Tuesday, September 30, 2008

White Sox shutout Twins 1-0 to head into the post-season

The Chicago White Sox shutout the Minnesota Twins tonight, winning their third straight do-or-die game to send themselves into the post-season, where they will face the Tampa Bay Rays. Minnesota pitcher Nick Blackburn gave up the only run of the game, a home run off of Jim Thorne. Bobby Jenks got the save for Chicago.

(C'mon, Ken Griffey! Beat those Rays! And then one of the teams in red!)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman extended 3 years

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman received a 3-year contract extension today, and will be with the team through 2011. Read about it here.

Cashman (what a name for a GM) has been around for 3 World Series Championships and 5 American League pennants. He is also responsible for trading Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodgriguez, and the free agent-signings of current Yankees Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon. Then again, he was also responsible for Kyle Farnsworth...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sharks lose yet again... Phoenix gets first win of preseason

The San Jose Sharks lost yet again in the preseason, this time against the Phoenix Coyotes on the road, by the ghastly score of 5-1. They are now 1-3-0. The Coyotes notched their first win of the preseason, and are now 1-5-0. Center Peter Mueller scored a natural hat-trick in the 2nd period, and 18-year-old Danish left wing Mikkel Boedker scored 2 goals. Lukas Kaspar had the lone goal for San Jose.

Brian Boucher stopped only 16 of 21 shots, while Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 19 of 20 shots, and was given a break so Mikael Tellqvist could play in net. He stopped all 9 shots he faced. The Sharks led the Coyotes in shots on goal = 29 to 21. They also won 32 of 54 faceoffs. The score speaks for itself, however. Could have been their inability to score on the power play (including a 5-on-3...).

The Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic led both teams' players in ice time, logging a staggering 27:14... and posting a -4 for his efforts (yuck). Way to go, Pickles - you made Alexei Semenov's -3 look like sheer genius.

Conversely, Phoenix's Olli Jokinen, Ryan Lannon and Mueller each had a +3. No Phoenix player had below a 0 for his plus/minus.

Tonight saw the return of Kyle McLaren to the ice, logging just under 15 minutes of ice time, and posting a 0 for his plus/minus. Say goodbye while you can, McLaren fans...

Lastly, GET IT TOGETHER, SHARKS. You too, coach McLellan.

MLB Division Series Schedule

While it remains to be seen if Minnesota or the Chicago White Sox make it into the post-season (they play tomorrow at 7:35pm ET), the American and National League Division Series schedules have been announced. Best of 5, of course.

All times ET (although I live in California)

October 1

- Milwaukee @ Philadelphia, 3:05pm

- LA Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs, 6:35pm

- Boston @ LA Angels, 10:05pm

October 2

- Min OR ChiWS @ Tampa Bay, 2:30pm

- Milwaukee @ Philadelphia, 6:05pm

- LA Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs, 9:35pm

October 3

- Min OR ChiWS @ Tampa Bay, 6:00pm

- Boston @ LA Angels, 9:35pm

October 4

- Philadelphia @ Milwaukee, 6:35pm

- Chicago Cubs @ LA Dodgers, 10:05pm

October 5

- Philadelphia @ Milwaukee, TBA

- Chicago Cubs @ LA Dodgers, TBA

- LA Angels @ Boston, TBA

- Tampa Bay @ Min OR ChiWS, 7:00pm

October 6

- LA Angels @ Boston, TBA

- Tampa Bay @ Min OR ChiWS, 7:00pm

October 7

- Milwaukee @ Philadelphia, TBA

- LA Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs, TBA

October 8

- Boston @ LA Angels, TBA

- Min OR ChiWS @ Tampa Bay, 7:00pm

Sharks update - Kyle McLaren on the ice tonight

For those of you wondering - Kyle McLaren, while almost definitely on his way to LA or Atlanta, is on the ice tonight in Phoenix. He just assisted (along with Jeff Friesen - !!!) on a Lukas Kaspar goal. WHOOPS, SCRATCH THAT - he was originally credited, but actually Jamie McGinn got the assist, along with Friesen (!!!).

1. Brendan Buckley (D)

2. Matt Kinch (D)

3. Cory Larose (C)

4. Patrick Traverse (D)

5. Ryan Vesce (RW)

6. Kyle Jones (G)

7. Taylor Dakers (G)

In addition, Joe Rullier (D) was just plain released...

At the end of the 1st period, the Sharks lead the Coyotes 1-0. They also are seeing Olli Jokinen in action for the first time in years.
UPDATE = WHAT JUST HAPPENED? Coyotes lead 3-1?!?!?!? THREE GOALS IN 2 1/2 MINUTES??? Peter Mueller got 2 goals in 49 seconds... EGAD.
SECOND UPDATE = AAAHHH!!! Peter Mueller scores a third goal in the second period, for a natural hat trick! Coyotes lead 4-1... NOOOOOOO!!!!
THIRD UPDATE = Urrrr... another Phoenix goal in the 3rd, from Mikkel Boedker. 5-1, Phoenix.

Tiebreaker tomorrow - White Sox stay alive to face the Twins

The Minnesota Twins must be shaking right now. The Chicago White Sox won yesterday, forcing a makeup game against Detroit to actually matter, and won that game tonight by the score of 8-2. Chicago 2nd baseman Alexei Ramirez hit a grand slam off of the Tigers' relief pitcher Gary Glover in the 6th inning, essentially sealing the White Sox victory.

The White Sox will host the Minnesota Twins tomorrow - the winner goes into October (um, literally a few hours later), and the loser goes into the off-season. I love this time of year.

(C'mon, Ken Griffey... oh, and I'm also pulling for the White Sox if only because I think baseball should be played outdoors. Sorry, Metrodome fans - in all fairness, I'll try and visit it before it closes next year)

A list of CA Congressmen who voted for or against the bailout

This is a list of the 53 Californian congressmen/women and if they voted for or against the $700 billion bailout. By the way, as of 3:20pm PST, the U.S. House of Representatives website was shut down... wonder why.

There are 19 Republicans from California in the House of Representatives, and 34 Democrats. A total of 10 Republicans voted for, while 9 voted against. A total of 19 Democrats voted for, while 15 voted against.

1. Mike Thompson (D) - AGAINST
2. Wally Herger (R) - FOR
3. Dan Lungren (R) - FOR
4. John Doolittle (R) - AGAINST
5. Doris Matsui (D) - FOR
6. Lynn Woolsey (D) - AGAINST
7. George Miller (D) -FOR
8. Nancy Pelosi (D) - FOR
9. Barbara Lee (D) - AGAINST
10. Ellen Tauscher (D) - FOR
11. Jerry McNerney (D) - FOR
12. Jackie Speier (D) - FOR
13. Pete Stark (D) - AGAINST
14. Anna Eshoo (D) - FOR
15. Mike Honda (D) - FOR
16. Zoe Lofgren (D) - FOR
17. Sam Farr (D) - FOR
18. Dennis Cardoza (D) - FOR
19. George Radanovich (R) - FOR
20. Jim Costa (D) - FOR
21. Devin Nunes (R) - AGAINST
22. Kevin McCarthy (R) - AGAINST
23. Lois Capps (D) - FOR
24. Elton Gallegly (R) - AGAINST
25. Howard McKeon (R) - FOR
26. David Dreier (R) - FOR
27. Brad Sherman (D) - AGAINST
28. Howard Berman (D) - FOR
29. Adam Schiff (D) - AGAINST
30. Henry Waxman (D) - FOR
31. Xavier Becerra (D) - AGAINST
32. Hilda Solis (D) - AGAINST
33. Diane Watson (D) - AGAINST
34. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) - AGAINST
35. Maxine Waters (D) - FOR
36. Jane Harman (D) - FOR
37. Laura Richardson (D) - FOR
38. Grace Napolitano (D) - AGAINST
39. Linda Sánchez (D) - AGAINST
40. Edward R. Royce (R) - AGAINST
41. Jerry Lewis (R) - FOR
42. Gary Miller (R) - FOR
43. Joe Baca (D) - AGAINST
44. Ken Calvert (R) - FOR
45. Mary Bono (R) - FOR
46. Dana Rohrabacher (R) - AGAINST
47. Loretta Sanchez (D) - AGAINST
48. John Campbell (R) - FOR
49. Darrell Issa (R) - AGAINST
50. Brian Bilbray (R) - AGAINST
51. Bob Filner (D) - AGAINST
52. Duncan Hunter (R) - AGAINST
53. Susan Davis (D) - FOR

Please click here to see how each U.S. congressperson voted. You can sort by state, gender, and even astrological sign...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Congratulations, Moose - 20 victories this season!

New York Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina finally reached his goal today - a 20-win season. "Moose" pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox on the road at Fenway, and received extra help from an infield ready to assist him in reaching his goal, on what could very well end up being his last start ever. The Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2 in the second game of the series (yesterday's game was moved to today due to complications from Hurricane Kyle).

Mussina finished the year 20-9, but may never get the monkey off of his back. The man who has been called "Mr. Almost" never won the Cy Young, or a World Series game, and according to this Yahoo blogger, will not enter the Baseball Hall of Fame, even with 20 wins in a season.

"Pretty good" is how the naysayer blogger sums up Mussina's career. Allow me to modify that - "pretty damn good." Six Gold Gloves (four with Baltimore, two with New York)? A winning record against every team he ever faced, except the Yankees?

Nothing more needs to be said except, "Congratulations, Moose! You did it - and against the Red Sox, no less!"

Oh, and, "Yankees fans everywhere will miss you tremendously if you depart the Bronx."

On a final note, Jonathan Papelbum gave up 3 runs against the Yanks. Good riddance - may this be the start to a lousy (for Boston) post-season.

I love it when Roger Ebert is angry - because it means he has something worth saying

As a young boy, I was raised on Roger Ebert - he is one of the three reasons I decided to major in cinema in college (the others being my father, who first taught me to love movies correctly, and my high school cinema teacher). I always favored him over Gene Siskel (though I liked him tremendously, and still remember where I was when I found out he died), and valued his judgment even during the few occasions when I disagreed with him. It's no small coincidence that he was the first (and until recently, the only) film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. Now, Ebert typically sticks to discussions about cinema - usually in film reviews, often in interviews, and of course, on his (now sadly defunct) television show. While no stranger to discussing topics outside of the cinematic realm, Roger Ebert does so sparingly.

Which is why his column today in the Chicago Sun-Times (his longtime employer) grabbed my attention. In it, he mercilessly (and convincingly) argues that John McCain lacks the decency to be president, based upon his behavior in the presidential debates. His anger is definitely not without reason, and though his recent illness has robbed him of the ability to speak, it has thankfully not limited his ability to write caustically. While you may not agree with his assessment, I encourage you to read the column here.

Another historic collapse for the New York Mets - oh, and see ya, Shea

The New York Mets became the only team in MLB history to be eliminated for two years in a row on the last day of the regular season, at home, after previously having a 3 1/2 game lead. This year, it was especially bitter, as the Mets and their fans bid farewell to Shea Stadium. All season, Shea's farewell played second fiddle in New York to Yankee Stadium's end (as it should - and I'm speaking objectively), but the Mets seemed poised to actually head to the post-season, which the Yankees were just not in a position to do; such a possibility would be a bragging right for fans of New York's *other team.*

Sadly for the Mets, the Florida Marlins ruined their day, beating them 4-2, after the Mets previously tied the game 2-2. The Milwaukee Brewers, led by CC Sabathia, won their game today against the Chicago Cubs 3-1, and waited it out to see if they would indeed go into October for the first time since 1982. The Brewers clinched the Wild Card, and thus they will play the Philadelphia Phillies, while the Chicago Cubs play the LA Dodgers (go Cubs).

Trivia time - I find it curious that Shea Stadium closed with a loss, considering that it also opened with one, a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. (As a Yankees fan, I would like everyone to compare that inglorious set of bookends to that of Yankee Stadium, which began with a Babe Ruth-ushered win, and finished with a win.)

As for the American League, the Chicago White Sox won today, and must make up a game against the Detroit Tigers. The Minnesota Twins are up 6-0 against the Kansas City Royals at the top of the 9th as I type. Assuming that the Twins win, Chicago will need to win tomorrow against Detroit in order to force a tie-breaker against the Twins. A Chicago loss tomorrow clinches the AL Central for Minnesota. Regardless of who wins the division, the opponent will be the Tampa Bay Rays, as the LA Angels take on the Boston Red Sox.

Get ready for October!

John McCain's long history doing standup comedy...

A presidential candidate walks into a bar... and tells a joke about rape. Apparently *Sarah Palin's running mate* has an incomparable sense of humor (incomparable to, say, decency) that has to be heard to be believed. Dug up by Keith Olbermann and crew from MSNBC - Olbermann's political bias needs no introduction, but what he has found deserves to be widely known by fans of both candidates.

"Katie, I'd like to use one of my lifelines." - Palin on SNL Part 2

Sarah Palin returned to SNL, this time to be interviewed with Katie Couric. The interview was the only worthwhile part of last night's Saturday Night Live, whose "writers" must surely be smoking crack if they think their other skits are remotely funny. Even the studio audience wasn't laughing, except on cue. Lorne Michaels needs to get his act together and hire new writers and new actors (except Bill Hader, who helps redeem the current season). What's Dana Carvey up to these days, I wonder?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who's [sic] side are you on? - Sharks t-shirt

Last Tuesday I went to the San Jose Sharks Teal & White Game, which is a special event for season ticket holders and their guests (I was a guest - one of these years I'll fork up the dough for the full 41). I came wearing my Pavelski jersey, so I had no reason to put on the t-shirt they handed out (along with a This Is Sharks Territory sign). In fact, I didn't see too many people wearing it that evening, for pretty much the same reason that I wasn't wearing it - we came with our own gear. My hands were full as they were, so I didn't even look at the shirt (honest).

Tonight at the preseason game (see my blog post below), I really noticed the t-shirt for the first time - could have been the lovely lady wearing it. And something then caught my eye.

Notice anything funny about that phrase?

Several thousand of these t-shirts were handed out Tuesday night - and either no one with authority noticed the grammatical error emblazoned on the shirts, or it was decided that too much money was spent on them to NOT pass them out. WHOSE mistake was that?

Yahoo Sports' Puck Daddy wrote a funny post on the matter. As for me - I put on the shirt tonight for the photo, and will never wear it again - as much as I love the Sharks, I AM a teacher, first and foremost.

Sharks lose to the Vancouver Canucks 3-2, virtually 3-1

The Vancouver Canucks stayed unbeaten in the preseason by defeating the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion, 3-2. That score is deceiving - it was 3-1 at about 10 seconds left of the game, when Patrick Marleau scored the second Sharks goal of the night. Roberto Luongo stopped all 14 shots that he faced from the Sharks in the first two periods; Cory Schneider replaced Luongo at the start of the third period, stopping 21 of 23 shots, and making extremely good saves while doing so. Schneider, a 22-year old Vancouver prospect, will be one to watch in future seasons.

Pavol Demitra scored first for his new team (having played his last two seasons with the Minnesota Wild), and his first period goal was followed by two goals in the second period from one-time Mighty Duck Jason Krog, and Danish-prospect Jannik Hansen. Ryane Clowe was credited with a goal after it deflected off of his skate (from what I could tell while watching, and on the replay). Earlier in the game, he fought with Mike Brown. Captain Patrick Marleau, who led both Sharks and Canucks in ice time with over 24 minutes, scored with less than 9 seconds to go in the game. Pavol Demitra was on the ice for both Sharks goals, and thus finished the game with a -1 (haha). Tonight also saw Rob Blake play in teal for the first time - he posted a +1. Sharks prospect Brad Staubitz had 9 minutes in the sin bin, including 5 for fighting with Rick Rypien.

The Sharks travel to Phoenix on Monday night, and host the Coyotes at home the following evening.


Miracle at St. Anna

Last night I watched the latest Spike Lee joint, entitled Miracle at St. Anna. Clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes, the film weaves together numerous subplots into the overarching plot involving African-American soldiers in Italy during World War II. I'm hesitant to divulge too much, because there are elements that just shouldn't be spoiled. I will say this - while I wasn't 100% satisfied by the movie (due mostly to some key gimmicks that bugged me), I felt that I got my money's worth. There is much to like in the movie - and there are scenes that will resonate long after you are done seeing the film (such as the river crossing early in the film - but that's all I'll say).

I'm a little surprised at the number of negative reviews I have seen (there are plenty of positive ones, albeit with caveats similar to my own). One reviewer from Entertainment Weekly (grade = C-) said that "the disappointment of the film begins with what a hard time I had finding Spike Lee in it." He closes his review saying "the real trouble with Miracle is that Lee's filmmaking is joyless."

Whatever one says about the film, the above two quotes need to be strongly refuted.

I'll tackle the last quote first - I wonder if this EW reviewer and I watched the same film. The film is exuberant, and if the subject matter is often without joy (i.e. extremely gory battle scenes, as well as Nazi atrocities), Spike Lee's emotional attachment to his subject is evident throughout, as he weaves war footage with Italian neo-realism, creating a shimmering collage of images, if not an entirely cohesive one (as others have pointed out). Lee seemed to me to be especially influenced by Federico Fellini, as well as The Bicycle Thief and similar Italian films, which, while not always about the happiest of subjects, are created in such a way that one cannot help but feel joy at human existence.

As for the accusation that Spike Lee's stamp could not be found - what utter nonsense. While Lee appears to be going for the Oscar gold in this film (and indeed, he stands to be nominated), he has not at all left behind the key topic that permeates his work - race relations and racism itself. Miracle at St. Anna is coated with this theme. One African-American soldier laments that he feels more free in Nazi-controlled Italy than he does in his own country. There is a flashback scene to the South, the contents of which I won't reveal except to say it deals with inherent racism in American society. Spike Lee's presentation of racism is not one-dimensional - he shows us that black soldiers can be guilty of racism against whites as well, while at the same time illustrating that not all Germans were sadistic lunatics devoid of human emotions (though plenty of that sort can be seen in the movie). No one group of people in the film (African-American soldiers, white American soldiers, Nazi soldiers, or Italian civilians) can uniformally be designated "good" or "bad." Lee brings attention to individuals' faults and merits in a way that dissolves stereotypes (good or bad) about various ethnic groups.

In spite of the film's flaws (which I cannot entirely reveal without spoiling the film), I have to recommend seeing it. I don't think there is another film this year that can inspire so much discourse on a variety of topics. An average Spike Lee film will do the same, but I don't think he has made such a conversation-worthy film since Malcolm X. Take the time to see it, and weigh the film's missteps against its accomplishments, and then let me know what you think.

Paul Newman, 1925-2008

A silver-screen giant has passed - Paul Newman lost his battle with lung cancer at the age of 83. Read all about it here.

Enough has been said about Newman's legendary roles in, among other films, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Color of Money, and of course, Cool Hand Luke. His activism and canned vegetables (Newman's Own) were also renowned. Less well known or discussed is his service in the Pacific during World War II on the USS Bunker Hill, during the Battle for Okinawa, in which the rest of his detail perished. Also worth mentioning is his work in recent films, including Road to Perdition and Cars (as the voice of a retired race car).

Newman is survived by his wife, Joanne, five children, two grandsons, and his older brother, Arthur.

Friday, September 26, 2008

San Jose Sharks crush the Anaheim Ducks, 5-2 - and Alexei Semenov scores from the LEFT POINT... Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller later commits suicide

After failing to maintain a lead against the Anaheim Ducks in that team's preseason home opener, the San Jose Sharks returned the favor tonight, stomping the Ducks 5-2. UPDATE = watch strangely-edited video here.

Now, to be even-handed / fair with our rival, the Ducks only had 7 veterans on hand = Todd Marchant, Travis Moen, Rob Niedermayer, Samuel Pahlsson, George Parros, Corey Perry, and of course, Chris Pronger. But then again, the Sharks themselves had only 10 - and that's counting our goalie Evgeni Nabokov, as well as assuming that Tomas Plihal, Alexei Semenov, and Devin Setoguchi fit the bill as "veterans."

There were less fights tonight than on Wednesday, but if Drew Remenda reports it correctly, Jody Shelley actually got the best of George Parros and his 'stache in one of the two major altercations. Aside from the two official fights, Milan Michalek also reportedly shoved Chris Pronger after being hit by him behind the net, working up the crowd in the process.

The three stars of the game were Joe Pavelski (1 goal, 1 assist), Dan Boyle (1 goal, 1 assist), and Sharks defenseman Mike Moore (1 goal). The other Sharks to score goals were - brace yourself - Alexei Semenov (from the left point - hey, I'll take it, but I guarantee J-S. Giguere would have stopped that), and newcomer Jamie McGinn. Scoring for the Ducks - newcomer Andrew Ebbett and George Parros' mustache.

Shots on goal - 37 (SJ) to 18 (Anaheim). Way to outplay 'em, Team Teal.

Line combinations tonight for the Sharks:

* Michalek - Pavelski - Cheechoo

* Morris - Roenick - Setoguchi

* Shelley - Plihal - Armstrong

* McGinn - Couture - Kaspar

Defensive Pairs:

* Ehrhoff - Boyle

* Semenov - Demers

* Joslin - Moore

Goal: Evgeni Nabokov

Line combos for the Ducks:

* Moen - Wirtanen - R. Niedermayer

* Miller - Marchant - Perry

* MacMillan - Pahlsson - Parros

* Ryan - Ebbett - Boguniecki

Ducks' Defensive Pairs:

* O'Donnell - Salcido

* Pronger - Bodie

* Festerling - Montador

Goalie: Jonas Hiller

In other losses for the Ducks today, they traded Mathieu Schneider to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ken Klee, Brad Larsen and Chad Painchaud. The Atlanta Thrashers just improved 10 fold, but that's not really saying much in the Southeast Division.

As for the Sharks - they take on the Sedin twins' Vancouver Canucks at home tomorrow night.

Slips of the tongue? It all makes sense now...

So, the Chinese Olympic gymnasts have clarified why their perceived age is such an issue - because they themselves *misspoke* about their age at earlier contests. Verbatim quote (presumably w/ translation) from one who originally said she was 14 = "Everybody has misspoken before. On television shows, there are always slips of the tongue."

Yeah, right. Read the rest of the bull here.

Time for an anecdote- when I was working at my first job at a supermarket, two white kids walked up with a Mexican "friend" of theirs. They wanted to buy beer - and as ID, they presented the Mexican's ID, from Mexico, naturally.

Now, my passport is pretty ragged from use over the years (my friends say it shouldn't be accepted at border crossings), but I haven't ever seen any official documentation so impossible to read as this card. And that's not including the fact that it was in Spanish, which I can kinda sorta read.

Of course the two gringos were underage, but store policy was that we could not presume that the underage individuals accompanying an of-age buyer were going to drink the alcohol. So I couldn't refuse the sale on those grounds.

"How old are you?"

"Oh, he doesn't speak English, man."

"Cuantos anos, hombre?" (should have asked, "Como viejo es usted" but he understood me)

"Veinte... uh, veintidos."

"Sorry guys, no beer."

"What? He just misspoke, he doesn't understand your question."

"No one misspeaks about his age - but he could lie about it, just like he did."

And just like the Chinese gymnasts did.

Of course, I don't suspect that the IOC will have the balls to stand up to the filthy Chinese government - because it's the government that is the real problem, not the gymnastics team. How can an underage person get an official passport saying she is 16, without government cooperation (read = corruption) and support?

New old roommate - and what not to say in an interview

Wednesday afternoon, my friend and I continued our quest to find a replacement for our ex-third roommate. We saw four people over the course of 75 minutes, and basically reached the conclusion that we would need to pick one of those 4, barring serious red flag issues. First interviewee - good guy. Seemed like he would fit in the apartment.

While we were interviewing him, the second interviewee walked up to the door (he was on time - the first interview went too long). Now, my roommate was the one handling the emails and scheduling interviews, while I was just along for the ride (as well as to offer my opinion as to our final selection). I had no idea about who any of our candidates were.

"Oh, there's our second interviewee," says my roommate with a nod, before apologizing to the first candidate for the scheduling compression.

Me - "You have to be freakin' kidding me."

It was one of my (good) college roommates.

Turns out he had seen the ad, and came out to interview. He didn't know I lived there, and I didn't know he even needed a new place. I guess we should keep in touch more often...

...Which won't be hard to do now, since he's our newest roommate. I didn't even have to push the point hard - my current roommate liked him immediately. Sucks for the first candidate, though (for the record - my old college roommate let us finish interviewing the first guy, who probably realized his chances shrunk twofold once the former walked in).

As for the third and fourth candidates - they were examples of what NOT to say during an interview.

"My parents kicked me out, so I need a place fast."

"I don't smoke... marijuana."

"I sometimes take days off of work so I can play World of Warcraft. I've got two days off in a few weeks for when the new game comes out."

"Is it ok if I pay half of the deposit now, and half later?"

"I'd rather not pay your utilities - can I work something out?"

"Parking won't be a problem - I can't drive right now, so I rollerblade everywhere."

To top off all of the above, the final candidate came into our house high on crystal meth. That's not my analysis - the candidate in question had an altercation with our neighbor, who is a very-much reformed drug addict. He stopped short of calling him on it, but let us know afterwards what was up. While I myself can't pinpoint the specific drug a person is high on, let's just say I knew something was very unusual about that individual.

As for our new roommate - having him around will be like college again, only with less classes and more 40 hour work weeks. Ah, maturity.

UPDATE = The search for a new roommate must go on, because for complicated reasons, my old college roommate cannot move in after all. Major bummer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joe Torre heads to his 13th straight post-season

I hatehatehateHATE the Los Angeles Dodgers - but I loveloveloveLOVE Joe Torre. So I will focus my attention more on the accomplishments of the former New York Yankees manager rather than on the accomplishments of the Giants' hated rival. Actually, the Dodgers have more than just Joe Torre to thank - the Arizona Diamondbacks bit the dust, winning just 3 out of 14 games to fall out of the division lead, before losing today to the St. Louis Cardinals, clinching the division for L.A.

Now, love for Joe Torre aside, the Dodgers will hopefully lose to the Phillies in the post-season. Because I do still hate the Dodgers - I just will never boo Mr. Torre.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jose Gonzalez @ Yoshi's, Oakland

I love it when shows are teacher friendly. Tonight, Argentinian-Swedish "ethereal acoustic singer songwriter" Jose Gonzalez performed at 8pm at Yoshi's jazz club in Oakland. For the uninitiated, Gonzalez performs indie songs with a classical guitar, singing in English (he is trilingual). His spirited performance included such highlights as "Lovestain," "Crosses," "Cycling Trivialities," and a cover of Massive Attack's "Teardrop," which closed his regular set. Jose's four song encore included "Heartbeats" (by fellow Swedes the Knife), my personal favorite "Killing for Love," and the awesome Kylie Minogue cover, "Hand on Your Heart." I was pining for his sublime cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," but to hear three other exquisite covers more than made up for the absence.

The intimate Yoshi's was perfect - normal jazz club etiquette applied, so people were astonishingly quiet throughout, unlike at Bimbo's or Cafe du Nord in San Francisco, where the bar noise threatens to drown out an acoustic performer. Almost as good as Jose Gonzalez was the food - Yoshi's doubles as a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi.

The show was sold out, and seating was rough, but it was well worth the effort to hear amazing arpeggio chords accompanied by commanding vocals. If you desire an English-speaking Argentinian-Swedish solo-classical-acoustic singer-songwriter in your life, Jose Gonzalez is your man.

Todd McLellan loses first (preseason) game as Sharks coach

The San Jose Sharks lost their first preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks, 4-6 tonight in Anaheim. After the Sharks went ahead 4-2, the Ducks came storming back with 4 unanswered goals, including 2 by Corey Perry (he's baaaaaaack...).

Thus begins new coach Todd McLellan's first season as a head coach. I suppose it's not fair to compare a first-time head coach to Ron Wilson, considering the latter was the winningest coach in Sharks history, but comparisons will be inevitable this season. Simply put - Ron Wilson's Maple Leafs won their first game together, and Todd McLellan's San Jose Sharks did not. The Buffalo Sabres (whom Toronto beat) might not be the same caliber this season as the Anaheim Ducks, but you get my point.

Before I sound hysterical, tonight WAS just a preseason match, albeit against our most fierce rival (there were 6 different fights tonight, natch). Come October 9, however, the same matchup will REALLY mean something - our first regular season game, at home, versus our arch-nemesis, with a new coach and new players (3 new defensemen!). Oh, and we want to redeem ourselves for that crummy home opener last season against Boston.

Liam Finn w/ The Veils @ Bottom of the Hill

Last night after attending half of the San Jose Sharks' Teal & White Game, I moseyed on up to Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco to see the musically-gifted progeny of equally-gifted musician fathers - namely, Liam Finn (son of Neil Finn from Crowded House), and The Veils (whose frontman Finn Andrews, aside from the coincidence of having the same first name as Liam's last name, is the son of XTC's Barry Andrews). Both artists hail originally from New Zealand (technically, Liam Finn was born in Australia - minor detail).

San Franciscan singer-songwriter Dominant Legs (aka Ryan William Lynch) started the show just after 9:15 - his catchy, bittersweet acoustic songs were well-delivered with his endearing vocals. A shame most people talked over his brief set.

Afterwards, The Veils took the stage, and I immediately was smitten by bassist Sophia Burn... but that's a superficial detail. They opened with a new song, "Scarecrow," which was surprisingly mellow - they followed it with the more raucous "Calliope." Elsewhere in their set, they played their most well-known song, "Advice for Young Mothers to Be" (as heard on the show One Tree Hill). A highlight for me was their new song, "A Letter" - I'll be looking forward to their new album just based on that song alone.

Liam Finn then came on, playing mostly just with Eliza-Jane Barnes. Together, they looped guitar riffs and vocal stylings into sonic collages, completed with Finn's fiendishly energetic, propulsive drumming. One of the highlights of the evening - a cover of The Beatles' "Birthday" (it was Finn's 25th birthday, New Zealand time), done both faithfully and... differently.

All in all, great show put on by 3 great performers. Expect The Veils, in particular, to be the toast of the wider indie scene after their next album.

Sharks' defenseman Douglas Murray extended 4 years!!!

As a teacher, I probably shouldn't be typing a blog post during school hours (FOR THE RECORD - kids are at P.E.). But this can't wait, and I'll make it quick - Douglas Murray, who flies under many peoples' radar as the Sharks' best defenseman - has signed a 4-year contract extension. You can read all about it here.

I'm a big fan of Douglas (not "Doug" - his mom says it sounds like "dog" in Swedish) - the Scottish-Swede is a powerful force on the ice, and his plus / minus of +20 last year (for the majority of the season, the team's highest - he ended up second best) speaks for itself. Plus, it's fun having a Viking-pugilist on the team.

In other Sharks defensemen news, Kyle McLaren will almost undoubtedly be elsewhere this season, for salary cap reasons. He was not at the Teal & White Game last night, either on the ice or for the autograph sessions. Nor has he been at other team scrimmages. His fierce hip checks - when he's healthy - will be sorely missed. Read all about it here and here.

Oh, and Alexei Bleepin' Semenov WAS on the ice last night, and I couldn't be more upset.

Mathematical elimination...

I suppose it was inevitable, though it started to look like the pinstripped stars would align - the New York Yankees were mathematically eliminated from the post-season last night, marking the first time in 14 seasons that Derek Jeter and co. will not be able to play in October. For their part, the Yankees beat Toronto last night - it was a Boston victory over Cleveland that clinched at least the AL Wild Card for the Red Sux.

All that really remains to be seen in the American League is who clinches the Central Division. Will it be the Minnesota Twins, or the currently-first-place Chicago White Sox (w/ Ken Griffey, Jr.)? The Twins are 1.5 games back from the White Sox - whom they beat last night, and face tonight and tomorrow night. A Minnesota sweep puts them in the lead going into their final series against Kansas City; Chicago finishes the season playing Cleveland. A photo finish?

As for the National League, Philadelphia and the New York Mets are neck and neck, while Los Angeles will try to extend its 3.0 game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks. As for the Wild Card - it comes down to either the Phillies or the Mets, or the Milwaukee Brewers, who have certainly had a less than rosy September thus far.

I'm looking forward to October - not only do we get the return of hockey, continued football, but arguably the most exciting post-season of the Big Four. Stay tuned...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hmmm... Ron Wilson wins first (preseason) game as Leafs coach

For what it's worth, Ron Wilson (rememb... oh nevermind) coached the Toronto Maple Leafs to a win on his first outing as their new coach. The Leafs beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres 7-4, with center Dominic Moore scoring twice against Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. This preseason game also saw the return of goalie Curtis Joseph to blue and white - Cujo was serenaded by the crowd at the Air Canada Centre, though he gave up a goal in the first period on the first 5 shots he faced (Justin Pogge took over, stopping 21 shots).

Pinnacles National Monument

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of visiting Pinnacles National Monument for the first time, with a good friend of mine. At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I find it pretty ironic that I had visited 33 countries and 34 U.S. states before visiting the closest U.S. National Monument to my hometown. What's there, then? Lots of photogenic geological features - the remnants of an extinct volcano - plus the endangered California condor. Glad that I finally got around to visiting a local gem - I shall be returning often to atone for not previously visiting.

Here are some photos from my hike.

The 22nd Annual Bridge School Benefit lineup

The 22nd annual Bridge School Benefit concert will be held this year on October 25 and 26 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre, in Mountain View, CA. The proceeds benefit the Bridge School in Hillsborough, CA, a school dedicated to educating students with severe speech and physical impairments. The Bridge School is run by Pegi Young, wife to a certain other musically-gifted Young. Together, they gather up the finest rock (and other) musicians to perform acoustically for two days. While Neil Young (w/ Crazy Horse, or Crosby, Stills & Nash) is the one staple, other regulars at the concert include Pearl Jam, the Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and (wait for it) Billy Idol. That's not to mention appearances by Bob Dylan, The Who, Paul McCartney, and David Bowie.

This year's lineup has a slight difference between the two days...

* Neil Young

* Death Cab for Cutie

* Wilco

* Cat Power

* Smashing Pumpkins (UPDATE - Sunday only)

* Jack Johnson

* Norah Jones
* UPDATE - Sarah McLachlan (Saturday only)

* ZZ Top (Saturday only)

* Josh Groban (Sunday only)

That's right - apparently ZZ Top is interchangeable with Josh Groban. Who knew?

The ticket on-sale date has yet to be announced - I unfortunately have to pass this year (I've only been to 4 of the 21 concerts), but the lineup looks tempting (Wilco and ZZ Top on the same bill - awesomeness).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yankees say "Goodbye" to Yankee Stadium

It's going to take a few days for it to hit me, but the final game* at Yankee Stadium was played tonight against the Baltimore Orioles. Though the O's got on the board first, the Yankees benefited from a 3-run homer by Johnny Damon to go ahead, followed the next inning by a 2-run homer from Jose Molina (incidentally, the last home run ever* at Yankee Stadium - third time this season is a charm, Jose). Final score - 7 to 3, Yankees.

Joe Girardi fittingly had Andy Pettite start the game, but graciously gave several players the opportunity to relieve him (he got the win), in order that they might be able to say they played in the final game* as well. Thus, Jose Veras, Phil Coke AND Joba Chamberlain all got the opportunity to hit the mound before the Sandman himself, Mariano Rivera, became the last pitcher* at Yankee Stadium.

Maybe it was my imagination, but the Sandman seemed genuinely moved while at the mound - as well he should be. I was moved just watching him - despite uncharacteristically failing to strike out any batter he faced, he is, according to Reggie Jackson himself during the game, one of the 5 greatest Yankees (feel free to argue with Reggie... but Rivera definitely belongs up there somewhere).

Though going 0-5 (bear in mind he was hit in the hand yesterday), captain Derek Jeter was still the man of the hour, and was given a final curtain call, as well as the microphone, to address "the greatest fans" in baseball. Before the game, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and Don Larsen all took to the field for pre-game festivities. Yogi Berra's commentary throughout the game, as well as his poignant pre-recorded send-off to Yankee Stadium, were exceptionally apropos on a day of pinstriped memories.

Now to explain the * throughout - the Yankees are not yet mathematically eliminated, though they're hanging on by the skin of their teeth. If Boston wins one of their next four games in Cleveland, or New York loses one of their next three, it's over for the Bombers going into their 3-game series against the Red Sox. On the other hand, in the unlikely scenario of Boston losing 4 straight, and the Yankees sweeping Toronto, the Yankees could force an AL Wild Card tie-breaker by sweeping Boston in their subsequent series at Fenway.

A boy can dream, right? Boo Boston, boo Toronto, go Tribe, but most importantly - GO YANKEES!
It can be done...

Kurtis Foster's revenge... Torrey Mitchell out with broken leg

The San Jose Sharks now have a third line vacancy to fill, as center Torrey Mitchell (aka Last Year's Star Rookie... ok, that's just what I call him) broke both bones in his lower left leg during practice today. He will miss at least two months, translating into 5 weeks of the regular season.

This obviously hurts the Sharks - any man who can evade both Mathieu Schneider and Chris Bleepin' Pronger to score arguably the most determined goal of last season will be sorely missed.

It's hard not to think of Kurtis Foster playing with a voodoo Torrey Mitchell doll to reap his revenge after Mitchell accidentally tripped Foster and slammed him against the boards chasing the puck, breaking the Minnesota Wild defenseman's femur (I was there, and it was not pretty).

In other Sharks news, we've hired John Ferguson, Jr. (the former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager) to be the director of pro scouting.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nick Cave @ Warfield - Photos and Setlist

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were gloriously dark, literate and exuberant at the Warfield tonight (Friday, September 19). Red Sparowes [sic] opened with a taut 40 minute set of instrumental post-rock, before the Bad Seeds took the stage around 10:10. The setlist was essentially the same as the San Diego show, with one addition and a few changes in the song order. The show let out a little after midnight. All in all, a very generous helping to a very enthusiastic San Franciscan crowd.

1. Night of the Lotus Eaters
2. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
3. Tupelo
4. Today's Lesson
5. Red Right Hand
6. Let Love In
7. Midnight Man
8. Mercy Seat
9. Deanna
10. Moonland
11. The Ship Song
12. We Call Upon the Author
13. Papa Won't Leave You, Henry
14. More News from Nowhere


15. The Lyre of Orpheus
16. Into My Arms
17. Get Ready for Love
18. Hard-on for Love
19. God Is In the House (audience request)
20. Stagger Lee

Personal highlights - Midnight Man and More News from Nowhere were both awesome. God Is In the House was a nice surprise. Red Right Hand was also fantastic. Fun audience sing-along with Papa Won't Leave You, Henry. Tomorrow night's show sounds very very tempting... good thing for my wallet that it's sold out (despite the abundance of tickets on Craigslist).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dustin, as played by Jason Biggs?!?

Why does Jason Biggs' character in the new movie My Best Friend's Girl have to be named Dustin? WHY??? Jason Biggs is hardly the actor to bring dignity to my good name...

Years of Dustin Hoffman majesty will now be laid to waste... Dustin Diamond as Screech on Saved By the Bell was bad enough.

Maybe I'm just overreacting... but it IS Jason Biggs, after all (American Pie, anyone?). Would YOU have faith in him representing your name in a sophomoric comedy?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tomorrow - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds @ the Warfield

Tomorrow night I will finally see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, live, for the first time, at the Warfield in San Francisco. Considering the unholy amount of shows I attend, it still shocks me that I haven't yet caught him in one of his various incarnations (his other band Grinderman rolled through town last year while I was traveling)... could be that his shows sell out scarily fast (almost got shut out on this one, too).

Though I knew the reputation since I was 13, my first exposure to Nick Cave's music was belatedly through Wim Wender's 1987 film Wings of Desire (Der Himmel uber Berliner). Fantastic live versions of "The Carny" and "From Her to Eternity." One even gets insight into Nick's inner monologue... watch here.

Anyway, the Bad Seeds' most recent album, Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! is absolutely the best album I've heard this year. Watch this video of the title song - while Nick Cave is definitely not for all tastes, you'll still be singing the chorus in 5 minutes or so. I for one am convinced that his strut in the video will translate into incredible stage presence tomorrow night. Did I mention the man turns 51 on Monday? Way to age respectably... even if that mustache is outrageous(ly awesome).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Say it ain't so, Bombers...

Apparently 200 million dollars doesn't buy a good sense of timing.

Of all the years that the New York Yankees could have failed to reach the post-season (which they have not failed to do since 1993 - not counting the strike in '94), they have abruptly tanked in 2008...

The final year at Yankee Stadium.

There will be no October at the House That Ruth Built this year, unlike the last 13 years - no fitting sendoff to arguably (read = indisputably) the most fabled sports venue since Rome's Colosseum.

It doesn't take much for me to imagine the Babe's ghost drowning his sorrows with DiMaggio's while Mickey Mantle's tends bar and Bobby Murcer's just shakes his head.

Yesterday, Derek Jeter surpassed Lou Gehrig's record of hits at Yankee Stadium, a record that will now stand for all-time (for Yankee Stadium purists, at least). The Yankees still lost the game, however... which is the bigger point. That they won today is now irrelevant (except for a 9-year old I know that was actually there... his teacher is severely jealous, and wants to remind him to finish his homework while on the subway).

Which leads us to the Blame Game - who is responsible for this disastrous finale to the season?

Joe Girardi? Not so much. The brothers Steinbrenner will be holding on to him - despite no October, he played no small part in keeping his team in the hunt in what has become a very tough division (thank you very much, Tampa Bay).

All the injuries? That's the Yankees' own excuse, and to be sure, it was a factor this season. Chien-Ming Wang, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain... and that's just in pitching. Hideki Matsui was sorely missed at the plate, not to mention Johnny Damon (briefly) and Jorge Posada.

Then there's Alex Rodriguez... he may as well have been injured, considering that he and his big bat didn't show up when the Bombers (whose nickname now seems ironic) needed him the most. Break the Mick's and Ruth's records all you like, A-Rod, but you damn well better get the clutch plays if you're going to don the pinstripes. Going 0-5 and making $158 K while doing so is inexcusable. The litany of boos you've heard at Yankee Stadium is just a foretaste of what is to come next season if you play like Dan Uggla at the All-Star Game.

But I digress - as easy (and satisfying) as it is to make A-Rod the fall guy, it doesn't paint a complete picture... even if Billy Crystal could have done a better job, for cheaper.

The Yankees are a team - the greatest team in the history of sports, I daresay. They succeed as a team, and they fail as a team. In 2008, they failed as a team. I'm tempted to name the entire roster for effect, but I'd just be doing it out of extreme (and reactionary) bitterness - bitterness over the fact that Yankee Stadium shuts its doors this Sunday, September 21, and not sometime in October. The issue is not fair-weatheredness on my part - the issue is the final legacy of Baseball's Cathedral. It should not end like this.

There are just 4 home games left, against the AL Central leaders the Chicago White Sox (tomorrow) and the very-much-done Baltimore Orioles. Will Dave Trembley graciously throw the game out of respect? Should I even have to question the Yankees' ability to win the last game at Yankee Stadium? (Will there be mass suicide across the five boroughs - nay, the entire country - if the Orioles win?)

September 21 (a day that shall live in infamy...) is followed by another meaningless series on the road in Toronto, and a never-ever-ever-meaningless road series against the Boston Red Sox... in which New York has been ingloriously reduced to the role of spoiler.


Come October, the only for-sures, other than no Yankee Stadium, are the L.A. Angels in the AL, and (99.9% sure) the Chicago Cubs in the NL. New York's other team is on pace for a 2nd-straight September collapse (it's also the final year at Shea Stadium, but - honestly - no one cares), and Tampa and Boston will fight it out to be the AL East champ, while the other will most likely have to "settle" for the wild card. Too bad the Angels are going to smoke the wild card, because seeing the Rays and the Sox duke it out in October like they do the rest of the year would be something to munch popcorn to... assuming the Rays win, of course.

Prediction - Angels vs. Cubs in the World Series. Chicago vs. Chicago would be fun = either the end of the Curse of the Goat, or Ken Griffey, Jr. finally gets his ring. Of course, I'm all for Ken Griffey on that one - there's always next year, Cubbies.