Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trumps says what we all really think

On his tiff with Rosie O'Donnell:

"Rosie O'Donnell is disgusting, I mean both inside and out," Trump shot back on the syndicated entertainment show The Insider. "Take a look at her, she's a slob. She talks like a truck driver. ... Her show failed when it was a talk show, she failed on that. The ratings went very, very low and very bad and she got essentially thrown off television. Her magazine was a total catastrophe, she got sued."

"I never went bankrupt, but she said I went bankrupt. So probably I'll sue her because it would be fun. I'd like to take some money out of her fat-ass pockets," he said.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

As I Lay Dying Review

I bought this book a long time ago (around a year) after seeing it on so many lists and reading so much about Faulkner. So I finally read it. The first half was not fun, I sort of willed my way through it, not really enjoying it. The writing itself was good, especially the Darl parts, but the story was too hard for me to follow. I didn't know what was happening. Granted, some of it was the fractured narrative, but some of it had to do with the setting. It's in the south and it's in farm country and it was a while ago.

But, honestly, I was having the most trouble with the different narrators in the story. I just wasn't getting into it, it felt like a cliché, "Yeah I've seen this a million times, let's move on." So I almost ignored it, focusing instead on the story.

Instead of plowing through the rest of the book in such a joyless way, I decided to read up on the book and see it I could figure anything out that would make it more enjoyable (á la Ulysses).

Turns out Faulkner was something of a pioneer with this book and it's unique narrative elements. Which helped. Also, I started focusing, and noticing, each characters nuances when they spoke. Honestly, I started reading it a lot slower. Instead of focusing on getting to the end of it, I focused on reading it.

I liked it. Maybe one day I'll reread it again, much slower, the whole way through.

But that's not for a while. I have many new books in line, and they have been patiently waiting.

UP NEXT: I'm reading The Blind Side by Michael Lewis (Moneyball) and it's awesome. This one covers football and one particular player, but the amount of other topics in this book is great. I'll finish this one by tomorrow I think. Awesome.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Indian Men Don't "Measure Up"

File this one in the "hee hee" file. It reminds me of a news bit I saw around 6 years ago about a donation of condoms from Japan to some country in Africa. They had to be returned because they were too small. I gave my friend Koji so much shit about it, he didn't believe it was true.

Iran's Holocaust Denial Conference

I was ready to dismiss this as just another PR stunt to get some public support from the people that already hate Israel in the region. But then I spotted some Jewish people attending the conference. Not just Jews, but Rabbis, ultra-orthodox and the whole deal. And I thought, what's this about? It made me really curious and I couldn't find anything about it online. In this particular picture, a rabbie is swapping business cards with some other dude.

So what's the story here?

Turns out there is a group of ultra-orthodox Jews called Naturei Karta. Their whole deal is based solely and literally on scripture:

Neturei Karta teaches that the exile of the Jews can end only with the arrival of the Messiah, and that human attempts to return to the Land of Israel are sinful.

Which is pretty far out there, but then again, so all are religions.

There, mystery solved as to how and why Rabbis were at a conference seeking to disprove the holocaust.

Well, turns out there is something in the news after all:

His words received warm applause from delegates at the Holocaust conference, who included ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel Jews and European and American writers who argue the Holocaust was either fabricated or exaggerated.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Borat Review

Went to see this last night after clamoring to see it since it came out. First, I have to say that I have watched the show before and think he is very funny. Some of the stuff he does as Borat for his show is brilliant, in my opinion. So when I saw this movie came out to such good reviews, even in the mainstream, I was psyched, convinced that he had put together his best stuff and made a movie out of it.

I was wrong.

The movie has it's funny moments, and I guess is too true to the show in that way. A few of the clips have some redeeming qualities, but the idea of one cohesive storyline (since this is a movie) means he has to put some stuff in there that just isn't funny. It's more of a set up than a joke.

But most of the clips aren't funny, and this is something that happens on the show too. Unfortunately, some of these clips run long and are pretty painful. Also, I saw it with Mindy, who is Jewish, and some of the stuff he was saying ran a little out of context, it just came across as offensive, button pushing, not as it does on the show, which is as a part of his whole social commentary.

So overall it wasn't funny and was a boring to sit through. I could care less about the story, the draw in this movie is duping people, just like it is on the show, and here he does it with mixed results.

Then there is the nude scene. It's just disgusting. Not funny at all. Gross. The only thing I thought was funny about it was that they crashed a Mortgage Broker's meeting and that the black out rectangle covering Borat's penis was like two feet long. Other than that, watch out. There was a little girl sitting with her mom close to us and I can't imagine how she explained what was going on.

A big disappointment. I can't understand why so many people gave the movie such good reviews. My only answer is that maybe they've never seen the show, and so to them this is new territory. Maybe they aren't aware of how brilliant Borat can be, and that this movie doesn't quite show that.

In all, a bit frustrating because more people will see this movie than the show, and will probably get the wrong impression of his show, which I think is one of the funniest things on TV right now. This movie. . . NOT!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Talent and teaching

There is a Tiziano Ferro song that goes "El que no tiene talento enseña."

Which translates to "He who has no talent teaches."

Which, honestly, the first time I heard it sounded kind of mean. But then I came across a few baseball articles that ran in the same vein. Today I was reminded of it in this otherwise insignificant article about Ryan Sandberg deciding to manage a Cubs minor league baseball team.

The important lines come from Astros manager Phil Garner, who says:

"You're not a very good teacher if you grab the bat and say, 'Watch me take batting practice,'" said Houston's Phil Garner when asked why great players have trouble becoming great managers. "Typically, I have found it is very difficult for extremely talented players because they've never tried to learn to verbalize what they feel.

"That doesn't mean they don't become great coaches, but that's why lesser-talented players become better coaches. It's not an insurmountable task. It's just difficult to learn."

This is a pearl of wisdom and goes back to what Ferro says in his song. The idea is that—and you can see it in action with all the mediocre, unexciting ex-players that manage in pro sports today—those who struggle with learning and executing the intricacies of the game (or whatever it is), have an insight about what it takes to achieve it and therefore give that knowledge to others. Whereas great players, those who have great talents, simply perform. It comes naturally to them. They see a nasty curveball, they hit it hard, and it goes out of the yard. Homerun. Ho hum. A pitcher simply throws his fastball 98 miles per hour and moves on to the next thing.

But for those that really have to learn all these things without the benefit of talent, well, that makes them perfect candidates to teach others because they've had to learn it.

Make sense?

It does to me, and it seems to apply to just about anything in life.

Best Buy and ROWE

A couple of great little articles (a short one and a longer, Time magazine one) on the way Best Buy is revolutionizing the way workers spend time (or don't) at the office.

Instead of being evaluated on how much time you spend at the office, you are evaluated on how much work you actually get done, which is music to my ears. I've always prouded myself as someone who works hard and fast, someone that gets things done. But sometimes I've noticed that it either a) isn't valued or b) simply gets me more work to do, other people's work. Which, in the context of teamwork, is fine. But as an individual, can be a little frustrating. And of course, I am the type of person that would like more flexibility with my time, and with having to come in to the office.

Best Buy's system, which was implemented from down-up, not top down, doesn't have set hours or obligatory meetings. The only thing it measures is whether or not you're getting your work done. Are you? Good, keep at it. So far they've already gotten good returns on the system, as workers' productivity has increased and turnover has been all but eliminated.

Sound too good to be true? Probably is, but it's probably way better than the current system. We'd always find a way to complain about things, about ROWE, but that's just human nature. At least under that system we can just get up, walk out, and go see a movie instead of having to sit and stare at the screen for five more hours.


Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The New Red Herring

I've talked about it a lot, how, back in the days and weeks after 9/11, it was pretty clear who had attacked us. It was a terrorist group based out of Afghanistan. The news repeated it over and over again.





Then, and I remember this distinctly, someone, somewhere, suddenly chirped, "Iraq."

And everyone, myself included, were like "huh?"

Then, slowly, VERY slowly, the news changed:


It was weird, but it kept happening, over and over. Slowly, it evolved:


The next thing we knew, the possibility of invading Iraq wasn't so preposterous after all. The names had been repeated so often, so much, that they almost went hand in hand.

Iraq and Afghanistan

And that was a long time ago. Today, we are talking exclusively about Iraq. Too bad for Afghanistan. Then, yesterday, as I watched the news, I saw a government official defending the shift in "strategy" and stance of the administration. Rumsfeld is out, Bush is on his way out along with the Republicans. All of the sudden, the administration is agreeing with what were once called "ridiculous , anti-American ideas." Now everyone is on the same page, be it because they really believe that Iraq is a quagmire and or because they have no choice strategically, politically.

But all I noticed, with a strange feeling in my stomach, were the words coming out of this government official:


I'm just saying, watch out. In a few years, we may not be talking about Iraq.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Review: Three Nights in August

I had tried to start this book once before, when all the hype was in full swing. I couldn't get past the prologue (or was it the preface? It has both). Either way, I'm glad I plowed through it. Yes, it delivers the promise of showing fans the intricacies, the "pulleys and levers" of the game, of the decisions the manager must make. Writing in the context of a three-game series is also very effective, as the many deviations and side stories make it entertaining.

There is an especially touching scene with Mike Matheny and his wife which I really liked, as well as the heartbreaking description of Darryl Kile's death. That made me bawl.

Anyway, it included some stuff I didn't know, but not a whole lot. If you are a casual fan though, as I think most people are no matter what they think, it will include a lot of fresh information that people didn't know.

Overall, very enjoyable writing, the pace moves briskly, and LaRussa proves to be a very intriguing personality, as well as a few of the players.

Though is was a little annoying to hear the reverence for Pujols, it's the only way to really bring home how much he is in a different class.

Good book, and I'll definitely check out Friday Night Lights, which I meant to read anyway at some point, also by Bissinger.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Review: Flicker

It was OK. Six hundred pages of reading for an OK payoff. Not really a great thing. The writing was decent, not bad at all, but nothing to gush about. The book was published by CRP, which is where I work, so I got it for free. The real reason I read it though is because Darren Aronofsky is going to (at some point) make it into a movie. He’s waiting for it to get away from the DaVinci Code feel that it has, which it definitely does have. It brings up an interesting point I was discussing with a co-worker: the books we carry and publish aren’t all that great. They are mediocre. Nothing special. He compared it to the music industry and how you can find great music you really like in the indi world, but that in books (indie books, which is what we do) you don’t see that. If it’s quality, it will rise to the top eventually. Anyway, I’m glad I’m done with it because this book took way too long. I can guarantee the movie will be WAY better than the book. Next up: Three Nights In August.