June 2010


Those of us who live outside the major metropolitan areas don’t get all of the movies that the big cities get.  And, if we do get them at all, they don’t last very long and they aren’t available in a whole lot of places.  So when Pirate Radio was released last April, I missed it because it didn’t last long enough in the theaters for me to get to see it.  So, the other day, when Netflix delivered a copy to my house, I couldn’t wait to watch it.

Pirate Radio is the US/Canadian title of The Boat that Rocked, a film written and directed by Richard Curtis, who’s also given us (among other things) Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary and one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Blackadder.

The Boat that Rocked is loosely based on the real-life offshore “pirate” radio stations broadcasting in mid-1960s Britain, where rock-n-roll music was not readily available on the airwaves.  The most famous of these was “Radio Caroline,” which still broadcasts over the air, but also offers streaming audio on the Internet.  A main reason I wanted to see this movie is due to the fact that the first time I visited the UK was in 1969, only a couple of years after this story takes place.  During both that visit and my next one, in 1974, we mostly listened to Radio Luxembourg for popular music. Radio Luxembourg, another station that British kids often listened to in secret, is also still in business and also streams audio on the Internet.  When I lived in France in the late 70s/early 80s, I still listened to Radio Luxembourg to get my “English fix” when Armed Forces Radio didn’t have anything I wanted to listen to.

Anyway, The Boat that Rocked got mediocre reviews when it came out last April, but I really enjoyed it.  The music is terrific; we get the Kinks, the Stones, the Turtles, The Who, The Troggs, The Hollies, John Fred and His Playboy Band, and more.  It really brings back memories of  the days when, as a little girl in 1960s, I would listen to my GE transistor radio at night, trying to catch radio stations from up and down the East Coast.  The film stars Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson (I think this is the only time these two have been in a movie together since their divorce) and Tom Sturridge (son of Phoebe Nicholls, who played Elizabeth Elliot in P95).  Other actors I’ve seen before include Gemma Arterton (Lost in Austen), Talulah Riley (P&P05), Jack Davenport (Coupling) and Nick Frost (Kinky Boots).  It’s not the greatest film I’ve ever seen, but it was a lot of fun and was definitely worth the wait.

Unfortunately, however, we (the US) can’t seem to win any of ’em against Ghana.  This is the second World Cup in a row where the US were eliminated by Ghana.

As per usual, the other side scored first, and the Americans had to battle back.  They managed to tie the score early in the second half, but Ghana scored again in the 30-minute extra time and the US just couldn’t score again.  You don’t win titles this way guys.

And then England was destroyed by Germany this morning (4-1) so I am not a happy camper.  Oh well.  Better luck next time.

According to my calculations, the Mets are 12-4 in interleague play, but I still hate it.  I hate being treated like the red-headed stepchild by Yankee fans — people who believe they are morally superior to the rest of us simply because the team they root for has 28 world series championships.  Please.  Let’s face it — it’s EASY to root for the team that wins all the time.  It requires no thought. No imagination. No heart.  No character.  No soul.

Am I slamming all Yankee fans?  No.  Not the ones who inherited this love from their parents or who fell in love with the team in the late 1960s/early 70s or late 80s/early 90s (in other words, during the period when the Mets owned New York).  I’ll give those people a pass. They’re generally knowledgeable baseball fans who just happen to root for the Yankees.  But there are a whole lot of people who jumped on the bandwagon in 1995 and who, after 15 years, still know nothing about baseball in general or the Yankees in particular but who still claim to be die-hards.  Those people truly make me ill.  It’s just not possible to be a die-hard when you’ve never had to die.

So, back to the original topic.  Why do I hate interleague play?  First off, the Designated Hitter is evil.  Second, the scheduling is just ridiculous.  In football, each team in a division plays a similar schedule to every other team in the division.  But not in baseball.  The Mets have to play the Yankees 6 times, yet the Cardinals get the Royals 6 times, the Padres get Seattle 6 times and the Giants get the A’s 6 times. If the Cardinals or the Padres or the Giants win the Wild Card over the Mets by a game or two, it’s not a stretch to think that the schedule had something to do with it.

But the single worst thing about interleague play is that it forces me to want the Yankees to win.  Why, you ask?  Because, when the Yankees play the Phillies or the Braves or the Marlins or the Nationals (or any team the Mets are competing against for a playoff spot), it’s best for the Mets if the Yankees win.  And, frankly, that’s just wrong.

I found this picture through a Google search, but it reminds me of something that happened several years ago.  When I lived in NY, a large group of my friends would meet in the Shea parking lot for a tailgate.  Well, one year, at a Mets/Yankees pre-game tailgate, a man in the group next to ours set a Yankee shirt on fire.  One of the cops came over to investigate and, when he was told that it was a Jeter shirt, he offered to throw more gasoline on the fire.  That was a great day.

US vs. England was fun.  US vs. Slovenia was nerve-wracking.  But US vs. Algeria is….well, it’s not quite for *all* the marbles, but it’s still the most important game yet.  The US control their own destiny — win and they’re in.  Of course, if that idiot ref in the Slovenia game had not called that phantom foul on the US, we wouldn’t be biting our nails worrying about today’s game.

Algeria has yet to score a goal.  They lost to Slovenia in the opening game, and tied England 0-0 last week.  The US has scored 3 goals: 1 in their tie with England and 2 in their tie with Slovenia. I’m watching the game right now, and the US barely missed being down 1-0 just after the 5-minute mark.  For a team that’s supposed to have a good defense, they do not look good right now.

England and Slovenia are playing at the exact same time, and ESPN3 is promising us updates of that game too. Yes, I do happen to be watching at work.  My bosses have decreed that it is both firm policy and our patriotic duty to watch the games.   Unfortunately, Comcast was down when we first arrived at the office, but it’s back now and I’m following the game while trying to get some work done.

USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!

UPDATED: 10:53 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time…

Who is paying off the refs and can I make a counter-offer before the next half starts?  This is INSANE. %^&*(&(*&^%$$#$#@#$%&^*&()

UPDATED: 12: 34 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time…

WE WIN!!!!!!! I kept waiting for the refs to figure out a reason to take back the goal, but I guess it was such a clean goal that they couldn’t come up with anything.  So the US win the group, and they and the English move on to the next round.  I see that more nail-biting is in my future…

I’m going to be unavailable for the next couple of days and won’t be able to post.  But one of the planned activities is a JASNA meeting up in Tampa where the assembled will watch B&P and P&P: A Latter-Day Comedy.  I’m really looking forward to hearing other people’s opinions on these two films.  Most of the people who will be in attendance have never seen either one, so this could be interesting.  I’ll report back when I can.

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My friend “N” and I have seen 5 of the 6 Harry Potter movies together, and we are both excited that the Harry Potter theme park has come to Orlando.  The grand opening is tomorrow and the reviews have been outstanding.  Even the elitist and stodgy New York Times had a good time (but the reviewer did, of course, still manage to disparage fans of the books. I guess this means he gets to keep his job for the time being.). Anyway, “N” and I decided to take the plunge and go.  We bought tickets the other night and plan to head up in late August. Yes, the heat will be oppressive, but chances are that the crowds won’t be as bad as they will be at other times of the year.  For example, I took myself to Epcot last year and hardly had to wait for anything.  Obviously, the new park will likely still be more crowded, but we plan to get there VERY early to make sure we get there when the gates open.  I’m not fond of heights, but will force myself to do as many of the rides as possible.

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I’m about 1/3 of the way through Mansfield Park and, contrary to what most people will tell you, I have actually found parts of it to be very funny, especially when Mrs. Norris is the target of Austen’s barbs.  For example, check out this passage from chapter 1:

As far as walking, talking, and contriving reached, she was thoroughly benevolent, and nobody knew better how to dictate liberality to others; but her love of money was equal to her love of directing, and she knew quite as well how to save her own as to spend that of her friends.

Or this one, also from chapter 1:

Under this infatuating principle, counteracted by no real affection for her sister, it was impossible for her to aim at more than the credit of projecting and arranging so expensive a charity; though perhaps she might so little know herself as to walk home to the Parsonage, after this conversation, in the happy belief of being the most liberal–minded sister and aunt in the world.

Or this, from chapter 3:

The Grants showing a disposition to be friendly and sociable, gave great satisfaction in the main among their new acquaintance. They had their faults, and Mrs. Norris soon found them out.

Yes, the book’s overall theme is more serious than those of Austen’s other works, but Austen’s trademark snarkiness is still there for us to enjoy.

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How ’bout them Mets? They are 5-0 so far on the roadtrip (and 9-1 in their last 10). Granted, it’s not a big deal to beat Baltimore and Cleveland but, as I pointed out before, these same Mets still managed to lose 2 of 3 in Milwaukee to a Brewer team who can’t buy a win at home.  R.A. Dickey (4-0, 2.78) goes against Jake Westbrook (4-3, 4.62) tonight.  Jason Bay has a contusion on his thigh from last night’s game, but he thinks he’ll be able to play tonight.  Frankly, I think the Mets can still beat the Indians without Bay, so I hope he gets to rest the leg and save his strength for the Yankees over the weekend.

And, speaking of the Evil Empire, we get to see the exact same match-ups this weekend when the Mets visit the Bronx that we saw at CitiField last month: Takahashi/Vazquez on Friday, Pelfrey/Hughes on Saturday and Santana/Sabathia on Sunday. I won’t have access to MLB.tv’s video where I’m staying this weekend, but I will be able to follow the game via the radio feed on Friday and Saturday. TBS is airing Sunday’s game, so I will definitely be in front of the tube for that one.

LGM!

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World Cup Reminder: USA plays Slovenia tomorrow morning (10-ish Eastern time).  Luckily the bosses will be watching it, so they won’t mind if I do too.

USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!

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See you next week!

I can’t believe I bought this (because I certainly have enough stash to last several lifetimes), but it’s just so gorgeous I couldn’t resist:

(click on the picture to enlarge it)

The pattern is called Rose Family of Great Britain and it comes from StitchDirect.com, a companion website to the British cross stitch magazine New Stitches.  Their merchandise is simply beautiful, and you can buy just a chart or an entire kit.  In addition, if you just want a chart, you can download it onto your own computer for less money.  One caveat, however: the downloadable charts are designed to print out on A-4 paper, which (for us non-metric types) is slightly larger than 8 1/2″ x 11″, so you have to fiddle with them to get them to fit.

If I ever get around to buying replacement clips for my 6″ Q-Snaps, I’ll finish my 12 Days of Christmas project.  In the  meantime, I’m working on a piece that has the words and music to the hymn “Amazing Grace.”  It’s my mother’s favorite hymn, and it’s going to be a present for her on the closest birthday to whenever I finish it.  Hopefully, it’ll be in time for next year’s birthday, because I’ll never make it for this year’s!  *crosses fingers*

USA were a heavy underdog going into the match against England yesterday afternoon (2:30 p.m. here in the Eastern time zone), so the final, a 1-1 tie, feels like a victory for the Stars-and-Stripes.

“KC,” “D” and I watched the game at Ed’s Tavern in Lakewood Ranch.  The crowd was made up of mostly US fans, with a  handful of England supporters sprinkled in for good measure.  The English, complete with flags and face paint, were louder than I’d expected…until the last few minutes of the game, when the tie was pretty much a certainty.

According to the Telegraph:

After the hyperbole of the build-up, England were seemingly cruising at 1-0 through Steven Gerrard’s early goal when, in front of the nation, the world, Green let a routine shot from Clint Dempsey slip through him and into the net. As he scrambled back in hopeless despair he must have wanted to dig himself into the turf.

…This was far from a disaster for England, though. The United States are a compact, organised defensive unit with speed and guile going forward and the draw should not impede England’s progress. They really should have won, despite Green’s error, having 18 shots on goal and getting into promising positions only to hit a frustratingly poor final ball.

…if you needed any further evidence of how the Americans viewed this result, you only had to watch their team rushing to celebrate with their fans at the final whistle as if they had won.

That last bit is absolutely true — the US fans at Ed’s went wild at the tie.  If you consider that England fans had been trash-talking for months (the word “hyperbole” used in the Telegraph piece is appropriate), a tie to the US team is unsatisfying for the English and very satisfying for the Americans.

There was a lot of “Rooney S**KS” going on at Ed’s yesterday.  I didn’t know who Rooney was, but my post-match reading tells me he’s England’s “main man.”  I know enough about soccer to know that the US did a good job covering him yesterday, and I also know enough to know that his team, Manchester United, are the Yankees of the soccer world. Frankly, this means he would s**k even if he were the greatest player ever.

Former US player Alexi Lalas wrote this for the Guardian:

The United States have an incredible opportunity to beat England. I’m not just waving the flag for my country here; Fabio Capello’s team think they are much better than they actually are and Bob Bradley’s side really are much better than most people seem to think.

Don’t get me wrong, England are still a very good team but they have a warped perception of how talented they are. They do inflate their worth – it’s something the English have a cultural history of doing. It’s all very interesting and part of how international business is done but it’s detrimental to your football team.

I don’t think the English are real happy about this.  Here is a sampling of the comments reacting to this column (don’t blame me for any errors in spelling or grammar):

“I’ve read more insight pieces on the back of Penguin Bars.”

“Before I read this article I wanted England to stuff the USA, now I simply wish it even more.”

“I’ve been watching Lalas over here in the States on ESPN. He was a very good player, his record speaks for itself. However, as a pundit he is a complete moron. His face appears on my tv and I turn on the remote.

Like others in this thread, I hope England stuff the States today, if only to wipe the smile away from Alexei’s smug face.”

“Look up arrogance in the dictionary it says ‘see USA'”

“I’d compare Landon Donavan to the milky bar kid”

Touchy, aren’t we?

And now for the completely superficial, completely girlie side of me.  I am enjoying ESPN’s coverage of this in large part because the aforementioned Alexi Lalas cleans up VERY nicely.

Then:

And now:

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Slovenia, here we come!

I don’t know how many of you have visited the links I’ve posted on the right-hand side of this page.  Well, all the way at the bottom is a link called “WorldCat.”  I feel it is my duty to alert as many people as possible to the existence of WorldCat and what it can do for them.

Is there a book you want that is either out of print or too expensive to buy?  Go to WorldCat and search for the book.  Within seconds, it will tell you which libraries around the world own this book and how far they are away from you.  Why is this a Good Thing?  Because —  get this! — you can borrow them!  And you don’t even have to figure out a way to get to Juneau from Miami to do it!

If you have a library card for a library in North America, you can borrow books from almost any other library in North America. International libraries may also make their books available, but you’re basically limited to the US and Canada (which, if you think about it, is still pretty darned impressive).  You can walk into your local branch, armed with the WorldCat printout, or you can just go to your local library’s website and put in your request that way.  It is a great way for libraries to provide patrons with books that the library doesn’t own.

I’m bringing this up now because I just picked up an ILL (= InterLibrary Loan) book from my local branch.  I recently read 31 Bond Street, by Ellen Horan and, while I was Googling some information about the true story the novel is based on, I found that another book had been written about it, only this one is not a novel.  It’s called Butchery on Bond Street, and is by Benjamin Feldman.  I immediately checked the online catalogs for my local libraries, and came up with nothing.  But, according to WorldCat, 37 libraries own copies of the book, including one in Gainesville, FL.  I logged onto my library account, found the ILL page, entered the information and voila!, less than 3 weeks later the book is in my hands. They’re even giving me a month to read it, which is pretty cool.

While I was at WorldCat, I decided to search for another book that I’ve been wanting to read: Bedpan Commando, by June Wandrey, a WWII combat nurse.  That book is in 103 libraries, including 4 in Florida, and I requested it at the same time as Butchery on Bond Street. I learned about Wandrey and her book from watching WWII in HD on the History Channel last fall.  Bedpan Commando hasn’t arrived in Sarasota yet, but I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Of course, having a library card doesn’t stop me from buying books; yesterday’s impulse purchases are Alice, by Stacy Cordery and Alexandra: The Last Tsarina, by Carrolly Erickson.

The Mets had the 7th pick in last night’s amateur draft, and they used it on Matt Harvey, a pitcher from UNC Chapel Hill.  Harvey is from Mystic, Connecticut and has just finished his junior year.  His career record is 22-7; and he has a 3.73 ERA in 54 games (he started 43 of these games) and a WHIP of 1.44.  The W/L sounds good, but the ERA and the WHIP don’t do much for me.  His strikeouts to walks ratio, however, at 2.12:1 is very good. Metsblog has a discussion about this pick. Maybe they’ll assign him to St Lucie and I’ll get to see him play the Marauders at McKechnie Field (a girl can hope!).

Who knows how long it will take him to sign — his agent is, after all, Scott Boras (a.k.a. $cott Bora$).  Boras is Pelfrey’s agent too, and it took him almost a year to sign. And many of us remember the agita he gave us during the Carlos Beltran saga.

And then there’s the Alex Rodriguez soap opera.  I think the less said about that, the better.   If you don’t know or don’t remember, check out the Wikipedia entry.  I don’t normally quote Wikipedia, but this one is worth reading.

Today’s NY Post has an article echoing what I said the other day, namely that a team cannot have such a horrible road record and expect to be taken seriously as a playoff contender.   The article does make a point of saying, however, that they have a chance to win some games on the road — their next road trip includes stops in Baltimore (16-21 overall, 10-16 at home) and Cleveland (21-35 overall, 8-15 at home). Unfortunately, however, playing a bad team hasn’t stopped the Mets from being horrible on the road — they did lose 2 of 3 to Milwaukee at Miller Park.  Milwaukee’s home record is 8-16 — and 2 of those wins came against the Mets.

And, last but not least, SI’s Jeff Pearlman has a column on the Mets’ most selfish player, Oliver Perez.  His ERA’s over 6 and he refused to go to Buffalo to try to work things out.  What a putz.

The Mets came home from their 2-4 road trip to beat the Marlins, 4-3 (box is here). Why can they look so good at home yet look so bad on the road? A team that wants to make the playoffs really needs to play at least .500 ball on the road, and the Mets are nowhere close. At 20-9, they’re the first team in MLB to win 20 home games, but their road record is almost a mirror image of this: a putrid 8-18.

Frenchy’s got his average back up over .250 (he’s now at .258), Bay’s hovering around.300, and even Reyes is hitting better (his BA is exactly.250 as of last night). But Wright is still only at .264 after going 0-2 with 2 walks last night, and he’s still hitting .218 against righties. Luckily, his dismal performance at the plate hasn’t affected his fielding. That play he made to end the game last night was impressive. But I repeat what I said before, he seriously needs to consider a visit to a sports psychologist to help him with this.

The Mets hope to squish the Fish on national TV today: 4:10 Eastern start on Fox. I likely won’t be able to watch the end of the game because a bunch of us are heading out to see Larry Crane down by the beach for a 7 o’clock show. Thank goodness for XM.

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