Archive for the ‘commentary’ category

What the Cubs Need

October 14, 2011

Hope is a bastard of an emotion.

Sure, it helps people survive life-threatening situations or gives them the will to live/fight against impossible odds and somehow come out on top. Hope lifts you up when all seems lost.

But it’s also the reason it hurts so bad to be a Cubs fan.

It’d be one thing if the Cubbies just came out every year without having made any off-season moves, or traded away all of our good
players, (a la the Pirates), or decided to stop playing people to artificially drop our gargantuan payroll, or just generally showed signs of officially throwing in the towel.

But the Cubs don’t DO that. They (against all odds) inspire hope that next year NEXT YEAR will be The Year.

Hiring Theo Epstein is a perfect freaking example of this.

Here’s the story: I pretty much gave up on the cubs this season in April. Maybe May. MAYBE. Here I am, mad at the team because of an atrocious season, ready to swear them off for the entire next season and save myself some mental and emotional anguish, and, as per usual, they do something in the off-season (when the playoffs start) that Inspires Hope. This year they go get the GM that brought the Red Sox their first world series in a good long while. They got a world series-less streak killer of a GM!

But I tell you what: I’m skeptical.

Yup, skeptical right in the face of Hope. Sure Theo did a wonderful job with the Red Sox and got them a ring (and he might just be the messiah if he does it for the Cubbies, too), but the Sox have a bigger payroll than the Cubs and completely imploded at the end of this season. The Cubs’ m.o. for years has been to pick up a big-name player and pay him more money than he deserves (I’m talking to you, Soriano). We (as fans and as a team) don’t need more of that.

What we need is to build on the (few) positives from this season. Darwin Barney is excellent. Starlan Castro is one of the brightest
young stars in the game. We FINALLY fired our god-awful, terrible, jackass of a GM. It looks like we won’t have Zombrano next year to “guarantee” a world series victory only to follow up his words with temper tantrums and mediocre pitching. This LeHair kid shows promise. Marlon Byrd can see just fine and looks to be the leader this team has been missing since we stupidly got rid of de Rosa.

What we need is our GM to be focused on getting talented YOUNG players on the team. We need to build up our farm system and promote from within rather than trying to bring in some star player (Albert Pujols or Prince Assface) to save the day. We need to re-establish the culture of winning that we had in the early 2000s when we were the perennial favorites to win the Central every year (read: invest in/ develop excellent starting pitching). We need to cultivate a closer from our own staff (We have three viable candidates in Wood, Marshall, and Marmol – they just need some help. We need our new GM to bring in a manager dedicated to his team, to developing young players, and one that doesn’t tolerate mediocrity or childish outbursts, but rewards balls-to-the-wall effort.

The Cubbies have the talent to be a decent team. What they need is the leadership to take them to the next level. Here’s hoping Theo can bring some magic back to the Cubs. Lord knows we can’t get any worse.

Go Cubbies!

NY,NY

Little Things … or How I Got Turned On and Intimidated by Language

January 7, 2011

Life. In Transit.

I recently started reading a new book. It’s excellent. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, it’s called. You should read it.

Although I used to work in publishing and probably should, I won’t delve into what the book is about. I will say this: it’s philosophical and inspiring and superb and and and and the mastery of language and beauty of writing displayed throughout… breathtaking. It stirred up my loins a bit, her writing, and intimidated the hell out of me – no way could I ever master the written word like that.  Seriously, it has caused me to lose all ability to write and, even, to speak coherently, it seems. I now criticize even my thoughts for their lack of elegance.

image courtesy Columbia Pictures

Anyway, I had just finished a passage about how grammar is necessary because it allows one to deconstruct language into its bare parts, see it naked, as it were, and revel in the beauty of a well-crafted sentence (sounds odd or boring. it’s not.), when I arrived at my subway stop and had to stop (ha!) reading. My ipod was playing a dark and introspective Tom Waits song (aren’t they all?) and I couldn’t help but take note of his lyrics and turns of phrase. I appreciated the timing, for the song matched my mood and seemed to be the musical equivalent of a good piece of literature.

The song ended, leaving me feeling all wordsy and smart, when what should my ipod play me next? Rhianna’s Please Don’t Stop the Music. And I laughed, out loud, right there on the street, likely startling small children and little old ladies with my hysterics. Seriously, folks. Rhianna just came to party. But now they’re on the dance floor, acting naughty. Yay rhyming.

Ah, language. Gotta love it.

NY,NY

Four Resolutions You Won’t Keep

December 28, 2010

It’s getting to be that time of year, again. You know, the end of the year. And also the beginning of the year. We’re at the precipice of the dawn of a new year! and all that other crap.

Now, I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but I know that some of you do. And you make lists of them. Lists. So I went ahead and Googled some common resolutions, so I could add my insight. Here’s my list of the top resolutions you won’t keep, and my solution to your problem.

1) Lose Ten Pounds
Why you won’t keep it:
It’s HARD to lose ten pounds! And even harder to keep the ten pounds OFF for an entire year. Ugh. An you have to exercise and eat less? Fuck that.
Paul’s Solution: GAIN ten pounds. Because you know what’s super easy? Putting ON weight. And food is delicious. And NOT exercising is pretty damn relaxing. Sure, it’s maybe not the sexiest resolution, but I bet it makes you feel pretty damn awesome doing it.

2) Start A New Hobby
Why you won’t keep it:
Ugh. BORING! Unless this new hobby is something kick ass like “learn to turn normal everyday items, like a chainsaw, into a weapon for the coming zombie apocolypse,” starting a new hobby – like, say, knitting – sounds pretty lame. And routines are hard to break, so fitting a new hobby into your life could be really time consuming.
Paul’s Solution: Quit an old hobby. Like knitting. Nobody actually likes people who knit, we just like it when you give us free scarves or hats, even though they’re too loosely knit to actually serve any kind of useful function. Knitters think they’re better than other people, but, really, they’re taking perfectly good zombie-fighting weapons and completely mis-appropriating them to make useless crap with yarn.

3) Drink Less / Quit Drinking Entirely
Why you won’t keep it:
Because drinking is awesome. You feel great (at least until morning), it tastes good, it brings people together, it might help you get laid, it’s fun, it helps you forget all that debt you accumulated going to an over-priced school … I could go on, but, really, what’s the point. Don’t quit drinking. Unless you lost your job because of it. Or something else equally serious. Then you should probably quit drinking.
Paul’s Solution: Drink more water before you go to sleep after a night of drinking. Hydration fights the hangover, and hangovers are at least one of the reasons you want to stop anyway (I can’t help you stop the stupid shit you do/say when you’re hammered. Quick potential solution: buy a helmet to keep safe and duct tape to cover your mouth). Eliminate the hangover, eliminate the problem. So drink up!

4) Help Others
Why you won’t keep it:
Fuck “others.” How’s about they help ME? I’m stretched pretty thin, what with paying bills, student loans (hence the drinking, see above), and other miscellaneous shit that costs money, and I could totally use some extra cash, but I don’t see people lining up to give me charity. We might be coming out of a recession, but I sure as hell don’t feel better about my personal financial state of affairs. The only reason I’m going to a soup kitchen is for the free dinner.
Paul’s Solution: Grow a mustache for charity and get other people to help others in your name. Boom. Done. Check it out: http://mustachesforkids.org/

So, there you have it, potential “new year, new you”s. Good luck with all that betterment. I’m going to go sit on the couch, crack open a beer, throw away some yarn, and not shave. Bring on 2011!

NY,NY

Purse, Satchel, Carry-all- I want one

December 9, 2010

It's European.

Why can’t dudes use purses?

I mean, I have a messenger bag in which I carry my computer, some papers, and little book that I take notes in it, but because it is large enough to hold a computer, I usually don’t get crap about it. However, if I were to get a smaller version of the same thing, upgrade from a laptop to an iPad, and carry that around, apparently I become a dandy.

Back in the day- the medieval day, mind you- men would carry satchels around with all of their stuff in it- “satchels” that if they were on the clearance rack at Filene’s Basement would garner serious attention from the most the “fairer sex” and from the “fairer sex” only. Why is that?

My pockets can only hold so much! I have important business papers (or something) to carry, and I don’t want a briefcase- I want to have my hands free so that I might encounter whatever life throws at me. Nobody ever called Indiana Jones a fairy. Indiana Jones carries a purse. Indiana Jones also single handedly defeated the Nazis. Therefore it follows that purse-wearing destroys fascism. We could all hope to live in a world free of fascism- where men are free to wear purses without reprisal. I dream of such a world. Won’t you join me?

-Springfield, IL

 

What's he's wearing over his shoulder? Just the saving grace of free people everywhere.

Stranger Excellence

November 15, 2010

Life. In Transit.

Last Friday started out like most Fridays: Force myself out of bed to make it out the door before 6:40 to catch the train and head to work.

I was actually in a fairly foul mood, despite it being Friday. I had to work quite late pretty much all week on a series of projects and really just did not want to get out of bed and commute for an hour and a half. You know how it is.

Anyway. I was walking from the subway to the commuter rail, and just as I was about to cross the street, an older woman walking towards me makes eye contact, stops, grabs my arm and, with an ear to ear grin, enthusiastically says, “Happy Friday!” She then patted my arm and continued on her way.

I was totally taken off guard at first because of the randomness of a stranger touching me at 7:08 on the sidewalk in Harlem, but once she smiled and said “Happy Friday,” my bad mood lifted, the skies parted and I wanted to run back and tell her THANKS! for making my Friday 100% better.

But I thought better of it. She looked a bit crazy and there’s a chance she was homeless. Either way, this was the exact opposite of stranger danger. It was stranger excellence!

I now look for her often during my morning commute, but haven’t seen her since. She probably would have been helpful that morning when we didn’t have hot water…

Happy Today!
NY,NY

It Kills Me to Say It…

August 27, 2010

… but Wrigley Field has to go.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a devout Cubs fan. I love my Cubbies, even though I currently hate them.

And I love Wrigley Field – it has history, it’s gorgeous, it feels like home … it’s the Friendly Confines. But it’s killing the team, and here’s why.

The new ownership has no motivation to spend money and get the team winning. Wrigley sells out every game (even if there are currently empty seats, those seats were bought and paid for) and brings in truckloads of money to the owners. The Cubs are one of the worst teams in baseball and have one of the highest payrolls. A smart owner would see a devout fan-base, trade away the big contracts and re-build, investing in the team with the ultimate goal of becoming World Series Champions.

Instead, the owners poured money into Wrigley, making it a more fan-friendly place. Wrigley was ALREADY a glorified bar. A friend of mine once told me that Wrigley is the only stadium in baseball where you could turn every seat away from the field and still sell out games. At first I thought it was ridiculous, but the more I see Cubs “fans” away from Chicago, the more I think he’s right. People go to Wrigley for the stadium, not so much for the team.

And maybe a new stadium is what we need to really kickstart the team. It worked for the Yankees and the Cardinals (new stadiums brought them rings in their inaugural seasons), maybe it’ll work for us, too. Hell, maybe just threatening to tear down Wrigley and rebuild will light a fire under the organization’s ass because fans would riot.

All I know is this: the Cubs gave up on their season right around the same time I did: May. It’s been a painful year to watch, even more painful to think that the owner didn’t fire Jim Hendry, the worst GM in baseball, and I’m tired of a “fans” going to Wrigley to get wasted with their friends and ignore the game.

It’s time for a major change with the Cubs. I thought the new owners would do it, but so far they just seemed concerned with ticket sales.

<shrugs>
NY,NY

Life, In Transit

July 12, 2010

It’s been an incredibly long time since we here at The Very Important Things have posted anything, and for that I apologize. It’s been busy and, unfortunately, TVIP has been the victim of my lack of free time.

One of the reasons for this newfound timelessness is my landing of a new job. With an hour and a half commute (I know what you’re thinking: there’s your free time right there, paul! – and you’d be right. So writing shall recommence.).

I’m also going to add a new repeating theme/section: Life, In Transit. LiT will document some random thoughts, sights, sounds, ramblings, events, etc  from my life, in transit.

Here’s the first go.

Life, In Transit.

Today, on the final leg of my end-of-the-day commute, as I trekked up the subway stairs at 96th street, I saw a man, presumably homeless, asleep on the stairs. His sole  possession, aside from the clothes on his back, was a sword – a katana, really – in a sheath, in a garbage bag.

No part of that was hyperbolic in the telling.

A homeless man, asleep on the stairs, with a sword in a garbage bag.

Several things came to mind when I saw this:
1) What the hell is a homeless guy doing with a sword??
2) I bet no other homeless people mess with this guy.
3) I kind of want to steal his sword.
4) That’s a REALLY stupid idea. That could go REALLY wrong.
5) I wonder if he’s a homeless ninja…
6) A homeless ninja would be a really awesome recurring character in a book/story/tv show/blog…
7) Bob, The Homeless Ninja. Harry, The Homeless Ninja. Brian, The Homeless Ninja…
8 ) Crimefighting homeless ninja?
9) Nah, just ass-kicking homeless ninja, maybe a little down on his luck
10) This recession has been especially hard on freelance ass kickory.
11) I wonder if ninjas have a union…
12) ad nauseum

I guess my point here is this: Beware sword-wielding homeless men.

NY,NY