Results tagged ‘ movies ’

Bill McNulty and the Summer of Flying ‘Taters

“Baseball is an orderly universe, and that appeals to people who see disorder in the universe.” –Bill James

Got his only knock off Nolan Ryan

Breezy night. Moths fluttered and slammed against a lonely streetlight in the massive, darkened parking lot next to an antiquated football stadium. Earlier in the evening I had attended a photo exhibition/art show which was a prelude to the sanctity of the parking lot to smoke a joint with my friend, Bret. We had been invited by an ex-girlfriend with emotional wreckage and psychological traumas  from places I would never go; or care to. Life is always a shifting cast it seems, and here she was again, always cold and ever-present with a sexually ambiguous haircut. We gobbled up the free food and drinks eagerly. It all had the veneer of a high school graduation with proud parents hovering, shouting, drinking cheap wine and making congratulatory post- show dinner plans. These are the nights that crawl by at a snail’s pace. This being a community college, far from academia, there was the obvious “mystic chatter,” theatrical hand motions, and desperate attempts at narrative. Taking a break from this thing was imperative.

***

“Thanks for dragging me out of there. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
“No problem and no shit.”
“I suppose no man is impervious to the charms of a beautiful woman, despite their…fallbacks.”
“No judgement here, my friend,” said Bret as he spit out of a tiny bit of wayward reefer.
“This is Hughes Stadium, right? Didn’t the Sacramento Solons play here?”
“Yeah, 1974. They converted it into a baseball stadium and it was sort of a joke. I used to come here a lot with my dad…yeah, I’m old you sonnuvabitch.”
“You’re practically an antique,” I said jokingly. “Your only goal in life should be to outlive the national mortality rate.”
“Some guy hit a bunch of homers that year, over 50 I believe.”

***

When I’m stoned I tend to get bleary eyed, staring at everything but nothing, and here I was entering the wormhole and researching this mystic “50 homer guy.” Turns out his name was Bill McNulty and in 1974 he had an impressive 55 ‘taters, although most of them were “cheapies” because of the converted football stadium and the 233 foot left field line: perfect for a right-handed pull hitter. This wasn’t a “band box,” it was by my estimation a toddler’s crib. McNulty was also born in Sacramento, as I was, and writer Joan Didion before us. Interestingly enough, there was a also a stint in Hollywood as he had a bit part in a movie, 1985’s No Big Deal, starring Kevin Dillon, (Matt’s little brother) as typical of his brother in a “tough-guy with a heart of gold who got a bad rap” roll, playing a troublesome teen getting out of juvie and dealing with an alcoholic mother while trying desperately to get his shit together.

****

Mr. McNulty had exactly ONE major league hit: It was for the Oakland Athletics and it was off of some guy named Nolan Ryan, a soft single in which none other than Reggie Jackson was thrown out at the plate. And just like that, another ball-player is ripped from the “blanket of obscurity” and breezes into the catacombs of my mind as legend. There are so many beautiful things surrounding us if only we would take the time to look around every once in awhile.

There ain’t no cure for the quarantine blues

Wash them thangs!!!

Spiritually and morally, everything in life is a compromise. These are the kind of revelations that clank around your grey matter when you are experiencing day 15 of quarantine. I know what you’re thinking: tell that to the people hoarding everything. I haven’t showered in 2 days and my hair can only be described as “putting your fingers in an electric socket.” You can only read books, watch movies or scroll through social media (where the practitioners of uppity, hollow slogans are having a field day) for so long before tediousness stalks you like a hungry coyote. These days are a like a horror movie for a hypochondriac. The stores are out of bread, rice and toilet paper. We must distrust our natural inclinations to go out to eat or drink and socialize. I go for evening strolls and the streets remind me of Vincent Price in Last Man on Earth. And even though, by my estimation, we are all experiencing existential distress on some level or another, I thought I’d share a bit of the media that I’ve been digesting. For some reason or another.

Music: Duran Duran “Rio”– this album is silly, poignant, sexy and stupid. I haven’t listened to much music but this seems just about perfect because of its ability to see life the only way someone who has eaten the red pill can. And palm trees. Lots of palm trees.

TV: The Muppet Show– The jokes are corny and it feels like a psychedelic trip, but damned if you don’t forget that a pandemic is happening as you’re watching 70’s has-beens interact and sing with crazy animals, monsters and umm…Gonzo. Jim Henson was a genius.

Movies: Bad News Bears– Billy Bob Thornton plays the alcoholic, washed-up, ex-baseball player coach of a bunch of misfit kids on a little league team. A decent, funny remake of the 70’s classic  starring Walter Matthau. Disappointingly, BBT never did ask for some french fried potaters mmm-hmmm. (Slingblade will forever be his best role) Highlight of the movie is when coach passes out on the mound while pitching BP.

Green Room– A touring punk rock band gets talked into playing a gig at a nazi skinhead shithole club in the middle of nowhere. Highlight of the movie is when they cover the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” throwing the crowd into a hissy-fit. One of the band members stumbles in on a dead skinhead girl and all hell breaks loose in a bloody mess of punks, skins and random weaponry. Patrick Stewart stars as the leader of the fascists in a strange roll that really works for him at this junction in his career– strange that Captain Picard doesn’t anymore.

***

I was sad to hear about Kenny Rogers floating to the Great Beyond a few days ago. My mother loved “The Gambler” and would proudly wear his tour t-shirt when I was a child. His death was sort of a revelation as I had forgotten about the baseball player Kenny Rogers. My friends and I would always snicker whenever we came across his card in a wax pack. Rogers had a solid season with the Athletics in 1998 going 16-8 and pitching a workhorse-like 232 innings before being shipped to the Mets the next season for Terrence Long. Long, of course, turned out to be a bust while The Gambler (the baseball player) went on to play 9 more seasons before retiring at age 42. Rogers most famous moment on a baseball field came in 1994 when he pitched the 14th perfect game in ML history against the Angels. Kenny Rogers most famous moment came when he did the duet “Islands In the Stream” with Dolly Parton. R.I.P. Kenny. (the singer)

Super Bowl shit show (literally)

“Shakira’s ass is amazing.”

I woke up late Sunday morning to gallop on down to the local coffee shop when I found a rolled-up cocaine-laden ten dollar bill on the ground. My lucky day, I thought. The neck bearded hipster behind the counter was talking to what I previously thought to be a homeless person about “simulated reality” before the conversation segued into Brad Pitt’s 1999 vehicle Fight Club.  I love this violent and political story-(although I find the characters to be juvenile, simplistic and self-serving)-of disenfranchised middle-class masculinity but this wasn’t the time or moment for a conference and debate.

“I highly recommend the movie in addition to the novel. It’s worth the time and it helps put the book into perspective,” said the espresso expert, and moments before I was about to disconnect his head from his flannel wearing body he takes my order of a medium black coffee with a splash of half and half. It was about 1 o’ clock so I headed over to my “baseball buddy” Manny’s house to watch Super Bowl LIV. We decided to play a game of Madden 2019 to kill time and he proceeded to “shart” on himself moments before halftime. Gross. After showering he eventually beat me 27-25. (Did you expect this blog entry to reek of any sort of profundity? The joke’s on you.)

The game itself was a pretty well played, entertaining enterprise and this may be America’s first look at a future super star in Patrick Mahomes. There was laughter at the mostly contrived commercials, debate on the attractiveness and booty mass of J-Lo and Shakira, beer drankin’ and pizza eatin’. Need I say more? The Chiefs eventually pull it out in the 4th quarter in a exciting affair, 31-20. Manny fell asleep and I walked home in a semi-drunken state pondering the game and thinking about the upcoming baseball season with a sort of mild euphoria.

Spring Training starts February 12th.

 

Houston, we have a problem! (Did Mike Fiers save baseball?)

He’s on Fiers!

“You better get your head and your ass together or I will take a giant shit on you.” –Full Metal Jacket (1987) or Rob Manfred to the Astros (2020)

The scandal involving the Houston Astros has been disputed and pondered more than all the John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories combined and I’m just about to put it to bed with a lullaby and an Ambien. The waltz of the heart and mind just wont let me contemplate ostentatious behavior for too long before the disappointment of the inevitable keeps me looking elsewhere for a more positive spin on things. Baseball, with its cult of the masculine hero-worship all but cold and lifeless should think about robot players…never mind the umpires. We will cease to worry about self-centered, money hungry, skin-sack douche-bags–at least until the robots rise up and destroy humanity a la The Terminator.

Where’s Kyle Reese when you need him?

Alas, no one really cares about baseball too much until football season is over and it looks like (at this point in time) former baseballer and pitcher Pat Mahomes’ son is going to showcase his unique skills in the Super Bowl. This is the time of year to huddle inside, watch some gridiron, avoid the cold, crush a few man-sodas and eat pounds of meat off the party tray after expertly picking around the gherkins and radishes. A friend of mine laughs at the new Budweiser “hard seltzer” commercial and compares it to Zima. He has no idea that these things are all the rage with college kids. Ok, Boomer.

That’s all I got for now…I’m off like a dirty shirt!

Raiders of the Lost Ro-ark

raiders roark

The Oakland A’s, in their never-ending quest to acquire all white guys named Tanner, acquired Tanner Roark from the Red-Legs at the 11th hour of the trading deadline for a high A prospect. If Homer Bailey is akin to ramen noodles, I would say Roark is the 99 cent kimchi ramen bowl. (I love to add my own kimchi to these, but that is a story for another time.) This is simply a small-market team with a Wild Card shot trying to hold together their pitching staff with duct tape and popsicle sticks in order to appease their fans and try to pull off another ragtag Oakland miracle. And I agree with it. I’ve bought into the future and the farm system, I drank the proverbial kool-aid and didn’t want to give up high-end prospects. Let’s all raise a glass for 2021!

***

More trade deadline crap: I’m not one to criticize the fans of my own team, but if you are going to be the proprietor of any sort of media platform concerning a baseball team, you should at least know a simple thing like…who is the general manager? I read numerous cases of people slandering Billy Beane about the recent acquisitions/lack thereof with David Forst being the actual GM making the big, important board-room decisions. Are baseball fans really smarter than the fans of other sports? Is it really so difficult to take 10 seconds out of your obviously busy life to google something? And if the answer is “no,” should I even care about what you have to say? That being said, it was satisfying and hilarious to see Yankees and Red Sox fans (probably the best example of toxic masculinity) having tantrums over the fact that neither team made a significant move at the deadline. This probably also means neither team has a shot in the playoffs because, well, you know…pitching.

Mars Attacks Homer Bailey

“Don’t run….we are your friends.”

There is nothing more therapeutic to a man’s soul than  cuddling on a velvet couch with a beautiful woman on a lazy Sunday and watching a hilarious, star-studded sci-fi movie based on a series of Topps trading cards. In this case she brilliantly chose Tim Burton’s 1996 flick Mars Attacks. I had seen the movie many times, so I didn’t have to watch intently and was able to periodically check my phone for the score of the A’s/White Sox game when the news hit the fan: the A’s had made a lesser deal with Kansas City involving 33 year old Homer Bailey for an insignificant minor-leaguer.

This trade was like eating ramen noodles; you eat it because you’re hungry, but it’s not really that appetizing or interesting. The A’s needed a starter….any starter not named Tanner Anderson, and Bailey fits the bill. The hurler was acquired for virtually pennies, makes the league minimum, (the Dodgers eat the rest as they ran Bailey out of town with torch and pitchfork without tossing a single inning) and the A’s are hoping against all hope that he can catch “lightning in a bottle.”

I don’t have the highest hoped for this trade considering Bailey has had a sub-par career, including a 1-14 6.09 ERA debacle in 2018. This could get ugly in a hurry. He has been serviceable this year, however, and the A’s are hoping he can simply keep them in games long enough for the offense to lead them to a few victories that perhaps will be valuable down the road when the smoke settles and 2 Wild Card teams emerge. This is the life of an A’s fan…the Red Sox get Andrew Cashner and the Oakland ball-club gets Homer Bailey. The rich get richer and the poor eat, well, ramen noodles.

The Oakland A’s and their June swoon.

june swoonI had what can be called a perfect summer evening last night: I watched Star Wars on a 60 foot screen on top of a 6 story building with the stars twinkling brightly above while drinking a wicked batch of sauvignon blanc.

These are the kind of nights that summer is supposed to represent: everyone is dressed casually and comfortably as they enjoyed a night out with friends and family and no cares in the world at that moment. After the movie my acquaintance and I returned to her house for some champagne and a light snack of falafel balls. The great ball of fires close vicinity to the Earth couldn’t ruin this perfect evening and perhaps even enlightened it with its creamy layers of cosmic beauty.

We had small talk for a moment about science fiction novels before “the acquaintance” slides in a DVD of Easy Rider and comments, “Boy, your baseball team sure does stink this year; it must be difficult to find things to write about on that blog of yours.”
“I’m not hypersensitive to it. Perhaps I’ve even given up–which makes me enjoy watching the fiasco all the more. It’s not as if I’m pulling my hair out; there is a sense of calm in losing. Now I know how Cubs fans felt all those years.”
“I find that hard to believe,” she said as she softly tossed her cat off the couch. “Ughh, don’t ever buy anything that eats.”
“Besides, why would I care so deeply about a bunch of millionaires running around in pajamas when I can think about how insignificant my own life is relative to a world that is filled with injustice?”
“I think a lot of the experience of being an adult is: what am I even complaining about?”
“Exactly. So I can be positive and talk about how Danny Valencia and Khris Davis are absolutely raking this season. And Daniel Mengden is a pretty exciting rookie.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about.”

“Neither do I,” I said as the opening credits to Easy Rider spread across the screen. I really do like Dennis Hopper in this movie I thought.