Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back with a New Batch

Disappearing for 6 months is a pretty sure-fire way to destroy any endeavor's momentum, but it's probably even more costly on a blog. Well, feel free to cast your derision in this direction, in the comments even, because not only do I certainly deserve it, but it will also let me know that you've stumbled back in here. Win win, I think. Okay, enough prattle. If this is happening, it's happening, and there's no need to get mushy about it. Video games, revisionist fiction, and chatter about this blog's sister site, all being served fresh in the coming week or two. See you then.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Raw Deal

So, after tossing out the offhand promise that I would be updating regularly through the holidays, my computer did the unthinkable, and suddenly stopped thinking. Thankfully, this magic box of mine was under warranty, and I got my hard drive replaced. Fancy, right? What a lucky bloke I am after all, right? This is what you're probably saying, if you hate beautiful memories and the people that have them. I didn't back up anything on that hard drive: no music, no pictures, no stories, and now they're all gone. Mostly. The internet is a wonderful thing, and a lot of things ended up in a gmail archive, but still. You probably think I should've backed up those files, and of course you're right, but we (hard drive, me) were young and foolish then, and we felt like we would live forever. We spent a week or so cursing the vanity of youth and being repaired, and now we're back in the saddle. We are older now, and wiser, and we try to take care of each other. Every day, I stuff a salad (low-cal dressing, of course) into the disk drive, and I've downloaded a program which reminds me to take my fish-oil pills.

It's a terrible thing to forget the past, yes? A clunky and poorly delivered sentiment, I know, but it's just a clumsy segue, so bridle your fury. The title of this post refers not to me and my computer buffoonery, but to a significant injustice in the world of baseball. The Veterans Committee again voted down Ron Santo's Hall of Fame bid,which has become a familiar story to Cubs nation. You can say whatever you want about his...unusual broadcasting style, but his credentials as a player are tough to beat. But because I'm a huge fan of Ron as both a player and a person, I'll leave the job of making his hall of fame case to some experts: Joe Sheehan, of baseball prospectus, and Rob Neyer, writing for ESPN. What I like about both of these arguments is that they focus almost exclusively on his playing career, which is where I think this discussion belongs. On the other hand, the guy battled Type 1 diabetes in secret through most of his career, and has been an exceptional baseball ambassador and philanthropist since his retirement. I think Ron got screwed again today, and I just hope that the obviously broken Veterans Committee is under warranty, and that someone sends them off to get fixed up soon. I know it's just a plaque in a building, and baseball nerds and Chicagoans will likely remember Ron Santo just the same, but he deserves this recognition while he's still alive to enjoy it, and I hope he gets another chance at that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful that I'm from the Future

Amidst the wild flailing of the holiday season, we will somehow find time to post regularly. For now, though, gorge yourselves on this: a short installment of this our internet, with an eye towards giving thanks. I get a lot of my daily kicks from the internet, from some very talented artists and entertainers, and nearly all of it for free, and that is absurd. In lieu of dollars (which are expensive), I'm offering these tiny pieces of genius a "shout-out", one apiece, which I gather are redeemable at the local market for various sundries.
I've chosen only things that are new to me from this year, and I tried the vary the range of categories. Go ahead, pinch yourself.

Do you like your comedic british soap operas in graphic format? Do you find the occult funny? Scarygoround is for you, and boy howdy is there a lot of it. Start here, maybe. It won't make any more sense at first, but it is a funny strip.

Basketball fans: do you wish talk radio were less terrible, and had no commercials, and that sports radio personalities watched as much basketball as you did? Bam. If you hate the new video format (like I do), they still put the audio version up on itunes.

Do you like cats, and maybe annoying them a little? Awww. Frankly, the alternative is ridiculous. If this is a meme that makes no sense to you, maybe salon can straighten it out for you.

Lastly, awkwardly: you're always welcome to enjoy the things that I have found. Mitchell.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November Cubs Chatter

In an effort to digest the majority of the Chicago Baseball Cubs news from November, we're breaking out the bullet points. If you have no particular interest in the Cubs, or baseball in general, you can just shuffle on. Meet me back here later? Ok, cool.

  • Lou Piniella is your NL Manager of the Year. Hooray? I love that every story about this is absolutely obligated to include this line near the top: "Voting was done before the playoffs."
  • Jim Hendry tells Kerry Wood to just walk away. Good move, I think, but is anybody else a little heartbroken?
  • Ryan Dempster gets a fancy new contract. Clowns everywhere approve.
  • Cubs acquire Kevin Gregg for Jose Ceda and others. This guy doesn't like it. I haven't seen Ceda throw, but I have seen Gregg, and this is certainly true: Kevin Gregg, even healthy and pitching well, is no Kerry Wood.
  • The Cubs might not get all sold, they definitely won't be sold to Mark Cuban, and they need all bids in by December 1st. Breaking news: business talk is boring.
  • Aramis Ramirez wins the NL Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the best offensive player in the league. Shockingly stupid, given that he wasn't even the best hitter named Ramirez in the NL. Wait, what's that? Voted on by the fans, you say? Oh: still stupid.
  • Geovany Soto wins the NL Rookie of the Year Award. That was easy to predict, if you saw him play late in '07, but I was a little off in my numbers projections, since I had Soto hitting about .370, with 30 Home Runs and 140 RBI's. Yeah, I was crushin'.
Expect updates throughout hot-stove season, and expect them to be euphoric if the Cubs can get their hands on a leadoff man.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obscenely Stupid Hypothetical

I was in the car with Mike (brother, roommate, fellow procrastinator) this week, and the conversation turns, as it so often doesn't, to eggs. In our defense, we were coming straight from the grocery, and the eggs were in the backseat, sliding, bouncing, frolicking--doing all sorts of things eggs shouldn't be encouraged to do. Mike railed, as he does whenever the subject is broached, against the merits of eggs on the whole, and in doing so, he tossed out this (very true) fact that I had entirely forgotten about: in the town that Mike and I grew up in (Wauconda, Illinois), it is illegal to have eggs inside the car with you. I have no idea if this sounds far-fetched to you, but it would to me. I will try to explain why, which will require a bit of background.

Eggs were not always the reprehensible and dangerous products they are now considered in the 60084; like you, the people of Wauconda frequently enjoyed the taste of egg salad, for instance, or of a plate of huevos rancheros. Pickled, deviled, or simply boiled hard, the egg was revered and beloved, as it is all over this land. Like the Force of Star Wars lore before it, though, it soon became obvious that the egg could just as readily be turned; turned for the purpose of evil.

The tradition of Homecoming (if this is an unfamiliar term to you, I suggest you study up here) runs rampant in the fall months of the the northwest suburbs, and Wauconda is no exception. Aside from the games, parades, and dances, ol' W'onda, like many other small towns, injects its own local traditions. One of particular importance (for our purposes is) known, by its participants, as Junior/Senior Wars. During school hours, the local high school encouraged good-natured competitiveness, where a particular school day might have a specific theme, like dressing up like idiots day, or pie-eating contest day. These school-sponsored events were generally engaged in with the same spirit in which they were proposed, and simple (if stupid) fun was had by most. At night, however, things begin to take a devious turn: Juniors and Seniors wage war between them, near-literal war, and the primary weapon, when I was of this age, was the humble egg.

Just in case you've never been hit with a thrown egg, I will describe it to you: it sucks. You probably could have guessed at that, so I'll describe it further: an egg is like a golf ball that is filled with snot, and being hit with this object is terrible. While I was a Junior, and, predictably, a senior, I was hit with maybe a dozen eggs, personally, although my car was hit by easily three times that number. Why, you ask, would people have thrown eggs at me, the author of this blog, and all-around good chap? The answer is this: I was probably holding an egg, and trying to hit them; maybe from the bed of a moving pick-up truck, or perhaps while chasing or being chased across a baseball field behind Pizza Sam's. These were ridiculous times, and I don't recommend them to the faint-hearted, or people that hate snot and snot-like substances.

"Egad," you are thinking, probably. "Why would you tell us this stupid story, which also makes you look like a complete jackass?" If you are thinking this, then the hypothetical exercise I am about to propose will probably not make you feel better. So, back to the top: Mike and I are riding in the car, and talking about how it eventually became illegal to have egg cartons in the car with you in Wauconda (they needed to be stashed away in the trunk), and one of us proposed this scenario: what if you could reduce the rate of homicide in Chicago to zero incidences, in exchange for an increased rate of public eggings? We both agreed that no person with a heart could refuse this swap. But how high a rate of public eggings would you accept in exchange? How about 25 times as often as the old homicide rate? 100 times? Let's put it in simpler terms: On a 10 minute walk to, say, the el, how many times would you allow yourself (and everyone else, of course) to be egged, on average? Even once? How about five times? Mike and I agreed on this: most people, we thought, nearly everyone, would still make this trade, and it would just be common practice to wear a raincoat everywhere, even in the summer, or else people would just get used to the sudden stinging pain and wetness of being egged regularly. People are generally good, we thought,and very adaptable. Mike and I agreed that we would both still do it, no matter the cost (if you define cost as a quantity of blows to the body with eggs), but that we may have lost more than a few people on the idea by now, people who are both very honest and have excellent imaginations. And then, finally, Mike proposed this: would I still do it, still make the trade, if they could get the house? While I was sleeping? I think this is where I broke, but what about you? Don't worry, I'll try to make a poll.

For those of you who found this offensively stupid, just hang tight, because we'll do something better later in the week, and I hope you'll still be reading.

Obama's Phenomenal Swag

Swag, in terms of basketball culture, is an ill-defined term, but it's probably simplest to equate it with confidence: crazy, bet-a-million-dollars-style confidence. I first heard the term here, when this happened. To put the theatrics in context, I found this number: at the end of January that season, Arenas was 11 for 11 on shots that ended quarters or games, with a handful of game winners tossed in, and that is ridiculous. Arenas who plays in Washington, and has had more than his share of nicknames, has recently relinquished the title "The Black President", since president elect Obama now seems to have a stronger claim to it. To show his support, Arenas recently got this tattoo. I bring up the concept of swag at this particular time because this morning I read this article (via Truehoop). I'm pulling a section here, because I thought it was particularly interesting.
Obama, who is not without an ego, regarded himself as just as gifted as his top strategists in the art and practice of politics. Patrick Gaspard, the campaign’s political director, said that when, in early 2007, he interviewed for a job with Obama and Plouffe, Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”
Obama's swag during this election process was, by all accounts I've heard, pretty phenomenal. Confident and crazy, but successful, and I think a lot of people recognize that you need that level of confidence to achieve that level of success. That is phenomenal swag, make no mistake. The rest of that article is a good read, especially if you are not depressed by hearing about the dirty and gritty machinery that get people elected. If you are like me, and it does depress you, then I recommend a healthy dose of Knut.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nothing Can Stop Them

After watching the unbeaten (!) Statlanta Hawks put the icky thump on my Bulls last night, I decided a salute was in order. After all, I've been pretty wrong about this team so far, and though the season is long, this Atlanta team has certainly earned some delicious kudos. Besides, Atlanta goes into Boston tonight, and I predict a ferocious Celtics defense prevails.

Without further ado, I give you T. Grose and The Varsity.