June 30, 2005

I hate tires

Okay, I don’t hate all tires. And really, isn’t that a ridiculous thing to hate? They’re such an ubiquitous and necessary part of modern life.

But oh did they piss me off yesterday.

Let’s backtrack. On Tuesday our aging truck wouldn’t start. When I say “aging” I mean old. It’s a 1994 Ranger with just a tick under 200,000 miles on it. Clearly we need to replace it, but with a year left on the Beetle and a mortgage less than a month away, that won’t be happening in the near future. As you might expect with a vehicle of that many miles, every once in a while things go wrong. Over the last few months I’ve replaced the battery and the terminals on the battery cables. Still, the damn thing wouldn’t start again. Usually this isn’t a big deal, as the Missus and I carpool. On Wednesday though, I would need the truck since Ensie had to be in Los Angeles all day. We jumped the truck, and dropped it off at the repair guys Tuesday morning. When we picked it up that evening we were okay; they replaced the battery cables this time. Everything was fine. The mechanic did mention that the rear driver’s side tire was low and they filled it.

I checked it later that evening, and it looked fine.

When Ensie left she let me know, that no… the tire was completely flat. Okay, I’ll call work and let then know I’ll be a tad late. I’ll slap on the spare and take the tire in to be repaired.

Only I have no idea how to get the damned spare off this truck. It’s on the underside, and with the tow package we had installed, you can’t fit the freakin’ tire iron on the bolt holding it on. I called the professionals. The tow truck company said it would be about 2 hours. I call work again, let them know I’ll be little later than I thought. Tow truck guy shows up. He can’t fill the flat tire, so he spends 30 minutes prying the spare off. He later would describe it as the “biggest pain in the ass spare in the world”.

Now I have the spare on, and I head over to the tire place. They say they’re able to fix the tire, and they do. At this point, I’ve only missed half a days work. I get there, my boss is understanding, everything is fine… right?

Of course not. When I come back down to the truck to leave, the damned tire is flat again.. My tire place did a lovely job fixing it, didn’t they? I call my wife, who has just arrived home from LA, and we decide she’ll pick me up, and we will have the damned thing towed to get new tires tomorrow. Halfway to me though, she decides it would be a better idea to have the tire fixed tonight. So I call another tow truck to come over and swap out the damned spare. He comes quick, spends his own time bitching about the spare tire set up on the truck. We then take the truck to a closer tire place. This is about 6:30 PM. The tire guy (I’m sure that is his official title) tells us there is a wait, but he can have it done -we’ve now decided just to replace all 4 tires (how we made that leap I don’t know)- about 9. This is less a problem than you might think. We decide to go to dinner, plus there is the local IKEA in the same parking lot, and hell, we need to find some furniture. We come back at nine.

And they haven’t even started our truck yet. I send the Missus home -no use in both of us hanging around. It takes the tire guys another hour to get done, and they of course spend a good portion of the time bitching about our spare tire set-up.

Should have just told them to toss the damned thing into the back.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

This time we got a EUROPEAN stiff

After drafting HS center Robert Swift last year, the SuperSonics struck again, this time going for 7-0, 19-year old Johan Petro. Petro positively dominated the French league, averaging 6.1 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Upside baby… upside.

Posted by Frinklin at 07:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2005

Overheard at the Ballpark

Somewhere in the upper deck of RFK this afternoon, in the heat of another hot Blue Jays-Nationals rivalry game:

SON: Let's go Blue Jays!
FATHER: No. No, no, no. You never root for the Blue Jays.
SON: Why not?
FATHER: Two reasons. One, they're Communists. They come from Canada. They're not even American.

If there was a second reason, I didn't stick around to hear it.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 08:21 PM | Comments (1)

No weekend for the Frinklins

The Missus and I are fairly routine-oriented people. Our weekends are usually divided where we relax about 2/3 of the time, while the other third is doing the usual household stuff like cleaning and groceries and laundry and whatnot. We usually do most of our normal stuff on Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon is our hardcore relaxation time.

This weekend was different. In the last 48 hours the Missus and I- with help from random family members- have cleared our weed-infested backyard, replaced the brakes on the Beetle, installed ceiling fans, cleared out stumps, limbs and other assorted tree parts from the In-Law’s House, and cleaned our house to within an inch or our lives. We’re just starting this moving process. We still have about a month to go.

While I’m never excited to go to work, at least they will let me sit down.

Posted by Frinklin at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

I don't care that they lost

On Saturday afternoon, the Mariners played an awful game, losing to the Padres 8-5.

But they looked terrific doing it. I love just about any look the Seattle Raniers sported, but this road jersey from 1938 is just about perfect.


Posted by Frinklin at 02:27 AM | Comments (2)

June 23, 2005

I thought I'd be original...

I was thinking of calling this post "RIP Private Property" or "Private Property in the US 1776-2005", but Bill and Richard (and many others I assume) have already beat me too it.

The good thing about all this is that I’m about to become a property owner in one of the eight states (Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina an d Washington) who have laws on the books that restrict eminent domain takings to only those who eliminate blight.

This still ticks me off though. How is this allowable? In the words of Justice John Paul Stevens

The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including -- but by no means limited to -- new jobs and increased tax revenue

Meaning to hell with what you want to do with the home that you own and may have owned for generations, the government -people so much smarter than you- know better. How screwed up is this court? The same group of justices who decide that medicinal marijuana is bad decide that taking of homes is good? Do they simply give a damn about individual liberties?

No… they don’t. It’s as simple as that.

Update I've never been much of a fan of Clarence Thomas, but between his principled dissent after the marijuana fiasco and this brilliantly understated line from his dissent on this case, I've come to admire him a bit.

"Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’'s interpretation of the Constitution."

Amen to that...

Posted by Frinklin at 07:41 PM | Comments (2)

June 22, 2005

Amateur Book Review: The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

Everything you know is wrong!

The entire world, its business and politics on down are run –no, not by a dozen Jews in a Geneva basement – but by an ultra-secret order called the Tabula. Our early-21st century consumer society is actually “the Vast Machine”, where nearly everyone lives under the Tabula’s surveillance and control. Below the surface though, a fierce, ages-long war continues. The Tabula has been trying for centuries to eradicate the Travelers, seemingly normal men and women who have the ability to transcend this plane of reality and lead humanity. To the Tabula, they are a variable that can’t be controlled and so must be eradicated. The Travelers, pacifists at heart, are protected by The Harlequins (no, not this Harlequin or this Harley Quinn), merciless killers who have no reason to exist other than protecting Travelers. But now, in this technology-driven modern age, the Tabula has gained the upper hand. The Harlequins are shattered and the Travelers are all but extinct. This is the world of John Twelve Hawks’ upcoming book The Traveler, the first part of a planned trilogy.

The odds are good you’re going to hear about this book. The publisher, Doubleday, has set up a huge marketing campaign built on forced world-of-mouth (10,000 advance reader copies already sent), a large Internet presence (half-dozen websites, such as this fake blog set up by the Harlequin main character in her civilian disguise), and guerrilla marketing using various mysterious passages from the book. This book is being released in 18 countries, and already has been optioned for a movie with Steven Spielberg attached. The book itself is marvelously packaged: a wraparound cover showing an extreme close-up of the heroine with a Traveler reflected in her sunglasses. The logo –on the galleys anyway- is on the back. The kicker to this marketing onslaught? A reclusive author who lives “off the grid” and refuses to do any interview, even by email. The only contact he’s had with the media was on a promo DVD released where he read passages off-camera sounding, in the words of Publishers Weekly “like Darth Vader’s nephew.” So the marketing is excellent; how is the book?

It’s okay. This first installment follows Maya, a young woman who has buried her Harlequin heritage beneath the façade of Judith Strand. She’s summoned to Prague by her paraplegic father and asked to finish his last mission. She refuses, until her father is brutally murdered by the Tabula. It seems that the mission was to protect Michael and Gabriel, two young Californians who may be Travelers. Michael, the older of the two, has tired of living off the grid and settles in as a shady real estate investor in Los Angeles. The younger brother Gabriel, who might as well hold a neon sign that says “HERO HERE”, is the opposite. He’s cool. While Michael has decided to live within the Vast Machine without knowing what it is, buying stuff and making money and probably voting Republican; Gabriel only drives motorcycles, jumps out of airplanes, and lives in the bad part of town. He probably keeps a perpetual 5-o’clock shadow and definitely has soulful eyes.

The Traveler is briskly plotted, aside from a tedious section where Gabriel is trained to use his power. The book is polished to a very bright sheen; makes me wonder if Twelve Hawks really is a big unknown. There isn’t much here that says, “first time author”, and a lot to suggest an old pro. It reads so briskly it nearly doesn’t need a screenplay adaptation. It becomes difficult to read the book without wondering who will play these parts on the screen. Does Jennifer Garner or Kate Beckinsale play Maya? It’s distracting, and with all the manufactured hype planned for this book, and the rather ridiculous story of the author, it isn’t easy to really get into this book. It seems very fake, much like the world it describes.

It isn’t without it’s charm though. As mentioned, the book races pretty quickly to an interesting –if not particularly shocking- ending. The characters maintain a voice throughout. Gabriel is very self-consciously cool. Michael is a grasping twit. The most interesting of the bunch is Maya, the Harlequin. Raised to be a killing machine, she desperately wants to be more than that, and it’s rather touching to see her succeed and fail simultaneously. The backstory to this work, the Tabula and Travelers and such, is interesting (in fact the brief descriptions of the history of the war is more so than much of the present action), if not particularly innovative. Anyone paying attention to pop culture the last 10 years will recognize snippets of the Matrix, Da Vinci Code, even Star Wars. The book is enjoyable though, for what it is: the ultimate airplane read.

Posted by Frinklin at 07:51 PM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2005

The future of ESPN?

You don't know who Mark Shapiro is, but you already hate him. He's the genius that decided that ESPN, instead of showing trivial things like hockey and baseball, needs to branch out into more original programming like Playmakers and Tilt.

Apparently, ESPN has several more TV Movies set to debut. Who in the name of God thinks this is a good idea? First of all, everything "original" that ESPN has come up with has been crap. Tilt may have been the single most boring show in the history of television, and I say that as someone who has seen more than one episode of Joey. Second, the genius of ESPN is that all day, every day, there will be sports on it. If not sports, then repeats of sports or guys talking about sports. This is WHY we watch ESPN. We don’t want anything else. ESPN is the most profitable cable channel on television. Why fuck it up?

Posted by Frinklin at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

June 20, 2005

Amateur Movie Review: Batman Begins

Is this the best Batman movie? Yeah, probably. Is it the perfect Batman movie? No, it isn’t. It tries, really tries, but it doesn’t quite get there.

As promised, this is the origin of the screen version of Batman. It certainly fit’s the Dark Knight version of Bats prevalent in the comic book since the mid-80’s. The movie is dark, gritty and while not totally humorless, it does lack whatever zaniness that Tim Burton brought the franchise and Joel Schumacher drove into the ground. Despite what screenwriter David Goyer might claim, this movie is strongly influenced by Frank Miller’s “Year One” saga.

We start in flashbacks, explaining Bruce Wayne’s obsession with bats, and retelling the story (with a few twists) of the death of his parents. The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne is the first standout scene of this movie. Director Christopher Nolan drops Burton’s theatricality and makes the scene quick, brutal and very, very effective. It also reestablishes one of the more important bits of Batman history: Joe Chill, the Wayne’s murderer, is a nobody. He’s just an average street thug, and no matter what Batman accomplishes, he’ll never be able to avenge his parents.

We fast forward to Bruce in his college days, and follow him through his dropping out of sight. He travels the world in an attempt to understand the criminal mind, and is eventually found by Ducard (an effective -but distractingly facial haired- Liam Neeson), who introduces him to Ra’s Al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows. The League, a centuries old vigilante group, trains Bruce and inspires him to become the Batman.

Once back in Gotham, Bruce reconnects with longtime friend -and now DA- Rachel Dawes (the appallingly miscast Katie Holmes), and goes about creating his alter ego. Only, and this is something Nolan gets more than either Burton or Schumacher, Bruce Wayne is the mask and Batman is the real person. This movie is impeccably cast, with Michael Caine as the perfect Alfred, Morgan Freeman being very Morgan Freeman-y as Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman as a fantastic Jim Gordon. That makes the casting of Holmes even more inexplicable. The character of Rachel Dawes is supposed to be a tough-but-idealistic DA in a thoroughly rotten town. Holmes, while an attractive and oftentimes capable actress, seems stuck on adorable throughout the movie. She blends into the scenery, especially when compared to the ultra-intense Christian Bale, who seems close to perfect as Batman. She’s further upstaged during her scenes with Cillian Murphy, who is even creepier as the deranged Dr. Jonathan Crane than he is as the Scarecrow.

As I said, Batman Begins isn’t the perfect Batman movie. It’s too long overall and seems to drag at times. The plot gets a bit twisted at the end, culminating in a more unbelievable then necessary ending threat and a plot twist you’d have to be blind not to pick up on. My wife pointed out something that I missed when we saw the movie. The best comic book adaptations (X-Men 2, Spider-Man, the original Superman) have an element that recognizes the overall absurdity of the situations. The most misbegotten adaptations (Daredevil, Hulk) seems to forget that and drown in their own self-importance and pretentiousness. Batman Begins falls somewhere in between.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:20 PM | Comments (1)

June 19, 2005

I'm sorry if the world stops turning.

Armageddon might well be upon us. The Beloved Seattle Mariners have beaten Pedro Martinez for the first time in 14 decisions. After 13 straight wins for Pedro, the M’s pick up 4 runs in the fourth behind rookies Jeremy Reed, Mike Morse and Jose Lopez.

The God may disapprove. If the worst happens, we’re sorry.

Posted by Frinklin at 12:06 AM | Comments (1)

June 18, 2005

Wasn't he in the KKK?

I sometimes love reading various politcal blogs just to see the ridiculous ads that come up. Case in point: Talking Points Memo, the seriously lefty blog by the pretentiously named Joshua Micah Marshall is currently featuring an ad for the committee to re-elect Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. This nifty animated ad end with a "Click here to support an American Hero".

Ummmm... isn't that stretching things a bit? For those who didn’t know, Byrd was at one time a Kleagle in the KKK -Kleagle being Klan-speak for recruiter. He’s also legendary in the Senate for his ability to bring the pork to his state, but that’s beside the point really.

Isn’t American Hero a little overstating things here?

Posted by Frinklin at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

Very minor housebuying milestone

Our escrow company sends us a weekly update via email. It's very simple, just a list of all 58 or so things that need to happen before closing, along with our info, the seller, our various real estate agents and escrow people. I love how the escrow agent is called "the closer". I was looking over this first one with the Missus over my shoulder.

"Do you have any idea what all this means?" I asked her.

"Not a clue" she replied.

Good, that makes me feel a tad less dumb. I'm sure when the time comes to get all this done, we'll figure it out.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005

Primary Day, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Electoral System

Hello, friends! Happy Flag Day!

Today, for those who missed it, Virginia had its political primaries. (And judging by the turnout statistics, odds are you did miss it.) I voted in the Democratic primary. In a rarity for Virginia, both party primaries were on the same day this year. (And in case you're wondering why Virginia is holding elections this year, it's part of our state's brilliant plan to guarantee that as few people as possible participate. Allegedly, there's some other rationale, but I'm not buying it.)

This year, the Democrats had a grand total of one contested statewide primary, for lieutenant governor. (Near as I can tell, apart from presiding over the State Senate, the lieutenant governor has no responsibilities. He or she can spend four years doing the Post crossword and sipping sweet tea with little to no effect on the functioning of the state. Naturally, my new aspiration is to become lieutenant governor.) The four Dems running were political veteran Leslie Byrne, fresh-faced Del. "Chap" Peterson, Richmond-area Del. Viola Baskerville, and coal-country Sen. Philip Puckett.

I first became familiar with these names when I was called by a pollster -- at 8 AM on a Saturday no less! -- and asked whom I intended to support. I replied with the only one I'd heard of, Byrne, and went back to sleep. In the subsequent weeks, however, I resolved to actually figure out something about these fine folks and make an informed decision. I do this because I'm an incredible dork.

Quickly I realized that there was no way I'd be voting for Baskerville, whose campaign seemed to be based around the old Carol Moseley-Braun theme, "I'm a black woman!" Nor would I be voting for Puckett, despite his backing by my state senator, because his campaign was based on the theme of bringing "geographical and ideological balance" to the ticket. I'm still not sure what he meant by this, but based on his issue positions, I think he meant that the best way to elect a Democrat for governor was to nominate a Republican to run with him.

This left me with Byrne and Petersen. And both candidates gave me a lot to think about.

Byrne has a ton of experience (a fact she emphasized at great length in her campaign... more on this anon), something I've always looked for in a candidate. She used to be my congresswoman for a little while, before Tom Davis beat her, and later became a state senator, before the Republicans redistricted her into oblivion. Her issue positions line up with mine well. And she's a results-oriented poltician, not a grandstander ("a work horse, not a show pony" as they say in some part oft he country I'm not from).

On the other hand... she is pretty liberal, which is a tough sell in Virginia. Women face an uphill battle statewide (ask poor Mary Sue Terry, whose 20-point summertime lead for governor somehow melted into a shellacking on Election Day at the hands of Gomer Allen), and liberal women face an even more uphill battle. (And how would Tim Kaine react? Would he embrace a Byrne candidacy, or would he treat it as a millstone around his relentlessly center-seeking neck?) Also, Byrne is a pretty abrasive personality, which doesn't necessarily play in genteel Virginia, especially if you're female. Also, her constant harping on "experience" made me start to wonder if her campaign boiled down to "It's my turn," which gave the world Bob Dole '96.

On the other hand, Petersen's a more moderate Democrat, more in line with Virginia's political views. He raised the most money by far, and traveled tirelessly around the state to promote himself; clearly, he's an energetic campaigner. His focus on "bread-and-butter" economic issues combined with a willingness to challenge Democratic orthodoxy on social issues, as well as his youth and vigor, make him an appealing choice.

And yet... Petersen's only been in the House of Delegates for four years, and in the Fairfax City Council for four years before that. That's the sum total of his political experience. For a relative neophyte to run for the #2 office at age 37 smacks of line-jumping, particularly since he left a valuable swing district in the House of Delegates up for grabs. His positions felt a little flimsy, more "this is how I can stand out in the crowd" than "I'm voting my conscience." I couldn't help wondering whether ol' Chap believes in serving anything higher than his own ambition. (Also, a grown man who chooses to call himself "Chap" makes me uneasy.)

Eventually, I realized what this all reminded me of. It's Kerry vs. Edwards all over again! The liberal-leaning familiar face vs. the fast-track younger moderate. As with Kerry vs. Edwards, I couldn't shake the feeling that Chap was more electable, but I personally preferred Byrne. But fresh off the 2004 loss, I wondered: what's the "right" way to vote? Do you vote for the person you like the most? Or do you vote for the person you think gives you the best shot at winning?

While I pondered, Leslie Byrne kept contacting me. Like a persistent suitor, Leslie and her dedicated team did there best to make sure that not one second passed during the day when I didn't have her on my mind. By my count, I received seven direct mailings and ten phone calls from Team Byrne in the space of about a month. Total number of contacts from Baskerville, Puckett, and Chap combined: zero. Leslie really, really, really wanted my vote. Okay. Got it. (I couldn't help wondering if her money wouldn't be better spent lobbying more than one person, but what the heck? It's nice to feel wanted.)

So I went in to do my patriotic duty. I stared at the big computer screen with the names scrunched up in the upper-left corner. I started to go for Byrne. Then I went for Petersen. Then I paused, thought about it, and went for Byrne. When push comes to shove, I vote for the person I want to win. I received my "I VOTED" sticker and walked out into the lobby.

There a pleasant-looking older man, who seemed to blend into the background, said, "Excuse me, sir. Did you just vote in there?"

I started to fire back some smart remark about how no, I'd popped into the utility closet to pop a smoke, but the man seemed too nice for a sarcastic remark. Probably an exit pollster, I figured. I'd never been exit-polled before. could be fun.

"Yes, sir. I did."

"Did you vote in the Republican primary, or the Democratic primary?"


"Oh." He sagged a bit. "I guess you wouldn't be interested in helping me out then. We're desperate for people to help with the Republican campaign this year."

"Yeah, don't think I'd be able to help out there. But hey, better luck with the next guy."

"We have our meager little table out there." He pointed; I squinted. I saw the corner of a table behind a staircase. "We've been fitfully manning it all day."

"Boy, did you pick the wrong precinct." I live in one of the most Democratic precincts in a Democratic county. The poor guy must really have drawn the short straw at Republican HQ.

"I've been trying to keep it covered, while staying inside as much as possible." He waved a hand around the air-conditioned lobby. It was a brutal day today, 90-plus temperatures with 90-plus humidity. Anyone who would spend a whole day in a steam bath stumping for Republicans in a staunchly Democratic precinct must be awfully dedicated.

"Tough day to be out here. I've got to tip my cap." I started toward the door.

"Hey, good luck with the election. I have a lot of respect for anyone who shows up for these primaries, whatever party. Only the best voters came out today. You've really got to care."

I smiled. "Well, good luck to you too, sir. You've earned it."

You know, amid all the hype and the shouting and the bitter partisanship and the talk-show bloviating, it's good to have a reminder that at its core, the political sytem is driven by nice, ordinary people who really care. Like the man in the lobby. Like me, too, I guess. It seems foolhardy to feel a huge surge in optimism about the political system as a result of one pleasant conversation with someone on the other side (especially when there are so many stories, like the AIPAC business, to make you sick to your stomach about the whole deal), but it's also nice to remember that not all political conversations have to take place at full shout, and that civility is not, in fact, dead.

P.S. Byrne won. Given that I like her and voted for her, I'm sure this is a kiss of death. But I'm looking forward to the campaign.

And about the governor's race... that's a subject for a whole different post. I'll revisit that subject soon.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 09:34 PM | Comments (2)


Okay, TV network twits, pay attention: when the possibilty of a Tsunami is announced for the western US and Canada, go ahead and preempt "Hit Me Baby 1 More Time". This is a little more important. For those worried, you can always track the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

Update @ 9:10PM Nevermind... the warning has been canceled. Still a bit of stress for a Tuesday night.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

Escrow Day 1

Twenty-nine stressful days to go. The Missus took care of the picture department.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

In case you wondered....

When cooking a frozen pizza, it's very helpful to remove the cardboard backing before sticking it in the oven.

No, I managed not to set the house on fire.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Housing makes up 1/4 the US GDP, and the Frinklins have done their part.

Offer, counter-offer, counter-counter-offer... and finally, acceptance.

With the signing of the (hopefully) final offer tonight, the Missus and I are now committed to buying a charming early-craftsman home in Tacoma. The last few days have been a bizarre combination of marathon and dizzying sprint.

We have the roller-coaster that is escrow ahead of us, starting with the inspection sometime in the next seven days. If everything goes well, we take possesion on July 19th.

Which is, of course, about 2 weeks before we'd planned on moving, so that-along with how to pay for various moving expenses- is what we have to figure out now.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:58 PM | Comments (1)

Nationals 3, Mariners 0

Not to rub anyone's nose in it or anything, but I thought that the first head-to-head matchup between the favorite teams of this blog deserved some mention (particularly since my team won all the games). I actually attended the Friday night game. (Mariners fans such as my blog partner may remember this as the game in which the M's gave up 6 runs in the 8th inning.) There was a great crowd at RFK... there's a real positive vibe between the Nationals and the fans that's a delight to watch and participate in.

The losing pitcher Friday was the fading veteran Shigetoshi Hasegawa, or as I like to call him, "Ziggy." The pitcher of memory for Seattle, though, was extremely well-traveled lefty Ron Villone. Villone walked Carlos Baerga to open the inning, and Baerga was immediately replaced by new acquisition Junior Spivey. (This was a wise move on Washington's part, as Baerga runs like he's got a baby grand piano strapped to his back.) Two sacrifices got Spivey to third. Marlon Byrd was the next hitter, and he hit a roller to short. Routine play, except the M's shortstop double-clutched on the throw and Byrd, pounding up the line all the way, beat the play. Spivey came in with the tying run.

Now, bear in mind that there are still two outs, with a solid batter, Brad Wilkerson, at the plate. You might think Villone would be focused on, you know, getting the third out or something. But instead he seemed to take Byrd's infield hit personally.

Before delivering a single pitch to Wilkerson, Villone tried to pick Byrd off three times. Each time, Byrd (who obviously had no intention of running) was back easily. The boos from the crowd shook the ballpark. Villone, undaunted, threw two more pickoff throws before delivering ball two. In all, Villone threw six times to first base in the course of pitching to Wilkerson, who walked, which put Byrd on second anyhow. Villone then threw a low slider than got passed the catcher and moved the runners up a base. Then, apparently, Villone finally realized how many outs there were and got Ryan Church to fly out and end the inning.

My point, to the degree that I have one, is this: I've never heard an entire ballpark full of people laugh as hard as we were that night at poor Villone, trying desperately to make sure Byrd didn't steal second. (Byrd, by the way, isn't exctly Willie Mays Hayes on the basepaths.)

The other things I'll always remember is that we got to see what may be the only at-bat of Rick Short's major-league career. Short, 32, has bounced around the minors for a dozen seasons, with a career average over .300 and not a major-league stint to his name... until Friday night. Frank Robinson sent Short up as a pinch-hitter in the fifth. Now, there was no announcement that Short was making his major-league debut. But everyone in the park just seemed to know. We all went crazy, cheering like it was the seventh game of the World Series. And wouldn't you know it... Short punched a single through the left side and drove in a run! You'd have thought it was 1924 all over again. Bedlam in RFK. Better still, when Short came off the field at inning's end, we gave him a standing ovation. Short mentioned in his post-game interviewed that he was moved by the crowd's reaction. He wasn't the only one.

Incidentally, Short was sent down the next day (displaced by the aforementioned Spivey), so there's a distinct possibility he'll never be in the majors again. I hope he comes back later on. But if not, I'll always be proud that I was there for his magical moment.

Incidentally, the Mariners shouldn't feel too bad: they ran into a team on a crazy-hot streak in RFK, where the Nats have been nearly unbeatable. It happens. Meantime, is it too soon to have pennant fever? If we can come out with a 5-4 road trip, keep rolling at home, get some guys back after the All-Star break... well, you can't fault a guy for dreaming, can you?

Frinklin Can you believe that I was in Seattle for 72 hours and didn't pay a bit of attention to the M's? This is what happens when house-hunting.

And don't get cocky Fred... the Mariners have spent most of 2005 playing like sick nuns.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)

June 11, 2005

Much, much better…

Maniacal house buying trip, day 2. This has worked out much better. Our first day was not good: bad houses, bad mojo and seriously frayed nerves. This morning we started out in a nice area. We looked at a giant house that was 80 years old and contained design elements from each and every decade, including the hideous blue shag carpet in the master bedroom. We looked at a cute and quaint house that was the oldest house we’ve looked at: built in 1889. We finally settled on a nice Cape Cod that had some very lovely bits: hardwood floors, a gorgeous fully manicured backyard and the best spot in the neighborhood. It needed some serious work upstairs, as the 60’s had taken over: wood paneling and brown patterned carpet. We discussed knocking out a wall and pulling down paneling. This was going to be Our First House: A nice start but a definite fixer-upper.

We decided to make an offer. First though, we wanted to torture ourselves by heading out to where we really wanted to live. This particular Tacoma area is called Proctor. Every city of size in the US has one. In Seattle it’s called Capitol Hill. In San Diego it’s Hillcrest. This area is old but meticulously maintained, young, hip, maybe a bit gay and definitely a bit odd. We looked at a terrific house yesterday that listed at about 20K above our price range and ended up about 40k past. There was a small (tiny really, less than 900 square feet), but cute early-50’s rambler in our price range. We decided to hold off on the offer on the Cape Cod until we’d seen this house.

It was great. Yeah it was small, but with an effective layout that made it seem… well laid-out. Nothing can make a 900 square foot home seem big. Anyway, it had hardwood floors throughout, a lovely fireplace and a large and private backyard. It was at the top of our price range, but workable. The bad news? It had been on the market for only one day, there was an open house tomorrow and all the signs of a feeding frenzy. We hemmed and hawed but we decided to make an offer and gave ourselves some wiggle room at the top. Everyone except my wife was ready to head to my parent’s house and work on the offer. She however, wanted to look at one more house in Proctor. This was nearby, bigger and more expensive. We relented and took a look at this other house.

Oh My God. It was close to perfect. Newly painted inside –a striking steel grey- with a new kitchen, new fixtures throughout, and a corner lot on a lovely, tree-lined street. Now, notice I said “close to perfect”. It’s listed as two stories, but in reality it’s a story-and-a-half. The bottom floor has the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, master bed and a second bedroom or office. The upstairs has what is optimistically termed a bedroom and a closet/bonus room something or other. We loved this house, far more than we did the little house. But wait, it’s beyond our price range. Or is it? We figured out what we could spend and called my Dad’s mortgage guy. What’s better than having a parent that’s a realtor? Having a parent who is a realtor with a good friend who is a mortgage broker. Mortgage Guy, who was out shopping on a Saturday afternoon, went into the office and crunched the numbers for us.

Wait… what we thought was the top of our price range wasn’t? We had given MG a number on our monthly payments, a hard cap really. He called us a couple hours later and said: This house would cost just under said hard cap. With tax and insurance included. So, now we are putting down an offer tomorrow morning. Our dream house has been on the market for a couple weeks now. We’re offering slightly under the asking price, but we have the ability to counter up to the asking.

Wish us luck ya’ll.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:14 PM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2005

Day 1

Our first day of maniacal house buying has been somewhat unsuccessful. As I mentioned before our current fave was sold. Well, we had two back-ups. The first is very cute, in a nice area, and features an unfortunately slumping porch that may require total replacement and might not pass inspection in the first place. The other back up is in okay condition, but in a less nice neighborhood. Plus the new furnace was being installed and they hadn’t bothered to cover the fake hardwood floors or the new carpets.

Other highlights? How about the house that had an unconnected garage featuring a false bookcase that opened to reveal a hidden room. Only this wasn’t a cool fake wall, this was a skeezy, creepy fake wall that seems perfect for hiding drugs or guns or something. We did find a very nice house in the best neighborhood, only to find that in one day on the market it was already sparked a bidding war that priced it outside of our range. Other highlights included the extraordinarily weird old house with a badly installed marble floor throughout the bottom floor. The bottom floor that had no furniture outside of a computer desk and a dozen Jesus portraits and was covered in bird droppings. Oh yeah, the smell of curry was so strong in this house you could smell it outside.

So now we have two days to find a house.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2005

And we’re off

So, after a day of work tomorrow that will probably never end, the Missus and are a hopping a plane to Seattle. Where we will have about 72 hours to find and purchase a house.

Yeah, that’s gonna be easy. To make matter worse, our current front -runner has been sold.

I might be able to update on our trip, but I make no promises. Wish us luck

Posted by Frinklin at 11:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005

You're trying to seduce me...


Anne Bancroft, who mesmerized an entire generation of young men in The Graduate, died today of uterine cancer. She was 73. While best known as Mrs. Robinson, she was nominated for 4 Oscars, winning in 1962 for her portrayal of Annie Sullivan in Helen Keller. Of all the amazing things about her work in The Graduate the most remarkable is this: she was only 36 years old when the movie was shot, a mere six years older than Dustin Hoffman.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Can we fall any farther on the director scale?

X-Men 3 has a new director. Replacing Matthew Vaughn, who replaced Bryan Singer is Rush Hour director Brett Ratner. Besides the awful Rush Hour movies, Ratner directed Red Dragon, the gore-filled remake of the first Hannibal Lector movie, and the supposedly watchable After the Sunset. There isn't much to be pleased with here, though. While I wasn't thrilled with Vaughn, at least we didn't know he's a hack.

To make matters worse, one of the AICN crew has read the X3 script and says it sucks.

Posted by Frinklin at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)

I officially don't give a damn about the NBA Finals

God spare us.

The Detroit Pistons are in the Finals again. This, combined with the shockingly easy dismissal of the Suns by San Antonio guarantees that I will not watch a single minute of the upcoming NBA Finals.

A team that I hate versus a team that I loathe. The Spurs are a least fun... well, not fun, but occasionally interesting. The Pistons play basketball like they're comprised on the thug from every team in your local rec league.

Wake me when it's over.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:51 PM | Comments (1)

Yeah, I guess this would be quiz day

You scored as Obi Wan Kenobi.

Obi Wan Kenobi




Anakin Skywalker


Mace Windu


Clone Trooper


Darth Vader


Padme Amidala








General Grievous


Emperor Palpatine


Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Found at the Tainted One's place. You can take it yourself, but it's a lot more work than you think.

Posted by Frinklin at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

I'm working on Baby's first words

A girl at my office is about to have a baby. She and her husband have settled on a name. How does Utah Johnathon sound?

Yep, Utah. This got me to thinking. Utah Johnathan.... Johnny Utah

My mission is clear: I must become good friends with these people and program this youngster. With a name like that, his first words must be:


Posted by Frinklin at 07:36 PM | Comments (1)

Now this is an interesting little quiz

A repressed gay blockbuster star. Don't get many of those these days, do we, Tom?
Which Famous Homosexual Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

Found at Cognitive Dissonance

Posted by Frinklin at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2005

Yeah, I still watch baseball

With the various craziness in my life (moving, working, Dad's illness, buying a house.. have I missed any?) I haven't paid nearly enough attention to the current baseball season to make any sense.

Well, I can tell you the Beloved M's suck as bad as they did last year, but you know that right?

I would like to congratulate my seldom-seen blog partner on his Washington Nationals sweeping the Marlins to become the first DC baseball team since 1933 to be in first place.

Posted by Frinklin at 05:09 PM | Comments (1)

June 04, 2005

Congrats to a fellow Coug

Twenty year-old WSU student Danielle Fisher has become the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountain peak on each continent.

Considering when I was a 20 year-old WSU student it took effort for me to get out of bed before noon, I am beyond impressed by this.

Posted by Frinklin at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

Some SuperNews

According to Frank Hughes of the TNT, Nate McMillan and Rick Sund could be done as early as this weekend. I'm not sure about Sund; last year's team seemed more lucky than anything, but resigning Nate is a must for the SuperSonics if they want to have any cred in Seattle.

Now get to work on Ray Allen, willya?

Posted by Frinklin at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2005

Are we paranoid or what?

The Missus has a very nice rundown on our adventures in home heating.

I swear to God I smelled the stuff last night. I know I did. So the propane guy comes out and finds nothing... again. This would be the third time we've had him out and he thinks we're nuts.

He may be right.

Posted by Frinklin at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005

I used to like Tim Kurkjian

But then he had to name Derek Jeter the "Face of Baseball". Sweet Jesus people, enough with the deification of the third-best Yankee position player.

Posted by Frinklin at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

Obscure Joke of the Week

Talk about a shocker! After all these years, it turns out that Deep Throat is actually beloved game-show host Allen Ludden.

The password is... conspiracy!

Has anyone tracked down Betty White for comment?

UPDATE: I discussed this startling development with a reigning authority (my mother), and she believes that Deep Throat is actually noted character actor Richard Mulligan. I think she might have a point. We report, you decide.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)