Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

Breaking News: It’s 2011

New Year's drunks

Photo © 2010 Cassie Melnikow

Well, in case you haven’t noticed it’s a new year! As usual, I’d like to give my fond farewell to the 12 months that just left us by wrapping up the best and worst shit I experienced during it. Instead of making one of those Feature websites, though, I’m keeping this thing to just a small post. This one’s been wanting to come out for a couple weeks now. I finally put in an hour and knocked it out. Enjoy (or don’t)!

Albums
Best: Elton John & Leon Russell – The Union (2010) – Dad actually turned me onto this one and I begrudgingly played it at work as I had nothing else to listen to at the moment. I liked it upon the first spin, but it wasn’t until the second and third listens that I truly appreciated it for what it was – a showcase of fantastic, solid songwriting from top to bottom.
Runner Up: Kanye West – Late Registration (2005)

Worst: Avenged Sevenfold – Sounding The Seventh Trumpet (2001) – I wanted to give some more modern rock a chance and Avenged Sevenfold was somewhere on the list. Unfortunately, Random.org picked this album for me. Well, “Sounding The Seventh Trumpet” has to be a joke. Bad screaming, amateur “melodies,” and noticeable mistakes on an album filled with way-too samey-sounding songs.
Runner Up: DMX – Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)

###

Basketball Games
Best: Atlanta Hawks vs. Dallas Mavericks (2/26) – A phenomenal, triple-overtime game with two near-equal opponents – in the Top 5 of all games I’ve ever seen! Jason Kidd had a monster game, leading the Mavs back from down 15 points with 8 minutes to go. At one point, the crafty Kidd even ran into Atlanta’s coach, who had stepped onto the court. The result was two free throws and possession. I’ve never seen that ever! Wild, wild game.
Runner Up: Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets (3/29)

Worst: Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazers (1/30) – Mavericks lose to an injury-decimated Blazers team who were on the tail end of a back to back. Ugly game that didn’t need to happen.
Runner Up: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks (1/3)

###

Books
Best: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics (2005) – I’m only going to do the best book of 2010 since I read just six and pretty much liked them all. Freakonomics just wins over Sex, Drugs and Coca Puffs as I appreciated the similar passion behind it that I see in my own NBA Sim projects. Eye-opening book, even though I wish they went a little deeper into the statistics and research of each essay.

###

Comics
Best: Infinite Crisis (2005-2006) – Just like the books section, I only read 6 new comics this year and pretty much enjoyed every one. The best was Infinite Crisis which is a sequel to the legendary 1985 Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline. What’s great is that the sacrificial protagonists from that first book become the villains in this. Great, though dense read and fantastic artwork.

###

Live Shows
Best: Kramer’s Reality Tour (1/2) – Ever since Seinfeld did the episode on Kenny Kramer’s reality tour I have always wanted to do it and 2010 was the year I finally did! Brandon, Steve, an unnamed officer, and I braved the chilly weather in January to board a bus hosted by the inspiration behind Kramer and see … a couple of places Larry David referenced in his show. To be honest, this wasn’t the most electrifying thing I’ve ever been a part of, but it was unique and spent with a couple of Seinfeld-obsessed friends so this one takes the cake.
Runner Up: Promises, Promises (7/30)

Worst: Next To Normal (7/24) – Went here with some friends who came up for the weekend. Usually, I’m not a big musical fan – the acting is over the top (as it has to be to convey to a giant room full of people), and the music is usually sub par (emphasis on advancing a story in the lyrics over interesting musical ideas). Well, this one was also way too melodramatic as multiple scene cliffhangers ended in Full House-style with someone running to their room crying. Ugh.
Runner Up: Comic Strip Live (6/5)

###

Movies
Best: For A Few Dollars More (1965) – Obviously, everyone is pretty familiar with the awesome The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, but I didn’t see the first two installments in this trilogy until this year. And, wow, good shit! Tons of style, great characters built from very little background, and it’s just very entertaining watching each of the three camps trade the upper hand the whole time. Highly recommended.
Runner Up: Platoon (1986)

Worst: Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) – I saw the original Mortal Kombat movie when it came out during the summer of 1995 and loved it. Upon successive viewings, it doesn’t hold up all that well. Still, I had always wanted to see the sequel just due to the nostalgia surrounding the first movie. Well, as I’m learning more and more, decisions based purely on nostalgia usually turn out to be terrible ones. I was cringing in the first 5 minutes of this movie and only managed to sit through the whole thing as a challenge of endurance.
Runner Up: The Expendables (2010)

###

Restaurants
Best: Swig [Bar] (3/26) New York, NY
I’ll keep this category brief and only mention the best place. Swig is a bar located just blocks away from our place and is a great place to grab a drink with visitors. The atmosphere falls right in between a dive bar and an upscale bar – perfect for this comic book reader in old man clothes!

###

TV Shows
Best: The Civil War (1990) – I recall watching a few episodes on video while staying at my aunt’s house sometime around 1994 but I didn’t seriously pay attention until I got these through Netflix this year. Wow. This series is 20 year old and it’s still breathtaking – the production values are incredible, it’s both educational and entertaining and, most impressively, it makes the entire setting of the 1860’s come alive. Now, I can’t wait to get through Ken Burns’ Baseball.
Runner Up: Sober House: Season 2 (2010)

Worst: Amazing Stories: Season 1 (1985-86) – This was a series I remember watching a few episodes of back in its original run when I lived in Long Beach, California. I’d never seen it since so I only had a few, hazy memories of it. Unfortunately, those memories weren’t very illustrative of the entire show. The episodes I remembered were alright … everything else was garbage.
Runner Up: Celebrity Rehab: Season 3 (2010)

###

Video Games
Best: Heavenly Sword [PS3] (2007) – I have a giant list of games I need to get through and to make sure I actually play all of them, I’m going in chronological order. So, I finally got around to the crop of games that came out right around the time the PS3 first debuted. Heavenly Sword was one of these and was spectacular. Interesting fighting gameplay, a gripping story, and the best acting I’ve ever seen in a game, it also was relatively short (about 9 hours). Great, great game.
Runner Up: Bully [PS2] (2006)

Worst: TitanWars [iPhone] (2010) – Gotta be honest: I don’t remember a thing about this one. I was in a phase of downloading a bunch of random, free iPhone games and these two were pieces of shit that lasted less than a day on my phone.
Runner Up: Bowman Attack [iPhone] (2010)

###

Video Game YouTubes
Best: Metal Gear [MSX] (1987) – Video games are, and have always been, a huge hobby of mine but I’m finding that I have less and less time to play all the games I want to. So, to satisfy this demand I’ve grown to love watching people beat games on YouTube. Anyway, this game is NOT the one for the NES – it’s the original one for the Japanese MSX system that the NES version was based on. Fucking awesome game, especially impressive for 1987.
Runner Up: Ultimate Spider-Man [PS2] (2005)

Worst: Brawl Brothers [SNES] (1993) – A lot of the games I watch on YouTube are old games that I either don’t have the equipment or patience to play. Brawl Brothers was a game my brother and I rented some weekend back in 1993 and never beat. As such, it was one I had to see again. Mistake – this thing is boring and shows how far games have come in 15 years.
Runner Up: Splatterhouse 2 [Genesis] (1992)

    Site Updates:

  • Added Grand Theft Auto IV [PS3] (2008) to Currently Enjoying
  • Removed The Bravery – The Sun and the Moon (2007) from Currently Enjoying
  • Removed Elton John – Caribou (1974) from Currently Enjoying
  • Added Crash Kings (2009) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added George Harrison – Dark Horse (1974) to Currently Enjoying
  • Added The Cape (2011) to Currently Enjoying

Current Mood: Rocking at Rusted Hero show tonight emoticon Rocking at Rusted Hero show tonight

Add a comment ...
What? No comments?!?!

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah …

Yep … I’m still not sure if I like these Friday Catchups at all. I’m definitely not a fan of the way they’re presented, so expect it to change as I go (of course, that depends on them surviving). Since I missed last week (that’s how enthusiastic I am about doing these so far), there’s going to be an overload in some categories.

 


What I’m Listening To:
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973)
Billy Joel – Cold Spring Harbor (1971)
Dr. Dre – Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath (1996)
R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant (1986)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1987: Video Thrilled the Radio Star
The Karate Kid Soundtrack (1984)
Hanoi Rocks – Oriental Beat (1982)
Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
Ringo Star – Beaucoups of Blues (1970)
Madonna – Erotica (1992)
Blur – Think Tank (2003)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1988: Radio Wars

I’m starting to finally appreciate David Bowie now that I’m in his good album period. “Aladdin Sane” isn’t as good as “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” but it’s still solid. I had high hopes for The Karate Kid soundtrack, but not even “You’re The Best” (the song playing during the ending tournament) was as good as I remembered as a kid (I used to sing it to myself when pretending I was doing martial arts in my backyard). I can’t believe I enjoyed Neil Young as much as I did and Ringo’s second solo album really ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 


What I’m Watching:
Sober House (2009)
Tough Love (2009)
Cassandra’s Dream (2007)
Lost: Season 5 (2009)
2009 NBA Season (2009)

“Sober House” is finally over … and just like it’s predecessor, “Celebrity Rehab,” each successive episode was less and less entertaining since the people involved were growing saner. There was an old-school “Lost” twist this week with the death (?) of Ben as a kid – which totally fucks shit up when time travelling. And I’m embarassed to say I watched the first couple of episodes of “Tough Love” – a matchmaking show on Mtv. I think I have a vagina now.

 


What I’m Playing:
PopCap – Zuma (2008) [iPod]

Zuma possessed my soul. There are 12 worlds, each with multiple levels and I was stuck on 11 for the longest time. As soon as I broke that seal, however, I’m unstoppable. However, just because I can beat the game without trying doesn’t seem to prevent me from still compulsively playing it on every commute.

 


What I’m Reading:
Dean Oliver – Basketball on Paper (2002)

I bought a comic to read on eBay 2 weeks ago but it still hasn’t arrived so I’m only reading one thing at nights (something I have to get used to). “Basketball on Paper” is so much better now that I have a few years of NBA Sim under my belt.

 


What I’m Doing:
Trying to start up a band again … booked 3 hours of studio time tomorrow in Smash Studios
Crying at every Dallas Mavericks loss

 


The Encore:

This is a couple of weeks old but I figured that I’d share it with all you non-NBA watching people. And, yes, he used to be a Mavericks last year 🙁

Ah, Radiohead. Back when you were content with being just the best rock band in the world …

Add a comment ...
What? No comments?!?!

Second Serving

Here goes nothing: my second attempt at this Friday CatchUp. Still not sure if I like it, but I’ll reserve my judgment after a few more of these.

 


What I’m Listening To:
People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon (2008)

As I mentioned last week, I liked their song “Vampire” which was used for a Dirk Nowitzki YouTube mix. I decided to buy their album from Amazon since I liked a couple of their other tunes I found on YouTube. Unfortunately, the album is really samey – all the songs kinda blend into one. Good for a single song listen, but not the makings of a great album experience.

Daryl Hall and John Oates – Whole Oats (1972)
U2 – Pop (1997)

Wow … I actually liked this Hall and Oates debut. So easy listening that I feel like I’m in a dentist’s office or a shopping mall circa 1985, but damn near perfect songcraft. I remember U2’s Pop album coming out in high school and cool, older kids saying it was “really good.” I finally gave the full thing a listen and guess what? They were “really wrong.”

Beck – Midnite Vultures (1999)
The History of Howard Stern: Act II – 1986-1987: Philadelphia Freedom

 


What I’m Watching:
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Long and slightly bloated, this crime epic is just … ok. It’s actually a bit amazing that a movie made by Sergio Leone and starring Robert De Niro about gangsters doesn’t deliver all the goods.

Lost: Season 5 (2009)
Castlevania Games beaten on YouTube
2009 NBA Season (2009)

 


What I’m Playing:
Gameloft – Block Breaker Deluxe (2008) [iPod]

Another subway commute game. This was actually the game I played before Mahjongg … maybe two months ago. But at the very end something fucked up and I wasn’t able to beat it. So, after beating Mahjongg, I decided to show some restraint and try Block Breaker again rather than buy a new game.

 


What I’m Reading:
John Kennedy Toole – A Confederacy of Dunces (1980)
Dean Oliver – Basketball on Paper (2002)

A reread of this classic. The first time I went through this book, I wasn’t really aware of the idea of “pace” in basketball. Now, having a year or so under my belt of doing my own pace research, I expect to get a lot more out of this one.

 


What I’m Doing:
ZogSports 3-on-3 Co-Ed Basketball

My team, “No Names” (ugh, I hate this name) has made it to the playoffs as the 2nd seed. Tomorrow, every game of the playoffs will be played and there is a maximum of 6 games we might have to play. It will be grueling, but awesome if we can pull out a victory. The rest of my team is made up of the winners from last year so it’s doable, but this year’s competition is supposedly way harder than last year’s.

Wednesday Trivia at the Banshee Pub (Team Name: Lost’s A Rerun) 4th place
High school friend, Michelle, is visiting us this weekend

 


The Encore:

I randomly came across this clip yesterday. I used to have an AOL account back in high school and, though I’m sure we had no problem cancelling it, I do recall AOL having some annoying business practices.

Mighty Led Zeppelin anthem + Nintendo bloops and bleeps = hotness!

Add a comment ...
What? No comments?!?!

Mini Blog: Comic Habit

I estimate I have a $600-a-year comic book habit.

Add a comment ...
What? No comments?!?!

Mini Blog: New Basketball Stats Book

In case it wasn’t already evident, I am a hardcore basketball fan. I am super excited to have just received an old, yellowed, 400-page book published in 1989 on basketball stats. People, it contains stats from the little-known pre-NBA leagues!!

Add a comment ...
What? No comments?!?!

Grouchin’

 

Over the weekend, I finally finished an old Groucho biography written in 1979 by Hector Arce. Now normally this wouldn’t have been such a huge victory, but I’d actually started reading it 14 years ago!

This was one of my dad’s books that I would always find in the “library” underneath the stairs back in our Texas home. I saw it enough times, and I was big enough of a Marx Brothers fan, that I started to read it for one of my 8th grade English assignments (I think we had to read a biography). However, I only got halfway through the beast since it was way too mature and thus boring for my 13-year old tastes. It’s amazing how much I would remember as I read … sometimes I even knew how the sentences would be finished!

Anyway, it’s obvious that Groucho was an amazing, once-in-a-generation talent whose stories and quips now approach legendary status. I’ve added all the Marx Brothers movies to my Netflix to give a more knowledgeable and older eye to his work, but the wildest part of the book was actually at the very end. I had no clue the last year or so of Groucho’s life involved a very nasty and very public battle between his live-in pseudo-girlfriend and his family over his assets. It was heartbreaking reading about the inevitable deterioration of a person so vibrant physically as well as mentally, but the pettiness of those who surrounded him made everything seem so much … lonlier.

Well, as the Schumie would say: “all in all” it was a good, if a bit dated, read. The writer of the book was actually working on this book with Groucho’s help so there are a few “real-time” Groucho-isms scattered throughout that were a nice touch. However, this posed a strange twist during the last few chapters. As Arce was involved in Grouhco’s life when the famous comedian died this means he was involved in the legal battles as well. Near the end I longed for an impartial voice as the author’s sudden use of “I” rather than “he” started to read like a Rolling Stone interview where the writer cares more about talking about himself than his subject.

Current Mood: Deadly (like Dirk’s shot) emoticon Deadly (like Dirk’s shot)

Add a comment ...
What? No comments?!?!

Bill Murray and the Lost Book Club

Photo © 2008 ABC, Inc.

First things first: I walked past Bill Murray yesterday. About 3 feet separated me and comedy greatness! I’m ashamed to admit that I did a double-take. “That guy looks like Bill Murray” (eyes look down, eyes look back up) “That IS Bill Murray!” Pretty awesome and it’s been forever since my last celebrity sighting … Los Angeles this is not. 🙁

In an effort to meet people in the Upper East Side, Cassie is trying to get us involved in a lot of meet up organizations. One she finally convinced me to attend is a Lost Book Club. Essentially, we read books that appear on episodes of Lost or have influenced the show (since we’re Lost fanatics).

The first book is The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. When I was first handed the book I confess that I wasn’t at all excited to read it. But after the first 10 pages I couldn’t put it down. The story revolves around a fugitive who is hiding from the police by living on a deserted island. Once there, however, he starts to come across some strange encounters.

I won’t ruin anything, but even if you guess what’s going on (and I did less than halfway through) I still found the ending to be both a surprise and poignant. It’s a breezy, 100-page read and never dull for a second (though, knowing the trick, some of the scenes seemed a bit forced). I can definitely see where this influenced the writers of Lost, but I have no clue what we’re going to discuss once the book club meeting comes around (I haven’t been involved in a book group since 9th grade). Alright, back to work!

UPDATE: Dammit, I keep forgetting to do blog moods!

Current Mood: Pretty Fucking Radical emoticon Pretty Fucking Radical

Add a comment ...
Comments:
  • Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 at 11:57 | #1

    I think I’m done with the whole Sonichu thing. I started being against it, got completely absorbed in it for a day or two, then learned the latest disturbing news. It now seems they’re after this guy for no reason, and they’ve turned vicious. Game over

  • Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 at 12:22 | #2

    There are definitely many mean-spirited people bullying this guy but I disagree with you. Just because some people take this too far doesn’t affect my enjoyment of reading about him or his work. I find him fascinating – it’s like a glimpse into childhood that’s communicated on an adult level. Plus I get several huge laughs with every read. There may come a point where I tire of Sonichu, but I won’t let other people’s actions determine that date. E tu, doh?!

  • Zepmoon
    Thursday, October 9th, 2008 at 15:43 | #3

    In your latest comment on Z-News you suggested I Man-Up to over come my sore muscles. Maybe I should do something Manly like join a Lost Book Club – yeah – that should spike my testosterone levels.

    Speaking of manly things, are you still playing and basketball?

  • Thursday, October 9th, 2008 at 19:13 | #4

    I haven’t played basketball (of the real life sort) in a while, but I’ve signed up for the next season which starts in January. 3 months to “train” … we’ll see if I finally live up to my Dirk potential!

  • Thursday, October 9th, 2008 at 22:07 | #5

    Turns out Bill Murray was on “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday” tonight…so maybe that’s why he was in town.

Bookin’ It

Montage © 2008 Stan Syckes

I’m going through a biography kick but the vast majority of these have been rock bios (in fact, I read Slash’s autobiography just a few months ago). I took a step back to evaluate my life and realized I like the sport of basketball a little bit but hadn’t ever delved (or “dwelved” as my old coworker used to annoyingly pronounce it) into the sport’s literature. This needed to be changed so I did some research and found two of the highest regarded tomes: the biographies of “Pistol” Pete Maravich and Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberalin.

There are some similarities between these two giants of the game besides just basketball. Both were seen as utterly dominant before turning pro and were hailed as soon-to-be NBA kings. While Maravich and Chamberlain certainly didn’t disappoint stats-wise, they always seemed to come up short on the championships in the pros. Both were named on the NBA’s 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players list … and both were the first ones to be dead after this list (Maravich was actually already gone by the time the list was made).

They also both lived relatively sad lives. Maravich was a god at LSU but graduated to a racially-tense NBA. Hailed as a great white hope he was drafted to and overshadowed a strong Atlanta Hawks team that got to the Conference Finals the previous year. His contract was the highest in the sport and he was a flashy ballhog: two characteristics that irked his teammates. Maravich also discovered he really didn’t have much of a soul having been brought up since birth to play basketball and nothing else. He died playing the game he loved of a heart attack (turned out this ballhandling wizard had been performing his magic his whole life on only half a heart!).

Wilt did win a couple of championships in the NBA but not nearly as many as was predicted. He did shatter almost every single offensive and defensive record, however, and is perhaps the only person who could have a chance at beating Michael Jordan in a “the best individual baller ever” argument. Despite all of his accomplishments he was always branded a loser, an outcast, and a freak. It was heartwarming to discover the real man behind all of the “Goliath” and “20,000 women conquered” tales that surround his legend. Though he lived in relative isolation for much of his life, Wilt actually was one of the nicest and caring and certainly the most entertaining men to ever play the game.

To be honest I thought these books were going to be snores as sports biographies just didn’t seem like ones that would have a lot of relevancy decades later. I was happily surprised to find that my prejudice was incorrect – both books are extremely well researched but written in entertaining, modern prose. Chamberlain and Maravich were revolutionaries of the sport and pointed at the future of the league but they were also men of their time; luckily their surroundings and settings are expertly described with a realness that I find lacks in a lot of other biographies I’ve read. As an added bonus this basketball historian loved the personal accounts and inner-team politics between famous teammates of the NBA past.

I would only hesitate to suggest both books to other readers since no one I know is obsessed with the sport as I am. I’m not saying I was biased during these reads, I’m just saying this material might be over your head in basketball knowledge!!!!!!!!!!

    Site Updates:

  • Added new blog mood functionality a la Livejournal

Current Mood: Scholarly emoticon Scholarly

Add a comment ...
Comments:
  • Friday, August 8th, 2008 at 16:56 | #1

    I read Slash’s book – and it was ok. As soon as he leaves Guns N Roses you should just set down the book.) But everything up til that was usually good, although he has a tendancy to not talk alot about the music and it’s pretty much the same thing over and over (ex: “So i was back on heroin…”) I also read Lance Bass’s book which is such a fluff (pun intended) piece of crap. It was really interesting when he talked about the behind-the-scenes stuff in NSYNC and discussed how he hid his homosexuality …but condense all that and you got about 10 pages of good stuff.

Bond Books: Check!

I was raised at the end of James Bond’s Walther PPK for most of my life. I remember inventing a way to comb my hair while living in California (so I was between five and eight) and calling it the “Sean Connery.” By the tender age of 14 I had seen every movie in the series at least thrice and had even attended the premieres of some of the newer Timothy Dalton ones in the theater (even though I had to cover my eyes when a mobster was blown up in a decompression chamber).

Agent 007 continued to be relevant to me through my high school and college careers. I had my first, terrible “date” experience while seeing Goldeneye, snuck inside and surprised some friends when I randomly discovered their parked car outside of a cineplex after seeing Tomorrow Never Dies, and I procrastinated from college work by starting (and not finishing) a James Bond fan site.

I had truly experienced everything there was to experience with the character … except the initial source: Ian Fleming‘s novels! In 2002 Penguin rereleased the entire collected works of Bond in great, stylish covers and my interest was piqued. The completist in me screamed to encounter all 12 novels and 9 short stories and I’m here to announce that, nearly two years later, that dream has been realized!

I must admit that I went into this endeavor believing that the Bond books would turn out to be Tom Clancy-ish: good reads, but hardly more than just plot point after plot point. I was enjoyably wrong! The books are polar opposites of their movie counterparts – with little to no explosions and gadgets – and all suspense and psychological threats. They are worldly, not just by having a dozen different backgrounds like in the movies, but with Bond’s dandyish comments on the best local food, architecture and customs of the places he visits. If someone speaks a different language they do so here with no translation. This really helps to give the impression that the reader is traveling with James as he methodically tracks his prey from country to country.

I’m not sure if everyone could get through all 14 books, though I only found myself bored during one section of one story. They really are extremely well-written and interesting and I recommend every one of them, but here’s a quick list of the best:

From Russia with Love – appeared on John F. Kennedy’s top 10 favorite book list. This is probably Fleming’s best-known book and it involves his most complicated plot. A whirlwind of espionage.

The Spy Who Loved Me – a Bond book with James Bond as a supporting character! Told by the point of view of the “Bond girl.” The closest thing Fleming came to a horror novel with the character.

Moonraker – just in case you want to finally see Bond not get the girl in the end.

Casino Royale – the first and best in my opinion. There’s almost no fighting, just a book about one card game. You’d be surprised how great it is. And Bond’s thoughts at the end of the book will surprise any fan.

Please also note that pictures from the Memorial Day BBQ are up on photoDB. Yes, this is the infamous night of clam shots, multicolor frisbee portraits, and when I nearly broke my foot.

Add a comment ...
Comments:
  • Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 at 11:59 | #1

    I need to read a few more Bond books. I’m afraid to admit that I have only read one – Dr. No – and although I enjoyed it I don’t believe it is one of Ian Fleming’s better works.
    It does highlight one aspect of the author’s personality that unfortunately was far to prevalent and accepted in his time.
    Racism.
    Throughout the book Bond makes derogatory comments on what he considers the ‘lower races’ – Asians, Blacks and anyone else who didn’t go to Eton or Sandhurst or who was regrettably born outside of the British Isles. These traits were left out of the movies and only the sexist characteristics of Mr. Bond remained.
    But, Fleming was a good writer and I should read at least one or two more of the original books.

My Baseball World Counterpart

I just received quite an Amazon.com purchase tonight. Win Shares is a baseball statistical analysis book by the legendary Bill James. For those of you who don’t know who he is … which probably is everyone (why aren’t more people into the statistical dissection of major league American sports :(?), Bill James is a revolutionary force in the baseball community. He started a new wave of interest back in 1977 by creating sabermetrics – the scientific evaluation of statistical data in an attempt to determine why teams win and lose. Through his series of Baseball Abstract annuals, he introduced multiple generations of baseball fans to such stats and formulas as Runs Created, Range Factor, and the Pythagorean Winning Percentage.

Now, if you haven’t ever checked it out, give my NBA statistical analysis blog – NBA Sim – a gander. Even though it’s still very much in its infancy and still seeking its own style and voice, I’m pretty proud of all the work I’ve put into it so far. Hell, I already have my first fan! Anyway, with NBA Sim, I try to virtually represent NBA legends throughout the history of the league as accurately as possible using statistical analysis of their individual season stats. I’ve done a lot of research into the best way to boil down all contributions a player makes in a game into one number that can be compared to Legends in different playing positions and eras.

What’s cool is that this is the exact same mission Bill James tries to accomplish in Win Shares only for baseball instead of basketball players. The difference is the level of research and complexity. My system essentially just weights each individual stat (points, rebounds, assists, turnovers, etc.) and takes about a minute to compute for each basketball player. James’ Win Shares involves 6 massive steps (pitching, hitting, fielding, etc.), each consisting of about 10 mini-steps, to determine for each player. Instead of weighting individual stats, Win Shares compares a player’s individual stats against the league average and then adjusts each stat based on era, home ballpark, and other crazy contextual factors. I would estimate it takes about an hour to compute per player.

Although it’s for a completely different sport and using much different stats, I can appreciate all the time and effort James has put into his research. In fact, I love just reading his descriptions of computing all the different pieces of his formula. Looking ahead, I can actually see that I’m grooming myself to become a Bill James of the basketball world … after a few years of NBA Simming, I would feel confident enough to start to do some serious analysis into the sport. I would fully enjoy trying to come up with a basketball Win Share counterpart … am I crazy?

By the way … the NBA playoffs begin this weekend. I have all of my jersies at the ready, though I still need to get my bedroom tv hooked up to the cable network so I don’t have to annoy the living shit out of my roommates by watching 24/7 in the living room. In case you need to get pumped up for this, here you go:

(1) Detroit Pistons vs (8) Orlando Magic
(2) Cleveland Cavaliers vs (7) Washington Wizards
(3) Toronto Raptors vs (6) New Jersey Nets
(4) Miami Heat vs (5) Chicago Bulls

(1) Dallas Mavericks vs (8) Golden State Warriors
(2) Phoenix Suns vs (7) Los Angeles Lakers
(3) San Antonio Spurs vs (6) Denver Nuggets
(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Utah Jazz

Add a comment ...
Comments:
  • Friday, April 20th, 2007 at 09:57 | #1

    this is the Doh Blog of the Century!!!