Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why watch Return of the Jedi? Again?

Why am I watching Return of the Jedi instead of the tournament?

Why am I asking you about it?

I like basketball plenty, I just haven't found good reasons to watch the tournament in several years. It's just one of those things that, as I get busier, seem to slip to the back of the queue.

In general, I'm just at kind of a low ebb right now. Finding it hard to care too much about a lot of things, so that a 25 year old movie I have seen a dozen times is worth watching, even with commercials. Keeps the thinking to a bare minimum.

Today was a strange day-celebrating my son's 13th birthday, we drove to Rockefeller Center and the Nintendo World store. The Pokemon Platinum game was being released 1 day early at the store, so we decided that would be his birthday thing.

It was an interesting sight. We got there about 10am, which I thought would be moderately ok for an 11am event, but apparently people had been there since 8pm the night before to get places at the front of the line. The line was already a block and a half, and we took our places quickly. The line grew until it was wrapping around the building. So we waited, the Pokemon geeks and the attending Other People, shivering when the sun went behind the buildings, and waited for the store to start selling the game.

By 12 noon, we had made our way through the line and to the front, where my son bought the game with his birthday money. 6 hours of travel and waiting, $62 in parking and tolls, and another Saturday blown pretty much away.

If you need a reason why you shouldn't have kids, that's pretty much it right there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Mediocre Book and A Terrific One

Within the last few days, I have finished James A. Connor's "Pascal's Wager", which was mediocre. No fault of his, I wasn't as interested as I thought. Pascal was a scientist for whom the computer language was named, and may be best known for his wager-he decided there was a God, because if he were wrong, the worst that could happen was he wasted some time on Earth, whereas if he did not believe and were wrong, he would be cast into Hell.

Then I picked up Adam Gopnik's "Angels and Ages", which was sublime. It's a really quick read, a nice little essay on Lincoln and Darwin and what they mean to us today. It would have been just a little bit cooler if I had been reading it closer to their 200th birthday on February 12th. But you can't have everything.

I went to the library in search of David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest", which interested me when it was recently featured on Slate's Audio Book Club. But they didn't have it, so I came home with Michael Crichton's "The Great Train Robbery", which I haven't read in a while, and two Star Trek books. Which is kind of the same.

I'm going to pretend I didn't read that...

First Our Man DP, Dr. Scrappitude, Dustin Pedroia suffers a "rib cage" injury, now Our Man Youk, Kevin Youkilis, Mr. Upon This Rock I Build My Ball Team, has "ankle tendonitis".

Now, both of these injuries could be nothing, or they could be little nagging things that will be gone by Opening Day, or they could be big nagging things that are going to cause multiple DL stints and long, Gobi Desert-ish stretches of offensive incompetence when I will be rooting for people named Chris Carter and Lars Anderson to get hits for my baseball team, or they could be done for the season.

I hate the WBC. Yeah, I know it could have happened during spring training, or carrying a body to a dumpster, or whatever, but until I have games to worry about, I'm going to worry about this.

Now, if Dice K comes back from Team Japan complaining about shoulder soreness, you can contact me on the Ben Franklin Bridge. I'll be the guy jumping off of it.

Hurrah for Grover Cleveland (Alexander)

It's President Grover Cleveland's birthday. Since I don't really care about him, I decided I would rather write about major leaguer and Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander.

Named for the president, and played by future president Ronald Reagan in a movie, Grover Cleveland Alexander was born in 1887 in Elba, Nebraska. Acquired by the Phillies at age 24 in 1911, Alexander won 373 games over his big league career, pitching effectively until 1929. Alexander also drank heavily, and served in World War I in Europe. Alexander had extraordinary control, walking only 1.6 men per nine innings while the league average was 2.7. Alexander played on barnstorming teams and in the minors until he was over fifty years old, dying in 1950 at age 63.

Alexander's single greatest moment was probably the 1926 World Series, where he came on in relief, after having pitched a complete game the day before. He struck out Yankee Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded, then finished the game to give the Cardinals a World Series title. This Series game, memorably, ended with Babe Ruth being caught stealing at second base for the final out.

A quiet man, Alexander has always seemed tinged by sadness to me-as if his wartime experience sent him into a spiral he never came out of. Accounts differ about whether or not his drinking affected his play, but it seems obvious that it must have, to some extent. Picturing the old man still trying to get hitters out at age fifty is kind of pathetic-I can sympathize with a man only knowing how to do one thing.

You Saw A WHAT in my back seat?

(h/t Dvorak Uncensored ( )

Too priceless to summarize. Just read it.

Suffice it to say it involves a, um, adult novelty, and a Nissan Stanza, and a lottery ticket.

Very funny story.

A surprisingly difficult prompt

Thanks to the Imagination Prompt Generator:

10 Things I Am Pessimistic About:

1. My profession. While we make airy claims about improving service, I can smell the inevitable replacement by machines.

2. The economy. I read history because it reminds me that others have lived through troubled times, but at times, it seems like our current situation is a loop of impossible situation on top of impossible situation. Like the villain so tough he kills Superman.

3. The media. Without a thriving media, who knows what the brigands will get away with?

4. My IPod. It is long out of warranty, and I am terribly dependent on it.

5. My state of health. I know I should eat better, and exercise more. I know.

6. My son's future. As screwed up as everything is, I can't imagine it getting anything but worse.

7. The chance my wife will wake up and thinking "what the f(*k is wrong with me? I'm out of here."

8. My job. I am in no way confident they know what they are doing.

9. My life. I thought I would be smarter by now.

10. The thought that I will ever enjoy getting out of bed seems increasingly remote.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ron Silver, RIP

Actor Ron Silver, who starred in one of my favorite movies, "Reversal of Fortune", as well as one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing, is dead at the age of 62. He leaves behind two children and an ex wife.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hey Mom, I'm in Jail!

This is a radio one, but it still ranks as one of the most memorable things I have ever experienced. Controversial radio hosts Opie and Anthony were on the radio in Massachusetts at the time, and in order to give a listener tickets to a concert, they made them play "Hey Mom, I'm in Jail." on Mother's Day. They set up a three way call between the contestant and his mother, along with one of the hosts pretending to be the police. The contestant had to explain to his mother that he was pulled over with a trunk full of marijuana, and the hosts would not relent until the contestant had convinced his mother he was truly in jail.

Painful, but so funny I had to pull over from laughing so hard.

Begged, Borrowed and Stolen

Thanks to Katie ( for the idea and the Imagination Prompt Generator ( for, uh, the idea:

Name Three Reasons Why You Should Get Out Of Bed Tomorrow:

Wiseass Answer: Mastercard, Visa, and American Express

Slightly Less Wiseass Answer: Poverty, Fear, and Habit.

Serious Answer: My son-As much as I gripe about him, I love him to death. My wife-as much as I gripe about her, I love her more than you can imagine. My job-as much as I gripe about it, there are people counting on me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bring Back Public Hanging!

"AIG will pay bonuses totaling $165 million. The money comes from taxpayers, funneled through the multibillion dollar bailout plan, but the president's top advisers and congressional leaders say they can't do anything about it."

That's bankrupt, busted-flat-in-Baton-Rouge-waiting-for-a-train AIG. Yeah, them.
$165 million in bonuses. BONUSES.

"AIG executives made trillions of dollars of bets that subprime mortgages could never go bad. When they tanked, the government felt compelled to prop up the company with $170 billion in taxpayers' funds. Even with the money, AIG recently posted a loss of nearly $62 billion — the largest corporate loss in history."

Never go bad. NEVER go bad. Read that sentence again. Apparently, elevators at AIG only go up. Reminds me of the elevator from the Douglas Adams book-when you tell it you want to go up, it tries to convince you that down is better.

"And, Liddy added, AIG needs to retain the best and brightest talent if it's ever going to pay back the American taxpayers."

I can think of many adjectives to describe the current crop of employees at AIG.
Suffice it to say "best" and "brightest" are not two of those adjectives.