Saturday, October 25, 2008

More claptrap from Crazy Eyes and the Eskimo.

It's grey and rainy here today, so I hunkered in for a little TV before game 3 of the World Series - a little more TV.
Over on CNN they were following the McCain campaign. Sarah Palin was in Albuquerque, New Mexico speaking in front of a crowd that was expected to be much bigger.
Behind her, crazy supporters chanted "Drill, Baby Drill" and "Mine, Baby Mine". Besides the obvious reasons, I won't vote for those two nitwits because of the antiquated thinking of having to drill for our freedom and reliance on fossil fuels. It's the same reason I cringe every time McCain brings up investing in Nuclear power. Palin started screaming about "putting Americans to work" and how drilling the United States full of oil wells is a great way to do that. Ugh. Don't you have shopping to do?
Then, Crazy Eyes himself came up to speak. He started in on that spiel about how he intends to create wealth and help the middle class. Whenever politicians think they're going to lose, they appeal to the lower and middle classes, because they know we vote and there are a lot of us. Creating wealth is such a ridiculous notion that I don't have the time or energy to pursue it here. For decades, candidates have pledged to help and it only gets worse. Reagan told us he was going to get "government off our backs" and Bush Senior told us, "No new taxes." How's that going?
I had an economics professor at Widener who told us that anytime we hear a candidate pledge no new taxes, what it really means is no new services. Stuff costs money, and as long as we keep popping out kids and building homes, we're going to need more services. Cut taxes and take police officers off the street. See how many people complain.
The way to control taxes is to control spending, and as we saw with Palin's shopping sprees, these people love to spend our money.
Hey, I just wrote that headline. Crazy Eyes and the Eskimo. I'm selling it to the networks as a new detective drama. I think it's a winner.

McCain just lost St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP)—Blues goalie Manny Legace left after one period Friday night with a hip injury that occurred when he slipped on the carpet placed on the ice for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The Alaska governor dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Blues hosted the Los Angeles Kings. A narrow carpet walkway was placed from the gate at the Blues bench to center ice for Palin, her husband and two of her daughters.
Just before the ceremony, Legace was the first player onto the ice for St. Louis. A team official pointed to the carpet. But Legace said the official moved his own foot from the carpet just as Legace stepped down, causing the carpet to slide. Legace fell, then gingerly made his way to the crease.
It was Palin’s second appearance at an NHL game this month. She also dropped the ceremonial puck at Philadelphia on Oct. 11.
Legace didn’t blame Palin for the injury. “She’s been pretty good for our game,” Legace said. “I’m starting to like her more and more. No grudge.”

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quiet, please.

Since there was no baseball tonight (egad) I took a break and watched a film I had meant to see in the theater, but alas, it didn't last in theaters very long.
Tim Robbins stars as a sort of superhero/vigilante who tries to rid the world (or New York City specifically) of all the background noise to which most of us have either become accustomed or have accepted as the normal way of life.
It starts out nicely enough and builds to something ... or so I thought ... but quickly degrades into a bit of a farce, as though the screen writer's supply of dope ran out midway through the film and he suddenly resorted to using his normal brainpower. The built-up angst eventually scatters into space as our hero winds up taking the normal route (through politics) and gives up his thrilling car-smashing and tire-slashing because (here we go) his family is ashamed of him.
OK, is he a bit of a lunatic? Sure. But, in his heart you know he's right, and if you live in an area that is at least plagued by car alarms and loud motorcycles at all hours (like me), you'll see his point if not understand his motives.
Where the film misses the mark is in not pursuing Robbins' character as a bit of a Dark Knight, patrolling the city in search of wayward car alarms and the din of building burglar alarms. It could have been a charming effort and made us sympathetic of him, but instead made me look at the clock and wonder how they were going to wrap this up in 89 minutes.
There's the obligatory sex scene, with a European girl wondering about the beauty of her vagina (hint: don't worry, be happy) and Robbins eventually finding his soul mate, only to have her wander off somehow.
In the end, it leaves us with more questions unanswered than answered. It's a nice idea - that the world is too noisy and we have only grown to accept it - but the idea isn't realized on film. It might make you think about all the background noise in your life - cell phones, leaf blowers and burglar alarms - but it won't make you want to run out and do anything about it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hold onto your hat!

One of my numerous e-mail messages today encouraged me to enter the Chapeau Blog Awards contest. What is that, you ask? I didn't know either, so on I read.
Dust off your shelf and make room for a Chapeau Blog Award! Be one of the first to enter the exclusive Chapeau Blog Award contest, solely dedicated to honoring the creative and inspired art of blogging.
Well, I don’t actually have a shelf, but I get the point. I figured, with the depth of scope and artful writing that takes place here nearly every day [ahem] I’d be a shoo-in. I didn’t even question why a blog award would be named after a French hat, but who am I to ask?
I scrolled down. Step 1 was asking me to choose one of their 12 categories. “Entertainment,” I figured. Hell, this is as entertaining as it gets, right? You betcha.
Step two was to select a blog award category from “Best industry or Best opinion.” Opinion, natch.
I scrolled down further to find…
A special discounted rate of $195 is available to bloggers who enter now!
A hundred ninety-five dollars. To enter a contest. What am I missing here? I’m sure I would be one of the first, because I can’t imagine too many other people willing to cough up two bills to enter a contest.
They go on to say…
Hundreds of deserving bloggers will be honored with a Chapeau Blog Award. And one blog will be named 2009 "Most Brilliant Blog"!
Hundreds? That’s rather vague. OK, let’s say 200. That’s plural of hundred. 200 times $195 = [math function] $39,000. And what is the prize, exactly? A title. There is no mention of a cash award (like maybe your money back) or a major advertising campaign, touting your blog and sending you to Regis and Kelly or something. Most Brilliant Blog. BFD.
In principle, I’m pissed that such a thing exists, but in practice I’m pissed that I didn’t think of it myself. Ask people to pay to enter a contest and have no cash award. Brilliant, indeed.
Have they ever heard the phrase, “No purchase necessary to enter?” I guess not. One of the problems with the Internet is there is no overseer. There's no Internet Police to lock up swindlers like these.
I’d call it the Escroquerie Blog Awards.
Look that up, Monsieur Chapeau.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

(Semi) Live Blogging - World Series game 1

I don't have a laptop computer or one of those Blueberries, so it will require a little walking back and forth, but I'm going to try the live blogging thing tonight. Stop back and see how long I can keep this up (that's what she said).
7:02pm - Inspired by yesterday's post, I'm wearing my green Eagles t-shirt and underpants from 1970 when the Beatles broke up. Let's go Phils!
7:15pm - Just thinking. Manager Charlie Manuel was an unpopular choice with the fans when he was given the job. Now, he's on the doorstep of being the most beloved coach/manager in the city's history. He'll be the guy who "broke the streak" and won a championship. Either way, I think, he's in a no-lose situation. Mostly, we're happy to be here and figure this team is built for the long run.
7:55pm - They're showing the game on a big TV outdoors at Penns Landing. Presumably, for people who don't have a television of their own. It's a windy 49 degrees. Local TV is all over it.
8:04pm - Thank God for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Now, I can tactfully avoid the pre-game show for some TV entertainment before the first pitch.
8:16pm - OK, Christine sucks. I'm watching the starting lineups. I wonder if Tim McCarver listened to the PA announcer pronounce Carlos Ru-eez. For some reason, McCarver insists on calling him Ru-ez.
8:20pm - The Backstreet Boys singing the Anthem? Are you kidding? What a joke. Back to Christine.
8:29pm - Almost game time. I made it through the endless local media nonsense. My guess is that whomever can get to the starting pitcher early will win. Generally, they settle in after an inning or two. Will it be Hamels or Kazmir that is gotten to?
8:33pm - God, this build-up is endless. More junk followed by commercials. Is there a game tonight?
8:47pm - Looks like Kazmir was the first victim. Utley was all over a 2-strike meatball. I've noticed a lack of the Fox Trax ball/strike indicator. They used it once on a ball that bounced up there. Are they under orders from Major League Baseball to minimize controversy?
9:09pm - Nice outfield play from Upton saves a run. Those ground rules about the "rings" above the field remind me of playing wiffle ball in the backyard. "If it hits the chimney, it's a homer." "If it hits the railing, ground rule double." This is supposed to be major league baseball?
9:16pm - I can't help but chuckle (to myself) when I hear an announcer talk about "the history of the Tampa Bay Rays." All 10 years. Meanwhile, McCarver insists on calling it an "artificial surface." It's a real surface. It's artificial turf. Do I nitpick?
9:39pm - Huge double play started by Feliz with the bases loaded and 1 out saves the Phils for now. Is it me, or does it look like the Fox commentators are rooting for the Rays?
9:50pm - McCarver insists on calling Carlos Ruiz "ru-ez". Some kind of Memphis thing, I guess. His big 1-out RBI ground out gives the Phils a 3-0 lead. Bottom of the 4th and it's almost 10pm. Geez. I have to go to work tomorrow.
9:57pm - They're only using the Fox Trax on balls that are way out of the zone or balls that are hit. What's the point? Fox bows to big league pressure. Crawford's HR gives the Rays a ray of hope.
10:11pm - Burrell was called safe on a 1-3 play even though he was clearly inside the running lane. Why bother to paint that extra line inside the first base line if the umpires aren't going to call it? He should have been called out for running inside the lane, but I suppose the post-season pressure caused the umpires to wave the rule?
10:28pm - Big foul-out by Upton saves the Phils' 3-2 lead for now. Meanwhile, McCarver has suddenly started saying Ru-eez. Why now?
10:37pm - An interview with the president of Taco Bell followed the "free taco" promotion after a stolen base. Pro sports is clogged with product tie-ins. He's taking up a seat that could otherwise be filled by an actual baseball fan.
11:05pm - Egad. It's past my bedtime and this game isn't close to being over. Phils just stranded their 9th runner and maybe switched the mojo over to the Rays.
11:07pm - I guess we're tied into this "God Bless America" deal in the 7th inning now until forever? Another theatrical event that's made for TV. Asking questions makes me a bad American, right?
11:14pm - Joe Buck is asking if the 100 pitches Cole Hamels has thrown are enough. I'm so sick of this pitch count thing. Who says 100 pitches is the magic number? Just because it's an even number makes it significant. The guy has had a week off. Let him pitch.
11:52pm - Bottom of the ninth, Phils lead 3-2. Now the Rays will have to beat Brad Lidge, the best closer in the National League in order to win game one. HINT: Ain't gonna happen.
12:01am - Pedro Feliz squeezed the final foul-out and Lidge saved game one for Cole Hamels. The Phillies are up 1 game to none and have temporarily silenced the cowbells in Tampa.
Game two on Thursday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is there another race besides human that I can join?

This has happened before. It happened in 1980, the year after the team finished fourth and all hope appeared to be lost. It happened in 1983 when they had a team of players so old they were nicknamed "The Wheeze Kids." It happened again in 1993 with a team that went from worst to first. What is it? It’s the sudden popularity of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now I know how Beatles fans felt in 1963. They used to go see them at the Cavern Club or some little dive in Liverpool “before they was what they was.” Then, they signed a big record deal and made the trip across the pond. By then, you needed a shoehorn to wedge your way into a Beatles show and if you got in you couldn’t hear them for all the screaming girls. The people who loved them before they were popular got shoved aside in the name of big marketing and popularity.
For those of us who have been with this baseball team for the better part of 5 decades, this sudden popularity is a sight to behold. Winning brings it out, because nobody wants to admit that they liked something when it wasn’t popular. Now that the Phillies are winning, you can’t swing a dead squirrel without hitting a red hat, shirt or something that somebody wants to sell you to commemorate their extraordinary success. The gravy train has boarded.
Every other page of the newspaper is strewn with ads for everything from autographed baseballs (for as little as $159) to commemorative newspaper pages, framed for your convenience. Winning makes you want to frame your newspaper, I guess.
I'm anxious for the games to start so we can talk about actual baseball and stop talking about all the stupid superstitions people have when they watch the game and their fascinating back stories.
There are background stories galore, with such thought-provoking stuff as why we should hate Tampa and the fact that Las Vegas odds makers are giving 1 to 5 odds that one of the games in Philadelphia will be delayed because a fan threw something on the field. Really, you can bet on that. 3 to 1 odds in Tampa. We have better throwing arms here.
At the Majestic Clubhouse - the Phillies' souvenir emporium at the ballpark - their ritual is playing The Beatles 1, a compendium of the quartet's greatest hits. The Fightin' Phils won 11 of their last 12 games as the Beatles CD blared from the shop's speakers. "We didn't play the Beatles and they lost the first playoff game," said Roe Rush, a supervisor at the gift shop.
Ugh. It sounds as though they need a new supervisor over there. Hey Roe, how would you feel if your doctor broke out the leaches and did a voodoo dance?
The local news is all Phillied Up, with the usual “ph” banners like Phantastic Phillies and Phillies Phever. Clever. Monday, the local Fox TV affiliate started running a countdown clock on the lower left side of the screen. 2 days 6 hours 15 minutes 34 seconds till game time. Thanks. As though we would have forgotten entirely if they weren’t there to remind us.
Here's another nut-job checking into the Crazy Hotel:
Terry McGovern of Mount Laurel wears the same Phillies home jersey (Chase Utley) and red-and-blue cap every time the team plays. He has spent $600 on new Phils apparel, but says he won't wear any of it during the World Series. The one game during the playoffs when he was not dressed in his lucky garb, the Phillies were behind, he said. Then he realized he didn't have his jersey or hat on. "I was watching in my pajamas on the couch," he said. "I ran upstairs and put my hat and shirt on, and literally within minutes, Victorino scored the first home run."
Dumbass. Don’t you listen to The Beatles when the game is on? Get with the program, dude. Hey - maybe you put the hat and shirt on because Victorino was going to hit a home run? Woooooo ** fingers outstretched and waving ** Freaky, huh?
What did he wear in 2000 when they were 65 and 97? You’re one brick short of a load, bud.
[FYI, I’m attending Sunday's game in my pajamas]
Don’t you just want to grab people and shake them sometimes? Not me, them.
Estelle Nightswander of South Philadelphia keeps herself and her husband planted on their South Philly sofa whenever they take in a game. "We only get up if we have to," Nightswander said. Her superstitions extend to other fans, too. The Nightswander’s attended World Series games in the 1980s. "We wouldn't let the two girls sitting next to us leave their seats either," she said.
What a crackpot. I’m guessing Estelle plants herself on the sofa for a lot of stuff. Hey Estelle, you’d better hope you’re not sitting next to me on Sunday. If you don’t let me get up, I’ll pee all over my seat. Then, nobody wins.
Hey wait a minute – I was wearing a Phillies cap the day the Beatles broke up.
Sons of bitches.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You just never know what's going to grab people.

Far be it from me to figure, but I've gotten about a dozen page hits over that tiny paragraph yesterday concerning Tampa Rays' pitcher Matt Garza's penchant for spitting. It turns out that the Internet is nuts about it, and who am I to let them down?
Having seen nearly each of his starts I can’t really tell you what’s more fun to watch, Garza’s stuff – absolute top level movement on his fastball and curve – or the amount of times he spits during a game. I know, I know, but some pitchers go to the rosin bag in between pitches, and some to their hat, and even some more to the brow, but Garza’s in between pitch ritual is spitting. I don’t think anyone has called him a camel or the Loogie quite yet, but it’s coming.
From the Boston Herald:
Garza set a new record for spitting (game 3).
Tampa ground crew had to keep pumps and speedy-dri on hand with Youkilis sweating and Garza’s spitting.
Matt Garza has my vote for ugliest creature to ever pitch a gem in an ALCS playoff game.
Matt Garza pitched well for the Rays, but I had to turn my head whenever the camera focused on him. He did nothing but spit all evening. Spit, spit, spit. It was disgusting.
So, you get the point. There's a spitting issue. If you watch game 3 on Saturday you'll see what I'm talking about.
The crush of media and product placement is in full swing around here. The Inquirer and Daily News are actually selling "good luck" ads to readers for $11. For a mere eleven bucks you can run a classified ad wishing the Phillies "good luck" (whatever that is) in their series against the Rays.
I'd like to have a nice sit-down with the chowderheads who fork over 11 bucks for an ad that (a) the team will never read and (b) is meaningless in the grand scheme. Honestly, the junk people can find to waste their money on is amazing to me. I would say, "shame on the newspapers for dreaming this up," but I'm more likely to want to clunk some readers' heads together like Moe. Get a grip, folks.
Of course, I'm now hearing the opening eraser phrase "I don't want to jinx them, but ..." whenever someone starts talking about the team or the series. First of all, I don't have enough space here to elaborate on the nonsense that is the jinx and second of all, if you have that much influence over things, maybe you should be concentrating on something besides a baseball game.
Otherwise rational, intelligent people in the year 2008 are talking about jinxing a baseball team. Lucky hats, lucky shirts ... all I can do is shake my head in wonderment.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Raiders of the Lost Keys

Saturday night I went to see Umphrey's McGee in Philly. They're probably the best "never heard of them" band around and if you get the chance, you should hear of them. I'll spare you the details, but I lost my keys twice during the evening - once in a restaurant and again at the show later. There were bouts of mild panic followed by resolution when they once showed up at the hostess station and later with a security guard. The problem with being a single person is that when something like that happens, there is no alternative course of action. If my keys had indeed vanished, I ran several scenarios over in my head, all of which involved a locksmith to (a) get me into my car and (b) get me into my house. Getting home would have involved an expensive cab ride and sleeping outside until the locksmith was available would have been uncomfortable. I think that's why single people have shorter life spans.
I'm personally boycotting the Sarah Palin appearances on Saturday Night Live. I haven't seen the show in years, and even though the clips are available on every corner of the Internet, I really couldn't care less. I think it's inappropriate for a candidate for president to appear on a sketch comedy show. It's supposed to make us think she's "just like us" but it strikes me as a last ditch effort to drum up interest in the campaign. I ain't falling for it.
Could Tampa Rays pitcher Matt Garza spit a little more? The guy spits constantly. He spews little flecks of spit all over the place. It's very difficult to watch and I couldn't help but wonder if he does it at home.
The World Series starts on Wednesday. We have tickets to game 4 on Sunday. As it happens, there is an Eagles game at 1pm and a Who concert at 8pm at the aptly named sports complex. Parking will be nearly impossible, so I'll go out of my way to use public transportation. The Phillies game is at 8:30 and I cannot figure a way that there will be enough available parking. Between the exodus of the football fans and the influx of AARP members going to the Who show, it will be a nightmare.
The cat's blood work came back today. His kidney ailment is still progressing, but isn't yet at the terminal stage, so we'll have another Christmas together and he'll easily make it to the age of 18 in February. The downside is that the vet wants me to come in and learn how to give him saline injections to keep him hydrated. Geez. I have to give a 17-year old cat a needle. That should go over big. Maybe, while I'm there, they can show me how to stitch up my own hands and heal puncture wounds.