Tuesday, April 26, 2011

There's No Crying In Baseball

And we would especially like to welcome all the representatives of Illinois's law enforcement community that have chosen to join us here at Expecting The Spanish Inquisition at this time... 

Song 23: Don’t Cry
Artist: Guns ‘N Roses

If you ask The Wife, I don’t have any emotions, or thoughts, or mechanical knowledge, or a strong stomach, or a desire to learn to cook or any number of things that would make me a useful member of society. Rather than focusing on all of those at this time, we’ll just focus on my lack of emotions. Because I tend to only shed tears when networks set sports season retrospectives to music or when The Wife punches me in the face while we’re both asleep, I’ve got the reputation for not having emotions. Well, that and during one of the songs at our wedding I asked my new bride how she thought my fantasy baseball team was doing rather than something more appropriate, like how the Cubs were doing that day.

Longtime readers are now likely expecting a lengthy list of humorous items that I claim have made me cry in the past. But not today. Mostly because I just finished a listing post, and they’re harder to write than you would think (or maybe not, I don’t know how hard you think those are to write), but also because I’m lazy and want something easy to write.

I want the ability to cry on demand. There, I said it. Women seem to possess this ability and can use it whenever they want pretty much get whatever they want. Granted, women also have boobs and those also tend to enable women to get what they want as well, but I’m ok not having boobs. But crying on demand, that seems like an incredibly valuable skill to possess. To be able to emotionally manipulate people around you to letting you have your way seems nice.

But as with any great power, it comes with great responsibility. Those who possess this power run the risk of overusing it, thus rendering those around them immune to the perceived anguish. Cry once because you’re truly upset that he got you chocolates instead of flowers and should have known you were on a diet and buying her candy was on par with running over her childhood pet and you’ll get both flowers and chocolate. Do it every time and you’ll be lucky you don’t get the orange and black candy from Halloween that everyone hates and ragweed on the next important day.

I imagine if I could cry on demand, I would overuse it. I’d turn on the faucet each time I didn’t get to watch what I wanted on television or whenever I had to go to one of The Wife’s work functions that conflicted with me doing pretty much anything else. I’d also use it when I didn’t want to take the dog out or when I didn’t feel like getting up to refill my glass with a tasty beverage.

So it’s probably for the best I can’t cry on cue. I mean, I don’t think other professional teams would care if I was crying each time the Cubs lost in an effort to make them feel sorry for me and let the Cubs win the next day. Besides, I’ll just cry the Cubs have their season retrospective, which sadly is scheduled for the last day of the regular season every year.

Next Song: Leaving
Artist: Hootie and the Blowfish

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lost in space

Song 22: I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Artist: U2

I was picking up dog poop
while my wife was here.
Ok, so I’ve been gone for a long while. Judging from the amount of phone calls, texts, tweets and facebook messages I’ve received on the issue, I can tell that you haven’t missed me. Or maybe you’ve just been as busy as I’ve been. I don’t want to make excuses, but I will. Long story short, my wife has been working, a lot. And when she hasn’t been working, she’s been in New Orleans where she was partying, a lot. All this left me to tend for a two-and-a-half year old completely on my own for essentially two weeks.

If I had an actual job in which I interacted with adults, this might not be such a big deal, but I don’t, so the overwhelming majority of my human interactions are with someone who still poops his pants and needs me to tend to practically his every need. While not physically demanding (though they do put the lids on Play-doh a little tighter than I feel is necessary), it is mentally exhausting to feign excitement over finding “super letters” or one of “Blue’s Clues” for hours on end. Because of that, I didn’t have the ability to be humorous while The Wife was gone.

“But Luke,” you say, “You weren’t funny when The Wife was around.” Ok, two things. First off, when did you start calling her “The Wife?” I just started that. And secondly, that’s a fair point. But nevertheless, I’m going to try again. Starting with this blog. Or the next one, we’ll see how this goes.

Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. That is just one of the many things I've been seeking over the years that I've yet to finally locate. Among them:

Someone who actually remembers the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

Anyone roughly my age who didn't enjoy Nickelodeon's Hey Dude.

A way to ensure it doesn't rain when I have outdoor plans.

Any legitimate reason why New York Yankee games are broadcast on Wilmington, North Carolina's local ESPN Radio affiliate.

A reason to watch American Idol now that Simon left.

My "Man Card" after admitting I watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

A way for any of my fantasy teams to win a fantasy title.

The time to read, listen to and watch all the different types of media I'm interested in.

Any wardrobe that wouldn't be immediately improved by wearing a clock on a long chain a la Flavor Flav.

College football in Wilmington, NC.

Anyone, anywhere who doesn't enjoy at least portions of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

An easy way to remove the random program that The Wife downloaded onto our computer.

ESPN's Bill Simmons to answer one of my questions in his legendary chats.

Some way to hold on to my dwindling sanity.

Any enjoyment whatsoever from the NBA.
Corrolary: Anyone who has admitted to watching a WNBA game on purpose.

Ocean weather in 2011 (though that will be here shortly).

Approval from The Wife for teaching my kid to say "Peace Out" when he's leaving.

Time to watch all the shows I want to watch, read all the books I want to read, listen to all the podcasts I want to listen to, and interact with all the people I want to interact with.

Message received,
Ms. Hathaway's attorney.
Fantasy Update: Not counting the letter from her attorney's demanding I stop contacting her, I still haven't heard back from Anne Hathaway regarding a date I've asked her on. In other fantasy news, my baseball teams are fair to middling as the season gets underway. It's still to early to tell if I am going to horribly suck or just suck regularly. 

Next Song: Don’t Cry
Artist: Guns ‘N Roses

Friday, April 8, 2011

A good walk not spoiled

If you want to take long walks, take long walks.  If you want to hit things with sticks, hit things with sticks.  But there's no excuse for combining the two and putting the results on TV. 
-National Lampoon

Golf is a good walk spoiled
-Mark Twain

Thursday, the wife and I were able to attend one of the most pretegious golf tournaments in the world, The Masters held at Augusta National golf course. This was my fourth time attending, but the wife always had conflicts in the past, so she ended up losing her Masters virginity Thursday. 

Before we get into the details, I want to assure you that despite what is said of patrons (not guests or spectators, we were "patrons") we were not the most knowledgeable golf fans in the world. I very casually follow golf, which is to say I read the headlines on ESPN.com on Monday to see who won. That's pretty much the extent of my golf fandom. And that puts me miles and miles ahead of the wife who gleaned most of her golf knowledge from watching it when we went to my grandmother's house on holidays when golf was on. 

Nevertheless, when you're given an chance to go the The Masters, you don't turn it down. So we woke up dark and early (sadly, it wasn't even bright) and made the 45 minute trek from my grandmother's house (she had the tournament badges) to the course. For most of the trip, the wife was anxiously excited, not knowing what to expect, but eager to experience it. I, too, was excited as it'd been a few years since I'd last been.

Photos don't do the course justice either.
We get in and the wife is slightly more excited than a kid in a candy store. Like everyone else, she's transfixed by how green the grass is, how well maintained the grounds are, and just the vastness of Augusta National. Television does a great job of showing it, but they really can't do justice to how nice the entire place it. So excited was the wife that she said she "wanted to pick an azalea" (despite the fact that we live in a town that has an "Azalea Festival" each year) and wanted to jump into one of the sand traps and make a snow... err sand angel. She also wanted to be able to "smell Phil Mickelson," but not Tiger because "he probably smells like 18 holes."

We make our way around the course, the wife working out ways she can see the golfers she's heard of (which essentially boils down to Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson) at the most possible locations regardless of the walking that would entail. Despite my efforts to convince her to stay in one spot and let them come to us, we proceeded to explore the course like we were Lewis and Clark. (You didn't see a history joke coming, did you?)

I need new
goals in life.
We got to see Tiger, Phil and Vijay and pretty much everyone else playing as we were there to see the first group putt on the first hole and we saw the last group playing at the 15th hole. We saw fashion choices that made me wonder why someone would design such pants, let alone why someone would not only buy them, but wear them in a non-ironic way. We met a nice woman whose daughter went to Georgia Southern and another group of women who took the time to explain a lot of golf to the wife and myself. We also did not get to meet ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, which has become a goal of mine I feel may never be attained. 

After roughly 10 hours on the course, we called it a day, well that and nature pretty much called it a day by having the sun start to go down. All day long the wife kept telling me I may be in trouble because she may have become a full-fledged golf fan. She asked what it was about live sporting events that causes her to become fans of the sport (she wasn't really a baseball fan until we went to Turner Field and saw batting practice). I don't think she'd let me take her to an NFL game, assuming they play again, because she's fearful she'd start to like that too. 

There's also a pretty good chance I'll have a playing partner in Tiger Woods Golf now, especially if we break down and get the latest version with Augusta National included among the courses. So I've got that going for me.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Working for the Weekend (Rebecca Black edition)

It’s not in my iPod, but I’m writing about it anyway. It’s become a strange obsession for me.

Song: Friday
Artist: Rebecca Black

I like to think I’m fairly on top of popular culture. Not always at the forefront (especially since we gave up cable), but you can mention Mad Men or Justin Bieber and there’s a pretty good chance I at least know the basics. So when I saw “Rebecca Black” and “Friday” trending on twitter (follow me here) and hearing it discussed on multiple days on the fantasy baseball podcast I listen to,  I figured it was something I needed to investigate.

A quick trip over to Youtbue and the search for “Rebecca Black, Friday” resulted in a music video. “How bad can it be?” I wondered. Granted, twitter users as a whole aren’t known for their sophisticated tastes in the arts, but apparently there was something to this young lady and her musings on what is generally considered most people’s favorite day of the week.

Yesterday was Thursday
What I learned is that I can be bad. Really bad. Bad to a level that hadn’t been seen since, well, let’s say a Justin Bieber song of your choice. But there was something about it that, for some reason, caught people’s attention and elicited comments about it. But as of Sunday night, her video has more than 80 million hits (click here to add to that total). The song and video brings up so many questions. Why does she go to the bus stop to wait for her friends to drive by? What kind of cereal does she eat? What state allows 13-year olds to drive? Why is there a random rap interlude in the song? Isn't a 30-year old rapper singing in a 13-year old girl's song just a little strange? Can that guy show his face on the street again? Is sitting in the front seat or the back seat that big of a decision? Can we all agree that auto-tune is not a good development?

So I was all set to jump in onthe mockery of this song and everything associated with it. That was, until I felt the need to further investigate this song (or read random sites that also had an unexplained fascination with it.) First, I found this interview with Ms. Black in which she explains the song is more than just a teenage pop song. It’s actually a multi-layered critique on modern society. When she sings about “gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal” she’s referring to the materialism that permeates American society. She also tackles the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and well as the broken promises to her generation.

Then, it what I initially assumed was nothing short of musical blasphemy, someone dared compare Friday to A Day In The Life by The Beatles. But upon further examination, it’s not as absurd as it seems. Honestly, The Beatles’ lyrics aren’t all that inspired and while they’re better than Black’s, they aren’t that much better. There, I said it.

And finally, no blog about Friday would be complete without mentioning the Stephen Colbert/Jimmy Fallon cover. It apparently started when Colbert told his audience that Jimmy Fallon would match a $26,000 donation if Colbert’s audience could raise that amount for charity. Only he forgot to mention that fact to Fallon. So Fallon upped (lowered?) the stakes by promising his audience that Colbert would perform a cover of Friday if Fallon’s audience raised $26,000, again, without telling Fallon. After Fallon’s audience came through with the fundraising, Colbert, “being a man of Jimmy’s word” kept up his end of the non-existent bargain and gave us this enjoyable four minutes of television. It also answers the rarely asked question, "whatever happened to Taylor Hicks?

In about two months, no one will remember this song ever existed. Honestly, if I actually waited until Friday to post this it would already be horribly outdated. But for now, it’s been an enjoyable diversion from real life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Does Jay Leno have a list?

Note: Song 21 in my 322-part series. (Due to laziness on my part, I’ve been inaccurate in my song count. However, I corrected that tonight and now actually have a record of the songs I’ve done.)

Song: A Conspiracy
Artist: The Black Crowes

I’m not typically one who gets caught up in television shows getting cancelled. It happens, mostly because I tend to enjoy shows that seem to develop a niche audience and can’t ever break free. Despite being off the air for more than a decade, I still miss Aaron Sorkin’s SportsNight (less successful than West Wing but more successful than Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.)

But there is one show that I’m still upset no longer graces the airwaves, and I’m willing to embrace a conspiracy to make myself feel better about it.

It all started back in 2004 when NBC decided it wanted to keep both Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, promising Conan he could have The Tonight Show in 2009. As someone who watched neither, I didn’t really care so long as Jon Stewart was still on the air. Well, 2009 rolls around and NBC comes up with this cockamamie scheme to move Leno to 10 p.m. every weeknight, which drastically reduces the amount of primetime programming hours available.

His name is Earl
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a plucky little show debuted in 2005 about a man who discovers Karma, not the stripper down by the airport who performs with Mystique, but the cosmic force that, as it’s explained ‘do good things, good things happen. Do bad things, bad things happen.’ It provided such life lessons as “I realize now that faking your death to break-up with someone is not exactly thoughtful.” Sure, My Name Is Earl, kind of went off the rails when they put Earl in prison and then had him lapse into a coma, but it was still better than pretty much everything NBC had on the air at the time (and still.) 

So here’s my theory as to why it got cancelled. Secretly Jay Leno hated My Name Is Earl. Hated the show more than he hated Conan O’Brien. Hated it more than the Coke Zero brand managers hate Coke. For the sake of continuity, let’s not ask questions like ‘why he hated the show?’ because asking questions not based in wild speculation with no facts to back it up only does things like make conspiracies crumble. Just go with the premise, the way people who go to Creationist Museums go with the premise that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and evidence to the contrary is part of a conspiracy by the devil to make people question the existence of God. (Your evil spirit and omnipotent deity, much like your mileage, may vary.)

Because of that hatred equal to the intensity of the burning of a thousand suns, Leno devised a plan to relinquish The Tonight Show to Conan, but create a show at 10 p.m. that would eliminate valuable prime-time programming slots and My Name Is Earl would be cancelled as a result. It was the perfect plan. Making things even better for Leno was My Name Is Earl ended the season with a cliffhanger and the show’s legions (ok, at that point, dozens) of fans would never find out who Dodge’s father was.
To that extent, Leno’s plan worked perfectly. My Name Is Earl didn’t make the fall schedule, Leno’s ratings sucked to the point that NBC gave him his old job back, resulting in Conan going to TBS, which was probably good for TBS, not so much for Conan. 

Unfortunately, I’ll never know if Earl completed everything on his list. How did he make up for wasting electricity? What can you do to make up for stealing pine tree air fresheners?  I’ll never know, and it’s all that bastard Jay Leno’s fault.

I probably shouldn’t have written this immediately after finishing Bill Carter’s “The War for Late Night” about the Leno/O’Brien fiasco. Oh well.

Next song: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Artist: U2