Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Target Demographic?

Grand Theft Auto IV was released today. For those unfamiliar with the GTA series, here's how IGN described the game action: you "blow up cop cars, run down innocent civilians, bang hookers, assist drug dealers and lowlifes and do many, many other bad deeds." I've never actually played the game, but apparently it has inspired gameplay—inspiring, at least, reviewers to describe it in glowing terms, such as a "thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun."

Nonetheless, I think that Rockstar Games might have overreached their target demographic with the ad buy I noticed this morning:

In case you can't make them out, some of the headlines on the page are:
Consumer Confidence Slips as Home Prices Drop;
China Jails 30 Tibetans for Riots; and
Clinton Seeks Gas Tax Break; Obama Says No.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Future Antebellum?

A super luxe building is going up at the corner of West End & 86th Street. 535 West End Avenue will apparently have 21st Century Pre-War Residences.

21st Century Pre-War Residences? I know what they're selling – crown mouldings, high ceilings & that certain look – but I just can't help but wonder: Do they know something that we don't?

Of course, in the eyes of the Bush Administration, this building developer has already missed the pre-war boat.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On a Purely Parochial Note...

...I wish the Stanford Women's Basketball Team would hurry up and win the national title so that ESPN can get back to telling me how AWESOME the women's teams are from Tennessee, Connecticut, and Rutgers.

It's almost rude for Stanford to interrupt ESPN's adoration of women's basketball teams east of the Mississippi.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Fifth Stage of Relegation Grief

Twice within the pages of this blog I have praised the European system of relegation and promotion in professional sports.

Last June, I cited relegation as one of the reasons that the English Premier League ("EPL") of soccer/football was interesting. At the time, I said that relegation was the "awesome Shiva of sports, destroyer and transformer." Last September, in one of the more heavily commented posts on this blog, I argued that adding relegation and promotion to major league baseball would result in a more dynamic and interesting league.

Well, these chickens have come home to roost. With today's embarrassing 1-3 home loss to Sunderland, it looks like all but a mathematical certainty that Fulham, the EPL team that I root for, is going to get relegated.

A quick review for those of you who don't know what relegation means. Here's the relevant bit from my post in June on the topic:

England (like many a soccer-addled country) has multiple professional soccer leagues. Relegation means that the bottom 3 EPL teams are sent to the 2nd flight league, the Championship, and the top Championship teams rise to the EPL. This happens serially, with each league sending their best teams up and their worst teams down.

The result is something like Darwinism for sports. Good teams are rewarded, bad teams are punished. You don't have the Milwaukee Brewers — a profitable team that will never, ever do anything meaningful in the top US baseball league. Since team owners are not monopolistically locked into their leagues, and since the lower league teams aren't farm teams, owners of EPL teams simply cannot field a mediocre product year-in-and-year-out and count on reaping profits from an over-loyal fanbase.
With 5 games left in the season, bottom-dwelling Derby County is a distant 20th place, mathematically assured of relegation (and is in hot competition with the 2002-03 Sunderland team for the worst point total in English football history). 18th place Bolton looks like it could close the gap with 17th place Birmingham. 19th place Fulham? Well, it's going to finish in 19th place.

Time and again this season, Fulham has seized defeat (or at least a draw) from the jaws of victory. They have given up a late goal to their opponent in the waning moments of the match more times than I care to recall. Although seven teams in the EPL lost the same number or more games than Fulham (17), it's Fulham that will be relegated knowing that it has a chance to lead the league in ties (12). Most of those ties could have been wins, but for the final 10 minutes.

So it's Fulham to the Champions League League Championship. What am I to do?

Well, I certainly can't pick a new EPL team — most certainly not yet, not one year after deciding to root for Fulham and not while Fulham has a chance to make a quick return to the top flight for the 2009-10 season. I'll go back to enjoying the EPL on Fox Soccer Channel in the same blasé, disinterested manner I did before I cheered for a single team. I'll simply go back to watching football because I like watching football, even when I don't know much or care much about who is playing whom.

And I'll be a Fulham fan in the way that all remote fans followed their favorite teams in the days before extensive television coverage. I'll follow the box score. (Although almost half the EPL games in a given week are televised in the US, it's impossible to get Champions League League Champsionship games on your TV without purchasing a separate and expensive channel.) I'll read about Fulham competing against a new round of names that sound strange to me. Just when I got used to the Hogwarts-esque Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, the Champions League League Championship will bring me Fulham against Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday.

And I'll hope that Fulham stays the Fulham I like: a team overloaded with Yankee players, owned and mismanaged Mohamed Al-Fayed, and a team that battles for survival and makes you cheer like a crazy person when they actually win the big one.

Go Fulham.
Update (5/14): How wrong I was.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Et Tu, Monty?

I do not like noncompete clauses in employment contracts. You see, I tend to agree with legal theorists who argue that the relative nonenforceability of noncompete clauses in California has helped create Silicon Valley, creating a legal competitive advantage over other tech clusters.

Still, I'm not exactly thrilled to see the Stanford's still-much-beloved former coach Mike Montgomery is slated to coach Stanford's rival Cal. I feel like an implied, purely emotional covenant not to compete has been violated.

In professional wrestling, when a Good Guy becomes a Bad Guy, they say he turns heel. Stanford basketball fans were already in a weakened state after hearing the (not too surprising) news that Robin Lopez would join his brother Brook in the NBA draft. Catching us dazed and stumbling around the wrestling ring, it now appears that Monty is ready to finish us off with a suplex.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The 99 Cents Store

The only logical conclusion is that everything at this 99 cents store is precisely 99 cents.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Kids These Days

I like blogging (yesterday's social media), but like Garfield, I find aspects of the current generation of social media – namely, Facebook & Twitter – to be baffling.

I have a Facebook profile, for despite its many faults, it's a great way of keeping a persistent contact list updated by your contacts. They change their email addresses, etc. so you don't have to.

The problem with Facebook is that it infantilizes adults. No, I don't want to be a zombie, or a pirate, or learn what Smurf I am, or play fake Scrabble with you. I'm 31. I have a baby. It just ain't worth my time.

Twitter's another matter entirely. I created a Twitter account for this blog weeks ago, but never bothered to update it because, well, Twitter is pointless. Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that broadcasts your status to people who care. This is a gigantic waste of time & attention.

Steph apparently discovered Twittering this morning. Her initial reaction sums up my feelings almost exactly: