Monday, May 30, 2005

Soldiers Dying For The Right To BBQ

Neil Diamond Sings 'America'...Hoy (Translation: Today)

this is an audio post - click to play

The rocket shells are raining over my head. I lay between a burning humvees and a demolished cinder block wall. I lay between valor and my death. I am going to die for my country--the great experiment called democracy, but I’m dying for more. The shrapnel in my chest will be honored and celebrated by millions of my countrymen in the form of pre-made frozen hamburger patties and hot links whose high capecin content willl lead to a evening of gastrointestinal agony. How can I forget the millions who will consume scores of beers for my selfless deeds. Ah, the freedom to get drunk--to get drunk on a Monday! God bless America.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lupus 5K Run/Walk Highlights/Lowlights

Runtime Six Minutes Worse Than 2004

What can I say? Ever since the BALCO story broke late last year I haven't been able to get my hands on the juice. My time of 40 minutes, 41 seconds was nearly six minutes worse than last year when a 12-year-old Chinese girl whooped me by 12 minutes.

I will say this, though, at least I beat my cousin.

Despite the poor showing, the event was again a success for the Lupus Foundation of Northern California. This was our third consecutive year at the run and it has slowly gained more participants and greater exposure in the media. I hope to see more of you next year.

Also: It's now become a tradition to celebrate Suzie's memory with these type of events; the Lupus walk/run in May, a small dinner to remember her passing in July and, of course, the Portugal vs. Mexico softball game for her birthday in August. Tentatively, the game is scheduled for Saturday, August 20th. Mark your calendars, sports fans!

Suzao's Lupus Walkers & Runners
The Family at the 11th Annual 5K Walk/Run for Lupus in Saratoga. Pictured left to right: Erica, Lucius, Claudia, Vanessa, Milton, Milton Jr., Patrick, Steve, Marianne.

Down the Stretch
Down the stretch: Milton struggles to keep up with Stevao. I had a doobie in my back pocket to give him inspiration.

Shoulda had a V-8
I gave it all I had. Actually, I walked about half of the 3.1 miles, but saved my energy for a quick burst at the end to, you know, make it look heroic.

Hobo John Warning In The NY TImes

Hobo John's story is coming to the LFR in two weeks in the form of a three-part serial. Is he fiction or real? One of Hobo John's many theories is that the clues to many conspiracies are revealed in small one-inch stories buried deep in your daily newspaper. Here's a blurb in today's New York Times, page A12:


JAKARTA, Indonesia, Thursday, May 26--The United States Embassy and other American government offices in Indonesia will be closed indefinitely because of a security threat, the embassy said Thursday. The Embassy provided no details, but a private security analyst said the reason was a "distinct, direct terrorist threat." The last similar closing was more than two years ago.

Is something about to happen in Indonesia? Sounds imminent, yet it only garnered an inch column on the twelfth page of the Times.

Hobo John comes to the LFR in "The Face of Lee Harvey Oswald" in two weeks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A's Future Told Tonight In Tampa

And It Ain't Bright For the Green & Gold

What a disaster tonight for the A's in Tampa. When you lose 14-6 to, by far, the worst team and organization in baseball, your tombstone for the season can begin to be etched. It goes farther than that, though.

Oakland's starter, the young and talented Joe Blanton continued his slide, possibly to the minors. Blanton surrendered 10 runs to the anemic Devil Rays in the first before being yanked with 1/3 of an innings work. He's now 0-5 and winless in his first nine Major League starts this season and contunues to look completely lost on the mound.

The pitcher called up today from AAA Sacramento, Britt Reames continued the bloodletting by giving up four runs in 4 2/3. The call up and crash and burn of Reames portends for the near future of the A's. Along with the recently promoted Tim Harikkala and Seth Etherton, Reames and every other journeyman 31 year old pitcher is likely to be tossing in the A's pitching carousel.

Worst of all the bad news is this: all this happened after the A's held a team-only meeting to air out their differences. Usually these rare meetings lead to a rousing performance, instead the A's turned in their worst performance of the season against the Devil Rays...the Devil Rays!

We'll have to keep an eye on where the rancor is emanating in the A's clubhouse. My gut feeling is the days are numbered for manager Ken Macha, pitching coach Curt Young or both. Most likely the unhappiness is coming from a few groups in the A's clubhouse because the team has no natural leader. Logic would point to either Barry Zito or Eric Chavez being the go-to guy, but Zito is too inward-thinking and shy while Chavez, unfortunately wants little attention and tends to uttered defeatist quotes to the Bay Area press corps.

Are you wondering who's pitching for the A's this weekend? He's probably getting bombed in a Houston, Cincinnati or Colorado uniform tonight waiting to be released and signed by the A's.

PS: The A's also can't hit a lick.

Willie & Julio Win American Idol

this is an audio post - click to play

Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias surprised the television audience of American Idol tonight with this rousing rendition of their 80's classic, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before"

Click above to listen their winning song

Monday, May 23, 2005

Summer Reading List

Watch out youngbloods! I'm going to trample those kids down at the public library.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

John Adams by David McCullough

My Life by Bill Clinton

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

What Ifs? of American History edited by Robert Cowley

1776 by David McCullough

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Time To Help Others In The Lupus Family

It has been nearly three years since my sister, Suzie, passed away from Lupus. The pain and hurt still exists for many of us but we've carved out new lives and paths with her memory in mind with time as our only medicine. Recovery from the tragic loss of a loved one is a long term affair for sure.

With the Lupus 5K Run/Walk tomorrow in Saratoga, it is time for families like ours, who have regained their strength to help those whose collective souls have been torn apart.

Attending tomorrow's 5K will be the family of Beatriz Elena Corbera-Hammack who passed away from Lupus last month at the age of 32. Their group, Team Bea, will be the largest memorial contingent at the event.

Her husband has created a memorial website I was haunted by the similar biography and photos to that of my sister. I propose a similar project to honor Suzie's life and struggle with Lupus.

Please remember this family and others who fight this horrible disease everyday.

11th Annual 5K Walk/Run for Lupus sponsored by NBC11.
May 22nd, 8am
West Valley College, Saratoga, CA.

I Think The Neighbor Is Dead, Part III

Still no sign of Geoff. The jokes and giggles over his possible demise has turned to incomfortable concern...and maybe a few funny quips, but maybe he's dead. Was I nice enough to get into his will? We felt it was time to go undercover.

Being the slick investigators that we are, we dressed up like common neighborhood walkers. As we passed his house, we slyly peaked into his garage, which was opened, without breaking stride.

Inside was, indeed, a clean garage, but no sign of Geoff, just Gene the Love Machine’s old Buick in the driveway. We turned the corner and doubled back quickly. Inside his garage was an array of Coca-Cola memorabilia and peculiarly, an inordinate amount of cardboard tubes. One of the investigators mentioned maybe he was an architect. "No", I said, "he’s a hairdresser."

Another investigator felt they could be for only thing and possible related to his disapperance. Could Geoff be an illegal international vibrator dealer? But I added, if he was, how big were these vibrators? Is there a market for elephant vibrators?

The investigation gathered more question than answers. Maybe we’ll rummage through his garbage tonight.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bay Bridge Series Resumes Tonight

Life in the Big Leagues
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Interleague baseball resumes tonight as the A's visit the Giants at Local Phone Company of the Moment Park.

Both Bay Area teams have remarkably fought to a even duel in the head-to-head standings since interleague play was instituted eight seasons ago. The series seems to have a different angle, though.

A's outfielder, Eric Byrnes, pictured to the right, is taking some precautions before stepping on the field.

"With all the injuries our team has come up against lately, we have to also worried about these bugs that are slowly eating Barry's [Bonds] knees" said Byrnes, "We've been really sucking lately, you know, some of us have been kneeling at the Zipper buffet for too long."

When asked if applying talcum powder to the crotch was a bit Draconian for a night game in the City, Byrnes said, "You can never be too cautious with the little Louisville Slugger and coin purse."

Bonds' Secrecy Not Fooling LFR

Me Barry! Me Angry!
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
I suppose if George W. Bush can operate in secret so can Barry Bonds.

Bonds and his team (not the Giants, but his lawyer and PR people) have figured that no news is good news and those rascally journalist just can't be trusted to walk the Bonds party line.

It is amazing how tight a grip Bonds has over the Giants. The owner, GM, manager and incredibly the team trainer all have little knowledge as to when Bonds will be back in leftfield or even if he plays again.

Instead, his lawyer, Michael Rains, the surgeon, Arthur Ting, his webmaster and, who knows, maybe son Nikolai (Does Bonds have some fascination with communism?) are the only souls with any information to the extent of his injury.

So it continues. Bonds, with the recent report that he was immobilized two weeks ago and feed antibiotics 24 hours a day, has upped the ante. It has been this blogs contention that Bonds will never play again. Couldn't he just say he's tired and hang 'em up?

This latest story smells of an intentional leak that leaves no middle ground and leaves the perception that Bonds has no choice but retire. The clue? A common and, by most standards, recoverable knee injury became three knee injuries to both knees and now has morphed, without any press or team scrutiny, into what the Bonds people says could be a life-threatened infection.

If his story is true, I say sign up those microbes eating his knees and put them on the mound. Preferably if they're lefthanded).

The Philosophy of Snoop Dogg

Snoop Doggy Dogg's classic, "Gin and Juice", revels in the notion of one's self and is reminiscent of the scientific revolution that invaded European thoughout the 17th century and beyond.

Snoop Dogg attempted to answer the age old question as to why human nature seeks nurture from outside himself rather than inside. In this situation, Snoop Dogg contemplates why does man seek complimentary sustitence from others?

Why must Snoop Dogg's "homies" contantly help themselves to his gin? Snoop Dogg, also, seems to be implying Emerson's transcendental reasoning that the answers to everything including a good cocktail are within grasp.

It can summed up neatly by French philosopher, Rene Descartes who said, cogito, ergo sum; "I think, therefore I am" or, in this case, "I thizzal, therefore I Izzal."

Click below to hear the LFR's version of "Gin and Juice".

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Pope Benedict XIV Gives Star Wars The Thumbs Up

Pope Benedict
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
The newly-elected pontiff, Benedict XIV, pictured to the right, thoroughly enjoyed the final Star Wars after viewing it with a few cardinals at the Vatican City.

Benedict XIV said he especially enjoyed the plotting Senator Palpatine, who manipulates the Republic senate.

"He's a man after my own heart, although, instead of killing all the Jedi's, I had to wait 26 years for the old guy with Parkinson's to shake on down to lord."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lupus 5K Run/Walk This Sunday

My bib from last year
Originally uploaded by wonderbread74.
Hope to see all of you early Sunday morning in Saratoga for a good cause.

Because of a back injury I'm registering in the walk rather than risking further injury. I still have to stay healthy for my softball team (I'm 11 for 16, you know!) and also I'm worried the 10-year-old Chinese girl who beat me by five minutes just might increase her margin this year.

Otherwise, I look forward to seeing a strong contingent for Suzao.

Sunday, May 22nd, 8am, West Valley College, Saratoga, CA.
$25 entry fee.

Audio Fringe Report Debuts!

this is an audio post - click to play

Just click on the button and listen to today's music selection: Steve Tavares as Tom Jones sings "She's A Lady".

The new audioblogger has open a new can of worms on the LFR, but for now, feel free to request your favorite song.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A's Deserve All The Blame For Fans' Behavior

It's happening, again. Those wild and dangerous A's fans are at it again, right?

A Lafayette man was charged this weekend with dumping beer on Jason Giambi as the steroid-filled slugger (he's hitting .206 currently) walked back to the dugout. A huge melee brokeout out in the upperdeck and a fan was hilariously tackled by Eric Byrnes Sunday.

News like this is quickly picked up by the national media and when coupled with fans throwing cellphones relievers assaulting fans in the stands, it reflects badly on A's fans. Is it warranted? Is it fair? Or are there other factors at work?

The citizens of the East Bay cannot be anymore prone to criminal behavior than any other Major League city. If this were true, then the ballparks in Washington, D.C. and Miami, having some of the highest crime rates in the U.S., would be battlegrounds. The story of the real problem of crime at the Coliseum lies in a decision made in 1997.

The spendthrift owners of the Oakland Athletics not only penny-pinch on their product on the field, but also in security and customer relations. In 1997, yours truly, benefitted from the A's decision to break the union that represented ushers and security at the Coliseum. I was a scab, I suppose, and ushered people around the stadium and watched baseball games for free because long-time ushers were laid off and given the choice to reapply for their jobs as non-union workers.

The union tried to get reinstated, but failed. Only the ticket-takers, a group of old guard union members joined the Teamsters. The others settled for $7.15/hr in wages with no benefits others than having a glimpse of Jose Canseco every so often.

Today, ushers and security guards are given the choice of creating their own schedules. If, for instance, you foresee a huge crowd for bobblehead day or the New York Yankees coming to town, you could decline to work those days. And most do. The A's then, further tighten their belts by farming out the work to outside contractors like Staff Pro whose employees have little instruction or no desire to do a credible job.

While the A's save money by dumping MVPs and young pitchers to save money they also pinch pennies on security. How many black eyes to the A's and Coliseum's reputation will have to occur for the A's to respond? In the media, they continue to announce more security and harsher charges against criminal activity, but it just continues.

At Saturday night's upper deck melee, there was zero presence from either security or ushers. Did the A's not foresee 41,000 fans? All these problems have occurred from outlying areas of the Coliseum that the team chooses not to staff.

The A's and Major League Baseball should stop paying lip-service to fan behavior and begin policing themselves. Maybe the A's should offer people more than $8/hr with a few benefits rather than shifting the blame to so-called poor fan behavior. Blame the A's.

PS: Thanks for trading Mulder. He really looks like he's lost his fastball (5-1, 2.76 ERA)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I Think The Neighbor Is Dead, Part II

Nothing since Saturday night has changed my feeling that something has happened to my neighbor, Geoff.

We've seen one of his ex-boyfriends on numerous ocassions this week. A guy named Dean the Love Machine, who coincidently, looks exactly like Geoff. Tall and gaunt with a 1970s glam-rock hairdo. Sort of like Steve Perry of Journey on crack. They look so similar that I've actually waved hello to Dean driving on the road. I've never formally met Dean the Love Machine so he always looks perplexed why I'm greeting him so enthusiastically. I've also never meet his predecessor in love, Stan the Man, but I digress.

Dean and some raggedly-looking acquitances have been showing up at Geoff's house a few times this week. It seems like they're cleaning out the garage. Picking through his belongings without any sight of Geoff. As if the guy kicked the bucket and his vulture friends are tearing away their piece of the carcass.

Yesterday, a beat up station wagon complete with wood siding on the doors sped away haphazardly piled high with junk. All that was missing was Granny and Elie May sitting atop the wagon Beverly Hillbillies-style. Jethro was probably with Dean, you know, The Love Machine.

So what kind of neighbors are we? Not very good ones, I suppose. We're all afraid to walk across the street and ask about Geoff. He could be held hostage right now while we're laughing acorss the street watching American Idol and eating Hamburger Helper.

I'm thinking if somehting really happened to him, I may have been the last person he spoke to. When I spoke to him last Saturday night, he offered to cut my hair at his personal salon (of course, he's a hairdresser, silly) and he gave me his number to make an appointment. When he invited me in to his house to look for a pen and paper I only stood in the doorway staring at his aquarium. I don't feel comfortable venturing too far inside because, as many of you know, I do have a sweet ass...and I thank you.

If things continue to look suspicious, we just might launch an undercover investigation or rescue attempt to solve this mystery.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

NYT: Brazilians Love Bolinhos

Peculiar Caption in NYT Magazine

There was an odd, sexually-tinged caption in the April 24th New York Times Magazine (page 82). The caption under a photo of a Brazilian restaurant reads: "The action at Bracarense, where bolinhos are a delicacy."

For my non-Portuguese-speaking readers, the caption literally translates as "The action at Bracarense, where little balls are a delicacy."

Sounds kinky.

The Brazilians just can't get enough balls. The comedy hijinks continue in the body of the text.

"'People were clamoring for a better bolinho,' explains Sebastiao Peris the owner of Rei do Bolinho de Bacalhau."

Mr. Peris seemed to learn more about the birds and the bees from his mom.

"Peris learned to cook bolinhos from his Portuguese mother. But Pedrinho Prado, the chef and owner of the bistro Sao Sebastiao, gives credit to the Brazilians for bringing bolinhos to life."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I Think The Neighbor Is Dead, Part I

Faint red lights pierced the curtains into our bedroom Saturday night. I opened the bathroom window for a better view of the rumbling firetruck, paramedics van and police cruiser parked across the street.

Our neighbor, Geoff, is quite the character. A few weeks before he arrived at our door dressed in drag as something between and old bar hag and Bea Arthur's character--Dorothy--from the Golden Girls. Geoff ususally has no problem entertaining a group of strangers with a mixture of sexually-tinged quips and unconfortable but poignant jabs being gay. Geoff is a good guy. The problem with him shouldn't be about being gay, but being a drug addict.

Saturday night I talked to Geoff in the middle of the street and he told me that he felt a little depressed and I sensed that he was a bit loaded or drunk. Nonetheless, he didn't seem he usual Vegas showgirl shelf.

Around two in the morning, I noticed the hum of a fire truck outside my bedroom. From my vantage point, nothing happening, but a light shining through a small, presumably bathroom window. Within an hour, the commotion had passed and only allowed for speculation on our part as to what occurred at our neighbors home.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Run For The Roses

Five minutes to post time at Churchill Downs, race fans! Here's where I'm putting my money:

1. Afleet Alex (9:2 odds)
2. Bellamy Road
3. High Fly

I'm not a big fan of Bellamy Road. The racing world was looking for a sexy favorite and found the speedy Bellamy Road in the past three weeks. He looks like a classic flavor of the month-type horse. Nevertheless, I'm nervous about the George Steinbrenner-owned horse. Also, the Yankees suck!

(UPDATE: You can't account for an anomaly like the 50-1 ultra longshot Giacomo winning the Derby. At least, Afleet Alex finished third. It just goes to show, when handicapping the ponies, you got to listen to yourself think. Case in point, I internalized everything I heard about Bellamy Road andfailed to listen to my own analysis. Bellamy Road had no heart and basically withdrew from the four-horse pack down the stretch. Let's hope the Yankees do the same.)