Tuesday, March 31, 2009

less than 20 hours remain in the month of March

(yes Virginia, it's past four in the morning)
my self-imposed deadline for finishing at least a strong draft of the Tusk book.
and barring some last minute intervention by editing elves inside my computer (something's been inside both our laptop and Mac recently, but whatever it is certainly hasn't been helping), it ain't going to happen.

and tonight Stevie Nicks, who was just in town for several days less than two weeks ago, is coming to New York to mock me.

actually, mocking me probably isn't on her publicist's schedule.
she's scheduled for a CD signing (and where do you physically sign a CD? it's really not the same as a book signing, you know?) tonight at the Union Square Barnes & Noble so probably won't have time for the mocking.
(I'll let you research the details. I won't be there, as I've got a book to write (and the sun's been in my eyes. and I have to wash (what's left of) my hair. and . . .)

it's been 161 days since Lindsey Buckingham ended his Gift of Screws tour in New York.
you know, the date we were waiting on before Lindsey and I could do the two-years-in- the-making Tusk sitdown.

oops. I may be giving away too much of the plot.

avoid pistachios!

and for you Keith Urban fans (Urban, in a USA Today interview published this morning, called Lindsey his "favorite mad scientist"), Amazon will be offering his Defying Gravity album (released today) as a $3.99 download until just after midnight.

(yeah, I'm punchy. did you miss the part where my book's not finished and it's after four a.m.? damn.)

Twitter on, Wayne.
Twitter on, Garth.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Amazon recommendation

Amazon's had a pretty decent run of $1.99 per download albums the past few days: Jackson Browne's The Pretender on Thursday, Al Green's Let's Stay Together on Friday (FYI: these sub-$2 prices seem to still be in effect).

but today's offering, the Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America, deserves its own post, special mention, recommendation.
it'll be the best two bucks you spend all day (assuming you're not compelled to visit McDonald's after viewing their singing mounted fish commercial).

but don't take my word for it.
here's the allmusic review, as well as the Pitchfork review (if you're not familiar with Pitchfork, know that a 9.4 rating is rarefied air).

the Hold Steady headline Irving Plaza here in New York on Monday, March 30th prior to working their way across the country (Buffalo, Bloomington, Boulder, etc.) through Tax Day.

my bracket's got a hole in it

same song, different year (though I did manage to win a valuable prize (and not just the home version) for my women's bracket last season).

the women's tournament has already seen more upsets in the first day than I predicted for the entire first round. and those surprises did not include Georgia defending their home (actually, Duluth, GA) against Arizona State.
Xavier's loss to Gonzaga was particularly painful.

and on the men's side, Duke refused to lose to Texas (though it certainly could've gone the other way) and, most damaging, Ohio State, with better talent, experience and a home court advantage, couldn't put away Siena.
I knew Siena was good and I knew that Ohio State wasn't great, but damn . . .
that was about the ugliest college basketball game I've seen in months.
as in, if I thought there was any chance (any chance at all) that a tournament game could be fixed, Siena-Ohio State would be my primary suspect.
for five of the last six minutes it looked like neither team wanted to win (though Ohio State, again with more talent, did a more convincing job of making stupid mistakes).
if there is a silver lining in this particular bracket cloud (see, I didn't have Louisville making the Final Four and now there's no team left that has even a remote chance of taking them out other than Michigan State or Kansas in the round of eight, and I don't believe that's going to happen) it's only that now I'm safe from having to watch Ohio State play again for at least another seven months.

and just to prove that something else hit the television set over the past 72 hours:
Changeling needed another editor.
not necessarily for length (though it felt long), but for scene balance (the tidy summation on behalf of "hope" at the end is but one of many examples).
characterization (or you can call it writing if you'd like) is also off. the good guys are good (really good) and the bad guys are, well, really, really bad.
John Malkovich was excellent as usual, but the child acting (and there were several child actors) was uneven at best, and I didn't see Angelina Jolie's acting as nomination worthy (though of course they do like to pick at least five finalists, and maybe there's a rule that automatically kicks in a nod if you appear in at least 95% of a film's scenes).
as in, you can lead a long and happy life (yeah, good luck with that) without giving up the two plus hours better spent watching basketball.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"I'm always in for Dick."

the without a doubt best line from the Lucille Ball-William Holden not-quite classic film Miss Grant Takes Richmond which played this afternoon on TCM.

(the line belongs not to Ms. Ball, but rather Janis Carter in the role of "other woman" Peggy Donato as she accepts a phone call from Mr. Richmond (Holden))

Friday, March 13, 2009


I've been waiting for the start of the NCAA Basketball Tournament since the end of the Carolina-Duke game last Sunday.
the conference tournaments are fine and all, but my team is a lock for a number one seed and I will neither live nor die (though I would live to see Auburn make it and I watched with interest as my alma mater turned in an extremely sloppy game against Western Kentucky in the conference (if you can call the Sun Belt a conference) championship, but really they shouldn't even have been there) because of bubble teams bursting.

and simply put, the three days of the year it doesn't suck to be unemployed or a freelancer (six of one, half dozen of the other) are the first two days of the NCAA Basketball Tournament (next Thursday and Friday beginning at noon Eastern) and Opening Day of baseball season.
it's like built-in hooky.
like you're getting away with something.

and so I tried not to stress too much that no one (not ESPN or any of the six or so regional Fox Sports channels I can get on cable thanks to an extra $3.95 a month) chose to show Depaul's first conference win of the year on Tuesday.

and I tried not to be disappointed that yesterday's games were so, well, awful (your honor, I enter into evidence St. John's 10-point first half at home in the Garden against Marquette).
you know it's a weak day for conference tournaments when Robert Morris' last second win is the runaway champ for game of the day.

but Thursday.
oh, man.
not that I sat around all day watching basketball.
oh, no.
I left the house for the first time in three days. took a lengthy nap (that was still not enough). and tuned into Jon Stewart's verbal spanking of Jim Cramer on the Daily Show (to be fair, Cramer was taking one for the team. his only possible rebuttal - "I'm not a journalist" - was not a place he could really go (though he came close) when he said he was "a commentator" who hosted "an entertaining program on business. instead he just reiterated that he couldn't have been in cahoots with these fat cat Wall Streeters (I'm using the lingo here) because so many of them lied to him.
and "I'm a victim, too" just really isn't going to work here.
it'll be interesting to see what position CNBC takes as a network when they go back to broadcasting tomorrow morning, because they can't just not mention Cramer's appearance and his many mea culpas and promises to do better.

but back to basketball.
Baylor beats Kansas and Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma (in Oklahoma City) so the top two seeds in the Big 12 are gone.
Georgia Tech took out Clemson in the ACC, but the real games were in the Big East.
West Virginia beat Pittsburgh (who I think have as good a shot as anyone to win it all) and the conclusion of Marquette-Villanova (despite 'Nova leading by 16 at the half) was a shocking classic as Marquette's Jerel McNeal fell asleep while watching the ball and allowed Dwayne Anderson to sneak behind him for a last-second layup win.

and that would've been enough for the day, but after the Daily Show ended I switched over to check out the last four or so minutes of Syracuse-UConn (neither of which are my favorite programs).
and the thing goes on for another hour or so.
six overtimes.
longest Big East game in history.
first six-overtime game in either program's history.
second longest NCAA Division I game ever.
almost 100 free throws.
nearly four hours to play (which is almost as long as I was in the Garden for Neil Young).
seven guys foul out.
they're playing walk-ons with less than 60 minutes of court time for the entire season.
and the walk-ons hold their own.
UConn slips the noose when, upon further review, Devendorf's three-point jumper at the end of regulation is still on his fingertips when the end game light comes on.
then Syracuse avoids death repeatedly through the first five overtimes.
the Orangemen never gain a lead until the sixth when they score the first 8 points. at which point UConn's remaining players deflated like Macy's ballons on Thanksgiving night. I mean, the air just went out.
but who can blame them.
Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn should win tournament MVP for just this one night. 34 points, 11 assists and 16 for 16 from the foul line, with most of those coming in the never-ending, hyper-intensive extra periods.

hell of a game.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

an iTunes landmark (personal)

so my spouse was attempting to download a Kindle application onto the iTouch that I won from the New York Times last year for having the most accurate bracket for the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship (yeah, go figure).
and due to an increasingly frustrating Internet connection (I blame Time Warner Cable), she forced to restart the computer after her purchase.
which somehow triggered a reload of R.E.M.'s "Living Well is the Best Revenge" from their Accelerate album.
reload, as in it's a duplicate.

don't rush me. I'm getting there.

long story long: this duplication of a previous purchase became the 49,000th "item" in our iTunes library.
which strikes even me as a bit excessive.

supposedly this catalog of 49,000 items (I do like that number, though) requires 239.56 GB of storage space on our computer.
and I believe it.
the burgeoning iTunes library, combined with more and more photographs, instigated our purchase of a newer, larger iMac back in October of 2007.
which is when we had to restart the iTunes play count since we transferred it from the old to a new computer.

if you began with the very first track, fellow native Alabamian A.A. Bondy's "Killed Myself When I Was Young" from his American Hearts album, and walked away to allow the computer to exhaust itself on its 49,000 item playlist it would take, according to the notation at the bottom of our iTunes window, 139.4 days to play every track at least once.

the item played most often since October 16, 2007 at 6:35 p.m. (EST)?
the National's "Brainy." surprising since I have never written a word (for pay anyway) on the National.

world without end.


Monday, March 9, 2009

U2 Way Week is over.

as is Jimmy Fallon's first week as late night host.

I celebrated with my first Islanders game at Nassau Coliseum (a cozy little bandbox where, while in line for some truly disgusting barbecue, a fellow patron said, Dude, you look just like "James Hetfield of Metallica." despite my relative lack of size and comparatively smooth skin, I decided to accept his observation as a compliment) and a good bit of televised basketball:
Carolina wins over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, Dook on Sunday, Pitt beats UConn on Saturday (though I didn't see all of it), Alabama beats Tennessee on a last second, banked-in prayer Sunday afternoon (I saw none of it), Cornell won the Ivy title by defeating Princeton in Ithaca on Friday night (students rushed the court and "demolished" the scorekeeper's computer (rowdy Ivies)) and South Alabama reached the Sun Belt quarterfinals by holding on against Troy Sunday night (those last two weren't even on cable).
but after two impressive wins over Ole Miss on Friday and Tennessee on Saturday, Auburn's women's team lost the conference title to Vanderbilt Sunday evening, which will probably cost them a #1 seed in the tournament.

watched two weekend movies (Ghost Town: as expected and Iron Man: better than expected) in hopes that Saint Netflix will deliver Synecdoche, New York and Milk no later than mid-week.

and I'm reading five books concurrently (I'll keep the titles to myself for now), which makes the likelihood of finishing any of them remote indeed. not least because I'm spending all of my not-quite-awake hours in all-night writing sessions (though the beginning of Daylight Savings Time will greatly decrease my chances of ever seeing a sunrise again) in attempt to get this Tusk book finished before month's end.

you know where to find me.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

U2 just finished night one

of Letterman, and then their album, No Line on the Horizon, went onsale at Amazon.
I think it triggered at 1 rather than midnight.
in any case, right now it's just $3.99 for the MP3 download, and I imagine that'll continue all day today.

a bit overwhelmed by the multitude of U2 release publicity is the newest by Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (Neko got her own Times magazine write-up a couple weeks ago).

totally overwhelmed by all of the U2 release publicity and some of the Neko Case release publicity is Written in Chalk by Buddy & Julie Miller, also out today.
their first official album-length collaboration (of the eponymous variety) was voted Album of the Year by No Depression for 2001.

for those who may be unaware, Buddy, who played guitar throughout the entire Robert Plant/Alison Krauss run (including the Grammys), suffered a heart attack following the Three Girls and Their Buddy show in Baltimore about a week and a half ago and is now a recent recipient of a Johns Hopkins triple bypass.
we hope he feels better soon.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"let's not get into one of those turgid categorical imperative arguments"

as Lindsey, Mick, Stevie and John begin to wind down from opening night of Fleetwood Mac's Unleashed tour, approximately 375 miles east the snow is really coming down. and the hard stuff isn't due for a few more hours (supposedly we're working towards a foot).

so perhaps this weekend's mini-movie marathon (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frozen River, Superbad and The French Connection) should've been put on hold for another 24 hours.

it's very possible that I may have to stop watching Woody Allen movies as I don't even enjoy the well-reviewed ones anymore.
while VCB certainly wasn't as bad as Celebrity (is anything as bad as Celebrity?), I still don't understand why anyone casts Scarlett Johansson and my puzzlement increases exponentially when a director re-casts her (maybe it was a package deal).

and, of course, when Woody's writing is bad, it's pretty much off the charts bad.
my worst Woody dialogue vote for VCB:
"Let's not get into one of those turgid categorical imperative arguments."

I mean, seriously. I live in New York, attended an MFA program in Creative Writing for more years than I care to admit and have conversed with at least my share, if not more, of academic elitists but I've still never met ANYONE who talks like that.
(thank God)

unless the rumor that Bono is a direct descendant of the Wicked Witch (and therefore overly sensitive to any form of precipitation) is true, then expect U2 to repeatedly announce their presence in the city over the coming week. the Times has already run their big feature, and the band will appear on the Letterman show every night for five nights straight (a Letterman first), followed by Good Morning America and a "surprise" performance at Times has already run their Fordham University on Friday morning.

their new album, No Line on the Horizon, drops tomorrow, but is not receiving the greatest advance reviews. so you might want to consider plunking down a lesser amount ($5 through Thursday night) on the frontrunner (after two months) for album of the year: the much-ballyhooed Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective.

don't forget your galoshes.