The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Ah, it's that sweet time of year again. No, I'm not talking about the holidays. I'm talking about the time of year when magazines publish their Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation--as required by law. I particularly enjoy learning how many copies of a magazine went unmailed in the most recent run due to spoilage and the like (link via evhead).
I have to get myself to Europe sooner or later. Even French vending machines are cool, apparently.

Friday, November 29, 2002

Face transplants? They're apparently feasible now. Why is that so disturbing to me?
I've meant to write some kind words about M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, which I read earlier in the week. What a delight! When I began the book, which is the first in a well-established series of cozy mysteries, I wondered how I was going to get through a story with such a disagreeable protagonist. At the outset, Ms. Raisin is a selfish bulldozer and, well, she's not so much different at the end. Along the way, though, as she moves from business life in London to her early retirement in the Cotswolds, Ms. Raisin seems less irredeemable. (Yes, Beaton deploys some rural-urban stereotypes in the softening of Ms. Raisin, but there's nothing obnoxious about the transformation.) The novel is smartly-plotted and full of quirky characters. Best of all, Quiche of Death took me to another world. A good cozy should do that.

The highest praise I can give Quiche of Death is this: Although the book could easily be finished in an evening or two, I kept putting off the last 30-or-so pages. I just didn't want it to end.

I've decided to read on into the Agatha Raisin series, and I'm also going to try Beaton's even more highly-regarded Hamish Macbeth series.

I'm bushed. I really needed today off from work to recover from yesterday's feast. There was too much to be done, though. I think I somehow feel worse tonight because most of my friends had the day off. I know working on Thanskgiving Friday is probably a fair trade-off for the random federal holidays I get--Columbus Day, anyone?--but can't I still be a little bit jealous of everyone enjoying four-day weekends? I can? Thanks.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

That would be a bit disturbing. This blogger once found a collection of Soldier of Fortune magazines on his regular running route. Wisely, I think, he changed his route.
Happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite holiday. There's good food, sports aplenty on TV, and no gift-buying. It could only be better this year if I were in Oklahoma about to have my mom's dressing. Yum.

My flatmate is an excellent cook, though, and we're well on our way to having a feast. On the menu: turkey, apple-cider stuffing, sweet potato casserole, asparagus, peas (yes, they're nasty, but I won't be having any), and pumpkin pie.

UPDATE: The dog, a middle-aged puppy, just enjoyed her Thanksgiving feast of giblets and gravy. Ewwww.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Does anybody even still watch Law and Order? Oh, I guess that's not the point. Anyway, Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft takes on L&O producer Dick Wolf, who told a reporter that he didn't have much regard for criminal defense lawyers because their job entails "getting guilty people off." I guess next season's L&O won't have Sam Waterston defending white-collar criminals in his post-prosecutorial career.

And, hey, that seems to be the real Dick Wolf who left a comment to the TalkLeft post. The comment says that TalkLeft does a "grave disservice . . . to Law Enforcement." Round 3, anyone?

Smooch. Will Dennis Quaid's on-screen kiss with Jonathan Walker in Far from Heaven lead to an Oscar nomination, career problems, or both? This article in today's Globe and Mail asks whether same-sex kisses are still dangerous for actors.
Can't we all just get along? Not in Blogistan, apparently. The politics of permanent linking is the culprit this time (link via InstaPundit via The Volokh Conspiracy).
Behind the scenes at Trading Spaces: Andy Dehnart of Reality Blurred went there, and he writes about it in a long piece published by Salon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I'm baffled and amused. Baffled by the people in this Wall Street Journal article who are troubled that their TiVo knows them too well. And amused by those whose TiVo has mistook them for someone else. My TiVo unit only tapes reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show or shows about interior design these days. (What does that say about me?) It seems to have forgotten how dear game shows, especially the Game Show Network's Match Game reruns, are to me. Bummer.

The WSJ article also has a good discussion of's use of personalization technologies.

Today's sports sociology in the news: Jerry M. Lewis of Kent State University talked with the New York Times about the riot that occurred on Saturday after the Ohio State-Michigan football game. I think I may have met Professor Lewis more than a decade ago at a North Central Sociological Association conference. And, no, I have no idea why I mentioned that.

When I get burned out on the lawyering--and, as my references earlier this evening to the impending mid-life crisis suggest, that day may be here all too soon--I'll go back to school and study collective behavior, one of Professor Lewis's specialties. Sporting events must be one of the best places in modern American society to study crowd behavior. Does anybody have a dissertation topic involving fan behavior for me?

President Bush today commuted the death sentence of the first female turkey to participate in the White House Turkey Witness Protection Program. [Insert your own inevitable joke here.]
Today I stumbled onto this most interesting blog written by an American physicist living in Denmark. The photography is amazing; nearly every picture screams out, somehow or other, all things Danish. When I was a kid I dreamed of growing up and going off to live in places just like Denmark. Philadelphia just doesn't seem to qualify.

REALIZATION: Hey! I bet this entry is another symptom of my incipient mid-life crisis. Send therapy.

Gosh, I feel old. The Red Sox have hired the youngest general manager in baseball history. He's 28. I'm nearly a decade older than a baseball GM! How depressing. What have I done with my life? Is it too soon for a mid-life crisis?

Monday, November 25, 2002

It's D-I-Y heaven, I tell you. Changing Rooms, the BBC juggernaut that combines reality TV and interior design, meets up with its U.S. clone, Trading Spaces, this weekend (link via Reality Blurred). Gen and Hildi, two of the Trading Spaces designers, travel to London and team up with Handy Andy Kane--the charming carpenter who keeps the Changing Rooms crowd in check--in an episode that airs this Saturday on TLC. One highlight: Handy Andy tells Hildi that her design is awful. As frequent viewers of Trading Spaces know, Hildi has definitely botched her share of bedrooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.

Trading Spaces is, of course, huge right now. If you get BBC America, though, you owe it to yourself to check out Changing Rooms on a regular basis. It's fresher, funnier, and faster-paced than Spaces. If you don't get BBC America, you can at least get a taste of Changing Rooms in a Thanksgiving Day marathon on TLC.
On my nightstand now is Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, the first in M.C. Beaton's venerable Agatha Raisin series of mystery novels. It's past my bedtime now, so I'm off for a few minutes with Ms. Raisin.
I owe the blog a review of Out on a Limb, the new Claire Malloy mystery novel by Joan Hess. I can only qualifiedly recommend it. As I mentioned here a few days ago, I think Hess is terribly funny; I enjoy both her Claire Malloy and her Maggody series. And I've thought the Maggody series remained essentially fresh throughout each of the many adventures of its protagonist, Arly Hanks. The citizens of Maggody seem like old friends, and Hess's wry observations about life in the Ozarks haven't failed to amuse me.

Unfortunately, I've thought the last couple of installments in the Claire Malloy series were a bit tired. I certainly enjoy spending time again with Claire, her daughter Caron, and the other characters. But I miss the laugh-out-loud moments that made the series my favorite. In Out on a Limb, Hess seems more interested in advancing what is really a run-of-the-mill plot than in exploring the life-as-screwball-comedy ethos that characterized the series at the start. Furthermore, I can only wonder what a new reader would make of life in Farberville, the Fayetteville, Ark.-replica where Claire lives. Hess drops names and snippets of plot lines from prior iterations of the series, but she never adequately explains them. A new reader might well be mystified by chunks of Out on a Limb. I'd still recommend the series, but I'd stress that a new reader should start at the beginning and enjoy the best of Claire Malloy first.

I think one way to jump-start the series would be to let a little time advance. Caron has only aged one or two years, it seems, in the 14 novels. In the next Claire Malloy novel, I'd like to see Caron head off to college--or, at least, start sending out those college applications. And Claire should finally dump her grumpy paramour Peter. That relationship has been tense and going nowhere for far too many books. A character as bright as Claire would do something, anything, if her life got so stale. Hess should know that.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

What would Jesus drive (part two)? While watching a news program today, I caught the commercial that's a part of this advocacy campaign. That spurred me to check out the website, which contains beaucoup information and a link to the commercial itself. As much as I'm annoyed by SUVs, and I often am, I still find the whole campaign to be more than a little surreal. It's apparently sponsored by an evangelical-environmental ministry. Who even knew there was such a thing? Is it just me, or does life feel more and more like a Saturday Night Live skit all the time?
I enjoyed a slow Sunday, reading the paper and watching some TV. One highlight from today's Philadelphia Inquirer: In Berlin, a popular new restaurant requires patrons to eat in darkness. I'd have to have quite a bit of confidence in the chef to be simpatico with that. What was that crunchy thing, anyway?

Probably my favorite story from today's paper: Inquirer writer Daniel Rubin describes a luxurious haircut he received in Amman, Jordan. I'm due for a haircut, and I'd like to schedule an appointment. Because I don't think Supercuts will ever offer foot massages....

Thursday, November 21, 2002

They looked like hell for two periods, but the Flyers managed to eke out a 2-2 tie with the San Jose Sharks tonight. And, hey, I was there!

Strangely enough, the biggest hand of the evening went to Atlanta Braves pitcher and free agent Tom Glavine, who's in town being wooed by the Phillies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

What would Jesus drive? Thanks for asking, "coalition of religious and environmental groups." Yes, definitely not an SUV. Maybe a 1973 canary yellow AMC Gremlin? How about a bicycle or mass transit? Maybe He'd just walk. There's a radical concept for you. I bet Buddha would tag along.
Tonight on ABC's The Bachelor, viewers will learn whether Aaron chooses Helene or Brooke. As much as I love reality TV, and I do, I've never given The Bachelor a first (or second) look. I hadn't even felt like I was missing out until I read this piece in today's Washington Post describing the show as "the ickiest commentary on modern relationships since 'Temptation Island'." Zowie. I probably could've used a good reminder just how bad TV can be. Will someone let me know how it all turns out?

Incredibly enough, CBS is running The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show against The Bachelor. Tonight will be remembered as the zenith of the Golden Age of TV, I guess.

For the record, I'll be watching NBC's Ed and The West Wing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Ungoogleables? collision detection has been asking what to call persons whose names don't show up in a Google search. I like the ungoogleables, one of the early favorites. The discussion continues here.
Territory folks should stick together: In Imperial Beach, California, bow fishermen and surfers are at odds (free registration required). Why does that remind me of the farmer and the cowman? And while you're visiting the New York Times, well, yes, haggis is back. Yummy, huh?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Will Tiger Woods boycott next year's Masters? The New York Times hopes so (free registration may be required).

UPDATE: Woods wasn't persuaded.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt closed out the year today with a gutsy five-set victory over Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero in the Tennis Masters Cup. As he did last year, Hewitt finished the year as the world's top-ranked player. Thanks to my TiVo, I saw a big chunk of this match, which was aired live on ESPN2 in the middle of the night from Shanghai. Ferrero came on strong in the third set and made a real match of it. It was fun, but I don't think the prospect of more Hewitt-Ferrero matches is what men's tennis needs right now to capture the world's attention. The women's game has a lot more personality.
I'm enjoying Season Four of HBO's The Sopranos. Like Kim at Fresh Hell and the Inquirer's TV critic Jonathan Storm, I'm appreciating the humor and the focus on relationships. Another Inquirer writer, though, misses the gangster activity. Hmm. If you get hooked on a show centered, largely, around the psychoanalysis of a mob boss, shouldn't you expect (and accept) that the drama will often be in the character development?

UPDATE: Here's another commentary suggesting that The Sopranos has lost its way.
The Philadelphia Orchestra needs a new principal percussionist, and--as you might imagine--top positions in that line of work don't open up all that often. Today's Philadelphia Inquirer has a fascinating, front-page feature on the orchestra's search. This sidebar describes just a few of the many instruments that the right candidate will have mastered.

When I lived in New Orleans, I frequently attended Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra performances. Like many good concert-goers, I guess, I was often struck by all of the activity in the percussion section. I sort of wish my day job required me, at least some of the time, to hustle from the xylophone to the triangles and back again. I wonder what the lawyerly equivalent of the percussionist would be....

Friday, November 15, 2002

I have nothing to say / and I am saying it. The avant-garde composer John Cage said it first, but it's a good motto for me tonight.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The most interesting piece I read today was this Washington Post feature on Senator Footnote, Minnesota's Dean Barkley, who will serve out the remaining few weeks of the late Paul Wellstone's term. Barkley gets his 15 minutes of fame and 15 minutes of power, too. Does that seem fair? I guess I'm just jealous....
Today's sports pages are full of off-the-field news. Former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight is suing the institution for breach of contract. The head of the National Council of Women's Organizations promises protests at next year's Masters tournament. And a defensive coordinator for the University of Miami (Ohio) was arrested Tuesday night after an apparent altercation with an opposing team's fan.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

I'm off to curl up with Out on a Limb, the new comic mystery novel by Joan Hess. Hess is best known for her Maggody series, about a nutty little town in the Arkansas Ozarks. But I prefer her Claire Malloy series, which features widowed bookstore owner Claire Malloy and her perpetually-teenaged daughter Caron. Out on a Limb is the 14th book in the series, which has been a gem from the start. I can't think of any current writer who's as witty and irreverent as Hess.
A coroner has concluded that the fatal degenerative brain disease of a former English soccer forward was related to his repeated heading of the ball, according to this AP report. The forward was a proficient header in the days when the ball was leather.
I stayed up past my bedtime last night to watch Kim Clijsters defeat Serena Williams, 7-5, 6-3, in the season-ending WTA Championships in Los Angeles. As a result, I've been in a sleep-deprived, semi-comatose state for much of the day. It seems like I'll never get used to living on Eastern time. You're expected to get to work at the same time as everyone else, but--if you go to sleep when you should--you miss out on a big chunk of the fun. We can't have that, can we?

Clijsters's win was pretty shocking, coming in straight sets after Serena had dominated for most of the year. If Clijsters is in the mix, next year's women's tour ought to be even more fun than than this year's was.

In related news, former French Open and U.S. Open titleist Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario announced her retirement today.

Monday, November 11, 2002

It's a beautiful, unseasonably warm afternoon in the Philadelphia area. As an added bonus, I have the day off for the federal holiday. I have the windows open and a cool drink in hand. A quiet, lazy Monday is a sweet, sweet thing.
I spent some of yesterday afternoon at the annual craft show put on by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I snagged a beautiful persimmon box built by wood turner Ray Jones, who works out of Asheville, North Carolina. His work in various kinds of wood is exquisite. (I wonder if there's anyone in my life who needs a wood box for the holidays.) Jones was offering some gorgeous boxes made out of exotic South African and South American woods, but I could relate best to the down-home persimmon.

I'm a big fan of craft shows. My two favorites are the Art Museum's show and the Smithsonian Craft Show, which will next be held April 24-27, 2003. The shows are projects of the institutions' "women's committees." The idea of a women's committee strikes me as a bit, well, 1955. I wonder if there are any men on these committees today.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Hey, this is the first entry in my blog. You may be wondering who I am; I wonder that, too, sometimes. My name is Jimmy Frazier, and I'm an attorney for a federal appellate court in Philadelphia. I was born in 1966 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where--oddly enough--I grew up. I studied history and sociology at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. In 1990, I earned a master's degree in sociology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. There, my major emphasis was the sociology of sport (yes, really). I bailed on academia a couple of years later, and--like everyone else in the United States without direction in life--I ended up in law school. I earned a J.D. in 1996 from Tulane Law School in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities. At Tulane, I completed a special course of study in sports law (again: yes, really). In my six years as a staff attorney at two federal appeals courts, though, I haven't put my knowledge of sports law to much use (amazing, I know). For reasons related to my job, I won't be able to dwell too much here on legal-type things. But maybe I can use some of that expensive book-learnin' about sports in the blog. For the record, my other "professional" interests include constitutional law, criminal law, and federal appellate practice. You're yawning now, aren't you?

What else can I tell you? I love music. I own so many CDs that a mover once asked my father, to his great enjoyment, if I was a DJ. I wish. I'm a big fan of roots music of many different varieties--from bluegrass to alternative country to folk to world music. In fact, I enjoy wallowing in pop culture in general. I love my TiVo and its ability to keep me in touch with 150 cable channels. Actually, it's pretty incredible that I even have time to groom myself or go grocery shopping or have the oil changed in my car. But I do (so far).

Ok, that's the rough sketch of me. You'll figure out other stuff from the blog, I'm sure. If I ever think of anything to say....


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