Friday, July 30, 2010
Obviously Photoshopped, but still funny...
Former House Speaker and leader of the Republican Revolution of 1994, Newt Gingrich, publicly sized up the potential Republican Presidential contenders for 2012 recently. Collectively the Republicans are chomping at the bit to take on Obama. No surprise, given his lackluster performance so far.
Gingrich sees a field that may be as many as nine deep, if one includes Gingrich, which he, himself, did not. Who else then? Besides the obvious never stopped running trio of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and the woman who can see Alaska from her front door, Gingrich also listed Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Representative Ron Paul of Texas.
Sizing up their chances at the Republican nomination: Representative Paul is an outsider who has a better chance at making a solo flight to Mars than winning the nomination. Governor Pawlenty is too moderate when the base is frothing at the mouth. Gingrich, himself, is guaranteed to say or do something that is so outrageous it disqualifies him. Governor Barbour is an insider's insider, but to the Clarion Content he feels more like a Karl Rove than a George Bush the I. Governor Huckabee's aw shucks routine is one of the few ways the Republicans could set up an Obama landslide.
That leaves a much narrower field: the early favorite from last time, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a strong dark horse candidate, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a weak dark horse candidate, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and the 800 pound gorilla in the room, former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin.
In the Clarion Content's uber-early reckoning, we would be hard pressed to see any of these folks derail the Palin train. She is coming for us all.
Special thanks to The Hill for steering us to Gingrich's remarks.
Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field
First of all, it is in St. Pete!!! Secondly, how you gonna call a dome a field!?!
Saw this note in the New York Times today, "It is the first time in franchise history, the Rays said, that they have sold out three consecutive games. " That sort of says it all about Tampa Bay baseball, even as good as the team has been the last few years, they can't sell tickets.
Is it time to start considering moving the franchise to Durham, NC? The 2010 Census will show massive population growth for the Durham area. Much as we love the Durham Bulls, maybe it is time we had our own Major League team.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
This was the theme song to the popular 1990's Nickledeon variety show, All That. It is now part of the on-going revival of 1990's culture among today's youth. The song is performed by TLC, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
We are reviving our long dormant and long overdue, "Things that need to be invented" column, hopefully heretoforth to once again be published monthly. Your brilliant suggestions are encouraged, read the other folks sweet invention ideas here [scroll down below this post]. We are so confident about the volume of your forthcoming submissions that we are kicking things back off with a triple shot of invent this.
The first thing in this month's column that needs to be invented is a cheaper electric riding lawnmower. Gas powered lawnmowers are so bad for the environment. On top of their deleterious effect on air quality and the noise pollution, they are woefully inefficient and resource wasting. We are going whole hog with the electric and hybrid cars things, why can't somebody get on it for the lawnmower market? They are quieter, way less polluting and way more fuel efficient. We could not find one cheaper than two grand. Surely they can beat that with a little more mass production. Maybe we can get a government tax credit for buying an electric lawnmower?
The next thing we would like to see invented is for Major League baseball to put its entire back catalog of game telecasts on-line. Let us, the fans, be able to look up any game, any time and stream it on-line. We would pay for this. And we are not just talking this year's game, but the historical back catalog. Think how many games diehards would watch? And if this project sounds fanciful, try to remember that just a few short years ago the idea of digitizing your entire music library to something the size of laptop, let alone i-pod, was the stuff of dreams. What an argument resolver! Want to know who was pitching in the pine tire game? Or where the use of middle relievers really started? Stream one Yankees-Royal game, stream an entire A's or White Sox season. MLB you can be America's game again, start here.
And finally in the sub-category of needs to be invented known as their needs to be an app for that... (And nobody on the Clarion Content's staff has an i-phone so please alert us if their already is an app for this...) The Craigslist Missed Connection application! Just walked by that beautiful girl or that cute guy in the coffee shop or bookstore without saying anything and regretting it already? Voilà, an instant Craiglist Missed Connection post. In era where texting and IMing are ubiquitous and conversation subsuming, what could be better than instantaneously being able to anonymously record on-line that you wish you would have talked to thus and such hottie?
Thank you and good night. We will return same time, same place next month. Send us your feedback and your brilliant invention suggestions.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
There is a lot of criticism of Twitter out there in the fields. It comes from media talking heads, politicians, and parents to name just a few anti-youth constituencies. If you haven't heard of Chat Roulette yet, you probably think that Twitter is the latest thing in social media. And even if it isn't, there still a fascinating lot to digest about Twitter. The Clarion Content hardly understands all the range of elements and creative applications of Twitter, but we can tell you what we think is most interesting about its nature.
Its permanence, breadth and lack of filter. Anyone, any given Joe Schmoe, can follow the famous on Twitter. Athletes, musicians, politicos and other celebrities have become among the most prominent adopters of Twitter. They have attracted thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands, of followers. Followers are people who subscribe to your tweets. Tweets are your up to 140 character long blasts of information put on Twitter (You can post photos and links as well.)
Twitter has skipped a step... no longer does a famous person have to call a press conference or their agent to make announcement. They can simply tweet it unfiltered directly into the public milleu. Basketball star, Kevin Durant, announced his $85 million contract extension with a tweet. (And was far better received than LeBron's one hour televised debacle.) Movie deals, break-ups, sporting trades all have been announced via Twitter.
And it works bi-directionally too... no longer does Joe Schmoe have to buy Sports Illustrated or his wife an US Magazine, to follow the daily lives of their chosen demigods, the characters in these semi-real soap operas can tweet directly at them. Want to know what's going on with Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore? Read his tweets. Want to know who Chris Johnson is kicking it with? Follow his Twitter feed.
Of course, there is a danger to unfiltered information, too. The scandal that has engulfed college football for the last few weeks was broken on Twitter by University of North Carolina athletes bragging about a party they had attended and gifts they had been given. Whether or not this violated NCAA rules is to be determined. What is fascinating, from the Twitter angle, is that rather than be outed by Woodward and Bernstein style investigative journalism, the kids broke the story on themselves. No filter, a lack of self-awareness of their prominence---journalists and media organizations now monitor the Twitter feeds of leagues, athletes, celebrities, their wives, girlfriends, cousins and onward all hoping for a previously heretofore unreported snippet to be exposed.
Twitter for good and for bad is a direct unfiltered line of communication to the world. (That is, if you believe the famous write their own tweets. Some do, some don't, but even for those who don't they can drop their own press release without the media, without a press conference, without taking questions...)
We will tell you about Chat Roulette later.
Friday, July 23, 2010
The Kansas City Royals underlined that distinction last night in their game with the New York Yankees. The difference between winning and losing culture is often defined by hustle and effort. It helps to have the talent on your side too, and the Yankees surely do. If you are the Royals, and you do not have the talent edge, lack of hustle all but guarantees losing.
Two critical plays that could have had the Royals in a 6-6 tie last night, rare, oddball plays, both failed to come to fruition because of the Royals lack of hustle. In the first inning with two out as Wilson Betemint tried to stretch a single into a double, Jose Guillen loafed around third base and trotted home at about one quarter speed. Based on where Betemint hit the ball maybe Guillen thought the double was a sure thing. But the Yankees leftfielder Brett Gardener hustled all the way, scooped up the shot down the line, and fired a bullet to second base to just nail Betemint. What is rare about the play is that Guillen failed to score from second, because the out was recorded at second base just before he touched home. It should not have even been close, going at half speed Guillen scores easily. But that is not how things are going for the Royals and it cost them a run.
Witness a repeat of the same kind of mistake in the top of the 7th inning, with the score still 6-4, a struggling C.C. Sabathia was taken out of the game. Dave Robertson, a less than stellar Yankees reliever, got the second out on an infield pop-up with two guys on base. Then he struck out the next batter Willie Bloomquist, however, Jorge Posada displayed some of his usual shaky defense (he had already cost the Yanks a run with an error) and fumbled strike three. Bloomquist half-assed out of the box and lollygagged it down to first assuming he was a dead duck. Posada attempted to throw the ball into rightfield, a superb play by Mark Teixeira saved the ball, and another error for Posada. Only because Bloomquist was not running hard was Teixeira able to recover and beat him to the bag for the third out.
Winners run hard all the time, losers run hard only when they think it matters. And that is why they lose, losing and failure are reenforceable cultural norms, and Royals have a losing culture.
The Clarion Content warned that Michael Beasley was a malcontent and that he was going to be a bust before he was even drafted. Last week the Miami Heat traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for two second round drafts picks and a bag of peanuts.
This quote from the president of Beasley's new team, the Wolves, says it all, "He has developed a really good support system around him this past season in Miami. He has hired people to help him grow up."
Oh yeah, nothing straightens a messed up young person out like hiring people to help him grow up.
Yeah, maybe if those people are Marines.
The Nation's Restaurant News posted a gloomy impression of the outlook for casual restaurant chains, considered by some to be a bellwether of consumer confidence. It reported that Ruby Tuesday, The Cheesecake Factory, and BJ’s Restaurants each said same-store sales increased for their latest quarters.
However, the NRN's expert said, "We continue to believe a rapid consumer ‘rebound’ is unlikely, and even if the consumer strengthens more quickly than we expect, we do not believe they are likely to immediately trade back up to casual dining. We believe the high-water mark for customer traffic will take years to recapture, if it is even possible, unless the supply of units in the marketplace has a much more substantial correction than we are currently seeing." This dark cloud provided to you by Steve West at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.
In their view, these restaurant captured customers from other restaurants, but did not add business to the total pool. What Mr. West means by a substantial correction in the supply of units in the marketplace is a lot of restaurants closing and a lot of folks losing their jobs. Ugly.
Read the whole article here.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
LeBron James defined his legacy with his off-season free agent move to the Miami Heat. He will never enter the discussion of greatest player ever. As numerous commentators have pointed out, Jordan would not have gone to play with a competitor because he couldn't beat them. Bird and Magic didn't scheme to team up, they schemed to beat one another's teams.
NBA veteran Jon Barry pretty well summed it up on ESPN Radio today, paraphrasing, "I'm okay with this type of move when you are a veteran on the downside of your career and still haven't won a title. Then fine, team up with another guy or two, to give it a run, but when your one of the two or three best players in the NBA and you are only twenty-five..."
The Clarion Content loves that quote for the subtext, the understated understood element, "one of the two or three best players in the game..." ?!? LeBron James was considered no less than the second best player in the league, likely the best player, a mere twelve months ago, according the standard accepted order. But since he clearly does not have the killer instinct of Kobe, witness Game 5 versus the Celtics, and since he accepts that he is not even the best player on his own team, deferring to D-Wade, suddenly LeBron is at most the third best player in the league.
And have no doubt, this is common knowledge in the NBA intelligentsia, from Charles Barkley on down. There is a defined pecking order in NBA locker rooms. And when a guy at LeBron's age and career arc accepts that he is not the alpha dog, then clearly, he is not the alpha dog.
¿Quién sabe? Maybe he is the fourth best player in the league? Dwight Howard has been to just as many Finals, and his Magic have dominated LeBron's teams in the playoffs...
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thanks to the Durham Herald Sun for this note.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Counting Crows front man, Adam Duritz
The Counting Crows rocked Cary, NC last night in a show that ranged from funky, to funny, to poignant. The band delighted the mixed aged crowd. Teeny boppers were most excited when the Counting Crows touring partners Augustana took the stage.
In an interesting departure from the norm rather than having Augustana stictly open the show, The Counting Crows alternated mini-sets of three to four songs with Augustana. This created some frustration amongst older fans who bellowed for the Crows to come back. Augustana's lead singer, Dan Layus, handled the situation with adroit humor. "We just work here man, and if Adam Duritz, tells us to play three songs, we play three songs." The bands played together for a sweet Dylan cover and an off-beat, fun Beatles medley encore.
The Clarion Content's correspondent also enjoyed rapper, Notar. He was a cool, high energy, counterpoint to the Counting Crows style. He provided one of the poignant, touching moments of the evening when he dedicated one of his funky 311-style hip-hop jams to his aunt who had passed away the previous night. A stylish wordsmith, we will be seeing more of him in the future.
The Counting Crows themselves played some old favorites, including a funked up version of "A Long December," which the crowd loved. They closed with a lilting and lovely cover of the Woody Guthrie classic, "This land is your land, this land is my land." This was after an impassioned plea by lead singer Adam Duritz, "I don't care who you vote for just vote. America was founded on the premise that your right to express your opinion matters. I don't care what you think, I just care that you think."
All and all a damn good show.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Someone near and dear to a member of the Clarion Content’s staff is working for the Census. From what we have heard, it has brought an unexpected surge of civic pride to their breast. America, as defined by the actions of our people, is much of what we hope her to be.
The reports we hear say that folks are nicer, kinder and easier to deal with than one might expect. Our staffer's friend reports that over and over during the course of this hot Summer, he has been invited into folk's homes, to cool off, for a glass of water or a soda or un jugo.
Americans, by-in-large, are not freaked out by this representative of the Man showing up at their door. We do not live Russia, nor the former Soviet Union. This not Venezuela or Columbia. A representative of the government on one's door step here, in the US of A, is not an automatic invitation to fear or intimidation. We may have the NSA and CIA, but people still mostly believe we are a nation of laws and rules. Told their responses are confidential, people will happily give a stranger their name and their date of birth, they will discuss their race and their living habits, they are mostly willing even to give their phone number. In America, we still have some trust.
It feels good to hear. It makes one proud to be an American.
Monday, July 12, 2010
The American Heart Association reports that one of the best ways to protect yourself against heart attack is to laugh often and exuberantly. Researchers compared patients who had suffered heart attacks or had undergone angioplasty or similar revascularization procedures with healthy aged-matched control patients. Results showed that the patients who had suffered heart problems were 40% less likely to laugh in a variety of situations than their healthy counterparts.
"The old axiom that, 'laughter is the best medicine' appears to hold true when it comes to protecting your heart," said Michael Miller, M.D. and Director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore. Miller and his team could only speculate about why this is so. "We don't know why laughing protects the heart, but we do know that mental stress is associated with the impairment of endothelium, the protective barrier lining in our blood vessels," said Dr. Miller.
So laugh it up people...
What do these two guys have in common? ........Zero titles.
Our advice? Don't believe the hype!
Here are the two best from Bill Simmons's huge batch of LeBron related emails:
"My friend Max's reaction to the LeBron special and signing: "This country was founded upon the practice of defying egotistical kings."
"You know how happy Carrie looked at the prom? And when the pig's blood was dumped on her you couldn't help but empathize? And when she went on her rampage you were actually kinda rooting for her? That's how I feel about the city of Cleveland right now."
As for the draft, John Wall can't defend, isn't that big, does not have a great outside shot, can't play the pick and roll game yet, and has been troubled throughout his short career, but he is the next big thing? We think not. The mentalist, DeMarcus Cousins, has an equally good chance to star as the uber-quick, but nothing else, John Wall.
Then again, there is nothing like getting your NBA tutelage from real pros like Gilbert Arenas, so maybe it will go well for Wall.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Welcome to our 17th edition of Pithy F*rging Sayings gathered from the singularity. Eighteen is always a big one, and the next go round of PFS will probably happen after the big remodeling of this site.
As always the citation of these sayings, quotes and dialogues does not necessarily imply endorsement, the goal is to provoke thought.
"The people are at such a low stage of moral and rational development, that it's obvious they're bound to oppose everything that's strange to them...
But how are we to educate the people?
To educate the people three things are needed: schools, and schools, and schools...
But how do schools help matters?
They give the peasants fresh wants."---Leo Tolstoy
"We are at the same time spectators and actors in the great drama of nature."---Niels Bohr
"It is clear that knowledge of what is, does not open the door directly to what should be."---Albert Einstein
"Nature in the form of man begins to recognize itself."---Victor Weiskopf
"It comes down to the same thing as when I was a kid. Can I create a character that will make her happy, that will make her laugh?"---Tom Cruise
Two of the Clarion Content's local Durham sports contributors each sent us interesting links this week. The first was from a non-Yankees fan, who was privileged to attend a Yankees victory over his beloved Seattle Mariners last week in New York. It is a fascinating video explanation of how Mariano Rivera's cut fastball works so effectively, check it out here. Excellent graphics.
The other link is reading not video, so their lazier bums amongst you, may have to slog your way through it. It is well worth the read. A local Durhamanian, who unverifiably claims to be at least halfing-English, sent us a Wall Street Journal article about how English Premiership soccer style regulation could be used to solve college football's conference realignment woes. Read it here. It is not a bad suggestion. Do not kid your self into thinking that the recent mini-compromise made this issue go away. It will be rearing its ugly head again soon. The money is too much and too arbitrarily divided.
There is a well-kept Durham secret at #325 W. Main Street, a part of downtown that has gotten better and better as Durham's urban renaissance continues. It is Guajillos Mexican grill. It is well known to the lawyers, judges, bail bondsmen and other members of the Durham legal community. It is located only blocks from the County Courthouse, not far from the newly opened Whiskey Bar. The reason why many of the our local readers will be familiar with Whiskey and not Guajillos is the hours. Guajillos is primarily open for lunch catering to the local, legal business community.
It is only a couple of doors down from another popularly, local, lunchtime eatery, the fabulous and more famous Toast. Guajillos is terrific, too. They specialize in Mexican and Colombian cuisine. Prices are very reasonable, a delicious lunch can be had for less than $7.00. The specialty of the house is Patacones, a Colombian Fried Plantain dish, that is out of this world. Also noteworthy are the Tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and the Arepa con Todo (a Colombian tortilla dish).
So save the $25 a head you were going to drop on Dos Perros and check out a wonderful, little hole in the wall joint, Guajillos.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
This man is angry with LeBron...
If you are following the LeBron James free agency saga then you probably have heard about Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert screed after LeBron left town. It was vitriolic. We have reprinted the full text below. All CAPS are from his original. It should be noted that by making the James deal a sign and trade, the Cavs did not get screwed as badly as they could have been. Instead they got two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a $16 million trade exception. Gilbert also reduced the price of the LeBron James fathead from $99.99 to $17.41 the year legendary traitor Benedict Arnold was born.
Full text of the letter
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.
Story continues below
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.
There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.
You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE"
You can take it to the bank.
If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.
But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio.
The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
Sleep well, Cleveland.
Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....
I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:
DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue....
E.K. Powe, the elementary school nearest our offices, has some good news! It was one of only thirty-two schools nationwide to be awarded a complete library makeover by Target and The Heart of America Foundation. The school's library will be redesigned with eco-friendly building materials.
The remodel includes 2000 new books for the school's library collection, computers, new carpeting, and age-appropriate furniture to encourage curling up with a good book. Plus each student gets an additional seven books of their very own.
Hooray for, E.K. Powe. And thanks to the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood association newsletter, Parade for the heads up.
This photo is from the era when E.K. Powe was West Durham High School.
This is E.K. Powe elementary today.
Friday, July 09, 2010
Note the empty seats in the background behind Carl Crawford, who busting it for home...
Are you one of the doubters that think the Tampa Bay Rays aren't for real? Well we have news for you, they are and for at least a couple years to come, even if they don't get their stadium issues straight. Check out their Triple-A club, the Durham Bulls. They are the defending champions of the International League, and they are leading the league with the best record again, going into tonight's play.
This even though former Bulls like Longoria, Price and Wade Davis are excelling with the big club. The Bulls are a mix of young stars, like speedster Desmond Jennings and wily vets like Dan Johnson. Throw in an all-time best name candidate like J. J. Furmaniak and they have an ace pitcher to keep your eye on at the next level, Jeremy Hellickson. He is a comin' on, and so are the Bulls and so will the Rays on into the foreseeable future.
It is too bad that they can't draw in St. Pete! Will they forced to move? They would surely like to at least relocate within the area.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Owl City does, "Fireflies"
Paramore's lead singer, Hayley Williams, with B.O.B., does "Airplanes"
Katy Perry does, "California Gurls" with a man who needs no introduction, Snoop Dogg...
***Ooops, they won't let us embed it, but you can watch the video here.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
You be the judge.
Reviewing the LeBron decision and the changing NBA landscape, with a fellow aficionado last night.
We agree on two things, the balance of power hasn't shifted, and LeBron's staying in Cleveland. (I think for a shorter than the max contract~3 years.)
He is a Seattle guy with family in Oklahoma, may be the least pissed off Sonics fan I know. We both liked the way KD handled his business today. I'd lay odds that he wins more titles than LeBron.
Close to the end of our exchange, texted my friend this question: "Knicks; tragedy or farce?"
His reply, "Farce."
My new unavoidable query, "When rooting for a farce, is the joke inherently on you?"
We have yet to reply to him.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
King Felix Hernandez, who was robbed of the Cy Young last year, became the first pitcher to shutout the Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium last night, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 7-0 win. The Mariners King Felix and Cliff Lee pitched back-to-back complete games against the Yankees.
Talk about cosas raras, rare things, the Yankees haven't had back-to-back complete games thrown against them at home since 1991, when Jim Abbott and Mark Langston of the then California Angels managed the feat.
We haven't seen much of the Mariners this year, but it does not compute. How can they be this bad?