"His voice betrayed a craving for terrible things." -- Don DeLillo

"Shadows present, foreshadowing deeper shadows to come." -- Herman Melville

Send all adoration/vitriol to marc@shadowbloom.com

The Beginning -- 2004 Updates -- Part One

January 27, 2004

Holy Fucking Shit, my web site is back from the dead! After an embarassingly long gap of time, my site has risen from the scattered ashes of the Penn SAS server and has found itself resurrected on Comcast. Halleluiah! My unstoppable procrastination has kept this from happening much earlier, but I do have some excuses. After all, in the eight months that have passed since we last spoke, I have graduated college, moved twice, and found and started a job here in lovely Philadelphia. I think that gives me something of a excuse for not updating this in pretty much forever. I was also hoping to maybe debut the site again with a nice cosmetic update, but, honestly, I kinda like how it looks right now. And since I spent a decent amount of time bringing it to this point, I figure I'll let it stay like this for the time being. Of course, I'm sure that means I'll feel the urge for a redesign at some point soon. Anyway, with the site up and running again and with more free time to write than I had last Spring, we should start seeing regular updates at last. Though if you don't believe me at all, I wouldn't blame you since I don't even necessarily believe myself. How many times have I promised updates now? Yeah, I know I suck. Well, updates will start flowing soon, so keep checking back to see what ramblings and bullshit I've got up my sleeve. Much more to come.

February 4, 2004

Back again with a few more updates. Some notes on Super Bowl ads and those annoying Linux ads playing right now. Check 'em out in the Journal. Enjoy!

February 6, 2004

I'm finally getting on a roll here with the updates, so check out the Journal for a few more random entries. Coming next week is the start of my Best of 2003 series. You're allowed to be excited.

February 12, 2004

The first part of my Best of 2003 series is finally online and can be found in the Journal. More will added to it over the next week.

February 24, 2004

Finally added more to the Best of 2003 Awards. Will still be adding more later this week. Also, "President" Bush came out today in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages. Oh, I definitely have a comment on that. My seething, overwhelming hatred for our despicable "leader" only grows daily. Will write more soon.

February 27, 2004

As promised, my comments on Bush's gay marriage amendment and also on his sex education policies can be found in the Journal. Coming soon, the last group of Best of 2003 Award Winners. Also, the Oscars are Sunday (woohoo!), so check in next week for my post-show comments.

Song of the Moment: "I Am Hated" by Slipknot.
Oooh yeah, that Slipknot concert is only a little over a month away.

March 2, 2004

All right, lots of updates today! In the Journal, a depressingly long piece on last night's finale of Average Joe 2. In the Movies section, a quick wrap-up of Sunday's Oscars and then my running diary from the show. Lots of fun. That's it for now, but I'll hopefully be back either later this week or early next.

Song of the Moment: "Shiver" by Maroon 5.
This song owns me. Maroon 5 MUST make this a single at some point because I want it on the radio. Catchy and cool.

March 12, 2004

Just a quick update before the weekend. Wish I could have added more this week, but I'm hoping for bigger updates soon. Check out the journal for some thoughts on Bush and the War on Indecency and a quick note on the last couple weeks of reality TV.

March 16, 2004

Added my TV picks to the Best of 2003 series. Also wrote a quick note in the Journal about Celebrity Mole: Hawaii, which is repeating on GSN starting tonight and I highly recommend everyone watch. For you reality TV whores, you can get your fill of American Idol from 8-10 and then pop over to Mole from 10-11. You know you want it.

April 1, 2004

This update should have been added a week and half ago, but work's been busy lately and I haven't had the chance. At last, though, I'm adding my Best of Film 2003 Top Ten List. This should finally be the last addition into my Best of 2003 series. Appropriate since, well, it's April now. Should be a good month for updates, though. Baseball season is just about underway now meaning hours upon hours of my life are going to be sucked into my undying devotion of the Phillies as well as my beloved fantasy teams. I'm hoping to add a baseball update soon. Also, next Thursday will see the start of the Philadelphia Film Festival, one of my favorite times of year. I saw 11 movies during the Festival last year (check out reviews of all 11 here) and this year I'm aiming for 25 or more. I'll post reviews as the Festival progresses. So, Happy April Fool's Day everyone and I'll be back soon.

Song of the Moment: "She Wants to Move" by N.E.R.D.
I've only been lukewarm on N.E.R.D. before, but this song is far too infectious to ignore. Impossible not to move when you hear it. Awesome bass line.

April 9, 2004

With the baseball season only about a week old now, I've posted in the Journal my predictions for the season. Phillies all the way!! The Philadelphia Film Festival swings into full gear today and I will start posting my reviews soon. Lots and lots of movies to see, lots of reviews to write, lots of joy to spread to everyone's hearts. Can you feel the love?

Song of the Moment: "Maps" by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
This song's been my nonstop soundtrack for the past few days. Simple guitar/drums/vocals rock that I've just wanted to listen to over and over again.

April 14, 2004

I'm exhausted. I'm working full time and any time I'm not at work, I'm seeing movies. Then, as if I weren't busy enough, last night I went to a very aggressive Slipknot concert at the Electric Factory (and I've got a fun story from that one, but it'll have to wait until next week probably). Not that I'm complaining at all because the Film Festival has been great so far, but I'm only now getting my first batch of reviews up. Many more to come in the next week or so, just keep checking back. Also coming eventually are a new Bush tirade and a quick baseball update (yes, I know how badly the Phillies are playing now, but yes, they will certainly improve a great deal once the offense kicks in--if Thome and Burrell haven't even hit their first home runs yet, the season is very, very young).

May 5, 2004

Yeah, yeah, I know. The film festival has been over for a couple weeks now and I still don't have all the reviews up. Most of them are ready, but at this point I'm just going to put them all up at once. Hopefully soon. I'm finishing up a somewhat busy period at work and I have many more updates planned. Just some media whore notes: my love for Canadian rocker Matthew Good is well-documented on this site and his new album, White Light Rock & Roll Review (due out in June), is probably my most anticipated album of the year. Check out Matt's official site for streams of two new songs. Great stuff. Also, everyone should go out right now and buy David Cross' new comedy CD, It's Not Funny. His 2002 CD, Shut Up You Fucking Baby!, is one of the funniest pieces of standup I've ever heard (and I do consider myself somewhat of a connoisseur of standup comedy), and his followup is arguably even better. For reality-TV fans addicted to The Mole, GSN is currently running the original Mole (non-celebrity). It started last week and airs weekly on Tuesday nights, but you can catch the second episode again on Sunday and be caught up enough to keep watching next Tuesday. Hmmm, what else? The Phillies are hitting homeruns by the dozen, but that's about the only way they're scoring runs. They're plugging away, though, and haven't lost consecutive games in a few weeks now. They can bring their record up to .500 finally with a win this afternoon. Disney is blocking Miramax from distributing Michael Moore's followup to Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11. Moore's camp claims that Disney is refusing to release the film because its anti-Bush tone could upset the generous tax breaks Jeb Bush is granting Disney in Florida. Are you surprised? Nah, me neither.

Song of the Moment: "Alert Status Red" by Matthew Good.
Currently streaming off of his official site, it's the first single off his new album. Nice, stripped down four-piece rock.

May 18, 2004

Finally, finally, all of my reviews from this year's Philadelphia Film Festival are ready for your reading pleasure. Apologies for taking so long, but I blame an unexpectedly intense regime of general laziness and procrastination mixed in with a busy period at work and any other excuses that don't sound too feeble. With this off my shoulders, I promise more Journal updates soon, including my fun Slipknot concert story. June is going to be a busy month of new music releases (off the top of my head, let's see: Matthew Good, PJ Harvey, Breaking Benjamin, Baby), so I should have something to say about those. For now, enjoy the movie reviews and I'll be back soon.

May 24, 2004

As promised, a long-awaited update to my Journal, including my story from April's Slipknot concert, some quick notes on some of the winners from this year's Cannes Film Festival, and some sheer randomness. Also, check out the archives for anything I've posted in the last few months that you might have missed.

Song of the Moment: "So Cold" by Breaking Benjamin.
Breaking Benjamin are awesome. Anyone who's a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Matt Good, and anyone else of that ilk owe it to themselves to check them out. Their first album is wire-to-wire great and their second is coming out at the end of June. Can't wait. This is their first single from the new release and is currently being streamed at www.breakingbenjamin.com.

June 14, 2004

I was originally planning on posting later this week finally, but a few things unexpectedly popped up today that I needed to write about in the Journal section. Posted are a note on the late, great actor Brandon Lee, a heads-up on a movie that I will be playing close attention to starting today, and a rambling about the Olsen Twins. Have fun!

Song of the Moment: "The Blister Exists" by Slipknot.
Slipknot's new album "Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses" is out and it is awesome. Early favorite for Album of the Year. They've expanded their sonic repertoire (Slipknot acoustic?? Fuck yeah, Slipknot acoustic!) and turned in their most accomplished album yet. "Blister" holds the coveted track two position on the album and takes no prisoners. A raging guitar line, punishing drums of death, and a rock-solid chorus. If your ears are the least bit attuned to aggro-speed-metal, check this out immediately.

July 13, 2004

Behind in updates, but more should be coming soon.

Mark this down...it's 8:41pm and the MLB All-Star game hasn't even started yet, but something surprisingly memorable has already happened. I optimistically predict the downfall of President Bush this November and it's signs like this that help me feel more confident. Millions of people across the U.S. (especially the South) and I'm guessing across many military bases in Iraq are watching right now after Muhammad Ali threw out the first pitch. Ali, an otherworldly sports legend who is suffering extensively with Parkinson's disease, was inspiring and profoundly saddening. Though I'm not naive enough to think it's an issue that has much exposure in the average household, stem cell research lurks under the surface at times like now. Bush, I'm sure, expected only a positive boost from Reagan's death in June, but couldn't keep stem cell research from gaining a little more attention. And in a few weeks, Reagan's son will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, continuing to make sure that stem cell research and the abhorrible lack of funding it's receiving from the current administration (thanks to Bush's need to pander to his pro-life Christian conservative base) doesn't completely fall off the radar before November. It all helps keep me optimistic. Trying not to sound too melodramatic, but I think the upcoming election might be one of the most important in the history of the country. Optimism in the face of this is well-appreciated.

On another note, Fantasia, the newest American Idol, sang the National Anthem. I watched Idol for the first time this season (and got really tired of it by the end), but was happy to see Fantasia, the only finalist with any smidge of individuality, win it all. Her emotional, exhausting performance was a nice reminder of why she was always my favorite.

Song of the Moment: "Giddyup" and "Free Los Angeles" by Baby.
Craig Wedren is a musical genius (see: Shudder to Think) with a voice in my personal top-five of all singers and Baby is his new disco-deathpop band featuring three singers (Craig and two sultry women), a delirious amount of computer production, and some of the quickest, catchiest songs around. Check out the samples on Baby's official site or Craig's site. The 11-song album is 32 minutes of great pop fun.

July 19, 2004

Advertising Lullaby #39
It can't just be me...does anyone else think that Six Flags Theme Parks' new "mascot," the spastically-dancing-crazy-geriatric Mr. Six (yes, that is his official name), is about the most fucking creepy thing on TV right now (and that's saying something considering "Who Wants to Marry My Dad" is on tonight). The Chicago Tribune has even written about an ongoing debate over whether he's really an old man or a guy in a mask. Let me put it this way: if that really is an old guy flailing about like a deranged seven-year-old on ecstasy in a candy store, then he should screw the Six Flags endorsements and start shilling his own brand of Centrum Energy Pills. I'd pay good money for a bottle of whatever BALCO-produced drug he's on. But since he "doesn't speak" (according to his spokesman at Six Flags) and since his face never changes its manic expression whether he's on the Venga Bus or soaring down a roller coaster, I think this one can safely be filed under "Boy, the American people are gullible."

Another advertising note...it was kinda cute at first, but Wendy's new official "unofficial spokesman," Mr. Wendy, is starting to overstay his welcome. I mean, couldn't Wendy's at least put a few other ads on the air that don't feature him so it's a little more clever to have this "unofficial guy" popping up as well? But when every single new Wendy's ad starts with "Mr. Wendy, unofficial spokesman, here," it just means that another idea has been ground into dust by Madison Avenue. This probably shouldn't bother me as much as it does.


Star Chamber of Cloud Cuckoo Land
If there were a channel that consisted entirely of VH1's "I Love the..." shows 24/7, I would watch that channel an average of 30 minutes a day for the rest of my life. And you think I'm kidding.

Speaking of...I was watching "I Love the 90's" a few nights ago and Liz Phair was presenting the "Dirty Alternative Rockers" of 1996 (and I felt proud of my CD collection when I realized that I had CDs for almost all of the dirty rockers for the entire decade). Popping up on the screen was Billy Corgan, whom she introduced as "Billy Corgan...dirty, chubby alternative rocker." I think it shows the level of life-altering, unwavering obsession I had with Billy and the Smashing Pumpkins during the 90's (and hell, to this day) that I, alone in my living room, gasped and yelled "What!?" out loud. I'm still offended. Yeah, he gained a little weight during the Mellon Collie days (thanks to a decrease in the amount of heroin and LSD in his system), but when you're looking for one extra word to sum him up, "chubby" ain't it (hell, why not go for "cueball" instead). I don't think I can discuss this rationally. Let's just move on.


Digital Narcosis
Video game heads-up: I just finished Beyond Good and Evil (on GameCube, but it's available on all three systems) and highly recommend it to all gamers out there. A Zelda-influenced adventure from acclaimed designer Michel Ancel (creator of the Rayman series), it features a surprisingly mature and cinematic story-line (the entire game is presented in letterbox), a perfect mix of fast-paced action and puzzle-based exploration, and more than its share of "Holy Shit!" moments (e.g. after completing an extended section of Prince of Persia-esque quiet infiltration, you suddenly are trapped and need to run for your life while leaping across the rooftops of the city with scores of enemies in pursuit). Ubisoft deserves a great deal of credit for putting this and Persia on shelves last winter, but Beyond went sadly unnoticed by the majority of gamers. Ubisoft was forced to slash the price to $20 near the start of the year and you won't find many better bargains out there for a cutting-edge action/adventure game.

Song of the Moment: "Frail and Bedazzled" by the Smashing Pumpkins.
Billy Corgan has b-sided more great rock songs than most bands will ever write and this one comes from 1994's collection of Siamese Dream and Gish outtakes, Pisces Iscariot. "She don't know / That I have / Stole my smile / From a Cheshire Cat."

July 20, 2004

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
Some quick and fearless baseball predictions for the second half of the season:

Johan Santana will make a serious run at the AL Cy Young. After a slow start to the season, Santana has been downright nasty over the past month--probably the best pitcher in baseball. Since June 9, when he turned things around with a 10 strikeout performance against the Mets, he has (through eight starts) a 1.43 ERA, a 0.60 WHIP, and 84 strikeouts in 63 innings. Absolutely filthy. He's singlehandedly carrying my fantasy pitching squad and shows no signs of stopping.

Jim Thome will hit 50 home runs easily, has a good shot at 55, and even a chance at 60 if he dials it up to 11 for the end of the season.

The Phillies will fight off the Braves, Mets, and Marlins to win the NL East. Kevin Millwood has been awful in the first half, but regression to the mean says he isn't this bad. He had a few shutouts at this point last year and has none so far this year. They're coming. That combined with an uptick from Brett Myers (who also isn't as bad as his stats would imply) and the return of the underrated Vicente Padilla in August will give the Phils enough oomph to pull ahead. The Braves won't keep up their recent torrid pace. The Mets are the Mets. And the Marlins haven't been able to pull everything together yet. It's still the Phillies' year (at least it damn well better be).


Star Chamber of Cloud Cuckoo Land
Can I just say, I'm thoroughly enjoying the Ken Jennings Dynasty on Jeopardy. Yesterday marked his 34th win, bringing his total winnings up to $1,135,460. Watching him kick into overdrive near the end to make sure he has over twice the score of the second place player before Final Jeopardy has to be seen to be believed. Great TV.

Here's my random thought of the day...this is a good one. Don't you think that cigarette companies should be investing HUGE amounts of money into lung cancer research? Hell, they should have their own cancer research labs. I mean, I know they're spending plenty of money on health misinformation and youth marketing, but wow, don't you think cigarette profits would skyrocket to unreal levels if they could find a way to stave off lung cancer? This just makes too much sense.

Song of the Moment: "Nothing's Working" by Error.
Incredibly violent drill and bass from a new project by Atticus Ross (currently working with Trent Reznor on the interminably delayed new NIN record), his brother Leopold Ross, Brett Gurewitz (of Bad Religion), and Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist Gregg Puciato. There's always a time and place... Download here. Enjoy!

July 22, 2004

"The man who invented the future"
A fantastic, must-read interview with Alan Moore in Salon today. Moore is the writer behind the revolutionary graphic novels (yes, that means comic books) Watchmen, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and V for Vendetta, among many others. His densely intellectual, devoutly researched, and complex work can easily stand among the best of all 20th century writers and prove that comics ain't just for the kiddies. This interview covers a lot of ground, from the Bush family ("These are dynasties; they carry out the will of the family, which is old, avaricious, power-mad, arrogant. Generation after generation, they see that the family's will is done.") and Ronald Reagan ("This was the architect of much of the world's present misery.") to the religious right ("...they are standing in the way of history, trying to turn everything, politically and spiritually, back to a medieval vision of the world.") Near the end he ruminates on the impact of a information-centric cultural boiling point on our society's future ("...it will happen sooner than we expect, and the difference between us and the kind of people that will exist after such an event will be vastly different than the difference between us and the hunter-gatherer society we've evolved from.") Fascinating stuff. You need a Salon subscription to read the interview, but you can get a day-pass for free just by watching a short commercial. Well worth your time.


Open Wide for Some Baseball!
Johan Santana is my new Lord and Savior. He brings me nothing but joy. Today he pitched his ninth straight excellent game, going seven innings of one-run ball with ten strikeouts. How good has Santana been? Consider that as recently as June 3 (right before I added him to my fantasy team), his ERA stood at a shaky 5.50 and, after today's start, it's now sitting at a nice 3.44 and should just keep on dropping. My fantasy keeper league team and I humbly thank you, Johan.


Advertising Lullaby #52
Why do these advertising things bother me as much as they do? On the train today, there were multiple ads for Gillette. You know the ones: a shot of a guy sitting at his desk being uncomfortably squashed by the large guy sitting at the desk right behind him...a guy in his pajamas with four-o'clock shadow staring dazed at the bathroom mirror. In large bold print, "Aren't Mondays Rough Enough Already?" The predominant message? Work sucks...make it easier on yourself by switching your razors every week. There's actually a paragraph of verbiage about how "tests have shown" that "even the very best" razors start becoming dull after "just a week" of usage. So "go ahead, change your blades, make your week go a little smoother" (haha, I get it!) The underlying message of these ads? "Hey listen, Gillette makes fucking nothing off of selling the actual shaving devices...hell, we send them out for free a lot of the time. You know where the money is? That's right, the stunningly expensive BLADES for all these devices. And we're not making quite as much money as we should be...you know why? Because YOU are not changing your blades as often as you SHOULD be. Yeah, yeah, we know that the blades often work fine after a week and usually even a couple more--FUCK YOU--you're going to be selfish about switching your blades and I don't get to send my kids to private school. Greedy motherfucker. C'mon, get in your car, go buy more blades right now, and switch those bad boys as soon as you get home. In fact, I'd switch them TWICE a week. Make your weekend go a little smoother too. Ha, get it?! Won't a smoother shave help you forget how much your hate your piddling job and your boring life? Just hand us your money and go back to being an unquestioning consumer whore. You son of a bitch."

Whoa...sorry, I don't know where that came from. It's like I blacked out there for a minute or something...let's move on.

So, Gillette just released their new razor, the Gillette M3 Power. It has a fucking battery inside it and vibrates when you shave. Being a design engineer for one of these razor companies must be awesome. For a while, it was all about how many blades you could cram into the handle--the Mach3 raised the bar for razors with a relentless advertising campaign and those three blades for your closest shave yet. Schick fought back with the Quattro featuring, gasp, four blades. Don't you think there had to be a bloodbath in Schick headquarters when they first heard of the M3 Power? "WHAT!?! A battery-powered razor?? How is this possible?? How did we miss this?? Heads will roll, I decree!"


Hollywood Bullshit #5673
According to IMDB's Movie & TV News for today...

Britney Spears' parents can sleep at last tonight...Britney's lawyers are drawing up a pre-nup for her impending marriage to dancer Kevin Federline. Britney refused to sign one before, claiming her marriage would be based on "true love" so she didn't need to worry about them breaking up. Riiiiight...meanwhile, Federline's ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson just gave birth to their second child on Wednesday. I don't even know if Vegas would take odds on this one lasting. Let's see...they're due to marry in late-November, which gives them plenty of time to get divorced so Britney can have another quickie Vegas wedding to celebrate New Years! I imagine Britney is far too oblivious to realize it, but her (and her parents) just dodged a considerable financial bullet here.

Britney's really free-falling from grace at this point, isn't she? Probably the most unfortunate part of her signing a pre-nup is that, by holding on to her money a little longer, it'll likely only postpone her inevitable Playboy "please pay attention to me again!" pictorial...followed up by her "scandalous" turn in a b-movie "erotic thriller." No problem...I'm patient.

July 29, 2004

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
I know I gleefully predicted the Phillies would win the NL East just a few days ago, but man are they playing some awful baseball right now. I'm not writing them out, but they had a chance to basically shove the Marlins out of the race and give themselves some momentum for the rest of the current road trip and instead they've lost four in a row to the hated fish, allowed them to leap right back into the race, assuring a three-team showdown for the rest of the season, and have deflated so much that the players and management are already snipping at each other, each trying to pass the buck. Bad news. And all eyes are now on GM Ed Wade to make a move before the Saturday trade deadline, despite Wade's past reluctance to seek a big splash in mid-season. With the odds quickly stacking against them, I'm still giving the Phils the benefit of the doubt right now. I think Wade will add one or two relief pitchers to help the injured bullpen this week and possibly might reel in Kenny Lofton from the Yankees to play center field (in a trade that the Yankees would very likely exploit to get prospects to funnel to Arizona for Randy Johnson). The Phillies just need to keep their heads above water during this road trip, going at least .500. Vicente Padilla, I think, is the wild card. Assuming he doesn't have another setback (God, please no), he's due to return on August 12. Immediately, the Phillies starting rotation gets a major boost and the bullpen even does as well since Paul Abbott (not good enough to be starting, but certainly good enough to hold down middle or long relief) would become another reliever. Today's the kind of day Padilla would have feasted on: Phillies losing steam, about to be swept yet again by Florida, a big game is crucial. Padilla's stepped up at times like this before. Instead, his rotation replacement, Abbott, gets utterly violated by the Marlins to the tune of eight runs in three innings (en route to a brutal 10-1 loss). Ouch. The offense has been struggling mightily with runners in scoring position, but I think that they will come around once they get out of Florida and start to relax a little more. The Braves and Marlins will fight until the end, but neither seems as dominating as they were last year. The Phillies have a winning streak in them...it's just a matter of getting it out before the season ends.

If the Phillies do continue to fall apart, though, and miss the postseason once again, I think it'll be a coaching bloodbath. I'm a fan of Larry Bowa, but this is his last chance with this team. His high-strung energy really rubs some players the wrong way and a more laid-back, relaxed clubhouse presence would be a nice, welcome switch (special assistant Charlie Manuel, a close friend of Jim Thome, is a clear favorite to replace Bowa). Joe Kerrigan has also not made many friends as pitching coach and could follow Bowa out the door. Philly papers this week tossed out current broadcaster Larry Andersen as a replacement and, actually, I think he'd be great in the job. I wish the Phillies could play well without needing to uproot the staff, but if they fall short of their lofty expectations again this year, you can't fire all the players, but you can fire the coaches. We'll just have to wait and see...

On another note, I know I've talked too much about my devotion to Johan Santana, so I'm going to let Fanball take the reins today:

"Santana has allowed only 14 hits over 46 innings in July. Feel free to read that again. He also owns a 1.17 ERA and 61 strikeouts in the month. If we include June, Johan is 7-3 with a 1.72 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 107 strikeouts, and 35 hits allowed over his last 11 starts (83.2 innings). We don't have the words to describe those numbers."

Neither do I. "Domination" comes to mind, though. This Sunday will be Santana's biggest test, however, as he goes against the Red Sox offensive machine. Definitely a game to watch.


The State of the Union
My friend Arianna was in town a few weeks ago. She was visiting the US from Europe, where she lives in Switzerland and goes to college in London. What does it say about the state of our country that, while we were walking around, she turned to me and asked (in all seriousness), "Are all Americans afraid of carbs?" God, I love this country...


"Oh, I'll kill myself if Portugal doesn't win!"
Some quick love to one of the best moments in Simpsons history: the beginning of "The Cartridge Family." I was looking for a name for my baseball ramblings when this suddenly jumped into mind. I can rattle it off by heart. Download and listen for yourself. Utter brilliance.


Hollywood Bullshit #3485
Now, I've never been one of those people who are absolutely in love with Catherine Zeta-Jones, but I certainly don't dislike her. She's holds her own in The Terminal, not to mention Chicago and Traffic, and has crafted a solid career for herself. In true Hollywood diva fashion, though, she (according to IMDB celeb news, which, if you're a celeb whore and don't read everyday, you're missing out) fired her long-time William Morris agent because she was not satisfied with the roles being offered to her. She saw the scripts Nicole Kidman was getting (and the awards she was winning) and wanted a piece of the action also. Hell, she reportedly is vying for the role of Welsh murderess Ruth Ellis because now she wants to ride the wake of Charlize Theron's Oscar-winning turn in Monster. Just a thought, Catherine, but maybe, just maybe, part of the reason you're not getting these roles is that, when the casting directors think of Kidman and Theron, the first thing that pops into their head isn't one of them holding up a cell phone and saying "Get more." If you're going to endlessly shill cell phones in ubiquitous ads playing across the whole country, then maybe you're not going to be handed all of the serious, Academy-worthy roles. Just a thought...


"electronic cheap narcotics are just stoking the disease"
Been hooked on the Error EP lately. Good, aggressive industrial technometal is always worthy of attention. I can't hate any song that has a verse and chorus like this (from "nothing's working"):

 carnal bondage, bacchanalian knowledge, fetishistic anomalies
 let's just fuck our brains out my love and you can fake what you can't achieve
 nothing's working nothing's working nothing's working are you listening to me

Look at that first line and tell me you don't want to listen to this song. And you can download it for free from Epitaph Records' web site. How can you pass this up? And then there's the chorus to "jack the ripper:"

 I don't really give a fucking shit anymore
 fifty little pentagrams is just a beginning
 hey hey pretty things can't you say who I really am?
 I'm that slick black cat in the bright just city

Like I said before, there's always a time and place...

Song of the Moment: "Bones in my Teeth" by Chainsaw Kittens.
On an entirely different wavelength from Error is Chainsaw Kittens, a playfully flamboyant pop-rock band. The catchy "Bones" goes from bouncy verses to slick rock choruses ("I like the noise / But it scares the ghost away / And I like to smoke / But it wastes my day").

August 4, 2004

Star Chamber of Cloud Cuckoo Land
On August 20th, Singapore will host the BlackOPS: HackAttack Challenge 2004, which will determine the area's best computer hacker. They will "penetrate, exploit, gain access and obtain privileged information from the other teams' servers, for the purpose of corporate espionage." The winner receives a letter of congratulations from the government and a bullet to the back of the head, execution-style.

Open Wide for Some Baseball!
The trade deadline passed on Saturday afternoon, so you know I've got to jump in here with my thoughts. My beloved Phillies shored up their ailing bullpen by acquiring Felix Rodriguez and Todd Jones. Not exactly a large splash (no center fielder or starter), but better than last year's trade deadline gathering of bullpen castoffs (thanks for those few months of over-5 ERA last summer, Mike Williams...don't let the door hit you on your way out). Honestly, I think General Manager Ed Wade did a decent job considering how weak the free agent market was this summer. I don't think the team needs a major insurge of talent--it just needs to perform better with the talent they already have! If Marlon Byrd, who just returned from the minors to hold down center field for the rest of the season, can at least approach his numbers from the end of last year (when he batted over .300), then center is covered. If Padilla returns as scheduled in another week and has his nasty stuff working, then the rotation hole is covered. And if Billy Wagner and Ryan Madson can come off the DL in a few weeks without any setbacks, then the bullpen should be one of the strongest in the league after these new additions. Some big "if"s there, but the season is certainly salvagable at this point. I think their biggest mistake at the deadline was not dealing second baseman Placido Polanco. I think Polanco's a fine player who has served the Phillies well, but it was time to let him go. The reason is simple: Chase Utley should be starting every single day. Every day. He'll be the Phil's second baseman for years to come and the future is now. Wade should have just tried to get anything he could for Polanco (I really wanted the Phil's/A's Polanco for Rincon trade to happen) and consider it an upgrade no matter what because it puts Utley's formidable bat in the lineup every day. Bat him second in front of Abreu and Thome or fifth between Thome and Burrell and you've got a dangerous lineup that pitchers will not want to face. It's a shame that I'm hoping for a slight injury to Polanco just so Utley can get into the lineup.

In other trades...baseball writers have been taking a collective shit on Dodgers' GM Paul DePodesta for his blockbuster trade with the Marlins over the weekend, but I give him a great deal of credit for making a gutsy trade that I think will pan out much differently than most people expect. Everyone can point to Paul Lo Duca being the "heart and soul" of the Dodgers team, but how much do those "intangibles" really impact a team's chances for a World Series title? My guess: not a whole hell of a lot. The Marlins have been missing that "heart and soul" after letting Pudge Rodriguez leave in the offseason and did a good job replacing that with Lo Duca, but when his offense starts slipping in the final weeks (as it has the past few years), they'll start to think about just how much they had to give up to get him. LA gets Brad Penny from Florida and I think he's the key to the deal. Yes, LA gave up their top setup man, Guillermo Mota, but one of the Moneyball lessons that sabermetrically-inclined DePodesta certainly knows is that it's surprisingly easy to create a strong bullpen when you have a good farm system and can make a few clever trades. It's much harder to find power pitching that can drive a team through October. Penny automatically becomes the ace in the LA rotation and makes them a much more dangerous team come October. Florida gave a powerful boost to their bullpen and their catcher slot, but at the cost of one of the most dominating pitchers in their rotation. If Beckett takes longer to return to form than expected, Florida will flounder and gradually slide out of contention. So, yes, a risky trade for LA, perhaps, but I respect DePodesta for it and will be watching LA closely down the stretch.

I don't know what the hell the Mets thought they were doing. Tossing away their top two prospects for two starters with shaky track records in a bid to compete in a division that they're already way too far behind in. When Scott Kazmir becomes an ace for Tampa Bay and Zambrano puts someone in the hospital after accidentally smashing him in the face with an errant fastball, the Mets management will have no one to blame but themselves.

The Nomar Trade will become one of those "Where Were You When You Heard It?" moments in Boston, but it had to be done. Too much animosity had built up over the past year for anyone to think Nomar's relationship with the Red Sox could be salvaged. Boston is taking a good approach by trying to shore up its defense for the playoffs. The number of unearned runs they've given up this year is staggering. I would lose my mind rooting for them every day (and this coming from someone who devotes his love to the Losingest Franchise in Sports History (not seeing that one in any Phillies media guides, are you?)). Nice upgrade for the Cubs, but doesn't Nomar have to be wondering how he had the luck to go from one cursed franchise to another. All I'm waiting for now is a black cat to run on the field in front of him while he's at bat one day, causing him to go insane and kill everyone around him.

You want me to stop talking about my Lord and Savior Johan Santana, but no, I won't. Johan the Great had his most formidable challenge yet on Sunday: the Red Sox with Pedro on the mound. His line?

8.0 ip, 2 h, 2 er, 1 bb, 12 k...and the win.

I don't understand how people can keep saying Mark Mulder is the front-runner for the AL Cy Young award. It's like they haven't looked at the stats at all. Yes, Mulder is a fantastic pitcher with a great win-loss record (15-3), but his numbers wilt next to Santana's. ERA? Mulder: 3.50. Santana: 3.30. WHIP? Mulder: 1.22. Santana: 0.98. BAA? Mulder: .229. Santana: .191. Strikeouts? Mulder: 110. Santana: an AL-leading 173. Mulder does have five complete games to Santana's one, but Minnesota's manager is justifiably reluctant to overwork Santana's arm before the end of the season (he is approaching his career high in innings pitched after all). Try this on: Mulder has two games all season where he gave up three or less hits. Santana? Including the game against Boston, he has seven in a motherfucking row. And eight total for the season. Jaw-dropping. Furthermore, if Santana had received even three runs of support from Minnesota in two games last month (brutal 0-2 and 1-2 losses), his record would be a gaudy 12-4, much more comparable to Mulder's than his current 10-6. Yes, Mulder is having another great year, but Santana is the most dangerous pitcher in baseball right now and, if this continues as it has for over two months now, there's no way that anyone could justify not rewarding him for it.

NEXT: The Beginning -- 2004 Updates -- Part Two

PREVIOUS: The Beginning -- 2003 Updates

The Beginning Archive

2006 Part Two
2006 Part One
2004 Part Two
2004 Part One