Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A dollar ain't what it used to be

In light of the current economic crisis, the U.S. Treasury Department has issued a new dollar bill...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farewell to history

I liked what Brian Williams said so much on The Daily Nightly today, that rather than merely link to it, I'm going to save you the step and copy and paste it here...

Watching the last Yankee Game from Yankee Stadium on ESPN with my son last
night -- felt vaguely like the financial news these days. Nobody asked for
what's happening right now in the financial markets. Taxpayers weren't asking
for the burden they've just taken on. Likewise, as they were panning the sad
faces at the end of last night's game, marking the end of the House that Ruth
Built, I was thinking: these fans didn't ask for this. No Yankee fan that I know
was begging...or even hoping...for a new stadium. Bathrooms from this century?
That would be nice. An industry-standard jumbo video screen? Great. A few more
of the amenities baseball fans have come to love at some of the newer parks?
Sure. But the new stadium isn't about the fans (fewer seats at higher prices) as
much as its about the team...player salaries...the owners. But as one
sportswriter put it, "we are the only nation that tears down our own
cathedrals." Aint it the truth.

I enjoyed the broadcast of the game. For a fan like me, there were moments that were quite emotional.

While watching some of the pre-game hoopla with Nolan he was asking me about Monument Park. I showed him some photos I uploaded to Facebook of dad and I visiting the monuments on our last trip to the stadium together.

I told Nolan how he was only 2 months old at the time and that I remembered telling dad that I couldn't wait until he was old enough for me to take him there. Dad advised me not to rush things -- he'll grow up fast enough.

Nolan then looked at the picture of pop and said "That's the past," and clicked forward to a picture of he and I at the stadium, "and that's the future."

"Yup," I said, "Pop went to Yankee Stadium with me, I went with you and someday you'll take your son to the new stadium."

"Or daughter," he was quick to add.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Around the horn

I’ve had several baseball-related thoughts percolating in my head for a few weeks now. These were all originally conceived as separate posts, but I decided lay them all on you at once…

You win some, you lose some
I’m coming to grips with the fact that the Yankees will not make it to the post-season for the first time since 1993.

A number of years ago, I think it was after the 2000 World Series, I wore a Yankee shirt to work and a co-worker (a White Sox fan) asked me, “Don’t you guys ever get sick of winning?” I answered “No,” and explained to him why. For a good part of my youth in the 1980s and early 90s the Yanks were, shall we say, lackluster. I was well aware that dynasties like that only come along once in a generation. I told him that I knew this gravy train wasn’t going to last forever, so I'd enjoy it for as long as I could.

Well it looks like the ride may be over. It was fun while it lasted. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that the Bronx Bombers will be back. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Tampa terrific
So with the Yankees out of the picture, who am I rooting for in the post season? I’ve got to look to Tampa Bay.

I know it may seem odd for a Yankee fan to talk about rooting for an underdog. So sue me.

But as I’ve told friends all summer, taking off my Yankee fan hat and speaking solely as a baseball fan in general, what the Rays have been doing this year has been great for the game and it’s hard not to root for them.

The last couple of weeks, as the Yanks and the Rays faced of, proved a particular moral dilemma for me. The New York fan in me naturally wanted to root for my Yanks in the slim hope that there could still be some sort of playoff chance. But another part of me knew that wasn’t realistic and understood that every Tampa defeat brought Boston closer to first place. Needless to say, I was glad when those games were over.

So when we get to the post season, I guess I’ll be a Tampa Bay fan for October. That is except for one other team…

Joe Torre’s revenge
Last winter I told people that I didn’t mean to wish ill on Joe Girardi and the Yankees, but I thought it would kind of serve the front office right if the Yankees had a bad season while Joe Torre had nothing but success with the Dodgers.

Be careful what you wish for.

As of today the Dodgers are holding a 3.5 game lead in the NL West. Yeah, sure, they probably wouldn’t be there without Manny Ramirez. I guess I’ll have to give you that. But they were doing pretty well before he showed up. I think even without Manny the Dodgers would have been in the playoff conversation at least as a Wild Card if not a division leader.

The point is, for years the knock against Torre from Yankee-haters was that he deserved very little credit for the teams success – that a well-trained monkey could manage a team with Yankees’ all-star roster.

But look what we have now. Without Torre the Yankees are fighting for third place, while Joe is still successful on the west coast. It serves the Yankee suits right for the way they handled Joe’s departure.

Derek Jeter is the real deal
While we’re in the Rodney Dangerfield territory of those who don’t get no respect, there is Derek Jeter. Often I’ve seen him show up on lists of “overrated athletes.”

But he did something great last Sunday when he notched his 1,270th hit in Yankee Stadium, passing a record held by none other than Lou Gehrig – a record no one else will ever possess after the stadium closes for good Sunday night.

Think about all the greats that have stood at that plate – Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, all of the many hall of famers the team has had through the decades – none of them have had as many hits in Yankee Stadium as Derek Jeter.

As if there was any doubt before, Jeter has cemented his place in Yankee lore. He’s going to be the one my kids tell their kids about – the way I’ve told them about Reggie Jackson and my dad told me about Mickey Mantle and Gehrig himself.

Unquestionably, Jeter’s No. 2 will one day be retired by the Yankees. As for the Hall of Fame, I like to think he gets in, but he’s probably not a sure thing. I think there are a lot of people out there who would still try to argue against it. But the Jeter fans now have another piece of ammunition.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From Gepetto's workshop

What will the "imagineers" at Disney think of next?

Disney Lab Unveils Its Latest Line Of Genetically Engineered Child Stars

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mmm...slightly vulgar Mexican food...

There’s a minor controversy in part of Troy where a restaurant is opening up called “Badass Burrito.” One mom who lives nearby is all up in arms, saying the name is horribly inappropriate.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me thinks the name is actually pretty clever (and I do love me my Mexican food). But at the same time, I don’t think I’d want my kids saying “badass.”

I guess I’d just tell the boys, “Don’t say that.” I’m pretty sure one would listen to me and the other still can’t read.

What do you think? Sound off on the badass debate in comments…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tony Clifton rides again

When looking at a list of upcoming concerts and other performances in the Capital Region, I couldn't help but notice Tony Clifton was going to be at Revolution Hall in Troy on Friday night.

Wait a minute. Tony Clifton?!? As in the Andy Kaufman character?

A quick Google search confirmed it is in fact that Tony Clifton coming to our area.

Obviously, it's not Kaufman behind the dark sunglasses. Although some people were apparently duped into thinking Clifton was a real person, the belligerent and somewhat mysterious character was alternately portrayed by Kaufman's brother Michael and comedy partner Bob Zmuda (not to mention Jim Carrey in "Man on the Moon").

Anyway, my Google search also brought me to this video, which I just thought was too bizarre to not post...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Here we go again

I’ve got a theory about presidential elections. There may be nothing to the observations I’ve made recently, but here goes…

We all remember how close the 2000 election was, where George W. Bush won by just five electoral votes. Most of us had never seen a presidential election like that in our lifetime and didn’t expect to ever again.

Then came 2004. Bush defeated John Kerry by 35 electoral votes – not as narrow a margin as his 2000 victory, but still pretty close.

Given the state of things, I thought for sure this upcoming election would be the Democrats’ to lose. But the latest polls show Barack Obama and John McCain deadlocked or even McCain with a slight lead. It looks like another nail biter.

So this will be three really tight presidential elections in a row. There is a whole generation of voters coming up who only know presidential races like this.

But of course they are not all like this. Or at least they didn’t use to be. Recently I was looking at the electoral vote breakdown of presidential elections going back to 1964. Before 2000, the closest margin we had was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford by 57 electoral votes. Outside of that, every presidential race between 1964 and 2000 was decided by a wide majority – the biggest of course being Ronald Reagan’s thumping of Walter Mondale in 1984, 525 electoral votes to 13 (Mondale only took his home state of Minnesota).

So if presidential elections used to be so much more decisive, why aren’t they anymore?

The last clear victory was in 1996 when Bill Clinton easily won a second term over Bob Dole. What’s changed since then to make these races so much tighter? I wonder if it’s the way we get our information about the campaigns.

Think about it. In 1996, CNN was a well-established news operation. But MSNBC and Fox News Channel were in their infancy. The glut of cable news coverage as we know it now didn’t really exist yet, but was firmly in place by 2000.

Talk radio boomed in the late 1990s. Rush Limbaugh paved the way in the early part of the decade. Love him or hate him, his show has been wildly successful and set the stage for the likes of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and countless others who populate the airwaves today.

And of course there is a little thing called the Internet, which has transformed campaigning in ways I can’t begin to describe. Not only is it another source of news for the public, but it’s given candidates a new way to reach out to their supporters – who then can start up all sorts of grass roots efforts on their own.

That’s the biggest change the Internet has brought on. It’s changed the way we communicate about politics with each other. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry can start their own blog to spout off or trade info on Facebook. How many of you heard of Matt Drudge before 1996?

The bottom line, my unscientific observations seem to indicate people are talking and listening more (although maybe they’re not always doing enough of both). I’m not sure if that translates into increased voter turnout. I haven’t researched that. But I think those that do vote are much more opinionated, if not more informed.

So there’s my theory, crackpot thought it may be. Our transforming media culture has in turn transformed presidential politics. Back in 2000, we never thought we’d see a race like that again. Now I’m not sure we’ll ever see a race like 1984 again.

'We have people everywhere'

Check out the awesome, action-packed theatrical trailer for "Quantum of Solace." November 14 can't get here soon enough!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

All aboard!

We now officially have two kids in school. Thomas started kindergarten on Friday.

I was nervous about how we would do getting on the bus. But as you can see here, we had nothing to worry about! He did super.

Kris has some more thoughts on the start of school over on The Rooney Train.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sudden silence

One of the most recognizable voices in a America has passed away. I was very saddened to learn this morning of the passing of voice over master Don LaFontaine.

The name might not ring a bell, but you've certainly heard his voice -- mostly likely on any of the thousands of movie trailers he narrated through the years -- many of them beginning with the words "In a world..."

Although he had been in the voice over business for decades, his face had only recently become recognizable thanks to his appearance in ads for Geico and the New York Lottery.

Don died yesterday from complications of Pneumothorax.

There is a small sample of some of his work on Ain't It Cool News.

Going to the movies (or watching TV for that matter) will never be the same.


Boy, 14 years ago (i.e.: single and with disposable income) there is no way I'd miss this!

From noon Sept. 13 to noon Sept. 14 Proctor's is going to host a 24 sci-fi movie film festival. The event is called "It Came From Schenectady."

The scheduled films range from 50s classics ("Creature From the Black Lagoon," "Forbidden Planet") to contemporary hits ("Blade Runner," "Enemy Mine") to the obscure ("A Boy and His Dog," "Tokyo Gore Police" -- making its North American premiere no less).

At least one slot in the schedule will be filled in by a "viewers choice," which you can vote on at the festival's website. I voted for "Akira," but the vote leader right now is "A Clockwork Orange."