Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Heh heh - good question

- I agree - England has lost its way

- Good advice. Mental model - Hanlon's Razor

- Holy F*CK! This would never work in Massachusetts

- Speaking of good questions

- Tips to get a perfect credit score.

Happy April 25th!


From the movie Miss Congeniality.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Modest Proposal

Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal involved starvation and surplus Irish babies. My Modest Proposal involves oil, Panera Bread, market economies and Bitcoin. Let me explain.

Venezuela is a complete mess - which is the ultimate end of all state run economies. I have a modest proposal to put the country back on the right track in just a few easy steps.

Step One - Venezuela sells the state owned oil company. Panera Bread was recently sold for $7 billion. If Panera is worth $7 billion then based upon the 4 economics classes I took in college then Venezuela's oil should be worth at least $17 billion.

Step Two - Supposedly there is a total of $17 billion in Bitcoin circulating on the Internet. Venezuela buys all the bitcoin with that oil sale money.

Step Three - There are roughly 31.5 million people in Venezuela. The government of Venezuela doles out all the bitcoin to each resident over a period of 5-years (60 months). Bitcoin becomes new state currency and each resident gets about $9,000 per month over the next 60 months. Residents under 18-years old could have their funds go into a trust that can be used for college education at age 18 or be given in full at age 21.

Boom! Instant market economy and prosperity! Plus the college degree incentive would help cement success for generations to come. What's not to like?

So let it be written - so let it be done!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shakespeare


Today is not just the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth (1564) but also his death (1616). On top of that - today is also Talk Like Shakespeare day. One of my favorite facts about Shakespeare was the fact that perhaps the greatest writer of all-time was married to a woman who could neither read nor write.

- 21 phrases people use without realizing they are quoting Shakespeare

- 11 strange Shakespeare adaptations. I'm actually interested in checking out The People vs Friar Laurence.

- 7 of Shakespeare's best dirty jokes

- The New York Public Library celebrates Shakespeare.

- How Shakespeare changed everything

- The Shakespeare insult generator

- The Big Lebowski written as a work of Shakespeare's

Friday, April 21, 2017

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Fire Grilled Turtles - band name or hipster entree?... Impressive!... Does it bother anyone else that nobody in the press seemed to ask where Syria got the poison gas in the first place? Didn't George W. Bush say that Iraq sent some of theirs into Syria to avoid inspectors? Why isn't that a bigger story?... Heh heh... Cult of Inhibitions - band name or all-inclusive resort?... This is going to put Match.com out of business... Just a reminder that one of the reasons the Broncos ran Josh McDaniels out of Denver was because he traded clubhouse cancer Jay Cutler... Sex Melon - band name or hipster cocktail?... I love the fact that Steelers fans have to live with the fact that Tim Tebow beat them in the playoffs...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Whither Jimmy Garoppolo

Here's what I think the Patriots will be doing with Jimmy Garoppolo.

First off they will not be trading him. The Patriots know what they have in Garoppolo and know he's both great insurance for 40-year old Tom Brady and also potentially their QB of the future. New England is the defending Super Bowl champions and their roster has actually gotten better this off-season. There is nothing a trade of Garoppolo would bring in return that would be more valuable to the team than what Garoppolo already represents.

The first two rounds of the NFL Draft are normally where teams find immediate starters. The Pats don't have any starting roles that really need to be filled. Maybe there's also no players that Bill Belichick thinks are worth trading into the first or second round to obtain either.

The third round on is where teams normally find roster depth. The Patriots are already a deep roster and they have picks from the third round on. No need to trade for "assets" here.

Now I've seen multiple sportswriters suggest that if New England wants to keep Jimmy Garoppolo after 2017 - then they "franchise tag" him after next season. I disagree with that view. Instead why wouldn't Bill Belichick offer Garoppolo a first round tender just like they did for Malcolm Butler?

If someone gives him an offer sheet then the team has the option to match it. Chances are great that the offer would be for multiple years at much less money than the franchise tag price. The teams who are most likely to make an offer are also likely to be the worst teams in the NFL with high first round draft positions. The Pats would then have the choice of matching the offer or getting a high first round draft pick which is more or what they could get if they traded Garoppolo today.

I could be all wet but this is what I see the Patriots doing with Jimmy Garoppolo.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I did not watch a single second of last night's Gonzaga/UNC game. Looks like I didn't miss much... Heh heh... I don't know how Tony Romo will do as a football announcer but I do know he has to be better than Phil Simms... Doesn't seem right but it is true... It needs to be asked - are the Harlem Globetrotters the best professional basketball team in NYC right now? Looking at you Knicks and Nets... I think one of the reasons I did not watch the game last night is because neither Gonzaga nor UNC covered the spread when I bet on them Saturday. Screw those guys...

Friday, March 31, 2017

Speaking of Christopher Walken



Christopher Walken reads Where the Wild Things Are.

Top 5 - Christopher Walken Movies

Happy 74th birthday to Christopher Walken. My favorite Walken movies:

1. The Dead Zone
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Suicide Kings
4. Biloxi Blues
5. The Deer Hunter 

His role in the 2002 Man on Fire almost makes the list just for the fact that the last thing he says in the movie is "I have nothing else to say." He meant that he had no more lines in the script but the director left it in the final cut. 

Rene Descartes

On this day in 1596 Rene Descartes was born. There aren't many Rene Descartes jokes but this is my favorite:
Rene Descartes walks into a bar. The bartender asks, "Can I get you a drink?" Descartes replies, "I think not" and disappears.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Importance of a Single Vote

On this date in 1867 the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for the price of $7 million which worked out to about $.02 per acre. This purchase was known at the time as Seward's Folly after Secretary of State William Seward who arranged the purchase. Seward was also in charge of trying to get the Senate to ratify the treaty authorizing the purchase. The treaty was ratified on April 9th but it passed by a single vote. 

Think of that. If one person changed their vote from yes to no - Alaska might not be part of the US today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Iwo Jima


On this day in History in 1945, US Marines repel a last ditch 200-300 man Japanese suicide attack on Iwo Jima and the battle for the island is over.

Men like Jacklyn Lucas and those who raised the flag in the most iconic World War II photo shown above should be well known names in America. Unfortunately they are mostly forgotten.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- Heh Heh

- These portraits are unreal (or to be more precise - amazingly real)

- How NASA's photo of the "Pillars of Creation" came to be

- A year after Garry Shandling's death - Kevin Nealon looks back

- Something sadly overlooked at the White House yesterday - 25 Medal of Honor winners were honored

- Arnold is the best!

- Heh Heh


Friday, March 24, 2017

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

It was bad for Pat Kelsey to leave UMass at the altar for both Kelsey and UMass. My guess is word came to Kelsey that another higher profile opportunity with interest in him will be surfacing after the tournament... Faster please!... I think the word "disseminate" should refer to when a man jerks off to climax... I love these stories (I would have loved a Bruins win last night just as much)... If another job isn't handed to Kelsey after the tournament then you can be sure that AD's across the country will long remember what he did to UMass... If Disturbed can cover Sound of Silence - why not have Metallica cover Dianna Ross' Do You Know (Where You're Going To)... Therapeutic Cunnilingus would be a good name for a band... If the Saints need a CB so badly - wouldn't it have been better for them to have signed Stephon Gilmore? Trying to work a deal with the Patriots for Malcolm Butler will end up costing them much more...  Try our new grandma (she's delicious!)... Who knew? Ulysses S. Grant is the only person on regularly used US currency that actually graduated from college... Heh heh - train don't give a damn... I also think the word "orgasm" should be replaced with the word "culminate"...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Birthday to Bobby Orr


Happy 69th birthday to #4 Bobby Orr. Not only one of the 3 greatest hockey players in history but arguable the greatest MAN to play hockey.

Here's a reminder of the type of person Robert Gordon Orr is.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Here are my Top 5 Songs for celebrating Saint Patrick's Day (because Oh Danny Boy is shite).

1. Rocky Road to Dublin

2. If I Should Fall From Grace with God - The Pogues

3. Four Green Fields - Makem & Clancy

4. The Foggy Dew - Sinead O'Connor and the Chieftains

5. I'm Shipping Up to Boston - Dropkick Murphy's

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- I know I'm surprised as well.

- Mark Sisson the pied piper of Paleo

- Here's a quote I need today

- Interesting - Why Americans pay triple the world price for sugar

- Seems about right

Saint Cornelius of Ireland

Though not widely remembered today - at one point Saint Cornelius of Ireland (not to be confused with Saint Cornelius of Antioch) was second in popularity on the Emerald Isle only to Saint Patrick. 

Saint Patrick is remembered for driving the snakes out of Ireland. Saint Cornelius was said to have driven the squirrels out of Ireland. This "miracle" of Saint Cornelius later proved to be his undoing. During the Great Potato Famine starving Irishmen and women wished they had tasty squirrel meat to eat and they cursed Saint Cornelius for driving out the furry rodents. In response to this outrage - Pope Pius IX removed Cornelius from the roll of official Catholic Saints.

Albert Einstein

Today is Albert Einstein's birthday. Just a reminder that even though E=MC2 is perhaps the most famous scientific equation in history - Einstein never received the Nobel Prize for coming up with it. The reasons for this slight were mostly because Einstein was Jewish. The committee eventually gave Einstein the Nobel Prize in 1921 for his 1905 explanation of the photoelectric effect but that was really too little too late.

As smart as Einstein was it makes me chuckle to remember that when Einstein graduated from our equivalent of high school - he finished second in his class. The name of the person who was valedictorian is lost to history but I couldn't help but think of someone back then saying something like, "Yeah Einstein was pretty smart in high school but you should have seen this other guy!"

Also when Albert Einstein first visited the US in 1921 - the US Senate saw fit to debate the validity of the Theory of Relativity - seriously. The Theory of Relativity just turned 101 years old. In this video uber biographer Walter Isaacson explains the Theory of Relativity in under 3 minutes.

Random Albert Einstein trivia; when Einstein lived in Princeton he had a small 17-foot sailboat he named Tinef which is Yiddish for "piece of junk". I find that endearing.

Finally - 10 Myths about Albert Einstein debunked

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Daylight Savings


If I were elected President, one of the first things I'd do is put a bill in front of Congress to repeal Daylight Savings. It is a stupid idea and nobody likes it. My approval rating would go through the roof on both sides of the aisle.

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

I wonder if this new technology could also be used on football helmets?

Floyd Mayweather comes out of retirement and calls for June fight with Conor McGregor. I know that this could turn out to a one-sided stunt but I also know I will watch it

- Heh heh - good advice indeed!

Fuck Nancy Pelosi.

Heh heh

- Holy crap - man crosses the Atlantic on a freaking high tech paddle board.

I Love Things Like This



A little girl gives coins to a street performer and gets the best surprise in return. Like I said - I love things like this.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Brexit Explained by Hooliganism

I recently read Bill Buford's fascinating 1990 book Among the Thugs. The book is a captivating look at the 8 years Buford spent learning the behavior and motivations of the world of English football (soccer) hooliganism. Three of the main motivations for acts of violence by club supporters were loyalty, patriotism and helplessness. On page 301 Buford writes:

Many things fell into place. This chant [England! England! England!]; it was the only one I had heard in a day otherwise characterized by its enforced sullen silence. And now: this declaration for England. It was such a simple but enormous thought: these fools, despised at home, ridiculed in the press, incapable of being contained by any act of impulsive legislation that the government had devised, wanted an England to defend. They didn't want Europe: they didn't understand Europe and didn't want to. They wanted a war. They wanted a nation to belong to and fight for, even if the fight was this absurd piece of street theater with the local Italian police.

That single paragraph helps in large part to explain why the Brexit vote was so successful.

Pick up the book if you have a chance. It's worth the read.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Sir Bors

In Arthurian Legend Sir Bors (aka Bohort), Sir Galahad, and Percival go on to achieve the Holy Grail and accompany it to a mystical island in the Middle East called Sarras. Both Galahad and Percival die on the island while Bors is the only one to return. Thus Sir Bors is the lone survivor of the Grail Quest.

In the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Sir Bors is played by Terry Gilliam and is the first knight to fall victim to the killer rabbit.

Worst Part of St. Patrick's Day (Beside the Hangover)


Maybe the worst part of Saint Patrick's Day is the fat guy in a kilt - you run into one every year. You know the guy who talks about the "breeze" no matter the weather and of "dangling shillelaghs" all in an attempt to get you to ask if the guy is wearing any underwear. You know the guy.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Top 5 - J. Geils Band Songs

Today is Peter Wolf's 71st birthday. In his honor here are what I consider the top songs from the J. Geils band.

1. (Ain't Nothin' But a) Houseparty
2. Must Have Got Lost (best song into ever!)
3. Hard Drivin' Man 
4. Detroit Breakdown
5. (tie) Whammer Jammer (tie) Give It To Me

Of course you have to have the live versions of these songs because J. Geils was one of those bands that were just so much better live than in the studio. And if you think Centerfold or Freeze Frame should be on the list - I say that you really don't know the J. Geils Band. It also goes without saying that the J. Geils band was the best band ever out of Worcester.

As an aside - when J. Geils was playing at the Centrum on New Year's Eve - there was no better place to be on the planet.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Consistent Colon

I had my first prostrate exam a few years ago. It was an uncomfortable moment to say the least but the strangest thing was my doctor telling me that my colon had a "good consistency." Wait - what? Saying my colon had a good consistency might have been a throw-away line for my doctor but it's stuck with me.

"Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency." - Dwayne Johnson. Isn't that special. The Rock thinks my colon is successful.

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." - Oscar Wilde. Well not sure about you Oscar but my brain and my imagination are in my head - not my ass.

"True consistency, that of the prudent and the wise, is to act in conformity with circumstances and not to act always the same way under a change of circumstances." John C. Calhoun. Was the former VP of the US speaking of diet and bowel movements? Because that's what I think of now when consistency is mentioned.

Maybe having read this post, when you hear the words "consistent" or "consistency" - you'll think of my ass.

As an aside Consistent Colon would be a good name for a band or fantasy football team. Or maybe not.

Parachute - Chris Stapleton



Another song that's new to me but really sticks with you.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

YouTube TV

YouTube announced a new ~40 channel TV package and unlimited DVR storage. The package is priced at $35 and comes with up to six accounts. My first two initial thoughts upon reading the announcement:

1. Being in New England it would have to include both NESN (Red Sox and Bruins) and CCSNE (Celtics) for it to be worthwhile for me. YouTube does say it includes ESPN, Fox Sports and Comcast SportsNet but for me specifically it would have to include NESN and specifically CCSNE.

2. Welcome to the sharing economy! The package includes six accounts. That would work for a family with 4 kids or.... I could use 3 accounts (TV, iPhone, iPad) and give the other 3 accounts to friends who in return might give me their pass-code info for say Netflix or HBO Go. It's a win-win! If one account covered all three of my devices - even better!

By sharing if for $35 you could get YouTube TV, Netflix and HBO Go - why would anyone keep their existing cable or satellite package? This could be the death knell for smaller cable channels who aren't being included in the various packages like SlingTV, DirecTV Now, Playstation Vue or the upcoming offering from Hulu.

Goodbye MSNBC - it's been nice knowing you.

Amnesia - Pousette Dart Band



Another one of those seemingly forgotten songs that always puts a smile on my face.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Linky Links

Stuff I found interesting or amusing and thought I'd share.

- 100 years ago today. If Germany was able to drag Mexico into WWI then things may have been much different both back then and today.

- RIP Neil Fingleton (AKA Mag the Mighty)

- Excellent question!

- George W. Bush's new passion

- RIP Judge Wapner

- Ben Affleck is 100% checking out Matt Damon to see if this was a Jimmy Kimmel prank

Antiquarian

An antiquarian is a person who studies or collects antiques or antiquities. But the prefix "anti" usually means "against" or "opposite of".

Why do I bring this up? Because in my mind if we have the word "antiquarian" we should also have the words "quarian" and "proquarian". But we don't and I needed to voice my disappointment.

And yes I am aware that the Quarians are a race of aliens from the game Mass Effect.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Darrelle Revis

While we are waiting to hear what the legal outcome will be for Darrelle Revis knocking out two guys in Pittsburgh and if the NFL will do anything about the fact that the Jets ABSOLUTELY tampered with Revis prior to him being a free agent - I thought I'd look back on a couple of predictions I made two seasons ago.
If you are into player comparisons think of Revis signing with the Jets this way; they basically just got Deion Sanders age and performance-wise during the last 4 years of his career. There was no fifth year because Deion was cooked by then.
Looks like old and washed up Deion Sanders would have been a best-case scenario. Revis may be done with the Jets after just 2-seasons.

And a prediction I made prior to the 2015 season:
Darrelle Revis will not make either first team NFL All Pro or second team All Pro. If he makes it on the Pro Bowl team it will because of his past performance. Revis was beat often in the playoffs last season (Steve Smith Sr. abused him) something not lost on the Patriots or more important on the rest of the NFL (except the Jets).
Turns out that he did make the Pro Bowl in 2015 on reputation alone but did not sniff an All Pro selection in either of the past two years.

Bill Belichick absolutely made the right decision to let Revis scurry away to New York. Once again showing why the Patriots are the Patriots and the Jets are the Jets.

Jackie Gleason - The Great One

Today would have been Jackie Gleason's 101st birthday. In his honor is a little something I wrote in 2005.


Long before Gretzky was tabbed as "the great one" - Jackie Gleason had lived up to that nickname and more. I never realized how much booze played a role in his life though.

Excellent essay on Gleason and booze - here's a small snippet:
With some time off before his first season as CBS’s golden boy, Jackie camped out at Toots Shor’s with Sinatra and his celebrity pals. One evening Frank showed up during Jackie’s morning eye-opener with four tickets to the sold-out final playoff game between the NY Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, was having a tête-à-tête with Toots and Frank invited the trio to accompany him to the game. Everyone agreed except Jackie, who wanted to stay at the bar and drink. They finally talked him into it by renting a fully stocked limo. Sinatra recalls:

“We pile into that limousine, already feeling no pain, especially Gleason. Jackie guzzled booze all the way to the Polo Grounds and ate most of the food. When we get there Jackie switches to hot dogs and beer. Comes the last half of the ninth and the fans are going wild. The Giants are behind 4-2 and Bobby Thompson comes to bat.

“Right at the exact moment, with the crowd screaming, Gleason throws up right on me. Here is one of the all-time classic games that people will talk about and I am right in the stadium and I don’t see Bobby Thompson hit that home run. Only Gleason, a Brooklyn fan, would get sick at a time like that. But that’s not the punch line.

“On the drive back to Toots, Gleason keeps muttering to the chauffeur to pull over to the side of the road saying, “Let’s throw this bum Sinatra out of here. He’s smelling up the limo.”
Can you picture anyone else being able to treat Sinatra like that?

Happy Birthday Ralphie

Today is Ralph Nader's 83rd birthday and I for one would like to wish him a happy birthday and thank him once again for taking those votes away from Al Gore in the 2000 election. Nader got 3% of the vote nation-wide and who knows how many votes in the closely contested (to put it mildly) Florida vote.

Thanks Ralphie. Don't hold your breath for a birthday card from Al Gore though.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Actor Bill Paxton has passed away at age 61... Knowing that Neil Diamond wrote Sweet Caroline about a prepubescent Caroline Kennedy - his song Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon is even more creepy... What were people in the 1970's fucking thinking!... When people think of Bill Paxton's movie roles I think most think of him starring in Twister but I always think of him as Morgan Earp in the movie Tombstone... This remains one of the best "selfies" in history even though George Harrison took it before the word "selfie" even existed... According to Hammurabi's Code the fetus of a "superior" woman was worth 10 shekels of silver... This is the car I'd really like to own... When I hear the name Sean Spice for some reason my brain thinks of Dora the Explorer and Swiper. Spicer stop spicing!... It still blows my mind that the Patriots led the Super Bowl for ZERO minutes and still won...

Hurt by Johnny Cash



Today would have been Johnny Cash's 85th birthday.

Friday, February 24, 2017

When We Was Fab – George Harrison


Tomorrow would have been George Harrison's 74th birthday. 

This is what I consider one his better lesser remembered songs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

101st Anniversary of the Battle of Verdun

Today marks the the 101st anniversary of one of the events that changed the world forever. On February 21st in 1916 - the Battle of Verdun began. The battle was to change the course of Western Civilization. 

The idea for the battle was from German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn. He believed that if he could take-out France with a major set battle and discourage England to a point that Germany could be in a position to negotiate very favorable terms. To accomplish his goals - Falkenhayn proposed unrestricted submarine warfare to starve Britain and a knockout blow against France at Verdun. With this major battle at Verdun, Falkenhayn hoped to "bleed France white".

It was an ambitious plan - an aggressive plan. Falkenhayn knew that to attack at Verdun he'd have to take resources away from the Eastern Front and that unrestricted submarine warfare ran the risk of bringing the U.S. into the war. Falkenhayn reasoned that Russia was on the brink of revolution and internal civil war in Russia would allow them to take those resources from the Eastern Front and that the decisive blow to France would come before the US was dragged into the war. He was right on the former but wrong on the latter.

Verdun seemed the perfect place to attack. It actually jutted out into the German lines - so it could be attacked from three sides. It was also of historical and psychological significance to Frenchmen (somewhat akin to what the Alamo is to Americans).

The job of attacking Verdun fell to German Crown Prince Wilhelm. He planned to assault the town from both side of the surrounding Meuse River but that plan vetoed by Falkenhayn. After coming up with a daring, aggressive plan - Falkenhayn was suddenly cautious. Falkenhayn ordered the attack to be confined to one side of the river. Similar to a poker game, Falkenhayn was beaten on the river. Falkenhayn had pocket Aces of a plan but he failed to put enough chips at risk to drive the other player out. By not being aggressive when he should have he gave France free cards and allowed himself and Germany to literally be beaten on the river.

With so many people who eventually died in the battle, a poker analogy may seem flip but the fact is the Germans had one million troops against 200,000 defenders. They did hold Aces before the battle.

When the attack finally began, the Germans bombarded Verdun with 1,400 guns that rained Verdun with 100,000 shells every hour. The Germans failed to immediately follow up the bombardment with an full-scale infantry attack and what resulted was a stalemate which was to last for months and months.

The dead and wounded from both sides piled up so that both countries were being "bled white". The French begged Britain to open up a diversionary attack elsewhere on the Western Front to drain resources and men away from Verdun on the German side. Thus the Battle of the Somme was born. 

By the time the battle of Verdun ended almost one million casualties had been inflicted in roughly equal numbers for both sides. The Battle of the Somme resulted in about 1.1 million casualties (about 400,000 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 German). The unrestricted submarine warfare resulted in the Americans being dragged into the War (remember that President Woodrow Wilson was elected on a peace platform). The American joined the fight just as both sides were literally exhausted from being "bled white" from Verdun and the Somme and the rest is history (including the harsh terms imposed on Germany that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party).


Monday, February 20, 2017

Homer at the Bat Turns 25


Today marks the 25th anniversary of The Simpsons episode Homer at the Bat. Below is a parody of that episode I wrote in 2005. I think it still holds up.

The Curse of the Simpsons

Hello, my name is Bob Ley and welcome to Outside the Lines. Tonight we look at what is being called “the Curse of the Simpsons.”

On February 20, 1992 the Simpsons’ episode “Homer at the Bat” aired and featured some of baseball’s brightest stars but the question now comes up – what did these stars have to do in order to be on the show and what price did they pay for that momentary bit of extra fame?

According to the Official Simpsons Website the episode’s plot was the following: 
Mr. Burns makes a million dollar bet with his arch-rival Aristotle Amadopolis that the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant team will beat the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant team in the softball championships. To ensure victory, Burns hires a number of ringers, including pro baseball players Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Wade Boggs and Mike Scioscia to replace the plant employees he cut from the team. But as game day approaches, the pros all succumb to various strange ailments and accidents that prevent them from playing and it's up to Homer and his teammates to beat the Shelbyville team. With bases loaded and the score tied in the ninth inning, Homer is sent to bat and wins the game when the pitch hits him in the head and accidentally scores a homer."
Most of the stars were at the top of their game before agreeing to appear on the show but after the show most started hitting the skids. Coincidence – Outside the Lines thinks not.

In studio we have one of the stars of the show – Homer Simpson. Homer, welcome to Outside the Lines. You get many big name stars on the show – is there any special arrangement to get these stars? What about the baseball players featured in “Homer at the Bat”? 

Homer: To answer your question Kent – normally guest stars work for scale to be on our show because it is such a status symbol to be on the Simpsons. However, in this case the boss wanted something extra.

Who is your boss? What was the something extra required of the baseball players?

Homer: Well I report directly to Satan or as we like to call him – Ned. In order to be on the show the baseball players had to sign over their souls. You know standard stuff.

Wait a second are you saying that Ned Flanders is Satan and that the baseball players had to sign over their souls to be on the show?

Homer: Yep. You deaf or something? All the players really wanted to be on the show and Ned made them pay. 

Darryl Strawberry?

Homer: Hmmmmmm strawberries……….Oops – sorry. I felt bad about Straw. He was such a good kid before he came on the show. I’m afraid we introduced him to a little too much of the Hollywood lifestyle. You know constant drugs and hookers. I guess it made quite the impression on him.

Ken Griffey Jr.? 

Homer: Yep. Satan is still screwing with him. I guess Griffey has become sort of a hobby for Ned.

Steve Sax?

Homer: Oh boy! That was a good one. You know the throws to first were my idea. 

Jose Canseco?

Homer: Do you even have to ask on that one? The guy slept with Madonna. I guess he figured he was doomed anyway.

Don Mattingly?

Homer: You know Don started off as a really nice guy but working for so long with Steinbrenner just sorta wore him down. I still remember watching Mattingly’s last game on the set of the Simpsons. Ned comes over - sees Don on the TV and says, “Next year the Yankees win the World Series" and then he starts with that laugh of his.

Mike Scioscia? 

Homer: Well Mike was sorta of a charity case. He sold his soul to get into the major leagues. 

Wade Boggs? You can't say Wade Boggs sold his soul - I mean he was just elected to the Hall of Fame.

Homer: Actually Wade Boggs was the only one that wasn’t asked to sign away his soul. If you remember - in the show Wade gets beat up by Barney Gumble. Ned had Wade Boggs on as a favor to all the cast. We all wanted to beat him up but Barney won the lottery.

Wait a minute Homer. What about Ozzie Smith? I grant you all the other stars did seem to rapidly dim after being on the show but Ozzie was also voted into the Hall of Fame. You can’t ask us to believe that Ozzie sold his soul.

Homer: Well - you know how we all thought it kinda funny to portray Ned as the devil knowing full well that he really was the devil. Who knew that Ozzie really was a Wizard? The Wizard of Oz! We all thought it was just something people called him. That summersault he does before all his games is really a kind of counter curse you know.

Roger Clemens has over 300 wins and has won multiple Cy Young Awards. Surely he didn’t sign his soul away.

Homer: Roger was the first to sign. That guy is as dumb as a post. The funny thing is that by signing with Toronto – Clemens proved that he didn’t have a soul so the deal was null and void.

Please hold on just a second. I understand from our producers that joining us via a telephone hook-up is Ned Flanders. Mr. Flanders on this show tonight Homer Simpson has alleged that you are in fact the devil and that in 1992 you required a number of all-star baseball players to sign away their souls in order to be on the show the Simpsons. Can you comment on this?

Ned Flanders (aka Satan): Okily dokily Bob-arino. All that Homer said is as right as rain. Baseball players are some of my best customers next to SportsCenter anchors of course but you know I wasn’t going to take their souls until my boss insisted.

Your boss? Who would that be?

Ned Flanders (aka Satan): James L. Brooks of course.

Well that makes sense. I’m Bob Ley and this has been Outside the Lines. Please join us tomorrow night when our topic will be “Are we ready for an openly gay football mascot?”