Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pope on a string

As a former Catholic I can't help but be interested when a pope wains. I reckon it's probably the world's longest running monarchy, in a way. I remember having a fantasy as a teenager about going into the clergy, becoming pope and then appearing for the first time in front of the world in Ace Frehley makeup. How cool would that be? You can't be fired. What would they do? I eventually decided that was a hell of a long time to wait for a punch line and went on to other things.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Waco Kid

Gene Wilder has been getting a lot of press recently because he has a new memoir out. He was on Diane Rehm yesterday and I heard a good chunk of his interview before I went off to work. He told Diane she was beautiful which I thought was sweet. Today I read an article about him and his book and I found out he is 71 years old. 71! For some reason I still find that hard to believe. How in the hell did this happen? I know it's no great accomplishment or oddity for someone to reach 71 years but I had no idea Gene Wilder was a senior citizen. I'm over my initial shock now. I just thought you should know.

Monday, March 28, 2005

More Roger Kahn

Man, "The Boys of Summer" is just incredible. Another quote: "...troops of people who were there believe that in his prime Jackie Robinson was a better player than any of the other...(stars). 'Ya want a guy that comes to play,' suggests Leo Durocher, whose personal relationship with Robinson was spiky. 'This guy didn't just come to play. He come to beat ya. He come to stuff the goddamn bat right up your ass.'"
Roger Kahn

For my upcoming booktalk about baseball I have been reading "The Boys of Summer" by Roger Kahn. Here's a nice quote from the book and maybe it'll help answer a few questions that came in an email today. "'You see,' Lardner said at the l ong bar of teh Artist and Writers Restaurant, "Duke (Snider) thought if his dream came true he would be a different person. He's not unhappy about the dream. He's unhappy that he is still the same man. Happens to a lot of us. We get somwhere we wanted and find we're still ourselves." Lardner had revealed more than he intended. He said quickly, "Needles has the staying power to win the Belmont.'"

Friday, March 25, 2005

Happy Easter, ya'll

People often ask me what my favorite apsect of the Easter Holiday is and I always say that it's all them Phillipine people getting nailed to crosses. You'd think will all the wackos in this country that it would happen here. C'mon, Christians! Where's your faith? These people in the Phillipines are showing you up. I think a mass crucifixion in front of an abortion clininc would be perfect. As George Carlin said, "Take a fucking chance."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Google news alerts

One thing I forgot to mention that I like about the Google news alerts is how you can track the way a certain person is addressed in news stories that are not about him or her. For example, often when a writer does a story about Elvis they mention the Mojo Nixon song "Elvis is Everywhere." It usually goes like this: "Mojo Nixon once said that Elvis is everywhere and with the new touring exhibit of the King's collection of glass dildos he may not be everywhere but his sex toys will be all over the midwest this summer."

Another news alert I use is "Ty Cobb." It's interesting how Cobb's name has sprung up recently in columns concerning the recent steroids scandal in professional baseball. It seems that since Cobb is alleged to have sharpened the spikes on his shoes with a file that he was a cheater and using steroids is no worse than sharpening your spikes. Of course these writers don't delve deep enough into Cobb's life so that they can discover that Cobb rarely used those sharpened spikes on opponents (no more than the average ballplayer from the dead ball era) and that the real reason he sharpened his spikes before games in the dugout in full view of his opponents was to get a psychological edge. I guess you could draw a comparison if Mark McGwire used to sit in the dugout and overtly hold a needle out to the opposing players while growling at them before a game "I may have no balls when I'm 45 but I'm going to kick your ass today."
This Schiavo thing

I tell ya, you gotta admire George Bush when he can say with a straight face that it's best to err on the side of life when he presided over all those executions during his time as the governor of Texas and took us to war so enthusiastically.

As always, may god continue to bless George Bush.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


This is why I bought a ticket to the upcoming May race in Darlington: "The future of Darlington Raceway is again the subject of speculation - that the France family's International Speedway Corp. may sell the South Carolina track to promoter Bruton Smith so he can move Darlington's remaining Nextel Cup date to Las Vegas Speedway next season.

The Frances were on the verge of selling Darlington to Smith last year, for just such a Cup swap, only to back off at the last moment. One reason for adding a second date in Las Vegas would be to increase the value of NASCAR's pending new TV contracts, currently under negotiation."

I guess Rockingham was Ebbet's Field and Darlington will be the Polo Grounds.
Howdy, bub

Just got back a little from an event at the
CPCC Literary Festival. I saw the author Geraldine Brooks give a nice talk on the nature of turning fact into fiction. I used to go to literary events like this all the time. It felt good to jump back into the fray. Even though I hadn't heard of her before the event it's always nice to sit back and listen to an intelligent person talk for forty five minutes. Know what I mean?

I also got to chat for a few minutes with one of my favorite teachers, Irene Honeycutt who is the festival's director. Back when I was in school I actually wrote some pretty good poems and she got me started. She's encouraging and a delight to be around. One of the first things she asked was if I was still writing. I mumbled something like "not so much." I did try to rouse her interest by saying "I'm a librarian now." She said, "Yeah, and I'm a director now." I think she loves the festivals that she puts together from scratch but she's the kind of person that would rather be in the mountains or near the ocean writing poems. I did tell her about our little blog community we got going here and she was very interested in that. She thought it was wonderful that a small group of us write a few times a week and we read each others writing. So, take heart guys, Ms. Honeycutt approves and that has always been good enough for me.

The honeymoon continues

I've almost filled up that 300 CD changer I bought from my bossman. I even hooked up the keyboard to it a couple of times and entered the titles of a bunch of CD's. Now I can glance over see the date of the bootleg Dylan and Neil Young shows that pop up. The text helps with the Dylan studio albums also because he has about 100 of them and I can't remember what album each song is on. Especially with the pre-1970 work which can run together for me. Remember, as Tom Waits recently said, Bob Dylan is a planet to explore and as Jack Black said in High Fidelity when he discovered a customer did not own Blonde on Blonde, "I can't believe you don't have this fucking album dude." Word.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Mack and boys

I reckon anyone who has read "Cannery Row" by Steinbeck is familiar with the group of no-goods referred to as Mack and the Boys. They were always scheming for money to buy alcohol and always looking for a good party. The other day Mack and the boys came into the library.

These three guys were obviously transients. They had on mismatched clothing, missing more than just a couple teeth and one of them was functionally retarded. When the one with a library card got onto the internet the leader of the small group came up to the reference desk and asked me for pictures of professional golfers. He was pretty cagey about why he wanted them but since he inquired about the legality of using the photographs I assumed he was going to do something with them to make himself some drinking money. I think he let slip that he was going to do flyers for restaurants. Something like that. I think he was planning on using the pictures as models for drawings.

After about fifteen minutes of finding pictures of Tiger Woods and printing a page of them out he let me be for a few minutes. Soon after he came up with the functional retard and asked me if a) we had maps of Charlotte's underground rivers and b) if we had books on the engineering involved with gold mining. To my credit I did not laugh nor did I smirk. They monopolized my time for a good thirty minutes with these strange requests and, I swear, I kept waiting for this guy to say, "Look, Doc, I and the boys got an idea to make a little dough and we are willing to let you in on the ground floor. All we need is a place to crash, your place will do, and a couple of hundred bucks to get this scheme flying."
The favorite albums of Tom Waits

I sent this link of his favorite albums to Tom and a few others this morning.

A few thoughts:

Tom Waits mentioning Bill Hicks surprised and delighted me.

My first favorite song off of Exile on Main Street was "Just want to see his face." I had no idea me and Tom were so tight.

I recently got my hands on a four CD version of the basement tapes and it is a fun fun listen. Very loose and occasionally brilliant.

I haven't bought any Elvis Costello in a couple of years. Might have to remedy that.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

It's not the case it's the laughable reaction

From the NY Times: 'While lawmakers of both parties justified their effort to try to prevent removal of the feeding tube from the brain-damaged woman as a matter of fundamental rights and due process, political motivations have figured in as well.

For Republicans, it was a chance to try to carve out new territory in the "culture of life" issues so paramount to passionate religious conservatives, who have flooded Congressional offices with messages beseeching help in keeping Ms. Schiavo alive. For Democrats still struggling in the wake of their defeat in the November elections, the case offered a way to portray their newfound willingness to move to the center on such issues.

And for Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader facing inquiries into fund-raising improprieties in Texas and potential violations of House travel rules in Washington, taking a prominent role in rallying conservatives to the Schiavo cause also provided a sudden distraction from his troubles.

"To friends, family and millions of people praying around the world this Palm Sunday weekend: do not be afraid," said Mr. DeLay, who interjected himself forcefully into the case, in a pointed religious reference during a Friday news conference. "Terri Schiavo will not be forsaken."'

When did this country get so freakin' conservative, anyway? Remember when the hicks and hillbillies were just noisy and a pain in the ass and had to be shouted down occasionally? Shit, now they are in charge.
Tears me up

As an active Marine for four years this Iraq war has been making my blood boil. Marines are, in all honesty, taught that our job is to fight and die. We fucking jump when a leader says frog and we're proud to be the first ones in and the last to leave. But when I keep hearing about all these Marines laying their lives down in Iraq and then I see that smug-ass face of our sorry ass commander in chief I get madder than when I get cut off by a 90 pound woman in a 10,000 pound SUV talking on a cell phone. Pictures like the one below are especially heart wrenching.

I get especially frustrated when my mother can't understand why, as former Marine, I don't support the war. I try to articulate why but maybe you just have to have been there to understand what your indoctrination teaches you and, as Michael Moore said in his best point in Farenheit 9/11, when you send Marines out to die it better for a good goddamn reason. Is that really too much to ask?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ole Satch

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading a biography of Satchel Paige for the last week. It's by a fella named Mark Ribowsky and I recommend it if you have any interest in the life of Satchel Paige or the history of black baseball in the twentieth century. I'm not exactly going out on a limb by saying that the exclusion of black baseball players from the major leagues for fifty years is an awesome blemish on the sport. People like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell would have been giants of the sport along the lines of the first seven hall of fame inductees. Besides, isn't Cool Papa Bell one of the coolest names you've ever heard of?

What is amazing about Satchel Paige is he was a rookie in 1948 and he was 41 years old and in 72 2/3 innings pitched his ERA was 2.48 and the league average was 4.07. He was an effective major league pitcher until 1953. At 46 years old he had an ERA of 3.53. That is unheard of. Look at it this way: Jerry Rice was the first ever NFL wide receiver to play into his forties and that happened just a couple of years ago. Of course football is much harder on the body but very few baseball players hang on into their forties even now.

The book was over 2/3 of the way through when Paige finally stepped onto a major league field in a relief appearance it's been a while since I felt such emotion while reading a book. After reading about his amazing life and talent for so long you can't help but say to yourself, "It's about fucking time. What were these crackers thinking?"
The real issue

I see this brain dead woman is all over the news. Republican senators are rending their clothes while handling snakes and Democrats are running around with aborted fetuses on top of their heads while proclaiming that Christianity is dead. No one is asking the real question that needs to be asked concerning someone who is in a coma: Should you jerk them off now and then? I don't know if a blog is a legal document but if I am in a coma don't unplug me and be sure to have a nurse jerk me off every other day. She doesn't even have to be attractive. Hell, she doesn't even have to be a she. I won't know, I'm in a coma. If congress really cared about the brain dead they would do all they could to ensure that these poor souls get off at least three times a week. As Bill Hicks once said, "my hat is now in the ring."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Oh, lawd

Thank goodness we have such competent people in charge to handle this problem. I seem to remember that many science fiction stories about the near future where everything has gone to shit seem to have an element in it similar to what is going on over there with North Korea and China. Oh, lawd.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Still holding out for being the antichrist

My question is this: if you are the antichrist do you always know it or does it come as a revelation later in life? I hope it comes later because I think I have it in me to not be just a passable antichrist but one with real vigor and enthusiasm. A go-getter of an antichrist.

In all seriousness I just read a column in a recent New York Review of Books by Bill Moyers about right wing Christians and the fake rapture. It scared me to my soul. These fucking people don't give a shit about the environment because the man in the sky is coming back soon and this allows big business to ignore the environment for eight years because the Jesus freaks are in the white house. Personally I don't think Bush is a real Jesus freak. Faking it allows him to get his real freak on which is making money.

Moyers' article also led me to this scary/funny website. It astounds me that some people believe this stuff. I Did I say some people? I'm sorry, what I meant to say was that over 50% of my fellow 'Mericans believe this complete claptrap.

As always, may god continue to bless George Bush.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A couple of things I saw this weekend

In a neighborhood near me a tree outside someone's home has a United Nations flag attatched to it. The flag is emblazoned with one of those red circles with a line through it.

While getting some Mexican food this afternoon the television in the corner was showing a soccer game from Mexico. When the visiting team had a corner throw in the player was surrouned by riot police holding their protective shields toward the crowd.

Friday, March 11, 2005

A quote

Right now I am reading a biography of Satchel Paige by Mark Ribowsky. Here's quote attributed to him from late 1935 concerning the integration of baseball: "I'm probably drawin' more money right now than any other pitcher in baseball. What owner is goin' to pay that tkind of money right now at my age? Even if I did jump, I don't think those white boys from the south'd stand it. They got ahold of somethin' bitter when they were little and they ain't been able to relax and smile at the world since then."

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Nice evening

Last night after I got home I checked the newsgroups to see if any good new music was out there to be had. In the Dylan group I came across a show from Seattle, WA that was recorded two days before. I started downloading that sucker immediately and 40 minutes later had it burned onto two CD's and Wendell and I enjoyed about 1 1/2 hours of new Dylan material. It was a nice television free evening, just a few beers and a Dylan concert. It's nice to have a roommate that appreciates good music because I didn't have to bug him to play the Dylan show. He was as read to hear it as I was.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Awesome baseball story

I'm doing a booktalk coming up in April and it is going to be about books written about baseball. I think this nice quote displays nicely why there have been so many books written about baseball: it just lends itself to stories.

'"Former big league catcher Tim McCarver loves to tell the story of Dick Schofield, the Cardinals shortstop of the 1960s, and the pointed needle of Hall of Famer Bob Gibson. Schofield, McCarver says, never was one to conceal his frustrations. He would attack the dugout after unsuccessful at-bats.

As the story goes, Schofield fumed after a particular vexing at-bat and brought his rage back to the dugout. After witnessing the explosion, Gibson rose, found a Cardinals press guide and approached Schofield on the bench as he paged through the book.

When he found the proper page, he spoke to his shortstop. "Says here you're a .223 hitter," Gibson said as Schofield burned. "Well, why then are you so ticked off when you make an out?"'

Monday, March 07, 2005

News alerts

If you have a Google mail account have I got a tip for you. If you don't have a Google mail account you'll want one right away. What's the big tip? News alerts. If you go to the Google news page while logged into you email account you can set up Google news alerts and if the text you entered comes up in a news story then Google zaps you an email with a link to the news story. I love it. I can keep up with my favorite musicians and writers. Dave Alvin is touring and each town he stops in does a story about him and sometimes there is an interview. I can follow an interesting story that is hot for a few months like that one about the guy arrested in Charlotte for being Middle Eastern and taking pictures. One of my favorite alerts that I get are about the rural county in which I was raised in northern Michigan. Its name is unique enough that every story linked to that name has something to do with that county. I also get alerts on Okinawa where I was stationed for two years. 16 years later and the Okinawans are still fighting to get the American military off their island. I wish 'em luck.

Google news alerts! Get!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

New CD player redux

OK, so I got tired of it being all Dylan all the time and I decided to put in all my Neil Young and Tom Waits CD's. That was cool for a couple of days but now I am just putting in CD after CD. I am pushing 250 CD's and I hope to have that bad boy filled in a few days. I got me some Southern Culture on the Skids, Rolling Stones, Modest Mouse, Waco Brothers, Deke Dickerson, White Stripes, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, R.L. Burnside and all kinds of other shit in there. Maybe I should buy another and hook the two together. Can you do that?

Friday, March 04, 2005

My new toy

A few days ago I purchased from this guy I know a Sony 300 CD changer. I've always wanted one of those. I always thought it would be dream to fill one of those full of CD's and hit the random button. It is, oh it is. I have about 110 Bob Dylan CD's. I have most of his studio work and a large number of concerts. The first couple of days I just put those in enjoyed the way the player bounced through his career randomly.

Over the past couple of days I've just been sticking CD's in there and letting the player go where it will. I know I'm about ten years behind and that I should own an Ipod or some other mp3 player but this will do for a while.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

May god continue to bless George Bush

"Mr. Arar, a Canadian citizen with a wife and two young children, had his life flipped upside down in the fall of 2002 when John Ashcroft's Justice Department, acting at least in part on bad information supplied by the Canadian government, decided it would be a good idea to abduct Mr. Arar and ship him off to Syria, an outlaw nation that the Justice Department honchos well knew was addicted to torture."
Civilization, ho!

Wow, now the state can no longer murder retarded people and juveniles. How nice. Maybe someday we'll even stop trying children as adults. Why do we even have an age where one is declared an adult when children can be tried in our court system as adults? I figure if you can kill someone at 13 and face an adult court you should be able to buy booze, cigarettes and pornography and, if you live in South Carolina, fireworks.