The Fred Hoiberg Rule

August 16th, 2005

The National Basketball Association (NBA) implemented an amnesty clause by which the teams may avoid luxury tax by releasing a player under the clause. This was a one-time deal for the teams to waive any player and be released from obligation to pay the tax associated with that player's contract.

For many years the state of economics in the New York Knicks' clubhouse has been the subject of many jokes. Over time the organization has become notorious for signing players at the end of their careers for long-term lucrative contracts. One such player is Allan Houston.

To further the humor cloud that hovers above New York, the amnesty clause became casually referred to as the "Allan Houston Rule". The clause was to allow teams to keep some money they would otherwise be forced to pay when waiving a player. As it is a once-in-a-lifetime option, it was understood that you would waive the player who is the biggest financial drain on the team. For the Knicks, that would arguably be Allan Houston. Or so we thought.

On the final day to waive players under the amnesty clause, the New York Knicks waived Jerome Williams a/k/a "The Junkyard Dog". Was this a joke? They did not call it the "Jerome Williams Rule" it was the "Allan Houston Rule"! I feel so lied to. Apparently the Knicks may be bailed out of all financial obligation by insurance money if Houston's knee prevents him from returning to action, but what an anticlimactic end to this story.

Other players' contracts waived by current or former teams were Michael Finley (Dallas), Ron Mercer (New Jersey), Calvin Booth (Milwaukee), Troy Bell (Memphis), Clarence Weatherspoon (Houston), Alonzo Mourning (Toronto), Vin Baker (Boston), Derrick Coleman (Detroit), Wesley Person (Miami), Eddie Robinson (Chicago), Howard Eisley (Phoenix), Doug Christie (Orlando), Aaron McKie (Philadelphia), Brian Grant (Los Angelos Lakers), Derek Anderson (Portland) and last but certainly not least Fred Hoiberg (Minnesota).

More details are available from Sportsline.

Broken Flowers

August 16th, 2005

Director Jim Jarmusch, best known to me for his work in making Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai, first worked together with Bill Murray in Coffee and Cigarettes before getting back together two years later to make Broken Flowers.

Broken Flowers features Bill Murray acting in a role similarly caught up in the mundane passing of time as was his character in Lost in Translation. Murray plays Don Johnston...with a T...a "middle aged Don Juan" with a whose past relationships with women are to be admired. As he says, he was just living his life when one day he receives a mysterious letter which had neither a return address nor a signed name. The letter read that it was from a woman from 20 years into Don's past and that shortly after they went their separate ways she gave birth to a son. Don's son.

Winston, Don's sleuth-obsessed neighbor gets involved to discover the origin of the letter. His blueprint involves Don creating a list of possible women from which he will plan an itinerary. The choice, then, is Don's; whether or not to set out on this wild goose chase to find a woman who may or may not have given birth to his child.

The movie was good. It was not great, it was not incredible, it was not wonderful. It was good. I think it COULD HAVE BEEN great, incredible and/or wonderful. Something was missing.

Winston was the loveable character. It was his role that should have been developed further. He and his family with their relationship to Don could have been used more. Maybe a few less cut scenes to watch a plane take off.

I understand that the idea was to let Don embark on an outwardly manifested journey into himself, but so many solo shots of Murray sitting quietly as he learned more about himself made the movie progress too slowly.

I know I broke the cardinal rule of movie watching and entered the theater last night with expectation(s) for this film. Granted I had not heard much of the movie itself, only that Murray was great. I will concede this point, but with exceptions. To an extent I will draw a parallel between Bill Murray in Broken Flowers and Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Both men were great in their respective roles, the problem was that maybe the roles themselves needed work. The Terminal was a horrible film, so I will go no further in using the two movies in the same sentence. I said before, Broken Flowers is a good movie.

I laughed (maybe too) loudly at many points. That is part of what made the movie difficult for me as I would laugh so hard and then there would be such a long lull before the next laugh. This emphasized some parts of the movie as being slower than I believe they really were upon reflection; the contrast was too great.

There were two things that I definitely enjoyed about Jarmusch's direction. One, though it made me a bit nauseous, was his camera shot out Don's driver side window. The shot is right out the window, including the reflection in the side mirror. This shows Don on his journey through his past to maybe find a piece of his future. We watch the world pass by his window then vanish into the horizon. The second technique was the use of basketball hoops. Winston instructed Don to keep an eye out for clues that may indicate which of the women mothered a son. Each neighborhood he travels to shows a basketball hoop. The hoops are used as hope that maybe he is on the right path.

I was also fascinated by the newfound desire in a man who had never exhibited any signs of wanting a family of his own to find his son in the face of every 19 year old young man he passed on the street. ...So I guess that was three things I liked....

Either go in committed to "the long haul" or maybe get antsy in your uncomfortable theater seat, either way the movie is good. Maybe Jim Jarmusch will just let me see his next script ahead of time so we can work in a few more jokes to keep up the intensity. Until then, go see Broken Flowers. (Oh and I recommend Ghost Dog, too.)

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Dropped Change.

August 15th, 2005

Someone please explain to me the accepted course of action when it comes to dropped change. You may rifle through your pocket to fish out your car keys or maybe you had to dig through a purse with God knows what contents and oops, some change falls out. How the coins fall out is unimportant, what I need to know comes after the fact.

Do you pick it up? Is there ever a fear of looking too stingy with your pennies where you must pick up all change dropped? Is there a specific amount that below this threshold you do not bother? Perhaps only certain denominations are gathered, the rest left behind? May you then appear too snobby because you act as though your balance sheet can take the hit? Would you go so far as to chase a coin that happens to land on edge thus rolling away? What if you drop one or more coins at the feet of a stranger, will you poke around or write it off as a loss?

Have you ever picked up the change of another? Would you? I don't mean "Hey, I found a quarter" or a even a "lucky penny." I mean when you see someone drop a coin or two, maybe they can't find it, maybe they are the type not to be trifled with mere pocket change, or even better you beat them to it. It must then be fair game under the internationally accepted FKA, or Finders Keepers Act, which I believe was adopted at a Geneva Convention. So, do you pick it up?

I witnessed a man drop what, from a safe distance, appeared to be $0.06 (nickel + penny) as I approached the Post Office on Official Privatjokr business. He turned quickly to swoop up the change and place it in his pocket before it was reported missing. It looked as if he had turned so quickly that maybe he had more change in his pocket and did not know the exact damage. There is a good amount of foot traffic in and out of the Post Office at lunch time. You know that guy had to think about his actions while bending down to reclaim his 6/100 of a dollar, right? Did any of the questions above cycle through his head? Maybe they all did, each in turn. He was past the point of no return already, so even the conclusion that the money did not fit the equation equaling his picking it up was irrelevant, but he sure got me thinking. Where else to share life's many questions than with the three people that read my ramblings!?

My To-Read-Pile Philosophy.

August 13th, 2005

Many readers maintain a constant surplus of books from which they may choose what to read next. The idea of a to-read-pile for some is literal; for others it is figurative. Different people have different approaches to their to-read-pile. My pile is figurative. I know that I have a home full of books, some I have read, many I have not. Of those I have not read, I do not even plan currently to read each and every one. I do not plan too far in advance, the order in which I will read my books. When I am nearly finished with the book I am reading I will pick what will be next. And for people who finish a book with no plans to even go to their local library to choose the next one, I do not know how you do it. You are stronger than I. I will actually not finish a book until I have picked what is next so at the moment I am ready I may pick up the next and get started. Finish one book, reflect, start the next.

Using a literal to-read-pile where you have an actual order for the books you will read subsequently is not for me. A lot of which book I choose depends on my current mood and how busy I will be for the upcoming week or two. If I know I will be swamped I will try to choose something that is lighter; an easier read. If I know I do not have many things scheduled I might try to tackle a book that requires a little more time and attention. It is very difficult to plan that more than a book or two in advance.

I have a difficult enough time when I travel. If I am going away for an extended period of time (3+ days) I try to pack in a "just in case" manner. It is funny when I am able to discuss this approach with other reader travellers. I take the book I am reading and one, two, maybe even three more books. The number of books then will depend upon number of pages, writing style, content and of course how much time I will have to devote to reading on my trip. The time I have available to read starts with a wait in the airport before each leg of my trip and then each leg of my round-trip flight. It is hard enough choosing a small handful of books to bring along when I fly, let alone planning say months in advance. Have I ever finished that many books on a trip? No. Why take so many? Because I can never not be reading a book, even though I am not always actually in the act of reading it. I guess it is a character flaw.

I am not sure I could ever, and I know I would never, try to place a stay on my book buying. Sure I have a lot of good books at home that I have not yet read, but there is so much excitement in buying new books. The idea of "I will not buy another book until I have read every book that I currently own" does not appeal to me. I have a company in New York that sends me books monthly and I generally treat myself to an order from every month or two.

When those packages arrive I am like a kid on Christmas. Even though from Amazon I know what is in the box, I cannot wait to get it open. Why place a hold on that feeling? I cannot find a reason to do so.

Exam time.

August 12th, 2005

Exam week is almost over. For those of use who only have two classes, exam week is only half over, but who is counting? The question that popped into my head when I drove home last night after my test (by way of the Chinese restaurant) was a simple one, as most of my thoughts are.

Is there some rule that we learn at an early age whereby we feel that the harder we grip the pen/pencil and the harder we press it to the paper our words will become more intelligent?

When I had finished the second essay on last night's exam I couldn't put my pen down. My hand had actually cramped and was stuck in the writing position. Did I think the proctor for the exam may come and attempt to disarm me of my pen? Why on Earth do we hold on so tightly and write so darkly on the page in those situations?

I am anticipating having to switch to my off hand to finish the essay on tonight's exam. My writing hand might not be up to two consecutive nights of law school exams. Maybe I will soak my hand in a bucket of ice tonight.

Or maybe I'll just go to the bar when the test is over...

August 11th, 2005

Things are turning for the bright side.

The 2005 Man Booker Prize (Nominees)

August 11th, 2005

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction represents the very best in contemporary fiction. One of the world’s most prestigious awards, and one of incomparable influence, it continues to be the pinnacle of ambition for every fiction writer. It has the power to transform the fortunes of authors, and even publishers. In 2004, not only did Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty reach the bestseller lists, but previous winners The Life of Pi (2002) and Vernon God Little (2003) were also amongst the bestselling books of the year.

The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
The Sea by John Banville The Sea by John Banville
Arthur & George by Julian Barnes Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry
Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee Slow Man by J.M. Coetzee
In the Fold by Rachel Cusk In the Fold by Rachel Cusk
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
All For Love by Dan Jacobson All For Love by Dan Jacobson
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
Saturday by Ian McEwan Saturday by Ian McEwan
The People’s Act of Love by James Meek The People’s Act of Love by James Meek
Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie Shalimar The Clown by Salman Rushdie
The Accidental by Ali Smith The Accidental by Ali Smith
On Beauty by Zadie Smith On Beauty by Zadie Smith
This Thing Of Darkness by Harry Thompson This Thing Of Darkness by Harry Thompson
This Is The Country by William Wall This Is The Country by William Wall

Note: This is the longlist. The shortlist will be announced on September 8 and the winner will be announced on October 10.

Looking to fill the void.

August 11th, 2005

One of the steps, though I guess I am not sure which one, in dealing with the two year wait for the next Harry Potter is to find another series to read and help pass the time. Yes, there are many books published, but I am looking for something a little more fun in line with the Potter series.

Wil actually took the initiative and began asking around for a series that would help curb his appetite before Book 7. The first series suggested was The Edge Chronicles. After hearing that I did what I do best and started playing around on this glorious internet and came across the Artemis Fowl series.

One thing that will help is that book two of The Inheritance Series (author of Eragon) comes out soon. And even though it is a lot different from Harry, I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy so that probably does not help me. But for more Tolkien I have been meaning to read The Silmarillion.

Has anyone read any of the above books/series (primarily the Edge Chronicles and Artemis Fowl)? Are they any good? Do you have any other suggestions for me and others?

The Game of Golf: How Beautifully Obscene.

August 10th, 2005

There is a very unique phenomenon that occurs around the links that I will ask you now to consider. There exists a nearly perfect correlation between a player's handicap and his creative use of swear words. As you stray farther and farther from that elusive myth of "par", the creative juices begin to flow. I have heard stories of par, but never seen it myself. I am not even sure it even exists. Perhaps the idea was simply created by a man who was trying to invent vulgarity. If that was the case, good show! You have succeeded, my boy.

I have known some decent golfers in my day and might I say that they would make their mothers proud. They do not use any foul or offensive language. Basically this means that not only do they make you mad by beating you in golf, but they also prevent you from having any fun.

On the other hand, I have known my fair share of bad golfers. We are the majority; golf is not an easy game to play. I am a firm believer that swearing (or cussing if you prefer) was born on the golf course and from there golfers over time have developed some incredible phrases. We all have our favorites. If it were not for golf, I would have an empty bag of unnecessarily elaborate uses for a select few four letter words. "#$%@ me and the horse I rode in on" and "$#@& me running" were probably my two greatest take-a-ways from the golf course. There are some people I only golf with to hear what they will come up with next.

You never know when to expect the next gem, but the more time you spend on the course (with bad golfers of course) the more likely you are to be present at its birth. It is an exciting thing and I can only wish that you have the opportunity to hear some good ones in you time, though I am confident you will if you have not already.

August 9th, 2005
So I Married an Axe MurdererCharlie: I want you to have my children. And I want you to have your children...That sounds like an awful lot of children.