Monday, August 17, 2009

We're Moving Out and Moving On

Okay, here we go. I've had this in mind for a couple of months now, but procrastination (and baseball blogging) kept putting it off. I'm going to be moving El Bloggo from Blogger over to Squarespace.

I've been playing with their platform for most of the summer, and like all the toys they have to play with. I also like that I'll be able to create more of an actual website where I can archive some of my past writing.

For now, it'll be mostly a blog (which may or may not be a good idea, depending on who stops by). But once my days and nights aren't occupied by the Detroit Tigers, I'll see what I can really do with the site.

IanCasselberry.com is a bit narcissistic, I realize, and it's not as clever (or curious) as "Fried Rice Thoughts." Maybe I'll come up with something a little more creative down the line.

I don't plan to take this site down; there's a lot here that I'm proud of. But all of the old posts will also be archived over at the new place.

Thanks to everyone who has followed this blog over the past four years. I know it's not what it once was, when I gave this my full attention. But I hope you'll follow me over to the new site (and update your bookmarks, blogrolls, or RSS feeds accordingly, naturally), which I'll try my best to keep current (especially since I'll be paying for it now).

So please follow me over to IanCasselberry.com. (Here's the new RSS feed, too.) Hopefully, I can keep you interested and entertained enough to check it out regularly.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Quick Tigers Talk with SNY.tv

I called in for a quickie chat with SNY.tv's "NY Baseball Today" this afternoon to preview the Tigers before this weekend's series with the Yankees.  Host Ted Berg and I discussed Detroit's starting rotation, especially the one guy baseball fans outside Detroit and Toledo probably don't know much about.



So who has the sexier phone voice, me or Talking Chop's Martin Gandy?

Thanks to Ted and Jeff Goldman for inviting me onto the broadcast.  It was fun to talk with them.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Coolest Trailer of the Summer?

I caught this trailer before The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 a couple of weeks ago, and I think it's the best one I've seen this year. It was certainly the biggest surprise. To me, nothing makes a better trailer than one that makes you think you're to going to see one movie, then flips you over by the end.



For the first few minutes I was thinking, "Why is a trailer for a documentary showing before a big summer action movie? Did I go into the wrong theater?"

But a new trailer for District 9 has come out since then, the movie is about a month away from and maybe you've seen more of the viral advertising than I have and weren't as surprised. I just enjoyed being genuinely fooled for a few minutes (and am always excited by potentially good sci-fi flicks).

(The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 was pretty good, by the way. Even if John Travolta can't help but overact whenever he plays the bad guy. The dialogue was especially good, which it had to be, since that's kind of the entire movie. But I want to watch the original, which is now available on Hulu.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Vote Brandon Inge to the All-Star Game!

Okay, we've been lazy and cross-posting Detroit Tigers stuff here a bit too often recently. But since I have this other forum, in addition to Bless You Boys, I'd like to take advantage of it. Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge is one of five candidates for the last spot on the American League All-Star team, which is determined by online voting.

Inge has experienced a resurgent season, with a .269/.361/.513 average, and his 19 home runs are tied for the fourth-highest total in the AL. Combine those numbers with his usual stellar defense at third base, and you have arguably the Tigers' most valuable player this season and the second-best third baseman in the league.

Plus, he was nice to my mom back in February. How could you not vote for a guy like that?

Get Brandon Inge to the All-Star Game! Here's your ballot.



Vote often! Vote Inge!

And hopefully, we'll figure out just what we're going to do with this blog within the next couple of weeks. I've been piddling around too much over the past month.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Week in Tigers Baseball Roundtable

West coast start times for sporting events are kind of a killer for anyone on a regular daytime schedule, so if you're craving some Detroit Tigers talk around the time they'd be playing in the eastern time zone, a few Tigers bloggers might be able to help you out with that. Motor City Bengals will host a live roundtable discussion beginning at 7 p.m. EST tonight.

Panelists scheduled to join host Joe Dexter include J. Ellet from Eye of the Tigers, John from Tiger Geist, Greg from Where Have You Gone, Johnny Grubb and... me.

The show, called This Week in Tigers Baseball, can be heard through USTREAM. And if you can't listen to the live stream, a podcast will be available shortly thereafter. We'll be done in plenty of time before tonight's Tigers-A's game.

You can find the show here, and I believe you can submit questions and comments via Twitter through the podcast's main page. We hope you can tune in.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Talking Tigers on the Radio!

Yesterday, I appeared on WSGW (790 AM) in Saginaw to chat with our old friend Pat Johnston about the suddenly resurgent Detroit Tigers.  (You might remember Pat had me on his old sports talk show a couple of times during the winter.)

Of course, the Tigers' recent play is a timely story, but I'm betting Pat also wanted a break from the news of the day (yesterday morning, that was Gov. Mark Sanford's indiscretions). A winning local baseball team is like opening the window to bring in a breeze.

So just how are these Tigers winning these ballgames?  Who's been a surprise?  Who's been disappointing?  That's mostly what Pat and I talked about, along with discussing what improvements they could make in the weeks to come as they make what appears to be a solid playoff run.

Thanks again to Pat for inviting me onto the radio again.  I always enjoy talking to him.  (And I apologize for knocking him off balance with one of my comments during our conversation.

You can listen to an embedded audio clip below or download the file from the accompanying link.



WSGW_062509

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barack Obama, Insect Assassin

For those who haven't seen this, do not interrupt Barack Obama when he's talking. The President of the United States will swat you into oblivion, m'er-f'er.



Coooollld blooooooded!

I highly doubt CNBC's John Harwood dared attempt any tough follow-up questions after that display. Notice him trying to compliment the President and get on his good side, lest he also find himself crushed with a smack of the hand.

Here's The Daily Show's take on it, in which Jon Stewart wonders if Obama has one of those "Terminator targeting systems" in his eyes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Talking Tigers on RBI Radio

I'm a few days late in posting this, but if you need something to listen to this afternoon or evening, and have about 24 minutes to kill, here's some audio from my appearance on RBI Radio last Thursday night.  Basically, we had a "State of the Detroit Tigers" discussion up to this point of the season.  No rants about Dontrelle Willis's eight-walk performance over the weekend, since we recorded before the Tigers-Pirates series.)

If you want to hear the whole show, you can listen via streaming audio at the RBI Radio home page or through TalkShoe.com.  Of course, you can also download the podcast from the link at the bottom of this post.  (Boy, I love listening to myself talk when "jogging" on the treadmill.)

Thanks to Joey H. for inviting me onto the show.  It's always fun talking to him. And check out RBI Radio when you get a chance.  (He's sick at the moment - which I'm pretty sure I had nothing to do with - so you can catch up on old shows for now.)



RBIradio_061109

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Moments Are Born From Great Opportunity

I'm sure Mike Babcock's pre-game speech to his Detroit Red Wings before tonight's Game 7 with the Pittsburgh Penguins was pretty good. But I'm still hoping it went something like this:



GO WINGS! Keep the Cup in Detroit!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

One Thing I Like About Getting Older...


When you're a kid, you never have time for the birthday cards that come with the presents.

Couldn't be less interested. Can't toss 'em aside fast enough. You read them because your parents reminded you to (or because you hope there's money in there).

But now that I'm older, I think I like the cards more.

(Don't get me wrong; a thoughtful present always hits the sweet spot. Or a really good meal.)

You know who you are. Thanks and love to each of you.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Familiarity in the Year 2009


Clearly, we live in a new day and age when conversations like the one I had earlier today at Borders can take place.

Bookseller: [looks at my credit card, looks at me, squints] Is your name familiar to me?

Me: Um... Ian Casselberry?

[Bookseller shakes her head slightly.]

Me: Do we know each other? [I have never seen this woman in my life.] I... really don't know how to respond to that.

Bookseller: [laughs] I'm sorry. That is a weird question.

Me: Yeah.

Bookseller: Are you Facebook friends with [former co-worker of mine]?

Me: Yes!

Bookseller: Okay.

And that was it, folks. Nowhere we could really go from there, apparently. Signed the credit card receipt, took my bag, headed out the door, and walked through the parking lot in a daze, pondering what this life and culture has become in a very short time.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Today's Photo - 06/03/09

I meant to post this earlier today, but a hilarious sidelight to last night's Tigers-Red Sox game was a wild squirrel chase. Unfortunately for Tigers fans, it was really the only entertainment of the evening.

The squirrel spent so much energy eluding the Comerica Park groundskeepers - running from one end of the outfield to the other, back to the infield, out to the bullpen - that the poor varmint eventually had to take a break. Here's a screen shot from the FOX Sports Detroit broadcast:


I'm not sure I've ever looked that relaxed in my life, though I've certainly tried.

You can read the whole story at BlessYouBoys.com, where we've also posted video of the chase.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Got to Get This into My Life

I'm not a gamer (mostly for my own good), though I occasionally feel pangs of interest for playing Rock Band. The intro for The Beatles Rock Band doesn't necessarily make me want to run out to Best Buy and pick up the whole package. But damn, it looks really cool.



Is there any chance this could be made into a full DVD someday? (Or how about an IMAX film?) Just produce animated films for every song in the Beatles catalog. That wouldn't be too gargantuan a task, would it?

Monday, June 01, 2009

There Will Be Blog... Soon

Thanks to those who have been stopping by to check for fresh content. I'm sure you've become tired of looking at a picture of my father for the past couple of weeks, regardless of its significance to me.

Those who know me - especially fellow bloggers - know I despise "Sorry for the lack of posts recently; life has gotten in the way" lameness, so I'm not going to subject you to that. And that wouldn't be true, anyway. Life hasn't gotten in the way. (Although perhaps I've gotten in my own way.)

But I am trying to figure out what I want to do with this blog next. With today being June 1, I was hoping to have some answers with a fresh page on the calendar, but this is taking longer than I thought it might. I'll get it together, though, because I take this stuff seriously. I haven't even written about Star Trek, for Spock's sake, and I loved that movie.

So I appreciate your patience, and intend to have something worth your time and attention up soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this commercial as much as I do:



That little girl cracks me up!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009



Monday, May 18, 2009

Bring Back Morgan Freeman as Dracula!

I forget if it's my mother or Ms. Hooz (or someone else entirely), but someone didn't believe me when I said that Morgan Freeman used to be on The Electric Company. Thanks to YouTube, I can now support that assertion. (Oh, Wikipedia mentions it, too.)



This might actually be a better clip, but there's no bath. Or singing.

(via Cinematical)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

When You Can't Figure Out What Mom's Talking About

I'm sure plenty of other people thought the same thing when they saw this on SNL last night, but this fits my mother so well. (And thus, it makes a perfect Mother's Day post.)



The only thing the Mom Translator is missing to make it perfect for Cecilia Casselberry would be a mental telepathy reader for those instances where Mom thinks I can figure out who she's talking about just by saying, "You know that woman... she's on the show you watched that one time... married to that actor."

(It's even worse when it comes to politicians: "He's either a Congressman or Senator... I think he's a Democrat, but he may be a Republican.")

Happy Mother's Day to you, Mom. I thank you for everything, and I love you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Today's Photo - 04/22/09


While on my morning "jog," I had to take a picture of this lonely postal truck, perhaps enjoying a moment of solitude, or just stretching out among all of the vast space now available at the almost totally abandoned, now in foreclosure, Georgetown Mall on Packard in Ann Arbor.

That used to be a Rite-Aid behind where the truck is parked. That parking lot used to have a hell of lot more cars in it. And the surrounding neighborhood used to have a place to pick up their pharmaceuticals, a postal counter, a pizza place, a tailor/seamstress, a hair salon, and an antiques shop. Kids who grew up nearby, such as myself, found a place to hang out as adolescents, or a place to work as they got a bit older.

Now, all that's left is a Kroger that's probably on life support, and a giant asphalt-covered, pothole-riddled, weed-infested eyesore.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

'If You Build It, He Will Come'? Well...

With today being the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of Field of Dreams, I thought this might be the time to confront one of my personal demons and make a confession "in print."

No, it's not that I didn't see the movie. Nothing like that. I've seen it several times. And if I'm flipping through channels and notice it's on, I'll watch. So I enjoy it, too. That's not what I'm confessing. The end made me cry like I was hormonal. "You wanna have a catch?" hit all those father-son issues - which I've always been a sucker for - right in the chest.

What I'm admitting today is this: I lived in Iowa for two years, and never once visited the actual "Field of Dreams."



I know, Shoeless Joe, I know. I can't explain it, either.

Iowa City is only a 90-minute drive from Dyersville, where the field is. (If my mother is reading this, it's actually a two-hour drive. Ahem.) And my two years at the University of Iowa included spending a summer there. Yes, I was taking classes the whole time (with a pretty heavy course load - really), but I couldn't have devoted a Friday or Saturday (or the random Tuesday) to making a trip?

However, I will point out that I did attend a lecture by the film's director, Phil Alden Robinson, when he visited campus, back in 2004 (probably to commemorate the movie's 15th anniversary). Does that take me off the hook at all? No, I know it's not enough.

Maybe the issue was that I would've visited Dyersville by myself, and thus wouldn't have been able to play catch with anyone. That may have led to some awkward situations.

"Excuse me, kid - can I borrow your dad for a bit? We'll be back in a half hour. Go play in the corn. I think I saw Lou Gehrig's ghost over there. Or maybe it's the dude who played Costner's dad, signing autographs. Oh, and I'm gonna need your mitt, too.

Okay, 'Dad,' I think we're about the same age, but let's have a catch."


If I had to name two things in this life that I truly love, baseball and movies would both be on the list. Yet I have to look at myself in the mirror each summer and try to deny the truth. When I watch Field of Dreams now, maybe those tears signify something else entirely.



"If you build it, he will come"? Apparently, the concept was lost on me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today's Photo - 04/20/09


I got to meet a rock star last night! Well, I doubt Brian Vander Ark would be comfortable with that label. Nor would I use it, myself. I just tried to get your attention. (And perhaps distract you from the poor picture.)

Anyway, his show at The Ark last night was tremendously enjoyable. After a rough week that frequently put me in a bad mood, it was nice to just sit back and hear some good music. Vander Ark's lyrics make it easy to visualize his stories and escape for a couple of hours. Thanks to Rob (who's on the right of the photo) for inviting me to be his plus one, and introducing me to the headliner of the evening.

Skeet Football, Starring Matthew Stafford

Just in case you missed it (as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is on, well, late), the possible (likely) first overall pick in Saturday's NFL Draft appeared on Jimmy Fallon's show Thursday night. For all those Detroit Lions fans wondering what sort of player they might be getting as of approximately 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, Matthew Stafford is lethal at skeet shooting with footballs.



That could be our quarterback, Detroit. (Though I'm among those who hope the Lions draft an offensive tackle, even though they really, really need a stud quarterback.)

The Lions are formally announcing their new logo and uniforms today (which have been the worst-kept secret in Detroit sports over the past few weeks). But maybe they should put a plate on the front of the jersey instead. Stafford would hit Calvin Johnson between the numbers every time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Photo - 04/19/09


Quite the maƮtre d' they have at Knight's Restaurant in Ann Arbor. He didn't seem too interested in accepting a tip for the shiny armor, though.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Best Ad for Cotton Fabric Ever?



Here's more, if you're really interested.

(via /Film)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Wonder of the One-Year Wonder

[The following post ran earlier today at Bless You Boys.]

Like many in the Tigersosphere (and baseball blogosphere) writing about Mark Fidrych over the past 24 hours, I didn't get a chance to see him play.  Yet I almost feel as if I did, because The Bird was such an integral part of the baseball history and culture in Detroit.  I was often amazed by how enthusiastically people remembered him.  And as I said in today's Morning Prowl, whenever I saw Fidrych in interviews, it struck me how genuinely grateful he was for that season of glory in the major leagues, instead of bitter or remorseful.

My father became less of a fan as he got older, but it was obvious Fidrych meant something to him.  He'd tell me all about him during our first trips to Tiger Stadium, enough that I immediately associated him with the Tigers, though his career had ended years before I ever went to a ballgame.

And that's what impresses me as I'm reading about Fidrych today, hearing stories on the radio, and watching footage on television.  How many players with a career as short as Fidrych's - even though that rookie season (19-9, 2.34 ERA) was incredible - leave such a deep, lasting footprint on a fanbase?  On a sport?  As Joe Murray posted on Twitter, the Tigers have had plenty of other one-year wonders throughout their history.  But none of them are remembered as fondly or vividly as Mark Fidrych.

Here's a memory I can share, however, if you'll indulge me:

I had a short career myself, as a sportswriter.  And while working at Motor City Sports (now a website, under new ownership), a recurring assignment of mine was to write a feature on the 30th anniversary of Fidrych's rookie season.  During the staff meeting, another writer offered to help me out, as he had a bunch of Fidrych stuff in his basement.  I kind of got the feeling he really wanted the gig.  And I briefly thought maybe he should get it, as he seemed to know more about The Bird than I did.  But I wanted the challenge.  And I wanted the chance to write about a player that held such a special meaning in Tiger Town.

Unfortunately, it never quite came together.  We kept pushing the article back, as space was needed for more "timely" articles, either previews of upcoming seasons, or features that maybe didn't need quite as much lead time.  (Plus, the publication schedule was kind of spotty, and issues were put down here and there.)  Finally, just when it seemed like we might get the article in for an issue in the fall, I got a call from my editor.

"Did you see today's Free Press?" he said.  Not yet.  Why?

Michael Rosenberg had written a 30th anniversary feature on Fidrych for the paper.  And all I could do was laugh.  Of course that was going to happen.  He was Michael Rosenberg, writing for the Detroit Free Press.  I was just some wanna-be, writing for a start-up magazine that ended up folding less than a year later.  Even if we'd had a chance to run a similar article, and just waited too long, it wasn't going to be seen by anywhere near as many people as Rosenberg's.

Besides, after reading the article, I was kind of relieved.  Because my piece wouldn't have been as good.  I can't kid myself.  Ultimately, I was happy to just enjoy the story as a fan, rather than having it become work.

What I remember most from that entire process, however, is how easy it was to get ahold of Fidrych.  I was used to going through the team for things like that, and figured I'd have to get some contact information from the Tigers.  Plus, I thought it might seem more "legit" working through a more official channel.  As it turns out, however, I didn't have to go to such trouble.  Fidrych was in the phone book.  Maybe that's not as unusual as I'm making it out to be.  But to me, it sort of fits right in with his "normal guy"  persona (I put that in quotes, because he's a bit more eccentric).  Sure, call me up.  We can chat.

Now, I kind of wish I'd pushed a little harder on that one.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Loser of Fun, Winner of Life!

I'm a couple of days late with this, as the opening week of baseball season has swamped me. But as awful as Monday night was, from a sports standpoint - with the Tigers losing their opener, 9-5, and Michigan State losing the NCAA basketball championship game (to North Carolina!), 89-72 (and the game wasn't even that close) - there was a little ray of sunshine among all the clouds.

I won a NCAA tournament bracket! To be more specific, I won the bracket put together by Dan Levy and his On the DL podcast. You can view the final standings here, though I believe you need to be registered with CBSsports.com to view the page. I can't remember if I've ever won a bracket, though I recall coming close back in high school (and actually nabbing some prize money).

The bittersweet irony of the win, of course, is that the result that gave me the victory was the exact opposite of the outcome I was rooting for. The total surprise of it all is that I had written myself off, as I was way down toward the bottom of the standings after the third round of the tournament. As Dan pointed out on Tuesday's podcast, I came out of nowhere to steal the win. Getting the final two teams right (and, of course, the champion) will do that, I suppose.

And here I thought MSU was kind of a homer pick (while raising the flag for the Big Ten conference). However, I did think - as I said to several of my friends - that coach Tom Izzo does not waste a team. He knows how to coach through the postseason tournament, but if he has the talent and experience on his roster to win, they will get there. This year's run proved that yet again. MSU just happened to run into the best team in college basketball at the end.

Thanks to Dan for running the bracket for his listeners (and if you're a sports fan, you really should be listening to On the DL) and for being good to me as a sports blogger. What a pleasant surprise this has been.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I would like to dance.



Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Twist Ending: Jordan Honored in Detroit

Who was that tall gentleman being honored for his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame during halftime of last night's national championship game in Detroit? Why, it was Michael Jordan! Maybe you've heard of the guy.


Pardon the term, but talk about a slam dunk. Is there any athlete in any sport worthy of such an honor more than Jordan? How long do you think the selection committee took to debate that one?

But what makes me want to post a short note about this is that it seems deliciously ironic that Jordan was recognized in Detroit, perhaps the one NBA city that, as my friend Big Al said on Twitter, doesn't universally worship him as a basketball deity. The rivalry between Jordan's Chicago Bulls and our Detroit Pistons was just too fierce, and I could be wrong about this, but I think some hard feelings still exist (though it's been quite a while now).

I'd also like to think that Jordan appreciated the irony of being honored in Detroit, as those knock-down, drag-out playoff series versus the Pistons truly forged him into the championship player he's now known as. Of course, Jordan was already a phenomenal talent. Maybe the best ever. But until he figured how to beat Detroit, he wasn't going to win it all. That rite of passage - something that used to be a standard in the NBA - is an important part of his legacy.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Happy Best Sports Day of the Year!

Opening Day in baseball? College basketball's National Championship game tonight? The first Monday in April is the best sports day of the year. If only we were all allowed the day off today.

Normally, I would say the only thing to make this better locally would be for the Tigers to begin the season at home today, instead of tonight in Toronto. But with today's snow, baseball in Detroit would be a soggy bummer and probably postponed.

Besides, Michigan State playing at Ford Field (right next to Comerica Park) for the national championship is a more than suitable replacement. Growing up in Ann Arbor (and later studying at Iowa), I can't act like I'm a huge Spartans fan (though I did attend MSU for one year). But MSU certainly represents our state tonight. They're also a decided underdog, which is always more fun to root for. (And if they can beat a school from the south, it'd be that much sweeter. That's kind of my own personal issue, though.)

Between the Tigers playing at 7 p.m. and MSU tipping off after 9 p.m., it's going to be a fun night. Of course, it'll be even better if both teams end the evening victorious. (There's a bit more at stake for MSU tonight, however.) Oh, this will be glorious.

Today's Photo - 04/06/09


You know, I'm always the guy who says there's going to be one more snowfall. In response, I usually get, "Why don't you just enjoy Spring?"

Yeah, I'll get to that, Sunshine. As soon as my back stops aching from the wet, heavy sludge I had to push off my driveway this morning.

This will not, however, harsh my Baseball Opening Day mellow. More on that later.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Myth of the Fifth Third Burger Continues to Grow

Perhaps you remember our post last week about the massive Fifth Third Burger that the West Michigan Whitecaps will be offering at its ballpark this season. Last week, CNBC's Darren Rovell sampled it, but when I found out about someone else who had actually attempted to eat the thing, I wanted to talk to him.

You can read my interview with XM Radio's Casey Stern over at Bless You Boys.


Oh, and just because, here's Padma eating a big burger of her own.

(photo via Big League Stew)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Today's Photo - 04/02/09


My first baseball game of the season: the University of Michigan hosting Oakland University yesterday. It ended up being more about endurance than enjoyment, as the game lasted four hours with the temperature steadily dropping amidst consistently strong winds. U-M finally won, 14-13. Here's the Ann Arbor News recap.

I don't know why the hell this photo is so blurry. Dammit.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Continuing Death of Newspapers Hits Home

So I'm a week behind on this, but after picking up a Sunday edition of the Ann Arbor News yesterday, I remembered that I hadn't written anything about the paper shutting down as of July. Considering that I'm both an Ann Arbor resident who loves (or used to love) newspapers, that felt like an oversight.

What was surprising about the news was how surprising it still felt when it was actually announced. Anyone reading this who's picked up a copy of the A2 News lately saw this coming. That newspaper is but a shell of what it once was, the paper most of us grew up with and developed an affection for. And the decline has been steady for years.

The local arts coverage disappeared almost a decade ago. Reading syndicated film reviews in a town that supposedly covets quality cinema was incredibly disheartening. The paper also used to run music reviews and columns from writers that had a feel for what readers were listening to. They actually went to concerts and interviewed performers before they came to town. But those articles have been gone for a long time, too.

Even the sports page - which with the University of Michigan athletic program to cover would seemingly be the backbone of the newspaper - had dwindled to a near pamphlet over the past couple of years, with less than a handful of full-time reporters on staff. And this was a sports department that provided a springboard to national talents such as Jason Whitlock and Jeffri Chadiha.

The Michigan ice hockey team - a perennial national power in its sport - didn't warrant a beat reporter for road games. The baseball team, which had a notable run of success the past 2-3 seasons was barely noticed. Football still drew significant coverage, but the number of reporters covering games had clearly been cut, opening the door for the bigger Detroit papers to swoop in and beat them to stories.

Even the paper's top sports columnist, Jim Carty, thought so much of the paper - and his profession - that he chucked it all and went to law school last fall. (Fortunately, he's blogging like a madman, and has been all over the decline and fall of his former employer.)

And I haven't even gotten into the lack of actual news about what's going on in Ann Arbor. Stories chasing flashy concepts like commuter trains to Detroit and trolley cars downtown still get the front page, but if you want to find out what happened at city council meetings or various programs being implemented, you have to seek that information out for yourself. Granted, that's not the most exciting news, but isn't that the sort of thing a local newspaper should be focused on, rather than running syndicated articles on stories you've already heard or read about elsewhere?

When I moved to Iowa, my mother told me she and my father had decided to cancel their subscription, largely because Dad wasn't reading the paper anymore. He didn't have the energy to stay up and read the paper after dinner (the A2 News being an afternoon paper) like he used to. So the copies were frequently going from kitchen table to recycling bin untouched. Dad and I never really talked about it, but I wonder if perhaps he also felt the paper was no longer worth the effort.

Of course, when I wanted to hear what was going on back in Ann Arbor, Mom usually didn't have any local news to share. And I'd mock her for cutting herself off from the one source that might provide her with such information. But really, the paper wouldn't have given her much. And eventually, I found some of what I was looking for online. Sadly, that experience hasn't changed since I moved back here. The A2 News's website isn't bad, though the MLive.com platform (imposed by corporate ownership, I imagine) doesn't do it any favors, in terms of appearance or functionality. We got what we paid for, I suppose.

The hope is obviously that the new website that rises from the ashes of the fallen A2 News provides something more than what was previously available. But other than vague promises that AnnArbor.com will be "unlike anything we've ever seen," there's not a lot to go on. With only a few exceptions (the New York Times and Washington Post, to name two big publications), newspapers haven't "gotten" the internet very well. And maybe therein lies the promise. This won't be a "newspaper," per se. It'll be an online publication.

But as Jim Carty points out (I told you his blog was good), the people in charge not only all come from newspapers, they come from the publications that have now failed. Will they have learned from the mistakes that were previously made? Will the presumed freedom of a new venture allow them to provide us with the news source we've been lacking for so long? Or will people decide they prefer what the Ann Arbor Chronicle (run by former News staffers) has been doing -and quite well - since last fall?

Ultimately, it's just sad that the print product - some local flavor, a piece of a community - is being left to die. But if papers like the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer couldn't survive, what chance does a publication like the A2 News have? Or is that exactly the kind of newspaper that should be surviving, because it serves a smaller region and doesn't require such a wide scope? Lamenting what could've been, along with the finality of it all, is what still managed to make this announcement so impactful.

For those who know me well, this might have a whiff of hypocrisy. I've been beating the "print is dead" drum for a couple of years now among friends and colleagues, finding more prosperity (relatively speaking) writing for a sports blog than I did for a magazine that eventually failed. I made an opportunity for myself, and it happens to have worked out. But I grew up loving newspapers, and always wanted to write for one. (Hell, my very first job was delivering the A2 News.) And I still buy them, though hardly as often as I used to (maybe once a week, and usually on Sundays).

But it would be nice to actually be excited by reading a local publication again, anticipating what I might learn or what someone has to say, rather than picking one up just because I need something to read at a diner or coffee shop. Local radio looked like it was dead, but might possibly be making a comeback with WQKL and WTKA. Here's hoping the same is possible for local news.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad



The Best Heist Movie Ever Made

I love heist movies. Something about the drama and suspense that comes with putting together the big plan, depending on events to move like clockwork, adapting when those events go out of sync (as they inevitably will), and covering for every contingency is utterly appealing in a story. Of course, it's even better if the prize is monumental, or the challenge insurmountable.

This is not one of those stories.



I haven't decided which fall I like best. I think it's the second one, because that looked like it really hurt. But the first one has some depth and complexity to it, when you factor in how his head hit the floor, bottles falling onto him, etc.

But no matter what happens to this guy, at least he doesn't have to admit he was arrested for "having relations with a car wash vacuum."

(via Aaron Gleeman.com)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Man vs. Burger... Lots of Burger

Have you heard about the Fifth Third Burger? A massive bomb (4,800 calories) of a burger that will be offered this season at West Michigan Whitecaps games? If not, here's the breakdown:

Start with an 8-inch sesame seed bun that requires 1 pound of dough and is made specially for the Whitecaps by Nantucket Baking Co. of Grand Rapids.

Spoon on nearly a cup of chili and place five one-third pound hamburger patties on top of that. (Get it, 5/3 pounds of beef for the Fifth Third Burger?)

Add five slices of American cheese and liberal doses of salsa, nacho cheese and Fritos. Top it off with lettuce, tomato and sour cream, and you have a burger that can be sliced with a pizza cutter and feed four people for $20. Jalapenos are optional.

If a single person can consume the entire 4-pound finished product in one sitting, the team plans to give him or her a special T-shirt.

(In writing about the Fifth Third Burger for Bless You Boys, I noticed that the particular ingredients have changed since the burger was first announced. The incarnation that's now being promoted actually seems less disgusting. Maybe someone stepped in and said, "Whoa! Do you want to kill somebody? Take the Spam off that thing!")

But now, we have actual video evidence of someone eating the thing. Well, at least he took a bite or two of the burger. (Maybe we'll have to wait for Adam Richman to truly take this monstrosity on for "Man vs. Food.") I figured at least one or two people tried it, for quality control purposes or whatever, but this man was told he's the very first.

Ladies and gentleman, CNBC's Darren Rovell.



If Rovell (who named this the Minor League Concession Item of the Year) was trying to impress Erin Burnett, I think he may have failed. Or maybe she digs that sort of thing. It was kind of hard to tell, though she didn't seem as revolted as one might expect. I'm also surprised Jim Cramer didn't try to tear into that thing himself. Maybe he did, after Rovell was done talking about it.

You can see more at Rovell's blog.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I might be ready to become a vegetarian. (Or watch Padma Lakshmi eat a big burger instead. Mmm... Padma.)

(via Big League Stew)

Shellhead vs. Little Dragon

Couldn't you use one minute (actually, more like 50 seconds) of awesome today? That is, if you haven't already seen this...



Not a surprise, really. If Bruce Lee could take down Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, what chance did Iron Man have? (Spoiler alert, if you didn't actually click on the video.)

If 10-year-old Ian had access to a video camera and super-cool action figures like Iron Man and Bruce Lee, he might have tried to do something like this. Of course, it wouldn't have been any good, and he would've run out of patience after the first 10 stop-action poses. But he might have tried.

And I just found out Bruce Lee's gravesite is in Seattle. That might have to be added to the itinerary when I visit in May. That is, if Mis Hooz will abide.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Detroit Tigers Lose a Legend

[The following post ran earlier today at Bless You Boys.]

We have terribly sad news in Tiger Town today, as Hall of Famer George Kell passed away at the age of 86. According to reports, he died in his sleep early this morning at his home in Swifton, Arkansas.

Kell was a 10-time All-Star, six of those honors coming during his years with the Detroit Tigers (1946-1952). He also played with the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Baltimore Orioles in a 15-year major league career.

Perhaps his most sterling achievement as a ballplayer was beating out Ted Williams for the American League batting title in 1949, edging him out by mere percentage points. Kell was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983 by the veterans committee.

Kell was a third baseman almost exclusively throughout his career. And he pretty much remains the gold standard for that position in Tigers history. Just the other day, The Daily Fungo posted an item about the team's all-time third basemen, and the list is basically Kell and everyone else. (No offense to Aurelio Rodriguez.) The Spot Starters had him ranked #24 on its list of Top 100 Tigers.

I imagine most everyone reading this, however, remembers Kell more as a broadcaster for the Tigers from 1959 to 1996. And from 1975 to 1996, he was the team's television play-by-play man with Al Kaline. With all due respect to Ernie Harwell, for those who grew up watching the Tigers on TV, Kell was the voice of baseball, the voice of summer.

As a kid developing into a baseball fan, I remember being fascinated when my father told me that Kell once played for the Tigers. The whole idea seemed so amazing to me. I think it was my first realization that there was a history to the game, so much bigger and richer than what I was watching on TV.

And if you'll indulge my sharing one more memory - this one much more recent - the first thing I thought of when I heard the news of Kell's death was a phone call I got from the Fungo's Mike McClary. He'd just gotten in touch with Kell to do an interview on The Detroit Tigers Podcast, and it was like talking to a kid on Christmas. I could almost imagine Lil' Mikey's feet dangling off the couch while sharing the big news.

You can find that interview here. Mike just re-posted it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Blanket and a Napkin - with Sleeves!

If only I could've gotten one of these before spending hours in front of the TV watching college basketball over the past few days.



(from Real Time with Bill Maher)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Michigan-Clemson in Two Minutes

This was probably the most fun I've had on a Thursday night in quite a while.


Watch CBS Videos Online

CBS is really doing a good job with its online component to the NCAA Tournament, by the way. At one point yesterday, I was watching my computer as much as the television.

I'm pretty sure I pulled something when Manny Harris got that three-point play with 37 seconds left to give Michigan a 61-57 lead. Getting too old to jump up so quickly from a prone position like that.

Next time, I'll make sure I stretch out first. I'm just happy I get to watch Michigan play again on Saturday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Return of Michigan Basketball

11 years is a long time to wait. That's how long it's been since the University of Michigan men's basketball team participated in the NCAA championship tournament. The long, joyless drought ends tonight at 7:10 p.m. EST when the Wolverines play Clemson.


College basketball hasn't been fun around here in a long time. As exciting as it was to see Michigan win a bid on Sunday to the tournament (maybe a little more exciting than it had to be, as CBS really made us sweat by waiting until nearly the end of the selection show to announce the Wolverines had made it), it'll be even more fun to watch John Beilein's crew play a meaningful game tonight. Go Blue!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Talking Tigers on BlogTalkRadio

After a false start last week, Seth Stohs rounded up a handful of bloggers for an AL Central season preview on his BlogTalkRadio podcast.

We covered all of the notable Detroit Tigers stories from Lakeland this spring, including the competition for the fifth starting pitcher, the rise of rookies Rick Porcello and Ryan Perry, and the health of Joel Zumaya.  And as one of my regular readers already called me on, I made my predictions for the order of finish in the AL Central.

Thanks again to Seth for inviting me on his show.  We might chat again during the season when the Twins and Tigers play each other.  I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast, as you'll learn what's going on with each of the Tigers' division rivals.

You can listen to an embedded audio clip below or download the file from the accompanying link.



sethspeaks_031709


Brian Fellow vs. The Parrot

With Tracy Morgan reprising his Brian Fellow character last weekend on Saturday Night Live, Hulu brilliantly (and thankfully) posted a past "Safari Planet" skit.



I'd say that was the best one Morgan ever did, but I don't remember all of them. However, I do remember this one because The Rock was in it (playing a guy named "Denny McLain" from the Detroit Zoo), and because Brian Fellow yells at a parrot. That's crazy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Talkin' Tigers with SethSpeaks.Net - Take Two

This didn't work out last week, but Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net says he's ready for his AL Central preview show, so I'm scheduled to talk some Detroit Tigers baseball on his Minnesota Twins Weekly Podcast tonight on BlogTalkRadio. The broadcast will begin at 10 p.m. EST. I'll be on approximately 10 minutes after the hour.

I'm not sure who the other AL Central bloggers will be, but we'll be talking for about 10 minutes apiece on our respective teams. That should be enough time to bring up how many BYB readers hold serious grudges toward the Twins, right?

You can listen to the show at BlogTalkRadio.com, but if you miss it, a download of the show will be available later on for you to peruse at your discretion.

Once again, the show begins at 10 p.m. EST. Hopefully, you can tune in. Thanks to Seth for inviting me.

Today's Photo - 03/17/09


After seeing all the students walk around campus with green t-shirts and beads, I was getting thirsty. And wouldn't you know, my fridge was fresh out of Diet Coke?

Happy St. Patrick's Day. I wonder if I can interest any of my neighbors in some beer pong?

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Jim Leyland

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland waves to us, just in time for Green Beer o' Clock. (Of course, that may have been this morning for most some of you.)


I really should've picked up one of those green Tigers hats. Even if I'd wear it only once a year.

Happy St. Patrick's Day. Be good out there.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How is Tracy Morgan Not on Animal Planet?

When I saw that Tracy Morgan was returning to Saturday Night Live to host, I had only one wish for the episode: A "Brian Fellow's Safari Planet" skit. Thank you, SNL.



Why I think this character is so funny, I don't know. When I've tried to explain Brian Fellow to someone who hasn't seen it, I get blank stares in return. But somehow, Tracy yelling "I'm Brian Fellows!" to the camera just hits that funny bone. That's crazy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today's Photo - 03/15/09

Winter is definitely over when the Dairy Queen on Packard opens for the spring.


Actually, I think it opened on March 2, when it was cold as hell outside. Not much of a line then. You can't see it in the photo, but there was quite a line at around 4:30 p.m. today. And everyone was in a good mood.

(Oh, and I'm sure you wanted to know: I got a small Heath Blizzard.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Even Lex Luthor Needs a Bailout

When the greatest criminal mind of our time (well, at least in 1978) can't even afford to bankroll another fiendish scheme to destroy Superman, you know our economy is really struggling.


Maybe you need one of those Congressional hearings, Lex.

And a nice bald wig on Jon Hamm there, eh?

Perhaps this was also a tip of the cap to those in the geeksosphere who think he'd make a fine Superman whenever another one of those movies gets made. (I think I'd count myself among that group, though he might be a big too old for the role now. Seems crazy to say when Hamm's career is just catching fire, though.)

(via Geek Tyrant)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

No Podcast Tonight

UPDATE (9:30 p.m.): I've been out all day, and unfortunately, didn't get a chance to check my e-mail until just now. The podcast has been postponed for tonight. We'll probably do an AL Central roundtable of some sort next week. Apologies for the mix-up, and if you were planning to listen tonight, thank you.

# # #

Apparently, I just can't get enough of talking to people about the Detroit Tigers. (Or I just love hearing myself talk.) Seth Stohs of SethSpeaks.net invited me to appear on his Minnesota Twins Weekly Podcast tonight on BlogTalkRadio. The broadcast will begin at 10 p.m. EST.

I'm not sure who else is scheduled to appear, but I believe Seth will be talking to bloggers who cover Minnesota's rivals in the AL Central division. (I should probably bring up how many readers at Bless You Boys hold serious grudges toward the Twins, right? That could make things interesting.)

You can listen to the show at BlogTalkRadio.com, but if you miss it, a download of the show will be available later on for you to peruse at your discretion.

Once again, the show begins at 10 p.m. EST. I'm not yet sure when I'll be on, but I was told to call in by then, so maybe we'll start talking about the AL Central right away. Thanks to Seth for inviting me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Most Famous Jay Buhner and Ken Phelps Have Ever Been

In a post I'm writing for tomorrow at Bless You Boys, I made a reference to Frank Costanza's infamous question to George Steinbrenner while the New York Yankees owner was presumably giving him bad news about his son. This is one of my favorite Seinfeld moments.

Just in case you were wondering why I'd post this video.



After seeing that, I sometimes used to fantasize about Tom Monaghan coming to my house and my father asking him how he could trade John Smoltz to the Braves for Doyle Alexander Of course, I also would be dead (or believed dead) in this scenario, so it didn't hold a lot of appeal to me.

If You Ever Need to Ditch 3 1/2 Pounds of Carrots...

Is this video demonstrating the power of new toilet flushing technology fascinating or a little bit disturbing? I mean, really - how often is some of this stuff used to demonstrate flushing capacity going to find its way into your toilet?


null - Watch more free videos

After watching that, I'm reminded of shopping for new toilets last year as we suddenly had to remodel both of our bathrooms. The salesperson at Lowe's was raving about a toilet that could flush 10-15 golf balls. ("It does! I've tried it!")

While I appreciated that capability, I also wondered what I could possibly produce in the bathroom that would be the equivalent of a bucket of golf balls. Instead, maybe I should be thinking of incriminating evidence that I may need to dispose of someday. Maybe the next demonstration of toilet technology will have a foot sticking out of the bowl as someone tries to push it in, like with the woodchipper in Fargo.

(via Thompson on Hollywood)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Talkin' Tigers on the Radio: Spring Training Spectacular

I was invited onto "The Benchwarmers" last night to talk Detroit Tigers and Spring Training on Toledo's WSPD (1370-AM). They gave me the thumbs-up to post some audio from last night's show, so here's a clip of my appearance. (I'm glad I got a chance to use that recording software again.)

The second hour of the show was their "Spring Training Spectacular," and we discussed how the team is looking so far, what important competitions remain (especially among the pitching staff), and whether or not some players can rebound this season.  (Adam Van Arsdale from SB Nation's Cleveland Indians blog, Let's Go Tribe, was on later to discuss the his team's chances in 2009.)

Thanks to Jim Kushlan for inviting me onto the show, especially while the Toledo area was under a tornado warning.  Somehow, the idea of people listening to some baseball talk while seeking shelter in their basement isn't entirely comforting.

You can listen to an embedded audio clip below or download the file from the accompanying link.



WSPD_030809


Sunday, March 08, 2009

If Barack Obama Got Angry

If you didn't catch Saturday Night Live last night, you missed Rahm Emanuel's fantasy about Barack Obama. (Actually, I think this is a fantasy many people share. And I'm not just saying that because my borderline man-crush*, The Rock -who got himself a feature in the Sunday New York Times - is involved.)



Gee, I think I'd like the president when he's angry.

I was going to call that Rahm Emanuel's wet dream, but I'm betting that'd involve him doing the smashing and throwing himself. And Andy Samberg's Emanuel continues to be hilarious.

* Why "borderline"? Because I wouldn't go to a movie just because The Rock is in it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Rorschach Test

Tomorrow is the big day. Watchmen hits theaters, and I'll probably be catching a matinee. (I don't think I can do the midnight showing tonight for a near-three hour flick.) I'm at that point I often get to with movies like this, where I can't take any more hype.

I can't watch any more trailers online, I can't watch any more "sneak peeks" on TV, and I can't read any more reviews. (Though I've really enjoyed CHUD.com's video interviews with cast and crew.) And though Alan Moore's writing has brought great joy to my life over the years, I really don't give a shit what he thinks about his work being adapted because he's just trying to piss on everyone's parade.

I just want to see the damn thing.

At some point, probably when I'm sitting in my seat before the previews begin, I'll wonder if I've set myself up to be disappointed by getting so excited. (I read through the book one more time this week, which was probably a bad idea.) But really, Iron Man and The Dark Knight cooked a lot of that angst out of me. And I know by the time that WB logo hits the screen, I won't even care about that stuff because I'll still be in disbelief that a Watchmen movie has really been made.

In the meantime, however, I'll occupy myself with more promotional material, such as this video of the special effects used to create Rorschach's mask. So cool!



I can only hope we'll get a similar video detailing the work that went into creating Dr. Manhattan's big blue schlong, my favorite description of which is Cinematical's "dangling like a participle with no tomorrow."

♦ I can't post that Rorschach "Obamicon" image, without giving proper credit to the artist, Warren Hart. You can buy t-shirts with the graphic here.

♦ All the Watchmen footage released online, edited into one clip? Here you are.

Salon.com has a new interview with Alan Moore.

♦ What would a Watchmen Saturday morning cartoon have looked like?

Cross The Daily Show at Your Peril, CNBC

I thought David Letterman was glorious when he was cranky. Do not get on Jon Stewart's bad side, ladies and gentlemen. (Though I suspect he and his staff have had a rant against CNBC brewing for quite some time. Nine minutes of material?)



No one likes to have their plans canceled. Doing it to someone with the bully pulpit of a TV show, however, is probably a really bad idea.

So how soon before CNBC tries to send Erin Burnett or Maria Bartiromo over as an olive branch?

(Meanwhile, the stock market continues its plunge toward Shitsville as I write this.)

Bitten by Bittman

I've spent a lot of time reading Mark Bittman's blog and columns, viewing his video podcasts, trying out his "Minimalist" recipes in my kitchen (all available at NYTimes.com), and watching him traipse around Spain with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow. He's also influenced my eating, cooking, and shopping habits quite a bit in recent months. (As has, of course, our dear vegetarian friend Mis Hooz, over the years.)

So I was pretty geeked to see him on The Colbert Report Tuesday night to promote his new book, Food Matters.

Enthusiasm is a dish best shared, don't you think?


And now, Bittman's on Twitter, too. Maybe I can get some ideas for dinner tonight from that.