Thursday, July 31, 2008


So, I head to JFK in about 2 1/2 hours, to catch a flight to visit my in-laws.

In South Korea.

Yes, that's right. By early morning tomorrow (which be early evening at my destination) I'll be in Asia. Pretty cool, huh?

Briefly, both of Mrs. Mike's parents turn 70 this year, and in honor of that festive event, all five siblings (plus spouses & spawn) will join them to congregate in some small, provincial South Korean city, the name of which I don't recall, to celebrate. And if they celebrate in traditional Korean style, that should involve prodigious amounts of food & drink. Which is one reason I ain't complainin'.

(When your father-in-law insists that you drink with him, pretty hard for your wife to nag, ya see?)

And after a decade together, I've come to enjoy many aspects of Mrs. Mike's native culture, the food most of all. And like a lot of things in the world, kimchi and other staples are much better in their home country than elsewhere. I'm psyched.

Of course, I'll be more exhausted when I get back than I am right now after having worked long hours 6 straight days (weekend included). We're talking not only in-laws here, but in-laws some of whom don't speak English. And 14 hour flights to far-away time zones do little to set the mind & body at ease.

Whatever, it is what it is, and I'm gonna make the most of it. I'll report when I get back.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008


Finishing this thing off, I present to you Part Three of My Lifetime In Music Meme. We've done Part I, and we've done Part II.

Funny how those three part things work.

Late in Part II, after 40 years in the desert, we arrived at the Golden Years (Part II) that I know as 1986-94, with the goldenist golden year of them all, 1991.
But by 1995, the music biz what it is and all, things started coming back to earth. Not that there weren't gonna be some outstanding releases. There were.

And, more importantly, in terms of the quality of music on this list, by the late 90s, the combination of a burgeoning career and a marriage meant that my music fanaticism was about to take a hit. But don't let me tell you that. See for yourself:

The Dark Years Don't Quite Return, But Let's Call 'Em The Shadowy Years:

1995: The Bends - Radiohead
Runners-up: Elastica - Elastica; Garbage - Garbage; (What's The Story) Morning Glory - Oasis; I Am An Electric Firecracker - Tripping Daisy

1996 (Tie): Odelay - Beck; Tigermilk - Belle & Sebastian
Runners-up: Call The Doctor - Sleater-Kinney; Tidal - Fiona Apple; From The Muddy Banks Of The Wishkah - Nirvana; If You're Feeling Sinister - Belle & Sebastian; Viva! La Woman - Cibo Matto

The "Mike Gets Old And Has No Idea What's Going On In Music" Years:

1997: OK, Computer - Radiohead

1998: In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
Runners-up: Whitecholcolatespaceegg - Liz Phair; Moon Safari - Air; The Boy With The Arab Strap - Belle & Sebastian

1999: Magnolia - Various Artists
Runner-up: 69 Love Songs - The Magnetic Fields; When The Pawn . . . - Fiona Apple

2000: All Hands On The Bad One - Sleater-Kinney
Runner-up: Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea - PJ Harvey; O Brother, Where Art Thou? - Various Artists

The "Mike Completely Loses Touch And Knows Nothing But Retro-ish Guitar Bands And A Random Brazilian Or Spaniard Here-Or-There" Years

2001: White Blood Cells - White Stripes
Runner-up: Is This It - The Strokes; Próxima Estación: Esperanza - Manu Chau

2002: Os Tribalistas - Tribalistas
Runner-up: A Rush Of Blood To The Head - Coldplay; One Beat - Sleater-Kinney

2003: Elephant - White Stripes
Runner-up: Youth & Young Manhood - Kings Of Leon; Get Born - Jet

2004: American Idiot - Green Day
Runner-up: Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

2005: Wolfmother - Wolfmother
Runners-up: Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple; Sunlandic Twins - Of Montreal

2006: Broken Boy Soldiers - Raconteurs
Runner-up: Return To Cookie Mountain - TV On The Radio; Alright, Still - Lily Allen

2007: Sky Blue Sky - Wilco (Nice enough album, but this is really a default selection; not sure I know any other 2007 release well enough to judge. Well, maybe one and I'm not that crazy about it)
Runner-up: Icky Thump - White Stripes

2008: Consolers Of The Lonely - Raconteurs
This is the only 2008 album I have, so of course it's number one. I happen to like it though.

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So, as you picked up on yesterday, I'm doin' that meme thing, running down My Lifetime In Music. We began with the Golden Years of Music (1967-1969, unable due to my "youth" to include the Golden Years 1965-66), as they glided into those gosh-darn Classic Rock Years, and into the decade-long abyss known as the mid-seventies thru mid-eighties. Picking up where we left off (where Rush, a solid-enough band in its heyday, but hardly a 1st ballot Hall Of Famer took the gold for 1980) . . .

Some of you will point out all the "great music" of the early-to-mid 80s that I've "missed." I hear you, and I know of what you speak. But I have to be honest here. I spent the early to mid 80s in my deepest point of Classic Rock Heaven/Hell. Sorry, I wasn't cool yet. The only "new" music I liked was Rush or The Police. Hell, even early, IRS label REM, which you'll see a bit of below, didn't hit my music collection 'til after-the-fact.

But much as I like certain songs, and respect the bands, there is no Bad Brains, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Minutemen, Fugazi, Jesus & Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, Robin Hitchcock & The Egyptians in my collection. Never has been. Nor any early XTC or The Jam or Jonathan Richman or any of that. So, if you don't like what you see for the first few years that appear on this list, just remember: I wasn't digging the contemporary music either (just wait til we hit '86 or so . . .)

The Dark Years (Continued):

Moving Pictures - Rush (Who the hell else am I gonna choose? Joan Jett?)
Runner-up: None

1982: Chronic Town - REM
Runner-up: None

1983: Murmur - REM
Runner-up: Synchronicity - The Police

1984: Reckoning - REM
Runner-up: None

1985: Fables Of The Reconstruction - REM (Listen, I like REM. But the fact that I've picked them four years in a row says more about how much I thought, and still think, music sucked in those years. Meanwhile, something was stirring . . .)
Runner-up: None

The Golden Years (Part II):

1986: The Good Earth - The Feelies (Produced by REM's Peter Buck actually)
Runner-up: Life's Rich Pageant - REM; Camper Van Beethoven - Camper Van Beethoven; Graceland - Paul Simon

1987: Jane's Addiction - Jane's Addiction (XXX)
Runners-up: Document - REM; Sister - Sonic Youth; Come On Pilgrim - Pixies; Joshua Tree -U2

The Golden Core Of The Golden Years:

1988: Only Life - The Feelies
Runners-up: Daydream Nation - Sonic Youth; Nothing's Shocking - Jane's Addiction; Surfer Rosa - Pixies; Truth & Soul - Fishbone; Green - REM; The Trinity Session - Cowboy Junkies; If I Should Fall From Grace With God - Pogues

1989: Beasts Of No Nation - Fela Kuti
Runners-up: Doolittle - Pixies; Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys; Key Lime Pie - Camper Van Beethoven

1990: Ritual De Lo Habitual - Jane's Addiction
Runners-up: Bossanova - Pixies; GodWeenSatan: The Oneness - Ween; Fear Of A Black Planet - Public Enemy; Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic - The Sundays; A Catholic Education - Teenage Fanclub

1991 (Best Year For Music Ever): Bandwagonesque - Teenage Fanclub
Runners-up: Loveless - My Bloody Valentine; Nevermind - Nirvana; Trompe Le Monde - Pixies; Uncle Anesthesia - Screaming Trees; Gish - Smashing Pumpkins; Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers; Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet; Time For A Witness - Feelies; Reality Of My Surroundings - Fishbone

1992: Check Your Head - Beastie Boys
Runners-up: Dirty - Sonic Youth; Copper Blue - Sugar; Pure Guava - Ween; Dry - PJ Harvey; Dirt - Alice In Chains; Bill - Tripping Daisy

Back To The Non-Core Of The Still-Very-Golden Years:

1993: Exile In Guyville - Liz Phair
Runners-up: In Utero - Nirvana; Vs. - Pearl Jam

1994: Chocolate & Cheese - Ween
Runners-up: Jar Of Flies - Alice In Chains; Mellow Gold - Beck; Dookie - Green Day; Definitely Maybe - Oasis; MTV Unplugged In New York - Nirvana; Stranger Than Fiction - Bad Religion

Back tomorrow with the third and final installment, in which I prove that as I aged my fanaticism for music went the way of the LP and the cassette tape . . .

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


What a drag it is getting old.

(And the song from which I took that line is older than me).

Ya' see, Furious tagged me (and just about everybody else) with the most time-consuming yet . . . consuming meme I've ever come across: Your Lifetime Through Music. In other words, as described by El Furioso, start at the Wikipedia page for the year in music for the year of your birth, and pick the best (or your favorite) album from each year you've been alive. It's as easy as that.

And it's hard!

It's funny, just like anything else, there are good years and bad years. Some years (read: the mid-70s thru mid-80s; mid to late-90s) feature albums which are clearly the year's best, yet they wouldn't make the top 20 of other years (read: late 60s or early 90s). Other years (read: 1969, 1971, 1991) have at least three or four that would dominate a lesser year. But that's how it goes.

(Carl Yastrzemski led the AL in batting at .301 in 1968. And the number one album for 1981 was . . . well, you're just gonna have to wait and see.)

Remember, these albums are "My Favorites," not what I think is "The Best." Except when they aren't. And, as it has to be, the opinions are mine as of today. Except when they aren't. And I discovered some of these albums well after their release date (either because of non-birth or because of missed opportunities.) Finally, runners-up if-and-when appropriate. Let's get to it.

Today, I'll present the first third of the 42 years (1967-2008) I've existed on this mortal coil. Only caught 18 days of 1967, but a fine year it was for tunes. The remaining 28 years to follow in the coming days. Anyhow . . .

The Golden Years (Part I):

1967: Are You Experienced - Jimi Hendrix
Runners-up: Velvet Underground & Nico - Velvet Underground; Live At Monterey - Ravi Shankar; Sgt. Peppers - Beatles; Surrealistic Pillow - Jefferson Airplane

1968: The White Album - The Beatles
Runners-up: Music From Big Pink - The Band; Astral Weeks - Van Morrison; Sweetheart Of The Rodeo - The Byrds; Beggars Banquet - Rolling Stones; John Wesley Harding - Bob Dylan; Hair - Original Cast Recording

1969: The Band - The Band
Runners-up: Abbey Road - The Beatles; Let It Bleed - Rolling Stones; Live Dead - Grateful Dead; Tommy - The Who; Santana - Santana

The Classic Rock Radio-Fodder Years:

American Beauty - Grateful Dead
Runners-up: Led Zeppelin III - Led Zeppelin; Deja Vu - CSNY; Live At Leeds - The Who; John Barleycorn Must Die - Traffic; Paranoid - Black Sabbath; Loaded - Velvet Underground; Workingman's Dead - Grateful Dead

1971: Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin
Runners-up: At Fillmore East - Allman Brothers Band; Jesus Christ Superstar - Various Artists; Tapestry - Carole King; What's Goin' On - Marvin Gaye; Sticky Fingers - Rolling Stones; Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs - Derek & The Dominoes; Who's Next - The Who; All Things Must Pass - George Harrison; Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy - The Who

1972: Exile On Main Street - Rolling Stones
Runners-up: Eat A Peach - Allman Brothers Band; Europe '72 - Grateful Dead

1973: Dark Side Of The Moon - Pink Floyd
Runners-up: The Wild, The Innocent & The East Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen; Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin

The Dark Years (and man, this Dark Age lasted a longggggggg time):

1974: Blood On The Tracks - Bob Dylan (My copy says it's from 1974, even though Wikipedia says 1975. I'm sticking with '74 so I can have an entry for this astonishingly weak year).

1975: Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen
Runners-up: The Basement Tapes - Bob Dylan & The Band (I'd make this the winner, but this was recorded in '66-'67, remastered & dubbed, etc in '74 or so); Live! - Bob Marley & The Wailers

1976: Desire - Bob Dylan
Runners-up: The Royal Scam - Steely Dan; Boston - Boston; 2112 - Rush; Songs In The Key Of Life - Stevie Wonder

1977: Never Mind The Bollocks - Sex Pistols
Runners-up: Rumours - Fleetwood Mac; Saturday Night Fever - Various Artists (I don't own either of these, but I loved 'em both as a kid. Plus, the mid to late 70's are so weak, I have to fill up the list somehow)

1978: Darkness On The Edge Of Town - Bruce Springsteen
Runners-up: The Cars - The Cars; Parallel Lines - Blondie; Van Halen - Van Halen (Four solid albums, to be sure, but holy shit was that a bad year)

1979: London Calling - The Clash
Runners-up: Breakfast In America - Supertramp; Fear Of Music - Talking Heads; Regatta De Blanc - The Police; The Wall - Pink Floyd

1980: Permanent Waves - Rush
Runner-up: Back In Black - AC/DC

Back tomorrow (Tuesday) with Part II (1981-1994). In other words, some of the worst musical years on record and then . . . The Renaissance.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


Tag I'm it, huh? This may be the first time I read someone's meme, followed the link to see who tagged him, and then discovered I'd been tagged by the original memer who tagged him.

Or something like that.

Anyhoo, Tracy, proprieter of Bowl of Life, and charming & lovely wife of the decidedly unlovely (but crankily charming) Toast, has tagged me to tell the world . . . uhhh, let's um sorta say, well . . . which five famous woman I'd like to, uh you know . . .

. . . bone like a mad dog and get away with it scot-free based on some sort of unrealistic contract with my wife.

(As opposed to the very realistic opportunity to lay my wily skills upon five of the world's hottest, sexiest, and desirable women. I tell, it ain't easy being me.)

Whatever, let's get to it. My Five babes o' pleasure:

1. Audrey Tautou. Just so friggin' pretty it hurts my eyes to stare too long. Although if pushed to define myself, I'm definitely more of a leg than a breast man (and a nice butt ain't exactly poison to my tastes either), nevertheless I'm just a sucker for the exquisite face. As the remainder of this list will show.

2. Shakira. Of course as I just noted, I have no problem with a nice ass either. Nor with shaking of said ass.

(And her face ain't too shabby.)

3. 1954 Version of Grace Kelly (i.e. Grace Kelly in Rear Window)

Now before any of you give me any shit for picking someone from a particular time window 54 years ago (not to mention with someone who'd been dead for over 20 years), let's examine the premise at work here: a schlub like me not only gets to take a tumble with Audrey Tautou & Shakira . . . but his wife knows about it and thinks it's just cool.

(Don't worry, honey. You just go and sleep with those stunningly beautiful women (and three more of your choosing!) and it's no problem with me.)

So, please. If I wanna pick Miss Assyria from 728 B.C., then that's who I'm picking, all right?

Grace, circa 1954 baby. Whooooo! Like I said, I like a pretty face and they didn't get any purtier than that.

4. Bibi Andersson (circa mid-50's)

What the hell? Since I'm doing this journey into the past thing.

5. Oh, I don't know and I don't even care. After those four I'm gonna be pretty worn out, and frankly I'm getting bored with this whole exercise.

But if I have to pick? Natalie Portman's always in style. Parker Posey suits my "pretty good looking but quirky chick" needs. Michelle Wie fills a bunch of fetishes since she's Asian, 6 feet tall (5'7" of which is leg), and can drive a golf ball farther than I could with 5 swings (or would "strokes" be more appropriate?). Any of 'em will do.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


That game was a fucking nightmare. Blown lead, questionable managerial decisions, boneheaded fielding, baserunning gaffes aided by ridiculous third base coaching moves, Jimmy Rollins driving in the winning runs and then yapping about this that and the other thing to the press after the game . . .

. . . Billy Wagner once again unavailable for a series against the Phillies, So "Fucking" Taguchi involved in the rally, Aaron Heilman sitting in the pen while three clowns coughed up the lead . . .

. . . Johan Santana hitting the showers after 105 pitches, Jerry Manual making up some bullshit story about how Santana never threw more than 100 pitches with the Twins* . . .

Have I missed anything?
* Let's see. In 2004, the year Santana won his first Cy Young Award behind his 20-6, 2.61 ERA, 265 K performance, he topped 100 pitches in 22 of his 34 starts, including a streak of 16 in a row at one point during which he went 12-3 with a microscopic ERA. Among those were 7 starts of over 110 pitches during a 12 start stretch. 8-3 with a low ERA in those games.

How about 2006, a far more recent era in baseball's evolution, when Santana won his second Cy? 20 of his 34 starts. In 2005, 20 out of 33 starts, including 5 of over 110 pitches. Last year? Same 20/33, including 6 of more than 110.

Hell, this year, he topped 100 pitches in 13 of his 17 starts, including 6 times over 110. Incidentally, he pitched well in all-but-one of the starts following those over-110 pitch outings.

You know what this means? Manuel is Full Of Shit. He Made It Up. Maybe he has his reasons; I suspect he does not. But in terms of the last two starts Johan made against the Phils, where Manuel took him out in the 9th with 95 & 105 pitches logged respectively, the Met manager felt better facing the division rival with Duaner Sanchez on the hill.

They lost both games.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Perhaps the best way to approach this from here on out is just to report which vegetables are not infected with salmonella. Or whatever other revolting bacterium is floating within those cell walls.

I can see it. Sort of a color-coded "heightened security level" caution for produce:
Today's color is green. All green vegetables, leafy or not, are infected with ebola, botulism, and syphilis. Eat only tomatoes & jalapeños, which while containing salmonella will not kill you as readily as the green vegetables.

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Friday, July 18, 2008


10 in a row!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Since the national media covers John McCain more than anyone except Obama & Josh Hamilton, As I'm sure you all know by now that "Maverick" Johnny told people that "I know how to win wars."

That's right, Johnny The Maverick knows how to win wars. He knows it like Josh Hamilton knows The Lord wants him to win Home Run Derbies. Like Pat Robertson knows when the next horrific natural disaster will hit. Like I know I know everything there is to know.

Let's review, shall we:

* John McCain was in the Navy. Ok, that's good. I assume that military service helps a fella know something about wars. Winning them, losing them, screwing them up, what have you.

* John McCain was captured and spent most of his time during the war in which he served as a prisoner-of-war. Now, let's make this clear. That sucks for John, and I'm not mocking him or blaming him for that. I've stayed in some bad places of lodging, including Motel 6, but the Hanoi Hilton musta' been pretty bad.

But getting captured and spending the duration of the war doesn't exactly make one an expert in winning, now does it?

* John McCain's service (in which he was a prisoner) came during the only war in American history that we flat-out lost.

(Current war(s) pending.)

Now maybe that's not fair either, but as John Adams is said to have said, facts are stubborn things.

So, to summarize: John McCain served in the military like 35 or 40 years ago, in a losing war, and he was captured and spent the entire war in a military prison. And these experiences give him omniscience into war-winning.

Glad to have that straightened out.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


For those of you who missed last night's Home Run Derby (brought to you by a consortium of State Farm Insurance, Partnership For A Drug-Free America, Partnership For An Atheist-Free America, and Partnership For A Tattoo-Free America), let me briefly recap 10 things that we saw, that we learned, and that made me vomit 13' 7'' across my room, covering 84% of my TV screen in one shot:

1. Josh Hamilton is the awesomest, amazingest, stupendousist, gloriousest human being ever to walk onto the hallowed ground of Yankee Stadium, aka, The Hallowed Ground where Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle slew the dragon, established our constitutional republic, and never whored around or got smashingly drunk.

2. Before he became the awesomest, amazingest, stupendousist, gloriousest human being ever to walk onto the hallowed ground of Yankee Stadium, Josh Hamilton did heroin, did crack, got tattoos, banged broads, killed puppies, worshipped Satan, hung out with Muslim terrorists, bought Celine Dion records, pissed on Joe Dimaggio's monument, and even ate hamburgers seasoned with salt substitute and non-Heinz ketchup.

(Which he spelled "catsup.")

3. Then he found The Lord, asked three cosmetic surgeons if they could remove his unsightly & blasphemous tattoos, and had a bizarre dream about Babe Ruth, Skip Bayless, his 71 year-old American Legion coach, and an appearence in the Home Run Derby.

4. This dream also included the mass execution of the world's Atheists. Every one of the 143 Atheists in the world were killed by being forced to stand directly in the path of one of Josh Hamilton's majestic home runs.

5. Justin Morneau does not exist. He simply is not among the humans on earth. He doesn't hit home runs, he doesn't win Home Run Derbies, he doesn't speak to interviewers after winning Home Run Derbies, he is but a figment of the imagination of Atheists.

6. Josh Hamilton wins Home Run Derbies even when he doesn't win Home Run Derbies.

Don't understand? That's because you must be an Atheist.

7. Josh Hamilton is so awesome, amazing, stupendous, & glorious that it takes no fewer than 19 ESPN commentators to commentate on Josh Hamilton's victory in the Home Run Derby that he won even though he didn't win.

8. Even though Josh Hamilton is obvious kinda' dumb, as indicated by his decision to unnecessarily hit in the second round of the Home Run Derby that he won even though he didn't win, it doesn't matter: He Found The Lord.

9. Chris Berman sucks.

10. We -- and by "we," I mean we "Atheists," of course -- don't need to watch an event and feel our own emotions, follow our own opinions, or decide for whom we are rooting. No need, since we have 19 ESPN commentators telling us what to feel. And we felt, of course, that no one but Josh Hamilton was in the Home Run Derby that he won even though he didn't win, and we didn't want to watch Justin Morneau (who didn't win the Home Run Derby that he won because he does not exist!) because all we wanted to do was wait for Josh Hamilton to hit again.

I fear that after last night's events, more American are now using heroin than ever before. Question is: have they also gotten unsightly & blasphemous tattoos?

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Monday, July 14, 2008


Nine wins in a row! Holy shit. I didn't think they had it in them.

Do the rules allow a team to decline the All-Star break?

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Friday, July 11, 2008


In an effort to entertain myself -- and hopefully keep y'all remotely interested as well -- I'm gonna try something new here. I'd like to say this'll be a new running entry, but let's be honest. After the frequency of posting the last year or so I'm in no position to promise any entries at all, let alone those that "run." Nevertheless, the combination of a slightly-lessened workload and that summertime groove has me ready-to-write some days. So . . .

. . . in the effort to make like a blogger and put my thoughts down in the most random, disorganized style possible, I present The Big Three™. Just three things, in the loosest sense of "things" possible, that I'm currently digging. That's it. You were expecting more? Sorry. Anyhow, let's get to it:

1. Kings Of Leon, Youth & Young Manhood: Now if this one doesn't mark forever just how disgracefully out-of-it and unhip I am, I'm not sure what will. This one came out in 2003 and, yes, I've just discovered it. But I like it, so that should give me some street cred, right?


Whatever. So Neighborhood regular (and cranky & cantankerous commenter) Applesaucer has lent me a bunch of CDs over the last year, that I rip and load onto I-Tunes.

(See that? "Rip." "Load." "I-Tunes." I'm not as old & out-of-it as you thought. I'm with it, man. I even know what "e-mail" is.)

He's insisted that he's loaning me these discs in an effort to bring my musical tastes "into the 21st Century." Hey, fine by me. I've discovered some good stuff through this effort. Outrageous as it sounds, I owned no White Stripes, no Strokes, no Of Montreal, no Wolfmother, nor any of the other white boy music I've loaded up on lately.

So . . . I must have gotten Kings Of Leon onto the I-Pod months ago, but with over 6,000 songs on the contraption I can't really listen to everything. But I often listen to shuffle, and eventually I'll hear something new. And the other day I heard a kickin' little number, with a sharp, almost staccato guitar riff. Nice. But the groove was loose, almost sloppy. Got me shaking. And the singer's voice was shambolic, scratchy, nearly incomprehensible. But what I understood was wild. Stuff about dancing around in high heels, something about "your daughter." Vaguely transgressive, certainly "dirty."

And I liked it.

The name of the song is "Happy Alone," and the lyrics to the chorus go this way:
I'm gonna tangle my face hair, it's gonna tickle your daughter
3 o'clock and the moaning, they all cry to me,
I'll be prancin' around in my high heels, and your cherry red lipstick,
Look out your window I'm on your street.
Not really sure what that means exactly, but not too hard to get the general idea, in an impressionistic sense. And the song has exactly the sloppy-but-hard groove you'd expect from a band made up of three sons of a Southern preacher . . . and their cousin. Somehow, it's as if Faulkner's or Flannery O'Connor's vision of the South was distilled into a rock band. Let's put it this way, if the three "Kings" had a sister, she'd be a groupie in the band.

(Yes, that kinda groupie.)

They manage to sound salacious and shady, but there's a hint of the poetic. There's depth there. And since we're talking about sleazy rock n' roll, I have to add that they rock. Some have called them the Southern Strokes, ostensibly because of that sharp, thin guitar sound backing a charismatic, mumbling singer. That said, the Strokes wish they could rock this hard. Kings Of Leon have balls. Big balls.

In a way, they sound like what The Black Crowes are supposed to sound like. If the Brothers Robinson shaved off their shaggy hippy beards and drank Jack Daniels instead smoking weed, they might sound like the Kings Of Leon.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to checking out their next two albums. Which came out in 2005 & 2007, respectively. Hey, I'm old. I do things slower than "the kids." Moving along . . .

2. I've decided, after a year of respecting the twin constraints of monogomy & heterosexuality, to once again give in to the temptations of 2006 & early 2007. Yes, those of who who are longtime readers know of what I speak.

I've once again decided to ask Jose Reyes to marry me.

Look, I love Mrs. Mike very dearly, but despite important attributes & talents such as a loving heart, wicked cooking skills, and a vagina, she's terribly lacking in range up-the-middle, stolen base percentage, batting average with runners in scoring position, and triples as a left-handed hitter. Not to mention, her silly homerun dance flat-out sucks.

So even though Jose and I have been on the rocks for nearly a year now, I simply can't deny that underneath it all, I love him. Let the others say his "attitude" sucks. Let them say he makes too many errors. Let them say, goddamn it, that he hits too many fly balls. I say you don't deserve Jose!

And I also say: 319/385/505 with 53 runs and 30 RBI since the end of April (66 games). I also say 17 2B, 7 3B, and 7 HR with 30 BB in those 66 games. With 26 SB versus only 5 CS.

So I say, "Jose, will you marry me?" Let them scoff at me. Let them laugh at the guy who's married to a Korean woman and a Dominican man. Let them says I'm a polygamist, bisexual miscegenist. Let them say I'm little more than an online stalker. I don't care. My love is like teflon.

3. Prince Edward Island, Canada: As you may know, Mrs Mike and I recently vaca'd in Nova Scotia, aka, "The Whitest Place On Earth."

(That's why I didn't invite Jose.)

Anyhow, it's a cool place and we enjoyed ourselves, but the weather was pretty crappy and I don't have any good stories to tell. But . . . for two days in the middle of the trip we took the ferry to Prince Edward Island. It's a very beautiful place, with rolling farmland. Very green, and because it's an island (and a small one) you're always close to the water. Also, seems that in the early days the settlers cleared a lot of the forest, giving it some wonderful panoramas you don't otherwise get in Maine or Nova Scotia because there are so many trees.

Charlottetown, the capital "city" of PEI is a great little place. The area down by the harbor has a large number of old, red brick buildings that date from at least the early 19th century city, giving it the appearence that the oldest parts of NY or Boston have. Some nice bars and restaurants and damn-fresh seafood. I'm not a huge scallop fan, but the scallops in the Maritime Provinces are amazing -- sweet, tender, with no fishy smell whatsoever.

And, the most unexpected and possibly insane thing about PEI: the hoardes (and I'm not exaggerating) of Japanese tourists. Mostly female tourists, from young girls, through middle-aged women. Dozens and dozens and dozens. All over the island.

Seems that the Japanese are obsessed with the early 20th century novel, "Anne Of Green Gables." A novel written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, who grew up and wrote the book on Prince Edward Island. And on the north shore of the island, just down the road from Montgomery's grave sits . . . Green Gables. A small white house with . . . Green Gables.

(Whatever the fuck a gable is.)

And every year, thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Japanese folk come to Prince Edward Island to visit Green Gables. I tell you, it's the damnest thing you've ever seen.

Anyhoo, we enjoyed the PEI leg of the trip very much. I recommend a visit for any of you who were thinking of taking some time to visit the cold, cloudy coasts of Canada's Atlantic shore.

And that's what I've been digging lately.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


And in today's latest update from the "In The Realm Of Sports Fandom, I'd Rather Be Fortunate And Wrong Than Prescient And Right" Files . . .

(Or something like that)

. . . the N.Y. Mets are inching ever closer to first place is the (utterly suck-ass) NL East. On the strength of dominant performances by Mike Pelfrey. And Carlos Delgado. And the heretofore banjo-hitting squad of perma-backups known as Tatis, Easley, Chavez, and Joe McEwing.

Ok, not SuperJoe, but admit it, he'd fit right into this streak.

Anyhow, you can surely gather from my tone what I think of the likelihood that this represents some sort of "turnaround" for the Mets. Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Santana, and Maine are all doing pretty well lately, and that's certainly a good sign. And hot streaks from all the non-starters who start for the Mets can't do anything but help. That said, I still don't think the Mets as currently constructed are a 90+ win team.

But . . . since the Phils aren't that good either, and since the Marlins & Braves, like the Mets, have serious weaknesses, this silly division may actually be up for grabs to the first team that reaches 86 or 87 wins. So . . . and, yes, I do believe this, this extraordinarily flawed Mets team may actually have a chance to play some ball in October.

And then, as we all know (painfully so) from two years ago, anything can happen. Wow.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Lemme see if I have this one straight. Seems there's a Scopes-esque controversy erupting in some town in Ohio. The usual nonsense: teacher fired, teaching creationism, failure to remove a bible from the class room, burning the image of a cross on students' arms . . .

Say what?

That's right, according to the article, among the other crazy shit that 52 year-old John Freshwater did, he also "burned a cross on [a] child's arm with an electrostatic device." I wonder if that was part of his "science" curriculum.

Anyhow, I'm not gonna bother composing the blogosphere's 63,927th "These Creationist Loonies Are Fuckin Nuts" post. Nah. I assume anyone reading this blog feels pretty much the way I feel (i.e., these creationist loonies are fuckin nuts).

Nor am I gonna bother boring you with my politico-philosophical ramblings about whether a local community has the right to teach mumbo-jumbo & voodoo to its youngins. (If you care, my opinion is: Yes.)

No. Instead I'm gonna briefly ask how, in the words of this article, there is a "debate over the fate of a science teacher." Seriously, check some of this out:
* Freshwater's supporters have rallied on the town's public square urging school board members to resign. A much-viewed sign planted along a roadside about a mile from town reads: "If the Bible goes, the school board should follow."

* "The Bible, that should be OK to have," said James Mills, 25, a former student of Freshwater. "Isn't it in the Constitution that we have freedom of religion?"

* Freshwater, who has filed an appeal with the school board over his firing, said Monday he's disappointed with the way the investigation was conducted. His appeals hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26. "They used half-truths. They didn't interview people who had been in my classroom," he said. "Science teachers at the high school: Why would you interview them?"
Now maybe I'm just a soft New Yorker, ignorant in the ways of tough mid-west life including Friday night football, good ole Jesus larnin', and devouring raw meat with the bones still in it. Ok, I admit that.

But . . . it's this pesky little detail of burning crosses on students' arms that gets my inquisitive mind wondering. So I ask, where exactly is "the debate" here? Am I missing something? Am I so sheltered that I don't realize that teaching creationism & reading Corinthians I in science class means you have to brand the mark of Christ onto students' bodies?

Someone help me out here.


Saturday, July 05, 2008


Lemme see if I got this straight.

The Mets signed Johan Santana to fill his role as Best Pitcher In Baseball™. And they're paying him 174 trillion dollars a year for 5 seasons to do whatever it is a Best Pitcher In Baseball™ does.

(Holding a high-scoring team to 2 runs over 8 innings in the bandbox they call home seems to fit the bill, by the way.)

The Mets have also signed Billy Wagner to fill his role as One Of The Two Or Three Best "Closers" Not Named Mariano Riviera In Baseball™. They're paying him 684 billion dollars a year for that one. Not sure exactly what his job description is, but sitting in the bullpen watching the 9th inning of a crucial divisional game with the score tied ain't it.

But that's just what he did.

As did Johan Santana. The same Johan Santana who'd thrown 95 pitches through 8 innings. 95!!!

So who pitched the 9th of this crucial, tied-in-the-9th game?

Duaner Sanchez. He of the late-night munchies. I guess Schoeneweis and Joe Smith couldn't get loose quickly enough. And Ambiorix Burgos is on the DL.

Good thing Omar fired Willie, huh?

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On this day after the passing of one of America's greatest most obnoxious statesmen, I will take part in the 4th of July meme devised by Toast.

1. Are you "proud to be an American"?
Not sure "proud" is the right word. I'm certainly glad my ancestors came here. I'm pleased to be associated with various aspects of the country's past & present. But pride is something I reserve for choices & accomplishments I made. Until I learn that as a fetus I petitioned the American government for the right to be born here, pride'll have to wait.

Favorite Founding Father?
Interesting to ruminate (on this day after the passing of one of America's most obnoxious statesmen) on the passing of John Adams & Thomas Jefferson, our 2nd & 3rd Presidents and two of the architects of the Declaration of Independence. They each died on July 4th. July 4, 1826. 50 years to the day after the signing of said Declaration of Independence.

That said, my favorite Founding Father is the father: Big George. Six-foot-eight, weighs a fuckin' ton. George. Washington. The man who would be king . . . except he said "No thanks."

Favorite president?
See question 2.

Biggest "Patriotic Moment"?
Hmmmm, that's a tough one. I assume the question calls for an event in my lifetime, one I actually experienced, so that's gonna eliminate the defenses of Little Round Top & Bastogne.

I don't know that I really have one.

Favorite patriotic song?
"America the Beautiful" is very nice. So is "Battle Hymn of the Republic." I don't know most of the lyrics to "Over There," but I love the melody, and the line "The Yanks Are Coming" is pretty cool.

But I'm going with "Battle Hymn" for this one. Just a beautiful song, and to think of a bunch of farm boys from various states singing this as they marched over blood-soaked ground at Antietam or Gettysburg is pretty stirring stuff.

Favorite American cuisine?
I know French Fries are actually Belgian, so that doesn't really count. But man, choosing "freedom fries" and calling them "french fries" as my favorite American food would come as close as anything to defining who I am. Plus, I love em.

But alas, they ain't American.

(Then again, pizza isn't American either.)

But the hamburger -- named after a German city -- is, so I guess I'll go with that one. With a side of french fries of course.

Happiest political moment of your life?
The GOP losing both chambers of Congress in the 2006 election. Couldn't give a shit that the Dems won, but the American people turning out the party that created the mess was a fine moment.

Best fireworks display you've ever seen?
4th of July fireworks in NYC. Great every year.

America's gift to the world?
Rock n' roll.

(Beating out baseball, jazz, hamburgers, and blue jeans as everyday fashion.)

Favorite Bill of Rights right?
4th. Basically says, "stay the fuck outta my house."

Favorite American Holiday?
Used to be Thanksgiving. Lately though I like Memorial Day cause it starts off the summer.

Favorite D.C. monument?
Vietnam Memorial. Incredibly moving experience.

Your dream for America's future?
That we start minding our own shop. We're not in very good shape and we need to stop worrying about the rest of the world and get our own shit together.

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