Thursday, September 29, 2005
It looks like the end of yet another baseball season is fast approaching. There is one hell of a pennant race in the American league, with four teams vying for two open positions. As of a few days ago, there were five teams in contention, but it looks like the SABRmetric magic of Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s has run out. Maybe you can’t trade your two best pitchers and still expect to compete. Either that or Joe Morgan is right and you can't run baseball through stats.
The post season is fast approaching and I should be excited. But I’m not. All this ongoing steroid talk has left me with a strange sense of ambivalence. Mark Mcguire. Rafael Palmeiro. These were supposed to be the good guys. These were the people who allegedly saved baseball after the dark years of the strike. Something went wrong.
I’ve been through this before.
On the evening of September 11, 1985, I sat on the floor of my parent’s living room, listening to Marty Brenneman and Joe Nuxhall call the Reds’ night game against the Padres. We had the television on but as any good Reds fan knows, listening to Marty and Joe is the epitome of the baseball experience. Television comes in at a distance second.
He came up in the first inning, and the packed stadium fell into silence. He kicked the dirt twice, as was his custom, and then transferred the bat from right shoulder to left as he gave the pitcher a mean glare. Then he shrunk and hunched into the familiar crouch that had terrified National League pitchers for almost a quarter century. Pete Rose, Cincinnati’s version of Roy Hobbs, was in his element and there was no stopping him.
You could feel the tension, even in my living room. The city held its breath in expectation. It was the same in every home within a 100 mile radius; perhaps in the whole world. That’s how it felt, anyway.
Eric Show, the Padres pitcher, ran the signs with his battery mate. An aging Steve Garvey pounded his glove, offering encouragement from First. Tony Gwynn, himself a scientist of hitting, took several steps towards the warning tack in Left, showing respect for the awesome power of the moment. Something was about to happen. Everybody knew it.
His strategy confirmed, Eric Show straightened and went into his windup. The crowd tightened in anticipation as the flashes from fifty thousand cameras flooded the stadium. We watched in awe as the pitch hurtled towards home and Pete Rose, with his keen old eyes focused on the target, stepped into the pitch and swung.
Marty called the play*. “He levels the bat a couple of times. Show kicks and he fires” he said. “Rose swings and A LINE DRIVE TO LEFT-CENTER FIELD!”
Nuxhall, less practiced in radio etiquette and steeped in the excitement that only a former player can know, was exuberant. “There it is There it is! Get down! ALRIGHT!”
The crowd roared. They danced and shook. Fireworks lit up the nighty sky and and Marty came over the radio briefly to certify the moment: “Hit number forty one ninety two! A line drive single into Left center field, a clean base hit, and it is pandemonium here at Riverfront Stadium.” Marty then let the crowd speak for itself. And they did, bringing the game to a halt as they showered their hero with mad cheers for nearly a half hour.
Four Thousand. One Hundred. Ninety Two. That was the new record for career hits in baseball and many people believe it is one which will never be broken. Three thousand hits in a career pretty much guarantees a ticket to the Hall of Fame and many famous players, including Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, and Frank Robinson, didn’t get that far. The active leader in hits is Rafael Palmeiro with 2900 or so. He’s 39 and, given his recent steroid scandal, isn’t likely to play again much less get 1300 more hits.
To put it another way, a player would have to average slightly over 200 hits every year for 21 years in order to beat Pete Rose, who ended at 4256. As of today, with less than a week of play left in the season, there is exactly one player in the majors who has 200 hits. Last season, there were only 8 players to get 200 hits, and only one player has reached the mark in each of the last five seasons. Ichiro Suzuki. He might have a shot at the title if he stays healthy for the next fifteen years. It truly is an astounding record.
But to the people of Cincinnati, and to a kid sitting on his parent’s living room floor, it was more than just a record. To us, baseball was summer. It was a cool drink on a hot day. It was barbecues and fireflies. It was happiness. This expression of greatness from a hometown, working class hero was merely icing atop the greater treat. There would be other moments, other players, and other teams, but this was ours. And it was sweet. Lord, was it sweet.
Three years later, near the end of the 1988 season when Pete Rose had retired as a player and had managed the Reds to three straight second place finishes against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West, there were rumors. Local gambling facilities had told stories of late night meetings and special deals involving the outcomes of certain games. Pete Rose, it seems, had been cheating.
Here’s how it worked. Pete Rose never bet on the Reds to lose. When he bet, he would bet on them to win. But anybody who was anybody in the gambling community knew that he had an addiction to it, and naturally he had several large debts to unsavory people. So, occasionally, Pete would not place a bet. This was the signal that the fix was in, and more often than not, the Reds would lose on these days.
In the ’88 - ’89 offseason, Pete Rose accepted a lifetime ban from major league baseball. This meant that he would no longer manage the Reds, he would never again coach or be a part of any team, and he would never be elected to the Hall of Fame.
For years, Rose held out. He maintained that he had been railroaded, that despite his gambling addiction he had never bet on baseball. You could almost believe him, too. Here was a person who meant so much to so many that it would have been easy to turn a blind eye in the face of light evidence. But the case against him was too strong, and in 2004 he came clean, admitting his deeds nearly twenty years after that early September evening of Joy and Happiness.
Pete Rose bet on baseball. Pete Rose destroyed its soul.
In 1920, shortly after investigating the Blacksox scandal from 1919 in which the Chicago White Sox allegedly threw the World Series against, ironically, the Cincinnati Reds**, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the first Commissioner of baseball, handed out eight lifetime bans against members of the Chicago White Sox team. This ban included players who had definitely thrown the series alongside players like “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who had taken the bribe while still performing at his usual level of excellence, and players like Buck Weaver who had refused to take money but said nothing of the deal to team management or the appropriate authorities.
People have often wondered why he banned those who didn’t actively throw games. “Shoeless” Joe would have obviously been elected to the Hall of Fame had he finished his career. In fact, he stands third on the all time list for career batting average behind only Rogers Hornsby and Ty Cobb, the man whom Pete Rose eclipsed with hit number 4192. Both Hornsby and Cobb are in the Hall of Fame.
Landis spoke on this very subject in the years after the scandal died down and things returned to normal. He said that, in comparison to other sports, baseball was linked to the American spirit. Anybody who has seen James Earl Jones’s impassioned “People will come” speech in the movie “Field of Dreams” understands this. For the last century, baseball mirrored the soul of the nation.
Landis went on to say that neither baseball nor the American spirit could suffer such an outlandish betrayal of trust. Whether you acted inappropriately, gave the appearance of impropriety, or turned a blind eye towards the actions of others was unimportant. Each deserved equal punishment.
“Baseball cannot abide such treason,” he said, and for a while it seemed that baseball had been saved.
He was right, of course, and Rose’s halfhearted capitulation in 2004 is a testimony to how far we have fallen from that high standard. The depth of our squalor is only heightened by the knowledge that Bud Selig, the current Commissioner and the very same man who claims that allowing Pete Rose to return to baseball would somehow tarnish the sport’s reputation, is now defending baseball against an onslaught of investigators and reporters and fans who claim that he turned a blind eye to the steroid scandal, allowing it to go on because the increase in homeruns meant an increase in profits.
And what is the result? You can see it for yourself in the empty ballfields across America. It used to be that summer saw every available field weighted down by the constant pattering of feet from children who spent every moment from dawn to dusk beating a patch from home plate to first base, and all the way back again if they were good enough or just plain lucky. And where there were no official fields, kids would make their own. They would mark out a diamond with whatever they could find: an old telephone book, a construction cone, a glove or a hat. By the end of the summer, the path between the bases was worn into the grass. After a few years, the markings became permanent and would last through the harshest of winters.
It used to be that neighborhood kids fought over who got to be the local hero. They would argue for weeks over who was Barry Larkin and who was Johnny Bench. Nobody got to be Pete Rose. Nobody was good enough. They would play through wind and rain and, yes, even snow. Near riots would break out between teams who argued about the specifics of infield fly rule or whether a long drive that nicked the foul pole was fair or foul. Every one of us would have given anything to get a chance to stand in against a big league pitcher. To take a mighty swing, hit the ball a long way and show him you knew something he did not.
It used to be that baseball was more than just a game. It used to be that it held the spirit and soul of America.
This is no longer so. Nobody watches baseball anymore. Football, with its speed and glitz and fancy marketing, has eclipsed it as the national pastime. Soccer fields cover what used to be well-groomed diamonds, and those haphazard fields of permanence from our youth have started to grow over.
So the season is coming to an end; another season that, at one time, would have been intense. To the boy who sat on his parent’s living room floor twenty years ago, the thrill of a race to the finish would have been almost too much to bear. Today, the man that boy has become hardly notices.
Baseball has self-destructed into a selfish endeavor and, as such, has lots its soul. It no longer embodies the hopes and dreams of a nation. Now, it is just another sport.
The boys of summer have gone. And nobody mourns their passing.
-- -- -- -- -- -- --
*Hear Pete Rose break the all time hits record (halfway down on the left).
**People always say that had the White Sox not thrown it, their victory in the 1919 World Series would have been a foregone conclusion. Inexperienced historians believe that they were by far the better team. But a quick look at the stats will tell a different story. The White Sox finished the season at 88-52, three and a half games ahead of the second place Cleveland Indians. By comparison, the Reds, lead by Hall of Famer Ed Rousch, finished the season 96-44 and 9 games ahead of the second place New York Giants. This .686 winning percentage would mean a 111-52 record by today’s standard, placing them well ahead of any World Series Champion of the last fifty years with the exception of the 1998 New York Yankees, who won 114 games.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
We would also have read it in French. Because all good avant garde things are in French, right?
The trouble with Psalm 119 is that it is very long and mostly boring. I haven’t been able to make it all the way through the dam thing myself and I’m closing in on the halfway mark of a play that is supposed to elucidate the ideas contained therein. If you have taken the time to click on the link and read the psalm above, aside from being one up on me you might have guessed that it has something to do with Law and that the psalmist is talking about how he recognizes both the necessary stringency of the Law and humanity’s inability to live up to the standard.
But I could have guessed that if you simply said, “It’s about the Law, yo!” Because what else is the psalmist going to say? Man, I just love looking at what I’m supposed to be, how I really am, and the wide gulf that exists between the two. Even atheists can see that, even if they don’t agree with the specifics of Judeo-Christian laws or even if they are moral relativists. I keep thinking that there has to be something deeper. Because everything I read about Psalm 119 (and, despite the fact that I have not read the actual psalm, I have read a lot about it) speaks of its depth, its beauty and its heartbreaking humanity. Unfortunately, they don't tell me what that alleged depth is. They just sit back in awe and (I imagine) speak thusly in a Bill&Ted voice, "Dude..that's, like, deep...and stuff."
Perhaps there is a complete idiots guide somewhere.
If only I understood what it meant to be human. Then I might be able to comprehend the meaning of the verse and thus I would be able to craft a story that is both relevant, interesting, and full of the depth it appears I am incapable of grasping. But there’s the rub. If I understood what it meant to be human, I wouldn’t need to read the Bible in the first place. We’re talking about reality, after all, not fantasy.
So I started a play and,as things stand, it’s a doozy. In fact, I’m not even sure people will want to use it. If it turns out like I’m guessing, it’ll be long and complicated and full of bad attempts at humor; all of which is set against a backdrop of a story that is the antithesis of funny.
No. It isn’t my love life. That actually is funny…in a sad sort of way.
We’re supposed to meet tomorrow to talk about what we plan to do next. Maybe Abbie has some ideas. Maybe Mike wanted to talk about a different Psalm, hopefully a shorter one. Maybe Ronni will have written something that makes more sense. If not, we’ll be stuck with what I have. And what I have makes almost as much sense to me as the Psalm about which I was supposed to be writing in the first place.
Looks like its time for the dogs in too-toos.
Let’s do the rundown here. Just so you can follow along.
Makes less than $30K….check
Can’t see worth shit….check
A complete lack of fashion sense….CHECK!
If I hadn’t told you I was 27, you might think I was pushing 90 (and still talking about how Woodrow Wilson ruined the great dream that was The Republic of America). I am old before my time. I am a worthless human being! Yay for me!
Now shut the hell up ya whippersnappers. Mitch Miller’s on.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Then, after a while, you begin to understand. You learn the rules behind the rules. You learn what is necessary and what doesn’t matter. Jenny, the former controller from Houston, takes care of that paperwork glut and Bob is a whiz with computers. Tina, the hot temp from the second floor, serves a greater purpose than visual stimulus while Jason, the assistant manager your boss exemplified as the paragon of efficiency, sleeps at his desk and pours whiskey into his coffee at lunch.
You learn and you adapt.
Soon, you know everything and you begin to point out inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the way things run. The waiver form is useless and the records are not kept up to date. Jenny would appreciate your hard work at managing efficiency in the paperwork department and Bob sits at his desk waiting for someone to ask for help with their computer. Better to ask him then to wait on line for the (no) help desk. You slowly position yourself within the company to have Bob run out of town on a rail and you while away your free time wondering if Tina is keeping a record of your actions to report to management or if she is just making eyes at you.
You hope it is the latter.
This lasts for a while and things seem good. Then, it happens. Sometimes it is sudden and other times it’s gradual, but it eventually happens in work like this. You have an epiphany, an insight, a clarity of thought and vision that leads you to one, immutable truth.
Your job is pointless.
The company will never fire Bob, no matter how many times he comes towork drunk, your efficiency improvements go unnoticed as the management team casually mentions, on their way to the golf course, that the new software upgrade do away with that type of work altogether. And Tina? She doesn’t even know your name. The reason she kept looking at you was because her contacts get dry whenever she in on your floor and she has to stop for a moment to clear her vision.
There is no getting around it. Your job is pointless. The people at work don’t care about you and, in all probability, they hate your guts. This is where you are and this is where you will be for the rest of your life if you don’t make a change. There is no hope for promotion. There is no leniency or stay of execution. This is your death in tiny, tiny increments.
Welcome to the office. Have a nice day.
My answer is simply this. When I was a teenager, I once decided that I would build a large, dirt ramp in my back yard, and then I further decided that it would be a good idea to ride my friend's motorcycle down the hill, over the ramp, and into the woods behind. Luckily, my parents intervened, proving once again that the decisions I made as a teenager were rarely good and almost always resulted in either a large amount of pain or a large amount of money (none of which was mine) being spent to recitfy the damage I had caused.
Sure, teenagers in poor situations might think that having a baby when they are still themselves children is a good idea. They might even get jackasses like this Ampersand person to back them up. These jackasses will say, "Go ahead and have children now, because you are poor and will therefore never attain the kind of hapiness which I was given as a child. Having a child might make you happy. The sleepless nights. The constant crying. The continuous bills. This is the only kind of happiness you will ever be allotted in life. You are poor. You are stupid. You are worthless. So have children. I say this because I feel sorry for you, and saying these things alleviates the bad feelings I have. Doing this makes me feel like I actually care about somebody other than myself. So go ahead. Act irresponsibly. Have children when you can't possibly afford to care for them properly. Forget education and work and family and love and all that stuff that I think is bullshit because I just took philosophy 101 and have become enthralled with a Socratic society devoid of family. Just go ahead and satisfy the childlike wants and desires (which are natural, because you are still just a child) while I sit in the corner while I base in my elite intelligence and feigned warm-heartedness."
Here is a newsflash from those of us who have brains: having children when you are still a child is never a good idea. Having children when you can't afford to take care of that child is also not a good idea, either, by the way. Having a child to fulfill your own wants of happiness and fulfillment is also less than smart. All of this is true because these rationalizations are all about what is best for you. And having a child isn't about you; I'ts about the child. The people who tell you these things are idiots. They are themselves still children, mentally speakingt. They are also selfish and cruel because they assume you can never rise above the stiations in life to which we are born. They don't want what's best for you. They want what's best for them and nothing more.
What you need is guidance. What you need is love. What you need is somebody to help you through the tough times that you don't understand. And, occasionally, you need somebody to smack you in the head and say, "what the hell is the matter with you...go do your homework!" This comes from friends. This comes from parents. This comes from teachers and pastors and community members and even from politicians who remember the true definitions of "public servant." Seek out these people will all your will and all your heart, and never listen to anybody who tells you that you will never amount to nothing.
Those people are idiots.
I was in my car when I heard that GWB had nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. I remember the moment well. I was two bites away from finishing a chicken and bacon ranch sub from SubWay(TM), and as the radio announcer said, "George W Bush announced the nomination of John Roberts to fill the O'Conner spot in the Supreme Court today," I spilled a large globule of Chipotle southwest sauce on my shirt. I swore and then turned my car towards home. Not because I was mad at the nomination, but because I had to change my clothes and I would likely be late. I was, in fact, late for work. And I blame George W. Bush for that....OK, not really.
Since that time I have engaged in several useless conversations about the man, and after all this time I still don't know what to think about the guy. I've said it again and again. Bloggers of the liberal variety rejected him out of hand, assuming he is anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black people, and anti-whatever it is they think they stand for. They have yet to provide real evidence to support their claims. Bloggers of the conservative variety have hailed his nomination as the second coming of "values" politics, and have thus predicted the slow death of Rowe vs Wade and gay rights and civil rights and tax and spend government.
The funny thing about bloggers is that our ranks are full of hopeless idiots. Every single one of them. Even me. We rant and we rave, we kick and we scratch, and at the end of the day we accomplish very little. William Shakespeare had us in mind when he spoke of a man who “struts and frets his hour upon the stage,” for ours truly is a tale told by an idiot. It just so happens that in opposition to Shakespeare’s singular idiot there stands a multitude of hopeless morons pounding their keyboards in rage at the newest and hottest political matière du jour.
Ann Coulter said it early on and, though it pains me to do so, I must agree. The scariest thing about this guy is that we know so little about him. He has but a few months’ experience as a judge and, before that, he argued as a run of the mill lawyer for the Reagan and Bush I administrations. He has said nothing that belies his true feelings one way or the other, over the entirety of his career.
Think about the last time you had a political conversation with a friend or a co-worker. Think about how often you make an ass of yourself on your website or a friend’s page. Think about how easy it would be to discern your political stance from the few words you have either stated out loud or written in confidence and then wonder how a man who has worked in public office his entire life can get away with the impression that he is wholly impartial on all subjects.
His evasiveness in the hearings made me wonder what kind of a person he truly is. He says he believes in law and law alone. He says that he will let the facts of the case and his interpretation of the Constitution decide merit in each instance. And that is fine. What bothers me is the idea that a man who has remained reticent on nearly every important subject throughout his entire life is now expected to equate his opinion with justice.
What bothers me is that he has apparently never stood for anything in his entire life. He passes the buck in each instance, stating that he defended this client or that client and never his own ideals. In short, he apparently has no backbone. A man with no backbone and a willingness to shy from decision-making of this magnitude can be easily bought.
This man will shortly become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Today is a good day. Today is the day that Neil Gaiman released his most recent book, Anansi Boys, to the teeming, unwashed masses of fans who like to pretend they aren’t really nerds but who also have a collection of pocket protectors and un-opened Luke Sywalker figurines stashed away in a hidden place somewhere at home. I am one of these people, except I don’t actually have the aforementioned items of modern geekery. I only wish I did.
After reading Neverwhere, and then reading and re-reading American Gods, neil Gaiman has shot to the top five list of authors whose books I will purchase, sight unseen, whenever their works are published. Another favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, released a book this month, catching me completely by surprise. This is understandable, however, given that he’s is practically 187 years old and has said on several occasions that he will never publish another word as long as he lives.
He’s a Socialist, though, so you can’t expect to hold him to any kind of standard.
I read the first chapter of Ananzi Boys this afternoon while eating lunch, and I am pleased to report that the book has thus far lived up to its predecessors. The main character, Fat Charlie, reminisces on the life of his father, who was a large man, fond of drink and women, whose nicknames for things followed them the rest of their days. The descriptions of Fat Charlie’s father seem like a Cajun version of Pan or Loki, but since Gaiman already used Loki in his last book (and if you haven’t read American Gods, I may have just given away the ending), I’m guessing this isn’t the case.
There is, of course, the obvious reference to the Ashanti Anansasem myths. His sister, Bia, appears in Greek mythology as the bird that eats Prometheus’s liver each morning as part of a punishment from Zeus. Bia goes under a different name there, but I think the Ashanti recognized it as the same. At any rate, there have been some mentions of birds as evil characters to be feared. Perhaps this will come into play. If a large man who goes by the name of Hercules or Heracles or perhaps just Harry shows up at the end and shoots Bia with an arrow, I will feel very intelligent and adept in my abilities to predict the outcome of the story. If not, oh well. It will be a good read nonetheless
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
There was even talk of having us perform it again for a group at Otterbein and maybe some group from OSU. Who knows what fun is soon to be had!
And now it is time for sleep. My head it doth spin and my feet they do ache. Bon soir mes amis.
In a move that many in Washington D.C. call "idiotic" and "just plain mean," George W. Bush has sent another Hurricane into the Gulf of Mexico and many believe he will direct it towards New Orleans area in order to "finish off the enemies of Amurka."
Monday, September 19, 2005
A Story from the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Amanda Bullington, 27, didn't go to prison. The Anderson Township woman was convicted of misdemeanor vehicular homicide for the June 16, 2004, crash that killed Tirzah Amrein, 72, a Greenhills woman on her way to the library.
Lost on Winton Road, Bullington picked up her cell phone to call for directions. She says she never even saw the red light at Cromwell Road.
Bullington was put on two years probation and fulfilled a community service order by visiting high schools and talking about what happened. She still visits schools, even though her community service is completed.
Bullington says students always think she's about to deliver another lecture. Then, they become riveted when she says she killed somebody when she took her eyes off the road for just one second.
She reminds them that driving is a privilege to be taken seriously. "It's the best thing to come out of this, even if I can just change one person's life," she says.
Bullington has talked to hundreds of students, but it never gets any easier.
She cries every time.
Tirzah Amrein was my grandmother. I'm glad to see that the woman who did this has learned from her mistakes and is doing something to educate others. That makes me smile.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Funny, isn't it?
Saturday, September 17, 2005
My roommate just left for Cincinnati. I told him that a bunch of us were planning to hit the Saturday evening church service and then maybe head out to a bar or a restaurant. Or maybe to somebody’s house where we can all partake in the alcoholic goodness of the Wild Turkey gold I purchased last evening.
Or maybe we’ll retreat to our homes and be lame. Who knows?
At any rate, church starts in three hours. I think I might try to head off for a walk around the neighborhood, because the weather this afternoon has that cool hint of autumn in the air, and the leaves on the trees are just beginning to dry out. The official date is still a week away, but for me, it starts today - fall, that is - and I am more than ready. I’ve been waiting for Fall since the dawn of time and now it is here. It’s like Christmas morning and Halloween and your birthday and Labor Day all rolled up into one.
And in this case, Labor Day and Christmas accentuate autumn on both ends, more or less, with my birthday smack dab in the middle right next to Halloween. It’s an orgy of holidays, one right after the other, and when its all over I’m left stranded for nine months, wondering why all the life went out of life and why the trees no longer dance their colored limbs across the sky.
But there’s no need to worry about the end and the onset of another terrible, depressive winter when fall is looking us directly in the face, taunting us, yelling at us to give chase and do our worst. Fall is the time of Harvest. Fall is the time of death. Fall is the time when all your debts are called in, when the wind blows through the tress like a madman and when the world changes colors right before your very eyes.
Acid Freaks feel most comfortable in the Fall. And so do I.
I spoke with President Bush the other day, and he told me that he’s a big fan of Fall as well. “I love it!” he screamed at me. “It’s like Armageddon. It’s like the end of the world. People are so obsessed with sports and school and holidays and fun that they don’t pay attention to what’s going on the world. That’s when you got ‘em. That’s when you can do anything.”
The bastard was right. Like an all-encompassing Bacchus festival, nobody pays attention to anything or anyone but themselves once the weather goes cold and the colors melt. Rampant selfishness and senseless debauchery rule the day as we await the frozen loneliness of Ohio’s mad winter.
Demons run through the streets with reckless abandon, killing, raping and pillaging with a passion unequaled in the annals of human history. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, bad craziness has returned. Its time for another year of death, dismemberment and senseless debauchery. So put on your plastic faces, grab a bottle of whiskey, and light something on fire.
Fall is here and the world is about to end. You might as well enjoy it.
At least, I’m not getting paid to do this. Which begs the question of why I am, in fact, doing this.
He seems like a nice enough guy, and on his website he posts this about himself:
“I'm a retired/disabled, semi-skilled laborer who grew up as a Roman CatholicNormally I wouldn’t post somebody else’s words without first asking them, but he has these right out on the front of his website. Plus, from what I read, he seems to be rather lighthearted about life and does not appear to be the sort who gets riled up over something as pointless and stupid as a blog; especially one like mine, which epitomizes these characteristics.
son of liberal, card carrying union members. I've since morphed into an
conservative-libertarian (small l) atheist who thinks unions have outlived their
usefulness, or at least been corrupted by the NEA, AFSCME and SEIU into
something that trade unionists from seventy-five to one hundred years ago
He seems like an interesting person, like the kind of person with whom I would agree on many issues and disagree on others. He morphed from liberal/religious to conservative non-religious. That’s an interesting mix, one you don’t see too often. Politics and religious belifes tend to go hand in hand in this country (sadly) and it is rare that you find a person who not only mixes the two apparent opposites, but has switched sides on both. This tells me that he is a person who can look at an issue from all sides and speak intelligently and critically about many things. This I respect.
We would have some heartfelt agreements on many things, the largest example of which is the lack of faith in the current status of unions in the US. Being a former member of SEIU local (number deleted for fear of retribution), I can tell you first hand how the people involved do not care one iota for the employees they claim to protect. When I started working at that particular job, I sought information about meetings and charities and all sorts of things you would expect a union to do. They did not respond. I e-mailed and called for over six months with no response. So I dropped out of the union, choosing instead to pay the “fair share” dues (which are a bit less), because I figured that if they were going to be assholes, I would rather not give them my money. Then the 2004 election came (after several years of no responses from the union with regard to a littany of grievances from myself and others in my department) and all of a sudden they wanted to know why I was not logner interested in supporting my union brethren. They also wanted to know who I planned to vote for and if I would like to make a donation to the John F. Kerry campaign. I told them I did not plan to vote for Kerry and I asked them not to call me again.
They called me at least ten times a day for over four months, oftentimes threatening me with job loss if I didn’t vote for John Kerry. At one point they went through a whole list of false accusations against Bush, and followed it up with the question, “So have I conviced you that Bush is not right for the country?”
I said, “That’s it! You got me. I won’t vote for Bush this year!”
“Way to go, brother,” the man said. And this was creepy since people don’t normally refer to a white man as “brother” unless they are trying to sell you something or unless they want you to join a cult
He finished: “Can I count on you to vote for John Kerry, then?”
“No, actually,” I said. “I think I’m going to vote for Curt Schilling.”
“Curt Schilling! You know, the pitcher for the Red Sox? He’s got the lowest earned run average of any candidate in the mix. And did you see that bloody sock in the world series. Man, if that ain’t leadership I don’t know what is!”
He hung up on me after that.
So, yeah, the Fatman and I would get along well in this regard. The religion issue might be different. I’m sure we’d still get along well enough because I’m an easygoing guy and he seems the same. Large people tend not to get too terribly excited. We’re too worried about heart attacks and such. It’s best to keep the blood pressure as low as possible.
So while I bet we would disagree on religion, I’m sure we could have some fun conversations!
Friday, September 16, 2005
I was on the Uncle Al television show when I was a kid. But then, everybody was on the Uncle Al show when they were a kid. I remember telling my teacher and she said, “So what…I was on when I was a kid, too!”
ZINZINNATI (Aug. 25, 2005) — Uncle Al and Captain Windy, stars of the longest-running children’s show in television history — 1950 to 1985 — will lead the World’s Largest Chicken Dance and Hokey Pokey at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, at the 30th annual Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati, North America’s largest authentic Oktoberfest.
Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken honored Al and Wanda Lewis of Hillsboro today at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse by proclaiming Aug. 25, 2005, as "Uncle Al and Captain Windy Day in Cincinnati" and presented them with a key to the city. The proclamation read in part: "Whereas, Uncle Al’s bow tie and straw hat, and Captain Windy’s cape, will forever be cherished in Cincinnati as icons of a golden era of television and of the very best in American family values."
Al and Wanda first met in a drawing class at the Cleveland School of Art in 1945. In 1949 Al joined WCPO-TV, then a fledgling television station in Cincinnati, and in July of that year Al and Wanda were married. From 1957 to 1958, The Uncle Al Show was broadcast nationally on ABC on Saturday mornings on 130 stations coast to coast Uncle Al and Captain Windy recently were inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for having the longest running children’s show in the United States. And acclaimed movie star Johnny Depp cited Uncle Al as an inspiration for his role in the recent children’s blockbuster, "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory."
Uncle Al and Captain Windy will lead the World’s Largest Chicken Dance and Hokey Pokey from the main Oktoberfest-Zinzinnati entertainment stage between Broadway and Sentinel on Fifth Street — near Procter & Gamble at the eastern edge of the event. Fountain Square reconstruction has shifted the entertainment focus of this year's Oktoberfest to the eastern edge of Downtown. Their appearance is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17.
Here’s an interesting story. One of my college roommates mentioned that he was on the Uncle Al show as a child. We both shared the sentiment that everybody we knew had been on the show. He got a picture of the even the day he was there and, lo and behold, it was the exact same day I was on the show. I knew, because I was in the picture as well.
I guess Walt Disney was right. It really is a small world after all
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Christy was raised by a colony of anteaters in the Highlands of Scotland, and she remained there until she was banished from her clan at the spry age of ten due to a nasty political dispute involving differing theories of economic stability and the best techniques for tearing down ant hills. After short stints with both the off-Broadway production of "Bozo the Clown: the untold story" and a traveling summer carnival in Texas run by a fiery midget, she settled in Columbus to seek happiness and a higher socio-economic status than she would have known with her family of anteaters back in Scotland. Christy has memorized every episode of "The Gilmore Girls" from each of the first two seasons, and she can recite the scripts on command at twice the normal speed if you ask her nicely or threaten to use her DVD collection as frisbees. She also memorized the value of pi out the 457 th decimal place in order to win a bet, the winnings from which she used to pay off an exorbitant cell phone bill and to buy an extra large helping of fried rice which, according to Christy, is sweetly similar to the delectable tenderness of Scottish ants.
Despite a promising career as a circus freak due to his uncanny ability to fit anything up to and including a big screen TV in his mouth, Phil was eventually forced to seek full-time employment in order to feed his beer and pool habits. A talented chef, wine-drinker, moron-baiter, and Mexican wave-initiator, Phil finally discovered his true calling as a drummer while beating a competitor for the last pool table at the local pub. This competitor happened to be wearing a particularly percussive hat. Phil also contributes to the local arts scene with his outstanding free association poetry, the finest example of which being the renowned, "I've fallen down the stairs. I was up the stairs, but now I'm down the stairs. Here I am. This is where I am". In addition to his burgeoning career in the dramatic arts, Phil's one-man drum performances can be seen weekly on the public access show "Columbus Freaks." Phil once ate fifteen grilled cheese sandwiches in one sitting, but he doesn't like to talk about this incident and prefers that you not mention it to others.
A well-known teenage daredevil by the age of five, Ben specialized in diving head-first off large tables, and also removing and then discarding the front wheel of his stunt bike just after leaving high jump ramps. This may account for his rugged and "chiselled" appearance, and also goes some way towards explaining his superbly unreliable memory. Having been a fan of professional wrestling since three years before his birth, Ben recently attempted to start a wrestling career as "The Tiny Torch" with the local amateur circuit. He abandoned this dream when an opponent knocked out his teeth and shaved obscenities into his hair with a pair of clippers while he sat unconscious in the corner. Heavily involved in the technical side of dramatics, Ben independently discovered dry ice after weeks of fruitless experimentation with a hairdryer and a fridge-freezer. Ben's best friends once claimed that he should be shot and killed, and then brought back to life by some strange, voodoo séance so he could be shot and killed again. Strangely, Ben agrees.
Born at the age of sixteen on the plaza level at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Joe was considered unusually intelligent by people who didn't know any better. Gifted with a musical ear (just one, though), and a natural love of languages, Joe can play any instrument at least as proficient as a two year old, and he has learned nearly two thirds of all world dialects. Unfortunately, he lost a large portion of his memory after a failed attempt at a stage dive at a Dave Matthews Band concert in 1998. Now, all he can say is "May I please borrow your yak?" in Italian while incessantly whistling the theme song to "The Andy Griffith Show." His favorite color is blue, he is a huge baseball fan, and he is also fond of Homemade Brand Cookies N Cream ice cream. So if you get the chance, buy him some. He will love you forever
Laurie received full scholarships to both Yale and Harvard Universities after scoring a perfect 1600 on her S.A.T. But she quit the academic life after only a semester, choosing instead to pursue a lucrative career as the preeminent DJ in the New York area under the name Acid Hip Boom Boom Funk, playing a strange combination of fusion jazz, hip hop, and bluegrass country music. The crowds went nuts after hearing this new and exciting blend. As Leonard Nimoy once said, "it makes the kids crazy and it drives the parents insane!" Acid Hip Boom Boom Funk gave it all up, however, after she lost her life savings trying to start a record label for gangsta rappers who specialize in Irish clog dancing. She changed her name back to Laurie and returned home to resume her old job as the third shift delivery driver for Cut-Rate Pizza Co. She also took a new position as the lead chef for Ay-augh!, a soon to open four-star restaurant that specializes in Bangor, Maine cuisine. Laurie enjoys bass fishing and managerial accounting, and she is the undefeated Franklin county staring contest champion three years running. She mandates that her new restaurant play an eclectic blend of music whenever she works, and she smiles whenever she hears a unique blend of thumping base and twinkling banjo.
Everything was fine. Work was slow, FatQuest2 was going along smoothly, and I had lulled myself into daydreaming about a thinner, more muscular sasquatch who attracted women by the thousands with a flicker of his perfectly formed bicep.
Then it happened. Disaster struck. I went to a friend's house after work this evening after not having eaten in nearly 6 hours. My stomach grumbled like the Mount St Helends and my mind reeled at the countless hours spent without having eaten. I vowed to fix a couple of nice chicken breasts after visiting my friend, but when I arrived at his house I was shocked to see that he had ordered pizza. Three pizzas, in fact. With mushrooms and extra cheese. He stood before me like Eve with the golden apple that eventually brought hte fall of man and I, like the countless others before me, gave in to temptation and took part in the fat-laden goodness therein.
But all is not lost, my friends. If the Bible teaches us anything it is that we can come back from disastrous defeat to find greater glory, provided we seek our strength from a higher power. And we can learn from our mistakes.
When I got home this evening, I went for my usual walk and by the time I got home I felt amazing. I glanced at the clock and found that I had bested my 55 minute goal by three whole minutes. My legs felt like tree trunks and my arms felt like wright iron. I felt like Samson in his prime.
Except bald. And fat. And not Jewish.
I made a mistake, yes. But this mistake is not the end. No no no! It is merely a road bump in the road to better heath. Fear not, fair reader. Soon the pounds will fly off with lightening speed and a newer, thinner sasquatch will emerge from the cocoon of lard to take the land by storm.
Just you wait and see!
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
For instance, take this post by the nutjobs over at Pandagon. They link to this story about the jackasses who owned and ran a nursing home in New Orleans that was destroyed in hurricane Katrina. Despite warnings from public officials and news outlets and several other people, the owners did not help their tenants leave. As you may have guessed, nearly everybody in the nursing home died in the storm and the ensuing floods. Pandagon claims that this is just another example of racism, because the media did not take the time to mention how this travesty was a result of the owner’s whiteness.
Here is how the logic is supposed to flow. According to the good people at pandagon, whenever the media mentions something bad that happened when black people are involved, it is racism. Therefore, the reporters who unearthed this story, because they did not mention the owner’s race with disdain, are equally as racist.
It’s a catch 22 for journalists these days, apparently. If the media reports that a black person is looting, it is racism regardless of whether the person in question was, in fact looting. If a white person does something bad and the media does not mention that this is due to the person’s race, then this is somehow racist. Truth, apparently, has little to do with it.
This is all part of a larger problem. At the beginning of his post, Jesse says he’s going to explain why liberals continue to harp on the apparent cloud of racism that surrounds the Katrina disaster, but he doesn’t really offer an explanation. He just assumes that the driving factor behind the disaster and our lack of response is racism. He truly believes that the underlying reason so many people have lost so much is not because of how powerful the storm was or because the Bush administration didn’t plan disaster relief as effectively as they should have or that local governments didn’t prepare or take an active role. He truly believes that the driving force is racism. As though George W Bush and the rest of the conservative mafia had been waiting for just such a predicament to really stick it to the black man.
Such an idea is preposterous; offensively so.
Racism does exist; there is no doubt about that. In fact, racism exists in all facets of life from the highest government officials to the poorest, most destitute person in the slums of New York City. But to assume, as people like Jesse Taylor tend to do, that there is a vast racist conspiracy behind every door and under every rock cheapens the advances that have been made and lessens our ability to address racism when we actually encounter it. It makes the problem of racism seem much larger than it actually is, and it allows true racists to hide in plain sight.
If we are to believe, as Jesse does, that the largest problem of the Katrina disaster is a racial one, there is no way for us to come together and address the vast array of other problems that have risen as a result. They believe we are racist, remember, and people like us are never to be trusted.
There are several real problems, if anybody is interested. It seems that our emergency response has weakened severely since 9/11, and the Bush administration has not exactly put the right people in charge of the right agencies. You’d think he’d be all over that since it criticizes Bush.
Worst of all, Jesse neglects the true tragedies of the individual. Pandagon’s response to the fact that 34 people died due to the negligence of a couple of hapless morons said nothing of how horrible the situation was. They didn’t call for continued effort to support and help Gulf Coast peoples who have been displaced. They didn’t remind us that we need to offer monetary assistance for groups like the Red Cross and stormaid.com who are still working to save lives. No. They looked at the faces of those who are suffering and they played a race card. They threw a political jab and an opponent who isn’t even in the same ring.
And people wonder why Democrats can’t get elected.
There is some good news, though. It seems that the Kuwaitis have offered $500 million in assistance. This is in addition to the $700 million offered by Americans. That’s some love right there.
I woke up this morning and my knees screamed at me.
“What the hell you are doing to us?” they yelled at the top of their non-existent lungs.
“What do you mean?” I asked them.
“What’s with all the exercise? Why all the walking?”
“I need to loose weight again.”
“But I thought you were all done with that,” the left one said.
“Yeah,” the right one said with a tint of worry in its voice. “Why are we starting all that again?”
“In case you haven’t noticed,” I said, “but we haven’t exactly reached out goal.”
“What’s this we crap, fatty,” Left Knee said. “You’re on your own this time. Remember that beer vending experiment?”
“Um,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Right. “Everything was going along well and then you tried to be a beer vendor for the Reds.”
“That was two months from hell, let me tell you,” said Left.
“Really,” said Right. “What kind of stuff were you smokin’ that actually allowed you to believe you could carry your already gargantuan frame up and down steep ballpark steps while carrying four cases of cheap beer?”
“It was the money,” I said. “I made $300 a game. You can find the energy and the courage to do pretty much anything at that rate.”
“You’ve got a point,” they said.
“Look guys, I’ll do my best to make things easy on you. No more 10 mile walks through the wilderness and no more jumping jacks. I’ll stay on level ground, I’ll give you at least one day of rest each week, and I’ll even try that sugar-free jello trick Suzanne kept telling us about.”
“Hey, she was hot!” said Left.
“Dude,” said Right. “That’s not right. We were her boss.”
“So what,” said Left. “It doesn’t stop her from being hot.”
“You’ve got a point there,” said Right, and we all laughed.
So now that my knees are on board with FatQuest2™, it seems that things are well underway. Now all I need to do is convince my stomach, which has retreated to a corner to whimper, and my intestinal system, which has protested mightily at all the influx of fiber.
I might have a battle on my hands with those two, but I think that with enough coaxing they’ll eventually come around.
…and now for something completely different…
I followed a young woman and very large man into the elevator on the way into work this morning. The young woman retreated to the back of the elevator car, but the man stood in the center, taking up most of the space. I tried to move around him but, being an extra for the movie “Remember the Titans” myself, this proved difficult. The man, noticing my struggle, smiled apologetically and said, “Here…let me get my J.Lo out of the way!”
I just thought that was funny. But now I’m not sure why.
If only I never had to work. Imagine all I could accomplish!
So I woke up at 8:00 A.M., and went outside for a jog. At 8:03 A.M., I returned home, having twisted my knee and ankle on the curb at the end of my driveway. In the long trek from my front door to the asphalt of the road upon which I live, I came to a realization. That realization was that the pair of New Balance gym shoes that have been a part of my life since college are no longer fit to serve in the Fatman army. They were there with me through several hundred rounds of Frisbee golf. They pounded the pavement as I ran from the homeless man in Clifton who thought I was his long lost son, and they sat patiently with me as I finished the last final of my college career. They have served me well. I could feel my throat clenching and I fought back tears as I carried them to the garbage bin behind my house and I say a silent goodbye as I turned my back on my trust, cracked leather companions. In the distance I could hear somebody playing taps gently.
The death of Ye Olde Snaekers meant that I needed to go out to the store to pick up a new pair. Naturally, I procrastinated for most of the day, and when my roommate woke up at 5:00 in the afternoon, we decided to play another game of Frisbee golf and then make our way over to DSW in search of discount shoes. Chad settled on a pair of Airwalks that will likely break down into threads within a month, and I settled upon a shiny new pair of New Balance 500 cross trainers. They were on sale for $38.50, which is slightly less than what I paid for a gallon of gas. What a deal!
When we got home, I decided to take my new shoes out for a test run. I made sure to exit through the front door, however, so I wouldn’t have to listen to the muffled cries of my old shoes as they waited for a slow and painful death, which will come this Thursday when the garbage man arrives and grinds them to a pulp.
The walk was a good one. I went down Ferris to Karl, turned north, then crossed the street at the light and headed west towards Maize avenue. Now, it was my intention to turn at the first street, make a quick jaunt around the small neighborhood, and return home poste haste. I had played Frisbee golf earlier, mind you, and I didn’t want to risk injuring myself, thus facing an early end to the Fatquest.
Fatman Tip #1: An injury early on in your Fatquest will almost assuredly break your spirit and will leave you with at least a week of time to sit on the couch, eat Doritos, and contemplate how abysmally stupid this whole weight loss idea really is. Avoid injury at all costs, especially early on. It spells death for any burgeoning weight loss adventurer, leaving you at the mercy of fast food and high sodium beverages.
Those of you who know me best know that I am not good with directions. I was never a Boy Scout, I rarely understand road signs and, to me, maps are about as helpful as Britney Spears lyrics written in Chinese. I once got lost driving home from work in my hometown of Cincinnati and spent three hours tooling around the seedier sections of Over the Rhine, constantly swearing at myself for missing my turn.
So it should come as no surprise to you that I got lost and spent an hour and a half wandering around a cookie cutter neighborhood spewing obscenities and avoiding traffic, which whizzed by at excessively high rates of speed. I eventually made it home shortly before 1am and, if my calculations are correct, I probably walked nearly 6 miles.
That isn’t bad for a fat man!
Today, I took a stroll around the perimeter of Easton during my lunch break. After play practice this evening, I came home and walked what I believe will be my usual path: two parallel streets right next to my house that run between Karl and Cleveland Ave. It’s a three and a half mile walk and it took me only an hour and 5 minutes to cover that distance. There is little traffic, which means I can walk on the asphalt in the middle of the street (thus avoiding upended sidewalks and unseen ditches).
When I got home this evening, my hat was drenched in sweat and my legs ached in that strange way that lets you know that, while they enjoyed the exercise, they probably could have put up with a little bit more.
Tomorrow, I’m shooting for 55 minutes. If things go well, I might add another mile by the end of the month. I might also try purchasing some handweights for lifting in the morning. And pushups! All of this, coupled with the salad and vegetables I recently purchased from the Kroger Deli, should put me well onto the narrow path of sickening healthiness that is my new and vastly improved Fatquest 2.
And the truth of the matter is that this time I am excited as hell!
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
But truth has a way of making itself heard, no matter how far into your ears you can plunge your fingers while loudly singing, “La La La…I can’t hear you.”
Last weekend I went to dinner with some friends. We sat on the patio in the warm, late summer sun. With the armrests of the wicker-esque chairs digging into the sides of my legs and sweat running down my forehead like the Nile overrunning its banks, I could no longer avoid the nasty truth: I am fat again.
Four years ago, I stepped onto a scale and read the number out loud to myself. Three hundred sixty pounds. Say that again, just for effect. Feel it roll of the tongue and hang in the air about your head. Three…Hundred…Sixty. That number confirmed for me what my family and my doctors could not do with their incessant pleading and pointing and screaming. I was a fat bastard.
When we left the restaurant, I wedged myself out of my seat and limped on weak ankles and crushed knees across the parking lot to my car, wheezing the whole way. I was afraid that I had let myself get back to the horrible condition in which I spent a large portion of my life.
I was so scared that I went straight home and tried on my fat pants. The fat pants were the only pair of dress pants that fit me when I was at my largest. Luckily, they were still entirely too big for me, but they didn’t feel quite as tent-like as they have in the past.
I don’t have a scale, so I don’t know what I weigh exactly. At my best, I had made it all the way down to 235. At that point, I was wearing 38 inch waist blue jeans and single XL shirts that billowed at the midsection and strained across my shoulders (if I ever get back into weightlifting, my upper body will truly be a magnificent sight to see!). Now, I stretch out XXL shirts after washing them, just to make sure they don’t shrink too much, and I can fit into a pair of 42 inch waist pants if I suck in my gut and speak falsetto. I’d guess that puts me somewhere around 280 or 290, which means I have a long way to go if I hope to ever make it down to a reasonable weight.
In “The Fatman Chronicles part 1,” I kept a journal of what happened on a daily basis as I waded through a sea of fresh vegetables and diet soda, muscle building exercises and the endless miles of roads I trekked in my quest to loose the extra few tires I had accumulated around my midsection. So I’m doing it again! And I hope you’ll join me. You might not make it out on the road for the late night walks through dangerous neighborhoods, and you probably won’t choose brussel sprouts over pizza, but at the very least you can read this journal and make fun of me as best you can.
Because if Saturday Night Live has taught us anything it’s that fat people, by their very definition, exist for our enjoyment and our ridicule. (*please note…I don’t believe this about all fat people…just me!*).
So, without further adieu, I bring you the first of what will be many FATMAN CHRONICLES!
Monday, September 12, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
1) Caffeinated orange juice.
2) The four day work week (No-work Mondays for everybody!)
3) No-fee ATM’s
4) Houses built on pontoons for those people living near flood-prone planes.
5) Cars that run on crappy music: an endless energy source!
6) Did I mention the four day work week?
7) Shorter lines at the supermarket.
8) No more movies starring Ben Affleck and more movies starring Selma Hayek.
9) The shortening of important lists from 10 to 9.
Vote Sasquatch, the BIG IDEA candidate in 2008, because you weren’t going to vote anyway and at least with me you have additional sources of caffeine!
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
Later that day, I read a comment from Rush Limbaugh who claimed that he had little sympathy for the people hardest hit by the hurricane because they should have got out when they had the chance. He said that President Bush wasn’t to blame for the problem; rather, it was the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana who should bear the brunt of responsibility for their inability to manage the situation. He then went on a tirade about global warming, claiming it did not exist and that we should focus our money on smaller government in order to prevent future catastrophes. Because higher taxes, apparently, cause the suffering we now see from the people in the south.
I heard Dennis Hastert say to the people of New Orleans, who are currently sitting atop a pile of rubble and billions of gallons of water that used to be their homes, that their city, their homes, and their lives weren’t worth the effort it would take to rebuild.
I heard people on political blogs blame each other for their lack of involvement and for having the wrong attitude.
I heard co-workers joke about people who’s lives have been ruined, claiming that everything has happened because of “those fuckin’ Democrats” or “those shithead Republicans.”
I wanted to stop listening, but I couldn't. Because through all the bullshit I wanted to see what the people of New Orleans had to say. I wanted to see if their voices could be heard over the constant screaming and bickering and pontificating and posturing. I wanted to see if they had any input for this new and exciting political issue du jour.
And amidst the cacophony of stupidity and uselessness, I heard it; faint and quiet, though insistent and terribly afraid. What they had to say was this: Help us. Please. For the love of God, help us.
Then the bickering started again and the voices mixed with the ambient undercurrent to create a buzz in my ear that made no sense. They’re still out there somewhere, I think. But it looks like nobody is listening.