Happy holiday weekend, evry'buddy, whether you're going to the beach, or, like us, to Pennsylvania, which is just like the beach only without the sand and water.
At Slacktivist: seemingly incontrovertible proof that Bush's Social Security rallies are altogether scripted and staged, and everybody knows it. And yet they continue to hold them.
This Poor Man post covers a lot of ground and is good reading overall, but particularly for the part where he discusses what he'd do with a billion dollars.
Juan Cole tells it like it is in Iraq: Sometimes you are just screwed.
Not so damn serious: David Plotz's barbecue tour has been tasty reading this week. Tor asks that we check out dads in kilts, specifically "utilikilts." Go by Scoop Stories and tell him the Big Fool sent you. And via Pandagon, check out these British troops who said "Hey! Let's put on a show!"
My daughter knows this much about computers: Daddy can make movies and stuff show up on the screen. If she sees me sitting at the desk she'll come over and say "Oobi!", I'll hoist her on my lap, and we'll visit noggin.com or something similar.
The other day we were on Noggin's site, and Lizzie demanded "Dora!" Dora's show is inane but tolerable, so off we went. They had a section titled "Dora Big Sister." OK, cool, Lizzie's about to be a big sister, so maybe this will be good. First there's Dora and Boots singing a song about being a big sister and sharing and caring and stuff. So far so good. But then we check out a clip titled "Catch the Babies."
"Boots! The babies fell in the stroller and it's rolling away!" Dora, Boots, and Dora's parents, inexplicably in their pajamas, run down the hill happily singing the "Come On Vaminos" song. "Where are we going?" (clap clap clap) "To catch the babies!" Quite calm, even jovial, considering that their infant children are rolling away down a freakin' hill. Most parents would be screaming "MY BABIES! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOHOOOOOOOOO!" But not Dora's folks, they're cool with it.
But wait, it gets better. We went on to the Super Babies song, in which Dora and Boots put the twins in a cart and roll down a hill with them without parental supervision, and the babies are revealed, inexplicably, to have super powers. Super hearing, super vision, and they can fly.
So much for giving toddlers realistic expectations of having a baby brother or sister. Of course, this show has a talking monkey, a singing backpack, and a fox with a mask who steals stuff, so I guess I shouldn't set my expectations so high.
I downloaded this over a week ago, and finally just watched it today, so apologies for not crediting wherever I picked it up. Behold, Pulp Hockey.
Just a couple today. Jeanne at Body & Soul has an excellent post on the ramifications of allowing prayer in school and other "inoffensive" expressions of religion in the public arena. Certain members of the left side of Olde Blogge Towne have said "Maybe we shouldn't fight this so hard." Easy for THEM to say. It leads straight to that Tyranny of the Majority that the more enlightened Founders were worried about. What do you MEAN you're not a Christian? EVERYONE 'round these parts is a Christian! What's your problem? You're going to hell, you know.
The other one: Greg Saunders posts at TMW on sane Christians who complain to him about being lumped in with the nutjobs. Greg suggests, rightly, that they spend less time carping to him, and more time working to prevent "Christians" from equalling "nutjobs." I could rewrite this piece about "Red Staters"--I grow weary of people living in Kansas or Tennessee or wherever griping "We're not all crazed Republicans here, you know" any time someone makes a statement about the Red States. Fine: get to work taking back your state government and your Congressional spots from the Republicans.
Not for me, but for my daughter, who just turned two. Yes, two years old and she's been to more ballparks than most Americans probably visit their whole lives. That's what happens when you've got me for a dad.
That said, we probably won't be taking her to a game again for some time. She did better than I expected, actually, but Mrs. Fool spent much more time attending to Lizzie than she did watching the game. I, on the other hand, was obligated to watch the game, to make sure no one hit a foul ball right at us. Lizzie did clap whenever a big cheer went up, and her eyes lit up when we sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (she has a little storybook of "Ballgame" at home, so she knows the song).
I swapped my tickets to Monday's game to some dude in exchange for Thursday's, and thus we were in a new locale, Section 210. We were right behind the visitor's dugout, and more than anything else it made me appreciate how well Livan Hernandez changes speeds. You could really tell the difference between a low 90s fastball and a big slow curve or change-up. I still haven't been able to decide who's my favorite Nat, but Livan is certainly in the running. Good post at Capitol Punishment today on how Livan can throw so many pitches and not have his arm fall off.
I whole-heartedly agree with the Nats blogosphere that Frank bunts way too much. No first-inning bunts this time, but he did bunt Guzman with a man on second, nobody out, and the pitcher due up in the 5th. Sure, Livan's a good hitter for a pitcher, but still, what? To make matters worse, Guzman tried to bunt with two strikes and fouled it off. I'd really like to know if that came from the bench, or if Guzman did it himself to show he could too bunt. Then Hammonds bunted successfully in the sixth with runners on first and second and no outs. Yes, one of those runners scored, but whatever. There are probability charts that I am too lazy to find right now which show that bunting will generally increase your chances of scoring one and only one run. That's fine if it's the bottom of the ninth and the score is tied. However, bunting decreases your chances of getting more than one run in just about every case. Early in the game, and just about any time really, I don't want to settle for one run at a time. Let the guys hit.
Anyway. Lizzie was overdue for her nap and kept trying to lie down on the concrete. The ballpark is a filthy, filthy place, so that was unacceptable. Thus we left right after "Ballgame," marking only the fourth time in my adult life I have left a game early. Previous excuses: 1. Had to go to a wedding rehearsal. 2. The Cannons were already way behind and made multiple errors in the top of the ninth; I was so disgusted that we left. 3. Extra-inning game in Baltimore that we left just before midnight; I wanted to stay but the other three people in our party outvoted me.
The Nats are off to Toronto for an old school Jays-Expos interleague matchup. I have tickets for the Braves on May 31 and the Fish on June 3 with no one lined up to go with me yet. Friends of the Big Fool are welcome to submit 100-word essays explaining why I should take you to the game.
I've decided I don't have enough crap to do, so I might take up "Ask the Shank" again. For the unfamiliar, it's a question-and-answer column I've done on and off for the Mobtown Shank blog/e-mail zine. People write in with questions about anything and everything, and I attempt to answer them using online research, my own head full of useless garbage, and some stuff I just make up. It's not at all a rip-off of The Straight Dope.
"Ask the Shank" has been off for a while, but I was just reading through some old installments and I kind of miss it. So if you have questions you're dying to have answered, send them to asktheshank - at - this domain. Questions about sports or food are much more likely to be answered. Toilet-related questions are frowned upon.
I must be ill or something, but I can't think of much to post about yesterday's 5-4 Nats victory. It was kind of nondescript. But I'll try.
By now everyone has seen Kitten War, a time-waster in which you choose the cutest kitty. You can also submit your own kitty, and I did so. And she was rejected.
I don't get it. She's not too broken up over it, though.
What a depressing week it's been. The election may have been stolen and only sportscasters will bring it up. You can't report on anything from the Iraqi insurgents' point of view, lest you be branded treasonous. Conservative pundits yawn while our soldiers die; they love the war but not enough to enlist. And the EPA is busy dismantling rules for lead-based paint standards, lest they be too expensive for businesses. Screw the kids who will get brain damage, apparently. Yes, it's a great time to be an American.
On the specials board yesterday at a place I frequent for lunch when I work downtown: "Meetloft curry." I was unable to locate this delight on the buffet when I went inside.
All these blog memes going around; think I'll try to start one. Pepsi has this contest right now in which you can win a "Sports Pass," which is 10 trips to sporting events: eight regular season, and two special events--championships, all-star games, or marquee events. Participating leagues are MLB, MLS, NASCAR, the Dew Action Sports tour and X Games, and the AND 1 Crazy Street Hoops Tour. All 10 must be taken by December 1 of next year. So the obvious question: If you win, where are you going?
The special events are easy: a World Series game and the MLB All-Star Game (next year's in Pittsburgh--this year's in Detroit wouldn't fit in my personal schedule). I love baseball too much to pass those up. I've been to MLS Cup and All-Star games, and while the Daytona 500 or the Winter X Games would certainly be entertaining, I couldn't miss baseball's big events.
For the eight regular-season tickets (which each come with a two-night stay), some are easy. As you might imagine, baseball would again be the focus. Tampa and Miami, since I haven't been to their parks, plus they're in Florida. San Francisco, to see the new ballpark and visit our friends there. Boston, since I went to Fenway when I was 10 and didn't sufficiently appreciate it at the time. With only a three-day trip, do I want to haul ass to LA or San Diego? Probably--make the official trip to Dodger Stadium, and schedule it as such as I can go to Anaheim on my own the day before or after.
Three left. I am by no means a NASCAR fan but would like to check out a race just to see what it's like. Conveniently, there's a track in Las Vegas and a race there in March, so there you go.
With two trips left, do I stick to baseball or spread it around? Eh, spread it around. I'm not a big fan of extreme sports, but it might be cool to see in person; that tour has an event in Orlando, so there you go. And the street-hoops thing would be fun; their schedule doesn't go out past the summer, so it would be a matter of figuring out the most interesting place to go see it.
Soccer, sadly, is left out. I am a long-time DC United fan, but seriously, where am I going to want to travel to for an MLS match? Columbus? The Meadowlands?
It won't become a meme unless I specifically assign other people to do it, so let's harass Mikel, Jeem, and the Jackalope. Of course, all are welcome to participate, and I'll promote your trackbacks to the post so all six of my readers will see them.
After far more search hits than I thought possible, I have to say: It's garter snakes, people. Not "gardner." Don't they teach basic herpetology in the schools anymore?
A church in North Carolina makes it official: Democrats can't be good Christians, at least not in their building. It will be interesting to see if other churches follow suit and just how far this goes.
Via somewhere or other I was led to this blog full o' mashups, including a seat of Beatles mashups titled "Revolved" (torrents available here). I haven't grabbed 'em myself yet, but it looks to be promising.
Finally, a high school softball coach gets suspended after leading his team to a 55-0 victory. I agree that this is ridiculous, and I'd like to know what the guy was thinking. I coach our office's co-ed team, and if we get ahead by ten runs, I usually call off the dogs--I tell my team to swing at borderline pitches rather than trying to work walks, don't take egregious extra bases, stuff like that. On one occasion we were up by over 20 runs and I personally tapped back to the pitcher intentionally and didn't run to first just to get an inning over with. It's one thing to beat another team soundly, it's another to humiliate them.
There are few things more exciting than the last minute of a basketball game where the two teams are separated by three points or less. There are few things more tedious than the last minute of a basketball game where the two teams are separated by four to ten points.
That's how the last two Wizards-Bulls games have gone. Wiz up by 10 or so with a minute to play. Bulls rush down the court, make a three-pointer. Wizards inbound, Bulls immediately foul. Wizards shoot free throws. Repeat endlessly. Total time off the clock for each iteration: maybe four seconds. Resemblance to the game played for the previous 47 minutes: minimal. It's like the shootout of early MLS days, which was vaguely soccer-related but just felt like the wrong way to settle a close game.
I was quite distraught that the Wiz almost lost this game. It seemed grossly unfair that they could so dominate a basketball game for so long, then be forced into this prolonged, bizarre free-throw shooting vs. frantic three-pointer contest. When Arenas finally hit the winner, I jumped out of my chair and shouted "SUCK ON THAT, CHICAGO!"
Just part of the game and its overall strategy? Sure, but it's a sucky one. And no, it's not like the intentional walk in baseball. Yes, you can intentionally walk the other team's best player, but you can't intentionally walk the entire line-up. Eventually, you've got to pitch to someone. The trailing basketball team has no obligation to let the other team play their game--foul, foul, foul away.
Can this be fixed? The best way would be to actually call intentional fouls when they happen. Wasn't this a rule change a few years back, but they never call it in the last minute of the game? Actually calling the intentional fouls in the last minute, and giving the fouled team two shots plus possession, would put a stop to this right quick.
Another option might be to decrease the number of fouls to foul out back to 5. Thus a trailing team would be at greater risk of losing players if they get all foul-happy late in the game.
My radical solution: Since the first three quarters of the game are irrelevant anyway, make a game 10 or 12 minutes long. Three fouls to foul out. Play a best-of-five set on any given night. I can dream, can't I?
Some time ago I issued a challenge: don't just stand there repeating "Hillary Clinton lies about everything." Document the lies. Give me a quote that she said on the record, and give me a clear, unambiguous refutation. I still only have two legit issues raised: one over her purported Yankee fanhood, and one over whether she believed Bill when he said he wasn't fooling around. But that's it, and if those are the only things Hillary has ever lied about she's a hell of a lot cleaner than any random politician you might encounter on Capitol Hill. (Of course, the fact that I have only six readers and they're pretty much all crazy liberals like me might have something to do with the lack of response.)
So in that vein I am amused by STOP HER NOW, a web site that purports to "the TRUTH about just who Hillary Clinton really is." And apparently that truth is "She's a liberally liberal lib libby liberal." Short on specifics, but they do say she has an "extreme left-leaning agenda of government-run national health insurance, sky high taxes, and giving felons the right to vote." Also, "The Clintons [sic] national defense policies left us weak and vulnerable in a dangerous and hostile world."
List of/links to proposed bills that forward this horrible liberal agenda? Nope.
Discussion of why exactly national health insurance is bad? Nope.
Note that the armed forces that went into action after 9/11 were essentially what Clinton had wrought? Nope.
Acknowledgement of Bush's screwed-up defense policies, the Army's extreme difficulties in recruitment, and the fact that a majority of Americans now think going to war in Iraq was a mistake? Girl, please.
The rest of the site: a self-congratulatory press release, a mailing list sign-up, and a donation page. Well, they've certainly convinced me.
So, folks from Stop Her Now, when you see six new hits in your server log and come over to sniff it out: You are welcome to post comments listing specific Hillary Clinton lies. Or, just send over a bunch of frothing wingnuts to tell me I'm a crazy liberal Hillary-lover who hates America and I should be put in jail or shot. That'll work too.
The RFK tarp shot below is also from the phone. Not terrific quality, but not as crappy as I was expecting, either.
big ass scan [A scan of a big ass? A big scan of an ass? A scan that's big-ass? What?]
alot of big donkey for sale in Florida
michael jackson fingernails
terri zhivago blog [Dr. Zhivago's PVS cousin?]
terry schiavo numa numa [good gravy I'd hate to see this.]
death of notorious b.i.g [I blame the Jackalope for this one]
how can I fool mlb.tv
Yankees suck wallpaper
yip yip Martians video [yes! someone got what they wanted!]
I Got Game Fool
give me freakin pictures of gardner snakes
UPDATE: Just came in today... "who had the firt mascot in baseball." Yes, this blog includes the word "firt." A typo, to be sure, but now I feel obligated to leave it that way.
All this being away from my computer is making me crazy. Of course, that also cuts down on the number of links I have for you.
Speaking of crazy, enjoy the Slacktivist's takedown of all them persecuted American Christians. Of course, they'd use this very post as further evidence that they're persecuted.
When he's not busy laughing at me, Andrew F. laughs at the chimp that smokes.
Well, THAT was quite the memorable game.
I had previously complained about the pitching matchup. But Zach Day couldn't answer the call, so instead we got... Tomo Ohka. Even better. Except, Ohka pitched lights-out--6 IP, 0 R, 3 K. Remind me not to say anything bad about him for a while.
That whole visiting-team cheering I was expecting from Philly fans on Wednesday that never materialized? New Yorkers provided that in spades tonight. Jeez, if you love New York so much, why don't you still live there? But it made the top of the 5th that much better. Piazza leads off with a base hit. Mientkiewiecz hits a come-backer, but Ohka wings it into center field (the rains had started in earnest). He then whiffs Wright, but walks Diaz. The Mets fans are going bonkers, and the 4-0 lead looks dicey. But Ohka strikes out Eric Valent and gets another come-backer from Reyes, and he doesn't throw this one away. NICE.
It rained non-stop from there on out. Sometimes heavy, sometimes light. The umpires finally called for the tarp to start the bottom of the 6th, and for the first time I can ever recall the grounds crew got a rousing ovation. That one lasted about half an hour.
It started coming down hard again in the top of the 8th, leading to wildness on the part of Majewski and a 3-run Mets rally. Frank Robinson showed some life and actually got tossed for beefing about the field conditions (I'm sure it was his choice of words that made the difference). The Mets took the field for the bottom of the 8th, they watched DeJean take his warm-up pitches, and then they called for the tarp again.
But then the grounds crew had a little problem. Apparently when they rolled up the tarp after the first delay, they hadn't done it correctly and it was still water-logged. So they got that puppy about halfway unfurled, then couldn't pull it any further. They looked a bit undermanned, so the Nat Pack t-shirt flinging crew came out to help. Pulled the tarp partway back, then stretched it out again... still no luck. Three or four fans jumped the first-base railing to try to help, but they got hauled away by security (Andrew F. suggested they let them pull the tarp, then arrest them). The fans who were left were well entertained by the whole spectacle, chanting "Let's Go Grounds Crew!" Even the jumbo-tron operator got in on it, putting up "National Tarp Pull" and "Pull! Pull! Pull!" Finally, after 33 minutes and the rains letting up, they got the damn thing over the field.
Funny, but embarassing too. You'd think the Nats and MLB could hire an experienced grounds crew chief away from another team so they'd know how to handle these things. If they had covered the field promptly, they might have finished the game, but it took so long and the field drains so poorly that there was no way they could finish. Game called after 7 1/2, Nats win 5-3. Yay. Watch for this one on SportsCenter's Not Top 10 next Saturday.
One other notable thing: Jose Guillen was plunked twice by Victor Zambrano, and did not charge the mound. Guess those sessions are paying off.
After tonight's game, the Nats are off to Cali and Arizona for two weeks. Can I survive two weeks without going to the ballpark? I suppose I could go see the P-Nats to tide me over. See you at the Cubs game on the 15th.