Saturday, May 31, 2008

Un Poco Mas Beisbol

Davies only made it five innings (pitch count got high), but he did manage to only allow five hits and three walks, which is better than I'd expected, and he limited the Indians to one run--a questionably earned run at that. All in all, the outing was encouraging.

I know TPJ has been absolutely abysmal at the plate, but it is rough seeing Esteban Callaspo (they're essentially the same player, aren't they?) manning short.

Mahay worked a 1-2-3 top of the sixth to hold the three-run lead the Royals built up in the bottom of the fifth. Will tonight be the night, Neil Young?

Quick break from Royals talk...

Jacoby Ellsbury seems to be every bit the player that he looked like he could be last post-season. He's got seven steals this week. He's already got 26 through 51 games. Oh, he has been caught twice though. If the Sox could just get rid of Crisp and get him in the lineup absolutely every day, he'd lock down Rookie of the Year honors by mid-July.

Back to the Royals...

Peralta comes in with one out and one on in the top of the seventh to go full on the fearsome Jamey Carroll, giving me the feeling certain deflation, eventually walking him on a borderline pitch, putting the tying run at the plate. I smell a game-tying three-run shot off the bat of Ben Francisco.

Pop up in foul territory. Praise be to Allah.

Homerless V-Mart comes up. Joel still in the game. Botched pick-off catch by defensive replacement TPJ at second. Pop up to Guillen. Lead preserved. Hope not yet dashed. Can it happen?

Buck, TPJ (actually getting a good swing on the ball for once), and Gathright (on a bunt) all pop out, making for a very short and easy inning for the large C.C. Sabathia.

Soria coming in for a two-inning save. Hillman clearly wants this win.

Juh-honny Peralta singles up the middle to start the top of the eighth. Can things be so bad, that Soria actually blows the save? Passed ball. Peralta to second standing up. No outs. Please, Jesus, let Joakim take care of these Clevelanders. Guillen tracks a well-hit, slicing fly ball towards the left field corner. One down for Filthy Abe. Pop fly to shallow center. Gathright loses it. Defensive replacement Tony Pena, Jr., misses the catch by about two inches. Runners on the corners. The Royals look to be doing everything in their power to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Walk to Blake. Bases juiced. Unhittable Soria who'd entered the game with a BAA of .100 has loaded the bases and has one out. Delucci's up. The world seems to be ending. Where are you when we need you L. Ron? Grounder to Teahen. Only play at first. Jhonny scores from third. A rare earned run (what the hell are you doing official scorer??? two questionable non-errors?) for Joakim. Pop up. TPJ can catch a pop up after all. Disaster averted. Too much happened for me to convert to Scientology, though.

Bottom of the eighth, C.C. still in the game. Yet another 1-2-3 inning for Sabathia. Thanks for the insurance, guys.

Soria taking the mound again. Hasn't blown a save all season. Is Vishnu watching over the Royals? Carroll looks foolish at the plate. Maybe Soria got it back. Francisco pop up to shallow right. Vishnu! Vishnu! Vishnu! V-Mart rips a single past Teahen guarding the line at first. Way inside to Jhonny. I wonder if this is the first time Joakim has faced the same batter twice in a game. I'd imagine it is. Wild pitch. Buck can't find the ball. Slow Victor only advances to second. Grounder to TPJ.

Hinduism it is.

Mas Beisbol

I am sorry in advance for the fact that this is yet another baseball-centric post, but sometimes dems da breaks, ya know?

Anyway, I think anyone in Cincinnati is thinking that my boy, Jay Bruce, is the cat's pajamas. Seriously. He has been killing the ball. He hit a walk-off in his fifth game (his first major-league home run). He's now hitting at a lean .579 clip--and no, that's not his slugging percentage, or even his on-base percentage, that's his batting average through his first five games. To go with that ridiculous average in his extremely young career, he's scored eight runs, driven in four, drawn five walks, stolen two bases, and struck out exactly once. I guess one could call that a hot start. One could also ask why Corey Patterson was sitting there in the lead-off spot and Bruce's rightful position in centerfield. One would probably be right to do so.

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So Billy Butler got demoted to AAA a few days ago, which may be slightly discouraging to Royals fans, but I think it's probably the right move. He's looked absolutely lost at the plate and would more than likely be afforded the chance to get his head straight. He's too important to the future of the franchise to not handle with care.

In other Royals news, Tomko was (deservedly) demoted to the bullpen. Replacing him today was Kyle Davies, having gotten called up after tearing apart AAA hitting at Omaha. I know much of the Royals fanbase (at least over on the Kansas City Star discussion board) is really not fond of Davies, but I personally think he has the stuff and make-up to be a serviceable fifth starter if not more than that. And the kid's only 24 years old, which to me is much too early to give up on a pitcher.

Oh. In case you were curious, yes, the Royals are still mired in this awful losing streak. When it started, they were one game under .500. They've since lost, what, twelve straight? Will it ever end? Sometimes I wonder...

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I've heard from a few sources now that the new Indiana Jones movie was not especially good. By not especially good, of course, I mean it was an utter mess. I'll surely see for myself soon enough. Can it piss me off more than Pirates 2? Only time will tell. Stay tuned reader.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jesus Christ...

Up five runs.

Two outs in the top of the ninth.

Five runs score?

Lose in extras, essentially because Soria isn't available to get one out, since he went two last night in an extra inning game.

An eight-inning 3 ER start from Greinke gets completely wasted. Eight runs scored get wasted.

This is just going to go on forever, isn't it?

Fuck.

The Next Big Thing

Jay Bruce made his major league debut last night. Quick breakdown of what he did is as follows:

3 - 3, 2 singles, a double, 2 walks, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, and a stolen base

While the Reds sent Hatteberg packing (Votto seems to have established himself well enough to lay claim to the first base job), it was Corey Patterson who was not in the lineup. Now for as much hemming and hawing from Reds management as to why Bruce was still murdering the ball in AAA (Griffey), the real problem--as I had stated was Corey Patterson--found himself on the bench last night, and apparently got booed by the fans in Cincy. Go figure.

Welcome to the Bigs, Jay. We're (read: I'm) glad to have you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"I'm a pimp, and pimps don't commit suicide."

Royals things first, and then I'll get to the heart of this post (and the quote for the title).

******************************************************************

As I was working out at the gym and glancing up at the scrawl on ESPN, I saw that the Royals were down 3 - 0 and knew that this game had to be over. These Royals are not a team that comes back to win. It really just seems that if they don't jump out with a quick lead, they cannot win. Now, I could look at box scores to back this gut feeling up, but I don't have that kind of time (eating and drinking beckons). It really just feels like once the Royals find themselves behind, no matter how much their pitching keeps them in the ballgame, they do not have the firepower to dig themselves out of any kind of hole.

Then I get home, check my fantasy team, and see that the Royals are in the 10th having drawn up to a 3 - 3 tie behind a Teahen three-run, inside-the-park home run. Now they may or may not win this ballgame, but they proved my gut feeling wrong one time. Hopefully, they can prove that they can win a ballgame or two.

******************************************************************

Now hopefully (for you), the quote in the title is unfamiliar. If it does ring a bell, I'm sorry. That line is said not once, not twice, but three times in the most incomprehensible film ever made. Based on what the filmmaker said, this was a film that was supposed to be all things. Comedy. Thriller. Satire. Action film. What it ends up being is an utter piece of garbage.

The 'it' of which I speak is Southland Tales, and trust me, you do not want to see it.

Going in, the Old Lady, J-Bone, and I knew that we were about to watch a movie that was reportedly bad. That being said, I think we all were fairly open-minded and were expecting to find at least a few redeeming qualities. What we were treated to was essentially what would happen if Brett Ratner's ambitious, half-tard brother made an homage to Brazil. A disaster.

And all of us liked Donnie Darko. Sure it was convoluted and had some plot holes, but it was still enjoyable at the very least.

Southland Tales
is anything but enjoyable. It clocks in at 2:15 (maybe more, my brain was hurting a lot by the time the movie was over), and I can safely say that there was only one scene that was actually good--and the faux domestic disturbance between Wood Harris and Amy Poehler was hilarious only because of my boy Avon Barksdale's gesticulating. The rest of the film is basically a series of events that take place involving characters leading up to this huge explosion, only there is absolutely no tension, and even if you are following what's going on and can makes sense of it there is simply nothing of any interest whatsoever.

I wanted to walk out of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 after about half an hour. I wanted to shoot myself after about fifteen minutes of Southland Tales. I guess I wasn't much of a pimp.

But I did finish the piece of shit, so I guess there's that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dire Straits

No, this will not be a post professing my undying love for all thing Mark Knopfler. This will, however, be a post reflecting on the terrible times Royals Nation finds themselves in. They were just outscored 23 - 4 in a four game series with the Blue Jays; and while I'd be the first to admit that the Jays have a formidible pitching staff (I do, after all, proudly own both Halladay and Marcum in my life-consuming keeper league), 23 - 4 is completely unacceptable. They've been swept by Boston and Toronto in successive four-game series--both teams appearing to be much better than the Royals in the process. Trey Hillman had to sit the team down before the game with a closed-door meeting, electing to skip batting practice.

Now they take on the Twins, and while it may seems as though facing the trifecta of Nick Blackburn, Livan Hernandez, and Kevin Slowey could be what they need to break free from their worst stretch of this still young season, it could be that this season finally seals the season as being finished. Before their flight to Boston, the Royals sat a game under .500 and 2.5 games out of first. Now they're half a game behind Detroit, occupying the familiar cellar, facing the lower end of a divisional rival's rotation (neither Blackburn nor Hernandez possess WHIPs of less than 1.41, and Slowey has not been lights out by any stretch of the imagination, having given up 3 ER in each of his starts leading up to his last one, where he shut the mighty Tigers down for six innings).

Maybe the friendly environs of Kaufmann Stadium will wake their bats from their seemingly season-long slumber, and the Royals will take the series, regaining some confidence and momentum. But if this eight-game losing streak extends to eleven games and beyond, hope for competing would seem to have evaporated, much like the water in the fountains at the K if the continue to lay dormant for much longer.

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While I'm in defeatist-mode, I'm going to pile on with a bold dive this evening into the much-maligned "Southland Tales". If I do not post within a week, write me off as being dead.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reasons I Dislike "Battlestar Galactica": Part One

This is the first in what I anticipate being a very lengthy series on why I am quite frankly irritated by the much-loved Sci-Fi series "Battlestar Galactica". For a show that has been as underwhelming to me as this one, I've seen more episodes that I'd like to have, leaving me with a bad taste that I cannot cleanse from my palette. So, to start this series I'll focus on one word, and one word only, just to get the ball rolling.

Frak

There is something about this word that I find absolutely infuriating. Everytime one of the characters sputters this expletive my blood pressure rises, my temple starts throbbing, and my teeth clench tighter than Cameron's asshole in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

I hate this word.

I hate everything it stands for.

And when I talk about what this stands for, I am referring to the writers having one word that can serve as a curse word. I am a big fan of cursing. There is an art to it. There's an artistry to John McClane's foul-mouthed repartee with Hans Gruber and his henchmen. Try to imagine The Big Lebowski without the 200-some F-bombs. Do you think Kevin Smith ever would have garnered an audience with PG-13 dialogue? It sure as shit didn't work when he tried it. And there's a simple beauty to how Elliott Smith works a gentle "fuck" into a song.

In designating "frak" as the seemingly universal curse word, the writers no longer have to look for creative ways to express anger or convey fear or show camaraderie. It is basically an invention to enable laziness.

Now, I don't want to mislead you into thinking that I'm just pissed because this show doesn't curse like "Deadwood". I don't have the expectation that everyone in every show has to run around calling everyone "fucking cocksuckers" while talking to heads in wooden boxes. There are, however, shows on broadcast television that have managed to be very creative when skirting the censors--a rim job joke on "Veronica Mars" springs to mind immediately, as does the last three seconds of the teaser for "The X-Files" episode Bad Blood. By making up one universal curse word, the pleasure of the writers having pulled one over on the censors is gone, having been replaced by one retarded sounding bastardization of the greatest word in the English language. And that's fucked up.

So now any quasi-nerd who spends his/her time reading up on whatever upcoming project is worthy of creaming one's pants over gets to scour message boards where BSG fans the world over have littered that God damn word all over the place.

The really sad thing is that this invention really just seems to be stealing outright from Joss Whedon and "Firefly" with the Chinese cursing as a way to get around to censorship, which was at least a little inventive and reflective of a Earth that had turned complete melting pot. Adding -ings and -er and -ed to a fake word is just lame.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rediscovering the Past: A Whole Lot of Bible Man, More Importantly A Whole Lot More of Phoebe Cates

Over the past month or so, the minor premium cable channels have been running the 1982 gem Paradise.

(By the way, how retarded is the narration on that trailer?) Surprisingly, I didn't even know this film existed. If I were to summarize the film quickly, I'd say that it was a racier Blue Lagoon starring Phoebe Cates. That, to me, is a good thing. I know I personally prefer Phoebe Cates to Brooke Shields. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think she's much hotter*. If you want a good idea as to what to expect of this film, the first keyword on IMDB is "Female Nude Under Waterfall".

* At the very least hotter in 1980-1982. Probably still is. Kevin Kline is a lucky man.

Unfortunately, there are chimps in the film, and whenever they're on screen, there is music that you'd think was composed by a retarded carnie.

Also, Willie Aames is in the film. If you recall even a little bit of "Charles in Charge" you'll remember that he was no Laurence Olivier. In fact, to put him on the same level as even Christopher Atkins would probably be a disservice to Christopher Atkins. Basically, think Pauly Shore without the weasel shtick in a dramatic role set in the desert--with full frontal male nudity to go along with the massive amount of Phoebe Cates action.

So, if you were 15 and managed to miss this film (like I did), there's no time like the present, I guess.

And before you write this whole entry off, just remember the writer/director of Paradise, Stuart Gillard, also wrote and directed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time, so this clearly is high art.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What to expect in the near future...

You can look forward to at least a few posts about the Royals, although the subject matter has yet to be decided.

Be ready for the beginning of a long series on my reasons for disliking a much-loved television program.

A short entry on a little film that has been playing on the old cable channels that is a new favorite of mine for quasi-lurid reasons.

Fasten your seat-belts (and no, I'm not speaking in David Silver-code about condoms).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mas Waits

So I made my weekly stop by Pitchfork to read one or two things that piqued my interest. Here is a Tom Waits interview conducted by Tom Waits.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Call me Natalie Imbruglia because I'm torn

So I feel compelled to post at least periodically about baseball and especially the Royals because I get a fair amount of hits (at least in terms of hits on this blog) based on being linked up on Royals Nation as a Royals blog. And I do love the Royals (and blog about them a bit), so I think the linking is justified even if this isn't strictly a Royals blog. The problem is, every time I write about the Royals, they lose. They get no-hit. They lose to Zombie Colon. They make a rookie look like a white Satchel Paige. They drop games like it was what they were born to do. So what the hell?

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So I had some German* bitch** freak out at me for putting her drink in a to-go cup because I was out of the mugs that fit her drink (mind you, she never specifically stated her order was not to go). I set her drinks down on the counter. Without provocation or really any words spilling from my mouth, she instantaneously turned into a super bitch and started essentially accosting me because her drink wasn't in a demitasse. She had a baby on her hip. Great example you're setting for your kid, lady. I'm sure you're a great parent... If it ever happens again, she will be 86'd.

*I'm assuming she was German here. She had an accent that sounded German. I'm sure she could have been Dutch or Austrian or something. Not really taking the time to inquire as to her origins.

**Bitch is a term I don't throw around lightly when describing women. Bitchy is one thing. Bitch as a verb is another. Bitch when talking about a woman is completely earned if I'm using it.

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And, from Jay Bruce's Yahoo! Player Profile:

May 21 Hal McCoy, of the Dayton Daily News, reports Cincinnati Reds OF Jay Bruce is hitting .529 in his last 14 games with five home runs and 15 RBIs at Triple-A Louisville.

What the hell, Cincy? Corey Patterson is sitting at a .227/.270/.398 split. Griffey's not the problem.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Royals and Foodstuffs

So the Royals get to where they can sniff .500 and proceed to get no-hit and shut-down by a rookie. Great. At least they get to face Bartolo Colon. Where are the Tigers when they need them?

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On to bigger and better things...

There are new Combos. Maybe you've seen them. They are interesting to say the least. The first one is a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Combo, and it's a little weird because it has three stages of tastes, starting with the bacon on first bite, the cheese to follow, and the egg in the aftertaste, dawning on you like the sun painting the sky a lovely yellow-orange as it comes up in the morning. The second one is the Cheeseburger Combo, and that one tastes so much like a cheeseburger with lettuce, ketchup, and pickle that you'd think you were actually eating one.

Now I'm not going to crazily insist that they're good for you, but they are a taste explosion. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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Apparently Doublemint gum is now the official gum of the NBA*. Is it 1988? What the hell? I didn't even know Doublemint gum was still made. That being said, seeing that made me long for the days where there were only five gums: Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Bazooka, and Bubble-Yum. Then it seems like Big League Chew came on the scene--although this owes solely to my memory as an eight year-old child listening to gay music--and shit hit the fan. I kind of think gum should just be a simple thing, and that we don't need individually packaged Super Chiclets that help keep the petroleum industy going with their retarded plastic wrapping systems. Give me a pack of gum Wrigley jerks.

*Check the banner.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Baseball Thoughts

So Jose Guillen remembered how to hit, eh? In the past month, he's got 24 RBIs, and since May 7th, he has gone 19 of 38 and raised his average .080 points to .245. During that stretch, the Royals have been averaging 5.2 runs per game, which doesn't appear to me to be coincidental. The intent behind his signing was to add a solid power bat to the heart of the order, and now that April is in the rear-view, and the Royals are coming back up on .500 (one game under), maybe there is reason for optimism in Kansas City.

After all, they do seem to have a solid rotation, even with a less than consistent Brian Bannister. Hochevar looks to be a considerable upgrade from John Bale, who was shaky in just about every outing. After a month and a half, the roster has been shaken out, Nomo and Bale have exited, and the more effective Joel Peralta and Luke Hochevar have steppted in. Brett Tomko has been a little less consistent than one might like out of a guy getting a guaranteed $3 million, but he has had three quality starts, which isn't terrible out of your fifth pitcher, I guess, and hopefully his BABIP will come back down a little from the .338 it's sitting at now.

And just so it's out there, I'd like to show you this:

CentralW
LPctGBHomeRoadEastCentWestStreakL10
Chicago White Sox23
20.535--9-714-136-99-75-4Won 57-3
Cleveland Indians22
22.5001.514-128-107-67-68-7Lost 36-4
Minnesota Twins21
22.4882.014-107-124-513-83-7Lost 24-6
Kansas City Royals21
22.4882.010-1211-105-510-74-9Won 16-4
Detroit Tigers17
27.3866.58-129-158-84-154-2Lost 13-7

Yes, on May 18th of 2008, the Royals are one game under .500 and two games out of first. And those Tigers who I was emphatically stating were so deficient in pitching that they could not win the division are sitting four and a half games out of fourth in the division. Even Verlander has been bad (much to my surprise). He's not even performing as well as Brett Tomko.

In the non-Royal baseball arena, my boy Shaun Marcum is getting accolades from Fan Graphs. Glad I picked him in spite of the the post-draft regret. Don't call him Casey Janssen.

Chipper Jones has been absolutely unreal. I really can't believe how much he's been killing the ball. If he can stay healthy...

Congrats to two of my favorite young players on their signings this week: Joakim Soria and Hanley Ramirez. Moreover, it is refreshing to see two historically cheap teams (in the case of the Marlins, cheap is being kind) actually holding on to some of their talented young players.

Cliff Lee's ERA finally rose above 1.00. Does anyone want to wager on it staying below 3.00? I'm willing to entertain offers.

Jake Peavy is missing his start Monday so that his elbow can be evaluated. Kind of scary for Peavy owners like me.

As Smoltz nears his return to active duty (and his return to the closer's role), my feeling are mixed. As an owner of his, I much prefer to get his 17 wins and his 200 K's, but as a long-time fan, I hope it extends his career and his legacy. I truly believe he is a Hall of Famer.

And finally, everyone's clamoring for it, Dusty. As for this nonsense that the reason Jay Bruce isn't up with the club is because there's no room with Griffey still sitting in right, that's utter horseshit. Their lead-off hitter, one old pal of Baker's who goes by the name of Corey Patterson, is taking up valuable space with his .273 OBP and .227 AVG. Why did Baker need him again? Bruce was set to start in center when the season began, but this revisionist spin on where Bruce can/will play is clouding the real problem, and that real problem is Corey Patterson and TPTB's reluctance to show that they were wrong.

Rude awakenings

Well, I wasn't actually asleep, but Wednesday night at about 12:45 (that technically being Thursday at 12:45 am) a storm ripped the hell out of Austin. It was possibly the worst storm I'd ever been in. Wind was howling at a brisk 70 mph; hail was pelting everything in site. The house shook violently. Well, that was probably because of the tree that fell on it, but that's besides the point. Our backyard now looks like a jungle.

When the worst of the storm had seemed to pass, my first instinct was to check on the satellite dish. Making my way through the disaster area that was the deck, I was greeting by the satellite dish hanging precariously over my car in a tree. Awesome. What had happened was that a few branches had blown into the dish, snagging themselves on the arm that comes out from the dish, and when the branches recoiled, they ripped the dish from the deck. Well, at 1:00 am the night before the one morning shift I have a week at Little City, I got to try to rip the dish from the grips of a tree with 'Toine (Happy Birthday) pulling it towards the deck with a rope and Jackie shining a flash light on the arm so I could see what I was doing. All of this was, of course, in the pouring rain.

It obviously could have been worse. My car could have been the car I drove past that was resting firmly under a fallen tree on 9th Street two blocks east of Lamar, or the tree could have fallen through the roof onto my TV, which I love.

Attention: Brian Bannister

Stop losing when I start talking about how well the Royals are doing. It makes me look bad, and it hurts my fantasy team. I went against all the naysaying and drafted you despite your previous aversion to striking guys out. You've pitched well most starts, but starts like today's (read: Saturday's, as I'm still awake and the new day doesn't start over until I wake up again, except in the case of saying Happy Birthday to 'Toine when I realized midnight had struck) or that abysmal start at Arlington--which the wind had a lot to do with, in all fairness--make me look bad and make me doubt my team. You're good. You know it. Now show it. I didn't get to watch the game today, so maybe I'm being unfair, but the line doesn't look good. We like you. We want you to succeed.

This one's for you, Brian...

All right, so I read a recap, and I see that maybe I was hard on you. You went six strong and then got hit hard in the seventh. The bullpen has been taxed in these past six games. It's understandable why you went back in with a pitch count at 93 and no signs of deterioration in the previous inning.

Attention: City of Austin

Stop shutting down all of the bridges across the river every fucking Saturday and Sunday morning. A huge fucking dog walk is not just cause for shutting down your entire downtown. Congress Avenue does not need to be shut down at 9:00 am for something that isn't even happening until 7:00 pm. Fuck off. You run the city like a bunch of buffoons. You sell land to Wal-Mart underhandedly, let every developer with a pulse put up a fucking sky-rise condominium, rip up roads only to not have them repaved evenly, and apparently bend over backwards to fuck your citizens over every fucking Saturday by shutting down all of your routes through downtown.

I'd love to sit down and take a breath, but I'm too sore from the anal raping.

This weekend you shut everything down for a Gala at the Paramount and a dog walk. Let the dogwalkers have a fucking park to do it in. You have plenty of them.

Pull your heads out of your asses, and keep your roads open.

Sorry for the cursing young'uns, but this is at least seven of the last ten weekends that there have been road closures on at least one bridge. I'm starting to think the Austin American-Statesman is paying the city to shut down the major thoroughfares through downtown to try to coerce* Austinites to subscribe to the paper. Well, Statesman, if you started to put out a decent paper, I bet we'd all love to subscribe. Give us back our streets.

*I lost my train of thought here because Jackie was watching some Tori Amos thing on Ovation and Tori Amos was talking about how she needed to trim Tori Amos' bush. Seriously. And she was going in depth, in the third person, at length. A little odd. A little distracting. Now she's talking about prostitutes. I couldn't possibly make this up.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bi-Weekly Check In

I am now the proud owner of pairs of tickets to all of Tom Waits' shows in Texas. Color me ecstatic.

The Royals are also riding a five-game win streak, inching ever closer to .500 ball--which could actually win this underachieving AL Central. Soria, unfortunately gave up his first runs of the season last night on a one-out homer to Hermida (I think), but he came back and blew away Hanley and Cantu, showing it didn't phase him. I'm kind of curious as to why Tomko was pulled so early, but I fell asleep and possibly missed the explanation.

Oddly, I'm off to work. Hope to post about another Royals victory (that I won't get to see) tonight.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wilco at Stubb's - Monday, May 12th

I may have said this before on this blog, but I believe that Wilco's current lineup is the best I've seen (I've now seen them six times since 1999) and that they may just be the best touring band out there. Unfortunately, this is only the second time of those six times that I've seen them play a full set headlining--having seen them open for R.E.M. on the Up Tour at Midway Stadium in 1999, and playing ACL three times. All that being said, I'd have to say this last time was the best.

If you haven't seen them with this lineup, you are completely missing out. Obviously, Glenn Kotche is an outstanding drummer, and Mikael Jorgenson and Pat Sansone are rock-solid on keys, but it's Nels Cline who takes this band to an entirely new level. I may be reaching a bit here, but I would have to say Nels Cline is the best guitarist I've ever seen. His solos on songs like "Impossible Germany" and "Side with the Seeds" are great on the album, but they're transcendent live. Every note he hits is so clean and crisp that you start to wonder if he's Jesus Christ reborn just to fucking destroy the guitar. And Jeff Tweedy (AKA Jeff Leppard) is still great. His banter is always extremely engaging, even if he tells the entire crowd that they're idiots and tells people who flew in from Ohio that they spent too much money to be so retarded at a show.

As for the songs, the aforementioned "Impossible Germany" plays great live. They busted out "Airline to Heaven", and if you weren't paying attention, you could have easily thought you were listening to the Allman Brothers Band in their prime. Their rock-epic "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" hearkens to Television, which plays well to the crowd regardless of what you think of Marquee Moon. "California Stars" and "Box Full of Letters" were great rollickers. In spite of Tweedy's admitted hesitancy to play "Kingpin", it has also stood the test of time. Most impressive after twelve years is still the coupling of "Red-Eyed and Blue" and "I Got You (At the End of the Century)"--which absolutely brings down the house--and closer "Monday" fucking kills everytime they play it.

All in all, I love seeing them pull from the entire catalog. The songs from A.M. and Being There are still great after more than ten years, and the songs on the newer records that best showcase Nels are fucking amazing to witness. If you can, see them soon and see them often.

Well Wishes to Rockford

James Garner suffered a minor stroke. My best wishes are forwarded to one of my original boys. I truly hope you recover James. Sincerely.

I was just making some friends watch "The Rockford Files" the other night.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Again with a short post

I did wish my mother a happy mother's day yesterday, so you can all sleep well tonight.

I've been sick. I think it's either mono, AIDS, or the gout. It could also be tuberculosis. As a result of my certain death, I've been unable to do much, other than drink and sleep and work and drink.

Saw Wilco tonight. More to come on that. Nels Cline is fucking amazing.

Bedtime for Bonzo. Sorry, reader.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tired

I've been working a lot this week, and now I've got the plague. I think I caught it from the Royals. Why can't they beat the Orioles? Seriously. Alex Gordon just got screwed out of tagging out Luis Gonzalez, and it was pretty clearly an out. Tough to miss. I guess MLB just doesn't want the Royals to win. Hopefully, Joey Gathright is fast enough to score four runs this inning. It seems like he'll be the only Royal able to score before Thor's hammer ends this game.

I'm going to go die now. Or maybe I'll just watch this week's Degrassi.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reflections on my Iron Man Review

A couple of you (read: the only two people who read this goddamn blog) took umbrage at a few of the knocks I had on "Iron Man", so I'll address those complaints and have it count as a post because I worked from 8:00-3:00, went to the gym, and then worked from 5:00 - 10:45. I would like to talk about the Democratic Primaries (even though I can't be bothered to actually pay any attention to them anymore), but that's more work than I have energy for.

First, I, too, think "Batman Begins" was awesome. My only major problem with the movie (Katie Holmes' presence was not nearly the problem for me that it was for Ms. Jaclyn) was that Batman's voice when he was Batman sounded little like Bruce Wayne. I understand that he was 'in disguise', but it does take me out of the film just a little bit and that shouldn't happen.

Second, Downey interacting with the robots was funny at times (it's not like George Lucas wrote--and I feel like I'm denigrating the word 'wrote' by applying it to something that George Lucas shat out onto a page/screen--the scenes), but I think him working with Yinsen was truly engaging largely because of the human interaction. The simple step of integrating Pepper or Rhodes into the work process could have done wonders and added a little more screen time and provided for an opportunity to flesh out a character or two.

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To keep up-to-date on The Glitter and Doom Tour, the eyeball kid seems to stay pretty on top of it all. That shouldn't be a surprise to some of you, but if you're trying to keep apprised of what's going on, that's as good a place to go as any. Also, rumors are swirling (and I swear I didn't start them myself) that this tour may be to accompany a new album, which would kind of make sense, but to drop this on the unsuspecting public with such little notice seems Radiohead-ian.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Man on Film: Iron Man

Jon Favreau's entrance to the big-time as a director is a largely successful one. Continuing in a string of casting atypical leads in superhero fare, Favreau (looking quite a bit slimmer in the film than he has in years) sets the lens on Robert Downey, Jr. as his Tony Stark, and the results are fantastic. Downey seems to have been born to play the part of the reformed amoral rock-star scientist--well, maybe not the scientist part, but the rest would seem to have been almost tailor-made for him--and he takes the role and runs with it. His impish charm and razor-sharp wit prove to be capable of carrying the film almost entirely by themselves, and almost every moment Downey is on screen is captivating.

In support, the performances and roles are not as impressive. Where the character of Tony Stark is rich and complex, many of the other characters would have benefitted from a little more attention in the way of backstory and subplot. Obviously, in launching a franchise, there is a need for a fair amount of exposition to establish the hero, and a great degree of screen time is devoted to this. Moreover, with a run-time of just over two hours, there isn't a lot of room for exposition on secondary characters. Unfortunately, this means actors like Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges are left to play what amounts to cardboard cut-outs. To their credit, they do manage to breath life into Colonel Rhodes, Pepper Potts, and Obadiah Stane, respectively, and--but for an occasionally awkward interchange between Howard and Downey--they do manage to help carry the story. It just seems as though there could have been a little more going on with the supporting cast.

As for the other elements of the film, it is hard to find complaint. For a film that is largely devoted to designing weapon technology, it doesn't really drag at all. The fight choreography is generally pretty engaging. When Stark is in the suit, Favreau manages to keep the viewer involved with intercut shots of Downey's face inside the suit, something that allows the audience to remain involved with the hero, accomplishing what the Spider-Man franchise (to give just one example) has had problems achieving. And this may seem a trivial complaint about other films in this genre, but where other films ("Ghost Rider", "Batman Begins", "The Incredible Hulk", etc.) fail to have the actor's distinct voice while in hero-mode, Downey is the voice of Iron Man. Unfortunately, Bridges' voice is amplified, coming across as maybe the only major directorial misstep in the film.

Now to have read this review, one may think that my reaction was slightly better than tepid. The film was pretty good. It opens with action, and then takes a few steps back, which is an effective method of attack, although it may take just a little too long to get back to where the opening left off. Once he's in the caves of Afghanistan, the film maintains a steady course, and Faran Tahir's Raza is a particularly terrifying foil early on. Aside from the absence of really strong secondary characters and a little bit of fat in the rewind (oh, and Downey's interplay with his robotic aides occasionally approached Luke Skywalker/C-3PO/R2D2 territory), this film is damn good. Downey is triumphant, and the film is called "Iron Man", so that was really going to make or break the film. Anything that the film lacks as a whole, he more than makes up for, leaving the viewer largely sated.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Travels with Charley

So my left ear is fucked. It hasn't popped since we were flying into St. Louis on Friday. It is not fun.

You want to know what else isn't fun? Travelling. Especially flying American.

Friday, the old lady and I got to the airport at 8:15 for our 9:50 flight. By 9:30, we had boarded and were awaiting the go ahead from O'Hare clearing us for a landing around noon. Well, that didn't happen, and we were told that we could get off the plane for about fifteen minutes but that we had to be back to take off shortly. So we grabbed a quick snack, got back into out spacious seats, and soon the plane was taxi-ing (?) to the runway. The plane picked up speed, preparing to finally take off, and then we were jarringly torn from the grips of a flight to be brought back to the gate as a result of a 'stall warning light' coming on as the plane accelerated. The pilot explained that a maintenance man would board, fix the problem, and then we'd be off. The problem was fixed, we left the gate, and prepared for take-off. And then we flew to Chicago.

Oh, wait. No we didn't. That's right; the same fucking things happened a second time, and we got to go back to the gate and have maintenance board again to not fix the problem and they put in a call to Tulsa (always a bad sign when Oklahoma's getting a phone call) and they cancelled our flight, letting us de-board at about 2:30. Yes, 2:30. 9:30 to 2:30 on the same fucking plane, and we moved two gates down. And when we got off the plane there was one whole person to take care of the entire plane of pissed off customers. So we called some phone number, and they rebooked us to fly in to Milwaukee through St. Louis, but not without a wait at the Austin Airport. So just a few miles from our home, we got to spend nine hours in an airport, waiting for flights that would have us conveniently arriving at our final destination at 11:15 pm instead of about 2:00 pm.

American Airlines cancelled four flights to Chicago from Austin Friday. Two due to weather, the other two the result of mechanical errors. The big question for me is how can this joke of an airline still be in business? Riddle me that.

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And how the fuck can any respectable airport stop serving food at, like, 8:00 pm? There was like one prepared food option when we got in at 7:45 on our concourse in St. Louis, and the bar had already had last call. What the fuck is up with that?

It really make me question their spirit.

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The wedding was nice, and seeing friends was cool, too. Congratulations Andy and Jenny.

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Congratulations are also in order for my fantasy baseball teams, as both of my head-to-head teams maintained the first-place status in the standings. I lost in my keeper league but closed to a respectable 7-5 loss from a 9-3 deficit on midday Saturday.

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The Royals completed a two-game sweep of the Indians to follow their disappointing visit to Arlington. Gil Meche finally pitched well. Hochevar did as well. Soria has still yet to give up an earned run this season. He's been absolutely dominant, allowing four baserunners all season. Phenomenal.

So far, of particular worry are the performances of Guillen and the Royals' one-dimensional shortstops. Now, I know as well as anyone that Guillen is very hot/cold. I have had him as a fantasy owner when he was cold, and I've been scorched by him when he was hot, and the streaks can last a long time. Let's hope the hot streak starts soon. As for the shortstops, I really wish there were a way to get Callaspo's bat in the lineup more regularly because TPJ has been putrid at the plate. Rany just noted that TPJ's OPS+ just got into the positive at +1. Abysmal.

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Scrumptious Chef sent me an email with this link and advice to avoid drinking in the northwoods.

Now, this smiley face killer story seems to have legs to me. Obviously, the gang theory takes this to a whole new level of conspiracy theory that I'm hesitant to jump on board with, but these detectives are closer to the facts than any of us are. I don't think you come up with a theory that complex without an abundance of clues leading you there.

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In the past week, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova were on Fresh Air.

Nick Cave was on, too. Also, Nick Cave tickets across the country went on sale on Friday. Tour dates here. I already have a ticket for the Portland date. Guess it means I get to hang out with Seany.

And Tom Waits is announcing tour dates for his upcoming Glitter and Doom Tour at 6:00 am.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Off to the Great North

Or something. Tomorrow morning I get to show my friend Andy that his wedding means enough to me to fly up to Milwaukee (yeah, the poor man's Cleveland--according to Joe Posnanski--which is basically the poor man's Pittsburgh) for the weekend. I do get to see friends and get drunk, so that's cool. I just wish it was in Minneapolis.

Why can't everyone think of Josh when planning their weddings?

They should.

Also, it's not warm up there. I think it snowed in Minneapolis last weekend. It's supposed to rain tomorrow in Milwaukee. That's fucked up. Do they know that it's May now? Someone send them the memo, ASAP.

I better get to eat some Potato Ole's tomorrow. Yeah, Chad, when I go to Milwaukee, I eat Taco John's. You can't not.

So I'm sorry for mailing this blog entry in reader. I will be incommunicado por este semana. That could be right, maybe.

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Also, it would appear as though that fire that I lit under the collective asses of our Kansas City Royals was a short-lived one. Two straight losses to the less than good Rangers, and the Royals find themselves four games under .500 again. And a stellar Zack Greinke start was wasted, to boot.

Why?

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Finally, I hope to see "Iron Man" this weekend upon my return to Austin. If so, be expecting a reaction soon.

And I really can't wait for "The Foot Fist Way" to open.

What are your feelings on Wordman?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More on the serial killer

If you missed it in the comments section, little brother posted this link to the KSTP in-depth feature on the serial killer(s?). Just to reiterate, I have been vehemently stating that the series of seven college-aged men all ending up in the Mississippi after drinking in downtown over a relatively short span of time is much much more than a series of coincidences, which is what the La Crosse Police Department wants everyone to believe. Since the La Crosse "accidental drownings" began happening, other young college-aged men in St. Cloud, Eau Claire, and Minneapolis have died the under the same "coincidental" circumstances.

Now, up until about ten years ago, college-aged men were getting shit-faced all over river towns in the Upper Midwest without fucking dying and turning up in rivers. Suddenly, it happens much more regularly than anyone would like, and we are left to wonder what the authorities were doing. So far, only the Chris Jenkins death--which happened while I lived in Minneapolis, but I immediately believed it to have been linked to the La Crosse (or "Smiley Face") serial killer--has been ruled a homicide, and that was years after the fact.


Speaking of bodies turning up in bodies of water...

This case also screams of foul play, but it doesn't look like it'll be heading that way. Gotta love APD...

Where's Ozomatli? Don't they need to be arrested right about now?
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