Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden?

I try to get excited about politics. I try. I used to give them money, but I had a long talk with myself and I stopped doing that. It's not supposed to be about money, it's supposed to be about ideas. It is about money, but I don't have to support a bad idea.
I saw the stories yesterday that said Barack Obama was ready to announce his running mate, just as the Democrat convention was about to start. I went to Obama's site and signed up for the text message alert so I'd be on the announcement list.
The little chime went off and I opened the text message. Joe Biden, it said. Joe Biden? The politics of change meets business as usual in Washington. The perfect pair, I suppose. Just as Joe's hair plugs were starting to blend in and he had maxed-out his golden tan, he'll be ready for prime time politics.
The guy who declared that "you can't go into a 7/11 without an Indian accent" is the Democrat vice-presidential nominee.
The guy who in September 1987 had his own presidential campaign run into serious trouble when he was accused of plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party.
The guy who, while a first year law student at Syracuse Law School, plagiarized a law review article in a class paper he wrote.
Biden also released his undergraduate grades, which were unexceptional. Further, when questioned by a New Hampshire resident about his grades in law school Biden had claimed falsely to have graduated in the "top half" of his class, (when he actually graduated 76th in a class of 85) that he had attended on a full scholarship, and had received three degrees. In fact he had received two majors, History and Political Science, and a single B.A., as well as a half scholarship based on financial need.
During Biden's 2007 presidential campaign, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen said that Biden's candidacy might be endangered by his "manic-obsessive running of the mouth."
Two years ago when Gentleman's Quarterly profiled the senator, the headline read "Joe Biden Can't Shut Up."
A January 31 remark on fellow Democratic candidate and Senator Barack Obama is frequently transcribed as, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Now Joe is part of the story. Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and [egad] the Republicans are sharpening their pencils. Am I still excited about politics?
Not so much.
And get ready for a lot more of these ...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vindicated ... you're welcome.

That's right. I don't know nothin' 'bout no cycles or any of that womanly junk (as I've said), but I know a kid when I see one. Those Chinese gymnasts still have their baby teeth, and we all know baby teeth are gone long before your 16th birthday.
To quote NBC commentator Al Trautwig, "We all live in the world..." and we all know a kid when we see one. Finally, the IOC is investigating the age of those ridiculous Chinese gymnasts...
The International Olympic Committee has ordered an investigation into the age of Chinese gymnast He Kexin, The Times of London reports. Faced with almost insurmountable evidence which suggests that He is two years younger than the birth date listed on her Chinese passport, the IOC has launched an inquiry that could result in the stripping of He's gold medals.
This news comes on the heels of another Times report that details
the findings of a New York computer security expert who found official Chinese documents that list He's age as 14 years and 220 days. Mike Walker used a Chinese search engine's cache feature to find He's actual date of birth on spreadsheets from a Chinese government website. The spreadsheets were taken down off the site recently and He's name had been removed.
Two years? I'd say they're at least a year off. Why does it take a media investigation to uncover something that should have been uncovered a year ago? Are they ignorant or just stupid?
Stupid is as stupid does, Mrs. Blue.
Anyone with an eye and a brain could tell that these girls were no more than 14 years old just by looking at them. Maybe the IOC needs some people with an eye and a brain in their head instead of the narrow-mindedness of commercial TV and short-sighted Olympic glory to make decisions on women (girls) who are not nearly old enough to compete.
I don't care about "the regiment they're on stops their cycles and all kinds of crazy junk physically" ... Look at their faces for Chrissakes. Does it take a Moe-stooges slap in the face for the IOC to look at them? The first time I saw them was 6 days ago and I could tell. They're fucking kids.
And the Olympics are a sham of a fraud.
Here's another little tidbit for ya. If you believe that nonsense about Micheal Phelps' 12,000 calorie diet you're not as smart as I thought you were. Nobody, including a 23-year old athlete can eat 12,000 calories in a day and (a) look like that and (b) actually take in that much food and expect to compete in an athletic endeavor.
Even if you love to eat, it's almost impossible to eat that much and maintain some semblance of athletic performance. It's likely some urban legend vindicated by Olympic glory. Suppose some friend of yours saw you at a strip club. You've never been there before but you went because you heard so much about them and you went in once. He sees you and calls the newspaper all assed-up: "I saw him at the strip club, [therefore] he's there every day."
Try eating a shitload of food once and listen to the stories that come out of it. I'm thinking that somebody saw Phelps eat parts of that diet days apart and sewed together stories to make a whole. It makes good press and they run with it, and we believe it. Well, you do. I don't.
As I've said before, the world is ruled by two things ... (1) Money and (2) Television. In this case, they're both responsible and irresponsible. Don't believe everything you hear, especially when most of the Olympic coverage is coming from a studio in New York based on camera work in China. Most of the commentators aren't in Beijing, merely taking video feed and commentating from New York ... but you knew that, right?
Phelps will make a boatload of money because he is the best swimmer in the world and because no other Olympic athlete has the opportunity to win 8 medals. You can't blame him for making the most of his opportunity, but you also don't have to buy into it.
That's today's dose of cold water on the warm love of society. You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Life's little pleasures.

I have a full refrigerator. There's something comforting in that, psychologically speaking. When you get right down to it, I'm satisfied by mundane things. A couple of bucks in my pocket, a healthy cat, some food and a job. It doesn't take much more than that. I've never been much of a thrill-seeker. I don't get the urge to have sex with last-call hookers or jump out of airplanes. I can find enough thrills in the little things, which is why I don't understand the kinds of hobbies that men find themselves drawn to.
Jet skis, sky diving and the All-Terrain-Vehicles are huge indulgent wastes of money to me. If I had that much money to piss away I could find a lot better ways to piss it than to buy something that is (a) maintenance intensive and (b) potentially life-risking. That said, when someone kills themselves doing one of these things it makes me sad because to me it is avoidable.
One of my little pleasures is the thrill of live music. I enjoy concerts and live music if the performers are willing to put themselves out a little in order to excite me. Fiona Apple does it for me. She gives of herself physically and emotionally. Michael Hedges did it. Sadly, he passed many years ago on a winding California highway. There will never be another like Michael Hedges, trust me.
Umphrey's McGee does it. They enjoy their music and their enjoyment flows to the audience. Most of the artists I like make their music personal. It isn't about "I love you" or some other generic nonsense that any American Idol winner could sing about. Their music emotes and it makes me think or act in a way that I wouldn't normally think or act.
I've been a fan of the Dave Matthews Band for a long time. When I had Prodigy Internet service the music boards were full of DAVE MATTHEWS BAND headings to the point that I could no longer ignore what so many people found intriguing. I bought "Crash" and was hooked. Sadly, they don't get a lot of mainstream radio play, which means we have to work harder to get to the music, but the hard work makes it worthwhile. Anyone can like music that is spoon-fed. That takes zero effort.
I took a friend up on an opportunity to see them in concert a few years ago, when they were playing in Camden. Until then, I had never seen them live and only knew them from the five minute songs on the CDs I had. Sometimes, things dawn on me that I wish I had known about before. Such was the case.
Now, I'm hooked. I see them four or five times every summer, and until today it's all been fun and games. The news came out today that founding member and saxophonist LeRoi Moore died from complications of an ATV accident he had in June. They aren't saying, but I'm guessing it's internal injuries. Thrill seekers.
LOS ANGELES - LeRoi Moore, the versatile saxophonist whose signature staccato-fused jazz and funk overtones onto the eclectic sound of the Dave Matthews Band, died Tuesday of complications from injuries he suffered in an all-terrain vehicle accident, the band said. He was 46.
He found his thrills his way and I find them my way. Selfishly, my thrill is diminished because of his. That's the way it is with drug abuse or other forms of physical abuse. As Dave said, "It's always easier to leave than be left."
LeRoi is gone and we are left. It isn't one of those John Lennon things or what some would consider a major rock and roll catastrophe, but LeRoi was responsible for more than we realize. Not only did he arrange the songs, but he founded the band, which makes him a linchpin - musically speaking. When you're in a band, there is a hierarchy that is unspoken but exists. I'm sure that, in the context of the band, when LeRoi spoke, people listened.
Selfishly, I wonder about the future of the band. I wondered anyway, because none of us are getting younger, and that touring stuff is draining. Every show I saw became a little treasure. I could say, "I saw them in Hershey and they were great!" one more time and I came to appreciate it a little more as the years went on.
Now that what musicians would consider the 'heart and soul' of the band is gone, I wonder if they will go on as a shadow of themselves or re-invent themselves? It's the Dave Matthews Band in name, but a big part of their heart is gone. To most people, LeRoi was in the background, but to the band he was in the foreground. Life is odd that way.
I don't go to reunion concerts of Journey, Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer or other such great bands that are left as a shell of themselves because I prefer to remember them as they were rather than what they should be. I hope Dave Matthews can find his musical soul and learn from what LeRoi gave the band. That way, we'll all be able to continue to live out our little thrills in life and remember what we had and what we have - which is the best way to remember people.
Rest in peace, LeRoi.

The number one reason I will never live in Florida

Tropical storm/Hurricane Fay.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who has six bucks?

BEIJING (AP)—China’s He Kexin won a tiebreaker over all-around champion Nastia Liukin of the United States for the uneven bars gold medal Monday at the Beijing Olympics. Both scored 16.725, but He got the nod because her execution marks were closer to a perfect 10 than Liukin’s. Liukin would not criticize the scoring system that does not award dual gold medals.
“It’s nothing I can control, and honestly, I can say it has been very fair to me, and I got the biggest gold medal of them all,” said Liukin, winner of the women’s all-around gymnastics gold
Honestly, why do we watch this crap? Scoring systems, judges and personal bias have no place in organized sport.
While watching the competition (why?) I was reminded of a line from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," spoken by the late John Candy as Del Griffith:
"Six bucks and my right nut says we're not landing in Chicago."
Six bucks and my right nut says those Chinese gymnasts are 12 years old. The Olympic Committee (whoever they are) says that they checked and they're satisfied that these kids are 16 (or turning 16 during the year). Of course, even if they found that they were 12 (which they are) how could they backpeddle now and say, "We're sorry, you're out." They couldn't take the hit from the public once this whole mess is exposed as a fraud.
But, on the bright side, it's gymnastics, so who gives a crap?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

H after Z, except after N,B and C

My bewilderment at Olympic sports continued tonight. Alicia Sacramone finished fourth in the vault final Sunday night despite bronze medalist Cheng Fei landing the second of her two vaults on her knees. Sacramone finished .025 points behind Cheng.
“I can’t change her scores,” she said. “The judges made up their minds.”
Cheng Fei. Isn't that furniture arranging? Then, we were treated to Bela Karolyi's "it isn't fair" rant on NBC. If anyone would know how ridiculous gymnastics scoring is, you'd figure he would. There was none of the "that's the way it is" resolution from him. He was practically in tears. I think I understood every other word, which is more than I understand about judging athletic events.
Meanwhile, I'm hearing that the NBC commentators aren't saying Beijing correctly. It's bay-jing, not bey-zhing. Supposedly, the only one saying it correctly is NBC news anchor Brian Williams. All of the voice-over guys and Mister Television, Bob Costas are saying zhing. Now that I know, it bothers me. I would have assumed that NBC would have researched it, but I suppose I expected too much from TV journalists. All they had to do was hit Wikipedia.
"It's been annoying me for quite awhile, honestly," said S. Robert Ramsey, a college professor and author of "The Language of China."
He's not alone, and it isn't just NBC at fault. "For you mousse-coiffed, Mr. Gravitas TV anchor types and you sotto voce public radio types, please oh please stop saying "Bay-zheeng," wrote Kaiser Kuo, who works for a China-based ad agency and wrote an online guide for journalists covering the Olympics. "The pronunciation of the city's name couldn't be easier."
Ramsey said he believed Bay-zhing came into usage because it sounded more foreign, more mysterious. Some in the West may subconciously believe the harder-sounding "jing" sounds like a slur against the Chinese, he said. What strikes him odd is that the "zh" sound isn't used in the English language.
"You have to work to get it wrong," he said
Just like gymnastics.

By the way, the term "sotto voce" (saht'-oh voh-chee') (literally "under voice"), is an Italian expression, means to speak under one's breath. In music, a dramatic lowering of the vocal or instrumental tone - not necessarily pianissimo, but with a hushed quality. I think it's probably over the heads of most of the gang at NBC sports.