Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Hate - Sports Special

Time once again for my Monday hate list. This week, in honor of the baseball playoffs about to begin (GO CUBS!), we're going with an all sports related list:

Public financed sports stadiums and the boobs who mindlessly cheer on the crooks who took their money. Watching the final game festivities at Yankee stadium, the way the announcers talked about the new stadium and the way the fans cheered the mention of it was mind-boggling. Most people around here are clueless about just how much the new Yankee Stadium is going to cost us. And how little it will end of costing the billionaires who own the team. But hey, we should all be helping the poor Yankees pay A-Rod $30 mil a year, right?

By the way, all you Yankee fans who were holding signs that said "The House That Ruth Built" that night, he didn't. The taxpayers built the first one, too.

Rally caps. To anyone who I've told that praying is the single biggest, stupidest waste of time and energy, I owe you an apology. I was wrong. It is definitely rally caps.

The idea of putting your hat on in as stupid of a way possible to give your team the good karma they need to make a comeback when they are losing late in the game...well, do I even have to finish that sentence?

Interleague play in Major League Baseball. OK, we've been doing this "experiment" for twelve seasons. Can we please stop now? Look, I know there is this argument that there is such big excitement with regional rivals being able to play each other, but once the novelty of the whole thing wore off it turns out it is just another series. And it gets in the way of how often a team plays the teams in the other divisions, which is a hell of a lot more important when it comes to deciding the best team in each league.

Besides, for every Mets-Yankees and Cubs-White Sox series, you also get handed Pirates-Royals and Reds-Mariners. And just how is that exciting?

And while we're at it...

The Wild Card and expanded playoffs in MLB. When this started in 1995 it took away one of my arguments of why baseball is such a better game than other American sports. After a 162-game season if you can't win your division, tough luck. No rewards for second place. Not only did this new system ruin any chance for any more of those great pennant races between two great teams and make the post-season way too long, but we also get some really weak-ass teams in the playoffs that shouldn't be there. It is only a matter of time we get a team with a losing record in the playoffs, as is so commonplace in basketball. (Why do they even have a regular season in the NBA when practically every team makes the playoffs?)

The Steinbrenner family. Just when you thought there couldn't possibly be a bigger prick in baseball than Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, along comes his son Hank. That whole family seems to have jackass in the genes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Album Review: Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

I've never made any secret of the fact that I think one of the two best bands to pop up on the scene this decade is The Dresden Dolls. (The other one is Rilo Kiley)

Certainly one of the most creative and unique bands to come around in a while, who else is doing "Brechtian punk cabaret" music?

With such a creative songwriting talent, I was looking forward to lead singer/piano player Amanda Palmer's solo album, the oddly titled Who Killed Amanda Palmer? Even more exciting, the album was to be produced by Ben Folds.

Unfortunately, as an album it is something of a disappointment despite some fantastic moments. At its best moments the record really flies with some great melodies, lyrics and imagery on tracks like Astronaut, Leeds United, the beautiful rocker Guitar Hero and my personal favorite, the wonderful teenage-viewpoint storytelling of Oasis.

But filled in between these tracks is the drudgery of songs like Ampersand and Blake Says, which were really surprising songs in the fact that I didn't think Amanda Palmer was capable of doing something so utterly boring.

These are not the worst moments on the album. Much worse than those is the really self indulgent cover of What's The Use Of Wond'rin from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel that makes one wonder what the hell the point is.

The album really bottoms out with the performance art-like opening of Strength Through Music, a song that is not half bad except for the fact that it begins with what must be the most ridiculously pretentious minute in the history of pop music.

Walking up to the line of self-indulgent pretentiousness without crossing over it is something The Dresden Dolls have been doing since their first record, but on this album Amanda takes the huge leap on more than one occasion on this record.

(To be sure, the Dolls cross that line on many occasions at their live shows, but they keep it in check on their albums)

The big question I have about this though is, why make this record? The sound is in no way a serious departure from that of her regular band. And when one half of that band is the best drummer in the business, why record tracks with Ben Folds at the kit?

In many ways, this album is a lot like The Dresden Dolls' most recent release, an album of outtakes called No, Virginia...

That one also suffers from a combination of great or really good tracks, including an awesome cover of Pretty In Pink, and a bunch of throwaways.

It's too bad. Take the best tracks of these two records and we would have had a really kick ass new Dresden Dolls album instead of a couple of mediocre CDs that require too much use of the skip button.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Newsman Hate

I've got just one thing I'm hating today, besides my mother. (Don't even get me started. I found out she believed and forwarded that awful email going around lying about what was in Michelle Obama's Princeton thesis, basically accusing Mrs. Obama of being a "black power" racist. It is one of the most disgusting things I've seen in all of the awful slander being thrown at that family. It looks like something written by the KKK)

But bitching about my mother will do none of us any good at this point, so I'll just stick with one item for today's hate list, which I'll also post over at my political co-blog.

Here's who I'm really annoyed with today:

Scott Pelley. The hiring of Pelley as a correspondent for 60 Minutes marked a low point for the news magazine, at least until they tragically let the fluffy Katie Couric sit at the adults' table.

Pelley's interview last night with John McCain was infuriating. He doesn't lob softball questions, he gently arcs badminton shuttlecocks at perfect spiking level.

As to be expected, McCain made sure to take every opportunity, no matter what the question was, to: a) Bring up his five years in a prison camp in Hanoi and: b) make false accusations about Barack Obama's record and his own record.

And what does Pelley do, especially when McCain tells lies about Barack Obama? He moves on to the next topic.

It's not like McCain said anything new that Pelley wasn't able to check on right away. McCain came out with all the same stupid talking points he's been saying for weeks now, stuff that Pelley could have easily had follow-up questions to challenge McCain on his claims.

McCain claims that Obama has never reached across the aisle to to work with the other party, despite there being a mountain of evidence to the contrary for both his time in the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate. Pelley says nothing.

McCain says Obama is the most liberal Senator based on "his voting record." It should have been pointed out that Obama was called that by a right-wing magazine attack machine, the same one that called Kerry the most liberal in 2004 (gee, what a coincidence), and that their survey has been easily discredited due to the fact that they just pick and choose which votes to count in the survey.

Hell, you wouldn't even have to go through all of that. Just mention that the U.S. Senate still includes both Bernie Sanders, a self-described Socialist, and Ted Kennedy to make the point that it is kind of a silly accusation.

But did Pelley do either?

Even in his own record McCain tells really big lies and Pelley can't bring himself to challenge the Senator. He asked McCain how his administration would be different from Bush's and two of the things he mentioned were torture and the 9/11 Commission recommendations.

Did Pelley then ask him why, if that were true, he has either voted "no" or not even voted every time the 9/11 Commission recommendations came before the Senate and that he also voted against the bill banning torture?

Do I have to answer that question for you?


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Anatomically Correct Dad

The wife and I were in the Poconos over the weekend, we got a free stay at an all-inclusive resort because she was invited to give a presentation. A bizarre experience this place, mostly because we felt like we were on the Love Boat in the middle of NE Pennsylvania, with all the activities, the assigned tables for meals and the REALLY HAPPY people that work there.

Maybe I'll expand on that some other time. This post is about something else I heard while I was there.

I used this trip as a chance to do some swimming and hot-tubbing since I don't often get to indulge in either.

I was in the men's locker room getting changed into my swimsuit for my second trip to the pool that day when a guy roughly my age walked in with his young son. They were just finishing their trip to the pool.

The kid was about 4 years-old, an age when parents are generally trying to guide their kids in doing things instead of doing everything for them. And his dad was really laid back and patient, asking his son if he wanted to take a shower or just change into his clothes without rinsing off.

After he asked the kid about three or four times, his son decided he just wanted to dry off and put his clothes on. So the father said OK and started instructing his son on what to do.

"Take off your trunks and dry yourself with the towel. Make sure you get all over."

I think the kid then started to put the towel down without being sufficiently dry.

"No, make sure you dry off everywhere son. Make sure you get your testicles."

Man, how awesome is that dad? A parent that actually uses the correct terminology for genitalia with his kid.

I have always been annoyed with parents that use silly terms for genitals when talking to their kids, like "privates" or "thingy." (The latter is an especially annoying way of doing it.)

It was so refreshing to hear a parent not treat the right word for his kid's genitals as if it were the same as the vulgar term for it. Too many parents are the type that are aghast if you say something like "vagina" in front of their child and act like you just said the dirtiest word in the world. This is why Eve Ensler had so many problems advertising her play The Vagina Monologues in smaller-town newspapers.

So kudos to this dad. I don't think I knew what a testicle was until I was in 8th grade. I learned all the other words (both childish and vulgar) for girls' and boys' equipment by that age. Just not the correct ones.

I seem to remember that by dad somehow thought that "nut sack" was a good term to use for my testicles. And I'm pretty sure that my penis was referred to as either my "thing" or a "wiener."

When we were kids, my sister had a "coochie."

I'm pretty sure that's the word my mother still uses for vagina.

This is what I learned to call genitalia growing up.

How dumb is that?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Hate - Word Special

Today I was thinking of words I hate. Here are a few:

Arguably. This is one of the absolutely worst words around, and newspaper writers seem to love to use it. Look, either something is or isn't the best, most, top, strongest, whatever; or it isn't. Don't be such a wus and and just commit to an opinion.

Elitist. Absolutely the dumbest of all the insults being thrown around this political season. It is usually a way to malign someone for being too smart. This year it has taken on an extra special meaning: Uppity nigger.

Belittle. I gotta say, I don't really have a good argument for hating this word. It is just that my mother used this one waaaaaayyy too much when we were growing up. Anytime you said anything that she saw as a criticism, she would say you were "belittling" her. It was belittle this and belittle that all the time from that crazy loon. Would it have killed her to buy a dictionary and learn the word condescend (which is what she really meant much of the time) or maybe disparage, just to mix things up a little bit?

Folk or Folks. Don't get me wrong, when put in front of something like "music" or "art" folk is a perfectly good word. But as Susan Jacoby asks in her new book, The Age of American Unreason, when exactly did we all suddenly become folk instead of people? This has become the way to refer to the general populace, as "folks" rather than people or citizens. Listening to Barack Obama, former president of the Harvard Law Review, use the word folks all the time makes my ears hurt every time he does it. I know he's trying to appeal to the moron masses, but can't he stop dumbing down his speech and just refer to everyone as people? He's running for President of The United States, not the Sheriff of Mayberry.

(Jacoby makes a great point in her book by asking her reader to imagine Lincoln at Gettysburg saying "Government of the folk, by the folk, for the folk..." Just points out the idiocy of the whole thing, doesn't it?)

Numb-nuts. Of all the childish names my brother called me growing up, this one has never made any sense top me. Why is it an insult to have chilly testicles? I'm not sure he even knew what he was calling me. It had the word nuts in it so I guess that was good enough for the simpleton that is my older brother.

Antidisestablishmentarianism. Is this word actually used in any way other than as the answer to a fourth grade trivia question?


Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Hate With A Touch Of Love

All right, time for my weekly hate list. But this week I'll wrap it up with something that I'm just lovin' right now

But first, the hate:

New York Parents. It pains me that I'm soon going to be a member of this group. There seems to be a narcissistic disease that kicks in when you have a small child in this city. They are one of the most annoying things about living in this city. If they are not running you down on the sidewalk with their over-sized strollers, they are pushing their kid out into oncoming traffic while talking on their cell phone. When their kid needs his hat straightened they'll park the stroller across the the entire sidewalk, because pulling it to the side is just too much fucking trouble, while they take their precious time tending to the little one. The rest of the world, namely the people trying to use the sidewalk, be damned.

They don't even need to have strollers to block the sidewalk. If you live in this city you have to try to make sure you don't walk by one of the schools when it's about to let out. I think every single parent and their nanny is camped outside on the sidewalk waiting for their rug rat. And by camped out I mean they are standing around drinking their Starbucks and blocking the sidewalk. And walking their kids home, oh boy. Just today I got stuck behind two mothers walking their broods home, about five kids stretched out across the entire sidewalk between the two moms, walking as slow as Tim Conway's old man character from the Carroll Burnett Show. I had shown up at the corner, from a different direction, at almost the same time as them. One of the mothers looked straight at me, saw me with my rolling grocery basket, and instead of letting me go first, made their kids jump ahead real quick to get in front of me.

So there I was stuck behind little kids and moms side by side like the Monkees, walking at a snail's pace, with me unable to get around. Both mothers each looked back and saw me, neither made an attempt to let me go around. Wouldn't want to do anything that might disturb their precious babies.

Getting back to my building, a place crawling with annoying parents, I have to put up with kids who get on the elevator and press several floors, as they are going through that fascination with buttons phase.

Their clueless parents find them so cute. I do not. I find stopping at four extra floors where no one gets on or off something different than cute.

These are just some of the examples of dealing with the most self-centered group of people in all of Manhattan on a daily basis.

I hope to god there is a vaccine for this plague.

Unsolicited Advice. Man I've been getting a lot of this lately. With my wife expecting a baby next month, I have had a steady stream of pointless pointers from so many people even though I never asked the question.

There is something about so many parents that they seem to think just because they have a kid they know exactly what you are experiencing and exactly the "right" choices you should make. About everything. Geeze, I managed to knock up my wife without anyone else's help, I think between the two of us and some classes and books by actual professionals we can figure this out.

Oh, and I don't count those fucking hippie "doulas" among the list of professionals. The most fraudulent profession since palm reader and Cato Institute fellow.

OK, I got that off my chest, now for the thing that has just been making me giddy lately:

The Yankees Sucking. Opening the sports section today was such a pleasure. The dreaded New York Yankees are in fourth place after losing last night. Hehehehehehehe-hahahahahaha-hohohohohohohoh!

The only thing better than your own team winning is the Yankees losing. Knowing that Jeter and Rodriquez are going to miss the playoffs altogether this year is soooooooo satisfying. It more than makes up for the fact that my Atlanta (racist mascot)s are sucking hard this season.

There IS joy in Mudville.

My Yankee-fan brother-in-law will now boycott my blog for, oh, about the next week or so. Sorry man, had to be done. To awesome to ignore.


Friday, September 05, 2008

The Moment Of Realization

I spent almost the entire day yesterday looking up , researching and calling pediatricians. I thought finding a decent dentist for myself was hard, trying to find a doctor for your unborn child is mind-numbing experience.

Like most New Yorkers, we wanted to find a pediatrician within walking distance of home, just like the deli or the natural foods store. The problem with that for us is that we live on the Upper East Side/Lenox Hill. It is really hard to find a good peds doc in this neighborhood that is taking new patients. This area is just crawling with small children and the good pediatricians on our insurance plan are all booked. Or, even more frustrating when calling them, we find out that there are several listed on our plan that no longer accept new patients from our specific insurance plan, only taking it for continuing patients.

After hours of looking onto alternatives in our neighborhood and finding nothing but doctors who didn't take our insurance, had really bad reviews from parents or went to questionable foreign medical schools, I was left with one choice in the neighborhood. The local big university hospital peds clinic.

Those of you who have gone to these kind of places for your own doctor know how frustrating they can be. The staff at these institutions is usually made up of a bunch of fat women more interested in what kind of donuts are in the break room than actually helping patients. These are the kind of places that you call and tell them you are peeing blood and shooting fire out of your rectum and they tell you there is an opening in about three-and-a-half weeks. And then when you are there you have to wait for 2 hours until the doctor finally sees you. But if you are five minutes late yourself they tell you that you have to reschedule.

I hate dealing with these institutions. The only reason I see a doctor at one is because I don't need to go there very often. But do you know how often you have to take a kid to the pediatrician in the first couple of years of their life? I'm looking at eight damn doctor's visits minimum over the next year alone, I'm not spending them with grouchy women with powdered sugar on their face.

So we finally found a good place, we think, on the Upper West Side. Yes, that would be the other side of town, for you non-New York people.

This whole episode caused what would be considered my first parental headache. I didn't think that would come until she was a teenager.

Then my wife got home and had with her our first delivery of the eco-friendly G-Diapers, in a box almost as big as my wife. Which is about a week's worth of diapers. I just recently learned how much newborns poop, which by my calculations seems to be about their entire body weight every single day.

Looking at the cute little orange, reusable liner, chemical free, biodegradable insert diapers, it suddenly dawned on me, "HOLY CRAP! This is really happening."

This self-centered, lazy, overly-opinionated, and driftless ass-hole is going to be responsible for another life soon. A really small, helpless life. Really damn soon.



Thursday, September 04, 2008


Hey everyone!

Since I never really wanted to let this blog become a totally political place on the web, I don't want to pigeonhole myself, yet I really want to rant a lot about politics lately with the election coming up, I now have another outlet. A couple of guys I know in Seattle and I have started a group blog to be the place where we put most of our political stuff during this election season.

We are calling it The Savvy, The Extreme & The Idealist. We'll leave it to you to figure out who is what in our trio.

Anyway, give us a visit and please leave comments. It should be a good way to vent about all the crap that will be happening over the next two months.

My first post is up now, as well as the Beigey's first one and the welcome message.

Game on!


Monday, September 01, 2008

Monday Hate List

Oh man, I forgot it was Monday today. Hopefully I'll get this in under the wire...

I have only one thing I'm hating today:

Hypocrisy. I know, I know, professing a distaste for hypocrisy does not exactly put me in a class by myself. But with the general election season officially underway we are going to be seeing a lot of it in the coming months, and it has already begun.

John McCain - a misogynistic pig who is against reproductive rights and equal pay for women, and is well known for telling mean-spirited jokes making fun of the looks of women he finds unattractive, including innocent teenage girls - chooses a woman as his running mate and suggest that women should vote for him because those dirty Democrats are sexist for not nominating Hillary. The woman he picked, someone who belongs to the oxymoronic organization Feminists For Life, paraded her family around the stage at the rally to announce her nomination. Like all politicians, she was using her family to advance her career. But then it is suddenly discovered that her 17-year-old is five months pregnant and now Governor Palin is requesting that we respect the privacy of her children.

Excuse me, but if you start off by not respecting the privacy of your own children, you don't get to then demand it from everyone else. (And don't even get me started on how the press has so far decided to ignore the irony that Palin is against comprehensive sex education - the usual crap about it encouraging underage sex - and praises the virtue of abstinence-only sex ed. That's a blog for another day)

Not that the other side doesn't pull the same silliness. Barack Obama let his daughters be interviewed by some fluffy magazine and he later decided he didn't like them being exposed like that, so he declared them off-limits from now on. That didn't stop him from using his cute-as-a-button little girls and their precious charms at the convention for his own political purpose.

Sorry, but you don't get it both ways. Use your family to sell yourself and your agenda, all bets are off. If the Bush girls get to do their little giggly introduction of Dad at a political event, then Dad doesn't get to bitch about the picture of them falling down drunk at a bar popping up in the paper.

(And again, it's a different issue, but Palin's daughter as an example of the fallacy of her sex education agenda wouldn't be off limits either way)

You either want to keep your family life private or you don't. Pick one and stick to it.