29 October 2004

<i>The Pacific</i>


I picked up a copy of Mark Helprin's new collection of short stories, The Pacific, at my favorite independent bookseller today. Despite my attempt to seriously curtail my book purchasing rate, Helprin gets the automatic free pass to a hardcover edition.

While flipping through the first pages I realized that Winter's Tale is the only one of his books (either novels or short story collections) which I've not finished. I guess it's probably time to give that 'un another try.

GreenspeakI'm totally bummed that I missed seeing this greenspeak in person, but totally psyched that it formed today's sweet MIT variation. As for last night, well, you can read some good details in other places. Me? I'm just glad I'll be getting something approximating a full night's sleep tonight.

The last two weeks have left me feeling like I need to sit down and really write the treatise on the Red Sox and baseball I've had percolating in the back of my mind. So far, though, I've been too exhausted or distracted to do much other than read other people's coverage. Maybe this weekend? We'll see, I guess. In the meantime, a few random thoughts:

  • Toasted ravioli?! Is this really a St. Louisian delicacy? Ok, I can see how it might be fun to do the silly "food bet" on the World Series and all, but St. Louis totally sucks! Was Menino getting heavy odds on this? Seems like he's offering a whole spread (with two distinct lobster bakes) for some raviolis and "Anheuser Busch products" (translation: a six pack of Bud).

  • I take it for granted there will be some kind of "commemorative DVD" for all this, but what I'd really like is to actually get a DVD set with all 14 full-length post season games.

  • I have been beyond unproductive at work these past two weeks. Even when I'm not reading articles about baseball I'm thinking about baseball. Between that and my cold I've accomplished nothing.

  • Can you imagine what kind of money they could've made if they decided to film "Still We Believe" this year?

27 October 2004

More Q-Syyders

I found even more Schilling hatred on the interrowang today:

A hose beast by the name of Laura Vecsey had this to say in a recent piece in the Baltimore Sun (reg. req'd):

Even factoring in the sour grapes, word out of New York is that some Yankees players wouldn't put it past Schilling to dab his sock with red magic marker, or apply generous amounts of Mercurochrome - anything to amplify the Red Sox's amazing postseason run and, of course, to hoist his stature.

Schill responded in his conversation with the Boston Dirt Dogs, which also brought up the worst offender: another anti-Schill article published recently in Newsday. The opening paragraphs:

As inspirational and impressive as he is on days he pitches, that's how annoying and insufferable Curt Schilling is on all other days.

Yesterday was particularly bad because Schilling had a microphone in front of him instead of a batter and was called upon to talk about his three favorite subjects: Me, myself and I.

And then later the following, which shows nothing except the author's inability to construct a sensible English sentence (and trust me, there's no hidden context that makes this any more understandable):

Yet it's hard to fathom a player who's more self-centered, self-aggrandizing and in-your-face than the con man they call "Shill."

The Media Sux

Today's media boobs:

  1. Tim Keown is clearly a huge jackass. He listens to Schilling's post game conference after his World Series start (which I stayed up until 1:30 AM to hear replayed—and was definitely worth it) and thinks Schilling is crassly trying to sell his legend.

  2. Tom Candiotti actually gave St. Louis an edge in pitching when he considered the matchup before the Series started. Why does everyone seem to want the Sox to lose?

  3. I forget who wrote it, but I actually read an article yesterday with the operating thesis that the Cardinals would take advantage of their favorable pitching matchup of Suppan vs Martinez. We all know Pedro isn't the same pitcher he was 5 years ago, but saying that he compares unfavorably against a guy who's played for 4 teams in 4 years and didn't even make the roster when Boston made it to the playoffs last year is absurd.

You know who doesn't suck? The Sports Guy.

Cruise Control

Postseason baseball is a slow-moving game. The pitcher stands in for what seems like hours and the batter calls time-out at the last possible moment in order to give himself another chance to pace around the umpire, spit on his hands, adjust his crotch and step back into the box, where the whole cycle begins again. Despite all this down time between pitches (especially in critical moments) I've been on the edge of my seat for every single one since the Sox began their miracle comeback last week.

That's why my definining moment for the World Series is when Scott Rolen was batting last night against Keith Foulke in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs and a 1-2 count. Somebody made a joke and I was laughing and looking away from the TV. By the time I looked back Brian Gorman was ringing Rolen up on a called third strike. For a split second I thought, "Wait a sec, was that the third out?" Then I jumped up and clapped and hollered for the Sox who are now one win away from a World Series title.

See, the Series so far has been so easy compared to the ALCS that I actually let my guard down. People in the national media were talking last week about how the World Series can't possibly be a let down despite the excitement of the ALCS. But it's just not true. Winning the Series will be more exciting, but actually watching the baseball games feels like a midseason series in colder weather. The Cardinals never led in the first 3 games and none of them would even have been close had it not been for all of Boston's fielding errors in games 1 and 2.

Here's to the finale of what will almost certainly be the greatest year in my life as a sports fan.

25 October 2004

Section 43, Row 41, Seat 10.

GosoxI watched three playoff games from that seat this year (I love you LB), culminating in last night's victory over the Cardinals. Heading into the park was weird: between the rain and the overwhelming police presence it was pretty quiet in the Fenway neighborhood. Lansdowne Street was a little rowdier with hundreds of fans standing in line at the day-of ticket window in the desperate hope they'd be able to get inside. Dad and I went straight to Gate C, however, since we already had our tickets.

We just made it to our seats in time to see the pre-game musical act, The Standells performing (what else?) Dirty Water. While it seemed a bit weird to play the song before the game, it was still pretty awesome, especially since we've adopted our own tradition of blaring it in our game-watching abode of choice. After they finished, the PA announcer built up the suspense around the artist who'd be performing the national anthem (when someone in the crowd yelled "It better not be the Cowsills!"). As it turned out, James Taylor was on hand to sing the loveliest rendition of The Star Spangled Banner I've ever heard. Instead of going the traditional "oom pah pah" route with the song, he just tickled his acoustic guitar and made it into a quiet contemplation of what America ought to be.

The game itself was cold. My ability to cheer on the Sox was hampered both by my ski gloves and my sore throat/head cold. The men's room beneath the bleachers looked more like a ski lodge than a baseball park, with everybody having to take off his mittens to pee. Mark Bellhorn has changed in less than a week from ultimate scapegoat (he was booed even more mercilessly than the Cowsills back in game 3 of the ALCS) to Mr. October (2 game winning homers in the course of 3 games and a huge 2 run double last night). Schilling has become a Bird-Orr level hero to the local crowd, with the fans going absolutely nuts when he trotted from the bullpen to the dugout.

By the end, I was a bit dazed, but happy.

Winter Cleaning

Needed to clean up the old bløgrøll. Removed a couple of apparently dead blogs (like getting rid of clothes you've haven't worn in more than a year) and added two of my new daily reads, including my first ever complete stranger blog-o-quaintance, Singapore Sox Fan, who totally rox.

24 October 2004

Songlist Update

En route to Game 2 with my Pop. I used the magick of iTunes Music Store to make some key additions:

  • An unfuxed version of Long Time

  • Right Now

  • My Town by Montgomery Gentry. See if you can guess the genre.

  • Tessie

More Later.

Sox Rox


I just put together a Sox playlist in preparation for tonight's game. So far (what I could scrounge without access to any particularly huge libraries):

  1. It's Been Such a Long Time, Boston. I needed one track from Boston and although I strongly considered More Than a Feeling, I thought this sentiment was more apropos. Furthermore, it kicks ass as a leadoff song on the playlist because it features like 5 minutes of instrumental intro before the lyrics actually start, leaving listeners frenetic with anticipation (much like Sox fans waiting for the World Series to get underway).

  2. Welcome to the Jungle, Guns N Roses. Curt sometimes uses this as his introduction music. And by Curt I mean "Blood 'n Guts" Schilling, not "Instant Panic" Leskanic.

  3. Don't Stop Believing, Journey. I wasn't able to Keep the Faith throughout the whole ALCS: I wanted to push Bellhorn in front of a train, I thought Dale Sveum would actually manage to blow the whole season, and I had a serious post-traumatic-stress episode when Francogrady put Pedro in during game 7. Hopefully this will get my attitude back in line.

  4. Yeah! Usher. This is evidently Dave Roberts's at-bat song. I wouldn't know since he's had like 3 actual at-bats since we acquired him from LA. Then again, he was totally Claude when he was on the basepaths during games 4 & 5 of the ALCS, so I'll throw it in. Plus it will annoy LB.

  5. Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond. This song actually annoys the hell out of me, but it reminds me of Fenway, so it's a gimme.

  6. Dream On, Aerosmith. Again I need to give a shoutout to the hometown crews. Plus it's another "on-message" song.

  7. Black Betty, RamJam. This is the song that actually inspired me to put this list together. It's Timlin's burst-from-the-pen in a one run game with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the 8th music. I just really love it when this song starts thumpin and Timmy charges full speed from right field with his jacket in hand. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

  8. Man on the Silver Mountain, Rainbow. This is just a good track to represent the ASL which kept it real for two solid years of baseball appreciation. Plus Coors Light reminds me of baseball/sports in general.

  9. Kryptonite, 3 Doors Down. This is VariTeX's long time batting song, and since he generally rox my sox, I'll toss this in for him.

  10. I Won't Back Down, Tom Petty. Another rally-type song. Plus he's from Florida which means he must've been rooting against NY in last year's World Series. Or something.

  11. Dirty Water, The Standells. 'Nuff said.

Notably absent are: any halfway decent salsa to represent all the brothers from the DomRep in the house, a not-shitty recording of Jump Around for Big Papi, Tessie (I need to burninate LB's Dropkick Murphy's CD and then promptly delete all the other tracks) and some shittooth country for Millar and Nixon.

19 October 2004

Try Again

I didn't get to work on time today. And I haven't accomplished much in the time I have been here. Instead I've read every word I can find on the interwang about the Sox. I actually just all the baseball coverage in the Washington Post Sports Section. I don't even like the Post, I'm just addicted to Red Sox coverage.

And as for my previous failing to describe what these two games have been like, screw it: I'm giving it another shot.

I've nearly totally lost my voice after the last two nights. You see, being at Fenway for that game 3 thrashing left me bewildered. The whole season had been building to that moment. I went into the ALCS believing the Sox to be a strong favorite. The idea that they were on the verge of a sweep (after a downright embarrassing night) was practically unthinkable. Game 4 wasn't about going to the World Series, it was about catharsis for 60 million depressed Red Sox fans. We'd had nothing to scream about for the first 3 games and suddenly we were treated to one of the greatest baseball games every played.

Game 5 was different. I paced nervously, I cheered and clapped and gave my friends high-fives. But it wasn't with the same fury that had me worked into such a lather that I was frightening total strangers during Sunday's game. At one point I was so fried that I agreed to go to the liquor store with Josh during the 13th freaking inning. We had Chandler and other putzen broadcasting the game live over Josh's cell phone and got back just in time to see Wake strike out "Turkey" Ruben Sierra. And when Big David (my write-in Presidential vote for him is now official) Ortiz plunked that single into center I just pumped my fist quietly and went to get the André from the beer fridge.

Keep the Faith


Bob Ryan's Globe column today is titled "Where to start?" and I must say it is awfully hard to sit down and try to encapsulate what happened last night in a couple of paragraphs. People often make the semi-joking comment about how baseball is a religion for Red Sox fans, but I don't quite think that gets it right. There's faith and superstition of course, but it's a bit more concrete than that. As it was succinctly put last night, "We don't need lucky charms, we need the Red Sox to score two more goddamned runs!"

After actually going to the park for Saturday's pasting of the Red Sox, I was in a pretty low mood. I snoozed through the Patriots winning their record-extending 20th straight game while the announcers snickered about how many football teams that day had failed to score as many points as the Yankees had the previous night in the Fens. Somewhere before the 8PM starting time of Sunday's game I had at least reached the point where I wasn't fretting about the game. Things become simpler when your team is down 3-0 in a best of seven series. You just have to think about that day's game and forget everything else. No need to worry about tomorrow's pitching matchup when there's no tomorrow.

I'm exhausted today, along with just about every other resident of the Northeast. I can't really find the words to describe what the last two days have been like (thanks to Am for hosting two kickass parties) but let me just say that reading coverage of the game brought me to tears no fewer than three times.

Go Sox.

13 October 2004

My Pal Bill Simmons

I've been checking the Sports Guy's webpage incessantly all day in the hope that he'll have something soothing to say about last night's game. I finally read today's column (which was inexplicably not posted to his site, but only the main Page2 site as of this writing) and it was almost as cathartic as I wanted it to be.

See, there are legions of crazed New Englanders who think of Bill Simmons as one of their buddies. As my brother put it, "How the fuck did this guy get a column on ESPN.com by being a run-of-the-mill Red Sox lunatic?" Well, he's a halfway decent writer (although he's constantly overusing the same old gimmicks) and he's certainly got a feel for what it's like to be a Sox fan.

And today of all days when I've been fiending for a Sox-Yankees rematch since I woke up at 7:00, I needed someone to commiserate with. I wanted it so bad that I was practically shooting Coke out my nose laughing at his really dumb jokes. I mean, making fun of a Cialis ad? That's bush league stuff. Anyway, 8PM can't come soon enough.

Ulcer, Part I

I was ready to go home. It was 8-0 Yankees in the sixth inning and I was ready to go home and get some sleep, since this game wasn't going anywhere. If Laurie hadn't been there I would've just called it a night around the same time Scott did. He left during the commercial break following the 6th, despite Erin nudging him to stick around for the top of the 7th. The only thing keeping me from bugging Laurie to get out of there was waiting for somebody to break up Mussina's perfect game.

In the end it didn't really matter that I stayed, because the Red Sox' rally fell short as they came up on the short end of a 10-7 game last night. It doesn't look so good this morning with Curt saying he might not be ready to pitch again in Game 5. The local media goons are once again rolling out the "Who's your daddy?" nonsense with Pedro and the Yankees. I'm sure the Stadium will be an absolute nuthouse tonight. And I certainly don't want the Sox slumping back to Boston in an 0-2 hole.

But I'm not panicked yet. There is something different about this team. Their Ace was hurting last night and it looked like a blowout to open the series, but they didn't give up. They made it a helluva game in the end and although that counts for nothing when they tally up the wins and losses, it makes me believe that they won't roll over just yet.

Back when people were debating the postseason roster, the Sports Guy talked about how Sox fans keep hoping the old Pedro would come back this year. He didn't quite show up against the Angles (although he was solid) but I still haven't given up hope that we're going to see him come out tonight and dominate. Gotta have faith, right?

06 October 2004

Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Kodos


I didn't write about the Presidential debate until the morning after it happened because I wanted to give some of my thoughts more time to come into clearer focus. In retrospect I think some of my first reactions may have been diluted by the "post-game" coverage I heard between the time of the debate and the next morning when I wrote my bløg entry. I'm going to try something different this time and write my thoughts immediately following the debate.

Biggest Surprise

The VP came off as way less evil than I expected. From the start of the debate until just before the closing statements he presented the Administration's case in a way that made me feel better about them than I have in a long time. This is the exact opposite of what I expected, since I figured the contrast between the dashing John Edwards and curmudgeonly Dick Cheney would really leave the Republicans in bad shape.

One point in particular caught my attention during the pair of questions about gay marriage. I was really shocked to see Cheney make what seemed to me to be a complete break in policy statement from the President. Of the many things in current American politics that bother me, perhaps the worst is the way in which candidates must adhere unswervingly to some company line in order to "please the base." Instead of talking about real ways to benefit the People, they say whatever seems most likely to get them elected. In this particular case, with W supporting the absolutely ludicrous Constitutional ban on gay marriage (which is both pathetic, outright discrimination against gays and a disgraceful affront to the Constitution) Cheney is put in the difficult position of defending that policy vis-a-vis his own support for and love of his lesbian daughter. And for one moment he absolutely refused to sell her out and defend W's support of the Constitutional ban. He gave a watery, legalistic defense of the administration position in the first question (directed at him) and then declined the entirety of his 90 second response to the next question, with the exception of thanking Edwards for kindly mentioning his family. This was a major point in Cheney's favor for me. As W's running mate, Cheney's foremost task in this debate is to defend the administration's policies. And for once a politician refused to sell out his personal convictions to further the cause. I wholeheartedly believe that will be the only moment in all four debates where one of the candidates says something with a goal other than trying to get elected. It made Cheney seem much more human than Edwards, which I previously thought an impossible task.

Biggest Letdown

The Veep's closing statement was terrible. His tone of voice switched from an intellectual debating note to this dull drone. He went from thinking about what he was saying to reciting some rote mantra that had been drilled into him. Plus the content of his closing remarks were practically a threat to American voters; "We're going to be attacked and it will be your fault if you don't reelect us." He painted this maudlin picture of current American affairs that left me feeling like he was simply preparing for the inevitable horror instead of trying to create a better alternative.

Biggest Contrast

Cheney's sepulchral closing followed directly on what I found to be the most eloquent 2 minutes in either debate so far. Edwards hit an absolute home run by somehow managing to tell that story about his childhood without sounding naïve. We're desperately aimless as a nation right now: lousy economy, war in Iraq that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, subjected to intrusions on our civil rights in the name of ineffectual safety measures, watching a color coded warning level without any clue how much danger we're really in. What we need is a direction and a belief in a better future. We need an image of that future right now, and John Edwards opened a window and revealed an ever-so-brief glimpse of what that might be. Bravo.

Biggest Non-Shocker

I'd give both of these guys a C minus for content. The debate suffered from the same problems that cripple seemingly all modern political debates: mindless repetition of vague blandishments. Edwards kept hammering away that everything the Veep said was a distortion and Cheney kept saying, "The senator just has his facts wrong." OK. We get the picture. The "factual" statements are probably very specifically construed to present the data in the way that paints their faction in the best possible light. Let's move on already.

Plus there's Cheney's insistence that "we've made real progress," much as the President reminded us all how running the country and quashing maniacal insurgents is "hard work." I think people are thirsting for a some specific ideas on how to handle these problems, not toothless promises that things are proceeding apace. Not that I think the Kerry-Edwards duo has done much better. So far it seems as if they want to halve the deficit, provide world class schools and health care for everyone, double the number of active duty troops in the Armed Forces and employ everybody, all while only increasing taxes on the extremely wealthy. Sounds like a fantasy to me.

Biggest Annoying Habit

It started really grating on me when Edwards kept flashing his pearly whites and saying, "I don't need to tell the American people this, they can see it for themselves." If that's the case then shut up already.

Is there a way to have a political campaign today without all this hot air? Probably not until we've totally revamped the way we elect our government. Viable third party candidates inject a much needed dose of reality into these events. There's nothing like a good Barbara Johnson to break up the mindsplitting tedium of listening to Mitt Romney and Shannon O'Brien whine at each other.

05 October 2004

Anachronistic Web Search


Tarquinius Superbus doesn't have much of a web presence. For this reason I get a lot of hits from people searching on the interwang for the last king of Rome. But in today's logs I found that I had been visited by someone searching for Tarquinius Superbus photo. Searching for a photograph of someone who died in 510 B.C.!?! What the fuck were they expecting to find?

Dan Rather is a Boob


Not only did he forfeit all his journalistic integrity (The Tech does better fact checking than this), but he did it in pursuit of a despicable story. George W. Bush is not a great president. There is ample proof of this. If you want to impugn his credibility, why not draw attention to the fact that his administration either lied about their intelligence (no pun intended) during the leadup to the war in Iraq or they are unforgivably incompetent? I don't consider myself too far to the left, either. I'm usually the only guy in the room giving W any credit, but I still feel deceived by him and his cabal. So why are we still talking about Vietnam? The continuing abuse of history by both the press and the Kerry campaign is symptomatic of why American voters are so ill-informed.

01 October 2004

Round 1: FIGHT!

Although I didn't play the Fat Farm Drinking Game last night, I did watch the first presidential debate. On one hand it was better and more substantive than I expected, but on the other it did feature a lot of mindless yammering by both W and JFK. I decided to watch the coverage on C-SPAN because they had a basic split screen for the entire debate and didn't have any wavy flag icons obscuring half the screen. Some observations I had:

  • At the beginning of the night JFK looked really nervous. His hands were shaking, he looked like he was gulping down his water, and he looked really uncomfortable. He warmed up a lot as the night went on and eventually hit his stride about halfway through or so. While the President spoke JFK grinned and took feverish notes like a freshman at the first day of class.

  • W also looked worst when he wasn't speaking. He was always squirming, blinking and wrinkling his nose. Plus, the height of his podium was really unflattering since it came up to midchest. He looked like he was peeking out from a hiding spot the whole time.

  • Funny that among all the talk of whether going after Saddam was a diversion from Osama both W and JFK mixed up their names. Who can keep those crazy Middle Eastern names straight anyway?

  • I hate how W always calls JFK "my opponent". For some reason it just drives me nuts.

  • Whenever JFK compared W unfavorably to his father it really irked the hell out of him.

  • JFK made that obnoxious point about "opening firehouses in Iraq while closing them here" that I absolutely despise. It's such a terrible apples/oranges comparison. For one thing, Iraq's infrastructure is so abysmal after the war and due to the continuing insurgency that they need all the essential services they can get, and it's our job to provide them. I mean, they can't even keep the electricity on consistently. It isn't as if we're leaving entire sections of the U.S. without any firemen just so we can buy some fancy new trucks for the Baghdad Fire Dept.

  • They both overplayed their standard messages. Ugh. I hate hearing them repeat themselves. Did you know that JFK served in Vietnam? Or that W thinks "his opponent" flip-flops on important issues? How enlightening!

  • JFK definitely won in terms of zingers delivered. His "I made a mistake talking about the war and the President made a mistake invading Iraq" was definitely classier than when W apoplectically screamed, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us!"

  • Big question: Will the leaders of other countries really give JFK a chance to "rebuild our alliances"? If W is really representative of the disconnect between the USA and other Western countries it is a big reason to vote for JFK. If they just dislike us in general then it's not so much an issue. An inadvertent straw poll of the Aussie and the Brit in my office seems to indicate that they hate W, but that the bigger beef is with the doctrine of unilateral preemption.