Monday, October 26, 2009

Congratulations, Yankees!

Congratulations to the New York Yankees for winning its 40th American League Pennant on its quest for an unprecedented 27th World Series championship. This is a great matchup with the defending champs, Philadelphia Phillies. In fact, this may be the best World Series matchup since 1999 when the Yanks faced the Atlanta Braves.

On a sidenote, my niece asked me the other day what was the Phillies’ nickname and I was like, “huh?” Then it dawned on me. The name Philadelphia Phillies is like being called the New York Big Apples. Anyway, I really like this Phillies team with the addition of former Cleveland Indians’ ace Cliff Lee (who replaced the former former Cleveland ace CC Sabathia who is now the Yankees’ ace). The Indians fans must be kicking themselves right now.

Also, another baseball oddity: When the Yankees opened up the original Yankee Stadium in 1923 they won the World Series (defeating the defending champs New York Giants), in 1976 when they opened the renovated Yankee Stadium they went to the World Series (and lost to the defending champs Cincinnati Reds), and now with the new Yankee Stadium the Yanks return to the World Series and face another defending champ. Amazing. Let’s hope this 1923 all over again and not 1976.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Same ‘Ol, Same ‘Ol

This is certainly a time for excitement for me as the Yankees are one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2003. The Yanks were one win away in 2004, but a monumental collapse against the hated Red Sox was on the horizon. This one feels different. Yet, I’m not blogging about my favorite baseball team. This one is about my beloved New York Jets.

The Jets suffered an infuriating loss against the lowly Buffalo Bills this past Sunday. There is the dreaded notion of the “Same Old Jets” or SOJ, that is, that this team has experienced excruciating losses and disappointments over the last 40 years since Broadway Joe Namath made his deal with the devil to win Super Bowl III. Of course, a loss that happens 20 years ago or even last year has no bearing on what happens now. Yet there are fans that invoke SOJ at every unfortunate loss as if the past has a bearing on the present. These are doom-and-gloom Jet fans. The world is crumbling at every loss. A classic example is WFAN’s Joe Benigno, who got his radio job after being a longtime caller on the station’s midnight show. On his 10 a.m. morning show, Benigno said, “I’ve seen these kind of game for 40 years, this kind of garbage!”

Dan Leberfeld of JetsConfidential recently asked Jets head coach Rex Ryan whether Benigno’s SOJ rants “poisons” the minds of his listeners. Ryan responded, “We’ve got to do something to get that changed. I don't believe it, the ‘Same old Jets.’ My ‘Same old Jets’ would be my dad, who won the Super Bowl. I’ll sign up for that. If you want to go back to karma, let’s go for that.”

The thing is New York Daily News’ Jets beat writer Rich Cimini wrote a scathing criticism of Leberfeld for asking the question. In fact, Cimini calls criticism of SOJ as the “same old whining.” Yet Cimini is the last person who should lecture anyone on responsible journalism. For instance, last year CNNSI’s Peter King wrote an article where he presented a hypothetical quote by New England Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick saying that he would not have Jets star safety Kerry Rhodes on his team. Cimini, in his classic lazy reporting style, went straight to Kerry Rhodes and presented this made-up Belichick quote as if it was something the coach actually said. Of course, there was a negative reaction by Rhodes to this obvious diss.

Moreover, Cimini is the quickest to invoke SOJ, even titling his post game blog entry “Same old Jets ... only worse.” The reason why the term persists is because of fools like Benigno and Cimini insist that it is relevant. Of course there are fans that invoke it. Heck, just scan the Jet fan message boards and after a 3-3 record there are fans calling rookie Mark Sanchez a bust (after his first 6 games of his NFL career) and Rex Ryan a bad coach doomed to failure. These are known as SOJF, that is “Same Old Jet Fans.” Benigno had a good description of the loss, but the term is more appropriate to describe his and Cimini’s mindset in covering the team: garbage.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More for the Halloween Season

Well, I finished The Amityville Horror quicker than I thought, which left me without something scary to read for the rest of the Halloween Season. I went to the local B&N on Fifth Avenue and picked up Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, which is the first entry in The Southern Vampire Mysteries.

As most people know, Dead Until Dark is the basis for the first season of HBO’s True Blood. I’ve never watched the show (which is now in its second season), but my wife is an avid follower. I decided, what the heck, let me check out the book first and then see if I can catch up and see the first season on demand or DVD.

I’m not much of a vampire guy. My favorite creatures of the night are werewolves. I was drawn to the fact that werewolves are vampires’ foils, how they can’t be controlled by the seductive powers of the undead. I prefer the savage over the suave.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vampire book or movie, but I prefer a good werewolf book or movie instead. Unfortunately there have not been too many. My favorite werewolf book is Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause and my favorite werewolf movie (besides the original Wolf Man) is The Howling. I’m a big metamorphosis fan, so that movie blew me away as did An American Werewolf in London, although I was disappointed that they never showed the full werewolf. I’m very excited about the Wolf Man remake (titled The Wolfman) staring Anthony Hopkins and Benicio del Toro which is coming out next February. Hopefully, this is the quintessential werewolf movie us fans have been waiting for.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is There Really Any Other Option?

According to today’s New York Times article:

Eight years to the day after the start of the war in Afghanistan, the White House and Congress were agonizing on Wednesday about what to do next in that isolated, mountainous country that has been called “the graveyard of empires.”
It was previously reported that the Afghanistan crisis has caused a rift between the uniformed military and President Obama’s civilian national security team, with the military adviosors advocating for an increase in troops to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban with the civilians calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces and a narrowly defined counterterrorism effort in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan against al Qaeda, which entails leaving the Taliban be. The administration has denied that the President is considering the latter and the he himself told Congressional leaders that he would not substantially reduce U.S. forces or shift the mission to just hunting for al Qaeda. Nevertheless, the New York Times now reports that the President's national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban do not pose a direct threat to the U.S.

We can take the administration’s denial at face value, but as I had blogged about in March the administration had been considering negotiating with the Taliban. Also, the latest report contradicts the denial. Regardless, notion of negotiating with the Taliban or letting them be was absurd then as it is now. The Taliban is a genocidal regime that terrorized ethnic minorities and women and is still waging a war on its own people. They provided a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and will continue to be an ally if allowed to remain.

You cannot make peace with the Devil. For the sake of the people in the region—especially women—and around the world, the only option is the eradication of al Qaeda and their sinister allies, the Taliban.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Halloween Season

The 1st of October is the unofficial beginning of the Halloween Season. Actually, there is no “Halloween Season,” so the unofficial beginning may be the official one. Regardless, this is when we see stores displaying all their Halloween stuff. For me, I’ve marked the start of the season by reading a “scary” book.

In years past I’ve read at this time, amongst others, classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I’ve read modern horror classics like The Exorcist, Ghost Story, Salem’s Lot, and I Am Legend. I’ve also read some Clive Barker books since most his books are fitting for the Halloween Season.

This year I’m reading The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. For those who don’t know, according to the book jacket:

In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in the house, but the property—complete with boathouse and swimming pool—and the price had been too good to pass up. Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror.
The Amityville house is about a half hour drive from my own home. Yes, it’s still there. It’s been renovated and the infamous quarter-round windows have been replaced with conventional rectangular ones. Much of the controversy surrounding the book and subsequent film is because the story has been marketed as true. There’s a lot of contradictory information out there comparing events depicted in the book compared to the history record which is described in the Wiki article.

Is it real or not? I have no idea. As a kid, though, the story scared the heck out of me and anytime I saw the coming attractions for the 1979 film I had to switch the channel. Whenever I saw a house with those infamous windows I’d freak. It didn’t help that both my parents were superstitious so I always thought it was real. But know it doesn’t matter. The novel is an entertaining—although melodramatic—read.