Schizophrenic Earwig Men

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On today's fine fun edition of Schizophrenic Earwig Men, we discuss music.

10 Good Songs You Might Not Have Heard That You Should:

1. New Slang- The Shins

One of many excellent songs on the Garden State movie soundtrack, New Slang has clever, well-written lyrics, an infectious, simple beat, and as Natalie Portman says in Garden State, "Listen to this song, it'll change your life." The Shins in general are a great band for pretty, simple melodies, with poetic lyrics. Off the album Oh, Inverted World.

2. Konstantine- Something Corporate

If you ever feel emo about life, love, or anything at all, this song is the perfect thing. 9 minutes and 37 seconds of anguished whining, and yet it is one of the most beautiful songs you'll ever hear. One of the greatest piano ballads ever made, it is seamless and flowing, with interjections of pain and beauty.

3. Under The Tracks- Coldplay

This unreleased song is a Coldplay classic, with a pretty piano melody, catchy lyrics, and just a pleasant song overall.

4. One Tin Soldier- Many different artists

There are many versions of this old classic from 1969; my favorite is a hard-driving rock version. The melody is uplifting while the stark, ironic lyrics bring you down. What a beautiful song.

5. I Fought The Law- The Clash

Anything by The Clash is good to listen to; early punk with a unique reggae feel. This particular song, with incredibly catchy and simple lyrics, is just really fun to listen to. Album: Any Clash Greatest Hits, or one of their earlier albums

6. Bring 'em Out- T.I.

Even if you don't like hip-hop, it's hard not to like T.I.'s happy, rollicking, hip-hop staple Bring 'em Out. His talented voice meanders through clever lines, and the chorus is as catchy as they come. Album: Urban Legend

7. I Want To Save You- Something Corporate

More emo-ness; I find personally that this song resonates with wishing you could save someone from their frustration and sadness, as per the title. Its beauty is hard to describe. Album: Leaving Through The Window

8. Saint Simon- The Shins

Odd as this may seem, this song is basically a combination between The Grateful Dead and flute music from the Middle Ages. You have to hear it to believe it, but the lyrics are catchy and the melody beautiful. Album: Chutes Too Narrow

9. Casey Jones- The Grateful Dead

If you like songs about train drivers on cocaine, look no further than Casey Jones. The lyrics are fun and irreverent, and the chorus and verses are catchy and well-rendered.

10. Swallowed In The Sea- Coldplay

This song, off the recent album X and Y, has not yet achieved widespread popularity, but is still recent enough that it could. In my opinion, it is the best song on the album, better even than such favorites as Speed of Sound and Fix You. It slowly builds to an exciting and beautiful climax, with amazing verses and a wonderful Coldplay sound.

Listen to these songs, they'll change your life.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hi. My name, for all intents and purposes, is Vladimir Partridge, and this is my blog.

Schizophrenic Earwig Men (this blog) will be primarily concerned with statistical analysis of sports, and my own particular views on music. When I discuss baseball, I will explain in detail all of the statistics I use, although I assume that most people will understand the vast majority of them. I will occasionally sprinkle in some random analysis or some of my own virulently leftist political views. So, without further ado:

One thing that really pisses me off is Batting Average. It infuriates me that many baseball fans and even scholars continue to use this outmoded statistic as the be all and the end all of batting performance. The batting average, with its simple formula of hits divided by at bats, is useful for a quick and dirty analysis, but it can be very easily misleading. Consider the following true baseball players' seasons:

Gene Tenace in 1977 batted only .233, with 102 hits in 437 at bats. On the contrary, Doc Cramer in 1943 batted a cool .300, conisdered the mark of excellence by the batting average. He had 182 hits in 606 at bats.

On the surface, it appears that Cramer had the better year. His batting average was far higher, he played more, and he was a more skilled defensive player (a good center fielder as opposed to a poor catcher and first baseman). However, what the batting average leaves out is the equally important statistics of extra base hits and walks. Tenace had 43 extra base hits, 15 of them home runs, while Cramer had only 23, with one homer. Furthermore, Tenace walked 125 times, for an On-Base Percentage of .415 (hits plus walks plus hit by pitches divided by at bats plus walks plus hit by pitches plus sacrifice hits). Cramer only walked 31 times, for an OBP of .335.

When their statistics are tabulated Tenace's OBP and SLG (slugging percentage, total bases divided by at bats) are .415 and .410, clearly superior to Cramer's .335 and .348. Their Runs Created (an incredibly complicated formula that can best be approximated as total bases times on-base percentage) are 72 for Tenace and 71 for Cramer, even though Cramer played so much more. Cramer's On-Base plus Slugging was 94% of the league average, while Tenace's was 133% of his league average. There are many such examples of players like this; One must always make sure not to overestimate the value of the batting average; look instead at OBP, SLG, Runs Created, and Bill James' all-encompassing statistic, Win Shares.

Second on my blogging agenda is music. My taste in music varies greatly, but I am most intrigued by punk rock, pop rock, alternative, and emo. The following constitutes my strongest musical opinion.

My biggest frustration in the world of music is when I am told that Green Day, my favorite band, sold out to the pop and rock world with the release of their hit album American Idiot in 2004. These critics say that Green Day left behind their punk roots with the release of hit singles that more closely fit the standard rock format.

Just because a punk band becomes popular in the mainstream does not mean that they have lost their edge. They do not control their popularity, and it is simply an attestment to their skill and appeal to Americans. I own four Green Day albums: Dookie, Insomniac, International Superhits, and American Idiot. While it is true that the oldest albums contain a higher concentration of angry, punky anti-melodies and lyrics, American Idiot is not without its share of angst as well. The entire premise of the album, as a punk rock opera, is a story of disaffected youth. The title track, American Idiot, not only has the punky, dark rhythm of Dookie, is a scathing indictment of President Bush and his government. Other tracks, like St. Jimmy and Letterbomb, have this rhythm as well. Even one of the major hits, Holiday, is easily recognizable as driving punk rock, as well as asserting Green Day's anger towards Bush. Some of the songs are calmer than Dookie, but who's to say that a punk band can never have ballads? Consider Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), possibly my favorite song ever, also by Green Day. It does not detract from their punkiness, but simply attests to their ability to reach out to different audiences. The fact that The Who wrote the beautiful quasi-ballad Behind Blue Eyes does not mean that they were not angry punks on drugs. I credit Green Day with helping to introduce punk rock to a greater audience (including me; because of Green Day, I now count The Clash and My Chemical Romance as two of my favorite bands).

If anyone reads this, please feel free to comment attacking my opinions, supporting them, or presenting your own.

War in (peace out), so long, good night, see you next time.