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Uncertain Principles

Physics, Politics, Pop Culture

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Time and Place

I'm making an effort to cut down on the amount of political stuff I post, as I'm well aware that I tend to sound cranky (mostly because the only things that motivate me to post tend to be things that piss me off in one way or another). As a result, there's been a huge upsurge in the pop-culture content of this weblog. The physics content will return in a week or so-- now that the term has ended, I won't be spending my whole day thinking about physics, and thus will be more likely to devote some of my free time to it.

For the moment, though, we'll add another post to the "pop-culture" column.

I threw an old mix tape into the tape player in the car this week, and heard the song "Every Generation Got Its Own Disease" by Fury in the Slaughterhouse for the first time in a long time (despite having mentioned it in the Ten Top Albums post, I didn't actually listen to the album aqt that time). Immediately, I flashed back to DC circa 1994-- it's just the right sort of song for that effect, catchy and sort of creepily atmospheric, plus WHFS played it every ten minutes or so one winter when I was in grad school. I remember sitting in traffic on the Beltway listening to that song, and can picture the inside of the piece-of-shit car I was driving at the time.

That got me thinking about other songs and albums that are strongly tied to a particular time and place. It's another odd category of music-- for whatever reason, while I'm incapable of remembering to do things like paying bills, I can remember where I first heard a lot of the music I listen to, but the flashback-inducing stuff is an odd subset of songs and albums. Some of these are tied to the time and place where I first heard the songs, but other times, they're songs that just became associated with some specific activity or another.

(As with the last list of albums, there's also a fair amount of weirdly confessional stuff here, particularly regarding my lowbrow taste in music back when I was in high school. But, what the hell...)

In no particular order:

And that's about enough of that. There are others, even more weirdly specific (Saturation by Urge Overkill reminds me of lying out in the sun behind the house I lived in for one year in College Park, and there's an old Genesis album that reminds me very specifically of a trashy fantasy novel by Raymond Feist, of all things (Duke and Silverthorn, respectively)), but this has gone on for a long while already.

Posted at 10:47 AM | link | follow-ups | 1 comment

Monday, November 25, 2002

Ragged Start (UMD 64 Miami 49)

(There's at least one person who reads this weblog who also reads; this will probably be familiar to them. For everyone else, I tend to write up miscellaneous comments about Maryland games that I catch on tv, and post them there. As I now have a "shrine to [my] ego" on the web, I'll post them here, as well...)

One of the many weird quirks of my fate as a sports fan is that I always get nervous when my favorite teams are facing a team with a really obvious weakness. When the Giants prepare to play the worst rushing defense in the NFL, for example, I know that I can look forward to 427 plays where they attempt to run between the tackles, and get stuffed. If they would just play their usual game, and let the rushing yards come as they may, they'd be fine. Instead, they consciously decide to pound the ball on the ground, and end up doing things like honking a game to an expansion team.

Similarly, I always get twitchy when I hear that Maryland's next opponent features only one player over 6'6", because I know that what will result is, well, what we got last night. Facing a much smaller Miami University team, Maryland consciously decided to exploit their height advantage and pound the ball inside at every opportunity, resulting in ugly, uninspired basketball as Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle chunked one two-footer after another. Faced with teams that have no obvious weaknesses, like Kansas last year, they can turn in brilliant performances, but present them with a small opponent, and they grind it out in the half-court set, and keep the game closer than it needs to be.

All in all, not a particularly inspiring start for the Terps, who looked more or less like what you'd expect given that they lost four of last year's starters, and are trying to integrate a bunch of new players. This isn't a team that's going to get an automatic shot at defending their title. Gary Williams played absolutely everybody he had (even starting Calvin McCall), and was mostly trying to see what he's got.

He's got some pretty good pieces, it's just a matter of putting them together. Steve Blake continues to do amazing things with a basketball (other than shooting it, that is)-- the around-the-back pass is the one that made the SportsCenter highlights, but I was actually more impressed with the fifty-foot bounce pass he threw in the first half (probably because I know how hard that is to do...). Holden and Randle continue to goon it up like they did last year as reserves, but they should be fine. Travis Garrison looks like a player with potential, and Nik Caner-Medley had one of the more impressive one-point outings you'll see.

For the most part, though, the game was a good display of the kinks that need to be worked out. Passes were dropped, rebounds batted around ineffectually, and easy lay-ups clanged off the rim. Drew Nicholas alternated between shying away from shooting the ball, and trying too hard to be Juan Dixon. As usual in the early season, the defense looked better than the offense, a problem exacerbated by the ugly, ugly, ugly pound-it-inside offense they were running.

A win is a win is a win, though, and Miami looked like a decent team. Maryland's got a couple more tune-up games, followed by games with Indiana (next Tuesday), Notre Dame, and Florida, which should provide a real test. They didn't look great last night (though the AP liked it better than the Post did), but they looked good enough, and will hopefully get better as the season progresses.

Obligatory Architectural Note: This was also the first I've seen of the new Comcast Center in College Park. It looks pretty nice, especially the "2002 NCAA Champions" banner up in the rafeters... It's hard to really tell much from a telecast, but it sounded good and loud. The only way to really judge, though, would be to see a game there, so if anyone has tickets they'd like to give me...

Posted at 11:37 AM | link | follow-ups | 3 comments

Death of Journalism Watch

The Washington Post article about the Maryland game opens with this paragraph:

A spotlight shown on Maryland's freshly unfurled 2002 national championship banner at Comcast Center for about 30 seconds yesterday afternoon before the lights were officially turned off on last season. The Terrapins then turned their attention toward establishing a new identity for the program.

Three words into the new season, and we have an error.

Posted at 11:34 AM | link | follow-ups | no comments

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Who Cleans Up After the Janitors?

The Washington Post's Michael Dirda reviews Terry Pratchett's Night Watch today, and says very nice things about it. In this, he follows in the footsteps of several other people, including your arrogant correspondant. Advantage, booklogosphere. Or something.

If you read Pratchett, and haven't read this book yet, go get it and read it. Now. This weblog will wait until you get back.

If you don't already read Pratchett, don't start with this book, but don't let that stop you from reading Pratchett.

Posted at 9:03 AM | link | follow-ups | no comments

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