Monday, January 22, 2007

Heat stroke

Hear ye, hear ye!!! The Knicks have finally bottomed out.

The first quarter just ended in Miami, and the Knicks are down 40-12. Shaq and Wade aren't even playing! The Heat scored at least 25 unanswered points-- I swear to Christ...

Cano on 22's

The Yanks made a bold move today: Robinson Cano offered his #22 to Clemens "if Roger comes aboard." C'mon, Bobby! Make it mean something, and give up your number before he even signs. Now that would truly be respect for one's elders.

The Red Sox countered with an offer of their own. They promised to fund the return of the legendary "Roger Clemens' Flame Roasted Chicken" restaurant in downtown Providence if the Rocket chooses their team...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Farewell to Kings (remaster)

1977's A Farewell to Kings has a viable candidate for "best Rush song ever" ("Xanadu"), another for "most popular Rush song ever" ("Closer to the Heart"), and two strong entries for "worst Rush song ever" ("Madrigal" and "Cygnus X-1"). And there are only 6 songs on the record.

We begin with a jolly little acoustic intro title track--one imagines dwarves and jesters hopping around a medieval courtyard... which gives way to a nice little rocker. That's just an appetizer for the colossal "Xanadu," which of course was decreed by Kubla Khan. Whatever the hell that means. Anyway, you get loads of neat percussion, volume pedals, bells, synthesizers, crazy drum fills, and a little bit of Coleridge as well. Over the top? Way over.

We all know about "Closer to the Heart," although I've always wondered exactly how ploughmen are supposed to sow a new mentality(?). One minute Peart's on the hardcore Ayn Rand tip, then he's spouting what sounds like Commie bullshit... whatever. I never really liked this song as much as everyone else.

On the other hand, "Cinderella Man"'s always been right down my alley. Neil drops some serious drum knowledge here-- mad rudiments straight outta NARD fo yo ass. He sounds like a friggin typewriter half the song.

Reissues may sound better, but bad songs stay bad. I skipped "Madrigal" like we all used to do when it first came out. Then I made the mistake of listening to "Cygnus X-1" with a hangover. Don't ever do this.

"Cygnus" is not only about a black hole, but is also the musical and creative equivalent of a black hole. Half-baked riffs and adolescent lyrical ideas are Frankenstein-ed together into a horrifying ten minute atrocity. Neil and Geddy's syncopated funk breaks are absurd, and Alex drones on long guitar repeats like he just drank a bottle of Canadian cough syrup. The whole mess ends with Geddy shrieking like a crackhead-- maybe his worst ever. As if that's not enough, the liner notes ominously read "to be continued" at the end of the lyrics.

After ending on this bad note (I wish it was just one note!), I began to question the existence of Rush in general. More exactly: What the hell am I doing listening to this garbage? Who the hell are these guys? Where the hell is the Advil?

Answer: Geddy's a total freak but a great bass player. Neil's a nerd but an insanely great drummer (duh). Alex is a great guitarist, but d___k's way too much and will require extended breaks from touring in decades to follow.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (or 4 out of 6 songs)

FUN FACT: The spaceship that Neil Peart's character rides into the black hole in "Cygnus X-1" is called the Rocinante-- Greek mythology, Steinbeck reference, or both? (or neither... maybe Cygnus X-1 is really supposed to be an enormous pussy.)

Monday, January 8, 2007


Imagine my excitement when today's programming on the YES network was suddenly interrupted for a newsflash! Did they solve the mystery of the West Side gas-like odor? Not yet, but the Yankees were about to introduce a freshly-shorn Kei Igawa at the Stadium.

The guy looked pretty solid at a somewhat awkward press conference in the Bronx this afternoon. His control of the English language is a work in progress, falling somewhere in between Michael Kay and Randy Levine. More importantly, he seemed as calm as a cucumber.

Far more interesting was the appearance of Hideki Irabu's former translator, the strangely androgynous Kota Ishijima. Somebody in the YES control room made the mistake of doing a close-up on him for the first translated question-- that mistake wasn't repeated for the remainder of the program. I was praying that a rogue reporter might ask Ishijima a direct question about his firing by George Steinbrenner 9 years ago and subsequent hiring by the Old Homestead steakhouse downtown.

Apparently Hideki Matsui was invited to the press conference but politely declined. No big deal, but why did they feel the need to open the event by telling us this? More on this developing story later...

Friday, January 5, 2007

Raggedy Randy

As we bid adieu to the Unit, let's compare his stats to other recent two-season acquisitions (regular season):

Randy Johnson 34-19, 4.37 ERA, 383 SO
Jose Contreras 15-7, 4.64 ERA, 154 SO
Kevin Brown 14-13, 4.95 ERA, 113 SO
Jeff Weaver 12-12, 5.35 ERA, 150 SO
Carl Pavano 4-6, 4.77 ERA, 56 SO

(OK, so none of these other guys actually pitched two complete seasons for us. However, they all screwed us at least once in the playoffs...)

Two other big signings in their first two seasons in pinstripes:
Mike Mussina 35-21, 3.59 ERA, 396 SO
Roger Clemens 27-18, 4.13 ERA, 351 SO