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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baseball stuff

First, the good news: the Cubs are only 4 1/2 games out of first place. After just 15 games of the 162 game schedule, they are 6-9. If they keep up this torrid pace, they will finish just 46 games back causing all us true believers to stand proudly and shout, "Wait til next year."

Could this be THE YEAR, though? I mean, after all, doesn't every Cub fan deserve at least one winner in a lifetime? Quick answer: NO. I know a Yankee fan (actually three of them) and he often says, "My God, how long do we have to wait? We haven't won since last year!"

It is written that every team wins a World Series for its fans at least once a century. Cubs last won in 1908 so we've got one coming no later than 2099. Wow! I'm all 'goose-pimply' just thinking about it.

Speaking of baseball as a sport... and I have my doubts... poor Phelps High School. The Wisconsin team lost a semi-close one against Three Lakes a week or so ago. Actually, Phelps came in second so that doesn't sound too bad, does it?

At the end of one, Phelps had no runs, no hits, no errors. Three Lakes had a fairly good first inning.... 22 runs, 23 hits, 21 walks and 11 steals. First inning, I said.

Three Lakes pitcher Ben Wales was 6 for 6 while hitting for the cycle. He drove in 12 runs.  And oh, threw a no hitter.

The game was stopped after three with Three Lakes prevailing 45-0.  That's  too bad, actually. It robbed Phelps of the opportunity to record the greatest come-back in the history of any sport. (Rumor has it, the Cubs had a scout at the game and he signed all of the Phelps players to a major league contract on the spot. "They seem to fit our franchise," he told reporters.)

While I'm obsessing about baseball, did you know that on opening day:
  • Babe Ruth pitched a three-hit shutout win for the Boston Red Sox in 1919 over the New York Yankees? Ruth won 24 games that year and lead the league with 35 complete games. And you thought all he did was drink beer, eat hot dogs, womanize, play for the Yankees and hit home runs.
  • Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. He went 0-3 for Brooklyn in his historic debut.
  • Ted Williams, probably the best hitter baseball ever saw, hit .449 with 3 homers and 14 runs batted in in his 14 openers. The 'Splendid Splinter," as he was then known, is now, sadly, the "headless wonder."
  • Bob Feller, Cleveland's ace, pitched the only opening day no-hitter, beating the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, 1-0 in 1940 .
  • Ernie Banks, the Cubs great shortstop,  said, "Let's play two today, every day.

I only relive my love for the game when I see Field of Dreams. That could change, however, if ever...
what's the expression... if ever pigs fly.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We are what we eat and drink...

... or so some say. Hmm... got a son-in-law who decided to become a vegan after reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer. "It explores the many stories we use to justify our eating habits--folklore and pop culture, family traditions and national myth, apparent facts and inherent fictions--and how such tales can lure us into a brutal forgetting."  It was, my son-in-law says, pretty impacting. I guess! Does that make him a tofu kind of guy?

How about some folks in Arizona who found it hard to tolerate a rabbit-based menu for an Easter Sunday brunch? The chef received over 100 complaints including a call from one rabbit lover wishing him "a slow and painful death." Said the chef, "To me, it's just food... (but I) underestimated the number of people who have pet rabbits." Does that make them Hugh Hefner fans?

However, the topper... from the bottom of the food chain, literally, are those who will pay $500 for a bag of coffee beans from Bote-Central in Manila. These 'magic' beans produce a smooth, chocolaty brew with a hint of cherry, devoid of any bitter aftertaste, and are said to be the excelsior of the coffee gods.

Now I love coffee, and maybe I would buy a bag if I had an extra $500, but I don't know. It's not the beans, it's the processing that bothers me. Seems what makes the coffee so wonderful is that it is eaten then digested in the stomach of the civet, a smallish cat-like animal with some otter/mongoose characteristics, and out his you-know-what. The beans, with the benefit of the civet's enzymes, produce, when separated from the feces I presume, the richest coffee imaginable. Well poor me... I'll probably never know... and it's not about the money.

One of the locals at the old coffee farm said he didn't exactly know why foreigners are willing to pay so much for a cup of the civet-digested beans plucked from feces. "We are a bit surprised," he bemused. His son, with a smile on his face, said "We are so ignorant." (Hint: Never, ever shake hands with a coffee grower who has a cage full of civets unless you see him wash his hands.)

Technical question: If I treated my son-in-law to a cup of this fantastic coffee, would he still be a vegan? (Important note: no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post... however, one teriyaki-flavored tofu cube will never be the same.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The face of sports is changing...

Remember when baseball used to be the national pastime? Or football, before we ever heard of... what do you call it... oh, soccer? Well, sorry fanatics, that's not what's hot today. And let's admit it... neither of these were ever an Olympic sport.

Yes, the face of sports is changing... and the world is enthralled. Just a few weeks ago (just four posts down), I brought you the exciting news of the formation of the Professional Alligator Wrestling Association... complete with plans for its own television network... Alligator Wrestlin'... all the Time. And you thought wrestling was fake.

Then comes the news that George Nissen died at age 96. George had springs in his legs. Actually, as you should know, in 1934 he invented the trampoline... God's gift to America's Funniest Videos. An inventive man, he saw his creation become the springboard ;-) of an Olympic sport.

What next will enthrall us, you may ask. Well, the National Breakin' League is re-branding break dancing as the next extreme sport. The League, in existence for four years, sees "top-ranked crews competing in the postseason, culminating in a media-saturated national championship." Move over Super Bowl.

Just think. Olympic medals for alligator wrestling, trampoline jumping and break dancing. Who could resist the appeal? Get rid of the hammer throw (unless you also feature the hammer catch). Besides, it's not even a real hammer. Or fencing, for God's sake... those epees don't even have real points. Who needs hop, skip and jump (without jacks, no less) or dressage where the horse does all the work? Does anyone watch this stuff?

But live alligators or break dancing. Now that's sport. Throw in a few AFV highlights featuring some overweight dad 'crotching' himself on some part of the trampoline and you've got crowd appeal. If Jim McKay were still alive, I can't tell you how excited he would be. I know I can hardly wait to see which country has the guts to claim these gold medals. Hear that Cuba?

Friday, April 9, 2010

No wire hangers, ever! ...and more, yes, much more.

Have you ever seen the 1981 classic movie "Mommie Dearest," about old time film star Joan Crawford? It was from a book her daughter, Christina, wrote a few years earlier, best recalled by the line "I told you! No wire hangers, ever!"

Crawford, a compulsive neurotic, finds one of her 12-year-old daughter's dresses on the forbidden hanger.  She angrily yanks it from the closet, rips off the hanger and starts hitting her daughter with it as she sputters that line. In a rage, she throws clothes all over the place. It's scary, actually.

Well, Crawford may have been painted as an obsessed housekeeper, manic and controlling in real life, but I'm with her about the hangers.


Americans throw out 3.5 billion wire hangers every year! That adds up to more than 100,000 tons of typically non-recycled steel... because those damn hangers clog the recycling machinery. I understand. Last time I took 3.5 billion hangers from my closet--I only intended to take one--they all got tangled and came out as one jangled mess with a life of its own.

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So you think that is overkill? How about the two IRS agents that hand-delivered an unpaid tax bill to the owner of a Sacramento car wash? The tax overdue was 4 cents, owed since 2006. With late fees and charges, the total came to $202.31.  Wish I could find an investment that paid that well.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh though. By IRS estimates there are $300 billion in unpaid taxes owed the government... and we, as citizens, should be happy those deadbeats are being chased down, one-by-one. By my calculations, with this 4 cents, there is probably only $299,999,999,999.96 owed. So we're gaining on it, right?

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Did you hear about the Florida guy who burglarized a police car? He stole handcuffs and a Taser gun, among other items. He subsequently called police and turned himself in. The cops who picked him up found that he had accidentally handcuffed himself... and also, accidentally Tasered himself. I think that his defense should be that he accidentally broke into the police car too. It fits his modus operandi.

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The tee-shirt sould have read: "I went to Colorado to win $43 million and all I got were some waffles."

That really happened when a woman, playing a penny slot machine, hit the jackpot for $42.9 million, according to the payout screen. Casino authorities said, "Wait a minute... we were just testing the machine and the wrong read-out was shown." They say the max payout would have only been $251,000, so the $42.9 million was a teensy-weensy little error that could happen to anyone. However, the casino folks didn't want her to go home without anything... so they gave her a free breakfast... and presumably, her penny back. After all, fair is fair.

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Note to all you Trekkies out there, GROW UP!

A John Hopkins University physicist said that if the Starship Enterprise ever really traveled great distances at "warp speed," as it did often, everyone on board would be killed. Actually, the physicist simply explained that traveling at 99 percent the speed of light (about 180,000 miles-per-second), the protons would be stripped from the atoms and so-on and so-forth.... ho hum. (Those physicists have a way with words... which is why so few physicists become successful comedians.) Killed is enough explanation for me to say, "Get a life, you guys." Only Spock was real, you fools.

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And finally, A Santa Fe man is suing his neighbor for $530,000 in damages because she is disturbing his "electromagnetic sensitivities." He says the neighbor's laptop and iPhone are causing him nausea, vertigo and body aches and she is totally refusing to "work with me" on this.