Monday, April 30, 2007

cosmic softball diva

You'd think something interesting could have happened in the last two weeks while I was gone, something profound or wonderful that was worth blogging about. Maybe some life-altering decision, some mind-bending realization, or perhaps...the greatest epiphany ever experienced.

Instead, I'm coaching a girls softball team, 11-12-year-olds. I don't even have girls. Now I know why.

Don't get me wrong. I like girls. They're amusing, they're cute...but they're bonkers.

Ya can't get them to sit still in the dugout, which isn't much different from the boys. But instead of kind of hanging on the fence, cheering on their teammates...they do these dopey choreographed cheers, shaking their asses and doing the frigging Macarena in the dugout.

In response, the girls from the other team dance and cheer louder. And it goes back and forth.

There's no choreographed cheering in softball! When the hell did THAT happen? I didn't do that when I played at that age. Ya went in, ya played, ya cheered your teammates on, and that was it. Now it's now a big frigging Broadway musical?!

And there's this pitcher. She plays on two teams, but our lowly Little League team is her second choice. She shows up one game and expects to pitch, because that is what Madmoiselle does. So she pitches some, and jams her finger on a throw back from the catcher.

OMG, EAR-PIERCING SCREAM, followed by LOUD wailing, and then she crumples--literally crumples, almost like the Wicked Witch of the West but a little faster--onto the mound. Wailing.

The other team's coach goes running out. The one dad who's helping me goes running out. I stand there. I don't quite know what to do. I mean, it's a girl, for starters, and how the hell do I deal with that noise out there? She just wasn't pushing my empathy button. I may not have girls, but I am one, so I figure she's probably overreacting a tad. So I wait a moment, and stroll out there.

"You ok?"

Sniffle. "I dunnnnno....I jjj--jjj---jjjammed my fff--ffff-ffinger." Sniffle.

"All right. Get up and pitch some. See if it still works."

She tries and she can't, so I pull her out, put some ice on her finger, which--miraculously--looks ok. She goes back in and plays 1st base next inning.

A week later, she gets hit in the face with a ball while playing first. Got a big shiner. Still has it.

Must be cosmic softball diva punishment.

Monday, April 16, 2007

blowin' in the wind

We’re in the midst of what some quaintly call a Nor’easter. As in, “Look out, Ethel, there’s a Nor’easter a-blowin!” Before it got here, it was blowing around Texas and parts of the Midwest. Do they call it a “Mid’wester” there?

These storms are nasty, violent evidence of the power of nature. The Nor’easter doesn’t just rain. It:

“lashes the East Coast” (Toronto Star)
“pounds the eastern seaboard” (The Age, Australia)
“pummels” (Mail & Guardian Online)
“slams” (Disaster News Network)
“kicks East Coast in the shins and then runs away” (Weekly World News)

And then, because all the good action verbs have been taken, it always eventually resorts to the weary cliché, “wreaks havoc.”

It “brings” things with it, like it was coming to your house for a party: things like “heavy rain” “flooding” “high winds” “evacuations” “deviled eggs” and “wine-in-a-box.”

The Nor’easter doesn’t just represent nature’s wrath. As Pat Robertson likes to remind us from time to time, God’s wrath often steers the weather.

"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," he said last May. Gee, ya think? "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest," he said.

Robertson has a rather abysmal record of weather forecasting. He predicted that God would punish Orlando with “earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor” because the city voted to fly rainbow flags during Disneyworld’s annual Gay Day. Ok, a meteor isn’t exactly a weather event, but it would be a pretty cool way to let us know He’s pissed.

Robertson asked God to alter the course of Hurricane Gloria, which ended up causing billions in damage in many states along the coast. Oops! And he later beseeched God to prevent Hurricane Isabel from hitting Virginia Beach, where his headquarters are located. It ended up being the costliest and deadliest hurricane of the 2003 season. Ruh-roh!

So let’s see if I have this correctly: God controls the weather. Pat talks to God. Then Pat controls the weather. God realizes Pat’s a looney, suggests that Nature takes over, tells Satan that Pat will be visiting very, very soon. And he’s bringing the deviled eggs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

more horrors at the Ack-a-me

Maybe it’s because I have a history of paranoia involving supermarkets, or maybe it’s because I seem to spend so much time in them—another lifelong dream fulfilled—but I find them endlessly fascinating.

For instance, I had previously blathered on about stray carts in the parking lot and the stupidheads who leave them there. Here’s a perfect example. Here are four carts, perhaps suicide carts, planning their next mission: rolling into adjacent parked cars as if pushed by an unseen hand. Maybe that’s why they seem to congregate: to plan revenge on the morons who leave them there.

“Yeah. Joey, you get the red Ford pickup; aim for the Bush/Cheney bumper sticker. Myrna, you hit the Escalade. REALLY HARD! LEAVE A MARK! You, Bongo: See that one stopped in the fire lane? It’s been there for 10 minutes. Aim for the driver’s side. Plan for injury.”

If you look closely, you can see the cart corral at the entrance of the supermarket JUST STEPS AWAY.

Inside, the horrors abound.

Look at this box:

Ack! A flying giant ravioli saucer has landed on planet Earth! The biggest ravioli the world has ever seen!

I mean, I understand the statement “enlarged to show texture.” But there is no texture. It’s a perfectly formed, uniformly smooth …pasta breast implant. And it looks so tasty pictured there frozen on the conveyor belt!

To avoid confusion—or perhaps add to it—the box prominently says it’s large (not small!) round (not square!) cheese (not meat!) ravioli (not tortellini!)…just in case you couldn’t tell from the picture. How they fit a dozen bowler hat-sized raviolis into that box escapes me.

I laugh at this box every time I go in the supermarket, which perhaps says more about me than it should.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

wow, now THIS is a bummer

"Sue me if I play too long."

--Steely Dan

From everywhere:

"The UN report on global warning, in a sense, is a more focused indictment of the world's biggest polluters -- the industrialized nations -- and a more specific identification of the victims. Last-minute negotiations led to deleting timelines for future events and scaling back the degree of confidence in some projections. Both actions will ease the pressure on industrialized nations to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are gradually warming the planet.

"Several scientists vowed afterward that they would never participate in the process again because of the political interference."Once is enough," said John Walsh, a climate expert at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who helped draft parts of the report. "The science got hijacked by the political bureaucrats at the late stage of the game." The report paints a bleak picture of the future.

In light of this report--which basically says we're just like caged animals, shitting up our own home because we have nowhere else to go and we're too stupid and lazy to figure that out--I had to post this. I read this piece by Carl Sagan a few times a year, because it's so lovely and so sad.

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

"The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

boy nuts

I've not been very good at this since I started this job. That kinda blows.

The boys have a swim meet this weekend in Delaware, the Eastern Regionals. So far they've dropped all their times; Remy dropped 10 seconds off one time, and they're up there in the top 10 in all their events. So they're having a great meet.

As a reward of sorts, we took them to Cracker Barrel on the way home last night. Mmmmm, good eatin'.

As we walked in, Remy asked why so many old people go there. I said, well, the food's all mushy and goopy, easy for old people to eat. We decided that should be the new slogan.

Cracker Barrel. Food so mushy, even old people can eat it.

So we go in; it's packed. We have to mill about in the gift shop along with a busload of tourists (tourists?! in NJ?!). Boo finds one of those stress-relieving heads, the one that you squeeze and its eyes and ears pop out, and HAS to have it.

We're seated, eat our delicious dinner of country-fried steak, chicken and dumplins, biscuits, etc, watch as our blood pressure and cholesterol levels skyrocket...and then the boys have hot fudge sundae desserts.

Ooops. There are nuts in the sundaes. Nuts don't belong in sundaes, according to the boys. I forget exactly how the conversation started, but it went something like this:

Me, earnestly: "Did you eat your nuts?"

Peals of giggles from both boys.

Me, playing along now: "What, you don't like your nuts?"

More giggles.

"Here, give it to me. I'll eat your nuts."

Loud guffaws, soda squirting out of nose.

"I like nuts. They taste good. I could eat nuts all day. What, you guys don't like your nuts?"

More howling.

"They're not very big, are they?"


Then, Remy says, earnestly: "What happens if they go bad?"

"Well, nuts can get all black and shriveled up when they go bad."


That continued for a little while until they finally figured out--and it took them awhile--that I was on to them. There's nothing that brings the family together quite like sharing a little sex joke with your kids.