Thursday, October 30, 2008

The start of major changes now happening

The Royals might have a new Big Donkey by the time you read this. Unfortunately, Jacobs' arrival will almost surely mean the departure of our very own man-child Big Donkey Billy Butler. We just hope the Royals actually make a good trade involving Billy. We still need more offense. We need a CF and a SS and a C. We still need more power. Specifically, we need to gain right-handed power. We need to lose Gload.

P.S. We will eventually have more news on our mid-life crisis, which has actually spawned a number of productive things and a couple of wild ideas. We got reading glasses. We bought four new tires for the car. We made a dentist appointment, finally, to get our cracked tooth fixed. We are afraid to mention some other things.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mark Teahen will forever be known as that guy from the Moneyball book

Well, the trade winds are already blowin. Word on the street is that Teahen might get dealt to Cleveland for F. Gutierrez (sp). Apprently Gut is an outstanding CF with upside. Apparently the Injuns need a new 3B. We hate to see Teahen go, but we all know it's got to happen. This, however, is only a preview of the crazy winter that awaits. This trade alone would be almost beside the point. The Royals need offense and they need power production. Moore has seemed determined to get Dejesus out of CF for whatever reasons. We're guessing David's name comes up in trade talks soon, along with Butler and maybe Buck. Also, Moore reportedly tried to trade for Marlins 1B Jacobs last week. It should get really interesting once the World Series is over.

So here are our favorite non-fiction books (or at least the ones that come immediately to mind): The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolfe), Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972 (Hunter Thompson), Into the Wild (John Krakauer), Life on the Mississippi (Mark Twain), Killing Yourself to Live (Chuck Klosterman), Undaunted Courage (Stephen Ambrose), The Catcher Was a Spy (Nicholas Dawidoff), Can't Anybody Here Play This Game (Jimmy Breslin), Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (James Gleick), Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Saved the World (Mark Kurlansky), Seven Years in Tibet (Heinrich Harrer), Moneyball (Michael Lewis), Wonderland Avenue (Danny Sugarman), The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (Gertrude Stein), A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway).

Thoughts? Also, don't forget to tell us what your favorite novels are (see below).

P.S. Somebody needs to write an aggressive book about volcanoes, specifically about the sleeping giants, from Shasta to Baker, in the Cascade Range. We love volcanoes.

P.P.S. Junior and I went to see W. this weekend. We liked it. Dubya comes off as being a sympathetic, bumbling character who is in way over his head -- but he also is very good about some things: he understands the power of religion, he's not a wimp, and he's genuinely likeable in a loyal friend sort of way. Cheney and Rummy come off as evil. The Condoleeza character is unwatchable, and she almost ruins the whole film.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It was love at first sight

While we're waiting for the political season to end (and for the Hot Stove League to commence), here's something non-political to chew on. Because this is not a Red America or a Blue America. Because we're all real Americans who value literature, some of us more than others. If we're going to heal this country, we really need to have an open and frank discussion about elitist literature. ANYWAY, the communist blogger over at Higher Ed Marketing (it just sounds elitist) has posted his Top 5 novels of all time. (It's no accident that one of the novels is by a Russian author.) The genesis of this post had to do with this list of the 75 novels that all real men should read. (Sarah Palin has read ALL of them.) We left a comment over at Higher Ed with our Top 5 novel picks, and we suggest you do the same.

But since you're already here, we'll go ahead and reveal our picks in a minute. You should know that we like to go back and read the first sentences of all of our favorite books. We just grab them off the shelf as we're walking by and read the first sentence real quick, and then we put the book back and go to the bathroom or grab a beer from the fridge or whatever. Anyway, we're including the first sentence (or two) for each of these.

1. On the Road, Jack Kerouac

I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won't bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split-up and my feeling that everything was dead.

2. Suttre, Cormac McCarthy

Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and streaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you.

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter.

4. Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken Kesey

Along the western slopes of the Oregon Coastal Range...come look: the hysterical crashing of tributaries as they merge into the Wakonda Auga River...

5. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.

Honorable Mention -- Confederacy of Dunces, Brothers Karamazov, Lonesome Dove, any Kurt Vonnegut novel, and Raymond Carver's short stories.

Looking forward to seeing your picks.

P.S. To be honest, sometimes the beginning of a great novel doesn't grab you for whatever reason. Sometimes you're not sure why you're investing time in the work at hand. Then something incredible grabs you by the booboo and you become fully engaged. In Suttre, it's when the kid gets caught fucking the watermelon in the watermelon patch. In Sometimes a Great Notion, it's when Leland puts his head in the oven and blows up the kitchen but fails to kill himself. In Blood Meridian, which is a bloody hard read, the pay off doesn't come until near the very end, in the bar...the scene with the dancing bear. It's hard to breathe while reading that book, but when somebody yells, He shot the fucking bear, the whole novel is redeemed.

P.P.S. Maybe we'll list our Top 5 non-fiction books next week.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Everybody knows Bill James is a genius

Bill James says the Royals COULD win 85 to 90 games next year. We'll take it!

We are looking forward to the off-season moves. We can't wait for this World Series between the Buccaneers and the Athletics to end.

P.S. Is the current meltdown by the Chiefs entire organization worse than anything the Royals have been through over the years? Probably not. But it's pretty bad.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Squirrel Incident

So we realized on Day 2 of the Great Mid-Life Crisis that we weren't at the beginning or middle of the crises; we are actually coming to the END of the crisis. We've spent years and years gallavanting around like an idiot with one foot in the middle class and the other somewhere in Bohemia. At some point this past weekend, we abruptly decided to actually move forward and forget about pretending like we are who we wanted to be. We thought we knew exactly what we were doing the whole time, but maybe now we are just coming out of the fog.

The entire epiphany must have had something to do with our brother's pet squirrel.

During the day, our brother lets Elmer play in the trees. When our brother gets home from work, he calls to Elmer and Elmer comes back to him. This weekend, our brother brought Elmer from KC to Springfield. He let him play in the trees in our parents' back yard. But many hours went by, and Elmer didn't respond to our brother's calls. Our brother sadly resigned himself to the reality that Elmer had probably found a friend and, besides, he was probably better off in a more natural environment anyway.

The next night, we are all eating steak at the dinner table. Suddenly our father's eyes get very big and he jumps out of his seat like his ass is on fire. "Squirrel!" yells our father. Elmer, of course, has somehow gotten inside and has jumped up on the old man's shoulder. Our brother, who has finished his steak, quickly grabs Elmer and heads for the door. "This will increase my chances of getting laid tonight," says Brother.

At this moment, we must have had an epiphany brought on by the squirrel incident. Though, to be truthful, it probably had more to do with what had happened the night before.

Monday, October 20, 2008

We can't blame this funk on Mizzou

Our mid-life crisis has been simmering for years, but now it's boiling over. We don't have enough money to buy a Corvette, and hair plugs are stupid, so we'll just be grumpy and depressed for a while. Then we'll probably make some kind of dramatic change in life that puts us on a new and terrifyingly absurd course. It seems like women handle these kind of funks much more efficiently. They just get men to move furniture around the house. It always makes them feel better to watch someone else move the heaviest object in the house through the narrowest hallways, around the most difficult corners, and into the room where it used to be before you moved it into that other room a few weeks ago. Then, when you start muttering and complaining, they refer to you as "Grumpy Old John McCain over there..." Then they tease you about breathing hard and they want to know if you should rest. Then there's a whole bunch of other stuff that's starting to piss you off. And before you know it, you're in full blown mid-life crisis mode. It's not funny!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Country in the crapper, Joe The Plumber to the rescue

We're going to miss Crazyfarts McBombs and Sideshow Moosetits and Joe The Plumber, especially after Nancy Pelosi and the new president, That One, make us stand in bread lines and pay higher taxes on everything. Seriously, it's hard to imagine the Dems not taking this thing way too far once they have complete control over what's left of the world. As long as they don't take away our fishing poles and XM radio, we'll survive.

This is called a pivot. Now that it looks like Obama is going to win in a landslide, we no longer have to be totally in the tank for him.

P.S. We stole Crazyfarts McBombs and Sideshow Moosetits from a blog somewhere, probably Wonkette, because those fuckers make us laugh.

P.P.S. Now that the country is in the crapper, it's nice to know we can count on Joe The Plumber.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Did the Tigers just get Pinkled?

The next time Mizzou's on the 1-yard line, they'd better put Daniel up under center for the first time in his life and run a QB sneak.

We are obviously down on the Tigers, but they have an immediate chance to rehabilitate this thing Saturday against Texas.

The Big 12 has some amazing offenses. Defenses, not so much.

Oklahoma and Mizzou got exposed. (And Chase just lost the Heisman.)

We watched Juno yesterday. Nice movie. Every movie made should make you reflect on actual life a little. Not too many of them try to make you reflect at all.

Have we ever mentioned that, long ago, we used to be a big St. Louis Cardinals Football fan? For us, it was always the Royals in baseball and the Cardinals in football. The Cardiac Cards broke our heart when they moved to Arizona. But it's always nice to see the dark red jerseys on TV against an old NFC East opponent, especially when it's the Cowboys. And it's nice to see the Football Cardinals win.

P.S. Junior won an individual medley (fly, backstroke, breast stroke, free) this weekend against older competition from Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. He's a closer, like a race horse that finishes strong. That makes these races very exciting. He also finished third in the backstroke (out of about 25) and fourth in the freestyle. Did we mention that the kids he's swimming against are older than he is?

P.P.S. If Junior keeps swimming all over the Midwest and beyond, we're going to have to buy a Winnebego. As it stands, we hang around for hours, waiting for the next event. If we had a Winnebego, we could be out in the parking lot drinking beer and watching football.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rany on Osama and Obama

Nate Silver's wildly popular blog, fivethirtyeight, features an in-depth guest post by Royals Nation's favorite writer/dermatologist/Muslim today. The topic is the likelihood of an October surprise from Osama bin Laden:

When bin Laden declared war on the United States, it was in the hope that the United States would declare war in return – not just on him, but on the entire Muslim world. He wanted war, the bigger and more protracted the better. He wanted the Clash of Civilizations. He wanted, in a very literal sense, The End of Days. He didn’t have the firepower or resources to trigger the apocalypse himself, so he baited someone who did – the United States of America.

Basically, Rany thinks Osama wants McCain to win, just like Osama wanted Bush to win four years ago, because Osama wants war to continue until we reach the apocalypse. The best way for Osama to get his way, of course, is by telling the world that he's for Obama right before the election. Read the entire thing here.

P.S. A New York erotic magazine wants to publish this painting. They also wanted to feature more of our art work in a gallery. We were forced to tell them that we have no training and that we live in the Ozarks and that we've still only painted two boob pictures, that both of them were painted on scrap pieces of old cardboard with cheap watercolors, and that one of them's not very good anyway. They encouraged us to paint more. They must think we are some kind of idiot savant.

P.P.S. The whole thing with the New York erotic magazine has inspired us (ironically?) to go back to work on a children's story we keep threatening to write. Our friend Rob, who really should post here, came up with the title: "The Unpredictable Adventures of Bi-Polar Bear."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sooners predicted to win Redneck Shootout

Until proven otherwise, the Sooners continue to be more than seven points better than Texas. (We think Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will give the Sooners every bit as much fight as the Longhorns do.) So, yeah, we're picking Oklahoma (minus 7) in the Redneck Shootout.

We'll take Baylor (minus 4) at home over Iowa State.

In the week's best match-up of pathetic teams, we'll hold our nose and take KSU (minus 3) over A&M.

OK. Here's the one you've been waiting for Tiger fans. We are officially nervous about this week's contest against Okie State. We'd be even more nervous if the game was in Stillwater instead of Columbia. The Tigers defense WILL be tested this weekend. We think Mizzou will win the game, but we'll take OSU (plus 13) to cover the spread. We'll also take the over on this game.

Texas Tech is going to kill the Huskers. Take Tech and give up the three touchdowns. We love it when the Huskers suck.

Kansas almost got upset last weekend in Ames. We look for them to rebound and beat Colorado by slightly more than 14 points at home.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nottingham mini-manifesto

Robin Hood and The Good Samaritan are the two most enduring stories of my life. As a kid, I wore out two great big vinyl records that imbedded Disney's version of Robin Hood into my brain.

Robin Hood and Little John
Walkin' through the forest
Laughin' back and forth
At what the other'ne has to say
Reminiscin', This-'n'-thattin'
Havin' such a good time
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day!

At some point, though, I learned that sharing and helping others was just a load of crap that they shove down kids' throats. As you get older, you're supposed to get tougher. It's a dog-eat-dog world. Things are cut-throat out there. You are judged by how much you can get for yourself. Those old stories are just stories. Nobody practices what they preach.

Well, fuck that. I'm still down with Robin Hood and The Good Samaritan.

That is probably why I've worked in academia and the non-profit sector most of my life. I still believe in the stories! I have managed to make a meager living out of words. How cool is that? I believe in the power of words and stories. They last a hell of a lot longer than a promotion at work or a new condo. They last a lot longer than facts.

Sometimes I do PR work. This means I have to twist the facts in order to make the stories better. I am OK with that, as long as I am selling a narrative I believe in. I wouldn't last a day in the corporate world. Their idea of a good story is always a big cardboard check and a ribbon cutting with really big scissors. They think big cardboard checks and ridiculously big scissors are fantastic stories! They think people love this stuff! They take the picture, pat themselves on the back, write a really crappy news release, and then go to lunch at Applebees.

What a joke.

So what's better than oversized cardboard checks and really big scissors? I'll tell you what: a three-legged dog story. The Three-Legged Dog Story is almost as good as the Robin Hood Story and The Good Samaritan Story. You can learn a lot about humanity from three-legged dogs. You can't learn anything positive about humanity from the corporate world.

Sometimes I still vote for Republicans, though, because capitalism is important to the country. But, in addition to being good competitors, any candidate I support must have a solid command of language in order to create a compelling narrative.

I believe in competition as a way to get the animal out. This is why I love sports. I've always been super competitive when it comes to sports, but I don't really believe in being competitive outside the parameters of a game.

I have always treated politics as a game. But this time my love of competition is spilling out into my real world. I am angry. I am no longer objective. This, in fact, is not a game. For the first time, I don't see an acceptable alternative to winning. The story that is being written this time is history. That has always been the case with presidential elections, of course, but the narrative for this one is as powerfully important as it's ever been.

Will there be redemption? Have we learned any lessons? Which candidate knows how to tell a three-legged dog story and which one is trying to sell us the big cardboard check?

One candidate will be accused of stealing from the rich in order to give to the poor. So be it. He will also be accused of helping those who can't help themselves. Good for him. Yes, he still believes in the good stories, for better or worse. More importantly, he knows how to live them.

P.S. Now I am convinced that I have gone completely over the moon and have become one of those idealistic hippies that I’ve always hated so much. At least I’m not lazy most of the time. Still, I'm going back to the Royal We next time, because there's safety in numbers.

P.P.S. McCain's POW story is a great Three-Legged Dog Story, but he went and allowed Sarah Palin and others to stupidly shoot the damn dog with a high-powered rifle.

P.P.P.S. The only candidate I ever voted for who did not have a good command of the English language was George W. Bush. Look how that turned out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fear the Tiger

Big Donkeys' Big 12 Power Rankings:

1. Oklahoma
1a. Mizzou
3. Texas Tech
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Kansas
7. Colorado
8. Baylor
9. Iowa State
10. Nebraska
11. Kansas State
12. Texas A&M

NOTE: Numbers 1 and 1a are also the two best teams in the country.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure

We have devised our own detailed off-season plan for the Royals. It is very bold and full of existential contingencies. You should know that part of the plan involves trading Butler and Dejesus, among others. We have identified three teams as the most desirable trading partners: Boston, Colorado, and Florida.

Everybody got mixed feelings about the function and the form. Everybody got to deviate from the norm.

Everybody got reverse polarity.

Our mind has been very active and fertile of late. We have come up with possibly the best porn character ever: Hugh Mungus. We can see it now: “Living Large,” starring Hugh Mungus, Tony N. Dowd, and Cheri Mathers as The Beaver.

On a more PC note: we have decided to go to a Halloween party as Flavor Flav. We’re going to buy one of those Viking helmets at a flea market, put a big clock on a chain and wear it around our neck, and paint one of our teeth gold.

P.S. So who will be the new hitting coach next season? We nominate Slugrrrrr. Because the Royals could really use at least one slugger in a non-mascot capacity.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Then you find you're back in Vegas

Let's handicap the Big 12 games this weekend. These picks are for entertainment purposes only, and crappy past results are an excellent indicator of future success.

We'll take KSU plus 7 over Texas Tech. But this is a ridiculous pick, and we think YOU should take Tech and the over.

We are taking Mizzou over Nebraska and giving about 11 points. We'd actually give about 30 points.

Colorado upset Oklahoma last year in Boulder. And the Buffaloes have looked good so far this season. That's why we're picking Texas to go on the road and beat Colorado by more than 13 this week.

We love Baylor's freshman quarterback. He will be in the emergency room by the end of the third quarter -- but we're taking the Bears to cover the 24-point spread at home against the Sooners.

Texas A&M really sucks. Oklahoma State doesn't. Take the Cowboys and lay the 24 points.

UPSET SPECIAL: Iowa State 29, Kansas 24.

P.S. What got into the Chiefs last week? Maybe we'll have to go out to Arrowhead this season, after all. We've got seats in the front row! Really. And they only cost $100 bucks, plus $400 for parking, $250 for a brat, and $1,199 for a beer.

P.P.S. Did we mention that we have been working on special relationships for years with several of the Chiefs cheerleaders?

P.P.P.S. Our brother in Kansas City has a squirrel that follows him around every where. Sometimes it rides on his head. He takes it with him to the local tavern. He is becoming known in the neighborhood as the Squirrel Whisperer.