Blog Day 2007

31 08 2007

Blog Day 2007

In honor of Blog Day 2007, I recommend these five blogs:

1.) The Atheocracy — I’ve just started reading this blog written by Jeffrey W. Haws, an “an irreverent journalist, atheist, political junkie, golfer, outdoors lover, sports fan, beer drinker and movie/music snob, along with many other things.” Yup, The Atheocracy is as spunky as that sounds. Plus, I’m a fan of anyone who thinks Big Thoughts™ about sports, beer, and non-theism. This recent post, which compares coming out as an atheist with coming out as gay, will give you a sense of the blog.

2.) A Delicate Boy — Nels of A Delicate Boy is a gay 30-something rhetoric professor in Connecticut. He blogs about writing, teaching, gay issues, HIV, and, well, life. At the top of the blog right now is a post on Sen. Craig, but—like so much of what Nels writes—it’s a little bit different (and interestingly so) from anything you’re likely to read elsewhere. Whether he’s writing about a city that reminds him of the partner he lost to AIDS, going on an “Artist Date” with himself in Houston, or just mentioning some strange new website he encountered, Nels grabs and keeps my attention.

3.) Little Nuances — Although you surely know me better as a Philadelphia Phillies fan, I still keep up with the Kansas City Royals, the team of my youth. Royal Reflections, a blog by sportswriter Lee Warren, helps me do that. Recently, I realized that Warren also writes Little Nuances, a blog which is, I suppose, about the little things that make life interesting. That may sound a little too precious, but it’s actually pretty interesting. And any blogger who knows who Gilles Muller is has to be good.

4.) Razzi’s Photolog — Razzi is a Belgian photographer. He doesn’t post all that often. When he does, though, the results are memorable. Some of my favorites: “Mies en plis,” “37,2 degrees le matin,” “Grandma’s living room” (NSFW?), and “Women on the run.”

5.) Tennis Served Fresh — As you know, I’m a big fan of tennis. If you are, too, you’ll love this blog, which has a special interest in tennis fashion. With the U.S. Open currently underway, there’s a lot of tennis fashion, including a fashion disaster or two, to consider.





Philadelphia Phillies 3, New York Mets 2

30 08 2007

Mowed Grass
I’m a day late in posting this, because I was just downright exhausted when I got home last night, but I was at the stadium for yesterday’s narrow, exciting win over the Mets. The game ended controversially, with an interference call giving the Phillies their final out and preventing a Mets pinch runner from scoring the tying run from third base.

At the ballpark, I was puzzled. From Section 302, it wasn’t even clear to me that the second base umpire had called interference on Marlon Anderson, the Mets runner. And, of course, there were no TV announcers making everything clear with words and instant replay angles. Plus, from the perspective I had, Anderson’s slide didn’t look all that unusual. On the replays (there’s one accessible on the page I linked above), you can see the case for an interference call, although—in all honesty—it’s probably a call I wouldn’t have made. After all, even if Anderson hadn’t slid toward second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, there just wasn’t a double play to be had on a good throw by Iguchi to first.

I confess that I was also distracted during the play. Sometime during the ninth inning, a fight broke out in my section. It seemed like nothing at first, and then there were a few punches, and then, suddenly, there were a dozen-plus ushers/security guards separating two different groups of angry, drunken jerks. I went to the game with a buddy from work, and neither of us saw the fight coming. Sure, there’s always some tension at the park when the Mets are in town (for one thing, there are always a lot of Mets fans in the park). But there just hadn’t been any particular taunting going back in forth in our section. Some of these guys were getting arrested, I’m sure.

(For all those Philly haters out there, I want to stress that the ballpark isn’t usually like that. Sure, fights break out at Eagles games, but Phillies games are usually not like that. When the Mets are in town, though, the park just feels different.)

By the way, the Phils beat the Mets again today, 11-10, in a crazy game. That’s a four-game sweep of the Mets. Maybe the heat’s getting to me, but I think the Phillies may actually just make a legitimate run for the playoffs this September. Wow.





Wiki Wednesday #22

29 08 2007

1.) Go to Wikipedia.
2.) Click on “Random article.”
3.) Report on the outcome.

Morning Glory cloud

The Morning Glory cloud is a rare meteorological phenomena observed in Northern Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria. A Morning Glory cloud is a roll cloud that can be up to 1000 kilometers long, 1 to 2 kilometers high, and can move at speeds up to 40 kilometers per hour. The morning glory is often accompanied by sudden wind squalls, intense low-level wind shear, a rapid increase in the vertical displacement of air parcels, and a sharp pressure jump at the surface. In the front of the cloud, there is strong vertical motion that transports air up through the cloud and creates the rolling appearance, while the air in the middle and rear of the cloud becomes turbulent and sinks. The cloud can also be described as a Solitary wave or a Soliton, which is a wave that has a single crest and moves without changing speed or shape.

Now, if you’re like me, that definition left you curious—but without any idea what this thing actually is. Or looks like. I found the entry for “roll cloud” to be helpful:

Roll cloud

A roll cloud is a low, horizontal tube-shaped arcus cloud associated with a thunderstorm gust front, or sometimes a cold front. Roll clouds can also be a sign of possible microburst activity.

Roll clouds are relatively rare; they differ from shelf clouds by being completely detached from the thunderstorm base or other cloud features. Roll clouds usually appear to be “rolling” about a horizontal axis.

Wikipedia offers a very cool picture of a roll cloud, too, although it’s one from Wisconsin, not Australia. Here and here are some of the best pictures I could find of the actual Australian Morning Glory. Wow! Apparently, people can hang glide in (on?) the Morning Glory. That sounds both totally interesting as well as absolutely terrifying.

According to the Wikipedia entry, “similar” Morning Glory-type formations have been reported elsewhere. This page describes a Morning Glory that formed near Nova Scotia in 2003.

Have I ever mentioned that my childhood ambition was to be a meteorologist. I wonder if I would’ve actually enjoyed that as a profession….





A Magic Moment on Saving Grace

27 08 2007

Holly Hunter
Despite the somewhat middling reviews, I’ve really fallen for TNT’s Saving Grace. The exquisite Holly Hunnter stars as Grace Hanadarko, a hard-drinking, hard-living Oklahoma City homicide detective who has to contend with a redneck guardian angel named Earl. I had some doubts about the Joan of Arcadia-meets-um-My Name Is Earl plot, but I’m really sold on the show. It’s not a religious show, at all, but it’s asking some big questions about how we ought to live our lives.

Plus, the show is set in Oklahoma. Some Oklahomans don’t care for the sex, booze, and rock’n’roll in Grace’s life, but not all of us Okies spend our Wednesday nights at Bible study, you know? Anyway, Hunter is as watchable as ever. And if you like handsome men, I’d happily recommend Kenny Johnson, who stars as Grace’s police partner/lover Ham Dewey. Or, for that matter, Bailey Chase, who stars as Butch Ada, a fellow detective. Meow. (Many of the characters, by the way, have names that evoke actual Oklahoma towns.)

But none of that, really, was supposed to be the subject of this post. I wanted to write about some of the music on Grace. The tasty theme music is performed by Everlast, who is one of my favorites. And each episode features eclectic music. Last week’s episode, “Would You Want Me to Tell You,” closed with an incredible cover of “This Magic Moment” by Lou Reed. You can, and should, listen to it here (link via Classic Rock FM). Since I watched that episode, I haven’t been able—or wanted—to get the song out of my head.

Holly Hunter, good plots, Oklahoma, handsome men, cool music… All that’s why I’m watching Saving Grace every Monday night on TNT.





Melody Day

26 08 2007

I haven’t had much going on this week, and, consequently, I haven’t blogged much. I need to do something, though, to get the neurons firing. I’ll work on that.

Meanwhile, I am really enjoying (should it scare me that I almost typed “digging”?) Caribou’s album Andorra, just released this week. I’m not normally all that into electronica, but the opening single, “Melody Day,” is just, um, creamy and delicious. Check out the video:

Sweet, huh?





This Is England

23 08 2007

This Is England
This Is England
takes the viewer back to 1983, to Thatcherite Britain, and to a remote corner of England marked by pessimism and unemployment. We see this world from the point of view of a newly fatherless 12-year-old boy, Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), who—just in time—is adopted by a lovable band of teenage skinheads. The group becomes a surrogate family for Shaun, and his future seems brighter.

Into this world comes a darker force, Combo (Stephen Graham), an older skinhead who returns from a prison stint and introduces Shaun’s band to a nasty brand of racist nationalism. (As you undoubtedly know, a wave of racism did overtake British skinheads in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before and after that time, skinhead culture was not synonymous with neo-fascist politics.) Combo’s actions split the group, and Shaun falls into orbit around Combo.

The divisiveness introduced by Combo is the central conflict of This Is England, of course. I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will say that director Shane Meadows’s story is absorbing. You can’t help but be on Shaun’s side, and you can’t help but be drawn to the band of skinheads that takes him in. Moreover, to the film’s credit, even Combo is not a caricature. He may be evil, or at least do some evil things, but This Is England makes certain to show us how he became the man he is.

The acting in This Is England is first-rate. In his first role(!), Turgoose comes across as a polished professional. Graham brings an almost scary charisma to Combo. And Joe Gilgun (Woody), Andrew Ellis (Gadget), Andrew Shim (Milky), and Vicky McClure (Lol), among others, give notable performances as members of the band of skinheads.

Best of all, there’s some real substance to This Is England. When I left the theater, I was thinking about the relationship between militarism (either of the Thatcherite or the non-Thatcherite variety), nationalism, and racism. I was really moved by This Is England, and I bet you will be, too.

I give This Is England three or three-and-a-half stars.

P.S. If, like me, you were a teenager in the early 1980s, you will absolutely be drawn to the music used in This Is England. Dexys Midnight Runners, anyone?





Wiki Wednesday #21

22 08 2007

1.) Go to Wikipedia.
2.) Click on “Random article.”
3.) Report on the outcome.

Lizzie Compton

Lizzie Compton (born c.1847) was a woman who disguised herself as man in order to fight for the Union in the American Civil War. She enlisted at the age of 14, and served in seven different regiments until she was seriously wounded two years later in the Battle of Tebbs Bend in 1863. She was from London, Ontario.

As you probably know (if you’re from the USA, anyway), and as this article details, many women served in the military in the Civil War. This was done on the sly, but isn’t it cool what at least some women were doing by the 1860s? This kind of evidence, as well as the suffrage movement that was burgeoning in the 19th century, suggest that we should’ve achieved more egalitarian gender roles long before the women’s civil rights movement of the late 20th century. Something got in the way, though, and I tend to blame the ridiculous Victorian social ethic that took root in the late 19th century.

In fact—and, gosh, I’m really digressing now—this reminds me of another one of my pet theories/observations: So much of what we regard as “traditional” really isn’t. Instead, it’s merely traceable to a particular point in time, the late 19th century. Whether we’re talking about gender roles or what the national pastime is or good table manners, it turns out that what we view as the “traditional” or “correct” answer is merely what happened to be in vogue at a particular point in time. I think that point in time was so key, culturally, because the Industrial Revolution was occurring at the same time, causing new social structures to align with particular bits of cultural debris.

I could probably go on and on about this, but I won’t! Relieved?