Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Six Demon Bag

The floor shook. I mean, it was really shaking. It was buckling so bad I thought there was a real chance we were all going to fall through and land on the patrons of the bar downstairs. A dancing banana was trying to start a mosh pit. Earlier in the evening, Acosta was trying to bum cigarettes and we suggested the guy in the banana costume, but that idea was quickly shot down as his outfit didn’t have pockets. But just ten minutes ago, we saw him smoking a Marlboro.

Everyone played the drums. Everyone. The lead singer ran around stage and was tapping out the beat against the scaffolding. And as we stomped our feet or danced or jumped up and down or whatever… the floor held up. Even as we felt it buckle beneath our feet.

One of the joys of liking small, indie rock bands is that you have moments like these. When you drag a few friends to see a band they’ve either never heard of, or only heard of vaguely all those times when they are politely ignoring you. And then they come, and the band is every bit as good as you promised. And they are sending text messages to their friends to go check out Man Man. Why? Because Man Man is friggin’ awesome.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Free Tibet (Made In China)

OK, is it wrong that I find this really, really funny? That those "Free Tibet" flags that people wave to protest China are actually made in China. How great is that? Who says China isn't ready to compete in the global capitalist market place?

Which begs the question: since the Tibetan flag is illegal in China, does that mean all of those factory workers are now going to prison. Because that's not the sort of thing I'd put past the Chinese government.

And for the record, I honestly could give a fig about Tibet. I have absolutely no emotional energy tied up in the fate of tibet. It's hard for me to conjure a topic I care less about.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Yes, that is a picture of a dog peeing on Natalie Portman. Apparently, everyone is a critic. Then again, this is what you get for making The Other Boleyn Girl. I love the internet sometimes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Work And Such

Not much to report. Just that it’s amazing how much of this job is ebb and flow. There will be a second I am scrounging for work to do, and ten minutes later, I have a million things in my inbox.

Mental note: must destroy inbox.

Monday, April 21, 2008

God Stuff

Pope Benedict XVI made his first trip to America this weekend, so now seems as good as time as any to re-evaluate my faith. Being a Catholic over the last ten years hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk, as we’re not exactly having our best decade. Osler wondered aloud on his blog what excuse people have for not going to church, and I can only give him mine: anger.

That’s right, I’ve been angry with the Catholic Church. Not God, mind you, just the church. I don’t think it was God who was commanding priests to abuse little kids, and it certainly wasn’t God who tried to cover it up. What got me so angry was the church’s refusal to just come out and defrock the offending priests and lead the investigation. Instead they stonewalled the victims of abuse. And that’s just cowardice. It went from a scandal of “a few bad apples” to an institutional problem. How hard is it to say “Priests shouldn’t rape anybody. But especially kids”? Not very. In fact, it should go without saying.

And then Pope John Paul died and Cardinal Ratzinger became Benedict XVI. And I felt like I was getting slapped in the face by the church. Were they this out of touch? Or am I just out of touch with my own church? Ratzinger was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 25 years. It’s a very old office in the Catholic Church, and you might know it by its original name: the Office of the Inquisition. His responsibility was to stomp out any deviation from Orthodoxy and, incidentally, to investigate and monitor the priesthood. So he’s the guy ultimately responsible for the Church’s policy on trying to keep the sex scandal confidential. Which didn’t exactly endear me to the new pope.

But more than that, he’s one of the leaders of the conservative wing of the Church. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I’m a firm believer that one of the great things the Church has done in the past fifty years was Vatican II, which was the great liberalization of the Church. And one of the great legacies of JPII was the way he reached out to the world beyond Europe and to the other religions, particularly Judaism. The Catholic Church’s history regarding the Jews is not what you may call stellar, so actually apologizing for the Holocaust was a huge step for Catholics. And I thought that Ratzinger was a symbolic turning away from all of this progress. I stopped going to church because I didn’t feel like the Church had much to say to me anymore. And when I did go, I felt distant and closed off from God.

And who did that hurt? Well, me. So, as we enter Pentecost, it’s time to be open to the Holy Spirit again. It’s a fitting time for renewal, as it’s one of my favorite times of the Christian calendar. It celebrates the birth of the church, so it’s one of those holidays that celebrates the very people doing the celebration. And it’s been remarkably resistant to commercialization. It’s a true holiday in the sense that it is a Holy Day.

I went to my new Church this weekend. And the priest talked about the very things I was angry about and admitted he was angry, too. But part of being a Catholic is to be an example of Christian ideals: humility, faith, patience, and forgiveness. It’s time to forgive.

Pope Benedict, when he spoke at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this weekend, used the analogy that we are like the stained glass windows. From the outside, we are dim and dark, but when we enter, the glass is vibrant and colorful from the light shining through. We need to go out and shine God’s light. It was a message from my pope.

And I felt moved by the Holy Spirit.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Becoming Texan

I am one step closer to becoming a Texan. Not that I’m there yet, and I still am under a strict “howdy” ban, but I’m making progress. I finally registered my car in Texas, got a Texas driver’s license, and registered to vote. According to the state of Texas, I’m a citizen of this fine state.

Now I know that doesn’t actually count, so I’m thinking of the things I still need to do before I can actually call myself a Texan:

1) Wear a cowboy hat without looking like a moron.

2) Beat up someone from Oklahoma.

3) Learn the words to “Deep In the Heart of Texas”.

4) Attend a Pat Green concert.

5) Explain to a total stranger that Texas can secede from the union at any time.

6) Make an impassioned defense to a total stranger that Texas is the greatest state in the country.

7) Actually mean what I say in #6.

8) Go to Lubbock. If a Texan won’t do it, who will?

9) Learn to say the “t” in Baltimore. I’m never gonna have a Texas twang, but dropping Baw’lmer-ese would be a good start.

10) Learn how to navigate downtown Dallas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tax Day

My boss isn’t just a lawyer, he’s also a CPA. Which means yesterday was sort of like the Worst Day Ever for him, only it repeats itself every year. Of course, when he was finishing up those tax returns, someone had to bring them all to the post office to fight off the long lines and the protesters (honest to God… protesters, apparently some people aren’t big fans of Alexander Hamilton’s sage words that taxes are the price of ordered society). Of course, it fell to the new guy to drive to the one post office in Dallas open after 7 PM. Not like he just moved to Dallas and has no idea where anything is, so he ended up driving around looking for, and I quote, “a big flag” for about half an hour. Yeesh, I’d hate to be that guy, he got totally screwed…

... oh wait. Damn it.

Paul says it’s good for me. He told me I haven’t been complaining enough, which is the mark of a lawyer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I ran my car into a post. Not intentionally, mind you. And I wasn’t going very fast, but I did scratch up the side of my car. Stupid parking garages.

I’m like a moleman. I just go from underground parking garage to underground parking garage. Every so often I surface and see the sun. One of these days, I might actually go outside. I hear that’s what all of the cool kids are doing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Making Gretzky's Head Bleed

It’s tough goings being a hockey fan deep in the heart of Texas. Not that it’s difficult to get games, as I’ve been able to plunk in front of my TV and just veg out. But it’s tough when you watch a truly outstanding game and there’s no one to rant about it to. Luckily I have this space.

I’m kind of an obsessive Flames fan, for no particular reason other than I liked it back in the day when Jim Peplinski would make Gretzky’s head bleed. So, I settled in last night to watch the Flames play the Sharks, and precisely two and half minutes into the game, the Flames were getting pasted 3-0. I know my readership is not full of hockey experts, but you can figure out that being down three goals in the first three minutes is pretty bad. Then the announcer said something so stupid I can’t believe he is paid money to talk into a microphone: “An early 3-0 lead is the worst lead in hockey.”

Let’s review. The Sharks were averaging just over a goal a minute, which means if they kept up that pace, they were gonna win 60-0. The Flames pulled their starting goalie, Mikka Kiprusoff, one of the best goalies on the planet to put in Curtis Joseph, a guy who hasn’t been good since before anyone had even heard of Britney Spears. The C of Red, the affectionate name for the Flames home crowd which has a reputation for being the rowdiest in hockey, sat in stunned silence. An average NHL goalie allows less than 3 goals per game, and the Sharks goalie, Nabahkov, actually IS the greatest goalie on the planet right now, and he allows about two goals per game. Pretending a 3-0 lead was anything other than an excuse to start watching Deadliest Catch was just silly.

And then this happened:

Now, there’s a lot of cool things about that hit, other than the fact Patrick Marleau ended up looking like Tina Turner after she disagreed with Ike. The guy who made that hit is Corey Sarich, who I believe is the worst player in hockey right now. He’s spent most of this series looking like Bambi on ice, getting abused by Sharks forwards as they take easy shots on goal. Sarich went from lousy waste of space to the Guy Who Saved the Series in the amount of time it took him to break some dude’s face. Even better, the Sharks retaliated and somehow the Flames ended up on the power play. Which they immediately scored on. Somehow, a dirty hit by the last guy on the bench was a penalty on the other team. I would like to say I don’t condone dirty play, but that would be a lie. So I loved every second of it.

The Flames then improbably rallied back from the deficit, and won the game 4-3. The game-winning goal was scored by Owen Nolan, who used to play for the Sharks. So, sometimes the moron in the booth is right. Apparently, a 3-0 lead is the worst in hockey.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Clearing Out The Inbox

And so it ends.

Today I received an email informing me the last of my law school grades have finally been posted. In an odd twist, I got an A. Yeah, great. I get an A when I really don't need it. Thanks, BLS. Actually, this was one of my best quarters.

C'est finis. Law school is officially over.

Opening Day, Sort Of

Yesterday was Opening Day in Texas, as the Rangers played their first home game of the season. Their opponent? None other than my beloved Baltimore Orioles, who brought the beatdown, 8-1. Now, as part of my move to Dallas, I am making a concerted effort to root for Dallas sports franchises and thereby become a real Dallas resident.

Cowboys? A classic franchise with the added benefit of irritating my brother, a diehard Redskins fan. I’m in.

Mavs? Well, they seem to be the most popular team which actually plays in Dallas proper. And the arena is pretty close to my apartment. Besides, I like Dirk Nowitizki. I’m in.

Stars? Dallas needs hockey fans. As someone who actually knows what forechecking and backchecking are, and the difference between the two, I think I qualify. Despite the fact I think Mike Modano is a sissy, I’m in.

Rangers? Nothing personal, but I can’t give up my O’s. Ten straight losing seasons, and you’d think I’d be willing to jump ship, particularly since the owner is one of the few people on earth more irritating than Donald Trump. But I’ve been hardened. Nothing makes a more passionate fans than years and years of bitter defeats. And trust me, I’ve got bitterness. Just ask me about Jeffery Maier. I dare ya.

There are teams I like, and I’m adding the Dallas teams to the “like” list. Heck, I’d even consider myself a genuine fan. But there is only one professional sports team I truly love: the Orioles. The fact that they currently stink right now, and they are owned by a guy bent on the destruction of a once proud franchise actually pains me. Sports franchises are a bizarre public trust, and the Orioles seem bent on violating that trust. But I can’t give them up.

So, here’s 10 reasons to root for the Orioles for despite yet another losing season:

1. Miguel Tejada doesn’t play for the O’s anymore. Neither does Jay Gibbons. Hopefully, they spent their multimillion dollar contracts on some good lawyers who will help keep them out of prison for purchasing all of those illegal steroids. Good riddance.

2. George “Shutdown” Sherrill. The O’s have a new closer every year, understanding there’s no point getting a top closer if there are no leads to protect. Shutdown Sherrill is a freshly minted closer with a cool nickname in tow.

3. Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and Nick Markakis. For the first time in a decade, our starting outfield doesn’t suck. In fact, Luke Scott is the old man of the group, so we can actually expect these guys to get better. What a novel concept. Getting guys when they are still improving instead of purchasing their bloated corpse for ten times market value.

4. Scott Moore is slated to start all three games in the Texas series. He’s also slated to play three different positions (3rd base, 2nd base, and 1st base). I love super utility guys. It’s like Little League.

5. Actual prospects! Adam Jones was the jewel of the Mariners system, and he’s now our centerfielder. No pitcher on the Opening Day roster has more than 15 wins in their entire career, which isn’t that bad of a sign since it’s because they are all youngsters, not piles of garbage (except Cabrera, who is both young and terrible – now that Gibbons has been cut he takes over the mantle of The Oriole Who I Hate). And there’s even more help on the horizon, especially in the form of catcher Matt Wieters, one of the top prospects in all of baseball. This means that while we may suck this year, this is bona fide hope we’re getting better.

6. Habit.

7. The last chance to see B-Rob before he inevitably gets traded to a contender. Brian Roberts has been the rarest of Orioles the last few years: a young, talented, and exciting player. The O’s have already shipped off our best player, Eric Bedard, so really it’s only a matter of time before some team clinging to some delusional playoff dream overpays us for a few month rental of our All-Star second baseman. Operators are standing by. And trade speculation is fun.

8. Camden Yards. Still pretty.

9. The flurry of “Why Not?” emails flooding my inbox from fellow delusional Oriole fans. Kevin Millar guaranteed a World Series this year. Why not?

10. Rooting for the Orioles shows character. Anyone can root for the Yankees. Rooting for the Yankees or the Red Sox shows you are a soulless front runner, and you are going to hell. You probably cheer for the hunter to kill Bambi’s mom, too.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Racism and Basketball

One of the great things about sports is that it is pretty close to a true meritocracy. No one cares about anything except how well you perform, and there is an army of statisticians and guy with cameras on hand to record your every move. Sure, some guys get to rest on their reputations (Brett Favre, Derek Jeter), but despite the fact athletes are grossly overpaid, they can point to verifiable facts of what they contribute to a team’s success, and therefore their bottom line.

On the other hand, most sportswriting is downright awful. OK, that’s not entirely true, it just seems that way. But there is a vast array of code words which do nothing but hide the author’s true intent. “Professional” or “hard-working” usually means a white guy. “Scrappy” means a white guy who isn’t any good. “Athletic” means black. And I think it should be legal to punch anyone in the face who uses the lazy analogy of the 1980s Celtics-Lakers rivalry as a shorthand on race relations. Besides, it’s an analogy which doesn’t work for me, given that I rooted for the Sixers in the ‘80s because they had Dr. J.

I bring this up because Memphis is in the NCAA title game tonight and I couldn’t be happier about. Not because I care about Memphis, I really don’t. But we’ve been inundated by columns and talking heads talking about how Memphis is going to lose because they don’t play “fundamentals” and they rely on their “athleticism” and that they lack “fundamentals”. And it’s all a bunch of crap.

I challenge you to watch Derrick Rose play, and say he lacks fundamentals. And while only a moron would say he’s not athletic, looking at the way he can distribute the ball and his creativity in the air, he’s relying on more than just his athletic gift. He’s certainly hard-working. You don’t get that good without hour and hours of practice every day. It’s insulting to call him and his teammates merel;y “athletic” and they have made a mockery of the criticism in all of their press conferences. Coach John Calipari has pointed this out by claiming he’s just throwing them out there and letting them play and he’s not coaching at all. Which is a lie. Memphis is extraordinarily well-coached and they have a deep rotation of players. It’s insulting to everyone to call them simply athletic.

Hell, it’s insulting to their opponents as well. UCLA’s best player is Kevin Love, who has been described as hard-working and a “student of the game” despite his “limited athleticism”. Any guesses as to what color his skin is? Just as Rose is as hard-working and diligent as Love, Love is every bit as athletic as Rose. Sure, he doesn’t have the same aerial skills, but he’s dominant under the rim. Dorsey, Memphis’ big man, gave him the back-handed compliment that Love is a good passer, but Love IS a good passer and he also scores 20 points per game. That’s two things Dorsey can’t do (though Dorsey is ten times the defensive player Love is).

You’d think we’d be past this point. That we wouldn’t evaluate players and teams simply on melanin. But apparently not. So, I can’t wait for tonight’s game. And I’ll be rooting for Memphis to cut down the nets, if only to cast one small blow against narrow minded sportswriters (nothing against Kansas, a team I picked to win the tourney in my bracket pool – against Memphis). Just because they have tattoos and corn-rows, it doesn’t mean they can’t play fundamentals. And it doesn’t mean they can’t whip your ass.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Le Cage Aux Folletes

I was out at a restaraunt the other day, and the table next to me was full of drag queens. Now, like everyone else, I love drag queens .* There's something about a guy who completely rejects the social norms, but does so in a fun, kitchzy way. I mean, there's two ways to go with alienation, and it's a lot better if you just go fabulous. It's not hurting anybody, and almost everyone thinks it's kind of funny. And I like Eddie Izzard as much as the next guy (perhaps even more), but he's an "executive transvestite", not a drag queen. Drag queens take it the additional step and have ended up being accepted as outsiders in their own way. And that's pretty cool.

But midway through their meal, one of the party got up and went to the bathroom, which begged the qustion: does drag queen use the men's or the women's room?

Turns out, it's the men's room.

*NOTE FROM MANAGEMENT - Oh come on. Admit it. You liked The Birdcage.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Two Great Tastes which do Not Go Great Together

The Black Keys are one of my favorite bands, and they just hooked up with uber-producer Dangermouse and put out a critically acclaimed new album. And the general ommentary is entirely correct: Dangermouse has deepened the band's sound and a fuller and cleaner presentation. There's more layers to the music now, and the album is by far the best-produced and best sounding album they have put out by far. It's their most varied and richest work.

It's also their worst album.

nothing against Dangermouse, who is really good at what he does. Hell, he's so talented he made the Gorillaz BETTER. He's earned every bit of his reputation, and he did what he does on this album.

It misses the whole point. The Black Keys are great because they make urgent, violent, and snesual blues songs. Their albums sound like they were recorded on an eight-track in the basemement of a tire warehouse. Their music is dirty, ugly, and urgent. That's what makes it good. Pretty-ing up the sound and adding all of these cool instruments misses the point.

Some great music isn't supposed to be pretty. It grabs you by the throat and shakes you until you stand up and dance or sing along. I like the idea of moving in new directions, but do you know how hard it is to find a good blues rock album that's actually fun?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My Empty Apartment

I have a job, which pays me well more than I am worth. I have a very pretty apartment with all sorts of cool amenities I don't need. But I have not been paid yet, which means I haven't been able to buy things. Like furniture.

So, right now, I'm sitting in a folding lawn chair in the middle of my apartment since I don't own a couch. Theoretically, I can afford furniture. Just not until pay day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reporting In From Dallas

OK, there's been a lack of posting here as I moved across the great wasteland and into my new digs in Dallas. After a long fight with Time Warner, I now have cable TV and internet. Not in time for Opening Day, which lead to a lot of recriminations and me not getting billed. Never get between a displaced Baltimoron and the O's.

I'm two days into the new job and I've already sued somebody, so things seem to be going well. I even requested a writ of execution to seize a guy's personal assets. I'm hoping to get something cool, like a dog or something. Anyway, it's a boatload of fun, though a lot of work. Though when i get home I'm exhausted, so after I cook dinner, I'm pretty much ready for bed.

What the hell is happening to me? It's like I'm becoming an adult or something. Nuts.