Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Shot At The Title

"You want at shot at the title? You ain't even a contender" - Killer Croc

Sandwiches - their invention is credited to a John Montagu the fourth Earl of Sandwich. Whether this is true or not is of minimal interest to me. For your edification I leave a link for a slightly more complete synopsis of the origin of the sandwich:

So what are the great sandwiches of the day? What are the sandwiches that rise above the myriad combinations of materials shoved in between two slices of starch? Here is a list in ascending order, which I submit has a thoroughly New York City bias. The bias, it should be explained, is for sandwiches that frequently get eaten in NYC, though almost certainly not sandwiches that were invented in NYC.

Although technically sandwiches, I'm comfortable saying that the hot dog and cheeseburger have transcended mere sandwich status.

Roast Beef sandwich - the original sandwich as legend would have us believe the 4th of Earl of Sandwich had improvised during one of his many gaming (gambling sessions). With the deservedly bad rap beef gets for health purposes, this sandwich is in [relative] disfavor, but might rank as the only sandwich to be made in ever century since the concept of sandwich became known.

BLT - simple, classic, tasty and almost heathy - also spawned an imitator that ultimately failed (McDLT anyone?)

Grilled Chicken - the default, healthy sandwich, everyone has a version, it's ubiquitous and varied in approach; conducive to myriad combinations.

Pastrami on rye with mustard - does it get more Manhattan than this sandwich, it should actually be called the Manhattan, or the "Upper West [Side]" - i gave up beef a long time ago; i don't miss steak, rarely miss burgers, but how I miss pastrami.

Cuban Sandwich - not classic and as revered as some of its running mates on this list but so good: sliced pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard on garlic bread. No lettuces, no tomatoes, nothing cold; just meat, cheese and "sharpeners" to deliver lots of taste.

Chicken Parm - this is it, #1 - the sandwich that is a true meal unto itself; the sandwich that makes you say, "I give up"; an uncompromising sandwich: cheese, breaded meat, hero roll, tomato sauce; is there anything remotely healthy about this sandwich, no. You might as well have a cigarette after eating it, i know I do.

Which of course brings me to a question for which I do not have the answer but will be blogging about - who makes one of the best chicken parm sandwiches in NYC? What defines a great chicken parm from a good one and a bad one? Hmmm. More on the chicken parm later.

What's Moving The Needle? April 30, 2008

So what's the moving the needle this week? Let's take a look:

San Antonio Spurs - Steve Jones wrote an excellent article where he compared these Spurs to the Bill Russell era Celtics. Tim Duncan ~ Bill Russell, Tony Parker ~ Sam Jones, John Havliceck ~ Manu Ginobli. It's an apt comparison, highlighting very real parallels. It is increasingly apparent that Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all time and with four championships and two MVP awards his resume is gaudier than any player of his era (including Shaquille O'Neal); yet for all that Russell had five MVPs and eleven championships; edge - Russell. Sam Jones was a wonderful player, reputed to be a big time clutch performer but not really one enthused to play with that same intensity throughout the season. This was certainly a choice. Tony Parker has become an increasingly integral part of the Spurs dynasty every year and does not lack for intensity. In this current series vs the Suns, he shone; edge - Tony Parker. Manu Ginobli is a player who needs to be watched to appreciated. He does all the little things, fills the gaps and when the moment is right seizes the game. A tireless competitor and gritty player who is a direct descendant of the man they called Hondo. Everything good quality ascribed to Ginobli has been applied to Havliceck. In addition Havlichek won championships in a supporting role (the late 60s) and as the sharing the lead with David Cowens (in the 70s). Havlicheck was everything Ginobli is today . . . at a Hall of Fame level; edge: Havlicek. If you invite legitimate comparison to those Celtics, it's been a great career.

Dinosaur Comics - Sometimes excellence is defined by flashes of brilliance. Sometimes excellence is defined by the consistent output of great work. The two are not mutually exclusive. Most webcomics have a couple of central themes and conceits. Dinosaur Comics has the same panels everyday, which relieves the creator of various design woes and worries and allows his mind to have free rein as to content. What's been produced is a comic that is truly far ranging, eccentric, perspicacious and quixotic. It doesn't hurt that as a creator he, you know, produces consistently. (

That's it for now. . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's Moving The Needle? April 24, 2008

What's moving the needle this week? What's resonating with me from last week or just bears watching? Without further adieu:

Chris Paul - The Hornets might be one of the few #2 seeds to be less favored to win at the outset of a playoff series in NBA history. That's my guess. People cited "lack of experience" as one reason for the prediction of an upset (i.e. a lower seeding beating a higher seed). Two games later and the Mavericks have no answer for the Hornets. Not only that they don't really understand the problem of CP3. He is far too good for anybody on Dallas. One way to neutralize a great offensive player is to work them over on defense but Dallas doesn't have the horses. This series is over and CP3 is going be climbing up the Mt. Rushmore of point guards very quickly. Only Magic and Oscar are safe.

The Patriots - Former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh has reached an agreement with the NFL to turn over any materials related to "Spygate" and it's fallout. Look for the Patriots dynasty to be slowly discredited over the next few decades as more seeps out. The NFL is doing its absolute best to control the fallout, but history has a way of subverting these goals.

The Yankees - They are 11th in the AL for pitching (as measured by ERA) and running 4th in SLG with respect to hitting. They are 2 games over .500 at this, admittedly early, point in the season. The pitching is terrible; the hitting is excellent and not even firing on all cylinders. To say that Yankee managment has done an execrable job with respect to acquiring/developing pitching is an understatement. When you factor in the lack of any degree of difficulty as they have no real payroll restrictions the failure to assemble a serviceable staff is all the more glaring. Of course, overall, Yankee management hasn't done badly. They've gone deep into the playoffs in multiple years, went to the World Series in 2003, went to the ALCS in 2004 and have won the division nine out of the last ten years. Pretty good. You can't buy a world series, you just can't, but you can buy a playoff berth. The Yankees have done that. It's too early to tell, but this might be a year where they miss the playoffs brought down by their pitching.

Iron Man - The previews make the movie seem unbelievably good. The effects and production values are stellar. For all the hype surrounding the move, Iron Man is, at best, a 2nd tier character. Don't get me wrong, I really want to see this movie. If this elevates Iron Man to the level of the X-Men it's a credit to the movie, not the "iconic" status of Iron Man. "Demon In A Bottle" is a terrible story but like a virus won't go away. An often cited story about the emotional "complexity" of Tony Stark it is often cited by those who haven't read it. If you read it, you realize it's actually a terrible story and alcoholism is foisted on Stark; it is at it's best a shoe-horned "issue" episode that hits all the wrong notes. Tony Stark was a challenge to Stan Lee. How can I make a rich, arrogant guy into a hero? He succeeded. Making him an alcoholic later on made him more sympathetic or cliched, but it didn't make him better. Ugh.

Till the next time . . .

Blogging Is Hard/ Jack Kirby & Bob Dylan

So, for the three of you who read this blog; i apologize for not posting for five months. My bad. Here's some thoughts that I stole from myself; in that I uttered them during an long chat session with one of my frequent chat collaborators. However, it's content and I'm throwing it in here.

So i'm on a 4th world kick right now. been reading some of the stuff and I have 3 of the 4 omnibuses. I'm talking Jack kirby: new gods, apokolips, new genesis, orion, highfather, you know them well. Here's the thing; Kirby's 4th world stories are very uneven, yet he created something so spectacular, so truly mythical in their nature that it's no wonder that generations of DC writers loved his toybox. These writers were so aware of how epic and archetypal these characters were that in deference to Kirby and future writers they never were able to or were unwilling to advance the storyline unless it was an Elseword type of deal (Kingdom Come: Orion overthrowing Darkseid and replacing him as Lord of Apokolips). Of course that has now changed with Jim Starlin killing pretty much every New God in "Death of The New Gods" mini-series. If any writer should do this, it's Starlin. Starlin created Thanos who is very much the Darkseid of the Marvel Universe, but arguably far more successful in his universe.

Kirby created these timeless characters that were extraordinary even though the stories they were featured in were so forgettable. Kirby was like Dylan. Dylan wrote songs that sounded better when others performed them. This particular dylan-kirby metaphor only applies to his New Gods stuff, of course. Also, not to push the metaphor too hard, there are plenty of Dylan songs where his voice is quite appealing; I can't really say the same for Kirby's writing to that extent.