September 27, 2012

The Thing About Ken Harrelson

The Wall Street Journal published a review of all the baseball team announcers and Ken Harrelson, our man there in the White Sox booth, was rated as the worst offender in the category that went something like "least objective, most biased, biggest homer cheerleader" or something like that. And, to be real honest, they got that right. But I'm not sure it matters.

First of all it appears to me from listening to him all these years, and from local tales told and repeated, plus "I know a guy who knows a guy" and stuff like that, Ken Harrelson has one great big "fault" in his character, which is that he is loyal to people he says he is loyal to and - from my understanding - is one of these guys who skids around in the background doing great things for people without fanfare or the desire for being noticed. When he says you are a friend - that's it. You're a friend. And you're going to have to be convicted of killing scores of innocent children before he cuts you loose. In other words he is a guy with some solid old-fashioned virtues; the cream of which would see to be loyalty, consistency, a value on friendship and a truly good heart. He has some good old-fashioned values that are, well, good old-fashioned values. And some of those values are in short supply in the general population.

 So on the one hand it is obvious that he would enact these traits in the broadcast booth for a team with which he travels and spends time with every day, working for an employer he has never been shy in expressing his respect for, and watching the backs of the people he works for and with. It seems natural - that's the kind of guy every piece of evidence I can find says he is. And, also from listening to him, I have no problem believing that this assessment is 100% spot on.

 Secondly, in baseball broadcasting, there are two distinct markets. There is the local market, where a broadcast crew presents the games of their home team. Then there is the national market, where it is not only expected that a broadcaster be fair and even-handed, but where that is accepted that this balanced approach should be the standard.

Placing these two thoughts together then, I believe, is a good enough slam-dunk defense of "The Hawk" and his style. The fact that he is an unabashed, self-avowed, wears-it-on-his-sleeve "homer" is no problem for me.

The only problem I have with Hawk is the other thing. Not being a "homer," but just not being a very good baseball announcer.

I mean, to be honest, if the WSJ called him the flat-out bottom of the worst technically, style-wise or insofar as his abilities are concerned I'd say - yep. You got that right.

The problem is, and it has become worse as the years have gone on, that Ken has developed a loooooooooong list of cliches that serve almost as the entire broadcast. From first pitch to last he says the same things in the same way every game. And it is down right boring as hell. Not to mention that during the current skid out of first place and the mounting losses the Sox are experiencing with frightening regularity lately he has sounded - quite literally - like a man who needs some medication for a severe depression which is so palpable I honestly can't watch him anymore without being incredibly uncomfortable. Paint that defeatism, which is becoming blatant to the point of missing calls because he ASSUMES the worst (twice in the last three or four games he got all deflated before the play was over, audibly, only to have to pump himself back into action - poorly - when the ball was muffed and instead of an out the Sox were still alive), over the skeleton of continual catch phrases over and over and over and you have a dull, boring, spiritless, unintelligent broadcast. The last thing it is is entertaining.

I would say it is entertaining if you enjoy watching a man become unraveled. But here's what you will invariably hear EVERY GAME, game after game, during the course of play.

 Chopper two-hopper - the ball has been hit and bounced twice to an infielder. Make it a chopper one hopper if it bounces once.

He gone -the opposition batter just struck out, or was thrown out trying to steal. If he struck out on a fast ball it'll be "He gone, GAS."

Stay fair - he's telling a flyball hit by a Sox player to land in the seats and be a home run. Or he is telling a popup hit by an opposing batter to stay in play so a Sox player can catch it. This is followed with It will or It won't, depending on what it does.

A flyball hit by a Sox player that has a chance to be a home run will be told to Stretch - stretch! and if it is a home run you will get the He looks up, you can put it on the booooooooooaaard... YES! Which is sometimes followed by Mercy.

Dad gum it - whatever happened didn't go well for the Sox.

The dreaded lead-off walk - this is when the Sox walk the lead-off batter in an inning. It is said with ever-increasing frustration the more it happens, even if it is happening over the course of several games.

Grab some bench - A secondary term to he gone.

We got a man there - One of the Sox caught a fly ball.

They got a man there - one of the other guys catches a fly ball. The problem with this is that every once in a while this is how an absolutely fantastic catch will be reported. Something like that just happened a few days ago. The opposing center fielder made a marvelous catch, and that had to be stressed by Steve Stone because all Hawk said was They got a man there.

That's a hang whiffle - I'm not totally sure what that means. It's an easy line drive or play for the fielder, from the look of things. I think it has something to do with a wiffle ball? Who knows.

Come on, ball four base hit - another enigma, always said when a Sox batter has three balls in the count. It is probably an exhortation to either have the next pitch be ball four or a hit. Or something like that.

He had a cookie there - the batter missed hitting a presumably hittable pitch. Sometimes followed by He just missed it.

Don't stop now boys - the Sox have had two hits in a row, or are in the midst of a rally.

In all my years of baseball going on to the better part of five decades - self-explanatory.

He's in the cat bird seat - the Sox batter has two or more balls than he has strikes in the count.

Take your time - the Sox are about to complete a fielding double play

(When this ball comes down) or, by itself stand-alone, This ball game is o-vah - which he's had to amend to This ball game is o... a booble. We got a man on first. Mercy twice in the last three days. Technically the other day we had a full-fledged When this ball comes down this ball game will be o... HE DROPPED IT!

Now in and of themselves these are all kind of cute. You pepper them into the regular broadcast and you have a touch of famed broadcasters like Red Barber or Dizzy Dean. Colorful. No problem. Except what I just gave you is 90% of the broadcast. Every day. day after day after day.


And in the last week this script has been punctuated by deep sighs, crest-fallen moans and long, dead. silences.

By all personal accounts Ken Harrelson is a truly good man. A great guy. A supremely loyal friend. Somebody you can count on to have your back. A man of time-tested virtues and personal honor. And I forgive him for rooting for the home team when he broadcasts a game - that's what a home market does. But he's just not a very good announcer.

It's too push-button. And when you marry clinical depression with push-button play-by=play, you get zero interest and TVs getting turned off left and right.

And that's a hang wiffle.

You be the judge... This is a pro-Hawk video, obviously. And it can be cute. Unless you hear it every damn day.  Then it's impossible to live with. But you tell me. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'. Mercy...

September 24, 2012

O You Have To Be Faster Than That

Yesterday I set down the full length version of the new movie "We Are Legion." Really a documentary about the activities of Anonymous from its earliest embryonic beginnings (The Cult Of The Dead Cow), through 4chan, the take down of white supremacist Hal Turner, the battle with the Church of Scientology, and on through the Wikileaks episode as well as their participation in the Arab Spring... and a little beyond that. My God, there's like OVER 9000 things! Well that full length version isn't available any more but I still have the trailer. But you guys are going to have to be quicker on the draw if you want the benefits of the internet, like, y'know? Here's a 4 minute taste of a really good flick... And here's the web site for the documentary where you can see extra clips, find out if it is playing near you, awards, reviews, and all that good movie stuff. Why, it has even earned four stars at IMDB. I disagree with the assessment by one of the interviewees about the age group here being 17-35. Just sayin.

September 14, 2012

Our Own Little Home Grown Taliban

What do you think of these quotes?

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Islam."

"Politicians who do not use the Qur'an to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office."

"The long-term goal of Muslims in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of Allah by submitting to Him and publicly admitting the shahada must be denied citizenship."

"The Qur'an is the unaltered word of Allah. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."

"Our goal must be simple. We must have a Muslim nation built on Allah's law, on the edicts laid out by sharia. No apologies."

"Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Islam and that is the truth that makes men free."

Sounds like the kind of Muslim "fundamentalist" that truly scares the bejesus out of people doesn't it? One can just picture the Taliban, or some raving Muslim cleric ranting away on YouTube, saying these kinds of things. It's true. That's what theocracy would look like, friends. And it isn't pretty. It's also barely religious in any positive sense of the word. It's downright nasty.

But y'know what? I fooled you. Bwa hahahahaha. None of this was said by a lunatic Muslim cleric or the Taliban or any such thing.

These are direct quotes from Americans. I just changed the religion...
Here are the actual quotes, and the wonderful people who said them.

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Ann Coulter

"Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." Beverly LaHaye (Concerned Women for America)

"The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship." Gary North (Institute for Christian Economics)

"The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc." Jerry Falwell

"Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God's law, on the ten Commandments. No apologies." Randall Terry (Operation Rescue)

"Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free." Pat Buchanan

I think it is kind of enlightening. Or sad. I can't decide which. But what's the difference between Pat Robertson and Mullah Omar except that the Mullah is a lot more willing to use his guns than Pat is. So far. I mean that's a question still out there isn't it? I can't be the only one wondering why the reactionaries in this country want to make it easier to get a gun than go vote.

We need to maintain the secular nature of our laws and government. A person's religious ideals are perfectly correct when applied to their conscience. But laws must protect everyone. Not just rich Christians.

This all came to me listening to the news from the Middle East, where all these (probably not well educated) pissed off people have been storming our embassies because some goof ball pushed their buttons. It fostered a lot of thought, and led me to announce for secularism. It's a long story.

That's why I joined up with these guys today.

The best way to protect religious freedom is to have a secular government. You can be a religionist in a secular government. But you can't be a secularist in a theocracy. That's all there need be said.

September 12, 2012


I let the Sept 11 stuff go by for the first time in 11 years. But I didn't want to say anything one way or the other because though I think it is time to move on that's not the same as saying forget about it. But the way things are in this stupid country all you have to say is "we need to move on" from 911 and a host of bozos will be on your case calling you down and saying we should never forget. So I didn't play.

Yesterday I took the day off work and pretty much just hid in my office. I've been having a lot of headaches lately and then the workmen started pounding and sawing and dumping yesterday morning. Now - as you know - I work overnight. So I go to bed say maybe 6:30-7:30 in the AM. And by 8 AM there was a crew building something and sleep was not going to happen. Got worse because I agitated myself over it. You know how that goes. If I'd have stayed calm I'd have been alright, but it was like I decided to let it bug me. So it did. I have to stop that shit.

Well I have to go in tonight because the bigger plan was to cash in my unused sick time check at the end of the year. An extra week's pay. So, yeah, that's not going to happen.

We've been trapping animals in our yard. Possums. They were living under our deck. $165 for the guy to come out and set traps, and then $55 per captured animal. They hauled away two, and the traps have been empty for two days now. So that's probably it for Mr and Mrs O'Possum. Now I have a project this weekend of animal proofing the bottom of the deck. They dug in under one part fairly well. No rest for the wicked I guess.

Our youngest daughter is getting married next year. That's cool news. So I have to come up with one more wedding toast. Not one of my favorite things. Both Jordan's father and I have been suggesting we just give them money and they elope. It's not like it would be a horrible thing, they've both been living on their own for years and are in their 30's. But, you know, it's a big deal for them. What are you gonna do.

I am stuck in a great big huge damn rut. Absolutely nothing is reaching me. Dynamite please...

September 07, 2012

Things I Should Have Learned

Isn't Gibraltar pretty? Wish my family and I lived there right now, just to get away from the States for a long long time. I'm not too in love with America right now. We must look so totally stupid to the rest of the world sometimes.

I learned a lot of things in high school. One of the things I learned, and then forgot, and then learned again, recently, is that being strident about the issues of the day gets you three things:

1. A few extra credit points with people who already believe as you do.

2. Added resolve on the part of the people who disagree with you.

3. Absolutely no gain whatsoever among the people you'd like to convince of your viewpoint.

This probably isn't axiomatic or anything, and so there's holes in this in a few places I'm guessing, but it seems intuitive don't you think?

In a few billion years the sun will turn into a red giant. And when it does that its outer atmosphere will be exactly in the perfect place to burn off our seas and turn Earth into a cinder. When that happens, I ask you, who is going to remember how you voted in 2012 AD and why? Huh? Who? ANSWER ME.

Someday you're going to turn around and you'll be dead. What does all this angst and anger have to do with anything when your dead eh? Answer me that one. What? You made a couple points and won an argument or three and looked so very clever and now you're dead. So big deal. What was that all for?

Over the past few months I've been going through somewhat of a minor spiritual crisis. I'm having big problems with an ethical construct I made for myself and how it relates to philosophy and outlook and my relationship to the whatsis and so forth. But I pulled out of it a few days ago and I'm okay. Nice of you to ask.

I have been guilty of what we call, in the Quaker faith, "outrunning my guide." Another phrase we use for it is "going off your watch." You can read in one of the old journals, one Quaker is watching another Quaker get in an argument and it gets all heated and wild and bad words are said and nothing of value is gained. Later as the two Quaker buddies walked away down the road, the observer leans over to the combatant and says "thee was off thy watch there for a minute, friend."

It's a thing where your actions get too far ahead of your spiritual discernment. You went a little goofy. Maybe you cranked on someone a little too hard. Those are all against the ethic we're supposed to be carrying around with us. "Thy neighbor as thyself" and all that.

Anyway I've been guilty of that. A lot. And hopefully I have it all back under control. It's difficult, though, in this rancid political climate, being surrounded by people who seem intent on being jerks to one another.

I've been writing a thing, and haven't said anything about it (and won't say any more than this), that is a lot different than anything I've done before. And I've found that when I have run ahead of my guide, or have been "off my watch", I haven't been able to write for it at all. Then, when I get centered again, it restarts and flows. It has everything going against it. The protagonist is a young Muslim, it takes place in a country not many people have ever heard of, and there's a talking hyena who grants wishes and steals camels. Yeah. Well. Anyway...

Like I said not my usual stuff. And I've been working on it since late winter. You know Faiqa Khan? She's seen parts of it, just as a checker. You can ask her more about it next time you see her. But the point is when I am unsettled I can't write it. When I'm fighting politics or getting all worked up about stuff I can't do it at all. I have to be centered. And to be centered means I have to be on my watch. This is mostly because the novel needs a rational person telling it. So it's been necessary to not get nasty with people. It's why I regret some of the arguments I've been in. Stifles the work.

Oh hi... I have no idea what this post is about anymore.

Never mind. Here's Charlize...