Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking Back at 2006: My Favorite Albums

While I'm in the musical mood, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the albums I rated highly last year at this time and see how they've held up over a year of listening. I fully expect to be red-faced on some of these, so here goes (I've only commented on those that I would beg to differ with myself):

  • Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - I probably wouldn't rate this album as highly today. It is still a great album, but I found myself listening to it less and less.
  • TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain - This probably should have been number one, but since I still listen to Boys and Girls in America so much, we can call it a tie.
  • Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere - Boy, did I fall for the hype here. I don't think I've listened to this album at all in the last four or five months.
  • Snowden: Anti-Anti -I would rate this one much higher today, moving it out of the honorable mention category and into the top 10 "Like Bullets".
All in all, I don't think I did too badly.
NP: "Skyscapers" - Close Lobsters

2007 Music Review: My Favorite Album

1. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

After all the thought and the effort put into this year's list, there really could be only one album that would occupy this slot. Sure, various drafts had other albums here, but at the end of the day (or year), I simply listened to this album more than any other album, and that has to count for something, right? This was one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and to deliver so well on it's promise so well (even more so than The National and Arcade Fire) made it a dead lock. On Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon departs from it's usually sparse arrangements to incredible effect on "I've Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" and "The Underdog", while retaining it to great effect on songs like "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case". I've been a fan of Britt Daniel and company for quite a while, but this may be their finest effort yet.

NP: "Heaven's Gate" - Ian McCulloch

2007 Music Review: Favorite Albums 2 - 4

4. Okkervil River - The Stage Names

Various versions of this list had this album at the number one spot. I didn't expect this level of excellence from this album, even as much as I liked Black Sheep Boy. Okkervil River made "the leap" this year, stepping it up to another level. Not a note goes astray on this album. While they lost some of the twang (and Lord knows I like me some twang), the album is better for it. "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe" would also have to be in contention for song of the year if I were detail oriented enough to make such a list.

3. Panda Bear - Person Pitch

To quote my friend Craig, Panda Bear changed the way I listen to music. Person Pitch was so different, so genre deconstructing that I'm still not even sure how to categorize it. Jumping off from Brian Wilson, this album went places that I didn't even know existed. It's no surprise that it's ranked so highly on so many year-end lists.

2. Battles - Mirrored

The perfect commute album. Again, an album that a couple of years ago I would have been surprised if I'd rated it so highly. "Atlas" would have to be considered in any song of the year lists. The craftsmanship of the artists here is masterful, but that doesn't take away from the actual songs. They are at once catchy and challenging, leading to a very rewarding experience during listening.

NP: "Animal or Vegetable" - Stereolab

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Music Review: Favorite Albums 5 - 8

8. Deerhunter - Cryptograms / Fluorescent Gray

You just knew an Atlanta band would have to show up somewhere in the list--and this year I didn't have to stretch even. This year saw Deerhunter release a fantastic full length CD, Cryptograms, as well as a very underrated EP, Fluorescent Gray, which essentially represents a third side to Cryptograms, evoking the traditional LP structure. It's been an eventful year for Deerhunter, including garnering critical acclaim and suffering an armed robbery (in my own neighborhood no less). Never straightforward, the tracks on Cryptograms veer from ambient interludes that served to separate the most disparate tracks to seamlessly move into songs that are both addictive while challenging to the listener. Not to mention, this album may have one of the best covers of the year.

7. Radiohead - In Rainbows

I have a confession to make. I've never really understood the whole fascination with Radiohead. Don't get me wrong, The Bends and OK Computer are both fantastic albums that I totally appreciate, but that I've never been able to love. So this may be a surprise entrant, even though many critics probably have this as their top album of the year. So with this entry, that old impasse may finally have been broached with In Rainbows. I love this album. I can't get its songs out of my head after listening, something I've never been able to say before. Equally interesting is how Radiohead saw fit to deliver this album, as a pay-as-much-as-you-want download from their website. I have no idea how much money they actually received per copy on average, but we know that money goes directly to the artists, not some set of suits, and anything that turns the RIAA on its ear gets kudos from me.

6. Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

When talking about Explosions in the Sky, I must first give a considerable tip of the cap to Dilettante in Distress, who first alerted me to this incredible Austin band. Listening to All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is equally evocative of the wide, desolate landscapes of Texas (her words again) as it is of a mundane train commute to work. What the band lacks in lyrics is more than made up by inspired instrumentation and haunting sounds. More often than not at work, I find myself playing this album to metaphorically get outside and wander around.

5. The National - Boxer

The last we heard from The National, there were landing at the number 2 spot on my 2005 list with Alligator. So, what's changed since then? Very little in terms of quality. In fact, I've seen Boxer listed more often at the top spot across the music blogs than probably any other album. That's not to say Matt Berninger and company didn't evolve. Boxer is a much more introspective album than Alligator, and the sound suits them. They eschew the harder edged rockers that I found so distinctive on Alligator ("Mr. November, "Abel") for a much quieter sound that paints a vivid picture of the malaise of 21st century life (though much differently than Bloc Party's Weekend in the City or The Good the Bad and the Queen approach a similar subject).

Next up, albums 2, 3, and 4.

NP: "Joyless, Joyless" - Minus Story

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Office

Is finally starting to take shape and become a center for productivity:

Keen eyes, however, may discern one of my chief productivity sucks as well (and I'm not talking about the TV or the Xbox that's hidden below it).

Doesn't everyone just have duct tape just lying around?

NP: "Let's Make Love and Listen to Death from Above" - CSS

2007 Music Review: Favorite Albums 9 - 13

Now that I've returned from my holiday travels, the list of my favorite albums can continue. In this installment, I'll countdown albums 13 through 9, with the top eight coming in future posts. (Hey, I still have four days yet!)

From this point on, any of these are worthy of that top spot on a given day--there is really that little separating them. It's been a great year for music as these selections will attest.

Now, on with the countdown!

13. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire's second album may have been one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, mainly because of the quality of Funeral. Since its release, the critical mood has been all over the map--from disappointment to praise to backlash and back again. I may be a heretic here, but on the whole, I think Neon Bible actually works a bit better as a whole than Funeral. It never truly reaches the highs of their first effort, but there is not a bad song on Neon Bible, maybe the reaction is a bit of familiarity breeding a slight bit of contempt (not that it's that strong mind you). In a lot of years, this could easily have been my top pick (heck, ask me in a month and it may be yet).

12. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

This album is just fun. Sometimes those of us who listen to a lot of music and think about it about it even more tend to overthink things and forget to just enjoy it for what it is. I'm not really sure what else draws me to Strawberry Jam, aside from this sense of fun. I could point out the obvious things like how well the music, even with the unconventional arrangements, is made and how everything fits just so, even though you might think it would totally miss, but wouldn't that be overthinking it all over again. I certainly wasn't surprised to see this on a lot of year end lists (including my own).

11. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

A dance part for adults. I can't recall where I read that (and I don't intend to steal anyone's thunder), but I think that perfectly encapsulates LCD Soundsystem. Adding incredibly infectious sounds and energy to highly articulate and clever lyrics, The Sound of Silver is a recipe for success. Just listening to "North American Scum" or "New York, I Love You, but You're Brining Me Down," is an exercise in itself in leaving preconceptions at the door (since I don't usually like anything that has a whiff of dance music about it).

10. Menomena - Friend and Foe

This year's list is quickly becoming an exercise in seeing how my musical tastes are expanding. Of course, I can't take too much credit for that. Instead, I'll credit the amount of good music that is recommended to me (by reading blogs, by friends, what have you). I doubt anyone who knows me well would have expected to find Menomena on this list, since I usually go for the tighter melodies and more straightforward sounds. Friend and Foe, however, is a great ride from start to finish, mixing moods and expectations more often than James Bond's bartender mixed martinis.

9. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup/Lon Gisland

"A Sunday Smile," the third track on The Flying Club Cup, along would merit this album's inclusion on this list. Even beyond that, this album is one that I could see myself living with for years to come. Add an excellent January EP (Lon Gisland) to Beirut's output this year, and it becomes certainty. I love the inclusions of the Balkan rhythms in Beirut's sounds. The inclusion of these sounds definitely does not make the music seem provincial, or worse, like world music. Instead, they meld seamlessly into an overall aesthetic that has a lot in common with many Elephant 6 acts. At times, the music on The Flying Club Cup eerily reminds me of Neutral Milk Hotel, without ever sounding like it or evoking it directly. It's just a feeling I get.

More of my favorites to come in the coming days. And I promise that this list will be finished by New Year's Eve.

NP: "Line of Best Fit" - Death Cab for Cutie

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007 Music Review: Favorite Albums 14 - 25

Now on to my favorites. I'll be counting down from 25 to my favorite album of the year over a series of posts in the coming days. Some of these will merit more description than others (meaning that I have reasons for inclusion over and above listening to something a helluva lot).

25. Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City

I know that I'll probably get some flack for this one, since Bloc Party is no longer the critics' darling, but you know what, this is a damn fine album. True. It didn't hit me in the gut quite as immediately as Silent Alarm. However, if they made that same album again, I'd been very disappointed (see Interpol). This album shows growth, and even though I wasn't intially all that excited about this effort, time has been very kind. "Waiting for the 7:18" especially captures something that resonates with me.

24. Grizzly Bear - Friend

I don't know anyone that knows me that would think I would enjoy music best, or most famously categorized as psychedelic folk, but what do you know, I really enjoyed this album (or EP depending on the review). While this wasn't on my sought after music as often as other albums on this list, it's appearance on shuffle on the train ride to work was never unwelcome (which is high praise indeed).

23. The Good The Bad and the Queen - The Good The Bad and the Queen

Paul Simonen meets Damon Albarn? Clash meets Blur meets Gorillaz? 'Nuff said. Really, those opening questions pretty much characterize it. Does this sound the least bit like The Clash. No. But to see Paul Simonen return to making music is something to get a bit excited about. I actually found this album a bit more accessible than the previous Gorillaz efforts, even though I enjoyed them a lot as well. And hey, they play live!

22. José González - In Our Nature

hile nothing on this album stands out quite as much as his cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart", nothing could be said to be so derivative. For better or better, there's no coat-tails here. I don't know that I could sing a single verse off this album, but then again, it's not that kind of album. I often find myself looking for this one when I'm working.

21. Iron and Wine - The Shepard’s Dog

Wow, so much of what I said about Jose Gonzalez could be said about this. Only I'd have to add drums for once. You'd think their presence would seem odd on an Iron & Wine album. You'd be wrong. That collaboration with Calexico is starting to bear unexpected but delicious fruit.

20. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse

It's been a very good year for the Besnard Lakes. They go from being nobodies to being on a lot of top 20 lists for the year. So does this make me a bandwagon jumper. Perhaps. I did enjoy this album quite a bit though, and listened to it a bit more than anything that goes before except maybe the Bloc Party (which dropped early in the year).

19. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation

I'll admit it, this is a late addition to the list. My first listens to Blitzen Trapper (through some dubiously obtained samples) didn't really get me too excited. It was only upon hearing them featured on All Songs Considered recently that I actually sought out this album. I wish I had before then. While it's not my usual taste, it is incredibly "interesting" (in a good way). I don't get all halfway comparisons to the Grateful Dead either (that would be a non-starter in my mind).

18. Feist - The Reminder

Two Feist albums. Two appearances on my end of year lists. And the first one was even before I found out I worked (albeit remotely) with her brother (Hi Ben, if you ever read this!). And you know what? This ranking is even more appropriate than they last. Of course, a little help from Apple never hurt anyone (and in this case, it was deserved), so hopefully she'll make more of these lists this year.

17. The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters

This album caught me totally by surprise. It was the first time I had even heard of The Twilight Sad to be honest (hey, something always slips through the cracks). I especially like how some of their songs seamlessly navigate the space between quiet and loud, and they build in such a way that when they do reach their full sound, it takes you by surprise.

16. Handsome Furs - Plague Park

A side project of one of the dynamic duo from Wolf Parade, Dan Boeckner, Handsome Furs has often been compared to Bruce Springsteen, and I think that comparison is somewhat relevant. The music here is much more direct than that of Wolf Parade, and I like its earnest straightforwardness quite a bit.

15. Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara

I've know about Great Lake Swimmers for some time. I think I discovered them last year some time (a song here, a song there), and while I enjoyed their music, I would never have thought that they would make a end of year list I was preparing. Even though the band is from Canada, their music has an essentially American feel to it, almost like some alt-country acts, though I would never put them in that category directly. Their MySpace page describes their sound as ambient folk, but I don't think that label applies either--I find my toe tapping or head bobbing to their music way too much for it to be ambient in any way.

14. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover

It's been a good year for the members of Wolf Parade (see Handsome Furs above). The other half of that dynamic duo is Spencer Krug, who forms the core of Sunset Rubdown. Unlike Handsome Furs, however, Sunset Rubdown captures the pure energy that inhabits most Wolf Parade tunes, but with a verve and urgency that sometimes gets lost in the pure driving force of Wolf Parade. It doesn't hurt that two of the best live shows I've seen over the last 14 months were Sunset Rubdown shows.

NP: "Skin Deep" - The Stranglers

Monday, December 17, 2007

2007 Music Review: Honorable Mentions and Disappointments

I know it's been rather quiet around here lately (looking around sheepishly), but it's that time of the year--the time for me to foist my barely-coherent opinions upon the Interweb at large and decree my favorite albums of the year.

Even though I haven't been around all that much, I would like to document these, if for no other reason than to expose myself to ridicule right now by the public at large and at some yet-to-be determined point in the future when I will probably view some of these with shock and incredulity.

First, there were a number of recordings that I'd like to mention in one way or the other, even though they didn't merit inclusion in the main list. Here are the honorable mentions:

Shearwater - Palo Santo: Extended Edition
I loved this album, but since it's a reissue of a 2006 recording, I couldn't bring myself to put it on the list proper (given different criteria, it would have made it with a bullet). However, it is a fantastic album, and the bonus materials and re-mastering really take the album to the next level.

The Afghan Whigs - Unbreakable: A Retrospective 1990-2006
One new song. A whole bunch more that should remind you just how much of an awesome, kick-ass band The Afghan Whigs were. Everyone needs a reminder now and then--not that these guys were ever very far from my radar (as evidenced by my listening stats).

Vampire Weekend - Various
No full album, but great promise indeed! Here's a very promising newcomer. I wouldn't put a collection of heard songs (maybe an EP worth) on my list, and I've only just started listening to them, but boy-howdy, am I listening to their songs a helluva lot lately. Put them down as one to watch in 2008.

Next up, the disappointments:

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
I love Wilco, I do. I'm usually among their most tenacious defenders and I proselytize for them among non fans repeated, taking peach-heads to the Fox to enjoy a live show. But you know what, they lost me on this one. While Pitchfork's description of the album as "Dad Rock" seems a bit harsh to me, I certainly think the album is too introspective, too lacking in that Wilco-ish quality to be anything other than a disappointment to me. There are good songs here though ("Impossible Germany"), but the whole does not cohere.

Interpol - Our Love to Admire
Where do I start with Interpol? First album, top 1o of the year (loved it). Second album? mildly disappointed. I thought Editors debut sounded like what Antics should have. And now a third. And no growth. No change. The only positive is the improvement of the cover art. Are there good songs here. Perhaps. But my disappointment is grounded in what Interpol could have, no should have, been. Instead they've stagnated. Every band deserves an off note. But two in a row show that they've not insinuating themselves into my ear for much longer.

I'll be counting down my favorites in succeeding posts in the coming days.

NP: "Rock and Roll" - Spiritualized

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The NFL Has Lost Me

So, it's the beginning of the NFL season, and you know what? I watched about 5 minutes of the Falcons game on Sunday. That's it. I have zero interest anymore.

Flash back 25 years. I was crazy for the NFL. The Redskins (horrible name and all) in particular. So what happened? The most obvious culprit is my increasing appreciation of a football game where they actually use their feet (soccer of course). I was definitely more interested in the results of the Euro qualifiers this week than any NFL game, and I'll definitely be at the Brewhouse on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. for the North London Derby.

But there's something more to it than that. Living in Atlanta, this summer was Vick 24/7. Honestly, I had been pulling for Vick since he was a college player at Virginia Tech, and now I just feel incredibly let down. Add to that the off-field shenanigans of so many of players, and I'm just officially done with the lot of them. There's Pac-Man Jones, Mark Chmura, Ray Lewis, and Rae Carruth. I just can't in good pull for a league that has such unsavory elements any more.

So, to hell with American football. Viva football. And go Gunners just for good measure.

UPDATE: On publishing this, I see that Google is running ads for Arsenal jerseys. I encourage all six readers of my blog to buy one and follow me to the dark side.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hey Look! It's 9/12!

Not to take away from that horrible day, I just thought it would be nice to fast-forward a day (and years) into the future. Now, lets set about fixing the problems we can control!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm Back

After the most intense six weeks of consulting of my entire career (almost as bad as the launch of the Huge Corporate Entity site), my workload seems to have returned to normal. So, posting should return to normal. And there's a lot to talk about. On the football front, Arsenal have had a great start to the season, and Wenger has signed a new deal (their biggest signing of the summer). In baseball, the Red Sox are still holding off the evil empire. I've also been listening to a lot of music lately as well. So, start checking back again, I'm sure I'll have something to say.

NP: "Football Weekly" - Guardian Unlimited

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Time Out

Vacation. Whatever. Due to some upcoming travel and continuing insanity at work (three projects all peaking at once), I'll be taking some time off from updating the site. I should return much rested after Labor Day.

In the meantime, take some time to peruse the site's on my sidebar, as I've found them endlessly diverting.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jozy Altidore has a Blog

Regular readers who pay attention to my various musings on sports know that I've been quite impressed with U.S. U-20 striker and Red Bull New York player, Jozy Altidore. Now I find out that the "kid" not only can play, he can also write. Today marks the launch of Jozy Altidore's blog on the New York Times website. Today, he writes about facing David Beckham for the first time on the field this weekend. Good timing on his part since Beckham scored his first goal for the Galaxy last night (on a free kick natch).

I'm sure I'll check in on his thoughts from time to time.

NP: "Football Weekly Extra" - Guardian Unlimited

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Weekly Music Report

I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. LCD Soundsystem - 11 tracks
  2. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 8 tracks
  3. The Smiths - 8 tracks
  4. Spoon - 8 tracks
  5. The Arcade Fire - 4 tracks
  6. Sufjan Stevens - 4 tracks
  7. The Clash - 4 tracks
  8. The Charlatans - 4 tracks
  9. The Clientele - 4 tracks
  10. Sleater-Kinney - 4 tracks
As usual, you can head over to my profile to see what I'm currently listening to.

NP: "Spent (Peel Session)" - Wire

Friday, August 10, 2007

Premiership Preview and Predictions

Happy new year, football-wise (tomorrow anyway). With that in mind, I thought I would offer up from preview thoughts and predictions.

All predictions guaranteed to be 100% wrong on your money back. I'll offer up my thoughts on each team alphabetically, along with my predicted order of finish in the table.

Arsenal - 2nd
Arsenal is a team with a huge number of questions heading into the beginning of the season. How can they replace Henry? They can't. Can they cope with life without the best striker in the world? They can, perhaps. While Arsenal haven't made a lot of noise in the transfer market, they have addresses a number of their needs: goalkeeper (check), right back (check), striker (check). There are some questions, however, remaining: left winger (not so check). I expect that there will be another signing to the Arse, and, with the team spirit they've been showing and behind van Persie's goal tally, they'll just pip Liverpool for third. Challenging for the title isn't out of the question, but its may be just a little unrealistic. At the very worst, they finish fourth again.

Aston Villa - 7th
The second season of the Randy Learner regime, and Aston Villa will out-perform the Cleveland Browns. They won't set the world on fire, but will continue to show improvement, earning a place in Europe this season.

Birmingham -18th
Welcome back Mr. Short Leash, Steve Bruce. He may be gone by Boxing Day. All kidding aside, I expect Birmingham to be in the relegation fight until the last game of the season. Unfortunately, I think they will fall just short of staying up. They'll be gamers and pick off an upset here and there, and Muamba will look like a very smart transfer come Christmas, when bigger teams will be sniffing around for him.

Blackburn - 5th
Mark Hughes will continue the renaissance at Blackburn, leading them to Europe, if not to the heights he hopes for (though I'm sure the fans will be happy). Brad Friedel, unlike his former rival Kasey Keller, isn't past it quite yet, and he should keep them in a few games they shouldn't be in. They can knick some points and potentially be looking at Europe. I expect this to be Hughes' last season with the Rovers. I'm guessing he'll replace Mourinho at Chelsea after this season.

Bolton - 11th
Ahh, my least favorite team. Losing Sam Allardyce will hurt them greatly. As much as I loathe him, he made them successful. They really haven't lost anyone other than their manager, but I expect them to struggle. They'll pull it together at the last because they still have some quality players, and the fact that are teams that are in much worse shape than they are.

Chelsea - 4th
Why so low? The African Cup of Nations when they'll lose their spark plugs. On talent alone, they win the league every time. But the niggling injuries are already adding up for the start of the season. With Didier Drogba our in January, I see them losing any hope of the league in the winter when he is away. Shevchecko and Ballack will be much improved, but without Robben to provide the late spark (assuming he is off to Real Madrid), it won't quite be enough. Mourinho will likely leave after this season.

Derby County - 20th
Straight relegation. No hope for them at all. At best, expect a finish of nineteenth. I am looking forward to seeing Benny Feilhauber play in the league though,

Everton - 9th
I'll say it for the record. David Moyes is a fantastic manager. Does he have enough to improve Everton's place on the table though? I don't think so. Everton usually falls back when they have a European campaign to worry about. They won't fall as far this season as in seasons past though..

Fulham - 10th
Here's my gamble. Smart money has Fulham barely escaping the drop once again. Lawrie Sanchez has spent lots of money on journeymen though. About mid-season, I expect Clint Dempsey to emerge as a chief playmaker, whether he is feeding McBride or no, and fire them to respectability. Healy will impress as well. Of couse, I could be full of beans.

Liverpool - 3rd
Probably a very contentious choice (and the choice that's worth a bottle of single malt for me). Two scouser friends will likely call foul here, but I call them like I see them. Sure, your team has addressed some needs. But, Torres and Voronin have yet to adjust to the English game, so you can't expect that much from them (I remember Reyes). Gerrard is still the best man in his position in the English game, so they won't fall too far, but I see Liverpool as more of a cup team (and that includes the Champions League, where they may get their sixth). In any case, second through fourth should be a dogfight this year).

Manchester City - 13th
It's Sven-a-po-looza! Transfer madness. Who are these guys again? I don't think even the manager has seen some of them play. City will definitely improve on its play, if not much on its position. How could they not? But seriously, Sven is a proven club manager, and he's now freed of using English players exclusively. They could be laying good groundwork for next season.

Manchester United - 1st
The best team in the premiership just got better. Hargreaves, Tevez, Nani, and Anderson. Who did they lose? No one of note. Their only question marks are whether Giggs and Scholes can continue their late season renaissance (and in preseason, it looks like that's the case). Until proven differently, Ronaldo is the best player in England (especially now that Henry is gone). The top of the table will be tighter than last year, but I can't see them losing.

Middlesbrough - 16th
Eh. Who cares. They stay up, in an especially unexciting manner. Missed out on Alan Smith. See immediately below. They'll be in the relegation fight for sure.

Newcastle United - 12th
I'll be honest. I'm not sure what to make of Newcastle. Allardyce isn't know for playing the type of football that Newcastle's fans like. They have lots of new defenders, and if Owen gets hurt and Martins, transfer (both very likely), I'm not sure who will score the goals. They could challenge for a UEFA Cup spot. They could sink into a relegation fight. I really have no idea.

Portsmouth - 6th
Portsmouth will continue to improve. I think fifth position may come down to the last couple of matches of the season. Look for David Nugent to get better as the season progress, as he'll watch Kanu very closely.

Reading - 14th
Reading won't have the cinderella season they had last season, but they won't every be seriously threatened with relegation either. They'll consolidate a bit this year, even though they'll slip a few spots. This team could become a fixture in the middle of the table for the next few years. Of course, losing players to injuries received while stretching in bed is never a good sign.

Sunderland - 15th
Of the new teams this year, Sunderland are the best bet to stay in the top flight. Roy Keane does not accept losing, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to losses this season. I do look forward to watching the Black Cats play though.

Tottenham - 8th
There's too much expectation for Spurs to challenge for the top four. And every time they have expectations, the team always seems to find someway to fall short. I'm sure a lot of folks will think I'm crazy, but I see them disappointing their fans again this year. Sure, they've spent a lot of money, but they still haven't addressed their main needs. Berbatov can't do it alone, but Darren Bent isn't the answer to anyone's prayers (certainly not 18 million's worth).

West Ham United - 17th
Same place as last year. A whole lot less controversy. Losing Tevez is going to hurt, and Bellamy is no replacement. How long until there are fights at Upton Park?

Wigan Athletic - 19th
Paul Jewell resigns. Why? Wigan are going to be dreadful. They'd be a lock for the bottom is Derby weren't in the league.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Weekly Music Report

Last week was another week of light listening for me, so I can't do a proper top 10. With that in mind, here's the abbreviated list of artists I heard more than twice last week:
  1. Bloc Party - 15 tracks
  2. Arcade Fire - 12 tracks
  3. Spoon - 11 tracks
  4. Ride - 4 tracks
  5. The National - 3 tracks
  6. R.E.M., The Killing Joke, and The Beastie Boys - 2 tracks each
As always, you can keep tabs on my listening over time (at least when I'm connected to the Interweb) over at my profile.

NP: World Soccer Daily

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tom Glavine Wins His 300th Game

In all the hype surrounding that other baseball milestone, Tom Glavine became the 23rd pitcher to win 300 games last night against the Cubs. He know has joined the ranks of Cy Young, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton as a mortal lock for a first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame. And he may be the last man to join that list. Only Randy Johnson seems to have a shot to win 300 games among active pitchers. Reduced pitching work loads today make it unlikely that any young pitcher will be able to put in enough innings a year to achieve this.

Even though he attained the milestone while playing for the Mets, one of my least favorite major league teams, I was happy to have been able to witness it (on television). I have many fond memories of watching him ply his trade over the years here in Atlanta, and he turned in some of the greatest pitching performances that I've witnessed live, including the one that may be most remembered and rightly celebrated: his one-hit performance in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, which earned him MVP honors.

Elsewhere, the AJC has a nice photo essay of Glavine through the years. Also, I proved my abilities as a baseball prognosticator only missing the milestone date by two days (ignore some of the other predictions)

Congratulations Tom!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

There Once Was a Man from Garageland

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but rebelmachine has remade the entirety of London Calling in limerick form. Here's a taste:
A nuke fell on fair London town
I'd like it if you could come down
Fake Fab Fours have vanished
The grain is all famished
And I really don't want to drown.
Some of them are quite inspired. Anyone up for Sandinista?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Braves Go Crazy at Trade Deadline

First, they landed the biggest bat available in Mark Texeira (along with a lefty for the bullpen). Now, they've upgraded their bullpen even more, acquiring Octavio Dotel from the Royals. Next, Bronson Arroyo for Jo-Jo Reyes or Yunel Escobar? The cost thus far Jarrod Saltalamacchia, five prospects, and Kyle Davies. While the number of prospects seems a little high, I think the Braves will be ranked as overall winners for the trade deadline. This is the first time they've been this aggressive since going out to get McGriff in the early 90s.

Dotel will be a definite upgrade over Wickman in the closer role (even if they share closing duties). Wickman worries me every time he comes in with a game on the line. Heck, the way today is going for the Braves, he could be on his way shortly.

Texeira? What can you say. As someone who follows the Braves, I hated to see Saltalamacchia go, but let's face it, he was stuck behind another very good, young catcher in McCann. Now, the Braves have a gold-glove first baseman with about twice as much batting ability than any Braves first baseman since Andres Galarraga.

The last rumor also looks like it would be a good deal for the Braves. In any case, the NL East just got even more interesting than it already was with Phillies and Mets making moves of their own.

UPDATE: So the Arroyo deal didn't come to pass, but one more trade did occur: Will Ledezma, who had been designated for assignment, for Royce Ring, adding yet another lefty to their bullpen.

I can't remember a trade deadline where the Braves have been this active. Is this a final push to try to win it this year before Schuerholz retires? I don't know, but I think their chances to win the east, or the wild card, just improved quite a bit.

NP: World Soccer Daily

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekly Music Report

Thanks to my schedule allowing my car to stay at home last week while I rode the train to work, I listened to more music last week in quite a while. I listened to the following artists the most:
  1. Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros - 26 tracks
  2. Elf Power - 16 tracks
  3. Bloc Party - 14 tracks
  4. Editors - 11 tracks
  5. Arcade Fire - 10 tracks
  6. The 101er's - 4 tracks
  7. Bettie Serveert - 3 tracks
  8. Death Cab for Cutie - 3 tracks
  9. The Delgados - 3 tracks
  10. Matt Pond PA - 3 tracks
Why all that Joe Strummer you may ask? I received a copy of Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer for my birthday, and reading it influenced my listening choices a bit. Thus far, it's a good read, though at this point in the story, the cracks are just starting to appear in the Clash. I'll write up my full reaction when I finish the book.

As usual, you can follow my listening habits day to day by visiting my profile.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Iraq Wins First Asian Cup

Despite being massive underdogs in the tournament, today Iraq beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 to claim the Asian Cup for the first time in the country's history. In stark contrast to the nightmare that their country is becoming (or is), this team is made up of Sunni, Shia, and Kurd. While soccer is only a game, it hopefully will provide some comfort to Iraqis of all stripes, especially since is emblematic of a Iraq that could be. Hearing this news actually made me smile, the first smile upon hearing the word Iraq in a long, long time.

NP: "Where is Home?" - Bloc Party

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Weekly Music Report

There's not enough data this week for a full top ten. The only artist I listened a lot last week was Spoon (20 tracks, or twice through Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga). Based on this, I can heartily recommend it.

In fact the only other artists I heard more than twice last week were Elvis Costello (4) and The Arcade Fire (3).

NP: "Story in a Nutshell" - Bettie Serveert

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My EPL Fantasy Football Team

I just made my selections for the SportsFilter fantasy EPL league:

That doesn't look too shabby to me.

Another Trip Around the Rock

Yep. That's right. It's my birthday. Here's a list of people I share it with. I have to say, I'm underwhelmed--I mean, c'mon, Phyllis Diller? David Hasselhoff? Camilla Parker Bowles?

Jimmy Cagney is cool though.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Weekly Music Report

I listened to the following music the most over the last week:
  1. Spoon - 12 tracks
  2. 50 Foot Wave - 9 tracks
  3. The Wedding Present - 5 tracks
  4. Pulp - 4 tracks
  5. Let's Active - 4 tracks
  6. Swervedriver - 4 tracks
  7. Pavement - 4 tracks
  8. The Mekons - 4 tracks
  9. Shout Out Louds - 3 tracks
  10. Bettie Serveert - 3 tracks
    The Mekons - 3 tracks
Yes, that's Let's Active in the list. Perhaps I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the 80s. In any case, you can keep up with my current listening at my profile page.

On a side note, the new Spoon album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, is very good, despite the silly name.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Copa America Final

It's the dream final. Argentina versus Brazil in a little less than an hour.

For the record, I think Argentina ends its 14-year trophy drought in style by winning 3-1 in regulation.

Who scores the winner. Most folks would say Messi, but I'm going with Tevez.

UPDATE: Boy did I get that one wrong. And I never would have guessed that Arsenal flop Julio Baptista would score the winner.

Assessing the State of U.S. Soccer

Last month, I wrote that this summer was vital in looking forward to the U.S. begin qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Now that all the men's teams are done with their summer after the under-20 team was eliminated from the U-20 World Cup yesterday, losing 2-1 to Austria, I think it's only fair that I look back at what I wrote then, and assess where the teams stand today.

This summer of soccer was a drama (only occasionally comedic) in four acts.

Act 1: Winning the Gold Cup in Style
The first act was CONCACAF's regional tournament, the Gold Cup. The U.S. won the Gold Cup handily. They were easily the most consistent team in the tournament, and in the final came from behind to defeat Mexico 2-1. In the end, the U.S. cemented its status as the big dog in CONCACAF.

Coach Bradley fielded a very experienced group of players who play in both the U.S. and in Europe. All in all, they acquitted themselves very well. Landon Donovan continued to model his newly rediscovered form and Clint Dempsey took his opportunity to emerge from Donovan's shadow to show that he is penciled in for all qualifiers, barring injuring and club commitments.

Of all the competitions this summer, this was the one that was most important to the team, as it is our region's major tournament and it guarantees that the U.S. will be participating in the Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009, a crucial pre-World Cup warmup.

Act 2: Fizzling in Venezuela
The second act was Copa America. The U.S. sent a less-experienced side to Venezuela for this competition, and it showed in the results. The U.S. lost all three of their group matches and came home quickly. On paper, that looks like a disaster, but I don't view it so dimly. The U.S. held their own against Argentina in the opener for 70 minutes. They outplayed Paraguay but were plagued by poor finishing. Once they got to Colombia, both teams knew they were going home and played like it.

I always thought that the Copa America would be a chance for Coach Bradley to really begin evaluating the more fringe players on the national scene. His "experimental" line up proved that was indeed the case. However, we can learn some valuable lessons from the performance. All the players involved, mostly new to the national scene, gained valuable lessons playing quality opponents away from home, experience that will serve them well in the future.

What did we specifically learn from failing in South America? First, Taylor Twellman just cannot play at this level. He's just too slow. He shouldn't feature in the qualification battle that begins next year. Second, Benny Feilhaber is the real deal. He should be integral to the coming qualification campaign. The jury is still out on Eddie Johnson, but he'd better begin producing or else he may lose his spot to Jozy Altidore (more on that below). Finally, the U.S. has more quality options at defense than ever before. Farewell Frankie Hejduk, thanks for the memories.

Act 3: The Future is Bright
Although it ended perhaps prematurely yesterday against Austria, the U.S. kids provided an astonishing run at the U-20 World Cup in Canada. Along the way, they played beautiful, attacking football and a number of the participants have surely sparked interest across the pond (and more than likely in Coach Bradley's office).

Freddy Adu showed why everyone knows his name, even though he's mostly been a non-entity for his club lately. Of all the games I watched, he was easily the player of the tournament. He absolutely controlled the games from his attacking midfield role, setting up many of the goals he didn't score himself. Jozy Altidore appears to be the real deal as well. Finally, a forward who can score goals. Michael Bradley and Danny Szetela also cemented their status a part of the future of the U.S. midfield alongside Benny Feilhaber.

In the end, the 120 gritty minutes against Uruguay, which forced the team to come behind for a thrilling win showed yesterday against Austria, a very disciplined if not pretty side. This performance is still one they can be proud of and it shows that the future is still bright for the U.S. Soccer team.

Act 4: That Beckham Fellow
Yeah, that guy was introduced Friday as the newest member of the Los Angeles Galaxy. I don't have any idea what the long-term impact of his arrival means for the sport in the U.S., but despite the usual bleating from the British press about MLS, it's telling that Beckham still has a lot left in his tank, and his commitment to the Galaxy has opened the door for others that have a lot of game left in them: Blanco, Angel, and Xavier for example.

Also, his arrival will probably make many people who are just curious about all the hubbub tune into MLS games. Even now, ticket demand is up throughout the league. If MLS can convert even some of the curious to fans, then Beckham's arrival will indeed have left its mark.

NP: "I Can't Sleep Tonight" - The La's

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Weekly Music Report

I listened to the following artists the most last week:
  1. 50 Foot Wave - 9 tracks
  2. Echo & the Bunnymen - 9 tracks
  3. Interpol - 9 tracks
  4. Neko Case - 7 tracks
  5. Neutral Milk Hotel - 6 tracks
  6. 16 Horsepower - 5 tracks
  7. The Jesus and Mary Chain - 5 tracks
  8. Game Theory - 5 tracks
  9. Pulp -4 tracks
  10. The Charlatans - 4 tracks
As usual, you can head over to my profile to see what I'm currently listening to.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Samurai Scotch and Other Expressions

I'm very late with this wrap-up (March), but we recently had yet another Scotch tasting a couple of weeks ago, so I have to catch up before sharing the results (and catching up entirely on the whisky front as far as this blog is concerned anyway)

Proceeding from clarity to increasing blurriness and from lightness to full on Island flavor, eere are my thoughts on each of the expressions we tasted in March.

12 year-old Suntory "Yamakazi" – Japan
While not what someone would consider a Scotch whisky since it hails from Japan, this expression is still a single-malt whisky, which qualifies it according to admittedly flexible rules. In fact, most participants were pretty excited to try this (must be the Lost in Translation effect), and since the local package store has recently begun carrying it stock, I quickly grabbed a bottle for the festivities. When I opened the bottle though, I discovered a huge warning sign. The bottle had a plastic screw cap instead of the traditional cork. I know that great advances have been made in this area, and that some good wines now use screw caps, but it was still unsettling. That didn't stop it from being poured though.

Once the Suntory had poured, it had a slightly sweet smell, with hints of sherry and fruit. The first taste matched the initial nose, as it was slightly sweet and fruity taste. Once water had been added to "Baptize" the whisky, an oak finish became apparent. Overall, everyone agreed that this expression was remarkably one-dimensional and that it didn't linger as much as anyone would like.

12-year old Tormore - Speyside
The bottle calls it "the Pearl of Speyside." Who could resist marketing like that? After the Suntory, it was nice to move on to a proper scotch. It had a nice dark color and a very oaky nose (someone even thought of maple syrup). Upon the first taste, the whisky was quite smooth, with hardly any bite at all, and the oakiness gave the impression of syrup all the way through.

Once a bit of water had been added, the full flavor of the whisky really came out, bringing out hints of saltiness and a very smooth and round flavor: "Nutty with a honeyish sweetness". The taste was consistent throughout.

Ledaig Sherry Finish - Island, No age given
All the literature indicated that the age of this Ledaig was less than 10 years. No wonder it's not placed on the label since age probably means more marketability. A whisky's relative youth has never held us back before though.

The nose on this expression was very oaky--almost green oak in fact. Upon first taste, the most immediate note was the smoke. This was followed with a smoky, woody finish. The peat taste didn't fully emerge until after some water was added. One thing we noticed, it gets smokier the longer you drink it. All in all a nice scotch, even it could be considered Laguvalin Light.

12 year-old Caol Isla - Islay
Islay scotches, especially those that we have not yet tried, always are eagerly anticipated. Once the scotch was poured though, I thought someone was pulling my leg. The color was very light--lighter than any Islay scotch I have ever seen. The nose, however, belied its island origins, smelling as one participant called it, "candied peat." Overall the smell was a lovely mix of smoke and peat, and the oak from the cask smell almost like hickory.

Upon tasting, the Caol Isla is a very easy to drink expression. Most of the flavors explode toward the finish, and they then linger nicely. This is one of the few scotches we've tasted that water does very little to improve.

12 year-old Bunahabhain - Islay
Two Islay's in a row. Happy, happy. This one smelled more like a typical Islay (and looked the part too). As for taste (and my notes are getting much here), it had a slightly medicine taste to go along with a mild peatiness. It's a lighter-drinking expression than most Islay scotches.

Adding water really brought out the peat and a bit of saltiness, which is to be expected due to its origin. Even though the taste could be a bit mediciny at times, it had a very long finish. Disconcertingly, however, the nose and taste were a bit inconguent.

Note to self, taste this one earlier in the festivities at some point in the future. Extra points go the website, which is one of the more sophisticated experiences I've seen from a distillery.

10 - 15 year-old Aberlour a'Bunadh Cask Strength - Speyside
This was the last (and strongest) expression tasted. This scotch had a very rich, peppery nose. The first taste was overwhelming (as is usually the case with a cask strength), but with a lot of spicy overtones. Once the water was added (more than usual), honey moving toward spiciness toward the finish, all th while being smooth, buttery, and nutty. Funny, my notes stop just there. Maybe I'd had a bit too much? Nah.

Aberlour is always a favorite, and this one was no different. But a cask strength is not the one to drink at the end of a long day of drinking.

Look out next week for the results of the most recent tasting.

NP: "Mile End" -Pulp

Monday, July 02, 2007

Bush Commutes Scooter's Jail Time

And I'm not surprised. Really. I mean, what exactly does Bush have to lose? He's already tap dancing near Nixon-esque approval levels. Apparently all that talk about accountability when he was elected was a Maine-sized load of bull. And somewhere this afternoon, my friend Senior's head exploded.

NP: "Springfield" - Sufjan Stevens

Weekly Music Report

This should be the last week where I totally rely on my profile for this report. I replaced my iPod so we should return to normal next week. According to, I listened to the following music the most last week:
  1. Stereophonics
  2. The Arcade Fire
  3. Interpol
  4. Moes Haven
  5. Air
  6. Stereolab
  7. The Cure
  8. Badly Drawn Boy
  9. The Strokes
  10. The Charlatans U.K.
    Hot Hot Heat
    The National
    Bloc Party
NP: "Lightning" - Simple Minds

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Arsenal after Henry

I've had a few days to absorb the news that Arsenal's talisman is leaving--and never did the word "talismanic" seem more apropos than when speaking of Henry. I would like to think the shock of the move (although it was long suspected) has worn off, but I may regret these words midway through the 2008-2009 season. Yes you heard me right. A whole season away.

In short, I think this move may be in the best interest of the club in the long term. Of course, it may hurt Arsenal's title chances in the coming season missing his goals, but then again, the team seemed to perform better with Robin van Persie healthy than it did with Henry healthy. So, in the short term, missing a healthy Henry will hurt the club. I'm not sure it totally hamstrings their title chances next season, but that depends on whom Wenger buys in the remainder of the transfer window. After that, I think the absence of Henry will only be a bonus.

Think about it. Thierry Henry was Arsenal football. Everyone on the club deferred to him. And that is dangerous. In the short term, the club will miss his goals, but not his ego (though ego is never a bad thing in a footballer to a certain extent). This will make the team Cesc's and Kolo's, and to a certain extent, van Persie's--all players playing in the shadow of number 14.

All of this assumes of course that Wenger stays after next season, that Arsenal spend some money (which is obviously now available) this offseason, and that the ownership situation stabilizes. If Kroenke splashes a lot of cash about August, all the better (even though I'd prefer the club's ownership to remain stable).

Right now, I expect numbers 11 and 5 to take much of the burden, even if it is not quite enough this season. Last season showed that Arsenal is capable of going toe to toe with the other three of the top four (best record in round robin), now all they need to do is take care of the lesser opposition. I think that exposing them to the bright light outside of Henry's shadow can only do them good. They won't look to him first anymore. Instead, they'll begin to make their own luck, and van Persie has proven what he can do with that.

So, I'm not expecting them to win the league, but its not absolutely out of the question without Henry. Chelsea still looks somewhat vulnerable, and no one played Man U better last season.

What do I expect? Arsenal finish in the top four again without too much trouble (sorry spurs, you haven't proven anything despite how good Berbatov is); qualify for the Champion's League; advance to the knockout stages to face Barcelona (you just know this will happen); and make a run to at least he semifinals in the FA Cup. And yes, I expect Silverware still.

What do I want? Arsenal challenge for the league fighting Man U and Liverpool tooth and nail to the finish; win the FA cup; Robin van Persie nets a hat trick and Lehmann notches a shutout against Barcelona in the first leg of the knockout stages of the Champion's League (sorry Titi, all bets are off); Henry gets a brace in the return leg and is the best player on the pitch to no avail as Arsenal advance behind some fabulous saves from Fabianski (Lehmann being suspended yet again due to an accumulation of yellow cards).

C'mon you Gunners!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Henry Completes Move to Barcelona

I really don't have anything to add. I recently guaranteed a friend that he'd return to Arsenal, but as soon as I sent the e-mail, I knew I'd probably made a mistake.

I'll always remember those goals. Best of luck in Spain Titi.

UPDATE: Of course I'm gutted by this move, but I won't let it get me down on the man's enormous contributions to the club. For eight years, he was the best striker the Premiership had ever seen.

Weekly Music Report

Alas, this week I have to rely on my profile to report which music I listened to the most last week, even though it doesn't count those songs that were played while I wasn't connected to the Interweb. Why do you ask? My iPod gave up the ghost on Saturday (though it has a appointment in the shop today). In any case, here are the most played artists recorded last week by
  1. Snowden
  2. The National
  3. Simple Minds
  4. Beulah
  5. Afghan Whigs
  6. The Hold Steady
  7. Echo & the Bunnymen
  8. Superchunk
  9. Pavement
  10. Garbage
With any luck, the regular, more accurate music report will return next week--either with a fixed iPod or a new one (even though I'm not really ready to drop that kind of cash, it has become almost indispensable).

Friday, June 22, 2007

The American Film Institute has updated their contentious list of the 100 best movies ever. Edward Copeland compares the new list with the original 1998 version.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Free Fonts to Spruce up Your Resume

UPDATE: It appears that the site with these fonts is not Peter Saville's official site (you can find that here--definitely have a look around). So these fonts probably don't have any connection to Mr. Saville, but they're still neat fonts, even without the connection. And that certainly looks like the font used on Closer.

Peter Saville, a designer famous for his work on record sleeves for Factory Records, is now offering free downloads of the fonts he used for some of his most famous record sleeves.

What would that on your resume say about you? (hat tip to Kottke)

NP: "Going Home" - Luna

The Sad State of U.S. Soccer Uniforms

Slate has the details (with pictures). Some of these are just abysmal, including the blue pinstripey number the team will be wearing in the Copa America next month.

While I disagree with the article concerning the white kits the U.S. wore in the World Cup last year (I liked them), I've long been an advocate of using a style of uniform similar to the 50s kit that brought the U.S. what may be its greatest triumph to date (2002 notwithstanding)--upsetting England in the World Cup.

A red sash on a white kit works for River Plate, why not the U.S?

NP: "Beware" - Afghan Whigs

Monday, June 18, 2007

Intown Living

I've never noticed it before, but when I'm outside my loft, I can actually hear the whistles of the traffic cops directing shepherding traffic out of the Turner Field lots.

NP: Baseball Tonight

Weekly Music Report

During the last week, I listened to the following music the most (ending Sunday):
  1. The National - 7 tracks
  2. Camera Obscura - 6 tracks
  3. Echo & the Bunnymen - 6 tracks
  4. Arcade Fire - 5 tracks
  5. ...And You Will Now Us by the Trail of Dead - 5 Tracks
  6. British Sea Power - 4 tracks
  7. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - 4 tracks
  8. Afghan Whigs - 4 tracks
  9. The Futureheads - 4 tracks
  10. 4 artists with 3 tracks (Hüsker Dü, Kasabian, Sparklehorse, Stephen Malkmus)
I've had a relatively light listening week as I only listened to 254 unique songs. As always, you can keep up with my current listening habits over at my profile.

NP: "Delicious" - The Catherine Wheel

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Bloomsday!

James Joyce's Ulysses, which many consider to be the best novel of the 20th century, took place 103 years ago today.

Yes I said yes I will Yes


NP: "Declare Independence" - Bjork

Thursday, June 14, 2007

More on the War Against Science

A recent Gallup poll show that a majority of Republicans in the U.S. do not believe the theory of evolution. This is just more evidence that reason and many of the powers that be in this country are not compatible. It's funny that other theories that are just as established aren't under fire such as gravity and the fact that the earth orbits the sun (oh wait). Wherever science doesn't match a strict world view (whether it is religion-based or greed-based), it's alway seems to be the Republicans fighting reason and science. This anti-intellectualism quite worries me.

NP: "Porcupine" - Echo & the Bunnymen

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not M.I.A.

Maybe the folks who put together the class of '91 newsletter read this blog. I'm no longer M.I.A. as I received said newsletter today. I do notice that my freshman year roommate is among the missing though.

It must be time for them to start asking about money.
100 words every high-school graduate should know. I have to admit, there were a couple I didn't know, and there are words that I've never used, even though writing is my trade.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Apple Moves onto Microsoft's Turf

Safari is now available for Windows. I've long been a proponent of Firefox, but the introduction of Safari for the PC is yet another reason to ditch Internet Explorer. I'll probably install it and give it a go since so many of my Apple loving friends swear by it. Download Safari.

NP: "Fake Empire" - The National

Weekly Music Report

I listened to a lot a music last week, 599 songs to be exact. Here are the top 10 artists for the last seven days:
  1. Blur - 10 tracks
  2. Game Theory - 10 tracks
  3. Husker Du - 10 tracks
  4. R.E.M. - 10 tracks
  5. Echo & the Bunnymen - 8 tracks
  6. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - 8 tracks
  7. Toenut - 8 tracks
  8. The Charlatans U.K. - 7 tracks
  9. Catherine Wheel - 6 tracks
  10. Neko Case - 6 tracks
    The Church - 6 tracks
    Death Cab for Cutie - 6 tracks
    Explosions in the Sky - 6 tracks
    Idlewild - 6 tracks
    Iron & Wine - 6 tracks
    Lush - 6 tracks
    The Pixies - 6 tracks
    The Pogues - 6 tracks
    Pulp - 6 tracks
    Wilco - 6 tracks
To see more realtime information on what I'm listening, visit my profile page.

NP: "Natural's Not in It" - Gang of Four
Writers list their favorite film adaptations of novels.

Friday, June 08, 2007

U.S. Men Begin Road to 2010 World Cup

Sports Illustrated currently has a couple of good articles about a crucial summer for the U.S. Men’s National Team. First, Greg Lalas writes that the Bradley Era has officially begun, which goes some way to assuaging my concerns about his permanent appointment.

While I was initially against the naming of Bradley as the interim coach, his performance has merited the removal of that tag from his job. This is now his team, and how they perform this summer will go a long way toward showing what kind of soccer the team will be playing, and even who will be playing it. I’ve admired how he’s begun bringing in new faces to replace Brian McBride and Claudio Reyna, who retired, as well as to challenge other veterans who may have been complacent in their roles.

The second by Johan Freedman argues that this summer is crucial in the beginning the road to the World Cup. I agree with a lot in this article. Particularly his point about the level of opposition.

It’s about time the U.S. began playing stiff opposition on the road. Traveling to Venezuela for the Copa America is an excellent start. They’ll find much stiffer competition than the team faced in the World Cup warm ups. With all due respect, Argentina, Paraguay, and Columbia are much better than Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia. And that’s not all, the team is traveling to Europe this fall to play matches against a number of countries, including 2006 World Cup participants Sweden and Switzerland.

Finally, Freedman states that this summer sees the U-20 world championships. This tournament, later this summer, will showcase the future, and players should be looking at this as the best way to showcase their talents and begin the arguments for inclusion in the senior squad when qualification gets underway next year. I’m looking at you Freddy Adu, but I’m also expecting big things from Red Bull New York phenom Jozy Altidore.

How’s it working out so far? The U.S. opened the Gold Cup with a 1-0 win over Guatemala, a team that traditionally plays them very tough. Clint Dempsey scored the winner, and I expect that will begin to happen more and more often. More surprisingly here was who wore the captain’s armband—it wasn’t Landon Donovan. I’m not sure why either, especially since he had just begun recovering his form this winter. I guessing it’s getting other players experience with it before leaving for South America since Donovan likely will be staying in the U.S. for that tournament.