Monthly Archives: May 2007

Self-Help: the Pirate

Yeah, yeah, we all knew it was coming. We did the ninja, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the next one will be the rockstar. It takes some of the fun out of it for me knowing that you readers out there expect these now, so stop harassing me about doing them and lets make it fun again…for me…because who really cares about you anyway? Not me…I don’t give a rat’s teet in heck about you. Anyway.

So, the Pirate.

For as long as pirates and ninjas have existed there has been the argument about who would win in a fight, the pirate, or the ninja. I am not here today to answer that question. It’s not my concern if your pathetic life hinges that far on nerddom that you seriously have arguments about this. I’m here to coach you into becoming the best pirate you can be, not feed into your anti-social awkward behavior. If you get into serious discussions about who would win these hypothetical conflicts, then you are neither a ninja, nor a pirate, and thus not interesting to me and I don’t care to speak to you. For those of you interested in becoming a pirate, read on.

You can just skip the next paragraph, it’s legally mandated but of no use to anyone…

DISCLAIMER: Mr. Thursday and any and all of his affiliates, writers, editors, friends, countrymen, Romans, imaginary friends, luck dragons, ligers, entourage, pets, or habitual line steppers are not in anyway/shape/ or form liable for any acts of piracy, lunacy, idiosyncrasy, or any other cy words that might stem from reading this passage. Mr. Thursday disavows any real, firsthand knowledge of such things as pirates, the following came to him in a comatose dream after hitting his head in the bathroom, directly after discovering the flux capacitor. Mr. Thursday denies that pirates even actually exist, which sucks for you because should you follow the following steps and become a pirate, you will surely become lonely. Mr. Thursday denies that he once held a habenero eating contest in his friends kitchen that sent 3 boys crying to the freezer to eat as much ice cream and chug as much milk as they could. Mr. Thursday also denies ever intentionally wearing a zap collar through an electric fence to see how far he could get. Mr. Thursday denies the moon landing. Mr. Thursday believes in ghosts, but believes they are merely still here because they have unfinished business. Mr. Thursday believes heartily in zombies, and you should to, before it’s too late. Mr. Thursday does not, however, believe in pixies, fairies (except for…the other kind), nymphs, goblins, trolls, dryads, or man-eating cicadas. Finally, Mr. Thursday denies that everyone and everything is anything more than a figment of his imagination and wholeheartedly affirms that the Earth sits on the back of a giant sea-turtle.

On to the looting and pillaging and whatnot.

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Do They All Die?: “Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity”

dtat.jpgMina Shum’s Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (2002) may have been the film that got Sandra Oh cast in Sideways which may have been the role that got her cast on Grey’s Anatomy which may very well be the reason that her face is plastered on the Earth. I was reading one of these many articles on Oh that mentioned a DVD I was given ages ago but never got around to watching, Shum’s film. So I decided to check it out and see what this film was all about, besides Sandra Oh. Turns out it’s a modern day fairy tale that is really interesting and well worth serious consideration.

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Sine Macula – Hunky Dory

sinemacula2.jpgIn 1970, David Bowie was dropped from his label after the sales of The Man Who Sold the World and David Bowie were less than desirable. So he took his recordings for his next album, and, upon hearing the tapes in early 1971, RCA immediately signed Bowie to a record deal, releasing the album only two months later.

The album, Hunky Dory, is an oft forgotten one. The most well known track from it, “Changes”, only gets occasional radio play, and the next most well known, “Life on Mars?” hasn’t been the subject of any sort of radio play since around 1973. The album is a crucial one for Bowie, though. Musically, Bowie rounds up where he’s been with the singer-songwriter pop gems “Kooks” and “Fill Your Heart”, where he’s going “Queen Bitch” and “Oh! You Pretty Things”, and what’s getting him there, “Andy Warhol”, “Song for Bob Dylan”.

The album is a bit broad–lots of ideas, all over the place–but it’s unified by Bowie’s singular voice, and operatic style. It may not be the “definitive” David Bowie album, but there’s excellent work representing nearly every album until from his debut through Young Americans, and hints of what comes after that.

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How Sour the Sound

Okay, hopefully the above video is working, but if it isn’t, click here to watch it. And watch it all the way through, I promise you it’s worth your time.

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Tossing the Game

As I’m sure you’ve realized from the Amazon-like river of posts about basketball, we, the member of the Curious Mechanism, are huge fans. 

Okay, maybe not, but I think we’ve all got a cursory sort of interest in it.  We watch plenty of college ball, and a fair amount of NBA games, with a bit more interest in playoffs.  Oh, and there is a writer or two among us who loves the NBA Draft the way most people love Christmas.  Regardless, though I didn’t see it happen live, I’ve seen the replay of the Robert Horry hip-check on Steve Nash, and the subsequent suspensions of Horry (Games 5 and 6) as well as Amare Stoudamire and Boris Diaw (Game 5 for both). 

Naturally, a lot of people are pretty disgruntled about how the Suns are losing two of their key players for a pivotal game, while the Spurs–who have been accused of dirty play throughout the series–are only losing an ancillary player, a backup, in Horry. 

Some bloggers and message board scribes are advocating some kind of unofficial protest from Phoenix.  The two suggestions I’ve seen most frequently bandied about are the following:

1) Hit someone back.  Start a scrub, and have him plow Tim Duncan or Mr. Eva Longoria. 

2) Throw the game ostentatiously.  I forget who was advocating for this most heartily, but the base sentiment was that, every-time they touch the ball, Phoenix should just toss it away into the stands. 

I understand the desire for #1.  The Suns definitely seem to be getting the short end of the stick, here.  Their premier player gets clobbered, and they suffer the worse of the suspensions.  A little vengeance would seem in order, even if I’m not inclined to advocate for it.  Plus, if the referees believe that the hit was premeditated, I can’t imagine they’d allow coach Mike D’Antoni to stay there to coach.  With a depleted bench, in a tough and tight series, the Suns need all the help their coach can give them.

#2, however, I have to say, “No, no, no!”  Game 5 is in Phoenix.  That’s your home team.  They paid a lot of money to see you play hard and win basketball games.  If this was a game in San Antonio, I could actually see this.  If their team doesn’t want to play clean, then their fans don’t get the benefit of a good game.  But in front of your own fans, your home crowd, you don’t do that. 

The only thing to really do–the thing I expect the Suns to attempt–is just to beat the Spurs, decisively, in Game 5.  Nothing says “fuck you,” like David whipping Goliath.  Take the 3 games to 2 lead, then bring back the big guns. 

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Fact or Fiction

The Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)- AIDS theory….that’s an incredibly contentious issue. I don’t pretend to be a biologist or epidemiologist, but I do have to say that I find the theory interesting. Recently, I finished reading The River by Edward Hooper after two years of trying to get through it. College kept getting in the way. Now college is over, and the book likewise, so I have, for you, a short, amateur critique of the book, its theory, and its agents.

The OPV-AIDS theory basically contends that the AIDS pandemic was an accidental, man-made disaster that was brought about by large polio vaccinations that took place in the late 1950s in the Belgian Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. The particular vaccine under suspicion is the CHAT vaccine created by Dr. Hilary Koprowski, a virologist and renowned scientist of the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Hooper suggests that chimpanzes were used for Monkey Kidney Tissue Cultures (MKTC) in order to create the vaccines. Koprowski and others involved refute this claim and say that African Green Monkeys were used although there is no hard, written evidence for either claim.

Nevertheless, Koprowski did create a chimp colony outside of Stanelyville (currently Kisangani) with the help of his friend, Ghislain Courtois, which housed between 400 and 600 chimps between 1956 and 1960. Koprowski suggests that these chimps were used for testing the polio vaccines and it’s effects and not for creating vaccine. However, with such a large, available pool of viable MKTC, it is hard to believe that a scientist would be able to resist. Especially in the era before we realized the dangers of using chimp MKTC.

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It’s That Time of Year

Every year, our favorite baseball writer, JoePo, writes up his “The Season Is Over!” column, and a few minutes are spent pondering the despair of fans a thousand miles away.

Well, that column arrived on Sunday. Sorry Royals fans.

Here’s a highlight, with Joe talking about the various aspects of the Kansas City last place standing:

Base running: One scout says the Royals do not have a single player on the team with above-major-league-average speed. Not one. The Royals have made up for this liability by running into a lot of outs. The best/worst so far happened earlier in the week against Oakland when Peña was on second and a fly ball was hit just behind the bag. Oakland second baseman Mark Ellis caught the ball about 30 feet behind the bag, and Peña, for reasons that will only be apparent to him, decided to tag up and force a throw. He did force it — Ellis threw the ball to the pitcher covering second, and he tagged out Peña.

The replays showed that Peña was probably not out — the tag was late. But Buddy Bell did not argue the call, and afterward, he offered my favorite quote of 2007. He said, “I don’t argue for stupid baseball.”

(As I was writing that, Esteban German got doubled up when Grudzielanek hit a routine fly ball to right field. Unlike Peña, he was definitely out.)

You can read the rest of it here.


Filed under Baseball, Print

GoodEnough: One Up and One Over

docgoodensmall.jpgGoodEnough for Me is an on-going analysis of the rookie pitchers during the 2007 baseball season. The series was inspired by, and serves as companion piece to, The Extrapolater’s Smells Like Pujols series, which is taking a look at some of the top rookie position players. You can find Smells Like Pujols HERE.

I’ve tweaked the formulas on the chart just a bit, and as a result, I lowered all the scores a couple of rungs.  Putting that in perspective, a guy like Daisuke Matsuzaka had a phenomenal week.  Following last week’s abysmal outing on May 3rd, The Monster rebounded by allowing only 8 baserunners in 7 innings, and striking out 8, for his best performance since mid-April. 

Making an outstanding debut this week is 24-year-old Justin Germano, for San Diego.  His numbers are, amazingly, even better than  they are on the chart, because after a second start, Germano’s ERA is a miniscule 0.69.  If you look Germano up on his ESPN card, you’ll notice an interesting thing about him: yes, that’s a Phillies’ hat.  Adam Eaton has a 7.43 ERA.  The Phillies’ released him.  I’m not bitter.  Germano’s a groundball guy who hasn’t actually generated that many grounders this year.  Of course, he gets a nice buffer on those flyballs from playing in expansive PETCO Park.  He’s not striking anyone out so far, but not walking anyone either, and his defense is making plays behind him.  It’ll be interesting to see if he’s the real deal or if he’s just lucky. 

Washington is moving Levale Speigner from the ‘pen to the rotation.  Speigner’s ERA is above league average, but his other stats indicate bad things in the future.  Speigner’s K/BB ratio is 1/2.  That’s not a typo.  He’s got 12 walks in 14 1/3 innings, and only 6 strikeouts.  With a WHIP of nearly 2, being unfamiliar with Speigner on our leaderboard is not surprising, because, well, he’s not on it.  He’s going to have to really turn things around to give his team a chance to win.  If they even have a chance, anyway. 

One last item.  Added another stat to the chart, called FIPruns.  As well as I can understand it, FIPruns indicates how many runs above league average a pitcher has saved his team, based only his pitching and not on his defense.  Gooden saved his team 51 runs in 1984, so it’s unlikely that anyone is going to catch him, but it’ll be interesting to see who can approach him. 

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