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


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 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.

Turning into a grown up, the saga continues...

Today I bought a chair and two tables for my kitchen, as well as a large kitchen island, and various accoutrement for my kitchen.

Thank you, Ikea.

In sad news, this means that the large green easy chair in my kitchen will now have to find a new home, which may turn out to be the dumpster behind my building.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Jules Dassin (1911-2008)

Jules Dassin, who directed the very recently deceased Richard Widmark in The Naked City, passed away yesterday in Greece- he was 96 years old.

Mr. Dassin direct many notable films, but as readers of this blog would expect, we are indebted to him for a string of brilliant films noir he directed from the mid-1940's through the mid-1950's: Brute Force, The Naked City, Thieves' Highway, Night and the City, and the French classic Du rififi chez les hommes (Riffi).

Among the actors he worked with were Joan Crawford, John Wayne, Mary Astor, Conrad Veidt, Charles Laughton, Lucille Ball, Burt Lancaster, Gina Lollabrigida, Yves Montand, Marcello Mastroianni, Anthony Perkins, Peter Ustinov, Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, and the aforementioned Richard Widmark.

In addition to being a gifted director, Dassin was a Greek patriot (despite being born in Middletown, CT- this author's hometown) who opposed the military regime that ruled that country from 1967-1974.

Sadly, like many of the better directors of his era, Mr. Dassin was also a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)- one of the main reasons that he began to work in France and lived in Europe during most of his later life.