Archives For author

By @sixthfoul (Jeff Reguilon), retweeted (…God damn it.):

I wanted to gloat about the Lakers disaster, but then I read a fake Martin Luther King, Jr. quote and it totally turned me around.

That’s about right.

From April 29th through yesterday, there hasn’t been much time for baseball.  I watched a great deal of baseball, to be sure, but while monitoring/preparing for a whole host of events having little, if anything, to do with baseball.  This post will follow the same pattern.  Strap in.

**

I was asked by a friend from West Virginia how long it would be before we could make fun of a devastating national event on the day of said event.  Because I felt it was a wholly inappropriate time to ask, I told him, “Never.”  Of course, “Never” for me turned out to be about five hours, when I told a joke about how the events of the day had really taken “the heat off the sharks.”  (Let it be known: I told that joke first.  Not the guy quoted in the Times a couple weeks later, and not Stephen Colbert’s writers last week.  Me.  And it’s GOLD.)

I spend a great deal of time thinking about timing, and in fact have been working slowly to revive a venture dedicated to supporting comedians who are willing to help discover the boundaries of good humor.  The musty attic of that venture, A Lush In Rio, holds a trove of poorly-written yet well-meaning and hard-striving witticisms, chuckles, and giggles, with a few genuine explosions of glee.  The new face of it will more pointedly ask when it is okay to make fun of… anything.

I’m not seeking to kill humor.  I understand that the answer to the question “When is it okay to make fun of [person, place, or thing]?” is “It depends.”  But I believe that if we all took a bit more time to chart the edge of that border of appropriateness, at times going OVER the line so that we may know what that line is, we’d get along better.  Take yourself seriously, but understand why others might not take you as seriously.

“Never,” therefore, bothers me as a response that I was so certain about, it came from my mouth as soon as my friend had stopped speaking.  Yeah, it’s understandable I would have such a reaction.  But I’ve watched Kelly’s Heroes and laughed uproariously.  Is there anything funny about World War II?  Depends.  I reserve the right to laugh at Donald Sutherland as a hippie tank commander, even though I was born nearly forty years after the war’s end, because it’s fucking funny.  He barks; he conducts music blaring from a loudspeaker attached to the thing; he gives Gavin MacLeod a hard time the way only a hippie can.  Quoting Jimmy Valmer: “I mean, come on.”

The shorthand for all this might be declaring myself in pursuit of a sort-of “Voltaire’s Utopia,” defending the right of free speech for all.  But that’s actually glib.  I’m after humor as effective catharsis, as a means of pursuing and processing debate on the problems whose solutions will define us as a people.  I’m also after defusing the lazy charge that those who use humor as entry into discussion aren’t serious about the topics they choose to discuss.  And I’m after neutering the perception that some of the more hard-core humorists operating today are guilty of prejudice or bigotry. 

But neither am I looking to be soft on the funny.  An effective examination of the boundaries of good taste and humor requires a knowledge of the topic greater than simply a skimming; such research should and must be done so as to avoid being tagged a philistine.  (Which reminds me: I must start reading everything I can about Larry the Cable Guy.) 

I want people to read more.  I want them to seek understanding through reasoned discussion.  And instead of resorting to shouts and slings at the first sign of stress or conflict, I want jokes.  Jokes that highlight folly, and jokes that are pinpricks into overblown balloons.  I think that’s how we’ll be freed from an overabundance of people full of hot air.  And how we’ll know that our pain is real.

The night of May 1st, I watched the Mets-Phillies game on my laptop in my office, repairing shelves that had come down around me the night before.  Around 11pm, I checked the website of The New York Times and, a moment after I had, my mother called me.  A friend came over.  After one bourbon and three hours of news coverage, we left for a diner, but not before watching a YouTube clip of the opening to The A-Team.  Stirring.

After a grilled cheese sandwich and a goodbye to my friend for the night, I walked home, cried a little, and went to bed.

You probably know what I’m referring to on the basis of the date, and would be more certain if I told you I’m from New York (which you could possibly infer by my Mets fandom), or if you knew what year held “The Summer of the Shark.”  But change just a few things around here—and eliminate the reference to The A-Team, say—and I could be talking circuitously about any number of major news events.  The things I find funny are things you might not find funny if you’re closer to them.  But I defy you to carve out an existence wherein ANY joke about murder or poverty or disease or mislaid supremacism is considered in poor taste for all time.  If you have carved out such an existence, then you are, by brutal definition, merely existing.

So they found the man’s medicine cabinet held a bottle of Viagra.  I guess he really wasn’t packing heat…

::Rimshot.::

Advertisements

‘I think he (Jose Reyes) may have come off for a split-second,’ [Jerry] Hairston Jr. said.

Associated Press through ESPN.com

And, no, Mr. Hairston.  No, he didn’t.

But it all worked out.

This actually made me LOL (laugh out loud).

And then, sadly, I began to consider the physics of dropping a 300 foot-wide, 100 foot-tall sheet of fabric with no draft flaps off the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, on the first Sunday in November (which is when the New York City Marathon is held, annually).  What would they have to do?

  • ensure the ties from the sheet to the bridge had some give to withstand the stress of the wind;
  • stop harbor traffic for the duration of the display;
  • control removal from the bay rather than from the bridge (I don’t see any wire guides to haul the thing back up, though a flexible wire weight at the bottom of the sheet would do wonders for its display);
  • come up with something less pointless to say than “grow.”

My sense of childhood wonder is officially dead.  Time to start investing in pale yellow short-sleeved button-down shirts and pocket protectors.

Starved for baseball, I settled in for a night of graphic design work and chat, some baked ziti dinner, and the Yankees-White Sox game. 

It’s been awhile since I willingly watched the Yankees on television, not because of the team so much as because I feel the broadcast partnership of Michael Kay and Ken Singleton should be banned by the Geneva Convention as a matter of course. 

But I heard Al Leiter’s voice, learned that Philip Humber (former Met and Johan Santana trade fodder) would be going for the White Sox, and found the Met Classic airing to be their turn against the Cubs in Japan in 2000, which I’ve seen any number of times.  And, likesay, I’d be spending my time with a home-cooked meal and Photoshop/Illustrator.  So I left it on.

What followed were seven spectacular innings from Philip Humber. 2 walks, a hit batsman (Russell Martin), and, occurring in the 7th, a lone hit.  The big talking point for Kay—I hope fed by his production team, who might also seem to think that the Mets played their first games in 1961 (a gaffe uttered by Kay in the 1st)—was Humber’s time with the Mets.  Never mind that Humber threw all of 5 games and NINE innings total for the Mets in 2006 and 2007 combined.  Humber was the former Met, traded for Johan Santana, pitching a gem.  And how many Mets have thrown no-hitters after leaving the Mets?  And Al, which is the sixth guy we missed?

Humber lost the no-hitter, and they figured out that Doc Gooden, in fact, was the Met they were missing.  Al, you threw yours BEFORE joining the Mets, so you don’t count.  Of course.

Since my eyes were trained on my screen, I had the misfortune—wholly self-inflicted, I grant—of listening without having the visual to distract.  I could’ve imagined Gary Cohen and Ron Darling dissecting the pitching strategy and the Yankees’ approach at the plate, fruitless as it was, if I could just look up and mute Kay’s insipid musings.  But I couldn’t look up.

The problem here, if I can be more than simply mordant, is that Michael Kay’s been a sports reporter for nearly THIRTY YEARS.  And he’s covered the Yankees since 1987.  He’s worked in newspapers, on the radio, on television for basketball and baseball.  He hosts that Centerstage program, whatever that’s supposed to be.  Can’t he think on his feet?  Can’t he provide some level of commentary more scintillating, more incisive, more clever than musing about the Mets because a guy who had a couple cups of coffee with them is on the mound totally dissecting an AL powerhouse?

No.  The answer is no, he can’t.  If ever he could, he’s been wholly incapable in the small number of games against varied opponents I’ve sampled in the past six years.

And I know I could’ve changed the channel and I know I could’ve shut the TV (projector, actually) off and I know I could’ve gone into my office and put on some music.  But I’m baseball-starved lately, trip to Citi Field on Thursday notwithstanding, and this is the best I could do without going to the freneticism of MLB Tonight Live, which I imagine is what Hell is like for meth burn-outs.

So Humber lost the no-hitter on a hit up the middle by Alex Rodriguez, Kay kept talking, and I kept being a masochist.  At some point though, I uttered to no one the phrase, “Michael Kay makes me want to jump out a window.”

So, being a child of the internets, I ran a Google Images search:

Which produced the following first-page result:

Allow me to draw your attention to the images that drew my attention:

I don’t have much to wrap up with.  But let it be known that searching Google Images for “Michael Kay makes me want to jump out a window” produces, among other results:

  • a screengrab from an episode of The Simpsons in which Bart is described by Prinicipal Skinner as a vortex of distraction;
  • Enterprise helm officer Hikaru Sulu;
  • a nun hitting a bong like Jesus’s life depended on it;
  • some dude with a bunch of cats;
  • two bionic humanoids gazing out onto what I can only presume is a dystopia of epic proportions.

Delving into any of these would’ve been more fulfilling than listening to Michael Kay. 

But then, I wouldn’t have discovered this cornucopia of What? without listening to Michael Kay. So let that bake your noodle.  As I mentioned at the beginning, my noodles were baked well before this whole business began.

I’ve been managing some brief family events and too quick a jaunt to western Massachusetts, which has made me scarce since Thursday, and in fact a little before.  But since I wrote this as a comment on TedQuarters, I figured I’d re-post the mini-review here.  The previous post will show you the burger in question…

“I had the Mex Burger on Thursday, bottom of the 7th. 

Maybe they were off their game after an entire evening of slinging meat, but I wasn’t impressed.  Cheddar wasn’t melted to the burger.  Jack cheese dropped unceremoniously atop.  Bacon had been marinating in its own grease since, seemingly, the Cashen administration (though it was still bacon and therefore awesome).  Jalapenos with no bite.  Guacamole and chipotle aioli would’ve been fine apart, but together as a lumpen pile of goo not altogether appetizing, and in fact heartburn-inducing when mingling with the bacon grease. 

All of this on a patty unfortunately not up to the task of supporting the toppings.  You need a half-pound of burger for such Herculean proportions of everything else.  (I intend to attempt to recreate the Mex Burger at Jackson Hole on the East Side someday.)

To top it off, the brioche bun was greasy, so the damn thing was sliding every which way.  There was no way to pin it all down and take a bite.

The experience wasn’t wholly negative.  The chips were tasty, and the Tootsie Roll pop a clever touch. 

I’ll try it again, but at the beginning of a game, and not after already having had a pulled pork sandwich.  And maybe with a beer sidecar, which would’ve helped digest the whole thing a little better.  Or not at all, but made me buzzed enough not to care.

—Paul”

It was pretty windy out, and those not braving the cold were huddled under the deck.  The chefs did seem beleaguered, and, like I said, I’d already had a pulled pork sandwich.  Which came after two Guinnesses to support Buy Tug A Beer Night, and before a hot chocolate.  That may sound like a ticking time bomb of awful, but I have quite the iron constitution when it comes to certain things.  Beer, pork, hot chocolate, yes.  Grease?  No.

Anyway, likesay, I will be trying the burger again on a fairer night for assessment.  And when I get a chance to sort through photos of Thursday’s game, I will post them. 

In the meantime, enjoy your off-day.

The Mex Burger

My view tonight.

This snippet of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple has been rolling around in my head today…

Oscar: Well they were mine, damn it. I have feet and they make prints. What do you want me to do, climb across the cabinets?

Felix: No! I want you to walk on the floor!

Oscar: I appreciate that; I really do.

They’re arguing, but they aren’t really listening to each other there.  It’s all about their volume and tone.

The baseball season is sixteen games old and while the Mets are performing (forgive me) the way most people expected them to perform, those who are inclined toward rationality and clarity of thought are preaching patience, while pointing out—correctly—that the “most people” referenced herein aren’t necessarily rational or clear minded.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve discovered my favorite daily writers, and they are in fact fairly rational, that I’ve missed most of the drumbeat of Mets negativity.  I regularly suppress the angst of my father, himself a Mets fan, when I read negative commentary, and try my best to do the same while actually watching games.  This is not so easy.  I’m the first-born son of a man who couldn’t even bring himself to cheer Kevin Mitchell tying Game 6 in ‘86.  A formative memory; I was barely four years old. 

(He cheered the winning run—another formative memory.  They’re all lumped in there.)

I do see most of this ping-ponging on Twitter, which I don’t yet take seriously, much like I don’t take Facebook seriously and, hell, much like I don’t take Tumblr seriously.  I’m not one for expressing cogent thoughts in one hundred forty characters.  I’m one for expressing dismay at David Gregory and swearing in one hundred forty characters.  Facebook’s for reposting Times articles and Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” music video.  Don’t ask me what Tumblr’s for; I keep thinking I’m going to break it with this blog “relaunch.” 

But the ping-ponging does make me curious: when is it okay to take the temperature of the season?

That question isn’t rhetorical.  In the face of my slight readership, I ask honestly.  Ten percent of games in the books is not the right time?  Fine; I believe that.  You couldn’t ask me to project budget performance based on ten percent of a fiscal year.  You could ask me a quarter of the way through the year, though I would equivocate like a motherfucker.  “I don’t know what big-ticket items remain to be purchased; I can’t predict what precisely will happen if revenues fall.”  That’s the crux of the work done on budgets, and the work done to reporting against them: analysis of the past to develop plans for the future.  I’ve little desire to equivocate like a motherfucker when it comes to my one of my leisure activities, though. 

Y’know, I occasionally enjoy assembling model airplanes.  No one sees them because they all SUCK.  In fact, I throw them out after hiding them for a week.  “What grown man hides a crappy model airplane they built?” is what I ask myself.  But the Mets will continue playing. I will succumb to the lure of a Corsair F4U-4. I will crap the bed in building it.  The Mets have crapped the bed in playing.  And twenty-five grown men on the active roster can’t hide their crappy model airplane.  They either get better, or they don’t. 

The reason I bother to ask at all when the right time for analysis will be is that I can see myself growing frustrated at equivocation.  Equivocation isn’t such a bad thing, but regular, repeated equivocation will sound as hollow as regular, repeated negativity.  It’s like saying a word over and over again aloud.  It loses all meaning.

Postage.  Postage.  Postage.  Postage.  Postage.  Postage.  Postage.  Postage.

(For you Simpsons fans, pretend I just wrote “Jiminy Jillickers.”  For my friend Nora, pretend it was “rice pilaf.”)

This kind of annihilation of real meaning has the potential to seep into analysis within a game.  It has for me, already.  David Wright struck out twice against Tommy Hanson?  Doesn’t necessarily mean he will when he’s next up to bat.  Jose Reyes scorching the ball?  He may come down to earth before the game is out.

Cripes; I KNOW.  I watch this game to be entertained.  Not to be reminded how random life is.  I’m experiencing a particularly fantastic reminder of same, that has me relentlessly positive these days.  Forgive me if I don’t actively seek the patient middle.

In the end, I suppose I’m feathering the nest here for when I feel the need to come down on somebody hard.  I feel I’m allowed to do so as long as I don’t spin it into dogma (unless and until someone becomes another Oliver Perez, but I’ll never let that kind of thing go).  And I do respect statistical analysis and the pitfalls of small sample size.  In fact, I respect it so much, I’m concerned for the time I decide these guys are going somewhere or not; I don’t want to be lumped in with all the Negative Nellies or Positive Petes in the Mets Commentary Echo Chamber. 

I think I’ll know the difference between a good model airplane and an abortion of one.  I’m not saying I can tell with this one yet, but, you know, you really can tell before you finish, and generally well before.  And then after that, it’s all over but the yelling.

**

I wondered indirectly via Twitter yesterday when a Mets starting pitcher had last put together back-to-back 1-2-3 innings.  Including Dillon Gee doing it yesterday in the 4th and 5th against Atlanta, they’ve done it six times:

Game One: Pelfrey, in the 2nd and 3rd against Florida.

Game Two: Niese, in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (Florida, again).

Game Four: Young, in the 2nd and 3rd against Philadelphia.

Game Nine: Young, again, in the 3rd and 4th, then the 6th and 7th against the Nationals.

Game Thirteen: Capuano, in the 4th and the 5th against the Rockies.

Why did I check?  Ron Darling had mentioned something about Tommy Hanson’s elevated pitch count owing, at least in part, to his tendency to be a strikeout pitcher and thus requiring at least three pitches per batter to record an out.  Mix in some balls and fouls, and your minimum number of 54 pitches in six very quality innings rises, naturally. 

So why does it matter?  I figure a Mets starting pitcher who can wipe out an order in short order can save a bullpen some work, and get an offense back to the plate.

Not that it necessarily matters, or that such a “morale boost” is quantifiable.

But I ignored relief pitchers who could come in for consecutive quick innings (only Games 8 and 15); I ignored quick innings after a single or a homer or a walk; I didn’t get to the heart of the matter, which might be pitch count, or flyball-to-groundball ratio; I didn’t take into consideration that maybe a pitcher could throw 150 pitches in a game—hell, they did it years ago; though they were facing different competition…

Annihilation of meaning.  Or maybe call it statistical relativism.  This is not a negative.  It’s how we deal with the questions we ask and the answers such investigation produces that defines us as having any cache.  I remain concerned that Mets starting pitching can’t put together outs in bunches.  The Mets make outs in bunches and they’re 5-11.  If making outs in bunches reduces the number of chances to score, then doing the same to the opposing team should reduce their number of chances.

Before too long, I will want to ask questions that inure me to much of the relativism but keep me entertained.  This will require a somewhat different vantage point on the whole enterprise.  But this is fine; I’ve been looking for a way to work the phrase “perturbation analysis” into a post.

The Apple: A Mets News Blog That’s 0% Accurate, 100% Funny: Mets To Release DVD Commemorating Big Victory In Atlanta

Oh, delightful.  So, so delightful.

A little word salad for you this morning, courtesy the Mets’ loss last night, Terry Collins, and MetsBlog (for the transcript).

Also, Wordle.