sotto voce USA
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Thursday, June 29, 2006
SynergyHappy happy joy joy!!!
One of my all-time favorite animated TV series, Futurama, is coming back. New episodes are in production and will be aired in the near future on Comedy Central.
Now there's a special Futurama video clip to promote the Al Gore movie An Inconvenient Truth.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Change the Direction
I found this at Bring It On. They said take it and pass it along. Sounds good to me.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Holy SnikeesEver wonder what would happen if a freaking gigantic meteor struck the Earth? Wonder no more.
Friday, June 23, 2006
MeltdownsYesterday, the United States was eliminated from World Cup play. This was finally going to be the U.S.'s chance to shine in soccer; they entered the tournament ranked fifth in the world. Some opening game jitters and a 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic. Some soul searching and a rejuvenated Team USA fights Italy to a 1-1 draw. A must-win game, a meltdown, and a 2-1 loss to Ghana (Ghana?) sends them packing.
In the NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks had a two games to none lead over the Miami Heat. About halfway through Game Three, the Mavs had a 13 point lead and appeared to be well on their way to wrapping the series up. Miami rallied and Dallas faltered and the Heat squeaked out a Game Three win. Well, before you know it, those rallies and falters continued and Miami ended up winning four straight games to win the series 4-2.
Even though Team USA's and Dallas's meltdowns were on bigger stages, they are nothing compared to the meltdown the Atlanta Braves are going through now. Look at the standings in the National League East and you'll find Atlanta in a very unaccustomed spot -- the cellar. When June began, the Braves were in pretty good shape. They were in second place with a 28-25 record, just 4.5 games behind the Mets. Then the trouble started. On June 6 the Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-3, and on June 10 they beat the Houston Astros 4-2 -- the only two wins thus far for the entire month! Yikes! The Braves have lost ten straight, 20 of their last 23, and trail even the lowly Nationals and Marlins.
Pitching, usually a Braves forte, has been their downfall. Braves General Manager John Schuerholz has been going crazy moving pitchers back and forth from the bullpen to the minors to the starting rotation, trying to plug holes and stop the hemmoraging. They began the year a man down in the rotation without Mike Hampton, who had major elbow surgery in September of 2005. He won't be back until 2007. Then Horacio Ramirez was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Lance Berkman on June 11. He spent some time on the DL and returned yesterday. He pitched well, but failed to win.
The biggest problem has been the bullpen. No lead has been big enough that the bullpen couldn't give it away. They haven't had an effective closer, and no one else in the bullpen has been especially reliable. Chris Reitsma has had the job but hasn't been getting it done, and now he too is on the disabled list. Turns out he's been going out there with numbness in his pitching hand (ulnar neuritis.) He hasn't complained because there was no pain, but he had no feel for the ball. That's not good for a pitcher. With no closer you can count on, the entire bullpen suffers because you build a bullpen around the closer, then work backwards from there. You get some other guys you can count on to work the seventh and eighth innings, setting up the closer. Then you have some other guys to come in earlier or work lopsided games. With no closer, no one knows their role and everyone's work suffers.
This is a time of hard choices. With over three months of the season left, do you just write off this year and start making plans for next year, or do you trade away some good prospects in the hopes of getting a star that will come in and give you a shot in the arm (a la Fred McGriff in 1993.) They probably won't give me a vote, but I'd choose to hang on to what we've got and try to build for next year. I'd rather have one bad year than have this turn back into another bad Atlanta decade or two. I had enough of that in the 70's and 80's.
By the way, as I post this, the Braves are locked in a 3-3 extra-inning nailbiter against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays...and John Smoltz left early with an injury. My, how the mighty have fallen.
Update: The Braves defeated the Devil Rays 4-3 in eleven innings. The latest losing streak ends at 10, but the month of June continues.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Updated BlogrollIt took a couple of hours of coding and checking links, but I've finally finished updating my blogroll. (Thanks, Carly, for the gentle prodding.) It's a strange assortment of liberal politics, personal diaries, photography and other esoterica, but it's what I like to read. Check them out, and if yours is missing, send me a link either in comments or email.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Star Wars AwardsThe Atom Films Annual Star Wars Fan Film Awards are always one of my favorite events of the year, a salute to the shorts and cartoons that lampoon George Lucas's creation. This is the fifth year of the awards. The final nominees were announced today. Check them out and vote for your favorite. Voting ends on July 5. Winners will be announced on July 20.
I haven't finished watching all of this year's nominees yet, but Cheap Seats, which won last year's award for Best Comedy is my all-time favorite.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Monday Photo Shoot: Still LifeThe topic for Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot this week is Still Life:
Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a snap of something in a "still life" mode. It doesn't have to be a bowl of fruit, mind you (although there's nothing wrong with a bowl of fruit, if that's your thing.) But something that you can get contemplative about would be nice. Also, it doesn't move unless you go and pick it up.
This is the Dyer family cemetery. It is located in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (the Chickamauga battlefield.) The Dyers were a family that lived on the site at the time of the battle. The cemetery is located on a main trail that circles the perimeter of the park, and I wonder how many of the people who pass it recognize it for what it is. All the headstones are what you see, just standing rocks. Some have writing on them that has been eroded away by time and the elements. Still? Yes. Contemplative? Definitely.
Click picture to see larger version.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Weekend Assignment: The Things We Share With DadJohn Scalzi has a Fathers' Day weekend assignment at By the Way...
Weekend Assignment #116: Tell about some personality trait or quirk you got from your father -- or, if you're a father, some personality trait or quirk of yours you see in your kids.
Extra credit: Did you ever get dad a tie for Father's Day?
My parents divorced when I was young and I went big chunks of time without seeing my father. I think my grandfather was probably more of father-figure to me during my formative years, so I'd rather talk about a couple of things I picked up from him. They're not really personality traits or quirks, more like personal preferences of his that rubbed off on me.
My grandfather was an old-school FDR-worshiping Democrat who could never understand why people didn't have enough blankety-blank common sense to go to the polls and vote a straight Democratic ticket. While he never said so explicitly, I got the feeling that he might have believed Richard M. Nixon to be the Anti-Christ. He died before the Reagan Revolution started up or that might have been really bad. He taught me that while the Democrats might not always do what's right, they certainly have more empathy for the common man that Republicans do.
My grandfather was also a die-hard baseball fan. Summer Saturday afternoons were our time together to sit down and watch the Game of the Week on NBC. (Was there ever really a time when there was only one baseball game a week on the tube? Yes, there was. And to really blow the youngsters' minds, for a while we only had three channels and had to occasionally go outside and rotate the pole the antenna was mounted on to get them to come in clearly. I think we got our first color TV about the time I started junior high school.) Anyway, there we were every Saturday. The games were usually either the Yankees or the Dodgers (the big TV market teams) playing another team in their league. We always rooted for whoever they were playing; it didn't matter who. Someone once said, "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel." My grandfather believed that and passed along to me his hatred of anything and everything connected to the Evil Empire.
Extra credit: I don't remember every Father's Day gift I ever gave my father or my grandfather, but I don't think I ever gave either of them a tie.
Friday, June 16, 2006
The World's Funniest JokeFrom the London Telegraph -- We can all rest a little easier now. Seems a professor researching the psychology of humor has discovered the author of the world's funniest joke -- Spike Milligan. Five years ago, 300,000 people worldwide took part in LaughLab and voted for the funniest joke. The winner...
Two hunters are out in the woods in New Jersey when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed.While watching a documentary on The Goon Show, Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire discovered a version of the very same joke...
The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps 'My friend is dead! What can I do?' The operator says: 'Calm down, I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.' There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says 'OK, now what?'
Michael Bentine: I just came in and found him lying on the carpet there.Professor Wiseman commented...
Peter Sellers: Oh, is he dead?
Bentine: I think so.
Sellers: Hadn't you better make sure?
Bentine: All right. Just a minute.
Sound of two gun shots.
Bentine: He's dead.
I think what is interesting here is that a joke from the 1950s still works, and how it has transformed over time from a cosy sitting room to hunters in New Jersey.