Saturday, July 11, 2009

Game 87: Will someone please shake Justin Masterson for me?

The Red Sox jumped all over the Royales and starter Gil "Ga" Meche, who has turned into Gil Meche again after imitating Bret Saberhagen last year, scoring 9 big runs over the first four innings. John Smoltz, who pitched like John Smoltz instead of Steve Avery for once, got his five innings of work in, then punched out after a job adequately done.

However, the Boston bullpen again was lit up again. Bat Masterson, who has been getting rung like a bell, got knocked around, and suddenly, it's 9-7. Boston scored 3 in the 7th and 8th, though, averting disaster thanks to RBIs from Nick Green, Infielder Without Portfolio, and Our Man Youk.

Happy Birthday, Richie Sambora

I remember driving around playing the cassette single of this song, which had the studio version, a live version, and an acoustic version, over and over again.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the (BANG!) (ZOOM!) (POW!)

So I went to see Transformers 2 today.

Don't judge me.

Right off the top, I am not by any means a critical moviegoer. Comic Janeane Garofalo, when talking about the early years of the TV show "er", once commented that, although she knew she was being manipulated, she didn't really care-"I'm not made of stone, here, people!" I have been favorably disposed towards just about every movie I've ever seen-and you're talking to someone who, in the same lifetime, spent American money to go see "Buckaroo Banzai", "Time Bandits", "Hudson Hawk", and "Meet Dave".

Even given that fact, I was prepared for some eye rolling moments. Comic Doug Benson (@dougbenson on Twitter), who does a podcast called "I Love Movies", was, I'm pretty sure, the person who came up with the following capsule review: Was Michael Bay molested by an explosion as a child?

But really, are you expecting much? It's Transformers. It's a movie based on a toy. It's pretty much unreviewable-anything negative you say about it, it's Transformers, for pity's sake. This isn't Chekhov we're dealing with. Similar to Darth Vader spinning out of control at the end of Star Wars, you knew 30 seconds after the first one ended that there would be a second one.

First item: Megan Fox. Hubba hubba.

Second item: The graphics were spectacular, of course. Things are exploding everywhere.

Third item: The plot? Eh. Of course, they left some wide open holes in the first so there would be a second, but at the same time, there are some gaping holes in this one, too. Major suspension of disbelief problems.

Overall, what did I expect? It banged, it zoomed, it crashed. You tear up at the appropriate moments, and you're done. A perfectly acceptable way to spend 2 or so hours. But not exactly The Cherry Orchard.

(Probably the most exciting part was a preview for M.Night Shamalayan, whom my wife and I call Shammalammadingdong, who is doing a live action movie version of the Nickelodeon cartoon "Avatar: The Last Airbender". It is a surprisingly engrossing comic bookish story about a preteen boy who is a Dalai Lama-like figure, gifted with the power to manipulate elements like fire, water, earth, and air.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Game 86: And everybody knew you didn't give no lip to Big Jon

At Fenway tonight, big Jon Lester stood on the wall and said nobody was going to hurt us tonight, not on his watch. Throwing 115 pitches, Jon Lester threw 8 shutout frames, handing it off to the Lord of the Dance to make Dustin Pedroia's 6th inning RBI double stand up in a 1-0 lead.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Game Eighty Five: Help Us, Obi Wan Halladay, You're Our Only Hope

At Fenway tonight, the visiting Kansas City Royales With Cheese stormed back from a 4-0 deficit to steal away an 8-6 win. Brad Penny returned all his videos to Blockbuster and left his bags packed by the door in another mediocre performance, while his successors, MDC, Bat Masterson, and New Guy RR, seemed no more willing to retire Royals batters than they would be to wear a moose costume outside Sarah Palin's house.

My Wife Is Still Funnier Than You

An interesting story in Reuters a couple of days ago (July 7) about a physician practice outside Seattle which does not accept insurance of any kind. ( I would link to it, except the story I saw is behind a members only wall. It’s probably available on Google News, I would assume.) According to the story, they are doing so well they have attracted venture capital funding and are looking to expand.

Patients “pay $99 to join, then a flat monthly rate of $39 to $119, depending on age and level of service. Patients can quit without notice and no one is rejected for pre-existing conditions. Patients must go to outside brokers and qualify medically to buy catastrophic care insurance. One broker said a 30-year-old could expect to pay $133 per month for such a policy, and a 60-year-old nearly $400, plus substantial deductibles. Qliance patients get unrestricted round-the-clock primary care access and 30-minute appointments.”
“[Co founder] Dr. Bliss rejected the idea that unrestricted access causes overuse, calling that ‘nonsense promoted by insurance companies .... There's nobody I've ever met who gets their pleasure by seeing doctors. Why would a doctor not want to see sick people? That doesn't make sense, unless you're an insurance company,’ he said. Dr. Bliss said that dumping rigid, convoluted insurance requirements and paperwork saves large amounts of money.”
This is very interesting, especially coming off of my reading of “The Age of The Unthinkable”, a radical new book that still has my head spinning even after finishing it yesterday. This represents the kind of new thinking that is going to be required if we are going to get out of this mess we are in.
One of the main points I have been arguing, and will continue to argue, is that for profit insurance companies are one of the major problems, and will continue to be one of the problems, with health care. Making profits by denying care is wrong, and it creates suffering along with profits that would be better spent on care.
Hopefully, innovative programs like this will still be allowed if health reform is ever achieved. I’m not sure they will be or can be-for non healthy people, I can see problems with this model. But eliminating the link between health care and other goods-health care is not the same as purchasing an automobile or a TV-can only help the discussion along.
My Wife Is Still Funnier Than You
HER: I want a rock.
ME: You want to rock?
HER: No, I want A rock.
ME: Oh, I thought Dee Snider was there for a minute.
HER: If he was, I was not going to take it. (Pause) Any more.
I don’t care what you say, that’s a gorgeous joke.
I’m kind of excited about Google Chrome OS, truth be told. I’m kind of sick of Windows.
Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd made an excellent point on a recent “BS Report” that ties in to the “Age of the Unthinkable” book. Simmons commented that he enjoys watching and attending sports with his wife (a non-sports fan) because of her ability to bring a unique perspective to the game-seeing coaches and players as people instead of as their reputations or abilities. Cowherd, a radio host, noted that he preferred an intelligent caller who didn’t know so much about sports to a sports nut who is less intelligent.
What strikes me about this is what we are talking about is out of the box thinking-approaching a problem without preconception, without framing, to view it with fresh eyes.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

GAME EIGHTY FOUR: Katie, Bar The Door!

After Tim Wakefield handed a 4-1 lead over to the firm of Delcarmen, Okajima, and Papelbon, you would think things were AOK. It was a near run thing, including a ninth inning homer, but Boston prevailed, 5 to 4.

The Bedside Table

Just read Joshua Ferris' "Then We Came To The End", a novel that begins in a setting more or less like "The Office", with conniving characters, obsessions about minutiae, and a relatively interesting story.

Then, it suddenly took a turn I did not expect. I had to put the book down at a critical point, and the plot machinations had upset me to the point that I didn't really want to finish. But I was past the point where I can give up on a book, so I resolved to finish it, a little reluctantly.

I polished it off late last night, and found out that the plot turn that I was upset about was not what I had thought it was. It was a disheartening experience-I almost felt cheated, like the author had manipulated me. I'm almost offended about how deeply the book affected me.

Now that I've calmed down, I can more reasonably recommend it. It's a good read, but there is a point-I won't tell you where, but you will know it when you see it-where you really shouldn't stop.

I just started Joshua Cooper Ramo's "The Age of the Unthinkable", a nonfiction book about the unpredictability of the modern world. It is a lot less dry than I thought, ranging from art, to physics, to economics, to video games to help explain why everything is more complicated than you probably think.

Books like this are both comforting and terrifying-comforting because I know I'm not the only person who feels this way, and terrifying because I think the author is right and I am pretty close to being the only person that feels this way.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Game Eighty Three: Back In The High Life Again

Josh Beckett pitched 6 2/3 innings, and the Okey Doke, Bat Masterson, and the Lord of the Dance locked down a 5-2 win over Oakland at Fenway tonight.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Game 82: TWO?

Oakland Athletics pitcher Brett Anderson was born in 1988.

1988. Nineteen eighty freakin eight. The boy read about Ronald Reagan in HISTORY BOOKS.

This young whippersnapper not only beat the Red Sox tonight, he shut them out on TWO hits. TWO. As in "the number that comes after one and before three." TWO. One hundred seventeen pitches, and two and one half hours, and "drive home safe, everyone."

John Smoltz continued to make Clay Buchholz' case for a promotion to the majors, getting drilled for five runs.

On the very limited plus side, former Sox star and current Athletic Nomar Garciaparra got a very nice hand from the Fenway crowd before his first at bat.

Other than that, it was a wasted day at the park.

A simple desultory phillipic

Robert McNamara is dead. An adviser under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, McNamara was largely held responsible for the war in Vietnam. McNamara is notable to me because he is one of the rare public figures in recent times to try to apologize and admit that he was wrong. That's a rare thing, in politics and in life. It can't undo what he did, and what Vietnam did, but it's someplace to start, in any case.

A Simple Desultory Phillipic, by Simon and Garfunkel

"I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell Taylored.
I been John O'Hara'd, McNamara'd.
I been Rolling Stoned and Beatled till I'm blind.
I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded
Communist, 'cause I'm left-handed.
That's the hand I use, well, never mind!

I been Phil Spectored, resurrected.
I been Lou Adlered, Barry Sadlered.
Well, I paid all the dues I want to pay.
And I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce,
And all my wealth won't buy me health,
So I smoke a pint of tea a day.

I knew a man, his brain was so small,
He couldn't think of nothing at all.
He's not the same as you and me.
He doesn't dig poetry. He's so unhip that
When you say Dylan, he thinks you're talking about Dylan Thomas,
Whoever he was.
The man ain't got no culture,
But it's alright, ma,
Everybody must get stoned.

I been Mick Jaggered, silver daggered.
Andy Warhol, won't you please come home?
I been mothered, fathered, aunt and uncled,
Been Roy Haleed and Art Garfunkeled.
I just discovered somebody's tapped my phone.

I lost my harmonica, Albert."

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Game Eighty One: Ending The Streak

All losing streaks end. Eventually, someone steps up and says, we're not losing today. Either a pitcher throws up a platoon of goose eggs, or a hitter puts up a 4 for 5 with 2 homers, and the victory is claimed. No team has ever lost 81 games in a row, so we had to win at some point. Right? Right?

As we reach the literal halfway point of the season, Big Jon Lester took the hill. After 6 innings, he trailed 4-1, despite only allowing 1 earned run, and things seemed dangerously close to Lossville.

But our boys rose up, striking for five runs off of ancient Miguel Batista (who is 8 months older than ME, for Pete's sake) and young Mark Lowe (who, apropos of absolutely nothing, is diabetic) to give us an 8-4 lead and, eventually, a win.