Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

My Halloween Costume

This year I decided to dress up as a conservative white male Republican. Apparently, that scares the beejeezus out of some people...


Things That Make Me Sad: Meltdown Edition

Last night my beloved Kansas City Royals suffered an ugly 9-3 loss to the New York Mets in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series at Citi Field.

Royals starter Yordano Ventura, who has been mediocre at best in four postseason games this year (0-1, 5.09 ERA in only 17 2/3 innings over four starts), was even worse than that last night, surrendering 5 runs on 7 hits (two of them home runs) while only recording 10 outs. The 4 runs the bullpen gave up were troubling, too, even if the outcome was no longer in doubt.

A couple of other items of interest:
Game 4 tonight will feature Chris Young (1-0, 2.31 ERA in the postseason, but on only three days' rest after his 3-inning relief stint in Game 1) against Mets rookie Steven Matz (0-1, 3.72 in the postseason). This is a crucial game because if the Royals lose, the Series will be tied and they'd have to face Matt Harvey (6th in the NL in ERA this season) and Jacob deGrom (4th in the NL in ERA) back-to-back, and beat at least one of them just to avoid losing the Series in six games. We'll see how they respond to the pressure...

"You think it's hopeless if they lose today, don't you?"

You've known me all these years, and you still have to ask?

Chatty Gadgets

I'm not sure which gadget was responsible, but yesterday I started seeing a message on my TV screen telling me the power in my DirecTV remote control was running low, and that I should replace the batteries ASAP.

"Was too."

"It wasn't me."

Whatever. All I know is, I haven't been wild about TVs trying to communicate with me since Poltergeist...

"They're here!"
Cut that out!

Scariest Movie Ever

One of the great things about the internet is that if you're interested in lists of things, you could spend the rest of your days looking at nothing but lists of things. If you want to see lists of the Scariest Movies Ever, there is no shortage of them. I'm partial to the list from the Chicago Film Critics Association, but to each his own.

For me, it is a tie for the top spot. And if you didn't see these films in a proper big-screen theater when they first came out, you simply have no idea how frightening they were. No. Idea.

1973 The Exorcist one sheet poster
When the film based on William Peter Blatty's bestselling novel The Exorcist was released on the day after Christmas in 1973, I was in college. Like a lot of people, I had read the book and stood in a long line to get a ticket. I was not disappointed.

Simply from overexposure, many of the scenes audiences found frightening back then have lost their emotional punch. But
I can honestly say I have never been in an audience that was any more completely terrified (myself included) than that one was that day.

My mother got to see it in a theater, too, and to her dying day you could freak her out doing an impression of Mercedes McCambridge's Pazuzu voice...

1979 Alien one sheet poster

Now that I've seen it so many times, it is fun to analyze the clever ways Alien director Ridley Scott manipulates his audience's emotions. It is also fun to read what the actors in the film had to say about their experiences.

When I saw it the first time, though, in a proper big-screen movie theater on its May 25, 1979 release, I didn't know any of that. There had been some buzz in the SF community about the film, but this was the pre-computer, pre-internet days, so no one really knew anything. There were at least four occasions when the film scared me so badly I jumped in my seat. At least four.

Until Next Time...

When I was growing up, local TV stations regularly showed scary movies ("creature features") on Friday nights, and quite often the late-night Saturday movies were science fiction thrillers. Thanks to my mom, who loved all of that stuff, I often got to stay up late with her to watch. I've never lost my enthusiasm for the genre.

2014 Godzilla one sheet poster

I don't recall the first time I saw the original 1954 Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but I couldn't have been very old because rather than finding it comically silly I was enthralled. I have now seen every movie starring the first and best of the Kaiju, some of them several times.
I thought the most recent entry, released last year, was quite good.

Needless to say, if there had been a way for me to be Godzilla on Halloween back in those days, I'd have been delighted to do so.

As luck would have it, guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser of Blue Öyster Cult, one of my favorite bands, is a big fan of the Big G also, and in 1977 he wrote "Godzilla," a wry tribute which was included on the band's album Spectres. The song quickly became a fan favorite and a staple of their live performances.

Today's send-off pairs the song with classic footage from the original 1954 film. Enjoy...

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Circus is Back in Town

Thank Abaddon It's Friday!

"If there's just one more Java update, I'm coming for you!"

The Nobel Committee Sure Screwed That One Up

The online world is abuzz this morning with the news that President Obama is sending a small deployment of U.S. ground troops to Syria. Lots of people have posted the 2013 video clip where he adamantly insists that he will never do this.

"I thought I was wrong, once, but I was mistaken."
Of course, there's nothing wrong with a president changing his mind, and doing what he thinks is best at any given moment. The reason so many people are gloating about this particular reversal is that he is a sanctimonious asshole who constantly insists that no reasonable person could possibly disagree with his decisions or policies.

And did I mention that, when one of his policy moves doesn't work out, he blames everyone but himself for the failure? And that, if the failure is big enough, he actually says he predicted the failure from the beginning?

Obama had only been in office for a few months when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to him in 2009. In a recently-published book, an official who was part of those deliberations admits that the move was not a reward for anything Obama had actually, you know, done. It was given because the nitwits on the committee believed it would "strengthen" the new president, especially in his quest to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Did it work? Well, Obama hasn't talked about the issue for years, and the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons hasn't been reduced in the slightest (and will actually get larger thanks to Obama's Iran deal).

"So, 'No,' in others words."

Actually, that would be the precise word...

The World Series Resumes

My beloved Kansas City Royals take on the New York Mets tonight at Citi Field in Flushing Meadow, Queens in Game 3 of the 2015 World Series...

The Royals lead the series two games to none. While you're waiting for the Series to resume, you could be reading this interesting article about Game 2 and what it might signify about the changing nature of the game...

"Do you have enough digoxin on hand to make it through the whole Series?"

We'll have to wait and see on that one...

Capitalism's Sorting Function

From the delightful comic strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, which you should read every day, as I do (even though Wiley is a squishy liberal).


No, I haven't given up on the idea of archive pages, but so far I have not been pleased with my experiments along those lines. If you're someone who knows a little bit about Blogger, drop me a line.

Just a reminder that if you're not clicking on the live links in the text at least occasionally, you're missing out on some of the blog's best content.

Comments, as always, are welcome. Agree or disagree, I'd love to hear from you!

Until Next Time

Ideas for what to use in this section come from all sorts of places. Today, it was a message on Twitter from someone I follow:

For those who don't get the reference, Airstream is a company that makes travel trailers like the one in the photograph. It was an especially evocative image for me, since I yearn to own an Airstream, and spend the remainder of my days exploring this beautiful country we live in, including the 12 states I have yet to visit. If I should ever win the Powerball drawing, an Airstream Land Yacht will be one of my first purchases!

Anyway, seeing that picture got me thinking about a favorite song of mine by the
Pat Metheny Group. "Airstream" was the second track on the band's 1979 album American Garage, one of my all-time favorite records (yeah, some of us geezers still call them "records"). Today's send-off is that song paired with a slide show featuring pictures of Pat and the rest of the group. Enjoy...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Big Inning

Worse Than Expected

I've seen too many of the televised carnivals we call presidential debates to have particularly high expectations for them. But even low expectations were too high for what took place last night, as the trio of CNBC "moderators" (John Harwood, Becky Quick, and Carl Quintanilla) didn't make the slightest pretense of wanting to ask serious questions that might help voters make a rational decision.

What they intended to do was undermine all of the Republican contenders, because in the view of the progressive liberal media (but I repeat myself), that is their job. Republicans in general and conservatives in particular have "dangerous," "extreme" views that cannot be allowed a fair hearing.

What actually happened, though, wasn't what they had planned. My favorite moment...

So far in this cycle I have contributed to the Fiorina and Rubio campaigns, but that moment was enough to get me to make a small donation to Senator Cruz's campaign this morning.

I spent some time trying to decide on what would be the most effective metaphor to describe the carnage...

We could go with the classic "train wreck" metaphor, as the progressive website ThinkProgress did...

...or we could use the modern favorite "dumpster fire" instead.
At least one progressive commentator did just that.

Of course, given the almost unprecedented level of awfulness on display, perhaps a more historical metaphor would be most appropriate...

"Oh, the humanity!"

Despite the best efforts of the moderators, I thought most of the participants did well.
It was nice for a change to not have every question be focused on Trump, and Rubio probably had the best night, but only Jeb Bush did real damage to himself.

The sooner we get down to Rubio, Fiorina, Carson, Cruz, and Trump on the stage, the better the debates will be. Time for the also-rans to cash out and go home...

Things That Make Me Happy: Friendship Edition

Game 2 of the 2015 World Series was played last night at a sold-out Kauffman Stadium. As they did in the American League Championship Series, my beloved Kansas City Royals took a 2-0 series lead by defeating the New York Mets 7-1.

The game began as a classic pitcher's duel. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was tough, as expected, cruising through the first four innings while only allowing a single hit. When the bottom of the 5th inning began, the Mets led 1-0. Then the Royals offense batted around against deGrom, scoring four runs on a walk, five singles, and a runner-advancing groundout. The key hit was a two-run single by 1B Eric Hosmer, who now has 15 RBIs on 12 hits this postseason.


There was only one candidate for pitching star of the game, because the Royals only used one pitcher: Johnny Cueto, a day after learning his close friend Edinson Volquez's father had died the same day Volquez started Game 1, threw a two-hit complete game, allowing only a single run.

"I dedicated that game to Volquez's dad and the whole family..."

Cueto's gem was a rare feat. How rare? The last pitcher to hurl a complete-game two-hitter in the World Series was Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Greg Maddux 20 years ago versus the Cleveland Indians. The last American League pitcher to throw a complete game of any kind in the World Series was Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins against the Braves four years earlier.

After today's travel day, the series resumes Friday night at Citi Field in New York. The pitching match-up is expected to feature young stars Yordano Ventura (age 24) for the Royals versus Noah Syndergaard (age 23) for the Mets.

In the meantime, though, I join with lifelong Royals fans everywhere in savoring this moment for all its worth.

National Cat Day

Today is National Cat Day, which for some odd reason is neither a Federal holiday nor a Catholic Feast Day. Still, my roommates elected to celebrate in the traditional manner: Bugging me to get up and feed them at the crack of dawn, coughing up some hairballs, and eventually...

"How come you never let me sleep on the couch like that?'

Because you shed worse than they do. Duh.


From the eccentric and marvelous webcomic xkcd, by Randall Munroe, which you should read every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

As a lover of the English language, I am inordinately fond of puns and other forms of wordplay. Thus, no one who knows me would be surprised by this Tweet I posted not long after Johnny Cueto completed his gem:

For the benighted, the reference is to Chuck Berry's best-known song, "Johnny B. Goode," called "The Rock and Roll National Anthem" by George Thorogood (who closed his shows with the song for many years).

By the same token, no one who reads this blog regularly will be surprised that today's send-off is Berry's original 1958 recording of his signature hit. Enjoy...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pulling Ahead


One of the ways a politician can know he is gaining traction is by gauging the desperation and silliness of the attacks against him from his opponents. By that metric, Senator Marco Rubio ought to be pleased today.

"Are you !@#$% kidding me?"

He is under attack because of the number of Senate votes he has missed since beginning his campaign for president. Seriously.

Given the fact that the story began in Florida, this nothingburger has Jeb Bush's fingerprints all over it, especially coming on the heels of Bush's nitwitted Powerpoint presentation to donors in which he claimed that "Marco is a GOP Obama."

For the record, I think the argument is pretty idiotic coming from a man who hasn't held elective office of any kind for eight years, in a race in which the two front-runners (Carson and Trump) have never held elective office. Does Bush honestly believe anyone is going to care that Rubio has been out campaigning instead of sticking around D.C. for the Senate's dithering? And it is worth mentioning that when they were running for president in 2007, Senators Barack Obama (89.4 percent) and Hillary Clinton (83.5 percent) missed a far higher percentage of Senate votes (Senator Rubio has missed 44.6 percent).

The story was clearly released with tonight's GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado in mind. You can bet the house that Bush expects asshat moderator John Harwood of CNBC to harp on the point. And by the way, GOP, congratulations for allowing a debate to be scheduled on a night when the World Series is being played. Tonight is obviously a better night than tomorrow's Series travel day would have been...

"You're killin' me, Rance Priebus."

I have not yet committed to a candidate for the Iowa Caucuses in February (I have donated to both the Rubio and Carly Fiorina campaigns), but these kinds of witless attacks are definitely nudging me in a particular direction...

"That would look awesome on your patio for Halloween!"

Things That Make Me Happy: Endurance Edition

Well, for openers...

...are you TRYING to give me a fatal coronary, Fox Sports?

"You lived through the Houston AND Toronto series, you'll be fine."
Time will tell...

Anyway, at Kauffman Stadium last night my beloved Kansas City Royals won Game 1 of the 2015 World Series, defeating the New York Mets 5-4 in 14 innings.

It was the longest Game 1 (5 hours, 9 minutes) in World Series history, and the second-longest Fall Classic game ever. I'm too exhausted from staying up so late to go into much detail, but I hope the recap gives some sense of what a tense, exciting game it was. For Royals fans, the signature moment of the game came with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning, when All-Star LF Alex Gordon tied the game with a booming (442 feet) home run to dead center field off of Mets closer Jeurys Familia, who hadn't blown a save in more than three months...


The Royals bullpen held the Mets scoreless for the final six innings. The last three of those innings were pitched by Chris Young, who had been scheduled to be the Game 4 starter but instead won Game 1...

"The team needs me tonight, I pitch tonight. Whatever it takes."

It was a special moment for Chris, whose father died about a month ago on the night before a crucial start (Chris threw five no-hit innings in that game). In an sad bit of irony, it was announced after the game that Royals starter Edinson Volquez's father had died earlier in the day (at the family's request, the team didn't tell Eddie until after he had finished his six innings of work). Volquez is the third Royal to have lost a parent in just the past two months, joining Young and 3B Mike Moustakas.

Game 2 tonight will feature Johnny Cueto on the mound for the Royals, facing Jacob deGrom for the Mets.

Everybody Knows That

From the wry comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

Luther College is a small but outstanding liberal arts college located in Decorah, Iowa.

During my time teaching in Iowa, some of the best students I ever had wound up attending Luther, which speaks well for the quality of the institution. Iowa is justly famous for its long and distinguished tradition of small liberal arts colleges, and Luther (founded in 1861) is one of the jewels in that crown.

In honor of Daniel Volquez, Connie Moustakas, and Charles Young, today's send-off is the college's choir performing Eliza Gilkyson's "Requiem." Enjoy...and remember to tell the people whom you love how much they mean to you. Don't even think about putting that off. Don't even think it...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Here We Go Again


Few things in this life give me as much pleasure as mocking and belittling the University of Kansas. I come by my loathing of all things Jayhawk honestly, being a Missouri guy.

Beautiful campus filled with heinous, stupid people

Usually the mocking and belittling involves sports, especially football (in which KU is historically awful this season), but I came across a non-sports story yesterday that was too good an opportunity to pass up.

The university's Student Senate voted on October 20 to remove gender-specific pronouns from its Student Senate Rules and Regulations. It did this for the most Polticially Correct of reasons, naturally: Gender-specific pronouns are "microaggressions," don't you know, and the KU Student Senate wanted to take a courageous stand against that kind of evil.

So brave...and so stupid.

In the words of Harrison Baker, the earnest young nitwit who sponsored the bill, "This is a key first step in making our campus more inclusive. Hopefully this will be a catalyst to create discussions on campus and cause change to happen elsewhere."

Whatever, kid. It will certainly create some discussions, on your campus and elsewhere, but not the kind you were hoping for, I suspect.

As for change, the change that needs to happen in this instance is that the university should stop subsidizing idiocy with student tuition dollars.

In any event, it is always a pleasure to give proper recognition to a Jayhawk...

"Couldn't resist the low-hanging fruit, eh?"

Didn't even really try to resist, no...

Things That Make Me Sad: Missing Man Edition

Tonight at Kauffman Stadium, my beloved Kansas City Royals will take on the New York Mets in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. When the Royals ended a 29-year playoff drought (longest in professional sports at the time) last year and advanced to the World Series with a record-setting run, this lifelong Royals fan was beside himself with pride and happiness. Going to the World Series in consecutive years is rare in professional baseball, but now that that Royals have accomplished that, I will be pulling for them to win their second World Championship.

This has been an even more magical season season than last year, but I hope that amidst all the hoopla surrounding the games Royals fans don't forget some of the players who made significant contributions to help us get here, but who won't be appearing in the Series.

Before his season ended with an elbow injury requiring the Tommy John procedure, Jason Vargas was 5-2 with a 3.98 ERA in 43 innings, and the Royals won both of the games he started where he did not get a decision.

Greg Holland's season ended on September 18, and he too required the Tommy John procedure. It was clear he was battling pain the whole season, as he never approached the dominant form he showed in 2014, but he still saved 32 games in 37 chances, and the Royals won three of the five games where he allowed the save to slip away.

Omar Infante's season ended with an injury on September 9. He had been the Royals regular second baseman since last season.

Omar's offense dropped off considerably this year, but he had 440 at-bats and drove in 44 runs with some very timely hits. He also played good defense.

Jeremy Guthrie was left off of the Royals' postseason roster because starting pitchers are less valuable in a short playoff series than bench players.

Jeremy was a valuable performer for the Royals this season. While his ERA is high, he pitched well enough to win 8 games, and the team won an additional 6 games where he started but did not figure in the decision.

Joe Blanton began the season in the Royals bullpen, but when Jason Vargas went on the DL, Joe stepped up and patched the rotation. He was 2-2 with two saves in 15 games as a Royal.

The Royals traded Joe to the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Pirates. He was 5-0, 1.57 ERA with the Pirates, 7-2 2.84 overall.

If the festivities tonight include a fly-over from Whiteman AFB, as they did last year, I think it would be entirely fitting if they used the Missing Man Formation...

"You really are a sentimental softie."

This is news to you? Seriously?

Nailed It

Conservatively-inclined editorial cartoonist Glenn McCoy, whose work I only recently became aware of, gets right to the heart of that progressive liberal media (but I repeat myself) narrative about how Hillary "won" the Benghazi hearing last week:

Until Next Time...

On October 27, 1988 the documentary film U2: Rattle and Hum had its world premiere in Dublin, Ireland.

Promotional "one sheet" for the film
The project was intended to coincide with the release of an album of the same name. The album featured both new material and live recordings from the band's tour promoting it's highly-successful album
The Joshua Tree.

If you don't pay attention to such things, it is difficult to explain just how big U2 was at the time the film was made. The movie was much-anticipated, as was the album which accompanied it, but the critical response was only lukewarm.

That outcome prompted quite a bit of turmoil and change for the band, but eventually they came back stronger than ever, and they still sell out stadiums around the world when they tour.

Today's send-off is the band's performance from the film of the first single from the Rattle and Hum album, the Grammy Award-winning "Desire." Enjoy...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Carrying On

Silly Season

We are still several months away from any caucuses or primaries where actual voters will get to express their views on the various candidates running for president (many of whom will no longer be running by then). In the meantime, thanks to the 24-hour news cycle world we live in, the media in their desperation to get viewers (or readers) will pounce on the silliest things and try to make headline-worthy stories out of them.

"I'm an ignorant jackass. Watch, I'll prove it to you."
It doesn't help when one of the candidates is asshat Donald Trump, who simply can't help saying remarkably stupid things in front of reporters and television cameras.

Responding to polls showing him falling behind Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa, Trump suggested among other things that he'll eventually do well with Iowa's religious-minded voters because he's a Presbyterian.

Honest. That's what he said. Which is unremarkable. What made it a news story was that Trump went on to express hit-and-run contempt for Dr. Carson's faith. Dr. Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist.
"Are you freaking kidding me with this crap?"

Typically for a Trump Tempest
he is also refusing to apologize to 
Dr. Carson, which means the story will have "legs" for a few more news cycles as every other fucking candidate will now be asked about Trump's idiotic comments, and about whether he should apologize, etc.

And we have to put up with four more months of this daily barrage of meaningless bullshit because the media won't do its job and give President Obama's foreign policy debacles or Hillary Clinton's perjury this sort of breathless, wall-to-wall coverage. That's the world we live in...

Meanwhile, with regard to the religious preferences of political candidates, my position is simple:

H/T: Snorgtees
"Are you saying you don't care about my religious preferences?"

That is correct...not yours, not anyone else's...

Things That Make Me Happy: Home Turf Edition

For the first time in the 2015 season, my beloved Kansas City Chiefs won a game at Arrowhead Stadium, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-13. The victory put an end to the team's five-game, season-crushing losing streak.


One bright spot for the offense was rookie wide receiver Chris Conley, who played well in place of the injured Jeremy Maclin.

Conley scored his first NFL touchdown on a short pass from QB
Alex Smith in the 4th quarter.

The TD was important, as it pretty much put the game out of reach for the Steelers, who fell to 4-3 on the season.

Next up for the 2-5 Chiefs is a game in London versus the 1-6 Detroit Lions that is of interest mostly as it iimpacts the race to see who will have the league's worst record, and therefore the No. 1 overall choice in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Of course, the last time the Chiefs had the No. 1 overall selection, it did not turn out well.

"You really need to just let that go, man. What's done is done."

You've known me for how long, now?

Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast Update

I was up a little late last night, and so I was actually awake to hear some odd noises out on the patio. Turns out the B&B has a new customer. I don't know if last night was his first visit, but it was the first time I have seen or heard anything like this on the patio.
I imagine as winter approaches it might become more commonplace.

"You need to add some acorns and walnuts, sir."

I couldn't find my Nikon Coolpix S4100, so I decided to use the camera on my Motorola Moto X. It doesn't do so well with low-light conditions, as you can see, but at least I was able to get a picture of the little guy...

He didn't seem the least bit intimidated when he saw me, and he even came over to the patio door for a closer look.

It is difficult to tell from the poor photograph, but his eyes seemed to suggest a relatively high degree of intelligence...

Requiescat in Pace, Glenn

"Damn it, Nicholas!"

I'm not really ready to talk about it yet, and I'm still in denial about whether he's really gone, but on last night's episode of The Walking Dead, the popular character Glenn Rhee, played by Steven Yeun, appeared to succumb to the Zombie Apocalypse at last...

Until Next Time...

On October 26, 1999, singer-songwriter-actor Hoyt Axton died in Victor, Montana. Hoyt had one of those careers that, while clearly successful, never quite reached the pinnacle.

For instance, his best-remembered songs were turned into pop hits by other artists, including "Greenback Dollar" (The Kingston Trio), "Joy To the World" and "Never Been to Spain" (Three Dog Night), and "The Pusher" (Steppenwolf). For my own part, I enjoyed his acting style, and his singing voice was unforgettable.

Today's send-off is a clip from Hoyt's Country Western Gospel Rock ‘n’ Roll Show appearance in 1975. He performs a duet of his song "Lion in the Winter" with the angel-voiced Linda Ronstadt. Enjoy...