Friday, September 16, 2011

web comment of the day

One of the greatest things ever isn't the fact that news can be shared instantaneously via the internet, it's the fact that websites think its a good idea to add a comments section under all their new articles. In the hopes of getting people to interact and further discuss a topic, comment sections usually spiral horribly downward and become a virtual public restroom bathroom door wall. It's awesome.


Here's my favorite for the day on ESPN, a seemingly sweet article about the rejuvenated Buffalo Sabres having players and the owner hand deliver tickets to season ticket holders. Instead in this excerpt you can see poor A.J. Burnett gets slandered for no good reason:

Ricardo Roman: "how about the Steinbrener family come to my home and deliver me some Yankee tickets"
TML954: "Maybe AJ Burnett can deliver them for you"
Sabrefan6248: "Burnett would deliver the first 4 just fine and then blow up and deliver the rest to the wrong houses"
MattSiF: "That's just messed up, and I don't even like the guy"



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Monday, September 12, 2011

PODCAST: DJ Shakes_2011-09-12 (Japan)

Download by right-clicking HERE or...

PODCAST ME:
Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the left column of this page (under "Podcast Me!") into your iTunes. Or:

1. goto iTunes
2. click on Advanced
3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

T R A C K L IS T I N G (approx 57 min)
http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: songs I listened to in Japan (for whatever reason)

[0:00] 地球の歩き方 - The Collectors

[2:17] Jail La La - Dum Dum Girls

[4:33] Always Forever Now - U2

[8:00] Billie Holiday - Warpaint

[11:08] Subterranean Homesick Alien - Radiohead

[15:16] Shelter (John Talabot Feel It Too Remix) - The XX

[21:20] I Want Freedom - Chris Joss

[23:16] Yoshio & the Guitar - DJ Yoshio

[24:26] Eye Know - De La Soul

[28:14] The World (Interlude) - Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi

[28:53] Dog Days Are Over - Florence + The Machine

[32:45] Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People

[36:36] Beautiful - Yura Yura Teikoku

[40:17] Floating Vibes - Surfer Blood

[44:05] Act Like We Do - National Skyline

[46:50] Halcyon (Tom Middleton Re-model) - Orbital

[53:33] Symphonies - Dan Black

[57:01] Ok - Talvin Singh


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Desis Overheard



Location: Kyoto, Japan. On a tour of Nijo Castle, the Golden Temple, and the Imperial Palace
This family of three was on my tour, when I heard this gem of a conversation:

Auntie: This is a lovely garden
Uncle: Yes, it really is. You know Sonia used to be a gardener
Auntie: She was not. She was a landscaper. That is very different
Little boy: [silent]
Uncle: But what she did was still quite good, right?
Auntie: You would know.

Late on the little boy claimed he had tried beer once ("as a little kid") because the dad gave it to him. The dad then told him not to tell lies as the boy proceeded to describe a very plausible scenario of being able to have a sip while the dad had been watching TV. The dad then told him to lower his voice even though it was already low and that it was actually root beer and the boy was very wrong. Given the earlier "Sonia Incident" the dad seemed leery of his wife.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tokyo, I can see Russia from here, & Koji

So after a year I’ve finally decided to take a holiday. Well I was told to take one by both the folks who work with me (“you’re always here, you should go away”) and by my vacation days left this year… counting days not taken from years past I had 39 days this year… I’ve only taken 2 of them. So in the hopes of using 37 days (or at least 10-15) by year end I pulled the trigger. So here I am on a flight to Tokyo where a rainy, muggy, foreign land await. At least I’m avoiding the that’s going to flood my home. We’re currently over Alaska somewhere in our grand Mercator-projector-looping flight path

On the way to the airport I felt this urge to email my desk, joke around with them, and generally see how they’re doing. I struggle between feeling like I shouldn’t always be around and wanting to be the person that I normally am and that those above me when I was younger rarely were. Maybe there’s a reason for why they seemed distant at times and seemingly went out of their way to be friends. Maybe. Or maybe there just were incapable of being normal.

My plan upon boarding the flight was to grab my entire side of row 24. I of course am parked at 24L, the window seat, an aesthetically pleasing seat for the takeoffs and landing but strategically terrible for the intermittent 14hrs. namely I’d have to ask someone to wake-up/get-up/stop eating in order to use the bathroom.

But that’s a risk I was am (was) willing to take because there wasn’t anyone sitting in the seats next to me. Bingo. 3 seats which would be perfect for laying out and sleeping on. Who needs first class when you can pull out a stunning economy maneuver. If I was a great literally character this would be on par with the Lepellier Maneuver (from John Knowles “A Separate Peace”), a cunning patented move. But I’m not and it isn’t.

Enter Koji. Koji is the 8yr old who’s parents decided to hop on this flight and fuck up my plan. So much for a whole row, now I have my crummy window seat. That being said the kid is damn cute, waves at me every 10 minutes and over the course of the last 8 hours generally likes to know what I’m doing, why I’m sleeping, and what I’m watching. It’s because of Koji that it’s taken me about 30 minutes to write the last 3 sentences.

Koji: “What are you watching now?”
Me: “Nothing really, just some weird comedy (ThankYouMoreYes – quite good actually). You?”
Koji: “I’m watching Up, it’s one of my favorite kid movies.”
Me: “What’s your favorite non-kids movie?”
Koji: “I dunno, I don’t watch too many of them”

He may win the award for the best stranger I’ve ever sat next to in a flight… he basically knows about every player in baseball and hockey. He was able to name 5 players off the LA Kings roster (so you know he’s a good kid) and seemed to generally think my idea of putting a seatbelt on his teddy bear and playing the “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” (he synchronized the bears movie with his viewing, so they could watch it at the same time) for the bear’s entertainment was a somewhat funny.

Koji and his family (mom, dad, and little brother Yuki) are traveling to Japan because his grandfather has cancer. I’m not sure if he fully understands what that means because 1) he didn’t seem too fazed by it while telling me and 2) I’m 4 times his age and I barely understand what it means. Sweet kid. He wants to be a goalie.
4 hours until we land.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mike Fratello = Lt. Harris?

Is NBA analyst, and anointed czar of the telestrator Mike Fratello really Lt. Harris from Police Academy?




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Saturday, April 23, 2011

is Gulshan Grover the brown Nicholas Cage?


The funny thing is that only one of them has a fake tan...and I'll give you a hint, it's not the dude on the left.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Genres

One of the things that I take great pride in is being anal about organization...and there's no place better to demonstrate it than organizing music. It baffles me to no end when I look how my friends organize their iTunes library and see everything put about in a slipshod manner.

I mean people have music under genres like "rock," "alternative," and "hard rock." This is terrible! How the hell do you find anything? Worst yet, how can people tolerate it when the same artist has music falling in different genres? Look I think U2 has changed its sound over the years, but that doesn't mean it's not all still the same genre.

I spent a while thinking about the most efficient way to break up music in the categories that I care about....while preserving the ability to add new genres that may pop-up (e.g. mashups)

So with that I give you the breakdown in the picture on the right... broadly speaking it's filed as follows:

1) White music
2) Brown music
3) Black music
4) Dancey dance
5) Instrumental type stuff
6) World music (French pop and French hip-hop should never be confused with actually being pop or hip-hop music)
7) Movie related stuff
8) Stuff I made
9) Comedy

Blammo.

And then under each category you can put your numerous subcategories.

There, and that's how you make a blog post that's aimed to be informative but in actuality masks an unhealthy amount of analness.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the cricket world cup, my dad, & the Indian victory

I don't like to write personal things on this blog, but I sorta felt compelled to after this past weekend...

***

The last time India won the World Cup (as literally every Indian knows) was in 1983 when it was held in England. At the time my dad, a lifelong cricket fan living in Minneapolis with his wife and two young sons, was given the serendipitous opportunity to go on a prolonged business trip to London.

The stars were aligning for dad.

He'd been living in America since the late 1960s and in the pre-internet days his only means for staying in touch with cricket team he loved were international newspapers in public libraries, word of mouth from fleeting phone calls, hours pouring over the the Wisden Cricket Almanac (which always just seemed like a boring fat yellow book that would only make cameo appearances in random boxes whenever we moved). Can you imagine being in England at exactly the same time the cricket World Cup was taking place? Sometimes work and your personal life can intersect in a positive way.

Dad declined the offer.

He felt that the opportunity was unfairly given to him because there was a colleague who was overlooked by his seniors because of internal politics. Dad stayed in the US, the other guy went to England.

Fast forward 28 years and dad and I were watching the cricket final in my cousin's apartment with a dozen or so friends. We were streaming the game through the internet and had it linked up to a nice big TV where everyone could watch in relative comfort. With the exception of the video stream having buffering issues throughout the 8 hour match (oh Willow TV...) there really wasn't much more you could ask for (the mid-match dosa run was also helpful). Heck this beat past World Cups where my friends and I would gather in cramped Manhattan bars, sitting on painful stools, while people walked in your way. The difference was like between flying Air India economy class and Kingfisher Airline’s first class.... or well...any class not on Air India.

Dad pretty much sat in one chair throughout the match and was in anguish for a good deal of it. A strong Sri Lankan finish to their innings coupled by a poor Indian start made our festive 5am party seem like a dour 9am funeral procession. My perpetually optimistic and religious dad seemed to be losing faith. It looked one more chapter was being written in the book of disappointing Indian sports, politics, and cinema events.

But slowly the tide started turning. From the depths of despair the Indian team moved us to cautious optimism, then to pained delight, and finally the brink of euphoria. And through all that I was sitting right in front of my dad.

Through thick and thin my dad had tried to find a ways to follow his team throughout the years. The internet of course was huge towards his cause. When I was in high school we had dial-up connected to the house computer, located in the bedroom I shared with my brother. Dad would sit on the computer all night to follow the text bowl-by-bowl summaries. It's one thing if you're following last few minutes of an important European soccer game that's not on TV by reading one line summaries of play. I still do that today on occasion. But it's a little bit different when you're following the 2nd day of the 3rd Test of some random cricket tour. For 8 hours. In the middle of the night. That’s a bit nuts. This dedication of course was of little consolation to my brother and me. We hated the whole thing because the pitter patter of the keyboard and the small desk light made it a difficult to sleep.

In 1983 my dad couldn't even see the matches, let alone read the play-by-play, let alone really know what's happening on a daily basis. I mean yeah he followed the improbable championship run, but he literally didn’t get to see it. And now in 2011 he was watching everything happen again. For the first time.

You know the rest, through some brave and steady batting, the Indians finally won on an emphatic sixer by captain M.S. Dhoni. The apartment with about a dozen of us viewers exploded, players on TV were crying...and... well amidst all that I was starting to feel this weird saline stream on my cheek.

It's a funny thing to cry during sports. I've cried before during games, so it's certainly not my first time. When dad and I attended a 2006 world cup soccer match between the US and Italy in Germany I started tearing up during the US national anthem. During the 2010 Summer Olympics I started tearing up when Michael Phelps won his 7th gold medal. I'm pretty sure I cried during the LA Kings hockey team's playoff run in 2010. I know I teared up at old Yankee Stadium when the Yanks beat the Red Sox in the 10th inning of game 7 on a walk-off homerun in the 2003 ALCS. And here I was crying again.

Unanimously each Indian cricketer said they had won this match for Sachin, but I was tearing for dad.


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Monday, March 28, 2011

so close, and yet...

[West Indies batting versus India]
...so far


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Libya, Gadhafi, revolution, drugs, & NRI's

This from CNN:

"Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi blames the violence in his country on young people, who he said are taking some sort of pills and being exploited by Osama bin Laden."

Frankly it sorta sounds like something my mom would say if she were an intolerant dictator. Well, now that I think about it, it sounds like my mom.

Honestly, I can't make up anything funnier about this Gadhafi quote... but I'm gonna give it a go (insert applause here).

I wonder where one gets these protest drugs? Seriously, what if Gadhafi was right? What if people were generally okay with his rule but somehow some crazies got a hold of drugs and they were ruining the country for everyone?

I think it is our duty to try and sort out what drugs there people are on. Now there's only one problem, I don't live in Libya, I don't know anyone who does, and I don't really want to go there for the sake of hard hitting investigative journalism.

Well, I suppose we can work at it through a process of elimination.

1) Stimulant or Depressant?
Okay so if you're taking a drug that makes you want to go out and fight for your right to have basic social services, jobs, freedom of speech, and the right to vote there's a very good chance that you're not on downers

Downers may make you angry, but you're highly likely to sit at home and club a baby seal versus organizing friends, family, sympathizers to protest the government

I'll take stimulants for $500 Alex.

2) Which Stimulant?
Alright Watson, let's do a quick rundown of the common stimulants and see which fits the bill. According to Wikipedia there 9 types of stimulants: Caffeine, Nicotine, Amphetamines, Ecstasy (MDMA), Coke, NRI's and NDRI's, Modafinal & Adrafinal & Armodafinil, Ampakines, and Yohimbine

I could research more but it's just too much work to hit "next page" on the Google search pages. Only Page 1 searches for me. Remember the olden days when you would routinely look at like 10 to 15 pages of search results on Yahoo until you found something mildly relevant to your to search topics? Have we become that impatient in only a 10 year span? But I digress.

To the cloud!...

a. Caffeine
Well it's the most widely available and common stimulant which makes it an interesting drug. The problem is that I'm pretty sure the people of Libya have had access to soda for a few years and it didn't exactly excite them to do anything before. I'm not sure why that fact pattern would change now, unless Pepsi Max is really that amazing (and yes I did just put the link to the Pepsi Max twitter page which for some reason has over 8,000 followers)

b. Nicotine
Have you seen people in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East before? These people have smoked like chimneys for centuries. Ain't no revolution goin' down because of Camel Turkish Blends.

c. Amphetamines
Well they give elevated mood swings and cause euphoria but then have an after effect of depression and anxiety. Hmm... well in Libya you have a scene of protests and excitement along with elements of violence when people are just frustrated (or hooligans). This seems to be an interesting fact pattern where amphetamines could explain that full range of behavior. This makes the short list.

d. Ecstasy
Listen, I don't exactly know what the scene in Libya is like from a first hand perspective, nor have I ever been there before. But I do know this, it's not exactly like a rave is taking place on the streets as far as I can tell. There may be music, but there ain't no dancing. If were on E there would be a lot more protesters wearing pacifiers. Look at this picture, I don't see any pacifiers. Next!

e. Cocaine
This is Libya, it ain't Hollywood. Next.

f. NRI's and NDRI's
This is weird because Wikipedia's list now starts to include categories and drugs I've never even heard of before. When I saw "NRI's" my first thought was Non Resident Indians the term for Indian citizens who no longer live in India - like my parents were when they first came to America like 40 years ago. The funny thing is that if someone told me that a bunch of awkward Indians were causing confusion in Libya I'd probably believe them. It's a pretty solid fact pattern. But alas these are a different sort of NRI's. A drug sort.

Well NRI drugs are used by people for a variety of reasons rangings from depression and fatigue to bedwetting and obesity. Hmm. An oppressed people suddenly coming alive and potentially peeing everywhere? We could have a winner. Let's put these on the short-list.

g. Modafinal & Adrafinal & Armodafinil
Ummm this sounds trio sounds like a terrible law firm. Well basically they're used to treat sleep disorders. Let's see... a sleeping body politic who are now awaking the the 21st century with Modadinal!... This sounds like a stretch. If anything Libyans would be happy and mellow if they were abusing Modafinal and getting a good night's rest for once. Why protest? Next.

h. Ampakines
Say what? This is a new one for me... but according to Wiki it's helpful for alertness without nasty side effects like massive addiction and post-high depression. It's big in Russia. Hmmm this may explain why people are marching in the streets, but not why they're being violent. If people had a sorta constant happy buzz you'd think they would just go to the park and play ultimate frisbee instead of bringing down a decades-old dictatorship.

i. Yohimbine
Contrary to popular belief, this is not the 2nd largest suburb outside of Tokyo. Apparently it's used as a treatment for both sexual dysfunction and Type 2 diabetes. In animals (and humans). Hmm, there's a cheap and pathetic joke waiting to be maid here... waiting...to...be... made. Wait for it... wait for it...

I'm pretty sure Libyans aren't having problems mating with sheep. Ah, there it is! Next!


3) The Short List
Well that pretty much leaves us with Amphetamines and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (NRI's). I don't really have a good way of determining which is the winner other than perhaps checking what the availability would be like in Libya.

Ideally you'd need a drugs which is available now but wasn't available before. This would fit Gadhafi's foolproof theory perfectly. After all it would be odd if the cause of the violence was a drug that was always available to the masses before that suddenly and inexplicable surged in popularity.

Okay, so let's do this scientifically:
- when I Google "amphetamines + Libya" I get 491,000 results
- when I Google "Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors + Libya" I get a paltry 14,500 results.

NRI's sounds new to me based on the fact that it doesn't have a lot of connections made between it and Libya on the ol' Googlebox.

Now sure most of these search results in both cases don't have anything to do with drug use in Libya, but that's besides the point. When it comes to humor never let the facts get in the way of the punchline.

4) The Winner: NRI's
Congrats NRI's! You win! Through the use of the process of elimination and the science method we can why it is the drug that Gadhafi is surely targetting. Let's summarize our results.

Gadhafi's Thesis: Drugs are causing people to protest in the streets

Symptons:
- High excitment: Surely do to a stimulant drug
- Violence seems to follow excitment: Indicative of a drug that has a "downer" period post "high"
- Relatively new drug: Some drug which wasn't on the scene before but is not playing a part

Cause: NRI

See! Science and Gadhafi can be fun!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why are escalators always broken?

I don't ask for very much, I really don't. Give me a TV with cable and you've pretty much satisfied all my nightlife and entertainment needs for the better part of 3 days to 6 months.

But the thing I don't get is why are there escalators that are seemingly always broken? During my morning commute it seems like over the past 10 year, at least 1 of the 3 escalators is perpetually in need of repair. Why?

I mean it's not rocket science, heck we have placed people on the moon. Why can't we get moving walkways to work?

I suppose someone is gonna now that I should just use stairs, because those never break. Well you know what, you're an ass for even mentioning that.


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Monday, February 21, 2011

Chick Corea - scientologist

It's funny how sometimes many random life events seem to interact out of nowhere and weird connections are made. This sorta thing used to happen all the time in college and now...well... let's just say I'm generally happy when random things don't interact in my brain.

Several weeks ago I went to see jazz pianist great Chick Corea in concert. Now I could lie and tell you I knew about him and his place in history, etc etc etc... but I didn't.

I got free tickets and so I went. Simple. Now as it turns out Chick is a big deal. The performance was being presented by Wynton Marsalis and everything*

*I'm not quite sure what more "everything" implies. But it fits.

It was a lovely performance, mostly of old works that I had never heard with allusions to old I scantly knew. Weird highlights included Chick Corea's wife, or as I call her Corea's chick, making an appearance to sing one of the numbers.

Well so when the show ended I thought that was the end of my run-in with Mr. Corea. Well that's where I was wrong. Last week's edition of the New Yorker had a random article about scientology and the general ridiculousness of it. Good stuff, really. Well in the meat of the article it went through the origins of Scientology and its run-ins with the law.

WELL I was shocked to hear a story about some random court case in Portland where Scientologists gathered to protest some case....and in the middle of it, a concert by Scientologist Chick Corea! Whooooooa Nelly. Chick and probably his "angel wife" were crazies in the head!

Chick Corea is a Scientologist!

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Monday, February 14, 2011

the F-bomb on 60 Minutes

During last night's epsiode of 60 Minutes there was a feature that Anderson Cooper did on Lady Gaga. During portion which showed footage from her live show, this frame appeared....


Okay, just a guy dancing, right? Nothing crazy... unless you look at the sign behind the dancer. which lights up to say "What the fuck have you done?"

Well, there it is, in bright lights. Nothing like seeing the f-word associated with Gaga followed up by Andy Rooney talking about being old.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chuck Person & Kermit the Frog

One of the funnier things about cartoon characters and/or muppets is that many of them have the type of animal they are as a part of their name. For example their Yogi Bear and Woody the Woodpecker and Porky Pig. This of course doesn't mention the fact that nearly every muppet has their animal type in their name: Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, and Miss Piggy (her first name of course is never revealed)*.


So I started thinking that it would be pretty funny if humans were like that. You know, having friends called Billy the Human or Becky the Human.

But than it struck me, we have a few such people in the world. Former Indiana Pacers forward, Chuck Person. In fact even Danny Manning is close too. Hell, Mario Van Peebles is pretty damn close.

So that's my thoughts on that issue.

*notable exceptions to this rule include Gonzo.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mother Nature is a wanker

This pretty much sums up English weather at all times throughout the year...in history...and in the future.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Do they...

... have $5 foot longs at Subway locations outside of America? Or are they constrained by the metric system?

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Friday, February 4, 2011

"Employment needed to assure economic recovery" ... no shit Sherlock

So I was sitting at work when this headline crossed through the wires (the top story in the picture below), "Bernanke Says Faster Employment Gains Needed to Assure Economic Recovery."

How is this considered breaking news? Isn't that kinda obvious.. if not redundant? It's sorta like saying "warm weather needed to end cold spell" or "wins are needed to end losing streak"

Why does someone need to tell me that employment is needed to assure recovery? What else is there in a recovery? For most people increased employment is what determines economic recovery. So basically he said that you need employment in order to have employment recovery.

Way to go Bernie

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Egypt in Crisis (tm)

I know how to tell when something is history making.

I don't need political scientists to tell me.
I don't need news commentators to tell me.
I don't need friends and loved one to tell me.

I know something is history making when it is deemed worthy by news stations to have its own logo and graphic.

Today Egypt has earned it's stripes. Egypt, a land in the cradle of human civilization, is now ready for Prime Time. The Crisis in Egypt has received the honor of getting an on-screen logo.

CNN we salute you for saluting Egypt.

The simple but sharp logo incorporates elements of Egypt's flag, standard CNN-issue block font for "Egypt" and the cracked "crisis" font. When you see the cracked font, you know something is serious. It symbolizes tension, angst, danger...something which Arial font can't quite capture.

It's even something the old font stalwart Times New Roman can't even touch.

Over the coming days we shall chart other Egypt logos as other networks grant historic legitimacy to the events transpiring in the Middle East.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

downtown Manhattan tonight


from my living room...

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big Rolex or Target wall clock?

So I was watching the Aussie Open Final this weekend and a few things struck me:

1) When did Andy Murray switch from being sponsored by Fred Perry (God Save the Queen!) to Adidas (silly Germans)?
2) When was Murray's last haircut?
3) What's the deal with the Rolex clock in the background?

Now the first two are pretty straightforward. It's hard hitting straight forward analysis. The last one is a bit of a jokey joke... because everyone understands why there's a clock there.

Tennis events like all sporting events have sponsors for every little thing (the official car, the official tire, the official soda, etc. etc) and Rolex is of course the official timer of the Australian Open.

So far you're probably reading this wishing you could get get the last 15 seconds of your life back. Nothing groundbreaking so far. But this is the question:

Is it a real Rolex clock?

Seriously, is it a very big version of a proper Rolex watch with all the inner workings and gears and whatnot that people pay so much for to grace on their wrist? OR more weirdly, is it just some weird random generic clock that's Made in China which just has a Rolex-like dial and says Rolex?

Think about it, Rolex probably paid millions of dollars to be featured so prominently in every game and on every TV screen, so it's not some random product placement.

If Rolex just put some phony bologna watch isn't that pretty disingenuous? Like wouldn't Rolex want to properly represent themselves with a real clock?

What would happen if the fake big clock, probably bought at an Aussie version of Bed, Bath, & Beyond - which un-ironically is actually a Bed, Bath, & Beyond - breaks? Does Rolex want to stake their reputation on this? On the other hand, do they really make super big watches? I doubt it.

Anyways, I was thinking about this a lot and then Andy Murray lost in straight sets so I changed the channel to QVC and moved on with life.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

two things...

1) If dumb people and athletes weren't allowed to have twitter my nightly viewing of news and SportsCenter would result in actually watching stories about news and sports.

2) I think I missed the memo where people now feel okay about casually driving through red lights. Red is the new yellow.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

video games imitating life imitating video games

I was watching the NHL skills competition and then remembered seeing this video from a little while back...

Basically it's a junior hockey team from Canada which celebrates their wins like the characters from EA Sports' epic video game NHL '94. The players celebrations after wins was essentially guys holding their sticks over the heads with both hands and moving them up and down. It was especially funny to watch people skate in all directions (backwards and forwards) while stuck making this pose...



Big props to #3, defensemen Brandon Underwood, for doing the backwards booty shake.

This one is pretty awesome and the Kamloop Blazer's website even has the reaction to the celebration as one of its top stories. Dude, when you're a Western Hockey team and you're getting 140,000 hits in less than a few weeks on a 30 second posting of your celebration, you know you're doing something right.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

the illadelph

Part of my MLK weekend where I had a nice little day trip. If you're looking for a city to kill a day in, Philly is your city. After spending about 24 hours there there is nothing which makes you wish you had a few more hours there.

Nopes.

Philly gives you all that you can handle in one single day. Any more and you start wonder why it feels like a dump if you move more than 10 blocks away in either direction from City Hall.

New York feels like you barely got your feet wet in one day. You're actually doing yourself a disservice by only going for one day.

Boston has too much history to be capture in one day.

DC will always leave you wanting to go to one more museum or memorial.

LA will.... well.... you'll probably spend most of your day in traffic so by definition you need more than a day.

Philly, on the other hand, will leave you wanting for your train ticket, Bolt Bus pass, boarding pass, or car keys after one day.

There are nice restaurants, nice places to spend a few minutes (e.g. Rittenhouse Square), decent shopping blocks, the token college bar hangout spot (Old City), but after that...well... don't hold your breath.

One of the best summaries of Philly comes from Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden, in his book "The Game." While Ken was referring to Philly's hockey team in his blurb, you can feel his view of the city is captured in the passage as well:
I don't like the feeling I get in Philadelphia. It is a hollowness, deep and disturbed, as if something is about to happen that I don't want to happen but can't stop. Before the day's end I feel threatened and physically afraid. I will hate fiercely (and admire). I will scream and curse, and get angrier than I ever get. In victory, I will gloat. Then slowly the hollowness will return, and I will be left to wonder about feelings I didn't know I had, about the nature of what I do, about things I never wonder about at other times. Only the Flyers do that to me.
And there you have it. Now clearly I went to Philly under my own volition - and it does have its moments. The thing is that all those moments can be quickly digested without the need for wanting much more. Sorta like a 10 piece Chicken McNuggets. Philadelphia, give it a day and you'll be happily along your way. Philadelphia, now less relevant than ever. Philadelphia, where the only thing they're #1 in is artificial cheese sandwiches.

I should work for Philadelphia's tourism board.


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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chinese mothers, my parents, and the Wall Street Journal

There was recently a pretty funny article ("Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior") in the Wall Street Journal about why Chinese moms approach child-raising from a different perspective than Western moms. Essentially the author tackles the expected issues: forcing kids to study hard, not accepting bad grades, frowning on sleepovers at friend's houses, being forced to play an instrument, etc., etc

Now early on the writer, Amy Chua, makes the comment that many of these same Chinese mom traits can be applied to Indian families too. So with that I felt a few important clarifications needed to be made with my experience versus the one Chua writes about. So here are some key observations from my perspective

- I don’t think I was ever prevented from going to sleepovers, but I didn’t exactly go to many. I can count the number I went to on one hand. So it’s hard to tell whether my Parental Units were “normal” or if it they only “seemed” normal because I never really pushed the envelope. It’s sorta like in college… one of the sadder things was seeing how many kids were basically “informed” by their parents what their major would be (mostly the pre-med kids). When I told them that my parents never once questioned my major they thought it was pretty cool. And it IS pretty cool I think, but this is the thing: I wanted to major in economics and poli sci. These aren’t exactly controversial majors the parents have arguments about.

- As a corollary to the sleepover issue, I did have a seemingly unreasonable quasi curfew of 10pm (basically the time when The Parental Units started getting annoyed if I was still out). In high school I finally realized the sleepover/curfew arb (namely no issue with sleeping over, versus annoyance of staying out late) and I frequently claimed I was sleeping over at my friend Jason Woolman’s house down the street. When I would return home at 2am under the premise that “I wanted to just sleep in my own bed and wake up in my own house” it was actually weirdly endearing to my mom. I’d actually win bonus points for coming home in the middle of the night.

- Technically speaking my parents always said we’re happy with whatever grade you get, as long as you try your best.* The important disclaimer is that apparently “my best” was always getting an A.

- I don’t know how to play an instrument but randomly like 2-3 years ago my mom thought I should, so she mailed me a harmonica (mind you this is while I was like 30 years old). When mom told me of her objectives (despite initial protests such as “I don’t know how to play one,” “I don’t want to play one,” “help?”) such she ended the phone call with the ominous statement “maybe you should just take it around with you so you can play and practice when you have spare moments.” Bad move mom. Bad move. So I then embarked on a month long odyssey of taking the harmonica everywhere and texting pictures of it to my mom. So Ihad pictures of the harmonica on my car dashboard, at a bar next to a beer, next to a tree, at work, with friends, on a plane seat…Luckily mom has a sense of humor so she was mildly amused.

These are my thoughts, observations, pains, and struggles …

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