Baseball is Coming!

In just a few days, the 2016 baseball season will begin. So all the sports magazines and websites will soon be publishing their predictions (if they haven’t already) on what the final standings will look like. I cannot add anything to what they’re saying (most of what I could say will just be a rehash anyway), but I can still muse on what we might see in the upcoming months.

Can the Royals and Mets repeat?

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Respecting Baseball

So there’s been a lot of talk during Spring Training this year about “showing respect for the game” – whatever that means. Usually, it’s the Old School Traditionalists decrying the number of bat flips and fist pumps, insisting that showing a little emotion during a game is an offense to the other team, the fans, and everyone who ever had anything whatsoever to do with professional baseball. Naturally, a lot of younger players disagree, saying that they should be allowed to have fun on the job. Baseball is too stuffy and old-fashioned to attract many new fans….

Now I don’t like the showboating that’s far too common in football and basketball, but there’s no reason that baseball players have to be soulless robots.

Just keep in mind a few rules when celebrating….

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Book Review: Time Salvager

Time Salvager
Wesley Chu
Tor Books
(c) 2015 by the author

Several centuries in the future, the Solar System is dominated by a handful of corporations. Civilization is fading, thanks to what seems to have been an almost non-stop parade of wars and disasters. A quasi-independent organization controls access to time travel, and uses it to plunder the past for technological assets that would have otherwise been lost or destroyed.

James Griffin-Mars, our protagonist, is one of the “chrononauts” who dive back in to the past, risking life and limb to scoop up those artifacts. On one mission, he has a crisis of conscience about leaving people in the past to die…

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Happy Irish-American Day!

Many, many years ago, some friends invited me to join them in a visit to a nearby Irish pub for St. Patrick’s Day. Seems it was a *real* Irish pub – they were hosting a small band who were actually *from* Ireland that night. Beer, good music, and friends? What’s not to like?

The only thing that stayed with me these many years is that at some point, a couple of older (much older – we’re talking senior citizens here) people came in. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but one of the ladies in the group kept asking the band to play “Danny Boy”. Every time, they begged off, claiming they didn’t know it, maybe later, and the like. Eventually, that group left.

I think the problem was that “Danny Boy” isn’t really considered an Irish song (the lyrics were written by a Brit, and the music – the Londonderry Air – takes its name from a county in Northern Ireland). Rather, it’s an Irish-American one, adopted by expatriates in the United States. It’s a fine song, but it’s probably as Irish as green beer, those cheap green plastic hats that get sold in early March, and most people who wear a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirt.

I think of St Patrick’s Day not so much as an Irish holiday, but as an Irish-American one, in the same manner that Columbus Day is an Italian-American holiday, and Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican-American one. The days don’t mean that much in their “home” countries; it’s only here that we use them as an excuse to party get a day off from work celebrate those people’s contributions to American culture.

(Yes, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, but I’d say that Easter Monday is rather more important for that nation.)

I would like to think that in the years since that pub visit, Americans have become rather more acquainted with “real” Irish music and culture. Below the “More” line, you’ll find an annotated playlist of some Irish performers singing real Irish music. Give it a listen – if you don’t, I won’t care. I’ll just pour myself a glass of Powers and read “Darby O’Gill and the Good People“….
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How Low Can You Go?

The references to the size of certain body parts in the recent Republican “debate” are causing many to sigh in despair over how low the political campaign has gotten. We’ve also seen a candidate deliberately spread falsehoods about an opponent’s staying in the race and send out misleading – at best – “get out the vote” flyers. ThisĀ  presidential campaign seems to be filled with all manner of nastiness, and we’re only getting started.

Ah, for the good ol’ days, when campaigns were matters of decency, fairness, and dignity….

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Movie Review: Killdozer (TV movie, 1974)

When you see the basic description – a bulldozer is taken over by an alien entity and starts attacking a construction crew – you’re going to suspect that this is a pretty crappy movie. When you find out that it was made for television, you’re going to figure it’s another lump of crud from the SyFy Channel (or whatever the heck they are calling it these days), and give it a miss.

Well, that’s not entirely fair. Back in the 1970s, in the heyday of the made-for-TV-movie, the networks took them seriously. They were crucial elements of the Ratings War between the three networks. Some of them launched their own series (Columbo, The Night Stalker), some launched careers (Duel), others can still stand up to the best that Hollywood has to offer (Brian’s Song, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark). Whatever you could say about them, they were all at least competently made. Experienced actors and professional crews knew what they were doing, and they had writers who didn’t pander to the lowest common denominator.

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