Friday, December 29, 2006

In Honor of Mike Tyson's Latest Arrest

I know that many of you will unfairly remember Mike Tyson for his insane and criminal behavior, supplementing his over-hyped boxing career. But let us not forget that he paved the way for the second greatest sports video game of all time.

So let us dwell on such things.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Holiday Wishes - and may all your Festivi be bright

A Holiday Wish .....Steve Martin

Steve Martin: If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.

If I had two wishes that I could wish for this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace.. and the second would be for $30 million a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account.

You know, if I had three wishes that I could make this holiday season, first, of course, would be for all the children to get together and sing.. the second would be for the $30 million every month to me.. and the third would be for all encompassing power over every living being thing in the entire universe.

And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, first would be the crap about the kids.. second would be for the $30 million.. the third would be for all the power.. and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year for an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought about slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina somebody, I can't think of her name, of course my lovely wife could come, too. She's behind me 100% on this, I guarantee you.

Wait a minute, maybe that sex thing should be the first wish! So, if I made that the first wish, because, you know, it could all go boom tomorrow, and then what have you got? No, no.. the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. No, no, who am I kidding! I mean, theyu're not gonna be able to get all those kids together! I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible! It's mroe trouble than it's worth! So, we reorganize: here we go. First, the sex - we go with that; second, the money. No! We go with the power second, then the money, and then the kids.

Oh, wait, oh geez! I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay.. revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in Hell! That would be the fourth wish! And of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of peace and harmony.

Thank you, everybody.

OK if I can't have any of that stuff, then I'd be happy with the product below.

I'd offer another weekend sketch comedy video related suggestion, but it has been removed from the internet at the behest of Saturday Night Live.
But you know what, we have all recieved a gift already. And it's the kind that will keep giving into the new year and beyond. One that will enlighten, educate, and entertain.
Yes friends, Tom Delay has decided to join the blogosphere. So now we won't have to only rely on his mug shot to see Jesus in him. We'll be able to look right on his blog, chronicling his distaste of Nancy Pelosi and see Jesus there. And with blog posts such as, "Global Warming: It's all Just Hot Air " I'm having a hard time not genuflecting right here and now.
To be, um, fair, Delay makes maybe only 50% of the blog entries. The rest are by other right wing conservatives who may or may not be currently facing indictment.
So Happy Holidays everyone. I hope you're all able to air your grievances before the Feats of Strength.

Friday, December 15, 2006

QB Eagles Should Be in the Hall of Fame

Any boy lucky enough to own a Nintendo Entertainment System can wax poetically about Tecmo Super Bowl. It is unequivocally the greatest sports video game of all time. It was so good it ended the era of side-scrolling football games. It was so good, you didn't pick a defense, you just tried to guess what the other guy would call. It had glitches, superhuman athletes, and frantic button-tapping all in one. And it unleashed a fury a video game athletes, the likes of which we may never see again. Topping that list is Bo Jackson:

The only thing the game was ever missing was an advertisement, but thanks to the sprawl of youtube over every corner of the universe, we have that now as well.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

5 Songs That I'm Ashamed That I Like

Call it the 94.7 list if you will, but we all have songs that we like and are afraid to tell anyone. I'm so afraid to let it be known that I like the following songs, I'm willing to post them on the Internet for all to see.

5. The Fray, "How to Save a Life." It should be noted that two of the songs on this list were featured on Scrubs, thereby altering my initial opinion of the song. This is one of them. Nothing like sappy piano ballads adored by fourteen year olds to get me all sentimental.

4. Chumbawumba, "I Get Knocked Down."

"He drinks a whisky drink

He drinks a vodka drink

He drinks a lager drink

He drinks a cider drink"

A colleague of mine is an actual. Chumbawumba. Fan. She is, seriously. She discussed with me at length about their various albums (they have albums?). She's insane.

Anyway, it drives Mrs. Supercomputer batty that I like this song. Whenever we fight she'll hear this song on the radio, and it's pretty tough to stay mad at someone who's singing the words, "pissing the night away...." with emotion.

(Side note: this song was actually "featured" on Scrubs as well. J.D.'s brain threatens to yell "I get knocked down! But I get up again! You ain't never gonna keep me down!" if J.D. doesn't do something it wants.)

3. Finger Eleven, "One Thing." The only thing I hate worse that modern rock sap-bands are bands that do the whole "Noun-Number" thing. Seriously, it pisses me off. Well, Finger Eleven managed to achieve both with "One Thing."

This was the other Scrubs introduction. Never has there been such a mystery of what a singular obstacle was since what ever "that" was that Meatloaf wouldn't do.

2. Goo Goo Dolls, "Name." This one gets bonus points because I actually called in to request this song on the radio when I was like 13 or something. In my defense, however, this was before I or anyone else knew that they would become the Wussiest Band of All Time. Although with a name like "Goo Goo Dolls" I think we all should have known regardless. But the call was to 101X, not 94.7, so I still have some street cred left, right?

Anyway, I came real close to buying their album, but I just didn't for whatever reason. Thankfully, that'll save me some face. But it still doesn't change the fact that I ashamedly like this song.

I should also note that I tried really hard to learn this song on guitar, but could never get that alternately-tuned slide part down just right. How awesome would I be if I covered this song at a coffee shop? I think I'd be the first person ever to get booed off stage at "The Hideout."

1. Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone." OK here's the thing: I'm not at all ashamed about liking - nay - loving this song. I mean, c'mon, this song absolutely rocks. Kelly Clarkson is pissed about U and what better way to get out her frustration with U than crooning "you had your chance, you blew it ... shut your mouth I just can't take it again and again and again." Not since Trent Reznor's dog died has such vitriol been unleashed on the American public.

Admit it, when you're flipping the radio and this song comes on, you stay. And you listen. And you start singing.

"I'm so moving on, yea-yeah!"

So come on guys, come clean. It's time to break down and admit enjoyment of songs that would normally get you ostracised. There's no judgment here at Dear Mr. Supercomputer.

Friday, December 08, 2006

When you're feeling down and out

When I've had a long day and need a nice pick me up, I go to's Kevin Federline page and read the reviews of his album, Playing With Fire.

Always fun to do.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Why would you want to email a jerk chicken?

They don't deserve it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blue Sky Holiday

I vowed not to bore the loyal Dear Mr. Supercomputer readership with the banal minutiae of my life. And I will (hopefully) not do so in my following description of my day. I had not planned on blogging it until just now. And I promise I will not do this very often. As I said in my original mission-esque statement, there's nothing wrong with blogging about your daily life, it's just that it's not that interesting.

Anyway. This is the stuff they leave out in the Baylor School of Education promotional video.

About 10 minutes into the class day officers step into my room and the room next door and ask everyone to step outside and leave everything where it's at. This almost always means "drug search." And sure enough, they brought in the drug dogs. After about 15-20 minutes of all of us standing in the hall, the kids eyeing each other nervously, the officers are holding two backpacks and cart off two kids, one from my room and one next door - though I have them both in successive classes.

Next period, one of the students and the teacher next door to me get into a SCREAMING match. There was a "colorful metaphor" or two dropped by the student - whom I have in the successive period. In my class the student basically sat and stewed with a "I'm going to destroy you" dedication while she (did I mention, 'she?') did her work.

6th period, a few of my Pre-AP kids had a nice and heated discussion about the famous Monty Hall Math problem, and proposed to do a free-lance project investigating the solution. Love those Pre-AP kids.

7th period rolls around and I'm expecting to see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. And I'm not far off. For outside, maybe 300 yards from the school a barn caught on fire (found this out afterwards), but the wind was blowing towards the school. So you look out the window and this thick black smoke was rolling over the school, looking like the school was or might catch on fire. It never did though. The kids were disappointed.

It wasn't a bad day, by and means, just an odd day, and one of those days that they don't really prepare you for. And I hadn't planned on blogging this until I turned on the car radio and, naturally heard this song:


Kissing Suzy Kolber has a step-by-step solution to the Browns' irrelevence:

"City Of Cleveland Continues To Demand Football Team After Losing Browns In 1996 "

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Things to be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Hope all is well where you are.

In honor of the pilgrims having dinner with the Native Americans, or "Indians" as they were called at the time, here is a list of the five things I am most thankful for in the world.

  1. Coach Dennis Green. For giving us this legendary rant. And giving me the "We are who we thought they were!" joke to run into the ground and make totally unfunny by Christmas.

  2. Elmo. For entertaining Addy when Daddy doesn't feel like being a full time parent that early.

  3. Our World Map Shower Curtain. You don't know how much extra time I've spent on the toilet trying to memorize the names at least 10 African countries. It's harder than naming the Seven Houses of Parliament.

  4. For informing the general public (and those without cable) of wonderful sports-tainment news such as the aforementioned Dennis Green news conference. And of this heartwarming moment about the passing of a legen -- OHIO STATE!!!!!

5. For all the children of the world to join hands and sing in spirit of harmony and peace. Oh wait, that's another holiday list.

5. The 7-11 Coffee Bar. Let's just say that the 7th Coffee-free Card has saved me about $600.

Bonus Thanks to: Kevin Federline. For giving all loser guys hope that they too can get a job as a lowly backup dancer, knock up Brittney Spears (twice), and recieveher alimony checks after the divorce. God Bless us, everyone!

I hope you all have a lot to be thankful for as well.

Monday, November 20, 2006


This past Sunday I was following the Cleveland Browns - Pittsburgh Steelers game via the Internet, frantically pushing refresh every so often. You see, this is how I watch Cleveland Browns games since they are never on TV here. I wish I could blame it on the fact that we live in Texas and get flooded with Cowboys and Texans games, but in truth, there were probably very few parts outside of Northern Ohio and Pennsylvania that would show a match up of 3-6 teams.

Anyway, the Browns' defense played an inspired game. Going into the 4th quarter the Browns were up by a score of 20-10. The Browns' touchdowns were the result of an interception return and a kick return. They had yet to score an offensive touchdown, and they would not score one. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh offense suddenly came alive in the 4th quarter and/or the Browns defense tired or folded depending on how you look at it. Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns in the span of about 5 minutes and ended up winning 24-20 in Cleveland.

There was a point during that 4th quarter that the Steelers were faced with a 3rd and 10. This was at roughly the 13 minute mark, so there was plenty of time left. The Browns had just scored a touchdown and if they could force Pittsburgh to punt, they would hopefully be able to burn enough clock and put the game away. After all, to this point, the Steelers hadn't gotten anything going on offense.

When I saw that the Steelers converted that 3rd down, I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, "here we go again," knowing that it was inevitable that the Browns would give up this game they had in the bag. This was a simple first down play. The Steelers were still deep in their own territory and the Browns were still up by 10 points. But I knew at that point, the Browns would lose.

You see, this is how I follow the Browns now, just expecting them to lose the whole three hours. If they happen to win the occasional game it's a momentary surprise, then a relapse into remembering they are a 3-7 team with no chance of making the playoffs again. But most of the time I just spend dreading this week's loss. It's not fun. I thought sports were supposed to be fun. This is not.

My brothers often blamed my dad for not growing up in New York or Boston, where their teams actually win championships. It is not fun to root for Cleveland any more. I'm not sure that it ever was. I feel like I'm in this abusive relationship and I just keep coming back knowing that I'll get let down again. The only difference is, in an abusive relationship, the abused usually holds out some hope that things will get better. I hold out no such hope. I wish I didn't care about them. I can try to feign indifference, but I don't do it very well.

For you see, not only are the Browns bad, they have become irrelevant. The Oakland Raiders are bad, but people still talk about them, even if it's just for commentators to get all indignant about Randy Moss. But I'd bet 90% of the public doesn't even know that the Browns exist. I asked Mrs. Supercomputer today to name a player on the Browns. She couldn't (though, in fairness, she could probably not name a player on the World Champion Steelers as well). We're to the point that fans are lamenting that their sons are becoming fans of other teams, because the Browns have been irrelevant throughout their entire childhood.

The Browns-Steelers rivalry was at one time, the best in all of sports. These teams and fans hated each other with a passion. They were both blue-collar teams from blue-collar towns who played blue-collar football. Both had a legacy of Hall of Fame players and championships galore. In truth, the Steelers have done their part to maintain this one-time rivalry, but it's hard to maintain a rivalry when only one team wins. The Steelers have won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the two teams. Before winning this nail biter, the Steelers beat the Browns 41-0 on Christmas Eve in Cleveland. By the end of the game there were more Steelers fans than Browns fans in the crowd. This rivalry has devolved into a biannual embarrassment. But looking at the big picture, the Browns are just a weekly embarrassment. I hate the fact that I want them to win so badly.

I know that sports isn't supposed to mean much. Like I said, it's supposed to be good fun, right? Then why do I feel like an alcoholic who can't give up the sauce? I don't feel like I go into a funk when my team loses. At least not for more than an hour. I don't take it out on my kids at school. But I still want so very badly for the Browns or Indians (or to a lesser extent, the Cavs, ironically) to win a championship. Or shoot, just become relevant and get to the playoffs every few years. Right now, they are in purgatory. Or is it me that's in purgatory?

Friday, November 17, 2006

The third in the series of documentaries about over-obsessive nerds.

In terms of strict moviemaking, the documentary Word Play, thoroughly exploring the world of the NY Times crossword puzzle and its addicts, is superior to both Spellbound and Word Wars. It's much more seamless than the other two with pop music and a cascade of celebs ranging from the Indigo Girls, to Bill Clinton, to Jon Stewart, to Mike Mussina. The interview settings are carefully chosen and shot, making for a more visually appealing film - which says a lot considering the general homliness of the NY Times crossword constituents.

As a story though, it's not as heartwarming as the kids in Spellbound, and it doesn't center around characters as bizzare and engaging as Word Wars. Every central character in Word Play was a welf-off caucasian nerd. In the other docs, the nerds were of various races and backgrounds. For that reason I found it as enjoyable as the other two docs, but missing that extra something that has the audience dropping their jaws.

The one thing Word Play has over the other two (besides the celebs), is a look at how the crossword puzzles are made. Will Shortz and his entourage of crossword creators give us an insight to just how dedicated and how bizzare one has to be to get into the business of a "Puzzle Creator."

I'm sure one day we'll see these three wonderful documentaries as part of a box set. Each examine the subject manner with humor and tenderness, with even a little suspense thrown in. I'm not sure what other obsessive games documentaries could chronicle. The first time I see a doc for "Minesweeper" or something like that, the genre will have run its course. But until then, Word Play nicely caps it for now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The best thing to come out of the election yesterday:

I'll refrain from asking why it took so damn long, and simply take solace in the fact that it finally happened. Under a wave of unrest regarding the war, Donald Rumsfeld has finally been removed as Secretary of Defense. I don't know who will replace him, but it would be difficult to find a less competent individual. In fact, he was the initial inspiration for a brainstorm of "Most Incompetent Employee in America."

4-23-06 "I was thinking about prominent figures who simply suck at their job, thereby creating a forum of Worst Employee in America. The people who have the greatest disparity between what they are asked/paid to do and what they actually produce. We're talking the kind of gross incompetence that gets other people

(note: this does not mean who does the least. If that were the case, Darren Dreifort wins going away by doing NOTHING and collecting 10 mil a year.)

So I give you a short and by no means complete list of candidates for Most Incompetent Employee in America.
Please add to it:

Isaiah Thomas, GM New York Knicks
James Carville, Strategist/Spokesman for the Democratic Party
Toby McGuire, Actor
Skip Bayless, ESPN Columnist/Commentator
Scoop Jackson, ESPN Columnist/Commentator
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense
Ricky Davis, NBA Player
Scott Stapp, Musician (former lead member of Creed)
Dr. Phil, "Psychologist""

So despite the fact that it took so long, with civilians and men and women in uniform alike calling for his resignation, Donald Rumsfeld, architect of a military disaster of generational proportions, is currently unemployed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Go vote!

You have access to the information, difficult though it may be to find. Get out there and let your voice be heard. If you like Republicans, there's a doozy of an incumbant to vote for. If you like watered down Democrats with no personality, we've got that. If you like independents who actually speak their mind and straightshoot the public, we've got one of those. And if you like tough Grandmas who promise to give Dear Mr. Supercomputer a raise of $6,000, we've got one of those as well.

With voter turnout projected to be around 36% and split among four candidates, your vote counts more than it ever will. Make use of it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Brought to my attention by Ash:

The new Deftones album (like I said, Ash) contains a track called, "U,U,D,D,L,R,L,R,A,B,Select,Start."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In Abstentia

With the 2006 election approaching quickly and early voting ending today, it's time that Dear Mr. Supercomputer addresses a force more powerful than compound interest: voter apathy.

It's easy to see why there is such voter apathy in the U.S. The political system is messy and often corrupt. Couple that with how little a vote actually counts and voila! Why should anyone bother voting. Or sometimes none of the candidates are appealing.

All of these problems are valid. Corruption is rampant in politics. Lobbyists can buy many votes. It is messy. Yes, the candidates are flawed. And according to Steven Colbert, "Of course your vote counts! It counts .000000949%."

But surely you've heard the old adage, "if you don't vote, then you can't complain." There's truth to that, even if the phrase is located on the back of bumpers across America right next to "Support our troops!," a Jesus fish, and a KASE 101 sticker.

Mrs. Supercomputer was lamenting about how the Green Party (the Supercomputer party of choice) didn't have a candidate and didn't offer an endorsement of any of the five gubernatorial candidates. The Green Party views are very aligned with those of the Supercomputer household. But as I told her, you're never ever ever going to find a candidate that complies with every single one of your beliefs. I told her that even if I ran for office, she would not agree with everything I do. That's what politics are about: concession. That's when politics actually does work. I don't agree with Chris Bell about everything, but I agree with him about enough stuff, that I gave him my endorsement. I don't think he's a great politician in that every time I see him I want to take a nap, but I feel he'll do the best job of any of the five candidates (as he's the only one that even seems intelligent, but that's just me).

If someone wants to make an educated decision to abstain from voting, then that's their decision and I can stand by that (though I find it hard to believe one can make an educated decision about the hundreds of candidates that are vying for the less glamorous positions). But the problem is, people aren't educated about the candidates. The only time we get exposure to them is on either 30 second political ads, which are a waste of time and money, or during a ridiculous hour during which we hear that Carol Keeton Strayhorn wants to Shake Up Austin and doesn't know who the president elect of Mexico is.

My suggestion is this. Texas Monthly Talks has had each of the four candidates on for about an hour each and Evan Smith probes them. There's good information there. It's not a debate that has each candidate trying to just get a catch phrase, one liner, or name recognition out there. It's a lengthy and provocative discussion about the issues the candidates think are important. TMT has all four candidates' interviews archived online here. I've seen three of the four and will catch Kinky this week (though I've already voted).

Will it take time? Yes. Will you get outraged by some of the stuff you hear? I hope so. Will you agree with everything each candidate says? I hope not. I hope nothing more than it will educate you on your decision of who the best governor of Texas would be from 2007-2011, at a time when the state of Texas is at a real crossroads when it comes to immigration, education, and transportation.

The other little bonus of this election is that while your vote is statistically small in stature, because the votes will be divided among four major candidates, and it's an off-year election, it won't take many votes to skew this thing. Just think: if a few more people in Florida voted for Gore (or should I say "successfully voted for Gore") we wouldn't be in this horrendous mess in Iraq.

So go vote. I hope you registered. If you didn't, vote where you voted last time. And know that Democracy in the U.S. isn't perfect, but you can't change things if you don't vote. Hopefully, we'll get to see some great moments like this one in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cheaters never win. Unless of course, they win.

If this is dirt, then I'm a potted plant.

So Kenny Rogers of Detroit was cheating. And was apparently cheating in a similar manner throughout this postseason. The circumstantial evidence is damning to be sure. But my question is this:

Why did Tony LaRussa, manager of the Cardinals - and master of all things anal retentive - not challenge this? Why did he not ask the umpire to even inspect Rogers' hand? Apparently his players were telling him something was funny about the way the ball danced after Rogers released it.

Speculation is that LaRussa is an "Old Baseball Guy" and had enough respect for the ultimate Old Baseball Guy, Tigers manager Jim Leyland, that he let it go after Rogers washed his hand. I have another theory: he just didn't think about it. LaRussa is so anal retentive, he was probably checking the batting splits for his third bench hitter in months that start with an 'R' while all this was going on. LaRussa managed games are brutal to watch: endless pitching changes, talks to the ump, talks to the pitcher, it's killer. My guess is he was so enveloped in whatever miniscule bit of information he was trying to process, he missed the glaring problem right in front of him. He missed the forrest through the trees.

Had Rogers been caught officially, he would have been suspended immediately. That means the Tigers would have had to go to their bullpen immediately and Rogers would have been done for the season. As it stands, Rogers went on to pitch 8 shutout innings and evened the series at 1-1.

On the news of cheating, - the reason internet was created, had an excellent observation on the recent news of NFL standout Shawne Merriman's recent steroids suspension and the media reaction compared to the reaction of the baseball steroids scandal. I'll let Deadspin take it from here.

If you will, a case study:

August 3, 2005: Baseball's Rafael Palmeiro is suspended after testing positive for steroids. From Michael Wilbon: "Oh yes, baseball is facing a crisis. In this current climate of suspicion, is it fair to start looking at any pitcher with biceps with increased skepticism, too? Well, maybe it isn't fair. But that won't stop anyone. And where, exactly, is the commissioner of baseball while such an obvious crisis breaks out? Apparently hiding under his desk."

October 23, 2006: The NFL's Shawne Merriman is suspended after testing positive for steroids. From John Clayton: "The four-game steroid suspension of Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman really comes at a horrible time for the team. Linebacker Shaun Phillips is expected to be out four to six weeks with a calf injury. They've lost linebacker Steve Foley for the season. The only outside linebacker of note is Marques Harris or Nick Speegle, which might the Chargers move Tim Dobbins or Donnie Edwards to the outside."

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Perhaps it is ill fitting to include a play that went against the Cardinals, seeing as they were the ones to prevail in the National League Championship Series against the Mets, but this was one of the best plays you'll ever see. Nevermind the Mets lost the game. Endy Chavez made the most amazing catch any of us will probably ever see.

As a primer, there is only one thing you need to know about each team in the World Series.

St. Louis Cardinals - The worst team to ever get to the World Series? They won a grand total of 83 wins in the regular season. That means they had 81 losses. That means they were barely above average. And in fact, when you look at their strength of schedule, they were probably much worse than average. They played in by far the worst division in baseball. They backed into playoffs, including ending on a 3-9 run to enter the playoffs. They managed one run against the Mets' Oliver Perez in Game 7, even though Perez was one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year: he was given up on by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

If St. Louis wins the World Series, particularly after the Indians missing the playoffs with over 90 wins last year, I'll throw up.

Detroit Tigers - They used to suck really bad. Just a couple years ago, they lost 119 games, an American League record. Now this got them into the World Series:

(If you're not sure what you just saw, you can go here to check it out from the living room view.)

But lest you think this is a total Cinderella story, let's not forget that the Tigers got here in part by spending a lot of money. And there is only one player that remains from that 119 loss season.

Still though, I don't want to sound too cynical. These are two proud franchises with great fan bases who could use a good World Championship. Cards fans are extremely loyal and Tigers fans might stab you if you bad mouth their team. So good luck to both of them. I have no rooting interest as the Cards' victory ousted me from the Baseball Prospectus top 10.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Coaches' Post Game Press Conferences: A reason for living

The Cardinals' coach Dennis Green had a beautiful post game press conference after blowing a 20-0 lead at home against the Bears.

Other classic coach rants:

Extra points to Dennis for smacking the mic. Still, does anyone else think about how much better life would be if we had youtube + coaches' post game press-conferences when Vince Lombardi was still around?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Shame of a Nation, Jonathan Kozol

Several years ago, I read Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities. While I wouldn't say that book is what made me go into teaching, it sure didn't hurt. Savage Inequalities chronicled the inequities that existed in the American public school system, particularly the contrast between urban and suburban districts. Often the discrepancy on spending on a per student per year basis exceeded $10,000, often more than the urban districts were spending in their entirety. It was an eye opening book to be sure. Students in urban district had to suffer through conditions that made it nearly impossible to succeed. Dilapidated buildings, inexperienced teachers, and lack of access to educational resources were just some of the problems urban students had to face. Any paraphrasing I do would only pale in comparison to the horrors these students were forced to endure. So I'll just leave it at that. But one thing has nagged at me all these years: the lack of a realistic solution.

Over time I was able to convince myself that, like Upton's The Jungle, a mere chronicling of the conditions could be enough to spark change.

Kozol's Shame of a Nation essentially describes the status of public education since then. We've seen sweeping education reform at the federal level in Bush's No Child Left Behind Act. The goal was to close the gap between rich and poor students by stringent standardized testing enforcement. There wasn't much of a road map, but the message was clear to troubled schools: perform poorly and we will shut you down. Kozol contends in Shame that opposite of the intended effect has taken place. Students in troubled schools are now forced to cancel art and music to ensure better test scores in Reading and Math.

Republicans in Texas, and I assume across the nation, contend that a slight uptick in test scores at the elementary level indicate real progress. While I do believe that even poor accountability is better than no accountability, Kozol is absolutely right in his assertion that the quality and breadth of education is suffering under NCLB. Teachers are handicapped and students in troubled and generally urban schools, aren't afforded the "extras" anymore.

The problem with Shame is essentially the same problem I had with Savage Inequalities: Kozol spends so much time telling the reader how awful things are, he rarely introduces a reasonable solution. Shame goes a bit farther in Kozol's editorializing however. Occasionally, he'll go on three or four page rants, posing hypothetical question after hypothetical question. And as a reader who agrees with him on probably every major issue, I find myself combative and defensive while reading it.

Kozol is skeptical of every means of education reform he puts forth: small schools, technical schools, charter schools, etc. His contention - and I wholeheartedly I agree mind you - is that schools are as segregated now as they were before Brown v. Board of Education. So his solution is to reinstate mandatory integration.

As simple as that sounds and as effective as it would be, I simply don't see how that could ever happen in today's political landscape. Kozol's solution is to attack the problem politically, restocking the federal courts with progressive judiciaries. That would be great mind you, but that will take years, and possibly generations to do. He contends that it's taken us 40 years to reverse the progress made by Brown and I intend it will take us at least 40 more to get us back on track.

Until then? I believe our only near term solutions are in these education reforms. Right now there's loads of money out there from the private sector (read: Bill and Melinda Gates) for schools willing to try something different. I am a part of the New Tech High network of schools, trying something different to make education more relevant to today's students. Much of the funding we're receiving is from the private sector, which Kozol seems wary of.

Don't get me wrong: Kozol's books are groundbreaking, eye-opening, and on rare occasions, life affirming and I respect and admire him more than maybe any author in America. I just wish he would not dump on education reform. And perhaps he did not intend to, but the fact is, he puts every implementation of reform in a negative light, while not presenting the reader with instances of success. While many of these innovations may not succeed, the alternative is to keep doing what we're doing. And Kozol has now written two books telling us how that's not working.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

St. Elmo is Lloyd Doggett Territory

We here at Dear Mr. Supercomputer just can't seem to get off of this redistricting thing. It's so two years ago, I know. But tonight, I promise that we intend to conclude it here and now. The reason for this last visitation is that as I'm looking through my voting information, I found out where exactly the line is for my Congressional district, 25. Here's the view of this geographical absurdity.

I'm in that sort of beige one. I recently heard it endearingly referred to as a "fajita strip." So at the Northern end is Austin, and at the Southern end is the Rio Grande. Meanwhile, district 28 also occupied part of Austin (as does 10, and 21, and... well, you see what was done to the only bastion of liberalism in Texas). But where exactly is the line that divides district 25? Here:

That red arrow represents our house. The division between the pink and the beige is less than 100 feet from where I live. So our neighbors just down the street, I do not vote with them. Instead I vote with citizens in Mission, TX, 300 miles away.

I do not feel as if I need to add any more commentary on this. On my district or any of the other Texas districts.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Gee, I Wonder If Carol Keeton Strayhorn Wants to "Shake Up Austin."

The fact that polls show that incumbent governor Rick Perry is only garnering about 35% of the vote shows how vulnerable he is. The fact that only 10-20% of eligible voters will probably vote this November shows how important your vote is.

Tonight was the only opportunity for Texans to watch all four major candidates (the Libertarian candidate is suing for not being invited) for Texas governor debate. Moreover, it was placed on a night where many Texans are watching High School football or gearing up for a college football game tomorrow. Even more silly, it's an hour long. Now, I'm no Math teacher but even if the moderators don't speak, that just 15 minutes per candidate. It's not ideal. I think I speak for everyone when I say that more debates should be mandated. Make it a law. Make it a real debate, not a narrow time frame where the candidates are just trying to get a neato catch phrase thrown in.

That said, it's all we have. So I watched it and was struck by a few things. And here they are.

  • Kinky Friedman. Surely, Kinky was the main attraction. Everyone wanted to see how he'd do. And sadly, he really wasn't really up to the task of a formal debate. Let's just say it's not his thing. In his defense, he spent half the time answering questions about his validity as a candidate. There he was, dressed in black with a cowboy hat and smoking a cigar (I guess they don't have a no-smoking ordinance in Dallas?). He had to answer questions such as, "How can you be governor while smoking that cigar?! Think of the children!" It's hard to take anyone seriously when he's asked questions like that. If Rick Perry had to answer questions along the lines of "C'mon, you're not seriously running for governor. Are you?" he would have looked flustered as well. As for Kinky, he did his best to present himself as an outsider, like voters need that reassurance. He eloquently noted that "poly" means "many" and "tics" are a parasite. His last statement seemed entirely unprepared like he didn't know it was coming. How do you not have a closing statement prepared! I should say, he did end it nicely, suggesting that "the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician is concerned about the next election, while a statesman is concerned about the next generation." Meanwhile, Rick Perry had the "I can't believe I'm sharing the same stage as him" look.
  • Carol Keeton Strayhorn wants to "Shake up Austin." I didn't count how many times she said that damn phrase. My estimate? Probably 12. That's impressive since she probably had only about 8 minutes to speak.
  • Chris Bell makes Al Gore look like the Rolling Stones. I cannot believe this is the most dynamic candidates Democrats could put forth. Remember that scene in the Simpsons where someone rushes in to tell Al Gore that someone purchased his book, followed by Al Gore saying monotonously, "this is cause for a celebration," followed by him sitting silently still while "Celebrate Good Times" is being played? If you gave Bell an electroshock he would have been that exciting. Don't get me wrong, I like him and thought he did well, and will probably vote for him at this point, but it's incredible how absent he's been throughout this campaign season and how droll he was on TV. He made several excellent points and honestly, looked more composed and gubernatorial than Rick Perry. If Democrats knew how to actually run a campaign, or be relatable, he could wind up winning this thing.
  • Rick Perry is a douchebag. I'm sorry he is. He got all indignant about how Kinky uses politically incorrect language and how he sets a bad example. I can't believe no one referred to "Adios, mofo."
  • The round of total bullshit Texas sociological questions. What the hell was this??! Each candidate had 15 seconds to respond to questions to questions such as these:

To Kinky Friedman: "What is the average tuition at the University of Texas?"

To Rick Perry: "What was the electric bill at the governor's mansion last month?"

To Chris Bell: "In what year was the battle of the Alamo?" What the fuck!!!! Is this a a debate or Texas History versus Who Wants to be a Millionare?! To Bell's credit, he got it right.

To Strayhorn: "Who was recently elected president of Mexico?" OK, maybe this round was enlightening: she didn't know!!! Strayhorn said something along the lines of "he narrowly won the election and ... umm... in a Strayhorn administration we would ... work together to combat illegal immigration." She didn't know!!! How could she be the governor of Texas if she doesn't know who the President of Mexico is?!?! Yikes. Probably the highlight of the evening.

  • Kinky Friedman agreeing with Chris Bell, to the point where I think he might vote for Bell. Two instances. First, there's a round where the candidates are supposed to ask questions to each other. It think it was naturally assumed that questions were supposed to be actually directed towards the candidates. However, Kinky's question to Chris Bell was, "What do you think of Rick Perry only agreeing to do one debate?" The other instance was a comment by Chris Bell regarding education to which Kinky replied, "I have nothing to rebut." At this point no one's taking him seriously.

At the end of the night, I don't think an hour debate is going to really change anyone's mind about anything. I think Strayhorn should get hammered for stumbling during the "trivia round" but in truth, the people voting for her probably don't care. Perry didn't really do a whole lot, not that he really could have I don't think. It's understandable why he doesn't want to debate any more. Chris Bell finally got face time, which he needs more than anything else. I still can't believe he's the Democratic candidate in a year when Perry is amazingly vulnerable. And Kinky, well, he's Kinky. I hope he does this again sometime.

At this point, my vote would look like this:

  1. Bell
  2. Friedman (he's not Rick Perry)
  3. Perry
  4. Grandma

If you have thoughts and opinions about the debate or the race in general, let's hear them. And register to vote! (Kinky is absolutely right that it's ridiculous we have to register a month before the election.)

Dear Mr. Supercomputer is now part of the Baseball Prospectus empire!

OK, not really. But we did manage to get some face time in the recent BP marathon chat-session hosted by Marc Normandin - roughly around hour three. Astute readers will be able to find two other Dear Mr. Supercomputer entries under alternate names. (This is in addition to being in BP's Predictatron Top 10 at present.)

Major props to Marc Normandin for going at it for over four hours (still going on as we speak). GK had to take the day off due to an Addy-sitting conflict and it really helped pass the time.

"I'm somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity - your name in print - that makes people. I'm in print! Things are going to start happening to me now!"

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Lord, let them see Jesus in me."

This is how Tom Delay explains his mug shot in an interview with Fox News' Brit Hume. And I think if we all look closely, we can see a little bit of Jesus in there.

Keeping with Dear Mr. Supercomputer's tradition of commenting on news two years after it breaks, last night I watched a PBS Bill Moyers examination of the Jack Abramoff scandal (Moyers on America: Capitol Crimes), which featured Congressman Tom Delay (R-Sugarland, TX) as a prominent player. While I knew that the scandal was bad, I didn't realize how blatant it was. I thought it was a "Whitewater" kind of scandal: so complicated I'd never understand the depths of it. While that still may be true, you don't have to know a lot to see how egregious Delay's offense was. Allow Dear Mr. Supercomputer to break it down for you.

Remember this monstrosity?

Well, it created all these strange new congressional districts that Republicans were supposed to (and did) win. Texas congressional candidates are by law, disallowed to accept money from corporate institutions. So, as if the genetically mutated gerrymandered districts weren't enough, Delay and Abramoff concocted a scheme in which corporations (Indian tribes, credit card companies, energy plants not in Texas, etc.) gave money to Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action committee. TRMPAC then gave the money to organizations established by Abramoff and others like U.S. Family Network, who, in turn, donated the money to the candidates created by these strange looking new districts. That, guys from Office Space, is what it means to launder money.

But you know what, I sort of knew the gist of that, and you probably did too (we at Dear Mr. Supercomputer have very educated readers, you know). But I found the following offense particularly egregious even though Tom isn't being indicted for it.

The marina Islands have been a U.S. territory wince World War II. However, it did not adhere to the same immigration policies, minimum wage, or other labor policies that we enjoy here in the U.S. Therefore, sweatshops opened up, and they began importing immigrant indentured servants. Neo-conservatives hailed the marina Islands as a laissez-faire paradise. Nevermind the 12-hour days by laborers who could print "Made in the USA" for the Gap. Abramoff had the government in Saipan pay for Delay and others to visit this tropical paradise. "You represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America," Delay said to the most prominent sweatshop owner, who had paid the largest labor-fine in U.S. history for working conditions. Workers were forced to have abortions, which is astounding when you consider Tom Delay's stance on abortion. So Delay and his friends had a nice all expense paid trip to the Pacific and toasted the owners of these sweatshops.

In 2000, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill that would have extended labor and immigration policies to the Marianas. However, Tom Delay, majority whip of the House, never let the bill see the light of day, and there, it died, never voted on. DeLay later blocked a fact-finding mission planned by Peter Hoekstra by threatening Hoekstra with the loss of his subcommittee chairmanship.

So I guess my question is this: why did this person keep getting elected year after year? Are the people in Sugarland really that... uninformed? Could no Democratic or Independent challenger turn this into an issue? Are Dems and Inds that resigned?

It was a pretty disheartening program to watch as far as faith in politics goes. That money and trips could influence a politician's agenda so dramatically is beyond me. That Sugarland never gave Tom Delay the boot is also beyond me.

So let's all watch tomorrow's Texas gubernatorial debate and try to get the political process back on track. With four candidates though, an hour isn't going to give us a whole lot of insight.

More importantly, if you haven't done so, be sure to register to vote BY OCT. 10TH!!! You can print out your voter registration here and mail that to your Voter Registration Official.

Get out and vote! I don't want to have to see Jesus in any more mugshots.

(You can watch the Moyers program, in its entirity online from this link. The aforementioned Marianas section is "Chapter 2.")

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Driving down the road without realizing your left blinker is on is the automotive equivalent of having your fly open.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"But God I Like It"

There comes a point every other year or so, where I become convinced that I've pretty much heard all that I'm going to hear. Things begin to feel recycled or overplayed. It's at that point that I'll hear an album that reinvigorated my belief that music is boundless and that there's always new places to explore. It's kind of amazing when you think about it. As humans, we've been creating music for thousands of years and it's hard to believe that there's still anything to explore. But sure enough, bands are still finding new ground. A couple years ago, it was the Arcade Fire's Funeral. This year it's Return to Cookie Mountain from TV on the Radio, to whom I compared Arcade Fire in my recent ACL Fest writeup.

Stylistically, the two aren't that similar. TV on the Radio is much less straightforward and much more subtle. That said, both share that same combination of creativity, rhythm, and anger, captured nowhere better in Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"

and TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me".

It's rare to find bands that can convey this kind of emotion without simply devolving into a melodramatic caricature of anger-bands.

"Wolf" is probably the most immediately accessible track on TVOTR's recent Return to Cookie Mountain. The album begins with what sounds like a broken hip-hop track in "I Was a Lover" in the same way that Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" sounds like Rock and Roll falling apart. "I was a lover, before this war" is the first, and probably best line of the album. Followed by the ominous "Hours," the album is unpredictable even after listening to it multiple times.

Perhaps the highlight of the album creatively is "Dirtywheel," which AMG describes as a combination of "girls and hurricanes." The darkness and anger are most prevalent in "Blues From Down Here." The album concludes with an 8 minute barrage of noise in "Wash the Day," replete with anthemic lyrics and guttural shouts.

It's tough to imagine where TVOTR will go next, but it's just as well. Return to Cookie Mountain will take a while to fully digest. A

(p.s. If you haven't gotten enough "Wolf Like Me" here's an awesome live performance with decent sound and captures the energy this band puts out.


I have no idea who the girl is. Cat Power?

Anyway, I can't get enough of this song. Song of the year.)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Racist everyman, what have you done?

I found the following test from Malcom Gladwell's Blink. It's a book about the unconsious, split second judgements that guide our descisions.

None of us think they are racist. And in truth, most of us aren't. But what about the unconsious prejudices? Take the following test. Go to, the demonstration, the "Race IAT" and let's be honest about our scores, shall we? Take it twice. I did. After a few of us have taken the test I'll share my results.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I am wasted, but I'm ready

As promised, what follows is my second retroactive diary of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Perhaps “posthumous” is a better word.


(8:00 AM) At home. There’s nothing like skipping work. Am I right. It gets to be 9:05 and I note during an appropriate silence, “we’re not at work today.” ACL or not, it’s all about not working. John G is on his way down supposedly. I seem to remember him saying this a couple years ago and he made us dreadfully late. Ash is coming over at 11:00 and the three of us, plus Kelly – an ACL virgin – will be headed to Zilker Park via bus in order to get there in time to see the Benevento Russo Duo who go on at 11:30.

Man, we are such dorks.

(11:30) Benevento Russo Duo. Ash recommended this one. It’s nice to have a Rhapsody fanatic to scout out the bands ahead of time. We gave Ash much grief for the Dandy Warhols debacle a few years ago. He’s definitely in the hole from that one but he digs himself out a bit with this show. It’s an instrumental duo who are somehow able to get a huge sound out of just two guys. There’s a drummer and a keyboarder, but it truly sounds like a five-person band. It’s a good, low key way to start the festival. B.

(12:30) Paolo Nutini. He’s apparently the Scottish version of Ryan Cabrera. He alternates toe-tapping hooks and ultra-sap ballads. It’s fun to be here and not at work. The show is going along fine until he breaks out a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” which breaks every rule in the cover book. A cover should
A) be at least 10 years old,
B) not have achieved full greatness by its originators,
C) not be played at the same festival as the originators, and
D) not be played on the same stage as the originators in a couple hours.
Nutini gets serious demerits for this atrocity. Ash thinks he sounds like Chris Martin. I think he sounds like Damien Marley. He’s got a Spanish name. He’s Scottish. We’re all very confused here. C-.

(1:30) Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Ah, energy. Ted Leo offers his patented brand of power pop and excitement to the ACL early goers. “Me and Mia” is a song that was created to be played live. Even after that, “Biomusicology” and “Timorous Me” offer the highlights of the day. The last song is awkwardly unfulfilling though, as Ted Leo goes into a political rant, and then bashes himself in the head with the microphone until he bleeds. This will be a running theme throughout the festival. A-.

(2:30) Deadboy and the Elephantmen. John G is loathe to stay but he manages to stick around for a few songs. They have such chipper titles as “What the Stars Have Eaten” and “Stop, I’m Already Dead” and head bobbing lyrics such as, “I’ve got hell in my hand.” I can’t really say why I enjoy it. In fact, I’m not sure if I’m enjoying it or not. It’s dark, not very energetic, and after a couple songs, I’m by myself. I’ll see how John G’s doing at Guster. B-.

(3:00) Guster. The exact opposite of Deadboy offers bright and shiny hooks and lots of bare-tummied college girls. There’s not much to do with this music live though. C-.

(3:30) Wolf Parade. Interesting use of technology. Also interesting use of the mustache. C.

(4:00) Stars. We’re only there about two minutes before the lead singer goes into a rant about how we should all “smoke a spliff” the day George W. Bush is replaced. He then talks about how we should kill him by having sex with him or something like that. Then he messes up the beginning of the song. It’s pretty uncomfortable. Strong words coming from a Canadian. Stuff like that just sounds weak nowadays. We get out of there before it gets worse. D-.

(4:30) Gnarls Barkley. The great divide sends myself to Gnarls and the rest of my party to Nickel Creek. Gnarls and the band come out with lab coats and bow-ties and promptly informs us that Gnarls Barkley can’t be here but they’ll try to play a few of their songs. I must admit, they know their music. Not only do they cover “Gone Daddy Gone” on their album, they play a random Doors cover. There are so many people there it’s hard to move the first half of the concert but eventually I find room further forward. Once the infectious and Song-of-the-Year “Crazy” starts the whole place starts moving. And when it’s over the whole place starts clearing out. It’s a shame for them though, as the best song of the performance is probably the neo-soul “Smiley Faces.” This was the big act for me today at ACL and I walk away satisfied and wishing I could see them again at a smaller venue. B-.

(5:30) Gomez. One of the best shows of the weekend. Gomez delivers mega-energy considering it’s like 112 degrees and 160% humidity. The crowd is also very much into it. A.

(6:30) John G and I leave to catch a bus. We’re on our way to dinner and a Sufjan Stevens show at the Paramount. Dinner consists of a salad bar at Hickory Street Grill. I don’t tell him that it got a black mark from the health department a few years ago.

(9:00) My Brightest Diamond. OK, Jonathan and I are hot, dirty, and cranky, I realize. But this is just brutal. Opening acts should not play that many songs and we are both on the verge of falling asleep. The only thing that keeps us awake is this really awful song called “Freak Out” sung in the same way that a really loud rat would sound getting snapped in a rat trap. F.

(10:20) Sufjan Stevens. After what seems like an eternity, Sufjan comes on stage and it’s worth every minute, every dollar, every dreary song about sparrows from MBD. Sufjan and the band are wearing wings. His live performances echo his techniques from his album. Layer after layer of instrumentation until the song becomes a powerful wall of sound. Devotees will appreciate a “Dear Mr. Supercomputer” overture. It’s so good it hurts. It’s one of the only concerts where I felt like weeping because it’s so beautiful, like the crazy teen in American Beauty. He begins the set with the rousing, “Sister” and closes with the even more rousing “Chicago.” “Palisades” is my personal favorite thanks to the lush tapestry of the closing refrain. His encore performance consists of “John Wayne Gacy Jr.” and “That Dress Looks Nice.” It’s wonderful. A+.

(12:00 AM) John G and I are hoping and praying that the bus in fact comes this late. Thankfully it does. Later we find out that had we missed that bus, we would have been stranded downtown. That would not have been cool.


(12:30) Frederico Abuele. There’s nothing that I’m dying to see in the morning but Ash wants to see this Argentinian character. Again, it’s a nice way to start the morning, with some smooth South American rhythm. B-.

(1:50) I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness. It’s always strange to see a local band you’re not too familiar with at a festival. ILYBICD play around town all the time and I’ve never heard them until now. They produce a nice sound and have a couple really excellent anthems in their bag of tricks. C+.

(2:30) Ben Kweller. OK, so Kweller is late getting on because he says he had a pretty vicious nosebleed right before going on stage. So he starts off with “Wasted and Ready” and everyone’s happy. Halfway through his third song the nosebleed reappears with a vengeance. He has to stop in the middle of it because his face and clothes are covered in blood and it’s not stopping any time soon. He asks the audience for a tampon. Sure enough, he gets one and shoves it up his nose. He proceeds to play through an entire song with a tampon up his nose. He wraps up his set, just four and a half songs in, with “Falling” due to the massive bleeding occurring before our very eyes. We are all in shock. B for playing through the bleeding.

(4:00) TV on the Radio. This is one of the best performances I’ve seen. If anyone was searching for “the next Arcade Fire,” this would be my candidate. The combination of anger, excitement and creativity make for an awesome show. The entire band is animated and their song “Wolf Like Me” provides the highlight of the festival thus far. Check it out at their myspace page. You won't be sorry. A+.

(5:00) The Shins. Me texting Ash: “Where r u?” Ash texting me: “the shins im bored.” Me: “me 2.” C-.

(5:30) Calexico. Never fail to impress. Calexico is a band I could see live every month. A.

(6:30) The Raconteurs. I get dragged away from What Made Milwaukee Famous for this. I heard from a couple difference sources that WMMF was one of the better performances of the festival, but everyone wants to see Jack White. So we do. For three whole songs. Once they play “Steady As She Goes” we vacate. INC.

(7:15) Brazillian Girls. This is our first inside-the-tent performance of the festival. It’s brutally humid and sweaty in there, which fits perfectly for what can only be described as rave music. Kids are sweating dancing and having a great time. There’s mega-energy in the place. It’s just hard for me to get into this without my wife or some ecstasy. I’m not much good without either of those things. Somehow I get John G to leave with me. It should be mentioned the lead singer is wearing a cloth facemask. A, based on Ash’s review.

(8:45) Explosions in the Sky. There’s nothing quite like some good instrumental crescendo rock, particularly if it’s a local band. They do a good job of selling the music too, flinging and stomping on their instruments. At the end the crowd is begging for an encore, but EITS refuses. Here’s the weird part, they come out to tell us that they won’t be doing an encore. You simply cannot cock-tease a crowd like that. C.

(9:00) Willie Nelson. This is a nice way to end an exhausting day. John G and I pull up a blanket and sit for a while, humming along with such favorites as “Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again.” New highlight of the festival:
Random Three-Fourths Nude Seventeen Year Old: Hey, are you 21?

Greer: Um. Yeah.

RTFNSYO: Will you buy me a beer?

G: I have to go.

If only. B+ for the RTFNSYO, C- for John G, and C+ for Willie.

And this is where it ends. For you see, Sunday it was time for me to stay home with Addy while Steph got to enjoy the festival. It’s a shame too, because all reports are that the Flaming Lips and Matisyahu were excellent. But it does allow me a day of rest. On Monday I’m not in too bad shape. I can make cohearent thoughts and noises. I’m not totally burned to a crisp or hung over. I had an awesome time Friday and Saturday listening to live music and got to spend Sunday watching football and Addy. It’s not a bad way to get by.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Does this make me crazy?

The eve of the ACL Fest is my modern day equivalent of the Night Before Christmas. But instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, it's What Made Milwalkee Famous. Few events are able to combine awesome music, skipping work, god-awful heat, hippie-stink, and sheer exhaustion so effectively as the Austin City Limits Music Fest.

Devotees will recall last time I went to ACL in 2004, I did everyone the immense favor of writting a retroactive web-log, or blog, if you will. This was back when Dear Mr. Supercomputer was just a gleam in this blogger's eyes. I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the highlights, lowlights, and contact highs of that year.

"(1:00 PM) The Killers. I’m not sure who slotted The Killers at one in the afternoon. Still, The Killers make the most of it. They deliver a very energetic performance. They’re an interesting mix of modern rock with 80’s new wave. I bet Steph would love this. …B"

Wow. This should tell you how far the Killers have come since then in terms of popularity. No way do they play a 1:00 set on Friday. The crowd then was still rather sparse. If I had wanted to I could have walked up to the front of the stage. Try that now, and you'll get mauled by about 6000 emo kids. They have grabby hands.

"(8:00) Gomez. The first truly knockout show. While all the kiddies are over at Franz Ferdinand, there’s another modern rock band from Europe playing a kickass show. Starting the set with the ominous “Get Miles” leads beautifully into their more guitar-driven licks. “Silence” sounds great, but “Shot Shot” offers the best festival moments to date. Their energy is ferocious. To think these guys are playing again in a few hours for an ACL after-show is mind-boggling. …A+"

I'm seeing Gomez again this year, but I'm awfully trepedacious. An underwhelming album and a brutal web-cast performance from Bonaroo leave me wary. Maybe I should skip out and let the awesome 2004 show live on unblemished. I am sad I never got to see Franz Ferdinand before they made it prohibitively big.

"(7:00) Monte Montgomery. As Kai trots off to fight amongst middle school girls for a good spot at Dashboard Confessional, Greer and I head over to see Monte Montgomery. I’ve put off seeing him for too long now. This guy makes Eric Johnson look like the Kingston Trio. Monte produces a sound out of an acoustic guitar that still makes me scratch my head. It’s complex, creative, and flawless. …B+"

Really, I just thought it was funny to remember that Kai came down to see Dashboard Confessional (pictured here, apparently Living Life 100%).

"(2:30) The Roots. It’s always great to have that one Rap group at the ACL Festival. Last year it was Spearhead. The Roots offer a welcome change of pace to the onslaught of rock groups. These guys are both lyrically and musically very talented. This is probably the most white people The Roots have ever played for. …B"

This year, it's Gnarls Barkley. I wish I had kept a journal after that Spearhead show. It would have probably been something like this: "MAN! THAT WAS THE BEST SHOW EVER!!!! HOLY CRAP I WAS SO F---ING BLOWN AWAY!!! THAT SHOW WAS THE S---!!! MAN! MAN! MAN! I AM A GOLDEN GOD!!!" By the way, I'm about 80% sure I got a contact high during that set.

"(3:15) I have found the best-kept secret at the ACL Fest: Curra’s Veggie Tamales. Anyone who’s ever been to Curra’s Grill in Austin knows that it has the best tamales around. Well, at ACL they were three for $3! Nowhere else can you get a filling meal for just three bucks. Even the smoothies are $4!"

I just need to remind myself where the cheap food is.

"The Day After - (7:30 AM) That alarm sound is telling me that it’s time to get back to normal, everyday life. What a terrible sound. I wonder how conspicuous I’ll look with my face all beet red since I took Friday off. I don’t even bother grooming this morning. No shave. Untucked polo shirt. The comfortable khakis that I’ve had since High School. I know I’m in for what will seem like the longest week of my life, but it’s easily worth it. I was able to check out a lot of bands that I never would have otherwise. I was able to check out bands that I’ve always wanted to see. I drank a lot of overpriced beer that was well worth it in the heat of the day. I feel miserable. What a glorious miserable."

Yeah that just about sums up the ACL experience of the day after.

At $100 or so, I still feel that ACL Fest is one of the best deals around. Sure, it's more like $150 after all the extra stuff you have to pay for. But year in and year out, the ACL bookers have such a great mix of up-and-comers, mid-level acts, and surefire Hall of Famers. I mean, who the hell were the Killers just two years ago? Now they would charge $50 just to see them by their pretensious little selves.

It's almost like a little vacation from reality just as the school year is starting to get monotonous.

So in order to get excited, I have an inspiration pre-game speech from High School football coach Jim Cantifio who as Every Day Should be a Saturday puts it, is "displaying the signs of a man who has just slipped into tertiary syphilitic madness."

Let's get fired up! Do you have any pride?!!

Do you?! Danny!

Monday, September 11, 2006


It's kind of old news, but the visual monstrosity is new to me. A couple years ago, Tom Delay and the Texans for a Republican Majority created a new district map for Texas. Here it is.

Three words: "What. The. Fuck." How is it constitutional or even ethical to carve up a state like this? I know it's hard to see - get the big view here. My personal favorite is 10, which begins in North Central Austin and stretches all the way to the suburbs of Houston. Since they have so much in common. In fact, Austin is basically carved up like a Thanksgiving Turkey. District 25 includes South Austin and also borders the Rio Grande River. Naturally. The entire state is carefully cut in such a way that even though there are nothing but Republicans in office, it will probably stay that way forever.

I mean, could there be an example of disenfranchising voters be as blatant as this? OK, maybe this.

Friday, September 08, 2006

"He's the Zissou."

Tonight I'm continuing with the Wes Anderson motif, choosing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. While not as brilliant and funny as The Royal Tenenbaums, as thought provoking as Rushmore, or as charming as Bottle Rocket, Zissou is terribly underrated as far as Wes Anderson films go. I think it's simply because it was his first independent film. Kind of like how some people were disappointed by Death Cab for Cutie's Plans, conveniently ignoring the fact that it's better than almost all of their independent albums.

I would maintain the scene with the Jaguar Shark is probably the finest one he's ever shot.

And in honor of Royal Tenenbaums, here's a sampling of my favorite Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum quotes:

Chaz: “What are you doing? You’re on my team?”
Royal: “There are no teams!” (*shoots son*)

“This is my adopted daughter, Margot Tenenbaum.”

Chaz: “Did you at least feel the characters were well developed?”
Royal: “What characters? It’s a bunch of little kids running around in an animal costume.”

“I’ve missed the hell out of you my darlings.”

“I’m sorry for your loss. Your mother was a terribly attractive woman.”

“Come on, let’s shag ass.”

“Oh that’s right, we’ve got another body buried here.”

“Hell of a damn grave. Wish it were mine.”

“I’m not talking about dance lessons. I’m talking about putting a brick through the other guy’s windshield. I’m talking about taking it out and chopping it up.”
Speaking of Bill Simmons, his latest column contains the following nugget that my wife will surely appreciate. In announcing that his wife will be correspondingly making picks, he offers this (really poignent part in paragraph 2):

"Here are her credentials: She knows nothing about football. More importantly, she hates football. She's been counting down the weeks to the 2006 season the same way somebody looks forward to hernia surgery. It's not the sport as much as me. She knows I'm out of commission for the next 21 Sundays and 16 Monday nights. She also knows that my number of made/received phone calls quintuples during the season, which means she has to hear "the annoying voice," as she calls it.

(Note: Apparently my voice becomes 10 times more grating when I'm discussing football with my buddies on the phone. I'd like to think my voice is always grating, but she insists that it goes to another level during any NFL-related conversation. She describes it thusly: "It's like being trapped on an airplane next to someone who's screaming on a cell phone right before the plane's about to take off. Only it happens for three hours a week from September to January." I'm not saying this is true or untrue, but she believes it, and that's the important thing.)"

Steph understands Mrs. Simmons' pain.

Non-football related posts to come this weekend.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I am ready for some football. Please stop yelling at me, sir.

Aaaaannnnd....we're back. I'm excited about Charlie Batch. You're excited about Charlie Batch. Steph's at work. The reigning Super Bowl champs are on TV, and I need something to occupy my brain in between plays and the endless string of Coors Light commercials. Shamelessly ripping off Bill Simmons, I kept a running diary. So let's go to the game tape.

  • I personally was not "roused" by the introduction of Jerome Bettis.
  • When they allow the players to introduce themselves at the beginning of games they all follow the format of "Name, Position, College." Like "Chris Chambers, Wide Reciever, Wisconsin Badgers." It's gotta be real embarassing when the player has to use his high school instead of his college.
  • On that note, what would Maurice Clarett have said? "Maurice Clarett, Running Back, The Ohio State University that paid me, then stabbed me in the back, and then I went out in a bullet-proof vest to go hunting people with hatchets." I bet he wouldn't say that.
  • Let's just remember this about Charlie Batch: he was supplanted by Joey Harrington. And now he's starting for the Super Bowl Champs.
  • Something for the non-football fans out there: I've done a lot of thinking and at this point in the year, Gnarls Barkley is my favorite album thus far this year. Expect a full write up from yours truly. I know you're all a titter.
  • Hmmm...let's see, what saddens my heart most? A) The Patriots winning several Super Bowls with the Browns' ex-coach, B) the Baltimore r*vens winning the Super Bowl with the Browns' ex-team, or C) the Pittsburgh Steelers winning the Super Bowl with the Browns ex-assistant coach?
  • You know what this world needs? More inspirational football movies. Thank you, The Rock.
  • Wait a sec, Peyton and Eli Manning have an older brother who’s not in the NFL? His father was an NFL Quarterback. Both of his brothers are NFL Quarterbacks. I don’t care who you are or who your family is, there is no one in more hell at Thanksgiving than the eldest of the three Manning boys.
  • Well, it’s half time so here’s tonight’s bonus feature at Dear Mr. Supercomputer: What if....?

Steph and I were talking on the way to her work tonight about how right George W. Bush was when he said that Americans are “addicted to oil” and subsequently how Bush has done everything to “support the habit.” I posed one of those wonderful, unanswerable “What if…?” questions: What if Al Gore had been elected?

(Note: yes, I realize that according to many standards he was elected, but rather, what if he were the one in charge the past six years?)

I’d be willing to bet that we wouldn’t be at war right now, which is just a phenomenal mess of catastrophic proportions. I’d be willing to bet that Katrina would have been just as much of a debacle, maybe more so. The tech-bubble still would have burst and it’s possible that the economy wouldn’t be as strong as it is.

I do believe that we’d be way farther ahead of the game as far as renewable energy goes. We’re basically at the same point as far as our “addiction” goes that we were six years ago, maybe worse with the Rise of the Suburban Assault Vehicles. Because it appears that it’s the only thing that Al Gore cares about, it appears as if he’d get this one right. Whereas GWB still maintains that we need to “continue looking into global warming,” so as to determine what is man-made, it’s clear that Al Gore would have done something about it by now. I mean, he made a movie after all.

No, I’m not saying that Al Gore would have been a great president. But when it comes to the environment, which to me is the only issue that will have an impact 50 years from now, I think he’d have been much better.

My name is gk, and I approved this message.

  • Aaaaand we’re back. Never let Peter King appear on TV again.
  • I have been instructed to give a shout out to Anibal Sanchez. So here it is.
  • Boy, we sure do take football seriously in this country. I can start to see why Steph hates it so much. Just for the record, I totally hate it too.
  • Now, I remember the biggest problem I have with the NFL: start times. You start at 9 ET, you end well after gk’s bed time. Hope you all enjoyed.