Classic Dishes...

Can You Field Me Now?

See that over there? On the right? That’s the Golden Slurpee. Nice, isn’t it? We’ll come back to that in a little bit.

This morning, I wake up, and turn on the TV, and discover the Mariners / Indians game is on TV.

So, top of the sixth, and the leadoff batter is Adrian Beltre. He takes the first pitch down the left field line, fair ball, and as it heads into the corner a fan reaches over the fence along the line, with a mitt on one hand, and a cellphone firmly attached to his ear in the other.

And the ball skips out of his mitt and skitters away. Since a fan interfered with a live ball, it’s a ground-rule double. No problem so far, and no real harm done in the game, since Beltre was very likely going to pull into second with a double anyhow. But here’s what makes it Chez Fred-worthy:

They go back to the guy who interfered, who is now pleading with the cop there for security to toss him the ball that he muffed. To his credit, the cop ignores him. And the guy sits back down, visibly miffed that this cop is denying him a souvenir.

And through this ENTIRE incident, the cellphone never once leaves the guy’s ear.

So, it is with great fanfare that I present the first winner of the Golden Slurpee, Chez Fred’s new “You Just Suck” award, now sponsored by our friends at 7-Eleven.

Boardwalk With Four Houses: Priceless?

Before we start, here, let me state that I used to be a big Monopoly fan. A lot of my childhood memories focus around weekends sitting around the board with my friends, playing the game with MTV on in the background. (You know, back when MTV played music.) I even have a couple of books on Monopoly strategy. Eventually, though, I got turned on to European-style board games and realized that there was a whole world of decently-thought-out games that I was missing out on. So I don’t play Monopoly anymore.

That said, I offer this, from the Signs Of The Apocalypse Department: Monopoly is getting rid of the money.

Yep. In a special version of the game coming out soon, the $15,140 ($30,280 in the Deluxe Editions) in that classic paper money will be replaced with debit cards and a calculator doohickey that the Banker will use to perform all monetary transactions. Oh, and all of this is sponsored by your friends at Visa, who are Everywhere You Want To Be. (Page…two!)

Now, Monopoly isn’t a good game anyhow, but I don’t see this doing anything other than making it worse. Consider the following scenario: I land on the Reading Railroad, which is owned by Bob, and Bob owns a total of three railroads. In the classic game, here’s what happens:

  1. I hand Bob a $100 bill.

In this version, here’s what happens:

  1. I hand the Banker my debit card.
  2. Banker plugs my card into doohickey, deducts $100, returns card.
  3. Bob hands the Banker his debit card.
  4. Banker plugs Bob’s card into doohickey, adds $100, returns card.

Because Monopoly needs MORE bookkeeping. I know when I’m sitting around the table, I think to myself, “Ya know, I’m enjoying this utterly random, overly political, completely fiddly game, but there just isn’t enough tedium in the financial transactions! If only there were a way we could make an annoying process even more painful!”

On the upside, I suppose this could potentially have a hand in killing off the Free Parking jackpot

Sonics, Boom

As a sports fan, and as a resident of the city of Seattle, I guess I’m kinda obligated to write something about the situation with the Seattle Supersonics.

For the majority of The Four Of You who don’t follow such things: the Sonics, like almost every sports franchise that plays in an arena more than ten years old, want a new arena. And, again, like every other sports franchise in this situation, they don’t want to pay for it.

Mind you, in this case, they’re right: KeyArena is a pile of crap. It’s uncomfortable, inconvenient to get to, has next to none of the modern amenities that people come to expect from an arena sports experience today, the food sucks, and it was built for one single purpose, basketball, and that intentionally. See, back in 1994 when Barry Ackerley owned the team and was remodeling Seattle Center Coliseum into what would eventually become KeyArena, he was petrified at the thought of having to share the arena’s profits with a second major tenant, like an NHL team. So he intentionally had the arena remodeled for basketball, and only basketball. Yeah, they play hockey in there, but the rink sticks into one end of the seating bowl, making the seating capacity for the building in a hockey configuration just a skosh under 11,000, as opposed to the 17,072 they can get in there for basketball, and also making it completely inviable as an NHL arena. Thanks for that, Barry. Jackass.

Anyhow, it’s an awful building. HP Pavilion at San Jose kicks its ass around the block, and it opened its doors more than two years prior.

I love going to watch arena sports. I hate going to KeyArena. That should tell you something.

(And here’s a kick: the link to the Key above touts the building as “award-winning”. I had no idea they gave out an award for Crappiest, Most Uncomfortable, Least Amenity-Laden Modern Arena. I wonder what the trophy looks like. A golden, shiny dog turd would be most appropriate.)

Naturally, the people of Seattle, having already been railroaded into building Safeco Field for the Mariners and Qwest Field for the Seahawks (well, not me personally; I was in favor of both projects, having had the misfortune on two occasions of sitting through events inside of the Kingdome), are not particularly interested in funding yet another arena for a sports team who is perfectly capable of paying for it themselves if they really want it. And, as a result, the Sonics had been threatening to sell the team and/or relocate if it doesn’t happen. And, with the exception of a few straggling basketball fans, the reaction has been pretty apathetic, and I think one of “Oh yeah? Let’s see you do it.”

Well, on Tuesday, they did it, and sold the team to an ownership group from Oklahoma City. The same Oklahoma City that has been looking for a major tenant for Ford Center for over a decade. The same Oklahoma City who has enjoyed a taste of the bigs for the last season when they shot their hands up like Arnold Horshack and said “Ooh! Ooh! You can play here!” when the New Orleans Hornets needed a temporary home following the devistation of Hurricane Katrina.

And, like all good new owners, the head of their group, Clayton Bennett, stood up and waxed eloquently about how they intended to keep the team in Seattle. Then, two days later, he went back to Oklahoma City and told the people there that he would move the team in a year if he couldn’t get an arena built for him here.

Which means they’re gone, because the reaction of the city, even following all of this news, has been “enh.” And I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, if the Sonics do leave, there is no way a decent arena is going to be built in this city. The NHL is never going to come here, since the NHL has been trying their damnedest to get a team in Portland for years now. No ownership group is going to move a preexisting team to or locate an NBA expansion team in a city where the people have proven to be unextortable. And that bums me out, because I would love to see Seattle get an Arena Football franchise, or even a National Lacrosse League franchise, but neither are sustainable by themselves; they need a major tenant in the building first.

On the other hand, good on the people for putting their foot down and not letting themselves be bullied into paying for something they shouldn’t be paying for in the first place.

The saddest aspect of this story is this: the team could be saved if New Orleans were to get decimated by another hurricane this season, because in all likelihood the Hornets’ temporary relocation to OKC would become permanent, and the Sonics would have nowhere to bolt to.

Do I wish ill on the people of New Orleans? For the most part, no. (The people who went looting, who shot at people trying to help them, who have done nothing since but relocate to other cities and stick out their hands out of some sense of entitlement; they can die in a fire.) But at the same time, I have to say I’d love to see Clayton Bennett get stuck with a basketball team and no new home to move it to.

May I Go Wii Now?

In what could take the title of Most Stunningly Bad Product Naming Decision away from Pocari Sweat or Calpis (never name a beverage after something that sounds like a bodily secretion in ANY language), Nintendo announced the official name of their upcoming next-generation video game console yesterday.

Let me point out, before we continue, that the code name for the project, the Nintendo “Revolution”, was a perfectly suitable one and very much in line with Nintendo’s philosophy of continual innovation and development of new video game experiences. There’s no reason they couldn’t have just gone with that.

So, now that that’s out of the way, dig this: It will be called the “Wii.” At first glance, I thought this was pronounced “why” as in “Why in the blue hell would I want to buy this?” I was wrong. It’s pronounced “we.” Or “wee.” Yeah, that’s MUCH better.

In searching Yahoo to find the news item I linked above, it asked me “Did you mean “nintendo wifi?” Google interprets it correctly, but still, this is not what you want your product name to do in a search engine.

“Hey, Billy, do you wanna come over this weekend? I just got some more ChinPokeMon!” “Nope, I’m gonna stay home and play with my Wii.”

“Mommy! Let’s go to Best Buy! I wanna Wii!”

“Put this disc in your Wii, let’s see what happens.”

On the upside: it’s marketing decisions like this that make my decision to get on the Xbox 360 bandwagon look that much wiser. I wouldn’t have bought a Revolution anyhow, but NOBODY is gonna buy a friggin’ Wii. If the Sony folks would just announce when the Asstastic Buttsnoggler is gonna hit stores the cycle will be complete.

None Of The Work, All Of The Credit

While I don’t consider myself a HUGE football fan, I’m at least tangentially interested enough to follow the local Seattle Seahawks from week to week, and I’ll usually watch the playoffs and the Super Bowl. I don’t stay glued to the set all day Sunday, but I’ll play the hell out of a football videogame. I’m that kind of fan.

One of the interesting things about the game is, because of the one-game-a-week nature of the season, if a team does well enough over the course of the year, the last game or two becomes completely and totally meaningless, and you don’t get to see any of the big stars play because they’re being rested for games that matter more. Such is how it’s playing out for the Seahawks this year, who by virtue of a 13-2 record have won their division and are guaranteed to have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. As a result, sometime in the fourth quarter of the game against the Colts last week, when it was pretty obvious we were going to win, all of the first-string players were pulled out and the benchwarmers got to mop up in garbage time.

The point of all of this backstory? Well, one of the big stories of the Seahawks this season has been running back Shawn Alexander chasing the record for most touchdowns in a season, which was set by Priest Holmes of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003. Holmes found the end zone 27 times that year. And up to that exact moment in the game, Alexander had 26.

So the ‘Hawks recover a fumble and the scrubs drive all the way down the field to the Colts’ 1-yard line. And Alexander, who has been sitting on the sidelines for this entire drive drinking Gatorade, gets a slap on the butt and is sent into the game to run the ball in for Record-Tying Touchdown #27, at which point he returns to the bench and picks up his Gatorade again.

And this Sunday, in a COMPLETELY meaningless game against Green Bay, a game that Alexander will likely otherwise not even play in, I’m guessing that if the same situation comes up, he’ll be sent out to run the ball Yet Another Yard to break the record, and everyone will celebrate him like it’s some vast achievement.

So let’s recap this: Someone ELSE does the work for 99 yards, and then this guy gets put in to move the ball three feet? _I_ could move the ball three feet.

What good is keeping track of this record if it’s so easily hacked like this? Why not keep some guy on the bench whose LONE JOB it is to run the ball in every time they are on the 1-yard line?

Football specializes everything else; every team has a guy whose only job it is to snap the ball to the punter. No other time, just when it needs to be snapped a long way ‘cuz the punter stands back some. Why not this? I would be more than happy to be the Seahawks’ designated Three Feet Guy, and for a whole damn lot less than most of these guys pull down.

Un-Fair Warning

Tonight I made a frozen lasagna I picked up at the store last night for dinner, because I’ve spent much of the rest of the day doing my holiday candymaking and didn’t want to have to worry about making something more complicated.

A few minutes ago, I was packing up the leftovers (the other advantage to frozen lasagna is that it leaves behind plenty of leftovers to take to work for lunch during the week), and as I finished transferring the final piece to Tupperware, I noticed the following, imprinted dead-center in the bottom of the pan:


While I appreciate their concern, and their desire to keep me from spilling lasagna all over my kitchen floor as a result of picking up a flimsy foil pan, I feel it necessary to point something out here:

When the pan is EMPTY, and you are able to read this message, there is no need to support it.

When the pan is FULL, and therefore requires some extra support, the cook will never see this warning. BECAUSE THERE IS LASAGNA IN THE WAY.

I’m not sure what appalls me more: that someone came up with this idiotic idea, or that someone ELSE approved it.

Just You, And Nobody Else But You

Sorry, folks, it’s another hockey post. But stay with me.

Longtime readers of this site know of my utter hatred of that no-good sack-of-crap Ed Belfour, the goaltender of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I happen to think he’s a perfect fit for that team, as I pretty much have hated them long before that scum-sucking waste-of-flesh turd-magnet signed on to play for them.

If you don’t follow the hockey like I follow the hockey, it can be summed up very easily: The Leafs are the hockey equivalent of the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys. (And, let me tell you, I had to make a concerted effort not to type “Cowpies” there, as that is how I refer to the team in any other instance.) The team’s management and fans completely believe that it is their birthright to win the championship every year, and any other outcome is clearly the result of some kind of horrible and unjust bias against them.

Not that “it would be nice if they won”. Not “if they put in the hard work and team cohesion necessary to win”. Their BIRTHRIGHT. They’d have the Cup off at the engravers before Opening Night if they could get away with it.

Anyhow, long story short, I hate the Leafs and revel in the schadenfreude whenever they lose. But I’m getting off the track a little.

Last night, I’m flipping around the games on Centre Ice. Everybody is playing, so there were 15 games going on throughout the evening. And the league’s P.R. people have come to the amazing conclusion that it might be nice to offer up a nod to the fans that didn’t tell the league to go screw after denying us the last season over the labor dispute. So along the blue lines of every ice surface, it reads in large letters:

Thank You Fans!

Nice sentiment. Except in Toronto, where it read:

Thank You Leafs Fans!

Which is TOTALLY appropriate, considering it’s the Leafs. “Yeah, screw you fans of other teams who might be watching, we just want to thank OUR fans, ‘cuz they’re the only ones who mean anything.”

I’m pleased to announce that the Leafs lost last night, and Ed Belfour will go down in the record books as the loser of the first shootout in NHL history. Good. Bastards.

Hilary Daft

Didn’t song lyrics at one time mean something?

I fully realize that, when my two favorite bands are Duran Duran and Def Leppard, I’m in no position to criticize. I have never paid dues to become a member of the Union Of The Snake, I have no idea why the Reflex is an only child, and I am still not fully sure if love is in fact like a bomb.

But isn’t the idea of music that it connect with you somehow?

I’ll explain: This morning I’m watching The View (because Price Is Right repeats just don’t hit me where I live), and one of the guests was Hilary Duff.

Now, I admit going in that my opinion of Miss Duff isn’t exactly sparkling. In fact, I place her a step below the original Hoe Down herself, Ashlee Simpson, on the ol’ Vapid Actress/Singer Food Chain. She is quite possibly the most evil creation of The Mouse, more artificial than The Monkees (because at least Mike Nesmith had some talent), and yet, somehow, her CDs fly off the shelves.

And right now she’s pimping her greatest hits album. Let me repeat that, because I sure as hell know that I had trouble processing it the first time I heard it: Hilary Duff has a freakin’ GREATEST HITS album.

As a result, I’ve had the misfortune of hearing her “perform” the same song (which is also the music used for an ad playing incessantly on television trumpeting her affiliating with the Kohl’s department store chain) around the talk show circuit, on Jay Leno and whatnot. It’s a little ditty entitled “Wake Up”. Which, as near as I can tell, is about how it sucks being famous and how she would just like to escape. To, and I quote, “London, Paris, maybe Tokyo.”

And this reaches the teenyboppers that make up the majority of her fanbase…how? Have we all become jet-setting millionaires?

The sad part of this whole thing is: I can’t get the freakin’ song out of my head.

Excuse me, I have to see if have something sharp and pointy around here that I can plunge into my temple…

The Prince Of Ties

Today, our long multinational nightmare is at an end. Commissioner Gary “Walking Asshat” Bettman announced that the National Hockey League owners have ratified the collective bargaining agreement that they basically sodomized out of the players last week, it’s all official, and the 2005-2006 NHL season is a go.

They held the Draft Lottery today, and one of Pittsburgh’s three ping-pong balls came out of the hopper first, so they get Sidney Crosby. I find a certain irony in the fact that the 30 NHL general managers spent the morning playing with their balls, something the REST OF US have been doing for the last year while the league and its players failed to get this ironed out.

They also announced several rule changes that will allegedly make the game more exciting: touch-up offsides is coming back, they have moved the goals back two feet and the blue lines two feet closer to the middle, they’ve eliminated the center red line for the purposes of determining if a two-line pass has taken place, a team that commits icing will not be permitted to change lines during the play stoppage, and goaltenders now will only be able to handle the puck behind the net in a designated trapezoidal area, and will be required to do so wearing smaller pads than the mattresses they wear now.

In addition, they promised us they will be cracking down on hooking, holding, and obstruction penalties, but they say that every year and it usually lasts about a month before the referees start to ignore them again. I expect this year to be no different.

The biggest change, however, is that there will be no more tie games during the regular season. The shootout has been adopted by the NHL.

Many have suggested that resolving a game with a shootout is like settling an basketball game with a game of H-O-R-S-E. Many would be right.

One of the great things about hockey was that it recognized that some nights, two teams are simply just as good (or just as bad), and that nothing was decided at the end of sixty-five minutes. And so each team gets a point (two points in the standings are awarded to a game’s winner) and we go on our way. Well, no more. The “gotta have a winner!” conditioning of the average American idiot sports fan has prevailed, and the dumbing down of the planet continues.

In the last week or so, the rumor that was buzzing around that the shootout would only take place after a five minute four-on-four overtime, followed by a three-minute three-on-three overtime. I could have lived with that. I’ve been advocating for OT to be extended to ten minutes for as long as I’ve been watching hockey, anyhow, and that seemed an acceptable compromise, especially with the amount of ice that would have been opened up during that three-a-side period. The chances of someone scoring in OT and avoiding the shootout would have been pretty high.

But that’s not the best part: Not only is the shooting happening immediately after the already-too-short five minute overtime, but instead of five participants per side taking part, like in, I don’t know, EVERY OTHER SHOOTOUT IN THE WORLD, there will only be three shooters per side. ‘Cuz, you know, that extra couple minutes the other four guys would have taken might be the difference between landing a TV deal and not. The NHL can’t even get a freakin’ shootout right.

So if a regular shootout is like playing H-O-R-S-E, the Shootout Lite is like playing H-O-R. Which, ironically enough, is exactly how I feel about Gary Bettman right now.

Buck Sucks

Yesterday was the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Detroit. Like most sports fans, I normally find most All-Star Games to be horrendously dull affairs, as they are exhibitions where the players spend three hours patting each other on the ass and playing at 50% so as not to get injured. However, baseball has impressed me just a little in the last couple years by making it worth something: the league that wins the All-Star Game is awarded home field advantage in the World Series. A small prize, sure, and a gimmick, but it at least makes me a little interested in the result.

I didn’t watch the broadcast on Fox. Why? Tim McCarver. I like Joe Buck fine…in fact I think he’s one of the brightest young broadcasters in the business. But Tim McCarver is a blithering idiot, and as a former sports broadcaster it hurts my head to watch him receive a paycheck for his moronic commentary.

So, it was the high esteem in which I hold Joe Buck that made me sad to see this. Apparently, during the game, some fan unfurled a mysterious banner over a Corvette ad in the outfield, designed to look like an ad for a website. The broadcast team covered it extensively, discussing among themselves what the banner might all be about, as if it were a large-scale version of the “John 3:16” stunt.

Except they KNEW what it was all about, because the whole thing was a stunt by Chevrolet, and Fox was completely in on it.

Man, I realize it’s Fox, and this shouldn’t surprise me. But up in that booth we expect the guys calling the game to be journalists, and behave accordingly. They are to report on what is happening on the field of play, use whatever expertise they might have to provide insight on that, and, yeah, pimp sponsors and the network, but there should be no question when said pimpage is going on.

That said, with some regret, we award an Oreck Vacuums “You Just Suck” award to Joe Buck. Your dad would never have done that, Joe.

(Giving McCarver one along with him would be redundant, as a charter member of the Suck Hall Of Fame.)