Monday, October 26, 2009

An Open Letter to the Lost Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Dear Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California Hassenpfeffer Incorporated:

You suck.

Really. Truly. You suck. It's not "Yankees Suck", it's "Angels Suck". There are black holes out there, with high-powered vacuum cleaners orbiting them, who have less sucking power than you do, you incompetent West Coast pretenders to baseball greatness.

Scoscia? You suck! Vlad the Impaler? Hah. Try Vlad the Sucker. Bobby Abreu? No, it's Bobby Suckyou. Yeah, those aren't very good insults...but then again, the Angels aren't a very good team.

You could have really done something amazing. You could have come close to emulating the 2004 Red Sox. But no. No, you decided it was better to emulate the 1920 Keystone Kops. Was that Game Six of the ALCS, or an especially annoying episode of America's (Allegedly) Funniest Home Videos?

"But we swept your Red Sox!", I hear you say. "Big deal!", I say. Everyone knows the Red Sox were having issues. While on paper Boston had a team capable of really accomplishing something amazing, there somehow wasn't the right balance, the right mix...that, and we really need a masher at the heart of the lineup, to re-instill that same fear of God in opposing pitchers that Ortiz/Manny did. In fact, considering the health issues, the slumps, the whatevers, I consider the Sox as having a successful season, getting as far as they did and winning, what, 95 games? Wish it could've gone on longer, but hey...

Anyways, I digress. You, Angels, suck. Your pathetic display against New York only shows just how truly ineffective a team you really are, and how much you really didn't deserve to be in the playoffs.

Take your thunder sticks and your rally monkey and stick them where the sun doesn't shine. Go home. You honestly suck.

And should, by some massive cosmic flatulence, you manage to make it to the post-season again in 2010, rest assured that the Red Sox, their issues certainly having been resolved during the off-season, will restore the true way of things, which is having the Red Sox tapdance on your incompetent red-capped skulls as they effortlessly glide their way to the 2010 ALCS.

Hey, maybe you can convince Disney to make Angels in the Outfield 2...where a deranged Al the angel (with Christopher Lloyd reprising the role), tries to make the Angels into something that's slightly better than whale barf, and, failing, becomes a demon who works for Satan (played by Scott Boras in his screen debut). And the surprise ending (or would it be that much of a surprise?) it turns out that the Gates of Hell are located right under the new Yankee Stadium.

Speaking of things from Hell, ok, yeah, the Yankees won the ALCS, and will go to the World Series. Normally I don't cheer on anything from Philadelphia unless it's a Best Cheesesteak competition, but in this case, yeah, GO PHILLIES!

I think one of the most annoying thing about the Yankees is how easily, how quickly, the pundits are willing to fall all over themselves praising that Team From Hell, when the players are doing things that, oh, I don't know, they are EXPECTED to do. Hey look! A-Rod's decided to stop obsessing about himself and is actually effective in the post-season! Well, Hell, let's brand him the new Mr. October! After just one partial post-season of doing well! Sure! Why not? Jeter? Yeah, let's nominate Jeter as AL MVP! He deserves it!

Excuse me?

Now, don't get me wrong. I actually like Derek Jeter. But he's not the AL MVP (Mr. Mauer gets that nod). But again, you have the sports media which, in varying degrees, seems almost obsessively eager to decorate the Yankees with all sorts of accolades at the drop of a hat. I really think this is part of the reason for the average baseball fan's deep-rooted hatred of the Yankees....a sort of contrary knee-jerk reaction to the media lovefest overkill directed at the pinstripers.

But keep this in mind...considering the huge contracts they gave out in order to stock their lineup with A-list baseball superstars, and the billion-plus they sank into Toilet 2, nothing short of a World Series win will be considered a successful outcome. OK, so they made it to the dance. But if Philly, which has its own reasons to want to win it all (like being the first NL team to win back to back Series since the Big Red Machine in the 70's), manages to sink the Yanks, then it'll be all for nothing. AL Division East champs? Nope. Not good enough. ALCE champs? Still not good enough. No ring, no validation for their 2009 season.

Philly...You need to win this thing. Heed the lessons of the incompetent Angels of Anaheim. Field the ball. Hit the ball. Do good things. Take down the Yanks in four.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Life Story Told With T-Shirts

It must be said, first off, that men are genetically incapable of throwing away T-shirts. What this means is that, over time, men who have a tendency of wearing T-shirts accumulate quite a collection. Such is the case with me.

I store my T-shirts in the lower drawer of our bedroom dresser, and it was getting to the point where the wood itself was probably ready to burst. That's when I decided that it was time to go through the lot and remove the ones that either should be thrown out, or put into storage for some unknown point in the future.

I felt like an archaeologist of garments, working my way through the contents of the large drawer, pulling out T-shirts, identifying their origin, and designating their fate. Naturally, I had to unroll each one and see what it was all about. By doing so, I ended up with a trip down Memory Lane, recalling the circumstances behind each shirt.

My oldest T-shirt is an Origins '78 T-shirt (held at the Ann Arbor campus of U of Michigan). For those not in the know, Origins is to wargames/boardgames what GenCon is to D&D. Before I got into D&D, my big passion was boardgames, particularly historical simulations.

Someday, if I ever get into a rules argument with some munchkin at a gaming con, I eagerly look forward to saying something like "Listen, punk, I have gaming t-shirts that are older than you!"

The next oldest was a t-shirt from a pub in Bermuda, purchased on my honeymoon during my first marriage. That relic came from 1982.

From somewhere around that time period there was also a t-shirt made by a talented old friend of mine named Jeff. We've lost touch, but he used to be one of our gamers. He created this stylized dog named "Sparky", and eventually put the design on a t-shirt, and I got one. Jeff eventually left for the West Coast to become a screenwriter, and ended up writing episodes of X-Files and Angel.

It's amazing, the stuff one recalls by simply going through a bunch of old t-shirts.

My oldest Red Sox t-shirt comes from 1987. Snoopy is on it. I'm not sure why. (Depressing realization sidebar: Charles Schultz is no longer with us, and Snoopy sells friggin' life insurance). There's also a Celtics T-shirt from the Bird/Parrish/McHale era. My sports-related t-shirts have been replenished over the last decase, with a 2004 World Series champs shirt, a 2007 one, and t-shirts with Matsuzaka and Okajima numbers. I even have a Seibu Lions (Dice-K's old team in Japan) t-shirt.

There's some topical t-shirts, like my "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Bill and Opus" T-shirt, or my Ren & Stimpy t-shirts, including one with Mr.Horse ("Nossir, I don't like it!"). Definite relics of the 80's.

It should come as no surprise that many of my T-shirts are gaming related. There's a whole slew of them from various ConnCons and GenCons, even one or two from the RPGA. They range from the late 80's to mid 90's.

As big of a fan of REM as I am, you'd think I'd have REM t-shirts in abundance. Sadly, this is not the case. Ironically, I wore those particular t-shirts so much that they did indeed overcome even the ingrained male tendency not to throw out old t-shirts, and are now gone forever. I do have one REM shirt, a tour shirt from the late 90's, but even that one is a replacement, secured by Carol. The original was worn to a frazzle.

Superheroes are well represented...there's a Green Lantern t-shirt, a Superman one (except that it's black), and a Flash t-shirt.

I have some slogan t-shirts, but not many. My oldest one is from the late 80's, and it says simply "Whatever". One of my favorite slogan t-shirts is missing ("I may grow old, but I'll never grow up").

One t-shirt that I pulled out of the pile made me chuckle. It was a Wild Wild Web t-shirt, a leftover from my days of working at a in the very late 90's. That particular company rolled over and died in 1999 during the start of the Great Dot.Com Collapse. I was hired to work at a second Dot.Com, started by a handful of survivors of the previous one. I worked there for four months, then got a huge pay raise, then worked there another three months, then the layoffs started, and I was one of the first to go.

Ah, good times!

Nowadays, I find I have a lot of horror-based t-shirts, such as a promotional t-shirt from FearNet, a bunch from HorrorFind, Barrett's Haunted Mansion, haunt gatherings, Salem Mass, etc.

There's also the work-related T-shirts, from various software companies, or blood-drive shirts.

But yeah...t-shirt introspection. A chronicle of where I've been, and where I am now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Degeneration of the Common Greeting

Once upon a time, when cars ran on leaded gas and you didn't have to dial an area code in order to call someone a few towns over, people greeted each other with a completely coherent phrase. Usually this was a "good morning", or a "good day", or, if later on, a "good evening". Men, who wore hats during this era (sorry, Safety Dance fans), would tip their hats. Granted, not every person did this every time, but it was pretty much the societal norm.

As time went on, the greetings changed and evolved (devolved?) as society became a little looser, a bit more casual. People started incorporating the phrase "How are you!" as their standard greeting (as well as its sloppier version, "Heyhowareya!").

Next came "Howzitgoin?", a corrupted form of "How's it going?", which was an even more casual form of "How are you"? Now, the thing is, you'd think that people who are greeting you this way are doing so out of a genuine desire to know how you are. This is false. This is just a greeting. It is in no way meant to be construed as the beginning of a conversation about how you are doing, as evidenced by the following exchange:

Co-Worker #1: Hey, how's it going?
Co-Worker #2: Oh man, not so well. I didn't sleep very well last night because I've been so worried about things. My son's become a Scientologist and my daughter's run off to Las Vegas to become a showgirl, and for the life of me I don't know which is worse. Then my wife has post nasal drip, which sounds like a disgusting cereal, you know, "Buy Post Nasal Drip, part of this balanced breakfast", but of course, there is no cereal like that. And my car's making a funny noise, which means expensive repair bills. I also think I'm suffering from ED, but I don't want to take Cialis, because I really hate the idea of having to sit in a tub in the middle of a large field and, hey! COME BACK HERE!!!

No. "How's it going?" Is not a question. It's a greeting. At least it was, until it was supplanted by "Hey!"

That's right: "Hey!" In our fast-paced world, who has time to speak in full phrases, let alone sentences. You see a co-worker approaching, you smile, give a small wave and go "Hey!". And they go "Hey!" back (unless of course they're a total douche or bitch, depending on the gender at hand, in which case, to Hell with them).

So, it's now perfectly acceptable to greet people with a "Hey!". I personally have been experimenting with an even more truncated greeting. Many times, at work, when there's an oncoming fellow employee walking down the hall, I do the following, taking my cue from an aggregate of experiences from these fine folk.

A brief nod of the head. This establishes recognition.
A small upturn of one corner of my mouth, a sort of half-smile. This establishes my pleasure at seeing this person. A full smile is not needed; let's not get too emotional here.
Occasionally, I'll throw in a raised eyebrow, which further establishes my friendliness towards the target.
A grunt. Usually I mutter "vert", or "nerp", or "gurf". This fulfills the vocal requirement, and most people simply assume I'm saying "Hi", or "Hey", or something like that. After all, by the time you utter the word of greeting, they're most likely already 12 Smoots past you, but the mind automatically fills in the proper greeting, based on the simple cue of grunting.

I admit, sometimes I will give a big old "hello" to someone I see, especially if my mood is good and the person appears to be in a friendly, approachable mood.

Then there's the lounge lizard/gameshow host/Manny Ramirez greeting of pointing at someone with both index fingers, a big grin on your face, and clearly a jazzed expression of "Heeeeyyyy, howzitgoin?", without actually uttering those words. This can be tricky to pull off. Personally, it's occurred to me that I do it in only two instances: if I run into someone I really like, or if I run into someone I really can't stand. The former requires no explanation. The latter? I think it's because I know that if I give out an over-the-top greeting like that, it will override my more knee-jerk urge to say something like "Shut up, run out into traffic and DIE!".

So there you have it. The common American greeting, from "Good day" to "gurf".

HANDY WORKPLACE TIP OF THE DAY: This is a valuable piece of advice if you wear some form of employee ID on your belt. If you go into a bathroom stall to do your business and you're wearing such a tag, make sure to turn it over so that no one can ascertain your identity. That way, if you're in there making hideous bowel noises that are reminscent of the cries of a wounded dirigible defending its young, or creating a stench so bad that it causes everyone in the bathroom to undergo a past life regression to the time they suffered a mustard gas attack during World War One, no one will know who you are, and you can unleash the Fifth Horseman in complete anonymity.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's The End of the Sox 2009 Season As We Know It (And I Feel Pissed)

I write this with the full knowledge that there are countless fans of other baseball teams that would kill just to have their team make it to the post-season once, let alone six times out of the past seven years. I do realize that we in Boston are especially blessed with an outstanding, talented team that's run by an excellent manager, and owned and operated by a smart group of men who are dedicated to putting the best team on the field that they can.

That being said...


The 2009 ALDS showdown between our beloved Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California Jinglehiemer-Schmidt has ended not with a bang but a whimper, as the Halos finally stepped out from under the oppressive post-season dominant thumb of the Olde Town Team, and swept us in very convincing fashion.

Face it...the Angels earned that. They deserved it. Hats off to them.

But the Red Sox? Oh, where oh where to begin...

Submitted for your Jonathan Papelbon. He of the "no earned run in 20+ innings of playoff ball". That's the one. The one who wants to angle for a bigger paycheck when negotiating time comes round. Yeah, let us know how THAT works out for you, Paps!

Now, I'm not tossing out all the greatness of Paps in past games, but like a lot of other things in life, baseball's all about "Yeah that was nice what you did in the past, but what have you done for me lately?". And lately, Paps, you fucked up BIG time...blowing a 2-run lead and pretty much losing this game, this series, and all our playoff hopes, in one steaming turd of a half-inning.

Yeah good luck with that trying to hold out for a bigger payday. Enjoy NASCAR, you hillbilly. Buy yourself a few Hot Pockets while you're at it.

But you know what? This game wouldn't have been so do-or-die if OUR FUCKING OFFENSE SHOWED UP IN GAMES 1 AND 2!!!!! In Games 1 and 2, our offense managed ONE RUN. ONE. This group of talented hitters scored ONE. DAMNED. RUN.

You know what? We didn't deserve to advance. Really. We didn't. Hideous is as good a word as any for how they played. "Shit" is another good word.

So, to the Angels, I say "Well played. Hats off. You did good. Now please, please, please, kick the Yankees' asses in the ALCS."

And speaking of the Yankees...

In a development that surprised no one, including people who don't follow baseball, the Yankees simply glared at the Minnesota Twins in a menacing fashion and the Twins pretty much just crapped their pants and died, resulting in a sweep. Beating the Twins was no accomplishment that either the Yankees or their fans should take even the slightest iota of pride in. The Twins had no business winning the AL Central in the first place. In fact, the Twins didn't so much win the AL Central as the Tigers lost it.

This is why the Angels must win. The Angels must win so that we Sox fans don't find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of rooting for Manny to beat the Yankees (although wouldn't it be sweet if the Dodgers played the Yankees, and JOE TORRE wound up beating his old team? The answer is, "Why yes...yes it would"). Personally, I think it would be hilarious if the World Series ended up being an all-West Coast series. They could call it the Left Coast Series. Or the Laid-back, Mellow Series. Or the La-La Series. Or the Nobody (including most Californians) Gives a Rats-Ass Fuck Series. Fox will drop a big load in their collective pants if they have to air a Series that doesn't include either a) the Sox, b) the Yankees, or c) the defending champion Phillies.

Just so long as the Yankees don't win it all. Seriously, the last thing we need is to have the new Toilet christened with a World Series win. No one will ever hear the end of it, especially from those sycophantic, pinstripe-fellating hacks on Fox and ESPN. I don't want to see that billion-dollar boondoggle of a stadium EVER have a World Series banner from the 21st century. I want to see George Steinbrenner eventually slip off quietly into eternity without seeing another Yankee World Series win. I want to see his two sons, the Bozo Brothers, also eventually slip off this mortal coil at their appointed time, without seeing a World Series win.

A-Rod? Nope. No ring for you. Mr Leah Texiera? Nope. No ring for you either. Joba the Hutt? You should be so lucky, you brain-dead thug.

OK, let's face it....if you're reading this, you're reading the words of one seriously hacked-off Sox fan. However, I'm a Sox fan who maintains enough of a nodding acquaintance with Mister Reality to know that the Sox weren't going to win it all this year. No, the frustration, the sheer pissed-offness, is there because of the way the Sox lost. It just feels that they didn't put up that much of a fight.

I have to say, kudos to whoever it was, a columnist on, or a sportscaster, or some blogger, or a raving wino in the subway, who went on record as saying that the Sox batters couldn't hit quality pitchers. Whoever it was that said that, they were right.

There you have it. Rant over. Sure, I still believe the Red Sox totally rock, and I will eagerly be looking forward to next year (something tells me there'll be some personnel changes in the lineup). Considering the tumultuous year they had, they did pretty well, all cons thingsidered.

Go Angels