Slow news day
A lot happened in the news today. OK, well, one huge thing happened and a bunch of things in the ultimately inconsequential world of baseball happened and there was something about a new COVID booster vaccine.
But the Orange Menace being indicted for a third time is big stuff. I can only hope it gets reported on properly and sinks in to the public at large just how big, because the Republican strategy to "flood the zone with shit" works. The former president of the United States has been indicted for conspiring to overthrow the duly elected government, for intentionally ginning up discord among the public, for lying to basically everyone all the time in furtherance of election fraud while convincing a not-insignificant portion of the American public that he was a victim, not the perpetrator, of said fraud. It's a scathing indictment, and though the laws he's alleged to have broken are not as easily understood as the ones in his last indictment—that's three and counting, folks!—they're arguably much more important.
Yet, I got a text from a friend this afternoon that said, in effect, "this seems like old news."
And she's right, it does seem like old news. Because to anyone who has been paying attention, everything Mango Mussolini was charged with is stuff we knew about already; it's just now been thoroughly vetted and examined and formally charged and on the path to criminal trial. Also, because it's the third indictment so far (with a fourth coming maybe next week out of Atlanta), and if one isn't the sort to pay attention to the news closely, the headline "Trump Indicted" looks like a rerun. But it's not.
It's huge new news. Knowing everything that went down in the leadup to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, knowing (or presuming) the motivation for same, knowing the unparalleled capacity for bullshit that the defendant-for-life has, all of that is not the same as having it formally charged by a grand jury.
Indictment number 1 was small potatoes, relatively speaking, concerning hush money to keep a salacious story out of the newspapers. Indictment 2 was bigger potatoes, national security stuff, theft of government documents and possible dissemination of same for unknown purposes. Indictment 3 is every potato in Idaho, conspiring to shred the Constitution and turn the United States from a democracy into an autocracy.
It's not old news. When the next indictments come (and they will), they will not be old news either, they will be additional crimes added to the heaping pile of crimes the ex-president is charged with.
The rubes of the Republican party may never admit they've been conned, may never realize that their cult leader is in fact a lifelong criminal that uses them as his personal ATM, may never wake up to the reality that Donald Trump is an un-American wannabe despot that cares nothing for them whatsoever beyond their usefulness to his greed and keeping him out of jail.
But the rest of us need to understand.
To paraphrase the current President, this is a Big Fucking Deal.No Comments yet
Hollywood on strike
I just started "Silo," so it's not on my list yet, but it might get there. So far so good.
With the Writers' Guild of American and the Screen Actors Guild both on strike—for very good reasons I wholeheartedly support, for whatever that's worth—we likely won't be getting much in the way of new TV for a long while. Nothing good, anyway; I'm sure there will be lots of brainless unscripted "reality" garbage and revivals of old game shows galore, but the real stuff we look forward to might be off the menu for the duration of what could be a lengthy battle with studio greed and exploitation.
So what to do in the interim? If you're like my dad, nothing changes; he doesn't watch much TV outside of news. But if you're like many of us, you'll need to find something to fill your entertainment hours. For those sorts, I have recommendations.
There's been so much quality programming out there since the streaming era dawned and chances are you've missed some of it. I'm sure I have too, so if you like something that I don't mention below, say so in the comments and maybe I'll give it a look.
But these shows are gold. They might not all be your personal cup of tea, but the quality of production and writing in them are top-notch. So add these to your streaming queues if you've not already partaken:
The Orville. Seth MacFarlane's tribute to Star Trek was on network for two seasons, then on a long hiatus, then on Hulu for a year, now in a limbo that began after its Hulu season completed last year. After a pilot episode that was made more for Fox executives than anyone else—it has far more in the way of lowest-common-denominator juvenile humor than does the series proper—it really took flight and became one of the best genre shows ever made. It's ostensibly a comedy, but in the best Trekkian tradition its stories mirror our social and political issues of the day, from trans rights to social media to misinformation campaigns to the evolution of artificial intelligence. And there's some pew-pew-pew in there, too. The first season didn't get great critical acclaim, but I suspect that's mostly due to the pilot episode trying to fool the execs into thinking this would be more like "Family Guy" Seth MacFarlane than Star Trek nerd Seth MacFarlane; years two and three did get all sorts of praise, but still no renewal decision. It's an expensive show to make, and the streaming landscape is finding its footing after too many services flooded the market, but I'd sure rather have more seasons of The Orville than just about anything else Hulu/Disney greenlights. All three seasons of The Orville can be seen on both Hulu and Disney+.
Please, go watch this show and help get it renewed. Even if "you are small and feeble and do not possess the necessary intelligence."
For all Mankind streams on Apple TV+.
Severance. Imagine the ultimate work/life balance. That's the premise of Severance, which follows Adam Scott's character Mark Scout into a new job as a "Macrodata Refinement" worker at Lumen Industries that requires him to undergo a procedure that separates his mind into two parts: One for work (or, the "innie" persona), one for home (the "outie"). How the personas diverge and differ becomes one part of the drama while the other revolves around just what mysterious job Mark and his team are doing for Lumen. Creepy and fascinating, the writing is amazing and the performances are great, not just form Scott, but Christopher Walken, Dichen Lachman, John Turturro, Patricia Arquette, really everyone in the thing. Season two was nearing completion when the strike hit, but season one is ready for your viewing enjoyment on Apple TV+.
"I am certain you will remain with me in spirit, in some deep and yet completely unaccessible corner of my mind."
Collider likens to a mere participation ribbon and a slap in the face of the show's passionate viewership. But this is Amazon we're talking about, and face-slaps might be the best one can expect from such a predatory corporation. If you've got Prime, great, watch it there. If you don't, well, there are workarounds and f%#& Amazon.
Star Trek: Picard season 3. I, of course, have very high standards when it comes to Star Trek programming, which is why I specify "season 3." Seasons 1 and 2 both start out strong, with 1 falling apart right near the end of the ten episode run and 2 going off the rails about halfway in. They're still enjoyable, if flawed, and there's stuff in those episodes that informs some of season 3, so if you're a completist, by all means, just beware of plot holes. On the other hand, season 3 is a masterpiece and a wonderful coda for the Next Generation characters. It's not to be missed. Written and produced by massive Trek fans, notably showrunner Terry Matalas, it does presume the viewer has knowledge of at least the basics of Trekdom, so if you go in cold it might be a challenge; still, not to be missed. Streaming on Paramount+.
Why showrunners have not been running over each other to woo Jonathan Frakes to direct their shows is beyond me. Frakes is fantastic.
Star Trek: Lower Decks in this list, but for that one you really do need to be a hard-core Trek nerd to truly appreciate it in all its glorious goofiness.) Paramount+.
on Netflix, the sixth is on non-US Netflix, and the current year 7 is running on Starz.
or maybe it is?—but the whole thing start to finish is a delight. Streaming on Apple TV+.
- very well for some townfolk, not so much for others. It stars Chris O'Dowd, who is brilliant as ever, alongside a bunch of actors I wasn't familiar with but who all ably embody quirky fun characters in a ridiculously diverse burgh in, presumably, middle America. Season 1 is streaming now; season 2 had already finished filming when the strike hit, so we might get that soon as well. Apple TV+.
Other recent/current shows are also worth a look—Only Murders in the Building, Hello Tomorrow, Russian Doll, plenty of others—but those listed above are my cream of the crop. Of course, even I have not seen everything. What are some of your faves from the last couple of years? Sound off and let me know.No Comments yet
Mizuki makes three
Meet Mizuki. She is approximately nine weeks old and is my latest feline companion. Mizuki brings the StarshipTim cat household back to three, which, depending on your perspective, is either full capacity or one over capacity.
Two was my standard forever until recently. I had my own cat as a kid (a series of them, actually, it's a sad tale; the one I got when I was 14 broke the cycle of early kitty demises), and there was at least one family cat as well. When I was 18 the family cat had kittens and I convinced my mom to keep one, and from then on I had two. Those two moved north with me when I left home and they lived to moderately elder status (17 and 15½), and when each passed away I got another in relatively short order. I got a third in December of 2019, as at that point I had an elderly cat (Bansei, 17) and a youngster (Raimei, 1½), and the youngster needed a playmate. I figured this third, who became Zephyr, was kind of an advance; Bansei wasn't going to be with me all that many more years (about 18 months, as it turned out) and this way her remaining time wouldn't be hindered by unwanted attention from a just-beyond-kitten that kept trying to chase and play.
So that was the plan, and since Bansei left us the norm of two reigned again, as intended.
But I missed her, as I miss all four of my longer-lived departed kitties, and more to the point, I had kind of gotten used to having three. Still, not a good enough reason to get another one. I mean, two is fine, three puts me on the edge of becoming Crazy Cat Guy.
The other thing influencing me was my fucked-up brain chemistry, which often imposes bouts of depression in varying degrees. When in the hold of the more potent episodes, I tend to feel like I'm unfulfilled and not good at grown-up life, but one thing I am very good at and do very well is give kitties good and happy lives. And their presence helps mitigate those episodes. So it was within such a context that I preliminarily decided to adopt a new kitten.
Hiding behind the Sturgeon and the Vonnegut to get the lay of the land
I know, however, not to act on any whims while in a depressive episode. I've figured that out over the years. But the thought continued to percolate and I still felt like the upside outweighed the downside, even after I ran the numbers. Cats can be expensive, to unpredictable degrees; Pixel had basically one bad health issue while in her youth and that was all until she was 18 and rapidly came down with a cancer of some sort, while Bansei was in and out of the hospital numerous times for liver problems, repeated dental issues, and an ultimately fatal long-term kidney disease. It's a crapshoot whether this new one will tend toward the Pixel end of relative thrift or the Bansei end of tremendous financial cost. But I estimated an average cost of $100-$160 per month per cat over a 20-year lifetime (backloaded, to be sure) in 2023 dollars and I can swing that times three.
So I prepped, telling myself I still hadn't decided. I made a three-dish feeding station. I bought a third carrier. Researched the best available kitten foods, even though they likely hadn't changed much in the last few years. Then I started to expand the catwalk in my office to connect to the bedroom. At that point I recognized that "I hadn't decided yet" was bullshit.
So yesterday I checked out the PAWS website (PAWS is where Pixel, Raimei, and Zephyr all came from) for available kittens, and they had none. So I drove down to the county animal shelter in Kent to see who they might have. I got Bansei from that shelter in 2002, and back then that place was awful, it was like kitty POW camp. Today, though, it's much nicer, the cages are much larger, the cats and dogs are separated, and the environment is much less scary, which I was pleased to see.
Enjoying the breeze from a fan on my desk
The County shelter had one female kitten and several males. My experience with Zeph's kittenhood suggested that another boy kitten would be problematic, so I looked at the girl. Initially it didn't seem like a good fit, only because she was a brown tabby just like Bansei was and I didn't want a cat that seemed like a Bansei clone. But I visited with her anyway and she won me over. She may be a brown tabby with similar coloring, but her features are her own and her demeanor quite different. So I signed the contract, paid my C-note, and brought her home.
Naming her was a bit of a challenge. Zephyr's name came to him as an ironic comment on his behavior, which, at least for the first two years of his life, was more akin to a cyclone. Pixel was named after a cat in a Heinlein novel. Raimei (full name Kuro-Raimei, or 黒雷鳴, "black thunder") is named for her appearance and loud purr. But Bansei had the best name (伴星, it means companion star as in a binary or trinary system) and in going for a similar vibe I settled on Mizuki.
As with many Japanese names, Mizuki can mean a number of things depending on how it's written. Initially I thought it would be “三月” ("third moon"), since she is the third current pet orbiting my life, but that's essentially the same way one would write the month of March (third month of the year), which just seems weird. However, “光月” means "bright/radiant moon," “微月” means "tiny moon," and “美月” is "beautiful moon," which all work, so I'll go with one of those as soon as I have to commit it to writing. (Also considered: 星空 ["Hoshizora," or "starry sky"] and 小星 ["Koboshi," meaning "little star"].)
So far, Mizuki is adapting to her new home fairly well. As recommended, for the first day or so I kept her isolated from the other cats, or at least that was the plan—when I wasn't looking, late last night she wandered out of the downstairs TV room I had set up as her "safe place" and climbed up the stairs only to be scared into hiding by the mean big cat who acted like she owns the place. I finally found her under the sofa, which took some effort as the underneath is only accessible from the back. Today she's bolder, more exploratory, and the remaining hurdle is just the adjustment period for Raimei. Zephyr has already shown indications of curiosity rather than hostility, but Raimei will need reassurances that she's not being replaced before she stops feeling threatened. We're working on it.
We are living in a pivotal period of history. I mean, sure, every period of history is pivotal; that's what the butterfly effect is all about. But these first decades of the 21st century in America—arguably, you could go back another couple of decades to mark the start of the era—will be remembered and chronicled by scholars and given some sort of appellation like "The Great Collapse," or "The Regressive Age" or maybe more whimsically "The Tuning Fork," depending on how things play out from here.
Assuming there are scholars left to chronicle it, that also depends on the next few years.
Maybe it was an inevitability. Human beings on the whole are resistant to change and a significant portion of them tend to be reactionary. A significant potion of that portion tend to be cruel. And right now a lot of them feel threatened.
In this country, these people have flocked to form the modern Republican party. The so-called GOP has become a welcoming haven for those who not only believe in unchecked greed and self-interest over the needs of the many, but those who indulge in the basest of bigoted and prejudicial fears as a worldview. Whether by design or perfect storm of happenstance, its leadership has taken to manipulating the fears and anxieties of the ignorant to build a base of support among people they would exploit for power, spreading their ideology of myopic selfishness to impressionable rubes from coast to coast.
This wouldn't be that big a deal if their numbers were small. Every era has its cranks. But this group of greedy bigoted zealots proved large enough to amass a lot of power, and in the United States that power is perhaps most potently wielded by the Supreme Court.
Our current Supreme Court is comprised of three brilliant jurists who take their duty to preserve and interpret the Constitution of the United States with a reverence for its ideals and the goal of justice for all; and six lawless, willfully ignorant terrorist sympathizers motivated by personal power and preserving/expanding oppressive practices that support unequal justice. All of the latter six were placed on the court thanks to appointments by Republican presidents who were either complicit in the criminal Iran-Contra scandal (George H.W. Bush), unjustly placed in office by prior Supreme Court malfeasance (George W. Bush), or achieved the office backed by Russian influence (&#*@face VonClownstick). All three also engaged in varying degrees of electioneering and voter suppression as they felt their only routes to victory necessitated cheating. (Unsurprisingly, these six "justices" are all corrupt as hell to boot, happily accepting bribes and influence by fat cats with business before the court.)
The illegitimate majority of the court has pursued its ideological agenda with great fervor and promises to do even more to dismantle fundamental progress toward liberty and justice for all every chance it gets. Last year we had the overturning of Roe v. Wade, leading to medical catastrophes nationwide and a permission for states to treat women as disposable incubators without personal agency (or, as Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer said in their dissent, the Court declared that "from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law. And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions").
We've also seen a gutting of the Voting Rights Act, with Justice Kagan writing in her dissent in Brnovich v. DNC that "the Court has (yet again) rewritten—in order to weaken—a statute that stands as a monument to America’s greatness, and protects against its basest impulses. What is tragic is that the Court has damaged a statute designed to bring about 'the end of discrimination in voting.'" We've seen the nullification of a state requiring licenses to carry a concealed weapon (Justice Breyer in dissent: "The Court today restricts the ability of legislatures to fulfill that role [of regulating under the 2nd Amendment]. It does so without knowing how New York’s law is administered in practice, how much discretion licensing officers in New York possess, or whether the proper cause standard differs across counties.") We saw the Court suppress voting in 2020, when mitigations surrounding COVID were necessary. We saw it continue to block campaign finance laws, legalizing a workaround to the limits on campaign donations in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate. We saw it erode the wall between church and state in several ways, around and aside from the Roe v. Wade issue, and prop up the concept of forced arbitration, leading to companies requiring customers to sign away their rights to sue before engaging in business in favor of a private entity having ultimate power over a dispute.
This week we got more.
Affirmative action policy in college admissions was struck down, with a decision that seeks to gaslight the public into thinking it's an anti-discriminatory move rather then the legally baseless permission to be racist that it really is. Or, as Sotomayor put it in her dissent, "the Court's opinion is not grounded in law or fact and contravenes the vision of equality embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment." Justice Jackson, in a lengthy explanation of history that the majority chooses to ignore, attempts to expose the gaslighting and notes, "It is no small irony that the judgment the majority hands down today will forestall the end of race-based disparities in this country, making the colorblind world the majority wistfully touts much more difficult to accomplish."
Today's civil rights injustice by the Roberts Court involved a case that had no business even being heard by the Supreme Court, in which the majority decided that it is OK for a business to refuse service to gay customers. There is some logic to the idea here—that being that this is not about public accommodation like a hotel or a restaurant, but a service-for-hire business much like my own, and a private business should be able to choose its clients without interference—but this case was entirely hypothetical. There was no injury redress was sought for, there was not an instance of a business forced to provide a service to someone they didn't want to serve. It was a case brought solely as a "well, what if gay people wanted me to do work for them and I didn't want to do it?" argument. Why did the Court even take this up? The litigant would never have been faced with this hypothetical problem in real life. I cannot imagine someone going to her and saying, "hey, would you design a website for our wedding?" and being told, "ew, you're a gay, I hate you," and then insisting that she provide the service anyway. I mean, even if she were forced to comply, what kind of result would you get? No, they'd go somewhere else and possibly spread the word that this person doesn't deserve anyone's business. It was a case taken up purely to give the illegitimate majority of the Court an excuse to allow for some more oppression in society, more impetus for other businesses to engage in bigoted behavior aligned with their personal ideologies. (Just for the heck of it, I will say here to any gay people who want a website for their wedding or any other purpose, my rates are reasonable and I have no problem accepting your business.)
We also got a decision from the Court striking down the Biden Administration's student loan forgiveness program, another decision finding for a plantiff with no standing to bring a case. The state of Missouri was the suing party, not the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, which is the entity that would see financial consequences of the debt relief program, and as Kagan pointed out, they did not file suit. Whether the law underpinning the relief program—the post-9/11 "HEROES Act"—pertained or not I don't know enough about to have an opinion on. Maybe it is iffy, maybe not, but the Roberts Court is evidently happy to take any opportunity to force its ideology on the nation whether it has a proper right to or not.
It used to be that Republicans railed against the very idea of "activist judges." Now they're all about them—so long as the judges and Justices perform their activism in fulfillment of regressive, fear-based greed and bigotry.
It is imperative that we as a society stop enabling the modern Republican party and their quest to destroy American democracy, the value of equal protection under the law, and the concept of a middle class.
The Leftover Way
In my side gig as a rec-league softball umpire, I see many kinds of people out for some fun on the diamond. The basic traits can be measured on a pair of scales—on the X axis you have skills, with excellent players on one side and folks who have never picked up a bat before on the other; the Y axis has attitude, with breezy and easy-going ranging to overly competitive and obnoxiously macho. The spectrum is wide on both axes, and most teams are a jumbled mixture.
Over the years I've been doing this I've seen several teams repeatedly, and naturally have developed favorites. I always enjoy it when I draw a shift with, say, Bat Attitude or the Barking Gekkos or the Reinforcers. And there are, of course, individuals on other teams I always like to see. But the cream of the crop, at least from the standpoint of umpiring, are The Leftovers. I did a game with them last night after not seeing them for three or four weeks, it was a blast.
The Leftovers are a rare breed in rec-league softball in that while the players on the X axis remains varied, the Y axis has everyone on the breezy fun side at all times. (Even when, say, the pitcher complains about my strike zone, he does it in a joking way that's purely banter.) As it turns out, that was by design—Neal, the team captain, formed his team using what we might call The Leftover Way.
I grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, my formative baseball years being molded by Whitey Herzog and the hit-and-run, and for a time I was steeped in Cardinals lore. They have a thing they call "the Cardinal Way," which is mostly about player development in the minors and emphasizing things like defensive positioning and fundamentals, but also about being good community members and teammates. (It's also a term that occasionally gets used sarcastically as a pejorative during times of budget-cutting or when personnel are moved for off-the-field reasons, like when Herzog was ordered to trade Keith Hernandez because of all the cocaine. Keith cleaned up, but he was dealt to the Mets anyway for violating the Cardinal Way in the eyes of ownership.)
The Leftover Way has been articulated in an article published last month in the local weekly paper known as The Stranger. Writer Nathalie Graham joined the team for one game for the piece and you can read her account here. Neal runs an Instagram account for the team that has highlight reels, stats, and occasional good-natured questioning of my calls. You can see that stuff here.
I have to be an unbiased arbiter when I'm umpiring, but there is truly no better team to root for than The Leftovers.
As for my softball playing endeavors, I will be on the field late this afternoon/early evening in Ballard for the Smiling Potatoes of Death (or "SPuDs"). The Spuddies are objectively bad, but we try to make it fun anyway. It's our own attempt at the Leftover Way.1 Comment
Last night I went to the Mariner game with my friend Dave. Dave is from Chicago, so every year when my group does its season ticket draft, I try to snag a game against the White Sox for him and me to go to. It's cool under those circumstances, because whatever happens, one of us will be going home happy.
It was a good time, mostly—I had some issues on the way down that hindered things a little, but overall it was a fun evening getting to talk and visit with Dave as well as watch the Mariners bungle their way into a skin-of-their-teeth victory (3-2 final after a solo homer in the 7th).
Frist issue was traffic. I was intending to pick Dave up a good hour-plus before game time, which normally would allow plenty of time to get to the ballpark area and park, but some stuff must have been going on as the freeway was backed up for miles and reportedly alternate routes were similarly clogged. It was all I could do to meet Dave at a rail station and take the train down in order to get there on time. The train was packed tight and I was dressed for rainy-evening chill, so by the time the train arrived at Stadium Station I was pretty badly overheated and a little nauseous. I needed a couple of minutes in the fresh air once we got off before I could resume hurrying to the ballpark. Then we had e-ticket issues with our phones while at the gate. I hate being late to games, so things were adding up, but nothing we could do about it really, and we still got up to the concourse at 7:12 for the 7:10 first-pitch. Success, we thought! But, thanks to the new pitch-clock rule and Rob Manfred's jihad against fun time, we'd already missed two-thirds of an inning.
"What?" Dave asked, rhetorically. "We missed two batters already? Seriously?" Stupid Manfred.
Then we had to ascend to my season seats in section 327, so we missed a couple more batters, but hey, we got there and it was mercifully not one of these ridiculous two-hours-and-done games like I'd had the misfortune to attend a couple times already this year. By the time I'd gotten to sit down, shed some of my layers to vent heat, ingested some soft drink refreshment and some chowder that Dave thoughtfully gifted me, I was feeling better and able to enjoy the Mariners' apparent futility as they left more and more runners stranded on base. By the middle innings Chicago was ahead 2-1 and they only had three hits; Seattle had six hits and had left 10 aboard. Thus:
Fortunes reversed by the end, but I have no "after" photo. Oh well.
Anyway, I've a pet peeve with some ballplayers in recent years that one of the White Sox players was participating in, and that's certain players who are "Juniors" wearing their surname plus "Jr." on their backs. It's totally unimportant, of course. But it's grammatically wrong and thus irks my English major nerddom.
Players traditionally have their surname above their number on the back of their jerseys. "SMITH / 12," that sort of thing. The custom the last few years is for guys with names like "Joe Smith, Jr." to wear "SMITH JR. / 12." Now, I would understand this if it was to make a distinction from, say, Joe Smith senior. So far as I know, though, such a circumstance has only existed once in the Major Leagues, and for a rather brief period, when Ken Griffey, Sr., and Ken Griffey, Jr., were simultaneously Seattle Mariners, but they simply each wore "Griffey" above their number 30 and 24, respectively. But in any other circumstance it's just weird.
The White Sox guy in question is Luis Robert, Jr. His surname is not "Robert Jr," it's "Robert." He's Luis Junior. The Tampa Bay club had a pair of brothers a while back, Melvin Upton, Jr., and Justin Upton. They each just wore "Upton," like the Griffeys did, but under today's common usage, Melvin would be wearing "Upton Jr." and Justin merely "Upton." (Only Melvin is older, so Justin is actually junior to Melvin, just to make it weirder.) It's everywhere. Houston manager Dusty Baker, known throughout his long career as simply "Dusty Baker," now wears "Baker Jr." on his back. You've got "Acuña Jr.," "Guerrero Jr.," "Tatis Jr.," "Witt Jr.," "Sousa Jr.," and on and on. Guerrero and Tatis are each not only juniors, but second-generation big-leaguers following their dads, so you might be able to sway me with a case for them; but on the other hand, Guerrero's teammates Bo Bichette and Cavin Biggio are also big-league sons of big-leaguers, and there's no distinction there, so on second thought, no, you wouldn't sway me. Now, if these guys wanted to wear their first names—only done by two players that I can think of, Ichiro Suzuki and Chili Davis—then appending "Jr." would make sense if one was, in fact, a junior. "Vlad Jr. / 27." It could work.
Like I said, totally unimportant. I just had to get that off my chest. :)
Sadly, on the way home from the game I lost my scorebook. We think I must have tucked it under my arm while waiting for the train and with my various layers impeding my ability to feel it there it dropped to the platform without either of us noticing. I didn't realize it was missing until we were halfway to the Capitol Hill stop. Oh, well, not a big deal—though it did have my record of games I'd been to over the past couple of seasons, including the playoff game last year—but I really liked the pen that was clipped to it. I'll need to make a special trip to get a replacement, it's not the sort that can be found at a drug store or something.No Comments yet
Throughout the term of former President VonClownstick and beyond, there have been countless times when someone in media or just on the street—on TV news, in print, on a blog, at a bus stop, wherever—has referred to something about the former president's behavior as "shocking," or some variation thereof. I have never been one of those people. Nothing that man has done has surprised me.
Which is not to say there weren't other surprises. I recall a Thanksgiving Day 2016 conversation wherein I was one-hundred percent certain that Trump wouldn't finish out his term, he would undoubtedly be impeached or removed via the 25th Amendment. There was no way he wouldn't commit multiple crimes and graft and be so overtly dangerous that Congress or the cabinet wouldn't act. Well, I was half right on that, but the shocking surprise for me was that the entire Republican party had abandoned even a concerted pretense at ethics and adherence to small-d democratic principles. I mean, sure, there were well-known examples, but everyone?!
Yeah, pretty much. And the cabinet did not act, it was purged of non-corrupt members. Congress did, but failed to convict because of Republicans either on the take or being blackmailed or just being amoral chaos agents who, to borrow a line from Alfred Pennyworth, just want to watch the world burn. And so VonClownstick did finish his term, to the great detriment of the nation.
That was a surprise. That was shocking.
But nothing, not one word, in the indictment of Trump and Waltine Nauta issued by special counsel Jack Smith diverged from expectations. Shocking? Please. This account is of standard, everyday Trump behavior.
I'm not surprised at the sheer volume of stolen documents. Or at the sloppy, haphazard way they were stored at Trump's tacky beach club. Or that Trump was recorded confessing to crimes. Or that he demonstrated a breadth of hypocrisy that is best measured in parsecs. All that is completely consistent with his prior behavior. No one should find it surprising or shocking. Even the red-hatted dupes and marks that make up his fanbase, who are so manipulable that they will swallow any lie he tells them, should be used to this crap.
The indictment is still a critical piece of work, of course. Just because it doesn't surprise doesn't mean it isn't profoundly disturbing.
In 37 charges against Trump (and three against Nauta), the indictment shows the former President of the United States (!) treated the nation's security as a triviality; that he neither understood nor respected the duties of and laws pertaining to the job of President; reiterated his lack of concern for, if not outright contempt of, military service members; that he has no compunctions at all about committing fraud; behaves like a wannabe mob boss; and clings to delusions. Again, profoundly disturbing, not surprising.
Aside from the preponderance of evidence that he's guilty on all counts—yes, presumed innocent legally speaking until trial, but I can't fathom what kind of defense would have any credibility—here are my main takeaways from this indictment:
- Based on what is stated therein, approximately 34 boxes of stolen documents—from the photographs these appear to be banker's boxes, each of which could contain reams and reams of documentation—are unaccounted for. These are presumably either still in Trump's possession or have been disseminated elsewhere, which would constitute yet another serious crime.
- Trump himself curated what each box contains, chose a relative few that could be "discovered" by authorities and even then asked his lawyer to essentially double-check his work and remove anything especially incriminating or treasonous. On the other hand, he chose enough material for 30+ banker's boxes to continue concealing from authorities.
- Implied by the exchange between Nauta and either Melania or Ivanka (presumably Melania), Trump chose an unspecified number of documents to remove to his New Jersey property. These remain unaccounted for as far as is publicly known.
- Of the documents that were recovered, many are marked with classifications requiring them to be observed only in a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility), implying perhaps a greater effort required to remove them from the White House? Not sure how that works, but it's curious.
- A number of the recovered documents are marked ORCON, meaning the release and dissemination of the information is controlled by the originator of the intelligence, presumably a foreign nation. So there's stuff here the US government couldn't even release if it wanted to unilaterally.
- Since Trump curated what would be recovered and what would not, and chose items included in the above to be found, it's all the more curious what he chose to continue concealing. Since Trump's sense of what is and isn't important is unique to him, can we presume the unrecovered docs include stuff he thinks can be sold or he thinks is good dirt to keep for leverage against others in his petty feuds or debt crises?
- In trying to convince his attorney to commit crime with him and/or for him, he told a story he has told many times before alleging that Hillary Clinton's attorney destroyed evidence for her, which is why "she didn't get into any trouble." This, of course, referring to the email scandal Trump made into a mantra when he ran against Clinton in 2016, but the fact that he continues to say these things in private reinforces my long-held belief that Trump is so narcissistic and incapable of any sort of empathy that he really does believe that everyone thinks like he does. That his view of politics and corruption is the norm. He's not just making shit up when he says Hillary's lawyer destroyed evidence to keep her out of the pokey, he assumes that because that's how he does things. He assumes everyone in a power position has a corrupt lawyer in the mold of Roy Cohn that does their bidding, just like he did back in the day. He also doesn't get it when some of his current lawyers act with relative ethics and refuse to commit fraud for him because everyone else has their own Roy Cohn, why aren't any of you doing that? All he has in that vein is Giuliani. When he tries to manufacture a scandal about Hunter Biden, for example, in his mind the logic goes (a) there is, of course, a scandal to be found, because everyone is a criminal just like me, so naturally Hunter is dirty because everyone with any sort of power (or connections to power) is dirty, that's why we have power; (b) if dirt can't be found it's not because there isn't any, but because the target is really good at covering it up; and (c) if dirt really can't be found, manufacturing some is fine, because to prove it's made-up the target would have to reveal the real dirt, which of course really does exist because, hey, you wouldn't believe the amount of dirt I've covered up in my day and everyone is like me. This is also why Trump persists in his "everything is so unfair" bullshit—he believes every president keeps government documents, so why is he the only one going through investigations and prosecutions? The idea that no one else gets indicted for this because no one else would actually commit the crime doesn't compute. That would require comprehension that his worldview isn't the norm.
- I know this is just repeating what John, John, and Tommy said in the Pod Save America clip I posted the other day, but some of the transcribed exchanges in this thing are golden:
TRUMP to ATTORNEY 1, in response to the subpoena to produce and return all government docs: "I don't want anybody looking, I don't want anybody looking through my boxes, I really don't, I don't want you looking through my boxes." ... "What happens if we just don't respond [to the subpoena] or don't play ball with [the grand jury]?" ... “Wouldn't it be better if we just told them we don't have anything?”And, of course, the cherry on top of the entire indictment:
TRUMP to book author and staffer, in a conversation at his New Jersey property: “You know, [General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] said, 'he wanted to attack [Iran],' and—”
STAFFER: “You did.”
EMPLOYEE 1, trying to find space to move boxes of stolen documents to: “There is still a little room in the shower ... there's some other stuff in there that are [sic] not papers. Could that go into storage?”
EMPLOYEE 2: "Yes—anything that is not the 'beautiful mind' paper boxes can definitely go into storage." (This refers to the Ron Howard film "A Beautiful Mind," about mathematician John Nash, who suffered from delusions and schizophrenia.)
TRUMP, brandishing classified document to author and staffer: "This is secret information. Look, look at this."
This guy cannot be convicted soon enough.1 Comment
This is secret information, look at this
Well. Quite the news day, isn't it. I was working last night—at the umpire gig, training a new guy for three games—and didn't catch up on the indictment news until the wee hours of the morning; then, as is my custom, I was up very late and slept in quite late today and since waking have been catching up on the news around the unsealing of the indictment of former president VonClownstick.
I've printed out the whole thing and am going through it, no doubt I will have more to post afterward. Meantime, here are some bits said by others I've come across around the interwebs (including Twitter, which I went to today for stuff related to this news but which I generally no longer peruse or patronize; I do wish the folks I had enjoyed following there eventually make the move to Spoutible).
"Again and again, though, the indictment … recontextualizes [the alleged actions] relative to Donald Trump doing the only things that he ever does. Breaking laws in an oafish, overt, seemingly arbitrary way is absolutely Some Donald Trump Shit. But what Trump was doing with all those secret and confidential documents, the indictment reveals, was also Some Donald Trump Shit. While he is certainly one of the most bribe-able individuals of his generation and unquestionably unbound by any higher or finer concerns whatsoever, and while that would not really be the sort of person you'd want having a bunch of sensitive documents in their possession, it is equally salient that Trump is fundamentally an absolutely whopping bitch whose deepest personal desire and abiding life's passion has always been showing off in weird ways and pursuing vinegary personal feuds."
Also, to no one's surprise, Republicans by and large are losing their minds over this and pretending all of this is nothing more than a political hit job. Projection has become the default trait of the modern Republican. Dan Bongino compared President Biden to Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and Hitler for "arresting [a] political opponent" (even though no conviction, let alone sentence, has yet occurred, even though Jack Smith is a non-political special counsel, even though the lack of due process in Pot's Cambodia, Amin's Uganda, and Nazi Germany makes his comparison worthless). Kevin McCarthy, with a straight face and without intending irony, said, "I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable." Ron DeSantis said “[The] weaponization of federal law enforcement represents a mortal threat to a free society," Nikki Haley said that "the American people are exhausted by … vendetta politics," Thom Tillis called it "sad" that "Democrats are presuming guilt for sheer political gain," Steve Scalise claimed that "Joe Biden is weaponizing his Department of Justice against his own political rival." All of this from people who joined in with the crowd shouting "LOCK HER UP" about Hillary Clinton, called for suppression of journalists, and supported unwarranted political hitjobs and baseless accusations and investigations of Democrats Mark Warner, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Eric Swallwell, Elijah Cummings, and others, not to mention nonpartisans Anthony Fauci, Andy McCabe, Robert Mueller, the entire FBI, and basically anyone else that spoke out against the treasonous and criminal behavior of Donald J. Trump, his family, and/or his businesses. The 21st Century GOP: Hypocrisy on parade.
As I delve into this long document, I give you some highlights as presented by the guys from Pod Save America. Enjoy.
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My standard view when I go to Mariner games. Slightly higher than optimal, but otherwise great for keeping track of everything on the field
I've gone to three baseball games at the Seattle Mariners' home ballpark this month. The park has a corporately-sponsored name, but since the corporation in question isn't paying me anything I won't contribute to the annoying modern-day normalization of branding everything in sight by using the name here. I prefer to think of the place as "Niehaus Park," after the late Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, or as "Griffínezuki Field," after the Mariners' three Hall of Famers (two for now, three as soon as Ichiro Suzuki is eligible in two years).
Anyway, branding aside, the experiences were quite different in that (a) the company varied; (b) the games themselves were rather different from each other; and (c) the vantage point changed.
The first I attended mostly by myself, as seatmate DB had had a bit of a day and showed up a little over an hour late, but I was quite engaged by the masterful pitching performance put on by Seattle starter Logan Gilbert, who had a perfect game going into the 7th inning; sadly, his teammates weren't supporting him and he ended up losing 2-1 to Texas. It was a ridiculously fast game, barely over two hours, giving me a little extra confirmation bias regarding the overreach of the new pitch clock in combination with the new normal of 6:40pm start times. When an alleged night game is over before sunset, maybe things need to be rethought a bit.
Second game was courtesy of KA, who bought tickets for herself, her wife, and me through a promotion that got us some extra swag in the form of "Ty France 'Tye'-dye" T-shirts. We were thus seated in the promotional T-shirt section down low in right field, section 116. Being closer to the field like that is neat and, for me, somewhat novel, but on the whole I found it a lousy vantage for keeping track of the game. I'm so used to the view from section 327—from which the entire playing field is visible and I know how to judge the trajectory of balls off the bat, not to mention having a decent sense of whether the home-plate umpire is missing the mark on balls and strikes—that I had trouble following anything hit to left field and no clue whether a pitch was inside or out or down the middle. It's fun to move around some, though, and I appreciate the variety of perspectives on a game. The game was comfortable, a relatively easy 6-1 victory over the hapless Oakland (for now) Athletics, and being treated to greasy fish-n-chips by one's best pal in her company watching a couple of outstanding defensive plays by fill-in first-baseman Sam Haggerty while basking in a beautiful Seattle evening was delightful.
Karen mugging for the camera, us in our Tye-dyes. And evidence that my chipped front tooth is more noticeable than it used to be. I should make a dentist appointment.
The third game was tonight, in the club level way out in deep right (section 213), with WB. WB has been dealing with some life-things that she is remarkably projecting a glass-half-full attitude about; it's an impressive trait of hers that I can only aspire to as I tend to feel injustices a bit more in the taking-offense part of my brain. Anyway, she and I were able to catch up a great deal while watching—or attempting to watch in the first few innings, as our seats were right in line with the setting sun and glare was a real issue—the Mariners' usually outstanding pitching staff fall to pieces against the surprisingly-over-.500 Pittsburgh Pirates, who hit seven home runs in the game. Seven. And not cheap ones, either, these were bombs, including one off the restaurant windows in the second deck. The first of these longballs came on the second pitch of the game. You're just not likely to win when the opponents hit seven homers, and despite some effort to keep things semi-close, the Seattle lineup just couldn't string together enough hits and Pittsburgh took it 11-6.
From what we could see it was pretty.
Sitting in the club level used to have a particular perk to it, in that there are more and allegedly better food options there. The one I was looking forward to tonight was the pasta bar, which prior to this season had been little booth where cooked rigatoni was ready to be covered with the sauce of your choice, heated and mixed in a wok with the protein and veggies of your choice (among just a few options, but still) while you wait. Overpriced, of course, but a way better value than other ballpark concession options and much healthier, and I waited in line for my opportunity to order one such meal. But things have changed, and now they pre-mix all the pasta into a mere two choices that you cannot customize at all: elbow macaroni with meatballs in marinara meat sauce or macaroni-with-chicken alfredo. It felt like a not-at-all subtle middle-finger salute to me and any other vegetarian/pescatarians that (even just occasionally) pay the premium for club-level seating at games. Even the caeser salad offering was prepackaged with chicken, ruining an otherwise tasty snack. The fallback greasy-fish-and-chips were not a ready option either, even if I'd been inclined to have another jump into seafood town so soon after the last one, as there is no Ivar's concession on the club level and I wasn't about to spend two and a half innings hiking up and down stairs to and from other decks to buy something more expensive and less satisfying than what I was set on getting in the first place. I was annoyed, but my perspective check came in the form of a reminder from my seatmate that the ballpark concessionaires didn't deserve my money and I'd be going home $20 richer because of it.
It was also Karaoke Fireworks Night, which was fun; about half the songs were of too recent a vintage for me to have much awareness of them, but I sang along (poorly) with a few and enjoyed the fireworks, though again our seats were less than ideal for that as some of the display was blocked by the retracted roofing structure and the big scoreboard.
In discussing the difference in vantage points with WB, she related some of her recent drama stuff which involved an only-in-America dilemma about health insurance that, once resolved, put the rest of her drama of the moment into a far less stressful perspective. Nothing like a massive scary thing that is 100% the fault of a group of terrorists known as the Republican party to illustrate how, no matter the stress level of your drama, things could be way worse.
Tomorrow is another day. Go M's.
Sunset from 213. Ummm...ball? Strike? Did the pitch get hit?No Comments yet
I had free time today, so I finally got around to fixing some longstanding issues with the site as it appears on mobile devices. Long time coming, I know. Anyway, those of you viewing this on your phone or tablet should have a better layout now, though you may have to clear your browser cache if you've been by here before and it still looks wonky.
Firefox on Android is still giving me a little bit of flak, but it's minor flak, e.g. the rounded edges of the content window are still screwy there. Chrome on Android is still not spacing the text properly, but again, minor flak. For you iOS people I'm using simulators to estimate iOS responses since I don't own any Apple stuff, but it seems like it's all good there. Let me know if not.No Comments yet
Bits and pieces
Returned after paying impound ransom. Glass half full.
Howdy. It's been over a week since the last post, but not for lack of material. I'd actually intended to write about a few things since the Great Car Caper, including its own follow-up, but you know how it is. Work, inertia, splitting headaches, a general feeling of "I just don't want to be at my desk anymore tonight." Anyway, in lieu of the various individual posts I'd been pre-writing in my head since then, here's a catchall one with a few bits and pieces from what I'm sure would have been much more elaborate and articulate ramblings had they gotten their due in a timely manner.
- Car update: The police recovered my car relatively soon after its theft and the only damage to it was superficial (exterior) and annoying (interior), which is to day a chunk missing from the plastic "rain guard" (I suppose it guards from rain getting into the door seal?), a small dent, and what appears to have been an aborted attempt to remove my Biden-Harris bumper sticker; and a truly impressive amount of garbage strewn through the inside. Mostly the trash was food wrappers, candy remnants, fast food bags, fast food detritus, that sort of thing, plus a few empty cans of spray paint. I presume the thieves were graffiti taggers.
My working theory is that the thieves used the car to go from place to vandalize with spray paint to next place to vandalize with spray paint, with stops at various fast food and convenience store candy marts, until it ran out of gas, at which point they abandoned it to likely steal someone else's car rather than buy fuel. Score one for my inefficient internal combustion engine.I emptied all the trash, plus a little of my own trash that was still there, and aired the car out for a day or so to get the smell of fast food out of it. That done, and since I don't care to try and fix the superficial exterior damage, the only real harm done to me aside from the inconvenience of being without it for a few days was the ransom demanded by Lincoln Towing, the company that provided the impound lot the police use. They charged me the towing fee, a city regulatory fee, and hourly storage fees for the time they had the car. Quite the racket they've got going. Other cities have laws that protect auto theft victims from this kind of predation, but not this one. Apparently there was an attempt to pass a measure to address this in the state legislature some time back, but it didn't go anywhere. Alas. Still, way cheaper than replacing the car, so I'm choosing to look at it in a glass-half-full sort of way. And I ordered a wheel-lock thingy for future use when parking on the street.
- Erik went to Korea. And Taiwan. Who knew? This strikes me as a little weird, not because Erik went to these places, but because not long ago I had a strange dream in which my dad and Marty were planning on moving to Pusan. It made zero sense.
- The CNN thing with the "Town Hall" debacle featuring former President VonClownstick was something I was all worked up to write a whole screed about, but now that some time has passed I'm less outraged. Not because the event wasn't deserving of outrage, it was. The fact that CNN thought hosting such a forum would result in anything other than a fiasco is mind-boggling. On the other hand, CNN is under new management that wants it to be a place for disaffected Fox "News" viewers to go, so maybe this is just the first taste of their new business plan. Regardless, the thing did serve a positive purpose among all its rampant disservices, and that is that it provided a ton of material for campaign ads against VonClownstick. The program reminded those of us that were no longer paying attention to politics and the news as deeply as others of us do just who this guy is, that he has not changed, that he will not change, that he is among the vilest human beings to have ever lived. And of who his fans are. That he has followers that just eat his vileness for breakfast and regurgitate it onto society.
Most of the news coverage after the fact has been criticism of CNN. Slate.com has a good analysis of it that includes:CNN CEO Chris Licht said, in response to the criticism of his network's production, "You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them." Except, yes, Chris, I can say you didn't get them. You got propaganda. You got deflections. You got bald-faced lies. When he was all but cornered on the stolen documents thing, you got "You're a nasty person" as his "answer."
Absolutely every single moment of this debacle was predictable, and it is enraging to see CNN making the exact same mistakes it made when Trump first entered into the public sphere eight years ago. The network gave a seditious would-be despot carte blanche to openly lie on live television for an hour, in front of an adoring crowd, with ineffective pushback from a reporter who, if Wednesday night is any indication, is nowhere near ready for prime time. The pregame chatter among CNN’s vacuous panelists, meanwhile, used the same empty framing that has long made the term “talking heads” a pejorative.All the CNN-bashing is deserved, to be sure, but it misses the bigger issue of what the former president said during the televised hour of journalistic seppuku. He perpetuated his election lies. He once again defamed the woman he has been ordered by a court to pay $5 million to as damages for his sexual assault and defamation of her. He called the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade "a great victory." Instead of answering a question about why he stole government documents after leaving office, he insulted the questioner. Of the January 6, 2021 insurrectionist footsoldiers, he said "They were there with love in their heart. That was unbelievable and it was a beautiful day." He avoided taking any kind of position on the war in Ukraine, lest it upset his good friend Vladimir. That is all very, very important information that should show everyone in the world how this man should not be allowed anywhere near any position of any authority ever again, but because of how it was presented (and subsequently covered by many) I fear that point will not get across to anyone who needs to hear it.The American news media as a whole is terrible, TV news in particular, but outlets one might consider to be better, like National Public Radio, are guilty of the same kind of malfeasance, treating the sort of behavior DJT and his minions exhibit as basically normal politics when it is anything but.
- Related to the CNN thing, there is The Gun Thing. I had some further ranting to do on that, on how the gun "debate" is evidentiary just on its own of the fact that the modern Republican party deserves to be labeled a domestic terrorist organization, but instead today I think I'll just let Wil speak for me.
- I had another umpiring shift yesterday, four games in the sun on the first summery weekend we've seen this year up in these parts. By and large it was a good day, few points of conflict. But there were some, and they put me in mind of something my friend (and softball teammate) Mack posted over on the Book of Faces. I will reproduce it here:
I'm sure my Laws of Sports Conduct apply to every recreational sport, but I don't play "every" recreational sport, I just play softball, and here goes:Obviously, Mack's first point is the one that resonates most with me because I'm often on the umpire's side of things. I'm paid a bit more than $20 a game, but not nearly enough to accept the sort of treatment that an occasional player will vent my way. To date I have ejected exactly two players from softball games in over four years, and one of those was for physical violence, but I have been tempted to toss many. Three or four I probably should have tossed but didn't. Yesterday my shift began in an unusual fashion in that, before the games started, I was approached by a guy who had been giving me shit last week. "Hey man," he said, "I just want to apologize for last week. I just started acting out of my head for no reason at all, I don't know what the fuck that was even about. Sorry." This was good, set the stage for a good day that was only marred by one further violation (from someone else on a different team) of Mack's Rule #1 and one inadvertent violation of Rule #2 that led to some potentially damaging violations of Rule #4 that I was able to defuse relatively quickly. The Rule #1 violator is a chronic offender, though, which makes me cringe a little when I see his team on my schedule.
1. Never so much as grumble to an umpire.
Teams, you're paying the ump like $20 to have them give an unbiased opinion on balls and strikes, safe and out, so STFU and take their word for it. Without an umpire, you'd have no walks and no strikeouts, and some batters would be there for like twenty pitches before they put the ball in play. Also, don't expect the umpire to be better at umpiring than you are at playing. ???? If you suspect that an umpire is mis-applying the rules, you'd better have your rulebook handy, or else don't go out there. Simply, don't. You have a fixed amount of time to play your game. Every minute you spend interacting with an official can cost your teammates an at-bat or even an entire inning of play. It's not worth it.
2. Try to not hurt anybody.
Your job on the field is to make sure nobody gets hurt. So when you're thinking about doing something "sportsmanlike" that can get somebody hurt, don't do it. Don't. Just don't do it. Never ever ever "take someone out" at second base. Don't do it. Your "job" isn't to prevent the double play, it's to keep the opposing player healthy enough to go out to the bar after the game. Don't throw your bat, don't make throws that your teammate can't handle, don't do the "fake tag" thing that makes somebody slide when there isn't even a play on them, and on fly balls—yell loud and clearly that either you're taking it or the other person's taking it. No crashes over a silly pop fly, OK?
3. Respect the equipment.
If you're the kind of player who slams a bat down after striking out, or throws a glove after making an error . . . you need to chill the fuck out. You look like a poster child for a domestic violence abuser, and if your teammate is caring enough, they will and should refer you to some counseling. I often joke that a good craftsperson always blames their tools, because it's obvious that it's not the tool, it's the craftsperson. It's really okay if you're a player who drops a ball or swings and misses. The greatest baseball players in history do that. The reason they "act out" is because of some stupid code that "shows they care." You don't have to show you care—because you shouldn't care. The game doesn't matter. We do this for recreation, not recognition, and certainly not for the adulation. Chill the fuck out.
4. Be supportive of the other team's players.
You're not being disloyal by showing appreciation when the other team makes a nice play or gets a nice hit. It's been proven that we feel better after a high-five than we do after grumbling about a missed opportunity. You don't have to applaud wildly when they turn a double play against you, but you might feel better telling the shortstop, "Nice play" rather than think, "you fucken bastid!"
I've had my share of inappropriate interactions on the playing field. I remember each and every one of them, which is a shame, because I've had so much fun on the field, all of those games and all of those innings and all of those at-bats . . . but it seems that those memories of the pleasant and fun times don't linger. Those memories may not linger, the fun of turning a double play or driving in a run or taking an extra base or making a nice relay throw . . . but the effects of those activities DO linger. They help build friendships, they help build community, they help make the world a better place, one play at a time.
Fun. Recreational sports should be fun. I'm going out there this season to have fun. I invite you, if you're partaking in a recreational sport, to go out and just have fun! And try hard to not hurt anybody!
- I can't believe it's taken me this long to read another Neal Stephenson book. Years and years ago I read Snow Crash, which was terrific, and Zodiac, also quite good, but it's only in the last couple of weeks that I cracked open another Stephenson tome. This one is Cryptonomicon, which is, if I'm recalling Snow Crash properly, not as awesome as that but still pretty darn fine. Plenty more when I finish this one, I guess.
- I am going to unload my tickets to the Mariners/Yankees game on May 31st. That's a softball (playing, not umping) night for me and I'm already missing the prior week's game for similar reasons. Anyone reading this that wants the pair of (quite good) upper deck seats may have them for cost or in trade, otherwise I'm putting them on StubHub for profit. Let me know.
That's not what the song means
So, Thursday night I had an umpiring shift over at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill. Not unusual, I generally do a couple of those a week out there. On this evening I found myself running late because of a traffic snarl on the freeway—someone had lost a barbecue grill out of the back of a pickup truck, so everyone was wisely slowing down and changing lanes so as not to collide with this tipped-over piece of outdoor cooking tech in the center lane, causing a backup of many miles—and I was hurrying to get to the field on time. Usually on a Thursday I have to park several blocks away. The league doesn't reimburse me for parking as a rule, so I troll for free spots in a very densely populated part of town. On this day, though, I lucked out—someone had just vacated a spot less than one block from the park. The opposite end of the park I needed to be at, but still. Seemed like a break and I got there in plenty of time to set up the field and start the night's games on schedule.
The games were good, mostly with teams I'd not encountered before, though I knew one of the groups from the first game of the evening. Good guys and gals, although some of them kept on nagging me about the conditions; the lights at the park are broken, only about 1/3 of them come on and it's pretty dark when you need to track a fly ball, but what good nagging me about it does is a mystery. For the most part the newbies were good folks too, I was even complimented by one of the guys who was impressed with my "fun differential" (which is a literal inside-baseball joke referring to last year's Seattle Mariners) while another offered to help me collect the outfield cones and another one was effusive about my getting out to call plays on the bases and making sure everyone knew what was what (I figure his prior rec softball experience might be in the city league I sometimes play in, which has some of the gawd-awfulest umpiring I've been around with guys that just stand rooted in place and quietly go "hup" when calling a strike that might well be over a batter's head).
Anyway, when the games were completed at 11:00 and I had packed up the gear, I had some pep in my step and walked the length of the park back toward my car, already plotting out the rest of my night. I have to stop by the league office on the way home to get a gear bag for Sunday's shift, then I'm going to pick up a couple of quick groceries from the one 24-hour Safeway I can think of, then go home, feed the cats, put up my feet, and watch the Mariner game recorded from this afternoon while I eat leftovers from Karen's cooking the prior night. I was humming to the earworm in my head of a Billy Joel song from his 52nd Street album, even though I hadn't been listening to that earlier, and was feeling pretty good.
Then I arrived at my allegedly lucky parking spot to find some other car parked there.
Had I parked illegally? Did someone tow my car? No signs for towing companies anywhere. The posted parking restrictions all expired at 6:00pm and I didn't arrive until a bit before 7:00. But it is Cap Hill, people are zealous about parking. I was kind of freaking out, but also kind of methodical.
I called a friend who has more experience than I do with navigating the parking of Cap Hill, but he had no answers. I called the towing company used by the city police when they tow illegally parked cars. Do you have my car? Nope, sorry. So, the police it is. Called 911—which I was surprised you are supposed to do in a case like this, but you are—and reported my missing vehicle and they dispatched a police unit to talk to me. Took a while for them to get there, a missing car can't be high on the priority list, but they showed around midnight.
Officer Chu was fantastic. Good-humored guy, looked over the site and confirmed, yes, a legal spot, no reason you'd have been towed, 99% likely stolen as it's an older car with no anti-theft stuff. Plus the electronic locks don't work reliably anymore, I have to remember to manually lock the doors, and honestly can't remember if I checked them all since I was hurrying to the field. Chu let me know that the recovery rate for stolen cars is actually pretty high in these parts (around 70%), unlike in other cities and other parts of the country where it can be puny, so I may well get it back before too long. He and his partner, whose name I did not get, gave me a positive experience with the Seattle police, which was reassuring but also made me wonder if certain of my friends would have gotten the same treatment given their ethnic backgrounds. I'm choosing to believe Officer Chu would be just as cool with them because, hey, he seemed like a good dude. His mustachioed partner, who knows, he didn't say much.
After finishing with the cops I made my way to the Cap Hill train station and barely caught the last train of the night that would take me as far as the Northgate station, after which I begged a favor of my only friend in the north end with wheels that I knew wasn't a freakish morning person (looking at you, Failor) and that didn't have to punch a clock in the morning.
Ultimately I got home. Way later than planned. But I still watched the M's game (good one, too). And scrolled through autotrader.com to see what I'm looking at as a monetary hit if I need to buy a new-to-me used car; looks like maybe $5-8k. Really bad timing on that, given my giant HOA assessment hit this month.
Ironically, there was a particular CD in the car stereo. On my drive down I had been listening to The Beatles' Rubber Soul. Beatle fen will know what the first track on that album is. And, yes, I might be a star when it comes to the cast of rec league softball umps, but no, car thief, I will not, in fact, love you. Bastard.
UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, the police phoned me to say they had recovered my car near Harborview Medical Center, not that far from where it was stolen. Apparently it had not had its plates removed and was "in driveable condition," though no word on whether or not it is damaged. It's being towed to an impound lot now and I can call the towing company tomorrow to arrange to reclaim it. Hopefully there's not a big fee attached to that.4 Comments