Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hey, who spilled bubbly on the Hot Stove News?

One last post for 2008, but just a quickie, cuz I gotta take a post-work nap before heading over to a par-tay next door. But the Cubbies have been busy today, huh? Mark DeRosa traded to Cleveland for the standard "three guys nobody has heard of," where I guess he'll be joining good ole Kerry Wood (how we hate him). Aaron Miles picked up from the Cardinals to, I guess, fill DeRosa's (f)utility role. And it looks like Jason Marquis will be going to Colorado in exchange for Luis Vizcaino, which seems like a fairly even crap-pro-crappo deal to me.

OK. Here's wishing everyone a cup o' kindness and all that. Happy New Year to you and yours.

Year Out, Year In -- Auld Blog Syne

Here's my wrap-up on 2008:


Here's my forecast for 2009:

Gonna suck even worser.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Late Letter to Santa Claus

Well, since the temperature surged up into the 20s today, I organized a sortie outdoors to see how entombed my car was within a plow-induced igloo of frost. And the answer is lots. Lots entombed.

I took a snow shovel to the icy gift-wrapping surrounding my mighty 4-cylinder Japanese sleigh, and the shovel bounced off the rock-hard snow-mass twangily, and I tried again, several times, and then I started to sweat and exhibit signs of an impending heart attack, so I went back inside.

So I might be spending at least Christmas Eve, if not Christmas Day as well, here, in the apartment, with the kitty cats. Which I won't mind. Although the food situation here is not as good as it will be at the folks' house. I won't starve, but I'll be bored. Maybe I'll be able to move the car later on in the week, or over the weekend.

And maybe not. I'm just about fucking disgusted with the futility of owning a car in winter in this town.

But then if there's anything I'm overly excellent at, it's being fucking disgusted. At everything. All the time.

I'm not just colicky. I'm super duper extreme colicky. And even I find me irritating.

Anothing thing about me that I'm irritated by is, why do I waste so much time reading so many liberal blogs? Especially ones that spend most of their time and space bitching about whatever insane shit the asshole conservative blogs are yapping about?

I mean, I've done a great job of avoiding the pajamas people, whoever they are, and the little green footballs, and even the National Review Online. I've never even seen Ann Coulter on TV once, but every time she spews a vile turd of right-wing outrageousness, I end up reading all about it online. Feh and fooey.

I don't want to know. I know those people are nuts -- I have heard every single tired argument and slur spewed by ultra-conservatives, and they haven't changed in 20 years. Yes yes yes, poor people, unions, and minorities are responsible for every single problem in America, not to mention teh gheys.

Doesn't (what passes for) The Left have anything better to do than exchange endless fusillades with their counterparts on the alleged other side of the continuum?

Somebody must find it really fun to fire up The Tubes and find out what creepy, disgusting nonsense so-and-so has cooked up this morning, I dunno. But I don't.

So why do I keep visiting these (purportedly) lefty blogs?

Because I am an idiot.

Please, Santa, if you're reading this -- I've been a pretty good boy this year. I drank too much too often, and I engaged in lots and lots of sloth. But, really, my list of middle-aged sins for 2008 is rather boring. Which, in my opinion, counts as good.

So, Santa, can you bring me some sense this year? Can you drop me off a little sanity?

If so, I just wanted to let you know that I might be stuck here at CBRAT Central on Christmas morning, so if you can swing by in your magic flying chariot and check, I'd appreciate it vastly.

Thanking you in advance, Santa.


Stronger Than Dirt

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chestnuts suck, who don't think so?

Friend of the blog, Foojang, over by Portland, Oregon, writes as follows, and I respond as follows that, and that's what this post is, and it's too fucking cold for me to type anymore. Cheers.

Whelp, the weather has been mizherable here for over a week now,

Me and you both, Sahib. Today the warmest it got was -3. Fahrenheit.

I thought I had my xmas shopping done, but I realized tonight that I bought the same damn stuffed moose from the Swedish museum for the same damn person last year. So now I have to account for that error. I think I can juggle the "who gets what" and make it work. If not, I have to shop more, and .... fuck, I hate that.

Plus, it's supposed to snow like a fuckass on xmas eve, and I don't want to miss Italian beef sammitches for lunch that my mom is serving for the annual hectic mayhem thing with the deranged relatives.

My cousin _____ will be visiting on leave from Iraq, where he has been volunteering to go along on bomb defusing missions for extra money. So ... that's Sanity Claus for you, ho ho ho.

My sister's boyfriend _____ might sit it all out, because he's pouting. His _____ is in jail, and his _____ is a nut, and _____ is pouting because my sister's family is "perfect." Yeahhhhhh. The Mosses. Of Gurnee, Illinois. Perfect. I wasn't aware of that definition of the term. But anyway, _____ is having a major snit of self-pity, giving my sister the business about "You never had to live on wheels!" etc.

This is how the world ends. It's ending now. It fucking better be.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't Touch That Stove; That Stove Is Hot -- Another Cubs Report

While everyone is exercising themselves over the transformation of Wrigley Field to hockey rink containing facility, Jim Hendry's Cubbies have signed speedy fast-ster Joey Gathright to a one-year, $800,000 deal. That pooping sound you hear is coming from Reed Johnson's pants.

And that's about as exciting as I can make that non-story.

Meanwhile, reporters report that the Chicago Hockey Blackhawks have the top attendance record this season in the National Irrelevant They Still Play Hockey? Professionally? League, improving from 29th out of 30 last season. Just goes to show what can happen when an unpopular owner goes the way of all flesh. Or what can happen when there's no place to go but up.

Hockey. I still have contusions and peculiarly warped limbs from my efforts to play at that game during my stupider, teenage years. And I still have the skates. I'm sure they still fit, although I haven't strapped them on in over a decade, and all signs point to that record remaining unbroken forever.

Stove is hot. Clear down range. Ken Williams? Your move. Been a long time since any White Sox news happened. And Darrin Jackson moving over to radio -- completing a media swap with Steve Stone -- doesn't count.

"We are confident Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson will partner to provide White Sox fans a solid broadcast experience," said Mitch Rosen, WSCR 670 AM program director.

A solid broadcast experience. Very well. For a medium consisting of intangible waves, that's something. Not sure what. But something.

Maybe he just means the tower will fall on us. That would be solid.

Stay tuned. The gas bill is paid up, the knobs have been taken off this sucker, and all burners are blue jets of awesome off-season baseball fascination.

Cue the theme song.

Hot stove news! Hot stove news! Hot! Stove! News!

Friday, December 12, 2008

'Tis STILL the season?!? Oh, Jaysus, what'd I do to deserve this?!?

As per allusions I've made over on another blog (no further hints here, Google stalkers), I like the Pogues and I like Kirsty MacColl.

Meanwhile, despite honest efforts to the contrary, I hate Christmas. But, still, here below is a confluence of the thrixt of em. Which turns out pretty nice on balance, even I have to admit.

By the way, did you know that if you add enough alcohol to a Swede you produce an Irishman? I think it's true, anyway. Apropos of nothing. Add more alcohol, and you just get a drunker Mick. Sorry. I don't control physics.

Well, I don't.

Anyway. The below-embeddenated number, "Fairy Tale of New York," is a favorite of mine, Christmas or no. In terms of "Christmas = yes," it is way, way up there. It's in my top three favorite Christmas songs, probably. I've never listed them, but I figure it's worth that grade.

There is also some personal history that goes with the song, but I'll not convert that to narrative for you at this time, but will save it for later. Amen.

One last thing, though. Next week, the 18th, will mark the eighth anniversary of the tragic death of Kirsty MacColl, who we'd all be better off having around now, if we'd have been so lucky.

Cubs Report: The Stove Is Cold, the Oven Is Slack. Peavy's Not Comin', and Cotts'll Be Back

Well, the whole report is pretty much in the title. No sense gilding the lily, as they say.

But the fact remains, it is deep, dark meteorological winter (if not astronomical same), and baseball, baseball is what I miss.

The other sports don't do it. I'm not against football, basketball, hockey, or mixed martial arts, but ... they don't do it. For one thing, you can't find a song about football like this one:

Harpo Marx - Take Me Out to the Ball Game

POSTSCRIPT: Yeah, I know I said no more YouTubes never, but ... one can't hurt. And rules were made to be broken. Especially the rules I make.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Omigod omigod omigod ... I hope it's ... YES!!! Blago arrested!!! Thank you, Santa!!!

I don't want to let the Funnest News Day Ever® go by without a post, but I'm too damn excited (I feel like a kid on Christmas morning) to sort out my thoughts coherently ... so I'll just re-purpose an email from me to my mom, who prompted me thusly earlier this afternoon:

> Your dad wants to know your reaction.

Well, I knew they were building a big case against him, but I'm surprised like everyone else about the extent of it, and the complete audacity of trying to blatantly sell the Senate seat.

The FBI's chief investigator on the case said that "even the most cynical agents were shocked," and I'm with them.

I took the day off, and I've been having fun watching all the coverage. I'm trying to guess who the pseudonyms in the complaint are -- Candidate 1 seems to be Valerie Jarrett. Candidate 6 is probably one of the Pritzkers. Speculation about Candidate 5 -- the one who allegedly offered half a million for the seat -- is that it's either Jesse Jr. or Emil Jones. My guess is Jones.

Another thing -- those Blagojeviches sure have filthy mouths. Every word word is "fuck." As in, "fuck him [Obama]," "fuck the Tribune and their Cubs deal," etc.

So far, Obama seems to have stayed out of the Senate appointment scandal, but there's a bunch of "pay-to-play" stuff in the complaint involving Tony Rezko. Now that Blagojevich is a caged animal, I would expect he will be looking to cut a deal and cough up whatever he has on Obama, if anything.

I really like the U.S. Attorney, Fitzgerald. He seems like a stand-up guy. I hope he has a chance to get Daley.

One more thing -- I'm almost certain that Rahm Emanuel is wrapped up in this somehow, but I'm not sure if he "dropped a dime" and tipped off the feds (Rahm seems to be "President Elect's Advisor A" in the complaint), or if he was the go-between on one of the proposed deals.

My personal guess right now is that he cooperated with the investigation. Blagojevich has very few friends, and I think Rahm was not happy that he was trying to push the Obama camp around.

Obama is already showing that he doesn't feel beholden to anyone he doesn't need anymore -- he had already pretty much turned his back on his former mentor, Emil Jones, because Jones is too much of a hot potato to have around -- too controversial and transparently sleazy.

Whatever anyone thinks about Obama, he has some remarkable skill at maneuvering in the Democratic Party. Five years ago, he was basically a nobody. The first time I heard of him was at a New Year's Eve party at the end of 2003. So I think he's got a lot of political smarts -- which is why I think he'd have Rahm help deep-six Blagojevich.

And that's also one reason why I think Candidate 5 is Emil Jones -- because the complaint says Obama didn't want Candidate 5, and Obama had made it known that he didn't want Jones in the job.

Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett -- Candidate 1 -- who seems to have withdrawn her name from consideration after it became clear that favors and/or money to the governor would be required.

It's all like a big mystery novel -- the biggest dream come true for politics junkies since Watergate. And I was too young to know what was going on back then.

OK, email over.

There are also strong arguments, based on the time-line, that Candidate 5 is Jesse Jackson Jr. And also a case to be made that Rahm Emanuel discussed a bribe arrangement with Blagojevich involving the setup of a 501(c)4 lobbying organization (backed by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates) in exchange for Rahm's influence in selecting an interim replacement in the Illinois 5th Congressional District until a special election could be held. And ... probably many other bizarre and twisted cases.

Should keep us busy for a while.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Stronger Than Dirt’s Coping Strategies for 2009: Your Guide to Surviving the End of Life as We Know It: Part One

Now that it’s become abundantly clear that we are either in a full-blown economic depression or about to be in one, I thought I’d throw together a few tips for living (reasonably) decently while mired in a state of poverty. I’ve had some experience with that, and I’ve taken plenty of notes. I’m neither rich nor poor at the moment, but I have always lived well within my means, as a matter of compulsion ... and because I knew this train wreck was coming.

And it is coming. Do I look like I’m kidding? OK, don’t answer that.

I’m not kidding. I mean, I’m trying to be funny, but I’m dead serious. So, in an effort to give back a little bit to the online community that has given me so, so much, here are the first three items in what I foresee as a continuing series. Although, if I get a lot of hits for these -- as I believe I should -- I might have to start charging for future installments. Because even poor-living gurus have got to get paid.

And here they are. The advices you’ve been waiting for.

STDPM’s First Three Preparedness Tips for the Imminent Catastrophe Threatening Your Doomed Asses and Your Doomed Asses’ Portfolios

1. Do your homework. Read (or re-read) some John Steinbeck novels. Or even watch the movie adaptations. I suggest Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men to start. They will generally orient you to the new bleak economic landscape and will help you grasp the awful reality of massive unemployment and the violent crackdowns that are sure to follow. Of course, in 2009, those crackdowns will be conducted by Blackwater mercenaries -- in severe cases, by the U.S. Army itself -- and resistance will be totally futile. Still, Steinbeck will prepare you for the abject helplessness, worthlessness, and despair that will dominate the zeitgeist next year, and probably indefinitely.

2. Get to know our friend, the cabbage. Cabbage is cheap and nutritious, and it keeps well. We’re going to be eating a lot of it in the coming months and years. It can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from salads to soups to side dishes to entrees. (I don’t know of any cabbage desserts off-hand, but ingenuity does tend to flower in hard times, so I could end up contributing a few to our national collective cookbook before we reach the other end of this fudgy tunnel.) You say you don’t like cabbage? Too fucking bad. The near future will be no time for picky eaters. Unless you are comfortable with starvation.

3. Make peace with your mom and dad. Or your inlaws, or your sons and daughters, depending on age and circumstance. Because many of us are going to be spending a lot more time with our ... ugh ... families after the shit hits what it's aimed at. Kids (even those of us in our early 40s) will be moving back in with the folks, or the folks will be moving in with the kids. This is really just a reversion to the way we used to live in this country as recently as a few generations ago -- actually, the way many people already do live. I made the mistake of generalizing. I’m talking about primarily white, middle-class, etc. etc. ... well, you know what I mean. Anyway, it’s a good news-bad news situation. The good news: Extended families will be back, along with all the mental health benefits that seem to accompany that arrangement. The bad news: Extended families will be back, along with all the mental illness that seems to accompany that arrangement.

Meta: Now With Extra Twittiness

Because we at CBRAT World HQ® are nothing if not way into last year's online fads, we've added "Twitter Updates" to the sidebar (below the "Previous Posts" and above the "Archives" listing). You can also click the link to get twitty with STD Pete Moss, should you so desire.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Dahl downsized ... and not by Seattle Sutton

During my early adolescent years (right now being my "late, protracted, seemingly never gonna end" adolescence), which I'd peg roughly as 1979 through 1986 or so, I was an insane Coho-lipped follower of Chicago radio's El Jefe scumbag worm-meat idiot, Steve Dahl.

And aside from a few law-school-and-afterwards years in Champaign-Urbana when I couldn't pick up the signal (part of that time was the era of the amplitude modulation "Loop" on AM 1000 -- complete with Ed Schwartz overnights -- when I could tune it in, kind of weakly -- but when he was on FM, no way), I kept listening. There have been ups and downs (notable down: the ESPN 1000 phase, with Bruce Wolf, which was mostly a down because I was practicing law in Ottawa, Illinois, newly married, totally miserable, and catching only about 10 minutes of the show a day on the way to the second worst job I've ever had), but being generally nostalgic, I stuck with him. Sided with Dahl when Meier quit, bounced from station to station and time slot to time slot.

I lost a lot of enthusiasm during the moribund "Dave and Joy" years, but I thought the show picked up a lot of steam when Buzz Kilman took their place ... because Buzz Kilman is my personal hero. Guru, really. But I digress.

I've had problems with some of the twists and turns ... I was bummed when Wendy Snyder was fired, even though I got a ridiculous number of hits from blogging about it ... and I was never particularly interested in all the TV gadget coverage in latter years. But, by and large, some 20-plus years of listening was has been worth it. [Edit made because, dammit, he's not dead; just enduring another interruption in transmission.]

For one thing, Dahl is responsible for my cultivating interest in a bunch of fine songwriters, whose work I was aware of, but who I'd never have gotten to know as people so well without Dahl's show. Such as Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, and Jim Peterik. Not to mention Joe Walsh.

Same thing with comedians -- Andy Kaufman and John Belushi were frequent guests on Dahl's show ... and Dahl's show was where I first heard about Belushi's death. His interview with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas during their promotional tour for the "Bob and Doug" movie fit in perfectly with my SCTV fixation at the time.

Lately I've been more or less a casual listener, but in those "early adolescent" years, I was pretty well obsessed. I used to listen to the Steve & Garry show every day after school, from the moment I got home until sign-off at 7:00. I taped hours of the show on my crappy K-Mart tape machine, and listened to the tapes over and over. Celebrity Jeopardy (Ozzy Osbourne ... Marcus Palmer's "Omar Sadat" crack-up). Blues News. "Ayatollah" (and "We have no Chicken Kentucky!"). "Skylab." "Falklands."

In those WLS-FM (94.7) days, Steve & Garry were controversial for their irreverent, sometimes taste-questionable take on news events -- but, for me, the show was the first place I turned for much needed "coping through laughter" therapy when world tragedy struck. When the space shuttle blew up in 1986, Dahl was off the air at the time, between gigs, and I missed him.

When I say I was obsessed, I mean I was obsessed. When he and Garry did a remote broadcast from the "Snowshoe Saloon" at Six Flags Great America, I had a season pass to the park (just a couple miles down the road from my house), so I hung out and watched them do the entire show, like a miniature stalker. Still have my high school ID with Dahl's autograph on the back from that day.

I used to try to phone in a lot, but I could never get through. The show was hella popular then. It took effort. But I succeeded one time, on a Saturday -- Steve and Garry were still doing six days a week then -- when I was about 14. When I heard Dahl's voice on the other end, I felt a shock of realization that I didn't actually have anything to say, so I dived into my standard repertoire: bitching and moaning.

Me: Your station is so boring! I used to be an insomniac before I tuned in! You play the same songs over and over!

Dahl: Oh yeah? Well, we know something you don't--

Me: [interrupting] I'm surprised!

Dahl: You're a little smartass! Anyone ever tell you that? Now, just listen!

Me: OK.

Dahl: The reason we play those songs over and over is because the polar ice caps are expanding, and we're about to have another ice age. We're going to be buried under glaciers! Then there won't be any entertainment. Everything's going to be destroyed. The only thing to do for entertainment will be to sing songs ourselves. So we're doing you a service.

Me: [vague and twerpy protesting and scoffing]

Dahl (or Meier, I forget): OK, well, let's test you. Can you sing the Go-Gos, "Our Lips Are Sealed"?

Me: Yeah!

And I gave it a shot. I crooned most of the first verse before I screwed up. "See!" Dahl said. "You're not prepared yet!" And then they played the Go-Gos record. And after that, David Bowie & Queen's song, "Under Pressure," which Meier intro'd as "Under Glacier."

I have that on tape somewhere ... with a couple backup dubs, so I expect it still exists. Maybe I'll digitize it and find a way to post it ... if I can stand the embarrassment of my voice, which hadn't quite changed yet into the manly baritone it is today.

I played the tape later that evening for my mom, who still proudly tells people that "Steve Dahl called my son a smartass!"

Which is as good a punchline as any with which to wrap this up. Cuz CBS canned Dahl, and his last show was today. Heard it on the car radio on the way to the office this morning. He has a couple years left under contract, so he could be off the air for a while, but I know he'll be around in one medium or another, and I expect he'll be on the air again someday. Until then, thanks, Stever. Thanks muchly.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

White Hot Sox Stove Report: The "Plus, He Can Throw Out Base-Stealers While Drinking a Glass of Water" Edition

Sox GM (the non-bankrupt kind) Ken Williams on catcher Tyler Flowers, who was just acquired in the "Javy Vazquez & Boone Logan to the Braves for four young guys nobody has ever heard of, plus an enormous feeling of relief that Javy and Boone are not pitching for the Sox anymore" trade that just happened:

"I've seen him now for seven or eight times in the Arizona Fall League. I think this guy is going to be an All-Star catcher."

Well, I'll give Williams credit for, as Joe Morgan would put it, "concetrating" on the relevant details.

Because all I can think of when I see the name Tyler Flowers is that both his names are the last names of has-been celebrity ventriloquists -- Willie Tyler (of Willie Tyler and Lester fame) and Wayland Flowers (the human -- and, alas, dead -- half of Wayland Flowers and Madam).

Totally distracting. And the creepiest Sox-and-ventriloquist connection since this.


Some of you ("you" meaning, in this case, literally, "people who are not me") may have heard of also-included-in-this-tradester, Brent Lillibridge, who has had some major league experience ... I guess.

Anyway, Tribune say:

Williams said that Brent Lillibridge will serve in a super-utility role that Pablo Ozuna performed for 3 1/2 years, but that Lillibridge had a bigger upside.

Uh, I think they left an "f" off of that compound adjective describing what Ozuna did.

Actually, I always liked Ozuna (much like Tessio always liked Mike Corleone), but business is business, so I couldn't let that easy joke go by.

Also ... heh heh, he said "bigger upside." Heh heh. Heh heh heh.

That one writes itself.