Saturday, June 27, 2009

Game Seventy Four: How Hot Do You Want It?

The answer, of course, is red hot.

The red hot Red Sox beat old friend Javier Vazquez, whom we seem able to beat whatever hat he wears,and the Bravos 1-0 on a RBI single by Professional Hitter Mark Kotsay in the sixth inning. All those lovely zeroes were provided by the firm of Wakefield, Delcarmen, Masterson, and Papelbon, A$$kickers at law.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Game Seventy Three: Red Hot in Hotlanta

In Atlanta tonight, Josh Beckett threw a wet blanket on Atlanta's hopes of victory, throttling them with seven shutout innings on the way to a 4-1 win.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Game Seventy Two: This is not the debut I ordered!

At Nationals Park tonight, the Washington Nationals greeted John Smoltz quite rudely in his 2009 debut, getting four first inning runs on the way to a 9-3 pasting of the Red Sox tonight.


I don’t care how many times you ask me, I don’t know what you need unless you tell me. Telling me that you just want the things that you need doesn’t help either.


Top Five Most Oddly Useful Movie Phrases:

1.“Well, then I’ll see you in Hell!”-Harrison Ford, The Empire Strikes Back
2.“I don’t have to hold hands with him on the way down.”-Tom Cruise, A Few Good Men
3.“ I hope you were the groom”- Brad Pitt, Ocean’s Eleven
4.“Is there someone else up there I can talk to?”-Graham Chapman, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
5.“Our ideas were better.”-Kathy Bates, Primary Colors


Is it really necessary to remind me, via two separate crappy cover versions of an Isley Brothers song, for my employers to remind me that I have work to do?


According to bypassers, singer Michael Jackson, certainly one of the most significant musical artists of the last 25 years, has died. I was not a fan by any means, but he was clearly, in the history of pop music, one of the giants. The fact that he later became a world class flake does not alter his significance.


One is tempted (well, I am, anyway, ) to mock Governor Mark Sanford, yet another stuffed shirt, holier than thou politician, all too willing to delight and crow at the failings of others, then brought low by his own extramarital affair. A very good book I once read said, “Judge not-lest ye be judged,” so I will refrain from exulting too much.

Two points come to mind, though-

1.It seems incredibly irresponsible for no one to be able to reach you, if you are the governor. Randy Pausch, in his book “The Final Lecture”, described how he dealt with the issue on his honeymoon. He left a number where he could be reached with his inlaws, and told his colleagues to call his in laws if they needed to reach him. If they could convince his inlaws that their call was so important as to interrupt their daughter’s honeymoon, they would pass on the message. I can respect his need to get away-I can even understand his need to get away from his family for a little while. But it seems like it’s your duty, as the sovereign officer of a state, to leave word where you can be reached. It’s simple-buy a $20.00 throwaway phone, give the number to the lieutenant governor, and tell him, “I’m going to go away for a little while, to clear my head, and I don’t want to tell anyone where I’m headed. If something is so earth shatteringly important that you HAVE to talk to me, call this number. Otherwise, I’ll see you next Wednesday.”
2.It is, of course, breathtakingly hypocritical to criticize others for extramarital affairs, and then have one’s own. I have several advantages on this front-I am married to the perfect woman, someone who would, without a doubt, thrash me to within a quarter inch of my life if I ever had an affair, and in addition, I am unattractive beyond the powers of words to describe. So I haven’t exactly faced this exact moral dilemma in my own life.


Another deeply stimulating Dan Carlin’s Common Sense this week. ( Carlin’s monologue was about the deeply depressing and horribly prevalent topic of political corruption. Carlin made a point that I honestly had never considered before-a Senator or Congressman who makes a decision that affects the economic future of one of his or her contributors has a conflict of interest. No judge would dare rule on a case that they had a stake in-or at least, they shouldn’t. I don’t know how you fix that, (how do you make a rule about what Congressmen can vote on? And don’t you disenfranchise that Congressman’s constituents if you say he or she can’t vote on, say, health care reform?) and neither does Dan, but it’s fascinating to think about.

Every time I start mulling about campaign finance laws, (like you do)(h/t @erikjfisher and @wbrshow)( ), I always run headlong into the same trap-Buckley vs. Valeo, a Supreme Court case that says , in politics, that money is speech. It is unconstitutional to restrict speech, outside of certain very broad outlines. But without restrictions on contributions, you have a Congress that is bought and paid for. But you can’t restrict speech….and on, and on, and on.

And then my head explodes.

Once again, I recommend Dan heartily. It’s free, it’s thought provoking, and it’s, uh, free.


Game Seventy One: These Games COUNT?

The Red Sox made fairly short work of the Nationals tonight, home runs from Jason Varitek and David Ortiz powering a 6-4 win in Washington. Jon Lester looked like his old self again, tossing 6 fine, workmanlike innings, and when a little uprising against Bat Masterson got a little out of hand, it was time for the Okey Doke and the Lord of the Dance to lock it down.

After one more game against the Zombie Expos (h/t Bill Simmons) tomorrow, featuring the 2009 debut of Secret Weapon(TM) John Smoltz, it's on to Hotlanta to play the pesky Bravos again, and then back into Charm City for three regular 'ol normal games against the Orioles. The third of which is scheduled for (holy schnikes!) July 1st.

It's nearly July, everyone. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Game Seventy: Operation Interleague Continues

The Red Sox continued their odyssey in the Nation's Capital, where they took on the truly awful Washington Nationals. Actually tied at 3 through 7 innings, the Red Sox busted the door down with 1 in the 7th and 6 in the 8th to push out to an 11-3 win.

Why Men Suck

Sandra Tsing Loh, essayist/humorist, has an polemic disguised as a book review/essay in the July/August issue of The Atlantic. (A lot of slashes in that sentence.) I actually had the issue in my “Stuff You Need To Get To” pile, but I was alerted to Tsing Loh’s essay on one of the Slate Gabfests. So, several days later, I actually pulled it out and read it today. I’ve always enjoyed her work on Public Radio International’s “Marketplace”-she would do a weekly, loosely financial commentary on the week’s news called, predictably, The Loh Down.

Hoo boy.

Girlfriend’s a little bit ticked off.

First of all, as the Gabfesters pointed out, memo to The Atlantic-if you need or want or plan to give a writer an assignment to consider a pile of relationship books and make a statement, such as it is, about men and women and the state of the relationships thereto- could you not give it to the woman in the middle of a divorce? Thanks.

(I should mention that Tsing Loh is up front about her divorce-she mentions it in her very first sentence. So at least there’s that. She was still, in my opinion, the wrong person to write this.)

So she begins her piece by alluding to her own divorce, and bringing out the standard list of mommy complaints that you can read in a dozen other magazines and books-life is too busy, I’m harried, I have to do my job and do all this other stuff and there’s never enough time and blah blah blah, blah blah blah. Now, obviously, she isn’t making this up-anyone with children can sing you this same tale. (I do resent the automatic female tilt these rants get. Men do this work, too, or they should, and yes, we worry about it-does our kid have friends? Is our family normal? Do we need more play time? Less TV?. We just don’t TALK about how much we worry about it.)

Tsing Loh then admits, frankly, that she doesn’t have the energy to do the work to save her relationship. I can sympathize, to an extent. We all have trouble finding this energy. But really? You’re just going to throw it away, because you’re tired? Who among us isn’t?

She progresses to ask, essentially, why do people get married?

She describes, in the course of mentioning the books that the article is purportedly about, the contradictions about marriage-nearly half of all marriages don’t last, yet we keep doing it-America worships freedom, yet looks down on people who exercise it by getting divorced-and more of the difficulties-it’s hard to arrange a date night when you have kids. Again, I can sympathize-it’s all true. Tsing Loh’s sense of defeat is palpable-in nearly every sentence, you hear her murmur-why bother?

She then chronicles a Girl’s Night Out dinner with some of her fortysomething friends-one contemplating divorce, one seemingly headed there, and one still a swinging single-and the revelation that, along with Tsing Loh, a second member of the crew is considering the Big D. She unfolds the complaints of the other women at the table, then slides into a pseudoscientific, made-for-Glamour-magazine accounting of the supposed four personality types, here called Explorers, Builders, Directors, and Negotiators.

Of course, this is a hit job-we don’t hear from Tsing Loh’s, or the friend’s, husband about their grievances. And this is really what gets my goat about the whole essay. Not that I expected her to include her husband’s perspective-I can’t see how that would end well-but her thesis seems to be along the lines of Homer Simpson’s-trying is the first step towards failing, so don’t try. I am sure she has felt disaffected, ignored, left behind, unappreciated. So have I. So have all married people. Maybe it is indeed best that they split up. I don’t know.

But I can’t believe that she was allowed, or even willing, to write this piece given what she is going through. For years, the battle of the sexes raged over equality-women wanted the same chance to earn and share child rearing with men. Now that this goal is not achieved, but at least closer to being achieved, men read from women like Tsing Loh that this still isn’t enough. Living life-raising kids, keeping appointments, changing the oil in the car, running a household-is really, really hard-for everybody. My life is continually filled with the feeling that I don’t know what is going on. Articles like this certainly don’t help.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Game 69: Insert Suggestive Title Here

Timmeh battled young Mr. Jurrjens, easily the best Jurrjens to play major league baseball, to a near draw, taking a 4-2 lead into the seventh. However, the Braves rudely rallied to tie the game at 4, and then again at 5, before your friend and mine, Nick Green, the infielder without portfolio, homered to right off of the immortal Jeff Bennett to win the game 6-5.

Feeling Gravity's Pull

Amazing “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” ( ) about what they call the “We Generation”-social media and online culture. One of the segments was about, which apparently gathers sentences that contain the verb “feel” from English language blogs around the world, thus indexing, in a sense, how we feel.
Or something like that.

It mostly makes me feel old. I am finally starting to feel like the world is passing me by, that my generation, whoever that is, is handing over the reins to people younger than I. I have a terrible ability to judge ages based on appearance, and I find myself regularly encountering very successful people-certainly more successful than I-who are younger, and at times quite a bit younger, much smarter and better looking-than I am. I can’t call them my peer group any more.

I don’t feel good about this. I was never Mr. Zeitgeist, exactly, but I used to think I had a handle on things culturally. I don’t know who anyone is anymore, or what the running jokes are, or what anything is. I feel obsolescent.

There is a natural reaction to this, I think-the kids saying, “get out of the way, old man.” It’s an intimation of mortality. I feel like I have something to contribute, but I can do the math, and I’m starting to see that I won’t. There was a beautiful passage I read to that effect somewhere-when you reach the age when you realize you’re never going to write that book.

I guess they might as well run the world, because we didn’t exactly do a bang up job of it. As Kurt Vonnegut wrote, my message to the future is that I’m very sorry.


It’s Father’s Day.

I, of course, like a lot of people, am a father and have a father. One of the cards I bought this year says “You know why Father’s Day is in June? A month after Mother’s Day, someone said, ‘hey, wait a minute…’”. I think that’s a greeting card, but I also think that it is true to some extent. Father’s Day feels a little tacked on, like a lot of holidays these days. In my narrow, solipsistic view, any day that I have to work isn’t a real holiday, of course.

I feel like a fraud on Father’s Day. I am one, of course. (Unless my wife has some explaining to do.) As my son gets older, I bleed with sympathy over what my father went through-young teenagers are impossible, and I know full well it’s not going to get better anytime soon. I really understand more than ever how hard parenthood is, and any errors my parents made are utterly forgiven.

It’s a terribly unfair thing to say, because the truth of a statement does not depend on the reputation of the speaker, but I really am starting to think that non parents have no right to enter into this discussion. I thought I knew, too-but you don’t know, until you have children. You really don’t know anything about it.

I see some of my less than desirable qualities in my own son, and I just want to apologize to both of them, my son and my father, over and over again. I don’t feel worthy of even this half baked fraud of a holiday.

I won’t, of course. We’re men. Northeastern Yankees (in the “person from the Northeast” sense, not the “baseball team from the Bronx” sense-just to be clear), at that. We don’t do that. It isn’t done.


The Slate Audio Book Club discussed John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, which, I think, is a first for them-discussing short stories instead of novels. (The motivating factor seems to be new biographies of each coming out recently.) It’s nice to hear smart people talking about smart things.

I bought the big Cheever book of short stories, the one with the red cover, along with a volume of his diaries, in college. I enjoyed them, but I don’t think I finished the book of stories. I have it somewhere still, I’m pretty sure. I don’t think I own any O’Connor, except maybe in a collection. I took a short story course in college, and I have to assume O’Connor was in there. I remember writing a paper on John Updike’s “A + P” in that class, and the teacher was impressed that I went outside the assigned reading.

I think the Cheever biography may be worth reading. Maybe I should get out some O’Connor the next time I go to the library, too.


“Oh, darling-
When you told me-
You didn’t need me anymore-
Well you know, I nearly broke down and died-“

-The Beatles,
“Oh! Darling”

Someone knows what I mean by that.


I finally discovered what “Shuffle Albums” means on my IPod. Apparently it does just that-finds a new album, then plays the whole thing. I don’t know what I thought it did, but I think I like this better than “Shuffle Songs”. First was “Abbey Road”, because it is first alphabetically, and the first thing I click on after choosing the Safe For Work playlist is usually “Come Together”, now it is Elton John’s “Duets”.

That, of course, has the George Michael/Elton version of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” which has been included on a number of albums. I could care less, though-I think it’s gorgeous, even not being necessarily a George Michael fan. I used to date someone who was, back in the day. Which, as regular readers will know, and as Dane Cook taught us all, was a Wednesday.

Now it’s Elton’s “The One”, which tells me I must have deleted several tracks from “Duets”, since I know it was longer than 3 songs. I’ll have to go investigate that. Maybe I was too hard on some of those songs. I believe this has “Runaway Train,” which is a favorite of mine. I used to work at a place where the muzak was so cool, that song would play.


“Trying to get a grip on my life again-
I feel it’s harder than a runaway train-“

Elton John
“Runaway Train”

…followed by an Eric Clapton guitar solo that sounds like an Eric Clapton guitar solo always sounds. What a gorgeous song.


Now it’s REM’s “And I Feel Fine”, the “More Greatest Hits” collection from the first part of their career.

Can Carry The Weight of The World”

-REM, “Talk About The Passion”

Somebody also knows what that means. Or they should.


Now it’s “The Best of The Talking Heads”.

My physiology teacher in college was a Talking Heads fan. In unrelated news, I had a crush on her.