Ronco need not apply.

Anyone who has spent time around me (or endured it, as the case may be), probably knows that I have a thing for arcade games. If you were to suggest that it was in fact more of an obsession, I would be hard pressed to come up with an articulate counter to that proposition. My age certainly has some bearing on the development of that obsession, as arcades truly hit the big time right around the time I started getting a reasonable allowance, and the limited autonomy to do something with it. My father has to shoulder some of the blame as well, as he and I were not the stereotypical Father-Son combo, pitching baseballs in the backyard or tinkering in the garage with cars or power tools. Instead many a Saturday afternoon of my childhood found me in taverns where my father would shoot the bull with friends or business associates, and I would enjoy the culinary joy that is the "Bar Burger", and usually score a few stacks of quarters to plunk into whatever video game or pinball machine happened to be there at the time. I can still remember the Gorgar Pinball, at the Castle Tavern, glowing an ominous red from the illuminated backglass. Or the confounding buttons only control scheme of the Rip Off video game right next to it. There were countless others through the years, but 1979-80 was around the time that the arcade bug hit me full on, and those two games hold a lot of weight in my memories as the starting point of a long wonderful relationship with coin operated entertainment.

The 80's definitely saw my focus draw in on video games, but there were always a few pin through the years that would catch my attention, if only for a short spell, or until the next big video title made it to the local arcade. I flirted with pinballs through the 80's but the vids always were my true loves. With the crash of the arcade industry as a whole in the late 80's, and the rise of home consoles like NES, Genesis, and Playstations, arcades became more and more sad places to visit, and it was usually a chance encounter with an old classic in a laundromat or convenience store that would most often have me dropping quarters again.

Then something interesting happened. Pinball got more interesting to me than ever before. Maybe it was the realization that video games ultimately became an act of pattern recognition and memorization (You think Pac-Man would have taught me that already), or that pinball machines started taking advantage of advances in technology, and design, but at some point Pinball became much more fascinating than video games to me. I might still play more video games, but Pinball was something special. Games like The Addams Family, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Road Show, and many others were just too damn clever, and given some practice, much more fun than the latest Street Fighter, or Mortal Kombat, or whatever knock off of those two games you might happen to run into. Not only that, people who had no interest in vids, could at least be coerced into joining you in a game of pinball. I think the sheer physicality of playing pinball might have something to do with it. You feel infinitely more connected to the game play of most pinballs, than you do with most vids.

Fortunately for me, I was again in the right place at the right time. the 90's saw the last gasp of pinball as a commonplace form of entertainment, and the Student Union at Duquesne University, as well as the Bee Hive coffee shop in the South Side of Pittsburgh, both had a nice lengthy run of good pins in good condition - something that in my experience is very rare. Even the dive bar I frequented, had a string of good pinball machines. It was meant to be I guess. Pinball was a cheap form of entertainment, that at least held out the hope of a return on investment in the form of the free game - for beating a predetermined score, or even the famous "match" which was something like the pinball equivalent to "The first one is free", sucking you in for another game. The hours of sending shiny steel balls around an inclined plane of wood, dotted with lights targets and obstacles, are ones I will never regret spending.

With all that said, it should not shock you in the least to see the following:

Yup. My very own pinball machine. Sitting right behind me as I type this. One of my favorite pins of all time. One I can still recall playing with friends, and my future wife in that dank Student Union Games area. If it were not such a noisy contraption, I would almost certainly be playing it right now, but some people need to sleep, so as to get up earlier than me tomorrow, so it sits idle for now, awaiting my inevitable assault on mars to recommence tomorrow.

So should you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, and feel a need to play some pinball, please do stop by. I've got it set on free play.

go and tell me all about it



... or, The Roomba Report.

There were some curious folks over at chez Cafe-Nation , wondering about the effetiveness of a certain circular vacuuming device. I threw in my 2 cents on the topic explaining that I had all but given up on the technology of vacuums and was regressing into pre-carpet technology as a defense against destroying more household appliances. Not too long after that, the wife and I received an early Christmas present, and after about 5-6 weeks of use, I feel like I can actually offer up some useful info on the Robot Vacuum cleaner that is Roomba.

First you need to understand that there are some environs that this is just not going to be an option for you - mainly if you have a a bunch of crap on your floors, like electrical cords, shoes, numerous pet toys etc. These are the enemies of Roomba, and if you are the type to simply kick these things out of the way as you vacuum, then you'll have to think of some new tactic to employ or stick with your current methods. The Roomba wants minimal obstructions when working, and anything much beyond your furniture is really going to affect it's efficiency.
Next, you need to realize that this thing is small, and you are going to have to clean it out after every use. But hey, the thing is going to vacuum without you, so you can spend a few minutes emptying it out, and pulling pet hair from the brushes. I know you can.
Finally, you are going to have to understand that the word vacuum, is applied more so you understand the task it is designed for, not the technology that is being employed, as the thing is really little more than two opposing brushes and a collection bin. If massive suction is your cup of tea, then the Roomba is going to be a disappointment, I'm afraid. This thing does not strike me as a workhorse on shag carpet, but then I am not cursed with that kind of pile on my floors. If tile / wood / low-pile carpets are your target surfaces, the Roomba will get the job done handily. While you can purchase units that allow you to schedule it to run while you are out of the house, I wouldn't bother. Unless you have decor so sparse that Danish design majors are always coming over to photograph it, you are always going to need to be within earshot of it when it gets stuck. Otherwise you'll just come home to find out that the scheduled run failed, and have to recharge the thing and redo it anyway, why spend money on a feature that you will probably never see the full benefits of. If you have pets, you might want to get the model up from the one I linked to (and own), as for $20 more, you get some tools that help you clean out the brushes easier, and supposedly, the brushes themselves have some special design to help aid in the cleaning of pet hair. I have no Idea if these features work, but for $20 - if you have pets, it's probably worth the gamble. As for me, I've got four cats, and I find that after 6 weeks of regular use, I'm definitely not going back. Heck, If the Scooba floor scrubber wasn't $400, I'd probably have one of those on order already. So in short, for lazy people who would like a clean floor, but are not complete slobs (anymore), the Roomba is a pretty fine solution, and a damn fine way to amuse yourselves and your pets.

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"They went on forever. They... When I... We lived in Arizona, and the skies always had these little fluffy clouds in them. And they were long, and clear, and there were lots of stars at night. And when it would rain, they would all turn – they were beautiful, the most beautiful skies, as a matter of fact. Um, the sunsets were purple and red and yellow and on fire, and the clouds would catch the colors everywhere. That's, uh, neat cause I used to look at them all the time when I was little. You don't see that. You might still see it in the desert. " - Ricki Lee Jones, as sampled by The Orb

"Phoenix Arizona, where Summer comes for the Winter, and Hell comes for the Summer" - Unattributed

I think both sum up the short term view I have of my new place of residence. We came down in late June for an interview, and again in mid August to shop for a house, and Phoenix did not dissapoint giving us 110+ temps on both trips down, additionally getting to sit out at the pool of our hotel in Aug, and watch spectacular sunsets followed up by the police surveilance helicopters circle not far off with their spotlight tracking some perp, loose in the naked city. It was spectacular, a reaffirmation of what we were getting into with a move to a real metripolitan area after 6 years in Gallup. Believe me when I tell you that I was ready, and ultimately relieved that we did not wind up in Anchorage. As cool as it would be to get all romantic about the notion while Michelle Shocked plays in the background is nice and all, but the reality was the distance and possibly the weather (light not temps) would have driven us more than a little bonkers.

So we've staked out some new digs, which I will endeavour to post about in the future, and the job hunt begins again after 5 years steady with my last gig, so that should make for some potential blogging fodder. Just thought I should get the juices flowing again with a quick "I'm not dead" post.

go and tell me all about it



Yes they're futuristic plans
Move out west and buy some desert lands
Or maybe up north just past Alaska
You know nothing of this if they ask-ya
- Clutch "Escape From the Prison Planet"

Amusing that I should find this song in heavy rotation of late as the new contenders in the "Where the hell are we moving next" contest are vetted. Ann made the trek to Anchorage solo, as the airfare was just to prohibitive to our beach plans. Besides, I said it before - her career drives the bus. She's in her field for the long term, and the Uniformed Services are ultimately about career comittment. I also think she should be in the best possible work enviornment, of which her current one is not. She gave me the highlights:
Sunset was at 11:30pm, sunrise 4:15am. Kooky, imagine the reverse, and you've got it all figured out. She stopped in the local Wal-Mart to seek ATM goodness, and said that at 10:30 at night the place was hopping like it was mid-afternoon. Apparently people get pretty manic in the summertime.
She saw no Moose, but did spy a Black bear cub. Anchorage is currently fineing residents who neglect their garbage to the tune of $110 so I may have to give some consideration into getting one of these,
Overall, the site looks good, with a lot of long term potential. Definitely a plus.

This past weekend we drove down to Phoenix to check out their hospital. Well rather Ann checked it out, and I slept through the Germany / Sweden world cup match. Actually, that's not tru I actually saw the relevant parts, as I only fell asleep after Germany scored it's second goa and 11 minutes or so. Phoenix also passed muster as well, though after craving an urban landscape for so long, I think I may be a little too "East Coast" to be able to settle for the endless subdivisions, and nauseatingly gridlike roads. Go figure.

You might be guessing by now, that Anchorage would be the front runner, and you would indeed be spot on. Sight unseen, I just have a better vibe about the whole situation, and after 6 years living in a town of 20,000 maybe Anchorage is a more manageable population for my stunted senses at around 200,000. Only time will tell though, regardless of what we want, they have to want us too.

go and tell me all about it



Truly bizzare logic from The Govenator .

I have always been a little mystified by one recurring event in professional sports - And that is the sillyness and bullheadedness that surrounds the intersection of Professional Football. To want a franchise in this city is to wish certain failure. If there is a bright center of the football universe, Los Angeles, California is the point furthest from it. The Chargers, Rams, and Raiders all has their shots, and all fled, and still we are told that LA needs a franchise. It is too Big to ignore, as a media market. It is too big of a cultural touchstone to not have an entertainment juggernaut the likes of the NFL involved. It is important to both parties we are told.

It is all a bunch of hokum.

LA cares about vesting themselves in a local team the way that a Rottweiler cares about a leafy green salad. I have no doubt that LA cares about football on some level. A weekend in Vegas will tell you that a large segment of SoCal has a real investment on the comings and goings of the leauge. But this is a town that is too busy to spend a whole day on one activity. Basketball caters to the Celebrity Mentality of the city - a quick affair compared to the ritual that has become Game Day in the NFL. On any given Sunday, a large percentage of americans are more up to date with the stats, profiles, analysis, and ephemera, that the mind reels.

LA aint worshipin you that way baby. It's the ultimate ME First town. To put in the hours required for the game is too big a strain on an already busy calander. And so, when LA gets yet another franchise, we will all silently begin our death watches, seeing what the over/under is and placing our bets accordingly. Because win or lose, LA will tire of you eventually, as they always have.

When I read that Schwarzenegger wants to double the fun, all I can say is, don't bogart that dude.

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The question has been raised recently via e-mail: "how you livin?"
A fair question, one that can be answered in both short or long form responses.
You may in fact be surprised that I have decided to go for the long form.
First the big news - My sentence has apparently been reduced - and I will be released from the confines of Gallup, NM sometime in the very near future. Depending on where the new destination is located, we may revisit this idea and decide that it was not a reduction of sentence, but rather a simple prisoner exchange.
It has been almost 6 years to the day that I first made my way to Gallup. It was April of 2000, Ann was nearing graduation, wedding plans were well underway, and career shopping was a chief priority as I was continuing a strong trend towards not utilizing any of my degrees to earn a decent living. Now, 6 years later and a lot has changed, and there have been a few times when I could at least envision ANn and I staying here for the long term and then figuring out where to retire to.
There is no need to continue with that particular musing.
For various reasons, Ann has taken it upon herself to find a new post within the Indian Health Service. This saturday she'll head out to Albuquerque, jump on a plane, and fly to the current frontrunner for procuring her services. The far flung outpost? Bemidji Minnesota.
Those who know me well are no doubt chuckling to themselves, as my love of winter weather and ICE-centric sports is in fact nonexistant. Cold is something for your bevarage to be, not you. Stll, you have to get at least a little excited about a town that has boldy declared itself "Curling Capital U.S.A.". These are obviously folk who don't feel the need to bitch about the cold and snow.
I have to say I'm actually pretty up on the idea of moving to MN. Partly because I've at least been there a few times, and when not covered with ice and snow, the place is pretty spectacular. The countryside, along with the uncountable lakes (400 or so in a 25 mile radius of Bemidji, I hear) is picture perfect really. But there is another reason why I am up on MN.
It is not Alaska.
See, currently the number 2 selection on Ann's job hunt is located in Anchorage. For some this would be the ultimate adventure. I think for me it might be the start of the ultimate breakdown. 19 hour summer days, and 19 hour winter nights sound interesting in conversation, but I suspect the practicality of it is less than optimal. It might be argued that there are some days when it seems like I'm in complete darkness, but in fact I can see the light outside through the gaps in the curtains. It is that kind of knowledge that keeps me comfortable in the dim confines of the computer room some days. There is also the increased expense of living there. The utterly remoteness of the location; by my guess it's damn near equidistant from Anchorage to Tokyo or Anchorage to Pittsburgh. I'm not sure that's the sort of comparison I'm comfortable making with my city of residence.
As it stands I wait for next tuesday, when Ann gets back from Bemidji and tells me if we're heading to the Land O Lakes or not. One way or another, it seems we'll be leaving Gallup. It's a question of when, not if.
It will be strange walking away from everything we've put together here, but it is also more than a little exciting to shake things up again.

go and tell me all about it


Because You Asked...

...well at least one of you did.

Having been born and raised in Pittsburgh, it is not surprising that I have had certain relationships with many of the local Sporting Franchises. In the 70's when most of the the Golden Triangle was obsessing over the establishment of Dynasty, I was more taken by the Pirates - I even was fortunate enough to attend a game of the World Series in '79. Alas, baseball soon seemed more of a circus than the american passtime, and my enjoyment of the sport diminished until I realized that I detest the sport. While the Pirates flirted with a chance at greatness, and the Steelers awaited the retirement of Emporer Chaz Noll, I delighted in the triumphs of our Flightless Birds, and the Magic that was Mario on Ice. Of course the NHL went on a spending spree right around that time, the long term effects of which were only felt last year, when the leauge decided a year without play was better than any alternative. Haven't watched a game begining to end since the mid to late 90's. Through all of the distractions though, sundays in fall were reserved for the true black and gold of the Steelers. While my interest waned when the good times went bad with Baseball and Hockey, Football was another animal altogether. Somehow even the worst football game was better than the best of the rest. Fortunately, the Steelers have not been at their worst in quite some time.

Their performance of late has been so good that the black and gold clad Steelers will find themselves in the rareified air of Detroit this Feb. for that Leaugue's championship game - The Super Bowl.

I've been lucky enough to see Super Bowl victories, Stanley Cup Victories, and even a World Series victory during my time in Pittsburgh - as a fan, I know I'm very lucky.

So in just a short while I will be rewarded for my long term devotion to the Steelers. For even as the Penguins and Pirates tried to gain top billing from the pigskin set, I realize that Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, Bubby Brister, Neil (I helped us blow a perfectly good super bowl) O'Donnel, and even Kordel Stewart, on any given Sunday mean more to me than any other Pittsburgh Team. To have suffered through the bad seasons, the good seasons gone wrong, and the last minute heartbreaks, makes XL all that XLer.

To my team, and the team of so many others, win or lose, thanks for another spectacular season. I don't usually rate an individual over an entire team, but damn boys, win this one for Jerome, and you get to go along for the ride too.

go and tell me all about it



Well, at least I did get to feel a part of it.

I'm sitting back in the great expanse many of you know as the Southwest. 12 hours + of travel time from NYC just behind me, and the last week still spinning in my noggin. Things to pass on to you dear readers...

The Setup

The 5+ years here in gallup have caused certain sensitivities to develop. Most of them can be sated a thousand times over in a place like New York. So a trip to Grenwich Village was sort of one of the must do's on the list. As luck would have it, I struck footwear gold. A very nice shoestore that actually had a decent selections of Men's kicks that did not include Sketchers, Lugz, or anything remotely athletic. I splurged on a fine pair of black ankle boots. I call it a belated Christmas present, and so did my better half.

Friday brought us to the madness that is Times Square. The prep work for NYE was well under way, and being a holiday weekend, the theater crowd was in full effect. Meg hooked us all up with tix to Spamalot. I'm not huge on the whole Musical Theater tip, but The subject matter was pretty hard to pass on. David Hyde Pierce was freaking brilliant. I would have to say that to see the show without him would have been a lesser experience. Interestingly, Tim Curry was in absentia, replaced by an Actor I have no chance of naming presently, he did a hell of a job, and I suspect brought his own take on the role to the stage. You'll be distressed to know that Phantom is still a draw, and that Disney is adapting their version of Tarzan to the stage (shudder). If it had been my dime I would have opted for a play, and their looked to be some interesting ones to choose from, including a very bizzare take on Charles Shultzes Peanuts - with the kids gone all Gen-X or some shit. (BTW, Snoopy died of rabies).

Did I mention I got a mismatched pair of boots? Yup. a 42 & a 41 1/2. Luckily a short ca ride is all that would be required to go and attempt an exchange, and since Saturday saw the creatives in the group head off to a painting class, it was up to me and My Father in-law to head over to the Villiage. Shortly after hailing a cab, we were heading west and stopped at a light. Then - a sudden lurch forward and the sound that is unique to two durable vehicles colliding - we got rear ended by another cab. As if that is not enough excitement, the cab that struck us veers off to the left side of the street, slams into a Mercedes SUV (Ha Ha! I hate SUVs) and pushes it onto the sidewalk where a large building halts any further progress. The cab's rear wheels continue to spin rapidly billowing white smoke into the air. Our cabbie gets out (after thoughtfully stopping the meter), checks his car for damage, and finds none. He then pops the trunk, assuring that his vehicle is still luggage capable. Finally he looks to his passaengers, and we let him know that we are in fact, just dandy. With that the meter begins again, and we finish the task at hand. My boots now match, and I appear to be whiplash free. That was truly the most exciting part of new years eve for me, as we just chilled at Meg's place, a few friends of hers stopped by, and we polished of four bottles of Champagne. Woot!

A trip to Chinatown, brought us to Winnies, a dive that I will describe as a Chinese adaptation of Dee's Cafe in Pittsburgh, only smaller and with Karaoke. I did Sinatra (Summer Wind, not My Way) and a severly intoxicated gentlemen who cheered on all singers in a language I could not even begin to think actually exists, made my night by smoking indoors - Double Woot!

The Stark Beauty of it all - Stanten Island Ferry. 40 degrees and overcast is probably not the best way to see New York from the Water, but it was still fantastic. We then wandered the Financial district for a bit, and topped things off with a great meal at Lupa, a fantastic Italian restaurant where everything was delicious, and not too badly priced for NYC.

A final trip up 5th Avenue for some retail therapy brought us to the Manolo Blahnik store. One the first dy of their 1/3 off sale. When your signifigant other offers up the argument that they are saving $900 on a pair of snakeskin pumps, just remember that there is still almost 2 grand of NOT SAVING going on simultaneously. Still it was fun to browse, but nothing had to come home that day. However footwear for my sweet was not denied, as she picked up a pair of red Frye Motorcycle boots. That made the bank account much less worried.

Aside from some delays at Laguardia (bad weather in Chicago), things went smoothly home, and all in all the trip reminded me that I still love the noise, the dirt, the pace - The City. It's not Pittsburgh, but an Urban setting is always a welcome comfort.

Now the trip is past, the semester in full tilt boogie, and routine is reestablished. The spiritual recharge will hold me over for a while, I'm sure.

go and tell me all about it



What they don't want you to hear.

Not so long ago an obscure DJ, using the handle DJ Dangermouse made a splash with his very inventive remix album "The Grey Album" , that was an inventive fusion of The Beatles White Albumn, and Jay-Z's Black Album. Thanks to the viral nature of the net, and a bevy of P2P enthusiasts, the eventual cease-and desist was utterly useless in preventing the distribution of the remixed work. For many listeners this was their first and only exposure to a genre known as Bastard Pop, or more commonly these days - Mashups. I am not one of those listeners. I have become quite entranced by the reinvention of music by third parties. Imagine my surprise when I discovered another Full Length Album Mashup recently - AmericanEdit, a truly spectacular reworking of Green Day's American Idiot, put together by numerous remixers collectively crediting themselves as Dean Gray (clever lads). Not surprisingly the cease and desist route was put into play again, and the original source is unsurprisingly no longer functioning. Of course that won't stop other sources from making it available - torrents, direct downloads, and the ever popular P2P networks will hook you up should you be curious. I would strongly recommend that you at least take the time to find the opening track - American Jesus, which bears no resemblance to the Bad Religion song of the same name.

While DJ Dangermouse literaly stuck to his two primary sources (Jay-Z, Beatles and nothing else), the AmericanEdit album uses the entire Green Day album, but is all over the map for additional materials - George Bush, Bill Hicks, John F. Kennedy, Smokey Robinson, Oasis, and oh so many more find their way into the mix. The result is most gratifying for those who enjoy the notion of taking the listeners' expectations and turning them completely on their head.

You owe it to yourself to do a little digging and take a listen.

go and tell me all about it



...but without all the little pieces of food in my beard.

At least, that's what I'm expecting from this post, as it has been far too long since my last visit to this confessional. I won't apologize, since I'm really not sorry. It's not that I had nothing to say, rather I had no desire to say it. SO with that, on with the show.

It's funny that the post that immediately preceded thyis one was a rant about the Rolling Stones selling out. Imagine my surprise when last week's Monday Night Football game spends part of the halftime going on about the Half-Time headliner for the Superbowl - The Rolling Stones. Now it's bad enough that I'm watching the Steelers shuffle through this game like sandlot players, but then I have to hear Al Michaels try and sound excited about the Half-Time portion of the Superbowl. Folks, More people tune into watch the broadcast for the commercials than care about the half-time show. The light-beer soft-porn wrestinlg show that airs for 9 minutes on another network will draw better ratings than these fucking geezers.

Whatever we had for political discourse in this country is dead. I'm pretty sure it's all over but the burning of Rome. Mind you, I don't think that will happen anytime soon, I'm dubious it will occur in my lifetime. I do believe however, that we are closer to our end than we are to our beggining at this point. All people ever do anymore is point fingers, make snide remarks, and get back to the business of self-gratification. I'm certainly guilty of taking that road. But it used to be in between the barbs were often moments of thoughtfulness - from both sides of the aisle. If that is an occurance in this day and age it has been sadly buried so deftly into the C-Span schedule that no one can possibly set their tivo to capture the moment. I like to think that maybe the next generation makes fewer of the mistakes of mine, but history tells me that's a pretty silly thing to wish for, and maybe there is a fat guy in a red suit who can help me out with the problem while we discuss what kind of cellphone I want for Christmas. I was young and idealistic once, but sarcastic and cynical is such a good fit for me these days.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't.

Speaking of self-indulgence, I will have the Joy of spending the New Year in a real life Metropolis. Manhattan is the destination, and I have already begun mapping out the various culinary delights that will be savored. Italian is definitely on the menu, and since Ann will be along for the ride too, I'm sure that Sushi, or some other Asian Cusine will be penciled in too. You know what I really want more than any of the Gourmet stuff? I want a good slice of pizza. Preferably made by a proprietor who has but one location, hopefully family run, and ideally by a family that speaks fluent Italian to each other as a way to keep me out of their conversation. I have no scientific evidence for this theory, but my experience tells me you simply can not go wrong buying a Pie from an establishment that adheres to those standards.

Only mildly less self-indulgent will be the opportunity to replace my wedding ring, that is most llikely still swimming in the Atlantic at this time. I wen't just a hair over 5 years without removing the ring for any activity, except to wash it and my hands after some particularly filthy task, and to have gone the last few months without it has been very weird. I still find myself sliding my thumb over to my ring finger to spin it around only to be met by rotationally challenged flesh. Since the ring was a one-off, made in Pittsburgh, I've decided to reinvent the ring as opposed to trying to duplicate it. Wish me luck, shopping for jewelry is not, and I suspect will never be, a strong suit for me.

Well I guess thats a little something something to try and get the blogging works back into motion. See you next post.

go and tell me all about it



But still, this really has to nauseate you. ANYONE who would see the stones on tour in this day and age, had better be:

1. Signifigantly older than me.
2. Feeling bummed about missing them on tour EVERY previous chance they may have had.
3. Recovering from blunt force head trauma.

Seriously, the corporate whoring is just pathetic. I can understand guys like Moby, who used the licensing of his Play albumn to enrich both himself, and his label - c'mon how many people had ever heard of Moby prior to that cunning reverse-marketing? But you are THE ROLLING FUCKING STONES - you have a history, a back catalog to die for, and you pimp financial services and cars for the upper-middle class? You are no longer Rock and Roll, Rolling Stones, you are pathetic old has-beens.

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End Of An Era

Well Dave beat me to it, but I had a post bubbling up for the last few weeks about the Tour dee France, and reading his has given me a starting point.

First congratulations go to Armstrong for the previously unthinkable 7th Tour victory. Regardless of his status as a cancer survivor, 7 Victories in the most grueling Bicycle race in the world is no mean feat. Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian publication lavished praise on high, claiming that Merckx and Hinault (5 time winnwers each) had nothing on him.

With all due respect. That's a load of shit.

Don't get me wrong Armstrong, is the greatest rider in Tour de France history, but that feat alone does not unseat Eddy Mercx as the greatest professional cyclist ever. See, Armstrong has pretty much committed himself to one goal each of the last seven years - riding and winning the tour. In that pursuit Armstrong is unmatched. His place in history is solidified, and rightfully so.

But there is so much more to Pro Cycling than that one event. The pro season starts in earnest in the spring with the "Classics" one day races with names that most americans have never heard, aside from hearing them in passing during the animated ramblings of Paul Sherwin and Phil Ligget, the voices of the Tour for those in the U.S. That's a real shame. Races like Paris Roubaix, Fleche-Wellon, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Flanders - the list literally goes on and on. These are Huge races in theri own right, and many of the riders you see in the Tour actually race them. But not Lance. His singular obsession with the tour is his asterisk, if you will. Time was when top riders would ride a slate of classics, the Giro (Tour of Italy), The Tour, and the World Road Championships. These riders typically had a shot in every race they entered. Lance doesn't accept those distractions, and sped up an already developing trend for top riders to aim for very specific results. The days of a rider pulling a Stephe Roche and winning the Giro, the Tour, and the world Championships in the same season are over. Riders who wish to excell in the tour will likely take a page out of Armstrong's book, and train specifically for that event, cutting large swaths of races out of their calendar to train on the course. This is fine, and we will laud their efforts, and maybe even see another rider dominate multiple tours. But this age of specialists will only serve to cement the past masters as the true kings of the sport.

Eddy Merckx is still the gold standard in my book. His dominance in every aspect of road racing speaks for itself, and to also hold the hour record (an obscure but relevant record) in his career only shows how total his power on a bicycle was.

Lance is a hero to a new era in cycling, let's hope it's a good one.

go and tell me all about it




go and tell me all about it



A good friend wrote to discuss my take on Revenge of the Sith. Mostly to say he was at first surprised, but then wound up agreeing with a lot of what I said. He also poised certain possibilities as to why we had become so disenchanted. Were these three films so much worse than the first three, or did we simply remember them as better due to where we were in life (young) when we first viewed them?

I had to stop and really consider this a goodly amount to try and come to a clear conclusion.

Ultimately, I think my take on the first three is that they peaked with Empire Strikes Back, and a good hard look at Return of the Jedi should leave us not the least surprised at how the "prequels" went. Star Wars (EP IV) was a fluke. A joyful, incredible, dazzling fluke. That's not to say it was a bad film, but it makes no sense that it achieved the success it did. Now Empire had George in a position where he still had to proove he had the goods. He wrote the treatment, and did some work on the final draft of the shooting script, but wrote very little of it in between. Pay attention to the dialouge of that film and tell me it isn't head and shoulders above the others. Empire also had Irvin Kershner as Director - that's right, George was not behind the lense the whole time. Notice how Empire fed our desire for those spectacular battle scenes (and the Hoth Battle is something I could probably watch over and over and never tire of), while still keeping the intimacy of smaller sets for many of the interpersonal scenes. Think of how basic Daghoba was - the area of that planet they showed us is only slightly larger than the average schoolyard playground. The clautrophobia of the rebel base (corridors, low ceiling control rooms) even the final saber fight between Luke and Vader was mostly indoors and in a relatively small space. The focus was on the charachters - they just happend to live in a galaxy far far away. Jedi is where Lucas seems to realize that this baby is his legacy and pulls in a little more control for himself, The result? Ewoks, some of Lukes hokiest lines to date, and surprise! Death Staer Mark II! Except with a gazillion more spaceships and explosions. Cute cloying characters, stiff grade school dialouge and visual overload would be the formula that Lucas kept on simmer for 20 years, and then unloaded it on us as no one could have imagined. They stand as some of the most visually stunning bad movies ever made. I'll keep the original trilogy, but I hold no illusions of the creators abilities as a storyteller. Fair to middling.

go and tell me all about it

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