Saturday, October 27, 2007

Curmudgeon in the Wry 369

Saturday, October 27, 2007---571 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 52 seconds (time frittered away) (a pointless waste of time)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
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Rave: Coleman Hawkins
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On the Hi Fi: Riverside Jazz, yet another terrific Starbucks collection including Coltane, Byrd, Monk and Milt Jackson.
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Reading: “Down River” by John Hart (2007).
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Didjaknow: The New England Patriots are the only NFL team to have beaten the point spread every week this season. Pretty amazing with the enormous number of points they give each game.
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Rave: Chuck Thagard reminded me that part of magic of those Ricky Nelson hits was the guitar playing of James Burton.
Burton and Ricky were both teens at the start---so they were truly singing to their generation.
Burton was house guitarist for the Louisiana Hayride at sixteen, led Elvis Presley’s band in the ‘70s and played lead guitar on Gram Parsons’ pair of solo LPs
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Factoid: An Associated Press survey learned that 34% of Americans believe in ghosts.
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Rave: When it comes to the funny papers, I guess I am a traditionalist. My reads include Blondie, Mallard Fillmore, Garfield, Shoe, Dilbert, Sally Forth, Funky Winkerbean, Luanne, Non Sequitur, Dennis the Menace, BC, Wizard of Id, Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey.
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Hmmmm: Remember when Halloween was strictly for kids?
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Truism: You do not have to be the author of “Moneyball” to recognize that the Red Sox are not going to have to wait an additional 86 years to win another World Series.
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Factoid II: The NY Yankees lead the free world in World Series titles with 26. Who is second?
The St. Louis Cardinals with ten.
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Rave: Seldom do I sing the praises of “Things University of North Carolina”, but kudos to Professor C.A. Tuggle.
He is the faculty advisor to grad student Carla Babb, whose video project got John Edwards all upset.
Edwards wanted the video removed from You Tube since was not kind to his make believe populist beliefs.
The professor told them to take a hike. He noted that before the Edwards camp made a mountain out of a molehill, the video project would probably have an audience of 2,000. Now millions will see it…and more people will learn that his behavior is still in $400 haircut category.
The only thing worse than a socialist, is a whining socialist----come on down John Edwards.
+++++++
Speaking of politicians: When you watch elected officials at the national, state and local levels it seems like Groundhog Day.
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Rant: So Hank Steinbrenner huffs and puffs and asks the question, “Where was Joe Torre’s career in 1995 when my dad hired him?”
This begs the question, where was Hank’s career before Papa George brought him into the family business?
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Quote: “The World Series crowd is peppered with high rolling, front running ‘event’ people.”---Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe.
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Remember when: Journalism was actually about the news. Murrow and the “Murrow boys” taught and understood that “everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.” They and those they influenced found out who, where, what, when and why.
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Hmmmm: Isn’t “young Republican” a contradiction in terms?
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Rimshot: Why does cargo move by ship, but shipments go by trucks?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.












Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Curmudgeon in the Wry 368

Wednesday, October 24, 2007---478 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 44 seconds (time frittered away) (a pointless waste of time)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: The Boston Red Sox.
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On the Hi Fi: Best of Ricky Nelson. “Poor Little Fool” (1958) is still my favorite. And, I sure do miss those two and a half minute songs. Shorter records make longer play lists.
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Reading: Ken Follett’s “Lie Down with Lions.” (1986)
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Curiouser and curiouser: Last issue it was noted that Kenny Lofton and Tim Stoddard are the only two athletes to play in both the Final Four and World Series. Turns out they both attended the same high school in East Chicago, Indiana.
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Rave: Listening to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on ESPN Radio and turning off the sound of the monotonous Joe Buck and the tedious Tim McCarver on Fox TV is the only way to enjoy the World Series.
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Rave: We all realize that Manny is as goofy as the day is long, but not only is he a great hitter---he may be the most disciplined hitter playing today. However, his nickname will never be Manny Ballgame.
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Rant: If you are old enough to remember Groucho Marx, you realize the current crop of comedians are just faking it.
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TV Time Out: This is the 60th anniversary of the initial televised World Series game. For that Yankee/Brooklyn Dodgers series, TV used exactly one camera. This year Fox is using 24 cameras---22 seem to be for crown and dugout shots.
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Factoid: More people died from the influenza pandemic of 1918 than in all of World War One.
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Rant: Why is it that people whose seats are farthest from the aisle are the last to arrive at sporting events?
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Hmmm: Whoever has the concession for those orange barrels used by highway transportation departments has to be approaching Bill gates as America’s wealthiest billionaire.
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Didjaknow: Billionaire T. Boone Pickens donated $265 million to his alma mater, Oklahoma State University---earmarked solely for the athletic program.
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Colorblind: The “green card” all those illegal immigrants try to filch is actually pinkish in color.
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Duly noted: Jason Kidd’s recent troubles allege that a woman charged him with harassing and groping her at a “trendy” Manhattan nightclub. I guess Kidd would feel true remorse if he had to defend himself versus charges that he appeared at an untrendy nightclub.
+++++++
Hmmm: Why do steam irons have a permanent press setting? And, how did they describe counter-clockwise prior to the invention of the clock?
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Utopia for liberals: One-third of the population on welfare, one-third working for the government and the other third paying all the bills.
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.






Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gone, Baby, Gone---Book and Movie

It has been five years since I read Dennis Lehane’s intense “Gone, Baby, Gone.”
I had forgotten what a complex and riveting story he created. It is the fourth in his five book series featuring Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro.
Now I will go back and reread the other four.
Being the Lehane fan, I am. I approached the movie with a skeptical attitude.
Director Ben Affleck has made a number of poor career decisions, but bring this book to the silver screen was not one of them.
The movie does not deliver the complete promise of the book, but it has many redeeming qualities.
For one thing, Affleck does not create composite characters. He remains true to the story’s timeline…all though he compresses the time to solve the case significantly.
And, he eschews the current annoying Hollywood mantra of one big explosion every ten minutes.
His brother, Casey, shines as Patrick Kenzie and Ed Harris delivers his usual gripping performance.
Michelle Monaghan remains in the shadows as Angie, not the wise cracking, skilled and attention-grabbing partner she is in the book. Amy Ryan is spectacular as the partying unfit mother whose child is abducted.
Morgan Freeman’s role is as abbreviated in the flick as in the book, but played to the hilt.
It probably is more entertaining if you didn’t read book…but not to read Dennis Lehane is to deprive yourself of many hours of enjoyment.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 367

Tuesday, October 23, 2007---769 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 47 seconds (time frittered away) (a pointless waste of time)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: Robert Duvall
+++++++
On the Hi Fi: “Got Nothing But Song”---A wonderful Starbucks collection featuring such jazz vocalists as Nina Simone, Chet Baker, Mose Allison, Blossom Dearie and more.
+++++++
Reading: Ross McDonald’s Lew Archer novel from 1973, “Sleeping Beauty.”
Paul Newman’s character in 1966’s “Harper” was based on Lew Archer.
+++++++
My-Oh-My: Josh Beckett just stands there and says, “See if you can hit this” in October the way Bob Gibson did in 1964. He is also Kenny Chesney’s doppelganger.
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My-Oh-My II: What do think? Is it about time we learned the names of the Colorado Rockies’ players.
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My-Oh-My III: As the Joe Torre era in New York ends, he leaves with four World Series rings, and the respect of the baseball world. There are worse legacies.
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Rant: Terry Francona should be fired if he puts Eric Gagne in any game, except for mop up duty.
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Rave: It has been five years since I read Dennis Lehane’s intense “Gone, Baby, Gone.”
I had forgotten what a complex and riveting story he created. It is the fourth in his five book series featuring Boston PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro.
Now I will go back and reread the other four.
Being the Lehane fan, I am. I approached the movie with a skeptical attitude.
Director Ben Affleck has made a number of poor career decisions, but bring this book to the silver screen was not one of them.
The movie does not deliver the complete promise of the book, but it has many redeeming qualities.
For one thing, Affleck does not create composite characters. He remains true to the story’s timeline…all though he compresses the time to solve the case significantly.
And, he eschews the current annoying Hollywood mantra of one big explosion every ten minutes.
His brother, Casey, shines as Patrick Kenzie and Ed Harris delivers his usual gripping performance.
Michelle Monaghan remains in the shadows as Angie, not the wise cracking, skilled and attention-grabbing partner she is in the book. Amy Ryan is spectacular as the partying unfit mother whose child is abducted.
Morgan Freeman’s role is as abbreviated in the flick as in the book, but played to the hilt.
It probably is more entertaining if you didn’t read book…but not to read Dennis Lehane is to deprive yourself of many hours of enjoyment.
+++++++
Pop Quiz: Recite the first five letters of the Greek alphabet.
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Rant: Nancy Grace is repulsive!
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Pop Quiz II: Name the first five books of the Old Testament. Now, the New Testament.
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Rant: Will someone please tell Greenspan and Carter that neither is any longer in office?
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Rave: If someone came up with an automobile horn that sounded like squealing tires, maybe other drivers would pay attention.
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Pop Quiz III: Name the first five elements in the Periodic Table of the Elements.
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Truism: It is worthy of note---how short an hour-long TV show is when you fast-forward through the commercials.
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Factoid: Tim Stoddard (NC State & Baltimore Orioles) and Kenny Lofton (Arizona & Cleveland Indians) are the only two athletes to play in both the Final Four and World Series.
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Hmmmm: Could the New England Patriots be the ’27 Yankees in shoulder pads?
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Pop Quiz IV: Recite The Lord’s Prayer. For extra credit, The Apostle’s Creed.
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Rant: The cause of global warming is Al Gore’s hot air. Lest we forget, he could not carry his home state of Tennessee during the 2000 election…and that Yasser Arafat also won the Nobel peace prize.
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Further thoughts on meetings and committees: “Not even computers will replace committees, because committees buy computers.”---Edward Shepherd Mead.
“You’ll find in no park or city a monument to a committee.”---Victoria Pasternak.
“Committee: a group of the unfit, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary.”---Stewart Harrol.
+++++++
Pop Quiz V: Recite the opening line of the Gettysburg Address. Extra credit for Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.
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Rimshot: I know I am in my own little world, but that’s okay---they know me here.
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Rant: When Rudy Giuliani “took” that lame cell phone call from his wife during a recent speech, I immediately thought it was Bob Newhart running for president.
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Rimshot II: Do department heads at the CDC hold regularly scheduled staph meetings?
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If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.












Saturday, October 06, 2007

"Midnight Rambler" by James Swain

Novels of child abduction and pedophiles are not my cup of latte. Were I not a huge fan of Jim Swain’s spectacularly entertaining Tony Valentine novels, I never would have tried “Midnight Rambler.”

“Midnight Rambler” is a stand-alone thriller, and perhaps is Jim’s strongest novel to date.

Jack Carpenter was a Broward County PD missing child specialist. Now he is living over a bar in Dania, barely able to pay the rent.

He lost his badge and his marriage during the apprehension and conviction of Simon Skell, a notorious serial killer.

When Skell’s lawyer orchestrates a release on a technicality, Jack is obliged to reconfirm the case or else all he lost will be for naught.

Skell is a fearsome adversary. He manages to run a bunch of hooligans on the outside from his jail cell. This ring preys on the vulnerable women, obtaining crucial info in a most ingenious and insidious manner. It is an odd coupling: a venal radio talk show host, the sinister CEO of a communication company and two sordid, reprehensible Cubans posing as cable installers.

Part of their conspiracy is to discredit Jack completely.

One of Jack’s few allies is a stripper who the gang kidnaps.

As Jack competes against the ticking clock to prevent her death, for each insightful piece of the puzzle he uncovers, he runs up upon an equally imposing dead end. The frustration amplifies the suspense and tension.

The procedural aspects are absolutely credible, the action is taut, the dialogue convincing and the characters are terrifyingly real.

You know these types of lawbreakers exist. They are your worse nightmare and will make you sleep with a light on for a while.

Do not miss this book.

Curmudgeon in the Wry 365

Saturday, October 06, 2007---818 Words---Average reading time: 2-minutes, 57 seconds (time frittered away) (a pointless waste of time)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: Chet Baker
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On the Victrola: “The Very Best of Diana Krall”
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Reading: “The Blade Itself” by Marcus Sakey.
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Rant: Those Frank Caliendo TV promos during the TBS Division Series broadcasts are relentlessly effective. We have now been warned to stay as far away from the show as possible.
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Quote: “Three announcers in a sports booth is one too many.”---Frank Deford.
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Rant: One would have hoped that TBS would have adhered to Frank’s advice for the MLB Division Series. Their Braves broadcasts have been among the finest of any sport. In addition, they always had two announcers…both were equally adroit at play by play and analysis.
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Rant: Speaking of the Braves TBS announcers---why are they not doing the majority of the announcing? Their work is so far superior to the clowns boring us to death thus far.
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Rant: During the first Indians/Yankees game, Lebron James (once again) showed off his Cro-Magnum IQ. How pathetic to wear the Yankee cap when you are an Ohio boy and a high profile athlete in Cleveland!!! Better to wear no hat while in a Cleveland venue.
+++++++
Rave: To TBS roving announcer Craig Sager for calling James a front-runner on national TV.
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Nuts: The Cubs folded like a cheap card table. So much for my hopes for a Red Sox/Cubs World Series.
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Rave: Nothing could be fina…than to be in Carolina…and see the Red Sox up two games to none and the Yankees down zero and two.
+++++++
Even Sweeter: Seeing Alex Rodriguez oh-for-the-division series. I say that knowing we could turn it around and carry the Yankees to three victories in the blink of an eye.
+++++++
Rave: Novels of child abduction and pedophiles are not my cup of latte. Were I not a huge fan of Jim Swain’s spectacularly entertaining Tony Valentine novels, I never would have tried “Midnight Rambler.”
“Midnight Rambler” is a stand-alone thriller, and perhaps is Jim’s strongest novel to date.
Jack Carpenter was a Broward County PD missing child specialist. Now he is living over a bar in Dania, barely able to pay the rent.
He lost his badge and his marriage during the apprehension and conviction of Simon Skell, a notorious serial killer.
When Skell’s lawyer orchestrates a release on a technicality, Jack is obliged to reconfirm the case or else all he lost will be for naught.
Skell is a fearsome adversary. He manages to run a bunch of hooligans on the outside from his jail cell. This ring preys on the vulnerable women, obtaining crucial info in a most ingenious and insidious manner. It is an odd coupling: a venal radio talk show host, the sinister CEO of a communication company and two sordid, reprehensible Cubans posing as cable installers.
Part of their conspiracy is to discredit Jack completely.
One of Jack’s few allies is a stripper who the gang kidnaps.
As Jack competes against the ticking clock to prevent her death, for each insightful piece of the puzzle he uncovers, he runs up upon an equally imposing dead end. The frustration amplifies the suspense and tension.
The procedural aspects are absolutely credible, the action is taut, the dialogue convincing and the characters are terrifyingly real.
You know these types of lawbreakers exist. They are your worse nightmare and will make you sleep with a light on for a while.
Do not miss this book.
+++++++
Tis true: Most times, I have a difficult time knowing when to use insure or ensure as well as affect and effect. However, I do know that there is no such word as irregardless, that “same exact” is the most irritating redundancy in the English language and that “hopefully” is likely the most misused English word.
+++++++
One to ponder: If it is not the height of irony, it is at least perfect symmetry that both the launch of Sputnik and the first episode of “Leave It to Beaver” occurred on October 4, 1957---fifty years ago.
+++++++
Hmmm: Soy sauce is salty…soymilk is sweet…soybeans are crunchy…tofu is spongy---pretty weird, is it not?
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Truism: Home Depot is so understaffed; it gives new meaning to the term “self service.”
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Another truism: Baseball games lasting four plus hours. I do not even want to be with myself for four hours.
+++++++
Yet another truism: The Mets, the high sex appeal choice to make it to the World Series, went down faster than the Titanic.
+++++++
Rave: It would appear that the Rockies are Destiny’s Team this season.
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Curmudgeon in the Wry 364

Wednesday, October 03, 2007---518 Words---Average reading time: 1-minute, 57 seconds (time frittered away) (a pointless waste of time)
Offending readers one issue at a time since 2001.
Almost completely free of original ideas.
Often wrong…never in doubt.
+++++++
Rave: “The War” by Ken Burns on PBS.
+++++++
On the Victrola: “Poetics of Sound”---a Starbucks collection of Miles Davis, vintage 1954-1959.
+++++++
Reading: Jim Swain’s “Midnight Rambler.”
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Rave: Overall, I give “The War” high marks. Ken Burns did live up to his promise of showing film clips and photos not seen previously…a few repeats snuck in, but it was a treat to see all the new (to me) footage.
The concept of telling the story from four towns was a distinctive touch. Katharine Phillips from Mobile was a spectacular representative for the home front.
I was struck by how many of the witnesses constantly referred to the troops as “our boys.” In the main, there were just boys who grew up fast and led this nation to victory and, upon returning, guided the country into an era of unmatched prosperity that is still with us today.
We could have German or Japanese as the language of the USA today, were it not for their leadership, sacrifice, selflessness and initiative.
If I had to quibble, it would be about the music. I think more period music would have augmented the narrative---more Dorsey, Miller, Goodman, Shaw, Andrew Sisters, Mills Brothers, Duke Ellington, etc.
The original music composed by Wynton Marsalis was (at times) maudlin and dreary. There are any number of melancholy jazz pieces by the likes of Benny Carter, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, etc. that could have conveyed the mood with a more hopeful sound.
+++++++
Truism: The following sentence - "Michael Vick is stupider than we thought" - has no expiration date.
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Rant: For most of us, the U in ESPNU stands for unavailable.
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Truism: Exercise is a miracle drug.
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Truism II: Junk is something you have kept around for years, only to toss it one week before you need it.
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Hmmmm: What is with these “next generation” claims on various products? If they are truly “next generation,” why are here now?
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Rant: If I hear the term “carbon footprint” one more time, I am going to scream.
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Rave: Having the entire schedule of the MLB Division Series on TBS, baseball fans are spared some of the worst announcers in the game on Fox and ESPN. Most of the TBS is pretty darn good or at least benign. We will not be insulted by the likes of Berman, Sutcliffe, Buck and McCarver. However, we do miss out on Jon Miller.
+++++++
Rant: The TBS feature of Cal Ripken swinging at the virtual pitch is truly weak…in fact; the word pathetic comes to mind.
+++++++
Please explain: What is the value of a helicopter traffic report done by a reporter that speaks faster than the speed of light?
+++++++
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English thank a Veteran.
That is all.
As you were.