Friday, February 27, 2009

Fun With Google Analytics

I know all you Search Engine Optimization savants out there can appreciate this…

I just logged into my Google Analytics account and took at my traffic sources report. My blog has been found for the following keywords:

  • “schaible” died friday “january 30, 2009”
  • “stop requesting strawberry fields”
  • b.o.b. lyrics “only i can get away with something like this”
  • jeff retro – it ain’t me
  • johnny damon
  • meryl streep
  • lex luger slammed yokozuna
  • pflugerville tickles me
And someone who searched “high pitched strawberry bruise song” spent almost ten minutes on the site, visiting four pages.

It just so happens I did in fact optimize for each of these terms.

Anyone interested in how I became an SEO genie should brush up on my former employer, Einstein Industries. I love that disgruntled employees SEO’d the shit out of this. My favorite comment:

“work environment - The video department was chill, dark and gloomy just like your heart after you work there for a couple months.”

And for the record, none of these comments are from me. I got out before it went to hell.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my loyal reader in Bangalore, India who has visited the blog four times this month. Apparently I have international appeal.



Speaking of SEO... if happen to be looking for Fiberlite Carbon Fiber Rotors, there you go.

Jeff's Music Review: War Child – Heroes, Vol. 1

To get me through my Friday, I treated myself to an iTunes purchase this morning (and I feel like since I didn’t eat out once this week, I earned it – Emily take notice). My choice was War Child – Heroes, Vol. 1, a new album of covers, with proceeds benefiting war-affected children worldwide.

It’s a great concept. 15 “music icons” were asked to select a favorite song from their own catalogue and pick a new act to re-create the track.

Track Listing:
1. Beck - “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” (Bob Dylan)
2. The Kooks - “Victoria” (The Kinks)
3. The Hold Steady - “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen)
4. Hot Chip - “Transmission” (Joy Division)
5. Lily Allen feat. Mick Jones - “Straight To Hell” (The Clash)
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” (The Ramones)
7. Franz Ferdinand - “Call Me” (Blondie)
8. Duffy - “Live And Let Die” (Paul McCartney)
9. Estelle - “Superstition” (Stevie Wonder)
10. Rufus Wainwright - “Wonderful & Song For Children” (Brian Wilson)
11. Scissor Sisters - “Do The Strand” (Roxy Music)
12. Peaches - “Search And Destroy” (Iggy Pop)
13. Adam Cohen - “Take This Waltz” (Leonard Cohen)
14. Elbow - “Running To Stand Still (U2)
15. The Like - “You Belong To Me” (Elvis Costello)
16. TV On The Radio - Heroes (David Bowie)

Which covers work?
Elbow’s loyal interpretation of U2’s “Running To Stand Still” is probably my favorite track on the album. Craig Potter remains true to the soft, slow, piano-base of the original and his vocals are haunting.

Beck covering an under-appreciated Dylan track? That’s right up my alley. Beck bounces through Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” replacing honky tonk with blazing distortion. Love it.

Lily Allen singing The Clash’s “Straight To Hell” was jarring upon first listen. Her sweet vocals make Joe Strummer’s biting lyrics somehow harsher.

Also worth a listen: The Hold Steady - “Atlantic City,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs - “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” and Franz Ferdinand - “Call Me.”

Which ones don’t?
By far the biggest bust was Duffy’s atrocious version of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die.” Her de-juiced, painfully slow interpretation isn’t likely to get revisited by me anytime soon. The definitive cover version of this song has already been done, thank you very much… by Guns N’ Roses.

A lot of people like TV On The Radio. I have yet to see the appeal. They sucked on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back and their cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” doesn’t work. It starts with a bad, karaoke-like Bowie impression and its hard electro-beats add nothing to the original.

Verdict: B-
Predictably, this cover album has its hits and misses. The highlights certainly make it worth the listen but I can’t help but agree with a BBC review I read before I clicked purchase:

“But given the breadth of talent assembled here, you do wonder whether letting them turn in their own homework might have been even more satisfying.”

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Stop the Presses: I’m Glad I’m Not a Journalist


It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is slowly dying. In the four + years since I left The Boston Globe, where I had one of the best college jobs available – sports correspondent – friends have kept me updated with round after round of voluntary “buyouts” and cutbacks.

Meanwhile I just spotted this: the Rocky Mountain News, the #2 paper serving Denver, will publish its final edition tomorrow. The paper has been around for 150 years. Since 2000, it’s won four Pulitzer Prizes (most recently in 2006).

How sad is that?

I didn’t grow up with any Woodward and Bernstein pipe dreams. In fact, I originally went to Northeastern to study International Affairs (to do what, I’m still not sure). But my fiancĂ© and many of my friends are “journalists.” It’s depressing.

These people have had varied levels of success but none of them actually work for “real” newspapers; a couple work for online sports news sites (congrats), some work for miserable specialized publications (like say, Lawyers USA), some are out of work and some – present company included have simply given up.

If it’s not easy, it’s not worth doing.

I know that in light of our current recession, a lot of industries are in decline but the demise of newspapers is no recent phenomenon. I also know that the villainous blood-sucking reporters don’t get much sympathy. I just think it’s sad.

If you’re ever in the mood to read some real uplifting stuff, check out http://www.newspaperdeathwatch.com/.



EDIT: I should point out that I was in no way belittling the accomplishments of my friends. My fiancée seems to have taken particular offense and let me say this...

She works for ESPN and reads/edits football stories all day. I work for Thermo Fisher Scientific and build page after page on centrifuges and biological safety cabinets.

She wins.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It All Starts Tomorrow...


Tomorrow the New York Yankees will take to the field at Dunedin Stadium in Florida for the first exhibition game of the 2009 season.

I… am… giddy.

Forget the fact that I’m a Yankees fan – I know there are literally thousands of reasons to hate us (26 of them jump to mind). I am just generally a happier person when baseball is being played.

A brief digression: I know Emily just read that and thought, “bull shit!” She has a point… In college, during one particularly terrible Yankees-Red Sox game, the boys from Boston were putting a ridiculous hurtin’ on my Yankees; I don’t remember the score but it was ugly. I worked at the Boston Globe and listened to idiot callers (uh… this is not a radio station) and co-workers give it to me. I took a miserable T-ride home and walked into see Steve and Zach’s shit-eating smiles in the living room. I walked into my bedroom and Emily greeted me with a similar smile and the score. I greeted her with expletives and stormed out. Very mature… sorry, babe.

Anyways, back to the happiness… the first game I ever went to was September 4, 1993. Jim Abbott – a one-handed pitcher – tossed a no-hitter as the Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians, 4-0. I was hooked.

A few things I remember about the game:
  • The stadium was more than half empty.
  • Three of the Yankees’ runs came on a play that did not look like major league baseball. There were two men on and Dion James singled up the middle. Two throwing errors later, all three men had scored.
  • Wade Boggs made at least two great defensive plays late in the game to preserve the no-no.
  • Kenny Lofton tried to bunt his way on in the top of the ninth inning. It went foul and he was booed mercilessly.
Ahhh memories.

Jumping back to 2009… I can’t wait to get to a game this year to see the new Yankee Stadium (which looks like a palace in all the pictures I’ve seen). I’m also planning to go see the Mets’ new stadium at some point this summer and Emily got Red Sox tickets for us, her father and her two brothers as Christmas presents.

I’ll wait until closer to the start of the season to make any predictions but I have to say, I do like this lineup (vs. LHP in parenthesis):

1. LF Johnny Damon
2. SS Derek Jeter
3. 1B Mark Teixeira
4. 3B Alex Rodriguez =(
5. DH Hideki Matsui (Xavier Nady RF)
6. RF Nick Swisher (DH)
7. 2B Robinson Cano
8. C Jorge Posada
9. CF Melky Cabrerra / Brett Gardner

That will not be the lineup tomorrow; nor will CC Sabathia start. Instead, taking the bump for the New York Yankees… Brett Tomko. Nonetheless, baseball is back and I’m all smiles.



To my Northeastern University comrades:

Speaking of baseball, how many of you caught this today? Check the byline.

Smarmy.



One more note:

I’ve had this blog for about a month and made 15 posts. This is my first one about sports. Who would have thunk it?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jeff’s Bold Predictions: The Oscars


I’m back baby… and so is Not Today You Ain’t.

With Emily forcing me to watch The Oscars’ red carpet (yawn), I thought I’d make my triumphant return to blogging. My picks for tonight:

BEST PICTURE
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost / Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire
Milk. I should note, that these are my picks, not who I think will win (Slumdog Millionaire). I really enjoyed this movie… Sean Penn was fantastic. He’s up for best actor for his performance. Milk was also very timely since it coincided so well with California’s prop 8. I saw all five of the nominated films and I would rank them as such: 1. Milk, 2. Slumdog Millionaire, 3. Frost / Nixon, 4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 5. The Reader.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
  • Bolt
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Wall-E
Wall-E. Hands down, this was the easiest of all the categories to pick. With all do respect to Bolt which I enjoyed (particularly Rhino the hamster), Wall-E runs away with the win. I liked this movie enough to see it twice actually: once with my niece, Angel, for her birthday and once with Emily. Wall-E has something for everyone; it’s a visually stunning movie with humor, romance and an important, eco-friendly message. That it works for all ages and largely without spoken dialogue is all the more astonishing.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
  • Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
  • Angelina Jolie – Changeling
  • Melissa Leo – Frozen River
  • Meryl Streep – Doubt
  • Kate Winslet – The Reader
Meryl Streep, Doubt. This is the category I’m least qualified to make a prediction… I only saw two (Doubt and The Reader) of the five movies. With all due respect to Kate Winslet (who I thought was even better in Revolutionary Road), Streep was fantastic in Doubt. When she and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were going toe-to-toe, it made for great drama.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
  • Amy Adams – Doubt
  • Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Viola Davis - Doubt
  • Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. First let me say something kind of controversial… I was completely unimpressed with Viola Davis in Doubt. Never mind that she was only on screen for like 6 minutes, I just wasn’t impressed. There was a lot of superb acting in that movie and she wasn’t a part of it. There, controversy. My nod goes to Taraji P. Henson who I thought grounded a completely ridiculous movie (one that I didn’t anticipate enjoying) but Marisa Tomei is a close second.

ACTOR IN A LEAD ROLE
  • Richard Jenkins – The Visitor
  • Frank Langella – Frost / Nixon
  • Sean Penn – Milk
  • Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler. This was a tough one. I could have easily gone with Sean Penn who was fantastic in Milk. At the end of the day, I went with Rourke. I already reviewed The Wrestler for this blog. At the time I wrote:

When wrestling, Randy “The Ram” Robinson had me on the edge of my seat – particularly during cringe-worthy, ECW-style match. Out of the ring, he was emotionally devastating in the intimate scenes with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) and his stripper romantic interest (Marisa Tomei).

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
  • Josh Brolin – Milk
  • Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
  • Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
  • Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight. I’m definitely going with the popular choice here. And I’d like to think it’s not because of the hype. I thought Ledger was sensational in Chris Nolan’s latest take on the Batman series. When I first heard that Ledger was going to be playing the Joker (who’d previously been played by the brilliant Jack Nicholson), I thought it was ridiculous. I stand corrected. How would I have known the long-haired goon from 10 Things I Hate About You would be so dark, so convincing – an anarchist villain stripped of all emotion except a yearning for chaos.

My apologies to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who would otherwise receive the nod for his excellent performance in Doubt.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Doubt
  • Frost / Nixon
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I can’t help but be impressed that a short story from 1921 can be made into an Oscar-worthy 2009 movie. Side note: there is no way Slumdog Millionaire doesn’t win this.

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
  • Frozen River
  • Happy-Go-Lucky
  • In Bruges
  • Milk
  • Wall-E
Wall-E. I’ve already spouted some love for the world’s cutest trash-compactor (sorry Emily, it was a close vote). So I’ll just use this spot to ask how that piece of trash movie In Bruges got nominated for anything.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jeff’s Movie Review: The Reader

Emily and I are spending the weekend in Rotterdam, NY with my folks. So naturally we found reason to escape this afternoon… we went to see The Reader. We’ve now seen all of the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture.

The Reader
The Reader explores the nature of guilt. What if the person you love was a monster?

The movie centers on the relationship between Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet), a woman in her mid-30s, and Michael Berg (David Kross / Ralph Fiennes), who is 15 years old when they meet. The relationship abruptly ends and years later Michael is in law school.

Their paths cross again as Michael attends Hanna’s trial for war crimes; she served as an SS guard at Auschwitz. The college-aged Michael and adult Michael wrestle with conscience and his complicit guilt.

Forgive me if I sound like a broken record here but once again, the acting in this was fantastic. Winslet, Kross and Fiennes are all great (I never even heard of this Kross kid before but he more than held his own). Winslet is nominated for an Oscar and it’s easy to see why.

Rating:
(4)