Friday, April 30, 2010

3 B-3 Wizards in Philly Tonight

(Self-Appointed) Dr. Lonnie Smith, local Philly legend Joey Defrancseco, and John Medeski all in one place for one night? All current reigning Organ Gods playing in Philly? I just might implode.

But, before I do, let me make it up Broad to the Kimmel before the Phillies Phans get to their seats for the 1st of 3 home games against the (very surprising!!) 1st place National League East NY Mets and enjoy tonight's historic event.  With 7.71 ERA Kyle Kendrick (Head Case #1 of 2) pitching for the Phils tonight, I think I rather be sitting @ the Kimmel tonight enjoying the soothing B3 as played by the 3 virtuosoes rather than gnashing my teeth and biting my fingers at Citizens as Mr. Kendrick potentially crashes and burns.  I'll be crossing my phingers for the Phils but......I'll take the B-3's any day.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Theory Of Ice - She Alights Again

Ms. E is back with her occasional post.  As usual, saying her posts are about hockey is like saying Crime & Punishment is about a Russian with a temper.  She reeks with talent.


Friday, April 23, 2010

The Other Pennsylvania Baseball Team... still known as the Pittsburgh Pirates, although I'm sure the Amalgamated Buccaneers Society is probably campaigning for a name change so as to seperate their actions from the alleged baseball teams in the three rivers city in their most recent 3 game debacle against the Brewers of Milwaukee.

Yesterday, 20-0.  Worst lost ever.  124 Years.   18,813 games.  Brewers' pticher Manny Parra singled through the right side off the Pirates' Dotel to produce that 20th run; it was the 3rd hit by a Brewers' pitcher that day.   36, the number of runs scroed by the Brewers in the 3 game series.   1, the number of runs scored by the Pirates.  Mets fans everywhere must be breathing sighs to know that at least for 3 games they weren't the admirers of the worst team in professional baseball.

Somali pirates have allegedly hired Ogilvy & Mather (hey!  You've got to spend that ransom money somewhere..) to explore an alternate nome de guerre than "pirate".
"Those Pittsburgh Pirates", an alleged Somali stated, " have taken the teeth, the bite, the fear from our chosen profession!"

He continued, through a kidnapped interpreter wearing a Phillies hat, "We are looking into our options.  Do we sue the Pittsburgh Baseball Club for the degradation of the "Pirates" franchise?  Do we change our name from "Somali Pirates" to "Somali Phillies"?  Do we kidnap the pitching staff...wait what am I saying?  We'd have to pay ourselves the ransom to get rid of them.  This is truly upsetting; this naming problem is not something I thought we had to deal with when I left my goat herd for the life of crime on the high seas."

Tip of the hat to for the borrowed picture.


Need a Little Pep in Your Mode of Transportation?

Don't want to shell out big bucks for a vehicle of questionable performance?  Tempted by the low-hanging highly-priced Apple on the tree?  Disappointed and confused by things out of your range of comprehension?  Needing a break from the complexity of today's stupidities?

I offer a simple solution.

Pick yourself up a copy of Kings Go Forth's "The Outsiders Are Back".  Personally guaranteed to put some pep into your hep, make your 4 cylinder behave like a 6, rejuvinate your out-of-use toe-tapping-sedate-shoe-wearing feet, and put a smile on your ever souring puss.

Plop this cd into your car or home stereo (for you young whipper-snappers, explanations to follow another time) and experience the immediate cathartic sound waves eminating from the cd.  Kings Go Forth are 10 guys out of the Midwest who are solid, not great, musicians demonstrating that sometimes you have to have body mass to generate great music.  Their enthusiasm is infectious, their performance energy is high.  The recording has a funky recording style, like older mono records, (think Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings recordings), that, IMHO, don't do the group justice.  These folks must be GREAT live.  Tight, Curtic Mayfield/Sly & Family Stone like.  Check out their MySpace offerings especially "High on Your Love" and "Don't Take My Shadow".
Crank it up.  Shed some worries.

Summer's almost here and "The Outsiders are Back" is the first great recording this year to bring the summer feelings on.

This Sunday, I'll most certainly be playing some selections on what looks to be a morbid weather day.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back on WVUD, Sunday April 25th

It's been quite a long time since the last time I'd d.j.-ed The Morning After.    Geez!!!  It was before the Big Blizzards of 2010!   Much new stuff to play.  Much water under the proverbial dam.  Tune in this weekend, Sunday from 9:00 to 12:00 EST on 91.3 FM if you're within 25 miles of Newark, DE or, world-wide, on WVUD for online access here.

Already cueing up are new selections from Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Jason & the Scorchers (thanks WP!), Charlie Hunter, The Holmes Brothers, Explosions in the Sky, The XX, Cyrus Chestnut & Eric Reed, and some old standbys and tucked in surprises.

Looks like it'll be a rainy Sunday morning.  What better excuse to curl up in your favorite bed, chair, or sofa with your most accomodating spouse, sig other, pet, stuffed toy/blanket and listen to the waft of tunes coming in your general direction..........

Addendum:  4/28/10, the playlist for the show has been updated here.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

At CMU, they say, "Hey! Let's Buggy!"

Buggy is:
"1.You build a buggy,
2. You race it,
3. You win."  -  Michael Ian Black, professional comedian and social interpreter

Size DOES matter, at least when it comes to being the Buggy driver.  
Are you bright, short, and of low gravitational pull?  Get thee to CMU upon your high school graduation.
Remember all those taunts regarding your diminutive physical stature?  Get thee to CMU upon your high school graduation.
You will be wined and dined, cajoled and tempted, woo will be pitched to you in buckets.  And if you happen to have any physical co-ordination, your name will be proposed for sainthood upon your feet touching the campus grounds.
As you can see, quarters are rather tight when it comes to being the pilot of these low-slung street projectiles, so being able to be stuffed inside the canister is of high importance and if you're in the 5 ft, 90 lbs range, you will most definitely be of high importance.

There are 82 pages of rules for the Sweepstakes (the OFFICIAL name), i.e., the annual Buggy Races.   Page 81 alone lists fine for minor but not disqualifying infractions including $25 for "Hay Bales" and $25 for "Driver extraction equipment in the follow car".   These folks are not fooling around!    Adherence to the rules is strict; this year's leaders were all disqualified on a safety issue.  A Bummer of a Buggy for them.  So, it seems a barrister type (or two) is a necessary member of each Buggy team.

This year's recap of events is here.  Bit of Buggy history is here, here, and here.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

The iPad and the Curmudgeon, Part II

In a previous post, I admittedly chortled as I wrote how the iPad did not even meet the bar of being an acceptable e-reader, certainly not an acceptable replacement or improvement on the Kindle II. A Mr. D, from EdWoods Review, commented that perhaps I had not been fair in my assessment.
I thought I had but there was some doubt thrown in so this weekend I pooped popped into an Apple store in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh. The Ever Loving Wife, to her credit, persuaded and accompainied me into the shop, delighting, it seems, in my love/hate relationship with the newest Apple contraption.

Just earlier, we had imbibed and eaten at the fine William Penn Tavern where we had a short conversation with the owner/chef/high school lacrosse coach/philosopher of the establishment. Among the homilies he dropped on us was the gem that "..although his wife was worried about his being robbed at the sports bar, he was more afraid of being assaulted by college parents who perused their son/daughter's charge cards and saw all the William Penn tavern charges followed up with no shows at the scheduled May graduation dates."
Sitting and engaged in their Buffalo wings tear-down at a table next to us was a younger couple in full Penguin regalia. A large white box was parked by their sides. A new iMac. After a few sips of my Guiness, I inquired of my barmate as I nodded toward the box, if that was their first Mac.
"No, no we have rooms of them at home." (Rooms? I had not realized that "rooms" was the acceptable grouping word that one should associate with Mac's)
"Did you get a chance to check out the iPad?", I posed, throwing chum out.
"Oh, yeah!", he bit, "Not too impressed..well, impressed, but not enough to buy it yet. I'll wait for the 3rd or 4th version before I plunk down the payola."
Detecting a hard hook, I let out with "And the reader? Did you like the e-reader?"
"Oh, yeah. It was great although the choices are real limited, from what they told me."
" eyestrain?", I strained.
He gave me the once over, trying to figure out why I was giving him the first-degree while he was simply attempting to enjoy himself with wings and beer. "No, no eye strain."
"White wasn't blinding you at all?"
Shrugging, he replied, "Well (the kind of "well" that has the phrase "You *&(&(^ idiot attached to it"), there is that brightness control on the iPad......"
I thanked him and let him return to his conversation with his lunch-mates, a conversation I'm sure I was now a part of as a nod of his head and amused stares from his friends confirmed as such.
(I'm here to help!)

We finished up the grub and brew and descended the stairs to the street below, my curiosity and guilt brewing in a malodorous stew.
Upon crossing the street from the William Penn we entered the Apple emporium filled with a....generous feeling. It was an early Sunday afternoon, the store was not too busy so there was no line to queue up to before getting my sweaty paws on the iPad.    I touched the screen for the books therein.  An empty light wood bookshelf came up and books appeared, covers out, like temptresses offering their wares.  I touched Chuck Klosterman's "Eating the Dinosaur".  Two pages came up.  Bright white.  Searing bright white already burning my corneas!  I mumbled something and a Genius came by, noticed my deep squint and then ran her finger by a muted bar at the top of the iPad's screen and....the pages were all readable and painless.  Why I got the remark from the Delaware Genius that I should "consider RayBan's" when I inquired as to the brightness of the screen was now a mystery.  Reading was a pleasure, as much as if not moreso than a Kindle II (ARGGHHH!).
I next picked "Winnie the Pooh" and the book opened in full color, a notion we Kindlites can only dream of.

Now, let's be clear.   The iPad still does weigh considerably more than the Kindle (24 oz v. 10.2oz) and the larger size makes it a lugging around sort of thing rather than a carrying sort of thing;  I'd have to work on my 'toids or abs or whatever one needs to work on to carry that load.
And...(throwing more kindling on the quibble)...the low end entry price of $499 (and that's w/o the monthly data charge) is steep compared to Kindle II's $259.  (Yes, yes, the iPad does a LOT more than the Kindle and so the price shoudl be higher)
So... while I admit my previous harangue on the brightness was incorrect, I'm still happy residing in Kindleland.
But, I do admit looking over the fence at iPadia with a touch of envy.  I'm hoping that some mix/agreemnt can be reached down the road where all of the books that currently reside on my Kindle can possibly be switched over to an iPad.  Otherwise, I think I'll be Kindleland for quite some time; too much book baggage to leave behind.

N.B.: A VERY interesting New Yorker article by Ken Auletta regarding the Jobs/Bezos iPad/Kindle Battle of the Books showdown is here.  (4/26/10 issue)  Book publishers took a deep breath of relief with Mr. Jobs appearance into the Books arena as it seemed Mr. Bezos' (alleged) plan was to eliminate publishers (not sure how he was goign to incorporate editors w/o including publishers) and go straight to authors.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Ah! O'Foolinaroundagin, Sorry to Have...

...bumped into you again", I offered as we once again ran into each other in our highly cubicled office.
Luckily, neither of us were porataging cups of Joe back to our respective workplaces or apologies would have been replaced with finely-etched Croatian curse-verse as we dabbed hot coffee from out shirt and pants.

Not that that had not happened at some previous encounter with my workmates.   Like the cornfields outside our office, one can tilt one's head upwards and see the distant surrounding walls of our corporate existence.  But, hold one's head level, and all one sees is the color palates of Grey Executive or Brown Ennui of the 6 foot cubicles.  Deceivingly open space.   For the cluster of us who are on the left side of the Bell distribution and thus below the 6 ft height, accidents of the body-crashing variety do happen.   Our shoes shush on the wall-to-wall, emitting low humming sounds which aren't loud enough to warn others of our onrushing presence.

I thought there had to be a solution to this problem aside from bringing in the chainsaw and cutting the cubicle walls down by a good foot or two.  Watching "Ran" the other night, the solution stampeded over me like the Japanese cavalries and foot-soldiers in the movie.
Simply attach a flag to one's back.  Different colors for different departments; why even different shades for people in each department.  Tasteful personalization would be allowed as well; NASCAR fans, Iggles fans, Philly fans, all could have small insignias sewed into their personal flag.  As we left our offices and our cubicles, a slipstream of air would follow our movements and a simple level-headed peak would allow us and our office-mates to detect each other over the precipices of our cubicles.
Bosses would love this flag thing.  They'd simply peak out of their offices, see a collection of flags in one corner, and be able to leap into action!  No more employees hiding behind the walls of the cubicles, like maze rats seeking out their cheese.
Employees would appreciate the warning that their bosses would telegraph to them as they marched, flag flying, from their office out to the Sargasso cubicles.

And I?  Well, my laundry bill would be substantially reduced from the dropoff of coffee-mug collisions.


Pittsburgh. Another reason to Love This City.

A poll in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette shows that 77% of the  almost 10,000 folks responding were not very happy with Mr. Roethlisberger's behaviour.  Big Ben's character is being weighed heavily.  Here's a guy who helped them to 2 Super Bowl victories and yet these Steeler fans wnat him to be traded (21%), suspended without pay (46%), or suspended with pay (4%).

Can't say New York or Philly fans would feel that negatively about their respective city's sports heros.  Hats off to the backbone of the Steelers' fans!

And, Ben, take up with an Amish community!  You need a serious moral compass.

The Post-Gazette's Ron Cook seems to be echoing the fans' displeasure with their star QB.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Devastatingly Beautiful

Details of story to be provided later.  YGF promises.....

(Another view.....haunting...and waiting for the story...)

Update, 4/14/2010:  As he'd promised, a story behind the pictures from Mr. Yukon Goes Fishing.


Crosby, Stills & Nash Will NOT... performing any time soon at Duke's Cameron Stadium.  Well, at least according to this article, if they try performing "Love the One You're With" they may be charged with inciting prosecutable sexual relations.   Talk about taking things to ridiculous (and legally involving) conclusions, Duke's administration may take the cake.  Funny..I hadn't heard that Liberty University was considering taking Duke over as a satellite campus...


Monday, April 12, 2010

Fraser stars in Flyers 2-1 Shootout Victory over NY Rangers

In a must win game to extend their seasons, the Flyers and the Rangers played a tense action-packed, low-scoring, no stupid penalties (an unbelievable action of self-control by some of the hot-headed Flyers..whose names shall go unmentioned) game where the loser goes out to the links and the winner gets to play, in the case of the Flyers, the NJ Devils.  A background story to this drama was a certain Mr. Kerry Fraser, who was refereeing his last NHL game.  This game marked his 1,901st game, the most ever by an NHL referee.  The guy's 57 years old and he was still skating strongly out there for 60 minutes plus.  With his signature coiffure, almost as fastidiuos and famous as Jimmy Johnson's, Mr. Fraser was alwasys the epitome of calm amidst the storm of sharpened blades, hot tempers, and jousting sticks that makes hockey, IMHO, still the most entertaining and exciting of any professional sports (that and the fact that you never hear a hockey player whine).

The psort will certainly miss Mr. Fraser's judgement and his lve for the game.  At 57 and fit as any human being could be at that age, I hope he decides to sit down and write a health maintenace book.  Skating at that age, at that level, and at that long of a stretch of time is absolutely unbelievable!  What's his story on this? Clean living or massive application of hair gel?

A down-in-the-mouth Toronto Maple Leafs (can you buy him a grammer book, please?) fan (is there any other type?) offers a list of Fraser-isms.    Nothing like misery to make the mind sharp and the pen, sharper still. So, here now Sean McIndoe's list.

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Quickie Recommendations Based on ACTUAL Reading

For any visitor to this site who has read any of my postings regarding a trip a few years back to the Land Of Croats (written tidbits are listed on the right sidebar) AND who thought I was excessively spooning out exaggeration as I typed (especially with this story) I strongly advise you to read David Samuels' "The Pink Panthers" in this week's (April 12,2010) New Yorker.   Perhaps, I should have kept on spooning.   The wonder of the article is that Mr. Samuels is alive to write the tale.  It is best read to oneself employing a heavy Slavic accent; I will be requesting my Ever Loving Wife to read it to me with her practiced style.  Although I'm the one who was actually born in the Old Coutnry, it is she who has the accent down.  Pear-fekt!

Kindling Peter Hessler's "Country Driving" and "Imperial Life in the Emerald City

" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.   Both non-fiction books are thrilling, hilarious, and (epecially Mr. Chandrasekaran's book) downright frightening.   Excellently written, I've breezed through, put the Kindle in reverse, and driven through again.

Elif Batuman's "The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them" has been moved from the nightstand, to the coffee table, and on into my car.  It is with me most of the time.   The collection of interconnected stories are evidence that Comparative Literature Grad students can be humorous, adventurous, uninhibited, and perspicacious.  Just wish Ms. Batuman had written more, well actually anything!, about  growing up in New Jersey, a foreign land onto itself and one requiring closer Graduate Work study.  She is a sly writer who credits the reader with bringing in their own book-reading history to her stories.   She must be an absolute hoot to travel with; if her grad work doesn't pan out, she should open up a pan-Slavic travle agency.  She already had extensive experience at writing for travel guide companies.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

The iPad & The Curmudgeon: A Woe-Filled Tale

Well, my intention was to go down on "The Sky Opens Up and the Sun God Jobs Smiles Down Upon Mere Mortals" Saturday, but house chores prevented me from attending that celestial visit event.
So, I mosied in to the Apple store after work on Monday to see what the Big Honking Toot (Still getting a kick out of that expression, Kerry) was about the iPad.

The store was full, but not uncomfortably packed. As usual, there were quite a lot of the Apple worker bees happily buzzing around. You've got to love their enthusiasm and their helpfulness; any company with a customer service department must seeth with envy when they come into contact with these folks.  Two tables were set up displaying the tablets, I mean iPad. In one case two iPads were set side by side, resembling...well you get the idea.

There were short lines behind each iPad with the folks, behind each lead person in line, straining their necks and their Achilles Heels so as to catch a glimpse of the action on the iPad they were queued up for.  In five minutes, I had my sweaty hands on one.

Sleek, solid, and...heavy.  24 oz. v 10.2 oz. for the Kindle.  As expected, absolutely gorgeous picture/video quality.  Unexpected, the NY Times apps consistently showed a very fuzzy image.  One of the Apple Bees came by, told me the app still had its bugs, flicked quickly to the site and brought up a beautifully clear picture.  Nice!!!! long as you were happy to shell out $15.95/month for the data package.
Flicked to a photo gallery loaded on the iPad.  Again, no complaints about the picture quality.  When I turned the iPad from a portrait to a landscape handhold, however, the picture did not turn.   The Apple Bee hmmmed, but couldn't fix the issue.
Brought up one of the books downloaded.  Easy to turn pages, as expected from experiencing the same with the iPhone application.  After readng about 3-5 minutes, however, my eyes were killing me.  The screen was too bright, the words seared my eyeballs.  Again, a Bee buzzed by and said that the brightness was due to the high value on color.  O.K....but my eyes were tired fairly qucikly from reading.  He suggested, without a hint of a grin, Ray-Bans.

Two guys, late into their teens, were parked on either side of me, happily ensconced in iPad land.  Both were playing video games, with much enthusiasm.  I asked their opinion of the newest and greatest.  Both were sporting iPhones and one of the kids had an iPod as well.
"LOVE IT!!!!,   I'll be here every day doing this."
When asked if they'd shell out the $500 (or more) current price for the toy/necessity, both disintigrated into hang-dog expressions and moaned that their birthday/Christmas/graduation wasn't for a while cuz they certainly didn't have the bucks to part with at this time.
"But, hey, they let you play all you want here, so we'll be back tomorrow."

So, for yours truly, who was already slipping off one side of the fence on the iPad, my landing on the "No Sale" side of said fence was fairly solid.  I thought the visual aspect of the e-reader portion of the iPad would blow the Kindle out of the water.  Not even close.  Throw in the low number of books currently available for the iPad, that weight (I'm no Charles Atlas so it was tiring holding the iPad, without some support, after 10 minutes.  I couldn't imagine holding it like a paperback or Kindle for 30-60 minutes), and the price?  Well, it would be great to rest it against a book and watch videos.  But I can do that on a desktop or tv at home, right?

This excellent review from one of the leading Geek Universities in the country does the trick for me.  I'm holding onto my Kindle with a firm (and unstrained) hand.  I'll sit out this Apple revolution.

Addendum 4/19/2010:  Another visit to iPadia.

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