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Month: January 2004

Disruption central

Every time things calm down for the Celtics this season, I get ready to write down my thoughts on the team and then something huge happens. Screw it. Here’s my snapshot of the moment; next month, when Pierce is traded to Indiana for O’Neal, I’ll revise it.

This is why Jim O’Brien was fired, except the personal issues were more important than the writer thinks. As were the trades. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

So the Celtics have a few kinds of players. First off: wingmen. This is Pierce, Davis, and Welsch. Maybe Jumaine Jones, if Ainge wants to get him minutes, but I think Jones will have trouble cracking the rotation. The Celtics are actually quite strong here. Pierce and Welsch are decent to strong defenders, and they’ve all got offenses of rather varying sorts, which is nice. This is the least worrisome area of the Celtics.

Point guards. The Celtics have no real point guards. Maybe Marcus Banks will be a real point guard if he gets 20 minutes a game for the rest of the season? We can but hope. Mike James is a fill-in like the other fill-ins they’ve had since they let Kenny Anderson go. Welsch does not appear to have the point guard nature; he can fill in as a combo guard but that’s about it. Without a quality point guard, this team can’t contend.

Big men. This is the mystery position. Mark Blount is an asset who doesn’t rebound much. The article linked above claims it’s because of the defense. If Blount starts pulling down 10 rebounds a game I’m gonna be delighted. Other than that, what you see is what you get. Hunter, Mihm, Perkins, and LaFrentz are mysteries. The first three might develop into great players (well, probably not Mihm) or they might not. LaFrentz might have an injury-free year… OK, so that’s unlikely.

But they’re all fairly young. While the Celtics don’t have a solution at power forward and center right now, the chances that a solution will arise out of those five players is fairly high. Mihm was looking pretty good in Cleveland playing at the power forward spot. Hunter is intriguing. If Perkins doesn’t develop as a center, maybe Mihm can improve his center play and Hunter can start as the hard-nosed power forward. We don’t need a lot of offense out of these guys; mostly we need rebounds and defense and low post play.

Oh, and then there’s McCarthy and Stewart. McCarthy is Lou Merloni, except taller. Stewart is an unfunny joke. Don’t worry about them.

None of it helps without a point guard. There is precisely one possible long term solution available at present. No pressure, Marcus! Possibly without Baker on the books, and if they expose LaFrentz in the expansion draft, they’d have the money to sign someone like Steve Nash. OK, someone exactly like Steve Nash. The Celtics slogan: “Boston — it’s much closer to Canada than Dallas.”

Give Nash a decent four year contract and you’ve got possibilities.

How to fisk

If the base political form of mockery known as fisking was generally of this quality, I’d be all for it. James Fallows, a former presidential speechwriter, goes over the State of the Union line by line. He’s partisan, but it’s not a partisan set of annotations. He’s coming at it from the point of view of a craftsman. (Via ceej.)

Monday Mashup #25: Chicago

Monday Mashup number 25 is late; I just noticed that I hadn’t posted it from last night. Ooops. Well, here you go anyhow.

Today’s ingredient is the musical Chicago. I’m assuming the Catherine-Zeta Jones version, but any version is good. It’s glitz, it’s glamour, it’s crime, it’s the desirability of fame. In particular that last. The musical aspect is certainly optional, and when I say “optional” I mean “I’ll be really impressed if anyone manages to work it in.”

Kitchen Stadium is open. Start your mashups.

One envelope

And the nominees are…

Biggies (i.e., the ones I care about):

Best Actor
Johnny Depp — Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
Ben Kingsley — House Of Sand And Fog
Jude Law — Cold Mountain
Bill Murray — Lost In Translation
Sean Penn — Mystic River

Depp is the surprise nomination here. I still think he was better in Once Upon A Time In Mexico, but what do I know? Bill Murray would be my pick for the Oscar.

Best Supporting Actor
Alec Baldwin — The Cooler
Benicio Del Toro — 21 Grams
Djimon Hounsou — In America
Tim Robbins — Mystic River
Ken Watanabe — The Last Samurai

Alec Baldwin is the trendy cool nomination. Lotta quality performances here; this is a really strong field. Baldwin is deserving, Robbins is deserving, and Watanabe is deserving. I’d bet Del Toro is deserving too.

Best Actress
Keisha Castle-Hughes — Whale Rider
Diane Keaton — Something’s Gotta Give
Samantha Morton — In America
Charlize Theron — Monster
Naomi Watts — 21 Grams

Trendy choice: Keisha Castle-Hughes. Winner: probably Charlize Theron. Shamefully, I have seen none of these.

Best Supporting Actress
Shohreh Aghdashloo — House Of Sand And Fog
Patricia Clarkson — Pieces Of April
Marcia Gay Harden — Mystic River
Holly Hunter — Thirteen
Renée Zellweger — Cold Mountain

I dunno. Shamefully — you know the rest. (OK, I saw Mystic River. Marcia Gay Harden was good.)

Best Animated Film
Brother Bear
Finding Nemo
The Triplets Of Belleville

Triplets is a bit of a surprise. This year, the voters will decide if this award is a prestige award or an award for the big US film (which is not to say Finding Nemo isn’t good, but it’s a perception thing). So far it’s gone both ways, with Shrek and Spirited Away.

Best Director
City Of God
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Lost In Translation
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
Mystic River

HEY. I guess City of God is eligible this year after all. It’s not gonna win but possibly it should.

Best Screenplay (Adaptation)
American Splendor
City Of God
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Mystic River

I’m torn between Mystic River and Return of the King. I guess you gotta go with the latter as a recognition of the trilogy, but the Mystic River screenplay was a superlative adaptation of a difficult book.

Best Screenplay (Original)
The Barbarian Invasions
Dirty Pretty Things
Finding Nemo
In America
Lost In Translation

Dirty Pretty Things. Not that I didn’t love Lost in Translation, but it wasn’t the screenplay that made it a great movie.

Best Picture
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King
Lost In Translation
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
Mystic River

All good choices. Return of the King gets it, again for the trilogy, although I can’t say it was a better movie than Lost in Translation.

WISH 82: Summarizing

I have been woefully behind on WISHes lately. I blame travel, and apologize. However, I’m home now, and WISH 82 rocks:

Sum up one or more games that you GM or play in 10 words or less. (Three is best, but not everybody is that pithy.) Don’t restrict yourself to current games if you have great ones in the past.

DoSS: Dreams of heroism. (Chris is scratching his head right about now.)

Unknown USA: Driving Miss Dorothy.

Paridon: In pursuit of style.

Babes in the Woods: Traveling to wisdom.

UN PEACE: Too old too fast.

Old entries

There’s kind of a trend in the weblog world: people turn off comments on older entries to avoid comment spam. It’s probably the right thing to do. Still, I’d hate to miss comments like this:

I met Douglas Chandler at Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in 1952 and later, unfortunately, married his daughter. I’d be interested in further information about the man—who was a thoroughly unsymathetic character.

Not to mention the response:

To the person who posted a msg on August 23, 2003: I, too, met Douglas Chandler. In my case, it was while riding a train in Germany in the 1970’s. I got to listen to this 80-ish man talk about his (still) extreme right wing political views (ad nauseum), his experiences as the National Geographic’s “representative” in Europe prior to WWII, his experiences as a radio broadcaster in Germany during the war, his being captured, detained, tried as a war criminal (I think) and then imprisoned until being released (he said) by RFK during JFK’s presidency, etc. He was an unrepentant Nazi, to the end. Unfortunately, as a fellow in my 20’s, I was somewhat astonished by this “meeting with history”, and listened to him thoroughly, not fully appreciating the gravity of his crimes. Still, it was an interesting exposure to an obscure part of WWII history.

Small world.


That was a long week. Productive, but lengthy. Instead of talking about business, which I can’t talk about, I’ll talk about the one non-business thing I did this week: Dixie’s BBQ.

Dixie’s is pretty decent BBQ with a great gimmick. You get your food, you go sit down at your table, and the owner of the place wanders over with a pot of his hot sauce: “The Man.” He makes a big production about giving you some, especially if it’s your first time. I was there with a couple of co-workers, and since they were native Bostonians I figured my experience with hot sauces went a little beyond theirs. I believed them when they said The Man was hotter than hot, but I was pretty sure I could handle it anyhow. So I let Gene (the aforementioned owner) plop a big spoonful onto my brisket.

It’s insanely hot, most likely the hottest thing anyone who isn’t fanatical about their hot sauces has ever tasted. According to the intelligent folks at chile-heads, it’s about 2/3rds Endorphin Rush and 1/3rd the normal Dixie’s barbecue sauce.

I can only find one source for the Scoville value of Endorphin Rush, alas. They claim it’s 120,000 Scovilles. Sounds about right, but I have no way to verify it. If we accept that at face value, and we accept the chile-heads guesses at face value, that’d put The Man at about 80,000 Scovilles. Tabasco sauce is around 3,000 Scovilles.

The fired-up brisket wasn’t much of a problem; the heat brought out the flavor nicely. I even got another half-spoon of The Man on the remainder of the brisket. I should not, however, have let Gene dump another spoon into the baked beans. It wasn’t so much the heat as it was the combo of the heat and the sweetness of the beans and the not-so-tasty hot link I got with my brisket — I handled the heat just fine, but the mixture of flavors was hard on my stomach. If I ever wander by there again I’ll just get the brisket straight and see how that goes.

None of this is very impressive to the madmen who go past the very hot sauces such as Endorphin Rush into the superhots. Endorphin Rush is based on a pepper extract, so it’s way more intense than you generally get out of a hot sauce. Some sauces go further: you can in fact get 1 million plus Scoville heat in a bottle. I sort of suspect that it’s more a collector thing than anything else, since Blair’s sauces can go for a couple hundred bucks on EBay. The hottest of the hots are literally dangerous to handle, so I can’t imagine anyone breaking the wax seals and cooking with ‘em.

Either way, though, I’ll stick with the sauces that ring in at 100,000 Scovilles and under.