Saturday, April 30, 2005

Give up cable for my Pistons?

In the comments from last night's attempt at a "live blog," Evan proposed that my cable privileges be taken away for the benefit of Pistons fans everywhere.

"... as a result of your watching the Pistons and their losing, I'll be asking all the cable channels to cut off service to Iowa. You bastard."

And that's a legitimate beef. Is it worth my being able to watch a Pistons game in Iowa if the result is a loss? Of course not. And I would gladly hand over my cable service for the greater good. I think the Pistons lost for other reasons. Yet Evan is correct - it was my fault. Allow me to explain:

See, I watched Game 1 of the Pistons-Sixers series last Sunday, and the Pistons won. However (and that's a Stephen A. Smith "however!" if you know what I mean - okay, you don't), I still unwittingly fulfilled my duties as a Detroit sports fan. How?

I didn't watch the first quarter of the game on television.

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Ian? Well, please let me continue, Arnold:

During the Detroit Red Wings' Stanley Cup Championship runs (And Liz, one of those wins - 1997 - was over the Philadelphia Flyers - HA!), I came upon an interesting finding. When I didn't watch the first period of a Red Wings playoff game (because of work or school), the team would win. When I watched the game on TV from the beginning, they lost. After the Wings' lost a second game in their 1997 first-round series versus St. Louis, I realized this was much too serious a trend to be trifled with. So from then on, I refused to watch the first period of a Wings playoff game on television.

Friends would snicker as we met at sports bars to watch games, yet I would insist on going out to my car to listen to my radio. My dad and uncle were baffled as I went to a bedroom or out to the car while the game was on TV. But the proof was beyond a reasonable doubt. The Wings' record was incredible - they only lost two more games - when I did this.

Black & white? Was 1997 that long ago?

The next season, the mojo continued. Whenever I slipped and forgot my responsibilities, the Wings lost. But when I remembered not to watch the first period on TV, they almost always won. The mojo eventually wore off for me and the Red Wings, but such things move in ebbs and flows. The spell hit a dry run. It came back for one last burst in 2002, as the Wings won again, but like a shooting star, the magic eventually faded out.

But last year, the mojo rose again - this time for the Detroit Pistons. I denied its return. Surely, the well had run dry. However, the results were unmistakable. When I missed the starts of Pistons games because of class, the team won. When I could watch games from the beginning, they lost. I knew the magic had undoubtedly returned when Detroit won Game 1 of the NBA Finals. All the so-called experts thought the Los Angeles Lakers would easily stomp the Pistons. How did this happen? The answer was clear to me: my friend Eric and I got to Sticks in Ypsilanti late in the first quarter. Four games later (I had the night off during their one loss), the Pistons won their third NBA championship.

2004 = vivid color, baby!

Evan, you're right - I am a bastard. I forgot my responsibilities as a Detroit sports fan. What happened last night? My TV was tuned to ESPN for the start of the Pistons-Sixers game. And Detroit lost. I apologize to you and all of my fellow Pistons fans.

Tomorrow's game starts at noon CST on ESPN. I'll be at brunch. Or the movies. Where I won't be is in front of the TV at the beginning of Game 4. Too much is at stake to test the fates.

Here's something you don't see every day

Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld posing with Spider-Man and Captain America?

Here's the story.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Go out on a night like this?

I've complained a few times about how I hardly ever get to see my Detroit sports teams in action, while trapped among the cornstalks in Iowa. But not tonight. Tonight is sports fan nirvana for me. I got game 3 of the Pistons-Sixers playoff series on ESPN, while Comcast SportsNet is giving me Tigers vs. White Sox.

And for an extra layer of hot fudge on this sundae, two 300-game winners - Houston's Roger Clemens and the Cubs' Greg Maddux - are pitching against each other on WGN, while two of the best pitchers in baseball over the past five years - Atlanta's Tim Hudson and St. Louis' Mark Mulder (both formerly of the Oakland Athletics) - are matched up on TBS.

I should wear out the buttons on my remote tonight. It's me, pizza, beer, and the sweet generosity of my television. And I've always wanted to try this "live blogging" thing, so here goes. Sure to be a disaster. Or a bore. No, no one else is with me - why do you ask?

7:00: Hey, did one of these games already start? After two years, I still haven't gotten a handle on Central Standard Time.

7:05: Does anyone actually like that garlic butter sauce that comes with lots of pizzas nowadays? This $#!+ is nasty.

7:15: Has Roger Clemens dyed his hair? I swear I see blond hair poking out from under his cap. If you're 40 years old, aren't you too old to do that?

7:20: Whoops! The bat just flew out of Tim Hudson's hands and hit some dude in the stands. Welcome to the National League, where pitchers have to hit.

7:21: Rasheed Wallace hits a three-pointer for Detroit! The announcer says it's the Pistons' third of the game so far, and I have to believe him because I keep flipping channels.

7:30: The White Sox's play-by-play announcer, Ken Harrelson, calls his team "the good guys." Jesus, I hate that.

7:35: So much for a low-scoring pitching matchup in Atlanta. Brian Jordan just hit a two-run home run to tie the game at 4. Should I be watching this game so much?

7:40: The Pistons have opened up an 11-point lead. Bill Walton just praised Detroit's "mental acuity." No $#!+, Bill. They're a bunch o' stinkin' geniuses.

7:45: The Sixers' coach, Jim O'Brien, is going to have a heart attack by the end of the game. He is screaming at the referees.

7:50: Philadelphia's now within five points. Geez, you switch a few channels and go take a piss, and see what you miss?

7:55: Rasheed Wallace is called for a technical foul from the bench for berating referees. Rasheed has to be the only player in the NBA who gets that. (He routinely leads the league in technical fouls.)

8:05: Harrelson just referred to Tigers pitching Bob Cluck as "Bob 'I Don't Give a' Cluck." Does he actually receive money for his job?

8:20: Craig Monroe just made a sweet catch against the fence for the Tigers. Did he rob Aaron Rowand of a home run? Replays say... no. But still, nice catch. That guy's playing great baseball.

8:30: Goose Island's Pere Jacques beer is awesome. Mis Hooz, you know what I'm talkin' about.

8:45: Uh-oh, Philly's cut it to two points. $#!+, they just tied the game.

8:50: Philly just took the lead, 76-74. What the #$%@ is going on?

8:52: Boom! Rondell White hits a home run for Detroit. White Sox 1, Tigers 1.

8:55: OHMYGOD!! Craig Monroe just got hit in the cookies by a pitch. Bam-o! Right in the jewels. Of course he's down on his knees! No cup's gonna keep that from hurting. That's gonna leave a mark. Okay, his teammates are laughing, so Monroe must be okay. Watching someone get hit in the nuts usually is pretty funny, even if it makes a guy's stomach clench.

9:05: My dial-up finally gives out and disconnects on me. But I stayed online a whole two hours. Not bad. No, it stinks. It stinks like rotten cheese.

9:12: That &@$#sucker Chris Webber just hit a shot to put Philly up by seven points. &$*#!!! Seriously, what the #$%@ is going on here? And why hasn't bad karma made Webber blow out a knee again?

9:18: Detroit down by 10, with five minutes to go. I'm officially worried.

9:20: Okay, it's down to six. Philly calls time-out. I need another beer.

9:21: I pop back to the Braves-Cardinals baseball game, which I've been slacking on. Both Hudson and Mulder are out of the game. #$%@ that $#!+ now, even if it's a close game.

9:22: Tigers take the lead, 2-1, on a double by Pudge Rodriguez! Nook Logan scores. How can you not love a guy with the nickname "Nook." I'm naming my kid Nook. Nook Casselberry. No, that'll sound more like Nook Asselberry. My kid doesn't need that.

9:24: Down by eight with two minutes left. It's not looking good for the Pistons.

9:25: How are the Cubs and Astros doing? No Clemens or Maddux anymore? Then I don't give a $#!+. Everyone here in Iowa loves the Cubs. I hate the Cubs. #$%@ the Cubs.

9:32: Detroit is down by seven with 42 seconds left. Their coach, Larry Brown, is smiling in disbelief. I'm with you, Lar. When you have to foul the other team every time they have the ball, that's not a good sign. Philly fans are starting to leave. Is this game over... ?

9:35: This game is over. Pistons lose, 115-104. Mother#$%@er. Okay Philly, you got yours. We'll see what happens on Sunday. Back to the baseball game.

9:36: Everybody Loves Raymond is on TBS. So the Braves game is over. Braves win 6-5. Bet that was a good game. Oh well. I sure as hell ain't watchin' Ray Romano.

9:37: Cubs and Astros are still going. Back to the Tigers game. Uh-oh, the White Sox have runners on first and third base. But - Kyle Farnsworth gets Jermaine Dye to hit a weak ground ball back to him! Tigers get out of the inning and hold onto their 2-1 lead. Nice work. And this might be the beer talking, but Farnsworth is a damn fine looking guy.

9:45: Every time a White Sox pitcher strikes out a Tigers hitter, Harrelson says "he gone." Seriously, is the guy married to the owner's daughter or something? How does he have a job?

9:55: You know, this is a hell of a lot easier when you just watch one game. Tigers bring in Ugueth Urbina to pitch the 8th inning. The Tigers' manager, Alan Trammell, seems to be getting a handle on this managing thing. He did the same thing last night, using his relievers to shut down the Cleveland Indians in the late innings of the game. Of course, he actually has good players to work with now, which helps.

10:00: Holy $#!+, how much of that pizza did I eat? Oh Christ. Maybe if I walk from here to the bathroom 38 times, I can burn some of that off. Or type really, really fast.

10:15: Disconnected again. I hate my phone service. I could rip it out of the #$%@ing wall.

10:18: Still flipping. Martin Short is one of Bill Maher's guests tonight. Hopefully, he's funnier without that Jiminy Glick fat-suit. I think I'll stick with the Tigers game.

10:20: Bottom of the 9th, Troy Percival is in for the Tigers. Oh yeah. This thing is over.

10:26: Percival just walked Carl Everett. The first two White Sox hitters are on base. FRICK!

10:28: Percival hit Paul Konerko. The bases are loaded. You gotta be kidding me. There are no outs.

10:30: Aaron Rowand drives a ball deep to centerfield - holy #$%@ing $#!+, is that a home run? No, it's caught. But deep enough for a sacrifice fly. Game is tied, 2-2. I'm wondering why I bothered doing any of this tonight. Mother#$%@er.

10:37: Percival intentionally walks so he can face Joe Crede (who's 0-for-4) instead. Crede pops up! Wow! Percival blew the save, but still got out of a bases-loaded jam with only one run. Game's still tied, going to extra innings. My purgatory blog continues...

10:47: No runs for the Tigers. Oh no. No, no, no. The Tigers are bringing in Jamie Walker for the bottom of the 10th. Trammell must want to lose this game. The statistics say Walker is a decent pitcher. But in my world, Walker has given up a home run almost every single time I've seen him pitch. If he gives up a home run here, this becomes a psychic hotline blog on Monday.

10:56: Chris Widger flies out to centerfield. We're going to the 11th inning. Walker didn't give up a home run! I've cancelled the order for my psychic's turban and crystal ball.

11:05: My main man, Nook Logan, hits a ball into the right-field gap to score Carlos Pena. Tigers lead, 3-2. And holy $#!+, Logan is fast - he's on third base when any other player would be on second. (By the way, Logan's real name is Exavier Prente Logan. I'd go by "Nook," too. Unless I was a James Bond villain.)

11:07: Disconnected again. My internet connection is made of tin cans and string. No, tin cans and string would be a $%#@ing improvement. Jesus.

11:16: Franklyn German (who, at a beefy 270 lbs., looks like he should be on a beer league softball team) gets Timo Perez to fly out to centerfield. Game over! Tigers win, 3-2! The night isn't a total loss! Unless you consider I've spent four hours with the TV, my laptop, four beers, and 1/2 a pizza.

And that's five wins in a row for the Tigers. Their record is over .500, at 11 wins and 10 losses. Not bad. This team looks like it's getting better. Is it time to get excited?

Okay, enough of this. Hell, more than enough. The Pistons' loss chaps my ass, but they can't win 'em all. But they'll still win this series, and relatively easily. Before I sign off, a tip of the cap to Sam at Blue Cats & Red Sox, who can do this much better than me. And she's a hell of a lot funnier with it. Good night, kids.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Can you tell I have some free time?

Does tonight's press conference from President Bush mean The O.C. is getting bumped? Mother#$%@ing &$%#sucker!!!! Dammit. The one Thursday night I'm free.

Bush should talk to the press much, much, much more, by the way.

EDIT (9:05 pm EST): And wow, three of the four networks cut away at 9 pm EST sharp to get to their precious programming (The Simple Life! The Apprentice! Survivor!). What does it say about ABC's Thursday night programming that they stayed with the President for the remaining minutes of his press conference, and had analysis afterwards?

Senator Al Franken, I presume?

Today's Salon has a piece on Al Franken's possible 2008 run for the Senate in Minnesota. (Here's the link to it, but I think you need a subscription to read it. Or watch a bunch of ads first. The Raw Story has excerpts, if you'd rather not jump through Salon's hoops.) He's still playing coy, but he's moving back to Minnesota, taking his radio show to Minneapolis. It can't just be that the man misses home - especially when he hasn't lived there in 30 years.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. (Of course, it wouldn't necessarily affect me since I'm not a Minnesota resident. At least not yet. Got any jobs for me, Minneapolis?) Does Franken have more impact for the progressive left on Air America Radio or would he be able to effect more better inside, as a Senator? Would this just be seen as a vanity political run? Would Franken be taken seriously by anyone else besides desperate-to-win-anything Democrats?

For me, this is what it comes down to: What'd piss off Bill O'Reilly more? Then go do that, Al.

Hey man, I can't find nothin' on the radio

(Oh, if Fried Rice Thoughts had a trivia contest, wouldn't that be fun? I'd give away MSG packets or something. What song is that line from?)

If you weren't already depressed about the state of radio in your town, today's New York Times paints a pretty bleak picture (though I think they're a little behind on noting this trend).

Cities that have recently ditched the modern rock (or "alternative") format? WHFS in Washington D.C.-Baltimore, WPLY in Philadelphia, KRQI in Seattle, and WXRK in New York. (Who knows what'll happen to that station once Howard Stern leaves for satellite radio?) Rap, R&B and Spanish-language stations are thriving, however.

I know Evan and Liz have talked about this on their blogs (you'll forgive me for not searching through their archives), so we've slapped this topic around before, but how many people actually listen to the radio and find new music there? My ears used to be glued to the radio, but now it's mostly audio wallpaper with hits from the 80s and 90s. (And NPR.) The University of Iowa's KRUI fortunately provides a shining beacon in a sea of radio mediocrity here in eastern Iowa, though I've heard screaming babies with better wattage.

Mis Hooz recently recommended KEXP's streaming audio out of Seattle. And it's fantastic, but no way I can get that consistently at home, with dial-up access.

Satellite radio, I have my eyes on you. Especially when you shake that portable unit in my face. Oh, baby.

My man, Tom Cruise

I don't consider myself a Tom Cruise fan, per se, but it's been pointed out to me that I've seen virtually every one of his movies, so I must be a fan on some level. (I'll say it's because "I like the directors he works with." Yeah, that sounds right.) But I just caught a headline while signing on that made me go, "Hey now."

Tom Cruise Dating Katie Holmes

Now this might make me an official Tom Cruise fan. Marrying Nicole Kidman was impressive, but we know how that turned out. But this - this is quality work, Mr. Cruise. I'm compelled to give ol' Tommy a "thumbs up." I wanted to say "Atta boy!" when I read that headline. I've been an admirer of Katie Holmes's works, er... work ever since her days on Dawson's Creek. (Uh, like, a girl I was dating watched the show, so I, uh, had to watch it.)

Now some of you might point to the 16-year age difference between the two ("Atta boy!") and object. I say, hey - when Cupid's Arrow strikes, you can't let trivial things like age stand in the way. When does War of the Worlds come out, Tom? I'll be there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Michael Rosenberg: He's a baller

Yesterday, Evan gave some dap to Michael Rosenberg, a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press. I would like to join in that praise; he's been doing a fine job. Here's the hilarious first paragraph from Rosenberg's column today:

"Allen Iverson reminds me of me, except that he's black, quick, talented and has 47 more tattoos, a thicker police file, a slightly different hairstyle and less writing ability. Actually, I'm not sure about that last part. For all I know, his diary reads like Tolstoy."

By the way, the Pistons beat the Sixers, 99-84, in game 2 of their playoff series. A big middle finger to ESPN and/or TNT for not showing the game nationally last night. How about some regional coverage, guys? Aren't fans in Iowa, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc. closer to Detroit? Might they not care more about that game than New Jersey-Miami? Buncha punks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Angry young man

I've gotta get outta Iowa. Or get a satellite dish. This is a #$%@ing outrage. I cannot watch the Pistons-Sixers playoff game right now and I'm climbing the walls. The Miami-New Jersey game is on TNT. Comcast SportsNet Chicago is playing Cubs vs. Reds. And ESPN is showing some stupid pro-football-players-playing-other-games thing. Waiting every 10 minutes for ESPN2 to post the score on its bottom-of-the-screen crawl (while college #$%@ing baseball is on) is driving me crazy. This is total bull$#!+. Why the #$%@ does the NBA schedule playoff games at the same time, thus ensuring at least one will have to play on local TV? I waited three days for Game 2 of Pistons-Sixers, and now I can't watch it? A #$%@ing outrage! @#$% $#!+ %$@#!!!

And don't get me started on my problems with dial-up access. @#$% $#!+ %$@#!!! @#$% $#!+ %$@#!!! @#$% $#!+ %$@#!!!

Midday query

How would you go about telling a complete stranger her breath just reeks, like she swallowed a week-old used coffee filter?

Wrist, thou art slapped

Over the weekend, the Detroit Free Press announced its penalty for Mitch Albom, following his now-infamous April 3 column which detailed events that didn't actually happen. "Disciplinary action has been taken" against Albom and four other staffers, according to a letter by the paper's publisher, Carole Leigh Hutton, in last Saturday's edition. Albom is apparently free to resume writing for the Free Press, effective immediately.

But how is Albom being "disciplined"? There's no mention of the punishment in her letter. Should there have been? In an interview with Editor & Publisher, Hutton said she usually doesn't publicly announce disciplinary action, and doesn't see why this case should be different.

But this case is different, Carole, and I think the penalty needs to be revealed. This isn't just an in-house matter. This isn't somebody surfing porn sites from their office or stealing food from the breakroom. Albom's transgressions were quite public, and his reputation has been stained, along with the Free Press's. The more transparent the process, the more credibility the newspaper will maintain. (Hutton might have a policy of protecting Albom. When a commissioned review of his novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, turned out to be negative, she killed the piece.)

However, Hutton did say that a story about the investigation would be published soon. So maybe she's just keeping us all in suspense. Gotta sell those newspapers, right?

For Albom's sake, I hope that story runs soon. He's been getting killed by his colleagues in the media. Just check out Romenesko. You'll find a bunch of articles, editorials, and letters calling for Albom's head. In Friday's Los Angeles Times, Terry Foster of the Detroit News (whom I've met and has kindly answered any question I've ever asked him) said Albom's integrity has often been a question among sportswriters.

"We always wondered how come we didn't see that," said Foster. "How come we didn't hear that? Mitch is a very talented writer. And sometimes he out-writes you. But sometimes he writes things that just seem too good to be true."

Foster goes on to say that he thought Albom would eventually resign because of this. In the same article, Jack Lessenberry of Detroit's Metro Times says one of his students quit her internship at WJR (home of Albom's radio show) when Albom threw a computer keyboard at her.

It's not a total slam piece, though: Two of Albom's former colleagues tout Albom's work ethic in the story. And the next day, the LA Times's media critic, David Shaw, wrote that Albom's media lynching has been overkill. The humiliation of the incident, along with the suspension and pending discipline, should be enough.

I tend to agree. Calling for Albom to be fired is definitely overreacting. But it would be nice to know if he's actually being punished by the newspaper he embarrassed.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Monday mess-around

Anyone remember Larry King's old "News & Views" column that ran in USA Today on Mondays? The one where he'd just throw a bunch of random non-sequiturs together and call it a column? Oh, just asking...

▪ It snowed yesterday in Michigan. Some areas received up to 14 inches of the white stuff! The Detroit Tigers game was postponed because of snow on April 24. That $#!+ is crazy. My Michigan peeps don't need me to tell them that, of course. But I thought it was worth noting.

▪ I watched Closer last night, and wished I'd written every single line that came out of Clive Owen's mouth. I'm still not sure whether or not it was a good movie; the ending was kind of a head-scratcher. But I bet Owen had fun playing his character.

▪ I usually hate reruns, but I'd love a spring-summer repeat of the Detroit Pistons winning the NBA championship. The Pistons looked awesome on Saturday, smacking down the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-85, in game 1 of their playoff series. Could Detroit have an even better team than they did last year? Hmm... could be.

▪ Last night's episode of Deadwood was disappointing for only one reason. Last week, Mis Hooz and I did shots of whiskey every time someone said "cocksucker." (And if you've ever watched the show, you know that could get a person stinkin' drunk by the end of an episode.) Unfortunately, I only counted one "cocksucker" last night. (Did I miss any?) Oh well. I did have to get up early today.

▪ Am I starting to get attached to Iowa City before I leave? I thought this town was full of $5.00 pitcher/$1.00 shot frat bars. But I went to a couple of cool places over the weekend, both of which had some good live jazz and a nice beer selection. I wish I'd have found those joints earlier in my Iowa tenure.

▪ Another movie I watched this weekend: P.S., starring Laura Linney and Topher Grace. This didn't get nearly the amount of attention it should have; I don't know how many cities it even played in. It's about a woman in her late-30s who meets a younger man, and becomes convinced he could be the reincarnation of a boyfriend who died in an auto accident 20 years ago. Linney is great in everything she does, but I might be biased since I'm totally in love with her. (A couple of my friends just nodded their heads and rolled their eyes.)

▪ I noticed the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs went back to "classic" uniforms, with no player names on the backs of the jerseys. They only have numbers on their backs, like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants. (However, the Red Sox and Giants have player names on their road uniforms.) It's a little thing, but I think it looks great. The less stuff on the jersey, the better. A clean, simple look. I wish the Tigers would do the same thing, at least with their home uniforms.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

"You're going to what... ?"

I will probably spend a sizable chunk of my afternoon watching the National Football League college player draft on ESPN. And I'm not sure I can explain why. It's really not an event. As Michael Wilbon wrote in yesterday's Washington Post, it's really much ado about nothing, receiving much more attention than it deserves. It's hours of talking heads, spouting 40-yard-dash times, throwing out vague words like "potential" and "upside," and presumably expert terminology like "lateral movement," "vertical stretch," "breakaway speed," and "gap explosion."

It's the ultimate example of sports geekiness. 4 million people will probably watch this thing today. Why? Optimism, first and foremost. For fans whose teams played horribly the previous season (Detroit Lions, anyone?), the draft offers hope, someone who can make a difference between losing and winning. Secondly, it cures the football fix. We have nothing from January to late-August. Even though no game is being played today, a fan can immerse himself in football-related discussion. Finally, it's a somewhat interactive event. For fans who have delusions of being able to assemble a winning football team, the draft gives them a chance to feel like an expert, someone who knows what their team should do to get better. And perhaps more importantly, it gives them a chance to complain when their team doesn't take the player they should've. ("How could you do that? He's terrible! You guys are morons!") I also probably shouldn't underestimate the opportunity to eat bad food and drink adult beverages.

My lovable Lions have the 10th selection in today's draft. If they have any brains whatsoever, they'll pick Shawne Merriman from the University of Maryland. I've never seen him play, but I've read he's got great size, speed, and has great upside. His lateral movement is unbelievable and he explodes off the line. And he's tough. Nasty, from the 10 seconds worth of highlights I've seen on ESPN. I've spent the last three hours studying this $#!+, so I know what I'm talking about. The Lions should totally take this kid if they're serious about winning next year. If they don't, they're #$@%ing idiots who have no @#*%ing idea what the #$%@ they're doing!!

Pass another slice of pizza, will ya?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Will I ever grow up? Part 2

I can hear many of you right now: "Ian, you're too damn old to get excited for a movie about a man who wears his red underpants on the outside of his blue tights." And I want to agree with you. One of these years, I should outgrow my love of comic books and movies based on comic books. Since I'm still indulging my inner 10-year-old, however, I'm eagerly awaiting the new Superman movie. (And I think I can now officially kiss away any ideas that this blog would eventually score me chicks.)

The original Superman flick, with Christopher Reeve, is one of my all-time favorites. I probably watch it 2-3 times a year. I own the soundtrack (which Mis Hooz can reluctantly confirm). A new movie's been in development for years, but only when Bryan Singer (of X-Men and Usual Suspects fame) got involved last summer did this thing finally get moving. He picked an unknown guy originally from Iowa (and a fellow Hawkeye) to play Superman, which raised some eyebrows. How will he do? We'll find out next June. But here's how he looks as Clark Kent:

Hmm, where's he off to in such a hurry? Today, it was revealed what's under that natty attire. Here's what the new man in the red cape looks like. (I was going to pose for the picture, but I've been drinking a lot of beer lately):

They kept the red underpants, which kind of surprises me. (The darker red is a nice touch, though.) But of all the attempts I've seen to re-design Superman's costume, it never works without the underpants. Is it a color thing? You need the red contrasting with the blue? I guess you just need something in the middle there.

I'm not sure if I'm more excited or less excited about the new Superman movie after seeing this picture. Maybe the fact I'm not totally geeked out is a sign of oncoming adulthood. Or maybe I feel funny about being in a public computer lab on campus, looking at a man in blue tights (with, um, red underpants). But who am I kidding - I'll be in the theaters when this bad boy comes out. Any of you with me?

Friday fright

Okay, I have to share this with you guys. Mis Hooz just sent this to me, and I'm still shaking off the effects. Click on the link after the blurb to get to the ad.

This is a car advertisement from Germany. When they finished filming the ad, the people who made it noticed something moving along the side of the car, like a ghostly white mist.

The ad was never put on TV because the unexplained ghostly phenomenon frightened the production team out of their wits. Watch it right after the car goes behind the trees and re-appears look to the left of the car and you will see the white mist crossing in front of the car then following it along the road...

Turn up your volume and you will be able to hear static when this happens.

** Here you go - get freaked out

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Stock up now - before it's too late!

Here's an important story that's been lost underneath all this Pope stuff. Mis Hooz had to console me when I read about this over the weekend. The Washington Post was on the case, but it seems to have escaped national attention. (But I haven't been watching much news lately, since it seemed to largely focus on what color smoke was coming out of the Vatican chimney, so maybe I missed the coverage.)

Are you people sitting down? Are you ready for this? Okay, here it is: There will be a shortage of sunflower seeds in the United States this year.

Get 'em while you can!

According to the article by Don Oldenburg, the shortage can be attributed to three factors:

▪ Chilly, rainy, and snowy weather this past winter killed the sunflower crops in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, where sunflowers are primarily grown.

▪ White mold. It's not just on your shower curtain anymore. Of course, it's probably not the same stuff. Whatever this stuff was, it wiped out 40% of sunflower plants.

▪ Instead of sunflowers, farmers decided to grow soybeans because they could be sold at higher prices.

Excuse me if I get emotional here. I just can't bear the thought of having to eat more beef jerky or bags of Combos on my long road trips this summer. Cracking the shells with my teeth and spitting them into a cup is what keeps me awake while driving that long, flat stretch of nothing called I-80 running through Iowa and Illinois. The slogan for David Sunflower Seeds says it all: "Eat. Spit. Be Happy." That's me on the road, man.

What's worse is the effect this shortage will have on my beloved baseball. You want those guys to go back to chewing tobacco?

"They're trying to put on a good face for the kids," said author Frederick C. Klein in the article. "Having a player walk around with a big chunk in his cheek isn't the image they want. You don't see that much anymore."

Think about the children! I guess they'll have to go back to peanuts and Cracker Jack. Or bubble gum. Those poor bastards.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hey, does this stain look divine to you?

I don't know how the Catholic Church had time to choose a new Pope so quickly with all these images of the Virgin Mary popping up everywhere. (Evan has a take on the brand new Pope Benedict XVI that's definitely worth your time.)

This $#!+ is officially out of control now, isn't it?

▪ Melbourne, Australia: The Blessed Lady is supposedly visible in a bedsheet stain. The sheet was discovered in a Salvation Army charity shop.

(Last night's Daily Show had a hilarious feature on this last night. The Monsignor examining the sheet seemed to be more interested in where he'd have lunch.)

▪ Chicago: A yellow-and-white stain on a freeway underpass looks like ol' Mary.

Here's my question - who the hell spotted that one? Somebody sleeping underneath the bridge? Someone stopping to take a piss? Aren't people driving by a little fast to see a stain, let alone process that it looks like the Virgin Mary?

The ABCs of Monday Night

I think my dad and I had one of those "we must be from different generations" conversations last night. He asked me what I thought about "Monday Night Football" moving from ABC to ESPN. I realize that's probably not big news to most of you. But my dad thought it was worthy of bringing it up on the phone. To me, it's big news for as long as it takes you to read the sentence "'Monday Night Football' is moving to ESPN."

I suppose the move is notable in that "Monday Night Football" will have been on ABC for 35 years after its final upcoming season. 35 years = sort of a TV institution. But I think this means more to people like my dad who remember watching Howard Cosell broadcast the games. Back in those days, before cable and satellite TV, that might be one of the few NFL games you'd get to watch in a given week. It was an event. Now, you can see any and every game you want. You can go to a sports bar on Sunday and watch 'em all. And how many people don't have cable these days? (I'm not talking about those who choose not to have cable. I don't think people like that watch TV.)

But I am surprised ABC is letting go of the NFL. Having NFL football on your network is a big deal. Don't believe me? NBC just ponied up $600 million to broadcast NFL games on Sunday nights. (One cool thing about that NBC game for football fans: NBC will get to decide which game it wants to broadcast later in the season, so it's not automatically stuck with a suddenly meaningless match-up that was chosen before the season began.)

Dad, what can I say? The world is changing around you.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Still here, still standing

©2005 Universal Press Syndicate

No, this isn't why I didn't post an entry yesterday - and might not until late this afternoon. Today's looking like a busy day, and I'm still trying to regain my bearings after Mis Hooz's weekend visit. That girl wore me out, man. My adopted laid-back Iowa philosophy wasn't ready for her New York, jet-set lifestyle.

Actually, I think she took to the area quite well. It was a fun weekend. Good people, good company, good times. And there's nothing like a guest visiting from out-of-town to make a town seem interesting again. Places that might seem boring or repetitive suddenly look fresh, with a different perspective. You get to check out an establishment or two that you might not have gone to by yourself. And you might realize just how hermit-like your existence has been after someone drags you out of the house to rock the town.

Now, the apartment seems a bit empty. But I'll try to keep busy so I don't dwell on that.

More later today, hopefully. Keep on rockin', people.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Movie review quote of the week

From A.O. Scott's New York Times review of David Duchovny's directorial debut (Man, that is some serious alliteration), House of D:

"The reasons to avoid House of D, David Duchovny's earnest, unwatchable coming-of-age drama, can best be summarized in a simple declarative sentence. Robin Williams plays a retarded janitor."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Pressed for time

I apologize for the quickies today. Normally I like to spend as much time with you, tending to your needs, as possible.

▪ What are the worst consecutive songs you've ever heard from a jukebox? (There has to be a better way to phrase that question. I ask you to refer to this entry's title.) Last night at The Mill, everyone at our table was brought to a halt and nearly reduced to tears from Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah." Man, what a powerful song. And who knew drinking could make guys so emotional? So what kept the feeling going? What was the next tune? Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al." Wow. What a follow-up. I suppose it cheered us up. Did the same person choose those songs? And if so, did he or she realize what they were doing?

▪ I have to give a shout-out to a handful of my fellow bloggers who graciously and generously took the time to help me out with an essay I'm working on about the blog culture. John, Susannah, Liz, Evan, and J9 - you guys are great. I appreciate you guys giving me your input.

Fried Rice Thoughts's New York correspondent, Mis Hooz, is visiting Iowa City for the weekend, so I don't know if I'll be blogging much over the weekend. (I'm sure she'd love it if I did.) This midwestern boy is gonna show the big city girl how we get things done in corn country. Of course, I think she'll love it and want to move out here, a la Lucinda Trout in Meghan Daum's The Quality of Life Report (an extremely enjoyable book, if you're looking for a fun read).

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A "man date" for change?

Occasionally, one of my female friends will ask me to explain the male gender for them. I'm flattered to be the spokesman for an entire gender and try to help as best I can. But there have been plenty of times when all I could do was shrug my shoulders. I don't always understand men, either. I was reminded of that while reading Jennifer 8. Lee's feature in Sunday's New York Times about "man dates." (By the way, how do you get a numeral as your middle initial?) Here's Lee's definition:

"Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. It is two guys meeting for the kind of outing a straight man might reasonably arrange with a woman. Dining together across a table without the aid of a television is a man date; eating at a bar is not. Taking a walk in the park together is a man date; going for a jog is not. Attending the movie "Friday Night Lights" is a man date, but going to see the Jets play is definitely not."

The article is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it points to a truth in our culture. If two men are spending time together without the pretext of sports or business, and the setting is someplace else besides a bar, does that automatically mean they must be a gay couple? Where does that tension come from? When did we become so defensive about our masculinity? I don't really get that. And I really don't get one of my favorite examples of male defensiveness, which Lee's article cites: Two guys at the movies, sitting with an empty "Hey, we're not gay" buffer seat between them. Guys - we're watching Die Hard 4: Die Really, Really Hard This Time. I think it's safe to assume you two aren't on a date. (But if you were, it'd be kind of sweet.)

In a fiction writing workshop last year, I became irritated when a few people implied that there was a homosexual subtext between my lead character and his best friend. If that's what they got from the material, fine - that's a valid interpretation. But not because they're two guys who spend time together and banter back and forth. A friendship between two men can be portrayed without calling their sexuality into question. Look at Sideways. Or Scrubs.

Maybe it's because I grew up with my closest male friends. We know each other well, we became men together (okay, that sounds kinda gay), so there aren't any underlying questions if we check out an exhibit at an art museum. Or watch a slightly "chick-ish" movie. There's a comfort level, a familiarity that might not exist with a classmate or co-worker.

Okay, I realize there are some situations that might look strange. If you two are having a candlelight dinner at a white tablecloth restaurant (Hey, we're eating steak!) or watching The Boy From Oz on Broadway (Hey, Hugh Jackman played Wolverine, okay?), then maybe you can expect a question or two.

But I wonder if I unwittingly acknowledge that tension as I get older? Going to a museum, watching something on TV that isn't sports, or seeing a foreign film that doesn't involve kung-fu? I do most of those things by myself these days. Or with a female friend. I suppose that's something I need to think about. I'll look at myself in the mirror (while applying moisturizing after shave, of course) and analyze whether I'm an insecure male, too. But we're being silly, guys. There's no reason for us to be defensive about hanging out together. Who's going to understand you more than another man? Just make sure we're drinking beer and watching football while we talk about it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

When's the last time you ate a Twinkie?

Did you know the Twinkie turns 75 years old this month? (And you could probably eat the first one ever made if it was still around - HA!) I figured people stopped eating them after the age of, say, 12, (and if you look at the Twinkies website, it's clearly marketed toward kids) but according to this Washington Post article, that's not quite the case.

Americans spent $47 million on Twinkies over the past year. Hostess made 500 million of the resilient yellow, cream-filled sponge cakes. In Chicago, you can have Twinkie Tiramisu at Kitsch'N. Or a deep-fried Twinkie (yeesh!) at Swank Frank.

By the way, Hostess officially says the Twinkie has a 25-day shelf life.

If you're up for some nostalgia, here's the 10-year-old "T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project," a set of experiments which dropped Twinkies from buildings, set them on fire, left them in water, etc.

But seriously, when's the last time you ate a Twinkie? When's the last time you even considered it?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Interesting to me, anyway

To the baseball fans out there: You know that 100 mph is the top speed a pitcher can reach with his throws. (The Tigers are fortunate enough to have one guy who can reach that level, Kyle Farnsworth.) But why hasn't that speed ever been surpassed? Sprinters run faster, weightlifters press more weight, etc. Is 100 mph as fast as the human arm can throw a baseball? The short answer is yes, apparently. There's only so much torque a human body can generate before muscles rip away from bones and tendons snap. This article at Slate has a longer, more detailed explanation.

10 years too late

(I've been sitting on this one for a while. Since today looks like a busy day - and a rainy one - it seems like a good time to take it off the shelf.)

During my visit home last month, I stopped by the Work Gallery in Ann Arbor to satisfy a curiosity and check out a piece by Sam, who's responsible for the mucho entertaining Blue Cats and Red Sox blog.

Looking at the exhibit and the rest of the gallery (and picking Sam's brain via e-mail about her work) got me to thinking about decisions I could've made, roads never taken, etc. I don't regret where I am now; I think it's where I'm meant to be. But through my early teens, I wanted to be an artist (more particularly, a cartoonist or illustrator). The University of Michigan School of Art even sent me a recruitment letter when I was in high school. (I actually still have that letter.) I've always kept that "what if" with me, and considered taking classes at Detroit's College for Creative Studies when I met Mis Hooz, who was studying there at the time. I also sent away for information from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ.

Why didn't I do it? Money. Fear. Uncertainty. And surely, a handful of other reasons that aren't occurring to me right now. But a part of me will always wonder what would've happened had I gone to art school. Along with the visit to the Work Gallery, this week-long journal by cartoonist James Strum in Slate brought that "what if" bubbling back to the surface. Strum is the director for a new school in Vermont called The Center for Cartoon Studies, which will focus on "the creation and dissemination of comics, graphic novels and other manifestations of the visual narrative."

Man, if only this place existed 8-10 years ago. I'd have been all over it. I have no idea if I would've been admitted. Probably not, but I would've tried like hell to get in. But hey, who knows? If this writing thing doesn't work out for me, and I can't find a decent-paying regular job, maybe I'll finally give the art thing a try. I'm getting a little too old to chase a dream, though - especially when a different chase brought me to Iowa in the first place. But I like to think that in an alternate universe, I'd be a great #@$%ing cartoonist.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tiger Woods: Joke Killer

This might be the only time I ever write about golf (I'll leave that to John, who does it much better than I would), but I was kind of hoping Tiger Woods would lose The Masters this weekend, so I could post this "Pearls Before Swine" cartoon for some laughs. But I'm running it anyway, because it's funny. And in my world, I like to imagine that Tiger read this before The Masters and that gave him the necessary motivation to win the tournament.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Drunk talk

▪ "Dude, you gotta have a baby. We saved $3,000 on our taxes this year."

▪ "You know a name you never hear? Judas. No one names their kid Judas."

▪ "I think we're gonna check out The Corn Palace this summer."

▪ "Hey, you got here just in time. We're talking about David Foster Wallace."

▪ "You know who I'd #$@%? Martha Stewart."

▪ "I haven't gotten drunk since election night."

▪ "That Blind Justice show - it's #$@%ing horrible! Blind me while the show is on - that'd be justice."

▪ "What is a 'tar baby'?"

▪ "This guy took my class last summer! Hey, I'm teaching again this summer - tell all your friends and get 'em to spend $3,000!"

▪ "So she tells me, 'I think we should #$@% other people.'"

▪ "She has the fattest cat I've ever seen. It's 29 pounds. When it lays down, it's like a frying pan with legs and a tail."

Friday, April 08, 2005

The not-exactly-Live Albom?

As I've written before, Mitch Albom was my writing hero as a kid. I devoured every single column the man wrote for the Detroit Free Press. I've become disillusioned with him, however, as he focused more on TV and radio and his success with Tuesdays With Morrie turned him into more of a preacher than a writer, leading him to produe the truly awful The Five People You Meet in Heaven. In the meantime, he's treated the sports page like more of an obligation while writing columns that read like he mailed them in. (Susannah noted a great example of this last week at Pub of Knowledge.) It now appears he may have been doing just that.

Last Sunday, Albom wrote a column explaining how much two former Michigan State basketball players loved their school. Here's an excerpt:

"In the audience Saturday at the Final Four, among the 46,000 hoop junkies, sales executives, movie producers, parents, contest winners, beer guzzlers, hip-hop stars and lucky locals who knew somebody who knew somebody, there were two former stars for Michigan State, Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson.

They sat in the stands, in their MSU clothing, and rooted on their alma mater. They were teammates in the magical 2000 season, when the Spartans won it all. Both now play in the NBA, Richardson for Golden State, Cleaves for Seattle.

And both made it a point to fly in from wherever they were in their professional schedule just to sit together Saturday. Richardson, who earns millions, flew by private plane. Cleaves, who's on his fourth team in five years, bought a ticket and flew commercial."

Nice story, right? But there's a problem: Cleaves and Richardson weren't at the game. Albom actually wrote his column before Saturday night's MSU-Kentucky game and assumed they'd be in attendance.

Not the end of journalism as we know it, but certainly an embarrassing moment for one of the country's most famous sports columnists. Albom wrote a mea culpa in yesterday's Free Press, apologizing to both his readers and the newspaper for reporting something that didn't really happen. Consequently, the Free Press admitted its mistake in judgment in today's edition.

So is Mitch Albom the new Jayson Blair? (Here's more on Blair from Slate.) I don't think so - especially since Albom wrote a "lighter" piece about a sporting event. But if you're going to strictly interpret journalistic ethics, Albom did fabricate information and play loose with some facts. Right now, Albom's getting attacked in the forums at the Romenesko media blog. Unfortunately, I can't link to specific posts, so you might have to do some scrolling, but here are some highlights:

"This is an egregious ethical lapse. Prophesying the future should be clearly labeled as such. Columnists do not fabricate events or characters and pawn them off as truth. His sports column in question was not satire. Mitch Albom, a long time award winner and best-selling author, should understand these essential ethics better than most."

"Makes you wonder if it was really Tuesdays with Morrie. Maybe it was another day of the week that didn’t scan so well as a book title. Did he see Morrie at all? Or did they just plan on getting together? And what inspirational words would old Morrie say about this mess?"

"How many phony stories can a reporter write before he or she is fired? One? Two? At least five? Ten or more?"

"If Mitch Albom was going to tell us in advance who'd be at the game, what they were wearing and how they got there, he could've at least gone one more small step and told us what the score was gonna be. Woulda saved me some dough."

"Making stuff up is making stuff up, even if you're so sure that you'd bet the mortgage and your first-born that it's gonna happen. I believe if I did that and my name wasn't Mitch Albom, I'd be in some serious doody."

And in a letter to Romenesko, Eric Deggans - an Op-Ed columnist for the St. Petersburg Times - suggests the Free Press needs to punish Albom and his editors more harshly in order to save its credibility as a newspaper.

Wow. I think that's a bit harsh. Is my former idolization of Albom coloring my perception? Maybe, but I've said I don't think Albom is the writer he used to be, and unfortunately, I think this incident proves it. More than anything, Albom's guilty of lazy writing. (And his newspaper is guilty of letting him get away with it.) For someone who's produced some truly great work, this should be really embarrassing.

Hey, you wanna order some Cheerios?

I thought this was an only-in-New-York story: Yesterday's New York Times had an article about the growing popularity of a service called FreshDirect. Customers just log on, order what they want from the site, and voila - groceries are delivered right to their doorstep in cardboard box. Last year, the service generated $100 million in sales - which actually isn't that hard to believe. On my several visits to New York, I sometimes wondered where the hell people get their groceries. In Brooklyn, my friend's apartment is surrounded largely by bodegas, butcher shops, bars, and pizzerias. There are places where you can pick up, say, some apples. But the selection isn't exactly fresh off the tree. After coming home, I never appreciated my neighborhood grocery store more. But maybe I'm just a guy who couldn't hack the big city.

However, online grocery shopping is becoming popular in other cities around the country. The article also cites which serves the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, in the Northeast, and in California.

But here's the thing that made me wonder if I live in a different world from other people:

"Few people anywhere seem to enjoy grocery shopping. In a 2004 national survey of happiness among women published in Science magazine, grocery shopping ranked 27th of 28 daily activities, beating out only cleaning."

Apparently, I'm a freak. I actually like grocery shopping. I like cruising up and down brightly lit aisles and buying food for my apartment while listening to bad pop music piped through loudspeakers (and interrupted by the occasional "Hey, Campbell's Soup is 2 for $3.00 this week!" promotions). Maybe it's just that I enjoy sniffing and squeezing fruit. Am I the only one? (And I mean grocery shopping, not molesting oranges and mangoes.)

Okay, one thing I don't like about grocery shopping: when the hell did someone decide that sitting in that basket at the back of a cart wasn't enough for kids? Now, a bunch of carts have those stupid, giant red toy cars attached to the front and take up the entire #$@%ing aisle. This leads brats to yell "HONK! HONK!" at me while I'm looking at salad dressings and crying at their mommies because the cart's not moving when they want it to. It's not cute, parents. If your little $#!+cakes want to pretend they're driving, I should be able to give them the total experience and flip them off.

Maybe the online shoppers have the right idea. Two or three encounters with hyperactive brats with Hot Wheels carts, and I'm ready to order my $#!+ from a computer too. Just make sure those apples aren't bruised, man.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Tip of the cap

©2005 NEA, Inc.

While watching the Yankees and Red Sox yesterday on ESPN (What the hell happened to you, Mariano Rivera?), it was brought to my attention that I owe the Red Sox a debt of gratitude. You see, their World Series victory last fall inspired me to start this blog, since I was sure the world would soon be ending. (Here's that very first entry. It's so young, so innocent. I had no idea what the @#$% I was doing. Some of you may think I still don't have a clue.)

So I tip my cap to you, Boston Red Sox. I raise a glass in your honor, as well. Thanks for inspiring me.

I just hope your fans can make it through this season. In yesterday's Boston Globe - before the victory over the Yankees - Dan Shaughnessy's column was titled "Still Too Early to Panic." Two games (losses) into the season. Gotta love that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pierced eyeglasses?

When it's humid, and I'm sweaty, I get frustrated with my glasses sliding down my nose (it doesn't happen often with my current pair, but my sunglasses get slide-happy), but I've never once thought, "Hey, what if I pierced the bridge of my glasses through the bridge of my nose? Then they'd never slide off!" But maybe that's why I'm just sitting back, writing about stuff, instead of making it happen, like James Sooy.

Sooy has developed a piercing - a 1-inch bar through the bridge of the nose - that can hold up a pair of eyeglasses. He's hoping the idea will catch on with others looking to break free from the tyranny of normal eyeglass wear. (You can find out more at Sooy's website.)

copyright jamessooy 2005

Personally, this isn't going to work for me. I need the drama that pulling off my eyeglasses and rubbing my eyes occasionally provides. And if I have to worry about ripping off my nose when taking off my glasses, well, that's not a concern I need to add to my normal daily list. Plus, I think I'm inching close to that age where I'm officially too old to get anything else pierced.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Open letter to Bud Selig

Dear Mr. Commissioner of Major League Baseball,

I appreciate you taking the time to read this, as I realize you are an extremely busy man. As the Major League Baseball season begins, I'm sure you have plenty of duties that require your attention, such as throwing out a ceremonial first pitch or two, posing for photos with the moneybags owners who pay your salary, checking if those grass fields are cut to an appropriate length, and making sure all those hot dogs are cooked to their proper temperature. I also understand that you have many steroid test results to check. (Thank you, by the way, for nailing Alex Sanchez. Running out outlaws like this guy, whose four career home runs are surely attributable to his use of performance-enhancing drugs, maintains the integrity of our beloved game.)

But my true reason for writing this letter is to ask if you would consider ending the 2005 baseball season, after just one day. I realize this could be problematic, but please hear me out. You see, yesterday was a wonderful day for Detroit Tigers fans. Opening day was played under beautiful spring weather, and our team laid a serious ass-kicking smackdown on the Kansas City Royals. The score was Tigers 11, Royals 2. Our dreadlocked warrior, Dmitri Young, hit three home runs - one of only three men to achieve such a feat on Opening Day. And our baby-faced golden boy, Jeremy Bonderman, allowed only one run and seven hits. Mr. Selig, you are a smart man, so surely you see where I'm going with this. It can't possibly get better for the Tigers and their fans. Playing the remaining 161 games on the schedule would only lead to inevitable disappointment. I mean, we could, like, lose a game. Or have crappy weather.

Of course, this might deprive Tigers fans of other potential pleasures, such as enjoying a game on a warm summer night, watching Dmitri Young hit the 486 home runs he's currently on pace to collect, or even winning the World Series, which you would surely agree looks like a certainty at this point in the season.

I realize such a decision might cause other problems. For instance, there are currently 11 teams with the same 1-0 record. And eight teams haven't begun their seasons yet. But we know you like ties, as you showed in the 2002 All-Star Game. And as I said before, you are a smart man. Look at the innovations you've brought to fruition, such as interleague play and an extra round of playoff series. You helped avoid a labor dispute, something none of your predecessors managed. And you allowed the winner of future All-Star Games to receive home-field advantage in the World Series. Well, they can't all be gems. That idea was just dumb. No offense. But I hope you see my point: You are a man who gets things done, who is unafraid to enact change, regardless of whether or not it's popular with everyone.

And this decision won't be popular with the other 29 Major League Baseball teams and their fans. I know that. You know that. But I also know you like us. Hell, you awarded Detroit the 2005 All-Star Game, even though hardly anyone wants to be in Detroit in July. And we're a solid, blue-collar, Midwestern town, just like your hometown of Milwaukee. You can give one of those other teams a shot next year, sir. Or, if you decide this didn't quite work out, play the full season next time. But let's see how it would work this year. You're a man of vision, one who would surely enjoy having a summer vacation for the first time in who-knows-how-many-years. Mr. Selig, you can make this happen. The fans of Detroit need you right now. Other cities will fall in line when they see what you can do for a city and a populace in need. And if they don't, contract 'em. Who needs the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, anyway?

Please e-mail or call me as soon as you read this. I'm not a difficult man to reach. But if you have to call me tonight, I'd prefer if you not call while Scrubs is on. Thank you for your time, sir. Go Tigers.

Sincerely, Ian D. Casselberry

Monday, April 04, 2005

The official sign of Spring

"I see great things in baseball. It's our game -- the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us."

-- Walt Whitman

Today is Opening Day in Major League Baseball. (Well, technically, baseball season began last night with the Yankees-Red Sox game.) And thank you to ESPN2 for showing the Detroit Tigers-Kansas City Royals game this afternoon. I'll tape the game and have a little Opening Day party with a beer and can of Spaghetti-O's tonight after class. I'm really excited about this year's team, though my mind is warning me not to get my hopes up.

Buster Olney of has ranked the 30 major league teams, a la college football. The Tigers are #19 on the list, which sounds about right. As much as I'd like to think otherwise, the 18 teams above them are probably better, give or take a couple.

Check out the Detroit Tiger Weblog for a season preview (along with a terrific interview with former Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell). Tigers Central and Most Valuable Network also have good looks at the 2005 team.

And here are the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News baseball previews. (I'm hoping my dad picks up the actual newspaper copies for me today.) Play ball, my friends - play ball.

Dirty Sanchez?

Forgive the title. I couldn't resist. I bet I won't be the only one who uses it. A few others may have already beaten me. (And if you don't know what a "dirty Sanchez" is, ask someone else. Trust me, it's a great icebreaker.)

He's the first - but will he be the last?

Former Detroit Tigers outfielder Alex Sanchez (now with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) became the first player suspended under Major League Baseball's new steroid policy yesterday. Sanchez's penalty as a first-time offender is a 10-day suspension. He plans to fight the ban, however, insisting that he only takes "multivitamins, protein shakes, muscle relaxants," "something to give me energy, put a little muscle on my body."

I can't find the exact quote or article (which is driving me nuts at the moment), but over the weekend, Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees said the first player caught using steroids would likely find his major league career over. So we'll see what happens to Sanchez now that he's wearing the scarlet "S." He'll have the stink of embarrassment on him, but since he's not a big home run hitter and doesn't have numbers you can call into question, I have a feeling we'll see him playing again.

Is it possible that the Tigers dismissed Sanchez because of steroid use, perhaps anticipating his suspension? (I have no idea if such a move would be allowed under baseball's labor agreement.) The timing of his release three weeks ago seemed curious, though the Tigers had made no secret of the fact they wanted to replace him in centerfield because of his impatience as a hitter, ineptness in the field, and his salary. Hopefully, that question will come up in the Detroit (and national) press over the next few days.

So does this kill the idea that taking steroids makes a player an automatic superstar? Hell, as a Tigers fan, I would've liked to see Sanchez take more of the juice.

Here's Buster Olney's take at As you might imagine, plenty of blogs also have something to say on the subject. Two that caught my eye: Chris Blanchard's conspiratorial angle was interesting, while listerplus has doubts, based on Sanchez's smaller physique and lack of power numbers.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The lost hour

And with less time today, here's more than you probably ever wanted to know about Daylight Saving Time. (For example, it's "saving," not "savings." Did you know that? Did you care?)

Saturday, April 02, 2005

To the cashier at Hy-Vee...

It's very possible I overreacted last night when, in April Fool's Day spirit, you told me I had "insufficient funds" while trying to use my check card. I apologize and hope it won't cost you too much to sew your head back on.

But I will drive back to Iowa City next year on April 1 to get you back. I want you to know that.

A cry for help?

I was just "rocking out" in my apartment to Rick Springfield's "I've Done Everything for You." But it wasn't my fault. It was on the radio. (Damn you, 96.5!)

I just lost all my cool points for April, didn't I? Dang.

The debut of "Dear Ian"

Matt posted this in the comments section of my last entry (veering horribly off-topic - you know better, Matthew), but I thought more people might see his question if I put it in a new post. Plus, I thought it might re-ignite the tipping debate, which got pretty interesting when I originally broached the topic. So here it is. Does our friend have a legitimate beef? Is he sticking it to the man? Should he go pick his food up instead of having it delivered?

A while back we were discussing tipping etiquitte, and I have a dilema. Here's the deal-- the chinese place I buy food from charges a $2.50 delivery fee for bringing my food to me. Now, when i first started ordering i was clueless, so i was giving the guy a $2 tip or so on my order... but then i figured i was paying an extra $4.50 on a $20 bill, and that seemed nutty to me. So the next time I called, I asked if the drivers get 100% of the fee, and the lady said yes. So ever since then, I haven't been tipping if the $2.50 fee is more than 15% of my total bill. if my bill is higher, then i tip extra to bring it up. Am i wrong with this? I don't want people spitting in my food, but I also dont want to pay more than i should.

Friday, April 01, 2005

An important milestone?

Has it already been a year since Air America Radio went on the air? (And are they playing an April Fool's joke on their listeners by adding Jerry Springer to their daily line-up?) On Sunday, the New York Times profiled Janeane Garofalo, who seems comfortable with her career change to a political pundit. (I miss you in the movies, Janeane.) And last night, HBO ran a documentary, titled Left of the Dial, which followed Air America's struggles to get on - and stay on - the air. Some painful moments were captured on film, which made for an entertaining show.

I don't know how many of you have ever listened to the network, since it still isn't available in that many cities. It's still not available in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area, which sort of baffles me. We're a liberal college town, man. We'd eat that stuff up. Well, maybe. But it's available in Charleston, SC, for Christ's sake. If they can get it in the heart of conservative country, where the states are seriously red, where I was referred to as a "yankee," then why can't I get me some "progressive" talk radio out here?

The debut of a liberal radio network, the idea of chipping away at the right-wing dominance of the radio airwaves excited me, and I tuned in via streaming audio. But once I heard Randi Rhodes scream at Ralph Nader for getting involved in the election, I remembered that political talk radio, regardless of political sensibility, is still largely yelling and bloviating.

But I tune in semi-regularly to Al Franken's show when I'm near a computer, mostly because it has some damn funny moments (I could listen to Al imitate Rush Limbaugh every day), and hearing someone echo your political thoughts and beliefs does have its appeal. (Hopefully, I'll be able to pick it up on an actual radio in the next city I live in.)

So does one year on the air represent a triumph of sorts for Air America Radio? Considering the financial troubles they've dealt with, the answer is probably yes. Has it made a dent in the conservative dominance of talk radio? Only people who study Arbitron ratings and the like know for certain. I suppose progress has to be measured in baby steps in this case. Air America wasn't going to change the world in a matter of months. After all, look who got re-elected to the White House.

Back among the living

Nothing will shake you out of nursing your near-hangover in the morning like people working on your roof. Geez-us. Last Friday, it was banging below me. This morning, it was banging, sanding, paving and who knows what the else above me. It sounded like someone was about to open up a large hole directly over my bed.

I tried to think of a good April Fool's joke, like writing that Spike TV had decided to hire me to develop a sequel to Invasion Iowa after reading my rant about it. But you guys are smarter than that. Big ups to Raging Red, however, who threw caution to the wind and stomped on the hearts of her readers. What a cruel carrot-topped vixen she is.

There's usually a surprise on the comics page every April Fool's Day. Thanks to Darby Conley (Get Fuzzy) and Stephen Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) for not disappointing me.

Your regularly scheduled blog...

... might be a few hours late today. No April Fool's joke. I'm not clever enough for one of those (especially at 2:30 am). No, Uncle Ian had himself quite a few pops at the bar and anticipates needing to sleep it off. Thank you and good night.

(Could anyone else go for a microwave burrito right now?)