Monday, August 30, 2010

Fair Game

I went to the Maryland State Fair on Saturday, for the express purpose of going bet on some horse races.  I went last year too and posted on it.

I’m always under-whelmed by the Maryland State Fair, as I’m walking through it on the way to the track.  They’ve got the whole midway, rides, games and food stands, all crammed into an area about the size of a football field.
You’d think a State Fair would warrant a little more real estate than that.  I’ve been to the Ohio State Fair and the New York State Fair, and they were both immense.  Even the Fulton County Fair in Ohio is large enough to dwarf this one.

Oh, and they have fried stuff:

The year I went to the Fulton County Fair, I went with my buddy Rik and his family.  Back then, he was married and his girls showed horses.  I went because they were staying on the grounds for 3 or 4 days and Rik needed someone to make sure he didn’t strangle his wife and kids keep him calm and occupied. 

It was funny because I am not a “horse guy.”  Dave Barry once said that he doesn’t trust any animal that has feet made out of the same material as bowling balls.  I do not disagree.

At one point, Rik’s wife had me hold her horse’s lead, while she did… something… I don’t know what the hell she was doing.  I was too wired from looking into this giant animal’s enormous face.

Then, all of a sudden, she WALKED AWAY!  I was like, “Whoa, where the hell are you going?  You can’t leave me with this horse?  Have you seen what a bowling ball can to to foot bones?

She called back over her shoulder, “It’ll be fine, just don’t let him graze.”

I couldn’t even form words… What the hell was she doing leaving ME, and card-carrying suburbia-slicker, in alleged control of a horse? 

Seriously, all I could do was bluff.  If the horse wanted to graze, or walk away, or leap over a fence, there wasn’t a thing I was going to be able to do about it.  I could just see it…

Hey, where’s my horse?

He left.  He went over there somewhere…” (Pointing towards the horizon)

Oh yeah, I wanted to talk about the races.

I learned something about the races, this time.  Spending the day gambling on horses is a lot more fun when you’re winning.  I did not have a good day and was not at all happy about it.  My last couple times out I either broke even or came out ahead.  Even last year, I opened by hitting Exactas (picking the 1st and 2nd place horses) in the first 3 races and played with “house money” the rest of the day.

This time; not the same.  I had my program and my tip sheets.  I pored over all the information.  I went down in flames.  Here are the “lowlights”:

Race 1: not much history on these new horses.  I paired a favorite with one with a name I liked… Sista.  It reminded me of a dear friend I used to work with, who was half black, half white and all Sista.  She’d be complaining about all the stuff she had to do, then ask if I wanted to go to lunch.  I’d ask if she wasn’t too busy for lunch.  She’d always say, “Sista gotta eat…” 

This time, Sista ran 3rd, screwing my Exacta.

Race 2: I placed 2 Exactas, using a favorite with 2 different horses.  I noticed that there seemed to be 2 brothers among the jockeys: Christopher Ho and Wesley Ho.  I wondered if they might have another sibling, Stanky Ho.

Christopher Ho lived up to his name by screwing me out of another Exacta; bringing the #2 horse out of nowhere to finish right in between my two picks.  He was on Mymanmax.  How did I miss that?  Penguins fans, you know who always comes through in the clutch?  Max Talbot.  I totally should have bet on Max being ridden by a Ho.

Race 3: I decided to go with names.  The #5 horse was Unadulterated.  I place Exacta bets with him and 2 other horses, Mr Flips, and Brew for the Band (ridden by the other Ho Brother.)

This pick was an unadulterated failure.  Brew came in 3rd, Unadulterated came in 4th.  There are no bets for that finish.  The winner was Mario Flowers.  “Mario”… another Pittsburgh Penguins reference.  I’m going to have to watch out for those.

Race 4: I liked the #7 horse, Rambunctious Boy.  I paired him with 2 others, You Rascal and Crack Thepat.  I figured, I’m rambunctious, I’m a rascal, and I’d like to see the Pats get cracked.

Big CF with this race.  There were inquiries, investigations, and the finishing order got shuffled.  None of this did me any good.  I lost, then upon further review, lost again.  This was all C. Ho’s doing, who won, then came in third.

Race 5: This was another race between horses without much experience.  I didn’t want to invest much so I picked a couple favorites.  But then there was one horse with a name… Pop’s Mojo.  At the last second, I decided to put $2 on Pop’s Mojo to win.

Pop’s Mojo won!  Whoo Hoo!  Can’t stop the old Mojo Boogie!  Papa just earned… sigh… $12.60.  Didn’t get me even, but it filled in the hole a little bit.

Race 6: Big race… 6 horses, all previous winners.  I though I had a vibe on Green Velvet, so I paired him with 2 other solid horses on Exacta boxes, Franklin’s Philly, because he was ridden by a hot female jockey, and Disco Haze, because I used to have a lot of those, back in the day.

Green freakin’ Velvet finished dead last.  The two winners?  Franklin’s Philly and Disco Haze.  FUCK!!!

Race 7:  More inexperienced horses.  I paired the two favorites in an Exacta box, and picked one to win, DJ’s Ladies Man.  I may not have been a lady’s man, but I was a DJ. 

DJ for the win!!  Whoo Hoo!!  That pays me… $3.60.  Shit.  Why even bother cashing in that ticket?

I watched this one from down on the rail.  Here’s the finish:
I like watching from the rail.  You can feel the ground shake as they run by.  Very cool.

Race 8:  Feeling completely unlucky, I just bet the 2 and 4 horses.  2 and 5 won.  Shit!!!

Race 9:  I loaded up the 5-horse, Lord of the Dance (because I used to have some serious moves) with 2 other horses, which didn’t matter because the Lord Danced his way to 4th place out of 5 horses.  C-Ho came in second again.

Race 10:  Last chance.  The 6-horse, Crafty Son, that one’s all me!  And I used to work in a craft store.  Granted, I wasn’t the least bit crafty… I always said I was Crafting-Impaired.  I always got the old ladies on the staff to make my crafty stuff for me.  In return, I’d reach things for them on high shelves.  Which was indeed, crafty of me.

So I paired Crafty Son with Concatenation (ridden by the hot female jockey) and then with Legal Pad, because I used to write on those.  Plus, the esteemed C-Ho was riding him.

Hot female jockey came through, but with Legal Pad and C-Ho.  Crafty Son did not finish anywhere near the front.  I got to see him not finish from right up close.
Concatenation, fulfilling one half of my failed Exacta.

Jockey Jenna Joubert, being all hot and female.

Day's damage: -$43.80 in bets.  Add to that the $12 for Fair entry and the programs and the grand total was -$55.80.  I've had better days.

I had half a mind to go back to the barn and confront the Ho’s that kept messing with my bets.

I’d be all, “Heeeey, Hoooooo, heeeeey, hooooo…”

They’d be, “What’s up, Joe?

I’d be, “Why you messing with a bro?

And they’d be, “You know what they say, ‘Ho’s before bros!

I know, that was a long way to go for the money line…

Sometimes life isn’t Fair.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birth of a Bluz Dude

Growing up, I had only a passing acquaintance with the blues.  Mom used to play “BB King – Live at the Cook County Jail” from time to time, and I liked that because there was that funny line in “How Blue Can You Get?”

I bought you a $10 dinner
You said ‘thanks for the snack.’
I gave you seven children,
And now you wanna give’em back”.

I liked the Blues Brothers when they came out, even though they were kind of jokey, although there was no joke about their backing band.

But I’ll never forget the day the blues jumped up and bit me.

It was 1983 and I was a senior in college.  I was puttering around up in my bedroom, with the radio tuned to the local FM rock station.  Suddenly I heard this huge noise, a great opening guitar flourish followed by a muscular, walking bass line. 

I snapped my head around toward the radio and thought, “What the hell is that?”  It was unlike anything else that station ever played.  I loved it by the end of the first minute.

Have you heard about a love,
Give sight to the blind.
My baby’s love cause the sun to shine.
She’s my sweet little thang…
She’s my pride and joy.
She’s my sweet little baby,
I’m her little lover boy.”

That was my introduction to Stevie Ray Vaughan and his first hit, Pride and Joy.  I hadn’t heard a guitar played like that… no power chords, but definitely a powerful guitar.

The next time I had to work at the record store, I found the new Stevie Ray cassette and bought it.  After quitting time, I slapped it in the car stereo and headed for home.

Holy crap, he played like a man possessed.  I was especially floored by the instrumentals, particularly “Rude Mood”.  It was so fast and so clear and so unlike anything else I’d ever heard.  My musical world had just been turned on its ear.

When I got home, my mom and dad were sitting out on the swing in the back yard.  I ran back and said, “You have GOT to hear this!”

I ran into The Barn, grabbed the stereo speakers off the wall and propped them up in the windows.  Then I put the tape on and the yard filled with the sound of the blues.

The parents were suitably impressed and also became fans.

From there, I began to do a lot of rummaging through the blues section at the record store.  Another guy that worked there knew something about blues guitar and began showing me some other guys…

If you like Stevie Ray, try…” Johnny Winter, Albert Collins, Roy Buchanan became new favorites.  But to me, SRV was always king.  I bought every album he released for the next couple years.

I remember working in the store one day and the manager was putting on a new record.  Within about 10 seconds, I knew it was the new Stevie Ray.  The cut was “Scuttle Buttin’” a fast and furious shuffle that opened his 2nd album, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather”, with a bang.

In October of 1986, Stevie Ray came to town to play a show on my birthday.  He was touring on his 3rd album, Soul to Soul.  This was his first album and tour that included a piano player.

Up until that night, I’d never seen him play.  I’d only ever seen one music video, the one for “Cold Shot”, which was great, (and very funny) but didn’t really highlight his playing.  Once I saw, I was dumbfounded.  What a show… what a showman.  I was just slayed.
Taken from the 2nd row of the 2nd tier.  We were actually much closer than the picture indicates.

He opened up with “Scuttle Buttin’”, which he melded right into the wah-wah pedal instrumental, “Say What”.  He played his ass off all night, often times playing behind his head or behind his back.  It was unbelievable.  And his new keyboard guy was just stellar.  His organ solo during “Say What” and piano solo during “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” were spot on.
Soon after, he did a concert on MTV, playing on a New Orleans riverboat.  I recorded it off the TV and I swear I wore that tape out, just trying to watch his hands. 

Stevie Ray Vaughan changed everything for me.  The blues became my primary music.  Once I began to manage stores, I would make it my priority to set up a respectable blues section, especially in the big freestanding store I managed on the east side of Cleveland.  I tell you, I rocked that place with the blues on Friday night, often to the chagrin of my staff, who just wanted to hear Guns & Roses or Bobby Brown or Ice-T.

Then one August day in 1990, just after I had moved to Albany NY to run one of our company’s best mall stores, I got a phone call with some disturbing news.

There was a helicopter crash in the hills of Wisconsin.  Stevie Ray Vaughan was among the dead.  That was August 27, 1990, 20 years ago yesterday.  And today is 20 years since I got that phone call.

I was crestfallen.  I don’t think I’d felt like that about the death of someone outside my circle since 1972 when my childhood idol, Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente, was killed.  The only upside is that when I first got that call, I was told that Eric Clapton was killed too, which turned out to be untrue.

Thankfully, Stevie Ray’s music lives on.  You can trawl though You Tube videos and find a treasure trove full of material.  His influence has been felt throughout the music industry, although if you listen to the radio now, it might be hard to spot.  But back in the 80s, white boys all across the country picked up guitars and started playing the blues.

I may not have been able to actually play, but someone has to be in the audience.  That would be me.

Rest in peace, Stevie Ray.  You’ll never be forgotten.  You’ll always be the guy that turned this regular dude, into a bluzdude.
By all means, play this video... Stevie Ray at his finest!

I Have a Nightmare

Thanks to First Door on the Left for posting this cartoon.  You can always find the week in editorial cartoons there every Friday night.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Odd Bits - Supa-Stah Edition

Sitcom Kelly isn’t the only goofball friend I correspond with over email. My friend, Sassy, from the Great White North, is the manager of one of our branches in the Canadian Maritimes. She used to work at one of our call centers, which is where I first got to trade emails with her and learned that she is as clever, twisted and fun as all get out. We hit it off immediately.

Anyway, a couple months ago, she emailed me with an actual business question. That started another one of those amusing email threads.

Note: To understand the backstory, Sassy possesses an angelic singing voice and has not-so-secret desires to be a Supa-stah! She’s the Mary Katherine Gallagher of Canada. We’ve long had plans to write (me) and perform (her) in epic movie musicals, sweep the academy awards and spend our remaining lives signing autographs for the little people.

Excuse me sir... I now report to a new DM, blah blah blah work stuff blah blah. Would I be accurate?

Branch Manager
That is correct, random Branch Manager. You should blah blah work answers blah blah.

That is all.


Dear Sir,
Thank you for your immediate response, I feel it is in the branch's best interest to adhere to company policy that is why your confirmation was crucial. Thank you for informing me that blah blah more work stuff.

Random Branch Manager

Dear Random Branch Manager,
I knew that you would be concerned about blah blah blah, because, you see, we here at (my department) do in fact know everything. (Including the fact that you are generally exceptional.)


Dear gentleman who knows everything,
*blush*... Exceptional is very generous of you, some days or most days I don't quite feel so exceptional...but merely an average player striving to be exceptional...perhaps this wasn't my calling, however I will make the most of it.


Dear Humble Branch Manager,
The Gentleman believes your calling to be musical theatre and traveling live revues, but branch management will have to do.


Dear Kind Sir,
I value you your solid opinion of my true calling, you at (your department) really do know everything. Alas, branch management will have to do...for now. I am not the only person in this conversation who has missed their calling, I believe your true calling is a writer...of many sorts...but I see your name all over Hollywood scripts.

Speaking of my true calling, we are going to NYC next month. We just got tickets to see American Idiot on Broadway, I feel it is time to expose my children to the finer things in life, especially the younger one...the apple didn't fall too far from the tree if you know what I mean.


Dear Perceptive Branch Flower,
Your words are too kind. And I am writing more in the last year than I have in my whole life. And people are actually reading, which is a pleasant change.

Your children will love NYC! I know I was blown away the first time I was there, and I was an actual grownup.

Please accept one bit of advice, from one that has been there and as previously stated, knows everything.

After the show, look for a side or back exit outside the theater. The cast usually comes out there before disappearing into the night, often just hailing a cab. It’s a good place for pics and autographs.

Back in the 90’s, we got to see Bebe Neuwirth (Lillith, from Cheers) who was in Damn Yankees and Cuban pop singer Jon Secada, who was in Grease. Plus all the other cast members that weren’t already famous.


Dear Inspiring Writer,
I am so happy that you have invested a lot of time into writing and you are being credited by your readers; this indeed is a pleasant change. Just remember if Hollywood comes knocking on your door, please advise them there is only one stipulation for you to write them a box office hit and that would be for you to choose the lead female role, I trust you know who that would be.

That is an excellent idea to exit stage left or right in order to catch a glimpse of the cast. This would not be the first time I've rubbed elbows with the stars, not only did I catch a glimpse but these people were standing right in front of me...Sally Fields, Minnie Driver, Joey Lauren Adams,  Hallie Kate Eisenberg (the cast of Beautiful). And I once almost took out Martin Short (wasn't paying attention to where I was walking). I've also seen Denzel Washinton in person & Helena Bonham Carter. I was a frequent visitor at the Toronto Film Festival.


Dear Starlet in the Making,
I think I lost my ability to function properly at the thought of meeting Joey Lauren Adams.

When I regain my senses, I will begin a script for Nim’s Island 2, in which you will star. Perhaps I’ll make it a “pre-quel” to take advantage of your youth, compared to that of Miss Foster.

(Note: Sassy looks like a younger, hotter Jody Foster.)

Dear Screen Writer for Nim's Island 2,

I 101% understand your loss of ability to function after mentioning Joey Lauren Adams. I would like to take a moment to brag that she is absolutely beautiful in person as well. I can verify this seeing as she stood a mere foot in front of me...facing me. Awww...the memories.

As for replacing Miss Foster, though I'm fully aware that I'm bursting with dramatic talent, I could not follow in the steps of the great Miss Foster... no one can. I am in awe of her talent and who she is as human being... I would bear her children if I could. *puzzled look*...but you know what I mean.


Dear Aspiring Actress,
Perhaps I can find a way to work Ms Adams into Nim’s Island 2, so you can co-star. I’ve been in love with her admired her work ever since Chasing Amy. Then she was adorable memorable as the waitress in “Michael”. (“Wings? Far out!”)

I’m picturing scenes for the 2 of you that decorum would not permit me to describe, but suffice to say there may be “frolicking” involved.


Dear Upcoming and Prominent Writer,
As an individual who adheres to company policy on an ongoing basis, so would be the same standards to which I would adhere when acting out a script, if it requires frolicking with Ms Adams, I would be more than happy to oblige.


Dear Next Big Thing,
I think we may have a bona fide hit on our hands.


Have you ever seen two people blow so much smoke up each other’s butt in one email thread?

The Spill
Now that the Gulf oil spill has been capped and there are no longer any exciting pictures of oily pelicans and greasy beaches to put on TV, the media coverage of the BP’s ecological hazard is disappearing like the money in the bank accounts of the Louisiana shrimpers.

The lack of coverage is NOT to say that the effects on the people, beaches, wetlands and marine life have disappeared. One group trying to keep this issue in people’s minds and hearts is the West Florida Literary Federation. On their website, they have a page called The Spill, dedicated to essays, poetry and photographs on the oil spill and destruction of what once was the emerald gulf waters.

If this issue means something to you, please check out the site, where you can submit your own writings or just read what others have to say on the subject. My own lil Bluz Mother has been a part of this since the beginning and has one of her poems published there.

Any attention you can draw to The Spill will help keep this issue alive until the day (unfortunately too far in the future) when every last drop of that sludge is gone from the Gulf’s ecosystem. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

When We Are Old and Gray

You will not believe what I am subjecting myself to this evening.  Remember back in December when I posted about all the lame Christmas music I hated?  And Bluz Enemy #1 was…

Here I sit tonight, playing a heartless, soul-less Mitch Miller album so that I can transfer the song onto the computer as MP3s.  I then have to burn them onto a CD, but at least I can do that quietly.  But right now I have to play each song all the way through, to get them transferred to the PC.

This is the album I'm recording tonight.  Look at that cover.  If I ever show up to a "party" and that is what I see when I come in the door, please, someone just shoot me.  That's a face that says "Unspeakable things are about to happen to you before you wake up in a seedy hotel bathtub with bandages around your waist."  What you can't see behind the song list is the coffin from which he just arose at sunset.

This is killing me.  Thank God these songs are short.  At least they're not Christmas songs.

I’m doing all of this for Pinky and her old people.  She does God’s work.  (And no, I don't mean killing them all and sorting them out later.)

She is an activities person at an assisted living facility for seniors.  She’s at one particular place now, but she also has her own business doing sing-alongs and art classes, so she always needs new material.  The people at her current place asked if she had any Mitch Miller.  She didn’t, but she went online and bought what she thought would be a CD.  Unfortunately it was an LP.  So now it’s Bluz and his multi-media studios to the rescue.

You know, it’s bad enough getting old without having to listen to Mitch freakin’ Miller.  This whole album sounds like a radio commercial from the 1940s, and not even the fun stuff like Big Band.  Even the nerds in 1940 must have been going, “Geez, that’s lame.”

Do you ever think of what it will be like when we hit our 80s and have to go to The Home?  What do you think they’ll be singing to us then?

How will they be able to pull off singing the touchstone songs of our youth?  It won’t be enough to just be able to sing; they’re going to have to be able to howl!  (At least for the songs I’ll want to hear.) 

It’s going to have to be karaoke, won’t it?  Because how can you possibly hope to pull off songs like “Whole Lotta Rosie” if you don’t have the guitars?  Can you possibly perform “Hot for Teacher” without a double-bass drum kit?  If I’m in that audience, I’ll be throwing pill bottles if they skimp on the amps!  You think it would be too much to ask for some lasers and a fog machine?

But that’s the good thing about being that old and rocking out… they HAVE to turn it way up in order for us to hear it.  People will be driving down the street in front of the center and be all, “Damn, those geezens are jammin’!

In all likelihood, I’ll have to flash back to my DJ days and get up there and spin the tunes myself.  I’ll probably have to use the next available music technology though… no LPs, no tapes, no CDs, no MP3s… by that time they’ll probably have chips embedded in our heads through which they can directly broadcast songs (and orders) into our brains.

H-A-double-R-I, G-A-N spells Harrigan

Wait a minute… what the fuck is that?  This shit must be sinking in.  Oh, man, only 2 songs left.

If I have to listen to old shit, I much prefer something from 50s scalawag, Tom Lehrer.  I must admit, I learned everything I know about old age from one of his songs.

Since I still appreciate you
Lets find love while we may,
Because I know I’ll hate you,
When you are old and gray.
So say you love me here and now
I'll make the most of that.
Say you love and trust me
For I know you'll disgust me
When you're old and getting fat!”

Play the video to hear the rest… it’s worth it. 

But now it’s time for me to rejoice!  The record’s over and I never have to listen to Mitch Miller or see his pervy-assed goatee ever again!

Good Night, Ladeees, gooood night ladeeeees...


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Only 30 More Teams to Catch...

To celebrate the Orioles climbing out of the league’s cellar, (thanks for nothing, Pirates), I went to see the O’s play the Texas Rangers on Saturday.  Pinky had to work so I took Sitcom Kelly with me because going anywhere with her is guaranteed to provide blog material.

But before I even got to the game, I came up with an item that is going straight to the Book of Bluz:

Bluz Maxim of Public Transportation: If you miss your train or bus by less than a minute, the next one will be late.

Never fails… I decide to park in the back of the lot, where shade will be later, attach The Club, fiddle with the sunshade, and by the time I get out of the car and start walking toward the platform, there’s the train.  If I had gotten started 45-seconds earlier, I could have been within running distance to catch it. 

Then again, I didn’t have to run, which is a benefit in and of itself.  And yes, I know the exact spot that if I’m not at least that close to the station, I will be unable to make the train even if I run.  Nothing is worse than making a hot sweaty fool of yourself by running like a madman across the parking lot and then miss the train anyway.  As the train pulls away, you can see all the people on the train looking out the window at you and making the “L for Loser” sign on their foreheads.

So now that I’m ensured of having the maximum wait time for the next train, it ends up an additional 5 minutes late.  Wonderful.  And this was the day I didn’t bring my MP3 player with me.  All I had to do to kill the time was to walk in angry circles and swear.

I met up with Sitcom Kelly at the entrance to Camden Yards, where they have statues of all the retired numbers of former Orioles players.  Yes, you read that right.  They have statues of the numbers, not the players.

You can see the retired numbers of (L-R) Jim Palmer (22), Brooks Robinson (5) and Cal Ripken (8).  A statue of the actual Babe Ruth is at the far right.  You may wonder why the Orioles have a statue of the most famous Yankee in history.  It’s because Babe was born in the vicinity of Camden Yards.  I don’t know about that… If a famous Baltimore Raven was born right on the 50-freakin’-yardline of Heinz Field, I wouldn’t want a statue of his ass anywhere near the place.  But when you have a town with an inferiority complex like Baltimore, you grasp at any angle for reflected glory.

Before we went into the game, we sought out a local watering hole to enjoy a couple beers that we did NOT have to take out a loan to purchase.  I had picked up some dogs on the way over so I wasn’t hungry, but Sitcom Kelly, the vegetarian, was.  Upon looking at the menu, I mentioned that they had a nice grilled cheese sandwich.  She replied that she doesn’t like cheese.  I pointed out the contradiction inherent in that statement by alluding to all the quesadillas, nachos and pizza I’ve see her eat.
She ended up ordered the mozzarella sticks.  And you wonder why we’re working on a sitcom based on her.  I’m still working on her to start a blog.

Our seats were in the 8th row behind the leftfield wall. 
Our view.

It was pretty hot, but it’s been worse.  The sky was kind of hazy, rather than featuring the direct, burning sun, but it still continued the need for beer. 

Apparently, only the moneybags people in the infield lower boxes get cup holders at their seats.  This annoyed Sitcom Kelly no end, so she fashioned her own.

We sat beside 3 young people from Philadelphia, who were shockingly enough, not assholes.  There were 2 sisters and the boyfriend of one of them.  The boyfriend was deploying soon to Afghanistan. 

If you think about it, that’s the best way to end that war… send a bunch of Philadelphians over there.  The Taliban would never know what hit them.

Anyway, they came down on a spur of the moment road-trip, just for something to do, and they were very fun to talk to.  I, of course, had a great time alluding to all the rotten things Philly fans are known for.  But you know, you can only throw so many stones when your own teams are sitting in 31st and 32nd positions in a 32-team league.

The game itself was surprisingly good.  The Orioles won 8-6 in a game that featured a bunch of huge home runs.  Rookie Orioles 3rd baseman Josh Bell hit his 1st and 2nd career homers in his first 2 at-bats of the day, and came within a foot of having a 3rd when his long fly to right hit the wall just below the top.  Kid was raking that day.

The O’s also had a 3-homer inning, as Ty Wiggington hit one 442’ to center and the next batter, Luke Scott, smacked one 422’.  Both went out in the deepest part of center field.  It was later that inning when Bell hit his second.

The first place Rangers made it interesting on Josh Hamilton hit a massive blast that cleared the 410’ mark in dead center by about 20’.  I have to estimate because the lame-ass Baltimore Sun only listed the length of the home team’s homers.  (Homerism, indeed.)  But all in all, it was a good day for guys named Josh.
Josh Hamilton, the Rangers left fielder.

We stayed for the whole game too, which is the first time in ages I can remember still being there for the 9th inning.  Usually the O’s games are pretty much over by the 7th.

On the walk back to the subway, I noticed how downtown Baltimore isn’t completely without its charms.
Someday I’ll get ambitious enough to learn the name of this beautiful, gold-capped building.

Before I left for the game, I set up the DVR to record both the Orioles game and the Steelers pre-season game against the Giants, which came on at 7:00.  After a much-needed cool shower, I scanned through the baseball game to see who might turn up.  I wasn’t disappointed:
Bluz and Sitcom Kelly, two visions in orange, watch Felix Pie make a catch.

Times like this is when it SO pays off to have the HDTV and DVR.  Samson made me proud.

I also spotted us one more time:
This one must have been later in the game, because the Bad-Ass Bluz Shades are off.

Next game on tap will be 9/2 against the Red Sox.  We’ll be sitting in about the same place.  I do NOT, however, expect such pleasant conversation from the visiting hordes.  Like I have time to spend 20 minutes behind some Southie trying to explain to the concessionaire what a “tonic” is.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fault Lines

I really didn't want to do another political post so soon but there’s so much going on out there that it’s making my head explode.

The first thing I want to address is this flawed notion that the country’s economic problems belong to Obama now.  I agree that they belong to him to fix.  However the Right is postulating that since he’s been president a year and a half now, that he take the blame for current economic state.

Now I realize that the Republicans recognize that it’s election season and are desperately trying to run away from their role in our dire economic straits, but just because they want us to forget about it doesn’t mean that we have to, or that we should.  I mean, does the passage of time really change the cause(s) of events in the past?

Let me put it like this:

Little Georgie took his hatchet and with the help of his little friends, started whacking on a big, robust cherry tree in the park.  Eventually, the townspeople saw what was going on, wrestled the hatchet away from Georgie and sent him and his little friends packing.

Just then, a professor from the Midwest happened by and was drawn into the scene.  The townspeople implored the professor to see what he could do to repair the damaged tree.  So he set out to consult with the area’s best arborists to repair the tree and stimulate some healing growth.  They worked long days and nights, but in the end, for every new branch that grew, another one fell off.

After a year or so, the townspeople grew tired of seeing the work zone that had been put up around the tree, and resented that they no longer had any more fresh cherries.  Some of the townspeople, including a shadowy bunch that had given Georgie the hatchet in the first place, began blocking the professors path to the tree and throwing rocks whenever he appeared.

Now I ask you, who is at fault for the state of the tree?  Is it the guy that’s working hard to fix it?  Or is it the little bastards that hacked it up in the first place?

We may get impatient for a fix, but that doesn’t change history.  What it does is say more about our miniscule attention span than anything else.  There is one group bent on fixing the situation.  The other group doesn’t like that and is clamoring to be given the ax again.

Why on earth would we hand the ax back to Little Georgie and his hooligan friends?

Maybe They Should Have Bought More Coats
I’ve also had enough of the whole “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, about a place that’s not a mosque getting built on a location that’s not Ground Zero.  I hate it when verbal shorthand becomes the basis of gross misinformation. 

Yeah, the titty bars and liquor stores that are closer than the Burlington Coat Factory-cum-Muslim activity center, (the MMCA, if you will), are so much more respectful.  It seems to me that moderate Muslims are exactly who we need to be cozying up to, if we really want to drive out terrorism.  By making them jump through hoops, all we’re doing is driving more of them straight into the terrorist training camps, where they’ll be forced to do the hand-over-hand bars on YouTube, before strapping bombs to their chests and taking a trip to the mall.

How far does the hallowedness extend from Ground Zero?  Five blocks?  Ten Blocks?  Does hallowedness diffuse, the further it gets from Ground Zero?  Maybe they should just put a big dotted line around lower Manhattan.  Make Time Square the DMZ… the DeMuslimized Zone.  Then cram all the Muslims into the Upper West side, to scare all the liberals.

It amuses me how everyone says, “It’s not that they’re building a mosque, it’s where they’re building it.”  Except that it isn’t.  Just this week, Jon Stewart showed footage of anti-mosque demonstrations going on in cities all over the country, in a half dozen places where a mosque is planned.  Is it all hallowed ground? 

Actually, I guess it is… it’s the American Way… “My backyard is always hallowed ground.”

I just have one more thing to say about this issue that was tailor-made to be an election wedge issue:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  ~Excerpt from The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution~

That goes for all religions, even the ones we don’t understand.  End of fuckin’ story.