Monthly Archives: June 2011

Birdfight!

Let’s keep it civil this weekend, guys…

blue jay cardinal

 

–Chris

Tribute: George Carlin (1937-2008)

On this date three years ago comedian, author, and actor George Carlin died.

Those descriptors only tell part of the story, however. Carlin’s name is forever imprinted on how the U.S. views language fit for broadcast over the public airwaves. His dissection and analysis of language and the way we use it trickled into nearly every routine he shared with an audience. His social critiques were both funny and poignant, making listeners at the same time laugh and wonder what the hell is wrong with all of us.

Nothing was out of bounds in Carlin’s comedy, and that was always the point. He knew everything from the absurd to the universal and the mundane to the controversial could be funny…as long as we, the audience, were willing to laugh at ourselves.

Carlin released a dozen albums and was featured in a dozen HBO concert specials. He performed in front of countless fans over the years, won several Grammy awards, appeared on TV numerous times as both an actor and a comedian, acted in a number of movies, and wrote four best-selling books.

George Carlin has been and probably always will be my favorite comedian. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard everything he has ever recorded (and own most of them on vinyl, tape, or CD…and in some cases, all three), I’ve seen 10 of his 12 HBO specials, caught him live in concert twice, and am now starting to read his books even though I know a lot of the material in them I can recite from memory as I read.

There’s another connection here for me, too, and that’s with my dad. I have my love of vinyl records because of my dad; when I was young we’d listen to his collection all the time. Dad has three of Carlin’s earliest albums on vinyl: Take-Offs and Put-Ons, Class Clown, and An Evening With Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slazso. I remember very clearly only being allowed to listen to the first album for the longest time, because it was the only one my parents thought a 10 year old kid should listen to (i.e., no bad words). Then they relented a little and let me listen to side one of Class Clown; I couldn’t listen to side two because it contained “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.” But when I got a little older and started being left home alone, one of the first things I would do once I was sure my parents were really gone was pull out the Carlin records. I repaid my dad by taking him to see Carlin in concert at the Fox Theater in St. Louis several years ago; it was my second show but his first, after all those years of being a fan. When Carlin died, we talked about it on the phone like it was a favorite uncle or good family friend we had lost. I guess sadness upon knowing you’ve heard the last from a favorite, even though you never met that person, is universal—and probably one of those things Carlin would explore on stage.

So here’s to George Carlin: comedy pioneer and entertainment icon. I could probably post 100 links and videos to some of my favorite Carlin routines spanning his 40+ years in show business, but I think I’ll stick with a quickie from the old days that actually fits in with the spirit of this blog: the original (and incomplete, according to his website) version of “Baseball and Football” from the 1975 album An Evening With Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo.

And, in case you’re wondering, this is one of only a couple of tracks from the album that is safe to listen to at work.

 

 

 

–Chris

Terrible Tuesday

The St. Louis Cardinals kicked off their three game series vs. the Philadelphia Phillies by allowing 14 hitters to come to the plate in the top of the eighth inning, resulting in nine runs in what was, up until then, a close game. But the Phillies’ formidable power was not to blame—the Cards’ bullpen was.

The frame featured five St. Louis relievers. And the Phillies did have six hits in the inning. But hit batters and walks? Unacceptable. This had the makings of a really good win: Going into the eighth inning with a lead against Roy Halladay, who by that time was out of the game, and the Phillies is a place not a lot of teams find themselves. Kyle McClellan pitched a great game, going seven innings and only allowing one run. A win tonight would have meant getting the series off on the right foot, holding onto first place, and bolstering team confidence a little after the Albert Pujols injury.

But Pujols’ absence had no bearing on this game whatsoever. This game was pissed away. And not because the Phillies are that good; Cardinal relievers could not throw strikes. It’s just about time the front office finds guys who can.

-Chris

@birdbrained

Ankles Away!

A week ago, I severely sprained my right ankle. It’s the second time in the past few years I’ve done this, but the first set of circumstances was much more entertaining. A couple of years ago, I was treated to a Cardinals vs. Cubs game for my birthday, and let’s just say the biggest lesson I learned that night was to never again attempt to sit on the handrail of a moving escalator (I may or may not have had a few beers at the ballpark). Fast-forward to a week ago: I was trying to cram large pieces of wall paneling into the garbage truck. One piece in particular was being contrary, so I thought it just needed a quick jump-shove. Unfortunately, when I landed I came down on the side of my foot, not the bottom.

So I’m a gimp right now. But I haven’t been completely unproductive; last Sunday I read the end of one book (John Saul’s The Right Hand of Evil), started and finished another book (Sammy Hagar’s Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock), and then started a third book (American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis). I don’t think I’ve read that much in one day since I was a kid. It felt oddly fulfilling.

But my ankle still bothers me, and it’s just getting frustrating now. Stairs, whether it’s twenty or two, are a process. Sitting with my feet down makes my ankle ache; sitting with them up is just inconvenient. Wrap it, unwrap it. Ice, no ice. Anyone who has had a high ankle sprain—let alone two—can back me up on this. It quickly becomes a very annoying injury that grabs every time you try to go anywhere.

And on top of everything, I foresee this as something I’ll be prone to re-injure for the rest of my life. Not when I’m out for a run…or at the boxing gym, jumping rope or hitting the bags…but when I’m throwing trash into a truck or surfing the escalator handrail. Maybe I should just stop doing stupid shit. I’ll probably live longer.

Cardinals Draft 2B Wong in First Round

The first round of the 2011 Major League First Year Player Draft took place Monday night, and the St. Louis Cardinals chose University of Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong with the 22nd overall pick.

MLB Network televised the event, and the panel that included Peter Gammons, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, and host (and St. Louisan) Greg Amsinger project Wong to be a great clubhouse presence who will play good defense, hit for average, and run well. One description of Wong thrown out was “the second coming of Carlos Baerga,” and another compared him to former Cardinal Fernando Vina.

That all sounds great. Honestly, the draft isn’t my specialty…not by a longshot. I never heard this kid’s name before Monday; in fact I didn’t recognize any names I heard. I like the things the MLB Network guys said, and I’m anxious to hear what other writers—both local and national—have to say about this pick.

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overjoyed to hear that the Cards drafted a middle infielder. One of these guys has to stick eventually. Let’s hope they don’t try to convert him to a long reliever or something.

–Chris

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