Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Seven days left. Seven days to see if we give Bush two more years of the blank check. So far, every public relations blow-up seems to be going against the GOP. Which is good.

But you know what? We've seen this before. Rebublican leadership has one week to bust out the big guns. I believe they'll try. And experience tells us the Dems'll be anything but blunt & tough in their response. So far, during the skirmishes leading to the culminating battle, I'm surprised no one's talking more about Saddam's verdict and sentence coming down 48 hours before Election Day. I'm surprised Democrats aren't hammering more at the inequities and shaky fundamentals in the economy. I'm surprised advertisements aren't focusing more on the concrete failures of the last 6 years. In all areas, not only Iraq. I'm surprised Bush's lies & incompetence aren't always in the spotlight. I'm surprised every ad doesn't include the name "Bush" early & often. Bush should be the main character in this story.

Is it "fair" for every Democrat links his Republican opponent to Bush? Yes & no. Not to the degree that rank-and-file GOP congresspeople had little to do, affirmatively, with the policy brush-strokes of the past half-decade or so. Especially if they served only two years.

But on the other hand, every member of Congress (Democrat included) has been complicit in national policy, if only through passivity in the face of Administration directives. And if someone's likely to continue that passivity, or even worse, actively foment hard-line strategies, then that person's gotta go. And simply playing the odds, who's more likely to fall into those categories?

The passive? Slightly more likely for a Republican, but the Democrats get no free pass on this count. But the active? That's the crux of this year's election. It's that large body of "normal" GOP Representatives and Senators that need to go. They may not want to support Bush anymore, and they may even pay lip service to opposing him. But you know what? They won't.

Because they can't. A position that creates hurdles for the party leadership's program, means death next time around: no money, no campaign help, no quid pro quo on sponsored legislation next term. To be sure, the Dems also will remain beholden to lobbyists, corporate influence, and pandering to quasi-official bodies like the Fed. But, for all that, it's in their best interests to actively & directly oppose an unpopular President. And what the hell, strange though it'll look after 25 years of backsliding, political suicide, and a failure of will, maybe the Democrats will actually do that. And if they do, it'll be good for the country. And that's why a lesser-of-two evils approach, which I've always railed against, is the answer right now. Unpalatable as it is in the ideal, in the abstract, it's the only reasonable choice in 2006.

One week left. Let's hope they don't screw it up.

Monday, October 30, 2006


He's in Connecticut today, campaigning with Joe Lieberman.


I'm not saying that anything's up, or that anyone planned, orchestrated, signed-off on, or otherwise designed this with any alterior motives. I'm not saying anything.

I'm just saying that:
The Court will announce the verdict and sentence in Saddam Hussein's trial on November 5, 2006. That'd be two days prior to U.S. Election Day.
8 days and counting. Hail Mary time approaching.


Once again, it's Monday morning, which means another episode of Random Flickr Blogging, as sponsored by Tom at If I Ran The Zoo. I figure you all know the drill by now, so here we go with "img_0336," posted by "EFC 2005-2006" on November 21, 2005:

Despite breaking out his most revolutionary rhetoric yet, Dave was unable to to rally the party-goers, who chose to drink and frolic instead.

Friday, October 27, 2006


One day after "Sneering" Dick Cheney glibly declared that the decision to treat a suspect to a little "dunk in water" is "a no-brainer," both President Bush and Tony Snow(job) insisted that Dick Cheney did not endorse waterboarding or torture.

One Day Later.

I believe Tony's fictional predecessor told the citizens of Oceania something along the lines of "we're at war with East Asia and allied with Eurasia, we've always been at war with East Asia and allied with Eurasia," mere days before declaring that "we're at war with Eurasia and allied with East Asia, we've always been at war with Eurasia and allied with East Asia."

At this point, how far are we from George Bush saying that 2+2=5, one hour before Dick Cheney explains that 2+2 is actually 3, with Snow declaring the following day that 2+2 has always equaled six, and that both the President and Vice President said as much the day before?

The United States has always resembled the Soviet Union and Red China. We've never had a Constitution or . . .


After last week's MLB-inspired semi-hiatus, back today with a standard, Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day, with all the inspired hijinks, goofiness, and random tangents & digressions you'd expect. Or maybe no one expects anything. Nevertheless, without any further ado, today's FSMOMYOTD:

Bugsy Malone

Yes, Bugsy Malone. The first (and I'm guessing only) gangster film starring children. The first (and I'm asserting only) time that Scott Baio shared top billing with Jodie Foster. The first (and thank god last) time Scott Baio got top billing with anyone.

(Make your predictions right now for the over/under on cheap-shot Scott Baio jokes for this piece. Done? Ok.)

Was this flick alternatively titled, Jodie Loves Chachi? You see, I couldn't hold out for even one sentence. Scott Baio, like his "Uncle" Henry Winkler, just screams out for mockery. Go back and watch an episode of Happy Days and tell me your first thought isn't, "Wait a second. I thought Fonzie was cool when I was a kid."

So Bugsy Malone, as far as I remember it from my one-and-only viewing 30 years ago, was a standard-issue gangster story, complete with wise guys, thugs, molls, bosses, and the power struggles and romances that drive the genre. Except this one starred children. Including Scott Baio.

Miller's Crossing it ain't. Oh, and another thing I definitely remember: instead of bullets, the tommy guns shoot a creamy, white substance that looked like melted marshmellow. When you combine that with little girls dressed as dancers and "gangster gals," it makes you wonder what was on the director's mind.

And the director was none other than Alan Parker, who later helmed Fame, Angel Heart, and Midnight Express. If you think about it, in addition to men with long fingernails, men who bite off ears, and men who sing and dance while wearing legwarmers, all three movies feature gratuitous tit shots. Not that I'm complaining, believe me (though come to think of it, Irene Cara's "moment" was gratuitously gratuitous). But Bugsy was his training ground apparently. Parker also directed The Wall, complete with not only gratuitous tit shots and a hatred of women so profound it's disturbing, but a series of cartoon representations where nearly every character is penile, vaginal, or both. Remember the Judge in the Trial?

Anyhoo, back to Bugsy. So we got kids shooting each other with white cream, and Scott Baio as a tough guy/leading man. Is that all? Hardly. The actor that played "Fat Sam" was John Cassisi, who went on to play one of the nasty kids that "Fish" and his wife adopted.

In case you don't remember, Fish, played by Abe Vigoda, was the grumpy old cop on Barney Miller, one of the 70's better sitcoms. For some reason, the producers felt that a TV series starring the sad sack actor (who played doomed sad sack gangster "Tessio" in the Godfather), his screachy-voiced wife, and five obnoxious & nasty foster children would be a good idea.

It wasn't.

Anyway, Cassisi played the oldest of these lovely kids. He was basically the same character he played in Bugsy Malone: a fat bully. A fat bully who had it out for Scott Baio. Where was the Fonz when this was going on?

Jodie Foster I'm gonna guess we all know about. Who else was in this? Sheridan Earl Russell, who I've never heard of, but I note that he later appeared in Lords of Discipline, one of those movies that every guy my age has seen, because it was always on cable (no relation to The Lords of Flatbush, which saw a pre-Fonzie Henry Winkler playing a Brooklyn thug along with a pre-Rockie Sylvester Stallone). It was about torture and abuse at a military institute (hmmm, maybe they were just training today's "Specialists"), and featured gold-glove boxer Mark Breland, Bill Paxton and Judge Reinhold early in their careers, and -- by legislative decree, I believe -- G.D. Spradlin as himself, aka, the scary, uptight looking guy with a vaguely Southern accent whom plays a corrupt Senator, corrupt General, or sadistic & corrupt General (think Godfather II & Apocalypse Now). In this one, he was a sadistic & corrupt General.

Where were we? Oh yeah, Bugsy Malone's cast. We also had Dexter Fletcher. Who, you ask? Well, I asked, so I assume you did too. He starred in The Rachel Papers, a mostly insignificant 1989 British comedy, based on a Martin Amis novel. Now, you've gotta be wondering why I need to riff here on a nobody actor in an insignificant movie right?

In-corrrrrrrrrrrect. Like Billy Crystal's "mostly dead" in the Princess Bride, I said that the Rachel Papers was mostly insignificant. And what, you may ask, is that shred of significance? Well, since I introduced the always-worthy theme of "Gratuitous Tit Shots" earlier, I have to tell you that this one had one of the good ones. Think 1989. Ione Skye (only recently dropping "Leitch" from her name, as well as drug-addled Anthony Keidis, before jumping ship to Adam Horowitz, bastard) had just wowed us with her beauty and decidely mediocre acting talents in Say Anything. And I thought she was hot.

Ok, we up on the background facts? Good.

Then, in this obscure British film she had a nice . . . let's call it bathtub scene, with that scrawny, little British nobody. If you haven't seen it, you're warned at your own caution not to see this movie just for that scene. Plus, as we now know, Ione went on to doff her clothes a few more times as the 90's rolled on (pretty girl, early success, non-existent acting chops. Can "nekkid on screen" ever be far behind?). And if you have seen it? Well, then you know what I'm a' talkin about. Uh-huh.

Finally, since I've all-but revealed myself as the hormone-addled, nearly middle-aged man I am (following my hormone-addled youth and young adulthood), might as well go out with a bang as I finish with Bugsy Malone's cast. As in a cream-shooting-gun bang.

(Oh, and did I mention that Scott Baio, he of the hair-parted-in-the-middle 70's hair, even though Happy Days supposedly took place in the 50's, was the star of Bugsy Malone?)

The last name listed in the credits, among the "uncredited" cast, is Julie K. Smith. I'm gonna be honest and admit that I've never heard of her. But her "resume" tells me that some among my (mostly male) readership have. Born around the time I was, in 1967, she did nothing after Bugsy Malone until 1987, when she appeared in Mankillers, Pretty Smart and Disorderlies (yes, the Fat Boys movie) as "High School Girl," "Samantha Falconwright," and "Skinnydipper #2," respectively.

Yes, that's right. 11 years after appearing in a film with Jodie Foster (and Scott Baio!) she was the number two skinnydipper in a movie in which the Fat Boys played hospital orderlies. Clearly, there was but one direction for her career to go at this point. And that's just what she did: after Angel III: The Final Chapter, and an uncredited appearence in The Last Boyscout (which, when you think about it, is actually worse than "Skinnydipper #2" in Disorderlies), she appeared as Penthouse's Pet of the Month for February, 1993.

And from there, just a series of wonderfully named films, including The Bare Wench Project, The Bare Wench Project III: Nymphs of Mystery Mountain (I guess she was busy doing Seinfeld or Hollywood Squares when they filmed Bare Wench II), Baberellas, The Bare Wench Project: Uncensored (what exactly could be the appeal to the censored version???), Bare Wench: The Final Chapter, and my favorite, The Witches of Breastwick. Now that's a career.

(And speaking of careers, what could be more fun than being the guy who makes up the titles of porn movies? NY Post headline writer, maybe. But that's about it.)

Jodie Foster won an Oscar. Dexter Fletcher shared a bathtub with Ione Skye. Vincent Cassisi played Fish's adopted son. And Julie K. Smith starred in four-of-five Bare Wench movies, as well as The Witches of Breastwick. If only Scott Baio could've followed his co-stars down the road to fame & fortune. Instead, he's best remebered as Erin Moran's boyfriend. Hollywood takes no prisoners.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Just a brief update on the state of the nation, as Referendum Day, aka Election Day, approaches:
The median price of a new home dropped last month by nearly 10%, the largest dip since 1970.

96 American troops have died in Iraq so far this month, the largest death toll in a year.

But it's all cool! Stay the course! Exxon-Mobil posted a $10.4 billion profit in the third quarter! And Bush signed a bill authorizing a 700 mile fence along the border with Mexico! Everything's gonna be great! Rich oil men, no more Mexicans, what else could an American want?
Unless you're a CEO, a real estate agent who specializes in selling, a business owner who prefers to pay $1.25/hour only to Americans, or a government-contracted fence & coffin maker, there's really not much of a choice next month, is there?


AP reports that "youths" celebrated the one year anniversary of last autumn's Banlieu Riots in Paris by . . .

. . . forcing passengers off three buses and setting them on fire! It just wouldn't be autumn in Paris without a little rioting. I wonder if they were in any way inspired by the Hungarian "anti-government" protestors' bold seizure of a Soviet tank?

The sheer chutzpah of the tank move really can't be topped, but marking the anniversary of a week of burning buses by . . . burning more buses has some panache. Those crazy "youths," what'll they do next?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Reuters reports that a new form of cosmetic surgery is sweeping the nation:
Eyelash Transplants
Yes indeed, folks, you read that correctly. For only $3,000 an eye, daddy's little girl can replace her ordinary eyelashes with sweeping, lush, thick versions. Perfect to match her nose, her boobs, her dimples, her blue eyes, her slimmed-down jawbone, and every other manifestation of of her imagined beauty that science rebuilt, reconstructed, rejiggered, and reified. And lest you think I'm picking on women, let me assure you, there's no doctor I'm aware of that'll refuse these services to a man (unless, of course, he lives with his "partner," which might offend the delicate sensibilities of certain Christian fundamentalist cosmetic surgeons).

Apart from my aesthetic and other philosophical objections to this slicing & dicing, it's the economics of it that really concern me. For money, and nothing more, people can turn themselves and their children into "better" versions of their breed. We've all seen the studies indicating that those who are "better looking" are deemed to be more intelligent, nicer, friendlier, and more trustworthy. Hell, deny it though we'd like, we know it to be true in our own lives. Think of co-workers you profoundly dislike. While a handsome fella or hot babe will show up on the list, more likely than not, it's the unattractive that are over-represented. There's a reason movie stars are all great-looking. We like attractive people, beyond the aesthetic or sexual.

And right now, the rich can purchase that cache for their children. I'm not saying that shouldn't be allowed. But it's a reality I can't ignore, and I'm not sure how anyone can.

Slowly but surely we continue to move towards a world where the wealthy can enjoy every imaginable advantage over their less-fortunate brethren & sistren. It's always been true that a wealthy man could marry a beautiful woman, thus ensuring comely and handsome offspring. But with a medical system that rewards doctors for the superficial rather than the medical, as well as a society obsessed with youth and appearence, Huxley's world of Alphas & Betas & Gammas doesn't look to be too far off.

Think about it. We have the ability to clone sheep and dogs and other species. We're able to engage in all sorts of genetic engineering. It doesn't take a genius to extrapolate to humans (I'm no genius and I just did it). And of course, the costs of such procedures will be astronomical, prohibitive to all but the wealthiest. Do the math: two-tiered society at its most fundamental.

In the meantime, cosmetic surgery-for-cosmetic surgery's sake remians merely a philosophical and medical abomination. But with the door to genetics opening ever wider, those of us inclined to give a knee-jerk rubber stamp to cloning and other methodology need to think seriously about what it means for the future of society and humanity. Odds are, most of us and our offspring won't be alphas.

I'm not saying we need to join the Bushes and Santorums of the world in opposition to stem-cell research and other scientific innovation. These methods are here, and they're here to stay. Plus, they can & will legitimately help people to live longer, to live heathier. But, as with everything, those with money & power will use them to their own advantage, possibly to the exclusion of everyone else. Just food for thought.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'll say this for Ned Lamont (other than the obvious thing: he's not Joe Lieberman), he lacks nothing in the Stones For The Big Fight department. Check this out. (H/T Shakespeare's Sister). It includes a video of Nixon talking about Vietnam. Really, give it a whirl.

I'd love to see him actually run this bad boy on TV. Anyway, it's only a matter of time til some pundit, either pro- or anti-Lamont picks up on it, and it makes it onto the TV or print news.


Two weeks.

Two weeks remain until Election Day. And, as reported by A.P., the White House doesn't plan to accede to lawmakers' requests to alter US strategy in Iraq. Apparently, the current plan of sending American soldiers daily into the meat-grinder known as Every Square Foot Of Iraq Not Called The Green Zone is a-ok for the Administration. Dead soldiers (aka, Ready-Made Martyrs), utter chaos, a constant flow of projects for contractors, whether rebuilding, destroying, feeding, clothing, or housing. Perhaps it's all going as planned.

You'll recall Bush's sneering statement, in the wake of the November 2 Debacle of two years ago, that the American people gave him a mandate:

I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it. It is my style. When you win, there is . . . a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that's what I intend to tell Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president; now let's work.

Well, unless that mandate called for a quagmire in Iraq, an incompetent response to a national disaster, wiretapping of citizens, the potential suspension of the writ of habeus corpus in the absence of insurrection or invasion, a constant and nearly humorous flow of lies and dissembling, not to mention an economic "recovery" propped up on debt and monetary feeding of equity and housing markets, then I'm gonna declare his performance for what it is:

A Complete Fucking Failure. And since nearly all Republicans and many Democrats on Capitol Hill were complicit in this failure, we need to hold them to standards representing the American Way: if you fail, you get fired. If you succeed, you get promoted. That's market capitalism, as I understand it. Merit, results, accountability. The consumer doesn't like your product? Well let me introduce you to business failure. Your boss doesn't like your work-product? Have you met the unemployment line? The shareholders don't like your annual earnings? Here's your golden parachute, watch out for the tree tops on your way down.

That's what the mainstream leadership has been peddling for a decade or two now. And it's not necessarily a bad thing. But we need to apply the same standard to the leadership. For six years the Administration and its allies in Congress have promised a simple plan: low taxes to promote the economy, and security for Americans.

Income taxes have remained low, but spending and monetary policy have been profligate, liberal, loose, irresponsible, pick your adjective. And while no domestic attacks have gone down on American soil (at least not since the first one, which occurred on this Adminstration's watch), Afghanistan is as anarchic and dangerous as it was on September 10, 2001, and nearly 3,000 Americans have died in Iraq, under the direction of the Commander-in-Chief. And Iraq is no more secure than it was the day Bush took office. 3,000 lives, uncountable billions, and Iraq's more dangerous, more ungovernable than it was six years ago.

And, to keep this in context of the midterm elections, Congress gave Bush the pre-signed check to prosecute these wars. The Constitution makes clear that the Legislature, not the Executive, declares war. Capitol Hill passed the buck. The Constitution makes clear that Congress, not the Executive, controls the purse strings, which obviously includes financing war and all defense-related spending, including military and quasi-military projects. Congress also renewed the Patriot Act, rubber-stamped all of Bush's appointments including Rice, Bolten, Alito and Roberts, and has remained in a collective state of silence as the Executive branch aggrandized power through a series of ever-bolder executive decrees, signing statements, and unilateral orders in the guise of Commander-in-Chief during wartime.

Enough is enough. The Constitution -- the overarching law of the land that's been trod upon, ignored, and defaced so dramatically the last 5 years it's a wonder it's still intact -- mandates the election of representatives every two years. Every single representative. And, since we amended it in 1913, it also sets up the election of about 1/3 of the Senate every two years. If the American people do the right thing and hold their leaders accountable for the results of the past few years, the balance of power on Capitol Hill will change. And if these new leaders respect and obey the Constitutional system, and take advantage of its perks, then at very least the bastard that sits in the White House will be crippled, as a politician and as a leader, for the remaining 2 years of his reign.

And if the American people don't do so, then we're obviously too far gone for it to matter anyway.

Monday, October 23, 2006


In today's episode of Ain't That Ironical, we learn from Reuters that Hungarians are commemorating the 50th Anniversary of their doomed uprising against the Soviets by . . .

. . . shooting anti-government protestors with rubber bullets and tear gas cannisters.

Hungary's Socialist Party President -- the party which is "heir[] of the communists whose rule was cemented for 33 more years after Soviet troops put down the uprising" -- faces charges that he lied about the economy to secure the last election. Now, with the nation embroiled in protest, the world is being treated to the spectacle of demonstrators seizing an ancient Soviet tank, and driving it through the streets of Budapest towards police lines protecting the Socialist-led Parliament.

Tragedy, irony, & twisted symbolism galore. But I'm really wondering about the following:
* Is it standard to leave the keys in the 50 Year-Old Tank when you bring it out for Uprising Commemorations?

* Do many Hungarian anti-government protesters know how to operate 50 Year-Old Soviet Tanks?

I'm also curious what goulash is exactly, but I'll save that question til we get to the bottom of the tank issues.


In an entry from the "Circle The Wagons, Re-Write The Books, and When All Else Fails, Just Lie Through Your Teeth" Files, we learn from BBC that State Department official Alberto Fernandez, who told Al Jazeera that the US showed "arrogance and stupidity" in Iraq, has retracted his statements. Just one day after State Department mouthpiece Sean McCormick said Fernandez was mis-quoted, Alberto himself claims he re-read the transcript, noting that he "seriously misspoke by using the phrase," which "represents neither [his] views not those of the state department."

And then Administration thugs dragged him back to Dick Cheney's underground lare for further waterboarding.

The parade continues, as "No Accountability," "Ass-Covering," and "Lies" march past the grandstand, to the cheers and whoops of the press and public. Will the much-rumored, but unconfirmed, "Vote The Bastards Out" float ever make it, or will the wheels come off? Stay tuned.

But first, a message from Chevy Trucks, and then a stirring performance of This Is Our Country by John Mellencamp!


Monday Random Flickr Blogging explained by Tom at If I Ran The Zoo. This week's pic was uploaded by "Heather Calkins" on January 14, 2006 under "img_3355."

While none of her friends & family ever disagreed with Traci's opinion that her right breast was "really, really cute," they still felt her performance at the party showed a lack of social perspective.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


In a story more bizarre than anything else, we learn from AP that a Tacoma WA man finds himself under arrest for having sex with the family's four year-old pit bull terrier, after his wife took cell phone photos of her husband boinking the pooch on the back porch.

Ms. McKenzie was unavailable for comment.

Now, I'm not here to advocate that the Ward Cleavers of the world should be given free rein (a longer leash?) to schtupp Fluffy or Rex whenever he feels like it. After all, the attached story seems to show that the pit bull terrier was "squealing and crying" as the lady of the house snapped photos. I don't think animals have "rights," but there's no call to inflict cruelty on them.

So maybe a citation or a "ticket"? Maybe take the dog away? But under Washington state's new bestiality law, this is a felony. This poor sap, who's so royally screwed-up that he fucks dogs, is now facing a felony conviction, meaning he could go to jail! That's too much.

And, if you scroll down to the end of the article, you see that Washington instituted this felony bestiality law last year because a man died after having sex with a horse. The horse didn't die, he did! If we've now reached the point where we need to alter criminal codes to protect those who want to sleep with Trigger, well I think our priorities may be a tad off.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Friday morning, the sun is shining bright, the lusty smell of fresh-brewed coffee fills the room, the--

{screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech -- or something approximating the simultaneous tones of needle across vinyl, collagen across slate, and vocal chords set to "Scream" as fat, androgenous-looking catchers do season-ending homerun trots}

Yeah. It is Friday morning, but it's cloudy & dreary, I brewed a horrible pot of coffee, and I feel like I ate a cinder block last night, which is now sitting in my stomach. Ya see, it should be time for the post I enjoy the most, the one I save for that glorious time known as Friday morning. Yes, it's normally the time for the Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day. But today is no normal Friday, and I'm in no mood for frivolity & jocularity, the Twin Engines that normally drive the FSMOMYOTD.

You see, folks, there is no joy in Metsville (or Mikeville), mighty Beltran has struck out.

That said, I believe Barnum or whoever it was said the show must go on. My heart's up in the branches, and Lasorda's excoriating me to "Get outta the tree! Your Mets lost. So what?" But the fact is, my brain's still too addled with what ifs and oh fucks to really channel the goofy muse needed to make the FSMOMYOTD the comic highlight of everyone's week.

Or something like that.

So, in honor of my tandem need to curl into a fetus position and contemplate ways to destroy Yadier Molina, along with my recognition of my Blogging Responsibilities (excuse me, I need to remove the tongue that's embedded in my cheek . . . hold on, almost {pop}, ok, there we go), I must do something. So, I will briefly discuss three movies I saw in the 70s, representing something distinct about that time, and the films of that time.

And, of course, it'll all fit in with my black mood this morning.

Rocky, Bad News Bears, & Breaking Away. Much in common. Much.

Am I talking about the fact that all three are really kinda silly in their own way, even if not in the way I tend to use the word with this post (i.e., cheesy & preposterous)? Nah. Is it the fact that all three are about sports & competition in some way? Nope. And you know what, it's not even about that fact that two of these classic films of my youth starred none other than Jackie Earle Haley as "Moocher" and of course, "Kelly Leak."

No, what strings them together is the very realistic concept, that very seventies notion that one can win in losing, or lose in winning. A realization we've lost sight of 30 years later, that in a vaguely existential way, winning or losing doesn't really matter.

I mean, make no mistake, as Nuke LaLoosh said, Winnin's better than losin'. No doubt. Everyone should try, and try hard, to win at whatever he sets his mind to. But what matters far more is how one performs, how one integrates the facts of the contest. Where one has come from and where one is going.

Or maybe I'm just rationalizing, and I'm utterly full-of-shit. Who knows. But Rocky lost, yet winning big in the process: his dignity, his spirit, his woman, his eye of the tiger, his opportunities to fight for the heavyweight crown in 4 sequels even though he was about 5'7", and not a very good actor. Rocky was a winner.

You watch that 14th round, goddamn it, and tell that man he's not a winner! (Ok, I'll calm down now.)

Or The Cutters. They win the bike race, sure. But you know they're staying in Bloomington, not to go to the university, but to cut rock, to remain townies, to follow their fathers into the quarry, metaphorically speaking. Because nothing ever changes. The haves continue to have, the have-nots continue to have not. All one can do is fight for his dignity in the battles that come along. We got a race? Cool, let's win it. Cause tomorrow those guys are back in class, and we're back to work. So might as well make today better by winning.

And, of course, my favorite of them all: Da' Bears. I saw this one when it came out, and I loved it. Just ate it up. Coaches with flaws (do they call them "managers" in little league?). Juvenile delinquents on the team, just like real little league. Crazy parents losing their shit daily. I saw crazy stuff like that. One year in little league they decided that parents would pitch, because they didn't want kids walking every batter that came up, which often happened. A player would stand next to the pitching parent, fielding the pitcher's position in the adult's stead.

Anyhow, having played a decent second base the previous season (at least by 7 year-old standards), the coach tabbed me for that fielding-pitcher's spot, along with instructions to cover any plays at the plate. Being little league and all, our catcher couldn't catch, so I was to make sure to actually catch the ball and attempt to apply the tag.

Ok. Game during the season. The "Kelly Leak" of the other team, the kid who bashed every pitch the designated father grooved to him in every at-bat, laced a line drive to the outfield. And this slugging wonder, who wore sweat pants, unlike the jeans the rest of us wore under our t-shirts-as-jerseys, took off around the bases. After our left-fielder, who could neither catch nor throw, yielded to the shortstop who ran out to aid him in his duties, a play at the plate began to materialize.

"Michael, Michael. Home plate," the coach called out, reminding me of my role. I ran to home, our catcher being nowhere around, of course, his will to actually play driven out of him by the coach's stategy. I positioned myself, the fast, big kid bore down on me and the throw arrived.

And I dropped it. But the big kid tried to evade my irrelevant tag, as I scambled to find the ball I'd missed on the first go . . . and the umpire called him out for running outside the baseline! You can imagine the chaos that ensued.

His mother ran onto the field threatening to kill the ump, parents from my team ran onto to the field to protect their kids, or more likely, the ump who saved the run for us. Lost, of course, was the irony that if he'd only ran me over, knocking my scrawny ass into the next town, he'd have been safe. But everyone was screaming and ranting too much to think of such things. Why let your kid commit an act of violence permitted by the rules when you can threaten violence against the guy who volunteered to call your kid's ballgame? What a brouhaha.

So, you can imagine why I loved the Bad News Bears. That's right, because of all the cursing! And because I was just getting to the point where a cute girl who could throw gas, and go on a date with the cigarette smoking, motorcycle riding bad boy intrigued my dirty young mind. But even at that young age, I knew the film was addressing something very real.

Kids wanna win, some very much so. I was pretty competitive and I hated losing. But more than that, kids wanna play, have fun, do cool things like catch line drives, or hit a triple. The winning is actually secondary. They want to play the game.

It's funny, but even as an eight year-old I was already cynical enough to think the truism, "It isn't whether you win or lose, but how you play the game" was complete bullshit. And believe me, having seen Bad News Bears, I knew, and used, the phrase bullshit. That proverb seemed a little too feel goodish to me.

But you know what? Maybe I was wrong. It does matter whether you win or lose, but maybe, just maybe, what matters most is how you play the game. I'm not sure.

* * *

Thanks for indulging me with this one today. Back to a standard FSMOMYOTD next week.


Damn, that sucks. Yadier Fuckin Molina. Not much more for me to say right about now. I'll write about the series and the amazing season the Mets put together in a few days.

But right now, I need to put my head through the wall, which'll make it difficult to type.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


According to AP, the United States government will now call the Ukrainian capital, known before as Kiev, as . . .


Hey man, it's cool by me. I don't care how anyone spells it. But does this mean the official name of the food is now Chicken Kyiv? Chyckyn Kyiv?

It just seems funny to see this printed as a "News Story." Also note at the end of the article where it says, "The Associated Press continues to spell the name of the capital Kiev."

Whatever gets you through the night, fellas.


Barely one month following the death of Steve Irwin, AP reports that a stingray jumped out of the water and onto an 81 year-old Florida man's boat, before stinging him, leaving a one foot barb sticking out of his chest.

And no, I couldn't have made this up if I tried. I'm neither that clever, that demented, nor that obsessed with ocean creatures. But it sure is a weird story, huh?

The guy lived, though he ain't in good shape. And scientists insist, as they did last month, that this sort of attack is exceedingly rare. I dunno.

What I do know is that we need to debate this, and we need to do it now: do the Stringrays hate us for our freedoms, or because we've exploited them with our chain stores, low-wages, and unquenchable thirst for their resources? In the meantime, the bombing of Stingray City -- 100 miles off the coast of Guam and 14,000 feet below the Pacific's waves -- commences at dawn.


Wow. The stooping just gets lower & lower. According to A.P., the letter sent to California Latino voters earlier in the week, warning them that if they are illegal or simply immigrants they could face "jail time," appears to have been written & sent by . . . "a Republican campaign."

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise.

A spokesman for California Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, told reporters that they've identified "where [they] believe the mailing list was obtained," even though he won't yet reveal the specific campaign.

I've tried very hard for a few years now not to pile on the GOP, instead trying to view politicians individually, and not through a party lens. I have enough complaints about the Democrats to fill a campaign war chest. I don't like the Republicans, but I'm no fan of the Dems.

That said, the Republicans seem hell-bent on turning every independant voter into a rock-ribbed Democrat this year. Even if someone wanted to vote Republican, how could they pull that particular lever with any degree of confidence after all that's happened lately?



I think it's safe to say, no one's gonna forget the Maine.

Soooooo sweet. Gutsy performance early on, then straight domination before Willie pulled him in the 6th. What can I say? He out-pitched Carpenter in the "Incredible Shrinking Strike Zone" game last Friday, and he outpitched him last night. He's not a dominant starter at this point in his career, mostly because he throws too many pitches to go deep into the game, but I'm happy he's our guy going forward (to the World Series, to next season, whatever).

And how 'bout Jose, Jose, Jose pulling a Dykstra, leading off by going yard. Fantastic. He looked great last night, lacing line drives, taking pitches, going the other way, running well, stealing bases, turning DPs. Just a clinic in RapidoBall.

And continued production from Green, a timely hit from LoDuca, fine defense including three important double plays. Except for players who's names begin with W, it was as close to a perfect game as you'll ever find. Speaking of which, we find ourselves in a very strange place, adding charm & whimsy to what would otherwise be your standard, wild October ride. Let me explain.

Back in April, we knew we had a good ballclub on our hands. Maybe not great, but damn good. A couple of friends & I do our pre-season predictions every year, which leads to much shit-talking, good natured ribbing, bad natured ribbing, and outright invective. My 75-87 prediction for 2005 left me wallowing in shame & derision most of the off-season. Anyhow, two of us predicted 93-69 for 2006 (the third goon said 85-77, or something equally ludicrous. Hah!), so no one can say he's too surprised to see the Mets facing the Cardinals in game 7 of the NLCS, even with the Mets as home team.

But, here's what is surprising: the Mets forced that Game 7 because John Maine (who?) saved the season with a pitching gem in a game that saw 2nd baseman Jose Valentin (what???) turn 3 double plays, left fielder Endy Chavez (Andy who?) lead-off an inning with a nice bunt, right fielder Shawn Green (for the Mets?) drive in the first run, reliever Guillermo Mota (the guy with the ERA approaching 10 in the AL?) induce Dave Duncan's son (lay off the weed before you write, man) to hit into an inning-ending DP, setting up the final battle for the NL pennant with Oliver Perez (I said, lay off the weed!) taking the hill on a short leash, so Darren Oliver (how much did you smoke?) could come in at the first sign of trouble.

What a season this has been! And what a season I want to see continue, right into Detroit, where we can see the surprises continue, as Tiger ace Kenny Rogers takes the hill against our boys.

(And becomes the first pitcher in major league history to walk in the winning run on the game's first pitch.)

I see only two possible reasons for that not to happen: dead bats tonight, and a blown save by You-Know-Who, about whom I've lost all confidence. I know it'll never happen, but in a save situation tonight, Willie should go with Heilman, who's been straight-out dominant for two months now. Unlike Shaky Bill, Heilman's got the gunslinger look lately. Eyes focused, throwing first pitch strikes, serious gas before drops the changeup in.

I'm not trying to stir it up here, or to get down on Wagner. I'm sure he's a helluva guy, and he could prove very valuable against ALers who've never faced his 97+ MPH gas. But tonight is all about winning one game. Starters going two innings, Glavine coming in to throw 30 pitches if needed, bunts and steals and hit-and-runs. Pinch hitters in the 4th inning. All that sort of thing. And if it means keeping the "designated closer" locked in the pen where he can't do any harm, then so be it.

That said, as it has been all season long, tonight's about the bats, about Met lumber. They're facing a very average major league pitcher who struggled on the road all season. Their line-up is stacked. They've got Jose & Carlos & Carlos all with their heads in the game. And maybe there's someone else who's gonna bring that A game we all know and love. That A game we would have predicted last April.

Tonight, The Wright Stuff appears in Shea. See ya in Motown.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


In the latest chapter of the awful story called, "Let's Ban Childhood," a school in Massachusetts has followed others in Wyoming & Washington and banned the playing of Tag during recess.

Because it's too dangerous.

I'm guessing tackle football, rock-throwing, and fighting are probably out too. At least they get to do math and stand around comparing sneakers and I-Pods.


Oh boy. I don't like writing about the Mets the day after a loss. And last night's loss puts them on the brink of elimination. No fun.

So I'll keep it brief. The bats need to show up. Reyes needs to show up. David Wright needs to show up. All season long, the Mets scored a lot of runs. Off good pitchers, off bad pitchers. They weren't hog-tied by bums like Jeff Weaver or Jeff Suppan or Jeff Kinney (!). Those are three Jeffs that shouldn't be dominating the Mets.

John Maine didn't pitch all that badly last week, considering the impossible strike zone, the same zone that left Carpenter struggling with his control. Heilman is very rested. Wagner (yeah, him) is well-rested. That's not what worries me. The Mets need to hit. Score some runs. Drive guys in. The Dynamic Duo needs to be . . . well, dynamic.

If they hit, they'll win. And then we can worry about the game 7 pitcher and all that fun stuff. Hell, if tonight's a blowout win, and the pen once again gets the night off, we could see 3+ innings from Heilman tomorrow night. Who knows. But tonight (or tomorrow if the rains come), the boys have to swing the lumber.

I remember 20 years ago feeling depressed when my team followed an offensive outburst with a frustrating 4-2 loss on the road. Coming home to face the other team's best pitcher. The best pitcher in the league. Well, we all know how that turned out.

As a matter of fact, while I'm hoping to repeat that outcome, I'm not sure I need quite that amount of drama. But I'll take it. Here's to Game 7.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


From the "What Chapter Of The Little Red Book Covered This?" Files, we learn from AP that:
Xiamen University in the southeastern China city of Xiamen, is requiring law and business students to take golf lessons to prepare them for a business world where deals are made on the golf course.
Two generations back, the Cultural Revolution saw professionals purged as capitalist stooges. Now China teaches golf as a business technique.

Why do I think a lot of us will be working in Beijing in 15 years if we have any hope of earning a decent living?


The hideous "Hurray, We Can Torture Ragheads & Other Bad Guys Bill," which passed last month with little or no meaningful opposition on either side of the aisle, is set to go into law today in a "signing ceremony," with Bush scheduled to use his pen to repeatedly poke detainees in the eye, throat, genitals and anus.

Ok, he's only gonna use it to sign the damn thing, but what's the difference really?

Remember a few things, as Election Day is but three weeks away: no lawyers, hearsay permitted, no writ of habeus corpus, the President interprets & applies the relevant international standards, and most importantly, please remember which of the elected officials in your district either voted in favor of, or did nothing to prevent, the passage of this piece of shit bill.

Torture & Secret Trials: Done in our name, under our flag, ostensibly to advance our system of Constitutional government. In three weeks, we get the chance to tell em what we think about it.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Monday Random Flickr Blogging explained by Tom at If I Ran The Zoo. This week's pic was uploaded by "Claire a Taiwan," under "img_5854."

Joe's friends suspected his pumpkin obsession was becoming a problem again, but deep down they knew the giant Hello Kitty poster in his kitchen was far more troubling.


Now that's better. If the Mets end up winning this series, it'll be hard to explain years later, but Oliver & Oliver's 11 2/3 innings may end up being the key. Between those two stints on the mound -- Darren's at the tail end of Saturday's loss & Perez's at the start of last night's "Get The Bats Working" game -- the bullpen is rested and ready.

Heilman & Wagner (yeah, him) are fully rested, and Bradford, Feliciano & Mota are all coming off relatively short outings. And the bats thundered too. Speaking of thunder, the St. Louis forecast is for heavy showers all day today, so there's a good chance that game 5 may get moved to Tuesday . . . letting Tom Glavine go on full rest as well. There are three downsides to that: Weaver also gets full rest, the Cardinal pen gets the rest it needs after last night's pounding, and you really don't wanna give the Met bats a night off after a performance like that.

But with Glavine's well-documented shortcomings on short rest, and knowing the way he's pitched so far this post-season after a solid September, that one factor may overcome three.

At any rate, the Two Carloses are locked in, Valentin & Wright look like they may be starting to swing the bat, Green continues to contribute. Perhaps the offense is ready to keep this up, in which case none of this'll matter. If Met bats show up, it won't matter whether Weaver has his good stuff or not, and it won't matter whether Glavine gives up 1 or 3 runs in his 6 innings.

And thanks to Oliver & Oliver & Carlos & Carlos, their backs aren't against the wall. In fact, it's a Verge Game, a game that'll leave one of the teams on the verge of winning the pennant. But for now, I think we're on the verge of having one more day to think about this. If that's the case, here's to a relaxing extra day for Tommy G, before he takes the hill to put the Mets on The Verge.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Really not much to say that hasn't been said. Nor will much of it add anything useful to the world. Trachsel was awful, Wright continues to do nothing at the plate, the team had little energy, the Cards are rolling, energized by their stirring comeback Friday night. What can I say? It sucks.

So, a few positive comments, then let's see what happens:

Darren Oliver: If this series ends up happily, Oliver's 6 shutout innings will be seen as step one in the salvage job. Other than Roberto's one inning, the bullpen got the night off. Unless Oliver Perez falls behind badly & early tonight, Willie can go back to his bullpen early & often routine that's been so effective most of the post-season.

Reyes: This is good in two ways. Jose played well, lacing a triple. But more importantly, Anthony, the Cardinal pitcher will start tonoght. He's not good, with an ERA over 5.00. Maybe his numbers are better than Perez's, but the Mets hitters are better than the Cards. If the Mets can simply score more runs than the Cards, then it's 2-2 going into game 5, with both Glavine & Weaver pitching on short rest.

We'll see how it goes. But it has to start tonight, with Met bats punishing a poor pitcher. That one step starts the Mo' back in the Mets direction.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


That sure wasn't pretty. One night after FundamentalFest '06, the Mets completely unravelled. Terrible defense, horrendous bullpen work, questionable managerial moves. Ugly.

Willie's love of Guillermo Mota went one illicit evening too far, as Aaron Heilman, who's only been the Mets best relief pitcher the past two seasons, sat on the bullpen pine during a series of key at-bats in the 7th. Willie chose not to double switch on any of the late-game pitching changes, thus meaning that Heilman, who hadn't pitched since Saturday, had to come out of a tie game after facing four batters, handing the game to Billy Wagner, who'd worked the previous night.

And let's get something out of the way right now: Wagner sucked, he blew it without a doubt. But I've fully expected this sort of thing since before the season began. All relievers not named Mariano Riviera blow big games against good teams in October (and even Big Mo hasn't been exactly lights out since 2000 -- see Gonzalez, Luis; Ortiz, David; et. al.). Plus, early in his career when the Astros reached the playoffs four times, Wagner showed a penchant for pitching poorly: an ERA of 7.71 on 8 H and 4 earned runs in 4+ innings. He was one of the reasons those great Astros teams failed in October.

Whatever. As I said, I fully expected this, so I'm not even surprised. In fact, here's what I wrote on June 26, not long after the end of the World Famous 9-1 Road Trip, in the middle of an otherwise (embarrassingly) praise-filled paeon to my beloved Mets:
I'll acknowledge that the team has one glaring concern, which could cost them dearly . . . mark this now, Wagner will screw it up in October. Unless the Met bats and starters are soooooo dominant come post-season, they'll blow their best chance in 20 years to win it all because the closer isn't up to snuff. Wags has always had the rep of coming up small in big games . . . the Mets winning three straight rounds in the post-season with Billy Shakester coming in for the saves is also unlikely. As my friend, who we'll call F.I., asked me last week, do you hear the sound? The sound of a Billy Wagner trainwreck?
Ok. So was the purpose of this to show off, to demonstrate my negativity-filled prescience at this most inappropriate time?

Well, I'll admit it. A bit.

But mostly to deflect the rage and anger away from Wagner, in order to rationally look at last night's debacle. To repeat, and then move on: Wagner blew a game. We knew he'd blow a game. He'll probably blow one more if the Mets overcome this and reach the series. That's just how it goes. And that's why I find Willie allowing Mota & Wagner to lose a game when The Team's Best Reliever was rested, ready (and on fire lately) . . . and on the bench, most inexcusable. C'mon, Willie. Get in the game!

Anyhow, the bullpen and manager had help: A terrible error in the 2nd inning by Delgado, preventing a likely double play, and at the very least put an extra run on the board for the Cards. But, he also put 4 runs on the board for the Mets, and his glove's been great so far, so how can I blame him?

Green failed to catch Spiezio's triple after it hit his glove. But he also prevented it from leaving the yard altogether, and he's been quite good at the plate, so how can I blame him?

LoDuca's pitch selection on the Spiezio triple and the Taguchi homer (if -- god forbid -- this ends badly, his name may be up there somewhere with Pendleton & Scoscia) was poor. Both blows came with two strikes. But Paul's been hitting great, so how can I blame him.

But, as you see, there are a lot of guys who took back much of what they gave. David Wright also showed zero range on a number of shots down the third base line. And, his bat has gone into dormancy: 2-for-14 with no XBHs since game 1 against the Dodgers. The mysterious second half power surge continues. I'll say this, and I'll say it loud-and-clear: if any Met is invited to participate next year in the Fucking Home Run Derby, if he accepts, he has to go through me to get into the ballpark that night.

Yeah, I know that's not too scary, but someone's gotta step up and do his part. I volunteer.

All that said, there's plenty of good, even in the loss, and I also wanna do my part to keep the Good Vibes Train rolling. So, a short list of what was good:

Jose Showed Up: This is a very, very, very good sign. After really struggling at the dish through four games, Reyes was in the house last night. Drawing walks, running the bases, driving the ball, hitting liners up the middle. I like it. If he shows up like this tonight, it takes so much pressure off Met pitching. All they'll need is one of the Big Three to be at his best, and the crooked numbers'll be going up, and going up early.

Delgado: Scary. Man, he's zoned in.

Maine Wasn't Really That Bad: Look, I'm not blaming the ump, since he called the game equally for both pitching staffs: equally horribly & inconsistently. Neither Maine nor Carpenter had a chance the way he was squeezing them early on. Both guys were uncharacteristically "wild," walking a number of batters. Carpenter issued more free passes last night in five innings (four) than he has since May 9, when he walked 6 Rockies in 7 innings. Maine looked like he had good stuff last night, and I'm actually confident to have him going in game 6 or 7 if it goes that far. With a normal strike zone, I think he goes deep into the game last night. Whereas Carpenter's troubles were related to more than the shrunken strike zone. Hey, what can do? Game's in the books.

Valentin Looked Better: Even though the hit came from the right side, he looked patient at bat last night. Seemed to be trying to stroke the ball, rather than crank it into the seats. The Mets need his bat at the bottom of the line up.

Green, The Secret Weapon: Not to overstate something that may be meaningless, but he's looked as good as I've seen him with the Mets the past three games. His swing is strong, he's identifying pitches early, laying off those downward breaking curves and sliders he often swings over, and when he makes contact, he's been driving the ball with authority. I have a very good feeling about this, heading into the games in St. Louis.

We'll see. Back tomorrow, hopefully with the Happy Recap.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Friday morning. You know what that means. Let's get to it, shall we? The Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day for today is . . .


I saw this one back in 1977 with both my parents, and even though I enjoyed it immensely (the thing was named, "Rollercoaster," so that goes without saying, right?), I knew it was a shlocky piece of crap even at 9 years-old. My recollection of the plot: crazy dude plants time bombs on the tracks of various roller coasters around the US, causing death and mayhem. But as with Jaws & the Amity beach, or the proprietors of any family entertainment center in all 70's disaster flicks, they wanted to keep it all open and running during the busy season. More death & mayhem ensues as our heroes race against time to blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.

Anyway, two things stand out: it featured actual American roller coasters, and the movie was hyped for having Sensurround, which I presume was some early version of surround sound. Much of the camera work was presented from the POV of a roller coaster passenger, and the Sensurround added the sound element, and blah, blah, blah. I remember the theater having a lot more speakers than usual, and the whole movie was really loud. I don't recall thinking it felt like being on a roller coaster, but I was still a few months away from my first roller coaster ride, being too short to get on the friggin' Dragon Coaster at Playland, so what did I know?

And yes, I'm still very bitter about that. I don't even wanna talk about, ok?

Whew. Now then, let's get to the fun part, the Cast: Quite a cast in this one, actually. Among the quality actors who inexplicable found themselves in this disaster (the movie, not the scenes therein): Timothy Bottoms, still in that long transitional period that saw him moving from excellent early 70's films like The Last Picture Show, The Paper Chase, and Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo's movie version of his famous, anti-war novel, later featured in clips from the video for Metallica's "One," to a dependable "That Guy" of the small screen, usually playing fathers, doctors, sensible men & Presidents.

Richard Widmark, was also in Rollercoaster, playing "Agent Hoyt." I'm guessing that anytime an actor finds himself in a disaster flick, playing "Agent Hoyt," we're gonna be in the vicinity of a strong case of Agent Hate. Unbelievably, Henry Fonda also appeared, probably because he owed someone a favor.

Other notables include George Segal, who I believe was required by law to appear in 1/3 of all bad movies made between 1974 and 1981, and Craig Wasson, who starred in Body Double, one of Brian DePalma's patented "controversial" movies. This one, along with Ken Russell's awful Crimes of Passion, starring Kathleen Turner, caused much hand-wringing in 1984 for sex, violence, and violent sex (or was it sexual violence?). Anyway, like any 16 year boy worth his salt, I made sure to see both of them as soon as I could, and as always with such controversies, had no idea at all what the big deal was. One of them -- don't remember which -- featured a woman killed by a giant, industrial drill, which while symbolically heavy-handed, was neither shocking nor titillating. Both movies were pretty boring.

More importantly, Wasson appeared in 1978's The Boys in Company C, a fine Vietnam War movie, which included the first film appearence by good old R. Lee Ermey, best known as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket (no link required for that one, I think we can agree, no?). I haven't seen it in many years, but I remember Ermey in a relatively small role, playing the same crazy drill sergeant he always plays, though there he was sadistic without being quite as funny. That's what you get without Kubrick in the picture ("In the picture," get it? 'Cause a movie's a picture, basically, and . . . oh, never mind).

Also, 13 year-old Helen Hunt playing Tracy Calder. I won't lie and say I remember who that was, but a bet that she played the "cute little girl who either dies or nearly dies in a rollercoaster crash" is the smart money; the late Susan Strasberg, who was a major babe in her day; Stephen Mendillo, who played William Hurt's father in Broadcast News, and was also in Slapshot, and Eight Men Out, in small roles; and finally, Bruce French, who's resume seems to indicate that he's appeared in every show in television history at least once (for crissakes, he was even on Herman's Head, which co-starred Helen Hunt's husband of a year-and-a-half, the great Hank Azaria).

It's all connected, folks.


Earl Weaver would've liked that one. Then again, maybe not. Afterall, Weaver watched the Mets beat his charges 37 years ago by combining strong starting pitching by a left-hander (Koos) with timely power-hitting (Clendenon) and fine defense, including sprawling backhanded gems by outfielders (Swaboda, Agee). Not to mention, Earl supposedly liked 3-run homers, not just those plating two.

But I think Weaver (or McCarthy or Stengel or Mack or anyone else) would gladly have taken a game like that from one of his squads. Once again this post-season, the Mets won by out-fundamentalling the opposition: a starter throwing strikes, opportunistic hitting, and stellar -- I mean stellar -- defense.

About Glavine, Pujols said after the game, "He wasn't good. He wasn't good at all. I think we hit the ball hard. We didn't get some breaks." Hmmm, that's not usually the way to go about it, is it? Then again, this was an uncharacteristic quotation from David Wright: "He made a lot of hitters tonight look foolish, kept them off balance." Then again, like most of Wright's comments to the press, that is complete bullshit. Glavine was effective, but fooled the hitters? Nah. The fielders fooled anyone into thinking the Mets don't play great defense.

Glavine threw strikes, the Attem' Ball was working, and Met leather was in the house: Endy's diving grab off Belliard; Beltran's run & gun strike to nail Wandering Albert off first, a play culminating in one of about 3 or 4 sweet scoops or picks by Delgado, who continues to exhibit the softest hands I've seen in October since Kent Hrbek saved Gagne, Gaetti, Pagliarulo & friends some errors in the '87 & '91 Series (And unlike Kent, Carlos can actually range a couple feet off the bag); Stache's Mad Dash with one out in the 9th, ranging far to his right to grab Encarnacion's hot grounder off Wagner, doing a "Jeter," with one of those leap and throw across the body moves, also featuring in a nice catch by Delgado; Wright making two stabs of line drives, turning one into an easy, inning-ending double play.

And, completing the Fundamentals Trifecta, after Paul "All I Do Is Hit" LoDuca singled in the 6th, The Beltranator returned, absolutely crushing a fastball into the scoreboard. Now, like most Met fans, I've seen balls hit the scoreboard in right center (think of who threw out the first ball last night). And obviously I've seen balls leave Shea's confines on a line. But it's pretty rare to see a hard, line drive homer hit the scoreboard. And his made contact about a quarter or a third of the way up. What a rocket. This is a very good development.

A few other thoughts:

The "Floyd Situation": It's not that bad & it's pretty bad at the same time. Cliff's bat is gonna be out of the starting line-up and that's not good. Plus, his roster spot can't be replaced, so for the next game or two when he'll be completely unavailable, that means the Met'll be playing a man down. Easy to say the Mets should've added an outfielder & not Anderson Hernandez to the Line-up (you see? It's so easy, I just did it. Try it yourself), but what's done is done.

And that leads to the good news: Endy, Endy, Endy. His bat isn't Cliff's, not when Floyd's right, but he's more than adequate. And as to his fielding, well Ron Belliard can tell you about that.

Wright: It's not just the uncharacteristic non-use of the cliche that has me concerned. (And no, I'm not talking about that . . . uhh, beard he's growing, or trying to grow.) His power is just gone. Disappeared. Hard to understand. And with his habit of falling behind 0-2 every at-bat, it's not likely to return. His glove's been pretty good (the throwing error last round notwithstanding), and he had a couple clutch hits in games one & two, but he's putting pressure on Delgado.

Who has, incidentally, been handling it with no problem at all. So maybe I'm nuts. In fact, I am nuts. What the hell am I talking about?

Reyes: Now here there's no argument. He's struggling. And it's sad to watch. Man, if he gets back into it, the Mets road gets so much easier. But he's taking a lot of hittable pitches, and wildly uppercutting on high fastballs when he swings. The result: 3 RBIs, 2 BBs and only 2 Ks in 16 at-bats so far in the post-season. But only two singles and two runs. He's still playing with enthusiasm, and it clearly hasn't hurt the team yet.

But, for his career, April & September have been two of his worst-hitting months, suggesting that perhaps like many players who grew up in warm climes, he's not at his best when it's cold. This year, he hit well enough in September (when it was rather warm all month), but struggled mightily in April. Whatever it is, we need him to get back to the old Jose (or, actually, not the old Jose, but the one from this season, meaning earlier, before the playoffs began, because . . . oh, never mind).

Valentin: He's not hitting at all either (literally), and that bunt attempt last night would also have made Earl Weaver proud, since he hated bunting. But that play in the 9th was soooooo good, he gets a pass.

Wagner: He got out of it again. But he looked shaky again. I'll remain positive on this front, but if I told you I wasn't a nervous wreck every time he comes in, I'd be lying.

So I'll lie and tell you I'm confident.

Heilman, ChadBrad, Feliciano: Not needed last night. Good. Very good.

Cardinal Bullpen: Not needed much either, which concerns me. I'm glad the Mets won last night, don't get me wrong, but I'm a little concerned the Cards didn't have to go more to the pen. With Carpenter going tonight, there's a good chance their relievers will be well-rested for the Suppan/Reyes starts in games 3 and 4. When they'll likely need that pen.

Green: Hey, he's been really good the last couple games. Shhhhh.

And tonight, Johnny Maine against defending Cy Young winner, Chris Carpenter. I looked through Carpenter's games this season, and he's good, damn good, but it's not like the Mets are facing '88 Herschiser or anything. Every month he's had one or two starts that saw him get hit pretty hard, including three in September: at Washington, at Houston, home against the Padres, where he yielded a combined 16 earned runs in 20+ innings. Of course when he faced those same Pads last week, he mowed 'em down.

But since late July, he's been either hit or miss every time out: 5-4 in 12 starts, with a 3.71 ERA, despite an exceptional 1.00 WHIP. He doesn't walk anyone, but he can be hit, apparently for extra bases: he also gave up 8 homers in those 87+ innings. Finally, he's been somewhat less effective all year in night games, at 10-7, 3.41/1.06 versus 5-1, 2.40/1.08 with the sun shining.

I can't say what all this means except that he ain't invincible. This notion that the Mets are facing a life-or-death, must-win struggle tonight against the greatest pitcher they'll ever see is ludicrous. They were the best, or second best, hitting team in the NL this year, and they're going against a very good, but definitely not-great hurler. It's a winnable game, and if they do so, the Cards'll be in a big hole heading back to St. Louis.

This is a good spot to be in.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


For the first time since Tokyo Rose & others like her during "the World War II era," the United States government is bringing treason charges against one of its citizens.

Sit down, stop cheering! It's not Bush.

Instead, our government is charging 28 year-old Adam Gadhan with this most serious of Constititional crimes. I'll admit it -- I too was unaware this most dangerous man was walking the earth, free to bring down America with his . . . through his nefarious . . . umm, what'd he do again? He "appeared in five videos broadcast between October 2004 and September 11, 2006."

Appeared in videos. In fact, according to the article, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty told reporters that, "Gadahn appeared to be involved only in propaganda for [Al Qaeda], not in planning any attacks."


Now I'll admit, I don't care what happens to this jackass. He can rot in hell as far as I care. If he thinks his life is better living under sharia in some shithole in the hills of Pakistan, he's more than entitled to do so. And should a bomb or bullet -- originating from West or East -- find his heart, well that wouldn't cause me to lose a wink of sleep.

That said, who the hell are we kidding here? The kid's been out of the country for years. He clearly doesn't see himself as an American anymore. He's not a traitor, he emigrated! And now he's on "the other side." Who cares about him? Nonetheless, "the FBI added him on Wednesday to its list of the most wanted terrorists and a U.S. State Department program offered up to a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest."

As always, your federal tax dollars hard at work.

And if I may say so, ain't there another guy in the mountains of Pakistan we should be a little more hyped on finding? Good grief.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


From the "Shameless Pandering For GOP Votes They're Gonna Get Anyway" Files, we learn that in a world with actual terrorists, an escalating national debt, and a world of problems too numerous to go into here . . .
"The United States will pursue more aggressively violators of a US trade embargo against Cuba."
According to the article:
President Bush "has ratcheted up pressure on Cuba to speed the demise of its communist leaders, Fidel Castro and his brother, interim president Raul Castro."

The head of US prosecuters in Florida announced creation of a task force made up of officials from several US agencies, which "will strengthen enforcement of sanctions against the Castro regime with the aim of hastening a transition to democracy in Cuba. We will do our part to effectuate president Bush's mandate to speed this transition."

Additionally, "creation of the task force was recommended by a presidential Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which also backed the Cuba Fund for a Democratic Future, a two-year, 80-million-dollar program."
And who, you may ask, leads this "Commission"? Why, none other than Condoleeza Rice and Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez. You know, it's one thing for governmental officials to earmark dollars for pet causes. And it's another for them to engage in electioneering while in office.

But when both are occurring simultaneously -- and transparently -- well that's kleptocracy, pure & simple. These bastards don't deserve to sit in office. They need to be booted, and two years is too long to wait. Maybe a shift in the power of Congress can facilitate it.

When you vote in 4 weeks, remember to ask yourself where the hell your earnings, savings, and tax dollars are going. And when you answer, remember to pull that lever. Hard.


Back in action tonight. I can't wait. It's been four long days for me without any Jose, any Carlos. Any Endy! Enough is enough. As for this "preview," well you all know who I'm picking, you all know the basic themes that are emerging (Pujols is good, don't pitch to him; Carpenter is good, don't rain & make the Mets face him three times), you all know who's good on the Mets (everyone).

So I'll keep this brief (by normal standards, not just mine). A few thoughts:

Bash The Card Starters: Other than Carpenter, this is a bad collection of arms. Carpenter is very good, so we have to assume he'll beat Trachsel in game three. Plus, while the Card bullpen isn't as good as the Mets, it's pretty good. I'm not buying into this whole, "Now that Izzy's out, the Cards can't protect a lead" thing. First of all, Isringhausen was a bad closer. It's no loss for the Cardinals.

And, this young guy closing in his stead, Wainwright, is pretty good. Better than Izzy at least. Plus, they have a tough lefty in Tyler Johnson, who struggled against righties this season, but pitched well against lefties, and looked good in the series against the Pads. The Mets are a strong hitting team, so I'm not suggesting they couldn't come back in the face of a late game deficit. But a late lead for the Cards is hardly dangerous for them.

But the non-Carpenter starters? Another story. Weaver & Marqis are regular right-handed fastball-slider type guys, and they're not good. Against Beltran, Delgado, Valentin, Reyes, Green & Chavez, that's a disaster waiting to happen. From the pitcher's perspective, that is. Weaver against lefties this year? In 80+ innings, he gave up 119 hits, including 22 home runs, plus 29 walks, versus only 47 Ks. Delgado, Beltran & Valentin killed righties, and neither Reyes, Green, nor Chavez are slouches in that department either. Knowing that Carpenter's coming in Game 3, it's imperative that the Mets destroy Weaver early and start taxing that bullpen.

The same goes for game 4 if LaRussa forgets he's a genius and throws Marquis. Anthony Reyes doesn't own lefties, but he's better than Marquis. Against lefties, New York Jason yielded 105 hits, 15 home runs, and 40 walks (against 46 Ks) in only 90+ innings.

As for Suppan, he's more of a slop thrower, but so long as junkballers hurl from the right side, the Mets seem to do all right. Against lefties, Mr. Suppan compiled the following: 78+ IP, 102 H, 10 HR, 33 BB, 54 K. Same story as the other two. He's vulnerable to a powerful lefty-hitting lineup, which is exactly what they'll be facing. And keep in mind, none of these fellas is exactly Roger Clemens or Curt Schilling against righties, nor are Wright & LoDuca quite in the Rey Ordonez range.

To channel Al Davis, if I may, these three starters need to go down, and they need to go down hard. There's no reason the Mets shouldn't be able to do so.

Carlos & Jose (Versions 1.0): Not that Delgado doesn't need to keep swinging a hot bat, nor that 'Stache doesn't need to start, but it's Reyes & Beltran I'm talking about. If the Mets are going to smash Cardinal starters (the easiest, most dependable way to advance), then these two need to get into the act. Reyes had some clutch hits against the Dodgers (as did Wright & LoDuca & Green), but you just can't count on that game after game. If Reyes gets on base two or three times, or starts lacing doubles and triples, then that's really gonna put the pressure on the Cards. I'm not quite as jazzed on him running, running, running as some are. Reyes slowed down late in the season, perhaps from 150+ games of dings & dents ("only" 25 SB and 8 CS after the All-Star Break, and a more worrisome 9/5 in September). Plus, Yadier Molina's got a cannon. But if he gets on base at a .350+ clip and lashes some XBHs, then I'm not worried.

And, more than anything, the Mets need Beltran to start clobbering the ball. More than Reyes, more than Wright, more than Heilman & Wagner & Glavine, Beltran was the main cog in the Mets machine this season. Their best hitter, their best RBI guy, their best power threat. The walks last round were good, and I certainly don't want to see him start flailing. But he needs to start driving the ball. If Reyes does his part and Carlos turns back into the Beltranator, this thing's gonna be over in 5. No way Weaver/Suppan/Marquis can withstand the onslaught if he starts bashing.

Met Starters Just Need To Stay The Course: They don't need to be perfect, they just need not to be awful. If the bullpen pitches at its level, and the hitters hit at their level, then 5-6 innings of 4.50 pitching should be enough. It's just the 5 run first innings that they need to avoid. Which basically means, throw strikes to 89% of the Cardinal lineup . . . and throw no strikes under any circumstances to the other 11%. Eckstein takes Glavine's first pitch and jerks it over the wall? Fine, then the Mets lead 4-1 after the 1st, rather than 4-0. It's the lead-off walk to him, setting up Phat Albert for either an RBI possibility or a costly IBB that I'm concerned about.

Beyond those three things, there's not much to do other than go out and play. If the Mets do what they've done all season (get hits in spurts, play good defense, hold late inning leads), there's no reason not to win. Even if they lose to Carpenter in game 3, they shouldn't reach game 7 to give him the second try.

Mets in 6 (because I can't assume everything will fall into place).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


From the "Great, Where Was This Information When I Was Single?" Files, we learn from the Reuters "Health and Science Editor" that:
A study of young college women showed they frequently wore more fashionable or flashier clothing and jewelery when they were ovulating . . . . They tend to put on skirts instead of pants, show more skin and generally dress more fashionably.
This is just the sort of inside dope that I could have really run with back at college. Imagine one day you notice that the lovely coed who sits in front of you in English Lit is wearing a skirt and tank top, as opposed to the usual jeans and a sweatshirt. How much steeper would the college learning curve have been had I known what this meant? Think of the efficiency!


Back in July I posted the first entry in what I suspected & feared would be a running gag: The Depressingly Inappropriate Cool Song Use In A Crappy Commercial, or as I sophmorically dubbed it, the "DICSUCC" (my motto being, If The Dubbing Ain't Sophmoric, Why Bother?). The Who's Magic Bus, as featured in a Nissan ad, and the especially horrendous use of Blondie's One Way Or Another, for Swiffer, were the initial entries.

And three months later, we've had no follow ups. Is this because Madison Avenue called an emergency meeting in late July, under the announced heading, "Mike's on to us, we need to regroup"? Possibly. Certainly possible. But not necessarily. My own explanation is that I began to watch TV in a lazy way, grooving on the cool tunes leveraged by corporate pimps to move their products, rather than stewing in outrage.

Which is my standard M.O. (Gee, can you imagine how fun it is for my wife or friends to watch TV with me?)

So, with no further ado, here we go with the long-anticipated DICSUCC, Version 2.0:

1. Iron Man, Black Sabbath -- Nissan: I've gotta hand it to them, these guys are Good. (Sorry, Thrill, I'm talking about Nissan, not Ozzy & Tony & the boys. Though I always thought Geezer played a mean bass). This one came on during one of the playoff games last weekend, and as the opening drone played through the TV, I found myself saying, "I-Am-Iron-Man" under my breath in that robotic voice. Watching baseball, I also reminded myself of something I've long thought: Iron Man would make an excellent "Closer's Song," even better than Hell's Bells or Enter Sandman. But that's just one man's opinion.

Anyway, they were already into the heavy riffing/drum part when I realized it was a fucking Nissan commercial! Yes, the Nissan Titan ("full-size power, all truck, and no compromise"), yet another in a growing family of grossly oversized pickups for fat Americans who don't need pickups. Built to save the world, but due to mistreatment and ingratitude, set to return one day to kill the people it once saved.

Or something like that.

2. I'm Free, Rolling Stones -- Chase Freedom Visa Card. Or was it Mastercard? Not sure which, so long as it's about Freedom! Chase's whole ad campaign tries to push this "free" idea: free credit card, free to buy what you want, free to go into debt any ole' time, whatever. And, impressively, they use a re-mixed, re-produced version of the somewhat obscure Stones original, not the more frequently-heard Soup Dragons cover, a fairly big hit in 1990. Other than the distinctive voice of Young Mick, you'd never know it was the Stones.

Either way, it sucks, it's depressing, and it pisses me off because it combines so many things I despise into one commercial: extolling the virtues of spending, spending, spending, regardless of whether one can afford it; making this spending seem like an expression of freedom; the use of a pop song in advertising; re-jiggering that pop song to make it fit into the commercial, in terms of duration & theme; and most unpleasantly, a reminder of that lame period in music just before 1991 when Nirvana & friends broke it all down. 1990, folks. Among the big hits that year, heard on nominally rock-oriented radio stations: Ice Ice Baby, You're Unbelievable, Right Here Right Now, & I'm Free. Talk about debt.

3. Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd -- Yeah, I know this is way too overplayed to be "cool." Hell, if Free Bird is southern rock's Stairway, then Sweet Home has to be its or Satisfaction or Johnny B. Goode: the super-tight, rocking statement of its genre which is nonetheless so cliched at this point that it's almost unlistenable. But, let's not forget, it's overplayed because it's good. Imagine hearing it for the first time. Surely you'd be impressed.

Anyway, it's probably been used on TV more than once, so you might be asking why it earns a slot in this post. Well, mostly because of the product it's supporting: KFC Snackers. That's right, KFC.

For those of you too young to remember, KFC used to be called Kentucky Fried Chicken, before they changed the name to distract folks from the fact that their greasy, revolting chicken was actually fried ('cause this being modern America and all, if you don't say something, it isn't true, aka, If You Don't Call It "Fried," Then It's Not "Fried"). Fried or not though, the Colonel was from Kentucky. Kentucky, not Alabama. But on TV, in 2006, as the goofy white boy hangs out of his car window to tell the goofy white girl and the goofy white man that KFC Snackers now come with cheese (no kidding), and still cost $0.99, the music that plays is Sweet Home Alabama.

I guess My Old Kentucky Home is a tad too staid for the KFC crowd.

But the irony runs ever deeper. As alluded to with my "goofy white" comments earlier, it's long been stereotyped that KFC's primary customers are Black. I have no idea if this is true, but it sure is funny that the main ad campaign features the musical response of a buncha' white Southerners to Neil Young's (a Canadian) accusations of racism in Southern Man.

I hope Colonel Sanders will remember, a KFC customer don't need southern rock songs to make him buy fried chicken sandwiches, anyhow.