Monday, February 28, 2005

Thrilling Detective

The headline above will link you to the Thrilling Detective website. Thrilling Detective isn't connected to the well known pulp magazine by that name. The title, apparently entering public domain, just seemed an apt one for the folks who set up this site and expresses perfectly what the site promotes. I'm also adding a link to the page over on the right, which should be up shortly.

I would have to guess that my love of detectives and the mystery genre probably occurred shortly after my love of cowboys. There was certainly never a shortage of those old b&w movies on television, featuring Dick Powell, Alan Ladd, or Lloyd Nolan among others. Hard-boiled guys, usually with a cigarette dangling from the lips as they wised off to some cop or gangster. Like the cowboy heroes I loved these guys were tough, but generally decent despite their rough edges. Maybe that's why both genres have such an overlapping readership and many writers find easy to move from style one to the other.

I've just discovered this site so will be checking it out in the next few days. I'll probably have more to say about both it and the types of films & books it honors.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Minor League Baseball

The headline above will link you to the MLB site which covers the various minor league teams around the country. It also has coverage of some the major prospects who just might make the move up this coming season.

I've had the opportunity to catch over a dozen games at major league stadiums over the years. There is nothing quite like going to a major league park and watching the biggest names in the game do what they do best for a couple of hours. I love watching games on television and even listening to them on radio, but seeing a game in person can be amazing (apologies to the New York Mets).

The very first MLB game I attended was back in the 1975, in San Diego. I was stationed there at the time and the team had special discounts for active duty military personnel. A few times I'd drive over with shipmates and we'd take in a game for only a few dollars (if you were in uniform that is). Anyway, this initial experience couldn't have been better. The Padres were hosting the New York Mets that week. The game featured Randy Jones on the mound for the Padres (he went on to win the Cy Young the next year) and Tom Seaver pitching for the Mets (the year he won that award). The usually dismal San Diego team was actually in first place in the National League west at that point (thanks in part to the brilliant work of Jones), and the game itself couldn't have been more exciting. Sadly, I don't remember who won, although I believe it was the Mets (sending the Padres back into 2nd place).

If you've attended any major league games the past few years, I'm sure you'll agree that prices for tickets and for snacks have become pretty expensive. On the other hand, in the minor league parks you can still get a nice seat for around ten bucks or less.

I've added a link to the Brooklyn Cyclones homepage over to the right. Donna and I took in several games last season and decided to spring for a package of weekend games. The Cyclones are part of the Mets organization and play a short season. Still the games are fun and the team always has trivia games and other stuff for adults and kids during breaks between innings. I'll probably have more to say about the Cyclones and baseball in general as the season commences.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It's Spring Training time

Articles (like the one from the AP, which you can link to via the headline above) say that Jason Giambi was warmly greeted by fans as he took the field in the Yankee training camp yesterday. I don't think the fans that head down to Florida for this stuff are the ones that Giambi and the Yankee front office have to worry about. These folks are there to get as close to big name players as they are likely to get and to bring their kids along to meet them. Hardly the guys who will be screaming steroid comments at Jason when they take the field in the Bronx in a month or so.

Mike & Mike on ESPN this morning were talking about Sammy Solsa pulling the super-star thing when he got to camp. Seems that Solsa refused to get into the vehicle sent to pick him up at the airport and demanded a limo for his personal use. Way to make fans in your new home, Sammy! Your ex Chicago teammates apparently smashed your boom box when you left and your new coach has already stated that your pre-game ritual of playing DJ for those in the locker room will not be permitted in Baltimore.

Rumor has it that at least one player may bring a law suit for libel against Jose Canseco. I don't think we've heard the last about the book either.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Some personal pleasures

Over on the right I've added some links to sites dealing with some of my favorite things.

The Internet Cigar Group and Beer Advocate are pretty self-explanatory. The sites include FAQs about each subject along with listenings of stores, bars, etc where you might enjoy or be able to purchase such items. You'll also find information on contacting like-minded folks who share your pleasures.

The Cocoa Pete is maintained by the Cocoa Pete company. Created by my high school classmate, Pete Slosberg, who was also the brains behind Pete's Best Ale. Pete is a great guy and the products he puts out are top of the line.

Enjoy the sites and have a great weekend!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Jim Rome Show

The headline above will link you to the Jim Rome Show website. I discovered Romie back when I was working in Connecticut and would listen to him at lunch time. Sadly the NY ESPN station doesn't put him on until 7:00pm, so I only catch a little of the show during my commute back home. Still the best radio sports/talk show, in my opinion.

Once again, I'm really sorry for those hocky fans who have been shafted out of their favorite sport. Also, as some other folks have pointed out it may be the those people who work in the stadiums (ticket takers, ushers, venders, etc.) who will be the hardest hit by all this. It is a shame that they are stuck in the middle of selfish owners and million dollar players.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bad mouthing A-Rod

Click on the headline above and you'll find Trot Nixon getting the Red Sox/Yankee season off to a grand start (courtesy of the NY Daily News). Apparently in Trot's eyes, Rodriguez doesn't measure up to either former Yankee greats or even his current team mates.

Man, the pitchers & catchers are just showing up and already the slings & arrows are flying between the two camps. Add to that the crap that Jason Giambi will be getting from all the fans (pretty much where ever he goes early in the season) and things are shaping up for an interesting season. That's not even including what happens on the field. :-)

We can also look forward to hearing the "Who's your Daddy?" jibes that Pedro will hear when the Mets first show up to play their crosstown foes.

As for hockey and a possible cancellation of the season, I can't say that I really care. I don't think I've ever watched a professional hockey game all the way through on television. In fact, the only hockey game *period* that I recall sitting through was back in 1980. That was in a bar with some college friends and we were watching the U.S. Olympic team play the Russians. Now THAT was a game!!

I do feel for the true hockey fan though, like my wife's 11-yr old nephew, who genuinely enjoy the game. Fingers crossed for them that both parties can work something out by the scheduled news conference this afternoon.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Canseco on 60 Minutes

The saddest part about all this is that I really don't have much trouble believing Canseco. I'm not saying that everything in his book is 100% accurate, but I think that he is telling us what many sports fans have known for years. A lot of the biggest names in the game are not playing on the 'level field' we'd like them to be. As some of the sports radio show hosts point out the only new things that Canseco is giving us are the names.

Check out what folks like Mike Lupica, Jim Rome and others have to say. Canseco has his detractors, but they are not dismissing everything.

Even when McGwire & Sosa were playing "can you top this" with the homerun record, there were rumors that one or the other (possibly both) were doing steroids or using other things to boost their energy. It also doesn't take a genius to look at the Barry Bonds of his rookie years and see that the guy is doing something more than munching energy bars and hitting the Nautilis equipment. I doubt that MLB really wants to know the truth behind all of this. If they did they would take the suggestion of some folks and have a major investigation.

It will be interesting to watch the coming year and see if this is a flash in the pan, or if it will have any lasting effect. Canseco's book may not have a long shelf life, but this story is not going to go away when copies are sitting on the bargain table.

If you click on today's headline you'll link to the USAToday/Baseball Weekly site. I'll probably be adding that link over on the right any day now.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Book review: Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry

Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry – The second prequel to McMurtry’s LONESOME DOVE, this novel takes place a few years after the first book DEAD MAN’S WALK. This is supposed to be the fourth and last book in the LD series, which is unfortunate since McMurtry has created so many fascinating characters. There are several whose stories would certainly make for further novels.

We get to see Woodrow Call and August McCrae when they are a few years older, and still members of the Texas Rangers. The story starts at a time when rumors of a coming war between the North and South are still just that, continuing through the conflict and showing us Texas trying to recover as the era of Reconstruction begins. While Call and Gus themselves never take part in the conflict, some of those they know do and even in Texas the ramifications of the war are felt.

Even though our two rangers, soon to become captains, are central to the story, McMurtry takes time to introduce a number of other characters and the book jumps from chapter to chapter as a wide range of these characters have their own adventures. We get to see Gus’s old flame Clara once again, along with fellow ranger Long Bill, plus learn the fate of some of the others who we met in the first book. McMurtry once again has Buffalo Hump, the Comanche war chief going forth to raid and kill over thousands of miles, building a large war party of hundreds of warriors. We also get to meet Captain Scull, sent to lead the Rangers, but who goes off on an adventure of his own. This book also shows us the boy’s first trip to Lonesome Dove, the town featured in the best known novel.

Scull, leading the Rangers in a search for the Comanches led by Buffalo Hump, finds himself the target of the warriors he seeks. When his horse is stolen by Kicking Wolf, he travels with Famous Shoes, the Kickapoo scout into Mexico. His fate once he finds his horse is central to the rest of the novel. McMurtry, unlike in the first sequel actually brings some depth to the tribal members and we begin to understand why they do some of the things they have done. Buffalo Hump, who we originally see as a savage killer actually gains our sympathy as the story progresses.

I have to admit that initially I wasn’t as taken with this novel as I was with DEAD MAN’S WALK, but after the troop return to Austin the story begins to pick up pace and I was caught up from that point on. If you don’t mind a bit of a slow start and some confusion as to who all these characters are and how they relate, I think you’ll enjoy this as much as the previous book.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Talking sports

Apparently it wasn't poor clock management or bad planning on the part of the Eagles. Poor Donovan McNabb wasn't feeling well and almost threw up in the last huddle. Ahh!

Maybe it was too much of that Chunky Soup his mom was forcing down his throat during bus trips.

I also see that Pedro Martinez showed up early for Spring Training at the Mets camp. Pedro was famous for showing up late for the Red Sox camps, so it looks like he's either turned over a new leaf or thinks it might be a good idea to get off on the right foot with the team and the New York press. Probably a little of both, but it will be interesting to see how long the honeymoon will last. Of course, both Pedro and Randy Johnson are going to be the focus of a lot of attention, with Johnson already getting slammed for snubbing a reporter early on.

Those guys will the getting almost as much ink as Jason Giambi and his steroid problems.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Jose Canseco book

I'm shocked and appalled! Well, perhaps not so much shocked, but it is troublesome to believe that many of the baseball (and other sports to be sure) records we've seen broken over the past couple of decades were done so with artificial assistance. I'm not talking chalked bats here!

The naming of names by Canseco, in his forthcoming book probably won't surprise many folks. We have the usual suspects, of course, but some names wouldn't immediately come to mind. We all suspected McGwire and Giambi admitted to doing them, still if we take what Canseco says as gospel a good portion of the Texas Rangers and a number of others in the '90s were shooting up. It seems obvious, if this is true, that the managers and coaches could not have been oblivious to what was going on right under their noses.

With the newly drafted 'get tough' policy that MLB is pushing it will be interesting to see if other names come out and if this information will have any effect on the Hall of Fame voting. I'm sure not the only fan who will start seeing an invisible asterisk after a few records, even if they down appear in black & white on the pages.

Am I old fashioned in this? Should I just be happy to watch the game and hope my favorite hits on over the wall, even if his head is the size of a basketball?

Just my two cents, I guess.

Baseball Almanac website

The great thing about Baseball is that they view the game in a historic perspective. It doesn't matter if you're a fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves or any other American or National League team, you'll discover an incredible amount of information. Even if you don't root for a 'favorite' team and are just a fan of the game you can find links to pages of facts that you have probably never known before.

Want to know about baseball movies, World Series or All-star games of the past? How about overviews of past seasons? BA has all that and more. Whether you are really into the stats or just want to know a little about a player you followed as a kid the BA writers & researchers will probably have what you are looking for.

This is the first baseball link I'm going to be adding and probably one of the most inclusive.

Happy Trails!

Super Bowl Sunday

I'm not a football fan by any means. For me there is baseball season and then 'other games with balls which I neither understand nor care for'. I played the usual pick up games as a kid, plus the ones you're forced to play in gym class (my "brilliant" soccer career cut short by getting kicked in the ankle by another player as we both went for the ball. At least once a week my ankle will still give out on me.), but I never could get into basketball or football.

I barely watch more than a handfull of NFL games a season and don't think I've ever sat down and seen a basketball game, since my father passed away. I'd sometimes keep him company watching the Celtics. Still there has always been something more than just a football game about the Super Bowl and I try to catch it every year.

This year was no different, except that there were no buffalo wings, since we most of the evening was spent at my sister-in-laws for her b-day party. The game was on, but since dinner didn't start until just after kickoff.... *sigh*

Caught some of the commercials and I'm sure I'll get to see them, plus the ones I missed ad nausea for the next few months. Unless of course, the Brad Pitt beer ad was a one time thing. Oh, and as much as I like Paul McCartney, I think that Fox and the NFL were trying to play it too safe after the Janet Jackson hoopla. Didn't you get the idea that many of the young 'fans' around the stage had probably never heard a McCartney song unless forced to sit in the car with their parents?

Being a New Englander born, I was naturally cheering for the Patriots to repeat and they didn't let me down. Although there were a few minutes there in the third & fourth quarters where I thought they had blown it. Thankfully, the Eagles didn't seem to be paying attention to the clock, nor the fact that that they might want to stay two TDs ahead just to be on the safe side. Neither team really should feel badly about how they played, since many sport show types were predicting NE to walk all over the Philadelphia players.

Anyway, I enjoyed myself and the game, but will be adding some baseball links over the next couple of weeks and will be talking baseball here on this blog all season. Be warned!

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Gene Autry Square

Just read (link in the title above) that Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will dedicate the intersection of Hollywood and Highland as Gene Autry Square. As the article states, and fans of his know, Gene loved Hollywood and he would have been thrilled to have this honor. The singing cowboy already has stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but this is a great tribute to a gentleman who still has millions of fans around the world. Congratulations to his family, some of whom were present at the dedication of the first street sign yesterday.

Happy Trails!