Dec 31, 2012


Took in an early Saturday film this past weekend. Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. I loved it, just as I have loved every QT film so far. Yeah, even Death Proof. Imagine, if you will, a revenge flick even more violent and more bloody than Inglourious Basterds. That's what this film was. I only had one small issue with the film.

And it's not the issue that many of you might assume. The big controversy that has arisen from the release of this film has been the subject matter and the language used by the characters. I can understand the controversy, to a point. A not-so-serious film about slavery and racism and all that goes with it is difficult to pull off. I happen to think that he did it, and I came at the movie from a place where I understood that it was all in the name of entertainment. But the plain and simple fact is that others will NOT be able to watch the movie from that angle. Because there is no way that they can find themselves willing to trivialize subjects like slavery or racism. By the way, I don't believe QT trivialized those subjects with this film. It was very, very clear who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. And, spoiler alert, the bad guys get theirs. And no decent person is going to be anything but exhilarated that they did.

Even though I don't believe he trivialized anything, I can still see how some people might not see it that way. And that's fine. QT films aren't for everyone. He is a bold, in-your-face filmmaker who makes no apologies for his films or the language that he chooses to use. If I were African-American, I might be offended by this film. I might not be offended. Difficult for ME to know. Just as Inglourious Basterds may have been difficult for WWII veterans or Jews. Maybe if it was a revenge flick about something oppresive from my background as an Irish-American. Like the Catholic Church. I kid....kinda.

Anyway, that's a long way to go to say that the film isn't without its' controversies. And it's certainly not for everyone. But I enjoyed it. Mostly. As with all QT ensemble pieces, he got some extraordinary work out of his supporting players. I even hesitate to call Christoph Waltz or Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson supporting players in this film. Each one of them absolutely dominated the screen every time they appeared. Which kind of dulled the shine on the real star of the film, Jamie Foxx as Django himself. I think he did a yeoman's job, and he seems like a class act. But he often seemed like the straight man playing opposite the either wildly comedic or charismatic supporting team. He just didn't dominate the film in the way that, say, Uma Thurman did in Kill Bill. And that was my only real problem with the film. But it was fairly minor.

I'd say if you enjoy QT's films, then go check it out. If he or the subject matter of this particular film aren't your preferred brand of tequila...then skip it.

PS - Happy New Year, bitches!

Dec 28, 2012

Earning Her Roots

Hey kids!

Long time, no blog, amirite? It's the holidays and I suck at life so there are excuses (or none). I plan on getting back to a regular blog schedule starting in January. Yeah, right! We'll I said I was planning on it, not that I'm actually going to do it.

But until that time, lemme give a shout-out to my talented and lovely sister-in-law on her new blog that she just started today. It's called Earning Our Roots, and it's a project that I'm personally very excited about. She and her family moved down to Charleston, SC a few years ago, and they have fallen in love with the regional cuisine down there. You can read her story about it on the first blog post here.

The project is this: She has her talented mitts on Nathalie Dupree's latest cookbook, Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking, and her plan is to attempt all 760 recipes in the next year starting on January 1st. And she will attempt to chronicle that journey on her blog. Not in a trying to get famous/Julie Powell kind of way. Just something for herself, her family and their community that they have grown to love. And to give some of that love the form of delicious food!

So join her on this journey, if you are interested, and let her know how she is doing along the way. She's a blog newbie so I'm going to give her all the assistance and encouragement that I have to offer. Should be a fun ride. 


Dec 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I decided, with the assistance of my Gia and my water-logged buddy, that this is going  to be my annual Christmas post.  Such a great song.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl doing Fairytale of New York.  Have a great one everyone!

H/T Savannah Marsh Mama

Dec 19, 2012

Make this. Eat this.

Trying to be a bit more health savvy lately. Sometimes that means cutting back on the fats, cutting back on the calories, cutting back on the processed crap. But I've been missing pasta a whole freakin' bunch lately. And in that vein, I found the following recipe while watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen. It's a version of Pasta Primavera that uses no cream at all, and I have to tell's one of the most favorite meals I've ever prepared. So easy too.  The original recipe is behind a membership wall, but I changed it anyway. I'll paraphrase it here.

Spring Vegetable Pasta Recipe

  • 3 leeks - washed and halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Split between dark and light parts.
  • 1 pound asparagus - washed and split 1/2 between the spear and the rest. The spear halves can be cut into 1/2 inch pieces cut on a bias. The ass ends can be chopped roughly however you want.
  • 2 cups frozen peas - thawed.
  • 4 cloves of garlic - minced or pressed.
  • 4 cups no-sodium added vegetable broth.
  • 2 cups water.
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon zest.
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
  • 4 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used oregano and chives, but feel free to play).
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.
  • 1 cup dry white wine.
  • 1 oz grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 1 lb dry farfalle/bow-tie pasta (or something similar...I used mini-farfalle).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

 - Place the dark green leek trimmings, ass half of asparagus trimmings, 1 cup of the peas, 3 minced clove of garlic, vegetable broth and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over high heat then reduce to medium-low and continue to simmer for around 10 minutes. Strain broth through a fine mesh and extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and return broth to saucepan. If you don't have 5 cups of broth, add some water until you do.

 - Combine your herbs and lemon zest in a small bowl and set aside.

 - Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the rest of the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, stirring often until leeks have cooked down a bit and browned. About five minutes. Add the asparagus tips and cook, stirring often, for about four minutes.  Add the herbs, lemon zest and remaining clove of minced garlic and stir vigorously until aromatic, about a minute. Add the rest of the peas and cook for another minute. Then transfer all vegetables to a plate or bowl and set aside.

 - Heat the remaining 4 tbsp of oil in the Dutch oven after carefully wiping clean with a paper towel. When oil is shimmering, add the dry pasta. I know...right? Cook over medium-high heat for about five minutes stirring frequently until the pasta starts to brown. Add the wine and cook down for about two minutes, until the pasta absorbs the wine.

 - Add the hot broth...all five cups of it. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is al dente. Around eight minutes or so.

 - Remove pot or Dutch oven from heat and add lemon juice, Parmesan and vegetables. Stir and season with salt and pepper to taste.

 - Sprinkle a bit more grated Parmesan on each serving as you plate it. 


So you are basically cooking the dry pasta almost like a risotto. Amazing! I had never tried anything like this before, but it worked out incredibly.

The starch from the pasta should thicken the broth to a light sauce, as will the addition of the Parmesan cheese. The flavors that arose from the fresh vegetables and boosted veggie broth was amazing. Nutty and fresh and delicious. You can use either vegetable or whole wheat pasta, if you prefer. The version I made came out to about 8 servings at 350 calories per serving or so. Of course, we eat more than the recommended 1 serving, but it probably wasn't more than 500-550 servings based on our larger portion. So I was fine with going with the regular pasta. Gia recommended I use some sun-dried tomatoes next time, and I think that would be a fine addition. Maybe some pine nuts as well.

Guys...this sounds too healthy, but it was really, really, really freakin' good.

Do it to it.

Dec 15, 2012



I swear. Huge.

Right fucking sad.

Dec 5, 2012

Humpday Music Picks

I can't stand the term "Humpday", by the way. I use it here against all of my better judgment. I also always want to put an "e" after the "g" in judgment. I'll never get over the fact that there isn't one there.


Anyway, Gia and I had a conversation about rock stars the other day, and the current lack thereof. I mean, in the Legends category we have a bunch of them. But does anyone really consider Mick Jagger to be a rock star anymore? Eric Clapton? Pete Townshend?  Hell, even Bono?

But we agreed on two current rock stars. Dave Grohl (although Gia fought with me on that one) and Jack White. Especially Jack White. Everything that the guy does is just spot-on. And he has somehow turned his unique looks and talents into an iconic thing. He's an absolute rock star in every sense of the term.

Have a listen to "I'm Shakin'" from his Blunderbuss album:

Now that's a song that I can't imagine anyone who has ever loved Rock & Roll not loving as well. And it seems as if he cranks out product like this so effortlessly. Amazing. Fucking rock star.

And one more tune for you. And from a band who reminds me a bit of The White Stripes with a lead singer who stylistically reminds me a bit of Jack White. Wolfmother with "Joker and the Thief" from their 2005 titular debut album. Hehehehe...titular. Enjoy!

Dec 3, 2012

2013 Hall of Fame Ballot

Note: This post is details the content from our latest episode of Just Talking to the Cornfield. It's about baseball and it's really, really fucking long. Continue on at the risk of your own sanity. You have been warned.

The 2013 ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame was released last week. I, of course, don't have a vote. Neither does my esteemed colleague, the Colonel. But that ain't gonna stop us from shoving our two cents into the debate of who goes in (or should) and who doesn't. This is a very, VERY interesting year for the Hall of Fame vote. There are some incredibly interesting holdovers from previous years and the new crop of retired players who are eligible for the first time is amazing. Here is the list:

Player                     Years on Ballot            2012 % of Ballots
Jack Morris                   14th                                66.7%
Jeff Bagwell                     3rd                                56.0%
Lee Smith                      11th                                 50.6%
Tim Raines                      6th                                 48.7%
Alan Trammell                12th                                36.8%
Edgar Martinez                4th                                 36.5%
Fred McGriff                   4th                                 23.9%
Larry Walker                   3rd                                 22.9%
Mark McGwire               7th                                 19.5%
Don Mattingly                13th                                 17.8%
Dale Murphy                  15th                                 14.5%
Rafael Palmeiro               3rd                                  12.6%
Bernie Williams                2nd                                  9.6%
Barry Bonds                    1st
Roger Clemens                1st
Mike Piazza                     1st
Curt Schilling                   1st
Kenny Lofton                  1st
Craig Biggio                    1st
Sammy Sosa                   1st
David Wells                     1st
Steve Finley                     1st
Julio Franco                     1st
Reggie Sanders                1st
Shawn Green                   1st
Jeff Cirillo                        1st
Woody Williams               1st
Rondell White                  1st
Ryan Klesko                    1st
Aaron Sele                       1st
Roberto Hernandez          1st
Royce Clayton                  1st
Jeff Coninie                       1st
Mike Stanton                    1st
Sandy Alomar                   1st
Jose Mesa                         1st
Todd Walker                     1st

Let's begin with a little primer on the voting, the ballot and the rules. The members of the Baseball Writer's Association of America (BBWAA) are authorized to vote on recently retired players. To be eligible, players had to have played in at least 10 major league seasons after a 5-year waiting period subsequent to their last year. BBWAA members can vote for up to 10 players on their ballot with the results being reported this coming January. If a player is mentioned on 75% of the ballots, he will be inducted into Cooperstown. If a player is mentioned on at least 5% of the ballots, he will be included on next year's ballot. A player falls off the ballot if he receives less than 5% recognition or after 15 years on the ballot. For example, this will be Dale Murphy's last year on the ballot regardless of how well he does in the vote.

Here's the interesting thing about the voting. It's EXTREMELY subjective. According to the rules, well...let's just see what they say.

Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

That's what voters are asked to judge. Record, playing ability and their contributions to the teams(s) on which the player played are all fairly easy to judge. Especially for players who have recently retired. We have all kinds of statistic websites to review their careers along those paths. But integrity, sportsmanship and character? Besides the fact that all three things roughly mean the same thing, those can be pretty hard to judge. Which leads us to our first topic of conversation on the subject.

Cheating, PEDs and the Hall of Fame
Because this is the first Hall of Fame ballot to include such a wealth of players who have either admitted to using Performance Enhancing Drugs or have been (fairly or unfairly) associated with their use, the topic of cheating is at the forefront of this year's vote. More so than it ever has in the past. To be sure, there were cheaters on previous ballots. To be sure, there ARE cheaters already in the Hall of Fame. Legend has it that Babe Ruth used a corked bat at times. Gaylord Perry made a career out of the use and/or the threat of using the spitball. Don Sutton and Whitey Ford both admitted to doctoring balls later in their careers. Not to mention the many, many, many players who gobbled "greenies" like popcorn during their careers. The thing with cheating and baseball, as Joe Posnanski recently pointed out, is that cheating has always been a part of baseball. And, until recently, it has always been kind of a cherished part of baseball.

But now, in the waning dusk hours of the Steroid Era, cheating is suddenly frowned upon. Nevermind that baseball all but encouraged the use of steroids and other PEDs. Sure, they called it "illegal", but they didn't begin testing for their use until 2004. In the wake of the 1994 Player's Strike, baseball needed something like the Summer of 1998 to bring the fans back. Everyone marveled at the distance and frequency of the home runs hit that summer by Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and the rest of the league. And we all saw how big these guys had become. It wasn't until after that year that we began to question the ethics behind their feats. But make no mistake, baseball wasn't interested in punishing these players at that time. It took nearly a decade of juiced players and broken sacred records for them to get involved in fixing the situation. Clearly a reactive rather than proactive movie on MLB's part.

So the question, in many voters minds this year, is whether or not it is fair to punish these cheaters and suspected cheaters by denying them induction to the Hall of Fame. There will be some voters who will refuse to vote for ANY player who played during the Steroid Era. Guilty by association, they will say. Or they might give a blanket explanation that they can't be sure who cheated and who didn't during that era, so they can't reasonably vote for anyone. Again, regardless of the fact that many of these guys voted for players who cheated in the past. Back when it was acceptable.

And while we are on the subject of integrity, sportsmanship and character, here's something else that bothers me. The "Good Guy" vote. Maybe a player who doesn't quite have the statistics to get into the Hall of Fame, but he was a good guy and well respected by the rest of the league and the media. Most of those inclusions in the Hall have come from the Veteran's Committee. But I'll outline another famous example and how it sometimes can come back to bite the BBWAA in the ass.

                   PA     Runs    Hits    HR   RBI     BA   OBP  SLG  rWAR
Player A    7,772   1,007   2,153  222   1,099  .307   .358   .471    39.8
Player B    7,831   1,071   2,304  207   1,085  .318   .360   .477    48.2

Both players had roughly the same counting stats over injury-shortened careers. Player B had a few more hits resulting in a bit higher batting average, but these two players have nearly identical "classic" baseball numbers. That last number is something called WAR or Wins Above Replacement. It's one way of determining how many wins better than a replacement level player. Think of a career 4th outfielder type or the so-called AAAA player, a player who excels at the AAA level in the minors but fails to produce in the majors. It's adjusted for era, park effects, position, baserunning and defense. Player B played a premium defensive position (although he was not considered to be an excellent defender) while Player A did not (although he was considered to be an excellent defender). But Player B's injury that shortened his career was more sudden and his peak lasted a bit longer than Player A. Plus he was a "good guy", so he was voted into the Hall of Fame on his very first ballot while Player A has lingered near the bottom of the ballot for 13 years.

Player A, of course, is Don Mattingly. Player B is Kirby Puckett. Now I don't believe that either of these guys belongs in the Hall. I think the breadth of their careers each falls short of the kind of numbers I like to see for members of the Hall of Fame. And injuries certainly had a lot to do with that. There are exceptions to the rule when it comes to career numbers. No one argues about Sandy Koufax being in the Hall even though he "only" has 165 career wins. But his peak was SOOOO incredible and he left the game on top due to an arthritic condition in his throwing arm. But Kirby Puckett was no Sandy Koufax. He was a great player and a joy to watch. And the media loved him. So not a lot of eyebrows were raised when he was voted in on his first ballot. We later found out that Puckett might not have been such a "good  guy" after all. Marital affairs, charges of false imprisonment, criminal sexual conduct and assault began to erode his cherished public image. He died at the age of 45 from a stroke after taking himself out of the public eye.

That was a long way to go to make a point, but basically it's this. Basing your vote on the integrity or lack thereof of a player is slippery slope. Maybe everyone who voted for Puckett still believes that he was and is a Hall of Famer. But the statistics just don't prove it for him. It was that intangible element that put him into Cooperstown.

Now we have the PED arguments. And one of the major issues is that much of it is speculative. Jeff Bagwell, an immense talent who put of easily defended Hall of Fame numbers, is now in his third year on the ballot. In the past, a player with his numbers would have been a first ballot lock. But because he played in the Steroid Era and because he had a muscle-bound physique, there are voters who are are lumping him in with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens (we'll get to them later on) even though he was never mentioned in any report that ever linked him to steroids. He is being punished purely on speculation. Did he use steroids? We have no idea what the answer is to that. He has denied it, but so have most athletes who later test positive or come clean with an admission. But nearly half of the BBWAA voters left him off their ballots last year anyway.

And now we have Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa on the ballot for the first time. The first wave of all-time talents that have been linked to PEDs in one way or another. Bonds in the book Game of Shadows. Clemens in his 300 or so court appearances defending is name. Piazza has Murray Chass and back acne. And Sosa famously forgot how to speak English in front of Congress. They all have varying degrees of evidence against them for PED use. As does Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. What do we do with these guys now?

I say we vote them in. At least the ones who have the numbers for it. The Hall of Fame vote shouldn't be a morality play. And it shouldn't be up to the voters to punish players for something that the league itself couldn't and wouldn't do. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe sums this up perfectly here. And I totally agree with him. Judge the players on what they did on the field. Don't totally discount their PED use is something I believe as well. Especially if they tested positive after MLB instituted drug testing. Such is the case of Rafael Palmeiro. Although he amassed 3,000+ hits and 500+ home runs, both were yardsticks by which automatic induction used to be measured, he was a borderline candidate for me. Mostly because his statistics were generated in an era of inflated offense. That is something we can consider. But throw in his positive test in 2004 and he becomes a clear no vote. For me, at least.

So that's my thinking. Take a look at each case separately. Judge the players by their statistics and on-field accomplishments. Don't totally ignore the PED situation, but don't judge them solely by it either. That's what I'm going to try to do here. Let's give it a whirl.

My Ballot
1. Barry Bonds. The all-time leader in so many categories, most notably home runs. I saw most notably because it was after his alleged use of PEDs around 1999 that he became a human wrecking crew with hitting the ball out of the park. But he was an all-time great prior to 1999 as well. He was 33 at that point and he had already amassed 411 HR and 445 stolen bases. The only player in history with 400+ of each. And he had already won three league MVP awards. He would go on to win 4 more after his alleged use of PEDs began, and he went from an all-time great to a legend.. His career war of 158.1 is the third highest total ever. But 96.9 of it was earned prior to 1999. At that point, I was sure he was already a first-ballot Hall of Fame guy. His PED years are just icing on the cake. The Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds isn't worthy of the name.  It make take some time for voters to "forgive" Bonds, but he will eventually get in. He should get in this year, but he won't.

2. Roger Clemens. I can make almost exactly the same argument for Clemens. His PED usage began around the same age as Bonds when he was 33 prior to his tenure in Toronto. But before that? Well, he was fucking great! Three Cy Young Awards and close to 200 wins. Led the league in ERA four times and in ERA+ (ERA adjusted to the league) five times. And he amassed 2,590 strikeouts in that time. For a bit of reference, that total would now be good for 25th on the all-time list. Of course, he would finish with a lot more. 4,672 in total. The 3rd most in history after Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. And he would win four more Cy Young Awards. Yeah, Roger Clemens is in the conversation for the greatest pitcher of all-time. His numbers are massively amazing. And he much of his success in his later years occurred during the higher offensive environment of the Steroid Era. So there's that. He may be just as disliked as Bonds in the media, but that shouldn't matter. Roger Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame.

3. Jeff Bagwell. His third year on the ballot, and it may take him a few more years to make it. But, as I stated above, he never tested positive or had any allegation of PED use during his career. All he did was bat .297 with a .408 OBP and a .540 SLG. That's amazing. Plus he was a premium defender at first base and he ran the bases awfully well to boot with 202 career stolen bases. Sure, he didn't reach the magical milestones of 500 HR or 3,000 hits. But according to WAR, his total of 76.7 is fourth best all-time for first basemen. Behind guys named Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Albert Pujols. And his total is ahead of guys named Johnny Mize, Eddie Murray and Willie McCovey. All Hall of Famers. Yeah, I think the Hall of Fame is big enough to include the 4th greatest first baseman of all-time. He should have been inducted in 2011.

4. Mike Piazza. They guy was supposedly atrocious on defense. I saw him play a lot, and I would have to agree with that assumption. Yet his teams finished in the top third in league ERA most every year that he played. Sure, that has a lot to do with the pitchers. But could his defense and game-calling really have hurt his teams that much? And he was simply the greatest hitting catcher of all-time. Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Ivan Rodriguez and Carlton Fisk may have all accumulated more WAR than Piazza, but what Piazza earned he earned with his bat. A slash line of .308/.377/.545? For a freakin' catcher? That's beyond ridiculous. His OPS+ (OBP and SLG adjusted to league average) was 143. The highest ever for a catcher. Yes, higher than Bench, Yogi Berra, Mickey Cochrane and anyone else whomever donned the tools of ignorance. His defense hurts him, yes. But not enough to take away what he accomplished as a hitter.

5. Craig Biggio. Jeff Bagwell's Astros teammate for all those years. He might not be an all-time talent at second base like Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins or Joe Morgan. But he is comfortably in that next group with Charlie Gehringer, Lou Whitaker (more on him in a bit) and Ryne Sandberg. 3,000 hits, nearly 300 HR and over 400 stolen bases. He's got the counting stats for sure. Add that to the fact that he played all over the field, starting as a catcher before moving to second base. Then to the outfield for a few years before moving back to second base. There are a lot of great second basemen in the Hall of Fame. There are a lot of great second basemen who are not in the Hall of Fame (Whitaker, Grich, etc...). I think Craig Biggio's induction might make people appreciate the latter group a bit more.

6. Tim Raines. He is simply the second-greatest leadoff man of all-time after Rickey Henderson. And he is so under-appreciated. He finished his career with the 5th most stolen bases of all-time and although he didn't reach the magic plateau of 3,000 hits, he did get on base more times in his career than Tony Gwynn. And Gwynn was a slam-dunk first ballot Hall of Famer. And Raines was better at some many other things than Gwynn except for batting average. Judging by WAR, Gwynn is the 24th greatest outfielder of all-time. A worthy inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Tim Raines is right above him at 23rd (66.2 vs 65.3). Tim Raines belongs in the Hall of Fame. Period.

7. Curt Schilling. Man, I hate this guy. Hated him as a player, hate him as a business owner and an MLB analyst. Hate his political beliefs. But look at the bones, man! His career WAR total of 76.9 is the 26th best all-time even though he "only" finished his career with 216 victories. His career average of Strikeouts to Base on Balls is 4.383. Besides a guy named Tommy Bond who pitched in the 1870's, that's the best average ever for a pitcher. EVER! There are other metrics to compare players from different eras. Adjusted Pitching Wins, Win Probability Added...things like that. Schilling ranks in the top 20 all-time in most of them. Is he one of the greatest 20 pitchers of all-time? Maybe. He certainly was one of the best post-season peformers of all-time. I didn't appreciate how good he was while he pitched. And there is that damned bloody sock. But he gets my vote. And he should get plenty more from the BBWAA because he was generally considered one of the "clean guys" in the game. Being an outspoken opponent of PEDs while he played probably helped cement that image. I say he's in.

8. Alan Trammel. I mentioned Lou Whitaker above. Whitaker only appeared on 2.9% of the ballots in his only year on the ballot in 2001. Ridiculous, as he is clearly one of the ten best second basemen of all-time. His double-play partner in crime has done a bit better in the voting, but not nearly good enough. For years, I wasn't sure that Trammel belonged in the Hall. But my mind has been changed by various writers and analysts. Trammel is just too good to be left out of the Hall. Especially considering that Barry Larkin, a shortstop with similar career totals, easily just made it in. Trammel is one of those guys that just about everything well. Got on base, hit for a bit of power, ran the bases well, played outstanding defense. But he was always a bit under the radar. Maybe because he played in a down offensive environment. Maybe because his basic numbers don't pop. But he is one of the 10 greatest shortstops of all-time, and (as I keep repeating) surely the Hall is big enough to include someone like him.

9. Larry Walker. Here's where things get mighty interesting. Everyone knows about the Coors Field Effect. In his career, Walker batted .381/.462/.710 at Coors Field. That's...Ruthian! But he also hit pretty much every else. A true five-tool guy early in his career, Walker would hit for average and power, run the bases well and play superb defense in the outfield. Remember me talking about the greatest outfielders of all-time up there with Tim Raines? Well, Walker is 19th all-time for outfielders in WAR. Right around where Reggie Jackson sit. He's another guy who I used to never consider for the Hall. A deeper look at the numbers away from Coors Field have me now in his corner.

10. Kenny Lofton. Wow. I didn't see this coming. And I'm still not 100% convinced of my decision here. But here goes: Lofton, in terms of career WAR ranks 25th all-time for outfielders. And much of that is tied to his 622 career stolen bases which is 15th on the all-time list. And he was considered a superior defender, so that is a part of it too. Let's take a look at just centerfielders for a moment. Here are the greatest CFers by WAR all-time:
  1. Willie Mays 150.8
  2. Ty Cobb 144.9
  3. Tris Speaker 127.8
  4. Mickey Mantle 105.5
  5. Ken Griffey 79.2
  6. Joe DiMaggio 75.1
  7. Kenny Lofton 64.9
  8. Duke Snider 63.1
  9. Carlos Beltran 62.3
  10. Richie Ashburn 60.2
I was shocked to see Lofton at 7th on that list. Now, there is a big dropoff from the immortals at the top of the list down to Lofton. And DiMaggio had a relatively short career. I'm not saying Lofton was as good as Joe D. But was he as good as Duke Snider? Maybe. It took Snider over a decade of ballots to make it into the Hall, but I don't think anyone is complaining that he's in there. And I know WAR isn't the be-all and end-all of stats. But it takes into account all aspects of the game (hitting, defense, base-running) and it is era and park adjusted.  And Kenny Lofton is 7th all-time amongst CFers. That's good enough for me.

Close But No Cigar
There are arguments to be made for a handful of guys that I left off of my ballot. Let's tackle some of them here.

Jack Morris - I simply have never felt that Morris was anything more than a really good pitcher who played for a long time. I know all about Game 7 and his reputation as a big game pitcher. But, for me, a guy like David Wells was just as valuable if not moreso than Jack Morris. He probably gets in this year, and that's a shame. He doesn't belong.

Lee Smith - The all-time leader in Saves at the time of his retirement. Closer, in general, are overrated. And Smith was one of the more overrated closers in the game. Shocking that he garnered over 50% approval in last year's ballot. That number means he will probably eventually get in. Another shame.

Edgar Martinez - I think Edgar Martinez is the greatest DH of all-time. And I was this close to including him on my ballot. But, for now, I think he comes up just short. Maybe because he was such a unique player. I can only think of a handful of guys who DHed for most of their careers. He's the best, and I think he will eventually get in. But he falls just short of my ballot this year.

Mark McGwire - Hit a ton of HR, got on base at an incredible rate and played a bit better defense than he is usually given credit for. All that said, he played in a high offensive era and has admitted to using PEDs. I could look past both of those, but maybe if he had been a little less injury prone in his career he would have had enough numbers for my vote. As it was, he wound up just short. 

Rafael Palmeiro - As I mentioned above, fuck him.

Sammy Sosa - Sosa is an interesting argument.  The only player in MLB history to hit 60+ HR in three seasons, and he finished his career with 609 of them. Both amazing numbers. Using WAR, he's only the 47th best OFer of all-time. So he didn't do much besides hit home runs. And he is a guy who you could clearly see benefited from his alleged PED use. Blew up like a tick on a hound's ass and started jacking HRs all over the place. Before he got big? Yeah, he was a fine player. But not a Hall of Fame guy. And it's pretty damning that he fell off a cliff once testing began. He certainly will go down as one of the great power hitters of all-time. I just don't think he did enough of everything else to get on my ballot. But maybe one day.

Nov 27, 2012

Ain't No Use in Tryng

As in, ain't no use trying to keep this blog from falling into neglect.

Ah...okay. I'll try. Maybe tomorrow. Until then, enjoy this little ditty by Trampled by Turtles.

"Ain't No Use in Trying"
Trampled by Turtles

Well I got years of livin'
By and how I choose
Ain't never been a gambler
'Cause I's always bound to lose
My buddies, they drink liquor
Sometimes I'll go along
I got a girl who don't like that at all

Well, you know I wouldn't fight
If these guys wouldn't shove me
Now I can't go home
'Cause my baby, she don't love me
There ain't no use in tryin' anymore

Well, last week or so

I woke up in a cell
Don't know how I got there
But my head, it hurt like hell
The guard already knew my name
Before I came inside
I got a girl who don't like that at all

Well, you know I wouldn't fight
If these guys wouldn't shove me
Now I can't go home
'Cause my baby, she don't love me
There ain't no use in tryin' anymore

Well, I guess some guy downtown

Come pushin' me around
So I let one loose and left that fella'
Lyin' on the ground
I got a girl who don't like that at all.

Well, you know I wouldn't fight
If these guys wouldn't shove me
Now I can't go home
'Cause my baby, she don't love me
There ain't no use in tryin' anymore
No, there ain't no use in tryin' anymore
There ain't no use in tryin' anymore. 

Nov 21, 2012

The Campbell Apartment

Usually, I take time today to give thanks to all the blog and Twitter weirdos that I follow or who follow me. But I'm not in a list-y mood, so consider yourself thanked. Whomever you are.

I will give some specific thanks to my Gia and our friends who took me out for a raucous time in NYC this past Saturday for my birthday (which was actually this past Sunday). We had a blast!

For a change of pace, we decided to start out the day in and around Grand Central Terminal. Had drinks and oysters at the Oyster Bar (duh!), then found a joint called The Campbell Apartment which has an entrance into Grand Central on Vanderbilt.  The name is a bit of a misnomer. The spot was actually the huge office space of John W. Campbell, a mega-rich financier from back in the day. Here's a shot which shows off the high ceilings, opulence and the giant safe that Campbell kept in the fireplace (to show off his wealth):

The place was massive, and ornately decorated. And the drink menu was fantastic. I had two cocktails there. A bourbon drink with fennel and candied ginger called a Kentucky Ginger, and an odd mixture called The Port of New York. Dark rum, port wine and chilled espresso. Normally it wouldn't be close to my thing, but I was intrigued. And it was fantastic! 

Source: my phone

You can even see the dead remains of my Kentucky Ginger in the background and someone's Prohibition Punch (in the large snifter) in the background. All were tasty as all heck.

The rest of the day progressed lovingly along this booze path. I believe* I was out until the wee hours with one of the crew chasing after live music down in the Village, but it all got a bit fuzzy after dinner at our friends' apartment. Fuzzy in a good way though.

Wonderful day and evening out in the city. Who could ask for anything more? 

*Just kidding. I remember everything. Almost.

Nov 19, 2012

David Lo Pan

I'm normally against posting parody videos of already tiresome pop culture crap like Gangnam Style. But I have to make an exception for this one. Lo Pan Style. Strictly due to my love/obsession with Big Trouble in Little China. A film I just watched the other day for the umpteenth time.

It even includes a cameo by the man himself. David Lo Pan aka James Hong. Still kicking it into his 80's. For a little bit of blog serendipity, our favorite Marsh Mama included a quote from Mr. Hong's Blade Runner character, Hannibal Chew, over at her joint today. Kinda cool, eh?

For anyone who is a fan of BTiLC, you are gonna love this. Lots of fun references.

Everyone else can simply move along.


Nov 16, 2012

Asleep in the Wood

A short film by Joe York and the Southern Foodways Alliance about statesman and bourbon distiller Julian Van Winkle.

Asleep in the Wood from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

Imagine a 23-year business plan. Amazing.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but the 23yr Family Reserve from Pappy Van Winkle is hands-down the best whiskey I've ever had. Gia found a bottle of it for me 2 years ago (it's not easy to find), and I took my time with enjoying it. Only two other humans were allowed to enjoy a glass of the heaven that the bottle contained within. Not because I'm averse to sharing. I'm not. Nothing makes me happier than sharing a bottle I love with a person I love almost as much. It's just that this was a gift for me. A rare gift at that.

I think I'm going to do a little whiskey hunting over the weekend. Try to find some of the younger Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. There are some people out there who believe that 23 years is far too long a time to age a bourbon. That 8-10 years is ideal. Julian Van Winkle mentions this in the video up there, joking that the only people who say that are those who've never tried to age it that long. But I am interested in tasting both the 10 and 15 year varieties.

I'll let you know how I fare.

Nov 15, 2012


A semi-true story.

At the cat ranch in the living room while flipping through the cable channels, we came across a "reality" show called Doomsday Preppers. These are folks who are convinced that a financial or environmental cataclysmic event will happen soon, so they are preparing by building bunkers, hoarding canned/jarred food and bottled water. Stuff like that. This one couple said they work 6-8 hours a day on fortifying their stronghold. And they take personal defense courses. And cooking courses. And time at the shooting range. I have no idea when they actually sleep.  That's when this conversation ensued:

Me (sheepishly): I think, ya know, if I had tons and tons of disposable cash and didn't have to work for a living...I might, ya know, do something like this.

She (incredulously): Do something like what? Build a fallout shelter? Prepare for the apocalypse? Why? Do you think it's gonna happen soon.

Me: No, not really.

She: So why would you do it?

Me: Well, if I had all that time and money on my hands I think I would be bored. I'd need a hobby. That seems like a decent one.

She: Really?

Me: Yeah, you know...just in case.

She: A hobby, eh? Why wouldn't you just go do some work for a charity or something? If you had all that time and money on your hands, I mean.

Me: Oh, man...full-tiime charity work? That's sounds exhausting.

I'm a jackass, apparently.

Nov 14, 2012

Thai Ginger Beef Stir Fry

Trying out some new things in the kitchen here at the cat ranch. This one was super easy and healthy to boot. Came out spicy and aromatic and tangy. Just the way we like it. Used mostly this recipe here, but I jazzed it a bit. As I do. Check it:

Thai Ginger Beef Stir Fry

  • 1 lb thinly sliced sirloin cut into bite-sized strips
  • 1/3 cup beef broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1 cup julienned string beans
  • 4 green onions - bias-sliced in 1 inch lengths
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 cups cooked jasmine rice
 - In a bowl mix the broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime, garlic chili sauce, corn starch, sugar and grated ginger. Set aside.

 - Lightly coat a skillet or wok with the cooking spray and then pre-heat over medium high heat. Add the broccoli, string beans and green onions. Toss and cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions have gotten a bit crispy and the veggies are nice and tender. Remove veggies from skillet and set aside.

 - Return the skillet to the burner (medium-high heat) and add the cooking oil. Add the beef strips and stir-fry until cooked/browned. Give the liquid mixture you set aside a bit earlier a quick mix and then add to the skillet. Toss until all the beef is coated and the sauce begins to bubble and thicken.  Add the cooked veggies you had set aside and make sure everything is coated with the sauce and heat through.

 - Serve over jasmine rice.

From beginning to end, this took me about 15 minutes. Sooooo simple. Sooooo tasty. And did I mention kinda healthy?  We tend to use a bit more citrus and maybe a bit more heat in our recipes, so feel free to only use the juice of 1/2 a lime or reduce the amount of garlic chili sauce.  And we like a lot of fresh ginger, so we used quite a bit more than the original recipe stated. But a recipe is just a basic guideline. Fly your freak flag and adjust it accordingly.

Bon appetit!

Nov 12, 2012

Skyline Chili

So, apparently, there is this chain of chili take-out restaurants based in Ohio called Skyline Chili. I've never visited one nor tried their product. But there seems to be some kind of deep love bordering on obsession for those chili aficionados who feel that their chili is the best chili out there. Again...I've got no opinion on that. Having never had it.

But I had a a "copy cat" recipe (see examples here or here) for Skyline chili passed on to me over the weekend, and I decided to give it a try. It's a meat-heavy based chili. Not a lot in there in terms of vegetables, so it's very different from my own chili recipe. But it's a real interesting chili. I think that it can be used more as a sauce or a topping, but it tasted pretty damned good in the bowl itself as well. It's also a really easy recipe that is requires very little prep work, and it cooks up much faster than other chili's I've made in the past. So here goes:

Copycat Skyline Chili

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef - I used 93/7
  • 1 large yellow onion - diced
  • 2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce - I used Hunts
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 cloves garlic - crushed and diced fine
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 pinch (about 1/2 tsp) cinnamon powder
  • 1 pinch red cayenne pepper powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste - you won't need much salt
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
 - Add the ground beef and diced onion to a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until the meat is browned. Drain off excess liquid and add the brown mixture to a stock pot.

 - Add the rest of the ingredients (tomato sauce, broth, garlic, chili powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and vinegar) and bring to a quick boil.  Reduce heat to low and saute uncovered for an hour and a half.

That's it. Easy peasy you know the drill.  It really couldn't be easier. We served it over some rice with some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, tortilla chips and some home-made guacamole. The cinnamon, vinegar and Worcestershire lent it a truly unique flavor. I've never tasted a chili that tasted quite like this.

I don't think it quite surpassed my own personal chili recipe, but it was damned tasty. And Gia loved it, and that's what matters the most.


Nov 7, 2012

Day 10a: The Siege is Over

The Zombie Apocalypse is over!

We have power!

And heat!

Just in time for the next storm that is hitting tonight. Keep your fingers crossed, peeps.

Day 10: Brought to you by the letter C

I came this close yesterday.

Not as in "this close to getting my power back." I have no idea when that is going to happen. I'm beginning to suspect that the crews out working are now planning on how they are going to restore power to those who are going to lose it with tonight's Nor'easter (big winter storm) rather than hooking up those of us who are still in the dark. What's a few extra days or a week, right?

No, it's "I came this close to losing it yesterday", and all over something stupid. Wanted a little warm food in me last night so I ordered some takeout from a local Greek diner that we love. Here's a little something about how the phone conversation went with the woman who took my order:

She: Greek Diner, can I help you?
Me: Yes, please. I'd like to order some takeout.
She: What do you want? 

Enough with the fucking pleasantries, eh? At this point I noted a bit of a, should I put this...cunty tone to her voice. I've been to this place dozens of time and she didn't sound familiar to me. Maybe they were just real busy. I don't know. I trudged on.

Me: OK, I'd like to start with a pint of your chicken, lemon soup.
She: Sir <long, loud sigh>, we only have one size for soups. 16 ounces. Is that what you want?
Me: Um, sure.

I have to say, I was flummoxed at this point. I know they only serve one size of soup. A pint. Or 16 oz, if you want to break it down. Did she not know that 16 oz equals a pint? Was she just being super cunty? And then the "Is that what you want?" at the end there. Yeah, that's what I want because that's what I fucking ordered before you began to give me a weights and measures lesson. My head was spinning a bit here.

OK, I know you aren't interested in the particulars of what else I ordered, so let's let's skip to the end of the call, shall we?

She: OK, what name should I put it under?
Me: Mike...

At this point, I should say that I never use my last name when placing takeout orders. Why? Because frankly it's a little odd and usually requires some clarification or explanation. So I usually just say "Mike C." leaving my first initial of my last name because Mike is a really fucking common name. But this bitch cut me off or spoke over me as I was saying that.

She: Sir <another long, loud sigh>, Mike is a very common name and we get a lot of those in there. Could you at least give me the first initial of your last name and we'll use that. Okay?

Sounds fair written out like that, but it was her exasperated tone and the fact that she spoke right over me as I was just doing just that. She could have just said "Last initial?" if she was busy and I would have taken it better. But this is the point where I almost lost it. I was literally seeing a red fog in the darkness. People have been so kind and generous throughout this period after the storm. Running into a See You Next Tuesday like this took me by surprise. And pissed me off.

Maybe a second passed before I gave her that initial. It seemed like a lot longer as I weighed my options of what particular I was going to start throwing her way. But, in the end, my better angels won out and I moved on with my life. I didn't even see her at the diner when I picked my food up. Someone else rang me up, someone who I recognized. I had a quick look around to see if I could pick her out, but I just saw the usual suspects.

But I came this close to ending the call with this:

Me: Initial? Howabout C. For CUNT!

Like I said...better angels and what not.

Nov 6, 2012

Day 9: A Cold Election Day

Took a little drive around my town last night. Seems that everyone except my block and the next block over has power back.

I'm beginning to feel a little picked on over here. I'm not sure what the problem is. There are no downed trees or power lines in the area. Yesterday I heard a guy say that he wasn't supposed to get power back for two weeks but he bought some pizzas for a crew of LIPA workers and they asked him where he lived. He had power back a few hours later.

Now I don't know that guy from Adam, but just hearing stories like that chaps my ass. I want to believe that one neighborhood isn't valued over any other when it comes to restoring heat and power. Or that the job can be "bought" by a few pizzas. Especially on a day like today when ideals are so important to so many people.

I half-hardheartedly joked that I wouldn't be voting this year. Not happy with either guy, frankly. But that was all smoke and bluster. I planned on voting all along. Simply because there is one candidate who, I believe, will say anything to get elected even when he Over and over and over and over again. Well, both guys do it. But there is a difference between a liar and BOLD-FACED FUCKING LIAR, at least in my opinion.

I'm sure there are some folk who will read that last paragraph and they will be absolutely sure which guy I'm talking about. I'm sure there are others who will be absolutely sure that it's the other guy I'm talking about. I'll leave that up to you. Along with your vote.

Me? I'd be just as happy voting for whichever dude turns my power and heat back on at this point.

Nov 5, 2012

Day 8: Hope and Despair

Lost power last Monday in the afternoon, so I consider this to be Day 8 without power and heat.

Had a fraction of Hope last night as I was coming back from picking up some Chinese food. I was waiting at a light to cross a major road near where we live when I noticed a whole fleet of power company trucks in the parking lot of the motel across the street. And sure enough, the power kicked on for that motel and then headed north all along the west side of the harbor that we live on.

So I rushed home, embracing the warmth of street lights in our neighborhood for the first time since the storm. As I turned to make my way across the bridge, my heart sank. That's where the power stopped. I live on the east side of the harbor and we are still in a black hole. Turns out it was only the barest minimum corridor of power that ran along the other side of the water. The rest of the town behind that corridor still looks like a war zone. Downed trees and lines everywhere. We actually fared much better with the trees on our side of the water. But still no power.

So I'm back here...with my good friend Despair.

Oh, I know. So many people have it worse than me. I have hot water and occasional access to the Internet (thanks to an extension cord from a neighbor and his generator). But I'm still bumming, man.

This shit needs to end.

Nov 3, 2012

Day 6: I am now a zombie

Day 6 without power. Well mostly kinda. My neighbor kindly ran an extension cord over from his generator. He runs it for 3-4 hours at a time and then off for 3-4 hours. So while he runs it, we have limited power. Right now I've got the cable modem, wireless router and laptop plugged in. Voila! Internets here at home for the first time since Monday! Hooray!

Seems that LIPA is promising that 95% of those who lost power will have it restored by Monday evening. I'm not buying it. And even if that does happen, I'll probably be one of the 5% who still must wait. We are on the butt end of the world here on the north shore and last year we were among the last to get power back after Hurricane Irene. 

But I have hot water and intermittent borrowed power. So life ain't all bad. 

Ooooh...the gas lines. I HAVE to tell you about the gas lines. They are insane. Absolutely insane. A whisper is heard about a gas station promising to open soon and lines form instantly. I've never seen anything like it. A half-mile long isn't out of the question. That's what I saw this morning.

I lucked out and found a gas station on Thursday and filled up. That was right before the crazy lines began forming. But it also leaves me not wanting to drive anywhere because I don't want to waste the gas. So it's just me here at the cat ranch with the kitties. Not sure if I mentioned it, but Gia went down to visit her family in SC and missed the storm. She was supposed to fly back a few days ago, but we changed her flight. No sense coming home to no power or heat. She is due back on Wednesday now. Hopefully we will be in better shape by then.


Thanks for all the kind words and sympathies.

Nov 1, 2012


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I'm mostly feeling lucky.

We escaped the storm with no damage to home or cars. The storm surge was a huge concern. It was supposed to be anywhere from 8-12 feet above normal at high tide on Monday night. And 12 feet would have meant about 2 feet of water in our living room. So that would have sucked. But he storm moved faster than anticipated and the storm surge was about half of what was feared. So the water wound up a few feet short of reaching our door, but it was touch and go there for a little while. We got lucky.

As close as I am to the water on the north shore here on Long Island, my mother is just as close on the south shore. About 10 feet above sea level, just like we are. The water from the Great South Bay reached the end of her block in one direction and the next street over right behind her was completely flooded because of the creek and marina there. Again, it was touch and go for a while. She got lucky.

Mom got power back on Wednesday afternoon. I'm still without power and internet, so I headed out to her place. Today was the first time I've seen news coverage since Monday afternoon. Lots and lots and lots of folks weren't as lucky as we were. Huge trees down all over. Power lines down. Homes and cars wrecked. Forget abut the shoreline. It will probably never be the same. I've heard tell of new inlets across Fire Island and some of the other barrier beaches here. And if you had a home on one of those islands? Not so lucky.

I hope this post finds you safe and sound if you were affected by this bitch of a storm. I hope you have power and heat and all of your loved ones around you. I hope you were one of the lucky ones.

Oct 22, 2012

Pre-debate fodder: Drone Attacks

I suggested in an earlier post that I was going to stay out of the political arena this Autumn. I'm going to, against my better judgement, go against my own suggestion to point y'all toward an interesting blog post on the current Administration's use of remote-piloted aircraft or drones in attacks on terrorist targets.

It's a topic that doesn't get brought up often enough, in my opinion. It probably won't be a major player in the foreign policy debate tonight either. Mostly because the men in power or the men aspiring to be in power don't want it to be discussed in a national debate. And that, of course, doesn't mean that it shouldn't be.

This hypothetical question brought up for President Obama by the author of the piece is a gem:

To President Obama: Your administration has not just employed targeted killing; it has made the case for targeted killing to the rest of the world. What would you tell the leader of another country who wants to make use not only of technology pioneered by America but also of legal arguments pioneered by America? Do those arguments only count for America, or do they count also for Russia, China, and well, North Korea and Hezbollah?

The question isn't if we have the technology or the ability to make such attacks, it is rather one of whether we have the right to do so or not? And what happens when our enemies develop the same technology of their own? We are the only nation to use nuclear weapons against another nation in wartime. And we have been lionized in other parts of the world for our current stance against developing nuclear programs in nations that don't see eye-to-eye with us on their use or the threat of their use. Will these drone attacks continue or even escalate? Or will they eventually go the way of the atomic bomb? A weapon of war that should be more of a threat than something that is used on a weekly or daily basis?

I don't have a good answer for any of those questions right now. But I'd sure be interested in hearing the President and Governor Romney's thoughts on their use. This Silent War, however, will most likely go unmentioned tonight. Which is exactly what each candidate would prefer. But it's something to think about as they hammer away at each other on the rest of the foreign policy topic.

Oct 18, 2012

Evil Night Together

Keeping with the October horror theme. Well, not really horror. More of a pulp-fiction, film noir-ish kinda thing. Ah, who the hell cares. It's good, okay? Jill Tracy from 1999's "Diabolical Streak".


Evil Night Together 
Jill Tracy

I'll hold your hand while they drag the river
I'll cuddle you in the undertow
I'll keep my hand on your trigger finger
I'll take you down where the train tracks go

Let's wile away the hours
Let's spend an evil night together

We'll drink a toast in the torture chamber
And you'll go down on a bed of nails
We'll rendezvous in cold blood
I'll tie you up to the third rail

Let's wile away the hours
Let's spend an evil night together

Who's gonna make you a hero
Who's gonna blow you away
Who's gonna make you a hero
Hold it right there

It's a multiple down in solitary
And you'll uncover the evidence
Shanghaied by a fishnet stocking
I'll hold you close while they dust for prints

Let's wile away the hours
Let's spend an evil night together

No need for cake or flowers
Let's spend an evil night together

Oct 17, 2012

Quick Flick Reviews - Vol I

This is probably what I'm going to be about for the rest of the month. It's October and that means horror flicks for me. I've been trying and I will be attempting to watch at least one horror flick each night for the rest of the month. So you don't have to. Or something like that. And every few days, I'll entertain you with the results in the form of a quick, one-paragraph review. That should be fun, right? Anyway...

Insidious (2010) - I've had this bad boy on my Netflix Instant queue for a long while now. A bunch of people had recommended it to me as well, but I just hadn't had the urge to sit down and watch it for a long time. I'm glad I finally did. This was a taut, well-made and unique thriller that was a bit different than your run-of-the-mill demonic possession story. In fact, it wasn't a demonic possession story at all. Er, not really. Had more to do with a child who has the ability to astral project and what happens when he gets "lost" in that astral world. Some neat references to Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" in there, for us comic-book geeks. I'd love to see a sequel or companion film that shows the events of the film from the boy's perspective in the astral world.  
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Grey (2011) - Only by the broadest of definitions can this one be called a horror flick. It's really more of an action film with some horror elements. Survivors of a plane crash in the Arctic are pursued by a pack of hungry and cunning wolves. Yeah...that would be pretty horrible. To be honest, I only watched this because the trailer was hilarious. Liam Neeson seemingly fighting off a pack of wolves with his hands. How could I pass up that kind of fun? But it was actually a much more interesting film than I thought it was gonna be. And while it wasn't a classic horror film, it had enough horrifying and gory moments to keep my attention. Not really great, but not nearly as awful as it could have been.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Innkeepers (2011) - Writer/director Ti West's follow-up to 2009's very interesting The House of the Devil. West seems to be a fan of the slow-burn, low-action horror films of the 1970's. Because that's exactly what these two films reminded me of. This one has two hotel clerks working the last weekend of business of a historic and haunted inn in Connecticut trying to capture evidence of paranormal activity for a website that one of them has started. Trying to cash in on the fad, so to speak. One of them gets a bit more than they bargained for as shit starts to get real. Or does it? I'm a big fan of movies like this that end up on an ambiguous note. Like I said, not a lot happens (although there are probably too many silly jump scares) but it's a fun ride nonetheless.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Apollo 18 (2011) - Everyone knows that there were only 17 Apollo missions. What this film pre-supposes is, maybe there wasn't. As in there was an 18th. And, using the found-footage gimmick, this film shows why that 18th mission was initially kept a secret and why we haven't been back to the moon ever since. It should have been a fun little horror flick that preyed up all kinds of lunar conspiracy theories, but it really just fell flat on it's man-in-the-moon face. I think it was the found-footage gimmick that really bothered me. I'm getting kinda tired of it, to be honest. This one might have worked better straight-up. We'll never know.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Update: Two quick pumpkin ale reviews for you as well. On Monday night, I tried two more pumpkin ales at a beer joint in Smithtown called The Tap and Barrel. Excellent craft beer bar with 52 awesome beers on tap. The first was New Holland's Ichabod Ale. Coming in at 5.5% ABV, it didn't have too much of a kick. Not nearly as much as some imperials out there, but enough that you could taste the alcohol. Lots of pumpkin pie spice nose and flavor, but not so much that it didn't taste like an actual beer, ya know? Definitely one that I would want to drink again. The other was Heavy Seas' The Great Pumpkin. I dug this one too, but it was very different from the Ichabod. Sweeter and much more carbonated, it was a great one and done brew. A little higher in alcohol content at 8.0% ABV as well. Not my favorite pumpkin ale, but not a bad entry into the fray either.

Oct 15, 2012

Yup...more bullets

Because the Yankees have been crushing my soul lately. OK, it's not that bad. But it does seem like they have been playing until the wee hours of the morning every day, so I just haven't had much energy for entertaining the masses here on the Dude. So more bullets. Deal with it.
  • Had dinner at this joint on Friday night. A burger spot specializing in an all-organic menu. I had The Ruby, a wild boar burger topped with pastrami, blackened maple bacon, havarti, fried bread & butter pickles, smoked apple onions and horseradish mayo. I added a fried egg, because that's how I do. It was a heavenly mess. Choked it down with a Wolaver's Organic Pumpkin Ale. Wish I had a Barburger a bit closer to home, because I can definitely see a return trip in my near future.
  • Speaking of pumpkin ales, Friday was my first foray into those particular waters this year. Besides the Wolaver's, I also had a Dogfish Head Punkin and a UFO Pumpkin from Harpoon Brewery. All courtesy of a certain water-logged buddy of mine. Each one was just as delicious as the next. Oooh, and I also tried a sip of Gia's Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider. That was really tasty too. We have a pub about 5 towns over that has over 30 different pumpkin beers on tap. We may need to hit that soon as the season for this brand of ale is nearing a close.
  • There are two shows on right now that are just off-the-charts good. Homeland on Showtime and Sons of Anarchy on FX. The first is only in it's second season, while Sons is in it's fifth season, I believe. Both have ratcheted up the craziness to the point where it gets uncomfortable to watch them sometimes. But in a good way. If you aren't doing so already, you should check them out.
  • October is officially horror movie month for me, and I have to admit that I'm woefully behind. I think I've only watched two horror films all month long. Insidious (which was excellent) and The Bleeding House (which I re-watched with Gia who hadn't seen it).  I have been catching up with past seasons of True Blood on HBO that I've missed in the past, but that's more like campy, non-scary horror. I need some of the good if you have any suggestions for me on Netflix or other streaming services, please leave a comment below. 
  • My laptop is acting up a bit as it's a few years old now. May be time for a new one soon. That's okay. I consider them to be temporary technology anyway. I don't go top-of-the line with my laptops. I get all the functionality I need out of a basic machine. As long as I can crunch numbers in Excel and dick around a bit on the internet, I'm fine. Plus there is always the possibility of me dropping it, so I'd rather not spend too much just in case that does happen. Exciting update, eh?
  • The Yankees. Ugh...
  • Biggest problem with watching all the MLB playoffs that I've been watching is having to sit through all those awful commercials that are replayed incessantly. There is this one Ford commercial in particular that uses a hook from a Train song called "Drive By". I hate it with every fiber of my being. The ad men from Ford and/or the members of Train better hope they never run into me in a dark alley. I'm not saying murder would happen, but I'm not NOT saying it either.
And that's all I got right now. Until next time, mes amis. 

Oct 3, 2012

Fucking Bullets

I've started and deleted about 5 posts in the past few days. Just couldn't work up the energy to give y'all the insightful and humorous content that you are all accustomed to. Ahem. So instead, you get bullets. Sexy, sexy bullets. Here we go!
  • Been killing it in the kitchen recently. My new favorite marinade for steak, pork or chicken is a green curry paste rub that I put together using Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, the juice of a couple of limes and some salt and pepper. Made some steaks with it last week and it was honestly about the best steak I've ever had. Served it with some grilled asparagus in an olive oil vinaigrette. Delicious! Grilling up some pork chops with it tonight. I'll let ya know how it turns out.
  • Speaking of steaks, I'm one of those folks that doesn't cook them often enough to know exactly when to take them off the grill. Gia's sister, a fantastic chef, gave me the best ever advice for a perfectly cooked slightly-below medium steak. Three and a half minutes on each side over medium high heat/flame. Then seven minutes on a cool plate covered with foil. Came out exactly how I wanted it to come out. Finally!
  • I've been digging a couple of older blues musicians lately, but I haven't found any great Youtube videos to share with y'all in this space for these gentlemen. Bill Homans aka Watermelon Slim and Charlie Musselwhite. Watermelon Slim plays some harmonica and slide guitar. Upside down lefty slide guitar, to be more accurate. He's a Vietnam Vet and long-time truck driver who got back into the recording game late in the 90's after a 26+ year layoff. And Musselwhite is a harmonica player, singer and band leader. Dan Ackroyd's character from The Blues Brothers was supposedly modeled after him. Check 'em both out if you get a chance. Good stuff.
  • The Yankees have been both a pain in the ass and a delight in the past few weeks. Sure, they blew a tremendous 10-game lead over the Orioles late this year, but they've also been finding ways to win exactly when they need to win over the past few weeks. It's been a roller coaster ride, but it's been a damned fun one at that.
  • The first Presidential Debate is on tonight, and I don't give a crap about it at all. In fact they should dispense with the word "debate" altogether. Not sure if I've ever seen a real debate between candidates. These things are more about focus-group approved talking points than an actual discussion. Just once I'd like to see a debate where the participants are thoughtful and actually answer the questions from the moderators and/or honestly address the comments from their opponents. Meh.
  • Lies, damn lies and statistics. Speaking of political debates, let's keep track of who lies more often tonight, shall we? Both sides are fairly adept at it. But they would argue that they aren't lying. That they are using these cherry-picked half-truths to illuminate their points and agendas. Whatever, dudes. I'll let clue me into the real deal tomorrow at some point. I'd say that we could make a drinking game out of it. A shot for every half-truth told by one of the candidates. I just don't think I have the tolerance for that kind of consumption.
  • There is a cool craft beer and oyster festival (Malt and Mollusks) going on out east this weekend, and we are going to head out there on Saturday if the weather holds out. Which isn't a given. It's been raining pretty constantly for the past 3-4 days now. Right now, Friday looks to be the gem of the next few days. Sunny and low 70's. Maybe the beer and oyster gods can do us a solid and move that nice weather to the following day. I sure would appreciate it.
  • I know that television spoilers in this day and age are just something that we have to deal with. But the number of spoilers that popped on Facebook (I'm told) and Twitter last week after that episode of Sons of Anarchy bordered on the ridiculous. We record everything and generally watch it the following night. This may be the same as shouting into the abyss, but c'mon folks....give it at least 48 hours before you start spouting off spoilers into the social media circus. Especially when it's something huge. Thank you.
That's all I got.  Have a great Hump Day!

Sep 27, 2012

New York City

This new video for the late Joey Ramone's "New York City" is pretty damned amazing. Thousands of stop-motion shots merged together for a great little tribute to the man and the city that he loved so much. Featuring dozens of famous and not-so-famous New Yorkers in classic leather jackets all over different neighborhoods of the city. You should check it out. It's great. And check out for the full story on the video.

But my favorite thing about the video? The guy up there in the screenshot and appearing at the 2:56 mark looks freakishly like a certain Verdant Dude that you all know. His name is Ed Stasium and he is a record producer who worked with The Ramones. We really don't look that much alike if you see other pictures of him. His hairline has receded much more than mine and he is about 20 years older than me, but in that video? Yup...dude looks like the Dude. And I'm okay with that.

Rock on, kids!

Sep 25, 2012


This story started as as kinda cool. I mean in a "parasite that is endangering honeybees which in turn will endanger crops" kinda way.  Which is not cool at all, by the way. Not cool at all.

Then it goes on to describe the way that the parasitic flies injects eggs into the bee's abdomen. The eggs turn into maggots. The maggots eat the bees...FROM INSIDE OF THEIR BODIES!!! After the host dies, the maggots enter a pupa stage and later emerge as adult flies. I just want to vomit.

This has a fucking horror story plot written all over it. I'm officially horrified.

Source: I dunno...some Swedish website

Sep 21, 2012


We watched all 3 seasons of Deadwood from HBO in the past month or so. Loving HBO-Go, by the way. And some of our favorite scenes include the local leader of the Chinese immigrants in camp, Mr. Wu played by Keone Young. Always hilarious, but even more so to us as our nickname for our cat Wolowitz is Wu (or Woo). So we've been known to borrow lines from the Wu scenes in Deadwood here at the cat ranch, and yell them randomly at our cat.  Don't judge us! Especially the lines from the scene below featuring Wu and Dan.

Enjoy. Or don't. Have a great weekend either way. NSFW language here, by the way. Lots and lots of NSFW language.

Sep 18, 2012

Bourbon In Your Eyes

The temptress is Colleen Duffy out of Cleveland, OH. The outfit is Devil Doll. Her music, well...I let the words from her website tell the tale. "Devil Doll is the punk rock torch singer your father warned you about, weaving tales of sex and sorrow, pleasure and pain. A cold drink is thrown into your face at the same time you feel the velvet creeping up the back of your neck She will not apologize and she will not ask for forgiveness. But she will write her name in lipstick in the most unlikely places."

To use a creepy expression, Daddy like. Punk rock/rockabilly sound and pin-up model aesthetics. I may have found my new favorite thing.

Here is her song "Bourbon In Your Eyes". I wanna slug Jim Beam and listen to this on repeat over and over and over again tonight. Yeah.


Sep 17, 2012


It was a joyous weekend for the sports fan that is me.

Excuse me, miss*...who does your hair?

Notre Dame beat Michigan State and all was well in the world. Meant I got to wear my ancient Irish hat with unrestricted joy. Add two victories for the Yankees on Saturday and Sunday to the equation and all was...fabulous. And I'm using that word as a man with a strict heterosexual resume. Was a fabulous weekend all around.

Next weekend is the Pickle Festival (see heterosexual resume referenced above), and then the hits keep on coming. I love me some weekends in the Fall.

Quick aside about the sports fan that is me. I've recently come to the conclusion that I'm kind of a fair-weather sports fan. I'll always root for Notre Dame football and NY Yankees baseball, no matter how well or poorly they fare. I just have a hard time watching them when they are in the crapper. The Yankees have been tough to watch for the past month or more. And Notre Dame, while always finishing with a winning record, have had some real clunkers these past few years. Here's to hoping for a great year for the Irish. Beating Michigan State was a great moment for them.

*Just got a few inches trimmed off last week too. I don't know how you ladies do it all your lives. I've had long hair for 3-4 years now and it can be an awful pain sometimes.

Sep 13, 2012

The Pack a.d.

Music for you on this lovely Thursday. Today it's The Pack a.d., a Canadian garage rock duo featuring Becky Black on vocals and guitar and Maya Miller on drums. Very cool sound, if you ask me.

Here's their video for "Sirens", in which the ladies wait until the very end to show up.

And a non-video for their song "Wolves and Werewolves", which is the song that Pandora found for me that led me to check this duo out. Kick-ass song!

Sep 11, 2012


Took a nice, long, relaxing shower the other afternoon. I know, shocking right? Go ahead with your jokes, but I do shower every day. And this isn't meant to be one of those "too much information" posts. It isn't the frequency of showering that I want to discuss. It's the quality.

You see, normally I either take a shower first thing in the morning or right before headed out for some social activity. And those aren't the optimal times to enjoy a nice, long, relaxing shower. I'm pretty much brain-dead first thing in the morning. So I need that shower to wake my silly ass up. And I'm generally running late most of the time, so that shower before heading out isn't a relaxing one either.

But the other day I woke up early and immediately jumped into some work. A couple of cups of coffee and a morning session of putting out some figurative fires and all of a sudden it was around 1PM. Had a stretch and decided that I had plenty of time for a shower.

And I reveled in it. Just enjoyed the incredibly hot sauna-like experience for around 15 minutes. No drought warning in our neck of the woods, so I didn't feel guilty at all. Just wallowed in the luxury. Something we don't often think about or do that since hot, running water is something we all take for granted. But I really thought about it in that quarter of an hour. And I used that time to remind myself how truly blessed we all are even if we don't think about things like a nice shower that often.

Even if it's something as easy as enjoying my daily shower, I'm gonna try to take a bit more time to enjoy the simple things that life has to offer. Sometimes those simple things make all the difference.

Note: The above tripe written late last night to avoid the BIG topic of the day. So there. 

Sep 6, 2012


Fill in the blank up there with either a D or an R. Doesn't really matter to me which one you prefer. I've watched about as much of the Democratic National Convention as I did the Republican National Convention. One to watch what the other side is cooking up and the other to watch in hope that my team steps up their game a bit. You may have done the same thing.

But, honestly, it all seems like a bunch of bullshit to me.

The Republican challengers get to go first and outline their attack game-plan against their adversary. The Democrats get to afterwards, attacking those attacks. None of that really interests me, and the discussion of actual issues seems pretty damned sparse.

So the President will accept his nomination tonight. Great. Did we need a three-day dog and pony show to get that done? The party would never allow it, but wouldn't it be wonderful if he just made his acceptance speech from the White House Press Room and concluded with "Now, let me get back to the business of running this country the best possible way I know how, and I look forward to your support in November." Three days of bullshit could be wiped off the ledger if the party allowed it.

I mean, I guess I understand the need for the challenging party to hold a convention. Not that there were any surprises in order. The Republican candidate was decided months ago. Seems to me that these convention are multimillion dollar boondoggles for the delegates, analysts and whomever else benefits from these things. And who, exactly, is paying for all of this? I've read that it comes from donations to the parties themselves. But what does that mean? I can't help but feel that somehow these things are screwing somebody over somewhere.

In this day of the the 24-hour news cycle and the Internet, do we really need these conventions anymore?