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December 2001 Archives
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September 11 colors our year. But for us, we moved into a new house. Miranda asked,"Will we be in this house next year?" Of course we will. But she found the change traumatic, leaving the only home she knew for her grandmothers, then to a new house. She's lucky. She doesn't shuffle between homes like a child of divorce or foster care or like a real refugee. Happy New Year to you all.
Watched the Washington Indigenous Persons defeat the New Orleans Saints. In some ways, the game reflected itself as a poor cousin to Super Bowl 22. In that game, the Denver Broncos jumped out to 10-0 lead. Tonight, the Saints did the same. An injury that apparently sidelined Doug Williams for the game seemed to dash the Persons' hope early in the Super Bowl. So did a touchdown catch tonight, overruled by instant replay. In response, the Persons' scored 40 unanswered points in both cases. Of course, Aaron Brooks is not John Elway and Tony Banks is not Doug Williams.
I love New Orleans. They hired a voodoo priestess to take a hex off the Saints. The city bears an un-self-conscious weirdness not found in Las Vegas or New York, as if an entire community were a science fiction fan. The Big Easy is not a convention, just one fan.
Had dinner with people I can't talk about at Agrodolce, our neighborhood Italian restaurant. I ate a wonderful chicken florentine. Miranda got a chess teacher set for a present.
Have the baseball owners abdicated their responsibilities? One would think whether and how the owners manage revenue sharing would be their prerogative alone. Yet in the 1994-1995 negotiating session, management insisted that they could only implement revenue sharing with a salary cap. At the time we assumed the higher revenue teams could only part with their revenue if a salary cap kept their profits the same. Now Bud tells Congress that revenue sharing will depend again on the collective bargaining results. So it seems the owners have ceded this issue to the players, when they could have dealt with it themselves.
Now on relocation, the subject has emerged as a bargaining chip. On one hand, management claims the unilateral ability to contract teams while they negotiate expansion with the union on the other. Now the owners want to extract some concession from the players in exchange for the letting the Expos move to Washington. In the past, owners could relocate their teams anywhere they like, as long as it wasn't to someplace like Medicine Hat, Alberta, for example. Again, management has abdicated their rights. The owners keep trying to beat the union, but I just see them abandoning their prerogative.
I also got New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract for Christmas. As usual he's got lots of eye-opening tidbits. Here are two.
Relief aces should be used in the 8th inning or later with the score tied or one run ahead. Save him for only the 9th inning if he pitched the night before. Otherwise, anybody else in your bullpen ought to be able to protect the 9th inning 3-run-lead. If somebody picks this up, maybe we can go back to 4-5 men bullpens and speed the game up.
In the 1937, the Salisbury (Md.) Indians in the Eastern Shore League lost 20 games in the standings in one night due to an outrageous technicality on the league's part. They played incredible ball and actually won the pennant. Two of their pitchers had 20-game winning streaks with one of them tossing back-to-back no-hitters as well. A Senators farm team at the time, some of the players had a cup-of-coffee that September at Griffith Stadium, but none had a significant major league career.
Took my Altima up to Frederick for the its first oil change and scheduled maintenance.
I got Civilization III for Christmas. So far, it's just as addictive as the previous two installments. In contrast to Civilization: Call to Power, the Civ3 user interface is so easy. Just goes to show you that cool game features mean nothing if the logistics of playing are so difficult.
I'm only on my first game, playing the Romans. The coolest new feature is assimilating bordering cities, merely by the power of your own culture. Hollywood and Coca-Cola cannot be defeated.
Merry Christmas. It's what I celebrate. No offense meant to those who celebrate other holidays.
We carried away enough presents to fill my Nissan Altima. My uncle Dean Auton came to the annual Christmas dinner at my parents house. He's a regular reader of this site.
Christmas Eve. A lot of wrapping of presents. Poolesville High School has voted to change their name from Indians to Falcons
I always thought that the music for Fox Sports sounded an awful lot like the tune "Sleigh Ride". On some football games, they play "Sleigh Ride" as well and the similarity becomes obvious.
Mitch Albom attributed the bottle-throwing in Cleveland and New Orleans to an inherent belief in some fans that they are part of the game. In some sense they are, otherwise why not just play the game in a television studio? Also, fans feel disenfranchised from their games by impersonal owners, players, and media. They seek this power in more socially acceptable ways through call-in shows and fantasy leagues. So to dismiss this anger, would be to ignore a powerful force within fandom.
The Indigenous Persons lost again. This time, their lack of talent showed in the impotent effort at a tying touchdown.
Took Miranda to the Winter Lights Show at Seneca Creek State Park. I especially liked the animated landing duck and eagle. Part of the The Blair Witch Project was filmed in this park. I think the park should take advantage of this connection and hold a Halloween presentation in the park as well.
Took Miranda to get her hair cut. Then we went to Giant to buy Wavy Lays and Home Depot to buy drop cloths. Folks associated with Home Depot are now associated with the Atlanta Falcons. On Chris Creamer's logo board, someone has suggested a new Falcons uniform in Home Depot orange.
Have you seen the commercials from the American Travel Association with several members of the travel industry encouraging you to spend money? Their pep talks are interspersed with Dubya speeches. They seem to say,"Fly, you unpatriotic coward!"
Over at Wunderland, Andy Looney has decided he likes the live action Tick better than the animated one. The live action version is Seinfeld with superheroes. I never liked Seinfeld, so I like the animated Tick better. However, the physical comedy is great, such as the Tick tossing a salad. The last two episodes featured other superheroes prominently. I do wish they'd fight crime every now and then.
To me non-alcoholic beer makes as much sense as non-sexual pornography.
The John Walker controversy puzzles me. Treason definitions draw the term rather broadly. No one calls for the execution of a person who renounces his U.S. citizenship to be a Canadian or a Brit. I think the government should treat him like any other prisoner of war. To me, treason involves taking advantage of your citizenship to hurt your supposed country, like Benedict Arnold, turning over West Point. The various U.S. spies selling secrets to foreign governments and even Timothy McVeigh could be considered traitors under this definition, but not Walker.
Those who he say he's just young and misguided miss the point. We all make mistakes in our youth, but most of us have enough sense not to make this error. I wouldn't even characterize it as a mistake. I'm sure, he knew exactly what he was doing and must face the consequences of his actions. I certainly have more confidence in his faculties than his parents do. As a parent and putting myself in that situation, I can only surmise that I would act the same way I feel right now. He made the decision. He'll have to live with it.
Mostly, the lynchers want a tangible target for their hatred. They don't have Osama Bin Laden yet. They're willing to settle for Walker.
In this ESPN.com article, Jim Caple rails against the current trend in selling arena and stadium names to corporations. Although I find the practice distasteful, I'm all for it if selling a name pays for a stadium rather than the taxpayers paying for it. Heck, I advocated selling the name of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge back in February. Unfortunately, in actual practice, public money builds an arena, a corporation still buys the name, and the cash goes in the team owner's pocket.
You can fight the man by calling the stadium another the name, the way the Denver Post does to the new Broncos stadium. I prefer more subversive means. Much of the media calls Bank One Ballpark the BOB. Given that pronouncing the acronym philosophy and going for a friendly personable moniker, I've been trying to get people to call the MCI Center the Mickey. After mentioning this to my friend Walter Miles, he said that the Ravens' home should therefore be called Pussynet Stadium.
I'm glad that George O'Leary is no longer the coach at Notre Dame, because now Ty Willingham may get serious consideration. However, this shouldn't seriously hamper O'Leary's future employment opportunities. After all, his actually coaching resume, the most important factor in hiring him, is not in dispute. In addition, the culture should remove the stigma of not actually playing. So what if O'Leary never lettered in college football? He succeeded anyway.
A more frustrating loss for the Washington Indigenous Persons. Unlike the game against the Cowboys, they weren't manhandled into submission, but gave the game away through their mistakes. This isn't a supremely talented team, but with few errors, they can beat most mistakes.
Did you hear what will happen to Al-Qaida leaders convicted of crimes? They will be sentenced to officiate games in Cleveland.
Fox rejected a commercial for Encare, a spermicidal product, to air on Temptation Island. So on a program advocating promiscuity, one cannot mention the possible consequences of pregnancy, nor the responsibility of pregnancy prevention. It's not like it's a moralistic cautionary tale either. I have a better idea. Watch CSI instead.
Got a lot of on-line shopping done.
Today was our annual holiday party. The director made some great turkey which went quickly. There was also a karaoke contest, which I did not enter.
Isn't strange that Napoleonic toy soldiers are an acceptable non-secular holiday decoration? The reason of course is that such soldiers are featured in The Nutcracker, a traditional holiday show. But could you decorate a mall with toy soldiers from any other era? Toy Roman soldiers would be historically accurate to the time Jesus was born. More moderns GIs would be considered promoting violent toys. I just find it funny that war toys of one particular era are innocuous enough for holiday decorating.
Newest Gammonism:"Competitive balance in the American League is nil." Yeah, those damn Yankees. I mean look at the standings this year. Leading the league with 116 wins was ... uh ... the Seattle Mariners. Well, over the past two years, the team with the most wins the American League was ... uh ... still the Seattle Mariners with 207 wins. Over the same period the Yankees were third with 182 wins behind the Athletics. But over the last three years, leading the league with 286 wins is ... damn ... it's still the Seattle Mariners. The Yankees are tied with Athletics for second with 280 wins. But over the last four years ... yeah .. that's it. The Yankees lead with 394 wins. In that same span they've won three American League pennants. So dammit, we gotta stop this travesty of competition. What ever happened to those golden age baseball days just after the war from 1949-1953, when ... uh ... the Yankees won five World Series in a row.
Miranda had her Christmas pageant. They sang "God Bless America", "Wonderful Christmas Time", and "Silent Night" and recited "A Visit from St. Nick".
Why do sportswriters feel a need to blast sports they have no interest in? The response Who cares really means,"I don't care." Publishing empires have been built on bashing the lovers of disdained sports with unabashed vitriol worthy of Adolf Hitler, George Lincoln Rockwell or Osama Bin Laden. There are sports I don't like either, but I'm not going to waste your time or mine discussing them. If you agree with me great, if not, you won't have to sit through my offending you.
I sometimes hear that a sport "is being shoved down my throat," usually referring to women's sports. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Turn off the television, get up off the couch and get out of the house.
Just like everybody else, I have a playoff solution for Division I-A football. Twenty-six teams qualify because 25 bowl games will be played this season. The seeding comes from Jeff Sagarin's rankings. You can choose another ranking if you like. I based the hierarchy of bowls on my perception, your's may vary. The schedule intends to give every game it's own day, except for New Year's Day. Most teams will play at night so as not to conflict with the NFL. The Monday games may have to be played at 6:00 pm Eastern time. You can make up a schedule, too. I just wanted to draw up such a schedule, proving that the bowls can be somewhat preserved.
Angel showed Holtz training a red-haired girl named Justine Cooper to be a slayer-like fighter. Finally, here's the Blossom I'd been hoping for.
Steve Czaban went on another stupid tirade tonight. Because the BCS doesn't work, he refuses to watch. No problem there. Then he characterizes them as "exhibitions". Granted, the Rose Bowl may not be a true championship, like the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics because arguably the best competitors aren't there. But don't go calling them exhibitions as if the coaches and players aren't trying to win. Don't call them exhibitions as if it's all a staged, fixed farce like professional wrestling. I challenge him to look Ralph Friedgen in the face and tell him he's not trying to win the Orange Bowl because it's really an "exhibition". Leave it to a guy who gets paid to sit on his fat ass and think up outrageous stupid concepts to come up with a doozy like this. As opposed to someone who doesn't get paid to to sit on his fat ass and thinks up outrageous stupid concepts like this blog anyway.
I can't tell you where we went for a Christmas party, but I can tell you what happened. There were kids close enough to Miranda's age that we didn't worry about her being entertained. A gentleman dressed in an elf costume and I had to do a triple-take to make sure he didn't resemble USA soccer goalkeeper Casey Keller. The standard meatballs and tortellinis were served. Someone there who had already received our holiday cards remarked on the picture of our house on the return address labels.
I intended to discuss the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot before Rob Neyer did the same. Before his posting, I was certain that if I had a vote, I would select Gary Carter, Ozzie Smith and Alan Trammell. I've always had a fondness for Ted Simmons, so if he belongs in Cooperstown, so should Carter, the better overall player. Ozzie Smith was a lot better hitter than people think and deserved the 1985 NL MVP that instead went to teammate Willie McGee. Alan Trammell was the Derek Jeter of the 1980s. Neyer also added Bert Blyleven and Goose Gossage to his hypothetical ballot, selections with which I would also concur.
Attended a birthday party for world-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster at O'Brien's Pit Barbecue. Martin identified attendees his sister Pam and Paul Parsons as the only three X-Files fans left in the world. Randy Brunk drove all the way from Crownsville despite the driving rain. Martin's parents were also there. Wendell Wagner showed a Washington City Paper book review of Lost Classics: Writers on Books Loved and Lost, Overlooked, Under-Read, Unavailable, Stolen, Extinct, or Otherwise Out of Commission, edited by Michael Ondaatje, Michael Redhill, Esta Spalding and Linda Spalding. Reviewer Jason Cherkis says,"The contributors, ranging from John Irving and Philip Levine to Pico Iyer and Jeffrey Eugenides, have called up their inner bookworms, their own little Dirdas [emphasis mine] at work, and have plucked 70-plus works out of the world's remainder pile for a new appraisal, a fresh telling."
After that, the third birthday party for my godson and nephew Ian. He's into Bob the Builder and the Phantom Menace these days. My sister served this great snack - a miniature ice cream cone. It's real ice cream in a cone and a thin shell like an Eskimo Pie, all within a package about two inches long - a major advancement in snacking.
Took the day off to go Christmas shopping. Got most of it done.
Saw a soap with "Dead Sea Minerals". According to this web site the Dead Sea contains many minerals that contribute to healthy skin. I thought those minerals also appeared in other locations around the world, such as the Great Salt Lake. I never thought the Dead Sea had such a healthy cachet. To me, the Dead Sea connotes death. Salt columns in the coincidental shapes of persons remind me of Lot's wife struck dead. A friend of mine who actually visited the area told me of the oppressive, thick, heavy air. Since the Dead Sea is below sea level, the air pressure is much higher. Again a characteristic I would not associate with youthful, healthy skin. Everytime I think I've figured out marketing, something like this leaps out and bites me.
Attended a conference today at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The same hotel, under a different name, hosted Unicon there July 20-22, 1979.
On Friday, I spent the afternoon at the steps of the National Air and Space Museum for a ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon. Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin were there as well as the astronauts who would fly the first space shuttle mission - John Young and Robert Crippen. Collins was still director of the museum at that time.
After that I went to Unicon. It was my first science fiction convention and I was a member of the security team. My task was to check badges for the "computer room". This turned out to be a room with a single arcade game, something vaguely similar to "Asteroids". Even in that primitive day, it was pretty lame.
Among the other events that weekend was hearing Clam Chowder for the first time with "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" bringing me to tears. I almost bought a small silver unicorn in the Huckster Room. A popular shirt sported the word "Alien" with an arrow pointing somewhere else on the torso. It referenced the film Alien and parodied "Baby" t-shirts for pregnant moms. A NASA scientist presented breathtaking pictures of Jupiter and its moons taken by the Voyager spacecraft that spring. Robert Bloch spoke before a presentation of Psycho. Dan O'Bannon spoke before a presentation of Dark Star. Dark Star is an extremely low-budget, but immensely funny science fiction parody. 2001: A Space Odyssey and HAL figure prominently. Dan O'Bannon also wrote the Alien story. I've soon discovered that Dark Star portends the end of relationships for me so I haven't seen it in many years, but I heartily recommend it to everyone else.
The evening reception featured hors d'euvres rather than a sumptious buffet.
I don't like the vocal "Faith of the Heart," the new theme song on Enterprise. However, I don't really care, and I won't take the effort to sign the petition. If I really hate the theme, I'll fast forward through it. It won't make or break the show for me. Voyager had the best Star Trek theme in my opinion, but that didn't salvage the show for me.
After the death of George Harrison bloggers who cared about the Beatles feel obligated to say a few words on his passing.
"Here Comes the Sun," a bright anthem on the coming of spring. He reinterpreted Bob Dylan's "If Not for You". His best guitar hook, the opening to "What is Life?" Summer nights accompanied by "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)". Another infectious guitar hook on "You", that foreshadowed the banal facileness of "I've Got My Mind Set on You". "Blow Away," another silly love song. The Somewhere in England album with several Hoagy Carmichael covers.
His solo efforts were slight, idiosyncratic. But could have he done any more in the shadow of the Beatles? It may not have been in his nature to top rock's greatest legend (after Elvis). Would he have been a significant figure without the Beatles? Probably not, but he might have aspired to his own success. Would the Beatles have been good, but not significant without him? They were a confluence. I would be loathe to take away any part of an icon and believe they could be the same. Enjoy George or not. Maybe that's how he would've liked it.
The Washington Indigenous Persons lost with a formula I'm surprised other opponents haven't tried: run at them to death. It exposes Washington's lack of talent. I suppose brilliant coaches with cannon-armed quarterbacks would prefer to demonstrate their superiority with 40-yard bombs. Washington's turnover cost them and they still were in a position to win. Don't get fancy against these guys. Don't give them a chance to get in the game.
I'm tired of hearing that because Bud Selig is an owner, and represents the interests of the owners, he's a bad commissioner. Whose interests do Paul Tagliabue, David Stern and Gary Bettman represent? Here's a hint: not the players and not the fans. Bud's incompetence is self-evident and needs no explanation. It's not his interests, it's his performance.
Gil Grissom on CSI erroneously identified 9.8 meters-per-second-squared as terminal velocity rather than the acceleration due to gravity.
Put my drapes up again with stronger hollow wall anchors.
Whitlock notes that reports of the 94-year-old woman in Seymour, Connecticut who may have succumbed to inhalation anthrax died under "mysterious circumstances". Though we don't know all the facts in the case, 94-year-olds are just more susceptible to death than 93-year-olds.
Willow on Buffy has accepted the fact that she's addicted to magic. She knows she needs help. Is there a 12-step program for magic addicts? We can picture a future episode at a Magic Addicts Anonymous meeting.
"My name is Willow and I'm a magic addict."
The Undertow... another pointless surfing metaphor ...
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