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friday random ten, anniversary edition

Since it's our 33rd anniversary today, a special Random Ten is in order. These kinds of lists are still random ... I just cherry pick. So, in this case, I randomly selected 7,225 songs, then started at the top and chose ones that had special meaning of some sort to Robin and I. Here goes:

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Suzie-Q." When we were a couple in high school, we used to dance a lot to Creedence. This wasn't the most popular dance song ... that was probably "Keep on Chooglin'" ... but we liked long songs for dance purposes.

2. k.d. lang, "Sexuality." We've been fans of hers for a long time now. I'm not sure, but I think the time we saw her in concert she was touring behind this album.

3. Lucinda Williams, "Are You Down." Another one we've been listening to forever. In this case, we've seen her in concert several times.

4. Everclear, "Santa Monica." We like to sing along to the chorus when we're driving down the road. "We can live beside the ocean, leave the fire behind. Swim out past the breakers, watch the world die."

5. David Johansen, "Frenchette." We loved him in the early part of his solo career.

6. The Beatles, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." One of the first presents Robin ever gave me was the White Album."

7. Bronski Beat, "Smalltown Boy." Memories of Prince Street.

8. Rosanne Cash, "Sleeping in Paris." See k.d. and Lucinda above.

9. Graham Parker and the Rumour, "Mercury Poisoning." A live bootleg track from a concert we attended in 1979.

10. Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, "I Scare Myself." OK, I cheated here. This isn't random, I selected it. I read the lyrics to this song at our wedding:

I scare myself just thinking about you
I scare myself when I'm without you
I scare myself the moment that you're gone
I scare myself when I let my thoughts run
And when they're running
I keep thinking of you
And when they're running
What can I do?

I scare myself, and I don't mean lightly
I scare myself, it can get frightening
I scare myself, to think what I could do
I scare myself -- it's some kind of voodoo
And with that voodoo
I keep thinking of you
And with that voodoo
What can I do?

But it's oh so so so different when we're together
And I'm oh so so much calmer; I feel better
For the stars have crossed our paths forever
And the sooner that you realize it the better
Then I'll be with you and I won't scare myself
And I'll know what to do and I won't scare myself
And I'll think of you and I won't scare myself
And my thoughts will run and I won't scare myself


san francisco's bonds

A truly excellent piece by Brian Murphy:

I am here to try to explain to a nation of Bonds Haters why the city of San Francisco, this progressive-voting, forward-thinking, hybrid-driving region, a Bay Area that likes to think of itself as sophisticated, intelligent and -- yes, let's say it -- above all other cities in America is unabashedly and unashamedly and embarrassingly still in love with Barry Bonds....

[In 1992] word was that frustrated owner Bob Lurie had agreed to sell the team to a group of investors in Florida.... Fast-forward to the happy ending -- Peter Magowan, Larry Baer and other heavy-hitting investors flew to New York, persuaded NL owners to sell to them and keep the Giants in San Francisco, then announced their presence with panache.

They immediately signed free-agent Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Barry Bonds for the princely sum of $42 million over seven years....

By the time Barry hit 73 home runs in 2001, we were all too blindly in love to know better.

Not only had Bonds led the Giants to a 100-win season and another NL West title in 2000, he had done so at the impossibly beautiful new ballpark, Pacific Bell Park, a fable of a yard with McCovey Cove and views of the Bay Bridge and brick walls and garlic fries and our very own, modern-day Babe Ruth. It was the "House that Barry Built," and we were all grateful tenants, happily paying the rent with unconditional love....

Barry ... fed our egos. He not only didn't rip Pac Bell Park but turned it into the site of his signature blasts. He made his house our home. He essentially invented McCovey Cove, and Splash Hits, for all America's "SportsCenter" watchers to see. You don't think we knew that every time Barry hit one at home, America saw the highlight of the packed house, the quirky right-field wall, the standing-room-only crowd on the arcade wall, the only-in-San Francisco sight of horsehide splashing in Bay? We knew you all saw it, and we hoped you all thought: "Wow, that is a special scene. America's most beautiful city, celebrating baseball's best player, in a style perfect for that magical confluence of latitude and longitude." ...

WE can think what we want about Bonds. WE can be disappointed by his guilt. YOU, on the other hand, don't understand the history, the journey, the ride we've been on. YOU don't remember the 90 losses in 1992, the potential St. Petersburg Giants. YOU weren't there that day when Pacific Bell Park opened, and the Giants had the prettiest park in the land, the House that Barry Built. It's family. WE can talk about our family, judge our family. YOU, on the other hand, are an outsider. You are not family. You are not to judge.

That's how it goes in our minds. The history is too deep to simplify this. The passion is too real to stuff this in the "He Cheated, So Screw Him" file. Like most relationships in sports between athlete and fan, the relationship between San Franciscans and Barry Bonds is built mostly on fable and willful suspension of disbelief. But somewhere in the fable and the willful suspension is something real, and it's something worth defending. As in most families, it's made partly of secrets, partly of lies. It's family. It's baseball. It's hard, is what it is.

There is a lot more detail in the essay, which I recommend.


three more season finales and lots of spoilers

First off, there are four shows we watch on Sundays, so that gets us behind right there. Then I went to the Giants game the last two nights, so that got us further behind. Which is why we spent tonight watching the season finales of three series.

Desperate Housewives didn't interest me much this season, and I'm not certain I'll be back for Season Three. The central characters are all annoying, and for the most part not in watchable ways. And they aren't making much progress, either. The finale showed flashbacks to when the various characters moved to Wisteria Lane, and what stood out was how everyone was already the person we'd come to know. There is no development. Teri Hatcher is the lovable clutz, Felicity Huffman is the harried career woman, Marcia Cross is the anal control freak, and Eva Longoria is hot. How much longer can I watch the same thing? Grade for Season Two: B-.

House had a terrific finale. Generally this is the most formulaic of shows, carried largely by Hugh Laurie's greatness. Every once in awhile, though, they go looking for Emmys, and while this is usually a bad strategy, so far House has pulled it off ... every time they break out of the formula, the show is a good one. This one had House getting shot and then acting all psychedelic ... turned out everything in the episode except the very beginning and the very end took place in House's mind over the course of a couple of minutes. In the process, House figures out how to cure his leg problems. Laurie had asked that the producers figure out a way to let him walk without a cane, as his back was hurting in real life from the awkward way the character walked. This was a much more ingenious way to dump the cane than I expected.

Figuring out how to fix his leg wasn't really the important thing. What was important is that he passed that knowledge to the person who could help him. House seems to have finally realized that he was purposely preventing himself from happiness, that he built his life around being a super smart asshole. It's about time, sure, but if House the character now loses his snarkiness, the show is gonna go into the toilet fast.

Overall, Season Two was more of the same: Hugh Laurie is terrific, show is OK. Grade for Season Two: B+. (Bonus points for the appearance of Michelle Clunie of Queer As Folk fame in a bit part tonight.)

Finally, there's Lost. The finale was effective: answered some questions, asked a lot more questions, and set up an interesting Season Three. I don't have a lot to say about this show ... I'm not much interested in its philosophical underpinnings, and to be honest I don't think the creators care much about them, either. So far they've managed to keep us turning the page, as it were, and that's quite a feat in itself. I'm back for another round next year. Lost isn't as good as, say, The Prisoner, but it works for the most part. Grade for Season Two: B+.


for those who think mike krukow is a homer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs3ckx0-XsE

Honest, baseball fans will appreciate this one just fine.

It's a soccer match from 2004 between AC Milan and Inter Milan. Imagine if the Giants and Dodgers still played in the same city ... even better, they play in the same stadium. Then, and I have no idea why this is, the announcers for the two teams are sitting right next to each other. The guy farthest from the camera is announcing for Inter, who score two first-half goals. The one who is closer is the guy for AC Milan, who score three in the second half to win the match.


24: season finale

You should already know that there will be spoilers.

Most people seemed to agree that Season Five was one of the better seasons, although I'm not sure why we thought this. The differences were subtle at best. A couple of times each season, 24 tries for something heart-wrenching. It usually doesn't work, because the show is so hyper and unrealistic that stopping for an emotional break is more aggravating than anything else. But the death of Edgar was one of the true emotional stunners in the show's history. People die all the time on this show, oftentimes the deaths are shocking, and oftentimes the victims are major characters. Edgar was a secondary character, and his death was shocking in a "not Edgar!" way, but it had way more depth than that. They had managed to make Edgar something more than just another guy with a few lines a week, and they directed his death scene in a way that pulled at the heart strings.

Beyond that, there was the startling beginning, with the killing of David Palmer. Jean Smart and Gregory Itzin as the first couple both deserve Emmys. The excitement quotient seemed a bit higher than last season, for what it's worth, and with this show, that's worth a lot.

And I shouldn't quit without noting that the central plot of this season was that the President of the United States was behind a terrorist plot that, even though it was foiled, resulted in the deaths of many, including a former President. Oh, and he looked a lot like Nixon.

The usual ludicrous aspects of the show were always there, of course. Perhaps the best-ever example of time compression in the show's long run came in the two-hour finale. Part one ended with the President and his wife deciding to have a quickie, which started in 24 time at about 5:58. Seven minutes later in the audience's viewing time, they were getting dressed ... ok, I said it was a quickie. But in the 24 time scheme, they were getting dressed at 6:00. Now THAT is a quickie!

Grade for Season Five: B+


30 years ago

I don't know what to do with this anecdote. It doesn't go anywhere, and for all I know, I'm just using an old calendar as an excuse to write about what happened on May 22, 1976, just because the calendar reminds me what we did that day. I suppose the story says something about us, or the times, in 1976, and the fact that I can't really imagine anything similar happening to us in 2006 says something, too. But mostly I'm just sitting here waiting for my online office hours to finish, and thought I'd write while I waited.

May 22, 1976. It's the year of the Bicentennial, a month and a half before the official date. A friend is staying with us ... we're living in Berkeley on North Valley, Neal has just had his first birthday, Robin's mom is still living with us as well. I'm working at Continental Can, not sure if Robin was working then or not, probably not since for the most part she stayed home when the kids were v.little.

Some friends of ours ... I'm not mentioning names here, they don't really matter ... we end up going to a party in honor of one of our friends, at the house of his lawyer, I believe it was. Whoever the guy was, he had what was, if memory serves, a fucking mansion. The place was enormous. It had a giant swimming pool, sauna, a billion rooms, etc. I suppose the party was catered by Narsai David ... he did most of the catering for that crowd in those days.

I told you there was no point to the story, but if you've read this far, I should at least cut to the chase and explain how the party ended. Everyone was drunk, high, or both, and a bunch of us had made it to the sauna, where bottles of expensive champagne were being passed around. The friend who was the guest of honor came into the sauna ... he couldn't stay because of some health problem, so he invited us into the master bedroom for a little theatre. In the bedroom, those of us who had been in the sauna congregated, naked, on one side of the bed, while on the other side of the bed were the people who, clothed, had been partying elsewhere. In the bed were a man and a woman ... I think maybe they were married, I don't really know. They were under the covers, but it was pretty clear what was going on: the man had his head buried between the woman's legs, and he was eating her out while she moaned happily. The guest of honor was attempting to concoct some sort of event out of this, but the best he could come up with was for the people on each side of the bed to take turns sticking our hands under the covers. He finally admitted he didn't have a conclusion, and the event, the party, and this story petered out.

And that's what Robin and I and the rich people of the Bay Area were doing 30 years ago today.


sopranos f-word update

The Steve Hammond Report:

Episode # 76 - "Cold Stones"

Said the F-word 53 times
First utterance - Tony; 0:20 - speaking to AJ
Total for the season 508
Average per episode 46.18
Total for all episodes - 3973
Average per episode - 52.28

Most ever in a single episode - 105 - Episode #19 "The Happy Wanderer"
Least ever in a single episode - 13 - Episode #27 "Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood"

Most in season 6 episode - 75 - Episode #75 "Moe n' Joe"
Least in season 6 episode - 17 - Episode #67 "Join the Club"


raw

I haven't followed pro rassling much the last few years, but I've had times when I paid pretty close attention. There was awhile there when my son and I (and anyone else we could corral) would watch all the PPVs and attend local shows.

Five years ago today, I saw the greatest match I ever attended. It was a match for the WWF World Tag Team title, and was being shown live on the Raw television show. The champions were Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H. Austin had been the central character in one of rassling's periodic revivals, in the mid-90s. Triple H looked like a roided monster ... whatever he was or wasn't taking, he had a good feel for drama, if not much technical skill, and he had the real-life heart of the owner's daughter, which alleged gave/gives him a lot of pull within the promotion. The challengers were Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, two Canadians with lots of technical skills but of relatively small stature. Benoit was one of my favorite rasslers, in fact ... he lacked charisma, but his understanding of ring and audience psychology meant that he never had a bad match ... he knew what worked, knew when to do it, and could carry the most incompetent rasslers to an entertaining ten minutes of action.

The match was exciting, full of to-and-fro as rassling matches usually are, when, near the end of the match, something happened to Triple H. We didn't know what at the time, but he was clearly injured. (Later it was revealed to be a tear in his left quadriceps muscle, causing it to come completely off the bone.) Triple H nonetheless continued the match, the most amazing "show must go on" performance I have ever seen in any situation. He allowed himself to be put into an excruciating hold in order to advance the match's plot line, helping make what was already an excellent match into one for the ages. As soon as the match was over (it was the last match of the night, and so the television cameras went off), medics tended to Triple H ... oftentimes such attention is fake, but this time the injury was real. Triple H didn't wrestle again for seven months; he gave those of us in attendance a great show, for which I'm thankful. You never know when those transcendental moments will occur.