Friday, June 25, 2004

Freeform on a Friday By AH.

The man himself Sir Rantalot asked me to post something for his website. Lately I haven‚t had a strong focus to act like a microscope/telescope/magnifying glass bringing verbal order to the more or less random events of our lives. Mostly been just been kicking stuff around.

Enjoying being a parent. It helps having, objectively speaking, the cutest kid in the Milky Way. It's hard to imagine how much you will enjoy your kids until you have some of your own; and damn near impossible to convey in a meaningful way the beauty and delight of their Tabula Rasa perception of the world, their ever shifting behavior patterns, the satisfaction of comforting them when they are sad and joy in watching them take hours of delight in playing with something as simple as a cardboard box. So I won‚t try.

Note to Broadway: "The Princess Bride" is dying for a musical makeover. Just a little FYI. Oh, quick rave: „Avenue Q‰ is awesome. Log off, go run to your local music store and buy it, log back on, and continue reading.

Is it just me, or is our generation (I'm 29 FYI) the biggest bunch of flakes ever? Tossing it out there. I‚m sure are some standards to apply to quantify this relative lack of consideration/inability to make plans/lack of calling to cancel/etc. to other generations. Just answer me this: have you tried throwing together 8 20-something people for a dinner/movie/whatever? Wow.

At the risk of making myself sound pretentious, has anyone checked out "My Dinner with Andre?" There is a part in there where Andre is talking about why everyone talks about leaving New York, but no one ever does (which isn't true. I left NY. But then I didn't grow up there). He says it is because New York is the model for the new prison, where everyone is both a prisoner and a guard, and this schizophrenia has people walking around in a confused haze.

This may sound abstract, but let's put it in another context. Say you are an employee and shareholder of a company. The company wants to freeze wages and cut staff, leaving those left over double the workload. This will make the share price rise. Are you for it or against? Is it a moral judgment, or are your leanings in proportion to how much share you have and if you are the one getting the ax? (Quick note to job seekers: get a job with a private company if at all possible).

Someone once asked me what I think the biggest problem our country faces right now. I think it is the continued stratification of our society and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. It’s already epidemic and has already created an informal class system, which runs against the grain of what this country is about.

Not saying we can do anything about it. It just kinda sucks, that’s all.

I think the attitude of the ruling class was best summed up in the Mel Brooks movie "A History of the World Part One" when one Senator begs: "But what about the poor?" and the entire assembly in unison yells back "Fuck the poor!" Truth is beauty and beauty truth.

Living in the bay area and not remotely being in the neighborhood of even imagining I could buy a house kinda brings this divide into focus for me. The divide between homeowners and renters is another focal point of this class thing. The fact that I won‚t own till I move or win the lottery is just another concrete reminder that our generation will be the first American one to be materially poorer than the one that preceded it.

My friend once said that he wasn't rich like my parents. I was aghast because my parents aren't rich. My dad teaches at a community college and, without disclosing too much, is definitely within the five-figure range. I worked at restaurants until I graduated college to augment the bare minimum I was given to live. I guess my friend thought my folks had dough because of where they lived.

My parents were lucky enough to buy a 4 bedroom/2 bath house in North Berkeley a few blocks from campus for around $25,000. Now it's true that this investment has returned probably 50-fold (damn Bay Area real estate is a good investment). But it means nothing until they actually sell it. In the 6th grade I had three pairs of identical blue jeans, of which one I duct taped together because the button came off. People at Longfellow elementary thought I was the poorest kid in the class.

My point is this: my definition of wealth is not numerically oriented but is held up to this standard: are you working for your money or is your money working for you? To this my parents and myself definitely fall into the former.

Quick aside: what is with this week of mourning‚ for Reagan? Perhaps the public has a shorter-term memory than even Reagan had himself. I guess growing up in the Bay Area gave me a somewhat skewed and not so mainstream perception. Let me put it this way: I was SHOCKED that Reagan beat Mondale (I was 9 at the time). I mean, the promise of higher taxes, a choice of a woman as a running mate-what‚s not to like? I’m glad Mondale’s home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia agreed with me. Every other state was enjoying their “Morning in America.” And now they seem to be enjoying their mourning in America.

Since the only other president to die in my lifetime was Nixon, a disgraced president whose death was more or less swept under the rug, I had no real basis of comparison for this event. I was like “What the hell? An entire week of mourning?”

Am I the only one who recalls a line from Evita "When they are bringing your curtain down-demand to be buried like Eva Peron"?

In fact the whole song is strangely poignant:
O what a circus
O what a show

America has gone to town, over the death of an actor named Ronald Reagan.

We've all gone crazy
Mourning all day and mourning all night
Falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right

Oh what an exit, that's how to go
When they're ringing your curtain down
Demand to be buried like Ronald Reagan
It's quite a sunset
And good for the country in a roundabout way
We've made the front page of all the world's papers today

Oops. I just admitted I could paraphrase portions of Evita by heart. I'll just check my heterosexual credentials at the door. At least I got a small assist by the internet.

Though those who work for the federal government got Friday off to mourn, those of us working in the private sector still had to go to work. I mildly resented that, as I wanted to mourn in my own private way. Does a day at the beach and a movie count as mourning?

Anyways, that‚s what I got right now.


Thursday, June 3, 2004

Let's Catch Up

Greetings Rant fans. I am writing this from high over Iceland on my way to London for the Mark Bingham Cup. It's been a while since my last post, the rigors of commencement, obligations to family, and transition to a new job and a new home have kept me from the keyboard. Today I'd like to hit on a few things that have been floating around my newly shorn dome since my last dispatch. This won't be posted for another week after it's written but I'll be back in form after things calm down a bit.

Same Sex Marriage:

I know this has been done to death over the past few weeks but I am constantly amazed by the comments I hear and read from the far right. I can't fathom how people can feel that extending more rights and freedoms to people takes anything away from themselves. If you are not gay I really don't see how this issue effects you at all.

I know, I know, "the sanctity of marriage, " "Adam and eve, not Adam and Steve," etc. Lets look at some of these arguments. First, the "sanctity of marriage" thing. Guess what? It doesn't exist, ask my wife's boyfriend. There is no sanctity of marriage in the US. Nearly everyone in my family is now, or has been divorced. Why not give marriage to same sex couples? Maybe they can teach the rest us something we can't seem to figure out.

I can't believe a letter I read in the DC Express recently. They actually printed a letter pushing the "Adam and Steve" platform. Basically the letter suggests that if we allow same sex marriage the human race will die off because people will stop procreating. The idiocy of this argument astounds me. Hello! The people getting same sex unions (with acknowledgement to the Melissa Ethridges of the world) were never likely not going to procreate anyway. Also, no one has been waiting for same sex marriage so that they could finally indulge their homosexual desires. Just like hanging out with gay people or having gay parents will not "turn you gay" sanctioned ay marriage will not put and end to us breeders. Besides, same sex couples often give good, loving homes to the children discarded by irresponsible straight folks. We have no shortage of children, or people for that matter.

Finally, another letter I read recently suggests that the definition of marriage is a huge issue. The author suggests that same sex marriage is not comparable to the civil rights movement because opening lunch counters and integrating schools did not "require us to re write Webster's." According to the author the dictionary defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Here's what my dictionary says:

"mar.riage (n) 1. a legally recognized relationship established by a civil or religious ceremony between two people who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners. 2. a married relationship between two particular people, or an individual's relationship with an individual spouse"

No mention of "man" or "woman," strangely prophetic? Or is it in fact the case that "man' and "woman" are not actually in the definition? And so what if they were? Webster's like all other dictionaries publishes new editions every so often. The dictionary changes because language is not static. Language is a reflection of culture and culture is fluid. Proof? "Party " is now listed as both a noun and a verb. No one got up in arms about that change.

Good job Mailman!

Good job by Karl Malone giving a hard elbow to that guy in game two of the Western Finals. The fact that Derek Fischer got smacked by The Gangsta Choka and then got called for a foul that sent Tha Choka to the line was ridiculous. In fact, all of game two was a farce. Also, what's up with not having all the conference finals games on regular TV? Was "Extreme Bloopers" so great a program that ABC couldn't have carried a playoff game instead? Fer fucks sake!

Baseball Notes

Sexson Done

The Richie Sexson deal is looking better and better for the Brewers (see Sir Rantalot's archive for 12/5/03) now that Sexson is out for the year with a bad shoulder. Meanwhile Lyle Overbay is mashing (.335/6/40), and the other players Milwaukee acquired in the deal have contributed. Right now the Brew Crew is above .500 and just 4 games out of a tough NL Central.

Chavez Out 6 Weeks

At first glance this sucks for the A's, but if take a second look you find that it really does suck for the A's. Once again Sir Rantalot the GM looks prescient in his insistence that the A's sign Mark McLemore (see Sir Rantalot's archive for 12/16/04). Losing an all-star gold glove 3B is never good, but at least the A's have a guy who can step in and at least hold down the fort until Chavey gets back.

The injury also opens up more playing time for my man Marco Scutaro to get more playing time. As you may remember (if not just scroll down and read "2B 2B do?") Scoot was my pick to replace Mark Ellis, but he was unfairly bumped by the versatile switch-hitting McLemore. Now Scoot and his .288/1/11/.321/.701 and good glove get back in the line up.

The other domino is that my original choice for 2B, Esteban German has been recalled from AAA Sacramento. German got the call after the A's quietly dealt Frank Menechino to Toronto.

Finally, it's nice to see Eric Byrnes making a place for himself again. I predict that the A's will let Jermaine Dye walk at the end of the year and install an outfield of Byrnes, Kotsay and Kielty from left to right for 2005.

What's Up With Dem Guys

I recently came across an article that showed the Royce Clayton was hitting 58 points above his career average. With McLemore starting at 3B for Oakland I decided to look and see how the other guys who I said the A's should sign are doing this year. Players are listed by salary in order to show who the A's may have actually been able to bring in, in lieu of say, Eric Karros (550K .137/2/8) or McLemore (.231/0/1).

-Jay Bell (Minor Leagues)
-Fernando Tatis (Minor Leagues)
-Tony Womack [Unkown, but not much]: .287/3/12/.330/.727 (Shoulda had him)
-Royce Clayton [550K]: .304/5/18/.363/.844 (Coulda had him)
-Eric Young [1M] : .310/0/6/.354/.754 (No HR but still more production than EK)
-Pokey Reese [1M] : .253/2/21/.346/.636 (Better than McLemore but more expensive)
-Rich Aurilia [3.15M] : .241/2/19/.305/.640 (Not worth the money)

So there it is. Go back and check it. The guys I really wanted are performing with Reese the disappointment. OK, Rant fans, I promise to take shorter breaks for the foreseeable future, check back soon, and remember you can rant back by signing the guestbook.