Monday, December 12, 2005

For Wine Enthusiasts in New Jersey

I found a great wine shop in Bernardsville, New Jersey. It is called 56 Degrees and it specialises in Artisanal wines from small semi-obscure vineyards. The shop is tiny, but is packed to the rafters with hard to find wines at reasonable prices. Most of the wines are in the $20 to $40 range. We bought 8 bottles and the total bill came to less than $200. We had a bottle of the 2003 Chehalem Pinot Noir last night with dinner. Very nice, and at $26 it was inexpensive. It was also the most expensive bottle we bought.

The shop has a cool website where you can track and rate the wines you have tried, and get suggestions from the staff and other customers. The staff is friendly and helpful, without even a hint of snobbery. It is a great place and well worth a visit.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sharia in Oakland?


When I saw the video clip of the attack on the Oakland liquor store, the newscaster said they were well dressed vandals. My first thought was "That is the Nation of Islam!" I have yet to see any report in the mainstream media making any connection to the NOI. In fact, I have yet to see any mention of the race of the perpetrators. Bloggers have been all over this story, pointing out the NOI connection. Chalk up another one for the blogosphere.

The video clip is horrifying. The attackers don't care that they are being filmed. They are organized and disciplined. The attack is well coordinated and designed to maximise property damage without harming the shop owner. It seems like they just wanted to keep him out of the way while they did their damage. Apparently they accuse him of "selling poison in their neighborhood" before the rampage begins. How long before they begin killing these shop owners? Sharia has come to Oakland, and soon to a neighborhood near you. I think it is time to start pushing back.

George Best


I am not much of a soccer fan. I went to a few games when I lived in the UK, but it never captured my imagination. Therefore, when I heard that George Best passed away, I did not put on a black armband. I was vaguely aware that he played soccer, but did not know that he played for Manchester United. I know George Best mainly because The Wedding Present named an album after him. He was apparently one of the best footballers ever, and his off the field antics, mainly involving booze and women, were a match for his on the field prowess. The best analogy seems to be Mickey Mantle: great baseball player, greater carouser. He appears to have captured the imagination of an entire generation of fans, who have passed on the story of his legendary antics to their children. The Guardian has a fine obituary.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Dinner

My wife was on call at the hospital for Thanksgiving so it was just the two of us for dinner. She does not like turkey, so I made a goose instead, with oyster cornbread stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, and a port wine reduction gravy with dried cranberries and bing cherries. The goose was slightly overcooked but goose meat is so rich that you would need to leave it in the oven for hours to dry it out, and the gravy was so damn good that any deficiency in the poultry department was easily covered up.

The stuffing and the gravy were the definite hits of the evening. I am going to use the leftover mashed potatoes for salmon cakes, probably for breakfast tomorrow. The leftover goose will go into a goose, duck and rabbit gumbo on Sunday.

Throw a Baseball 90 MPH, Get the Girl


Bosox pitcher Bronson Arroyo is a mediocre to good pitcher. He starts occaionally, relieves occasionally, and may even close now and then. He is no All Star, and most casual baseball outside of Boston probably have no idea who he is. All this, and he still gets to hang with her. Just think, he probably has one like her in every American League city.

Thanks to Deadspin for the story and link.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Corzine wins in landslide

In the end, it wasn't even close. Corzine won handily over Dougie Forrester. I am sure that in the coming weeks stories will surface about Corzine bussing in the homeless from Philly and NYC, like he did to win his senate race a few years back, but it appears that he did not need it this time. He won big time.

Having lost two statewide races, I pray that the NJ GOP experiment with Forrester is over. I know he was a successful businessman, but the guy struck me as a dolt. I don't know of any NJ Republican superstars on the horizon. The Republican Party in New Jersey is almost non-existent at this point, when as recently as ten years ago they controlled both houses of the legislature and the governor's mansion. There are several reasons for this, but I think the main reason is that when Christie Whitman swept into the governor's mansion after the Florio debacle, there were expectations that things would be different. The Republicans, however, just acted like it was their turn at the trough and made pigs of themselves. With Republicans like that, you might as well elect Democrats.

I wish Jon Corzine luck. I hope he turns out to be a great governor, but somehow, I'm just not getting that vibe.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Soccer Fatwa

Ace of Spades has a post on a soccer fatwa that reads like but is apprently real. The "Sean" he thanks for finding the MEMRI translation is yours truly.

Corzine vs. Forrester

Well it looks like the New Jersey Governor's race is going down to the wire as the latest polls show Corzine's lead dwindling. Corzine still has a small lead, and you can expect Corzine to finance a massive get out the vote effort in New Jersey's urban areas. Did I say "you can expect Corzine to finance a massive get out the vote effort in New Jersey's urban areas?" I meant you can expect Corzine to buy as many votes as possible and bus in the homeless from Philly and NYC like he did in his senate race a few years back.

Forrester could win if he wasn't handicapped by his complete lack of personality. The guy looks and sounds like someone who got the crap beaten out of him in grammar school. Imagine a less annoying Mike Dukakis and you get the idea. Of course, Forrester got his revenge by making zillions of dollars. Too bad Corzine has gazillions. The real shame is that the republicans did not nominate Bret Schundler. He would have cleaned Corzine's clock.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Jude Law is an Idiot

Jude Law cheated on Sienna Miller. With the Maid.
I know this is an old story, but to be honest I did not know what Sienna looked like, so I did not take much interest. Jude Law is an idiot. He cheated on this woman. Unless the maid is Helen of Troy, Jude Law is the king of the horse's asses.

Judge Alito's Daughter


Has anybody noticed that Judge Alito's daughter is a babe? Even as an oil painting, that old horndog Clinton can't keep his hands off her.

Mom's kind of cute too. The son is wondering if this will help him score with the chicks.

Alito for the Supreme Court


President Bush has nominated New Jersey native Sam Alito for the Supreme Court, finally putting hte Miers debacle in the rear view mirror. The preseident should have nominated Alito in the first place, but better late than never. Alito is not Posner, Easterbrook or Kozinski, but I can't complain. He is, after all, a Jersey Guy.

Read more about Judge Alito here.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bob Dylan - Pathway to the Stars


Pathway to the Stars is a two disc compilation of live tracks from the 2000 tour that I picked up on Dimeadozen. Sound quality is at least a B+ throughout the comp, but the performances are all A+, and the band is top notch.

The tracks are drawn from throughout his career, ranging from Hattie Carroll to Not Dark Yet, with some rarities like This Wheel's on Fire. There is a killer version of Desolation Row. The arrangements are completely different from the recorded versions. Usually I have to hear the lyrics before I know what song is being played.

As he has aged, Dylan's voice has taken on the timbre of his hero, Blind Willie McTell, though I am sure he would reject the comparison. As a result, the old songs take on a gravitas that was only implied before. The newer songs just sound fucking great. Right now, I'm listening to "trying to Get to Heaven Before they Close the Door." It makes me want to pray for his soul and mine.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

She did the honorable thing

Given Ms. Miers legendary loyalty to W, she pretty much had to withdraw. The president put her in an untenable position, but at least she had the good sense to pull out before being rejected, which would have humiliated the man she thinks is the best ever. Now let's see if he has the cojones to nominate Richard Posner. I doubt it, but one can hope.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hemingway & The Spanish Civil War


Hemingway has long been one of my favorite writers. His best work is stunning in its clarity and originality while his lesser work is, well, it is stunning in its awfulness. The bad stuff (Across the River, Dangerous Summer) is so bad that it is unintentionally funny, but the good stuff (Francis Macomber, Kiliminjaro, Farewell to Arms) is as good as American letters get.

Hemingway was apparently an absolute beast of a man. This article/book review paints a particularly nasty picture of Hemingway's destruction of a literary rival, Jon Dos Passos. The more I learn about Hemingway, such as the nastiness, the petty vindictiveness, the general bullshit he peddeld about his life, the less I think of him and it impacts what I think of his works. I still love the good stuff, but I cannot defend EH like I used to.

Another issue with EH, and other artists, is that no price has ever been paid for his support of Soviet communism. The name Ezra Pound is never mentioned without his support of Italian fascism being cited, and rightly so. Hemingway gave at least passing support to a much more vicious regime, yet it is passed off as idealism, if it is mentioned at all.

Hurricane Wilma

My parents live in Florida, right in the path of Hurricane Wilma. My mother is visiting my sister in Texas, so I know she is safe. My dad is in Florida. Other than a voicemail from yesterday morning, I have not heard from him. My folks live on the first floor of an apartment building which is right on the intercoastal waterway. I have not seen any reports of storm surges in the intercoastal, so hopefuly he has not been flooded out. Power is out throughout South Florida, and it seems that the cell networks are down. Hopefully, everything is ok.

Just go, Harriet, just go

What was the President thinking when he nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court? I am sure she is bright and hard working and a lovely woman, but man did he miss the mark with this one.

I have swum in legal circles long enough to know her type: She is a more than competent attorney and an able administrator. I am not knocking her for that, but any medium sized city has dozens of attorneys like her, and they should not be on the Supreme Court either. Nominating her means the President decided to ignore the deep conservative bench for a cipher, but a cipher that he, and apparently only he, knows. The President promised to nominate justices like Scalia and Thomas. I voted for the President at least in part because of that promise. I don't like being hoodwinked.

Any senator who voted against John Roberts simply cannot vote for Miers. There is no credible argument that Miers is qualified while Roberts is not. Hopefully there are enough other senators who will vote against Miers to scuttle her nomination. Maybe Harriet will do the honorable thing and withdraw. The President can redeem himself by nominating Posner, Easterbrook, or Kozinski. I doubt we'll be that lucky, but one can hope, can't one?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Marah at Maxwells



My wife and I went to see Marah at Maxwell's in Hoboken last Friday night, October 21. It was our first time seeing Marah, after several previous attempts were aborted for a variety of reasons.

Opening act was the Drams, a band from Texas. They were pretty good. The Drams have a keyboard payer which adds a nice dimension to their indie rock sound. I don't know whether they have any music released, but they did mention they would be going into the studio to record a new record.

Marah were fantastic. The Bielanko brothers have a great dynamic onstage. There is a big brother vs. kid brother competitiveness, coupled with a real affection for each other and the music they are creating. New guitarist Adam Garbinski has got the real rock and roll chops down cold. He hits all the right chords, and hits all the right poses onstage, and looks a little like "you're my guitar hero" Mick Jones. Kirk Henderson, on bass and keyboards, and the new drummer, whose name I did not catch, provide a solid foundation for the Bielanko brothers' incredible songs. The band is loose, loud and funky live, they tell great stories in between songs, and they are just plain fun to watch. I was deathly ill with a wicked head cold, but I could not stop dancing and singing along. If anybody recorded the show, I'd love to get a copy of the recording.

Marah is made up of human jukeboxes, so every song is instantly recognizable. They are also remarkably creative so those same recognizable songs are not derivative. Springsteen, the Pogues, Tom Waits, the Rolling Stones, The Replacements, Bob Dylan, Steve Earle are all hovering in the background of their music. If you have never heard their music, pick up Kids in Philly and you will be hooked. If you haven't seen them live, go see them because you won't be disappointed.

You can check out Marah tour dates and buy their records at their website.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

First Post

I am at home, sick as a dog from the headcold my nieces gave me over the weekend, and I figured this was as good a time as any to start my blog.

You can expect my thoughts on music, sports, and politics, all with a healthy dose of sarcasm.

And away we go...