Archive for July, 2010

Can’t tell the name by the lyrics

July 27, 2010

Led Zeppelin wrote a lot of songs whose titles didn't match the lyrics.

Just a music list idea that’s been kicking around in my head for some time … and you can pitch in.

And the list is songs whose complete titles aren’t mentioned in the song. And the titles have to be organic – not overly contrived, wiseass, too-hip-and-clever-for-school, so you won’t find any Panic! At the Disco songs here. And it should go without saying that instrumentals don’t count, either.

One kinda famous band leads the league here, but there are others. So I’ll start this list off, songs in alphabetical order, and you can add to it at will – this is in no way a definitive list. Let’s see what you and I come up with:

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So let me introduce … my Blogroll!

July 26, 2010

So if you’re new to the blog world, you might look down the right column of my page and see the header “Blogroll” and a bunch of sites listed beneath.

So who are these people and why are they there?

Well, Blogroll, of course, is wordplay off of “log roll,” one of the basic fundamentals of politics — as in “I’ll roll your log if you’ll roll mine.” Except there’s nothing political about my Blogroll. These people mostly friends who have pretty cool blogs, too, and you really should give them a read sometime.

So here’s the roster, in alphabetical order:

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Yet another psychic blow for Cleveland: RIP Lou Brown

July 20, 2010

James Gammon as one of the most successful managers in Indians history, Lou Brown.

The city of Cleveland, already reeling from the losses of LeBron James and one of its most unique native sons, Harvey Pekar, suffered another psychic blow this past week: The loss of beloved former Indians manager Lou Brown.

Actually, it was the guy who played the Tribe’s gruff, kind-hearted, paternalistic manager in the two “Major League” films, James Gammon.

Gammon had a cool career as a rugged, rough-edged guy: TV Westerns, “Cool Hand Luke,” “Natural Born Killers,” Nash Bridges’ father. And on stage, he founded the Met Theatre in Los Angeles, and eventually became Sam Shepard’s go-to guy in several of his most notable plays:”Curse of the Starving Class,” “A Lie of the Mind,” “The Late Henry Moss” and a Tony-nominated star turn in “Buried Child.”

But as someone who was an Indians fan from the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s — including ’87, the year Sports Illustrated said the team would win the pennant, then they went out and lost 105 games — it warmed my heart to see a film where the Tribe went out and won the damn pennant, even if it was a far-fetched fantasy. (And it was equally heart-warming to hear X’s version of “Wild Thing” in the film.)

And Lou Brown was the guy who managed to turn the wackiest ship in the majors into the greatest rags-to-riches sports story of all time.

Who else could have put up with the superstitious, voodoo-practicing slugger Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert)? Or the vain third baseman, Roger Dorn (Corbin Bernsen), who didn’t get the memo that his career was on the downside? Or the creaky-kneed catcher, Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), trying to coax one last season out of those knees? Or the no-hit, no-run speed diva, Willie Mays Hayes (Wesley Snipes)? Or the biggest headcase of the bunch — pitcher Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen), straight out of the California correctional system, nicknamed “Wild Thing” with good reason? (Think “Juuuuuust a bit outside!”)

Lou Brown was the one person in baseball who could make these losers believe in themselves. (Well, him and the evil owner who deliberately put together the shittiest team in the history of baseball in the hopes she could move the Tribe out of Cleveland … to Miami …) And baseball/movie fans are a little richer for having had Gammon play that role so well. And the city of Cleveland is juuuuuust a bit poorer this week …

Love those fortune cookies, Part 4

July 18, 2010

Well, I realized that I hadn’t been to the cheap sushi/sashimi bar at the Chinese buffet in two weeks, and I hadn’t gotten a decent fortune in even longer.

Well, I took care of both tonight — much to the dismay of my stomach, which isn’t used to taking in anywhere near mass quantities anymore.

So here’s what my fortune said:

“Don’t play for safety — it’s the most dangerous thing in the world.”

Not much safe to my life at the moment …

George? Yes, God? You’re fired! Hey — that’s my line! (George Steinbrenner, 1930-2010)

July 14, 2010

The man just had to go and steal the headlines one last time, didn't he? Photo: AP

The guy always had to be on the back pages of the tabloids, y’know? He just couldn’t help himself! George Steinbrenner always had to command all the attention.

Why is this so appropriate? Two days after the passing of one of the classiest and longest-serving of Yankees, 99-year-old Bob Sheppard — and on the morning of the All-Star Game! — George had to go and grab all the headlines one last time.

This time, it was God doing the firing and George, for once, on the receiving end. It’s just funny. Whoever says God doesn’t have a sense of humor doesn’t appreciate the cosmic comic timing behind this.

(And, in a case of morbid symmetry: My previous two posts were tributes to a longtime Yankee and a man from Cleveland. Steinbrenner was a longtime Yankee from Cleveland.)

George Michael Steinbrenner III, born on the Fourth of July 1930, was a one-of-a-kind Yankee Doodle Dandy. Thank God.

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Off the streets of Cleveland for good (Harvey Pekar, 1939-2010)

July 13, 2010

Harvey Pekar with the poster of the "American Splendor" film with Paul Giamatti playing him.

“Harvey was one of the most compassionate and empathetic human beings I’ve ever met. He had a huge brain and an even bigger soul. And he was hilarious. He was a great artist, a true American poet and there is no one to replace him.”

— Paul Giamatti, to PopEater

How many more psychic blows can the city of Cleveland take?

First, the ongoing economic mess — the steady departure of businesses from the Rust Belt over the decades and the accompanying population decline, to the point where the city on the lake now has fewer people than Fresno.

Then, there’s the sports world. The Indians, whose resurgence in the mid-’90s was a major source of civic pride, have returned to suckdom. The Browns 2.0 have been mired in a sewage plant-deep pile of shit since they were formed 11 years ago, while the original Browns have won a Super Bowl and seem to contend every year.

And, of course, this past Thursday’s “Decision” by Akron product LeBron to bolt the cold of Cleveland, and the possibility of Cavs’ management never, ever being able to put together a winning team around him, for the Heat and the booty calls of Miami and the siren song of a possible championship.

(Every stud athlete has an ego monster inside — that’s part of the package — but I never had him pegged for a raging, 100-foot, ego-tripping ‘Zilla until now. There was no problem with him actually leaving Cleveland; athletes leave cities all the time — it’s the way he did it, and to a down-on-its-luck city that revered him, that was so, so wrong.)

And now, a blow just as cruel, if not crueler: word of the loss of a native son whose very existence screamed CLEVELAND through and through.

Harvey Pekar, creator and star of the greatest underground comic of them all, “American Splendor,” subject of one of my all-time favorite films — a man who achieved greatness through just plain living an everyday life — was found dead by his wife, Joyce Brabner, in their Cleveland Heights bedroom early Monday morning at the age of 70.

Again, how much more can the city take?

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Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please: A moment of silence (Bob Sheppard, 1910-2010)

July 11, 2010

Bob Sheppard, the man Reggie Jackson called "The Voice of God." Photo: AP

In my perfect world, if you live to be 99, you automatically get a free pass to 100.

Well, it’s not my world and it’s certainly not perfect, and twice in the last five weeks, in the sports world, that hasn’t been the case. Now it’s two men who personified excellence but didn’t get to cross into the promised land called Centenary.

The first, of course, was John Wooden, born Oct. 14, 1910, the most influential person in basketball history whose name wasn’t Naismith, who passed on the night of my birthday.

This morning, I woke up to learn that Bob Sheppard, born six days after Wooden — the man whose clipped, precise diction was the platinum standard for public-address announcers, and whose exact, classy tones were part of the Yankee Stadium experience for 56 years — departed this morning from his Baldwin, L.I., home without seeing triple figures, either.

Life is not fair sometimes. But I have a feeling Mr. Sheppard would be the first to rebut me and say that he did have an excellent life.

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Pride follow-up 2: The SF Pride Parade — ‘Look at us!’ vs. ‘Look at me!’

July 10, 2010

Shredded tire? What shredded tire? I still can’t believe I actually made it to the parade in plenty of time.

So I had to do this once. I had to attend the San Francisco Pride Parade. And march in it.

Now that I’m out, and planning to work/live/play up in the Bay Area (that is, if anyone ever hires me again), I had to see for myself the size and scope of the City’s annual gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender celebration. I had to experience the spectacle I’d been hearing about all these years but never really had a vested (so to speak, nyuk nyuk nyuk) interest in.

And this was the 40th SF Pride Parade. And I’d get to experience it from the best seat in the house — on my two feet, walking the dozen or so blocks down the middle of Market Street from Spear to the Civic Center.

This was a big year for the transgendered contingent; for the first time ever, they were placed right behind the Dykes on Bikes (and their bicycle counterparts, the Mikes on Bikes) at the head of the parade. Someone passed around cards at the Trans March and Rally, two days before at Dolores Park, inviting any transfolk interested in marching to arrive on Spear Street, just around the corner from Market, at 10 a.m. to line up for the 10:30 step-off.

I hadn’t planned on marching, but if they were inviting us, then hell, why not? I had never marched in a parade before; could be fun.

So around 6 on the morning of Sunday, June 27, for the second time in three days and the third time in a week, I filled the tank of my ’93 Celica and headed up to the Bay Area — at least to Pleasanton, where I would board the BART to Embarcadero Station, half a block from the line-up point.

This ride truly was about to start. And I do live in interesting times.

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Pride follow-up 1: The Trans March

July 5, 2010

Among the tribe, Dolores Park, San Francisco, June 25, 2010.

It took me a week from hell (namely, a major eruption of unemployment anxiety, triggered by the first throes of a dying car) to finally get up the spirit and the time to write the follow-up to my post a week ago about Pride — the concept of pride as I contemplated going up to San Francisco for both the annual Trans March a week ago Friday (June 25) and the SF Pride Parade last Sunday (June 27).

Well, I attended both. Never a dull moment in my life, and neither day was an exception to that. I don’t know if I really ever have to do any of this again, but I at least experienced it up close — and what I saw both excited and disappointed me.

The Pride Parade will be the next post. First, the Trans March.

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My first letter to The Times

July 5, 2010

Paul Krugman's latest column prompted me to write to The New York Times for the first time. And maybe the last.

One thing I couldn’t do as a working journalist was express my opinions in print — well, except when I was writing a column about music or sports. Journalists aren’t supposed to have opinions, in the name of objectivity.

But I’m not a journalist anymore. Old habits die hard, and it’s taken me this long to finally write a comment to a newspaper.

Why start small? It was The New York Times.

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