Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Finally Snapped

Hey Everybody!

I'm in a bit of a creative lull these days due to work being insanely busy, and much of my personal life being tied up with running from one event to another.

So, after talking to my dawg Nate (of Redheaded Stepchild notoriety), I've decided to do what all good artists do when they've run up against a wall...

I'm going to dive into some things that I find creatively stimulating and talk about them ad nauseum.

In the coming weeks (and likely months) I'm going to start at the beginning of the great Disney Animated Film Catalog and watch each and every one of the feature animated films released by the Disney company. In some cases, it's been years since I watched these movies, and so I'm going to write a new perspective review of each of them.

I'll start with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Soon. Stay tuned.

Also, I read the sequel or, as the pretentious may call it the "companion" novel to/of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I'll probably be talking about that sooner or later too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sense Memory

The other day I was getting out of my car, and I smelled something familiar. It wasn't identifiable right away. Even now I couldn't tell you the exact mix of things that created the scent. It was just one of those "outside" smells that you encounter from time to time. Except this one triggered a faint memory. That of stroller rentals and camel ride tickets and the Cincinnati Zoo auto gate.

I worked at the Zoo when I was 16 and 17. I hardly ever think of it, even though it was one of the most pressure-free, fun jobs I've ever had. And yet, yesterday I picked up a faint smell of some bush in some parking lot, and my brain immediately shot back to those days renting strollers and avoiding peacocks.

Senses are amazing things. So are memories.

There are certain smells that trigger more powerful, more specific, memories... Every time I smell a certain type of plastic, my mind immediately jumps to the He Man figures of my childhood. Every time I smell oranges I think of Soarin' at Disney World.

The great John Wooden died last week at the age of 99. When I heard the news, much like with a strangely familiar smell triggering a memory, I immediately thought of my grandpa. The firmness of that association really took me by surprise, but after thinking about it, I realized that once grandpa died in 2004, I had never heard the name John Wooden without also recalling some detail about my grandpa. Almost like his death made that association more intense.

My grandfather, Richard Fraley, wasn't a soft guy. By the time I was eight, I had a healthy wariness for his way. He wasn't easy on me because I was a kid. I'm told that he'd mellowed a great deal by the time I was born. That's kind of hard to imagine. He was the kind of guy who was always teaching a lesson, or giving a lecture. He never felt happier than when charting a lecture on his legal pad, or telling you how to do something better. When you succeeded because of his tutelage, the glee on his face was never more evident. He embraced no role more vigorously than that of "educator".

As a fairly sensitive kid I had a very difficult time with my grandpa. He was tough on me. I learned to relate to him through sports.

This is the man who taught me how to shoot a free throw. How to shoot a bow and arrow. How to fish. How to play tennis.

We'd found common ground. I wasn't the athlete my uncles were, but I wasn't a slouch either, and I feel like he respected my tenacity. (I'm not sure I'd ever call it tenacity, personally. I'd more call it being fucking pissed that my grandpa was throwing elbows during our basketball game.) It wasn't easy to talk to him about many things, but I would be able to listen to him talk about sports and the people he admired, and it gave us a connection.

There weren't many people who my grandpa viewed as great. Joe Paterno was one. That may have been his Pennsylvania roots poking through, but you never heard a bad thing about Joe Paterno when my grandpa was around. To this day, I root for Penn State. When I think of Joe Paterno, I think of Grandpa.

Oscar Robertson was, as far as my grandpa was concerned, the greatest basketball player who ever played. No matter what I read about Oscar's personality and the surliness and bitterness of Oscar as a person in today's world, I can never fully detach myself from that the exploits my grandpa talked about with such reverence. When I think of Oscar Robertson, I think of Grandpa.

It's amazing, really... What random people and things our mind brings together. After a whole week of hearing about how incredible John Wooden was. How many lives he touched. What amazing integrity he had... All I could think of was how my grandpa had Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success in the basement of his house.

When I heard about the death of John Wooden, I was sad. I missed my grandpa all over again.

Memories are an amazing thing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

All Growns Up

Just a quick one tonight...

I'd like to give a shout out to my sister Briana. She just graduated college!

Congrats Sister.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Something Stinks: An informal poll

Roller Coasters might do it.

I'm going to stray a little from the usual high brow discourse on American Idol, Disney World, and Baseball for an entry, because I was reminded today of a story I heard a couple of years ago, and I wanted to get your opinion. Warning... Bad language follows.

First, the background....

A friend of mine (we'll call her Smuckers) was a department manager for a fairly large company, and one of her employees (we'll call her Whiskers) was by all accounts terrible in every facet of her job. Especially in the non-work facets... She was constantly late. She had a terrible attitude. She smelled bad. I mean... I'm not tossing stones or anything. I can be cranky at work. I have been late. I get it...

Anyway, one day Whiskers was running especially late for work, so she called up Smuckers and had the following exchange...


Smuckers: Hello?

Whiskers: I'm gonna be late, because I was almost at work, but now I have to go home.

Smuckers: Why?

Whiskers: Well, I shit my pants.

Smuckers: ... ... ...

Smuckers: ... ... ...

Whiskers: Hello?

Smuckers: Um... Just get here when you can.

Okay... so, I have a couple of thoughts/questions...

A) If you're running late because you actually shit your pants (!) would you ever in a million years call your boss and tell them THAT is the reason you're running late? I believe that had I shit my pants that:

1) I'd almost definitely crash my car so I had a reasonable excuse for actually shitting my pants
2) I'd definitely definitely not call to say I was running late. I'd call to say I wasn't coming in at all and I would never admit to shitting my pants. I would probably consider never coming back... or ever straying more than 2 steps away from a toilet ever again.
3) I'd probably end up burning my car.
4) Most realistically I would make up just about anything to avoid telling the truth that I had, in fact, shit my pants.

B) If you're running late for any other reason, would you EVER lie and say you shit your pants? I'm trying to wrap my mind around what kind of horrible situation I'd have to be in to make the mental leap that whatever I did, shitting my pants is a better outcome.
The possibilities are few. Here are some reasons that I would be more likely to claim to have shit my pants rather than admit:

1) My crack deal went bad.
2) I lost track of time masturbating.

That's it. Except that doesn't really tell the whole story, because if it's NOT true. If Whiskers DIDN'T shit her pants, I can't think of a single (not one single) truth that requires the lie of "I shit my pants". I mean... What happened to "My kid/cat/plant is sick." or "I accidentally left the oven on/door open/candle burning." or even, dare I say it, "I overslept."?

Does this not strike anyone else as being totally insane? Honestly I can't figure any situation that would require me to ever tell my boss that I shit my pants, whether it's true or not.

So... the poll...
What's Worse?
To shit your pants and not think up anything else to use as an excuse?
To not shit your pants, but use THAT as your excuse for being late?
pollcode.com free polls
Sorry to go on and on, but seriously....

As a side note: Whiskers also once volunteered to Smuckers the unsolicited information that she had to go home at lunch because she vomited on herself at her desk.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Saddest Baseball Moment

Yup. That's an out.

My buddy Alan and I have often talked about the nature of umpiring in baseball. Alan firmly believes that baseball umpires should be held fully accountable for their terrible calls. I have always agreed. There's this feeling that they're above reproach... They cultivate this by tossing anyone who gives them a sideways glance. I mean... They literally can eject a player for simply arguing balls and strikes. It's completely out of hand.

Umpires make mistakes... In fact, it's always been argued that the "human element" is integral to the game itself. The very fabric of what makes baseball "baseball". This is the argument that has always been made against instant replay. It takes away that human element. Well... you know what I say about that?

Bullshit. It's bullshit. It's always been bullshit, and it will always be bullshit. You can't convince me that a game maintains its integrity by allowing, even implicitly encouraging fuck-ups by the people expressly assigned to make sure the game is played properly.

Until tonight I've felt there was at least room for argument. I'm always up for a debate, and I could always allow for room to be wrong. Like I said... Until tonight.

Tonight, Armando Gallaraga pitched a perfect game. The 21st perfect game in major league baseball history. Let me put that in perspective... Jajor League Baseball is over 110 years old and there have only been 21 perfect games. It's the rarest event in professional sports. It the hardest thing to do. Before this season, there had only been 18 ever. This season there have been 3. That's never happened before, and it's only June 2nd (well.... technically it's June 3rd now, but whatever.)

So, what about that blog title? "My Saddest Baseball Moment". Well... Even though Armando Gallaraga did something that had only been done 20 times before in baseball history, he will not be credited for it. Even though everybody knows and even acknowledges that he pitched a perfect game, the box score shows that he pitched a one-hit shut-out. A truly miraculous thing itself.

Why is the box-score lying? Well, because an umpire badly botched a call that resulted in the last batter of the 27 batters to reach base on what was deemed a hit. So badly did that umpire both the call that he quoted after the game: "It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the shit out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."

You know how you know a call is a travesty? When the umpire himself admits it.

See for yourself how fucking terrible it was...

God damn does that make me sad. I can honestly say that I have never in my life been as sad about a baseball game as I am right now. It's a combination of a lot of things. I feel terrible for the poor guy who probably will never sniff another chance to pitch a game without flaw. I feel terrible for the umpire who will have to live with that mistake for the rest of his life. I feel terrible for the fans of Detroit, who have already had a tough season. And I feel terrible for the game I love that may have finally found the ultimate example of why it has lost touch with reality, just like people have said for years. I'm just so bummed.

If this situation isn't a call to immediately institute instant replay, then I don't know what is. I've always defended baseball... People called it boring, and I've called it deliberate. People have called it static, and I've called it poetic. People have called it old-fashioned, and I've called it noble. As Father said in "Ragtime": "You'll like baseball. It's a civilized past time."

Well... You know what isn't civilized? Having the technology and the authority to make the right call, but fucking it up so badly, that this poor guy will forever have to hold on to some spikey little asterisk for the rest of his life. Players after the game were saying things like "I know in my heart I played in a perfect game." and "I'm going to have him sign a ball on the day he threw his perfect game".

Well... he shouldn't have to hold on to the consolation prize of "knowing in his heart". If Bud Selig had a single tiny testicle in his entire shriveled body, he would make an announcement immediately that the call has been overturned, and that Armando Gallaraga has his Perfect Game.

That's the only justice. It makes me sick otherwise. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to defend baseball again if this isn't made right. I know I'm rambling, and I know I should have gone to bed an hour ago, but I'm captivated by this story. I had to write about the pit I feel in my stomach when I watch his jubilation at achieving something so rare get robbed from him by a mistake.

Everyone makes mistakes. That's true. The thing is... there's nothing that says we absolutely MUST live with those mistakes.

Make it right Baseball. Make it right, or forever be branded a game so out of touch with reality that I'm not sure I will ever be able to feel exactly the same way about the sport I love again.

I'll leave you with the words of Joe Girardi, Manager of the New York Yankees (a team completely uninvolved with this particular game): "I think [overturning the call] is something that baseball should look at possibly because if they do change it, it doesn't affect the game. It doesn't affect the outcome. I know it will be the first time that it's ever happened but you're talking about a very unusual circumstance."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Glee: A Weekly Stretch of Credulity

I bet these guys wouldn't let Puck knock them up.

Okay, so I'm 3 episodes behind on Glee (including tonight's episode). The Tofu Muchacha and I just finished watching "Laryngitis".

I have a couple of things to say...

1) I find the show wildly entertaining. It's hilarious... the music is fun. I would honestly listen to Britney say dumb things all day long.

2) It makes me wish my high school had a glee club (or really... let's be honest.. Show Choir is really what they are.)

3) I'm fairly certain that if Mr. Schuester ever does a rap again (see: Gold Digger, Ice Ice Baby, etc...) that I may die of embarrassment FOR him.

4) Lima, Ohio... while not a particularly interesting place maybe, can not possibly have that kind of concentration of ridiculous vocal talent. I mean... I know it doesn't. I have been there. To have the crop of 7 or so really excellent singers the main high school has is already less than plausible, but then add in the "ghetto" high school and the high school where Vocal Adrenaline lives... no fucking way.

5) Also there's no way that Will Schuester, being the complete and total weenie that he is, would be considered such a catch for the 13 or so women throwing themselves at him at every turn. What was it? The weird attraction to hanging out with teenagers? The being flat-ass broke? The rapping? Please don't tell me it's the rapping. I won't be able to stand it.

6) More on the rapping... You can NOT convince me that, were Mr. Schuester to rap the way he does, the kids find him even remotely cool. They all seem to like (or at least tolerate him). If that guy walked in and started in with Gold Digger in any classroom I was ever in during high school, he would have lost every ounce of coolness immediately. We certainly would not have joined in. Even if we were living in a weird musical world like these people.

7) Does anyone else find it absolutely hilarious that this glee club full of supposed losers (who are all insanely hot for high schoolers) has a full fucking band at their disposal? It's not just that the music starts like it does in most musicals, but they are even all "Hit it fellas!", and then this flawless, amazing rock band just picks the perfect key and starts absolutely KILLING it. Every song. So you're telling me that not only does this town have an unusually high rate of talented singers per capita, but also of studio quality musicians. (all under the age of 18).

8) I know the show is trying to sell the whole "Everybody hates Rachel Berry" thing... but are we supposed to? I mean... I kind of do. Even though I love Lea Michelle.

Anyway... these are just some quick thoughts... I will write a full post on the season once it's complete and I've seen all the eps. It's definitely been one of the more enjoyable shows I've watched this year... but it's also totally insane. I can't tell if that's on purpose. I'll have to think about it.

OH... Please no spoilers in the comments.