Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suspension of Disbelief

Baseball’s abnormally good luck with weather during the World Series came to an abrupt end last night, with the first foul weather suspension of a game in World Series history. (Announcers always use such a qualifier, in case some World Series games had been suspended in Super Bowl history, or Chinese history. They’d also be right to say it was the first World Series game suspended in history, period, but that might sound presumptuous. More likely, Tim McCarver didn’t think of it.)

Baseball has no one but itself and Fox to blame for this week’s problems. (Tonight’s forecast is no better than last night’s.) Fox requested some extra days off in the playoff schedule last year, to spread the games out more and prevent Games Six and Seven from taking place on a weekend, where low general viewing (Saturday night) and pro football (Sunday night) would cut into their audience. Using the schedule in place since the inception of a third tier of playoffs in 1995, this year’s Game Seven would have been played on October 26, last Sunday. In Florida. In a dome. Hardly any weather problems there. (Why the Tampa Bay area thought a domed stadium was advisable for an area where people move to enjoy the weather is an open question.)

Next season doesn’t start until April 5, so baseball is talking to Fox about removing the open dates to keep the Series from running as late as November 5. Even Bud Selig appreciates the potential for embarrassment if Games Six and Seven were to be scheduled for the first week of November in Boston or Chicago or Cleveland or Detroit, none of which are out of the realm of possibility. Starting the season on March 29 apparently hasn’t occurred to them, even though Major League Baseball has complete control over where games are played in the beginning of the season, and none at the end.

Of course, these are guys who still insist on starting all games at 8:30 Eastern time. I appreciate the need to give West Coast viewers a chance to get home, but this start time ensures 75% of the people in the country will miss either the beginning of the game (because they’re not home yet) or the end (because they passed out in the seventh inning).

That explains the disjointed, overly parenthetical nature of this post. I’ve been up until at least midnight every night for three weeks, I’m already exhausted, and it only Tuesday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Time?

Has it occurred to anyone else that when the clock struck midnight Saturday night, the Tampa Bay Rays looked at eash other and said, "Oh, shit! This is the World Series! We're Tampa. We suck." Because they really haven't done too much right since then.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Orders of Magnitude

There’s been a lot of adolescent name calling in this election, even more juvenile than usual. He-said, she-said, he did it first, he’s on my side of the car, he’s touching me he’s touching me. Stuff like that. Neither side has clean hands, despite what both promised would be a lofty and elevated discussion about the relative merits of each candidacy.

Whether both are equally guilty is a question of magnitude. Let’s examine two frequent Republican complaints: who’s running more negative ads, and why Joe Biden’s verbal gaffes don’t get the same attention as Sarah Palin’s.

Negative ads first. Each side quotes statistics to buttress its point. Obama’s overwhelming fundraising advantage allows him to run so many more ads, both sides are correct, regardless of whether they’re arguing his percentage is lower than McCain’s (as Obama does), or there are so many more of them (as McCain does).

As Mark Twain said, there are three kinds of deception: lies, damned lies, and statistics; call it a wash. What’s more important is the content of the negative ads. It’s one thing to say your opponent’s tax and health care policies won’t help the average Joe, plumber or not; it’s something else to say your opponent is un-American and consorts closely with terrorists. Especially when it’s not true.

Then there are Biden’s gaffes versus Palin’s. We’re not even going to discuss the percentage issue here; Joe Biden talks so much his misstatements could fill the Bible and he’d still be 90% accurate. Once again, it’s the quality of the gaffe that matters. Saying FDR spoke on television after the stock market crash of 1929 is dumb, but it reflect on his judgment. His knowledge of media history, sure, but the point he was making is valid: Roosevelt comforted the nation during the worst parts of the Depression. He did, admittedly, get the specifics wrong. All of them.

Compare that to Governor Palin’s oft-repeated assertion that she has foreign policy expertise because she can see Russia from Alaska. To quote a national columnist (I forget which one, sorry) I can see the moon from my front yard; that doesn’t make me an astronaut. Or an astronomer. I don’t “read everything they put in front of me,” but I can tell you what I do read. Biden’s a bit of a goof whose mouth has only a dial-up connection to his brain when it needs broadband; she’s an idiot.

What’s important are what mathematicians and physicists call orders of magnitude. If I say you’re wearing an ugly sweater and you reply that I’m a wife beating, child molesting bastard, we both insulted each other once. The insults are hardly equivalent.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Behind the Scenes at The Home Office

Watching Game One of the World Series last night, the Spousal Equivalent, weary of my constant carping about Tim McCarver's "expert" analysis, finally asked if there was anything he could say that would satisfy me.

“Sure,” I said.


“My heart! My heart!”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin's Hidden Agenda

Conventional wisdom implies Sarah Palin’s recent campaign appearances indicate someone positioning herself for a presidential run in 2012 should John McCain come up short this year, which appears likely. There’s an abvious second choice no one seems to be picking up on.

Her campaign rhetoric has become even more shrill and veered rightward lately, opening differing with McCain’s to the point where he has had to specifically distance himself from her comments. Polls showing she has become a drag on his hopes with everyone except hard-core conservatives have not diminished her efforts.

Last week’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was telling. The opening was either edgy or unfunny; I lean toward edgy. Her later appearance on the Weekend Update segment was embarrassing. It’s depressing to think that a candidate for the nation’s second highest office would knowingly stand for something like that.

All of these would come back to haunt her in a future run. She might win some primary battles with her ultra-conservative base, but she is essentially unelectable when even more moderate (or even moderately thinking) Republicans start voting. She’s no more likely to become president than Michele Bachmann.

No, her recent acts, coupled with her pre-political history, argue her vision is set on a more practical goal: Fox News. Look for her to to become either a regular contributor, or get her own show, within a year of the expiration of her term as Alaska governor. If not sooner.

Go ahead. Laugh. Just remember where you heard it first.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sarah Sixpack

Sarah Palin can’t go a day without some pander to her core constituency, personified by Joe Sixpack. I’m old enough to have been around when this stereotype was created, and young enough to remember it. Joe Sixpack comes home after work, plops himself in the family La-Z-Boy and pounds a six pack of beer sitting in his wife beater while watching a ball game.

Basically, a drunk.

So Sarah is proudly identifying her core voting block as drunks.

This might be the first thing she’s been right about so far.

The Terrible Broadcasting System

I think TBS has it in their contract with Major League Baseball that they must go out of their way to make Fox look good. They missed the first twenty minutes of Saturday’s Game Six between Boston and Tampa Bay due to a technical failure in Atlanta. When they came back, Chip Caray comforted everyone with, “You haven’t missed much.”

What we missed was Coco Crisp leading off with a bunt single, then immediately getting picked off in the top of the first inning, then a long homerun by BJ Upton in the bottom of the inning.

While Caray was noteworthy for playing the house shill in a manner to make any White House press secretary proud, analyst Ron Darling wins the Tim McCarver Obvious Banality Award for stating that “two-out hits can prolong an inning.”

Al Leiter was available, guys. And Skip Caray (Chip’s dad) is retired, not dead. If you want to play in The Show, bring you’re A Game. Don’t use Fox as an example.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Like Putting Handcuffs on a Squid

Quick thoughts on the final debate:

I know why he didn’t do it, but it would have been nice to hear Obama cite examples of how McCain can safely be described as “erratic.” Also to draw a distinction between “negative” ads that point out the flaws in the opponent’s positions and policies and negative ads that call your opponent a terrorist sympathizer.

McCain really and truly doesn’t understand that the average family gets hosed by his health care plan. You’d think a Republican would get it when the US Chamber of Commerce says so; maybe he’s become so much a maverick up is now down to him.

It says a lot about the state of the campaign when Obama declines to point out Sarah Palin’s woeful inadequacy to be vice-president, but McCain spends most of his time on that question trying to convince us Joe Biden is a moron.

McCain-ian logic: I will have no litmus test for Supreme Court nominees. I will nominate only qualified jurists. No one who supports Roe v. Wade is a qualified jurist. QED.

Saying an across-the-board spending freeze will solve the budget problems is like telling someone whose feet hurt to wear the same size shows as you do, because your feet don’t hurt. Even though you’re six inches taller.

Tax cuts are the Republicans’ answer to all budget questions. By their logic, the government would have al the money it would ever need if it just did away with taxes altogether.

When Obama says he wants to spread the wealth around, it’s not like he’s going to take the money from Joe the Plumber and give it to Sam the Teacher. The money will come from John McCain and Hank Paulson and Barbra Streisand, who can all afford it.

Highlights of the evening: Bob Schieffer's repeated attempts to get something worthwhile out of these two.

Lowlights of the evening: McCain’s dismissal of the mother’s health as a ground for abortion.

Runner up: McCain declaring he didn’t want to talk about some broken down old terrorists, then spending two minutes doing exactly that.

Thank God, Allah, Vishnu, Gaia, or whoever else you might pray to that this will all be over in a few weeks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Welcome Addition to the Blogsphere

The Hollywood Correspondent has been providing entertaining and thoughtful movie reviews and com printed tabloid-sized mailings several times a year. Several writers contributed to each edition, and the articles ranged from retrospectives of actors’ or directors’ careers to analysis of types of films or films of a certain time period to comics drawn specifically for the magazine.

Final Take eventually became too expensive to maintain, and email became the medium of choice. The content changed as well. Everything was written by him, and the monthly format was more like a series of traditional movie reviews. He’d still riff on things when the spirit moved him, but there would always be a movie or two that served as the cornerstone of the comment. I don’t think a month went that his notes didn’t provoke an exchange of emails, usually resulting in me learning something.

Now he has discovered the blogsphere. Thoughts on Film contains all the monthly newsletters he’s done over the past several years. They’re well written, engaging, and should spur some nice comment threads as he builds a readership. Check him out; pick through the archives. You’ll thank me for telling you.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Yesterday Representative Michele Bachman (R-MN) blamed the current financial crisis on the Clinton-era Community Reinvestment Act for pushing “homeownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class.”

It’s difficult to believe even someone as conservative as Rep. Bachman could believe such a baseless canard, let alone say it for public attribution in this, the Year of Their Lord 2008.

Everyone knows the mortgage crisis was caused by the legalization of gay marriage.