Sunday, June 29, 2014

Stay Positive: Visiting Wrigley Field

On Saturday we drove up early to watch the Nationals take on the Cubs in the 12:05 game, the first part of a scheduled double header. 

I haven't watched a game at Wrigley in a long time. I think the last time I went was when Mrs. Nasty and I were newlyweds, and at the end of July we will have been married 15 years. 

Anyway, the tickets were my Father's Day present, and I appreciate them. 

Our upper deck seats were great, Aisle 429 row 9 seats 7-10. We had three foul balls come our way. In the first inning two came right below us, and in the second, the guy right sitting right in front of my son caught a foul ball. 

Having seen the ball park pre-Rickets era, I have to say I'm fine with most of the changes. 

Where there was once just a massive sidewalk around Waveland and Addison is now some Captain Morgan bar that was doing a brisk business. Such changes were likely to happen. 

Wrigley Field needs a large jumbotron somewhere. 

The atmosphere, as usual, was great. Wrigley is a beautiful ball park. My kids and wife enjoyed the game, and we stimulated the economy by buying various Cubs paraphernalia. 

But I have two things to bitch about. 

Where the @#$% are the Old Style vendors? The mighty conglomerate of Anheuser-Busch has limited distribution of the fine, hearty lager from Wisconsin. Jesus, they have beer dudes hawking Goose Island crap in opposition to Bud Light hegemony, and I can't get a Old Style? 

Then again, beers were 8 bucks, so maybe I was better off with sipping on my daughter's lemonade from time to time. 

So here's the second point I have to complain about. The Cubs outfield is HORRIBLE. Or if you want to put it another way, you can use a deep Southern accent and say the outfielders we have are "turrible." 

What the Cubs have right now is a collection of outfielders that could be described as the "castoffs of other clubs" or the "isle of misfit outfielders."

Here are the players the Cubs are running out there on a regular basis: 
  • Justin Ruggiano: 104 at bats, 15 runs, 25 hits, 2 HRs, 10 RBI, .240 average, .333 OBP, .718 OPS
  • Junior Lake: 231 at bats, 27 runs, 54 hits, 9 HRs, 25 RBI, .234 average, .263 OBP, .675 OPS
  • Chris Coghlan: 99 at bats, 10 runs, 20 hits, 2 HRs, 4 RBI, .202 average, .282 OBP, .615 OPS
  • Nate Schierholtz: 245 at bats, 22 runs, 49 hits, 3 HRs, 27 RBI, .200 average, .253 OBP, .551 OPS 
  • Ryan Sweeney: 104 at bats, 8 runs, 21 hits, 0 HRs, 8 RBI, .202 average, .242 OBP, .484 OPS
As much as I hope Lake learns how to shorten his swing with two strikes and other players somehow become solid contributors, I'm not confident in such outcomes. Those counting and percentage stats are jaw-droppingly bad. Just really bad. 

Kris Bryant or Javier Baez need to learn how to play outfield. Soon.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Music Friday: "High Road"

John Fullbright's second album, Songs, came out this spring, and I've been listening to it pretty regularly. It's a solid effort, a slower-paced affair compared to From the Ground Up, which is an outstanding album. 

A representative sample from the new album is "High Road," a song about love and loss. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

On Tuesday I took the kids to the pool for the first time this summer. I didn't remember what time the local pool opened, so I checked the web. The site I was on stated the pool opened at 1 pm, so we didn't go until then. When we got the there, the pool was packed, and the real opening time is Noon. I complained to my kids that the website said it opened at 1 to which my daughter replied, "Just because it was on the web doesn't mean it's right." I know where she got that reply from. Me. A happy boomerang of parenting.

It's difficult not to notice a really bad tattoo, one of those ink jobs you look at and think, "That's horrible." I saw one at the local pool the other day that was not only horrible, but also it was despicable. Some dude had a large tattoo of the battle flag (stars and bars) and the official flag of the Confederate States of America on his back ~ smack dab in the middle of his back right below his shoulder blades. I might expect seeing a tattoo like this, say, in the Deep South where there are active lineage societies like United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans, but I was surprised to see it in east central Illinois.

After they came in the mail last week, it occurred to me that two books I bought have titles that start the exact same way. The two books are You Are Not Smart by David McRaney and You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier. In defiance of these titles, I might go around thinking of myself as a smart gadget. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Music Friday: "Salty Disciple" & "Triggers and Trash Heaps"

One of the new releases this summer that I'm digging is Centro-matic's Take Pride in Your Long Odds. And that's a great title for an album. 

Here's one of the songs from that album, "Salty Disciple," and a older song, "Triggers and Trash Heaps" from Fort Recovery

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

A couple of weeks ago I was on the website for Arizona State University for some reason I don't even remember anymore. When I was on the site, I accidentally clicked on a link for ASU Online. Now whenever I'm on certain websites, there are these ASU Online ads prominently displayed. I'm being stalked. Stop stalking me ASU Online. I'm done with taking classes. ASU Online, you creep me out. I'm not interested. 

If you get Harper's or have access to the magazine, I highly recommend this article from the June issue: "The Civil Rights Act's Unsung Victory" by Randall Kennedy. It's solid analysis of the act, its influence, and its connection to how people talk about race at present. Here's a passage that's worth noting: "The difficulty is distinguishing nonracist libertarianism from its fraudulent, pre textual lookalikes. There is good reason to be skeptical of those who, in the name of liberty, condemn a law that has rescued millions from the tyranny of unchecked racial ostracism." 

I have a subscription to Esquire magazine because getting subscriptions was one of the elementary school fundraisers this year. The magazine is usually bathroom-quality reading material, but the June/July issue focuses on fatherhood, and there are a number of good articles in it. One in particular is Stephen Marche's "Manifesto of the New Fatherhood." It's a good read for today, which is Father's Day. The last § or ¶ provides a strong summation of the situation: "At the heart of the new fatherhood is a somewhat surprising insight: Men, as fathers, are more crucial than anybody realized. The changing American father is transforming the country at all levels, from the most fundamental to the most ethereal, economically, socially, politically. The epidemic of fatherlessness and the new significance men place on fatherhood point to the same clandestine truth: The world, it turns out, does need fathers." 

Huzzah to good, responsible fathers. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stay Positive: American Gods

Last night I finished Neil Gaiman's American Gods

Below are some passages that demand to be shared:
  • "Ah, yes. The age of information--young lady, could you pour me another glass of Jack Daniel's? Easy on the ice--not, of course, that there has ever been any other kind of age. Information and knowledge: two currencies that have never gone out of style."
  • "Good." Wednesday grinned. "Too much talking these days. Talk talk talk. This country would get along much better if people learned to suffer in silence."
  • "Liberty," boomed Wednesday, as they walked to the car, "is a bitch who must be bedded on a mattress of corpses."
  • "This is the only country in the world," said Wednesday, into the stillness, "that worries about what it is." 
  • "No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they've never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that."
  • "I can get out of there," said Sweeney. "I can get away before the storm hits. Away from a world in which opiates have become the religion of the masses." 
  • People believe, thought Shadow. It's what people do. They believe. And then they will not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjurations. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe: and it is that belief, that rock-solid belief, that makes things happen." 

Music Friday: "Physical Cities"

Last week I bought a couple of CDs by The Bad Plus that were cheaper than downloading those albums. One of them is Prog, which I much prefer over For All I Care, which is the other album I purchased. 

I've become slightly addicted to the one song on Prog, and that song is "Physical Cities." It's a song that combines elements of jazz and rock with a slight heavy metalish timbre. 

Here goes that song. Have a good weekend.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stay Positive: Moist Towelette

Today I got a brisket sandwich, a side of potato salad, and a side of slaw for lunch from a local barbecue joint here in town.

That purchase revived my affection for the item called a "moist towelette." I like the concept, the product, and the whole term. 

It's the verbal gauntlet of "oist," the subsequent use of "owel," and the clipped "ette" that bring a smile to my face. When I say the term, it makes me feel like I'm saying something dirty. There's a lot of emphasis on "oi" and a soft "ow."

The words just sorta roll off the tongue in a fun way. Say it out loud a few times, and you should understand what I mean. Put the emphasis on "moist" when you say it. If you want to go even further, say moist in a sexy manner. If you didn't know exactly what it was, you might guess you would find the item advertised in an Adam & Eve catalog or something. For example, "Honey, you want to use the moist towelette tonight?" or "Would you be interested in a moist towelette?" 

Above all that fun, it's a highly functional product that more restaurants need to offer. 

Kudos to the moist towelette. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

One of the liquor stores in my town is called Gate Way Liquors. I wonder whether this name is because the owner of the place doesn't know how to spell "gateway" correctly or it's some term only a drunk person can figure out. 

I'm looking for a new TV series to get into. The Americans season is over, and I suspect Fargo is getting close to finishing its first season (and I hope there are more).

This spring I finished the full run of Gaiman's Sandman series. I really enjoyed it because of the ways he plays with mythology and religion while telling a heck of a tale. Of the Endless, Dream is obviously a great character, but I'm fond of his siblings Death and Destruction. And the issue "15 Portraits of Despair" is exceptional. Some other of my favorite characters are Matthew the Raven, Mervyn Pumpkinhead, Bast, the Three, Lucifer, Cluracan, and Hob Gadling

I'm now in the midst of American Gods. Good stuff so far. 

I bought a copy of the collected first volume of The Saga of the Swamp Thing that Alan Moore did. It was okay, but it didn't knock the edges off like Sandman and Mind MGMT

Speaking of which, I also had the pleasure of gobbling up volume 3 of that fine work. That graphic novel just keeps getting better and better. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Music Friday: "Gimme Shelter"

It a Rolling Stones kind of morning, folks. 

Here's a Stones song set to footage of Vietnam. 

Whenever I hear someone use the phrase "winning hearts and minds," I think about footage like this.