Saturday, December 31, 2011

D-O-D-G-E-R-S

This is a two-part post. Part one is that my last post with the Steve Somers video led me to this, posted by a WFAN listener, in which Somers played an old song by Danny Kaye in tribute to his beloved Los Angeles (nee Brooklyn) Dodgers. It's a little hokey but a lot of fun, and mentions one Vincent Edward Scully (the true broadcasting pride of Fordham and everyone else pales in comparison). Chris Erway, he a fan of the once-and-always Bums, should like this.


Part two was a message I got from a friend the other day. His mother-in-law passed away a short time ago and among her possessions was a model of Ebbets Field - the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. I knew his mother-in-law, a fine woman who raised a wonderful person and knew her baseball very well. I forgave her transgression of being a - blech - Mets fan, and normally scoffed at her when she would mock the 27-time World Champions because, well, just because. Best to let the Mets fan have their moment because it is normally oh-so-fleeting.

Anyway, my friend asked if I would like the Ebbets Field model. Now, granted, I'm hardly a Dodgers fan. I would have detested them when they played in Brooklyn. I wasn't even alive in 1955, but the fact that they beat the Yankees in seven games that year eats at me. I obviously didn't like them a lot in the 70's and despised them after they won the 1981 World Series (and thus Bobby Ray Murcer was only able to show me an American League Championship ring when I met him). I couldn't stand Tommy LaSorda and the whole "wine and cheese" feel of Dodger Stadium. I cringe every time a politically-correct shot of Jackie Robinson is put on the screen as if to say "Hey! We're equal opportunity. See?!" In fact, the Great Scully is about the only thing I love about the Dodgers.

But...

I also love baseball (oh there's a news flash for you). I love the history. And yeah, I kind-of-sort-of-maybe have a big connection to Brooklyn these days. And yes, Donald Arthur "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly* is their manager now.

So I said I would be honored to take it. And I am. Honored to remember a departed friend, one who was passionate for the game. Certainly to honor the history.

I'm quite pleased that they thought of me. And hey - if a Ted Williams ornament can hang on my Christmas tree, then an Ebbets Field model can sit on my shelf.

* I'm convinced that if Ron Santo can make it to the Hall of Fame, then there is definitely hope for Donnie Baseball. It's clear the standards have changed. Sorry to irritate Cubs fans**, and I'm not saying this to do so, but it is becoming the Hall of Very Good, even Quite Good. It might even be, at times, the Hall of Fame of Great People, who were also Very Good Baseball Players (see: Kirby Puckett and by all accounts, Ron Santo). The excuse on Mattingly will be that he didn't play long enough, and he didn't. So now we must hope for excellence as a manager. Just not with the Dodgers.

** I just watched Catching Hell, the story of Steve Bartman and the 2003 National League Championship. Wow, that was not exactly a great moment for Cubs fans (and reminded me just how badly Red Sox fans behaved after the Bill Buckner affair of 1986). Shame on them, and others who behave so egregiously.

Could Mike Francesa Save Christmas? What?

My friend Richie Spezzano sent this along. A little parody of your fancy WFAN in New York City and don't forget the ONE-eight-seven-seven-three-three-seven-six-six-six-six (that's how Steve Somers presents the phone number).

I thought this was quite funny.


Of course hearing Steve Somers being parodied in the video made me long for the real thing! If you've never heard him, then you just need to listen and give him a a chance. Here's our guy, the former "Captain Midnight" who should be doing middays or something else to take some of the stink out of the radio these days (what is it already?).


That was from 2007. Anything has to be better. I mean, for the love of Keith Jackson, Ryan-bleeping-Ruocco called the Pinstriped Bowl yesterday. What is it that this guy has on the execs at ESPN? Is he Michael Kay's illegitimate son? I just don't know! Add it to the "things I don't get" list.

Happy...er...New...uh...Year


I don't normally speak those words - "Happy New Year." Jeez, I think my hands went numb as I typed them.

But I'm trying. It's still one of those things that needs to be on my "I don't get it" list, but so be it. It's arbitrary to me. But I have hopes for 2012. The biggest thing - for me - is to continue to move forward. Consider where things were just a few years ago. I just went back and looked at each post to finish out the year - dating back to 2006, when I didn't even say anything about the New Year, just the death of Saddam Hussein. None of them were anything special, and perhaps a little too self-loathing.

We all know today/tonight is overrated. But as with anything, it's what you make of it. Plus it's who you spend it with. I've had New Year's Eve that have - to be blunt - sucked. I've had other years that I enjoyed - like going with Mick and Gretchen to Sharon and Tom's house in 2009/2010. Despite being sick, it was a very nice night. And low and behold, 2010 became a pretty OK year in that I met someone really important.

Not saying that was the reason. Just...saying. Besides, Mick still takes rightful credit for being the person who got me to meet that person.

I'm babbling.

Anyway, tonight Facebook and Twitter will be loaded with many "HNY's" across the web. I'm beating everyone to the punch.

I'm hopeful for 2012. Hopeful for continued improvement. Hopeful for good health and peace for all. Hopeful to get closer to what and where I want to be. Excited for a road trip in about 10 days (if everything comes together). Of course, that could happen any day - why does it need to start tonight?

See? I still don't get it. And why did we take Auld Lang Syne, a song which had NOTHING to do with New Year's Eve and let Guy Lombardo eff the damn thing up?

Oh let's not end it like that. Let's end it with the love that I feel for all of you for reading this blog (and ever so much as giving a whit about me), and for caring when I don't write. This was a year personal growth and rebirth. I wrote less but chose my words and topics more carefully (plus I was so busy that I often didn't have time). This was a year of triumph and sadness. A year of whacky weather. Of San Diego and Los Angeles and so much more.

In a lot of ways, it was like any other year. And yet, I want more in 2012. I hope you do too.

Happy New Year to you all. May you find what it is you want.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. John Lennon. Given the chance, this is what I would sing tonight at midnight.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Songs

I've really not been into the many Christmas (and holiday) songs this year. Maybe I've just grown tired of hearing the same old stuff, or I just wasn't into the season.

Whatever. Rolling Stone asked their readers to list their faves. The results are here.

I recently asked two different people (both female) about the Mariah Carey song "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and they both independently agreed that not only do they love it, but they otherwise loathe Carey. Admittedly it gave me a new take on the song, but it still doesn't mean I personally like it.

I don't have enough time to simply break down my top tunes, but you can't go wrong with these:

- Do They Know It's Christmas (Band Aid)
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Bruce Springsteen)
- Step Into Christmas (Elton John)
- Happy Christmas (War is Over) (John and Yoko)
- Wonderful Christmastime (Paul McCartney)
- Father Christmas (The Kinks)
- Run Rudolph Run (Chuck Berry)
- Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses)
- The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole)
- Please Come Home For Christmas (The Eagles)
and, this amazing song that not many people in this country know
- Fairytale of New York (The Pogues & Kirsty McColl)


There are others that are purely goofy and remind me of simpler times ("The Chipmunk Song" or the Singing Dogs doing "Jingle Bells"), or Huey Lewis and the News doing "Winter Wonderland" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" but this quick list hits the notes for me. I'm missing a few, but it's late. I have to go to bed now.

Dear Santa


Dear Santa,

I just wanted to write to say thank you for what you do for my little boy. He is a blessing, and while I'm sure you can't take responsibility for who he is (I suppose I deserve at least a little credit and/or blame for that), I think you still deserve a nod for keeping his belief strong. He hasn't been bitten by the skepticism that most nine-year-old's allow to happen.

He diligently spoke of you this evening, wondering aloud about whether we would get home before you arrived (we did), and what he would write in his letter to you. If it was an act, he was putting on a performance worthy of Laurence Olivier. At home, before I could even get upstairs, he had already changed into his pajamas and cleaned up the living room. Only you have the power to make that happen without badgering him.

He thought hard about his letter to you. In the car, he discussed if he should ask you about your boot size. Ultimately he passed on that question but opted for your thoughts about M&M's. He also considered what you wanted to drink. Maybe a Vitamin Water? No - he figured you might want some water, given that so many other kids leave beer or milk for you. His thinking what that water would keep kidney stones away. He saw me suffer with that last year and didn't want you to meet the same fate. Soon he was tucked away in bed.

I know he is a "young" nine, in that there is a wondrous amount of naivete in him. That's a blessing and a curse, but I love that innocence. Especially tonight, as you can imagine.

We did our best this year, you and I. He won't be thrilled with the clothes portion of his gifts (no kid ever is) but I hope he appreciates the other goodies. He's still too young to grasp the concept of simply wishing for health and happiness, and I read the look on his face when we gathered with our family this evening and the amount of packages thrust in front of him paled in comparison. He simply isn't at the point of understanding quantity versus quality, or getting the "true meaning of Christmas", or that having love of family and friends is enough. Believe me, he has an abundance of that.

With all of that said, I know he won't read this, so I can tell you out loud (and then again, you being omnipotent, you already know) that I bought him a Trivial Pursuit game based on the TV show Family Guy. Some uptight, Parents magazine-reading parent will no doubt condemn me to being the worst parent since the most recent bad parent, but I'll live with it. For us, it is an important father/son point of bonding. The show was something that helped bring us together during some rough times. We sat together, in my room, and watched the show. To him it's a cartoon, and as I've already mentioned, he is quite naive (as was I around the same age). Most of the jokes go over his head. Beyond that, we have an understanding about not repeating what we see. It's our little thing. Sorry if that offends some of my readers, but I think you understand.

I'm sorry for these rambling thoughts, but I wanted to reinforce that you have a very strong believer sleeping upstairs. That seems rare to me, as too many kids - especially the tougher, more jaded ones - want to ruin it for others. He believes in you and it is touching to see. He won't always, but like most of us, he'll come back.

We all do.

Merry Christmas, and thank you.

Love,
Rob

Saturday, December 24, 2011

HLN's Christmas Message (and Mine too)

The music of Huey Lewis and the News. The words of the bands' drummer, the one-and-only Bill Gibson. Nicely done. Watch.



Peace on Earth.

My Christmas message is pretty much the same. I hope for health, happiness, and peace. I would love to see an end to war, but since some of this planet have been at it for roughly 3000 years or so, I'm a little skeptical of that. None the less, we can always hope.

I'm not looking for gifts. I only care about the love and safety of my family and friends, whom I am so fortunate to have many of. Plus I'm beyond lucky to have Carrie in my life.

That's basically it.

Oh yeah, and a Steelers win today would be nice, and 24 hours of A Christmas Story. And maybe a starting pitcher to solidify the Yankees' rotation...

Just kidding. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some George Harrison Music

Unless you're new to the blog, you probably know that I own as much of The Beatles' music as possible - within reason. I also own some of their solo work - plenty of Paul's and some of John's.

None of Ringo's. Yet.

As of last night, I finally have some of George's.

Now, I went the easy route and picked up a "best of", specifically, Let It Roll: songs by George Harrison. It hits the many of the highlights of George's post-Beatles years, with a few exceptions, most notably his work with the Traveling Wilbury's.

Overall, I'm fairly pleased. Plus once downloaded, it makes for part of a nice playlist on my iPod, with George's Beatles work and the Wilbury's included. Overall, a solid little Christmas present for me!

It's hard to pick just one song from this collection, but this will do. This is George's tribute to John, with a little help from both Ringo and Paul (as well as Linda McCartney and Denny Laine).


And Ringo - you're next!

The Beatles Albums

Coming your way via iTunes. In a mere 30 seconds.


And since they used just a touch of "Magical Mystery Tour" in the spot, and since I've had this song in my head recently, let us bring you a full version of it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MLB Changes

It would be too easy to add on to the misery that is the life of a New York Mets fan these days (more loans, Johan Santana might not be ready for Opening Day, etc), so we'll just let that be. I have my thoughts on that franchise and they're not popular.

So let's move on and proceed to this article from the AP, via ESPN. It outlines the changes in the new MLB CBA. The league is growing up. I suppose that's OK. None of this was really too eye-opening to me. Read for yourself and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Few Beatles Vids

God-like radio figure Bruce Figler (OK, so he's a good guy) posted this video on Facebook tonight - what exactly would the Fab Four look like today (yes, assuming they were all still alive)?


That video led me to this. I knew that Macca played at Ritchie's 70th birthday concert, but I hadn't seen any video. Until now. W-o-w. It sounded fantastic.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Father


My Dad would have been 82 today. No doubt we would have watched the Army-Navy game later today, as we always did.

That is all.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Lists - We Love Them

It's fairly well-known around Exit 55burgh* that I'm a fan of lists. They, as always, make for good discussion and blood-pressure raising. So it was that Carrie passed along a list of lists that were in email she received.

* Which is an exit past that city where James Harrison did something so bad in last night's win over the Browns that even I can't defend. I mean, come on man! This leading with your helmet thing is just bad!

GQ presents the 25 LEAST Influential People Alive! Heck even Bono made this list. Personally I think Chuck Schumer should be on here...oh wait, he inspires me to have near-heart attacks every time I hear him on the radio because some poor reporter needs a friggin sound byte.

Here's The Worst Sentence of 2011, courtesy of The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. You mean it didn't involve the Kardahsian's?

My son would probably enjoy seeing the Ten Weirdest Life-forms of 2011 from National Geographic. Apparently Tim Tebow is not one of them. Oooohhh...bad?

US News and World Reports presents America's Meanest Airlines! No. Shock. Here. Alec Baldwin certainly won't be surprised.

For you book lovers, we have the Best Science Books (Confessions of a Science Librarian), Top Five Book Club Picks (NPR), and the Ten Best Books of 2011 (New York Times).

I've heard The Art of Fielding is fantastic, by the way. Just in case you don't know, I'm sort of, you know, a baseball fan. Even if this isn't really a baseball book - and yet, it is. Just sayin'.

For some reason, Forbes gives us Thailand's 40 Richest. Since I doubt you'll ever see that sentence again here, I had to write it. It's just too funny.

Travel+Leisure presents the World's Best Hotels for 2011. I'm going to be realistic here with y'all. I stayed in the US Grant Hotel in San Diego back in January. I'm fairly certain it was in my top-10, if not top-5 of my lifetime. If things break correctly, I'm going to Charleston in January, and I suspect that hotel may also be in that group. In short, I don't normally stay in the top places. I like nice hotels - but within reason. The Hyatt Place that Carrie and I recently stayed at in Bethlehem, PA was quite cool. Yes...Bethlehem, PA. Via Priceline. Sweet.

So this list - of hotels in Tanzania, South Africa, and other places that aren't exactly on the ol' radar - didn't quite hold it for me. That said, the places are quite interesting.

The 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011 from BuzzFeed. Simply awesome.

I'm just giving you a small sample of the many lists out there. Here are a few more:

Auto Correct is often my biggest enemy. Damn You Auto Correct presents the 25 funniest.

From Pitchfork comes the 25 Worst Album Covers (NSFW). Yep.

Busted Coverage selected the 70 Most Memorable Sports Moments (in photo form).

Courtesy of Draft Magazine comes America's 100 Best Beer Bars. Drink up!

List and Grades gives us the Ten Worst TV Shows.

Well I think we've got the idea here. There's a list for everyone.

And when all else fails, we need more COWBELL! The 12 Most Toptastic Cowbell Rock n' Roll Songs! Even The Beatles made this list, so it's ALL GOOD.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Off-Site: Bobby Valentine

(Photo: Adam Hunger/Reuters)

After a dreadful month of non-writing in November (only 10 posts?!), I'm hopefully ramping back up. Here's a post I did for the Big Fat Marketing Blog on Bobby Valentine's potential impact in New England.

Holy cow, I think this hiring is inspired. Will it produce on the field? I think it will eventually. That's normally the problem - Bobby V's shelf-life. Off the field, I like him. He's been very nice to me each time I've been around him.

On the field?

He's the Red Sox manager. He was the Mets manager. Do I need to say anymore?

The Boss's Best Collaborations

This is old, but I read it just now. Some good stuff here, via Rolling Stone. A couple of personal favorites are his get-together's with Neil Young...er...Jimmy Fallon, Melissa Etheridge on a great "Thunder Road", the supergroup of Bruce, Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Little Steven doing "London Calling" at the '03 Grammys, and joining R.E.M. for "Man on the Moon."

Cool stuff. Enjoy.

A Strong Headwind (Giggity)

I saw this episode of Family Guy last night. Positively hysterical - from Peter's fascination with the "Redneck lifestyle" following his attending a comedy show similar to the "Blue Collar Tour" of years ago, to the "Prom Night Dumpster Baby", to Mayor Adam West's Bush-like reaction to a plane crash, to Quagmire dancing down a hill a la Melissa Gilbert in Little House on the Prairie.

Yet the scene that might crack me up the most is this simple 26 second bit.


Just. Because.