Friday, December 26, 2008

The Christmas Betting Line: The Results!

Not only was Christmas great in general, but I did VERY well when it came to my predictions!


OXO® Silicone Oven Mitt with Magnet

1/1 or 2/1: I will get an oven mitt (hence the first set of odds), I am less confident that I will get the exact one I requested.

I got this one exactly right.

Microwaveable covered dish

3/2: I will be shocked, shocked, if I do not receive this gift.

I did not get this, but I did get a cover that can be used to cover a dish in the microwave, so I'm calling this one a "push."

iPod “Shuffle” (2G)

100/1: Not a chance.

I got it, and I couldn't be happier to be wrong!

GPS for my car

500/1: Even less of a chance than the iPod.

Got it- from my brother no less!- and, again, I'm glad to be wrong.

Age of Empires “Asian Dynasties Expansion Pack”

50/1: Slim chance.

Didn't get it, so I'm right.

FIFA '09 for PlayStation 3

10/1: Much easier to find than the previous game. If I do get this, my brother will be responsible for it, whether giving it directly, or getting it so my Mom can give it to me.

My brother got it for me.

Hoover SS220 Flair bagless, upright stick vacuum with power nozzle

2/1: Much like the humidifier I asked for last year, this one is pretty much a lock- practical, reasonably priced, and I actually want it. That being said, it doesn't cost any more than the iPod, which I'd rather have!

As I said, "a lock."

Victorinox Swiss Army Knives: A “Mini-Champ” and any one of the following: Nomad, Mountaineer, Trailmaster, Picknicker, Hunter, Outrider, or Rucksack.

3/1 or 10/1: I will probably get one of these knives, and I'm pretty certain it will be the "Mini-Champ."

I'm almost frightened by how perfectly I got this one.

Fleece duvet/comforter cover- flannel would be my 2nd choice

4/1 or 10/1: I will get a duvet cover...but probably not a fleece one. Maybe not even a flannel one. I probably should include a third set of odds, but I'm not going to.

Missed this one completely.

George Foreman Next Grilleration 4-Burger Grill w/ Removable Plates

20/1: If I'm wrong about any gift on this list, it will probably be this one. It might be too practical for my family to pass on.

I'm going to call this one a push as well- the odds were longish and my Mom told me she got me the iPod instead...which is the way I would have wanted it!

A wood/glass case for the flag that covered my grandfather's casket


1/1: This one is almost unfair. Not expensive and super sentimental. I almost feel bad for putting any odds on it at all.

As I was saying- unfair. It's already got the flag inside it and proudly displayed.

Small iPod compatible clock/radio

50/1: Even though I specifically suggested two different models, I will likely get neither.

I was right, I didn't get either one- but I got one, so I'm wrong. Make sense?

Alright, let's total things up:

Right: 6

Wrong: 4

Push: 2

Not "great," but much better than last year's predictions!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Partial Vindication

Once again*, somebody has independently supported my position as a "culture snob."**

Virginia Heffernan's review of Sarah Vowell's new book (click to title of this post if you'd like to read it) has reassured me that I'm not the only one who finds Ms. Vowell and her ilk to be annoying. Allow me to illustrate "her ilk" by taking a look at one of her stomping grounds- NPR.

First off, I don't mind their news coverage. Really. "All Things Considered" and "Weekend Edition" are better than 99% of the other news programs on the radio. That being said...

"It's Only A Game": A "not bad" sports show. It could be a "good" sports show if they never, ever had Charlie Pierce on again. His faux indignation/surprise/anger are truly exasperating.

"Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me": The world's easiest and least funny quiz show. The host (I'm too disinterested to look up his name) is just not funny and his quasi-psuedo-famous panel of the has-been, never-was, who's-that-agains? are no better. The announcer will record my voice mail message if I win?! Shoot me.

"A Prarie Home Companion": Well, well, aren't you all very droll. At his VERY best, Garrison Kellior can be mildly amusing. And yet, his 45 and over audience reacts to his each and every utterance as though they have just seen Han Moleman's Man Getting Hit by Football for the very first time. I just happen to work with two Minnesotans, and you know what? Not only do they both have actual personalities (the jury is out on Mr. Kellior in this regard), but they are funny people- laugh out loud, unselfconscious, funny.

"This American Life": Egad. I'm going to skip the obvious "When do we think Ira Glass is going to hit vocal puberty?" question and move right on to wondering how one can take stories about people who are generally very interesting and suck the life out of them? It's a hell of an accomplishment. Here's a tip though: if the story is interesting/compelling/emotional, the voiceover doesn't need to be precious/ironic/quirky. I'm looking directly at you Sarah Vowell.

And, on a non-NPR related note, Husker Du will always be better than Nirvana, always.

*see previous post about "hipsters."

**not the kind that is an elitist about things like opera and classical music, but rather, the kind that knows that most fiction since 1950 has been self-indulgent crap or that, in many ways, the movies lost something when they started to use color.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Once again proving I do not learn from experience

Yesterday I chose to "do the right thing."

And today, like clockwork, it came back and bit me in the ass.

Sheesh, you'd think I'd know better by now.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Christmas Betting Line

Last year I started a tradition of "handicapping" the gifts I requested on my Christmas list. I got about half of them right. Which basically means that I could have skipped all of the "analysis" and just based each of my predictions on a coin flip. This year I hope to do better. Remember, "success" is not getting all of these items, it's being right about whether I receive them or not. Let's begin!


OXO® Silicone Oven Mitt with Magnet

1/1 or 2/1: I will get an oven mitt (hence the first set of odds), I am less confident that I will get the exact one I requested.

Microwaveable covered dish

3/2: I will be shocked, shocked, if I do not receive this gift.

iPod “Shuffle” (2G)

100/1: Not a chance.

GPS for my car

500/1: Even less of a chance than the iPod.

Age of Empires “Asian Dynasties Expansion Pack”

50/1: Slim chance.

FIFA '09 for PlayStation 3

10/1: Much easier to find than the previous game. If I do get this, my brother will be responsible for it, whether giving it directly, or getting it so my Mom can give it to me.

Hoover SS220 Flair bagless, upright stick vacuum with power nozzle

2/1: Much like the humidifier I asked for last year, this one is pretty much a lock- practical, reasonably priced, and I actually want it. That being said, it doesn't cost any more than the iPod, which I'd rather have!

Victorinox (not “Wenger”) Swiss Army Knives: A “Mini-Champ” and any one of the following: Nomad, Mountaineer, Trailmaster, Picknicker, Hunter, Outrider, or Rucksack.

3/1 or 10/1: I will probably get one of these knives, and I'm pretty certain it will be the "Mini-Champ."

Fleece duvet/comforter cover- flannel would be my 2nd choice

4/1 or 10/1: I will get a duvet cover...but probably not a fleece one. Maybe not even a flannel one. I probably should include a third set of odds, but I'm not going to.

George Foreman Next Grilleration 4-Burger Grill w/ Removable Plates

20/1: If I'm wrong about any gift on this list, it will probably be this one. It might be too practical for my family to pass on.

A wood/glass case for the flag that covered my grandfather's casket


1/1: This one is almost unfair. Not expensive and super sentimental. I almost feel bad for putting any odds on it at all.

Small iPod compatible clock/radio

50/1: Even though I specifically suggested two different models, I will likely get neither.


Alright, I'll be back after the holidays for a recap!

Friday, December 12, 2008

And speaking of new uniforms...

Yesterday the Red Sox unveiled a new "away" uniform and a new "alternate away" uniform and cap. I could have cut and pasted some pictures of each into this post, but you're big boys and girls and I'm sure you know how to use Google, so if you want to see them for yourselves, get to work.

I actually approve of the new away uniform- they got rid of the red piping (which I never liked) and used a lettering style that, while not exactly the same, is reminiscent of the one they used in the 1930s.

As for the new alternate away top and cap...nonsense. It is nothing but a shameless money grab on the part of the Sox. The new shirt and cap are not ugly, in fact, they would look great in a souvenir shop, but they do not belong on the players.

Then again, if these new uniforms generate enough revenue to bring home another World Series trophy, well...

U-G-L-Y

This is the new Atlanta Thrashers home uniform top.

I believe, even without making an exhaustive search fo the internet, that this may be the single, ugliest, professional uniform being worn. Not even the laced neck closure can save it.

Yikes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This won't mean ANYTHING to anyone, BUT...

...Allan Havey was a guest on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" tonight.

Who is he?

He's probably the funniest late night talk show host you've never heard of.

And, yes, I ended that last sentence with a preposition.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I'm conflicted

A while back I bemoaned the fact that the music of many of the groups and individuals I most admire (The Clash, The Jam, The Ramones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc.) was showing up in television advertisements for, well, products and companies which with they shouldn't be associated. That's my opinion, of course.

Jump forward to this evening as I'm preparing my dinner.

I find myself humming along to Bob Mould's "See A Little Light" until I realize it's coming from the television! It was being used as the background music in a commercial for TIAA-CREF.

And here's the conflict: While I don't like the idea of Bob's music showing up in a commercial, it happens to be a commercial for the company that handles my retirement fund (as well as those of thousands of other educators and researchers)!

I'm just not sure what to think about this.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Speaking of 1939

I'm not sure there were many better years for movies...

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
At the Circus (Marx Brothers)
Beau Geste
Dark Victory
Destry Rides Again
Drums Along the Mohawk
Each Dawn I Die
Gone With the Wind
Gunga Din
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Invisible Stripes
It's a Wonderful World
Jamaica Inn
Made for Each Other
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The Oklahoma Kid
The Roaring Twenties
Stagecoach
They Made Me a Criminal
The Wizard of Oz
Young Mr. Lincoln

The Movies

So, I'm sitting here watching Only Angels Have Wings and the following things have come to mind:

Jean Arthur- Smart, sassy, and beautiful. Not a bad combination.

Cary Grant- I can't explain it, but I just plain don't like him.

Rita Hayworth- Supposedly she's in this movie...still waiting. (Ah, there she is- 52 minutes into the film!)

Over and above these things, there's Thomas Mitchell. The minute he came on screen I had one of those, “Hey! I know that guy!” moments- he was in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with Jean Arthur. Not only that, but they're kind of playing the same roles in this movie. In any case, Thomas Mitchell- who kind of floated back and forth between lead man and “character” roles ust have had a hell of an agent to go along with his talent! These are just some of his roles:

  • Lost Horizon (1937)
  • Stagecoach (1939)
  • Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  • Gone with the Wind (1939)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
  • Our Town (1940)
  • The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • High Noon (1952)

1939 was a pretty good year, no?

Mitchell was also the first person to win an Oscar, Emmy, and Tony.

I for one, am impressed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Windows Mojave

I'm not one to get to caught up in the "platform wars," but if the word of mouth on your new OS is so bad that you have to trick people into using it and then saturate the market with ads to convince people to basically give you a "second chance," you might have some problems.

Nice work, MicroSoft.



PS: MACS RULE!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Here's The Proof!

Sadly, my camera had dead batteries last night. Nevertheless, here's the proof of my participation in Thursday morning's "Turkey Trot!"

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Big Race!

(pictures to follow)

So, yesterday- Thanksgiving Morning- was the culmination of almost two months of training for me.

I ran in a 5K race and here are the important numbers:
  • I completed the race in 28:35, more than a minute and a half better than my best training time. I was especially happy with my time because the course starts with a very long, very steep hill and I was worried that it would take so much out of me that the rest of the race would be a wasted effort. It was not.
  • I finished in 160th place in a field of 480 runners. Putting me exactly in the top third of the field, which had been my goal leading up to the race.
  • I finished 20th of the 39 runners in my age group- basically, in the middle of the pack. This was kind of a bonus, I was not expecting to do so well in my peer group.
For the moment I'm going to keep running every other day (if possible) at least for the next month when I start playing indoor soccer again. At that point I may do both as much as my schedule permits. Whatever the case, so far, so good!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Late to the party?

I've been thinking about this topic for a while, but never gotten to posting it. Recently, however, Rolling Stone published their version of it, so I thought I might as well get mine out in the open as well.

The topic: Greatest "pop/rock" singers of the post-war period.

The caveat: The "topic" is intentionally vague, so just go with it.

In no particular order:

Roy Orbison: "Operatic" is the only word that could really do his voice justice. Hearing it live was spellbinding. How anyone could make pain so beautiful is beyond me...

Sam Cooke: Beyond smooth. I thought Jackie Wilson had a great voice until I heard Sam Cooke. There's a reason a boxed set of his music is called "The Man Who Invented Soul."

Frank Sinatra: Phrasing. The songs were no better than any recorded by other "crooners," and his voice probably wasn't any better than anyone else's. Once he sung a song, he owned it.

Johnny Cash: If I'm wrong, and there is a God, I suspect that when you pass through the Pearly Gates a man will turn around, offer you his hand, and say, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash."

Bjork: I'd guess that from a technical standpoint, her voice probably isn't good at all. That being said, there's something elemental and prehistoric that I just find completely captivating.

Sinead O'Connor: Range. Both vocal and emotional. I'm not sure there's any kind of music she couldn't conquer if she chose to.

Annie Lennox: Not really a fan of her work, but she can flat out "belt" and I could listen to her speaking voice (love that Aberdonian accent!) for hours.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Easiest Money I've Ever Made

Today somebody bet me $5 today that Sean Connery was Welsh.

I must have given him ten chances to change his mind, but he wouldn't.

I won.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I don't want to get all judgmental, BUT...

I found out the other day that somebody* (an acquaintance as opposed to a "friend") I used to work with became a father for the second time.

Nothing wrong with that.

He now has a child with his ex-wife and one with his girlfriend (I'm assuming this part as I've no evidence that he got remarried).

Again, nothing wrong with that.

What I do find troubling is that in addition to his regular job, he still has (as far as I know) two other full-time occupations: paying off fines to get his (repeatedly) suspended license back and buying/consuming mass quantities of marijuana. As you might imagine, these two "sidelines" have often crossed paths.

Well, good luck to him.

*He is the technical college dropout who once tried to lecture me on European history

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Progress

So, I'm not going to start talking about "numbers," but I've lost enough wait since the end of August that I am now wearing articles of clothing that have been hanging untouched in my closet for over two years.

Hooray!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

...exhale.

No explanation needed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yet ANOTHER great thing about small towns

My voting experience today was as follows:

Time: 2:00pm

Place: Town Hall (literally, across the street from my apartment)

Number of sign-waving crazies who accosted me on my way into the building: Zero

Number of people I had to wait behind in line: Zero

Number of times I had to show my ID: Zero

Number of little old ladies who were nice to me as they checked me in and out: Two

Number of bake sales in the Town Hall lobby: One

Total time from start to finish: 5 minutes


I'm not even sure why I put on pants.



(still haven't exhaled)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Inhale...

...I'll be holding my breath until about this time tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Guess what happened today?!

I saw snow in the air!

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I couldn't think of a title for this post!

All I really wanted to say is that about a month ago my high speed internet connection got REALLY slow and nothing I did to try to fix it seemed to make any difference.

And now, suddenly, it's working just fine.

I'm not complaining- I'm quite thrilled, actually- but, seriously, what the hell?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wherein your author is well chuffed.

Some weeks ago I mentioned that I had begun a new "exercise" and "health" regimen. I am happy to report that not only have I been remarkably faithful to this new regimen, but today, somebody noticed that I was noticeably more svelte than I was a few months ago.

Go.Me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It was an accident, I SWEAR!

Reflecting upon my activities yesterday it has become clear to me that I somehow managed to eat an entire pound of ground beef.

When I awoke yesterday morning this was not my intention...it just kind of happened.

I will try to exercise more self-control in the future.

Monday, October 13, 2008

MEATBALLS!!

Tonight, for dinner, I made meatballs.

I don't know if I've ever made my own meatballs before, but if I have, they were never this good!

So good, in fact, that I'm having a very hard time not going out to the kitchen and eating the two other meal's worth that are left!

Hooray for me!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yet ANOTHER reason why the internet rocks!

So, it's 10:30pm and I find myself in need of some graph paper for a project I'm working on for next week.

Do I have to wait until tomorrow to go to a store and buy it?

Nope.

A quick trip to Google and I find a site where I can customize (line color, grid size, etc.) the graph paper, which the site turns into a .pdf and all I have to do is hit "print."

HUZZAH!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

$3.01 and falling

Looks like gas prices in my neck of the woods are about to drop below $3.00 for the first time in I don't know how long.

And you know, that totally makes up for the fact that the wheezing and sputtering economy has eaten up 25% of my retirement fund so far this year.

Yup, TOTALLY makes up for that.

By the way

I watched all of the first Presidential Debate

Most of the Vice Presidential Debate

Some of the "Town Hall" thingy.

I will not be watching any of the last debate.

Why? First of all, because I already know for whom I'm going to vote. Second, because watching them just makes me angry at myself for even considering- at one time- that I might vote for the "other guy."

Somebody remind me, what's so bad about monarchies?

Well done, Sony

...in which your author actually has something good to say.

I'm all for bashing large, faceless, corporations- they are an easy target in the way that the old Soviet Bloc used to be. You're not likely to hear to many people loudly supporting them and the chances of "blowback" on a personal level are pretty slim.

However, I like to think of myself as a pretty fair person, so when a corporation does something good it seems right to give them credit.

I bought a PS3 (the expensive one*...80MB) last Christmas with the rationale that a) it would serve as my DVD player (and a Blu-Ray player for that matter) and I would get to continue to enjoy my racing and soccer video games.

Everything was great until the middle of the summer when I was playing a game and there was a loud "click" followed by no picture or sound. Great. Just great. My initial rage turned into a long bout of procrastination: was it still under warranty? If not, how expensive would it be to get it fixed if it wasn't? How much of a hassle would it be to send it back to Sony? How long would I have to wait to get it back? Should I just by a cheap DVD player and deal with not having a PS3?

None of these were questions I really wanted to deal with so I watched DVDs on my laptop and went without my games. All the while, the dead PS3 just sat there as reminder of my best laid plans ganging a glee...

Finally, I gave up and called customer support. Granted I had to ask the service rep to repeat almost everything he said because I couldn't understand him, but he did eventually lead me through all of the trouble shooting. In the end, however, I had to send the console back to Sony.

They sent me a prepaid box, I sent it to them, they sent it back.

Total time: Less than a week. AND they sent me a new console. I know that's probably easiest for them- and good luck to the person who buys my "reconditioned" unit on E-Bay- but nevertheless, I appreciate that I'm starting out with a brand new unit, not one that's already demonstrated its faults.

Sure, I'll have to set everything back up, I'll probably loose all my progress on my games, but I'm willing to deal with that.

So, Sony, thanks.

*fine, fine, if this post is about being "fair," all PS3s are expensive- damn expensive!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Disappointment

Yesterday I took a delightful little afternoon nap during which I dreamed that it had snowed.

Imagine my sadness when I awoke to find that it hadn't.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Am I the only one?

Any time I hear anyone- politician or layperson- pronounce the country of Iraq as "EYE-wrahk" or the country of Iran as "EYE-ran," I stop listening.

Many of these people also say "Nuke-u-ler."

/grumble.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman

I doubt I can say anything more insightful than that which has already been said by many people, so, as my tribute to one of our greatest actors and one of my favorite actors, I'm going to watch a few of his movies.

I'm going to start with Slap Shot.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thanks, Dave!

John McCain "suspending" his campaign is one of the cheaper political stunts I've witnessed in a long time.

I'm glad that somebody called him on it. I'm even happier that it was David Letterman.

As funny as Dave is, he's at least that smart, probably significantly smarter.

Check out the link.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's Fall in New England

Is there a better time of year or a better place to experience it?

Shorts and a sweatshirt.

Leaving the window open on a cool night.

Almost needing a jacket in the morning.

Having to exert oneself in order to perspire.

Wonderful.

So maybe I'm a heretic

This goes against punk rock "doctrine," but I find that the Clash's Combat Rock is a better album than Give 'Em Enough Rope- a lot better. I know, I know, people hear the two "big" songs from Combat Rock (both of which I like) and they start screaming "SELLOUT!!" I disagree.

Give 'Em Enough Rope, though it contains some good- even great- work, suffers from the confused process that gave birth to it, while Combat Rock might blind some with its "success," contains some great lesser known songs.

I also like Sandinista- a lot.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I am happy to report that...

...fall is here!

I have already greatly enjoyed wearing shorts and a sweatshirt and it is making going running every couple of days much more attractive.

I like seasons. Fall is my favorite.

Hoo-ray!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Something I wish I had said

Do you ever feel so much rage toward something that you're unable to articulate it and aim it in the direction of your target? I know I do. Luckily I stumbled upon somebody who was able to get past/set aside theirs and offer a calm, cool, and collected take on what I haven't been able to spit out. I give you Elise Thompson, an editor for the LA blog LAist who has summed up my thoughts on the current "hipster culture":

"People who came of age in the 70s and 80s punk rock movement seem to universally hate 'hipsters'", which she defines as people wearing "expensive 'alternative' fashion[s]", going to the "latest, coolest, hippest bar...[and] listen[ing] to the latest, coolest, hippest band." Thompson argues that hipsters "... don’t seem to subscribe to any particular philosophy... [or] ...particular genre of music." Instead, she argues that they are "soldiers of fortune of style" who take up whatever is popular and in style, "appropriat[ing] the style[s]" of past countercultural movements such as punk, while "discard[ing] everything that the style stood for."

Yeah, that's it.

What she said.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I can't tell you how much I want to be wrong

BUT, I'm starting to get a really bad feeling about the looming presidential election.

GAH! I don't even want to think about it...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A Dark Day

A 1-0 loss to Macedonia to start Scotland's World Cup qualifying run?

Ugh. This does not bode well.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Finally, it's come to this...

...so having entered my late, late, late, 30's this summer I've decided that I'm sick and tired enough of being out of shape and overweight to do something about it.

Here are the changes I made about a week ago:

1. Measured portions at meals. Not radically smaller ones, but more consistent ones.

2. No soda at home. This KILLS me, but so far I've been able to stick to it. I'll have a soda if I have a meal outside of the house, but that's it.

3. I've started running again and I'm going to continue to do so on my days off and on days when I get out early. This should average out to about 4 days a week.

Hopefully, a month or so of this will have me in good enough shape that I can get back to playing soccer twice a week.

Oh, and I'm not counting calories or weighing myself. Being able to exercise more often and at a higher intensity and how I'm fitting into my clothes will be my guide to how well I'm doing.

Anyway, good luck to me!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Annnnnnd...

...August pretty much ended with three hellish days.

bah.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's perfectly normal, PERFECTLY NORMAL...

...to spend two hours re-alphabetizing my CD collection.

And, "yes," I do have a lot of CDs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Really?

Biden?

I'm not saying it's a bad choice, just an underwhelming one.

Your move John McCain.

Back from Vacation!

Technically, at four days long, it's probably a stretch to call it a "vacation," but it's my blog, so and I make the rules.

Anyway, despite the fact that Tropical Storm Fay* basically sat over Naples, FL for the entire time I was there, I had a great time.

I stayed with some very close friends, spent a lot of quality time with the three rugrats pictured to the left, watch at lot of the Olympics, saw some "sights," and generally had a fine time. I'm already looking forward to making another trip when it gets cold up here in the northeast...February perhaps?

And tomorrow? Back to the daily grind...

*I don't think it ever became a proper hurricane, did it?

Update: Yaz

It appears that all the signs are positive in the aftermath of Yaz's multiple bypass surgery and I guess given the nature of things, that's about all that can be hoped for.

Get well #8!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Get Well

There's not much I want to say here except that I wish Yaz a speedy recovery after his heart bypass surgery today.

Carl Yastrzemski is the first sports hero I can remember having as a child. By the time he came into my world he'd already been playing for fourteen or fifteen years and was past his prime. And it didn't matter one bit to me. Even at a young age it was clear to me that here was a man who never gave anything but his best and, while I don't mean to slight his physical abilities, a man who created a Hall of Fame career on the basis of sheer will.

To this day- some 30+ years later- any time I play an organized sport I want to be #8 and I don't expect that will ever change.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

In MUCH better news...

...the English and Scottish Leagues are back in action, with the Premierships in both countries to open play a week from today.

Ross County are off to a slow start in the Scottish First Division, but I have my new away top and I will remain steadfast in my support of the Staggies!

Thanks for staying tuned...

...but sadly there is no news to report. I'm disappointed (and apparently hell-bent on remaining cryptic) about this, but I'm fine.

If nothing else, I got a free "weekend" in Florida out of it and I really can't complain about that.

And guess what? In just about ten days I get to go back to Florida again. This time, though, purely for fun. Maybe I'll be outside enough to get a tan this time.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Stay tuned...

...there could be some major news here within the week.

Enough Already

The word* "staycation" only entered my consciousness about two weeks ago and I would already like to hunt down and harm the person who "invented" it.

The sad thing is that this term means "the economy is in shambles, gas prices are beyond high, wages have not risen, and you're not going to be going on vacation this year."

Enjoy your staycation.



*clearly it is not a word

Thursday, July 31, 2008

21 Days...

...until my mini-vacation in Florida.

I'm excited, but trying to remain calm.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Memo

TO: Discovery Channel
FROM: Me

RE: Mythbusters "Shark Week" special

Featuring Kari Byron in various forms of "beachwear" during tonight's episode was downright cruel.

A man of my shaky morals and poor discipline does not need outside encouragement to become a "stalker."

In the future, please refrain from such displays or, failing that, please provide ample warning of such situations.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In other news...

...I'm off to Florida for a mini-vacation in about a month!

I question my own sanity for willingly going to Florida in August, but it's basically only going to cost me the price of a plane ticket, so I couldn't resist.

HOWEVER, the first day could be rough- I'll be at a New England Revolution game the night before my 6am flight- ouch.

Guess what I found!?

Today, while going about my errands I found myself faced with a construction related detour and as a result, I was sent down some roads over which I had never traveled.

And what did I encounter?

A K-Mart!

Once I got over the initial shock- I could have sworn the company had gone out of business a decade ago- I was further stunned to see that the K-Mart in question had an in-store diner! Suddenly, I was transported back to the rural NH of my youth, and I found myself thinking the same thing I had two decades ago, "People actually eat here!?"

According to the sign, in 2008, meals still start at $3.29! The cheapskate in me was sorely tempted to investigate, but my desire for a Thanksgiving Sub from DiAngelo's won out in the end.

All this being said, however, the K-Mart diner had nothing on the diner at J.J. Newberry's ("the store that wouldn't die") in downtown Laconia, NH.

Ah, memories.

Seriously, folks!

Can there be any more rain in the sky at this point? A few more days and need to invest in a snorkel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

9 Things Every Man's Bathroom Should Contain

It's about time I doled out some advice- so here it is!

1. A clipper kit: For hair touch-ups, side burn trimming, etc. I recommend a set by Wahl.

2. Brylcreem: For manly hair styling, and just the "little dab will do you" kind, nothing fancy. Sadly, it no longer comes in a metal tube, but it's the same stuff they've been making since 1928.

3. A styptic pencil: For shaving cuts. Yup, they hurt, but they also work really well. And beyond that, you won't forget and leave the house with a piece of toilet paper stuck to your face.

4. Bag Balm: If you live outside of New England or Eastern Canada, you probably have no idea what this stuff is- but you should. It was originally developed by dairy farmers to treat minor cuts and abrasions on the udders of their cows, and to make said udders supple. You- male human- can use it for minor cuts and abrasions, as a moisturizer, and a million other things. Available since 1899.

5. Pinaud Clubman Talc: Remember the dusting of powder the barber used to put on the back of your neck? It came in a green bottle or tin? This is the stuff. Make sure to get the kind with "fragrance," it smells great and it's been produced for almost 200 years.

6. Old Spice: The original scent. Anything else- body sprays, colognes, etc. are a waste of your money and a bit too close to being "perfume." It's been around since 1938, so your grandfather probably used it- I know mine did!

7. Murray's Superior Hair Dressing Pomade: When the light hold of Brylcreem just isn't enough, just reach for this stuff- you're hair won't move again until you wash it out. It hasn't changed since 1926, so you know it's good.

8. Shaving gear: A boar bristle brush, shaving powder, and a shaving mug to mix it in. Maybe not for every day, but it's a nice treat once in a while. If you're feeling brave, throw a straight razor into the mix!

9. Dopp Kit: You know that leather case with the zipper that expands and you can put most of the items above in it? That's what this is. And keep it classy, get a leather one.

Now, you are a man.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What? WHAT?!

On my way home today I passed a woman who was jogging...WITH HER STARBUCK'S CUP IN HER HAND?!

Really?!

Friday, July 18, 2008

So, about last weekend...

...here are the highlights
  • 147lbs of spit roasted pig. I maintain that I did not actually eat that much of it. My brother in-law (a chef who was responsible for the preparation of the porker) begs to differ, claiming that I "packed it away." Whatever, that's not the point!
  • On-site soft-serve ice cream machine: chocolate, vanilla, Butterfinger, and cookie dough. Say what you want, but my sister and brother in-law know how to throw a party.
  • Whiffle Ball! Sure it wasn't as good as it could have been (too many little kids involved and we started too late), but it was still great.
  • Setting out for the par 3 golf course, finding out there was a tournament going on, and having to go to the "big boy" golf course. I could have done better, but frankly, I did better than I thought I was going to.
  • Some board game with my relatives that led to endless inappropriate outbursts by just about everyone involved.
  • Visiting with and mocking my Australian relatives.
All in all it was a fine weekend.

Now, having done my bloggerly duty, I shall go eat Drake's Funny Bones and drink Mt. Dew Code Red.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Weekend

I'll be back later to go over my weekend in detail, but this picture pretty much sums it up!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Discretion is the better part of...

...I considered post a lengthy misanthropic screed in response to several fellow humans with which I was forced to deal today, but in the end, I decided not to. They've already taken enough of my time, I've calmed down a bit, and I don't want to get so worked up that I cannot sleep tonight.

So I'll leave it at this: I did not punch anyone involved. Didn't even glare at them or roll my eyes.

Serenity now.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Review: The Western Mass Highland Games

Caveat: It was that very special kind of New England "hot and humid" today and that may have tainted my impression of the event.

Setting: Franklin County Fairgrounds, Greenfield, MA.

Sorry, not good. Too spread out. Too run down. Not at all scenic. Having been to games at Grandfather Mountain in NC and Loon Mountain in NH, the fairgrounds were, frankly depressing.

Piping: Bands and individual competitions.

There were only a few bands and they were small, but they were good. Unfortunately, the individual competitions went on all day, so there was always a background of multiple pipers playing different tunes whilst I was trying to listen to the bands.

Games: The usual variety.

There were divisions for both genders, lightweight men, and over 40 men. Maybe the weakest and smallest (in number) field of athletes I've ever seen. There was one good 40+ male and one women who were good. Otherwise, for the first time, I felt like I could have competed and done okay.

Food: "Fair" food as well as British (not solely Scottish) foods.

It was fine, not terribly expensive, but not a lot o choices.

Retail: Booths

Not too many, too many selling crap, and too many that were Irish or Welsh oriented. Also, henna tattoos? Really? Why?

Crowd:

Sparse and not as "into it" as I am used to.

Other:

-WWII American reenactors? Huh? Why?
-Medieval fencing types...stay at the Ren Faire please.
-Medieval Scottish reenactors...stay at the Ren Faire please.

Overall: Meh.

At least parking was free and I got to wear my kilt for the first time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Streak is O-V-E-R!

Well, after 17 years and 20 matches, my "no defeat" streak is over. The disappointment was somewhat lessened by the fact that it took a match featuring 3 red cards, more yellow cards than I can count, and an on-field visit from the local constabulary to bring the streak to an end.

I'll try to get things back on track this Friday!

USA v. Mexico @ Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA: Olympic Qualifier, 1991.

USA 3 Mexico 0

USA v. Scotland @ Willow Brook Park, New Britian, CT: Friendly, 5/26/96

USA 2 Scotland 1

Hibernian v. Motherwell @ Easter Road, Glasgow: League Match, 3/21/98

Hibernian 1 Motherwell 0

USA v. N. Korea @ Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro, MA: 1999 Women’s World Cup, 6/27/99

USA 3 N. Korea 0

Italy v. Mexico @ Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro, MA: 1999 Women’s World Cup, 6/27/99

Italy 2 Mexico 0

Scotland v. Belgium @ Hampden Park, Glasgow: World Cup Qualifier, 3/24/01

Scotland 2 Belgium 2

USA v. Jamaica @ Giants Stadium, NJ: Friendly Match, 5/16/02

USA 5 Jamaica 0

NY/NJ MetroStars v. AC Milan @ Giants Stadium, NJ: Friendly Match, 5/16/02

MetroStars 1 AC Milan 1

Scotland v. Iceland @ Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld: UEFA U-21 Qualifier, 3/28/03

Scotland 1 Iceland 0

Scotland v. Iceland @ Hampden Park, Glasgow: European Qualifier, 3/29/03

Scotland 2 Iceland 1

Manchester United v. Juventus @ Giants Stadium, NJ: Friendly Match, 7/31/03

Manchester United 4 Juventus 1

USA v. Latvia @ Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT: Friendly Match, 5/28/06

USA 1 Latvia 0

Western Mass Pioneers v. L.I. Rough Riders @ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, MA, USL2 League Match, 7/8/06

Western Mass Pioneers 2 L.I. Rough Riders 1

New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake @ Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA, 6/2/07

New England Revolution 0 Real Salt Lake 0

Western Mass Pioneers v. N.H. Phantoms@ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, MA, USL2 League Match, 6/30/07

Western Mass Pioneers 1 N.H. Phantoms 0

New England Revolution v. Carolina Railhawks, US Open Cup Semi-final, Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, New Britain, CT, 9/4/07

New England Revolution 2 Carolina Railhawks 1 (AET)

New England Revolution v. New York Red Bulls, MLS Eastern Conference Semi-Final, Second Leg, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA, 11/3/07

New England Revolution 1 New York Red Bulls 0

Ross County F.C. v. Ayr United F.C., SFL Div. 2 League Match, Somerset Park, Ayr, Scotland, 3/15/08

Ross County F.C. 2 Ayr United F.C. 0

Western Mass Pioneers v. Crystal Palace-Baltimore @ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, MA, USL2 League Match, 6/6/08

Western Mass Pioneers 3 Crystal Palace-Baltimore 1

Western Mass Pioneers v. Boston Olympiakos @ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, MA, US Open Cup First Round Match, 6/10/08

Western Mass Pioneers 2 Boston Olympiakos 0

Western Mass Pioneers v. Richmond Kickers @ Lusitano Stadium, Ludlow, MA, US Open Cup Second Round Match, 6/24/08

Western Mass Pioneers 1 Richmond Kickers 2

Monday, June 23, 2008

FYI

1. It could not be raining any harder at the moment.

2. Pele was mugged/robbed/car-jacked today...IN BRAZIL!! Really?! People in Brazil refer to him as El Rey...and they robbed him? Jeepers.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My nemesis

Max Bretos now has a beard.

I didn't think he could be more of a jackass.

I was wrong.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's my birthday

Woo and/or hoo.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boston


Too often I make a point of mentioning it when I have a bad day.

In the interest of fairness, I thought I'd make a point of mentioning that yesterday I had a great day.

I drove into Boston, taking the "long way" so that I could pass by (not in order of importance), my favorite sub shop, the house were my grandparents used to live, the cemetery where they are both buried, and end up at Wonderland Station on the Blue Line. It's not the fastest or the easiest way to get into the city but each of those places hold a lot of happy memories for me so when I get the chance...

I arrived a little earlier than I expected to, so I headed down to Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market for some lunch and some people watching. After that I made my way over to the Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Federal Building for a meeting. I can't speak for any other federal buildings, but the security screening was, to put it mildly, thorough. I even had to show that my pockets were empty because the metal detector was set off by the snaps on my pockets!

The meeting went well, but was much shorter than I expected it would leaving me almost the entire afternoon to spend in Boston before heading over to Fenway for the Red Sox game against the Orioles.

I spent the afternoon lazily working my way from Causeway Street to Fenway Park via Boston Common. On the Common I enjoyed a cherry slush, more people watching, and reading a book on a park bench.

After that I wandered around, had a chocolate shake, checked out some of the shops along Newbury Street, and eventually arrived at Fenway just as the pregame festivities were beginning. I did a little wandering around, got myself a sausage and pepper sub, bought myself two Carl Yastrzemski related souveniers, and listened to a surprisingly good little band that was playing on the sidewalk.

The game was excellent (I hadn't been to Fenway for probably ten years, though I'd been lucky enough to see the Red Sox win at Yankee Stadium a few years ago) the Red Sox won, my seats, though cheap and kind of far away, were good, and I didn't have to sit next to anyone obnoxious. They even played a Jam and a Sugar song over the stadium PA!

It took a long time to get back to the T and then to my car, but I was expecting that, so it wasn't too bad.

All in all, a great way to spend the day!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

WHAT!?

According to Accuweather.com, the "real feel" (temperature and humidity combination) right now is ...wait for it...112!!

Yeesh.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Whenever I hear a politician talking about financial considerations in relation to Scottish self-determination I know they're talking complete shit. It's not about that at all, it's about democracy."

-James Kelman - Scottish author and winner of the 1994 Booker Prize

Friday, June 06, 2008

Apropos of nothing

I made up a list of my personal heroes. I may give these people their own posts at a later date.

In no particular order:
  • Thomas Paine, political philosopher: As much for "The Age of Reason" as for the better known "Common Sense."
  • Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi hunter: As much proof as one could ever need that one person can, and should, make a difference.
  • Abraham Lincoln, American president: One of our greatest presidents, and maybe even a better man.
  • Winston Churchill, English politician: His early career was a little rough, but his conduct leading up to, and during WWII was inspirational and essential.
  • Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, Scottish nobleman and patriot: One of the few who could not be bought during the negotiation of the Act of Union.
  • Carl Sagan, astronomer: His book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark changed my life.
  • Charles Darwin, naturalist: He did for the biological world what Newton did for the physical world.
  • Johnny Cash, musician: I can't think of any single American who better represented what America is, and isn't, than this man.
  • Norman Borlaug, plant scientist: Generally credited with saving more than a billion people from starvation.
  • Margaret Sanger, birth control advocate: One of the first women to campaign for modern family planning.
  • Marc Bloch: French medieval historian who was also a member of the French Resistance. Murdered by the Nazis.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

USA v. Spain

Spain beat the US today, 1-0. The score was appropriate. Both teams had dominant periods during the match, but the US faded down the stretch and Spain simply has better players to bring in of thier bench. Also, some of Bob Bradley's substitutions left me scratching my head. Why for example would you take out the player who looked the best in the first half...

Freddy Adu: Offensively, the most dangerous looking player for the US today. Freddy demonstrated good one-on-one dribbling skills and some accurate passing. No goals, but he looked the most likely to get one. Worked especially well with Eddie Johnson. A-

Eddie Johnson: Looked great when working with Freddy Adu in the first half and though he seemed to drift out of the offensive flow in the second half, he at least kept playing defense. Had one goal called back for being marginally offside and missed another half chance. B

DeMarcus Beasley: Clearly still rusty after many months out injured The more matches he gets going into World Cup qualifying, the better. C

Clint Dempsey: EPL hangover? Just not his day? Well defended by Spain? Whatever the case, the Deuce was a non-factor during the match. D

Maurice Edu: Looked good in the midfield today. Distributes the ball well, gets back to play defense, and like several other players he seems to get better when Freddy Adu is on the field. B

Oguchi Onyewu: Very solid in the middle of the back line, Gooch seems to be getting more and more comfortable with the ball at his feet, and as a result his distribution forward is improving. A good player who is still growing into his role. B+

Heath Pearce: I continue to be impressed by Pearce. He plays aggressive, smart defense, does not get caught out of position, and always seems to be involved in the offensive without abandoning his defensive responsibilities. I'd love to see Michael Parkhurst playing along side him. A-

Michael Bradley: Clearly a good player on his way to becoming a very good player. He defends tenaciously, gets involved in the offense, but also continues to "play his age," occasionally out of position and occasionally makes the rash challenge. Hence the only player on the US to receive a card today. B

Frankie Hedjuk: I want to find something to criticize (Why don't I like Freddy? Maybe it's the awful hair style...), but I can't. Hedjuk played not good, but great defense in this match. He didn't contribute as much as he usually does to getting the ball forward, but still... A-

Josh Wolff: Made one good pass after coming on in the second half. Otherwise, a non-entity. Which is kind of the point I made in my previous post. D

Eddie Lewis: Another steady, steady, steady outing for Lewis. Moved the ball around well, took a decent free kick, and was dangerous with his crosses from set pieces and from the run of play. "Veteran Presence" would seem to sum things up nicely. B+

Steve Cherundolo: Like Eddie Lewis, another steady, veteran player. Good defense, good distribution up the wings, and he still has some pace. B

Carlos Bocanegra: Best match I've seen from him in a while (which is not surprising given that his playing time at Fulham this year dwindled as the season went on). Good in the air as always, good passing out of the back. B+

Brad Guzan: Only confirmed why so many teams are looking to sign him. Confident, aggressive, and in control of his space and his defense. Made several good saves. Not much he could have done to prevent the goal. B+

Tim Howard: Not called upon to do much in the first half. The job will be his until somebody improves enough to take it. B

Mastroeni: Came into the match too late to make an impact- though it's good to see he's at least on Bob Bradley's radar. Incomplete

DNP: Dan Califf, Jay DeMerit

So, setting aside Mastroeni's "incomplete," the team's GPA comes out to 2.89. That sounds about right, a slightly "weak" B.

Sometimes I forget...

...how much I despise Rachel Ray.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

As promised, an ENORMOUS post!

While watching the US National Team's thoroughly mediocre display against England (by whom I am rarely impressed for a number of reasons) a week or so ago I found myself puzzled (enraged?) by some of Bob Bradley's choices to make up the team. So, wanting to be the “solution” and not just the “problem,” I thought I'd take a look at who is in the official USNT Player Pool, who should be, and a few wild cards that are probably not on anyone's soccer radar at the moment.

And, of course, what list would be complete without caveats?

-does not include players who play in below MLS in the US and in minor foreign leagues.
-does not include players who have declared themselves as “retired” from international duty.
-does not include players who have been selected in the past, but won't be again, e.g., Clint Mathis.
-does not include players who are buried on the “depth chart”- goalkeepers, for example.
-does not include players about whom little information is available.

USSF 2008 Player Pool

Brad Guzan: Raw, but clearly talented. Tends to rush around the box like a lot of young keepers do, but he's aggressive and a good shot stopper. I can see why European teams (Aston Villa and Celtic among them) are interested in getting him. The more time he sees on the national team, the better.

Frankie Hejduk: It's hard to criticize Frankie. He hustles, he plays tough defense, and he's not afraid to get forward and cause problems for the opposition. At the same time, he's had little success outside of MLS and while he's deserving of future call-ups, it's time to look for younger players at his position.

Carlos Bocanegra: Carlos has been miscast as a defender. On the back line, he's is good enough to have 100+ appearances for Fulham, but I think he should play in the midfield. His size and tendency to make rash challenges would be less of an issue and he could be incorporated more into the offense. He's managed 10 goals in 54 matches for the national team (most off set pieces I would suspect) and one has to wonder how many more he would have had as a midfielder from the run of play?

Oguchi Onyewu: A year ago I would have said that his game had stalled- good in the air, and an intimidating (if stationary) presence on the back line. However, another year playing for a top team (albeit in a weaker league) has given him a more well-rounded game. He's better on the ball and generally seems to be playing more within himself.

Heath Pearce: The more I see, the more I like. Pearce is a solid defender, has a high work rate, and is not afraid to get forward and take his shots. He strikes me as the kind of player whose game will improve by leaps and bounds if he is surrounded by better players.

Michael Bradley: Forget the “coach's son” tag, the kid can play. He's shown he can score in a good league (Holland) and he plays good, scrappy defense. Hopefully he will continue to be selected regardless of whether his father is the coach or not.

Ricardo Clark: That he's ever been selected boggles my mind- his eight caps are eight too many. Not only does he rarely contribute anything positive, he commits needless and ill-time fouls and is often caught out of position. He makes me long for Chris Armas.

Josh Wolff: He's been a decent striker in MLS, but I've yet to watch a international match (or an MLS one for that matter) where I've had the thought, “Wow! That Josh Wolff is some player!” At this point, every call-up he receives is one taken away from a younger, hungrier, and potentially better striker.

Eddie Lewis: He's getting on in years, but Eddie continues to be a steady player for the national team who brings veteran presence to the side and is still one of the best free kick and corner kick takers on the team. It's probably time to phase him out, but in favor of whom?

Tim Howard: Howard has proven himself in the EPL on big-time teams (Manchester United, Everton) and deserves to be the national team's keeper until somebody else can take the position away from him.

Freddy Adu: It's easy to bash Freddy, but keep in mind that he doesn't turn 19 for another week! If he was any other American playing for a major European team (Benfica), scoring the occasional goal, and already with five national team caps, we'd be impressed. My guess is his best soccer is still ahead of him even if some have already started to sour on him.

Maurice Edu: The jury is out. Edu seems like a decent player, but he's only earned four caps and it's just too early to tell. He will probably have to move beyond MLS before his quality can be assessed.

Steve Cherundolo: I always find myself wondering why he's been selected again, and then he goes out and plays a mistake-free match with occasional flashes of brilliance. This is probably why he's made a decade long career for himself in the top two divisions in Germany.

Eddie Johnson: So far, a reliable MLS striker and a decent one for the national team. However, there seems to be much more potential than production to date. Johnson's time at Fulham doesn't appear to have done his game much good, but he's still young, so there's still hope. I guess.

Clint Dempsey: At some point, somebody is just going to let the Deuce be the Deuce. Clint was successful in MLS and this past season has come into his own in the EPL while playing for Fulham. However, he's not a striker, he's a winger, and an attacking one at that. Once somebody lets him do this and take players on, he's only going to get better.

DaMarcus Beasley: As long as he's healthy, Beasley should always be in the team. He's proven himself in MLS as well as in the Netherlands, England, and Scotland. His speed and his willingness to run at defenders causes problems for the opposition and that's always a good thing.

Nat Jaqua: A “pretty good” MLS forward now plying his trade for a midlevel team in the Austrian Bundesliga. He's only earned three caps so far, so it's a little early to make a judgment, but he also doesn't appear to be the answer as far as scoring national team goals is concerned.

Dan Califf: I'm not sure why, but I like Dan Califf. I think it's because he plays his position- fullback- with a little bit of anger. He did well in MLS, and has done well enough in Denmark to be named captain of his team- not an easy thing for an American. So, yes, give him more matches.

Josmer “Jozy” Altidore: Size, strength, and bags of skill. However, he's also starting to get a bit of a 'tude towards his fellow players and a sense of entitlement when it comes to getting calls from referees. There's nothing wrong with having some competitive fire, but Altidore would benefit from playing in a European league where he could be “put in his place” and grow up a little on and off the pitch.

Brian Ching: I like Brian Ching, but when it comes right down to it, he's a “poor man's” Brian McBride- team first, physical well-being second. I wish him many years of further success in MLS, but I don't think he's good enough to beat out the other potential forwards on the national team.

Jimmy Conrad: Probably has two or three useful years left on the national team and based on past efforts, he deserves them. He's played well enough and earned enough respect from his teammates and coaches to be name team captain on several occasions and that speaks volumes about him.

Bobby Convey: The question surrounding Bobby Convey is, “Will he get his career back on track once he's 100%?” Up until he suffered his knee injury he seemed to be on his way to being a first team selection at Reading and for the national team. If he comes all the way back, both teams will be better off. If not, he'll probably be back in MLS and only sporadically on the national team.

Ramiro Corrales: A reliable MLS midfielder who supposedly came into his own while playing in Norway. Based on what I've seen upon his return to San Jose and his selection to the national team, not so much. To old and not good enough. Next.

Brad Davis: Another reasonably productive MLS scorer who probably is not the answer for the national team. No reason not to give him a few more chances- he only has three so far- but are there any reasons to give him more chances?

Jay DeMerit: Good enough to play 100+ matches for Watford and to be named the club's captain, yet not good enough to play more than six matches for the US?! Watford is probably as good or better than all but the top teams in Austria, Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. (where other Americans are employed) and he's got six caps? Somebody is wrong here, and it's not Watford.

Donovan, Landon: Landy Cakes. When he plays with a chip on his shoulder he's among the best American players ever and I can't even hold his failure to make a European career against him. Unfortunately, he spends too much time “coasting.” He's pretty much said that he stays in MLS because he can be one of the best players without sacrificing much and that's not a great attitude for a team captain. But, that being said, he has to be in the team.

Benny Feilhaber: Recently suffered a knee injury, but looks to be a promising prospect when he's healthy again. He plays with both grit and flair and could really make a difference in the national team's midfield. I hope he gets plenty of call-ups during WC 2010 qualifying.

Clarence Goodson: A tall defender sounds great, but he's already 26 and has yet to make much of in impact in MLS (and has now moved to Norway). The fact that he wasn't protected by Houston in the expansion draft and has only been awarded one cap says to me that he's probably not going to get many more...and probably shouldn't.

Sacha Kljestan: With the exception of his tackle on Andy Williams, I like this kid. He likes to make things happen in the midfield and isn't afraid to take a shot. I've been pretty impressed with his free kick ability as well. Only five caps so far, but should get many more.

Drew Moor: Another case of it being too early to tell, but as a defender, he should be given a chance to prove himself. He's done well so far in MLS, but I'd like to see how he holds up against some better competition.

Pat Noonan: A very productive scorer in MLS who should have more than the dozen national team appearances that he has so far. If the US ever decides to play a formation in which there is a “withdrawn” forward, he could make a big impact. He's been around for a long time, but you might be surprised- as I was- that he's still only 27.

Michael Parkhurst: He's not big, he's not fast, he's not flashy. He's just good, very, very good- calm, cool, and collected. It's not surprising that he has begun to attract interest from European teams. He's only been capped twice but he should be in the national team camp as much as possible.

Eddie Robinson: One goal in one appearance is a good start, but nothing he has done as an MLS defender suggests to me that he is an elite player and he'll be 30 in less than a month. In other words, he's on the downside and probably won't be selected unless there is some sort of defender shortage.

Chris Rolfe: Rolfe is a pest, in the best possible way. I don't think he's a starting forward, your “go to guy” on the national team, but, he's just the kind of energetic, scrappy, goal poacher who could prove to be a handful if he were brought off the bench. Potentially a great “12th man” on the national team.

Jonathan Spector: Spector's nine caps are even harder to explain than Jay DeMerit's six. Spector hasn't played as many matches, but he's younger (22) and has played his matches in the Premier League (Manchester United, Charlton, West Ham United) rather than the Championship. What's not to like?

Taylor Twellman: Twellman is not a “complete” soccer player. However, he averaged more than a goal every other game since 2001 and is one of the top five goal scorers in MLS history. He's made 29 appearances, but not many as a starter. He needs to be in the team more and be allowed to do what he does best- score goals.

Jeremiah White: Has played in Serbia, Greece, France, and Denmark and has only one cap. Maybe he's just a “journeyman,” but how many MLS players with more caps haven't been able to get a contract with even one European team? Worth a longer look.

PLAYERS NOT IN THE OFFICIAL POOL, BUT WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION

Brian McBride: Keep running him out there until he says “stop.” He's proven himself to be a scoring threat in the top league in Europe and now that he's moving back to MLS he'll be playing fewer matches and can probably extended his international career by a year or two if he wants to.

Jeff Larentowicz: No caps? Really? A tough midfielder/defender with a cannon of a shot from both open play and set pieces, he deserves a chance to show what he's made of at the international level.

Bryan Arguez: Only 19 and already under contract with Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Worth keeping an eye on.

Kyle Beckerman: Two caps, already 26, and a glut of better midfielders ahead of him. Also, I've watched him play and I don't even think he's a top MLS midfielder. Pass.

Kenny Cooper: I had high hopes for Kenny Cooper- he was a big, young striker with experience at one of Europe's biggest clubs (Manchester United). He's still young and he's still big, but also become injury prone and he's dropped from the EPL, to a mid-level Portuguese team, to MLS. He may still come around, but right now his trajectory is a negative one.

Gregg Berhalter: Probably done as an international, but still a serviceable player and worth having on the bench while the younger generation gets its minutes.

Eddie Gaven: It's easy to forget that Eddie is only 21 years old and that he's become a decent MLS player and a regular player on the national youth teams. Both are good things. However, if he wants to make an impact on the national team he's going to need to find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Colin Burns: Another GK buried so deep on the depth chart that he may never get close enough to get a call-up. That's too bad, because he's on the verge of making a career in Europe and he's a player I've seen in person and been impressed by- don't be surprised if he shows up in MLS at some point.

Jonathan Bornstein: Though a bit small for a defender, Bornstein has done well at the position. However, his ability to score goals from the midfield suggests he is better suited to that position. He seems to have caught Bob Bradley's eye and is like to be given additional matches.

Jorge Flores: Though only 18, Flores has begun to make a name for himself in MLS and on the national youth teams. A gifted forward, it is likely that Flores will feature in the full national team in the near future.

Pablo Mastroeni: Where have you gone Pablo? Once a fixture in the national side Mastroeni seems to have faded into oblivion. I liked him as a player- though he was prone to rash tackles- but I suppose this is what happens as a player ages and the player pool grows deeper.

Dominic Servi: A towering goalkeeper who at age 21 has already drawn interest or been offered trials by top Scottish and English sides. Should he live up to the hype he could be the one who challenges (surpasses?) Brad Guzan for the goalkeepers shirt after Tim Howard retires from international soccer.

Cory Gibbs: A good defender, but one who is approaching 30 and whose career trajectory is heading in the wrong direction. Three years with Charlton without a league appearance does not bode well for him when other Americans playing regularly in England have had a difficult time getting selected.

Lee Nguyen: A player to watch. Left college after a year to play in the Netherlands and now plays in Denmark. I watched him during the NCAA tournament when he played for Indiana and he looked to be a “special player.” Very much in the mold of DaMarcus Beasley.

Danny Szetela: Under contract with Racing Santander (the only American player currently under contract in Spain), but on loan to Brescia (where he is one of only a handful of American players), he appears to have a bright future.
Brian West: Had a decent MLS career and has done well in Norway and earned himself 7 caps as a result. That being said, he's 29, not in the 2008 player pool and finds himself competing against younger, similar, and better players- Michael Bradley for one.

Quentin Westberg: The French-born goalkeeper may be one of the few younger keepers (he just turned 22) who have a chance- along with Brad Guzan- once Tim Howard has moved on. He's been with Troyes FC since he was 17 and is drawing interest from other, higher level teams, outside of France.

Preston Zimmerman: Only 19, did well with Hamburger SV's youth squad, and is now looking for a new club in Europe. Probably a few years away from playing for the full national team, but again, he's a forward so he'll probably get a look.

Greg Dalby: No caps yet, but has captained the U-20 and is currently under contract to a team in Belgium's top division. Probably a player with a future on the national team.

Neven Subotic: A big young (19) who has featured on various US youth national teams and is already playing in Germany. The only problem is that he is eligible to play for the US, Bosnia, and possibly Serbia as well. Hopefully, he chooses the US.

Frank Simek: Another player who has only a few caps (5) despite the fact that he's played over a hundred matches for a good club (Sheffield Wednesday). I would hope that given his young age (23) he will get plenty more chances to contribute to the national team's back line.

Charlie Davies: Not only has Charlie established himself in Sweden's top division, he's a New Hampshire boy and thus, I'll be pulling for him. He's already earned three caps and I expect that he'll get a chance to score some goals for the US before too long.

Robbie Russell: Probably one of the best uncapped American players. He's established himself as top defender in Norway and Denmark and played in the Champions League as well. Almost 29, so his call-up will need to come soon if he's going to make a contribution.

Tally Hall: Another young GK playing in Europe who might have enough time to develop as a challenger for a national team place in the post-Tim Howard era.

FINALLY...

If the USSF is willing to do the legwork, I guarantee there are HUNDREDS of quality players playing in city leagues- especially those which draw from the immigrant population and their first generation American children- who could improve the National Team.

The balls in your court (pitch)...

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley passed away today at the age of 79. If you don't knew who he was, well, shame on you.

Bo Diddley was one of those musicians who literally changed modern music. The Bo Diddley "beat" as seen in songs like "Bo Diddley" and "Who Do You Love?" was unlike anything before or after it.

Bo Diddley's songs were covered directly by artists as diverse as The Jesus and Mary Chain, George Thorogood, Buddy Holly, the Who, C.C.R., and the Rolling Stones.

The Bo Diddley “beat” was employed by artists as varied as Elvis Presley, U2, The Smiths, Muddy Waters, and the Stooges.

To me, however, nothing shows how important Bo Diddley was or how highly respected he was among those he influenced than the fact that he was the opening act on The Clash's first U.S. tour.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 31

Wow.

A pretty miserable day today.

I thought for a few hours that I was going to let it get to me, but I guess I just decided that it wasn't worth it.

Thankfully I have a lot to look forward to in the next six weeks or so.
  • working towards a new career
  • having dinner with an old friend
  • my birthday
  • a pig roast
Oh, and there will be a HUGE post (easily my longest ever) coming in the next few days.

See you soon...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Happy Birthday!!

Jimmy Stewart would have been 100 years old today!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I'm okay now...I think.

For the last two days I have been as sick as I have ever been in my life. Wow. Not good.

However, it appears I am on the mend, so more, bigger, better(?) posts to follow.

Monday, May 12, 2008

HIking in Maryland

I'm just back from my yearly hike with my best friend, Dan. Once again I trekked down to Maryland, which is about as boring a six hour drive as you could take in this country.

This year we hiked in Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin National Park. This year's hike was shorter than last year's, but there was much less flat ground, and what there was was studded with rocks- a bit rough on the feet. And, as you can see from my friend's boots, it was a little rough on some of the equipment. Luckily, I brought enough duct tape to get him through the last six miles of the hike.

I am happy to say that next year Dan will be heading north to hike a trail of my choosing for the first time. I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Here She Is!

Here's a picture of my niece, Sadie Claire. She is just over a week old now and it looks like my brother and his wife are going to keep her. This is good because I am looking forward to being a bad influence on her much as my aunt was on me. Also, I am happy that I live too far away to be asked to babysit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A new arrival!!

Sadie Claire arrived at 7:59pm!

I am an uncle.

Pictures tomorrow when I return from visiting with my new (first!) neice!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Last Chance to Play the Name Game!

My sister in-law will have labor induced tomorrow morning at 7:30, so I have to make my prediction as to the newborn's name- the rest of the family only knows that it will be a girl, so to date, we've been calling her "Oprah."

My guess is the following:
  • The young lady's first name will be the first/middle name of her maternal grandmother (who died with my sister in-law was young). Unfortunately, I don't know what either of those names are!
  • The yong lady's middle name will most likely be Elizabeth as this is my sister's first name, my mother's middle name, and my great-grandmother's first name. However, there are other candidates- Sharon (after my mother), Jean (after my grandmother), or, if he wants to both surprise and impress people, he will choose Charlotte, my father's mother (who died when he was young).
I'll be back within a day or two with the actual results.

Uncle-hood here I come!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Snack Food Review

Pringles "Screamin' Dill Pickle" Potato Crisps/Chips/Whatevers

I'll start by saying that I really should have known better- I know that. But here's the thing...

I've always kind of been fascinated by the ways in which global food products (and believe it or not, Pringles appear to be available everywhere but Africa and Antarctica) are adapted to literally fit the taste of the local consumer. I guess I always wonder what I'm missing out on flavor-wise. I mean, just because a certain flavor isn't sold in the US, or even just my section of the US, it doesn't mean its no good! So, when I was browsing through my local mega-mart I noticed that their Pringles section was quite expansive and contained several flavors I'd never seen before. I decided to go with the one that seemed the most, well, "different."

The point being, they are awful. Awful. This may not seem like much of a distinction to make, but they don't taste like dill pickles, they taste like dill pickle juice/brine. If you're like me- and you can take that either way, trust me- when you finish a jar of pickles you stare at the remaining liquid and think, "That's kind of a waste, I wonder if I could drink it?" But you don't, because common sense takes over and you realize that it just couldn't be any good, and you throw it out.

The worst part? The taste just lingers and lingers and lingers.

So, lesson learned. Until next time at least...

How Am I Supposed To Feel About This?

Local gas prices jumped from $3.07 to $3.44 this week.

Talk about feeling powerless.

You just kind of have to "take it," don't you?

I use my car the bare minimum possible already and it gets good mileage.

Public transportation in my area is both scarce and unreliable.

I live to far from work to bike.

Yeah, so there it is.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's Official

I have become so embarrassed by our president and his administration that I have lost the ability to express myself on the subject.

I plan on screaming myself hoarse on his last day in office.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Name Game

I wasn't planning on posting anything tonight, but...

So, the Seattle franchise which will begin playing in MLS next year announced its team name today: Seattle Sounders F.C.

This is both good and bad news.

The good news is that this is what the team's name should have been from the beginning.* It has a history going back over 30 years and it has had popular support since people began lobbying for an MLS team in Seattle. The franchise/league's opposition was to it was that there was already a lower level team of the same name and they didn't people to be reminded of this "lesser" team. The fans didn't care.

The bad news? The bad news is that it took a naming campaign to make it happen, and even then, voters had to write in this choice because the ones offered by the franchise/league were so appallingly bland ("Alliance," "Republic," et al.).

Why make an issue of this? Because it is a modern sports development that has always bothered me. In the past- in both the United States and Europe- team names either came about organically or had some sort of local significance. Perhaps the team name came from its owners ("Bayer Leverkusen" being named after the drug company), reflected the local population ("Boston Celtics"), or reflected the occupations of the players/fans (those who worked at the "Arsenal"). And team "nicknames" resulted from a consensus among the fans- For example, Ayr United became "The Honest Men" after a line from the poet Robert Burns, a local lad.

In modern sports- in the United States especially- team names are generally determined by focus groups and meant to appeal to the most people possible, or to put it more truthfully, to not offend anybody. Using MLS as my example I'll run through the list of what is/was, and what should be. And while I'm at it, a little uniform critique too!

CD Chivas USA: No complaints here. A team name and uniform that pays homage to it's Mexican heritage, and team nicknames that are either fan-created or reflect the team's connection to its parent club.

Chicago Fire: Given the logo- which I like- supporters probably would have chosen the same "nickname," or at least a similar one. However, had the team's name/logo been less "loaded," many other names could have emerged given all of the city's various sobriquets ("City of Big Shoulders," "Windy City," "Second City."

Colorado Rapids: Bland, bland, bland. This one just smacks of lack of effort and imagination. Is it any wonder that the same can be said of the team to this point in its history? They probably should have gone ahead and changed their name to "Arsenal" when they formalized their relationship with the English club of the same name.

Columbus Crew: Probably my least favorite of them all. Horrible crest, horrible nickname, dodgy uniform colors. Supposedly the team name reflects the "blue collar nature" of the city- nothing like a nickname that could fit just about any other city anywhere!

D.C. United: One of the only teams to get it right from the beginning. A traditional name, no prepackaged "nickname," if memory serves, and no ugly uniforms in a league filled with them. Is it a coincidence that they've been one of the more successful franchises?

F.C. Dallas: The name and new traditional looking uniform are a massive improvement over the criminally bad uniforms and name- "Dallas Burn"- they began with.

Houston Dynamo: I can't complain about this one. After relocating from San Jose, they chose the name "Houston 1836," which, while creative, did offend a major part of their potential fan-bas (Mexican Americans). The second choice, and current name, not only reflects Houston's ties to the energy industry, previous Houston soccer teams, and is traditional (Dinamo Moscow).

Kansas City Wiz/Wizards: Only a slightly better logo than the Crew keeps this from being the worst of the group. I could almost stomach the the "Wizards" nickname if it had been given by the fans and not the choice of the club/league, but, of course, the team wanted to inspire the fans with the Frank Baum story/movie- what?!

Los Angeles Galaxy: Again, another team that should have chosen a more traditional name (L.A.F.C. or something similar) and allowed their fan base to create the nickname- "Stars," "Entertainers," or another name that reflected this or another aspect of the city's history.

Miami Fusion: I assume that the name was selected to "include" Miami's diverse population, and while that is admirable (I prefer "including" to "trying not to exclude"), it is also boring and it should have been no surprise when this team went out of business. Maybe something that reflected that Latin culture of the city would have been better- "Sporting Miami" perhaps?

New England Revolution: This is my team, but the best I can say about the name is that it's "okay," and about the uniforms, they're "okay" too. Neither is great. Clearly, the name of the club had to includ the whole region (N.E.F.C., N.E. United, etc.) and the nickname- if one had to be given- was going to be something historical, so one can't complain too much. HOWEVER, given the history of the area, the vibrant ethnic communities that still exist, and the natural beauty, I can't help but think we could have done better. And red, white, and blue as colors? A little predictable, but it relfects the Kraft's ownership of the N.E. Patriots as well.

NY/NJ MetroStars/Red Bull New York: Original name- blah. Original uniform- yawn. Since being purchased and rebranded by Red Bull, they look a great deal more legitimate.

Phildelphia TBAs: Given the amount of effort that groups like the Sons of Ben have put into getting their city a franchise in 2010 I hope that they will not be given an albatross of a team name. My suggestion, adopt the logo the Sons of Ben have created for themselves as the team's logo, and give the team a traditional name, something along the lines of Liberty F.C.

Real Salt Lake: The only good thing about this team's name connection with Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. The uniforms make the team look like they might be sponsored by a fast food chain.

San Jose Clash/Earthquakes: First team name- garbage. Second team name- reminds people of a natural disaster causing event...might not be a great idea. Original uniforms- atrocious. New uniforms- generic. I would have gone for NoCal F.C./United.

Seattle Sounders F.C.: See above.

Tampa Bay Mutiny: Basically a disaster from start to finish. The logo (some sort of stylized ray?) and nickname have no logical connection, and the team should have either been called "The Rowdies" from the beginning, or Tampa Bay F.C. and let the people call them "The Rowdies" on their own. And the Rowdies had better uniforms. Good riddance.

Toronto F.C.: Another team that appears to be doing it right. A normal team name, no team-created nickname, good uniforms, a full stadium even with a bad team, and great travelling support.

*Actually, it should be "Seattle F.C." and people would naturally refer to them as "The Sounders."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Champions!!

After one season in the Scottish Football League's Irn-Bru Second Divison Ross County F.C. have bounced right back up to the First Division by virtue of their 4-0 home victory today against Berwick Rangers.

The secures the team's immediate future as the additional revenue generated by returning to the First Division will allow them to remain a full-time team (professional rather than semi-professional), aid in bringing in better players, and allow the club's youth sides to receive the attention they need.

In the long term it would be great to see the team have several successful seasons in the First Division before anyone starts entertaining the idea of moving up to the Scottish Premier League. As Gretna F.C. has shown this year, rising too far, too fast can result in long hard drop in the end. That being said...

...'mon the Staggies!!

(Special thanks to the folks over at www.thejailender.com for the picture of today's post-game celebration.)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Winter Light

I finally watched my second Bergman film tonight- Winter Light. It's taken me a long time to watch my second Bergman film because I love the first, The Seventh Seal, so much- it is one of my favorite movies ever.

I'm not sure I can get too specific about what I liked about the film- and I did like it, but I think it is the sparseness of his movies. I also like that he has this one question, "If there is a God, why is he silent?" that he won't let go of. It is present in The Seventh Seal when the witch tells the knight sees "nothing" as she approaches her death and in Winter Light when the pastor has nothing helpful to say to the fisherman who comes to him looking for assistance.


I'm hooked, I'll be adding Through A Glass Darkly and The Silence to my Netflix queue immediately.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cool Gift

As I may have mentioned before, my best friend of over 20 years, Dr. McGenius, is "living the dream" and works at NASA-Goddard in Maryland.

In today's mail was a package from him which contained a NASA 50th Anniversary t-shirt with the logo to the left on the back and the NASA logo on the front. Very cool, I'm wearing it now.

Even more exciting, I've been promised some "mission-specific" gear (meaning it's not available to the public) in the future.

What is the moral of this "story?" Choose your friends wisely. Just because he worked at a farm stand for most of high school doesn't mean his future wasn't bright. And who knows, maybe someday, he'll be the first astronaut from Gilford, NH.

Well done, sir.