Praise be! The snobbery of the left is no more appealing than the snobbery of the right. Spilling haterade on Ikea, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s isn’t going to make your life any better. (And those McGriddles are good!)
Praise be! The snobbery of the left is no more appealing than the snobbery of the right. Spilling haterade on Ikea, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and McDonald’s isn’t going to make your life any better. (And those McGriddles are good!)
I’ll be doing my first TV appearance in a looooong time this afternoon, around 5:30 on TXCN. I’ll be talking about Gov. Perry’s education funding proposals.
Best crabwalk.com-related email I’ve gotten in a long while:
This may sound like a very strange request but I was wondering if you could settle a bet for me? I was wondering if you could tell me whether the weasel in the picture on your website is holding a pencil just out of shot? Strange request I know but me and a few friends got talking about it and a stupid bet was made which we need sorted.
For the record, no.
More proof of continued employment: Here’s my story from today’s front page. Those uninterested in the equity minutiae of incentivizing public school finance via achievement levels are advised to move along sans click. (Actually, I only wrote the second half of it, roughly.)
By the way, I should point out that all that “anastasia myskina naked” talk a few posts back has paid off — Google has been sending me about 150 extra visitors every day, most of them searching for some combination of those words. Welcome, pornhounds!
Strange dream last night. An old high school buddy of mine sat me down to tell me some bad news: This girl I had a huge crush on all throughout my teenage years — and whom I haven’t seen in a decade — was dying. Dying of a rare combination of Asperger’s syndrome and Dutch elm disease.
I hope her root structure is still strong.
It’s funny to see the same writer’s style shoehorned into different venues. On his blog, Marshall has a loose style, albeit with the sort of logical argument flow you’d expect from someone with an opinion journal background. His stuff for the Washington Monthly follows along the same lines. But this New Yorker piece has that straightjacket feel that all New Yorker pieces have. You can almost imagine him hovering over each word, wondering: “Is that too conversational? Does that phrase sound too much like something a human being might actually say? Can I stuff another clause to this sentence?”
Not that there’s anything wrong with the New Yorker house style — David Remnick, if you’re reading this, I’m available!
Speaking of Washington Monthly, a funny piece about being Bill Clinton’s head joke writer.
For her birthday, she asked for a DustBuster. Her wish is my command.
Sadly, Chanda’s run comes to an ignominious end, losing 6-7, 6-2, 6-2 to suspected Chechen war criminal Anastasia Myskina. It was actually worse than the score indicates: Chanda jumped out 4-0 in the first set but was outgamed 18-7 from there on out.
If this storyline seems familiar, it’s because Chanda lost to the same Wretched Russian in the same round last year. Exactly 360 days ago, to be precise.
So Katie, you can start reading again.
No problem for Chanda in the third — she whupped up on former KGB agent Elena Likhovtseva 6-3, 6-2.
Unfortunately, the unreconstructed Stalinist Anastasia Myskina held off the much cuter Maria Sharapova, meaning she’ll be Chanda’s next opponent. Myskina knocked Chanda out of last year’s Australian — she’s a strong baseliner and a tough matchup for Our Hero.
(Even if she’s best known for posing nude on a horse in GQ, alongside crabwalk.com fave [at least until she got too skinny] Daniela Hantuchova. See, isn’t it much better when I can work that word “nude” into the text of a post naturally and not have to force it in for Google to find? And now I bet I get lots of “maria sharapova naked” and “maria sharapova nude” hits too. Thanks, Google!)
Looks like the Thermals have recorded their second album, to be released in May. Their last one was great, amateurish fun — imagine early Guided By Voices, but faster, punkier, and less weird. In an alternate universe where Green Day went to college and majored in semiotics, they’d sound like the Thermals. (MP3 of “No Culture Icons,” one of the slower songs on the album, here.)
In their brief recording history, the band has been defined by its production values, of which there are basically none. The first album, More Parts Per Million, was allegedly recorded for the grand total of $60, and it sounds like it. We’re talking lower than lo-fi — some tracks sound like they were recorded on a boom box. So I’m really interested to see what they do on this album, which was recorded by Death Cab’s Chris Walla — if anything, a man criticized for overproducing records and sapping out energy with layers of polish. (I don’t necessarily agree with those criticisms, but they’re out there.) Should be interesting.
On an unrelated note, I’ve now had three people meet me after reading this site and all have the same reaction — that I’m taller than they imagined. (I’m 6’1” — hardly a giant. Have you been to a high school lately? All the boys are 9’4”.) Is there something about my writing style that makes people think I’m short?
I had a strenuous 1,000-word complaint about my employer all ready to be posted this morning.
Then I realized I really like my job, and I’d like to keep it. Restraint is key to any successful blog.
(This is what’s officially known as a tease.)
Because I know you’re all on pins and needles: Chanda had no problem in the second round, 6-2, 6-4 over the intriguingly voweled Denisa Chladkova.
Actually, the path for Chanda just got a little clearer, since the 18 seed Francesca Schiavone lost to Elena Likhovtseva. So it’s Likhovtseva, then the deadly mistress of the night, Anastasia Myskina. She has talons instead of hands and laser vision that can alter a tennis ball’s molecular structure and make it bounce the way she wants it to. That’s what I hear, at least.
By the way, I’d like to thank Katie for her honesty the other day, when she said something to the effect of “Can you tell me when Chanda loses so I can know when to start reading crabwalk.com again?” Except she pronounced it “Shandra,” which is so wrong. (For the record, it’s pronounced just like it looks — CHAN [a la Jackie Chan] da.)
It’s time for another installment of the What Does Josh Look Like Quiz!
For those just joining us, it’s the fabulous game where people try to describe my appearance through references to pop culture figures!
The game began in high school, when someone said I looked a bit like Tim Robbins. College was a relatively WDJLLQ-free zone (except for that one drunken evening where someone said I looked like Boris Yeltsin — not my finest moment.)
Two days before graduation, while attending a taping of the Conan O’Brien show, a show producer pulled me out of the audience and asked for my contact information because (she claimed) I looked like an exact cross between Conan and sidekick Andy Richter.
In February 2002, a reader of this site, upon meeting me, proclaimed: “I thought you’d look little and Jewish, not like a Viking.”
In July 2002, I was told like I looked like a cross between Patrick Swayze and Bono. (My hair was a bit longer then.) In the comments to that post, you’ll see that someone threw a little Ewan McGregor into the mix.
A couple days ago, a longtime Friend of Crabwalk offered up her new theory. “Nathan Fillion, the lead guy in Firefly [pictures: 1, 2, 3]…cross Nathan Fillion with Ewan McGregor in Big Fish [pictures: 1, 2, 3]…seems to me you get something that looks like what I remember you looking like anyhow.”
She forgot to mention one key phrase: “except you’re way hotter.”
All thoughts welcome. Well, nice ones.
Jake is a Cajun through and through — born and raised in the Crawfish Capital of the World, Breaux Bridge, prepped at Teurlings Catholic, played college ball for the Ragin’ Cajuns of UL Lafayette, and spent six seasons as a backup QB for the New Orleans Saints before heading to Carolina last year.
And everyone acknowledges he’s a great guy — I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. My grandmother worships him. She calls him “Jake.” She hasn’t called a professional football player by his first name since the last great Cajun QB, Bobby Hebert.
But see, it’s complicated. For his last three years in New Orleans, Jake was the backup to QB Aaron Brooks. Brooks is enormously talented — tall and mobile, with a strong arm and good decision making. But in the eyes of many Saints fans, he has flaws:
- He’s lazy and doesn’t try hard enough.
- He lacks “leadership qualities.”
- He plays dumb, throwing too many interceptions at key moments.
- He doesn’t just play dumb — he is dumb. He scored a 17 on the Wonderlic (the quasi-IQ test NFL teams give to potential draft picks) — a score considered low for a quarterback (although far from the lowest in the league).
There’s one other complicating factor — Aaron Brooks is black. It’s not hard to see how the criticisms of Brooks (lazy, stupid) are rooted in racial stereotypes. I’m not being a weepy liberal and saying you can’t criticize Brooks — he has done some dumb things at crunch time — but I can 100-percent guarantee you that Saints fans would hail him to high heaven if he was white.
The Saints have been very mediocre recently — they’re 24-24 in the last three years — and Brooks gets the blame. That’s a bit silly, since the huge glaring weakness in recent years has been the defense, which Brooks has nothing to do with. (Last year, the Saints had the third-highest scoring offense in the league, despite Brooks playing through a rotator cuff tear.) But whenever the Saints lose a game, the illiterate, racist yahoos come out of the swamp and start calling for Brooks’ head. (Check out the Saints Forum during the season after a loss. You’ll be shocked at the racist drivel they pump out: “That’s what happens when you put a n——- in charge,” that sort of thing. Go there now, in the offseason, and you’ll just be shocked at the poor spelling.)
And since Jake Delhomme was the backup — not to mention a good ol’ country boy — the comments were usually along the lines of “Get rid of the n——-, give ol’ Jake a chance.” Of course, that’s not Jake’s fault — he’s not the racist, just the beneficiary of racist sentiment.
So when Jake left for Carolina as a free agent last year, part of me was happy that I wouldn’t have to be hearing his name called so often by the worst element of Saints fans.
As it turns out, Aaron Brooks had his best season this year. He had the eighth-highest quarterback rating in the 32-team league, beating out stars like Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia. He’s worked hard to cut down on interceptions, his biggest problem: After throwing 22 in 2001 and 15 in 2002, he threw only eight this season, the best of any NFL starter. He broke the Saints record for the highest QB rating in team history.
And after flopping at the end of previous seasons, he had a tremendous finish this year. In his last six games, he threw 11 touchdowns against zero interceptions, along with running for two scores. He was named first alternate to the Pro Bowl (behind only superstars Favre, Culpepper, and McNabb). He had a great year.
Jake, in contrast, was okay. He threw 19 touchdowns against 16 interceptions (vs. Brooks’ 24 and 8). He proved himself to be a perfectly average NFL quarterback (14th highest rated in a 32-team league). Fortunately for him, he plays for a team with an amazing defense (No. 1 in the league) who played a weak schedule in a down year for the NFC. (Carolina beat only one team with a winning record all season.)
And now a bunch of yahoos are saying the same crap as before — lionizing Jake as a good ol’ boy, vilifying Aaron because he’s black.
So it’s complicated. Reasons I should be thrilled for Jake:
- He’s a fellow Cajun.
- He’s evidently a really good guy.
- He’s an ex-Ragin’ Cajun and ex-Saint.
Reasons not to be thrilled for Jake:
- He plays for the Panthers, a division rival of the Saints and a team I’ve always hated.
- At a certain level, he’s just riding the coattails of his team’s defense.
- Rooting for him aligns you, in a very unfortunate way, with the worst elements of football fans.
I’ve been reserved in my rooting, but I think I’m going to let loose. The anti-Jake reasons aren’t really his fault, and he can’t be held responsible for the actions of bad Saints fans. And Cajun blood does run thick. And, luckily for Jake, I really hate the New England Patriots, the Panthers’ Super Bowl opponents.
So…Go Jake! (Or, more appropriately: Geaux Jake!)
More proof of my continued employment: My first column in a gazillion years ran yesterday. (I also had a brief story on page 2B yesterday — it’s not online.)
By the way, Austin Mac fans apparently have something to look forward to.
Favorite line from a political weblog (from Howard Dean’s site): “If you hadn’t heard, the Iowa caucuses were last night.”
I have a feeling that anyone checking out the Dean for America weblog Tuesday morning had already “heard” that the Iowa caucuses were last night. They probably heard about it right before they started leaping from windows, Depression-era-stockbroker style. There seems to be a bit of denial in the Dean blog camp — at least until you get to the comments, which alternate between self-flagellation and blaming everything on the media, the traditional sport of losing candidates everywhere.
In Chanda news, she won her first round match against the Swedish menace, although she had a bit more trouble than she should have (6-3, 4-6, 6-3). Thirty-six unforced errors didn’t help. Anyway, the draw is developing as expected, so it’s Denisa Chladkova in the second round, followed by the winner of Francesca Schiavone-Elena Likhovtseva.
It’s a new year, which means it’s time for another installment of ChandaWatch, in which this web site catalogues the progress of Chanda Rubin, the 10th-ranked female tennis player in the world. (Also known as “Chanda Rubin, that girl who Josh went to high school with.”)
Have I ever mentioned that Chanda’s career winnings total $4,173,313? That’s just slightly better than journalist money. I knew I should have worked on my backhand instead of writing for the school paper.
Chanda’s coming off an excellent 2003, having finished the year ranked in the top 10 for the first time in her injury-riddled career. She won two tournaments (Madrid and Eastbourne) and had solid if unspectacular majors (fourth round at the Australian, quarters at Roland Garros, third round at Wimbledon, and an unfortunate first-round ouster at the U.S. Open). And just a few days ago, she at least took a set off of No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne, the pride of Belgium, before falling.
Her path to glory at the Australian this week doesn’t look too awful: the dentally impaired Asa Svensson in the first, likely followed by sketchy Czech Denisa Chladkova, and 18th seed Francesca Schiavone. Then would come her first real test, the wily communist sympathizer and world No. 6 Anastasia Myskina, in the fourth round.
(By the way, I’m going to mention the words naked, nude, and porn here — for no other reason than the fact that Google regularly sends me many hits from people searching for “[insert name of women’s tennis star] nude.” “Anastasia Myskina nude” is a particularly popular one.)
Should Chanda make it past the Myskina juggernaut (which she couldn’t last year at this time), she’d likely get Clijsters in the quarters, Venus in the semis, and Henin-Hardenne in the finals. Not to plan ahead or anything.
Anyway, the Australian has historically been Chanda’s second best major after the French (she got to the semis in ‘96 and won it all in doubles that same year). So here’s hoping for a lengthy series of Chanda updates in the coming days…
Smart move: Canadian squeezes murder in hours before he turns 18, avoids being tried as an adult. (Or he may have killed the guy just after turning 18 — it isn’t clear, which is why he gets the kiddie trial. I remember reading some years ago a lengthy legal discussion of whether your birthday should count as the last day of your previous year of age or the first day of the next one. In other words, is getting drunk on your 21st birthday legal, or are you still a 20-year-old in the eyes of the law since it may not have actually been a full 21 years since your birth? The article I read argued that in fact your birthday is part of the previous year — so this kid should be tried as a juvenile and that drunken 21-year-old is still an underaged drinker. Any lawyers reading this are free to comment with their better researched thoughts.)
It’s not posted online, but it you track down the front page of yesterday’s (Friday’s) Metro section, you’ll find the first reference to the female orgasm I’ve managed to get into The Dallas Morning News.
Ever wonder what song you just heard on the radio? This remarkable web site has the answers. (Well, for an awful lot of radio stations, at least.)
May I pat myself on the back for a moment? Yesterday I ran my first 10K (6.2 miles). I could get into all this running stuff.
Education at its finest: Teacher forces students to landscape his mother’s home as “service project.”
Has your puppy been smuggling drugs? (Use the pulldown menu at the page’s bottom for endless hours of fun.)
The next step in the JB self-improvement program: Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon. If you’re planning to be in B.C. this June, come run with me.
Mistah Kurtz has a followup on Jack Kelley. Turns out he was fudging, at least in the course of the investigation into his alleged misdeeds. (Still no absolute confirmation he fudged in stories, but this revelation — that he asked one interpreter to impersonate another in order to cover his ass — makes him look quite suspect.) More here and here; pick up tomorrow’s USA Today for what will allegedly be a lengthy explanation of the hubbub.
In Memory Lane news, ten years ago today I wrote my first newspaper story.
(Of course, if you count my high school newspaper, my “career” goes back a bit further. But the Eclectic [as it was and still is known] was really just a photocopied dork zine, not a real newspaper.)
It was a story for The Yale Herald, my college weekly, about the closing of Conran’s, a furniture store in downtown New Haven’s Chapel Square Mall. It was the first time I’d ever had to actually interview someone.
I wrote about 500 words, managing to squeeze in quotes from six differnet sources. My editor Abbe was shocked — I don’t think she’d ever seen so many sources crammed into a story. (I was nervous and wanted to get everything right. So I kept calling people. Thank heavens that habit went away over time!)
My two talented editors on that piece are now covering Washington state politics for the Associated Press (Rebecca) and clerking for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Abbe).
Here ends this self-indulgent post.
As Margaret mentioned in the comments a couple posts ago, Mark Kozelek is playing solo at the Gypsy Tea Room January 25. While I’d rather see him in a band context than solo (since there’s a greater tendency for abject weepiness when it’s just him and a guitar), I think I’ll go. Lemme know if you’d like to join me.
Holy Toledo, Mister Pants — proprietor of one of the Internet’s most wonderful sites — is back from a year-long hiatus. It’s like The Return of the King. Or something.
Another crabwalk.com music recommendation: Natacha Atlas’ album Ayeshteni. Warning: This is a substantially different recommendation than the sort I usually give here. Atlas is a Belgian-Egyptian belly dancer who plays Eurodance-meets-Arabia booty shakers. Have you ever been in an Indian restaurant and thought: “You know, this awful music they’re playing could be good, if it had substantially better beats and a fat slice of hipness?” That’s sort of what Atlas sounds like. Worth checking out — of particular interest is the cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.”
Maybe Elliott Smith didn’t kill himself after all. Most surprising item in that autopsy report: Smith had been smack-free for a year.
A question for the runners out there: I’ve been having a heck of a time sleeping lately. Last night at 2:30 a.m. I finally put two and two together — I can’t sleep on the days I run. (Five miles yesterday, thank you very much.) I could understand if I was running at 9 p.m., but yesterday I ran around noon and still couldn’t sleep. Should I be doing something differently? (Particularly since I prefer to run in the evenings.)
Finally, it was a pleasure throwing back a few beverages last night with Mrs. KittySays, an old CDMOM trader pal, and Mr. KittySays, freshly returned from Iraq. The missus just made partner at her law firm — always good to see a sorta fellow Louisianian (even if she is a transplant) goin’ good.
From the History Repeating Dept. (NFC South Division): Growing up in early 1980s Louisiana, New Orleans Saints coach Bum Phillips was our state’s biggest sports hero. “Hero” probably isn’t the right word, since the Saints never had a winning season under ol’ Bum. But they came awfully close (8-8 in 1983 — by Saints standards a miracle), and he gave us fans some degree of hope. Bum was a legend in the making.
I mean, look at the guy. The East Texas jowls, the 743-gallon cowboy hat — he looked like an ornery high school football coach. He was funny, he was country, and he performed pretty well on game day. That’s all you needed to be big time in Louisiana. (He even contributed to the canon of classic football coach one-liners, when he said in admiration of Don Shula: “He can take his’n and beat your’n, then he can take your’n and beat his’n.”)
Still, he eventually got the boot and was replaced in 1986 by Jim Mora, the coach who led the Saints through their golden years, including their first four playoff appearances and their first division title. Mora was a crazy man — he always seemed to be on a cocktail of meth and depressants. He also added a few classics to the quotable-coach canon, including his famous “We couldn’t do diddly poo” tirade and his “Playoffs?!? Playoffs?!?” break-with-reality moment after a tough loss. But he, too, was beloved by Louisianans.
I go through all this to mention the strange coincidence that has just taken place at Atlanta Falcons headquarters. The Falcons — the Saints’ traditional rivals — have just named Jim Mora Jr. as their new head coach. Jim Jr. is, of course, the son of you-know-who. The man he replaces? Interim head coach Wade Phillips, son of Bum Phillips. Eighteen years later, it’s Phillips-to-Mora all over again.
If you’re wondering why posting has been sporadic these last few days, it’s because I’ve discovered if I want to get a lot of writing done, the best thing to do is take my laptop, go to a distant cubicle, and live without Internet access for the work day.
Yes, you heard me — live without Internet access.
Okay, maybe not completely without — I do come back to my desk every 90 minutes or so to check my email. But it’s amazing how much more work I can get done without
porn to download er, I mean, important educational research to read online.
In the meantime, if you need to reach me ASAP, try my cell phone.
Another music recommendation: Ghosts of the Great Highway by Sun Kil Moon.
Sun Kil Moon is the new project of Mark Kozelek, best known as leader of the Red House Painters. I’ve always been a fan of Mark’s, particularly in his early days when he seemed to be moving on a career track parallel to crabwalk.com favorite Mark Eitzel. (Both started out with noisy punk bands in Ohio, then moved to San Francisco and made slow, depressing, but gorgeous music — Mark E. with American Music Club, Mark K. with RHP.) The second Painters album — known as the rollercoaster album because of the cover image and because it’s, confusingly, one of two albums named simply Red House Painters — is an absolute sadcore classic.
Like Eitzel, Kozelek wandered a bit through the late ’90s, releasing work of sporadic brilliance and sporadic crud. RHP has released only one album in the last eight years (2001’s so-so Old Ramon, which was actually recorded back in ‘97). He released a couple solo records, notable mostly for their fixation on AC/DC. (One album, What’s Next to the Moon, was composed entirely of AC/DC songs reworked, irony-free, into Leadbelly-style acoustic blues. It’s actually surprisingly good.) He seemed restless and unfocused.
Sun Kil Moon is his new band, and their record is my favorite Kozelek work since the rollercoaster album. It’s not a new sound — it’s very much in the dreamy, languorous RHP tradition — but it is tighter and brighter. Kozelek once relied on slowness to express melancholy, which made even his best work boring and mopey in spots. Here, he uses melody more prominently for the same purpose. Even the (by now obligatory on a Kozelek release) 14-minute track “Duk Koo Kim” never drags. The layers of acoustic guitars evoke half-forgotten memories; it sounds like the soundtrack of a childhood summer, remembered 20 years on.
It’s hard to describe (at least for me), but it’s really very good. Not everyone will love it, since Kozelek is still an acquired taste, but it’s worth a listen.
(Lyrical bonus: No fewer than
three four of the songs are about boxing, which may be replacing AC/DC as Kozelek’s current Wimpy Singer-Songwriter Masculinity Overcompensation target. And one track, the opener “Glenn Tipton,” is named for a Judas Priest guitarist and namechecks Jim Nabors.)
Three morning links:
A lesson for undergrads facing a 20-page paper: Don’t mess with your margins. Just use Courier instead.
One of the saddest stories I’ve read recently — a 73-year-old man who bought into a Nigerian email scam to the tune of $300,000.
Alas, it appears that Adobe Pagemaker is finally dead. Sniff. My college paper was published entirely on Pagemaker for many years (I think they just switched to Quark a year or two ago), and I spent many collegiate hours futzing around in Pagemaker 3.0 and 4.2. (I’ve still got a pirate copy of 4.2 somewhere on floppy.) I’ve heard Glenn Fleishman, who was one of the paper’s early editors before becoming King of all Things Wifi, tell some great stories about cutting and pasting together Pagemaker printouts on dorm room floors at 5 a.m. before going to press.
I think someone should write a book-length ode to Pagemaker, arguably the single most revolutionary computer application ever written (yeah, Mosaic would probably edge it out, but it’s close). It democratized publishing and access to the media in a way few technologies had since Gutenberg. It’s no coincidence that the Herald was founded in February 1986, only seven months after Pagemaker 1.0 was released. And I know the Herald was far from the only one. Credit for making those sort of small-scale publications possible really goes to Apple and Pagemaker.
The Pagemaker portion of that credit goes to many people, of course, but the organizing force behind it all was Paul Brainerd. He was a newspaper reporter who thought the young Mac would make a good platform for publishing. Read that last link for a good summary of Pagemaker’s early days and Brainerd’s ideas. As one person puts it on that page:
“PageMaker was the app the Mac had been waiting for to give customers a reason to buy it. Without desktop publishing, the Mac probably would have followed the Lisa into oblivion and Bill Gates would have nothing to copy and we’d still be typing in at the C prompt. In a fundamental way, Paul Brainerd saved the universe.”
After selling his company (Aldus) to Adobe in 1994, he focused his energies on The Brainerd Foundation, whose goal is protecting the environment of the Pacific Northwest. He’s also the founder of IslandWood, an outdoor learning center for Seattle-area kids, and Social Venture Partners, a group that uses a venture capital model to link up worthy causes with philanthropists.
I know Pagemaker fell out of favor with professionals a long time ago, first to Quark and more recently to InDesign (my layout program of choice). But here’s a tip of the hat to the late great Pagemaker, the revolutionary. Perhaps Steve Jobs, when he talks about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Macintosh at his MacWorldSF keynote tomorrow, should heap some praise on the program most responsible for his company’s success.
How ‘bout them Tigers! Geaux LSU!
LSU’s defense was just tremendous (at least until tiring in the fourth). They made the Sooner offensive machine look silly. I mean, to hold the top-scoring team in the nation to 137 yards? To hold the Heisman Trophy winner to 13-of-37 passing, 104 yards, no TDs and two picks? Truly an inspiring performance.
Plus, I can take special pride from the fact this national championship is truly a Louisiana production. Unlike Oklahoma, which picks and chooses its talent from across the country, LSU’s roster is home grown. The OU roster has only 42 Oklahoma natives on it; LSU’s has 89 Louisianans.
Too Close For Comfort Dept.: That British Airways flight that keeps getting cancelled because of “specific intelligence” about a terrorist attack — I was on that exact flight (BA 223, Heathrow to Dulles) five weeks ago.
It was almost empty, but there was one seriously crazy-looking dude across the aisle from me. He got very drunk (although he acted more coked-out than drunk — the flight attendant said he had six of those little bottles of wine). He took my bread roll off my plate, then took my plastic knife. He kept talking to himself and running around the cabin. He was…freaky, and he got a lot of utterly justified yelling from the crew, particularly when he would refuse to sit down and try to go into first class looking for more wine.
I honestly thought: That man looks like shoe bomber material.
There’s a Yahoo group I’ve belonged to for about four years now. I’m subscribed because its subject is something I occasionally write about — a subject that gets roughly zero coverage elsewhere on the Internet or in the media, and as a result the posts are essential reading if I want to stay on top of the subject.
There’s one problem: I hate every last person in this Yahoo group.
Okay, I’m sure some of them are perfectly nice people in real life. But there’s something about this group that reduces everyone to mewling five-year-olds. It’s just a horrible virtual place. Every post is an accusation breaded with nastiness. The subject in question is something about which all these people are extremely passionate, and it’s painful to wade through their misplaced rage, their stupid vitriol, their silly spite.
Unfortunately, I feel obliged to. I’m one of maybe 10 journalists in the world who follow this subject, and I have to keep up. But heavens, is it painful!
Doubly unfortunately, these people have become extremely prolific in their imbecility of late, which is why I’ve got 2 megs (that’s just raw text) of posts sitting in my inbox from just the last few days. So I sit, alcoholic beverage in hand, and sift through the garbage.
I think I need another drink.
Bummer for us developers of miniscule web sites: Corbis is shutting down its photo-licensing service for us small fries. You’ll still be able to use their business site, but the costs are at least three times higher.
Today is my old friend Fiona’s birthday. Poor Fi was raised in difficult circumstances: a household in which classical was the only music allowed. (How Child Protective Services never got involved is beyond me.) So when we were both in college, I tried, to the limits of my abilities, to edumacate her in the ways of popular music. One way this was accomplished: mix tapes.
Flash forward to this time of year three years ago. I’d just arrived in Dallas, and for her birthday, I mailed the then-Boston-based Fiona a special birthday mix entitled “JB Music 2000.” (She called all music I liked, from Public Enemy to American Music Club, JB Music.)
When I drove to Louisiana for Christmas last week, I rummaged around my apartment for cassette tapes. (Longtime crabwalk.com readers may remember someone stole my car’s CD player a few months back.) I stumbled on JB Music 2000.
This was, I believe, the last mix tape I ever made. (I got a CD burner in March 2001, I think.) So, in the interests of archivists everywhere, I present the track listing on that 90-minute tape:
Beth Orton, “Stolen Car” (from Central Reservation)
Morphine, “The Night” (The Night)
Ben Folds Five, “Alice Childress” (Ben Folds Five)
Macy Gray, “I’ve Committed Murder” (On How Life Is)
Buffalo Tom, “Summer” (Asides from Buffalo Tom)
Sloan, “Delivering Maybes” (Between the Bridges)
The Rentals, “Getting By” (Seven More Minutes)
The Faces, “Ooh La La” (Rushmore soundtrack)
Wilco, “She’s A Jar” (Summerteeth)
Morrissey, “Nobody Loves Us” (My Early Burglary Years)
M. Ward, “Fearless” (Come On Beautiful)
Tahiti 80, “Made First” (Puzzle)
The Elevator Drops, “Public Transport Authority” (People Mover)
Slobberbone, “Pinball Song” (Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today)
Mojave 3, “Anyday Will Be Fine” (Excuses For Travelers)
Primal Scream, “Blood Money” (Exterminator)
The Dismemberment Plan, “The City” (Emergency & I)
Robbie Fulks, “She Must Think I Like Poetry” (Let’s Kill Saturday Night)
Richard Buckner, “Goner W/Souvenir” (Since)
The Flashing Lights, “Where the Change Is” (Where the Change Is)
Gomez, “We Haven’t Turned Around” (Liquid Skin)
The Promise Ring, “Skips A Beat (Over You)” (Very Emergency)
The Jayhawks, “Baby, Baby, Baby” (Smile)
A few thoughts:
- Between the Bridges is really the last great Sloan album, I’m afraid to say. A great disc in the underrated Sloan tradition. The two since then have crapped out on me.
- “Blood Money” rocks to its very core. Perhaps the best freeway driving song ever recorded. This one made it onto the August 2002 CDMOM.
- I can still wholeheartedly recommend the Mojave 3, Dismemberment Plan, Flashing Lights, Gomez, and Richard Buckner albums, plus the Rushmore soundtrack. Classics all, from start to finish. With all the others, small doubts have crept in since 2000. The Morphine album was a weak swan song for Mark Sandman, the Orton gets boring on repeated listens (although “Stolen Car” is a great song), and the Wilco seems strangely flat.
- Where did Gomez go wrong? Liquid Skin was absolute genius, an amalgam of gutbucket southern rock and British steely reserve. Too bad their work since has been so mediocre.
In any event, happy 28th, Fi!
Joshua Benton is the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, among other things. Before that, he was a staff writer and columnist for The Dallas Morning News. (More.)
Any opinions expressed here are solely mine, and not those of my employer. In many cases, they may not even be mine.