Royals Season Review
2008 Kansas City Royals
It seems like just yesterday that I wrote my The Sound and the Fury-inspired Royals Season Preview but just as the leaves have begun to return to the Earth so too have the Royals begun to return their McMansions in Overland Park. Some will forget what it is they've done all summer. Some will eat a lot of buffalo wings. Some will follow in the family tradition of wearing their uniform all winter while cruising around Santo Domingo. Some will never return. None of will ever forget.
In case you haven't been following along, the Royals went on a tear in September and redeemed their season in a matter of weeks. Not only did they prove themselves to be better than some truly awful teams (Oakland, Seattle), they also stood apart from the quitters (Detroit) and held their own against the class of the league (Minnesota). It was inspiring to say the least, almost enough to make me wish I hadn't been bad mouthing the team after their horrific August. Here, to make amends I updated the chart I made then:
That's right, the Royals crept into Hector Elizondo territory. Maybe not Necessary Roughness Hector Elizondo territory but certainly Beverly Hills Cop III. I'll take it. Here's their record by month:
(If it doesn't match exactly with the chart, it's mostly because I'm bad at charts. As evidence: I accidentally put a peak between May and June instead of June and July. I'll understand if this means you don't anything I have to say about the election seriously).
Obviously it's a silly thing to drop entire months of the season in one's analysis, but I will say that there are some positive signs in those positive months. If nothing else, this team was capable of playing pennant race-caliber ball at times as opposed to just being consistently awful as in seasons past. Think of it in terms of movies. Since the mirage season of 2003, this team has been like McG (by which I mean only capable of producing relentlessly awful suck). This season, I think we can optimistically say this team was more like Michael Cimino. Sure, there was a lot of sadness and flailing, but there was also at least one period of glory. In that sense, it was a marked improvement much greater than the six games over last season would indicate.
And 4th place is nothing to sneeze at either. I, for one, was stupid happy when the Tigers lost yesterday to grab last place for themselves.
Mike Aviles - This year: He's very, very good. Like, one of the best short stops in the game good. Next year: We'll see. He'll decline, surely, but the question is how much.
Greinke, Meche, Davies - That's three pitchers out of a five man rotation. Davies might not ever be this good again, but he's a #5 at least.
Alex Gordon and Billy Butler - On the whole their seasons were slightly disappointing (if only because neither had an Evan Longoria-like explosion) but both ended the season very well and seem to be on the cusp of breaking out.
Dayton Moore - Still seems to know what he's doing. Still named Dayton. I like that.
David DeJesus - Had the best season of his career and would be a key component of a winning team if the Royals weren't dead set on keeping him out of CF. I'd hate to see him go, but he might be the best trading chip the Royals have.
Soria - The Mexicutioner.
The rest of bullpen - Seems like this is pretty much settled.
Tony Pena Jr. - Thanks for playing, Tony! Seems like a great guy, but so does my upstairs neighbor, and I don't want either one starting in the majors (or playing loud Evanescence).
Jose Guillen - So he wasn't bad and I do it's his desire to win that makes him an insufferable prick. That's an admirable quality if harnessed. If it causes you to attack chubby Midwesterners jawing at you? Uh, not so much.
Trey Hillman - You know how sometimes you're really excited to read a book/listen to an album/see a movie and then you do it and about halfway through you want to throw the book/go back to listening to Lyle Lovett/walk into Tropic Thunder on the way back from the bathroom to see what that's all about/fire your manager? Let's just say I'm getting worried.
Ross Gload - I like him on a good team. Just the second we've got one I'll pull him out of whatever independent league team he's playing for at age 52 and make him the second bat off the bench.
Brian Bannister - I still think he bounces back to being average in the A.L. and a little better should he get his shot in the N.L.
Somewhere in the Middle
Mark Teahen/John Buck/Alberto Callaspo/Miguel Olivo/Ryan Shealy - These are all the question marks on next year's team and some, if not most, won't be back. I think Teahen is becoming a rich man's Ross Gload if he doesn't put it all together, Buck is playing himself into backup duty, Callaspo can hit for average and take a walk but doesn't project to any position other than second and the Royals don't seem to like his defense, Olivo can only hit straight left-handed fastballs, and Shealy was great during his callup but is 29 with the body-type of an oak tree and an equal amount of agility.
My winter game plan is simple: Find a power hitting corner OF and make DeJesus the everyday CF with Maier/Gathright backing him up. If you absolutely must have DeJesus in LF then target a young, toolsy CF in a trade (Bannister? Davies? Rosa?). In either case, make Teahen a supersub with the understanding that he plays 1B if Shealy can't handle it and Kila isn't ready to move up from Omaha. He'll get his at bats one way or the other. Aviles can stick at short as can Callaspo at 2B. The pitching staff is pretty much set, but add one reliable bullpen arm and, if a starter gets dealt and none come back, target a #4 type. Keep Buck for one more year.
No matter what, no deals over 3 years, no dealing Greinke, and no turning down reasonable trade offers for Jose Guillen.
Royals Season Review
My favorite running subplot of the presidential election is that after screwing up that Spanish radio interview and choosing not to admit that he got confused, McCain now has to pretend that he really doesn't consider Spain an ally even though that's only slightly less absurd than saying he doesn't consider Great Britain an ally. Obama was almost gleeful when he got to mention it in the debate and McCain looked furious and started muttering to himself (note: I don't really think he was saying 'horseshit').
To me, this is going to play out exactly like Three to Tango. And by exactly, I mean McCain is going to keep this up until it goes too far and he has to tearfully admit he's not
gay mad at Spain during a United Nations gala. Also, Oliver Platt is going to co-star.
And with that, I have now mentioned Paul Walker, Oliver Platt, and Leelee Sobieski in consecutive posts. My work here is done. And by done I mean I no longer want to be
alive writing about such nonsense.
Continuing on with today's theme of small, useless posts:
I was looking something up and happened to stumble across the IMDb page for the movie Joy Ride (don't ask what kind of research brought me in contact with the IMDb page for Joy Ride. It's best if you don't ask questions like that). Anyway, I nearly spit coffee on the screen when I saw that that Paul Walker vehicle had come out in 2001. Really? I thought. That can't be. 2001? No, no way. Not Joy Ride.
Now, keep in mind, I've never even seen Joy Ride. Nor have I ever even thought about seeing it. I'm sure it's great. Or awful. Whatever. What shocked me is that I knew it had the aforementioned Walker, Steve Zahn, and I was pretty sure the girl was Leelee Sobieski (yep), but if I had to put money on it I would have guessed it came out in 2004 or 2005 at the earliest.
There was even a pretty big event that happened less than a month before the movie's October 2001 release and while you may think something like that would cement an era's most popular songs, books, and Paul Walker slasher flicks into a brain, I guess that's not really the case.
Oh, I should have mentioned in addition to being useless, this is also one of those trite "Boy, time sure does advance in a surprisingly quick and incontrovertibly linear fashion" posts. I look forward to doing another in May 2015 when I am shocked to find out that even though I remember ever single person in Eagle Eye, I don't remember that the day it opened I hit someone with my car and didn't stop to see if they were okay.
Best not to ask questions about that too.
In a small, domestic anecdote that doesn't warrant a Ziggy cartoon or the c-plot in an Two and a Half Men episode, it took me five attempts to correctly spell the word 'tomorrow' using my phone's 'T9' text messaging assistance.
If you're not familiar, T9 is a feature that guesses what word a person is attempting to spell based on the letters they've entered. In this case, it thought I was trying to spell 'tmososyo.'
Oddly, when I went to spell 'tmososyo' in a subsequent message, it thought I was trying to spell 'Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo.'
So I don't know how closely you follow current affairs in Nebraska...what's that you say? Very closely? Good. Then you probably know there's been a bit of controversy over a safe haven law designed to allow parents to leave unwanted babies at hospitals as opposed to, you know, the placenta-stained trashcan behind Temporary Classroom Trailer 11B.
Good law, right? Especially with abortion access and sex education being eviscerated in a state like Nebraska, a law like this seems essential to protect both the child and the mother (who previously would have been subject to a felony charge for abandonment). Despite there being a long history of this sort of practice, Nebraska was somehow the last state in the country to have this law. Fine. They rectified the mistake. Well done.
The problem comes in when lawmakers decided to use the word 'child' in place of 'infant' in the bill which has led to all sorts of hilarity like this headline:
Father drops off 9 kids under safe haven law
Oops. Turns out the only children being dropped off are more likely to drink beer than formula. That's not really the part that confuses me though (if anything it was all too predictable). I just can't understand how a guy managed to get nine kids to go with him to the hospital and be willingly abandoned. Did he tell them they were going to McDonald's? Did they have to take two cars? Did the abandoned 17-year old drive the second car? Did he stop to buy a lottery ticket and some cigarettes before he made himself a ward of the state?
I have questions. Clearly the only way I'm going to get answers is to adopt all nine of these kids and get the answers I need from Herb, Tiffany, Johnboy, Adam Jr., Kevin, Gabriella, Haruki, Phyllis, and Adam III.
The only thing stopping me is that I don't know what I'd do with them next. What's that? There's a poorly written safe haven law? Well, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to need to mapquest a route from my house to the orphanage and then from the orphanage to the hospital dropbox.
At this point it's clear who has seized the momentum in the current economic environment. It's not really even McCain's fault, honestly. He just so happens to represent the party that has pushed deregulation and privatization for the past 30 years at a time when it's abundantly clear that the former didn't work and the latter would have meant disaster for those depending upon Social Security (e.g. most everyone). Oh, right, I guess that does mean it's a little his fault.
No matter what you think of the collective memory of the American electorate, it's not hard for people to look at the stock market and know what privatizing Social Security would have meant. Nor is it hard for them to see through the blatant hypocrisy of these bailouts being engineered by a Republican administration which couldn't have shed the mantle of individual responsibility, privatization, and small government fast enough once it became clear a significant number of banks were going to fail. Thank god that, at least for the moment, the brakes are being put on the bailout plan so that it isn't just a trillion dollar giveaway to incompetent (yet over compensated) CEOs who, rest assured, aren't going to be giving that money back once they're in the black. I don't know, I guess I feel like since I'm going to be paying for AIG for the rest of my life, I might as well, you know, own some of it.
Anyway, I mention it only because a full week after the dominoes started falling John McCain just announced he's suspending his campaign and is asking to delay this Friday's debate in order for both parties to come together in order to solve the problem. On a purely political level, it's an interesting move but no less risky than his choice of Palin for the ticket (how's that working out, senator?). It's clear that whatever bounce he had coming out of the convention wasn't sustainable so again we have McCain throwing a Hail Mary and hoping that this will somehow make him seem like a decisive economic leader. It could work, I guess, though it's hard to imagine enough people being convinced considering there's no reason he couldn't have done this a week ago and actually gotten something done. As is, McCain's certainly going to piss off Bush who believes he has a solution (and is going on TV tonight in order to convince you he has one too) and has already pissed off the Obama camp who have an interesting choice to make themselves.
On the one hand, if Obama capitulates he plays into McCain's hand. On the other, he doesn't want to play the politician while McCain gets to be the bi-partisan hero for a plan that is more or less agreed to in principle.
(There were three things holding the plan up, none of them McCain's absence from Washington:
1. House members didn't want to do it now since taxpayers hate it and they're all up for election.
2. Dems, rightly, wanted oversight and a restriction on CEO pay in addition to a chance for at least some money to come back the government's way.
3. Even if the details could be agreed to, both parties seemed a little tentative in how their nominees would end up on the issue. Mostly, McCain didn't want to tie himself further with Bush while Obama was afraid that if he came out in favor of a modified Bush plan that McCain would oppose it for political reasons and leave him holding the bag. By the way, this totally would have happened and still might.)
The most likely scenario at the moment is that Obama's camp punts and says A) We haven't been campaigning anyway due to the debate prep and B) Senator Obama has been working with leaders including the McCain camp on a solution and C) It's not our decision to delay the debate and until we hear otherwise we intend to be in Mississippi on Friday. If they want to get really frisky they'll call for the debate on Friday to be at least partially about economic issues and then say something like, "We agree with Senator McCain but, for obvious reasons, feel like the debate should go on in order for the American people to hear each candidate's position on what should be done."
If it were me, I'd say that last move would be their best gambit here. I think they're comfortably enough ahead that they can take the high road while they let the media point out that there is no reason (other than sliding poll numbers) for McCain to call for this today as opposed to yesterday, last Friday, or last Tuesday. There's also bound to be more talk of Palin's experience level over this, especially after what's been the disaster of her trip to New York. Plus, no one thinks McCain is the economic wizard who is single-handedly going to fly to Washington and solve this problem.
Another interesting, if ironic, wrinkle: this move by McCain actually delays any sort of bailout package and could potentially have an adverse affect on the stock market tomorrow. If he'd stayed out of it, something probably would have been figured out in the next few days. Now it's anybody's guess because he's made it a partisan issue by pretending it's not one (which, again very ironically, it actually really wasn't before. Sure, the bailout didn't sail through, but that's mostly because it's an awful plan without a clearly better option). If the markets open down tomorrow and the bailout breaks down along party lines in the coming days, this certainly isn't going to look like McCain coming to the rescue.
Stock Photography Review
In honor of the first day of autumn, we'll be looking at some stock photos. The fall is the favorite season of stock photography because it's warm and colorful without being washed out, a quality that makes a background seem like everywhere without really seeming like anywhere. As always, the idea here is for us to see ourselves in these photos which means that this is what advertisers think of us:
Autumn is the time we...
...help our be-hatted, reluctant spouse shoot a deer in order to acquire the necessary sinew and intestine for their own bow.
...basket our gourds.
...get all Scrooge McDuck with our pumpkin pile.
...pretend the leaves in the park are hands holding us aloft after winning the chino sales competition at the Banana Republic.
...find ourselves doing chores in an empty, diaphanous nightmare world.
...wonder how our collection of tiny trees managed to produce a pile of Jurassically large and clearly plastic leafs.
...are surprised when our cutest babies are returned to us by conscientious garbagemen for having been inappropriately grouped with the yard waste.
...all agree on a new, less horrific history.
...take advantage of beautiful days in the park to work on our relationships with a book and grimly consider whether or not every chapter in the table of contents is going to be necessary to make this work.
...answer the previous question in the negative and then wear our tightest jeans to a different park with a copy of the most pretentious book at the Borders.
I've put off writing about this book since I liked it too much to have any objective take on it. I don't know if it's my favorite of Nabakov's--I have a soft spot for The Real Life of Sebastian Knight--but like most of his work it is so thoroughly better than what everyone else is doing that it's hard to maintain perspective.
Dave turned me on to the argument between Shadeans--those who believe Shade invented Kinbote and is the author of the entire text--and Kinboteans who believe the opposite, that Shade is the invention of Kinbote. Although I suppose I'd rather believe the latter--I felt very sorry for Kinbote and hated Shaded more than a little--it strikes me as being a typical academic gesture toward postulating exactly the opposite of the popular position in order to seem interesting.
(This move also works with movies, indie rock, and celebrity crushes. On a completely unrelated note, I loved the Speed Racer movie, I hate Radiohead, and I intend to talk about these shocking opinions at length when I'm married to Swoozie Kurtz).
Figuring out the "real story" is part of the fun of the book, but it's ultimately futile. Nabakov himself seems to have had pretty definite ideas about the reality he intended (his position is that there is no Kinbote at all but only a mad Russian scholar who is a very minor character in the book). If that mystery is all the book had to offer, it would be an impossible burden to put on the reader, something akin to a movie where we realize that the evil mastermind was a guy the hero passed on the street (in other words, a move M. Night Shyamalan would make). Fortunately, there's so much here that what's true is unimportant. It's a tragic, beautiful world and that so much of it seems to be someone's delusion only makes it sadder.
George Saunders has a hilarious take on Sarah Palin in the New Yorker. Read here.
And, in case you haven't noticed ("and judging by the attendence, you haven't"), the Royals have won 6 in a row, Soria has 40 saves, Meche has 12 wins, and I have begun to say things like, "If Ryan Shealy had been in the lineup all season this team would have been within 5 games of .500."
Ah, autumn, it's that magical time when I begin to talk myself into Kyle Davies and work out Brian Bannister for Jeff Francoeur trades in my head.
Then comes winter. A very long winter.
It's a strange feeling to read a novel after having read a host of books it clearly inspired in some way. There's more than a little of Percy's hero Jack (Binx) Bolling in a character like Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe, more than a little of the nascent awareness of the convergence of reality, technology, and culture that finds itself all grown up in time for DeLillo, and more than a little of Bolling's ill-defined spiritual "quest" in a great many boring books published since 1961 (and, occasionally, someone does something really interesting with these ennui-plagued journeys like Tom McCarthy's Remainder which I wrote about here).
I guess part of my problem is that I tend to hate insipid, self-important characters like Bascombe, and while I had quite a bit more sympathy for Bolling--he at least had a war--there's no getting around the fact that his existential crisis is fairly mundane. He's a young-ish bond trader living in a suburb of New Orleans whose only pleasures are movies, seducing his plump secretaries, and visiting his aunt and clinically depressed cousin. It occurred to me more than once that the cousin's story might have been a far more interesting one (certainly a more dramatic one), but the book gets the two characters together enough that Kate, the cousin, is able to give some life to both the plot and Binx himself. Of course, this is one of those books where the plot exists only as a coat rack to hang the characters' jackets rather than a living thing itself. Binx simply doesn't know what to do with himself. Everyone seems to agree that he'd be good in "research" (one of the few bits of humor in the book), but the concept is as ethereal as his own malaise (although he does imagine that as a physical thing hunting him down).
So he does what he's always done until his life as a functioning-melancholic collides with one who is decidedly non-functioning. Does it make him realize how shallow his own sadness is? Does it alert him to a greater suffering in the world? Honestly, it doesn't seem too, but Binx does reclaim a bit of the basic human sympathy he's lost by the end of the book though Percy seems to make it deliberately unclear if Binx has truly awakened or if he's only shifted his troubles onto the back of another. It will make me seem like I don't like this book when I say: Thank God Percy avoided the temptation to explore this character further in later books. Yes, I'm looking at you, Updike.
Because in the end it's a very thoughtful, sweet book. The language and characters are all very stunning and while its plot may be a pensive, existential one, Percy handles it perfectly. Maybe it's just because I'm watching Mad Men (which is set in the same year) and the main characters share a few qualities, but this book seemed to really nail the strange period after the Korean War but before the Beatles. Everyone is making money and there's a strong push back toward a normal pre-war domesticity, but a few, like Binx and Don Draper, have begun to realize how much, and how permanently, everything has changed. Draper deals with it by being at the forefront of the new world he doesn't like and then feeling guilty while Binx deals with it by doing nothing and then feeling guilty. Updike's loathsome Rabbit Angstrom (also a member of the class of '60-'61) deals with it like a less intelligent and principled Draper, but he too feels the worry and the guilt.
Of these I probably prefer Percy's work the most. Even if not perfect, it's a compelling version of America's despair--a pretty funny contrast to the European version, incidentally--and although it's not actually in the text, I choose to insert my own corrections for the segregated, upper-classness of it all.
And it's not that one needs to, exactly, but I'll be the first to admit that Updike and Ford have ruined mundane soul searching for me. Perhaps I'll go to the park later and think about this and the world's even greater failures while children run past trying to get their kite to take life. Even on the dying autumn grass the kite is beautiful and not a disappointment because there will always be kites and wind and autumn days in the park. I will wish badly to tell them this, but, even though I will have thought differently a moment earlier, it is I who will start to tear up when the kite again falls limply to the earth. The children will only shrug as children do, having yet to learn to see each failure as connected to every other failure in their short lives.
Oh, Jesus, now I'm doing it.
Well, I'm officially dead inside. I actually had a moment today where I thought, Jesus, I'm not going to check my 401k for a year. I wonder if I should transition away from growth-and-income funds to some more conservative holdings? No, I've got a long time until retirement. I'm fine.
I then double-checked an aspect of my dental insurance, paid to register my car, and thought about when I should buy my next cellphone while staring at my cubicle wall.
If this isn't interesting to you, you probably should ignore my next post tentatively titled "Adam Peterson reads a Suze Orman book then rethinks decision to not purchase a buy-one-get-one-free card offered by coworker's daughter."
Every Thursday at five for the past few weeks I've gotten in my car only to be greeted by the song "Play That Funky Music, White Boy." As you might imagine, this confused me. I only have that song on my iPod, I thought the first (and every other) time.
Sadly, it took me a while to figure out it wasn't a coincidence but instead the opening of a funk and soul show on KRNU called, naturally, Play That Funky Music White Boys. It's hosted by two presumably white boys who go by Cotton Ball and Polar Bear. I have to say, as college radio shenanigans go, it's pretty top notch.
You should check it out next week. They play some good stuff.
I've also learned that the titular song is A) Extremely Long and B) Plot Driven. There's a protagonist, conflict, even a bit of an arc. Who knew?
My favorite part is toward the end when a background singer mumble sings something like, "keepa playin dat funk music." I always wait for that part before swerving into oncoming traffic.
As part of my continued withdrawal from The Wire I've been trying to find a new television show on DVD to really take an interest in and fill my lunch hour in a way Chef Boyardee never can. So, not at all because Emmy voters told me to, I've begun to watch Mad Men just like everyone else started to 13 months ago. This way I can go back in my own mind and re-have all those conversations I ruined last year.
You: Oh, god, are you watching Mad Men? It's great.
Me: Is that like a spinoff to Mad About You?
You: No. Not at all.
Me: Because that show was great, right? I mean, cousin Ira! Yeah!
Me: I bet Paul Reiser would be available for a spinoff. Maybe I'll post this to the message board.
Me: So, how 'bout this September 2007 weather?
You: Oh, god, are you watching Mad Men? It's great.
Me: Totes. Don Draper!
You and Me: (high five) (on the flipside) (nodding)
My initial impressions are positive. Seems smart, exceedingly well made, etc. The problems are mostly confined to the fact that its treatment of '50s-early '60s patriarchy and sexism is far more a matter of male wish fulfillment than anything else (at least through the first disc. I imagine there are some comeuppances to come up). There is also a bit of uncommitted yearning for a return to a simpler time, but my guess is that once the show complicates its boys club office the same way it complicates its portrait of domestic life that things will start to take off. We'll see.
Anyway, I only bring it up in order to work in a heavy-handed Mad About You reference and to explore my least favorite aspect of the show, a little problem I'll call The Wink Conundrum. Fair warning, there's nothing I'd call a spoiler coming but I am going to be referencing moments from the first three episodes.
The Wink Conundrum is not unique to Mad Men or in any way a conundrum. Here's an example of the type of little moments, winks if you will, which I hate in novels, stories, movies, etc. and which Mad Men has in abundance through the first few episodes: A mother calls her young children into the kitchen where she's smoking with a friend. The children have been playing and one has a plastic dry cleaning bag over his head. The mother, angry, yells for the child to come closer so she can chastise him. We all know what's coming...or not. "If the clothes that were in that bag are on the floor, you're going to be in big trouble," the mother says.
Moments like these are inevitable in a show like this to a certain degree, but it's that heavily implied wink that always ruins it for me. Yes, some pregnant women smoked and drank in 1960, but we don't have to see the most conspicuous drink order this side of a Sam Adams' commercial to get that message. Moments later we see a guy slap a young boy in front of the boy's father after the kid spills something. The father approaches angrily...he's going to attack the other guy...nope, he too is mad at the kid. Wink.
The Wink Conundrum is actually an ancillary of the Forrest Gump Problem, something which might have an actual name and certainly existed long before Mr. Gump. Still, that awful, awful movie was my first encounter with it though it's pretty much informed almost every major novel of the last fifty years that takes place in the near past. The Problem is simple to spot by its arbitrary and anti-narrative tendency to insert either historical figures into the path of the protagonist or, alternatively, insert its protagonist into specific historical events (see Ragtime, Middlesex, Against the Day, Kavalier and Clay, etc.) God, I hate it when novels do that (which is not to say I hate the novels themselves although I usually do) and the do it a lot. Thanks to this issue, I'm currently under the impression that everyone in the 1920s had the chance to meet Henry Ford and Houdini because they spent their days wandering around the country making cameos in each citizens' life.
What binds the two phenomenons together is a post-WWII/popular culture nostalgia that manifests itself as false condemnation in the case of The Wink and nudge-nudge navel gazing in the case of The Problem. I suppose at their heart both stem from an innate to desire to see one's generation (or, if one feels guilty enough, one's parent's generation) as having sprung from uncivilized chaos (The Wink) yet having succeeded to produce greatness and meaning (The Problem).
I doubt it's just a boomer issue either, but I guess we'll see when someone writes a novel wherein the protagonist meets Kurt Cobain at a basement show in Seattle, does drugs until '96, starts a search engine company which makes him wealthy, moves into a penthouse in Manhattan next door to Warren Buffett's, watches 9/11 from his balcony, is converted to Christianity by Rick Warren, and then ends up becoming the first ambassador to Space Australia (I'm guessing on that last bit).
I'd like to believe that a novel like that will never be written (or that a holographic cable show won't come out in 2050 with winking nods to eating organic food), but it's inevitable. Hopefully whatever poor soul has to write that book at least does it with a sense of humor that seems to have skipped a generation.
You didn't see where that post was going, did you? Oh well, we'll always have the Mad About You joke.
Apparently there is now a show where people have to contort themselves into shapes in order to match the hole in a wall that is coming rapidly toward them. Appropriately, it's called Hole in the Wall. It appears to be an international phenomenon with different versions for each country. The producers are under the impression that every nationality wants to see their own people--not smelly foreigners--pushed into a pool of local, patriotic (and green) water. They're right.
Here is a casting call posted to YouTube for the American Version which contains some examples. Did you know this show has been in places as diverse as Russia and Netherlands (sic)?
I've never really felt any draw to write for television before, but now I desperately want to get in on the ground floor of this hole phenomenon (See what I did there? That's going on my cover letter). I even made a note for sweeps week: rhombus.
This is going to be the best domestic drama ever! Even in the clips the wall and the scared Japanese people have a whole Ross-Rachel thing going on. Will they kiss? Won't they kiss?
I'm thinking season two goes into kind of an upstairs/downstairs scenario to really get to the bottom of these class issues I keep hearing about.
I've apparently suffered some kind of phantom muscle pull in my chest which is making it impossible to do anything other than breathe and type inane, paranoid blog posts. I'm even thinking about losing the breathing if this keeps up.
I say phantom because it was one of those injuries that occurred while I was doing nothing, causing my internal monologue to basically go something like Jesus, my chest hurts. Wait, how long has it been hurting? Think, Peterson, think. Oh no, thinking hurts. I bet that means this is never going away. I really don't want to spend all Tuesday at a doctor only to be referred to another doctor who is only going to tell me that I'm dying. I wonder if that new J.J. Abrams show is on tonight? Oh no, thinking about J.J. Abrams hurts too. Has moving always felt like this? Nothing is ever going to be the same now.
Anyway, I just wanted you to know so that you won't be shocked when my obituary shows up with muscle pull listed as the cause of death.
On Editing a Novel #8
STARTING A NEW NOVEL. You asked me to be honest, so here it goes: it's clear what you have isn't working. Look, you gave it your best shot and maybe, well, maybe it's just time to try something new. No, I don't think this is quitting. Think of it as a fresh start to write the kind of book you wanted to write before that other one got away from you. Oh, Jesus, don't be like that. I'm not saying you're not any good, just that the book...no, no, wait a second, that came out wrong and you didn't let me finish. Yeah, fine, storm off. That's what Tolstoy would do, isn't it? You're right, let's just calm down. I didn't mean that. I'm sorry. I'm going to try again. What I want to say is that you keep working on a book that doesn't seem to be making you happy and maybe a new book would make you happy. No, it's not that you're "polishing a..." oh, hell, I can't even say it. Let's stay classy. If you used your gift for similes a bit more in your novel we wouldn't be having this conversation. Yeah, well, use this in your novel. Okay, can we just get through this? Fine. I think you have two options here. You can--don't even say it again--you can keep editing your not-at-all-turd-like current novel or you can start another one. How should I know what you'd write about? You're the writer. Allegedly, I don't actually see a lot of proof. Yeah, well, we've both said things we'll regret. Maybe you should do a children's book. I don't know, kids like bunnies, right? These things pretty much write themselves. It's not permanent. Think of it as something to clear your mind while you think up an idea for another novel. Oh, that's great. Let's hear it. No, that's awful. Seriously, I don't want to go through this again. Keep thinking about it. In the meantime, I'm telling you: bunnies. I don't know what to do with the last one, maybe just toss it in a closet and try to forget about it. Yeah, well, that's only if there's space in the closet that isn't occupied by your father. You go to hell, too. You know how hard I've tried to help you with that awful book? Sometimes I don't even think you notice. Of course I'll be there to help with the next one. I didn't mean all those things, I'm sorry. Let's just move ahead to #9 FINDING A VANITY PRESS AND CONVINCING YOUR PARENTS TO ORDER HALF THE PRINT RUN.
Fantasy Football Draft Recap
Sigh. I know, I'm bored too.
That's the logo, and it might not make sense until you see this picture:
Everybody got it now? Good. Look, just because the man has the same body type as my elderly 1st grade teacher isn't any reason not to have complete and total faith in him this year.
(UPDATE: Damnit, I just looked to find a link in an old post and realized I made a much funnier joke last year when I said Bill Parcells has the body type of Gloop and Gleep from The Herculoids. This tells us a few things:
1) I'm slipping
2) Bill Parcells' body type is a subject of ongoing fascination for me
3) If my old first grade teacher Ms. Summers is...
-b) reading this blog
-c) an expert on The Herculoids
...she's probably feeling insulted right now).
I actually named the team this because I really like the sad, darkened Nautilus photo. Why that can't be a mascot for a team somewhere, I don't know. Incidentally, the OKC basketball team just announced Thunder as their team name and introduced an absurdly generic blue, orange, and yellow logo. Um, let's all forget I ever thought about taking an interest in them specifically or basketball generally.
This team is in the same league as If Mandy Patinkin Was A Fantasy Football Team was last year and while the name is less than satisfactorily cumbersome, it still can't reasonably be said outloud so I think I did my job. I had the last pick in the draft so I drafted 12, 13, 36, 37, etc. which is a position I don't think I'd ever been in before and hope never to be in again.
First Round - Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco. I hate him this year, but the first 11 picks went exactly as expected and it was either Gore and Owens or Owens and Wayne. Wouldn't have been the end of the world, I suppose, but I do think Gore has some value going this low. I actually feel pretty good about him since I've taken him. Probably for the same reason that I eventually got excited about John Kerry. Incidentally, this will likely end about as well.
Second Round - Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas. I've never had him on a team before and he's all they've got. I'm thinking a lot of catches here. I briefly considered his QB (Romo) before I remembered that meant I might have to take an interest in Jessica Simpson. As the cancellation of Newlyweds after her divorce made me aware of the disappointments that life brought, I just don't think I could do it.
Third Round - Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland. If you're following along at home, you may have noticed that these are the same two running backs that my team had last year. It worked out okay then, plus I got to make a joke about prison at the draft for the second consecutive year. So all and all, a win. Also good value, a key when drafting with back to back picks which I forgot...
Fourth Round - Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh. ...here. A bit of a panic pick since QBs were going fast (Brady went 2nd). Still, not good value especially since I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to spell his name correctly on the sheet that I keep track of picks with. Not an auspicious debut for Ben and I.
Fifth Round - Tony Gonzalez, TE, Kansas City. Let's just ignore the fact that both of my teams rely on this guy and that Tony's QB could be beat out by Devon Sawa from Little Giants. Another panic pick. In my defense, tight ends were going fast and I hated all of the WRs being taken around here just like I did in the fourth round when I was one pick from Brandon Marshall (and two from Santonio Holmes) yet the next guy who went was Welker. Oh, wait, I should have taken Welker. I hate me.
Sixth Round - Laveranues Coles, WR, New York (Jets). He hates his QB. He has a mysterious nagging injury. He feels like he's been disrespected by his team. His team feels like he's being a baby. Otherwise he's great.
Seventh Round - Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay. I love Joey Galloway, nobody ever sees him coming. By the way, he's still one of the fastest guys in the league at 36. I guess what I'm saying is, I hope he and Dara Torres have a baby and then find a way to market the stem cells to the general public. (Too much? Yeah, probably too much).
Eighth Round - Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami. I didn't want him but this was the 85th pick. That's dumb low for him even considering...
Ninth Round- Ricky Williams, RB, Miami. Wow. Didn't see that one coming did you. Look, nobody knew this team at this draft more than me. There are three ways this works out: 1) All season long it's more or less a timeshare but a predictable one like Jax, 2) Ricky starts early until Brown is healthy at which point they switch, or 3) One gets hurt and the other takes over. I'll be happy with any of those scenarios though 2 & 3 are the most likely.
Tenth Round - Matt Shaub, QB, Houston. Still no idea who he is. I hope he's good at whatever he does.
Eleventh Round - Antwaan Randle El, WR, Washington. At this point I've realized my WRs are weak so I go with an upside pick. By the way, I initially spelled two out of his three names wrong when I typed that just now. See, and you thought this wasn't fun.
Twelfth Round - Who cares. Some dude. Quick thoughts on McCain speech: Fine but absurdly boring. Now that the convention is over it might be a really promising next week for the Republicans followed by a long period of trouble since Palin is (by all accounts) going in the bunker while the Democrats continue to work their ground game. Does the enthusiasm hold if it's only McCain out there?
Thirteenth Round - Devin Hester, WR, Chicago. Again, another upside pick.
Fourteenth Round - Kicker Kickerson, K, Kickersville.
Fifteenth Round - Baltimore D. I have subsequently dropped them for the Bengals on the hopes Joe Flacco (the rookie QB they face in week one) acts like a guy who couldn't cut it at Pitt, played ball at Delaware, and then stupidly got put in an NFL game. What's that you say? That's exactly the situation. Ah, right. Bet the under people.
So my team looks like this:
QB - Ben Roethlisberger
RB - Frank Gore
RB - Jamal Lewis
WR - Terrell Owens
WR - Laveranues Coles
WR - Joey Galloway
TE - Tony Gonzalez
K - Adam Vinatieri
Def - Cincinnati Bengals (but only for week one)
BN - Ronnie Brown
BN - Ricky Williams
BN - Matt Schaub
BN - Antwaan Randle El
BN - Devin Hester
BN - Ray Rice
I actually like this team a bit more now than I did while drafting it (I was possibly just bummed out because I picked a team full of guys with names I couldn't spell). I feel like despite ending up with the 12th pick that I have a team of solid performers with a few highlights. I love Brown and Williams on the bench though I'm trading Williams if he starts the season hot (he will). My receivers are obviously the weakest link but I think that's partly because Galloway and Coles are the sneaky sort of players that always end up with 1,000 yards and 8 TDs at the end of the year and no one is quite sure how. That's not going to be comforting if I can't swing a trade, but I'll deal with that then.
Draft Grade: C
Okay, I said I was done with politics, but I can't help it. I have thoughts. I'm doing my best to keep them to myself, but I can't do that any more than I can stop writing the word 'I' in these three sentences I have written here on this blog I do.
I promise this is the last one for awhile.
I've read a lot of reaction to the Palin speech and this is the one that takes the most realistic, balanced view, in my, admittedly biased, opinion:
I think last night was bad for the Republicans and they just don't know it yet. They already had support from something like 90% of Republicans. How much higher can they really go in the polls with speeches like that? Losing that video hurt--a lot. Giuliani's speech ending up in prime time hurt--a lot. Sure, they'll probably come out of this tied or close to it in the polls--which is normal for a convention--but why they continue to think this country wants bitterness and sarcasm is beyond me. Do they really think people don't know who has been in charge during the last eight years? The culture of Washington that they are attacking is something they've never taken the time to distance themselves from. Having a bunch of cowboy hat waving whities chanting, "Drill, baby, drill," on national television is a disaster no matter how well spoken the speaker is.
Suddenly, that quote from McCain's campaign manager that "This race is not about issues." is massively important. I'm no expert, but if McCain thinks they are going to win a personality contest with a modern, massively popular candidate they're out of their minds. Let me help them out a little on this one:
Vaguely racially charged line mocking community organizing to (again) cowboy hat waving whities: Cheers, hat waving, hooting, hollering.
Vaguely racially charged line mocking community organizing to auto industry worker in Saginaw: Boredom, confusion, maybe resentment.
God help McCain if he busts out a line like that at a debate because Obama's response is so easy and could be delivered with such blistering condescension that it would be palpable. Here, let me take a stab at it:
"John, community organizing is what people do to lift up their communities, to help their fellow Americans, when they lose their jobs during Republican administrations. You can mock the work I did helping auto plant workers who'd lost their jobs to factories overseas, but I think if you asked any of those people I helped, or any of the people who were fed by neighborhood churches instead of FEMA after Hurricane Katrina, they'd tell you what I'm going to tell you right now: making a difference isn't about tearing people apart, it's about bringing them together. It's a lesson you and George W. Bush apparently haven't learned yet, but the Americans I've met across this country have."
That sentiment, if not the words, is a clear winner over McCain's position which seems to be asking the country to hate Obama more than they hate McCain. Maybe that worked against Kerry, but this is a very different candidate in a very different year. At some point the hat wavers go back to their McMansions in Texas and they're going to realize that actual voters looking for answers to their problems are the ones they've really been talking to and the only thing they've heard is, "He has no executive experience. He hates America. When is the elitist media going to treat us fairly? Am I right?"
Not this year.
Tough news day for the Republicans yesterday. I mean, we all know where they stand on dog/furniture/gay marriage.
(Okay, I'm officially done writing about politics unless it's revealed that Sarah Palin's husband once killed a polar bear with his hands. Until then, I'm back to writing about books, fantasy sports, and, occasionally, candy bars. You may now resume pitying me).
So after posting this about horrible mid-late 90s pop-rock which found its way into heavy rotation, sometimes even to this day, I figured I'd find and examine some other examples. I limited myself to things not on this A.V. Club list though there are some good ones there too.
"Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me)" - Blessid Union of Souls
There were a lot of options here--including a Tyson Bedford reference--but I've got to go with the following bizarrely uncertain passage wherein the singer seems to be under the impression that women would like him if he hung out with Steve Buscemi:
She likes me for me
Not because I hang with Leonardo
Or that guy who played in "Fargo"
I think his name is Steve
"How Do I Deal" - Jennifer Love Hewitt
This song may not have been popular anywhere else, but they played it incessantly in the town I went to high school, even 10 years after the song came out. Anyway, this song is off the I Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack and it's fun to imagine that instead of singing to some generic boy, she's actually singing to the killer. To me, that's the only logical choice:
What the hell I have to do
How do I deal with you (How do I deal with you)
How do I deal with me (How do I deal with me)
When I don't even know myself
Or what it is you want from me
Um, Jennifer, he wants you to die. You're the one who's making it difficult.
"Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" - Nine Days
Tough to say, but I think the song shows its true colors when in the middle of an otherwise pro-this girl ditty the singer becomes an asshole boyfriend for a few lines:
Now how many lovers would stay
Just to put up with this shit
day after day
Now how did we wind up this way
Oh, I get it, this is about your guilt. Gotcha.
"You Wanted More" - Tonic
After many attempts to define the word love, our lyricist gives up:
I gotta pick me up when I am down
I gotta get my feet back on the ground
I gotta pick me up when I am down
I just hope the lead singer was able to put working as a janitor in this video as experience on his resume. (Okay, that was too mean. I have a soft spot for Tonic for reasons I've never cared to explore).
"Something's Always Wrong" - Toad the Wet Sprocket
This song features indecipherable verses which culminate abruptly in very trite thoughts:
It seems we meet
In the spaces
We always say
It won't be long
But something's always wrong
Bonus points should be given for this band name leading to one of my favorite Futurama jokes. Bored, exasperated Lela, "This Toads the Wet Sprocket." Ouch.
Everything You Want - Vertical Horizon
I'm not even going to look. I'm under the impression this song gives people cancer.
"I'll Be" - Edwin McCain
Again, I just can't do it. My guess is the best lyric is whatever one made you play this during the father-daughter dance at your wedding.
"Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" - Paula Cole
Seeing as how this song has a sarcastic, feminist message that America chose to ignore, it's easy to take the lyrics at face value and find them funny:
Why don't you stay the evening
Kick back and watch the TV
And I'll fix a little something to eat
Oh I know your back hurts from working on the tractor
How do you take your coffee my sweet
I will raise the children if you pay all the bills
Also funny for featuring an odd performance from Paula Cole in the video. She actually looks worried most of the time like people aren't going to get it and her spot on the Lilith Fair is going to be in jeopardy.
"Hanging By a Moment" - Lifehouse. I have nothing to say about the song except to commend the lead singer's earnestness in the video. Well done. You could learn from him, Ms. Cole.
"Kryptonite" - Three Doors Down. Fun fact: I got sucked into watching the entire video when I went to find the link.
"Bitch" - Meredith Brooks. I did not get sucked into watching this little gem off of Satan's party mix.
"Missing" - Everything But The Girl. Okay, so this one is on that A.V. Club list, but I feel like it deserves to be mentioned twice.
"(Any song off of New Miserable Experience)" - The Gin Blossoms.
"Truly Madly Deeply" - Savage Garden. Any Savage Garden song would work just as well. I couldn't even make it through thirty seconds of this video. The lead singer just creeps the hell out of me. Plus, the horrible.
And I'm going to stop. I have now successfully avoided writing anything today. Hoozah!