Thursday, December 20, 2007


Another bizarre ending to an NBA game. Lakers at Cavs, less than 10 seconds left. Cavs lead 92-90. Kobe Bryant misses a three, which bounds out near the foul line. Cleveland's Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and LA's Derek Fisher go for the ball, which Fisher grabs with both hands. Gibson falls down, and Fisher is charged with a foul. Gibson makes two free throws, and the Lakers lose. By what stretch of the imagination is that a foul? As long as Fisher doesn't punch Gibson in the face, both players are entitled to the ball! It's this kind of thing that would make my head explode if I were a coach.

The Pass

December 20, 2007

I’ve been doing some reading about Clemens and the steroid thing, and it’s getting harder and harder to think he was innocent.
Like Bonds, there’s no proof he did anything, just the word of a guy out to save his own skin. Like Bonds, he put up unreal, historically good numbers at extremely advanced ages. Like Bonds, he went through unbelievable physical changes, going from a relatively thin, athletic youngster to a huge veteran, rippling with muscles. (And yes, we all changed over the years 1986-2006. But not like that.)

And now apparently Andy Pettitte has confirmed McNamee’s story, as far as it goes, with regard to himself. So are we to believe that McNamee is lying about Clemens and telling the truth about Pettitte?

And Curt Schilling, even if he does support John McCain, had an excellent point on his blog-if Schilling’s name were on that list, he says he would have been on the phone to his attorneys, demanding that they sue. Bonds hasn’t sued about Game of Shadows, and Clemens hasn’t sued about the Mitchell Report. That gives them a ring of truth. It’s the OJ thing again-if the mother of your children is viciously slaughtered, you present yourself at the police station the next morning, demanding that they pursue the killers. Easy for us to say, but if you truly are innocent, it seems to me you say so. Loudly. Every bloody chance you get. Especially if you are facing a Pete Rose-ish fade out where your significant accomplishments become overshadowed by your misdeeds to the point where we have to remind ourselves how good of a player you were. I have no trouble remembering how good Walter Johnson and Cy Young were.
Of course, we don’t know what effect these drugs have, not at all. But it seems somewhat silly, at the very least, to see a guy go from barely 200 wins and washed up to 356 and the greatest pitcher ever, pitching amazingly well, far better than anyone his age has pitched, and not think something is going on.

Marketplace just did a report on Spa-Dee-Dah, a chain of beauty salons that specialize in manicures, pedicures, and facials for kids. In Los Angeles. Go figure.
S.T.F.U., as my wife would put it.

James “Cool Papa” Bell is this week’s “Baseball History” podcast biography. What a great, great story and a great, great player. I wonder if anyone has ever done a book length biography of him? Ernie Lombardi needs one, too.

Now Listening, Rush, “The Pass”

God, this song used to mean SO MUCH to me.
“Straining on invisible chains…”
Is it pathetic to continually Google the same old girlfriend, hoping against hope that….what? What am I hoping? What the hell would I even say to her? What would I have to offer? It’s not like I’m about to leave my wife. What the hell do I want? What am I trying to accomplish?
“The act of a noble warrior/
Who’s lost the will to fight…”
“Don’t turn your back and slam the door on me…”

Talking about music truly is like dancing about architecture.

Listening: The Beatles, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”

Listening: The Eagles, "New York Minute" (Live)

"You better take a fool's advice/
Take care of your own/
'Cause one day they're here/
The next day they're gone."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Celtic Pride

A really good Pistons-Celtics game tonight. Trailing 85-79, Boston gets a 3 pointer from Eddie House and a sideline fallaway one from Ray Allen to tie the score. They get a stop when Chauncey Billups turns it over in the lane with 5 seconds to go, but then Paul Pierce gets mugged on a drive, no call, and the Celtics turn it over again. Billups gets fouled by Tony Allen with 0.1 seconds left-a simple pump fake, and Allen is in the air, falling into Billups. Billups made both free throws. That illustrates an irritating thing about the NBA-the same rule is rigorously enforced one minute, then ignored the next. It would be impossible, of course, to call the rule book literally, but it makes it maddening, as a fan, to see a guy get clobbered and there is a no call.


Listening: "Badlands", Bruce Springsteen

I have always loved Springsteen's idea about the Church of Rock and Roll. I've never seen him live, and I'm not sure I will ever get the chance at this point, but that idea of the music as salvation and the concert as the rite of purification has always resounded with me powerfully.

"It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive..."

I unintentionally learned that Jamie Lynn Spears, a 16 year old actress on Nickelodeon's Zoey 101 television show, not to mention the younger sister of human calamity Britney Spears, is pregnant.

Listening: "No Speak No Slave", Black Crowes

The Black Crowes seemed to get the Rock and Roll Church thing when they named their second album after a hymnal.

Most of the poorly punctuated commentary about the Spears situation seems to lament the situation, which I think any sensible person would, or blame her 19 year old boyfriend, going so far as to accuse him of rape, because, of course, a 15 or 16 year old girl can't possibly consent to sex. 

No one would suggest that her pregnancy was a good or wise thing-she herself would probably agree to that. She's now a mother to be with limited future earnings (you think Nickelodeon is going to touch her with a ten foot pole now?) and a father with no discernible skills. You can even argue that her pregnancy argues that she was not capable of fully weighing the pros and cons. But to accuse this man of rape goes quite a bit beyond the pale. If I were 19 years old, and a girl who looked like Ms. Spears came on to me, I would have done whatever she said. And any other honest man would say the same. It's something that American culture doesn't want us to say, but that doesn't make it untrue.

In fact, in retrospect, when I was 19 years old, if I recall correctly, I was involved with a girl who was younger than I was as well. And like this poor chap, I did what I was told to do as well. I didn't get her pregnant, but I certainly could have, shall we say.

The Great Chipmunk

Josh Wilker has another couple of amazing posts up at

Listening: "Duets for One", Elton John

"He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a good deal more than that. In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought-frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of fundamental decenciesis parcelled out unequally at birth."

That's the third paragraph of The Great Gatsby. Someone (Kerouac?) wrote that they used to type pages of the classics, in order to feel what it felt like to write sentences like that. It does develop a rhythm of sorts, typing that kind of prose out.

I look at it and marvel at some of the constructions, every word seemingly exactly where it belongs. "A hostile levity", "intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon", "secret griefs of wild, unknown men"-you know exactly what he means. God, he was good. 

I went to see Alvin and the Chipmunks today. It was cute enough. David Cross was pretty good as the villain.


December 18, 2007

Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes, author of “The Scandalous Gospel”:

If you’re going to Chicago, you buy a map that shows you the way. You don’t then worship and celebrate the map. Similarly, Scripture is the route to the Good News-not the Good News itself.

“We live in a world that values Jesus but doesn’t value what he had to say.”

“The question is not ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, but ‘What Would Jesus Have Me Do?’”

“The difference between hope and optimism is that the optimist has nothing to stand on when things do not go right. Christians have hope-the ability to stand against evil, because they have something to depend on when things have not gone as planned.”

Wow. He’s a great, brilliant speaker that I heard on NPR’s “Book Tour” podcast.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stop The Bastards

Apparently, Chris Dodd is taking to the Senate floor tomorrow to try to filibuster a bill that grants immunity to telecom companies for their allowing the government to tap phones and read emails without a warrant.

If I were he, I would simply read the Fourth Amendment, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," and read it over, and over, and over again, until they get it.

Hammer of Justice Crushes You

December 14, 2007
The Diamondbacks have apparently traded for Oakland’s Dan Haren, while sending Jose (Salsa) Valverde to Houston. That’s pretty big news, as Haren has a big upside and may perform pretty well with Chris Young running down those fly balls for him in the desert.

December 15, 2007
Mindblowing concept from Dan Carlin of Hardcore History: Isn’t it true that every civilization, throughout history, believes that they are the final stage of human evolution?

December 16, 2007
If I am among the MOST positive people at my company, we are in deep fucking trouble. Everybody I talk to lately is pretty pissy. Except Cousin Simon, who is also pissy, but he really can't help it. He's a baby.

It's good that babies are cute. As Steven Wright once wisely put it, "All my friends are having babies. I have lots of friends. Babies don't have any friends."

I look at him sometimes, with those huge eyes, and wonder if he knows, on some level, how fucking completely clueless I am.

It's good that he's probably just trying to think of new ways to drool on me.