Monday, December 16, 2013


For the second time in a week, I'm at the hospital.

For the second time in a week, it's not for me.

Fortunately, it doesn't appear to be anything life-threatening for either of my two trips up here (one for my wife, one for my son.)

Hospital waiting rooms are interesting places. Everyone's sitting around with their small group of family/friends just waiting. There's a television on a channel that's not riveting enough to keep you entertained, but not distracting enough to keep your mind off the fact that you're in a hospital. There are a few magazines, but again, nothing that would hold your attention. (I only saw two "Redbooks" around when I was there last week.)

Hospital rooms aren't much better. Sure you have access to the television, but there's not a whole lot on and in my current situation, nothing I want to watch are things I can/should watch with a five year old.

Assuming things continue on their current trend, my wife is going to let me go home and she'll stay with my son tonight. People who end up staying days/weeks at the hospital with a loved ones are saints in my book. I'm not sure my sanity could take sitting day after day in the same room.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unnecessary Analysis: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

I'm debuting a new feature that will run randomly whenever I get around to it. As the title suggests, I'll be unnecessarily (over)analyzing something relatively harmless for the fun of it. 

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" is one of the most polarizing holiday songs ever written. You either love it (my kid, for example), or you hate it (me, for example.) Regardless of how you feel about it, you can't escape it this time of year. It's a part of your life whether you want it to be or not. Originally released in 1979, the song slowly grew in popularity, first among country stations and then into Top-40 stations until it became the seasonal song you've grown to know and love, hate, or tolerate. Let's dive in.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

First things first, we start out a beloved holiday song with the apparent hit and run of grandma. I guess they couldn't make "Grandma was the victim of vehicular homicide" work with the music to go with that title. We're presented no reason to suggest Santa doesn't exist, but the singer proposes there may be some who do not believe in his is existence.

She'd been drinking too much egg nog,
And we'd begged her not to go.
But she forgot her medication,
And she staggered out the door into the snow.

This loving family allowed their (presumably) elderly grandmother to stumble drunk out the door to what I can only assume is a nearby home to get her medication. That the family begged her not to go shows they clearly care about her, but the fact no one bothered to actually walk with her to her home in her inebriated state makes me wonder about them.

When they found her Christmas morning,
At the scene of the attack.
She had hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminating Claus marks on her back.

WHAT?!? They found her Christmas morning? No one bothered to say "hey, where's Grandma?" at some point during the party. They let an elderly drunk woman walk out in the snow to get some important medication and no one there bothered to check on her. This seems irresponsible at best and negligent at worst. And then we find out there are hoof prints on her forehead, which makes sense) and incriminating Claus marks on her back.

Walk through this with me. If the hoof marks are on her forehead, she must have been hit from the front. A force strong enough to leave hoof marks would have to knock her on to her back. Yet we're told there are Claus marks on her back. So either Santa attacked her before the reindeer attack or he doubled back to inflict even more pain on this unconscious (maybe dead?) woman. A third theory that remains unexplored in the song is that of an elaborate conspiracy to frame Santa for someone else's crime.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Now we're all so proud of Grandpa,
He's been taking this so well.
See him in there watching football,
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel.

So wait, the day after his (I assume) loving wife is killed under mysterious circumstances, Grandpa is watching football as though nothing happened? He just moved on, just like that. No sharing of stories or funeral arrangements? Nothing. A life just ended here people. I know we all grieve in different ways, but drinking beer, watching football and playing cards seems, well, it seems like what I want to do this weekend, not what I want to do the day after my wife is murdered.

It's not Christmas without Grandma.
All the family's dressed in black.
And we just can't help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts or send them back? (send them back!)

Finally, the song starts to take a turn towards normalcy. There's sorrow that Grandma isn't there, everyone's in black and it appears that except for Grandpa and cousin Mel, there might be some semblance of a family in mourning. But no, it just couldn't last. In their time of grief and loss, their primary concern is of the material possessions they wanted to give to Grandma and what should should happen to them.

Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of fig.
And the blue and silver candles,
That would just have matched the hair in Grandma's wig.

This is the first we hear of Grandma's hair issues. While not a major plot point in the song, it seems odd to throw it in this late for no reason other than it rhymes with fig. And it's also nice to see the family sitting down together to share a meal during this tragic time.

I've warned all my friends and neighbors.
"Better watch out for yourselves."
They should never give a license,
To a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves.

Again, as the song nears its end, we see someone finally starting to take responsibility. If there's a crazed madman driving around with no regard for human life, someone should at least warn people. Granted, it doesn't appear they bothered to notify law enforcement to investigate and try to catch the person who killed their beloved grandmother, but at least the warning is getting out. I presume it was "don't let your drunk grandmother walk home alone at night," (which is really good advice for all of us to give our grandmothers.)

But then we get in to some ad hominem attacks on Santa. Simply because a man drives a sleigh ad plays with plays with elves is no reason to deny a man a license to drive. So long as he passes the driving test, what he drives or who he spends his time with should have no impact on whether or not he gets a license. This kind of attack on Santa's character destroys what little credibility these accusers have in this matter.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
Walking home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there's no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe

One last time they try to convince us of their conspiracy. They joy with which they sing reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where (do I have to do a spoiler alert for a show that ended in 1998? If so SPOILER ALERT) they're discussing George's fiance' dying from licking toxic envelopes. The doctor who described his reaction as "restrained jubilation." The same can be said of the singers of this song.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Breaking up is hard to do

They keep me company in the car. They distract me (and sometimes my coworkers) during my time in the cubicle farm. They’re with me when I’m mowing the grass or doing the dishes or just relaxing. Unfortunately, they annoy my wife, so they don’t come around often when she’s around.

We’re friends, or at least I l like to think we are. It’s kind of tough since I’ve never actually met these people. I refer, of course, to the numerous podcasts I listen to. But over the course of the past year, three of my favorites have ended their podcasting careers. Two of the by choice and one that seems to have had their corporate overlords end it prematurely.

A quick recap of the three that have gone to podcast heaven for those who aren’t privy to my iPod. Baseball Today ended first in January. Produced by ESPN, this one featured Eric Karabell as co-host with either Keith Law, who previously worked with the Toronto Blue Jays before transitioning to ESPN, or Mark Simon, a “stat nerd” in the kindest possible usage of the word. Especially the episodes with Karabell and Law, the show was a smart take on the game of baseball. Unlike most things I’ve found on ESPN, this wasn’t just filled with talking heads talking in cliché’s and restating accepted narratives. This was a critical, analytical look at the game. It was sadly replaced by a show similar to nearly every other baseball podcast available.

Law currently has a weekly podcast that takes a broader view of the game, but doesn’t provide the same kind of analysis Baseball Today did. It’s excellent, just different.

Fantasy Focus Baseball is in transition. At the end of the season, Nate Ravitz and Matthew Berry announced they’d be leaving the show as the demands associated with the daily podcast became too much for the pair to do in addition to their other responsibilities at ESPN. While not quite the analysts that Law is, Ravitz and Berry provided daily baseball notes for your fantasy team as well as more than their fair share of nonsense. (My personal favorites: Rapper or World Capital -  a game in which Berry had to guess if a name was that of a rap artist or a World Capital…. I feel this would be a fun game for social studies teachers to use the first week of class -  a debate regarding the most famous city in Tennessee, and the ongoing effort (finally realized) to get Daisy Fuentes to appear on the podcast).

This show will continue, and it’s my hope that frequent guest host Eric Karabell will get the job hosting next year. I tweeted at Karabell shortly after the announcement was made that Berry and Ravitz were leaving and he told me he wasn’t sure if he would be the host. Even with Karabell, the show won’t be the same.

And finally, on a podcast released Tuesday that I wasn’t able to listen to until today, The Baseball Show with Rany and Joe announced they were retiring from the podcasting game. Hosted by Rany Jazayerli and Joe Sheehan, two of the founders of Baseball Prospectus, the pair have been friends for nearly 20 years who essentially recorded their phone calls they were having anyway and made a podcast out of it. These two were ahead of nearly everyone in pushing for the statistical revolution that has changed the game. I felt a little like I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two really intelligent people talking about something I really enjoyed. They profoundly changed the way I look at the game and made me a smarter fan.

The end of podcast comes as a shock. With all three, there was no warning that any change was coming. Just about 15 minutes at the end of each one saying how grateful they are to have had the opportunity and how much fun it’s been. And with Fantasy Focus and The Baseball Show, I understand the reasons they won’t be doing them any longer. Work responsibilities and family responsibilities are completely valid reasons to no longer do something that is essentially free.

I’m not upset they’re not doing it any more. (Ok, that’s a lie, I’m a little upset.) I’m upset because I feel like my friends are leaving me. Friends I’ve spent time with and grown to know. Friends who I laughed with, learned from and came to count on to keep me company. I’ll miss inviting them in to my car, my home. So if you’re currently hosting a podcast I listen to, please don’t quit. Or if you do, can you at least call me weekly and talk to me on my way to work?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

War on Christmas Over! Christmas Opponents Surrender

This is what I imagine the instrument of surrender will look like once the War on Christmas finally ends.

We, acting by command of and in behalf of the Opponents of Christmas, hereby accept the provisions set forth in the Festivus Declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the North Pole, Fox News, the Republican Party of the United States and Fundamentalist Christians everywhere, on 4 December 2017 at Santa Claus, Georgia, and subsequently adhered to by the Snowmen Guild of the Word, which five powers are hereafter referred to as the Christmasers.

We hereby proclaim the unconditional surrender to the Christmasers of the Christmas Opponents General Headquarters and of all Christmas Opponent Forces and all Forces under Hanukkah control wherever situated.

We hereby command all War on Christmas forces wherever situated and Christmas Opponents people to cease hostilities forthwith, to preserve and save from damage all shopping malls, school musicals, greeting cards sent in December and displays of Santa, Rudolph, Jesus, Frosty and other Christmas icons, and to comply with all requirements which may be imposed by Bill O’Reilly, the Supreme Commander for the Christmasers, or by agencies of the Corporations destined to reach profitability during this shopping season.

We hereby command the Christmas Opponents Headquarters to issue at once orders to the commanders of all Christmas Opponent forces and all forces under their control wherever situated to surrender unconditionally themselves and all forces under their control.

We hereby command all commercial, volunteer, and officials of different faiths to obey and enforce all proclamations, orders, and directives deemed by the Supreme Commander for the Christmasers to be proper to effectuate this surrender and issued by him or under his authority; and we direct all such officials to remain at their posts and to continue to perform their non-Christmas duties unless specifically relieved by him or under his authority.

We hereby undertake for the Christmas Opponents, the non-Christians among us, and their successors to carry out the provisions of the Festivus Declaration in good faith, and to issue whatever orders and take whatever action may be required by the Supreme Commander for the Christmasers Powers or by any other designated representative of the Christmasers for the purpose of giving effect to that declaration. The idea that others may want to celebrate something different during this time is of no consequence.

We hereby command the Christmas Opponents and the Christmas Opponent Headquarters at once to liberate all Christmaser Prisoners of War and civilian internees now under Christmas Opponents control and to provide for their protection, care, maintenance, and immediate transportation to places as directed, such as Wal-Mart, Target or shopping center and to direct any internet connected device to for the purchase of gifts to commemorate the birth of their savior. Why these two events are linked is unknown but this is what the war was fought over, so let’s just go with it.

The authority of the Emperor and the Christmas Opponents to be in public shall be subject to the Supreme Commander for the Christmasers, who will take such steps as he deems proper to effectuate these terms of surrender.

Signed at Santa Claus, Georgia at 12:12 on December 4, 2017

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


A quick paraphrased conversation between me and my wife: 

"How do you know him?" she said.

"We talk on twitter," I responded.

"Oh, so you don't really know him" she said.

This came up as part of my quest to get a postcard from all 50 states for my son. A friend of mine from twitter sent ones from Kansas and Missouri and when they arrived, my wife was curious who we knew in that part of the country.

I guess, technically, we've never met. We're both baseball fans who, though the magic of twitter, started following each other. We both trade insights, questions and jokes about the games we're watching as well as trade ideas that would never happen but it's fun to speculate about. Over time, like anyone you share a similar interest with and time talking to, we became friends.

At least in my eyes. My wife isn't quite so sure. She's of the understandable belief that to meet someone, you have to, you know, actually have met them in person. Anyone can be anyone on the internet, so who is to say someone isn't going through an elaborate bit of performance art to claim to be a Kansas City Royals fan who created a backstory about his brother being a foreign missionary just to interact with people online for the sake of some big reveal sometime in the future. Seems a bit extreme, but then, great art is extreme and not always understood in its own time.

(I made that last part up, I have no knowledge of art history or what does or doesn't constitute great art or when it become appreciated.)

So do I know him? I guess it's a matter of semantics. Not exactly a firm stand there, but what do you want from me? It's not like this is a really pressing issue that needs a definitive answer. Let's put it this way, I've interacted more with this guy that I've never met in person a whole lot more than I have with some of my Facebook friends that I haven't done more than accept a friend request from in the past 15 years. I'll let you define what that is for you.