Monday, January 01, 2024

As The World Turns

 Hello world. Happy new year.

This has been a lousy year at this blog. It's been bad for a while, but this year - yikes.

Well - 2023 was a pretty lousy year all around. For me, maybe not the worst - the worst thing to happen was my poor cat dying, which still hurts. I have to get a new cat. I need a cat. The rest of my life has been mostly just empty - I am lazy, bored and boring, stuck in a rut, etc. Bad habits abound, most of them related to sitting on the couch looking for YouTube videos to watch. Terrible.

That's me. The world has been a good deal worse. The Ukraine war has dragged on another year, with no end in sight. Hamas attacked Israel shamefully, touching off another war int he middle east. Israel has retaliated in almost almost inconceivably evil ways. There is no end in sigh there and not much likelihood of anything good coming out of it. 

The presidential election campaigns are already in full swing, with one party pretending to nominate a bunch of schmucks, but really intending to nominate a criminal, if he cam make it on the ballot. The Democrats on the other hand can't seem to manage to point out that they are in fact running the country pretty well - the economy continues to roll along, even last year's inflation panic mostly gone by the wayside - though there is more than enough to complain about. I don't know. Biden and company do seem far too pro-Israel to really do any good in the middle east. They are at least steadfastly pro-Ukraine, but the Republicans are just as resolutely pro-Putin, so things stall. Ugly.

Well - that's the world. Me? I will note one or two things, right? I did get a new couch, which made the poor cat very happy for the last month or so or her life. The Rangers won the world series - I did not see it coming, but maybe should have. It is cool when anyone wins their first, and I have had a soft spot for the Rangers for a while. And of course am delighted to see Nathan Eovaldi get ring number 2. What else? I managed to watch a fair number of movies, including a few new releases - Asteroid City, which is a great delight; the new Venture Brother's movie, sending me off to watch the rest of the VBs run; the D&D movie, which stunk, though it was almost redeemed by stealing a Coen brothers joke at the end; what's that - three new movies? No - four! Renfield! amusing, though a bit dumb. And so on. I also watched a couple movies I had never seen before - I hesitate to name them, as it will cause shock and consternation, but - I finally watched Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. Whatever that is worth.

I tried to read this year, but didn't finish a lot. I currently am in the middle of reading The Heat's On (Chester Himes), Alice in Wonderland, Bulldog Drummond, Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas, and probably a couple others I have forgotten - I might even finish one of them eventually. 

And music? I don't listen to music very systematically - mostly surfing YouTube or picking something out on the iPhone - but I do get interested in things. The past few years have seen me get all excited about The Small Faces, the Kinks, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Echo and theBunnymen - this year? I spent a lot of time surfing through Les Claypool videos and lately ghave grown obsessed over the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. Good stuff there. 

And so end it with a song in common between SAHB and Les Claypool: Jerry Reed's Amos Moses. Have a happy new year!

Monday, July 24, 2023

A Farewell

I am breaking blogging silence with some very sad news. My cat died last week. It seemed very sudden - Saturday she was having trouble breathing, but she was still moving fine, eating, though with some difficulty; but by Wednesday she was suffering bad, and Thursday morning, she went, while I was waiting for the local vet's to open to take her in. Poor old thing.

She was oldish - 13. Not ancient. I have had her for 12 1/2 years. She has been a superb cat. She was part of a litter my brother's cat had - 4 of them - John, Paul, George and Ringo. They had given away John and George, and let me have my pick of Paul or Ringo. Paul was a handsome boy - black and white tuxedo - but he also seemed a bit too rambunctious. Ringo was playful and friendly, but calmer, and that seemed like a good idea for an apartment cat. So Ringo it was - New Year's 2011.

(There they all are, 13 years ago.)

She turned out to be just about perfect. She was a fun cat, but she wasn't really wild - good in an apartment. She was friendly and social, but not needy - good when it's just the two of us most of the time. She was very sweet and good natured, she loved attention - she could be shy around other people, but 10 minutes later she would be plopped in the middle of the table expecting everyone to pet her. She was a joy.

(Always ready to help out on the computer.)

She was healthy as a horse, for almost all that 13 years. This last week or so is the first time she has given me anything to worry about. She didn't even have hairballs or puke, like most cats - unless she got to eating plastic, which she certainly did. Phone cords, plastic bags, the occasional connecting wire (chewed through the wire from my Roku to the TV, back in the days when I thought a Roku might be handy.) That was it, though. It makes me wonder if she ate something bad this time - I don't know what - but she acted like she might have swallowed something, and it all happened fast. I don't know.

I will miss her. She loved her new couch - 

She loved my old chair. Poor old kitty. Rest in peace, old friend...

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Spring Springing (ie, Baseball)

 Hello world. I am still kicking around out here, though I am not kicking around here much anymore. The world has changed. But Baseball is back, and though I don't really have anythign profound to say about it - I am going to say something.

Things are different in the baseball world. The game keeps trying to upgrade itself, with - well, some kind of results. This year, the big noise is about pitch clocks - requiring pitchers and hitters to get in there and play, with consequences for time wasting. There may be some downsides to this - I don't know what they are likely to be. Sure, it would be nice of players got on with things unprodded, but they did not, so, prod away! I don't know if this will end up solving anything, but it seems to me to be abn altogether good thing.

Other rules? they have done something with shifts - I haven't paid too close attention to it, so I can't comment too much. I don't think I like it - I don't think I would like any restrictions on how you play defense. It bugs me. And bugs me that they are changing the rules to help players who aren't good enough or smart enough to go the other way once in a while. Why change the rules to help Joey Gallo? that makes no sense. That is my general take on it. In fact, I don't know if I would even notice. 

Good enough. The main damage with rules changes came a couple years ago when they started putting runners on base in extra innings. Disgraceful! I don't know what to say about crap like that.

So I won't say anything. Instead, the traditional uninformed guesses about who shall win what this year. Less informed than I used to be, for sure.

AL East:

1. Tampa - they are undefeated so far. I mean - it's early and all, but they were always going to be one of the main contenders. How they do it I don't know, but they do. Will they last? More likely than not.

2. NY Yankees - hateful as it is, I suppose they are going to be in the thick of things.

3. Toronto - off to a bad start, but they have too much talent to stay bad. They should be in the post season picture all year.

4. Baltimore - I don't know if I believe that they will stay ahead of the sox all year, but they did last year, and the red sox - yikes. Put the O's ahead and hope I am wrong.

5. Boston - yikes. They are hitting, at least they hit the first series. They are hard to gauge - bad as Sale and Kluber were the first time out, they could find their groove and be useful again. It happens. Look at late John Lackey; look at Verlander post elbow surgery. If it does happen, the sox could be a lot better than this. If it doesn't happen, the rest fo the staff is dire, and the offense is not one to carry them. So, lots of margin for error on any kind of pick. Though - bad is the most likely, unfortunately.

AL Central:

1. Cleveland - they seem to be still right there. 

2. Minnesota - off to a good start, and carrying some decent players. Joey Gallo, with the rules in his favor! And Carlos Correa, whose every attempt to escape the twin cities was thwarted. There's a guy with something to prove. So - yeah, they might be in it for the long haul.

3. Chicago - I think they missed their chance to be a contendere, but they should be decent I would think.

4. Detroit - you know; after thoughts. Which is better than being dogs.

5. KC - probably dogs. What do they have on this team? Oh my god! Jackie Bradley Jr.!

AL West:

1. Houston - obviously.

2. Seattle - solid last year, and should be right in the thick of things this year.

3. Angels - poor Mike Trout and Shohei Otani. Get some life around them! give thm a shot! They are doing okay so far - keep it up boys! keep it up!

4. Texas - they're passable so far, but I don't see much hope. They keep throwing money around, but it doesn't seem to work. They have Jacob de Grom, but he gave up more in his first start than in his entire major league career to date [that might be a slight exaggeration], and he is not young or healthy anymore. They also have Nathan Eovaldi to take up a DL slot. So - it would be nice to see them play well, but it's not likely.

5. Oakland - I don't see a lot of wins here.

NL East:

1. Atlanta - they seem to be carrying on as before.

2. NY Mets - they keep signing ancient but still viable pitchers, and should hang around. I don't know if they can live up to last year though.

3. Philly - off to a bad start, but they have a decent team, and should do all right.

4. Miami - they show up, right? 

5. Washington - do they show up? They'd be better off if they didn't.

NL Central:

1. St. Louis - they still have the core; they should be fine.

2. Milwaukee - they're usually respectable, and are playing well early - no reason to pick against them.

3. Chicago - I don't know fi they are any good, but - they have some ball players. Maybe they will amount top something.

4. Pittsburgh - they have been working over the hapless Red Sox this week. I hope they win some games - Pirates fans deserve a bit of success.

5. Reds - anything to see here? No idea, frankly. 

NL West:

1. LA Dodgers - see Houston above. They're already winning, unless the Astros.

2. San Diego - they have signed every shortstop in the western hemisphere and a few in the eastern. Sooner or later it should pay off. (Xander Bogaerts has three bombs!)

3. San Francisco - I suppose so. Who do they have these days? I am too lazy to click.

4. Arizona - there is no reason to pick them ahead of Colorado except they are off to a better start and I have a couple of them on a fantasy team. That's enough for me.

5. Colorado - vice versa. I do hope Daniel Bard comes back - he's always been a fascinating story, and a guy I want to see doing well.

Okay - that's that. That means the post season? 

AL: TB - Cleveland - Houston; wild cards = New York - Seattle - Toronto, in the end.

NL: Atlanta - SL - LA; wild cards: San Diego - New York - Milwaukee.

There you go. The default World Series I suppose is Houston and LA; NY or TB are quite capable... so are Atlanta, SD, SL I would think. No surprises, I suppose. For a good black horse? What the hell - Boston! Sale and Kluber healthy - I don't believe it, but I will say it, because there's no point picking a surprise if they're not going to be surprising. Or the Angels, for most of the same reasons. 

We'll see if I get anything right other than LA and Houston... 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

My Top 100 Films

 My friends, it has been years since I have done a decent list post here, or anywhere else. But the time is at hand - partly inspired by Sight & Sound's once a decade poll, Sammy Juliano at Wonders in the Dark has organized a massive poll, top 100s from anyone interested. How can I miss such a thing? And even if these days any kind of post here is a rarity and exercise in nostalgia - here is it.

100 films. I have ranked them, but though I might defend the first dozen or so in this order, the rest are, at best, more like bunches of 8-10 at a time, and all pretty well arbitrary. But that's all right. It's more fun to agonize over whether Rashomon is better than Mouchette than it is to give up and list them alphabetically, even if it is mostly meaningless. So consider all of this in order. Here you go:

1. M - Lang
2. Rules of the Game - Renoir
3. It’s a Wonderful Life - Capra
4. Early Summer - Ozu
5. McCabe and Mrs Miller - Altman
6. The General - Keaton
7. The Maltese Falcon - Huston
8. Celine and Julie Go Boating - Rivette
9. Pierrot le Fou - Godard
10. Vertigo - Hitchcock
11. Duck Soup - McCarey
12. Seven Samurai - Kurosawa
13. The Pornographers - Imamura
14. City of Sadness - Hou
15. Late Spring - Ozu
16. Nosferatu - Murnau
17. Ivan the Terrible I&II - Eisenstein
18. His Girl Friday - Hawks
19. Ugetsu Monogatari - Mizogushi
20. Aguirre Wrath of God - Herzog
21. Playtime - Tati
22. Blue Velvet - Lynch
23. Out 1: Noli me Tangere - Rivette
24. Vivre sa Vie - Godard
25. Pather Panchali - Ray, S
26. Gospel According to St Matthew - Pasolini
27. Touch of Evil - Welles
28. Breathless - Godard
29. High and Low - Kurosawa
30. Nashville - Altman
31. Mr Smith Goes to Washington - Capra
32. Tokyo Story - Ozu
33. Rushmore - Anderson
34. Mystery of Kaspar Hauser - Herzog
35. I Was Born But… - Ozu
36. Inland Empire  - Lynch
37. Insect Woman - Imamura
38. The Big Sleep - Hawks
39. Bride of Frankenstein - Whale
40. Citizen Kane - Welles
41. Rear Window - Hitchcock
42. Brighter Summer Day - Yang
43. Trouble in Paradise - Lubitsch
44. Fires on the Plain - Ichikawa
45. Night of the Hunter - Laughton
46. Alphaville - Godard
47. The Long Goodbye - Altman
48. Pigs and Battleships - Imamura
49. Dr Strangelove - Kubrick
50. Killing of a Chinese Bookie - Cassavetes
51. Yi Yi - Yang
52. Gold Rush - Chaplin
53. A Woman under the Influence - Cassavetes
54. Satantango - Tarr
55. Sweet Smell of Success - McKendrick
56. Late Chrysanthemums - Naruse
57. Intentions of Murder - Imamura
58. Imitation of Life - Sirk
59. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs - Naruse
60. Killer of Sheep - Burnett
61. The Searchers - Ford
62. Osaka Elegy - Mizoguchi
63. Blue Angel - Sternberg
64. Breaking the Waves - Von Trier
65. Rebel without a Cause - Ray, N
66. Fort Apache - Ford
67. The Man With the Movie Camera - Vertov
68. Sansho the Bailiff - Mizoguchi
69. Bringing up Baby - Hawks
70. The Third Man - Reed
71. Rashomon - Kurosawa
72. Mouchette - Bresson
73. Camera Buff - Kieslowski
74. Frankenstein - Whale
75. Touch of Zen - King Hu
76. Fallen Angels - Wong
77. Love me Tonight - Mamoulian
78. Some Like it Hot - Wilder
79. A Hard Day’s Night - Lester
80. 400 Blows - Truffaut
81. Ordet - Dreyer
82. Mabuse the Gambler - Lang
83. Fitzcarraldo - Herzog
84. Top Hat - Sandrich
85. A Man Escaped - Bresson
86. Germany Year Zero - Rosselini
87. Sans Soleil - Marker
88. Metropolis - Lang
89. The Awful Truth - McCarey
90. Dead of Night - Multiple
91. A Man Vanishes - Imamura
92. Sun’s Burial - Oshima
93. Fargo - Coen Brothers
94. Make Way for Tomorrow - McCarey
95. The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On - Hara
96. Kings and Queen - Desplechin
97. Vengeance is Mine - Imamura
98. O Brother Where Art Thou - Coen Brothers
99. Testament of Dr. Mabuse - Lang
100. Los Angeles Plays itself - Anderson

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard has died. That generation has been going - is he the last one left? It is getting close. He was one of the big ones - for me, he is close to the most important film maker of all time. For me, he is close to the best film maker of all time - though no one could pass Ozu. But importance? You can make a case for some of the filmmakers in the silent era - Griffith, Murnau, Lang, Eisenstein, Chaplin - they made the form. But after that? He was a public figure as well as a filmmaker, and he set the agenda for art films for the last 60 years. Sometimes, he did this as much as a figure to define cinema against as what cinema was - but he was still there, at the center of it, making films, talking about films, demanding viewers and readers respond to films.

I responded to his films. He was one of my introductions to art films - back in the 80s, I saw Aphaville, and was caught. It was mind-blowing - beautiful, strange, funny - and for all its difficulty, and his reputation for difficulty, readily accessible. I saw Breathless not too much later and enjoyed it just as much. His 60s films, at least, are usually like this - there is plenty to hang on to as you work through their intricacies. They are still among the most enjoyable films of all time. Alphaville, Breathless, Pierrot le Fou, Vivre Sa Vie, Week End, Contempt - all rich, gorgeous works, entertaining, challenging, inventive, everything. His later films, admittedly, are harder sledding - but they are still gorgeous, and the more recent ones, leaning into the collagist aesthetic he has always embraced, are quite enjoyable as well, in their somewhat more specialized way. 

So - he was instrumental in forming my taste in films, in defining what I thought film could do. I may have been predisposed to artsy films, but he gave me art films that I could sink my teeth into. He made films that remain completely satisfying, at every level, that deepen every time I watch one of them. He was one of the greatest of them all - for me, it's Godard and Ozu at the top, no mistakes. I will miss him. That generation - the New Waves, French, English, Japanese and so on - are almost all gone. And Godard was the center of that generation, and now he is gone. 


Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Sports Ball Returns!

Time for some Baseball Predictions. I haven't posted one of these in a couple years - they were a staple on this humble blog for a long time, but things have been fucked up and bullshit for the last couple years... This year it looked like baseball was oging to be fucked up and bullshit, but somehow they unfucked it at the last minute. It is - well, it is a relief, my friends. Enough so that I will not spend half this post whining about the stupid rules they are foisting on us, from that runner on second in extras to - whatever other stupid rules I was going to vent about. I will stick to predicting! Though honestly, I have almost no idea what is going on in baseball anymore, so these predictions will be somewhere between rolling dice and parroting ESPN. Hey - can't let that stop me! 


1. Tampa Bay - I don't really know who to pick, to tell the truth. This is widely regarded as an extraordinarily deep division - yeah, it is. I should probably just pick Boston to win, but instead I;ll go with Tampa to repeat. Largely because the game has evolved into a short innings pitching game and no one has mastered the art of openers and middle relief more than the Rays. 

2. Boston - because I am not picking the Yankees, and am not sure about Toronto. But yeah. this is pretty arbitrary. I do think the Sox are going to do well - obviously some of the pitching health is key - but they should hit, and I think they are going to get more pitching than they let on. If Sale ever comes back? Why not dream big?

3. Toronto - they have got a lot of talent on there don't they. They have Kevin Gausman? Was last year real? etc. At least beat the Yankees, all right boys?

4. NY - probably not bad at all, but it's the Yankees! I have to hope they lose.

5. Baltimore - poor Baltimore.


1. Everyone's picking Chicago - I suppose they should, shouldn't they? They look like they should do all right, though - will they?

2. Minnesota - they went from world beaters to awful last year and - now they have CArlos Correa - they have Gary Sanchez, and will they have the sense to let him bat without donning the tools of ignorance? They should be back in the thick of it, though do they have pitching?

3. Cleveland Guardians - Tito's back, Ramirez and Bieber are there - I am reaching the limits of my knowledge. They should have a shot, right?

4. Detroit - I am shocked to discover that Detroit wasn't terrible last year. Not good, but not terrible. They have Javier Baez now, and Austin Meadows - they have E-Rod! I love E-Rod, and wish him well. I hope the cats exceed expectations and win something this year. They might not be all that bad.

5. KC Royals - I can't name a single player on this team in 2022. I will now go look them up: holy crap! Zach Greinke is back! And I forgot about Andrew Benintendi and young Mondesi. They were not awful last year. who knows, perhaps they won't be awful this year. 

AL West:

1. Houston - I mean, they are supposed to win it.

2. Seattle - they were pretty good last year, look like they could be decent this year. No harm in it.

3. Angels - can they be any good? who cares - I hope to god they are good. a team with Tr9out and Ohtani together better win something, just once - win something! 

4. Oakland - I think they are planning for the future again. I'm sure they will get back into things. Tampa west kind of right?

5. Texas - can I name anyone on this team? They have Martin Perez back! and though I could not have named them - I see they have Corey Seager and Marcus Sieman - maybe there's life in the middle of Texas too. 

Champs? Odds are still good on Houston, I think. Though sure - any of the east teams, the White Sox all have a real shot, and a couple fo the dark horses might get in on the fun.

NL East:

1. Atlanta - don't have Freddie Freeman, should get Ronald Acuna back - no reason to pick against them.

2. Philadelphia - I don't know if there's any reason to pick them, but I am going to. I like a bunch of these guys. Go get em!

3. Mets - I see their luck is holding up, with de Grom and Scherzer hurt. I like de Grom and Scherzer, and Lindor, but I don't like the Mets. They can lose.

4. Washington - Soto deserves better. Though he has his ring.

5. Miami - I have heard of some of the guys on their roster, though I wouldn't have guessed they were in Miami. Yep. Nope.

NL Central:

1. Milwaukee ot repeat - works for me.

2. St Louis - seems about right. They have what they had, right, more or less? no major changes?

3. Chicago - no good reason to pick them ahead of the Reds is there? No good reason not to, right?

4. Reds - ditto, reversed? I don't know. ˜either of these teams look like contenders, but they aren't the Pirates either.

5. The Pirates appear to be the Pirates, though.

NL West:

1. LA Dodgers - it is a force of nature out there. Fine - prove it! Win another one for Mookie!

2. San Diego - this may not be justified, but they looked ready last year, went completely to shit in the second half - I think things will get better. 

3. SF Giants - they won far more than they had any right to last year, and things are likely to correct - but it's still a good team, and a team that plays as a team, so - yeah, they will be in on the action.

4. Colorado - I mean, they don't look awful, on paper, do they? they aren't challenging fo9r anything.

5. Arizona - it's my favorite refraibn - until I looked them up, I could not have named any of them. Now - I did sort of remember that Madison Bumgarner was there, and Ketel Marte existed - that's about it. I don't see a lot of wins there.

Champs? Gotta pick the Dodgers, obviously. There are a few teams that could do it, with any luck, though.

World Series? I know what I want - Boston vs Atlanta. I don't think I can stand to watch Boston take on Mookie, though. I have not forgiven them for trading him, and will not. So Dodgers it is, and no complaint.

Sunday, February 27, 2022


What interesting times we live in. I would rather not live in interesting times.

I need to write something about Russia and Ukraine. I don't know if I have anything special to contribute, but it feels like I should be on record. The situation has the advantage of being pretty morally unambiguous: one of the word's worst actors, Vladimir Putin, invaded Ukraine for nakedly imperialist purposes, and Ukraine has more than risen to the occasion. They continue to hold out; president Zelensky has been positively heroic, leading from the front, and the country has been united and strong behind him; the rest of the world has responded with almost universal condemnation of Russia, and with quick and powerful sanctions against them, and support for Ukraine. The Ukrainians have been winning the propaganda war, for certain, not so much by demonizing the Russians as by holding out, and demonstrating up and down the line, how united and brave and sometimes downright cool Ukrainians can be. Sunflower seeds in your pockets for sure!

That said - it is early days in the war, and Russia is a very big country and can bring its might to bear. And they have nukes and Putin seems almost desperate enough to use them. It is, frankly, still a terrifying situation, even if things now look they could work out. 

I don't have much wisdom to offer. I think, so far, Ukraine itself has been completely admirable in its resistance, in its courage, in its ability to remind the rest of the world that they are a more or less democratic country that deserves to be supported. I think the response of the rest of the world has been admirable: no one is talking about actually getting involved in the war on the ground, but they are supplying Ukraine, they are looking for ways to punish Russia, and the sanctions put on might actually work. There is a fine line here - you want to convince the Russians that this is going to ruin them, without convincing them they have to escalate to survive. That's the scary part. But so far, the world seems to be threading the needle as well as you could hope. And almost everyone is saying the right things.

Almost. The American right did not rise to the occasion. Dear old disgraced former president Donald Trump chimed in first by proclaiming Putin a genius for this - reminding everyone that he was impeached the first time by trying to blackmail Zerensky, and that he has always been Putin's lapdog. Well. And the lesser demons of the right, from Tucker Carlson and Steve Bannon down to Candace Owens and random office seekers have come out to praise Russia and Putin and try to wedge some reference to the culture wars they love to wage into the issue. Most of this has aged poorly, and they have tried to walk it back - but it's out there. Lots of noise about pronouns, lots of references to woke millennials and the like, all of which serves, mainly, to remind us how much the American right admires Putin and his repression, authoritarianism, and two-bit tough guy act. They like Putin - they want to be like him. They might have to pretend otherwise for a week or so, but they can't really hide it. 

But truthfully, they don't matter all that much. They have been left behind. Most of Europe, the US, the rest of the world, has rallied around Ukraine, seeing this invasion for what it is. They've done it without, so far, really attacking the Russians as such - though Russia is a country that, throughout its history, has had as big a gap between how Russians as people are perceived and how their leaders are perceived as you will find. The people of Russia have been as badly served and used as a people anywhere - they deserve, someday, someone worthy of them. In the meanwhile, Putin deserves a particularly corner of hell, as long as he doesn't turn the whole world into hell.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Hall of Infamy

I should be happy - David Ortiz is in the Hall of Fame. But I am not going to beat around the bush: this might be the moment that delegitimizes it completely. As everyone who cares must know - Ortiz is in; the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are not in. (There are others - Curt Schilling, say - who are also not in, but the reasons are different; and the reasons are the point here.) This is not justifiable. Now we all know - Bonds and Clemens are out because they are accused of steroid use. Pretty creditably, as well. But so is David Ortiz. And that is where the thing breaks down. It's where I have to concede Dan Shaughnessy's point (and I am not one to concede much to Dan Shaughnessy.) If you can't vote for Bonds or Clemens, you can't vote for Big Papi. If you are going to vote for Ortiz, you damned sure better vote for Bonds and Clemens who are obvious and indisputable Great Players in the game.

Complete assholes of course.

Personally, I do not think steroid use should be an automatic disqualifier. I have written about it before - specifically about Ortiz, when he was on the 2003 list. I was, back in 09, far less cynical than I should have been, thinking that Ortiz' presence on the list would make at least Boston fans realize that steroids were simply a Fact of the Game in those days, and let at least Roger back into their hearts. Oh ye of too much faith! Still: I don't think steroid use should disqualify anyone, any more than using uppers would kick Mickey Mantle out, or throwing spitballs disqualified Gaylord Perry, or every white player before Jacky Robinson should be removed. It was, in that era, part of the game. 

Manny Ramirez? that might be a different story - getting caught after the testing regimes went in and were enforced - that might be different. And I am still inclined to try to parse out how steroid era players would have faired in other times. You know how Clemens and Bonds would have fared, because they had made a better than average hall of fame case before they even started using - but Sosa and McGwire? That might involve some calculation. A Rod and Manny - ah - well - A Rod especially might have cheated his whole career - but wasn't he enough better than all the other cheaters that you have to consider him still one fo the best in the game? Ah, such calculations.

And there might be some fun to be had in trying to figure out whether Ortiz belongs in on the merits. It's an interesting case: being a DH, his advanced value isn't great - he's just a bat. But how much credit should you give to specialists? Closers and power hitters and defensive whizzes, who don't get the across the board WAR numbers of a great short stop or starting pitcher or outfielder? Ortiz looked the part - he raked from the time he got to Boston to the end, and even his off years offered some gaudy counting stats. And he did it under pressure, whatever that is worth. Can't deny that. Would it be enough?

But those are just thought games. In fact, the writers vote people into the hall of fame, and they are voting in a way that cannot be taken seriously. If Ortiz is in and Bonds is not, the hall is not about the best players the game has seen. If Ortiz were clean, maybe you could make some kind of weird moral argument about cheating - but he wasn't. He was caught at least once, and - you know - you watch his career and it's hard not to believe it. He went from being a promising slugger to a world beater the year he joined a team with Manny Ramirez and a Giambi. Circumstantial evidence is not entirely useless. 

So there it is. A shame, really, because I don't like kvetching about Ortiz. I would vote for him - the WAR numbers might not be great, but I saw what he did for a team. And while he didn't really win those three world series all alone (though he came close in 2013) - in 2004 and 2013 he certainly got hits that got them there, as directly as you can ask. (Those two extra inning winners against the Yankees; the grand slam against the Tigers in 13.) He also helped me win three straight fantasy leagues, in the mid 10s - though Barry Bonds won me three or four fantasy championships over the years too. What can I say? Spare me the moralism, and especially, space me the hypocrisy. 

Thursday, January 06, 2022


Today is another day to live in infamy. A year ago, a mob invaded the capitol building, urged on by, of all people, the sitting president. It is hard to fathom. It is hard to fathom how that former president is still a free man - it speaks poorly of us, as a country that he is not in prison.

This is an infamous day. It is comparable to December 7 or September 11 - or April 12, which doesn't always get the same attention the others do. It might be easier to focus on attacks from outside the country - attacks from inside? It's harder, sometimes, to see them for what they are. But this is an attack, as surely as any of those. Indeed, more of an attack, in some ways - it was (like April 12, 1861) an attack on the principal of the United States as such, on democracy as such, on the Republic as such. 

The fact that the people doing it were ridiculous nincompoops, with their QANON conspiracies and their imaginary voter fraud and their red hats and blue flags and whatnot, might hide some fo the seriousness of it. Were they going to overthrow the government? it is hard to see it. If they didm what would they do with it? But they were still attacking the country. And their leaders - while Trump himself is a clown, an incompetent boob, a failure at every single thing he ever did (including this) - he is still as explicitly anti-American as any American figure in an awful long while. He is a fascist, he wanted to overthrow the government, make himself dictator for life - he failed, and surely will fail again if he is still breaking in three years - but he meant it. And bot everyone around him is as stupid as he is, though - by god, there are some stupid people around him. But they are also evil. There is no stupid or evil problem with Trump and his followers - they are both. And the evil is real.

So: they need to be held accountable. Trump needs to be held accountable.s long as he walks around free, we are failing the country, we are encouraging him and worse people to try it again. And even if they fail again - a lot of people will suffer for it. The Confederates failed - but they caused unimaginable suffering before they did. I fear for the nation...

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Me I'm All Smiles... Welcome 2022

And here we are. Happy New Year! No one is going to miss 2021 - the only thing it had going for it was not being 2020. But it rivals 2020. People kept dying, they kept dying unnecessarily, as vaccines came out and big chunks of the country refused to get them, and prominent political and media figures urged people not to get them, and people kept dying because of it, the disease hangs around and everything remains shitty. 

Speaking of things hanging around making the world shitty, Donald Trump, having gotten stomped in the election, tried to overthrow the government. He failed, but he's still walking the world free, to our national shame. He still talks like he is going to try it again, the Republicans are doing all they can to stop enough people from voting to make it so he can win without a coup, though they are all pretty much fine with a coup at this point. The supreme court, a completely illegitimate institution at this point, works on undoing the twentieth century and the Reconstruction amendments. Republicans, in general, have basically adopted Trump's fascism wholesale, running on a constant attack on intellectual freedom and truth. All of which is mostly aimed at running on a platform of putting Black people back in their place. And women, foreigners, gays and anyone else they can find to hate and abuse. 

In other words, we suck. 

I suppose I can take solace from the economy recovering, though who knows how long that will last with COVID still going strong. I would take more solace if the Democrats were all Democrats. Joe Manchin has decided to singlehandedly betray more or less everything he is supposed to represent - Build Back Better is good for the country, will be good for West Viginia, and is good for the Democratic party - isn't that what a Democratic Senator is supposed to care about? immediate constituents, the country as a whole, and his party? In his case, there is also himself and his donors - he has decided to represent them. Now true - I single out Manchin when the entire Republican party is acting the same way - but they are openly seditious and fascist - they are openly working against the country and their voters. Though to their credit (for what it's worth) they do work for the good (short term anyway) of the Republican Party, which now, is all about power, looting the country, and oppressing Blacks, women, gays, foreigners and so on.


Well, I will not belabor politics anymore. How goes it with me? Not great. I suppose things are going along well enough in the general sense - gainful employment that doesn't drive me too crazy, I'm healthy, smart enough to be vaccinated (though not lucky enough to get a booster - I was scheduled for this very day, but the local pharmacy is down a person so closed up at the last minute. Bloody hell.) That all could be worse. 

But I have become unspeakably lazy in the last couple years. Just look at the output on this blog! And that reflects general lack of motivation for anything. I don't watch movies anymore, not much anyway. I don't write much, not much of anything. I did Nanowrimo, as usual, and produced almost 70,000 words - though with almost nothing I could imagine being part of an actual novel, in the end. Weird stuff. I used to hope to finally finish something - these days, I hope not to go backwards. And outside of that? I mentioned a couple years ago surfing on YouTube - that's still a thing, but these days, I spend most fo that time scrolling through YouTube looking for something to watch. Sad. 

I did knock off a few books last year - most notably autobiographies of Richard Thompson and Will Sergeant - both very fine books by very fine guitar players. I have been worshipping Thompson for 30 odd years; I was reminded this year how much I liked Echo and the Bunnymen back in the 80s, and spent a lot of time this year listening to them. This happened with the Gang of Four a while back - I heard them, remembered how much I liked them for a while, and went back and dove in and have worshipped them since. The bunnymen have gotten the same treatment this year. Don't ask me why it took so long.

All of which does bring up one thing that went a bit better this year: I did listen to a lot more music than I have in a while. I tend to latch on to things - art forms - movies or music or books, or other things, like different sports or games or what have you - and ride them hard for a few years, then - stop. I stopped obsessing about music a while back, after obsessing about it hard for a long time. Strange. This year? I didn't pay m,uch attention to anything contemporary - but I paid attention to some old stuff. The last couple years, really. I will have to write about that some day. This year? Echo and the Bunnymen, the Kinks and Brian Jonestown Massacre got the weight of my attention. A lot of it from YouTube, though I bought records, and listened to them. Interesting. Maybe I will write about it again.

Anyway - there you have it. Something to mark the change of the calendar. I will even end with a resolution of sorts: I want to post once in a while on here. Something. Something besides obituaries and laments about the end of the republic, I hope. Maybe music.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

September 11 Memorial

Today is the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I should say something about that. I have not posted anything about it since 2013 - this is strange, but I suppose I haven't posted much of anything here since 2013. I used to post every year about it - at least since 2006, fifth anniversary - but over time, there seemed to be less and less point. I said what I had to say - back in 2006, in fact, a long rant that, well - sounds right to this day... I could repeat it every year or - remember it, and let it go. Which is about what happened.

But 20 years: I have to say something. What? The event itself was horrifying, created a sense of fear and dread that lingered for quite a while. (A more concrete version of what it was like to grow up in the 70s and 80s under the fear of nuclear annihilation.) As for the day itself - I don't think I have written about my memories fo the day, here. Reading articles about false memories of 9/11 makes you think - how much do I remember wrong? The truth is, most of what I remember of the experience was banal. I was at work - I went to a meeting at 9AM. I think I remember someone saying that a plane hit the Trade Center tower before the meeting, but I don't think anyone seemed all that concerned. When I came out of the meeting, everything was different. Two planes hit - there was no doubt it was an attack - no one knew what was going to happen. I remember people watching news on their computers, a new trick in those days. And that's how we saw the towers fall: on a tiny QuickTime window.

They sent us home. I think I went into AOL when I got home and checked on a couple people I knew in NYC and the DC area - they were all right - so I turned off the news and watched Beavis and Butthead Do America. It seemed like a good time to watch it.

The next day I went back to work, though everyone was on edge. Sometime in the morning, the cops raided the Westin Hotel in Boston, a couple blocks from where I worked. People got paranoid and wanted to leave and I thought, where are we supposed to go? But I think later, most of the office just packed up and went home, not waiting for the company to close or the city to close or anything - we just weren't going to hang around. 

Not very interesting, in the end. But the day lived on in my head. Though I think it was the anthrax scare later that September that really set me off. But that might be a false memory. Walking home one day, beautiful perfect blue sky, thinking, holy shit we're all going to die! 

After that? Nostalgia about 9/12 doesn't impress me - partly because of the way we all abandoned our posts the next day, on a rumor; partly because it didn't take very long for everything to go to shit. Arguing over who was to blame, then what to do about it, ignorant things like "Freedom Fries", attacks on Moslems and anyone who looked like they might be middle eastern, increased surveillance across the board, the Patriot Act. We were divided immediately by 9/11, aAll right. Here we are, 20 years along. We have finally gotten out of Afghanistan - that's amazing ed the divisions were deeper and more aggressive, and are still there. 

We got into wars, which we could not win. We have just gotten out of Afghanistan after 20 years - a war that, at the time, made some sense (getting Al Qaeda and all) - but we didn't get Bin Laden, then we gimped that war to fight a very wrong war in Iraq and - well, we aren't the first Empire to fall apart over Afghanistan. 

And 9/11 has ruined us, politically. I mean, imagine a world where someone could say (however stupidly) that there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties - imagine that! It sounded shallowed and spoiled then - now, it's flat out mad. (Or flat out a lie; people still say it, but they are mad liars.) Whatever side you're on now, the political scene is much more fractured and dangerous than it was then. Conflicts are open and explicit, and more likely to be violent. Fascism is open and explicit and dreams of violence. We are disintegrating. And the world as a whole is just as bad: far less stable than in 2000 (when things were not ideal, don't get me wrong), but open fascism is on the rise all around the world, conflict and disintegration are taking place in areas that were basically stable in 2000. It has been a logn disaster for the world.

Which brings me to something strange to say about those times: the weird sense (but maybe not so weird) that that time - 2000-2001 - might have been the high point of human existence. How strange! But remember life as you lived it in 2000: there were bookstores! Records stores! video stores! more movie theaters! There were records to buy, movies to watch! It's easy to think that technology has been on an endless upward climb in those years - but wonderful as it can be, losing book stores, record stores, even video rental joints, is a cost. They make life more pleasant - there is no replacement for the joy of going into a bookstore or record store, browsing the shelves, looking at the objects as you decide what to buy.

But more than that - the technology was there in 2000. This choice between book stores and Amazon - in 2000, you had both. Amazon existed; Netflix existed. You could have everything - you could buy things cheap online if you wanted; you could rent movies through the mail, on a fantastic new medium, the DVD. At the same time, mind you, as you could go into a bookstore or record store or a video store and root through their stock. You could even watch movies and listen to music on your computer, even watch TV on your computer - even if the quality was not great, you could do it. All those things existed at the same time for a while. Could they have lasted forever? Is there a way to have Amazon and lots of bookstores? Streaming movies and Blockbusters? iPods and their descendents and HMV and TOwer records? I don't know. But we had them all in 2000-2001.

It's weird to think about, but that might have been it - as good as it was going to get. Maybe the end was coming one way or the other - even without 9/11, climate change was already well on its way, and that might end up swallowing all these other considerations - but things were still better than. For a middle class urban white guy, maybe - but go back to politics - it was better for a lot of people who weren't watching QuickTime videos and renting foreign DVDs and spending hundreds of dollars at a pop at Tower or HMV or Newbury Comix. 

And now? Every two days, as many people die in this country of COVID as died in the 9/11 attacks. This is months after a free, safe and effective vaccine was distributed, which stops most of those deaths. I wonder if we would have been smarter before 9/11 about something like that. We wouldn't have had people like Donald Trump who threw his political capital behind making the pandemic worse. I don't know.

We live in a very bad time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Charlie Watts

 Time for this blog to come back to life at least long enough to mark the passing of one of the great figures of rock music, Mr. Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones. The Stones, one has to say, have been lucky - Watts is the first to go since Brian Jones in 1969, and most of them have been pretty active and lively most of that time. And the band, of course, has stayed active all that time, still touring - or intending to tour - to the present. They seem immortal - especially, I suppose, Keith Richards, who should be dead half a dozen times over, but there he is, still at it. But they are not immortal, and now the sanest of the crew is gone.

And so. I am, I admit, too much of a fan of flashy drummers. Keith Moon and John Bonham and Jaki Liebezeit give me shivers, every time. But I know just how vital Charlie Watts was (or Ringo, for that matter.) They make the songs, hold the whole thing where it needs to be, they are near perfect. They are a big reason the Stones and the Beatles are what they are - the best whole package, the bands that got pop music dead right. The recordings, the songs as songs, everything - and the drumming is at the center of it.

So goodbye Mr. Watts. You made the world a better place.

Here they are last year, locked down - Charlie dapper and amusing, miming along to the rest:

And way back when, just grooving it:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Sweet Tolling of the Bell

I think I shall post today in honor of the passing of Rush Limbaugh, a man who single handedly refutes John Donne: no one is diminished by his passing. He lived a rotten life, Rush Limbaugh. There was a time when it was hard to tell if he meant a word he said - he was a showman, always, and had the air of a charlatan about him, a salesman, someone who could, with a twist in the road here or there, have been announcing football games or selling used cars. Instead he played a right wing demagogue, but was any of it real? 

There was a time. But there comes a time when who cares? You can mean it or not, but if you are willing to say the things he said, push the positions and politics he pushed, sincerity is beside the point. You are evil, and playing evil is no different than being evil. And he was evil. He grounded right wing resentment and viciousness, for a long time, he promoted it, he shaped it, he kept it going. He was central in creating the fascism that has infested the right in this country for 30 odd years - voicing it, pushing it, making it worse and worse. He hurt the country, and consequently the world, immeasurably. 

He was also a loathsome character as a human being. A drug addict and sex tourist who raved about other people's drug use and sexual behavior. A money grubbing worm. A hateful, abusive creep. 

All right: if you can's say something nice about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all. Well - if you can say something nice about Rush Limbaugh, what the hell is wrong with you? I suppose one should feel sympathy for his family and loved ones - but who the hell would that be? No - he won't be missed, except by his fellow fascists. Fuck them all.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A Good Day

And so we are finally free of the worst man to ever hold the office of president of the United States. One of the worst men ever to run for the office, a man who earned his place next to Andrew Johnson and John Breckinridge, though unlike them, a man who never did anything else in his life worth noting. All the old villains and failures in American history - most of them did something to get there. Maybe a few of them were just born to money and power, like this one - but hell, little George Bush at least made a show of trying to be worth something, he joined the guard at least! He ran a sports team that didn't go bankrupt, unlike some people who bankrupted whole sports leagues. Even Ronald Reagan, mid-level actor - was a mid-level actor. This one? went bankrupt running a casino; pissed away his daddy's money; revived by a reality show and the Russian mob! his uselessness is almost unprecedented in American National politics.

He's gone now. I imagine he will have a few sleepless nights, as now his creditors and many an ambitious DA can cast their eyes his way. Once the Senate gets through with him. Yes indeed. I am grateful that he didn't decide to double down on his coup from a couple weeks back - though it's not surprising. He was always in it for the grift - he never seemed to take anything seriously except the grift. There is a strange surreal quality to the insane right in this country - they are LARPers, they are playing a game - they claim things that are so obviously false it is hard to imagine they take them seriously. The coup attempt - seems to have been dead serious, with people certainly talking about killing politicians and the like - but they still somehow come off as though they were always just playing a game. And - I can't say I am surprise they dissolved on the first touch. The whole affair felt like a Coen brothers movie. Their ranting and raving had a very Walter Sobchak vibe to it - but I couldn't help hearing Walter condemning them too. "These men are cowards, Donnie..." 

All right. I don't have to think about the former president any more! That is a great joy. I can think about Joe Biden. A strange sensation, right, to have Joe Biden as president. It is a massive relief, and he gives off an air of calm, reassurance, but also strength and resolve. He will undo the damage that's been done by 4 years of undemocratic and un-American rule. I take great pleasure in seeing him take office - that in spite of the fact that he might have been my 9th choice among last years Democrats. (Especially in retrospect, which might let me take people like Julian Castro more seriously than I would have at the time.) But then again - there might have been a dozen Democrats running for president last year who were better choices than anyone the Republicans put forward in 2016, and that's even trying to filter out political preferences. And that again who didn't run who I would like to see as president. The Democrats simply are the serious political party in this country. The serious political debate in this country is al within the Democratic party. I just hope they manage to agree on enough to make some real changes.

Still: the cautious parts of the Democratic party will massively improve the country, just as they did in Obama's day. I hope they have learned the lessons of those days: that the Republicans are not worth working with. Do what you want to do, and do not give them an inch. Use every advantage you have, pass what you think will do the most good, do not try to work around their propaganda machine. The Democrats will be accused of socialism whatever they do - so do what you can get through congress, do everything you can do. They have the congress at least - taking over the senate today as well. I hope they use it. 

All right. It is a good day. A good week, from MLK day to Biden's inauguration, to Ossoff and Warnock being sworn into the senate - it is good. We are going to make it after all, maybe.