Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Optimism of the Breathing

I've got nothing but too many shops to hit before cocktails and canapes in one last fine fury of food and drink purchasing. Plus some house cleaning, and an outdoor porch to prepare, and a fireplace to sweep out, and lemons to juice (I will be beautiful as Susan Sarandon in Atlantic City).

So, here's to a 2009. May it be good enough we can wish a happy 2010 and think such a wish might be a possibility. Thanks for reading this year and see you next (in that way you read my words and I hide in your brain a bit).

In the meantime I found this:

A Good Year Down

by Jeni Olin

New York will not accept me at this weight &
Mothers of the disappeared don’t come ‘round
Here anymore. I said you’re housekeeping aren’t you
With Lipton tea stains & the Establishment
Seriously attracted. He said: No
I’m turning down the beds. Now it’s my turn
In bed with a beautiful American rage
Like brunettes with night sweats. My love
Semiprecious & stoned
In the shoulder season we hold on
Though I am dismal & have no dope
Siphoned off behind pink Easter
I fake an optimism
Just to breathe—Just thinking of him for once &
The Wandering Jew that ate my sunshine
But I know flowers like Zorro was my dad
Those garlands of thin hissing lasers
So with the “sexy isotherms
Of semiotics” we meet again at the Kiev
To check chemistry. They bring the lights
Down on those cherry pies & like cryogenics
It sorta works. This time my love
The salt doll of night egging us on
Straight to the zeppelin mooring
With she-has-a-bit-of-the-neardamned-in-her-
Like-when-a-cloud-dies construed as
Well, all right, I’ve seen worse.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saltsman Doesn't Give a Lick

So what can be said about Chip Saltsman, beyond he looks as if he shares a barber with Rod Blagojevich? I mean, turning to Rush Limbaugh to decide what's funny is like asking Roseanne if her pipes are up for another crack at the national anthem. But what's been more shocking is to hear how other Republicans have rallied to defend his inclusion of the song "Barack the Magic Negro" on a CD of Republican "humor." There's a rich mine of quotes in this article by Politico, like this one:

Alabama Republican Committeeman Paul Reynolds said the fact the Saltsman sent him a CD with the song on it “didn’t bother me one bit.” “Chip probably could have thought it through a bit more, but he was doing everyone a favor by giving us a gift,” he said.

Reynolds went on to say the CD from Saltsman was one of his favorite Christmas gifts, along with the lawn jockey sent to him by David Duke. Then there's this tidbit:

Mark Ellis, the chairman of the Maine Republican Party, said, “When I found out what this was about I had to ask, ‘Boy, what’s the big deal here?’"

My guess is even almost in Canada a Republican knows what he's implying by starting a sentence with the word "Boy." Not that such a term, or anything beyond his own overweening ambition, bothers former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the man who helped rig the 2004 election. The Politico article claims:

“Unfortunately, there is hypersensitivity in the press regarding matters of race. This is in large measure due to President-elect Obama being the first African-American elected president,” Blackwell said in a statement.

So true! The media is the great defender of racial inequality! Even more true--Obama is black! It's as plain as the nose on Blackwell's face! Politico went on to say:

As a result of his position, a source close to the race said that at least 12 uncommitted committee members have contacted Blackwell to thank him for his support for Saltsman and have expressed anger toward Duncan and Anuzis [Republicans who actually denounced Saltsman] “for throwing a good Republican under the bus.”

And we all know how Republicans feel about bussing.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Got a Sec?

Not that I don't need the time to get done everything I need to accomplish before 2009 wobbles in wearing a diaper it will no doubt soil immediately when it looks around at the mess it gets born into, but it sort of bugs me to read: "The world's official timekeepers have added a 'leap second' to the last day of the year on Wednesday, to help match clocks to the Earth's slowing spin on its axis, which takes place at ever-changing rates affected by tides and other factors." First, later in the article we learn that the earth's rotation is slowing down, which just seems creepy and not just because The Day the Earth Stood Still just got remade (starring Keanu Reeves, who just seems creepy). The article states, "Among the reasons for Earth's slowing whirl on its axis are the braking action of tides, snow or the lack of it at the polar ice caps..." well, good thing we don't have to worry about those polar ice caps heating up. Let's just say it's not too soon that someone who actually believes in science will be in the White House.

But what bugs me even more is this--"The last [leap second] was added on December 31, 2005."

So that means George W. Bush has been in office two extra seconds.

Earth has some 'splaining to do.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Random Ten

Manu Chao "Otro Mundo" La Radiolina
Kathleen Edwards "What Are You Waiting For?" Back to Me
Alison Krauss & Union Station "Forget about It" Live
Wilco "Blue Eyed Soul" A.M.
Louie Louie "The Kingsmen" Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
Mott the Hoople "All the Young Dudes" [alternate version: Bowie & Hunter co-vocal] All the Young Dudes
Ryan Adams "New York, New York" Gold
Alison Krauss & Union Station "Let Me Touch You for Awhile" New Favorite
Battlefield Band "After Hours / The Green Gates / The Ship in Full Sail" On the Rise
The Reputation "Follow-Through Time" To Force a Fate

The Mendoza Line "Fleur de Lie" [live] Final Reflections of the Legendary Malcontent

How fitting to be doing this list at my in-laws and to have my father-in-law's faorite Alison Krauss pop up twice. The old iPod can pick up the vibe, no doubt. A pretty fine set this week heavy on wonderful women.


Season's Greytings

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie wishes everyone a comfy bed, a coozy sweater, and a warm fire.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hard to Swallow Traditions

This is more blogging about family and food. It's been years, but for years Christmas Eve meant the traditional Slovak supper in my family--turns out it even has a terrific name, Stedry Vecer. (No, he wasn't a linebacker for the Lombardi Packers, wise guy.) Also turns out our version wasn't the same as the traditional ones people have posted on the web now--those all talk about a fish dish, but we didn't do that. No, for the most part our meal was all about the mostly inedible. Which seems fitting, as so much of being Slovak seemed to be misery--this is my mom's side of the family I'm writing about, the one that doesn't say, "Have a good time," when you're out the door to do something fun, they intone, "Just be careful." Remember, the Slovaks are the poor peasants in the Czechoslovakia divorce.

I can vividly remember one year having the meal at my grandmother's house in Dunmore, PA (that's right, they didn't even rate Scranton itself, but one of its suburbs). I felt sick beforehand, so barely ate, but my guess is it was an anticipation-born illness, as I didn't want to face the meal. For it's not just a meal, it's religion and superstition wrapped in a lovely Christmas bow. My grandmother and mother were super-Catholic--Baba's church was a mere 4 minute walk out her back gate, even, that's how close to god she was--but that didn't mean a bit of Slavic voodoo didn't run in their genes. Back when I lived within driving distance of her house and would still come home for holidays my mom would put her statue of the Blessed Virgin in the window to watch out for me.

Coming from a legacy like that, it's no surprise that the dinner's components were more about symbolism than taste. It kicks off with something I now know is called oplatky (notice while Italian is a language of grace and beauty, Slovak is a language of dumpling-lumpy consonants) and looks like a communion wafer but it's rectangular, maybe 2 by 4 inches, and stamped with a Nativity scene. You get to put honey on it, so it tastes like sweetened cardboard and if you're lucky your piece is the one with the baby Jesus. You get it served to you, I'm not kidding, on a bit of straw, to symbolize Christ's humble birth. The straw could be the tastiest part of the meal.

I'm not sure of the order of the middle courses, four of them that lined-up any way spell gastronomic disaster. To be honest, there was one good part of the meal, mushroom soup, although I'm not sure how they made the stock (no meat, remember?) and I didn't start paying attention to cooking until I went to college and had to feed myself and by then learning the mysterious ins-and-outs of the Stedry Vecer were out of the question. I do know my mom would use dried mushrooms actually shipped from the Old Country, which truly seemed old to me, full of things beyond my young life at the time. So that was good. But pairing it with a mix of sauerkraut tossed with ripped up poppyseed rolls (poppyseeds being a Slovak staple--it might be the closest they got to a spice) was a bit perverse. Seems from the web that the mushroom soup itself in other traditions had the sauerkraut, so it was "nice" of my ancestors to pull it out and give you a separate dish to dislike, a deconstructed sauerkraut sandwich.

Then there was pierogi, that Eastern European dumpling that has all sorts of expressions in that area of the world. The kind passed down in my family, however, perhaps should never have been expressed. Super-doughy, they lacked any sense of lightness something a cross between a pasta and pastry should have. For filling, since they weren't starchy enough, the choice was potato. For a crowning touch, they got slathered in brown butter, but I think there was even flour in that--we're not talking the light napping of a brown butter and sage you might find with your gnocchi. We're talking cannonballs of carbohydrates. My guess is they symbolism here is "don't enjoy food, it's fuel."

For the last of the main course components also could be something lovely, but the ingenious Slovak cooks figured out a way to make it something disgusting. It was sort of a quiche, but made with cottage cheese. And I don't think anything else in it--maybe onion--but it just had a mushy texture and a bland taste. The one thing my mom could always pull off in the kitchen was great pie dough, but that wasn't enough to save this dish.

Dessert was fruit, and you can imagine how exotic an orange might be to a Slovak (now I've got them in my backyard, so stop on in, Baba!), and whole nuts you got to crack open, which as a kid is a blast. Of course we didn't have an ornate nutcracker, but the element of danger (don't get your finger in there!) and the opportunity to break something with impunity always seemed like a good deal. It was also good to take your time with your nuts, using that extra pick tool a dentist might wield to get out all the walnut, slowly, as the candle awaited.

For, on Christmas Eve, while most children dreamed of Santa and loot, I dreamed of learning I wouldn't die during the next year. For after dinner, a single white taper makes its way from diner to diner, and each person gets to light the candle and blow it out. If your smoke goes straight up, that means good luck for the coming year. If it blew downward, that meant bad luck, and perhaps the worst luck of all, no luck at all. What could be more Slovak than this: "Merry Christmas, your candle just told you you're going to kick the bucket next year"?

So maybe I didn't want to eat as that candle waited at the end.

And now that Baba's candle and my mom's candle and my dad's candle have all blown out, I miss these meals, miss hating them, miss their bitterness that knew more than I still want to know.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Anaheim?

You might have missed it on the sports page while busy trying to figure out which team will be the last to say it's no longer bidding on Mark Teixeira, a sort of reverse musical chairs with $180 million, but the Orange County Register (motto: "we'd rather be orange than read--now eat your ketchup") reports:

The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled late Friday against the city of Anaheim, which has been fighting to overturn the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team name for about four years.

Why they'd want to overturn the name is anyone's guess. That just makes it look like this: ɯıǝɥɐuɐ ɟo s1ǝbuɐ sǝ1ǝbuɐ so1.

There's also no word as to how this ruling might set a precedent for other landmark cases like the one about the Los Angeles Paris of Hilton.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Hark the Herald Mookie Sings

For Dog Blog Friday: Will sing carols for Milkbones.


Friday Random Ten

Ha Ha Tonka "St. Nick on the Fourth" Bloodshot Records Sampler 7
This Mortal Coil "Holocaust" It'll End in Tears
Billy Bragg "Seven and Seven Is" You Woke Up My Neighborhood ep
Randy Newman "Memo to My Son" Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman
Sunday All Over the World "Answered with a Smile" Kneeling at the Shrine
Cracker "Let's Go for a Ride" Kerosene Hat
Luna "Rememories" Romantica
Cho-Liang Lin, Raymond Leppard, and the English Chamber Orchestra "Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major, K. 218; 3b Cadenza" Mozart Violin Concertos 1 & 4
The Beatnigs "Burritos" The Beatnigs
Guided by Voices "Blimps Go 90" Alien Lanes

Radiohead "Black Star" The Bends

All over and often enough good. Plus it reminded me I forgot Howard Devoto singing Alex Chilton on my covers CDs.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Swanson Remains the Same

Friday is the 39th birthday of Kristy Swanson, who is sort of the George Lazenby of the Buffyverse. (I know that gets the timing wacky--I'm not saying Sarah Michelle Gellar is the Roger Moore of Bondania [is there a Bond world one-word term? Bondistan?], so save the comments. I don't mean to shake or stir things up; I'm just jossing with you.)Swanson's greatest moment since slaying Teutonic Blond Bad Boy Rutger Hauer (he once ripped Jennifer Jason Leigh in two, the bastard, and I don't care if it was only in a movie) was winning "Skating with Celebrities." She might not be a celebrity, but she played one on the show along with Todd Bridges and Debby, er, fellow Playboy spreader Deborah Gibson--we're talking top drawer talent here. Not only did Swanson win the contest, she won her partner, proving you can be hot on ice--Lloyd Eisler left his wife for her.Who can blame him--she had dated David Spade.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Know You Want To

You, too, can throw shoes at W. And you won't get beaten afterward. Go see Sock and Awe!

(H/T Generik)


Ta Ta to All That

Troubling on too many levels. Instead of working I obsess about my site visits and come upon this odd entry. First, eXTReMe Tracking calls Mumbai Bombay, like it's got its own little inner imperialist (don't we all). Second, the person is doing a Google image search with the keywords "blood splatter." Third, somehow that gets them to this entry on my blog that links to this photo.

Oh, and the organization through which the surfer made this access? TATA Communications.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ozark! The Herald Present Zings

The other day Amy has to go home to take one of the dogs to one of his weekly vet appointments and so is there after the vet when a package comes. She emails me--"you've got a big box of wine." Yes, I have been known to order some wine (I loves me some litotes), but I have it shipped to work since it's good for your employers to know how much you drink you need an adult to sign for it, and although Mookie is 77 in human years, he can't hold a pen and barks at all delivery people, to boot. So it makes no sense to me there's wine shipped to our house. I ask for details. She says it's from Missouri. It's also from the wife of my now deceased dad.

Things begin to make some sense. I'm still fascinated, however, trying to figure out how a woman who doesn't drink wine and lives in New Jersey decides to order wine for a person who drinks lots of wine who lives in California. How does she get to that a-ha moment, "Why, yes, Missouri!" She's not on the internets--doesn't even own a computer. Does the St James Winery (whose website page is titled "Red Wines, White Wines, and Wine Accessories") advertise in AARP's magazine? Still, this Christmas gift choice isn't too far from sending the person living in Idaho potatoes from Alaska.

If nothing else, now I know that Chardonel is an actual grape and not some silly marketing term, not that I would come up with a daft neologism myself (OK, I'm still trying to trademark "diplomarama" as a synoym for graduation, so don't steal it). As for the red, I'm pretty sure it's called a Norton as my step mom didn't want to fork out the bucks to buy the more expensive Kramden. Seriously, Norton is a grape, too, proudly billed the "Cabernet of the Ozarks," which no doubt means its genetic parents were cousins.

Indeed, when I positively swill in these wines, if I close my eyes I can practically imagine I'm in the Tony Orlando Yellow Ribbon Music Theater in Branson. It's a rare Christmas gift that can be so transporting.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Of Balls and Men

While making a vet appointment for Nigel (time for the board certified1 surgeon to check out the fistula on his anus2), the woman on the line at the new vet asks, "Is George a neutered male?"

Does "sometimes" work as an answer?

1Board certified means "I can charge you $130 an hour before doing any tests." Not to self: "Find a board that certifies bloggers."

2You didn't want to know, did you. And no, there's no truth to the rumor the follow up to Quantum of Solace will be Fistula of Anus.


Friday, December 12, 2008

A Chance The Look's Askance

For Dog Blog Friday: We get this look a lot.


Friday Random Ten

Victoria Williams "Tarbelly and Featherfoot" Swing the Statue
Pearl Jam "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me" Vitalogy
New Century Chamber Orchestra performs Dimitri Shostakovich "Scherzo (Allegro Molto)" Written with the Heart's Blood
Praxis "Giant Robot / Machines in the Modern City / Godzilla" Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis)
Superchunk "Sunshine State" Here's Where the Strings Come In
The Magnetic Fields "Technical (You're So)" The House of Tomorrow [ep]
Neko Case "Twist the Knife" Furnace Room Lullaby
The Mekons "Perfect Mirror" Natural
Wilco "Why Would You Wanna Live?" Being There
Johnny Cash & Tom Petty "The Running Kind" Unearthed II: Trouble in Mind

The Lyres "Help You Ann" Selections from Children of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1996

Oh well, back to the lesser songs of greater artists meme.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

All You Need Is Love...And Lots and Lots of Children

I like my religious blowhards uptight and self-righteous; the ones who try to be humorous are more dangerous, as some folks might get suckered in by their folkiness. That's why I never could heart Mike Huckabee, and it seems he's not going away, especially as he's got a book to flog (amazingly called Do the Right Thing--do you think he's ever even seen the film? Spike Lee must be rolling over in the Knicks' grave) and since Huckabee is known as a good interview, he'll be everywhere.

Like on Jon Stewart the other night. Lots of folks have written about this appearance, but one bit that popped out in the transcription Melissa McEwan so kindly provided over at Shakesville, was this:

Well, but, there's a difference between the equality of each individual and the equality of what we do, and the sameness of what we do. I mean, the fact is, marriage is, under our law, a privilege. It's not an absolute divine right.

Stop right there, Mikey. Did you just say, "Marriage, under our law, is not a divine right"? Thanks for giving your game away. Our law isn't divine--get your creepy, bigoted god created in your own image out of my Constitution.

Actually too bad marriage isn't Divine, then we'd get beyond all this and solve real problems. It's like having to re-fight Roe v. Wade for 35 years--instead of trying to accomplish even more in the struggle for gender equality, we have to keep winning the battle we already won.

I will also try not to expend even more words on the lame-o argument of yours that angers the not-having-a-child-yet-married me, "
I mean, let's face it, the entire purpose of a marriage is not just to create the next generation, but it's to train our replacements." Beyond the stupid thinking that says "the whole point is A...oh and B" as that's giving 110%, we can procreate really well without getting married. Just ask Bristol Palin. And what the fuck does "train our replacements" mean? Let's get those soldiers, I mean, children, through bootcamp, huh. Talk about your culture wars.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Am Spartacus

As you might know, Wednesday (a mere 50 minutes or so away) is "Day without a Gay." Prop 8 won here in California, so now it's time to show folks what it means to constitutionally take away a whole group of people's rights.

As the website says:

Can’t call in Gay? You can still join in making a HUGE Impact. Some of us are extremely lucky to work in a pro-LGBTQ company. People are out and proud and want to continue their impact at work. Others live in one of the 30 states where you can still be fired based on your sexual orientation. We encourage you not to risk calling in if you fear for your job.

That said, here are 5 ways you can make an impact tomorrow:
1. Volunteer your time and services after work
2. Do not buy anything
3. Do not watch TV or use your cell phone
4. Do not go online (yup, don’t even visit this site tomorrow)… Online advertising is everywhere and a simple page load could cause money to be spent.
5. Do not buy lunch (and don’t go out today to get what you need for lunch tomorrow), find something you already have and pack your lunch.

If nothing else, if you're straight, at least think about how lucky you are. Love isn't easy, finding the right person is difficult, working at a relationship is just that, work. But at least no laws say you can't get married.

Do what you can to make things fair.

In honor of the day, no blogging from me tomorrow. No comments. (I know, the whole world quakes with George-deprived anxiety.)


Is That a Rod in Your Governor's Mansion, Or Are You Just Happy to Bribe Me?

Although it seems like one more sleazy politician got his today, and while it might seem we should all be totally cynical and assume anyone elected is corrupt, it's really not like that at all. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich just said in a press conference, "I've got this thing and it's fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for fucking nothing. If I sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder, that will help prove that Democrats can be just as morally bankrupt as Republicans. All I am doing is help usher in the era of non-partisanship. We want a level playing field, so those on both the right and the left can profit from their public service equally. That's what America is all about."

Joe Lieberman, recently re-welcomed into the bosom of the Democratic Party (after they removed the knife he stuck there while campaigning for McCain), attacked President Elect Barack Obama, saying, "Here Obama had a chance to show he was willing to govern in a way our colleagues from across the aisle have worked for years. Alas, Obama was unwilling to give Blagojevich anything in appreciation. And I know something about appreciation...." The rest of Lieberman's statement couldn't be heard around Harry Reid's hand in his mouth.


Monday, December 08, 2008

A Maddux Put Out to Pasture

I swear that when this story ran in the print edition of Saturday's LA Times the headline was "Likely Hall of Famer Maddux to Retire." Likely? You might as well say "likely funny man Buster Keaton" or "pretty much a good writer Gustave Flaubert" or "the rumored to be attractive Julie Delpy."

Maddux is (was? sob) probably my favorite non-Met player, and that's saying something given for many seasons he was as non-Met as one could be, beating the Mets as a member of the hated Atlanta Braves. Indeed, what team did Maddux have the most wins against for his career? The Metropolitans. 35 of his 355 wins--that's 10%--came against the Mets. While the Mets are 99% of baseball to me (the other 1% is my fantasy team), that's still a shocking figure. His post-season record may have been iffy, but he did everything he could to bury the Mets. Yearly. Yet I admire him greatly.

Of course it's easy for me to like the guy who looks non-jocky -- heck, he wore glasses (I'm not that non-jocky). Of course he far from needed glasses while pitching, for his game was all about where the ball went, not how hard it got there. What's more, it would seemingly always go where he wanted it, and that would be the last place the batter expected. For his career he gave up .7 homers per nine innings. What's even more striking, and I mean that literally in this case, in the last 15 years and 3,299 innings of his career, he issued a total of 392 walks.

Simply put, you couldn't have a smarter ballplayer than Maddux. He won 18 Gold Gloves because he worked at his fielding and thereby improved his pitching (do you think most pitchers think about how important defense is to their job?). And then there's this stat--lifetime, he was 11 for 14 as a base stealer. He would take anything you'd give him.

Sadly the last time I saw him live, I had to root heartily against him as he started the third game of the 2006 NLDS against the Mets for the Dodgers. That game had to eat at Maddux--the Mets put together a series of dribblers and seeing-eye hits that meant 4 first inning runs (only Paul LoDuca trying to go first to third on a single--guess he forgot to shoot up that night before the game--and an amazing grab on a liner by a suddenly on my radar rookie James Loney kept it from being more). In a way those hits did to him what his pitches usually did to batters; they'd go up, pitches would just cut the corners, they'd sit down or jog back to the dugout after grounding meekly out. There was so little impressive about it that it was completely impressive.

Maddux will be missed because in an era highlighted by feats of strength and chemicals, he suggested there's still a place for very good athletes who don't look like much but have brains bigger than most folks' biceps. Put him in the line of fine, classy righties with Matthewson and Seaver.

And here's hoping he suddenly decides to go to the Hall in a Cubs cap. You can't hate the Cubs--they never win anything.

Labels: ,

The Kids in the Blog

Originally uploaded by ott2talk

I don't have children, but if I did, I would so totally do this. Which is why it's good I don't have children.

(My kids would be very small. And my left hand is dominant.)

Monday random Flickr-blogging explained.


A Cheap Knopf Off

Originally uploaded by ROVER_JP

Hi! I'm here to see Mookie and Nigel and see if they want any cotton candy.


I'm Not Lion to You

Originally uploaded by le-champignon

Obama, working slowly and methodically, opts to see if he can get the pig to lie down with the lamb before trying more complex barnyard arrangements.


Friday, December 05, 2008

I Get the Pressures of Life Through Lack of Patience

Time for one of those point and nods. Go read this--what my gut feels with someone else's really good brain providing the thought to back it up. Mark Schmitt on "The Audacity of Patience"--some of it goes like this, but be sure to read the whole thing at the link:

Obama will need a full reservoir of that same patience in the White House, because he'll face similar frantic pressure and second-guessing. He will be surrounded by a crippling crowd of people and groups convinced that if their own No. 1 cause isn't enacted in the first 100 days, it will never happen. The conventional wisdom about the presidency is very much the same as the advice Obama was given in the primaries: Move quickly. Overwhelm the forces of the establishment. Use the momentum of the election to achieve the biggest things possible. You'll never be more powerful than on Jan. 21.

If Obama ignores this conventional wisdom, he will not do so because he's crazy or lazy but because he's taking the same approach to governing as he took to the election. It will mean he's taking the long view, gambling on patience, and carefully putting into place the pieces that win lasting majorities for progressive policies, just as he won a majority of delegates and a majority of votes in the election.


Friday Random Ten

Conor Oberst "NYC-Gone, Gone" Conor Oberst
The Who "Mary Anne with the Shakey Hand" (alternate version) The Who Sell Out
Future Bible Heroes "Losing Your Affection" Eternal Youth
Louis Jordan "Let the Good Times Roll" Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues
Jon Langford "Homburg" All the Fame of Lofty Deeds
David McComb & Adam Peters "Don't Go Home with Your Hard-On" I'm Your Fan
Jon Langford and His Sadies "Little Vampires" Mayors of the Moon
Remmy Ongala and Orchestre Super Matimila "I Want to Go Home" Mambo
Billy Bragg "Little Time Bomb" (demo) Workers Playtime
The Minus 5 "Twilight Distillery" The Minus 5

Sleater-Kinney "Youth Decay" All Hands on the Bad One

All over and almost all over good. It's a bit odd it hits on two alternate versions of two fine songs, and the doubling of Langford hits on one that's much better than the other. But those are great Future Bible Heroes and Sleater-Kinney; talk about female vocals that couldn't be more different and still both English.


Double Dog Dare Ya

For Dog Blog Friday: If they just had four candles, they'd be a nifty Advent Wreath. (See, you can take the boy out of Catholicism, but you can't take Catholicism out of the boy.)


Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Man, a Blog, A Stem--Mets!

Seems I was less than convincing in my post about how to fix the Mets (it is spay and neuter your second place ballclub week, isn't it?) the other day. A non-linkable Chris made several points, and since I don't really know what to blog about today anyway, and since I've spent too much time the past several weeks reading all the rumors and possible to-ing and fro-ing of free agents, I must as well squeeze one more post out of this material. I will try to respond to Chris's points (in green) in order:

1) Schoeneweis is a lefty specialist, who in fact, does get lefties out. He allowed only a .524 OPS against lefties last season, .594 for his career.

But that's all Mr. S (I promised not to write that name anymore, and your defense of him makes me wonder if your last name might be S___, also, Chris) can do is get lefties out. So if you bring him in to face a lefty--lets call that batter Mike Jacobs--and then a manager pinch hits a righty--lets call him Wes Helms--it's time to duck and cover. This is a pitcher on a 3 year, $10.8 million deal. If all he can do is get out lefties, you don't sign him for that much for that long.

As many wiser writers have said, the biggest problem with the Mets bullpen last year was everyone was a specialist, so you couldn't expect a full inning from anyone (that is, without the opposition scoring).

2) Just as Mike commented earlier, I'd love to see where the Mets have the money to spend on Manny or Dunn, K-Rod or Wood, and all these washed up veterans you want, who will cost much more than they are worth.

Never was an economist, or even particularly good with money--which, of course, these days, makes me as bright as most economists, but that's a different post. The Mets have to have money, especially moving into a new ballpark, especially in NYC. Costing more than they are worth is a different issue, which is why I like the idea of shorter contracts for higher annual pay. While the Dodgers have tried this of late and have got burned--I'm looking at "u" Andruw--at least that signing is only a mistake for one more year. I mean, go ask the Rockies how they feel about that Todd Helton in perpetuity deal they're stuck with.

The biggest problem with the Mets is there's never time in NYC to tear down and rebuild. It's a club set up to win now, so you have to surround that great Santana-Wright-Reyes-Beltran core with better players. Now. It's not like the Mets have tons of super prospects we can even hope will help somehow.

3) Are you really trying to say that Joe McEwing, and his 2 playoff ABs are the reason the Mets made the WS in 2000?

The joke was supposed to be that a club needs some gritty, get-his-uniform-dirty guy to set a tone or else it won't have the heart/intestinal fortitude/cojones (feel free to pick your own crucial anatomy and language with which to call it) to be a winner. Oddly enough, this person is usually some over-achieving little white guy. Most of them don't grow "up" to be Dustin Pedroia. Instead it's a parade of Ecksteins and Hudlers and Counsells and pre-roids Dykstras.

4) Who do the Mets have to trade for a Jeremy Hermida, Felix Pie, or Rich Hill?

Turn the clock back one year. Boston supposedly dangling Buchholz, Ellsbury, a lifetime supply of delicious chowda. Yanks supposedly dangling Hughes, Tabata, several autographed Steinbrenner toupees. And who winds up with Johan?

All I'm saying is, you never know. (Although the Johan trade means we have even less of the little we had to offer other clubs.) Hermida is owned by a team that hates paying its players, so there's incentive for Florida to move him as he gets arb-eligible expensive. Pie and Hill aren't feeling the Cubbie love, so might come cheaply. These guys might never be great, but there's promise, and that might help avoid having to pay for washed up veterans. Let's get the guys who haven't even made it to the sink yet.

5) Oh, and I apologize for such a serious response to a not so serious blog post.

I will be the first to admit that I put attempts at humor ahead of attempts at argument, but luckily one of my favorite humor tricks is the non-sequitur. Joe Beimel's stats are about the same as S____'s, but I had to make the bar joke. Same thing for writing Erubiel Durazo. His name is a stand-up double to my ear.

Joe Sheehan over at Baseball Prospectus will do a real "fix the Mets" piece in the next few days. Go read him if you want smarts. I just want to give you a giggle or two. And say, as suavely as I can, "Erubiel Durazo."

UPDATE (12/4 12:19 pm): Joe Sheehan's piece is up now. And maybe it's because I've read BP so long I've internalized their way of thinking, or maybe I'm just brilliant, but he says sign Wood, Cruz, Lowe, and Abreu and sums up: "At this point in their history, though, with an amazing core, a new ballpark, and a share of the largest market in the game, they have to commit to doing whatever it takes to put this roster over the top. This is not the typical Prospectus approach, but this is not the typical situation, and getting caught up in principles isn't going to turn a very good team into the very best one. This is how to help the Reyes/Wright Mets win a championship."


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'd Give Anything Not to Feel So Jacket

I don't know...I always thought if you were a politician you wanted your name and the word "fleece" as far apart as possible.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Redder Shade of Neck on a Whiter Shade of Trash

Melissa over at Shakesville pointed to a truly malignant editorial the Philadelphia Inquirer was kind enough to run to show how fair and balanced and crap they are, and I can't help but want to take a few whacks at it myself. Here's the gist of what Tom Adkins had to say:

For more than a century, the millstone of white guilt hung around our necks, retribution for slave-owning predecessors. In the 1960s, American liberals began yanking that millstone while sticking a fork in the eye of black Americans, exacerbating the racial divide to extort a socialist solution to the country's problems. But if a black man can become president, exactly what significant barrier is left? The election of Barack Obama destroys the validation of liberal white guilt. The dragon is hereby slain.

OK, he Freudian slips a bit there at the end, since we all know dragons don't exist, so white guilt never did (at least for Tom Adkins). Not that he doesn't have his own dragons to slay--the 1960s, liberals, socialism. Adkins, after all, is a founder of, a site that is dedicated to "attack[ing] liberalism with both barrels blazing" since you won't take his gun away till you pry it from his cold dead argument.

And let's grant him the only reason to feel guilt (and does it have to be couched in pseudo-religious terms?) is slavery. I mean, after 1865 there was nary a racist episode in this country. At the least turn off that recording of Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit."

For what I most want to decry is the belief that if one person succeeds, that means anyone can. I know that's the American myth--it's the myth Obama himself likes to refer to and part of the reason his election is so compelling. It does give us a reason to believe the U.S. is a country where all are created equal. But is that true? I'd like to defer to someone who knows better than I do, even if he wrote it 48 years ago:

The people, however, who believe that this democratic anguish has some consoling value are always pointing out that So-and-So, white, and So-and-So, black, rose from the slums into the big time. The existence -- the public existence -- of, say, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. proves to them that America is still the land of opportunity and that inequalities vanish before the determined will. It proves nothing of the sort. The determined will is rare -- at the moment, in this country, it is unspeakably rare -- and the inequalities suffered by the many are in no way justified by the rise of a few. A few have always risen -- in every country, every era, and in the teeth of regimes which can by no stretch of the imagination be thought of as free. Not all these people, it is worth remembering, left the world better than they found it. The determined will is rare, but it is not invariably benevolent. Furthermore, the American equation of success with the big time reveals an awful disrespect for human life and human achievement.

That's James Baldwin in his perceptive essay "Fifth Avenue, Uptown: A Letter from Harlem."

For ultimately the notion of "white guilt" itself is the problem. Adkins, it's not about you and your fellow white folk (that means me, too). So just shut up.


Monday, December 01, 2008


What a Monday--Mookie gets a big shout out over at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Which is funny, because sometimes he sort of looks like a kangaroo. One more reason to be thankful.

And it would be something to see a film like Mr. Mooks Goes to Washington.


Fix the Mets, Fix the Mets, Step Right Up and Fix the Mets

After all, you might think your kiddies and your wife stand a better chance than Omar Minaya does of figuring out how to make the Mets those 5 wins better they need to be to get past the phavored Phillies. But the Mets are moving into a new ballpark, and that it's called Citi Field has to be a good sign--perhaps if the team tanks for the first few months, Congress will vote to give the Mets Albert Pujols, Dustin Pedroia, and Joe Maddon on his good days as a bailout.

Seriously, all Mets moves center on the bullpen, which evidently last season took David Bowie at his word when he recorded the theme song for the Paul Schrader Cat People. (In fact I'm pretty sure the Mets shuffled their AAA club to Buffalo from New Orleans just to avoid those associations.) No lead was safe, and Mets fans knew enough to hide the eyes of their children as yet unaccustomed to such carnage. Here's hoping the Mr. Met Buddy-Blindfold™ made the club enough at the concession stands that they can afford some free agents.

So, what to do with the bullpen? Scott Schoeneweis has to go, if for no other reason than I'm tired of looking up how to spell his name when I write how much I hate him. A lefty specialist who doesn't get out lefties isn't so special, especially when righties pound him like a low-hung pinata. Jeremy Affeldt would have been nice, but he's already signed. There's still Joe Beimel--he already knows his way around NYC bars, so would be a great fit.

Otherwise, it's all about finding someone to replace the out for the season Billy Wagner. It would be nice to find someone better than Wagner, of course, as he had the ability to be very good until you most needed him (and for that the 2006 Cards say thanks). Most speculation is that the Mets will pony up the big bucks to sign K-Rod, amazed by his record amount of saves in 2008 and that he has a cool nickname. To be honest, I'd sort of prefer they'd go for Kerry Wood than K-Rod, since I think he has his arm owies in the past, while K-Rod's crazy motion means a world of Jobe in his future. Not to mention there are so many more jokes you can make with the name Wood, but I won't lumber those out right now. Oh, and they should sign Juan Cruz, too--lots of strikeouts. Much better for the defense, when they don't have to defend.

Then there's the second base dilemma, also known as "how much was Minaya drinking the day he gave Luis Castillo a four year contract?" I'd wager Omar was part of the test project for legalizing absinthe in the U.S. Perhaps the Mets can dump him (that is Castillo) somewhere--the White Sox are reportedly moving Alexei Ramirez to short, and perhaps Castillo would be just the kind of guy Ozzie Guillen would like around in the clubhouse to abuse. That has to be worth something. What should the Mets get in return, you ask? Peace of mind, my friend, peace of mind.

And if you've read this far, it's time for the portion of the program known as "come dream with me" or "all free agents can be ours." It's a ridiculous feature of any and all hot stove essays, so who am I to tamper with tradition? I want Manny. He was so good when he came to LA last season, he made me a Dodger fan. That's true baseball magic. New York should be big enough to deal with his flakiness. And I love the idea of a top of the order that goes Reyes-Beltran-Wright-Ramirez. The other 5 guys might not matter. And if that can't happen, maybe go for Adam Dunn for a high-salary/low-years deal? After all, in my fantasy I've punted on defense, so what the heck.

As for starting pitchers, resign Oliver Perez. He's a flake, but he's our flake. Plus he's younger and leftier than the other big name free agents (not to be confused with the flat out big free agent CC). Then try to get Derek Lowe, but in the contract make sure he promises only to give up grounders to the left side of the infield. Everyone will be happier that way, except for the vendors selling the Mr. Met Buddy-Blindfold™.

Finally, there's bench building via cheap free agents. Eric Hinske can be useful in a variety of positions, as the Rays found out, in particular hitter. Get him. Erubiel Durazo is available and should be signed simply because his name is mellifluous. Ray Durham might be a helpful counterbalance to Castillo if we can't dump him--he made Rickie Weeks a better player in Milwaukee once he arrived last year. So at the least he's motivational. And then there's spunky Craig Counsell--the Mets need to sign him not because he's any good, but he's the kind of player they supposedly never have and need to be more hard-nosed and competitive. Plus he might be able to fit in to Super Joe McEwing's old uniform. And if they lose, we've got a scapegoat.

Oh, and Omar, since I'm sure you're reading, if these steps don't work, perhaps try to trade for the Cubs' doghouse (Rich Hill and Felix Pie) or the Marlins' endless going out of business sale--I think you get a Persian carpet with each transaction--for Jeremy Hermida? These guys might not be good, but at least they'll be young. Or is that not "alou-ed" on the Mets?


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