Monthly Archives: March 2008

Baseball where it’s meant to be..

Meant to be watched, that is…In a bar with the sound down.   An engineer, a high school basketball coach, a Radio Shack manager, a executive car deliver-er, and a state employee walk into a bar, just like they have for the past 25 years.  The bar is Brown’s Diner, and the occasion is annual: The opening of baseball season the way God intended: Baseball in the daytime and in the country of origin*.

Our ritual pre-dates the dawning of the sports bar (at least in Nashville).   We all love the cheeseburgers at Brown’s and they have always had these cheesy 19-inch TV sets mounted on the wall (well, they once had a so-called large screen for a short time, but the thing broke and nobody ever fixed it, and then one day it disappeared and the cheesy 19-inch TV that was there BeFore the large-screen reappeared, and all was right with the world).   Since Terry the bar-tender (and owner) was always a big baseball fan, we knew that the opening day baseball game would be on the tube.

Some years we finagled the afternoon off and nursed Bud from the bottle(s) as long as any game was on.  Some years, like this one, some of us have to hie on back to the workplace.  Every year, the conversation overtakes the game until something dramatic happens.  The Yankees usually appear at some point and the rest of the crew makes fun of me and the pin-strippers.  It’s all as comfortable as a worn-in pair of sweatpants you look forward to putting on when you get home from a rough-ass day at the orifice.

It’s not trendy or remotely the best place to watch a game.  What it is for a few hours is the best place in the universe.  Baseball opening, spring welcomed and friends laughing.   Today was our 25th anniversary.  Not all of us have made it every year, but at least two of us have been there each appointed time (I’ve been there 23 out of 25 years).   We are grayer, paunchier and some of us have lost a step or two, but for those few hours it really doesn’t matter one iota.

*nothing really wrong with Major League baseball played in different countries, but it should be played in the USA for opening day.

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Filed under baseball, friends and family

Wired to the tubes, the best five TV shows ever

Thanks to Jagadiah’s Buffy-a-rama, I felt the need to place Buffy in the pantheon of great TV shows. The best shows, in order:

1. The Wire – HBO’s opus about Baltimore owes as much to Charles Dickens as to the brilliant observations of David Simon and the incredible stable of writers. If Dickens was a 21st century writer living in Baltimore, the Wire is pretty much what he would create. Yeah, it’s an indictment of the war against drugs, public education in the inner cities, bureaucracy in the police force curtailing real po-lice work and political corruption, but wrapped up in the most entertaining and well-designed series in TV history. Hard to get into if you don’t see it from the beginning, it’s a show that demands careful viewing from the beginning.

2. Seinfeld – Literally NOTHING can be said about this show about ‘nothing’ that hasn’t been said before. It’s comedy GOLD and produced more idiomatic phrases to the culture than any show in history: high talker, close talker, low talker, soup nazi, sponge-worthy, anti-dentite, shrinkage..etc. etc. etc. One of the complaints about the show after the first few episodes is that there was no story-line. From that point on, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld managed to cram more story-lines per episode than probably any show in history. Watch the episode about the Kramer’s cigar store ‘indian’/TV guides/Russian cable installers, and a baby shower. Amazing.

3. Homicide: Life on the Street – Baltimore’s dark pre-cursor to ‘The Wire’. Real po-lice work written and driven by people who knew the territory. Made NYPD Blue (another good show) look frothy and light.

4. Sopranos – The first 3 years are just about as good as it gets. The show was never really about the ‘mafia’. Organized crime was the hook to pull you into the cloistered world of the families involved. Relationships between a husband and his wife, the husband and his shrink, and the husband and his ‘lieutenants’ managed to be endlessly fascinating.

5. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – The thing I like most about this show is that even though the town featured in the show was positioned over the ‘mouth of hell’, the show played it ‘straight’, as if the gaping jaws of hades were just another facet of town life, like the square or the main drag. The main cast was pitch-perfect and the ongoing Spike and Buffy romance was the crazy diamond shining on, and on.

You may have other opinions about the best shows ever, but I’m pretty sure I’m right…

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Filed under TeeVee

Pith(ier) in the Wind: Mise’ hors de scene…

Liz Garrigan and the Nashville Scene have decided to tidy up their ‘Pith in the Wind’ blog. The only writers that will regularly appear in PITH will be Garrigan, Bruce Berry, Jeff Woods, and Matt Pulle (big coup to get Pulle back), with occasional posts by ace blogster, Roger Abramson. Quite a nice line-up there.  My only real complaint is that Jim Ridley is not one of the chosen few. Ridley is buttah as far as I’m concerned.

Other than the seasonal lopping of the contributors, the PITH blogroll has been scaled way-way back. Many local blogs including this one have been expelled, cast off into blogging nether-lands. At least they left one comedy blog on da roll. In lamentation of this event (and after reading Aunt B’s much better poetic plea) I have written a bad version of perhaps the worst most famous poem* in all the world.

I THINK that I shall never jog
Upon anything quite like a blog.
 
A blog whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the linkage of blogrolling’s breast;
 
A blog that examines itself most days, 5
And for readers each day it dearly prays;
 
A blog that may in summer flag
life intruding is SUCH a drag;
 
A blog Upon whose bosom the Scene had linked;
sent a reader or two or three I think. 10
 
Blogs are made by fools such as we,
But only Liz Garrison can pith on me.

Tanks for the linkage memories!

*Joyce Kilmer’s Trees …shudder…

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Filed under blogs about blogs

Stay out of MY inner-tubes, or, WHERE has that robot been, anyway?

I’m no stranger to the colonoscopal experience, given my personal and family history, and I’ve often wondered if there is another way, so to speak, that is more than virtual, but less than what I’ve gone through more times than I’d like to admit. So, when I read about robot colonoscopies, my interest was piqued. But when I read the following…

researchers are developing self-propelling probes that crawl inside the colon and grip its sides with the aid of sticky films.

the old school colonoscopy didn’t seem so horrid. The movie Alien was scary enough with aliens popping OUT..don’t think I want em’ crawling in, thank you very much.

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Filed under weird science, where could it be now

4,004 30,000 100,000

Random numbers? Hardly. These are the latest counts of American dead, American wounded and estimates of the Iraqi casualties of the current war in Iraq.

The hubris wrought by this war goes further than dollars and mountains of debt. It is mocked by the graves, the maimed and the lives that will never be the same.

Now that we’ve been entrenched in this morass for so many years, it will be beyond difficult to get out. This election seems to be hinging on so many issues except this war. Yeah, the issues relate to the war – the debt we suffer because of the war DOES effect the economy, but despite the selling of the surge, we are a long way from home.

Despite how you feel about all this, this war should be a paramount issue in this election. We can’t allow obfuscation. We must insist on the real cost, both economically and in the human psyche.

What will those running for President do to undo the damage in foreign relations and out standing with the rest of the world? I do believe our relations can be salvaged, but I’d like to hear what these folks think they can do.

Mostly, I don’t want us (myself included)  to forget that a lot of people have died and are suffering because of all this.

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Filed under Iraq, politics, sanctity of life

Magdalena

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That’s Magdalena on the left (my wonderful daughter on the right). Magdalena is Erin’s ‘host sister’. She’s 16 years old and tighter than a tick with my daughter. This picture is from a restaurant in Lima where we ate the best cerbiche’ known to man.

Magdalena doesn’t have any English and my Spanish is pretty much limited to ‘banos?’ (bathroom) and ‘agua sin gas’ (non carbonated water), so Erin had to translate. Nonetheless, Mag thought I was hilarious because I asked her silly questions and made fun of the traffic cops in the intersections with their dramatic hand signals and gestures. We laughed about boy friends, the amount of bracelets and necklaces a person could possibly wear at one time, about the fact that her baby brother pretty much has the same name as her older brother (thanks to grand-dad who makes the rules around the house) and lots of other stupid stuff.

As we were leaving she told Erin to tell Lynn (my wife) that she must be a lucky and happy woman to live with such a funny man. The true meaning and aural sensation of the word ‘SNORK’ could be encapsulated by the the sound emanating from Lynn’s mouth and nostrils accompanied with eye-rolling worthy of a gold medal if the Olympics elected to add eye-rolling as an Olympic sport.

Personally, I’m thinking Mag is pretty dang smart, and boy does she have a great smile.

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Filed under friends and family, journey, travel

the best letter in the Rock world (or this post is brought to you by the letter ‘R’)

My first post on Glen Dean’s old group blog about music (Tangled Up in Blue) was about which letter had the best bands..as in, come up with a list of bands that start with each letter of the alphabet and then decide which letter ‘wins’.

I supported the letter ‘R’ back in that day, and I remain fiRm in my stand. I’m guessing that the vast majority of humanity would join together in a collective shoulder shrug and a chorus of ‘who the hell cares’, but hey, I’m a life-long insomniac and this is one of the things I think about trying to go to sleep. I’ve listened to some form of ‘rock’ (yeah, the word is out-dated, but I can’t think of any other single word that comes close to describing the genre) since I was 9 years old (and spent many restless nights since..).

‘R’ kicks butt. Think about it: Ramones, Replacements, REM, Red House Painters, Rolling Stones, Raveonettes, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, Roches, Roxy Music, and Roots, not to mention the first names of many great solo artists: Ryan Adams, Roy Orbison, Randy Newman, Regina Spektor, Richard Ashcroft, Richie Valens, Roseanne Cash, Rufus Wainwright, and Ry Cooder.

Arguments against ‘R’ range from REO Speedwagon to the ghastly unmentionable.

What bRings all this to mind is a link that leapt off the page from the wonderful Chez Bez blog informing me that the new REM CD (Accelerate) is being streamed in its entirety over at Ilike. I truly have been a fan since I heard ‘Gardening at Night’, many many years ago, and like so many other fans, had begun to think their best music was behind them. They had seemed to lose their way and anything resembling a sense of humor (see Ramones, Replacements). And then, I listen to the joint, and it rocks. Not like anything since Monster (which I mostly loved), but this one is better. Really.

Sometimes I think that the whole thing is played, but then something like this or the new Radiohead comes along, and I believe all over again. Rock on, R, ruler of all the letters…and now I’m going to try to get some of that other R.E.M…

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Filed under music