The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Why doesn't the supermarket charge a separate stocking fee or bagging fee? Introspection's Andy Dehnart may have given the Piggly Wiggly a few ideas.
It must be a little disconcerting when your first-year civil procedure professor is blogging about you, by name, weeks before your first class. Welcome to law school, Mr. Claybourn.
The new issue of Sociology of Sport Online looks fairly interesting....

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Yes, more sumo: Asashoryu and Kyokushuzan, his Mongolian nemesis, have finally made nice-nice. Isn't that sweet?
If I win the lottery tonight, I want a house fit for Dwell Magazine, ok? Update: I'll have to stick to watching Changing Rooms reruns on BBC America.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Speaking of sumo, photographer Kurt Easterwood has put together a stunning exhibit of pictures taken at the most recent basho. Start here with the first image, and be sure to click through all of the pictures. And if you like what you see, more photographs are available beginning here.
Sumo's Mongolian yokozuna Asashoryu has once again courted controversy in Japan after he was seen in public with a ponytail instead of the traditional chonmage, or topknot. Gasp! (Or something.) It's hard for a non-Japanese person to get riled up about something like this, huh? Update: Here's a picture of the offending ponytail.
I was going to write some more about Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, but Richard Goldstein beat me to it. What he said. All of it.
Gwyneth Paltrow, the members of Coldplay, Jimmy Carter, and Steve Young are just some of the notables who've visited Google's headquarters recently. You've got to love a place where the lobby is decorated with "a few hundred" lava lamps.

Monday, July 28, 2003

601am recently looked at "the gayification of the guido" (link via little.yellow.different.). (Yes, everyone is talking about "the guido" these days. See here and here, for instance.) The post is funny (and thought-provoking?), but take a close look at the strange, often hilarious comments, too.I'm speechless. Really.
Critic A.O. Scott wrote about Project Greenlight in yesterday's New York Times (link via Reality Blurred). Having read Scott's piece, though, I wonder if he has even been watching Greenlight on HBO. If he has, he hasn't been paying close attention.

Scott says that Greenlight's young directorial team—Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle—"have dumbfounded [producers] with their imperiousness." Now maybe the producers do view Rankin and Potelle as hard to bully, but I think it's Scott who has painted the young directors in the least flattering, and an entirely unjustified, light. E.g.,

At the end of the piece, Scott finally makes some observations that I can get behind. He's absolutely right that producer Chris Moore "acts as if it were his movie" and (at what appear to the viewer to be entirely random intervals) conducts affairs in passive-aggressive ways. For instance, in the last episode, Moore seemed to delight in backing up Beeney's mid-filming complaints about the directors' occasional unfaithfulness to her script. Yet in most movies, the scriptwriter would be a non-entity during filming. And, ironically, weeks before, Moore had been complaining to Rankin and Potelle about all the problems with Beeney's script. You begin to wonder if Moore isn't more interested in stirring things up (and in finding any ally who'll do at any given time) than he is in actually helping to produce a good movie. I thought the same thing during the first Project Greenlight (poor Pete Jones!), and I'm even more convinced now. Chris Moore is either a bad producer, or he sees his mission as stirring up enough trouble to make Greenlight more interesting viewing.
Yes, more Malawi. Jacob Levy of The Volokh Conspiracy is now back from Malawi, and he's raving about it. You could probably be the first person on your block to go.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Today's Associated Press story on the women's tennis final (between Kim Clijsters and Jennifer Capriati) at the Bank of the West Classic contained this ridiculous observation: The players wore matching red skirts, white caps and red-and-white shoes[.] Apparently, AP was shorthanded and had to time-transport in a sportswriter from 1940. Ugh.

Stadium designs that appeal to nostalgia are on the wane, according to critic Christopher Hawthorne (free New York Times registration may be required). So, instead of 10 more Oriole Parks, we may see more daring, modernist designs like the one Peter Eisenman did for the Arizona Cardinals. I hope Hawthorne's right. We need fewer public places that feel like rides at Disneyworld and more that challenge the way we experience space, time, and play.

Sadly, Philadelphia's new facility for the Phillies is going to be yet another Oriole Park-like nostalgia fest.

Do riders in the Tour de France have access to too much information during the race. Several experts quoted in today's New York Times think so.
How could you resist an animated Flash treatment of Tom Lehrer's song "The Elements" (link via Shattered Buddha)? I couldn't., which allows you to travel the world with 360-degree views, is celebrating French Week (link via A scene from New Orleans's French Quarter during Mardi Gras is featured (but, hey, it's probably not appropriate for work, ok?). (Update: I haven't been able to get the accompanying Mardi Gras music out of my head today.)

Saturday, July 26, 2003

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly contains Alanna Nash's review of Nashville Star Buddy Jewell's self-titled debut album. She gave it a B+. Hey, so did I! She liked the muscular rather than the treacly. Hey, so did I! And I didn't have to use the world "treacly."
JMBzine's cover photos—there's a new one now of a notable building in Pawhuska—always get me a little homesick for Oklahoma. Yes, yesterday, I was homesick for Louisiana; today, it's Oklahoma. I wonder what I'd miss about Philadelphia if I moved away....
In my continuing effort to bring you jockstrap news as it happens: Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden has promised to dance down a Tampa highway in his jockstrap if the Bucs repeat as Super Bowl champs (link via The Kitchen Cabinet). How could you root against that?
Lance Armstrong is poised to win his fifth consecutive Tour de France. Wow. And thanks to kit at PaperFrog for the excellent daily updates. Update: Armstrong is up for No. 6, too.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Ernie the Attorney was out and about in Slidell, Louisiana, last night, and he ended up hanging out at Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's house. Totally cool. Update (sort of): This story has me missing Louisiana.
Did the availability of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's writings in western Europe make him any less censored in the Soviet Union? If you say no, then you may disagree with the reasoning of Chicago Tribune editor Don Wycliff. Wycliff explained that the paper's decision not to run two panels of The Boondocks last week couldn't constitute censorship because some fans found the panels on the web.
It looks like the we're really going to see the reality series designed to find the first openly gay country music star. Several contenders have already been selected, and auditions are being held for more. I mentioned this project several months ago, and I'm still hot on the idea.
Modern Japanese society will essentially disappear if the country doesn't become more accepting of immigration, according to a population expert quoted by the New York Times. The Times's interesting "Can Japan Change" series this week also included articles addressing Japan's inability to cope with female workers and the growing sentiment for a more aggressive Japanese military.
Suzy Whaley missed the cut at the Greater Hartford Open, but she did finish only one stroke behind former U.S. Open champion Scott Simpson. (David Duval, whom she beat yesterday, withdrew from the tournament today.)

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I found today's New York Times article about Indonesian transvestites to be downright fascinating.
Suzy Whaley probably won't make the cut at this week's Greater Hartford Open, but she may well beat David Duval and Scott Simpson.
How did you celebrate Pine Tar Day today? Sadly, my Kansas City Royals didn't celebrate with a win.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

To the person who reached the Garden today while seeking a jockstrap suitable for dancing: Gosh, I'm sorry, I just don't have a clue. Thanks for shaking up the referrals list, though. And while I'm on the topic (of searches, not jockstraps): I'm still No. 1 when you're looking for a shirtless Handy Andy Kane. Hooray!
I don't know if it's all the Project Greenlight I've been watching, or if it's Joe's impending move, but I'm seriously jonesing for a trip to L.A.
Will Howard Bashman take Tyler Cowen up on this offer? Inquiring minds and all that, you know?
When Gambia's president suspended polygamy for three years, the people laughed. (Is it just me, or does that sound like the first sentence of a fairy tale for grown-ups?)
A blog called royals baseball, devoted to my beloved Kansas City Royals, has got to be good, right? Well, it is. Take, for instance, this post about the Royals' chances to win the AL Central this year. After doing some interesting statistical analysis, Harley—the blogmeister—decides there's reason to be optimistic. As you know, I agree.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Mets 7, Phillies 5. It may finally be too hot for daytime baseball in Philly. I'll remember today's game for the way the scent of hops mixed with the smell of 37,000 sweaty fans. Lovely. Oh, and for the way that Kevin Millwood pitched like hell.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Let me just say this. When you've worked way past your normal time and walked to the train station, there are no words a commuter fears more than these: passengers are advised to seek alternative means of transportation. Oof. I'm bushed. I'll get back to the blog tomorrow, ok?
The Yokozuna Deliberation Council, which I mentioned here a few days ago, has warned yokozuna Asashoryu about his conduct. The Council stressed that a yokozuna must act like a champion on and off the dohyo.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

If you're a lawyer or a law student, you know well that this is crunch time for those preparing to take bar exams around the country. All that intense studying, and those infernal practice tests, can make you a little bit nutty. (After you take a few dozen of those practice tests, the questions—or, really, the answers—actually start to make sense.) Seth at Larval Lawyer has really been capturing that state well lately. I've enjoyed, and related to, his daily updates detailing his (high) caffeine intake and (low) actual human contact. And this "bar exam analogy exercise" is downright brilliant, too (link via The Kitchen Cabinet, where Lily and Kate are also fighting the good fight).
I'd like to be following more closely the 2003 FINA World Championships, which are occurring now in Barcelona. FINA is the governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, and open-water swimming. I like a lot of those sports, but I haven't really found a good news source for the championships. What little news I've seen has involved Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe. I'm going to try to do better in the week ahead. It's the perfect time of year for chlorine-scented thoughts, you know?
Ferrari won at today's British Grand Prix, but it wasn't Michael Schumacher who stood on the podium afterwards. Instead, it was teammate Rubens Barrichello. Schumacher finished fourth, but that was enough for him to retain the lead in the season-long points race for the championship. With only five races left, it looks more and more like Schumacher may retain his title again. Still, Schumacher hasn't dominated, and it has been a much more interesting season than most would have predicted....
After both yokozunas left the tournament with injuries (one columnist said recently, though, that Asashoryu "collapsed mentally rather than physically" after he was called for pulling another wrestler's hair), it was up to two ozekis to fight today for the championship at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament. Kaio defeated Chiyotaikai in what turned out to be a thrilling championship bout. Chiyo surged ahead at the beginning of the match, pushing Kaio to the edge of the dohyo. Kaio suddenly managed to push back, however, and he did so with enough force that Chiyo was ultimately forced out at the other end of the ring.
You could easily kill a big chunk of time, as I did just now, exploring this database of 50 years of Sports Illustrated covers. My personal favorite is the April 25, 1960, cover showing shot putter Dallas Long. He's in position to begin, and even his tongue plays a part. If a picture of a shot putter can be adorable, this one surely is. (Long, by the way, held the world record for the shot put in the 1960s, and he won the gold medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics.)

It's hard to imagine a shot putter on the cover of today's SI, isn't it? This year, for instance, we've had 28 SI covers so far, and they've showcased the bread and butter of modern American sports—team sports (but no hockey!). The tally: football (one college, four professional), basketball (four college, seven professional), baseball (four professional). Golf and tennis each had one cover this year, too. The remaining six covers all related to SI features, and, yes, that includes the swimsuit issue. The only truly unexpected cover this year was the June 16 cover highlighting a story on a dangerous freedive.

Some of the early SI covers are truly fascinating—more for their subjects than for their design. Sadly, we probably won't see any new SI covers featuring bullfighting, water skiing, chess, or dachshunds (or how about a Bedlington terrier?).

Some of my other all-time favorite SI covers: Joe Namath, December 9, 1968; hammer thrower George Frenn, July 6, 1970; weightlifter Vasili Alexeyev, April 14, 1975; a young George Brett, June 21, 1976; Bill Walton, October 15, 1979; John McEnroe, July 11, 1983; the Ripken family, March 9, 1987 (and then there's underwater Cal, Jr., August 7, 1995); Martina Navratilova, July 16, 1990; Pete Sampras, July 11, 1994; Jerome Bettis, November 24, 1997; David Wells, July 10, 2000; and a Chaplinesque Tiger Woods, December 8, 2000.

And there's even a cover on the jinx of the SI cover.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Lance Armstrong seems to be in danger of losing the yellow jersey—oh, sorry, the maillot jaune—at the Tour de France. It's sure an exciting competition this year.
I'm sure I've never said anything like this before. After all, I grew up in Tornado Alley. But—after seeing the winning entries in this year's Lyceum Competition, which focused on "house[s] on wheels"—I almost want a mobile home. If mobile home parks actually looked anything like the winners envision them, they'd be the trendiest places to live. And if I had a mobile home, I could move whenever the wanderlust got to me.

Friday, July 18, 2003

There isn't much going on in my mind tonight. It was a rough work week. My rent is going up. My life seems dry. Even the dog acts like she's bored with me. Apparently, I need a long vacation.

The one place I really want to visit, and that I haven't yet visited, is Madrid. Sometimes, when I get in moods like the one I'm in now, I head over to MadridMan's Yankee Home Page and think about actually going. I've been visiting MadridMan's site for years, longer than I've been (regularly) visiting just about any other site. He lives in Columbus, Ohio (he loves those Buckeyes), and he's about my age. His interest in Madrid seems to be a big part of his identity. Naturally enough, he started a site that has gradually become downright comprehensive. There are links to Spanish radio and TV stations, photos from his several trips to Spain, message boards for those planning their own trips, links to Spanish news sources, and on and on and on.

MadridMan also has a webcam at his desk. I don't know why I find it so compelling, but I do. Tonight, for instance, as I write this, MadridMad is sitting at his desk, in what is now his familiar living room, working away. He's shirtless, as he often is, and he seems pretty content. I don't know what the webcam has to do, really, with providing information about Madrid, but it makes me feel like I know him just a little bit. Somehow, it makes him seem all the more trustworthy. And—on a night, like tonight, when the world seems a bit awry—it's comforting to know that MadridMan is there.

Should I plan a winter trip to Madrid?

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I love the so-called remaindered links—think of them as tiny blog posts—on the front page of Yesterday, remaindered links led me to this cool picture from Copenhagen (which, somehow or other, seems to portray some of my own worldview) and this strangely compelling GameSpot review of real life. Today, I learned about PVRblog, which I just plugged. So why are you here, anyway? Jason Kottke's leftovers are better than anything I've got....
Gay consumers are more likely to be early adopters of technology, according to new market research (link via PVRblog). And, while I'm thinking of it, PVRblog is yet another good idea—a blog about TiVo and digital (or personal) video recorders in general. Given how crazy I am about my TiVo, why didn't I think of that (said while giving myself a "Wow, I could've had a V-8" head slap)?
Things I won't miss about my ex-wife is a blog from the husband who didn't want the divorce. What a truly brilliant idea. Having to write about the ex's annoying traits has got to have some healthy psychological effects. I know a certain person in New Orleans who ought to be grateful that I didn't have this idea circa 1996.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

SI's John Donovan gives credit where credit is due. And credit is due (incredibly enough) my beloved Kansas City Royals. I can almost smell that American League pennant....
Sumo's Asashoryu and Kyokushuzan have made up. Kyokushuzan telephoned the yokozuna this morning, and the two agreed that the feud should end. I bet you're relieved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

If you hang out here every once in awhile, you probably know that I like country music. A lot. But know this, too: I'm not the kind of country music fan who likes Collin Raye or his brand of ballad-y, sentimental, up-with-people country music. (Yes, he's gorgeous, but that's not the point.) You know what I'm talking about, right? Songs like "One Boy, One Girl" and "I Think about You." And don't get me started on that song ("Little Rock") about the guy who's rebuilding his life and selling VCRs at the Wal-Mart, ok? Tears well up in my eyes every single time I hear that song on the radio, and I don't know whether I'm madder at Collin Raye for singing that schtick or at me for falling for it. Ewwww. I want to hear country music that would be at home in a honky tonk or that would've sounded right coming out of my Aunt Fay's radio circa 1973. My country comfort zone is somewhere on the Tammy Wynette-Gary Stewart axis. Collin Raye is several time zones away from that.

I say all that as a preface—ok, a very long preface—to my review of Nasvhille Star Buddy Jewell's self-titled debut album. You won't hear most of the album at a honky tonk. Jewell has a little bit of the Collin Raye in him, I'm afraid. And you're not surprised by that, either, if you've heard his first single ("Help Pour Out the Rain") on the radio. It's got a cute kid, a cute saying, and happy thoughts about the afterlife. It's not Budweiser-stained music, that's for sure. But, dang it, it's catchy, and I just can't say I don't like it. When I hear it on the radio or coming out of my CD player, I sing along.

I do think some of the weakest stuff on Buddy Jewell falls into that sappy, Collin Raye vein, though. Songs like "Why We Said Goodbye," "One Step at a Time," and the downright dreadful "O'Reilly Luck" epitomize the relentlessly sentimental sameness that characterizes contemporary country music and, especially, contemporary country radio. The lyrics take you where you expect to go, and there's nothing new or edgy at that destination. Yawn. A lesser offender in this category is probably "I Can Get By," a song written by Clint Black, who produced Jewell's album. "Get By" sounds just like it was written by Clint Black, and I'm not talking about the early Clint Black ("A Better Man," "You're Gonna Leave Me Again," "Killin' Time") either. I'm talking about the recent Clint Black, the Clint Black that sounds like it was produced at the Clint Black Factory. No, thanks. If I have that for dinner, I'll need to eat again in an hour.

Happily, though, the rest of Buddy Jewell is pretty darn good. "Sweet Southern Comfort" is so catchy—and, oddly, sweetly anthemic, if you can imagine it—that I can't help but forgive the fact that its lyrics belong on an Alabama album. It has to be a hit. Likewise, Jewell's flawless, smooth performance (not to mention his witty spoken intro) on "I Wanna Thank Everyone" saves the song from itself. And, hey, Jewell's remake (with Nashville Star alum Miranda Lambert) of the old Merle Haggard-Bonnie Owens duet "Today I Started Loving You Again" actually sounds like it ought to be playing on a honky tonk jukebox. Believe me, I won't complain about that.

Without question, the best song on the album is "Abilene on Her Mind," a song co-written by Jewell himself. I was immediately taken with the song when I heard it on Nashville Star, and I haven't changed my mind one bit since. I'll be shocked if this song doesn't propel Jewell to what passes for country music stardom these days. It's just about the perfect country song: There's a break-up, some wistfulness, and some appropriate geographical wordplay. It's the kind of song that Collin Raye would never sing. But you could sing along over your ice cold Bud, and I think you just might.

Buddy Jewell/Buddy Jewell: B+

The star of Boy Meets Boy, which I breathlessly awaited here, was a little miffed when he learned that some of his, um, suitors might be straight (link via Shattered Buddha). (Who could blame him?)
I'm wild about this database of baseball uniforms (link via Totally cool.

Monday, July 14, 2003

The new year will see a new Nashville Star, I'm pleased to learn (link via Reality Blurred). By the way, I've been listening to the new CD from the original Nashville Star, Buddy Jewell. I generally like it, and—as soon as I can find some time—I'll write something longer about it.
So much, well, craziness has happened in the sumo world this basho. As I mentioned most recently here, yokozuna Asashoryu shamed himself by being called for hair-pulling in his match against Kyokushuzan, his arch-nemesis. Then, Asashoryu apparently broke a side window on an automobile that Kyokushuzan was using. After that, relations between the two Mongolian rikishi deteriorated even further. On Sunday, after both lost matches, the two had to be physically separated in a changing area (by Kaio, I understand).

Things continued to be chaotic today. Asashoryu lost again, earning a very un-yokozuna-like fourth loss in only nine days. He promptly withdrew from the rest of the basho, citing a preexisting injury to his right elbow. Meanwhile, the Japan Sumo Association received a bomb threat as well as telephone calls threatening Asashoryu personally. Some fans at today's bouts also carried anti-Asashoryu signs.

Sumo is usually characterized by decorum—perhaps too much for an American fan like me. But I'm reeling from all the Sturm und Drang occurring now.

After Roger Federer's win at Wimbledon, who is the best current men's tennis player yet to win a Grand Slam? Andy Roddick, says SI's Jon Wertheim in his weekly column. It's hard to disagree with that. In fact, I have a hard time even thinking of someone to nominate as the second best player yet to win a Slam. Jiri Novak? Mark Philippoussis? Sebastien Grosjean? I don't know. I'm flummoxed.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Tyler Cowen of The Volokh Conspiracy today visited Dia: Beacon, the new art space for minimalist art that I mentioned several weeks ago. He seems to have enjoyed himself. I still hope to make the trip up to Beacon later this year.... Join me? Update: In response to reader email, Cowen defends minimalist and conceptual art. I thought it was interesting reading.
American Lance Armstrong is now wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. PaperFrog has all the details.
I wonder if my flatmate would be annoyed if I changed our Google interface language to Klingon. Or Pig Latin. Or Elmer Fudd. Or Hacker. Or Bork, bork, bork!

Probably so. He doesn't have much of a sense of humor sometimes.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Boris Becker was among those formally inducted today at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Becker, at 35, is the second youngest ever to be so honored. (Bjorn Borg was a mere 31 when he was inducted.) As you may recall, when this year's honorees were announced, there was some question why Stefan Edberg was overlooked. There can be no question, though, that Becker is a deserving honoree.

I'll certainly never forget Becker's first Wimbledon victory, which came in 1985 when he was an unseeded 17-year-old. Becker had actually caught my eye the year before, when he severely injured his ankle in the third round in a match against Bill Scanlon. (Becker was out for several months after that.) In 1985, he had to defeat several seeds, and many of the matches were epic battles. He needed five sets to defeat Sweden's Joakim Nystrom, the seventh seed, in the second round. He needed another five sets in the round of 16 against the USA's Tim Mayotte. Becker twisted his ankle during the third set of that match, but he persisted. Mayotte had two match points in a fourth-set tiebreaker, but Becker hung on. It was thrilling stuff. And it was during all this that Becker's philosophy about the fifth set—that it's really more about character and heart than tennis—was forged.

As a fan, I couldn't resist rooting for Becker. He rushed the net in a classic grass-court way, and he was truly passionate about winning. Tennis fans will always remember Becker diving sideways at the net on the Wimbledon grass, making incredible gets and then picking himself up again to go on. And, of course, in 1985, Becker was the underdog. (You know how I feel about underdogs, don't you?) Anyway, by the time that Becker got by Henri Leconte and Anders Jarryd to reach the final, there was a certain inevitability to his winning the title. His victory over another unexpected finalist, South Africa's Kevin Curren, was almost anticlimactic.

I was smitten with Becker, in any number of ways. He was smart, respectful of Wimbledon tradition, and gentle. He resisted the nickname "Boom Boom" because it struck him as too martial. Part of my zeal for Becker, maybe most of it, was that he was really the first player of my generation to make it. (I'm a year older than Becker.) When you're a kid, all the athletes are older, and you live in fantasies about, someday or other, being a player, being an adult, being competent. (When you're older than 99% of all the athletes, as I am now, watching sports is often an exercise in nostalgia. Sigh.) When Becker won, I felt—just a little bit—like my time was now. I was ready to go grab life, to do something. For me, it wouldn't be playing tennis, but that didn't matter. Watching Becker made me feel a little bit more like an adult. His victory was downright empowering for me.

In 1985, I imagined Becker winning five or six Wimbledons, and probably just as many U.S. Open titles. When he defended his Wimbledon title in 1986, it was hard to imagine anything but some kind of domination by him. It wasn't to be. Becker didn't win at Wimbledon again until 1989, and that turned out to be his last title there. (He was a runner-up three times after that.) As he aged, Becker seemed to get, well, thicker, and he just didn't move quite as well. And before he knew it, I'm sure, it was the Pete Sampras era. Becker did manage to win two more Grand Slam Titles (Australian Open titles in 1991 and 1996), but his time was really the late 1980s.

Becker's Hall-of-Fame career included the three Wimbledon titles, two Australian Open titles, and a single U.S. Open title. His play earned him many, many fans. Including me.

There are lots of creepy stories about North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il. Kim's former sushi chef certainly has some, including an unsettling story about the morning after the chef's wedding (link via
Howard Bashman of How Appealing has an early review of the recently-opened National Constitution Center. Howard liked it; he really liked it. I haven't been to the Center yet—even though I work within spitting distance (I won't, though, I promise), already have a charter membership, and can actually claim to be something close to a full-time constitutional lawyer. I plan to stop by in the next few weeks, maybe after the peak of the tourist season. I'll let you know what I think.

Friday, July 11, 2003

People should "not go around hitting people with a wooden baseball bat," says Now That Everyone Else Has One. I'm inclined to agree.
Yesterday's hair-pulling incident in sumo, which I mentioned here, now threatens to become a full-fledged scandal. Really. Media reports indicate that the hair-pulling culprit, yokozuna Asashoryu, also broke the side mirror on his opponent's automobile after yesterday's matches. (His opponent was his nemesis and fellow Mongolian, Kyokushuzan.) Asashoryu was already viewed by sumo's authorities as something of a hothead; he was warned earlier in the year about losing his temper after a match against Kyokushuzan. All this hair-pulling and mirror damage can't help his reputation, of course.

I understand that Japanese media outlets are now reporting that the Yokozuna Deliberation Council, a sort of advisory committee that evaluates the appropriateness of the highest-ranked wrestlers' conduct, will make inquiries into the hair-pulling incident after the current basho is over.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Buddy Jewell, winner of the Nashville Star competition, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart (and at No. 13 on the overall albums chart). Wow. Also, has a good, long article on Jewell (news links via Reality Blurred). As you may recall, I was sold on Jewell right away. I've already ordered the new album; when Amazon finally delivers it to me, I'll post a review here.
Kim at Fresh Hell has me all wondering about Julie Chen's décolletage. And, believe me, that's something entirely new for me.
How does International Male stay in business, anyway? No one I know, gay or straight, male or female, wants a swashbuckler shirt, you know?
I love the word peloton. Peloton. Peloton, peloton, peloton. It just makes me smile. Peloton.
I always enjoy a good airport story, and Kate at The Kitchen Cabinet has one. And if I'm ever flying to Auckland, I'll double check to make sure that I'm not actually headed to Oakland.
Speaking of Shattered Buddha (yet again!), there's so much fun stuff there today that I couldn't possibly mention it all. Just go look for yourself, ok? The highlight for me: A link to this article about the golfer who lost his amateur status after Tiger Woods surprised him on the 12th hole.
Shattered Buddha today mentioned Where's George, a service that allows users to track the travels of dollar bills that have been registered at the site. A few weeks ago, I found a Where's George bill in my wallet (it was stamped), and I added my information. Days before, the bill had been just down the road from me. A day or two later, I released my George bill in Philadelphia on my lunch hour. All these weeks later, though, there've been no further updates whatsoever on the whereabouts of my bill.

I have abandonment issues now.

Bohdan Ulihrach got a bum rap, huh? The Czech tennis player was actually being given a banned substance—inadvertently—by the same organization that tested him. Oof.
Sports fans here are all talking about those crazy events involving the Pirate and the Italian Sausage. My favorite blogging on the, um, sausage assault (so far) comes from The Daily(?) Beallsvonian. Check it out.

Meanwhile, in Japan, everyone is talking about the yokozuna, Asashoryu, who was disqualified in his match today for, well, hair pulling. Nyah, nyah, nyah. (I always have to say that immediately following "hair pulling." Nyah, nyah, nyah.) Sumo Now!, which provides excellent coverage of every basho, has all the details on the yokozuna's loss by hansoku (default). (There's even a picture.) There are only a few things that will earn a rikishi a hansoku: Hair pulling, choking, hitting with a fist, and pulling off an opponent's mawashi are among them. This was the first time ever that a yokozuna, a grand champion, lost by hansoku.

Looking for something different to take up some of the space on your 30 GB iPod? How about a Supreme Court argument? Oyez has made several historic arguments available in MP3 format. A good place to start would be the argument in Gideon v. Wainwright, the seminal right-to-counsel case.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Interested in some articulate, first thoughts about baseball? Yes, from an adult. Then check out From across the Pond, a new blog from a British man who is fascinated by the U.S. (I must be his mirror image.) He's been checking out our so-called national pastime.

Oh, and E stands for error.

NZPols has an unexpected Ecuadorian twist. And a good story about tables and chairs that go missing.
Happy Birthday, Reality Blurred! (If you watch any "reality" TV whatsoever, you ought to be reading Reality Blurred regularly.)

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Lleyton Hewitt's first-round loss at Wimbledon caused him to drop three places in the world rankings to #5. The new Wimbledon champion, Roger Federer, moved up two places to #3. Speaking of current champions, the other current holders of Grand Slam titles can be found at #1 (Andre Agassi), #2 (Juan Carlos Ferrero), and, um, #28 (*guess who).

Other beneficiaries of significant post-Wimbledon changes in the rankings:

Among those heading down the rankings:By the way, Lleyton Hewitt's first-round nemesis, Ivo Karlovic, moved up 43 places to #160. He's now the fourth-ranked Croatian in the world. If you can name the top three, you're probably in Zagreb. (I could name two.)
I'm lusting after probably half of the items on C|Net's updated list of the 100 top technology products. Don't you think I really deserve the best portable DVD player out there?
If Shakespeare were alive today, TMFTML would "like to think that he'd be writing gay porn."
Words you don't hear (or read) every day: I'm off to Malawi for two weeks. (Apparently, we ought to hear it more often.)
PaperFrog hasn't moved, or really even redecorated, but it has moved the furniture around a bit. kit's site has always been one of the most beautiful. Now it's well-organized, too. Gosh, I feel inferior.

While I'm thinking about it, I'm sure enjoying PaperFrog's updates on the Tour de France. The most recent one—it's still fresh—can be found here.

One of my favorite neighbors here at Blogspot has moved. You can now find the most excellent Shattered Buddha—and you should—at If it weren't for Buddha, I wouldn't know about important things like Marvel Comics' plan to reincarnate Princess Diana as a mutant comic book superhero. Or the Florida man (those crazy Floridians!) who bled to death after cutting his thumb at home. That's stuff you need to know, right?

Monday, July 07, 2003

I've done my good deed for the day. You've probably heard about Pamela Ribon's campaign to help the Oakland Public Library, which is struggling mightily with budget cuts. A couple of months ago, she urged her readers to purchase items for the library from its Amazon wish lists. The library has since received over 500 books, CDs, and videos. Today, I did my part, purchasing The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics, 1937-2001 for the library's César E. Chávez Branch.

You can find the Chávez Branch's wish list here. Pamie's most recent update on the campaign contains links to several other branches' wish lists.

Captain Indignant thinks How Appealing has lost some of its focus (link via The Kitchen Cabinet). I don't agree, but I do skip those long, daily posts—containing links to newspaper articles—that have Captain Indignant so riled. If Appealing's indefatigable auteur ever decides to catch up on his sleep, maybe he could start by scratching the newspaper wrap-ups off his daily to-do list.

Whether you agree or disagree with Captain Indignant, you've got to love his attitude. (I wish he posted more often, but that might be bad for his blood pressure.) Blogistan needs its Fortress of Peevishness, you know?

New Zealand's national basketball team is nicknamed the Tall Blacks. Get it? For some reason, learning that made my day.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Ralf Schumacher won today's French Grand Prix. With the win, his second in a row, Ralf (as well as Kimi Räikkönnen) closed in on brother Michael's lead in the race for the world championship. With the Williams sisters and the Schumi brothers, sibling rivalries are all the rage this summer, huh?
Martina Navratilova won her 20th Wimbledon title today, pairing with Leander Paes to win the mixed doubles title. (And look who they beat—a duo that includes someone I mentioned, a bit facetiously, before the tourney even started.) The win tied Navratilova with Billie Jean King for the most Wimbleon titles. Navratilova, who is 46, also now has 58 career Grand Slam titles, just four shy of Margaret Court's record. Wow.

The end of Wimbledon always leaves me a little sad. (I guess that's not surprising, given the number of hours I spend each day watching and thinking about it.) But Navratilova's win in the mixed seemed like a good way to end the fortnight. Closure?

Roger Federer played some beautiful tennis today to win the Wimbledon final. Somehow, the entire match seemed to turn when Mark Philippoussis served a double set in a first-set tiebreaker to give Federer two set points. If Federer's nearly-flawless wins over Andy Roddick in the semi and Philippoussis in the final are any indication, this was just the first of several Grand Slam titles for him.

Federer's emotional reaction to winning—obvious ebullience and even a few years—surely won him some fans today, too.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

If there weren't already a fan page for Mahesh Bhupathi, the stylish Indian tennis player, I'd probably have to start one myself. Bhupathi and his doubles partner Max Mirnyi lost the Wimbledon doubles final today to Jonas Bjorkman and Todd Woodbridge. But I found myself smitten once again with Bhupathi's game. He served better than ever, and he has incredible touch at the net. I love the awesome angles he finds.
Maybe one of my friends in New Zealand could explain the Wrightson Agmardt Young Farmer Contest, which ended today. What exactly is the televised finale like? And is it truly an "ever-popular" program?
Is the International Olympic Committee backsliding? The IOC has elected a very old-guard new vice president. Hmmm.
Thinking about following this year's Tour de France? kit at PaperFrog seems to be a willing and knowledgeable guide.
Jason Kottke has closed the neverending comments thread about The Matrix Reloaded. I blogged about the long, complex conversation here. There were 931 comments when Kottke decided he had to take action. He opened a new thread for the participants, however, and they still seem to have a little bit of momentum.
The new issue of Bookslut has a review of Brownsville, a collection of short fiction by Oscar Casares. Brownsville, you may have noticed, has been getting a lot of good press. Bookslut's reviewer, Michael Schaub in this case, liked the book and, particularly, "Chango"—a story about a man-boy and his monkey. I read Brownsville on my last trip to Oklahoma (no, I'm not sure why that's relevant), and I liked it quite a bit, too. My favorite story was "RG." RG lends his hammer to a forgetful neighbor and then obsesses over it for years. I haven't stop thinking about it (the story, not the hammer).

Other highlights of this issue of Bookslut: Jessa Crispin's hilarious, insightful look at Sophie's Choice and her interview with Pamela Ribon, whose book Why Girls Are Weird I mentioned here.

It was sure some ugly tennis. Both Serena and Venus Williams sprayed the court with unforced errors, they served well below their abilities, and Venus frequently looked like she was a point or two away from having to retire from the match with a stomach injury. Inevitably, Serena finally put enough points together to win, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. (And she deserved to win. Although she wasn't in top form, she definitely played better than her injured sister.)

Maybe I'm just an easy touch, but the best part of the Wimbledon final for me was the aftermath—when Serena joined Venus in chairs on one side of the umpire, when they were sisters again, when the referee agreed to take a picture of the duo with Venus's ubiquitous camera. It would sure be good to get some stellar tennis from them in a big final and then get the sweet aftermath. I wonder if it will ever happen.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Alice (er, alice) at drink me reminisces about the first time she heard The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails. She writes:I can totally relate. I wish I could go back and hear Lucinda Williams's Sweet Old World again for the first time. I know I got goosebumps when I heard the first track, "Six Blocks Away," and I was already blown away by the time I got to "Little Angel, Little Brother" and "Pineola." But I'd like to feel it again—feel the excitement and the amazement of it, the initial realization that I was experiencing something that I would enjoy for the rest of my life. I had similar experiences with Alison Krauss's I've Got That Old Feeling and Jimmie Dale Gilmore's Braver Newer World.

Like alice, I don't seem to have the intimate relation to new music that I once did. Maybe I'm too busy with work and life, or maybe I'm just jaded now. But I sure wouldn't mind stumbling onto something a little life-transforming now and then. And realizing it for the first time when I listened.

Several big-time former tennis players—John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova among them—have urged the International Tennis Federation to limit the size of rackets. It's about time. The new rackets, with their gigantic sweet spots, have rewarded power and big serving so much that finesse players are an oddity (and must often focus on doubles). No one talks about topspin anymore, do they? It's all about big forehands and big serves, especially on grass and hard courts. Alexander Popp, anyone? I don't know about you, but that's not what brought me to the game. For me, it was Bjorn Borg and McEnroe, making incredible shots from the baseline and at the net. It wasn't 149 mph serves and sets that are over in 15 minutes. Yawn.

Andy Roddick's response to the former players' letter—that, essentially, they should mind their own business—was a bit pathetic. Of course, he benefits from the new rackets. He has a huge serve, and his repertoire seems to consist solely of hitting the ball as hard as he can. And, even if he was disinterested, Roddick is just too young and inexperienced to have any real perspective.

In the Wimbledon men's final, it's going to be #4 Roger Federer against unseeded Mark Philippoussis. Federer was all over Andy Roddick today, and Philippoussis advanced easily against Sebastien Grosjean. Looking back at my initial predictions, I'm fairly pleased. I had Federer in the final, and I don't think I could rationally have picked Philippoussis. As for the final, I still like Federer.
It's Independence Day!

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I'm happy to see that I'm not the only person who baffles automatic toilets everywhere....
Have you looked at the Wimbledon doubles draws? One of the duos in the men's semifinals is a pair of Israeli qualifiers—Jonathan Ehrlich and Andy Ram. (Oddly enough, I mentioned Ram here before the tournament.) In the other semi, former partners Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes face each other. That just brings out the latent divorce lawyer in me. The news from the other doubles draws has to be Martina Navratilova's continued presence. She's in the ladies' doubles quarterfinals with Svetlana Kuznetsova, and she's in the the mixed doubles quarters with Paes. Navratilova—a tennis legend, of course—is 46 years old. Wow.
Good riddance! Sebastien Grosjean finished off Tim Henman today at Wimbledon. The final score: 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 6-3, 5-4. I don't understand at all what Henman was thinking (probably nothing). He should have been serving and volleying nearly every point; that's what his unidimensional game is all about. He just wasn't aggressive against Grosjean, though.

Grosjean will meet Mark Philippoussis in a semifinal that few could have anticipated. (I surely didn't.) Philippoussis defeated yet another unexpected quarterfinalist, Alexander Popp, today. That match was itself awfully exciting, and the final set went into extra innings (8-6).

Tomorrow's other semifinal was a bit more predictable, and it looks to be the match of the tournament: Andy Roddick vs. Roger Federer. Roddick easily defeated veteran Jonas Bjorkman today, while Federer took out Sjeng Schalken. I still like Federer's chances to make the finals, but I may well find myself rooting for the young American.

Meanwhile, the women's final was set today, and it's going to be another all-Williams affair. If prior matches are an indication, that probably means we'll see some dismal tennis on Saturday. Serena had no trouble with French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, while Venus had a much tougher time with Kim Clijsters. Sadly, Venus appears to have aggravated a stomach injury, making the chances of a thrilling final even slimmer.

Wish you felt like a true blognoscenti? Check out this cool blog glossary (link via Andrew Sullivan).
And then there was silence. (How will we cope?)

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

This just in: Apparently even the Wimbledon ball boys don't care for Tim Henman, according to, um, a well-placed tournament insider quoted by The Guardian (link via Calpundit via Kieran Healy). (I can't believe I let Calpundit beat me to calling Henman the Harold Stassen of Wimbledon.)

Today, on the grass, Henman trailed Sebastien Grosjean, 6-7 (8-10), 6-3, 3-6, 2-1, when rain interrupted play. A win by Grosjean tomorrow would make my week.

In 2010, the Winter Olympics will be Vancouver's. I guess the results of the city's February plebiscite pleased the IOC.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Several of my Wimbledon picks—Andre Agassi, David Nalbandian, Vera Zvonarevahad a rough time of it yesterday. Because of Tropical Storm Bill and my plans to get back to Philadelphia, though, I didn't have a chance to blog all the gory details. To make up for it, I'll take this chance to look back at all my quarterfinal picks. Oh, the indignity of it all! I'll start with the men.Picking the semifinalists at this stage doesn't seem that difficult. The difficult match to predict is Federer vs. Schalken because both players have apparent injuries. I'll stick with Federer, I guess, since I'd originally seen him making it all the way to final. In the other quarterfinal matches, I like Roddick over Bjorkman; Henman (grrr) over Grosjean; and Philippoussis over Popp (try to say that fast).

Semifinals: Assuming Federer is fit, I see him beating Roddick. Of course, if Federer isn't fit, Roddick's the man. In the bottom half of the draw, I'm afraid it'll be Henman over Philippoussis. But you know whom I'll be rooting for, don't you?

Finals: I like the chances of anyone—either Federer or Roddick—over the choke-prone Henman in the final.

As for the women's draw, well, I did slightly better with my picks. Let's look in detail:

The ladies are a day ahead of the men, and they've now played their quarterfinal matches. In the semis, I'll stick with my prediction that Serena Williams will defeat Henin-Hardenne. In the other semifinal, I now like Kim Clijsters's chances over Venus Williams. As for the final, despite Serena's struggle with Capriati today, I don't see anyone taking the title from her.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that the four top seeds are the women's—but not the men's—semifinalists. It always seems to be that way. Maybe someday I'll learn.

I know I just got back from vacation, but doesn't a week of camping in eastern Oklahoma sound like a good idea right about now? I'm jealous.
Doppelgänger?: Remember when I was Thailand? Remember when I linked to the blog of a guy originally from Oklahoma who went to law school and talked a lot about baseball? Well, that guy is Thailand, too. When his blog starts dissecting tennis draws in detail and mentioning news from New Zealand, you'll know we've finally morphed into one.
I've been traveling today back from several days in my favorite city, New Orleans. I hope to update my Wimbledon picks soon-ish. As for other topics, let me just say this now: Sometimes an unexpected vacation buddy—even one named something innocuous like Bill—can be a real burden. Ugh.


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