Sign Language For Dummies

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Baseball went to the mattresses this month in a bloodletting that leaves three franchises in limbo on the heels of the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.

As a result, Houston fired its manager and general manager. Boston fired its skipper, Alex Cora, who had served as bench coach for Houston and is suspected of using nefarious means to steal signs while in Boston as well. And the New York Mets Carlos Beltran stepped down before ever managing a single game.

If you’re not down with the latest MLB ordeal, it’s really quite simple. The Astros stole signs, which is something that’s been going on since rawhide was invented. Only difference is, they created an elaborate system of video monitoring, which had been banned by the league prior to these actions. During home games, they had someone watching a video monitor and banging a trash can to signal what pitch was coming for Astros hitters. When world class hitters are accorded that kind of 411, it becomes batting practice. Hence all the heads that have rolled, and all the many heads that are teetering nervously in anticipation of being found out.

So yeah, Houston does indeed have a problem, and you can expect every away game on their schedule to become an episode of American Horror Story. I’m pretty sure they should forfeit their three game series in New York in late September, unless they’re curious as to what Fallujah looks like in the fall.

They had us all fooled, yours truly included. Hell, back in October, I included the Astros in my Heroes World Series edition saying “. . . The Houston Astros have done just about everything right over the last five seasons . . .” Fucking guys.

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Sports is supposed to be an escape from the everyday world of taxes, transit strikes, unpopular general elections and shitty roads. But seeing as how sports is made up of fallible participants, the odds are not always in our favor.

In fact, professional sports has a long and sullied history of scandal and controversy. In basketball, there was referee Tim Donaghy’s game fixing scandal. Hockey saw the Edmonton Oilers trade Wayne Gretzky to America, shortly after which it became illegal for Canadian teams to win the Stanley Cup . . . I think. And in football, you have the New England Patriots.

Baseball’s got all of them beat. There is one hundred years worth of unfortunate events tucked in its seams. From the 1919 Black Sox scandal to Pete Rose being banned from baseball for gambling on games to the steroid era to this month’s sign stealing revelations involving the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox.

The truly unique aspect regarding the sport formerly known as America’s Pastime is that time seems to romanticize (or monetize) most of its wounds. Countless books have been written and several movies have been made about the 1919 White Sox fixing the World Series. And while the steroid era will always be a blight to fans of a certain age, the dirty truth is that it produced a tsunami of green. Player salaries grew exponentially as a result of tainted numbers while owners took full advantage of an explosive revenue stream by creating their own television networks. Welp, at least Commissioner Bud Selig fought to preserve the integrity of the game . . .

So even out of worst case scenarios, baseball usually figures out a win. Can you imagine a real life tragedy being romanticized to the tune of billions of dollars? Oh wait . . I forgot about James Cameron.

This latest scandal is already going next gen with crazy accusations about Astros players wearing electronic devices during games. It’s like Bad News Bears meets MacGyver meets The Wire meets Are you kidding me with this shit?  But that’s okay because player agent Scott Boras insists that his client- Jose Altuve- never used an electronic device. Which should put these rumors to sleep since no player agent has ever told a lie about their client, ever.

Of course, as sports scandals are wont to do, this has peeps feeling all sorts of ways . . most of them homicidal. The Astros are the latest Public Enemy Number One to come down the sporting pike, and it doesn’t get any more vitriolic than the text my friend sent to me yesterday morning when we were discussing Sign-Gate. He had some . . uh . . sharply fashioned thoughts as per Houston’s diminutive shortstop, Jose Altuve.

That little fucker should quit baseball and become a jockey. 

I should note my friend is a Dodgers fan. And a gambler. So, yanno . . when he’s hurt he says things he doesn’t really mean. Even though he really means them.

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All kidding aside (for a moment), I really hope the Astros don’t suck this season. As much as the Yankees fan in me wants to see them win eighty five games and miss the playoffs, the baseball fan in me wants to see them make another run at October. Because it would prove how good this club truly was/is, and that it didn’t need to resort to Nixonian tactics. It would serve to remind us once again that no player or team will ever be above the game. And it will provide a much needed respite to Astros fans, who waited fifty five years to celebrate a championship and now are left to wonder what it all meant. They deserve better than what they’ve gotten, I do know that much.

Perhaps the biggest irony is that for all the video recording and trash can banging the Astros were utilizing, their home field advantage meant bupkis in the World Series last October. They became the first team in World Series history to lose all four games played in their home park.

It was as if the baseball Gods were taking out the trash.

 

 

 

 

Alec Baldwin Does Shakespeare

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Thank you for joining us for another episode of Monsterpiece Theater. Tonight we have invited the legendary Alec Baldwin to the stage. Mr Baldwin will be providing a refreshing new take on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. We ask that you refrain from taking photographs during the performance, since this would necessitate a 911 call on your behalf.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? You better fucking believe it, sweetheart.

Thou art more lovely and more temperate and way hotter than that heatwave last summer that melted my balls like nobody’s business.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, and they can be a bigger pain in the ass than a piece of shit paparazzi chasing me down on a coffee run.

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. A shorter date than most of the dates I went on when I first got to Hollywood. Fucking town . . .

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, but heaven has nothing on the set of boobs I bought you. And yeah . . you’re welcome.

And often is his gold complexion dimmed; dimmed . . like a writers meeting on SNL with a bunch of virgin pricks who act like they invented comedy.

And every fair from fair sometime declines, like this Colbert asshole calling me angry. Me! Just wait until his career’s in the toilet and he’s calling me for help with the rent . . .

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; like my hedges. What? You thought I was gonna say my balls? Get the fuck outta here!

But thy eternal summer shall not fade, but I’m fucking tell you . . Colbert’s popularity will.

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, because you’re more fun than being chased by cops on the BQE.

Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, the way I brag about getting you in the sack.

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. And yeah, I got a dick joke but I’m holding onto it. The joke . . not my dick.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, and knees can buckle under the swing of a Louisville Slugger . . .

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. And now I gotta take a piss because this Diet Coke goes right through me.

IQ, So You Don’t Have To!

I read an interesting piece in Smithsonian Magazine about how often smart people get things wrong, and it got me thinking. Which is always a risky proposition. So I did a little digging to find some examples, and mango . . they were everywhere!

TESS is our space program’s satellite that searches for exoplanets hiding underneath our cosmic shag rug. They recently found TOI 700 d, which they describe as a habitable-ish planet that is a hundred  light years away. So while the research is kitschy, the reality is that we ain’t backing up the moving vans. And it begs the question as to why all the smart people here at home are sweeping our habitat under the carpet for the next generation to deal with.

What’s that you say? Looking for an example that’s a little less obscure? Okay, how’s about the fact that in 1932, Albert Einstein observed that nuclear energy will “never be attainable,”?

Or how about the Decca Recording Company’s decision not to sign four chaps from Liverpool to a record label back in 1962 because they claimed their sound would never work . . . less than two years before the British Invasion changed music forever.

Variety magazine predicted that Rock and Roll would be gone by June . . of 1955.

In 1830, Dr. Dionysius Lardner predicted rail travel at high speeds wasn’t possible because passengers would “die of asphyxia”.

Napoleon Bonaparte sniffed at Robert Fulton’s steamboat, calling it “nonsense”.

HG Wells claimed that submarines would never work in practice.

I checked out three of the biggest names in the NFL mock draft business, and the ‘winner’ scored twenty two percent on his 2019 picks.

Those mock experts are not alone. To wit, let’s look at five of the all time greatest passers in NFL history as an example. NFL general managers passed over Aaron Rodgers 21 times, Dan Marino 26 times, Drew Brees 31 times, Joe Montana 81 times and Tom Brady 198 times.

Most every sportswriter was picking the 2003 Lakers to win it all, while not a single sportswriter picked the 1969 Mets.

And if you’re like . . it’s sports! Who cares? Okay then, let’s look at a couple of political predictions for a moment.

In 1936, the American weekly Literary Digest predicted Republican Alf Landon would defeat Theodore Roosevelt. Apologies to Mr Landon, but he’s not even the most famous Alf in American pop culture. And do we really need to be reminded why Truman is holding that newspaper?

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And so yeah . . that was forever ago and technology changed everything. So let’s remember back to Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight giving Hilary Clinton a 69% chance of winning the 2016 Presidential Election. Old Nate wasn’t alone . . not by a long shot.

Speaking of technology, smart people get it wrong all the time. Darryl Zanuck was a pioneer of the Motion Picture Industry who helped blaze the trail from silent film to Technicolor. As such, he didn’t consider television to be a threat in the least. In 1946, he said Americans would get tired of staring at a plywood box in no time at all.

In 1966, Time Magazine observed that remote shopping was entirely feasible, but that it would flop. And in 2006, David Pogue of the New York Times predicted Apple would ‘probably never’ come out with a cell phone.

Homer said the world was flat. Mathematical economist Irving Fisher said the economy was a round bubble that would never burst . . three days before the stock market collapse of 1929.

Lots of smart people derided the Wright Brothers idea of flight, and a lot of those same smart people claimed the Titanic was unsinkable when it set sail from Southampton, England.

So the moral of the story is that you’re never as smart as you think you are, but don’t worry. Neither is anyone else.

 

 

 

 

First Draft Horoscopes- Capricorn

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This is the year when you get in sync with friends and family. Like . . seriously. It’s going to matter to you this year, so brush up on names and new spouses by making a chart.

And not to sound like a greeting card, but can you try and keep some cheer in this new year? When the shit hits the fan, try and suppress your desire to shoot the fan . . . twelve times. The way you shot your ex twelve times when you found them in bed with someone else. Thank God your Uncle Sal has a soft spot for you and was able to rig the jury, but yanno . . he ain’t getting any younger so chill with the firearms?

Here’s a novel thought. Why not simply enjoy the company and wisdom of your posse, and while you’re at it, impart your wisdom on them as well. Or take them out to dinner once a month and don’t be a cheapskate with the friendly drinks. Either or.

Make vivaciousness your jam, just hold the histrionics. February might be a challenge when it comes to cash flow, but you can navigate the ebbs without skimming ATM’s for your cream and sugar. As for exercise, practice moderation and sensibility. No more staying out all night and then signing up for a marathon in the morning because “it was calling me,”. Just remember those EMT’s who were calling you away from the light when you didn’t make it out of mile three without collapsing, coo?

October will bring great challenges and worthwhile lessons . . so think jello shot contests and DUI checks and maybe practice some temperance for a change. November will bring increased responsibilities at work, unless that meme you posted about your boss on Facebook gets found.

This can be a magnificent year as long as you don’t fuck it up!

Heroes Of The Week! (2020 Edition)

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With a new year comes a new meme. We are already three days into a new decade, so trash that crash diet, ditch the money pit matchmaking sites and make sustainable resolutions that actually pay you back instead. A top five list from yours truly? Sure why not . . .

My 2020 . . . Umm . . . Resolutions

-Swear smarter
-No Speedos
-Sign any petitions involving the dissolution of the Hallmark Channel
-No kale
-No Chick-fil-A

That’s how you resolution, kids. And now your heroes . . .

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies who made Christmas possible for a little boy and his mother when they learned the two have been going through some hard times. The deputies showed up with lights flashing. They gifted mother and son a Christmas tree, shoes, clothes, toys and some gift cards. They were delivered straight from the North Pole, of course. Straight from the heart? Absolutely.

US Army veteran Jamie Willis has been raising cane since 2016 when he started Canes For Veterans Central TexasThe dude served eight years before becoming permanently disabled and unable to work. The cane Veterans Affairs gave him wasn’t doing the job, so he reached out to the Florida organization Free Canes For VeteransThe founder- Oscar Morris- told Willis they had run out of canes, but he taught him how to make his own. An idea was born.

“I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself,” Willis says. “This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”

Willis recycles donated Christmas trees, and so far he’s delivered more than two hundred canes to veterans around the world. Home Depot donated more than four hundred trees to his effort, with another hundred coming from the community at large. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Needless to say, incarceration isn’t exactly a resume builder. So what to do if you’re a former felon who wants a job and a normal life but can’t find it? Greg Boylea Jesuit priest out of Los Angeles, set out to provide an answer to that question. In 1988, with the help of his parish as well as community members, Boyle started Jobs For A Future. The hope was to provide a bridge to a better life for young people who had gotten caught up in the gang culture that dominated the landscape.

Thirty years later, Homeboy Industries is a global force; hailed as the most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. It provides help for more than ten thousand men and women looking to pick up the pieces and start anew. Jacques Deval once wrote of how man’s love of birds led him to build cages. Whereas God’s love of birds led to the invention of trees. (Thank you to Frank for this story).

The restaurant biz is crazy enough without being left to run the place yourself. Especially if your gig is at Waffle House . . at some time past midnight . . with a restaurant full of hungry patrons looking to get their waffle on. Which is what happened recently to a kid we’ll call Ben- because that’s his name.

Thanks to a scheduling gaffe, Ben was left to run the place all by his lonesome. Now, I don’t know about you but if you ask me to make a waffle, Imma be preoccupied with doing that and only that. Which doesn’t include waiting tables, making coffee or running register. So the kid was in a panic, and can you blame him?

And then a customer grabbed an apron and began helping with orders. And then another customer began making coffee and waiting tables. And before you know it, the place was fully staffed. A crisis was averted and Ben was gifted a moment he’ll not soon forget. The moral of the story is that when your patience is wearing thin, make waffles. (Thank you to the lovely Q for this story).

Pixie Adams believes in healthy competition; the kind to which you bust it every day in a race to win the day. But ‘healthy’ means mindful . . as per the context of real life issues that transcend bottom lines. Adams runs the Moonlight Coffee Cafe in Oak Grove Portland, and when she learned the plight of one of her competitors, she went to work. For them.

Dave McAdams runs The Local Coffee Company with his wife Tina. At least until he was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. It’s inoperable and it’s terminal and now he will be put into hospice to live out the remainder of his days. So Pixie donned an apron and kept the place going while Tina tends to her husband, because she didn’t want her to lose the business.

“It’s supposed to be friendship over business, community over competition,” Pixie Adams says. “I am here supporting them, trying to generate attention for their business to help make sure that after Dave is gone, they still have the ability to keep the coffee place open.”

For some people, winning doesn’t preclude humanity. It welcomes it.

Plus vs Minus

On my old blog, I used to dish up an annoyances post. It was a Molotov cocktail of inelegance aimed at all the many things that tend to piss me off. And if you didn’t know better, you’d have thought I was some kind of misanthrope who had an issue with every single thing. And you’d have been half right.

For this rebooted “Annoyances”, the sunny side of the street gets the primo parking space. Because my therapist thought it was a good idea if I stress the positives and minimize the negatives. Here then, is the pilot episode of something I’d liked to call “Plus vs Minus”.

Plus- Homemade Mac and Cheese takes some time, and more butter than I’m comfortable admitting, but it’s so damned worth it. I do mine up with butter (never margarine), milk, heavy cream, cheddar and one other cheese (I used Jarlsberg this time). To make the roux, you need to grate your cheeses . . . no shortcuts. I top it off with thinly sliced tomatoes and then sprinkle bread crumbs dredged in olive oil and grated Parmesan on top of that.

Minus- As much as I dig it, I have to steer clear of boxed mac and cheese for a good month after partaking of the real stuff.

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Plus- Peloton Mamas with Ryan Reynolds riding shotgun. 

Minus– Peloton Mamas riding solo.

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Plus- Adult beverages.

Minus- Bud Light Seltzer. Because they didn’t fuck up beer enough.

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Plus- The movie Cats. I went to see it with the girl and we loved it. It’s the musical and okay, it goes heavy on the CGI, but this did nothing to detract from the fact that it’s the musical delivered up in theater format.

Minus– Not sure what the peeps who bashed this movie were smoking. Because did I mention it was the musical?

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Plus- Trump’s impeachment defense ain’t gonna be a cakewalk with the revelation that he was freezing military aid to the Ukraine.

Minus- He’s probably gonna get off the hook anyway.

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Plus- Christmas movies. It’s the only time of the year when I’ll suffer Chevy Chase in those inane Vacation flicks, or Jamie Lee Curtis in a cardigan, or Vince Vaughn . . . at all. And this year brought a reboot of one of my favorite holiday movies ever- A Christmas Carol, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Minus- Hallmark Christmas movies. If you’ve seen the one with the big city exec who goes home for the holidays and falls in love with an old flame . . you’ve seen them all.

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Plus- The Miami Dolphins just had the most enjoyable 5-11 season ever. And they wrapped it in a bow by taking down the Patriots in the season finale; denying New England a first round bye for the first time in ten seasons.

Minus- The Patriots are still alive. And just like Michael Myers . . you gotta kill them, and then you gotta keep killing them . . just in case.

Welp, that’s just about a wrap for the 2010’s. May your pluses be plentiful and your minuses minimal inside the new year.

Peace and love . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas- By Christopher Walken

It was the night befah Christmas and all through my place,

Not a sound could be heard, nobody was showing their face;

My shotgun was hung over the chimney with care,

it was a prop from Deer Huntah . . . it looks really sharp there;

My cat Bowtie was snuggled all safe in his king sized bed,

because it’s good for his posture is what the wife said;

So my wife in her Burberry and me in my Gucci,

were watching some flick starring Stanley Tucci;

When out front in the yahd there arose such a racket,

I jumped out of bed and grabbed my leatha jacket;

I looked out the window but I couldn’t see a thing,

so I turned on my phone to check the app for my Ring;

My driveway looked like the fucking North Pole,

I’d have to call for a plow, and I hate that asshole!;

Then, what to my half drunken eyes should appear,

but some fat guy in a sleigh . . and horses . . that looked like something out of a musical;

With a snowy white bee-ahd that looked like St. Nick,

and a red bath robe that made him look like a total dick;

His horses were beauties, even if the antlers didn’t quite fit,

and then one of them decided to take a shit . . in my koi pond!;

Then the fat guy shouts, “Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen!”,

and I hadn’t felt that crazy since the time I voted for Nixon;

“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!”,

which meant my roof. Why the fuck didn’t he just say . . the roof?;

There were dry heaves before the the hurricane in my stomach got ready to fly,

So I grabbed some antacids because I felt like I was gonna die;

That’s when the nightmare musical landed up on the roof,

with a sleigh full of toys and this bearded fat goof;

My homeowners insurance was working overtime now,

and then the fat bastard yelled something like “Ow!”;

Next thing I know, he’s hurtling down the chimney and into my living room.

So I shot him.