Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Failed Baseball Player Melanie and I went and saw the movie Moneyball during our staycation last week. We both enjoyed the film. The question that seems to arise about every baseball film is where does it measure against the rest of the baseball films out there. It's no Bull Durham but it definitely hurdles over the silly of Field of Dreams. I don't like Field of Dreams because it doesn't play fair. The reason it doesn't play fair is brought up in the recent episode of Bob Costas' show on the Major League Basebal Network, it's all about men wanting to play catch with their fathers. It couldn't be more manipulative.

What I did like a lot about Moneyball was mentioned by Billy Beane during the Studio 42 show. He though it really captured the feel of the clubhouse of a major league baseball team. I was happy to hear that because when I was watching the movie it felt realistic to me. As someone watching a movie like that where what you are seeing feels real you never really know if what you are watching is a hell of a good fake or a close representation. It's nice to have a gut feeling ratified by someone who has been there. Michael Lewis, the author of the book Moneyball, which is the basis of the movie, mentioned that about Bull Durham. I think it was Lewis that said this. There were four panel members: Brad Pitt, Michael Lewis, Billy Beane and Jonah Hill. Jonah Hill, who I like, was really out of his element as a member of his panel. He looked a lot like a student trying to pass a test when Costas asked him baseball related questions. Maybe he was just nervous, there were some heavy hitters in that room.

During the interview Costas said something about Billy Beane that I thought was unfair. He called Billy Beane a failed ballplayer. I would say anyone who can make a major league roster for six consecutive seasons is not a failed ballplayer. His major league career could be seen as a failure but if you are good enough to make a squad, even if in three of those seasons you have 10 or fewer at bats, you are not a failed ballplayer. He made the show six times. How many of us would give a testicle to put on a major league uniform once? Someone like Beane is in a unique position when compared to those of us that never played competitive baseball after they were 21, he ws in the game as a player and after his career as a player ended he found a way to stay in it. Sure, his playing career didn't pan out but he is still in the game and that is all most of those want who have baseball dreams, just to be around the game. He even had at least one great game. On April 29th, 1986 Billy Bean went five for five, hit a home run and drove in four runs. Three of those hits came off the great Ron Guidry. Not putting together a long major league career is not a failure. I'm sure Beane still thinks about what could have been all the time. Shit, I still daydream about the last game I played in high school. If I had just gotten under that last ball that was a single down the line... At least Beane went five for five against the Yankees once. He's soared a lot higher than millions of us.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Today Dad and I went driving around Antrim County again just to see what we could see. We had discussed going up to the Central Lake area and then heading over to see the view from Dead Man's Hill. Instead we got a little turned around and ended up south ofLake Charlevoix. I noticed a sign advertising a ferry up the road. I was completely unaware a ferry still was running in this part of the world. It's called the Ironton Ferry. It costs $3.50 to cross. I had never ridden on a car ferry before. That made the day worthwhile by itself. I think ferries were pretty common up here for a while. There is an old ferry site on Clam Lake right down the street from my Dad's land. Now both points are lake public access sites.

Once we were headed northwest towards Charlevoix I saw a state park that might afford us a nice view of Lake Michigan and hopefully the tip of Leelanau County to the west. The park is called Fisherman's Island State Park. Turns out we didn't have to enter the park in order to get down to the beach. This part of the shoreline was covered with slate and you could see where slate had been carved out for use in construction, maybe? Like I know what the hell you would use slate for. According to Wikipedia it has been used for roofing shingles Sounds good to me. This area was beautiful. The lake was very shallow here. It appeared to me you could walk about a hundred yards out before you would be forced to swim.

Our next stop was a small burg called Norwood which gave us a nice view of the north tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. Further down we stopped at Barnes Park in Eastport which offered a another grand view of the tip of Leelanau County and also the Old Mission Peninsula.


Lake Charlevoix
From 2011 Michigan

Ironton Ferry
From 2011 Michigan

The view near Fisherman's Island State Park. This is my favorite picture from today You can see the slate under the water near the shore.
From 2011 Michigan

The tip of Leelanau Country from Norwood
From 2011 Michigan

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Empire Bluffs

Today Kevin and Tina took me on another tour of the sites of Leelanau County. We've done this three times since I first came back up here after a ten year absence back in 2007. The first stop was a place I have been to before the Treat Family Farm. It's an old farm that has been purchased by the government and is now part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. You walk across a field and up a bluff and find yourself a couple hundred feet above Lake Michigan. It's a stunning view. Our next stop was the Empire Bluff. I had never been to it before. You are even up higher and the view of dunes is even more impressive. I really liked the light coming through the clouds today I took a picture that a gazillion other people have but to me it looks like a painting. I am digging it.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever, Take One

This is probably my favorite bootleg track. It's different in over presentation but it's still recognizable when compared final version of the song. When John Lennon brought song to the studio it was essentially finished, all the lyrics and melody were there. As the recording process went on they played with the structure and added all the crazy shit. I don't prefer take one to the finished version but I think it stands nicely on its own because it's just the four boys and George Martin playing a song. Straw Take One by zzazazz

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


In November of 2005 the Drive by Truckers played at the Tremont Music Hall and did one of the better openings I have ever witnessed. They opened with a Mike Cooley song called Cottonseed which is part of a three-song mini opera about Buford Pusser of Walking Tall fame. The mini opera is on the album The Dirty South. The song Cottonseed is the first person story, told while in prison, by a particularly scary member of the gang that Buford went to war with. It has this piece of poetry in it: "Stories of corruption, crime and killing, yes it's true. Greed and fixed elections, guns and drugs and whores and booze."

The album version of the song Cottonseed is acoustic, it's sparse and it's spooky. It's not the sort of song you would think you might open up a two hour rock show with. But if you plug the song in, put some Jason Isbell slide guitar behind it, have the drummer use his heavy hands and throw in some Patterson Hood backing vocals then you have a seven minute slow burn that brings the crowd to a boil. It was masterful. It's the kind of moment that only bands like the Drive by Truckers can pull off because they have an audience that appreciates a reinvention of a song like this. You can tell as this goes on that the audience knows they are hearing something familiar again for the first time and they respond.

About 2/3 of the way through the volume jumps up. The recorder must have adjusted his levels.

Drive-By Truckers - Live at Tremont 1105 Cottonseed by zzazazz

Monday, September 05, 2011

Over the Falls

An album by Primus that I liked a lot was the Brown Album. It had an organic or old fashioned feel to me. In fact in retrospect some of it reminds me of the Decemberists with it's eye on the past. The song Over the Falls along with Fisticuffs are my two favorite songs on the album. To me they had a Victorian feel to them. Over the Falls is about going over a waterfall in a barrel and Fisticuffs is about old boxers who die due to the beating they take while practicing their profession. I found a bootleg on Dime a Dozen from a show in Berlin in July where they play both those songs.

I am posting Over the Falls because I think it shows a lot of what is great about Primus. It shows that they are not just My Name is Mud and guys in skull caps bouncing into each other and displays the great rhythm Les Claypool and the drummer Tim Alexander can lay down. It is a nice example of the absurd poetry of Les Claypool's lyrics. It also displays the unique guitar soloing of Larry LaLonde. I love his solos.

The song ends around the 6:06 mark. I neglected to edit it down before posting it.

Primus 2011-07-05 Over the Falls by zzazazz

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Mike Goodson

Here's hoping Mike Goodson has a chance to get some carries this year. He's been looking good again returning kickoffs and he's not afraid to bring the ball out of the end zone. He is active on Twitter, you can find him here Picture borrowed from Yahoo! News

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Heads Up Fans

Last night in the bottom of the sixth of the Yankees/Red Sox game the Red Sox were down 5-4 and had a runner on first. Jason Varitek, the switch hitting catcher, was batting left handed. They ran a hit and run and he hit a ground ball down the third base line which rolled all the wall to the corner in left field. Reddick, the runner on first scored easily and Varitek ended up on second. What was remarkable about the play was the behavior of the Red Sox fans. You could see them all consciously pull back as the ball hit the wall near them. Not out of fear, because it wasn't hit very hard at all, but to be sure they did not interfere with the play and thereby turn the hit into a ground rule double which would have left the run that scored on third base. I love stuff like that. You can bet, as Curt Schilling said while calling the game, that if that ball had been hit by a Yankee batter that someone would have caught or at least touched the ball to make sure than run didn't score.

You can see this in the TV screenshot I took. The ball is right next to the fan in the white shirt with blue horizontal stripes. You can see they are taking care to not touch the ball. IMAG0333