Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Wilton North Report

The Wilton North Report was a show that I had never heard of by am now fascinated by due to this terrific first person history of the failed late-night show.

I also never knew that Conan O'Brien and Greg Daniels (King of the Hill, The Office, Parks and Recreation) started off as writing partners.

Very fun read - worth your time.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rain in the Summertime - The Alarm

This is a song you don't hear much anymore. Whatever happened to The Alarm?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Jacoby Ellsbury was taken in the same draft and round as the Nationals Ryan Zimmerman but while Zimmerman will be the face of the Nationals for years to come - Ellsbury will most likely leave Boston after this season as a free agent... 10 secrets of flight attendants...  Not a fan of snuff films but I would pay money to see Giants coach Tom Coughlin beat the Geico caveman to death with a bat... Let us not forget that Saddam Hussein was a New York Yankees fan... Charles During really was something special... How come none of the Boston sportswriters can get me an update on the status of Tom Brady's playoff beard?... This is what I really wanted for Christmas but once again did not get... There is a fish that survives dangers by hiding in the anus of a sea cucumber. The fish is called the Pearl Fish but I like to think of it as the Jimmy Carter Fish...  This is pretty amusing... If I had a business - I'd add a small charge to each invoice for "opaque retraction". Who would complain? Those small charges would add up... Best pole dance move ever!... Ball peen hammer sounds like it should be some sort of sex act. Is the word "peen" ever used in any other context?... With this cast - how could this movie not be great?... Nice math trick - if you divide 1 by 998,001 you get all three digit numbers from 000 to 999 in order... Funny or creepy? I saw a lawn care company truck that had a bumper sticker that said "Time to Trim Your Bush"...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movie Characters Doing Lionel Richie's Hello

Hello from Matthijs_Vlot on Vimeo.

Movie characters doing Lionel Richie's Hello was one of the best things of 2012.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Here Comes the Sun - The Lost George Harrison Guitar Solo

George Harrison was my favorite Beatle.

Rolling in the Deep on Bells

Very cool - and mesmorizing.

Top 5 - Otters in US History

Here are what I consider to be the Top 5 Otters in US history. List in reverse order of significance:

5. Obadiah Otter - he was a curious otter who happened upon the Donner Party in 1846. These were the first humans Obadiah ever encountered and as it worked out also the last. He is historically significant because he kept the Donner Party from resorting to cannibalism (for an additional 36 hours).

4. Jeremiah Otter - his wife and adopted son were killed by a Crow Indian raiding party. He spent the rest of his life tracking down Crow Indians and ripping out their necks while they slept. He became a Rockie Mountain legend and some say a myth. Some even say he's up in those mountains still.

3.  Sergeant York Otter - while it was widely reported that the Navy experimented with strapping bombs to dolphins it is lesser known that the Army had a similar project utilizing otters. Sergeant York Otter was named after the WWI hero and died during a training accident.

2. Sacagawea Otter - the only female otter on the list. She was the mascot of the Lewis and Clark expedition party until she was killed by Meriwether Lewis and her pelt was exchanged for some corn meal.

1. Bedford Otter - this otter is significant because as a youth he used to live in a pond in Bedford Falls and one winter when he was young he was poking around under the ice to the point where he caused a few cracks.  These cracks broke when a young Harry Bailey was sledding onto the ice. In one timeline Harry's older brother George was able to save Harry but in another timeline George wasn't around to save Harry. In a third less publicized timeline - Bedford Otter didn't nose around under the ice and Harry never fell into the icy waters. In that timeline George Bailey was a whole lot less necessary to the happiness of Bedford Falls.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

F. Scott and Zelda Fotzgerald doing a Christmas morning dance with their daughter in 1925. More classic Christmas images at Mental Floss.

Detailed View of the Sistine Chapel

Very detailed virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.

Pretty inspiring way to spend part of your Christmas Day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Causes of Death in America

Interesting chart detailing the causes of death in America since 1970.

My main takeaway from the chart is the fact that all causes of death seem to be trending downward except suicide. So does that mean that if you expanded the chart into the future that eventually all causes of death will reach zero and the only way to die will be to kill yourself?

Only in America!

The Christmas Truce

Very interesting bit of history. Be sure to watch till the end for the reminder that war is hell.

HT Mental Floss

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting and thought I'd share.

- In defense of Red Sox mediocre off-season moves.

- This could be a better combination than chocolate and peanut butter. Timothy Olyphant to guest star on Archer.

- Holy crap! Exploding killer lakes! A lake "exploded" in 1986 and killed 1,700 and I never heard about it till now.

- I wish this honest man Godspeed!

- 11 ways to save money in 2013

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top 5 - Sunday Morning Baseball Questions

Here are my Top 5 baseball questions I'm asking myself this Sunday morning (in reverse order of importance).

5. How come the Red Sox didn't make a qualifying offer to Cody Ross? Boston strategy this off-season has been to over-pay but go for shorter terms. You can't get much shorter term than a one-year qualifying offer. They would have had to pay him $13 million for that season but if they are willing to pay that to Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino for longer contracts wouldn't a one-year deal offer make sense to Ross? Did the Red Sox cost themselves either a power bat at Fenway or a draft pick here?

4. Even more puzzling is why the Nationals didn't offer Edwin Jackson a qualifying offer?

3. The Indians signed Nick Swisher to a 4-year $56 million contract. The signing will cost Cleveland a draft pick which makes me wonder if the Tribe would have been better off using the money they spent on Swisher to have instead kept Shin-Soo Choo? I know that Choo's agent is Scott Boras which means he probably would have gone to free-agency instead but it doesn't stop me from wondering.

2. Why did the Red Sox sign Shane Victorino to such a big contract? I'll be scratching my head over that for some time to come.

1. Why did Ryan Freel kill himself? Let me echo Roco Baldelli - "Lets pay better attention to the ones we love."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Joe Strummer - RIP

Joe Strummer died 10-years ago today. This video seemed a proper tribute.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

What if the Mayan Apocalypse was actually The Rapture and we are all still here because we are bad people? Have any really holy people gone missing in the last 24 hours?... Very cool - a knuckleball in slow motion... I saw a bus with "Do Not Pass on Right" written on the bumper. Is that a law? Or can I put that on my bumper too?... Speaking of very cool - on this day in 1970... There should be a Cracker Barrel prevention hotline that gives people options of much better restaurants in the area... Thanks Obama! The Feds shut down a $200,000 NFL survivor pool. I'd be pretty pissed if I was in that pool...  Michael Buble singing Santa Baby is beyond creepy... lists Jacoby Ellsbury's nickname as "Tacoby Bellsbury". That has to be some sort of inside joke for the staff... Jimmie Kimmel's year in unnecessary censorship... 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

State of the Red Sox

This blog will from time to time give to his readers information on the state of the Red Sox. Today is one of those times.

I've been trying to make sense out of the moves the Red Sox have been making in the off-season. When you look at the moves as a whole then only one thing makes sense - there's another shoe (or shoes) to drop. Let me explain.

Shane Victorino? This signing makes no sense except in the light that the signing allows the Red Sox to trade Jacoby Ellsbury. Torii Hunter would have been a much better fit for Fenway's right field but Victorino is a better fit in center. For the record - I would have preferred to milk Ellsbury for one last year and then let him walk as a free agent and pocket the draft pick compensation. Ellsbury has Scott Boras as an agent is is almost a certainty to sign elsewhere next winter so the Red Sox may think getting out from under a potential over-bidding war now would be the best move.

Keep in mind that Ellsbury was originally drafted with the pick the Red Sox got for losing Orlando Cabrera to the Angels and that his eventual replacement - Jackie Bradley Jr. was a compensation pick for the Red Sox losing Adrian Beltre. So they must know the value of these compensation picks but have decided to trade Ellsbury anyway. (All the recent articles saying Ellsbury isn't on the trading block probably means that Ellsbury is on the trading block.)

Stephen Drew makes Jose Iglesias expendable. The Red Sox top prospect is SS Xander Bogaerts who is probably a year or two away from the bigs. Iglesias has unbelievable fielding ability but very little in the bat department. Still he has trade value and signing Drew will allow them to move Iglesias.

Signing catcher David Ross makes Jarrod Saltalamacchia a trade chip. Pairing Ross with Ryan Lavarnway makes the most sense. Waiting to see where AJ Pierzynski signs to maximize Salty's trade value also makes sense.

I see the signing of Ryan Dempster as the replacement of Josh Beckett's innings and productivity at about half the cost. Good move (would have preferred Dan Haren but who am I?). The signing gives the Red Sox a rotation of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey and either Franklin Morales or Felix Doubront. Either Franklin or Felix easily could be turned into a trade chip.

To a lesser degree the signing of Koji Uehara also makes Daniel Bard expendable.

What could be holding up any moves is the signing of Mike Napoli. With Napoli in the fold the Red Sox would be able to take calls on Ellsbury with Iglesias, Saltalamacchia, Franklin Morales, and Daniel Bard as additional chips. It should be noted that the Red Sox have a pretty stocked bullpen and this is the time of year when teams start looking to fill holes in theirs.

Just throwing this out there but how about a trade that sends Andre Ethier and Chris Capuano from the Dodgers for Saltalamachia, Franklin Morales and a top prospect or two?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mandatory Voting

George Will has a column about Eric Holder supposedly supporting mandatory voter registration or possibly mandatory voting. George Will does a nice job explaining why this would be a bad idea. However, I would support the notion of mandatory registration or voting if it meant candidates worth voting for. I would support three caveats to the mandatory voting idea:

1. Each candidate for Federal office would first have to pass the same test that immigrants have to pass in order to become citizens. This would accomplish two things - it would insure that the people running for office have some basic idea of what this country is all about and frankly it would also help weed out the morons.

2. Institute a hypocrisy law where if an office holder is found guilty of a crime that publicly was against - then that office holder would get ten-times the normal penalty. For example if a Congressman was advocating stricter gun laws but was caught trying to get a handgun through airport security or say a Congressman helped pass stricter IRS penalties but then was found to be cheating on his taxes - ten-times the penalty.

3. Any claim against a Congressman, Senator, Cabinet Member or President automatically gets sent to the Supreme Court for resolution.

I don't think that mandatory voting passes the common sense smell test but my three suggestions do - which means they would never get passed by Congress.


Here's three science related articles I've read in the past 24 hours that are worth a read.

- How what you smell can affect what you see. Learned about "binocular rivalry" and the fact that in addition to "right brain / left brain" there is also a corresponding "right nostril / left nostril".

- Cicadas' cycles control their predators. Very interesting but article raised more questions than it answered (but doesn't all good science do that?).

- Why taking antibiotics is like swallowing a hand-grenade.  Interesting history of antibiotics as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Holy Sh*t!!

Golden Eagle tries to snatch a kid.

EDIT: Is the video a fake?

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Love learning new words. Some of these I knew but others I will try to add to my vocabulary... Saw The Hobbit on opening night. Three things you should know: 1. the book is being broken into two movies which is OK because Tolkein packed a lot of action into that book, 2. the movie is close to 3 hours long (go to the bathroom before the movie!) and 3. some changes were made from the book - how you view these changes will affect how you feel about the movie... O Chemistree, O Chemistree... If you replace the word "ham" with the word "condoms" then Green Eggs and Ham becomes a very strange gay cruising book... Here's a geeky question that bothers me - if you poked out one of Wolverine's eyes would it grow back?... Here's a geeky joke to go with that geeky question: Two chemists walk into a bar - the first orders H2O, the second orders H2O too. The second chemists dies... As a reminder Rex Ryan needs to win the last game of the season to equal Herm Edwards 4-year record with the Jets. If anyone out there still thinks Ryan should keep his job - let that stat sink in...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Peanut Friends TV Show

Here's an idea for a TV show - take the format of the show Friends (including opening song and everything) but instead of the cast of Friends you'd have a real-life grown up versions of Charles Shulz' Peanuts characters.

Instead of a coffee shop - most of the action would take place at a piano bar with Schroeder being the "piano man". Lucy van Pelt, despite having a Ph. D in psychology, is the hostess at the piano bar restaurant (just to be close to Schroeder). Each week Lucy could give an psychoanalysis of whatever issue one of the gang is dealing with. Sort of a running gag. Schroeder could insist everyone call him "maestro" as a Seinfeld shout-out.

Charlie Brown's sister Sally could be played by a blonde hottie and the character would be sort of a slut. His best friend, Linus van Pelt could be played by one of The Big Bang actors who could geek slap big sister Lucy any time one of her on the spot psychoanalytical diagnosis makes no logical sense.

Peppermint Pattie and Marcie would, of course, be lesbians. Maybe Sue Lynch for Pattie and KD Lang for Marcie? Pig Pen could be a recovering drug addict. How could this not work?

And for Charlie Brown - I picture a younger version of Paul Giamatti. I would seriously watch this show if it were ever made.

EDIT: Literally less than an hour after writing the above I saw this Charlie Brown as Louie video. Too funny!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bane Out-takes

Some spoilers f you haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Awesome Office Notes

These were pretty funny.

My productivity died an early death this Monday morning because of these. Be forewarned.

Royals / Rays Trade

Jeff Passan (a favorite) has a very good breakdown of the big trade that just sent James Shields to the Royals and uber prospect Wil Myers to the Rays.

This trade very much reminds me of the trade that send Josh Beckett to the Red Sox and uber prospect Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins. That trade ended up being a win for both teams. The Red Sox got a final piece that allowed them to meet their goal of winning the World Series while the Marlins got a young superstar under team control. The extra piece that ended up giving value way beyond what was expected in that trade was Mike Lowell who would go on to become the World Series MVP for Boston. Wade Davis is giving off that vibe for me in this trade for Kansas City. Please note that I'm not saying Shields is the final piece for a Royals World Series - their goal is simply to be competitive in the AL Central and I think this trade helps them with that goal.

It should also be noted that if sabermetric GM Theo Epstein was in place at the time for Boston then that trade may never have happened and the Red Sox could still be searching for their second Series win. Point is sometimes sabermetrics doesn't tell the whole story. I consider myself a stats guy but I also realize that games aren't won on the spreadsheet.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Fairytale of New York

Perhaps my favorite Christmas song and one of the ones nobody seems to play.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Watched the Pacquiao-Marquez fight while at a poker game. Everyone who had money on the fight (including me) thought Marquez was going to win this time... On this day in history in 1941 - Bob Feller becomes the first major league baseball player to enlist after Pearl Harbor. More than anything that he did on the field - it was this act that Ted Williams always associated most with Feller (and perhaps the thing he was most jealous of)... Interesting look back at The Sopranos by Alan Sepinwall. Put me in the camp who is more curious about what happened to the Russian that whether Tony lived or died at the end... When Marquez knocked out Pacquiao some at the poker table thought he might be dead. Seriously... Ken Levine decodes Hollywood-speak... Hipsters may think they invented snark but that was the name of author Jack London's sailboat over a hundred years ago...Oyster Pirates would be a good name for a band...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Thoughts on Red Sox Moves at Winter Meetings

Here are my thoughts regarding the roster moves the Boston Red Sox have made regarding the Winter meetings:

1. I'm a little ambivalent regarding signing Mike Napoli. Three-years $39 million seems a bit much but I've decided to look at the bright side of this signing - Napoli will give the Red Sox about the same OPS in 2013 that the Yankees will get out of Mark Teixeira but at half the price.
2. I hate the Shane Victorino signing. Hate it. 100% agree with Kirk Minihane that it was a mistake. Let me ask you two questions - how is Victorino better than Torii Hunter who got two-years $26 million from the Tigers? The Red Sox would have been so much better off giving Hunter two-years and $30 million than signing Victorino. Much better off. Secondly - how is Victorino even an upgrade over Ryan Kalish? Hate this move.
3. David Ortiz has to be wondering WTF? The Red Sox squeeze Ortiz trying to avoid giving him a multi-year deal and then turn around and sign Napoli and Victorino to more years and the same per year salaries? The optics are bad by management.
4. The Red Sox should have done more to sign Dan Haren. Maybe a two-year $26 million deal would have worked. The money they spent on Victorino would have been much better used on Haren in my opinion. Opportunity missed here.

If the Red Sox had signed Torii Hunter and Dan Haren - I'd be pretty excited about the Sox right now. Instead they signed Napoli and Victorino and I'm honestly left scratching my head.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Killing Them Softly

Saw the movie Killing Them Softly last Friday and to say it was a disappointment would be an understatement. The movie, it seemed, tried to be one part Trainspotting, one part crime documentary and one part political commentary and when put together - it just didn't work.

I had read the book the movie was based on - Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins - so I had no trouble following the plot but the person I was with had not read the book and was thoroughly confused. I liked the book and was looking forward to the movie but there were certain aspects and dialogue from the book that never should have made it to the screen but there it was.

Then you had the political commentary. Speeches by George W. Bush, Senator Barack Obama and others were cut into the film or playing in the background for what purpose I couldn't tell you. George V. Higgins' main message from the book was that criminals are stupid. The movie seemed to try and make some sort of metaphor between crime and the banking crisis.

My recommendation for this movie is simple - if you haven't read the book - save your money. And if you have read the book - save your money.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Renaming Omaha to Obama

This petition for the Obama Administration to authorize construction of a Death Star by 2016 got me thinking.

The petition is completely tongue-in-cheek. Nobody really expects the authorization of a Death Star to be taken seriously. What if you had a petition that was so tongue-in-cheek that some people would be completely taken in by it?

Some people really love Barack Obama. According to some Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan were pikers in comparison to "the One".  What I'd suggest is a petition to rename Omaha, Nebraska to Obama, Nebraska. Stirring the pot I'd suggest that all it would take to properly honor this great President is losing an "H", adding a "B" and moving an "M". What's the big deal? Who could be against something so simple?

Some Democratic Congressmen and women would almost certainly be so enamored by the idea that they would introduce resolutions to Congress. The people of Nebraska - I'm guessing no so much enamored. And the more the people of Nebraska would dig in against the change the more the Obamafiles would push for its adoption.

Oh I wish I could make this happen.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Heh heh - I don't condone what happened to these PETA protesters but if you think throwing water balloons of fake blood and yelling things at a biker gang is a good idea - well let's just hope they learned their lesson (and yes I realize this happened in August but it is cold today and I needed a good laugh to keep me warm)...  Well if you say so... Should be pointed out that Adderall is big among poker players because it both gives them energy but also gives them focus. Think of it this way - each hand of poker is like a snap in football... There really is NO EXCUSE for Marvin Miller not being in the Baseball Hall of Fame... The average age of members of the Rolling Stones is over 68-years old. The average age of the members of the Supreme Court is over 66-years old.... How funny would it be if we find out Chris Brown was all and act and that his real manager is Andy Kaufman who faked his death. That would be the greatest story of all time.

Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens

I thought Tommy Hanson and Jair Jerrjens would become the cornerstones of the Braves starting staff. Today neither player is even on Atlanta's roster. Hanson was traded to the Angels for reliever Jordan Walden. Meanwhile Jurrjens was simply released.

I know the Braves are pitching rich but it seems like they got very little in return for players who just two years ago would have garnered at least top prospects. I know that both players have struggled with injuries but it still seems strange.

It also makes me think that maybe the Red Sox look at Hanson and Jurrjens and think Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester.

EDIT: It looks like Red Sox GM is "open-minded" about trading Lester.