Thursday, November 30, 2006

I am now a John Krasinski fan

Seems like he's a DFW freak just like me, and he's especially fond of Brief Interviews with Hidden Men, which is probably my favorite Wallace book of all time.

He's going to turn the book, which is made up of a bunch of short pieces, into a movie.

"This book changed my life," he says earnestly.

Pujols getting a big head?

Check out what he had to say in thisarticle:

"I see it this way: Someone who doesn't take his team to the playoffs doesn't deserve to win the MVP," Pujols said in Spanish at a news conference organized by the Dominican Republic's sports ministry.

Which isn't that bad to say, still it's mostly better if others say it, not the person in the running for the award. Here's the clincher though:

Pujols led the Cardinals to the NL Central title this year and their first World Series championship since 1982. Howard and the Phillies missed the playoffs -- though they won two more regular-season games than St. Louis did.

Ha! Sure, St Louis got into the playoffs. OK. Won the World Series even. Fine. But the Phillies, behind Ryan Howard, WON MORE GAMES THAN PUJOLS'S TEAM DID.

I'm not saying Howard should've won, I'm just saying he was probably more valuable to his team than Pujols, by Pujols's own reasoning.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Coach Skiles - Headbandgate

I'm starting to doubt whether Skiles is a good coach or not. His style is right up my alley - I love it. He is hard on his players, pushes them, doesn't coddle them, and expects them to put in hard work and effort every time they take the court, be it for practice or a game. He also doesn't want selfish players on his team, no matter how good they are. But the results just haven't been there.

Here's what he said about the whole headband thing with Ben Wallace:

"The guys have a chef making them lunch, and they don't touch their bag from the time the bag guy takes it until it gets to their hotel room, and they fly first-class and they get paid millions of dollars," coach Scott Skiles said. "They get a hotel room downtown on the day of the game if they want one. They stay at Ritz-Carltons [on the road].

"I would say that so much is done for the players that less than a handful of things we require back should be followed."

And I'm reminded why I like him so much.

Here is a random quote I found on his wikipedia page:

"Basketball is like religion: many attend, few understand."

Pulitzer Prize winning article on Yemen

I was sneaking around the Pulitzer website looking for something good to read and found some reporting that sounded interesting. This is a three-part article on a program to bring democracy to Yemen that underscores the vast chasm between reality and theory when it comes to programs like this. Programs that are backed up by vigorous rhetoric from the president himself.

A bit long, but worth it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Cubs

So we finally got the big fish in Alfonso Soriano. It's a surreal experience, but hey, great. We resigned Aramis, nice.

But wasn't the pitching what we needed to address more than anything?

I wonder about the moves so far. Not so much the spending or the personnel added, but the priority in which they were made.

Where are the starters? Sure, Wade Miller will be in the race for the 5th starter, probably along with Sean Marshall, Angel Guzman, and the rookies. That's fine.

That leaves:


This is what writers around the country have as the rotation. But, as much as Prior has been hurt (freak accidents), he will be in the rotation as long as he's healthy. That's why Hendry is going after mid-level pitchers like Gil Meche and Jason Marquis.

Because here is what it really looks like:


Word is Hendry wants two more pitchers. Why? Because this way any injury to Prior is covered as well as the struggles that may come from the number 5 slot. Plus, it's always good to have depth.

So what am I getting at?

The fact that, a month ago, I could've given you a lineup with very few question marks:

CF ?
2B Theriot
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
RF Jones
C Barrett
LF Murton
SS Izturis

So this post is now officially a ramble, I'm busy packing, but my point is this: Don't we need elite starters much more than we need elite hitters like Soriano?

Pitching wins championships?

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Kramer Incident

This was really something else.

But what I'm watching right now, on the Letterman Show, of him trying to apologize, is really frightening to watch. Seinfeld was on, and it's turned into the Michael Richards apology. The crows was laughing through certain parts, not really sure of what was going on. They all think it's a joke. He's obviously torn up about it, but what do you say? You do not say the "n word" when you are this famous, not onstage or anywhere else. Unfortunately, you can't take it back. Ever.

He just pulled a "Mel"

By the way, I saw the video and it's really shocking. I can't imagine sitting in the crowd and hearing that. He's lucky he didn't get roughed up right there on the stage.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Infinite Jest Anniversary Edition

I finally got my hands on the introduction by Dave Eggers to the new edition, which will come out on Monday. It's a great little piece and it brings back great memories.

I must admit that, like Tollo, it makes me want to reread it, something I still have not done.

Here are my favorite parts:

It’s possible, with most contemporary novels, for an astute reader, if they are wont, to break it down into its parts, to take it apart as one would a car or Ikea shelving unit. That is, let’s say a reader is a sort of mechanic. And let’s say this particular reader-mechanic has worked on lots of books, and after a few hundred contemporary novels, the mechanic feels like he can take apart just about any book and put it back together again. That is, the mechanic recognizes the components of modern fiction, and can say, for example, I’ve seen this part before, so I know why it’s there and what it does. And this one, too—I recognize it. This part connects to this and performs this function. This one usually goes here, and does that. All of this is familiar enough. That’s no knock on the contemporary fiction that is recognizable and breakdown-able. This includes about 98 percent of the fiction we know and love.

But this is not possible with Infinite Jest. This book is like a spaceship with no recognizable components, no rivets or bolts, no entry points, no way to take it apart. It is very shiny, and it has no discernible flaws. If you could somehow smash it into smaller pieces, there would certainly be no way to put it back together again. It simply is. Page by page, line by line, it is probably the strangest, most distinctive, and most involved work of fiction by an American in the last twenty years. At no time while reading Infinite Jest are you are unaware that this is a work of complete obsession, of a stretching of the mind of a young writer to the point of, we assume, near-madness.


There were times, reading a very exhaustive account of a tennis match, say, when I thought, well, okay. I like tennis as much as the next guy, but enough already.


And now, unfortunately, we’re back to the impression that this book is daunting. Which it isn’t, really. It’s long, but there are pleasures everywhere. There is humor everywhere. There is also a very quiet but very sturdy and constant tragic undercurrent that concerns a people who are completely lost, who are lost within their families and lost within their nation, and lost within their time, and who only want some sort of direction or purpose or sense of community or love. Which is, after all and conveniently enough for the end of this introduction, what an author is seeking when he sets out to write a book—any book, but particularly a book like this, a book that gives so much, that required such sacrifice and dedication. Who would do such a thing if not for want of connection and thus of love?

Last thing: In attempting to convince you to buy this book, or check it out of your library, it’s useful to tell you that the author is a normal person. Dave Wallace — and he is commonly known as such — keeps big sloppy dogs and has never dressed them in taffeta or made them wear raincoats. He has complained often about sweating too much when he gives public readings, so much so that he wears a bandana to keep the perspiration from soaking the pages below him. He was once a nationally ranked tennis player, and he cares about good government. He is from the Midwest—east-central Illinois, to be specific, which is an intensely normal part of the country (not far, in fact, from a city, no joke, named Normal). So he is normal, and regular, and ordinary, and this is his extraordinary, and irregular, and not-normal achievement, a thing that will outlast him and you and me, but will help future people understand us — how we felt, how we lived, what we gave to each other and why.


Even more OJ - I gets crazier!

Now it looks like the woman who published OJ's "IF" book did it out of revenge for the abuses committed against her by men in general.

She calls him "killer" in her statement and says she did it for women everywhere who are battered.

How crazy is that? I can't wait to see OJ's reaction! Maybe he'll come out with a statement about how he didn't write the book, but IF he did, he certainly would've done it differently.

Novel Update

Still on the challenge:

It's about the halfway point, which means I should be at 25,000 words, at least. I counted this morning and I'm at approximately 28,000. I say approximately because after actually counting every word (this is all by hand, no computers involved yet—that will be a challenge in itself), I'm going by approximations. Fear not, if anything, I'm cutting myself short, so I know I have at least the amount of words I've counted.

The tough part will be getting through Thanksgiving...going to Michigan and having no time at all for four days will be very tough. But no one said it was going to be easy.


I went out to the Best Buy near my place last night after watching the Bulls game just to see the people camping out. Kind of crazy. It was really cold and those dudes had been there for a while. All to lay down 600 bucks for a video game system that is just going to eat away at their time. Time that could be used for something more writing a book.

But it's easy to get caught up in the hype of these new machines. I'm caught up in the Wii hype, and can't wait to get into Best Buy or Gamestop once the craze is over and try it out. Buy one? No, I don't think so. But at $250 you never know...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More OJ banter

Check this out from this article:

Denise Brown, sister of Nicole Brown Simpson, accused publisher Judith Regan of "promoting the wrongdoing of criminals" and commercializing abuse.

She added: "It's unfortunate that Simpson has decided to awaken a nightmare that we have painfully endured and worked so hard to move beyond."

Regan refused to say what Simpson is being paid for the book, which is being offered for $16.47. She said he came to her with the idea.

"This is an historic case, and I consider this his confession," Regan told The Associated Press.

The publisher is considering this his CONFESSION? What the hell? This keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

School of Stupid - OJ Simpson

Did you hear about this yet? OJ Simpson is coming out with a book called If I Did It, which will recount, in his words, how he would've committed the crime IF he was the one who did it.

Now, who is his adviser on this project? He should be fired immediately. I wonder if this book will serve any insight for those who study liars and how they convince themselves that a lie is actually the truth.

Anyway, stupid stupid stupid.

Damon update

Saw an old post on the old blog about the Damon move by the Yankees. Here's what I predicted:

First, look at what Damon said about it:

Damon said Boston did not attempt to match New York's offer.

"A good leadoff hitter is tough to find, and I think that New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game," he told WBZ.

Which is a stretch. Quite a stretch. It's obvious to me that his agent, Scott Boras, has been pumping him full of bullshit (the way he does to all his clients), getting him to believe all the junk in his little notebooks he passes out about his free agents.

Best leadoff hitter in the game? I'll take Juan Pierre, I'll take Furcal, I'll take Luis Castillo even, Podsednik, the list goes on.

He was a much better leadoff man in Kansas City. Which brings me to my other point: Boston and New York, at least in terms of baseball, are so out of touch with reality it's scary.

Damon will be making around the same amount Paul Konerko will make.

He hit 10 homeruns last season. Stole 18 bags. He throws like a girl. He walked fewer times than he has in 8 years.

Sure he hit .316 and scored 117 runs. But he had Manny and Ortiz behind him.

My prediction?

He hits .290, 12HRs, steals 15 bags, scores over 100 runs, and the Yankees try to trade him away in a couple of years.

It's the same old story all over again.

So how did I do? Not too bad:

Prediction Reality
.290 .285
12HR 24HR
15SB 25SB
100+R 115R

Not bad, but I clearly missed the boat on the homeruns. Will he be traded before his contract is over? Tough to say, he's built up quite a following and in a lesser Bernie Williams kind of way he may just stick around for the whole contract.

Evil Empire Jr

This article over at Yahoo Sports brings up the idea that the Red Sox, with their crazy spending and erratic moves (see Edgar Renteria and the recent Matzuzaka bid), are the next Yankees.

Ummm, see this post from a almost a year ago, where I suggested the very thing. I also added to that, though it's not on that post for some reason, that the Cubs were fast becoming the new Red Sox - big spenders that weren't winning and who were slowly inching towards Yankee status.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Funny Names

Now, you may not know this but Latin baseball players (especially Cubans) are known for having some very creative (i.e. wacked out) names. Here is my most recent favorite:

Esmailyn Gonzalez

Now, I don't know the story of how he got his name, but I can't help but smile and chuckle at the possibility that he was named due to someone smiling a lot. Maybe it was him as a baby or maybe it was his father or grandfather. But I am POSITIVE that's where it came from. You see, if you ask someone from Latin America who doesn't speak English to say the work "Smile" or the word "smiling" this is what it will sound like:


I say Es-my-ling = Esmailyn

It'sa Borat! I like!

I haven't seen the movie, but I can't wait to, especially with the blowback that the movie is getting. First the college guys (who cares), but now it's the poor people that were "humiliated" and were paid almost nothing to be in what is now such a lucrative movie for Cohen. Now, word is he got punched in the face for in the streets of New York recently.

What I can't wait to see is how he reacts to all this. Not Borat, but Cohen. Or if he reacts at all. So far he's maintained the Borat reality by showing up at the premier and doing all the press stuff in character. But will he issue the standard Hollywood apology to the poor peasants as Borat or as Cohen? Does it matter?

I'm curious to see how he plays this off.

Monday, November 13, 2006

OLGA.NET off line??!!


This is really a shame. I just noticed it today, but I guess it's been down for a few months. I read the first page of the letter the lawyers sent and it's bullshit. This is going to be the new Napster crusade? Don't they have that battle to fight? There is no way they will ever keep people from posting tabs of songs they want to play on the guitar.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Starbucks = Pay it Forward

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

You know it's bad when...

Mark Redman of the Kansas City Royals is your "Pitcher of the Year."

As his manager put it:

“He had to be the guy,” manager Buddy Bell said. “He was our All-Star, and he was consistent. With Red, you always knew what you were going to get.

Oh knew all right, you knew he was going to SUCK.

He was also their all star representative over Gold Glove winner Mark Grudzielanek. Check out his numbers:

167.0IP 202H, 5.71 ERA 63K, 76BB And hitters hit .307 off of him.

Usually guys that are this bad cling to the fact that they were out there all season long and ate up some innings, but he didn't even throw 180! What's worse is that the article goes on to discuss his plans for the future. Since he's a free agent he can sign with whoever is less stupid.

Redman won six straight decisions after returning from leave, which led to his selection by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen as the Royals’ only representative on the American League All-Star team.

“I wasn’t expecting anything,” Redman said, “but I had a good stretch there in June and I guess Ozzie needed another pitcher.”

The link to his numbers shows his splits, and, sure enough, he had his best month (and his ONLY good month) in June:

33.2IP, 33H, 14BB, 8Ks and they hit .268 off him for an ERA of 3.74. After that, his best ERA for a month was 5.50.

This just shows you how ridiculous baseball can get when a guy like this got TWO awards in a season when he deserved to go to the minor leagues.

Even worse is the contract he'll get this off season. I have no idea why, since he's only thrown 200 innings once in his life.

Oh and, if you didn't already guess it, the guy is lefthanded.

Dream Job

Here is a nice little article about going after your dream job.

The Real OC

Laguna Beach, this reality show about rich high-school kids that has absolutely nothing to do with reality, is getting railed by some parents in the community, according to this article in the New York Times.

They are angry that the show is giving people "the wrong idea" about their beautiful, wealthy, upscale town since all the kids are depicted as shallow people with deep pockets. That MTV has "hijacked" their town. Ridiculous.

As usual, my first response is, where are the parents? Not these parents, but the parents of the kids on the show? As usual, they are nowhere to be seen. I've watched the show and they are never there, never around. Granted it's edited, but the parents are NEVER there.

The best response comes from MTV itself:

A spokeswoman for MTV, Marnie Black, said the parents’ concerns were news to her. She suggested that just a handful of residents disliked the show and that it had been a boon to local businesses.

“This show is about seven kids whose parents consented to their involvement and who themselves consented,” Ms. Black said. “We never represented this show as depicting the town of Laguna Beach.”

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

How the elections are like Halloween

I talked to my friend Alejandro last night and he got me all guilt-tripped about not voting. I had just not given it the importance that it merits, and now I feel bad about it, especially after being so full of fervor and annoying people during the last presidential election. So I decided I wouldn't, didn't really give it much thought.

Now it's here, people are all out and about. It's on the news, in the papers, on the street, everywhere. And now I wish I had done my homework so I could vote. It's the same way I felt after ignoring the costume rule for Halloween. Regret.

Oh well.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

National Novel Writing Month Update

So far I've written every single day of the month, at least for an hour and a half. So far I'm probably a little bit behind the pace. I'm at around 5,000 words and the pace is probably 6,000. So I'll need a couple of days of major, not just average production.

But that's the technical side of it. The actual process is really exciting. Knowing that you have such a long-term story up in your head, that you have an idea of where it's going and what will happen, but that surprises keep coming up. It's fun. You get excited to sit down and start writing again. Not only because it's the only way the story will unfold, but because it's you that's putting it all together. This is one of the toughest parts of writing: getting excited about sitting down to do it. But when you have so much that has to happen, you never sit down and think "What am I going to write about?" because you have so much to do.

I wrote an outline on day two and have been sort of following it, but even through today I'll be through part 1, or at least through the introductory part of the novel (novella, whatever). I still need to get out of the US, get my guy into the air (which he's done), and into the other country, where the real meat of it starts. So when you realize that you've written so much and you're only getting started, you get excited. This is something epic. Maybe not to Tolkien or S. King, but to me it's the longest I've ever gone with just one story, one set of characters. Actually, I just double checked that and I'm wrong. I wrote a kind of experimental thing, non fiction, during christmas last year while I was here in chicago, alone, with Mindy on a cruise, and I went 23,000 words in about 5 or 6 days. Which is incredible. But it's non fiction and it isn't very cohesive. Still, this is something else entirely, it feels totally different.

Better get back to it.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Deal or No Deal

I feel like I haven an inside scoop on this show because I read an article on Howie Mandel, the show's host, where he basically calls the contestants greedy idiots for getting lured by the big numbers instead of just taking the otherwise immense amounts of money on the board.

Today a black lady, Anita English, had the best game of the show so far. She ended up taking 313,000 dollars, which is amazing. Her highest offer was above 400,000. So not bad. She had it down to just three cases and the one she had picked was one dollar. So she did well.

But when 360,000 was on the table and turned it down, she gave a glimpse into the mentality these contestants have when they are under the lights and the prospect of being a millionaire are right up there on the big board.

Before turning down 360,000 dollars she justified it by saying "We came with nothing and if we leave with nothing, it's OK."

360,000 is nothing?


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Practical Money Skills Program

This is a great little program out there to teach financial literacy to young people. It's good to see that schools are finally realizing that they need to teach what will become one of the most important, if not the most important, skill in a person's life, no matter what kind of job they have.

It reminds me of reading Kiyosaki's book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad and how he bemoans the fact that this stuff is never taught to us, not even at the college level.

Really practical, useful stuff like that is rarely taught, you have to come around to it on your own.