Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Controversial Stance Against Gentrification Taken by Aging Punk Pioneer

Happy fuckn birfday to Handsome Dick Manitoba.

The Dictators - Avenue A (Live in Chicago at Empty Bottle, 1999)

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Feature: Answering the Unanswered Questions in SiteMeter Stats, Episode Number One

Yeah, what the title of the post says. We'll start with an easy one from today's SiteMeter stats -- the Yahoo search query, "What year did Bill Veeck install the exploding scoreboard at comiskey park?" — which led one visitor to an old CBRAT post that did not, sadly, answer the question.

Well, curious Yahoo search referral visitor person, I'm here to solve that oversight right now. Because I have done the research for you, personally, and am pleased to supply the following information —

Drum roll, please.

The answer is: 1960. Bill Veeck installed the exploding scoreboard at Comiskey Park in 1960. You can quote me on it.

As a bonus, here's a site with some nifty pix of said scoreboard.

Next question?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bud Selig Does the Impossible and Redeems Self

Those of you who follow the baseballs probably heard that Bud Selig has signed on to remain as Commissioner of MLB until 2012. The news elicited the usual series of groans and curses from yours truly, although a piece over at Slate covers it from an unusually cheery angle:

Bush just lost the job he has always wanted much more than the one he's in.

Hah!!! Yeah, that hadn't occurred to me, but it is frickin' hilarious. The scuttlebutt about Dubya since before he was Preznit has always been that his chief ambition in life was to be Commissioner of Baseball.

I didn't realize, though, just how far back that ambition went. Apparently it was a lifelong thing. Which raises the question, What kind of fucking nerdlinger has the childhood ambition of being Commissioner of Baseball? Sheesh. I mean, I gave up on the idea of playing baseball very early in life, but then I started fantasizing about being a broadcaster. Fantasizing about being the asswipe in charge of the front office bullshit? Jesus, he should have been wedgied for eternity for that.

There are other problems with Dubya's dream. For instance, there will never be a commissioner named "George." They all have goofy first names:

  • Kenesaw Mountain Landis
  • Happy Chandler
  • Ford Frick
  • Bowie Kuhn
  • Fay Vincent
  • Bud Selig

OK, there are a few normal names in the bunch, a "William," a "Peter," and a "Bart," but mostly you gotta be a freakishly named eejit to be commissioner of baseball.

One of Bush's close childhood friends, Doug Hannah, told Vanity Fair's Gail Sheehy ... in 2000: "He wanted to be Kenesaw Mountain Landis,” America's first baseball commissioner, legendary for his power and dictatorial style.

Yeah ... Judge Landis ... there's a hero for every red-blooded boy in America. A tyrannical, egomaniacal, racist fuckhead. If you're not familiar with the story of Judge Landis, here's a well-worn factoid (this iteration of it from Wikipedia):

Club owner Bill Veeck claimed Landis prevented him from purchasing the Phillies when Landis learned of Veeck's plan to integrate the team.

Sounds like Gee Dub to me.

I'm not sure I have ever seen a Commissioner I liked. I'm not an appreciator of authority figures in general. I gotta say, though, that my admiration for the fish-lipped, corrupt, charisma-less mummy, Bud Selig, has just risen above zero for the first time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Marching Band Music Strikes Back

This morning on the way to work, for no particular reason at all, a one-syllable word popped into my head, and all the assumptions and assertions of the previous few weeks, vis a vis marching bands, was called into controversy, doubt, and confusion. That word was, "Tusk."

When this video first aired on "Solid Gold," I definitely thought the Trojan marching band was hella cool. Of course, I was a complete geekun dorkmus at the time, but I think I was in sixth or seventh grade. Give me a break. I got worse later.

Nice old footage of Dodger Stadium, by the way, with the original yellow seats, before they switched to blue seats ... and then back to yellow seats in the last couple of years. But I digress.

Oh yeah, and then a little farther up the Edens Expressway this morning, I remembered an even shorter word in favor of marching bands, in terms of personal code words -- "Bud." That one isn't as self-explanatory.

When I was a kid in my frickin' wholesome Illinois small town, parades were a big deal. There wasn't really a lot of spectacle going on most of the time, so the occasional long line of fire trucks, clowns, soldiers, baton twirlers, and candy-throwing politicians winding down the main street was pretty exciting. An added attraction was the fact that our street lay along the set-up zone -- or whatever the hell I should call it -- for all the parades, so the different units would be gathering and lining up all over the neighborhood early in the morning on parade days. I love to get the backstage, behind-the-scenes perspective whenever I can ... I guess that's where I developed that affinity.

Anyway, marching band music was, of course, a big part of the whole parade burgoo. My favorite part of the marching band segment of the parade was the drum cadence they'd march to when they weren't playing a song. I'd feel the rumble of the beat in my chest before I could really hear it, as they approached from the left (parades always went east to west in my home town, and I always stood on the north side of the main street ... I guess because that was the side we lived on).

I wasn't so in love with the music itself, which they'd fire up when they got to the reviewing stand by the park in what passed for "downtown." Except I did love -- and in fact considered it the highlight of the parade -- to listen to the junior high (Viking School, yes, home of the Viking Vikings, I shit you not) band during the three or so years in the mid-1970s when they were run by a particular band director with a pretty good sense of humor. Viking School's colors were (and still are) red and white -- which happen to be the colors featured in Anheuser-Busch's trade dress for its Budweiser® brand beer-like-beverage-product. So, this band director adopted, as a band theme song, Budweiser's theme song, "Here Comes the King," also popularly known as "When You Say Bud."

I vaguely recall that a few eyebrows were raised at the band director's putting up a bunch of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders to playing a beer company's commercial jingle on their dewy, tender, practically virginal musical instruments, but if the owners of those eyebrows said anything, they were brushed off. I'm pretty sure the song remained the Viking School Marching Band theme song until that particular band diretor retired, which unfortunately happened a year or two before I got to junior high age, so that era was strickly an awe from below deal, a young punk admiring the older kids thing.

Just as well. I quit band after about four weeks of struggling with a french horn in 4th grade. I never have quite gotten over it. Goddamn french horn. Pretty sure it's still back at the old house -- it was my mom's horn from her school days in the 1950s. Next time I go home, I'm gonna find it, and kick it right in the back end of the case. That'll teach it to reveal my lack of musical aptitude!

POSTSCRIPT: Apparently it's a marching band tradition at Georgia Tech games to play the Budweiser song at some point in the Saturday stupidity. Marching bands might be OK in some contexts, but in college, they are evil. Eeeeville.

Muhammad Ali -- The Greatest of All Time

Happy birthday, Champ.

Johnny Wakelin and the Kinshasa Band - Black Superman

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The 2007 CBRAT YouTube Veddeo Awards -- Best Song

The CBRAT YouTube Veddeo Award for best song of 2007 ... is a tie. I just can't pick between these two, from the outstanding album, "We'll Never Turn Back." So they both win.

Mavis Staples - Down in Mississippi

Mavis Staples - 99 and 1/2

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy birthday, Elvis, wherever you are

Friends, I don't care who you are or what you may be, but if you can't agree that the world would be at least a little bit more fun of a place to live in today if we'd have been blessed to have a 73-year-old Elvis Presley alive among us on Earth right now and blowing out some candles on a big old birthday cake, well, then I don't know what.

Polk Salad Annie

Monday, January 07, 2008

Seventy-six trombones ... would be seventy-five more than it would take to make me jump off a cliff

It seems like the hideous, tedious, seemingly endless college bowl season is going to come to a close, at long last, after tonight's championship game ... please, God. The BCS system has more bowls than the world's biggest head shop. And, this season, despite a few half-hearted attempts, I have succeeded in watching more than two minutes of none. Nor did I watch more than a few minutes of any college football game during the regular season. So, tonight's my last chance until autumn to do something I really hate doing -- watch college football!

I don't think I'll last more than another few seconds. The pre-game show itself, obnoxiously bleating in the background, made me finally realize why I can't get into college football, even slightly.

It's because I fucking hate marching band music. I never quite realized how much I hated it before now, but the urge to throw myself outside into the thunderstorming night and under a lightning bolt is giving me a clue as to how deep and broad my despisementition of this awful noise goes. I apologize to anyone who was a band nerd ... Wait. No. No, I don't. YOU apologize to ME.

Jesus Christ, it sounds like a column of fascists torturing cats. Farting cats. And farting fascists. With farting cats in their assholes. Actually, I take that back. What I've just described would probably sound pretty damn cool. Marching band music, on the other hand, is just bombastic, shrill, assaultive, and ugly.

Ach. It almost makes me wish they'd start running that goddamn They Might Be Giants "That's FrItalian" Dunkin Donuts commercial again during every break (sometimes twice in a row), just to wash the stink of brass and valve-drained spit out of my brain. Almost.

Friday, January 04, 2008

If Ken Williams can wake up long enough to make a trade, I guess I can wake up long enough to blog about it

I like the Nick Swisher trade. Prospects be fucked. Prospects are like the first pancake in a batch -- you never know how they're gonna turn out -- fluffy, delicious, and VORPy, or torn, overcooked, and disgusting. Swisher is going to work out well for the Sox. Hey, I'm the guy who correctly predicted how much the Sox would suck last season, so you can trust me. Yes! I know everything before it's gonna happen! Spooky, huh?

Jesus Christ, a lot of Sox fans are whiny ass titty babies. You'd think they were Cubs fans, for crying out loud.

"Boo hoo! Kenny traded De los dos del los las dis dat deez doze Santos! He traded Geo Metro ... or whatever his name is!"

Yup, two minor league pitchers in their early 20s who may or may not end up being any good at all. (Also traded: a minor league outfielder whom we already know is for crap.) Two days ago they were kvetching about how he hadn't made enough deals this off-season.

"But we meant that he should get somebody awesome without giving up anybody at all!!! WAAAHHH!!! We got pwnzored by Billy Beane again!!!!!!"

Uh ... I think you got off the Red Line at the wrong stop. I think you meant to exit at Addison. You whining pussy of a straw-man pretend fan.

Granted, Kenny has been assfucked in the ass time and again by Beane, anorectally in the butt. And this deal, by itself, does not put the White Sox in a position where they're going to do better than 4th place in 2008 (you heard it here, folks -- the Sox are going to stink to high heaven again) -- nor does it do anything to improve their future outlook.

But ... and here comes one more crazy prediction, folks ... after the creaky and aging Paulie Konerko gets traded along with with injury- and Boras-representation-plagued Joe Crede to the O.C. Angels of Anaheim, Aztlan, y California (or whatever their name is this year) for Chone Figgins and a mint-condition Farrah Fawcett poster, Kenny and the White Sox are going to look much better.

After, that is, torch-and-pitchfork-wielding South Siders tantrum themselves out and collapse into an "Oh, aren't they cute when they sleep?" state of exhaustion due to what will surely be a highly unpopular move, Paulie being as irrationally beloved as he is among the White Sox District. (No "Nation" for you, small-market fans!)

Yeah. So the followings are goings to happens: Nick Swisher is going to get on base a lot, hit a respectable number of home runs in home-run-friendly Sox Park, and get a nice tally of RBIs and runs scored and OBP and yippa yappa, etc. He will be serviceable at first base -- which position will be open because Paulie will be outta hyah. And Chone Figgins is going to kick ass at shortstop after -- thank yeeee, Baby Jesus -- Juan Uribe is fie-nuh-lee gotten rid of (for a can of wasabi peanuts and a half-hearted neck rub, I'm guessing). And Josh Fields is gonna be decent at third base and people are gonna like him.

And the White Sox will be lucky to finish in third place.

Meanwhile, on the North Side, the Cubs will look like strong contenders for at least three days this season, before they fold like skillfully prepared omelets that are much less delicious than actual non-baseball-team versions of said breakfast treats and ... win the division anyway, cuz their division looks like it's gonna suck. But they will lose dismally in the playoffs again. Granted, that's a blue chip prediction, but I don't have any outlandish ones to make about the Cubbies. Except that Mark Cuban will not be buying them ... which, come to think of it, is not exactly going out on a limb either.

In other (i.e., non-baseball) news, here we are in 2008. I hope it doesn't suck as much as 2007 did, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be even worse. Much, much worse. My crystal ball contains images of health worries, professional miseries, and continued increases in extreme alienation levels dominating the timescape this year -- and those are the good things in store. And 2009? Good God, I don't even wanna think about it. If I'm still alive, ask me then.

But on the bright side, it's only 40 days till pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.