Saturday, May 10, 2008

The End of The Beginning?

Papelbon closes out the 5-2 win.


Game Thirty Nine battles on.....

Behind four home runs and 7 fine innings from the Dice Man, Boston leads Minnesota after 7, 4-2.

The little blue pill that works wonders....

Game 39-Ain't My Bitch

May 10, 2008

Someone has saved a file on this computer called “Is there anybody here does not know where you are”. It’s an empty file, but the words intrigue me. I’m not sure what they mean. It’s missing an article, I think. “Is there anybody here (who) does not know where you are.” I’m not completely sure where I are.

I like K’s recent post about 10 Things. It’s a way of connecting 10 little items, none of which is worth really wasting electrons on. I think it was the late Will McDonough used to call it “Emptying the desk drawer of the sports mind.” It’s probably not his idea originally, but I don’t care. I’ll give him credit for it. Mike Barnicle used to do it, too-in fact, he got in trouble for plagiarizing when he used a George Carlin joke in one of his notes columns.

1. How do people just let their children wander? I know toddlers are annoying-god, I know toddlers are annoying-but dammit, you keep them in sight. If they wander out of your line of sight, you stop whatever you are doing and you go and you get your child and then you go back to whatever you were doing. Nothing you were doing was as important as your child’s safety. I have enormous respect for people who will interrupt business dealings to attend to their children’s needs. That’s what touched me so much about John Edwards’ behavior at the 2004 Democratic Convention-in front of thousands, he was looking at his boy. I’m never going to be a parent again, but this still irritates me.

2. My feet hurt. They hurt pretty much all the time now, all day long. If I’m not working, they feel alright, only hurting a little at the beginning of the day. If I’m working, they hurt all the way through the shift. I can’t help but worry a little bit about this. I don’t thing this is going to change, unless I change jobs, and I’m fairly confident it’s going to get worse.

3. Kobe Bryant is not a poor NBA MVP, but it’s a little bit of, “you probably should have won one by now, so here’s one.” Chris Paul and Kevin Garnett are probably both a little bit more valuable to their teams, as things stand right now. But Kobe is the guy you want on the court when you need a basket, or when you need to stop one.

4. Interesting study cited on the Slate Political Gabfest saying that conservatives are happier than liberals, on average. The research suggests that it is the conservatives who aren't obsessed about fairness, thus giving them less to worry about. That makes sense to me.

5. This is a bear.

6. This is the mess on the floor of the front seat of my car.

7. Game 39-Boston is tied with Minnesota, 1-1 in the fifth. Boston could have won two of the last three games, but Papelbon could not hold the lead in either case. He had some help both times, but it is a worrisome trend.

8. I will always be a baseball fan, but there are times like this, listening to Errol Morris talk about his film on Christopher Lydon's Open Source podcast, that it feels very distant and silly to be concerned about it. One week from tonight, I should be in the stands watching a game after having given my 10 minute talk. I hope it goes well.

9. Boston is playing Cleveland in game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and the Cavs are playing fairly well, leading 30-11 towards the end of the first quarter. That's a little disturbing-Boston hasn't played well on the road in the first round, and eventually they're going to have to beat someone in their building.

10. The Philadelphia Flyers lost the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Without Philadelphia's top defenseman, whose name escapes me, it's going to be a tough row for them to hoe.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Then again, maybe I will stay up... Jonathan Papelbon gives up two ninth inning runs to give Minnesota a 7-6 win. Another sucker punch game, the second in the last three nights. Ouch.

New Billy Joel!

I just learned, while trying to get back on here because of some Google induced madness, that there is a 30th anniversary edition of "The Stranger" coming out with a bonus live show on it-Carnegie Hall 1977. I don't think I need to add that I am SO getting that.

Game Thirty Eight-I'm Tore Down

May 9, 2008

It’s Billy Joel’s birthday today.

A lot of people see him as a schlockmeister-pumping out radio friendly formula pop for the masses. Which he was, at times, to be sure-“An Innocent Man” was an album you could scarcely get away from for a couple of summers, with hit after video laden hit. And I have to admit, as big of a fan as I am, there are a handful of songs, (“She’s Always A Woman”, “Just The Way You Are”, “We Didn’t Start The Fire”), I could go the rest of my life without hearing again.

I have loved Billy Joel’s music since a friend in high school introduced him to me during my sophomore year. I had heard of him, of course-if you were sentient during the 1980s and near a radio or television, you recognized Billy Joel-but something about his harder edged, more emotional stuff touched a chord in my metalhead heart.

Since then, I quickly swallowed and committed to memory everything he had ever recorded-B sides, live tracks, everything. With the advent of the Internet and box sets, this process has become much easier, but my friend and I went to Central Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, back in the day, to find one missing single that he had found in a discography in a cheap photo biography he had bought. It was deeply amusing to me that, subsequent to his tireless efforts to collect all of Billy’s recordings, they were all published in a box set a few winters ago, which I, of course, bought.

If I had to take the recordings of one person or group with me into lifetime solitary confinement, it would without question be Billy Joel. He has turned a bit cranky in his dotage (he’s 59, according to NPR), but he has brought me more joy than nearly any artist I can think of. I raise a rhetorical glass in his honor today. (I don’t drink.)

In the sixth, Boston leads Minnesota, 6-5. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be recapping this one tomorrow, as I am fading fast.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Game Thirty Seven-Back to Normalcy

After the sucker punch of last night, tonight in Detroit, Josh Beckett was dominant, throwing 7 innings of 6 hit ball while Boston used RBIs from Youkilis, Varitek, and Ellsbury to pull off the 3-2 win.

Other than that, I am exhausted, spiritually, mentally, physically, and psychically.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Blowing It

Helped along with an error from Lugo, Papelbon gives up 2 ninth inning runs to hand the game back to Detroit, 10-9. Oh well. Not really one we deserved.

Another day, another day

"Rent" is on FX tonight.

I love Rent to an almost unhealthy degree, although my wife can't get past some of the singers. She knows a lot more about voice than I do, which means she sees (hears) imperfections that I just can't. Maureen's too old, of course, and you could pick on it for a dozen little things. I'd rather just enjoy it. The songs are just too good not to.

In Detroit, Boston scored 1 run in the 8th to take a 9-8 lead. Sounds like Cowboy Clay didn't have it tonight.

Why am I tearing up for songs from a musical I've seen twice and heard a hundred times? This guy was a fucking genius, that's why. Jonathan Larson, wherever you are, God bless you.

Tears streaming down my face, at least I know I can still feel.

Worth the Price of Admission

Brilliance from this month's Esquire:

Chuck Klosterman on the British Olympic Handball Team, who put out a casting call for tall people because they have found that tall people tend to succeed at that sport, and the larger point that all people have abilities, and yet don't know what the hell they should do with their lives. Wouldn't it make more sense for employers to screen for the qualities they want, instead of worthless nonsense like degrees and experience?

And then the indomitable Charles P. Pierce about Barack Obama. Beautifully written. Made me sad with the truth of it. But gorgeous.

The whole issue is well worth your time.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Celtic Pride

Hurrah for the Boston Celtics, who took away a hard fought Game One in the Eastern Semis, 76-72 over Cleveland. It was a real street fight, every possession a battle of wills. Very entertaining game, and, of course, the good guys won.

Game 35: Knuckling Under

This is the book I am currently reading.

This is the Most Important Boy Who Ever Was, eating his First Birthday Cake.

Behind 8 innings of two hit ball from knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and homers from Papi and the Bad Man, Boston blanks Detroit, 5-0.

Another brilliant Bill Moyers Journal this week, when he outlines carefully the silliness of deep textual analysis of Jeremiah Wright while McCain’s Whack A Mole buddies, Hagy, Robertson, and Falwell, get a pass. Also a solemn acknowledgement of the fifth anniversary of Mission Accomplished, and the rogues gallery of idiots , profiteers, and war criminals who brought us this misguided disaster.

Finished “Not Exactly What I Was Expecting”, the book of six word memoirs from the famous and the ordinary. It was brilliant, as I knew it would be. I can’t get over what a good idea it is, and the book is a great, quick read. I’ve never come up with one I was happy with-I sent in one that I cribbed from Kurt Cobain.

“Wrote Without Thinking, Thought Without Writing”, maybe.
Or “Soulless corporate drone dreams of prose”.

Also finished that book on the 1973 baseball season with the long title that I can’t recall, along with “Ball Four” for probably the 20th time, recently. Now reading “Absolute War”, a look at the Soviet side of World War II.

Now listening to Jhumpa Lahiri on NPR’s Book Tour. I loved her first two books, but this one is all short stories again, so I’m kind of not in the mood for it. Not right now. She, along with so many others, just depresses me with her brilliant, crystalline prose.

I actually went ahead and cancelled my XM. It’s a fine service-there’s nothing wrong with them, just getting a signal is such a pain. That’s $20 something a month I can do something else with. This will free up some time, as well, as I’ll just have to catch the Sox whenever they pop up on TV, and otherwise just follow them by box score and summary. Kind of old fashionedish-back in the day, I used to tell myself I would cut out each box score from the newspaper and paste it into a scrapbook, but I was never disciplined enough.

I have been blogging every single day, which I promised myself before I was going to do and never did. So that’s something. It would be something else if I were any good, or had something to say. That would be nice.

I can’t help but feel like, on some level, this is just whining. Whining and whining and whining.

The Morning After

Big Papi hit a homer to stretch the lead to 6-3 last night, after I went to bed, then the narrow eyed Valentino of the mound, Jonathan "Riverdance" Papelbon, put 'em away for yet another win.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Game 34: Hey, hey, hey, it's the Detroit Sheffield

In the Motor City, Boston leads 2-0 in the bottom of the second after a 2 run homer from Mike Lowell. Matsuzaka against Bonderman.

Dice K is walking people, still, but so far it hasn't hurt him.

Detroit, who are not the weak sister that got stomped right out of the gate, are shaking up their roster, sending down Jacque Jones, who until recently was a major league player, and sending Gary Sheffield out to play the field. They are 14-18, which isn't very good until you consider that they dropped their first seven games of the season.

Very curious sequence of pitches from Bonderman to the Bad Man-slider strike, slider strike, then missed with three fastballs, then a hanging slider that Manny hit 410 feet to dead center. Pitchers in general have to try not to nibble so much-he got two strikes then got scared. In Fenway, that would have been up on the wall for a long double.

Bonus points if you know what song inspired the title for this post.

Two more walks for the Dice Man-stranded when Magglio strikes out and then Cabrera flies out. As Bob Ryan put it at one point, What's Japanese for "Trust Your Stuff"?

My IPod is acting funny. I'm going to be really upset if it quits on me. Like with cell phones, I have gone from mocking people who have them to someone who can't imagine living without them.

Now listening: "High Flying Adored", Evita

"The Fall of Saigon", Miss Saigon

When I went to see Miss Saigon on Broadway, my car broke down and I had to drive home on 3 cylinders, truly a harrowing experience. It was one of the times I allowed external factors to cloud what should have been an exciting experience.

In the fourth, Mike Lowell doubles, and then Kevin Youkilis homers to left for a 4-0 Boston lead.

"I've Loved These Days", Movin Out

Three songs from musicals in a row. I know random is random, I know. I just find the algorithm curious. I get patterns that seem impossible. Multiple songs by the same artist, or song after song without hearing an artist that it seems like should come up more.

"At My Most Beautiful", REM

"From Hank to Hendrix", Neil Young

A song that I don't mind, but that seems to come up, according to my faulty human reasoning, more than I think it should. A song, also, that cuts off after 1:41, I just discovered. A recording issue, obviously, that I will have to go and remedy.

"Rebels", Tom Petty
"Road Runner", Backbeat

A criminally unrecognized album. In conjunction with the release of the movie "Backbeat", about the young Beatles, a bunch of young (at the time) musicians from the punk and alternative worlds cut an album of the songs the Beatles were playing at that time-50s R and B covers-in the fast, intense way they would have played them in those German nightspots. Brilliant.

"Malted Milk", Eric Clapton

Dice K walks two more in the 4th, but finally pays for it, Granderson singling to center (their first hit!) to score the first run of the game. But Dice K escapes the jam with only one run.

"It's Your World Now", Eagles
"Love Is Blindness", U2

I thought all of these albums through this period got underrated-Rattle and Hum, then Achtung Baby and Zooropa. I loved them all, yet some people and critics hated them. They were wierd, and definitely different, but I thought they were brilliant.

Love is blindness, indeed.

"Air", Movin Out

That's what I'm talking about-two songs, out of almost 3000, from out of the same 12 or 15 on the soundtrack album?

"Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of", U2

Great story on 60 Minutes about the Tillman family and how angry they are about the handling of Pat Tillman's death. Of course, there is the usual incompetence and madness that you always get in stories like this, but the overwhelming feeling for me is similar to the feeling I'm getting from my employer. When everyone knows what they want to hear, and the people who give them what they don't want to hear get disposed of, you don't HAVE to order people to lie, they'll just do it.

"Every Day", Les Miserables
"Spectacle", Velvet Revolver

'Ol Sleepyhead, Craig Hansen, is warming up for Boston, along with Julian Tavarez, who, according to the announcers, hasn't pitched in 2 weeks. That's both good and bad-the guy's got to get a little work. But then again, any game that Julian Tavarez is pitching in might not be one you win.

"One", Metallica

Dice K struggles again in the fifth, allowing another hit and another walk (his 8th!) but retires the side.

I have to think he's done at this point.

The drumming for the final movement of "One" is one of the most amazingly intense sequences of music. Incredibly fast, but still melodic and compelling.

This song is 21 years old.

"Only The Good Die Young" (Live), Billy Joel
"Wake Up Little Susie" (Live), Simon and Garfunkel

How ashamed am I of the fact that this album was the first time I had heard this song?

"Margaritaville", Jimmy Buffett

Cliched, I know. But I still love him. Not in that Parrothead Get Drunk kind of crazy way-I just think he's a great songwriter.

"Dont Let The Sun Go Down On Me", George Michael and Elton John

"No Other Way", Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney has written a lot of songs. A LOT of songs.

"Manic Depression", Jimi Hendrix

Detroit has a kid pitching for them, Clay Rapada, who has a real funky lefty delivery, with a high kick and a kind of arms and legs, left handed Kent Tekulve lurch.

But Boston wastes no time, Pedroia doubling into the gap with one out, then Ortiz singling him home. 5-1 Boston.

"Born in The USA" (Live), Bruce Springsteen

Live 1975-85 was the second Springsteen album I bought, after Born in the USA, of course. That meant it was the first time I heard some great songs, like "Rosalita" and "Its Hard To Be a Saint In The City". I dont think I heard them on classic rock radio back then. But I could be wrong.

Bruce Springsteen has spoken about the Church of Rock N Roll, the notion of the concert being like a revival tent, bringing the gospel to the people. I have never been to a Springsteen show, and indeed I haven't been to a concert since I got married in 1994, but I love that idea.

"Yesterday" (Live), Paul McCartney

"(Dont Go Back To) Rockville", REM

"Falling of the Rain", Billy Joel

Any sociopaths like Hillary Clinton or John McCain who want to go around advocating that nuclear weapons are an acceptable solution or response to anything at all should look at these photographs, new pictures of Hiroshima, and feel ashamed of themselves.

"Aint My Bitch", Metallica

Bottom of the 7th, and Trouble Rears Its Ugly Head , as Sleepyhead allowed a single, a walk, and now another walk, loading the bases with two out.

Now its Okeydoke, facing Marcus Thames with bases loaded, two out.

"I'm Not Sleeping" (Live), Counting Crows

Before I can even finish typing that, Thames singles to left, scoring 2 runs. 5-3 Boston.

Renteria flies out to end the inning, but this game is a lot tighter than I'd like it to be.

Lots of things are not as I'd like them to be.

"Finale", Miss Saigon

The Arrow of Time

This is an arrow.

Reminds me of the old Mitch Hedberg routine.

"If you got killed by an arrow, they'd never solve the crime. 'Hey, look at that dead guy....Let's go that way.'"

I was wrong-tonight's Red Sox game is IN Detroit, not at home.

I have to give it up for the Philadelphia Flyers, who have stunningly made the Eastern Conference Finals. I think they are going to get hammered-Pittsburgh is faster and more skilled than they are-but they are to be congratulated for getting that far.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Future vs.The Past

The title links to Will Leitch's cogent, rational response to the verbal assault he suffered from Buzz Bissinger on HBO a little while back.

Bissinger, like many in the MSM, has an irrational fear and hatred of bloggers and blogging. He feels his bailiwick fading away, so he strikes out against those he feels are attacking him.

The thing is, it's just a flight to quality. The Internet is self correcting-if a major blogger says something, and it is factually incorrect, he gets called on it. Usually soon.

Bissinger hates that. The media isnt used to getting called on things. Well guess what? Those days are over. Write, by all means-keep writing. But if you make a factual error, you can't run and hide behind your institution any more. You're going to get called on it.

Poor baby.

Similar problems occur in retailing. They focus on the wrong things, cut the wrong things, don't understand what people really want.

It gets exhausting waiting for the dinosaurs to die.

BTW, Boston hangs on to win 7-3. We welcome the resurgent Tigers tomorrow.

Good Day To Be A Bostonian(Game 33/Game 7)

The Boston Celtics are humiliating the Atlanta Hawks, beating them 99-65 in Game Seven of the first round in the NBA playoffs.

Meanwhile, at Fenway, Jon Lester is giving Boston another fine pitching performance, leading 4-0 against Scott Kazmir, who is a fine pitcher, making his 2008 debut.

So far, this weekend, I finished "American Brutus", a long, detailed account of Lincoln's assassination, "The Best Sportswriting of Pat Jordan", which was excellent, and "Ball Four", which I have probably read a dozen times. I couldn't find my copy, so I bought a new, updated one. I'm now working on "Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid".

Watching Kevin Garnett play basketball gives me the same safe, comforting feeling I used to get watching Larry Bird. Not that they play anything alike, only that, as a fan, you feel like "nothing can go wrong now, the Big Guy's here." Garnett plays with infectious, angry passion- defending actively and directing his mates with a confidence that must drive opponents nuts.

The Jazz are playing the Lakers on TV now. An assortment of strong players and personalities on both teams-Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant for LA, and Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, and Carlos Boozer for Utah.

Carlos Pena hits a solo home run to right to cut Boston's lead to 4-1 after 5 1/2.

I wish I had something profound to say, but I really don't.

There is a big company meeting on Thursday, and on Wednesday they want to have a meeting of all the people who aren't going to the big meeting so they can gather comments and such from the riffraff. Now, I am nothing if not riffraff, but I am not going to go. I know enough to know that they don't really want to know what I think, they want me to tell them that everything they do is just the wisest, smartest, coolest thing ever.

And I'm too old to lie like that.

That's one of the reasons why American business is so mind numbingly stupid. They preach openness and diversity, but what they really want is narrowness and greed. I've learned my lesson-ask too many questions and you start to get the feeling you'd be better off somewhere else.

As I keep saying on here, it is much, much easier to pretend that you care about customers than to actually do it.