Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ain't got no power!

So the computer failed to start up the other morning. Our power got knocked off in a storm, and the computer was dead. My superb trouble-shooting skills led to me believe that the the storm wasn't so much the cause of the problem, but rather coincidentally the power supply had given up the ghost (thankfully not the motherboard). After 20 minutes of on-line snooping off the other computer, I determined that all this idiot needed to do was pull out the old power box and plug in a new one. Which is really all that was needed. A quick trip to Best Buy and problem solved. Sometimes i'm so proud of my mechanical abilities. . .

The bigger issue here wasn't the computer not starting up. . .it was the helplessness one feels when the power is out. It wasn't a particularly big and nasty storm, but the power was off for two hours.

First: at 11pm, you realize how deadly quiet things are in the house. No fan. No refrigerator. And how dark: no glowing LED's of various plug-ins and appliances. No hallway nightlights.

Second: I had no entertainment! No television or radio. No computer--not even the laptop, since the wi-fi needs power to throw out a signal. If I were a true pioneer I'd read by the glow of an oil-lamp (and in the future, who knows if that will be possible when all our books are on Kindle.

Third: We're wimps. How could we survive without electricity? Eventually, even our cell phones need to be plugged in to recharge. We can't cook (at least without cans of sterno), we can't spend money (who has cash anymore? it's all plastic cards, and when you DO need cash, you usually get it from an electrically-powered ATM machine). We couldn't get gasoline at the mini-mart (the days of gravity-fed gas pumps are aroudn 60 years in the past). Take away our water supply, and we'd really be up shit creek. It was bad enough that the DVR wasn't able to record the ending of Mad Men or Breaking Bad this week. . .

E. was awakened by the storm and came downstairs and joined me in the dark, on the couch. I held him and I told him how fortunate he was to live in a time and place where temporary power outages were merely an inconvienence. Be thankful, I said, we don't live in a place where power is a luxury only a few can afford, or that power has been knocked out entirely because of war.

Without electricity, we'd all soon become a bunch of refugees. And pray that that doesn't happen. Can you imagine, millions of whining Americans in relocation camps?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Visit from the Tooth Fairy. . .

E. is a couple of bucks richer today after the tooth fairy paid him a visit last night. He finally lost a front tooth that has been loose for weeks. The new one finally pushed the old one out of the way. He's not normally this goofy looking; Mary's camera just has a really wide angle lens. . .

Michael Moore: Not a Left-Wing Kook
Documentary film-maker Michael Moore is usually depicted by the Right Wing fringe element as a kook, in bed with the Nancy Pelosi/Barrack Obama/Barney Frank troika being blamed for "ruining" our country.

Those so afraid of Moore should spend 26 minutes of their angry lives and watch this interview with Charlie Rose from last week. Moore's latest movie, "Capitalism: A Love Story" is out in theaters, highly critical of the Wall Street community and their too-cozy relationship with the goverment. . .and that would be the government of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

To Moore, the U.S. economy has changed from a self-sustaining one rewarding production, manufacturing, and innovation to one more akin to a pyramid scheme with a very few at the top sucking up all available wealth at the expense of a destroyed middle class. Our country doesn't produce anything anymore, and Moore argues this puts our country at great risk. Rather, the business of America has become a complex financial Ponzi scheme where wealth is created not through hard work, but through obtuse economic mechanisms that exist to squeeze the middle class. . .and that few in Washington really understand to begin with.

The Dow just topped 10,000 for the first time since last fall's economic "collapse." But unemployment figures continue to spike upwards and home foreclosures continue--one every six seconds, says Moore. And since the Democrats took the White House, not a single law has been passed to reregulate or extend oversight into the banking or mortgage industry. Change? Obama has to show me change. There's been no change at all, a year later, and after $200 million as been spent by the banking industry to lobby against any change--money, I'd guess, the Government gave them non-strings-attached to aide "recovery." Oh, and Wall Street bonuses are even high this year than in 2007. The Republicans started this mess under Ronald Reagan; Democrats continued it and accelerated it with Bill Clinton; the Republicans moreso with both George Bushes; and Obama has inherited it but so far, apart from flourishy rhetoric, has done nothing to slow it, let alone stop it.

Right-wing nut jobs: Give Moore a chance. He's not the enemy. It's the bankers and Wall Street tycoons who have the ear of Washington that are the greatest threat to our freedom in this country since the Cold War. THESE are the people you should be afraid of, and you should be turning your hate and anger THESE people, not towards the female leader of congress, the black preisident or the gay senator who are Democratic leaders. It's easy to get caught up in partisanship and name-calling and business as usual--but those raiding this country's coffers are not the patriots they paint themselves to be.


Mad Men: Don Draper's an asshole. . .
What, he really fired Sal last night? Then he goes and sleeps with his kid's school teacher? Not that Betsy is much better. . .

A splash of art. . .
. . worth $15,000,000. Now I know what Manga is all about. I don't think this would go over big in the living room.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vin Scully. Rugby. Not-Dollar-Movies.

The Master at work. . .

MLB network carried the Dodgers-Rockies game Friday night. The winner would claim the National League West title; the loser, the Wild Card slot in the National League playoffs starting next week. The Dodgers won, 5-0, but the outcome really didn't matter to me, simply because I tuned in for Vin.

Vin Scully.

He's been the Dodgers' play-by-play announcer now for 60 years. SIXTY! Think about that. It's the longest tenure for a single professional sports team in history, and, apart from Tommy Lasorda, has been with the Dodgers organization longer than any other person. How long has he been there? His tenure long pre-dates the Dodger move to California--it was Vinnie, in fact, who was at the microphone when the Dodgers won their only World Series championship in Brooklyn, in 1955.

To hear him on network television anymore is a rare treat. Scully calls only home games and Dodger road games west of the rocky mountains anymore, and since I don't have the MLB package or satellite radio, I hardly get the chance to listen to his broadcast artistry. He's a rarity among baseball announcers: working solo, without a color man. With Scully at the mike, who needs it?

It's Scully's voice that has been part of so many memorable baseball moments. Don Larsen's 1956 perfect game in the World Series. . .Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game. . .Hank Aaron's 715th home run in 1974. . .Bill Bucker's error at first base in 1986. . .Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run in 1988.

And now Vin stands alone as the last of his generation. The other Greats--Jack Buck, Ernie Harwell, Jack Brickhouse--are all gone. The 81-year-old Vinnie has said that 2010 will be his last season. If you have the chance to just sit back and listen to the Master at Work, please do so.

He's not a screamer, nor a puker, nor a homer. Throughout his career, Vinnie has realized that often, less is more. I'm hard-pressed to think of a tradmark phrase he's known for. . .if anything it is the slience that he allows to infuse his broadcasts, the rare ability for the man hired to speak to the masses to just be quiet and let the ambience of the moment say it all. He isn't just an announcer--he is an artist, a man who can paint pictures with words. His words have the pacing and deliberateness of a great mystery writer. Listen to him call the ninth inning of the Koufax perfect game, and tell me chills don't run up your spine!

". . .there's 29,000 people in the ballpark, and a million butterflies. . ."

Tyler Kepner, of the New York Times, wrote: "Scully could read an instruction manual and
make it interesting." Indeed. Here's a great profile of Vin from Salon.com.

Melbourne Wins!
So, watched the National Rugby League Grand Final yesterday on Spike. Melbourne Storm beat Paramatta Eels 23-16. It was clear that Paramatta was in over its head from the start, and rather amazing, actually, that they only lost by 7 point. After a lackluster first half, the Eels returned in the second half with a vengence, but failed to even the score in the last minutes with an impressive final drive that fell short.

I'm sure my mate Rick is in a good mood this morning--he the Melbourne fan who accompanied me in April to the Storm-Tigers game in Sydney. And his man Bill Slater came through with a crucial try.

Myself, I'll remember the barely contained ferocity of Paramatta's Kiwi-born back with one of the greatest names in professional sports: Fuifui Moimoi. It just rolls off the tongue. I could easily imagine him a defensive back in the NFL. Think of the money he could make in the states!

Unscrupulous Basterds
So the kids were out of school early Friday and we thought we'd take them to a movie. That "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" looked like somethiing they'd want to see, so off we go to the Star Village 8 Theater in Lake Worth. Granted, it's 2:30pm--Matinee times. And these bastards want to charge $9 EACH to see this movie. That's $6.50 PLUS another $2.50 because it's in 3-D. THIRTY SIX BUCKS for a matinee show? They've got to be kidding. We decided it'd be a Blockbuster afternoon. Where do these crooks get off thinking we're unlimited wells of money. It's not enough they can charge $12 for a tub of popcorn and a soda. . but then to charge us $2.50 because of the "specialness" of 3-D. It's all about sticking it to the customer. And we won't go for it.