Friday, August 25, 2006

Love is...

If I ever hit my head and wonder who is this woman in my bed and why am I marrying her then I should reread this. It's an email she sent me yesterday. (She's an editor at a local publisher.)

Just had to share that in the new book I'm getting, which is a multicultural reader (essays from and about difficult cultures), in the section called "Comparison and Contrast" the authors have included an essay called "Puritans and Parrotheads: A Columnist Compares the Concerts and Fans of Bruce Springstreen and Jimmy Buffett." !!! Shouldn't this be in the "similarities" section ("A Columnist Compares the Fans of Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Buffett and Concludes That They're Pretty Similar After All: Both Like Crappy Music")?

It should be noted that I once made a mix CD (a mix CD!) for her called No More Springsteen which basically compiled some songs from the sixties and seventies that I will play when I win the lottery and take over WZLX, Boston's sucky classic-rock station. They currently have about twenty songs in rotation and you've heard them all a million times, only the dregs who listen don't care and want to hear "Sweet Home Alabama" again even though they likely own it on five different albums.

I didn't put this one on her CD (she wouldn't have it) but the first song of my WZLX Reign of What-Took-Us-So-Long will be "Sister Ray." That should sift away the dead weight. Song number two? "Sister Ray," the live bootleg version! Shit yeah!

WEEI must be stopped

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2004 world champion Boston Red Sox!

Just wanted to remind everyone of that. Remember then? Glorious times. And it wasn't even two years ago. Aren't we still in a kind of grace period for a spell? I guess not, because this city and region are acting like it's 2000 all over again—it's become impossible to take. Sometimes I think I'm the only sane man around.

I mean, is it a real surprise that this team isn't going to win the World Series this year? Granted, the fact that the Yankees are doing so well—they are clearly the team to beat—isn't helping with the local psyche. But starting pretty early this season (somewhat out of necessity, yes, but also out of a desire for long-term success), Theo said "These young guys are going to have to play sooner or later, and we might as well get it out of the way at the same time. And don't think I won't Lucchino-tize anyone who utters 'rebuilding year' to the media."

Overall, the Sox are below sea level against everyone except the National League and the Orioles. That is amazing. And this is supposed to be a team that deserves high expectations? Not to go all 20/20 hindsight here, but I did understand before the season started that this would be the first year of the youth movement, and I mean ever because I can't remember the team even once saying "Screw it, this is a lost year so let's start over."

(I'd also like to take credit for the George-Clooney-haircut craze from way back, because I had him beat by three years. In 1993 I saw the Butthole Surfers in Gardner at the PA Beach Club (né the Polish-American Citizens Club, renamed as if Kendall Pond were a season-long family destination; similarly, the band was abbreviated as "BH Surfers" on the ticket in a world of prudish acronyms gone mad). It drizzled all day and my hair eventually matted forward, prompting a friend to remark how cool it looked and paving the way for an international phenomenon. When Clooney and From Dusk Till Dawn stole my thunder three years later, anyone who said to me "You have George Clooney's haircut!" had to listen to a ten-minute tirade about how he really had mine.)

The Beckett deal really sold me on this rebuilding thing, even if he has been struggling (despite last night's strong showing against a good Angels team). In the past the team would have traded for Greg Maddux or Kenny Rogers or some other quick fix on a career downslope who, when it was all said and done, didn't really help (see Frank Viola and David Cone). And as haphazard (being nice here) as the young bullpen has been, did we really want to ship them out to bring in some journeyman third starter or reliever who would ultimately bring nothing to the table (Larry Anderson)? People are expecting the Nomar-level deal every July now, but the stars aligned just right for that one—let's not get greedy. (Contrasting this, Abreu is a great move for the Yankees. No good pitching available, so why not bring in a solid outfielder with a good OBP and score some more runs? He wouldn't have fit into the Sox line-up as successfully because he'd be asked to carry too much in what has become a wildly inconsistent offense, and we would have had to give up a lot. Consequently, if Pluto gets pissed off because it's no longer a planet and spins wildly out of its orbit, taking the Yankees team plan down with it, New York is done because they have no farm system—no one—they can promote. Steinbrenner would be better off buying the Brewers.)

Anyway, what it comes down to is this: the Yankees are probably going to win the world series, and THAT is what has everyone so worked up. If they were out of the picture and the Sox were doing this poorly then I guarantee it wouldn't be as big a deal. But you know what? We can still watch Manny and Papi on a daily basis, and will be able to for the next couple of years. Beckett will probably turn things around in the off-season, and once Lester and Papelbon mature we're going to have some exciting, long-term pitching for the first time in my twenty years of following the team. Also, we get to root for a team that is almost always competitive, encapsulated by a soul-crushing game seven loss in 2003 and then the transcendent victories in 2004. We're stuck with a winner here, and fans of few other teams can say that. (Yes, I do think this team will be back, probably starting next year. And yes, it will be good for everyone involved if they miss the playoffs this year so we can all cool out for six months.)

Lastly, we should just be happy that Captain Brady & His Patriot Men are back in our lives—now there is a team to get passionate about, counting competitors (Colts, Steelers) with whom we can have healthy rivalries, instead of the collective self-loathing the Yankees inspire in many mouth-breathing "Sox fans." Go Pats!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Between light and delete

In January, just in time for the Super Bowl (which sucked—and not only because those no-talent hacks who call themselves the Steelers won it), A. and I broke down and got a DVR box. I find DVR to be one of those technological developments that is impossible to recover from, like evolving from dial-up internet to broadband: there is no going back. Our timing was good because my VCR has been dying a slow death for about two years now, to the point where every now and then it would make a loud snapping sound out of nowhere, despite being switched off and empty. It was the right move.

I kind of fought it for a while, because I suspected it would ruin my life. And it has a bit. As I wrote a while ago, I have a tough time dealing with our Netflix queue and knowing we have so many rentals to plow through, and now I have to deal with all the shit we record on a near-daily basis. If anything sounds even remotely interesting it's going to get recorded (for instance, it was Red Dawn a few weeks ago; I was in middle school when that came out and we all thought it was awesome, because we knew those commies were bad—even if we didn't know why; and it turns out, of course, that twenty-plus years later it is a dreadful, dreadful movie on every level). The best part is the display that tells you how much of the hard drive is full—I become obsessed with idle passions that involve getting under a certain number by the end of such-and-such weekend. These are serious goals I set for myself. (I'll lighten up every now and then, though, like when we're at sixty-nine percent. I laugh and laugh.)

We're big on the "series recording" feature too. This only adds to the pile, and drives up our damned percentage. A. and I get into little contests too, like who can get through all of his or her shows first. A typical example of this is pitting my reruns of The Twilight Zone against her frequently aired What Not to Wear. We're so cute.

I have gotten into The Twilight Zone though, for real. I watched it for the first time a few years ago, probably on a July 4 weekend because the Sci-Fi Channel always runs a marathon then (not sure why). I think it was "Back There," still one of my favorites, where Russell "And the Rest" Johnson travels back in time and tries to prevent the Lincoln assassination. Just a great story-telling show. I'd become curious about it mostly because of The Simpsons, which frequently spoofs some of the better-known episodes, though I had always written it off as for nerds only. On the contrary, I was hooked immediately. Or not contrarily, and I'm a nerd too. (This is eerily similar to my eventual embrace of the Beatles: an ill-informed opinion of what they really were—i.e., Paul McCartney's worst—followed by randomly hearing "It's All Too Much" and instantly understanding what all the hype was about.)

So thankfully I no longer need to throw an eight-hour cassette into the VCR every July 4 and be happy with whatever episodes they're running. Now I watch what I want and then hit the delete button as fast as I can. Progress!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

All your chair are belong to us

I have a destructive habit. At my new job, where I've been now for about two months, I have a chair that enables me. It's one of those office-type chairs that allows you to lean back, though I like to (as the athletes say) take it to another level. I'm still within the manufacturer's boundaries of leaning, only I lean and then unlean and then lean, etc., all day long. That is to say, I rock in my chair.

It's not what I would call a nervous habit or anything, I just legitimately enjoy rocking. I always have. And no matter how much shit my new co-workers (playfully) give me about it, I won't be stopping. It's unconscious at this point. (In fact, when A. and I met on the job a few years ago she vividly remembers me rocking back and forth in my (glorious!) chair while her boss brought her around to my cube to introduce us.)

Anyway, about a month into the job I noticed the chair started squeaking a little bit, though low enough that I assumed I was the only one who could hear it. Thing is, I could feel it a little bit too, like a couple of things within the mechanism were out of whack. After a few days of this it was unmistakably making noise, enough that others around me started joking about it. And then the noise grew.

It eventually became intrusive enough that some people, unfamiliar with my "quirk," walked the floor trying to find the source of "that sound." And then Friday I get a call from the group's administrative assistant: "Can you let me know when your new chair arrives?" Um, new chair?

Yes, my chair and I must have disrupted someone so much—someone with chair-purchasing power—to say "Get that bastard a new goddamn chair!" And at this rate, if I'm here for three years, that will only need to happen about eighteen more times.