Mar 31, 2006

Six Degrees of Sonic Youth

By B.E. Earl

03/31/2006 11:01 PM EST

Hey kids! So I’ve made a pretty important decision in my life. I had previously decided to fall in love with Kim Director, but I’ve just changed my mind and found that my love must go to Pauley Perrette instead. By “previously”, I meant just earlier tonight. Confused? Lemme ‘splain.

I had just come back from seeing the new Spike Lee joint (wow, I hated typing that) Inside Man and I was looking up some things about it on One of those things happened to be where Kim Director (who co-starred in the film) has been all my life. Apparently she had been in quite a few Spike Lee joints (ouch!) over the years, but I actually recognized her from Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 in which she played the yummie Goth Kim Diamond. Some of my favorite all-time women have been named “Kim”. Kim Deal from The Pixies, Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, and I could go on. Still with me?

Scanning her acting credits on IMDB, I was sure that I was going to find her on “Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” as the yummie Goth Abby Sciuto. I mean, I had seen the show all of one time so I was positive the same actor played them both. Right? Wrong! The aforementioned Abby Sciuto is played by Pauley Perrette who really looks like Kim Director in only the vaguest of ways. They are both attractive females with dark hair.

Digging a bit deeper it seems that Pauley P is a published poet and spoken word artist. She actually has a Master’s Degree in Criminology (who saw that coming?) and a real obsession with the study of forensics. She also has her own blogsite,, where she writes an awful lot. Great stuff too.

I was thumbing through it tonight when I came across a posting from February 16th, 2006 in which she made a list of great things that included: “One Of Your Fave Obscure Songs Heard On The Radio In The Car”. I had to shoot her a quick email (that will most likely go unread) to explain that this had just happened to me last week with the song “Titanium Expose” by Sonic Youth! Kim Gordon’s band, Sonic Youth! See what I did there?

So I’ve now been listening to my old Sonic Youth CDs for the past few hours, and reading through the archives of her blog. Nice! I think I’ll have to start watching “Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” more often!

Mar 9, 2006

Skanks for the Memories

By B.E. Earl

03/09/2006 12:04 PM EST

Howdy kids! One of the great things about getting older (and maybe one of the only great things) is that big ole’ bag of memories that you can dip into every once in a while. You stick your head in, fish around and sometimes you wind up with a great big smile. Other times you wind up embarrassed as all hell, but hopefully the smiles outweigh the frowns when placed upon the scales of life. Wow…that sounded much deeper than I am really capable of. Oh no! Another downer for the memory bag!

Anyway, I happened to see that The Ska-talites are going to be playing a gig in NYC next week with their new lineup. Got me thinking about ska, which was the driving musical force of my life during much of the early and mid 90’s. So I dusted off my pork-pie hat (which I’ve always been too embarrassed to wear out of the house) and kicked it out with some of my old ska recordings the other night, and I discovered something. I really miss The Scofflaws.

The Scofflaws were/are a Long-Island-based ska band that were at the height of their popularity during the mid-90’s before the flood of ska-pop bands began to hit MTV. A part of ska’s “third wave” along with bands like Bim Skala Bim, they were a staple in NYC and Long Island clubs during much of the 90’s. Along with my good friend, I was a semi-regular at their gigs all over the Island. We must have seen them close to 50 times back then.

One fond memory was seeing them at a bar in Farmingdale one weekend. It was the end of their set and they looked to the audience for requests. We shouted out “Paul Getty” (a favorite of mine) to which Richard “Sammy” Brooks, their lead singer/saxophonist, replied “F**k that!” Well, the very next week we went to see them in a bar in Port Jefferson. Brooks stepped up to the mike at the beginning of their second set and said they were going to play “Paul Getty” for those two dudes up front who requested it the previous week. He said he felt bad about telling us off back in Farmingdale. Cool!

So I wound up listening to their CDs over and over again over the next few days. I looked them up on Google and couldn’t find any evidence if they were still performing. I know Buford O’Sullivan is doing his own thing nowadays, but even he said on his website that the common denominator to all the various incarnations of the Scofflaws was Richard Brooks. So maybe Brooks is still out there, skanking his way through gigs just like he did back in the day. I hope so. If anyone has any info, please drop a line in the comment section.

Maybe I’ll go see The Ska-talites next week. They’ve been around in one form or another since the mid-60’s, and they are still skanking. Looks like only Lloyd Knibb and Doreen Shaffer remain from the original band, and I’m surprised even at that. Saw them a few times in NYC a ways back and they were great! Maybe I’ll even wear my unused pork-pie hat. Probably not though. Too bad…it’s a great hat!

The Late, Great Kirby Puckett

By B.E. Earl

03/09/2006 9:50 PM EST

Hey kids! Sad news this week from the world of baseball. Kirby Puckett, Hall of Fame centerfielder for the Minnesota Twins, died after suffering a stroke. Kirby was one of those players that made you love the game of baseball. His reckless abandon in the outfield, his huge grin and his semi-ridiculous body just made you want to smile when you saw him play. He was the centerpiece of a Twins team that won two World Series and he was a ten-time participant in the All-Star game. Yet, something has always bothered me about his first ballot selection to the Hall of Fame back in 2001.

It wasn’t the subsequent talk about his off-field problems. I’m not here to talk about that. Maybe he wasn’t as much of a “good guy” as baseball folks liked to think he was when he was playing, but the Hall of Fame voters ultimately shouldn’t decide whether or not someone is a “good guy” before voting him into the most hallow of Halls. The Hall is filled with players and managers that wouldn’t even come close to having “good guy” credentials in their resumes. And I certainly won’t go into details about the allegations about his character now that he has passed away. I don’t mean any disrespect to the man himself.

No. What I have a problem with was the automatic assumption that he was a first ballot HoFer after he retired early due to glaucoma, and the fact that assumption was proven to be correct in 2001. Take a look at Kirby’s career statistics alongside those of a contemporary of his whose career was also cut short due to a medical condition.

Kirby 1783 7244 2304 207 1085 1071 450 .318 .360 .477
Player A 1785 7003 2153 222 1099 1007 588 .307 .358 .471

You might find it impossible to find two players whose career numbers come any closer than these two guys. And yet, Kirby was a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame while Player A has never seriously been given consideration for the Hall. Let’s look at some other stats, shall we:

WS Titles MVP Awards All-Star Games Gold Gloves Black Ink
Kirby 2 0 10 6 22
Player A 0 1 6 9 23

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Black Ink” it refers to the number of times said player led the league an offensive category (Hits, BA, SLG, etc…). Kirby did possess two World Series rings as opposed to none for Player A, but I’ve always felt that argument to be a little weak. Post-season success has much more to do with team success rather than individual achievement. Player A has the one MVP award, however, Kirby did place as high as second in the voting once and third in the voting twice. Both players have an impressive record of All-Star appearances and Gold Glove recognition. So its got to be the post-season success that made voters hold one of these players in such high esteem, while the other is thought to be just short. Right? Take a look at their post-season stats.

Kirby 24 97 30 5 15 16 8 .309 .361 .536
Player A 5 24 10 1 6 3 1 .417 .440 .708

Kirby certainly played a helluva lot more in the post-season than Player A, but when he did get the chance to play in the post-season Player A’s statistics were astronomical. And those numbers came in his last season as a professional when his skills had dramatically declined due to his previously mentioned medical issues. Who knows the gaudy numbers he could have put up had his team made the playoffs in any of his previous seasons in the big leagues?

So why the discrepancy when it comes to Hall of Fame votes? The answer is I honestly don’t know, but most analysts point to Kirby’s post-season success and heroics. Everyone mentions the home run he hit in Game 6, which allowed the Twins to take the World Series one game later. Very nice, but is it a career defining moment that makes him stand head and shoulders above Player A? And like I stated before, I think World Series titles are a testament to the team rather than the individual, but what the hell do I know.

For those of you who aren’t fans of the New York Yankees, Player A is none other than fan favorite Don Mattingly. To go on the record here, I don’t believe that EITHER player belongs in the hall. They were both great players, both considered to be sure-fire HoFers at the height of their careers. Both, however, were sadly forced to retire early due to their medical conditions. Glaucoma for Kirby Puckett and chronic back problems for Don Mattingly. 10 or 12 years, in my opinion, is just not long enough of a career to allow consideration into the Hall of Fame in most cases. Sandy Koufax is one of the exceptions to the rule. I think both Puckett and Mattingly come up just short.

The baseball world mourns the loss of Kirby Puckett, as it rightly should. Fan favorite and media darling that he was, he will be sorely missed. Maybe the timing of my argument against his induction into the Hall of Fame is a bit off. I’m sure it could anger some of his family, friends and fans that are faced with pain of his passing. I’m sorry for that, I truly am. Baseball, in the end, is just a small part of a man’s life and accomplishments. They should mourn the loss of the man, not the player.