Friday, July 27, 2007

Midnight Manny?

Big day for me down at Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, but there's always time for the completely uninspired GTB "Separated at Birth" segment. Today's installment stars Quahog's most nefarious ladies man and sexual deviant, Glenn Quagmire, and the manager of your Washington Nationals, Manny Acta. Giggity giggity goo...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2007 World Champion Chicago Cubs

After Andy Pollin blatantly stole my Jimmy Carter malaise bit on the radio yesterday evening, ruining what was sure to be one of the top 480 G:TB posts of all-time, I sunk into a state of melancholy. Fatigued to the breaking point by the massed forces of an epic, three-day hangover, Mike Vick's vile hobby, Barry Bonds' enormous melon, and Tim Donaghy's affinity for the over, I was thisclose to going cold turkey, quitting sports entirely. At least for the next few days.

As I pondered weak and weary, eyelids at half-mast, on the verge of sweet, sweet sleep, Lou Piniella appeared to me as if in a dream. Or like Princess Leia in the hologram projected from R2D2, only without the Cinnabons on her head. (And you're crazy if you think I wasn't going with that picture instead of the fully robed one.) Man, are there any straight guys my age who didn't have a thing for Princess Leia? And Mary Lou Retton. Wait. What the fuck was I talking about?

Right. Lou Piniella. It took the edge of exhaustion to make it all clear to me. Lou Piniella is Neo, or possibly the Keymaster - I told you I was tired. The Sports Gods have a way of making it up to us, and those grumpy bastards owe us large right now. They've given us a number of scintillating Super Bowls after years of yawners. They gave us the 2004 Boston Red Sox. They gave us that save Stallone made in Victory. And in October 2007, they'll give us the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. The Billy Goat Curse will end, and with it will go the worst off-field year in my memory. Hell, the Goat may even take Stuart Scott, Skip Bayless, Joe Morgan, and Chris Berman with him as he clipclops into history. Just remember where you read it first, and speak well of us at cocktail parties.

Easing Back In

I see Rob did finally get something up last night (Sweet Lou!) [Editor's Note: Rob was not happy with a YouTube clip burying his bold World Series prediction, so much like the Man of Steel in the original Superman, I have manipulated time], but I would be remiss if I didn't pass along what I can only classify as the oddest YouTube clip I have ever viewed. Perhaps this has been floating around the interweb for a few days - I wouldn't know, I am just emerging from the OBFT Coma today. Let's set this up: Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Philippines, an army of inmates and the self-anointed King of Pop as the soundtrack. Enjoy...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Dennis will be protecting Fort G:TB over the weekend, as I will be hitting the beach with Whit and Rob (and many, many more characters) for the 14th Annual Outer Banks Fishing Trip. It will take us days to recover from this, so I suggesting watching a lot of TV and perhaps getting past page 3 of Atlas Shurgged while we're gone. Just don't watch a second of "Who's Now" on SportsCenter...I'm trying to help you, I swear.

Whit, Rob - As an extremely wise piece of absorbent fabric once said, "Don't forget to bring a towel..."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ms. Dukes, your time to live has been set to 69 Days

After admitting to marijuana use under oath Monday during divorce proceedings, Elijah Dukes has been ordered by a judge to take random drugs tests.

Dukes' wife testified that he smokes marijuana daily and "drinks to the point of passing out." According to the Tampa Tribune, she also opined that "his aggressive behavior is caused by steroid use," but said that she's never seen him use or admit to using steroids.

I think I speak for most of G:TB when I say this is going to end badly for her.

As a follow-up, I think a trade for Elijah Dukes is impossible to pass up now, Jimmy boy. In the spirit of atonement and second chances, I think you - nay, the taxpayers of this city - owe it to Elijah to bring him in with open arms. Maestro, queue the Journey if you please....

Friday, July 13, 2007

Franken-Berry just got sent down...

I think I promised this post to Rob a year ago, but with the sports world being a dead zone for the last few days, I finally got around to it (with some-- all the-- help from Whitney). After sifting through this, you all might agree I (Whit) should've kept it on the shelf for another year...

It's that time of year again. The dust has settled on another Major League Baseball All-Star Game, meaning the appropriate media outlets can swiftly turn their focus onto the next such endeavor. And year after year, that endeavor is this fan favorite. Get ready for . . .

G:TB's 2007 Cereal Mascot All-Star Roster

Lineup:

The Cookie Crook, Cookie Crisp, CF - Your light-hitting, speedy lead-off batter if there ever was one. The speed of Vince Coleman, but unfortunately the same degree of character as well. Much like we saw when Tyson lost Cus D'Amato, The Crook suffered greatly after the demise of Cookie Jarvis, but he's still a force to be reckoned with in centerfield. . . and anywhere near a bowl of cookies that somehow, beyond all comprehension, masquerades itself as cereal.

L.C. "Lucky" Leprechaun, Lucky Charms, RF - Not as legendary as the MLB version of "The Mick," Lucky's nonetheless a Cereal League force with the lumber and the amber, roaming right field and pub floors of Dorchester with equal frequency. (And it's rarely milk in that bowl.) He loves to play up the Irish thing with the fans, though insiders know his last name is actually Kowalczyk. From the Charms' 2007 Media Guide: "Turn-ons include green clovers and the hit-and run; turn-offs include the designated hitter and 'those f%#@ing brats who're always after me lucky charms'." Fast fact: Lucky's been ejected from three All-Star Games in his career.

Sugar Bear (a.k.a. Super Bear), Super Sugar Crisp (a.k.a. Golden Crisp), LF - The beefy slugger has long been accused of illegal supplements, and his oft-uttered motto "Can't get enough of that Super Sugar Crisp" may speak to his addiction to the stuff. Palling around with Starsky & Hutch's guy Huggy Bear and Fletch's buddy Gummy Bear doesn't help his image any. The power this All-Star brings to the table does impress, of course, but the Rock Raines-like name changes only serve to confuse and cast Sugar Bear in a shadier light. True Fact: "Sugar Bear has been voiced by Gerry Matthews since 1963." True Fact 2: "Last winter Gary Matthews Jr. was accused of ordering/using Human Growth Hormone." Coincidence?

Tony the Tiger, Frosted Flakes, 1B - The big-bat, fading glove Tony is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, make no mistake. Though his bellowing voice and rah-rah "gr-r-r-reat" attitude has earned him something of a reputation as a clubhouse blowhard over the years, he's still beloved by his legion of fans. He's a DH-in-training, but for now Tony's the cornerstone of the franchise and even the league. His club the Frosted Flakes (or as they're known in the UK, the Frosties) has fallen into mid-major status, but he'll be remembered long after they bury that red bandanna behind Kellogg's HQ.

Dig'em, Kellogg's Smacks (formerly Sugar Smacks, Honey Smacks, etc.), SS - What a great little guy. The heart and soul of any team he plays on, including the All-Star team. The Smacks' franchise (another, like the Anaheim/Los Angeles, California Angels of Anaheim/Los Angeles, California, whose owners have felt the need to repeatedly change names with the times), was in turmoil for a very long time at this position. It's not unlike the New York Yankees of the 80's and 90's, who suffered through Opening Day shortstops Roy Smalley, Tim Foli, Bobby Meacham, Wayne Tolleson, Rafael Santana, Alvaro Espinoza, Randy Velarde, Spike Owen (Big Stein was so jealous of the '86 Series, he nabbed both batless shortstops), Mike Gallego, and Tony Fernandez to finally get to Derek Jeter. The Smacks club waded through the following dreck as mascots before Dig 'Em came on the scene in 1972: various clowns, including Cliffy the Clown; a seal named Smaxey dressed in a sailor suit; Quick Draw McGraw; The Smackin' Bandit, a half-mule, half-kangaroo who kissed everyone in sight; The Smackin' Brothers, two boys dressed in boxing shorts and boxing gloves; an American Indian Chief on a horse. Dig 'Em put them on the map with his power stroke, slick fielding, base-stealing, and enormous sneakers. He's the coolest of the mascots -- perhaps the anti-Tony -- and we dig 'im.

Cap'n Crunch, 3B - Ah, the old Cap'n. Came on the scene in 1963 and is still ranked the fans' #1 favorite. Horatio Magellan Crunch, Jr. (real name) has enjoyed a Ripken-like streak of consistency, not to be undone by his advanced age, that Crunchberry Beast sidetrack, or by kids scraping the roofs of their mouths with his unsogged cereal. If his bat has slowed, we can't tell. His is a storied career with many ups (World Series of Cereal rings, promoted to Admiral briefly) and a few downs (disappeared in 1985 & 1999; Crunch franchise held "Where's the Cap'n?" promo but actually couldn't find him -- he was in a closet on his ship). The Cap'n has a dedicated fan base, almost creepily so. But he's a cornerstone of this roster, to be sure. (Am I the only idiot who didn't realize the cereal is little treasure chests? I never got that.)

Toucan Sam, Fruit Loops, C - Sam's another All-Star stalwart, and he'll be manning the dish for the Cerealites this year in the Midbreakfast Classic. He can wing it, so baserunners will certainly be taking heed as they have all season. Meanwhile, his solid if unspectacular bat complements his veteran approach to the game, the "follow your nose" method. (Sam was also reputed to be in the Cocoa Puff crowd for such a slogan, but it was later dismissed as rumor.) Did You Know?: Toucan Sam originally had a much larger beak and a Carmen Miranda-esque fruit-hat. His subsequent beak-job and ditching of the hat were presumably to be so he could don the catcher's mask.

BuzzBee, Honey Nut Cheerios, 2B - A little younger than some of his peers on this All-Star roster, but he's become a star in his own right. Many "Cheerios Classic" fans were reluctant to adopt the little slap hitter and glove man, but Buzz somehow managed to bridge the gap between the sugared franchises with their animated mascots and the health cereals with beaming parents and grinning adolescents. Is he fun to party with? Hell, no. Does he belong on this team? You bet.


Pitchers:

Sonny, Cocoa Puffs, SP - It's easy to sit back and marvel about what a career Sonny might've had if it weren't for his troubles with sugary substance abuse, but just as with Steve Howe, all that powder derailed a promising future. Such a fireballer being drafted by the "Coca Puffs" was the kiss of death, but Sonny has persevered tirelessly, as evidenced by his All-Star selection. Beloved by the fans, everyone wants to give him that 50th "second chance." Here's hoping he can hold it together and not go cuckoo this time.

Trix Rabbit, Trix, SP - The classic junk cereal pitcher in the style of Gaylord Perry, Eddie Harris, and Boo-Berry. Much like Cocoa Puff Sonny, Joaquin Andujar, and the Quik Bunny, the silly rabbit has had trouble keeping his composure on the field over the years, but his deceptive style leaves many swinging at air. Another in a long line of rabid animals who steal sugared cereals from children, the Trix rabbit franchised himself with arguably the catchiest of catch phrases, one quipped by dorky execs and pirated by Deadheads.

Count Chocula, RP - Every ballclub has one these days, the reliever from a foreign land with a wicked slider and a few cultural quirks. They just don't happen to have one as effective as the Count. He also has the heart-touching story: he passed up an opportunity back home for a solid career of achieving supernatural powers by sinking his fangs into the jugulars of his fellow citizens, consuming their blood, and turning them into similarly undead and horrific creatures, giving it all up to play baseball in the Cereal Leagues. He still gets teased for his accent and lumped in with those stiffs Boo-Berry and Yummy Mummy, but he presses on, having turned into a more-than-reliable closer. He still gets mocked by his peers back home for "going the breakfast route" when he's supposed to shy away from sunrises. And he still gets threatened by the religious right for his habit of pointing at the ground and thanking Satan every time he strikes out a batter, but he's just happy to be doing what he loves night in and night out. And playing baseball.

Bench:

Snap, Crackle, & Pop, Rice Krispies, IF/OF - These jacks of all trades, masters of none, weren't voted in, they were selected by the manager. The fans have never truly responded to this trio, but their peers seem to have even less respect. "The Hanson Brothers they ain't," quipped one All-Star who asked to remain anonymous. Another added, "Snap has no arm and Pop has no power -- they should be called the Misnomers." A third chimed in: "And Crackle . . . I mean, who the hell is Crackle, anyway?" They remind a few onlookers of the 2007 New York Yankees bench, and the word "light" seems to go hand in hand with any mention of them. But . . . the manager wanted them on the club. Crackle just left rehab (again), so they'll be reunited again at General Mills Park for the All-Star Game. Get fired up.Manager:

Wendell, Cinnamon Toast Crunch -
The skipper of Cereal Cup champs CTC, Wendell's kindly old man exterior belies an irascible curmudgeon in the clubhouse. A few ground rules when interviewing Wendell: 1.) Don't ask him about his penchant for the quick hook. 2.) Don't say anything even hinting at Cinnamon Toast Crunch being an "expansion franchise." 3.) And by God, do not ask him about including Snap, Crackle & Pop on this roster. There's a reason the other bakers don't speak in the commercials. Wendell's an old school manager on a new school club. You saw how well that worked in Tampa with Lou, right?

So there you have your 2007 Cereal Mascot All-Star Roster. Enjoy the festivities, all the hoop-la, and be content in the knowledge that world today is a better place than it was 20 or 30 years ago, if only for the fact that the rash of thievish, insane animals, badly-dressed, freakish creatures, and/or B-grade horror movie
clich├ęs burglarizing our kitchens and stealing our children's breakfasts seems to have passed. Pleasant dreams, and a very happy tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Badgers, We Don't Need No Stinking Badgers

Gheorghe: The Blog heartily endorses the British military's strategy for quelling unrest in Basra, as cleverly denied in this BBC report. Money quote (to steal from Andrew Sullivan):

"We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area. We have been told these are indigenous nocturnal carnivores that don't attack humans unless cornered." -- a very coy Major Mike Shearer

Wink and a nod, MAJ Shearer, wink and a nod.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jealous Again

Back sometime in the Pleistocene I played goalkeeper for a formidable intramural soccer squad at my alma mater. In the all-comers semifinal match, we fought another strong squad to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtimes. Skip Morris' (yeah, that Skip Morris) successful conversion in the fifth round of the shootout gave us a one-goal advantage and brought our opponents' best player to the penalty spot facing a must-make kick.

I bounced up and down in the goalmouth, trying for all the world to make my 5'5" frame look bigger, then crouched low as the opposing player began his run to the ball. As he hit it, I sprung to my left (because, in sports as in politics, I have a hard time going right) and extended my left arm to its admittedly underwhelming limit. My searching fingertips found the ball an instant before it dented the netting, deflecting it beyond the goalpost and harmlessly over the touch line, our victory assured.

I leapt from the ground and faced my onrushing teammates and fraternity brothers, both fists clenched in victorious defiance. As they lifted me off the ground in celebration, I experienced the moment for one of the few times in my athletic career. The moment, that singular point in time where an athlete finds himself or herself elevated by dint of an exceptional performance coupled with exquisite timing. For the sublimely talented, it's where circumstance, training, and physical fortune meet to celebrate the athlete's gifts for all of us to see.

Carlton Fisk had one in Game 6 of the 1975 ALCS. Mike Eruzione got one midway through the 3rd period of the penultimate game of the 1980 Winter Olympic Hockey tournament. Brandi Chastain celebrated hers by taking off her shirt.

The moment needs theater, it needs import and grandeur. As spectacular as it was, Curtis Granderson's hyper-athletic leaping catch of Wily Mo Pena's drive on Sunday wasn't a moment because it was a midseason game with several innings to go.

Adam Vinatieri's kick to beat the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI qualifies, as does the kick he made to beat the Raiders to get the Pats into the game.

My moment brought momentary joy to maybe three dozen hungover fratguys, and even though it still makes me smile to think about that save, it's a private memory. The moment makes everyone in the arena stand agape, stunned at their good fortune, amazed by the event. It provides fodder for the entire sporting world in perpetuity. Jack Buck couldn't believe what he just saw during Kirk Gibson's moment against Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series, and every one of you know immediately what I'm talking about.

We all have a wealth of individual memories that tell the story of our journeys, and to each of us, those memories mean the world. But very, very few of us get to view those memories through the prism of the sporting world's acclaim. So this week I'm spending my allotment of deadly sin on those unique athletes that have their moment on the big stage, whose individual triumphs in the moment become the stuff of cultural legend. I want one shot at that electric rush that surely consumes you the instant you realize you just changed the world, when everything goes graveyard silent and the air leaves the building - only to rush back in a billion flashes of color and the deafening locomotive roar of the crowd.

So, yeah, I'm jealous of Aaron Boone. May his meniscus be infected by fire ants.

Jump in the comments below and tell G:TB about the moments we missed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And the bets go on...

Yep, many folks say this three day stretch surrounding the MLB All-Star Game is the most boring sports time of the year, and it's hard to argue with them. In fact, the only thing that seems to occur this time of year is repeated bashing of baseball's mid-summer classic, for a myriad of reasons (pick one appy and one entree please):
*Every team has to have one rep (Hi Dmitri!)
*The All Star managers play favorites (you think?)
*Bud's infamous tie in Milwaukee (and no, I don't mean the condom one I let him borrow)
*Interleague play has removed all the novelty of AL vs. NL
*And, of course, the asinine fact the winner now gets home field advantage in the World Series.

But, guess what, those complaints aside, I still love the damn thing. The MLB All-Star Game is the only pro sports all-star game that remotely resembles the product on the field the rest of the season. Admittedly, I am a huge baseball fan who can honestly sit through an entire Orioles/Devil Rays game for a full nine innings, so I understand my love of this game is not shared by many out there. Still, come 8:30pm tonight, I'll be tuned in to watch the game that brought me pre-Baseball Tonight Kruk vs. Big Unit, Torii Hunter robbing Satan's child Barry Bonds, the "he can't really be letting this thing be a tie" tie (it was so ridiculous it gets to be in the good and bad columns) and most memorably Bo Jackson's obscene athleticism in the leadoff spot. But I guess if you're really that bored and hate the game that much, you can always turn to the Arena Football playoff game on espn2.

*****
OK, sentimentality aside, this post was originally meant to simply serve as a quick look at three ongoing G:TB bets, given this All-Star break breather. They are:

A-Rod vs. the Nats
New York's favorite villain rides into the All-Star break with 30 homers. He leads the majors. He's having a tremendous season. Yet a large chunk of Yankee fans and the entire NY press corps hate him. Simmer down folks. Anyway, we were very close to this race being tied, but a Nats surge (for them, 2 wins in a row is most certainly a surge) means the Nats now have 36 wins and lead A-Rod by 6. I assure you this will be a close race all year long.

The Nats losing 100 games (and me winning two cases of beer)
Ah yes, I was sure I was in the driver's seat when the Natty's dropped three of four to the Cubs over the Fourth holiday, but then, amazingly, they come back to take two of three from the Brew Crew (behind Simontacchi and Tim Redding of all pitchers). Impossible to figure these guys out. Right now, I believe they are on pace for 92 or so losses, but I have hope the July 31st trade deadline will once again set the Nats on the 100 loss path. Buh bye Da Meat Hook, Ronnie Belliard and The Chief, at the minimum. Of course, this means I am putting faith in Jim Bowden to properly trade his valuable commodities, and I think we all know how I feel about that asshat doing anything right.

Wake vs. Rocket
You know what, Rob created a nice spreadsheet for this, so for now, let's just say this race is neck and neck until I crunch the numbers. I'll be back this afternoon. Or not.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Whitneypedia: Live Earth

A couple of weeks ago, we premiered the first entry in Whitneypedia, as well as something of an explanation behind this recurring segment. While fearing we may brand this feature as extraordinarily narrow in scope, we nonetheless present the second edition of Whitneypedia . . . and it sounds pretty close to the first one.

But it's timely, pertinent, and environmentally friendly. How often in the last few years has Gheorghe: The Blog been able to boast such a post?

Tonight and tomorrow brings us the first, and in all likelihood the last, series of international rock concerts they're calling "Live Earth." After a flurry of "Aid"-driven monikers in the 80's (Band Aid, Live Aid, Farm Aid -- none of which benefited AIDS victims), the collective creative minds behind the rock-for-charity shows have inexplicably switched over to the "Live" labels. Undoubtedly you recall my words of wisdom about Live 8. Welcome to Live Earth. ("Earth Aid" would have been far more appropriate, but so very 1980's.)

Live Earth comes to you not from Bob Geldof (and how dare you assume so, squawks Sir Bob from his Ethiopian grass hut), but from Al Gore and . . . a bunch of the same people who do all of these things. The thought behind Live Earth is to raise awareness about global environmental issues via a series of rock concerts. You know, rock concerts which will take musicians, their crews, and their gear to far-off locales (most traveling on gas-guzzling airplanes) to rock out for the cause (at a bazillion volts of electricity). I can speak in my condescending tone about this matter, both because (a) yes, it's my normal manner of speaking, and (b) I took a college course called, coincidentally, Global Environmental Issues. (Scored an A, by the way, which . . . well, if you were one of my 10 or 12 classmates, you're rarer than the handful of sportswriters who witnessed Douglas knock out Tyson just a few years prior.)

So what's Live Earth's game plan? Well, they're back to the eight concerts around the globe, just like Live 8. I still think Philly vs. Wembley was/is the classic way of jam-packing the very best shows thinkable, but let's face it: six extra stadiums full of ticket-buyers sure help revenues for the cause.

And when I say eight, of course, I mean 10. Technically, there is an extra pair of shows, one at a Buddhist temple in Japan and one at a research station in Antarctica, to round out all seven continents. The Antarctic show consists of one band, Nunatak: "a five-person indie rock band, part of a science team investigating climate change and evolutionary biology on the Antarctic Peninsula." Probably geekier than They Might Be Giants, not as geeky as Devo, and if they sound anything close to either, gotta be worth a listen, right?

Who's playing? Well, let me cull out the worthless crap acts in my inimitable rock snob fashion and give you the straight scoop. In chronological order from the start of the concert, it goes a little something like this:

Sydney, Australia (9:10 PM tonight)
Crowded House
Jack Johnson
Wolfmother
(Peter Garrett's a presenter; it'd be nice if he and his mates were playing, and you never know)

Tokyo, Japan (11:00 PM tonight)
Linkin Park
(domo aregato, but no domo aregato, Tokyo)

Shanghai, China (7:00 AM tomorrow)
nothing, not a damn thing you really want to hear... or at least that you've heard of

Hamburg, Germany (8:00 AM tomorrow)
Chris Cornell
Snoop Dogg
Cat Stevens
(no chance of a group medley finale)

London, England (8:30 AM tomorrow)
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Madonna
Beastie Boys
Bloc Party
Duran Duran
Snow Patrol
Keane
Metallica
David Gray
Foo Fighters
Genesis
Spinal Tap
(and some felchy former boy-banders and dreck, but make no mistake, this here's the marquee batch)

Johannesburg, South Africa (12:00 PM tomorrow)
UB40
Joss Stone (all right, but I wanted to take the pressure off my boys in UB40 a tad)

East Rutherford, New Jersey (2:30 PM tomorrow)
(Yeah, Philly got dumped like yesterday's pizza steaks; North Jersey wins again)
The Police
Dave Matthews Band
Bon Jovi
Fall Out Boy
Smashing Pumpkins
Melissa Etheridge
Kanye West
John Mayer
KT Tunstall
Roger Waters

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (3:00 PM tomorrow)
Lenny Kravitz
Macy Gray
Pharrell Williams (only gets a nod here because he's from VA Beach)

How can you hear the music? If you have either XM or Sirius Satellite Radio, they are dedicating a series of channels to playing the broadcast. Not sure about that dinosaur called FM Radio, but chances are they'll be too busy playing the latest Gwen Stefani song over and over to bother.

How can you see the shows? While looks can be deceiving, it looks as though there will be a marked increase in availability and (we hope) production from the Live 8 pants-wetting on MTV. In increasing order of total airtime:

(All times are on Saturday 7/7 and GMT -4; for that bastion of G:TB readers outside The States, you're on you're own)
NBC: 8-11 PM
CNBC: 7 PM - 1 AM
MSNBC: supposedly airing some, but unlisted currently
The Bravo Channel: 9 AM - 2 AM Sun
Sundance Channel: 4 AM - 2 AM Sun
Universal HD: 4 AM - 2 AM Sun

Seems like a ton of coverage; in a perfect world, there'd be multiple feeds for these multiple networks and a choice of what to watch, but the reality is that I'll probably get stuck watching "The 12 Girls Band" emanate their lovely riffs from Shanghai while the Chilis are torching Wembley. Still . . . so much better than handing MTV the reins.

Any highlights or momentous events? Well, the bread-and-butter of these rock phenomena have, of course, been the long-awaited, crowd-pleasing reunions of old bandmates. Live Aid had Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, CSNY, and, to a lesser degree, The Who. (Re-formations for The Who happen just slightly less often than colonoscopies for these guys.) Farm Aid saw a regrouped Steppenwolf. (What? That counts.) And Live 8 was really only noteworthy for the actually-momentous Pink Floyd hatchet-burying.

So who's letting bygones be bygones for Live Earth? Hmm. Though there is always the chance of a game-day surprise, it appears that The Police are the best qualifier, though since they've been touring together all summer, it doesn't have that one-off, glorious "I saw it when it happened" kind of feel to it. That said, if you're like me and haven't had the chance to plunk down several hundred bucks to go see these cats take us back 25 years, then this is a big draw.

Undercard re-formings include Smashing Pumpkins (I can hear Rob groan now), and Genesis. A rousing rendition of "Zero" or anything in the Abacab era will surely suck me in, but the "in the moment" appeal of either of these performances isn't there. And with the one and only "punk rock warlord" having passed on nearly five years ago, the greatest reunion I could ever hope for can't happen (though I will go see "The Future Is Unwritten" with anyone anytime if it ever hits screens in this country), so this is what we're left with for Live Earth.

So what's the real purpose of Live Earth? A good question. Billing itself as "The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis," its self-stated goal is "to raise awareness about global warming." As we know, the former Veep achieved great strides in this realm with his An Inconvenient Truth. I guess there are some who feel the audience of that documentary was mostly Baby Boomers who only voted Republican so they could keep their C-Class Benz and might be ripe for a guilt complex, so now it's time to hit the teenagers, college nothings, and music junkies -- most of whom already are keenly aware of the planet's woes, and most of whom can't do much about it.

Because let's face it, a world where the citizens are flushing less and recycling more, turning off light bulbs and turning onto discussions about conservation is a worthy vision, but until the world's governments alter their focus and the largest businesses -- especially the energy corporations and vehicle manufacturers -- start being compensated to make massive changes, not much of that will matter. And that's where Live Earth may make its dent, by recruiting sponsorships from and drawing attention to the big guys trying to go green. And the more international attention it engenders, the more effective it may be. Maybe someday, these massive efforts might even convince our Vice President that global warming actually exists. (Don't you feel like he's one more scotch away from barking, "And another thing -- the Holocaust? Soooo not convinced.") Otherwise, Live Earth will simply be what Bob Geldof labeled it: "an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage."

So, do your part by watching the show . . . on your big-screen, power-sucking TV. I don't know, reconcile it if you can and just enjoy the music. If you can.

* * * *
Whitneypedia Aside: Among the array of benefit concerts over the years, both the ones I delved into in my initial entry and the ones I didn't (Concert for Bangladesh, Farm Aid, etc), there is one piece of trivia I think is worth dredging up. In 1979, a handful of concerts were played in London to raise funds for Cambodian refugees after Pol Pot did his thing. (Speaking of Mr. Pot, for one of the most amusing mid-song chants in rock history, dust off the Dead Kennedys' "Holiday in Cambodia." But I digress.) Anyway, Queen, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, The Who (recently re-formed), and especially The Clash rocked out at the Hammersmith Odeon for several nights for the cause -- which they called the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea. But most curious was the pair of strange bedfellows who organized the affair . . . Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim. Yep, the moptop and the Nazi. The Fab Four and the National Socialist Party. Sounds like an 80's screwball comedy in the making, right? Hilarity ensues.

In truth, the rumors (which came damn near fact) about Waldheim's tenure as a Nazi officer and blind eye to genocide didn't come to light until five or six years later, when he ran for President of Austria. (And got elected! Gotta feel for the Austrians -- they were willing to do anything to take the world's attention off Falco.) At the time, Waldheim was the U.N.'s Secretary-General, and perhaps in a reparations-style change of heart, he helped Paul put on the shows. I just can't help thinking that behind closed doors, he was one scotch away from jeering, "Khmer Rouge?? Please. They'd be a remote outstation of the Third Reich. Now those were atrocities."

So, there's a little nugget for you, something "trivial" in every sense of the word.

Enjoy Live Earth, you're welcome for the info, and see you next time at Whitneypedia, your one-stop shopping for inane drivel about charitable rock & roll (apparently).

Thursday, July 05, 2007

On a day this long and miserable...

...I thought I'd cheer us all up with this piece of cinematic magic:

Monday, July 02, 2007

Better pinch hitter: Gheorghe or Lenny Harris?

Gheorghe was asked back by the Extrapolator crew to contribute to this week's Voodoo Sabermetrics post. Gheorghe happily accepted.

This week's victim: 23-year-old Philadelphia Phillies lefty Colbert Michael "Cole" Hamels. Unfortunately, Delmon Young was unavailable to help me this week, so I had to go it alone. My sections - Atomic Number and Exposure. What that really means I don't know. I do know I am completely unqualified for this, but that's never stopped me before. And away we go...

Atomic Number (or Chemistry, if you prefer)
Hmmm, let's go with Polonium, Atomic Number 84. Yeah, that seems like a good choice (by the way, I just looked at a Periodic Table for the first time in 12 years...truly exciting stuff). Polonium is apparently hot enough scientists have pondered using it to heat spacecrafts. It's powerful (and deadly enough) Russian dissidents have been silenced by it
(Alexander Litvinenko). Sounds like Cole Hamels to me. Charlie Manuel is praying Hamels is hot enough and powerful enough to support a rotation in shambles (just look at the starters in the Phils/Mets series this weekend). Hamels is one of the best young pitchers in baseball. He's currently 2nd in the NL in Ks (116), 3rd in Wins (9...first to 9 wins actually) and CGs (2) and 9th in IP (111.2). In April, he struck out 15 Reds in a complete game five-hitter. He had a perfect game through seven in May against the Brewers, and ended up striking out 11. Yes, the kid's smoking...
...and yes, it does need to be addressed, the female population seems to find him smoking hot.
On that front, it seems young Mr. Hamels is so hot the ladies at "The Ladies..." can't even decide who gets to bed him first. I believe Clare has first dibs on Cole, but it's hard to tell (I have a strange feeling Clare might expound on this today).

Exposure
Not an issue for this kid at all. Apparently, since Hamels was called up, he has had numerous fan clubs in the stands, going by various names, including "The Cole Patrol", "The Cole Mine" and "The Cole Train" (hell, it's Philly, these could be the same clowns each game and they just can't decide on a consistent name). Even more importantly, Cole Hamels has joined Chuck Norris and Tim Tebow (and I'm sure many more) as objects of over-the-top internet affections via the "fun fact" website. I'll leave you with just a few of my favorite Cole Hamels Facts:
**When Cole Hamels is on the mound digging in his glove, he is really just text messaging Tony Danza.
**Cole Hamels knocked down the Berlin Wall. With a change-up.
**Cole Hamels once saddled Jesus Christ with the dreaded "Golden Sombrero." He came within one strike of doing the same to God.
**Cole Hamels isn't left-handed, he's bored.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day

"The power of the force has stopped you, you hosers."