Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Delete

Ian accidentally found this blog by searching on the iPad for information about his hero Chase Utley. Ian, as you'll recall, put a near-life-size Fathead Sticker of Utley on his bedroom wall and I put pix of it on the blog. Ian searched for pix of Utley and found that post. Because the blog was set up to allow search engines to crawl it.

Ian wasn't interested in reading the post, but still. Time to start over. I'm taking down the more offensive posts, which is to say 99.9% of them. My posts are not intended for 11 year-olds.

If you are interested: My new blog, which at some point I might get around to posting on.

Yes, that's right: reecriff. Because "criffree" was already taken, for some reason. (Yes, I know he lost 4-zip last night. But he's still Criff Ree.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Day At The Races

Actually, it was A Night at the Ballgame, but the Marx Brothers never got around to making that movie; but a titular allusion to Abbott & Costello's "Who's On First?" routine seemed a bit obvious; plus, if I did allude to that routine, I'd have to include a footnote stipulating to the fact that that routine was not really Abbott & Costello's, but actually an old vaudeville routine whose origins can't really be pinpointed; and the only reason I'd have to do that would be to preempt a certain reader who, were I not to point that out, would feel obliged to leave a comment saying, e.g., "Abbott & Costello were not really the originators of 'WoF?' ..."

Take my word — it was just easier to go with the Marx Brothers movie title1.

Anyroad, on Tuesday night, Ian and I went to the Phillies game and stayed till the bitter end, watching as our Phils got their collective @$$es handed to them by the Brewers, 9-zip. Yep, and Doc Halladay (best pitcher in the majors) was our starter that night. Not a good night for Phillies fans!

Cliché alert: The game was actually closer than it sounds (it didn't get out of hand till the 7th), but there really wasn't much to cheer for because the Phils didn't bring their sticks that night, getting a mere two hits, one of which was a bunt single by Rollins.

Ian and I agreed that we had a great time anyway, and as we left after the last out in the bottom of the ninth (a good two-thirds of the crowd had already left), one of the ushers looked at us and said, "These are the real fans!" And I was like, "I never stopped believing they might come back!" which is a bit of a lie, the truth being more that I certainly didn't want to be in the car driving home listening on the radio as the announcers went: "WHAT A COMEBACK BY THE PHILLIES!1! Down by 9 runs, they win it 10-9 in the NINTH!1!"

That wasn't likely to happen but the only surefire way to prevent it was to stay2. Which successfully prevented it from happening.

Anyroad, I'll let these pix do the rest of the talking:





Ian and I got to Citizens Bank Park a half hour before the gates even opened (at 4:35; game time: 7:05) because Ian wanted to see batting practice. It being a moist day, the tarp was down all day and there was no batting practice. And even though we were wandering around in- and outside the stadium for 3 hours, we only got stopped by two official photographers (last time, we got stopped by about 6) and the four pix above are the results. Proofs, of course, because each picture costs $20! Eff that.

My pix:
 Outside at around 4:00, waiting for the gates to open at 4:35 (Ian is wearing his Utley jersey, which he's had for months, for the first time; I wore my Ibañez jersey, of course ...)

Banner of CRIFF REE!1! outside CBP. We'd've seen Lee pitch if there hadn't been a rainout. Still, we got to see Doc so ... no complaints.

View looking up at the Left Field Gate (Duh)

Still waiting ....

Poor Ian never got that Utley autograph ...

1 Which, as every student of 1970s music knows, they stole from the title of the Queen album, on which album you are exhorted to engage in some rather questionable borderline-bondage behavior with your own maternal ancestor. Go ahead. Feel free. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. I'm not here to judge you.

2 Of course all is forgiven now because yesterday afternoon the Phils did come back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Brewers 4-3. Now that was an exciting game! Ian and I watched it on TV.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just a Post

D&R Canal 5K race Official Results:

They're finally up. [Inserted a week later: The preceding sentence was written over a week ago because that's how long this post has been sitting here fermenting.] And it turns out there were only 200 runners, which is fewer than last year (288), which explains how I ran it slower yet placed higher.

The official results:

My time: 24:48:97. 61st out of 200. 12th out of 35 male geezers 50-59.


Ian had his first little league game of the season on Friday, 4/9. His team, the Rays, beat the Yankees, 5-4. One kid on Ian's team hit a home run, by which I mean an actual home run that went over the left field fence and for which the kid in question got to do an actual home run trot around the bases.

That was probably the highlight of the game. Ian played Fall Ball last fall, and, to be brutally honest, the level of play a mere 5-6 months ago was nowhere near as good as it is now. Ian and I have been doing a lot of batting practice together to get him used to faster pitching by these older kids. He's a little upset that he whiffed in both of his at-bats in his first game. He was flailing a bit.

Since that first game, two of Ian's scheduled games have been rained out. He was disappointed both times, but took it well overall.

Between Ian's baseball games and getting and watching all the Phillies games via DirecTV Extra Innings and visiting Teh 'Dad and going to work and practicing baseball with Ian between his official games and practices, etc., I have had no time to do anything else. I have, for example, been "reading" Two Noble Kinsmen by Shakespeare for over two weeks and I'm still in Act V. So there has been no time for posting, tweeting, reading others' blogs, etc. (So STOP NAGGING ME, MOM!1!) [WTF, Beth? Where'd you go?] I am not complaining about this. As a B*tch I know told me, these are Cadillac Problems. I'd like to have the time to be able to do those other things, but (with the exception of having to work) I prefer doing what I am already doing. Blogging, tweeting, reading ... they are all secondary at this point.

Tonight we go to the Phils Versus Brewers game. Doc is pitching. Pray it doesn't get rained out. I don't think Ian can survive yet another baseball disappointment. (He's driving me nuts as I write this.)

In conclusion, here's a picture of Morgan in sunglasses that Ian (I guess) took because I found it on the camera last time I downloaded pix from it and I know I didn't take it:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shocking (WARNING: Political Content)

Canadian scholar Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism was published almost four years ago (which is when I read it) but seems now to be not only relevant once again, but also nearly prescient in its limning of the attempt by radical "Chicago School" economists — disciples of the "free market" ideologue Milton Friedman — to exploit political, social and economic upheaval — as well as natural disasters —  to impose further economic hardships on suffering nations and redistribute wealth upward, thereby further enriching the already-wealthy elites and cruelly immiserating the vast majority of the people in the countries where these neo-liberal economic policies were imposed.

Klein shows the links between the CIA's experiments in using torture, include the technique of electro-convulsive shocks, to make individual victims more compliant and Friedman's disciples' technique of exploiting times of national shock to impose economic "austerity" programs on large populations, on whole nations, thereby, essentially, robbing the vast majority of the people of their rightful share of the wealth. When a nation was reeling from a natural disaster, or a war, or domestic terrorism, or a deep recession — from any type of national "shock" — the Friedmanites at the IMF and World Bank would, vulture-like, swoop in and offer loans as "aid" ... but the loans came with strings attached.

The strings, of course, were that the nations, in order to qualify for the loans, would have to implement "free market" solutions — solutions that turned already-ailing nations that accepted IMF and World Bank funds into kleptocratic, crony capitalist states that stole wealth from the poor via "free" markets and transferred  that wealth to domestic and foreign elites.

These policies were deeply unpopular with the vast majority of the people in the affected nations, which is precisely why they could be successfully imposed only during times of national upheaval, when a country or region was suffering from some kind of collective trauma. Margaret Thatcher's famous (and mendacious) "TINA" (There Is No Alternative) argument was invariably adduced and was used to force on an already-suffering populace policies they would not otherwise have been accepted because those policies were so radically mean-spirited and included needlessly punitive terms.

But those punitive terms benefited the already-wealthy one percent.

Because of the current world-wide economic crisis (caused not by unions, or the poor, or middle-class homeowners, but rather by rapacious banks and Wall Street speculators who have never produced anything other than hardship for the mass of the world's population but who nonetheless continue to reward themselves with multi-billion dollar bonuses, paid for with our bailout tax money), this "Shock Doctrine" is now being used against the population of our own country, as many more qualified to speak on this issue than I are now pointing out:
The new GOP budget unveiled by Paul Ryan is a wildly cruel document. Yet pointing this out [...] seems only to flatter Ryan’s self-conception as a serious man telling hard truths. [... So i]nstead, let’s judge Ryan by his own standards. Does his plan, however cruel, actually address our fiscal realities? No, it doesn’t.

If you want to reduce the deficit, you have to come up with some combination of ways that people will pay more taxes to the government or get fewer services. That’s hard for politicians. Declaring a general intention to make unnamed people pay more, or unnamed programs do less, is easy.

Ryan’s plan does single out a lot of people who would get less from the government. Specifically: the poor and the currently uninsured. Ryan would eliminate all the new coverage in the Affordable Care Act, increasing the ranks of the uninsured by some 30 million. That’s good! (Remember, we’re inhabiting Ryan’s moral universe. If those leeches wanted health insurance, then they should have thought of that before they decided to get breast cancer.) On top of that, he cuts another huge chunk from Medicaid, almost as much from food stamps and other aid to the impoverished, and there we go: about $3 trillion in honest-to-goodness budget savings wrested from the claws of the sick and poor.

But then, alas, Ryan gives all those savings right back and then some by proposing to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts, at a cost of almost $4 trillion. Ryan’s explanation for this decision in this report, which begins by decrying the existential dangers of the national debt in the most lurid terms, is comic. He explains that raising taxes on the rich would not, by itself, solve the problem. “To close the fiscal gap by raising the top rates,” he writes, “the government would have to collect an additional $500,000 each year on average from every taxpayer in the top two brackets.” So, he reasons, let’s just give them a big tax cut instead. Likewise, you don’t have enough time in the day to lose 20 pounds through exercise alone, so you might as well quit the gym and start watching more television.
As Chait points out, Ryan is not ashamed of the fact that his budget plan is nothing more than a transparent plan to transfer yet more wealth to the already-rich ... he is proud of it. Essentially:  I propose fucking you, good people of America, not because you like how I fuck you (you, in fact, hate it); but because I like how I fuck you. So with my plan ... you get fucked; and my rich overlords get richer as they watch me fuck you. It's win-win! I fail to see any losers here. At least, none who matter.


Graphic: H/T Balloon Juice

But maybe the super-rich somehow deserve all that lucre?

Not according to Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz 1, writing in the latest issue of Vanity Fair:
It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. [...] One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran. While many of the old centers of inequality in Latin America, such as Brazil, have been striving in recent years, rather successfully, to improve the plight of the poor and reduce gaps in income, America has allowed inequality to grow.

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.
Later in the same article:
When you look at the sheer volume of wealth controlled by the top 1 percent in this country, it’s tempting to see our growing inequality as a quintessentially American achievement—we started way behind the pack, but now we’re doing inequality on a world-class level. And it looks as if we’ll be building on this achievement for years to come, because what made it possible is self-reinforcing. Wealth begets power, which begets more wealth. During the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s—a scandal whose dimensions, by today’s standards, seem almost quaint—the banker Charles Keating was asked by a congressional committee whether the $1.5 million he had spread among a few key elected officials could actually buy influence. “I certainly hope so,” he replied. The Supreme Court, in its recent Citizens United case, has enshrined the right of corporations to buy government, by removing limitations on campaign spending. The personal and the political are today in perfect alignment. Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent. When pharmaceutical companies receive a trillion-dollar gift—through legislation prohibiting the government, the largest buyer of drugs, from bargaining over price—it should not come as cause for wonder. It should not make jaws drop that a tax bill cannot emerge from Congress unless big tax cuts are put in place for the wealthy. Given the power of the top 1 percent, this is the way you would expect the system to work.
In other words, screwing the 99% and further enriching the already super-wealthy 1% is not a by-product of these policies. It the point of them.

Similarly, Wisconsin governor and Leading Fucktard Indicator Scott Walker proposes using his state's current economic crisis as the shock/excuse he need to try to break the unions (who have already made more than their share of economic concessions for the sake of the state's budget). The economically-shocked-yet-not-stupid populace of the state has responded by turning Walker's until-a-few-weeks-ago-shoo-in-for-reelection-butt-boy Supreme Court Justice out of office2:
Wisconsin voters sent Republican Gov. Scott Walker a clear message about their unhappiness with his muscling through a law restricting union rights by sending a once runaway state Supreme Court race toward a near-certain recount and filling the governor's former post with a Democrat.
Wisconsinites also have enough petition signatures to start recalling the haughty republican state senators who tried to ram Walker's illegal, anti-worker law down their throats.

Wisconsin was to be the radical right wing's bellwether state for their Shock Doctrine attempt to use the current recession as an excuse to screw ordinary people out of a decent life, out of their right to have decent jobs with decent wages and decent benefits.

I, for one, am hoping these are bellwether results.

Recall Walker.

Recall those republican state senators.

Recall Chris Christie (who also wants to screw teachers and other public servants).

Recall Michigan's Snyder.

Recall Ohio's Kasich.

Recall them all.

Fuck them all ... and the Shock Doctrine they rode in on.




1 Stiglitz is an interesting character. (Yes, you read that right. I just called an economist interesting.) He is the former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, one of the very international institutions that Ms. Klein criticizes in The Shock Doctrine. So ... a World Bank insider. He probably thinks this shrill, bomb-throwing radical feminist Canadian got it all wrong when she presumed to be qualified to discuss economist Milton Friedman or the inner workings of the World Bank — a typical lefty conspiracy theorist.

Um, yeah ... not so much. He's more like: Sister? You're good, as far as you go; but you don't know the half of it.  Because it's even worse than you think:
Klein provides a rich description of the political machinations required to force unsavory economic policies on resisting countries, and of the human toll. She paints a disturbing portrait of hubris, not only on the part of Friedman but also of those who adopted his doctrines, sometimes to pursue more corporatist objectives. It is striking to be reminded how many of the people involved in the Iraq war were involved earlier in other shameful episodes in United States foreign policy history. She draws a clear line from the torture in Latin America in the 1970s to that at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay.

[...] There are many places in her book where she oversimplifies. But Friedman and the other shock therapists were also guilty of oversimplification, basing their belief in the perfection of market economies on models that assumed perfect information, perfect competition, perfect risk markets. Indeed, the case against these policies is even stronger than the one Klein makes. They were never based on solid empirical and theoretical foundations, and even as many of these policies were being pushed, academic economists were explaining the limitations of markets — for instance, whenever information is imperfect, which is to say always. [emphasis added]
Stiglitz's essay in Vanity Fair is titled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%"; the introduction to it reads:

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

He clearly agrees with the proposition that what is going on in Wisconsin and everywhere else that the rightwing teatard hillbillies are temporarily in control is not about balancing budgets, but transferring more wealth from the common people to the already-super-rich. Breaking unions will help do that. The rightwing canard that unions are all-powerful is risible on the face of it, and is easily refuted by one fact alone that Stiglitz mentions in his article: "[T]he decline of unions, which once represented a third of American workers and now represent about 12 percent" is a contributing factor to the current inequality that exists in America. [emphasis added]. It simply follows that Walker et al's attempts to break the unions is yet another transparent atempt to steal what little wealth the average worker has and transfer it upwards, to the richest 1%. It is class warfare at its most brazen.

2 Pending recount, of course. Update: Though it's looking more and more as though there won't be a need for a recount because the Wisconsin Republicans have evidently decided to "win" this election by the usual right-wing means: blatant fraud

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Joyless Mudville

It would not be factually erroneous to say that the Phillies lost their first game of the 2011 season last night but a more accurate way of putting it would be to say that the Mets beat them; because the loss had more to do with what the Mets accomplished  than it did with what our Fightins did or didn't do. The Mets had just an incredible third inning, scoring six runs, and their pitcher, Chris Young, had a phenomenal game all around, making Mets history by being the only pitcher in their 50-year history to get two hits in an inning. Both, of course, came in that incredible third inning; Young — a pitcher — was 3 for 3 hitting, scored a run and drove one in. Every single one of his hits was a valid one, too: He earned them.

In case you have not been paying attention lately, I am an avid Phillies fan and the Mets are one of our biggest division rivals — one of our biggest rivals period. Still it is hard not to acknowledge Young's beyond-impressive achievement. Quite a few other Mets had a good game last night as well, not the least of whom was David Wright, who went 4 for 5, scored 2 runs and drove in 2.

Wright is one of those scary-great players and I always kinda liked him; but for a while now he's also been one of my favorite (non-Phillie) players in the league because he's not only a really great hitter and an excellent third baseman, but also just seems an all-around class act. If anyone had to go 4 for 5 against the Phils, I'm glad it was he.

Last year, when the only games we seemed to get on TV were when the Phils played the Mets or the Yankees because, alas, we get NYC channels where I live (this season, we shelled out for DirecTV Extra Innings and so will get all Phillies games), I remember watching a Phils-Mets game on the NY channel and seeing a commercial in which Wright was spokesman for the New York City Carpenters' Union, and he pointed out that the new Mets stadium had been built, to code, by union carpenters making a livable middle class wage that enabled them to be active members of and contributors to their community. (You can see the commercials here.)

Well, here was a millionaire lobbying in favor of livable wages for the working man for a change! I liked that he opted to do that.

It was at that point that I decided I also respected Wright as a person. He is a good player but also, in my book, an admirable person, which is far more important.

I remember watching one Phils-Mets game during the height of the slump that Wright was in last year and seeing him fling his helmet in anger in the dugout after striking out yet again (or some such thing). He's a Met; there's no loves lost between his club and the one I root for, but I felt genuinely bad for the guy. I took no joy in seeing a truly great player agonize through a tough time, a time when he wanted to be helping his team and seemed just snakebit. (I felt something analogous when I saw that Tim Lincecum "lost" his first game this year after pitching 7 full innings and giving up no earned run; and he "lost" despite the fact that he didn't even give up the winning run (due to the weirdness in how they sometimes attribute pitchers' losses in MLB scoring). The Giants knocked the Phils outta the playoffs last year ... but that doesn't change the fact that Lincecum is a great pitcher, worthy off admiration.)

It was no fun watching the Phils get their asses handed to them last night; but there seems little point — there'd be something small-minded — in saying the Mets didn't deserve to win or the game coulda gone this way or mighta gone that. The Mets won and they deserved to.

I am making myself sound more reasonable than I am. I intensely dislike watching my team lose, but there are more important things in this world than whether or not your baseball team wins a game or even whether they win the fucking World Series. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to think of anything that matters less, in objective terms.

But I think sports can build character and I hope to become more like the person I somewhat disingenuously make myself out to be above. Because to my shame, I wasn't quite that person last night. Yes, sports can build character, can teach you winning with magnanimity, losing with grace, the importance of teamwork, the necessity of recognizing the contributions (and even feelings) of others ... but for fans, sports often seem to teach the exact opposite: how to be a sore loser, a graceless winner — how to be an all-around asshole.

Ian and I were watching the game last night (DVR'd so we could zip through commercials; by the 9th inning, what we were watching was maybe 20 minutes behind real time) and hoping the Phils would come back (they'd done it before); but with each passing inning, it became more and more clear that it wouldn't be happening this time. This was frustrating.

It was Teh 'Bride's late night at the library so she got home at maybe 9:15 (during the 6th or 7th inning for us) and went straight to bed; Ian went upstairs and hung out with her in our bedroom at around 9:40 so he could play with the iPad. At around 9:55, he comes down asking how it's going. "It's the bottom of the 9th and still 7-1," I said. "They're about to lose."

"Yeah, they lost. I checked online."

This was a forgone conclusion: The Phillies were going to lose. I knew this; they were not going to score 7 runs in the bottom of the 9th. I knew that Ian hadn't made them lose, in any case. But even though I am constantly telling him to be a good sport, I got really angry at him:

"Thanks for ruining the game for me, Ian! I wanted to watch it, but you ruined it! Just because you didn't want to watch it ..." etc.

I am that petty, that childish.

I became the worst possible example of the very type of asshole sports fan I am always exhorting him not to be. I became that with my own son.

This is the boy who, when we go to the local baseball field to practice, rushes 300 feet out into center field and says, "Hit me a fly ball, Dad!" And even though I keep telling him I'm not Ryan Howard, that I can't hit a ball that far (even if I were using something more substantial than his 22-oz aluminum kid-bat), he insists on seeing me as a guy who could do that. Despite all empirical evidence to the contrary. This is how he sees me.

He forgave me this morning when I apologized for having yelled at him last night.

He still doesn't see me as that asshole sports fan —despite all the evidence to the contrary. To him that was an aberration.

I sure hope it was.

For his sake, I have to be better than that. Not just a better sports fan.

A better person.

It didn't make me feel any better to wake up this morning and see that, at 9:42 last night, he e-mailed me from the iPad:  

Hi wats up dad wat u doing phials lost :( by

[This before he came down to tell me they lost.]

I know he loves me and looks up to me. I want so much to deserve that.

Last night, I didn't.

Monday, April 4, 2011

2011 D&R Canal 5K Race Report

First off: On this day in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis. The next time you hear racist anti-worker teatards like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity attempt to co-opt King's message, remember that King was in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers — members of the AFSCME union ... which is also my union. So yes, Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Christie, Walker, et al. — this is personal.

Saturday I ran, for the 4th year in a row, in the D&R Canal Watch 5K race. The results for this year's race are not up yet; if past experience serves as accurate predictor, they won't be up for about another week. So the numbers I will be giving in this post are unofficial, needless to say.

And why not just put the spoilers right out there for those of you who would have skipped to the end anyway to avoid all the unnecessary in-between verbiage1? So here you go:

My time was 24:47 and I finished 61st. This was in a field of 300+  runners, I would guess2. Possibly 400? I won't know for certain until the official results are posted. I know (see video below) that my bib was #300 exactly and that I saw foax walking around with numbers in the high 400s; but there was also a 1-mile walk, so those numbers can't be trusted3.

I PR'd at this race last year, with a time of 23:53 — the first, last, and only time I have/will seen/see the 23-minute mark in a 5k race, in all likelihood. I'm nearly fitty-one, after all. So that was a bit of a bummer.

But the not-bummers outnumber the bummers: I was 73rd in a field of 288 last year; I finished higher up in a (possibly?) larger field this year. I was not feeling that great on Saturday morning; but despite that I ran well enough to finish sub-25, which, for me, is also a bit of a rarity. And it was a beautiful day for a run — so ... nothing wrong with that.

Also, it's impossible to make a true comparison between last year's race and this year's because they had to significantly alter the race course this year due to a bridge's being out. Last year's course was an out-and-back — essentially a mile-and-a-half out along the river; then a mile-and-a-half back along the canal. Well, the road and bridge where we crossed to the canal path was washed out. So this year's course involved a couple of loops inside the island community of Titusville, which lies between the river and the canal4.

I tried to figure out if this made the course faster or slower or essentially the same. Upshot: I couldn't tell. I do know that near the end of the race, I was so close to puking that I was asking myself not only why I do these things, but also why I had signed up for a late-April 15k race, which is basically doing this same race only three times.

May the Sweet Baby Jebus have mercy on my soles. Also, on the toenails of my second toe, the longest one (That's What She ... etc.).


What you can't hear in this video — thanks to the fucking wind — is when I call Washington a "stupid douche" for using boats to cross the Delaware when there's a bridge RIGHT THERE (you can see it in the video). I stand by that statement. Still, I am glad he got toTrenton in time to stop Hitler and make our nation safe for future secret Muslim Kenyan Socialist Dictators to become President.

1 My opening paragraph having most likely already driven away any teatards who might otherwise have been willing to read this post to its conclusion, I am now deliberately driving away any impatient readers by giving away the ending. It is far more fun for me to alienate you all a segment at a time rather than all at once with some Universally Alienating Statement.

Though I am quite capable of a UAS. I'm sure no one doubts that.

2 I noted my time as I crossed the finish line and I stayed around long enough to seem my tag go up on the board in the #61 position. But then I had to leave (narked THREE bagels first, though!). As those of you who read my tweets already know, Saturday was a busy day and I had to get home so we could all got to Philadelphia to visit Teh 'Dad.

Who, by the way, is fine. His short term memory is going, but since we always see him after lunch, he's better when we visit than when Teh 'Bro does (typically at night time). (As lil sis points out, this is the Sundowner Syndrome; old foax tend to be less alert as bedtime approaches. Don't we all?)

Anyroad, we talked about the exciting Phillies opener, which Teh 'Dad had also watched (but couldn't remember the score of); and I told him how I watched it at night (because we'd DVR'd the afternoon game) and I didn't know that Teh 'Bride already knew the final score and so the Phils were losing 4-2 going into the bottom of the 9th and I was all (typically) "FUCKING PHILLIES!1! NO support for Doc!11!" etc., etc. and then of course they pulled it out in the 9th. And Teh 'Dad was acting all shocked that I would use such language, and made all sorts of suggestions to Teh 'Bride as to how she should punish me. To which I said, "She's punished me enough! She knew they were gonna win, and never let on! Not even a 'Be patient'! NOTHING!1!" Of course, if she had spoiled it for me, I would have been angry.

So ... a couple of "FUCKING PHILLIES!1!" never really hurt anyone, do they?

3 Fucking numbers! Another reason I don't trust them: The number 69 seduced my felt gnome away from me. (It's obvious why the gnome would go for a 69. Who wouldn't?)

Stupid gnome! I could have made it happy if it had just told me what it was into. Gnomes are whoo-wers!

4 So, yeah, technically not a real island.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bad News ... & Other News That Makes The Bad Bearable

I found out yesterday that the QandANJ Virtual Reference Service that I have been a part of almost since it started nearly ten years ago is being discontinued because of a lack of funding. I guess given the current political climate I should not have been surprised by this; after the last NJ budget, the QandA leaders really had to scramble for funding and they found it; but only until June 30, 2011. I was sure something would come through for us after that. But it didn't.

I had a lot of good times working for QandANJ, but if I had to pick my favorite songle thing this here is the winner, hands down:

QandANJ was loved by the people who knew about it and used it, but a problem with any library service is ... you barely have the money to fund it ... where you gonna find the money to promote it so that foax will know it exists? (E.g.: You're paying Netflix for movies? You can get them FREE at your library!)

QandANJ was not immune to this problem. So at the Project Managers Meetings, foax were constantly brainstorming about ways to get the word out about our service. A couple of years ago, it was decided we should have a contest: Ordinary users (ostensibly) of QandANJ would make their own video commercials for the service, upload the vids to YouTube and one of them would win the privilege of being the video our limited advertising budget would be spent on so that it could be aired on TV1.

So without further ado, here was my favorite video ad:


Needless to say, this was NOT the winning submission. And for the record: QandANJ is pronounced "Cue And Ay En Jay", not "Cue And Ange". Which one would think was also needless to say. If we couldn't even get THAT fact across to people ... no wonder we ultimately failed. I'm laughing through the pain, over heeyah, ya pussbag! (As we say in Joisey.)

Yet another useful and (dare I say) loved public service falls to budget cuts.

RIP, Cue And Ange.


Now here's the part that makes that part up there bearable:

I'm looking through my blog's stats this a.m., which I am wont to do, and I see this in the keyword search stats:
Many of you have been wondering what happened to Xenia of late, since she disappeared from Teh Blogosphere, claiming she was working on her Archæology PhD, but there she is, RIGHT THERE, happily ensconced under AT LEAST three uncut cocks.

It does my heart good to have this visual proof that in this day and age of budget crises, some things remain uncut.

And Xenia's got 'em.

That's money well-spent2.

1 The flaw in this seemingly impeccable approach: How do you get the word out about the existence of a contest about a service few (or not enough) people seem to know about? This particularly tough and regressive nut was never successfully cracked; because I think there was a grand total of like seven people who submitted videos in the contest. Most of which were really pretty good. But not all. See above.

2 I just noticed that the search right above the circled ones includes the phrase (from the song "Tam Lin") "I forbid you maidens". Then, there's Xenia under those cocks.

Yeah, so how's that "forbidding" going, Anonymous Searcher?

(That fucking Tam Lin post I did continues to get hits. This is perplexing to me. My most popular post, BY FAR, is the one I did with the pix of the Phillies' Four Aces (R2C2), which outperforms all my other posts combined. I get that. But "Tam Lin"?)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Numbers; You Want A Percentage But I'm The Fool Payin' The Dues

The Numbers:

Having run a mere 90 miles in January and then again a mere 90 in February, I was in a 20-mile deficit right from the jump in my quest to run 1200 miles for the year, which I may have mentioned once or twice is a major goal of mine for this year.

I didn't set out trying to make up that deficit in one month, but for me, March came in like a lion and stayed a lion the whole time; but running-wise? I fucked March a felt gnome (in the good sense).

Because I made up that deficit and then some this month.

Today's run: 6.33 miles in 55:45 for an 8:48 pace and a 6.8 mph average. I have a 5k race in two days and it was just nice to see managing a sub-9-minute pace for more than 3 miles had not devolved into a mere theoretical possibility for me. I could still actually do it. I guess running a sub-9 six miles is like fucking a felt gnome: You never really forget how. (Though some of you probably wonder: Why?)

Running: 122.55 miles
Biking: 108.7
Walking: 47.66
Total: 279.91 

[Bolded numbers adjusted 4/1 because I was able to get my lunchtime walk in yesterday because it wasn't raining so bad]

I was never that big a Fleetwood Mac fan, possibly because, growing up as I did in the 1970s, it was pert-near impossible to escape Rumours, which got played into the ground, especially the Stevie Nicks songs; and I never particularly liked her songs or her voice.

I always liked Lindsey Buckingham's songs, though; but even more than his songs, I liked his style(s) of guitar-playing. I happen to think he's one of the most under-rated guitarists in rock. No one seems to notice his stellar playing, though, even though he is an excellent player in quite a few different styles. (He did not make the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, for example.)

"Hold Me" is not a Buckingham song, but I've been fascinated by one of the guitar parts on it for quite some time, possibly because, musical fucktard that I am, it took me quite some time to realize it was a guitar part:


It's a good song, with evocative lyrics; it's a Christine McVie song, which I did not know till I looked it up today; there are multiple voices on it and, to my ear, Buckingham's is the most prominent and I therefore assumed it was his song.

But even though Buckingham didn't write it or sing lead on it, to me, it still is his song because of that guitar part. You don't hear it right away; this being a C. McVie song, the  first instrument you hear is her piano. The guitar part I'm referring to comes in (or first becomes audible) at the 40 second mark of the video above. It consists of a kinda "tock-tock-tock" sound; I guess I always knew it was there, but until relatively recently, it never occurred to me to try to figure out what instrument was making that sound. I guess I had always assumed it was some light percussion instrument, like a block or something.

But after I keyed on it for some reason or other (possibly because it was more noticeable when heard with earbuds directly in my ears), it finally dawned on me that this was a guitar, one of the many guitar parts in the song (there's also an acoustic guitar being played, which is prominently isolated for a few strums at the 2:12 mark; and at least two more conventional-sounding electric guitar parts). Evidently, throughout just about the whole song, Buckingham is producing this tocky-y rhythmic sound by (this is pure speculation on my part) finger-picking harmonics and intentionally deadening the sound. You can still hear that they are distinct notes, but they don't sound like they're being played on a guitar; at first blush, they don't even sound like notes, at least not to my naive ear.

This makes for a pretty unique sound, though it is far from prominent in the song; it's just one of many guitar things going on. And in fact, the only reason I was able to figure out that this is what LB was doing was because, just after the musical break, at roughly the 2:38 mark, the tock-y guitar part comes back in; at the 2:50 mark you can hear a few unmistakably "guitar-y" notes escaping for the tock-y guitar; and then at the 2:57 mark Buckingham segues straight from the "tocks" to a distinctly guitar-y wail, giving up on the "tocks" for the remainder of the song.

I play the guitar, but incompetently. I have no idea how hard that style of playing is (I know it is faaaaaaarrrr beyond my capabilities), but I find it to be inventive and entrancing and, now that I have noticed it, it is always the thing I notice  most about "Hold Me" and, hence, why I consider it a Lindsey Buckingham song.

It is far from the only Fleetwood Mac song that I think is made notable, if not outright spectacular, by the deft guitar work of Lindsey Buckingham.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dudes! You Must All Learn That Gnome Means Noam

I just got my replacement Popener in the mail from Xenia and, at the risk of sounding like an ingrate, the first thing I noticed when I opened the package — and I noticed it with some dismay and chagrin — was that the Popener was accompanied by what Xenia herself called a "felt Gnome" (see picture):
I immediately recognized the implied insult in this addition: Xenia was insinuating that I was some sort of Depraved Gnome-osexual.
 Passive-aggressive note that accompanied the Popener and Gnome. If you read between the lines, you'll notice the Gnome-ophobic slurs and you'll also see where X implies I'm worse than Hitler. Sure, X! Call me HITLER then end with a smiley face — LIKE THAT MAKES IT ALL BETTER!1!

Well the joke's on Xenia because since the package arrived? I've fucked that Gnome seven ways from Sunday. And if it wasn't felt before, believe me, it's been felt now because I was ALL hands1! AND IT LOVED EVERY MINUTE2 OF IT!1!

The lesson here is if you're going to call me a Gnome-osexual, get it right: I'm actually a Noamosexual because I lurves me the political writings of famous American Dissident Noam "Cunning Linguist" Chomsky.

HUBBA!1!
In any case, this is about as close as I'll ever get to saying "Thanks", Xenia, so just take what you can get. (That gnome sure did! And THEN SOME!1!)3

Just mapped out a 6.2-mile run, which I hope to start in about a half-hour.

UPDATE 6:30 a.m.: Ran 6.45 miles in an hour for a 9:18 pace.

1 "Hands" here being, of course, code for "penis".

2 Full Disclosure: I rarely last a full minute.

3 On the anticipated objectionss from some quarters that perhaps my disquisition on gnome-fucking goes just a bit too far, is a little beyond the pale:

I just last night started reading Shxpr's Two Noble Kinsmen (the last of the canonical plays that I have not yet read) and these here are the honest-to-Jebus first lines:
New Playes, and Maydenheads, are neare a kin,
Much follow'd both, for both much mony g'yn, [...]
New plays are like a virgin's cherry, quoth the fucking Bard!

I think my tales of gnome-fucking are restrained in comparison.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Harlot Farmers

Today is not my usual day to do QandA but I was covering for a colleague from 9 to 10 and fielded six questions (I could easily have had more because it was busy). Among the six was this here one, which, the more I think about it, has got to be my all-time favorite:

"WHAT HORES FARM WAS NAMED FOR A BAKEING POWERED BUSINESS"

Yeah, the patron was YELLING at me the whole time, which is always fun.

But after first noticing that the patron was a Capital Letter-Lovin' anti-j'og, I then noticed that, thanks to all the misspellings, I couldn't at first tell what the patron was actually asking. I finally decided she meant "What horse farm", not "What whore's farm" - though I guess it's not impossible that Snooki or Paris Hilton or Teh Merry's Bike might own a farm and might have named it after a baking powder company.

But that was unlikely.

So I went on the assumption that "horse farm" is what was intended.

So I responded: "Hi, [patron]! Hold on while I see what I can find."

Turns out this shouted question was pretty easy to find the answer to. But while I was searching, the impatient patron writes, yet again: "WHAT HORES FARM WAS NAMED FOR A BAKING POWERD BUNIESS" - evidently still on the lookout for new and better ways to yell misspellings at me.

There was really no need to yell, because I had already found, and was just about to push to the patron, this page. [The Q&A software pushes the actual PAGE to the patron when you send her the URL. So she had this Wikipedia page to look at, the VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH (pardon my yelling) of which is: "Calumet Farm is a 762 acre (3.1 km) Thoroughbred breeding and training farm established in 1924 in Lexington, Kentucky, United States by William Monroe Wright, founding owner of the Calumet Baking Powder Company."]

So I politely ask (as I always do): "Do you see the page I just sent you?" and "I believe it contains the answer to your question." [Okay. This may seem a dickishly roundabout way to provide an answer to a question, but, as a reference librarian, I am obliged to provide a source for my answers, no matter how ridiculously simple the question might be.]

No response from YELLY PANTS.

So I ask: "Do you have all the information that you need?"

At which point the patron screams at me: "WHAT IS THE AWENSWER"

To which yelp I respond with the following quote from the Wiki page: "'Calumet Farm is a 762 acre (3.1 km) Thoroughbred breeding and training farm established in 1924 in Lexington, Kentucky, United States by William Monroe Wright, founding owner of the Calumet Baking Powder Company.'"

So now I have, I think, successfully pre-chewed this morsel and spit it directly into ANGRY YELLY BIRD's mouth.

And I ask: "Do you have all the information that you need?"

Response: "NO"

Me: "Okay. What else can I do for you?"

No response for over 5 minutes.

At which point I send the following (canned) script: "We have some other people waiting for help, so I'll need to log off now. If you need further help, please feel free to log in again. It's been a pleasure serving you at QandANJ.org."

And I gracefully exit the session.

And when I go out to see if any other questions are waiting in the queue, what do I see but this:



*Sigh* At least she learned how to spell "BUSINESS".

Laud We Teh Gods (Goo Goo G'Joob)

Last night, I finally — finally — finished Cymbeline. The fact that it took me so long should in no way be taken as a reflection on the play itself which, though far from great, is okay; it's really more a reflection of my own sloth and lack of focus of late. Rather than bore you with details about that, instead I'll bore you with details about the play because when it comes to boring you? I am far from a one-trick pony1.

Anyroad.

Unless you're a total fucktard, you already know that at the end of Teh Beatles' "I Am Teh Walrus", you can hear certain lines from Shxpr's King Lear2, specifically these here:
OSWALD
Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;
And give the letters which thou find'st about me
To Edmund earl of Gloucester; seek him out
Upon the British party: O, untimely death!

Dies

EDGAR
I know thee well: a serviceable villain;
As duteous to the vices of thy mistress
As badness would desire.

GLOUCESTER
What, is he dead?

EDGAR
Sit you down, father; rest you
This is from Act IV, Scene vi of Lear and is the scene in which the disguised Edgar kills Oswald in a sword fight. Edgar identifies Oswald, who is Goneril's manservant, as "a serviceable villain;/ As duteous to the vices of thy mistress/ As badness would desire"; this is an important theme in Lear: The role of servants and the issue of when it is a good servant's duty to defy the wishes of his master (or mistress) because he (or she) has gone astray. As Edgar notes, Oswald, in this sense, is a bad servant, because, though "duteous", he is so in service to Goneril's vices, which, if you've read the play, are legion. (There's a reason her name sounds like an STD. So maybe her vices are also lesion. HAR!1!)

This same theme is developed in Cymbeline and, just as in Lear, the question of what the bond between servant and master should be is extended to other bonds as well, especially the nature of the bond between parent and child. King Cymbeline takes a hardline approach toward his daughter Imogen when she defies him by marrying a man below her station; he exiles her husband Leonatus Posthumous, just as Lear exiles Cordelia when she refuses to play along with Lear's public tell-me-how-much-you-love-me game. What binds one person to another just in general is a major theme of both plays.

Lear, of course, does a far better and more thorough job of exploring this theme. But Cymbeline does a pretty creditable job. When the exiled Posthumous sends a letter ordering his servant Pisanio to murder his wife Imogen (Posthumous has been tricked into thinking she has cuckolded him), Pisanio, upon reading the letter, soliloquizes:
PISANIO
How? of adultery? Wherefore write you not
What monster's her accuser? Leonatus,
O master! what a strange infection
Is fall'n into thy ear! What false Italian,
As poisonous-tongued as handed, hath prevail'd
On thy too ready hearing? Disloyal! No:
She's punish'd for her truth, and undergoes,
More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults
As would take in some virtue. O my master!
Thy mind to her is now as low as were
Thy fortunes. How! that I should murder her?
Upon the love and truth and vows which I
Have made to thy command? I, her? her blood?
If it be so to do good service, never
Let me be counted serviceable. How look I,
That I should seem to lack humanity
so much as this fact comes to? [emphasis added]
If doing this bidding of yours makes me a good servant, Pisanio thinks, then never call me serviceable. Cf. Lear's Oswald who is "as serviceable to [his] mistress as badness would desire". Pisanio is more like Lear's Kent, who, when banished by Lear for daring to defy Lear when his wrath causes him to act rashly, disguises himself and comes back to serve Lear and keep an eye on him.

This theme of what constitutes Proper Bonds is pretty overtly developed throughout the play, so I won't belabor it any further. Instead I will note that Cymbeline is now classified as a Romance whereas Lear is, obviously, a tragedy. Of course Shakespeare himself did not so classify it and Cymbeline was, in the First Folio of 1623, itself classified as a tragedy. It's not ... unless you have a really broad definition of "tragedy"; the play's a little too dark to be considered a comedy, though. (One of the characters is decapitated and both his bodiless head and headless body are brought on stage — kinda hard to laugh off; but the guy, Cloten, was a real dick so it's really not that disturbing.) Cymbeline is a prime example of why latter-day scholars came up with this fourth Shakespearean play-type, "Romance" (the First Folio acknowledges only "Comedies, Histories & Tragedies").

Thus, Cymbeline can be forgiven, to an extent, for not being as effective as Lear because the latter is a genuine tragedy. But I think Cymbeline is actually not even as effective as a romance as Pericles, even though Pericles is a far more problematic play textually than Cymbeline. Pericles has just a ton of corrupt passages and parts of it were probably not written by Shakespeare, or, if they were, they were written on a day he was feeling particularly uninspired. Yet despite Pericles' not-quite-finished feel, its resolution is far more affecting than Cymbeline's, particularly the scene in which Pericles is reunited with his long-lost daughter, Marina — a scene that brought a tear to my eye.

In Cymbeline, Posthumous and Imogen are re-united, as are Cymbeline and Imogen and a few others ... let's just say there are reunitings in overplus in the last scene of Cymbeline, but none is as powerful as the Pericles-Marina scene in Pericles. Cymbeline, Imogen and Posthumous are just far harder to care about than Marina and Pericles, but, despite that, the reunitings in the last scene of Cymbeline are handled a lot better and more affectingly than I had anticipated. For which,
Laud we the gods;
And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils
From our blest altars.
Goo Goo G'Joob.

1 Not that I've ever turned a trick with a pony. In fact, I changed my college major from Animal Husbandry to English when I found out that I had fundamentally misunderstood what "animal husbandry" entailed, which, take my word for it, isn't that interesting or, let's just say ... "hands-on". Bummer. (<-- Totally stole this joke from Tom Lehrer. I'm pretty sure I've used it before, too.)

2 I am totally fucking with your brainpan! Because even though I think I've mentioned this "IAtW" weirdness on this here very blog before, you wouldn't have remembered it or cared about it unless you, like me, were a total Beatles Geek.

In any case, "IAtW" is a weird enough song on its own, but among its more obscure weirdnesses (an example of a less obscure one being the lyrics, which, though themselves obscure in meaning, are at least easily discernible) is the fact that John had a radio on while they were recording it and the radio was playing a BBC version of King Lear. At the 3:57 mark of the video I link to above, you can clearly hear, in the background (as long as you know its there), Oswald saying "Villain, take my purse ..." and then the rest is pretty clear too, when you know what they're saying.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Did Not Run Today

... though I did do some yoga, exercise and p*$$y-@$$ recumbent biking. So, you know, there's that.

The not-running today means I probably won't hit 120 miles this month, which, had I done so, would have put me at 300 for the year and thus back on pace to do 1200 by year's end. But that's okay. Unless this crappy weather continues, I should be able to make up some of that 20 mile deficit this month and as the Spring and Summer months roll in, I can chip away at it slowly, slowly, which is also how I run.

Coming up in just over a week: My first race since the Turkey Trot — a 5k along the Delaware River. I can't believe I went over 4 months without having a race, but I did. Upon further investigation, it appears I do this race-hibernation every year, so not racing after the Trot till April would seem to be status quo. At the end of April? A 15k race.

Other News

For those of you who don't read my tweets, the H'berg family just got an iPad and WiFi. This was Teh 'Bride's idea and project so it happened quickly; whereas when I wanted to upgrade from 56k dial-up to broadband a year or two ago, I had to go on a pilgrimage and slay a dragon first1. In any case, she ansd Ian spent most of yesterday downloading apps, one of which was for me — the compleat works of one Wm Shxpr. So last night I was reading the 5th act of Cymbeline — which is the play I'm on now (and when I finish it, there will be only one more that I haven't read, viz., Two Noble Kinsmen, which will be next) — in bed on the iPad and thus for the first time was not in danger  of being crushed to death by Teh Riverside Shxpr, which weighs roughly infinity.

So ... win-win, right?

Wrong. Because the WiFi signal reaces up there to the bedroom all the way from the basement (as it ought to) and so after reading like ONE scene of Cymbeline, I was, of course, tweeting2, watching Funny or Die videos, and just generally fucking off on the Interwebs.

At this rate, I may never get to Two Noble Kinsmen.

Those of you who have noticed that I haven't posted anything on Shxpr in awhile and wish I would — or as I like to call you collectively, "Teh Null Set" —should take comfort (or more likely "take to the hills") because I will be writing something about Cymbeline pretty soon.

That's a threat. And I always follow through on my threats.

1 I may have accidentally gone on a dragonage1a and slain a Pilgrim instead, but it's all good. Fucking Pilgrim has it coming, always strutting around with that cool hat with the buckle on it!1!

1a Word o' teh Day: "Dragonage": A pilgrimage in drag; usually undertaken by acolytes of Teh Church of Teh Poison Mind, whose High Priestesses are Boy George and RBR, whom you never see in the same room at the same time NOT because they are one and the same person but rather because they share the same wardrobe:

2 This here, by the way, is what it was so important for me to tweet last night:

"Tweet from bed, b*tches!! With wifi!1!1"

See what you're missing, non-followers?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Upsiedaties!

Or, as some would call them, Updates:

Look, I'm not saying this makes me the most pathetic person in Teh Blogosphere (because as far as I know, Teh Peachy Escargot still lives and blogs), but it does put me right up there and calm down I'm getting to what exactly the "it" I'm referring to is. Geez, chill already!

You'll recall that I won a Popener from a certain pneumatic, hoity-toity, arugala-eating, so-far-over-on-teh-East-Coast-she's-in-England, egghead-intellectual blogger who shall remain nameless but her name rhymes with "Wienier"1 (which is what you call someone who's an even bigger wiener than someone else). Then it broke. Obsessive chronicler of the meaningless minutia of my own life that I be, I blogged about both of these occurrences; viz. Teh Winning and Teh Breaking of Teh Popener.

Well, allegedly I'm getting a new Popener, which is "in the mail", but until it comes2, this is what I've been opening my beers with:

Yeah, that's a fake-donut-with-sprinkles-on-it bottle opener, which I believe is a Simpsons Movie tchotchke that I picked up somewhere or other. It is virtually unbreakable, but not what you'd call very functional. I mean, if you expend sufficient energy, you can get it to open a beer bottle despite the fact that the donut part gets in the way of the opener part — but it ain't easy. That's why it'll never be Pope, although I'm pretty sure Scientologists would be willing to worship it. (KERTWANG!1! to all you Scientologists who read this blog!1! Hahahahaha! Your Messiah is short and hasn't made a decent movie since Rainman!1!)

The next update is baseball-related:

Ian got a new batting helmet but hasn't quite figgered out how to wear it, yet:
He's taller and more animate than a donut-shaped bottle opener so Scientologists would probably not worship him, but they might beatify the helmet since I think it might help defeat bad engrams.


Managed to run 16 miles over the weekend, which is putting me in a good position to recoup the 20 miles total I fell behind in my pursuit of a 1200-mile year; I ran a mere 90 miles each in January and February; but March could be a 120-mile month. Then if I could just manage to run consistent 100-mile months for the rest of the year ...

Hahahahahaha! Like that'll happen!

1 I am, of course, assuming here that you have one of those thick Boston accents that puts R's where they don't belong, which accents, by the way, are even wienier than NYC accents, if not whinier. Because if you're from Boston, you probably pronounce "Xenia" "Xeniar", not that that's whom I'm talking about, you stupid fucking Massachusetts Mick.

2 But Popeners have, unfortunately, taken a solemn vow not to, though there's no real reason for that.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chase Utley Lives!

A couple of posts ago1, I told you about the fact that Ian's room was in the process (since finished) of being painted; and that the painter — Teh Fantastic Mr. Fox — was going to paint a big Phillies "P" on the wall.

Well, we jettisoned the latter plan because we found some Fathead wall stickers online, and when Ian saw he could get a half-size Chase Utley wall sticker, all bets were off:

This here is the Phillies Logo that was included with the Chase Utley Sticker ...
... and this here is the Chase Utley sticker itself. It was difficult getting this pic because Ian decided he wanted the sticker on the pented wall in his room and so I had to lie on my back on the floor to get this pic because if I shot it straight on from a standing position, Chase looked like this:
 ... i.e., kinda like a midget little person, with short, stumpy legs, which, if he were a midget little person in real life, he'd be Teh 'Bride's favorite player, what with her freakish obsession with little people and all ... This angle also kinda makes him look like Stretch Armstrong:
Anyroad, Chase is Ian's favorite player, and even though Chase is injured and we have no idea when (or if) he'll be back this season, all you Utley Phans out there can take comfort in knowing Chase Lives on Ian's bedroom wall.

Yesterday, Ian and I played ball for about 45 minutes before dinner; per the usual agreement, on his last hit, I had to chase the ball down and race him to home plate, he trying to score, I trying to get him out before he gets to the plate. Of course, he gave the last pitch a ride into deep right (he's been taking me long a lot of late), and I was like, "Really?" And I was determined to get him out for making me have to run so far. And so when I get the ball, he's already rounded second and I'm screaming, "YOU'RE A DEAD MAN!1!" and he's giggling as he runs and is almost out of breath and then it's a footrace to the plate and he just beats me there and a couple people in the park were watching us and they cheered as Ian crossed the plate safely, out of breath from running and laughing.

I'll get him next time.

1 No, I'm not going to conveniently link back to the post referred to because even if I did, none of you would click that link. I used to be okay with that, but now? I think you people are just fucking arbitrary. No, hear me out on this — if, at the end of this anti-you diatribe, you don't agree with me that you are totally lame and owe me an apology, I hereby grant you leave to stop reading this here post and go on about your business, guilt-free1a.

So okay, here's the thing: When I link back to one of my own older posts, you never click that link. I know because I look at my stats and I can tell. The only older posts of mine that people ever look at are the one I did called R2C2 (4 Phillies Phans Only), which I never link to (it's just various pix of the Phils' four starting aces, Roy, Roy, Cole and Cliff (hence, R2C2)), and, for some reason, a post I did on the Fairport Convention song "Tam Lin" (search phrases including the word "kirtle green" continue to show up in my stats on a regular basis and I am forced to conclude that there is a small, but persistent and die-hard, group of Lovers of Teh Legend of "Tam Lin" out there, which who knew?). Okay? I appreciate the visits of these foax who never leave comments (selfish bastards!) but those people come here independent of any promotion on my part. Those people are are not you who are reading this now; they find me, take what they want from me, then just dump me, leaving me feeling like a total whoo-wer1b.

But okay, so you don't follow my self-promoting, borderline masturbatory links. Fine.

Except.

Except that like yesterday, a Random Tranny links to one of my older posts in one of her posts and then that post of mine gets more hits in 10 hours than the rest of my blog posts combined!1! According to Blogger, I have 19 "Followers"1c (most of whom I suspect "follow" me in about the same way that Charlie Sheen is "winning!"); but RBR? She has fucking minions. People who do her bidding! People whom she can bend to her will!1! Look, look, it's not that I'm jealous or envious or want to beat her @$$ for being a successful cult leader or find out what brand of TigerBlood she drinks1d; and I know this makes me sound like an ingrate, but that's just because I'm winning! and you're not. But geez, people. What do I gotta do? And don't say fewer footnotes cos — Pfffttt! — we all know that ain't happening.

In conclusion: Winning!1!

1a (Offer not valid if you're Catholic because even I don't have that kind of juice.)

1b It's a good feeling.

1c The really funny part? It took me all this time to get nineteen people who were willing to "follow" my blog? But now that I've been on Teh Tweeter for a week? I was up to 19 followers in like three days!1! Of course, I'm down to 17 now, having lost two for some reason or other; and of the 17, quite a few are, frankly, trolls, like Ariel Vanean, whose tweets consist of observations such as: "amazingly Ariel Vanean is the most favorite belami boy that you need to see naked #belami" and "Photo: Justin sucking on Dolphs big fat uncut cock! #hotboys #bigdicks #uncut #jocks #BelAmi" which latter included an URL which I suspects leads to a photo depicting what the tweet advertises but I wouldn't know because no I didn't follow it because even though Ariel Vanean follows me, I have not returned the favor because I really don't need photos of big fat uncut cocks being sucked. Also? I suspect, though I can't prove it, that somehow it's Teh Peachy Escargot's fault that Ariel Vanean follows me. It is completely within the realm of possibility that AV is Teh Escargot's alterego, totally fabricated by him just to see if he could get me to click a link that will allegedly lead to sucking yada and uncut blah, etc., etc. But the only way I could prove this theory is to click the link, which I refuse to do. So in the absence of proof, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that Ariel IS Teh 'Escargot.

I sure hope Ariel doesn't stop following me because so far? He's the hawtest of all my followers; and also I'd then be down to 16 followers. And if I keep hemorrhaging followers like this I'll lose my corporate sponsorship.

1d Full Disclosure: That's a total lie. I am, and want to do, all those things. And that alone I think should qualify me to be a cult leader. Which brings me back to my main point: What the fuck is it with you people that I am not? I'm doing my part — drinking tigerblood daily and winning! It gives me the strength of Two and a Half Men!1! What are you doing to help my cult?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hanq Cinq

I've mentioned before that Hal from the Henry IV plays is one of my favorite Shakespeare characters, possibly because he, like me, was a bit of a late bloomer; now, I won't say I went on, after sucking in early life, to win a battle for my country that is the equivalent of Hal's Victory at Agincourt (French for "Court of Teh [v]Agin[a]"), but I did run an extra 1/100th of a mile in my 6.91-mile run this morning so FUCK YOU, PEACHY ESCARGOT, JUST FUCK YOU!1!!1!1

As I wrote when I discussed the Henry IV plays, they are about Hal's coming of age, about his giving up of the selfish and hedonistic ways of his youth to become a man worthy of a kingdom. In 1HIV, he proves himself in battle against his counterpart, Hotspur; in 2HIV, he rejects Falstaff (and the sybaritic lifestyle he represents) entirely and, rather than take revenge upon the Chief Justice who had had him jailed for his youthful transgressions, Hal praises him for his impartiality and adherence to the rule of law as it pertains to all, both high and low.

Henry V is about Hal becoming the warrior king he had always had the potential to become. There is little humor in Henry V — Falstaff dies in it, but the death happens offstage and is merely reported and not dwelt upon. Henry V, while not entirely bereft of humor, is a far more serious drama because the stakes are much higher and the odds that need to be overcome are much greater. Some of Shakespeare's most rousing speeches are in this play, not the least of which is Henry's own St. Crispin's Day speech, in which he convinces his men that they should embrace the fact that they will face overwhelming odds at Agincourt come dawn because the glory of victory will be all the greater. That's a tough sell. Henry's men buy it, but, more important, so will you, the reader (or, if you're lucky enough to see a performance, you, the audience).

After reading the play then going back to read The Riverside Shakespeare's introduction to the play, I was taken aback by the fact that Herschel Baker, the introduction's author, opted to dwell on past "critical dissatisfaction" with the play. Hazlitt, Johnson and a few others take turns taking a dump on Henry V, mostly because of the character of Henry V. They are especially harsh regarding the play's ending. At the end of the play, when Henry woos the King of France's daughter (who speaks little English2), it certainly strains credulity, but I think a case could be made that Shakespeare hits the exact right note with the air of awkwardness and unbelievability of that scene. Henry, after all, is wooing the daughter of the French King, whose county He has just basically taken over; and the marriage (the actual, historical one) was more a Realpolitik consolidation-of-interests deal than a Love Match; yet Shakespeare attempts to sell it as a love match nonetheless, but doesn't sell it very well — intentionally? Who knows? Still, to my mind, the scene has a certain charm to it, and I caught how Branagh and Thompson did it and it is, in its way, touching, as Henry tries to win a heart without having command of the typical lover's words. Katherine does not speak the English language; Henry does not speak the language of love. Until he does.

That, I think, is the point of this scene, not its weakness.

1 He knows what he did!1!!1! As for the undoubtedly confused rest of you, let me put it this way: Tweets can HURT, you know!1! So don't be a hatah and a character Tweetsasinator.

2 One of the few humorous interludes in the play is the scene in which Katherine attempts to learn English from her attendant, Alice, but is embarrassed when the English she speaks ends up sounding like a French vulgarity. I'd tell you what, but I don't use vulgarities on this blog, especially not bilingual punning vulgarities.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Broken Popener; Or, EFFIN XENIA!1!

Yeah, EFFIN1 XENIA!1! Last night? In celebration of Ian's Gotcha Day? I go to open a bottle of ESB I brewed — which had been conditioning for only 5 days, really too early to drink by at least a week, but I wanted to see how it turned out — with Teh Effin Popener that Effin Xenia gave me and guess what?

Here's what:

I debated internally going with writing 1000 words about what happened to Teh Popener, but in the end, I decided, No — go with the picture. See? Twittering has made me far more concise! That there above, for those of you who aren't Catholic, is a Broken Popener.

I spent the rest of the evening burning everything in the house that I could think of that might generate White Smoke in hopes that the smoke would be copious enough to reach Jolly Ol'2, where currently-blogospherically-sabbaticalling Xenia resides, and thus inform her that Teh Old Popener Was Dead And We Needed A New One, but it didn't Effin Work!1! Also? It may have been a tactical mistake because our house doesn't have a fireplace3.

I Effin Forgive Effin Xenia, though. Not because Teh P'ener was a crappy tchotchke4 to begin with and was living on borrowed time right from the moment it popped its first cap off a bottle o' beer ... no, that's not why. I forgive her because, as I said right in this here post, the whole POINT of the Popener is NOT to have one so you can complain about how you don't have one and how everyone else who has one is less worthy of it than you!1!! And now, THANKS TO EFFIN XENIA, I don't have one DESPITE my worthiness!1! Why does she hate and mistreat me so? What did I ever EFFIN DO TO HER?!1??

This here, below, will give you an idea of the color Ian's bedroom walls now are:


That's a robot with spiky hair and freckles that Ian painted on the wall, which has since been painted over. The original version of the robot also had a penis and n*ts@ck, but Teh 'Bride, who is evidently a prude, made Ian go back up to it with a paint brush and neuter it. After which, it sorta looked like this for awhile.


But it got better5.

1 Fucking lucky for Fucking Xenia that I fucking gave up cursing, especially the "F"-Word, for Fucking Lent1a!

1a I did, of course, negotiate a Footnotal Exemption on This Lenten Prohibition of Teh Word "Fuck". Teh 'Dad, you see, was Jesuit-trained and I learned the Society of Jebus Tergiversational skills at his knee.

2 I.e., England.

3 But it will when we get the insurance money and start rebuilding.

4 Spellcheck didn't know the word "tchotchke" and tried to convince me that the word I wanted was "crotchless".  Fucking Xenia, don't you DARE send me a crotchless Popener as a replacement, you FUCKING HEATHEN!1!

5 On the off-chance that you read this post FUCKING XENIA, I want you to know I included that picture to show you there are no hard feelings because I know how much you like that picture.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gothcha Day

Eleven years ago on this very day, Teh 'Bride and I traveled to Newark Airport to pick up an Important Package — that package being our newly-adopted son, Ian. He was three-and-a-half months old at the time. He was flying in from Korea, escorted by a young Korean woman, many of whom, our adoption agency case worker had told us, were typically paid for their services with that very same free transportation to the US. The young woman barely spoke any English, but she was all smiles when she told us: "He poop three time!" (Whew! we thought. At least that part of him works1!)

I'd like to say that this represented the end of what was, at the time, a more-than-one-year-long process, but of course it didn't. There was still a lot of paperwork to do, finalizing the adoption, getting Ian full citizenship, etc. To expect it to be over after Ian's safe arrival would be the equivalent of a biological parent thinking Whew! Glad that's over! after she gave birth. It — no matter how you define the "it" of parenting — never ends. The adoption process just naturally segued into the parenting process, which latter goes on to this day; and for me will, God willing, continue until they carry my lifeless carcass out of this house in a plain pine box — something I hope will not happen for a long, long time.

 Incredibly crappy picture priceless picture of us with the judge who made Ian a naturalized citizen. [Caption amended per trailturtle.]

Ian's eleven years old now, which never fails to blow my mind when I stop to think about it, which I often do. He actually still likes it when we tell him about the funny little things he used to do as a baby, a toddler, a kid ... because he's accepted the fact that he is no longer a baby, a toddler, a kid — which is far more than I've allowed myself to do — and so those stories, for him, might just as well be about some other kid, not him; I, of course, will always see him as that baby, that toddler, that kid. While not losing sight of that former-Ian, I trust I am also accepting him as he is now, dealing with him on terms that are appropriate for an eleven-year-old boy. It's funny to remind him that he didn't learn the first-person singular personal pronoun until looong after he learned to speak and, hence, for the longest time would refer to himself as "Ian": "Ian hungry, Daddy"; or (my personal favorite, which I constantly tell him about) that time I didn't put enough chocolate syrup in his sippy cup of milk and he, after taking a sip, held it back up to me and said: "Ian no feel no choklit." I totally lost it laughing and squeezed about half a bottle more syrup into his cup as a reward for his being so unintentionally funny.

So I don't (can't) lose sight of those things, but I try to enjoy who he is now, too — which is easy enough to do. He's a great kid. At this moment, his room is being painted by our handyman guy — Teh Fantastic Mr. Fox — and Ian opted for a darkish blue color. That part is already done, but that doesn't matter: What matters is he got Mr. Fox to agree to try to paint a giant Phillies "P" on his wall. That still hasn't happened but, believe me, it will ... or heads will roll.

Ian got a little bit interested in the Phillies a couple of years ago; I myself, at the time, hadn't followed them in what must have been decades. I had other, more important things to do. Now, thanks to Ian, little else is as important as the Phillies! Because his interest in baseball has grown exponentially over the past two years. We've already got our tickets for three different games in this upcoming season, and in all likelihood we'll go to a few more. (We went to one game last year; I hadn't been to a game in I don't know how long. Possibly not since the late 1970s.) The Phillies got knocked out of the running in the National League Championship series last year, but, despite that, gave us an exciting season. Yes, I now care enough to want the Phillies to do well, which is a gift my son gave back to me — continues to give back to me.

It is an egregious and unforgivable cliché to claim baseball (or any sport) is a metaphor for something else; let that first half of this sentence serve as fair warning that Here Comes a Cliché2:

Back in August of 2010, Ian and I were watching the Phils play a game against the Dodgers on TV, a rare treat for us because we get NY stations where we live and thus never get to see the Phils unless they play the Yankees or the Mets or are on national TV. (We ordered the MLB package on DirecTV for this season.) Anyroad, it was a night game and it was getting late and since the Phillies were going to lose anyway — they were down by seven runs in the eighth — I sent Ian to bed, probably around 10:00 p.m., because I'm the Dad, the authority, and I can do that. "They lost," I said: "Bedtime."

Ian of course didn't want to go, and I could hear him there upstairs NOT going to bed; just rattling around. "What are you doing!" I demanded. "I hafta pee!" "AGAIN?!!?" "I HAFTA PEE!!!"

He was pulling out all the stops, but I'm the Dad — his superior, the voice of authority. "Get to BED!!!"

Then a funny thing happened. The Phils scored a few runs in the 8th, and Ian was still upstairs "peeing" or something  unrelated to going to sleep, so I, still not believing this was the beginning of a comeback, relented and said, "Okay, Ian, the Phils are at least making a game of it. Come on back down."

He was already at the top of the stairs, so he was down in a second.

"They're gonna lose, but they're making it interesting."

"They could come back," Ian said.

"Never happen. They're still down by three runs and it's the 9th. Never happen."

But it did. They won that game 10-9. (They did things like that a lot last year.)

And I realized the only reason it mean so much to me was that I was sharing that experience with my son — not as his superior, as his better, as his Dad, as The Authoritythat was the guy who'd sent him to bed — but rather as his peer, as just another guy who loved his home team. We were equals in this experience and I hoped in my heart of hearts that the comeback I didn't believe would happen would happen, but it would mean so much less to me if I didn't experience the win with the one person in the world I most wanted to share it with:

My son. My friend.

I guess it was then that I first consciously realized that our relationship had changed. I was still his Dad, but I was also his peer, because I had decided that we were also friends ... that I wanted to be his friend. And he was aching to be mine.

"See? SEE!?!" Ian excitedly screamed as the rest of the Phils mobbed Chooch after he got the game-winning hit: "You always say they can't come back! Then they do! I told you! I TOLD YOU!"

"You were right! When will I ever learn, Ian?"

I am lucky to have him to teach me.

1 Update: Still does.

2 Specifically: Baseball as metaphor for Male Bonding Experience.