Friday, October 9, 2009

It Has Already Been Established That I Watch a Lot of Baseball in October OR Fun With Links!

Last night, Buck Martinez made a comment about Bobby Abreu, currently playing right field for the Angels paying tribute Abreu's early days as a member of our own Houston Astros, and the values he gleaned from the Astros' great players of the 1996 - 1998 heyday: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, and... Ricky Gutierrez?

As incomprehensible as it was to me that Martinez would group Gutierrez (career homer total 38! career RBI total 357!) with probable Hall-of-Famers Biggio and Bagwell, I let it slide, because as a rule, MLB color commentators are known for being off-kilter, bad at their jobs, or generally insane. Most of them are former players, and they've sustained enough head injuries in their lives that the actual broadcast journalists who provide play-by-play know enough to blithely ignore the many batshit things the color guys say (see The Exception That Proves the Rule).

However, just moments ago, sideline reporter Mark Fine referenced Buck Martinez's comment, paying specific attention to the Ricky Gutierrez part, and speaking of Gutierrez as though he was one of the true clubhouse leaders of the late 90's Houston Astros.

For those of you who did not follow the team during that time, allow me to state, for the record:

No, he was not. Bags & Bidge were. Ausmus, kinda. Gonzo, maybe. Even crazy-as-all-getout Carl Everett, in his own crazy way (Everett should be an MLB color commentator, now that I think about it). Never Ricky Raccoon.

Now you know the rest of the story you didn't ask for.

All for now.

Be Prepared an 11:30 p.m. Eastern Start Time

Because it's gonna be Dodgers - Angels. I'm calling it.

It was obvious to anyone not wearing Sox GogglesTM.

All for now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No New Information Here

This world is mean, and awful.

It doesn't take much to make me happy. I just want everyone else to be happy, too. But when you are faced with negatives everywhere, it clouds and challenges your ability to be happy.

I've been beaten, and beaten, and beaten some more, and I don't know that I can continue to hold out hope that success is possible for me. And unfortunately, it's a repeating cycle. You'll never win in a situation where they can already tell that you think you'll lose.

Maybe it's because I refused to approach success from a competitive standpoint. I didn't want to believe that it was "me vs. them." I wanted to believe that we all could win.

It's as though nobody else wants you to find real, sustainable happiness, because they're not sure there's enough to go around. They don't realize the greatest maxim of love, that the more you give, the more there is, which, surprisingly, I still believe.

God, I feel worthless.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yeah, I Know I'm a Crappy Blogger. Step Off.

TBS, what the fuck happened? You've been so good, and then you pull this stunt? The MLB Playoffs are still baseball games, not an episode of Lost. Stop getting fancy with all your camera angles, and zooms, and crooked closeups, and just show us the game.

Also, do the Cardinals have a facial hair police? Because they SHOULD.
Dodgers are going to rock this series.

All for now.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Internet, Approve This!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the introductory number for the partially developed / never produced Batman: The Musical.

Wait, what’s that, you say? Back up? Glad to.

In 2002, a Batman musical was in development to be produced by Warner Brothers on Broadway. Keep in mind this was during the dark, dark ages of Batman when the last we had seen of the Caped Crusader in any real context was Schumacher’s Batman and Robin in 1998, which, according to many people, never actually happened.

This musical was a collaborative effort by Tim Burton, Jim Steinman, and David Ives. To reiterate:

Tim Burton – the maddeningly inconsistent visionary who can be so right (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood), and so wrong (Planet of the Apes, Batman Returns) with considerable aplomb.

Jim Steinman – former songwriter / producer for Meatloaf (Bat Out of Hell, and trust me, you can hear it in the song)

David Ives – genius playwright (All in the Timing, Polish Joke)

Interestingly enough, Steinman and Ives were the team that brought the Michael Crawford vehicle Dance of the Vampires to Broadway, which is the modern musical’s equivalent of, well, Batman and Robin.

How David Ives got mixed up in all this bu11sh1t, I’ll never know. Suffice to say, he did.

Anyway, Batman: The Musical languished in development for years, before finally, and thankfully being abandoned. However, Steinman has a website – Dark Knight of the Soul, where you can find five song demos. I’d love to discuss them all with you, but I’ll whet your appetite with this one, and let you visit the site yourself.

Now, onto the song itself:

0:01 – Meatloaf Piano

0:25 – First lyrics are in latin. Classy move. ClASSy

I don’t know what you people think the citizens of Gotham City sound like when they’re singing, but if this isn’t it, then surely there is no God.

1:12 – On a serious note, this Salvation Army woman makes my pants tight.

2:17 – Looks like it’s gonna be a dark one tonight!

Then the Salvation Army Woman and a streetwalker join forces… now I know this is just a demo, so there’s only one voice singing, but still, this streetwalker and Salvation Army woman have disarmingly similar vocabularies. Could they be related in the play? God, I hope so.

3:47 – First appearance of the boy soprano (insert your own Robin joke here).

This goes on for a few more maddening minutes, plus more Meatloaf piano.

6:34 – the piano heralds the arrival of our hero, musical Batman.

7:01 – at long last, we hear the voice of our hero, and sadly, it could very well be Tom Wopat (

The lyrics become so Meatloafian I become convinced that Batman is wearing a billowy white poet’s shirt and he’s carrying a lacy hankie.

7:47 –“I Work The Graveyard Shift” – har har! So do all the unemployable white people who work at gas stations!

8:20 – Someone fails to finish re-writing his lyrics before he shows it to the Batman / musical crowd (a sizeable number, they can almost all fit in my house) for approval.

9:41 – This song is still going.

10:25 – Now, for some reason, the singing stops and the piano just takes off. Could it… could it be that musical Batman is now dancing? One can only hope. If he is, it’s some sort of lusty folk dance better left to a barn full of Irish immigrants.

11:18 – Now, Batman earns the audience’s approval by whining.

12:30 – Someone drugs Batman just as he is finishing the song, and you can hear him collapse on the piano as the song concludes, an inexplicable 12 and a half minutes after it first began.

I'm Just Gonna Say It

The Rangers were better than the Twins and Tigers this year, and yet one of the latter two will be in the postseason instead.

I think baseball is structured better than just about any professional sport, but this illustrates a glaring weakness in the playoff structure.

All for now.

Monday, September 28, 2009

When It Comes Down To It, Who's Really Signing That Contract Anyway?

A whole crapload of interesting stuff happened on Mad Men last night (and as you can see, it's having an effect on my eloquence), but nothing else that happened (and I mean NOTHING, you Peggy-Duck enthusiasts) beats what went down in the penultimate scene of the episode, when...


... Bert Cooper laid the ever loving *smack* down and played a card he'd been holding onto for three years.

I love TV moments like that. The old coot's not so doddering after all, is he?

His eyes did something I've only seen another actor do once. In the God-awful campery that is The Devil's Advocate, Al Pacino looks at Keanu Reeves' mother and asks her if it's her first time in New York. As he does so, his eyes lean down and lick that poor old woman's soul. Robert Morse showed off the same move tonight, but with his littel pointy beard, it's sure to have tickled extra fierce.

All for now.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

You Bet Your Bippy

I went to an opera last night without singing.

Oh, it happened.

All for now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It Might Seem Like I'm Not Writing

But I am. Just not here. Writing in other places is well-known (in some places, like my brain or Vancouver) to slow down my blog output enormously.

Hot and cold, hot and cold... get used to it.

All for now.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Here's One That Oughta Get'cha Talkin'

If you haven't seen this yet:

Some ingenious entrepenuer has found a way to make a killing by offering to take care of your pet after the rapture. Chances are, if you believe in the rapture, you probably believe your dog can't get into heaven.

I'm not going to pass judgement on that opinion, but I will tell you that I don't believe it can be heaven without them, no matter what my Teachings of the Catholic Church class says about heaven and your memory of life on earth.

All for now.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Love Among the Ruins

Mad Men's crowning glory is it's innate ability to identify cultural turning points and touchstones and interweave them into the fabric of their story so we can watch their effect on the characters, making their story the story of a generation.

In this week's episode, the series nailed one of the big ones with aplomb - Ann Margaret in Bye, Bye Birdie, and also subtly hinted at things to come. And while most people think of Ann's affect on the boys in 1963, Mad Men directs its focus on Peggy, arguably the show's most interesting character at this point, on the basis of her mystique alone.

The movie version of Bye, Bye Birdie baffles me (compared to the stage show, the movie is an old-fashioned acid trip), but Ann Margaret's appeal is unmistakable, even 46 years later. She can't sing, she's not all that attractive, but as Sal says (to paraphrase), she's got "that." Ann Margaret is the moment, and watching the characters watch her results in the suspension of our disbelief several stories up. It is 1963. In this way, Mad Men is a show about time travel in more ways than a show that's ABOUT time travel.

All for now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August is Slow. What Do You Want?

Yay to Eric Bruntlett for turning in the 15th unassisted triple play in Major League history tonight - and to end the game, no less.

Unassited triple plays are matters of dumb luck, mostly, but I've always had a soft spot for Eric and his beard of bees. Bruntlett is the kind of baseball guy that you want to do well - he did well here, and he's thriving on the Phillies. If they're not extremely glad to have him right now, they're idiots.

So, more blog soon, hopefully. I've been writing a lot, just not here.

All for now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Memo to Good Times: Not So Fast There, Sonny Jim

It's been said that baseball is a game of failure.

The Houston Astros decided to put that theory to the test this week, signing away all of the good feelings in favor of a memorable mini-collapse.

It can't be helped. Everyone knew Chicago and St. Louis were formidable allies. Doesn't take the hurt away, though. Just when I thought I was out...

Sometimes I don't know where I stand with the big Guy, but if he's smiling on me (and he might be, because I'm pretty sure I was funny tonight), then please, please don't let it be the Cubs. Let the NL playoff pool be the Dodgers, the Rockies, the Cardinals, and the Phillies. I can live with that. I cannot abide the baby bears, unless you are planning a wicked rug pull like you did last year, in which case, feel free to surprise me.

All for now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Memo to Good Times: Feel Free to Roll

It's been said Baseball is game of failure. Average three hits out of ten tries, and they might very well put you in the Hall of Fame. You win sixty, you lose sixty, and what you do with the other forty-two is what determines your season.

In a game with all of these cliches in play, sweeping the team leading your division to gain three games on them in the standings is about as good as it gets, especially in the dead of July.

Our Astros have something to play for.

All for now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

We Like Roy!

At-bat #1: Manny comes up with two outs, bases empty. Roy Oswalt pitching.

Strike one.

Strike two.

Strike three, on the most devastating, agonizingly slow curve ball I've seen in real time. I couldn't believe I wasn't watching slo-mo.

Adding some shading to this situation, Roy Oswalt has been one of baseball's most outspoken anti-steroids ambassadors, and one of those seemingly above suspicion (that is to say, if his name came up associated with PED's, I would not only be surprised, I would be bitterly disappointed).

Manny, at the very least, appears to have taken the attention from this matter and endeavored to show remorse for his actions and a desire to change. That does not change the fact that he is guilty, but it is at least the right thing to do. As the senator from NY said to Charles Van Doren in Quiz Show, "I don't think an adult man of your intelligence should be congratulated for simply and at long last telling the truth."

So here comes Roy, on a perfect summer night in Chavez Ravine, to the mound to face the recently returned hometown hero (how fitting for LA is that he's a rent-a-celebrity?), and the Wizard completely overpowers Ramirez with the force of his talent. It was a definitive, emphatic statement, the kind that will fly completely over the talking heads at Baseball Tonight.

At-bat #2: Ramirez comes to the plate, grounds out to third. That's just good baseball.

All for now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Think it's Worth Noting

...that sometimes things aren't my fault.

I don't like being held to a different set of rules that someone else doesn't have to follow. If you get to behave a certain way, then so do I. And if I don't, you shouldn't be able to, either. This basic principle will keep us from having to go to war.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Ryan Reynolds is playing Green Lantern, which would've been fine if he were going to be Kyle Rayner, but making Reynolds Hal Jordan is something with which I will have struggles. If anything, anyway, Reynolds would've been a far more appropriate Wally West version of The Flash. You know this to be true.

All for now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

We Could Be Better Than the Rest

Quiet summer night you are
a comforting companion in
those times you have to listen when
there's really nothing there

I wish the stars could see me but
we've hid them all away inside
a blanket made of brightness if
you live close in to town.

Friday, July 3, 2009

For Your Consideration

As we approach tomorrow's July 4th holiday in the United States, I would like to take a moment to write about a man who I think, among the living, most embodies the American ideal: Pete Seeger.

When Pete Seeger passes, I think one of his enduring legacies will be his insistence that we all sing along with him. A tireless environmentalist, civil rights advocate, supporter of peace and first amendment rights, he and his indelibly American banjo will be most remembered singing songs along with his audience - sometimes to the point where you got tired of his effort, but therein lies the core of the man. Playing the standard "This Land is Your Land," written by his personal friend Woody Guthrie (Seeger's 90, after all), Pete Seeger becomes every American - a creature obsessed with wants and infatuated with the promises that America holds. What's rare about him, perhaps unique among prominent public figures (particularly musicians), is that whereas many Americans in his situation want these things for themselves or their progeny, Seeger wants them for you. That's why he wants you to sing along. In Pete Seeger's world, you're the star of the show.

How fantastic is that? While we fret over the United States of America's slow morph from democratic republic to capitalist oligarchy, Seeger frets on the banjo and helps turn the latter into something for the former. And before you say it, I KNOW, I KNOW, it's much easier in music than it is in practical, everyday life, but if art is a representation for our ideals, well, then, it gives me hope.

Happy 4th of July.

All for now.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bees Are on the What Now?

BEEKEEPER #1: Kind of quiet today.
BEEKEEPER #2: Yes... a little TOO quiet, if you know what I mean.
BEEKEEPER #1: I'm afraid I don't.
BEEKEEPER #2: You see, bees normally make a lot of noise. NO NOISE means - no bees.
BEEKEEPER #1: Hm, I see what you mean.

A BEE flies by.

Oh, there goes one now.
BEEKEEPER #1: You mean your Chevy?
BEEKEEPER #2: ...yes.

Apparently, the Padres have been storing a mound of sugar they got from a jack-knifed sugar truck they found on the side of the road. Seems they want it all - the the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows, the creamy middles... Oh, sure, they may offend some of the blue-noses with their cocky stride and musky odors... they may not be the darling of the so-called city fathers who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk of what's to be done with Homer Simpson.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bye Bye Backe

Brandon Backe was designated for assignment on Friday evening to make room for Felipe Paulino to come off the disabled list and start Saturday night.

This was the right move, and Paulino emphatically proved that by pitching one of the best games of his career last night, but I can't help but feel bad for Backe, mainly because he provided this franchise with some of it's very best good times.

Win or lose, big-time drama seemed to follow Brandon Backe. He was the only pitcher I've ever seen strike out the side on 9 pitches. Brandon was the starting pitcher for the NL Wildcard Winning game in 2004, as well as the game 3 win in the NLDS that year, and perhaps the greatest game I've ever watched from start to finish live, game 4 of the NLCS that year, wherein Backe pitched eight innings of one-hit ball (would've been two hits if Beltran hadn't made an unbelievable catch in the eighth to rob Tony Womack of what probably would've been a triple had Beltran missed, since Berkman or Biggio would've had to chase it into the visitor's bullpen to retrieve it). That game... there's not much more I can say about it if you've seen it, but if you haven't - well, it was one of the best single nights of baseball EVER.

In 2005, Backe was the starting pitcher for the 18-inning Chris Burke game, and although he didn't do much to help our cause, you couldn't help but feel his presence in the middle of the action, rubbing bats for good luck and shouting at everyone who could hear him, offering encouragement and just being a generally good teammate. Then, in the last game of our World Series, down three games to none, Backe went out and pitched seven shutout innings against a hot-hitting White Sox lineup, essentially saying, "I'm not going to be the one who loses this for us." It's that kind of effort in big moments that endears him to you as a fan.

Since he's from Galveston, you get the feeling that he's closely associated with this town and this team. It's easy for him to root for the Astros because he grew up with them, and we root for him because of that.

Unfortunately, you don't become a good baseball player in only the big moments of your career. If the moment wasn't big for Backe, he did not thrive, and we got used to cringing at his line after a mid-season start - eight earned, too many walks, innopportune homers. More often that not in the last three years, that was the Brandon Backe we knew.

He didn't get any better this season, and truth be told, he was a long-shot to make the team anyway. He lasted as long as he did because enough people out there felt like we owed him for all the good times. I'm as sorry as anyone to see that the good times have apparently come to an end.

Good luck, Brandon.

All for now.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No, I'm Not Going to Start Making Crystal Meth. Stop Asking.

I have a Breaking Bad inspired plan for the next few blogs. Stay tuned (but not really, since you can just come back here and check, and staying tuned to this blog would be kind of silly given the erratic nature of my posts).

All for now.

Just Like That Singing Nun

Spending some time with the kids has gotten me to thinking about a few of my favorite things, so I thought I'd share with you a few that maybe you didn't already know about. I know I don't need to tell you much about my television habits or baseball, but I can't promise that some of that stuff won't sneak in there. I also know that in most cases I'm not breaking any new ground, but what the hell, I'm just putting m'self out there.

This list is not by any means comprehensive, and I've taken efforts to keep it somewhat short and eliminate the things that are really obvious, b/c chances are if you read this blog, you already know something about me. Also, these things are either somewhat new, or I just haven't really explained myself about them.

Kate Micucci / Garfunkel & Oates
The Crazy Ivans
Blues Traveler (a joyous rediscovery)
Joshua Radin

Speedy Centerfielders
Slick-Fielding Shortstops
Smart Catchers
Efficient Pitching

Summer Movies
The Hangover
Staaahhhr Trek
The Silverado 19 Tomball IMAX

David McCollough
Rodris Roth
The recently resurrected Seanbaby
The Onion AV Club

Lover of Strife
The Bloggess
Alan Sepinwall

Television / DVD / Internet Viewing
Jim DeShaies
Hank Schrader
Barney Stinson
SlumDunder Mifflinaire
Dr. Horrible

Summer Food
Sabra Classic Hummus
Green Grapes
Whataburger's Honey Butter Chicken Buscuit
Unsweetened Iced Tea
Jimmy John's
Beefsteak Tomatoes & Cottage Cheese
Rocky Road

Charlie Palillo
Music From the Movies
Eric Ladau
Wait...Wait... Don't Tell Me! & Car Talk (back to back!)

Dog Snuggling
Crepe Myrtles

All for now

Friday, June 26, 2009

I Went to Camp!

And now it's over, hoss! Children are not the boss of me no more.

Every now and then, I consider going into teaching as a profession. Then I do camp, and I'm glad I don't do that nine months out of the year.

I'm all achy and creaky and all I want to do this weekend is sleep.

Anyway, there's nothing like not being able to blog that makes you want to blog, but then you can't remember what it is that you wanted to write about in the first place, so *fart noise.*

Do you think living in the 18th century would be cool? Then come visit me for a week and I'll convince you that it certainly was NOT. Oh, sure, you could find clean water, but the teeth, my friends, the teeth! And jobs and nature were plentiful and there was no need to worry about being blown up by a nuclear nuclear, but there was no asteroid defense system in place! We didn't even know we needed one. And sure there was no urban overcrowding in the American colonies, but then again... bears. And there was no baseball yet, so I don't really know what you're talking about when you tell me you'd like to be a wood turner and live in Philadelphia in 1775. Chances are you'd have a soldier quartered at your house, doing your wife and eating all your food, so *fart noise.*

*Fart noise* on the whole bunch of it!

All for now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

The most sublime opening segment to a sitcom episode comes from a late-series episode of Cheers, a perfect bit of character comedy, transcripted here for your pleasure:

A Man enters through the front door.

WOODY: Welcome to Cheers, what can I get you?
MAN: Beer, please.
WOODY pours.
You know, you can't go home again. The old saying's true. Twenty years ago, my job took me to Alaska. This is my first time in Cheers since the 60's, and everything's different.
Points to the stairs leading up to Melville's.
That staircase, you know, it used to go up the other wall... and the floor used to be all ugly green tile. They've even changed the paneling.
WOODY: Where?
MAN: Over there, behind Norm.

All for now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Not That This Comes as a Surprise

It's a lot more fun to watch a team win than it is to watch a team lose.

All for now.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Tug Means Pull Me Up, Two Tugs Means I'm Out of Air

It turns out Bill Brown is off because his mother passed away. These Apples wishes him the best.

I am about to enter the History Camp zone, which means you are very unlikely to be hearing from me between June 8 - 26. Camp eats my lunch for breakfast. I barely have time to do anything other than working with our campers, and that precious extra time is devoted to getting all of my other daily work stuff done.

I haven't exactly been setting a record pace here, so I don't suppose you all will miss me terribly while I'm gone. Nonetheless, an explanation prior to the abscence will keep any surprise kvetchers from kvetching so fraughtfully.

All for now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Whozzah? Wha...?

Where was Bill Brown tonight? Not that I hate Dave Raymond, but...

Bill Brown has been the voice of the Astros since my childhood. When the time comes, and there's no indication that it may be coming soon, I want the opportunity to say goodbye properly.

I'm operating on the assumption that Raymond was filling in for Bill tonight while he took a well-deserved night off.

Word out.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seven-Thirty-Seven Down Over ABQ

Okay, I'm gonna try this, and I'm starting with the season finale because if I decide to abandon this project next year, no one is bound to notice.


No, "ABQ" did not stun me the way the way last week's "Pheonix" did. "Pheonix" had me talking to the couch pillow while my dogs stared at me like I was a crazy person. "Breakage" saw me pacing the room, shouting at my television. "Negro y Azul" kept me from sleeping that night. "4 Days Out" had me sick to my stomach with anxiety.

"ABQ," as far as season finales go, is one of the best I've ever seen, and yet it's not as good as at least four other episodes from its thirteen episode season. How awesome is that?

I should clarify at this point if it isn't abundantly clear that I am now a full-fledged Breaking Bad fanamaniac. I am totally caught up in the world Vince Gilligan has created. The withdrawls I experience until Season Three premieres at some point in 2010 may be on par with anything Walt can cook up in his RV.

Why on earth has NBC (I'm singling them out because of their dismal failure this year) not picked up the AMC model for TV-making? Find a genius, allow him complete creative control of his series, and let him do what he does. Allow him to hire quality writers / directors / actors who are free from trying to please network censors, and the ratings will come. Breaking Bad, while not the same story as The Big Bang Theory's stunning rise to prominence, has made a significant jump in the ratings between this year and last year on the strength of being THAT GOOD. I know that doesn't necessarily work for all shows, particularly comedies, unfortunately, but maybe NBC would benefit from cutting some of the fat and focusing on becoming a critical darling for a few years. It's a better bet that some of their shows will actually get popular. I know this is unfair to The Office and 30 Rock, which are both awesome, but the general truth about NBC is that it is in real trouble as far as scripted programming is concerned.

Now I'm pretty far off of my original topic, which was to again extol the virtues of Breaking Bad's incredible second season, and to let you know that to avoid completely cutting the show out of my life for nine months, I will gladly come and watch it with any of you, and then talk about it. Or just talk about it after you watch it. Please, folks. I need more people in this club so I can geek out about it.

All for now.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jingo All the Way

I feel like the media is trying to fire Cecil Cooper.

The Houston Chronicle's Jerome Solomon and Richard Justice, and 790 AM's Ted DeLuca and John Lopez have been talking about nothing but the firing of Cooper for the last two weeks, speaking of it as though it were a foregone conclusion.

In the last decade or so, sports media has been building to something, that until recently, I did not realize was really starting to bother me. There are no "sports reporters" anymore - they've been replaced by sports editorialists, who are more often than not personalities.

Look at Richard Justice's blog, for instance. At first, I was going to complain about how the blog, which started out as a(n intended) humorous side project between columns had morphed into a blathering irrelevancy that started to bleed into his proper columns, but then I realized that all blogs are basically that, and having a blog as part of your official workload is the problem in the first place. Some editor somewhere (I'm sure Houston is not alone here) decided that the cult of personality was going to be the savior of print media, and started requiring columnists to keep blogs.

Thing is, we don't tune in to sports media for their opinions the way we do entertainment and dining critics. Sports reporting used to be news with a little bit of analysis thrown in. Now it's all - I can't use the word analysis because it seems too lofty for what these guys do - criticism. Non-constructive at that.

Of course, we don't need Sports news the way we used to. We DVR the games so we can see what happened for ourselves, and now even the most casual fan can use the internet to get the latest on Brandon Backe's rehab assignment or the pitching staff at Salem that's supposed to be on the rise. But boy, do we love to discuss it.

So sports personalities help us facilitate that. The good ones (like Charlie Palillo) stand apart from the pack, stating the facts and letting them vent, and when they do offer up an opinion, it's reserved and backed up, and it almost never feeds into the hype. The Chronicle and the Monsters go it the easy way, by picking up a big stick covered in gasoline and sticking it into the embers, igniting a huge fire out of something that was simply meant to keep our feet warm.

This leads me back to where I led off: I'm sure discontent within the organization has led some to question the security of Cecil Cooper's job. But I would bet you dinner at Fogo De Chao that it was far from a foregone conclusion, and that cooler heads might have prevailed before guys like Solomon and DeLuca stuck their big gasoline-soaked sticks into the mess and made it an issue that couldn't be avoided. Now everyone who follows the Houston Astros has been innundated with the nonsense of "Cecil Cooper should be fired" to the point where half or two-thirds of them believe it to be true because this is their sports *news,* after all, and they start clamoring for Coop's head, booing him at home when he comes out to make a pitching change or something. And Drayton McLane, one of the biggest sheep in the flock, hears this, and decides that the manager has to go.

Maybe Cooper needs to be fired. I don't know, and I don't want to discuss it. My beef is with the sports media for creating a situation in which he has to be. They've made themselves a part of the story. It's irresponsible journalism, and I am sorry that it had to end this way for a decent, hard-working guy, a guy who will probably be a lot more forgiving towards his transgressors than I would be.

All for now.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Sunday's Breaking Bad Finale

If this doesn't get you watching, nothing else will -

I was also reminded today at lunch of an image that has to make the top ten, but I don't know what I would cut out: Walt smashing the hell out of that paper towel dispenser after he gets the update on his cancer.

Just fantastic. I've been thinking about this show all week!

All for now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Save Walter White

I've mentioned this a few times already on this page, but if you haven't seen "Breaking Bad," you've got to see "Breaking Bad." If you like your shows about crime and drugs and cops and dealers, and refracted views of money and family and the American idea of success, this is your show.

In tonight's episode, which is one of the most arresting hours of T.V. I've ever watched, Walter's son launches a fundraising website called "Save Walter White," and it's the most poignant damned thing, because every week it gets clearer and clearer that this man cannot be saved. One of the major themes of The Sopranos when it was on is that people can't change, and AMC's two big shows - this and Mad Men, which is brilliant for a variety of other reasons - pick up that mantle and run with it in a big way. If you couldn't get into Tony Soprano because he wasn't identifiable to you, then Walter is the man with which you need to start spending your Sunday nights.

It's a a little premature since the Season 2 finale is next week, but I want to celebrate the show's ability to create moments with a list of my ten favorites from this Season. So, yeah, maybe this will change in seven days, but for now:

10. The cold open with Badger and DJ Qualls
9. Tio and the Burrito
8. Skinny Pete gets robbed by Spooge and the Skank
7. Saul talks his way out of being murdered
6. Hank's Brewery - both scenes
5. Walter, Skyler, and the facial mask
4. Walter shows his baby the money
3. The tortoise explodes
2. Walter confronts the up and coming dealers outside of the home improvement store
1. The last scene with Jane

You let me know if you want to watch this show, and I will watch it with you. Be warned, though - I'll be half watching you to see your reaction.

All for now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Need a Sheep

Pete, our Aussie Shepherd/Terrier mix, won't stop herding Rosie, our black lab mix. Whenever he senses I'm about to head upstairs for the night, he goes to get her, and follows her upstairs, nipping at her heels. Moreover, he'll often trap her in the kitchen or a bedroom, and I may not notice until I hear her whining. Then, when I look over, he's standing guard in front of the door, just looking at her.

Pete loves having a job. I've got to think of one for him that doesn't drive Rosie crazy.

All for now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Keep the Doctor Away

What's that, you say? What's the deal with you and apples? Well, since you asked...

The name Milillo means "Little Apple" in Italian ("mili" - Apple, "illo"- little). When I learned this in May of 2005, I started using "Red Delicious" as a joke monniker, although Red Delicious apples are not known for being particularly large or small, but the cultivar itself is reknowned for being resistant to disease, which becomes important later in its formation around my self-identity.

Apples can be helpful in preventing dementia, lowering cholesterol, decreasing cancer risk in the lungs, colon, and prostate, and eaten regularly, help keep your weight under control (of course, if you eat lots of apples, you're probably less inclined to consume buckets of lard).

Although it was right there in front of my face, I never realized how important apples were in the cultural consiousness. In Norse mythology, they are associated with eternal youth, and in Greek mythology, they are a forbidden fruit. The Judeo-Christian story is likely well-known among this readership.

An apple, according to legend, got Isaac Newton started. Apples are also strongly associated with Louisa May Alcott, whom many of you know I slept with once. Johnny Appleseed (who lived in the area now known as Ohio, which is where you'll find the bulk of the Milillo cultivar) is a key figure in early American folklore, and one of our nation's first animal-rights activits.

After China and the United States, Italy is known as one of the world's leading producers of apples. The name Milillo orginates in Siracusa, a port town on the eastern-most tip of Sicily. Siracusa is where the black death entered Europe. Because our name persists, I find myself bragging baselessley and often about the Milillo's superior immune system (there it is). I enjoy thinking about the original Milillo's as apple farmers, tending their orchards in the hills just beyond the seaside outside of Siracusa, living a simple, peaceful existence. Sure, I know that Sicily carries a stigma, but my people at their core were likely peasant folk. Sure, there may have been the occasional bad one, but don't let them spoil the bunch.

The fruit of knowledge, this vital fruit, this ancient staple of man's diet - it is who I am. Knowing this makes me feel connected to the world, and better about my place in it.

All for now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Professor Thaddeus Q. Tanqueray's Fantabulous Turd Polish

I've added some sites to the right, but don't get excited. Project These Apples is still less than thrilling.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Your Five is Only Half My Ten

This "Top Five" application on facebook is fun for me because it's basically an extension of my favorite type of blog: the list blog. Still, I feel limited by five. Ten has long been where it's at, as David Letterman has taught us.

I don't know, it feels like I can be comprehensive with a list of ten in a way that five won't allow me. For instance, in a list of my five top favorite tv shows of all time, I feel like I did a critical disservice to several of my favorites, both old and new. Sorry, That's My Bush and Andy Griffith, there's no room for you.

Anyway, my lists here will always be ten.

All for now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Bear in a Studebaker

I've been thinking about that part of The Muppet Movie where Rolf & Kermit are singing "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along," which, if you haven't seen it, what? Okay, here:

Anyway, after Rolf sings, "the pitter patter of soles, the little feet of tadpoles," and Kermit corrects him by saying "Um, Rolf, tadpoles don't have feet," Rolf says "Oh, sorry about that," which is very polite of him, because I would have looked Kermit right in the eye and said, "I AM A TALKING DOG, PLAYING A SONG THAT I JUST MADE UP FOR YOU ON THE PIANO."

That would've shut him up.

All for now.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Television and Whatnot

In conversation today, two friends and I observed that even though there doesn't seem to be as much good television as there used to be, what's worth watching is great. Without further ado, here is my list of ten shows you should be watching if you're not. For the most part, I'm not breaking any new ground here, but that doesn't make these recommendations any less significant. Bottom line - give each of these shows at least a three episode trial period, and be prepared to explain to me why you didn't like them.

1o. Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire - saw the pilot episode tonight, and I'm sold. It's a sword and sorcery comedy that hilariously glosses over and misinterprets fantasy fandom the way Hercules and Xena used to. That may make it seem a little behind the times, but don't worry - it's also just funny in a slightly anachronistic, wildly cheap-looking way. Comedy Central, Thursday nights (I think).

9. The Big Bang Theory - aside from being one of the Barenaked Ladies' final projects as a group (they did the opening theme), it's a truly smart, and even though it's a sitcomy as sitcoms get, an uncannily accurate representation of general geekdom. As a side note, Jim Parsons, who plays the aspbergerian Sheldon, is a Klein HS grad and a former member of Infernal Bridegroom. 7 p.m. Mondays, CBS

8. Important Things with Demetri Martin - it's hit or miss, but when it hits, oh mercy. Martin's humor is so smart that some sketches will require repeat viewings. If Sesame Street grew up and became a sketch comedy show, this would probably be pretty close. Comedy Central, Wednesday nights.

7. The Office - do I really have to get into this one? If you're familiar with it, but haven't watched in a while, you really do need to catch up. Several character paradigms are about to shift dramatically. NBC, Thursday nights.

6. 30 Rock - And while you're enjoying The Office, give Liz Lemon and the gang some love. This show is entirely too classy for its' own good, and owes a huge debt of gratitude to the fate of Arrested Development for NBC having the balls to keep it on the air. Watch it! NBC, Thursday nights.

5. Breaking Bad - If you haven't seen this show yet, be prepared. It will take over. It's already climbing in the ratings, and I'm expecting it to have Sopranos-style juggernautitude (yes, I just made that up!) by the time the third season comes around. How do I know? It's already been picked up, fools! AMC, Sunday nights.

4. John Adams - it's a miniseries, and it's over. I don't care. Go out and rent it if you don't want to buy it sight unseen. You will skip lunches for two weeks to save up and get it. Every moment of it is monumentally important and serves as a crucial reminder of the kind of people who made this country. HBO, run finished - available at all DVD outlets.

3. Kings - Ian McShane. You want to hear a man talk, you can't find a better hour and place to listen. NBC, Saturday night death slot.

2. How I Met Your Mother - I have such a hard time selling people on this one, and I can't understand why. Yes, it's a traditional three-camera sitcom with a laugh track, but no laugh in there is sweetened or cheap. Plus, it provides a dynamite five-person ensemble: Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, and Neil Patrick Harris, an impeccable sense of continuity (even better than The Office in this regard), and many, many quotable, memorable moments, often associated with one Barney - wait for it - Stinson. This show is firmly ensconced, does well in the ratings, and will finish on it's own terms - but that doesn't mean you should put it off until it's over. CBS, Monday nights.

1. Mad Men - what can I say that hasn't already been said? One of my favorite plays is Night and Her Stars, a Richard Greenberg piece about the quiz show scandal of the 1950's. The language is gorgeous - no one writes like Greenberg... except these guys. Watch this:

thank me later, and watch Mad Men. They're replaying the 2nd season right now, and the 3rd season kicks off this summer.

All for now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Should Explain

Julius Caesar. That's why you haven't heard more from me lately.

We'll get something going after April 5, promise.

All for now.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This is a Scare Tactic, Right?

I mean, there's no way that the Astros are this bad... at least I hope not.

Wait, do I? I love baseball, and will probably watch a butt of games this season anyway, but as long as losing 100 games doesn't result in Oswalt, Berkman, and Pence being sold off for spare parts, would that really hurt so much this year?

From an economic standpoint, probably. Houston is one of those towns that refuses to sponsor you unless you're the biggest and the best always. Still, it would be nice to have dibs on one one of the top three draft picks in 2010.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Then Something Went Wrong with Faye Wray and King Kong

It's time to discuss an issue in my geekery:

The Order of the Stick is this fantastic little webcomic that I love to read, but I'm consternated by the slowed output of it's creator, Rich Burlew. On the one hand, I feel I have no right to complain about something that is free and otherwise wonderful, but at the same time, it's very difficult when a story is at a critical juncture for strips to stop appearing three times per week and start appearing once every 7 - 10 days. And this isn't something recent, either. It's been months, man.

I know whatever is causing this - writers block? distractions caused by the release of his next book? - is not my business, but at the same time, I feel some sort of explanation would assuage my frustrations. And it's minor, I know it's such a minor thing in life, but lately I feel like the defining trademark of being a fan is setting yourself up for disappointment - whether it's Steven Page leaving BNL or 30 Rock ingnoring the secondary characters that made it so appealing in the first place - and I don't want that. And more than anything, I don't want another Firefly - a situation where I get so completely enthralled with something only to have it yanked out from under me.

So, Rich - in the extraordinarily unlikely event that you read this, let your fans know what's up. Or, if it's simply because you've become wildly successful, and therefore lazy, well then, get your ass back to work.

All for now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scheduled Spring Training Television Broadcasts

Obviously, you'll need FOX Sports Houston in order to view these games.

Thursday, February 26, 12:05 p.m., @ ATL (ESPN)

Friday, March 20, 12:05 p.m. vs. CIN

Monday, March 23, 12:05 p.m. vs. FLA

Tuesday, March 24, 12:05 p.m. vs. NYM

Wednesday, March 25, 12:05 p.m. @ STL

Tuesday, March 31, 6:05 p.m. vs. ATL

Saturday, April 4, 1:05 p.m. vs. CLE (at Minute Maid Park)

Otherwise, you can catch games on the radio, usually on 790 AM. Most games are day games - 12:05 p.m., but it's all subject to change. For a complete schedule, go here:

If you're listening on your computer, you can get the entire MLB radio package for $15 / year, which is a tremendous bargain.

Let 2009 begin!

12:05 p.m. Central on AM 790 (Houston)

End of Winter
by: Eve Merriam

Bare-handed reach
to catch
incoming curve.
Leap higher
than you thought you could and

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Deleted Scene from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"


(Outdoors. From Peanuts, the “Psychiatric Help, 5 cents” booth. LUCY is singing to CHARLIE BROWN.)

LUCY: Yes! It’s amazingly true! For whatever it’s worth, Charlie Brown – you’re you!

CHARLIE: Gosh, Lucy! I feel so much better. You’re a true friend. A true friend.

LUCY: That’ll be 5 cents, please.

(Musical button. Playoff as CHARLIE BROWN crosses the stage to another booth, this one also advertising pyschiatric help for a nickel. Behind this booth sits CHRISTOPHER WALKEN.)

WALKEN: Hello, Chuck. Why so glum?

CHARLIE BROWN: Well, Christopher Walken, Lucy’s advice always seems like a good idea at first, but afterwards, I realize it’s all just a big joke at my expense. I don’t know what to do.

WALKEN: You know, I once had a problem much like the one you are describing.


WALKEN: Yes. You see, one time, I was hosting Saturday Night Live, and Cheri Oteri got the idea up her pants to play a trick on me. She replaced my cue cards with nude images of Savion Glover. All in all, it was very distracting.


WALKEN: It made me feel very insecure, inside. I liken the sensation to being on a Japanese game show where they force you to eat your own dog... or, you know, having someone “thump” you on the forehead. I hate that.

CHARLIE BROWN: That’s terrible! It’s just like how Lucy always tries to get me to kick the football! I know she’s going to take it away before I can kick it, but somehow, I always fall for it.

WALKEN: I don’t think that’s the same at all. Now, listen to my story, because it’s very important. You see, Cheri thought she was making a big joke for people to laugh at, and perhaps she was, but what she didn’t know was that I was waiting for her in her car after the show was over.

CHARLIE BROWN: I don’t think I like where this story is going.

WALKEN: I took her back to the home I keep in upstate New Hampshire. There, under the watchful eye of the wheat fields, I cut out her tounge and taught her the joys and pain of a lifetime of yard work. Until the day she dies from exposure to the sun’s weathering elements, she will trim my hedge maze, grooming it until it becomes a mighty fortress.


WALKEN: You know, people tell me now that they never really liked Cheri Oteri when she was on Saturday Night Live. Still, no one has ever sent me a “Thank You” note. It’s very rude.

CHARLIE BROWN: Listen, here’s 5 cents. I think I’d better be going... Snoopy’s gonna be hungry, and...

WALKEN: Charlie Brown... is such a funny name. I watch a lot of “Murphy Brown.” Have you ever seen it?


WALKEN: It comes on Nick at Nite. Promise me you’ll never appear on “Murphy Brown,” Chuck. Because that would just be, (laughs) too weird!

CHARLIE BROWN: You got it.

WALKEN: That’ll be 5 cents, please.

CHARLIE BROWN: But I just gave you –

WALKEN: That’ll be 5 cents, Chuck. Don’t make me argue.

CHARLIE BROWN: No! No arguments here. Well, I’ve got to be going...

(HE bolts.)

WALKEN: What a strange child.

The End.

I'm Blinding You With Science

FYI - Tomorrow's poem won't be by me, it's something I re-post at the beginning of every baseball season when Spring Training games start. Today is me, though.


Lichen attaches to all sorts of surfaces,
and moss grows on trees
wherever it’s damp.
When it’s warm enough
sure there are ferns to be found,
and conifers are in need
of huge spaces to camp.
Then angiosperms
(those plants that have flowers)
grow in few places and may
bloom only one time
when the weather is right,
and the soil isn’t over-packed,
and the bedrock beneath
must be shale, or it’s lime.
Their pistils burst forth
with one type of pollen
for one type of insect –
it’s taking a chance,
when your needs are so tailored to the world
around you, you’d die otherwise,
and that’s called an advance.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ashes to Northern Ash, Dust to Rosin

This Wednesday is

1. Ash Wednesday, one of the more obviously ritualistic days on the Catholic calendar, and
2. the day of the first Spring Training game for our local nine (or in this case, initial squad of about fifty)!

I'm bringing this up because I will consider giving up a great many things for Lent, but if someone were to suggest I go without baseball for forty days, starting on the very day that it returns to our lives, especially after this past off-season, I would laugh until you gave up the idea, and if you still persisted, I would beat you with a bat and then give you up for Lent.

Ladies and gentlemen, our long national nightmare is nearly at a close. Rejoice, and be glad!

All for now.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stopping By Robert Frost's Car on a Sunny Afternoon

Here's an oldie, but a goodie. One day at UST, a gentleman came to lecture on Robert Frost, and he brought a car that Frost rode in. He parked that car in the middle of the sidewalk on our academic mall. So I wrote this and put it on the car's winshield. It lasted all of five minutes.

Who's car this is I think I know,
he's slowly decomposing, though.
He will not mind me stopping here
to admire the automobile he drove.

My friend, he thinks it strange, you see -
the actions of the university.
The sidewalk is no place for cars
of the Poet Laureate of Kennedy.

He gives my striped shirt-sleeve a shake
to tell me it is getting late.
I hate to quit this old antique,
but see no cause to procrastinate.

The maroon hue is lovely, dark, and deep,
but I wish that it had been a jeep
with mileage that was not so steep,
with mileage that was not so steep.

All for now.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You Should Try Not to End Sentences with a Preposition at.

Taking a cue from The Blogess... I think this pretty much sums up what we've been about so far, wouldn't you say?

Wordle: These Apples

I would like to see someone like Lover of Strife or French Roast try this, as they have written roughly one billion words more than I have.

All for now.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yes, This Blog is Also About Baseball. No, You Cannot Have Another Puppy.

I'm going through withdrawls.

Had lunch with a friend today, talked about baseball. Got back to the office, can't stop thinking about baseball. Even the idea of Roger Clemens rubbing liniment on his testicles can't deter my need to watch grown men throw balls and swing bats.

All for now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Love (n.)

Words fail me
but you
never do.

Friday, January 23, 2009

These Are the Thoughts That Keep Me Awake at Night

Were you aware that in 1956 a pair of commercial jets were involved in a mid-air collision over the Grand Canyon? Thanks to Wikipedia (the - online encyclopedia *wait for it* ANYONE can edit), I do, now.

I know, I know it happened over fifty years ago. One of my parents wasn't even alive then, and it's silly to be terrified about it, but when I read the article, my knees wouldn't work for an hour afterward. I'm still really freaked out about it and I read this article the day of the U.S. Airways incident (the Hudson River one where even those who ordered chicken got fish), which was two weeks ago, nearly.

At the risk of sounding non-specific, some things are just not your thing, man. And flying in an aerro-plane - well, that is simply not my scene.

All for now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This blog is not a winner in 2009.

Anyway, I added some links in the "also good" section, and if you hadn't may I recommend Franz's "A Great Big Ugly..."? It's one of the blogs I follow, and it operates at a fantastic level of genius. Like me, he does not post frequently, but when he does, it's light-years ahead of anything I put up here.

All for now.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm Bill McNeal! On Crack! I like Boys!

I think part of the reason my brain has been so quiet recently is because of the darkness in my soul that is a lack of BASEBALL. We're a little over halfway through the offseason, and I'm really starting to feel it. I want to talk about it, I want to see it, and I really want to hear it. Even the gentle hum of a spring training exhibition in the background would be an all-healing salve for me about now.

I had a fever the last couple of days, and I thought it was attributed to bacteria or a virus, or something, but it is not. It is baseball fever. Now put our your cereal so I can sneeze in it, because it's the most delicious fever of all to have.

All for now.