Thursday, December 30, 2010

Don't Want to Be Your Monkey Wrench

For years I have been hearing the Foo Fighters song Monkey Wrench on the radio. All this time I thought that Dave Grohl was yelling 2010! 2010! The year 2010 is ending, and I was planning to write a post about it. I got the idea to use a reference to Monkey Wrench as the introduction to the post, because, after all, the song contains repeatedly mentions the year 2010.

But, in researching the lyrics, I found that it actually says one in ten, not 2010. All these years I'd been hearing it wrong. And so my planned blog post was undone.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Photograph for Christmas

(The full-sized original is here.)

This is a picture that I took in Eisenhower Valley in the late afternoon on January 1, 2010. For some reason it is one my favorites out of the thousands of photos that I've taken over the years. You really should take a look at the full-sized original.

Some might find this to be a melancholy scene. But to me it is almost comforting. It seems to say: It's a winter day, maybe it's been a bad day, but it's over now, and you can go home. And that's what makes it a fitting picture for Christmas, one of the few days when almost everyone can go home and rest.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Sparrow Has Landed

(The full-sized original is here.)

I have put in a lot of work trying to get photos on my flickr page linked to the blog. I eventually got it to work, but I could only get the photos to show up in two sizes, Too Big and Too Small. In order to get things Just Right, I had to adopt an awkward approach in which I made a smaller version of the picture on my computer and uploaded the small version to the blog, with a link posted to the full-sized version on flickr.

So anyway, here is the picture of the dead immature House Sparrow that I promised in earlier posts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Anole Embarrassment

At the beginning of October I went to Florida for a few days. (The trip will be blogged in more detail when I get the photographs on the internet and finish all the species identifications.) For me perhaps the biggest attraction in south Florida is the large number of lizards, mostly introduced, which can be found there.

The most diverse of these lizards are the anoles, a group of iguanians common in the American tropics. I have been interested in anoles for most of my life. I even owned one when I was younger. And all that time I have pronounced the word as "anoel" (to rhyme with goal). But when I got back from Florida, I was talking to someone who had grown up there, and he pronounced the word as "anoe-lee" (to rhyme with goalie).

It turns out that "anoe-lee" is the correct pronunciation, even though to me "anoe-lee" sounds like some kind of Italian dessert. (If you are doubtful, you can hear the word being spoken by someone who sounds like Michael Caine.)

The really embarrassing part is not just that I've been mispronouncing a word for decades, but that everyone else whom I know has mispronounced it the same way—which makes me worry that the reason that they pronounced it as they did is because of the way that I pronounced it, because I was the one who was supposed to be the reptile expert.

This anole understands my embarrassment.

Monday, December 6, 2010

People Whom I Have Known Part II: Basketball

Whatever shock I might have felt to learn that my former middle school classmate Paul DePodesta would be portrayed in a major motion picture by Jonah Hill was far exceeded on the day after Thanksgiving, when my high school classmate, Rey Deceraga, accidentally elbowed President Barack Obama in the upper lip during a basketball game, causing an injury that required twelve stitches to close.

As I understand it, things went something like this: Rey zigged, the President zagged, zig met zag, and all hell broke loose. And we were left with the conclusion that they play some smashmouth basketball in the Federal government. (At least I think that it is smashmouth basketball. Smashmouth is a word that sports journalists seem to like to use. Of course, Smashmouth was also a catchy/annoying band from the Nineties. Anyway, I am discussing the actual smashing of a mouth, so I am probably right in my usage.)

By this point the story has crested and subsided, but it was briefly big-time news. I cannot hope to recap all the serious coverage; if one wants that, I would recommend a Google search. Instead, I will note a few of the odder references to Rey in the media/entertainment universe.

Over the weekend following the incident, Rey inspired the Drudge Report headline Elbower doesn't say sorry.

On Monday, November 29, Jimmy Kimmel in his monologue referred to Rey as "Roy Deceraga" and identified him as Mexican, although in reality Rey originally hails from Panama.

On Tuesday, November 30, Jay Leno showed footage from a news report concerning the incident, and at the point where Rey's name was mentioned, the real video was replaced with a scene of a man being thrown out of an airborne helicopter. (The helicopter scene was presumably meant to show the retribution exacted against on Rey.)

As a final comment, let me say that no one who knew Rey would have expected him to become involved in a brouhaha, or even worse, a brouhahaha, with a sitting President. In our senior class, Rey was voted both Most Popular and Most Mature, and he is widely known for his natural diplomatic skills.

Friday, December 3, 2010

People Whom I Have Known Part I : Baseball

About a month ago I was watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The guest was Jonah Hill, an actor best identified as Seth Rogen's mini-me. Hill discussed filming a movie called Moneyball starring Brad Pitt. Hill will play a character based on Paul DePodesta.

Paul DePodesta is a baseball executive who rose to fame in 2004 as the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, making him one of the youngest general managers in Major League history, at the age of 31. Unfortunately, as best I can understand with my feeble knowledge of professional sports, things, um, didn't quite work out right, and he was fired in 2005. He then worked for the San Diego Padres as a "front office assistant", which is presumably more prestigious than it sounds, before being hired by the New York Mets as the "vice president of player development and scouting", in which role he does important baseball stuff.

I am not a baseball fan, and indeed all that I know about managing a baseball team I learned from George Costanza. What makes all this interesting to me is that from around first or second grade until eighth grade, I went to school with Paul. I was even the campaign manager in his failed run for sixth grade class president. (Do not trust me for political advice.)

Of course, there are probably hundreds of people out there who went to school with Paul at one time or another, but that's not important, because none of those people is me (or, more grammatically, none of those people is I, although that sounds weird). And I would like to take this opportunity to wish Paul well in his future endeavors, and to thank him for giving me this brush with fame—fame in its most modern sense, which translates as someone having his own Wikipedia entry.

In a final odd sub-coincidence, while researching this post I learned that, before the DePodesta-derived role went to Jonah Hill, it was set to be played by an actor and comedian named Demetri Martin. I didn't know him, but he was in my class in college.