Saturday, September 29, 2007

Does this baseball team make me look phat?

The road to the playoffs will extend through tomorrow, as the Phils dropped one to the Nationals today and the Mets won. We're back to a dead heat with one game left. I'll be there on Sunday nervously twitching and yes, keeping score.
I just checked on StubHub. My seat is worth $295. I ain't selling. The top price for tickets is $883, with most seats available in the $400 range. I wonder how that kind of thing is legal while prostitution is illegal? I think you're getting screwed either way.
So, it's down to the Phillies and Mets for the National League East. Loser goes home. If the Phillies win, the Mets have to lose for the Phils to win outright. If both teams win or lose, it would force a tie-break game on Monday, here. It would be the perfect way to drive another stake into the hearts of Mets fans, but I'd rather them just lose on Sunday.
Mostly, we hate the Mets and their fans. It's odd, since the Phillies and Mets were never really good at the same time, so one of them was always beating up on the other. That's how it is with the Eagles and Cowboys, too. Most of the time, the Cowboys won, which only makes Philadelphia fans more angry.
I've noticed that the last two National TV games have consisted of trashing the Philadelphia sports fans. I think it's because we're easy targets. We get overly emotional and we are prone to extreme acts like - God forbid - booing.
Today, the Fox Sports cameras focused on fans either bored, yawning or staring blankly into space. The announcers couldn't figure out why the fans were so morose. Trailing 4 to nothing with Adam Eaton on the mound doesn't fill us with joy.
Last Monday night's Eagles game featured the relentless attack of Tony Kornheiser, as he used most of the third quarter to bait Charles Barkley into ranting about the shabby treatment he got while he was here - most of which sounds to me like revisionist history.
It isn't surprising that announcers and former players who now get paid to be objective would find expression offensive. Last week, Eagles analyst Mike Quick said that Eagles fans were "stupid" for booing Donovan McNabb when he was introduced before the game, just after he made some racially divisive comments. Quick didn't get it, either.
By 4 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, Phildelphia fans will once again be in the spotlight. Either as winners or losers. It's hard to be critical of a winner. Losers, however, are fair game. I'm guessing that win or lose, when the Phils leave the field tomorrow, the fans will give them a standing ovation. If you see it on the local sports reports, I'd be surprised.
By the way, those snowballs we threw at Santa Claus? The one that happened like 40 years ago and we have to keep hearing about? He was a lousy, dirty Santa and he deserved to be pelted. We'd do it again.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I keep hearing the term “Best Seller” referring to a book. Apparently, having a “Best selling book” doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the best-selling book; merely that it was on the Best Seller’s list.
Shouldn’t it be “Better Selling Book” and “Better Selling Book List” since it doesn’t have to be number one on the list to be a Best Seller? That’s odd to me, seeing as how it’s a literary distinction. I would like to think that people who make their living from words would be a little more careful with the language. There is only one Best Seller.
Things went well on Thursday. The Phillies jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the time My Name is Earl started. Earl's still in jail, and Randy may be headed there himself. I won't bore you with Office summary, suffice it to say that the show started out with a bang. Favorite Michael Scott quotes: "Is there a God? If not, then what are all these churches for?" and "I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious."
Things got better on Friday. The Phils inched closer to closing out the stinking Mets. We won and they lost, putting the Phils in first place in the Eastern Division. What makes it even sweeter is that I scored a couple of tickets to the first home game of the playoffs. I got an e-mail from the ballclub saying that I had won this "second chance" drawing, allowing me to buy tickets. Those are the only kinds of drawings I win - the ones where I get to spend money. My "win" put us squarely in section 305, day and time to be determined.
I'll be there on Sunday for the game too. Part of me wants to see the deciding game and another part wants it to be a meaningless affair as the team gets ready for their first playoff game.
To be determined.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't bother me - I'm watching television

That's a common Garden Cat. Mine, actually. He enjoys an early evening amongst the downstairs flowers, and at this point in his life, who could deny him that simple pleasure?
Tonight, the TV will be warm. The Phillies are still "in the hunt" as they say, a game behind the struggling Mets with four to play. They're facing future Hall of Famer John Smoltz, so it won't be easy. Then, at 8 - of course - it's two hours of high-level comedy that will make me switch off the game. Hey, they play baseball every night.
On the blog front, I had given up on our local Inquirer one, called blinq, after its author Daniel Rubin declared it dead several months ago. He went all brick and mortar on us, taking a regular columnist job at the paper. Imagine my surprise when a simple e-mail exchange gave me the clue that blinq is back in business. Stop by for some local flavor, interesting perspective, good writing and even [egad] entertainment. You might even see my name mentioned. Go figure.
And no sooner did I read his column today on the bio hazards of plastic shopping bags that I found one lingering on the common area behind my condo, to the left of the tree. I'll fetch it before the Garden Cat gets to it.
And now, a rant before I flip on the TV:
A political do-gooder in Pennsylvania is trying to get aluminum bats banned from Little League baseball in the state. He says that the bats hit the ball too hard and make the kids susceptible to injury. The ball is hard too. Maybe they should soften that up. The ground is hard, and so is home plate. And how about those fence posts?
Here’s an idea: Play the games in one of those rubberized Moon bounce things, swathe the kids in bubble wrap and use soft plastic bats and balls. Let’s call it Safeball. That way, the only injury the kids will risk is the injury to their self-image caused by the kind of people who would like to hang a “Sanitized for Your Protection” sign on their precious little children. Just a paper one. No cardboard or sharp edges. While we’re at it, let’s get the adults out of Little League.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursdays on NBC

Unless you're up a little later than I thought you'd be, you are reading this on Thursday. Thursday is a big day around here. Since the days when television turned to crap, sitcoms are harder and harder to find, and good ones even harder. That's why it's cool that two of the best sitcoms on television are on the same night. My Name is Earl and The Office.
I was a little late to the party on The Office. I just caught on last season, but thanks to the miracle of DVD I spent much of the summer watching every episode, including the deleted scenes, which are often funnier than the included scenes. Each show could run about 40 minutes if they used everything they kept. Methinks that's why the first four episodes this season are an hour long - or 43 TV minutes.
Two major events will unfold during the season. Jim and Pam are supposedly a couple now, since the finale of season 3 has Jim at the door asking her to dinner, the lucky slob. I'm thinking that their beautiful friendship could be ruined by this love affair. They'll probably find that it is easier being friends and lusting after each other than actually fulfilling their desires. I'm also thinking that Karen might try to weasel her way back in.
Also, young former "Temp" Ryan Howard has been moved to Corporate in New York, ahead of Michael, Jim and Karen. He's the typical book-smart/world dumb character that would be crushed when thrust into middle management straight from a non-descript sales stint. His sales calls with Dwight and Stanley were disastrous, and it seems to me that he got promoted on some interview skill or some sexual favor than on merit - since he had none. He's not as smart as he thinks he is. I think he'll fall flat on his face in NYC, and maybe even wind up back in Scranton before the end of the season.
Ryan Scenario Two: He could move up (for some reason) and decide to make life tough for the Scranton gang. They've been skating for 3 years. OK, so I'm hedging on Ryan, sue me. My gut feeling is that he fails.
Those are two developing plot lines, but there are others that should bubble under. The show has taken on a bit of a soap drama thing lately. There's Michael and the new live-in, Jan. She said that she was looking forward to "sitting around in my Danskins and waiting for you to come home." That's got trouble written all over it.
I would like to see them devote more time to Creed Bratton. His best stuff lands in the deleted scenes. We learned a lot about his character from them, but I can't help but think that the producers don't want to expose him too much, since he's a bit of a freak.
We'll see if the Angela/Dwight affair goes anyplace. I wonder if we really need two love stories? Probably not. Besides, their sideways glances are great. Nobody is supposed to know but everybody does.
Meredith will still be an alcoholic, Stanley will still be grumpy, Kelli will talk too much and Toby will be ... Toby, or as Michael would say, "The worst human being alive."

As far as Earl goes, I have no idea how he's going to get out of jail.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Keep the change

There's usually a long time between events, but when it happens, it's particularly entertaining. You can't predict them, you just have to be there when it happens. Like the beauty of a solar eclipse or the devastation of a tornado, it's a truly special event.
What is it?
My friend and I went out to the local Subway sandwich shop to fetch a light dinner before watching the Phillies eventually lose to the Braves on Tuesday night. A simple sandwich and a drink - couldn't be easier, right? I think you already know the answer.
It was simple until it came time for the Sandwich Artist [trainee] to ring up the purchase. I'm not sure what was going on with my friend, since I was too busy watching the customers build up in line behind me. He was taking a while, and there seemed to be some fumbling over money.
I realize that it was probably the kid's second night on the job, but why did he reach for my order to ring it up, and wonder, to my friend, "Is this yours too?" Nope, one sandwich per person, Chief.
Then it's my turn. My order came to $6.49, and like any good consumer, I handed the kid 7 dollars - expecting that it would be plenty. Faith and begorrah, the kid screws up the keypunch on the register and the thing goes haywire. His boss, realizing that his employee is in deep trouble, wanders over.
Seeing that the kid had the blank stare of the proverbial deer in the headlights, he hit a few buttons, to no avail, and eventually slid a calculator in front of the kid so he could make change. He slid a calculator in front of the kid so he could make change. A calculator. He slid a calculator in front of the kid. Just handed it to him, so he could make change.
At this point, I have begun to see the entertainment value of this little transaction, while my friend waits helpless near my locked car, having mistakenly expected me to waddle out immediately after him.
I began to smile as I felt the kid's angst, and I realized what a tiger must feel like when he sees a defenseless antelope wandering around smelling flowers and looking at the sky.
I silently mouthed to the supervisor, "Fif - tee - one - cents," and now, we both have begun to sense the humor in the situation.
The kid enters the numbers: 7 - point - zero - zero. Minus. Six - point - four - nine. Equals.
"Fifty one cents change," he proclaims. By this time the value of the money has changed from the point of the original transaction.
I smile and take my expected change and silently weep for the future of society. I realize that it is neither an indictment on people as a whole or a condition that completely affects young people, but it does point to the failure of an educational system that encourages children to use calculators and discourages them from discovering the simple mathematics behind a problem. Am I to believe that the kid cannot subtract 49 from a hundred in his head?
As it is with so many things, and as I have written here many times before; it is the quick and easy answer. The obvious solution to the problem. What it bypasses is thinking.
And we're all for that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A brief interlude

In between spending an ungodly amount of money on 4 new tires for my car, washing and waxing the same car and activating a new cell phone, there wasn't a lot of time for insightful thought today. Pity.
The most insightful thing I did today was decide what to have for lunch. A buffalo chicken salad. Fortunately, I ate the salad before I had to pay for the tires and still had my appetite. There may be a bigger racket than selling and installing tires. If there is, I can't think of it right now. Maybe concert tickets, but they cost a fraction of what 4 16-inch tires cost.
You can't ride around on bald tires. I thought about it, but I had this recurring nightmare of all 4 tires exploding simultaneously on my high-speed commute to work, and I was sent careening into a deep ditch where I was left to rot until squirrels and birds pecked away at me to the point of leaving me unidentifiable, save for the twisted remains of my tire-less car. Police were able to identify me as they pasted together the VIN plate from my dashboard and compared the registration to my dental records.
So, maybe if you think about it that way, the tires were a bargain?
I'm very tired.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Another blog seed from the comments

"Ever notice that most of your commenters are female? Me thinks you have a secret to getting the ladies to respond to you."
- Rattl'n Chains, comment from yesterday.
Yes, I have noticed, and it's a keen observation by you. I wish that "secret" worked in the real world as well as it does here in the Blogosphere.
From the start I've always had more women readers and commenters than men. I think it's because I don't write much about sports and "guy stuff", and when I do write about sports, it's in a general interest way, because I like to look at things from a different perspective.
No doubt, most of my Google searches for such things as Alycia Lane bikini pics, Britney Spears and Paula Creamer are coming from men, but they are undoubtedly disappointed by what they find here and are likely to be quick to leave. I can't help but wonder what the reaction is when their little Google search uncovers a legitimate essay on Paula or one of the girls and no trace of any revealing pictures. Part of me takes great pleasure in disappointing them.
Generally, I'm more comfortable in a room full of women than men. That hasn't helped me much socially, but in general, I think that once people get to know me, they find that I'm not a typical guy, which I've always accepted as a badge of honor, but women (in the real world) find to be of little appeal.
I think my comfort level comes in because I was raised by my mother, after my father died. At work last week, we had Diversity Training (which I found to be redundant), and the issue came up over assigning traditional gender roles to boys and girls. I strongly objected, and made the case that a boy leaving home would have no idea how to run a washing machine, iron clothes or shop for groceries if his sister (or mother) always did those things. Some Neanderthals in the group thought otherwise. Their kids will grow up to be helpless and totally dependent on their wife to do everything. They can find someone subservient like that, but what kind of marriage is that? But I digress.
I think the things I write about here and generally think about are not gender specific, and I think that if you did a study, you'd find that there are probably more women bloggers than men to begin with, so with the combination of those two things, it really isn't surprising. Men, in general, have difficulty expressing their feelings, so blogging is a chore. I realize that is a stereotype, but sometimes, stereotypes are true. That's how they got to be stereotypes.
My next post will deal specifically with men's fascination with breasts, football and beer and how quickly you can eat various foods.
Just to be fair.