Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Yo! Philly's the "Next Great City!"

Well, all I can say is, "It's about time." My favorite city, Philadelphia (despite my spending a lot of time in NYC lately), is finally getting well-deserved respect.

National Geographic Traveler names Philly as the nation's "Next Great City" in its October issue. According to this AP story (via CNN), the magazine described Philly as "a city that has been greatly overlooked."

"It's the last great opportunity for anyone who wants a terrific urban life in the Northeast," said Keith Bellows, the magazine's editor-in-chief.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The office is a dangerous place today

As if the Phils' blowing a 5-2 lead in the eighth and losing to the freakin' Mets last night wasn't enough punishment, this morning I woke up and stubbed my right big toe on my dining room table, slicing a piece of nail off.

Now, fast forward a couple of hours and let's change scenes to my office...I get up from my desk and bang the same right foot into the side of my desk.

Hobbling and in pain again, I went over to my boss' door to talk to her about something. I went to lean my head against the inside of her door (it was propped open) and I wind up banging my head into the plastic end of a thumbtack holding up a pennant. I finished the conversation and went back to my desk, resuming my work.

Mike, our graphic design assistant who shares an office with me, then asks me which font I prefer for a piece on which he is working. I look up and he says, "Did you hit your head?"

I replied, "Yeah, is it bleeding?"

Of course, the answer was yes.

There was actually a fair amount of blood for such small and painless cut. I still don't know how the plastic end of a thumbtack did that much damage.

In any event, I now have a toe injury and a head wound, which you can see in the pictures.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Kate Moss scandal: Who the #%*! cares?

I keep seeing these headlines on major news sites (CNN, Yahoo! News, etc.) about -- GASP! -- Kate Moss being caught doing cocaine. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that a rail-thin supermodel -- one dating a rock star who is a notorious drug addict -- would be doing drugs...completely unheard of!

I wasn't reading the stories associated with those headlines because a) I didn't care, and b) they weren't going to tell me anything I didn't already assume.

But then I see this headline today on the Yahoo! home page: Naomi Campbell defends Kate Moss.

Are you kidding me? Now we have headlines about one supermodel defending another...great...just great.

Ugh...I think I am just pissed because that story pushed the article about the death of actor/comedian Don Adams, aka Maxwell "Agent 86" Smart off Yahoo's home page. "Get Smart" was one of the best comedy TV series of all time...and it's still funnier than a lot of crap on TV now.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Again I ask: Is this the Phils' year?

After blowing a five-run lead over the fifth and sixth innings and finding themselves down 10-6 going into the ninth inning, the Fightin' Phils again reached into the bag of tricks they have been using on their current road trip and scored five times to beat the Reds, 11-10, Friday night at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park.

Jimmy Rollins, who extended his career-high and post-1900 franchise record hitting streak to 28 games earlier in the game, led off the ninth with a single and Kenny Lofton followed with a base hit of his own to put two men on base for Chase Utley. Utley stepped up to the plate and drilled his second home run of the game to make it just a 10-9 game.

Bobby Abreu was then called out on strikes on a ridiculous called third strike that was both low and inside. Abreu argued and was ejected from the game. From the Phils' bench, manager Charlie Manuel and pitcher Brett Myers were also tossed.

Pat Burrell then struck out for the second out of the inning. But then came the turning point of the game...National League Rookie of the Year frontrunner Ryan Howard strolled to the plate. Reds pitcher David Weathers wanted no part of the rookie and threw four straight pitches nowhere near the strike zone, walking Howard to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of the much-maligned David Bell.

Bell, who came to the plate with a .246 batting average and nine homers, has hit very well against lefthanders all season. However, here he was in a big spot against a righthander...and he had been barely serviceable against righties all year.

But in this season of destiny, Bell smacked a 3-2 pitch into the left-field seats for a dramatic, two-run homer that gave the Phillies an 11-10 lead. Billy Wagner notched his 35th save with a 1-2-3 ninth and moved the Phils to within one game of the Houston Astros for the NL wild card spot with just eight games left to play.

As I posted previously, the Phils have a tendency to fold down the stretch. But this year's team seems to laugh at adversity. These Phils are resilient and have a lot of heart -- no matter what many in their home city say about them.

I have been listening to New York's 66 WFAN Sports Radio this morning and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo is taking a bunch of Phillies-related calls because stupid 610 WIP AM in Philly refuses to talk about anything other than the Eagles because the station is so anti-Phillies. And, to his credit, Russo is killing the WIP hosts for not talking about the Phillies this morning. "The way this team is playing and after that win last night, that station should be wall-to-wall Phillies," he said at one point.

So, if you are wondering why I haven't been posting as much lately, I have been completely preoccupied by the Phils' pursuit of a playoff spot...and hope to remain so for a couple more weeks.

: )

Photo: David Bell hits a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a dramatic 11-10 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sept. 23, 2005. Photo by AP.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Is this the Phils' year?

Although the game ended about three hours ago, I am still incredibly giddy over the Phillies' improbable 10-2 win over the Florida Marlins at Dolphins Stadium today.

Down 2-0 going into the ninth and facing incredibly tough lefthander Dontrelle Willis, who was three outs aways from a complete game and his 22nd win of the season, the Phillies sent 14 men to the plate and scored 10 runs on eight hits -- aided by FOUR errors by the Marlins -- IN THE INNING!

As of this moment, the Phils (80-69) are tied with the Houston Astros for the lead in the race for the National League's wild card playoff spot. A loss by the Astros tonight would even things up in the loss column and put the Phils a half-game up in the NL wild card race.

A comeback like the one staged by the Phillies today has me thinking this isn't your typical Phillies team that fades away in September...this team is fired up, resilient and comes ready to play everyday. This, folks, looks like a playoff team.

The Phillies have used a number of slogans that have come back to haunt them over the past few years..."Believe," "Now is the Time," and "Bring It On!"

Well...this year...I Believe that Now is the Time...Bring It On!

(Pictured: Phillies celebrate during a 10-run ninth inning that propelled them to a 10-2 win over the Florida Marlins at Dolphins Stadium, Sept. 17, 2005. Photo by AP.)

Macworld Expo says goodbye to the East Coast

Well, the days of a Macworld Expo on the East Coast are apparently over. Nearly three years after IDG World Expo revealed plans to move the East Coast edition of its Macworld event back to Boston, the company has decided to cancel Macworld Boston entirely and focus on a single annual expo in San Francisco.

I was actually hoping to go to Macworld Boston in 2006, but I guess that won't be happening now. I spent one day in Boston for Macworld in 1997 -- the year of the infamous Bill Gates appearance via satellite (yikes!) and Microsoft's $150 million investment in Apple. The next year, the East Coast Macworld Expo moved to New York's Jacob Javits Convention Center, where it remained through 2003. IDG World Expo announced in October 2002 that the East Coast Macworld Expo would return to Boston for 2004.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Music in Midtown

Christian Beach performs at Blaggard's Pub, NYC, 9/15/05.
I went up to a place called Blaggard's Pub on West 38th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues) in New York City on Thursday night to see a friend and former music collaborator, Christian Beach perform.

As usual, the two of us in close proximity led to technical problems. This time, it took a near MacGyver-like improvisation to get Christian's Yamaha digital piano to come through the sound board. Although they finally got it working, there was some popping going on, especially when Christian was playing the lower end of the keyboard. Plus, the PA system wasn't the greatest. But Christian's musicianship overcame all that...and the way-too-talkative crowd hanging out at the bar.

While Christian was performing, I took some rather crappy photos, which you can see here. Actually, the picture above was taken while they were trying to get the keyboard situation straightened out. Somehow, I managed to get this weird "out of body" thing going on...if you look at Christian's face, you can see a double image of it blending into the brick wall in the background.

In terms only Christian would understand, I wonder if perhaps it isn't a double image of his face, but rather the ghost of Elvis Presley causing the glitches..."The King" may be haunting us from beyond for stealing his "sound FXXXXXX."

; )

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A small display of decency

Well, yours truly misplaced another electronic gadget. This time, it was my digital camera.

I'm not sure how I did it, but apparently I left my camera -- in its case -- in the parking lot of my apartment complex when I got home from work Monday evening. My division at work had an off-campus, staff retreat Tuesday and I wanted to bring my camera, but I couldn't find it. I figured I didn't look hard enough and assumed it would be hiding on me somewhere in my dwelling. However, it was nowhere to be found when I looked again Tuesday evening. My last hope was that it was on my desk in my office at work.

I walked into the office this morning and looked around...not there. I talked to our graphic design person with whom I share an office and said, "Well, it looks like I lost my's not in my apartment, my car or here." Just then, I noticed my voicemail light was on. I check it...and a woman's voice is heard on the message saying, "Brian Kelley, I think I have something that belongs to you. You had some business cards with it so I figured I would give you a call and let you know you can come get it whenever you can."

It was my camera...found and safeguarded by strangers who live in my complex. The funny thing, though, is that there were no business cards in my camera case until the morning of Sept. 6. I put a few cards in my camera case for my trip up to NYC to see Ben Folds at the SoHo Apple Store...just in case I was able to slip one to Ben or some other NYC power broker (hey, you never know).

So if I hadn't put the cards in the case that less than a week before I lost the camera, who knows what would have happened to it. In any event, I picked up the camera from these fine folks in my complex when I got home from work tonight and offered them $50 as a reward for finding and returning it to me. They refused the money and simply handed the camera to me.

I am one of the most cynical people in the world, but it's nice to know there are still honest and decent people left in the world.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A great time in NYC

Ben Folds played a special hour-long set at the SoHo Apple Store in New York City on Tuesday. I made arrangements to meet up with Katie, but the full parking lot at the Hamilton (NJ) train station threatened to thwart those plans. However, after missing the 12:06 p.m. train out of Hamilton, I decided to just drive up to Hoboken, park there and take a PATH train to the World Trade Center station. From there, it was a quick trip on the E train to Spring Street, followed by a quick six-block walk to the Apple Store.

Since Katie was already there, I just "merged" -- as opposed to "cut" -- into the line with her. We got our wristbands for entry and Katie was smart enough to "buy" a spot on the line from some guys who were going to be staying there by purchasing them a hot dog and four bottles of waters from a nearby cart.

So Katie and I spent a couple of hours wandering around NYC and returned to the Apple Store around 5:30 p.m. Katie's purchase worked out perfectly...the spot she bought us wound up putting us in the last row of seats in the store's upstairs theater section. Normally, workshops and presentations about Apple and third-party products take place in this area. This night, a Baldwin baby grand piano, a drum set and a bass guitar filled the space.

Ben and his new bandmates were great, as usual. It was such an intimate performance...although it was a bit odd watching a Ben Folds performance in a place where people were buying PowerBooks and iPods downstairs.

Anyway, I took some pictures, which you will see below. The last one is of a box that we saw on the subway. It is upside down, but the box reads "bulk fingers." Katie thought it would make for an interesting photo so I took one.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Bungle in the Bayou

UPDATE: Sept. 4, 2005, 10:40 p.m.
I just came across the Times-Picayune's editorial from Sunday's edition, titled "An open letter to the President." These people lived through this week of Hell in New Orleans so you should read what they had to say.

Well, I have wanted to write something about how badly the Bush administration has bungled its handling of Hurricane Katrina -- from landfall to fallout -- but I had been daunted by the scale of this screw-up, which is rivaled only by that of the disaster itself. However, I will try to do it justice.

How many times do I have to hear Pres. Bush, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) head Mike Brown and Dept. of Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff just flat out lie and say there was NO WAY anyone could have foreseen the breach of New Orleans' levees in the wake of a Category 4 hurricane. Here is the best version of this administration line, courtesy of Chertoff...
"...if we had an atomic bomb on top of this...and we could pile on catastrophes...whenever you do a planning process, you have to deal with what is reasonably foreseeable. It is true that you can sometimes have a combination of things that are reasonably foreseeable but that combination is unforeseeable."

Wait a minute! Chertoff did not just say it was as likely for an atomic bomb to be dropped a hurricane-stricken city as it was for levees to be breached in the wake of flooding from the storm, did he?

And here is Dubya himself on Good Morning America (Sept. 1)...
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached. And as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded. And now we are having to deal with it and will."

How is it not reasonable to expect the levees to fail from a Category 4 hurricane? The Bush administration is acting as if the levee breaches occurred at least a day after the storm when, in fact, they started Monday morning as New Orleans was still feeling the wrath of Katrina. All this talk from Bush et al that it was two different disasters is completely fictional.

Examples of people who DID know what was going to transpire include:

New Orleans Times-Picayune
Published a 5-part series in 2002 called "The Big One," which pretty much nailed everything that came to fruition during Hurricane Katrina.

Yup, FEMA, the agency that now refuses to acknowledge any expectation of the levees failing, conducted a simulation of a Category 3 hurricane, named Hurricane Pam, hitting New Orleans a couple of years ago using information from the LSU Hurricane Center, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service. The results were published in July 2004.

Mr. Bill
Pres. Bush may not have known what was going to happen, but that clay character Mr. Bill of "Saturday Night Live" fame appeared in a commercial last year explaining the dangers to the coastal Louisiana area that looks frightening familiar now.

However, that doesn't explain the administration's major problem. It wasn't prepared BEFORE the storm hit! The other line Bush & Co. keep spinning is that Homeland Security and FEMA can only act after services are requested by state and local governments. Well, why does it say this on the Department of Homeland Security Web site:
Preparing America
In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.

Hmm. That sounds, to me, like Homeland Security is supposed to take charge in the case of a "natural disaster or other large-scale emergency," which you think would be the case in the event of a major hurricane taking dead aim at coastal Louisiana and Mississippi. Unfortunately, Homeland Security decided to wait a few days before getting involved.

But maybe the New Orleans area would have been better off if Homeland Security and FEMA didn't get involved. Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday and condemned the efforts of the federal government. Here are Broussard's comments, courtesy of a transcript from Think Progress:
on the bureaucracy of the relief effort:
"Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now."

on the government actually hindering the relief effort...
"Three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn’t need them. This was a week ago. FEMA, we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. When we got there with our trucks, FEMA says don’t give you the fuel. Yesterday — yesterday — FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards and said no one is getting near these lines…"

And it gets worse. I actually watched this transpire on "Meet the Press" and it was hard to watch as Broussard was reduced to tears while telling this sad, sad tale...
"I want to give you one last story and I’ll shut up and let you tell me whatever you want to tell me. The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night! She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us! Nobody’s coming to get us…"

I could go on and on with examples of ineptitude on the part of the Bush administration, especially the Department of Homeland Security/FEMA, but why bother? Do you need any more evidence that the Bush administration should be held criminally negligent in the deaths of thousands of people in the Gulf Coast as well as thousands of soldiers in Iraq?

If you do, I encourage you to read these blogs:


Crooks and Liars

What Kanye West said on NBC's hurricane relief concert the other night was more information than we needed to know. He could have just stopped at, "George Bush doesn't care."