Saturday, May 27, 2023

Through a Freshman's Eyes: "Batman Begins" Edition

When I heard my Blackhawks had won the NFL Draft lottery, I was briefly taken aback when I learned the crown jewel of this year's class, Connor Bedard, was born in July 2005. It also means this year’s high school graduates and incoming college freshmen weren’t alive to see the first half of the 2000s. It’s hard to fathom that someone born five years after Y2K can now play Lotto or enlist in the military. 


With that said, if you are graduating, or have graduated, high school this month…


…Gmail and YouTube have always existed.

…King Charles III has always been married to Camilla.

…Prince Harry has never done Nazi cosplay.

…there has never been sectarian violence in Ireland.

…you always knew W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat. 

…you’ve never seen any Ukrainians wear orange.

…it has always been possible to clone dogs.

…Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings have never anchored a network news broadcast.

…Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were never married.

Pink Floyd has never played live.

…Rich Hill has always played baseball.

…you have never attended a Montreal Expos baseball game.

…the New York Yankees have never blown a 3-0 series lead in the ALCS.

…there has never been an ugly lockout that wiped out an entire season of the NHL.

…you don’t know what the phrase “malice at the palace” has to do with basketball.

…”The Office” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” have always been on TV.

…”Family Guy” was never canceled and “Doctor Who” has never been off the air.

…Johnny Ramone, Russ Meyer, Scott Muni, Richard Avedon, Joyce Jillson, Rodney Dangerfield, Janet Leigh, Ken Caminiti, Christopher Reeve, Pierre Salinger, Ray Boone, Anthony Hecht, Steig Larsson, Yassir Arafat, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Cy Coleman, Ed Paschke, Dimebag Darrell, Johnny Oates, Jerry Orbach, Will Eisner, Virginia Mayo, Johnny Carson, Vicky LaMotta, John Vernon, Max Schmeling, Ossie Davis, Arthur Miller, Dick Weber, John Raitt, Hunter S. Thompson, John DeLorean, Barney Martin, Johnnie Cochran, Mitch Hedberg, Frank Perdue, Terry Schiavo, Pope John Paul II, Saul Bellow, Dale Messick, Debralee Scott, Prince Rainier III, Percy Heath, Herb Sargent, animator Joe Grant, Thurl Ravenscroft, Eddie Albert, Oscar Brown Jr., George Mikan, Anne Bancroft, Lane Smith, Paul Winchell, Shelby Foote, Luther Vandross, Admiral James Stockdale, James “Scotty” Doohan, Hildegarde, Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, and Robert Moog have always been dead.


If I allegedly missed anything, here’s last year’s list.


(713)


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Random Notes, May 2023

 What's happening, friends?

+ The COVID-19 pandemic is over, except it's not. It's under enough control that it's not longer considered a major threat. The wave became an undercurrent, where it's been for several months now. I still see students wearing masks, but I don't judge them. I was one of the fortunate few that never tested positive, but I'm still wary of it, and I fear its aftereffects. 

+ Lori Lightfoot's sole term as Chicago's mayor will be remembered as a mixed bag. Her strict mom energy during COVID (and in general) was annoying but well-intentioned, but her accomplishments over the last four years will be undercut by her fractious relationship with the city council, her limp response to a spike in violence and being too empathetic to the CPD. At best, Mayor Lightfoot was a deeply flawed altruist. I can see why Chicago progressives rallied around Brandon Johnson, a relative political novice, as her successor. He didn't inherit a mess necessarily, but there is ample room for improvement. 

+ Speaking of mixed bags, I can see why Joe Biden decided to run for reelection. Trump just keeps adding baggage, and the DeSantis "campaign" is already losing steam. 

+ Hey, here's the short film I shot in Austin! 

Next time: my annual memory list.

(712)

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Jet Unset

 I had a bizarre and exhausting travel experience a few weekends ago:

I flew back to Austin for spring break, my fourth trip in six years and first time in Texas since Leap Day 2020. (That ended up being my sole vacation in that headache of a year.) I was supposed to fly back in the early hours of Saturday, April 1st. Not long before going to a Round Rock Express game that Friday night, I was informed my nonstop flight to Chicago was cancelled. There was a string of nasty storms and tornado warnings in northern Illinois. I was grateful that my old pal Brandon and his wife were letting me hang out at the house until my flight would be rescheduled. I tried calling United but they were clearly slammed with calls; as it turned out, they wiped out 36 straight hours of flights to O'Hare because of the inclement weather. After two hours with an chatbot, I received a refund for my initial flight. 

I had plans for Saturday, so my instinct was to find the next available flight back home. I didn't consider Amtrak or anything else. My best option was via American and Southwest; Bergstrom to Dallas-Fort Worth to Oklahoma City to Chicago, and land home after 6 PM. I arrived at Bergstrom at 10:15 for a noon flight, and the shuttle landed at DFW without issue. Then the plot thickened. My second flight had a one hour delay for maintenance; an attendant for American noticed the four minute gap between my OKC flight and when I fly from OKC to Chicago (in different terminals) so I ended up getting switched to a layover in Springfield, MO *then* Chicago free of charge. The Springfield flight was supposed to board after 10 PM; I didn't get on the plane until 11:15. That particular layover lasted 10 1/2 hours. 

In the meantime, I endured the longest layover I've ever had. I meandered around DFW, eating lunch at a Pappadeaux, a snack at a frozen yogurt stand, and a late dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. I also took advantage of American's Minute Suites, where I took an uncomfortable two-hour snooze on a cushioned bench. The mini motel room experience was sufficient, but not worth the $51 an hour. After I landed at Springfield-Branson, I had to find a bench to take a second over-glorified nap. I was surreal laying down in the arrivals and baggage area of an empty airport, especially in a smaller airport in an unfamiliar city (one terminal, eight gates, zero Starbucks). Just after 5 AM on Sunday morning, I finally boarded my connecting flight to O'Hare. I landed at 7 AM, I returned to my apartment around 8, and I took a four hour nap. In all, I spent 21 hours in aviation limbo. 

April fools, indeed.

(711)

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

30 Teams, 30 Haiku: My 2023 Baseball Preview


After a wobbly start to the 2022 season, 2023 brought tremendous momentum to baseball, courtesy of a much-watched international tournament. With all due respect to the Czech team and their grounder-shagging prowess, the real show is here.

*notes wild card


AL EAST

  1. Yankees. Early injuries/are concerning; with deep cast/who am I to Judge?

  2. Blue Jays*. Young, hot talent at/ev’ry position; bullpen/woes might prove fatal.

  3. Rays*. Creative lineup/and stud rotation will keep/The Trop a hot spot.

  4. Orioles. Feisty young birds shocked/us all last year; lackluster/SPs won’t keep up.

  5. Red Sox. Here’s the Story: all/their pitchers are injured, with/two big infield gaps. 

AL CENTRAL

  1. Guardians. Best of sorry bunch/stacked farm system lurks behind/84-win club.

  2. Twins. Victors, somehow of/the Correa war; beyond/that, not much to boast.

  3. White Sox. Besides Benny, key/issues weren’t addressed; time for/summer of Bummer?

  4. Royals. Keep your Witts about/you; subpar SPs hinder/young, regal offense.

  5. Tigers. Assuming Baez/rebounds and young arms adjust/these kitties have claws.

AL WEST

  1. Astros. Wheeling and dealing/suits the champs; new faces keep/fans banging on cans.

  2. Mariners*. Above water at/last; young, dangerous seamen/need a switch hitter.

  3. Rangers. Free agent pitchers/must stay healthy; lack of left/fielder is glaring.

  4. Angels. Give up thinking Trout/and Ohtani will ever/reign in Anaheim.

  5. A’s. Bolts-out rebuild yet/again; budget pachyderms/seek move to Vegas.


NL EAST

  1. Phillies. Losing Bryce wasn't/nice; after surprise run, wins/won't come on a Trea. 

  2. Mets*. Big Citi spenders/can high-risk old arms curb next/October collapse?

  3. Braves*. Beyond Acuna/and Albies, one hopes patchwork/left field has Wright stuff.

  4. Marlins. Alcantara can’t/carry this team– think fourteenth/straight losing season.

  5. Nationals. Strasburg is injured/(shocker!) so DC, go watch/Ovechkin instead.

NL CENTRAL

  1. Cardinals. Contreras, traidor/with so-so arms, productive/bats set the (Noot)baar.

  2. Brewers. Small ball, Cream City/top tier rotation offset/by lack of power.

  3. Cubs. For whom Bellinger/tolls; infinite (Pat) wisdom/says new faces thrive.

  4. Reds. Time to trade Votto/this machine needs rebuilding/don’t waste the old man!

  5. Pirates. These Bucs won’t compete/weird mix of young and old, but/Cruz stands tall at short.

NL WEST

  1. Dodgers. 100 wins for/sure; place your Betts now for big/budget, elite squad.

  2. Padres*. SoCal high drama/gutted farm system won’t help/if things go sour.

  3. Giants. After ‘22/thud, who knows what to expect/Webb of mystery.

  4. D-Backs. A Gallen of hope/for young bats; rotation depth/curbs upward progress.

  5. Rockies. Thin air haplessness/behind Bryant and McMahon/…meh. Rebuild awaits!


AL MVP: Shohei Ohtani, Angels

NL MVP: Mookie Betts, Dodgers 

AL Cy Young: Alek Manoah, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young: Max Fried, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year: Triston Casas, Red Sox

NL Rookie of the Year: Corbin Carroll, D-Backs

First Manager Fired: Derek Shelton, Pirates

2023 World Series: Dodgers over Astros in 6


Your thoughts?


(710)

Monday, March 13, 2023

Changing Channels

I nearly forgot a pivotal milestone last month. Then again, I forgot last time, too. As I promised in 2013, I went down with the TV.com ship; I think I was one of the last remaining editors to hang on when my account was eradicated in December 2019. A month or so later, the site no longer existed. I kept things up when the last site admin was phased out in mid-2018, the reviews and blogs were shut down a few months later, and site's new episode generator glitched well into 2019. I guess I carried the delusion that TV.com would be salvaged. 

If TV.com has any legacy, the site established an unexpected comradery. Someone created a private Facebook group for the "refugees" about 10 years ago, and a fair number of us are still in touch. People that met in the discussion boards in 2005-06 (or TV Tome a couple years before that) still communicate to this day. There's even a group messenger convo of people from the old SNL forum. Several lasting friendships, almost exclusive to the internet and scattered around the world, came from that page. In short, our love to TV wasn't defined or dissipated by one unprofitable, mismanaged web site.

Next time: my annual baseball preview.

(709)

Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Day at the Racists

 It's probably too soon to speculate who will challenge Joe Biden for the 2024 presidential nomination. We're 20 months out, but given how election cycles supercede into each other, and Biden's multiple vulnerabilities, the speculation has already started. I expect a dogfight almost on the level of the 2016 primaries, but given that eight years ago all eyes were on George W. Bush's brother, I could be dead wrong about everything: 

Many eyes are on Gov. Ron DeSantis, the socially conservative firebrand. In many ways, he's the anti-Trump: young, politically experienced, a veteran, and not hindered by scandal and legal problems. Right now, DeSantis is stirring the culture war pot more than the ex-president, almost to the point that he exists solely to troll progressives. Assuming he runs, he's the narrow favorite at the moment.

Then there's the old, familiar face. The Trump campaign exists, and outside of his most ardent admirers, isn't gaining much momentum. He turns 77 this summer and looks every day of it. He's looked weary, his fiery rhetoric limited mostly to his fledging social media platform, Truth Social. That doesn't mean, however he doesn't have a clear path to the nomination. 

Then there's the traitor. Former Ambassador Nikki Haley's campaign announcement had the usual "liberal media" and "fight for freedom" clich├ęs, but she knows Trump has a history of marginalizing and putting down women of color. In short, Nikki Haley is the most palatable GOP candidate. That's not saying much. 

In short, the right-wing echo chambers will start their quadrennial bickering soon enough. I'd prefer to be outside looking in.

(708)