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November 28, 2004 - December 4, 2004 Archives

November 29, 2004


Wrote, ran, ate, watched football, wrote, ran, ate, went to movies, ate, wrote, ran, went to movies, watched football, wrote, ate, wrote.

That's what I did over the long weekend, in case you were wondering.

We're now almost a month beyond the election and we're already wading in a sea of ennui, bored beyond tears and wondering what might be next. In talk radio, we went from the incessant water torture of swifties and Rathergate and Bushliedpeopledied to, what, the appointment of a new Secretary of Commerce? Time to break out the "what are you giving for Christmas?" topics. Yick.

Personally, I've been more obsessed with buying a computer- finally ordered a new one, should show up in a month or so- and various and sundry business projects and legal entanglements on which I've been working. That's not a bad thing, but we're really between moments right now. After the stuff with which I've had to deal this year, maybe a little boredom isn't a bad thing.

So what did I do this evening? Wrote, ran, watched football. It's like being on vacation.



Winter in Southern California- and by that I do not refer to the areas atop the mountains where snow actually comes down, sticks, and remains throughout the season- is here. You can tell the season by these signs:

1. People are bundled up in winter overcoats.
2. It's not really all that cold.

Okay, to us, it's cold. Low 50s or- horrors!- upper 40s at night, 60s during the day, sometimes windy. And there are Christmas lights all over the place now, lots of those icicle lights and the occasional colorfest. We ran up to the top of the hill to pick up a few things after dinner and as we came out of a store, a woman in an overcoat buttoned to the upper lip and a big warm hat bustled past us as if braced against a stiff wind. Yep, I told Fran, it's winter, or as close as we get to it. I said this while wearing a short-sleeved football jersey. That's as close as I get to the season. Actually, that's not quite accurate- I wore a sweater the other day. But you get the idea.

But we are aware that our overreaction to what the rest of the country (save Florida and Hawaii) would consider mild weather is ridiculous, and we do get to see it in perspective. Sunday night was the perfect example- I watched the Denver-Oakland game on TV, and they were sliding on a snow covered pitch at Mile High (no, I'm not calling it Invesco. It's Mile High, even if it's not the real original Mile High. And Candlestick isn't Monster Park, either, but that's even more of a digression). Snow on TV is great because we're not in it. And that's the best time to live here. When everyone else is suffering under a pile of snow, we get to chuckle and shake out heads and think, geez, glad I don't have to put up with THAT anymore.

Although we still have a snow shovel in the garage. It might come into handy. After all, for some folks, L.A. is Hell, and we might freeze over sometime soon. The Red Sox won the Series, right?


November 30, 2004


Okay, so, I clicked on the right buttons, I entered the right password, I selected the right options, so why wouldn't Amazon take my order?

It should have been pretty straightforward. Three items, three shipping locations, but I'd done that before. This time, however, it kept sending me to a "this page does not exist"-type URL or just plain didn't go anywhere. And when I went back to try again, it would show different things in the shopping cart. EVentually, I ordered one of the items from Overstock.com and did the other two individually from Amazon, and order was restored, literally.

And I should add here that I usually have no problem with Amazon- in fact, they're about the most reliable online merchant. But if I hadn't been a regular customer, I'd have given up on them, and online ordering, a long time ago.

That's a problem as technology lurches forward: it's all amazing, but it's so not plug-and-play easy that I can't imagine most people having the patience to deal with it. Web sites run slow or won't register your order. You can't just buy a new TV, connect the cable, plug it in, and get that cool HD programming you saw at the store or Uncle Weird's house. The computer cursor freezes up, the sound cuts out, the home page is suddenly something other than what you set. And you can't get anyone to help you unless you pay.

Or, of course, if you have a friend or relative who knows how to fix or set up stuff. There's one in every family. In my circles, that would be me. And I'm happy to do it- there's something oddly fun about de-spywaring someone's computer, something satisfying about fiddling with wires and settings and suddenly- voila! Ze trick, she is done!- it all works, the picture's up, the sound's booming, the cursor's unfrozen. But if you don't have that help, and not everyone does, life has to be getting more frustrating every day.

That's not to say progress is bad. That is to say that there's a bundle to be made making things simple. How about a TV that works right away when you plug it in? Oh, right, we had that, and it wasn't good enough. OK, then, how about a way to buy stuff from your home where you don't keep getting booted from the checkout page? Phone order? So last century.

Besides, phone orders don't let you compare prices in seconds, and regular TVs don't let you see the individual hairs sticking out of John Madden's left nostril, so I suppose progress is a good thing. And I'm OK with that, as long as Amazon eventually accepts my order. I shouldn't have to work this hard for a "Get Fuzzy" calendar.


December 1, 2004


I've been living the wrong life.

In the accounts of the banning of the fans involved in the Ron Artest brawl, I keep seeing things like this:

    Although not mentioned as part of the ban, the man whom police say threw a chair during the melee has been convicted of assault before, The Detroit News is reporting. According to court documents, Bryant Jackson was a co-defendant in an attempted murder case that was later dropped and also was convicted of assaulting the mother of his child, the newspaper reported.

And more details:

    In 1988, Jackson was charged with assault with intent to murder and felony firearm possession. The charges were dropped when a witness failed to testify, according to Wayne County court records. In 2000, Jackson was convicted of domestic violence for assaulting the mother of his child, according to Washtenaw County court records. He was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to take anger management classes.

    The Detroit News reported that Jackson's license has been suspended nine times since 1998 for failing to pay speeding tickets and other traffic fines. The two most recent suspensions came last month.

As for the alleged cup thrower:

    According to court records, Green spent 30 days in the Oakland County Jail in 1985, charged with larceny from a building and uttering and publishing.

    He got into trouble again in January 1988 when he tried to bribe Bouchard after being ticketed for a driving offense.

    In July 1988, Green left a halfway house without permission, went to the Troy apartment of former girlfriend Susan Sofy and assaulted her.

    He hit her with a telephone -- breaking her wrist -- kicked her in the stomach and threatened to throw her from a second-story window, court records show. When she ran for help Green allegedly stole her car.

    He pleaded guilty to assault with intent to do great bodily harm and unlawfully driving a car, and was sentenced to three to 20 years. In 1995, Lori Szymanski of Royal Oak obtained a restraining order against Green after he allegedly broke into her home and began stalking her. In court records, she said they had dated briefly the summer before and that he threatened her and picked fights with her friends.

And these gentlemen held tickets way down near the court. Way, way, way down. Cup-throwing distance. Chair-throwing distance. For NBA games. NBA champion games.

I'm a basketball fan. I started going to pro games in 1967- ABA games at Teaneck Armory (look it up). Knicks games at the Garden, Sixers games at the Spectrum, Nets games at Nassau Coliseum and Rutgers. I've seen games in Washington, Orlando, Miami (old Arena and new AmericanAirlines Arena), and L.A. (Sports Arena and Forum). And I've never assaulted anyone, don't have a domestic violence record, never threw anything at any game, and, as a Philadelphia sports fan who was in attendance when the Cataldi Crew were prepared to throw batteries at J.D. Drew the first time he came in with the Cardinals, that's saying something. In fact, I was in attendance at the Meadowlands the night Charles Barkley spat at a fan and hit a little girl with his saliva instead. And I behaved myself- I did not storm the court, throw a cup or a chair, nothing.

And I don't have NBA season tickets. Can't afford them, couldn't get them if I had the cash anyway. I don't sit five rows from the court. I don't sit twenty five rows from the court. I don't sit anywhere in the building. I sit at home, watching on TV, because I haven't been blessed with the disposable cash required to make Lakers or even Clippers season tickets a reality for me.

These guys do. Or did. They've been convicted. They assaulted people. They couldn't restrain themselves at a game. And THEY have season tickets.

Somewhere along the line, I got it wrong.

Of course, getting NBA season tickets is not indicative of whether you've lived a good life or not. (NFL luxury box tickets are) But I was raised to work hard, be kind to everyone, try to do the right thing, and, you know, you see guys who skipped those things and went right to the assault card and there they are enjoying life in those seats that catch the glow of the TV lights while I'm watching at home. And if they have the money for Pistons premium seats, they have the money for flash cars and plasma TVs and all that other stuff. And, yes, that's measuring life by the accumulation of material goods. I know there's a lot more to life than that.

But is it too much to ask that I get even a little taste of that stuff? I don't NEED the tickets, but can I be granted a widescreen flat panel HDTV and a new Mustang GT? Is it possible that in this life I might be able to earn money that went towards cool fun stuff rather than to my business and the mortgage company?

Yes, it IS too much to ask. But the consolation is this: if I'm not in the building to begin with, they can't ban me from there. Not that it makes a difference.


December 2, 2004


Let's take a spin through the latest headlines and see if there's anything remotely interesting enough to write about, shall we? How about the front page of CNN.com, as of Midnight ET:

Bush to tap Kerik for Homeland Security

Got nothing there. Kerik's OK, I guess. Next.

Pfc. England's lawyers lose crucial ruling

Not Abu Ghraib again. No. Mind is vaporizing, must move on. Next.

Bush 'full-court press' on intelligence bill

You know, I know this is important, sort of, but, no, nothing comes to mind except "hasn't this been going on for a couple of weeks now?" Next.

Lesbian minister convicted of violating church law

Methodists? Not my church. Sorry, doesn't affect me. Selfish? Well, I gotta manage my time and remaining brain cells SOMEhow. Next.

Panel votes against drug for female libido

Apparently, there's a problem with it. That happens. Back to the drawing board, I suppose. Opinion? None. Next.

Police dismiss reports of 'BTK' arrest

I'm only vaguely familiar with the BTK murders- Wichita, old cases, rumors that the culprit may have resurfaced. I'm sure Court TV and A&E are racing to get the specials together. I'm not that into murder cases, though. Depressing. Next.

Report: 44 percent of Americans medicated

Can you blame them? Read the rest of the headlines. Actually, I think EVERYONE is medicated, just not all using prescription drugs. Food is a medication. Drinking is medication. Whatever gets you through the night. The trouble comes when they pump kids full of Ritalin and whatever else they can, just to turn the kids from normal, slightly hyper, slightly ADD-afflicted children into something easier to handle. At some point, partneing turned from what's best for the children to what's most convenient for the parent. But I don't have kids, so for a lot of people, I'm disqualified- can't really know what it's like to blah blah blah. Okay. Next.

SI.com: Report: Company official accuses Marion Jones

I only began to think Marion Jones might be up to something when she denied it. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it was the defiant tone of her denials that made me think something might be up. Not that anything's been proven, mind you, but, well, it would explain a lot. It's all- even the Giambi story- a prelude to the big one. You know they're building up to it. You know who has the big target painted on his back. The story won't really explode nationally until there's proof one way or the other about Barry. All this is worth a week or two of clucking, then people will forget. But that's all out the window if they take down Goliath. Next.

Bob Dylan: 'I'm no prophet'

Can't disagree. From the Greatest Song Ever:

    You said you'd never compromise With the mystery tramp, but now you realize He's not selling any alibis, As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes And ask him do you want to make a deal?

Uh, what?

(Don't get me wrong, it IS a great song. And I DO get what the lyrics are about as a whole. But some of it is meaningful only after the consumption of hallucinogens)

(And I LIKE Dylan, so save the long explanatory e-mails pointing to the deep meaning of "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again," because I don't need to be sold on his legendary status. But, damn, some of the lyrics are goofy)

That's the news at this hour. And that's all I got for tonight. Maybe my bad block will break up tomorrow. It would help if something would happen, you know.


December 3, 2004


I could get all worked up over Barry Bonds, but it doesn't matter. Asterisks? Suspensions? Is he lying about not knowing? Doesn't matter. Actually, Jim Rome got it right this morning when he said that Bud Selig won't do a damn thing because whatever he does, people will still come to the park and watch on TV. I'd rail against the moron fans who keep attending and thereby enabling the fraud, except that come Opening Day, I'll be there with all the other morons, and I'll be there all season, watching from the press box at Dodger Stadium or the cheap seats in Anaheim. Cheating? Fraud? Sure, but we show up anyway, and we get what we deserve. Besides, you want to see balloon-headed steroid cases hit 'em deep into the left field bleachers. You don't care whether they end up like Lyle Alzado or Ken Caminiti. You want entertainment, they're entertainers. End of story. For you, at least.

If Bud wants to do the right thing, here's what he can do- figure that Bonds was good for about 40 home runs a year when he started on "the clear." Say he added 20-30 home runs a year over a five year period- that's 100-150 home runs. Be generous and assume he'd still be hitting 40 a year without the help. OK, that's about three years' production he added to his output in five years, so suspend him for three years. Chances are that would end his career, but if not, that'll put him roughly where he'd have been, homer-wise, without the steroids. If he wants to attempt a clean comeback by then, at least his numbers will be closer to what they should have been all along. You can't erase his stats and his average and there's nothing you can do about all those walks or the pennant the Giants won riding on his back. Lord knows there's nothing anyone can do about certain other guys who suddenly bulked up and broke home run records. But this would at least be something.

Not that something needs to be done, because nobody cares. Nobody cares about the example for kids, nobody cares about the inherent unfairness. Oh, they SAY they care, and they may demand an asterisk or suspension, but why should any of that happen if they won't stop paying for tickets or watching the games? That's the true test of whether any of this matters. Will SBC Park- hate that name- be full again this year? Yep. Yankee Stadium, whether or not Giambi's there? Yep. So does it matter? Nope.

See you at the park next season. You know you'll be there.


December 4, 2004


The plague continues.

They now have one of these in my local mall:

Oh, I knew they were in Montebello and Ontario and Fox Hills and opened one in Lakewood, close but not TOO close. That's OK- the fans, despite the team having abandoned them to return to Oakland a decade ago, are still around wearing the colors and acting generally menacing to the general population (except when they discover I'm an Eagles fan- there's honor among football thugs). I didn't think they'd invaded the South Bay.

But they have.

Memo to L.A. Raider Nation: they didn't care enough about you to stay. They only care about your money, which is why they sent these stores down, to let you spend some more on them.

Would getting a new team of our own stop this? Because if it would, that would be the only way I'd support spending the money and making the effort to bring the NFL back to L.A. I don't WANT a team here, but if it would stop the spread of the Silver and Black, please, Mr. Tagliabue, make it happen. Only you can stop MechaDavis in his tracks.


About November 2004

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in November 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 21, 2004 - November 27, 2004 is the previous archive.

December 5, 2004 - December 11, 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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