Sunday, May 31, 2009
And do you know what? It's a damn fine read. It's funny. It's intelligently written. You care for the characters, and for the most part, the five main characters in this book aren't very sympathetic people.
The band is the Blood Orphans. The next big thing. And they were formed for the purpose of being the next big thing. Darlo the drummer was the son of a porn king. Adam was the virtuoso guitar player who could play anything on the guitar as well playing just about any other instrument. Bobby the bassist had eczema and could barely play. Shane the lead singer was a born-again Christian turned into a pontificating Buddhist. And Joey the manager who started her music management company from the funds she received after having a leg mangled in a car accident.
The band was Joey and Darlo's idea. A Spinal Tap for real kind of band that would sing awful, loud, politically-incorrect songs, but in an ironical manner because they were in the know. And Warners signed them to a huge contract and advance and they were going to open for Aerosmith until that moment when Spin magazine came out and called the Blood Orphans CD racist. And the Aerosmith tour was no more and the radio stations wouldn't play their songs.
The book picks up in Amsterdam on the morning of their last concert of their second European tour. They're not staying in fancy hotels anymore. They're bunking in the house of a music groupie. The band members all hate each other. And Joey's just found out that Warners is dropping the band.
Over the day Bobby finds a girlfriend. Shane dumps all of his religious beliefs. Adam regains his confidence and sets the stage for a successful post-Blood Orphans career. Darlo's dad is arrested and Darlo relives painful childhood memories while he and Joey come to realize that they're meant for each other.
All of that is interesting. Most of these people, especially Darlo, Joey, and Shane are unsympathetic characters who we begin to pull for as the day advances. But the most interesting character is Amsterdam. Perhaps it's because I just returned from Amsterdam, and perhaps it's because I've been to Amsterdam around Christmas -- the time period of this book -- and perhaps it's because I've roamed Amsterdam by foot in rain and sunlight, but this book really captures that Amsterdam and it's character.
There's the absurdity of the whole Red Light District and how the girls just see the guys as customers and not people. And just a few steps away you're in quiet neighborhood. The book captures the insanity of the bike riders. And the people. I felt like I was walking the streets and canals and alleys like the characters of the book. So I give it a good recommendation. Give it a read. I think you'll like it.
Instead of getting out and about today, I've been prepping things for my big launch tomorrow -- be sure to check this space tomorrow morning. So I've had the TV on, and after the Astros game, there really wasn't that much on the TV. I hate NASCAR, so for some reason, I ended up on an Indy car race on ABC. And it seemed like every other commercial featured Danica Patrick.
Danica Patrick's an attractive woman. And she seems to be a good racer -- she seems to have won more races (1) than most of the guys in the race. But seriously, she seems to be about the only person the sport is showcasing. I know a lot of guys watch racing, so I really understand the whole sex aspect of the thing, but why not try Dario Franchitti for the women (and throw in a few crowd shots of his wife for the guys), or Helio Castroneves because of that whole Dancing With The Stars thing.
But I think what bugs me most is what bugs me most about golf. -- besides the whole golf being the only thing more boring than soccer. No matter where Patrick is in the race, she seems to be the only person that exists. Just as, if Tiger Woods is playing, he's the only person that exists -- no matter how far out of contention he might actually be.
Like I said, I understand the whole sex sells thing. But if Indy Car racing is ever going to get past NASCAR, it's got to do more than just throw out Danica Patrick in every ad, promo, and interview.
I'll just quote Barron to get this discussion started: "A couple of notes: I continue to be amazed at the degree to which Houston viewers watch less TV than viewers in other larger markets. For example, the Dancing finale was viewed by 6.3 percent of total viewers in Houston, and the Idol results show was seen by 6 percent. The 6.3 percent number for Dancing was the lowest top-rated program in any of the 20-plus markets where Nielsen uses local people meters to measure audiences.
"By comparison, more than 10 percent of total viewers watched the Idol finales in Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Tampa-St. Pete, St. Louis and Sacramento. At least 9 percent watched in New York, Los Angeles and Philly. A 6.3 rating wouldn't have cracked the top 10 in Philadelphia, and it would have been fifth or sixtn [sic] in most markets.
"I guess we've got stuff to do here other than watch TV, which isn't necessarily a bad thing."
But, no, that's not what these ratings prove. They prove anything but.
For one thing, Barron does give us the complete ratings for the month. When there are literally hundreds of channels to watch, you can't know how many people are watching TV without checking the numbers for all programs. Just because the same number of people in Houston didn't watch American Idol and Dancing With The Stars as the rest of the country doesn't mean that less people were watching the TV in Houston.
Perhaps they were watching the Astros lose on Fox Sports Houston. Perhaps they were watching the Fox News Channel -- and in Houston, that's a real possibility. Maybe they were watching the NBA playoffs, or a movie on HBO. Maybe people in Houston had a real life one of those nights -- like I did with the Houston Aeros -- and they recorded the programs on their DVRs and watched these shows at another time. That's a number that can't be calculated because DVR programs and time-shifted programs aren't counted in the TV ratings.
And maybe Barron's write. Maybe Houston does watch less TV than the rest of the country. But he doesn't prove this, or offer up any evidence to support this conclusion. He just shows the top programs for the week, compares to other cities and the nation, and makes a blanket conclusion. But until he gets into an actual discussion with a look at all of the numbers and all of the programs, then he's just making an unsupported conclusion.
And a media writer should know better.
I've spent most of this weekend reliving ancient Astros history as the MLB Network has put the spotlight on 1980 NLCS featuring the Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. It was a five game series, and it's one of the greatest series in NLCS history. Games Two through Five all went into extra innings. There were controversial plays -- I still believe to this day that the Astros pulled off the triple play in Game Four. There was the heartache of the Astros losing a three run lead late in Game Five to lose the series.
The games shown were Games Three and Five. I can't understand why Game Four wasn't shown as that was the one with all of the controversy and bizarre plays. But it was strange watching the games.
First, I forgot how much fun Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell were to listen to do a game, especially with Don Drysdale joining them in the booth. The production was simple. There weren't graphics constantly on the screen, but I felt just as informed and in-touch on what was going on in the games than I do now. There weren't the tight shots up the pitcher's nose. The games moved quicker. There weren't ads plastered across every available inch of of space on the outfield walls.
Then there were some personal memories of Game Three. It was on a Friday afternoon. I was a high school freshman. I remember rushing home and getting home about midway through the game. I remember after the game that my Dad called and said we could have gone to the game -- we had entered a lottery for playoff tickets, and my Dad had won tickets for a World Series game, so he went to the Dome to pickup the tickets, and while they were there they put up for sale some tickets that hadn't been claimed for the game that day. But he said he didn't think my Mom would let me out of school for the game so he didn't even try to get the tickets. My Mom got so mad because she knew how I was with baseball and she would have pulled me from school.
And I realized just how much I miss the old Astros rainbow uniforms. And the Dome. I miss the Dome. But I really miss the rainbow uniforms. So thanks for the memories MLB Network.
And I got sucked in watching a Mel Gibson movie from back in the late-90s, Payback, from when he was The Big Thing. It's amazing thinking about, but today, Gibson's a laughing stock. He's an alcoholic anti-Semite with some rather strange religious views who recently dumped his wife of forever and has taken up with some hot young Russian model. He's lampooned on South Park. And Jim Rome loves to use his "Give me back my son!" shout from Ransom.
So I got to thinking. When was Mel Gibson's last movie? What was the last movie that he starred in? When was the last time someone looked forward to the new Mel Gibson movie. Sure, he's directed a couple of movies, but this guy was a huge MOVIE STAR! Now he's a joke.
Tom Cruise became a laughing stock because of his religious beliefs -- if you call Scientology a religion -- but he kept working. And thanks to Tropic Thunder last year, he's kind of, but not quite yet, regained his image as a star. But not Mel Gibson. He's still a joke.
I've got no real point with this, but I was just amazed, I guess. I got to watching this movie and remembered that this guy was a pretty good actor. Now he's a joke known for calling a cop "sugar-tits" and being a bit of a bigot. And it's a shame, really.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
That's another one that Ortiz got wrong.
The speculation in Houston lately, fed partly by the Chron, has been that Cecil Cooper is close to being losing his job as the team's manager. This speculation has been led by Cooper apparently losing complete control of his clubhouse as well as losing the respect of most of the team.
But SI.com's Jon Heyman, one of the most respected baseball writers in the business, is reporting that the person who is about to be fired isn't Cecil Cooper, but general manager Ed Wade. Heyman notes how ugly it's gotten in Houston and the clubhouse, but he goes to his sources who claim the cause of this ugliness is not Cooper, but Wade.
"Some people believe the real problem is not Cooper but general manager Ed Wade, who is said to be a frequent and negative presence in Houston's clubhouse, frequently talking tough while impressing few," Heyman writes. "Wade is viewed as a meddler who puts everyone in a defensive mode, including Cooper, who has no choice but to play along. 'Being a new manager, Cooper tried to go along with it,' one person close to Cooper said. 'It's not Coop's fault.'"
Heyman goes on to recap last year's incident between Wade and former pitcher Shaun Chacon to prove his point, and he notes something that's not been mentioned before: when the attack happened, Astros players stood around cheering on Chacon until, finally, Hunter Pence pulled Chacon away, possibly saving Wade's life.
For what it's worth, in his live blog last night, Ortiz disputed Heyman's account of what happened in the clubhouse that night and vehemently denies that players were cheering Chacon. I have heard conflicting accounts on this, but I'm inclined to believe Heyman on this matter. However, I'm not inclined to go with Heyman on it being Wade who will be replaced. Wade was a hire of Tal Smith, and those two go way back and are good friends. Cooper was forced upon Smith and Wade by Bud Selig. And it's Smith who has the ear of McLane, not Cooper. So if anyone's fired, it will be Cooper, not Wade.
At least that's my opinion. I personally think Smith, Wade, and Cooper all need to go, but I'm not being asked.
Finally, Cecil Cooper held a closed door meeting with the players earlier this week. And it has come out that, during the meeting, one of the veterans players supposedly said it either him or Cooper had to go. And the emerging speculation is that that player was Roy Oswalt.
I should be paying about $780 a month for my medical coverage -- and you wonder why there are so many uninsured people in the country -- but thanks to President Obama, I'm only paying about $270 a month for the next six months or so. But since I sent the COBRA folks a nice fat $750 check before the Obama-break was figured into my account, I got to see that money applied to future months. So it came out to my owing about $35 bucks to keep my coverage in June.
Well, I suppose it's all my fault, because, after all, the initial bill I got was for $270. But knowing I already had some money credited, I sent a check for $50, figuring that would cover everything. And when I noted that the check had cleared, which was after I got another bill saying that I only $38 bucks, I figured that my coverage for June was handled as well.
Then I got online yesterday to check. And there I discovered that I had a credit in my account of $12 bucks, but that my coverage would expire on Sunday, the last day of May. So I called, and after waiting on hold for about 15 minutes, after first getting hung up on, I got through to a human being who told me that I would probably be covered for June, but that I should check back next week -- which would be June. And I went for the logic argument: I was looking at the bill which said I owed $38. And I sent a check for $50 -- which they cashed. And my online account showed I had paid for June. So why wouldn't it show that.
Because they don't do that. They wait until the actual first of the month to make the determination for whether coverage stays intact. So it doesn't matter what the account says about payments and credits, what matters is what happens when they come into the office on Monday, June 1, and start taking a look at everything. So sometime next week, we don't know, I should once again have medical coverage. Which means if something should happen to me after midnight on Sunday, and before the money in my account is actually applied to June, then I'm once again paying for coverage myself.
Here's the thing. I took the time to call, and I was told that my coverage would end on Sunday. And it said that online. Now I knew I had sent the money in. But what if it's a family. And the wife thinks the husband paid this, then she calls and finds out that coverage is ending, then she's going to send in more money to make sure the coverage doesn't end. And the bastards get to collect more money.once
(An aside, to any of you who are fighting the changes in paying for healthcare in the U.S. and screaming about socialism, lose your job. Then see how you fucking like the medical insurance system. Unless you're some rich bastard, you'll be screaming for socialized medicine. I don't care if it's socialized or not. I just want some option other than COBRA and insurance companies who love to collect your premiums while denying coverage.)
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to collect $305 bucks for doctor/dentist visits in April which came before the COBRA folks bothered to bill me. I'm in that old run-around phase where they're telling me it's my fault for not being covered, and I'm telling that a:) I couldn't pay for coverage until COBRA actually bothered to bill me, and b:) according to COBRA, once I paid them, coverage extended back to cover all of the month of April. To which the insurance company responds that it's my fault for not paying my premium before the first of April and which I respond I couldn't pay a premium until COBRA actually billed me, and on, and on, and on.
So that's the latest from my adventures in unemployment.
And the use of "The Closer" at the end really nails how TNT shoves this program down the viewer's throat during every event.
Apparently, there's a person over there who's not a fan of U2 -- he basically said The Joshua Tree was an album only in that it had 11 songs that sounded the same. And he goes on for awhile to trash the band and say they're a band that only people who grew up on them in the 80s like.
I like U2. I'm not their biggest fan. They're definitely not my favorite band, but unlike many, I appreciate the fact that not only are they into their fourth decade as a band, but that they keep tinkering with their music and not putting out the same thing time after time. Sure Pop sucked, but at least they were trying something different and that album helped make the first time I heard "Beautiful Day" that more memorable and joyful.
(As an aside, while I like that they tinkered with their stuff, I like that at least stayed in the same sphere of music -- pop/rock -- unlike one Elvis Costello. Anyone who reads me regularly knows how big a fan I am of Elvis Costello. And I appreciate that Elvis probably got tired of trying to turn out This Year's Model (one of the greatest albums of all time) time after time, but damn, country music, 1950s pop standards, symphonies. I've stuck with Elvis on many of his adventures because I realized he needed to expand a bit, but damn it, I'm still waiting for my refund from that purchase of Kojak Variety.)
But I digress...
So after the blog post goes all anti-U2, people get to comment. And there are people trying to claim that Van Halen is better than U2, and The Smiths (seriously, talk about singing the same damn song all of the time). But then somebody comments that if The Police would have stuck it out and remained a band, recording album after album like U2 has been doing, that it would be The Police who would be remembered as the band of the 1980s and still be seen as one of the great, currently relevant bands.
And I think that guy's right. The Police were torn apart because, ultimately, the three members of the band got to where they really hated each other -- especially, from what I remember reading, Sting and Stewart Copeland. And the band couldn't function as a whole because they all wanted their stuff to be a focus. Remember, the band was a fusion of rock, pop, punk, reggae, and new wave. They were doing much the same type stuff as The Clash and Elvis Costello (there was a part on that Elvis Costello talk show he had on Sundance where Stewart Copeland admitted that he ripped off drum riffs from Elvis's drummer who they all admitted ripped the riffs off from The Clash).
But then Sting started becoming a film star and wanted to get all jazzy and slow things down while Copeland fought the devaluing of his drum work so they split. Copeland did some fantastic movie scores -- the score to Rumble Fish is still a revelation to me over 20 years later. Andy Summers moved into jazz bands. And Sting essentially became one of the world's biggest douches who last made a decent album in 1992 -- seriously, just about everything he's done since has been an exact repeat of the ballads with screams he's been doing, well, except for that thing with the lutes he did.
But what if they remained together and worked their differences out as a band. What if Copeland and Summers were able to keep Sting's worst tendencies under control. What if Sting relented and gave up a bit on the world music. What if the band had remained together and continued fusing their interests into a rock band?
Anybody who saw the band on their reunion tour knows that these guys can still rock out -- though damn it, would have been too much for The Police to do the original version of "Roxanne" and "Don't Stand So Close To Me" -- though the 2007/08 version of "Can't Stand Losing You" is fantastic.
So there you have it. My inelegant argument for why The Police, if they would have stayed together, continued touring, continued turning out albums, would be seen as one of the all-time great bands and not U2. After all, U2 never turned out hit songs about suicide, prostitution, stalking, or pedophilia.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I hate the cattle-car mentality of this airline that has seemingly been adopted by every other airline. I hate that there is no leg room on their flights. I hate that their idea of excess is peanuts. I hate the wisecracking flight attendants -- if you want to be a comedian so damn bad, then try doing it for real. I hate that you can't reserve seats, and that by the time I can generally squeeze onto one of their damn planes some five foot midget has grabbed a the last remaining exit row seat. Their whole attitude has migrated to all of the other airlines. And damn it, I hate that, while I've been flying them for years, I've never seen a flight attendant who looks attractive enough to have made the cut for the airline in the 1970s.
And now they're letting dogs fly in fucking coach. Southwest announced today that, starting June 17, small dogs and cats -- i.e., rats because they have to fit in containers that go under the seat for the entire flight -- can fly for $75. I know the other airlines allow this, but in all of my years stuck flying coach on many of the nation's other airlines, I've never been stuck next to Paris Hilton and that rat she calls a dog. But Southwest is making it open season.
It's bad enough that two-thirds of every flight I fly appears to be occupied by white-trash rednecks who don't own a pair of pants or shoes. But now they get to bring their damn animals on the plane. What next, are they going to allow Joe Bob and Cletus to string up laundry on the flight?
I know the airline industry is in trouble. And most of it is of their own making. There's the way they treat passengers like crap. There's the fact that, on most airlines, no one passenger paid the same price for a seat. There's the way they've turned peanuts into a meal. And designed the coach passenger cabins so that nobody under five feet tall is allowed to sit without their knees hitting their chin. But the industry really is going to the dogs, and perhaps we should all just sit back and let every damn airline die.
Then maybe the industry can be reborn. And it can be reborn with a new mission. That the passengers actually deserve to be treated with respect. That those in coach deserve legroom just as much as the pricks up in first class. And that if I'm on a flight from Houston to Seattle, then I shouldn't have to share the damn cabin with a bunch of barking dogs.
There’s not much discussion of the Texas Rangers down in these parts -- except for when they’re beating the asses of the Houston Astros, which they seem to do quite often. So Tom Hicks announcing now that he’s willing to sell a majority interest in the franchise normally wouldn’t generate much interest in Houston.
Normally, that it is. Except when Houston icon Nolan Ryan might be involved.
Ryan is a partner in two successful minor league franchises affiliated with the Houston Astros, the Round Rock Express and the Corpus Christi Hooks. And one of Ryan’s partners in these two franchises is Don Sanders, a former minority owner of the Houston Astros under John McMullen. Ryan is also the president of the Texas Rangers, a position he was allowed to assume when Drayton McLane let him out of a management contract Ryan was under with the Astros.
On Wednesday, when Hicks made his announcement, Ryan refused to comment, saying that he had yet to speak with Hicks about the matter. Yesterday, Ryan told the Dallas Morning News that “I think that here in the future we’ll see where this goes, and if there’s a possibility, I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Ryan also stated that if he purchased the Rangers, he would so as part of a group because “it's very rare that you find one or two individuals owning them, it's usually a group.”
If a somebody new comes along to purchase the Rangers, they’ll find a team that, unlike the Houston Astros, is in good shape talent wise. Ryan has made improving the Rangers pitching staff a priority, and unlike previous Ranger-management types who allowed Hicks to unwisely spend millions of dollars on the likes of Ismael Valdez and Chan-Ho Park, Ryan has worked on building a pitching staff in the minors that is equipped to pitch in the homer haven that is the Rangers home ballpark -- currently, the Rangers pitching staff ranks first in the majors in complete games. The Rangers are also in first place of the American League West, and along with the pitching, Ryan has been stressing that his team learn to play defense.
The Astros are none of those things at the moment. While the Rangers currently have one of the best minor league systems in baseball, the Astros have one of the worst. And while the Rangers currently have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, the Astros have one of the worst. The Astros defense is atrocious -- witness Miguel Tejada allowing seven unearned runs to score on Monday afternoon. Also, unlike with the Astros, Ryan has installed a strong management team up in Arlington.
Drayton McLane seems to be happy with his management team here in Houston. He went so far yesterday as to say that Cecil Cooper was not going to be fired, and neither he nor general manager Ed Wade employed the dreaded words “vote of confidence.” But one can’t help thinking that maybe the Astros would be in better shape today if it was Ryan, and not Tal Smith and Ed Wade were running the club.
The city was devastated when Nolan Ryan departed the Astros after the 1988 season and joined the Texas Rangers. I can’t help but imagine that things would be any better this time around if Ryan were to purchase the Rangers and turn them into a consistent winners while the Astros sank into oblivion of mediocrity. If that was to happen, then I think it’s quite possible that John McMullen and Bud Adams will no longer be the most hated sports team owners in Houston history.
I want to apologize for this letter that I wrote to you last week accusing you of pulling a scam on me with my checking accounts. I didn't know that you were preparing to give your investment bankers pay raises, so I want to apologize for my selfishness.
Sure you keep changing the rules on my no-interest, no-maintenance fee checking accounts so that, from nowhere, you're charging me maintenance fees. I was really surprised by the last time you hit me with maintenance fees because, not only was I told when I transferred my funds to that account that there were no fees with that account, but also because you charged me a maintenance fee even though, according to your own rules published on your website, I wasn't supposed to charged a fee because I met all of the minimum requirements for no fee.
But like I said, I didn't realize that you wanted to give raises to your investment bankers. I know that ruining the economy and putting the country in the crapper must be a tough job, especially now that you've had to cut back on all of the bonuses. If you would have just told me that you needed to give these brave people a raise, I would have gladly allowed you to rob the money from my checking account. But I didn't know, so I made you put that money back.
I hope that this doesn't mean that some investment banker is going to starve because of me. I'm the one who is unemployed and living off of my savings. I'm useless. It's your bankers who are making the world run. I recognize my mistake, and I realize what must be done. So please pilfer all that you want from my accounts. I'll just starve and die because I'm just a worthless person. I just hope that your investments bankers use these raises properly, like keeping their kids in expensive private schools, paying for plastic surgery for their favorite stripper, or maybe cocaine to shove up their noses.
Once again, I apologize for my selfishness.
I mention this because suddenly, for the first time in years, Tarkenton, a Hall of Fame quarterback, is in the news. And let's just say that Mr. Tarkenton isn't a big fan of Brett Favre's. Though he expresses some admiration for Favre as a QB, he also calls him one of the stupidest guys to ever play QB and talks about Favre's recklessness costs the Packers countless games. But that's not his biggest problem with Favre. He thinks Favre is a jerk and a rotten human being.
Favre, according to Tarkenton, is a selfish QB who doesn't really care about his team -- whichever team that might be. And Tarkenton really doesn't want to see him on the Vikings, though Tarkenton says he kind of hopes it happens to Favre can fail once again.
So one of the analysts at ESPN decided to go after Tarkenton, calling him a grumpy old man. Well, I'll let Tarkenton respond:
"Marcellus Wiley, who is trying to parlay a minimal football career into still making more money. This grumpy old man is 69 years old, I own six businesses, I’ve built 16 over the years, I’m paying my taxes, I’ve started two new businesses, we’re hiring more people, we’re not laying them off, we’re not cutting their salaries — we’re increasing their salaries, and in this society we are productive when so many people are not productive. I’m not playing croquette down at Orlando at the Villages, I’m not playing golf every day, I’m out there as a 69 year old … making money out of sports or with sports — I’m creating and building businesses from the ground up: that’s this grumpy old man."
I'm one of those people who agree with Tarkenton. I'm sick of the whole Favre thing every year. And like Tarkenton, I'm sick of the whole media suck-up to Favre -- I think the whole reason John Madden finally retired was that his body could stand the constant orgasms it went through whenever Madden talked about Favre. I don't think the Vikings need Favre to win. Not when they have Adrian Peterson at running back. However, if the Vikings want to destroy the team, then Favre might be the way to go.
I also like how some of the posters at this link are blasting Tarkenton as a choke artist who couldn't win the big game. It should be noted that Tarkenton's Vikings lost to three of the greatest football teams of the era -- the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Oakland Raiders. Those three teams dominated the 70s. I know because I watched the Oilers lose a lot of games to those teams. Sure the Vikings got their asses kicked in those games, but trashing Tarkenton is kind of like trashing Jim Kelly and calling him a loser.
Now, if you want to trash Tarkenton for being a lousy color analyst for Monday Night Football, I'll say you have a point. Or if you want to trash him for that awful That's Incredible thing he did for ABC, I'll let you have that one. But he's right about Favre, and I won't let you defile Tarkenton's memory by calling him a loser who's not as good as Favre, because that's just not true.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
And it's the primary number one reason that Cooper's job might be in jeopardy. It's that primary reason of all primary reasons, too. He got the vote of confidence from Drayton McLane today. And you know what happens when the vote of confidence is issued, don't you? Yep, the person given that vote of confidence generally loses his job pretty soon thereafter.
Sure, Drayton didn't quite use the words "vote of confidence." But he said just about everything else to give that implication. ""He's only been the manager for a year and a half," McLane told the Chron. "I think that's somewhat premature (to discuss firing Cooper)."
He also said "firing the manager is not in the cards" and that he "believes in Cecil."
I don't know about you. But if I were Cecil Cooper, and I were reading those words, I'd be packing my bags, collecting the items in my office, and updating my resume.
The Astros lost again last night, 6-1, to the Cincinnati Reds. And the rumblings about manager Cecil Cooper’s job are growing louder and louder. Now Cooper has seemed to be a bit oblivious to the obvious in his two-plus years as manager, so here’s a little list for him to use in figuring out his job status.
1. Cooper, when you start calling out ace and franchise-icon Roy Oswalt after a loss, your job’s in trouble.
2. If the fans are excited about the return of Brandon Backe, then you should be troubled.
3. When the best news for the Astros this week is Backe being cleared by a Galveston grand jury, the team’s in trouble, and you’re in trouble.
4. If your team has just been swept by the Cincinnati Reds for the first time in five years, then your job future is hazy.
5. If your star shortstop, who you refuse to give a day off, is responsible for allowing seven unearned runs to score in a game, then your job is probably in trouble.
6. If your team is trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates, your job should be in trouble.
7. When your high-powered offense has scored more runs than only four other major league teams, you should be worrying.
8. When the MLB Network shows highlights from an Astros game, but shows only the other team, you’re in trouble.
9. If you call a clubhouse meeting but it turns into a meeting about players discussing you to the media, you might soon be on the unemployment line.
10. When Bronson Arroyo defeats your team by throwing just 92 pitches in a complete game, you better start worrying.
11. When even Jose de Jesus Ortiz starts to turn to you, that’s a really bad omen.
12. If your closer is LaTroy Hawkins, you should worry.
13. If you gave Jason Smith 25 at-bats despite his having .000 average, your job is probably about to be non-existent.
14. If the fans are booing and not saying “Coop,” worry.
15. If Wandy Rodriguez is the rock of your starting rotation, update your resume.
16. If Brian Moehler is still in your rotation despite an 8.81 ERA, forget about updating your resume. You should start looking for a spot on a street corner instead.
17. If your players are texting Jose de Jesus Ortiz and calling you an idiot, you probably don’t have the best job security.
18. When Richard Justice says it’s over, well, it’s probably over.
19. If you weren’t hired by the general manager, then you should probably worry.
20. When you’re players don’t trust you, you’re probably toast.
Apparently, they believe that a judge is supposed to rule on a reading of the law, and (s)he's not supposed to take into account anything else except for the facts. And in theory, that's correct. But trust me, that's not how it works.
My first job out of law school was as a clerk for a state district court judge. And in Texas, the judges are elected, and in Texas, at this time, most of the judges were former insurance defense attorneys who ruled on the basis of what was best for insurance companies. Sure, they cloaked the rulings in the law, but they identified with the insurance companies, so they found ways to bend the laws to their liking.
And on the Supreme Court, anybody who knows anything about Antonin Scalia knows his opinions are somewhat grounded in his religious upbringing -- a strict Catholicism -- in which women are property. And it's also kind of funny to see the GOPers bitching about Sotomayor's beliefs seeing as how the most recent addition to the Supreme Court, an ancestor of Italian immigrants named Samuel Alito -- appointed by Dubya -- stated the following at his confirmation hearings: "When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account." (Emphasis mine).
So seriously, if it's okay for Alito, it's okay for Sotomayor. And for what it's worth, like I said, no matter what they say, every judge does the exact same thing. It's just human nature. So maybe the GOPers should find something halfway legit to bitch about when it comes to this nomination.
Anyway, somehow or another, Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" isn't considered to be as good a break-up song at "Here I Go Again" or "Seperate Ways." And as far as I know, those two songs didn't have the song's lead singer writing and singing about the song's back-up singer and forcing her to perform it concert after concert, year after year.
So here's my number one break-up song, "Go Your Own Way."
For what it matters, I have less trouble with The J.Geils Band's "Love Stinks" ranking higher than Fleetwood Mac, and slightly less trouble with Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"(which was number one), but still, Fleetwood Mac should be number one.
I can see the point. I've always been iffy on R.E.M. myself. When the band's good, it's damn good. But too often, the band is just so-so, with, too me, about half of each album usually sounding like filler. But neither of those three bands make my list.
Instead, I've got to go with Radiohead, Nirvana, and Led Zeppelin. Radiohead, to me, has always been overindulgent crap with a monotone, whiny singer -- the most interesting thing I've ever heard from that band was from the guitarist who did the soundtrack for There Will Be Blood. As for Nirvana, I've liked some songs, but as a whole, I never brought in to the act -- I've always been more partial to Pearl Jam for what it matters. My all-time favorite Nirvana song is one that came out about a decade after Kurt Cobain died, and I'm much more of a fan of Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana work -- hell, I love Foo Fighters.
But the one band off all that I've just never gotten is Led Zeppelin. Sure, some songs were good -- you put out that much stuff and you do something good. Yes, I know all about the heavy metal, blues, rock fusion thing, but The Kinks, Rolling Stones, and The Who did it all much better in much tighter, tidier song structures, I think.
That's my two-cents, for what it's worth. So I'll throw it open to the mob. Agree, disagree? Let me know. And what about you? What bands are there that you know that you're supposed to love based on your musical interest, but have never ever been able to fully embrace?
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
For those not familiar with the facts, it goes something like this. The owners locked the players out in 1994, bringing the season to a halt. And the owners were making plans to go with scab players for the 1995 season. Until Judge Sonia Sotomayor ruled that the owners were violating the collective bargaining laws and ordered the restoration of free agency and arbitration while stating that collective bargaining begin again. The lockout was ended and baseball returned.
Mike Lupica takes exception to this, and says that she saved only the season, but not the sport. And like normal, Lupica is wrong. Because the owners were serious about that scab baseball thing. They held spring training with scabs. There was even a game in the Dome between the Yankees and Astros that was played by scabs. And scab baseball would have ruined the sport.
Most of the scabs were washed up major leaguers or low level minor leaguers who were never going to make the majors. Sure, it would have been baseball, but while the quality of play would have been minor league, the ticket prices were going to be major league. And there's no surer way to kill something than to charge high prices for a mediocre product -- as Drayton McLane is now learning.
So as far as I'm concerned, anybody who saved baseball is definitely Supreme Court worthy.
But I'm really pissed at Microsoft at the moment. Not so much with the Vista operating system -- I haven't worked enough with all of the actual software yet but I know the problems will come -- but with the software on the computer itself. I brought a fully-loaded system. Well, not one with all of the extras, but one loaded with the operating system and the Microsoft Works package and antivirus protection, etc., and this stuff was supposed to have been installed just days before. If that's so, then why did I just spend most of my fucking evening downloading updates for the operating system and for Internet Explorer?
But my whole damn day was like that.
I've been working on starting a business venture -- I promise to share the details when it's fully ready. But I'm beginning to think that that might never happen.
I sent out my idea/prospectus to a bunch of friends back in April. Only a few responded. All loved it. So I went forward. A friend in banking told me not to worry about all of the business corp. crap. Just get started and start operating he said. Worry about all of that stuff later. So that's what I did, primarily because he's one of the few of my "so-called" fucking friends who responded at the time.
So I've gotten a new computer. I've brought business cards and office supplies. Hell, I purchased a damn website. And on that website I made it real simple, because my idea is real simple and I want to push simplicity and no overhead. There's a home page where I discuss the business. There's a biography page. And a resume page. And a rates page. And I sent this out to all of the people I sent the original to. I don't know why. I just thought some last input before I went live was important.
And now every fucking person has thoughts on the matter. Nobody liked the website -- I seem to be the only person in the world who likes simple black font on a white background. So I added colors, and those weren't liked. So I changed the colors. Then I had to make the font bigger. Then all of the editors came in and told me to fix the language. Then somebody decided to criticize my rates and said I should jack them up -- which was going against the original concept they obviously never read.
Then my biography wasn't formal enough. But then it was too formal. And the resume was too detailed, then not detailed enough. Then I sounded desperate, but not desperate enough. And then came the stuff about how I needed to file paperwork for a DBA, only I don't need to file for a DBA, but I need a small business account, but I don't need a small business account.
I wanted to go live with this on Monday. I'm not expecting any work next week, but I wanted to launch it. But suddenly I'm being barraged by people telling me I don't know what the fuck I'm doing.
My idea's simple. It'll probably fail -- that's just how things go with me -- but it's simple, and it's good. And I wanted to keep everything around it simple to fit the concept. I wanted no overhead. Low costs. Then I could undercut some companies who are sort of doing what I'm doing, but not at the scale that I would be doing it. It would just be me. And a laptop. Doing something I'm good at. Simple. Easy.
Only now it seems, nobody wants simple. Or easy. Or high concept. It needs complications. It needs to be everything I don't want it to be. Or so people say.
I know they mean well. That's why I asked. They're all people in my profession, or related professions. And they're just trying to help. But I think there are only really five people I can rely on right now. And they've been quiet these past couple of days, these days since I sent the website out for review. I think I know what they think. I'm pretty sure they would just tell me to ignore everybody and just do it. I know that's what my banker's friend telling me -- he knows what he's talking about because he warned me about this whole banking thing several years ago -- but I just don't know anymore.
I've just got this feeling that, come this time next month I'm going to be hoping for a job at McDonalds. And I shouldn't feel like that, should I/
Anyway, thanks for reading while I vented. Hopefully things will return to semi-normal soon. But just in case, I guess I should get some practice in: "Would you like fries with that, sir?"
And I suppose that, if I have any regrets, it's that I never got to see The Kinks in concert. I don't care that I never saw the Stones or The Beatles -- I was five when they broke up -- but The Kinks were still touring into the late-80s. Oh well, such is life.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Now, if it were the "Nerd Herd," and I was getting assistance from Chuck Bartowski and especially from Sarah Walker, it might be worth the additional coverage. But otherwise, no thank you.
Plus I'm close to starting my little business venture -- stay tuned for more details -- and that's taking more time than I thought. More time. And it will still probably be months before I have any clients or income -- I'm dreading that, but still optimistic about the venture.
I've got a few other things I'm trying to finish up. And I've got stuff for the mothership to handle everyday. So stick with me. I'll try to throw something up everyday -- a swimsuit photo or video of some kind at least.
And finally, I realized just how much I've been cranking out the last several months since this whole unemployment adventure started, and I can't believe I've done so much. It feels like nothing, yet I don't know if I can continue with that every month. One thing I want to do when the free time comes -- and you would think an unemployed guy would have nothing but free time -- is to get back to the heavy baseball blogging that I started the season with. This blog is, kind of sorta, supposed to have a nice heavy sports orientation to it, after all.
So thanks for sticking with me, and thanks, as always, for reading. (And I just know that some one is going to click the "who cares" button. Go ahead. Make me feel bad, see if I care.)
Supposedly, Brandon Backe is ready to return to the Houston Astros. And seeing how bad the rotation has been, Backe's looking like he could make a positive difference. And seeing how bad Backe was last season, that's saying a lot.
Some quick notes on the Astros.
Pudge Rodriguez hurt his knee yesterday and left the game early. That left Humberto Quintero and Edwin Maysonet to handle the catching. And Maysonet's an infielder who just joined the big club from Round Rock, and he's never caught a game before. That makes me feel real confident.
I really feel confident because despite Kaz Matsui sucking up the joint big time, Maysonet isn't getting any playing time as it. And with Geoff Blum injured, the Astros are looking really thin on the bench.
Also, expect Astros.com to become the place to go for accurate Astros information as the Chron's Brian McTaggart is joining MLB.com to cover the Astros at Astros.com. Unlike some, McTaggart won't pull his punches, and he actually brings a much needed show of credibility to Astros.com.
Monday, May 25, 2009
So here's a little help. Blondie with "Dreaming."
But I don't want to leave you feeling, so for now, here's a little Elvis Costello with "Everyday I Write The Book."
I'll be back later with some stuff for the Aeros.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
For this test, you have to know who Tom Landry is. You have to know where the Cowboys play. You need to know the number of stars on the cheerleader uniform.
Oh, you need to be able to name a country that borders Iraq. (I guess that means Dubya wouldn't be able to pass the test then.)
I wonder what the Texans cheerleaders have to do. Do they have to know who Dom Capers is? Or where the Texans play? Do they even have stars on the cheerleaders uniform?
Oh well. I just thought this was a good excuse for throwing up a photo of a scantily-dressed woman.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
"Be the puck! Be the puck!"
And since the game went into two overtimes, which was 84:29 minutes of action, we heard that a lot. But of course, all that I could think of when he went off like this was that it made no sense. Well, that's a bit of lie, I thought it made no sense, then I thought how it didn't make any sense when Chevy Chase was saying essentially the same thing in Caddyshack.
Of course, this did come from Chevy Chase, and Chase was playing, as usual, the fool. So anything he says was meant to be taken as comedy, not as some philosophy by which to live.
But damn it, it was funny, during a tense game, to hear some guy continuously mangling Chevy Chase all night. Hopefully for the next game, if there is a next game, he'll go with "Hey, General Francisco Franco is still dead."
I'm going to become an intern.
An intern for the Lingerie Football League.
Sure, income for interns is usually nonexistent. But I'm thinking that a pleasant working atmosphere my make up for that whole lack of income thing.
So wish me luck. I have a feeling that it's going to be a difficult job, but someone's got to do it. So why not me? Right?
That said, I might have to become a golfer. And I might have to make my upcoming business venture a huge success on top of that because there's a new group, Play Golf Designs, which is making professional women golfers available to you or your foursome for a small fee, and she will play a round of golf with you.
Normally, I wouldn't find that interesting, but one of the lady golfers taking a part of this service is Anna Rawson.
And Anna Rawson is gorgeous. So I might be totally bored by the game of golf, but damn, I think playing 18 holes with Ms. Rawson might be kind of fun.
Friday, May 22, 2009
So here's Prince and The Revolution with "Let's Go Crazy."
For instance, for this upcoming season, the team is providing it's high-money ticket holders special handheld devices called "Dolphins Mobile Vision" which will provide these premium ticket holders with 11 different camera angles with which to enjoy the game from their seats. And one of those cameras is the "cheerleader cam."
So if you're a rich old man, you can get up-and-close and personal with these lovely young ladies for the entire game. For those rest of us perverts, we're just going to have to settle for watching them through binoculars from the Bob Uecker seats, or else hoping the network takes pity and sends those of us at home the occasional cheerleader shot.
But somehow, I don't quite think that that's going to be the same.
This is also further proof of my theory that sex sells.
I got The Baseball Talmud sent to me from a friend of the author, Howard Megdal. When I heard the title, I thought it might be some mediation on the struggles of Jews in playing baseball. About how they handle playing around rednecks and Christians who try to convert them all of the time. I thought it might be some kind of philosophical treatise.
It’s none of those things.
What it is a listing, by position, of the best Jewish players in the history of major league baseball. And it’s an interesting read. Part stat geek job, and part Jon Stewart comedy riff on the perils of being Jewish in major sports.
But what surprised me most, I suppose, was that there’s actually been a surprising amount of Jewish players who have been with the Houston Astros (Colt .45s). And what really surprised me, more than anything is that I really didn’t know this, especially some of the more current names, because it seems like the Christianity of some of the players on the current Astros is constantly discussed, and the Astros as an organization go out of their way to show what a fine Christian organization it is.
There have only been about 150 Jewish players to make the big leagues, and 14 of those have, at one time or the other, been Astros. For instance, according to the book, the third best Jewish catcher of all time is Brad Ausmus. And it shocked me that I didn’t know that Ausmus was Jewish. It’s not that he’s Jewish, it’s that I’m amazed he could have played with a team that had guys like Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Morgan Ensberg, etc., who made such a big deal out of their Christianity. Because if they’re really big Christians, like they claimed, shouldn’t they have tried converting him at some time?
Ausmus is about the best Jewish player to have ever played for the Astros. Norm Miller was a serviceable right fielder in the late-60s and early-70s. And Dave Roberts was an okay starter in the early-70s. But most of the team’s Jewish players have been guys like David Newhan, and Skip Jutze, and Frank Charles. Guys who were good enough to make the majors, but not good enough to leave much of an impression. Brad Ausmus was good, but he’ll never be confused with Sandy Koufax or Hank Greenberg when it comes to baseball greatness.
Like I said, the book’s an interesting read. It’s part cultural history. Part baseball stat freak wonderful. And the author also lets everyone know that Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” got it wrong. Rod Carew’s not a Jew. He married one. He raised his children as Jews. But he never converted. Despite what the song says.
And Brad Ausmus might not get to the Hall of Fame like Rod Carew, but not only is he the best catcher in Astros history, he’s also one of the best Jewish catchers in baseball history. And I wouldn’t have known that without reading The Baseball Talmud because it did something the Jewish players don’t do – unlike their Christian teammates – it celebrates the players and their religion. And trust me, you’ll be surprised at some of the names that pop up in the book. I know that I was.
The Smoking Gun has a pretty good rundown of the facts, but suffice to say that Giuliani's case was summarily dismissed since there was no breach of contract -- it's especially hard to breach a contract in college when there's no scholarship involved. I also mention this again, over here, because it appears that the judge has a good sense of humor in that the judge sprinkled quotes from Caddyshack into his opinion.
So bravo to the judge. And thanks for giving me a reason to embed a clip from Caddyshack.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
1. Never, ever, ever, use the back of the seat in front of you to help you stand up. There's usually someone sitting in that seat you're grabbing, like me, and it's not fair to me that I have to get experience turbulence that the rest of the flight doesn't because you're too damn fat or lazy to stand up properly.
2. You don't have to wear formal wear on a flight, but try to dress like an adult. That means no cut-offs (unless you're Daisy Duke), no pajamas, no sweats, no swimsuits (unless you're Heidi Klum). Most important, don't dress like some homeless bum. On second thought, I've seen homeless people dressed better than some of my fellow passengers recently.
3. Don't stick your bare feet up on the seat in front of you, especially if someone's sitting in that seat -- like me.
4. If my knees are touching the back of your seat before you lean back your chair, then don't glare and shout at me when you try to slam the seat back and it won't go anywhere. Especially since you're generally some five-foot tall midget and my knees are already nearly touching my chin.
5. If I want to talk to you, I won't read my book. So if my book is open, shut up and leave me alone. Unless of course your name is Heidi Klum, Ashley Judd, Zooey Deschanel, or Emily Deschanel. Then you can feel free to bug me whenever you so desire.
6. Just because you've reached your seat when you're boarding doesn't mean that you can just stand in the aisle talking to your buddy two rows in front of you. Sit down and let the rest of us get to our seats.
7. This might be hard to believe, but the seat with the best leg room, outside of First Class, is the exit aisle seat on Continental's regional jet -- especially if it's the exit seat on the one seat row.
8. Everybody, one more time: the laptop comes out of the case when you're going through security, and that means everybody.
9. Don't bitch about dirty and cold floors at the security checkpoint if you were the one stupid enough to wear no socks.
10. What part of non-smoking do you not understand?
11. Seriously, why can I get through customs in Amsterdam more quickly when they're processing more people with fewer customs employees than I can in Houston where they're processing less people with more customs employees?
12. I think I really know what happened to Oceanic Flight 815. It's trapped on the tarmac in Atlanta while they try to fly a gate for it to pull up to.
13. You know how in the movies people always do that cute meet thing on a flight. Well, I pulled that off once.
14. But there was no Mile High Club.
15. Speaking of the Mile High Club, how is that possible? I can barely stand or turn in the standard 737 toilet.
16. Peanuts do not constitute food service. I don't care what some airlines say.
17. When you're boarding a plane, is it too much to ask that you be careful with the luggage you're swinging around on your shoulder? I ask because I'm generally sitting on the aisle and you assholes keep hitting me in the head.
18. The please turn off cell phones/iPhone/iPod instructions apply to everyone, including you.
19. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is my very favorite airport. Copenhagen's airport is a nice second. And don't forget Vegas, baby.
20. There's no such thing as the Bermuda Triangle. All of those missing people and planes have simply disappeared at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.
21. What happened to all of those hot, gorgeous flight attendants from the 197os?
22. Nothing. It's just that they're still working my flights, only now they're in their 70s.
23. Except for KLM. They have some attractive flight attendants.
24. I'm convinced that the reason's there no leg room or elbow room in coach is that no airline exec has ever actually ventured back that far on the plane.
25. Remember, the airline never makes a mistake. It's all your fault.
Then I read the e-mail.
And the matching was for a Territorial Army Officer for the United Kingdom (Great Britain and Scotland for those who don't know the difference between the UK and England). Now there were a few obvious problems with this matching. First, it was for the British. Second, it had a citizenship requirement -- I'm a U.S. citizen, not a citizen of the United Kingdom, so I wouldn't qualify. Then there was the age requirement. I couldn't be older than 35 and I'm 43.
But while I was laughing as I read this, I once again got to wondering: just what was the use of my filling out those Monster.com forms with all of my history and personal information if it's just going to completely ignore everything?
Oh well. It doesn't really matter anymore for me, I suppose. But I just thought I would share, in case any of you were thinking of Monster.com. My advice, don't. It just seems to be run by a bunch of fools.
Mr. Cooper, when the Chron's Jesus Ortiz is questioning your leadership skills and calling you out for being an idiot, then you're in trouble. Sure, it's nice that the Astros pulled out the win last night, but they did this despite you, not because of you.
In case you didn't hear from someone else, or read it, Ortiz wrote over the weekend about how various players are sending him text messages in which they mock you. So I can't wait to see what Ortiz's mailbox looks like today, especially seeing as how you submitted the wrong lineup and cost the team an out.
Apparently Mr. Cooper, from what I understand, you decided to flip Michael Bourn and Kaz Matsui in the lineup. And you told them that that was what you were doing. However, you forgot to make that move on the lineup he gave to the umpire, and that lineup had Matsui batting first and Bourn second. So when Bourn led off the first inning with a hit, he was called out. Which got Bourn upset because he thought he had screwed up. And it seems that you, Mr. Cooper, did nothing to explain the situation to Bourn because, according to Ortiz's report, you kept his ass on the bench while Bourn was going nuts on the field. It took Geoff Blum to calm him down and to explain what happened.
It also appears, Mr. Cooper, that you thought it was more important to watch the Houston Texans have batting practice than to do your job, which was getting the lineups posted and speaking to the players. I know the Texans are football players, and everything, but you should really more concerned about handling your job than you are with what the Texans are doing.
And it appears that your players didn't find this thing funny. They said that they'd never seen anything like it before. I have, but it was a long, long time ago.
So, Mr. Cooper. I suggest that you find somebody around the team who is competent and have them fill out your lineup cards.
Let's compare, shall we? The front end of the 2004 rotation was Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt. The front end of the 2009 rotation is Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, and Mike Hampton (depending upon his injury status). So while I've never been the Rocket's biggest backer, I think only an idiot -- or Richard Justice -- would call the 2009 rotation comparable.
And he also thinks the starting lineup is comparable. So let's compare lineups, shall we? 2004 had Jeff Bagwell at first, Jeff Kent at second, Adam Everett at short, Morgan Ensberg at third, Brad Ausmus at catcher, Craig Biggio in left, Carlos Beltran in center, and Lance Berkman in right. The current lineup is Berkman at first, Kaz Matsui at second, Miguel Tejada at short, Geoff Blum at third, Pudge Rodriguez at catcher, Carlos Lee in left, Michael Bourn in center, and Hunter Pence in right. The 2009 Astros are better off in only in left field. Bagwell was still hitting in 2004. Jeff Kent was still at the top of his game. Morgan Ensberg was respectable. Carlos Beltran was great. And while Pence is a better fielder, Berkman had the better bat in 2004.
So, tell me again, does anyone really think that this 2009 Astros team is in anyway comparable to the 2004 club? No, I didn't think so.
It appears that the New York Mets and their brand new stadium, Citi Field, are being linked to the spread of swine flu in New York State. A resident of Liberty, NY in Sullivan County attended a Mets game on Mother's Day, and three days later, she fell ill with the swine flu. County officials say that since the woman's only trip out of county was to see the Mets, that they think she caught the disease at Citi Field.
But I don't know if that's really swine flu she caught. I think she actually got ill from watching the Mets play baseball.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
So here's Aerosmith with "Dream On."
For instance, today the Senate voted to deny President Obama the necessary funding needed to shut down Gitmo and to transfer those detainees to maximum security facilities in the U.S. The prevailing, and idiotic, reasoning for denying this funding is that those evil terrorists, while behind bars in the U.S. might radicalize prisoners and cause great harm and damage to the country -- or some such stupid nonsense.
Ah, hell, why don't I just let one of the prime idiots do the talking on this. So I give you Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma:"We don't have the facilities for it. Nowhere does," he said. And as for why the prisons can't handle terrorists but can handle murderers and rapists, he replied: "because those individuals were actually criminals....They actually committed crimes and were not involved in the type of terrorist activity as we've been experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan."
I find this all kind of funny, seeing as how, before he was executed, one Timothy McVeigh was detained in a maximum security prison on U.S. soil, and McVeigh was responsible for more U.S. terrorist-related deaths than most of the people currently at Gitmo. And the U.S. prison seems to have survived McVeigh. And I don't think the country has been rocked with terrorist violence brought about by people who became McVeigh's disciples while they were in prison with him. I also find this funny in that, well, Inhofe is a senator from Oklahoma, and McVeigh's terrorist act was committed in Oklahoma.
But like I said, I guess I'm the only one with a memory. Or else I just didn't install my idiot chip today.
I want to thank you for allowing me to have a checking account with your bank. And I want to thank you for taking my tax money in the form of TARP to help fund some of your idiotic banking decisions.
Now that I aside, I've got a complaint.
Years ago, I opened up a no-interest, no-fee carrying checking account. And a couple of years ago, without informing me first, you started hitting me with a maintenance fee for not having enough money in the account -- well, actually, I had money in the account, but it wasn't more than your arbitrarily set limit. So I talked to one of your branch managers in Houston, and they moved that account to another checking account, which once again, was a no-interest, supposedly no-fee checking account. And it was, for a couple of months, until, from nowhere, you decided to start charging that maintenance fee for not meeting your arbitrary minimum amount.
Once again, I consulted with one of your branch managers, and they moved me into another no-interest, no-fee account. And not long ago, when I got my 401k money, I put a portion of that money into the account, on top of what I already had in there. So I actually had a decent amount of cash in that account-- more than any of the arbitrary minimums that had been set for my other accounts.
So imagine my surprise on Monday when I got my mail, and discovered that I was now being hit with a maintenance fee on this account. So I went online and I discovered that if I were to open this account online, I wouldn't get a fee -- and that's not really fair to those of us who have had checking accounts with the bank for years. Then I checked, and I discovered that if I had at least one check deposited into my account by direct deposit once a month, I wouldn't get hit with the fee. Once again, not quite fair to those like me who are either unemployed and/or work on a contract basis for different employers. But there was a final exception: if a person had more than $1500 in the account for a monthly cycle, then the fee would not be charged.
I'm not going to say how much I have in this account, but let's just say that there were five figures on the left side of the decimal point which means that I had way more than $1500 in the account. So I shouldn't have to pay the maintenance fee.
So I went to my nearest branch today, and they apologized and told me that a mistake had been made, and that the money would be re-credited to my account. But I somehow have a feeling that come this time next month, when I get my next bank statement, this is going to happen all over again.
But I suppose my primary question is this: why is there a need to charge a maintenance fee on a simple checking account? I'm not asking you to add interest to it. I'm not asking you to pay thousands of dollars a month out of it. I'm just asking you to keep my money so that I can get to it quickly should I need it. So why do you keep trying to scam me out of money all of the time? No matter what I do, no matter what account I move the money to, you suddenly decide that that account suddenly needs a maintenance fee. Maybe you should have been this diligent with some of those crappy loans you've been making the past several years.
In short, leave the money in my checking account alone. Stop with the scams. Stop pilfering my money. It should be enough that you're getting my tax money to bail you out. You don't need to invent fees out of thin air to take even more of it.