs. Don't do video montages of Britney. Is this really that hard?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I (HEART) ALL STAR WEEKEND: Saturday Liveblogging

Well, normally we would cue that generic, dated music that the Bulls used in the 90s to intimidate their opponents in pre-game, but our 8-track player is mon the fritz.

So, with no further Bob McAdoo, our first liveblog. Feel the thrill.

Intro music montage by Britney Spears. How relevant. How fitting, to have such a musical legend "sing" while we see highlights of hoop legends like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Or is it artsy? Is TNT trying to warn us? To tell us to beware, that this is gonna be a trainwreck that may have once been hot? I don't know. But this song is the Inna Gadda Da Vida of pop tart songs. WILL IT EVER END?!??

(It did.)

Oh yay. Let's kick the night off with a bang with... Shooting Stars. Luckily I'm on DVR (Oh wait. So much for LIVEblogging. DVRblogging?), so this could take anywhere between 15 minutes and a sip of Pepsi.

Did they turn off the house sound or is no one cheering for our incredible Shooting Stars contestants? Come on. All-Star Weekend and Aron Aflalo doesn't get a standing O? Does Phoenix hate America? I thought we got past the MLK thing.

Wait. Maybe the sound was off so we wouldn't hear the crowd booing Laimbeer. Seriously.

Derek Fisher got a cheer. For the record, Lisa Leslie is taller than Michael Cooper. Maybe that's obvious to the average sports fan. I guess that's one reason to keep this competition around. It's like when you finally see movie stars on the red carpet and how they're dwarfed by anybody that even thinks about the 6-foot mark.

Tim Duncan got booed. What a good sport for even being there. Is there any way a primetime Larry Bird or Bernard King is caught dead doing this? Being the best PF ever gets you a pretty long leash. In other news, David Robinson is still smiling.

Fratello and Reggie try their hardest to care. Kudos, fellas. Kudos.

Poor Laimbeer has to put on a jersey and game shorts. This is like the Good Sport Festival. Really. They know this is the undercard to the undercard, and they're still putting on the good face. Ice cream cones for everybody.

Lisa Leslie and Michael Cooper are wearing pink shoes, but apparently Derek Fisher is pro-cancer. Jazz fans may have been right about his Team Playerness.

Dan Majerle kind of looks like the poor man's Lance Armstrong. If he's not married, he should check out Jillian Barberie, the poor man's Sheryl Crow.

Memo to the Spurs: Timmy is only clutch from the 3-point line in. Memo to Timmy: Use the glass; it's your thing.

Does Shooting Stars really need a first round? Can't we just have it be ONE round, winner wins?

Laimbeer really needs that Gatorade after shooting, what, 6 shots? Six electrolyte-taxing shots.

Thank you, Cheryl Miller, for putting this contest in the context of championships and Olympic gold medals. What? Not enough time to ask how it compared to seeing their first child born?

Do you think Reggie is a supportive brother, a competitive brother, or what? And if he's Supportive Brother, was he ok with the terrible cornrows? I would pay to have a ticker of Reggie's Thoughts while his sister interviews players.

Skills Challenge. I'm going with Derrick Rose.

And I was right. I like how little it looks like he cares. Please tell me Cheryl Miller will come and ask him how this compares to being drafted #1 and saving a busful of schoolchildren from careening off a cliff.

Who is this Asian girl singing about the 3-point contest? Was William Hung busy? Why does every song have to sound like Beyonce' turned it down?

3 Point Contest. I'm going with Rashard Lewis or Jason Kapono. I love Granger, but he needs somebody guarding him to make it worth his while.

Kenny to Reggie: "Remember when I beat you?" Love it. Kenny's championship rings are the ultimate trump card, but having a 3-Point Contest win over the great Reggie Miller has gotta be pretty fun too.

Kenny and Reggie are right about Lewis. Too much movement. Too much legs. That doesn't bode well for later rounds. If the contest were realistic, Hedo Turkoglu would shoot Rashard's last two racks and save his butt.

Poor Bibby. Like Donnie, he is out of his element.

What's worse? Wade's white blazer? Or the thing under his eye that SAYS HIS LAST NAME ON IT? South Beach fashion rules. And when it meets NBA fashion, it rules that much more.

Was this the worst 3-point contest ever? So anticlimatic. There was more suspense when Phoenix was bricking their halfcourt shots in the first competition. Having to defend his title next year is the only way Daequan Cook was participating in All-Star Weekend ever again. That or Mr. Congeniality. Feel free to veer off that one tone every once in awhile, DQ.

Honestly, Daequan Cook gets to say he's in a class with Larry Bird? The NBA needs to step in and a) make a hierarchy of years that the competition was actually good and b) force its stars to participate.

Oh no. I just caught up with DVR. Reality strikes back.

Kevin WHOdolf? He looks like a bad cross between Tommy Lee, Jesse Malin, and Little Steven, playing the songs that Kid Rock and Fred Durst wrote on some lost weekend in Primm, NV. (Sidenote: If I hear another crappy artist think they're clever by leaving the line hanging, "make you come" and then following up with a witty "alive" or "to your senses," I will carve out my cochlea with a spork. I'm serious enough that I'm keeping one shrinkwrapped in my glovebox just in case.) Is he even singing? I get the feeling this is hardcore lipsync, especially when the big moment harmony shows him with his mouth closed. "I wish I could be as cool as you." Who ISN'T he singing to?

Dear J.R., There are cameras on you and your ogling eyes. Just because their orange outfits remind you of Hooters, doesn't mean you should relapse into Post-Game Wings behavior.

At least Dwight Howard is dancing. Rudy Fernandez doesn't know what to do. I think he just asked Whodolf if he knows any merengue...

Another weird pre-event montage. Another stripper-turned-singer. Who knew the Spice Channel was a co-sponsor?

Update: It's the Pussycat Dolls. So the stripper-turned-siner thing wasn't even a joke. Please tell me I'll never have a daughter.

The judges. Tom Chambers has one of the Top 5 All Time In-Game Dunks. Dan Majerle cleans up nice. Kevin Johnson brings some political weight and then the two champs- Ceballos and Nance. I hope they fall somewhere in between Hard To Impress and Unreasonably Blown Away By Just About Anything.

J.R. Smith's shoes look like they're being blurred out. That was a pretty great dunk to kick it off. Chambers and KJ 8 it up. (Ba dum tssss)

Replacement Rudy is wearing the most obscure jersey ever. Behind the back. Off the backboard. Tomahawk. It shows some style. Kind of like Granger needs somebody in his grill to knock down threes, Rudy does better dunking in traffic. I like that about him. He dunks like a college player, with abandon and a little bit of animal instinct. Hard to showcase that when people are WAITING for you to dunk.

Next up, Nate Robinson will be pulling off his Knicks jersey to reveal the first pro basketball player with the last name Robinson. Thanks for the history lesson, everyone.

Nate Robinson skies. He's bringing it back home for Kenny Sky Walker.

The Defending Champ. Like it. Impressive, but saving some for the honeymoon.

Gasol and Fernandez struggle with a little backboard bounce. "This is the amateurism of Spain." Nice, Kenny. Gasol costs Fernandez a good score. Very cool dunk. I like the experimentation behind the basket.

Nate Robinson uses a teammate as a step-up. Weak. For the record, I did this in a game in 8th Grade. And I was a white kid with lead feet and no hops.

Dwight Howard is bringing out a second basket. 12 feet tall. Mixing. It. Up. And a phone booth? A flair for the dramatic. Love it.

How does Luis Scola get a front row seat? Isn't there some kind of hierarchy that would prevent this?

Nate Robinson & Kryptonite. Way to not be overshadowed by Mr. Props. And even stick it to him. That Dominique-esque dunk was the real deal too.

Chris Tucker is here? And the black guy from Scrubs? Well, now we know that All-Star Weekend is a big deal.

LeBron is putting his name on the list for next year's contest. Thunderthief. But it's about time. Kobe and Vince, you're on the clock.

Nate Robinson wins. Dwight's last dunk was underwhelming. Maybe he burned the best ones a little early. And Robinson won with a dunk I did in a game in 8th Grade. So that's nice.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Memo to Bristol: Naming

ESPN, I have a couple of ideas for you. Free of charge. This time.

So, I had a couple of ideas for spinoff channels, you know, like ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNClassic. That kind of thing.

How about:


For sports' greatest actors. All flopping, all the time. Great programming like Roundtable featuring former refs and Oscar winners discussing the classics, The Daily Flop hosted by Vlade Divac, Flop House (a reality show where famous floppers live in a house together for a month), and more. Occasionally, THESPN could show movies featuring actors, like Wilt in Conan The Barbarian, Kareem in Airplane, Mhuresan in My Giant, (What is it with centers? Are they better actors? More teachable? Able to lend a hand to the D.P.?) and Xavier McDaniel in Singles.

Also it only runs commercials features sports stars.



Like the fashion channel for jocks. Experts discuss current trends in sports hair on Mane Event, makeover shows abound like Extreme Jock Makeover (hosted by John Amaechi, Erin Andrews, and Isaac Mizrahi), NBA Draft Fashion Police, The Uniform Unit (a drama featuring the other Bacon brother, Master P, and Dikembe Mutombo trying to get to the bottom of historically bad NBA logos and uniforms), and more.

What Do Pope John Paul II, Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Hope Have In Common?

They were all talked into being a part of Globtrotter's lore. Just like I am trying to talk myself into the Heat's recent acquisition of Globetrotter alum Jamario Moon.

Last night's game-winning dunk by Marion makes this a little bittersweet. But the 6 blocks Jermaine had the other night are something to build on. Still, ugh...I feel like I'm trying to talk myself into either of the last two and a half Coldplay albums. I'm just glad the Heat haven't decided to suit up in Revolutionary War outfits. Is it just me or is Coldplay also wearing Han Solo's pants?

I know Riley likes a legitimate big man playing center. I do too. But Jermaine O'Neal? Why don't we hold out to get one with two working legs?

Dream Team-Up, Pt. NIN

Team Name: Jane's Nails
Team Members: the original lineup of Jane's Addiction and Trent Reznor.

OK, this obviously isn't part of the NBA team-up series. But what gives? Two of the 90's greatest "alternative" (nice how that term has aged and how mainstream radio somehow still thinks it applies) bands are getting together. At least in the studio. Could it be T-Rez is producing a bona fide Jane's reunion album (minus the fleas and jagged little pillsters of past attempts)? An indie-fied split EP? A Skinny Puppy tribute album? A terrible cover of some terrible 80s song for the next Transformers movie?

THIS mysterious photograph is some of the evidence.

While we're here, here's an open letter I wrote to one of my former favorite guitarists ever: Dave Navarro, written on the heels of learning that he was dating one of the girls from Rock of Love. It was sad, too much for me to handle. Bear with me. The letter's lengthy, but it comes from the heart.

Dear Dave,
First off, let's just establish that you are a samurai jedi cyborg mutant freak of a guitarist. Always have been. You pick up a guitar. You murder it. Maybe that helps explain your affection for coffins and black nail polish. The playing has evolved and it has always been interesting. Perhaps that's why I've been able to overcome my aversion to douchey nipple piercings and playing without a shirt. And guyliner and feather boas and over-the-top flambuoyance and Louis Vitton guitar straps and hussy girlfriends and Ibanezes and....

Wow. How did we even get this far?


I first heard the debut Jane's Addiction album in Idaho in, I think, '89. I must've listened to Jane Says, Pigs In Zen, I Would For You and your cover of Sympathy for the Devil a thousand times that summer. (Is it true that the audience on that album is pulled from a Los Lobos concert? I could swear I didn't hear a single "¡ANDALE!")

My cousin told me to graduate to Nothing's Shocking; it was better, way better, he said. So, in spite of album art that would make my sweet mother cry, I bought it.

And spent years wearing out the tape. Yeah, tape.

Ritual De Lo Habitual was no different. In fact, I liked it more. Loved it. I read an interview where you talked about your affinity for the textured guitar playing of Robert Smith. And I could hear what you meant as your playing evolved and grew up in songs like Three Days and Then She Did. It's a great, epic, complicated album that has guitar work to be proud of. Thrashing shredded moments and poignant quiet moments. And, of course, a good dose of derangement, neuroses, and guitar heroisms.

Jane's ended. It was inevitable with the success, its trappings, and Perry's general neo-freak insufferability. I just wondered where my favorite guitarist would go. And hoped for somewhere good.

Your first project was challenging, but proof that you weren't just a prettyboy hired hand riding King Perry's coattails. I bought DECONSTRUCTION, pored over it like a fanboy, dissected its neo-prog anti-pop complexities, embraced its artiness, ignored its self-indulgence. I even had TWO favorite songs on that record that I pestered my girlfriend into liking. To this day, I praise that album. And it was light years better than Perry's "pet" project.

Then, you joined up with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which didn't help the "shirt off" thing at all. At the time, I was a big fan. They hadn't totally succumbed to calculated summer singalongs, flat irons, and utter lameness yet (or I had not yet developed enough taste yet to know. I can't defend it. It was the 90's. I was a fan. Show me YOUR skeletons.). I can't believe I'm saying this, but, hey, I preferred the days of socks, scat singing, and Magic Johnson references. But I digress. This isn't about them. Thank goodness.

Despite what the Chili Peppers may think and what the press said, One Hot Minute is a good album. You pushed them to make their most unique album yet. And one that was, frankly, a bit out of BOTH of your comfort zones.

But that was a short-lived thing too. "Creative differences." You admitted that you've never felt "funky." Loud and clear, buddy. Loud and clear.

All along there was session work- Marilyn Manson, Alanis Morrisette, Michelle Branch, new Guns N Roses (ugh), and more.

And then?

It was ok that you were on an MTV reality show. My cousin and I, watching, talked ourselves into thoughts like, "Well, he IS really funny." and "It probably pisses Perry off. And that's never a bad thing." and "At least it's not Pamela Anderson." And when you decided to actually marry Ms. Sure Bet Electra, I quietly kept my Dennis Rodman/David Hasselhoff jokes to myself.

Then you guys divorced. I wasn't surprised. Who was? Were you? Come on, man. Really?

But I felt bad for you.
Divorce is hell. And it wasn't your first. I can only imagine how tough a public one is, even if you DID bring the public thing onto yourself.

And then?

Then you hosted a reality show to help INXS replace Michael Hutchence.

Go ahead. Read that sentence again. And try to find ONE good thing about it. One. Good. Thing.

And then?

Well, then you hosted another reality show to help Gilby Clarke (as if being in post-Izzy GNR has any cred), Jason "I Deeply Regret Leaving Metallica" Newstead, and Tommy "Hey, I've Also Known Carmen Biblically, and Torah-ly, and Quran-ly" Lee find a singer for their answer to "supergroup" Velvet Revolver.

So suddenly you were known,

not as the bad A guitar killer

who knew when to lose your mind and when to just let the song be the song

who could light a song on fire
who could torch a whole album

and its entire village

and any sister village.

No. You were known as
a reality show host.

Adding, insult to injury, you started a cover band with a bunch of celebrities. And not all A-List, either. It was like Super Diamond with famous people. I'm sure it's fun, a real hoot. But it's below you, man.


Yeah, your solo album (bought it) tanked. The Jane's reunion (burned it) didn't quite pan out. And the Panic Channel (passed, sorry) only helped reinforce the truth that- despite his new age L.A. douchiness- there's something about Perry.

But a reality show host and a cover band shredder? Really?

Still, i defend you.


I just want you to know that you still can play. And I wish you would.

But now you've gone and broken the camel's back by dating one of Brett Michaels' "Rock of Love" rejects.


You should never, ever, ever, never settle for Brett Michaels' sloppy seconds.

Please, I, and the history of rock n roll, beg of you:



Spike Woolridge

PS: Parker Fly? WTF?

Dirkn't We Almost Have It All

I've been a real Dirk Doubter this season. Sure, the numbers were fine. But I wasn't a believer. "The guy is Mailmanally un-clutch." "His stats aren't meaningful." "That mouthguard is disgusting." When he made the All-Star Team, my first thought was that it was a legacy pick rather than a merit pick.

So I watched Dallas/Boston last night and began to believe.

He was a scoring machine. Making circus shots. Hitting tough shots. All against one of the toughest, most notorious defenses in the league and a highly motivated, very physical reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Kevin Garnett.

But Dirk didn't back down. KG got in his face, tried to intimidate, did the (tired, oops did I say that out loud?) KG thing, but Dirk was cool. Unflappable. He refused to be flapped.

They were leading. They were staying tough. Dirk was putting the Mavericks on his shoulders and taking them home.

And then they lost.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 16

You didn't think we'd make it before the All-Star Weekend, did you? Well, to all those who didn't believe in us.....

Team Name: Unstoppable
Team Members: LeBron James and Dwayne[sic] Wade

Let's be realistic. This is the only way you will ever see these two play together in the NBA. You know full well that neither will take the paycut necessary to play on the same NBA team together. It just won't happen. That said, for this tournament, they have a lot going for them. (Pushing aside the obvious fact that they are two of the four legitimate MVP candidates this season,) They have some size (James) and both are super quick. Quicker than you might ever imagine. Trying to stop either of them in the lane is futile. Also, like all 2-on-2, this tournament will be Call Your Own Fouls. So, LeBron will be calling fouls on every play, assuring a lot of easy points for his team (because, come on, has there ever been a play in which LeBron wasn't fouled?)

They have the Redeem Team cache. They are both one-man wrecking crews during clutch situations, which is what the entire tournament would be. I don't think many would or could argue that these two would lose a single game. Unless Duncan and Ginobili formed a team, but they are taking the All-Star break off so that they can be good and rested for another run at the Finals. They are so smart, those Spurs.

PS: (From Spike)
Dear Charlie T,
Your favorite team's best player's name? It's spelled D-W-Y-A-N-E.

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 15

Team Name: Black Mambas
Team Members: Kobe Bryant and Amare Stoudemire

Black Mambas works for Kobe because he gave himself the nickname. It's only fitting he would name the team too. (Take note, Mitch Kupchak.)
Black Mambas works for Amare because nobody seems to want him around just like you wouldn't want the snake around either. It also works for Amare because- when faced with a Black Mamba- you are defense-less.

Plus Bryant gets stiffed by Shaq, LeBron, Gasol and now Bynum is hurt and who else really wants to play with Kobe? Bruce Bowen? Derek Fisher? Kobe's smart enough to choose a big guy no matter how defensively porous he is. Because somebody gots to get the boards if I ever miss...(calculated laughter that lasts a little too long.)

This is maybe the second most daunting pairing we came up with. Which means the best one is coming...

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 14

Team Name: Ro(b)se Roy, or Rose Roys (like the car, get it?)
Team Members: Derrick Rose and Brandon Roy

Neither player is an English merchant nor have they likely been to the Scottish Highlands, but Liam Neeson wasn't a perfect fit either and he got the part. (For the record, I know Rob Roy isn't Neeson's character. I can use IMDB like the best of them.)

Anyway we figured Roy would be a lock since he's continually considered The Next (Steve Smith?) and since Oden was with Durant, there was no other logical choice. So we resorted to our best bet: a play on last names. Sorry. Still, it's a talented team but probably better in about 5 years.

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 13

Team Name: Osh Josh B'Osh
Team Members: Josh Smith and Chris Bosh

Now here's a decent team. But- if we're honest- it's mostly just a funny name.

This pairing was conjured up before the mysterious Bosh injury. But maybe the guy above can take Bosh's spot. He looks tough and athletic.

Besides, his outfit sparked an idea. What if teams showed up to play, not in NBA or necessarily athletic attire, but more like themed costumes. Kind of like WWF meets The Warriors. Seeing Josh Smith and Chris Bosh play ball in overalls could be the best thing since the disaster that was letting the All Stars play in their teams' jerseys.

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 12

Team Name: We Got Game
Team Members: Ray Allen and Denzel Washington

(Cue the Public Enemy, who will perform during every matchup WGG plays.)

Ray Ray was going to team up with Michael Redd to make a team of guys who would be jackin' up three-pointers the whole time (not to mention the Milwaukee connection). This would have been incredible because, of course, the tournament would feature games to 11 by one's and two's. This makes a three-point specialist twice as valuable. So what does that say about TWO three-point specialists? Are they four times as valuable? Or is it exponential?

Then Redd went ahead and blew out his knee. And because Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson is retired, there was nobody left that made sense to pair up with Allen besides dear ol' dad.

Plus, anything we can do to keep Flava Flav off of reality shows and performing music is good.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It Was Horsecrap

You are right, Coach Mike Brown. They shouldn't have called a foul on Granger with .4 seconds left. You swallow your whistle at that point. Heck, you just leave the floor if you are an official.

That said, congratulations on sticking up for LeBron and Co. Your team has been so picked on. And it's nice to hear a little harmony with the sad tunes our dear martyr, St. BronBron of Our Lady Of Cleveland, has been singing lately.

Dream Team Up, Pt. 11

Team name: "If We Play Together Maybe You'll Stop The Incessant Comparisons" or IWPTMYSTIC for shorter, or MYSTIC for shortest
Team members: Chris Paul (CP3) and Deron Williams (D-Will)

Forever linked, forever compared, and- most likely- forever annoyed by the incessant comparisons and rumors of a rivalry, CP3 and D-Will decide to settle the score NOT in old west, shootout at noon style. But in an unexpected team-up. Like in the comic books when one of the bad guys suddenly works for the good guys. Except they're both really good. OK. That was a lousy example. How about when Apollo Creed and Rocky are suddenly training together?


Their height disadvantage (MYSTIC, not Stallone and Weathers, though that applies too I guess) plays against them (as does- for CP3- the lack of some towering dude to throw repeated alley-oops to), but their speed, tenacity, and smarts will make up for it. They have some gold medal cache, only matched by our #1 team (you can guess, but we won't reveal it to our two readers until we get there).

Can you tell we have This Seemed Like A Good Idea fatigue? Like the Grateful Dead, we will get by-y-y.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Can Stop Your Moaning Now

If it's not about DeShawn Stevenson or Brandon Haywood playing hard defense, it's about Mo not getting any respect.

Mo is only playing slightly better than Big Z or Larry Hughes of years past. But there was never even a whimper about them being slighted. Not even an eyebrow raise. I guess they weren't mini-LeBron enough to warrant a public outcry.

Tell us, Mr. James, does Mo dance on top of the piano while you play "Just The Two Of Us" and do you buy everything in two's? Lets hope he doesn't get the first time All-Star curse and stop hitting all those wide-open 3-balls because you'll have a hard time getting rid of all the half size Cub Cadets.


Q: The quote above was said by:

a) Recent Grammy sweeper Robert Plant, in reference to his crazy, druggy, orgiastic blurry years (1970-who knows when) with rock legends Led Zeppelin.

b) All-Star Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, in reference to his MVP years (2001-2003) with the Texas Rangers.

c) Any number of soccer moms who had to explain their hippie-casual morals/drug use/sex life/lifestyle (1967-1972 aka "college") to their children on the way home from the maturation program.

d) Dr. Seuss

e) Somebody who wants to confess their mistakes but doesn't want to be held accountable for them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Which Is She; Noble Beast or Useless Creature?

So my dates at the Merriweather Post Pavilion didn't work out so well. I was trying too hard to make something out of nothing, to get past the coughing fits so I could feel cool while I smoked,

In retrospect, another lesson learned is that one must decide early on whether you are pursuing a Noble Beast or a Useless Creature. (These are the names of the new Andrew Bird discs, the former being the actual record and the latter being instrumental...segue to follow) Meaning one must look through the hype, past the posturing and around the makeup to figure out what you are sharing dinner with. Noble Beasts or Useless Creatures. Now I don't think there are dates who are truly useless, but there are situations that make the useless to you. Its just not your time for them, or their time for you...or for anyone else. Noble Beasts are multi-faceted. They give you something to come back to time and again. Hooks, melodies, harmonies, lyrics, layers. They are ready for you and you for them.

Segue to Andrew Bird. I once drove 5 hours to a Josh Ritter concert, the which Andrew Bird also played. I new some of Armchair Apocrypha so it wasn't a complete surprise. But it was a complete surprise. A rather eccentric performer he was and it was a breath of fresh air to me. (but to be honest got old after an hour and a half, but probably because I was pining for Mr. Ritter) But I left sold on the product, but not quite enough to become the president of the fan club.

I did buy the new album. And I bought it the morning of my gym date. Maybe this is like wanting to ask out the waitress, or at least making eyes at her, while you are on a date. Maybe I doomed the gym date from the start, but maybe it was dead before the ship even sailed. Either way the Merriweather Post Pavilion has proved to be a Useless Creature to me and Noble Beast is just that.

There is something new every time I come back to it. I remember songs from the live performance. That brings back good memories. Most importantly I don't have to talk myself into it, and I certainly don't hover over it on iTunes debating as to whether or not I want to try and make it work.

I am not going to try and talk you into Noble Beast, because it will come when you need it. But if you find yourself wasting your time elsewhere, it might be time to give up the useless creatures.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 10

Team Name: Kid N Truth or "Champs"
Team Members:Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce

Who else would be paired with either one of these guys? Even though they have been teammates for only a season and a half, they seem like they've been best friends their entire lives. They've even branched out into comedy just like Kid N Play. (If you don't believe me, watch any post-championship interviews with these two. It may be unintentional, but its still comedy)

The burning question is: which one would look the best in the Christopher "Kid" Reid flat top? The Kid? The Truth? And will we get an animated series starring KG and PP? Please?


Thursday, February 5, 2009


Baseball has its asterisk. Even though I have my differences with the idea of the asterisk, it is force fed to me and the rest of the world. Apparently if you take certain substances you will be better at sports but if you take other substances you will also be better at sports but subject to banishment if anyone finds out. Right. Sounds perfectly reasonable.

Guns N Roses made some legendary rock. Mixed in with that they made some pretty crappy stuff too. They then faded out, farmed out their band memebers while Axl tried desperately to keep the name alive. He brought in other big names like Dave Navarro and Buckethead to replace Slash. While the talent may have kind of been there the music was definitely not. Anything from The Spaghetti Incident and after should be clearly marked with an asterisk, warning fans of tampering.

In 2001-2002 Isiah Thomas took over the Knicks and proceeded to make them a terrible team. Not just your run of the mill terrible, but epically terrible. They couldn't play defense and only occasionally could play offense. They drafted like they had their head you know where. Subsequently all kinds of records started to fall while teams played the Knicks. They now have a good coach, some direction in their franchise (even if it is about as wishful as my NBA dreams) but they still don't have great talent or anyone who plays defense.


By the way...
Did anyone see Carmelo almost get a triple double on the Thunder, and set the scoring record or a visiting opponent at the Ford Center?

Going To The Desert On A H-O-R-S-E With No Name

Herr Stern, in his occasional pursuit of newness, has introduced a H-O-R-S-E competition for All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. Whether or not this is a ploy to get Steve Nash involved is debatable.

What is not debatable is the potential watchability.

But who do we want to watch?

Here are some of my candidates, off the top of my head:

Ray Allen
He may seem like a boring choice and might have a hard time keeping up if it got too acrobatic. But imagine if he started leading. It would be a clinic in fundamentals, which appeals to a boring white guy like myself.

Kobe Bryant
His competitive nature alone would be fun to watch, not to mention an on-again/off-again rivalry with Ray Allen. The guy makes more circus shots than most. And hates to lose.

The Birdman
Clearly one of the more creative players in the league, it seems like Andersen might have access to something that would help his ideas be more, um, psychedelic than some. Sorry, that's a bad joke. The guy has done a ton to come back.

Random D-League Guy
Spice it up with a hungry hotshot from the D-League. But make him wear a Globetrotter uni.

Speaking of Globetrotters, toss one of them into this. They make a living making crazy shots. And heaven knows they could use the publicity and a revitalized image.

Retired Legend
Bring in an old guy. It'll give the competition a little more of that "Dad Always Wins In The Driveway" dynamic. Sharpshooters and trashtalkers are preferred in the vein of Reggie Miller.

Who else?

Taking A Break From The Merriweather Post Pavilion

Gym Date did not work out so well for the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

First off it showed up in a baggy sweatsuit. Really? Thats how you were going to get my attention? I get the feeling you were trying to hide something from me. Like a little bit of a pudgy stomach.

Then there was the whole, "I'm gonna go sit down over there until your done" routine halfway through. That was where I just about dialed up The Hold Steady to take me hope during a little time with the weights.

Lesson learned from my dates at the Merriweather Post Pavilion? If all you can think about is "I bet the new Andrew Bird is good" or "How much longer until the new M. Ward" or even "April isn't too far away, thats when the Hold Steady live album and DVD comes out" everytime you bring up the Merriweather Post Pavilion on iTunes, then you are probably not going to like it anyway. You're just not that into it.

I thought the undivided attention it would be getting would be enough for it to stick around and maybe start to turn into something. Nope.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

LeBron's Big Chance

This is it, LeBron.

Here's your chance.

You can, tonight, ensure that you will be:

The Visiting Player Who Scored The Most At Madison Square Garden. (All it takes is 62. What? 62 against the run-and-guns is still hard? Come on. You're THE BRON. This is a D'Antoni team. I don't want to hear excuses. I wanna hear nets ripping, New Yorkers cheering, and Kobe crying into his Like Mike commemorative pillow. Earn that Nike money, Bron Bron, and just do it.)


The Knick Who Scored The Most At Madison Square Garden.

Cleveland, you're on the clock...

The First Quarter

NBA games come down to who wins the most quarters. This year 2009 is playing against itself. Q1 vs Q2 vs Q3 vs Q4 (which deserves a handicap since we can never live with it long enough to definitively judge it by Dec 31)

Q1, though, is shaping up to be pretty wicked.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit- s/t :: Underrated. For some reason I'm more likely to grab this than the Drive-By Truckers record from last year.
Bon Iver- Blood Bank EP :: OK. It wasn't as a good as I'd hoped (loved the first two songs, tried to figure out what was missing for me on the last two), but combined with the track from Dark Was The Night, I think there's some momentum going on here. Let's just hope momentum's two usual accomplices, Complacency and Pressure, don't ruin things.
Gary Louris/Mark Olson- Ready For The Flood :: Welcome back, Jayhawks. I can't imagine how this album couldn't be great. The voices together plus some of the best underappreciated writers around equals subtle greatness.
M. Ward- Hold Time :: Probably still recovering from all the love he got for She&Him's Volume One, M. Ward brings it. As a fan of his last few gruff-voiced records and their bluesy/folky/quirky/old timey feels, I have to admit a bit of trepidation when they trot out a list of "special guests." And this one is DROWNING in the special types: Lucinda Williams, Jenny Lewis, Jason Lytle, Neko Case, Peter Broderick, Zooey, Jim James, Adam Selzer...we get it. You have popular friends. Hopefully they know how to fit in.

(Behold, the obligatory Zooey photo.)

Great Lake Swimmers- Lost Channels :: Tony Dekker & Co.'s last record, Ongiara, was easily one of my favorites of its year and has continued to earn and re-earn listens. Listen to "On A Line." The guy writes songs that have a real simple purity to them and sings with that mournful rasp that gets more sure with each record. To say I can't wait for this one is a brutal understatement.
Sarah Sample- Born To Fly EP :: The title of the EP is fitting for its relation to Sarah Sample's trajectory as a writer. Her last album, Never Close Enough, had several winners and showed promise. This organic EP, recorded live in 2 days, delivers. Check out the sad gospel feel of "Mercy Me" and the Grey's Anatomy bound "Used To You."
Animal Collective-Merriweather Post Pavilion :: We've been over this. But, our personal inability to connect aside, this thing is an eruption of hype and has to be on any list. And, in our defense, we haven't given up on it.
Bruce Springsteen- Working On A Dream :: Critics are divided, but he's been relevant long enough that the Boss has earned the right to do what he wants.
Beirut- March of the Zapotec :: Charlie T might be a better authority on this one, but I've known for awhile that this is a project I should lend my ears to.
Andrew Bird- Noble Beast :: Again, I'm behind on this one. But it has two words involved with it that are known to put me over the top: Glenn and Kotche.
Laura Gibson- Beasts of Seasons :: My winter needs Laura Gibson like the Orlando Magic need a point guard. I doubt many Laura Gibson fans would a) ever say that and b) know what it means. Welcome to our blog.
Felice Brothers-Yonder Is The Clock :: Wait. What? The band that released one of my 08 favorites already has one of my potential 09 favorites ready? This is too good to be true. Please tell me that one of them doesn't die or quit between now and April. Oh wait. Is that Q2? Yes. Oh well.

Once Q2 hits, we'll revisit these and see what Q2 had to kick into the mix

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Insult And Now Injury

Right or not, the method for picking All-Star Game starters is in stone- it's left up to the voters, who can vote everyday if they want to. I may not agree with how it's done, but it's how it's done and I just roll with it. The game is kind of for the fans anyway.

But the subs? Those are in the hands of the people who should know better- the coaches. Everyone has their opinion about the All-Star snubs, who should be there, who shouldn't. Here's mine:


(Calming down.)

Phew. OK. Let's talk.

I'm not gonna play the Smalltown Inferiority Complex card. And I'm not digging into the moldy, overdone CP3 v DWill argument. CP3 got voted a starter-fair and square- and is a dominant player. I'll let time show us how their comparison shakes out.

It's CP3's teammate- admittedly the easiest target on the West roster- that's chapping the nethers here. There's no way that David West, this year or any year, is more valuable to his team or any team than Deron Williams is to the Jazz or would be to any other team.

Take the test: you're building a team around a star. Do you take David West or Deron Williams? If you said "West," either you need to take off the beer goggles or I sincerely hope that your home was OK after Katrina. Come on. COME ON. COME. ON. He's a better leader, a more proven playoff warrior, and has the killer instinct. He was SECOND TEAM ALL-NBA LAST YEAR. That means he was one of the 10 best players in the league and one of the 4 best guards. Yes, that was last season. This season he's averaging 17.6 points, 2.70 boards, 10.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game compared to last seasons 18.8 points, 10.5 assists, 3 boards, and 1.1 steals per game. Those numbers are down, but so incrementally as to not even matter. He's been the rock in the Jazz's injury-riddled season where even the healthy players (Okur, Korver, Brewer) have seen serious inconsistency plague them consistently.

West? Well, he shares a last name with the conference. I guess they thought they needed a forward. I won't go so far as to call him AC Green, but come on. Come. On.

Now the rest of the guys have arguments in their favor. Brandon Roy's Blazers lead the division and deserve a representative. The Lakers have dominated and should have two players. Dirk has been good, I guess. Chauncey Billups automatically improved the Thuggets, but how hard is that to do when the primary cancer is traded? Shaq deserves it. Tony Parker too, though it's hard to definitively say he's a better PG than D-Will (except when he carves up the Jazz).

The bummer is: now that he's injured, D-Will probably won't even get a chance to be an injury replacement. Maybe it's for the best.

Congratulations Mr. Bryant

You scored 61 points against the Knicks.

That is like me dunking the ball on a 7 foot hoop.
Or a lion picking off the sick one in a herd of zebras.

Or you scoring 81 on the Raptors.
Or me beating you in a video game and then telling you that you suck at basketball.
Or Lloyd Christmas selling the parakeet to Billy in 4C.

When Jordan dropped 55 he didn't have Wilson "Who" Chandler guarding him all game.
When Jordan dropped 55 the Knicks were tough, physical and defensive minded.
When Jordan dropped 55 he had just come back from playing baseball for two years, on his fifth game back.

Scoring 61 on these Knicks is like scoring 61 against the Reno Bighorns...because thats where most of this current team will be playing out the rest of there careers.

So congratulations Mr. Bryant. You beat a deaf kid in a name that tune contest.
Score 61 on the Celtics Thursday and then we'll talk.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dream Team-Up, Pt. 9

Team Name: A.I.
Team Members: Allen Iverson and Andre Iguodala

We hope this pairing doesn't suck as bad as the Spielberg movie.

And we also hope it goes over better than their first pairing. At least there won't be a one legged Chris Webber to mess it up. (On a side note isn't the Elton Brand addition going about as well as the Webber addition? Both are past their prime big men who have struggled through injury)

If this tournament ends up being make-it, take-it, and they get the ball first, they've got a good chance. If not, we'll see a couple great alley-oops to Iggy, a few Iverson crossovers (which are in about the same state of disrepair as the Parthenon...just enough beauty to make you wish you had seen it in its prime but does not serve the purpose it was intended for) and Iverson playing defense for the first time in about 4 seasons, albeit for only 3 possessions.

So this is a weak pairing, yeah yeah yeah, but you know Iverson wants in this tournament and who else would be his teammate?

The (Forthcoming) Gym Date

I didn't make any effort for a return appointment after the burrito lunch date with the Animal Collective at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I frankly just wasn't that into it despite a few highlights that were pretty much the same highlights as the first date.

What do you do when a relationship, after just a couple early and uneventful dates, is stuck in neutral? You don't call her for a week, wait and see what kind of effort she puts forth and then you invite her to The Gym Date. The Gym Date isn't a chance to show off your jump shot which probably isn't that impressive anyway. And its not a chance to show off your guns, which are definitely not that impressive. The Gym Date is all about finding something in her worth hanging on too.

The Gym Date is a secret weapon of dates. It will be productive no matter how bad the date is and here is why.

1. You will get to see her in work out clothes.
Those usually consist of short running shorts and some t-shirt that is too small. And if you don't get the too small tee, you will almost certainly get the tank top.

2. You get to see her in work out clothes.
It is like the boating date, where you get the swimming suit, but isn't interpreted as "He just wants to check out my body."

3. The gym is a character revealer.
Is she a hard worker? Does she know her way around? (meaning has she been there before) Is she competitive? (Not always a bad thing) You get some good undivided attention that doesn't involve her telling you the same stories about her roommate. She will also be wearing little to no make-up which means there are no more secrets.
this part of the Gym Date saved Dear Science by TV On The Radio from being discounted by me. A few tracks in on the indoor running track and I had forgotten why I was ever down on it

4. You aren't committed do to anything afterwards
The gym date usually starts with both arriving on their own and ends with both leaving on their own. This means the price of the date is nothing. And no dinner is involved since nobody wants to reveal that they go home and eat ice cream after working out. It also means it can be the start of friend zone with out anyone knowing.

5. You get to see her in work out clothes
Come on, this is really the only reason for the gym date.

6. 2 for 1
Its a mid-week date that also knocks out a trip to the gym, freeing up an evening.

So its set. The Animal Collective and I will be going on a Gym Date to the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I hope for their sake this trick works. You know after about ten minutes at the gym whether or not its going to go anywhere.

(Stay off the bikes if at any cost...)

Tramps Like Us, Baby, We Were Born To...Slide?

Let's debrief. First of all, the scorecard:

Blinded By The Light = no
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) = no
Born To Run = no duh
Girls In Their Summer Clothes = no, but he did play a new song
This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie) or We Shall Overcome (Pete Seeger) = no and no

SPIKE: 2/6
Glory Days = yes
Born In The USA = no, the Boss did not jump to play this
Born To Run = who didn't guess this?
Thunder Road = no
Hungry Heart = no
Rosalie = no

(Pausing to bask in victory. Still pausing. But knowing full well that EVERYONE would've won if the Boss would've played Atlantic City, Devils & Dust, and The River with just an acoustic guitar. The article at the bottom of this scorecard agrees with me.)

Now, in reviewing the performance, let's break it down into points and penalties, meaning what the Boss did well and what was not so hot. Positivity wins the flip and kicks off.

ENERGY. The calling card of a Bruce performance is his manic energy and there was no letdown here. The guy couldn't hold still. Mrs. Woolridge kept asking what his deal was, which is generally a good sign. Not anything unexpected, but he came through. +10 points.
THE SPIT Even though he seemed more hoarse than a guy who's singing for 12 minutes should be, we still got the spitting, breathless delivery that- hand in hand with energy- is in the zoning laws on E-Street. 5 points per foot of spit radius = +15 points.
10th Avenue Freeze Out +15 points for a pleasant surprise.
BORN TO RUN Of course. The only bad thing about it was deciding to play anything after it. It's the barnburner and the song that should've capped his performance. 1 point per year since its release = + 34 points
THAT NEW SONG Credit be to Bruce for not resting on his Greatest Hits. You gotta play like your new songs belong in the same breath as your legendary stuff. Even if they don't. The choir, however, was a gimmick and misstep. So cheesy and unnecessary. Still, +20 points for Striving For Continued Relevance.
GLORY DAYS Like I said before, perfect song for this set. Changing the words, however, was cheesy. I can see how somebody might think it was cool, but then I could also see why I would still want to punch them in the nuts. What is this anyway? Do you really want to be in the same category as "Pre-Game Faith Hill Song That Has Terrible Customized Lyrics"? Sing the dang song, man. -10 points for lyric change, +10 points for Making Spike Win The Guessing Game = no points

THE POSE Now, I wouldn't go so far as to call the Boss a poser. Far from it. But that little thing at the start with him and Clarence was lame. What is this? Charlie's Angels. Especially when he used the guitar for its silhouette only to jettison it once the song started... -8 points, 4 for each useless instrument in the posed silhouette.
CLARENCE CLEMONS -10 points. If you aren't jazz, the English Beat or Morphine (or have a note from home), I have a hard time seeing why you'd be saxophoning on MY television.
CLARENCE CLEMONS' JACKET -15 points, one for every pimp who, watching the Super Bowl and seeing CC's jacket, thought, "Man, I gots to get me one of THEM"
THE CROTCH SLIDE Tough to hold this against him when you saw the look of delight on his face. So. No points. (Go to this link. Go. Go. Go.)
THE CHOIR -8 points, one for each time I thought, "What is the point of the choir?"
THE BANTER This one's divisive even for me. I realize that a lot of people probably loved the playfulness. It just seemed too calculated and, well, a little hokey/hammy for me. But I am probably missing the context of one of Bruce's 3-hour revivals. So we'll blame Little Steven and call it even. No points.
THE REFEREE One word sums up my reaction the referee (and his yellow flag)'s appearance: CRINGE. - 15 points.
CHANGING THE WORDS TO GLORY DAYS no points, as discussed above.
HAVING SOME ACOUSTIC GUITAR CHICK ONSTAGE WHO'S EVEN MORE DISPENSABLE THAN PATTY SCIALFA Like we need a Poor Man's Patty Scialfa. -12 points, 2 for each useless string.
"I'M GOING TO DISNEYLAND?" Bruce, you did not win the Super Bowl. You played at halftime. Did ESPN put you up to this? -5 points

= +1

So it was better than it was bad.

(Interesting article about the performance and its cultural relevance: here)