Saturday, July 25, 2009

Grab a plow.

OK, so it's 1:53am and I'm hopped up on Starbucks' Vanilla Latte (milk and coffee) and I'm finding it almost impossible to consider going to bed. I don't know what that means for the rest of Saturday, but it can't be good.
PATNA, India – Farmers in an eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plow parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials said on Thursday.
Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.
"They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains," Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar's remote Banke Bazaar town.
"This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue this practice until it rains very heavily."
Send me over there with a big hose. I'll spray the elderly village women and some of the unmarried daughters until they put their clothes on.
Meanwhile, Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game in Chicago on Friday.
As he made the perfect push toward history, Buehrle simply wouldn't leave his antsy teammates alone. He kept talking to them, and even hit rookie Gordon Beckham with this question in the seventh: "You think I'm going to do it?"
"I just looked down and didn't say anything because I didn't want to jinx it," Beckham said.
In the fifth inning, Buehrle went back to the clubhouse and told everyday catcher A.J. Pierzynski — who had the day off — to go watch in the dugout and enjoy himself.
"People say you can jinx it, but not Mark," Pierzynski said. "He's all about having fun."
Players don't like to talk about no hitters and perfect games because they're afraid they'll jinx it. So, how many perfect games have there been? 16. Do you think all the failed perfect games weren't talked about also? I don't get it.
God forbid you have fun. Jinx, weather Gods, naked girls plowing fields.
What year is this?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Faire ma particularité.

It was hot today. "Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of heat." What made matters worse was that I had to spend the bulk of it in the sun watching the Phillies cough-up a 10-game winning streak to the Cubs in a 10-5 defeat. A day off from work, but even a bad day at the ballpark beats a good day at work. Sadly, by the time the clouds rolled in and the sun rolled out, the game was almost over, and the only thing left to do was to venture out and play in traffic.
Maybe it was the heat, or maybe a moment of clarity, but as I sat there witnessing the carnage, I realized that most of the things I enjoy in life are on the fringe of what most people would call popular.
Minor league baseball, the LPGA, professional cycling and most of the music I like get reactions like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound when I start talking about them to the humans. I think it was the heat.
For instance, last Saturday I had a ticket for the Blue Rocks game against the Frederick Keys. Friday's game was rained-out, so they scheduled a double-header for Saturday, starting an hour earlier than the regular game. I hustled down there so I could be in Wilmington for the 5:05 start and see a kid named Danny Duffy pitch for the Blue Rocks. I can't talk about that to many people because they don't understand my gibberish. I sat (and stood) for two full games and enjoyed every minute.
Twice this year, I've used a full week of precious vacation time to attend LPGA golf tournaments. They were both majors (The LPGA Championship and the U.S. Open) but that significance is lost on most people. "Wha ... huh? You're taking a week off?"
"Where are you going?" they ask, expecting some exotic locale.
"Bethlehem, Pennsylvania," comes the answer, and the ears prick up and the head tilts.
"OK - have a nice time."
And I always do, which serves to make me feel more odd instead of more normal. Wandering a golf course in the woods of Pennsylvania, watching young men play baseball and checking the Tour de France on television would rank low on most lists of "how to utilize your free time."
The other thing I noticed was that, in the brutal heat today, most people were (a) wearing a hat and (b) not wearing sunscreen. I attended the game wearing my soon-to-be signature white bandanna and packing a spray bottle of sunscreen in my giant shorts pocket.
I'm guessing that, as I write this, the people around me who neglected to protect their skin are now looking up sunburn cures on WebMD and running out for aloe cream. Meanwhile, my skin maintains its original pasty white hue and although I came home a little sticky from sunscreen, I can wash it off in the shower. I smelled better too.
Hats, on the other hand, hold in the heat. That's the point of the hat. I've recently discovered the joy of the bandanna. It keeps the sun off my skin-head and the layer of cloth doesn't hold any heat in. In the heat, I ruin more hats than most people own, and while wandering the Saucon Valley golf course I embraced the bandanna as a nice alternative to the hat.
Five years from now, everybody will be wearing them, and you'll say, "I know a guy who's been wearing them for years."
You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I bought a 4-pack Mike's Harder Lemonade tonight. The side of the box says, "WARNING Contains 8% alcohol." Warning? Why would they warn me that it contained 8% alcohol? The warning would be, "WARNING: Contains 3% alcohol." Then, you'd know you were paying 7 bucks for lite beer. Otherwise, it should say, "HEY! Contains 8% alcohol - Cool." Marketing. They think they should warn us for something that we want.
I love the people who stand on line at the market for ten minutes, throw all thier junk on the conveyor, watch the cashier ring it up, bag the junk and then fish around for two minutes for the money to pay for it. Did they think that, at the end of the line, the cashier would say, "Hey, it's free!" Get your money out, dumbass.
Now I'm reading stuff on the Internet that Barack Obama is apologizing for his "mom jeans" that he wore when he threw out the first pitch at the All-Star game on Tuesday. Jeez. In an interview on NBC's "Today Show" that mostly covered serious topics, President Obama acknowledged that he "looked a little frumpy" in his baggy jeans. In his defense, Mr. Obama said that he hates to shop and that "those jeans are comfortable." The President went on to say: "For people who want a president to look great in tight jeans, I'm sorry."
This is what we've come to - picking apart the attire of a guy who is at a baseball game to perform a ceremony. Let's keep our eye on the ball, OK?

Monday, July 20, 2009

40 years ago.

For those of us of a certain age (old) we remember where we were on July 20, 1969. If you have to ask what that date means, you're either too young to have any idea or just not paying attention. For children of the space age like me, the program was standard viewing, and in spite of all the hype surrounding the passing of Walter Cronkite, I was an ABC News kid. Either I liked Jules Bergman or we got better reception on channel 6 than we did channel 10. I think it was the latter.
I was an 11-year old, perched in front of the TV until I got tired enough to give into sleep. I remember my mother yelling down from her bedroom for me to "turn the TV off and go to bed." She failed to grasp the gravity (pun) of the situation. To a kid, it was better than cartoons.
Since we like even numbers, we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of men walking on the moon. We didn't celebrate 39 and probably won't celebrate 41. That would be senseless, right? It's nice, but it's also sad that we went all that way, did it 4 more times and then stopped. Like a child who loves that new toy, tires of it and puts it back in the box.
The point, of course, was to be the first. After that, subsequent missions were anticlimactic, even though we eventually brought a vehicle up there to drive around. How cool was that?
We like being first at stuff, and it ate our collective American hearts out that the Russians were beating us into space. So much so, that President Kennedy told the nation that, before the end of the decade we will land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth. I always thought that somebody reminded him to add the "return him safely to the earth" part. Oh yeah, got to bring them back, right? Although, I wonder how history would have viewed the event if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were stranded on the moon as permanent monuments to America's manned space program?
We spent a lot of money on that program. Billions, I suppose. I remember hearing skeptics saying that we should be spending the money here at home instead of using it to venture into space. Well skeptics, we aren't blasting into space much anymore, and we spend a fraction of what we used to spend, and how are things at home? Right.
The History Channel took a shot at drama tonight. They aired a program called Moonshot, which at times played loose with the facts, but generally was an interesting dramatization of the events leading up to the Apollo 11 mission. It was probably more interesting to people under the age of 50 who might not remember very much.
One fascinating thing was a continual ad for Omega watches, the ones supposedly worn on the moon. At the end of the ad, they promoted a web site: where you are supposed to go to get "further information." What you get is a cheap looking advertising screen full of discount watch retailers, airline flights and houses for sale. The "moon watch" can be had for $270 (regular price $295 - you save $15) plus $15 postage and handling. Of course, the real JFK Library, of course, is
Proving that, regardless of the passage of time, our capability to turn a profit from history is as infinite as the Universe.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A quiet Sunday.

Tom Watson is a couple of months away from being 60 years old (his 61st birthday, but let's not quibble about semantics) and today he had a chance to, as the media folk say, make history. He was the third round leader of The [British] Open at Turnberry. If he won, he'd get that Claret Jug and the undying gratitude of AARP members who own a set of golf clubs. They'd be out at the local club on Monday thinking that they had a chance. Pity.
He lost, of course. He had to. Stuff like that doesn't happen in reality. It happens on television, and the network built the thing up to the point of nausea - thanks Mike Tirico - to where anybody who beat him would be viewed as Lex Luthor. Well, Stewart Cink is Lex Luthor. Check Tirico's seat for a yellow stain.
Television created a monster - as it often does. Since Tiger missed the cut, they fell into a pile of gold with this Tom Watson deal, and they played it for all it was worth. Right up until the end, when ESPNs Rick Reilly, the guy who is supposed to have "perspective" said that it's nice that Cink won, but Watson still gets to go home with the hot wife. What the F is that supposed to mean? Proving that just because network television hires a guy, it doesn't necessarily mean he has perspective. They must have used the word perspective ten times, then went to Reilly, who was supposed to tell us all what we saw and how we were supposed to evaluate it. They try to wrap up the coverage with somebody who is supposed to be able to place the event into a context and convey it to the viewers. Then, we're supposed to say, "Right. I never saw it that way." But Reilly tells us what we already figured out, and for whatever they're paying him, I'd say he's overpaid. Then, Tirico thanks him and says the word perspective a couple of times and kisses his ass - because that's what they pay him to do.
“It was almost,” Watson said. “The dream almost came true.” Yes, it would have been nice, but what it ultimately said was that the old guy eventually gets overtaken and beaten by the younger guy, just like in almost every situation in every walk of life. Face it.
"Almost", for old people, is a win.