The Telemarketer Always Rings

Well, well, well! It was a Red-Letter Day at my house today! A telemarketer hung up on ME! There's a man bites dog story!

My afternoon was filled with phone calls today, which is not usually the case. My lovely bride and I were trying to coordinate supper menu and timing as it's always close on Wednesdays because she arrives home about 20 minutes before we must leave to get to church on time. There was also a call from a friend who wouldn't be at church, but a friend of hers would be and she was sort of new and would my bride greet her and make sure she was put at ease. Another call saying that a man from our church was at the hospital and needed a ride and could we arrange that?

On top of all that, I got a call from a group taking a survey (READ: we have an opinion and we'd like to question you in a way that looks good for us) about highway safety in our state. It turns out they only had ONE question and it was about Missouri repealing the motorcycle helmet law. I said I had no opinion.

Look, I know that helmets reduce fatalities and head trauma and I would wear one and think everyone else ought to take that precaution. But should the state be mandating that for full grown adults who are willing to assume the risk? The intrusion troubles me. I like safety. I also like the freedom to decide for myself. I would choose to wear one. But should I make you wear one against your will?

Anyway, the other call of the afternoon was a recorded voice that announced I had won a Caribbean Vacation! The recording said I should press 9 to claim my prize.

I know what you are thinking. I thought it, too. Don't press 9. It's a scam. There may be a trip, but it sure won't be void of strings or catches or obligations. Don't do it. You are in the middle of cooking supper, you have to leave soon and it's a scam. Don't press 9.

I pressed 9. Temporary insanity is the only thing I can say because I really don't know why I did it.

In a flash some perky person offered me Congratulations (as the recorded voice had done) and she asked my name. I told her and she said, "Mike, when was the last time you had a really great vacation?" My insanity returned.

I hate this stuff and all the telemarketers are doing it. They call you by your name and act all chummy with you. They ask about the weather. Really? The weather? You called me for the weather? Hey, two words: Weather. Channel. Some of them have all this hokey, puffy complimentary stuff in their scripts like: "I know in these tough times that The American Brotherhood of War Veteran Police Sheriffs, Puppy Savers, and Flag Makers can count on a great guy like you, Mike! Am I right?"

C'mon! Don't they know that we know it's a put on and it sounds like it? They don't know me! I don't know them! Quit playing the game.

So, I said to my new friend on the phone, "Look, I'm in the middle of cooking supper right now and I don't have time for chit-chat, OK?" She hung up. My new friend hung up on me. My friend didn't bother to tell me about my trip to the Caribbean.

I know I started this post in a somewhat cheery mood for having had a telemarketer hang up on me. It seems like some sort of victory, anyway. But now that I think of it, she was my new friend and I offended her by . . . well, I'm not sure how. But, still, I've lost a friend.

Fortunately, I have all you great Central Standard readers to be my friends and to read my blog and write complimentary things in 'Comments'! Surely we can count on you to help us as in the past, right? Am I right?


Cards Fire BB's At Problem 'Pen

The house is on fire and instead of calling the fire department, you drag out your water hose and do it yourself. That doesn't seem to be a realistic response to a serious event.

The Cardinals bullpen is on fire and GM John Mozeliak opted for the garden hose instead of the fire department. Maybe he thinks he'll need them later. At this rate, he would be correct.

St. Louis made a minor league deal today in hopes of addressing a major league problem. They sent minor league outfielder Brian Barton to the Atlanta Braves for minor league pitcher Blaine Boyer. The best part of the deal is that no monograms will need to be changed.

I'm not wild about this because I'm afraid it's window dressing. The Cards say this pitcher has an awful lot of upside and it would be nice if he did. I do like the fact that Mozeliak didn't wait very long to start addressing this because it's just way too obvious we've got issues in the 'pen. But this is not the answer, unless Boyer really turns into something special. And I guess he could. But I really hope Mozeliak is not done. The bullpen is bad.

I'll say it again: if someone will offer a serviceable middle relief for Rick Ankiel, do the deal.

Don't think twice, it's alright.


It Occurs To Me

It occurs to me that if Adultery and Children Born Out of Wedlock were eradicated from the country overnight the "creative team" at the Jerry Springer and Maury Povich shows would have no ideas.

It occurs to me that Susan Boyle's entire experience on 'Britain's Got Talent' was a dream! I'm pretty late finding out about this, I think, but I've watched it three times and get tears every time.

It occurs to me that Rick Ankiel has reached his ceiling as an everyday ballplayer, he's as good as he's ever going to be. If the Cardinals could get a real second baseman or a decent reliever for him, they should make the deal and not think twice.

It occurs to me that all of Pink Floyd’s music sounds like the soundtrack for our lives after the apocalypse. Hearing their work makes me imagine a fleet of spaceships laden with our children fleeing the cataclysm and who, like the infant Clark Kent, are seeking to start life over on some new world. I can hardly think of any music that tempts me to depression more.


BLT (Bacon Left the Truck)

Pigs have bellies and apparently 'them's good eatin' '.

Actually, I had to look up pork bellies on Google and I discovered that bacon, at least in the U. S. comes from the belly of a pig. I don't know about you, but that fact sort of set me back a bit.

I do like my bacon, though, and I am not alone. So imagine how thrilling it would be to come upon a whole truckload of pork bellies, hmm? Before you get too excited, the whole truckload was in a ditch in Illinois.

That might knock some of the romance off your morning ration of pork belly.

The truck was from a company based here in Springfield, so our local NBC affiliate had coverage.

No word on where one could find a truckload of eggs, though.


3 - Robinson

This day in 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first black man to play Major League Baseball. He did so in the face of bigotry and hatred so wicked and vile that his life, at times, may have been in danger. And he did so with grace and fiery, competitive passion.

I won't try to 'out write' my betters who, every year on this day, describe with eloquence the importance of Robinson's achievement. Nor do I desire diminish any thing Robinson did. But there is a piece of the story missing. And it's missed every year on this day as MLB honors Robinson.

I'd like for us, without dimming the lights on Robinson, to shine a light on the part of the story that's annually left in the dark.

There were no black men who had ever played major league baseball. The owners, and to some degree the general managers, perpetuated a system that excluded African Americans.

How did that change? Did Robinson, after an All America career at UCLA, walk off the football field and into the Brooklyn locker room uninvited? Did he just grab the first empty uniform he could find? Did he present himself to manager Leo Durocher and tell him to put him in the lineup? In other words, did Jackie Robinson think of breaking the color barrier on his own, pick a team and show up?

No, he didn't. But the way the story is told, sometimes you might think so. The story is often told with no context. Jackie didn't do it on his own, he couldn't.

No, one of the general managers of the 16 major league teams had to stand up and say, "By God, I'll do this thing, even if nobody else does!" Jackie had to have a contract to play for a major league team. That means a team had to decide to give him one. A man had to decide.

Branch Rickey decided.

Please remember Branch Rickey, too.

If You Haven't, See 'Australia'

My lovely bride and I viewed the film 'Australia' Sunday night. Have you seen it? WOW! What a thoroughly enjoyable movie!

Visually, the film is a treat! The wide panoramic shots, the colors, the cars, clothes and buildings of the period - all of it - make the movie worth watching with the sound off. Seriously, I've given it some thought and it just might be pretty enough to watch without hearing anything.

But if you opt to hear as well as see 'Australia', you will not be disappointed because the story is terrific and the story and dialogue are strong. Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman are as colorful as the outback and full of life when on the screen, which is often. There is not a dull moment.

Oy, this is turning into a movie review, which I really didn't want to do. Ah, well.

Let's say this - I don't buy very many movies, I've probably got about a dozen, but I would think long and hard about buying this one.


Pen the Tale

I will be the first to admit I do not know much about protocol for world leaders, but that's OK because I am still not a despotic ruler nor tin horn dictator. Yet.

However, the president of the United States should know protocol or have people around him who do. Unfortunately our current president is blissfully unaware of these things. Or he doesn't give a rip. Either way, it's an embarrassment.

Now the White House staff have decided to lie about Obama's latest snafu, the bowing before the Saudi king. Apparently, U.S. presidents are not to bow before other leaders and I think that's the right way to handle it. Obama handled it the wrong way - he bowed. Only the White House is saying he didn't bow, here. And here.

Alrighty, then. Let's go to the tape. Or a still from the tape. Here in the photo of the event we see the presidential backside. Obama is bent over at the waist, his face to the ground. He is in full grovel mode, I think.

What is happening here? Remember, Gibbs says Obama is not bowing. If it's not a bow, then what is it? THAT, Central Standard readers, is what you are assigned to tell us.

What is happening? You describe it in some creative way - a poem, a limerick, a script, or a song. Perhaps a joke - well, OK, that goes without saying, but you know what I mean. Use the 'Comment' section of this post and tell us what you think is going on.

Remember, he's not bowing.


Baseball 2009

It's not wisdom to gack up the lead on Opening Day when you are hosting the most feeble team in your division. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 St. Louis Cardinals! (HT Bill Simmons)

With each passing year I have less and less desire to try and prognosticate concerning the outcome of the championship season. However, as a fan, it's hard not to have an opinion about the fortunes of your favorite team, and about the two leagues, as well.

I'm doing this without a net, so you might want to look away.

The Cardinals. Well, what can you say? They have gotten younger (read cheaper) and I get the feeling Albert's going to have to hit quite a few 7-run homers for them to be a contender. The starting pitching is intriguing, I think. The staff has a chance to be pretty good and thereby keep the team competitive. But, I'm not sure about the bullpen and the offense, aside from Pujols, worries me. Let's say third in the NL Central.

Kansas City is going to be fun to watch. We thought last year they were on the right track and it appears they are. Their division is not the powerhouse that it's been of late. I wonder if we might see a five-team scrum there this year, with not many games separating first from fifth. In that scenario, KC stands a chance to steal it, I think. But if somebody, maybe Cleveland or Chicago, gets it together and pulls away, I get the feeling the Royals are still a bit short, improving though, they are.

Boston and the LA Angels look to be the class of the American League, but don't forget about Tampa and Oakland. In the National League, I would expect to see the Mets, Phillies, Dodgers and the Team That Shall Not Be Named as contenders.


Look to Calvin

I appreciate the help. Really, I do.

Regarding my last post about my duelling desires, I was given some advice via 'Comments' about the virtue of delayed gratification.

However, I must turn to Calvin for a succinct response. No, not John Calvin, the great theologian, but rather, Calvin, the mischievous 6-year-old with the feline companion named Hobbes.

Quoting, "That's a lot more mature than I think I care to be."



I'm trying to hold myself to a regular posting schedule, so here I am, if anyone's out there. However, there's not much gas left in the tank tonight, so whatever shows up here is going to be lightweight.

I would not have considered myself a particularly impatient person, though, my wife may have a different view, especially from the passenger seat of our car when I'm driving.

But aside from that, I don't think I'm all that impatient. But I have discovered something that tries my calm demeanor a bit.

Hershey's Kisses.

It seems to me that it takes WAY TOO LONG to unwrap that little blanket of foil. And here, I am probably my own worst enemy because I'm just anal enough to try to get the foil off in one piece with no rips in it. So I have to take my time to enjoy a nice foil event, but I WANT THE LITTLE POINTY CANDY NOW!!

So there it is. My wee bit of obsessive tendencies are pitted against my impatience - and a piece of chocolate hangs in the balance.

The solution, of course, is a Hershey BAR with a valueless plastic wrapper that can be peeled in about 3 seconds.