19 November 2004

Guillen to the now-Nationals; Sideways...

Much maligned Angels OF Jose Guillen was traded from Anaheim to the Washington team today, bringing an end to a relationship between player and team that ended remarkably poorly last season.

Anaheim gets:
Juan Rivera, OF
Macier Izturis, IF

Washington gets:
Jose Guillen, OF

To me, this is a wash, and as such it represents a good trade for both teams. Washington gets a proven power hitting OF with a great arm and some speed for little more than table scraps and has someone to immediately insert into the middle of their lineup. Anaheim, meanwhile, clears a salary off their books they no longer wanted and can apply the money to an even better player- Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Beltran, or pitching (which is what they should do).

I'm still sort of reeling from the Jose Guillen fiasco at the end of last season. I fully accept that he must have done something truly awful to warrant a suspension for the duration of the year- but short of something criminal, was it really worth it? Did "sending a message" to a group of guys who, by all accounts don't really need that message to be sent? Anaheim could have used Guillen against Boston in the ALDS. Oh well.

Speaking of Washington, it now appears they have taken a name- The Nationals. I was really pulling for The Senators, but this could be a lot worse. The article also states that the team will, naturally, have a red-white-blue color scheme. As long as they stay away from looking too much like the US Olympic team, I'm sure they'll be pretty cool looking uniforms. Depending on HOW cool they look, I'm thinking of getting a t-shirt. Updates soonly.


The Woman and I saw Sideways tonight, the new film by Alexander Payne. Payne's Election was a phenomenally funny film that continues to reward further viewing- who knew Chris Klein would turn out so bad after this grea performance?- and Citizen Ruth was a good movie at times. However, most of my skepticism into this movie stemmed from About Schmidt a terrifically overrated movie that was cartoonish, sitcomish, and very, very boring for long, long periods of time. Nicholson was OK. Dermot Mulroney was the best part- he seemed to will his cardboard character into some sort of significance. Whatever- this isn't about that movie.

Anyway, this movie was a marked improvement. The first notch in it's belt is the cast, and specifically Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church. Giamatti played the film's protagonist Miles, Church the antagonist Jack. It's more or less the story of middle age for men- one the best man, the other the groom-to-be trying to squeeze one last week of man time from the clutches of monogamy. You'll remember Church as Lowell, one of (along with Tony Shalhoub's Antonio Scarpatchi) the lone bright spots of the long-gone sitcom, Wings. He's a tremendously funny guy, and why he hasn't done more stuff since that show is a mystery, although Ned and Stacey at least partially explains it. He's a terrific self-obsessed asshole in Sideway, the role suits him.

Giamatti is, without a doubt, one of my favorites. Some of his career highlights:
Private Parts (1997)
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Truman Show (1998)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Cradle Will Rock (1999)
Man on the Moon (1999)
Storytelling (2001)
Planet of the Apes (2001)
American Splendor (2003)
Sideways (2004)

I'll be honest- those are the only films I've seen him in, but there's a point there- I've never seen him "off his game." Not all of those movies are that great- in fact, some are plain awful (he was literally the only thing that kept me from walking out of Planet of the Apes), but Giamatti is still great in all of them. Private Parts, arguably his signature role, may be one of the funniest and most pathetic character depictions commited to film- Pig Vomit is so desperately unhappy, angry, and frustrated, you can feel his manic energy. I could go into a treatise on each role- that's how great he is- but I won't. You get it- he's a genius.

Small aside- he is the son of former Commissioner of Baseball and President of Yale University, A Bartlett Giamatti. Mr. Giamatti died September 1st, 1989 while in office as Baseball Commissioner. For some strange reason, I always had this unreal affection for him. My guess is, he was on TV a lot during the Pete Rose scandal- the exact time that I was forming a love for baseball. I remember the exact spot on which I stood when I found out he died, coincidentally. My family was vacationing in Rhode Island, sans fathers with a family friend's family- the Delcos. I was in love with the Mets (for a year- my evil aunt's evil boyfriend did it to me- and I was back on the good side soon thereafter), and I recall the eulogies and shocked news reports. It was a sudden heart attack. Anyway, in Sideways, there is a scene in which Giamatti's Miles looks plaintively at some photos of him with his various family members, including is dead father. The picture is a real one of Giamatti and his actual father. It was a treat catching that, as I've always really admired the man.

So the movie was good. Like any other Payne film, it can devolve into frightening inertia for long periods of time, but like, for instance, Election, it can be laugh-out-loud funny. Church pleading that a group of women "totally wanted to party with [them]," Miles the wine connisieur claiming, "FUCK that, if anyone orders any FUCKING Merlot, I'm leaving..." Sideways was wonderfully performed and a great character study- it slowed down a bit too much on occasion, but it was worth the effort. In all honesty, I don't even really know if I've gotten my head totally around this one yet.


Finally, Rolling Stone, my favorite magazine to piss on, actually put out a fun issue this period, chronicling the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." I know. 500. It seems like a lot- but the list goes surprisingly deep with quality. I'm guessing Stone put this issue out to sort of cope with the inevitable embarassment of creating a list not three years ago- "Top 100 Pop Songs of All Time" with the Backstreet Boys in the top 10. It was "I Want it That Way."

Here's the top twenty:

  1. Bob Dylan- "Like a Rolling Stone"

  2. Rolling Stones- "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

  3. John Lennon- "Imagine"

  4. Marvin Gaye- "What's Going On"

  5. Aretha Franklin- "Respect"

  6. Beach Boys- "Good Vibrations"

  7. Chuck Berry- "Johnny B. Goode"

  8. The Beatles- "Hey Jude"

  9. Nirvana- "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

  10. Ray Charles- "What'd I Say"

  11. The Who- "My Generation"

  12. Sam Cooke- "A Change is Gonna Come"

  13. The Beatles- "Yesterday"

  14. Bob Dylan- "Blowin' in the Wind"

  15. The Clash- "London Calling"

  16. The Beatles- "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

  17. Jimi Hendrix- "Purple Haze"

  18. Chuck Berry- "Maybellene"

  19. Elvis Presley- "Hound Dog"

  20. The Beatles- "Let It Be"

The initial reaction is to point out the faults- "Imagine" could be a lot lower in my opinion, as could "Blowin' in the Wind." A song like "Gimme Shelter" by the Stones could be a lot higher, as could "God Only Knows" and "A Day in the Life." "Let It Be," and "Maybellene," though great songs, had no place in the top twenty. "Purple Haze" too, for instance, was not the greatest Hendrix song to include this high.

But all in all, they did a good job on the list. There needs to be a distinction made- no matter what they may be saying, this list is not a qualitative exercise. Instead, it's an evaluation of rock culture, and what made it what it is. Surely no one still thinks that "Like a Rolling Stone" is Dylan's best song, or "Satisfaction" The Stones best, or "Teen Spirit" Nirvana's peak (that'd be "It's Alright, Ma," "Tumbling Dice," and "Lithium" of course) but they are what they are- certified 5 minute cultural revolutions. Simply put, nothing was the same before or after all three of these songs and, to varying degrees, the rest of the top 500. That effect diminishes as you descend the list, but really, they did an admirable job. It could be worst. My top ten:

  1. Rolling Stones- "Satisfaction"

  2. The Beach Boys- "Good Vibrations"

  3. The Beatles- "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

  4. Bob Dylan- "Like a Rolling Stone"

  5. Public Enemy- "Fight the Power"

  6. Nirvana- "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

  7. The Beatles- "A Day in the Life"

  8. Otis Redding- "I've Been Loving You Too Long"

  9. Aretha Franklin- "Respect"

  10. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles- "Tracks of My Tears"

Just off the top of my head. The Beatles had a staggering 22 songs in the tope 500- by comparison, The Stones were second with 14, Dylan with 12 and Elvis with 11. Beatles, Stones, Dylan and Elvis. Makes sense right? Here are the leaders-

The Beatles- 22
The Rolling Stones- 14
Bob Dylan- 12
Elvis Presley- 11
The Beach Boys- 7
Jimi Hendrix- 7
U2- 7
Chuck Berry- 6
James Brown- 6
Prince- 6
Led Zeppelin- 6
Sly and the Family Stone- 6


Just saw the Pacers/ Pistons things. FUCKING insane. I've never seen anything like it. Ever. Wow. Punches, brawl in the stands, players getting doused with soda/ liquids. I just don't even know what to think.

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/23/2005 6:30 AM  

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