Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Year in Media and Cities, 2010

Still inspired by Jason over at, I'm continuing my practice of cataloging some of the things I've done and the places I've been over the past year. You can find 2008's and 2009's lists by clicking on the numbers.

Here we go with 2010.

Cities I've attended, spending at least a day and a night in each locale
Alon Shvut, Israel
Jerusalem, Israel
Manhattan, New York
West Orange, New Jersey
Teaneck, New Jersey
Lake George, New York
Edison, New Jersey
Woodmere, New York
Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Spring Lake, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Kiryat Arba, Israel
Hewlett, New York

Movies I've seen on the big screen
Sherlock Holmes
Crazy Heart
Hot Tub Time Machine
How to Train Your Dragon
Death at a Funeral
Iron Man 2
Shrek Forever After
Toy Story 3
Annie Hall
Despicable Me
The Social Network
The Town
Jackass 3D
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Tron: Legacy
The Iron Giant
True Grit

Movies I've seen on the little screen
Young @ Heart
The Botany of Desire
Inglourious Basterds
Best in Show
Do the Right Thing
Winning Time
Big Fan
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
June 17, 1994
A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy
Futurama: Bender’s Game
Pulp Fiction
Get Smart
Futurama: Bender’s Big Score
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder
Little Shop of Horrors

Books I've read
How Fiction Works
Eating the Dinosaur
Killing Yourself to Live
The Mystery Guest
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
The Art of a Beautiful Game
Here is New York
Although of course you end up becoming yourself
A Sense of Where You Are
Cardboard Gods
Baseball Prospectus 2010
Loose Balls
Best American Non-Required Reading 2009
Baseball Between the Numbers
Into the Wild
Kafka on the Shore
The Book of Basketball
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
My Losing Season
Levels of the Game
The Human Stain
FreeDarko’s The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History
Cooking for Geeks
The Case of the Gilded Fly

TV I've watched
The Simpsons
Seasons 6-8, 13

Mad Men
Season 4

Party Down
Seasons 1-2

Seasons 1-4

Season 1

The Wire
Season 1

The Walking Dead
Season 1

Season 1

Each new episode of:
The Simpsons
30 Rock
Parks and Rec
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Modern Family

Sporting events I've attended
Monday, January 18
New York Knicks 99, Detroit Pistons 91
Madison Square Garden

Tuesday, February 9
Sacramento Kings 118, New York Knicks 114 (OT)
Madison Square Garden

Saturday, February 20
Oklahoma City Thunder 121, New York Knicks 118 (OT)
Madison Square Garden

Wednesday, March 3
New York Knicks 128, Detroit Pistons 104
Madison Square Garden

Monday, April 12
New York Knicks 114, Washington Wizards 103
Madison Square Garden

Wednesday, May 5
New York Yankees 7, Baltimore Orioles 5
Yankee Stadium

Monday, August 9
Boston Red Sox 2, New York Yankees 1
Yankee Stadium

Tuesday, August 10
New York Mets 1, Colorado Rockies 0
Citi Field

Tuesday, August 17
New York Yankees 6, Detroit Tigers 2
Yankee Stadium

Tuesday, September 7
Fernando Verdasco defeats David Ferrer
Louis Armstrong Stadium
US Open

Saturday, October 9
New York Yankees 6, Minnesota Twins 1
Yankee Stadium

Monday, October 18
Texas Rangers 8, New York Yankees 0
Yankee Stadium

Tuesday, November 23
New York Knicks 110, Charlotte Bobcats 107
Madison Square Garden

Wednesday, December 15
Boston Celtics 118, New York Knicks 116
Madison Square Garden

Plays I've attended
Tuesday, February 23
Rock of Ages
Brooks Atkinson Theater

Sunday, March 7
The Tempest
BAM’s Harvey Theater

Wednesday, June 23
The 39 Steps
New World Stages

Saturday, July 31
Twelfth Night
Divine Park, Spring Lake, New Jersey

Music concerts I've attended
Steve Earle with Allison Moore and Greg Trooper
City Winery

Saturday, November 13
The Baltimore Symphony
Carnegie Hall

So, on average, I've:
  • visited a new place every ~28 days;
  • seen a movie on the big screen every ~20 days;
  • seen a movie on the little screen every ~16 days;
  • read a book every ~12 days;
  • attended a live sporting event every ~26 days;
  • watched a season of TV every ~24 days (not including all the partial seasons);
  • attended a play once every three months;
  • attended a concert once every six months;
  • and composed a blog post (including this one) once every ~3.5 days.
It's been a busy year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Paragraph of the Week

James L. Brooks, interviewed in the January 2011 edition of Esquire:

I had an argument years and years ago with another comedy writer. Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman were biggest guns at the time--long may they wave--and we had ad argument about which one was number one. I took Jack, and I finally won the argument by saying he could play either role in The Odd Couple.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Important Announcement Regarding Beans

The recipe for white bean and garlic soup in Jeff Potter's Cooking for Geeks calls for soaking the white beans for several hours before bringing them a boil and simmering for fifteen minutes. The recipe is great and--as it turns out--informative. Mr. Potter notes:

Don't skip soaking and boiling the beans. Really. One type of protein present in beans--phytohaemagglutinin--causes extreme intestinal distress. The beans to be boiled to denature this protein; cooking them in a slow cooker or sous vide setup will not denature this protein and actually make things worse. If you're in a rush, use canned white beans; they'll already been cooked.

You can read more about phytohaemagglutinin here. So please, folks, soak and boil your beans.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Portrait of the Artest as a Young Man

A small art gallery in Toronto recently devoted a night to Ron Artest. The results were fantastic. Here's a slideshow of the works on display.

The Basketball Jones, an NBA podcast and blog, sent an intrepid reporter to check out the scene. Stick around for the end: Artest shows up.

TBJ: Ron Artest crashes Ron Artest exhibit from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Paragraph of the Week

From Nick Paumgarten's "Master of Play," a profile of Nintendo genius and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, in the December 20, 2010 issue of The New Yorker:
Miyamoto recognizes that there is pleasure in difficulty but also in ease, in mastery, in performing a familiar act with aplomb, whether that be catching a baseball, dancing a tango, doing Sudoku, or steering Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom, jumping on Goombas and Koopa Troopas. His games strike this magical balance between the excitement that comes from facing new problems and the swagger from facing down old ones. The consequent sensation of confidence is useful, in dealing with a game’s more challenging stages, but also a worthy aim in itself. “A lot of the so-called ‘action games’ are not made that way,” Miyamoto told me. “All the time, players are forced to do their utmost. If they are challenged to the limit, is it really fun for them?” In his own games, Miyamoto said, “You are constantly providing the players with a new challenge, but at the same time providing them with some stages or some occasions where they can simply, repeatedly, do something again and again. And that itself can be a joy.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hand Models: Creepy or Creepiest?

Ran across this interview with Ellen Sirot, hand model. Haven't been able to get these three minutes of weird goodness out of my head since.

Jason Kottke hit the nail on the head: "Sirot is constantly performing with her hands but it's also like she hasn't got any hands, not functional ones anyway."

Zoolander wasn't that far off...

Movie Videos & Movie Scenes at

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Paragraph of the Week

What made Wallace’s work so phenomenally powerful for so many readers, I would argue, has to do with its ability to connect three consistent impulses in contemporary fiction in a way that no other writer has managed quite so well. In Wallace’s work, we repeatedly see wed high-modern/postmodern experimental pyrotechnics not only with an incisive cultural critique but also with a deeply personal concern for quotidian human suffering. That is to say that Wallace’s fiction combines rich investments in form, in ideas, and in emotion. Any number of writers of the last fifty years can be read as bringing together two of these strains in contemporary fiction, but hardly anyone else has managed all three in a way that feels to the reader not simply sincere but unflinchingly honest. And it’s these three factors together, I would argue, that have something to do with the degree of connection that readers have felt with Wallace’s writing: not only is that writing serious enough to make the reader work non-trivially in its apprehension, and not only does the writing cause the reader to think seriously about the world in which she lives, but it also helps the reader, on some too often devalued level, to understand herself within that world.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Inconspicuous Consumption Key to Romance Novels

I love this. Romance e-books are flying off the virtual shelves at an unprecedented level.
Dominique Raccah, the publisher and chief executive of Sourcebooks, an independent publisher in Naperville, Ill., said her romance e-book sales had grown exponentially this year, outpacing any other category. In the first quarter 8 percent of total romance sales at Sourcebooks were from e-book sales. By the third quarter that number had gone up to 27 percent. (Major trade publishers say e-books now make up about 9 to 10 percent of overall sales.) “You’re seeing the real development of a market,” Ms. Raccah said.
Why? Some romance readers are embarrassed by the books' covers. But with the advent of dedicated e-readers that do not display book covers--or even let others know what book is being read--bashful romance readers are free to read away, without fear of being noticed by people you know.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Blog-iversary, 2010

Well, it's that time of year again. It's my blog-iversary.

Since we last celebrated together I've become something of a professional blogger, by which I mean that I get paid money to write on the internet. It's something of a dream come true, because I had been doing this for free. I've been fortunate enough to publish something in the neighborhood of 160 posts for Ifbyphone and PMI since January 2010. And yet this year has managed to be the busiest yet for The Daily Snowman, with more than 100 posts published since my last blog-iversary. As always, I'm surprised and grateful that many thousands of you decided to come visit (or, I suppose, a few or you visited many thousands of times), to read what I have to say. I truly appreciate your support.

My advice to anyone hoping to be paid to write is this: just start writing. My paid gigs are a direct result of this humble blog, even though I never would have predicted the path from a blog about snowmen to multiple paying blogs about phones. Writing begets writing.  Just choose a topic and start writing. You never know who'll be reading.

Let's go now to this year's edition of the Snowies. (Any resemblance to any of these Urban Dictionary definitions of the word "snowy" is mostly accidental.)

Snowiest Embedded Videos


Snowiest Series
  1. The Internet is Distracting
  2. Zippers on Baseball Uniforms
Snowiest Update on a Multi-Year Series 
  1. Yet More Evidence That Laugh-Tracks are Bad
Snowiest Recognition of TDS
  1. Matt Bucher's Las Obras de Roberto Bolano
  2. FreeDarko's Twitter
Snowiest 2666 Posts
  1. Initial 2666 Thoughts
  2. 2666's The Part About the Crimes and Literary Realism
Snowiest Weekly Paragraphs

From Pat Conroy's My Losing Season:
As a boy, I had constructed a shell for myself so impenetrable that I have been trying to write my way out of it for over thirty years, and even now I fear I have barely cracked its veneer. It is as rouged and polished and burnished as the specialized glass of telescopes, and it kept me hidden from the appraising eyes of the outside world long into manhood. But most of all it kept me hidden and safe from myself. No outsider I have ever met has struck me with the strangeness I encounter when I try to discover the deepest mysteries of the boy I once was. Several times in my life I have gone crazy, and I could not even begin to tell you why. The sadness collapses me from the inside out, and I have to follow the thing through until it finishes with me. It never happened to me when I was playing basketball because basketball was the only thing that granted me a complete and sublime congruence and oneness with the world. I found a joy, unrecapturable beyond the realm of speech or language, and I lost myself in the pure, dazzling majesty of my sweet, swift game.
And the great Will Leitch on LeBron's decision:
No, tonight, it felt like everyone involved — LeBron, ESPN, Bing, the University of Phoenix, Stuart Scott, the man who once chastised fans for having the audacity to boo, Jim freaking Gray — treated the millions of people watching like stupid, mindless consumers, empty lemmings ready to follow Sport into the abyss. Here, here are the Boys & Girls Club props. Here, here is your search engine. Here, here is your online college, Here, here is your Athletic Hero. Eat. Eat. Consume. You like it. You love it. You'll always come back for more.

They're surely right, of course. But never has it been laid more bare, and never did it feel so empty. It felt like a break, the moment when the tide crested, when we looked at the games, and their players, and ourselves, and wondered: Why in the world are we watching these awful people? It was a question impossible to answer.
Snowiest Posts About Ivy League Schools
  1. Yale School Musical
  2. Is Larry Summers the Key Character in The Social Network?
Snowiest Video Essays


Snowiest Movie Reviews
  1. June 17, 1994: Subtle Choices Are Choices Nonetheless
  2. Reviewing Avatar
Snowiest Books/Reading Posts
  1. How We Remember Sports: FreeDarko's Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History 
  2. Helplessness of the Self: James Wood on David Foster Wallace
Snowiest Posts That Don't Fit in Another Category
  1. Steve Earle in Concert
  2. Reader's Despair Syndrome
Lastly, I'd like to wish a happy blog-iversary to my blog-brother, Ariel at Troubled Souls Unite, now in its second incarnation. He's essential reading if you love music or if you would like to understand the ways in which the love of music is expressed in America in 2010.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Repeal Day

Call it coincidence or call it an expression of the zeitgeist, but sometimes the media output of a single year focuses heavily on a surprising subject. For example, two biographies of Pistol Pete Maravich were released in 2007. And when historians look back on 2011, they will remember it as the year which witnessed the release of two movies focused on superheros with the word Green in their names.

For some reason, people focused on Prohibition in 2010. Dan Okrent's book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition was named to The New York Times' list of 100 notable books of 2010 and the HBO's Boardwalk Empire proved to be one of the most discussed shows on TV.

Again, I'm not sure what motivated this sudden interest in a thirteen year stretch of history that concluded in 1933, but I'd like to think that the invention of Repeal Day had something to do with it. Repeal Day was started by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, a bar manager and blogger living in Eugene, Oregon. His initial Repeal Day post was published in November of 2006; maybe it just took a few years for the popular culture to catch on.

Repeal Day, of course, commemorates the ratification--on December 5th, 1933--of the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition. To learn more about it, visit Morgenthaler's Repeal Day site or, if reading is too hard, watch this video:

So remember, remember, the fifth of December, and celebrate by enjoying your constitutional right to have a drink.

[Newsreel video via @winemakerguy]