Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Weekend Hi/Lo Lights
The trailer is wrong. It's not about aliens. It's about Marines.
BACK FROM EXILE. We had the family barbecue, cracked rib notwithstanding, and a good time was had by all, most especially our three-year-old granddaughter, who managed to throw a real floating frisbee for the first time. I grilled steak and chicken and everyone said they liked it. Of course they would say that. And I had managed to cut the grass ahead of time, all two acres of it. I'd do a victory lap, but I'm, uh, resting now.`
In other news:
Brizoni has rallied. As I knew he would. Blogging on a regular basis is something like being a ninth-inning closer in baseball. It takes a certain mentality and there's a learning curve involving pressure and go-to-hell ego. He's passed a major milestone. Enough said about that. (If you're interested in 'closers', see also Suits.)
Speaking of baseball. I haven't mentioned the Phillies since they acquired their fourth ace. One of those (Roy Oswalt) is hurt and underperforming, largely due to his homestead having been wiped out by a tornado. But there's a fifth ace, a four-eyed rookie named Vance Worley, who is now 4-1 with the lowest ERA of the starting staff. An important part of the reason the Phils have the best record in baseball. And an unbelievable 3.02 earned run average for the team's starters. Worley and the bullpen registered a two-hit shutout in the July Fourth game. A highlight. Plus, it was announced over the weekend that three Phillies starters -- Halladay, Lee, and Hamels -- have been picked for the NL All-Star team. It had to be so. Anything else would have been a scandal.
A related lowlight. ESPN's highly touted Sunday show, The Sports Reporters, finally noticed the Phillies, but only to compare Cliff Lee and his consecutive scoreless inning streak (three straight shutouts) to their own favorites, who are always in the American league if not the Red Sox or Yankees (who only play each other 50 times a year on ESPN national broadcasts.) A Miami sports reporter named Israel Gutierrez felt compelled to compare Lee unfavorably to Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, because Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball. Huh? He pointed out that Lee is performing a full ERA point better than his career record, whereas Verlander is a threat to throw a no-hitter every time out, and besides, Cliff Lee might not even be the best pitcher on his own team. Hello? ESPN considers itself a sports reporting organization to which facts matter? Facts. Verlander is also performing a full ERA point better than his career record, No-hitter threats? Halladay threw two last year, one of them a perfect game and one a playoff game. btw, Halladay is the best pitcher in baseball. (Loved the two-minute standing ovation he got in Toronto, his old team, on Saturday, before he beat them in a complete game.) Talking career ERAs? Lee , 3.76. Verlander, 3.66. Halladay, 3.27. The question nobody on the panel asked: would you rather have Verlander -- or Halladay, Lee, and Hamels? Hamels has the best ERA on the Phillies full-season starting staff, and Halladay has the most innings pitched, the most complete games, the most wins, the most team wins of games he started, and the most strikeouts in the National League. I am sick, sick, sick of the sports MSM bias for the American League and against the Phillies. Rooting is one thing. But misrepresentation of the facts is another. Cliff Lee is not at all diminished by being the second or third best Phillies pitcher.Verlander is not the best pitcher in baseball because he's marginally better than the second or third best Phillie starter. Okay. I'll stop.
A high and low and something in between on the same subject. Comedy. What with a bit of a backache or so after the Sunday barbecue, I stayed up late and found myself watching standup on the Comedy Channel. Saw a guy named Christopher Titus, who shocked the hell out of me. He was performing in California and busting on today's lax and permissive parents. He described a childhood of his own almost indistinguishable from legal abuse and depicting it as superior to what he sees going on now. Late in the show he confided that his mother and his sister both suffered from schizophrenia and committed suicide. He launhced the show by carrying the American flag on stage and he ended by carrying it, bundled up, away. Was it funny? Not really. But some of his lines got cheered lustily. Which got me thinking about other unfunny comedians who have a message to send. So I did something I've been avoiding: watch the lavishly praised and even lionized star named Louie CK in his critically lauded show Louie. Available On Demand. Definitely, absolutely, and thoroughly not funny. Not even original. It's a rehash of the Seinfeld show in format. He intersperses his standup with scenes from his sorry life. He's divorced. He has two daughters he tries to please but who hate him anyway. Hilarious? The critical plot point was a visit by his hugely pregnant fat sister who didn't know who'd impregnated her and felt it necessary to say the F-Word at least twice in each sentence. So, of course, she suddenly starts to deliver prematurely, and two neighbors Louie never bothered to meet come to the rescue. The breakthrough moment? Louie, who hates everyone and wants to meet no one new or have any new friends, reluctantly concedes that he can meet new friends. The reviewers love this? Really? How much do you have to hate life itself to regard this as edifying, entertaining, or funny?
After these two exposures, I might have been excused for believing that I have simply lost my sense of humor. Neither Titus nor Louie caused me to crack a smile. Not one. But I had also seen, also on the Comedy Channel, a standup by Norm MacDonald, late of SNL. Which I'm tossing into this weekend roundup. His topics were hardly lighthearted. He did routines about death, serial killers, and alcoholism. But no politics. And he had me laughing out loud inside of his first two minutes on stage. He talked about the deaths of his own father and his uncle, not to mention the stranger who vanishes on the evening news and turns up in a shallow grave in the woods. But Norm MacDonald is funny. And Louis CK isn't. btw, neither is the new sitcom called Wilfred, which I also watched because the guy in the bad dog suit reminded me momentarily of Raebert. I was wrong about that. It's a coarse, stupid show that is also not funny. The words, shit, piss, and fuck are not actually punchlines. They're just signposts of stoners trying to be creative and failing.
So let's close on a real July 4 highpoint. Mrs. CP and I watched the sci-fi movie Battle--Los Angeles. It's been a bad year for sci-fi. Stargate Universe is dead. The Brits have a new nihilist series called Outcasts which is unrelievedly dreary. The American version called Falling Skies is clicheed and uninspired, if blatantly aimed at inspiration, thanks to its Spielberg DNA. James Cameron is already planning Avatar sequels 3 and 4, no doubt in 4-D. All the comic book sc-fi movies this summer have bombed. But Battle--Los Angeles turned out to be the best thing to watch on July 4. It's a tribute to the U.S. Marine Corps, short on alien technology and long on, well, the Corps. Watch it. I won't offer a single spoiler. If you don't have a tear in your eye at the end, you're probably a New York Times subscriber with oak leaf clusters.
Oh, it's still a wonderful, fine thing to be an American. That would be a key highpoint.
P.S. Casey Anthony. Highpoint. Sorry. The prosecutors never charged her with first-degree manslaughter, the crime they were best equipped to prove. They never had the remotest possibility of a first-degree murder conviction. With no crime scene, no cause of death, no forensic evidence linking the defendant to a crime, and no witnesses, they chose to overreach, counting on the vengeance motive of the jury. Second-degree murder would have been a stretch. Yeah, she killed her daughter. But you have to prove it. They didn't. That's a win for the principle of reasonable doubt. And it happened in Florida. Where the death penalty is still real.
You know what? It's why I'm not posting every day anynore. We don't get to flush people away because we suspect them of wrongdoing. I hate prosecutors. Yeah, HATE. All that over-charging and once-we've-got-em-never-let-em-go ferocity of al those blond former federal prosecutors....
Sick of it. Build your case. Argue it to a jury. Prove it in court, even if you're not in Ohio. Then talk to me.
Happy, happy Independence Day!
P.P.S. Hey, watch the Libertarians go. Ayn Rand would be for the death penalty! Back it off. Slowly. The prosecutors failed to make their case. Motive, maybe, but no murder weapon and no crime scene. Law is NOT about moral conviction. It's about the law. Libertarians. Pshaw.
Tired of these idiots. Of all people, libertarians should know that the guilty sometimes go free. That's what happened this time. The price we pay for freedom.
But here's the deal. Morality does rule. Casey Anthony will not get away scot free. I'm pretty sure she'll be dead from one cause or another in less than five years.
Man's law is about procedure, not justice. God's law is about justice. No one ever gets away with a major crime.
Brizoni? A wasted post on your part. Sometimes the mentor is still much much smarter than the mentee. Like now.