Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How to Age Happily and Naturally in These Troublesome Times

With these days of economic, cultural, and environmental uncertainty in mind - and on the eve of what could be an historic presidential election - I’ve taken it upon myself to impart a few guidelines on how to live your life if you wish to age well, get by, or just plain survive. I’m assuming that you are like me; male, between the ages of 18 and 45, and working hard to prepare for the future of yourself and your family. Although, really, either gender, any age set, and work ethic can apply, but it is with the former criteria in mind that this study was originated. And it probably won’t hurt if you’re white, too.

That said, these guidelines, or rules for well-being, have been revised many times since their creation and should not be considered definitive despite the fact that many believe them to be foolproof. As they say, your results may vary, but so far I have seen a 99% success rate. In other words, there are lots of happy, old geezers around because of me. And this can be you. You, too, can be happy until you die.

So, here it is, my step-by-step guide on how to make the ‘new you’ happy and successful:

1.) Exercise. Yes, exercise, and then give it up after about a week. You know you will anyway, so why waste time unnecessarily exerting yourself when you have more important things to do? You have deadlines and stress at work, a lazy family to support and feed, a house to keep up, a plasma TV to watch, a lawn to mow, and a dog to walk. No, wait: Do not mow the lawn or walk the dog. Let your lazy-ass, good-for-nothing kids do it. The “new you” should do as little walking as possible because walking becomes your enemy as you get older, so you might as well get used to being immobile while you’re young enough to enjoy it. Maybe you could even get a head start and buy yourself a motorized wheelchair now instead of waiting until your legs give out and your hips break later. Because, when the shit drops (and by “shit” I mean bombs, planes, biological weapons, or whatever is coming next), you’re going to need to be able to move faster than the other guy in order to save your own ass. So, in lieu of being in any kind of physical shape worth noting or being able to afford the aforementioned wheelchair, always make sure to wear running shoes wherever you go, whether it be to work, church, a fancy restaurant, in bed, or in a swimming pool. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll be thanking me and laughing at the suckers in socks, sandals, high-heels, and dress shoes as you blaze passed them to safety. Also, along with lack of exercise, please be sure to follow rule 1a: Let your personal hygiene go to waste and take up smoking and drinking heavily, if you haven’t already. Trust me; you’ll be much, much happier when you do.

2.) Eat well. Eat often. Eat a lot. If it tastes good it is good; this is your new motto. There’s no sense in not ordering something from a menu or buying it in a store just because conventional wisdom tells you that it’s bad for you. Remember, it’s somebody’s job somewhere to invent a new buzzword every five minutes just to keep you “healthy” and to keep their pockets full. Speaking of “full”, the words “I’m full” will no longer be in your vocabulary if you truly wish to age happily. Stuff, cram, wedge, do whatever you can to get it in there, but get it in there. Trust me, you will be smiling.

3.) Show others that you are a good listener, then prove to them that you really aren’t and that you don’t care one bit about them or their troubles or their happiness or whatever they happen to be babbling on about at the moment. By all means, act interested. Smile, nod, and show concern as they relate their tales of woe to you, but when they ask for your advice, simply apologize and tell them that you weren’t paying any attention and ask if they could please repeat their story, emphasizing the word “story” with marked sarcasm and air quotes, all the while keeping in mind that it’s best to be polite when being rude as it never fails to bewilder the listener. If this tactic doesn’t work, and they actually repeat their “story”, interrupt early and often with absurd witticisms and nonsense asides, always making sure that these comments of yours are wholly unrelated to their topic of conversation. In addition, try using the annoying technique of opposites where you laugh when they cry, smile when they appear angry or frustrated, and show jealousy and sadness when they’re elated about some personal good fortune. They’ll most likely ask your mutual friends what the hell your problem is, but that’s a good thing; the quicker the word spreads around that you’re an insensitive curmudgeon the better. It’ll only spare you from having to listen to all of their agonizingly boring stories about themselves, their wives, and their kids, and it will make more time for what’s really important. And that, of course, is you. Also, pay close attention to rules number 1 and 1a. You may never have to be rude to another friend again if you’ve honed the craft of being out of shape and smelly. But always – always - be unhelpful. The less of their stress you have in your life, the more happily and naturally you will age.

4.) Keep your “ears open” for job opportunities for an unemployed friend. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid “friends”, even if you’ve already mastered rule #3. They’ll get to you somehow, either via phone messages or, much more easily these days, email. So, go along with it. Reply to them. Tell them you’ll keep your “ears open” for them. Just don’t say a word about it when you actually do find out about one. Hey, times are tough, and the way jobs are being cut these days, you might find yourself in need of that particular position when you get axed tomorrow. So, don’t be generous. Keep it to yourself. The “new you” might be happy you did.

5.) Don’t let the opinions of others control your life. Fuck them. The “new you” doesn’t have time to listen to their platitudes, and you shouldn’t even be on speaking terms with any of them at this point anyway. So, if that’s the case, if you’ve been successful with #3 above, then I guess we’re talking about your family here. Well, fuck them, too. Without you, they’re nothing. Compassion and generosity is the old you, and it’s about time the “new you” made the phrase “ignorance is bliss” a good thing, not a bad thing.

6.) Keep up the good work. Or don’t. Who cares?

7.) Don’t recycle. Has anybody ever proved to you that recycling really does anything? Seriously. I think the “new you” is smart enough to know a waste of time when he sees it.

8.) Don’t share. No matter what it is, no matter who is asking for it, don’t share it. Even if it’s your own family - your own kids – look away and tell them to go get their own. You’re not running a charity here.

9.) The children are our future, so let’s refuse to educate them. Indeed, take your kids out of school and don’t ever let them read anything of value on their own. From now on, the works of Charles Dickens are the same as pornography and should never be found in the sweaty hands of your kids or hidden under their mattresses. There’s no such thing as independent study time for your little precious. Instead, force them to watch The Three Stooges (and only The Three Stooges), read Archie Comics (and only Archie Comics), and play Tetris (and only Tetris) for hours upon hours, for years and years, until the tiny brains in their maturing bodies are rotted and completely uninformed. With the mess we’ve already made of things, the dumber our kids are means the quicker this place goes completely to hell and the less time we’ll need to spend aging at all.

10.) Cease the day. Yeah, that's right. Cease the day. Don’t try to make every day the best day ever. Don’t search for meaning that can never be found. Don’t wake up one bright, sunny morning and declare that today is the day that you’re finally going to do all the things that you’ve always wanted to do but for some reason never have, because even if you partake in the most enriching, life-affirming activities the world has to offer, I guarantee you that you will only wake up the next day feeling empty and still wondering what it all means. You think you're dumb and confused now? Well, you’ll feel even dumber and more confused than you did the day before, plus, you’ll be tired. So, why bother? Why do anything, really? All of it will only make you depressed, and eventually you’ll be depressed, tired, and old, and that's just no good. I mean, who needs another old, depressed white guy around? I sure don’t. So, cease the day, my friends. Cease the day.

So, I guess that’s it. Even if you only manage to follow a few of these simple guidelines, I assure you that you’ll find yourself sitting comfortably in the splendor of old age, wondering how it could have ever been so easy. The only thing you’ll need when you get there is a good hobby to help pass the time. Because, you know, nobody’s going to want to talk to you. Or be near you. So, if you don’t already have a hobby in mind, please feel free to read the following subject, “How to Win at Solitaire and other One Player Card Games”.

Copyright to the author 2008.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And So It Goes...

“They met in school or at some show or through mutual friends of theirs a few months ago or a couple of years ago. Something like that. They fell in love and things were great for a few months or a couple of years until she found out about something he did and was hiding from her, or until he found out about something she did and was hiding from him. They reached an impasse. Things were thrown, but neither was hurt; at least intentionally. Words were said, shouted, and then screamed, but never screamed harshly enough that the words couldn’t be taken back. He said he didn’t mean it or she said it wasn't what she meant, and then one said to the other, “I’m sorry, let’s try to make this work”. And they tried. And they did. And it worked for a few months or a couple of years until trying wasn’t good enough and she caught him doing the same thing again or he caught her at it again, and one said to the other, “That’s it, we’re really through this time; I can’t take it anymore”. But it happened again and again, the conflicts and the reconciliations, and they grew old together doing it over and over - fucking then fighting, fucking then fighting - and neither one was ever smart enough to realize that none of it would ever matter, that millions had done the same thing for years and years before them and millions will keep on doing it again and again, over and over, for years and years, until the world finally grants them all mercy and stops turning them over and over, again and again, so they might as well just stop fighting and keep fucking and enjoy it for whatever it is and however long it may last,” said Adam to Eve.
“Knock it off,” Eve said, pulling away, “I can feel Him watching us.”
“Ugh,” Adam said. “Stupid fucking fruit.”

Copyright to the author 2008.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ezra Pound and the 20th Century

As difficult, dense, and challenging as his own writing can be, Ezra Pound helped bring to the world some of the most memorable poets and writers of the last century. Ernest Hemingway appreciated him for his ability “to advance the fortunes, both material and artistic, of his friends…he defends them when they are attacked, gets them into magazines, [and] gets publishers to take their books”, and Alfred Kreymborg affectionately stated that, “In a world where most people slavishly coddled their own egos, here was a fellow with a heart and intelligence at the service of other contemporaries”.

In the early 1900s, artists were seeking to reinvent their art forms for a new age, to put their individual stamp on them and make them their own. Frank Lloyd Wright was modernizing architecture, Picasso was deconstructing centuries of painting with Cubism, and Stravinsky was provoking rebellion with his savage and beautiful “The Rite of Spring”. Pound saw these innovations, along with the burgeoning technological age, and worked to do the same with poetry. His own Imagism was, like Picasso’s Cubism, a deconstruction of his chosen form and could even be considered a conscious backlash against technological progress and the stale ideas of the past; a way of simplifying and searching for the core of a thing’s importance and truth. The idea of Imagism was to emphasize the precision of a more economical language than was already present and to cast aside the established rhyme and meter of poetry. He wanted “to use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation” and to “compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of the metronome”. To Pound, the rigidity of the metronome may have represented the harness of technology, which was a hindrance to arriving at essentially what is beautiful. However, Imagism proved to be much more than one poet’s notion and an end in and of itself, it also helped to spawn the modernist movement.

T.S. Eliot denoted Pound as being more responsible than any person for the modernist movement of early 20th century poetry, and nothing could be closer to the truth. Pound rubbed elbows with artists such as the Dadaists, Jean Cocteau, Picabia, and Duchamp, and welcomed and championed the writings of William Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and James Joyce. But it was Eliot who benefited the most from Pound’s interest. Pound excessively praised Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and exclaimed, “Pray God it be not a single and unique success”. He continued to take an active interest in Eliot’s work, publishing him in various anthologies and culminating in the editing and shaping of Eliot’s epic, “The Waste Land”.

Throughout all of his charity to other writers, Pound somehow found it possible to create some of the richest poetry of the last century. In the form of “The Cantos”, an epic masterwork of 120 sections, he used and alluded to everything from Japanese Haiku and Chinese poetry to the works of Renaissance Italy and ancient Greek lyrics, referenced obscure moments in history and politics, and employed a variety of languages such as French, English, Chinese, German, Latin, and Greek. Encompassing the totality of over 50 years, “The Cantos” would prove to be his life’s work, but as impenetrable as the subject may seem he still managed to maintain the clarity of language that he established with the Imagist movement.

While his own work may have become overshadowed by the considerable influence he has had on the poets and writers who have followed him, his legacy is inescapable in that his hand has touched so many things: politics, poetry, literature, painting, music, and criticism. And studying him will only lead you to some of the greatest works of the last century.

Copyright to the author 2008.

Prufrock: A Surrendering

In 1915, T.S. Eliot began his rise to prominence in twentieth-century literature with the publication of his poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in which he portrays how modern man is restricted from the freedom of individuality and is forced to surrender to the opinions of society and his own self-doubt.

The poem is prefaced with an epigraph from Dante’s “Inferno”, which translates, “If I thought that my reply would be to a person who would ever return to the world, this flame would remain without more movement. But since no one has ever returned alive from this deep, if what I hear is true, I can answer you without fear of infamy.” As Guido da Montrefelto says this, a threatening flame flickers around him. The poem begins and, in a reflection of the opening, we have changed places with Dante and Prufrock has taken the role of Guido, telling us what he cannot reveal to anybody else. In the first line, he takes our hand and leads us through the desolate streets, pointing to “the evening […] spread out against the sky” (2). This is our first glimpse of society’s role in the poem, and it is a being as drowsy, ignorant, and unenlightened as “a patient etherized upon a table” (3). Once we have reached our destination, Prufrock urges us not to ask that “overwhelming question” (10) because he does not want to be distracted from his purpose or, perhaps, because he is himself unsure of what his purpose may be. He seems to be well aware that the more thought he gives to the ideals of society, the more power he allows them to have over himself, so he waves us off and says, “Let us go and make our visit” (12).

Once there, “The women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo” (13-14). In this passage, we are given the first human representation of society, that of the chattering women walking about the cafĂ©. Prufrock does his best to ignore them, and in stanza three he begins to tell us where his passions lay, or at least the he has a passion for something. He tells us “There will be time, there will be time” (26), assuring us that he has grand dreams and matching desires and that there is plenty of time in the future to satisfy every one of them. It is in this way that the “patient etherized upon a table” can be viewed not only as a metaphor for an almost dead society but also for Prufrock because he has been patient and will continue to be patient. As he says, “There will be time to murder and create” (28), but it is with this line that he shows us that he is eager to shed his idle ways, to embrace his passions, and to produce something of his own. He wants to create something outside the boundaries and constraints of contemporary society, something that could be as specific as a painting or a piece of music, or as broad as simply living life to its fullest. He wants to “murder”, not in the literal sense, but to do something dangerous, to create something as savage and bestial as the paintings of Matisse or Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”. At this point in the poem, one can feel this burgeoning passion threatening to overcome and conquer his patience; that is, until those gossiping women reappear: “In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo” (35-36). This time, it is little wonder that Prufrock cannot help but pay attention to the women as they continue to proclaim their affections for the Italian Renaissance master. Their words have become more than just an irritating buzz of distraction in his ear; they have become a massive harness thrown over his shoulders to which he can only capitulate. The women represent society and are a direct parallel to the trapping flames surrounding Guido in the opening. More and more, Prufrock feels trapped, isolated, and ultimately paranoid. How could anything he creates measure up to what the great Michelangelo has done before him? How can he compare? Suddenly, he questions himself and says, “Do I dare?” and again, “Do I dare?” (38), speaking of “turn[ing] back and descend[ing] the stair” (39), probably to that comfortable place in society where he can rest his rebellious mind without fear of reprisal. In his confusion, he hears the women’s comments becoming more personal as they shift their attention and take aim at his appearance. His balding head and thin arms and legs are taken to task, and Prufrock’s sudden self-consciousness causes him to take stock and regard his own conservative clothes in a less than flattering way. So, he says, “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” (45-46), but it is not really “do I dare” but “Who am I to disturb the universe?” Once again unsure of how to proceed, Prufrock postpones his leap toward something greater. When he says, “In a minute there is time / For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse” (47-48), he is just beginning to understand the fickleness of his nature and his indecisiveness, although he is not yet sure what it is that is holding him back and causing his self-doubt.

Backing further away from his grandiose designs, Prufrock goes on to tell us how he has taken life for granted and how precisely he has planned his days for the future. He lifts a coffee spoon from the table to give us an example of the precision with which he has “measured out [his] life” (51). He is bored and sighing, for he has “known the evenings, mornings, [and] afternoons” (50) and wants to change them into something different and exciting. But there are those women again, chattering away, and Prufrock speaks to us candidly, as though he were looking over his shoulder with a sensitive ear toward their “voices dying with a dying fall / Beneath the music from a farther room” (52-53), hoping to catch a fragment of what they are saying about him. “So how should I presume?” (54), he says. What can he do? How can he break free when society keeps him so exact?

It is not only their voices and what they may be saying that keep him grounded; it is also the heft of their studying eyes weighing on his conscience:

And I have known the eyes already, know them all –

The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, (55-58)

His sense of isolation has been augmented and his paranoia is at an extreme. He is as helpless and defenseless as an insect studied and dissected under a microscope. The prying eyes are inspecting and judging him unfairly and hanging him against the wall in the light of the room for all to see. He is “wriggling” and feeling vulnerable, without a word to say for his own benefit. They have already set him aside and have found a comfortable place for him to live out his life through their measurements. He has no courage to speak to them, so he turns to us with palms forward and a pleading look on his face to ask, “Then how should I begin / To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?” (59-60). In the passage, he tells us he wants to discard his ordinary life, to inhale and behold the creation of a new day, but is at a loss as to how to do so when others have already decided his fate. He has almost given up completely, so he wants us to provide a reason that he should not surrender and retreat.

Prufrock seems to be of the personality and mindset where his heart is in the right place and his intentions are true, but he is afraid of failure and does not possess the confidence to propel himself over the hump of society’s criticisms. What he needs is something to shield himself from the accusations of society, like egotism or arrogance, because he only ends up damaging himself further by turning these accusations inward and transforming them into self-doubts. If he were able to ignore their projections he might be able to fully realize his desires, and he admits as much at the end of the next stanza: “I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas” (73-74). Or, to translate, “if I were what I aspire to be and had the conviction and strength that my creativity should allow, I’d make a lot of noise and rattle the cages of society along the way.” He does not want to sit complacently idle, he still wants to live like a savage with his “ragged claws” cutting a path in front of him, but he has already begun to bow to society’s wishes and he knows he does not have the strength or the ego to fight back.

In the following stanza, he asks us, “Should I […] have the strength to face the moment to its crisis?” (79-80) when we know that he obviously does not. He then goes on to ply us with excuses. He admits to his lack of ego when he says that he has seen his head “brought in upon a platter” (82), and nods at his growing self-consciousness when he mentions his “head (grown slightly bald).” This is a man psychologically battered, humiliated, and scared. “I am no prophet – and here’s no great matter / I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker” (83-84). He is telling us that he is nothing special after all, and that he hardly cares anymore; that, though he once had aspirations for greatness, those feelings have faded away. We hardly have time to question “why?” when he sheepishly mutters, “I was afraid”. Indeed, afraid of failure.

Next, with his surrender nearly complete, Prufrock begins his retreat, repeatedly asking us if it ever would “have been worth it, after all” (87). Sure, at one time he said he wanted to “[squeeze] the universe into a ball / To roll it towards some overwhelming question” (92-93), but maybe “That is not what [he] meant at all” (97). He is denying that he ever had intentions toward these grand illusions and hoping that we will believe him. He is unwittingly defending the criticisms of society and his ensuing self-doubt by saying that his head momentarily got away from him and that he was a fool for ever thinking different. He goes on tell us that he has learned his place, which is that of “an attendant Lord […] an easy tool / Deferential, glad to be of use / Politic, cautious, and meticulous […] but a bit obtuse” (111-116). He asks us to look away because he is nothing special, needs no attention, and is “indeed, almost ridiculous / Almost, at times, the Fool” (117-118). Put simply, society has taught him and he has learned his lesson.

Now that Prufrock has been fixed into place he realizes, “I grow old…I grow old…” (119) and we cannot help but empathize with his plight. He believes that he has wasted his time thinking these fantastic thoughts, and that he has nothing to show for it. Hopelessly dejected, he tries to cling to some semblance of danger, but he is effectively crippled. It is sad, and perhaps self-ironic, when he decides that “[He] shall wear the bottoms of [his] trousers rolled” (120), which would have been considered fashionable at the time. He understands that he now must do the best that he can to conform, but he wonders, with a last shred of hope for individuality, “Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare eat a peach?” (121). Prufrock has become so psychologically damaged and unsure of what he is allowed to do that he cannot even think of tasting a peach without first questioning the act; in fact, he has become so normalized that he might even consider it daring to do so. This is a strong departure from the man who once saw fit to grasp the universe in the palm of his hand and sculpt it to his liking.

So, he takes to the beach and listens to “the mermaids singing, each to each” (123). It is reassuring to think that Prufrock may not have given up hope, after all, and that as fantastic a thought as mermaids singing to re-ignite his passions could still enter his mind. But, alas, the flame has withered: “I do not think that they will sing to me” (124).

As disappointing as this revelation is, there is one small consolation for both Prufrock and his audience. At the end, he finally sees why he will not be able to live through his passions: “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea / By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown / Till human voices wake us, and we drown” (128-130). He belatedly understands that he is trapped in a simplistic society and the machinations that go along with it, and that the “human voices” are his own internal dialogue of self-doubt stemming from society’s contempt for an individual who strays from the norm. Ultimately, he realizes he is suppressed and sinking.

It is unfortunate to see a person with such enthusiasm for what is indefinable in life become mired in a moment and punished for his hesitation. I think this is what T.S. Eliot was referring to when he wrote in a letter to a friend, “Even just the bewildering minute counts; you have to give yourself up, and then recover yourself, and the third moment is having something to say, before you have wholly forgotten both surrender and recovery. Of course the self recovered is never the same as the self before it was given”. Eliot was actually speaking about surrendering oneself to an author one has just discovered, but I believe it can also be read as a metaphor for passion in life. Of the three steps Eliot has given, Prufrock never advances passed the first one. He experiences “the bewildering minute”, but is never able, or allowed, to surrender himself to it because society redirects him from his elation to their reality. Inevitably, he surrenders to society, not to his emotion. Once he is recovered, he is exactly the same as he was before that dizzying moment and has nothing to show for it.

Early in the poem, Eliot discretely divulges the entire arc of the story, this theme of surrender, as the fog of stanza two searches but gives up hope. It may seem ironic that something as inanimate and emotionless as fog could have the ability to surrender, but it is a metaphor and a foreshadowing of Prufrock’s own complications of the self and his surroundings. “Let fall upon its back the soot […] made a sudden leap […] and fell asleep” (119-122). In this passage, the fog is subdued from an outside source and, although it makes a brief attempt to soar higher, decides that it still has time and finally lies dormant. Like Prufrock, the fog had tasted the possibilities of the evening and was inspired toward something greater than itself, but in the end it could not respond. In the end, it could not answer the call.

Copyright to the author 2008.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

World Series Game 5 (A&B)

A Few Things That Suck About the Long Delay within Game 5, the World Series in General, Its Announcers, and What the Phillies Should Do in the Remaining Innings:

1.) Major League Baseball probably shouldn’t have started Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night to begin with, but that's all in the past now. Supposedly, Bud Selig (the commissioner of MLB) spoke to the Phillies’ and Rays’ GMs before the game and they all agreed, no matter what the score was at the time of suspension, that the game would not be made official until all nine innings were completed, whenever that might be. Of course, when you have to go over possibilities like these before a game, maybe you shouldn't bother starting the game at all. But here we are, still waiting for the first pitch of Game 5b two days after the first pitch of Game 5a was thrown by Cole Hamels.

2.) Cole Hamels (who is really making a name for himself as possibly the best pitcher in the league, having gone 4-0 in the post season with a strong chance of making it 5-0 in the final game of the WS) got short-changed and the ball taken out of his hands after mowing down the Rays through six innings. I think he was well on his way to pitching a complete game and could have clinched the World Series in front of his home crowd, but that scenario is highly unlikely at this point. Hamels was having a hero-making postseason, having already been named MVP of the NLCS, and the city was beginning to see the light and believe in his magic. With only a few innings left, he was on the verge of becoming a God among men in this city for bringing the world title back to Philadelphia after 28 years of misery. We'll still call him a hero if they win the series, but his God-status will have to wait until his next World Series, if it ever comes.

3.) I actually thought it was cool that they were playing in the rain and mud and wished that they had just let them continue. Both teams were playing in the same adverse conditions, so there would be no excuse for the losing team to cry foul in the end (unless the loser was the Rays and your name is Buck or McCarver). It’s things like this that make a lasting impression in people’s minds and can make for a great game with unusual results. I mean, does anybody remember anything about last year’s World Series games besides who won? Or the year before? Actually, the last cool thing I remember from a World Series was Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, and that goes all the way back to 2004. When it takes something as stupid as a sock with a little blood stain on it for somebody to remember your sport, your sport might be kinda boring and unmemorable. So, they really should have let them play. The “mud game”, as it might be called, would be talked about forever. Instead, MLB just robbed its fans of a great memory. Thanks, Bud.

4.) Why is it that football players can play in the foulest conditions (rain, mud, snow, sleet, friendly fire, etc.) but these guys gotta throw a tarp over the field and run for shelter in the clubhouse until the rain stops? These guys are not guys. These guys are girls.

5.) Although the Phillies bullpen has been outstanding all year and throughout the playoffs, the long delay that has created Games 5a and 5b might benefit the Rays tremendously. For starters, they can now breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t have to face Hamels for the last few innings of this next game. Also, I think the Rays will benefit from this unprecedented game-break more than the Phillies because they’ll be able to take a step away and realize that, “Holy sh*t, we’re still not getting it done, and we’re only a few innings away from losing the whole thing.” They could come back more focused and rested now, and with a greater intensity to win.

6.) The Fox announcers suck. Seriously. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. I just can’t stand listening to them slam the Phillies over and over again. I’ve never cared for McCarver (he seems to say things of no importance, or state the obvious, just to have something to say much of the time), but Buck is proving himself to be just as bad. Before Ryan Howard hit those homeruns in Games 3 and 4, his lack of production was all they could talk about. Likewise Rollins, who was 0 for whatever until Game 3. And, it seems, not a minute passes that they’re not mentioning (gloating, you might call it) how the Phillies are getting no hits with runners in scoring position and how embarrassing it is for them, etc., etc. While this is a definite point of frustration, the Phillies have only lost 3 games in the entire postseason and are on the brink of winning the World Series, so I think they must be doing something right. But the worst was on Monday night. BJ Upton had just gotten to first base in the last inning. The rain was really coming down then and the dirt between the bases was all mud and sludge. Joe and Tim began whining (really, seriously whining) that the elements were taking away the Rays’ biggest strength as a team which is their ability to run well and take extra bases. How (oh, how?) could our beloved, little BJ even think of stealing 2nd base in these horrible, slippery conditions? There’s just no way he could possibly get a good jump in that mud. As Hamels threw to first a few times to keep him close, Joe and Tim kept complaining about how unfair it was to keep playing if the Rays couldn’t play to their strengths. In fact, it was not only unfair but dangerous for these guys to be running out there, and they said the game should be delayed. Somebody’s going to get hurt, they worried. Then Hamels finally went into his wind-up. BJ had about 5 long strides towards 2nd base before Hamels even threw the ball to the plate. He beat the throw to 2nd by a wide margin. It wasn’t even close. Of course, as you know, good ol’ BJ went on to score the tying run, and everything was right again in the world of Buck and McCarver. Those effin’ d*ckholes…

7.) With the pitcher's spot due to lead off Game 5b, the Phillies will obviously pinch-hit for Cole Hamels (which they would not have done if this game were played from start to finish like most games. Please refer to item #2 above to see why this really sucks). Who the Phillies bring to the plate will ultimately be determined by who the Rays put on the mound (i.e., a righthanded or lefthanded pitcher). So, a brief chess match will ensue between the two teams before the first pitch is even thrown tonight. But this isn't what interests me at the moment. What interests me is who the Phillies put on the mound for the remaining three innings. Charlie Manuel, the Phillies' coach, will more than likely look to his bullpen for a few arms to get them through the game. Again, their bullpen has been outstanding, but I think Brett Myers should get the ball to wrap up this series. He's an overpowering pitcher who would do extremely well in a short situation like this, much like he did in the closer's role last season. Myers and Jamie Moyer were originally set up to finish out the series, if necessary, starting games 6 and 7, respectively, and Manuel might still be thinking of saving Myers for a possible game 6. But he shouldn't. This is no longer a typical series with typical strategies. They have to win now. And the best way to do that is to put Brett Myers on the mound tonight. Moyer and Joe Blanton, who pitched exceptionally in Game 4, could still round out the series in Games 6 and 7, if needed. But the point is, they shouldn't be needed. Not if the Phillies win tonight. Not if Myers pitches the 3-inning game that is Game 5b.

8.) Yesterday, Tim McCarver said that Game 5 should be restarted, not resumed. Tim McCarver is a moron.