Sunday, June 24, 2007

R.I.P. Shooter

One of my favorite Giants of all time (indeed beloved by many fans) passed away yesterday, far too young. Rod Beck, the Giants closer in their 103 win year of 1993, died at his home in Phoenix at the age of 38.
He had a wicked split finger fastball at the start of his career, and when he didn't have that anymore he got his saves with only guts and guile.
Fans identified with him because it was obvious how much he loved to play the game, and his physique was more like a fan's than a ballplayer's.

He had some personal demons, and perhaps they led to his death way too young, but when he spent his summers in San Francisco in the mid 90s, he exemplified Laughing Larry Doyle's timeless quote: "It's great to be young and a Giant..."

RIP Shooter. St. Peter will probably go through a pack of cigarettes the first time you try to close out the home half of the ninth up in Heaven, but you'll close it out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

If you're wondering where the Giants posts are...

I can't think of anything good to say about them right now. I still listen to every game on the radio, but it takes a lot out of me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

He Loves Yo: Trembling Wilb'ry

"Dirty world, a dirty world, it's a f*****g dirty world..."

Rhino Records has just released the entire Travelling Wilburys collection. This set contains both of the TW's CDs as well as a DVD which includes a documentary about the making of the first album as well as all the promotional videos (As seen on MTV). What a strange supergroup this was---A Beatle , a 60s legend who wasn't selling many records anymore, The Voice Of A Generation,, and an amiable Florida rocker who rose to fame during the "new wave" era of the late 70s with hits like "American Girl" and "Breakdown" and the guy from ELO.
Starring Nelson Wilbury as George Harrison, Lucky Wilbury as Bob Dylan, Lefty Wilbury as Roy Orbison, Charlie T. Wilbury Jr. as Tom Petty, and Otis Wilbury as Jeff Lynne.

How in the heck did THIS happen? Well, apparently by happy accident. Harrison invites Petty to head up to Dylan's house in LA one night. They go pick up some guitars from Jeff Lynne's place, and Jeff tags along as well. By the end of the evening, the idea for the band came about, and Dylan and Roy Orbison were on board as well... Petty tells a story of he and George Harrison speeding down Ventura Boulevard giddy like kids looking at each other and saying "Can you BELIEVE it? ROY ORBISON's in our band!!!"

Due to Dylan having to tour, time was of the essence. They got together at Dave Stewart's LA House, wrote, and recorded all the songs there. Jeff Lynne says that from the first rehearsal to the finishing touches of production took six weeks. And what an album it was! And all it was was a bunch of friends getting together to make music and have fun. You can feel it when you listen. Dylan's contributions are great---a hilarious Springsteen knock-off called "Tweeter And The Monkey Man" and "Congratulations", a midtempo ballad which uses group vocals on the choruses, as does most of the album. He takes a playful vocal turn on "Dirty World", another great moment of the disc. The highlight of this song is the Wilburys trading nonsense lyrics culled from a stack of magazines in the studio. Throughout the disc you get beautiful guitar fills from George, and those ethereal Roy Orbison vocals, who went out of this world with a rekindled career and a new generation of fans---this CD, a guest-star filled HBO special and album called "Black & White Night", and his "Mystery Girl" CD were released shortly before his death of a massive heart attack. Twelve years later, we would lose George Harrison to cancer. In retrospect, my favorite Beatle. On a side note, I think that Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" is the best of all the Beatles post fab-four careers.

But I digress...After Orbison's death, the Wilburys skipped Volume 2 and went straight on to Volume 3. This doesn't have Orbison or the same magic, but the more I listen to it, the better I like it. This time around, they changed their names, too. Spike Wilbury/George Harrison, Boo Wilbury/Bob Dylan, Muddy Wilbury/Tom Petty and Clayton Wilbury/ Jeff Lynne.

Both Volume 1 and Volume 3 contain a couple of unreleased tracks, polished for this release by adding overdubs by one Ayrton Wilbury, aka George's son Dhani Harrison.

The sound is crisp, the memories are sweet, and both CDs have long been out of print. A must for any fan. The Rhino site charges too much---Try Amazon.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

So Long, Blue Eyes

One of my favorite actors, Paul Newman, has announced his retirement from films at the age of 82. He cited eroding skills due to aging. Oh, well. What a fine career to look back on.

Iconic films like "The Hustler", "Hud", "Cool Hand Luke", "Absence Of Malice", and one from my top ten favorites of all time--"Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid".

I actually met him once, on the street in New Orleans when I was walking to work---he too was at work, waiting to be called to the set of "Blaze", a forgotten film in which he played Earl Long, Huey Long's loony brother who courted a stripper. We passed a few pleasantries, and shook hands. He seemed like a genuinely nice man. So he probably is.

He didn't live in Hollywood, he didn't bed-hop. When asked why he wasn't big on committing adultery, Newman's response was "Why go out for hamburger when you have steak at home?" Next year he and Joanne Woodward celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. And it seemed that the older he got, the better looking he got. His philanthropy and charity is well known. Somebody Up There Likes Him.

I do too. Enjoy your retirement, Blue Eyes. I'll see you every time I dress my salad...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful #254

852. Although the Giants fell to the Mets 4-2, they managed to pawn off shell-shocked fat not-much-of-a-closer Armando Benitez on the Florida Marlins in exchange for a fat guy named Randy Messenger. Randy Messenger---sounds like a chat tool on an adult dating site. Not that I'd know anything about that. Anyway, had the Giants announced they'd traded Benitez for a couple of Cuban Sandwiches from some street cart in Miami, I'd have been happy. That they were able to land another pitcher in exchange is icing on the cake. And so my friend Q in NYC had the honor of seeing Armando Benitez' last appearance ever as a member of the San Francisco Giants---that stinkified meltdown of Tuesday night. Benitez, GONE. The end of an error. In retrospect, a horrendous signing. But I was for it at the time. Benitez had just come off a great come-back year with the Marlins when the Giants signed him to a three year deal, but I guess closing games in Florida is not a pressure situation. He hurt himself the first week of his Giants career, finally came back to being completely healthy this year, but turned out to be a cancerous malcontent in the clubhouse, pushing blame on anyone but himself for his troubles, and becoming a lightning rod for fan discontent. It cracks me up that so many people see Bonds as a cancer when there are guys like Benitez who really ARE cancers. List of people other than sportswriters who have said Bonds is a bad team-mate:

1) Jeff Kent

I can't think of anyone else. And if anyone would know a lousy team-mate, it would be Jeff Kent. He sees one in the mirror every day.

853. I just got my copy of Richard Thompson's new CD , called Sweet Warrior.
It is bleeding fantastic, nearly all-electric, and chock full of great songs. So far, it's my favorite album of the year, and that's saying something. I highly recommend it. Highly.

854. James Bond. I came into possession of a collection of four box sets, containing the first 20 James Bond films, each with a bonus disc of extra material. I have rediscovered my love for all things Bond. Or, most things Bond. Some of the Roger Moore outings are pretty painful to watch. And the box sets are all mixed up, as in not chronological. I guess they didn't want anyone to be able to get "just the good ones". But in retrospect, much-maligned George Lazenby's only Bond outing, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", is a pretty damned good film. Better than most of the Roger Moore ones in my opinion. The only thing missing from these sets is "Casino Royale" (the new one, not the spoof---which isn't really in the Bond genre) and the "unauthorized" Sean Connery comeback "Never Say Never Again". This was a rogue production, not part of the licensed Cubby Brocolli franchise. It's just a remake of "Thunderball".
Still, I've got to have it if I'm a completist, and it's only ten bucks at Fry's. Maybe next week.
Incidentally, I think that Daniel Craig is a fantastic Bond. On par with Connery. Here is my personal list, in order, of the Best Bonds. (Well, besides Barry)

1) Sean Connery
2) Daniel Craig
3) Pierce Brosnan
4) Timothy Dalton
5) George Lazenby
6) Roger Moore

I DO like some of the Moore Bonds, like "Octopussy" and even the universally hated "Moonraker".

I've also ordered the first five Bond novels from Amazon. I hope the obsession ends soon :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Now THAT'S how you close out a game.

The Giants won tonight 3-0 over the New York Mets. Some early runs through the timely hitting of Peter Happy and Rich Aurilia (breaking out of a killer slump), seven shut-out innings from Barry Gazillioinaire, and 1-2-3 eight and ninth innings by Jack Taschner and Brad Hennessey, who got the save.

I think last night's jaw-dropping meltdown by Armando Benitez might mark the end of his days as the Giants' closer. Benitez wasted no time in killing the Giants hopes when he came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Walked the leadoff guy, Reyes, known as an instant double. Instant courtesy of Armando, last night. Balk. Runner advances to second. Grounder to the right side, runner advances to third. One out, runner on third. Infield in, grounder to second. Runner holds. Two out. Giants one out away from victory. Balk! The runner scores. Reyes danced around on third and Benitez broke his motion. The oldest trick in the book, and one EVERY closer shouldn't fall for. It came as a surprise to no one at Shea or those of us listening at home that the next batter would crush a walk-off homerun off the rattled closer. BOOM. Bang goes the tie, bang goes the game. A friend of mine who went to the game last night (A Mets fan AND a Red Sox fan, but I still like him) was elated. He'd watched Benitez blow many a game for the Mets, and as soon as Armando came in, his hopes soared sky high. In fact, when one fan dispaired near him, Q turned to him and said "Hey--Benitez is pitching. This one is far from over." Good job, Kreskin. You called that one for frickin' sure.

Anyway, tonight before the game it was announced that Armando has a knee injury. I call bullshit for two reasons. One, I watched the ninth inning last night. He looked like he had his pitches, and he was laughing and grinning when the inning started. The only people hurting their knees last night were Giants fans who may have hit them forcefully while praying to God that Benitez wouldn't be Benitez. Two, this is standard-issue chicanery from the Giants office. Whenever a move needs to be made and they don't have options or wiggle room to work with, someone magically gets hurt and sent to the Disabled List. Someone on the Giants message board I frequent called it LAST NIGHT. Sure enough, it comes to pass. Benitez unavailable tonight due to "bad knee". Maybe the front office wants to give Benitez a chance to grow a pair (a pair being required equipment for a closer). Maybe they want to give Henny or Ortiz a chance to close a game or two. Russ Ortiz was a closer in the minors. Hennessey did the job tonight. He hasn't been consistently good, but bringing Armando into a game is telling the other team that you want them to go ahead and win it. So it was nice to beat a good team tonight. Without Benitez in there to make things "interesting".

GOOD NEWS: The Nervous Red Dog had his follow-up vet appointment today and as I expected, the Vet was VERY pleased with the way he's healing. Yesterday he ate like a pig, and today he chased the cat around the house for a few minutes. His wounds are still ugly though. But he gets his many stitches out next week, and then we just have to wait for his hair to grow back.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Today Is Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day, and my thoughts turn to the brave men and women putting themselves in harm's way by serving in our armed forces. I pray that they keep safe from harm, and return to the families and friends who love them. I pray for those families who have lost their soldiers, and whose lives are changed forever by the horrors of war.
Come home soon, and come home safe.

One of my favorite poems is actually a song lyric written by an Australian singer-songwriter named Eric Bogle. The poem, or song, is variously titled "No Man's Land", "The Green Fields Of France", or "The Flowers Of The Forest". It is told from the point of view of a man visiting the vast cemetery in Flanders Field in France, a World War One battlefield...

"No Man's Land" by Eric Bogle
Well how d'you do Private William MacBride
Do you mind if I sit here down by your graveside
I'll rest for a while in the warm summer sun
I've been walking all day and I'm nearly done
I can see by your gravestone you were only nineteen
When you joined the glorious fallen in nineteen-sixteen
Well I hope you died quick and I hope you died clean
Or Willie MacBride was it slow and obscene
Did they bang the drum slowly
Did they sound the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down
Did the bugles sing the Last Post and Chorus
Did the pipes play The Flowers of the Forest

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind
In some loyal heart is your memory enshrined
And though you died back in nineteen-sixteen
To that loyal heart are you always nineteen
Or are you a stranger without even a name
Forever enshrined behind some glass pane
In an old photograph torn and tattered and stained
And fading to yellow in a brown leather frame
Did they bang the drum slowly
Did they sound the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down
Did the bugles sing The Last Post And Chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest

The sun's shining now on these green fields of France
The warm wind blows gently and the red poppies dance
The trenches have vanished long under the plough
No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now
But here in this graveyard it's still no man's land
The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
To man's blind indifference to his fellow man
And a whole generation that were butchered and damned
Did they bang the drum slowly
Did they sound the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down
Did the bugles sing The Last Post And Chorus
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest

And I can't help but wonder now Willie MacBride
Do all those who lie here know why they died
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause
Did you really believe that this war would end wars
Well the suffering the sorrow the glory the shame
The killing the dying it was all done in vain
For Willie MacBride it all happened again
And again and again and again and again
Did they bang the drum slowly
Did they sound the fife lowly
Did the rifles fire o'er ye as they lowered you down
Did the bugles sing The Last Post and Chorus
Did the pipes play The Flowers of the Forest...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nervous Red Dog Severely Injured!

I hate for my first post in awhile to be a bummer, but I almost lost The Nervous Red Dog yesterday. We were at the dog park---getting ready to leave actually, when the NRD was set upon by a pit-boxer mix whose owner was not big enough to control him. The dog was un-neutered , which always seems to create drama at the dog park either from its own actions or the reactions of neutered dogs to unneutered males.
I try to keep Chester (the NRD's name) away from them because I know he is liable to start something with an un-neutered male. In this case, some mutual posturing escalated into snarls, and then a full-on attack. Chester went down pretty quick, and was belly-up, backed up against a fence with his underside exposed to this big-headed beast. The dog went for Chester's neck but missed and grabbed onto his shoulder and front arm instead. He tore a huge wound in Chester's armpit. I ended up on the ground keeping the attacker away from Chet as best I could.
When the fracas was over, I could hear what I thought was a small dog squealing. I thought another dog had gotten in the middle of it, but it was actually the Nervous Red Dog, scared and in pain. I inspected him and found a few puncture marks, but when I rolled him over I found the hideous wound to his armpit, which was so big I could see his musculature underneath the skin. Luckily for us, there is an emergency animal clinic not far from this particular dog park, and I rushed him over there immediately. (I want to thank the gentleman who assisted me in getting to my car while carrying my 60+ pound dog by opening the gate and fishing my keys out of my front pocket to unlock my car. You were a great help and I appreciate it immensely) .
The vet was able to see him immediately, and confirmed my fear that he needed surgery to repair the damage. For a guy without a job and limited savings, it wasn't the best news I'd heard in awhile. Add to that the possibility that he'd lose his leg and I was pretty much in shock. So I had to leave him there while I did things like go clean out my savings to get the cost of the treatment and go home alone.
They also kept postponing his surgery for a few hours, which made for even more nervousness on my part. Originally, he was to go in at noon, then they changed it to four, then six. Finally about ten PM the doctor called me with the results. He got to keep his leg, and got all stitched up. Cost----two month's rent and then some. Of course there was no question that I'd pay it, even if I had to sell the car or rob a liquor store or something. I don't know who felt more alone last night, me or him. I think it was me, as he was flying high on some very good (and expensive) doggie drugs.
All this experience taught me was that I'm going to be a real wreck if The Nervous Red Dog decides to leave the planet before I do.
So now we are home, and the poor guy looks pitiful. He's got to wear that awful "Elizabethan Collar", that cone thing that keeps him from worrying the wound. Two weeks. He's got to eat several pills twice a day, and I've got to keep his wound clean and dry. He is under house arrest for a couple of weeks too, except for brief forays into the neighborhood to answer nature's call.
On top of all that, he's shaved around his shoulder area on his right front leg, so not only is his funny looking pink skin showing, but he's got a lot of stitchwork to admire. Think Karloff in Frankenstein (Universal, 1931). The vet says that he should be good as new in a few weeks, so that's something to be thankful for. Plus he's home, miserable as he is. And even a house with a dog that's not feeling very good is better than a house with no dog at all.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Holy Sh*t!!!

Today Giants rookie Fred Lewis, called up to replace Todd Linden on the roster, had five hits. Two singles, a double, a triple, and a homerun. He became the first Giants rookie to hit for the cycle since Dave Kingman did it in 1971.

On top of that, Matt Cain righted himself after two rocky starts, going six innings and giving up only one run in the Giants 15-2 drubbing of the Colorado Rockies in Denver. It's been a long time since the Giants were the drubber and not the drubee, so this felt great.

On top of THAT, the lineup was chock full of backups. No Bonds, No Aurilia, No Molina, No Randy Winn. Rookie Kevin Frandsen had four hits, Pete Happy got two RBI doubles, Omar and Eliezer Alfonzo had three hits each, and rookie Dan Ortmeier had two hits. Even Matt Cain got a solid single. 15 runs on 22 hits. I hope they saved some for Houston Tuesday. I betcha Freddie Lewis is in the lineup, too.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 253

843. Since last I posted, Barry Bonds has hit two more homeruns to reach 745, putting him a mere ten behind Hank "Include Me Out" Aaron. Should be just a few weeks away now, considering the way Bonds has been playing. It is my fervent hope that during the AB when he hits it, he manages to line a foul ball into the stands, where it hits one of the morons observing the "Turn Your Back On Barry" protest squarely in the back of their head. And ricochets off and hits another bozo with his back turned. My friend Q, the Bosox' Man In Brooklyn, does not feel the same way about Barry as I do, but as a friend, I don't wish it to be HIM that gets the foul off the noggin. As he suggests, we'll just agree to disagree.

844. Benjie Molina has solidified his role as the most clutch hitter on the Giants not named Bonds. It's almost automatic now that if Benjie comes up with a man in scoring position and with two out, that run is coming home somehow.

845. Omar, if he participates in a DP tonight, becomes the Shortstop Who's Participated In The Most Double Plays In History. When he signed with the Giants, many fans groaned, thinking the Giants overpaid for an athlete whose skills were clearly in decline----in other words, the usual Giants free-agent acquisition. Instead, he wows us every night with his flashy glove. And his bat is starting to come around at last this season , after his great year at the plate last season.

846. Tim Lincecum won his first big league game in his second attempt. Tim's the rookie phenom that everyone says is a Can't Miss Guy. He faltered in his much ballyhooed ML debut last week, but overcame some blunders by himself and others to hang on last night long enough for the Giants bats to awaken, and awaken they did. He acquired the nickname "Seabiscuit" due to his unorthodox but effective delivery, I guess because the horse ran funny but won. I think it's a lame nickname myself. Calling a grown-ass man a nickname that includes any variation of "Biscuit" is just asking for trouble.

847. The Cruel Axe Of Reality fell on the career of another aging Giants prospect. Todd Linden got his pink slip a week after another CAN-miss prospect, Lance Niekro got deep sixed. No team bit on the waivers, so Lance is already back in Fresno. I expect Linden will meet the same fate, and return to his level of competence, AAA. With Dave Roberts hitting the DL at the same time as Linden's cut, the Giants recalled two rooks from Fresno, Dan Ortmeier and Freddie Lewis. Both already have more pizazz than Linden and Niekro.

848. I received a spam email this morning that had a VERY intriguing subject line. Of course I didn't open it, but I had to give it points for ingenuity. Even better, if it was a random choice of words some spam-bot strung together....

"I Am No More A Blasphemer Than The Father Of Cybernetics, Weiner"

849. I found a sealed copy of Sinead O'Connor's 2003 reggae album, "Lay Down Your Arms", in a box of promos I got from my old job. At the time I got it, I was into something else, so this fell through the cracks. Sinead does reggae? How good could it be, right? Well, the answer is bloody fantastic. It's produced by Sly & Robbie, and Sinead's voice is perfect for the reggae classics she chose. Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey", The Abyssinians "Y Mas Gan" , Lee Perry's "Curly Locks" and "Vampire" are all wonderful renditions of great songs. I can't recommend it enough.

850. I finally have some good news on the employment front, and could be back in Da Game within a weeks time.

851. Our weather has been perfect---days in the 80s, and gorgeous nights where the Nervous Red Dog and I can sit outside in front of the hovel and watch the club kids heading for J street, old folks from the seniors complex down the alley, and of course dog walkers from all walks of life, walking dogs who threaten to pee all over teh NRD's favorite spots. Makes for much drama.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part #252

1) The Giants came from behind to beat the Phillies 6-2 in exciting fashion.
2) I really love it when a bone-headed, pants-wetting manager such as Charlie "Thanks Q" Manuel of the Phillies orders Barry Bonds walked with two outs and the bases empty while his team trails by a run. Then pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney singled, Feliz walked (another miracle) to load the bases, and then Omar, mired in a slump, singles up the middle to drive in two runs. Durham singled next, driving in Feliz for another two-out, three run rally. Thanks Chuck!
3) Little used back-up catcher EliezerAlfonzo knocked in the first three Giants runs with a bases loaded pinch double. Alfonzo appears to be making the most of his chances to play, knocking out three hits in yesterday's 9-7 loss to Philly after he'd come in to rest Benjie Molina. Eliezer was a good story last year too, when he came out of nowhere to take over for Mike Matheny, who's career was ended by one too many foul tips off the mask. Alfonzo filled in admirably, and I was kind of surprised he wasn't given a chance to keep the job, but I guess the team felt a little timid to give it to a journeyman, aging minor leaguer. Oh well, for now he's one of two very good catchers on the Giants roster.
4) Although it doesn't really make me cheerful, Lance Niekro was designated for assignment tonight, meaning he shouldn't be an annoyance to me any more. Maybe he'll clear waivers and regroup in Fresno, maybe not.
5) Armando Benitez pitched the ninth tonight, even though it was too big a lead for a save, and retired the Phils in order after missing a chance Wednesday by being out with a sore knee.
6) My favorite non-Giant in the league, Julio Franco, broke his own record tonight. He AGAIN became the oldest man to hit a homerun in MLB history at 48. He hit it off of another over-40 dude, rat faced, mullet-headed grouchy grouch Randy Johnson. Julio, just two years younger than I. Maybe I can still have a major league career.
Old Man Ribbie

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Barry, Barry, Benjie and The Baby Bull

The ageless Barry Bonds lined his 9th homerun of the season tonight in the Giants 5-3 win over The Rockies.

Bonds hit his 743rd career bomb, a laser beam into the right field arcade, and as Jon Miller said on the broadcast tonight "The ball was in the hands of the guy who caught it before they heard the crack of the bat." In the eighth, with the Rockies leading 3-2, the Giants managed to load the bases for Barry Bonds. Sitting at home listening to the radio, I could actually hear Rox pitcher Manny Corpus wetting his pants. Bonds lined a single past Todd Helton to put the Giants ahead 4-3. Building a team around a 42 year old man with surgically repaired knees seemed like such a stupid idea before the season started. But Bonds is no shadow of his former self, he IS his former self. Simply amazing.

Barry Zito had some trouble tonight. He's one of those frustrating guys who throws a LOT of pitches, five and six pitch atbats for almost every batter. He's still a good pitcher, because a lot of those high-pitch AB result in outs, but tonight he went out after Bonds' HR gave him a 2-0 lead and gave those two runs right back. But he managed to go seven innings without giving up any more than those two.

I also have to talk about the catching situation. The Giants over the last few years have had some great guys catching--Benito "Let Me Tell You Songteen" Santiago, Mike Matheny and current backup Eliezer Alphonzo...but I think Benjie Molina may be my favorite. He's been clutch at the bat. Tonight he got a hit in the eighth to drive in an insurance run, something he seems to do whenever he's given a chance. And he's great for the pitchers. In a post game interview, Brad Hennessey said that before the final out, Benjie told him "Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to call for a fastball, you're going to throw it on the outside, and we'll get him to hit it to the big part of the ballpark." Benjie called fastball, Hennessey pitched it on the black, and Troy Tulowitzki hit a high fly ball to Randy Winn in right to end the game. If that doesn't build trust, nothing does. I love Benjie Molina. Platonically of course.

In the news tonight we learn Giants Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, the Baby Bull, got popped tonight in beautiful Cordelia, California speeding along the freeway burning a fat one, while holding some white powder. I myself have in the rather recent past blown through Cordelia while smoking a joint, but I didn't speed and I surely wasn't holding any powdered drugs. Bad judgment on Cha-Cha's part. But I still love the big, semi-ambulatory lug. Platonically of course.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Stinky Stinky Stinkity Stink

Q: What's the difference between a concrete road pylon and Lance Niekro?

A: The road pylon is faster, and is a better judge of pitches.

I'd ask another question of Bruce Bochy, Giants manager. And I'll add a follow-up 1) Why do you feel the need to carry five or six first basemen on the day-to-day roster? (Follow-up) Why is Lance Niekro one of them?

I exaggerate of course. The Giants carry a mere four first basemen. Aurilia, who can play any infield position but was signed to play first, Sweeney and Klesko, who can play first base and left field, and Niekro, who can play first base. Adequately. Put a bat in his hands, and you're just plain wasting his time and yours. Apart from the signing of Feliz one day after Aurilia signed, keeping Niekro on the team was the stupidest move of the offseason. "But he was out of options!" his relatives cry. As if he wouldn't have cleared waivers. And I know the fans bitch and moan about the Giants not developing any position players in their farm system that become good Major Leaguers, but pinning that hope on Lance Niekro is a forlorn hope. You can't develop a quality major league player by letting him play in the minors until he's pushing thirty, then stick him on the Major League roster and hope that even though he has never given you a reason to believe he would not suck, he won't suck.

And even though I know he gets paid to do it, and is much better at it than me or any other fan, I was scratching my head over Bochy's management of the final Giants at bats. The Giants, down by two, had the top of the order up in the bottom of the ninth. They need at least one baserunner to get to Bonds. Wow, Dave Roberts is leading off. Pesky Dave Roberts. A guy that can work a pitcher for a walk, bunt for a hit, that kind of thing. Wrong. Pinch Hit for Roberts with Todd Linden, another fifty year old Giants prospect who is only slighty less frustrating than Niekro. Now I'll give Bochy a little benefit of the doubt--maybe Roberts tweaked a hammy or something. But damn. Linden. If you like your pinch hitters of the "flail away cluelessly" variety, Linden's a good choice. Especially if you're saving Niekro to pinch strikeout later. So, Linken strikes out. Omar, in a slump, can't get on either, but at least he lined one to left that Holliday had to dive for. Maybe Klesko can work a walk out of Rockies closer Brian Fuentes, so Bonds, hitting .800 over his career against Fuentes, can either have a swing or be walked intentionally putting the tying run on base. Giants fans, I gots good news and bad news for you. The Good news is Barry's on deck. The bad news is that Lance Niekro is at the plate. Suh-WISH!

Russ Ortiz suffered a setback with this start, retiring in the fourth after giving up eight runs on nine hits. Let's hope he just suffered some pre-game head trauma and hasn't reverted to the pitcher the Diamondbacks know and love. The bully did their job, giving up only one more run in the five innings after Russ' departure. And the Giants scored seven times. That's huge for them.

I love the Giants and hate to pick 'villains' on the club. But man I am tired of Lance Niekro. And there's only one first base. Why do the Giants need four guys for the job? In case the first three go down? Maybe a middle infielder would be nice. Because who's the backup for second base, third, and short? Aurilia, who usually starts at first. Feliz could back up the infielders too, but he's already playing third usually. Gotta have those two extra first sackers though. Oy.

Your final from La Belle Pacifique: Colorado 9, San Francisco 7

Win streak ends at one.

Back on Track. New win streak at ONE.

The Giants got back to winning with some help from the Colorado Rockies last night, winning a sloppy one by a day-shift. (9 to 5) Noah Lowry recovered after a rough start to get the win, and the Giants got a lift from the bat of Pedro Feliz, who crushed one in the first to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. Feliz to me is the most frustrating of Giants. He never met a pitch he didn't like, and was the intended target of the "Brain Dead Carribean Hitters Who Hack At Slop Nightly" controversy last year.
But he makes game-saving plays at third base and is by all accounts a friendly, likeable chap. And when he goes on a tear, he looks like a major league power hitter. The Giants must see something in him---they keep resigning him. Maybe it will all work out for the Giants.
He's got more homeruns so far than any Giant not named Bonds. Good on ya, Pete Happy. Keep taking me by surprise.

The Man Who Hated Northern California

It seems the Warriors fans (and indeed most of the Bay Area) are up in arms over certain comments by TNT's NBA commentator Charles Barkley. Apparently, he said such things as that he'd rather sleep on Alcatraz Island than in Oakland or San Francisco. Even took a shot at quaint little Sausalito. He left out Berkeley, maybe because he's heard that the British pronounce it "Barkley". "Teh Horror!" as we used to say on the old ESPN Giants Board.

As a Kings fan, my team and my town have been on the receiving end of many a Chuck tirade over the years, along the lines of cowtown, backwoods, yada yada yada. And I think he once said "Say something positive about THIS place? OK. It's positively a dump." I don't think I've ever gotten mad about it. I got more upset when two chuckleheaded Sacramento DJs decided it would be great fun to call Chuck's Sacramento hotel room in the wee small hours during a Suns visit some years back. I thought that that was pretty bush league. Interestingly enough, I didn't mind at all when some room service chef (allegedly) spiked Kobe Bryant's burger and made him sick.

I don't mind any of this because I think Charles Barkley is one of the funniest non-professional comedians on the planet. I've NEVER seen him serious--unless he's actually talking about the game of basketball. He just plain makes me laugh, and that's a trait I value highly. Hell, he even talks smack about himself sometimes.

Here are some of my favorite Barkley moments.
  • After getting into an altercation in a bar with a drunk who wanted to pick a fight with him, in which he threw the guy through a window, Chuck was asked by a reporter if he had any regrets about the incident. "Yes, " replied Chuck. "I regret that we were on the first floor."
  • "You know it's going to hell when the best rapper out there is white and the best golfer is black."
  • "I was thinking about suing her for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character.
  • "Sometimes that light at the end of a tunnel is a train."
  • "Somebody hits me, I'm going to hit them back. Even if it does look like they haven't eaten in a while."
  • "I know they say it alot about brothers, but I guarantee you everybody in Finland looks alike."
  • Ernie: "Charles, what's the problem with the Knicks right now?" Charles: "They're no good."
  • "It's kinda great to see the Celtics doing well again. That was so much fun in my day to go to the Boston Garden and they spit at you and throw things at you and talk about your mom. It's just like dinner at Kenny Smith's house."

Maybe what I like best about Chuck is that during this latest San Francisco/Oakland controversy, one of his lines was "You know how bad it is? I like Sacramento better than BOTH of those cities...."

Monday, April 30, 2007

I took the weekend off. So did the Giants.....

I guess I shouldn't have been so cocky posting that broom after the Dodgers series---The Giants ended up on the wrong end of it this weekend:

Diamondbacks swept the three game series. Zito pitched well enough to win, Cain was excellent, and Morris was good until the Hudson hit yesterday. The bullpen was a study in suck. The Lord Bonds Almighty got a homerun, and was walked a hundred and fifty seven times. Or so it seemed.

I drove to the coast this weekend, just for a few hours. The Nervous Red Dog would have preferred to race along the sand untethered, but the North Coast beaches are on-leash only. Such is the case at Goat Rock State Beach, a particularly beautiful place a little north of Bodega Bay. Had there been less of a crowd, I'm afraid I would have broken this rule. (I'm talking plain sand here, not bird habitats or anything) But it sho' nuff is a beautiful place. Here's what it looks like:

This photo was taken by Donald Kinney. I found his site, Photoarrow, while looking for pictures of my beloved Northern California coastline, my favorite spot on earth. You should definitely check Donald Kinney's photo art. Do it HERE.

On the way back to reality, we stopped at Lucas Wharf in Bodega Bay for a basket of fish'n'chips. The Nervous Red Dog was quite enthusiastic about the breaded, piping hot fish filets, but was unimpressed by the chips. This was unsurprising, because the NRD has never been fond of potato. Every dog I've known has LOVED french fries, chips, bakers, anything! But not HIM. In his four years of life, he's been offered English style-chips nearly every Sunday and Tuesday night by well meaning patrons of the pub where I work. Never touches 'em. He'd sell me out for the fish though. He can't get enough. But back to the Lucas Wharf chips. The Dog didn't like them, but I thought they were great.

So even if the Giants lost three in a row, and I spent thirty five bucks I didn't have for a tank of frickin' gas, I'd have to call the weekend a roaring success. Watching the sun go down while next to the Pacific Ocean is the great salvation.

So tonight the Colorado Rockies meet the Giants at La Belle Pacifique. (AT&T Park to some) Noah Lowry to start...lets hope that they get back to winnin'.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Turn out the lights.....the Party's over

As the picture to the left tells us, it's over. The Giants winning streak was snapped tonight with a 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks. Tonight, the annoying spectre of years gone by also reared its ugly head, as Barry was intentionally walked twice and hit by a pitch. He'd had one intentional walk all season before last night in LA. I would like to see Ray Durham take umbrage and make them pay. Tonight was not one of those nights though.

Great game though, Mark Sweeney hit a pinch homerun tonight to make it 3-2, and the game in the 9th was in the hands of Ray Durham, with two out and two on. Ray had a couple of such situations in this game, and again came up empty, with a slow grounder to first. Zito took the loss. The Giants were in it until the last pitch, and are still playing great ball while not scoring many runs. So I say let's start a new streak tomorrow in the desert behind Matt Cain.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Get out the broom! Giants win again Eight In A Row

Wow! After the first few innings tonight, I was gearing up to post the "It Was Fun While It Lasted" routine, but damned if the Giants didn't come back from a shaky start and win another one. They beat the Dodgers 5-4 to complete the sweep at Chavez Latrine. Excellent payback for a couple of weeks ago, when the Bums punked the Giants in their own house.

Russ Ortiz walked the ballpark, but never let the Dodgers unload on him, getting out of horrible jams in the first two innings and escaping with just three runs allowed. He settled in and blanked them after that. Kevin Correia pitched well tonight too, eventually getting the win when the Giants rallied in the 8th.

The Giants scraped up enough runs to tie the game, getting key hits and capitalizing on Dodger mistakes to finally take a 5-3 lead. Ethier banged a homerun off of reliever Brad Hennessey to bring the Dodgers within a run, but Armando Benitez once again pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for another save. The much maligned behemoth saved all three games of the series. Before the season started, Benitez was one of my many question marks with this Giants team, and even his first few saves this season aggravated my ulcer, but damned if he hasn't looked pretty solid lately. Seven saves in seven chances. Contract year too, so maybe if he won't do it for the fans, he'll do it for himself. Still, he's made me a believer and restored my confidence in him.

The Dodgers should have won this game. They failed to beat up Ortiz who had control issues early, and were hampered later by a broken squeeze play. But it was the Giants triumphant, one of those things that happen when you're living right I guess.
Here's the broom...On to Phoenix!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A 1-2-3 Save, Seven In A Row!!

The Giants won another one tonight, their 6-4 victory over the hated Bums making seven in a row, and two at the Latrine.

Noah Lowry held on through some shoddy glove-work, and the bully did a hell of a job, namely Jack Taschner and Armando Benitez, who got what I think may be his first 1-2-3 save of the year, giving him six saves total.

It is always fun to hear the LA fans bellow and bay like rabid dogs whenever Barry Bonds comes to bat, is announced on the PA, or touches the ball in the field. Usually, the Greatest Slugger Of All Time feeds off of it, and tonight was no exception. Deafening boos, a crack of the bat, and #741 disappears over the center field fence--a three run bomb before a man was out in the first. . A smattering of applause, then silence. A forlorn beachball skitters into the outfield. A typical evening at Chavez. Last Night, Pedro Feliz was told by manager Bruce Bochy that he wouldn't be starting as much. (Klesko has been much better offensively, and Pedro quickly reverted to old habits of poor plate discipline after vowing to change.) That was in this morning's SF paper, and lo and behold Pedro started tonight and got a Home Run, which proved to be the winning run.

I am thrilled with this winning streak, after the opening week stinkage.

To sportswriters in general, and Los Angeles Dodgers fans especially, here is a public service announcement from former well-known actor David Caruso.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Matty Mo makes Six In A Row

Matt Morris had a three hitter going with one out in the eighth, leading 5-1. The Bums got a couple hits back-to-back and then Bochy called for Hennessey. Brad, not the cognac. He promptly gave up a single to Kent and it was suddenly 5-3. Then Taschner, who has been very good since that post awhle ago where he had a sucky game, came in to get the ground ball he needed for the DP and to end the inning.
Big ol' Mando came in, and let a couple of guys get on base to give the kids a thrill, then got his 5th save. 5-3 winner.

I told the coolest baby in the world that The Giants beat the Dodgers tonight and he said...."Oh Rih-hih hih hih hilly...."

In honor of the Giants win, here's the Coolest Baby In The World....

Monday, April 23, 2007

Nothing can shock me anymore...

Just when I thought that The Great White Father could not get any dumber or more out of touch with reality than he has been regularly, he is "reassured" by AG Gonzalez' smirking, stuttering, univerally ridiculed performance before the Senate last week. He might be the only one so impressed, save maybe Mother Gonzalez. Memo to the President's handlers: His tinfoil hat seems to be on the fritz. Do something.

Our President is as dumb as a baby sucking on paint chips. Good thing he's so fricking LOYAL.

"Yer doin' a heck of a job there, Alberto."

The strongest nation in the world has a functional illiterate at the helm. I have not seen a Bush speech in years that isn't marked with ceaseless stammering, interjections of "Uh....." and that strange little chortle he uses when he's trying to make a point.

History shouldn't judge this President, it should judge us as a nation for letting him sit in that office for eight years.

At this point, I'd almost prefer President Kerry, who might be a little less wealthy, but likely just as big a moron as the current office holder.

Happy Monday everybody. Here's Al, selling you a very poorly maintained used car:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cain completes the sweep...Five in a row...

Matt Cain finally got enough run support to win a game this season. The Giants shelled the Diamondbacks for two runs today, and the youngster used them both, pitching a complete game to win 2-1 today. Pete Happy and Barry Bonds provided the offense, with each getting a solo HR.

In honor of my father's 85th birthday, Barry hit #740 into the center field gallery. It should be noted that my dad is NOT a huge Barry fan. But I am.

Barry is on fire right now, running like he did five years ago and driving the ball with the old power. He's getting pitches to hit, because people can't believe he's not slowing down. But the intentional walks should be rearing their ugly heads soon enough once they find out. It's all in the knees, man. And those knees are HEALTHY.

Must be those new undetectable PED's, the ones made from the ground up bones of orphaned or stolen babies. I'm surprised the media isn't all over this!

But back to that starting pitching. Cain had a one-hit shut-out going into the ninth, but a couple of ground balls made it through the infield to set up first and third with nobody out. This provided a true sphincter-clenching moment, as Armando Benitez was lurking, ready to go in the pen. And Cain was over 100 pitches. Now Benitez has NOT blown a save yet, but there is still enough residual ill feeling from the last couple of years fror me to not have much confidence in him, especially with two men on and no out, and a mere two run lead. But Cain got another ground ball, this one right to Ray Durham, who fed Omar for the 4-6-3 double play. The run scored, spoiling the shut-out, but now the bases were empty and the D'backs were down to the last out. Tony Clark scorched a grounder to the right side but Durham managed to stop it and throw Clark out from his knees. Five game homestand, five games won. Now it's another road trip, starting Tuesday night in Teh Latrine, against those hated Bums.

It doesn't seem to matter so much that the offense takes a day off with this team---the starting pitching has been outstanding.

Here's 740:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Barry + Barry = 4 in a row....

Today's 1-0 victory was the perfect sample game for those who wish to defend the cash outlay for the Two Barrys this past offseason. Barry Zito pitched seven shutout innings for his second win in a row, and the winning and only Giants run came on Barry Bonds' 739th home-run, a huge fly to deep center.

The Giants have made it back to ground zero after starting the year 1-7. Four in a row, six of seven and some very, very good starting pitching. The bullpen lately has been walking the high-wire lately, getting out of jams and preserving leads. Armando Benitez got another save of the sloppy variety, but a save nonetheless. Which is lots better than seeing (BS) after his name in the pitching line.

Tomorrow Matt Cain goes for the Giants as they try for the sweep and go above .500 after the dismal start to the year.

Tonight's victory spin:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Whaddya know, Three In A Row...

The Russ Ortiz Comeback Player Of The Year Campaign gained early momentum tonight when he pitched seven strong innings against the Diamondbacks, who tonight paid him to beat them.

The Giants won for the third time in a row, and they've won five of their last six. A very exciting ninth tonight with Benitez finally nailing down the save after giving the fans some thrills.

In the post-game radio interview, catcher Benjie Molina said that he's got to ride Benitez on every pitch to try and keep him focused. So far it's worked I guess. Molina was the perfect replacement for Mike Matheny, and I think he'll really help the pitching staff this year.

In celebration tonight, I am having a nice cocktail, a rip or two, and listening to one of the best Jazz albums ever.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Flashback To Good Times....

Hokie Smokes, is it 2002 again? Bonds launches one into the cove to tie it, then after some stomach churning extra innings, Rich Aurilia drives one into the gap to win it 6-5 in 12 over the Cardinals.

Tonight's designated Bullpen Suck was Jack Taschner, who provided the nightly carnage by walking in the go-ahead run in relief of Matt Morris in the 7th.

Not so sucky was Armando Benitez, who pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in a non-save situation. Jonathan Sanchez provided some angst but got out of his jams and pitched three innings for the win.

Pujols had a big game for the Cards, but was cut down attempting to steal home to end the top of the 12th.

In honor of the Giants win, I'm posting a picture of a very young Nervous Red Dog, licking the hand that feeds him.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Win, 3 Rainouts, and another Win...

That makes for an undefeated road trip so far. Bwah. The layoff didn't seem to hurt, as the offense stayed alive. Durham and Benji Molina got their first homeruns of the season tonight, and Zito got his first win as a Giant. He went six innings, and didn't surrender any runs and gave up only three hits. Color me whiney, but I'd like to see the #1 Starter go more than 6.

In honor of the victory, I've posted one of my first Giant heroes as a kid. One of those inexplicable things a kid does when he's just starting to learn baseball. I picked the guy on the strength of how much he looked like he might be a good ballplayer in the picture on his baseball card. The guy was Ron Herbel, and he never did do much more than long relief in his career, but he was a back-end of the rotation starter on the first Giants team I followed religiously. (1965) He did set a big-league record, but I'm not sure if he still holds it. He is (or was) the worst hitting pitcher of all time (minimum 100 AB) Ronnie went 6 for 206 over his career. Final batting average? .029 He had a major league jawline though.

Lots of baseball left, like the whole season. And as my girl Britney Spears says, "They's people ahead of us.... But I like the 8-0 win at Coors. I do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Giants Win!!! That's two!

In honor of the Giants 6-5 victory tonight over the Friars to start the road trip, I'm putting up this picture of my favorite Giant of all time, Willie McCovey.

Matt Morris pitched very well tonight, and it turns out he's got BOTH of the Giants wins so far this year, both against the Padres, and both against Clay Hensley.. I'm hoping like hell that Noah Lowry can be the second Giants pitcher to record a win this year. It would be nice to win a mess on the road after the opening homestand suck fest.

Tonight it was excellent to see a Giant come home from third, that's been a rarity thus far. And Ryan Klesko's linebacker slide to break up the double play was crucial and maybe the play of the game.

That monster Adrian Gonzalez needs to be stopped though. He's a masher.

BREAKING NEWS...I have just learned via the San Francisco Chronicle that Hammerin' Hank will not be around to watch Barry break his record, opting to maybe golf instead. Color me butt-hurt. Sorry Hank. Only the best tasting Tuna get to be Starkist. He'll hit it whether you're golfing or spanking your elderly monkey to old clips of Al Downing.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Baseball's Greatest Shame

No, not steroids or HGH. If you thought I was going to get all sanctimonious about Barry Bonds, I have a big hairy ass you can kiss. I like him, and I want him to break Aaron's record, and I think sportswriters in general should be skinned alive and roasted, just on principle.

The shame I'm talking about is letting ordinary citizens sing our national anthem. I'm talking about the kind of singer that watches American Idol and thinks "Hey, I can sing like that."
The term of art in this case is "Melisma" and it is the primary reason "American Idol" is as bad for the youth of America as crack cocaine is.
Melisma is the way of singing where, instead of taking one syllable and using one note to sing it, they take one syllable and use seven or eight notes to sing it, like Mariah Carey or ANY woman you see on American Idol. They think the way to be a diva is to do that awful, annoying vocal run bullshit. Then some amateur singer, maybe they're in a choir or something, gets picked by the Giants (and insert your team here) media office to sing the anthem before the game. And the trainwreck begins. Whenever I go to the games, I have to explain to the people around me "I'm not hurling this bucket of rotten fish parts at our country's national anthem, I'm hurling it at the moron who just did it grievous bodily harm in front of the crowd.

I get cranky when I hear "O'er the la--ha-hand of the Fuh-ree-hee-HEE-hee-hee-heeEEEEEEEH.......and the Home of thuh-huh-huh-huh-huh...Buh-ray-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-uh-hay haaaaaaayve."

I'd rather have Mrs. Miller (pictured) sing each and every one.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Two losses to the Dodgers

Before that, two losses to the Padres. The baseball season isn't starting so hot for my team.

I feel sad. No amount of midget porn, high-grade bud, rum, and looping Led Zeppelin III will make the pain go away.

But one can try.

Here's what the Nervous Red Dog looked like as a puppy.

I feel better already.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Jesus H. Frickin' Christ

The Giants are on a pace to lose 162 games this year. Two straight losses to open the year, making the offseason personnel decisions throb in my head. The one that frosts my chaff the most is the re-signing of Pedro "Pete Happy" Feliz. The team signed former Giant Rich Aurilia first, and I liked the deal because I'd prefer Rich Aurilia over Pedro Feliz, who I figured was toast once Richie signed. Then a couple of days later they went and signed Feliz to a one year deal. Apparently, he had figured out how to take a pitch and we were going to be surprised by his keen eye for the right pitch this year.

He raised his walk total this spring to ONE. Last spring he swung at such bad pitches his walks ended up in the negative bracket.

The guy in the pic is The Crazy Crab , the Giants' hated and retroactively adored first submission to the Age Of The Costumed Mascot. He lasted one year. That year was 1984, when the Giants were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked, losing 96 games. I posted his picture because that may be as many games as this 2007 team loses. Bonds (who I love as much as the worst hater hates him) is looking reborn. Which is nice.

Of course if they win tonight, I'll be back to thinking this team may never lose a game. Like always.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Post Quiz Report: Downtown Sunday Night

Packed 'em in like sardines last night at the midtown Streets of London. The barstaff and I guessed that this was due to the local colleges starting spring break. I was a bit ruder than usual, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. We had forty five teams which is a record, or close to a record anyway. I had to toss some loud-mouths out of the pub, which WAS a first. I threaten it weekly, but usually a warning is enough. Other than that the quiz went smoothly. First place went to a team whose name I forget but it had something to do with inadequate male endowment. Second place went to a team called "I Thought You Had To Be Smart To Be Going To College". The porno (Fishnets #3) went to a team that REALLY wanted it. The toughest question seemed to be "Name the two main ingredients in the British dish called 'Bubble & Squeak' " Only two teams got it right. (Potatoes & Cabbage). I also accepted "Potatoes & Spinach" because that's the way I first ate it. I forwent (is that the past tense of forgo?) the weekly English Premier League question and instead went with the murder of Cricket coach Bob Woolmer. Almost everyone got the question right. I debuted the new chili-pepper shirt my mom had made for me for my 50th birthday. I got many compliments. The Nervous Red Dog sat this one out, as there was a threat of rain so I left him to guard the home.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bless Me Readers For I Have Sinned

It has been one month since my last posting. I don't know what happened. Maybe it was the extra-kine pot I sprung for. The kind my associate refers to as "The Purple Hurkle". The kind that makes me put on Lucinda Williams or The Grass Roots or the Stranglers or James Brown and annoy the neighbors. Maybe it was depression. No job, fatness, old age and all. Maybe it was something that has chased me since infancy---laziness. That was probably it. I once told my mother that a perfect epitaph for my headstone would be simply my name, the relevant dates, and the inscription: "IF ONLY HE'D APPLIED HIMSELF"
Anyway, I haven't done much lately except host The Quizzes, watch five + seasons of "24" in a row (thanks Netflix), take my significant other for his dog park play dates, and the occasional rubbing-one-out thing.
Plus the weather's been nice. We've been spending a lot of time out-of-doors sitting in front of coffee-houses. One of us eyeballing hot midtown goth or hippie chicks, the other eyeballing bits of croissant and scones. Both of us salivating.
I don't know who the guy in the picture is. I googled "priest" for a picture, and I thought he looked cool. Maybe like a guy who practiced The Ancient Religion in private, and by day lived as a priest. Maybe not.
As an act of contrition, I'll resolve to update the blog in a timely manner. Not like people are waiting for it or anything. But baseball season is upon us, as is summer, and perhaps some twisted romance. So I might have things to post about.
One more thing--They had one of those annoying stupid irritating two-day pledge drives on my local affiliate a week or so ago. The kind that makes my skin crawl.
But I gave them some of my ever-decreasing pile of not much money. Because Peter Sagal made me feel like a dick. Sometimes that's the best motivator.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Tonight I finally watched "The Departed", Martin Scorcese's nomination-laden 2006 Gangsta pic.

I enjoyed it, but I don't think I'm prepared to review it just yet. I want to let it sink in. I will say that I think "The Departed" must hold some sort of record for top-notch acting talent dying in many violent ways. Well, the gun and defenestration for two.

Which brings me to a simple set of questions, since it's "Oscar Week". If you were to spot the great director, given a list of these names, who would you say is the finely skilled talent?

  1. Martin Scorcese.
  2. Kevin Costner.

Or, if you're uncomfortable with the way I posed that one, how about his? Which of the following pictures is an influential masterpiece, still fresh more than 15 years after its release?

  1. Goodfellas
  2. Dances With Wolves

I don't know if I care to live in a world where Goodfellas was not named Best Picture, and Martin Scorcese was not named Best Director. But it happened. Martin Scorcese was passed over for someone who even Madonna thinks is a dork.

I was kidding about not wanting to live in a world yada yada yada, but still.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Great Moments In Jurisprudence

While doing a little light reading on cannibalism this morning, I came across this gem from the trial of Alferd Packer, an old prospector in Colorado who led some companions into the San Juan Mountains in 1873 and came back some weeks later, alone and suspiciously fat. He claimed that his pals left him in the wilderness, and he had just barely survived his ordeal back home. Apparently, his fatness aroused suspicion, and the discovery that he had a large collection of his companions' worldly goods in his possession didn't help his cause either.
He was convicted of murder, later reduced to manslaughter, and sent for seventeen years hard labor. At his sentencing, outraged judge Melville Geery uttered one of my favorite sentencing lines ever:

"Packer, there were only seven Democrats in Hinsdale County, and you ate five of them, you depraved Republican son of a bitch!"

Looking around on-line, I found that this may be apocryphal. But still, I prefer history to be on the side of a guy with a good one-liner, so I'm accepting it in my heart as if it happened that way.

A claim is made that Packer and Albert Fish, an extremely kinky old codger in the late 20s , were the only two people in the US ever imprisoned for cannibalism, but I doubt that. Off the top of my head, I can name Jeff Dahmer and Ed Gein. The Russians approached it differently. Take Andrei Chikatilo, the Monster of The Don. Chikatilo actually wasn't sentenced to prison, he was given a 9 mm intervention a few months following his trial.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Favorite Day Of The Year

Nah, not Valentines' Day. My significant other is a dog, and he doesn't get the deal with such things. I'm talking about the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. This is the day when my angst-meter is reset, and I look at all the moves the team made during the off-season with optimism and rose-colored glasses. Today is the day when my well trodden-on heart overflows with the notion that my Giants can go 162 and O during the regular season, and then 11-0 in the post-season.
Of course, once the emotion and the THC wears off, I get realistic. But for now, I love everyone on the 40 man roster, and the main one who isn't "officially", Barry Bonds. I had a rough fall and winter, and nothing says "renewal of Spring, and with it hope" like the official beginning of the baseball year.

Catch Of The Day: "Dad's Gonna Kill Me"

One of my favorite musicians, Richard Thompson, has a new song available for free download on his site, Beesweb.
It's called "Dad's Gonna Kill Me". It's a provocative, chugging rocker about the Iraq war.
Download it Here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Re-issued Treasure: Home & Away

It's a rainy afternoon in Sacramento, and I'm having the time of my life. I'm listening to perhaps the greatest live acoustic album ever made, Clive Gregson and Christine Collister's "Home And Away".
It's been out of print for at least a decade, and it had been almost that long since my tired old cassette version, purchased (and autographed) at one of their gigs, finally became roadside confetti. Used versions on Ebay invariably were in the hundred dollar range, a bit rich for my impoverished ass. In the few email exchanges I've had with Clive over the years, I always asked when this would come out again. He was always noncommital, of the "maybe one day" persuasion. Imagine my surprise a few months back when I got an email from him announcing that Gottdiscs, a reissue company in the UK was putting it out again. I ordered it from them straight away, and it got here promptly.
I was hoping that I hadn't made it legendary through memory only, and that it would still sound pretty good.
It. Sounds. Excellent. Made for allegedly sixty pounds in 1987, around the time they were an integral part of the Great Richard Thompson's touring band (Clive, guitar and vocals Chris, vocals) this CD features only a lush acoustic guitar sound and two voices that wrap around each other with intuitive grace. This is living-room quality stuff. It sounds like they're on your sofa or in front of your fireplace. On the more raucous numbers, there's even an excited dog chipping in on the chorus. Cover versions like Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" and Larry Williams "Matchbox" are mixed with some beautiful Gregson compositions like "Home Is Where The Heart Is", "All The Time In The World" and "Northern Soul". Several of these songs are from Clive's days with Any Trouble, an unfairly neglected pop band on Stiff Records' roster. If you're of a mind for an intimate live album , do yourself a favor and click on the link below and buy it. I think the exhange rate and postage work out to about twenty bucks total.
Get it from Gottdiscs UK. Click Here.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Dive! Dive! Obsessing on Submarine Movies

I've been watching submarine movies like they're going out of style. They probably are out of style now anyway. I've seen most of them before, but one watching begat another, and soon my Netflix queue was as loaded with submarines as the Kriegsmarine was in 1940. They range from teh excellent, (Das Boot) to the absolutely horrible (U-571) . I was going to review them all, but I figured U-571 deserves its own post. WARNING: TOTAL SPOILERS BELOW.

I had run out of sub movies to watch, so I watched this one. Oy. . Matt McConnaghey is the XO aboard the USS Bon Jovi, named for the guy playing a doomed crewman. Cap'n Bill Paxton is the earnest skipper, who has recently given the navy a "no" vote to the question of should McConnaghey have his own command. They get a mission to go snag an Enigma machine off of a disabled U-Boat (U-571, natch.) First they must race to the scene ahead of another German sub sent to rescue it, then don Nazi Submariner uniforms, board the disabled vessel, overpower the crew, snag the Enigma machine, blow up the disabled sub, and return to base pronto before the dirty huns know they're about an Enigma Machine shy of a full compliment. Leading the landing party for the Americans is good old David Keith, (who you may remember as the wise-cracking, engagement-ring gobbling cheap motel suicide buddy of Richard Gere in "An Officer And A Gentleman" and not so much of a career since.) There's also some government spy type who speaks fluent German and gets seasick along for the ride. I forget who plays him, but he looks like a cross between a stockbroker and Tim Roth. Everything goes pretty well vis a vis the sub takeover, and just as they're ready to blow the disabled sub, the German rescue sub appears on the scene and torpedoes the American sub. Just a handful of men remain on the disabled German sub (and the Enigma machine, saved from drowning) and they immediately dive. Through expert maneuvering, they manage to fire a torpedo at the enemy sub, and it blows up real good in CGI splendor. They surface, looking for survivors. They see Cap'n Bill Paxton floating dead with a blowed up eye, and the ONE survivor they pluck out is the former captain of the very UBoat they're stuck on. A Jerry. A lousy hun. From here on in, it is submarine movie cliche all the way.
  • Captain looks through periscope, sees destroyer bearing STRAIGHT FOR 'EM.
  • Destroyer lobs a bevy of depth charges, rocking the sub, leaks spring up.
  • Captain insists they 'take er deep', close to or surpassing "Crush Depth"
  • Screws pop loose, gauges pop their bezels, leak after leak appears.
  • The only thing left is to? Wait for it.....BLOW THE TANKS
  • German captain able to kill a crewman, and later signal the enemy destroyer before being apparently bludgeoned to death.
  • Surface, race against time to fix the broken torpedo tube, launch single torpedo at bow of ship, watch it blow up completely, saving the day and the code machine.

Also, it really bugged me that the Americans were the ones that swiped the Enigma. Several Enigmas were captured early in the war by the British. No Americans got an Enigma until 44 or so, long after the U-Boats were a big factor in the war. The sensibility of this film would be like making "Enemy At The Gates" into a movie where a cowboy sharpshooter (Brad Pitt or someone) and his handful of salty American troops stop the German advance at Stalingrad and save the Soviet Union from ruin. For four decades anyway.

I learned from the internets that one of the deleted scenes (not included on the DVD, unfortunately) has Jon Bon Jovi being horribly decapitated. That might have changed my outlook.

I think that U-571 has as much accuracy and realism as say..."Down Periscope".

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Pops Her Clogs

They say she wanted to be like Marilyn Monroe. Looked kind of like her, died before 40.

Not quite surprised, but surprisingly saddened by the passing of Anna Nicole Smith in Florida. I loved to look at her, especially at the fattest of her up-and-down battle with weight loss. I like big girls with wild curves. Carsick making curves. Following her progress to the pearly gates over the last couple of years was pretty sad though.

When I lived somewhere with a TV, oftentimes a remote cycle would pause for a few minutes on her reality show, and even that stagey "not so real" reality show was sad. I hope she wasn't as stupid in real life as on that show, but how could she be. She married well with very nice timing and became a huge celebrity with not much discernable talent except for the stunning visual.

Can't be THAT lucky. Or stupid.

Descending to train-wreck personal appearances, where she looked and sounded drunk or stoned or both and then losing a son at what should have been a pretty happy time for her was not so much fun to watch.
She was no Marilyn Monroe. Like I said earlier, looked a bit like her sometimes, died young, but Marilyn? No. Look at the bright side though. Anna Nicole Smith will never have a tribute song written for her by rock's biggest no-talent hack, Bernie Taupin. At least I hope not.
I'll miss those dangerous curves, and can only hope she has a happier next life.