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5.28.2013

Game of Thrones

 

We got into Game of Thrones this past weekend and really have enjoyed the series. I'm not familiar with Martin's books, though I'm thinking I'd like to go back and get into them if the world-building and characterization are as keen as in the television series. 

It's not a perfect series, mind you, but it's wholly engrossing and nicely shot. The visuals are fantastic (love those shots of the wall) and the sets are beautiful in their own right. The costuming and score complement the dark tones--all quite nicely foregrounded by the compelling opening credits sequence. If you've seen a few episodes, you'll notice that it's got it's own cinematic signature. If you just walked in on an episode and you've seen it before, you'd know what you were seeing pretty quickly.

The negatives are also due in part to cosmetics. These stars, even the fierce Khal Drogo, have perfect teeth and flawless skin. These people (excepting Ned, of course) just don't know much about rough living, and that seems not to jive with some of the stuff I've read about Martin's books (there is a crazy in-depth Game of Thrones wiki online). Some of the characters are better developed than others, and that uneven treatment is a bit distracting. But still, I'm just in the first season. I'm sure some of the folks that haven't been touched on much will come into fuller dimension down the road.

All in all, it's been fun to get into a new world with a bit of a horrific undercurrent. Recommended... 



5.21.2013

Top Ten Hurlers I've Ever Watched Pitch...

Man, I love Major League Baseball. My Orioles are in a bit of a swoon as of late (they've lost four in a row), but they're built to contend all year. I'm expecting to take Lyla down to the Baseball Grounds a few times this summer to see the future Marlins play here in Jacksonville, which will be a nice way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

I was looking though my baseball cards yesterday and thought I'd compile a list of the top ten pitchers I've ever seen pitch. My criteria is that I excluded any pitchers directly tied to PEDs (sorry, Rocket) and I had to have watched the guy throw, whether it was on television or live at the ballpark. Obviously, this list will include a bunch of all-stars (yeah, yeah...I watch the MLB All-Star game every year) and postseason stars.

I'm not talking about stats here. I'm simply discussing make-up, stuff, consistency, and skill. Winning plays a role in this, but some great pitchers have been mired on terrible teams throughout the years. Just ask King Felix how he feels about that...

First, here are the honorable mentions:

Mark Langston, Mike Mussina, Justin Verlander, David Price, C.C. Sabathia, Mike Scott, Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Avery, Gregg Olson, Bret Saberhagen, Jimmy Key, Curt Schilling, Rick Reuschel, Dennis Eckersley Lee Smith, David Cone, Ramon Martinez...and many more I've not mentioned.

#10 Orel Hershiser
Hershiser had some of the most dominating stuff I've ever seen over his record-setting streak. A great pitcher with a really gutty postseason make-up...

#9 Dave Stewart
I watched Dave pitch in person back in the late 1980s. He would pull his bill down low over his eyes and just mow guys down. For about three years, Stew was simply unhittable...

#8 Pedro Martinez
Great player that was money in the postseason and flashed some of the best stuff for a five-year window that has ever been seen in the major leagues...

#7 Tom Glavine
I have this card, and a few others of his rookie vintage, in my collection. I've maybe watched more innings of Tom Glavine baseball than any other pitcher. I loved the way he changed speeds and I loved the way he kept hitters off balance. Tom Glavine was, and always will be, the very definition of a twirler...

#6 Roy Halladay
Here's a power pitcher that really knew how to pitch. Roy just won his big #200, and I hope he gets his body right and grabs another thirty or forty wins. A dominant pitcher, I've watched Roy pitch probably over 100 innings. It's been a joy...

#5 Mariano Rivera
I saw on the news yesterday that the all-time leader in saves has pitched 141 postseason innings, and he's allowed just eleven runs. Eleven runs! I know this isn't about stats, and it's about stuff, but this guy has the stuff. We call it the cutter. MLB players call it unhittable...

#4 Dwight Gooden
Unhittable. Dwight has what I consider to be the second-best all-time, single-season pitching record under his belt. He won almost 200 games, and his stuff was so filthy in the middle 1980s that the CDC refused to fill out a report on him. He was so filthy they just couldn't justify sending in the field agents...

#3 Greg Maddux
A fantastic cerebral pitcher with a deceptively good fastball, Maddux was amazing. I was tuned in when he almost pitched a no-hitter against the Astros back in 1995. This guy was so good that I can't believe he's #3 on this list!

#2 Nolan Ryan
Nolan was a treat to watch when I was a kid. I can't imagine how good it must have been to watch him throw when my old man was catching Orioles games down at Memorial Stadium. Nolan was dominant. Nothing else to say but that. "If he ain't struck you out, then you ain't nobody." ~ Ricky Henderson

#1 Randy Johnson
I have this card as well. Hell, I have most of these here. I love Randy Johnson. So dominant. So unforgiving. So unhittable. So many accolades. It's hard to think about winning the Cy Young award four times in a row, but the Big Unit did it. By virtue of television and proximity to Oregon, I watched and listened to loads of RJ baseball. Certainly the best I've ever seen...

This list will change over these next fifty years. Thank God for baseball!

As I write this, Nate McLouth has just crushed a walk-off against the hated Yankees. Here's to baseball, and here's to the Orioles, and here's to you, baseball fan, that might have stumbled upon my subjective ramblings!

5.17.2013

A Long Week

Whew...

Spent the week cooped up with my Frankenfoot on the couch, reading Foucault and Nietzsche. These classes I'm taking this summer are going to be really tough, but terrifically enlightening. I've already created a new presentation (prezi/PPT) that I will be using in my rhetoric classes in the fall based on some of the materials I've digested. 

Just got the stitches out of my wound this morning. Thankfully, the doctors said I didn't do any nerve damage and my bone structure is in good shape. There is such a huge amount of blood flowing to the human foot that my healing probably progressed just due to the injury's location. The skin knitted together properly and I'm pretty hopeful that I didn't have any infection. We'll keep knocking out the horse pills until they're gone just to be sure...

Long week for politics in America, and I'm just not sure what to think about all of this. The IRS scandal is really disheartening, and I hope that this doesn't go clear to the President's desk. If it does? Man....disheartening is all I can say. 

Waiting on news about a novel. Made some progress on a longer writing project. Received good news on a short story. 

Man, and I'm looking forward to jogging again! Losing the use of a foot puts a lot of things in perspective, and I certainly will do things differently moving forward. Take care of yourselves, folks. There's nothing like a little prevention on the front side to live a long and health(ier) life...

5.14.2013

Flat Bad Luck...

I've been kayaking dozens of times in Mill Cove and never had a problem. I love putting in there right off Merrill Road--it's close to home and usually an easy in-and-out. I catch lots of fish out there and really love the access and serenity of the place.

So you can imagine my frustration when I found myself in the emergency room as a patient for the first time since 1995 last Friday. 

Kris came into town to watch The Players with me, and we had been having a great time. We walked the whole course twice on Thursday. On Friday, we wanted to get out and do some fishing so we put in right there of Merrill. After two hours on the water, we were heading in. I moved to get out of the boat and put my foot down and my sandal broke and my foot slid sideways and came down on an oyster bed. 

Ouch.

I looked down at the sole of my foot and it was spurting bright red blood. Not just a little, either. I filled up the bottom of the kayak. The foot can bleed a little, as it turns out...

I whipped my shirt off and tied off the flow while Kris grabbed the boats and drove me to CareSpot. They doctor there took one look at it and sent me to the ER. Five hours later and after some of the worst pain of my life (they gave me an antibiotic shot that hurt worse than the spinal anesthetic I had for surgery back in 1995), they fixed me up. Thankfully, Jeanne came to the ER and held my hand while I clenched my jaw for two hours. 

A ten-centimeter laceration took eight stitches. I'm on serious meds (every six hours for one course of antibiotics, every twelve hours for a second course), as the water there isn't clean, and neither are the oyster beds. 

I let the foot rest on Saturday but headed out to the tournament on crutches on Sunday. I've been told I was on television, so if you saw a poor sap crutching around the stadium course, that was probably me. 

Next time, I think I'll wear thick-soled boots. Sheesh. 

Stitches out on Friday, but if you're apt to shoot a kind thought out there for an infection-free recovery, I'd much appreciate it!

Remnants: A Record of Our Survival is live with a new chapter, and I'll be posting soon about the challenging summer classes I'm taking down at UCF. Hope all is well where you are...

5.07.2013

The Players Championship



The Players Championship will be contested this week here in Northeast Florida. This is one of my very favorite times of the year, as the city of Jacksonville takes off work for a week and the world's top touring pros converge on the Stadium Course at Sawgrass. 

This is golf played at the highest levels. A shotmaker's course, the Stadium always seems to yield a remarkable Sunday finish. This will be my eighth year in a row of attending the tournament, and it's always fascinating to follow one of the more obscure trios with a tiny gallery. It's so instrumental to watch these players up close and how they approach the game, how they converse with their caddies, how they set up their shots. 

Kris is flying in from Portland this morning and we're going to play golf five of the next seven days. The other two days we'll be out at the tournament, watching some of the most riveting live golf played all year. 

Here's three I think can do a lot of damage on the leaderboard this weekend:


  • Boo Weekley. Boo's only missed one cut in eleven starts this year and he has been hot lately. When he's really on and rolling it, he can torch a shotmaker's course (that's why he won back to back at The Heritage, a similar course). Right now, it wouldn't surprise me to see Boo come out blazing on Thursday. I'm going to watch him for sure...
  • Adam Scott. Scott won here before and he seems so tuned in this year. He's had only four starts in the U.S. this year, but he's been dominant, winning The Masters and finishing near the top in the other tournaments. The difference is his putting and, after ten inches of rain last weekend, these greens are lush and firm (we've dried out nicely, so they're a 12 on the stimpmeter).
  • Luke Donald. He hasn't played well yet this year, but this is a great course for his game. Precision iron play, risk-reward shotmaking, and chipping and putting are Donald staples, and if he can get hot this would vault him right back into a solid standing in the world rankings.
Tiger will have his inevitable 10,000-spectator galleries, but I don't think he'll be much of a threat this year. The course seems not so suit his eye, even though he's won here multiple times in the past, and he has admitted that he often struggles with the layout. 

I'm looking forward to posting up on sixteen green and watching the approaches into that great eagle hole, then the island green tee shots.

A cold'un and some shrimp and grits and golf...that's spring in Northeast Florida!

5.06.2013

South of Okeechobee...

Ever wonder how the Skunk Ape came to reside in the Glades? If so, get a gander at this little slice of Florida folklore...

Chapter six of Remnants: A Record of Our Survival is live. Things are getting pretty desperate for the Keanes, but at least they're trying to get things turned around...

As you all know, it's important to treat your mother right. This is true at all times, but especially now, during their special week...