Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bravos: No cause for applause

If I were to pressed to name my second favorite baseball team, you'd find me calling out, "The Atlanta Braves." It goes back to that 1991 Braves team, who I rooted for hard as they captured my eleven-year-old imagination with their historic turnaround. As a youngster, it's not hard to keep rooting for a team as they embark upon a 15 year sting of divisional domination marked with playoff appearances every year. They managed to retain a few major faces of the franchise for large chunks of that time, like Chipper, Smoltz, Glavine, and Andruw. For the most part, they did it the right way with a strong farm system producing talent like Glavine, Andruw, Chipper, David Justice, Rafael Furcal, etc. With a few exceptions (the acquisition of Greg Maddux comes to mind, but I was wracking my brain to try to come up with another such signing and almost everyone I could think of was obtained via trade), they didn't feel like they were the team who went out and bought talent like the Yankees and Red Sox and Mets are today.

All that being said, I've been watching portions of the last couple Braves games, and there should be no confusion as to why they've been so bad this season.

They are a team in utter disarray.

They are abysmal on the road, currently finding themselves tied for second-to-last in road wins.

They have struggled to score runs (their number inflated by their runs scored in their two losses to Philly over the weekend), despite having someone who was hitting within ten points of .400 until July 4th. They have usually sound baserunners like Mark Kotsay finding himself out of place on the basepaths and getting caught up in two run-downs during one time on base (getting bailed out the first time by an errant throw to third base only to get nabbed in between third and home). Their 19 runs scored on Saturday and Sunday were more than offset by the fact that they've now allowed eight runs or more in four straight losses.

Their bullpen has managed a mere 15 saves all season. Read that again. 15 saves. All season. How can a team make it to August having only recorded 15 saves? That is preposterous. Needless to say, they are dead last in team saves. They have blown 40% of their save opportunities. 10 blown saves to 15 successfully saved games. Can that even be real?

John Smoltz is out for the season, and his Hall of Fame career may be over, too. Chipper made his way to the DL for the shocking first time this season. Tim Hudson was put there the same day. And without Hudson or Smoltz, there's not a whole lot of depth in their rotation. 25-year old Francoeur was so playing so poorly that he got sent to the minors to get his head straight only to be called up three days later because they had to place Omar Infante, Jeff Bennett and Manny Acosta on the DL simultaneously.

They are playing some horrible defense. Not just in ways that show up in the box score either. Sure Norton threw away that bunt Aaron Miles laid down, but their shoddy defense is far more pervasive than that. They are not executing anything well. Double play balls are being mishandled. Throws from the outfield to home plate are being airmailed or--at the very least--leaving All-Star catcher Brian McCann open to concussion-inducing collisions at the plate. They are throwing to the wrong base from the outfield, allowing runners to advance to second when there is no reason they should not be on first base. Quite simply, they are playing fundamentally deficient defense.

And if you've got a team that can't play on the road, can't consistently score runs, can't close out a ballgame, can't remain healthy, can't perform to reasonable expectations, and can't play defense at a major league level, you're looking at a team that can't win ballgames.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hey Asshole!

Yeah, you.

You're at a fucking movie. Turn your fucking phone off.

Don't think I can't hear it when it's going off on vibrate.

Turn it fucking off.

Part with your phone for two fucking hours of your hopelessly self-involved life, leave your fucking bubble for just a bit, and turn your fucking phone off.

Not vibrate.

That still makes a sound.



Friday, July 25, 2008

San Jose or sans Jose?

I had been a fantasy owner of one Jose Guillen numerous times in the past. I had experienced the highs and the lows, so when the Royals signed him, I had an idea as to what to expect.

My expectations were not that he'd be this hot/cold. Honestly. There was no one in baseball as hot as he was for about six weeks. He was amazing. He was ripping everything he touched. You got the sense that every trip to the plate was going to result in an extra-base hit or a screaming single, driving in multiple runs along the way.

And he did just that an inordinate amount of the time.

Since June 23rd, his average has dropped from .293 to .260 today. He just had his sixth 0-fer in seven games. His OPS has come back down to a very earthly .736 (as of yesterday's game) after peaking nearly .100 points higher at .830. He hasn't socked a dinger in a month and two days.

That would all constitute what could be aptly described as a dry-spell.

I'm not going to lay blame here. His back is hurting. He still makes his way into the lineup almost every day. And yes, his back was hurting while he was on his tear, too, but I can't imagine it's getting any better as the season wears on.

What I will say is it's a whole helluva lot harder sitting by and watching him when he's cold when he's wearing a Royals uniform.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Speaking of Ryan and Keli's wedding...

They had a band that's kind of blowing up in the Cities play their reception. I have to say it was kind of unexpected, but they're friends of the sister of the bride.

Anyway, they're Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, and they were pretty damn good. Their CD release party is this weekend, but I can't speak as to whether or not there's any nationwide distribution behind this.

If you see them coming to your town, be nice.

Congratulations, Newlyweds!

I just remembered that I needed to congratulate Ryan and Keli on the internet, so it's official.

Best of luck, newlyweds. Stay away from Bob Eubanks. He breaks up marriages. I've seen it on the TV.

Now, they're not reading this, as they're newlywedding it up in Chi-town--surely hanging out with the likes of Jeff Tweedy and Billy Corgan--but have a helluva time.

2008 Major League Baseball Preview - Revisited

Now I wanted to write this before I left town, but was unable to get around to it. Here is a belated entry about the baseball season at the break, and more importantly, my often misbegotten attempt at previewing the season...


As the season was gearing up, I wrote this. You can feel free to go back and look at it, but here's a recap:

AL East

I said that the Red Sox would finish first followed up by the Yankees, Blue Jays, Devil Rays, and Orioles. Most people would not have predicted this performance by the Devil Rays. Obviously, this division is still up in the air, and it could play out in much the same way that I predicted with the Jays and Rays switching spots. I do still think the Red Sox win the division.

As far as this one was concerned, I could still be proven mostly right. I did go out and predict a huge season from Dustin McGowan, where it would appear that Kansas Citian Shaun Marcum may be the Jays hurler to break out. I also predicted a season marked with rough stretches for Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes. I did not make the leap and say that each of their seasons would be one long rough stretch. Hughes had a quality start (dubious stat, I know...) on April 3rd. His ERA in 22 innings is a nice, even 9.00. Kennedy had one on April 14th and another on May 22nd. Ian's ERA is resting firmly at 7.41 in 37.2 innings of work. Neither are currently with the big league club, as Kennedy is pitching effectively but in Scranton - Wilkes Barre with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, and Hughes is on the 60-day DL with a stress fracture in his right rib cage.

AL Central

Holy shit was I wrong about the Central. I had the Indians winning the division with the Tigers placing a close second and the Royals, Twins, and White Sox rounding things out. Where do I start? Why bother really. If you reversed my order of finish, you'd almost have the current standings of the AL Central. Maybe the Royals can make a charge up to third. More to come on them later...

AL West

Well, if I'd had the Mariners in last instead of first, I'd have gotten this division right. Seattle finds themselves 24 games out of first, and they are already sick of Erik Bedard. I didn't expect them to be great this year, and really just gave them the edge because I thought the division was a little on the weak side. But they are the weakest of the weak thus far. I also seem to have drastically short-changed the mysteriously potent Rangers offense.

For whatever reason, I predicted that Harden would actually stay healthy, which he has for the most part. Obviously, I think he goes to the DL in a Cubs uniform. Richie Sexson never got his average above .240 and actually got cut. I also thought that Ervin Santana would not turn it around.

NL East

In order of my preseason prognostication: Mets, Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Marlins. Not horrible, I guess, but that's only in light of my AL predictions. The Mets are a game up on the Phillies and a game-and-a-half ahead of the Marlins, whose "stable of young, injury-prone pitchers" have not cost them what I thought they would. The Braves can't seem to score any runs, and the injury to Smoltz has really crippled any hopes they had at making a playoff run. They're only 6.5 games out, but they really don't have much of a chance at making that turnaround.

I'm still waiting on Santana to prove my Cy Young prediction. Kind of thinking it won't happen... Maybe he has that second-half surge he's so famous for. Francoeur, contrary to my hopes for him, has been atrocious. Utley and Hanley would seem to have proven me right.

NL Central

My prediction: Brewers, Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, Houston, and Pirates.
Current standings: Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, and Astros

This has been a division of two strata. The top three are separated by a mere three games. The Reds sit ten games out in fourth. The rest follow shortly thereafter.

I really didn't see the Cardinals being able to compete this year. Wainwright, Mulder, and Carpenter have combined for 14 starts (13 from Wainwright). Lohse, Looper, Todd Wellemeyer, and Joel Piñeiro have held down the fort, with Lohse deciding to live up to his potential that everyone forgot about in 2003. Seriously. Where the fuck did Lohse come from this year? He's 12-2. Kyle Lohse. Unfathomable. He wasn't even signed to a team on Opening Day. And then there's Ryan Ludwick. Who? No one outside of his family knew who he was before the season started. He made the All-Star team. He turned 30 just over a week ago.

The rest of the division has played out fairly predictably.

NL West

I'd like to not ever write about this putrid division. There is not a team over .500 in the mix. It's sad, quite frankly. I said it would be the Padres winning the division over the Dodgers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Giants.
Wrong. The Padres find themselves in last place, 12.5 games out as I write this. The Diamondbacks are a game ahead of L.A. with the Rockies and Giants trailing them. The Rockies aren't sure if they're sellers or not as the trade deadline draws nearer. That's all I'm going to devote to this abysmal division.

Post-Season Predictions

Well, it looks like the Braves won't be winning the Series. The Indians won't make the ALCS. I'd revise this, but what's the point?


All this being said, I have somehow managed to hold first place in both of my main fantasy leagues for the greater part of this season. Maybe I should stick to fantasy tips.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not Dead

Sorry for the unannounced absence. I was out of town for a week for the wedding of one of my boys, but for the days leading up to my departure, our cable internet wasn't working.

In fact, Time Warner has been a pretty substandard provider for pretty much the whole time I have used them for internet service. Over the last three years, we've had nothing but problems. At this point, we're getting about four days a week or service to three days a week of outage that resetting the modem and router does not fix. In short, Time Warner can go screw.

More to come...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Y'all best reckanize

So this evening, the second season of "Burn Notice" had its premiere, and despite the limited presence of Tricia Helfer--who you may or may not already know, I loathe as an "actress" (read: model saying words on a screen), and intend to devote an entire entry in my BSG bashing series--it hit the ground running. The first season just got its release on DVD, and USA is putting all new episodes up on their website. That's my hint to you, reader. It's pretty easy to get caught up to speed. There are only 11 episodes in the first season. It's easy.

As for the show, it's really fun. You'll find yourself watching two or three more episodes than you planned on watching in a night, and before the week is over, you'll have finished the whole first season. Michael Westen, played by a cool and confident Jeffrey Donovan, is a spy who has been mysteriously blacklisted in the international espionage industry and is dead-set on finding out what happened. In the meantime, he puts his know-how to use as what essentially boils down to being a P.I., and often the show plays out as a marriage of all the best parts of "The Rockford Files" and "MacGyver" for a 21st Century audience.

In the interest of full disclosure, I watch more USA programming than I'd like to admit. I have seen more than my fair share of "Monk" and "Psych" (at least the latter can be kind of funny sometimes--"Monk" has become a show that pisses me off more often than not, but I still find myself watching Tony Shalhoub walking around being all OCD more often than I'd like to admit). Both of those shows are very PG, and "Burn Notice" is to a certain extent, as well*. But where the USA Friday night fare errs to the light detective comedy, "Burn Notice" has some edge and is genuinely cool. There's no grating psychobabble or retarded score. It's sleek and sexy and smart, something those other shows often fail to be.

*This actually kind of upsets me about USA as a network. I feel like they're missing out on a golden opportunity to air some shows that actually push some limits, but their slate could air very easily in the 8:00 PM ET timeslots on CBS, ABC, or NBC. Instead, the opportunity has been squandered, and they're essentially airing a new weirded up "Murder, She Wrote" for a new generation every Friday night.

So you can watch "Burn Notice" or blow it off. It won't change a thing in my life. I can tell you that I happened to watch it a few times because of Bruce Campbell's presence only and ended up rabidly devouring the entire series as they re-aired the first season over these past couple of months. I think you can, too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hardly Hardened

One has to wonder what the organization that is responsible for the destruction of the arms of two young, can't-miss aces like Kerry Wood and Mark Prior is going to do to the already fragile Rich Harden. Clearly feeling the pressure to call Milwaukee's raising of the pot, the Cubs sent Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, Matt Murton, and Josh Donaldson to Oakland for Harden and Chad Gaudin. I've personally never thought much of Chad Gaudin-- his WHIP is simply too high for me to consider as being effective--so the deal boils down to Gaudin eating innings at roughly league average and the brittle but talented Harden coming to Chicago and Billy Beane continuing the restocking process of his armory.

Realistically, does anyone actually see Harden making more than ten starts for the Cubs? He's currently three games shy of matching his total appearances in the 2006 and 2007 seasons combined, which would indicate to me that a trip to the DL is in the near future. Does he go down in his first start? After all, the man has passed the 100 innings pitched threshold all of twice since he broke into the league in 2003 (128.0 IP in 2005 and an aberrant 189.2 IP in 2004). Donning the Cubs uniform will surely result in his arm actually withering and falling from its socket, fluttering to the ground like a maple leaf in early November.

Free baseball? More like free coronary...

I could focus on Ron Kulpa's inexplicably microscopic strike zone the Royals' pitchers began pitching to in the ninth while the White Sox' pitchers enjoyed generous calls while they were on the mound.

I could wonder what Bill Hohn was looking at when he decided there had been no contact between base runner on first (Alexei Ramirez) and the second baseman fielding a grounder (Esteban German) after Ramirez noticeably winces following their brush up, ignoring what should have been the second out and allowing for the two runs that scored on Pierzynski's warning track sac fly on the very next play where Gathright should have been jogging into the dugout, ball in glove.

I could turn the shower on, sit down on the tile, and put my head on my knees, sobbing uncontrollably

I could do all those things, but why?

My biggest question following the Royals late-inning let-down is what the hell was Trey Hillman doing having Billy Butler trying to bunt Mark Teahen to second with no outs in the bottom of the 12th with the game tied? Billy Butler had bunted something like four times in his professional baseball career. That's counting the minors. And we're talking about Billy Butler here, not an Esteban German-type player. Mark Teahen's a great base runner. Butler has been hitting the ball pretty hard since he returned from Omaha. There are no outs with Masset just having walked Teahen on five pitches, and Butler comes to the plate, squares up to bunt, and puts the ball right back on the grass toward the pitcher for an easy double play. Teahen leads off with a walk, and Hillman has Butler bunt. Seriously.

Of course, Ross Gload singled immediately after the double play. Olivo grounds into a fielder's choice. The cameras track Butler through the dugout, looking confused and hurt. An opportunity is squandered for what one might assume is an attempt at catching the defense off guard, but you've got a guy who has really never had to bunt and already had the lack of confidence vote made by sending him down to AAA, and you decide that you'll have him bunting in a sensitive situation where the bunt really does have to be laid down properly. It doesn't get down, the Royals play themselves out of a chance to win the game against the division leading White Sox, and instead they are left with the taste of defeat in their mouths with no real reason why.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Tennis, Anyone?

After watching the tail end of the re-broadcast of the Federer-Nadal match, I can't help but lament the place that men's tennis has taken in the collective consciousness of the American sports fan.

It wasn't long ago that the Grand Slams took over much of the sports coverage on the news and ESPN. Agassi and/or Sampras were mainstays in the finals in seemingly every Grand Slam. Other American male tennis players were household names. Agassi hawked cameras when tennis wasn't actually on television. Like during Seinfeld. First-run episodes. Seriously.

Then the great Americans got old. Sampras retired. Agassi stuck around, made a couple more deep runs, couldn't beat Federer, retired. The next American hope stepped up. Well, maybe he didn't step up, but Roddick made some Wimbledon finals, won a U.S. Open, and then flamed out. And seriously, Sampras and Agassi didn't have to face a Federer in their time. And don't get me wrong, Sampras was great. Maybe he would have been able to go head-to-head against Federer in a time vacuum--both in their primes--and won. But Federer has truly seemed invincible on any surface other than clay for the past five years, and Sampras was never the top ranked ATP Men's player for 232 straight weeks. No one not named Roger Federer was.

Now that Rafael Nadal has emerged as a legitimate threat on surfaces not starting with a C-L and ending with an A-Y, it would seem that men's tennis should be in a great spot, but it seems like American's still don't care. Maybe they cannot make themselves give a damn about a capri-wearing Spaniard and a well-rounded Swiss(-man?) because Spain and Switzerland are two countries that don't really matter that much on a global scale.

Perhaps the women's game has overtaken the men's game in terms of popularity because of their respective lengths and our corresponding shrinking attention spans. The times have changed. Baseball--another sport whose popularity has waned as faster-moving or more action-packed sports (perception-wise, at least) have begun to take a bite into its share of the sports fan's viewing time--disappears from SportsCenter as soon as football season kicks into full-swing. Hell, there was a time when a gasoline fight between models ending in explosion elicited laughs, and as I fill my '86 Fleetwood with 18 gallons of $4.00 gas such egregious waste is downright offensive and nearly brings me to tears. The world has changed at least in some respects. Maybe the sexiness of the Maria Sharapova's of women's tennis can outdraw the brute force and quicker speed of the men's game. Maybe the Americanlessness of the men's game is that insurmountable, and until there is another contender on the stage, we'll see a continuation of American apathy towards the men's game. If that is the case, it's really too bad, as we are missing out on one hell of a burgeoning rivalry as Rafael Nadal comes into his own.

See? Not funny, now is it?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Eye Fuck

Get well soon, Jeremy Steen's eye. I hope you really fucked up that douchebag's hand. What that fuck doesn't know is that once you get your replacement bionic eye, you'll be able to burn him alive with it and then will napalm to be rained down upon him. RoboSteen to the rescue.

Sigur Rós "Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust"

On Sigur Rós' latest album (which translates to With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly), the band continues its progression away from the dark climes of ( ), crafting what is probably their most pop-minded album to date. (Remarkably, there are only three songs checking in at over six minutes in length.) When the first track, "Gobbldigook," kicks in, the initial reaction almost must be, "Wait, this is Sigur Rós?"

Oddly, there are quite a few of those moments littered throughout the album, which is probably as close to a pop record as the band will ever be able to get, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, they have made their name on creating music seeming to be both from and for the imagined icy geography of the Iceland of our minds; and while Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust may be lacking a tune as epically moving as "Svefn-G-Englar" or "Glósóli", the album may not need them. It works spectacularly well as is and feels fresh for a Sigur Rós album, which cannot have been expected from a sweeping post-rock band with vocals that act as much as an instrument as anything that conveys any message to the English-speaking listener and signature troughs and crests that take their audience out of their bodies.

Does the album meet the insanely high watermark set by their masterpiece, Ágætis Byrjun? Upon the first fifteen listens, probably not. But I'd be hard pressed to come up with ten albums that have come out since that have, so where does that leave us? Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust is a stellar follow-up to the triumphant recovery that was Takk... There are already songs from this album that I want to see live, and that's got to say something.

Man on Film: The Foot Fist Way

It dawned on me that I had neglected to write up a review of this film, even though I said I was going to, so here it is...

For starters, the ad campaign really kind of bothered me. I'd wanted to see this since listening to the commentary track for Superbad and, personally, didn't need the Adam McKay and Will Ferrell loved it slant.

As for the film (and I'm going to keep this very brief), it was very funny at times. There were also lulls. A lot of the comedy is enhanced by tone, which often makes a film better upon repeat viewing (which I've found to be the case just about every time I've seen The Big Lebowski or O Brother, Where Art Thou?). That being said, the comedic fits and starts--upon first viewing--perhaps give the film a few too many hurdles to jump, and regardless of its great final ten minutes or so, the film kind of limps to the finish line.

I can say that there is a lot of inappropriate interaction between adults and children, which is fucking awesome and endlessly entertaining to me. Also, Danny McBride does have a weird energy that is tailor-made for a creation such as Fred Simmons.

I should note that I was especially irritated by the Austin Chronicle's review in which they categorized the film as a mockumentary, while the film never purports to be any such thing.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Baseball and Shit

By seeing that title, I'm sure you got your hopes up and thought I'd interject some shit-related talk. Sorry. Just baseball.
  • So the Royals came back from four down in the sixth, scoring seven runs off Garrett Olson, Adam Loewen, and Chad Bradford in the top of the inning, thanks in very small part to Kevin Millar smacking a bobbled grounder with his bare hand into foul territory, allowing Guillen (who started the inning off with a walk, the latest in a rash of surprising bases on balls from Mr. Guillen) to score from third. The Royals batted around, and even TPJ had a good at-bat. Things came together, and they earned a split in the series against the Orioles, who have seemed to have their number for years. The bullpen then came in and completely shut down the Orioles, with Mahay and Soria doing their thing--not allowing a base-runner in their combined three innings of perfect work. These Royals do seem to be better than that horrendous losing stretch would indicate.
  • Which Royal makes the All-Star team? One would assume it would be either Jose Guillen or Joakim Soria. Both have been great. Is there any way two Royals make the team? Both are certainly deserving.
  • Jeff Francoeur got sent down to Double-A Mississippi to re-figure things out. Apparently, Frenchy is pissed. It's easy to forget that Francoeur is still only 24 years old, so it's probably a bit early to be hitting the panic button if you're a Braves fan. He's supposed to return after the break. It certainly could be worse. They could still have Andruw Jones...
  • Buster Olney is reporting that the Brewers are throwing Matt LaPorta at the Indians for C.C. Sabathia. According to him, J.J. Hardy may also be in the mix. I've also heard that it may be Alicides Escobar that the Brewers may include in the deal. If the Brewers can sign Sabathia to an extension, then I think the deal is worth it. If they're merely getting a three-month rental out of the deal, I don't think LaPorta and Hardy/Escobar were worth it.
Happy Birthday, America! Eat it, England!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Man on Film: The Incredible Hulk

Honestly, I thought this would be laughably bad. The trailers made the film look like it had gone so far into CGI-dependency that I was sure the film would look comically artificial. Thankfully, the trailers were misleading, and the film was surprisingly all right.

The film starts with Bruce Banner in Rio, keeping a low profile while hiding from the U.S. Military. Director Louis Leterrier manages to ease the audience into the action, setting the mood with Banner mostly living the life of a normal factory worker while pursuing potential cures for his condition--gamma radiation poisoning--and managing the suppression of his inner beast. The scenes in Rio are filmed beautifully, especially the chase sequence on foot. When the Hulk does make its first appearance, the smart move is made and much of the havoc wreaked is done from the shadows, simultaneously making the brute force of the Hulk mysterious and limiting the usage of CGI, thus lending more of an air of reality to the film.

When Bruce Banner returns to the States, the pace slows a bit with the Bruce and Betty Ross love story being (re-?)introduced. At times it feels like a lead balloon, but in the end it probably is necessary. The second main battle sequence is all right, but its having taken place in the daytime is a limitation, as there is no darkness in which to hide the Hulk, and the inherent flaw in making a Hulk film rears its ugly head. From this point on the film flies towards its solid finale, leaving the leaden second act in its wake.

While Zak Penn's screenplay isn't anywhere near the level of excellence he achieved with X2, it certainly isn't anywhere near as bad as X-Men: The Last Stand, which was absolutely abysmal in every sense of the word. The dialogue between Bruce and Betty is a bit uninspiring at times, but the film doesn't drag to the point that you are checking your watch, and the dialogue is mostly passable.

The film's main shortcomings are probably in its casting. Liv Tyler is not exactly the world's greatest actress, and there are times when she seems to labor under the pressure of acting opposite of Norton. Much, much more problematic is the performance of William Hurt, as Colonel Ross. Following up his terribly overacted performances in Mr. Brooks and A History of Violence, he nearly kills this film by himself, so much so in fact that I worry about even attempting to go back and watch him in anything filmed previously for fear of not being able to wash the stink from him.

Norton is solid, but the acting unfortunately stops as soon as the Hulk appears, which is problematic to me. At least, the Hulk is voiced by Lou Ferrigno...

All in all, the action sequences are well directed, Norton carries the weight of the film on his shoulders, and the screenplay is serviceable, all of which combine to outweigh the few shortcomings. The Incredible Hulk is fairly good, I guess.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cleaning House

After spending the greater part of my post-collegiate years as a mere cog in the machine at various workplaces, I can gladly say that I work at two places at which I actually feel valued. I feel like my input (when asked for and when volunteered, for that matter) is actually considered, which is actually kind of astonishing because I tend to err toward being outspoken--often to a fault. It also feels like the work I do is appreciated.

I am tempted to say that this esteem is derived from working in smaller organizations, and I am sure that is probably a large factor. To say that is the only reason is ludicrous, however. Even with small businesses, I have found, in my experience, that the efforts or the proles are often taken for granted.

The reason I bring this all up is that the coffee shop I left for Little City just had a management change and within a couple weeks about two-thirds of the staff walked out. I knew many of these people. They toiled countless hours, often for a pittance, and I would imagine that they felt much like I did after my two and a half years spent there: exasperated, unappreciated, and relieved to have left.

Of the employees who left, many were managers. Many had been there for more than two years. And they walked out. They no-call/no-showed. They walked out in the middle of meetings. They were unceremoniously fired for little or no reason. Their years of hard work forgotten as soon as they walked out the door, replaced with a fictitious revisionist slant on their years of hard work.

The new manager that was hired was the latest in a long line of managers who were either not cut out for the job or were sexually inappropriate (i.e. harrassing underlings or going to jail for possession of child pornography). This one was rumored to have been the first person to turn in an application, which would certainly appear to be in line with their long standing practice of a thorough hiring process with extensive background checks (the sex tourist/child pornographer had videos in which young boys referred to the man by name and was awaiting trial when he was hired), and from what I can surmise, did not seem to value the work of any of the people who worked there.

This really just seems like an overarching disregard for the laborers, and the tone is set from higher up. What worries me is that this seems to be a problem that is not isolated to this one situation. There seems to be a widespread notion amongst employers that the worker is exploitable and expendable. The growing chasm between the wages of executives and peons would certainly seem to be indicative of this. In fact, there should probably be a different term used to accurately describe how vast the disparity between the two wage classes actually is.

Labor and the laborer no longer seem to be valued, and if the worker feels exploited and undervalued, the labor produced will more than likely not be up to the worker's capabilities. I've seen it on the micro- level, and one could certainly argue that it is happening on the macro- level as the country plummets further and further into the depths of recession with the dire straits of depression on the nearing horizon.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...