Super?

Yes, I watched the Super Bowl. Sorry, Jackie.

I could try to spin it, I suppose. An ecumenical gesture toward those who follow the Faith of the Oblong Ball, perhaps. But the truth is simpler and arguably less worthy. I wanted to see the Patriots lose.

Sure, I had some secondary motivations: wanting to see the commercials and the half-time show in context–important for proper snarkage–foremost. But the bottom line is that the Patriots exemplify all that’s wrong with sports teams setting themselves up as “America’s Team”. Like the Dallas Cowboys, LA Lakers, and Atlanta Braves* of yore, and the Yankees of, well, any day, they exhibit an arrogance and an attitude of entitlement that cries out for humbling.

* Ted Turner has much to answer for.

So it’s easy to root against the Patriots. It was harder to root for the Eagles, since–as Maggie reminded me–they’re the ones who brought Michael Vick back into football. But since they were the only team who had a chance to beat the Patriots on Sunday, we used the proverbial long spoon.

And I took notes, because that’s what writers do. Herewith, my thoughts on Super Bowl LII.

MassMutual served notice even before the kickoff that this was not last year’s television spectacle of Fox-sponsored odes to Amurrica. Can’t argue with the moral of the ad–don’t count on the government to help you through a disaster–but it would have been a stronger message if they’d mentioned Puerto Rico.

As expected, the camera angles during “The Star-Spangled Banner” made it impossible to tell whether anyone was kneeling or sitting. NBC’s not going to risk those glorious advertising dollars over three minutes of air time.

Apparently Sprint is fully prepared for the imminent robot rebellion, and is ready to placate our new robotic overlords from Day One.

Seriously, Turkish Air? If they think Dr. Oz is qualified to talk about the wonders of the human body, I’d hate to learn what they think qualifies someone to fly an airplane. Gonna put them on my “never patronize this company” list.

Bud Light’s sales were down 5.7% this past year. If their ads are any indication, those idiotic “Dilly Dilly” spots are the only thing keeping them in business. Hooray for living down to your smallest potential.

On the brighter side, NBC’s frequent promos for the Winter Olympics were considerably less annoying than Fox’s similar binge on behalf of the Daytona 500. Maybe because the Olympics aren’t a sport that glorifies unsafe driving and promotes climate change?

I’ll admit to enjoying the dual and dueling Doritos/Mountain Dew ad combination. I don’t like Mountain Dew, but the commercial didn’t drive me to forswear Doritos.

On the other hand, Diet Coke’s promotion of the desirability of uncontrollable, unstoppable dancing left me cold. Can I really be the only person in the world who still remembers Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes“? Is a swig of mango-flavored Diet Coke worth pedal amputation and eternal damnation?

NBC hurried to assure everyone that no game action or commercials were lost to that eighteen second blackout. But they’ve been disturbingly silent on whether any jobs were lost.

I won’t bother with my screed about Dodge using MLK’s words to sell Ram trucks. Plenty of others have said more than enough. I’ll just put them on my list, right after Turkish Air.

Regrettably, Janet Jackson did not parachute into the stadium and rip Justin Timberlake’s pants off mid-song. But even in her absence, you have to know that NBC and the NFL paid close attention to the choreography of JT’s show. So now we know that both institutions believe it’s perfectly fine to hump a dancer’s leg on international television, as long as her breasts are covered.

And maybe it was just an effect of the television broadcast, but the much ballyhooed and equally derided “holographic performance” by Prince came off as a bare half-step up from projecting a movie on a bed sheet. And really, JT, choosing “I Would Die 4 U” was a damn tacky move.

Of course the blatant attempt to promote “Super Bowl Selfies” as a hashtag was mildly nauseating, if completely predictable.

All in all, I score it the most soporific halftime show since at least 2000, when we had Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton lulling us to sleep.

I got a chuckle out of the self-referential commercial for The Voice. But then, I’m an easy mark for self-deprecating, self-referential jokes.

Budweiser partially redeemed themselves for the stupid “Dilly Dilly” nonsense with their “Water” commercial, which did mention Puerto Rico.

My two favorite commercials of the day ran in succession. My Number One was the Jack In the Box / Martha Stewart spot. Juvenile throughout, but with a nice twist on the old “Got Your Nose” bit. And then, Number Two, the payoff to the sequence of apparently pointless Peyton Manning spots, recreating Dirty Dancing as a touchdown celebration. Stupid and pointless–perfect for the message that the NFL isn’t going away.

We’re putting Tide on the list, too. Not that their ads were bad. The concept was mildly amusing the first time. But by the end of the game, they’d completely run it into the ground and arrived at “thoroughly annoying”.

Unrelated to the actual game or the commercials: We discovered that Dish doesn’t think anyone has a four hour attention span. With about ten minutes left in the game, right on the four hour mark from when I turned on the TV, they popped up a message box that said (I’m paraphrasing here, because I didn’t get a picture) “It looks like nobody’s watching TV right now. If you don’t click ‘Continue’ within 20 seconds, we’ll shut the receiver off.” Uh, guys, you’re going to be sending the satellite signal whether the receiver is on or off, so why do you care if I’m watching? If I want to waste electricity by leaving the TV on all day, let me!

And, finally, my prize for “Worst Commercial of Super Bowl LII”.

No, it’s not Tide, Bud Light, or even Turkish Air.

Not only did this company completely ignore the well-documented complaints about their business model, but they’re actually promoting class violence. Congratulation, Groupon, come up and claim your trophy.

Or am I the only one who heard the message “He didn’t use Groupon, so we sent a couple of thugs to kick his rich, white ass”?

Seriously, there’s a right way to do things, and in this case, TV commercials aren’t it. If we’re going to have a revolution of the proletariat and forcibly redistribute the wealth, can we please do it as a spontaneous popular uprising, rather than because a coupon service wants to improve their bottom line?

Signs of Progress

Multiple sources are reporting that the Cleveland Indians are parting ways with Chief Wahoo. Well, mostly. Effective with the 2019 season, the logo–which USA Today describes rather redundantly as “racist and offensive*”–will be removed from the teams’ uniforms and from all their online sales venues.

* Do you suppose Bob Nightengale, the article’s author, can name anything racist that isn’t offensive?

Some team merchandise featuring Chief Wahoo will still be available at the park and nearby, a move described as necessary to prevent third-parties from taking over the trademark and image and marketing it more widely.

Needless to say, the agreement is widely hated. A substantial segment of Cleveland’s fanbase is up in arms over the loss of their treasured tradition, while opponents of the logo are upset that the ban is neither immediate nor total.

To both groups, I say, “Tough. Live with it.”

There’s nothing stopping pro-logo fans from making asses of themselves by continuing to show up in red face paint and historically-inaccurate headdresses. (Though, come to think of it, I’d love to see how the team would handle a complaint under Progressive Field’s code of conduct, which bans “inappropriate dress” and states that “Inappropriate or offensive images or words must be covered or removed from the ballpark”.)

On the other side, well, we live in an imperfect world. And, while it often seems as if it’s becoming less perfect all the time, this is a step in the right direction. I’d like to see the changes happen faster, but I’m happy to see them happen at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if the logos start disappearing from the uniforms this year. If a couple of pitchers requested it as part of their choice of uniforms, management might decide to cash in on the public relations benefits of eliminating it earlier.

Until racism is completely eliminated, the logo won’t be going away. Look how well we’ve done at eliminating swastikas in the last sixty years.

There’s also the question of the team name. I could be wrong, but I don’t see a name change coming any time soon. If nothing else, the cost would be immense, and I suspect it would take a massive boycott of the ballpark, the TV and radio broadcasts, and anyone who advertises with the team to encourage ownership to make that huge investment.

So this is a baby step. But baby steps are still steps. Let’s celebrate the fact that the baby is walking, rather than than stressing because the baby isn’t going to be skiing in next month’s Olympics.

Latest Trends

Note: this post was written Monday evening. It’s likely that some of the data will have changed by the time you read it.

I see Google is reporting a lot of interest in the forthcoming Hall & Oates tour. I mention this not because I’m particularly interested in the duo–I’m not, beyond taking the opportunity to point out their take on “Family Man” falls into the category of cover versions that have become definitive, despite being far less interesting than Mike Oldfield’s original.

But this is the first time I’ve dug into the details on Google’s latest version of their “Trends” page.

The “Interest over time” chart is fun–though a longer baseline would be nice–but the chart I found most intriguing is “Interest by subregion”. In this case, you can read “subregion” as being equivalent to “state”; I presume this is done to make the chart more flexible for use in other countries.

It’s not particularly surprising that most of the interest in Hall and Oates is in Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas. They’ve always been big in the middle of the country. I was surprised to see Louisiana coming in at Number Four. Maybe some influence floating down the Mississippi River?

But the fun part was looking at the states with no apparent interest in them at all: aside from Alaska, which often goes its own way, we’ve got Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming: a tight cluster of states immediately to the north of the center of Hall and Oates’ support. What’s happening there?

I’d say something about not giving the obvious answer (“Nothing”), but that might actually be the correct answer. Consider the interest from another item on Google’s list.

Searches for “Asteroid, Earth” are hot, probably because right-wing news sites are spreading FUD about the government shutdown putting Earth at risk for an asteroid strike.

Leaving aside the stupidity of the claim*, I found the geographical breakdown of interest fascinating. The most interest is in Alaska–remember what I said about them doing their own thing? But the next most interest is in North Dakota. At the other end of the spectrum, we’ve got Hawaii (which is justifiably more concerned about missiles than asteroids right now), Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

* First, the risk of an asteroid hitting Earth is no higher whether we’re watching or not. Second, it’s not entirely clear to me whether the shutdown has any significant effect on the Asteroid Watch program–it’s a distributed program with participation by astronomers, both professional and amateur, from around the world. And third, even if we know an asteroid is coming, there’s very little we can do about it at this point. The technology to intercept and redirect or destroy an asteroid isn’t there yet.

Yeah, three of the four central states that have no interest in Hall and Oates are also the only central states that have no interest in their chances of being wiped off the map by an asteroid. (Insert your own joke about being wiped off the map by Hall and Oates here.)

I can only come up with two possible interpretations: either the inhabitants of those states aren’t interested in anything or they’ve already been wiped out by zombies.

Note that those states show no interest in Netflix or the Supreme Court. But Montana and North Dakota are right near the top of the list when it comes to the Megyn Kelly/Jane Fonda contretemps.

I rest my case–and suggest you update your zombie vaccinations before you visit Montana.

Batter Up

We’re about a month away from the beginning of Spring Training–pitchers and catchers report around February 15, depending on their team, and position players come in the following week–so it’s probably time for me to toss out a few thoughts on the upcoming season. Consider it my way of getting into shape before uncredentialed bloggers report.

I’ve seen several reports lately that MLB is planning to unilaterally institute a pitch clock in the majors this year.

Mark me down as neutral on that idea. I’ve seen several minor league games using it, and it really doesn’t get in the way. I’m not sure it speeds games up enough to matter, but I don’t think it hurts the quality of play enough to matter either.

There are already rules in place to limit how long the batter can delay between pitches. They were enforced when they were first introduced–2015, if memory serves–and they did make a noticeable, if minor, difference.

As long as those rules are enforced along with the pitcher’s clock, so defense and offense are subject to the same strictures, I’m willing to take the clock as a given and see how it works out on the field.

Moving on.

Another issue I’ve seen raised multiple times lately is the imbalance between what players are paid and what owners make. For example, Nathaniel Grow, points out that player payroll fell from 56% of league revenue in 2002 to 38% in 2015.

Naturally the players would like more. Hell, I’d like publishers to pay authors more. You probably want a raise too.

But let’s keep a couple of things in mind here. First, Nathan himself notes that 2002 was a record high for salaries as a percent of league revenue. That means the decline puts the current level in line with historic levels. And second, 38% just isn’t that low a number. Over at bizfluent, Elaine Severs states that “Most businesses should shoot for salaries in the 30 percent to 38 percent range…”.

Put another way, how many corporations are there where the CEO doesn’t make several hundred times as much as the average employee?

I’m not suggesting that income inequity is fair, nor do I think the owners couldn’t afford to give players more. It just strikes me as odd that there are so many complaints about the inequity in baseball, when the numbers are right in line with the rest of American business.

Granted, MLB is an unusual case–its anti-monopoly exemption guarantees it–but still.

The usual counter to ravings like mine is something along the lines of “Baseball could exist without the players, so they should get the bulk of the money.”

A doesn’t necessarily imply B here, but okay, let’s run with that.

Popular music couldn’t exist without the performers, so they should get the bulk of the money. Books couldn’t exist without the authors, so they should get the bulk of the money. Schools couldn’t exist without the studentsteachers, so they should get the bulk of the money. Food couldn’t exist without the farmers, so they should get the bulk of the money.

Need I go on?

Let’s face it, underpaying* the producers is a key tenet of American business. (And under the current regime, it’s only going to get more pronounced–but that’s beside the point.)

* As seen by those producers, of course.

That’s what leads to businesses closing when the minimum wage increases, even if the increase still leaves recipients with too little to cover the necessities of life. (Note: As the New York Times points out, that effect may be more perception than reality.)

It’s a systemic problem, and IMNSHO, one we should all be working to solve. But is baseball really where we should be starting?

Pretty Good Week

It’s been an interesting week so far–and in a good way.

Roy Moore lost his Senate race in Alabama. Granted, it was much closer than I’d have preferred, but as our illustrious president said, “A win is a win.”

Of course, that’s something Mr. Moore apparently doesn’t understand. He’s convinced that God will make sure the absentee ballots still being counted will give him the victory. Does anyone think he’ll reconsider his belief that God is on his side if he doesn’t win?

For that matter, does anyone think his refusal to concede and the likely forthcoming demand for a recount is anything other than a cynical ploy to keep the election results from being certified until after Congress passes the tax ripoff? Keep in mind that yesterday he identified “an enormous national debt” as one of the greatest problems facing America today–right up there with stopping prayer in school, abortion, and transgender rights. And we all know that going deeper into debt is the only way to get out of debt, right?

Ahem. We’ll see how it all plays out, but right now everyone except Mr. Moore thinks the citizens of Alabama have given America exactly the Christmas present they need.

Moving on.

Patreon has canceled the launch of their new fee structure. The announcement and apology is an interesting read. On one hand, it’s rare to see a company say bluntly, “We messed up.” In an era of weasel-worded apologies*, it’s nice to see one that doesn’t mince words.

* Or, worse yet, monetized apologies such as Equifax’s.

On the other hand, it also notes that “We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed.” (As a reminder, that’s primarily the problem of handling partial-month pledges when a patron first backs a creator.) So the door remains open for a substantially similar approach. ACA repeal, anyone?

I don’t think Patreon could survive another bungled rollout in the near future, and I’m quite sure they think the same. My gut says that if they move quickly, they’ll come up with a different approach; the longer the re-evaluation lasts, the more the final product will look like the one that just fell flat.

To be fair, they’ve been tracking canceled pledges and have built a simple “restore my pledges” tool and are notifying patrons by email. That’s a smart move, in that it immediately helps creators who were harmed by the departures, and it also brings back some of the cash flow Patreon needs to stay in business.

Moving on again.

We saw Coco Tuesday night. I’m not going to do a full review here, mostly because I’m having trouble being sufficiently objective. The big themes–memory, family, and death–have a lot of resonance for me these days, and I suspect that’s tipping my reaction to be somewhat more positive than it would have been.

But that said, I still think it’s an excellent film. Not flawless, no. It drags a bit in the middle with too much running in circles and too many false leads. There are a couple of overly-convenient plot devices (why is there a camera backstage, for example?). But the opening monologue is beautifully done, the first half of the film does a splendid job of establishing the world and the ground rules without bogging down in explanations, and the ending is spot on.

Bonus points, by the way, for not including a lengthy made-for-the-amusement-park-ride chase scene.

One interesting point: the Spanish version of the film includes its own versions of the songs. Judging by the samples on Amazon, they’re not just redubbed versions of the English songs, but separate performances. I’m tempted to go see the movie in Spanish, just to see how it works for a non-Spanish speaker.

Moving on one more time.

So, all in all, a good week so far. But.

As I was writing the above, the FCC just voted on the repeal of their net neutrality rules. And, as everyone expected, the vote was 3-2 for repeal.

We now turn to the courts and to Congress. I don’t expect the Republicans in Congress to be any more enthusiastic about rejecting Ajit Pai than they were about rejecting Roy Moore. After all, the evidence shows that obstructing a criminal investigation is now standard Republican practice.

But with polls showing that less than 20% of Republicans approve of the repeal–and even fewer Democrats and Independents–voting against whatever legislation comes to the floor in the next few weeks may be a tough nut to swallow.

Especially in light of the events in Alabama Tuesday night.

The Magic Book

I’ve got a magical book sitting on my desk.

Many people would say it’s a useless thing to have around. A bundle of pages lying around doesn’t do anything. Except that it does.

Whenever I start to feel like it’s time to retreat to the jungle–or, equally uselessly, crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head–I look at that little pamphlet, and I feel better.

Not because the document makes the world appreciably better, but because it reminds me of all the people who aspire to improve the world. There are still millions of people who believe we can do better. Who don’t wait for a benevolent deity to cure the world’s ills. Who don’t use the name of that same deity to shore up their claim to be the ultimate pinnacle of humanity.

That’s a hefty burden for forty pages of not-very-dense prose to carry. But it works. The power of the word. Pen versus sword. All those cliches.

You know where I’m going with this, right? The book is, of course, the American Constitution.

And with the citizens of Alabama voting for their next Senator today, I’m keeping my book close at hand. For reassurance.

Moore’s comment that he thinks it would solve a lot of problems if we threw out all of the constitutional amendments after the tenth has gotten a lot of press. Most of it’s focused on the voting rights and slavery amendments. But the rest of them are significant, too.

Number 11, among other things, ensures that state laws can’t overrule federal laws. I don’t need to list all of the laws that forces various states to acknowledge, do I?

Number 12 defines how the President and Vice President are elected. Whether you believe the Electoral College is a good idea or not, Amendment 12 lays out the rules. Number 23, by the way, allows residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.

Thirteen is the one that bans slavery, Fourteen defines who is a citizen, and Fifteen grants citizens the right to vote. Nineteen adds women to the status of voting citizens. Twenty-Four forbids the government from charging citizens to exercise the right to vote and Twenty-Six sets the minimum voting age to 18. As I said earlier, these are the ones that are getting all of the press.

Amendment 16 allows the Federal Income Tax. Like the Twelfth, opinions differ on whether it’s a good thing.

Amendment 17 defines the rules under which senators are elected and how they’re replaced. In short, it’s the Seventeenth Amendment that’s giving Mr. Moore his chance to join the Senate.

Eighteen bans the sale and import of alcohol. You may have heard about Prohibition–it didn’t work out, and the Twenty-First Amendment repealed it. Which is, of course, your guideline if you disapprove of Twelve, Sixteen, or any of the other amendments.

Number 20 defines the presidential term of office and lays out the rules covering what happens if the president-elect dies before taking office. Number 22 prevents anyone from serving more than two terms as president. Anyone wonder why Mr. Moore wants to get rid of that rule? Number 25 lays out the order of succession in case the president dies in office.

And then there’s the Twenty-Seventh Amendment. One of my favorites, actually. It prevents Congress from giving themselves a pay raise whenever they want. No law that changes their pay scale can take effect until after the next election.

Some important stuff there, huh? The cliché is that you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. But you also can’t tell the game without a rule book.

I got my rule book from the ACLU last year. They’re still available. You’ll have to buy ten at a time, but it’ll only set you back about $22 including shipping. Per copy, that’s about half what you’d spend on a program at the ballpark.

Buy a set and share ’em with your family and friends. Because we can all use a little reassurance these days.

An Ism

Odd how ethnocentrism (and other isms) can sneak into your thought processes and whap you upside the head.

Case in point: I was thinking about my favorite movies recently, and realized they had something in common.

Let me digress for a moment. My favorite movies fluctuate. My all-time favorite changes frequently, though it’s usually one of three, and I’d have a hard time coming up with a top ten list, because I don’t see enough movies to have collected that many that stay with me.

But, back to the point. Those top three actually have a fair amount in common. They’re all filled with digressions, and to a great extent they depend on an ensemble cast for their success. What struck me the other day is another similarity I hadn’t considered before. In a way, they’re all road movies.

Cold Fever is a weird Icelandic/Japanese road movie–in fact, it was billed as the “best Icelandic-Japanese road movie of 1995.” Yeah, that was done as a bit of a joke, but that’s beside the point. Everything happens on the way somewhere; the destination is almost irrelevant.

Tampopo is a weird Japanese road movie. Or, from one perspective at least, a movie about the road. Two of the main characters are truckers. Many of the diversions are related to the road, trains, or travel.

And Return of the Secaucus Seven is a weird little film full of comings and goings, travelings to and from, and even a nod to going around and around at the race track.

Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch to call the latter two road movies, but there’s a theme there. Maybe not enough for a dissertation, but a dedicated critic in desperate need of an article could make something of it.

But, to get back to the original point of this post, did you catch the ism? Yup. “Icelandic/Japanese movie,” “Japanese movie,” “film”. Despite what Hollywood would prefer you to think, film is hardly a uniquely American creation, nor is American cinema the root stock from which all other countries have sprouted as twigs.

The mode of thought that says “the way we do it here is the only correct way,” is the cause of far too many problems. It’s disheartening to trip over it in one’s own thoughts.

SAST 08

First things first. Hard as it may be to believe sometimes, this blog is intended to showcase and sell my writing. That means you’re going to get an occasional commercial message.

I’ll be at the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento on Saturday, November 18. There’s no plan for a formal book signing, but the festival store will have copies of The RagTime Traveler, and I’ll be happy to sign them.

Moving on.

Thanks to everyone who voted Tuesday. As I’ve said before, here and elsewhere, we elect people to represent our interests, and elections are how we tell them what our interests are.

Or–to put it in terms the current administration should understand, given their focus on business–elections are their annual review, where we, the employers, tell them how well or poorly they’re doing their job, and what the prospects are for a raise next year.

Tuesday’s election suggests that they’re running a solid “Failed to Meet Expectations” and even a cost of living adjustment is iffy.

My Google News feed is still toxic, but at least I feel like someone’s distributing hazmat suits.

Moving on.

The other big news Tuesday was, regrettably, the death of Roy Halladay.

I’ll admit up front I didn’t know him or follow his career. But by everything I can see, he was one of the good guys, on the field and off.

“Any man’s death diminishes me,” and Mr. Halladay’s death diminishes us all more than most. I love to see anyone, especially someone as visible as Mr. Halladay, working to help others. He was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award multiple times during his playing days, and he continued his charitable work after his retirement.

And finally, just to end on a cheerier note, I see that Pope Francis has banned the sale of cigarettes at the Vatican. The statement announcing the move says “the Holy See cannot contribute to an activity that clearly damages the health of people.”

It’s interesting that he didn’t also ban the sale of alcohol, but I still like the tobacco ban. I don’t support a world-wide total ban on tobacco products–prohibition doesn’t work–but if this is the first step in a program to encourage Catholics to give up smoking, it’s an idea I can get behind.

How Cheery

You know, back in the old days, if I didn’t have a clue what to blog about, I could always count on Google. The top searches were an almost guaranteed source of inspiration. And on the rare occasions where that didn’t help, Google News filled the gap.

But that was in the long-ago, happy days of 2015.

Now, not so much.

Google News is a disgusting pool of mass shootings, nuclear dick-waving, racism, sexism, climate change denial, and petty aggravations elevated to the level of national disasters.

And the top searches aren’t much better. As I write this, Number One, the only search term to top 100,000 searches is “Sia”. Apparently, someone is trying to sell nude photos of the singer–so she’s giving away her own nudes to depress the market. Oh, and to advertise her upcoming album of Christmas songs.

How inspirational.

Other uplifting items from the top ten:

Elizabeth Smart is filming the story of her kidnapping.

Kristina Cohen has gone public with rape allegations against Ed Westwick.

A shuttle bus driver in Texas has been arrested for shooting at a co-worker.

The third “Fifty Shades” movie is coming out in February.

The only thing that gives me any hope is that people are searching for election-related information. “Voting Day 2017” and “Where Do I Vote” are both in the top ten searches.

Please, if there’s an election today where you live–there isn’t one in my county–get out there and vote. Send a message that the world needs fixing.

So I can find something in the news we can share a laugh about.

SAST 07

Happy Halloween!

We’re not planning to give out any candy this year–although we do have a couple of emergency bags in case someone shows up despite our best efforts to look like we’re not home.

There’s no particular reason we’re being anti-social, just a general lack of holiday spirit.

Beyond that, I am a little distracted at the moment. I’m neck deep in the third draft of Like Herding Cats–I’m hoping to finish before Thanksgiving–and I’m starting to run into the places where I got lazy in Draft 2. See, Draft 2 is written with a pen. On paper. So if I need to add a lengthy stretch of new text, I’ll often just make a note to myself: [Hey, Fred needs to explain why painting City Hall blue was a good idea.]

It’s not that I don’t know why it was a good idea. I just don’t want to have to read and transcribe half a page of my scribbles. And so I defer it to Draft 3, which gets done on the computer.

The downside is that it’s kind of like freeway driving at rush hour in a car with a manual transmission. Cruising along at twenty mph, transcribing the Draft 2 changes. Come to a complete halt while I check my notes–was it robin’s egg blue or sapphire blue–and then creep along at ten mph while I write the scene.

And then get off two exits down the road and circle back because I just came up with a great line that has to go into the new scene.

Anyway, distraction. So you get a bit of a Short Attention Span Theater for Halloween.

Moving on.

Am I the only person out there who got a scam spam of the 419 type from “Jeff Sessions Attorney General” recently?

I know the Trump administration is, shall we say, a trifle challenged, ethically-speaking. But really, Jeff, there are faster, easier, and–dare I say it–even legaler methods to separate fools from their money.

Now, you may say it’s probably not Mr. Sessions sending out these letters, and you’re probably right. Perhaps it’s some flunky in the Justice Department trying to curry favor–or line his pockets at the boss’ expense.

But there’s an more likely explanation. Read the letter I got:

Now ask yourself: who in the current administration is well-known for cranking out dozens of grammatically-suspect, logic-deficient electronic missives in the middle of the night?

Yup.

Donald, put down your phone and go play golf.

Moving on.

A sneak peek at Thursday’s final summation of how I did in predicting the playoffs: I got one of the two World Series teams right. Go, me!

As others have pointed out, it’s far too soon to anoint this the Best! World! Series! Ever! But it’s not too early to say it’s been a great one so far. Close games, mostly not decided until the final inning. Lots of home runs, some interesting strategic decisions to argue about, and a fascinating sideshow in the Yuli Gurriel and Bruce Maxwell stories.

We’re getting Game Six tonight and, if the Dodgers do us a solid, Game Seven tomorrow.

But.

I don’t know about you, but I’m having so much fun with this series, I don’t think even seven games will be enough. I’m hereby petitioning Commissioner Manfred to extend the World Series to twenty-three games. If we alternate two games in each city with a travel day in between, that’ll wrap it up with Game Twenty-Three on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving.

Let’s not forget that Los Angeles and Houston are warm weather cities. No worries about games getting snowed out. And really, isn’t twelve a much more satisfying number than four?

And the best part: consider the advertising tie-ins! Everyone can watch that climactic Game Twenty-Seven on the new TV they picked up that morning in a Black Friday sale.

What do you say? Who’s with me?