Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Obligatory Best Music of 2008 Post

I cross-posted this on the Tripletters blog that I co-write with a couple of friends. But here it is for your "entertainment". To clarify one thing, I didn't listen to enough music in 2008 to have much of an opinion on the "best" songs of 2008 - the 25 below are just songs I enjoyed.

Here are my Top 5 albums of 2008 and 25 songs I really liked and think you would too. A word of explanation on the albums - I've fully made the jump to downloads and am rarely listening to albums all the way through. I'll need to defer to Engaged Boy [former Boston friend who was recently engaged] since he's still buying vinyl, I think.


  • Hold Steady, Stay Positive

  • Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend

  • R.E.M., Accelerate

  • Kings of Leon, Only by the Night

  • Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

Honorable Mention: Play, Brad Paisley

Here is where I give a shout out to the best radio station in New York City, 101.9 WRXP, FINALLY, a station to replace my beloved 'FNX. Why am I plugging a random NYC radio station? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret Triplets, NY radio SUCKS. Sure, Fordham has a decent college station, but if you want to here anything recorded after 1994 that isn't Beyonce, Kanye or Nickelback, you were SOL before WXRP came along. WXRP is where I first heard new Kings of Leon, R.E.M., My Morning Jacket, Pretenders, The Hold Steady, Flobots...

Some of these for the first time - yes, having kids and working a job with unreasonable hours has the side effect of not getting out and getting to know that bands like The Hold Steady and MMJ are out there. So there you go - my new favorite band? The Hold Steady. Stay Positive is excellent from the roota to the toota, as Yacc is wont to say. My old favorite band, Kings of Leon also had a great release, but you can't top Stay Positive.

As for Fleet Foxes, I wanted to hate them since I saw their album for sale at Starbucks, but they are too good. Not every day music, but perfect for unwinding at the end of the day, or background to, I don't know, writing blog posts... My Album of the year - Fleet Foxes, S/T.

Songs (with vidoes embedded - enjoy!)

  • A-Punk, Vampire Weekend. Hey, I live near Washington Heights.

  • Oxford Comma, Vampire Weekend. No, no serial comma necessary.

  • Salute your Solution, the Raconteurs. Better than the last White Stripes tracks.

  • Horse to Water, R.E.M. Wow.

  • Man-Sized Wreath, R.E.M. Wower. Stipe is Really Energetic Michael after all.

  • I'm Amazed, My Morning Jacket. Yup. And this made me buy Z. Awesome.

  • Gettin' Up, Q-Tip. Check out Believe too. Tip's still got it.

  • Use Somebody, Kings of Leon. Sorry. I love these guys. Sex on Fire sucks, but 17 is good too.

  • White Winter Hymnal, Fleet Foxes. Best secular hymn of 2008.

  • Put On, Young Jeezy (feat. Kanye West). Autotone Kanye w/ a keffiyeh? Hell yeah.

  • Cath..., Death Cab for Cutie. "You were living someone else's dream." Saddest lyric of 2008.

  • Lost!, Coldplay. [sheepishly grins] I liked Viva la Vida too [/sheepishly grins]

  • Saved by Old Times, Deerhunter.

  • Magick, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals. I never really liked this guy, but this song is solid and short (2:20 or so).

  • Constructive Summer, Hold Steady. Yes. Let's raise a glass to St. Joe Strummer.

  • Sequestered in Memphis, Hold Steady. A business trip never sounded so good.

  • Magazines, Hold Steady.

  • Come on In, Brad Paisley (feat. Buck Owens). From the Streets of Bakersfield to the best guitar player in the USA. All of Play is tremendous.

  • Never Miss a Beat, Kaiser Chiefs

  • Sometime Around Midnight, Airborne Toxic Event. Much love for the De Lillo reference. Song is good too.

  • Handlebars, The Flobots. All-K, These guys are Cake, if they decided to rap.

  • Moab, Conor Oberst. Hyperliterate and Correct.

  • Boots of Chinese Plastic, The Pretenders. Some comeback.

  • Anything 'cept the Truth, Eagles of Death Metal. You sure this isn't QOTSA?

  • Take Back the City, Snow Patrol. Anyone else hear Mike and the Mechanics before and during the chorus?

By the way, if Paper Planes by M.I.A. is an official 2008 release? That wins HANDS DOWN.

Groups who released acclaimed albums I just can't get into:

Bon Iver - The mythology is a lot to get over. Saw him on Letterman. Meh.
TV on the Radio - I'm trying. It's not working. Sorry Brooklyn!
Portishead - Engaged Boy - Help me out here.
M83. Huh?
Fucked Up - Yes - I guess I'm not hardcore enough. Go Canada!

Off to macrame myself a pair of jean shorts.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Kickoff Thoughts

... Some random thoughts and predictions while waiting for Trent Edwards to throw his first 7 yard out...

-- This was the best news I saw all week.

-- I strongly recommend this piece at the Goose's Roost on what being a Bills fan is like.

-- Speaking of the Bills, I was back home a couple of weekends ago, visiting family and friends and was a little surprised at how economically depressed the general region is. Particularly the rural area where I grew up. The local grocery store (once upon a time Bells) closed up shop making the closest supermarket a 15 minute drive away. The closest movie theater to my mom is a 45 minute drive. You pass 3 different Wal-Marts on the way. Cause and effect?

-- And my mom is one of the lucky ones - owns her house, minimal debt, has my dad's pension to live off of. Most are much less fortunate.

-- Some quick predictions... AFC Division winners - Pats, Colts, Steelers, San Diego. Wildcards - Bills and Jags. NFC Division winners - Eagles, Packers, Saints, Cardinals. Wildcards - Cowboys and Vikings. Pats vs. Eagles in SB XLIII. Pats win.

-- Marshawn Lynch will rush for more than 1400 yards.

-- I will go under .500 picking against the spread.

-- I will enjoy several rums and tonic today.

-- Here are the quick picks (trust me, I had the Giants Thursday): Saints (-3.5), Eagles (-8), Dolphins (+3), Chiefs (-15.5), Steelers (-6.5), Ravens (+1.5), Lions (-3), Bills (-1.5), Jags (-3), Browns (+6), Panthers (+9), Cards (-2.5), Colts (-9.5), Packers (-2) and Broncos (-3).

-- The Sox will catch Tampa. They seem to be getting healthy at just the right time. Beckett looked strong Friday. Masterson has developed into a dependable 7th/8th inning guy. I would much prefer the Sox win the division and face the Central winner than get the wild card and face the Angels (although the Sox seem to have their number in the playoffs).

-- That's all for today. More interesting stuff later today or tomorrow.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Suck it Wilbon

I don't care if it's an "EXHIBITION" - it's football. Bills-Skins right now and the Bills are wearing the sweet throwbacks. To start off - great hit by Digiorgio on the opening kickoff followed by Bills recovery.

Have to say, it kind of snuck up on me this year.... Enjoy the football.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

You Can Stop the Sox...

You can stop them and contain them.

Funny story. I had an etire post written celebrating the Sox' 7th straight win. A funny thing happened on the way to victory. Julio Fucking Lugo. That's what happened.

Seriously, when is Theo going to get some grief for Lugo (not to mention the short leash on Renteria, A-Gone, etc.)? This guy is a freaking joke. He can't hit. He can't field. He doesn't even tug on his jock anymore so he even FAILS at comic relief.

I mean, seriously:

Anyway.... Might as well get it over and do Three things I noticed: (1) Youkilis is a baby. Nothing new here, but man, get a grip. Going that batshit crazy in the 5th inning over what really was a close pitch is asinine. He's a whiny player generally, but take stock of the situation. Getting thrown out in that situation (and it was close) would be like a defensive lineman getting a stupid unsportmanlike after stopping an offense on third and long.

(2) I think Ortiz's knee is actually o.k. Not sure if he had a cortisone shot and nobody's telling or if he's just working out whatever kinks he had, but he's looking more "normal" at the plate and was definitely hustling down the line tonight on the grounders he had.

(3) [Yes, I actually had the hubris to write this before the game ended] I actually feel a little bad for Tigers fans this year. I was one of the deluded who thought they'd tear through the season with a sick offense (every position player save one a former all star). I didn't realize how much their pitching would regress. D-Train is no surprise, but Verlander and Bonderman becoming (more) average were and that pen is just atrocious. The new guy (Cruetsa) wasn't that impressive tonight either. Shaping up to be a long season for them.

Some linking around:

Jere at Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory has an interesting history lesson on the '04 (that's 1904) Sox. Great blog - very interactive, if a little focused on Yankee misery. He also has the most comprehensive Blogroll of Sox blogs I have seen (although sadly not mine).

Looks like Red Sox Chick had the same thought process I had while writing this post. From "looks like the Sox are taking this one" to "WTF Lugo you !%#^$&!"

Not much else of interest in Red Sox blogdom tonight. So it's on to....

The Taxes Update

I'm a bit late with this, but New York City is looking to tax carried interest in hedge funds and other private equity funds. Right now the "unincorporated business tax", which taxes partnerships and LLCs at a 4% rate, does not apply to profits from investment partnerships, so carried interest is currently not subject to this tax.

Not sure about the Journal's take on this. Most hedge funds already operate out of CT to minimize taxes on the management fee (which the UBT already applies to). Those that remain in NYC do so because they obviously see a business reason to do so, regardless of the already MUCH higher taxes in NYC. Not sure an additional 3 or so % tax on income that, for the most part, makes up less than 1/3 of an investment fund manager's comp is going to spark a massive "head for the hills" response.

The most interesting aspect of this is that it will serve as an incubator for the larger federal initiative of taxing carried interest as comp. If investment funds do not, in fact, leave New York after this tax is applied, that may convince some legislators to back additional federal taxes on carried interest (some legislators are reportedly concerned about driving funds offshore).

The Death Update

Today, a titan who nobody has ever heard of. Morgan Sparks was 91.

He invented the "practical transistor." Why is that a big deal? It's only the precursor technology to basically every electronic device in use today.

An appreciation is here. The obit is here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's Been Such a Long Time...

.. I think I should be blogging.

With apologies to Boston (the band), I should either shut this thing down or actually make an effort to keep it updated. So. Here goes.

The Taxes Update

Lots of fun stuff has happened since the last update - we had Wesley "don't call me Wellesley, Jack Williams" Snipes sentenced to 3 years for criminal tax fraud. He is appealing. (obvious joke - his lawyers are also filing an appeal in his case. Heh).

What else? Oh yeah, the silly gas tax holiday. Real cute idea. Doesn't stand a chance of passing congress anyway. Wouldn't result in a reduction in gas bills more than a few dollars a month. I've been a full-on Hillary supporter throughout this process (see this for my initial long-winded concerns with Obama), but between this, her exploitation of the Wright issue, her cribbing famous Holocaust poems as anti-trade riffs... not much left there to like.

Except Chelsea. Mmmm.

That's it on taxes for now. Superficial I know. More detail will be forthcoming if I can manage to update this blog more than once every 3 months.

The Baseball Update

When I get my shit together, I'll post some pictures from opening day at Fenway. It was tremendous. Meanwhile, the Sox have been mainly as advertised, although it feels like they are on the verge of breaking out and having a nice 7 or 8 game winning streak, it hasn't happened yet. Only worrisome spots so far:

-- middle relief. Only Okajima has been really dependent. Delcarmen, Timlin, Hansen. Where's the second arm to pitch the 7th and 8th innings?

-- Dice-K. The command has been troubling all year, but he's just flat out getting lucky now. He happened to be pitching against a not-very-selective team last night (only Sheff, Ordonez and Guillen are particularly selective in that lineup), which bailed him out. Still, long-term, he's not going to be successful with a 1.5:1 K:BB ratio.

-- Ortiz. He seems to be coming around, but a chronic knee injury that doesn't seem to respond to surgery, treatment, days off is cause for concern.

That's about it. The other "disappointments" - Lugo, Drew, well we knew what we were expecting there, didn't we?

The Death Update

Taxwife has had a rough month. She lost both her grandfathers in April. One expected (cancer). One not. She is usually extraordinarily reserved and this was no exception. It is a tough thing - knowing "how to act", especially if you are the kind of person who worries about that on a daily basis. She was very strong through both services. Her grandfather (mom's dad) had an amazing turnout at his wake (or viewing hours). I learned many things I didn't know about him - president of local rotary club, many business connections in town - this was a guy who wasn't extraordinarily "connected", but a good man who naturally made friends and put people at ease.

But that made me think - why is it that there is always some surprise, some secret that we learn of people when they pass away. It's often something quite mundane, not the "he once killed a man for snoring too loud" kind of secret. Obviously everyone has aspects of their life and character and works that they want to keep secret, but these are often little nuggets of a person's character that you'd expect some people to wear as badges of honor. I don't have a ready example except for Taxwife's grandfather, who had these business connections and relationships, and all these friends who came out, but who was the most unassuming guy you'd meet. Something I found interesting. No more, no less.

That's it for tonight. More light stuff tomorrow hopefully. Take care.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quick Wednesday Update

Quick links while I marvel at the continued idiocy (and mad IT skillz)of Yankees fans...

Goose's Roost has a preview of tonight's Sabres-Lightning slobberknocker. Serves me right to go and blog about how great the Sabres are playing and then watch them get pegged by the Pens and Rangers.

A couple of the Deadspin guys have a new baseball blog - Walk off walk. Looks good so far.

What the hell is it with movie stars who cheat on their taxes? First it was Wesley Snipes. Now good ol' locust-eating, molar-extracting-with-no-novacaine Nic[k] Cage?

Hey, if the Wicker Man can't get away with cheating on his taxes, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Yep, Gaustad put home a sweet pass from Daniel Paille last night for the Sabres' only goal in a 1-0 win over the Leafs (watched in beautiful hi-def on the HHL network).

Figured the boys over at The Goose's Roost would be happy about this one.

Oh yeah, Miller was a stud too. Suck on it Wilmer Valderrama.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Odd's 'n' Ends

Getting back into this "blogging" thing -- thought I'd fill out a few odds and ends I noticed the past few days...

Thoughts and prayers go out to Joe Ferguson and his family (Joe is battling complications from Leukemia). Joe was the first QB I remember for the Bills, and I distinctly remember that while he was generally mediocre, he had some great hook-ups with Frank Lewis and Jerry Butler (and, IIRC, set a record for most attempts without an interception). Best wishes Joe.

Derek Jeter apparently has settled his tax dispute with New York state on undisclosed terms. He clearly agreed to pay something - wonder if we will notice that Derek will be less of a presence in NYC (see this post for some background on the case)

Shhh - the Buffalo Sabres are coming. Look out NHL. I've been saying all season that they have had a positive goal differential and just a matter of time before they would creep back into the playoff hunt. Haven't lost since the AS break.

Tax news -- Sen. Grassley said in an interview with Reuters that the Blackstone Bill is essentially dead, but that he thought the deferred comp bill introduced by Rahm EMmanuel last year has some legs.

That's all for now - the Beatles' yogi passed away - I guess that's the big obit for the day. Still having dreams about dad, although not that often.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Always Bet on Black!

Yes, that's my main man Wesley Snipes' line from Passenger 57. Apropos given the recent news of his exoneration of some nasty felony tax fraud charges (his bankroll will still take a dent - he's not off the hook for paying taxes).

Essentially Wesley had been filing returns and paying with bogus checks (so not paying at all), basing his argument that he is not subject to tax on what is called the "861 position", named after a provision of the Code that deals with sourcing of income. The argument is that Section 861 and its regulations define "taxable income" in such a way as to exclude most income from being subject to tax. See the Wikipedia entry.

This is an extraordinarily oft-promoted position that has been repeatedly shot down in the courts. So why did Snipes win?

For a typically arcane reason. In order for Snipes to be convicted for criminal tax fraud, it had to be proven that he did not believe that he was acting in good faith in avoiding paying taxes. Essentially, the jury believed that he was a victim of "bad advice".

Lots of commentary on this at the TaxProf Blog.

Still, it's not all roses for Wesley - he still owes 8 figures in back taxes and penalties and interest stands to serve some jail time for the misdemeanors that he was convicted of - failure to file returns (up to 3 years).

And Always Bet on Black? Seems to be true given that Richard Hatch was not as successful.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Peter King is an idiot

I usually try to refrain from criticizing prominent "MSM" sports journalists. Awful Announcing and Fire Joe Morgan (not to mention Bruce Allen at Boston Sports Media Watch) do a tremendous job already. But I couldn't let this statement by Peter King go by without comment:

"1. I think this was about the dumbest thing I've heard this week so far. When ESPN's Emmitt Smith was asked on TV about Plaxico Burress' prediction of a 23-17 Giants victory, Smith said: "His prediction will get him double-coverage.'' I can only hope Smith either mis-spoke or was somehow exaggerating, because to imagine that the Patriots would be moved to change their defensive plan against Burress because of something he said prior to the game is ridiculous."
Short memory Peter?

"Goat of the Week
Pittsburgh FS Anthony Smith. After his ill-timed guarantee (is there ever a good time to inflame the overwhelming favorites to win the Super Bowl?), Smith got beat for two long Brady touchdowns. I'm not sure anyone cared much about his statements, but why antagonize a great team?"

And from Jackie McMullan's game day story:

The latest victim of their motivational frenzy is [Anthony] Smith, the former Syracuse star whose aggressive defensive style was expertly exploited by the Patriots.

"We knew he plays that way, so we put some stuff to take advantage of that," said receiver Jabar Gaffney (seven catches, 122 yards).

"Lesson learned," said Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs. "A hard lesson learned."

Nah... The Patriots would never target a single player on the opposing team. They'd never design plays specifically to embarrass a player who called them out. Never happen, eh Peter? I mean, seriously, has he not watched Belichick, Brady, et al go for the jugular every possible opportunity? Now obviously the Pats won't triple team Burress out of spite, but you can be sure that they'll be all over him all game. What an idiot.