Friday, January 29, 2010

The Clippers Stink, Futility

Anyone who has ever followed a team on the fringes of mediocrity knows that you always look ahead on the schedule and try to predict wins. You see games against Minnesota, New York, Sacramento, Indiana, New Jersey and Washington and pencil in wins in an attempt to predict a rise in the standings for your team. You hope your team can feed off of futility and not be one of the 20 wins for the other team.

This brings us to our next look at how the Clippers might get rid of the stink and the losing ways. Two nights ago the took the court against the lowly Nettes. The 3-40 New Jersey Nettes. The first line of the AP article on the game starts "The crowd was on its feet and clapping. The players were standing near midcourt, happily waiting for the final buzzer to sound." Too bad the game was in East Rutherford. It wasn't the Clippers feeding off the bottom. It was the Nettes taking advantage of the losing ways of the Clippers. It appears it wouldn't matter if the Clippers played the Nettes every night.. They still might only be a .500 team having split the season series with the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

The letters guessed on this edition of Clipper's Stink Hangman were N-E-T-T-E-S. (or just N-E-T-S for those hardcore rule hounds). Below is an updated Hangman board, red letters showing the newly guessed letters. Looks like we might be inching a little closer to the answer.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010: The 1st Quarter

We failed to follow up adequately (though end of year and end of decade lists should count for something) on last year's Quarterly Music posts. Oh well.

Here's what we're looking at in Q1:

Patty Griffin- Downtown Church Recorded in, yes, an historic downtown church with Buddy Miller producing and a lot of Nashville favorites sitting in (Emmylou, Jim Lauderdale, Raul Malo, Julie Miller, Buddy himself). Add my favorite drummer (the chronically misspelled Jay Bellerose) and a bunch of gospel songs (only two originals) and we could be seeing this at the end of the year. The girl CAN SING, my friends.
Beach House- Teen Dream This album has potential to be this year's Merriweather Post Pavilion if it's not careful. Luckily, all the reviews I've heard so far have come from a diverse audience of unjaded, hipsterproof folks.
Retribution Gospel Choir- 2 The single alone is good enough.
Spoon- Transference Is it blasphemous to say that I wasn't all that jazzed on their Letterman performance? Well, I wasn't. Still, they built up an awful lot of equity with Kill The Moonlight, so they'll get some listens.
Eels- End Times One of my great live show disappointments was FINALLY getting to see Eels live (in 06) and have them decide to go aggro. Not that I don't like the quick-and-dirty Eels; just that I had heard some of the Town Hall live recordings and, really, my side of E is his introspective side. That show was anything but introspective. Entertaining, but not what I'd hoped for and heard all about. Why do I bring this up now? Because that experience has kept me from getting excited about Eels like I normally would.
Kanye West- VH1 Storytellers His albums, like it or not, are events.
Langhorne Slim- Be Set Free
Magnetic Fields- Realism The high concept, no-instruments-that-have-to-plug-in philosophy is intriguing (though Gillian Welch doesn't get any points or even bother making a big deal out of it).
Charlotte Gainsbourg- IRM
Frightened Rabbit- The Winter of Mixed Drinks Did we overpraise their last record? Yes. Does that lump too much pressure on this album? Yes. Are we still looking forward to it? Of course. I, Spike Woolridge, promise not to do to this record what I unfairly did to Great Lake Swimmers Lost Channels last year (first listen unrighteous dismissal followed by a late year repentance).
Rogue Wave- Permalight
Mumford & Sons- Sigh No More Buzz, buzz, buzz. I got my hands on an import and it's good. Sometimes it feels like it's trying a bit too much. But it's good. And you have to pay attention when Stereogum AND Telluride Bluegrass Festival are lauding the same record. You just do.
Midlake- The Courage of Others Will we get "Roscoe 2.0"? Can the flute be cool?
Mount Eerie- Black Wooden EP
Shout Out Louds- Work The song "100 Degrees" is one of my favorites of the last decade. I didn't make a list, for which we are all grateful.
Natalie Merchant- Leave Your Sleep Call me old. Call me irrelevant. But she has a place at the table. You can't deny her involvement with R.E.M., Cowboy Junkies, and Wilco. Those are artists who (ignoring some of the searching-era R.E.M.) have survived the test of time.
Massive Attack- Heligoland I haven't loved anything they've done since Mezzanine. And part of me wonders if they're stuck in a genre rut without the tools to free themselves. But I still have a floating interest in what they'll do next.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Beat The Devil's Tattoo The true sleeper of the bunch. Baby 81 and BRMC made my Best of Decade list, their set opening for Spiritualized in 2002 was one of the best I've ever seen, and Howl failed to make my list only because I'm too uncool to own it. They've been on a hot streak. Let's see where this goes.
The Watson Twins- Talking To You, Talking To Me Will they finally break free of "they did really great on Rabbit Fur Coat" paradigm?
Drive By Truckers- The Big To-Do
The White Stripes live There are very, very, very few live albums that get repeat listens for me and, sorry, I have a hard time thinking this will make that list.
Yeasayer- Odd Blood
Neon Trees- Habits Could be a huge year for this band. Utah could use somebody to help the world forget about The Used. Hopefully Tyler Glenn doesn't end up on Keeping Up With The Kardashians (a la McCracken on The Osbournes).
She & Him- Volume 2
Broken Bells- s/t (Danger Mouse + Shins' James Mercer)
Gorillaz- Plastic Beach Damon Albarn: most underrated musical Brit?
The Best of Pavement Typically, we wouldn't list a Best Of, but one from the band we thought would never make one? Gotta.
Josh Rouse- El Turista Didn't love his last one,'s a telling album.
The Streets- Computers & Blues
Lightspeed Champion- Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You
Brian Jonestown Massacre- Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?
Angus & Julia Stone- Down The Way

How many of these am I really interested in? How many of these will I even sample? The answer is embarrassingly low. But I already own the first three. So that's a start.

Regardless, 2010 is already shaping up to be pretty great.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Please. No. And, furthermore, never. Ever.

I had to check the calendar- is it really April 1?- and only clicked through because I knew a reputed sports site like wouldn't have any accompanying photos

but (and emphasis on but)


So many thoughts:
- to paraphrase Cindy Lou Who, "why, Greg Oden, why?"

- I guess when you're not ever playing, you kinda get bored.

- what would be worse: seeing Bea Arthur or Greg Oden naked? I'm going with Oden. They're approximately the same age anyway.

- isn't there a Celebrity Orientation class that these first rounders have to take? (Not to be confused with Starving Desperate C-Listers class, where this moronic move would be 101.) Cover such topics as: Careful With That Entourage! and Have Somebody Else Carry The Gun and Don't Text Naked Pictures Of Yourself To Anyone Ever and Just Have A Shred Of Common Sense, Idiot.

- Kevin Durant, anyone? OKC loves their life.

- Somewhere, Sam Bowie is so stoked. His run as the NBA and Portland's big draft gaffe may have, at least temporarily, fallen a spot or two. "Yeah, they picked me over Jordan and I never panned out, but I never sent nude photos and then got them posted online! Holla!"

- Oden apologized publicly, as our stars tend to do (they DO all enroll in Crisis Management 101, it seems). I can't help wonder if he should apologize more for the photos or for playing in 7 games through 2 seasons at several million a pop.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Simple Math and Exploding Heads

We all know the classic math problem "If train A leaves Chicago traveling 100MPH and train B leaves New York traveling 150MPH and the distance between the two cites is 600 miles how far from New York will it be when the two trains meet?" Not many of us could rattle off the answer but somewhere along the line we have used the first part of it as a joke, which was probably unsuccessful unless you wear your pants somewhere between your bellybutton and your nipples.

Now I would like to alter a couple things. Train A isn't leaving Chicago, its leaving Cleveland. Train B isn't leaving New York but rather its leaving Mississippi. On those trains are the futures of LeBron and Brett Favre. And once again, this summer, they will be battling for Bottom Line Dominance*.

This is where heads are going to explode. Those heads being in Ohio, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Toronto (assuming Chris Bosh and the Raptors can crack the crack the top 5 in Canadian popularity) and especially in Bristol, CT. Nobody is going to know what to do with themselves as both parties speculate about their future. It will be a battle fought in the sky with multiple helicopters, on the ground (I wonder if Rachel Nicholes will be the first person to broadcast live from two locations, simultaneously) and in the sea (at least I hope...there aren't enough news boats out there). I predict that we see the inception of LeBronCenter and FavreCenter as a result of the ensuing spotlight battle during the forthcoming summer.

We can pretty much pencil in Favre as the QB for the VIkings next year. LeBron becomes a little tougher to pin down (we all know the lack of income tax in Florida has got to be alluring) but there isn't as much mystery around it as there once was. And we can all rest assured that there will be no lack of coverage as these two trains approach their destinations.

*Bottom Line Dominance (or BLD) is attained when a news story dominates ESPN's Bottom Line sports ticker. Examples include Tiger, Brett Favre and his retirements, and the upcoming NBA free agent class.

Big Baby: An Incomplete History of Self-Selected Nicknames

The Celtics quest for 72 is long since over, so let's shift our attention to random Celtic facts. For instance, Big Baby says he's done with that moniker and wants to move on to Uno Uno.

First of all, Uno Uno? Does Glen Davis have latino roots that I've missed? Uno Uno is deadeningly uncreative- it came from a sycophantic journalist, after all.

So let's look at some of the history of people trying to choose their own nicknames, an exercise in futility if ever there were one.

Kobe Bryant//The Black Mamba//only caught on in mockery...the amount of thought he had put into the "strikes with precision and deadliness" aspect is embarrassing.

Radio Shack//The Shack//Do the marketing genii behind this campaign really think they're gonna change public perception? Is Radio Shack beloved enough to anybody to ever get a nickname or even an abbreviation? "Oh yeah, man! I get all my AC adapters at The Shack!" No. Never gonna happen. It reminds me of a girl I knew in college who, while we were on a roadtrip and stopping for lunch, suggested going to "Carl's J." Carl's J? Really? You're gonna abbreviate the "unior" off of that? We started abbreviating every restaurant we saw after that: Taco B, J in the Box, Burger K, El P Loco. You get the idea.

The cast of Jersey Shore//(multiple)
//all I want to say is: please let that whole shore just wash into the ocean. Please. If it can happen in hundreds of disaster movies, it has to be somewhat plausible. Please.

Laura Schlesinger//Dr. Laura//not even a doctor, yet this one somehow stuck.

Michael Jackson//The King Of Pop//at least he had a case, once upon a long ago time.

George Costanza//T-Bone//we all know how that went. He eventually became the way-less-awesome Koko.

Prince//unpronounceable symbol//the Purple One gets a pass because it was mostly a ploy to free himself from a record company's grip (imagine if an athlete changed his name just to get out of his contract) became "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" when, really, the dude should've just come up with a new word for how to pronounce the symbol...he eventually went back to Prince

Shaq//The Big Aristotle, The Shaqtus, more//the difference with Shaq is that he recognizes the impermanence of a self-selected nickname and embraces it. He doesn't expect (or want, for that matter) any of the names to stick. It's impressionistic and disposable and he loves it.

Possible Landing Places For Agent Zero

(how ironic is that nickname now, with all the gun toting?)

Now that Gilbert Arenas' basketball future is in question (at very least with the Wiz, er, Bullets), it's never too soon to think ahead. So where could Arenas land? Besides the clink, of course...

...a cameo on the current season of 24 as, what else, a professional basketball player who brings an unauthorized weapon on a White House visit. Is he a loose cannon with a vendetta against the president? Or just a moron? Stay tuned next week (sound of time ticking down).

...the Harlem Globetrotters could use a little edge and a man with Arenas' personality and skills is a rare find.

...NRA conventions have to pay handsomely, don't they?

...YouTube. A self-parody has helped many troubled stars (Pee Wee Herman, for instance, killed when he opened an MTV awards show- right after his "incident"- with the self-deprecating line, "Heard any good jokes lately?") Gilbert needs to hire some of the folks to help him skewer himself in style.

...The Ernie/Kenny/Chuck show. Imagine somebody crazier than Barkley.

...a Jackie Chan movie. Now that the Chris Tuckers and Owen Wilsons of the world have turned and run, old man Chan needs a new, cross-cultural foil. Who better than a trigger-happy jock?

Any other ideas?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Big Z's Loyalty

Dear Cavs,

Before LeBron was even born I was playing for the Cavs. I was on the All-Rookie team, MVP of the Rookie Game and a two-time All Star. And lets not forget that I am the franchise leader in all time games played. I have been nothing but loyal to the Cavs my entire career.

But the straws may have finally broken my back. First, they deny me the chance to play for Lithuania in the Beijing Olympics. Next, they don't pass the memo on to my coach to make sure I get in the game to set the All Time Games Played record at home, in front of my fans.

Now, they are shopping me for "a big man who can stretch the floor with his shooting" and hope that I will get waived by the team they send me to, only to re-sign with the Cavs 30 days later in time for the Playoffs. I hate the thought of being traded from the franchise I have given everything to. Especially to some terrible team like the Wizards or the Warriors. Even more than the thought of being traded, I hate being traded for myself. How better could you describe me than "a big man with range"? I mean come on. If you want to trade someone with an expiring contract how about that out of shape back-up center you brought in during the off-season. Then you can have not one, but two big men with range and his overweight contract off the books as well.

I don't mean to tell you how to do your job, but for once I'd like a little thanks.

Big Z

Canada's Team/January Edition

THE RAPTORS ARE HOT, handing the Lakers their 11th loss and taking them out of contention to match the legendary Bulls' Best Season Ever mark. So let's take another look into the Toronto Raptors' bid to become Canada's Team, both legally and in the hearts of the Canadian people. Below the Canadian poll results below, you'll also find the Top 10 Heatseeking Markets (meaning, markets in which the popularity of the Raptors increased dramatically overnight).

1. Canadian Olympic Team

2. Toronto Maple Leafs
3. Neil Young (got the #TeamCoCo bump with an appearance on the last episode)
4. Edmonton Oilers
5. Calgary Flames
6. Ottawa Senators
7. Shania A-Twain (Apparently Canadians were proud of her American Idol guest judge appearance and threw their support behind her CCTRA [Cross Canadian Train Racing Association] team.)
9. Phoenix Suns (Nash-loyalty is at an all-time high)
10. Lilith Fair Roadie Curling Team (after a decade+ hiatus, Ms. Mclachlan's wildly popular curling team is back in the saddle)

Other notables
17. Vancouver Canucks
26. Toronto Blue Jays (75-87)
55. Speed (the little league hockey team that Keanu Reeves coaches for his Canadian TV reality show)

And by beating the Lakers, the Raptors' popularity swelled in the following markets.
Salt Lake City
9. Portland
8. Atlanta
6. Littleton/Boulder area, CO
4. Denver
3. Phoenix
2. Cleveland
1. Boston

Mavs Hand Knicks Worst MSG Loss Ever

As a Jazz fan, can I just add my $.02 that a 50-point home loss really should count as two?

Spike Woolridge Already On Offseason Favre Watch

The AP reported late Sunday night that Spike Woolridge, a writer for sports/music blog The Black Converse, is already looking forward to a long and fruitful offseason of Favre-ian Will He/Won't He speculation.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More TBC Smart Points

Daryl Morey deserves some credit for stuffing the ballot boxx in the final weeks in an attempt to get Steve Nash into the game instead of the wildly popular corpse that is T-Maq. First, he saved David Stern from complete embarrassment. So he gets 5 TBC Smart Points for saving the Commish. Second, McGrady playing in the All-Star game would only showcase his lack of value. This is very important as Morey tries to hoodwink teams into taking on tee-mak and his absurd contract. Rockets brass gives him 5 TBC Smart Points. And last but not least, the fans win on this one. So thats 5 TBC Smart Points from anyone who likes the NBA. That brings the total up to 15 TBC Smart Points on this single move, which might be a little generous but we make up the rules.

Glory Days Are Back Again

The Sixers wanted the Glory Days back and they are doing their absolute best to get them.

In an effort to not let them "pass you by", they went out and got the throwback jerseys... full time. Then they went and dug up one of the franchise treasures. Now they just needed a magical run through the playoffs and an All-Star.

You can't have the glory back all at once but they sure are doing a good job of acquiring the pieces. Now if they could just figure out that winning thing.

PS: Remember Steve Francis?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


If we were going to track the workmanlike predictability and consistency of the Spurs (like we said in our ambitious 910 Preview), then last night would be a big red (or in the Jazz's throwback case, green and yellow) anomaly.


During Pop's tenure, the Jazz had never swept the season series with the Spurs. Never. In fact, November's win at San Antonio was the first Jazz@Spurs win in, what, forever?

But there it was. Compliments of double doubles by D-Will and Boozer. Compliments of a big all-around (especially on offense) game by Kirilenko. And gutsy play by the benchguys- Milsap, even my love/hate whipping boy Ronnie Price. And maybe compliments of some reffing that seemed- even to a Jazz fan- to be out for Timmy's scalp like he were a nazi and the refs were the Basterds. He must've done his trademark Wide Eyed Glare one too many times.

What else was anomalous? (Is that a word? Do I care? Do you get what I'm getting at? OK.)

Duncan denied a milestone. One of the most consistent, come-through players of all time. And he stopped one short of the point milestone.

What I love about Duncan: he didn't care at all about it. He would've been embarrassed by any stoppage of play, any confetti or recognition; even postgame questions would've been an annoyance. He just wanted the W. And that's why he's one of (if not THE) greatest PF in history.

Wow. And to think I'm a Jazz fan.

Farewell, Franz

In a note unrelated to the NBA (unless you are a T-Wolves fan?), Pitchfork reports:
Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay, who has been a member of the band ever since sophomore album Separation Sunday, has left the group.
That means no more moustache. A lot less energy (he was probably #2 to Finn, but by just a little). And less oomph in the whoa's. Yes, life goes on when Brian Jones dies, when Jay Bennett is excused, when Peter Gabriel leaves, when Bill Berry retires, when you go through drummers like Spinal Tap/Pearl Jam; but Nicolay was a big part of what made the neo-retro rock of THS work and made the live show electric.

Full story here.

Half Way Home

Most of the NBA teams have passed the half way point of their season, with the exception of those who are going on to the playoffs of course. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get more involved in the analysis of my NBA team; the Miami Heat. Last I checked in with them, I was thinking NBA Finals when then unbeaten Phoenix came to town. Both teams were 3-0 so it was a little premature to say the least. Since then I have never quite had a chance to get too high on them since their longest winning streak of the season has been 3, and that has only happened twice. After last nights 39 point drubbing by the Scrap Heap, I have a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth. So excuse me if this feels a little "glass half empty".

Trying to assess my feelings about this team is hard. My feelings fall into three places. Beasley. Wade. 2010. Everything else, like the Dorrell Wright Experience, the point guard carousel and the $22 Million Man are points of question and fury, but this team hinges on the other three components.

One game Michael Beasley seems like a legitimate NBA player which convinces me that he would be a good asset to keep around. Then the next game it becomes blatantly obvious that Udonis Haslem is a saint for coming off the bench behind the Beas. UD could out hustle Beasley even if he were on crutches. So when Beasley's value is high, I want to keep him. When it is low, I want him dangled in front of every GM from Colangelo to Kupchak. Beasley needs to give this team something on a regular basis, we all know that. The question is whether its him maturing and finding consistency with the Heat or turning into someone who will. If I had to make a list of the top 5 guys filling Beasley's role (a great third option...lets face it, he is not a second banana) he would probably be fourth on the list behind a real legitimate big man like Bosh or Bynum. There is no way Toronto makes anymore trades with the Heat and the Lakers don't need another versatile big man after Gasol, Odom and Artest.

Next we have Wade. I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship. One day I feel extremely confident that Dwyane is a lifer. The next day he gives us a Vince Carter Special Delivery leaving me to think he is on the first train out of town come July 31st. Is it too late to be a Thunder fan?

Finally 2010. Someone is going to be the bride without a groom. There just isn't enough LeBron, Wade and Bosh to go around. I've had this t-shirt in my shopping cart about 5 different times, but never pulled the trigger because I was afraid to jinx the whole thing.

In the end, is 2010 the answer? Aren't there just too many missing pieces? Outside of Wade and Haslem, who is there on this team who can be considered a building block to a championship team? I guess I'm glad its not 2007-08 all over again. And I can still see the confetti falling onto the floor in 2006.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Postage Stamp Only Rings Twice

Watching the Magic/Lakers game last night (yes, I watched), it was hard not to accuse an (in his defense) obviously injured, beshirted Vince Carter of mailing in the first three quarters (1-for-7, I believe) and then turning it on (what, 2 three-pointers in the waning moments?) when the game was all but out of reach?

I don't know. I'm conflicted.

All I know is that part of me loved watching the gunning of the Magic (when it was working) and part of me thought that they could never win a championship when their gameplan depends on the strike of lightning.

Part of me also thought Stan Van might miss his little Hedo. Just a little.

Friday, January 15, 2010


D Will goes down.

LeBron goes off.

Boozer fouls out.

Candance Parker's brother misses.

Korver hits from behind the glass.

Candance Parker's brother misses again.

Z misses one too.

And then:

Korver is covered.

Memo is too.

Ronnie Price (who has a well-documented love for shooting when the clock winds down) too.

Gaines hits the first 3-pointer of his NBA career.


Incredible game.

The NBA. Where 10-Day Contracts Happen.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Nettes-fueled idea

Looking at the Nettes hapless (and, to the record-holding loser Sixers, wonderfully encouraging) season got me thinking:

What if the NBA borrowed an idea from Euro soccer?

Relegate the worst two teams. Move them down.

It curbs tanking. It provides incentive for both players and front offices to a) play like a team, and b) make moves that make a difference. It makes free agency more interesting (fewer players would stick with lousy teams in "pleasant" markets). Charlie T and I have talked a bit about using the D-League as incentive- bringing one team up from the D-League and bringing one team down from the NBA (it would certainly keep things interesting). BUT... looking at the Nettes and their femininely named roster, it gave me another idea:

Relegate the worst team to the WNBA.

No, this is not a Tyler Perry movie. And, no, I'm not using this as a way to air out some latent sexism that, really, I don't have. This is real incentive. Going back to the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs "Battle of The Sexes" tennis match, this has appeal to everyone. Women want to see women kick men's butts. Many men don't think women can compete with us, that it's cute that they even try (the catalyst for the crappy "you're so beautiful when you're angry" line) It's a concept at the heart of the Road Rules/Real World challenges and any other cookout/family reunion/game night that has used Boys Vs Girls to split up teams.

The Nettes would fit right in.


An announced crowd of only 13,544 showed up to watch these struggling teams. The Pistons are now 12-25, and Washington is 12-24; in the Eastern Conference, only the NBA-worst New Jersey Nettes (TBC change) have fewer victories.

A. My guess is that the announced crowd exceeded the actual crowd. It's almost always that way.
B. At what point are the Pistons going to stop PRETENDING to make big changes and actually make big changes?
C. The Bullets, er, Wiz can't really blame that crappy record on the drama surrounding Agent .22, er, Zero. He was playing in plenty of those L's.
D. What part of Kid Rock's career (remember: we are sort of trying to stick to our preseason themes- Detroit's was how the team's season parallels Kid Rock's career) are we looking at now? My suggestions: maybe when Uncle Kracker (basically a Kid Rock coattailer)'s career took off? Or, and this is the one I like, when Kid Rock recorded a duet with Sheryl Crow for country radio that may have been moderately successful at the time but basically de-balled him for life AND, in retrospect, was desperate and, hey, NOT GOOD. The parallels with the "big" Villanueva (or as Hot Rod Hundley used to call him Villavanovia) and Gordon signings are too good to pass up.

Win Watch (the morning after)

Well, that was quick:

one back spasm, a Pau-less night, and a date with the Spurs later and the Lake Show are 29-9.

Bill Simmons (whose Book of Basketball I am devouring right now, much to the neglected chagrin of my wife) put the Bulls 72-win season as one of the unbreakable records and- with two very stacked, very motivated teams going for it and failing this season- I think he might be right.

Maybe we should call this Loss Watch instead. Because, for the Lakers, we just have to watch for a couple more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Win Watch

With players' preseason predictions (in some cases- Mr. Wallace- overt and other cases- Mr. Artest and your backwards Number of Wins- less so) in mind, let's look at how that hubris is shaking out for L.A. and Boston.

Boston already has 10 losses (as does Cleveland), which is nothing to be ashamed of by any means. Unless, of course, you had the 72-Win Bulls in your sights. In which case, all you have to do is win the remainder of your games.

If that doesn't pan out, Boston, you can still shoot for the second best regular season record of all time (1971-72 Lakers' 69-win season).

At 19-8, the Kobes have a better shot. They can afford TWO losses between now and the end of the regular season (or three losses to tie it up with their 71-72 counterparts). Which should be a zen-like cakewalk given the lack of injuries, trade rumors that are bound to destroy Bynum's toughness, and the inevitable Kardashian disruptions.

Chicago, in their enchanted season, had 60 wins by the time that 8th loss crept around (with 14 games to play). I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that neither Wallace nor Artest is gonna see their predictions come true.

I know: ballsy call on my part.

Jazz Beat Heat


Utah turns down the Heat


Miami wades to road loss


Miami wades unsuccessfully through Utah winter


Boozer's try out goes well


Charlie T's team loses to Spike's team


Charlie T looks at flying buttresses while favorite team gets flying buttresses kicked


Heat go cold vs Jazz


Heat glad to go home to warm Miami

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Remember these posts, when we basically said that- until the Wizards (horrible name) change back to the Bullets (good name that wasn't so great in the Marion Berry/The Wire era)- the curse would continue?

Well, how appropriately poetic are the latest DC developments?

We speculated that the usual injuries and bad luck would upend this year's Wizards, but ACTUAL BULLETS? (OK. Guns. But still.) Amazing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spike's Top 10ish Albums of 2009

After a list (ridiculous, ambitious, incomplete, shamefully impulsive and simultaneously cautious, marginally regrettable, yet still somewhat beloved) of 200ish, 10ish should be sweet summer breeze, right? No. I can agonize over just about anything. My ever-shifting Netflix queue is proof positive of that*. I take comfort in knowing that Bill Simmons** had to write 700+ pages about basketball and include not just the top 96 players in NBA history but also the snubs and shouldas and all that. Will this look a lot like Charlie T's? Probably. But we are friends. We decided to start a blog together, after all. All that aside, here is my late Best of 09:


10. Thao- Know Better, Learn Faster

Maybe my favorite guitarist of the year. A real quirky, squirrelly approach to playing that doesn't settle into the usual Hotel Cafe strummy girl style (which I can also be a fan of). The way this album manages to be both happy and bummed out at once really sticks with me. "Sad people can dance too" is the mission statement we hear before the last song. "You have so much information, but you only know why not."

9. Sparklehorse + Danger Mouse- Dark Night Of The Soul

I went to my favorite record store to buy this and all there was was a David Lynch photo book with a blank CD in it that said "For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.." I didn't use it as I willed nor even buy it because a) I'm stupid, b) David Lynch is on my Respect But Keep At Arms Length list, and c) I didn't get it. Danger Mouse is everywhere these days, but my two favorite releases of his (this and The Grey Album) aren't even really releases. I know Dark Was The Night is getting a lot of credit (including on this very blog) for its indie marriages this year, but you can't sleep on Mark Linkous bringing in:

James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt (may he rest in peace, that beleaguered national treasure), David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.

And if it were just a bunch of cameos, it'd be one thing. It's not. The songs are great. The production is beautiful and glitchy and itchy and smooth. And perfect for the songs.

8a. (tie) The Swell Season- Strict Joy

Charlie T said it best: they could've made Once: The Sequel and they made the right choice not to. The fact that the album is still great and grew on me (which a lot of my all-time favorites had to) is a huge tribute to the band. And it only makes me want more. I don't think them making Twice would've made me wanna hear Thrice (the third record, not the band. NOTHING can make me want to hear Thrice except maybe Nickelback.)

8b. (tie) Laura Gibson- Beasts of Seasons

Is it cheating to have a tie? Maybe. Is it my blog? Yes (at least half of it and, today, with Charlie in Rotterdam, ALL of it is mine. Mine, mine, MINE). And I feel like Laura Gibson's follow up to If You Come To Greet Me has some ties to Strict Joy. To the Laura Gibson Novice, this and IYCTGM might sound really alike. But this album shows growth- new production touches, a little darker writing, more ambition- to the point that, again, it makes me want to hear how her sound will evolve next.

7. Dave Bazan- Curse Your Branches

Knocked me out. Honestly. I incorrectly ventured to guess that Bazan's best work was behind him (Why? Who knows? Why do we ever make stupid assumptions about people we don't even know?). And he floored me with "Please, Baby, Please" and "Bless This Mess." Bless this album for coming out this year and having the courage to grapple with faith and more.

6. Camera Obscura- My Maudlin Career

This album sounds like I hoped She & Him would: retro, hopeful, sad, sweet, nostalgic. Sometimes an album intersects with what your ears NEED to hear right at that moment. This one did just that. And her cute little accent doesn't hurt a bit.

5. David Rawlings Machine- A Friend of A Friend

It's only this low because it came out so late and I feared overrating it. Gillian Welch's partner made a record that I can't believe isn't on more end-of-year lists. The recording and performances are gorgeously raw, imperfect, lots of brushstrokes and globs of paint. I love it. The songs "Ruby", "Bells of Harlem" and "I Hear Them All" are songs that will take me into 2020.

4. Sara Watkins- s/t

"The girl from Nickel Creek?!?" It's not gonna win me any hipster points, but this album rules. Its playing is tasteful (from a who's who of the Largo scene), the originals are tight, the covers ("Pony" by Tom Waits, "Same Mistakes" by Jon Brion, for starters) are immaculate, the singing is soulful, and the production- by no less than John-Paul Jones- stays out of the way. If I could take her versions of Ray Davies' "I Go To Sleep" and Benmont Tench's "The Price" off of WPA's album, this record might rank even higher.

3. Fanfarlo- Reservoir

It was instantaneous. Like the first second I heard The Low Anthem (which we will get to). You didn't have to sell me on Fanfarlo at all. Did they sound a lot like The Arcade Fire? Yes. Did it matter? No. I just kept listening and listening. Was there a day after I bought the album that I didn't listen to "I'm A Pilot" at least once? No. Sweeping, dramatic, emotional, epic at times, quiet at others. And a debut album, you bastards. A DEBUT ALBUM!!!

2. The Avett Brothers- I and Love and You

I can't apologize enough for being this late to the Avett Brothers bandwagon. I turned my ankle. I scraped my knee. I nearly missed the wagon altogether. But I did it all with a wonder in my ears from the first line of "I and Love and You" through the end. Say what you will about Rick Rubin (and I hear some Avett purists decry the lack of banjo and rawness [which I don't hear]), but he makes his artists really pay attention to the song.

1. Megafaun- Gather, Form, & Fly

The most complete statement of an album- artistic, sprawling, cohesive, adventurous, raw, beautiful, boisterous, imperfect perfection, patient- I've heard in awhile. But, if you've read here before, you knew that. My review from earlier this year tells the story. I was surprised, reading it again, by how- in some instances- I feel like, in the midst of its superlatives, it's still an understated review. (And, yes, I realize that this order is different from the Top 200 list. If Pitchfork can do it, so can I.)


Sarah Sample- Born To Fly EP

I am biased because I know Sarah. But if Aquarium Drunkard can push J Tillman, I can push Sarah. It's a great album of songs played live, sung with conviction, written with wisdom and heart."Mercy Me" may be one of my favorite songs of the past 5 years.

Bon Iver- Blood Bank

On the strength of the title track alone.


Steve Earle- Townes

Take Townes Van Zandt songs and have Steve Earle sing them. Gold. The only misstep is the ridiculous Tom Morello "solo." Somebody shoulda apple-Z'd that to the darkest recesses.

Elvis Costello- Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane

I expected to like this album, but not love it like I did. A big EC fan, I don't follow him everywhere (don't own the Bachrach collab, for instance), but this was a real win for everyone who was open enough to accept that warble and snarl on top of bluegrass.

Wilco- (the album)

I have so much guilt about not including an album by my favorite band. But I had to be honest and I couldn't honestly tell you I listened to (or liked) this album more than any album on the list. Will it grow on me? They always do. Check back with me in 2020.

Joe Henry- Blood From The Stars

And completing the list of Artists On My Favorites List That I Snubbed This Year, Joe Henry. It really isn't fair to exclude somebody like Joe just because "it's not as good as Civilians" but I did. And, Joe, I am sorry. This album rules and has knocked me over several times this year. Above everyone, you might deserve the most apologies. "Channel" and "Truce" are killers.

Great Lake Swimmers- Lost Channels

Ditto to this release. Ongiara casts a long shadow and, initially, the relative glossiness (I mean, come on, it's not GLOSSY, it's just smoother than their previous recordings) poppiness didn't work for me. It did make a respectable end-of-year charge for the Top 10. Maybe if 09 had had a few more weeks...

Dan Auerbach- Keep It Hid

I can't defend the snub, but "Trouble Weighs A Ton" rules.


The Low Anthem- Charlie Darwin

A 2008 release (re-released in 09) that I worshipped in 2009. When my Top 5 started getting crowded, I conveniently fell back on the "Oh It's An 08 Release" excuse. So good.
Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I liked it, but- in the world of Sad People Can Dance too- I had to go with Thao, whose songs resonated with me when I didn't feel like dancing too. Phoenix only worked for me in a very specific mood.

Felice Brothers- Yonder Is The Clock

I hate to say this, especially about a Felice Brothers release, but it was almost too ragged with too many flubs. Would I say that about The Basement Tapes? No, but that's the Basement Tapes and its songs. I think my issue was that the songs weren't good enough to make the looseness and rough edges really sing.

Bowerbirds- Upper Air

Like Charlie T, the live show turned me off. But "Northern Lights" is an undeniably great tune.

Monsters of Folk

Underwhelming for all of the talent. I have, however, seen it on a ton of lists. So I will revisit with open ears.

Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavilion

Because it's not good.

* "Oooh. Ah. I dunno. Am I really gonna wanna watch the end of Mad Men Season 1 before I see the director's cut of Blade Runner? And why are we getting Once again? Oh because it rules. Should I move it higher? But I've never seen Fitzcarraldo. And shouldn't a movie I've never seen come before one I've seen a bunch and a director's cut and a TV show?" You get the idea. It should be fairly obvious that any time this blog stalls or gets bogged down in overthinking a concept (the New Dylan, album box scores), it's probably my fault and not Charlie T's.

** Lest anyone think I'm thieving the footnote idea from Simmons (who, it should be noted, did not invent them but is very, very good at them, prompting Malcolm Gladwell to proclaim him "master of footnotes"), I am actually stealing from Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace, whose footnotes I admired first. It's like Randy Newman said, "I'm sorry, honey. You're too late. I already ruined my life." Or something.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Top 200 Albums of The Decade (174-200ish)

174. Blitzen Trapper- Furr
A jazz drummer I know told me that one of his measures of great music is "could you play the melodies as jazz?" He said this whole album could be covered by The Bad Plus and would be righteous. I agree.
175. O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack
176. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton- Knives Don’t Have Your Back
177. Band of Horses- Cease To Begin
178. Queens of the stone age- Songs for the Deaf
The drumming! The stoner rock! The song "No One Knows"!
179. Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson- Rattlin' Bones
180. Eels- Souljacker
Fresh Feeling is one of the great songs out there. A rare exception to the "be careful using drum samples as they age crappily..." rule.
181. Wallflowers- Red Letter Deays
182. Ken Stringfellow- Touched/Soft Commands
183. Beta band- Hot Shots II
184. The Killers- Hot Fuss
185. At The Drive-In- Relationship of Command
186. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
187.Counting Crows- Hard Candy
Yeah, no one was saying I should buy this. But it's good and underrated. The background vocals and arrangements feel particularly retro and inspired.
188. Jay Farrar- Sebastopol/Terroir Blues
189.Madeline Peyroux- Careless Love
190. Fionn Regan- The End of History
191. Kanye West- The College Dropout
192. Kings of Leon- Only By The Night
Yes. I tried to resist, but Use Somebody and Sex On Fire? Those are good songs. Seriously.
193. Toronto Raptors

194. Taylor Swift
195. Madonna- Music

No, that's not 200 exactly. But with EASILY more than 5 fused albums (Sebastopol/Terroir Blues and Planatlanticism), we hit our mark. And, yes, we missed tons. Oh well. See you in 2020.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top 200 Albums of The Decade (129-173)

129. Leona Naess- Thirteens
130. Spoon- Kill The Moonlight
131. The Weakerthans- Reconstruction Site
132. Sarah Harmer- All of Our Names
133. Elliott Smith- From A Basement On A Hill
That this is his last statement still really hurts. That it is a beautiful, harrowing, hazy statement helps, though. If you can dig up "Coast to Coast" and the previously unreleased track "Abused," you'll get a real and difficult view of Smith's late mindset.
134. Calexico- Garden Ruin
Some people criticized the band's swerve away from the usual southwestern mariachi rock. I liked it better.
135. Innocence Mission- We Walked In Song
136. Sigur Ros- Takk Takk
137. Red House Painters- Old Ramon
138. Low- Drums & Guns
Was Breaker the best song of the decade? It was certainly up there.
139. Richard Buckner- Dents & Shells
140. Bob Dylan- Modern Times
141. The Hold Steady- Separation Sunday
142. The Hives- Veni Vidi Vicious
143. Over The Rhine- Ohio
144. Hem- Eveningland/Rabbit Songs (another condensing job)
145. Foo Fighters- One By One
146. Neil Finn- One All
147. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Baby 81
148. Feist- Let It Die
149. New Pornographers- Challengers
150. Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga…
151. The Cardigans- Super Extra Gravity
152. Freedy Johnston- Right Between The Promises
The previous decade was so amazing for Johnston that this great record somehow felt underwhelming.
153. Tom Waits- Alice
154. Band Of Annuals – Let Me Live
155. Ron Sexsmith- Retriever
156. The National- Alligator
157. Frou Frou- Details
Pre-OC Imogen Heap in a partnership that launched the Heap we know now.
158. Tegan & Sara- So Jealous
I know, I know, I know: it should be higher.
159. Cracker- Greenland
160. Erin McKeown- Grand
161. Grant Lee Phillips- Mobilize
I had tickets to see Grant Lee on this tour on 9/11. Obviously, he got stuck in Canada on a flightless day. But this album always brings back those doubt-ridden days. A lot better than Enrique Iglesias' "Hero" too.
162. Jenny Lewis- Acid Tongue
163. Patty Griffin- Impossible Dream
164. Dixie Chicks- Home/Taking The Long Way
I'd been guiltily listening for awhile, but the doc Shut Up And Sing finally pushed me over the edge.
165. Beck- Guero
166. Elvis Costello- When I Was Cruel
167. Neil Young- Prairie Wind
168. Kings of Leon- Youth & Young Manhood
169. Cat Power- The Greatest
170. Kathleen Edwards- Back To Me
171. Cracker- Forever
172. Kasey Chambers- Barricades & Brickwalls
173. Drive By Truckers- Dirty South/Blessing & A Curse

Top 200 Albums of The Decade (75-128)

53. Ryan Adams- (my own mix of Jacksonville/29/Cold Roses/Easy Tiger/Cardinology/Follow The Lights) again, taking some poetic license and creating greatness from the scattered moments of greatness. And, yes, I am fully aware that this is not in the spirit of "taking a work of art on its own merits." Sue me.


77. Avett Brothers- I and love and you

78. Megafaun- Gather Form & Fly

79. Low Anthem- OMGCD

All three of these hit high notes for me this year, but I'm hesitant to pull a Pitchfork and laud them as the greatest thing since (enter hipster record of note here).

80. White Stripes- White Blood Cells (too low? probably)

81. Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins- Rabbit Fur Coat

82. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah- s/t

didn't age like I hoped it would, but still a great album

83. David Gray- White Ladder

84. Rufus Wainwright- Poses

85. Norah Jones- Come Away With Me

86. Spoon- Gimme Fiction

87. Gillian Welch- Soul Journey

88. Sigur Ros- agaetis bjyrtjsfsdfsdf

89. My Morning Jacket- Z

90. Joe Henry- Civilians

91. Josh Rouse- Nashville

92. Tom Waits- Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards

93. M Ward- The Transfiguration Of Vincent

94. Beth Orton- Daybreaker

95. Jason Collett- Here’s To Being Here

I still love this record, but I may have overrated it in 08 for reasons unknown.

96. Ryan Adams- Gold

97. Jayhawks- Smile

98. Jay-Z/Danger Mouse- The Grey Album

Not a ton of more culturally relevant albums out there.

99. Damien Rice- O

100. Badly Drawn Boy- Hour Of The Bewilderbeast/About A Boy (liberties again.)

101. Regina Spektor- Begin To Hope

102. Ben Kweller- On My Way

103. White Stripes- Elephant

104. Travis- The Invisible Band

105. Aimee Mann- The Forgotten Arm

106. Mark Mothersbaugh- Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack

107. Sufjan Stevens- Illinoise

108. Sunfall Festival- Bang Bang Bang

109. Laura Gibson- If You Come To Greet Me

110. Dominic Moore Sings His Heart Out

111. Bob Dylan- Love & Theft

112. Wallflowers- Breach

113. Fleet Foxes- s/t

114. Retribution Gospel Choir- s/t

115. Josh Ritter- Hello, Starling

STILL TOO SOON TO KNOW albums part 2

4 more albums from 2009 that really hit me hard, but, again, I'm taking the safe route and letting time do what it does best: sift the pretenders out.

116. Fanfarlo- Resevoirs

117. David Rawlings Machine- Friend of a Friend

118. Sara Watkins- s/t

119. Sparklehorse- Dark Night of the Soul

120. Camera Obscura- My Maudlin Career

121. Ryan Adams- Love Is Hell pt1/2

122. Tim Easton- Break Your Mother’s Heart

123. Ben Folds- Rockin’ The Suburbs

124. Grant Lee Phillips- Virginia Creeper

125. Delgados- The Great Eastern

126. Ben Kweller- Ben Kweller

127. Shins- Chutes Too Narrow

128. Jayhawks- Rainy Day Music