So if the fur hat fits

So I’ve been working on my essay about aesthetics, and it’s taking longer than I expected, and I suddenly realize I’m writing the word “so” about twice a paragraph. So I guess we all have our personal language tics. So I guess I’m no Peter Gabriel.

So I finished last in the Primey balloting for best baseball weblog. I’m not surprised. My finishing first would be akin to a cartoon winning the Best Picture Oscar. The award for sites like mine is simply to be nominated. So congratulations to the winners.

So speaking of cartoons, I made one while my brain got stuck on the aesthetics essay. It’s a fanimutation with a baseball twist. It’s actually a “translation” of a Swedish fanimutationish flash video called “Ansiktsburk”, which in turn is a “translation” into Swedish of a Lebanese pop song from the early 1980’s.

So if you have Flash 6.0 or greater, you can view my cartoon, “Fur Hat” (300kb).

A House Full of Condiments

I have a confession to make. I’m actually starting to enjoy some of the spam I get now. As spam gets closer and closer to real human writing to fool the spam filters, it’s starting to fool me, too. I’ve already written one poem using spam as a model.

Here’s the text content of a spam email I got today. It sounds like a poorly translated confessional poem:

That could well be the answer. I’m cold, you said, staring at the continuation we had to feel through yesterday. (Things were looking worse.) I’d thought it was sad to hate the forest the way she’d done.

A house full of condiments and no food. He wanted to know more. What is the answer? (I’m loving the way you walk with me so quietly, contentedly.)

I can never describe the walk back to my truck. Love what you do and do what you love And for ten minutes, he was a hero. It was time…

(I’m loving the way you walk with me so quietly, contentedly.) Can you tell me the answer? she asked. I’m evil. The same thing we do every night, he replied. A house full of condiments and no food.

This cracked me up. Which leads me to a question: would spam be any less evil if it actually contained messages with some artistic merit?

Hmm…I wonder if I could sell my Random Diamond Note Generator technology to a spammer? Imagine getting spam like this:

Many fans are betting that the Phillies will shift Jimmy Rollins to another position, perhaps second base, but that could change if Marlon Byrd consolidates his debt more quickly than expected, or if Todd Pratt, who, after receiving new medication, can finally learn to hit a changeup, which he is practicing to do off of satellite TV images of Eric Milton and Billy Wagner throwing batting practice.

On second thought, never mind…

Fragments

today my
thoughts won’t
crystallize

Winter sport snowing complaining
Temper too short frozen raining
Bone blood the days
Report ears a phrase
Pitchers and catchers spring training.

incoherence
fractured ice on a melting stream

Ice: my true nature
is wet. Water: I long for
evaporation.

the air is full of himself

Site Updates

Miscellaneous jibber-jabber:

I’ve now got a beta version of the 2004 Fantasy Draft Simulator available. I’ll take a break from it for awhile to work on presenting my art theory, and then I’ll finish it off in another week or so.

I’ve added more Humbug Soup. The latest one, #4, is entitled What the Dodgers have with DePodesta.

There’s a nice discussion about baseball songs over at Baseball Primer. My two daughters (ages 6 and 3) have a strong opinion on this. They both agree that “Move Over Babe (Here Comes Henry)” is by far the best baseball song ever. “D-O-D-G-E-R-S Song” places a distant second. Hmm…I better go make sure my theory about art can explain this…

[UPDATE:] My wife thinks my six-year-old likes “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?” second best, and that my three-year-old prefers “I Love Mickey”. I guess I was probably projecting my own preference on them. Well, at least I was right about “Move Over Babe”. The music is from a CD called Baseball’s Greatest Hits. My kids love to listen to it. I highly recommended the CD for baseball fans, especially those with kids. But you might have to burn a copy without the Tommy Lasorda bleepfest, unless you want to try to explain it to them.

A-Rod a Yankee

I’m going to try a little experiment. I’m going to translate some poems, not just into English, but into Baseball. I suspect the result will be an exercise in corniness and cliché, but that’s never stopped me before.

This translation is of a poem by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. It’s called “En värld är varje människa” (Every person is a world). After learning that Alex Rodriguez will be a New York Yankee, it seems appropriate, somehow.

Every person is a team, with a roster
full of egos in silent rebellion.
Each player is a prisoner
inside a thousand possible battles
against a thousand possible enemies, and these battles
though incomplete, truly exist,
as real as I am. And the stars
and superstars who rule these possibilities
are themselves trapped
inside some larger entity whose ego and soul
they understand as little as we understand
theirs. Their losses and victories
paint the colors of our emotions.

The clear evening sky sparkles.
Beyond the horizon, a mighty steamship passes by.
We’re unaware of it until the swell hits the shore,
first one, then another, and many more,
the waves crashing and rumbling until everything settles down
as it was before. And yet, everything is different.

A strange anxiety casts a shadow on us,
telling us that a voyage has begun,
that a possibility has been unleashed.

February Blues

Do baseball statistics need better marketing? I don’t know. Do foul poles need better engineering? Does infield dirt need better tech support?

Bah! I hate February.

Months and months of winter. Indoors, confinement. Outdoors, concealment, under layers of jackets and ski hats and scarves. Long dark nights. Clouds, rain, snow and cold.

Every year from mid-February through early March, I suffer the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. My emotions bubble to the surface, ready to pop at the slightest touch. I get extremely irritable. I get angry for almost no reason. Setbacks make me depressed. Sometimes I even have panic attacks.

The same brain chemistry that makes you sleepy at night and alert in daylight causes SAD. A long winter with little sunlight builds up a light deficit in my brain. In February, the debt becomes due. My mind goes into a haze.

It’s not so bad here in America. In Sweden, where I’ve spent three winters of my life, the symptoms are far worse. That far north, the sun only spends a few hours each day in the sky. It peeks up over the horizon and drops right back down again. It provides no warmth. It’s just a little yellow dot off in the distance.

In the fogs of February, the sun is an abstraction. Joy is an abstraction. We can talk about them, but they are not real to me. The only thing that seems clear is that full control of your thoughts and feelings is an illusion.

The most religious experience I’ve ever had was after my first winter in Sweden. One day in late March, I walked outside. The temperature was probably about 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). The snow was melting all around. I looked up, and was stunned. I could actually feel the warmth of the sun on my face.

A true miracle.

At some point during the long Swedish winter, I had ceased to believe in the sun. I had become a solar atheist. But with a single, real sensation, I was born again. For several minutes, I just stood there, absorbing the warm rays like a dry sponge sucks up water. Hallelujah!

Back in the USA, it’s baseball that February transforms into abstraction. There are no games, no trades, no real baseball experiences. Baseball talk just feels hollow, without substance. You can try to touch it, but like fog, you can’t grab it. It’s not there. Everything seems absurd, like so much infield dirt tech support.

But in March, the first game I hear on the radio from spring training is my salvation. The rhythm of the broadcast, the sounds of the ballpark, the unfolding drama of the game: my senses bathe in the return of real baseball. When I feel baseball again, I feel my true self returning with it.

So it’s mid-February now. Today, we are babysitting my wife’s eight-year-old nephew and five-month-old niece, in addition to our own two girls, ages 6 and 3. My wife is taking care of the baby; I’m trying to handle the other three kids.

The nephew is always hungry. No sooner do you feed him one thing, than he’s asking what’s next. Usually, I find it amusing. Today, I find it annoying.

My wife put on a John Denver CD to sing to the baby. I start making lunch. The baby starts crying. I am reminded how absolutely impossible it is to ignore a crying baby. Nature’s perfect annoyance. My wife gives her a bottle. Things quiet down again, for the moment.

So John Denver sings. I cook. And a strange sensation comes over me. I am being profoundly moved by the music. A deep, emotional reaction. To John Denver.

That just ain’t right.

At that moment, I realized that my February blues had set in.

The baby starts crying again. Bottle won’t help this time. Can’t figure out what’s wrong. My three-year-old picks this moment to become jealous of the attention her mother is giving someone else’s baby, and starts a temper tantrum. “I want to throw all the food in the world on the floor! I want to break every window everywhere!”

I want to do something, anything, to make them stop crying.

The baby suddenly reveals what’s wrong. She also reveals she is ready for a larger diaper size. End temper tantrum: three year olds find messy diapers fascinating. Relief.

The stereo switches CDs: Carole King, Tapestry. I finish cooking lunch, and put it on the table for the kids. I go back to the kitchen, sit down, put my head in my hands, and breathe a deep heavy sigh. Three weeks to go.

Carole King sings:

Snow is cold, and rain is wet.
Chills my soul right to the marrow.

I won’t be happy till I see you alone again.
Till I’m home again and feeling right.

I wanna be home again and feeling right.

Nephew cleans off his plate and asks for more. He impatiently tries to con the girls into giving him some of their food. The girls respond by trying to annoy him. They start bickering.

I have a strong urge to put a stop to it. Instead, I put a stop to myself. I don’t need to control everything that’s going on. I can’t control everything. Control is an illusion. At some point, insisting on it is counterproductive. Let it go. Let the kids play.

Oh, and the original question: do baseball statistics need better marketing? My opinion: there are only 30 people in the world, one for each team, who need good baseball statistics. To the rest of us, statistics are an illusion: a trick that somehow we can control the fates of our favorite teams. We can’t.

The illusion is nice, but at some point, you’re better off just stepping back and taking a deep breath. Let the kids play.

Web Site Redesign

I finally got the new design up. Whew!

I was getting pretty sick of the old look. This blog has been up for a year now, so it’s time for a change. And the nominees are:

  • New color scheme.
    I don’t know why I had red on the old one. It’s my least favorite color. I wanted something more clearly associated with baseball. So I picked a color scheme to have an old-time scoreboardy feel to it. Or should I say, a scorebardy feel?
     
  • New logo.
    It’s kind of a baseball field sliced in half, or something.
     
  • Tabbed navigation.
    I read somewhere that this is a good thing for usability. I hope so.
     
  • Related info area.
    One problem I’ve had is that if you put hyperlinks inside a poem, it distracts from the poem. Your eye goes right to the link. So I needed somewhere less distracting to put links. Off to the side of the page they go! Now all I have to do is go back through my archives and add those links everywhere.
     
  • New About section.
    Now in non-fiction flavors! Learn almost everything about me. Or not.
     
  • Updated Periodic Table.
    Any site I didn’t visit regularly was replaced. Also, a mini-sized version on the home page.
     
  • They said ‘Humbug’.
    The word ‘humbug’ has been replaced by ‘B.S.” in America. That in itself is humbug. I want to bring the word back. So to encourage its revival, I’ll highlight any media use of the term on left side of the home page. (“Bah, humbug” doesn’t count.)
     
  • Humbug Soup.
    A little anagram game. If people like it, I’ll make more.
     
  • Mock Swedish Translator.
    In case you need it.
     
  • Updated Diamond Notes.
    A few more random sentences with the new look.
     

Some things I haven’t gotten around to. These are the next things on my priority list:

  1. Fix any bugs on the site that I find.
     
  2. Draft Simulator ’04. I hope to have it by the end of next week or so.
     
  3. Linkify archives.
     
  4. Present essays on aesthetics. I’ve got some ideas about how art works that I want to share, as soon as I get those other things done first. 

Please let me know if you see any problems with this site. I haven’t tested this on Macs/Safari or Opera, so I’m particularly interested to hear if the site looks OK on those browsers. If the site is too slow to load, let me know that, too. Thanks!

Primey Nomination

A best weblog nomination?
I think it’s just an aberration.
When compared to Diamond Mind,
My work is surely less refined.
For business you can turn to Pappas
He’s the best one to recap us.
When you need a baseball muse
With David Pinto you can’t lose.
And those guys up in Seattle
Can give anyone a battle.
Although I’m certain I’m the rhymiest,
I doubt my humbug is the Primiest.
I think my chances are remote,
But still, I wouldn’t mind your vote.