Schadenfreude Karma

The week before last A’s fans were enjoying the discomfort of Giants’ fans as news emerged that their star offensive player, Melky Cabrera had been suspended for fifty games after a positive test for performance enhancing drugs. The pleasure in their embarrassment and blow to their playoff hopes was short-lived. Last week we heard news that one of the A’s starting pitchers, Bartolo Colon had received the same punishment for the same offense.


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The impact on the A’s play-off hopes is probably less than that on the team from SF. The Giants are short on offense; the A’s have strong starting pitching – even more so after the return from injury of Brett Anderson the day before the news about Colon broke.

It is a shame that the shadow of Performance Enhancing Drugs has returned to haunt baseball; especially to Bay Area teams. The Giants and the A’s will always be associated with the steroid era due to the self confessed and alleged usage by several players on both teams.

At least now that drug testing is performed, the cheats stand the risk of being caught as has happened twice in the last fortnight. I hope we can return our focus to what looks like a nail-biting race towards the post-season.

Let’s Go Oakland.

Published in: on 25 August, 2012 at 10:09  Leave a Comment  

Now Three Major Motion Pictures

You can blame Harry Potter for the latest fad in Hollywood. No longer does one book become one film; ever since the seventh and final Potter book was filmed as two movies this has emerged as a trend. The last Twilight book was released as two films. There are rumors that the Hunger Games trilogy will become four movies.

Peter Jackson is taking this one step further and several steps beyond reason. The Hobbit, a relatively short novel is now being released as three films. My enthusiasm for the release is greatly diminished, as I imagine much padding in the form of long shots of dwarves, hobbit, and wizard walking across New Zealand. The three films of Lord of the Rings dragged in places and there we had material from three books.

I think you could read the book in less time than it will take to watch the trilogy of films.

Published in: on 19 August, 2012 at 15:58  Leave a Comment  

The Supreme American Gift to World Culture

The title of the post is a quote from Bernard De Voto, an American author. He was describing the same thing that H.L. Mencken described as “The only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.”

On what work of art did these two men bestow such praise?

It is a drink, one whose origin are a mystery, but whose name probably derived from the nearby city of Martinez. I found both of these quotes and the origin of the name in a fascinating article about Martini.

I enjoy drinking Martini, my preferred Gin is Hendricks, which I use at home and request when ordering out. 

I was in Dallas a couple of weeks back and was frustrated that when I ordered a Martini. The waiter’s response was to ask me what Vodka I wanted. I am impressed that I politely responded that I wanted Gin. I did not point out that if I had wanted Vodka, I would have asked for a Vodka Martini, a Vodkatini, or a Kangaroo. I know that in the US Vodka has become the preffered spirit for Martini’s, possibly due to the influence of a fictional English spy. However, the correct question is either “Gin or Vodka”, or “Which Gin” – never assume Vodka.

Published in: on 11 August, 2012 at 14:01  Leave a Comment  

Bee as in Bart

I was returning from the airport on BART, the local commuter train; avoiding the Friday afternoon traffic snarl on the Bay Bridge. A woman across from me was taking on the phone.

“I swallowed a bee, so they sent me home early. No I did not do it on purpose.”

I was left bemused at what sort of friend of acquaintance would even suggest that such an act would be deliberate; then I wondered how weird a woman would have to be for that act to be considered and suggested. Did she have a prior record of insect consumption to get out of work early?

Published in: on 8 August, 2012 at 18:07  Leave a Comment  

What is the time

It is useful to have a clock in a car.

I do not know why one needs more than one clock in a car. I have a rental car that has no less than three clocks. There is a very attractive analogue face in the middle of the dashboard. There is a digital readout in the centre of the instrument cluster. The radio shows the time to complete the temporal trio.

Not wishing to be outdone, the speed of the car is also displayed twice. There is a digital readout in addition to the regular gauge.

Just to disprove stereotypes, this was not a Japanese car overladen with gadgets, but a deeply practical German car.

Published in: on 2 August, 2012 at 15:45  Leave a Comment  

Death of a Giant

I have written before of my deep interest in American Presidential History. I am the only person I know who receives a gift for Presidents’ Day; a biography or other book related to those who have held the office.

Today, I learnt that the man who started me on this path, has passed away. It was a TV interview on BBC with Gore Vidal that was responsible. I found him fascinating and went to the library to borrow one of his books. The Spalding library had but two, 1876 and Lincoln. Oddly, I borrowed teh former. It is a novel that tells of the hotly contested election in America’s centennial year in which the Democratic candidate loses the election despite having more votes than Rutherford B. Hayes. The key to the election is a dispute over votes in Florida. Yes, this was 1876 and not 2000.

I read Lincoln, another novelization drawing from real events. There is a series of Vidal books that span much of American history, weaving real and fictional characters. They are all well worth reading.

After those first two Vidal books I took one of the few American Presidental books that this little library had on the shelves; Edmund Morris’ “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt”. From that point on my focus was on biography, but it was Gore Vidal who started my whole fascination.

Gore Vidal died Tuesday July 31 at the age of 86.

Published in: on 1 August, 2012 at 6:53  Leave a Comment