One and Done

Oh well, ULL is out after the first game, losing to NC State 52-61. It happens to half the teams in it. Now to see how Georgia Tech does with Utah…

Cajuns and Yellowjackets

I’m not going to play like I’m a huge colledge basketball fan because I’m not. However, this year both my almas mater are in the NCAA tournament. My beloved UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns start their first round game with NC State in a few minutes. Good luck to both teams!

Update: The way I phrased that was very unclear. I wasn’t wishing both teams in the game good luck – NC State won without any of my luck being granted to them. I meant both my almas mater – ULL (MS) and Georgia Tech (BS).

Cubs Fans, Optimistic and just plain Mystic

So finally it looks like the foolishness about Steve Bartman will be laid to rest. I’m glad they are grinding up the ball, maybe sometime in the next decade or two they can quit obsessing over it. Lots of teams have late-season meltdowns (as a Braves fan I see it most years) but Cubs fans have raised denial and avoidance of the facts an art form. It’s Bartman, it’s this goat or this curse or some other injustice. They seem to do everything in their power to avoid the stark facts – you have to play all the way through to the final out of the last game before you have actually won. A big early lead does nothing for you if you can’t seal the deal. Having the best regular season record in history means squat if your team lays down in the divisionals. Enough about external factors – the Cubs did not advance last year because they melted down and no other reason. No one was robbed, no one was cursed. I’ve watched strong Braves teams not make it for the last 9 years and never had a handy excuse. I’m forced to admit my team didn’t want it bad enough and didn’t play well enough.

Interestingly enough, I think the Cubs will not make it this year again, and the seed of their defeat will be what most people think is the key to taking it all – the signing of Greg Maddux. He’s a case in point for the long-hallowed Cubs strategy of trading off a promising player before their peak in favor of overpriced talent on the downhill side of their careers. If they had kept him in 1993, that might have been something. Instead, the Braves got 12 good years out of him and when it is obvious that he’s declining in dominance, the Cubs sign him for $8M a year. I really wish the Braves had traded him before last year and kept Kevin Millwood, a pitcher with 10 or 15 good years left in him. That’s the Cubs strategy – sell low and buy high. My gut feeling is that is way to much money for Maddux. Cubs fans somehow think they are going to get 1994-1996 out of him, and that ain’t the case. My prediction – he wins 12 games or fewer this year. They’ll get some benefit from him in terms of grooming the young pitchers, but he just plain isn’t going to dominate and won’t be worth the money.

Home Again

The ordeal that was this trip is now over and I’m back in Evanston. I feel less guilty about not talking to Atlanta friends, because there just wasn’t a whole lot of slack in there. I barely had time to do what I needed to, much less also being social and having fun. I had two hitches that really surprised me this morning.

One – you can’t check out of a Homestead Suites at 5:30 AM – their office is closed from 9 PM to 6:30 AM. You are supposed to arrange for early checkout 24 hours in advance. I found this out, of course, at 5:30 when I needed to be heading to the airport. I had never heard of such a thing and didn’t check this out because I had no concept that the office wasn’t open. Even the pissiest Super 8 can handle this.

Two – although I parked right under a sign in the O’Hare long term lot that said “G1”, getting on the bus labeled “G lot” doesn’t take you there. I was on Aisle G1 of Lot E. How the fuck does this make any sense? Why reuse the section numbers? Why not have section G1 in this lot, and start with H1 across the street? Why does every single lot need an A1 section? That’s crazy.

Now I’m home, exhausted from lack of sleep and the standard stress of modern air travel, and snarky emails from work are pissing me off. Maybe taking my wife to a lunch date at the Carmen’s pizza buffet will get me back on track.

The Fish Float to the Top

I can’t say I take a whole lot of joy in the Marlin victory last night, but as they are The Team That Isn’t the Yankees, I’ll take what I can get. I saw the end of a game sitting in an Applebees in Smyrna GA and paused just long enough to see my favorite post-season image – Derek Jeter with his upper lip quivering.

As a Braves fan, this is where it gets embarrasing. With a string of 12 straight division championships, winning only the one World Series is kind of bad. To have a team that didn’t even exist at the beginning of that run win two in six years, that makes it that much worse.

We’ll Get ‘Em Next Year

As far as I’m concerned, the baseball season ended last night around midnight eastern time. Once we got into the post-season, I hoped against hope that we would not end up with a Marlins-Yankees World Series. I hate the Yankees, and I find it impossible to work up any feeling for the Marlins. I was behind them all the way the last time they were in the series, and then watched them get dismantled for parts like a Lexus in a chop shop after their victory. Now the emotion just isn’t there. I care about this only slightly more than the “subway series” of a few years back. I seldom agree with Neil Boortz, but he describes a Marlins-Yankees series as “just like getting underwear for Christmas.” I’ll try to remember to care about the game again in about 5 months.

Seeing Red, Feeling Blue

Now the Cubs fans are getting a little taste of what its been like to be a Braves fan over the last decade – getting tantalizingly close and then watching them let it slip away. The Cubs have no one but themselves to blame. They had three chances to put it away and didn’t. It’s more fun to be in the post-season, but damn does this point frustrate. If the Red Sox lose today, we’ll have the one matchup of the 16 possible in the post-season that I just plain didn’t care about. There was one NL and one AL team that I just didn’t give a damn about, and it looks like they might meet in the World Series. If so, then as far as I’m concerned the season is over today. We’ll get ’em next year.

Nasty Ball

I was trying to look up a reference to Pedro Martinez dropping Don Zimmer yesterday. A 72 year old man has no business rushing the mound and I think Martinez did as good a job at protecting himself without hurting Zimmer as could be expected. Of course, Martinez could have avoided the whole thing by not plunking Garcia. The New York papers are calling Martinez a coward for knocking down an old man. Of course, they would also be saying that if he punched him, or if he ran to avoid having to do any of that. It was truly a no-win situation. What are you going to do – let this old man clock you, hit him, knock him down or run away? There are no good options there, and of course the New York media is hammering him. He’s culpable for the pitch at the head and is a thug for doing it, but I don’t blame him for knocking down Zimmer. When an old man charges the mound, he deserves what he gets.

While looking for that, I found this horrible story about two Yankees players beating a Fenway groundskeeper. The reason they did – he pumped his fist after the Sox pulled a double play while in the Yankees dugout. Dig this offensive nonapology:

The Yankees denied the players were to blame and demanded an apology from the Red Sox.

”A security incident like this would never be tolerated at Yankee Stadium,” president Randy Levine told The Associated Press. ”Unfortunately, there was an atmosphere of lawlessness that was allowed to be perpetrated all day long. The events of the entire day were disgraceful and shameful, and if it happened at our ballpark, we would apologize, and that’s what the Red Sox should do here.”

Randy Levine is saying a security incident like that wouldn’t be tolerated, when it was his players beating the grounds crew? The Red Sox should apologize that their employee got beaten by two players? Cheering the home team from within the opposing dugout is awfully stupid, but if stupidity was a beating offense the whole Yankee organization would be in hospital beds. This is shameful.

Game 3

It was ugly, but the Cubs pulled out a win last night. An ugly win still gets marked as a “W” – there is no “U” qualifier. I can’t remember the last time I saw an extra-inning one run game finish with a base running error. Once it got late in the game, there was a lot of sloppy play on both sides. That Miami heat will do that to you.

Play Ball

The game starts in minutes, and my stomach is tied in knots. I love October ball, and yet I hate October ball. At least the Red Sox won today. It was entirely possible that by the end of today all 4 teams I wanted to advance were knocked out. The Marlins have already won, and the Yankees advanced. Oh well, life goes on. I almost can’t watch the game I’m so nervous.

Game 3

All I ask for of teams that I root for in the post-season is that they play like they are burning to win. The Braves did not play like that last night, and the Cubs did. It will hurt me, as it often does, to see yet another highly talented Braves team lay down in the playoffs. If the Cubs pull this out, they’ve earned it and I’m with them all the way. I could swear there were three different hits to right field I thought Sheffield should have been able to get. The boys weren’t hustling, and generally didn’t have that playoff air about them. This is where it gets completely frustrating to me. I complained the other day about the lackadaisical air of the Atlanta fans. Well, the team has it too. Come on, y’all! For christ’s sake, let’s play it like you want to win it!

Subversion and Cygwin

With some minor trepidation, I’m throwing my hat in the ring to become the maintainer of the Cygwin package for the Subversion client. I had a problem on my Windows laptop, and required the actual client, not just the Eclipse plugin, to fix it. I ended up spending two hours building the client (not all my time, but clock time counting the compile). That’s ridiculous to expect everyone to do that. I’d much rather have spent the 2 minutes it takes to install a Cygwin package. Plus, if Subversion is to get towards critical mass, it will take things like this to enable people using it. I’ve already built it and taken the hit for figuring out the gotchas, so why not give back?

I joined both the Subversion developers and the Cygwin packagers mailing lists. First I emailed the Subversion folks, and early returns are that I should do it. Next, I’ll email the Cygwin list, make it official that I’m doing this. That’s the easy stuff. The next bit is figuring out what the hell one does to take a pile of source and turn it into a Cygwin package. I figure that this would be good for me, help me step up my game, help me meet people in the Open Source community, get my name out, etc. At the very least, doing this proves that I am the sort of dude that Can Get Things Done and on whom People Can Depend. At Intertrust, I developed a Perl module that would natively encode and verify PGP messages, using an XSUB and the native PGP libs (I only did it for Windows). We needed this for our own stuff, but I always though that would be a good Perl module to have out there. Same kind of deal, being the (successful) maintainer of a Perl module or a Cygwin pacakge makes a certain statement about one in a way more succint than a degree or a resume. It says “I do this, it works, and lots of people benefit from that. I make entropy decrease and order increase, and thus giving me money to increase order for your organization is a good idea.” Wish me luck (how come no one ever wishes to someone else balls? Wouldn’t that be better? “Wish me some cajones!”)

1-1 is more fun

Whew, watching the first inning of the game last night was tough going. It was entirely within the Cubs power to knock Hampton out of the game without him scoring an out, but they didn’t do it. They benefited from the complete gift of a run via the play at home (Javy clearly had successfully blocked the plate but the safe call was made nonetheless) but were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. The Chicago media here in town kept saying stuff like “unlikely hero” about Mark DeRosa, apparently unaware that he has made clutch plays like that for the Braves with startling regularity for the last few years. He ain’t unlikely to me, he’s just like the rest of this team of solid pros – he shows up to play and more often than not gets the job done. The bench on this team is quite deep. When Giles gets hurt and you have to put in DeRosa, it’s not the end of the world.

I’m hoping that on Friday playing at Wrigley will really light a fire under former Cub ace Greg “Mad dog/Old dog” Maddux. Maddux and Glavine were always the two worst offenders at underperforming in the post-season. Of all the Braves big guns pitchers, only Smoltz in his starter days was consistently good in the big games. I love playoff baseball and I love my team(s) to be in it, but my stomach knots up until either the World Series or till the last team I care about is gone (see “Subway Series” for a postseason I didn’t care about.)

That Familiar Feeling

Here it goes again. Watching the Braves lose last night started the whole thing again, flashbacks of years past. On the one hand, I’m in a no lose proposition here. Either my team of primary loyalty wins, or the local team for where I live now wins. Not a bad deal. I just hate watching my guys, who are always so talented, get so far and then lay down. God help me, I hope they come to life tonight.

I’m also pissed off at the slackard fans in Atlanta. If they hadn’t left so many seats unfilled, there wouldn’t have been so many Cubs fans flying and driving down to fill up Turner Field. It was like playing an away game in your own stadium. It’s downright embarassing. This is part of why I didn’t mind getting out of there. I still love the team, but the town was wearing on me. The half-assed self-important yuppie types that have taken over my town are hard to take.

Please, let them win tonight. I have talked way too much smack for them to do this to me.

More on Palahniuk

I’ve seen a few references to this piece on MemeFirst about Palahniuk’s audioblog coming out, on Bill Shunn’s weblog and others. I blogged about this right as it was happening, before the original audioblog entry was taken down. I don’t really agree with the Memefirst post and think it is needlessly negative, with pissy asides like “I can’t seem to access that message any more: maybe Palahniuk is trying to crawl back into the closet .” Chuck posted followups stating that the message was removed because he made statements about the Entertainment Weekly reporter that were untrue, and didn’t want to be spreading slander and because his more hotheaded fans were threatening her and he wanted that to stop. Maybe I just start from a different place, but I don’t think the original message was so much angry as sad and melancholy and awkwardly touching.

My undefinitive take (only Chuck knows for sure) is that Chuck wouldn’t have done this if he hadn’t wanted to. Maybe his (erroneous) belief that Entertainment Weekly was outing him affected the timing, but I don’t think it created something from thin air that he didn’t want to do at all. In the now gone original message, he mentions “saving a fortune in blackmail money” now that he’s gone public. All in all, I hope this makes his life simpler and easier.

It’s interesting how the take on this story differs. The Memefirst and similar pieces seem to be taking the tack of “Ha ha, look at how the hothead fucked up!” On the CP forum on his site, the discussion is more of the “We’re still with you, Chuck” form. I’m not sure if it is his reputation as an ubermacho writer of ubermacho fiction that is causing such schadenfreude from certain circles. I’m also not sure I agree with the premise that this is a fuckup. I suspect that once the furor over the manner this went down is over, everything will be back to the way it was except that Chuck will be able to be more candid and less guarded about the way he lives his life. Is this bad? All I know is that I’m going to start reading Fugitives and Refugees this morning and that I expect good things from it.

PS – If you see the Entertainment Weekly article, the photo of the people at the reading prominently features my friend and proprietor of Assclown Cockfight JonnyX and his girlfriend Jackie. That’s them, right up front and to the right of the photo.

Jaime Hernandez Interview at SuicideGirls

Jaime Hernandez is interviewed at SuicideGirls.com. I like Jaime and have for most of the 25 years they’ve done Love and Rockets. As I drift in and out of the world of comics, and have the ever more frequent experience of walking into a shop with lots of money in my pocket and leaving empty handed because I don’t know what I want, I have always stuck with Los Bros Hernandez. I still need to get a replacement for the threadbare “Maggie the Mechanic” L&R shirt that I finally through away, after wearing the hell out of it for 17 years.

I can definitely trace part of my fascination with Mexican and Latino pop culture back to them. I found Lucha Libre through their comics, first read One Hundred Years of Solitude because the characters talked about it. I was a little surprised to find that Jaime doesn’t speak or read Spanish fluently. It’s a good interview, but looking at the text with my interviewer hat on, and looking at the ratio of question to answer, what I see is a poor schlub interviewer working his ass off.