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November 2001 Archives
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As the opening of the first installment of The Lord of the Rings, specifically The Fellowship of the Ring draws closer, I'm reminded of the fanaticism towards this work. Heck, even I drink from the Gandalf glass from Burger King. When it was time turn to pick a book for Knossos, I chose the religious satire Towing Jehovah by James Morrow rather than the Tolkein satire Grunts by Mary Gentle. I figured I would make fewer enemies with a book that made fun of God than one that made fun of Tolkein.
We got our picture taken with the Chairman Harvey Pitt. The Capital Markets Award was in relation to getting the securities industry back on its feet after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
On Interstate 270 in the HOV lane, a Ride On bus running the #70 Bethesda-to-Germantown express persistently flashed its highbeams in my rear view mirror. Now I realize I was only going 50-60 miles an hour. But the lanes to my right were happy to be doing 15. I was looking out for any of those slow movers slipping into my lane unexpectedly. So despite the the annoying flashes of this jerk of a bus driver, a kept on my steady pace alert for lane changers.
A vintage of picture of Bud Selig. It was the last time he showed any balls in public.
We finished watching The Feast of All Saints last night. Funny how Anne Rice begs for sequels. I wondered how these, frequently slave-holding, mixed race people dealt with the Civil War. As dark slave-owners, they belonged neither to the whites, nor to the slaves. In my mind, that's the story I wanted told.
Slate has an article by Glenn Gaslin on Ralph Bakshi's animated version of The Lord of the Rings from 1978. I would put Baskhi's Lord of the Rings alongside David Lynch's Dune as magnificent failures. They made the first mistake of shortening an epic to a two-hour movie. However, they tried real hard with soaring moments of stylistic magnificence. Coherence may have suffered, but these efforts deserve some praise, especially when compared with most of the dreck produced by Hollywood these days.
Those darned Chesapeake Indigeneous Persons won their fifth in a row after losing five in a row. They succeed largely with no turnovers and a passably stingy defense.
A hailstorm hit today, scattering the little ice pellets all over our welcome mat. I finished putting up our Christmas tree. One can only appreciate the decorations from across the street. Although our light-up tree-topper faces the inside, you can still see its lights from the outside. Most of the other windows have a single candle in them.
Did some grocery shopping this morning. Most of the rest of the day spent working on Christmas cards.
Surprised Whitlock with a tape of The Feast of All Saints. The original Anne Rice novel is one of her favorite books. We haven't finished watching it yet. My initial reaction is that Bianca Lawson can't hold an accent. As Kendra the Vampire on Buffy the Vampire Slayer she concocted something that sounded either African or Caribbean depending on the wind. This time, it's either a bad French accent or a bad Southern belle.
Colorado flattened Nebraska, leaving the Rose Bowl wide open. Maryland might play Oklahoma or Nebraska in the Orange Bowl now.
Received notice that I, and several of my co-workers, won an official award in the area of capital markets improvement.
Angel tried for some symmetry. Angel "died," became a vampire, in an alley, at Darla's hand. He lost his soul in the rain on Buffy. Angel's child is born in an alley in the rain, at Darla's hand.
Saw the end of Packers-Lions game. Mike McMahon led the Lions on a comeback that almost made him this year's version of Clint Longley. I still believe some team, asleep at the switch later this season, will allow the Lions at least one victory.
This year we hosted the Thanksgiving dinner for my mother-in-law and brother-in-law. My parents and sister were in Rehoboth with my sister's in-laws. Viola made pumpkin pie for Miranda. Mary cooked cream spinach spaghetti and turkey fried rice. I did the mixing of both and some chopping of the turkey.
Amy was de-ratted on Buffy this week. I wonder if it means she already knew about Dawn.
Brigid Brannagh or Brigid Conley Walsh met her demise on CSI as Tammy Felton or Melissa Marlowe with a strangling at the hands of her lover and an unceremonious dumping in the trunk of a car. This actress also portrayed Virginia Bryce (only) on Angel. Mary didn't like her very much, but I liked Virginia because she left open the possibility that Wesley might have a normal relationship and leave the show. No one has normal relationships in the Whedon universe.
Ichiro won the MVP yesterday. I didn't have him in my October candidates. Though Rob Neyer would have selected Giambi, he accepts it as worthy. I just don't see it. But lets move on to those who would deny Ichiro the Rookie of the Year Award because he's not really a rookie. If he's not really a rookie, because the Japanese Leagues are equivalent to the majors, then you must allow Saduharu Oh in the Hall of Fame. I believe his 868 homers translate to a bit more than 500 major league round-trippers. If you think Japanese baseball is better than that, then there's no keeping Oh out.
Also, Jesse "The Governor" Ventura, in lashing out at MLB for contracting the Twins, railed at the signing of Andruw Jones to a $75m contract. "But he only hit .250 and was rewarded with a $75 million contract. Can you imagine what Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva are thinking? You're going to pay a .250 hitter $75 million? Doesn't that tell you something's wrong with the league?" Well governor, you're an actor and a libertarian, but not a baseball expert. Killebrew was a career .256 hitter. So far, Andruw's career batting average is .268, so he's actually better than Killebrew in that category. I can comfortably say that Andruw Jones, barring injury, has already surpassed Tony Oliva and Kirby Puckett, and is probably in the neighborhood of Joe DImaggio and Ken Griffey, Jr. So I think Andruw is worth every penny and he's not even 25 yet.
It's Sean Young's 42nd birthday.
On Fox Sunday, and on SportsTalk980 today, Darrell Green told the story of explaining to Marty Shottenheimer what he was doing wrong with the team. Like the good citizen and loyalist he is, Green waited for the Persons to sink into a quagmire and for the coach to ask his advice before giving it. Maybe Marty is stubborn and perhaps so are all football coaches. But it seems to me that your subordinates are duty-bound to warn of impending disasters you are too blind to see. Yet Darrell played the false soldier, who puts his pride and the satisfaction of someone else's failure above the good of the team. I understand Cal Ripken was similar, sabotaging with silence the managers he did not respect, such as Phil Regan and Ray Miller.
Green and Ripken are the Chesapeake Basin sports role models. They don't over-indulge in mind-altering substances, recklessly leave their sperm in strange women, and they also give generously back to the community. But these are heroes are more than just human, they're petty.
A revealing comment from Timmer in the Selig and MLB's "voodoo" economics thread on the Business of Baseball forum at baseballboards.com: "None of this would have happened if Bud Selig were alive."
Rode the Metro down to Pentagon City which involved passing over the Potomac with a Southeast view of the Pentagon. The other side was the one hit and the only evidence from that angle is a crane. Lids in Pentagon City sold FDNY and NYPD hats but none for Arlington County fire and rescue units. On the way home Metro announced that the Medical Center station was closed, but the time my train came through, the station functioned normally.
Got up around 4:15 to watch the Leonid meteor shower. The Leonid Flux Estimator predicted a rate of 2,000 meteors per hour from my suburban location. After a late night and cold weather, one needs some persuasion to venture outside on such a night. I turned out the lights in our upstairs hallway and looked out our arch window. Within a minute, a meteor flashed by. That convinced me to bundle up and head out. I spent most of the time perched on our entrance landing, by the pumpkins.
I was out about an hour and saw about a dozen meteors. The cold sent me back inside twice during that time. Watching a shower, meteors appear and disappear so quickly, you wonder whether your imagination manufactured the image. Unfortunately, when the meteors were supposed to peak at 5:00, clouds moved in and I couldn't even see the Big Dipper. Still, those were more meteors than I had seen in my lifetime before this morning.
Took our pumpkins out to the park behind our house. I'm counting on bugs and microbes to decay them. If they aren't successful, I'll break them up. I also got 27 holiday cards printed. I'm planning to mail them on Friday so that everyone knows our new address before they send their own cards. Had dinner at Old Shanghai with my parents. They got Miranda a stamp with her name on it and an Irish rag doll. Miranda asked me for the doll's full name. I christened her Colleen O'Hare.
The Indigenous People won again, this time beating the Broncos. This football team is like a running gag, perhaps after the events of September 11. Before, the Indigenous People lost games hilariously, now they win games the same way. They lack talent, but manage victories on the slim planks of Steven Davis rushing, decent though unspectacular defense anchored by Lavar Arrington, and lack of interceptions thrown by Tony Banks, now Kent Graham. Meanwhile, the Ravens up the road, lose despite a more talented defense and a more talented, though interception-prone quarterback. Next week it's the Eagles. We'll see if Washington is for real.
I went to Montgomery Community Television's 16th Annual Monty Awards. Silver Screen Test came home empty-handed, but the program prgressed briskly. Brief entertaining clips were shown of the winning-entries. Two-time Silver Screen Test director Larry Sheingorn won the public service announcement award for an anti-smoking spot called "Got a Light". The audience loved the ending where the title referred to a candle at the funeral. Mary and I sat with Pam Mandel who handled scoreboard for Silver Screen Test and tried a pilot for a radio quiz show back when we were in college.
The Maryland football team escaped Raleigh by the skin of their teeth. The Orange Bowl cares only about the victory and the ACC Title. Marylanders are more likely to go to Miami for New Year's.
Mary went to work today on casual Friday in a Tony Siragusa jersey. At least one person said,"Tony! You've lost weight."
About this week's Buffy. It was a cute gag two weeks ago when demons played cards for kittens. But this week a loan shark with, literally, a shark's head, shakes down Spike for the kittens he owes. The second mention makes you think about it and the economics make no sense. If demons actually demanded kittens for whatever unspeakable acts they performed on them, someone, demon or human, would raise truckloads of kittens just for this specific purpose. Just go to your local animal shelter and you'll know why we need this stamp.
The baseball section of espn.com has a section highlighting The New Bill James Historical Abstract. Eric Neel has an interesting article explaining the influence Bill James has had, not just on those writing on baseball, but on writers in general. I once answered on the Locus survey that he was the one author whose works I would have with me on a desert island. The baseball journalism establishment paints him as a number-spouting robot, but it's his writing that makes him special. Many others have done better statistical analysis and crunched more numbers, and those works sound just as exciting as the previous clause. James brings a straightforward curmudgeonly Midwestern attitude to his writing. You may not always agree with him, but you cannot fault the honesty and clarity.
Let me give you two examples.
In 1985, the Pittsburgh Pirates, under the skippership of Chuck Tanner was floundering under the cloud of cocaine-related revelations. Heck, even the Parrot was dealing drugs. Through it all, Chuck put forth the same positive attitude for which he was famous. This is great when dealing with a losing streak, when the team is slipping out of control it looks like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. James succinctly characterized it,"As people get older, they become parodies of themselves." As I've grown older, I've found this to be true. Now I carefully watch myself when slip into such a rut. I can just picture myself at age 85 still blogging away.
The other story concerned Earl Weaver and Steve Dalkowski. Dalkowski, the real model for Nuke Laloosh from Bull Durham was managed by Weaver in the minor leagues. Weaver gave his players IQ tests and discovered Dalkowski's to be pretty low. So Weaver told him to do just two things: throw the fastball and the slider. Don't worry about the runners. Don't worry about other pitches. Don't worry about where you have to throw to on the bunt. Dalkowski's mind just couldn't absorb any more information. That year, he had his best season, with numbers that looked like a legitimate major league prospect. The next year Weaver moved on, Dalkowski got another manager who tried to teach him other stuff and he regressed to the wild man of before. James understood Weaver's point, what all managers in any field should know: Don't focus on what your subordinates can't do. Focus on what they can do.
Mary started work today at Montgomery College. I changed the link from AHRQ to MC on the butterfly ballot over the weekend.
I discovered that parts of the March Archives had mysteriously disappeared, including the first six days and all of the undertow. Fortunately, Google still had it cached and I recovered the data.
Wild finish to that Ravens-Titans game last night. Despite the controversy, that was still the right call. The offense can't quick-snap the defense arbitrarily.
In trying to catch up with Enterprise, I saw the episodes "Terra Nova" and "Unexpected". "Terra Nova" was the usual, but "Unexpected" was unexpectedly good. This was the one where Trip gets pregnant. Star Trek actually made some effort to make the aliens seem alien with the distorted viewpoint when Trip entered the ship. Of course, you shouldn't be thinking too hard about why the females have large breasts and broad hips when the males gestate and nurse the young.
Last night, I took Miranda to "The Dancing House" where Dave Choat and Diane Donaldson and Koob Choat live. Dave and Diane incinerated a dancing Jar-Jar Binks a few weeks ago. Captured on video, it will be on Quicktime soon. Miranda danced whatever she darn well felt like. However, she got scared when separated from me in the Grand March.
I had a holiday today but Miranda didn't. I got a clean bill of health from my dentist, Sylvan Solomon. I bought some shirts at Lord & Taylor with a gift certificate I got for Christmas last year.
We all know he doesn't want a team in Washington, which may cut into his business, but he just doesn't say,"I need to be compensated for my potential losses." No, he says,"I can't survive," meaning he's either incompetent, or Baltimore can't support major league baseball by itself. The first is self-evident, but the latter may also be true as evidenced from this quote from the 1969 issue of Sports Illustrated covering the World Series,"Instead, they [the Orioles] return to Baltimore, where only a million watched them this year and perhaps fewer will care to view them the next."
Finally watched the Buffy musical. I could see the parts Joss Whedon took from Phantom of the Paradise, West Side Story, and the musical Stephen Sondheim. Obviously the singers of the group are James Marsters, Amber Benson and Anthony Stewart Head. Emma Caulfield and Nicholas Brendan are passable while Joss kept things easy for Michelle Trachtenberg and Alyson Hannigan. Again, Sarah Michelle Gellar proved to be the trooper. I understand she was going to lip-sync with someone else singing, but she got possessive after reading the lyrics.
The Tick looked pretty good last night. The Batman Parody Die Fledermaus was replaced by Batmanuel. The show and others describe him as Eurotrash, but he seems like a stereotype Latin lover. The Wonder Woman parody American Maid is now Captain Liberty. In the Powerpuff Girls, Blossom's favorite comic book was Freedom Gal. She thought she could become a better superhero in a cool car as Liberty Belle. Apparently, the creator Bed Edlund holds the rights to certain characters he created for the comic book, but Die Fledermaus and American Maid were created for the animated series. To avoid legal entanglements, the new characters were created. I got all this from The Evil Eye Cafe.
The funniest moment for me was when Red Scare, the evil Communist robot emerged from his van. Arms crossed, he held a hammer and sickle.
If you look over at Undertow, there's a link for Disturbing Web Searches. I leave you with the following search I saw on the site:
Ruined your day, didn't I?
Contraction's not going to happen. The players union is telling everybody,"Plan on 30 teams next year." The might not be all in the same place... Just remember, the owners have lost every labor dispute so far.
Picking on Steve Czaban is just so easy. Last night he believed the owners in 1995 were marching down Main Street, only to stopped by Judge Sonio Sontemayor. Steve reminds of that old military joke. An army was so short of supplies that some poor soldier was forced to fight with a broomstick. His sergeant told him to yell,"Bang!" instead of firing a rifle and "Stab!" instead of having an actual bayonet in close quarters. Well the soldier goes out and lo and behold, he inflicts tons of casualties on the enemy. Until one day when a unarmed guy stomps right over him saying,"Tankety-tankety-tank." Czaben was like one those guys fooled into thinking he was killed by a real gun.
A more accurate characterization might be the owners as the Grenadan army during the 1983 U.S. invasion. Or if you really don't like the players, the owners could be democratic student movement in Tiananmen Square.
Darla came back to LA knocked-up last night on Angel. Not much of a story to this one, just a bunch of plots leading to some point in the future.
Supposedly the MLB owners are conspiring to eliminate two teams. This will be met instantaneously with lawsuits from the players, the political enitities that lose the teams, and the potential ownership groups in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Portland OR. One might think that the owners can't be that stupid but, given past history, they are. For more information on owners' follies read Lords of the Realm by John Helyar.
Here's an interview with Robert Sawyer from Science Fiction Weekly where he labasted the selection of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the Hugo Award. My personal opinion, parochial as it is, is that J.K. Rowling isn't one of us. If one of Neil Gaiman's fantasy novels won a Hugo, that would be different, because he's one of us. Sawyer argues that Harry Potter isn't fantasy, but the Hugop Awards allow fantasy. He also heavily criticized online voting.
Every Hugo voter paid at least $35 and sometimes over $100 for the privilege. Granted, most of that money was for Worldcon itself. Still, cash begats seriousness, even online. This wasn't a quickie ballot on cnn.com or espn.com. If you look back at the history of Hugo voting, several unworthy stories won because of the famous author that wrote it - be it LeGuin, Asimov, or Heinlein, before the Internet became ubiquitous. Harry Potter won because people read and liked it enough to vote for it.
The Hugo Award has always been a popularity contest, a vote by the fans. The Nebula Award is a vote by the writers. Though there are conscientious voters in both groups, they have other lives. The readers are reading and earning money. The writers should be writing. I think the science fiction critics should create an award of their own. They actually get paid to analyze and critique SF. The critics's voice would be most meaningful.
In the sports area, fans, players and coaches vote, but they have their prejudices. Fans can't see every game. Players' minds are on playing as it should be. The coaches should be thinking strategy. But the writers watch for a living. Their awards mean the most. Science fiction, fantasy and horror should take this cue.
The Washington Indigenous Persons won yet again. I thought and still believe Marty bit off more than could chew taking over the general manager job as well. He did right by adjusting the system to the personnel he has. He could take an 8-8 team to the playoffs just like he did in Cleveland.
I stayed up to watch the World Series game to the end. Bob Brenly looks like a genius but he made a lot of bad decisions concerning Schilling, Johnson, and keeping David Delucci on the bench. The Diamondbacks won despite Brenly's managing, not because of it. Joe Torre did the best he could with what had. His biggest mistake involved selecting such a lackluster bench.
Quiet day at home. I got a haircut. Whitlock and Miranda made cupcakes. Terps didn't let down and flattened Troy State. Went to bed with the Diamondbacks ahead 14-0.
No, I didn't see what has been called the greatest baseball game in history last night. Since the Yankees got in, I've lost interest. I find I'm enjoying the hours of sleep more than the adventure of a World Series game. Baseball executives need to be worried.
I'm not upset that Fox is using virtual ads behind home plate to promote their shows. I just wish they's use more of it and decrease the amount of commercials between innings.
Stadium nomenclature has some interesting conventions. Why is it Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium, but the plural Cleveland Browns Stadium? The Americans seemed to have identified the domes as unique: the Skydome, the Metrodome, the Astrodome, but the other locations as generic: merely Fenway Park, Wrigley Field or Camden Yards. The Canadians do away with articles and just call it Skydome.
The Undertow... another pointless surfing metaphor ...