Friday, April 04, 2008

TANBR Recommends- April

Between a family emergency and finishing my grad program, there hasn't been much time for TANBR. So instead of getting back into the swing of things by writing about the surging Hornets or Final Four musings like "Joey Dorsey is the new Chris Richard," why not treat a subject right in my wheelhouse? This is some stuff P.T. and I like:


DVD Vending Machines

I know, this starts as a cheap and convenient way to watch a lot of movies and ends with Terminators marching across the rubble of what used to be a nursery. I'm usually chary of replacing people with machines, but if these kiosks around town mean that I can dip into a grocery store drunk at 2:00 AM and pace Beowulf for a dollar, then fuck it. It seems as if Blockbuster's only bargaining chip now is that you can keep the discs without late fees. But why would I rent a movie if I didn't have time to watch it?

Here in Philly, there are two competing companies, so I play their redemption codes off each other. For instance, Redbox has a refer-a-friend program, so every credit card Wifey and I have is a different buddy. And if there's, say, a DVDPlay 75-cent coupon, that means four or five different discounts too. The only problem is that it's getting too popular. On some Fridays the selection is so thin that The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is tempting. Except not really.

Feeling Superior to People Who Eat in Class
You know who you are, crinkling wrappers and aluminum foil while other people are trying to educate themselves. Strolling into class late because of the long line at Cosi. Lacking the tiny bit of willpower needed to wait until six-thirty to eat. And at the same time, I know who I am, looking at my watch, rolling my eyes at your lewd bites, asking "What stinks?" Polite or not, I guess it's a balance any graduate class needs: somewhere between disgusting me and making me hungry.

Black People Owning Jazz-Related Art

Not a cliche.

The Stuff White People Like blog has exploded in the past few months, enough for its proprietor to get a book deal and for even non-hipsters to reference it casually. It's incisive and unforgiving and knowing. But if I were starting a Stuff Black People Like blog (and some people already have), the first entry would be "Owning Jazz-Related Art." (The second would be "Homophobia.")

Admittedly, jazz is the most profoundly Black medium of expression, so I can understand how it's mined for inspiration by scultpors and visual artists. But I dare you to go to any middle-class Black household and not find some Lladro-type figures or Emile Bellet rip-offs inside of five minutes, with some wiry, stilt-legged, bald brothers blowing soulfully into a saxophone. Bonus points if it's one guy on sax, another pounding a piano, and one tangled up in a stand-up bass. Come on, Black people. Aren't there enough stereotypes? It's okay if you don't take this stand with your wall hangings. Landscapes are allowed.

Sound Opinions Podcast
Curated by Chicago Public Radio, the "only rock and roll talk show" pits Chi-Town critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot against each other every week with their patented "buy it, burn it, trash it" scale. The real draw though--especially since these elder statesmen gravitate toward middle-aged rocker steez like Steve Earle--is the interviews. They grab the people music nerds really want to hear from and ask the questions that large media outlets never would. For instance, "Hey, engineer on Revolver, how did you make it sound as if John Lennon was singing underwater?" "Hey, Butch Vig, what did you do when Jimmy Chamberlin disappeared for three days during the recording of Siamese Dream?" It's fascinating stuff and Kot and DeRogatis are content to let their subjects take center stage. After all, they want to hear the explanations as much as we do.

The Crepewalk
This is an obtusely specific recommendation, since few of you can make it out to a nondescript food truck on Spruce and 36th Street. But if you can, grab one of Tommy Michaelopolous' light but filling crepe concoctions. You can expect a long wait as Tommy works his magic, smoothing (homemade daily) batter meticulously across his scalding turntables and yammering on about being "close, personal friends" with the mayor or whatever. However, when you bite into a Cheesesteak or Denver Omelette Crepe, clogged with fresh ingredients and sponged up by its airy wrapping, the wait won't make a difference. The Cheeseburger Crepe is the best deal, a third of a pound of beef chopped up for under five bucks.


Garfield Minus Garfield (

Yeah, it gets predictably old, and, yeah, he's running out of Garfields, but the first time I saw this site, I laughed out loud at my work computer enough that someone checked on me. I particularly love the ones with an empty frame--it adds to the schizophrenia John Arbuckle most definitely lives with. Once we get to a daily installment with just three empty frames, I'll probably drop it from my blog rotation.

Look, I'm not particularly motivated to think about the best highlight of all time, especially when Chris Berman is voicing over truly some of the greatest calls ever. I wasn't terribly interested in who was more Now in July, either. ESPNEWS gives the viewer actual soundbytes from players and coaches. And when they spotlight a certain team, player, or league, they often glean information from local sportswriters knowledgable enough to have an opinion. The only caveat lies in the anchors--Michelle Bonner actually dominates everyone else on the screen, which is saying something. I think ESPN secretly morphed their "Dream Job" series into its own channel, and I'm fine with it. But then, just my luck, when I'm starting to get comfortable with "Gametime," they go ahead and change the format. There's just too much stuff to read on the bottom line now (I'm becoming my father).

Racism during the NCAA Tournament
Kevin Love never takes a play off, while Chris Douglas-Roberts is just physically gifted. Tyler Hansbrough is the hardest-working player on the court, while Mario Chalmers is just a specimen. Sasha Kaun plays the hand he's been dealt, but he's no Derrick Rose, who's simply a freak with the basketball. White people play with heart, Black people play with emotion (thanks, Tank).

Lorenzo Mata looks like a flying monkey from The Wizard of Oz.

I just purchased a suit--I foresee a string of weddings and interviews during the summer/fall--and Macy's completely botched the tailoring job. I'm actually writing to their corporate headquarters in hopes of getting free stuff, but that's neither here nor there. The bottom line is, I had to look at mom-and-pop tailors for the first time. It's pretty expensive for an entire suit, but it's worth it. Also, it's fun to deal with people who have been doing this for fifty-plus years. "You wear your pants that low?!" It's like paying someone to act like my grandmother for fifteen minutes.

Facebook's "People You Might Know" Applet
I'm not particularly interested in adding friends; I generally don't as a rule of thumb. But it'll only get more interesting to browse the current situation of my grammar and high school classmates. "He still hasn't graduated yet? From Our Lady of the Lake? Seriously?" I'm enjoying these last opportunities to view profiles with lax privacy settings before people start getting jobs and beefing up profile security. No, really, I have an exciting night life during the week.
(Ed.- I look forward to our conversations about Yancy Tiblier's profile pictures.)

Ironically Defending Ryan Perrilloux
I know when I go home in mid-May-- if RP's even on the team at that point-- it'll take about twenty words between my Dad and I before the subject of The Next Sixty-Million Dollar Man comes up. My Dad'll stand his ground on the "he's a cancer to the team" argument, and it should be noted that he's maintained this since the "counterfeiting" scandal of January 2007. I'll represent The Video Game Generation (his words) with the viewpoint that he's ultra-talented and booting him from the team would cost us at least two wins and he's got a JaMarcus-like cannon with running ability and that he's basically Vince Young. When, in actuality, I'm of the persuasion that Gary Crowton is sharp and robust enough to mold an offense around any quarterback in our stable, T.C. included. Can the Russell Shepard era begin one season early?

The default screen for my Create-a-Ryan-Perrilloux in NCAA '09.

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