Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Apologize for the poor quality, but it's a low-grade camera phone.
Oh yes, another great episode of Life on Mars Last night. The ending really tied it together. With about 10 minutes left, I was thinking that the show was starting to slip, than, crash, bang, boom, we got three or four quick scenes that tied everything together. Two of them were great Kietel scenes. And they even managed to tie in the cheezy acid trip scene from earlier.
Also, we had this exchange.
Cop sent back in time: Look it's Jim Croce.
Cop: Jim, I love Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown. It was my favorite song when I was a kid.
Croce: I just released that album this year.
Cop: Right, I forgot. Anyhow, stay away from small planes.
Croce: Stay away from the hallucinigenics.
There's an old screen writing addage about always closing with a bang. Leaves them wanting for more or something. The writers of Life on Mars seem to get this.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phillies: Part Two


From 1883-1889, the current "Phillies" team was known as the Quakers.

In 1890, the name was changed to the "Philadelphias," after the custom of the time. It was shortly thereafter changed to "Phillies."

It stayed that way until 1944 when the team went by the nickname of Blue Jays.

That lasted two years and in 1946 the name was changed back to Phillies.


Pittsburgh Pirates: "Though baseball was first played in Pittsburgh in 1876, the team that evolved into the Pirates, the Pittsburgh Alleghenies, joined the American Association in 1882, and the NL in 1887. Then known as the Innocents, they became the Pirates by 'pirating' second baseman Lou Bierbauer from Philadelphia."

Feel free to comment.


Things I've Learned about the Phillies Since They Won the World Series

First, growing up in Western PA, I always thought the "phillies" were somehow related to horses (fillys), so I was always confused by their mascot (the green monster dude...he doesn't really look like a horse, not too much, anyway).

But, after living in SW PA for more than a year, I've come to understand that "phillies" are not related to horses at all. It just means "people from Philly".

That's it!?!?!?! What's the history here, Ralph? Couldn't they come up with something more creative than the Phillies? At least the Brooklyn Dodgers meant "trolley dodgers" (before they moved to LA).

Geez, I feel deflated now. It's like I always say: It would be better if animals were involved.

Really, it has to be one of the weakest nicknames in sports, no wonder World Series Championships are so few and far between. God is punishing them for being so uncreative.

Second, what are the real Phillies team colors? I always thought the colors were read and white (with red and gray travel uniforms), but I've seen blue Phillie hats and green Phillie hats, in addition to red, here on the KU campus. It was explained to me that the blue is legit, as the Phillies have always had some blue in their uniforms; however, the green hats are designed exclusively to encourage people to buy their favorite team's hat in a different color (that's just corrupt).

Now remember, I lived in Pittsburgh for 13 years and all of their sports teams have the same colors (black and gold). Makes it real simple, which suits me just fine.

Anyway, I'm learning about this Phillies team, little by little. It's been fun to watch all of the local fans having so much vacarious fun, just like I did when the Celtics won the NBA World Championship in June 2008. Woooohooooo!!!!

Still, I want to learn more about how the Phillies were named. I know the Pirates got their nickname when they allegedly stole some players from another team (was it the Phils?), and the Steelers has obvious origins.

I won't even comment on the 76ers, who are now just the Sixers...that's another lame name.

I need access to a sports editor, pronto!


Bully girls

So, my wife and I had a conversation this morning regarding bullying. Apparently, one of the girls in my daughter's class pushed her the other day and then said something along the lines of "I did it on purpose." My daughter has also told us this girl made fun of her for wearing colored underwear on a gym day a few weeks back. My wife and I have termed this girl and her friends as the "mean girls," and are having a debate over how are daughter should handle the situation.

According to my daughter there are a couple times when she's said something like, "you shouldn't have done that," when one of these girls made her friend move at the lunch table or something. My daughter is not exactly a wilting violet.

But, after this girl pushed her, she didn't do anything. I said she should have shoved her back even harder. (Note: my daughter is pretty sturdy; she has an older brother that likes to use her for wrestling practice. I'v'e seen her fight back and know she packs a wallop.) My wife said she should have told the teacher and is thinking that maybe she should go in herself and tell the teacher.

This brought about conversations about the value of kids learning to deal with their own problems, and the value of a little violence against a bully. I think we agree that parent interference should be kept to a miminum. Of course, some of my wife's more overbearing friends (and just to cover myself, I use "overbearing" as a term of endearment) don't feel that way. In regards to fighting back with a little violence, my wife seems to think this will reflect negatively on my daughter. I, of course, having just finished reading a 450-page biography of John Adams, am certainly in favor of a little bit of justified violence. That's how revolutions happen, baby!

Any opinions or advice on this topic are appreciated.



Monday, October 27, 2008

Ken Holtzman

I was watching the Philles-Rays game last night when Phils pitcher Joe Blanton went deep for I believe the first home run of his career. Not a good sign for the Rays, who ended up losing like 13-2. The announcers revealed that Ken Holtzman was the last pitcher to homer in the World Series, in 1974 against the Dodgers. That was the second World Series I ever remember watching, and I recall Holtzman's blast. Of course, a year earlier, Holtzman hit two doubles against the Mets. The guy was a .163 lifetime hitter with a .203 slugging percentage. In three Word Series' with the A's, he hit .333 with an .833 slugging percentage. He also had a 4-1 pitching record in the October Classic.

Here's what Ken Holtzman looked like in the mid-1970s. White shoes, green hats, yellow uniforms, great mustaches- the A's were the epitome of style to a wide-eyed youngster like myself. Ahh, the 1970s...

Friday, October 24, 2008

OJ's final game in 1973

Another solid episode of Life on Mars, yesterday. Sure, it has its cheesy moments, but then it hits you with these bizarre philsophical questions on reality, and fate, and destiny. You can definitely sense its English roots. Also, the show had a really strong ending last night, so I'm looking forward to next week.

As part of my continuing connection to 1973, I came across this wonderful video of O.J. Simpson's last game that year, when he both broke Jim Brown's single season rushing record and the 2,000-yard barrier - the first time a professional running back ever did that and the only time in 14 games. A few things are remarkable about this video:
1. For some reason, it's recorded in black-and-white.
2. The announcers never mention the score of the game, even though the Bills were 8-5 going in and battling the Bengals for a playoff spot. (Both teams finished 9-5, with the Bengals gaining the tiebreaker.)
3. The Bills running attack is incredible. They've got people pulling and sweeping all over the place, with O.J. cutting and shifting beautifully behind them. This is on a snow-covered field, and the Jets knew the Bills weren't throwing. (Rookie QB Joe Ferguson had like 4 TD passes all year.) You might see this type of running attack in college, but never do you see anything like it in a pro game anymore.
4. Look how tight the I-formation is. O.J. is practially up fullback Jim Braxton's ass.

This is condensed version of the game, so you get the gist of what went on in like 10 minutes. It's truly a beautiful thing to watch if you have the chance.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

World Series

I'm looking forward to the World Series. I think the Rays and the Phillies is a good match-up. Do you realize in like 100 years of existence, the Phillies have won one World Series title? In 1983, I think. The Rays, meanwhile, have pretty much finished in last place every year of their existence, until now. Both teams have some great talent this year. I have to think the Rays will take it in six or seven, based on the fact that they beat out both the Yankees and Red Sox for their regular season division title, and then vanquished the Red Sox again in the playoffs. Those are some great teams they beat to get here. Meanwhile, the Phils had to deal with the self-imploding Mets and a questionable Brewers team, before deposing of a pretty weak Dodgers squad (Manny excluded) in the NL Championship.

Things open Wed. and Thurs. in the dome - which from what I understand is an abomination of a place. Personally, I've never watched more than an inning of ball there. I listened to the AL Championship Series on the radio. But, at least the weather will be good. And things don't look all too bad in Philly for the next 10 days. So, let's play some ball and get it done. The NFL is about to kick into its stretch drive and the Bills are 5-1. (And DrD's Vikings have the immortal Gus Frerotte at the helm.)



Friday, October 17, 2008

Life on Mars

I few years ago, I realized had a bit of an obsession with the year 1973. I would have turned six that year, and my first real sports memories come from that time. For example, I remember the 1973 Super Bowl, which took place in January, between the Redskins and Dophins, but I don't remember the 1972 World Series, between the A's and Reds, which took place a few months previous. I do remember the 1973 Series, between the Mets and A's, however, as well as O.J. rushing for 2,000 yards, and even Secretariat winning the Triple Crown.

So, they launch this TV show on ABC last week and it's about this 41-year old guy who is transported back to 1973 after getting hit by a car. But, he's not a a six-year-old kid, but an adult, who is a police detective, just like he is in 2008. But then, although most everything seems real, as real as 1973 can be, he gets these not-so-subtle messages from time-to-time that he's really in a coma or something and this world has been constructed just for him. And then I start thinking about my obsession with 1973 and start thinking that perhaps this show, and my world, are constructed just for me... and it gets really strange.

On top of that, I read a review of this show, and it asks, "do they really expect us to feel nostalgic for the year 1973?" and my answer is yes, of course, I love 1973. But, my wife, for instance, who is also my age, seems to be indifferent towards it. So, I'm baffled. Does anyone else appreciate this show or is it on just for me?



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GeoEye Satellite Image of Kutztown University

Click the link for an ariel view of Kutztown University campus.

The road running through the center of the photo is Main Street Kutztown. The land on the right is South Campus; the land on the left is North Campus.

I teach all of my classes in the giant building in the center of the photo (directly on Main Street, south side).

Pretty cool pic.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008


There's a crazy big blue jay just landed on a chair back just outside my door. He croaked a couple times at me and then flew off. Once upon a time, Matt Stairs was a crazy big Blue Jay. So, that game last night was whacky. Matt Stairs has always been a crazy good hitter, and man he tatooed that ball to put the Phils ahead for good.

I'm cheering for the Phils because my two-year-old son has a Phillies hat he wore all summer, and people were always asking me quesitons about it. Now, it's all beat up and broken in, and the Phillies are one-game a away from the World Series. Makes him look like he's knows what he's doing. I can't say I saw more than five Phillies hats in Erie all summer, if that... but you can bet they'll all be popping up now. But, Fudgie, he was there when it started. He's in on the ground floor man.

Anyhow, did you realize that Stairs finally made it to the big leagues to stay with the 1997 A's, at 28 years old. He hadn't hit more than 13 home runs in a minor league season and had even spent some time in Japan. His A's teammates now included Mark MaGuire, Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, and Miguel Tejada. And, in a couple years, Stairs was a 40 HR, 100 RBI guy. Anyway, he's a hero now, and he did hit 21 homers in limited playing time with the Blue Jays last year, when they were testing, weren't they?

Oh well, that Manny Ramirez can really hit can't he? But, it looks like we might not get to see a Dodgers-Bosox World Series after all. Would have been fun.


Donna the Buffalo: Silverlined

Donna the Buffalo has released a new CD: Silverlined.

It is very good. A must-have for fans and a strong purchase for anyone.

Sim Redmond has also released a new CD. I've listened to it a couple of times, and it is pretty good. Fans will certainly want to add it to their collection.

Both CDs are available at Funkyside.

By the way, Funkyside is a great website if you are looking for new music in general. It's based in Ithaca, NY (Finger Lakes) and supports the local artists in that area (many of whom make the trip to Erie on a regular basis).


Monday, October 13, 2008


They call it the Red River Shootout, and in this day-and-age of the overuse of terms like "shootout" and "classic" as part of media hype - this one actually lives up to the hype. I think they've been playin' it for 110 years, which is clearly long enough to establish a "classic" rivalry.

I remember a few years back reading a list of the 10 greatest college football rivalries, and at the time, to me, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game always seemed like one of the biggest. But, this list, which obviously had a broader perspective than I did, listed Texas-Oklahoma. It said something like, these two states just don't like each other. If you want to insult someone from Texas, just say they're from Oklahoma, or some such jazz. Anyhow, when a rivalry goes back 110 years, as I said, and you typically have two good football programs, it's going to get pretty heated.

Saturday's game was fantastic. Oklahoma jumped out early and help on until the 4th quarter when the Longhorns came rolling like an orange tidal wave that the Sooners couldn't hold back. Something about Brent Mussburger calling Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops by his nickname "Stoopy" I think doomed them.

Mussburger did have one great line when his color man said something about them potentially riding together the largest Ferris Wheel in the world, which is installed at the Texas State Fair. "Do they serve cold ones up there?" Mussburger asked. I think he may have a been a bit uncomfortable with the propsition.

Anyhow, great game, fun time, lot of patentry, good quarterbacking - that Colt McCoy of Texas can play - college football the way it should be. As a sidenote, I was in Austin last week, and even though the Cowboys played on Sunday, the big story in the paper was the upcoming Saturday's game with Oklahoma. That's what it's all about.


Monday, October 06, 2008

400 Posts


I see where you wrote the 400th post.

Nice work and congratulations. You and I have written approximately 200 articles, each, in just under three years (the numbers start tallying as of January 2006). That's about 70 articles per year...six articles per month, if my math is right).

I think that's strong production.

So, what's our next step? Do we want to see where it goes, or are we prepared to try to connect our work to the cash flow in the mainstream? I think we've got a pretty solid, consistent product. Maybe we need to promote it more.

At the same time, the masses love the drama of polarity...I love it, too, but I like the balance of it more than life at the poles. I wouldn't want to lose any of our character if we go in this direction (although I think we're pretty good at grabbing a topic and being brutally honest, and we can do that because we aren't connected to money[see Noam Chomsky]).

We have also built up an archive of writings. Maybe we'll have enough for each of us to write a book someday, a collection of essays.

Sorry to see the Bills lose. I don't know whether I've mentioned this or not, but the Bills are my third favorite team. I like the cold weather, the colors on the uniforms, and a lot of Erie friends and family are Bills fans.

I'm rooting for a Philly/Boston World Series, but there is a long way to go. The Red Sox haven't even won he DS yet.

Well, there it is...


Friday, October 03, 2008

Blockbuster Dream

One of my friends has been trying to convince me to join Netflix. As I'm in the midst of building out my home theatre system, I've probably put way too much thought into this. But here's the dream I had last night:

I went down to the Blockbuster store at the Liberty Plaza to return a DVD. After I dropped the movie in the slot, I went inside to get a new one. However, the store hda been transformed into some sort of Bed, Bath & Beyond-like boutique. There were towels, and lamps, and glassware, and all sorts of fufu-stuff all around.

I was baffled, wandering around looking for the movies but couldn't find any. Then I saw a reformed older hippie-type with a Price Valient-haircut looking around with the same bewilderment as I was. Our eyes met, and I realized what a dinosaur I was.

I ran out of the store and started asking people what had happened to Blockbuster. “Oh, it’s been closed for weeks,” was the answer I finally got, after a few “I don’t knows.”

Distraught, I caught my breath and found a place where I could shoot some pool and reminisce about the good ole' days with other old fogies. Instead of being sad, I found the dream strangely satisfying. (I think that last line makes it sound like a clinical report in a Freud book.)



Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bizzaro-World Playoff Play

I'm listening to the Dodgers-Cubs game last night when this happens: Dodgers are leading 5-1 at the time. With a man, on Dodgers outfielder Jim Edmonds comes to the plate. Before he became a great hitter with St. Louis, Edmonds was primarily known for his spectacular outfield play with the Angels, often, in fact, injuring himself by running into walls and such. In other words, he's known for playing the game hard.

Well, Edmonds, a lefty, hits a slicing fly ball down the left field line. Assuming it's foul, he doesn't bother to run it out. (Note: running out hits until you're absolutely sure they're called foul is something we stressed to 8-9 year-old players on our Little League team this year.) Well, the wind being what it is Chicago this time of year, the ball's slice is held up and it nearly drops fair. Manny Ramirez, yes, that Manny Ramirez who was traded by the Red Sox this year pretty much for loafing, hustles over, makes a nice play on the ball off the wall and gets it back into the infield quickly.

Now, the ball was foul so it really didn't matter, but my point is, that on this play, in a hugely important playoff contest for both teams, Manny was huslting, and Edmonds, who was quite willing to break his butt for fifth-place Angels teams back in the day, was not. Oh yes, the Dodgers won 7-2, with Manny getting two hits, scoring twice, and taking one out of the park.

No matter what you want to say negative about Manny, and most of it is probably true, he's a pro. No doubt about it. When the chips are down, he's not scared to step it up. (an alternative cliche: He really knows how to take the bull by the horns.) This is one of the things that makes him so great. He may eschew responsibility for many things, but when it comes to baseball, Manny's not afraid of the big moment. (Maybe we should put him in charge of Congress until we get this bailout thing passed.)

On a related note: Jason Bay, who has always been one of my favorite players because of the way he played and handled himself when he was with that awful Pirates franchise, had a homer to push the Red Sox past the Angels last night. Bay, whose personality is practically a polar opposite of Manny's, was the main piece the Red Sox got in return when they traded Manny. He's been solid. And his personality fits in much more with what the new Red Sox management (since the team was sold in 2003) is trying to achieve. Could this be one of those trades in which both teams benefit? It sure will be interesting if the Dodgers and Red Sox meet in the World Series.