Thursday, August 31, 2006

Greenland Farmers

One of my favorite teachers, ever, was my seventh-grade Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Cornett. In our school district, seventh grade meant American History, and Mrs. Cornett not only had an encyclopedic knowledge of her subject (she was the type to spend one summer in Colonial Virginia, the next touring Lexington and Concord and other Massachusetts haunts, the next touring Civil War battlefields), but also had a flair for making Ulysses S. Grant and William Howard Taft sound as if they lived just up to road, in Deer Valley. Much of the second half of the school year was given over to student oral reports; before we went off to the library, she would hand us a mimeographed list of instructions, chief among which was, "Don't bore us with facts, tell us INTERESTING STORIES!" For that was her credo: American history was one fascinating event after another. Chiefly because of her, I very nearly chose history as a major in college (probably as a precursor to law school) before settling on English.

One of her most memorable stories started way before Columbus, the tale of the Vikings' brief exploration of North America, made possible by the emigation of whole tribes from Norway to Iceland to Greenland at around AD 900. Here, we were told, was the great historical tidbit: Leif Ericson, the most famous of the North American explorers, had a father named Eric the Red, who was not only a pillager in his own right, but also one of the first example of an unscrupulous real estate agent. (Think Glengarry Glen Ross meets Thor from The Avengers.) It was Eric, we were told, who named a solid sheet of ice (the biggst island in the world) Greenland, ironically coaxing his fellow Vikings, heretofore living on Iceland (which was, is, mostly green) to purchase a plot of land owned by him. It was only (the tale went) when Eric's dupes reached Greenland that they discovered an ice shelf, and so they pushed south, south to a place we now call America . . .

Well, almost.

As this article makes clearGreenland wasn't always a solid block of ice. In fact, as historical reasearch has demonstrated, a thousand years ago the southern portion of Greenland was quite arable farmland. Seven hundred years ago, during an unseasonably warm period in the earth's history, Greenland's farms did a brisk business, and such was the trading between islands and continent that the wine brewed in England threatened to put French vineyards out of business.

Now? Well, until very recently, Greenland was a sheet of ice. And wine stomped in England's climate was sold in bargain barrels in Picadilly Circus.

And it's warmer now. We can blame human behavior. But before? What caused Greenland to be so warm in 1300? The SUVs?

Yanks win series from Tigers, 2-1


Just as things get as good as they are, I have to go and get a second job.

In the last leisurely weekend of my summer, I received a phone call from an old graduate school acquaintance, who is now the Lower Division Coordinator at my old graduate school, the University of Houston. Apparently the English Department was in the market for lecturers, and a mutual friend recommended me. I took it, knowing, first, I could only take classes at the beginning of the day, leaving the rest of the hours for my primary job. So my schedule is as follows:


7 am: Awake, shower, breakfast

8 am: Drive to Houston Community College

8:30-2: Perform Department Chair duties

2:00: Drive home

2:30-3:30: Lapse into coma

3:30-4:30: Work out

4:30-5:30: Drive back to campus

6:00-8:00: Teach HCC night school


5:30 am: Awake, etc.

6:30: Drive to U of H

7-9:45: Teach two U of H classes

9:45: Race to HCC

10:00-3:30: Perform chair duties

3:30: Drive home

This is all well and good, and in keeping with what I must do, except that I never seem to get home before 8 pm in any case. And so the Yanks' great run has been only a rumor.

Still, good show. Magic number is 22.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jeremy Piven wins Emmy for 'Entourage'

I was late in coming to Jeremy Piven, who seemed to exist on the fringe of so much of what I liked on television and movies. He was a studio factotum in The Player, in a role that culd have been played by a thousand others. He was the George Constanza character in the "Jerry" show within "Seinfeld," a brilliant take, only he had maybe six lines. He was the star of the movie PCU, something that didn't work because 1) pushing thirty, with his hair already receding, he came off as less a college student than any of the late-twentysomething guys in "Animal House," and 2) the script sucked. He was great for a season on "The Larry Sanders Show," and then was jettisoned, whether by his choice or someone else's, I don't know.

Funny thing is, I used to really wonder about him. Not classically handsome, going bald in his twenties, bouncing to and from projects that were either unworthy of him or that he never stayed at very long, I would wonder: who is this guy? And will we ever see him in something that demands our prolonged attention?

It is a wonderful thing when a performer meets his moment. I keep thinking of Paul Lynde, a credible comic actor, Uncle Arthur on "Bewitched" and the father on Bye. Bye, Birdie, who nevertheless found immortality as the middle square on "Hollywood Squares." Lynde's comic timing was so masterful that record albums were released featuring his byplay with Peter Marshall; I've never been much for game shows (outside of watching that collection of alcoholics slur their way through an episode of "Match Game 75," or whatever the year happened to be), but Lynde was something else.

So it has been these past few years with Piven, who has finally found his voice as Ari. Ari is something of an ongoing car crash, in that you can't look away; he's also someone whose forces of resolve you have to admire. He is, let's face it, the reason we lan our Sunday nights around a certain half-hour. When he won the Emmy tonight, I was stunned; I simply assumed this to be his second or third, not his first. The man and the role have met.

Much the same takes place with Keifer Sutherland and "24." But let that go for now.

It was enough for me that Geena Davis didn't win for "Commander in Chief." Small miracles.

The Texans' saga continues

In Denver, the Texans lose to the Broncos in their third exhibition game.

No shame, really, except for the latest exploits of Mario Williams, THE MAN THE TEXANS DRAFTED INSTEAD OF REGGIE BUSH.

Two tackles.

Zero sacks.

Three tackles in three games.


Yankees 11, Angels 8

And so the Bombers end the most lackluster week since the first of April precisely where they started it: 6 1/2 games in front of the Red Sox. Seven in the all-important loss column.

The Direct TV curtain was drawn across this game, so I'll simply glean what I can from the box score.

I first heard the name "Bernie Williams" in 1989, at the time of his promotion from the depths of the minors to AA Albany-Colonie, in connection with how hard the Atlanta Braves were trying to pry him loose from New York. The story was that the Braves had offered the Yankees their choice of any two players in their organization except for Tom Glavine, John Smoltz or Dale Murphy. The Yankees said No, not even for Dale Murphy.

(I read all this in the New York Post one March weekday during Spring Break in graduate school, on a ninety-minute subway ride that took my girlfriend and I from the Bronx down to Manhattan. The plan, hatched by the woman and me, was to take our lunch to Central Park; she had grown up in Ecuador, I had grown up in Arizona and gone to college in California, and both of us were innocent of the most fundamental piece of truth known by every New Yorker, that March is the most miserable month of the year to be outdoors. The icy winds sent us right off the park and into FAO Schwartz for nothing more that heat; I swear, as we walked among the plus toys and working train set, I saw steam come off our bodies, as if we were extras in Dr. Zhivago. Anyway, back to the post.)

The offer, and the refusal, became a significant moment in baseball history, and indicative of the next decade-plus. In 1989, the Braves and Yankees were the laughingstocks of baseball, but this would soon change. In Atlanta, John Schuerholz was quietly putting together a team that, starting in 1991, would terrorize the National League right up until this summer. Meanwhile, Steinbrenner was just being weaned off the disastrous trades of the previous decade, the trading away of Fred McGriff, Willie McGee, Doug Drabek and (the previous summer) Jay Buhner. No doubt the system of sucking it up and being patient with the kids was helped by Steinbrenner's two-year suspension, which began the following summer, but the holding-on to Bernie Williams would be a sort of bellwhether, as the development of home-grown players such as Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada would pave the way for four World Series championships in five years, the greatest dynasty since Joe DiMaggio's and Mickey Mantle's careers overlapped. For many, the Yankees' return to glory was signaled by the arrival of Jeter; to me, it was the sight of Bernie Williams gliding across centerfield on the way to turning a double into a run-saving out.

Throughout the twentieth century, two positions in sports have transcended their office-holders and teams and even their sports, to become metaphors for prestige. The first is quarterback of Notre Dame. The second is centerfielder for the Yankees: Combs, DiMaggio, Mantle, Rivers. And then Bernie, and now Damon. No, Bernie won't follow so many of his predecessors into the Hall of Fame, not quite. But in looking at his line today--4 for 5, two home runs--it was nice to remember how much he has meant to the team, and how he can still turn it on at times.

Angels 12, Yankees 7

Ahhhhhhhh . . .

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Birds 4, Yanks 2; Angels 5, Yanks 4

And the post-Sox hangover continues. Counting the three games leading up to the Red Sox and the four leading away, the Yankees are 2-5.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Two "Asian" lads who "wanted a bit of fun."

The UK Daily Mail is up in arms about two "Asian" (ie Muslim) youths thrown off an international flight plane when several passengers refused to fly with them. The Independent makes clear the lads' oceans of graciousness; the boys beg people not to be paranoid about Muslims, and one adds,
The Daily Mirror
writes, "We might be Asian, but we're two ordinary lads who wanted a bit of fun."

Curiously, the story makes no mention--none--about what the gentlemen's idea of "a bit of fun" might be. Nor is their any mention in any of the 47 comments on the Mirror story, one of which sniffs that he wouldn't fly that particular airline anymore, "Because they might not like Scottish people."

Count on Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs to unearth the root of the panic. Money quote:

It was then, (one passenger) said, that his wife Susanne began talking to another passenger who said she had sat next to the two men.

She said she had heard them saying it was the last 30 minutes of their lives,” said Mr Wearden.

Ha ha ha ha ha! What fun.

Mariners 6, Yankees 5

In a game where Giambi, Cano, Rivera, Kyle and Proctor get the night off.

Still: should have won.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wait, how does this game work?

Surely it was our invasion of Iraq that made us more vulnrable to terrorists. That explains terrorist plots against us. And England. And Spain. And Germany.

Oh, wait, about that last one . . .

BERLIN - A Lebanese student suspected of planting a train bomb that failed to explode had contacts in Hamburg, authorities said Tuesday, the latest link to the northern port city where three of the Sept. 11 suicide pilots prepared for their attacks.

Then, this:

The planned attack here stunned Germans who thought the country's vehement opposition to the Iraq war would insulate it from becoming a terror target almost five years after the attacks on Washington and New York.

Two points:

1. Yeah, go figure.

2. Not once does anyone quoted in the article express a sentiment within ten miles of the one the article makes a point of citing.

One must conclude that the author simply made the second passage up.

The magnitude of it all

Funny when you fall behind. Today was my first day at my new assignment (English lecturer at the University of Houston) while demands continue in job number one, Department Chair of Arts & Humanities at Houston Community College. With all that, and quite without his knowledge, I have brought in SunDevil Joe to make sense of the last four warped, twisted, fabulous days (I'd say, the best since the Yanks beat the Sox 19-8 to go up three games to one . . . ah, never mind). SDJ's assessment:

It is difficult to properly digest/take in/comprehend what happened in those four infamous days. After all, it hadn't happened in some 50 years. However, the following (courtesy of DAN GRAZIANO AND BRENDAN PRUNTY Star-Ledger Staff )
heped me recap the salient moments of the massacre.

Five Key Moments in the Yankees-Red Sox series

1. Johnny Damon leads off Game 1 with a triple against Boston starter Jason Johnson. Damon would score moments later on a Derek Jeter single. The Red Sox never recovered, and neither did Johnson, who was designated for assignment between games of Friday's doubleheader.

2. Derek Jeter hits a two-out, three-run double against Boston reliever Mike Timlin in the top of the seventh inning of Friday's night game. The hit turned a 10-8 Boston lead into an 11-10 Yankees lead and an eventual win.

3. Jorge Posada drives in three runs with a two-out triple in the top of the sixth inning Saturday to blow the game open.

4. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh on Sunday night, and Boston leading 5-3, Scott Proctor strikes out Wily Mo Pena and gets Doug Mirabelli to fly out to right. The Yankees go on to tie and then score three in the 10th inning.

5. Bobby Abreu's one-out double in the top of the sixth inning against David Wells in the series finale breaks a scoreless tie. The Yankees go on to win 2-1 and sweep a five-game series at Fenway Park for the first time since September of 1943.

Couldn't agree more.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Yankees 2, Boston 1

My treat to myself is that I'm gong to sit down tomorrow and contemplate the wonderfulness of the last four days.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yankees 8, Red Sox 5 (10)

Tonight's question and answer session:

Q: How worse could matters have gone for Boston this evening?

A: Consider what poor shape they would have been in had they won: Four out in the loss column, third place in the Wild Card. Due back in a matter of hours behind injured David Wells. Jonathan Papelbon, after a 40-plus pitch meatgrinder, unavailable for duty. Up against Corey Lidle, an innings-eater willing to go seven innings if it means pitching underhand.

Now? Now the Red Sox are six out in the loss column, and still third in the Wild Card, with everything else the same. Due back, etc. Jonathan Papelbon, etc.

(Understand, the Yankees came into the series with the advantage of a front-runner; Torre was willing sacrifice a game--i.e., start Sydney Ponson in Friday's nightcap--if it meant preserving the rotation and resting the bullpen. Well, behind Abreu, Damon and Melky, the Yankees went ahead and won that game and the two subsequent, leaving Torre, theoretically, with the rest-the-bullpen game still in his pocket. Do Myers-Proctor-Rivera come out tomorrow in a 4-2 New York lead? Probably. A 4-2 deficit? Maybe not.)

Q: Had Theo Epstein hired a beer vendor to manage tonight's game, would the Red Sox had won?

A: Yes. Not bringing Jonathan Papelbon out to start the eighth inning was, I think, the worst managerial decision by a Red Sox manager since Grady Little left Pedro in to face Jorge Posada in the eighth inning, Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS (which in turn was the worst managerial decision ever made since the one made ten minutes earlier, sending Pedro out to start the eighth. Okay, good times. Back to tonight.)

Consider. Papelbon was coming off four days' rest, which meant at least three more days than any other relief pitcher plying his trade in the Greater Boston area. Did anyone doubt he'd be summoned before the ninth, which probably meant he'd be pulled into a jam, at a time when a four-day rest would mean command, and not fatigue, would be the main consideration, against the most patient team in baseball?

Never mind. Mike Timlin, a Yankee-killer of years gone past, surrenders an infield hit to Damon. Then he hits Jeter. Left-handed specialist Javier Lopez comes in, surrenders a fifty-pitch walk to Abreu to load the bases. Whereupon he is yanked for Papelbon . . . with lefty Giambi due up.

Look, I live in Houston, so I see enough from Phil Garner to go, "Huh?", from time to time. Okay, six times a week. But here we have a real head-scratcher. Lord knows I'm rooting for the guy to screw up, I want his team to lose, but really: What the crap was Francona thinking? I mean, what? In a situation like that, you either bring in Lopez to face both Abreu and Giambi, and damn the consequences, or you bring in Papelbon to replace Timlin.

But really, you don't bring Timlin in in the first place.

Which brings me to the beer vendor.

Tom Boswell once had a piece of advice for Tony LaRussa as one of his teams choked away another World Series: STOP THINKING. It would be wise counsel to his descendants, who were brought up on the fact that 18 years ago, Rick Honeycutt worked the eighth inning for the A's, and Dennis Eckersley the ninth, and 'twas ever thus.

I happen to agree with that system, by and large.

But if your best relief pitcher is your most-rested pitcher is the one pitcher in your bullpen who hasn't pitched in five days?

You bring him in. To start the eighth. That's the beer vendor's move. As it turned out, Papelbon needed to go two full innings anyway . . . only after the bases were loaded with none out. He did work his way out of trouble in the eighth, surrendering only a run on Giambi's sac fly, but with the tying run on third, he labored much more than he needed to to get the second and third outs. By the time Derek Jeter came to the mound in the ninth, he was spent.

Q: With the tying run on third, two outs; with Jeter apt to try to punch the ball to right against a hard-throwing right-hander such as Papelbon, what possible reason did right fielder Willy Mo Pena have for playing back nearly at the warning track, well out of reach of a Jeter bloop that otherwise would have been a game-ending pop-up had he been playing his regular position?

A: None.

Q: Once Jeter drove Melky in to tie the game, did we know it was over, and that the Yankees would win?

A: No. We knew it was over and that the Yankees would win once Doug Mirabelli's comebacker settled in Rivera's glove, ending the ninth. You never can tell with the Red Sox--except when they send reliever Hansen to the mound to start the tenth in a tie game. (Allow me to write Jim Rome's monologue for tomorrow: "What, was Bob Stanley not available? Al Nipper otherwise occupied? Certainly Jim Burton could have come in? Perhaps the immortal Bobby Sprowl could have given them some innings?") Home run, double, home run. A bit of excitement in the bottom of the ninth, but basically, that was it.

I'm going to bed.

Matt Leinart: Arizona Cardinal

Last night, toward the end of the first half of the Cardinals-Patriots preseason game, USC alum Matt Leinart took the field at Gillette Stadium to begin his pro football career.

Leinart's appearance in a Cardinal uniform felt, finally, like the closing of a book, in a way neither this past Rose Bowl nor NFL Draft Day could. The Rose Bowl was a torment that extended beyond mere the mere losing of a game, or even a championship. Matt Leinart came into the 2006 Rose Bowl with his place in college football already secure: a Heisman Trophy, two National Championships, two Bowl MVPs. However, had the Trojan defense managed one stop of two in the last seven minutes, had Leinart converted one of two fourth-and-shorts, had Reggie Bush not attempted that ill-fated lateral--had any of these things happened, Matt Leinart's place in history would have transcended college football. He would have elevated himself to that rareified air in which his accomplishments would be judged within the context of all major college sports, a place now--still--occupied only by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor as was), with his three Final Fours, three National Championships, three MVPs.

Well, as we know, Leinart's final ascent didn't happen. And so we will have to content ourselves by placing Leinart on the first string of college football's all-time squad, and leaving it at that. (When making out the starting twenty-two, historians will say, "Okay, start with Leinart at QB and Charles Woodsen at cornerback; they're the two nobody argues about." Then we can debate Herschel Walker vs. Archie Griffin and all the rest.)

Draft day, to me at least, was all about the Houston Texans' historically awful decision to pick defensive end Mario Williams over all-everything running back Reggie Bush, the sheer stupidity of which is already becoming manifest.

Last night, though, after all the bad press, after the holdout, after report after report of how he was drowning in playbooks, Matt Leinart, in a Cardinals uniform, took the field against the preeminent NFL team of the decade.

The verdict? Not bad.

Leinart's first drive, a two-minute drill resulting in a field goal (and, ahem, the Cardinals' only points of the night) was revealing in a number of ways. First, however he may be behind the learning curve re the Cardinal offense, Leinart, as he demonstrated for three years at USC, is a master at moving the chains. He is a quarterback wholly unlike Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning, those masters of precision, of hitting the six open inches at precisely the right split-second. Last night, in rushing for 29 yards on two broken plays, Leinart reminded me of John Elway. While not having Elway's cannon of an arm (who does, who ever has?), like Elway, there is something almost animalistic in Leinart--a hunger in watching the field unfold before him, looking for the advantage, and bang, exploiting the weakness. You saw it in the fourth-and-nine audible to Dwayne Jarrett versus Notre Dame, and you saw it here.

Reporters covering the game seemed surprised by Leinart's mobility. When asked why he so rarely cut loose that way at USC, his answer was revealing, both of the Trojans and the Cardinals: "I didn't have to."

Leinart's passing line on the night--4 of 11, 45 yards, no TDs, no INTS--was more impressive when one considers that two on-the-money passes were simply dropped. Considering that he went into the game with three days of preparation, considering his most (only, really) successful drive was against the Patriots first-string defense, and considering that his opposition was the New England Patriots, by and large, a thumbs up.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Yankees 13, Red Sox 5

It is now clear that, at this minute, the only two healthy Boston pitchers who scare the Yankees are Schilling and Papelbon. This is an amazing comedown for Boston, as the number of pitchers whose entrance or scheduled start made me groan used to be as long as the Orange Line: Wakefield, Timlin, Embree, Foulk--even, by and large, Pedro, whose record wouldn't reflect it. Any of those guys would start or come in and I'd throw up my hands; by and large, the Yankees were helpless, and this was before the Red Sox acquired Josh Beckett, who ran over them in the 2003 World Series, while playing for Florida.

And now? Well, Pedro and Embree are gone, Wakefield is hurt, Foulk is ineffective, and Timlin--who, as The Sports Guy points out (scroll down to Boston), was unconsciounably allowed to participate in the WBC at the age of forty--is, in the words of TSG, "a walking corpse." Beckett, it now appears, may have made his name and life's fortune based upon a pain-free few weeks in October three years ago, is a good, not great, pitcher subject to the vagaries of his health and curveball.

If people know nothing else about baseball, they should know this: a pitcher injured while young will usually stay injured, off and on, for his entire career. Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Carl Pavano, Brandon Backe--the list goes on, and these are just the recent names. A general manager who frames his rotation around suspect wings will soon be sleeping in the street.

And so now we have Curt Schilling, who some thought was finished as a pitcher 22 months ago, being asked to go out tomorrow and stop the, uh, bleeding. And if he gets in trouble early . . . well, who will fill the breach? We join The Sports Guy in mid-rant:

Note: Not to keep bringing up my keeper league, because I wouldn't want you to think that I'm obsessed with it, even though I probably am … but Hench and I had Timlin, Delcarmen AND Hansen on our keeper team this season, and we traded all of them in separate moves last month. Why? BECAUSE WE WATCH BASEBALL! BECAUSE ALL OF THEM SUCK! THAT'S WHY! Really, we're going to war with a one-man bullpen for the next 10 weeks? That's the plan? Good God, I can't wait to have Belichick and Brady back in my life. I want everything to make sense again.)

He forgot Van Buren, who gave up a bases-clearing triple to Jorge Posada which was--what?--the second triple of Georgie's career? The third?

For those keeping score at home, choke artist A-Rod is now 5 of 13 with five RBIs in the series.

Correction: correspondent SunDevil Joe reports that, "By the way, it was Manny Delcarmen, not Van Buren, who gave up the triple to Jorge. What does it matter as I'm sure he's back in Pawtucket today."


Yanks 12, Bosox 4; Yanks 14, Bosox 11

Missed both of these--was out. Gleaning what I could from the reports, here is what I came up with:

1. Wang is the real thing.

2. Perhaps so is Melky.

3. Whatever fears one has of the non-Rivera Yankee bullpen, they pale in comparison to the non-Papelbon Red Sox bullpen.

4. Starting Sidney Ponson last night was as big a declaration that Torre was dumping the game to save his staff as I have ever seen.

5. The only thing worse than being a relief pitcher Torre hates is being one he loves (see Gordon, Tom). Right now, a few 7-1 losses may be what Torre needs to rest the arms of Rivera, Kyle, Proctor, Villone, and Myers--a pretty good bullpen with all the necessary parts (closer, set-up man, seventh inning man, long man, and lefthanded specialist).

6. Wondering about Farnsworth.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Brids 12, Yanks 2

Getting it all out of their system, perhaps, before Boston?


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Birds 3, Yankees 2

One of those games. That Oriole kid can pitch.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I wanna go to bed

Okay, it's midnight, and the Astros, who took a one-run lead into the top of the ninth before Lidge have up a tying home run (this is not a recording), are now . . . in the fifteenth inning, having put men on base every inning thereafter . . . but not score . . .

. . . and we move to the sixteenth. It has been 6-6 for two hours.

Both teams: out of pitchers soon.

Astro manager Phil Garner is about to go into the stands to re-activate Nolan Ryan.

Who'd probably strike out the side.

I'm a hostage of extra-innings baseball.

It's past midnight on a Tuesday--no, Wednesday now.

Hey, remember in Gremlins when that kid was told not to feed Fuzzball after midnight. Okay, right now it was just midnight, Wednesday morning.

Midnight is the beginning of the day.

Which means that . . . it's always after midnight!

So the only thing to do with a Gemlin is never feed him.

Where was I? Oh, yeah.

End this thing.

I wanna go to bed.

The traffic dude just said, "Minute Maid patrons, on their way home, should watch out for paperboys."

I was a paperboy once. December in Phoenix is freezing before dawn.

Bottom of the 16th.

Chris Burke, who came in the ninth as a defensive replacement, just reached first base for the fourth time . . .

. . . whereupon Mo Ensberg erased him on a fielder's choice.

Followed by Berkman's strikeout.

And now the last remaining pitcher, Burkowskl, must bat.

Ground out. We go the 17th.

I saw Gremlins with a friend's niece (nothing like that, she was my age). We seemed to have fun. The next thing I heard of her was five years later, when she was married to a guy who lectured everyone on how they needed to have a gun.

Oh, Astros and Cubs play again in less than twelve hours. Does that make this a night-day double header?

And why did Lidge have to give up that stupid home run?

Bruno Kirby dies at 57

From complications resulting from leukemia. Details here.

I first encountered Kirby, though I didn't know his name at the time, as a guest-star on "Room 222," a student whose purpose in life was to push three of his classmates into breaking the record for the most bananas eaten in an hour. He was intriguing enough, with the goofy grin and the slight whistle in his speech--something I recognized soon later, when he played a student at a military college in "Columbo." (This was when "Columbo" played on "The NBC Saturday Mystery Movie," alternately with "McCloud" and "Banacek" and a few others. Everyone over the age of 40 should remember the show, with the opening credits that featured a flashlight on some darkened moors and a long, slow whistle during the opening credits. The "Columbo" episode in question was one of the 127 Columbo episodes that featured Patrick McGoohan as the villian. Anyway, back to Bruno.)

In between his early TV appearances and his re-occurring role as Billy Crystal's best friend in a pair of enormously popular late-80s/early-90s comdies (When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers), Kirby was one of the great "That Guys" of Hollywood (defined by The Sports Guy as "Didn't I see That Guy in . . ."), right up there with Seymour Cassel, Donald Pleasance, and Joe Spinell (who was, boys and girls, both the button man Cici in Godfather I and II and the loanshark Gazzo in Rocky I and II). My favorite Kirby performance was of the puffy-becoming-obese young Clemenza in Godfather II, the wild street hood brought to riches (and discipline) by the cunning and ambition of the alpha-dog Godfather, Vito Corleone, played so superbly by Robert DeNiro. Kirby's death is a loss to his profession, to be sure. RIP.

Yanks 6, Birds 3

This is the sort of win I thought the Yanks incapable of a week ago: give up a few cheap runs, swing wiidly, hit line drives straight at opponents' gloves, go quietly into that night.

Well, not tonight.

A-Rod's RBI single late, with the bases loaded, seemed a case of too little, too late--right up until the next inning, when Damon went over the wall in right to tie it. Then we felt it--yes, the Yankees would win this one. The Yankees that roared out of the All-Star break were back, at least for tonight.

And, oh, yes, the Red Sox lost.

Four in that loss column.

They make it so easy

Submitted in its entirety:

Illinois Senator Barack Obama warns citizens at his 50th Town Hall meeting about gas guzzling. It was among many points made to the standing room only audience at the Metropolis Community Center. Obama spoke on everything from DC politics to global warming. He says part of the blame for the world's higher temperatures rests on gas guzzling vehicles. Obama says consumers can make the difference by switching to higher mileage hybrids. Today the Senator said, "It would save more energy, do more for the environment and create better world security than all the drilling we could do in Alaska."

After the meeting... Obama left in a GMC Envoy after admitting to favoring SUV's himself.

Between child seats, activities, travel, and the state of roads in bad weather, an SUV is essentially a necessity for a family of more than three. Can't we all just admit it?

Wee Willie Abreu

I made the mistake last night of assuming that Abreu has been laying down bunts since Pony League, straight up until last night. Texasyank correspondent SunDevilJoe sets me straight:

Abreu's sacrifice was noteworthy as reported in the Star Ledger....

"Bobby Abreu had not sacrificed in more than eight years, so when he got the bunt sign last night from Yankees third-base coach Larry Bowa, he had to make sure. "He gave me a double look," Bowa said.
It was his first sacrifice bunt since July 19, 1998."

So I stand corrected. SDJ goes on to comment:

Last night's game can give you a lot of confidence because they played the game the way it's supposed to be played. I hate to be too overconfident but, a week from today, Boston could really be looking up at us in the standings from a distance.

Here's hoping.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Glick: The Israeli government must go

Yeah, ya think?

Via LGF.

Israel started out with military superiority and (this was stunning) world opinion --even the opinion of the relatively sane Middle East powers (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan)--on its side. It managed to squander both, and yet wind up with a loser's ceasefire, and and emboldened enemy, and world opinon turned against it.

World opinion is dishwater. The other two matter.

If Israel does not have decisive military superiority in the region, it is dead as a nation.

End of an Era

So no liquids on planes. Irish Trojan has the visual proof.

This ban makes sense, but damn, to me it’s the end of an era. From now on, I will have to do without the two mini-bottles I take on with me for morning flights:

1. Vodka. When I order a Bloody Mary, Southwest gives me a mini-bottle of vodka (enough for one decent Bloody Mary) with a can holding twelve ounces of mixture (enough for two decent Bloody Marys). So I blend the vodka with half the mixture and drink it. When this is gone, I pour in the rest of the mixture, pour in my vodka, blend, and I get two Bloody Marys for the price of one.

2. Crown Royal. About an hour before I land, I order an ice water, drain it, and pour in a my mini-Crown. Then I feel quite the world traveller and read a book while revelling in my own sophistication.

This is a ritual (two pockets, two bottles) as ingrained as much as checking wallet, billfold, license, ticketless receipt.

And now it’s all over.

Thanks a lot, Osama. From now on it’s personal.

Yankees 7, Angels 2

Confession: I didn't know there was a Yanks-Halos game today. Yesterday bummed me out so badly I just didn't bother checking.

Having said that: this is the sort of game the Yanks used to play in the glory years, 1996-2001. right up to the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game:

1. Strong starting pitching

2. Timely hitting late

3. Suffocating set-up men

4. Mo Rivera

5. Thanks for coming

I'm starting to come around to Abreu batting third, simply because of what he can do. When Jeter bunted for a base hit in the seventh, sending Damon to second, I thought, Crap the bunt is on, but it's Giambi, who couldn't even HANG bunting from the upper deck in October . . .

Ah! No. Abreu. Who bunts . . .

. . . Opening up first base for an intentional walk by a right-hander to Giambi . . .

. . . to get to A-Rod.

I mean, so this is what it has come to. My heart sank--I confess I was expecting a double play.

Instead, A-Rod misses a grand slam by six feet. An out, but enough to bring the winning run home.

Kardiac Kyle goes three-up, three-down, setting up Mo against the bottom of the order.

Jorge's homer sealed it. No way Mo gives up a two-run lead to the dead-end kids.

Everything else, gravy. But nice.

And how about Posada's handling of Unit?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Angels 5, Yankees 3

Glad I didn't have to see it. Coming off that emotional series with the White Sox, looking ahead to the mammoth five-gamer with the Red Sox, a case of the blahs was to be expected.

The New Age of Madness

Courtesy of correspondent One Iron: Victor Davis Hanson compares this age with the run-up to World War II:

Of course, the trauma of the Great War was all too fresh, and the utopian hopes for the League of Nations were not yet dashed. The Great Depression made the thought of rearmament seem absurd. The connivances of Stalin with Hitler — both satanic, yet sometimes in alliance, sometimes not — could confuse political judgments.

But nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and it is even more baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Not any longer.

Our present generation too is on the brink of moral insanity. That has never been more evident than in the last three weeks, as the West has proven utterly unable to distinguish between an attacked democracy that seeks to strike back at terrorist combatants, and terrorist aggressors who seek to kill civilians.

Baby bottle to be used as bomb

Remember four years ago, when a woman was forced to drink her own breast milk, and there were nearly Senate hearings as a result?

Well, check this out.

Bomb materials disguised as baby's milk. Absolutely believable.

Reggie v. Mario


Reggie: 6 carries, 59 yards, including one marvelous reverse-course 44-yard vintage run.

The Irish Trojan has the video.

Oh my. Somebody strike up "Fight On!"

And Mario Williams, the defensive end the Houston Texans drafted instead of Reggie Bush?

Nothing much. Really. Just shoved about the field by a Kansas City offensive line that just lost its all-pro left tackle, Willie Roaf.

No double-teams. No tackles, either.

One assist.

Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio.

Robert Parish and Kevin McHale for Joe Barry Carroll and Ricky Brown.

Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan.

Phil Nevin over Derek Jeter (didn't hear about that one, did you?).

Now this.

Now this.

How much fun to have the laughingstock of pro sports (non-New York Knick division) just up the road.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Powerline has the goods on the cease-fire.

Their estimation: not good.

Mine: the same.

Netanyahu. Package for Mr. Netanyahu.

With Sharon near death, the time has come for Bibi to become Israel's Churchill. Now.

Yankees 5, Angels 2

Another strong start for Jared Wright, who seems to specialize in walking the tightrope.

Robinson Cano (three hits, including a three-run homer) may be as good as advertised.

3 up in the loss column, minimum, pending the Red Sox game, with the rotation about to flip over.


Is this the year of dreadful decisions?

The ceasefire deal Israel has agreed to is terrible for many reasons, starting with the fact that Hezbollah agreed to it in one breath and then said they'd do pretty much whatever they wanted to in the next.

My thoughts on this pretty much echo those of Dean Barnett, aka Soxblog, currently posting on Hugh Hewiit. What he writes is what I've always said, again and again:

1) What would happen if all the Arab nations and their terrorist proxies like Hezbollah set down their arms and gave up their ambitions to drive Israel into the sea?

There would be peace in the Middle East.

2) What would happen if Israel disbanded the IDF, junked its nuclear weapons and declared to its neighbors that she would do anything to live in peace?

Israel would be annihilated, millions of its citizens killed. The term genocide could be used to describe the ensuing holocaust, but since that term has been so hopelessly debased by American academics, a new term would have to be created like super-duper-mega genocide to really capture the nature of things.

Early this decade, Ariel Sharon--the statute of limitations on Lebanon '82 having run out--was elected Prime Minister by the Israelis for the same reason, one decade earlier, New Yorkers elected Rudy Guiliani mayor: for their physical safety. My prediction is that when the sheer irresponsibility of this deal becomes manifest, Benjamin Netanyahu will return from the wilderness as a wartime Prime Minister.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Angels 7, Yanks 4

And it's three losses out of four

Yes, and Yes again

Andrew McCarthy, making sense:

The antiwar Left has a conveniently flexible moral compass. Consequently, the Clinton era Echelon program was fine, but Bush’s NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program is an impeachable offense.

Mishandling classified information by a Clinton CIA director was worthy of a pardon, and destroying classified information (and lying to investigators about it) by a former Clinton national-security adviser was worthy of a pass, but leaking the unremarkable fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA is the crime of the century.

Bombing Kosovo without U.N. approval was a moral imperative; invading Iraq after over a dozen U.N. resolutions is a violation of international law.

Renditions conducted between 1994 and 2000 were just good national-security sense; renditions conducted between 2001 and 2006 are war crimes.

Indicting Osama bin Laden in 1998 and then doing nothing to capture him while he bombed two American embassies and an American naval destroyer, killing hundreds, was aggressive yet intelligently modulated counterterrorism; allowing Osama bin Laden to evade capture in Tora Bora while killing and capturing hundreds of his operatives and decimating his hierarchy is irresponsibly incompetent.

White Sox 5, Yanks 4

Oh, A-Rod.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Brits Bag the Bums

Mark Steyn used to say that the old definition of "nanosecond" was the period of time between the traffic light turning from red to green and the fellow in the car behind yours leaning on his horn. Now, he wrote, the definition of "nanosecond" is the time between an Islamofascist terrorist attack and calls by Muslim groups warning of "backlash."

If horses ran as true to form as CAIR, the favorite would never lose. Check this out, via NRO's The Corner (scroll down, posted at 1:43).

Money quote:

"We have been contacted by federal law enforcement authorities who are taking steps to ensure that there is no backlash against the American Muslim community. We commend them for their pro-active efforts. We ask local Muslim communities to step up security measures at mosques and other Islamic institutions. We also urge local law enforcement agencies to coordinate with Muslim leaders to deter hate crimes."

But wait. How in the world would we know that the terrorists are Muslims? Certainly, David Pryce-Jones points out, not from listening to any British Legal official. Or British newscaster.

The groups' possible links to al-Qaeda have been voiced by one person only: Michael Chertoff, a Yank at last count.

What is the over-under on every plotter being Muslim?

What is the over-under on how many plotters (err, alleged plotters) having Muhammad somewhere in their name? Ten? Twelve? I'll say twelve.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Yankees 7, White Sox 6 (and more)

I was sitting in the Crawford Boxes, Game 4, 2006, Braves v. Asros, when Kyle Farnsworth came on in the eighth inning to preserve a 6-1 Braves advantage and proceeded to burn Minute Maid Park to the ground. First, a grand slam in the eighth by Lance Berkman, followed by a ninth-inning, two-out Brad Ausmus home run, to tie the game at six (and send the game into an 18-inning marathon featuring Roger Clemens getting the win out of the pen . . . but that, as they say, was another story).

And I remember thinking--who in the world would entrust a lead to Kyle Farnsworth?

Well, now we have our answer.

I thought Kyle-as-setup-man would be the answer. It may yet be. My own opinion was that Kardiac Kyle's problems were between his ears--where else could they be, with a fastball in triple digits?

But tonight, ugh. Two home runs in one inning. A walk with a four-run lead in the eighth. Oh my.

But Mo hangs on in the ninth, tying run on third.

In other news:

Boston up 4-3 to the Royals, bottom of the ninth. Triple, sac fly, double, single. Ball game. 5-4 Royals. And four up in the loss column.

*Meanwhile, down in H-town, everyone gets into the party: 14-1 over Pittsburgh, in a game started for the Bucs by ex-Yankee Shawn Chacon.

To all Astro fans, from all Yankee fans: you're welcome.

*Turned on the Dodgers-Rockies game, 1-1 in the ninth, heard a familiar voice . . . for an instant thought it was a Wheaties commercial, but . . . no. Vin Freaking Scully was calling the game, the first game I heard called by him since the 1991 World Series.

Not counting Billy Chapel's perfect game.

To emphasize: As a Yankee-rooter, I can say without fear of contradiction that Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully is the greatest baseball announcer of all time; I offer as proof that the real argument is for number two. Red Barber? Mel Allen? Jack Brickhouse? Jack Buck?

Didn't hurt that the Dodgers eventually lost. In the ten-car pile-up that is the National League Central/West/Wild Card, A Rockies victory was good news (wait, have to check, right) good news for the Astros.

Party Like it's 1988?

The conservative National Review Online endorses Lieberman over both Lamont and the GOP nominess, Wossname.

It is good to remember that, in his first Senate race in 1988, Joe Lieberman received support from fellow Connecticut resident and National Review founder William F. Buckley, who so despised the incumbent GOP senator Lowell Weicker that he formed a political action committee, BuckPac, in order to bring about Weicker's defeat and Leiberman's election. History repeating itself?

Sore Loserman, the Sequel?

We have reached a point in history in which nothing--neither the economy nor hurricanes nor Supreme Court nominees--can be viewed absent the prism of Iraq. So it is for Joe Lieberman, who must count on two things in the coming weeks to keep his independent campaign afloat: an improved situation in Iraq and the ability to sidestep the notion of himself as the loser who wants a do-over. I suggested below that the three-and-a-half percent loss might give Lieberman the rhetorical space he might need; I also suggested his buddy Dodd might be ideal to deliver it.

Now, if, as apears, Dodd might be pressured to talk Lieberman into withdrawing, perhaps someone else, some renegade Democrat somewhere might deliver it.

This morning in NRO, Byron York points to other Lieberman difficulties.

If the GOP is wise, it will stay out. Say nothing save, Well, we of course our united behind our guy (Schlesinger, right?); we don't participate in squabbles between Democrats. Say it a thousand times, the way Valerie Plame says, "Thank you, my dress is Chanel," whenever the questions cut too close for comfort. In the midst of Kos's gracious victory posting--err, foul-mouthed, embittered rant--last night, he did make one salient point: If the Dems will fall in line to defeat Lieberman, they will have to divert money there from elsewhere (Montana, Missouri) for what, in the end, can be no better than a hold. That is the best piece of knowledge for the GOP.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Farewell, Boom-Boom

Wow. So hitting a cop is bad for your career after all.

Via The Irish Trojan, Cynthia McKinney goes down.

Lamont 52%, Lieberman 48% (Connecticut Senate Primary)

I was absent from most of the coverage due to the (ugh) Yankees-White Sox game, but followed coverage via Joe Lieberman supporter, former Connecticut resident and, as of Lieberman's concession speech, former Democrat Irish Trojan.

Lieberman will now proceed to the general election as an independent.

When Drudge called the raise, I posted this on Irisher's comment board:

Things to consider:

1. A four-point loss–if I understand Connecticut politics at all–means that Joe rolls out of bed tomorrow morning as the statewide front-runner.

2. The closeness of the vote gives Lieberman and his supporters–including his supporters on the left–the rhetorical space they need to pursue an Independent run. Watch for one of Lieberman’s soul brothers in the Democratic Party–my money’s on Dodd–to say, in the coming days, “Clearly, the vote was so close that the only proper route now is to leave this crucial decision in these important times up to the entire electorate of the great state of Connecticut blah blah blah knowing that whoever of these two fine men is elected will caucus with the Democrats blah blah blah.” Lamont’s people and the netroots will howl, of course, but these will be howls of frustration, knowing that any possible rebuttal will not sound nearly as magnanimous. Now it’s Lamont sounding of sour grapes, which is kind of the point.

3. I’m about to go over to Kos & Co. for the “Joe should get out” postings. Now, why are they so anxious for Joe to get out? Is it because, come November, they know their boy Lamont can’t beat him?

Over at Daily Kos, Markos is celebrating his man Lamont's win (Kos's record in endorsements is now a sterling 1-23) and rallying his troops for a spirited campaign against such a worthy opponent as Independent candidate Lieberman come the fall.

Yeah, right.

we join Kos already in progress:

Lieberman just announced that he is running as an independent.

I know Democrats in DC, including many of Lieberman's allies, are horrified at that possibility. Lieberman will tell them all to f*** off. He doesn't care. He doesn't care about promises he made to them to respect the will of the primary voters . . .

Now, Lieberman wants to stab his allies and his party in the back. It won't be the first time.

Here's what we all need to do the next few days:

1. Push Harry Reid to strip Lieberman of all committee assignments.

2. Let people know what a sore loser Lieberman is.

3. Get all Democrats -- including Bill Clinton -- to publicly back Ned Lamont.

4. Get the Democratic interest groups who backed Lieberman to switch allegiances in the general.

The DSCC and the DCCC will have to deal with the fact that this race will continue to suck oxygen from great pickup opportunities. And I won't apologize for that, because as a proud Democrat, I will help in whatever way I can the Democratic nominee from the Great State of Connecticut.

The Republicans rejoiced at Lieberman's decision to stay in. They couldn't be happier. And let's not talk about the lobbyists! They're besides themselves!

I'll assume Kos meant that the lobbyists are "beside themselves."

A thought: Complaining about rules that are to your detriment, in politics, is akin to the "tuck rule": you undermine your argument by only complaining after your own vested interests become clear. The Dems tried it with the electoral vote in 2000, and Toricelli by withdrawing in 2002, and DeLay by moving to Virginia. Only Torricelli got anywhere, and he shouldn't have.

One new item: Hotline is reporting that Chris Dodd has been "tasked" by his fellow Dems to convince Lieberman not to run as an indy.

I couldn't describe the dynamics that flow between those two men. Still, I'm guessing that if you remove the "t" from "tasked," you'll have a better idea of things.

White Sox 6, Yanks 5

Don't pin this one on Mo. The plain truth is:

1) The Yankees should have broken the game open, or at least given Mo more of a lead, both in the eighth (bases loaded, one out) and the ninth (Cano to third, one out). Both times they failed.

2) The game was over with none out in the eleventh, when Cano fumbled for the (admittedly hard-hit) ball, threw wide to the bag, and put Iguchi on first with Thome, Konerko, and Dye due up. Beyond that, the truly inexcusable act was Proctor's walk to Thome, thus moving waterbug Iguchi into scoring position with the heart of the order due up. Proctor got by Konerko. Dye lined to center, and despite a bullet to the plate by rifle-armed Damon (that's a joke, son), Iguchi galloped home.

3) Proctor deserves credit for striking out the side in the tenth; in a just world, that would have been his night's work. But you throw a strike to Thome. If he hits it, he hits it. Again: Home runs happen. You're not the only one with talent. Give up too many, and they go get someone else. You throw a strike to Thome.

We are left with the consolation that Jenks went three tonight, so surely Ozzie sits him tomorrow. Right? Right?

'I piss excellence'

Four times in my life I have laughed so hard at a movie, or a part of a movie, that I was glared at by at least one person near me. This is Spinal Tap was the first. The baseball sequence in The Naked Gun was next.

Then, nothing for a long time.

Then, last year, Team America: World Police.

Now, Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Rickey Bobby.

Saw it yesterday. Still laughing.

It's as good as you've heard.

Election Day antics

Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO's corner (scroll down, fourth item as of 10:15 am Central Time) is reporting that Joe Lieberman's website has crashed.

I just clicked on the link; the site is still down.

Lopez seems convinced that a wingnut hacker is responsible; I'd be hard-pressed to think otherwise.

Watch for this sort of practice to become commonplace in the coming years, with increasing sophistication and viciousness. Texts on candidate's websites will be altered, phony photos inserted, fake rallies advertised. All of this will happen, in an age that will make the Watergate-era antics of (USC alum) Donald Sagretti seem positively primitive by comparison.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Martin Peretz: Lamont is Karl Rove's dream come true

In 1998, I had read The New Republic for 11 years, ever since discovering it my first semester in graduate school, but I cancelled my subscription that year upon hearing that editor-in-chief Martin Peretz had fired Managing Editor Michael Kelly. Kelly had struck me as a brilliant essayist; the word was he had angered Peretz for too many negative articles dealing with Peretz protege Al Gore. (Another angle on the story is enacted in the movie Shattered Glass.) Michael Kelly lost his life covering the Iraq liberation. Martin Peretz earned what I thought was my everlasting emnity.

But oh my, the boy can write.

His latest on the Connecticut Senate race is here.

Money quote:

The Lamont ascendancy, if that is what it is, means nothing other than that the left is trying, and in places succeeding, to take back the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters have stumped for Mr. Lamont. As I say, we have been here before. Ned Lamont is Karl Rove's dream come true. If he, and others of his stripe, carry the day, the Democratic party will lose the future, and deservedly.


All eyes now turn to Connecticut tomorrow, where Ned Lamont seeks to unseat Senator Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary.

Let there be no doubt: this primary is not about Lieberman's original support of the war; it is about Lieberman's refusal to claim he was lied to, or tricked, about the war (the Kerry tack); plus his refusal to still approve the idea of the war but criticize its execution (the Hillary Clinton tack, one to which I'm actually not entirely unsympathetic).

The Irish Trojan has thoughts on this matter.

Soxblog, who for the next few months is posting over at Hugh Hewitt, runs down tomorrow's Ten Crucial Questions.

In short: Who will win? Soxer: Lamont, but it will be close.

More to the point; will Lieberman actually run as an independent if he loses?

Soxblog's answer:

No. There’s something un-American about demanding a rematch. Joe has his chance tomorrow. If he loses and still fights on, he’ll look like a Sore Loserman. That will kill him in the polls. He’ll drop out after Labor Day to “unite the party” and join the Bush cabinet, hopefully not at Defense but in Norm Minetta’s job where he could hardly do worse than Minetta did.

This may happen, but right now I disagree. If Lieberman finishes within 10 points of Lamont he will wake up on Wednesday as the the front-runner, if one factors in GOP/independent votes. Never mind the Sore Loserman tag; he won't drop out if he's ahead.

Is this wishful thinking? Perhaps. In the current state of affairs, in which everything from Hurricane Katrina to the economy simply does not exist unless factored through the prism of Iraq, a defeat of the last remaining Democrat in the Scoop Jackson tradition would be seen as a defeat for President Bush.

John Breaux and Zell Miller are gone, replaced by Republicans. If Lieberman leaves, who remains as Bush's closest opposition ally? Ben Nelson?

Conversely, if Lieberman wins tomorrow, or (much more likely) wins as an independent in November, watch a meltdown on the Kos/Huff/Moveon sites with few precedents. If the reaction to Karl Rove's non-indictment in Plamegate was a 10, and the reaction to the "stolen" Ohio election was an 9 (difficult to gauge, since Huff didn't come on board until six months after the '04 election), an eventual Lieberman victory would result in at least an 8, with all the talk of "ignoring the will of the Party."

Anyway, an actual political story in August. How did we get so lucky?

Impeach Bush!

If the Dems win the House, John Conyers becomes Judiciary Chair--and hearings are a near-certainty. Byron York has the details.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Blair, Glass, Rather--Hajj

Michelle Malkin has the best round-up of the Reuters photoshopping imbroglio.

The manipulation of war images now is as far removed from network footage of Vietnam as Vietnam was from Ed Murrow in World War II, and as far as Murrow was from Matt Brady's Civil War photos.

Yanks 6, Birds 1

What is it about this Yankee team and Sunday afternoons . . .

Or the Yankees and Camden Yards . . .

Four homers, all solo, not that it mattered. Jared Wright, wrigling out of jam after jam, using that low fastball the way he used to against the Yankees in the 90s.

Combined last starts from the "back end of the rotation," Wright and Lidle:

14 innings.

2 runs.

Last thoughts on 'Slacker'

A few weeks ago, thinking about my annual screening of Slacker, here and here. The first posting dealt with the experience of seeing the film, the second how it affected me at the time, and then now.

I had one other thought, having to do with the notion of the film's capturing not only a lifestyle but a time in which the film's concepts could be thought of as purely theoretical. There is a booklet which accompanies the Criterion edition of the DVD. On the cover is a black-and-white photo of Teresa Taylor, identified as "Pap smear pusher" in the liner notes (and who, by the way, plays, in speech and behavior, an unintentional letter-perfect imitation of a friend and softball teammate I knew in graduate school). Aside from Linklater's original notes describing his intentions with the film ("Environment: suggests documentary"), the most interesting essay is Ron Rosenbaum's, a piece that originally appeared in the New York Observer. Rosenbaum makes the case (which seems clearer now, perhaps not so much then) that Linklater's is a film of ideas to an extent you could almost call Dostoyevskian.

As Rosenbaum points out, Linklater presents (one must think he wryly presents) the subculture of over-educated, underemployed university-area Austin as embodying not only a lifestyle but a life's philosophy, one defined by inaction and a negation verging on nihilism.

Occasionally the strategy is revealed whimsically, as when Linklater himself plays "Should have stayed at the bus station," with his spiel of dreams and alternate realities--symbolized, he says, by the two roads which present themselves to Dorothy and Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Or the young man, fueled by too many lattes at Quackenbush, who talks of the "immense effort required not to create." Or the fellow in the bathrobe whose outdoor existence seems defined by the walk to and from the neighborhood coffee shop, and is disdainful of any other activity his much-younger girlfriend might suggest. (Though we never know these two by as much as their names, I remain firmly convinced with every viewing that "Bathrobe recluse" is a teaching assistant at UT living hand-to-mouth until the first of October, and "Shut in Girlfriend" a former student of his, and the allure has worn off.) Or the "Anti-Artist" who likes to "destroy other people's art."

Beneath al the whimsy, however, there is something darker at work, something which, in 1991, we could dismiss as just a few more slices from the same pound of baloney. A street vendor talks of bombs falling and then says, "Remember--terrorism is the surgical strike capability of the oppressed." "Looking for the True Calling" Guy speaks into a video camera: "Remember: every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death." Toward the end of the film, a revolutionary drives through a neighborhood and informs the locals through a mounted speaker about the forthcoming distribution of guns and knives to the general populace.

Even more to the point is the self-styled anarchist, a worshipper of William McKinley assassin Leon Czolgosz, a pretender to the Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. The elderly man, played by Louis Mackay in the film's best performance, takes a would-be housebreaker on a tour of greater Austin--not the clubs and bookstores, but the streets and parking lots that run silent in summer, the quiet area between the city's two landmarks, the Texas Legislature and the UT Tower.

"Just look at that shit!" he exclaims pointing to the Legislature's dome, and then goes off on his further dreams of anarchism. One day, he says, he'll pull a Guy Fawkes and blow the whole thing sky high . . .

Then, pointing to the other end of the South Congress corridor, he points to the tower, and goes on about "the greatest day in this city's history," the day when Charles Whitman took a footlocker's full of rifles and ammo to the 23rd floor and began shooting unsuspecting innocents on the ground. The anarchist's one regret was that he missed the whole thing--"I had lunch out there every day that summer," he says, every day but that one. Perhaps even as he speaks he fails to realize that, had he been eating lunch in the place to which he points, he would have been a sitting duck for one of Whitman's bullets, and not merely a witness. It was his "fucking wife," he says, who had a doctor's appointment, who kept him from viewing Whitman--and who probably saved his life.

It is here, from a distance of 15 years, that we can look upon this man's words and realize that ideas of anarchism and death were not just voiced by charming old codgers with Hemingway's collected works and delusions of having fought with Orwell. Ideas have consequences. Four years after the release of the film, Timothy McVeigh basically performed on the Oklahoma City Ferderal Building what the old man had threatened, and how do we like the results?

More to the point is the old boy's parting words to the housebreaker (that is, right before his daughter give the crook his gun back). He says, "Remember, the passion for destruction is also a creative passion." Nice-sounding words. Put them into action and you have Muhammad Atta flying in through the office window. In truth, Slacker, given repeated viewings, is symbolic of our holiday from history, a movie completely emblematic of the thirteen years between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11, when matters of life and death seemed nothing more than theory. The world has changed since 1991. But Slacker has come back to us in different ways. It remains a product of its time, but also a timeless (if futile) search for some kind of truth.


Mark Steyn, again making sense: (emph mine)

But, when an army goes to war against a terrorist organization, it's like watching the Red Sox play Andre Agassi: Each side is being held to its own set of rules. When Hezbollah launches rockets into Israeli residential neighborhoods with the intention of killing random civilians, that's fine because, after all, they're terrorists and that's what terrorists do. But when, in the course of trying to resist the terrorists, Israel unintentionally kills civilians, that's an appalling act of savagery. Speaking at West Point in 2002, President Bush observed: "Deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend." Actually, it's worse than that. In Hezbollahstan, the deaths of its citizens works to its strategic advantage: Dead Israelis are good news but dead Lebanese are even better, at least on the important battlefield of world opinion. The meta-narrative, as they say, is consistent through the media's Hez-one-they-made-earlier coverage, and the recent Supreme Court judgment, and EU-U.N. efforts to play "honest broker" between a sovereign state and a genocidal global terror conglomerate: All these things enhance the status of Islamist terror and thus will lead to more of it, and ever more "disproportionately."

Ten good minutes

It remains half a mystery to me why Boston's Howie Carr has not received the sort of national prominence once accorded Chicago's Mike Royko. Carr is both funnier and a better reporter than Royko ever was--and all due respect, as Royko's column, which inexplicably (and wonderfully) ran in the Saturday Phoenix Gazette of my youth, was something of a revelation. I remember when Jane Pauley was basically shoved out at The Today Show in favor of the fetching blonde, Deborah Norville, and while everyone else was pissing and moaning about Norville's qualifications, only Royko was writing, Christ, how smart do you have to be to read the news and talk to people?, and at least she's something to look at, and how many of us look half as good in the morning?, and couldn't read the news in a bikini?

I don't have the article at hand, but for years I kept it tucked into my English reader, and I brought it out every semester to read to my freshman comp students, as a means of preaching the values of contrarian thinking and creativity.

Anyway, back to Carr. I write his lack of prominence is "half a mystery" because his writing tends to be Hub-centered; an analogous parochialism kept maybe the best newspaper columnist of the last fifty years, Murray Kempton, from achieving fame due his worth. Columns of Carr's like this reveal a knowledge of Bay State politics that is encyclopedic almost ward to ward.

I'm half a country removed from the inner workings of Southie and Jamaica Plain. No matter: seeing a new Carr column appear is tantamount to saying, "I'm really going to enjoy the next ten minutes of my life." Sample this, which almost had me falling out of my chair:

What if they had a primary election and nobody came?

That’s the way Sept. 19 is shaping up here. It’s only six weeks from Tuesday, and if you had to pick the next governor right now the favorite is . . . Deval Patrick.

Amazing. His bumper stickers say “No Ordinary Leader.” Considering the type of people who have them on their cars, they should say “Take Me to Your Leader.”

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Orioles 5, Yanks 0

You can feel bad about Moose--I really want him to get his twenty--but otherwise, eh. One-hitter. Whaddya gonna do?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Yanks 5, Birds 4

With enough good luck to make you nervous.

Well, let's see. Top of the rotation coming up.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Yanks 8, Blue Jays 1

How does one count the ways?

1. Can Corey Lidle pitch like this all the time? Like, please?

2. Abreu: 3 for 5

3. Giambi, three-run homer

4. Cleveland finally holds onto a lead, defeating Boston by and sending the Yanks into first by a full game.

Two in the all-important loss column.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

My Other Favorite Team, Part 5

Its 7-1 victory over San Diego is important for a few reaons. First, throughout the past few seaons there have been certina pitchers who owned the Yankees: Ben Sheets was one, Oliver Perez another, Woody Williams and Jake Peavey almost always.

Last night's losting pitcher? Jake Peavey.

Tonight's losing pitcher? Hands? Woody Williams.

Now, the Astros find themselves four back of the Wild Card, which is one thing. SEVENTH place in the Wild Card, which is another. Among TEN TEAMS within 5 1/2 games of the wild card, something else again.

This will be fun, anyway.

Yanks 7, Blue Jays 2

Here it is here.

If Wang and Moose keep going, look the hell out.

If only the Tribe didn't have to choke away another to Boston.

Jeter has quietly moved into Top-5 consideration for MVP.

And A-Rod has quietly started to hit the crap out of the ball.

The best defense of Mel Gibson I have read

John Debyshire in NRO:

The guy was drunk, for heaven’s sake. We all say and do dumb things when we are drunk. If I were to be judged on my drunken escapades and follies, I should be utterly excluded from polite society, and so would you, unless you are some kind of saint. And those pilers-on? Well, just bear in mind that they are people who lay out great wads of money to buy houses in districts where their kids won’t have to go to school with too many black or Hispanic classmates. Let him who is without sin…

What about in vino veritas? Aren’t we seeing the real Mel here? Isn’t the courteous, civilized, thoughtful Mel just a mask he wears to deceive us? Well, duh, of course it is! That’s what civilization means — masking the Old Adam with good habits, good manners, nice clothes, social graces, well-constructed sentences full of soft words. The Old Adam is still there underneath, as anyone with any self-knowledge at all knows perfectly well. Fill up Christopher Hitchens with liquor, or Jonah Goldberg, or Kathryn Lopez, or Deroy Murdock, or John Derbyshire, and see what you get. Chances are, you won’t like it half as much as you like the stuff we put out when we’re sober. Chances are not negligible you might hear something offensively insulting about Jews, or Gentiles, or blacks, or whites, or Brits, or papists.

The above appears in Derbyshire's July Diary, the entirety of which is here.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We are in one, big war now

And the sooner we realize this, the better. This is a war that, at the moment, stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean--but, in full, stretches from Lebanon to Gaza to Baghdad to Kabul to London to Madrid to Bali to Seoul to Lower Manhattan, where a cousin of mine sat in the last subway car ever to run beneath the Towers--right before, its driver being informed of some commotion above, the subway rolled to the next stop and my cousin stepped out, intact and alive, and well-prepard to sprint uptown when the second plane hit.

Early in World War II, Churchill adopted the two-fingered V as his symbol, and the first bar of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony--the most famous bar in the history of music, three shorts and a long, Morse Code for V--as his standard. Think of it: Winston Churchill adopted a bar of German music for the countries fighting Germany. But, as George Will wrote, Churchill knew what he was doing. He knew that our side was on the side of civlization, a civilization of which Beethoven was an exemplar. It was a war worth winning.

So is this. If we would go ahead and win it. Else, as might happen to Israel, we become martyrs so the world will think well of us.

Have we become so sensitized that we will accept annihilation to condemnation? How much longer will we give Iran? Are we blind to the new Syria-Iran pact, and blind to the historical precendents?

Lebanon should resemble Berlin, 1945, by now.

Read this and doubt me.

Dem landslide in 2006?

Right now, hard to argue with this.

McKinney. Say no more

Democratic incumbent Cynthia (Boom-Boom) McKinney faced off against challenger Hank Johnson, who has trolled the predictable cesspool of corruption and logrolling, but would probably be a tame and reliable left-wing member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The whole debate is scored here.

Worth reprinting is Boom-Boom's final statement:

Thank you very much. An ordinance which was found unconstitutional written by an attorney. Dr. King reminded us that the measure of a man is where he stands in challenging controversy. I stand. Alongside our troops and our veterans, working families, and Mr. Clark, who could get no help from Mr. Johnson when his land was swallowed up by a landfill. Eisenhower reminds us that every dollar spent on war is a theft from the people. And I have brought more than $350 million. Send me back to Washington, so I can speak truth to power.

Well, that settles that, I guess.

My other favorite team, part 4

Houston Astro Andy Pettitte reminded me of his old Yankee October days, pitching shut-out ball for six innings en route to a 1-0 victory ove San Diego.

The bullpen Jim Rome anointed the "Backdraft Squad was surprisingly effective, considering their Sunday meltdown. Seventh-inning specialist Chad "Gas can" Qualls was, at least for a night, "Mo Rivera" Qualls. Set-up man Wheeler did his part, and tortured Brad Lidge wound a shut-out inning around one walk.

Five games back. Gentlemen, start your Alka-Seltzer.

Yanks 5, Jays 1

Nice, solid win.

Jeter at .354.

A-Rod, 2 for 4, 2 RBI, average up above .290.

Abreu scores a run.

Tomorrow, Lidle.

The not-so-silly season

As a political geek, one of my favorite months has always been the August of a non-Pesidential election year when, so I'm told, Washington empties out, Presidents go on their weeks-long vacations and reporters start re-typing one another's columns.

So I'm told.

One of the great traditions of August in years not divisible by four is the boomlet story, something that in March (first votes on bills) or June (major Supreme Court decisions) or October (Supreme Court hearings, appropriation bill stand-offs, Congressional elections) would barely be noticed. In 1983 the August story was the burning question: did someone from Ronald Reagan's staff steal Jimmy Carter's prep book prior to their October, 1980, debate? (I wondered before, and wonder now, what secrets of Jimmy Carter's the Republicans would ever want to steal, but that was neither here nor there.

Last year, the story was Cindy Sheehan, given attention by a press corps grown hot and grumpy, used to summer residences in Martha's Vineyard, coastal Maine, or the Pacific Palisades, and having to endure hot, excruciatingly boring Crawford, Texas.

This year, unfortunately, no silliness. I'm as pessimistic as I've been in a long time. See here and here. Baghdad is in flames, and the whole world (less the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel) is viewing Lebanon through the prism of Hezbollah, a puppet running on strings back to Iran.

All-out war may be coming soon--soon, if we're lucky. Not-so-soon (read: a nuclear attack, Hezbollah run wild, an even stronger Iranian-Syrian alliance) if we're not.

Bush in camp, Leinart still out

Irish Trojan has the details.

Had a Trojan alum e-mail me yesterday, asking, "Tell me again why the Texans didn't draft Bush?" As best as I could figure, this is

"So much of the city was pulling for Young--wholly unrealistically for about five different reasons--that the Texans got it in their collective heads that they had to sign their pick before the draft or else be met with a shower of boos at their draft party. The idea was to sell Bush hard, wean people off Young.

The irony is, the Texans succeeded in weaning beyond their wildest expectations. Every time Reggie Bush was mentioned, and then when he visited Houston, the local sports broadcasts would run file footage showing 1) his stop-and-start move against Fresno State, and 2) his corner leap against UCLA. By draft week, all but the most myopic Longhorns had come around to Bush as the smart pick. Then the Texans couldn't sign him before draft day--a move that now had become unnecessary--and so they signed Williams, and they STILL heard the boos.

And they get to play twice against Vince and LenDale for the foreseeable future."