Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaving for Cooperstown

I am leaving in a little while for the Baseball Hall of Fame where I will be working for the next ten weeks as part of the Frank and Peggy Steele internship program.

For those of you who don't know me personally, you may not realize that after a career as a statistician, I decided a year and a half ago to become a librarian. I am one class away from completing my masters in library and information science which is what made me eligible for the internship, despite my "advanced" age. Surprisingly to me, there will be at least two other interns who are older than me.

I haven't been posting here as a result and I do have a couple book reviews which I hope to get to and a couple of wine reviews which I probably won't write until I return. I do hope to be able to write about my experiences at the Hall (I'll be working in the research portion of the library).

In the meantime, it's 4:30 in the morning and I am trying not to feel overwhelmed and completely out of my comfort zone. The most difficult thing will be being away from the boowahs. My ex will be taking care of them while I am away so they'll be in reasonably good hands but I will miss them terribly.

The other adjustment will be living in a dorm room again after all these years. I haven't slept in a bed that wasn't a king in I don't know how long. Plus I'll have a roommate. Lots of excitement in the near future.

I must get hopping and finish my preparations.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Vintage Caper

Here's this book in one sentence...Ready? France is awesome. The characters and story are purely secondary to this premise.

I thought about making a little game: Excerpt from this book or excerpt from a travel guide?

It would be difficult to imagine a more agreeable place to have lunch on a fine sunny day than the terrace at Peron. High on the Corniche Kennedy, the restaurant offers an irresistible combination of fresh fish, fresh air, and a glittering view of the Frioul islands and the Chateau d'If. It is a setting to sharpen the appetite and bring on a holiday mood.

Yes, that is an actual part of this book. There is so much about the scenery, the people and the food and wine of France that if you whittled the book down to the actual story, it would probably be about forty pages long.

In the middle of reading this, I watched the Pierce Brosnan version of The Thomas Crown Affair. There are quite a few parallels. Whereas the TC Affair is about art, this book is about wine. A whole bunch of wine, between two and three million dollars worth, is stolen from an arrogant collector in Los Angeles. Crook turned investigator, Sam Levitt, is hired by the company that insured the wine to investigate the theft (just as Rene Russo is brought in by an insurance agency to find the stolen painting in the movie). Like Russo, Levitt is a little more clever than the police and has no problem breaking the law to justify reacquiring the assets protected by the company.

I'll spoil the ending for you here. As in The Thomas Crown Affair, the thief is a wealthy European who stole for the thrill. Also as with the movie, the thief is painted as being a sympathetic, likable figure. In this book, the thief is a French hero, a billionaire who gladly pays his taxes to support his country and is a Francophile in all regards. Meanwhile, the guy from whom he stole the wine is an arrogant jackass American. So who cares if he gets his wine back, right?

There just wasn't much to like about this book. The fact that it is a wine theft instead of art is a little different. For a mystery, there is zero suspense and no surprise twists and turns (outside of Sam not really caring about getting the wine back to the guy from whom it was stolen). When the initial crime occurs, there is virtually no evidence as to who might have done it yet Sam finds a loose connection which just happens to be the correct one. Dialogue is awful. One of our patrons recommended it to me as being a book for guys but I think that is true only if you view guys as being chauvinistic. There's a lot of that going on in the book.

Despite the vast number of shortcomings, it was at least somewhat entertaining. I wavered on putting it in the "don't read" level of reviews but it isn't quite that bad. If you're a fast reader, it might not be a bad book to knock out in an afternoon by the pool. With all the advertisements for the French, I could see it being fun to think about traveling over there as you while away the time poolside. for the most part, though, you're not missing anything if you don't read this book.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sombrero Fallout; A Japanese Novel

I was not familiar with Richard Brautigan before I read this book. I picked it up largely due to the title. A Japanese novel about a sombrero? How unusual.

The book lived up to its title. It is an unusual book in many ways. The chapters are extremely short. I think the longest was four pages. In my version of the book (which is not the version linked), the chapters start in the middle of the page. Then there's the story.

The book is about an American humorist whose name is not given but one suspects could be Brautigan himself. He has fallen in love with a Japanese woman who after a two year relationship has decided to dump him. The story takes place one night soon after this breakup where he is at home fretting and obsessing about her. She, on the other hand, is sleeping peacefully in her apartment with her cat. The humorist wants to call her but imagines that she is with another man and cannot bear the thought of her answering the phone and confirming this is true. In a fit of despair, the humorist sits down and tries to write. He begins a story where the mayor of a town is walking with his cousin and an unemployed man. Out of nowhere a sombrero falls out of the sky and lands in front of this trio. This is as far as the humorist gets before he crumples up the page and throws it out.

Once the page is thrown in the trash, however, the story continues. The sombrero is very unusual in that it is extremely cold. This is discovered when the mayor's cousin goes to pick it up to hand to the mayor. The cousin and the unemployed man get into an argument over who will hand it to the mayor, both believing that such an act is essential to their future prosperity. The argument upsets the mayor which upsets the two men which upsets the townfolk which then turns into a riot that results in many people being killed and the President of the United States having to come in to restore piece. Horror of horrors, the town librarian has both ears shot off before she is killed. Poor librarian.

The chapters jump from the humorist fretting to the drama unfolding in the wastebasket to the Japanese woman's dreams. The shifting plus the short chapters keeps everything on edge. While the crisis in the wastebasket comes to an end, no such resolution comes about for the man or woman. There is an absurdity of language and events that reminded me a lot of Douglas Adams.

I enjoyed the book but had the sense that Brautigan intended for it to have a deeper meaning than I observed. The sombrero is definitely mystical and/or extraterrestrial but which and why? Who knows? Why did the story continue on without the involvement of the author? Who knows? Still was a fun story and I expect that I will track down other Brautigan works in the future.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wine Review - 2007 Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne of Patras

As much as I disliked the organic wine of my first wine review, I love the wine of this review.

I've always had a fondness for sweet wines; German Rieslings and Kabinetts, Australian Gewurztraminers, Japanese plum wines. I've enjoyed them all. With my renewed interest in wine, I decided I wanted to explore the dessert wines a little more.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first Greek wine I have ever had. Achaia Clauss has been making wine since the 1850's and the Mavrodaphne is one of two that the winery has been making since it opened. There is something to be said for 150 years of experience. This wine tastes fabulous.

Unlike the other wines from grapes I mentioned above, this is a red dessert wine and has a much different taste profile. I get tastes of berries, raisins and coffee when I drink this but I mostly enjoy how the flavors come across. If this wine were a musical note, it would have a fermata over it. From the time it enters your mouth, the flavor just holds until you swallow. It has nice alcohol content so when you do finally swallow, that little warmth at the end kicks in. It's reminiscent of other fortified reds like port but much, much more mellow and tasty. The ports I have had tend to feel more like hard liquor to me than wine.

I also like the appearance of this wine. There is a brown tinge to the red, almost like iced tea was blended with it. The viscosity is great, too. I get a kick out of wines with legs (no idea why) and like watching the shapes on the glass after the wine has been swirled or consumed. As to aroma, well, I'm still challenged there. I don't really pick up much.

This is a very affordable wine and one that I strongly recommend, especially if you haven't had a red dessert wine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Mineral Palace

Most books that I deem as horrible make me angry. I get angry because the author wasted my time and energy with their drivel. I get angry because somehow they wrangled publication while other talented writers struggle to have their works made available. With novels, I get angry because the writer has created a world for me, a very powerful thing to do, and not given me any reason to care about my being there. It's like being invited somewhere on vacation and then hanging out at Rite-Aid the whole time.

I'm not angry with Heidi Julavits. The Mineral Palace is a horrible book, one of the worst novels I've read, but I'm not angry with her. I feel sort of sad for her. I have to wonder about a person who can write a novel completely bereft of positivity. Even Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, which I think is one of the bleaker books I've read, manages to evoke some essence of hope here and there. Julavits does not want any of that in this book. Her book reminded me of a series of stomach blows. Just gut punch after gut punch. Even if something could remotely be construed as positive, she found some way to take care of it. One of my favorite lines of the book (favorite in being exemplary of the gutpunchiness of her story) is the end of this section:

He was not the man for her, yet she agreed to be his girlfriend because there were no more eligible candidates at the lake in early summer that year; the Elliott boys had gone to Europe, the Walkers were hiking in the Rockies, Jibby Hatchet had been struck by a car over the winter and maimed.

The novel revolves around Bena, a woman forced to move to Pueblo, Colorado with her husband and child when her physician husband is kicked out of town for not giving drugs illegally to the mayor's daughter. Bena thinks that her husband, Ted, runs around on her. Their child, Ted, Jr., is completely non-responsive to stimuli. Bena befriends a cowboy missing two fingers who is good friends with a local prostitute. The story is about suffering. It's omnipresent. No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you will suffer. Especially so if you live in a desolate hellhole like Pueblo.

It was pretty clear early on that there would never be any hope in this book. No happy ending at all. Why did I stick it out to the end? At first I liked Julavits' writing. She is very descriptive. Elmore Leonard would disapprove immensely. It got to the point, though, where I felt the descriptions were only necessary to evoke continued negativity. I can get that a place is a dive without hearing about every rust stain and crack. The descriptions started wearing on me as much as the story.

There are also a lot of continuity problems. First, Bena supposedly has a thing for numbers and sees all sorts of meaning in them, theoretically like in An Invisible Sign of My Own (and one of the things that drew me to this book). Unlike Bender's book, though, the number manipulation is inane and bungling. Bena comes up with all sorts of transformations to make her interpret events as good or bad. At least she does for about a third or half of the book. Then it stops and something that is supposed to be important and a character trait of Bena is never brought up again. Then there are oddities like Bena sitting on a floor cross-legged but two paragraphs later she is standing and leaning against the wall. It felt like Julavits was so intent on providing detail she couldn't keep track of them all.

This has been a bad month for books. Three of my four zero star reviews have come in the past two weeks. Yikes. Might be time to break out some Christopher Morley.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing


Elmore Leonard is a writer whose books I have enjoyed. A patron returned his book Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing last night and I figured I would grab it and read it. When I got home I began it. Five minutes later....

Suddenly, a fine gray mist coated the bleak Lancaster County farmland! The day had been overcast throughout, the threat of rain as persistent as the nodding of a Bob Baffert bobblehead mounted on a jackhammer manned by a jackhammer operator. As the mist dampened the jackhammer operator's arms and the white ceramic hair of the Baffert bobblehead, the operator switched off the yellow steel Atlas Copco Hydraulic Paving Breaker, looked into the cumulostratus clouds that covered a sky that once was as blue as the jackhammer operator's eyes if he were wearing blue contact lenses and growled "Ya, it looks like da vetter is turnink bad". He was reminded of the days when he pranced across the German countryside! Thinking back to those times, he said wistfully, "Ya, those var de good ole dayz". He knew that those days were long past, that he would never again wear the moss green shorts with the white knit shirt he loved to wear while he scampered across fields, his brown eyes catching the reflection of sunlight off of his equally brown hair! All hell broke loose!

I think I broke all ten of Leonard's rules. Not too awfully difficult to do so. There should be rules, too, as to what constitutes a book. Rule 1, for example, would be, "you may not take an essay that was printed in the New York Times, one that you can still find online, and reissue it as a book". Rule 2 would read, "If you do choose to break Rule 1, don't think you can make the book larger by having some artist draw caricatures of authors and inserting them every few pages. Also, don't insult the readers who paid good money for the book by printing on one side of the page and only printing a paragraph or two each page".

Leonard broke both these rules and it is pretty insulting. He took the essay I linked to, put a paragraph on every page, made every rule heading a single page, printed on one side of paper, added illustrations and turned it into a 90 page "book". Same exact content that you could print out on a single page of paper double-sided from your computer but with some pictures and bound and sold for $15. Absolutely absurd and wrong.

I'm not going to link to the book itself out of moral indignation.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Adam Dunn moving up the top 100

Adam Dunn recently cracked the top 100 all-time in home runs. By homering in both ends of a doubleheader against the Rockies on Saturday, Dunn propelled himself into a tie for 95th all-time with 325 home runs. He currently shares the spot with Jermaine Dye, Willie Horton and Todd Helton.

In other favorite player news, Josh Prince has finally got himself on track a bit better. His average is up, he hit his first homer of the year and he seems to be settling in a bit on the basepaths and in the field. The Brevard County Manatees are brutal in the power department. Prince's home run accounts for half of the team total. By contrast, the St. Lucie Mets lead the league with 29. Incredibly, the Manatees .333 slugging percentage is 8th in the 12 team league. Definitely a league you want to be in as a pitcher.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The York Emporium

Yesterday I returned to York to finally visit the York Emporium. This is a throwback to the good old days of used book stores where you could pick up quality older books at fantastic prices.

I had been planning on going there for a long time. They coordinate a book and paper fair twice yearly but I somehow keep missing it. So it was nice to finally get over there.

The building looks small upon arrival but the entrance hides a vast, vast single floor of all kinds of books. How vast? I was there for over three hours. It isn't often that such a thing happens, but I found myself getting tired of looking at book near the end.

The proprietor was very friendly and helpful. Reminded me a lot of a guy I knew who ran a bookstore when I was in high school.

I know you're wanting to know, did I get anything? Of course I did. Amazingly, despite all the books that were there, I found only two baseball books that intrigued me. Both were more than I wanted to spend (which was really strange because most of the books here were under five dollars) so I let them slide for the time being.

So what did I buy? Six Christopher Morley books and a biography on Morley; a novel from the 1970's called Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel by Richard Brautigan; a travelogue by J. Maarten Troost entitled The Sex Lives of Cannibals; an intriguing little book by John McPhee with the title The Survival of the Bark Canoe. And lastly, the most expensive book of the bunch at ten dollars, the first American edition of Rick Gekoski's Nabokov's Butterfly.

It was really refreshing to find that there are still bookstores like this. I'm looking forward to finally making it to one of their fairs, hopefully the one in October.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New job for Trey Hillman?

On Monday I wrote about how Kila Ka'aihue was not being used appropriately by the Royals and then three days later manager Trey Hillman is fired. Coincidence?

Actually, Trey Hillman and I have crossed paths before. Many, many years ago I was the official scorer for the Greensboro Bats minor league team while Hillman was manager there. He was a very pleasant, quiet individual who rarely had anything to say to me and rarely complained. Not the case with his vociferous pitching coach Juan Nieves who would call up to the press box after almost every game to ask how many earned runs his pitchers had given up and requesting explanations on how I came up with that number and why I didn't score more balls as errors. Good times.

A couple years ago I was director of research for a firm and I had thought that I had sort of reached my pinnacle as a statistician after some wanderings. At this point Hillman had just been hired by the Royals for his first major league job, the pinnacle of his profession, after having wandered. It felt like we were tied together in a way. I was downsized and became a librarian and now Hillman will also be looking for another job. My guess is he will take a major league coaching job somewhere for a while. I think he's too young to be done managing and he has been successful in the minors and in Japan but teams will be a little gunshy based on the Royals lack of success with him (or anyone) at the helm.

I wish Hillman the best of luck and hope that Ned Yost finds a way to get Kila into the lineup more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Snowflake Man

Apparently, Wilson Bentley is part of the elementary school science curriculum here. I had no idea who he was and figured I was reading some obscure biography. My youngest son knew who he was (and my oldest did not) and then some kids signed out a juvenile version of his biography and I began to think I was just late to the game.

For those of you who aren't familiar, Wilson Bentley was an early researcher of snowflakes. He lived in a little town in Vermont where he discovered at an early age that he just loved snowflakes. In the late nineteenth century, Bentley figured out a way to rig his camera to a microscope and began taking pictures of snowflakes he would capture. These photographs enabled scientists to learn more about the structure of snowflakes and how they form. Bentley also is the person who realized that no two snowflakes are alike.

From a biography standpoint, this book wasn't that great. Bentley was devoted to his work, never married and hated to leave his hometown of Jericho for fear that he would miss opportunities to photograph snow. Not exactly a fellow about whom much can be written.

From a scientific/educational standpoint, this was an interesting book. Bentley was meticulous with the work he did do, logging the weather three times a day most days of his life. He also photographed over 5,000 snowflakes in his lifetime. Although he doesn't seem to have been a very good writer, he did manage to get his findings across well enough that he was published frequently (likely after some good editing).

The author of this book, Duncan Blanchard, was an atmospheric scientist himself and does a nice job of explaining the importance of Bentley's findings. He also is able to tie in the work of others who were doing similar work around the world at the same time. It's neat to see how a guy with a passion, no education and no equipment could make such an impact on a field of study.

The downside of Blanchard's writing is that, since there isn't a lot of detail about Bentley's life, there is a good deal of speculation on Blanchard's part about his personal life and he relies heavily on oral histories with people who were children when Bentley was in his fifties and sixties.

Blanchard weaves a nice story, though, and makes science interesting and for that I'm giving the book a one star review.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First wine review - 2007 Verdant Circle Organic Zinfandel

Way back in my early 20's I tried to take wine seriously. I "specialized" in Australian wines which were overlooked and affordable. Perfect for me. It was a lot of fun but by the time I had my second son, priorities had changed and my interest faded.

Fast forward a decade and I come across the entertaining and knowledgeable Gary Vaynerchuk. If you can watch him and not want to drink wine, well, I admire your willpower and ability to be swayed. You should apply for a job as a gargoyle.

I'd like to find an area on which I can focus but for now, I'm just enjoying a bottle here and there.

Or in this case, not enjoying. I've read that organic wines aren't very good. Something about the lack of sulfites apparently causes the taste to differ (not in a good way) from non-organic wines. While shopping at Total Wine (note to Pennsylvania government officials. Thanks for your tremendous botching of alcohol sales in this state. I have to go to Delaware to get any sort of selection in wine) I came across this bottle marked as recommended. One of the employees there saw me looking at it, told me they had had a tasting of it the weekend before and that many people liked it. The clerk who checked me out when I was done shopping also commented on the number of people who enjoyed it. So I had some high hopes for it.

Hopes dashed. This was one of the worst wines I've ever had. I don't have the palate to tell you what fruits it tasted like. I can tell you it attacked the palate on the front. Very acidic and bitter. Then it all went away. Nothing on the mid-palate or end. No aftertaste. It was almost like taking a sip of fruity moonshine. It just had that up front cringe. There was nothing else to it at all. It didn't have much of a smell. Had a pretty purple-red color. But I drink wine because of how it tastes, and this tasted bad.

Did it taste bad because it was organic? I don't know. I just know I didn't like it and I won't have it again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Griping about the Royals

I don't follow the baseball season much when it is going on. I tend to like the history of the game more than what is currently going on on the field. Part of this I suspect is my inability to attach myself to teams.

Nonetheless, I do follow some players by default. I operate the websites and which, in part, involves me tracking what is going on with current players who are natives of those states.

All this leads to my continued disappointment in the Kansas City Royals. I was really jazzed when they promoted Kila Ka'aihue to the big club. I didn't know what the Royals were thinking when they sent him to Omaha in the first place. It's not like the Royals have a ton of offense. I didn't understand why they played Mike Jacobs over him last season. Still, I thought that maybe finally the Royals woke up, saw that Kila was hitting .304/.466./.620 and saw that they had a guy who can draw walks and hit for power. I mean let's not forget that the last Royals player to hit thirty home runs was Steve Balboni. So they bring up Kila and what do they do? They sit him on the bench. Come on. What's the thinking? Has it been too long since you had the first pick in the amateur draft and you want to outlose the Astros?

Yes, it is tough since Butler and Guillen are probably the two best hitters on the Royals and they play first and DH which does block Kila. But then why bother? Why bring him up if you're going to have him sit.

My frustration, though, is that I'm checking the boxscore every day and he's not in there. I'd love to see him play more and finally get a chance. I'd love to see Kila dealt to a team like the A's or Red Sox who would appreciate his skills. I know, though, that it likely won't be long until he's back in Omaha, having his abilities wasted some more. Grrrrr......

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ex Libris

What a fantastic book this was. Ex Libris is a collection of essays by Anne Fadiman on the reading and writing of books. I realized as I was reading them that, despite my efforts and intentions, I am definitely more of a reader than a writer. Her essays on reading I understood even if I didn't exactly agree with them. The writing ones would have led me to look at her askance had she been telling them to me in person.

There are eighteen essays in all covering topics such as merging libraries upon marriage, the care and storage of books, big words, books and family and much more. Many of them are very funny inciting some definite laugh out loud moments. At times, there is a certain amount of arrogance on Fadiman's part, as if her and her writer husband and writer parents have experienced pleasure from books that the majority have not. My pleasures have certainly been different from hers - I have no idea what it is like to be married to a writer or to grow up in a house chock full of books let alone books written by my parents - but it certainly doesn't make my enjoyment less than hers.

It's the occasional lapse into holier-than-thou that prevents me from giving this a two star rating. A must, though, for lovers of books.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stick Out Your Tongue

The other short book I picked up while I was waiting for my holds to come in could not be saved from an awful rating by it's lack of length. Part of me feels like I should appreciate this book more than I do because the Chinese government banned it. In the afterword, Ma talks about why it was and the problems he had with the government because of it (this took place eighteen years ago, the book was only published in English five years ago). Ma states that when he heard the news the announcer claimed that "this filthy and shameful work has nothing to do with reality, but is instead the product of the author's imagination and his obsessive desire for sex and money". That's actually what I got out of it.

According to the dustjacket flap, the book is about the travels in Tibet of a Chinese writer whose marriage has fallen apart. That may be. There are five chapters which come across more as short stories. There is no interlinking of the stories, no reason to think that they are all told by one narrator and the narrator is so minor, it wouldn't matter if he was traveling because his marriage fell apart or any other reason. There is one line in the fourth story which indicates that the narrator is no longer married. Other than that, there is no mention. No reflections, no discussion over why the marriage ended. Total throwaway line.

The stories themselves are bizarre, mystical and creepy sexual. In the one, a woman marries brothers but also sleeps with a guard protecting a phone line to a village. In another, a man has sex with his mother and daughter (who is the result of his dalliances with his mother. It's not a family tree, it's a family circle). Yet another has a woman essentially being raped as part of a Buddhist initiation rite. And much like the details of the narrator, the details of the locales where these stories take place don't matter all that much. Because of the mystical nature of them (are they dreams? are they reality?) they could take place anywhere where there are yaks and monks (about the only discerning features of the environment). You could make a drinking game out of this book where everyone has to drink whenever yak butter is mentioned. You would get drunk after about thirty pages.

I wanted to think that this book was banned because it took a strong political stance and brought to light injustices in China. Instead, it just made me think that the Chinese government has taste and morals.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New SABR Baseball Card Committee

If you've been holding out on joining the Society for American Baseball Research and are a card collector, hold out no longer. SABR now has a new baseball card committee.

I am in my twentieth year as a member of SABR and highly recommend it to anyone interested in baseball. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Night at the Lobster

Darn budget cuts. Because of cutbacks, our book transport service now takes longer than it did to deliver hold requests from other libraries. So I've been waiting for some holds to come in and grabbed a couple of quick, small one-day reads to tie me over until the books I want come in.

The first was Stewart O'Nan's Last Night at the Lobster. O'Nan wrote a book with Stephen King on the Red Sox called Faithful which I own but have not read. After reading Last Night I'm in no hurry.

Sad and pointless. That's how I sum up this book. The book is about the final day of a Red Lobster restaurant in Connecticut. The restaurant is being shut down because it has been an underperformer and the story centers around the manager, Manny. Manny is Hispanic. You know how I know? He uses the word abuelita every three pages. Otherwise, he could be anybody. I guess O'Nan wanted to be able to reuse the story if necessary. "You want the manager to be German? Let's see....Find, Replace..."

Manny is supposed to be sympathetic in that his restaurant is being closed. He, however, has been transferred to an Olive Garden where he will be assistant manager. He had enjoyed a fling previously with one of his waitresses, Jacquie, and he still longs for her. He's preoccupied with her since they will no longer be working with one another. It shouldn't really matter since Manny has impregnated his girlfriend and Jacquie is dating an illegal alien who is a semi-pro cricket bowler (really? In Connecticut?).

The last night of the restaurant being open most of the staff does not come in. Of those who do, some leave early with one storming off in a huff and breaking car windshields. None of it matters as a blizzard hits and only one couple eats at the restaurant in the final eight hours or so.

In the acknowledgments, O'Nan thanks his family for putting up with a year of Red Lobster talk. It seems like O'Nan spent a year talking to Red Lobster employees, found out how the restaurant works, got a few good stories from them with which to populate his, and then just cobbled it all together. Pointless.

Thankfully, it is a short book. If it had taken me a few days to read, I might have put it in the avoid category.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Updates and Derby aftermath

Well, my fear and loathing of Calvin Borel was appropriate as he took yet another Kentucky Derby in the wet. Darn him. I started the morning well by taking of four of six races in Beulah Park's final Pick 6. Well in the sense of picking four winners. Not well in the sense of not winning any money.

On the baseball front, after a delay in starting his season because of an injury, Josh Prince has been struggling at Class A Brevard County hitting .204/.259/.296 with three steals. He has been a little rough in the field as well.

Yu Darvish is having another fantastic start for the Fighters. He is 4-2 and third in the league in ERA at 1.96. His 67 strikeouts leads the league (in 55 innings) and he has surrendered just one home run.

I've returned to wine after a long hiatus. In the early 1990's I was really into Australian wine, got out of wine altogether, but based on Gary Vaynerchuk's influence have gotten back into it. I'm probably going to start talking about some of the wines I've had this year (I haven't had an awful lot).

A couple book reviews are backlogged and will be published this week. I almost have packages ready to be sent out. Think that about covers it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Derby models

Right now it looks like rain for the Derby which will likely make a mess out of my models. This Derby is really interesting. Had Eskendereya been running it, he would have been the clear favorite. As it is, it looks wide open. So despite my love for Sidney's Candy, I think I may have to consider some other betting options.

I'm not going play by play like I did last year. Here's what I have as the probable odds (bold are horses where the models like better than the morning line):

99-1: Homeboykris, Make Music For Me
64-1: Paddy O'Prado
62-1: Backtalk
41-1: Dean's Kitten
35-1: Line of David
34-1: Ice Box
30-1: Stately Victor
29-1: Devil May Care
24-1: Awesome Act
18-1: Noble's Promise
17-1: Lookin at Lucky
16-1: Mission Impazible, Dublin
13-1: Discreetly Mine
12-1: American Lion
11-1: Jackson Bend
9-1: Super Saver, Conveyance
8-1: Sidney's Candy

I'm liking that the morning favorite, Lookin at Lucky, ranks ninth according to the models. Bodes well for me. I'm not one to question Bob Baffert (one of two bobbleheads I own is of him. The other is Torii Hunter) normally but you're really going to take the blinkers off your horse in a 20 horse field?

Super Saver looks like he could win because of lunatic Calvin Borel and the potential for rain. Definite upset potential there.

Dean's Kitten is a bit bizarre. Since when do the Ramsey's have a Derby contender not trained by Bob Baffert? And who thinks that a career turf horse is really going to take the Derby?

Update: I discovered a data error for Mission Impazible. The models have been rerun since this was first posted an hour and a half ago.