Hey, What’s So Funny?

My friend was sad last night. Maybe she was angry. It could have been the wine. It’s hard to tell sometimes on an email. (UNLESS YOU’RE WRITING LIKE THIS, of course, which is awfully loud and means you’re either angry or just confused about that whole “caps lock” nonsense.)

Anyway, my friend has to write me by email, because my old Droid can’t pick up the iPhone emojis she regularly texts to me.

She’ll send me texts that are simply a line of empty squares where the emojis are supposed to be.  Like this …emojiless

I have no idea what she’s talking about. She does it all the time. When I told her that I couldn’t see her emojis, the blank squares started coming in even faster.

But, last night her email was mad-sad. Because the world is ugly and the uglier the world gets the angrier, it seems, the smaller world around us gets. The hatefulness just starts to open its net wider and wider, and all of a sudden everybody just hates everybody else.

“Talk to me so I can hear the accent, but minus the hate,” she wrote.

What do you say to someone who is mad-sad about the state of things? Just like you?

I’ve been reading Elvis Costello’s memoir Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink”, which, of course, has led me to listen to all my old Elvis Costello albums.

unfaithful music

There’s a point coming, but, first, let me just say this about Kindle books.

I heard someone on the radio this week recommend Costello’s memoir, but warned, “It’s 671 pages.”

Wait, what?

I’ve been reading it on my Kindle for weeks now, and I had no idea that it was a long book. I mean, sure it seemed to be taking awhile, and just when I think it’s winding down, he wanders down another tangent. You know, like your friend who sits with you at the bar after midnight and says, “Come on just one more beer, ok?”

Kindle books should carry a warning, “Hey, Book Worm, before you tap open page one, you oughta know, this is a 700-page book. It’ll be awhile.”

Bob Dylan’s memoir-ish Chronicles was barely 300 pages. How was I to know that Elvis Costello wrote the War & Peace of rock books?

Still, very good book. But, I may not be done until Opening Day.

Home stretch

Home Stretch.

Anyway, so I’m listening to all sorts of Elvis Costello, but I keep coming back to that one mad-sad song that seems to fit the times – no matter the time or year or decade. It just always seems to fit.

(What’s so funny ’bout) peace, love & understanding?

Which was a mad song when the “Angry Young Elvis” sang it in 1979.


But, it’s a bewildered, dreamy, and sad song when Nick Lowe sings it. (He wrote it, by the way.)


(And, don’t feel bad if you always thought Elvis Costello wrote the song, because, as Elvis points out in his book, John Lennon thought so, too.)

Here’s Nick singing it in 1974, the year he wrote it, with the band Brinsley Schwarz. Elvis calls the original version “almost tongue-in-cheek.”


But, it’s never felt tongue-in-cheek to me.

Here’s Keb Mo, and his bluesy, folky, Americana take.


A few years ago, Stephen Colbert did it on his Christmas show, with Elvis, Willie Nelson, John Legend, Feist, and (for realz) Toby Keith.


For you Australian fans in your 40s, here’s Midnight Oil.


And, look … here’s Taylor Momsen and the Pretty Reckless!  (Yes, where is the harmony?)


Here’s Natalie Merchant, once with 10,000 Maniacs and now just a maniac on her own (and not spinning around as much).


(Can you hear the riff from George Harrison’s version of If Not For You tucked into this version?)

Hey, Grunge fans … it’s Chris Cornell, with Spanish subtitles.


Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi’s the awkward guy who’s just a tiny bit off key … clearly, there is no sweet harmony).


The gospel-y Holmes Brothers.


And, the one that made me cry. Israeli Peace Activist David Broza, recording at a Palestinian studio in 2013 with the Jerusalem Youth Choir, the only choir that includes both Israeli and Palestinian teens …

Yay, the sweet harmony is back!

I’ve left out plenty. Covers by Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers, Steve Earle, The Flaming Lips, Simple Minds, and more. The Googler can find their versions for you if you ask.

So, what’s the point of all this?

Well, a few things …

  1. Hey, it’s just a great song.
  2. The Internet, with all its videos and stuff tucked into nooks and crannies, can be an amazing treasure chest to paw through on a Sunday morning.
  3. When you’re mad-sad about the state of things, music won’t necessarily fix anything, but it’s nice, sometimes, to know you’re not alone.

It’s been three weeks since baseball.


Waffles, Pete Rose, & Yard Goats

With no baseball, you’d think winter was simply a waste of four otherwise perfectly good months.

You could be right. But, I spent this past off-season productively – reading stuff and learning stuff.

Now, with just two weeks until Opening Day, it’s time to share some of my newfound expertise.

I’m here to answer questions with that declarative I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong decisiveness that comes when you’ve learned stuff (or think you know stuff, or can talk faster and louder than your friends at dinner).

Some of these questions came from real readers of this blog.

I made the rest up. Which is the prerogative of an expert.

Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?


animal house

But, is Animal House still the greatest movie of all time? Sadly, probably not.

For years I’ve said that Animal House is the greatest movie ever made. And, I meant it. Trust me, I’ve watched it a lot.

That the San Francisco Giants remade its greatest scene in 2013 only made it greater.


(None of those Giants  – not even Hunter Pence – had ever seen Animal House. Sad, really.)

I watched Animal House again last week and, in light of the horrible fraternity news that’s been spewing out lately like vomit at a college kegger, it sort of ruined it for me.

(This? Still funny.)

But, drinking too much, degrading women, sadistic hazing, racism? Not funny.

Leave it to the frats to ruin this movie for me. Losers.

When are you going to finish War & Peace?

I started Tolstoy’s War & Peace as the off-season began.

war and peace

I read it because I wanted to know if it was really the greatest book ever written, as literary experts say … and if it’s so great, why haven’t any of my friends read it?

My goal? Finish the 1,200-page book by Opening Day.

I’m often a last-minute slacker … but, guess what?

I finished it last Tuesday.

the end

The whole thing.

The booky part.


And, Peace.

Both Epilogues. The Appendix. And, all the footnotes. Hundreds of them, from two different translations.

I don’t think I can be much done-er than that.


It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

You should read it. Then, whenever someone asks you a tough question – about anything – you can pause thoughtfully, then say, “Well, as Tolstoy reminds us in War & Peace …” and then just answer the question however the hell you want. Who’s going to know?

Let’s try it.

Is Animal House the greatest movie of all time?

“Well, as Tolstoy says in War & Peace’s second epilogue, the present can color our view of the past. So, despite all the dreadful recent news from fraternities, it should not color Animal House’s overall cinematic greatness. After all, 1978 was a very different time.”


You can make up all the crap you want. Chances are the person you’re talking to hasn’t read War & Peace, so you’re in the clear. They’re going to think you’re really smart. (And, a little annoying. They’re probably right about that.)

(Tolstoy would agree with me about Animal House, by the way.)

Waffles or Pancakes?

Waffles. Those little squares are absolute perfection … each one waiting to be turned into a delicious little syrup pond.

waffle squares

By Dvortygirl, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Waffles perfected the one fatal pancake flaw … “syrup slide,” where your syrup slides off the pancake and onto the plate, making it useless.

When we start eating ice cream out of “pancake cones” you can argue with me.

waffle cone

By MarkBuckawicki, CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

Until then, waffles.

This next question comes from WebMD – the popular health website – which really sent me this question by email:



(See how easy this experting thing is?)

This post is just pretext to get us to ask about that tweet you sent last month, isn’t it?

I’m so glad you asked!

Here it is …

my tweet

Orioles All-Star outfielder, and crossword puzzle clue, Adam Jones saw my tweet, proclaimed my puzzle “coo” (baseball, hip, twitter-speak for “cool”) and retweeted it to his 168,000 followers.

aj retweet

I was viral in a very small, but satisfying, way, for nearly an hour.


© The Baseball Bloggess

When not tweeting, Adam Jones plays center field for the Baltimore Orioles.

Yes, I ultimately finished the puzzle, but I needed brainiac Editor/Husband’s help to do it …

crossword done

Finally, two baseball questions.

Should Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball be lifted?

Of course not.

Rules are rules.

In 1989, Pete Rose accepted a lifetime ban from baseball because of his gambling.

In 2007, he admitted publicly that he bet on the Reds “every single night” when he was manager of the team.

Here’s baseball’s Rule 21(d) that is posted prominently in every major and minor league clubhouse:

“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

I think we’re done here.

Pete Rose Banned

What will Hartford’s Minor League team be called?

Earlier this month, we got to vote on a new name for the Rockies’ AA affiliate. I came around on Yard Goats, because it refers to the little engine that shuffles cars around in a rail yard.

Yard Goats won!

yard goat train

By Lexcie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 Just think, a steam whistle can blow for every Hartford home run!

Tolstoy coined the term “Yard Goat” in War & Peace, you know. Crazy isn’t it?

But, he did.

I mean, hey, prove me wrong.