Saturday, March 29, 2008

Rangers @ Philadelphia 3/21/08

About a year ago, I went to see the Rangers play the Flyers, and the Rangers won. The Rangers went on to make it into the second round of the playoffs while the Flyers lost like 60 games or something ridiculous. Well, to commemorate that experience, I went again this year (editor's note: I went to the Maple Leafs/Flyers game on March 12th, but it was decidedly less-Rangers than the Rangers game was).

This go around, there appeared to be less Rangers jerseys and gear than last time I was in the Wachovia Center when New York was in town, although maybe it's because Philadelphia is fighting for a playoff spot and so their fair-weather fans are joining the hardcore fans to fill up seats. I had on a Giants jacket and I wasn't the only one sporting such attire. It's a little brazen wearing that kind of stuff in this city, as Philadelphia is a football town that's never see a Super Bowl victory and hates New York. I took or covered up anything on my car that may identify me as a fan so as to avoid getting my tires slashed or windows broken.

Despite the alcohol and general stupidity, the worst thing that happened to me was being called a faggot repeatedly by some frat boy (see New York Times, heterosexism is not a New York thing). I wasn't really paying attention until I had already turned the corner, and at that point I wasn't going to acknowledge him. He was probably disappointed that his sterling wit wasn't properly recognized.

Once again, I sat in the very last row, up by the ceiling. Fifty bucks doesn't exactly buy what it used to. Anyway, I could have showed up two hours late and not missed a thing, as the score was 1-0 Flyers after two periods, with the Rangers only taking 14 shots on goal.

The third period was thrilling, however. After the Flyers scored a second goal, the chants of "Rangers suck" began, rising into a crescendo until Marek Malik scored a 40 foot goal (observe it below beginning at the 1:20 mark). The Rangers quickly tied it a few minutes later with a goal by Nigel Dawes (say the name in a Robin Leach voice). The Flyers put the press on and earned a third goal, looking like they locked up the game. However, the Rangers put on a full assault and Jagr slipped in a goal with less than two minutes left in the game.

The Rangers went into overtime having earned a point, but when the shootout came, they couldn't finish. Brendan Shanahan and Dawes were both denied by Biron, while back-up goalie Stephen Valiquette let past two shots. Valiquette is a decent back-up by any measure, but he could not handle the one-on-one in this game. Mike Richards scored Philadelphia's first goal on the breakaway, and of course the two goals in the shootout were the equivalent of "breakaways."

On the trip down the stairs to leave, I shook a 7 year old's hand. He was there with what appeared to be his mom and aunt or something, and I wanted him to see that you could be a grown man attending a sporting event and not be a total asshole. I don't know if he'll remember, but people remember random things as they grow older. Maybe this will have some positive impact on him. Please, people, don't call me a hero. A great man, sure. But a hero? Not quite.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hillary Clinton sends me delusional emails

The latest:
Dear Christopher,

Have you noticed the pattern?

Every time our campaign demonstrates its strength and resilience, people start to suggest we should end our pursuit of the Democratic nomination.

Those anxious to force us to the sidelines aren't doing it because they think we're going to lose the upcoming primaries. The fact is, they're reading the same polls we are, and they know we are in a position to win.

In three days, we're facing a critical March filing deadline -- another chance to show the strength of our campaign. Let's take these three days to make something absolutely clear: we aren't going to simply step aside. You and I are going to keep fighting for what we believe in, and together, we're going to win.
As I understand it - and I have done little research on this issue, mind you - Obama already has the votes he needs for the party nomination. All of the extra primaries are just fluff. Clinton could get 100% of the delegates from the remaining states and still not have enough to earn the nomination. That's what I have heard, anyway, and, if true, that is the main reason she needs to step aside.

Furthermore, if she really has no shot at winning, then continuing to solicit money is both dishonest and criminal. I know she thinks delegates will switch to her if they see her strength, but the fact is, they won't. Neither candidate is going to get more than 60% of Democratic support, but I suspect that Obama's movement, along with his lack of baggage compared to Clinton's run as first lady and hated villain of the GOP, will help him maintain the delegates he's already earned.

This primary has shown to the country and the world, once again, that America's election process is one of the worst on the planet compared to other democracies. Delegates, elections that take months instead of a single day, a domineering and dominant two party system, no nudity; it's disgraceful.

Rockabilly for a Friday

Stray Cats - Storm the Embassy

The Specials - Ghost Town (note: ska)

The Cramps - What's Inside a Girl?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fantasy Life 2008

I love fantasy baseball. I got into it late in my life, but I'm not looking back. Never! I field fantasy teams in all four of the major American sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey), but I am most into fantasy baseball, as I actually know the sport pretty damn well. So well, in fact, that I mistakenly entertain notions that I could be a big league General Manager. I mean, I can't be worse than Sabean, right? Anyway, it's time for a new season, and the live draft was last week. It's a head to head league, and here's the statistical categories we use -

Offense: Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBI, Stolen Bases, AVG, OBP, SLG
Pitching: Innings Pitched, Wins, Saves, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, K/BB

I like the mix of traditional stats and slightly more advanced stats (SLG, K/BB), as well as the mix of counting stats (like hits) and average stats (like OBP). Anyway, my draft position was 13th in a 14 team league. This is how my team looks entering the season:

Ca - Jorge Posada, NYY
1B - Ryan Howard, PHI
2B - Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
3B - Chipper Jones, ATL
SS - Troy Tulowitzki, COL
OF - Alfonso Soriano, CHC
OF - Pat Burrell, PHI
OF - Josh Hamilton, TEX
DH - Kevin Youkilis, BOS
BN - Josh Willingham, FLA

SP - Chris Young, SDP
SP - Aaron Harang, CIN
SP - Tim Lincecum, SFG
SP - Shaun Marcum, TOR
SP - Greg Maddux, SDP
SP - Mark Buehrle, CHW
SP - Francisco Liriano, MIN
RP - Matt Capps, PIT
RP - Jason Isringhausen, STL
DL - Shawn Hill

It's a good thing I got to move Shawn Hill to the DL, because we only have 19 roster spots, and you may have noticed that I have 20 players. Yes, I forgot to draft a second baseman. The top second basemen were drafted very early, and I was not going to "overpay" for a mid-level pick, so I ended up forgetting to get one. Cabrera has a chance for a good year, though, so I can live with that.

A lot of people are down on Chipper Jones, but last year he ranked 7th overall in SLG and 7th in OBP while belting 29 homers with 102 RBI. Same deal with Pat Burrell. People kill him, but in the past three years all he's done is average 30 HR, 100 RBI, a 390 OBP and a 500 SLG%. If only we could all hit that way.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nigger Heaven

(Note: This post has nothing to do with the right wing's fear of an Obama White House)

When it comes to movies based on novels, I like to read the source material if I enjoyed the film. Although I'm not a big fan of the James Bond series of movies, I have been curious to read the books that inspired them, and so I picked up Ian Fleming's second 007 novel, Live and Let Die. I was blown how terrible it is.

In Live and Let Die, Fleming decided to take us into the exotic world people. Yes, black people. Bond takes a trip to Harlem early on:
He leant forward. 'Just listen in to the couple behind you. From what I've heard they're straight out of "Nigger Heaven".'
Bond glanced carefully over his shoulder.
She was pleading anxiously and paid no heed to Bond's quick embracing glance.
'Listen and see if you can get the hang of it,' said Leiter. 'It's straight Harlem - Deep South with a lot of New York thrown in.'
Bond picked up the menu and leant back in the booth, studying the Special Fried Chicken Dinner at $3.75.
'Cmon, honey,' wheedled the girl. 'How come yuh-all's actin' so tahd tonight?'
'Guess ah just nacherlly gits tahd listenin' at yuh,' said the man languidly. 'Why'nt yuh hush yo' mouff'n let me 'joy mahself 'n peace 'n qui-yet.'
It's 1954 and Bond is facing the curious people known as negroes, specifically the mastermind Mister Big, "the most powerful negro criminal in the world," the "head of the Black Widow Voodoo cult" and "also a Soviet agent." A commie nigger? Truly Bond's most deadly foe.

Mister Big is not really a voodoo follower, but he just uses it to intimidate the uneducated darkies of New York. "Bond reflected it was no wonder that the Big Man found Voodooism such a powerful weapon on minds that still recoiled at a white chicken's feather or crossed sticks in the road."

While Fleming writes unflatteringly about black people, he does demonstrate some levels of respect for them. That doesn't excuse his racist descriptions, but I mention it only to contrast how much Fleming actually hates another group of people - the elderly. Listening to the saucy femme of the book, Bond is horrified at the description of the wrinkled citizens of St. Petersburg. Upon hearing that the old farts go to bed at 9 o'clock, play shuffleboard, and talk on sidewalk benches, Bond replies, "sounds pretty grim." Indeed, Mr. Bond.

Ignoring Fleming's aforementioned foibles, the author actually demonstrates quite a knack for action scenes. They are the strength of the book, by far. Two scenes that stick out are the strip tease in Harlem and the gunfight in the warehouse. Fleming is very engaging and exciting in those regards.

Unfortunately, those scenes are uncommon. Most of the book is spent on boring, mundane details that add little and could have been trimmed. For example, I think Bond's breakfasts were described at least three times and as much as five. While Bond in the movies enjoys a vodka martini, Bond in Live and Let Die enjoys toast with marmalade. In fact, the only thing he consumes more of than marmalade is smoking. "I smoke about three packs a day," Bond informs his lady interest. Only three? Sounds like a lightweight.

All of my complaints, combined with a rather anti-climactic finale, lead me to not recommend this book. I could ignore the blatant racial stupidity if the rest of the book lived up, but it doesn't.