Friday, August 26, 2005

Just Musing, But...

...If I have to see those Goddamned "Miller Lite Referee School" ads from now until the Pro Bowl, I may go insane. They were pretty good last year, and now they've drained all the fun from the idea. Gone is the spontanaeity which was the best thing about them and now it's just a deconstruction. Of their own ads. Grr. Haaaaate.

...Quite Frankly, Stephen A. Smith, I don't know what you think, and I can assure you I don't care what you think. That ESPN pays you to talk about anything other than pro basketball is in itself remarkable, but now you're on my TV, it seems, twelve thousand times a day, pimping your ride. If you must yell at me about sports and societal issues you're not qualified to report on, could you at least lower your voice a little? And stand up straight. And take your hands out of your pockets. And please, please, in the name of sports journalists everywhere, stop dancing. Jesus. You're a loud talker who knows a lot about basketball. You're not a multi-media sensation.

...I've had a cough for two and a half weeks now. I'm pretty sure it's an allergy and not pneumonia or a cold. (I guess you were right, G.-) So I splutter and hack a lot, and my throat is dry as hell, so I took my formerly-winters-only humidifier out in the God damned dog days of summer, when you'd think the humidity would liquefy the sidewalks. Plus I've been drinking way more water than normal, so it seems like I get up from my cube at work every ten minutes. And since I'm a temp, I have to circumnavigate roughly three quarters of one of the largest office buildings in Chicago to get to the reception desk to get a key for the men's room. And back. At least the girls at the desk are down with why I'm always "going."

But it just sucks, being sweaty and hot like I always am, and yet being throat-dry and raspy and coughy, especially now that audition season is starting again and the vox means more to the populi. Maybe worst of all, my cat Mackie likes to sleep on me or next to me a lot, which is as close to God as it gets for me, and every s often I bust out with a Phrumphhhrphrhh-wheee-wheee-whhhh and he wakes up all startled and recoils, looking supremely pissed that I disturbed his slumber. "Don't be all pissed at me, man," I say. "You're pretty much to blame for this shit." Which he is; he isn't hypo-allergenic in the least, and he's a huge boy who sheds like a mofo, and I sneeze because of his dander year-round. (He's worth it, that's why.) But it still upsets him, and I'm all frustrated because I don't know why this allergy has manifested itself in this way, and if I can't heal my throat enough to sing with any consistency I don't know what the fuck I'm going to do.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

In Other Words, Dennis Miller is a Prick

Like most things, Bob Odenkirk got this one right too. Another reason he's one of the funniest guys ever.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Here be whiny bitches.

Warning! Harry Potter spoilers below!!!

Good. So I just (and I mean just, like two minutes ago) finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and as the world is waiting for my opinion of it, here you go. I'm certain there's nothing in here that hasn't been said, but that's what blogs are for, right?

Anyway, J.K. Rowling remains almost uniquely easy to read; I've never read a series of books that were such page-turners, and just about everyone else I talk to feels the same way. My Dad and his wife took the book up to Door County for a week, she read it first, he second, and they said it took two days each. It took me only a little longer; I read it in slightly more fits and starts, ie on an El or a CTA bus, among other places. But seriously, I'd look down at the page numbers and twenty seven pages would be gone in two minutes. That's entirely a tribute to Rowling's writing style, which couldn't be easier to digest, and I mean that in the good, ecumenical way.

That said, she's clearly making some points, and as much imperial command as she must have, it's intersting to wonder if the corporate overlords at Warner Bros. aren't whispering in her ears about anything. There's a little bit of Spider-Man at the end, what with the "I can't love you, I have Thins to Do," there's a little of this and that all over the place. (The geekier five per cent among you will quibble that all this stuff is stolen from Tolkien anyway; I don't give a shit. Shut the hell up. You've had your movies, now go the hell away.)

She's also getting more overtly political: Scrimgeour is clearly a stand-in for the Bush-Blair "Coalition of the Willing," (or, as Jon Stewart once called it, "England and Spain") asking Harry to put a brave face on the tragedy of the times by smiling and "reassuring" everyone (although Dolores Umbridge, and her dolorous umbrage, who will go down in history as one of the great literary villains, I believe, was a better straw man than is put up here); the book begins with a clear swipe at the tabloid nature of the right-wing and its attendant ass-licking media. I don't think this means Voldemort has a corollary in the real world, but her targets seem pretty clear.

The thing that makes me think the most about these books is who they're being written for now. Clearly, when she started, they were for kids, but I firmly believe that Goblet of Fire was twice as long as the first three because it had become clear that adults were picking the books up as well, and adults of every stripe. (Look around for the tale of the woman who made herself a costume to win the "First book out of the box" contest at her local bookstore; they gave the prize to a baby in a cape, and this woman's web entry read like a National Lampoon story from the late 70s. "I could have put out her little eye with my wand, I wanted to," shit like that. Jesus, I waited a month, why couldn't you?) I'm about as far from the sword/sorcery/wizards/spells thing as it gets, and I love them. See my first paragraph as to why. She's peppered this one with "slut" and, seriously, what Harry does to Malfoy ain't kid stuff at all. (I skeeve my brother reading this to my two pre-teen nieces, stumbling on to some of this charnel, but he's a college professor, and he'll probably vet it before he even lets it in the house.) But of course kids are reading them still, and her giving Harry the rationale to realize that just because you're in the arms of an adult doesn't mean you're safe or even loved is a good thing for kids to get from these books.

Also, I think Rowling is now more aware of the global audience; these books used to be almost completely, utterly, totally British. Gryffindor is a Welsh-sounding name, Hagrid is obviously a Yorkshire giant with his "yeh's" and " want ter's" and "summat's," McGonagall is Scottish, with her tartan hanky, Seamus Finnegan, Neville Longbottom, etc. But the success of the books and, more, the movies, seems to have homogenized them just that little bit; this one doesn't seem quite as proud to be British as the first few. Michael Gebert once pointed out that Olivier's Henry V, filmed in the British Isles (mainly Ireland)almost in secret during the War, as a rallying cry for his king and countrymen, was one of the few films of that era to be completely, utterly, and proudly British. That's one of the things that I, as a lifelong Anglophile, always liked about J.K. Rowling's books. Would that it were a little truer with Half-Blood Prince.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Insert Plug...Now

Hi there. Hope you had a nice weekend. Me? Well, the Sox lost two to the Red Sox and had the third game in the bag, then the rains came. Dammit. And the Cubs took three of four from the Cardinals, kind of like when the Cubs beat the Cardinals for the Division title in 2003. (Kind of, except, this year, not.)
Plus I saw The Aristocrats, a very funny documentary about a very filthy joke. The doc is about how different humorists tell the joke; the telling of the joke is more interesting than the joke itself, like a Feydeau farce, where the race is more important than the finish line.

Right. Plug time. Back in September, I had me published a book, Broadway's Most Wanted. It's exactly what it sounds like, a book about Broadway musicals. Lists of them. (The Publisher, Potomac Books, puts out several books in the "Most Wanted" series; they're books of lists relative to the topic, e.g. NASCAR's Most Wanted, Chicago's Most Wanted, Baseball's Most Wanted.)

And, Broadway's Most Wanted. Dig it. I like it, and it's available now, at fine stores and on this here electriconic super-high-way... Just click over there, to the right of this page, where it says "Booky McBook." (That was the pen name I used while I was writing it. No, it wasn't.) That'll take you to a lovely e-lectric site where you can buy it for cheap. And then write a review praising it to the skies, y'all!

Ahem. Hope you like it. If you don't, buy it anyway. If you like it, buy two.

Friday, August 12, 2005

A Break From the Ball

The three of you who currently read this blog would be forgiven if it seems like al I do is write about how disappointing the Cubs have been this year, because it's cozy close to true. So, no baseball today. about that Karl Rove? It seems that Karl Rove, that pasty-ass motherfucker, isn't quite sexy enough to be covered by the media anymore. So, no more Rove/Plame/Novak stories. (God damn it.) By the by, the Novak CNN walk-off thing looks like a smokescreen to me. Much along the lines of what happened to Rush Limbaugh back in 2003, when he got himself fired from ESPN Football (or jumped before he was pushed, who gives a fuck) for his typically Rushian comment that Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb happened to be a Black man, and therefore was Jesse Jackson's best friend, or whatever he said, which was an obvious way to get him out of the spotlight before his hypocritically funny drug problem surfaced. (I love the fact that Rush knew he would be out for a while, so he decided to go out by being typically mean-spirited and white-conservative.) Novak was jovial (especially considering it's Robert Novak, The Prince Of Fucking Darkness) on the CNN segment moments before the contretemps, making a joke that conservative handmaid Katherine Harris and he shared a common misery, that the liberal media was constantly altering his makeup to make him look tarty as well. Then James Carville said something liberal, then Novak swore and left the stage. Carville and host Ed Henry barely seemed to notice Novak was gone, and, yeah, because my guess is Bob Novak swears and walks away from the table all the time, because he's Bob Novak, The Prince of Fucking Darkness. He's since been "suspended" by CNN news.

Ed Henry has said Novak knew Henry would go all Plame on his ass, so my guess is he left either directly for that reason or something Plamian is going to happen in the near future that would embarass CNN into booting him for good.

I hope it's the latter. Then maybe he can weasel out of jail by naming Karl Rove, that pasty-ass motherfucker.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Sale of Two...

Whoops, sorry. Slip of the tongue. Tale of two cities. Two baseball cities, that is. Both, strangely enough, named Chicago.

Full disclosure (what a relief to you, I'm sure): At the beginning of the season, I heartily predicted both the Cubs and White Sox would both be resolutely mediocre. I was never a huge fan of Ozzie Guillen as a player, and his basic, dirty-uniform style of managing (which mirrors his playing style) didn't seem to take last year, especially when many folks point to the very moment the Sox lost the AL Central was against the Twins, on a collision at the plate which scored a run for the Twins, won them the game, and knocked the entire Sox team, not just the catcher, into the middle of next week. A tough-guy manager had no idea how to get his team to respond in kind, and they meekly played out the string.

Weeeeeeeeeeell, seems like Tommy Boy missed the meetings, because the White Sox, you know, the "small-market" (whatever, Christ with the markets and the sizes) team in town, are truly the best team in baseball. They are winning every single way they need to: Timely hitting, superb defense, speed, speed, pitching, speed, pitching and pitching. Who knew Jose Contreras would be as good as he's been? Dustin Hermanson? Hi there. Buerhle, Garland, everyone knew, but the other pitchers have gone above and beyond. Cotts, Politte, sign in and get a kiss from Miss Roleplay! And let's have a slice of pie for the team speed. Aaron Rowand just gets better and better in center, and many people would give the team MVP to Scott Podsednik for his hustle and his lead-off speed and ability to upset a game on the bases. (Traded from Milwaukee to the White Sox for Carlos Lee; that one turned out pretty well for all involved.) Simply put, Podsednik has been the perfect leadoff hitter...

Leadoff hitter...leadoff hitter...

Mmmm. The Cubs. The Chicago National League Ball Club. The hell is going on up there, with the forty bazillion dollar payroll? Well, they've lost eight in a row again, and are at their season low, is what. I told you this would happen. Now that the starting pitching is beginning to wilt in the sun, the Cubs' many flaws are being exposed and the team is getting flayed. Just raked. They have no offense (think how Tampa-like they'd be if Derrek Lee wasn't playing waay over his career marks and Aramis Ramirez wasn't around), and God help anyone who thinks Kerry Wood will $tay in the bullpen a$ a $topper. How bad is it? Corey Patterson is back. Yeah, man, so is Nomar. (Who, to be fair, does already have a homer and two RBI) But the leadoff position hasn't been settled; Matt Lawton was obviously a stopgap measure and hasn't done even as well as anyone hoped he would. Plus, the bullpen is caving in on itself again, and the Cubs are once again playing fundamental baseball the way my cat plays the stock market, which is to say he paws at the ground and picks up absolutely nothing while others have much more success at it than he does.

I've ranted in this space already several times this summer about how badly the Cubs play basic fundamental baseball, and on offense, everyone knows they score almost half their runs on homers, and that's appalling, even at Wrigley. Jim Hendry took the players to task earlier this week, doling out a piece of the responsibility to them, and I know he was saying it in defense of Dusty Baker, but dude, you bought them. Are you now finally admitting that this team is an offensive joke and needs to be completely retooled?, again?, before that tiny window closes for good on those four arms that have been the only ballyhoo on the levee? Of course not, he'd prolly say, but dude. Clown noses for all, cause this team can't do anything right just now.

So the Cubs will probably win seven or eight a little latyer in the season, and that's good, but I know they're going to lose four, and then win two, then lose three and win one and lose three more. That's the makeup of this team I love so much. No offensive production in Wrigley is absolutely insane, say it loud. Meanwhile, what's that the Sox were playing in New York, where they took two of three form the Yanquis? Mmmm, smells like playoff baseball.
Go Go Sox.