Showing posts from March, 2011

The book of this blog is now available from this blog!

Hi everyone.

I wrote a book, which is a collection of material, some from this very blog -- but better and newer! -- plus a lot of unreleased stuff. I think that, maybe, you should buy it. Here. Because that would be awesome. For me. But also you! I hope.

Much more to come on this endeavor, to the point that you will be sick about it and will buy the book just to shut me up.

Oh, also -- thank you to every single person who reads this blog. I truly, honestly, sincerely appreciate it.



Classic card of the week

Charles Johnson, 1996 Fleer METAL UNIVERSE series

The way I figure it, one of three things is going on here with this card.

a) The umpire on this particular day is a huge, horned, cartoon beast, who is either coming on to Charles Johnson, or teaching him a new catching technique that involves claws.

b) A huge, horned, cartoon beast has, unbeknownst to Charles Johnson, eaten the umpire, in which case—watch out Charles Johnson!

c) This card is stupid.

This is part of Fleer’s extremely popular-with-the-kids and very sensical “METAL UNIVERSE” series, because who wants to live in a universe without metal? Not me, that’s for sure. Also, metal and baseball go hand-in-hand like Pittsburgh and fashion. And, when one thinks of metal, the first thing this hypothetical person thinks about, besides metal, is a huge, horned, cartoon beast-like creature. Then, his mind travels to these guys!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “I can read about Charles Johnson on Mike’s other blog that he writes for that I…

Hear ye, hear ye—Ear tubes are normal, will make your child more popular*

Note: This column appears in the 3/31 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/1 issue of the Peoria Times

Things that seem crazy and that I knew nothing about are pretty standard in parenthood.

One of those things: tubes in kids’ ears. Around our daughter’s 17th ear infection, my wife lamented that it may be time to have tubes inserted into her ears. I was like, “Ha, ha … good one. Tubes.” And she was like, “No, seriously.”

She explained to me that tubes are frequently inserted into some children's ears as a means of preventing the frequency of ear infections. I immediately pictured our daughter walking around the house with straw-like tubes projecting out of the side of her head—sort of like the knobs in Frankenstein’s ears—which would leak ear fluid all over the carpet. This did not seem normal to me.

I later came to learn that the tubes border on microscopic, and that their insertion requires a very minor surgery. I began to ask other parents if they had ever heard of such a thing, an…

Classic card of the week

Derek Bell, 1996 Upper Deck "Strange But True" series

This is the third time we have approached the subject of Derek Bell around these here, and other, parts. What can I say? Operation Shutdown is an operation that is near and dear to my heart. And as if Operation Shutdown were not strange but true enough, there seems to be even more strange but true aspects of Derek Bell’s game, and his refusal to play it well and/or at all:

The title of this strange but true episode is, “To Catch a Thief.” Interesting to note that, according to Wikipedia and following Operation Shutdown, “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette” sports columnist Mark Madden summarized the incident with "Derek Bell becomes the ultimate Pirate: Lives on a boat and steals money." No other information on the Wiki page alludes to Bell living on a boat, but if he was indeed doing just that, then that is like, the best headline ever. Unrelated to accusations of stealing, Bell was eventually caught for drug possession. My…

Arizona: Armed, dangerous, and senseless

Note: This column appears in the 3/24 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/25 issue of the Peoria Times

You know what Arizona needs? More guns.

But it’s not just more guns quantity-wise. I mean, sure—if I have one gun, I should definitely get two guns, because that is more protection and will make me a better American by further exercising my right to have guns. More than that though, I need to be able to bring my guns everywhere, all the time, because the fact is, you never know when you’re going to need your gun(s). Yesterday, for example, a bird was chirping in the park. What was I going to do—shoo it away? C’mon.

Luckily for me, an Arizona citizen, Senate Bill 1201 will not only relegate a city’s ability to ban firearms to only buildings with secured entrances, but it will also give me, local gun-wielder, the ability to sue should anyone try to stop me from exercising my right to bring my gun into a non-secured government facility or event. And if there’s anything this state and coun…

Classic card of the week

Willie Banks, 1991 Fleer Ultra Prospects series

I would like to say first and foremost that if I could go back to a time before I was born, I would change my name to Willie Banks. Not that I’d change families—I’d just change the family name by convincing my ancient ancestor, O’Reilly O’Kenny, to change his surname to Banks. I would do this by getting him really drunk, obviously. Then I would convince my dad to name me “Willie,” also by getting him drunk. What stereotype? Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Speaking of Willie Banks, please don’t for a second get this Willie Banks confused with the gospel singer famous for hits like, “Lord You Been Good”—sayeth the Lord, “It’s ‘Lord, You Have Been Good.’ C’mon, Willie”—or the other American athlete, who Wikipedia describes as an “American athlete" and “the originator of the now common hand clapping that takes place during many track and field events.” So, if you ever get that Trivial Pursuit question about who invented hand-clapping, you ha…

Full moon, allergies contribute to loss of focus, sanity

Note: This column appears in the 3/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/18 issue of the Peoria Times

You know how things tend to happen all at once, and you reach a point where you either break down completely or blindly plow through all newfound dilemmas with purpose? Well, I did both.

Not helping this unexpected influx of oddness was the general state of funk I found myself in over the past few weeks. Between work, family, outside projects, appointments, commitments, or whatever, I was suddenly zoned out, proceeding through life in a zombiesque state. Also, all of a sudden I have allergies. I haven’t been able to breathe for three weeks, and whenever I blow my nose I almost pass out.

It probably began when my wife came home one day and informed me her car was hit while it was parked on the street. No big deal, but still something to take care of. Thing is, nothing ever seems to proceed smoothly for us, and this led to a series of calls to various insurance companies—always a pleasan…

Classic card of the week

Denny Neagle, 1991 Fleer Ultra Prospects series

Hi, Denny Neagle! Smell your armpits? Sure! I’ll do anything to get close to a classic, young fireballer.

Denny is not the classic, young fireballer.

The classic, young fireballer is a British man in his mid-twenties who pitches for the Englishtown Blokes and wears a monocle. Or, this guy. Denny Neagle—you continue to go against the grain, you 6’4,” 200 lb Caucasian pitcher who grew up in a Maryland suburb and played baseball your whole life!

He is no bonus baby.

Darn tootin’! That’s probably because the bonus baby rule was abolished in 1965. But still. Denny Neagle didn’t even earn a salary. He pitched for pride. And money, most of which he distributed to the poor and other big honkies facing similar obstacles coming up through the system.

He has advance {sic} quickly through the Twins organization for one reason.

His dad is Jeremiah Neagle, owner of Neagle’s Cadillac in Minneapolis and major shareholder of the Minnesota Twins?

He can plain pi…

The gift of soon-to-be outdated technology can be free, sort of

Note: This column appears in the 3/10 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/11 issue of the Peoria Times

My brother-in-law, God bless him, gave my wife an iPad. I was actually going to buy her one for her birthday, and was about to approach her with the awkward question of, “Can you help me pay for it?” when we got the news. I was very relieved at being off the hook, and am hoping a $25 iPad accessory will knock her socks off just the same.

My brother-in-law was able to give his sister the best new tech device on the market because he won an iPad at work. My brother-in-law has the type of job where you can win an iPad at work. I bring a sandwich to work every day, so I can’t say I felt too bad, although the gesture remains amazingly kind. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want one for himself, but he a) recognized that she could utilize it more for professional purposes, and b) he preferred to get the latest version when it arrives at a later date—that date being Friday when the iPad 2 arrives.

Classic card of the week

Ugueth Urbina, 1995 Pinnacle

Who here is a trivia buff? Nobody? C’mooooon! None of you like to answer random questions that have no true substance without context but make you feel smart? No? You guys are crazy.

For me, there are three levels of trivia bufftitude, and they are as follows, ranked from easiest to most difficult:

1) Trivial Pursuit. I love this game. The answer to every historical-based question is either Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill, and other than that every question involves Madonna or Michael Jordan. On the DVD “all play” from our game, one of the questions is, “This ‘showtime’ team plays not in a city of lakes, but in a city of angels,” and the first clue is “Magic J" (says Superintendent Chalmers, "No, no, that's too obvious. Try 'M. Johnson'). Also, the icon for one of the categories is a pair of pink high-heeled shoes. This game actually rewards the people who know the most about absolutely nothing, which is why I have been known to do …

The dying beep of a life-saving device

Note: This column appears in the 3/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/4 issue of the Peoria Times

Not long ago my wife called me from a friend’s house to help walk them through a pseudo-emergency. Our friend’s smoke alarm was losing battery power and was beeping intermittently, yet incessantly.

I received the call not because I am a manly man, or because I am adept at diffusing such devices. Quite the opposite with regards to both, actually. I do, however, have major experience with beeping alarms of all varieties. Nevermind that my solutions to these beeping problems have been, for the most part, temporary and/or wrong. I mean, they had to call someone.

My experience with beeping smoke alarms began when we still lived back east. Apparently, these devices lose battery power during extreme weather, so whenever the temperature outside dipped below a certain point and our heating system couldn’t keep up, the intermittent beeps would start. This always—always—happened around 3 a.m., an…