Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy 40th, 747!

The Jumbo Jet hits the big four-oh today.

The first 747 was rolled out before the assembled press in Everett on this day in 1968, though it didn't actually take wing for another four months. I snapped this photo of that same plane about ten years ago, as it sat forlornly at Boeing Field, stripped of its jets. It has since been restored and is now displayed as part of Boeing's Museum of Flight.

I've never actually flown on one, but whenever I see one of these behemoths taxiing across the tarmac, I still marvel that they do indeed get off the ground.

Official site.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Baseball Bonkers!

Check out this cute kid and her Ichiro portrait that I snapped at today's 2008 Mariners finale.

The M's beat the A's, 4-3, thereby avoiding the distinction of '08's worst team (the Nationals lost 102 games, the Mariners lost 101). Still, 2008 goes down as the lousiest Mariner season in 25 years, and the M's became the first team in history with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games. Ouch.

Regardless, I obsessed over baseball more this season than possibly any other, beginning with the number of games I attended. Starting on opening day and concluding today, I went to ten games at Safeco, plus seven games in other cities (Boston, D.C., Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit), and also a minor league game in Tacoma, and I kept score at most of 'em... So maybe I didn't go to that many games, but that's a lot for me.

My travels last week brought my current-stadiums-I've-been-to-games-at total to 20. Here they are, in descending order of preference:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)
AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)
Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)
Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)
Yankee Stadium (New York Yankees)
PNC Park (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)
Shea Stadium (New York Mets)
Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers)
Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)
PETCO Park (San Diego Padres)
Nationals Park (Washington Nationals)
Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies)
Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)
Chase Field (Arizona Diamondbacks)
Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati Reds)
Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers)
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland A's)
Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)

That list will drop to 18 venues when next season starts, due to the simultaneous closings of Yankee and Shea stadiums, which will move over to my defunct-stadiums-I've-been-to-games-at list. So far that list includes Memorial Stadium (Orioles), Qualcomm Stadium (Padres), Candlestick Park (Giants), and the Kingdome (M's).

I've also bought more baseball cards this year than any time since the '80s, and about the only books I've read so far this year have been baseball related: Sayonara Home Run! by John Gall and Gary Engle, You Gotta Have Wa and The Samurai Way of Baseball by Robert Whiting, and most recently, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. I certainly listened to more ballgames games on the radio this season than any other, and one of my favorite albums so far this year is by the Baseball Project.

As for Ichiro, after eight major league seasons, he's amassed 1,805 hits and a career batting average of .331. Only Wee Willie Keeler has also had at least 200 hits in eight consecutive seasons (1894-1901), though Ichiro's the only one to do so starting with his rookie season. And, counting his 1,278 hits playing pro ball in Japan, Ichiro passed the 3,000 hit mark in July.

I put together a killer album of 65 Ichiro baseball cards, plus I started an Ichiro clippings/photo file, much of which will eventually see the light of day on my upcoming Ichiro fan page. I hope to post it while he's still a Mariner.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

We Hardly Knew Ye: Paul Newman

This one's hard to believe -- perpetually cool 'n' suave all-around swell guy Paul Newman is dead at 83. The sort of cat who seemed like he'd live forever, Newman bridged the Hollywood gap between Cary Grant and George Clooney, a beloved, highly respected, can-do-no-wrong actor who exuded both the savoir faire and the silly, often in the same role.

His handsome puss shall perpetually live on in my fridge, as it has for the past decade or so, on jars of his mushroom marinara.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back in the USA

Today I drove under the Detroit River through a tunnel to Windsor, Ontario, bringing my provinces-I've-visited count to two. But it wasn't easy. I've driven back and forth across the Blaine border crossing several times without incident. Today, the Canadians asked me a whole battery of questions before having me get out of the car. They gave it a cursory search before letting me pass. I then spent about an hour in Windsor, going to a couple Tim Hortons and picking up a Quatchi T-shirt for Eliza at HBC (with the awesome display, above). The whole time in Ontario I was fairly disoriented, even with a GPS, 'cause this part of Canada is actually south of the US.

Anyway, crossing the Ambassador Bridge back into the Great White North of America, the US Customs folks not only made me get out of my car, but had me but sit in a waiting room for close to a half hour while they checked me out, and my car was sniffed down by a dog. Apparently an unshaven middle-aged video store manager, traveling alone, flying from Seattle to to D.C., renting a car, driving to Detroit, and sightseeing in Windsor for an hour is cause for concern, for both countries. The Canadians were the only ones to ask me about the footprints on the roof of my car -- it was because I climbed up there to snap pix of Tiger Stadium over a fence. They thought that was funny. I gotta say, the Canadians customs people were much cooler than the Americans.

After motoring through more urban blight (and snapping a picture of this Kowalski sign), I walked around downtown for a spell. I saw two cool sculptures: the Spirit of Detroit the Joe Louis fist, but my main destination was the wiener smackdown on Lafayette, with Lafayette Coney Island right next door to American Coney Island. Though I didn't set out with this in mind, this trip has been about hot dogs just as much as anything. I've probably eaten more of 'em in the past week than I ever have before, at least from unique places (I've gone on hot dog binges at home, when I've been too habitually lazy to prepare anything else). Today I ate one chili dog apiece from both venues, just minutes apart. Both were good. I declare a draw.

The Tigers followed me from Cleveland to Detroit, so I went to their game tonight against the Royals... Comerica Park's a decent newish stadium, though nothing breathtaking... It has a Ferris wheel (the gondolas are baseballs) and a merry-go-round (the horses are tigers), both of which are out-of-place (that's me in the mirror of the photo above )... I do like the stadium's navy/orange color scheme, mimicking the team's colors... And I like the dirt path from the pitcher's mound to the home plate cutout, itself shaped like home plate (as seen in the photo below)... After seeing the super hi-tech scoreboard in Washington, Comerica's is pretty shitty... I admittedly enjoy Little Caesars pizza, so I ate a little cheese pie at the game (its parent company also owns the Tigers)... The tiger theme is played up about as much as the pirate theme is in Pittsburgh; the massive tiger sculptures all over the stadium are total overkill, but I love the unintentionally funny tiger growl that blasts over the PA after every Tiger run...

Sadly, I only got to hear it twice. For the record, the Royals won, 6-2, ending my five-game streak of seeing the home team win.

Fortunately, there was no riot.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Motor City is Burning

I always stop to take a picture of any "Steve's" I run across; this one in Cleveland is by far the best. And the front window proved prophetic: Steve's (my) lunch today consisted of coffee and hot dogs. For dessert, Steve (I mean, I) drove to the nearby Elmwood Home Bakery (as seen in the awesome American Splendor), but it was closed today.

Headed out west on the Ohio Turnpike, where I checked out the beautiful downtown home of the Toledo Mudhens (Tacoma should do something similar for the Rainiers). Then up into Michigan (bringing my states-I've-visited count to 34), driving past the monstrous Michigan Stadium and the communal houses where the Stooges and the MC5 lived in Ann Arbor, and then passing the Uniroyal Giant Tire along I-94 on the way into Detroit -- time to roll 'em up.

Here's what's left of Tiger Stadium, which I wish I got to see intact before its demolition began earlier this year:

And the exterior:

A few blocks away is the creepy Michigan Central Station, built in 1913, closed in 1988, and has since been heavily stripped and vandalized, and it seems to be crumbling.

It was fenced-and-barbed-wired off, but I heard the occasional breaking of glass coming from deep within, which spooked me in a haunted-house sort of way.

My inner-city driving tour also took me past the Hotel Yorba, the Grande Ballroom, and Hitsville U.S.A.. Downtown, I walked around the outside of the new Tigers stadium (where, oddly enough, I saw a stray cat scurrying down a concourse), and Ford Field (where the Hawks and Stones appeared at Super Bowl XL).

Finally, I took a spin on the clunky People Mover. I've heard it described as a monorail, but I can confirm that it's not. The cars runs on two rails.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Goodbye Cleveland!

Here's a fitting image for my day, seeing as how I saw a bunch of Stones stuff at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and then went to another Indians game. I thunk up this visual portmanteau about ten years ago, and emailed my idea to the editor of the (defunct?) baseball/rock zine, ChinMusic!. Kevin did the artwork (myself, I wouldn't have distorted the Stones logo, but otherwise it looks good), and then he made it into buttons, which you can buy here.

No pictures allowed at the rock hall, so none here. Anyway, I was skeptical going in (no enshrined Stooges!?), but the museum has so many amazing, unexpected artifacts that I couldn't help but be impressed. Some of my favorites: Chrissie Hynde's jacket from the cover of Pretenders, Handsome Dick Manitoba's jacket and boots from the cover of Go Girl Crazy!, ZZ Top's Eliminator, and issue one of Bruce Pavitt's Subterranean Pop zine (part of a larger Seattle grunge display). Keeping current, there was even Feist's blue jumpsuit from her 1234 video. The most awesome item though was Paul Simonon's splintered bass from the cover of London Calling.

A cool temporary exhibit, Baseball Rocks, featured sheet music and discs of various baseball-related tunes. Mostly they were regional 45s, issued to support local teams, similar to (but not including) Go, Go, You Pilots!. Also missing was Elton John's Dodgers uniform, and nary a trace of the best-ever rock/baseball project, the Baseball Project. (Hopefully I'll post my review of their debut CD before the season ends.)

Also during the day I walked around downtown, dining at Dunky in Terminal Tower (a killer 1930s skyscraper/office/transit/shopping complex), and visiting Browns Stadium and the Cavaliers' home venue (whose name is so stupid I can't bring myself to repeat it).

Then I drove around town for a spell, past the VA hospital where Harvey Pekar worked, and to the site of League Park, former home of the Indians, among other teams. Playing for the Cleveland Spiders, Cy Young (named on the button above), threw the stadium's first pitch in 1891. It was closed in 1946 and demolished in '51, and now it's a city park (still called League Park). Part of an exterior wall still stands, as does the ticket office on the lot's southwest corner (above). A young local guy named Jerome was checking it out too. Having previously working at the park, he knew all about the place and its history, and was kind enough to give me a little tour. Most interesting was the dugout steps and underground tunnel that once ran from the first base dugout to the clubhouse; now it's essentially a narrow trench, partially covered with plywood and filled with trash. Jerome stands in front of it here:

On a semi-related note -- does anyone know how ballclubs decide whether to use the first or third base dugouts at home? Is it a strategic thing, or based on the quality of the respective clubhouses, or because of a preferred view, or something else? I've been wondering why it varies by stadium.

Okay, back for a second Indians game, where it occurred to me that Hang On Sloopy is the totem Indians rock song, a la Seattle's "Louie, Louie," Boston's "Sweet Caroline, etc... Despite what I said yesterday, I took home a Chief Wahoo cap anyhow, only because it was Cap Night... The drum guy was there, pounding his bass whenever an Indian was in scoring position.

For the record, the Tribe prevailed, 6-3. Thus far on my rust belt road trip, the home teams have gone 5-0.

All the little chicks with the crimson lips go "Cleveland rocks, Cleveland rocks."

Tomorrow I'm motoring to the Motor City.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hello Cleveland!

Are these condiments racist?

More on that in a moment.

Today began at Pierogies Plus, a converted gas station in suburban Pittsburgh, where I got a dozen of the potato-and-cheese, swimming in melted butter and covered in diced onions. Tasty, though not amazing. The place had Billy Graham brochures by the register, and a bible passage was printed on my receipt.

Next up was Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Though four former Seahawks are enshrined, Steve Largent is the only 'baller primarily identified with the 'Hawks; the others gained fame elsewhere before hobbling through the Kingdome shortly before retirement. Still, the HoF has 2005 MVP Shawn Alexander's full rig on display... Elsewhere, a case dedicated to Super Bowl entertainment includes Paul Stanley's bass from Kiss's performance in '99; excluded is any reference to Up with People. Lots of patriotic overtones, with a special Pat "Friendly Fire" Tillman memorial. Conspicuously absent from the large non-NFL pro league display is the XFL, and its most famous player, He Hate Me. Biggest revelation: I'd never heard of the Baltimore Colts' ancestor, the 1946 Miami Seahawks.

Hello Cleveland, and Jacobs Progressive Field. I didn't see the left field drummer guy, and I didn't know of any signature ballpark food to seek out. However, there were unusually long-ass lines for the nachos, which look like the same crap I've seen at every other ballpark, movie theater, and carnival. I passed.

Random notes: the circa-1994 stadium feels slightly dated in this post-Camden era -- it could use a light facelift, updating the weesh signage and cheesy banners and whatnot... I shunned my free promotional Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead, but enjoyed the postgame fireworks, choreographed with a medley of '80s hits... There was a fight! After getting plunked by Fausto Carmona, Gary Sheffield menacingly strolled to first, wielding his bat the whole way. Then, after a pickoff move, Sheffield stormed the mound, and the benches cleared... Seattle-born, Everett-raised Grady Sizemore dinged a dinger... Cleveland has the only ladies-specific souvenir shop I've seen, Tribe Pride: For Her...

Chief Wahoo is everywhere, including the mayonnaise dispensers. I appreciate his retro, we-didn't-know-any-better-at-the-time appeal, but today he just seems obnoxious, and when you get right down to it, offensive. Seriously, no outfit could pull off introducing such a cringe-inducing caricature today -- he's apparently grandfathered in as racially acceptable. And yet, I have to admit, I'm tempted to buy a cap with his goofy redskinned likeness, but I won't.

A proposed alternative: rebrand the team the Cleveland Spiders -- a killer name with historical precedence. Of course, their mascot would be Spider-Man -- far better than Slider, the Indians' shitty pink mascot, whose all-around awfulness is nearly as offensive as Chief Wahoo. There's just one hitch: Spidey's a Mets fan.

For the record, the Tribe prevailed, 6-5. Thus far on my rust belt road trip, the home teams have gone 4-0.

Tomorrow I'm gonna see this (NFSW!).

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pittsburgh II

I goofed up by forgetting that today's Pirates game was today, mistakenly thinking it was scheduled for tonight. But it worked out fine -- I've already seen three games in as many days, so instead I spent the day doing some non-hurried Pittsburgh sightseeing.

Starting off was the site of Forbes Field, home of the Pirates from 1909 to 1970. It's the coolest former-stadium location that I've seen (not that there've been many). On the Pitt campus, in a little grove off Roberto Clemete Drive, a stretch of the outfield wall has been preserved, as has the flagpole, which was in the actual field of play (like at today's Minute Maid Park). Home plate is on display in Posvar Hall, though in an approximate location (the actual location would've put it in the ladies' room). On a nearby wall is this killer photo from Life magazine, taken during the 1960 World Series.

It was shot from the top of my next stop, the Cathedral of Learning. I only got as high as the 36th floor, which has amazing views of the city, but unfortunately I was denied roof access. Still, a beautiful, fantastic, inspiring gothic tower, dedicated to learning. Killer.

Over to the Mellon Arena, site of The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh. I browsed through the Penguins store and saw hockey groupies hound players for autographs in the parking lot. Then, in the Strip District, I inhaled a killer pastrami and cheese and coleslaw and french fries sammich at Primanti Bros., perhaps the best I've ever eaten. Also, a sidewalk vendor sold me this $1 handmade Batman finger puppet:

At least I think it's Batman.

I breezed through the Heinz Museum's gift shop and drove around Heinz Field, and hit a North Side Goodwill. I searched for Pens and/or Bucs tees, but mainly I was inspired by one of my favorite 'zines, the Pittsburgh-based Thrift SCORE. Then I strolled around the "Golden Triangle" (a chamber of commerce name for downtown; serious bummer that Wiener World had closed for the day), and then Point State Park, where the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers form the mighty Ohio. Here I stand at the pointiest point of the point:

My last touristy mission of the day was a trip up the Duquesne Incline -- it was fun-icular!

For dinner I returned to the Original Hot Dog Shop, which seriously needs a Seattle franchise.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ahoy, Arrgh, Avast, etc.

In last night's baseball match, the Nationals defeated the Ny Mets squadron, 1-0. Woo!

Then, during today's four-hour drive from D.C. to Pittsburgh (via a Maryland Dunky), I switched my Nats cap for my Pirates cap... Literally! On my head!!

Lotsa cool imagery at the highly photogenic PNC Park, where the Bucs have essentially five mascots. Of course, there's the Pirate Parrot (who scoots around on a Razor), but also Captain Jolly Rodger and the three Pierogies, who routinely run a footrace in the middle of the sixth. Ironic that I couldn't find any iconic pierogies at any of the food concessions -- dang -- but non-ironic was the ample Iron City.

The Pirates play up their nickname more than any team I know, what with their Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired CGI cartoons, the pirate jargon, and "Drunken Sailor" played by the organist (or sampled by a reasonable facsimile thereof). I suppose they've also subconsciously inspired my favicon.

I've always dug the Pirates, and have fond memories of cheering them on to their '79 World Series victory (that's their championship "banner," above). My favorite player was Dave "The Cobra" Parker, though I was sad to see that team hasn't retired his number (the current #39 is Brandon Moss). Also sad that Pittsburgh has such a long spell of misfortune (at least in baseball -- faring much better are the Steelers, whose jerseys were almost as numerous at tonight's game as the Pirates).

For the record: The Buccos clobbered the Dodgers, 15-8, before a measly 11,883 fans.

Confidential to JP: The Pirates got their nickname in 1891, when it was said that they had "pirated" away a player from another team in a contract dispute. They are not, ahem, "butt pirates."

After the game I dined at the lauded Original Hot Dog Shop, where I also picked up a Yuengling sixer. It was good.

Meanwhile, back in Seattle (KC, actually), Ichiro the Killer tied Wee Willie Keeler for the Major League record of most consecutive 200-hit seasons, with eight.

Now that's what I call killer. Arrgh!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Extreme Nationalism

Tonight I attended my first Washington Nationals home game, during their maiden season in the new Nationals Park.

Right away it reminded me of San Diego's Petco Park, with its whitish concrete and decidedly non-retro look and big HD TVs everywhere you look. The statest-of-the-artest outfield scoreboard is simply one massive computer screen, and along with multiple smaller computer scoreboards around the place, I felt like I was inside a giant video game. Interesting that the infield scoreboards list every batter's OBP and SLG, something I'd never seen before (or maybe just never noticed, not until reading Moneyball on my flight out here today).

Despite all the high-tech razzle-dazzle, there was a lack of electricity in the place. Even with the new stadium, it's apparently difficult to draw a big noisy crowd for the worst team in baseball, especially on a late-season Monday night. If it weren't for the conspicuous Mets fans in attendance, there might have been tumbleweeds rolling through the concourses. It was slow enough that a bored usher actually went out of his way to scold me after I leaned over a railing to get this shot:

It's the Nationals' bullpen, just beyond the right field wall.

A group called Strike Out Exxon, which included a guy in a polar bear costume, was out in force, protesting the corporation's heavy advertising throughout this so called "green" stadium (I noticed some green roofing, but there seemed to be just as much instantly generated garbage as at any other stadium).

The food was decent -- I ate a half-smoke from Ben's Chili Bowl, a W pretzel, and a Nats Dog (belch) -- and I love any stadium that you can take the subway to.

For those keeping score, Gnats won, 7-2. I'm going back tomorrow.

Happy 25th, Costco!

Costco hits the big two-five today.

I snapped these pix a few days ago during my monthly visit to the Seattle flagship store. The plaque below pretty much explains it all.

Here's Costco's official site.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Happy 61st, Bowzer!

Bowzer hits the big six-one today.

Here's his official site.

Too Pooped to Pop

Friday night I saw Chuck Berry at an out-of-the-way Indian casino, the sort of place where Eliza says "dreams go to die." Though my expectations were low, I still came away disappointed.

The man is rock 'n' roll ground zero, influencing anybody that's worth a damn. His incomparable '50s and '60s singles are undisputed classics, with their clever wordplay and indelible riffs and blah blah blah. I never tire of playing "Let it Rock," "Little Queenie," "Promised Land," etc.

When ads recently appeared for the gig, I was surprised to learn that Berry's still performing -- he's 81! (How many octogenarian rock stars are there? B.B. King is 82, though he's more of a bluesman than a rock 'n' roller. Everyone else is dead.) I'd never seen Berry before, so I jumped at the chance to catch this living legend.

Going in, I was well aware of his custom of recruiting local musicians to form ad hoc backup bands for his one-nighters. So, instead of playing with a tight touring unit, he assumes his raw recruits will know his catalog by heart, and instructs them to simply follow his lead onstage (a trend he briefly bucked, at the urging of Keith Richards, in the killer concert doc Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll).

So, despite over 50 years of concerts, Berry seemed hardly the seasoned professional. Rather than playing complete songs, he offered mere fragments of his tunes, while he and the band were often out of synch, or out of tune, or playing in different keys altogether. Sloppy's fine, but this was too sloppy, not to mention haphazard, erratic, and clearly unrehearsed. As well as half-assed -- as in half-sung lyrics, a half-played guitar, and halfway coaching his band throughout the 45-minute set. It seemed like all he intended was to show up, noodle through a few hits, and beat a hasty retreat. I got the sense that this is the norm for all his shows, and that a less sympathetic crowd would likely boo. It's tempting to call it a sad spectacle, but Berry seemed to enjoy himself, as did his starstruck twentysomething rock-dude band, as did most of the sixtysomething crowd.

Only during the closer, "Reelin' and Rockin'," did he cut relatively loose on his Gibson for a decent spell, as if he conserved his elderly energy for the finale. Afterward, in the hotel lobby, he scrawled his initials in my notepad, seconds after I snapped the above picture.

Top Chuck Berry covers:

"Around and Around," the Rolling Stones
"Back in the USA," MC5
"Brown-Eyed Handsome Man," Neko Case
"Carol," the Flamin' Groovies
"Don't Lie to Me," the Groovie Ghoulies
"Let it Rock," the Yardbirds

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ween Are the Coen Brothers of Rock 'n' Roll

Yeah, think about it!

Both Dean and Gene Ween and Joel and Ethan Coen are a pair of brothers who have worked closely together from an early age to the present day.

Joel and Ethan were born in 1954 and 1957, respectively, while Dean and Gene were born in 1970. Though the Weens aren't actual siblings (brothers from a different mother, as it were), they formed a deep, lifelong bond in junior high.

Both pairs of brothers started their professional careers in the '80s.

Both seem to have taken lots of drugs.

Most importantly, both have garnered large cult followings by simultaneously mastering, satirizing, and paying homage to various germane genres.

Coens: Screwball comedy (Raising Arizona), crime drama (No Country for Old Men), noir (The Man Who Wasn't There), romantic comedy (Intolerable Cruelty), among others. Greatest achievement: The Big Lebowski.

Ween: Country ("Piss Up a Rope"), hardcore ("Stroker Ace"), Bowie-esque glam ("Don't Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)"), Buffet-esque schlock ("Bananas and Blow"), among others. Greatest achievement: "Pollo Asado."

And both continue their work to this day. Ween's latest, La Cucaracha, was released last October. The Coens' latest, Burn After Reading, opens tomorrow.

See also: Millipede is The Empire Strikes Back of Video Games.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bubblegum Card of the Week: Steve Garvey

Steve Garvey is known for his hairy Popeye forearms, his high-profile strife with ex-wife Cyndy Garvey (who later wrote a tell-all book), and acting in such fare as Baywatch, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and, uh, Bloodfist VI: Ground Zero.

Oh, and he played some ball too. His impressive career apparently wasn't quite impressive enough for Cooperstown (Steve Carlton is the only "Steve" in the Hall), but it more than qualifies him to captain the squad I've assembled below.

Ladies and gentlemen, your All-Steve Team:

P - Steve Carlton
C - Steve Yeager
1B - Steve Garvey
2B - Steve Sax
3B - Steve Buechele
SS - Steve Dillard
OF - Steve Finley
OF - Steve Henderson
OF - Steve Kemp

The card is 1977 Topps #400.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy 40th, Banana Splits!

Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky hit the big four-oh today.

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968, and ran on Saturday-morning TV for 31 episodes across two years. The show was later chopped into half-hour episodes for syndicated reruns (The Banana Splits and Friends Show), which I watched everyday after school on channel 11.

Here's a sample:

Sid & Marty Krofft designed the sets and costumes of the frenetic Hanna-Barbera production, which combined elements of A Hard Day's Night, the Marx Brothers, Laugh-In and bubblegum. Both Liz Phair and the Dickies later covered the show's infectious theme song, while Girl Trouble nailed "Gonna Find a Cave" for the legendary Sub Pop 200 compilation. My favorite Splits tune is eerie ballad "Wait 'til Tomorrow," while my second favorite is the upbeat "We're the Banana Splits," as illustrated in this ridiculous video:

The show also included some cheapo Hanna-Barbera cartoons and a kinda cool live-action serial, Danger Island, which had me and my elementary-school pals yelling "Uh-oh, Chongo!" But the Splits' longest-lasting impression on me is my ongoing, largely unfulfilled desire to play drums. No, it's not because of Ringo, John Bonham or Buddy Rich. I owe it all to Bingo, the Ray Charles-esque orange gorilla.

Turns out the Cartoon Network has just revived the franchise this past week, with comedy shorts and videos, an upcoming CD, and of course, a new site. From what I've seen, it all looks fairly faithful to the original:

Still, I've yet to hear the old catchphrase, "Hooooold the bus!"

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

39 Years, 39 Movies

Here's pretty much the same thing I blogged yesterday, only with movies:

1969 - Easy Rider
1970 - Five Easy Pieces
1971 - Bananas
1972 - The Godfather
1973 - American Grafitti
1974 - The Godfather, Part II
1975 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1976 - Taxi Driver
1977 - Star Wars
1978 - Animal House
1979 - The Jerk
1980 - The Empire Strikes Back
1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 - Fast Times at Ridgemont High
1983 - Return of the Jedi
1984 - This is Spinal Tap
1985 - Lost in America
1986 - River's Edge
1987 - Raising Arizona
1988 - Running on Empty
1989 - Batman
1990 - GoodFellas
1991 - Slacker
1992 - Unforgiven
1993 - Dazed and Confused
1994 - Pulp Fiction
1995 - Welcome to the Dollhouse
1996 - Fargo
1997 - Titanic
1998 - The Big Lebowski
1999 - Affliction
2000 - Best in Show
2001 - Donnie Darko
2002 - Adaptation.
2003 - American Splendor
2004 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005 - King Kong
2006 - Borat
2007 - The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Monday, September 01, 2008

39 Years, 39 Albums

A few weeks ago some blogger posted a list of favorite albums released during each year of their lifetime. When I have trouble sleeping, I often create similar lists in my mind. Here's what I came up with last night:

1969 - MC5, Kick Out the Jams
1970 - The Stooges, Fun House
1971 - Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
1972 - David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust
1973 - Iggy & the Stooges, Raw Power
1974 - Kiss, Kiss
1975 - Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
1976 - The Damned, Damned Damned Damned
1977 - The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks
1978 - Rolling Stones, Some Girls
1979 - The Clash, London Calling
1980 - The Pretenders, Pretenders
1981 - Rolling Stones, Tattoo You
1982 - The Clash, Combat Rock
1983 - The Cramps, Smell of Female
1984 - Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
1985 - The Replacements, Tim
1986 - Ramones, Animal Boy
1987 - The Replacements, Pleased to Meet Me
1988 - Pixies, Surfer Rosa
1989 - Nirvana, Bleach
1990 - Sonic Youth, Goo
1991 - Nirvana, Nevermind
1992 - Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
1993 - Nirvana, In Utero
1994 - Sebadoh, Bakesale
1995 - Boss Hog, Boss Hog
1996 - Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Now I Got Worry
1997 - Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
1998 - Mudhoney, Tomorrow Hit Today
1999 - Sleater-Kinney, The Hot Rock
2000 - The New Pornographers, Mass Romantic
2001 - The Strokes, Is This It
2002 - Grandpaboy, Mono
2003 - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
2004 - Detroit Cobras, Baby
2005 - Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang
2006 - Bob Dylan, Modern Times
2007 - Black Lips, Good Bad Not Evil