The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Three (Very) Quick Thoughts

  • At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen recently wrote about some of the music he loves in the genres he hates. Cool idea, huh? But does this particular discussion really make sense?
    Post-1965 Country music - You can argue about that date, but New Jersey boys aren't going to like Garth Brooks or Shania Twain. Shelby Lynne, on the other hand, is the best of Loretta Lynn and Dusty Springfield rolled into one, only circa 2005.
    First of all, Cowen seems to be saying that he likes Loretta Lynn, right? But much of Lynn's work, and a lot of her best work, occurred after 1965. To be fair, Cowen said the date might be arguable, and I suspect (admittedly, this is just a wild guess) that what Cowen meant to say is that he doesn't like the string-heavy Nashville Sound country music of the 1960s or the faux-country pop music (Kenny Rogers, Barbara Mandrell, Eddie Rabbitt) that dominated the 1970s. More than a handful of artists resisted those pop impulses, though, and here I'm thinking of Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Gary Stewart, etc. The artists I just mentioned did their best work after 1965.

    That quibble aside, though, I'm still puzzled. Cowen says "Jersey boys aren't going to like Garth Brooks or Shania Twain." But isn't that precisely who propelled Brooks and Twain to superstardom? I mean, really. In fact, isn't that why Brooks and Twain became household names—because Jersey boys were suddenly buying their albums? I don't think you can blame the excesses of the Twain and Brooks era on the kinfolk down in the holler. Golly.

    P.S. For the record, I'd like to say that Brooks's early work (i.e., his first album or two) was more country than some remember.

  • Just a few days ago, I was whining—but, oh, so mildly—that I'd never been a groomsman. Now I've learned that my only sibling, a sister, has eloped! I was counting on that wedding to end my streak. Hmph.

    What do some never-married women say? Always a bridesmaid but never a bride? I may have that beat. Never a groom and not even a groomsman.

  • I keep going back to a picture entitled, unromantically enough, "Holland Tunnel Ventilation." Somehow or other, it's engrossing.

    What New Orleans restaurant am I?

    You are Commander's Palace, a grand old dame of the Garden District. Traditional yet always vibrant, you are never afraid of innovation but you seldom carry it too far. Some locals claim you have become a tourist trap, but your loyal patrons know there is no restaurant in town that treats its regulars with more finesse.

    What Famous New Orleans Restaurant Are You?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    (Quiz-taking prompted by the quizmaster herself, Poppy Z. Brite.)

    The Men's Quarterfinalists

    Ok, remember when I saved the word "dreadful" for later? I was saving it for now: Of my eight picks to reach the French Open men's quarterfinals, only two turned out to be correct. Two! I don't remember ever doing so poorly. And what's especially frustrating is that several of my picks just missed. Really. Anyway, let's get right to the heartbreak:

    Roger Federer - It would've been hard to be wrong about this, and I wasn't. It's difficult—even for me—to give myself credit for something so obvious.

    David Nalbandian - If you look at the men's draw, you'll see that Nalbandian just missed the quarterfinals, losing in five tough sets to unseeded Romanian Victor Hanescu. If you look back at my first post, you'll see that I recognized Hanescu was a contender in this section of the draw. Still, I thought the challenge was in deciding whether the quarterfinalist would be Nalbandian or fellow Argentine J.I. Chela. I was wrong. (I'm getting awfully used to saying that.)

    Rafael Nadal - Yes, I was right about this. And if you're keeping track, yes, I was right about the two most obvious picks for the quarterfinals. Yes, I was wrong about everything that was even mildly difficult. Yes, yes, yes.

    Gaston Gaudio - I was so close. On my bracket, I correctly put both defending champion Gaudio and David Ferrer (#20) into the Round of 16. I figured their match would be close, but I didn't see Ferrer taking out Gaudio in five sets. (Gaudio was up, 4-0, in the final set, too! I think maybe some of my picks were actually curses.)

    Guillermo Coria - Coria was upset today by #12 Nikolay Davydenko, who has had a super clay-court season. I correctly projected that both Coria and Davydenko would be in the Round of 16, but I never really thought Davydenko might get by Coria.

    Juan Carlos Ferrero - I think I wanted to believe Ferrero was back, and —truthfully—I'm still not convinced he isn't. He looked awfully good in losing to #3 Marat Safin. When I was making my picks, I fretted and fretted over whether the quarterfinalist would be Ferrero or Safin. Silly me! Not only did I not foresee that Safin would beat Ferrero, but I didn't see that Safin would then himself lose to #15 Tommy Robredo.

    Andre Agassi - In retrospect, this was a silly pick. Sure, Agassi is still a contender here and there, but he's getting older and this is a long, grueling tournament. I should've just gone with one of the dirtballers in this section. The obvious choice would've been Guillermo Cañas, and—duh!—Cañas is the quarterfinalist.

    Andy Roddick - Yeah, as I've already confessed, this was a silly pick, too. I think I redeemed myself, some, by quickly picking the unseeded Argentine, Mariano Puerta, to take Roddick's place in the draw. And, indeed, Puerta has made it (pretty darn easily) to the quarterfinals.

    So, two for eight? I think we can all agree that that's dreadful prognosticating. What's worse is that, aside from Hanescu, none of the actual quarterfinalists is all that shocking. That's the tricky thing with picking the French Open, I guess. There are just so many dirtballers out there who can conceivably threaten in any given tournament.

    How do I see the second week now?I absolutely can't wait for the Federer-Nadal semifinal. That's the match that'll surely decide the championship. In fact, Sunday's final may well be an anticlimactic, all-Nadal (or all-Federer) affair.

    Monday, May 30, 2005


    The Women's Quarterfinalists

    It's time to look back at my French Open picks and berate myself for all the silly, silly predictions I made. Looking first at the women's draw, I have to say my performance was pretty dreadful. But let's save "dreadful," because I'm going to need that sharp of a word when I look at the men's quarterfinalists. Goodness.

    Lindsay Davenport - If you'd told me after I made my eight picks that I'd be right about only three, I (a) wouldn't have been all that surprised and (b) would've assumed that Davenport was one of my misses. She just hasn't ever played that well in Paris, and she put almost no time this year into preparing for the red clay. But somehow or other, through a lot of ugly tennis, Davenport made the quarterfinals. I'm still not sure exactly how she got past Kim Clijsters in the Round of 16, but I certainly can't complain about getting something right.

    Patty Schnyder - I was convinced that Schnyder's excellent year on the clay would continue. The eighth seed played well, but she succumbed to former champion Mary Pierce in the Round of 16. It's a miss for me, sure, but I did say nice things about Pierce's chances in my first post. I know, I know: You don't give partial credit.

    Elena Dementieva - Yes, I was wrong about this one, too. I dislike Dementieva's game, but I thought she'd vindicate her seeding (at #4). Yesterday, however, she fell, 7-5 in the final set, to #16 Elena Likhovtseva. Score this as another miss. By the way, I didn't even have Likhovtseva in the Round of 16; I figured she'd lose to Silvia Farina Elia (#18) in the third round. Gosh, I'm too honest, I think. I didn't have to mention that miss.

    Venus Williams - Gosh, to be right and still to be so wrong! As I said in my original post, the top seed in the section—defending champion Anastasia Myskina—just doesn't have it together. Given that knowledge, I tried to do the right thing, picking the second highest seed from the section, Williams. Williams, though, was upset by a Bulgarian teenager, Sesil Karatantcheva, and I definitely didn't see Karatantcheva as the quarterfinalist. Who could've? Spare me a little partial credit here? Pretty please?

    Tatiana Golovin - I said this was my shakiest pick for the women's quarterfinals, and I was absolutely right. Golovin lost in the third round to the higher seed, Elena Bovina (#12), and Bovina, in turn, lost to Nadia Petrova (#7). In my defense (gosh, do I keep saying that?), Petrova came into the event with an injury, so it was hard to pick her. Still, a miss is a miss.

    Amélie Mauresmo - Well, yes, this is my fifth miss in a row. Thanks for noticing! Mauresmo succumbed in the third round to her annual French Open nerves—and, oh, to young Serbian phenom Ana Ivanovic (#29). I didn't see Ivanovic as a possible quarterfinalist. Apparently, I should've.

    Justine Henin-Hardenne - It looked for a long while today like I was going to be wrong about this pick, too. Henin-Hardenne, though, finally put away Sveta Kuznetsova (#6) in three tough sets. Henin-Hardenne will have to start playing better soon if she's going to vindicate my prediction that she'll win it all. Having been wrong about so much, it'd be nice to be right about the eventual champion....

    Maria Sharapova - Well, yes, I did manage to get this pick right.

    So that's the recap. I went three-for-eight in picking quarterfinalists, and that's nothing to gloat about. (I did have nine of the players who made the Round of 16.) Looking back, of the five quarterfinalists I missed, I don't think I had a prayer of picking at least three of them (Likhovtseva, Karatantcheva, and Ivanovic). I could've conceivably picked Pierce, but that would've been one helluva pick. It's only my failure to pick Petrova that really haunts me....

    Well, with some substantial holes in my bracket, I need to reevaluate my picks for the rest of the tournament. Here's how I see things now (I'm sticking with my original picks to the extent possible):So, yes, I can still be right about the finalists and the champion. Given how poorly both Davenport and Henin-Hardenne have played, however, I'm anything but confident. I truly wouldn't be surprised now if the finalists were Mary Pierce and Maria Sharapova.

    Since I'm awake, I blog in the wee hours.

  • This picture from Paul Petroniu Marza's Introniuspections just oozes Danish-ness, don't you think?

  • When I get a few minutes, I'm definitely going to read this long-ish piece on the gay All-American lacrosse player (link via Off Wing Opinion).

  • Speaking of long-ish sports pieces (hey, is this one a long sports-ish piece, too?), yesterday's New York Times Magazine had an interesting feature on the man who's arguably the best poker player of our time, Daniel Negreanu. If you watch as much televised poker as I do, you already know quite a bit about Negreanu. You'll learn a little bit more from the Times Magazine feature....

  • If there's any justice, Santa will leave this unbelieving Scottish poster artist a 20-foot-by-10-foot stocking stuffed with an enormous amount of coal.

  • I've seriously fallen for this work by mixed media artist William DeBilzan (hat tip: Rashomon). Unfortunately, I don't have $7,500 to spare—even if the stick figures really get to me. (And they do.)
  • Sunday, May 29, 2005


    Redecorating is hard work.

    If you're one of my four-and-one-half regular readers, you'll notice that I spent my long Memorial Day weekend doing some redecorating. I'd grown bored with the old template, which I started using nearly a year ago, but I couldn't find anything I liked better . . . and I definitely realized I didn't have the time or patience to design a whole new look by myself. Happily enough, I recently stumbled onto this template—it's known as Ice Bubble, by the way—at Blogger Templates, a site that's chock-full of interesting templates. In between watching French Open tennis and Formula One racing, I customized the template and decided it was ready for your eyes.

    That said, it wouldn't surprise me at all if there are still a few things not working quite right. I've tested the site with new-ish versions of both Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, but I know I have visitors who use other browsers. Please let me know if your particular experience with Ice Bubble isn't everything it should be. I suspect, too, that some posts in the archives may seem a little askew. I probably won't change anything in an old post unless it's unreadable or confusing; if you see a candidate for some serious tinkering, though, please feel free to call it to my attention.

    My only regret with Ice Bubble is that it's, well, not green. Since I started blogging in November 2002, I've clung to the garden motif—which, of course, made green a natural color. I like Ice Bubble enough to embrace its all-out blueness, but I've got to ask: What kind of garden is blue?

    Saturday, May 28, 2005


    A Saturday Seven

  • International Harvester once made refrigerators?! Oh, excuse me, IH "femineered" them (link via Dustbury). How truly 1950s.

  • Yesterday's F Minus was brilliant. I guess you can't go wrong with talking animals, Noah's Ark, and a warped point of view.... Anyway, I'm completely sold on Tony Carrillo's strip. Why don't we get quality comic strips like F Minus in our newspapers anymore?

  • Is there no end to British tennis player Tim Henman's ability to whine? And is there no end to the lengths that Wimbledon officials will go to give the British No. 1 an edge? Hmph. Here's a Garden curse for you: May Henman lose in the first round.

  • Since I didn't even know Fresca still existed, the makeover is probably a good idea. Fresca? I'll stick with Tab, thanks.

  • Cool Pic Alert: I highly recommend these Brazilian drops.

  • The concept of sundries is apparently new to Mesa, Arizona. Odd.

  • Today's New York Times contains a profile of Beate Sirota Gordon, the American woman who wrote the women's rights provision in Japan's postwar constitution. I smiled at this:
    Colonel Kades said, 'My God, you have given Japanese women more rights than in the American Constitution,' " she recalled, referring to Lt. Col. Charles L. Kades, head of the constitutional steering committee. "I said, 'Colonel Kades, that's not very difficult to do, because women are not in the American Constitution.'


    Hot Damn!

    What would the Garden look like if I broke out into Redneck dialect? I could probably show you on my own, but I don't have to. Here's a snippet of my recent diatribe against straight men, as rendered by's Redneck Translator:
    Thar dang article detailed thar dang elaborate rituals thut thar (some) straight fellers go through 'n orduh tuh hang out n'all one anothuh while, gasp, not appearin' tuh bay gay, pardner. One felluh re-counted, fuh example, how bubba went tuh an art museum n'all ah cousin but went out uv his'n way tuh look at thin', hot damn! separately; bubba also pretended not tuh know much about art, Leroy! Anothuh felluh explained thut thar bubba just couldna brin' himself tuh eat n'all ah cousin at an Italian re-staurant thut thar had music, ambient lightin', pardner. 'n ah brew list.
    Bubba pretended not tuh know much about art, Leroy! (Hat Tip: Mode for Caleb.)

    Friday, May 27, 2005


    Friday Spies

    This week's questions from BTQ:

    1. What is the best thing about the city in which you live? What is the worst? I actually live in the 'burbs, but my answers are going to be about Philly. My favorite thing about the city is, I guess, Independence Hall (which, by the way, I can see from my office window). As a kid (one who'd never been to Philadelphia), I was fascinated by American colonial history—and especially the American Revolution. So it's a real treat for me to live and work where I do.

    The worst thing about Philadelphia: Crime? Grime? Something else that rhymes with crime or grime? The usual big city stuff, I guess.

    If you made me give my answers about my particular 'burb, I'd have to say the best thing is, of all things, a horse show. The worst thing: Hmm, strip malls, maybe?

    2. Describe an idea or invention of yours that you would like to see turned into reality. I think some tiny Oklahoma tribe should legalize same-sex marriage and use the lure of marriage licenses to attract gay/lesbian visitors (i.e., marriage tourists) to a tribal luxury resort. It wouldn't necessarily matter whether other jurisdictions would recognize the marriages (that, of course, might be an interesting legal question). Gay and lesbian couples have been flocking to Massachusetts and Canada to get married, even when they realize there's little chance their marriage license will have legal effect in their home jurisdictions.

    How do I envision the resort? I'm imagining a sort of cross between a Niagara Falls/Poconos hotel, the Mohegan Sun, and a "traditional" Oklahoma bingo parlor.

    3. Name an overrated author, musician, and movie. Name an underrated author, musician, and movie. As for the overrated, I'll go with:
    Author: Joan Didion
    Musician: Sarah McLachlan
    Movie: Forrest Gump
    As for the underrated, I'll go with:
    Author: Sinclair Lewis, if a Nobel Prize winner can be underrated (and I think he can)
    Musician: Jeb Loy Nichols
    Movie: Short Cuts.
    4. If your life were a sitcom slated to air in the fall, what would the show be called? Who would you cast in the starring role? And for extra credit, give us a brief treatment of the show. Jason Bateman stars in Drawn Out as Green, a mildly exasperated Philadelphia lawyer who'd give anything to move to New Orleans and open up a snowball shop. Unfortunately, duty, justice, and other responsibilities keep getting in the way. Hilariously, I guess. And, oh, all of Green's co-workers and friends morph, occasionally, into outrageous and demanding cartoon characters.

    5. When is the fun supposed to start? Yeah, I have no idea.

    Thursday, May 26, 2005


    My French Open Picks—A First Look Back

    I should've already gotten to this, but I'm just been too pooped to blog for a couple of days. It's hard to work a full day, watch five or so hours of TiVoed tennis coverage, and still blog, you know? Anyway, here's my overdue first look back at my French Open picks.

    How'd I do with my first-round picks? I did ok, just slightly below my norm. Of the 64 first-round men's matches (as always, I didn't pick every first-round match on the women's side), I correctly picked the winner in 43 (67.2%). That's four below my best-ever performance, when I correctly picked 47 of the men's first-round matches at the 2003 U.S. Open. My worst performance ever: the 2004 Australian Open, in which I correctly picked only 41 of the first-round matches.

    It's not thrilling, but I'll take 43.

    How are my projected quarterfinalists doing so far? Fairly well. All eight of my projected women's quarterfinalists survived the first two rounds of play. I can't be unhappy about that. Unlike some well-known prognosticators (hmmm, didn't Jon Wertheim's original seed report have Myskina going through to the semis?), too, I didn't make the mistake of picking defending champion Anastasia Myskina, who has struggled of late. Myskina, as you probably know, fell in the first round (to Maria Sanchez Lorenzo).

    Two of my eight men's quarterfinalists, however, have already left the tournament. Andre Agassi lost in the first round to qualifier Jarkko Nieminen. (I did say that was a tasty first-round match. Doesn't that count for anything?) Today, fellow American Andy Roddick departed, losing to journeyman José Acasuso. I can't say I'm all that surprised by either loss. Agassi is obviously showing some age (who isn't?), and Roddick has never played that well at Roland Garros. So why'd I pick 'em? Well, that entire quarter of the draw was open, and I thought Agassi and Roddick were my best bets.

    Now that the American seeds are gone, their quarter of the draw is even more open. Golly. It's so open, in fact, that I'm going to do something bold and picked an unseeded player, Mariano Puerta, to come through the draw as the semifinalist. Really. If I'm right, I'll look damn smart. If I'm wrong, I hope you'll do me the courtesy of forgetting I mentioned it.

    I still see a Nadal-Coria final, by the way, with Nadal taking the title.

    How did I do with the projected first-round upsets? I picked two first-round upsets in each of the draws. I was right, well, half of the time. On the women's side, I correctly predicted that Virginie Razzano would beat #25 Dinara Safina, but Meghann Shaughnessy didn't quite get by #27 Amy Frazier (that match did go to 7-5 in the final set). Likewise, on the men's side, I rightly picked Puerta to upset #13 Ivan Ljubicic, but #33 Robin Soderling didn't fall to Fernando Verdasco (that one did go five sets, though). Obviously, I didn't pick the upset of Agassi, but—overall—I'm pleased enough with my upset picks.

    How'd my qualifiers and wild cards do? I highlighted five qualifiers and wild cards. Three of the five did advance in the first round. That's so-so. The pick I'm happiest about: I correctly predicted that "lucky loser" Flavio (ah, Flavio) Saretta would upset Greg Rusedski.

    Where will I be this long Memorial Day weekend? In front of my TV set, watching some dirtball. I can't wait....

    Tuesday, May 24, 2005


    Hugs and kisses? No.

    Straight men are apparently freaks. First, a few weeks ago, we were confronted with a strange New York Times piece about "the man date." The article detailed the elaborate rituals that (some) straight men go through in order to hang out with one another while, gasp, not appearing to be gay. One man recounted, for example, how he went to an art museum with a friend but went out of his way to look at things separately; he also pretended not to know much about art. Another man explained that he just couldn't bring himself to eat with a friend at an Italian restaurant that had music, ambient lighting, and a wine list.

    Some of the other bizarre "rules" for man dates:If all that weren't enough, now we get the news that straight men are confused by the prevalence of social hugging (link via The Obscure Store). For straight guys, it seems, hugging necessitates all sorts of posturing and subtle cue-giving:
    The male hug is complicating everything.

    Men accustomed to the automatic and dependable hand clasp accompanied with a brisk up-and-down pump at dinner parties and college reunions, now must preface their greetings or goodbyes with intricate and split-second calculations based on body language, length of friendship and other factors.

    Do I shake or do I hug?

    Making the right choice matters. If one guy goes for the hug, but the other decides upon a handshake, they might collide. An excruciating dance will follow, as the poor lads work feverishly to determine what to do with their hands, their arms, their bodies.
    And, egad, if a hug goes wrong, the experience "will haunt" subsequent encounters and the men may avoid socializing together again.

    How exhausting. Get some therapy, guys.

    Monday, May 23, 2005


    Useless personal information, marital satisfaction, and—yes—turgidity...

  • How about some useless personal information? Tonight, as I drove home from the train station, the odometer on my 1991 Ford Tempo—no, I'm not kidding—finally surpassed 66,000 miles. That works out to less than 5,000 miles per year. How'd I manage that? Well, I inherited the car from my grandfather, who drove it very little. I'm obviously my grandfather's grandson, too, because in the five years that I've owned it, I've driven the Tempo mostly to and from the nearby train station and to the supermarket.

    What does this reveal about me? Choose one of the following:
      a.) I have no life.

      b.) I'm so embarrassed to drive an ugly, white, beat-up 1991 Ford Tempo that I find other ways to get to my destination.

      c.) I'm cheap.

      d.) All of the above.
    You really don't have to tell me how you answered. Really.

  • Self-deception appears to be the key to a successful relationship (link via Marginal Revolution):
      Psychologists believe that what they are observing in couples who [score higher on marital satisfaction] are strongly selective memories that ignore inevitable negative events over the course of marital history. Maybe a distorted view of your marriage that emphasises the positive and forgets the negative is crucial to accounting for who stays and who flees when it comes to relationship endurance.
    As the article indicates, "[i[f you are going to insist on being realistic, then maybe marriage is not for you." I knew it!

  • It's not often that I blush when reading The Volokh Conspiracy, but this post by Eugene Volokh about, um, turgidity got me a little bit pink.
  • Sunday, May 22, 2005


    French Open Picks—The Men's Draw

    I've spent nearly the entire day with the French Open men's bracket in front of me. As I try to pick every single match on the men's side of a Slam, my prediction process can eat up some time. Remember that if you're ever looking for a way to distract me for 10 straight hours, ok? Today, it was a fretful 10 hours, as I seemed to be faced repeatedly with impossible decisions:You get the picture. I'm indecisive, and this process requires a lot of decisions. Not a good combo.

    Anyway, let's get to it. As always, I'm starting at the top of the draw. My projected quarterfinalists are:

    Roger Federer (seeded #1) - Clay is the world No. 1's weakest surface, but he's still one of the very best clay-court players. No question. I don't see anyone—including either Hrbaty or Moya—who might threaten Federer's place in the quarters.

    David Nalbandian (#10) - As I indicated, this was a tough section of the draw to predict. I quickly decided that Tim Henman, the section's top seed, was unlikely to repeat last year's trip as the tournament Cinderella to the semifinals. (My Cinderella, what big feet you have!) I simply couldn't decide, though, whether the quarterfinal spot should go to Nalbandian or Juan Ignacio Chela (#31). I first wrote in Chela because I think he has a good shot, one on one, against Nalbandian. As I thought more and more about it, though, I realized that Chela's trip to the quarters was fraught with a lot more danger (Rainer Schuettler, Victor Hanescu, Henman). So, taking the easy route, I decided to go with Nalbandian.

    Rafael Nadal (#4) - We should all get a grip, I suppose. Nadal's never even played the French before, and he's already everyone's favorite. Nadal has had a helluva spring, though, and the French is just the tournament where a newbie might prevail. Punch my ticket for the Nadal train, too, please.

    Gaston Gaudio (#5) - Last year, when Gaudio surprised everybody by winning the French Open title, I was sure I wouldn't be penciling his name on a 2005 quarterfinal line. A year later, I'm a believer. Gaudio can play, and he's had a good, good spring on the clay. I'm particularly looking forward, by the way, to a Round of 16 match between Gaudio David Ferrer. Tasty stuff.

    Guillermo Coria (#8) - Coria's is not the easiest draw. To get to the quarters, he'll have to get by Mikhail Youzhny (#29) or, more likely, Jürgen Melzer before tackling someone like Nikolay Davydenko (#12), who just won in St. Poelten. Despite that, it's almost inconceivable to me that Coria won't make the quarters.

    Juan Carlos Ferrero (#32) - Ferrero, who seems to have been battling back from injury for years, finally seems to have his game where it should be. Still, is it too soon to expect Ferrero to get by Australian Open champ Marat Safin (#3) as well as a top clay-courter like Tommy Robredo (#15)? I think the answer just might be no.

    Andre Agassi (#6) - At this stage of his career, I definitely think Agassi is a longshot to win the title. But I don't see anyone—save maybe Feliciano Lopez (#24)—who might keep Agassi out of the quarters.

    Andy Roddick (#2) - As I foreshadowed above, I don't really think Roddick is likely to make the quarters. It's a competitive section of the draw, though, and I can't really say that I like the chances of Ivan Ljubicic (#13), Nicolas Massu (#22), Filippo Volandri (#27), or Mariano Puerta any better. So Roddick it is. If Roddick goes early, my backup choice is the unseeded Puerta.

    As for the rest of the tournament:

    Semifinals: Federer vs. Nadal; Coria vs. Agassi.

    Final: Nadal vs. Coria.

    Champion: Nadal.

    And the miscellaneous picks?

    First-round upsets: There are two I'd be willing to bet on. Look for (a) the aforementioned Puerta to upset Ljubicic and (b) Fernando Verdasco to defeat #33 (don't ask) Robin Soderling.

    Other tasty first-round matches:

  • Michael Llodra vs. Fernando Gonzalez (#25);
  • Potito Starace vs. Henman;
  • Paradorn Srichaphan vs. Radek Stepanek (#16);
  • Melzer vs. Wayne Arthurs;
  • Vince Spadea vs. former champion Albert Costa;
  • former champ Gustavo Kuerten vs. David Sanchez;
  • Agassi vs. qualifier Jarkko Nieminen;
  • French phenom Gaels Monfils vs. Guillermo Cañas (#9); and
  • José Acasuso vs. Max Mirnyi.

    Qualifiers and wild cards likely to advance:

  • In a battle of two wild cards, I like Gilles Simon's chances to beat Olivier Patience.
  • Although he shouldn't have needed the wild card, Arnaud Clement is my favorite over Alexander Popp.
  • In one of the toughest first-round matches to pick, I'll take Antony Dupuis over fellow qualifier Kristof Vliegen. (Yes, more Liquid Paper was required.)
  • In another battle of qualifiers, I like American James Blake over Tomas Tenconi.
  • Finally, I'm picking lucky loser Flavio (ah, Flavio) Saretta to "upset" Greg Rusedski.

    Enough already. I'm ready for the actual tennis.
  • Saturday, May 21, 2005


    My French Open Picks—The Women's Draw

    I haven't been able to watch as much tennis as I'd like this spring, but that's not going to keep me from offering my picks for the French Open, which starts Monday. Tonight, I've been looking at the women's draw. The top half of the draw was so puzzling to me that I nearly gave up; happily enough, the bottom half made a lot more sense to me. You may want to keep that in mind when you think about these picks for the quarterfinals.

    As always, these are in the order you'd see them from the top of the draw to the bottom:

    Lindsay Davenport (seeded #1) - I get some occasional criticism that I'm too likely in my picks to go with the highest seeds. Here, though, I was all prepared to with Kim Clijsters, who's returning from injury as the #14 seed. (She's obviously a much better player than her seeding reflects.) In fact, I was set to put Clijsters all the way through to the final. But Clijsters strained some knee ligaments at the German Open a couple of weeks ago, and it wasn't clear until today that she'd even play in Paris. I'm still tempted to pick her; she's been a force of nature all spring, after all. Still, given the injury, I think I have to go with Davenport, the top seed. Send in those emails now.

    Patty Schnyder (#8) - Yes, I'm going with the top seed in this section of the draw, too. Sue me. Schnyder has had a great clay-court season, and I'm not entirely sure Vera Zvonareva (#9), the other top seed in the section, will get by former champion Mary Pierce (#21) in the third round.

    Elena Dementieva (#4) - I hate Dementieva's game. She has no serve, and she has no nerve. (Suddenly, I'm Muhammad Ali.) But the clay neutralizes many of her service problems, and her nerves shouldn't be a problem in the early going. Unless Silvia Farina Elia (#18) can stop her, Dementieva—who was a finalist last year—is your quarterfinalist. As you'll see below, I think Dementieva's even likely to make it further than the quarterfinals. Look for some boring, poorly played matches in the second week. Grrr.

    Venus Williams (#11) - Please take note that I'm not going with the section's top seed, Anastasia Myskina (#5). Myskina's form has been questionable lately, and Williams comes into the French with a win in, of all places, Istanbul. Williams should be the quarterfinalist.

    Tatiana Golovin (#17) - Once again, I'm not going with the seeding committee. The top seed in this section is Nadia Petrova (7). I like Petrova, and I respect her clay-court game, but I'm just not sure about her current form. She injured her thigh a few weeks ago in Rome, and she hasn't played since. Petrova's injury seemingly leaves room for Golovin or, even, veteran Dally Randriantefy. Golovin had some good results in the first part of the clay-court season, so I'm going with her. Admittedly, though, this is my most suspect pick....

    Amélie Mauresmo (#3) - Coming off a win at the Italian Open, Mauresmo has to be viewed as one of the favorites. Unless the pressure of playing at home gets to her, she ought to find an easy road to the quarterfinals.

    Justine Henin-Hardenne (#10) - Like Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne has returned from injury with a good-looking, confident game. I really don't give the top seed in the section, Svetlana Kuznetsova (#6), much hope of defeating the former champion.

    Maria Sharapova (#2) - Sharapova is not the second best player in the game right now, but she looked good in Berlin and Rome. She should make the quarterfinals. If the quarterfinalist isn't Sharapova, it'll probably be Nathalie Dechy (#13) or Ai Sugiyama (#23).

    What does the rest of the tournament look like?

    Semifinals: Davenport vs. Dementieva; Mauresmo vs. Henin-Hardenne.

    Final: Davenport vs. Henin-Hardenne. (And, yes, I'm probably crazy for putting Davenport through to the final. I just can't convince myself that Dementieva, Schnyder, or V. Williams are any more likely to make the final.)

    Champion: Henin-Hardenne.

    Interested in some miscellaneous picks?

    First-round upsets: I like Virginie Razzano's chances to upset #25 Dinara Safina, and I'm picking Meghann Shaughnessy to beat #27 Amy Frazier. I'm sure there'll be other upsets, too, but these are the only two I'd be willing to bet on.

    Other tasty first-round matches:

  • Davenport vs. Katarina Srebotnik;
  • Vera Douchevina vs. Pierce;
  • Jelena Jankovic (#15) vs. Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi; and
  • former champion and current old-timer Conchita Martinez vs. Henin-Hardenne.

    Tomorrow, I'll post my picks for the men's draw.


    Ten Things I've Never Done

    I know I've said how Ann Althouse drives me crazy, and she does, but I have to give credit where it's due. I first saw this beguiling meme at Althouse.

    I've never:

    1.) Been to New England.

    2.) Had Scotch.

    3.) Illegally used any controlled substance.

    4.) Been a groomsman. (And you know how much I like weddings!)

    5.) Gotten all the way through James Joyce's Ulysses.

    6.) Negotiated with a car salesman.

    7.) Attended an opera.

    8.) Played a table game at a casino.

    9.) Shaved with a non-electric razor.

    10.) Been fired.

    Friday, May 20, 2005


    Friday Spies: The "Would You Rather" Edition

    I haven't had any (good) reason to ramble on and on about myself—on Fridays, anyway—since The Friday Five's demise. Since my self-absorption knows no end, I've decided to give Begging the Question's Friday Spies feature a try.

    This week, I have to decide whether I'd rather:

    1.) Live alone on a deserted island for 10 years or be paid handsomely to live at Neverland Ranch with the King of Pop for one year? Ten years is a long time, and it's definitely a long time to be lonely. Lonesomeness is one of my "issues." So I'd take the lucre and the short-term madness that I'm sure Neverland Ranch would hold. But, hey, I'm calling the cops if they need to be called....

    2.) Be deaf or blind? As much as I'm a music hound, I'd have to take deafness. I have a horrible memory, and I think that would make being blind a serious challenge. Plus, with my sight, I could at least be sure that my hair wasn't messed up. Yes, I'm that vain.

    3.) Have skin which changed color depending on your mood or visible sight lines? Being a human mood ring holds some allure, especially if the colors are nice. I can't imagine any advantage at all to the visible sight lines, although I bet I'd get pretty good at looking where I wanted on the sly.

    4.) Spend a year in prison or a year on tour with Celine Dion and John Tesh? Too easy. Prison is awful. I probably wouldn't be able to defend myself against a cellmate, but I'm pretty sure I could take Celine and/or Tesh in a fair fight. Believe me, though, I'm taking the iPod on the tour....

    5.) Have a threesome with your close friends or with total strangers? What are the odds I can find two dates? At the same time? Ok, that's no answer, I know. Well, if I can choose which close friends, I'd go with that option—as unappealing as it is. With the right people, the, um, experience could probably be more funny than traumatic. If I can't choose which close friends, I'd go with the strangers.

    I'm reflecting. (There's a puzzling metaphor for you.)

  • As you may remember, I declared email bankruptcy last summer. Well, as iBeth makes clear, one can declare blog bankruptcy, too.

  • Today's New York Times asks whether Japanese businessmen will be coerced this summer, for environmental reasons, into casual dress. I didn't read anything today that was more interesting. Really. Highly recommended.

  • It was a long winter for me, but this recording—of the sounds you'd hear after a Flyers goal—gave me my first hockey-related smile in ages (hat tip: The Sporting Life). Please, please, please let there be NHL hockey next season....

  • This Daily Dose of Imagery shot of a building reflection is downright stunning.
  • Thursday, May 19, 2005


    I foresee another clumsy dismount.

  • Grant of This Blog Sits entertainingly deconstructs Dave Chappelle's metaphor of the "clumsy dismount." The next time I royally screw something up, I won't be a bit surprised if the words "clumsy dismount" come out of my mouth. Brilliant.

  • Do you ever read any of the secret-laden postcards sent to PostSecret? Many are so, um, profound that I sort of doubt they're real. They're just too spot-on. I still read, though. Anyway, a new batch of secrets is up; my favorite says: I donated 40 dollars to the tsunami relief fund & now that I'm broke I regret it.

  • Lynn S. of Reflections in D Minor finds herself addicted to, of all things, popsicles. She tells a good story about it.

  • Just in case you're following this: Crescat Sententia's Will Baude has responded to my (tepid) criticism of his habit of having more than 120 books—most unread—checked out at once from the university library. I remain unconvinced. Using utilitarian analysis, Will B. contends that the benefits of his having quick access to the books likely outweigh any costs to other library patrons. "[I]t seems unlikely," he says, "that the world would be a better place if the books were strewn through obscure stacks rather than sitting on my bookshelf." In that vein, he notes that the books have not been frequently checked out. Good points, yes. And I might be persuaded if Will B. had only seven, 15, or even 25 library books in his possession. But he has more than 120! As even he concedes, "a handful of people" might be inconvenienced by his practice. Indeed, given the startling number of books we're talking about, inconvenience to someone seems likely. And at what benefit? Well, Will B. originally mentioned that he hadn't read most of the books. So he's apparently inconveniencing at least a handful of other patrons, who can't get the books/information they need when they need it, and he's not even getting good use of the books these other patrons need.

    It's definitely not what I'd do.

    I was there.

    Phillies 7, Cards 4.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2005


    Four Completely Unrelated Thoughts

  • It's a good thing I don't work for National Public Radio because there's no chance—given my accent, anyway—that I can make "auto" and "otto" sound much different (link via Romenesko). "Err" vs. "air"? Check. "Oil" vs. "all"? Check. But "auto" vs. "otto"? No way, sorry.

  • Lily of The Kitchen Cabinet has something interesting to say about Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride: Since it was perfectly legal for Wilbanks to "disappear," can she really be expected to reimburse authorities for their search?

  • A student in Ms. Frizzle's health class asked her if she preferred pads or tampons. Really. Can you imagine?

  • I have fallen for F Minus, a comic strip by Tony Carrillo. Yesterday's, for instance, is both funny and refreshingly offbeat. And check out this sample of five F Minus strips. Each made me smile. How often can you say that about the dreck that fills most newspaper comics pages? Highly recommended.
  • Tuesday, May 17, 2005


    Three Short Items

  • First, we had the news, noted here, that the brains of gay men and straight men are "lit up" by different smells. Now, we get the (fittingly parallel) news that gay and straight armpits actually smell different. (If you want to read the news article yourself, you may find this BugMeNot link handy.)

  • Ah, daisies.

  • I don't blog about legal matters, but I don't think I cross any lines simply by mentioning, without necessarily endorsing, a Volokh Conspiracy post today about whether "negligent sex" should be actionable. Yeah, negligent sex. There's a concept. By the way, if you're male, the fact pattern under discussion may be difficult to ponder. Ouch.

    Update: I see now that Eugene Volokh also blogged about this topic—with a bit less seriousness—at The Huffington Post.
  • Monday, May 16, 2005


    A Motley Monday Collection

  • Steve of The Sporting Life lists some Amazing Race teams he'd like to see. What a hoot. My fave: Andrew Sullivan and Rosie O'Donnell. The mind reels.

  • Indiana has finally decided to give in, all the way, to daylight savings time. Welcome to the 20th century, Hoosiers! (Wait, we're in the 21st century now!) Next up: There'll be hearings to decide if the 10 Central Time-observing counties or the 82 Eastern Time-observing counties should switch for the sake of statewide uniformity. No one's asking me, but I think uniformity is overrated....

  • Kelly Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, says the coming season will probably be the last for The West Wing (link via Lost Remote). He ensured that (grrr) by moving WW to Sunday nights at 8 o'clock—where American Dreams recently died.

  • Although I sorta wish more of this exquisite Daily Dose of Imagery shot were in focus,I can't stop going back to look at it. Why is wet patio furniture so alluring to me?

  • Crescat Sententia's Will Baude attempts to justify what strikes me as pretty much unjustifiable: He currently has more than 125 Yale library books checked out to him. Seriously! And most of them are still unread.

    I'm not buying it. You can't infer that no other patrons needed books simply because they didn't formally recall them. They may have done without needed information or gone to great trouble and/or expense to get books elsewhere. When I was in grad school, I used to get so irritated about books that were always checked out. Often, I didn't really have the time to wait for a formal recall. I might've gone batty if I'd thought there was a significant chance that a book of my dreams was sitting, unread, alongside 120 other library books.

    I'm not even sure a student writing her doctoral dissertation could truly justify having that many library books—let alone, unused library books—at one time.

  • Sharing iPod earbuds is truly an intimate experience, as Gregunderwater can attest.

    My World View . . . Apparently

    What's my world view? There's a quiz, naturally:

    You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.













    Cultural Creative




    What is Your World View?
    created with

    (Quiz-taking prompted by Class Maledictorian.)

    Sunday, May 15, 2005


    I've been away, and there's a lot to catch up on.

  • Do men and women use cell phones differently? Research from Britain suggests that women are more likely to prefer text messaging, while men are more likely to prefer old-fashioned talking. Is that interesting? I'm not sure. I'm a fan of text messaging, but that's probably more a feature of who normally calls me. If it's someone I really like, talking is better.

  • Amber of Class Maledictorian offers advice about law school, including:
      1.) Maybe you shouldn't go to law school if you're not actually interested in practicing law. Or, to quote Amber, "going to law school [just] for networking and a skill set sounds like a bad way to spend $100,000."

      2.) Don't take classes just because you think they'll be good for you. Study what interests you. (You may remember that I wrote something very similar here once.)

      3.) "Do not always go to the best school you get into."
    Excellent advice, I'd say.

  • Renegade Buddha calls attention to BookCrossing, which is a sort of for books. You leave a tagged book in a public place and hope someone picks it up. If someone does, she can go to the site, record the find, and pass the (newly-read?) book along again.

    I do something similar with my issues of One Story, the clever literary mag that features, of course, a single story with every issue. I don't tag my released issues, of course, so I'm not able to track them on the web. If I like the story, though, I leave the issue on a train, in the laundry room, in a waiting room, somewhere. I hope I'm not just littering and that someone, occasionally, reads the story I've left behind....

  • I'm really taken with this Sushicam shot of a pathway to a residence. (Here's a link to the accompanying journal entry.)

  • Boi from Troy recently found himself in a conversation with Wink Martindale. How truly bizarre. Any Tic Tac Dough fans out there?

    Cheesesteaks are great, but...

    On the Oklahoma City craigslist, an ex-resident listed some of the things he misses about Oklahoma (link via Dustbury):
    I miss snow cones, Robertsons' beef jerky, REAL barbecue, thunderstorms, crickets, 23rd street piercing studio, Gary England's tornado alerts, Garfield's perfect margaritas, Sonic (oh my god! to have a blue coconut slush and some onion rings right now!!!), sweet tea, skinny dipping in shawnee lake, the okc zoo, funnel cakes, Henry Hudson's...
    This is really a list of things to miss about Oklahoma City. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Gary England is an OKC weathercaster, Shawnee Lake is a western Oklahoma spot, etc. And I have no idea why our correspondent can't get snow cones and funnel cakes in Oregon. But those are small quibbles. Here's some of what I miss about eastern Oklahoma (you'll note some overlap):It must be time for a visit to the home planet.

    Saturday, May 14, 2005


    Now where were we?

    I'm back from a few days in New Orleans. Regular posting will resume as soon as, um, I think of something to say.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005


    Fourteen Seconds of Fame

    I had a strange day. First and foremost, it's not every day that the Garden gets linked by Slate's "Today's Blogs" feature. (Hi, Slate readers.) How'd I manage that? I have no idea. But I represent the minority, it-ain't-so-bad viewpoint on The Huffington Post, and there may just not have been that many positive-ish points of view in Blogistan to choose from....

    Anyway, when I checked my referral logs tonight to see which of my four-and-one-half regular readers visited today, I was flabbergasted to see that dozens of Slate readers had visited. According to the good people at StatCounter, they're spending an average of, oh, about 14 seconds here. (Any Slate readers make it this far?) Still, it's nice to be noticed once in awhile. Even very, very briefly.

    There was one other unusual thing in my referral logs today: Someone from my favorite law school Googled my name and found the Garden. I wish I'd gotten an email out of it. It's been a long, long time since I was a student, and I certainly doubt my name comes up that often. I'm memorable, but—you know—time heals all wounds. So I'm curious. Inquiring minds and all that.

    Despite today's distractions, I did manage to do a little surfing for you:
  • The market for plastic wedding cake toppers sure isn't what it used to be (link via, yes, The Huffington Post). If I ever manage to snag me a mate, I'm definitely lobbying for the plastic topper. It's an essential, right?

  • The key to building an effective team is mixing in a little new talent (link via Kottke). Otherwise, everyone's too bored to be brilliant. Try to work this news in at your next business meeting, ok?
  • Monday, May 09, 2005


    For news on urology, keep reading.

  • Arianna Huffington's Huffington Post premiered today. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. The Post's layout is attractive and uncluttered. The news feed is an unexpected pleasure. I was taken with, or at least entertained by, several first-day posts. (If I had to choose just one, I'd point to this inaugural post [on gay marriage] by writer Jon Robin Baitz. The post is prickly and thought-provoking, and I probably agree with as much of it as I disagree with. Nice.)

    All that said, the Post is going to need some adjustments. If it's really going to feature a bazillion different posters, and if all those bloggers are going to be posting all the time, the reader is going to have to be given a filter. "The Blog," which dumps one post on top of another ad infinitum, is just too chaotic. If I want to read, oh, John Cusack's posts, I ought to be able to click on his name and just read his posts. I don't want to have to continually search for his posts—or be constantly monitoring the site just in case he posts. Still, that's a pretty minor tweak, and I'm sure something like that will eventually come.

    What's been most amusing today has been the reaction of "old guard" bloggers. Take Ann Althouse, for instance. She complained all day today about the Huffington Post. I think that's telling.

  • Fearless prediction: I'll spend the next 24 hours making small talk about the news that the brains of gay men and straight men get, um, "turned on" by different smells. Most of the time, by the way, I'm too congested to smell anything....

  • I'm pretty sure I won't make any sense here, but this striking Shutterbug pic—of a highway light surrounded by incredible quantities of smog-shade sunlight—somehow captures a sort of moderate, 1970s-ish listlessness. (I told you this wouldn't make sense!) Wasn't a shot like this in the opening credits to TV's Alice? Shouldn't it have been?

    Whatever the photo actually captures, it's a breathtaking shot.

  • When you're on your way to the urologist for a biopsy, be careful when flipping the bird (link via Kottke).
  • Sunday, May 08, 2005


    I am L-A-Z-Y.

    I'm ashamed of how little I've gotten done this weekend. I slept a good chunk of the weekend away, and my major accomplishment this afternoon was turning over periodically while I watched the Spanish Grand Prix from my sofa.

    Here's a little blogging penance:
  • recently blogged about an ingenious Portuguese ad campaign that uses flags to make social commentaries about various countries (hat tip: Kottke). Wow.

  • Although it's not (yet) in my blogroll, Crocante Fotolog is one of my favorite photoblogs. This shot from Eulina Rego will explain why. No other place looks quite like Brazil, I guess.

  • Renegade Buddha, a new blog from a self-proclaimed "30-something entrepreneur, slowly reforming margarita-mixing wildman, and closet Buddhist," looks to be worthy of attention. For a taste, check out this post on the ultimate irrelevance of consumer Buddhism.
  • Friday, May 06, 2005


    I miss China Beach.

    I missed a day of blogging. I bet you thought I wouldn't be back for six weeks.

    I didn't blog last night because I was at the National Constitution Center to attend a program called "Constitution on TV: Writing 'The West Wing.'" No big stars were there; the only actor was Melissa Fitzgerald, who has a recurring role as Carol (an assistant in the White House press office). I went primarily to hear from the writers, especially John Sacret Young. I love the way The West Wing makes law, politics, and policy seem so interesting and, well, like such noble callings. It's the writing, of course, that really does all that.

    Young was also the creator and executive producer of one of my other all-time favorite TV shows, China Beach. Beach, as you may remember, provided a sort of cockeyed look at the Vietnam War through the eyes of women who worked at an evac hospital. After the lecture, as Young signed my copy of his new memoir, Remains: Non-Viewable, he told me that "they" were working on getting China Beach out on DVD. That's exactly what I wanted to hear.

    If you were a fan of China Beach, you won't be surprised to learn that the hold-up has been the music: It's expensive to license music for DVD releases (see, e.g., Northern Exposure), and music was very, very important to China Beach. However "they" manage it, though, it'll be good to have the series on DVD. I really miss the show—its quirkiness; its commentary on war, gender politics, friendship; the high-caliber acting (from Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger, among others); and the creative way, especially in the final season, it played with time.

    I hadn't really intended for this post to move so quickly from The West Wing to China Beach, but it did, and that's not all that surprising. Good things make me think of other good things.

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005


    At mid-week, life just doesn't make that much sense.

  • Like Steve of The Sporting Life, I'm trying to figure out that ubiquitous American Express magazine ad featuring Laird Hamilton. (Look for me in the comments to Steve's post. I'm always way more interesting at other blogs.) You've got two half-naked men, a baby, and a dog. In other words, it's (beware: understatement ahead) kind of a gay vibe. Yet Hamilton's straight. What does it all mean?

    I get all discombobulated when I'm reading SI or Entertainment Weekly and suddenly stumble onto the ad.

  • I've got to give today's award for Most-Bizarre-Yet-Strangely-Interesting Post to Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution. Cowen turns to game theory to decide when a willing informer threatened with torture should actually squeal. Economists can be a little bit warped, you know. In the end, though, the answer isn't all that clear....

  • Speaking of strange, I'm thinking of adopting a poet at (link via Bookslut). Should I pick someone famous (Allen Ginsberg, maybe), or should I pick one of my lesser-known favorites (Joy Harjo, possibly)?
  • Tuesday, May 03, 2005


    I regress.

    It's laundry night here at Garden headquarters, so there's no time for any long-form blogging. You don't even expect that from me anymore, anyway, do you?
  • On my train, I've been reading "Early Round Upsets and Championship Blowouts," by Rick Harbaugh and Tilman Klumpp of Indiana University (link via The Sports Economist). The paper may help explain how (a) the Chaminades of the sporting world can sometimes get by the Virginias yet (b) any tournament final inevitably seems to pit Duke against UNC or the like (yawn). Despite all the charts and formulas, the paper is highly recommended.

  • Need a quick refresher in regression analysis before you read that Harbaugh/Klumpp piece? Well, Marginal Revolution's Alex Tabarrok took a stab today at giving the "shortest, non-technical, yet reasonably accurate explanation" of regression. It's just a paragraph. And it's good for you. Yummy and nutritious.

  • Manila in Byte Size Edible Pieces currently features a cool picture of a volcano.

  • Cincinnati Reds pitcher Joe Valentine has two moms (link via Towleroad). It's a shame that something so commonplace is still so newsworthy on the sports pages—really, isn't it about time some active MLB player himself came out?—but it's a nice, nice story.
  • Monday, May 02, 2005


    Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue

    Can you stand three posts in three days? Gosh, I may set an indoor land-speed record or something....
  • I'm thrilled to see that Class Maledictorian is as puzzled as I was by Ann Althouse's bizarre comments on the appropriateness of having a formal wedding after longtime cohabitation.

  • Poignantly enough, here's more proof that you can die of a broken heart. Men can, anyway. So go on, cohabitors, celebrate and be merry.

  • In case you wondered where I was from February 8 until April 30...well, I spent most of that time watching poker on TV. This weekend, for instance, I cozied up to NBC's coverage of the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Like, I found NBC's coverage to be unsatisfying—consisting of lots of pretty icing, but offering up only empty calories. If you're going to watch televised poker—and, let's face it, I am—you want to see some hands, right? In the future, NBC, give us more hands and fewer feature stories and pointless interviews.

    I also have some real doubts about the Heads-Up format, which puts 64 poker players in a traditional tournament bracket to compete in one-on-one play. This is different, to be sure, because heads-up action is normally the exception in tournament play, happening only at the very end of the final table. I find the heads-up game to be a lot less interesting. Because there's only one opponent to worry about, there are a lot fewer variables for the players to consider. Plus, the players necessarily become so much less choosy about the hands they'll play that the cards begin to seem more irrelevant than ever. I realize that the action in Texas Hold 'Em is often in the betting, but—at some point—the cards can become so unimportant that I'm not sure we even have a card game anymore. The National Heads-Up Championship fetishizes what is, for me, one of the least interesting and least representative parts of the game....

    And, no, I have no idea how I got from weddings to broken hearts to poker. I'm pretty sure, though, that I'm not the first person to take that particular road.
  • Sunday, May 01, 2005


    My Majesty

    I love May Day. It all started on a May Day over 30 years ago when I was in the second grade, and Mrs. Edmonds's class elected me the King of May. As I recall, I narrowly edged Ralph Ayers, and Lisa Moore was voted Queen of May. I got a construction-paper crown and everything. So this is my month, ok? Don't mess with me. It is so ordered.

    Today, His Highness would call your attention to the following:
  • The Times's opinion page today contains an essay by Orlando Patterson and Jason Kaufman, offering their theory as to why cricket failed to thrive in North America (link via Crooked Timber). The short answer is that North American elites, unlike those elsewhere, were so concerned about maintaining status that they kept their game close, limiting mass interest. Meanwhile, the North American masses turned their interest elsewhere, to baseball and hockey, and—importantly—sporting goods manufacturers went with them.

    It's not a theory I would've been drawn to right away. I would've focused more on my gut feeling that cricket tends to thrive today in Commonwealth countries—and particularly those that were the most tied, culturally, to the United Kingdom during the late Victorian Era. That seems to be the (most recent?) crucial time when so many national sporting affinities were cemented. The U.S., of course, wasn't a Commonwealth country, and adopting anything British-y here might have offended whatever was left of our revolutionary tendencies. But what about Canada? My theory doesn't explain why Canadians went for hockey, not cricket. So maybe Patterson and Kaufman have the goods. Or, hmm, maybe Canada's just an outlier (or a different case because of its continual need to separate itself from both the U.S. and Europe).

    When I ever get caught up on my reading, I'm definitely going to check out the American Sociological Review paper that prompted the piece in the Times.

  • Speaking of the Times, this entire "Shopping" piece seems to have been built around the fact that a man in the Houston burbs built a shed in his backyard so he could play poker (link via I think this may say more about life in the suburbs (and the need for personal space?) than it does about the current poker craze, but it's still an interesting read.

  • This picture of a wheelbarrow and some grass just about sings spring, and May, to me.

  • I don't know why Ann Althouse's (nonpolitical) opinions annoy me so much, but they often do. For instance, I don't even watch American Idol, but I feel my blood pressure rise whenever I read one of her all-too-frequent AI updates. I don't know which contestant is her favorite, but I'm definitely for someone else.... Anyway, today, Althouse annoyed me with this inane commentary about weddings:
    Am I the only one who thinks a big wedding is inappropriate for two people who have been living together?
    Well, there are lots of good reasons to dislike big weddings. Like Althouse, and probably you, I was pretty much horrified by the idea that the runaway bride's wedding plans included 14 sets of bridesmaids and groomsmen. That's not a wedding. It's a Mardi Gras ball. It's a cotillion. It's conspicuous consumption.

    But any good reasons to dislike big weddings are completely unrelated to whether the couple cohabitated before the wedding. Weddings mark an important change in social status—maybe the most important status change that many of us will ever experience. Even when a couple has lived together for awhile, there's a big social difference between being a longtime boyfriend and being a new husband. I want to celebrate when my friends, even those who've been "together" in some sense for a long while, decide to make things permanent with an appropriate ritual. It's a happy occasion, and my happiness isn't lessened by the likelihood that the couple has already, as Althouse put it, "consummated the relationship." Oof.

    Go ahead, invite me to your wedding.

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