Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A link, and a minor rant on the One Game Wild Card Playoff

(Spoiler Alert:  No Link)

Tonight, Kansas City and Oakland square off in the American League's one game playoff.

Have I mentioned that I HAAAATE the one game playoff?  Loathe.   Baseball, the ultimate game of averages, left to a one game playoff. It should be a measure of last resort, and not the culmination of a season for four teams.  Too much can happen in one game.  A no account second baseman who's hit .240 the entire season can get four hits off the best pitcher in the game.  A team of six umpires can completely misunderstand the infield fly rule.  A team that leads the league in run production can get shut down for a game by a pitcher having the game of his life.

At least make it a best of three.  Hell, what's a couple more games in a regular and post-season that will last late into the fall already?

There's also a selfish note for this hatred. I work tonight, and I've come to root for the Royals somewhat in the past several weeks. I'll miss the game, tonight. Personal preference for the World Series? Royals vs. Pirates. Though I could see myself enjoying a Baltimore/Washington series very much. 

Mostly, though, I'm rooting for a highly localized seismic event where Dodger Stadium gets sucked into the earth while the Dodgers and Cardinals are on the field, perhaps for introductions. In this fantasy, Doug Eddings is on the field as umpire, and Bud Selig is throwing out the first pitch, and Kenny Chesney is singing the National Anthem, and all are sucked away, never to be thought of or mentioned ever again.

But that's just me.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Random Blogamathing Post

Wandered out on a camping trip this weekend with Shyam.  It's the first we've taken just the two of us.  It's been a busy couple of months (couple = 19, I think).  We wandered up to the mountains and just enjoyed each other's company.  We also wanted a day or two away from the crush of humanity.

2014 has been kinda hard for me.  I've tried not to let myself get too down, because it's all seemed like those things that have to happen in life.  And they are.  But they've been weighing on me a bit.  I've really felt it the past couple of months.  Stolen truck.  Dad's getting downsized.  One of my (by way of my folks) dogs dying.  Work keeping me from doing a couple of things I'd looked forward to.  And one of my best friends moving away.

That last one feels weird to say, especially at age 37.  But it is what it is.

Whatever it is, right or wrong, it's been weighing on me.

So.  Went out into the woods for a couple nights.  Get away.  Hit the reset button.  See if I can cut that moping shit out a bit.

A good trip.  Near perfect weather all weekend.  Very few neighbors.  Able to sit down, read a book and enjoy a campfire.

The book was Cherie Priest's Maplecroft.  A Lovecraftian take on Lizzy Borden.  A well-done epistolary work that manages to maintain a good energy the whole way through.  Multiple first-person narratives are tough to pull off (i.e. keep interesting, keep moving all while maintaining unique voices).  I dug the aspect of it that left you questioning some characters, and whether they were falling down the monstrous rabbit hole.

It's Priest's best since Boneshaker, which was her best, for my money.  I'll take a little while to digest, but it may end up surpassing Boneshaker as my favorite.

But I digress.

We camped.  We stayed away from people.  One set of neighbors within eyeshot our first night.  The second night featured an RV pulling into the site across the street.  The RV's bug me.  Not that tailgate camping makes me any kind of man's man, but if you need a TV and air conditioning while travelling?  Why not just stay at a hotel, instead of dragging a 7 mile per gallon behemoth up to Chilhowee?

Anyway.  The campsites share community water spigots.  I couldn't guess how many are around, but I figure for the 25 or 30 sites, there's probably one spigot for every four to six sites.  The spigot across the street from our site we shared with three or four sites.  The RV folks, with tags right from God's Waiting Room, hooked the RV's water hose up to the spigot.

Multiple times, we and the other campers near us had to ask to unhook the water.  This morning?  We just unhooked ourselves.  I have a funny feeling we did it right in the middle of somebody's shower....

Gonna be an interesting couple of weeks at work.  I've been having a difficult time with the job.  The aforementioned problems getting to me, on top of a work schedule that makes me want to go back to 2007 and explain just what "working like a botard" means.  Currently scheduled 11 out of the next 12 day, but there's a light called vacation at the end of this particular tunnel.

Anyway.  It was a good weekend.  I'm gonna make a conscious effort to stop moping about the little shit.  A good weekend like this one made me realize just how lucky a fellow I am.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, volume 3

In which I continue my alphabetical journey through my movie shelf.

I'm averaging between 30 and 45 minutes a day per movie, which means each one lasts between two and four days.  Aside from the occasional movie that I've found or made time to watch from start to finish, this little project (which has been going since around Memorial Day), might take me up past Independence Day 2015....

Big Fish   (2003, D: Burton)

I've got something of a love-hate relationship with the movie.  It's almost a Liberty Valance issue....whether the value of the story has more importance than the value of the truth.  Maybe a bit of a personal struggle coming to life there.  That, and Burton's seeming daddy fixation coming to life, sometimes makes this a difficult movie to watch.  It just depends on the day I watch, I suppose.  Didn't care for it this time around.

The Big Lebowski    (1998, D: Coen)

It's up high on the list of favorite movies.  Had to sit and watch this one, because there's so much that sucks me in.  Walter's energy is still my favorite.  The machinations, with The Dude, at the center.  The tumbleweed vibe.  The check at Ralph's.  Yes.  Too much not to like....

Big Trouble   (2002, D: Sonnenfield)

A little bit of a guilty pleasure, I guess.  Dave Barry managed to write a more Carl Hiassen-esque novel than Carl Hiassen.  The movie's a fair adaptation.  Good?  Zooey Deschanel, Patrick Warburton, Jeanine Garofolo, Dennis Farina, Johnny Knoxville, Tom Sizemore and especially Andy Richter's brief appearances.  Bad?  Tim Allen.  Man, I hate me some Tim Allen.  Still, the movie itself is zany enough.  It's one that pops up on Comedy Central or the like every now and then.  It makes me smile.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I wrote some

I wrote a little tonight.  Mostly about that thing.

Didn't turn out well, but at least I wrote.  I'm a Lazy bastard.

Been bumming about work, lately.  Not enjoying the job.  Again.  Too little work/life balance.  Not getting to do stuff outside of work.  Missed the summer trivia finals.  Didn't hit a Braves game all year, because it was too hard to string a couple days off in a row, or even snag a Sunday off.  Timing was part of it.  How the fuck did they manage to be on the road for all but a couple days of vacations I took during baseball season?

But I digress.

Not getting to see friends and family.  Sucks to have my sister ask about several weekends for camping trips with her and my nephew, and having to shoot them all down because I'm working.  The one I have free?  They're busy.

Being a grownup sucks.


I wrote a bit.

I'd like to write more.

I'd like to find a position with a more regular set of hours, to set myself up a routine.

That might be a cop out, my brain says.

It might not be, my other brain says.

I have two brains.

Or, I have a kidney that thinks a little much of itself, and thinks it's capable of doing more than helping filter and flush toxins from my body.

Anyway.  I wrote.

Here's what I listened to:

"Sara"             Fleetwood Mac
"Birdplane"        Axis of Awesome
"You Put the Hurt on Me"     Sara and the Tall Boys
"House Where Nobody Lives"      Tom Waits
"I'm Free"        The Who
"America's Dreaming"      Old Man Markley
"The Revolution Starts Now"      The Mahones
"Counting"  Jherek Bischoff, featuring Carla Bozulich
"Karmageddon"      Hank Williams III
"Jump Around"       House of Pain
"If  You Know What's Good For You"      Dale Watson
"The Transformers Theme"       White Lion
"The Americans"         John Mellencamp
"Dying of Another Broken Heart"          Lindi Ortega

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tommy's Mindlessly Stupid Project, volume 2

You can read here part one of my little project, where I wind my way through my movie shelves as I get ready in the mornings, and go to bed at night, with occasional pauses to sit and truly enjoy what I've got on my shelves.

The rules?  Running alphabetically through my movie collection.  No pausing to fret about what's next.  Just pick up the movie, and go on.  With a small handful of exceptions in my collection (gifts, etc) I've picked out every one of the movies on my shelves.  Why I'd hem and haw over what to watch is quite the vexing bit of personal bullshit.

Anyway.  Thoughts concerning what I've watched:

Armageddon  (1998, D: Bay)

I'm the douchebag, by the way, who undermines his own system of alphabetical organization by keeping the few Criterion Collection discs he owns on their own shelf.  I'd originally planned to include those at the end, because the bulk of them will take their own viewings on the good TV, and not be simply background noise as I get ready.  Part of this is logistical...if it's a foreign language flick, it doesn't key to my ear well.  Part of it is that some flicks just deserve the attention.  Anyway, I watched this one out of alphabetical order...I'll try to keep up with the Criterion stuff as well as I can....

That said, I'm not going to argue that Armageddon is a great flick, though there's part of me that acknowledges the argument about all key characters being introduced and fleshed out early on.  Beyond that, all logical parts of my brain say that this is the stupidest movie ever, and very much one to point at as not only what's wrong with movies in general, but America as well.  Still, I'm not sold that Armageddon's a bad flick.  It's a fun flick, and a very pretty one.   It's not without its verbal charm:  I still think that Billy Bob Thornton walks around his house saying "it's what we call a global killer...."

Back to the Future  (1985, D: Zemeckis)

I generally pull this one out once a year, or so.  It came out when I was 8, and out on video right about the time we got a VCR when I was growing up.  We taped it off HBO (I believe).  This one's gotta rank up there with the Star Wars movies, Ghostbusters and Batman with movies I've seen most.

I've always thought about what a mindfuck the whole bit's gotta be for Marty, but we never see the biggest mindfuck of all.  If you can overlook the bit where Marty returns to a different 1985 than he left, and that there stands a good argument that there might be another Marty floating around at the end of Back to the Future 1, you have to ask yourself how many different things would have happened to the Marty of the new time line, where George McFly decked Biff, that original Marty would have no memory of.  Maybe Marty and his brother and sister were destined to be, if George and Lorraine got together.  But would all their life events be the same?  Hey Marty....remember when we went to Disneyland a couple years back?  What are you talking about....I've never been to Disney....

Back to the Future 2    (1989, D: Zemeckis)

Back to the Future 2 and 3 might have been my Dad's and my first joint fanboy experience...we both wanted these movies to be so awesome.  And you know what?  even 25 years later, I'm satisfied with the outcome.

It also contains my favorite sequence...Biff's dark 1985? That shit is awesome!  The bit where Marty ends up on former principal Strickland's porch, and they mention that schools aren't part of the Hill Valley agenda gets me thinking that Biff may be a little bigger than Hill Valley.  How do you circumvent county, state and national schooling agendas?  Biff money.  That's how.

Also, Lorraine's big fake dark Biff cleavage is still the favorite of 12-year-old Tommy.

Back to the Future 3    (1990, D: Zemeckis)

Okay.  This only started bugging me a few years ago.  So, Seamus and Maggie McFly are George McFly's great grandparents (William, is called Marty's great-grandpa, so William would be George's grandfather).  The McFly name follows that line down to Marty, so it stands to some reason that Marty might look like Seamus.

Why does Lorraine look like Maggie?  She's not descended from the McFlys.  Or is she?

Recent investigations into my family history have revealed that my great grandparents William and Florida were second cousins.  I guess it's not all that odd, or implausible.  Just something that pops into my mind, now any time I see Lea Thompson as Maggie in this flick....

Also of note:  Dub Taylor makes Tommy's Movie Shelf Appearance #2 in this flick....

Batman   (1989, D: Burton)

I could write and write and write about the 1989 Batman.  I can tell you where I was when I saw this flick the first time (the 1:15 show at the Plaza Twin on Saturday, June 24 with my friend Lindsey....my folks wouldn't take me out to the much ballyhooed June 23 opening....my friend Nigel went and I was jealous).  I could tell you that I saw this movie five times in the theater, that summer (if you include a viewing at the Swingin' Midway Drive-In).  This was the first pre-recorded VHS tapes that my family ever owned.  Everything else, up until then, was rentals or stuff taped off TV.  This might be the only movie that I burnt myself out on.

I love Batman.  Still.  Have since the fifth grade, or so.  So, this movie was Big Shit for me.  Watched it at least once a week for a couple of years.  And once a month after that, for a long time, all the way up into college.

I hit a point, though. Don't know.  Maybe when you memorize a flick.  I honestly went seven or eight years between viewings.  It wasn't until I picked up the DVD.

You know what?  It's still solid, for what it is.  I feel like, even in 1989, that DC was at a loss for what a millionaire playboy was, but I still like Keaton's Bruce Wayne best.

Batman Begins   (2005, D: Nolan)

I remember looking forward to this flick when it came out, but being dubious about the Christian Bale casting.  In fact, I am still dubious about the Christian Bale casting.

Batman Begins isn't a bad flick.  In fact, it's a pretty fucking good flick, perhaps better put together and truer to the mythos than any of Nolan's later works.  It touches on a lot of the same bits that made Frank Miller's Year One and Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale's Long Halloween work so well for me.  It's just a more solidly put together movie than its sequels, too. (Dark Knight Rises doesn't hold up, and later viewings of Dark Knight make me realize how much Joker's villainy holds that flick together).

The Ken Watanabe/Liam Neeson Ra's al Ghul okey doke is pretty cool.  And I like watching Cillian Murphy wallow around as Scarecrow.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm    (1993, D: Timm, et al).

For many years, this was my favorite Batman flick.  It's the one that hit both Batman and Joker as close to the versions in my head as possible, and it's still the case with Batman.

Mark Hamill doesn't get enough credit for his work as the Joker.  Just an all around good flick, one that I'm glad actually got a big screen showing...

Batman: the Movie    (1966, D: Martinson)

There was a period where I just ATE that 60's Batman show up.  Then, I denied its existence.  I've only recently wandered back to the way of thinking that allowed me to enjoy the show.  What goofy fucking fun.  The bit with Batman trying to get rid of the bomb?  That's funny, funny stuff.

Baxter     (1989, D: Boivin)

This is a good movie to watch when you're down on humanity, on the whole.  Which I have been, lately.

Beerfest    (2006, D: Chandrasekhar)

You know, Super Troopers was a home run for the Broken Lizard guys, and I call Club Dread a solid triple.  Beerfest?  Meh.  Bloop hit?

Really didn't think much of it with this viewing.  Jurgen Prochnow is probably the best part of the movie.  This one's probably going to get traded in the next time I cull the shelves.

Beetlejuice    (1988, D: Burton)

Just a fun flick.  Michael Keaton, Geena Davis and Catherine O'Hara are all favorites.  Big.  Loud.  Whimsical.  Dark.  Right up my alley.

Best in Show   (2000, D: Guest)

This one makes me think of my buddy Steven, if only for the fact that we did Harlan Pepper's nut-naming routine for years.  His and Janet's attachment to the dog show scene, despite being such a big part of their lives, somehow seems secondary to that one throwaway bit.

As Guest movies go, this one ranks after Waiting for Guffman, and probably after A Mighty Wind, despite the characterizations ringing more familiar to me than either of those previous two.  All I can think of is that one joke about Eugene Levy's character having two left feet...I don't know why I hate the bit, but it ruins a good bit of the movie altogether.  And somehow, Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins just bug me in their roles.

Still, definite charms.  The left foot joke notwithstanding, I love Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, and the bit with the credit card decline at the hotel front desk is somehow endearing.  Jane Lynch hits the nail on the head (as she almost always does), and I really enjoy Christopher Guest as Harlan Pepper...

Best of the Best    (1989, D: Radler)

This is the best bad karate movie ever.  I once joked that it starred the less talented siblings of both Sean Penn and Julia Roberts, though I'm just not sure that's the case on either count.  Not that I think either Chris Penn or Eric Roberts are any great shakes...I'm just no longer convinced Sean or Julia are the shit, either.

I love this movie.  Despite everything.  It's a horrible movie.  But I love it.  Especially the slo mo shots.  Especially when Sonny has to inform everybody that he's Italian.  Multiple times.

Do they coat Eric Roberts in a layer of slurm before each shot?  A double coating for fight scenes?

I love when Chris Penn, as Travis Brickley, yells "Drop him like a toilet seat."


Beyond the Mat    (1999, D: Blaustein).

Barry Blaustein's love letter to pro wrestling.  I hadn't watched this one in years.  It made me late for work watching Terry Funk's retirement section.  Made me sad and a little mad at myself watching Mick Foley get destroyed by the Rock.

This flick was the genesis of my bias against The Rock.  It's unfair, perhaps, to make a judgment based on one event and one perceived lack of caring as it involved both Mick's safety while taking chairshots, and lack of concern afterward.  Watching this made me realize how slanted against The Rock that shot was.  Blaustein goes out of his way to make Mick Foley a teddy bear.  It's an easy stance, because Mick seems like a hell of a good guy.  Maybe it showed a bit of truth, but it wasn't the best basis of judgment on my part, against the Rock, anyway....

I guess what I'm trying to say is:  I'm sorry Rocky.

Anyway.  Jake Roberts' section is still a kick in the gut.  Jake's wavered, and is currently supposedly on a path of the good right now, thanks to Dallas Page and others.  Based on everything this movie presents, and all the news after?  I'd never have guess Jake would have made it to 2014.....


Taking a break writing, now.  I need to get my ass in gear writing, though.  I'm all the way up to Cold Mountain....

Thursday, September 11, 2014


The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead....they weren't doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do.  As I understand it, and my understanding of this is vague at best, another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings.  We're told they were zealots fueled by religious fervor...religious fervor.  And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any God damn sense?  ---David Letterman

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

I (might) have the Kingslayer blood in me....

A bit of cross posting....this was a review of Susan Fern's The Man Who Killed Richard III over on Goodreads.com.

When I heard about the discovery of Richard III's remains under a parking lot, I thought it was an interesting story, but didn't give it a great deal of thought.

Then, earlier this year, after reading John Ehle's Trail of Tears, I started digging around my own family history. My maternal grandmother's family, the Reece Family, had the same name as a chief mentioned in Ehle's work. My Mom had a family history she'd worked on, but had run into a couple roadblocks which led to gaps into our knowledge.

Well, I joined up on ancestry.com. Played around. A lot of fine work has been done, and to those people, I owe a tremendous debt.  I discovered that my line of the Reece/Reese family wasn't descended from the chief mentioned in Trail of Tears. We may have been related, but I didn't come from him, at any rate. My Reece/Reese family game to Polk County, Tennessee by way of Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia and, as far back as I can see, Wales.

(Let me add here....working on ancestry.com is a mixed bag...there's a lot of good work done there, but there are also places where there's a leap of faith being made based on family tree info, rather than there being a concrete paper trail, and along a couple of other family lines, there are places where the math just doesn't work.  So, you have to be careful.  I take it with a grain of salt, and it might not be wise to take it as gospel.  That said, the work done along the Reece/Reese/Rhys line seems solid, and has multiple sources).

I went digging to see how far back I could go. I was impressed with the work of folks on the other side of the pond, who'd traced the family history back until before the year 1200. In my zeal to see just how far back the family name went, I didn't preform my due diligence to see just who these grandfathers were.

I'll admit to getting sidetracked by finding out that another great (x13) grandfather was the man who founded Pennsylvania.

It wasn't until early in August that I started reading to see who exactly these people were.

Well, Rhys ap Thomas is my great (x19) grandfather. And this book tells his story, as well as presenting evidence that he was the man who slew King Richard III. Interesting work, including Rhys's place in the reign of Henry VII, and his family's role in the life and reign of Henry VIII.  

The book itself is a quick, dry read with a lot of information packed within. I'll be going back to it in the future....