October 29, 2006

Musical Rotation — 23 Oct

Posted in music at 10:34 pm by berzerkeleyan

For the week:

Ash “Free All Angels” (2001)
Ben Harper “Diamonds on the Inside” (2003)
Cocteau Twins “Heaven Or Las Vegas” (1990)
Damien Rice “O” (2003)
Everything But the Girl “Eden” (1984)
Queen “Sheer Heart Attack” (1974)
Shedseven “Going for Gold: Greatest Hits” (1997)
The Firm “The Firm” (1985)
The Verve “Urban Hymns” (1997)
The Veils “The Runaway Found” (2004)
Explosions in the Sky “The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place” (2003)
Arctic Monkeys “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” (2006)
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October 24, 2006

Myopic Vision

Posted in baseball, politics at 6:02 am by berzerkeleyan

Kenny Rogers’ Hand

Have you ever seen those polls they have periodically on espn.com? I love those things, mostly b/c it shows what a bunch of homers the majority of sports fans are. The latest one made me laugh outright. It asked if folks thought Kenny Rogers was cheating last night.

For those not in the know, Kenny Rogers pitched a fantastic game Sunday night for the Detroit Tigers to even the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals 1-1. However, his victory has been, uh, tainted a bit by the Fox cameras capturing what looked like a suspicious substance at the base of the thumb of his pitching hand during the first inning. Curiously, images from previous games in the playoffs also show the same smudge at the base of his thumb during the games he pitched. Now, Kenny Rogers has always been considered a good pitcher. But this month he has been nearly unhittable, leading some to now wonder if he’s been helping himself out by putting something on the ball that makes it do weird things as it approaches home plate.

The manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, the ponderous Tony La Russa, directed the umps attention to it. The umps approached Rogers after the first inning and discreetly asked him to wash his hands. If he was cheating before, it didn’t matter. With spotless hands, he still went out and pitched magnificently. I always like great pitching performances, so good for him.

Back to the poll. espn.com asked the following: Did Kenny Rogers cheat last night? The results were fascinating to me. The National results were as follows:

National Poll Results: 41% No; 59% Yes

Fair enough. However, if you break down the results by state:

Michigan Poll Results: 78% No; 22% Yes
Missouri Poll Results: 19% No; 81% Yes
New York Poll Results: 32% No; 68% Yes

(The NY results are important b/c Kenny Rogers schooled the Yankees during the Division Series. Unfortunately, I didn’t take note of the poll results from CA, where Oakland A’s fans, I’m sure, had similarly strong opinions.)

So clearly, folks tend to look rather subjectively at the stars on their sports teams. No way do their guys use steroids (Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Mark MacGwire, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Eric Gagne, Roger Clemens, …, this is getting depressing), or take cheap shots against other players (Karl Malone, the entire offensive line of the 1990s SF 49ers), or cheat on their wives (insert famous player here). But I’m sure the guys on your team do!

You could clearly also project this to other, more important issues. Like say, about some of the moves our current Administration has made over the years…?

I know I’m stating the obvious here. But I find it disappointing, nonetheless. Because if we can’t make clear, unbiased observations about something as trivial as a sporting event, how can we possibly make them for stuff that really matters?

October 23, 2006

Musical Rotation — 16 Oct

Posted in music at 1:25 am by berzerkeleyan

For the week:

George Michael “Older” (1996) — one of my favorite voices in recent memory (don’t worry, Kelly — you’re still the best at the moment). This is G. Michael’s crowning achievement. Torch songs, and much pain aplenty here. I can’t believe it’s ten years old.
Brendan Benson “The Alternative to Love” (2005)
The Arcade Fire “Funeral” (2004) — Over the past couple of years I, like most young Americans now, have slowly begun tuning in to the burgeoning Canadian indie music scene (sorry guys, Rush doesn’t count). The Dears, Stars, Metric, and of course The Stills have put out some of the best music of the past few years. But The Arcade Fire, along with Broken Social Scene, are the critical darlings of the bunch. After giving it a couple of listens this week, it is certainly one of the more original albums I’ve heard this year. Not bad, so far.
The Killers “Hot Fuss” (2004)
Scissor Sisters “Ta-Dah!” (2006)
The Raconteurs “Broken Boy Soldiers” (2006) — this is good, straight up pop rock. However, I prefer Brendan Benson’s solo material more.
Editors “The Back Room” (2005)
Snow Patrol “Eyes Open” (2006)
Spoon “Gimme Fiction” (2005)
Stereophonics “Language.Sex.Violence.Other?” (2005)
Juan Luis Guerra y 440 “Bachata Rosa” (1990)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “B.R.M.C.” (2000)
Elbow “Leaders of the Free World” (2005)
Kaiser Chiefs “Employment” (2005)
The American Analog Set “Know By Heart” (2001)
Cantinero “Championship Boxing” (2004) — I’ve seen this in bargain bins for $0.99. That causes me to both shake my head in disbelief, and bring a cat-that-ate-the-canary smile to my face. This is a great album, and part of me is glad that I get to keep it as one of my many little secrets.
Keane “Under the Iron Sea” (2006)

October 16, 2006

The Latest Winning Combination

Posted in wet shaving at 1:28 am by berzerkeleyan

Omega Kit

I have a new winning combination for Best Shave Ever:

  • Schick 1939 Injector Razor — I got three of these from eBay. All of them were made before the end of WWII. All of them look like they’ve been eclipsed by newer technology, and couldn’t possibly shave as well. However, don’t let their looks fool you. Schick Injectors are the easiest to use, most comfortable, and most effective razors ever made. They beat whatever else is out there.
  • Feather “Pro Guard” Razor Blades — Feathers. The Sharpest. Blade. Out There. These are supposed to be made for straight razors, so they’re a little too long for a Schick Injector. But you can use endnipper pliers to (carefully) cut them to size. This creates the famous Schick “Featherjector.” The end result is a flawless razor that produces the easiest and smoothest shave I’ve ever had. In fact, I use this razor whenever consecutive DE shaves beat up my face too much. I should probably use it more, but it’s not as challenging as a DE, and therefore not as much fun.
  • Shavemac Handmade Silvertip Shaving Brush — on various wet shaving forums, Shavemac’s are whispered to be some of the best shaving brushes made. Made in Germany, they are reputed to be softer and denser than British-made brushes. I would agree. I have a Simpson Silvertip and Vulfix Super, and this one beats them both. This is a great brush. It lathers up cream superbly, and produces enough to give me many more passes than anything else I’ve used. If this brush were to get a knock, it would be that it’s a little too big for my face. It’s Shavemac’s smallest brush, and it’s got a 22mm knot. But I’ve found that my ideal brush has a 20mm knot.
  • Omega Eucalyptus Shaving Cream — I had read that Omega’s shaving cream was identical to Proraso Eucalyptus Shaving Cream. I liked the look of the tube when I saw it online, so I bought one. Well, it’s not the same formulation as Proraso. It’s better. Why? Because in addition to all the goodies (eucalyptus oil, coconut oil, glycerin, menthol), it also contains lanolin. Lanolin is one of the key ingredients in Musgo Real — my favorite shaving cream. I don’t know how much lanolin is included in Omega, but I don’t care. Whether measurable, or purely in my head, Omega feels slicker and smoother than Proraso. Musgo is still my favorite, but that’s probably because I like the smell more.

October 15, 2006

Musical Rotation — 9 Oct

Posted in music at 11:00 pm by berzerkeleyan

For the week:

Chris Isaak “Forever Blue” (1995)
Explosions in the Sky “The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003)
Muse “Black Holes and Revelations” (2006)
Reindeer Section “Son of Evil Reindeer” (2002)
Rooney “Rooney” (2003)
Tahiti 80 “Wallpaper for the Soul (2002)
Phoenix “It’s Never Been Like That” (2006)
Matthew Sweet “Girlfriend” (1991)
Zero 7 “When It Falls” (2004)
Turin Brakes “Ether Song” (2003)
Sinead O’Connor “Universal Mother” (1994)

October 9, 2006

Weekly Rotation — 02 Oct

Posted in music at 4:05 am by berzerkeleyan

For the week:

Ryan Adams “29” (2006)
Black Grape “It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah” (1995) — this album always manages to put me in a better mood. You can feel the raucous good time these musicians had making it. I was inspired to put this on after a Happy Mondays reminder from shecanfilmit.
Ryan Adams “Love is Hell, Pt. 1” (2003) — I’m missing a few of his albums, but out of the five I own, this – combined with Pt. 2 – is my favorite.
Ryan Adams “Love is Hell, Pt. 2” (2003)
Aldo Nova “Subject…Aldo Nova” (1983)
“American Gigolo” Soundtrack (1980)
Richard Ashcroft “Keys to the World” (2006) — the days of The Verve are over. I should realize this. At first listen, blech! I’ll see if it grows on me.
Editors “The Back Room” (2005)
Magnet “The Tourniquet” (2005)
Spoon “Gimme Fiction” (1995) — I’ve heard a lot about this album, so I bought myself a copy. It’s not bad. I’ll post more after a few more listens.
The Veils “The Runaway Found” (2004)
Tahiti 80 “Wallpaper for the Soul ” (2002) — they’ll be coming to Portland in Nov. Another French band, like Phoenix. I hope they’re as fun.
Paloalto “Paloalto” (2001)

October 2, 2006

Weekly Rotation — 25 Sep

Posted in music at 2:43 am by berzerkeleyan

For the week:

Phoenix “United” (2000) — …
Phoenix “Alphabetical” (2004) — …
Phoenix “LIVE!ThirtyDaysAgo” — …
Phoenix “It’s Never Been Like That” (2006) — …I used Monday to get pumped for the Phoenix concert. As my earlier post indicated, I was not disappointed.
Snow Patrol “Eyes Open” (2006)
Editors “The Back Room” (2005) — I waited too long to get this. Editors are part of the Neo-Wave movement, with lots of shimmery guitars, synths, and melancholia infused in their music. They sound very much like Interpol, though less menacing. The lead singer even sounds like Paul Banks. An excellent debut.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “B.R.M.C.” (2001)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “Take Them On, On Your Own” (2003)
Kasabian “Empire” (2006)
Muse “Hullabaloo” (2003)
Alec R. Costandinos “Romeo & Juliet” (1977) — depending on which side of the fence you’re on, this album will either thrill you, or wish Disco Demolition Night had been a bigger success. This is quintessential Disco — soaring strings, a thumping beat, and the ever-present wah-wah rhythm guitar. I’ve been listening to this since it came out, and I haven’t tired of it yet. This has loooong been out of print, so if anyone wants to get me the best birthday gift ever, this would be it.