Tribute to the Late Tigers Broadcaster Paul Carey

downloadThe Detroit Tigers have had up and down years for the past few decades, but one area they’ve been blessed in is broadcasting. Ernie Harwell was on the radio when I was growing up, and his voice meant vacations, hot nights, Dad’s cigarette smoke, and driving with the windows down. Ask anyone in Michigan and northern Ohio about it.

But Ernie’s partner for many years was Paul Carey. His bass to Ernie’s southern tenor was the perfect match, and while he didn’t tell all kinds of baseball stories like Ernie, he was still a consummate broadcaster. And by all accounts, as fine a man as Ernie was, and his closest friend. Godspeed, Paul, and thanks for all your wonderful work through the years.

Today on Bardball:

The Voice of God
.
RIP Paul Carey (1928-2016), long-time Tigers radio announcer.
.
The roar of a Rouge Plant furnace
Birthing a Thunderbird
.
The muscle roll of Gitchee Gumee
Festooned in spray
.
The ancient trees deep-rooted
Strummed like a lyre
.
The tectonic rumble of two peninsulas
Alive in summer

Today on Bardball

Where the Prime Rib is only $11.99 before 5 o’clock:

Velour, Sideburns and Johnny Bench

Per ’70s star Johnny Bench:
Bryce Harper makes my fists clench.
Bat-flipping is naught but a stench.
Batters guilty best stand in a trench
Lest chin music make their necks wrench
And cause the game’s great fans to blench.
.
To be “old school”, he said, makes a mensch,
Then belched and goosed his serving wench.

Hear Me Babble on the Wireless Box

6a00d83452285d69e20111689fe0cb970c-piJustin Kaufman has risen from improv comedian to radio producer to full-time evening host on WGN-AM radio, and still carries that boyish charm with him. He was nice enough to let me on his show last night to promote Thursday’s reading at the Frunchroom, and also to talk about Rex Koko and “Clown noir.” Click on the link below, I should come in at around the 90 minute mark.

http://tinmoi.news/wgnradio.com/2016/01/18/the-download-with-justin-kaufmann-full-show-1-18-16/

I fear that the only lame answer I gave in the interview is the one that will stick with me for months or years. (Some of us are cursed with a brain that will focus completely on tiny missteps.) Justin asked me point blank a question I thought I was prepared for: “Who is the ideal reader for the Rex Koko mysteries?”

I sputtered some generic answer, yet years ago, I had formulated the right response to this (hope I get to use it someday):

“Rex Koko is written for anyone who has been called out by their boss at a meeting, asked to explain him/herself, and knew the only acceptable answer to the question was to drop trou and honk.”

Thanks again to Justin for having me on.

RIP to the Best Dog Ever

There’s no one begging to be walked when I get home late at night.

There’s no one pushing himself into my lap whenever I dare to sit on the floor.

There’s no one who will bark at phantoms he hears in the Chicago night.

There’s no one who will leave a mess for us to step in when we wake up in the morning.

There’s no one who will sniff at every corner of every fence in the neighborhood, especially when it is windy and below zero.

There’s no one who will love us so strongly and unreservedly.

A couple of days ago, we had to put down Duffy, the wheaten terrier who had been part of our lives for 15 or more years. He was named Harley when we adopted him, but that macho name didn’t suit him at all, so we re-named him Duffy. I’ve never not liked a Duffy. And no one ever disliked him. If anything, he acted too much like a human in the family, getting underfoot, barking to be included in everything. He was pretty uninterested in food yet extremely well behaved. He might have had a dumb name when we got him, but his owner had trained him extremely well.

But his quality of life had gone downhill and wasn’t improving. He’d gone blind and deaf, and didn’t know where he was. Seizures would hit him when he went out for a walk in the sunshine. (I think the sunlight somehow triggered them, but was never sure.) His intestinal tract was irritated more often than not, and when he could find the back door to be let out, sometimes he needed to be carried down the stairs. So it was time to end his suffering. My wife did it while I was out of town on a college visit, because she’s a little tougher than me. (Okay, a lot tougher.)

We probably won’t get another dog soon, because we’d like to travel a little more. But also, because no other dog could really match him. He was one of a kind. He was the dog of dogs. So long, little buddy.

As the World Series Begins…

Today on Bardball, your only source for bad baseball poetry, a recap of a terrific post-season:

What a Season — And It Ain’t Over Yet

So now, my friends, it has come to this,
The World Series of 2015
The kids ablaze on the New York Amazin’s
Versus the Big Blue Royal Machine.
.
Let’s consider all that’s gone before
As we bid the warm weather goodbye
Some teams did roll as had been foretold
While others came through with surprise.
.
The new Cubbie kids swung some mean bats
The Blue Jays refused to show fear
Motown fell dead, now needs a retread
While the Giants await an even year.
.
The Dodgers in their close-ups again blinked
Staid St. Louis became hot and unglued
The Nationals sputtered, then throttled each other
The Lone Star State watched a marvelous feud
.
So when someone tells you baseball is boring,
Whether online, at work, in a bar,
Don’t chuckle or sigh. Look them straight in the eye
And say, “Baseball’s not boring — you are.”

If you happen to be in Chicago today…

gonefishing1As the Cubs play the Bucs for their chance at the playoffs, don’t expect any more of that Midwestern hospitality.  Today at Bardball:

Like Anything Will Get Done Wednesday

If you happen to be in Chicago today,
Don’t fret if nobody makes you pay
For your pumpkin muffin and soy latte,
Or drivers give you the right-of-way.
Don’t book something crucial, say,
Like surgery or a crown inlay.
No one has attention to pay
To anything but what may
Happen when the sky turns grey
And Jake and the Cubs begin to play.

Fun on the Bus with the Kansas City Monarchs

51QlN3YomPL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s poem at Bardball was inspired by some of Buck O’Neill’s stories about the Negro Leagues in The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski.

Fun on the Bus with the Kansas City Monarchs

We rode the bus a lot back then
Murphy was our bus driver
No first name
“Murphy” might’ve been fake too
He was bad business
Gold teeth
Angry eye
A past we never asked about
.
But reliable
Murphy was reliable
You could always count on him
Hearing one of us on the team shout
(and we did it many times a night)
“Hey Murphy! I think I just saw a police car!”
And hitting the gas
And driving like the devil himself was after him

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