31 March 2007


Monday is the start of the 2007 baseball season. I am both anxious and horrified. I love baseball, it is one of the true constants of my life, but I can't take a year like 2006. Or 2005. Or 2004 for that matter.

Your last three World Series champions:

2004: Boston Red Sox
2005: Chicago White Sox
2006: St. Louis Cardinals

I like Boston and have no problem that they finally won a title, but ever since the realization is that it is nothing more than a cruel reminder of what the Cubs haven't been able to do for the last Jeebus-Freakin'-Crisco 99 years.

Having the White Sox win in 2005 was agonizing, not so much because they won but because of the behavior of most of their fans (at least the ones I know) towards the likes of me. They were (and are) obnoxious, still more consumed with the misfortunes of the Cubs than the success of their own team.

The Cardinals winning last year? That was the worst. They are the only team that I root against every chance I get. They are the enemy( and I do hope you're reading this, General Turncoat).

Just writing those last few sentences has me thinking about a cabinet full of Pepto Bismol. I will write more about this coming season later. Let's end this with a Random 11:

(This is a blatant rip-off from here. I am not that original.)

1. "Radio Free Europe"-REM. So I guess it is just about impossible to get through this without a song from these guys. I was just reading earlier today that they are working on the 14th album. I can only come up with nine.

2. "Rock It (Prime Jive)"-Queen. I'd bet you've never heard this one before.

3. "Beautiful Day"-U2. So I guess it is just about impossible to get through this without a song from these guys.

4. "The Valley Road"-Bruce Hornsby and the Range. Whatever happened to these guys? They take up a significant part of th soundtrack from my late 1980s.

5. "Silver and Gold"-U2. This is not a remake of a Burl Ives tune from "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" though it would be a lot more interesting if it were. And it wouldn't be anywhere near my i-pod.

6. "City of Blinding Lights"-U2. Three out of the last four. What are the odds? I think this is one of their best songs ever.

7. "Sara"-Fleetwood Mac. This is actually not what came up first. I recognized the song before this as a repeat. I used to think that there was a stanza missing to this song whenever I heard it on the radio, the part where Stevie Nicks blurts out "in the sea of love..."

8. "Arc of a Diver"-Steve Winwood. Most lyrics that I can't understand of any song I own.

9. "Come Talk to Me"-Peter Gabriel. I can't think of anything to say.

10. "Accidents Will Happen"-Elvis Costello. I'm trying to recall the last time something happened to me that I could consider to be an accident. I'm drawing a blank. I smacked my left kneecap last week but I sort of deserved it.

11. "Walk On"-U2. The first one that came up was a repeat. I've got 554 songs on this thing, all by U2.

That was incredibly lame.

27 March 2007

The thrill is gone

It's been almost a full year since I have been really sick.  It was a Monday evening around eight o'clock last mid-April when I started to feel a bit "green" and by ten I was off on a rousing adventure lasting until morning which found me getting acquainted with several of the fixtures in one of our bathrooms.

The previous day we had been to a birthday party for a cousin who was turning one.  I later found out that half of the people who attended were either ill at the time of the party or became so soon afterwards.

So why I am reliving this?  Well, I recall the last thing that I ate before  the adventure began was a sandwich from a local chain that was just a block from school.  I had grown quite fond of the sandwiches they make and ate there two or three times per week, either after or in between class.

Perhaps you know where this is going.

What goes down must come up, they say (or at least I do) and it was ugly.  I will spare the details, but the aftermath has been that I have been unable to eat from this place since.  I barely even notice it when I walk by now.  Just thinking about this place makes me cringe.

Tonight I found out that my class was canceled as I was on the train about halfway into the city, so I turned around and called my wife, to see if she wanted anything special for dinner.

She fancied a sandwich.  From this place.  Which conveniently now has a location just a few blocks from our home.  So I went, and as I stood in line listening to some huge Bulgarian in front of me rant about the quality of his sandwich (which is another entry in itself) I decided it was time to try again.  I ordered a sandwich of my own.

I tried, but it ain't the same anymore.  The thrill is gone.  I can't eat anything from this place and not think about how ill I was that night.  All I could think about was what happened to me the last time I ate something from this place.

I could see having this reaction if it were the fault of this joint that I became ill in the first place, but it's not.  I had the exact same symptoms of twenty other people.  It was definitely something I caught at the party from the day before.

This has happened once before.  Thanksgiving 1997.  Someone, or something, at dinner wasn't right, and more than a few people paid the price.  For me, that didn't come until about five a.m. Saturday morning.

A friend and I had gone to see Boogie Nights the night before, and while some would argue that that particular film would make anybody toss their cookies, I didn't think it was all that bad.

But I can't watch it now.  If I stumble upon it on cable, I have to turn it off immediately.  If someone mentions it, I get a queasy feeling in my stomach.  Any remembrance of the film reminds me of what happened about ten hours after I saw it for the first time.  It's all I can think about now, just writing about it.  I remember yanking a fixture that holds a roll of toilet paper completely off the wall.  I've never heaved so much in my life-I could have lifted a car off of someone.

All this makes me wonder what could have possibly happened if I had sat down in front of the TV tonight as I attempted to eat my sandwich and flipped on HBO just as Don Cheadle walks into the donut shop.

22 March 2007

And I told myself I'd be asleep by eleven tonight

In memory of Larry "Bud" Melman (who did the best impersonation of Roy Orbison I have ever seen-you might not have, since he did it for only a month before Orbison died) I found this on YouTube (I don't have the patience to embed-it takes me so freakin' long). This is a perfect example of why I loved staying up until 11:30 all through my high school years. I miss the old days of Letterman.

Here's something else that has been making the rounds the last day or two as well: movie director David O. Russell going completely off on Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees. I heart meltdowns. Fair warning-this is actually pretty offensive; he calls her a lot of bad names. I give Tomlin credit for not taking off one of her shoes and bludgeoning him. I was never much of a fan of his movies (Flirting with the Disaster seems to be the best) and I can pretty much guarantee that I will be ignoring any of his future work.

I do wish that this had come out about eighteen months earlier. Last year when I was on the editorial staff of Oyez Review we received a fiction submission from Russell's wife. It was a horrible story. I wrote a very nice rejection letter. Had I seen this first, I would have written a much more interesting one.

I'll wrap this up with a Random 11. Remember, this is a blatant rip-off from here. It's OK because we have Iowa City in common. And we have reason to celebrate heavily tonight!

1. "Waiting on a Friend"-Rolling Stones. God I love this song. Whenever I hear it I wonder why life is not one big party. Aside from that, a very strange memory pops up as well: in the fall of 1981 my family took the plunge and got cable television. It was about fifty channels, and I think a third were public access message board types. One of them was for each city that the cable company served-they would scroll through in alphabetical order, and they'd play music in the background. I always heard this song played on that channel. I'd sneak into my parents bedroom (where the second box that changed the channels was located) and sit there watching this channel in the hopes of hearing some cool music until I'd be busted and kicked out of the room. Yeah, I had a radio, but I was a strange kid.

2. "Gasoline Alley"-Rod Stewart. This is from the "MTV Unplugged" collection. Yep, they used to play music on that channel. We're going for the sentimental touch this round. Every time I hear this song I want to learn how to play the mandolin. And yes, I'm typing in the exact rhythm of the song. So I have to babble about something until the song is over because I want to hear the rest. You know something else I would like to learn? How to speak Irish. OK, Rod is starting to whisper so he should be done by the time I finish this sentence. And he is.

3. "Champagne Supernova"-Oasis. This is what I enjoy most about the 'pod, that it can play three straight songs that make the hair on my arms stand up. I have to move on though, because this song tends to make me really depressed.

4. "Detox Mansion"-Warren Zevon. We're only 4/11 of the way but this has the potential to be the all-time Random 11. "I'm raking leaves with Liza" but really, who hasn't? I have to waste more time here, so may I present a few "lines of the day" from our recent road trip:

"There's something funky about the chicken."

"Can we go see the birds?" "No, there's a cop behind us."

"I'm smelling something-is it your feet?"

"That bagel made me uncomfortable."

"Next year, we're going to the beach."  OK, Warren's done.

5. "The Memory of Trees"-Enya. You probably have no idea what this is, and you're missing out. Trust me. Enya is the third-most featured artist on the 'pod. We are on a roll.

(I notice I am "addressing" readers a lot lately, as if I had more than twelve. Hello everybody!)

6. "Electrolite"-REM. We (that's a "royal" we, just to clarify, loyal subjects) follow with the second-most featured artist. The first time I heard this song was in a bookstore in Galway, Ireland on a rainy afternoon towards the end of my first solo trip to Eire. The hair on my arms is at attention again.

7. "Don't Be Cruel"-Elvis Presley. Eh. I must have felt obligated to have more than three Presley songs.

8. "Revolution Earth"-The B52's. I lost my Good Stuff CD a few years ago, which is unfortunate because I can think of at least four other songs from it that would be on the 'pod if it were still in my possession.

9. "Take Me Home"-Phil Collins. But we just met. THANK YOU!

10. "Ignoreland"-REM. Here's what I don't get about this song: it's got a great sound to it and powerful lyrics, yet they choose to muck it up by distorting Michael Stipe's voice. It sounds like he's singing this song underwater and it's completely unnecessary.  

11. "What's My Scene"-Hoodoo Gurus. I heard this song once sometime in the 80s (I think) and didn't hear it a second time until this past October when I was on my way to pick up a pizza. Thank you satellite radio. I sometimes obsess about things like that; when I hear a song that I completely forgot ever existed I get caught up in exactly how long it has been since I last heard it. Last week while we were gone a friend of mine watched the house for us and I offered him use of our other car. Yesterday I noticed that he left a CD in the player and almost every one of the seventeen songs on it ('twas a mix) was a wayback song that I forgot ever existed. Most were from the two year period of my life where I worked full-time after graduating high school before going to college when I'd be forced to listen to "easy listening" radio for eight hours per day. I was amazed that I still knew a majority of the lyrics.

And we're done. Really, why isn't life one big party?

21 March 2007

Why are we so quiet?

Yesterday I attended a reading downtown as part of a class. Instead of a normal classroom we met in a gallery. During the reading I was distracted by the photographic exhibit ringing the walls of the room. Each picture was hung at eye-level, approximately 16" X 20" and displayed Iraqi citizens who have been permanently maimed by the war. After the reading was complete, I spent some time looking at every single photograph. Most were difficult to look at.

I wavered about this. There is certainly no proof that every one of these people were innocent victims, nor is there proof that they were injured by American weapons. Still, it is apparent that the war has affected the lives of millions of people who live there. Those who support the war will trot out the defense of our actions, tossing out numbers of people killed by a brutal dictator. I don't doubt the brutality of the previous regime, but I do not remember hearing about how he killed Americans, nor how he caused the deaths of Americans in our country.

It's a sad fact that there is an unimaginable amount of evil in this world, and I wonder why we are so selective in going after it. If we are going to rescue those who are oppressed by tyrants who hold little regard for the people they rule over then why haven't we deposed Km Jung Il in North Korea? Why is Robert Mugabe still the president of Zimbabwe? People are starving in those countries because their "leader" would rather spend their money elsewhere.

Yesterday, the day that I stumbled upon this photography exhibit, also happened to be the fourth anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. I remember it well; I was in a hotel room in San Diego, insisting to my three golfing buddies that I hated the idea that the US was initiating a war against a country that had not attacked us. I've been against this action from the start. I think I've made that pretty clear in prior missives. I realize that it is hip to be against this war now. I was against it when being against it wasn't cool.

I take no pride in essentially thumbing my nose towards our Worst. President. Ever. and realizing that I was right. I would have preferred that he saw it for himself. Anyway, as I made my way home last night I could not stop thinking about how it was four years ago, when a cocky administration assured us that it would be weeks, not months, to get the job done and that when we did, the entire world would look towards the United States with respect and admiration.

They could not have been more wrong.

To be anti-war is not to be anti-troops nor anti-victory. I am forever done reading the words of and listening to pundits who insist that because I do not support this Worst. President. Ever.'s war that I am uncaring towards the plight of the American soldiers who have been shoved into its arena. Bull. I care because they are somewhere that they should not be. I care because more are being killed every day for a cause that has no justification. I realize that no one is forced to be a soldier and that every single person who has joined the armed forces is braver than I am. That's why I want to see them out of there. Let them come home to where they belong and become the people they deserve to be here; let them be teachers, lawmen, doctors, parents, etc. instead of corpses.

Recently both John McCain and Barack Obama got themselves into a bit of an embarrassing situation because they referred to the dead soldiers lives as "wasted." Each backtracked and apologized, claiming that they mis-spoke. They did not.

These lives have been "wasted." They were never a "waste." They have been wasted by the insistence of our Worst. President. Ever. that we must be in Iraq and "spread freedom" or as the rest of the world refers to it "initiate a Civil War."

Our Worst. President. Ever. has wasted these lives and should be held accountable for it. According to most media agencies (gasp-even Fox), two-thirds of the people in this country do not approve of this war. That's 67%. When I was a working man if two-thirds of the people who rated my performance did not think I was doing it right I would have been fired. And I would have deserved it.

It's too late to fire our Worst. President. Ever. He should have been fired in November 2004. As a nation we should have watched him clean out his desk and escort him to the door on January 20, 2005. I will never understand how such an incompetent "leader" got elected to a second term.

About three hours after I got home last night I came across this column on the Chicago Tribune web site, and it was printed in the Tuesday issue. It made me angry. It made me sad. And yes, it made me cry. I cannot imagine the level of heartbreak that this family feels, nor can I imagine the rage they feel when they see our Worst. President. Ever. on television pontificating that he has always been right, that he will always be right.

Read the article. If it does not affect you in any way, I suggest you go to the ER and see if perhaps you died some time ago. Whether you are for or against this war, this article screams one word: incompetence.

People are dying because of incompetence. People are dying because of arrogance. It's clear to me that this will continue until at least January 20, 2009, (a day that I look forward to as much as any day I can remember) when the reign of our Worst. President. Ever. ends. By that time there nay be as many as four thousand American soldiers dead in Iraq. And who knows how many civilian deaths there will be by then. I realize all civilian deaths since the first months of the war have been caused by Iraqi insurgents but because these deaths would not have occurred had our Worst. President. Ever. resisted getting in over his head he must be held partially responsible.

Lives are being wasted. Roughly two hundred million people who live here do not approve of the actions that are causing this, yet it is so quiet. Why? Why are we so quiet?

The column expresses my thoughts about this better than I could ever explain them here. Go, read it, and tell others about it. Speak up. Do something other than shake your head. Enough is enough.

The first comment after the column is mine. It says this:

"My heart breaks for every single one of the 3000+ American soldiers who have died in this senseless, ego-driven war, and for their families as well. Mr. Landeck should be proud of what he has written. He speaks for the millions of Americans who know that the blood of so many will never wash off George's hands.

Here's hoping Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and every other neo-con member of this administration live a long time so that they may be continually tortured by the legacy of their incompetence. And may they also live in perpetual terror of the judgment they will receive on the day each of them leaves this world."

I am screaming. You do the same. Please.

18 March 2007

The eagles have landed

Rolled to a stop is more like it, since we drove instead of flew. After Flagstaff we spent two days in Santa Fe and I would have updated from there but for technical obstacles. One should not advertise having wireless Internet throughout their inn when it is only available in a corner of the lobby and the common breakfast area. It's amazing now that just about everyone has wireless and it's not something to even market anymore. Which reminds me-how does Starbucks get away with charging people for Internet use in their stores?

The last day in Flagstaff brought the most, shall we say, unneighborly moment of the trip. During the day we drove up to the Lowell Observatory, a short drive up a twisting hillside, and stopped at the entrance where you can look down at the town and see everything for miles. I decided that I would go back there at night with my binoculars and spend some time looking at the night sky. I went around 8:30 an parked on the slope of the hill that faced the city. There were three or four other cars there but I saw no one else outside, which should have told me something about this place.

So I got out and leaned against the trunk of the car, staring up into the most perfect sky I have ever seen. With my binoculars I got fantastic views of stars that I hadn't really seen before; I saw the Pleiades Cluster for the first time as something other than a milky haze. It was incredible. 

About fifteen minutes after I arrived the car behind me started and its headlights went on. Almost immediately both front doors opened and I was approached from two gentlemen from the area, who wanted to know why I was taking pictures of them in their car. I said that I wasn't, that I did not have a camera and that I was looking at the stars. Then I was asked why I was trying to look close up at what was going on inside the car, and again I told them I wasn't. I also told them that binoculars don't let you see anything that isn't already illuminated. Apparently thiswas a bad thing to say, and these two gentlemen (who were from the "barrio" if I may be so bold), who were younger and much taller than me, suggested that I shove my binoculars some place where it would take me a while to extract them, and probably not without the help of a surgeon. They also invited me to leave. I took them up on the offer (to leave, not to become intimate with the binoculars, of course).

When I got back to our hotel room and told my wife what had happened I said that there were two girls in the car as well but in hindsight I have no idea if there was anybody else. I heard and saw nothing.

Santa Fe was very nice. I love the look of the city. Everything is adobe-homes, store fronts, banks, school, etc. We spent an extremely laid back day and a half there just roaming the small downtown plaza and looking at a few schools. I had visited once before, in 2004, and I was looking forward to Kristen seeing St. Francis Cathedral. When I visited the church on a Saturday afternoon in January I found it to be one of the most peaceful churches I have ever been in; there was choral music playing softly through the speakers, sunshine illuminating the stained glass windows, and almost no one else in the building.

When we went there Thursday afternoon around 2 PM, they were vacuuming. Loudly. It's still a beautiful place, but the spiritual peace that comes from the sanctuary of a house of worship gets lost when it sounds like you're watching the last events of the Hoover Olympics.

But that did not ruin Santa Fe, which would be second on my list of relocation preferences (behind Durango and in front of Boulder) and third, I believe, on Kristen's (she favors Boulder first, then Durango). The leading factor is job opportunity obviously; we will wind up going where the job offers are, and not for some time anyway.

We drove from Santa Fe to Kansas City Friday where we stayed with some friends before driving the rest of the way home Saturday. I searched for seven hours and never found any radio station playing Irish music, so cross northwest Missouri, all of central Iowa and western Illinois from the authentic St. Patrick's experience tour.

'Twas a good trip, but 'tis nice to be home. The last few days of heavy road-tripping wipe me out. I'm still beat. Kristen and I did not try to kill each other. Aside from the mountain drive Sunday and my astronomical encounter with Heckle and Jeckle Thursday night, everything went smoothly.  We skipped the Grand Canyon Tuesday because we decided we needed a day without hours of driving. I'll get her there eventually.



13 March 2007

Merrily we roll along

Points of interest these last few days:

1. Turns out our drive out of Denver Saturday will not be the most eventful of this trip. The drive from Glenwood Springs to Durango on Sunday was a lot more thrilling and immensely more terrifying. We drove through three separate mountain passes, each one over ten thousand feet. The roads snake all over the place. Guard rails which would keep a car from going off a cliff pretty much don't exist, and I've never seen so much snow clinging to things or bubbling off the slopes. I see how avalanches happen now. Kristen is not fond of heights and had I known how intense the drive was I would have found a different route. She did well not to come completely undone, bless her, because if I had a problem with heights and I would have died about halfway up the first pass. She fell asleep after the second one (at first I thought she passed out) and missed the highest of them all. My fingers still hurt from gripping the steering wheel.

It was the most exhilarating car ride of my life. It was also the scariest. There were times I had to remember to breathe. Some will say that I am exaggerating this for effect. I assure you I am not. There's no way I am ever doing that again.

2. I have now been pulled over twice for speeding and only been warned both times. Today's adventure was in the middle of nowhere and I have no idea how fast I was going. There wasn't a shoulder on this road so I had to pull over into a field in the desert, which I am sure did wonders for the underside of the car, but I have no one to blame for myself. I thought I was going to get a ticket for sure. The Arizona trooper refuted almost every answer I gave to his questions and then went off on an odd ramble about how there "are a lot of drunks on this road, even drunks lying in the road." O-K. When he came back from writing me up he told me to slow down and then suggested to Kristen that she "nag" me into driving slower. In his words "the nagging will be worse than any ticket I could give you."

Arizona: perpetuating gender stereotypes since 1912! I set the cruise control for 68 and it felt like we crawled the rest of the way to Flagstaff. I got passed by grandpas, school buses and a horses' ass (literally, as that was the side of said animal in the back of the trailer facing me as it went by).

3. Flagstaff, Arizona has the strangest street lighting I've ever seen. Nothing higher than twenty feet off the ground is illuminated. It's like there is a lid over this town. I figured out why just a few minutes ago: Lowell Observatory. You can't see much of the night sky if you are polluting it with light. You can walk out into the middle of the busiest street here and see more stars in the sky than anywhere within thirty miles from downtown Chicago (not over the lake). It makes for a creepy nighttime experience here, but I like it. I am going to try to get to the observatory tomorrow night.

We'll be here for the next two nights and then it's off to Santa Fe. I don't think I am going to handle being back in the plains well at all.

11 March 2007

Well that was interesting indeed

Day one of the road trip was uneventful, which is what one wants when one is driving from Chicago to Cheyenne, Wyoming (which you can have, thanks). Three "highlights": an interesting lunch at a Cracker Barrel in Omaha (average age of the wait staff: 246); seeing what we thoughts were black clouds on the horizon but realizing as we drove closer that they were actually birds (Tippie Hedren, call your agent); and getting pulled over by one of the Cornhusker State's finest for going 83 MPH in a 75 zone (with just a warning, thank you).

Nebraska smells. But then you knew that.

Day two? A lot more interesting. First, a visit to Fort Collins, Colorado and a stroll through the campus of Colorado State University. Should any of their fine administrators be reading this, you could probably spring for a couple hundred gallons of paint. It'd spruce up the joint a little bit.

Next, off to Boulder and The University of Colorado, which is the complete opposite of its scholarly neighbor to the north. What a beautiful campus. Spent some time scoping out their English department (one needs a job eventually when one's education is finally finished) and then checked out the rest of the city. Seems like everyone has a mountain in their backyard. Not all was super-Boulder real estate is a lot like Chicago's.

And this is where the fun really starts: we then drove to Denver, where we almost got killed on I-25 by someone who decided to take a rest in the left lane. I guess old Cadillacs get tired too. After driving past all of the major sports venues (required) we wasted some time downtown before heading off to the fine town of Glenwood Springs, which should have been a two hour drive on Westbound 70.

It was five. Winter's not quite finished up in the "High Country" and to get to GS required an up-and-down drive through the Rockies. It's a drive that I've made before, and it's stunning. There is no way to adequately describe the scenery-it has to be seen to be appreciated. I had left enough daylight in our Saturday to make sure that my wife would see everything as we rolled through the Rockies.

Didn't happen. As the sun slipped behind the crags and peaks, we were in the midst of an hour and a half full stop on the road thanks to the jackknife of a semi-trailer somewhere near the top of the world. It had snowed for most of the day and the roads were tricky, and perhaps Mr. Truck Driver didn't heed the warnings.

By the time we reached Vail we were at an elevation (which I kept saying as "evelation" in conversation) were snow wasn't a factor anymore and the roads were in great shape. The rest of the drive was bends and curves through valleys of rocks breathing down on you from both sides. Would have been fascinating in the daylight. It was terrifying at night because every single semi that had been stuck with us decided to make up some time and blow past us going about 80. I saw at least five trucks take curves at speeds that made their entire rigs tip left and then right. How they stayed up is beyond me.

Five hours after we left Denver we were here. I started writing this last night and thought I lost it when my computer spontaneously shut down, but thanks to the most recent Mozilla Firefox install, it magically reappeared this morning. So this day has started well. We are off to Durango, a long drive through the mountains.

Till next time...

08 March 2007

Random 11 early

Tomorrow, my two favorite words in the world, at least when used together:


Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico in ten days. And this time I am bringing my wife. This will either be the greatest RT ever or, well let's not even think about it...

(Remember, this is a blatant rip-off from here)

1. "Kiss That Frog"-Peter Gabriel. As songs about fairy tales go this one is pretty good. I could go for another PG live show again before I die. Last one I saw was in '94 and led to one of the more over used lines of my life that I have neither the nerve nor the temerity to reproduce here.

2. "Arc of a Diver"-Steve Winwood. This man got me through the bizarre first two weeks of my freshman year of college so I will always have a spot for him on any random list. The experience takes way too long to tell so here's a snippet: I was the most athletic person on the entire floor of the dorm I lived on, and it wasn't even close. I am not athletic.

3. "Excitable Boy"-Warren Zevon. I think this was the first song I ever heard on the radio that made me think "Hmm, I might get in trouble for listening to this if Mom walks in." But what this song reminds me of is zooming through the Sierra Nevadas on I-80 on a Sunday afternoon in June. This song came on just at a point where I felt like I was driving on top of the world. Anytime I go over a speed limit I think of this song.

4. "Where It's At"-Beck. It blows me away that this is only the fourth best song on "Odelay", which is probably the greatest album of all-time.

5. "Elevation"-U2. You know what I hate about this song? How Bono absolutely ruins Edge's awesome guitar riff at the beginning with his repeated "Woo Hoo"'s. It's always all about him isn't it?

6. "Minutes to Memories"-John $ellin'camp. Still haven't purged his stuff from the 'pod.

7. "Handle With Care"-The Traveling Wilburys. How can I be forced to live in a world where this group can never record again? "I'm so tired of bein' lonely, I still have some love to give..." Too bad there is no falsetto font.

8. "ROCK in the USA"-John $ellin'camp. I don't believe this.

9. "A Sort of Homecoming"-U2. And in the flip-flopper files go this: I love it when Bono screams halfway through this song, like he's trying to puke up a Volvo.

10. "Heartbeat City"-The Cars. I'll never understand why their music wasn't more popular with the ladies. I suppose it could have been me...

11. "Breath After Breath"-Duran Duran. And we end with a song that reminds me (n Portuguese, no less) of one of the more painful times of my life. I guess it's no fun to read this stuff unless I go into detail huh?

And so to the road!

02 March 2007

Random 11

(Take two. Somehow I managed to obliterate the first one)

Five entries in a week? Who am I and what have I done with me?

This is a blatant rip-off from here. His blog is hysterical.

1. "Signs of Love"-Moby. Seems like there's no in between with Moby. Everyone I know either loves him or hates him. I guess you know which side I fall on. Contrary to popular belief, it is not because he looks like my brother.

2. "On Your Shore"-Enya. Goin' a little but mellow tonight. Enya tends to calm me down, which has been a big help on the CTA Blue Line lately. How Chicago can be considered a world-class city when it has a Pony Express-like transit system is beyond me. Have fun with those Olympics y'all! MEOW!!!

3. "Come Monday"-Jimmy Buffet. More mellowness. I may be asleep by # 6. This is one of those songs that I heard a thousand times without knowing who the artist was and then being blown away when I found out who. This sounds like nothing else Buffet has ever done.

4. "7 Chinese Brothers"-REM. The only thing I can get from this is that they all drown in the ocean at the end. The last stanza has "Communist" in it, and I don't know why.

5. "Again"-Lenny Kravitz. I have a theory that this song is about Kravitz and that he is singing it to himself. Listen to the lyrics and tell me that I'm wrong. Or just take my word for it.

6. "Saving My Heart"-Yes. In the first version of this number one was a song called "Wondrous Stories" which triggered a long rant about how Yes is one of the more under-rated groups that came from the 70s. They are not under-rated when one considers their 90s stuff.

7. "Crystal Wrists"-Peter Murphy. I really, really, really, really like this song. I really, really, really, really, don't know why. Maybe it's because he talks about chewing his cheeks.

8."Lithium"-Nirvana. "YEEEEAAAAHHHHH! YEEEEAAAAHHHH YEAH!" I remember coming across my nephew screaming this song when he was 15 or so and thinking "here it comes!"

9. "High Fidelity"-Elvis Costello. This was the best song ever to be used at the end of an episode of "The Sopranos."

10. "Jacksons, Monk, and Rowe"-Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet. I think it's about a law firm that handles divorce. His voice sounds surprisingly good accompanied by a string quartet. You know, in case you were saying to yourself "I wonder how Elvis Costello's voice sounds with a string quartet." You have your answer.

11. "Cherry Bomb"-John Cougar Sellin'camp. I keep forgetting that I have promised to purge all Sellin'camp from my 'pod in the wake of those ridiculous "this is our country" commercials he did for Chevrolet. I recall a young punk ditching the "Cougar" from his name and vowing that he'd never do music for commercials and ripping anybody who even thought about it. Argh.

David Caruso has to wait. Damn.


Welcome to "Stiff the Old Dude" Week

Apparently, it's a really bad idea to be a man over the age of 65 and be up for an honor this week.

While still smarting that 74-year old Peter O'Toole did not win an Oscar for the eighth consecutive time Sunday, I heard Tuesday afternoon that Ron Santo was denied entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the one billionth time. Or so it seems. Santo spent fifteen years on the regular ballot, and I'd wager he's been up for consideration by the Veterans Committee many times since, so I don't think that it is a stretch to say that Santo is now at least oh-for-twenty. (UPDATE: Santo is now 0 for 18; I looked it up)

I went ballistic over this two years ago and vowed not to return to the lovely enclave of Cooperstown, New York until Santo was voted in. As it turns out, I didn't have much of a chance to go there anyway, but I'll make the same vow: it'll be a cold day in Aruba before I visit the baseball HOF again, because I am just about convinced that Ron Santo will never get in.

Here's what I don't get: no position is more thinly represented in the Hall of Fame than third baseman; I believe that there are only thirteen. I can name a few off the top of my head, players that deserve to be there-Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Eddie Matthews.

All of them were phenomenal players. The Hall of Fame is full of them. And none of them holds a candle to the type of man that Ron Santo is. This goes well beyond playing statistics, though if you compare the average season of third baseman enshrined, Santo's numbers compare favorably. One of the "strikes" against him is that he doesn't have one of those magic numbers in his stats: 3000 hits, 500 home runs.

And (of course) since he was a Cub for 13 years and played his entire 14 year career in Chicago, he never won a World Series.

Santo only played fourteen years. He was out of the game shortly after he turned 35. Brooks Robinson played for 23 years. Mike Schmidt played until he was 40. Santo walked away because he knew his skills were diminishing and that he'd be a liability instead of an asset on any ball club. Who does that today? How many players hang on for years because they still think they can play? Look at Barry Bonds-the guy can barely run anymore and should have hung it up last year, but he's only 22 home runs away from breaking Hank Aaron's all time record. He might reach that this year. If not, I'm sure we'll see him next year.

There was a time when Bonds would have hit 22 home runs by the end of May.

Ron Santo has done something that as far as I am aware of only one other player has done in the Major Leagues: played as a juvenile diabetic. I am sure I could be wrong, but the only other person I have ever heard of having diabetes and playing baseball was a pitcher named Bill Gullickson in the late 70s and early 80s. Santo's body started betraying him when he was a teenager yet he managed to put up strong offensive and defensive number for most of his career. When his body said "enough" he walked away.

Of course had he stayed in the game and found an American League team that would let him DH for a couple of seasons, he probably would have collected enough hits, home runs and RBI to get into the Hall of Fame.

He gets penalized for doing the right thing.

Santo has had both of his legs amputated just below the knee. He's had heart problems and bouts with cancer. He's 67 and he has already outlived his expectancy.

What are the veterans thinking?

There's precedent for putting players who had their careers cut short by injury in the Hall of Fame. Kirby Puckett played ten seasons before he was forced to retire with glaucoma. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first try (and deservedly so). Sandy Koufax pitched less than eight years before arthritis forced him from the game before he was 30. He's in the Hall of Fame.

Kirby Puckett died last year. Could you imagine the outcry if he had been denied entrance to the Hall of Fame before his death?

I am not advocating that Ron Santo be elected to the Hall of Fame solely because he played as a diabetic and is a multiple amputee; the guy has the numbers to be in. What I cannot understand is how the veterans can keep denying him. He's going to get in eventually. If he dies before then, it'll be a damn shame. He should have been in twenty years ago.

What a week this could have been: Peter O'Toole finally wins an Oscar at 74 and Ron Santo finally gets into the Hall of Fame at 67.

Instead all we get is a reminder that the(ir) clock is ticking.