Category Archives: derring-do

Getting tough on MyanmarBurma

After years of US coddling the militant military government of Burma (hey, they used to be anti-commie and if you were sufficiently anti-commie you could torture cats* and grandmothers with US backing), SOMEONE in the Bush administration is finally speaking out against the torture and the oppressive nature of the generals who run the country formerly known as Burma.

The catch is, the administration official out front on this issue is Laura Bush, not the President. I applaud Ms. Bush’s speaking out against torture, asking the UN to take action, and hinting that the US is ready to take steps as well, if Burma’s government does not back down.

I’m glad that at least ONE Bush seems to display a moral center. If the Bush regime had earlier condemned and taken action against other repressive leaders and totalitarian governments before, during and after the mission creep known as the Iraqi conflict,  the ‘we’re attempting to help the people of Iraq’ answer on the spinning wheel of why we are in Iraq would have had a lot more resonance.

Kudos to someone for finally speaking out loudly in this (or any administration) about the horror that government in Burma. Thanks to the BBC, I understand that using the name Burma is a subtle linguistic slap at the military junta running the joint (they’re the ones who changed the name to Myanmar). Burma it is…

*I am not implying that Bill Frist is, or has ever been, a communist.

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Filed under derring-do, politics

From ‘Wild Thing’ to ‘George Herman Ankiel’ – kudos

If you’re much of a baseball fan you’ve heard of Rick Ankiel. A few years ago, Ankiel was a flame-throwing pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, touted to be in the Cardinals rotation for years to come, But then, he lost his mojo. He missed home plate as often as charter members of the Anorexia Club. He suddenly could no more throw a pitch to his catcher than Sam Brownback could seriously pitch his agenda to the Gay Alliance. Seriously, it was awful. Unless you are a die-hard Cub’s fan, you had to feel sorry for the guy. A young man destined for stardom suddenly saddled with ‘Steve Blass disease’

He kept trying to make a comeback, but the moment he hit the mound his ability to pitch deserted him faster than comedy club dates for Michael Richards. I saw him once in Memphis on approximately his third comeback. Even in the warm-ups he could barely get the ball to the catcher. In the actual game, he walked the first two batters, hit the third batter, threw a couple of wild pitches, walked the fourth, fifth and sixth batters before being mercifully relieved. I really thought I was present at the end of Ankiel’s career.

But, not so fast, Mr-know-it-all…Ankiel was always a really good hitter. Not just ‘a good hitter for a pitcher’, but a man who knew that the bat was something more to flail three times per plate appearance hoping that the club would accidentally make contact with the ball.

So, Ankiel gave up his dream to be a pitcher, and started working in the outfield at pretty much the lowest level of the minor leagues. He was able to make the throws from the outfield without a batter unwittingly taunting him. He continued to hit. For two long years, he worked his way through the minor league system back to the major league squad.

Last night in his debut for the parent club – the Cardinals, Ankiel started in right field and in a twist way too corny for the movies, hit a home run. Not a dry eye in the house from what I read.

Here’s to the folks who don’t give up. Here’s to their hero – Rick Ankiel. May his career continue to be storybook.

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Filed under baseball, derring-do, the shiznit list

Venus rising, or why I’m an idiot: part 137

Venus ascending, Venus oh  Venus. I’m a fan. Venus rocked the tennis world again today by winning Wimbledon for the 4th time. She came in seeded 23 but blazed a path through the higher seeds.    Her serve serrated Sharapova.  The Venus game is made for grass.

I knew full well that the women’s final was this morning at 8:00 local time.  I got up much earlier than that, confirmed the start time by checking the sports listings in the paper and then preceded to slowly amble through a few chores (largely consisting of putting up clean clothes that had been sitting sitting sitting over the past few days) and then piddled around, and piddled around some more and then reading some blogs and thinking about posting again after a week away from the blog and then I looked up at the clock and it was freaking 10:00 and I ran down to the TV only to find that Venus had already won.  I’m a moron.  At 7:45 I was making a note to watch the 8:00 finals.  By 8:00 I had already forgotten.

I’m glad Venus won.  She’s a hero, at least the sporting side of her life.   Any kid that can grow up in Compton and play on those tennis courts and can become what she has become remains amazing in my book.   If she hadn’t lost her focus a couple of years ago, I’m pretty sure that today’s win would have been or 6th Wimbledon title instead of her 4th.  Here’s hoping to better focus for all of us, and a hearty cheer for Venus – still ascending.

venus-williams6.jpg

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Filed under derring-do, the shiznit list

Spiderman, Spiderman, all too human, Spiderman

We watched Spiderman 2 on tee-vee last night.  I loved S-2.  Not so much the original and I’m not hearing much good about S-3.   When I was a kid and all the goodie-goods were reading Superman and Batman, my buddy Kimble and I squirreled away with our Marvel pals: Fantastic Four and Spiderman.

Spidey was my guy.  The writers totally got the pre-adolescent mood swings, the walking-on-air-kicking-ass-with-my-new-keds  followed by the plane being shot down by a snub from the cute girl down the row in home room.   Every kid believes he can soar, and every kid has doubts and every kid (and person) has these tapes that tell them that maybe they aren’t really all that hot.  It could have been a jerk baseball coach.  It might have been a teacher who didn’t take the time or a preacher who just didn’t get much of anything.  You want to fly, but there are so many people who’d love to see you down on the ground or down in the pit.

Ya wanna be a hero, and maybe for a few minutes you are…to your kids, to the person you picked up on the side of the road when their car was over-heated, but in less than a minute your kids see you as human and the guy behind you is honking because you aren’t paying attention to the split second that the light turned green and the boss that loves you retires and a new order beckons.

You can still be a hero, but you can more easily fall short.  You believe and you doubt.  All of that is to say why I love Spiderman…a human super-hero.

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Filed under derring-do, journey, pop cults

Serenity now..or do you give credit when you steal from other blogs..

I borrowed this quiz directly from Thomas Mc who was on his Ihajj at the time. My favorite sci-fi movie of all times (after Star Wars 1 and II) is ‘Serenity‘. This quiz will tell you which Serenity character you are most like…sadly, I’m not the Captain.

Your results:
You are Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)

Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
65%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
60%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
45%
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
45%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
45%
River (Stowaway)
40%
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
35%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
30%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
20%
Inara Serra (Companion)
20%
Alliance
20%
Dependable and trustworthy.
You love your significant other and
you are a tough cookie when in a conflict.


Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz

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Filed under derring-do, journey, pop cults

Occasionally a hockey game broke out, and boyeeee, it was a good one

There was a brawl last night at the Nashville Arena. And yeah, there was some damn fine hockey in between. To say that there was some bad blood between the Preds and the Sharks coming into the game is kind of like saying that the Sunni folk and the Shiite folk have their differences.

I have some advice for Predator Scottie Hartnell. Save us all time and skate directly from the bench to the penalty box. He’s borrowed the mantle of ‘i skate therefore I foul’ from the Inuit instigator, Jordin Tootoo. The very sight of Hartnell climbing over the wall from the bench engenders a Pavlovian response from the striped shirt brigade.

I guess the refs were trying to keep the game under control, but at least some of the freaking 87 minutes of penalties called against the Preds were not worthy of a foul in a geriatric league. Considering the game, sans overtimes, lasts 60 minutes, 87 minutes of penalties might have been appropriate for the 70s Philadelphia Flyers, but overkill for the much-smaller Predator squad.

I now have two 2007 happy place memories: Florida getting thumped by the Commodores in b’ball and J.P. Dumont’s short-handed goal against the Sharks after we held off a 5-3 man disadvantage. When the sharkish refs called the second penalty to give the giant Sharks a two-man advantage, I have to admit that it felt like the Preds were going to leave Nashville down two games to nil. The Predators stand may not have the historical weight of the Spartans in the movie 300, but I’m here to tell you that the Pred’s penalty killing squad are titans (sorry, Bud) and that Dumont’s goal was heroic.

Our budding superstar Radulov scored a big early goal and then preceded to being thrown out of the game for a little-too-rambunctious hip-check. Forsberg, who may be the greatest passer since the days of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, scored two goals of his own. Duuuuumont bagged a pair.

Despite the game-ending fisticuffs, the game last night was as much fun as I’ve had in a crowd since the Music City Miracle. Strangers high-fiving folks they’d never seen before, crowds chanting and singing as they left the arena, and noise unparalleled since Husker Du played 328 Performance Hall.

Note: To the girl in section 331, Row N, Seat 7. Girl, you are an artist with those hand-clapper deals we were given in the previous game. The rest of us used them to substitute for actual hand-clapping or for percussive effect. You played lead. You were born to (wo)man the hand-clappers.

Note to hungry Predator fans: The food at the Arena absolutely sucks*. The moisture-ridden meat-stuff passed off as barbecue should be investigated by the U.S.D.A. or at least the Channel 2 Action Team.

On the other hand, the coffee kiosk by the Demombreun street entrance gives good java. Jack, the proprietor will give an extra shot or two if you are a regular.**

*I’ve given up on my campaign against the word ‘suck’. It’s much akin to arguing against the regularity of the tides. I’m sick of suck, but I have to admit, at times last night the refs were more than SUCKY.

**Another in a immature series of superstitions related to sports: The coffee kiosk has two lines. Jack always works the right side. A variety of females always work the left. My friend, Freddy and I always get coffee between periods 2 and 3. If we get coffee from Jack, the Predators win. If we get coffee from the ‘left’ side, the Preds lose. On Wednesday night there were 8 people in line on Jack’s side and only 1 on the left (apparently other people share my superstition). Of course, we got in line on the right side. You don’t throttle the gods of luck. Sadly, I made eye contact with the ‘left’ barista-person. She beckoned me over mouthing the words: no wait. Freddy and I trudged over and got coffee from the ‘lefty’. You know what happened. It was our fault. Last night, we were as staunch as the Rock of Gibraltar. The right line was longer, but, by God, we stood in that line. I made sure to not even glance leftward. We won, didn’t we???

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Filed under derring-do, hockey tawk, Predators

Supply-side Robin Hood, or, Jack Bauer in tights?

BBC America has begun showing a new Robin Hood series*. I’ve seen the first episode twice now (On Demand, thank you!) and I’m looking forward to the next.

I think most kids back in the day (and maybe now, I dunno, my kids are grown) relished the Robin Hood legend. The ‘steal from the rich and give to the poor bit’ satisfied young egalitarian hearts perhaps, but what really got the young hearts pumping were those cool bow and arrow tricks, doses of derring-do, sword-play and last second rescues.

Robin Hood, even though he was actually royalty, was a man of the people, even though he had to share Sherwood Forest with deer ripe for the poaching.

People of my generation are in like Flynn with Errol’s twinkling eye portrayal of the legendary equalizer. Later generations may think of Richard Greene or the aging Robin played by Sean Connery. Sadly some may know none other than the odd rendition of Kevin Costner, whose English accent weaves in and out of his ‘Robin Hood’ movie like so many errant arrows.

The new Robin is played by somebody I don’t know much about: Jonas Armstrong. What makes the new R. Hood palatable to the non-egalitarian set is that this Robin actually suggests eliminating all personal taxes and only applying what amounts to a sales tax at the market place in order to stimulate the local economy. What hath Laffler wrought?

The series begins with Robin returning from the Crusades with one dim-witted sidekick. He manages to toss off a few rescues in the first few minutes before arriving home to discover that the tyrannical NEW Sheriff of Nottingham played by the wonderfully diabolical Keith Allen is running the joint with his equally eee-vil deputized Sir Guy of Gisborne.

Egads,  Robin Hood is dueling with the over-reaching governmental forces who are entrenched deeply into the lives of the peasants, who are basically financing the banquets of the royalty along with their fair share of the Crusades.

So, if you catch my drift, this Robin Hood rolls with conservative swagger (future episodes hint at the mis-use of the terrorist labelling so there may be some ‘fair and balanced’ forestry going on here). Despite my childhood fascination with the Jesse James aspect of the Hood, the new supply-sider still does plenty of cool tricks with the bow, and manages to pull off what I suspect will be at least one seriously rocking rescue per show.

The only problem I have with the series so far (I’ve only seen one episode) is that the bad guys are really better actors and more interesting than the actor who plays Robin Hood. Nonetheless, despite my lefty-leanings, two arrows up for supply-side Robin Hood.  It looks like a fun ride.

*The new series is actually shot in Hungary.   I”m guessing that the labour costs in merry old England caused the capitalist film-makers to abscond for the non-union Sherwood Forest film crew.

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Filed under derring-do, pop cults, TeeVee