Thursday, May 31, 2007


Here we go with week three of the Delicious Dozen . . . Minus One. The I-Pod is revved up, ready to spit forth a fabulous selection of random I-Tunery from my music collection. So, let's spin the wheel, shall we, and see what shufflectible variety we get:

1. Sleater-Kinney -- "O2" (One Beat):

Their sound really started to change on this album, with very mixed results. I think this song is a great example. I like the shift when they go into the "chorus" here, it seems more Sleater Kinney-ish to me: intertwined vocal lines, minor chord guitar-slinging, an odd rhythm change. But while I like the chiming guitar sound they get in the rest of the song, something seems a bit too bubblegummy for my ears.

2. Ceumar -- "Girias do Norte" (Brasil Acoustico):

Some really good stuff on this compilation album. Lots of excellent samba and other Brazilian music.

Unfortunately, this ain't one of them. Sounds like Carmen Miranda singing "Mambo Italiano."

3. Lee Morgan Quintet -- "The Sidewinder" (Blue Note: A Story of Modern Jazz . . .):

Sweet. I mentioned last week that I wanted to hear a cut from one of my Lee Morgan albums. Well, this isn't a Lee Morgan album, per se, but it is Lee's most famous song. Morgan's solo music had a real swing that wasn't always present in 60's jazz. His chops were legit, and to my non-expert ears he seemed to do most of the "complicated" things that marked that decade's jazz: jaunty melodies, odd-time meters, some dischordance. But . . . it swings. Really gets your toes tappin'. Makes you smile.

And as with so much art, you'd never expect this, since Morgan seems to have lived a pretty miserable life: a drug addict, a pimp, and shot to death by his girlfriend at the age of 33.

4. Liz Phair -- "Never Said" (Exile in Guyville):

I won't even complain that this is Guyville's second appearence in three weeks. Because it's a great album, and this song rocks. As I mentioned in the comments to George a couple weeks ago, I love the lyrics in this one: "So don't look at me sideways/don't even look me straight on/and don't look at my hands in my pockets, baby/I ain't done anything wrong." She delivers that line.

Of course, one could make the argument that this song's heavy production, layered tracks, and reverb-drenched background vocals foresaw the disaster that would befall Liz' fans in the next decade. One could definitely make that argument.

But I won't make it. I like the song too much.

5. Sonic Youth -- "Mildred Pierce" (Goo):

Goo. Hmmm. I'm sure most Sonic Youth fans have a similar sense of this album. Following the earth-shattering influence of Daydream Nation, the Youth finally got a major-label contract, and Goo was the first effort of that phase of their career. And it was a pretty lame effort, I think. Plus, it began their long, consistent decline from important artists to downtown scenesters, with Kim Gordon progressively more concerned about fashion than music.

But you know what? The album that followed this one, Dirty, was excellent. One of my favorites. Up there with Daydream Nation in my opinion. So what can I really say? Plus, this little musical number ain't bad. And, since it's named after a Joan Crawford movie, it gets extra points for potential camp value.

(Now if only they'd called it "Johnnie Guitar.")

6. Gustav Mahler -- "Movement 4: Tempo 1, Molto adagio (Symphony #9):

Bernstein conducted this one. He loved Mahler's 9th more than anything else if I'm not mistaken. It's a monumental-sounding piece of music, but I'd be lying if I told you I've ever listened to the whole thing.

And since I've been offered no jobs in the Bush administration, assume I don't lie often.

7. REM -- "Little America" (Reckoning):

Not from the tour-de-force early part of this album, this one's nevertheless a good song. Most of the ingredients of early REM: hyper rhythms, chiming 12-string guitar set against muscular-but-understated chords. But it doesn't feature the soaring background harmonies that most of this album's cuts have, and believe it or not you can pretty much understand all of Michael Stipe's vocals.

Which is nice, because they're good ones. Jefferson, I think we're lost, indeed.

8. Velvet Underground -- "Femme Fatale" (Velvet Underground & Nico):

Yes! An injection of magic into my ears. The three Nico songs off this album (Femme Fatale, All Tomorrow's Parties, and I'll Be Your Mirror) sound like no other music ever made. Her voice isn't pretty, Lou Reed's background singing isn't pretty, the instrumentation is strikingly minimalistic, and the lyrical story isn't very nice.

Yet all three songs are unspeakably beautiful. I could listen to this all day.

9. Sonic Youth -- "Eric's Trip" (Daydream Nation):

As requested. Damn, that's pretty cool. This is how Sonic Youth is supposed to sound. And it's also a very appropriate follow-up to the Velvet Underground. It's hard to think of an album that found beauty-in-ugliness more than Daydream Nation. "Eric's Trip" has all the qualities: jarring sounds, oddly-tuned instruments, rough rhythms, yet the package-in-full is pleasant. Daydream Nation was definitely one of those albums where "something special" descended upon them as they recorded it. The muse was in the studio. "Teenage Riot" demonstrates that more than anything else, but this song, and many others, have it too.

10. Sonic Youth -- "100%" (Dirty):

Oh my god!!! Is this possible??? I have four Sonic Youth albums in the I-Pod, a little more than 1% of the total. And this is the the third to appear in a six song stretch (after explicitly talking about two of them).

Anyhow, this isn't a great song -- which is amazing, because Dirty is loaded -- so I guess the I-Pod Gods are still keeping things in balance.

11. Outkast -- "Slum Beautiful" (Stankonia):

I'll admit I rarely listen to this album (read: never listen). I bought it about 4 or 5 years ago because it was so well-regarded. I hadn't even heard "Mrs. Jackson" when I got it. There's nothing wrong with this song, but I can't say I'd listen to it if it didn't come onto a shuffle.

So there you have it, another Random Eleven in the books. As with every week so far, there were plenty of "Holy shit, that's random" moments. But that Sonic Youth thing is freaky. I don't know what to say.

But you can: your thoughts, comments, criticisms, your own random tunes. Bring it on.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Well, it seems The Decider has . . . well, decided on his nominee for lackey President of the World Bank. Yea!

(By the way, anyone else find humor in the fact that the US President chooses the head of the World Bank?)

You can probably guess what I think about the "World" Bank (and it's other half, the IMF), and I'll admit I know nothing about this Robert Zoellick character. Don't really care either.

But . . . since (a) Bush nominated him to be (b) President of the "World" Bank, and (c) we have to assume he'll accept the nomination (or why would Calculatin' George have picked him?), then I have no problem whatsoever making the following assumption:

He must be a Scoundrel.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


In a perfect example of the mindset behind most of America's Morality Cops, we learn from AP that "Morality in Media" is going after Delta Airlines for showing the "bawdy" HBO program, "Rome," on a transatlantic flight. Seems that Delta meant to show "Rome" only on "private screens in the back of the airplane's seat and were shown on the public overhead screens by mistake," and once the flight attendants realized their error, they cut off the broadcast and "made an immediate apology to passengers."

But that was not enough for "Billy Ford, vice president of a Georgia chemical company," or "Morality in Media, a New York-based group that targets pornography and other entertainment deemed indecent." No sirree, they need more! Ford apparently was "really upset," and "demanded to see the captain."

Doesn't he know that he could have asked the flight attendants to visit the cockpit when he got on the plane? Hey, maybe they'd have given him a miniature model of the plane too, if he'd behaved.

(Ever been in a Turkish prison, Billy?)

Meanwhile, according to Morality in Media president Robert Peters, an airplane "is a public place . . . not a private home where some adult pays extra money to bring HBO into their home."

Uh, ok. That's why the flight attendants pulled the broadcast soon as they realized their mistake. That's why they apologized. But . . . Mr. Peters soon gets us to the real problem in the minds of clowns like him. In addition to his concerns about "children" ordering adult-themed programming if they sit away from their "parents," or what could happen if "adults" are sleeping or not paying attention, or if "children" are exposed to "neighbors'" TV screens, the Morality in Media president also added:

"I often find myself watching someone else's screen. I typically read and write when I fly, but you get bored, you get tired and instead of turning on your own television, you look around."

Ahhhh, so that's how it works, Rob? And notice how the subject of the sentence changed from "I" to "You" once the sneaky, Peeping Tom-ery begins. "Peters" reads and writes when he flies, but "you" get bored and start touching youself as "you" stare at the porn on other people's televisions.

Once again, someone who's simply terrified of his own impulses, unable or unwilling either to (a) take step one to control the urges that are so scary, or (b) just give in to them if they're not so bad afterall, decides that all other people -- adult, child, male, female, weak or strong -- must give up 100% of that which tempts him so seductively.

I guess he's not just the President of Morality in Media, he's also a client.

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Friday, May 25, 2007


Three recent news items left me scratching my head, wondering what kind of world we live in. Developments that send me into metaphysical tizzies, questioning humanity, the state of nature, and the very world in which we live. From least-to-most serious:

1. This first one is so bizarre, so Onion-esque, so completely inexplicable, I'll just reprint the lede, and then see if I can make head or tails of it:
New York's famed Saks Fifth Avenue department store plans to open a shoe department so big it has been granted its own ZIP code, 10022-SHOE
No, that's not an 800 number, that's the ZIP Code. And you know what? I'm still not getting it. Apart from the sheer preposterousness of a privately-owned shoe department with its own Zip Code, other questions seep in. Among these:
* Who sends mail to a shoe store? Are the Manolo Blanecks so great they're receiving fan mail? (Yeah, I know I probably misspelled it. Good.)

* Will Saks have its own Post Office inside this massive shoe department? Will we see Al Bundy & Newman working in close proximity.

* Will this start a new trend? ZIP Codes and post offices inside book stores, adult video stores, sports arenas. Many possibilities, each more repulsive than the last.
* And, most importantly, when the hell is a major department store gonna run with my idea? A sports bar, right inside the store. Your lady shops and does whatever it is she does, and you drink beer and watch the game. It's win-win, and the store makes even more money. Why this hasn't happened is beyond me.
Anyhow, send your letters of concern to Saks at its new ZIP Code. Now, as the stories get even more serious, I'll need to insist you remain seated. If you need to use the rest room (and you will), please do so before we begin.

2. In one of the three or four most shocking pop culture developments of my lifetime (up there with Mark David Chapman shooting John Lennon, Sylvester Stallone making a 6th Rocky at 60 years-old, and Katie Holmes in The Gift -- hey, shocks can be good, right?), I've discovered that none other than former Limp Bizkit frontman & professional asshole, Fred Durst, has directed a coming-of-age movie called The Education Of Charlie Banks, starring Susan Sarandon's daughter, Eva Amurri.

No, I did not make up one thing in that sentence. It's all true. He is a board-certified member of the American Association of Assholes, Susan Sarandon has a daughter named Eva Amurri, and she is starring in, and apparently doffs most if not all of her clothing in, a film directed by Fred Durst.


Even more strange? It was apparently very well-received at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The world might as well just end. It can't go anywhere but downhill from here. First this world-class jackass fronts a crappy band that sells a brazillion albums & plays major rock festivals, then he somehow manages to sleep with 94% of the Hollywood/music industry/modeling A-list, and now he gets the chance to direct a film with famous offspring & other legitimate actors, and then have it screened at Tribeca.

Nah . . . I'm not envious. I just wanna BEAT HIM SENSELESS. Other than that, though, I have no bitterness at all.

3. And, moving along to a story a tad more serious, I read this morning that Congressional Democrats explain that, despite caving faster than a spelunker-on-speed, their fight with Bush over the Iraq War "has just begun."

Can I get a "Are they fucking kidding me?" from the choir. C'mon guys, where's your dignity? I'm reminded of the Black Knight taunting King Arthur in Holy Grail, after the King of the Britains managed to de-limb his erstwhile foe at the foot bridge. Arthur's "What are going to do, bleeeed on me?" about sums it up.

Sheeeet. Well, it should be a nice vacation in Crawford. Wonder if Bush will literally piss on the Constitution & a map of the US during the Memorial Day picnic, or will he use only facsimiles?

We know that both he and the Dems have already pissed on the memory of those who've fallen.


Thursday, May 24, 2007


Well, here we are, back with round two of this testament to my self-absorpsion and geekiness. That's right, another episode of The Thursday Delicious Dozen . . . Minus One.

After last week's outstanding debut, I can literally feel the reversal of Fortuna's Wheel bearing down on the I-Pod. The suck lurks just inside the shuffle function. Oh well, what can we do? Not all of my wonderful tunage can appear in any given day. Sometimes they're shy. Oh whatever, I'm rambling yet again. Letter' rip:

1. "Monkey Gone To Heaven" -- The Pixies (Doolittle).

Ah'ight, not a bad leadoff effort. This wouldn't even qualify as one of my 4 or 5 favorite songs on the CD, but let's not forget, this album is loaded. Doolittle is among the Abbey Roads or Dark Side of the Moons of that magical late-80's/early-90s period that I can't stop blabbing about.

2. "A Mistake" -- Fiona Apple (When The Pawn . . .).

Yeah, like I'm writing out that CD title. This is a good song, a real winner from a somewhat uneven album. When you think of those unique, pretty-but-rough things that Fiona does especially well -- off-kilter cadences & phrasing, jaunty rhythms, aggressive-but-erudite lyrics -- this one's got it. This album isn't as good as her initial effort, which had non-stop great songs. And it's not in the league of her latest effort, simply because it doesn't have anything to match the sublimity of "Extraordinary Machine." But it's a decent album, and this is one of its best songs.

3. "La Chinita" -- Manu Chau (Proxima Estacion Esperanza).

Sweet! We're rocking the house so far. A solid effort from everyone's favorite Spanish-speaking Frenchman. Whether it's one of his solo efforts, or with Mano Negra, this dude brings the musical chops. I highly recommend checking him out. Funky, rocking songs & trilingual lyrics about girls, music, chiba, and his own weird philosophical musings that make little sense in any language.

This one's less complex. La Chinita literally means, "Little Chinese Girl," and Manu sings about how she likes to dance. Of course he sings it in Spanish.

4. "Money Won't Change You" -- Aretha (do you need a last name?) (Lady Soul --Bonus Track).

I don't know this song well, but it has all the expected ingredients: the rock-solid Memphis sound (if that's not Steve Cropper on the guitar, it's a helluva imitation), tight-as-hell grooves, soulful backup singing, and of course, the Queen herself rockin' the mike. What more do you need? If you've never heard this song you still know exactly how it sounds.

5. "I Would For You" -- Jane's Addiction (XXX).

I know the real name of this live album is Jane's Addiction, but we always called it "Triple X," after the label's name. This was Jane's first album, and it contains lots of great stuff: a little suite of "Sweet Jane" into "Sympathy For The Devil" which played a major role in getting this "classic rock junkie" into modern music back in the late-80s. Also different versions of "Pig's In Zen" and "Jane Says" than you'll find on Nothing's Shocking. I love the disc, but this slow number is only a so-so effort. Nothing wrong with it, but it lacks the gut-punch that most of the other songs deliver.

6. "Life Is White" -- Big Star (#1 Record/Radio City).

Like most people that own Big Star on CD, my version has the first two albums on one disc. This is the second song on Radio City, essentially an Alex Chilton solo effort, since Chris Bell died after the first album (the #1 Record, you might say). It's an ok song, most notable for its arhythmic barrelhouse piano solo in the middle. It ain't no "September Gurls," that's for sure.

7. "Lady Day" -- Lou Reed (Rock n' Roll Animal).

Another so-so cut off a fantastic album.

(Ahhh, the pitfalls of The Shuffle).

Actually, this isn't a bad song at all. It just isn't the best on the disc. Anyhow, if you don't know this album, it's really great: Lou Reed doing some of his best Velvet Underground & early solo songs, backed by a top-notch band. Excellent stuff.

And, by the way, is this about Billie Holiday, and if so, how many songs have there been about her?

8. "Sincerely Diana" -- Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers (A Night In Tunisia).

Blakey's backed by Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, and Jymie Merritt on this session from 1960. A fairly typical early-60's jazz sound: Blakey's distinctively powerful drumming, and that angular, pushing-the-modern-jazz-sound in the trumpet and the sax solos.

(Oh whatever, I barely have any idea what I'm talking about. I love Lee Morgan, and all I'm thinking is that I wish I was listening to one of the cuts off his own album right now.)

9. "Annie" -- Elastica (Elastica).

Elastica! Wow, this album was really popular in 1995. I wasn't crazy about "Connection," the hit off this disc, but I liked the rest of it a lot. Hell, I even saw them at Tramps in NYC that spring. Helluva show actually. They were very energetic, very tight, Justine Frischmann was a natural-born performer, and the place was absolutely crawling with hot chicks. Oh, to be 27, single, and listening to good live music at a NY club.

(A moment of reflection for me, if you will . . . ok, I'm back. Let's move along)

10. "When I Get Home" -- The Beatles (Hard Days Night).

Whoa. This week's Random Moment™. Last week's first song was "Things We Said Today," and this is the next song on the same album. And a good song it is. John really "rock stars" this one in the raspy frontman voice he busted-out on certain numbers back in the Beatles early days. Plus, he's not singing about holding hands or anything like that in this one -- "When I get home/I'm gonna hold her tight/I'm gonna love her til the cows come home." Go Johnny go.

Plus, as a bonus this song just roars out of the opening, and has some good George backup vocals.

11. "Blood" -- Pearl Jam (Vs.).

And yet another Random Moment™. Hmmm. Last week we had back-to-back Pearl Jam songs, including "Rats," which appears only two songs after this one on the same album.

To repeat from last week: I own only two Pearl Jam albums (out of ~375 I've loaded into I-Tunes) and yet they've appeared in 3 of the first 22 songs in this series so far.

And I don't even like Pearl Jam that much! Just when it looked like I'd escape Fortuna's Wheel . . .

Anyhow, an ok second effort. Plenty of good artists and good albums too, but we managed to miss a lot of good songs. Feel free to add comments, criticisms, stories, or your own 11 songs.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Well, let's see what we've got here. Seems that Conrad Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is predicting that the "2007 Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than normal."

Not to make light about hurricanes or anything, but what the hell does he know? These clowns can't even predict whether or not it'll rain on Saturday, and now they're making forecasts of the number of hurricanes we'll see over an entire summer! For instance, he says that this season could see "as many as ten hurricanes, and three to five of them could be major."

Not eleven? Maybe four to six of them major?

And lest it seem I'm picking on these guys merely for their ugly combination of ass-covering and propensity to get a meteorological hard-on when they think of all the horrible Cat-5's that are coming, let me say that ain't it.

No, I'm crackin' wise because year-after-year they make these idiotic shot-in-the-dark predictions, which the media pick up on it as if God himself inscribed radar maps on Willard Scott's teleprompter, despite the fact that these forecasts are always wrong. Dreadfully, comically wrong!

For instance, last May I "reported" on the very same pages of this here blog that "Willard Gray . . . a noted U.S. storm forecaster" predicted that the 2006 hurricane season would bring "nine hurricanes." Being the un-reverential yuckster that I am, I also pointed out that the same article made note of the unfortunate fact that in 2005 "Gray's prediction and those of other forecasters were wildly off the mark."

(Uhhh, in case you don't remember, 2005 was the hurricane season it may actually have been worthwhile to have been correct about.)

And how'd Mr. Gray do in 2006? Well, we actually had 5 hurricanes, 2 of them major, none of which made landfall in the U.S.

So he missed by 4, or 80%. I guess that means he was "wildly off the mark" two years in a row. There's some statistical significance in his consistent inconsistency.

(Say that 5 times, really fast.)

You know, I can make the same hilariously inaccurate hurricane season predictions that Mr. Gray can make, and I don't even need enormous grants from the University of Colorado. Hell, unlike Mr. Lautenbacher, I don't need taxpayer-funded boondoggles to make a blindfolded dart toss. Nope, I can make idiotic predictions just by pulling numbers out of my ass.

And I will, but I'm also different in that I don't have to change my pants when I think of destructive forces of nature like hurricanes. Instead, I get nervous and hope they don't happen. So I will predict zero hurricanes for this, and all hurricane seasons.

I'll be just as wrong as the experts, but at least I won't have to feel bad karma's pull when some ass-kicker of a storm makes landfall.

Your predictions? And please, include a brief abstract of your methodology.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


This article attempts to explain the latest wrangling between congressional Dems & the President regarding funding for the Iraq War that a majority of Americans oppose, as well as issues of a timetable to bring home the troops that a majority of Americans want to see back stateside.

Hmmm. Lots of references to things like:
*other restrictions on Bush's Iraq policies, and

*troops in combat getting the resources they need without disruption, and

*the responsibility to fund the troops and make sure they have the right equipment, and

*political and military goals for the Iraqi government to meet toward establishment of a more democratic society, and

*whether Democrats intend to give Bush power to order the aid to be spent regardless of progress, and

*insistance that U.S. troops meet certain standards before being sent into battle, and my favorite,

*a presidential waiver that will allow Bush to ignore certain restrictions.
Hmmmm. So what's it all mean? I think I can sum that up in a couple three word phrases:
*Dems Cave Again

*Business As Usual
Meanwhile, just a little reminder of one salient fact: CONGRESS controls the purse-strings, not the President.

Meanwhile, 100+ young American men & women will die this month. Luckily, Memorial Day comes in May.

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Monday, May 21, 2007


Sponsored by Tom. Send me your donations, I promise I'll send them his way.

(I promise.)

1. "IMG_5183," uploaded by "-Andrew-" on December 19, 2005:

I swear to you, I freakin' refuse to humor that jackass. I will not swing my head back and forth, following his finger as he waves from left to right. I'm not a clown, I'm a cat! You with me?

Hell yeah. This is
hard, but let's do it. We'll show him who's boss.

Oh shit, he's got a string now. Stay with me, dude.

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Friday, May 18, 2007


Since I despise Rudy Giuliani more than I can possibly describe, I'll just say it's nice to see him becoming such a devisive force in the Republican ranks. Anyone who can help Ron Paul find common ground with Professional Asshole Self-Appointed Christian Leader, James "Hate The Sin And, What The Heck, Hate The Sinner Too" Dobson must be a very special man. Here's what Dobson says about "liberal" Republican Rudy's candidacy:
I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran — or if worse comes to worst — not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life.
Yeah, right. Anyhow, he also added:
Many liberal Americans will agree with the social positions espoused by Giuliani. However, I don't believe conservative voters whose support he seeks will be impressed.
This is true, and it shows that there are some crazy motherfuckers in this country! Anyone who considers Giuliani liberal, by any definition, simply doesn't speak the same language I do. I lived in NYC throughout his entire term as mayor. He's as liberal as Mussolini.

Meanwhile, the presence of folks like Dobson in the public discourse is indefensible.

(That said, if he can bring down Giuliani, I'm all for some filtered discourse from his big mouth.)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007


Ok, here we go! The first of the random I-Pod moments. After a crazed, obsessive weekend that saw me load over 360 CDs into I-Tunes (about 4,200 songs), I'm ready to give the thing a whirl. Pure shuffliciousness.

(Actually, I have no idea what's coming out here. I loaded my wife's music, some of my obscure titles, stuff I haven't listened to in 15 years -- L7, anyone? -- things I never liked. This should be quite interesting.)

My most incredibly self-absorbed & egocentric post after approximately 600 previous posts not exactly known for a lack of those traits. Yes, indeed . . . the moment has arrived.

But, contrarian that I am, I will not be doing this thing on Friday. No, no, no. Friday is (in theory at least) Movie Day. It's the day that Otto Man and George do their Friday Random Tens. I'm not treading on those toes. No sir. And Wednesday is Random I-Poddery over at Two Glasses, so Toast already has a proprietary interest in the day I'd have chosen. Nope, I'm doin' Thursdays.

And why Eleven, you may ask. Why not the standard ten? Or a clean dozen? Even the baker's dozen Toast tosses out there?

Because. That's why. If it's good enough for Nigel Tufnel, it's good enough for me. Enough with the preliminaries, let's get to it. Ladies & Gents, I present to you a post no one requested, no one wondered about, and in all likelihood, no one wants. Your first Thursday Delicious Dozen . . . Minus One™:

1. "Things We Said Today" -- Beatles.

Pretty solid early Beatles song. Paul sings, but this seems to have John's imprimatur all over it. The bridge doesn't sound like something Paul ever came up with.

Anyhow, not a bad start. No complaints about this one.

2. "Let The Devil In" -- TV On The Radio.

I like this album (Return to Cookie Mountain) a lot, but I haven't listened often enough to get a solid sense of which songs are my favorites. There's a decent variety in the tunes, but they all share a similar sound. This one's all right, but I think it lacks that sublime quality the best ones have.

3. "Oh, Atlanta" -- Little Feat (Live).

Waiting For Columbus is a fantastic live album. Rock solid grooves. Enough creativity to keep things fresh, but it's still tight. Not a lot of noodling & wacking-off. This cut's a good one, but there are far better ones on the album. I've seen these guys (post-Lowell, of course) a few times, and they usually do a good job with this tune.

4. "Changes" -- Sugar.

Copper Blue is one of those albums that gets lost in the huge late-80s/early 90's rock shuffle. So much good music, so many killer albums. So a solid-but-not-amazing effort from the former leader of one of the 80's seminal groups wasn't gonna get the notoriety it deserved. I always liked this album, even if it wasn't quite in the "leave the jewel box on top of the CD player" category.

(And it was better than "Frank Black.")

5. "Strange Loop" -- Liz Phair.

Speaking of early 90's greatness, and "seminal" music. (Pun intended.) The last cut on Exile In Guyville, this one's the cigarette after the action. Good lyrics, as usual. Man, early Liz was great.

(And on the personal front, I had a largely unrequited affair was obsessed with a girl named Liz during this time period. I referred to her as Liz Unphair.) Ok, moving along . . .

6. "Daniel & The Sacred Harp" -- The Band.

Not one of the songs off the great Music From Big Pink or The Band, this comes off some compilation album. An ok song. It has the Band's standard roots music + mystical lyrics combo, but it lacks that special something the boys had on their first two albums. Levon & Manuel share the singing here, but the latter doesn't have that mournful, soulful quality he had at his best. I love their first two albums (plus The Basement Tapes), but these guys had a long, slow decline over the 7 years following the release of The Band. By the time of their farewell show featured in the somewhat overrated The Last Waltz came out, they just didn't have what made them special earlier on.

(But I guess you can say that about a lot of groups & artists.)

7. "Dos Gardenias" -- Omara Portuondo.

Eh. I love the album this is on: a Cuban music compilation I picked up at a street fair a couple years back. But this one is one of the two or three songs I always skip: slow, not very rhythmical, and a cheesy 80's synth production sound. Boo, the first bad effort of the mix so far, and it comes off a CD with so much good stuff to offer.

(Ahhh, the risks of the Shuffle.)

8. "Rats" -- Pearl Jam

Back in The Neighborhood's early days, I wrote a post that was tenuously based on this album: Vs. Part music review, part travelogue. Check it out if you feel like it.

This song's pretty good. There's a line -- about "The Rats" -- where Vedder says they "lick the dirt of a larger one's feet." Back in the day I thought he said, "Licks the dirt off "Olajuwan's feet."

Hey, I knew the guys in Pearl Jam were huge NBA fans. Shit, their original name was "Mookie Blaylock," and their first album was named "Ten" because it was his number.

Ok, I'm rambling. Next song . . .

9. "State Of Love & Trust" -- Pearl Jam.

Whoa. That's really fucking random (which is the point of a Shuffle, right?). This is off the Singles soundtrack, which contains a number of "Seattle" cuts from the era: Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney, Alice & Chains. With Andrew Wood & Layne Staley, all it needed was a Nirvana song to complete the "soon-to-be-dead singer triumvirate."

(And speaking of Seattle and the NBA, you may recall Xavier McDaniel's very funny cameo in Singles . . . even though he'd since been traded to the Knicks.)

Anyway, this is a good song; I always liked it, and wondered why it didn't get onto Ten. Strangely enough, I was never a really big Pearl Jam fan. I owned a couple their albums, but that was it. I preferred Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice In Chains in that "grunge genre." Whatever.

10. "Walkin' After Midnight" -- Cowboy Junkies.

Yes! The first "sweet cut" of the session. The Trinity Session is one of the true underrated albums of that late 80s/early 90s era. Margo Timmins voice is sooooo alluring. She's confident, and can really swing a song, which is a requirement if you're doing Patsy Cline. Plus she adds a coy . . . not quite vibrato, just a trill. Her voice chimes. Nice. And the harmonica is killer here.

On an album filled with unique covers of great songs, this one really stands out. It's no "Sweet Jane" (which is only one of the two or three best covers ever), but it ain't shabby. Now let's see if we can finish off this inaugural effort on a high note . . .

11. "Hallelujah" -- Django Reinhart.

Ohhhh, Django. As Otto Man says, "That Belgian gypsy could play some guitar." Yes he could. And that Frenchman with the Italian last name could rock the violin a bit too.

Nothing super special about this cut, but nothing wrong either. Grappelli opens it up, as usual, with some violin as Django plays rhythm. Then Django steps in with a tasty solo, before the piano takes over. Finally, Reinhart & Grappelli trade off licks. Hard to decide if Django's leads are actually better than the rhythm. That man could play some guitar.

So there we have it. The first effort in the books. Your comments? Thoughts? Criticisms? Words of censure & derision? Your own Eleven? Let 'er rip, folks.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007


As with the passing of another luminary last winter -- Augosto Pinochet -- I won't stoop to the level of the man about whom I'm writing. No sir, no unkind words here for Jerry Falwell, not on the day after he's shuffled off the mortal coil.

I'm all dignified & shit, ya' know?

Instead, I'll merely let the founder of Liberty University & the man who brought us the Moral Majority speak for himself:

On the tragedy of 9/11:
I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
On AIDS & homosexuality:
AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals.
On Martin Luther King & the Civil Rights movement:
I do question the sincerity and non-violent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations.
On organized labor:
Labor unions should study and read the Bible instead of asking for more money. When people get right with God, they are better workers.
And let's not forget who put Tinky Winky in the headlines, and if I'm not mistaken, blamed the 2004 tsunami on homosexuals.

Anyhow, with those words of wisdom, empathy, and charity in mind, perhaps I'll leave off with a quotation from the man he supposedly represented on earth (and here's hoping St. Peter knows his New Testament):
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Or how 'bout this one:
Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"
Good luck, Jerry (you're gonna need it.)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


That was fun last night. I met a friend for a burger & a beer three beers last night, to catch up, watch the Mets, etc. I needed to finish up something at work, so I didn't get to the bar til about 8:00. And . . .

Mets down 4-0 before I watched the first pitch. Yikes!

But, as I filled my belly with The Three Food Groups® -- ground beef, fried potatos & dry Irish Stout -- I watched the Mets mount a methodical, no-panic comeback. It seemed as inevitable as the 5th inning visit to the facilities.

So what did we have? David Wright continuing his resurrection, going deep the other way to get the boys back in the game. Jose, Jose, Jose slappin' singles, drawin' walks, pickin' it at SS, stealin' bases on pitch-outs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th (you know, the standard stuff). Carlos Delgado recognizing that can't hit anything lately, choosing instead to wait out wild pitchers choking under the pressure of late-inning drama.

Yes, it was that kind of game. A few thoughts:

1. Finally, Gary, Ron & The Eternal Captain doing the game at the same time. And I was in a bar with music -- good music at least -- playing. I missed every word. I'll assume Keith said the following about Delgado:
a. He "pulled off the ball" when he swung & missed last night; and
b. Some variation on "That may get him started" after he dunked in the single that Soriano butchered; and
c. Some variation on "That's a veteran move" as he took ball one and ball two in the final at-bat.
I'm sure I'm correct here.

2. Aaron Heilman earned the win by throwing one pitch. Always love that.

3. Sound or no sound, is there anything more entertaining than watching Lou Piniella as his team blows a 4-run lead?

4. Jose Reyes (just had to say it.)

5. Uncle Cliffy probably didn't enjoy last night's game as much as I did.

(Just a guess.)

6. How cool is Joe Smith?

7. Nice defense by Damion Easley last night. Do you think 'Stache "took one for the team" and let Easley into the secret chamber in Willie's office? Shaved off the moustache and brewed some tea which he gave to Damion? What's the story here?

8. Johnny Maine tonight. Let's go big guy. Here's hoping the Mets make this Zambrano look like . . . well, you know.

9. I can't say it. I don't wanna get within 3 miles of the names "Victor Zambrano" or "Scott Kazmir."

10. You didn't read that. I actually wrote "Beltran," "Wright," & "Reyes."

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Monday, May 14, 2007


Tom explains.

Nothing snarky or silly this morning, just some cool photos:

1. "IMG_2193.rot," uploaded by "walt.gao" on January 8, 2007:

2. "IMG_2193," uploaded by "boozyjimcarver" on July 23, 2005.

Scotland, apparently. See Nessie's head poking over the waters in the rear right?

3. "2193," uploaded by "charleszq" on December 25, 2006:

According to the Flickr page, that's Shanghai, by the way.

Happy Monday.

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Friday, May 11, 2007


It's official. The United States of America has officially become the wussiest nation in world history. Let's stop fooling ourselves and embrace that fact.

Along with beef, chain stores, wars of aggression, & freedom, I would think Hollywood is one our top cultural exports. One of those things that "define" us on the world stage. Well, with that utterly unsubstantiated assertion in mind, bear witness to this lil' blurb from AP:
Smoking will be a bigger factor in determining film ratings, the Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday . . . [the MPAA's] ratings board, which previously had considered underage smoking in assigning film ratings, now will take into account smoking by adults, as well. That adds smoking to a list of such factors as sex, violence and language in determining the MPAA's G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17 ratings. Film raters will consider the pervasiveness of tobacco use, whether it glamorizes smoking and the context in which smoking appears, as in movies set in the past when smoking was more common.
Before I even go on here, one little snippet from the article makes me laugh: "Violence"??? Since when has that had jack shit (uh, I mean jack crap . . . uhh, I mean jack doodoo) to do with ratings?

I'll be the first to admit that most movies feature way too much smoking. It just looks silly. People don't smoke as much as they used to, and when the supposedly glamorous or wealthy characters on screen smoke constantly, it looks inauthentic. I think many directors use smoking as a visual crutch: letting the character light up absolves them of the responsibility to create stronger, fresher images, or write more fully realized dialogue.

But that's their choice. Hollywood has long thrown money & marketing at hacks. It's the 'Mercan Way!

And that leads me to another funny part of this story. As always in the United States of Wussiness, it's all "about the children." But anyone who's ever been a teenager knows that an R rating does anything but discourage them to see a movie. If anything, it makes it more likely that teens and pre-teens will go. Has any teenager in history ever failed to get into an R movie because they were unaccompanied by an "adult or guardian"?

And what's next? What will they add to "Profanity," "Nudity," "Smoking," & "Thematic Elements," to earn that coveted R rating? "Intelligent Dialogue," "Pervasive Lack of Cartoonish Action," "Realistic Depiction of Violence"?

Any thoughts? Additional suggestions to the MPAA?

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


(Even more than usual, that is).

And why am demanding that you practice your genuflection? Because the long-awaited I-Pod has arrived! As soon as I manage to load all my spectacular tunage into the device (which, knowing me, should be sometime in 2009), I will join the other 87.4% of bloggers and egocentrically post random samplings of my random I-Pod shuffling.

And has anyone requested such a thing? No! Has anyone so much as hinted they wanna see so much as half a post on this utterly self-referential subject? No! Will that stop me from doing it once a week anyhow? Well, you can fill in that answer.

(Don't ever accuse me of jealously guarding aspects of my life no one cares about.)

Incidently, the thing arrived without with a hitch. The on-line Apple store made quite a big deal over the fact that a signature would be required upon delivery, followed by all manner of special instructions how to deal with this, waive this, overcome this, etc. So what happened yesterday?

I worked late and someone buzzed at 8:00 pm. Mrs. Mike asked who it was & he informed her he had a delivery for Mr. Mike*, something that'd been mistakenly delivered to his house. When she went to the door, the good citizen had disappeared, leaving only the Apple box in his stead!

Good thing they require a signature. I guess they're not very particular as to whose signature it is. Next door neighbor, random pedestrian, homeless guy, the guy who delivers the package, the ghost of John Hancock, doesn't matter. Just sign and deliver.

Anyhow, I plan to start loading this weekend, assuming I'm not too swamped with work (yes, you read that correctly. Welcome back to full-time lawyerdom). And then the first Random music lists should arrive, never to go away.
* Not my real name. As I've said before, "Mike Mike" would be a really silly name. I may be a really silly man, but my name is actually very ordinary.

(And that IS NOT an invitation for the handful of you who know my real name to go posting it! You've been forewarned.)

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007


In a visit sure to raise troop morale (or at least see them running for cover), none other than Sure-Shot Dick Cheney showed up yesterday in Iraq. Oh joy. And I'm sure he'll be heading outside the Green Zone to sweep for IEDs any minute now.

Interestingly, the man known for his highly individualized "priorities" will also be stopping in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, before checking out Jordan and Egypt on the way back.

Now whattaya' suppose he'll be talking about in the UAE? Weapons programs? The need for more troops from that military powerhouse? A personalized invitation into the Coalition of the Willing, complete with smiley faces and hearts in place of the dots on the "i" of coalition and willing?

I bet he never faces one company of troops, unless it's a couple hand-picked soldiers for a PR stunt.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Just six-and-a-half short months after Yadier Molina (aka, Yadier Fucking Molina) forgot he was a useless .216 hitter and decided to hit the home run that destroyed the Mets' great season, what did I have to watch last night?

Benji, Yadier's older, paunchier brother went deep twice in the same inning (that'd be the Giants' nine run inning). It didn't even matter that the first of those home runs never left the ballpark and the umps blew the call.

To put it in perspective: the last S.F. Giant to go yard twice in an inning was a fella named McCovey. The guy with the cove named after him. With a plaque in a small-town museum in upstate NY. The guy who managed to hit 519 other homers beyond that two-fer inning.

Molina? 85 other homers. Only thing named after him was a dog. No plaque, just a large plate of cheese fries. What have the Mets done to deserve this?

I blame Clemens & Steinbrenner.

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Monday, May 07, 2007


Tom. "Rules." You know the drill.

"IMG_3655," uploaded by "PandAbyssinia" on May 7, 2007:

Liam, Zerko, Osvaldo & their friends tried, but failed, to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, losing preliminary round matches to Lesotho, Liechtenstein, the Vatican, and Freedonia. But after similarly failing to advance in the Continent Cup, Country Cup, Province Cup, State Cup, County Cup, and even the little-known Municipality Cup, success found them at long last when they won the Northeast Corner Of Main & Broad Cup.

After months of effort, they finally lifted the Schmidt's Butcher Shop Trophy. Jules Rimet could kiss their European immigrant asses.

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Friday, May 04, 2007


As the regulars here know, I'm not much of a sci-fi fan. But, life being the funny thing that it is, I seem to have a fair share of sci-fi fans among the readership.

And why is this worth mentioning? Why am I not informing you, for instance, that I like purple, while 54% of Neighborhood visitors prefer red? That I often choose a hearty stout or doppelbock, while most opt for a pale ale or thirst-quenching pilsener?

(What the hell am I talking about?)

I mention it because the repository of art & culture we know as "Entertainment Weekly" has rated the Top Science Fiction Movies & TV Shows of the Past 25 Years, that's why. They rated The Matrix #1. Sounds good to me. I liked The Matrix a lot, partly because it didn't seem too Sci Fi to me. But I wonder what others think.

Or think about some of the others that EW rated: "X-Files" (I never watched it), "Battlestar Gallactica" (same), Wrath of Khan (loved it when I saw it 25 years ago), Brazil (many years for me, but I was very impressed), Blade Runner (never understood the hoopla), ET (WTF???), Aliens (never saw it -- is that Sci-Fi? Set in Space makes it Sci Fi?).

And while we're at it, any thoughts regarding flicks or shows from beyond the last 25 years (I predict Applesaucer names 2001: A Space Odessey)? That gets "Twilight Zone" into the mix at least.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007


Unless my memory fails me, didn't Jabba The Cheney cry bloody murder a couple months ago when Nancy Pelosi met with Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria? Hmmm.

Now, I'm neither here to defend Assad, nor to devote paeons to the Speaker. Normally speaking, I come to query the speaker, not to praise her.

(Hold your groans.)

But this little tidbit in today's news seems juuuuuuust a bit inconsistent with the Administration's position of a month ago:
"Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will meet Syria's foreign minister Thursday in the first high-level talks between the two countries in years."
Hmmmm. Now I could take issue with the fact that by many definitions, the "Speaker of the House" is a higher level position that "Secretary of State." One's elected, the other appointed. Al Haig's views notwithstanding, one is two breaths from the White House, the other is not. One has enormous influence over national policy, the other only if she's having an affair with the President not so much.

Nor will I take issue with the fact that "President" of Syria seems to my brain to be a higher level position than "Foreign Minister" of Syria. But since it's 15 years since I earned my doctorate in "Syrian Political Hierarchy Studies" I won't leap in on that topic either.

Nah, what I'll stick to are these two simple observations:
1. Cheney Sucks.
2. The Press Sucks.
That's all.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007


George Bush Vetos A Bill (Boo.)

David Wright Goes Deep (Yea.)

(They did dine together last winter, no?)

Now, I'll make like Atrios: Discuss.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Well, that was a real stinker, huh? A few thoughts:

1. Keith -- who skips at least half the games for whatever reason anyway -- should not announce when he sounds like he did last night. That was torture to the ears.

The question, as always: Sick? Hungover? "The Drip"? C'mon Keith, level swings. It's a long season.

2. Chan Ho Park should never pitch for the Mets again. That was torture to the game of baseball. I realize Philip Humber wasn't rested enough to take his turn, nor do Omar & Willie seem inclined to call him up, but he's the guy I wanna see in Shea. And not only for emergency starts, but to take Pelfey's rotation slot if he can't get untracked.

That said, Sosa and not Park should've started last night.

3. Valentin on the DL concerns me, and not because I'm worried about Easley getting the ABs for the next two weeks. No, it's because I want 'Stache's glove in there. He's a better second baseman from what I've seen. Better at turning the DP.

4. Finally, after one month, I'm gonna evaluate some of my pre-season predictions, to see if I'm on track. A few, chosen at random:
"El Duque will be on the DL as of May 1 at the latest"
Well, last night was April 30, and he missed his first start. I'm giving myself an A+ for that one.
Regarding Aaron Heilman: "We're in good hands here."
Uhhh, not quite as good.
As to Burgos & Park (as two-thirds of the Burgos, Mota & Park LLP lawfirm): "we'll get a lot of strikeouts [and] a huge number of homers yielded."
Now I'll admit, that wasn't much of a stretch, but they've combined to strike out 15, walk 9, and yield 3 home runs in 17 1/3 innings.
As to Mike Pelfrey: "Rookie starters'll break your heart . . . They will just friggin kill you . . . if you go into the season needing solid production from a rookie starter, you're rolling the dice. May as well start hitting on 12 every hand. You'll catch some 7s, 8s, & 9s, but over time, You Will Bust."
Wish I were wrong. But I wasn't.
On Johnnie Maine: "The pitching key, as far as starters go. I think he's gonna be good . . . Prediction: 206 IP, 3.54 ERA, 163 K, 68 BB. With good run support and good bullpen help, that can translate to 15-18 wins. I'm thinking big."
As good as he's been, and as much as I like him, I can't say I'm that certain to see this continue without abatement. Pitching in the bigs is difficult. I think Maine's the real deal, but 4-0 starts aren't that uncommon. I don't think he'll slide, but he could.

Now, on the hitting side of the ledger, I caught enormous amounts of shit from certain people regarding my thoughts on Carlos Delgado. Here's what I said:
"he's getting a little old. He'll show up every day, pay attention in the field, approach his at-bats intelligently, jot down notes afterwards, you know the drill. When he's hot the ball's going all over the park with authority; when he's cold he'll strike out 5 times every 4 at-bats, try to pull everything, and do his jotting more immediately after the at-bat than otherwise. Good season: 4 hot months, two cold. Bad season: [2 hot, 4 cold] . . . My prediction: .266, 29 HR, 64 BB. Let's say 266/345/490."
I know it's a long season, but how's that looking so far? We just had one of those cold months. For my call to be correct, he "needs" 3 more cold, and 2 hot. For those who freaked on me, he'll have to be hot for 4 months and cold only one more from here on out.

Anyone wanna change their bet?

(And is it just me, or is Carlos not jotting down notes this year? Maybe that's the problem. Either that or his damn newborn is keeping him up at night. Mrs. Delgado's gotta let her hubby sleep! He can change diapers from November through March; let him sleep during the season.)
About Young Mr. Wright: "I'm n[ot] worried about him . . . even if he's off, he'll still be good . . . We'll be fine. That said, I'd like to see him be a little more selective this season, draw a few more walks . . . My prediction: .311, 31 HR, 83 BB. Sounds like about 311/400/550. Nice."
Well, he's walking. Otherwise . . . uhhh, no comment. I'm staying positive.
On my man Reyes: "My prediction: .315, 23 HR, 59 BB, 63 SB, or about 315/375/515."
The average could end up being about right, and I suppose he'll hit more homers as the weather heats up, but it looks already like I grossly undershot on the walks and steals. Unbelievable. But you know what, I don't even wanna talk about this.

And finally, as to Moises Alou:
"Offensive Key #2. If Alou, who's older than Julio Franco, El Duque and Tom Glavine combined, can stay healthy, keep the urine on his hands, stay away from Steve Bartman, and get somewhere in the 400-500 AB range, this'll be a huge improvement over last season when Cliff Floyd managed to play in about 6 games, somehow recording 450 outs in the process, while batting .074 . . . My prediction: 110 games, 400 ABs, .284, 17 HRs, 43 BB. That should get him into the 284/355/475 range. Not great, but a big improvement over '06."
He's been going well, though he's already hit into 5 double plays. Anyway, in my opinion he's on pace to reach my prediction unless Willie friggin' rests him from time-to-time. He's 40 years old and he plays hard, diving for balls in the outfield, hustling on the bases, swing hard every at-bat. Maybe the Valentin & El Duque situations'll remind Willie of what he should already know: older players get hurt, they get aches, they spend time on the DL. Selected games off mean one game missed, when the manager chooses.

Stints on the DL mean 13 or 14 games missed, and those games could come against the Braves. C'mon Willie, ruin my prediction. Blow it out of the water.

Finally, I predicted the Mets would win 90 games and battle the Braves, Phils & marlins for the flag. If they stay relatively healthy, I think they'll win more than 90. But with the age of the roster, I'm sticking with that one for the time being. Though I remain quite confident they'll be playing ball in October, one way or the other.