Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Sad Little Life: A Recap

Thunder Matt fun for the whole family!

Market THIS you worthless tick of a man.What's been going on in my brain of late:
Thunder Matt has been DFA'd in Colorado, yet no one will pull the trigger on the AArons here. Hendry, I'm looking in your Huttesque direction.

Apparently Crane Kenney is still going to be president of the Cubs under the Ricketts regime. Meet the New Boss. Literally and With No Exaggeration, Same as the Old Boss.

Despite my best attempts to defend him from the more emotional and strident Cubs fans I know, Milton Bradley insists on being a temperamental prick. At least he's making contact, finally.

Wednesday's 9-4 win has done NOTHING to wash the stain of the 15-6 loss to the Nats on Tuesday. I thought I had given up on this team before, but AAron Heilman coughing up the Grand Slam will go down in the history books as the exact moment I stopped giving a tin shit about the 2009 Cubs. And I'm better for it.

I'm up to page 190 on Mason & Dixon. Some really beautiful writing on the relationship between fathers and sons and the nature of love, longing, grief, and duty. Not nearly enough talking clocks, though.

My fiancee is out of town for four days starting tonight, which means the meals I cook are less in the area of "a small portion of cooked fish and a salad with homemade vinaigrette," and more along the lines of "steak, tater tots, and scotch." It also means I may have a heart attack by Friday.

On the subject of Steak:
A) My cut was pretty cheap, but I marinated the living hell out of it. With coffee. It was pretty decent.
B) I also made gravy. Because I am southern. It was awesome.

I have eaten enough of these to choke a hippo tonight.On the subject of Tater Tots:
A) Much like Wayne Newton with pasta, I always make too much.
B) If you are going to bake them (because, like me, you don't want to start a grease fire in your hovel), for god's sake, broil them for a couple of minutes or they're really just soggy potato lumps.
C) Though they run the risk of moving into Overrated territory, I love that Tater Tots are showing up on a lot of local bar menus. They are great drunk food.

On the subject of Scotch:
A) I like it.
B) A lot.

On the subject of Holy Shit, This Is Rad:
A) Holy shit, this is rad.

Repeated viewings of Bridezillas with said fiancee over the past few weeks (which is doing wonders for my masculinity, let me tell you) have led me to the conclusion that Women Must Be Stopped. Honestly. It seems like half of these cows are only getting married so they can treat their best friends like slaves for a few weeks.

I LOVE HOOLIGANISM! Oi! Oi! Oi!Within hours of declaring that I was arbitrarily supporting West Ham United FC (though not actually watching soccer, as it bores me to tears) for the sole reason that Steve Harris of Iron Maiden is a huge fan, their supporters got into a riot with Millwall supporters. Which delights me to no end, because while I don't really care about soccer, I really love hooliganism.

It turns out none of the things I've had to say have moved me enough to write a full blog entry. So you get these dregs. Hope you're happy.

Oh, and instead of watching the Cubs game tonight, I watched a couple of Simpsons DVDs. It was the most fun I've had during a ballgame all year. I can only assume the fact that my apathy has hit full swing will make the Cubs a team of winners. You're welcome.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

TMS Roundtable: Ghostbusters.

Unsurprisingly, my love of ghostbusters ended up on TMS.

Despite what Chaim says, bustin' makes ME feel good.Or, THIS Is What We Do When We’re Not Writing Blog Posts

I'm actually so furious with the last couple of weeks of Cubdom that I can't think straight about the Cubs. When I learned that AAron Miles' OPS+ is like 20, I had to lay down for a minute. When I learned that even Neifi Perez in 2006 had an OPS+ of 53 I almost punched a hole in the Space-Time continuum to kill Jim Hendry before he was born.

So, I'm having trouble writing about baseball.

Instead, I thought I’d give another, much more lucid account of what goes on when TMS bartenders hang out in the break room (Per TMS Head Bartender Chip Wesley: “Well it's not Cubs-related so I don't see why it wouldn't be suitable for TMS”)

You may or may not know this, but the TMS staff is in constant communication via the miracle of email. That’s how we decide whether or not to endorse players like Randy Wells, or excoriate players like Miles. What follows is a transcript of that conversation, cleaned up ever so slightly (I apologize for the length, but you can always skip the boring comments, just like I do in a real email thread).

To set the scene: a couple of weeks ago, Chaim Witz came out with a shocking statement…

Chaim Witz:
I'll probably catch hell for this, but after watching it last night for the first time in years....while it was by no means terrible, and would certainly qualify as 'mildly amusing', I gotta say:

Overrated: Ghostbusters

Chaim, you couldn't be more wrong on the wrongingest day of your life with an electrified wronging machine.

Lingering Bursitis:
"Pompous PR flack slanders Ghostbusters unprompted; loses cushy job and all credibility regarding movies"

Chaim: Gotta disagree with you on that one, although to be fair, Wolter and I probably got to experience the movie at a much younger age. Ghostbusters is one of the first movies I remember seeing in the theater.

Chaim Witz:
Defend it for me then. Sure, it's a nice piece of nostalgia, but unlike a movie like Back to the Future, it doesn't hold up to me. The plot is threadbare, even for what it is, it's only intermittently funny (courtesy mostly of Bill Murray) and the special effects are atrocious unless you view them in an 'awww, isn't that cute' way.


Have you guys seen it recently though? Just because it was good when you were a kid doesn't mean it's still good today. There are a lot of 80's movies that are that way.

The only time I LOL'ed was the 'dickless' joke.


Note, I didn't say it was "bad", just overrated. No way is that one of the best movies of the 80's. Dan Akroyd? Just not funny, sorry. Neither is Harold Ramis. If not for Murray (and sadly, Rick Moranis), that movie would be as forgettable as most of my posts.

Brant Brown:
"PR lackey shocked by firing; maintains that 'I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell' is better than 'Ghostbusters'"

The Hundley:
Chaim is guilty of "Pulling a [INSIDE JOKE WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR A LIBEL CHARGE EXCISED]" here. I disregard it all.

Brant Brown:
I have a strong feeling that I would agree with Chaim on Ghostbusters, so I intend to keep it locked away in my memories. I do always remember thinking that the marshmallow man was out of place, even when I was young.

I watch Ghostbusters on a surprisingly regular basis, Chaim. I love it oh-so-very-much.

I've seen it many times, Chaim, most recently about a month ago, and I still enjoy it immensely. I'm not going to say it's the greatest movie of all time, but I think it’s held up pretty well, special effects aside. Those were good for their time and are now outdated, although I find they have a kind of charm.

I think many of us have gotten spoiled by CGI, but GB has action sequences I can follow without giving myself a headache. I watched the first Transformers movie and everything moves so fucking fast I have problems telling who's fighting who and who's doing what. In GB, when they're shooting the streams at the ghosts, I can actually tell what the hell is going on. I kinda like that.

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I love the movie. Bill Murray is the best part of it, but the way the rest of the cast interacts is pretty solid.

I love Aykroyd's pseudoscience. Also, the Moranis Lewis Tuttle party sequence was largely ad-libbed, which is massively impressive.

Ernie Hudson has probably the most under-appreciated role in that movie. I fucking love Winston.

I think Ghostbusters is probably the movie (outside of maybe the original Star Wars trilogy) that I have quoted the most in my life. It's my Casablanca.


Or, I should say "my Caddyshack?"

Former Bartender Jordi Scrubbings:
I'll admit Ghostbusters is a different movie from a kid to an adult, especially after you experience college. As a kid you are amazed at the idea of catching ghosts and the photon pack, etc. As an adult you get more into the relationships - the Ghostbusters with the college (awkward and forced at best), Peter with Dana (completely unprofessional), and the Ghostbusters with the city. Keep in mind, too, that it followed Caddyshack and was a reunion of some of Second City's greatest alumni. Why it is based in NY and not Chicago is beyond me - maybe as a response to Blues Brothers?

Although random, what I am trying to say is that I still like Ghostbusters. It’s just for different reasons.

The Hundley:
Yeah, after I got to college I said, "That's it; I'm done trying to catch ghosts".

The Hundley just made me laugh out loud. Hard. A coworker just peeked in.

One thing I never noticed as a kid that I do as an adult: everyone smokes like a fucking chimney in that movie.


The reason it's probably not a huge ode to Chicago is that Aykroyd (the main force behind its original creation) was from the Toronto Second City, where Ramis had also done a lot of work. The Firehouse base is based on the Toronto Second City's location, and that scene was very much homage to the early days there.

White Chili:
I still can't wrap my head around Belushi playing the part of Peter.

What about John Candy in the Moranis role? If it weren't for Splash conflicting, it would have happened.

Chaim, you have inadvertently strengthened my resolve to watch Ghostbusters again, post-haste.

Hey, Arcturus. Here's some Ernie Hudson love: a remixed trailer with him as the star of a much darker supernatural thriller:

Jordi Scrubbings:
Interesting for gb1, but I could not see Annie Potts being turned on by a geeky John Candy in gb2. No way.

Actually Candy and Sigourney Weaver is kinda unbelievable as well.

Murray was perfect for Venkman. I have a hard time seeing Belushi in the part. He's sleazy enough, sure, but Murray makes the part. Dana says he's like a game show host. Murray really makes that aspect of the character shine through.

Loved the Ernie Hudson vid, Wolter. He's one of the best parts of that movie for me, despite the fact that he really has very little to do.

Ghostbusters II is utterly horrible, though. I did just recently watch that on TV the other day and it's godawful.

Ghostbusters II is terrible.

[We talk about other Bill Murray vehicles for a while. But SOMEONE can't let this go.]

Chaim Witz:
Back to Ghostbusters for a sec: Ernie Hudson is under -appreciated? That's because he doesn't come until halfway through the movie, has nothing to do and has maybe 10 lines the whole movie. They might has well have just called him, 'black guy that smokes'.

Wolter, you're right about the smoking. Just chain smoking throughout.

No small roles, Chaim.

Chaim Witz:
Another thing you don't notice as a kid is how basically everything is superficial and they don't even make an attempt to explain anything, save for a few lines of mumbo jumbo spouted off by Aykroyd.

Not that I wanted the movie bogged down with a lot of unnecessary exposition that sucks the fun out of it, but you do notice how they go from Point A to B to C rather quickly, while skipping over how they got to each point.

Trivial qualms I suppose. It was still fun, just not nearly as good as I had hoped it to be.

Man, if they actually tried to explain the Ghost Science, I suspect I would love that movie significantly less.

White Chili:
It's easier to explain using Twinkie logic.

There is a ton of smoking in the movie.

And who needs scientific explanations for all the crazy shit they do? I don't want it to be like Star Trek, where you've got every nerd under the sun debating on whether or not warp drive is possible.

Egon says, "Hey, there's a good chance we could capture and hold a ghost indefinitely." They have a big red box they put the ghosts in, which works until the EPA shuts off the power. That works pretty good for me because it's basically a comedy and it doesn't really matter how any of it works.

And the Twinkie explanation is fucking brilliant.

Chaim Witz:
Ok, scientific explanations wasn't what I meant. I guess I'm just a sucker for a "plot". We'll just have to agree to disagree. There are a lot of movies I like that I can't really explain why as well.

White Chili:
You're claiming that Ghostbusters suffers because it's not realistic? Really?

Next you're going to say that Chain Reaction was bad.

It's all right, Chaim. My wife isn't real big on Ghostbusters either. It's one of those movies that I can't seem to help watching if it happens to be on TV. She'll roll her eyes in disgust and just shake her head. I get that a lot.

Chaim Witz:
That's ok. The Burbs is one of my Top 5 movies ever, and I can in no way defend it or even explain why I like it so much. I just do, dammit.

[With that, the talk gradually subsides to other, even less interesting topics, interspersed with randomly inserted barbs about Ghostbusters from Chaim…who is still horribly, horribly wrong.]

Imagine if we harnessed all that time wasting ability for good, instead of evil.

P.S. - Only 30 pages further into Mason & Dixon. Damn you Pynchon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Pynchon Project: Mason & Dixon

TMS archive.

Pretentious? You bet!Or: Is Pomp Culture Making a Comeback?

Or: The Cubs Are So Wretched, I'm Turning To Literature.

Or: No Seriously, I Hate That Jeff Samardzija Just Started a Game.

Confession Time: I am addicted to Thomas Pynchon books. Utterly, completely addicted. His insane writing style, a mixture of James Joycean wordplay and stream of consciousness, Raymond Chandlerian pulp excess, and Joseph Helleresque paranoia and modernist neuroses really appeals to me on a deep level.

Confession Time, Part II: I am not nearly as addicted to actually finishing those books. Oh, I start them with the best intentions, but my (until recently undiagnosed) severe Adult ADHD has made me set them aside for shinier distractions. The problem with Pynchon is, the longer you set him down, the harder it is to remember just what the hell was going on the last time you held the book in your hands. Couple this with a prose style that often requires the casual reader to stop, go back, and reread a passage to figure out what just happened, and (if you're me), you end up with a lot of dog-eared and bookmarked detritus on the shelves.

Compounding Incident: Pynchon has recently released a new novel, Inherent Vice. From everything I can gather, it's a noir-detective novel dipped in a druggy paranoiac haze of decaying 60s idealism. And I want to read it so very badly.

"But Wolter," says my Better Judgment. "You have a metric ton of unread Pynchon on your shelf. And can you really justify a new purchase when you haven't even gotten your money's worth out of the last few?"

"Shut the hell up," I respond. "If I wanted the opinion of an anthropomorphized abstraction in my psyche, I'd ask my Inner Child."



And at this point my reverie devolves into nothing and my bookshelf gathers dust.

Economic Twist: Given the fact that I currently have less than $9 in my checking account right now, it seems much more viable to read what I have, instead of buying more things and not reading them.

The Insane Challenge: In the grand tradition of the TMS Bat Project and Chaim's Mustache Diaries, I am wading in feet first into a project that is no doubt doomed to failure: to read ALL of Pynchon's catalog that I own. All of it. Even the stuff I actually did finish (which includes, oddly enough, Gravity's Rainbow, which ranks up there with Finnegan's Wake on the "so-called classic no one ever actually reads" scale). If I can do that, and live to tell about it, then I will allow myself to invest in Inherent Vice. If I fail, I will be forced to tear the suede patches off my tweed jacket and admit I only have an undergraduate degree. The good news: thanks to the addition of ADHD-inhibiting drugs, I've already made it 117 pages into my first book...

The First Book: Mason & Dixon. The impetus behind this whole project. I picked this up and realized that, though I remembered loving what I had read of this, AND that I had a bookmark halfway through, I couldn't actually remember anything at all about the book.

The Story So Far: It's the late 18th Century, and the Rev'd Wicks Cherrycoke is in Philadelphia, telling his niece and nephew a tale of intrigue about his youth traveling the world (after his exile from England, under pain of losing his inherited income from his father). The tale centers around his travels with Mason & Dixon of the famed line (and one supposes Jars and Cups). Charles Mason is a young widower, a London resident given to melancholy whose favorite pastime is attending public hangings. Jeremiah Dixon is a boisterous, hard drinking apostate Quaker from up north. They travel together on a series of missions of Astronomical import, assailed (up to this point) by a French frigate, nubile underaged Dutch blondes, and an overabundance of mutton-based meals. Along the way, they encounter a Learned dog that gives sage advice, world traveling clocks that (like all acquaintances) spend most of their time discussing the weather, and the seductive charms of the exotic ketchup.

All in all, typical Pynchon. Now let's see if I can make it through this thing. I figure it's the least I can do after making the rest of you read this.

Note: Don't worry, bored reader. I will NOT be writing any other posts about this project, but I will be appending status updates to the end of my other, much more fascinating posts about Iron Maiden, Video Games, and The Brutal Murder I Have Planned for Jeff Samardzija.

2010 Update: I finished it like 8 months later, and totally backed out of doing the rest. Then I bought another Pynchon book which I started and didn't finish. Sigh.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Freelance Dramaturg Returns! Again!

That last post was a real bummer, huh? Cathartic for me, but it can't have been too fun for the rest of you.

Here's something a little more frivolous: a Freelance Dramaturg cartoon I drew last weekend, when I was far too drunk to actually draw well (thank goodness he's easy).

Freelance Cartoonist of Dramaturgs was VERY much in similar cups.

For those "in the know," I'm not actually a fan of Rebecca Gilman1 - so Freelance Dramaturg isn't really just a noseless caricature of The Slogger.

So there.

  1. Theatre Geek Footnote: I think Gilman hides behind shock value and would not be half as critically acclaimed if she were a man writing the same Neo-Websterian Grand Guignol pieces of cod-Mamet. In fact, her writing reminds me of that guy in every first year playwriting class who thinks that staccato dialogue liberally interspersed with "fucks" and "cocksuckers" makes him edgy. But she's the one getting awards and critical acclaim, whereas I haven't even been paid for my writing in almost 9 years, so I'm certainly no judge... Also, I've never even read or seen Spinning Into Butter, which is usually considered her best work. ...Hell, I guess I shouldn't throw stones.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

War Criminal: 2009 Cubs Named Aaron

Some good hate in this TMS archive post.

Responsible for the Armenian Genocide of 1915Ugh. I hate you, 2009 Cubs Named Aaron.

I hate you so much that it’s beginning to impair my judgment.

When I see one of your names in a lineup, or a box score, or on the back of a jersey in the bullpen, I seethe with a rage I used to reserve for Will Ohman. 2009 Cubs Named Aaron, you are worse than tuberculosis, kitten drowning, and a Sex and the City marathon combined. If you had a collective neck, and this neck was lying in front of me, I would step on it and twist. I hope to one day eat a delicious McRib while watching you choke on a tightly compacted ball of cilantro and my own bile.

Aaron Heilman, you aren’t even the closer and you have blown SIX saves. If you aren’t leading the league in that, you’re damn close. And I’m beginning to think that if we called Doug Dascenzo up, he could do better than a WHIP of 1.55. Before you start trying to defend yourself, remember that your league-slightly-below-average ERA+ of 98 certainly does not make up for the fact that your face reminds me of Todd Hollandsworth, whom I have no nostalgia for (though I bet HE wouldn’t shit the bed as badly in leverage situations).

Pol Pot's right hand man.Aaron Miles? I don’t give a crap what Arcturus says, because even he knows the truth. You are a War Criminal. You have never grown on me. Not even in the sense of a fungus. I know I should be all stats-nerdy, but the fact that you are about 2 more bad games away from hitting my weight says all I need to know, you sub-Mendoza water baby.

Is it entirely within the realm of reality for Jim Hendry to find a second baseman that doesn’t meet any of the following 3 criteria?

1. Is too short to ride the Cyclone on Coney Island.
2. Can grow a douchey beard between innings.
3. Sucks.

Because you meet all three, you slap-hitting Travelocity gnome.

Holy crap, I just checked your OPS. I think the damn gnome could have done better than .489. Hell, on further inspection, your career OPS makes me long for the heady days of Neifi Perez. I’m beginning to think Bobby Scales actually SHOULD be up in the Big Show instead of what I can only assume is a Cardinals sleeper agent.

Clearly, the “AA” in “2009 Cubs Named Aaron” is a hint. Ship these fools to the Smokies, and leave them there.

P.S. I’ve got my eye on you, “Aaron” Samardzija.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Little Buddy is in a Bad Way

FOOD! I LOVE YOU SO!Serious one again. I hate serious ones.

Far be it from the Slog to only post about those suffering from cancer, but my remaining rat, Dante is on his last legs. He was recently diagnosed with a malignant, aggressive sarcoma. It's been over a year since I lost my last rat, Dante's little brother Wilson, to a sudden respiratory condition, and it hasn't been any easier this time around.

This time around, I refuse to write a post when Dante passes on, though. While he's still here, I'm going to talk about my special little guy, and why he's my favorite pet rat of all time (and I've had eight of them in the last 12 years).

I got Dante (and his brother Wilson) about 2-1/2 years ago (I'm guessing here, my personal sense of time is a little screwy), when Ali and I were in the early stages of dating. Ali had just lost her own rat, Ezzie (short for Esmerelda), to mammary tumors (a common occurence in female rats at a certain age).

As I usually say when faced with an impending rat death, I swore up and down, "I'm never getting another one. Never again. They don't live long enough, and it's just to hard to watch this."

So, of course, we ended up getting two rats within weeks.

The backstory: Ali and I were picking up food and bedding for her chinchilla (we have a lot of animals. A lot) when we happened to go by a cage with 4 male rats frolicking about. They all had really great personalities, and we were hard-pressed to tear ourselves away from the cage.

We left the store, ran a few more errands, and realized we forgot something. We went back to the pet store to discover that two of the rats were gone. We mentioned to an employee that at least the person who bought them knew that rats, who are social mammals, do better in pairs.

A convalescent Dante recovers from surgery. Ignore the feces."Ugh," said the employee. "I hate when people buy the rats here for snake food. They're intelligent animals. It's sick the way people feel the need to feed snakes live food to watch, when you can get them prekilled items, which are healthier and safer anyway."

Ali and I looked at each other. As one mind, we said "we're getting them."

So, we ended up with two rats. We justified our purchase with the statement, "At least they're male. We won't have to worry about mammary tumors" (which are, more or less, breast cancer for rats). We decided that each of us would name one. Ali, named the (much, much) smaller one "Wilson," which I have always assumed was after Dr. James Wilson on House, MD. I named the lumbering, gentle giant Wilson shared a cage with "Dante," after the Medieval poet, not Dante Bichette as some of you no doubt expected.

We lost Wilson last June, but Dante lumbered on, getting fatter, lazier, but friendlier all the while. He is, by a long stretch, the friendliest little (huge) rat I've ever met. He would, if you let him, spend literally hours licking your hands and grooming your nails (rat ways of showing affection). He spent almost any other moment out of his cage engaging in the curious rat behavior known as bruxing, a tooth grinding that is roughly akin to a cat's purr. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he is the friendliest pet I've ever owned.

And the laziest.

A moment before Dante hotwired Ali's car, no doubt in an attempt to get a McRib at the drive-through.Lord, how he loved to just sit there on your lap, or chest, or shoulder and be petted. Take any other rat I've ever had out of the cage, and within minutes he or she had explored the entire area around, and probably wouldn't sit completely still until every fun thing was exhausted, and it was time to take a nap.

Then there's Dante. I think in the past two years, Dante never went more than two feet away, and inevitably waddled back to his starting point, to be petted and scratched between his shoulder blades (which he adored - I don't think he could reach there, otherwise). He often dozed off while I sat with him watching TV - and I often came close to joining him.

But there is one thing the little guy has shown more love for than sleeping: eating. He could pack it away in better times. Clever little guy that he is, he figured out that if he banged on the roof of his cage in the late evening, it would remind me that it was feeding he started banging earlier and earlier every day. His feeding time started creeping sooner and sooner. By the end, he was usually eating a full two hours earlier than he did at this time last year.

He also took advantage of my ADD-ravaged memory to, on more than one occasion, trick me into feeding him twice in one night. I spent much of the last year complaining bitterly that the rat was going to be softball shaped before much longer.

Better days.Given that he was always a fat, male rat, his current condition is particularly hard for me to bear. He's lost a lot of weight, and has a ghost of his old appetite. His former lumbering gait has turned into a limp (surgery scars and and a series of abcesses near his pelvis, combined with the stunningly fast reappearance of a tumor have rendered his back legs nearly useless). And the ultimate cause of this? A mammary tumor. That's right. The gentle giant of a rat that I used to pretend talked like Barry White ended up having more in common with Quincy Jones. And now he looks small and frail.

I'm going to go home tonight and take him out, let him sit in my lap and give him a scratch between the shoulder blades. Maybe a little baby food will perk his taste buds up a bit. When he passes, which won't be long, you won't hear about it here. I'm going to talk about Ghostbusters or sleazy Glam Punk bands or Stan Lee's progressive views on females next time I log in to blogger. But I had to get this off my chest, and this lunch break seemed the best time.

I love you Dante. And you are the last. This time I mean it.

It's just too hard.

Monday, August 3, 2009

RIP, Billy Lee