Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Sorry I haven't been on for the past few days. I have been working too much lately. I don't think it will last very long. I should be back to posting in the next day or two.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Reaching a Milestone

We have three kids. They are all in school, from 8:30 - 3:45, Monday through Friday. Which is a pretty good milestone to reach. But here is the real milestone.

Last night, for the first time in a good many years, we put books on the bottom shelf on the book case. No need to keep the house baby proofed any more.

Something new at the zoo

I like going to the zoo and watching the people there. In front of the animals, people are willing to dress and act in ways that they would never do in any other setting.

But I was skimming through yahoo news, and saw that they have a human display at the London zoo. The display includes four males and four females wearing fig leaves, over shorts and bikini tops.

The goal of the display is to show how humans are a plague against nature, which is not very uplifting.

From the pictures, though,it looks like the goal is to show women taking care of men and taking care of each other.

Personally, I thought going to the mall was like going to a human zoo.

Pictures are from Yahoo Slide Show (AFP Photo)


Last night we were playing Scattergories. My brother and sister-in-law were in from Boston, and we had them over after all the kids were sleeping. You know, so we could have an actual conversation.

If you have never played Scattergories, here is a basic rundown of how it works. Everyone has a card with the same 12 categories on it. You roll an alphabet die, and then you have about three minutes to write a word or phrase that fits into the category on sheet that begins with the letter on the die.

For example, if you had sandwich as the category, and you rolled a P, you could write Peanut Butter and Jelly. If multiple people have written Peanut butter and Jelly, then the phrase doesn't count, so you want to try to write things that people wouldn't necessarily write, such as pickles and honey sandwich. When you go over your answers, if people disagree with your phrase, and don't think it matches, you can defend your answer, and try to convince everyone that your answer actually fits the catgory. Then, everyone votes as to whether or not it should count. Majority wins. Sometimes, if you can't think of anything unique, it is a good strategy to write down something obvious, so that at least you can take someone else's answer out.

So last night, we had the letter G, and one of the categories was things that bounce/jump. I considered writing girl parts, but chose not to. It was a good decision, being that my brother wrote girl parts.

Instead, I wrote Gerbil, and when asked, I said that if you throw a gerbil on a trampoline, it bounces.

The group voted me down. How would you have voted?

Saving Lish the Fish

Some of you may have seen Lish the Fish's comments in this blog. For those of you who need some background about her, she is a Jersey girl, loves Gilmore Girls, and reads Air Time to help get through the working day.

Last night, she called me. She was in Chicago, and had just finished a Burger Buddy at Ken's Diner, an experience she says that was life changing. She had never eaten a burger that matched the quality and taste of a Burger Buddy. Had she not read Air Time, it is unlikely that she would have ever had this experience.

I would have liked to talk to her for a longer time, because if you can't eat a Burger Buddy, the next best thing is dreaming about eating one, and the next best thing after that is talking to someone who has just eaten one. But my Brother and Sister-in-Law were visiting from Boston, and we were in the middle of a game of Scattergories, so i had to get off the phone rather quickly.

I hope Air Time can touch and change your life that way it has changed Lish the Fish's life. It is those kinds of experiences that make writing Air Time so rewarding.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Have you ever left everything you had on the playing field? Walked off knowing you were too tired to lift your arms, unsure about how you were actually going to drive home? That you had given everything you had for your team? And worst of all, your best wasn't enough?

It's only a game, but it is so much more than just a game.

We came in last night needing a win to get in the playoffs. A loss or tie, and we were out. We played against a team that we had never beaten, never played a close game against. And twenty minutes before game time, we found out our top defenseman wasn't playing.

But our team never gives up. We have battled with shortened benches before, and last night was no exception. We got brilliant games out of our offense, Shaya and Tzadok and Ephraim and Sidney caused havoc, controlled the puck, forechecked and scored goals. The defense played strong too, fighting for pucks in corners and pushing people around. There was Ralph clearing out the area in front of the net, and Moshe making key stops.

The goaltending was there too, keeping us in the game for the entire three periods.

The first period ended with us in the lead, 3-2, and after two, we led 5-3.

We knew they weren't going to give up, and proved us right, even scoring a shorthanded goal when they tied it up at 6 with a few minutes to go.

Just a few minutes to go, and needing a go ahead goal to take the lead, Ephraim picked up a loose puck and slid it by for a 7-6 lead.

Were we thinking it was over. Did we get lazy. Or just run out of gas. The puck was loose, our offenseman didn't come back to cover his man, and just like that, we were tied at 7-7.

With less than two minutes to go, we put out our best scorers. Their goalie made a few great saves, and we watched as the time disappeared off the clock. Off our season.

7-7 final. A great game. Entertaining to the twenty people who were around to watch the game. But heart breaking. With the loss, we lost our chance to make the playoffs, and fight for the championship.

There is no next game for us. This was our last with this league, at least for a while. Next season we will be switching to a Sunday league, with different teams, different rules, and a different style of play.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This may never happen again

Well, after spending a not very unreasonable amount of time playing the car driving game at www.slurpee.com, I am proud to say I am fifth on the weekly high score list.

Schools In

I took my kids to school this morning. All three of them will be going this year, although my daughter doesn't have her first full day until tomorrow. I am glad that we are no longer involved in any carpool. On the other hand, this means I drive the kids to school on my way to work.

I hope my kids teachers can give them more than skills. I expect the teachers to make school a place where they enjoy going. I expect teachers to help my kids find their interests. I expect teachers to show my children that there is a huge world out there, and that every day, there is something to learn and discover. Mostly importantly, I expect teachers to challenge my kids, and push them.

I have expectations for my kids, as well. That they will be respectful and courteous and listen to what their teachers tell them. They will work hard and meet deadlines for projects.They will be helpful to other kids around them. And they always show up to class with a sharpened pencil and an open mind.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Center of It All VI

You can find the next part to the Center of it All on Air Time II.

mad at my i-pod and i-tunes

or maybe I just don't know how to work the damn thing...

When I first started using i-tunes, there was some user agreement that allowed me to use music purchased through i-tunes on up to three computers. I don't know if they still include that in the user agreement, but I am sure that you are nto limited to playing the music purchased on a single computer.

So anyway, I loaded up my i-pod, and offered to transfer the music from it onto my sister in laws computer.

Now, first of all, not all the music on my ipod was downloaded through itunes. Some if it came from CDs, which I should be able to put in any computer that I want. I didn't sign any kind of suer license when I bought a CD.

So I plugged the i-pod into her laptop, and tried to get the music from my i-pod into her laptop. A dialog box popped up asking if I wanted to replace the music on my ipod with the music from her laptop. I clicked no, and then i-tunes would no longer recognize the i-pod as a drive.

So a few minutes later, I clicked yes, at which point her computer erased everything from my ipod and and replaced it with nothing.

If the agreement allows me to transfer music to multiple computers, why does it not allow me to copy songs onto a second computer? How am I supposed to transfer music to a non-apple machine?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Looking for an MS Word expert

Does anyone know how to use sections to create different headers and footers within a document. I have tried it over and over again, following the directions online and those built into Word. Sometimes it works, sometimes is doesn't. I am using Word 2003.

Thanks for the help.

Isaiah at the Mall

We are in Skokie. It is one of those days, late in the semester, where you will do anything to ditch the rest of the day. Summer is almost here, and in our minds, school is already over.

Lippy comes rushing into my dorm room. I am bored and smoking and glad that it is Lippy who has just walked in on me and not one of the administartion who have been frowning upon our dormitory smoking activities of late. “Isaiah Thomas is signing autographs at Lincolnwoods Mall,” he tells me. He heard it on the radio on his way back from Loyola, and if we go now, we can get his autograph.

Lippy knows my weakness. It is 1993, and there is no bigger star in my world than Isaiah. I do not think. I do not wonder why Isaiah would by signing autographs in Chicago, a city where he is reviled. I trust Lippy, so I get in the car and we go.

But we pass the mall. Where are we going, I ask him. I don’t know how to get anywhere other than to Ken’s Diner in Chicago, but I know when we pass the mall. We have to stop at the Little Blond Girl’s house, he tells me. She’s in town and I need to pick her up. I am annoyed. I want to see Isaiah. But I am a prisoner in his car. So I ride with him to the Little Blond Girl’s house.

We get there, and on the driveway there are two girls. There is the little blond girl, who lives there. She is with her friend from Stern. Gila. The girl I have already broken up with. Twice.

Surprise, they say.

What about Isaiah, I ask.

Just needed an excuse to get you here, Lippy says.

I am excited and disappointed. I am disappointed that I won't be seeing Isaiah, but excited to see Gila, although I don't know why she is in Chicago. We haven't talked on the phone or written in months. We hang out all week, and go to Six Flags and my brother’s Yeshiva in Milwaukee to watch him graduate from High School.

By the end of the week, we are back together again. We will spend time in the summer together, and I will transfer to YU to be closer to her. Within six months I will hate her more than I have ever hated anyone, and will treat her poorer than I have ever treated anyone. But on this beautiful Chicago day, we don’t know any of that.

All we know is it is Chicago in the spring, and Isaiah Thomas is not at the mall.

Center of it All V

You can catch the latest installment of Center of it All on Air Time II.

Actual IM conversation

My friend's grandmother passed away last week. We had this conversation the night before the funeral, but I wasn't sure it was appropriate until after enough time had passed.

Since some time has passed, I think this is acceptible.

11:41 PM
Me: sorry about your loss
Him: thanx
Me: sorry i cant make it to funeral though
Him: there will be a BBQ with romanians there
Me: on the casket?
Him: Grandma's last wish was to have a big BBQ at her funeral
Me: i wish i could make it. can you save me something?

The conversation went downhill from there.

I think we are going to hell for that one...

Back to school

My kids didn't finish their summer bridge work. And with school starting on Wednesday, I don't think they will.

Its not that we didn't tell them to do their work every day, its just that we told them to do it every day last week, when they were bored at their grandparents house.

I am sure that there is a child in every class who finishes his bridge activities, but it doesn't happen in my house. First, the kids have been at camp almost every day throughout the summer, and when they weren't at camp, or playing baseball or hockey, they were watching TV. There is simply no time, even with late bed times and lazy sunday afternoons, for them to do work.

I think school gives kids too much homework. I don't know why they need to spend all day in school, and then come home and do more work.

My wife, a teacher in the school, disagrees.

This year she is teaching our oldest. Stephanie, one of the kids in the class, asked her mom what my son is going to call his mother in school. I believe it will be Morati, but I have not paid that close attention to that conversation.

Tomorrow night is orientation for our daughter.

I love going to orientation. Especially in Pre-nursery. I love watching first time parents hang on every word the teacher says, writing it down and inscribing the teacher’s opening monologue in their precious child’s baby book.

I can already sum up the orientation. Your kid will play here. She will eat here. Two mornings a week she will have Hebrew emersion, and don’t worry parents, she will not drown in it.

Kids will learn how to share, and play together. Maybe even count, if they are really smart. And if they are late bloomers, maybe they will at least stop making in their diaper.

Six years ago, when I went to my first orientation, we were the youngest parents in our child’s class, by far. We were intimidated by the other parents’ parenting experience and their financial success. Many already had older children in the school; some were first timers like us. At orientation, we sat in the little kindergarten chairs and listened attentively as the teacher outlined the program that she had developed for our three year old. We asked questions, and probably took notes.

When my oldest started school, we were nervous. What if he doesn’t make friends. What if he isn’t ready yet? What if other kids make fun of him or tease him or fight with him. What if what if what if.

Six years later, we no longer ask what if. Our daughter is our third going to the school, and we know what to expect. We have seen the teachers and the classroom, and the way kids play with one another.

When my middlest was in pre-nursery, he went the longest into the school year of his entire class without an accident. I hope my daughter can live up to that standard.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

One Night, Two Losses

Jerusalem Pizza got killed last night. We used our backup goalie in the first game, and we were really overmatched. We dropped the first game 13-2.

The second game was closer, and we fought hard, but SlackJaws were too much for us. They added a new player this season, and he makes a huge difference, mostly because of the way he opens up space for their other two top players from last season. We closed to with 7-5, but they pulled ahead, and we lost 9-6.

So it all comes down to next week. We win, we make the playoffs. We lose, we're out.

Be Careful What You Wish For

It is Skokie, and it is Winter, and it is late. We have finished playing hockey or basketball, and it is time for some refreshment. Lippy has a car, and I don't, so I jump into his car, and we go to the one place that can serve all our needs.

7-11. Home of the Slurpee.

There is a man working there with a dot on his ehad. He recognizes us and says hello. We nod back. Lippy is talking and using some of those words that he always likes to make up and pretend that they are real, like funders, and is probably talking about the little blond girl and her boyfriend that he is hoping to steal.

We have gone Slurpee shopping before, but today, Lippy is going to learn what it means to have grown up around the corner from 7-11.

He takes his cup and the domed plastic cap, the one with the whole that is the perfect size for sticking the slurpee nozzle into, and filling up the slurpee. He fills it up, and watches as I fill up my cup without the domed cap on it.

Hey, he says to me, you are not getting enough Slurpee, he says. Put on the cap, he says, and you can get more slurpee.

Lippy, watch and learn, I tell him. It is time for you to learn the secret of the Slurpee.

You see, filling up a slurpee is not as simple as pushing the lever and letting the Slurpee fill the cup. There is a process involved. The Slurpee makes you earn it, I tell him. I am in my element. I have been filling Slurpees for years, and got my education from the Kollel kids who lived in the shadows of the 7-11 and could tell you anything about filling up a Slurpee.

I fill my cup 3/4 of the way, and then put a straw in the cup. I stir it for a few moments, letting the Slurpee breath, and the air trapped undeer the slurpee escape.

The Slurpee settles to a level that I know from experience means I have maximized by air removal and slurpee potential, and refill it, this time slightly higher, and repeat the process.

I continue to fill and repeat, as Lippy watches in awe. Finally, I am finished. Lippy asks to hold my slurpee, and weighs it against the Slurpee in my other hand. My slurpee wieghs twice much as his. He is visibly impressed by my Slurpee expertise, and goes on to tell everyone of my Slurpee wizardry.

Voices on the phone

My family is out of town, visiting Veevs parents in NJ. I keep talking to the kids on the phone, and I realized something when I was talking to my youngest. When she starts talking, if I don't beforehand that it is her, I can't tell if it is her or my middlest.

When my middlest talks, I recognize his voice. But is was not that long ago when he had that much smaller telelphone voice that my daughter now uses on the phone. It is funny, when she talks, and I thiank I am talking to her older brother.

At least my oldest's voice is much different than the other two, and I never get those voices mixed up.

This sad feeling

I have had this really melancholy feeling for the past few days. Looking at pictures, reading the news, watching images on TV of jews removing jews from their home. And then another nut goes ahead and shoots a fe more Palestinians. Tasteless holocaust imagery and trying some good old fashioned guilt on soldiers who are trying to do their civic duty.

It is horrible to witness and I wonder what we could have done so that we would not be in this position.

I try to imagine the euphoria of 1967. It is before my time, and I can't begin to imagine the pride Jews around the world felt when Israel showed the world that no one was going to push them around.

I don't pretend that this pervasive sadness is the opposite of that euphoric moment. not for me, anyway. Maybe for the people who live their, who have fought their, who defended it and for those whose loved one's gave their lives for the land they are now giving back.

I try to imagine that this is a positive step. Cutting off the arm to save the patient, but I hate that the patient needed to lose an arm. 8,000 people lived their. What if their were more who had been willing to live there? What if, instead of sitting comfortably in America, our community had followed up the feelings of thrill of 1967, and moved to Israel? Gaza would be as vibrant as the west bank. It would be impossible to give step back, and wash our hands of it.

Is it fair to say that giving back gaza is a direct result of American apathy toward Aliyah? That if only ten percent of the American religious community had moved to Israel, Israel would be a vastly different place?

All i kow is that when I watch or read about the goings on in Gaza, I feel a tremendous sadness. Like we have let down Israel. And now, Israel is letting us down as well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My Sister

I have two sisters. There is the friendship bracelet girl who we all know and love, and then there is my other sister. She is single and about 26, and made Aliyah almost two years ago.

Over the past months, she has attended rallies, marched, protested, and did whatever she could to fight disengagement. She never expected to change the government, but she felt she needed to do something.

I am planning on joining the "shlav bet" (stage two) march this Tuesday down in Sderot. Why? Do I think that me being there will change the government's decision? Sharon is simply sitting in his office thinking he has suddenly found himself on the fence on the disengagement issue, and this tips him over to our side? No, I don't think that. I do know that I hate inaction. While this march may not change the future of world history, at least I can say I wasn't only against the decision, but I joined thousands others in stating as publically as possible the I disagree.

She has been in Sderot and Ofakim and the Kotel and involved herself fully in the campaign to save Gaza.

This week, though, she is not in Gaza fighting the police and soldiers who are clearing out the strip. On Tuesday, she wrote about her disengagement plans.

I'm going to Nitznim. Nitzanim is the area most of the K'T ers are going to be sent to. I am going with friends to help make the move/transition/expulsion/destruction just a tad bit smoother. We're bringing candies and bubbles for the kids, we're ready to listen to the teens, and help the adults. I'm passing the word around, that I think this is the most constructive place those who truly want to help can be.

She has spent much of the past ten years working with teens in a variety of settings, including Central East and Long Island NCSY, as well as a number of programs in Israel.

We applaud her action, her willingness to help others, and her ability to refocus her efforts, switching gears from fighting disengagement to helping those people who have been moved get on with their lives.

You can read about some of her marches, her life in Israel, and whatever else she puts on her blog at Two Ares.

Double Header Duty

Tonight we play two games. The first is against Crest, the best team in the league, a team that hasn't lost a game in a few years. The second is against Slackjaws, a team that we played great against, have beat before, and last time we played them we had three people missing (and only one person on the bench), including our top scorer and ended up losing by one.

If we go all out and kill ourselves against Crest, odds are that we will not only lose but wear ourselves out before the SlackJaws game. Adding to it, Slackjaws are more vulnerable this time around, as they will be missing two of their better players, including their top defenseman. And we will be missing one of our top scorers for both games.

And the bottom line is, neither game really matters for our playoff chances. Our playoff chances will rest on next weeks game against Outsiderz, a team we are just about tied with but will probably have a tie breaker advantage when we play them next week.

Now playing on the deuce

There is a one-part story called Remote Control Terror, now playing on the deuce.

In case you were wondering, this isn't going to interfere with Center of it All. That will continue for a while. This was just a little diversion for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Is Sports Good For You?

SportPsych Detroit says the sports is good for you. It is constructive, teaches abstract skills, geography and history. And it is all those things, but reading his essay on how good sports is for you is a lot like reading your ninth grade textbook on reproduction to discover how good sex is.

What SPD leaves out is the passion, artistry and poetry that we witness on the playing fields. I have never seen DaVinci paint, but I watched Barry Sanders run all over the Silverdome for ten years.

I have never met a king or queen, but I know royalty and privelege when I see the Yankees play baseball

I may not read Frost or Dickenson, but I recognize poetry in motion whenever I watch an offensive line working together to protect the quarterback.

I have never seen God split the sea, but I watched a miracle one day when Buffalo came back with 35 unanswered points against Houston.

Sports is about John Elway diving for touchdown in the Superbowl, about the Titans working from early August and playing into late January, only to finish half a yard shy.

Is sports good for you? Absolutely. All the lessons that schools fail to teach, about consistency and following rules, are there on the sports field. A ball that lands 365 feet away in the stands, 1 foot foul, is a long strike, and if your foot is touching the out of bounds marker when you land after catching the ball, its not a catch.

Now, lets stop reading so damn much and play ball.

Shooting Themselves in the Foot

I was watching Outside the Lines on ESPN last night. Each night they do a news maagzine style piece on a hot topic in sports, and last night the topic was fantasy sports. Major League Baseball is claiming that they own the rights to a players name, and any fantasy league that wants to associate players names with their statistics may find the stat service fees going up to over $150 a team in the near future.

At issue, as always, is money. Major League Baseball sees a huge growth industry, topping over $150M this year, and they want a larger piece of the fantasy pie. They currently are charging licensing fees to stat services, but they want to raise prices, and are claiming that the players name is their property based on a licensing agreement Major League Baseball has with their Players Association.

But baseball is really missing the point here. Whether you like fantasy sports or hate them, you have to admit this. Having players on your fantasy team increases your interest in not only your local team but teams from around the league. It helps increase the fan base, and keeps people reading the sports section and looking at baseball (or football) stats on an ongoing basis.

If they increase the fees that they are currently charging, they will undoubtably lose fantasy players. And those former fantasy players will not be as interested in watching games as they were when their fantasy team depended on their player knowledge. Which will decrease fan interest, which means lower TV ratings, and lower TV revenues.

Baseball should know better. After the 1994 strike, baseball took a hit that they may have neevr fully recovered from, and the strides they made were largely due to two factors, the McGwire-Sosa home run chase (which we now believe was a drug-induced scam) and the rise of fantasy players. If baseball wants to make more money, they need a better salary structure and luxury tax. They need to keep their hands off the fans money, and stop discouraging fans from following their favorite players.

Apologies are always welcome...I think

When I was first hired by a company, a coworker was assigned to train me. He was Jewish, although non-affiliated, and for about nine months we had a very good working relationship. I had him over for a Rosh HaShana dinner, and I thought we had a pretty good friendship as well.

At one point, though, I was promoted, a job that this trainer had his eye on. From that point on, he was no longer friendly, or even talking to me. I attributed it to jealousy or bitterness over the promotion, and was surprised that over the next few years, he never got over it.

Yesterday I got an apology email from him. I had not given him more than a passing thought in a while, but his name was on a list of people that I emailed, and he responded apologizing and explaining what he was so upset about.

I sent him back an email accepting his apology, and I hope to see him in a few weeks. The truth was it felt very good to have someone apologize to me for something that had taken place years before.

But is there ever a time when it is too late to apologize; When the damage you have done is so severe, or so far back in the past, that an apology is worthless?


We got the notice a week ago. One of our trees, the one on the front of the lawn on city property, was sick. There was no cure. Only one choice. The city was going to knock it down.

Funny, I thought, the tree didn't look sick. And it didn't complain nearly as much as my kids to when something hurts. But I am not a tree doctor, and I am not paying for the tree to be removed, so I decided not to chain myself to the tree in protest.

And just like that, when I went home for lunch, the tree was gone.

It was painless and I am doubtful if I will ever think of that tree again.

But it is different in Gaza today.

They got notices, preceded by talk and rhetoric and protests and prayer vigils and everything else the people of Israel could throw in their defense.

And like my tree, many of the settlements will be gone leaving only a mark on the ground where they once proudly stood.

By midnight tonight, those who remain do so at risk of incarceration, being physically removed from their homes, and at a financial loss. I can't say I understand connection to a land. If given those choices, I think I would have taken the money and left. Quick, like a band aid. Like the tree that no longer lives in my yard.

But maybe that is the difference between living in Oak Park and living in Gaza or Israel. We have no connection to the land here. I can look at the tree being removed from the ground and not caring at all, but they are the tree, and when they are separated from the ground, they feel like they have been mortally wounded.

And maybe they have been.

Center of it All IV

You can find the next part to the Center of it All on Air Time II.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Football Suicide Pool

Yes friends, the Gil Stebbins annual suicide pool is looking for players.

If you've never been in a suicide pool, here is how it works. Each week, you pick one team to win. If your team wins, you get to a pick a team for the following week. You can only pick a team once per season, so once you pick the Colts in week 1, you cannot use them for the rest of the season. There is no spread for the suicide pool.

It costs $10 for each entry. So if you wanted, you could have two chances to win for $20, or 5 for $50, etc.

The winner gets the entire pot. There are no administrative fees.

Picks will need to be in by Midnight Thursday. Any pick that doesn't arrive by that time is forfeited to the house. The house will pick winners for the remainder of the season, or until it loses. If the house wins, the money will go to charity. On Friday, you will receive an Excel spreadsheet with everyone's pick on it.

You can send a check or cash with someone you know or in the mail.

Gil Stebbins
33073 Michigan Ave.
Wayne, MI 48184

Make sure to include your name and email address with the check so that you are entered properly into the computer.

If your pick ties, you are out.

The last person remaining wins the whole pot. He is shooting for 500 people this year, which would make it a $5,000 pot. Last year there were 320 people, and the winner walked away with $3,200.

If more than one person is still alive when the season ends, the remaining people split the pot. This has never happened in the Gil Stebbins suicide pool.

If everyone gets knocked in one week, the people who were remaining get another shot. For example, if there are five people left in the pool in week 10, and they all lose, those five people are still alive and competing for the money in week 11.

If there is a Thursday game, picks must be in by Wednesday at Midnight

From time to time Gil will send out an obnoxious email making fun of dumb picks. Feel free to ignore him.

The first game of the season is on Thursday, September 8. Picks and checks must be in midnight Wednesday, September 7.

Picks should be emailed to gilline2@aol.com

As if there wasn't enough to worry about

I don't care much for flying. There is nothing natural about going into a tube 30,000 feet in the air. Still, I do it when i have to, because flying is better than the alternatives. So this Friday, i will be flying in La Guardia.

I am pretty much aware of what I need to be worried about when I am in the air. They are, in no particular order:

Arabs with boxcutters
Flying into oceans
Flying into mountains
Flying over hostile arabs with rocket-propelled granades
Really, really fat people
People with too many kids
Assholes who like to report to people's parents about what people are doing on the plane (This probably needs more explanation.)
Stewardesses who spill coffee
People with too much carry on luggage
Minyanim that take place right next to my seat

Well, now I can add a new one to the list.

Freezing like a popsicle after the pilot turns blue and freezes too.

Color War

We send our kids to the YBY day camp. YBY is the other school, the one I went to but choose not to send my children to school there. However, the camp is decent, our oldest had a great time there last year, and I think it is valuable, especially in a smaller community like Detroit, that kids are exposed to all the other kids their age in the community. So before we begin, let me say I like the camp, I think they do a good job, and I would consider sending my kids to camp there again.

Last week, they had color war, and you guessed it, the colors were Blue and Orange. Blue's theme was Olam Haba (the world to come), and Orange's theme was Olam Hazeh (this world).

I didn't mind the color scheme, because as far as the camp is concerned, Israelis really a non issue. Also, there have not been any orange rallies in Detroit, so aside from a few people with orange bracelets or t-shirts, there is nothing about the color orange or blue that would make the average kid cringe.

I did feel bad for the orange team, though. Red, blue green and yellow all have words that rhyme with it. How much does it suck to try to right a song for orange.
How can you cheer for a team that you can't write a good chant for. Its like cheering for the Chicago Blitz of the old USFL.

But whatever, my kids were both on Olam Haba Blue.

Anyway, each week, the camp sends home Shmoozeweek, its weekly newsletter. My kids think it is hilarious, and I amuse myself by proofreading it and finding spelling mistakes (What can I say, I do it with everything I read, from menus to newspapers, and I make no apologies for it.) This week's edition included pictures of the team's posters and their songs.

So I am reading the Olam Haba them song, and it is the story of Rabbi Yehudah Ben Tradyon (I think), a rabbi who was being killed by the Romans. The Kinot we read yesterday tell us that the Romans covered Rabbi Yehudah with wet sponges so that he would live longer and suffer more. A Roman soldier asked Rabbi Yehuda if he could remove the sponges and ease the rabbis suffering, and if he too would get rewarded with Olam Haba. The rabbi told him yes, and both the rabbi and soldier died very quickly. A Bas Kol (heavenly voice) came out, and said Rabbi Yehudah and the Roman soldier both earned Olam Haba.

I think to myself, this is an odd theme for Olam Haba, but I keep reading. The next theme song, for Olam Hazeh, is about a sick old dying man. I don't remember what the story was though.

I know that there are two pervasive themes in everything about Judaism. They are death and food. But is it really necessary to make that the theme song for both teams. How about the concept of being in Olam Haba and connecting to God or the midrash about how in Olam Haba, everyone is in a room eating soup, but their spoons are too long, and in heaven, they help one another eat, while in hell, everyone is trying to get the spoon in their own mouth and no one can eat. Or the idea of living in Olam Hazeh with the opportunity to do Mitzvot, especially Bein Adam L'chaveiro miztvot.

I flipped on further through the magazine, and found a poster for Olam Haba. The poster, which was actually a diorama, looked good. It was a split scene. The road toward the left showed the path to Olam Haba, which was littered with sefarim, and had some people sitting and learning. There was a Pasuk going across the whole scene, which I was not familiar with and had trouble reading. SO far, i was OK with the poster, but the thing that got me was the "evil" Olam Hazeh sign.

Toward the right, there was a crumpled up dollar bill, large buildings which I suppose represented offices and going to work, a Jerusalem Pizza logo (Yes, they are more than just the sponsor of our hockey team) and a 7-11 sign.

I know that the kids who go to this school and camp are a bit more to the right than I am, or at least their parents want their children to be farther to the right, or at least appear in public that they are farther to the right, but how many YBY parents would be comfortable with a poster that, when talking about the evils of Olam Hazeh, used a kosher pizza store, a kosher (under rabbinic supervision) slurpee store, money and working to depict the evils of this world.

I know a lot of YBY parents, I went to school with them and see them in my community all the time. I think this poster was absurd, and I think most of them would agree with me.

Anyway, after reading Shmoozeweek, my oldest picked it up and started to read it. I asked him what he thought about the sings, now that he had some distance as color war was over, and he read them for a minute. Then he looked up and said "What the heck does a roman soldier story have to do with olam Haba. How was that our theme song?

He is six today

My middlest turned six today. I wish I could see him and give him a huge hug, but he is in New Jerey with his grandparent this week.

My middlest gives the best hugs. He will spit out a kiss, or wipe it away, but he is always ready with a hug. Not just little leaning into you hugs, huge hugs where he puts his whole body into it.

He loves Rescue Heroes and playing hockey on the street with his brother, and this past baseball season, he was at every game acting as the team's batboy, insisting on going to the games because the team needed him.

Every kid is different, and my middlest is the sweetest of my three kids. He is always willing to give a toy to a friend who has lost their's, even when it means he no longer has that toy. And even though I know this will change, even though I have watched how he cries after doing it, I will be sad when this innocence is over.

He loves watching Monsters Inc, and reading books, and this summer, he surprised us by reading hebrew, even though they don't learn that in school until next year.

He has a tremendous singing voice, and, together with my oldest, have thrilled us by singing Yerushalayim and other songs at family weddings. They walk up to the stage, talk to the band, and start singing as the band plays along.

He loves Israel and can't wait until we visit this October. He is looking forward to moving there next summer, and reuniting with Yiska, his Israeli girlfriend who moved back to Israel this past summer.

He's fun and he's funny, and he loves playing chess and battleship, and yes, there are days when i am lucky to win. He likes playing memory, and frequently wins that on Shabbos afternoon. And he finds great words when we play Boggle.

He likes to do Adon Olam in shul, after his brother does Anim Z'Mirot, and likes going to the shul candyman's house whenever we walk by it.

My middlest is starting first grade next, and I wonder how sitting in a classroom all day will change him.

I hope he continues to grow over the next year, loving learning while developing into a big kid. I hope his next transition, that from American student to Israeli Oleh, will go smoothly, and I look forward to celebrating his seventh birthday in Israel.

Killing with Kindness

There is so much concern over violence in Jew against Jew violence in Gaza. I was very relieved by what I saw on V this morning. There were jewish men singing and dancing, refusing to let soldiers pass. The middle east correspondant talked about the ways the Gaza residents were resisting, by taking pictures of the soldiers and talking about how they wanted to show everyone in school who had kicked them out of their homes, offering candy and other things to soldiers, trying to kill them with kindness.

I contrasted that with what I imagined would happen if the Palestinians were being kicked out of their homes. There would be angry death chants and machine gun fire and violent imagery.

Yes, there were burning tires and garbage, and yes, this was day one of the expulsion, but overall, it was not violent.

I was not thrilled with the language of resistance that the FOX correspondant used, as she was using the language of violent resistance to describe this type of resistance, but what can you expect. She is trying to paint a story that her viewers want to see, and the only way she knows how to describe resistance is through a more violent language.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Have a good shabbos and an easy fast.

West Virginia Here We Come

Some of you may know this, others will nod and say I knew there was something about that boy, but here goes.

I am a native West Virginian. Third generation. I was born there. My dad was born there. And both my grandparents were born there.

I lived in Morgantown until I was three, when my family moved to Detroit.

I know Jack is getting ready to fire off a comment about culture in Morgantown compared to LA, but I don't think the plastic set in LA can possibly understand real America.

Anyway, I noticed on Yudel that there is a big Jewish get together in Charleston the weekend of Shabbos nachamu. And since I will be in NJ for Shabbos Nachamu, and driving back to Detroit on Sunday, it makes sense to give my kids a sense of where they came from and some culture on the drive back.

We'll play some John Denver and sing Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong...
I can't wait. Now I am actually looking forward to going to New Jersey.

The saga continues

You can catch The Center of it All Part 3 on the Deuce. If you're having trouble understanding any of the words, there is a glossary on the page as well.

TV Theme Songs

Last night we finished the first season DVD of Gilmore Girls. The show is OK, but we are really excited that the O.C. second season is coming out on DVD in less than two weeks. Enough of Lorilai and Rory and Max and Luke and Emily. We need Ryan and Marissa and Summer and Seth.

Some shows have theme songs which are really good. I can still remember every word to a lot of the shows I watched as a kid, like Family Ties. Gilmore Girls theme song sucks, though. Over the month we have watched all 21 episodes from the first season, and for the life of me I can't remember the words or do a dance to it. And I can usually do some kind of dance to most TV theme song, even Law and Order.

Storming off too late

Last night Veev went to a class. She got home around 11, right about the time the ootball game was ending, and right before Sports Center was starting. We watched the end of the game, and then Veev started talking about what she had learned, and how she thinks the system of what she had learned about needs revamping. Which was all interesting, I guess. Except for one thing.

While she was talking Sports Center was doing this interview with Terrell Owens. Like a good husband, I lowered the volume, and listened to Veev, only glancing at the TV and wondering what absurd thing T.O. was ranting about. The piece must have run about ten minutes, and the truth is I don't mind that I missed it. I would rather talk to Veev than listen to some overpaid underclassed immature sports star talk about how he needs to feed his family.

Sports Center went to commercial, and when they came back, Veev was still talking. This time they were showing highlights and talking about Palmeiro, our latest fallen sports hero. I was glancing a bit more at the TV, BUT STILL LISTENING TO VEEV, when she got upset that I wasn't listening to her and only watching Sports Center.

Admittedly, this is not the first time she has said this, and it is a legitimate complaint sometimes. But this time, I was actually listening.

So she walked away.

Leaving me to wonder why she didn't walk away during the T.O. segment when I really wanted to listen to what they were saying on Sports Center.

The Mick - The End

I remember listening to the press conference after Mickey got his liver transplant. Press conferences are notorious for their ridiculous questions, and this one was no different. But my favorite question was definitely from the reporter who asked what the condition was of the liver donor. Hello. Reporter. He's dead. THat's why they took his liver.

I started writing about Mickey because tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of his death.

Anyway, I just wanted to finish this with the best eulogy I have ever heard. It was given by Bob Costas, the man I consider to best the best baseball broadcaster in the business.

You know, it occurs to me as we're all sitting here thinking of Mickey, he's probably somewhere getting an earful from Casey Stengel, and no doubt quite confused by now.

One of Mickey's fondest wishes was that he be remembered as a great teammate, to know that the men he played with thought well of him. But it was more than that. Moose and Whitey and Tony and Yogi and Bobby and Hank, what a remarkable team you were. And the stories of the visits you guys made to Mickey's bedside the last few days were heartbreakingly tender. It meant everything to Mickey, as would the presence of so many baseball figures past and present here today.

I was honored to be asked to speak by the Mantle family today. I am not standing here as a broadcaster. Mel Allen is the eternal voice of the Yankees and that would be his place. And there are others here with a longer and deeper association with Mickey than mine.

But I guess I'm here, not so much to speak for myself as to simply represent the millions of baseball-loving kids who grew up in the '50s and '60s and for whom Mickey Mantle was baseball.

And more than that, he was a presence in our lives-a fragile hero to whom we had an emotional attachment so strong and lasting that it defied logic. Mickey often said he didn't understand it, this enduring connection and affection-the men now in their 40s and 50s, otherwise perfectly sensible, who went dry in the mouth and stammered like schoolboys in the presence of Mickey Mantle.

Maybe Mick was uncomfortable with it, not just because of his basic shyness, but because he was always too honest to regard himself as some kind of deity. But that was never really the point. In a very different time than today, the first baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis said, "Every boy builds a shrine to some baseball hero, and before that shrine, a candle always burns."

For a huge portion of my generation, Mickey Mantle was that baseball hero. And for reasons that no statistics, no dry recitation of the facts can possibly capture, he was the most compelling baseball hero of our lifetime. And he was our symbol of baseball at at time when the game meant something to us that perhaps it no longer does.

Mickey Mantle had those dual qualities so seldom seen-exuding dynamism and excitement, but at the same time touching your heart-flawed, wounded. We knew there was something poignant about Mickey Mantle before we know what Poignant meant. We didn't just root for him, we felt for him.

Long before many of us ever cracked a serious book, we knew something about mythology as we watched Mickey Mantle run out a home run through the lengthening shadows of a late Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

There was a greatness about him, but vulnerability too. He was our guy. When he was hot, we felt great. When he slumped or got hurt, we sagged a bit too. We tried to crease our caps like him; keel in an imaginary on-deck circle like him; run like him, heads down, elbows up.

Billy Crystal is here today. Billy says that at his bar mitzvah he spoke in an Oklahoma drawl. Billy's here today because he loved Mickey Mantle, and millions like him are here today in spirit as well. It's been said that the truth is never pure and rarely simple.

Mickey Mantle was too humble and honest to believe that the whole truth about him could be found on a Wheaties box or a baseball card. But the emotional truths about childhood have a power that transcends objective fact. They stay with us through all the years, withstanding the ambivalence that so often accompanies the experience of adults.

That's why we can still recall the immediate tingle in that instant of recognition when a Mickey Mantle popped up in a pack of Topps bubble gum cards-a treasure lodged between an Eli Grba and a Pumpsie Green.

That's why we smile today, recalling those October afternoons when we'd sneak a transistor radio into school to follow Mickey Mantle and the Yankees in the World Series.

Or when I think of Mr. Tomasee, a very wise sixth-grade teacher who understood that the World Series was more important, at least for one day, than any school lesson could be. So he brought his black and white TV from home, plugged it in and let us watch it right there in school through the flicker and static. It was richer and more compelling than anything I've seen on a high-resolution, big-screen TV.

Of course, the bad part, Bobby, was that Koufax struck 15 of you guys out that day.

My phone's been ringing the past few weeks as Mickey fought for his life. I've heard from people I hadn't seen or talked to in years, guys I played stickball with, even some guys who took Willie's side in those endless Mantle, Mays arguments. They're grown up now. They have their families. They're not even necessarily big baseball fans anymore. But they felt something hearing about Mickey, and they figured I did too.

In the last year, Mickey Mantle, always so hard on himself, finally came to accept and appreciate the distinction between a role model and a hero. The fist he often was not, the second he always will be.

And, in the end, people got it. And Mickey Mantle got from something other than misplaced and mindless celebrity worship. He got something far more meaningful. He got love. Love for what he had been, love for what he made us feel, love for the humanity and sweetness that was always there mixed in the flaws and all the pain that racked his body and his soul.

We wanted to tell him that it was OK, that what he had been was enough. We hoped he felt that Mutt Mantle would have understood that Merlyn and the boys loved him. And then in the end, something remarkable happened, the way it does for champions. Mickey Mantle rallied. His heart took over, and he had some innings as fine as any in 1956 or with his buddy, Roger, in 1961.

But this time. he did it in the harsh and trying summer of '95. And what he did was stunning. The sheer grace of that ninth inning, the total absence of self pity, the simple eloquence and honesty of his pleas to others to take heed of his mistakes.

All of America watched in admiration. His doctors said he was, in many ways, the most remarkable patient they'd ever seen. His bravery so stark and real, that even those used to seeing people in dire circumstances where moved by his example.

Because of that example, organ donations are up drastically all across America. A cautionary tale has been honestly told and perhaps will affect some lives for the better.

And our last memories of Mickey Mantle are as heroic as the first. None of us, Mickey included, would want to be held to account for every moment of our lives. But how many of us could say that our best moments were as magnificent as his?

In a cartoon from this morning's The Dallas Morning News. Maybe some of you saw it. It got torn a little bit on the way from the hotel to here. There's a figure here, St. Peter I take it to be, with his arm around Mickey, that broad back and the number 7. We know some of what went on. Sorry, we can't let you in, but before you go, God wants to know if you'd sign these six dozen baseballs."

Well, there were days when Mickey Mantle was so darn good that we kids bet that even God would want his autograph. But like the cartoon says, I don't think Mick needed to worry much about the other part.

I just hope God has a place for him where he can run again. Where he can play practical jokes on his teammates and smile that boyish smile, 'cause God knows, no one's perfect. And God knows there's something special about heroes.

So long, Mick. Thanks.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Some Baseball complaints

In October, when baseball post-season ratings are in the low single digits, commentators will all say that the baseball fan is disappearing. That football is the national pasttime. That there are two many channels and too many segments and national broadcasts can't bring people together as they once. And those commentators will be right. But explain this.

It is the middle of August. The Tigers are playing a 12:30 game in Toronto. I just went home for lunch and turned on the TV. The game is not on any station. Kids are home and baseball people talk about losing kids because playoff games don't start until 8:00 PM and end after midnight. But here is the perfect opportunity to reach out to young fans, and they don't put the game on TV.

And one other thing. How can baseball claim the moral high ground on gambling and have an ad at Skydome (whatever its called now) behind the plate for Casino Rama. I don't know what Casino Rama is, but I'm willing to bet gambling is involved.

Tigers Prediction

I know this isn't going way out on a limb, but I would not be surprised to see the Tigers finish the season at 70-92, which would be a major step backwards and a huge disappointment based on the team's expectations.

They are currently 53-60, and have 49 games left. 21 of those games are against Boston, Chicago, the Angels and Oakland. Call me a pessimist, but I would not be surprised by them going 6-15 in those games. All those teams are in pennant races (except Chicago, but they are berating everyone), and as last night's ninth inning showed us, the Tiger's don't have their head in the game.

The remaining schedule has:
3 against Seattle (1-2)
6 against Minnesota (2-4)
4 against Toronto (2-2)
9 against KC (4-5)
6 against Cleveland (2-4)

They are in a free fall that began at the all star break.

Tough issues

I have been reading news accounts, blogs and magazines, trying to figure out this whole disengagement thing. I have listened to speeches and read halachik authorities on it. And now, a week before it is scheduled, I have figured out where I stand.

I am terribly sad for the jews who live in Gaza. I think moving them is incredibly cruel, and I wish there was a way for them not to have their lives disrupted by the very government that encouraged them to move there in the first place.

But you can count me on the pro-disengagement side of the fence.

There are a lot of very legitimate reasons to be against it, but here are the facts. There are a ton more arabs in the area than jews, and patrolling the area with IDF soldiers is costly in multiple respects. As long as we are occupying them, we can only fight back with one hand tied behind our backs.

Let them have their country, and let them know that they are now responsible for themselves. That they will face the full force of Israeli wrath and military strength should they take this gift and and abuse it.

Sharon fought for these lands. He knows firsthand what it means to give them away. I don'trust him, but I trust a man in his position more than someone who never went to war, who never fought. You can spin this any number of ways, and I choose to spin it this way. Walking away is a sign of strength.

I wish the Israeli government would go ahead and annex land captured in '67 to Israel proper as part of this pullout. It would make me feel like we are getting something for this withdrawl.

Visiting Nurse Ass Update

I don't know if the visiting nurses read this blog, or the crown pointe people, but two days after I wrote about the Visiting Nurse Ass sign, it was fixed.

Beating the Beers

We passed the puck crisply, played solid defense, and had a great game by our back-up goalie, Mo. We played the Beers, a team we have now beaten all three times we have played them, and the 9-1 mercy-rule win was our second mercy game win in a row.

I scored a goal, played solid defense, and knocked one of their players out of the game with a bell-ringing slapshot. I felt bad when he went down, and even worse when they brought him ice a few minutes later, but I did pick up the loose puck with him laying on the floor and take another shot. The guy did end up coming back later in the game, and I thought about apologizing at the post game handshake, but then I didn’t. Nothing was intentional and its part of the game. I wonder if he was wearing a cup.

The important thing is we are now 3-4 on the season, and in fourth place. The Outsiderz, who I am assuming lost their game to Crest, are now 3-5. We are playing a double header next week, and then close out the season against the Outsiderz, a team we have never beaten.

Outsiderz are playing the 0-8 Winning is Optional next week, so let’s assume they win. That makes them 4-5 going in to the last week of the season. We have Crest and Slackjaws in a double header next week. For a second, let’s assume the worst, and we lose both, putting us at 3-6.

Then we play the Outsiderz in the final week of the season. If we win, we will both be 4-6 with a 1-1 head-to-head record, which means it comes down to goal differential. We have a +11 goal differential right now, but with two games next week that will probably change. I have no idea what their goal differential is, but we should find out next week.

Detroit Dissed

I don't know if you guys read Jack's Shack.

He is, of course, a California snob who is clearly still bitter about the whole Pistons-Lakers series. I think this may even go back to the time the PIstons, led by Isaiah and Joe, swept the lakers in 1989. Maybe he is upset that the Tigers beat the Padres in the 1984 World Series. Maybe he is upset that they have no NFL team in LA. To be honest, I have no idea how deep his bitterness toward Detroit runs.

Yesterday he took a cheap shot. I implore all of you to set him straight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mickey Said It

From the Baseball Almanac

"After I hit a home run I had a habit of running the bases with my head down. I figured the pitcher already felt bad enough without me showing him up rounding the bases."

"All I had was natural ability."

"All the ballparks and the big crowds have a certain mystique. You feel attached, permanently wedded to the sounds that ring out, to the fans chanting your name, even when there are only four or five thousand in the stands on a Wednesday afternoon."

"A lot of people wrote that Roger (Maris) and I didn't like each other and that we didn't get along. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"A team is where a boy can prove his courage on his own. A gang is where a coward goes to hide."

"As far as I'm concerned, (Hank) Aaron is the best ball player of my era. He is to baseball of the last fifteen years what Joe DiMaggio was before him. He's never received the credit he's due."

"But god-damn, to think you're a .300 hitter and end up at .237 in your last season, then find yourself looking at a lifetime .298 average - it made me want to cry."

"Every time I see his name (Dean Chance) on a lineup card, I feel like throwing up."

"Heroes are people who are all good with no bad in them. That's the way I always saw Joe DiMaggio. He was beyond question one of the greatest players of the century."

"Hitting the ball was easy. Running around the bases was the tough part."

"I always loved the game, but when my legs weren't hurting it was a lot easier to love."

"I could never be a manager. All I have is natural ability."

"I don't care who you are, you hear those boos."

"If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete (Rose), I'd wear a dress."

"If I knew I'd live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

"I hated to bat against (Don) Drysdale. After he hit you he'd come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, 'Do you want me to sign it?'"

"I'll play baseball for the Army or fight for it, whatever they want me to do."

"In 1960 when Pittsburgh beat us in the World Series, we outscored them 55-27. It was the only time I think the better team lost. I was so disappointed I cried on the plane ride home."

"It's unbelievable how much you don't know about the game you've been playing all your life."

"It was all I lived for, to play baseball."

"My dad taught me to switch-hit. He and my grandfather, who was left-handed, pitched to me everyday after school in the back yard. I batted lefty against my dad and righty against my granddad."

"Roger Maris was as good a man and as good a ballplayer as there ever was."

"Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, 'Sure, every time.'"

"Sometimes I sit in my den at home and read stories about myself. Kids used to save whole scrapbooks on me. They get tired of them and mail them to me. I'll go in there and read them, and you know what? They might as well be about (Stan) Musial and (Joe) DiMaggio, it's like reading about somebody else."

"Sometimes I think if I had the same body and the same natural ability and someone else's brain, who knows how good a player I might have been."

"Sorry Mickey, but because of the way you lived on Earth, you can't come in. But, before you leave, would you autograph these baseballs for HIM." - Mantle quoting St. Peter at the Pearly Gates

"The best team I ever saw, and I really mean this, was the '61 Yankees.I never got to see the '27 Yankees. Everyone says that was the greatest team ever, but I think it would've been a great series if we'd have had the chance to play them."

"The biggest game I ever played in was probably Don Larsen's perfect game."

"The only thing I can do is play baseball. I have to play ball. It's the only thing I know."

"They (the Athletics) should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing."

"Today's Little Leaguers, and there are millions of them each year, pick up how to hit and throw and field just by watching games on TV. By the time they're out of high school, the good ones are almost ready to play professional ball."

"To play eighteen years in Yankee Stadium is the best thing that could ever happen to a ballplayer."

"Well, baseball was my whole life. Nothing's ever been as fun as baseball."

"When I hit a home run I usually didn't care where it went. So long as it was a home run was all that mattered."

"You don't realize how easy this game is until you get up in that broadcasting booth."

Over on the Deuce

You can find part II of The Center of it All.

May not be appropriate for all readers.

For Michelle

With love...

There I was, driving my car
I had only gone a mile, not very far,
Still pretty close to my neighborhood
But the coast seemed clear, it was all good

And what began as a scratch turned into a full pick
And I turned the corner with one hand, not an ewasy trick
And when my finger emerged, you know what I mean
On the tip it was slimy, wet looking and green

I examined it from all angles, the side, and up and sown
I thought from on angle, it actually liked like a scary clown
Then I rolled down the window and gave it a flick
But just my luck, to my finger, it did stick

So I tried to flick it again, it was airborne at last
If my kids were watching this, they would be having a blast
The little bugger did fly, to the window it got
But did it go outside, no it did not!

It stuck on the window, stretched out and thin
So I picked it off again, flicked it again
This time it flew out, and oh my god it cant be
This hot chick in a convertible was driving next to me

And little did she know, and I couldn’t tell her no way
Of the new hair accessory that she was wering today
And I smiled to her and gave her my flirtiest smile
And drove away from there at a speed of 80 miles

Then I laughed at her and thought of her day at work
And wondered if she knew, would she think I was a jerk?
But I really don’t care cuz the important thing is
That I only picked my nose, its not like I took a whiz

Should we be grateful

The Red Wings announced today that they would be freezing their ticket prices at the 2003-04 level. That's great, because I thought that even though they had cut their payroll in half, they were going to raise their prices.

That's not the only brilliant news coming from the skating rinks though. The NHL finally has a TV deal, with the Outdoor Living Network. Yes, the network that brought us the Tour de France will be broadcasting the NHL. Not sure if you have the OLN? Just channel surf until you find the guy in a flannel shirt with the head of a deer on his lap and a carving knife going through the step-by-step process of carving a deer after the hunt. When you find it, you'll know you have OLN.

Oh, and they lifted the Todd Bertuzi suspension after twenty games, a suspension that cost him about $500,000. This, despite the fact that he jumped on another players back, blindsided him with a punch, and broke his neck.

But that is the NHL, a league that doesn't give a damn about its fans.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Mick - Off the Field

Mickey Mantle grew up around the Zinc mines of Oklahoma. As a five year old, his father decided that Mick would grow to be a switch hitter, and Mutt Mantle, Mickey's dad, and Charles Mantle, Mick's grandfather, would pitch to him from both sides of the mound. A baseball visionary, Mutt realized the value of a switch hitter in a major league lineup.

Mutt and two of his brothers all died at 40 of Hodgkins disease, and Mickey never doubted that he would follow them an early grave.

His imminent mortality was one of the reasons the Mick spent so much of his time drinking and chasing women. Surprised to be alive past forty, Mickey once said "If I had known I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself."

As a player Mantle would frequently play with hangovers, a reminder of the previous night's partying. On the field, Mickey was pure majesty; off it, a walking disaster. He ignored his children when they were young, not developing a relationship with his four sons until they were old enough to be drinking partners with him.

In 1994 Mantle checked himself into the Betty Ford clinic, and quit drinking. At the same time, his surviving sons quit drinking as well. A year later, he had a liver transplant; two months later, Mickey was gone.

Over and Out

I'm done. I have tried to get back into it, but, alas, my skin just ain't thick enough. I'm way too sensitive to have my writing, my views, and my personality be constantly critiqued by unknown individuals. I would proably be more comfortable knowing who was doing the criticizing, but Air insists upon allowing spineless, cowardly "anonymous" individuals to comment on our lives.

And so, I leave it to you all. It's been interesting.

Disappointing Erev T'filla

In the fall of 2001, in the wake of September 11, our shul hosted a special night of t'filla. The shul was packed. Both the men's and women's section were teeming with people, and many people ended up in the social hall, where they were able to daven with us through the magic of microphones and a pretty good shul sound system.

Fast forward four years to Summer of 2005. There is another Yom T'fillah called for, this time to show unity to jews in Gush Katif. There are a lot of people who showed up, but not nearly as many who showed up four years ago. There were people from all areas of the community, from across the religious spectrum, but in far fewer number. There were plenty of seats in both the men's and women's section, and there was no need to use the social hall to hold the overflow of people.

I understand the overflow crowd from four years ago; there was a lot of uncertainty and confusion. No one knew anything then, there was confusion and uncertainty, the type the draws jews to prayer. What I can't understand is the almost complete communal apathy to disengagement here.

I don't know what good rallies are for Israel, or shows of solidarity, but there have been none that I have been aware of here. I have seen one orange flag flying from a car, and he tells me he is constantly being asked if he drove off with the flag after the funeral.

At the very least, we should be davening for the people who are being forced from their homes, exhuming bodies of children and family members who have been buried in Gaza over the past forty years, and needing to find new lines of work and funding to build new hydroponic farms.

But no one seems to really care. Disengagement is not part of the local conversation. And it showed, with last night's sparsely-attended services.

Monday, August 08, 2005

What are we mourning for?

It is the nine days, and I think it is safe to say that people take this mourning period a little more seriously than the Sefirah mourning period.

But why? What are we mourning for?

We know that both Beit Hamikdash's were destroyed on Tisha Ba'av, but there have been thousands of jewish buildings destroyed over history. What makes these two so special, and causes us to mourn.

Last night I went to my sunday night shuir, and that was the question the rabbi wanted to discuss with us. We all had different answers, ranging from we mourn because that is what we were taught to do, to we mourn becuase we don't even know what we are missing.

One of us came up with the answer that the rabbi wanted to talk about, which is that we are mourning because of what we lost. The Beit Hamikdash was more than a Herodian style structure, it was a place where miracles were performed on a daily basis. If you needed a God fix, you could walk in and God would be staring you right in the face. Whether it was the lack of flies buzzing around the thousands of pounds of slaughtered animals, the smoke that went straight up regardless of the wind, or the fact that there was always room in Jerusalem regardless of how many people showed up, it was quite apparent to anyone who walked around what was going on. That obvious presence of God is something that is missing from our everyday lives. Sure, we can say we see God in a tree or a in the fact that the world is so complex, but those are things that we are used to seeing, they are the natural.

It did beg the question, if God was so apparent during the days of the Beit HaMikdash, how did it ever get destroyed, how did jews ever sin. But that will have to be discussionfor another time.

The Mick - Early Years

In the Summer of 1951, three men wore #7 for the Yankees. Cliff Mapes, a light-hitting outfielder who was traded to the St Louis Browns in the middle of season began with the #7 on his back. Bob Cerv, another Yankee outfielder, also put on the seven jersey that season. But it was the third player to wear that number in 1951 who gave it prominence. That third player was Mickey Mantle.

Mickey Mantle came up to the Majors for good in 1951, playing in right field, alongside Yankee great Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio retired that year, and Mickey spent the next eight seasons trying to live up to the high standards of the Yankees center fielder.

In the early part of his career, he was not embraced by fans, who fondly remembered DiMaggio and the Yankee glory days. It was only his tape measure home runs, and finishing second in 1961 behind Roger Maris in the Home Run race, that led Yankee fans to truly embrace him as one of their own.

As a rookie, in the 1951 World Series, Mantle got his spikes caught up in a drainpipe covering. He never played pain free again. Despite the constant pain, Mantle was three time MVP, won seven World Series and lost five. He hit a still-standing record 18 World Series home runs.


Programming Notes and a new fiction

I have decided to use the deuce for Air Time fiction.

For now I will keep the fiction that is on this blog here, but will be posting future fiction stories on the deuce.

The first part of The Center of it All has been posted, along with a glossary of terms. This story has been playing in some part or another for a long time. I have tried writing it before, unsuccessfully. I am not sure if I am strong enough of a writer to carry it off, but we will find out.

In case you were wondering...

...I'm in a sports mood lately.


We moved into our home in September of 2002. At the time, I was working in an office that did not require any type of dress code, and as a result, my wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, shorts and a suit for Shabbos.

Zwicker was over looking at the house, and he looked into our closet. I imagine the door was oof and we were painting, as he does not typically look into people's closets when they are standing there. And he was impressed with what he saw. Three quarters of the closet was taken up by Veev's clothes. On my quarter, there were seven hangars. Two suits, two dress shirts for shabbos, and three football jerseys.

Barry Sanders, Drew Bledsoe and Dan Marino.

My oldest wears the Bledsoe whenever the Patriots play. He is a huge Brady fan, and loves wearing the 2XL jersey that almost reaches the floor when he walks.

The Barry jersey is the one I am most conflicted over, still angry by Sanders' last second retirement on the eve of training camp. The Lions may have forgiven Barry, but I have not.

But it is the third jersey, the Marino one, that prompts me to write this today.

Veev and I were dating in late 1994, and someone said we could get Jets Dolphins tickets at the box office. The stadium was not out of our way, and we had nothing else to do that afternoon, so we decided to park and see if we could get tickets.

The game was sold out, and we spent much of the next hour trying to remember where we parked, before a security officer drove us through the lot and helped us find our car.

That was the closest I ever got to seeing Marino play live. In the fourth quarter that day, with the Dolphins trailing and time running out, Marino ran up to the line of scrimmage, pumping his arm, indicating he was going to spike the ball and stop the clock. The Jets defense believed Marino, and didn't cover the receiver who stood all by himself and caught the game winning touchdown.

Marino was the best quarterback I ever saw. I had Marino t-shirts Dolphin caps to go along with the aqua and orange #13 jersey. His fast release made a decent offensive line look impressive, and his precision passes and perfect touch on the ball made the Dolphins one of the most exciting teams to play in the 80s. I would watch him on Monday nights and Sunday afternoons, and he throw the ball better than anyone.

Marino never won a championship, the hallmark by which we usually judge greatness. But there is so much more than a quarterback involved in winning a Super Bowl. He never had the running game that Jim Kelly had in Buffalo, or a defense that could propel the Dolphins to the top.

I was glad to see Marino inducted to the Hall of Fame yesterday. He was, unquestionable, a first ballot hall of famer.

Disappointing Tigers

The Tigers began this season with hope for competing with Minnesota and Chicago for the division. This was good news for fans that have not seen a winning team in Detroit since 1994. The offseason brought Troy Percival and Magglio Ordonez, and together with rising expectations from the Tigers young pitching staff, there was hope that the Tigers would play a meaningful game in August, maybe even September.

The beauty of the baseball season is in its length. Over the course of 162 games, your record will reflect your play. It is why the Brewers could start a season with 12 wins in a row and then lose 13 in a row later that very season. The very length of the baseball season, combined with its limited playoff slots, means it is unlikely that a team can get lucky over the course of a whole season and get in the playoffs. You need to be good. You need to play well. And you need to play at a high level of consistency for six months. Otherwise, time will expose hot teams, and allow slow starters (Houston, Oakland) to meet their potential.

And now, with two thirds of the baseball season gone, we are getting aclearer picture of the type of team we have. A team that has the 11th best record in the American League, out of 14 teams. Only KC, Seattle and Tampa Bay have worse records, and both Seattle and KC have given the Tigers lots of trouble this season.

The Tigers are 11th in Runs Scored in the AL, an interesting failure when you consider that they have the fifth best team batting average in the American League, and lead the league in Sacrifice Hits. Batters are getting on base, they are getting moved from one abse to the next, but the team just isn't bringing runs home.

Two weeks ago they were five games out of the wildcard spot. Now, they are 11.5 games back, six games under .500, and going absolutely nowhere.

An Evening Prayer

The Vaad Harabonim of Detroit is hosting a Yom T'Filla at Young Israel of Oak Park tonight at 7:45. The shul announcements say that we are invited to an "evening of tehilim and prayer for our brothers and sisters in Gush Katif, Gaza, Israel."

What they don't say is what we are davening for. Is it for a smooth transition? The success of the protesters? The success of disengagement? Are we asking for Hashem to do the right thing, because since we believe he does the right thing anyway, we are wasting our time. Or are we trying to change the course of events, in which case it would be nice to know what we were trying to change it to.

As far as our rabbi is concerned, this is a night of unity, where one person can be in the same room as another person davening for the exact opposite thing to happen.

This shabbos, the rabbi spoke about disengagement on Shabbos. He spoke about it from a religious point of view, rather than political, and chose the Ramban and his anti-disengagement stance. Which is fine. There are enough opinions out there that you can choose your politics and match it up to a rabbinic authority. But why won't the Vaad Harabanim do that? Why don't they take a public stand and let everyone know what they are davening for?

They do have a phone number where you can call with questions, but when I called this morning I got an answering machine. I don't think they are hiding. I just think they are understaffed and no one was there to answer the phone.

Happy Birthday Veev

For those of you keeping score at home, Veev is 31 today. I've been 31 for about none months, but never really thought about it as an age. Growing up, there are milestone ages. Turning ten. Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Dirvers license at 16. Voting and buying cigarettes at 18. Legal in Canada at 19 (Hey it matters when you live on a border town). Legal here at 21. Reduced car rental rates and car insurance rates sometime in your mid twenties. But then it slows down.

Turning thirty means there is no denying you're an adult, but there is nothing really special about 31. Flipping through some blogs of 31 year olds, they echo the same opionion.

On turning 31, Mike Essl wrote "To me 31 is a “nothing” birthday. No need to have a big party, no need to really care that much. I mean come on, 31 might as well be 32-34. 35 would be something to cry about. There is one thing though that I am excited about..."

When James Zambon turned 31, he wrote "The past year has been full of many things for me. Many very difficult decisions, many great experiences, many once in a lifetime experiences. Things have been going amazingly well for me lately and I couldn’t even hope for them to go much better."

And when I turned 31, I wrote absolutely nothing, as it preceded Air Time.

31 has been retired by exactly one baseball team, the San Diego Padres, in recognition of Dave Winfield.

And 31 years ago today Nixon announced that he was going to resign, which he formally did on August 9, 1974.

There are 31 flavors at Baskin Robbins, and precious little else to honor 31.

Anyway, Happy Birthday Veev.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Jim Rome show

Jim Rome is on vacation this week. In his place they have had a bunch of guest hosts, including

Yesterday's host, Roger Lodge, had Pete Rose in studio for over an hour, talking about everything from Baseball to the hall of fame to Palmeiro (Pete thinks he should get in the hall, because when he got all those hits over the years there was no rule against using steroids). There was a lot of sucking up to Pete by the host, and by the callers as well.

Today Skip Bayless is hosting the show, and he called Palmeiro the "biggest liar this side of Pete Rose."

Amazing Web

There are some really cool things about the web, and here is one of them. The other day Veev posted a story from the AP about Tim Pawlenty and PETA. Through some internet magic, the link ended up here. The thing to me that is most interesting about it is that the title doesn't mention Pawlenty by name, and it still got picked up.

But it makes you wonder who else is picking up things you post and what they are doing with it.

I don't care, it makes me laugh

There is an office building around the corner from my house. The building was originally called Crown Point, and it has a point structure on the top of it.

The Southfield Visiting Nurse Association has their office in that building, and their name is on the face of the building. At night, when it gets dark, the letters light up, so everyone driving down Lincoln or Greenfield can read the sign.

But there seems to be some lighting malfunction. For the past few days (or maybe longer, I just didn't notice), some o the letters are not lighting up, and all you can see at night is


My wife says I'm like a two year old. I don't care. I think it is funny. I think she thinks it is funny too, but it too busy trying to prove that she is not a two year old that she denies the funniness in the busted sign.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bare Wrists

I don't have a bracelet on my wrists. Not orange. Or yellow. Or green or blue. You can't tell any of my political beliefs by looking at my arms (My hand has a hand drawn heart with an arrow on it that Veev drew last night, though).

And I am feeling a little left out of the bracelet politcal message fad.

Yesterday, I found a bracelet that had a message I could believe in. It is multi-colored, and has one word on it.


Available at 7-11 for 2.99.

That Sick Feeling

I got the sick feeling in my stomach when I read about the Israeli soldier going postal on a Palestinian bus. I always like to think that we, as a people, are better than that. It is easy to say this was different, it was an isolate incident and not part of an organization dedicated to terror. But in the end, it is too similar an act to the violence Israelis are subjected to.

And it just leaves a sick feeling.


Well, we survived the sleepover party. Only three of the four kids showed up, which made it easier, I think, as there was more room on the floor for the kids and their sleeping bag. They ate pizza, played with toys, watched Monsters Inc. and went to bed at about 10.

They were finally quiet and asleep by 11:30, and were all gone by 9 this morning.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Insult to Injury

From today's Associated Press:

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has turned down a request by PETA to declare the state fish off-limits to fishing. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, based in Norfolk, had asked Pawlenty to protect the walleye pike from anglers. But in a response, Pawlenty said PETA should "stay out of Minnesota's proud fishing lifestyle."

The governor's statement added that because of PETA's letter, Pawlenty planned to go out for a walleye dinner.

Bad Boy

This afternoon I took my 3-year-old daughter to the mall for use of the play area. It's air-conditioned, it's fun for her and relaxing for me, and, most of all, it kept me away from cleaning my house all afternoon!

My princess climbed up the toy hippo, looked at me for approval, and jumped off onto the carpeted floor. She met with so much Mommy-approval the first time that she focus on this activity for about 10 minutes straight. Two ladies sat down next to me. They were speaking Arabic and wearing head-wraps, although I could still see their faces. They were dressed modestly in long pants and long sleeve shirts despite the 95-degree heat outside. These were not the kind of Arab women who come to the US and completely throw away all semblence of religion for the sake of Western comfort and fashion. You know the ones I mean. The wear so much makeup, their hair is all done in a sexy way, and their clothes are slutty and tight-fitting. But these women were not like that. They were "frum".

I asked one of the ladies where they are from and she answered, "Lebanon." Then I asked her how long she has lived here. "Six years," was her reply. Asked whether life was better here or in Lebanon, she answered, "Definitely here." The conversation was over.

I thought of my family who lives a Ketusha rocket's toss from Lebanon and wondered whether this woman's husband, brothers, or father have anything to do with that.

One minute later, as my little girl was about to jump off the hippo for the 10th time and was watching me give her a drumroll, this woman's son pushed my daughter off. I got to her as quickly as the lady got to her son. I comforted my baby while the woman chastised her son. She kept saying over and over, say "I'm sorry!" The boy refused, and buried his upset face into his mothers lap. I think he was surprised he did it.

Later, I asked my daughter why she thought the little boy pushed her. She repeated my question, thought about it, and said, "He's a bad boy."

Simple as that. HaMevin YaVin.

Running through my head

I was skimming through yahoo news when I came across an article detailing how the Koreans have managed to clone a dog, and I started to think I was happy for them, because now they will never go hungry again.

I wonder how it works. You find a dog that you liked, you bring a piece of it back to the grocery, and then they recreate it for you. If it doesn't taste the same, can you bring it back?

I think Danica Patrick is hot. And I think she is one of those girls who is willing to do anything. I put her in the same category as girls with tattoos and multiple piercings. Chicks who will do anything.

My wife turns 31 next week. Say Happy Birthday to her. You may recall two months ago, when I found myself at Rite Aid looking for a ten year anniversary present for her with just hours to go before gift-giving time. I am much more prepared for her birthday, though. I have gone all over town loking for the perfect gift. It was hard, but I found it. A Baskin Robbins gift card. With 31 flavors, its a gift that she can keep experiencing over and over again.

Is it just me, or did summer just go by too quickly. We were just throwing out all those school papers from my kids backpack, and all of the sudden, we are buying more school supplies. Where the hell did summer go? Pretty soon we'll be dreaming of these 90 degree days while sipping hot choclate through lips that are frozen to the mug while snow falls around us and our neighbors dress up the neighborhood in red and green lights.

Orange used to be my favorite color. Not anymore. Now it means something. I like my colors with no meaning. Damn anti disengagement crowd stole it from me.

That's all for now, carry on.

I'm off to mentally prepare myself for the six year old sleepover party. And to make sure we took the knives out of the playroom.

DovBear Gets it Wrong - Say Shema at 2 PM

I don't know how much of a crossover in readership Dov Bear and I have, but he is dead wrong about this Shema thing.

For those of you who don't know, there is a public Shema scheduled for today at 2 PM eastern. At that time, an estimated 20,000 people at the Kotel will say Shema, and ask God to A)Cancel disengagement, and B) If that isn't happening, to keep the jews safe and make this transition move smoothly.

DovBear considers this a vulgar attempt at magic.

But he is wrong. T'filla is one of the three things we mention on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur that is able to change the course of events. Sometimes it is an obvious change, other times it is more subtle. I don't think anyone is asking for lightning and thunder to come down from the skies and for the world to change in an instant.

It is just a T'filla to watch over the Jews who are caught up in Gaza, to protect them from harm, and to make this potentially disasterous disengagement policy move forward ina safe way.

At 2 PM eastern, 9 PM in Jerusalem, take ten seconds, and say the first line of Shema. That's all anyone is asking.

It's Over

The season ended one game too early for the Tigers. One game away from playing under the lights. With an announcer and a large crowd. Playing for the championship.

They lost despite Avi's great relief pitching after Roni gave up an early run. They couldn't take advantage of a hit batsman and a walk, and they could never string together enough hits to threaten to score.

We were treated to one of the best little league plays you will ever see, in the first inning. With the score still tied 0-0, the Reds had two on and no one out. The ball was hit into the outfield. The outfielder got the ball, and threw it to the cutoff man, who fired it home.

Our oldest, the catcher, caught the ball, turned, and was bowled over by a kid who weighed at least 25 pounds more than our oldest. Our oldest laid on the ground, and held up the ball.

Out at the plate.

But now our season is over. No more rushing home from work to drive the boys downtown for their detroit games, and hurrying home to catch the Oak park games.

The boys received medals for making it to the semi final game. My middlest has been the bat boy for the team since game one. In a wonderful gesture, the league game him a medal as well. He stood their tyring to look so serious, while a huge smile was creeping in behind his stoic look.

It was a fun league. I'll miss the games and the people we met there.

Time to get ready for roller hockey season.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

MaryAnn Maxwell and her Incredible Earlobes - Part 2

Part II, which is the conclusion of this story, was fairly sexual. And while I don't consider it to be explicitly sexual, that might depend on your definition of explicit. Anyway, I decided not to post it on Air Time, because I try to keep this site somewhat family friendly.

I created a new site, Air Time II (Very original, I know) to host the conclusion of the story.

I don't plan on using Air Time II very often, but it is there for material which I do not consider to be Air Time appropriate.

If you want to read it, go ahead. Leave some comments. Like it, hate it, I enjoy your comments, opinions and thoughts. Even when you disagree or don't like something you see here.

MaryAnn Maxwell and her Incredible Earlobes - Part 2

How Dumb Are We

My son is turning six next week. On Wednesday night, he is having some of his closest friends over for a sleep over.

Big Game

Tonight, our oldest plays in the PAL Little League semi-final game. The winner goes on to the championshiop game, and there is rumor that it will be held at Sheperd park under the lights. Which is really cool.

Our oldest has been one of the best players on the team. A catcher, he has tagged people out at the plate, caught foul pop ups, and provided a great target for our pitchers. At the plate, he has only gotten out a handful of times, and has driven more runs than anyone on the team. His soft line drives over third base have brought home the winning runs on more than one occasion, including against the Reds, the team we are playing tonight. 7:15 at Avery, in case any of you want to come out and watch.

One of the more interesting things about this season has been watching other parents. There are about 11 kids on our team. Six go to Akiva, one goes to Beth Yehudah, and four aren't Jewish, and I assume they go to area public schools.

I don't know what kind of little league dad I would be if my son didn't play as well as he does. We go out and practice together occasionally. I pitch and he hits, or we have a catch on the street or in the park. We talk about the game, and discuss what the right play is in different situations.

But what if he sucked. What if he couldn't hit, or was afraid to swing. Would I be like the mom who screams at her son to swing, and his dad, who doesn't understand how his kid could be that way.

Would I be like the dad who blames the umpire's large strike zone every time his kid strikes out swinging. Even though we can all see his son is swinging too late. Or the dad who is yelling at his kid before each pitch that he throws, reminding him to play ahrd and throw it over and get it over the plate.

I like to think I would be the same if my kid sucked. But I really don't know. Maybe I would be one of those screaming dads causing my kid to tense up hen he is supposed to be having fun.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Big Girl

OK, time for a reality check. How many nights in a row does our three-year-old have to climb into bed with us, for us to realize we have a problem on our hands?

At a very funny point last night/early this morning, I was awakened by Air saying to our sweet baby girl, "THIS IS DADDY'S BED, AND THAT IS MOMMY'S BED. THIS IS NOT YOUR BED. GO BACK TO YOUR BED!"

I feel that I may need to mention here that it was the third visit of the evening from said child. And she doesn't sneak in to our room in a subtle way either. She kicks her way in and stabs us with her little toes. She turns sideways and nearly knocks us out of bed. She steals our pillows and says they are hers. It's not like she's all snuggly with us and so warm and cute.

Air, it's time to lock the door.

In His Bat

Is it just me, or is anyone else amused that Palmeiro had more than Viagra in his bat.

Can you say 3000 hits, 500 HRs and no shot at Cooperstown.

He can sit on the side and call his dealer while Pete Rose calls his bookie. They should have loads of fun together.

MaryAnn Maxwell and her Incredible Earlobes - Part 1

Jack Kay was short. He was fat. And he was bald. Not balding, mind you. Not a man with two bushy clumps of hair connected by thin strands of comb-over magic. Dead on, cue ball, hairless bald. Almost. He did have thick, bushy eyebrows, and a more than respectful three day shadow covering his face. There were at least two dozen strands of hair emanating from each ear, and a dozen short hairs poking through from his nose.

So he had hair. It was just in the wrong place. And no matter how many times he joined the Hair Club for Men or tried different products that worked on TV, the top of his head, from ear to ear, was smooth.

Jack had married twice. The first time, when he had a full head of hair, and was a promising law student who wanted to change the world and make it a better place. She left him as the first signs of baldness reared their head, but not because he was balding. She could live with a bald man. No, she just couldn’t stand living with a man who claimed to be a democrat and wanted to help people, and spent his working hours defending insurance companies. That, and she was sleeping with at least four other men.

By the time Jack met his second wife, he was balding. She hadn't left him yet, but she could not believe how quickly he went from balding to bald. She wondered if this would affect their children, and when she held their first born son and kissed his amooth shiny bald head, she thought, hmm, just like daddy..

But as I mentioned, Jack was not just completely bald, he was also fat. Very fat. The kind of fat that doesn't do obese justice. The kind of fat where people had to actually go around him when they wanted to pass in a hallway. The kind of fat where he had to literally lift up the layers of fat that hung below his waste when he made love to his wife.

And of course, he was short. Not midget-dwarf short, just too short for his weight and his bald head. Tall bald men can try to hide their baldness. Jack could not. Everyone taller than an average eight year old had a bird's eye view of this incredibly fat, bald man who wanted to save the world but instead found himself representing insurance companies and screwing accident victims.

At first, it bothered Jack. But when his client was being sued by a man who slipped on a bowling alley lane and slid all the way down to the pin sorter where he lost his leg, Jack figured that victim deserved it. Anyone who managed to slide all the way down the lane and lose a limb did not deserve any money from his deep-pocketed clients. This was nature eliminating the weak.

Jack was a great attorney. It is hard to imagine how someone who was 4'11" and weighed 390 with a perspiring, reflective head could dominate in a courtroom, but you just don't know Jack. He would poke fun at himself, and play the victim, and sway the jury to see things the same way he did.

Jurors would describe him as a ball with arms, legs and a head sticking out, but time after time, they would side with his insurance company clients.

Because he was so fat, and so short, Jack had some problems. With his stomach pressed right up against the desk, his arms were still a solid 24 inches away from the desk. And being that he was a little man, his arms were only about so inches long in the first place. Which meant that almost anything on his desk was out of reach. He had a specially designed keyboard stand that fit on his stomach so he could type without having to exert himself. But he had two secretaries on call at all times. One, named Sharon, who helped him drink his coffee and the second, named Julie, who wiped up all the crumbs the rolled over his three chins and landed on his computer keyboard.

Jack had never imagined he would have two secretaries, even though in law school everyone joked that they needed two. One who could actually get work done and one who could provide company in the late evenings spent at the firm.

All in all, Jack was pretty happy the way things had turned out.

Until that day she walked into his life.

He had heard of her, of course. She was suing one of his biggest and most important clients. Her name was MaryAnn Maxwell, and just her name brought back warm memories of a childhood spent watching Gilligan’s Island and dreaming about being marooned with Maryann.

MaryAnn had been the world’s top ear model. Her lobes, plush and full, without being too fat or large, had been pictured in fashion magazines around the world. She modeled huggers and hangers, loops and studs, and sold millions of earrings to young girls caught up in the pursuit of perfection.

Men would dream about spending the night sucking on those supple ear lobes, while girls begged their plastic surgeons to add just a bit more collagen to turn their lobes into MaryAnn Maxwells.

She had traveled the world, living among the glitterati. It was a charmed life.

All that was before the tragic accident of May 17. She was scheduled to walk the runway in Paris, wearing Diamond earrings from the Jasper collection, when the post scratched her lobe. It caused a mild abrasion, so slight that few would have noticed. Except MaryAnn Maxwell. Her ears were the most photographed in the world, and the tiniest cut could end her career.

Two weeks later, at a photo shoot in Maui, the photographer was unable to get a decent picture, and for the first time in MaryAnn Maxwell’s career, she was relegated to the page with 16 other earrings and sixteen other ears. MaryAnn Maxwell’s career as a top earlobe model was done. The new girl was a young bubbly young thing with a trimmer lobe named Candice Jones.

The party invitations dried up, and MaryAnn Maxwell’s days as the ear lobe glamour girl were over.

And that is when she decided to sue the Jasper Collection for punitive damages and emotional distress. She claimed that she had been injured while putting the earring on, an injury that cost her millions of dollars in future earnings.

The Jasper Collection’s insurance agency said they weren’t paying, and hired Jack Kay to represent them.

That it was extremely unethical to have MaryAnn Maxwell in his office didn’t matter right now. Jack could barely hear what she was saying. All he could do was keep staring at her voluptuous ear lobes, and fantasizing about sucking on those lobes until she moaned like a little kitten.

She asked him something, and he said yes, but he had no idea what she was saying. Then she shook his hand, patted his bald, sweaty head, and left the office.

The preceding story was fiction.