Summer of 68

Posted in Golden (State) Years on March 31st, 2016 by bill
[caption id="attachment_6843" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="In the audience last night: Andrei Kirilenko (R), victim of the greatest dunk in Warriors history."][/caption] OK, it's not quite summer yet, though it has felt like it the last couple days. But the Warriors did win their 68th game of the season last night, even if they ended up needing overtime to do it. We were watching at the bar at Tomo Sushi in Arcata, where the mood was apprehensive as the W’s repeatedly failed to put the Utah Jazz in their rear-view mirror. It's funny, Dubs fans are so horrified now at the prospect of, God forbid, them losing a game. Not that long ago they were regularly losing 50, 55, 60 games a year. At the moment they are stuck on 7, and April starts tomorrow. Good God almighty. The signature moment last night was Klay Thompson's 3 to tie it at the end of regulation. Like Steph Curry's legendary corner 3 at the end of Game 3 of the Pelicans series last year, this was his second shot in a row from the exact same spot after an offensive rebound. As with the Pelicans, we were forced to go through the formality of an overtime, but there wasn't any doubt of the result. The Jazz were out of gas and the Warriors put them down without much of a struggle. Friday night against Boston the Dubs go for 69. Heh-heh.

67 and counting

Posted in Golden (State) Years, Whatever Else on March 30th, 2016 by bill
[caption id="attachment_6837" align="alignnone" width="527" caption="After the game, Craig Sager asked Steph Curry if he was tired. Steph found this concept amusing. 'Silly human,' goes the thought bubble."][/caption] Last night the Warriors won their 67th game of the season, matching their total from all of last year, against only 7 losses. From this point the math is pretty simple: If they finish the season 6-2 or better, they break the 1995-96 Bulls’ record for most wins in an NBA season. After the game TNT’s talking heads all opined on whether the W’s should pursue the record or prioritize resting players to prepare for the playoffs. I found myself in the unusual position of agreeing with Isiah Thomas, who argued that there was no reason for the Warriors to blunt their own momentum by resting when no one appears all that tired or injured. Andre Iguodala has been getting enforced rest caused by a sprained ankle, and he is the only key playoff contributor over 30 (sorry, Bogut). The Warriors are on a roll right now. I don't see any compelling reason why they can't keep that going through the rest of the regular season and on into the playoffs. Yes, injuries are always possible, and that would suck. But why live in fear? Keep calm and Curry on, people.

Death of a Counterrevolutionary Man

Posted in Whatever Else on March 26th, 2016 by bill
[caption id="attachment_6830" align="alignnone" width="220" caption="Garry rocked the Bulb like nobody\'s business."][/caption] We lost one of the greats this week: comedian and TV star Garry Shandling. I feel this one more than most celebrity deaths, maybe because he had that special quality of seeming like a regular person who just happened to be on TV. It helped that he was funny-looking and always had bad haircuts; in comedy these things can be turned into assets, and Garry Shandling did it better than anyone. I am either proud or ashamed to say that, despite the fact that he was responsible for not one but two truly innovative, self-aware TV shows (It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show), the first thing I thought of when I heard he died was this:

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2016

Posted in Whatever Else on March 21st, 2016 by bill
[caption id="attachment_6824" align="alignnone" width="560" caption="Party like it\'s 1992."][/caption] I don't write much about politics, because there's already so much of that out there, and because I hate getting into arguments. But this year's presidential election has been so bizarre, so entertaining, and so frightening, that I feel compelled to put down a few words. On the Republican side, it looks like the nominee is going to be Donald Trump. I can't believe I just typed those words. Until very recently, no one took Trump seriously as a candidate, and with good reason. He is a walking cartoon character, a golem that someone put an orange toupee on and sent out into the world to wreak havoc. And yet he has continued to amass delegates while "respectable" candidates like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio have one by one gone down in flames. It seems to me that the key to Trump's appeal is his certainty. He projects total confidence because he really believes that he could walk into the White House and fix everything, because he is smarter than everybody else and such a great wheeler-dealer. Nobody who has any actual experience in government, and knows how hard it is to get things done, can replicate that kind of clueless bravado. However fake most everything about Trump is, the swagger is real, and people respond to that. In the words of the great American philosopher George Costanza, "It's not a lie if you believe it." Trump's only remaining challenger is Ted Cruz, who somehow has managed to emerge as the "reasonable" alternative, even though he is a far-right, theocratic, sociopathic wingnut. It appears that we are witnessing the Republican Party self-destructing in real time. Right now it is a flaming bag of poo, and soon someone's foot is going to come down to put it out. What remains is going to be a huge mess spread all over the place. On the Democratic side we have Bernie and Hillary. One of the very few positive things to come out of this campaign is the knowledge that a self-declared socialist like Bernie Sanders can gain traction with voters. But the writing is on the wall – it's going to be Hillary, and she's going to beat Trump like the red-headed mule he is. The only time I get excited talking about Hillary is when I've just finished talking about Trump. The idea of a Hillary presidency seems thrillingly non-apocalyptic by comparison. And of course it will get the whole business of the first woman president out of the way, and say what you will about Hillary – she is competent, and she won't fuck it up. Plus we'll get Bill The Big Dog Bubba Clinton back in the White House. It's going to be like 1992 all over again! Kurt Cobain is going to be be resurrected and make a new record! We're all going to start using AOL again! OK, probably not. But life will go on. That's something.

Star Wars (and Other Galactic Funk)

Posted in Dancing about architecture, The album project on March 12th, 2016 by bill
In May of 1977 I was about nine and a half years old – dead center in the middle of the perfect demographic for Star Wars, which premiered on the 25th. I wish I could say I vividly remember the first time I saw it. In fact, all of the viewings – and there were many – blur together in my mind. For awhile there my highest priority in life was watching Star Wars over and over again. I had no interest in seeing any other movie, at least until Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out six months later. No obsession that I've had as an adult rivals my complete fixation on Star Wars over the last years of the 1970s. And though at this remove it seems a little over the top, I don’t guess I can really blame myself. Star Wars had everything a boy that age could want: sci-fi whiz-bang, the hero’s journey, an overlay of mysticism to give things a certain flavor, and a cute brown-haired princess. In addition to reading the novelization, the comic book, and everything else I could get my hands on, at one point I went so far as to write my own Star Wars sequels in spiral-bound notebooks now unfortunately (fortunately?) lost. I also had to collect as much of the merchandise as possible, and since this was by far the most-merchandised movie in history up to that point, there was a lot to collect: action figures, spaceships, trading cards, light sabers, sheets and curtains, and on and on and on.... So of course my first LPs were Star Wars-related. There was the two-record original soundtrack and the Story of Star Wars narrative album. But it didn’t stop there. Because disco was still big, an Italian producer named Domenico Monardo, working under the name Meco, created a disco version of the soundtrack, which he released along with some other sci-fi-themed disco on an album called Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk. And of course I had to have that too. In retrospect, it is terrible. I am a little embarrassed to include it here, but it is so perfectly representative of the era that I don't think I have a choice. Brace yourself.

R.I.P. George Martin

Posted in Dancing about architecture on March 10th, 2016 by bill
[caption id="attachment_6806" align="alignnone" width="252" caption="There is no off position on the genius switch."][/caption] Sir George Martin passed away yesterday, which is certainly worth noting, though I don't have anything particularly original or useful to say about it. I think we can safely say that without his guidance, the Beatles as we know them would not have existed, and for that alone we all owe him a vast debt of gratitude. And I think he deserves a tip of the hat, as well, for his underrated contributions to the field of comedy; as producer of key British comedy records by the likes of Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, he had his influence on the Beatles of comedy – Monty Python's Flying Circus – as well. Fare thee well, George. You served well and long.

Amen, Sister Janet

Posted in Dancing about architecture on March 6th, 2016 by bill
Frequent commenter Merle pointed me to this video, which I find delightful on many levels: First off, it's a pretty good tune, surprisingly funky with nice guitar tones. But the video really makes it. The nuns – are they nuns? – in short white dresses. Some of the worst miming of playing instruments I’ve ever seen. The creative/trippy editing style. Whatever weird ritual they’re doing at the end there. And the 70s-porn-quality production values, which keeps making you think a whole different kind of scene is about to break out. Or maybe it’s just me. Happy Sunday, everybody.