Saturday, August 30, 2003



Young man, there's no need to feel down
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy

Young man, there's a place you can go
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
They have everything For young men to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean
You can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel.

Young man, Are you listening to me
I said, young man, what do you want to be
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams,
but you've got to know this one thing.

No man, does it all by himself
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I'm sure they can help you today

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
They have everything for young men to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean
You can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel.

Young Man, I was once in your shoes,
I said, I was down and out with the blues
I felt, no man cared if I were alive
I felt the whole world was so jive

That's when someone came up to me
and said young man take a walk up the street
There's a place there called the Y.M.C.A.
They can start you back on your way.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
They have everything For young men to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
Young man, Young man, there's no need to feel down
Young man, Young man, pick yourself off the ground

just go to the Y.M.C.A.
Young Man, Young Man, I was once in your shoes,
Young Man, Young Man, I was out with the blues


I'm just asking.

Friday, August 29, 2003


It's always sad when a parent dies. My sympathies go out to Barry Bonds and his family. Bonds the elder clearly touched many people.

One was Willie Mays. Perhaps the greatest centerfielder in baseball, the second-greatest (at least for the moment) home run hitter in history, Mays is Barry Bonds' godfather. And, in the wake of Bobby Bonds' death, Mays said that Bobby Bonds deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.


Baseball players, even the greats, apparently, just have no sense of history. I remember that Don Mattingly had no idea who Lou Gehrig was and believed Babe Ruth to be mythical, not real. Many of today's players have no idea who older players were. And finally, there are those players who confuse talent -- which every major leaguer has -- with success. Bobby Bonds was a very good player, but based on his peregrinations, it's also clear that he was not good enough for a team to hold onto him no matter what. After playing seven years with the Giants, he played seven more with seven different teams.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Bobby Bonds. But what I am complaining about is the inability to separate the truly great from the very good. When in doubt, a player should be left out.

Visit a website I like called There they use Bill James' way of calculating similar players. I looked up Bobby Bonds, and here's what gives:

Similar Batters

1. Ron Gant (907)
2. Reggie Smith (888)
3. Jack Clark (884)
4. George Foster (883)
5. Fred Lynn (875)
6. Roy Sievers (868)
7. Dick Allen (866)
8. Ellis Burks (865)
9. Bobby Murcer (864)
10. Rocky Colavito (862)

Most Similar by Age

22. Jim King (981)
23. Oddibe McDowell (973)
24. Ellis Burks (953)
25. Jack Clark (952)
26. Andre Dawson (957)
27. Jack Clark (943)
28. Jack Clark (933)
29. Dale Murphy (919)
30. Dave Winfield (922)
31. Dave Winfield (914)
32. Dale Murphy (913)
33. Dale Murphy (918)
34. Dwight Evans (904)
35. Dwight Evans (908)

You'll notice that these are all very good players, but of them, only Dave Winfield is in the Hall of Fame. I might make an argument for Dwight Evans, but nobody else has.

The Hall of Fame belongs to the greats. Let's let logic, not emotion, keep it so.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Summer Fizzles

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reprinted a Hugh Hart article from the San Francisco Chronicle on summer movies that sizzled, in which the author pretended to explain it.

The article proves that nobody in Hollywood or the community of film critics has a clue about why the public buys anything.

For instance, one wag named Brandon Gray (of a company called "Box Office Mojo," golly gee) said that the reason Hollywood Homicide failed was because nobody wanted to see its "iconic" star Harrison Ford riding a little girl's bicycle. That could be true. A very good film, Last Action Hero, failed because his core audience didn't want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger making fun of action flicks and because people who would have liked to see action flicks lampooned didn't want to see an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. But I contend that the real failure of Hollywood Homicide was its title. It didn't sound like a comedy, and I feared a film more the gritty and bloody shoot-'em-ups so popular with the kids. Fans of those movies probably didn't want to see a Harrison Ford film. Oh, and one more thing: Harrison Ford is old. He's not a star of the current generation. Some actors make this transition well, some don't.

The other film mentioned in the same paragraph was The In-Laws, the remake of the wonderful 1970s film starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. Okay, I didn't see that one either. But the two have in common this: Old leading men who are trying to be younger on-screen and off-screen. Douglas is (repulsively) married to one of the world's most beautiful women, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Ford is dating the equally young (although substantially lesser) Calista Flockhart. I have to think that if they think their personal lives are going so well, the rest of the world will think they're attractive. I don't think so.

By the way, The In-Laws failed because remakes should never be made. (Unless it's A Star Is Born, which seems to be the exception to the rule.)

You know what's worse than a remake? Something set in an era that nobody remembers. Such was the case with Down With Love, the romantic comedy made to look like, and set in the era of, Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Hollywood has it half-right: Some people will search out movies starring their favorites. But Renee Zellweger probably hasn't reached that point yet. But more likely the potential audience will run out and see a film with a favorite star if it offers a premise that makes sense for that star. (See Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas.) Kindergarten Cop was a hit because people like Schwarzenegger (maybe too much, but that will soon be California's problem) and thought it would be interesting to see him in that situation. (Note: See -- we'll watch a movie in which an icon does silly stuff.) Baby boomers think the world is interested in what they remember, and think. It's not. It's on to 8 Mile.

As for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you can name the problems with this movie (which, by the way, I enjoyed well enough at a matinee price). First, it's set in the past. Second, it stars Sean Connery, who may have retained his attraction well into his dotage, but seems to have lost that a film or three back. (In fact, I can name the film -- Entrapment -- ironically co-starring the young and babelicious Zeta-Jones. That was when my wife and I first realized Connery had merely gotten creepy.) It also appears that once Connery was cast, there was no money in the budget for any other actors of equal power to appear in the League with him. The film also had huge script problems, starting with how Captain Nemo got a submarine to Paris (solved by the scriptwriter by not showing it), and continuing with how all the characters decided with little provocation on whom the red-herring traitor in the group was.

Why did Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life not succeed? I don't know. Wasn't it advertised on Fox enough? Gray contends that the word "cradle" turned off the testosterone crowd. Maybe. I didn't know what the film's name was, it was just Lara Croft II as far as I was concerned. I think the audience was probably tired of star Angelina Jolie and her hyper-publicized split from Billy Bob Thornton. Plus, like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, its main base is England. That works for Austin Powers movies, because those are jokes, but really, nobody in the USA really cares about anyone from England, not in a serious movie.

Then there's Gigli. Haven't seen it, but I will one day. But my first reaction when I heard about this movie was it would fail simply because of the title. Aside from Italian-Americans who are still close to their heritage, nobody knows what this word means or how to pronounce it. Oh, and by the way: I don't think Ben Affleck can carry a film on his own yet, either... face it, Colin Farrell stole Daredevil, and guys wanted to see Jennifer Garner as much as another Marvel super-hero. Let me rephrase my point: Anybody remember Pearl Harbor? One assessment here by Gray I agree with: Guys think Affleck is whipped, and that ain't going to help him be a guy's guy.

Of course, the film that turned out to be the summer's biggest hit starred the voice of a man who has played nebbish after nebbish and a woman whose sexual preference got her booted off the air by ABC: Finding Nemo, featuring Albert Brooks and Ellen De Generes. De Generes is hated by a big portion of the country because she "promotes the gay lifestyle" -- I know people who refer to her as "Ellen Degenerate." I guess enough people are comfortable with her, however, because they saw Finding Nemo in droves. It helps to have a wonderful script about a father's love for his son and amazing, state-of-the-art Pixar animation (our stock is up since we bought it).

All that said, take what I say with a grain of salt. I think much of the film-going audience is composed of idiots and many critics are fools. I like Ishtar, widely considered to be a failure. I love The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (and you should, too). I thoroughly enjoyed Last Action Hero.

Ultimately, the problem in Hollywood is that apparently it's not important to first have a good script. It's important to have a "bankable" star (though a large number of big hits have been made without them), or to have a movie that's like a movie that was a hit. Just give us a compelling story with actors it's easy to care about and you'll get a hit. It can't be that hard.

Then again, marketing seems to be a challenge for most companies. Remember New Coke?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

AMAZING TRUE STORY! (Gleefully Stolen and Adapted)

On a tour of the US, the Pope took a few days off to visit the beach to relax. He was cruising along the sands in the Popemobile when there was a frantic commotion just off shore. A helpless man, wearing a BOSTON RED SOX jersey, was struggling frantically to free himself from the jaws of a 25-foot shark. As the Pope watched in horror, a speedboat pulled up with three men wearing NEW YORK YANKEES jerseys.

One quickly fired a harpoon into the shark’s side while the other two reached out and pulled the blue semiconscious Red Sox fan from the water. Then using the long clubs, the three beat the shark to death and hauled it into the boat. Immediately the Pope shouted and summoned them to him. "I give you my blessing for your brave actions. I heard that there were some bitter hatreds between Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, but now I have seen with my own eyes that this is not true." As the Pope drove off, the harpooner asked his buddies, "what was that?" "It was the Pope," one replied. "He is in direct contact with God and has access to all of God’s wisdom." "Well" the harpooner said, "he may have access to God and his wisdom, but he doesn’t know anything about shark fishing. Is the bait holding up okay, or do we need to get another one?"

Friday, August 15, 2003


I almost don't believe the massive blackout on the east coast today. It can't happen -- I'm not there. I was in 1965 when I was 8, and I was there in 1977 when I was driving back from dropping my cousin at her boyfriend's house and it got very, very dark.

To the denizens of New York, I say mazel tov. I am glad that you managed to avoid breaking into stores and making off with televisions and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. To those of you who had to trudge home from midtown Manhattan to Bay Ridge or Pelham Bay or Flushing or (God help you) Belle Harbor... well, the deity of your choice bless you.

But let me say this about blackouts. They're good for the soul. You remember what's important about life. Things like air conditioning (which we in Seattle don't use much). Elevators (useful when your office is on the 35th floor, as was mine when I worked at NW Ayer in 1980-82). ATMs (although when I first worked there was no such thing) (yes, I'm old). Not to mention your good old-fashioned electric toothbrushes, desktop computers, cable televisions and George Foreman Electric Grills. Imagine a world with none of these things.

But mostly what I thought about today was...


I was out tonight watching my 35+ baseball team lose (my doctor says I have achilles tendonitis and shouldn't run for another month), so I asked the spouse to tape the news coverage. One young woman was being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer, and I had to replay her comments two or three times to be sure I heard her correctly.

She'd been at her dentist's office, actually in the process of having her teeth drilled, referring to working in the "time zone" of "thirty, forty years ago when there was no electricity." Granted this woman probably had a stressful day, but someone who works on a trading floor should be bright enough to know that we've had electricity in this country since Thomas Edison. And most time zones I know are about 1,000 miles wide and about an hour's time difference, not thirty years.

Then again, someone actually employed this woman, so I guess old folks aren't that bright, either.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


In a development more reminiscent of the 1962 Mets (or the 2003 Tigers), Ted Williams' head has been dropped, drilled, cracked, shaved, and worse since his death a little over a year ago.

You know, I'd like to live forever. Who wouldn't like to really reap the rewards of compound interest, or see the Boston Red Sox finally win another World Series? But Futurama aside, I find it difficult to believe that it makes sense to be frozen after death. You're dead. Live with it.

But what kind of nimwit organization is Alcor, anyway? They've dropped Ted's head! Cracking it! That's just wrong.