Too Much Time on My Hands

No, not that horrible Styx song. Just a rabbit hole I climbed down at Baseball Reference. These were printed through the week at Bardball. Hope you enjoy.

MLB All-Sweettooth Team

1B   Sean Berry
2B   Cookie Rojas
SS   Cookie Lavagetto
3B   Pie Traynor
LF   Candy Maldonado
CF   Coco Crisp
RF   Taffy Wright
C   Rick Sweet
LHP   Brownie Foreman, Ed Wineapple
RHP   Twink Twining, Bob Lemon
MGR   Yogi Berry
.
MLB All-Libations Team

1B   Juice Latham
2B   George Creamer
SS   Jack Coffey
3B   Bobby Wine
LF   Gene Rye
CF   Brandy Davis
RF   Suds Sutherland
C   Punch Knoll
LHP   Vinegar Bend Mizell
RHP   Mark Lemongello, Clarence Beers
Closer   Oil Can Boyd
MGR   Norm Sherry
.
MLB All-Diner Team

1B   Don Pepper
2B   Cookie Lavagetto
SS   Chicken Wolf
3B   Oyster Burns
LF   Cuke Barrows
CF   Turkey Stearnes
RF   Chili Davis
C   Pickles Dillhoefer
LHP   Noodles Hahn, Lefty Herring
RHP   Herb Hash, Bun Troy
MGR   Mayo Smith
.
MLB All-Grain-Tuber-and-Legume Team

1B   Bill Bean
2B   Potato Cueto
SS   Oats DeMaestri
3B   Peanuts Lowrey
LF   Zach Wheat
CF   Billy Beane
RF   Sam Rice
C    Yam Yaryan
LHP   Beany Jacobson, Peanuts Kantlehner
RHP   Lee Wheat, Colter Bean, Goober Zuber
MGR   Johnny Oates

.

MLB All-Fish Team

1B   Sid Bream
2B   Chico Salmon
SS   Lee Elia
3B   Melvin Mora
LF   Ralph Garr
CF   Mike Trout
RF   Kevin Bass
C   Carlton Fishk
LHP   Steve Trout, Ryan Karp
RHP   Dizzy Trout, Mudcat Grant
M   Earl Weever

Bardball Gets a Shout-Out from the Chicago Tribune

Rick Kogan is probably my favorite journalist in Chicago. A wealth of information, a wry attitude, an engaging style, and always supportive of the goofy crap I try to make a living doing. He gave our baseball doggerel website a mention in his Sunday Tribune column last week, in anticipation of a baseball writing discussion at the Newberry Library. If you’d like to read the whole article, click on this sentence. Below is one of my quotes in the piece.

“We avoid cosmic highfalutin importance and stick with subjects like the previous night’s blown save or the price of beer. But we do doggerel, not poetry. We also post song parodies and videos. We are profound only by accident at Bardball. There’s enough stuffy bloviage written about baseball already.”

2015 Baseball Predictions from Sgt. Pepper, Part 2

Sgt. Pepper’s 2015 Forecast: “Being for the Benefit of Mister I”

For the benefit of Mister I
The Tiges will give another try
At a Series ring
In the race four times before
Then they’re always shown the door
Damn, it stings
.
.   But with Cabrera and two Martinez
.   The hits should still be raining in Motown
.   If God wills, Alex Avila doesn’t get hurt
.
Yeah, Max Scherzer hit the road
The Nationals can bear that load
(He will be missed)
David Price might have the stuff
But does the bullpen have enough?
Let’s check the list:
.
.   Phil Coke is gone, and Rick Porcello,
.   Which leaves Soria, Albuquerque and Nathan
.   Climbing higher? Dumpster fire? Who the hell knows?
.
Castellanos will be there
We’ll marvel at Cespedes’ flair
In center field
Ian Kinsler leaps and spins
Let’s hope Iglesias’ pins
Have really healed
.
.   Twisting the government ’round his fingers
.   Is not enough for Detroit’s pizza king
.   Which is why Mister I keeps spending his dough….

2015 Baseball Predictions from Sgt. Pepper

A little twist on stale prognostication, from Bardball:

Sgt. Pepper’s 2015 Forecast: “When I’m .204”

For the Yankees:
.
When I get older, losing my speed,
Not so long from now,
Will you still be batting me at DH,
Late-game left field, riding the bench?
When the Yanks are down 17 to 3,
Count on me to score.
Will you still play me,
Will you still pay me,
When I’m .204?
.
Every contract season there’s a vet’ran on the trading block that could fill a need
. . . CC, Gardner, A-Rod, Beltran . . .
Then in March he wrecks his knees,
Hank, is this your plan?
.
Farm system looks like a north Texas ranch
In 1933.
By August we’ll be chasing after Tampa Bay
All our prospects traded away.
Reflexes wane and muscles are sore
“On deck: Dumbledore!”
Will you still play me,
Will you still pay me,
When I’m .204?

Minnie Minoso, Your Name is a Song

 

minoso

Minnie Minoso
Your name is a song

And why it took so long
To integrate Chicago baseball
God only knows

But you came and showed
The joy of speed
The command of glove
And changed the game
But why do I love
You, Orestes, besides your name?

The Cuban Comet
You flared and flamed
and lit up the place
Wherever you came

Minnie Minoso
Your name is a song
I hope to recall
My whole life long

CIA Torture Memo and the Holidays!

nosenseofshameI read this piece last week at The Paper Machete, my favorite reading series in Chicago (weekly and free!). They gave me the option to tackle something a little more light-hearted than CIA torture and cover-up, like the war in Nigeria, but I said no way. If I don’t have the chops to find something funny in a horrendous scandal and terrible abrogation of American (not to mention human) values, then I should just hang up my quill, pour my vitriol down the sink, and start writing greeting cards.

This was greeted alternately with big laffs and stunned silence, so I think I hit my mark. Please read it all the way through.

Liberty Baptisms! Rectal feeding! Cheers!

————————————————————————————————————————-

MEMO:

To: all active and inactive field operatives in Southern Asia

FROM: District Director Colin Braidlowe

RE: Guidelines and suggestions for addressing recent allegations during the holidays

Hello to all you men and women on the hidden front lines of freedom. As the winter holidays begin, many of you will be taking time off and mingling with your family, friends and assorted civilians. The holidays are a welcome break from the daily grind, a time for merrymaking and random surveilling, and as I’m sure you all know from experience, denying to everyone you work for the CIA. (If you need new ideas explaining to prying busybodies what you do for a living, please download the informative PDF, “Tinker, Tailor, Import/Export Systems Engineer, Spy: A Guide to Undercover Professions.”)

When mingling with civilians, the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on our work in Afghanistan is likely to come up. When it does, please do not overreact and call the office to arrange an extradition. These are your fellow countrymen we’re talking about! Besides, just like every other office in the country, we will be short-handed around Langley! Take the time to make this an opportunity for covert education.

LEGALITY

Some civilians will inaccurately claim the Senate Committee report describes activities that are illegal. This is an unveracity. Remember, every activity in the report was deemed legal by the DOJ of President Bush. Therefore, each activity was legal in a strictly legal sense. More importantly — and some civilians might not grasp this quickly — each complied with the law as we see it! If we are to have a government of laws, this is an important distinction. If the CIA followed every legal interpretation from every Dept. of Justice from every administration that happened along, we’d be running around with hoods over our heads, with our hands tied behind our backs in our tighty whiteys. This would distract the CIA from its mission, whatever it happens to be at the time. The law is important, certainly, but it is only one tool in freedom’s toolbox. And it doesn’t even plug in.

TERMINOLOGY

The following are potentially explosive words to avoid in conversation, with their recommended replacements:

The T word. Under no circumstances do agency personnel use the T word. If the NY Times can avoid using the T-word for 13 years, so can you. Our official term for these activities is enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs. Other substitutions include Truth or Dare, innocent chinwag, Hell’s 20 questions, or the power powwow.

Extended sleep deprivation, can be referred to as non-slumber parties, cramming for finals, and Rockin’ in the Free World.

Extended enforced Isolation: can be referred to as a chance to reflect, a Calgon moment, or a little “me” time.

Waterboarding. Alternative terms include hydro-aversion therapy, Liberty baptisms, and the Neti pot. This is a very emotional subject. Try and deflect discussion of liberty baptisms by talking about old family vacations on the beach. If this doesn’t work, appeal to their sense of nostalgia. Remind everyone that the US Army waterboarded prisoners during the Spanish-American War and the US occupation of the Philippines. To really take control of things, stand up and emotionally declare, “If it’s good enough for Teddy Roosevelt, it’s good enough for me.”

Rectal feeding. This practice has attracted much sensational and unfortunate attention, and will continue to do so unless we reverse the flow immediately. The agency’s new narrative is easy to swallow, and we must feed it to the public in any way we can imagine. If our official narrative has cracks that are not plugged, the constant drip-drip-drip of bad news will foul the air, sap our strength and leave us with a red eye …. A black eye.

Avoid the topic of rectal feeding whenever possible. When helping in the kitchen for the big holiday meal, be careful not to bring it up. Likewise, when the turkey is being stuffed, it is not recommended that you comment, “That’s not how we did it at Baghram,” even as a joke, or that you start screaming at the turkey that you are going to kill his whole brood if he doesn’t spill everything he knows.

Actionable intelligence. You may meet critics who assert that none of the agency’s “innocent chinwags” produced any useful intelligence. These critics unfortunately do not understand the intelligence business. We firmly believe our chinwags do uncover information that is otherwise unobtainable, whether evidence for this exists or not. As CIA Director Brennan told Congress Thursday, “the cause and effect relationship between the application of those EITs and the ultimate provision of the information is unknown and unknowable.”

So turn the tables on critics and ask them why get so angry about something that is unknowable? If we cannot prove our chinwags result in reliable information, doesn’t it follow that we cannot prove other techniques provide good intelligence? What is the nature of knowledge anyway? What proof can be relied on in this imperfect world? This should get some of the philosophy majors off your back. Also, bring up Schrödinger’s cat, firmly locked in a coffin-like box.

Often you can turn accusations into a chance for humor. When someone says, “This brutality in Afghanistan makes us no better than the Nazis,” you can say, “No, it doesn’t. Heh heh. The Nazis kept better records.”

As a final reminder, the Agency is always on the lookout for bright, patriotic individuals to help protect our freedoms, as well as America’s. This latest PR problem will frankly hinder our recruiting efforts for the next several years. So when you are hanging out with your unemployed cousin, or shooting pool in your hometown tavern with your dead-end high school classmates, casually discuss the many job opportunities now available (without mentioning us by name, of course). Remember, not only were many of our Afghan interrogators completely untrained in police tactics, questioning, and even the local languages, but the designers of the interrogation program themselves also had zero experience in the basics of the field. These are the kind of success stories that should excite anyone interested in working for the agency.

Happy holidays to all. Please eat this memo.

 

Big Giveaway for Double Indignity

Hey all you kinkers and flatties out there!

I’m trying to gin up a little flash for Double Indignity in the weeks before Christmas. So I’m going to wade into the waters of a book giveaway, like all the experts tell me.

So if you’ve been waiting for the chance to get a signed copy of Rex Koko, Private Clown #2, as well as a signed poster and who knows what else I’ll throw into the envelope, click on the button below, or head over to Goodreads and look for it in the Giveaway listings before December 10.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Double Indignity by James Finn Garner

Double Indignity

by James Finn Garner

Giveaway ends December 10, 2014. See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Rex Koko fan art!

One of the best parts of my author chat at the Beverly Arts Center on October 19 was meeting my host, Penny Bigelow Golden, and her 8-year-old daughter, Flannery. A stylish scamp, sporting a fedora and a tartan skirt that day, she has told her mother time and again that she will grow up to be a famous French artist. Judging by her depiction of Rex Koko below, she may just make that prediction come true.

And she signed her note that came with the art “Your friend”. That’s cool by me, Flannery.

Ode to an Awesome World Series

Instant Replay

Eric Hosmer’s modified mullet
MadBum casually firing bullets

Superfans from South Korea
The panicked look on Kelvin Herrera

Phantom sighting of the Freak
Plugging Aoki’s defensive leak

Peavy shelled like the Hellespont
Escobar laying down a bunt???

Joe Buck opining from his tuchus
Of redoubtable Mike Moustakas

Gordon’s single to the wall
Cool-as-horchata Sandoval

What the hell is Ned Yost thinking?
I’ll have whatever Pence is drinking

Crawford gobbles up ground balls
Bochy weeps, and Affeldt bawls

Young Joe Panik, Dyson, Cain…
Can we please do it all again?

From Gonfalon to Woebegone

From gonfalon
To woebegone
KC fans are crying like their fountain
That James Shields
A smorgasbord yields?
A surprise (save Joe Buck) to no one.

The Giant hill ace
Has a fall ERA
So small as to be microscopic
While it’s time for “Big Game”
To drop the nickname
And meetings for that MLB biopic.

Your Daily Affirmation, from Brad Ausmus

Don’t be glum
Don’t ask why
Albuquerque’s just a 6th inning guy

Don’t you fret
Don’t you worry
After the 7th, we’ll turn to Soria

Don’t lose hope
Just have faith — when
It’s down to one inning, we’ll bring in Nathan

No matter where
Or what or when,
I’m skipper, and would do it all again.

Book Release Party for WET NOSE OF DANGER!

After a spring and summer of scrivening in the salt mines — how’s that for alliteration? — it was more than high time for a book release event. What good is writing a couple of books of clown noir if I can’t bring a little bit of circus excitement to my fans and readers? Is the writing life all practice and no spectacle? Emphatically NO!

Last July, I had just published Double Indignity and was busy working to finish The Wet Nose of Danger. I went to talk with Suzy Takacz, who owns my neighborhood store, the Book Cellar, about doing an event in the fall. She was interested.

“What do you think about having a couple of fire-eaters in the store?” I asked, just trying to get her attention.

Suzy thought about it. And thought and thought and thought, with the usual sparkle in her eye. (I think she had seen one too many boring, unattended signings where the writer droned on and on about his/her process.) Finally, she had to say no. Not because she was worried about torching her store, or filling it with chemical smells, or disrupting business. She said no because there are tenants living above the store, and she wouldn’t want to displace them if anything happened.

Lucky for me, The Book Cellar is across a quiet street from a city plaza, big enough to be useful for whatever I was thinking. I went through the city and the alderman’s office, as well as the chamber of commerce, to make sure everything would be ducky. The only warning I got came from the alderman’s office. “I’m going to have some music and circus acts,” I said. “Terrific,” spokesperson pol said, “just don’t do anything like fire-eaters or something.” “No worries,” I assured him.

With gypsy music from the fabulous Paprikash Brothers!

It was a beautiful night, and a good-sized crowd gathered for the ballyhoo.

Then we all marched across Lincoln Avenue, into the store for the reading. After being introduced by Suzy T, I read a passage from Double Indignity, the teeny car chase scene from Chapter 22.

Next it was time for a little vocabulary quiz, to see who was up on their circus “parlari”. I was frankly surprised that no one got the first question (a woman with an unnatural lust for clowns is, of course, a “joey jumper”), but most of the audience was fairly literate. I tossed out popcorn balls for prizes to the winners.

Then the audience asked me some questions about my writing process. A friend asked, “Where do you think these insane characters come from?” I gave her some long-winded answer — that some come to mind from a story of circus lore, some are inspired by an old photo, some are born of plot necessity — when really the only true response is, “If I knew, don’t you think I’d have taken care of it by now?”

Next, I read a rather lurid section from The Wet Nose of Danger, involving a “joey jumper” and Rex at a high-society fundraiser. “She had more arms than a spider-woman, and the sex drive of a hippo after Happy Hour.” Then, it was time for the signing, and the crowd didn’t disappoint. I also gave away a lot of free posters.

One of the best surprises of the evening was an old geezer sitting in the front row. During the signing, he came up balanced on his cane and introduced himself. He could’ve been 60 and he could’ve been 80, but he told me that since the age of 18, he had worked backstage with the big cats for the Cole Brothers Circus! He had retired about 10 years ago, but he said he had all the scars he needed to prove he’d been with the show.

“It was all I ever wanted to do,” he said. “The cats were just like housecats, with their routines and their need for attention, and their litter box. I’d never train monkeys. Monkeys were vicious, unpredictable. Big cats were always marvelous.”

I’m pretty certain he lives in my neighborhood, because he was pulling around a shopping cart from the local sausage shop. I apologized to him in advance for anything I might have gotten wrong in my story, but said all I was going for was entertainment. I’ve met a few other kinkers like this before. Circus people and veterans are out there among us. You never know when you’re going to meet one!

All in all, it was a spectacular night! One for the record books! A fitting launch for the latest and strangest “Rex Koko, Private Clown” caper!

(For more pictures of the evening, please check out the photo album I’ve created on Facebook.)

The Blanking Tygers

Tygers, Tygers, slinking low,
Humbled by the sailing O’s,
What makeup will yours be now
If Max and V-Mart take their bows?

We scarce knew you through this year
with superstars bought so dear.
With Triple Crowns and Cy Youngs
The faithful still bit their tongues.

What staff ace learns yet in May
He must recast how to play?
Which outfielder is there that
Can deftly wield both glove ‘n bat?

What cast of manager says,
“Pinch hit? Call Hernan Perez!”
And what manner of bullpen
Features Joba Chamberlain????

Tygers, Tygers, slinking low,
All these questions we would know,
Plus the reason for the fact
Ausmus has a long contract.