Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lunatic theory that seems to make more sense than it should.

While watching Fox Sports Pittsburgh, I noticed they're running this ad for eHarmony, where they show a happy couple reflecting on how there's no way they should have gotten together because he's a Steelers fan and she's a Browns fan. And while they talk about how happy they are, I just keep waiting for the guy to respond to one of her statements with "Yeah, you just keep talkin'." (Yeah, it's the ESPN ad with the Ohio State and Michigan sweatshirts necking, and the caption "If it wasn't for sports this wouldn't be disgusting" all over again.) S'anyway, I just want to file the data away that for when this pops up on the news, a double homicide involving creative use of a towel and a rawhide bone. If it doesn't they're not that passionate fans of the teams and we don't need to see this ad.

And then the mind makes another jump, where could this happen? Certainly not in Cleveland, not in Pittsburgh, it's just too explosive a mix. The only way I could see it working, other than them being both ridiculously displaced from point of origin, is if it's in Youngstown or Sharon (the traditional border checkpoints between Steelers Nation and Browns Nation) And of course that sort of violence is naturally suppressed by the mob's presence there.

So that gets me thinking: For every firmly established rivalry between teams within driving distance, (Now I mean both really nasty, and lasting 50 years or more), does their exist a traditionally mobbed up area which serves as an impulse control buffer zone? The more I looked at the data, the more sense it made. Giants/Eagles and Giants/Redskins have New Jersey. Yankees/Red Sox have Rhode Island. They kept lining up. The only one I can't work out is around Chicago, because I don't know the geography there if there's a preferred direction of bad towns exiting the city. If it's uniform around the city, it solves Bears/Packers, Bears/Lions, Cubs/Cardinals, but I can't determine.

So here's the thing, I recognize it's a completely crackpot notion, and I know it's probably two completely different sets of data that just happen to line up on maps, but I need the counterexample. Can somebody please give me a counterexample?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Comedy Iridium while I wait.

Okay, as I type this they're airing Skyblast the gigundo fireworks display after the Pirates on Fox Sports Pittsburgh. Now to make this extra special they've brought in a band, one that can handle multiple genres. They've brought in Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Now please note, for those of you not aware, everything Me First and Gimme Gimmes do comes out a good bit punk, maybe a little thrash metal, maybe a little ska. None of which ever really entered Pittsburgh's airspace. So they're firing off the fireworks, and then suddenly we cut away to one of the jumbotron between-inning bits asking the Pirates about music. Eventually something a Pirate mentions hits the Gimmes repertory, and they play it. Pirate fans are clearly not prepared for this The first one goes off as a fairly straight opening to Stairway to Heaven, which then accelerates, leaving the audience behind. Now I realize the crowd is not being miked in this, but you can tell. Michael Palin, once describing his appearance on the Tonight Show before Monty Python made it big, described the audience response as having not merely the silence, but "silence then polite applause tinged with fear". This is exactly what I'm seeing and hearing before the next round of fireworks. I'm watching at home realizing others need to know of this. The second cycle comes through, and they do REO Speedwagon. The crowd response seems to be "What did REO Speedwagon ever do to deserve this?" My response, "well whatever it was they've been asking for it for a while." Third cycle, what do you sing at Karaoke? We find out Jack Wilson's answer is Hello by Lionel Richie, which is gonna scar for a while, but they play Sweet Caroline. Goes over about as well as you'd expect not done in Boston. Next we get them asking "what's on your iPod?", leading to Summertime (Doin' Time) by Sublime, which leads to a their live version of Gershwin, followed by the Sublime version on the speakers. The crowd is stunned. Apparently their plan for this was to make the target demographic for this event ME. Shame I'm not there.

Oh god, they just got booed after their version of Rocket Man. You know if they went into Sweet Home Alabama, we might actually have a lynching at second base. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes Ruin Johnny's Baseball Game. Somebody in the promotion department's goin' down.
One summer my family went on vacation up to the Atlantic provinces in Maine. It was a good vacation, no big complaints. The only little complaint I had was dinner. Every restaurant there had as their side vegetable, peas and carrots. By day 8 of this, I was starting to get a little crazy. Still, that was what was in season, so they had to use it. Now they're using frozen peas and carrots to replace gelpacks that would be frozen to keep live lobsters safe for transport, since gelpacks are now scary and well, gel-ly.

On one hand this makes perfect sense. After all, volatile chemicals which could be used in a terrorist attack on an airplane would be well hidden from detection by being either dropped well below their normal temperatures, or physically encased in ice. However, I'm having no luck getting the ridiculous image of "Terrorist crustacean" out of my head.

While I have trouble believing in evil lobsters, I have no such problem believing in evil geese. They're just angry, foul-tempered animals. Pound for pound probably the second-worst temperament in the roster of birds, after hummingbirds (who are like tiny winged badgers, armed with swords, on methamphetamines). I don't eat foie gras myself, but I can appreciate the utility of stuffing them full of food so they aren't out in the streets attempting to nip at people. Now the city of Chicago (which just banned foie gras) has decided, in order to keep the geese off the grass in the park, to spray the grass with a chemical that will cause the geese to have diarrhea, and lots of it. While this would prevent the geese from getting fattened up, it's simply and utterly stupid, as the geese are going to go somewhere, probably on the grass, possibly on the people. Worse, you're loading them up with chemicals so they're going to go off, yes, it's the equivalent of arming the geese. Perhaps the geese would like some fissionable materials while we're at it. Maybe we can put it in a gelpack for them.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Folks have emailed, so why haven't you made any comment about the patron saint of FraughtWatch, Maurice Clarett. Well, frankly, I'm still processing this. The immense majesty of getting caught with guns, a hatchet, Grey Goose vodka, and a lint roller (the four items that the reports of the stop always mention, as well as an excellent set of team names should we send four teams anywhere. Especially after I discovered "Providence Lintrollers" is 21 characters, too long for Yahoo fantasy team names), is just so extraordinary, and now the reasons for carrying guns and a hatchet, fearing for his life because he sold some guy 60% of his rookie contract for favors, only to see that contract have zero value... well, it's just mindboggling. I'm half afraid to look in the direction of Ohio for fear that I'd be struck blind by the intensity of the fraught field being generated.

On January 2, I wrote:
We may have to open up another level of FraughtWatch, because Maurice Clarett is utterly shattering the parameters by which we judge this. Our latest:
robbery. Seriously, at this point, he's reached his limit, the only thing I can see that can top this is escaping the country to Paraguay and then being found attempting to cheat centenarian Nazi collaborators out of their canasta winnings. And of course it would fail as a bystander would recognize him.

This is still possible for him, now that he's connected and apparently indebted to the Israeli Mafia, they might just send him down there to do it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Serious: I love the unintended consequences that the automatic checkout has wrought.

Silly: I'm a bit concerned that the panda depicted here wearing a crown is doing a Lyndie, or as much as one could do sans opposable thumbs.

Surreal: Plans to put a space center on 300 acres of Cape Breton Island. I've been up there, and I'm rather curious what you could launch on so little territory. You can't just strap a rocket engine on a puffin and call it a space program. Well you could call it that, but you'd never get insurance.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I am losing my skills. How did I miss the fact that a Paraguayan dictator died. I'm completely having a Herman Melville moment, I could have sworn Stroessner died in the mid 90's. Yet there he is. Gah.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How I'm going to know if the casino's actually run with a modicum of sense.

The local racetrack in Washington County is destined to get a slots license. (Not because of any particular excellence of location, management, or otherwise, it's just that they created seven licenses for slots casinos attached to racetracks when they started this whole venture, and there's only six tracks in the state.) I was up there on Saturday, my annual trip to the Adios (noted in your guide to the statewide slots debacle, the "Casino Journal" here, as something that could be a big thing in two years, which would be good, because it got crushed in attendance this year because the Steelers had a pre-season game during it.) Something struck me about this. Payoffs in horse racing are set to go off in increments of 20 cents on standard $2 bets. You can see this as the change piles up there, the cashiers have stacks of dimes and pairs of quarters, but no nickels. Given that the art of any casino's business is the stress-free and painless removal of money from the attendee, (think like a slaughterhouse designed by Temple Grandin,) I have to think that one of the easiest ways to pull this off will be laying a path from the track betting windows to the parking lot filled with dime slots. That's how I'll know they're running this correctly. If I see a single nickel slot anywhere, I'll know they're incompetent. If anybody's at a combination casino/track elsewhere, could you please report back whether this is what's going on. I'd have to think that's standard operating procedure, but given all the bent quirks in the Pennsylvania process, I have no expectation of them following procedures that work.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I must be a strange attractor.

Last Saturday I decided to go out to breakfast to the nearby Greentree Panera. After a nice danish and tea, I noticed that the unsold and remaindered bookstore that had been in the mall closer to Pittsburgh had moved into the Panera complex. Since I hadn't been in a bookstore since the trip to California, I decided to browse, but not purchase.

While wandering the aisles, I didn't really find anything demanding urgent purchase, but I found a couple possibilities. However, my quiet browsing was disrupted by the very loud question of someone who just entered.


Now, the tone of this query was amazing. Not only was he not using his inside voice, he was getting audibly upset, at the lack of books. Specifically, books of Louis Bromfield. Now please note that as I was standing there contemplating this, I sort of knew the name was familiar. But only familiar to me in the sense of "I've seen this name in a literary guide somewhere, but only there. Not in any question I've heard in a tournament, not in practice. Maybe once at best." I had placed him first half of the 20th century, novelist, American. (All of which was later confirmed.) However, given that, and the fact that I couldn't for the life of me come up with a title of a Louis Bromfield book, I became increasingly amazed the question was even asked. I was just a customer, and I knew for sure the answer was no, I had more certainty than the clerk (who from a previous, much less loud conversation with another customer, I knew was only working Saturdays while doing summer classes, and since this had only opened three weeks prior, she had three days experience.) I thought about making comment, this being a remaindered and unsold bookstore, not a used bookstore, and I doubted that he'd been published since the 60's. (Amazon proves me wrong, of course, but it was a good bet.) I decided I didn't need to assert myself into this.

Now five minutes later, I had moved down a row, and I hear the following.

"Sir, I can check the computer but..."

Now please note he was screaming this from the "Literature" section, okay, shelf, and having only been in existence for three weeks, the store hasn't had time to get that far out of alphabetical order. And yet, he is delivering these lines with such a combination of conviction, anger, and offense at having failed his task, my mind is running this scenario through and thoughts like "Great, he's unbalanced AND literate, and if he shoots her, I'm the only hostage he can take. I hope he hasn't seen me." are floating past.

Well, he decides to storm off instead, and I'm left to reflect on this. Possibly this was the craziest random event to pass by me in quite a time. And what put it over the top was this. I'm used to... No let's say I'm familiar...with people acting like borderline psychotics berating people as subhuman for being insufficiently hardcore in literature. It's just I've never been there and not had a buzzer to shut them up with.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Three odd bits from the trip up to Washington to see a Wild Things game:

1. Tomorrow night, they're playing an exhibition match between the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Columbus Crew at the stadium. I still don't understand how they fit a soccer field at a baseball stadium. To promote this, they bring in the Riverhounds mascot. I didn't realize that despite the logo, the mascot is a hound. A basset hound. A very sad looking basset hound. The kind of basset hound that's suffered a team getting dropped from USL First Division to Second Division.

2. On my birthday, Bob Dylan is playing the stadium. Good to know he's still too cool for the county fair circuit (which is going on about a mile away on the same day.)

3. In between and temporally equidistant, the big deal is the folks at Build-A-Bear Workshop is allowing kids the opportunity to build their own fuzzy version of the mascot. I do have to say there's just something awesome about the promotion name. "Build A Thing Workshop" Nothing quite gives me the feeling of "We're way behind on production. Screw quality control, we don't care how bad it looks, just get it done." like the phrase "Build A Thing Workshop." It even has that slight whiff of special education euphemism about it. I may start using this at the office. "C'mon folks, this isn't Build A Thing Workshop here, we gotta get the bugs down."