Jul 28, 2006

They Let Them Speak (Pt.1)

"I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality."
Ann Coulter on MSNBC News Live

Chris Matthews: "How do you know that Bill Clinton is gay?"
Ann Coulter: "I don't know if he's gay. But Al Gore -- total fag."
Hardball interview July 27, 2006

"You eight hours? Me too. Russia's a big country and you're a big country. Takes him eight hours to fly home. Russia's big and so is China."
George Bush at the G-8 summit discovering that it ain't such a small world after all

"If I were grading, I would say we probably deserve a D or a D+ as a country."
Donald Rumsfeld grades how we fare in a "battle of ideas"

Jul 27, 2006

While Rome burns . . .

Well, I think I am back. Good news (for me) to be revealed shortly. Until then let us take a quick look at an article I read from Reuters and analyze the piece. First some background:

As we are all aware World War Three is about to break out in the Middle East. As Killre calls the current scenario "the first inning of WWIII." As the US is wont to do we sent our Secretary of State to go over to Rome and warn half of the parties (Lebanese) involved to cut it out. So our SoS went over to Italy (well she wasn't going to risk her life in Beirut) and without removing her sunglasses from the top of her head managed to, well, I'll tell you when I figure it out.

Next stop, Israel. There was a key quote from Ehud Olmert (Israel's Prime Minister) where he stated:
“Israel is determined to carry on this fight against Hezbollah. He said his government “will not hesitate to take severe measures against those who are aiming thousands of rockets and missiles against innocent civilians for the sole purpose of killing them.”
Then Israel bombed Lebanon killing upwards of 400 civilians with, uh, rockets and missles. This may or may not be a good tactic. I always thought that we should have bombed the shit out of Kansas City after McVeigh blew up the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building. But I digress.

Next stop, MalaysThisthis is where we get back to the article that started this rant off. The article states:
In keeping with her mood and to reflect the world crises she tackles daily, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to play a somber piece of music to her Asian colleagues in Malaysia this week
You see, music soothes the savage beast. What better way to curb the tides of war than with a piano recital. She chose a Brahms piece because, well let me let her explain it.
"It is not a time that is frivolous. It is a serious time. I will play something that is in accordance with my serious mood," said Rice
Her serious mood. People dying is maybe not the time for a Spike Jones song. As the article states, "Rice said she would not be comfortable singing show tunes." The next line of the article?
"I trust my piano playing more than I trust Karen's singing," joked Rice, referring to her public diplomacy chief, Karen Hughes, who is also in Kuala Lumpur. Hughes quickly shot back: "She's right, I can't even hum."
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. What a sense of humor on that broad! Oh my sides! Good times; good times. It does seem only appropriate, however, that after her trip to Rome she would want to play the piano. I mean we all do remember the story of Nero. The difference is that he blamed the Christians.

Jul 24, 2006

Fair or Foul II

Installment #2... Promontory Notes

So my trip to the Alameda County Fair required a drive through the canyon. Actually, 'required' is imprecise: There were several ways to go. But the corkscrewing, two-lane road through the canyon was the shortest route and perhaps the most fitting, because of its rural ambiance. The canyon itself is a narrow, zig-zag chasm in the coastal foothills just east of the San Francisco Bay. It is called Niles Canyon, and it is one of the most historically important topographical features that you will never, ever hear about... unless, of course, you keep reading. (Be sure to tune in next week when we will discuss the pivotal role --both in war and in peace-- played by the Mohawk Valley!)

(Naw, I'm just kidding... maybe.)

On May 10th, 1869, y'see, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Central Pacific Railroad held a big ceremony at a remarkably nowhere site in northern Utah-- a state, it should be noted, which has far more than its fair share of Nowheres. They named this particular nowhere, "Promontory Summit," because these were railroad men, dammit, and they could do whatever they damn-well pleased, like bestow a grandiose name upon a location that would have otherwise been near the front of the pack for the title, "Prominent Blemish on the Buttocks of the World." Ah, but it was Fate --and timing and engineering and good old-fashioned American industrial gamesmanship and, ultimately, the Federal Railroad Commission-- that this spot should be The Very Spot for one of the 19th Century's biggest, most bogus sacraments: The Driving of the Golden Spike.

The ultimate honor fell to one of the Central Pacific's leading investors, Leland Stanford. Stanford was a man chosen for the very best of reasons: He was the only Central Pacific fat cat who'd even bothered to make the trip. Actually, his fellow investors, no doubt, had conceded the honor to him after --oh, I don't know-- a spirited game of darts or something. However it happened, Leland Stanford was the center of attention on this hot, May morning. Reporters and photographers and telegraphers gathered close and held their collective breath as Stanford, hefting a big, ceremonial, silver-alloy hammer, smiled and squinted and spread his stance under the midday sun. Utterly lacking any trace of grace or artfulness or strength --or even the barest hint that he'd ever done a single day's honest work in his entire, spoon-fed life-- Stanford slung the hammer 'round and swung the hammer down and completely missed the ceremonial, gold-alloy spike and --likely as not-- nearly took his own foot off. The Western Union telegraph operator raised his eyebrows for a moment, then shrugged and began to dit-dit-dat to the outside world that the golden spike had been driven-- all the while silently resolving to swear he'd heard near-precious alloy strike near-precious alloy, should anyone ask. Nobody did.

Accounts differ as to what happened next. Some say Stanford continued to huff and puff and sweat and flail away like the worst duffer you've ever seen --he may even have stripped off his suit coat and loosened his tie-- until he finally managed to bury four or five of the seven ritual inches into the patiently waiting cross-tie, consummating the marriage but scoring a big, fat zero on the style and satisfaction meters. Others say that after just one or two photo-op-inspired swings, he took himself out of the lineup for a pinch-hitter. One of the thousands of anonymous Chinese laborers who had actually built the railroad then stepped forward, dragging a dingy, pock-marked iron hammer, and pounded the spike home with a half-dozen efficient strokes.

It doesn't really matter which story you believe. Barely ten minutes after all the handshakes and back-slaps and flashbulbs had either ceased or wandered away, all four ceremonial spikes --as well as the ceremonial cross-tie-- were unceremoniously removed and replaced with ordinary iron spikes and a cheap wooden tie, just like every other tie on every other mile of the line. The Sacred Items of Symbolic Achievement were quietly carted away and now reside in a museum somewhere, occasionally worshiped by the odd railroad/ history buff and periodically gazed upon with a mixture of frowns and mock wonderment by hundreds --well, okay, dozens-- of schoolchildren every year who have very little idea what they are looking at, much less why.

And so it was, like a shortstop's phantom tag on a double play, that the Great and Grand Transcontinental Railroad was Officially Completed.

...Or not.
The Union Pacific's eastern terminus was, at that time, Omaha, Nebraska-- on the western bank of the Missouri River. There was no bridge. For more than three years after the "Driving of the Golden Spike," passengers and freight rode ferry boats, not rail cars, between Omaha and Council Bluffs. Moreover, Central Pacific's western terminus was, at that time, Sacramento, California, which is nearly 100 hot, rough, dusty miles inland from the shining Pacific seacoast.
My point? Just three words: 'Transcontinental' my [donkey].

The Central Pacific Railroad did, of course, eventually reach the San Francisco Bay (specifically: Oakland) and when it did, its path through the coastal foothills to the east of the bay was through a narrow, zig-zag chasm known, both then and now, as Niles Canyon.

Note: Some of you may be unfamiliar with the word "duffer." Others might question my use of it in this post, as it carries a very colloquial definition that is not found in all dictionaries. By the same token, many of you who immediately perceived my intended meaning might be surprised to learn that the word has other, more traditionally recognized denotations-- although it is considered slang in every case. I have provided a dictionary-style guide below... cuz that's just the kind of guy I am.

duffer [DUH-fur] (origin unknown -- all uses are considered colloquial or slang)
(1) A peddler of cheap or fake items.
(2) Any counterfeit or worthless item.
(3) A dim-witted or incompetent person (often, but not always, this definition carries with it the connotation that said person is elderly).
(4) A bad golfer.

P.S... Bud "Duffer" Selig must go.

Jul 20, 2006


My apologies for these posts being few and far between. I am in the midst of moving and another interesting life development that I will share with you all in a few weeks. I hope to be back on track shortly after this weekend.

I moved into my new apartment last weekend. There are two 20-something year old girls fresh out of college that live above us. Us being my wife and I. While we were busy carrying over boxes and furniture we noticed that they were carrying a keg and other various party sundries. During a break we were enjoying on our new porch we noticed a large wood square-like thing being carried up the stairs.

"Is that a dancefloor?" my wife asked.
"Absolutely," responded her sister, "I know it from my long history of dancing around the world."*
"F," my wife yells into the house, "there having a party upstairs. {pause} With a dance floor!"

I was not so much concerned with the dancing as I am the keg. It probably should be noted that I am not upset about it. I walk out onto the porch as the neighbor girl is coming down the stairs. Apparently, she had heard my wife.

"Uh, were, like, having a party tonight. If we are, like, too loud or something, like, just let us know and, uh, we will like be quieter or something."
My wife often cannot contain her curiosity, "Was that a dance floor?"
"Uh, no. That is, uh, like a beer pong table."

At this point my ears perked up like a dog that has seen something move fast out of a window. Although I have not been involved in competitive drinking in many a blue moon I am interested in this "beer pong" thing. The neighbor notices either my stunning good looks or the sweaty fat, bald man who is slightly drooling at the thought of a beer after a day of moving.

"You can all, like, come over or something if, uh, like, you would like."
"What time?" I find in situations like these it is best to get the information before the wife can put a nix on this beer thing.

I am told the time and quickly get on the horn with Bruno. It is important to inform your single friends of a young woman beer party. It's good karma.

That night we arrive at the party fashionably late(10ish). Apparently, this is no longer done by the kids. The party invitees were there promptly at 8:00PM. I see the beer pong table in all it's glory. It is a table slightly larger than a ping pong table. It has no net or lines on it and is held up by legs that were perhaps broken off somebody's parent dining room table. There are ten cups on each side of the table. Six quarter filled beers in a triangle shape. Two glasses of water on each side and the two beers that are being casually drunk by the athletes.

The rules are basically that you throw the ping pong ball into the opposing teams cups in the air (if it bounces you can swat it away) and if it goes in they drink it. If the ball touches anything gross (floor, wall, garbage, Bruno) the ball is dipped into the water glass for cleaning. Teams are two competitors each. If you need further information check here at the National Beer Pong League web site.

Bruno and I team up to lose to a team consisting of two lesbians that apparently really liked each other. It was good fun. Between BP games I was recruited by my new best friend Fred to be on his "Flip Cup" team. This sport is, uh, stupid. It involves slamming your beer and flipping your cup and then the next person on the team goes. If you get done first, you win.

AFter a few games of Flip Cup I am fully in my Frank the Tank mode. I have become the old guy at the party. After my suggestion of streaking is shot down I begin regaling the kids of a drinking game we used to play in college. The name of the game was Drink! The rules were simple. You walk around the party and every now and again you would point at someone and yell "Drink!" They would and the party would continue.

The children looked at me with blank stares. My BFF Fred shook his head in disappointment.

"Well, it ain't any dumber than Flip Cup," I exclaimed, feelings slightly hurt. I walked out to the porch, filled my red plastic cup with beer and went downstairs to enjoy it while playing the "Mr. Ed" game by myself. Every time that damn horse spoke I drank.

* OK, I made the last part up.

Jul 17, 2006

White Wabbit

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small.
And the ones that Mother gives you don't do anything at all.
Go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall...

Oh, praise the lard and pass the pee sample: Jose "The Mad Hatter" Canseco was in the news again last week, coming to you live from his own weirdly-colored corner of Wonderland. It seems that former Senator George Mitchell's investigation into steroid use in Baseball has finally gotten around to a sit-down with Canseco, the author of the catalytic book Juiced. At the rate the Mitchell team is going, they'll be wanting to talk to Jason Grimsley sometime in 2009. Anyway, the meeting was a momentous occasion for the Mad Hatter, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it provided the perfect excuse for him to hold a press conference and regale us with stories from his own special plane of existence... like what it's like to actually be a cuckoo clock. For another, he's been just dying to offer his services to the Mitchell team... as an investigator.

Hmm, yeah. If you find that idea to be eerily reminiscent of Elvis Presley asking Tricky Dick Nixon for an appointment as a federal drug agent, good: I'm glad I'm not the only one. You know what I think makes Elvis and Jose seem so similar? All that thick, black hair. And maybe the drugs. And the, uh, has-been-ish status. And, oh, yeah, the, uh, you know... frighteningly tenuous grip on reality.

One big difference between them, though: Elvis is in the Hall of Fame.

Actually, in a way, it would be kind of fitting for Canseco to join the Mitchell investigation. He is, after all, the man most responsible for its existence.

And if you go chasing rabbits --and you know you're going to fall--
tell 'em all a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call...

Jose, can y'see, is still crabby after all these years over the fact that prodigious amounts of the very best steroids money could buy were only able to enhance his performance to the tune of 462 career home runs. That's 31 fewer 'round-trippers than Lou Gehrig, whose career was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It's also 50 homers short of Ernie Banks, whose performance was enhanced by little more than a good attitude and a strong, prevailing southwest wind. Far more important to the Mad Hatter, though, is the mathematical fact that 462 is 38 dingers shy of the magic number 500, which traditionally wins you an all-expense-paid trip to Cooperstown. Deep down, Josey is still dreaming the dream to some day pose next to a plaque with his name on it and maybe even take a few questions, blithely unaware that the assembled reporters would be trying to figure out who had the higher I.Q.-- the bronzed, inanimate likeness on the wall, or The Mad Hatter himself. The most underdeveloped muscle in Canseco's entire body, y'see, is that thick, gamy, overcooked one between his ears.

Not that Jose lets that stop him from thinking he's always the smartest guy in the room. (This is the man, after all, who once felt the need to explain to Mike Wallace that "gluteus maximus" is the technical term for "butt muscle.") Likewise, he has conned himself into thinking that his failure to reach the slugger's Valhalla can't possibly be due to shortcomings of his own, either as a player or as a person. No, the Mad Hatter instead looks upon the vast, rudderless, disjointed, chase-its-own-tail, eat-its-own-young, homer-happy organism that is Major League Baseball and somehow, somehow sees a grand conspiracy to destroy the career of one Jose Canseco Capas, Jr.

And so it was with self-righteousness and indignation and a vengeful heart --and a bank account far smaller than someone with 462 career home runs should ever have, in this day and age-- that the Mad Hatter, microphone protruding from one hand and middle finger protruding from the other, sat down and dictated Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and how Baseball Got BIG. The ensuing book was part confession, part accusation, part speculation. Names were named. Characters were questioned.

And much like Elvis, Jose's recording struck a chord. America awoke from its Great Steroid Slumber. Voices were raised, phone calls were monitored --er, uh, I mean, made-- emails were sent and a great, public hue and cry demanded that Something Be Done. Congress unerringly checked the temperature of the hot dogs and the apple pies and concluded that there were votes to be had, if hearings were held. Dozens of subpoenas were loudly issued! (And hundreds of ready-to-autograph baseballs were quietly requisitioned.)

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead...

You do remember the Congressional hearings last year, don't you? Sammy Sosa appeared at the hearings and pretended he no hablo ingles, senors; Mark McGwire appeared at the hearings and pretended he had no idea what they were about; Rafael Palmeiro appeared at the hearings and pretended he had never, ever, ever used steroids; Frank Thomas appeared via satellite and pretended he couldn't make the trip in person; and the Mad Hatter appeared with a smile and a wave and didn't pretend a damn thing, because he actually believes everything he says.

Curt Shilling appeared at the hearings. Oh, he wasn't subpoenaed --nor even invited, for that matter-- but he showed up anyway because he could just smell all those cameras and microphones. Standing before the committee, he pounded his chest and said, "Do you realize what this means? If steroid use is this widespread, then I'm an even better pitcher than you already thought I was!" Later, Shilling held a press conference on the Capitol steps and --staring at a point about six inches above the camera's lens-- delivered a misty-eyed apology to Baseball fans everywhere for having been way too humble for far too long.

Meanwhile, back in the hot gas chambers of Congress, two traditional adversaries sat side by side under the white-hot glare of holier-than-thou Congressmen. One of them, Bud "Don't Know My [Donkey] From The Hole In The Sand Where I've Been Burying My Head" Selig, ran his fingers through his tangled locks, shifted uncomfortably in his wrinkled suit and pretended to be shocked, shocked to learn that there were steroids in Baseball. Sitting next to him was the head of the players' union, Donald Fehr, looking for all the world like that kid who knows he's about to be expelled from school for shoving a cherry bomb up the principal's tailpipe. Yea, though the Congressional hearings were a sudden, spring tempest that shrieked madly for a few days and then just as quickly blew itself out, the landscape was forever changed. Government agencies stepped up their investigations into illegal steroid distribution and Congress leaned hard on Selig and Fehr to institute more thorough testing and tougher penalties within the grand old game. Can I get an "Amen," brothers and sisters?

At least Selig had the good grace not to pretend that he had channeled the ghost of Kenesaw Landis, single-handedly shoving the new rules down Fehr's throat. Instead, he wiped his brow and told us that everything was going to be alright, now. And then he had a hot dog and prayed that everything would be alright, now.

It wasn't. The investigations and the testing only proved what everyone, including Selig, had suspected all along but didn't want to think about: 'Roids were indeed rampant in Baseball. About that, at least, Canseco was right. Selig reacted to the bad news in his customary, screen-all-my-calls fashion. He delegated duties, kept a low profile, shied away from the media, ate lots of hot dogs and hoped it would all blow over.

It didn't. So, finally, this past spring, Bud had a revelation: Hey... maybe we ought to look into this whole steroids thing! He announced the creation of a new commission: An investigative body independent of Baseball, independent of the Commissioner's office, independent of Congress and headed by a highly respected individual blah, blah, blah. Seligese. The "highly respected individual" who was "independent of Congress" was a guy most people had never heard of before, former Senator George Mitchell. "Independent of Baseball and the Commissioner's office" meant, of course, "A guy I hired who is a minority shareholder in the Boston Red Sox." The "investigative body" was a panel of mid-level bozos charged with the duty of visiting ballparks, poking around a little, asking a few obvious questions and, hopefully, thinking up a good excuse to suspend Barry Bonds before he surpassed (a) Babe Ruth's career home run mark or (b) Hank Aaron's career home run record.

And the white knight is talking backwards,
and the red queen's lost her head...

Of course, if you're going to "investigate" steroid use in Baseball, what better place to start than with the author of the aforementionedly catalytic Juiced, right? Apparently not, because it has taken George Mitchell four long months to finally meet with Jose Canseco. Maybe Mitchell felt that simply reading Juiced was enough: According to Canseco, Mitchell told him that he believes the book is 100% true.

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm glad Canseco wrote that book, and I think there's probably a great deal of truth in it. I also believe, however, that the Mad Hatter is about one-third functionally insane-- which is a technical term, Jose, for "bat-shit bonkers." So, I find it difficult to swallow the notion that George Mitchell thinks Juiced is the be-all, end-all gospel on steroids in Baseball and everything else under the sun, okay?

Ah, but I don't really blame him for saying so, under the circumstances. Let's face it: If you were trapped in a room with a 462-pound gorilla who is clearly, clearly insane, you'd probably tell him exactly what he wanted to hear, too. You might even dig up a little toy sheriff's star, pin it on his left pectoral, smile your politician's smile, put your arm around his shoulders and gently guide him to the door. Heck, you might even give him a playful little pat on the fanny. Through a supreme exercise of will, you'd resist the urge to roll your eyes until he was safely outside, striding Conanesque and tilty-eyed toward the waiting cameras and tape recorders, filling his lungs in preparation of pontification...

Remember what the dormouse said...*

Bud "Shhh... Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet... I'm Hunting Wabbits" Selig must go.

* I'm really not looking to insult anyone's intelligence with the following details, but form demands that I go through the motions of giving credit. The bold text in the above post represents excerpted lyrics from the song "White Rabbit." It was written by Grace Slick and recorded by Jefferson Airplane, with Slick handling the vocals, in 1967. It was released both as a single and as the next-to-last track on the LP Surrealistic Pillow.

Jul 10, 2006

Extended Edition Moises Alou

While looking on Amazon today to marvel at the John Ford collection on DVD the site recommended that I purchase the McFarlane SportsPicks MLB Series 13: 6" Extended Edition Moises Alou. Other than the double take, I looked at it very closely.

Is that a Cubs uniform he's wearing? No. That's his dad's team all right. But that can't be Wrigley... right? The wall looks just a TAD too short?

Is this a gag, I wonder? Is there another figure lurking behind the wall with a decade old walkman and a green turtleneck sweater? Perhaps he's sold seperately? Even still, that's the wrong wall.

I also wonder if his hand is yellow?
If you buy it, don't touch his hands, kids!

Fair or Foul

Installment #1... Things That Go 'Bump' in the Light

Alameda County, California, has only got a few years left. Sometime in the next decade, its grand, inexorable transformation into one solid, eight hundred square-mile block of soulless, addled, self-absorbed, puke-inducing suburban wasteland will render it officially ineligible to refer to its big, annual, mid-summer festival as a "county fair."

A county fair, y'see, should have a decidedly rural feel and flavor and, well, aroma to it, and Alameda County is quickly running out of the necessary ingredients. Someday soon, all but the most self-deluded members of whatever status-inflated council or committee decides these things will realize that their county no longer has any cows in it, that none of the sheep nor the goats are worthy of show, that the few horses they have are really just tired, bored, sway-backed ponies and that anybody who, in this time and place, really thinks pig races are fun should probably be seeking professional help. Oh yes, sometime in the next few years these facts will hit home with the same suddenness and clarity and sinking feeling in the gut that you would get if you fumbled your brand new cellphone into the nether regions of a port-a-potty. When that time comes, the powers that be had darned-well better change the name of the event to something other than the "Alameda County Fair" --just out of simple courtesy and respect for honest-to-Cartwright county fairs everywhere-- or I, alas, shall be forced to hunt somebody down and kick them in the dairy-air.

I might suggest, however, that they steer clear of calling it "Sailfest."

"Sailfest" is the name of the big, flocking, mid-summer event in New London, Connecticut. It was there, on Saturday, that an eighty-nine year old gent in a Chevy Caprice staged his own personal version of the running of the bulls...

It happened at around 3:30 in the afternoon. The old boy and his date, along with several dozen other people, perhaps even hundreds, most of them on foot, were waiting while the badly tarnished silver-gray of an Amtrak train squeaked and screamed and rattled and clattered through a crossing. The moments and the rail-cars flashed by like a badly deteriorated film... one that will give you a vague sense of vertigo if you watch it for too long. Finally, the white-hot wash of sound panned hard-over to one ear and dopplered raggedly away. A breathless second and three-quarters passed. The atonal punk-band bell-clang of the crossing gate ceased without ceremony, leaving behind only its deafening notion, echoing around inside everyone's skull. The red lights stopped flashing, and the gate-arms lifted themselves with a slight jerk, and a wobble, and then that smooth, stately, climbing arc that always ends with another wobble-- like a drunken party-goer who stands too quickly and takes a sudden, shaky half-step followed by a brief, uncertain pause.

No doubt the old gent in the Chevy paused, briefly and uncertainly, and then took his foot off of the brake pedal. The car rolled forward, easing itself over the crossing with a rise and a dip and a rise and a sway that started to become a gentle corkscrewing motion just as the tires crossed the last rail. Our boy finished bumping slowly over the crossing... and... then... bumped slowly into one of the pedestrians that were streaming along toward Sailfest.

I will now pause while you absorb the, uh, impact of that last statement.

Yes, he hit a pedestrian. Yes, with his car.
So then what did he do? He hit another one.
And then another one.
And then another.
And another...

In all, he hit twenty-seven people. All of them at about five miles per hour.

Actually, if you want to get technical, he may well have hit (or bumped) more than that. Twenty-seven was the unofficial number of people who needed treatment of one kind or another-- for a rather wide variety of injuries, I might add.*

Twenty-seven! This was not, mind you, an incident where somebody lost control while doing sixty and screeched and swerved and careened and ploughed into a crowd of people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. No, this Bozo was just idling along at that dead-slow speed that boaters call "no wake" and --whoops!-- forgot, apparently, how to stop the [coitating] car!

Ah, but here's where it gets interesting...
About three or four of the people who were injured are on the Ned Lamont campaign staff. Lamont was at Sailfest, you see, shaking hands and kissing babies and calling Joe Lieberman every name in the proverbial book, except the Really, Really Off-Limit ones.

You remember ol' Joe, don't you? Six years ago, he was Al Gore's running mate. If the Supreme Court hadn't simply thrown up their hands in the Florida Recount Fiasco Case (as I like to call it) and thrown the election to the Smirking Marionette, Joe Lieberman might well be Vice President right now. Lieberman was, then, and is, now, a U.S. Senator. Often, when you see his name in print, it is followed by the notation "D-Conn." Obviously, "Conn" stands for Connecticut. And "D," of course, as everybody knows, means he is a member of the Disorganized Party. Ah, but Washington is a tricky sea to sail, with capricious, shifting, swirling political winds --yes, Washington really blows-- and lately Joe Lieberman has been tacking about as far to the right as one can with a "D" attached to their name.

Enter Ned Lamont, a man seeking to tack a "D-Conn" onto his own name. Lamont's entire platform can be summed up in one sentence. For all I know, it's his official campaign slogan: "Joe Lieberman is a Republican in sheep's clothing."

And that simple, straightforward message is working. According to the poll numbers, the upstart Lamont poses a Credible Threat** to the multi-term incumbent who is, perhaps, the only Democrat that the Blinkin' Administration wouldn't mind seeing re-elected.

Which brings us back to New London's Sailfest and the gouted geezer in the gas guzzler who turned a simple railroad crossing into a slow-motion, human bowling alley. As I read the article, and came to the part about how several of Lamont's staffers were among those injured, one glimmering thought stood out from the dun, roiling hubbub of my mind...

You know, this sort of thing has 'Dick Cheney' written all over it.

* No fatalities were reported.

** Lieberman has stated that if he loses in the primary, he will run as an independent in the general election.

Way to go, Joe. That's just what your party needs right now: More prolonged infighting, more Chinese fire drilling, more headless chickenesque political gyrations and --most importantly of all-- a good old-fashioned vote split that would kick the door wide open for one more Republican in the Senate. Well done.

Even if Lieberman's promise/threat is just a ploy, the bare fact that he made it shows just how strong Lamont's challenge is.

P.S... Bud "Let's All Stare at the All-Stars" Selig must go.

Jul 7, 2006

Ray Ray

I have now seen the man, Ray Davies, three times this year. I am sure that we all agree that the Kinks were the best British Invasion band of them all. Better than Herman's Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dave Clark Five, Beatles, Stones, or those dudes that did the "Freddie." Ray is the greatest lyricists ever. Let's name some, eh? 20th Century Man, Sunny Afternoon, Alcohol, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, You Really Got Me. OK, the last one is a joke but a classic song.

The first time I saw him this year was at the Vic. A small venue that fit very well with what Ray is up to. This was by far the best show. He played for over two hours. At one point, audience members wrote their favorite songs on paper plates and threw them on stage. Ray would pick up a plate read the song title and then play that song. It was amazing how well he still knew B-sides to 1964 singles. He rocked! The new album is good but live it was fantastic. Almost every hit was played and only 6 songs off the new album.

Next, I saw Ray at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Again, fantastic. He stuck more to known songs like All Day and All of the Night. In a rare concert moment I saw an actual encore. Normally, the venue will leave the lights down and we cheer and the act comes out and plays another few songs. This happened in Milwaukee too. But after the encore the lights came up and the crazy cheeseheads would not stop chanting for Lola. BTW, Ray hates that song. After five or so minutes, he came out with the band and played the song for them. I'd say us but I was screaming for Alcohol. The song and the beverage.

One of the things I enjoyed about Summerfest show was that he was able to flex his mighty arena rock muscles. Cranking out Low Budget era rock was fun to see. I had seen David Lee Roth the night before and Ray can out-jump, out-sing, and out-rock the former Van Halen front man. I guess I shouldn't be surprised but a 50 year old should out rock a 63 year old. Maybe it's just me.

Finally, to Grant Park for the Fourth of July. Horrible. So sad. People didn't seem to know who he was. They didn't like the thing he does with You Really Got Me. On this song he explains that this is how he heard it in his head and plays a little blues riff that he sings over. Then he explains how he explained the song to Dave (his brother) and then Dave played that da-dadadada da dadadada all grunge-like. It's amusing. Unless you are paying 6 tickets for a beer. Or doing your ticket to beer conversions. Very sad. If you went to Taste, ignore this show. See him where he is appreciated as the genius that he is.

A final note. I find it tremendously amusing to watch a crowd of hundreds all sing along, "I'm not like everybody else."

If you are unawares of the Kinks or Ray Davies, but Muswell Hillbillies. Run, don't walk and grab this masterpiece.

Jul 6, 2006

Cap'n On Blog

Greetings. I just learned that Metallica will be on the Simpsons this season - which makes me wonder, which is more sad?

That Metallica has completely lost any street cred and is staring on the deflated iconic/ironic guest star of the week cartoon? Or that the once great iconic/ironic cartoon show has booked Metallica in an effort to regain its lost street cred?

Now allow me a moment to fill you in on a personal mater. In case you didn't know, I'm due to be a daddy on the 11th - which up until this week - was always referred to as "July". July was a VERY longtime away back in January... and now it's the 11th --And of course, even this is just guess work. Apparently this thing could start at any moment. Most folk's tell you the first one is always late. They'll sneak this wisdom in after telling you every horror story they know about child birth.

"When my kid came out with a second head growing out of it's chest. You know? Like in that movie, Total Recall? Yeah, it was pretty creepy! Oh, and the first one is usually late... And my sister had a kid that had scales and could only survive in sea water. They named him Namor...."

If it were up to me, the kid would have been born on the 4th. Not because of the political coolness or fireworks on his/her birthday - but for pure selfishness. As a person who does not have a normal job let it be known that NO ONE works this week. More accurately, no one in America works - and if they do it isn't very hard, and they absolutely aren't bringing in outside help when half the office is out on vacation to Brizzbyland. So it would have been good for this 'birth' thing to be out of the way in a dark spot on the schedule.

However, any discussion of inducing or C-Sections were right out because all the sudden my wife has gotten all 'Earth Mother' crunchy as all items regarding our unborn child go. She even refused to take cough syrup after I got her sick with Bronchitis! That's just silly! Me? I was self-medicating with 12 year old Scotch and heavy doses of NyQuil. After the death rattle in my throat ruined my peaceful NyQuil induced coma, I decided it would probably be good to see an MD. He put me on even MORE drugs. 'Well, at least she won't get it', was my reasoning.

She got it anyway. And a pregnant woman in the 9th month who just happens to come down with the exact same illness you just had is... I mean, do I have to spell this out?

So if my entries are erratic this month or next, you'll know why. Happy to be on board. Cap'n

The Cap'n is in

Good news. If this ship sinks, we all get lifeboats and flotation devices. It's true. The women and children are now officially taken care of. Who will go down with the boat? The Cap'n. So let's light the tiki torches, not worry about spillage and party carelessly as only the blasphemous can. Let the Cap'n take the heat when the coast guard claims our smokes smell "funny."

So let the hazing begin and let's please welcome our newest neophyte, the Cap'n.

Jul 4, 2006

Time Out

Yes, dammit, I noticed.
In the unbalanced travesty known as inter-league play, my beloved National League managed this year to amass a collective record of just 98-154 against those [persons of questionable ancestry] from the other league-- a thoroughly demoralizing winning percentage of .389. Granted, that's not nearly as low as The Smirking Marionette's approval ratings, but it's still pretty bad.

Obviously, this puts me in something of a political pickle.

Oh, sure... I could point out that I have always trumpeted The National League's style of play rather than its relative level of talent, but --while that assertion would be technically accurate-- it would likely be seen as side-stepping the issue.

Another option, of course, is to simply say nothing at all and whisper a prayer to Alexander Cartwright that no one notices the deafening silence. While there are probably legions of readers out there who would like me to exercise that option more often, across a broad spectrum of topics, there are also those who would deride me for taking the coward's way out-- tucking my keyboard between my metaphorical legs and slinking stealthily toward wings, stage right.

Or I could go the other way: Continue to bray like a donkey --or, for that matter, like an [donkey]-- loud and hoarse and off-key, like a guest conductor at Wrigley Field transforming one of the grand old cathedrals of the grand old game into the world's worst karaoke bar, blithely proclaiming the last bastion of good ol' nine-on-nine baseball to be morally superior to the other league (which, by the way, it is) regardless of the final score. Hell, I might even throw in a line about how "the meek shall inherit the earth." Don't put it past me!

But to do that at this particular juncture in time and space would make me sound like some half-crazed, dirt-encrusted desert hermit, ranting and raving at the coyotes and the cacti about evil political machinations and alien bodies at Groom Lake and secret takeover plots and big white vans with heavily-tinted windows bristling with invisible antennae and performing impossible maneuvers on mountain roads and white-shirted bespectacled clerical types hidden away in sterile bunkers tweaking dials and listening intently while you recite Maggie Estep in the shower and how freedom is a relative term at best and an outright illusion at worst and how we have become society of self-importance and oh by the way please read my blog and... uh... What was I saying?

Oh, yes: The truth is, the meek shall not inherit the earth. The meek shall inherit runners at second and third with nobody out and the game on the line, an RBI machine designated the DH-1 standing at the plate, slowly grinding the bat handle into sawdust.

So... what to do?
Well, for one thing, I can retreat into the flexibility of the English language. Henceforth and until further notice, I will refrain from using phrases like "the vaunted National League." Instead, I will favor adjectives like "the venerable National League." In the words of Billy Crystal, see what I did there?

For another thing, I will root heartily for the savory irony of the senior circuit's squad besting their counterparts in the upcoming All-Star exhibition, thereby securing home-field advantage for the League Champions in this fall's Whirled Series. Now, wouldn't that be tasty?

He stands six-foot-one and weighs-in at about 180 pounds. His hometown is Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Somehow, the Cubs got him from out of the Mets' farm system. As of this writing, he had appeared in just 14 major league games-- three times as a pinch hitter (0 for 3). Overall, he's hitting .310, slugging .552 and has accounted for seven Total Runs. He's played 14 innings in left field and 39 in right. Officially, he has yet to make an error-- although he did misjudge a fly ball on Sunday, which ultimately contributed to a run for the white stockings. Not that it mattered. He made up for it by slamming his first two home runs... and on his twenty-fifth birthday, no less.

Most importantly, he is the proud owner of a thoroughly delicious name: Angel Pagan. The Pagan Angel. The perfect nickname to make him The Official Favorite Ballplayer Of The Blasphemes Blog. The Pagan Angel. You can't beat that.

Actually, if all the broadcasters are to be believed, he pronounces his surname "puh-GON," which makes him sound like some sort of obscure geometric shape. Five will get you ten, however, that this rookie from Puerto Rico doesn't really pronounce his first name "AIN-gel," so right there the broadcasters are, as usual, already half-full of [stool sample] and there's no telling what the proper pronunciations really are.

It remains to be seen just how far above or below mediocre The Pagan Angel will turn out to be... but you've got to love the nickname.

P.S... Bud "The Obtuse Angle" Selig must go.

Good Times, Bad Times

That's the number of days New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent in jail for refusing to reveal her source in the CIA Blown-Cover Case, as I like to call it.

That's the number of days Karl Rove has spent --or likely will spend-- in jail for actually blowing a CIA operative's cover. There's probably some symbolism to be found here --some readily-drawn allegorical example of this Blinkin' Administration's modus operandi-- but what do I know? I'm just a truck driver.

I have heard it opined that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald decided against indicting Karl Rove not so much because he didn't have a case, but because he wasn't certain he could get a conviction. Um, so, in poker parlance: He mucked a perfectly good hand on the river because he didn't have the "nuts."

Meanwhile, Karl Rove was so hippy-happy-hooey to hear that the case had been dropped that he told The Smirking Marionette --whose nickname is "The President"-- to hop on a helicopter, skip across the ocean like a stone and jump into Iraq with a parachute in one hand, a flak jacket in the other and a puzzled look on his face... You know the one. There were two very, very good reasons for that little trip. For one thing, it clearly demonstrated to any doubters that Air Force One is, indeed, the most souped-up 747 in the world, daddy-o. For another, the Blinkin' Administration was long overdue to have Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari perform the Ceremonial Kissing of the Flag-replica Lapel Pin, which The Smirking Marionette wears at all times, even in the shower and when he goes nighty-nite. Al-Jaafari, of course, had difficulty fulfilling this all-important duty because he was still recovering from the heart attack he'd suffered moments earlier, when The Smirking Marionette jumped out of a giant, red, white and blue cake and yelled "Surprise!"

After all the pomp and circumspect was over, The Smirking Marionette turned to one of his generals and asked, "So where's the green zone? I'd like to see that."

"This is the green zone, sir."

"Huh. Looks kinda brown to me."

"It is, sir. Pretty much everything around here is one shade of brown or another."

"So then why do we call it the green zone?"

"That's a very good question, Mr. President. That ranks right up there with 'why do we call it Mission Accomplished'?"

Upon returning to the U.S. (which Georgie likes to call "The Ranch"), The Smirking Marionette and his boss, Chancellor Palpatine --whose nickname is "The Vice President"-- made a Very Big Deal out of pretending to be mad at the New York Times, the very same newspaper that helped them blow Valerie Plame's cover, because the Times was "irresponsible" enough to print a story about how the grand, high, exalted Executive Branch has been pawing through all of our financial records. As if that was a secret. As if you and your uncle Al and your aunt Kida didn't already know. Every once in a while, Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Darth even managed to remember to pretend to be [leaked] off at the "leaker" in their midst. Funny, though, I've not yet heard them "promise" to punish the leaker the way they promised to punish the leaker in the CIA Blown-Cover Case. You know... Karl Rove. Probably they don't want to get carried away this time since this leak, like that one, is all part of the plan. Mid-term elections coming up, you know. Call the Times a few names, git folks all riled up and feelin' anti-egghead so's they'll vote Republican.

Speaking of getting all riled up... I'm sure by now you've heard about Rush Limbaugh's latest run-in with the, uh, long arm of the law. It seems that upon returning from a trip to Mexico or some-such, Rush was detained by airport security when he was found to be in illegal possession of a prescription drug. The prescription was in somebody else's name, y'see. The drug was Viagra.

Wait a minute; I'm confused. I thought Rush Limbaugh was already a big, swollen [rooster]... A walking, talking, red-hot, helmet-headed, stick-up-the-[sphincter] [Richard the Lyin'-hearted]. So why the hell does he need Viagra?

P.S... Bud "Remember, the Root Word of 'Commissioner' is 'Commit'" Selig must go.

Time Hurries On

[1] Don't look now, but Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra is among the League leaders in batting average. As of Monday night, he's hitting .362, slugging .588, with an on-base percentage of .429 and 88 Total Runs to his credit. ("Total Runs" is my terminology for a statistic that combines Runs scored with Runs Batted In.) In addition, Nomar's fielding percentage is a whopping .998! (He has made one error in 59 games as the Dodgers' first baseman.) By comparison, Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee's average, OBP and slugging percentage are .291, .408 and .519, respectively. In 19 games, he has accounted for 27 Total Runs and made two fielding errors for an average of .990.

[2] This year's All-Star Game is in Pittsburgh. It isn't really Pittsburgh's turn to host the mid-summer exhibition, but they got bumped up in the order because their ballpark is new. New, but built in that style that they like to call "retro," because they think we don't realize that "retro" really means "like Wrigley Field."

[3] Dodgers lead-off hitter Rafael Furcal has an on-base percentage of .331. He has accounted for 82 Total Runs. Cubs lead-off hitter Juan Pierre has an OBP of .313, with 50 Total Runs.

[4] The Pirates' new ballpark is called PNC... because it has no soul.
It was built to replace Three Rivers Stadium. If you never had a chance to see Three Rivers Stadium, don't worry: You didn't miss anything. It was exactly the same as Riverfront Stadium in Cincy or Veterans Stadium in Philly or, for that matter, the Astrodome, if you can imagine the Astrodome without a roof. In the words of Robert Wohl, they sucked. Three Rivers Stadium was originally built to replace Forbes Field, which was named for a British general named John Forbes. In 1758, during the so-called French and Indian War, General Forbes captured the strategic Fort Duquesne, on the site of present-day Pittsburgh. Actually, "captured the fort" is a bit of an overstatement. The French had abandoned Fort Duquesne and burned it to the ground before Forbes ever got there. The Brits built a new fort and named it Fort Pitt. Later settlers called the site Pittsburgh, tacking on a silent "h" because the British like to throw in a silent "h" about 'alf the time, just for the 'ell of it.

[5] Stop and think this one over... The Los Angeles Dodgers have played more games in Dodger Stadium than the Brooklyn Dodgers did at Ebbets Field.

[6] Excerpted from Baseball Weekly, June 25, 1876...
GARRYOWEN, MONTANA-- In what could prove to be a pivotal game in the wild Western League pennant race, the Great Plains Indians defeated the Army Cavalry 35-0 today at Little Bighorn Field. As the score would indicate, the game was a slaughter... Army batters were utterly baffled all afternoon by the Indians' crafty left-hander, Crazy Horse, who completed a one-hit shutout... the Indians ran around the bases seemingly at will... Cavalry manager George Custer was unavailable for post-game comment... In other baseball news, the Cubs beat the Reds 3-2...

[7] Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal's fielding percentage is .952. Cubs shortstop Ronny Cedeno's is .962. Cubs center-fielder Juan Pierre has yet to make an error, but then, he can't throw the ball more than, like, 35 feet.

[8] The first hit in the history of Forbes Field was an RBI single by Cubs player-manager Frank Chance. Johnny Evers scored the run. Evers had reached base on the strength of his personality: He was hit by a pitch.

[9] Okay, Cubs fans. Everybody knows Tinker, Evers and Chance. Who was the fourth member of the infield that lead the Cubs to four pennants in five years and a 104-win, second-place finish in the other? Answer: Third baseman Harry Steinfeldt. Hmm... yeah... "Steinfeldt" doesn't exactly have the same ring to it, does it?

[10] Rafael Furcal is five feet, eight inches tall and weighs 196 pounds. Derrek Lee is six-feet-five, 245. Go figure.

[11] On July 18, 1897, in a game against the Baltimore Orioles, Adrian "Cap" Anson, player-manager of the Chicago National League Baseball Club, hit safely for the 3,000th time in his career. He was the first man in the history of the National League to do so. (The other league hadn't been invented yet.) The very next day, July 19th, the man destined to break Anson's career hit record made his major league debut against the Washington Nationals. Although he is best remembered as a Pittsburgh Pirate, and the shortstop by which all other shortstops are measured, Honus Wagner actually began his National League career as the center-fielder of the Louisville Colonels. Although he batted third in the lineup, this was the dead-ball era: In his first plate appearance, he laid down a sacrifice bunt.

[12] Pittsburgh's Forbes Field hosted some 4700 games in just over six full decades of major league service. In all that time, nobody ever threw a no-hitter there.

[13] Bud "Don't Blame Me-- Brenly Handed Me A Steaming Plate of [Feces]" Selig must go.