Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Teach me to speak too quickly

As soon as I say nice things about the White Sox's winning ways, they play a sloppy game to the A's. The frustrating thing about this game was that I couldn't watch it. We have the Extra Inning package that allows us to see so many out of market games. Last night we discovered that they weren't showing this particular game. Instead, they showed the D-Backs-Dodgers game on two different channels. Not even different broadcasts. Cursing ensued.
Still all good things (and winning streaks) come to an end. Playing on Oakland has had a way of making the Sox look bad over the last few years, and I guess that's continued. Still a win today would give them the series 2-1. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


That's how the White Sox stand right now. They've done it with pitching and just scoring enough runs. Will it stand up? No way to tell. The starting pitching has been nothing short of phenomenal. The bullpen has been mostly good, with one bad outing in game three to hurt their overall stats.
I expect that the pitching will fall off some and the hitting will pick up some. And their will be a bad streak or three. And the rest of the teams in the AL Central will make a run at them at some point.
But...I'm feeling pretty good so far.

1992 in review

Here we go with 1992

Scent of a Woman
A Few Good Men
Crying Game
Howard's End

The theme of this year with the exception of Unforgiven, is good but not great. Each of the other four movies had significant flaws. In some ways, it's more frustrating to watch a movie that's sooo close but veers off track or falls short of greatness.
The other theme of this year is a direct attempt to make people think about moral judgements. I know that's not uncommon in good movies, but it's particularly visible in this year. You could show this set of movies in a comparative ethics course and get an interesting snapshot of '92.
The only music that really stuck with me was from Scent of a Woman. The FP Fiance has a fondness for the song 'Crying Game'. The rest was fine, but not great.
Unforgiven really stood out and deserved the best picture award that it won.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

NFL Draft

This is another big day on the sports calendar as each team tries to improve themselves. I'm not really a scouting analyst and have no thoughts on which players will actually become good and which ones will be busts. But the whole macro orginiztional aspect of the draft has always facsinated me.
So what do I hope for from the Vikes today? I'm hopeful that they pick the best available player (unless he's a quarterback). They've improved in the defense over the offseason, but they could still use help. They could use help at receiver and O-line. The Vikes have had good sucsess with players falling to them and I hope they can do so again today.
Also, to echo almost every other team, I'd love for them to trade down and get more picks for less money per. This draft doesn't seem to have as many stand out players and the belief is that the talent drop off isn't that steep from the top.
In any case, I'll be crossing my fingers and hope for the best!

Friday, April 22, 2005

And here's a kitty for Friday. Posted by Hello

Here's for the end of the week. And yes I miss the ocean. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

White Sox and Twins

And now another series is out of the way, with the Sox taking both games from the Twins. The Sox pitching wasn't that sharp, but the defense was. The maximum number of double plays a team can turn in two nine-inning games is 18. I think the Twins hit into about 14 of them. I can only imagine their frustration.
The Twins scored their first run Monday night on a balk. The Twins announcers didn't see a balk even after reviewing replays. I still haven't seen an explanation of what the ump saw. Didn't really matter as the White Sox were able to homer their way out of the problem.
Last nights game featured plenty of good defense by the Twins, but the key play was Torri Hunter's misplay of a fly ball into a double. That scored the first run for Chicago and opened the door for the second one. Later on Hunter made a good catch at the wall, but I'm not sure that that evens out.
There's also been some talk about this article from a Chicago paper, titled "Despising Minny to the Max". It's from a columnist from the powerful and influential paper, the Daily Southtown, and is written with almost as much venom as one of the Strib's sports columnists. In it he lists five reasons for hating the Twins. Go ahead and read it, because I'd like to respond.
The Twins play dirty. Outside of the well publicized Hunter collision with Jamie Burke last season, I haven't seen much dirty play from them. But that one play was dirty. If one of the White Sox players went out of their way to injure Joe Mauer, I'm sure most Twins fans would think that was dirty, too.
The Metrodome. Ladewski's right about this one. The dome is terrible for baseball. Can you imagine using one of the few nice weather days of the year cooped up in that plasitc bubble? Ugh. Spend even one game at an outside ballgame and you'll never want to go back. And don't get me started on the roof that's the same color as a baseball.
Zero name recognition. It's hard to hold this against a small market team. And it's not especially true. The Twins have the reigning Cy Young winner. Torii Hunter has gotten plenty of exposure on ESPN. And it's hard for me to judge otherwise, since I'm local.
The other point about their popularity in comparison to other local teams is spot on though. And I doubt the depth of the fandom that does exist. If this team slips to 10 games out, you can kiss any summer attendance goodbye.
Illegitamate in big games. I hate making judgements on teams on such small samples as this. Nope, they haven't done well in the playoffs in recent years. Neither did the Sox against Seattle in 2000. This doesn't mean much to me.
The child play of Hunter and Jacque Jones. There's a little something to this, but baseball as a whole is a target-rich field for this type of criticism, and Hunter and Jones aren't particularly egregious examples. Neither of them do the full Sosa, for example.

Now if you wanted reasons to 'hate' the Twins, here are some that strike me as more reasonable.
Playing the pity card as a small market. The AL Central is filled with small market teams. The Twins payroll has been in line with the other teams that the compete directly against. As recently as 2002, they had the largest payroll in the division. The White Sox payroll has blossomed this year, but it's not like the Twins are facing $100 million (or $200 million!) teams.
Continued whining about lack of respect. The Twins were easily the concensus pick to win the AL Central. I think they were last year, too. They're mentioned as a 'model franchise' by the national media. What more do they want?
Fair weather fans. This was a fan base that couldn't be bothered to show up for the last half of the 90's. They had a team that needed encouragment and they sat on their hands. Real fans support their teams even in down years. If this team goes south, the dome will empty out.
Of course, not all Twins fans are this way. Plenty of them will stick with their team through thick and thin. Every team has a core like that. The rest of them will drop them like a bad habit though.

American in Paris

Been meaning to mention this, but I'm heading to Paris week after next. It's a work thing, so the FP Fiance isn't able to come with. I'm very excited!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Howard's End - 1992

Not sure what to write about this. The comparison in my mind to 'Sense and Sensibility' is strong and unfair as this movie came out first. Both movies have to do with English class sensibilities and property. Both movies have Emma Thompson in comparable situations. But...this movie lacks the punch of the love story that the latter movie provided.
In fact the love story in this movie is more polite and less passionate. It concerns Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins in what must be one of the most restrained proposals in movie history. Hopkins is an older man who is set in his ways. He knows how the world works and isn't afraid to share his advice. His advice brings him in conflict with his fiance's sister (Helena Bonham Carter). This is the conflict that the plot hinges on.
The story in an interesting period view of English society in the early 20th century (I think). The movie provides a few beautiful shots of the countryside. Who wouldn't love an English cottage? Overall, I found the movie good but not great.

Unforgiven - 1992

This was the best picture winner of its year and it's tough not to compare it to the more recent 'Million Dollar Baby', also directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Both films present people in difficult situations that have to make their way through ethically murky situations. It's tough to cheer on the protagonist in both cases, though condemning them is also dificult.
The striking piece of this movie was how it changed the landscape of western movies. Eastwood made his name in westerns in the 50's and 60's when the good guys and the bad guys were more easily told from each other. This movie made the picture much muddier. It shows a very rough frontier town. A place where the sheriff is the law and his judgements are final. It also shows that shooting a man can be emotionally devestating.
A few things that struck me during this watching: Sheriff Little Bob (Gene Hackman) makes two early punishments in this movie. After the cowboys cut up a whore he declines to whip them. Instead he fines them an amount of ponies to be paid to the saloon owner to recompense the expense of the cut up woman. Under the law, the actual victim of the crime is given nothing. The next alottment of punishment comes when English Bob (Richard Harris) comes to town with a few weapons. He gets the crap kicked out him. Yes, there are extenuating circumstances but the contrast is vivid. Punishment must be in step with the severity of a crime. That's the only route to justice.
Another thing that struck me about the movie is the relationship between Eastwood and the woman who was cut. The happy ending would have Eastwood take her for his wife. But that would have been too pat. Eastwood has convinced himself that he is beyond redemption and drawing a her in would have been wrong. Certainly wrong to the memory of his dead wife. Also the first time I saw this I got chills when he takes the whiskey back and starts to drink again. Watching it again, I still do.
This is the first movie of this project that I actually own. Coming up, I may post the review schedule in case anyone wants to follow along. This has been enjoyable and I'm glad that I'm doing it.

Good week

for the White Sox, who are tied with the Twins for the best record in MLB at 8-3. It's still very early and I'm still not sold. Having said that, if this pitching holds up, they will run away with the division. More hitting and taking more walks would help tremendously. The best first look at a team should be right around the end of April. Should be fun to see where it goes from there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

White Sox vs Twins series

Able to watch all three of the games over the weekend (the FP Fiance deserves another medal). It's early in the season and you shouldn't make too much of just three games, but here is some of what I noticed.
The starting pitching in the first two games was pretty even with the differance being the Twins pitchers wilting a bit. If Silva is out for the season, this will put even more pressure on that starting staff. This was the first time I'd seen El Duque pitch in a long while and I was pretty impressed. Garland also looked good, but I'd need to see three or four good starts in a row before I really believe in him. It wasn't Buehrle's best start, in fact it was below his average start and I'm not sure why. Santana looked very good again. The umpire's strike zone was wider than the one that ESPN used, but that's just a quibble. It looks like the way to get to him is to do it early. Also looks like you can bunt on him.
In fact, the thing that really stuck out watching these games was the Twins infield defense. They used to be very sure handed while their opponents looked baffled by the turf. Not this time. Poor glove work and failure to cover first base was kind of a theme for them. I know that part of the Twins fan's self image is the strong fundamentals of their defense. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile the faster White Sox players put some pressure on that same defense. A few timely homeruns helped too. It's early, but I like what I see.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Crying Game - 1992

For the sake of this review I'll assume that everyone knows about the, um, thing you shouldn't know about until you've seen this movie. If you don't know, then don't keep reading. Or go ahead and read it. But you've been warned.
To start with, a true story. We've had an informal tradition of taking Mom out to a movie on Mother's Day. This tradition really hasn't always gone well. 'City Slickers 2' might have been the low point. Or it might have been this one. My brother and I took her out to see it. We'd heard it was good. Not really mother and sons material, though.
And the biggest problem with this movie is that it should be better than it is. The early part of the story is interesting. IRA member becomes too close to a hostage. Is supposed to execute him but lets him get away only to see the hostage run down by the strike force coming to rescue him. Feels guilty about the entire situation and finds the hostage's girlfriend and decides to protect her.
And then the story goes off the rails. Out comes the penis and the rest of the movie is buried beneath the straight guy in love with a gay transvestite plot. And how can it not be? Being romantically in love with someone becomes pretty gender specific. Don't think so? Imagine your significant other coming home tonight and announcing that they've decided to have a sex change. Think that might throw a kink in your relationship? I think it just might.
Anyway, I remember being surprised when this movie was nominated for best picture. I felt at the time that the nomination must have had something to do with a positive portrayal of a transvestite. The movie seems to say that the genitalia shouldn't matter if they really love each other. That also skips over the question of if the two characters are really in love or just in convenient lust.
Not sure how to rate this overall. Most of it is good. It could have even gotten to great. But the central flaw is too big.

Movie project update

Yes, it's still going on. I've just been lazy about posting the movie reviews. (For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, read here.) Movie posts will continue.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

And now the story

A couple of months ago, the thought had crossed my mind that the FP Gal and I should get hitched. These were relatively new thoughts and I wanted to take some time to get the taste of them. And they tasted pretty good. But how do you get the details right?
Questions to the ladies at work of how their husbands and fiances handled picking out a ring proved fruitless. "If you wanted a ring, what kind of ring might you want?", lacks the smoothness that I was after. So I broke cover and talked with a friend about what I was thinking and how to go about the proposal. The best idea we came up with was to give her something in place of an engagment ring with the idea of getting that later. Instead of an expensive ring, she'd get a toy ring for the time being. A co-worker helped with the ring box. Those two were the only ones that I'd told.
So...on Sunday after a grueling day at the beach, we'd retired to the hotel room to rest. As she slept, I got the box and the ring out of my stuff and placed it on table. Eventually she woke up. And eventually she noticed the table.
"What's this?"
"That's for you."
"What is it?" Opening it.
Down on one knee. "Will you marry me?"

And there you have it. Getting the word out was tough because internet access was very slow and my phone didn't really work. The rest of the vacation was very nice if decadent. Ixtapa is beautiful and friendly. And relaxing.
The only other real adventure was snorkeling (my first time). Took some practice but it was totally worth it. The only fish we saw that I could identify was a baracuda. Wheee!

It's good to be back.

And here's the happy girl. Posted by Hello

Here's the ring. Posted by Hello

A stray cat that hung out outside of our hotel in Ixtapa. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pride goeth before...

It's not always easy to be a fan of an out of town team. This really hasn't been a problem for me as a White Sox fan because the two teams haven't both been competitive at the same time. That's no longer true and the teams have become each other's biggest rivals. I'll write more on this, but I'd just like to say this to Twins fans: Don't become insuferable.
The last few years, the Twins have been a bit better and caught a few more breaks than the White Sox. Those three consecutive divisional championships look wonderful (and I'd love to have them for my team) but don't go overboard. Your players still leave a scent in the toilet. None of them have been documented as to walking on water or healing lepers. Keep this in mind, please.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Note from Ixtapa Mexico

Which is where we are. She was very surprised (pleasantly). And as a technichal note, she said "yes" so she will now be called FP Fiance.

More news to follow.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Baseball thoughts

I just wanted to get something down before the season starts so I could look back in October and shudder. These are some baseball thoughts off the top of my head.

1) The biggest story (again) is going to be the Yankees and Red Sox. This is outside of whether or not they actually are the most interesting story or not. The sports journalism world is centered on the east coast and that's just how it is.
2) The Twins will falter this year. Their pitching will drop off from last year as both Santana and Nathan will be merely good or great instead of inhuman. They'll finish second to the Indians, losing by less than five games.
3) My White Sox will finish third by playing .500 ball. The biggest factor that would change this is going to be starting pitching health. If all five of the projected starters stay healthy, they'll win the division. I'm not expecting that.
4) The A's will fall a bit back to the pack this year. Their pitching will drop off from last year and their offense will be average at best.
5) The Nationals will compete for the NL East, but fall short. The Braves will finally lose the division this year. (This is a standard mistake for pundits and I'm falling into it too.)
6) The Cubs will be .500 at best this year. The long breathless wait for Wood and Prior will wait another year as both of them will have injury plagued years. Once again they'll get far more attention than they deserve. (And yes, I'm bitter.)
7) Bonds will play less than half of the year. He'll break Babe Ruth's HR mark. When people talk about steroid use he'll be defended by sportswriters quick to accuse with racism.
8) My neighbors will wonder why I'm shouting "You can put it on the board...YES!".

And another great season will be had.

Here is Sana being all curly. Posted by Hello