Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mugging For The Camera

Ah, the time just flits away, doesn't it? Young Jackson has learned the art of pulling himself up to the standing position - but has not yet learned how to get down from said position. He doesn't really crawl - he's still doing that scooting sort of inchworm thing along the floor - but he can get upright. He also much enjoys mugging for the camera, as evidenced by the pictures that follow. His ultimate goal always seems to be to take hold of the camera and devour it - if he had his druthers, that would be the fate of all of the little grey/black electronic devices in our house. Mom and Dad have as yet, however, been able to scuttle those plans. These pictures are all from about a week ago. We were hanging out at home instead of going to buy Snakes & Arrows Live, although I took care of that task later in the day after Amy got home.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Long Live Public Radio

So I get to leave work early tonight because we're dead as hell - a good way to make sure you have no weekend business is to open not one, but two, non-Michael Moore documentaries - and I'm listening to Prairie Home Companion, one because I like it and two because there are no FM stations other than 90.1 that don't suck, and I roll down the street to Trader Joe's for some miscellaneous items. When I get back in the car, Vinyl Café has replaced Prairie Home Companion.

As I'm zipping along 465 on my way home, they play a song called "88 Radiate," by a guy called John Sheard, the musical director of Vinyl Café, and also a pianist. The tune is a medley - a mishmash, if you will - of twenty-odd other pieces of music, played at an almost dizzying speed by this piano person. Before playing the song, they challenged listeners to jot down as many of the works included in the song as they could. The listener to submit the most complete list wins John Sheard's latest CD. And they posted the song on their website so listeners could download and listen to it over and over again while trying to figure out as many of the 27-29 other works referenced in this one little song.

"88 Radiate" (Note: MP3 file - Option-click to download)

Driving on 465 is not the best place to be jotting things down, so I did not participate as I listened to the song, although I recognized half a dozen or so of the bits that he played. On the off chance that anyone listens to the song and is interested in sending in an entry, you're supposed to go to the Vinyl Café Contact Us page.

Had I been listening to Q95, there's a pretty good chance that I would have heard something horrible, like Aerosmith or Bob Seger; even a quasi-respectable station like WTTS would more than likely have subjected me (yet again) to the new R.E.M. song (which sucks) or the new Counting Crows song (which sucks even more than that) or "Please Read The Letter" (which I like, but which is becoming so overplayed that it may well be included on the next re-release of Jagged Little Pill; but by putting on NPR, I got to hear a neat little piano number I would never have heard otherwise and which may never be heard on the radio again. Long live public radio.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Big List #4

This, obviously, has not been as easy to keep going as I had thought it might be. With all of the information out there on the Superhighways of the Internets, it's sometimes difficult to collect five of these little nuggets before the first one or two become irrelevant or uninteresting. I am therefore abandoning any notion of making this a regular feature and instead focusing on doing it occasionally. And so...

Why Republicans Suck #4

Now the enviro-hippies are after Michael Chertoff for sweeping aside environmental regulations in order to fast-track the building of the wall between Mexico and the United States. It’s a bloody good thing that Cormac McCarthy wrote his Border Trilogy novels before the Republicans decided to make hating brown people such a prominent part of their platform. I finished reading All The Pretty Horses not long ago and am about 100 pages into The Crossing, and these novels are just amazing - some of the best writing I have ever read. But back to the fence - why not spend the resources being wasted on this monument to hate on streamlining the process for making it legal to live and work in this country? Lou Dobbs is quoted in the article as saying that “the Sierra Club can stick it.” This country sucks so bad it’s a wonder that anyone would want to come here in the first place. Now that smallpox is gone, can the CDC get to work on eradicating xenophobia?

When Macro Goes Micro

The folks at Miller Brewing Company are throwing their beer-making hat into the craft ring. You may remember “craft” beer by its original moniker - the microbrew, beer that is brewed in smaller batches with a smaller distribution - often regional, although compaines like Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada make craft beer that is readily available almost everywhere. The folks at Miller are working on three styles - wheat, amber, and blonde - that should be nationwide by September under the label The Miller Lite Brewing Collection. I don’t care for wheat beer, but I reckon I’ll try the other two - I’ll try just about anything when it comes to beer, from Wiedemann to Samuel Adams Triple Bock - I’ve even tried that beer that has a chile pepper in the bottle.

"It’s Indiana."

Scott sent this link out to a few people the day of Tom Crean’s press conference when he was hired at Indiana, and Scott included the following exclamation (in caps) at the end of the e-mail - “This guy just gets it!!!” Took me a few days to get around to listening to it, but Scott’s right - he gets it. His enthusiasm is pretty amazing, considering the immense challenge he has in front of him in rebuilding this basketball program. The link also brought me to a pretty good Indiana basketball blog, Inside The Hall.


I just put that there to see if Josh would comment instantly on it. (Only kidding, Josh. Actually, I’m not - but it was meant in jest, I promise. Were you about to comment right away?) Josh and I go back and forth on the subject of global warming, or climate change, or whatever the hell they’re calling it today. I still think that we the people are doing the environment significant damage, but I don’t know about the idea that we’re going to destroy the planet. We’re going to make the planet unfit for human life, no doubt about that - absolutely none - but I imagine that the planet itself will survive. The real point of this little blurb was to note that Skeptic magazine, linked to above, has an upconing issue devoted to global warming. Most of the articles you read about global warming take one side or the other, but I suspect that the issue of Skeptic will have a bit of both - and it will be good reading.

The Big (Green) Apple

Once again we go to the Blue Marble blog, for the story of how New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking bids to outfit city buildings for solar power. New York has also been chosen as one of twenty-five cities that will participate in the Solar America Initiative, an effort by the Energy Department to make solar energy economically feasible. Hopefully I will one day be able to regale Jackson with stories of how we used to use dirty fossil fuels to heat our homes and power our buildings - but have since had the wherewithal to become progressive enough to see beyond the safe and comfortable and known and reach out for something better.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Next Jeff George?

Stephen Curry announced that he would stay for his junior year at Davidson after leading the 10th-seeded Wildcats into this year’s Great Eight and nearly into the Final Four. Some would say that he has nothing left to play for and that he’s only risking an injury that might end his hopes of playing in the NBA - after all, he was the Most Outstanding Player in the Midwest regional despite not playing for the region’s champion, and he was selected to the All-American second team with the likes of Indiana’s D.J. White and Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert (a pre-season first team selection).

But Curry himself says that he’s not ready - and that’s a pretty mature thing to say for a kid who averaged almost 26 points per game in the regular season and more than 34 points per game in this year’s NCAAs. Not only is it mature, it’s refreshing. They’ll call him undersized at 6’3” and 185 - but he shot 48% from the field and 43% from the 3-point line in the regular season and 46% from the field and 44% from behind the arc in the tournament. Granted, he’s not a dunker (is he?) and hasn’t cut a rap record (has he?), so the NBA might not want him - but he can play pro ball. Right now. And he chooses to come back for another year of school.

Are you listening, Eric Gordon? I know...you came to Indiana to play for Kelvin Sampson, and they took him away from you - but life goes on. You play for whoever is the head coach - not just the head coach you wanted to play for. If your pro stock drops any lower, David Stern is going to walk up to the podium this summer and announce that whichever team picked you has just selected Bear Sterns, from Indiana University.

The Indiana basketball program is reeling at the moment, and you have a unique opportunity to stanch some of that bleeding by staying in school for another year and bringing some small amount of stability to a program that is being turned down by coaches who haven’t even been offered the job yet (Washington State’s Tony Bennett). I don’t know if your staying one more year makes Indiana a national title contender, but it will keep the Hoosiers near the top of a Big Ten that Purdue is going to own next year - and there’s always a chance that the guy they name as the new head coach might just be the kind of superstar coach you signed up to play for when you came to Indiana.

If that’s not enough to consider, however, chew on this - the Indiana Pacers, the most embarrassing organization in all of American sports not involving stock cars, are going to have a high first round pick; and if you’re still on the board when their number comes up, they’’ll take you. Why? Because it’s a bad decision, and the only thing the Pacers are even remotely respectable at is making bad decisions. If one more Pacers player gets arrested, the Simons are going to rename the team the Cincinnati Bengals. You’ll want to play anywhere but here, of course - because the Sampson situation has left a bad taste in your mouth - and you’ll become the next Jeff George.

That pesky NBA draft lottery makes it hard to peg, with any real degree of accuracy, where the Pacers will draft this summer - but if the draft went by team record alone, they would draft no higher than 6th and no lower than 17th. Ever seen the Range Game on The Price Is Right? Twenty years ago, Donnie Walsh was smart enough not to pick the Indiana kid and instead take a chance on a wiry guy from UCLA; but the temptation to make the Indiana mistake will be greater this time around, because you will actually have an NBA career; and the possibility of the Indiana mistake being made this year is greater than it was twenty years ago because Larry Bird is calling the shots now. If there were a contest between Larry Bird and George W. Bush to see who has had the least success in their current job, I’m not sure who would win.

Stepehn Curry has the right idea, and I really hope that it works out for him - and for Davidson. College basketball may be doomed to the role of being a minor league for the National Bone Thugs Association, and the power conferences and their power schools may always dominate the recruiting classes and the national polls and the postseason tournaments - but every now and then you get to see a class program and a class kid shine in the national spotlight at the end of March. There is nothing in sports that compares with the greatness of the NCAA tournament - and guys like Stephen Curry (and schools like Davidson) are the reason that that statement is true.

(For a really good story about college basketball in its purest and least commercial form, go find a copy of The Last Amateurs, by John Feinstein - and spend a season with the gutty competitors in the Patriot League.)