Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bush redux

The only upside to Fitial's victory is that I'm eager to see the opus written by Ed Propst capturing the outrage over the cosmic absurdity of what just happened. This event is an eery reminder of Bush's re-election in 2004: Very obviously a bad decision at the time, but a cautious "let's stick with our guy" mindset. With warning signs more than clear, a selfish electorate in an issueless race, drunk on fear given recent events, again empowered a dipshit. Let me restate -- maybe the shock will wear off: Saipan, on the precipice of complete meltdown, re-elected a demonstrably corrupt, incompetent, misguided moron. I can't help but think that this is what is deserved. I've not been this annoyed by something that has so little impact on me in a long time.
For anyone curious about the origin of the pic, I google imaged WTF and went with that one.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Yankees win, the Yankees win.

The Yankees won their 27th World Series this week. As usual, I followed the entire post season very closely. There are several things that stuck out to me about the experience.

Yankee fans have become extremely negative. Not one time in this post season were the Yankees in trouble. The only time they were down in any of the rounds was when they trailed 0-1 in the World Series to a Phillies team with exactly one good pitcher. How that team went that far with so little pitching remains a mystery. Yet the sense of doom was always palpable among the fan base. The Yankees had some key games, but they never really had a must win game in the entire post season. In following the fan reaction on WFAN in New York, on Twitter, and in the frequent texts between friends, so much worry and negativity was evident that I am not sure these fans could really enjoy this team's success. That joylessness defeats the purpose of the vast time suckage of following sports.

The most depressing thing for a fan, to me, is to follow the very long regular season, and then for your team to undergo a quick exit in the wild card series. Your team plays 162 games to qualify, and then they can be bounced out in three games in the division series. That has happened to the Yankees a lot in the last ten years, which I suppose is where some of this negativity came from. They were bounced in round one in 2o02, 2005, 2006 and 2007. In 2008 they didn't make the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years and went on a spending spree for the ages. With a division series loss, the season is just over in a blink. Such a quick and unsatisfying ending makes you feel like a chump for watching all year. When it is a great series, such as the famous 1995 series against Seattle, it is easier to live with. In all those other years, it wasn't even much of a series. For many of those years, the biggest issue was living up to the amazing success of the 1996 to 2001 teams. I took the above picture in 1999 when I was working in New York city and had a company office on Wall Street. This team in 2009 looked a lot more like those vaunted teams in the relentlessness and the comebacks.

I think some negativity also comes from that and from scars from the Boston collapse in 2004, not to mention the still grating World Series loss in 2003 to the Marlins when the Yankees underperformed. This joylessness, which wasn't even as bad as it was in previous years, is still overblown in my opinion.

The other striking thing is how brilliant Mariano Rivera still is at nearly 40 years old. I think every Yankee fan is either a Jeter guy or a Rivera guy. I'm a Rivera guy and always have been. I pulled this from Jon Heyman's column:
For the 19th time in 29 postseason series, Rivera did not allow a run. His
patented cutter is a mystery to practically everyone, but especially to National
League batters who haven't seen it. He actually lowered his lifetime 0.77
postseason ERA to 0.74 by allowing one run in 16 innings. He might be the most
valuable player of his generation.

The other striking thing about being a Yankees fan is that nothing can match 1996. For Red Sox fans, I'm sure the same can be said about 2004. In 1996, the Yankees were the underdog. They hadn't won in 18 years. They lost the first two games of the World Series to the Braves. No one expected them to come back. Then Cone gutted one out. Then Leyritz hit that homerun, then Pettite beat Smoltz 1-0 and then Girardi hit that triple at the stadium. As great as this post season run was, nothing in my lifetime of watching sports can match the joy of 1996.

Very disappointed in Obama so far

I see the Congress just passed the watered down health care bill. There are a few improvements such as removing the whole pre-existing condition scam, but overall this, like the entire Obama presidency thus far, is a vast disappointment. It's nice not to have a complete moron in charge, but the man is far too willing to compromise with lunatics who never have and never will be reasonable or play fair.

When Bush was in office, that crop had the votes and just did what it wanted to do. They give the impression they at least believed in all their evil, misguided deeds. The Dems, as always, are wishy washy and spineless. They send the message they don't even really believe in what they're doing. Obama can't even tell students to take responsibility for themselves, set goals and study hard without it becoming a controversy. At my school all the teachers were given an explicit directive not to show Obama's speech, not that I planned to. This made me half wonder if I was still allowed to tell my students to study hard and set goals for themselves. That phony controversy should have made everything clear to him about the crop he was trying to woo.

This week the Democrats lost a governorship in a Democratic state, my state, of New Jersey. I would bet the house they lose the house in the mid-terms next election. What will be left is this presidency will be Clinton without the sex scandals -- a talented man accomplishing little and being a vast disappointment. I hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

U2 in Glendale

Somehow my seldom blog updates have become U2 centric. I didn't plan it that way, and while I'm still a big fan, I'm not in the enthrall I once was. Regardless, I've been meaning to sit down and relate my thoughts on the show here two weeks ago.

I haven't seen the band since the unfairly maligned Popmart album and tour in 1997, which I saw at Giants Stadium. I also saw them in 1992 in about the third total Achtung Baby concert in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was in college back then and didn't know them as well at that point. Being overseas for a long time, I missed several of the tours. I got to make up for that lost opportunity by seeing a great show at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale a few weeks ago.

For this 360 tour, U2 set up an a general admission area known as "the pit." There is a large ring around the stage, and the enclosed area closest to the stage is "the pit." It is not the most comfortable place to wait or watch a concert, as it is standing room only and crowded, but given that most concerts with actual seats, at least up close, are standing room only, this isn't the end of the world -- no pun intended. The general admission tickets in the pit area are not unreasonable -- in fact they are very moderately priced at about $60. I dropped by at the opening of the line up-just to check it out at around 11 am. There were several people there already at that time. The arena opened up at 5 to allow people in, and that's when I got there -- about three hours before the show. This was still plenty of time to get into the pit, which is the way I'd recommend seeing the show. I was about 12 feet from the stage. If I waited all day, I'd have been about 4 feet away. I was happy with that trade.

The band connects the center stage to the outer rings with a movable bridge. I took the above picture of the Edge, who was literally that far away. The man is a guitar genius. I love his use of guitar effects. The band is an entirely different experience that close. I saw Dave Matthews last Summer from row six, and then again in May from the lawn. The first was a seminal experience-- perhaps also because they chose a particularly inspired set list that night. The latter felt like a pointless ripoff being that far away. It cost about $90 for two sets with indistinct sound and a visual set up I could barely see from so far. The lawn has its charm for some, but I won't do it again, and these shed tours are pretty much the norm these days. How many arena acts do we even still have?

For the U2 shows, I've read different reports on the sound quality being weak in the upper areas, but in the pit area the sound was immaculate. Bono radiates a real personableness and a general stage presence and humanity that really puts him high on the list of people I most admire. The concert helped build some appreciation for the band's latest album, which is good, but is definitely not great. The set list included some less renowned favorites like Ultraviolet and the Unforgettable Fire, and other classics like Streets Have No Names. My only disappointment is that Bad wasn't on the set list, which I happen to think is the best song of the 80s. They have played it on other stops of this tour. I just watched the streaming youtube cast they did from Los Angeles, and that has been a nice way to relive it as well -- a far better value than the $45 t-shirts.

My little ladybug

My little ladybug had quite the Halloween. Some of the best days of my life are when we go on our Saturday afternoon dates together. She's already a fan of fried calamari and fine cuisine in general.