The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Saturday, May 31, 2003

Did the rise of feminism lead, somehow or other, to the cultural trend toward male hairlessness? That's just one of the theories bandied about in Cipher Culture's analysis of the modern Western man's obsession with shaving his body.
I should've done this sooner, but I guess it's not too late for some French Open picks. As I write this, there are 24 men and 24 women left in the draw. On the men's side, I'd have to pick Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, and Andre Agassi as the likely semifinalists. Of course, a trained seal could pick the top four seeds as the semifinalists, but that's really how I see it. (And, golly, when is a clay-court tournament so, well, according-to-Hoyle?) Of the four, I think Hewitt and Moya are the weak links. Moya just came off a tough five-setter, and Hewitt faces some stiff competition in his quarter. In fact, my dark horses in the men's draw--Gaston Gaudio (yes, I still like Gaudio's chances!) and Arnaud Clement--could face Hewitt in the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals. In the final, I see Agassi defeating Ferrero.

On the women's side, I see Serena Williams, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Jennifer Capriati, and Kim Clijsters in the semifinals. (Note that I'm semi-boldly forecasting that Venus Williams will be upset.) I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Lindsay Davenport instead of Clijsters in the semis, by the way. In the finals, it's got to be Serena (over, probably, Clijsters).

Bravo also brings us Queer Eye for the Straight Guy this summer. (I swear I'm not making this up.) Queer Eye has a panel of gay men who'll advise a straight guy on matters of style and culture. Ugh. That certainly sounds like it'll be insulting to everyone involved. Please, TV producers, more Boy Meets Boy and less Queer Eye, ok?
Bravo promises us a world where it's the straight guys who are in the closet (link via Reality Blurred). That certainly sounds like compelling television. Boy Meets Boy is a The Bachelor-like show where our gay leading man is asked to choose among 15 suitors. It turns out, though, that some of the suitors are actually—gasp!—straight. If one of the straight guys is chosen, he'll win $20,000; if the final object of Boy No. 1's affection is gay, the couple will win a trip to New Zealand (link also via Reality Blurred).

Random Aside No. 1: It would really be compelling TV if the winner, a straight guy, ditched the $20K for the honeymoon in New Zealand, wouldn't it?

Random Aside No. 2: If I were the producer of Boy, Handy Andy Kane would probably be the host. As I've suggested repeatedly, he's the most charismatic man on television, you know? I wonder how he'd cope with being surrounded by so many gay guys....

Friday, May 30, 2003

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. No one wants to watch a behind-the-scenes look at Lingo, the Game Show Network's low-budget word game hosted by Chuck Woolery. Nevertheless, Chuck Woolery: Naturally Stoned is set to begin on June 15. There's still time to cancel your cable subscription.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

I spent the last couple of days here and the last couple of evenings here. That didn't leave much time for blogging. Sorry. Whenever I travel—especially when I travel home to Oklahoma—the blog suffers. I should be back into the routine tomorrow.

Monday, May 26, 2003

Since the blog has been so, well, minimalist lately, this only seems fitting: There has been a lot of buzz in the last week about Dia: Beacon, the new art space in New York—and, hey, it was once a crackerbox factory—for minimalist art. I particularly enjoyed articles in Time, the Guardian, and the San Francisco Chronicle. I hope to make a trek up to Beacon, New York, later this year to check things out. It's only a short(!) four or five commuter-line trips from my house....

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Mongolia's Asashoryu today clinched his first sumo title as a yokozuna. There was never really that much doubt, as (i) the only other yokozunaMusashimaru—remained out with an injury and (ii) Chiyotaikai, the winner of the last basho, couldn't quite get it together.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Although she didn't make the cut, Annika Sorenstam surely won a lot of fans this week. Learned while watching the Annika-fest: Televised golf would be a lot more bearable if the commercials for golf products weren't so banal.
I apologize for the limited blogging this week; it may well continue for a few more days. My thoughts have turned to summer. Where's my sunscreen, anyway? (And I said Handy Andy Kane was pasty!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

As this in-depth story about a non-event demonstrates, we're going to see a lot of Annika in the next few days. I hope she makes the cut.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Thanks to JMB of JMBzine for giving me a reason to say these two things. 1.) Yes, eastern Oklahoma really is the most beautiful place on Earth. 2.) Yes, those kids at the University of Northern Colorado are crazy.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

SARS has produced a sophisticated market for face masks in China. Inevitably, concerns about face-mask fashion have become important to some.
Michael Schumacher survived a fiery pit-stop to win today's Austrian Grand Prix. Kimi Räikkönen's lead in the race for the world championship—a lead he grabbed when Ferrari was struggling in the early part of the season—has nearly evaporated.

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Funny Cide is two-thirds of the way to the Triple Crown. Why am I more likely to root for a gelding? (Please, no disturbing psychoanalysis.)

Friday, May 16, 2003

Paperfrog has a fitting tribute to June Carter Cash, who died yesterday. I've been thinking a lot today about "Ring of Fire," the wonderful song June Carter Cash wrote (with Merle Kilgore) about falling in love with Johnny Cash. That song completely captures the power of falling in love. I can't hear it without remembering what it was like when "I fell into a burnin' ring of fire."

If you don't have June Carter Cash's album Press On, which won a Grammy in 1999, you should. The album contains June Carter Cash's own version of "Ring of Fire," and it was recently reissued.

Update: The Minor Fall, The Major Lift called my attention to The Tennessean's comprehensive obituary of June Carter Cash.

Those dang bloggers are gumming up the works. Wired explains today how blogs can dominate the results you get from a search engine (link via Shattered Buddha).

This is probably as good of a time as any to apologize to the hundreds of readers who've reached the Garden while looking for pictures of a shirtless Handy Andy Kane (but, hey, wouldn't he be super pasty?) and the dozens who breezed by here in the past few days looking for information about country singer Buddy Jewell's single "Help Pour Out the Rain" (I haven't had any requests for a shirtless Buddy Jewell yet, though). Sadly, I doubt any of these readers stuck around long enough to see this apology. But it would definitely be fun to get Handy Andy's fans together with Buddy Jewell's.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

And while I'm thinking about tennis...we have even more reason today to think that Pete Sampras has played his last professional match. Wimbledon won't be the same without Pete's hairy legs.
I've been meaning to blog about this for awhile, but Shattered Buddha's post (eighth entry of May 15) reminded me. (Maybe the Buddha could remind me to take my dry cleaning in sometime soon, too. I'll be wearing my jammies into work any day now.)

The Tennis Channel is on the air, but I'm not getting it. What a bummer! I even wrote my cable company, but—so far, anyway—it's more interested in providing 23 home-and-garden channels, enough science channels to make me really glad I didn't major in physics, and something called G4 (which, I have to admit, is kind of fun). Worst of all, as SI's Jon Wertheim explained in this week's Tennis Mailbag, the Tennis Channel has the rights to many tour events, making televised tennis something that's completely unavailable to poor saps like me. I ache for my Franco Squillari, you know?

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Eugene Volokh's post on unexpected ethnic groups in South America caused me to ask how Brazil wound up with such a sizable Japanese-Brazilian population (1.3 million, apparently). Here's what I found. Since I mentioned Nippo-Brazilians in my master's thesis nearly 15 years ago (hey, it was just a mention), I should've looked into this topic long ago.
I'm going to do my best to enjoy tonight's season finale of The West Wing, because NBC seems to be intent on screwing up next season (free New York Times registration required). The network has ensured that the creative forces behind the show—Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme—won't be returning. Oof.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Before long, the Volokh Conspiracy will be the Volokh Throng. I hope the new addition is less jarring than the last one.
I'm sometimes not good with colors, so could someone tell me just what "a gentle, pastel blending of blue, peach and green" would look like? It sounds a bit nauseating.
The airlines must take note that we're all getting fatter. It's all yogurt and rice cakes for me for the next week, I promise.
To put it mildly, top golfer Vijay Singh doesn't like the idea of co-ed golf. Columnist Thomas Boswell gives Singh and a couple of other dinosaurs what they deserve. If there's any justice, Annika Sörenstam will beat Singh at next week's Colonial.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Ed, one of my favorite TV shows, has somehow avoided cancellation (link via Fresh Hell). Now that Ed and Carol are finally (just when it seemed that cancellation was inevitable?) together, though, will the show be half as much fun?
Happily enough, José Santos is still a Kentucky Derby-winning jockey. The mysterious darkness in the photo of Santos's right hand simply consisted of matter behind him that could be seen through his open fingers.
There are people who would never eat cake for breakfast?! How sad. Update: On this (as with nearly everything else, it seems), I'm on the same wavelength as Alice at a mad tea-party.

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Kieran Healy recently visited Krispy Kreme for the first time, and he succumbed to the "smell of syrup and dough." Ewww. Am I the only person in America who thinks Krispy Kreme doughnuts aren't that yummy? (I think it's something about the dough.) And, believe me, I'm not just one of those anti-sweets crusaders. I'd give anything right now to be enjoying a maple bar or a glazed doughnut from one of the great contributions of Oklahoma to the world—Daylight Donuts.
If you’re a mom, I hope you buck this trend. According to new research, most mothers are disappointed by their Mother’s Day experience. (Note to my own mother: I should’ve sent that string quartet after all. Sorry.)

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Attention, all vexillologists: The state of Georgia has raised its third flag in three years. A referendum next March will determine the fate of the new flag, which you can see here. (Here's what the previous flag, adopted in 2001, looked like.)
What exactly was winning Kentucky Deby jockey José Santos carrying during the race? I guess we're going to find out soon.
Score one for British nudists.
The New York Times's comprehensive coverage of its internal investigation of a former reporter is downright fascinating.
Tomorrow's New York Times travel section really makes me want to visit, of all places, Philadelphia. But, hey, don't I already live there?
Oh, to be young, handsome, unemployed, and in Hollywood—where Monday night is the new Friday night (free New York Times registration may be required). I'm completely jealous.
I completely agree with a mad tea-party's Alice that "defenestration" is too overused to be much fun anymore. In my opinion, you should only use it when you're actually speaking about one of the Defenestrations of Prague. And, really, how often will you be doing that?

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Mixtape Marathon's post on law-professor exam "humor" is a lot funnier than anything I ever actually saw on a law school exam (link via a mad tea-party). That's her point, of course. And, for some reason, it reminds me of an exam I took in, shall we say, a criminal-procedure type course. The exam was full of not-so-funny names and situations. As I recall, one of the questions asked me to decide a hypothetical case as if I were the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Unfortunately, the case was on hypothetical "appeal" from the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, which isn't even in the Ninth Circuit. I scratched my head for a few minutes, wondering if I should just dismiss the appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction or whether I should wade into all those odd names and situations. I finally did the latter, but I did mention at the end that New Mexico was in the Tenth Circuit. I don't know if that helped, or hurt, my grade. (I made an A-minus, I think.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Golly, little.yellow.different. has gone all PG-13 on us. Please help free Ernie's soul.
Texas Monthly and ESPN The Magazine were two of the magazines honored today for general excellence (heads up via Bookslut) by the American Society of Magazine Editors. I like both an awful lot. (And if an Oklahoman like me has nice things to say about, well, anything Texan, you know Texas Monthly has to be good.)
An ethics committee of the International Olympic Committee has recommended that a new Iraqi Olympic Committee be built from scratch. Ugly, ugly things apparently happened under the auspices of the prior national committee, which was led by Saddam Hussein's son Uday.
When the New York Times runs a long, rapturous piece on pork fat—well, I just have to point it out. Yum?
The question at the annual convention of the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) is whether delegates will back the breakaway World Skating Federation, which is attempting to replace the International Skating Union as the sport's governing body. The USFSA has warned delegates that allying with the new group may hurt American skaters.

I discussed this brouhaha in several posts in March, including this one.

The British National Tennis Championships have been canceled due to lack of interest. Sadly enough, I'm not really joking. See for yourself. I just don't understand why Britain can't seem to produce a modern-day tennis star.
The British Psychological Society has formed a task force to examine whether reality TV shows cause psychological harm to participants (link via Reality Blurred). This news came on the same day that a participant on the U.K.'s I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! left the show after a near-breakdown.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Happy Birthday, How Appealing!
Linda Barker, a designer on BBC's DIY show Changing Rooms, is one of the contestants in the current U.K. iteration of I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! Ugh. And I doubt her knack for paint effects helps her there at all....

Monday, May 05, 2003

After losing a big lead, Wales's Mark Williams recovered to eke out a victory in the final of the 2003 World Snooker Championship. Williams won the world title in 2000 as well.
little.yellow.different. is back from hiatus. And the site has a cool new look. (I especially like the mini-blog.) Blogistan is a lot more fun when Ernie's keeping tabs on the world.
According to SI's Jon Wertheim, any top professional tennis player who came out would see his popularity soar. The player "instantly would become an icon both among gay fans and fans who simply admire his courage." And, happily, there wouldn't be much negative stuff for the player to face on the tour.

Also, like me, Wertheim thinks that Wimbledon's decision to continue offering women less prize money is shameful.

The improving diplomatic relationship between India and Pakistan is good news for cricket fans. Of course. Both sides should be at next April's Asia Cup Cricket Championship.
Andre Agassi was upset in the first round of the Italian Open today, making his return trip to No. 1 a very short one. David Ferrer of Spain beat him, 0-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.
Eugene Volokh has decided to keep his Roomba. And he only used about four pounds of baking soda in making up his mind.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Michael Schumacher and his new Ferrari racing vehicle won today's Spanish Grand Prix. It wasn't a blowout, though.
Playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Homebody/Kabul) has gotten hitched (link via Lily at The Kitchen Cabinet, who keeps us all posted on The New York Times's weddings pages).
Well, there's still some justice in the world, I guess. Buddy Jewell, by far the most talented contestant on Nashville Star, won the recording contract last night. Jewell's somewhat sappy single, "Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)," hits country radio tomorrow. (I was hoping the first single would be "Abilene on Her Mind," an original that he did several times on the show. It's a hit if I've ever heard one.) Another of my favorites, Miranda Lambert, has plenty of offers to consider despite her third-place finish, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph. I have no doubt. UPDATE: Reality Blurred has coverage of last night's show, too.
The Rattler is definitely right about this: There's an epidemic of archiving outages among Blogger users right now. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I'm having to continually republish my May archives to keep them current. Argh, you know?

Saturday, May 03, 2003

Gravity wins another one (link via The Kitchen Cabinet).
FIFA has decided to move this year's women's World Cup from China because of the SARS outbreak there. Australia and the United States are the early favorites to step in as host. China has been promised the 2007 event as a consolation prize.

FIFA has also decided, tentatively, to add four teams to the 2006 World Cup draw. The South American soccer federation has been working for this change ever since it lost a potential qualification spot to Oceania.

Nashville Star wraps up tonight, Reality Blurred reminds us. As I've mentioned, I've been watching, and—a bit unexpectedly—I've been enjoying it. So many of the 12 finalists had real talent, were genuinely earnest, and seemed to deserve a break, that I couldn't help but root for them. I still think Buddy Jewell, a longtime demo artist in Nashville, deserves to win. His voice is smooth, and he can sing anything. I guess I wouldn't object too much if another of the now-three finalists, Miranda Lambert, won. She's awfully talented, but—unlike Jewell—she has time on her side. (I have some qualms about the range of John Arthur Martinez, the third finalist, but I'd definitely rather hear him on the radio than a lot of the pablum being played now. Martinez, by the way, already has a Grammy for songwriting.)

We'll be able to hear a new single from the winner on country radio on Monday (link, once again, via Reality Blurred).

Friday, May 02, 2003

The Times has the early odds from British bookmakers for this year's French Open and Wimbledon. Sensibly enough, Juan Carlos Ferrero is the favorite at the French, and Lleyton Hewitt is the favorite for Wimbledon. Serena Williams, of course, is the women's favorite at both events. If I were in Manchester, I might be tempted to put some money on Gaston Gaudio (25-1) for the French Open and David Nalbandian (50-1) for Wimbledon.

Gambling, though, would be wrong. This public-service announcement was brought to you by my mother.

SARS-fare: An airline is charging $1,000NZ less for a flight from New Zealand to London because of a four-hour layover in Hong Kong.
Philadelphia's City Paper has a cover story this week on the cradle of American cricket. Good stuff. And as a lagniappe, there's a good explanation of how cricket is played.
Remember when I was a judge at Mind Games 2003? Well, I stumbled onto a fellow participant's web coverage of the event, and there's a picture—sort of—of me. I'm the arms, hands, and blue-and-yellow polo playing Crossword Pyramids! Obviously, given that shot of my flabby arms, I should be hitting the gym a little more often than I'm hitting the Scrabble table....

Those are my game-playing friends Rhonda and Karin from the Kansas City area with me. I wish I could hang out with them more often.

I don't know how many good causes there are in Blogistan, but this cause—to help keep Bookslut up and running—is definitely a good one.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Ferrari finally debuts its 2003 race car this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix. And the team's Michael Schumacher will be hungry. That's probably not a good combo for the competition.


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