Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dallas, we have a problem...

This is a sports post.

Ramblings Post #207
I think if we start now, maybe use kickstarter and give it year, I think we can raise enough money to buy the team. If all the fans kicked in say a five bucks a week, then we could do it like Green Bay, have like a community owned team, and by community I mean the fan community. Because we need to do something. Can you start a kickstarter to buy a pro football team? Football is a kind of being creative. 

How do I know that my team, yes, MY TEAM... and I'm saying it like I own a piece of the team and have keys to the bathroom in the owners suite... how do I know that my team has a problem?  Because DeMarco Murray is has only just been eclipsed as the rushing leader for the team...and he hasn't carried the ball during a game in SIX WEEKS! Which means that for all intents and purposes the Dallas Cowboys don't have the running game of a team in the Lingerie Football League.

People like to pick on my boys, the terms and words I've heard used to describe them make think of English hooligans at times, as well as shout from the roof tops how bad a QB Tony Romo is. But the reality is that most QBs would be hard pressed to play at the same level. The defenses the Cowboys face almost treat the idea of having to stop the run as an afterthought. Romo drops back almost an average of 42 times a game, with the last few games pass attempts going as high as 62. Which in that game was over 80% of the plays. This means the opposing linebackers can drop back into coverage automatically, defensive backs never have to peer into the backfield and the defensive line can steady pass rush with little worry. This kind of play calling only creates problems for yourself. Oh wither mine Cowboys.

Oddly it's as if the Cowboys don't trust the running game.  And I say oddly because the team has only THREE rushing fumbles all season versus Romo's FIFTEEN interceptions. And two of those fumbles from rushing are by Romo during scrambles. So one rushing fumble all year. Is the salary cap so tight that they can't cut the running backs they do have, but apparently don't trust, and get some people in who they feel comfortable carrying the ball? And how much more comfortable do they have to feel? Negative fumbles?

I swear I thought the Jones boys were supposed to be businessmen. Jerry is treating the whole thing like a hobby, still playing at General Manager after all these years because he wants to be able to say "he did it" if they win another Superbowl. How many real football management teams has he run off? It's said that everything is big in Texas, but I don't think Jerry Jones ego would even fit in that cathedral to football he's built. Or maybe, because of the contract structure of the league he's still making money...so he just doesn't really give a [censored].

Barkeep, a glass of old Kentucky rye, I'm going to start looking into a restraining order to see if I can keep Jerry away from my team.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Quick Restaurant Review - RA Sushi

I've been the house for more than a minute lately. It is partly trying to fill in this lull between when I had hoped to take the bar and when I am planning to take the bar with practical things and exercises. Things that will improve my abilities. That instead of trying to "build a time machine" out of the Atlanta nightlife and see if I can get my youth back. I've become to some degree bookish.  Tinkering with a few projects to keep my mind functioning. A bit of a homebody if you will.

I've become so ensconced that when Serve hit me up and suggested we go out for sushi, I honestly was scared going out would mess up my evening routine. This in case you're reading...is a bad thing. Real live person v. internet and TV. And some writing. So I threw on some shoes and headed out to midtown.

Ah, Midtown. When I first got to Atlanta ages ago (late 90's), still only halfway kinda knowing folks, before I hooked up with the guy who would eventually be my Running Partner and his boys, I had a fairly simple, nicely planed Friday night in Midtown. That all of these places are now closed and mostly forgotten says how far the city has come. First, The Martini Bar. It was a little old house turned bar that had live jazz upstairs and served 20 different kinds of martinis. I would hang out there until Club Kaya opened, where I would ply my pickup techniques until it got late. After I would walk back down to Vickery's Bar and Grill and get a burger and fries. Good Times. All gone.

Back to now.  Midtown is still a bunch of hot spots and eateries, I just haven't been there lately. RA Sushi is at the south end of the Crescent Ave area, actually where Kaya once stood now that I think about it. The outside is all corporate, but the inside is all brown wood and red accents, with a sushi bar up front and a real bar in the far left corner. It could be warm and cozy if the room was a bit dimmer, but as it stands its kinda like a faux atmosphere instead. Or maybe it was just that night.

Serve had picked the place because it had a happy hour, and then fifteen percent off, and then as it turned out a eighties theme party going on, which meant even more a discount. Which explained why there was a picture of Tupac on the wall and they were playing old R&B. There was a tense moment early, when it appeared as if three girls who could have been classmates of Lil Sal and who arrived ten minutes after us looked like they were going to get served first, but our waitress arrived just in the nick of time. Whew.

The menu. Ah...well, here's the thing. You been to one sushi place, you've pretty much been to them all. Rice, fish, toppings and viola! Sushi! We got a round of drinks, I got a California roll and grilled short ribs off the special while Serve ordered the RAckin Shrimp and the edamame. I tasted a few of the shrimp, it wasn't a bad dish. The ribs were way too greasy and fatty. The California roll was....oh, you've had a California roll, same thing. I did mean to try a Las Vegas roll, but I forgot. Serve ordered something else which we split...but it was so blah I can't even remember what it was. Maybe the Lobster Shrimp Roll? I dunno.

That speaks volumes, doesn't it?

The meal was a thank you for a project of hers I'd been working on, one which the previous person she'd employed had left a mess. She figured she could trust me after my notes on what the other person had done wrong mirrored that of actual expert in the field she'd consulted. Oddly, we didn't talk about that. We talked mostly about getting old because we recognized ALL the songs, bad relationships among our mutual friends and what I'll need to do after I take the bar.

All in all a good night. A few drinks, a few laughs, good music and I was home to catch the Thursday night game still in the first quarter. Now don't that beat all? Well, it was the Bills versus the Dolphins...so, we technically could have hung out a little bit longer.  So, RA sushi. Well, you might want to see if it's a theme night...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"You cheated by winning!" screamed the loser...

This is a political post.

In the aftermath of what was the most contentious presidential election in modern history - with
attack ads, voter suppression efforts, bold faced lies and willful deceit, we have apparently learned one thing : Absolutely nothing. We are right back where we were some two years ago, only now a bit less polite about it.
GOP accuses Obama of fruit theft from Job Creator
The entire affair reminds me of a high school fight, where one combatant has "talked up his game" only to get knocked around and finally suplexed in the hallway by the cafeteria. Right in front of the cheerleaders. And then, instead of lying their quietly and feigning injury or perhaps re-evaluating their life choices, they stagger to their feet and still woozy and yell "Is that all you got?"

The reasons being floated by Conservatives for the Democratic win of the Presidency are mind boggling, ranging from the President won because the "urban" (read as black) voter turnout was high to the "white establishment " now being the minority to the President handing out goodies to minorities as political bribes. It's as though they want you to believe the Chapelle Show reparations skit was about to come to life. What's most significant is not that these theories are constructed to de-legitimitze the election results, that's expected, but it is that they're coming from Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the top pundits at Fox News and not the far right wing fringe.

Despite the reality bubble that conservatives had constructed for themselves completely collapsing - they're simply continuing to hold onto "the faith."They're not out of step with the majority, the whole thing was all a trick! People love us! In fact, they're not only still living in the rubble of that bubble, they're building a new one, using as the foundation a conspiracy about Benghazi, who knew what when, and trying desperately to inflate the Patraeus side piece story into something they can impeach the President for. Because they so want to. Really they do.

Only Newt Gingrich is making the rational argument and instead of asking what's wrong with the
electorate, instead suggesting a reexamination of conservative policy. The rest who are even suggesting any change at all are more along of the lines of a need for some touch up paint around the edges to soften the message. Not change the message...just change how it's told.

Instead of even the beginnings of cooperation, we have the Conservatives...lead by the conservative entertainment complex (phrase via David Frum)... heading right back down the rabbit hole, seeking a nice "comfort conspiracy" to soothe themselves of the crazy idea that their message no longer resonates with the majority of Americans. Benghazi! We have people who screamed USA at the top of the lungs at political rallies filing petitions to secede simply because the majority of country sees the future of the country differently. My "new" conservative black friend still posts things like a picture of the President playing golf, pointing out his leisure while people still haven't recovered from Hurricane Sandy - as though the President should be up a pole stringing power cables or personally guiding the operations (which of course would be evidence of him being power mad). Nothing has changed.

We're back to the kid in the hall. Bleeding, staggering, missing a tooth, totally embarrased...shouting at the guy who just finished beating on him... "Oh, you scared?" 

So, several billion dollars and two years...just to get us back to here. Absolutely nothing.
2014 people. Because stress is like...damn.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

That Damn Batman....Returns.

This is a political post.

Excuse me, I have an engagement that...just came up.
I read online somewhere a suggestion that we just scrap the electoral college and go to a straight popular vote...if only so we never have to hear about Ohio and Florida at election time again. That the fate of the nation comes down to eight to ten states every time is telling as to the makeup of this country. But as I watched the analysts crunch the data, explaining to the talking heads how they could confidently call races with so much of the vote still outstanding, the astounding work the Obama campaign became clearly evident. The creation of the idea of Romney as a blank slate who would hold firm no position only appeared to have been their opening salvo, but the real plan was a precision targeted effort in those crucial demographics in the key states, some four years in the making that was, dare I say it...a plan straight out of the Batcave. Batman Obama. 

The goddamn Batman.

But in the end, we have the same President, facing the same congress. Are we not in the same position we were just a few months ago? Are we not still in a gridlocked struggle for the future of a country?

Yes and no.

One can only hope the early cracks in the conservative assessment that showed last night as I flipped through the coverages (MSNBC, Fox, CNN, CSPAN, TV1, Comedy Central) grow into great fault lines of blame. Some are arguing that the GOP went too far to the right and turned off the moderates. Others are suggesting they didn't go far enough, and should become even more conservative. That a president who supports gay marriage and women's rights was reelected should be the first clue in that..er, discussion. And as someone who thinks the ideologues and extremists have hijacked the party, a internal civil war might initially shrink the party, but could get the Republicans back into a position to appeal to those moderates who always struggle to decide. It may even result in a legitimate three party system.  

But it is the fiscal cliff, as it's being called, that will force some hands quickly. With the sequester looming, and the President relatively immune to the political fallout for the foreseeable future, a lot of cards are about to fall onto the table that weren't supposed to. This, and the effect the machine may have had on the Republican reality bubble may be the first step to change in this country. 

Now as the Tea Party reshuffles (one only hopes it becomes a footnote in history) and the conservative leadership comes to grips with the idea that they've starting buying into their own bullshit - Romney didn't even have a concession speech prepared! - the realization that change has to come if they wish to remain relevant becomes painfully obvious. The Obama campaign machine wrecked nearly every conservative pundit concept put forward through the past few weeks. And it promises more in the future. The map was NOT the territory. This is a reality. The problem is that they have demonized their enemies and turn viciously on even the slightest deviations. This fracture with dogma and reality may be enough to get a conversation started between the outliers and Democrats, which could start a trend. Or so we hope.

Most importantly, this victory also means that the Supreme Court may come to better reflect the mores of the world today than those of thirty years ago and Ronald Regan. No doubt some of the more staunchly conservative justices who had recently flirted with retirement are now about to rethink their positions. But as they enter their late 70s it is only a matter of time before age and fatigue catch up to them. And a shift of these nine unelected "tribal fathers" might border on tectonic for the future of the country.  

The last question - as my brother put it - is if the machine is truly a "Democratic Machine", or just an Obama Machine. The Republicans are already looking ahead to 2014 and 2016. And although Obamas are now out of the game - they like the Clintons, are going to cast a long shadow...for a long time. The search or "grooming" of the next candidate begins now.

Because that's how Batman does things. 

I just like this pic. I do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bar Chatter

Bar Chatter #28
Sometimes it's not enough to make a whole post...but still it deserves to be said.

I voted. And now we wait.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Election 2012 - The Endgame

This is a political post.

As we enter the endgame of the 2012 presidential race the campaigns are furiously at work trying to gather as many of the swing state hearts and minds as they can. I feel a little sorry for the people of Ohio. It promises to be a fight to the finish.

 And I have no idea why.

When is the alligator lurking in political swamp going to snap? Mitt's been dancing in a veritable alligator farm for the last...well, since forever really. Is Fox News really that good?

That Romney has lied to the people of the swing state of Ohio, in claiming that Jeep is moving its operations to China  AND THEY KNOW HE LIED appears to have had no effect. I am amazed that even after the company refuted the allegation - in fact revealing plans to create even more jobs - the campaign has continued to press this as a failure of the current administration's policies. One would have imagined that bold faced lying by a candidate would cause a something of a shift in the polls... but apparently not. No alligator.

One would think that Romney having completely changed his tune about FEMA,  five minutes after the "wind shifted"  would have some effect. But then a number of the Fox supporters probably believe that Obama turned on a Hurricane making Machine to boost his profile. I'm not even going to get into the Romney's campaign's absurdly transparent attempts at to appear like they were providing some aid.  One imagines had Romney simply written the Red Cross a personal check for two million dollars how much better it all would have come across. But other than get New Jersey's Gov. Christie to admit the Federal Government CAN do some good...again no 'gator. 

Think about it. His tax plan is reminiscent of the underpants gnomes, his foreign policy is Obama's with the name crossed out and his version of the past reads like rapper Rick Ross's autobiography. Still...no alligator.

So I worry.

My new conservative friend keeps harping on the attack in Benghazi, which is apparently Obama's 73rd or 74th Watergate moment. That has be something of a record for squeaking by comeuppance, beating out even Charlie Sheen for comebacks. The conservative slant keeps demanding "the truth", which in reality means "tell us you're an incompetent boob." Because unless the demanded "truth" espouses their predisposed notion, then in their opinion there is still something left that's being covered up. This despite reports emerging that show the government used everything but the top secret teleporter technology to get assistance to the scene.

Then again, you kinda figure that even if Obama announced at 8am that he personally had found the cure for cancer and was giving it away for free...that the GOP would have a press conference by noon denouncing the administration for trying to put doctors out of work. I mean, even though Obama oversaw the saving of the auto industry, brought the stock market back, got corporate profits to record highs and got passed the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), according to his detractors he can't run on is record. Because to them, if Obama were any good he would have also balanced the budget, paid off the national debt, personally captured all the terrorists AND cured cancer. But then Fox news would report that he was only trying to put accountants, the military and doctors out of work. And what's really odd is that apparently half the country believes them.

So I worry.

Tuesday it's all over. Thank God for Tuesday.

At least I hope it's over on Tuesday.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Disney bought Lucasfilm. Thank God.

Ramblings Post #206
I have somewhere, downloaded from the internet someplace, a copy of the first draft of Star Wars. Reading it is much like watching the comedy short of a fictionalized George Lucas in college, where you can see where the concepts that eventually become the icons we all know originated. Its almost a fascinating study in development. I am getting my geek on over here. Man, I should be writing.

I too waited breathlessly for the first prequel, the one which would actually start the story after the first movie was cryptically called "Chapter Four". Star Wars, which captivated millions and solidified the modern "franchise" process of movie making promised to be epic storytelling. Now, I didn't wear a storm trooper outfit or anything like that, but I dutifully stood in line and paid my money. What did I get? Trade Federation woes, a crude Jewish stereotype, pod racing, a kid who couldn't act, Midichlorians and more things you could eventually make into merch than you could count.  And Jar Jar.

I was not amused.

I didn't even waste the energy to go see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The whole Lucasfilm experience began to feel like going back to a place you loved as child only to find out they've torn down the old burger stand, cut down the natural forest for a golf course and setup cabana and ATV rentals on what was an unspoiled beach. Memory didn't match the new reality and I felt cheated. Finding out the entire Star Wars saga is really about Darth Vader's evolution was a truly WTF moment. I'd just about written the whole thing off as something that used to be, that was never going to be as good as it was.

This sale gives me hope. A new hope.

George Lucas is not a good writer. Think about it - his old mentor, his two kids and the two droids he had as kid pop up on the Death Star and all Darth Vader gets from the force is a mental tickle? There is the huge time hole/anomaly in The Empire Strikes Back that we all over look, along with many other moments that we simply all went along with in the original trilogy because it was a good story. The prequels made little blips that only geeks would normally spot glaring, or worse created new problems in the original trilogy. It was kind of sad.

The heart of good movies in the modern era is writing. Not special effects or explosions, but good writing. Or at least writing good enough to hide obvious stupidity (I swore it was just good writing until I checked the top films for 2012 - 2011. The Smurfs? Ted? Really?) The new groove in Hollywood is character development, something Lucas completely threw off the lot once he'd figured out CGI. Developing the character from brute to hero, or from brooding to active is a trick that makes people re-watch movies. It does not usually however, sell merch if done wrong. But, as it turns out...Disney and its partners (Pixar) are kinda is good at both.

I'm at heart a writer. Maybe not a "finisher", as my brother likes to point out, but a writer nonetheless.  And I know it hurts to hand over your creations to someone else. But it was time. George had done all he could, and rather than let someone else dabble at it then snatch back control... like your average record producer, he did what had to be done. I will note that in the pics for the deal, he didn't exactly look overjoyed. 

I personally would have thoughts to rights to Star Wars would have been worth more than four billion though. But I understand there is stock involved, so, *insert shrug here.* That Disney pretty much owns my childhood now is beside the point. For now. 

Barkeep. Give me whatever Han Solo was drinking when he shot Greedo. And yes, Han shot first.

If this happens though, I'm suing.