To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


The leader of the Catholic church, famous because he is named after half of the quartet that made up the Beatles, today called gay marriage an "attack on marriage and the family, from an ideological and legal aspect".

Besides being surprised since he rarely makes a coherent statement nowadays, I am also surprised by the America-centric nature of the Pope's statement. The largely Catholic Spain has nearly finished legalizing gay unions, and America is really the locus of all the fight right now in gay marriage rights, 11 states having banned gay marriage in November's elections. Even though one might cite some cynical numbers regarding our divorce rate, it still remains a fact that gay couples deserve the right to call themselves married on a piece of paper, therefore getting, if not a feeling of legitimacy, then certainly an equal standing in tax codes.

But what I find really amusing is this following section of the article:

"The Polish Pope on Saturday also condemned abortion, artificial procreation and equal status for cohabiting couples as undermining the marital state."

See, this here is where Catholics get in trouble. People in certain states are already laughed at when they confuse religion and evolution. What about religion and the law? If we can see the melding of religion and science as ridiculous, isn't mixing religion and the law worse?

"She's a Witch!! She turned me into a newt"

"A Newt?"

"I got better"

Sections of the Bible are used to combat homosexuality. But I can cite other sections that argue that Christians should smite anyone that is not of their faith, and yet others that prohibit lust. The only person in the past century that spoke out about lust was Jimmy Carter. And most Americans tend to laugh at his statements today, even as we become more morally corrupt.

The point is that if you can't just do one thing. If you're going to argue that the Bible prohibits sexual relations between people of the same gender, you also need to consider the statement that the Earth is 7604 years old (or something like that) or the concept of an eye for an eye. You can certainly believe otherwise, but those are parts of your religion that you have to come to terms with.

Many people in America that are against gay marriage believe in evolution. And yet many will sagely nod when they hear someone say that the Bible speaks out against gays, nevermind that love thy neighbor crap.

The Pope says that gay marriage is bad. Theoretically, Catholics should follow his decision, which is not anything new for the Catholic church. (although as John Kerry almost managed to show, legal matters and religion should never be mixed; he actually had a very nice statement about personal faith and political belief in the second debate)

The Pope says that abortion is bad. Theoretically, Catholics should follow this, and screw cases like miscarriage and rape, and screw the woman's right to control her uterus.

He speaks out about stem cell research, and if you're a Catholic biologist that follows the Pope, you might want to stay away from California and its 3 billion dollar fund for stem cell research. And if you're a Catholic with Parkinsons, you sure as hell better hope your faith is strong, because if you rely on science and stem cell reserach, you're going to hell.

He says that cohabitation is bad, and if you're a Catholic, you might want to move out of your girlfriend's apartment, lest you pay for it in the afterlife.

Where do you draw the line? When does religion become merely another tool, another excuse that you can use to repress those that don't believe as you do? If you're a devout Catholic, how much of the Pope's words do you take as religious directive, and how much do you ignore because it's more convenient for you to ignore it?

Why doesn't the Pope speak out against skinny, artificially enhanced pop-stars that corrupt our nation's youth while maintaining a facade of religious piety? (Jessica Simpson's father, a former minister (not Catholic though), recently said something to the effect of "My daughter has big boobs. No one can ignore her Double D's". No joke. They're real, and they're spectacular). Where does the tirade end? Because if we're talking about the fabric of society, I'll argue that it's been ripped to shreds by Carson Daly, Ron Artest, and Britney Spears.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Laptop Thoughts

Recently Published

A report a couple of weeks ago showed that when men sit with laptops in their laps, their sperm count lowers as a result of the increased temperatures in that area. Needless to say, males that have a penchant for blogging with their laptop while drinking Mountain Dew and scarfing down yellow M&M's aren't going to be procreating anytime soon.

I love science. The most wonderful way to live our lives is apparently to rejoice over technology that makes living oh-so-much easier and then panic when we realize that it gives us cancer or kills our potential babies. NOT THE POTENTIAL BABIES!!

As ridiculous as any report that discussed the impact of laptops or Yellow 5 on sperm might be (You know what lowers sperm counts? A swift kick in the junk), there is something serious at work behind the scenes. Unfortunately, that something serious is not our government with our best interests in mind.

No, what is working behind the scenes is a wizened old man behind a curtain, frantically keeping up a charade of knowledge and power in order to hide his true identity; that of a fraud that fortuitously stumbled on something good and decided to keep it for himself. It's not George Bush, or someone in Hollywood, or P Diddy.

We all have a decripit old bastard in our heads (not to be confused with Old Dirty Bastard, RIP - it would be worse if he were in our heads). He's in all of us, telling us that we know what we're doing, that the government is made of people like us (that know exactly what they're doing) and that as long as we keep plodding forward, no little dog is going to wander behind the curtain and reveal our dirty secret. It's not even that dirty once you get down to it.

The secret (shh!) is just that we're all human, and not some mystical know-it-all that can provide miracles upon request (No, that power is reserved for Miracle Max. Maybe Andre the Giant with a Holocaust Cloak), and that instead of demanding so much from our industries that regulation is thrown to the winds, we should take a little more care to learn about what we are ingesting and what we are driving.

The FDA is just wonderful. Little scandals are popping up right and left, and instead of discussing legislation that might extend the testing period of potentially dangerous (and even not potentially dangerous) drugs, for instance making a mandatory ten year test cycle for SSUI (selective seratonin uptake inhibitor) drugs followed by a ten year monitoring period of test subjects, the drug company stocks take a dip, the drugs are pulled, some people stop taking them, and everyone moves on.

The hardworking people at the FDA approve drugs without significant testing thanks to a drug lobby that is as powerful as the gun lobby or the tobacco lobby, and then five years later, reports come out that prove the drug unsafe, perhaps as unsafe as glass in your cigarette, or a AK-57 clone and some copkiller bullets in the hands of a high schooler. (for whom, perhaps, the miracle drugs are having little of their promised effect; does he think the fault is with the drug, or is the fault within him?)

What is the government to do? Point a finger at a lobbyist and say "He bought me off with lunch, a nice watch and Helga the masseuse?" Well if everyone wasn't so demanding, with their cries of "we can't raise our children!" or "I can't keep going to work" or "I don't want to deal with aging", maybe we could be a little slower and patient with the development of drugs. These aren't drugs that cure terminal illnesses, unless you're one of those morbid ones that consider adolescence and your forties terminal illnesses.

One day you're allowed to take one drug that helps arthritis and another that lowers your cholesterol and then the next day the drugs are being pulled off the market because they might make you grow an extra eye in the center of your forehead. Then there's the antidepressants that make life so HAPPY one day but then are decried the world over because just as they make some people HAPPY, the also make others kill themselves.

It's amazing how much we take for granted is dangerous, that could be much safer with a little more effort, even if that effort comes at a slight economic hitch. Our "meds" are one thing. Then there's transportation.

Driving is wonderful; it gets us to work, it takes us on vacation, to the local drugstore, to the mall, and if you're Hugh Grant or Denny Neagle, it gets you a blow job for between 40 and 100 dollars. And yet we go up to 85 miles per hour (or if you're like some people I know, 105) feeling safe, while they're really just flimsy pieces of sheet metal that will offer as little protection as a piece of tissue paper against a rifle if we get into a serious accident. People do get into a lot of serious accidents. Kills more than most major diseases combined, if I'm not mistaken.

There could be so much done to help cars be safer.

For one, kids can wait to drive. I didn't drive until I was seventeen, and to tell the truth, I probably could have waited until I was eighteen. No driving, no problem if your kid gets drunk at a friends house and suddenly panics about their curfew. You can't really control whether your child drinks at a friends house. But you can control how he or she get to that friend's house and how they get home. If it means you, the parent, have to stay up until midnight and be responsible, so be it.

With cell-phones, who needs a car? If you can't call a parent, call a cab. Ten, fifteen bucks, gets you home, no questions about the beer on your breath. Besides, a little more public transportation makes the environment safer.

Alternatively, when kids take driver's ed classes, they can be mandatory in school (no driver's ed, no high school diploma - that way, drop outs can't drive) and can be serious classes instead of some fat fifty year old with a hacking cough that lectures you in a dim classroom before taking you out onto the road for some real heart-wrenching adventure. Is your education district dropping music and art? Fine, but only if you offer driver's ed as a mandatory class junior year instead.

Second, laws are wonderful when it comes to DUI/DWI and other accidents. Suspension, 6 months? Take a refresher course that costs you a few hundred bucks? No way. Drunk driving should carry an automatic revoking of a person's license, no freebies, for two to three years. If they hit anything or anybody, not misdemeanor assault. Assault with intent to do bodily injury / Willfully destroying public or private property. Automatic jail time or heavy fines and community service. Actually I'm not familiar with all the state statutes and I'm pretty sure some states penalize much heavier and faster than others.

Of course, we could also pay a little money, or rather, the auto industry could pay a little money, and make the cars safer. If all cars had side-impact beams like Volvos, people might not get hurt as bad. I'm not saying that we need to make people roll in bubble wrap before entering a car if that's what makes them safer, but there's no way the body structure of most cars are designed for maximum safety. I'd rather give up a couple of miles to the gallon to make my car safer than a couple of miles to the gallon so I can drive something that rivals small buildings and looks good in black with rims. Then again, if I'm driving my Honda sedan and I get broadsided by a soccer mom in an Escalade, side-impact beams won't help me - heck, Gandalf probably couldn't help me.

I've blogged something like this before, a few weeks ago, on technology and regulations, and in some ways, I'm arguing the exact opposite today. Then, I wrote something to the effect of "technology fast, regulation slow, but it happens". Now, I'm not so sure. That was about the internet, I believe, and decency online.

We get into such a comfort zone with what we have sometimes that we're not willing to change our situation. For instance, if Americans suddenly had to give up their cars for a week so their vehicles could get fitted with side-impact suspension beams or ejection seats or whatever else, most people wouldn't do it; they would complain about needing to take the kids to school or needing to get groceries. Or just needing their car because even if they don't drive, they like to know it's there if they want to go out. On a more realistic level, we're not willing to take the time to learn how to drive safely, especially after that first time.

While chemical dependancy is a harder issue to break down, I'm pretty sure that a large number, possibly a majority, of American parents that are confronted with the possibility of placing their children on anti-depressants either don't know the potential side effects, or worse, don't care. I know that some kids need anti-depressants. I know that some kids need acne medication. But in our culture, what we need and what we want are as different as Bilbo and Gollum; that is to say, conceptually intertwined, but two distinct entities.

A large majority of us don't need Ritalin, or a Hummer 2, or anti-aging miracle drug. But we all want it because we're not willing to be human, suffer a little, and live our lives when technology advances safely around us. Instead, we let that little man behind the curtain hoodwink us into believing that the superstructure of our society is founded on solid principles of intellectualism, science and public safety when it's all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

I'm not advocating a return to collective agricultural systems or anything like that. Beaureaucracy is there for a reason. If I'm going to deal with red tape, and I know I'll have to deal with red tape, I want to know that it's going towards making my life safer and not getting some Senator some valuable stock options under the table. And if I know a drug is going to be safer when it comes out, I have no problem with waiting longer for it.

One day, a cute little dog will peel that curtain back a show us that little man inside. It won't be Michael Moore; he's not cute at all. It will be something a little more insidious and sneaky, something that will happen on an individual basis. We'll realize that certain parts of our life are so unstable that even though we've lived that way, well, it seems like forever, we can't do it anymore. Just because it's a law or it's tradition doesn't mean that it's what's best for us.

Mmmm, the sweet smell of Diatribe

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ok, nevermind

enough with the baseball.

I got through the AL Central and half the AL West before realizing that next year, there will still be five teams in contention for the AL title; The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Twin, the Angels, and the A's. Detroit might make a run at .500, but that's all the excitement one can find in the junior circuit these days.

I just remembered how frustrating the off-season is, with moves being made that make me look like Fred Astaire. And believe me, Fred Astaire I aint. Kris Benson for 22 mil? Pedro Martinez for 52-56 million over 4 years? I thought Minaya was supposed to be some kind of genius. If he deals for Sammy, we might have to start investigating Minaya for steroid use. At least he didn't sign Russ Ortiz for over 30 million. When the Rangers gave A Rod his ludicrous contract, they were overpaying for someone they knew would deliver. Teams are overspending this offseason for risky players that might not make it through spring training without losing a limb.

In more amusing news, see if you can spot the error in the following Daily News article.

"Anna & Enrique tie knot"

Russian tennis babe Anna Kournikova, who long has looked better than she played, secretly married Spanish crooner Enrique Iglesias, it was reported yesterday.

The blond beauty and her hunky boyfriend tied the knot in a private ceremony on a beach in Mexico last month, according to Us Weekly magazine.

Kournikova, 23, is said to have spilled the beans about the nuptials Sunday when she was spotted wearing a wedding band on her ring finger at a charity tennis event in Florida.

Asked what was cooking with with Iglesias, she was heard telling people, "Enrique is great. Everything is awesome. We are married," the magazine reported.

Kournikova's publicist said, "We never comment on her personal life."

Kournikova first wowed crowds as a teenager in the late 1980s and became known as the "Britney Spears of Tennis" although she never won a major tournament before announcing her retirement from professional tennis in March 2004.

Iglesias, the 29-year-old son of Spanish singer Julio Iglesias, sings in both Spanish and English and has had worldwide hits with songs such as "Bailamos" and "Hero."

Bad grammar aside (I know Anna speaks in broken English, but that doesn't mean an article written about her has to be), if Kournikova was a teen back in the late 80's I think her peers would have been Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, not Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova. And she would have been 7. Or she'd be in her mid-thirties now. Boy, accountability in journalism is kind of a crapshoot these days, isn't it? If you're not going to take the time to check up on your sources, you could at least do the math, right? Or maybe not . . .

Anyway, AL posts and NL posts when I regain the patience to deal with the world of baseball. Patience that is eluding me like Manny Ramirez and a fly ball.

Friday, December 10, 2004

On the Range


Home for the break already, so anyone else is home (Mike?), tell me. It's gonna get boring here real fast. Although by all rights, I should be working my ass off on the thesis. But a couple of days of rest and relaxation is permitted isn't it?

I still don't have my laptop, which part of why my posts have dropped from near daily to less than weekly now. But I'll make more of an effort now that I'm home.

Unfortunately, only two or so people are going to like this post, because I'm devoting it to baseball. Free agent signings and a look ahead to next year and what not. I figure that if I get it all (and by all, I mean over the next couple of days) out of the way in one fell swoop I won't have to bother anyone that doesn't want to read about baseball until March. Or until Carlos Beltran gets signed. Whichever comes first.

The BALCO Scandal really hit the fan over Bud Selig's head in the past month, with Gary Sheffield first admitting that Barry Bonds had given him something that Sheff didn't know was steroids at the time, and Jason Giambi's grand jury testimony (which was supposed to be secret) being broken to the press, in which he openly admits rampant steroid use, and the Big Bad Bonds himself admitting that he used steroids, although he thought "The Clear" and "The Cream" were flaxseed oil and an arthritis cream or something like that.

Barry, it's pretty obvious when you heal faster and get forearms like footballs that it's not the Ben Gay. Honestly now, at least Giambi came clean. Of course, his career is all but over now, what with the Yankees trying to purge the 82 million they owe him and his health in shambles.

That being said, steroid use has been in the open for a while, and MLB has done just about nothing to prevent players from abusing them; their drug testing policy basically tells the multimillionaire players that if they can stay ahead of the already antiquated standards, then they can go ahead and take all the hormones they want.

Now, if the owners were to threaten to pool funds at the player's cost (open collusion, anyone?) to establish a hardline drug testing standard that employed top of the line tests and testers and labs, then the game might get clean in a hurry. It would be kind of like a luxury tax, in which the more players you had that tested postitive for steroids, the more the team would have to contribute to the fund. Of course, that would penalize Steinbrenner the worst under what has already been revealed, but hey, is that so bad in the end?

The game isn't going to change a whole lot though. Sure, no one hit 60 home runs last year, but offense still went up overall. And more fans came than the year before. The game has surged to new highs after the '94 strike lows, and in part, the MLB does have to thank juiced sluggers like McGwire and Sosa (I just assume that Sammy's juiced, although there is the distinct possibility, given his recent fall of production, that he was clean at one point and is actually just showing his age. Besides, juiced players don't need corked bats). But they've been better at promoting themselves, and the increased parity has helped. With smaller market teams like the Marlins winning, and the Red Sox and Cub both fielding excellent teams perenially, fans have really come back to the sport. Steroids, which only show physically as enormous bulk, are not going to drive fans away until players start turning blue or looking like Bane from "Batman".

Moving along, I'm going to do a preview of all the teams in the MLB - what positions they need to fill and what they can do to fill them in this year's free agent pool. Yes, all the teams. Starting with the AL East. I might only do the AL East today. Maybe.

I also want to say that there are several interesting trades that might go down in the next few days, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. One I would like to see?

A three team, six, possibly seven player deal involving the Yankees, Rockies and Braves.

Yankees send Javier Vazquez (picking up part of his contract) to Atlanta and Tony Womack (who just signed) and possibly a middle reliever or midlevel prospect to Colorado. The Rockies send Preston Wilson to NY and Shawn Chacon to Atl. And the Braves send Andruw Jones to Colo. and Marcus Giles to NY.

This trade assumes (a big assumption, but let's see if it happens) that the Yankees DO NOT sign Carlos Beltran, because that would obviously solve their problem in center field. New York could also give up a setup man after signing Felix Rodriguez, but probably won't. Preston Wilson has apparently rehabbed well after his knee problems of last year required surgery. Marcus Giles would be their big pickup, as I sense the vertically challenged but very charismatic Giles would be a hit in the clubhouse and with the fans, and also solve huge problems at second base and in the batting order.

Andruw Jones has apparently worn out his welcome in Atlanta, and could benefit from the Coors air flattening out curveballs that he would normally flail at. Tony Womack would be able to fill a hole at shortstop that the Rockies have after cutting ties with Royce Clayton (definitely an upgrade over Clint Barmes). Also, Colorado has made it known that Chacon, Wilson, and Charles Johnson are on the trading block.

Marcus Giles would be an unfortunate loss for Atlanta, but they do have a plethora of middle infielders, with Rafael Furcal, Nick Green, Wilson Betemit AND Mark DeRosa all major league caliber. Atlanta would benefit by adding a legitimate starter in Vazquez who would benefit from Leo Mazzone's magical tutelage, possibly two if Chacon becomes a starter and Smoltz stays in his closers role. If Smoltz becomes a starter, Chacon gives them a decent closing presence.

I don't know, however, how the money works. Preston Wilson's 12 million dollar contract is a drop in the bucket for the Yankees, but Andruw Jones might be expensive for the Rockies, and Javier Vazquez might be too much for the Braves.

If this trade goes down, remember, you heard it here first.

The Yankees

What can you say about the Yankees? Their payroll will exceed 200 million next year unless they get rid of Giambi's contract, in which case it might fall under by just a bit.

They're the leading contenders in the race for Beltran, and I can see Scott Boras licking his lips right now because they Yankees might actually consider offering Beltran something approaching the 10 year, 200 million dollar contract that Boras has claimed Beltran is worth. I weep for Brian Cashman. He should be the posterboy for Mylanta and Rolaids.

Center field isn't exactly where the Yankees need to improve themselves most though. Bernie Williams is on the decline, but the Yankees really need to address a starting rotation that was only saved by a miracle named El Duque last season, a miracle that's not likely to happen again. Javier Vazquez looks like he'll fit in like a fat kid at a pool party, Mike Mussina is overdue for a real season, Jon Leiber is gone (Phillies, 3 years, 21 million), Kevin Brown is going to be 40 by Opening Day and El Duque might reveal that he's really 46 this offseason.

They just signed or are about to sign Jaret Wright (3 years, 21 million), which is a step in the right (sorry) direction, but Wright could turn into another Mazzone project that doesn't quite work outside the bounds of the ATL. Of course, he could turn into Jason Schmidt, but my money's on the former. He was looking awfully tired at the end of last season, which is not surprising given that last year was his first year of throwing anywhere near 200 innings since 1998.

The Yankees are of course going after Randy Johnson, but it looks like the Diamondbacks are demanding way too much and the Yankees can't work the deal, even if they do involve another team in the deal.

This leaves the Yankees with an opening day rotation of Brown, Mussina, Wright, El Duque and a fifth starter, likely Eric Milton, now that Al Leiter (Marlins) and Brad Radke (Twins) are off the market. That's actually pretty decent, although there are way too many questions (if you look at El Duque during his windup, he actually starts looking like a question mark - kind of) there for Steinbrenner to be comfortable. To partially remedy that, he seems likely to sign every middle reliever known to man, having already grabbed Mike Stanton and Felix Rodriguez. Of course, this still leaves the Yankees with an aging bullpen that would be a lot more intimidating with a device that could turn time back about four years or so.

Oh, and they signed Tony Womack to address a hole at second base, which wasn't a bad move actually. Womack is a little too old at 36 to be the leadoff hitter and basestealer he was a few years ago, but he can still perform, as he evidenced last year with the Cardinals. He's also excellent trade bait, as his two year contract came fairly cheap at 4 million.

The Yankees still have no depth in their minor league system, their closest prospects to the majors still being untouchable Dioner Navarro, who will never see the day as long as Jorge Posada is still playing and pitchers Scott Proctor, Brad Halsey and Alex Graman, good prospects, but nothing spectacular.

The Boston Red Sox

Coming off their World Series Win, the Red Sox look to spend even more money than they did last year to field another dominant team. It's looking more an more like Pedro is going to realize that no better offer is going to come along than the 3 years + option that he got from the Mets, and if Pedro want to pitch for the Mets, he's crazier than I thought he was. He probably won't be a Yankee, although he wants to be, in his heart of hearts. I don't expect the Red Sox to offer a fourth year, but Pedro probably will re-sign if the money goes up even a little.

The Sox have Schilling, Wakefield and Arroyo returning, and that's a pretty good core to build around. If Pedro comes back, their starting rotation is formidable, considering they still have Byung Hyun Kim gathering dust in AAA.

The news that they just signed Matt Mantei bodes well for their bullpen, as the big men, Embree, Timlin and Foulke, are all back next season, Mike Myers might come back and best of all, Curtis Leskanic is no longer around.

The only real hole the Red Sox have is in the middle infield, as Orlando Cabrera has likely been priced out of the Red Sox's range with the high money signings that went to Omar Vizquel (Giants) and Christian Guzman (Nationals). Pokey Reese is a gold glover at short or second, the only question being whether the Red Sox will want his anemic bat in the lineup as well.

Jason Varitek still has not been signed, and a platoon of Doug Mirabelli and prospect Kelly Shoppach would be likely if Varitek left. Other issues to address include having two major league third basemen and two (three including David Ortiz) first basemen. Bill Mueller and Kevin Youkilis can't both play third and Kevin Millar and Doug Mienkeiwicitz (sp?) aren't both going to play first.

With several good prospects (Hanley Ramirez) waiting in the wings, the Red Sox look pretty strong for the next year, even if they don't manage to sign their biggest free agents (the only must sign is still Jason Varitek) or make any huge moves on the market.

The Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore just hasn't been the same since that Jeff Maier kid ruined everything. Even after they put together a decent season highlighted by an asounding under the radar performance by Miguel Tejada, who even at 12 million a year is a bargain, and gave a very young pitching staff some time to cut its teeth, people still laugh at the Orioles, whose owner Peter Angelos doesn't think his team can deal with another one moving in 60 miles down the coast in DC. That's faith for you.

In any other division, it would be safe to say that there would be no place to go but up for a team with Tejada, Javy Lopez and Raffy Palmiero supported by Melvin Mora, now a star in his own right, Dave Newhan and good position players in Brian Roberts and Jerry Hairston. Jay Gibbons was expected to hit the 30 HR mark this past year by many, and failed to impress. He'll have to be a presence in the lineup next year for this team to succeed. I don't see this team signing a Carlos Delgado or Richie Sexon, only if they've already developed too many first basemen that swing a lot, miss a lot, and homer a lot.

Unfortunately a merely solid rotation with the very solid Sidney Ponson at the forefront is too top heavy. Next year, the Orioles have to expect Kurt Ainsworth to be back, Rodrigo Lopez to be brillant, Daniel Cabrera to show what he's made of, and Sidney Ponson to lose a whole lotta weight. The free agent pitchers in this market are to expensive for the Orioles (Pavano is going to sign for a lot, Lowe might be in reach, Esteban Loaiza and Aaron Sele might be more what they can get). Jorge Julio is also a liability in the ninth inning, despite his electric stuff. Needless to say, all of this happening is not looking too likely. But if Ponson can rein in the trips to Baskin Robbins, this team could play a good spoiling role next year.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Lou Pinella is starting to get frustrated with the lack of economic support he's getting, but this team is still young. Carl Crawford is a joy to watch on the bases, and the team really needs to find a position for BJ Upton. Along with speedster Joey Gathright, this team can run circles around the bases faster than Hideki Irabu can eat a hot dog.

Aubrey Huff looks to have another strong season, although it's unfortunate that he's the only real power presence in the lineup. Considering Tino Martinez won't be back, some help at first or even third (Huff can move to first) would be a huge bonus. But it's one that the front office is not going to fund, considering the decent first or third basemen within their price range are limited to John Olderud, Joe Randa and Corey Koskie. Even Tony Batista might be out of reach. This compounded with the fact that Rocco Baldelli is going to miss significant time next year makes Tampa's initial outlook for next year look rather stormy.

The Devil Rays also managed to find an easy mark with the New York Mets, who took Victor "Wa'happen to the Strike Zone?" Zambrano off their hands AND gave them Scott Kazmir, who struck out 41 in 33 innings after a September callup. However, they desperately need good seasons from Daewon Brazelton and Mark Hendrickson, who do have the capability to shine. Again, starting pitching is way too expensive this year for a team with an annual budget of around 30 million. The best they could do would be Matt Clement, and that would be considered a blockbuster. If they could only figure out what happened to Damian Moss, this would actually be a good team. They have some presence in AAA (Durham Bulls, baby), but it's unlikely that they can ride a D-Train equivalent next year.

The Toronto Blue Jays

Now that those pesky Expos are gone, the Jays can finally get down to conquering the hearts of mounties and common folk all over the Great Country of Canadia. Or not. Has everybody forgotten that the Expos and Jays fielded excellent teams in the 90's?

The Jays are losing Carlos Delgado, their one true star. Vernon Wells is excellent, but not my idea of a team icon.

Even Roy Halladay was a surprise two years ago. Halladay will be an ace again next year after finally pitching less than 200 innings last year, but with Ted Lilly and Miguel Batista behind him, hope is a rare commodity. This is a team the doesn't need to worry a whole lot about signing a top tier closer, considering the save opportunities are going to be sparse at best. They might delve into the market for some pitching depth, but I can't see them pursuing pitcher that can earn anything more than 4 million a year.

There's really nothing spectacular at the minor league level, although products Gabe Gross and David Bush performed admirably last year and will have to do so again if Toronto doesn't want to become a laughingstock.

The catcher position is going to be a significant problem, as Kevin Cash is nowhere near money, Guillermo Quiroz is solid but offensively inept, and Greg Myers is a catcher pushing 40. Toronto has to find at least a decent backup catcher, and might not be able to do better than Paul Bako, although it is doubtful Bako won't re-sign with the Cubs. Brook Fordyce would be my pick for them.

The one bright spot at the moment is shortstop Russ Adams, who looks like he's going to have a very solid rookie season this coming year.

That's it for now, but more later

Friday, December 03, 2004

Final Stretch

Neurobio - Milton - PRINCE NAMOR?

While most college students are still at school and will be until late this month, the fortunate sons and daughters of Dartmouth throw down the Doubleshots and the NoDoze and whatever else helps overacheiving Ivy Leaguers study these days as they lament their two day reading period before finals start. Actually, the last day of classes was Wednesday, so the first finals are tomorrow. My only real final is Neurobiology on Sunday, but I do still have my thesis to think about (next chapter that is). But on one of my numerous breaks from neurons and narcissism, I've stumbled across this deliciously inane fact: Marvel is making a movie out of their most homosexual superhero. And most of them are pretty homoerotic to begin with.

Yes, the one and only Submariner, also known as Prince Namor of Atlantis. It's apparently being helmed by Chris Columbus of "Home Alone" and "Harry Potter" fame. I can see it now: FADE IN: On The King of Atlantis and his Queen on the back of a Commercial Travel Whale "Honey, we've left LITTLE NAMOR at home . . . alone!! And Lord Voldemort is back along with overhyped, rehashed, fantasy standards!! CUT TO: NAMOR, floating in pool. He claps his hand to his cheeks and his mouth opens to yell but all we see are air bubbles. PAN OUT: oh yeah, he's got gills (he does, doesn't he?). and a tight speedo.

Starring: Jackie Chan in another attempt to transcend his action movie career and be funny as Prince Namor
Willem Dafoe as the colonialistic and slightly schizophrenic Sir Edwin Moreland
Kelly Hu as his cold, mute secretary, Rice-A-Roni (Mutant Power - Pressure Cooker) - if you don't know what I think of Kelly Hu (or her agent, perhaps) see 11/13 rant
AND introducing Zhang Ziyi as Namorita, the little sister that will be the subject of a spinoff movie

Why anyone would make a movie out of the Submariner, who is pretty much the same as Aquaman but with pointy ears and a speedo (wait, does Aquaman have pointy ears and a speedo too? I'm not a big aquatic superhero buff), is beyond me. He swims with Dolphins and is the heir to a large underwater realm. Yay? There might be some angst / class-conflict in there considering he's not quite human, but I don't know what they could do that X-Men couldn't. He's torn because he helps humans but his kingdom is a isolationist, xenophobic nation of utopians? Actually, I'm starting to see it in a little better light; little Dubya allegory, some border angst, and we have a statement. That would be too unintentionally funny though.

I suppose it shows that with the big superheroes movies being planned, as well as several second tier ones, producers and writers and Stan Lee's ego have decided to turn to tertiary heroes like Submariner. Yes, he has a long history. Dick Tracy has a long history too. I don't see Warren Beatty and Madonna clamoring for a second Dick Tracy.

Why not make a Silver Surfer movie? I like Silver Surfer. He was the man. Started his career as the Herald of the evil Galactus if I'm not mistaken. But then again he does just travel the universe on a surfboard. Yes, his board is silver and so is he, but that's a step more special than Daredevil being a blind lawyer that can see. And Joel Schmucker's Batman as a playboy in vinyl with some fancy gadgets and mesmerizing peepers.

I want a movie about a villain. All about a villain. Dr. Doom: Origins would be an especially easy one. Kingpin just got fat and killed some people. Doom is the dictator of a small Eastern European nation hidden behind a fortress and an iron mask.

Spiderman 2 would have been a good movie if Spiderman wasn't in it and it was called Alfred Molina is: Doc Ock, He might have been overweight and topless most of the movie, but he was a good Doc Ock. I remember watching the animated series and one of the best lines was given to Felicia Hardy (later to become the Black Cat), who said of Doc Ock "just like Flash (Thompson): all hands". I think they would have been fined for that nowadays.

I can see the Supervillain genre taking off in less than five years like the Superhero one really exploded with Spiderman. There's actually some potential there, although the problem would be that you could never write a movie all about a racist stereotype villain like . . . the sinister Mandarin for example.

Actually, considering Namor will probably have to have an asian male lead, I wonder how they're going to deal with that. Is a Rick Yune fronted Superhero movie as acceptable as a movie with Tobey McGuire or Ron Perlman or Christian Bale? Blade is a minority superhero, but he's also a bad superhero, in that he's supposed to be a bad-ass and in the overall bad quality of the movies themselves (first one was OK, second one kinda sucked, I hear this last one beats them all). But he is, like Namor, only half human (Blade is half vampire, Namor is half amphibian).

Can we have a minority superhero movie about a superhero that's completely human? It's not like all superheroes are half-human - Batman is all human. Superman is all Kryptonian, Spiderman is human. Hellboy is all demon. Interesting . . . I'd never considered the superhero movie genre that way, but it seems to make a lot of sense. The Crow and Spawn had minority leads, even though I don't think O'Barr made The Crow part-asian in the comic books, but neither of those two were all human either - they were both dead.

Has Marvel or DC ever made an all-human, ostensibly African American superhero that didn't have the word Panther in their name? Storm, yes, but she was also a West African Goddess in the comic books. Are there any hispanic superheroes? I always thought that Hellboy should have been hispanic.

I know Kevin Smith has made jokes about this in Chasing Amy, but it makes you wonder how Hollywood will treat what few minority superheroes there are. And there are a precious few. It seems to me that it's too difficult to make a superhero that wears a mask and then takes off the mask to reveal another mask. Bruce Wayne and his tortured past is one thing, but it's a more difficult task (one that most people aren't willing to try) to make, say an African American Batman that isn't Shaft or LeBron James under the suit.

Female superheroes have it bad too, in that most of them end up dead or mentally brutalized in the comic books. It's fairly vicious actually. Look it up sometime. A disturbing number of them end up dead, or raped and in a mental institute. No joke. Kind of freaky.