May 31, 2008

You are what you listen to

And this is what I am, you get to hear which songs have been played the most oftenly on my home computer...

The first song on the list has thirty plays, and the final group of songs all have twenty plays with the sings in between

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Three songs are missing because I couldn't find them on seeqpod - "The Rainbow" by Talk Talk, "Sweet Thing" by the Waterboys, and "Dieu A Nos Cotes" by Hart Rouge - and there is a Ryan Adams that I had to swap a live version in because I couldn't find the album version.

May 30, 2008

The cheese factor is set on high, sir

Aw, man...enjoy the awesomeness of Italian Spider-man on

Or, at least, enjoy the awesomeness once their back online after they get the little bandwidth exceeded problem all sussed out.

It's as if you throw Ron Jeremy and James Bond into a blender with a shot of 70's and Land of the Lost then labeled it Spider-Man.

There can be no more awesome thing on the interwebs at the moment.

Trust me on this one.

I man...awesome...give it a day to come back online or check it as it's posted on YouTube, but then you'll miss their other new series.

May 29, 2008

Hassenpfeffer incorporated

Schlameezel, schlamazel...enjoy peeps and homies...And, as always, link blogging works for me...

With my stimulus check

The above map - available here in massive form - shows the location of every AAA, AA, High-A, Low-A, and short season minor league baseball team in the US. Turns out we have a half dozen minor league teams here in the Buckeye state - which should make the summer baseball trip with The Surrogate Family a little easier.

But that's for another day. My issue at this point is that I threw on my Washington Senators baseball jersey over the weekend. It's a baseball jersey that I bought when I was in middle school (or maybe early high school) meaning that I've had it for nearly twenty years. When I first bought it, it was huge on me, a XXL; at this point, it barely qualifies as a large because of the decades of washing and drying (I've moved to line drying on everything now, but that's a recent development); and it's starting to get pretty worn in certain spots.

So it's time to get a new jersey, and I'm in need of some suggestions.

The issues - I'm a Reds fan but a casual one at best, and putting on a Reds jersey while living the the greater-metro-Cincy-Dayton area suggests that I'm way more of a fan than I really am, opening me up to a whole lot of people I don't know coming up to me with the typical "Yeah, go Reds, man" comment.

And lord knows I hate people but love gatherings enough to want to avoid that.

I don't have any particular loyalty toward another major league team or any minor league team, so I'm just looking for a jersey that looks good. Something that's left field enough that I probably won't have any fans of the team coming up to me but not so horrifically weird that people are gonna comment.

So, anybody know of any minor league jerseys that they like the look of?

Or where I can find a jersey or baseball hat from the Los Alamos Bombers?

PS - Oh, and it's got to be a button-up. No pullovers for the pudgy boy.

May 28, 2008

Checking my skill set

Generally, I'd throw this into a list of links from blogs for the week, but I wanna see how I stack up against the list of 75 Skills Every Man Should Master.

Checking 'em out in order...not hitting every single one but just the highlights...

#1 - Give advice that matters in one sentence - I tend to be pretty wordy when asked, and I can certainly talk for a long while on most subjects where I'm comfortable, but I'd like to think that I can be succinct when it's called for.

#3 - Take a photo. Fill the frame - I've got that one rocked. I'm feeling pretty confident about my photo-taking skills, and lord knows I take enough of them to have practice, at least.

#4 - Score a baseball game. - nope, no can do...I've been to enough games with Gamer that I should be able to, but I'm without even a lick of this skill. I could stumble my way through reading a score sheet, but that'd be about as close as I manage here.

#7 - Cook meat somewhere other than the grill. - I'm working on this bit by bit and can pan-fry a decent chicken breast or cube steak at this point. I'm actually kinda proud of my parmesan-crusted chicken breasts when I'm called on.

#11 - Swim three different strokes. - Nope. I'm never gonna drown, but I'm certainly not a stylish swimmer. I'm a hack freestyler and a hack backstroker. If I had to be pushed, I might manage a side stroke, but it wouldn't be even close to pretty.

#15 - Calculate square footage - Seriously? Multiply? I can do that in a heartbeat.

#18 - Speak a foreign language. - Nope. There wsa a time when I could let enough German drizzle out to survive, but that time is long, long past.

#19 - Approach a woman out of his league. - In a wide-open setting like a bar, no. Never "picked up" a woman at all. I've dated four women in my life, married the first girl I ever kissed, and I'm not even remotely a lothario.

#23 - Be loyal. - I let my best man - and one of my best friends - live in my basement with his wife for three months this summer because it made his life easier. I'd like to think I've got the loyalty thing down.

#27 - Play gin with an old guy. - I can play your butt of in gin - or rummy or canista. I pay attention to what you pick up and what you pass. I know what card you need, and I've got in my hand. And I won't give it up to you until I've got the win. Ask Calen on this one. I'm a beast. Penny a point, nickle a box, double a skunk.

#28 - Play go fish with a kid. - Again, ask Calen if I've played go fish with her younger.

#29 - Understand quantum physics well enough that he can accept that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped. - I also understand enough to not lay any money on it happening within my life time.

#35 - Jump start a car...change a flat tire...change the oil - Oh-for

#38 - Tell a joke. - My favorite is the Thor joke. My version isn't the same as thith one, but it's in the same ballpark.

#43 - Install a disposal, an electronic thermostat, or a lighting fixture without asking for help. - I did the last tonight and the second before. The disposal still has me stumped.

#46 - Tell a women's dress size. - I would never ever attempt this one.

#54 - Break up a fight. - Done it. Done it a couple of times. Big props to Doug Studer in helping me up with it.

#56 - Create a play-list in which ten seemingly random songs provide a secret message to one person. - Done.

#59 - Write a thank you note. - Still working on doing it consistently.

#61 - Cook bacon. - Their instructions for 400 degrees for 15 minutes is too short by about ten minutes for my tastes. And you gotta remember to rotate the sheet halfway through. Let me recommend aluminum foil.

#73 - Caress a woman's neck. - Don't ask these things. This blog is partially for my students.

#75 - Negotiate a better price. - I haggle horribly. Hate doing it. Hate considering doing it. Instead, I do my homework and find out what I should pay. I ask them if they'll meet it. If they won't, I generally walk away. If they're close enough, I'm good. I don't negotiate well otherwise.

Any of the others you're curious about? Any that you're particuarly proud you can check off on your own list?

May 27, 2008

In full summer mode

Two weeks...three's like summer has already begun...

Had to give Iron Man a try. It killed me that The Girl was out of town on premier weekend and asked me to wait 'til she was back, but with prom and such, I managed a fun weekend anyway.

The quick version - kind of like the reviews have said, Iron Man is good, but certainly not great.

The actors are marvelously well chosen - particularly Robert Downey, Jr as the lead. The special effects show another leap forward in letting us actually believe that the Iron Man suit could do all the things it's supposed to do - light years better than the early Spider-Man swings that look positively archaic at this point. The story is a standard - and believable - enough introductory tale showing how Stark could have been both motivated and talented enough to develop the initial - and two subsequent - suits. Plus the writers throw in enough nods to the comic geek - SHIELD, Jarvis, Iron Monger, War Machine, the starting-to-get-annoying Stan Lee cameo, the after-the-credits scene - to let me truly geek out.

The movie never quite rises above a solid introduction film, however - probably because the villian just didn't quite seem threatening enough in spite of his overall dudeness.

They've set themselves up brilliantly for more Iron Man flicks, however, and hopefully the ultimate goal of the new Marvel Studios with The Avengers.

On the recommendation of G-Rob & really strong reviews, I got The Girl to sit down and watch Once on Saturday night.

Be warned that if you give Once a chance, the accents are thick - enough that I had to turn the subtitles on in the beginning of the film. As the film gets moving - and there's honestly not a lot of movement in the film - however, the accent became easier and easier to understand - though there were a couple times when I had to pause and replay a line or two.

The film tells the story of two musicians - one a street busker and the other a pianist who happens upon him playing his original songs. They take a couple of hesitating romantic steps toward each other at first but settle for something much deeper as they - and a trio of other musicians - record an album in the few days that they have together as the lead character announces his intentions to depart Dublin when the recording is completed.

The bulk of the tale is told through music - the director estimates in a DVD extra that a full 60% of the film's running time involves the characters playing and/or singing together. The songs aren't literal story songs, moving the story forward in any exact fashion, but the increasing intimacy of the performances between the two leads conveys everything that needs to be told.

The film reminded me very much of Lost in Translation in that both tales could easily be told as simply boy meets girl, instead the writers decided to take a different tact and make a hell of a film.

Once isn't quite the equal of Translation, and The Girl did admit to the slow pace getting to her after a while (she even used the bored word), but this is a little gem of a film.

I would never have chosen Gone Baby Gone - the previews suggested something far too dark for my tastes, something a little too complex an emotional for my tastes.

Blowing this one off would've been a total mistake, however, as it was easily the best film of the trio this time. The Afleck's together have put together an outstanding film - Casey in the lead and Ben behind the camera - oddly set in Boston (believe it or not).

Casey's lead character is a private investigator searching for delinquent payees who steps up in joining the search for a lost little girl beside Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman's police force. Afleck and Michelle Monaghan as his girlfriend, have a discussion quite early on wondering whether they really want to take the case, if their comfortable life really needs the added pressure of a higher-profile case.

The entire movie hinges on that choice - whether the situation as it is would be better left or whether a change and all the earth-shattering, moral-comprimising ramifications that might be involved. And there are no easy answers to be found in any point of the film.

I don't look for movies that make me think, that require me to consider whether the choices made by the characters were the right choices or not.

This film, however, does exactly that, and I probably would've swapped it in for Blood Will Run in last year's best picture Oscar race - in spite of some weaker reviews.

May 26, 2008

Baseball thoughts

I know, I'm supposed to be talking tennis, but a couple of baseball items came across m'screen today, and I thought I'd throw down a thought or two.

First up is the general weirdness of the major league baseball season so far - as evidenced by this recent SI cover story (with the cool cover). The first place teams (as of Memorial Day) are the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Florida Marlins, and Arizona DBacks - none of whom was expected to challenge for a division title.

The Yankees are in dead last as are the Mariners and Padres. All three teams were expected to be in the thick of things but wake up today finding themselves 5.5, 11.5, and 11.5 games out respectively.

There's Larry "Chipper" Jones hitting .417 instead of fading into obsucrity as 36-yr-olds are supposed to do. Honestly, though, that can be attributed to small sample size weirdness - as can the ERA of Edinson Volquez, the OPS of Lance Berkman.

Weird stuff happens if you take any month or two portion of the season, but that's all we have so far so it makes everything look that much more important.

Rob Neyer's new book looks to be a great read. ESPN has a couple of exerpts posted. One is about Ty Cobb & Carl Mays and isn't all that thrilling, but the other one about Thurman Munson is great.

The book allows Neyer to research and provide evidence for or against some of the great baseball stories in MLB history. It's - like all of Neyer's books so far - not likely to be read straight through in a sitting. There isn't enough consistent story for that. But in bit and bobs, drips and drabs it could be fascinating.

And it's given folks a chance to tell their own stories, which is always a bonus.

And I close with a look at this week's Pujols awards from the Hardball Times. They reference a Washington Post article regarding the Washington Nationals and their dissatisfaction over their new baseball stadium.

Apparently the fact that the tax payers ponied up about half a billion dollars isn't good enough. The stadium opened up ready to go, but the offices didn't open at the same time.

So the team wants $100,000 per day in damages.

Because they're offices weren't ready.

I'll let the Hardball Times speak on this one...
Unbelievable. The bloated, engorged leeches that make up the major league cartel are “demanding that the city cough up $100,000 a day in damages because, according to the Nationals, the stadium was not completed in time for Opening Night in March.”

Excuse me? You just received over $600 million in free money that could have been devoted to schools, health care, children’s services, libraries, etc. and you’re feeling cheated? Listen up you putrescent aromas of a just-opened exhumed casket—do you have any idea where the city’s funds come from? They’re tax dollars taken from everyday folks who are already doing with less just so you could have more. Now you’re demanding to root through the pockets of those whose income is a fraction of yours? (I was going to write “root through the pockets of those who earn far less than you” until it dawned on me that the taxpayers earn more than team owners who simply expect to be enriched without any effort expended on their part).

These are definitely the god-children of Bud Selig—a bunch of nymphomaniac fiscal succubi if there ever were one. The whole lot of them should be rounded up, stuffed into a time machine set to 1789 Paris where they knew how to deal with people like them. As a parting shot we could say “Let ‘em eat (bleep)!” To give you a hand in understanding what your new hosts are telling you, we’ll send along some baseball fans from Quebec to help you adjust.

For short-sightedness, small thinking, diminutive moral standing, undersized intellectual capacity, stunted mental and emotional development and having stooping so low that they got their nose hairs caught in their own fly and imprinted YKK on the skin between their nostrils. I award Nationals ownership “The Samson.” One of our friendly representatives has been dispatched wearing steel-toed boots to give you your just reward. To confirm its receipt he’ll be imprinting YKK on the steel toe.

May 25, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year

The first balls were hit at Roland Garros this morning, and two weeks from today I'll be exactly where I am right now, but I'll be watching Roger Federer try to complete the career Grand Slam against Rafael Nadal going for his fourth consecutive Roland Garros title.

And then, only a month from that day, I'll be back home watching the finals of Wimbledon - which could just see the same two guys matching up against each other.

This truly is my most favoritest time of the year.

Plus school'll be out by then, too...

The reason for last week's post

The State was pretty clearly influenced by the various Daves and the rest of The Kids in the Hall...

There are the various Daves...

I'm thinking that a couple of the Kids might've had some gender issues...

Somehow I'm thinking they weren't all Americans...

They did know, however, how to make up comedy sketches...

They did have a faint connection the our fair Queen City, though...

And they weren't down with the painted face crew...

With twistedness like this, I'm thinking some of them may've had weird backgrounds...

They certainly were expert sarcasm users...

...and willing to teach kids all sorts of things...

...and they showed great apatheticalnessism...

More next week...

May 24, 2008

Today's issues

Thanks to PopMatters and lots of other sites for help in putting today's playlist together.

I started this list as Protest Songs but quickly realized that was much too restrictive. Instead, you get some songs that each have a specific issue in mind.

That, hoeever, could very quickly become the All Dylan, All the Time channel, so I tried to keep things to one song per artist.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

I hoped to add in "A Tree Never Grown" and "Great Nations of Europe" but couldn't find either on Seeqpod, and god knows I wanted a different version of "Deportee", but such is the world.

May 22, 2008

So, watcha been doin'?

I listen and's what...

I've mentioned - earlier this week - my respect for Bob Seger, and it came up because I'd checked out Bob Seger's Greatest Hits. I've never considered buying a full Seger album, but there are enough Seger songs on classic rock radio that I enjoy, so I gave a run through his best of.

I was surprised to find that a half dozen songs - "Mainstreet", "Old Time Rock & Roll", "Hollywood Nights", "Turn the Page", and "Night Moves" - all made their way into the iTunes roster.

The rest of the collection is decent enough - with the lone exception of a disconcerting cover of "C'est La Vie" which is just different enough from the one on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack to be bothersome - and it's a quality best of - hitting the high points for casual fans like me - from a Hall of Very Gooder.

I had some cash sitting in my PayPal account - thanks to payments from the fantasy baseball leaguers - and blew it on a few things at Barnes & Noble online. The first thing I popped into the DVD player was the straight-to-DVD Justice League: New Frontier, based on the two-volume collection from a half dozen years back.

The movie is a fairly true-to-the-tale adaptation of the mini-series, and that's both blessing and curse. The art style is impressive but largely a carbon-copy of the graphic novel. The storyline begins imaginatively, telling a tale of the silver-age DC heroes getting together for the first time - Martian Manhunter coming to Earth, Hal Jordan finding the power ring, Wally West stepping up from local hero to world savior - in the era of JFK's 'new frontier' speech.

But the story doesn't turn out to be anything more interesting than any of a dozen other justice-league-saves-the-world tales, and much of the nostalgic feel of the print version seemed lost in the translation to big screen in spite of the amazing voice talent assembled for the project.

The mini series began interestingly and finished in the crapper.

The movie started out spectacularly - the opening credits are a triumph of wordless storytelling - but the rest of the film (official website here but beware of automatically playing sound) stunk after that.

Check this review for more spot-on details.

The most enjoyable of the One Year Later storylines - or at least the most enjoyable of the ones that my library carries - continues here as Selina has to deal with the consequences of her choice to return to the heroing life while trying to take care of a baby. Apparently every one of Selina's foes can figure out where the baby lives because they all seem to show up at her apartment and threaten the bonny wee bairn.

The first half of the Catwoman Dies trade deals with the seemingly-final dispensation of replacement Catwoman Holly something-or-other. She's clearly a second-rate hero - or at best rookie, and Selina comes to realize that she has to be the one to step off the rooftop and take the heat if any good is going to be accomplished in the East End of Gotham. In the process, Selina has to look at the danger that she is putting her daughter in.

The second half is a tie-in to Amazons Attack that actually does a nice job of continuing the theme of threatened Catwoman-spawn as Selina goes undercover to fight the Amazons at Batman's request. By the end of the volume, Selina finds herself making a pretty emotional decision and just avoiding a different one.

The majority of the volume is action-packed and well written. The last issue, however, is entirely emotion and soul-searching and even more well-written as Selina calls on Zatana to help her in time of need.

Will Pfeiffer's run on Catwoman is standing up more and more strongly against the rest of the DC Universe, and this is a run to be read.

I'm four volumes into Runaways in Marvel's Tsunami/Marvel Age imprint aimed at teens, and I'm devouring each successive volume with more and more gusto.

Telling the tale of a half dozen teen and pre-teen children who - in the first issue - find out that they're the children of a clandestine super villian cabal, Runaways is a perfect read for the teen crowd (check the librarian recommendations) and is engaging enough that I'm enjoying the heck out of it, too.

The kids spend the first volume figuring out what to do with their powers and just how to become the titular Runaways from their parents. In the process, they find that they're a lot more competent with those new-found powers than they thought they might be.

From there, main writer Brian K Vaughn (yeah, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, and Y - which I've barely begun - I think we may have a new king of the four-color) manages to tell both an excellent teen tale - with the requisite alienation, flirtatious romance, mood swings, and goofy moments - and an excellent rookie super hero tale as the un-officially-named groups figures out whether to go with costumes or not, to fight crime or just call in the authorities, and even make connections with the rest of the Marvel Universe proper - the Avengers and Cloak and Dagger make appearances.

This - along with the aforementioned Superman: Secret Identity - are the best gateway drugs to get folks hooked on the comic world.

Amazing stories, great characters, wonderfully rounded moments...this series feels too small and human to be any sort of comic book classic, but it's worthy of being called one.

Pick it up with all reasonable haste.

I hadn't read any of the unweidlyly-titled Tales of the Multiverse: Batman - Vampire in their original three collections - Red Rain, Crimson Mist, or Bloodstorm, so I went into this one entirely fresh and virginal in the ways of vampire Batman.

And now I just feel dirty.

The book sucks.

The first one sucks a little. The second one ups the ante with art that's less realistic, more cartoon-horrofic, and generally stupider. The third one is the worst of the lot - loads of Batvampire exposition and killing of pretty much everybody that Batmampire sort of dementedly cares for.

And the reading of the three volumes together, instead of making for a richer experience, makes it that much more obvious of how much the second two volumes are just lame repeats of the not-so-good first volume.

Put a stake through the heart of this one and cut off its head, folks, lest it return from the dead.

Bleh to Superman: 3-2-1 Action.

Blech to Jimmy Olsen getting superpowers (amazingly similar to those in the old Silver Age volumes) and to him learning who Superman really is ('cause it won't last and somehow Supes will have to use his Superman Mind Wipe ear wax to clear it up).

Bleh to the lead ins to the Final Crisis and the New Gods returning to the forefront of the DCU.

Bleh to the artwork in this collection - actually, that's too good.

Blech to the artwork.

Yeah to finally owning Orlando, a film that I saw twice a dozen and a half years ago but hadn't been able to track down since then.

The movie holds up, to me, at least, upon rewatching after a lengthy hiatus, however, and that's good news.

The film is a perfect vehicle for Tilda Swinton as she gets to play an androgynous person who - on the cursing of a queen - lives for hundreds of years, switching genders once and seeing the entire world change before him/her in those years.

The soundtrack is one of my favorites of all time, perfectly echoing the action as well as being sung by Jimmy Sommerville in a high falsetto voice that make him, again, echo the theme of androgyny throughout the film.

Excellent, underrated gem...

And then there was Ironman...but this post is long enough as is...

May 21, 2008

Thank you, Mr. Olbermann

No rants here today...Olbermann is turning into a crotchety enough old man that it's too easy to find those out there on the web already...

Today, you get a dose of nostalgic Keith.

Published in 1997, today's reading is called "The Ninth Man" and is going online because I couldn't find the full text to link to anywhere on the web when I was looking for yesterday's post on The Hall of Very Good.

Luckily, I had it saved on my computer...
The ninth man

Baseball is often criticized for having an obsession with its own history. Yet, these days, it seems that history alone separates it from every sport. As the character portrayed by James Earl Jones said in the movie "Field Of Dreams," America has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, erased again,
rebuilt again -- and all the time baseball has been there.

For better or worse, history, in baseball, is a living thing. And in this spring training, history walks the camps looking for one player to claim as his own.

He is out there somewhere, in Arizona, maybe in Florida. His may be a name we already know; it may be one we do not. He is probably 20 or 21 years old, maybe 22. And he will make his big-league debut some time this year, or spend his first full season in the bigs this year -- and he will retire in the year
2016 or 2017. He will be the grand old man of baseball. And they will say, he's so old that the year he broke in, Eddie Murray was still playing!

He is out there somewhere, in Arizona, maybe in Florida. And to him is about to be passed -- the torch. He will some day be the senior player in the game, representing an era at its end. And he will be the ninth man.

Murray, beginning his 21st season, is the eighth man. That's because he is so old that, when he broke in, Brooks Robinson was still playing. That was in 1977; they were teammates.

And at that time, Robinson, the grand old man of the game, had been playing so long that when he broke in, Bob Feller was still playing. Feller is the sixth man. Because, when Brooks Robinson broke in, Feller had been playing so long that when he was a rookie in 1936, Rogers Hornsby was still playing.

The fifth man. Hornsby had been playing so long that when he was a rookie in 1915, Honus Wagner was still playing; Wagner was the fourth man. He had been playing so long that when he was a rookie in 1897, Cap Anson was still playing. Cap, of course, was the third man. And when Wagner broke in, Cap
Anson had been playing so long that when he was a rookie in 1871, Dickey Pearce was still playing.

The second man. When he was a rookie in 1855, Doc Adams was still playing. And Doc Adams was a member of the Knickerbocker club when on June 19, 1846, it played the first recorded game of baseball as we know it.

He was the first man.

And now, someone new.

He is out there somewhere, in Arizona, maybe in Florida. His may be a name we already know. It may be one we do not. Now, he is only at the beginning. But some day, he will be ... the ninth man.
I have no idea where this was first published, but I have it attributed to Keith Olbermann, 1997.

Enjoy it, folks...

PS - If you're being picky, the entire chain can be made in just seven players, too...

May 20, 2008

The hall of very good

In no way am I encouraging the intentional lowering of expectations for any of my students here, but I will say that there's something to be said for knowing what you're going to get.

Take Bob Seger, for example. The man hasn't hit any of his albums out of the park ( says he's got a trio of five-star albums, but I've heard 'em, and they're not classics), but he's never going to throw down any dogs either. Rarely do I ever hear anybody say that Bob Seger is their favorite singer, but if his song's on the radio, you'll probably know some of the words and might even catch yourself singing along.

He's solid. There's no spectacularity there, but he's good for a solid 3.5 - 4.5 stars on every album at this point.

Kinda of like Eddie Murray...the man never was going to put the fear of god into an opposing team. No manager ever said "we can't let Murray beat us", but he could easily be penciled in for between 25 and 35 HR in ten of his first dozen seasons in the majors. Check his stats, and you'll see a guy who lead the league in eleven categories in his career (OBP once, games once, HR once, RBI once, BB once, sac flies once, intentional BB three times, salary once) but who was among the leaders year in and year out.

Bill James came up with a two hall of fame tests for baseball players. The black ink test is based on the backs of old baseball cards when league leaders were shown in bold, black ink. Murray scores an eleven on the black ink test, good for 209th place all time (the average HOF member scores a 27). James also added in the grey ink test a few years later, counting the number of times a player was in the top ten in the same categories. There, Murray moves way up the list to 54th place with 181 grey ink appearances (the average HOFer scores a 144 here).

Never the best player but able to be productive until the age of 40 (and play in the majors through 41), Murray was a rock. Middle of the lineup, not what anybody would call a masher but solid.

Never an MVP, but always in the top ten.

To quote Skip Bayless:
Murray wouldn't be in my Hall of Fame. Remember, it's not the Hall of Very Good. It's the Hall of Fame -- of transcendent greatness, of superstardom, of immortality.
Locally, there's Bacall's down in North College Hill. Before The Girl and I moved out the the burbs, Bacall's was our go-to dinner place. If she didn't feel like cooking, we headed up to Bacall's. If nothing else sounded good, we headed up to Bacall's. If we needed a burger, Bacall's.

We never left Bacall's marveling at the food, never paused in the middle of a bite to marvel at the fineness of the cuisine, never asked to speak to the chef.

But we never had a bad meal, either. Never had to worry that anything would be overcooked or would come out cold. Never had to ask for anything specially made. Never had to send anything back.


When the world ends - and we all know it'll happen in Cincinnati ten years after it does everywhere else - Bacall's will still be serving up three-star food, and you'll be able to get a good burger or a nice chicken sandwich right up until the end.

And there's a hell of a lot to be said for that...

May 19, 2008

The Wonderful World of Chemistry

I love the old World of Chemistry series...showed it when I was in Terre Hatue and Mt Healthy. When I got to Princeton, the series seems to have disappeared.

Enjoy this brief teaser...

Thanks to YesButNoButYes for the trip into the wayback machine.

May 18, 2008

The state of things

A quick preview of "The State" - sketch comedy from MTv's 1990's lineup...

I swear I thought this came from Kids in the Hall, but it didn't...

I'd fit right in on Space Station 11...

The teachers' lounge isn't like this at my school...

Levon & Barry are back...

I don't think I want these prizes...

Ain't nobody gonna be callin' these guys Wiseguys...

I'm thinking that the restaurant's ambiance leaves something to be desired...


I love old fashioned guy...

And we close with a race...

Next week, we hit up Kids in the Hall - clear inspiration for The State...

May 17, 2008

Today's themes

Movie chronological order...'cause I'm bonkers like that...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

I couldn't find "Coming" by Jimmy Sommerville from the Orlando soundtrack, one of my favorite movie songs, but I'm curious, which movie theme that you love did I forget?

May 16, 2008

A pause for seriousness

I'm married.

We had an outdoor wedding in Louisville officiated by a minister from the Unity Chapel there in town, a house of worship that neither The Girl nor I attended and officiated by a woman that we'd met once before the ceremony. The Mother-in-law went to the church, and we needed a member of the cloth to make us all official 'cause the state says so.

And I hate that fact.

I only barely understand why the government has anything to do with saying whether I - or anyone in the US - can promise themselves to another person. Sure, there's some sort of tax break, and there's got to be some kind of check for things like shared insurance, but other than that, there doesn't seem like there should be any governmental oversight of what is, otherwise, a purely and totally religious ceremony.

I want the government out of the marrying business.

I don't want gay people married.

I don't want straight people married.

I don't want mixed-race couples married.

I don't want people marrying dogs.

I'd much rather have everybody go down to the courthouse and fill out a couple of forms, sign a couple of places, and maybe have to make a couple of pledges in front of a clerk - maybe a judge.

I don't want the government saying who is and who isn't religious enough to marry folks.

And hate the distinction - recently struck down in California yesterday - between "married" straight couples and "civilly joined" gay couples, but I don't want to bring gay people into the marriage world.

Instead, I want to take marriage away from any sort of governmental approval.

Make everybody stop by the courthouse to register. Call it a civil union if you want to. Or a joining. Or a partnership. Hell, call it a togetherness ceremony for all I care.

After that, if people want to get "married" in a church, that's they're business.

If they want to be joined under the eyes of whatever god(s) they choose while they stand in the middle of a park, let 'em go ahead and reserve the shelter house.

If they're going to recreate the credits scene in 40-year-old Virgin using llamas and claim that somehow that grants them a tighter bond because they god of the llamas tells them it does, tell 'em to have fun and wish 'em good shearing.

It may seem a little Harrison Bergeron, I know, but at this point I want my government entirely out of the wedding business.

May 15, 2008

My sports thoughts

This video of Kevin Garnett sitting down with Bill Russell and talking about winning a championship brings chills to me. It could be the masterful and subtle music in the background, a sort of Natural/Field of Dreams kind of thing, but it could just be that there is a real friendship there.

Something entirely not shocking seems to be going on with OJ Mayo.

Over the past weekend, ESPN reported that Mayo has been taking cash & gifts from a sports marketing agency since he was playing back in Kentucky, and Pat Forde brought up the idea of lack of institutional control at USC with the allegations of payments to both Mayo and Reggie Bush.

I would much rather see Mayo and Bush - and USC - convicted in a legitimate NCAA investigation rather than on ESPN and in the court of public opinion, but I'd settle for just a thorough NCAA investigation rather than the crap-sham that we got with the Bush investigation.

If colleges, universities, and even high schools are ever to truly be academic institutions, they will have to distance themselves much further from the money that passes back and froth around sports - most notably basketball and football. Until then, we are all enjoying the spoils of a hypocritical term like student-athlete all too often.

PS - check out Tim Keown's take on the whole thing. As much as I love college basketball and long for the days when the best players would give college at least three years and more often four, this one-and-done crap has to stop one way or the other.

I'm thinking that this girl is pretty much going to be writing her ticket to any big-time athletic program in the nation.

The Beastie Boys are way cooler than Michael Beasley - as as proven.

I'm thinking that these new Olympic unis are going to make Canadia look stupid. Which is saying something...

Arlan Specter should find a hundred thousand other things to pass the time.

'Cause I don't care about Spygate.

May 14, 2008

Oh, and these, too...

It's weird...I own like 600 cd's, but I probably haven't listened to even forty of them over the past few years. Since iTunes came into heavy usage, the plastic discs have sort of been shuffled to the side of the road.

I haven't grabbed them all onto my hard drive yet (space issues, doncha know), but I don't want to get rid of them, either. So, what's a guy to do?

A couple of weeks ago, a guy I teach with asked if he could borrow some of my music to burn onto his home computer because he was bored with what was on his iPod, and he likes a lot of the music that's playing from my room in the morning.

Sure, man, but I don't have a list of all the cd's that I have at home anymore. I used to keep an excel spreadsheet that I would update every summer or so, but that's not happened in probably four years.

So here's my alphabetical order by artist, of course. And - at The Girl's insistance when we first comingled our cds - in chronological order within artist.

We're too late

So we missed our chance.

The Girl and I have been making little steps here and there to be a little more green, and apparently a while back she mentioned something called a CSA - community supported agriculture. Of course I don't remember her telling me about it, but she swears she did, and I'll readily admit that I'm not always the best at paying attention.

So when I stumbled across the list of local farms that have CSAs of their own - including Gravel Knolls Farm which I pass every time I'm coming home from the library.

The gig's pretty simple enough, for $500 you get one of 100 shares of the produce that the all summer long. You get a great assortment of fresh produce, all of which is in season and was grown within about ten miles of home. It's a great deal and a huge step in the right direction for us. Plus they also raise chickens which means fresh, local poultry and eggs - no beef yet, but they've promised to hook us up with a few local beef and pork producers.

Sadly, however, the CSA applications opened back in January, and they're totally sold out at this point.

I'm thinking that perhaps I should actually listen to things that The Girl says.

Heck, I'll try pretty much anything once...

May 13, 2008

Because I know you've been wondering

Ok, it took a while to get everything figured out, but thanks to Google answers, I found how to export my entire iTunes library (minus "Handelbars" by the Flobots, 'cause I just bought it a few minutes ago) into an excel file which I then uploaded to Google Docs for everybody to see.

I tell ya, the cloud is the computer.

So, take a look at my music and tell me where my inexcusable gaps are.

May 12, 2008

Taking the measure of things

A recent XKCD - the one about crossing a spoon and a fork and then recrossing the mutant spork offspring back with another fork to get a 3/4 fork-1/4 spoon hybrid - sent me to evo-cut cutlery with every possible spoon/fork/knife cross mutination.

But that's not the cool thing over at Harry White Design that I want to point out.

Instead, it's the cool beaker-style measuring jugs that he offers.

There's the Billions Jug...

...the awesomely designed Domestic Science jug...

...and the Arbitrary Jug...

Of course, they probably aren't worth a crap for actual measurement or usefulness, but that's clearly not the point with pieces like these that are the sporks of the science/art world.

May 11, 2008

I'm all right...nobody worry 'bout me...

Good times, folks...

In case you need a refresher...

And in case you don't have much time...

A heck of an offer...

How not to hit the ball...

It's really a Cinderella story...

The origin of my fantasy baseball team last year...

Simple philosophy...

How to get a car moved...

Tiger gets in on the act...

One of the few funny moments from the sequel...

May 10, 2008

Four or so weeks too early...

Just in case you weren't yet in the mood...

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Bobs...and a few bits thrown in

These moderately interesting items have taken a risk and popped their heads above the waterline.

Feel free to slice those guilty little heads right off as punishment.

May 9, 2008


And there we go, folks...

Looks like Red Bull - semi-known for their weirdo competitions - will be coming to Cincy (as one of three cities) for the Red Bull Soap Box Derby October 4 this year...

Get your tickets soon, to make sure they don't sell out.

Luckily, I have time to descide.

May 7, 2008

Because it's perfect

The title is Jealousy...

The rollover joke was "Oh, huh, so you didn't know that story?"

The level of emotion using only stick figures is amazingly high.

There is none higher

We're a couple of months since this year's Pasta for Pennies campaign wrapped up. We've been organizing reward parties (sundaes for one class, pizza for three classes, pasta for four, donuts for 250 students and staff - you know how it is) and writing thank you notes since then, but this week we got some HUGE news.

I'm kinda proud of the campaign, so I'm going to brag for a paragraph or so. Feel free to skip to the huge news in the paragraph after the braggadocio.

We've finished among the top three fundraising schools in the nation for this campaign for - including this year - eight years now. In that time period, we've raised over two-hundred sixty-five thousand dollars from student bake sales, storefront collections, raffles, concerts, 5Ks, head shavings, cornhole tourneys, poker parties, matching grants, and all sorts of other stupid, juvenile stunts.

And this year...for the 2008 Pasta for Pennies campaign...we raised...

drum-roll please...


That's a new record for our school (only the second time we've crossed the $40K line) and totally destroyed our goal of $42,008 this year (for two thousand eight, get it?).

And even more excitedly, we finished as the...

#1 school in the nation

...this year.

Go ahead and read those last few lines again. Let them sink in. Let them percolate around in your brain and stick there for a while.

I'll wait...

Our students are awesome.

Their awesome is more awesome than your awesome.

Their awesome got together with their great and had a baby named amazing.

Their awesome smells like French toast.

French toast?

Their rockingness apologizes for making your awesome look pedestrian.

Honestly, big, major pride here - most of it because our students and staff work so hard, and we've finished in second place a whole lot of times, and it's really, really nice to finish first.

Admittedly, I wish we hadn't buried the competition (apparently winning by $10,000 over second place this year) because that means the LLS didn't get as much money this year as they could have, but I'll settle.

In the coolness of the announcements, Karen Taylor (rockin' Southern Ohio School & Youth coordinator) surprised me - and Calen, my campaign co-chair - with a bouquet of helium-filled balloons in the middle of my third-bell class. There was severe stunnage.

I gave the balloons out to my students because they did much of the work, raising more than $313 per person. I ended up with two unclaimed balloons, however, and tied them onto my belt, advertising our accomplishment to everyone I wandered past in the halls and being followed by my red balloon (and its mylar friend).

I felt like the kid in The Red Balloon...

May 6, 2008

Two wheelers gettin' together

I was searching around on the White River Park website to see if tickets for the August Wilco show were available yet - no luck, by the way - and stumbled upon info about SegwayFesT 2008.

Wonder if they'd let me borrow a segway for the day...or weekend...

May 5, 2008

To put the new you in US

Dad was/is a history and government teacher, and I remember taking AP Government when I was in high school (got a 4 on the test, thanks for asking), and I'm thinking there are still questions on the US Naturalization test (soon to be changed to this) that I would miss - or at least that I'd have to make a less-than-blind guess on.

In honor of a soon-to-be-tested in our midsts, let's each see how we do, eh...

On this multiple-choice quiz mixing new and old questions, I managed a 10 out of 11 (wrong # of ammendments to the constitution, dangit.)

On the apparently real questions found here, I managed 91 out of 100 - actually worse than I had hoped for. I missed
  • #22 - I missed it on the multiple choice, so I assumed I would've missed it here, too.
  • #31 - it's pittiful, but I can't name my Senators.
  • #33 - I thought we were in the 300's but was apparently wrong.
  • #44 - I got stumped trying to remember Rhode Island, pathetic little Rhode Island which is actually smaller as an entire state than is my backyard. Who knew?
  • #50 - No clue who's in charge of West Chester. I'm guessing it's our council, but I won't swear to it.
  • #72 - Okay, I'm hoping I would know this if I'd studied, but I have no clue what the form # is to apply for citizenship.
  • #78 - I said republic, which we technically are, and I'd argue that we're a representative democracy, but I can accept democracy.
  • #86 - I didn't answer one of the ones listed and in fact came up with freedom as my answer.
  • #87 - I said freedom of speech, and that one seems pretty arbitrary. I might consider habaes corpus - which #14 apparently hates.
I'm thinking I should pick up the official study guide.

TL, how'd you do?

PS - This is my first attempt at pre-posting. I'm writing this on April 2nd at about 9pm and am about to hit publish, which will supposedly hold the thing from appearing on my blog until May 5th at 7:23am - when I want to have it posted. Here goes nothing.

May 4, 2008

I don't even have cable

From the Discovery Channel...

"I Love the World"

Testing C4

time lapse photograhpy

Super slo-mo punch & water balloon & breaking glass

A documentary on parkour

Some contact juggling

'cause it's fun...more time warping (and still more)

Lego Mindstorms

Making glass bottles

A glass artist - from the 80's

How laminated glass is made

There's this week's collection...and I didn't even get to post anything by the Bloodhound Gang...sadly...

May 3, 2008

Open your mind, Joshua

The Morning News had an interesting article proving - with scientific data, no less - that the perfect pop song has a length of exactly two minutes and forty-two seconds, no more, no less.

I think Mr. Joshua Allen is being a little restrictive - and slightly - even though he presents a full mixtape to defend his research, so today I present to you a playlist of songs from my iTunes library that are between 2:40 and 2:44 in length.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

May 2, 2008

It's about *@&$ing time!

I hate these things.

Hate them...

But should they be banned?

Is it illegal to be crude?

Is it illegal to walk down the street wearing - very publicly and obviously - a t-shirt emblazoned with the F-word?

Is it illegal to loudly and clearly scream the same word in the middle of a crowded sidewalk - not endangering anyone (we know that yelling fire in a crowded theater is illegal)?

Should speach that I consider crude and crass - though I'll readily admit that I use pretty salty language in the, what I think, are appropriate situations - be illegal?

I certainly don't know the answers to any of these, and I'm not sure that any of them should be made illegal even though I absolutely abhor the Truck Nutz and want them totally banned. In this, I feel kind of like I did about the smoking ban in that my desire - success of the ban in each case - doesn't necessarily jive with my belief in and desire for the freedoms that our government should allow us.

Ideally, the population of the US would simply recognize the horrific bad taste of Truck Nutz and stop buying them so the business would die in and of itself without any governmental influence.

And I'm guessing that's about as likely as me running the marathon this Sunday, though I wish my neighboring teacher good luck in doing so.

May 1, 2008

When does fair become unfair?

There aren't many sports - any that I can come up with off the top of my head, honestly - that haven't been affected by advances in technology.

In baseball, we get double laquered bats and reconstructive surgery.

In football, the helmets are radically safer and the sidelines way more heated.

In tennis, the raquets certainly aren't made of wood any more, and the hardcourts are a lot less hard.

In mixed martial arts, fishhooking has become a whole lot more effective since the addition of the barbed, prosthetic index fingers.

Now the bastardization has come to swimming.

Instead of just sharper razors taking care of that pesky and drag-inducing leg hair, we're now looking at freaky, freaky swimsuits that supposedly makes swimmers go two percent faster.

Unsurprisingly, the swimsuit - which is proprietary of Speedo, meaning only certain swimmers have access to it - is creating a fair bit of controversy, especially when - as was reported on April 10th,
...the Dutch Women's 4 x 200m relay team OBLITERATE a world record that had stood for six years by EIGHT SECONDS, I found it difficult to believe that coaches still feel [this is normal for an Olympic year]. That's right - EIGHT SECONDS. In fact, had it not been for a "relatively slow" final leg by the young Dutch swimmer, the record would have been destroyed by more than ten seconds.
Some other companies are telling their endorsed swimmers that they can go ahead and swim in the Speedo suit - because to choose not to risks everything the swimmers have been working toward for their entire lives in this Olympic year, and others have flatly told their endorsed athletes that wearing the Speedo suit will be a breach of contract resulting in termination of endorsement.

So it comes down to getting paid to swim or actually winning a gold medal, and I'm not sure I'm thrilled with that being an option in sports. Sure, I understand each company's desire for innovation, but at what point does the entire sport's competition become about that innovation rather than about the athletes themselves?

Do Nike shoes provide Renaldo with any significant advantage?

Does Gatorade make that much of a difference for Steve Nash?

Does the Gilette shave make Roger Federer that much cooler?

In each of those cases, probably no. But if they did - as the Speedo suits appear to - would & should those innovations be allowed?

I also used these articles for the graphics and some more background on this post: