01 August 2005

Oh My God, I'm Back Again...

Yo. What's up? How you been?

Well I've been fine. Had an interesting July, where I took a pause here from BMS to start up work on a screenplay and sort of recharge my blogging batteries. Good news- I missed doing it! So I'm going to continue to do it. Sweet.

So anyway, here's what I did in July. Exciting!!

  • Erin and I saw Wedding Crashers opening night at the 42nd St. E Walk Theatre. I thought it was tremendously funny- it was Erin's idea to go see it, as amazingly, I wasn't totally sold on whether I'd like it or not. Truth be told, I was wary of getting a little tired of the Owen Wilson/ Vince Vaughn/ Ben Stiller/ Will Ferrell/ Jack Black little circle of friends movies. Make no mistake- Old School and, especially, Anchorman are modern day classics to me. That much is a given.

    But starting with Dodgeball, which I thought sucked hard, I could feel a slight backlash rumbling in my belly. I was worried I was starting to shut myself out of liking these guys... and Wedding Crashers didn't seem like that good a premise to me.

    And I still don't think it was- but what WAS funny were Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. I can't remember a movie that got more out of a limp idea than this one- they literally murdered every single joke, just crushed them right out of the park. Almost like Barry Bonds in '01-'04: didn't see more than two pitches a game to hit, but when he did, he seemed to have 3HR and 4 RBI anyway.

    Vince Vaughn simply can't be touched right now with a half decent script. And the best part was, as Michael and I talk about often- the fact that it was rated 'R'. They didn't hold back in the interest of bigger box office- they made it more vulgar, lewd, and funny. Plus, the benefit of some seriously excellent bonus nudity. I'm telling you, the movie had it all. Maybe 15 minutes too long (definitely could have snipped that engagement party scene towards the end), but really good. And for the record, I saw that late cameo coming a fucking mile away.

  • Started watching Ken Burns' Civil War, as I somehow slipped into a Civil War enthusiast phase without even noticing. I think it was the Lincoln interest, which stems from the presidential biographies interest (see below) which I mentioned here in the past.

    Anyway, I had a cursory familiarity with a lot of stuff regarding the Civil War- I just wanted sharper background, details, and Shelby Foote talking to me. Civil War gave me these things. Also, it continued my seeing as many of the Ken Burns oeuvre as possible- I've seen Baseball, New York and now Civil War. I'm sure I'll see Jazz really soon.

    So far, my favorite stories have been about Stonewall Jackson, Fredericksburg and, of course, all the Lincoln stuff. US Grant's background is pretty astounding too.

  • I finally finished David McCullough's (who narrates Civil War) Truman, which was, to put it mildly, incredible. I was actually kind of bummed when he died in the book. I knew it was coming, too.

    Small tidbit- pretty astonishing how big a cocksucker Eisenhower was to Truman on his way in to the White House, even despite Truman's attempts at civility. Apparently, he was pissed about it for years.

  • I started- and finished- Jim Bishop's The Day Lincoln Was Shot, a cool little paperback I picked up for a dollar way back in the first week after I moved into my current apartment in NYC. Anway, the book is constructed fairly interestingly- each chapter details the events of each hour in the day... Lincoln was shot.

    Did you know- that US Grant was going to be there, but Mary Todd Lincoln was such an offensive bitch to Mrs. Grant that they decided just to go home? That Abe himself loathed going himself, but did it for his wife? That it was a large conspiracy, with a few members, to kill Lincoln and his cabinet, and that only Booth and the guy who attacked Secretary of State Seward had the sack to actually go through? Seward was bed ridden with disease, got stabbed in the face, skull, throat and chest- and lived. Did you know that it was originally a plot by Booth to kidnap Lincoln and Johnson as prisoners of war and bring them to Richmond, but the war ended and Booth wanted to do something drastic anyway? That Lincoln had a dream foretelling his death only days earlier?

    Bet you didn't. Well, I didn't anyway.

  • Now I'm reading Don Quixote. A guy on the train last night saw me reading it and asked if I was Spanish. I said no, and he told me Miguel de Cervantes lost his arm in a war. He started to tell me more, then smiled and was like, "read it- I won't ruin things for you." So that was cool.

  • I, as previously mentioned, started work on a screenplay from a story by Mike and I. I'm hammering out the first draft, after which Mike will go through, make revisions, suggestions, and added lines of funny, to which I'll rewrite once again. And back and forth again.

    It's coming OK. I'm not sure how good it is. Anybody impressed with a well written drama should try writing comedy sometime. Comparing them is like matching up a charity 5K run with the fucking Iron Man competition.

  • My birthday was Sunday. Thanks for those who picked up on this and wished me a happy one. Very nice, very nice.

    Anyway, I got, from Erin, Ken Burns' Baseball on DVD, a Dominican Republic hat, and a pre-order of the book Mind Game: How the Boston Red Sox Got Smart and Finally Won a World Series, the new Baseball Prospectus book on the 2004 Sox.

    My mom got us tickets to the game against the Twins on July 29th, got the Red Sox to say 'Happy Birthday!' to me on the Jumbotron, and gave me Carl Sandburg's single volume bio on Abraham Lincoln entitled, Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years.

    Colleen got me a new DVD player.

    Mike told me he'd let me pick something, and buy it for me. That way he wouldn't re-gift. I think it was a good call.

  • On my various trips home, Mike and I watched a lot of Boy Meets World. We're of the mind that there might not be a more completely satisfying TV experience than that show. Think about it- there's the "so-fucking-awful-it's-funny" aspect of it- like every single time the show tries to be serious, which is often. There's the running question of how much sexual activity Corey and Topanga engaged in pre-marriage. Mike contends there is an episode where she pledges pre-marital chastity (he's seen every episode, so I'm inclined to believe him), but it is odd considering she came from fucking total hippie parents. We know this from the show's inception, when they're all in junior high, and Corey hates Topanga, cos she's weird. She has hippie parents.

    Also, the fact that they make no effort to even mask the fact that they couldn't write Actor's Guild president William Daniels out of the show as Mr. Feeney- so he just literally followed Corey, Topanga and Sean Hunter through grade school, junior high... high school... and fucking college.

    There was Mr. Turner, the hip, longhaired and pierced teacher that takes in Sean. There was Rachel McGuire, the seven feet eight inch tall redheaded BOMBSHELL that lived with... Corey's brother Eric. Played by Will Freidle. Actually kind of funny towards the end of the show's run, when they tried to pass him off as almost retarded.

    There was the online registry for Corey and Topanga's wedding. There was Sean Hunter, who was a fucking moron and total do-nothing, and goes to the same college as Topanga 'I Got Into Yale' Lawrence (shades of Zack Morris and Jessie Spano). There was Sean's black girlfriend Angela, which was an odd bit of pandering for a kid's show, and funny because there was no speculation about the level of THEIR sexual activity. Good times.

    There was Minkus.

    And then, of course... Ben Savage. One of the singularly talentless people ever to have a nearly ten year running sitcom, Ben seemed to be channeling his brother early on, Freddie Prinze Jr. in the high school years, and Woody Allen in the married years. Who would ever have thought this guy would out-succeed his brother? What the hell is the deal with that? Why can't Fred Savage even get a job?

    Also, one last thing- when they say stuff like, "Topanga and Corey have been together and in love since kindergarten," do they expect us to believe that, especially considering we saw them hate each other in fourth grade? What a sham. I could go a lot deeper on BMW, but I got a lot to write about here, and I'm going with moderation. Maybe Mike could drop a BMW column one day.

    Note to readers though: Corey's still a jackass

  • Mike got a new glove- this first baseman's mitt that is an absolute joy to wear. Really soft leather, this ridiculous gel patch where the forefinger goes when sticking outside the glove, a cool little MLB logo. The story of him getting it is fucking hilarious too.

    See, Mike got a job as a groundskeeper at a local golf course towards the beginning of the summer, and liked it because it was so flexible. Eventually though, he realized it was so flexible that he could get up in the AM for 'work,' go to his friend's house instead, sleep, smoke weed, go to a movie and hang out- and not worry about getting fired. The guy never really 'needed' him there.

    As a result, when I came home that particular weekend... my mom was PISSED at Mike. Just really, really mad. We came into her office, and she took him aside and ripped into him- which he took as seriously as he does, say, church on Easter Sunday. Anyway, he and I leave, go over to Old Navy so he can try to get his old job back THERE... and we stop by Olympia Sports, seeing the glove for the first time. The thing is on sale for $60, which is enough to be out of his range, but little enough for him to think he could scrounge it up. We started trying to think of ways to do it- coins, selling used DVDs- nothing that would get him there in time (there was only one left, and they would only hold it 24 hours).

    So sitting at home, my Mom arrived, and we were sitting around for a while before Mike and my Mom started going at it over the job situation- really, really funny stuff. Eventually, as she's chewing him out, he starts to faintly protest, to which my mom responds,

    "Oh you're so full of shit, you know you didn't actually do anything today..." Mike demurs a bit, and says that's not what he's talking about. So my mom says- "well what, Michael..."

    "Well Mom, there's this glove..." I swear, I almost fucking lost it. Here he was getting reamed for having no job and no money, and he asks her for $60 for a baseball glove. He's a man among boys, I'm telling you.

    Long story short, he went and sold his XBox and some games for $75 bucks and dropped it on the new glove. It's like a limo for your hand!

  • Speaking of Mike, he also headed out to LA to check out what he expects to be his destination post-college, he went with Colleen. While there, he got a tattoo on his forearm, and came thisclose to meeting Al from Step by Step. They did meet Theo from Road Rules though.

    This reminds me too- I'm going to get a tattoo or two myself, as soon as I can afford it. I'm going to get a silhoutted elephant on my left arm (I like elephants), and something else cool on my left forearm. Here are the ones I'm choosing from:

    I'm leaning towards one of the two on the bottom, but Erin favors the ravens (even though she HATES the idea of a tattoo) and Mike the Celtic mermaid thing-y. We shall see.

  • On July 25th, saw Torii Hunter on 46th and 5th, said hey to him, told him to beat the Yankees or whatever, and pointed to my Sox hat. He smiled, said hello, and was a real nice guy. Saw him at Fenway on July 29th tear up some tendons in his ankle on a David Ortiz double in the first inning and get carted off the field on a stretcher. Yikes.

  • Got some sweet threads on sale at Old Navy, courtesy of my Mom. Nice.

  • We still have an absurd amount of mice in our apartment, though it's gotten better through extermination, provided to us from our landlord after nearly 3 months of complaining. A real standup guy.

  • Erin's dog Wanda (you've seen her on here before), got sick- she had some parasite called 'giardia', which isn't fatal save for the fact that her diarrhea almost killed Erin. Anyway, now she's at "summer camp" in upstate NY with Erin's parents, getting healthy away from the city and keeping her away from the exterminator. We're picking her up next weekend when we go up for the Binghamton Mets/ Portland Sea Dogs game.

  • Saw Land of the Dead- alone- recently. It was good- totally nasty, disgusting, borderline objectionable gore. I loved it. A favorite moment was seeing a zombie get caught up to his elbow in a dead guy's mouth, pulling out some bloddy innards, and feasting away. Zombie indeed.

  • On July 21st, the World Series trophy came to my hometown of Fairfield, CT. Mike and I headed over to check it out (same visit as the baseball glove story). It was a nice day- a REALLY long line- and when we got our picture in front of it, it was hard not to imagine Pedro and Manny and David actually TOUCHING this thing. Very cool. Kinda strange seeing a couple of Yankee fan junior highers in line behind us, but hey, maybe they stopped watching after Game Three, pre-ordained as it seemed. They didn't get the memo perhaps?

  • There were NUMEROUS interesting Sox subplots, but none more than 'MannyGate 2005.' It started (somewhat) harmlessly enough- Trot Nixon took a big hack at a Trevor Miller pitch and strained his left oblique muscle, likely knocking him out for weeks- if not months.

    Then, in the 10th inning of a tight game against the Devil Rays, Manny didn't hustle down the line on a play that he was ultimately safe on due to an error. The Sox would go on to win the game, but trouble followed. After the final out, with Francona meeting with the press, bench coach Brad Mills tried to get Manny to put off his already delayed day off again because they were "in a bind" (ie, 'Trot's hurt, and without you our lineup sucks even worse'). Manny said no.

    There are differing reports as to how aware Manny was that Nixon was the reason he was being asked to skip his day off.

    Couple this with the fact that not soon before, a story was broken about how Manny had requested a trade out of Boston- something he had done three times in previous seasons. Larry Lucchino confirmed the story on WEEI, then said some (not shockingly) inadvisable things, stoking the fire.

    Soon thereafter, Manny trade rumors begin running rampant. Mitigating factors include the fact that after the 2005 season, Manny becomes a 10/5 guy, making it much more difficult to rid the team of his salary (and make no mistake- this would be Theo Epstein's sole reason for dealing him... maybe not Lucchino, but Theo, yes). The most serious of the proposals looked as follows:

    Manny Ramirez, OF (from BOS)
    Danys Baez, RP (from TDR)

    Mike Cameron, OF (from NYM)
    Aubrey Huff, OF/ 1B/ DH (from TDR)

    Lastings Milledge, AA OF (from NYM)
    Yusmeiro Petit, AA SP (from NYM)
    Anibal Sanchez, AA SP (from BOS)
    Kelly Shoppach, AAA C (from BOS)

    Without a doubt, the shaft talent-wise on that deal was the Boston Red Sox- but of course, they'd be doing the deal to free up the finances. Reports had permutations as to the identities and ultimate destinations of all the prospects to Tampa Bay- some had Milledge actually going to Boston, others had Tampa Bay demanding Hanley Ramirez AND John Lester from Boston, still others had Boston flipping Milledge to Cincinnati for Adam Dunn.

    Ultimately though, a few things killed the deal (and thank motherfucking GOD for that)- Boston requesting more, Tampa Bay's Chuck LaMarr's unfortunate level of retardation (reportedly said, when referring to his demand's for a team's best prospects to get Huff or Baez, "Unfortunately, there is no grey matter here"), and the fact that it would have sunk Boston like a stone, and one would think they thought better of it.

    Even still, going into Saturday's game (after Manny started Friday and was booed- not by me- in his first two ABs), no one knew what to think, and especially after he was scratched FIVE MINUTES before the game. I was ready for the worst when I read that.

    But soon it surfaced that Manny probably WASN'T going to be traded, and that the sitting was a mutually agreed-upon two game benching. What was beneficial about it to Manny OR the team was up for the debate- personally, it seemed like a suspension to me- but it didn't mean he was going to be traded.

    THEN, on my birthday, with the trade deadline looming and the fans in Fenway completely unaware of Manny's status, Francona pinch hit him in a tie game with two men on and two out against ace reliever Juan Rincon. The stadium was exploding as soon as he left the dugout, fickleness personified, with the theme to Superman playing over the loudspeakers. Supermanny.

    And he impossibly fouled off a 95 MPH fastball off the outside black before taking another right up the middle for the single and the game winning hit in the bottom of the 8th. Delirium ensues. Manny speaks after the game. "I'm a gangster! This is where I want to be- it's just Manny being Manny, you know? I love Boston!"

    I can say, as disappointing as he was this week, there is no way I could ever stop loving him back.

  • Another big moment, also for my birthday- my baby boy, Mr. John Papelbon, made his first big league start Sunday, July 31st, and while he struggled a bit towards the end of his outing, it was an incredibly encouraging appearance. He was literally blistering his fastball right by the Twins hitters, getting swings and misses early and often. He did walk five, but on a few of them, for what it's worth, he was getting squeezed somewhat. Even still, walks were to be expected, even in this situation. What was such a pleasant surprise was the 7 K in 5.1 IP- the fastball, right now, is already a plus major league pitch. Upwards of 96 MPH, consistent velocity, great control, moves it around the zone very well.

    The breaking pitches though, need work. His slider is probably, as of now, the weakest of the bunch. I couldn't help thinking, when watching it, that he may be better off "converting" it into a cut fastball, which would be a better option getting lefthanders out. The curve looked to be good, though he didn't throw many and didn't seem to have a feel for it. I got the impression that the split had promise, but he was still working on it. He got solid dip on the pitch, but he seemed to leave it up a bit too often.

    I haven't been that excited for a start from a pitcher since Pedro was here. Whatever happens to Papelbon, I'll always appreciate that. My thought is that come September, if they monitor his workload in Pawtucket, that he would be an EXCELLENT reliever down the stretch. His fastball really is that good, and from the looks of him, nothing gets to this guy. He's got icewater running through those veins.

  • Speaking of the kids, the Sox also brought up Pawtucket farmhand and Boston native Manny Delcarmen, while DFAing John Halama (hard to miss that guy). Little Manny throws hard with a decent slider, and has, at times, spotty control. He looks good out there so far, and he can't be much worse than an improvement over what we've had.

  • Also, Mark Bellhorn went on the DL, Ramon Vazquez was traded for his best friend Alex Joey Cora, and Chip Ambres was traded along with Juan Cedeno for KC 2B Tony Graffanino. I mostly got nothing on these deals. They're pretty self explanatory, though I'd add it seems Bellhorn may have an uphill battle for playing time when he returns.

  • Kapler's back. #44. Meanwhile, Jay Payton is tearing it up in Oakland. Dickweed.

    Of course, I'm referring to Jay Payton's intentionally chewing out Terry Francona in the Baltimore dugout to force a trade- which it did- and getting shipped off to Oakland for Chad Bradford, leaving us without Nixon's (perfect) platoon partner, which doesn't even matter now because Nixon is out indefinitely. We really could have used Jay Payton. Instead, we have to get by with a RF of Gabe Kapler and Jose Cruz Jr, whom we nabbed from AZ for Kyle Bono. This was all pretty bad news, even though having Chad Bradford in your back pocket to face, say, Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez is nice to have.

  • We lost one of The Twenty-five as well when we DFA'd Alan Embree July 19th. Totally understandable move, but sort of a bummer nonetheless. I remember watching him mow down the Mets in 2002 and thinking "I hope the Sox pick this guy up," only to have them send Tankersley over their way and actually get him weeks later. He threw absolute GAS then.

    He finished off The Greatest Comeback In Baseball History too, getting Ruben Sierra to ground out to 2B. He's since signed with the Yankees, and I hope he gets plenty of outs in blowouts and such. That said, I look forward to the first Embree/ Ortiz showdown.

  • The Matt Clement ball-to-head moment was pretty intense. When I saw it, and I saw the ball fly out to Manny on a line, it felt real bad. When he crumpled to the mound quickly after, it felt even worse. When he wasn't moving for a solid five to ten minutes thereafter, I was really, really worried. All I could think about was Bryce Florie.

    No blood either, but the bracing of the neck on the stretcher looked frightening, and his lack of eye-opening was freaky. I couldn't have been more worried.

    Turns out though that his lack of motion was from what he understood to be smartest practice in such a situation. He didn't even end up with a concussion, which, if you've seen the play, seems like a small miracle. Matt Clement will be the starting pitcher on Thursday.

    What a tough son of a bitch.

  • Finally, I saw one game in July too- as I've mentioned a few times here. LF Grandstand, Mike, Colleen, me and my mom saw the Sox beat the Twins, 8-5 We saw Bill Mueller go yard, and John Olerud connected for a grand slam off lefty JC Romero. Great night.

    Well, that's all I got. I think August will feature a lot of Baseball watching, some Mike visits, Wanda's return, more movies, more Sox, more bullcrap. Stay tuned, right?

    ps- going to see The Aristocrats tonight, should be good. Shall report back.

  • ______________________________ |