B.J. Novak Admits to 1997 Prank on Museum of Fine Arts

I love a good, clever, harmless prank. To imagine B.J. Novak pulling this off makes it even more worthwhile. This story had me laughing out loud as I read it ...

In case you're curious, here's a link to the original article from The Boston Globe.


Thankful for the Muppets and more

We said goodbye to Kates’ family about 9:30 this morning and capped a weekend of much joy, celebration, togetherness and thanksgiving.

We filled the rest of today with cleaning, watching Toy Story movies, and naps.

As I write this, Phoebe is napping in our bedroom closet. At about 4:30, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her carry a stack of blankets up the stairs. I figured she was doing something with her dolls in her room, but after 10 minutes of quiet I went looking for her and eventually found her cozied-up in our closet. “Dad, close the doors. I’m trying to take a nap,” she whispered. So I did, and Kates found her snoring away about 10 minutes later.

* * *

After Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day to Remember, we all got a good night’s sleep and rolled out of bed one by one. We treated Friday as we would have treated Thursday. The ladies took to the kitchen to prepare the Thanksgiving meal, while the men pitched in with the food when needed, between reading and romping around with Phoebe, inside and out.

The meal was served around 5, and it just might have been the best-tasting -- or at the least my favorite -- Thanksgiving meal of all time. It was Kates’ first-ever turkey, and she cooked it to perfection. The meat was tender and we loaded our plates with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, almond-covered green beans, fennel salad, cranberry-orange relish and crescent rolls.

The men took care of the kitchen clean-up -- very efficiently, I might add -- and we settled in for the night cap. Phoebe put on her concert for the girls in the living room (In addition to “Deer in the Headlights,” she’s now added “Fireflies,” “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” and “Now” to her repertoire.). Then Grandma S. got the honor of reading her bedtime stories and tucking her in.

Once Phoebe was asleep, we thumbed through our movie collection and broke open the pies -- apple-cranberry, pumpkin and pecan -- for a late dessert. “Juno” proved to be the popular movie choice, and it turned out that Kates and I were the only ones who had seen it. I certainly didn’t mind watching it again, and it got a thumbs-up all around the living room as the end credits rolled. … Afterward, we flipped through the TV channels in search of another good flick. We landed on “The Shawshank Redemption” and watched some of it before each of us headed for our beds, one by one.

* * *

The house didn’t begin stirring until after 8:30 Saturday morning. After breakfast, we bundled up -- the gusty winds made the 50-degree temperatures feel like 30 -- and we headed outside for a walk and tour of the university campus.

By the time we returned to the house around 12:30, the ’Cats football playoff game had begun. I got the game going on the radio, and we unloaded the refrigerator of Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch. … After that, I took Orrin and Kelli for a driving tour of The ’Ville, as we continued to listen to the game on the car radio.

About that game. Last weekend, the ’Cats played from behind for most of their first round game until the defense recovered a fumble at the opponent’s 8-yard-line and ran it in for what proved to be the game-winning score with eight minutes left in regulation. So this weekend, the ‘Cats headed to Texas, where they took on the No. 1 seed in the region. Again, they found themselves behind, by as many as 18 midway through the second quarter.

But as they’ve done again and again, the ‘Cats clawed back and tied the game at 31 apiece with under five minutes left to play. With 10 second left in the regulation, the ‘Cats got new life once more when their opponent missed a 27-yard field goal attempt into the wind and sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, the ‘Cats wasted little time scoring a touchdown and went ahead 38-31. That meant their opponent got an opportunity to match the score … It came down to a fourth down and a pass attempt. When the dust settled, the radio announcers shouted that the pass was incomplete and the ‘Cats had won, our house erupted. … Not that there was any doubt the ’Cats would win it. On to round three next weekend to avenge that loss at Arrowhead Stadium a couple months ago.

Once the excitement of the ‘Cats game died down, we turned our attention to the Wisconsin-Penn State game, which the Badgers won handily. … Better yet, I learned later that my high school alma mater, Olathe South, won the state football championship yesterday.

Before the Badgers game was over, everyone in the house retreated somewhere for a nap. The house was quiet until 5:30 p.m.

* * *

Finally, it was the show we’d all been waiting for: The Muppets. Aside from our Thanksgiving dinner, it was the most anticipated event of the weekend. But the plans were thrown into doubt when things went south Thanksgiving Day. Kates, Phoebe and I were readying to head out the door to see it Thursday night when Kates’ parents called with the good news that they were going to make it after all.

We saw it as part of the local movie theater’s dinner show series. Kates prodded me Friday night to make reservations for the showing, and it was a good thing because the place was packed. … The wait staff wasn’t exactly on their game either, which was an annoyance. First, we waited more than the average time for our food. Then, they brought the appetizers with our main course, and they messed up Kates’ dad’s pasta order by putting cheese on it, which he can’t eat.

The film, on the other hand, was pure movie magic. Whether Phoebe was sitting in Kates’ lap, Grandma’s lap, or Grandpa’s lap, she sat mesmerized, wide eyes staring at the screen, for most of the show. Interestingly, she never did make the connection of Amy Adams’ Mary character in the Muppets movie to Adams’ Giselle character in Phoebe’s beloved “Enchanted” -- which by the way, we also watched after we returned home last night.

The movie was a delight to watch from beginning to end. Jason Segel nailed it, and the casting was perfect, too. My biggest beef may be that I wanted more out of the cameos -- particularly Neil Patrick Harris and John Krasinski, who were relegated to pretty much answering phones. On the other hand, Jim Parsons as the human version of the newest Muppet, Walter, was pretty great; and when Emily Blunt appeared as Miss Piggy’s assistant at Vogue, you could hear whispers across the theater as people leaned into one another to acknowledge Blunt played the assistant to Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

There were moments the film dragged, but the plot always picked up with “gags like the “travel-by-map,” montages and other Muppet zaniness that helped make the puppets so popular in the first place. The movie also produced several smart and ironic one-liners that were easy to miss if your mind was wandering. (Mary, early in the movie after the quest to reunite the Muppets appears to be finished: “This is going to be a really short movie.”)

Of all the reviews I’ve read, Entertainment Weeky’s seems to align to closest with my thoughts. They gave it a B+.

Good reads ...
a The New York Times:
a The Kansas City Star: ‘The Muppets’ make a triumphant return
a Boston Globe: Pure fun, no strings attached: ‘Muppets’ revels in ingenious absurdity
a USA Today: Jason Segel's green with admiration for 'The Muppets'


Tom Wicker and John Kennedy

I read this morning that Tom Wicker, the journalist who covered John Kennedy's assassination, has died.

The story in The Times includes a link to Wicker's original reporting on that day, which I just finished reading.

Wicker's story provides a fascinating lesson on spot news reporting. Straight facts. To the point. No fluffy language. And a wide range of sources.

Young journalists take note.



Well, this will go down as a Thanksgiving to remember.
The anticipation had been building for weeks. Kates’ family accepted our invitation to The ‘Ville for the holiday, and we were so excited to be hosting for the very first time -- not to mention showing off our new home. And after the big move in March, we had yet to complete all of the unpacking, organizing and general settling in. So this event finally pushed us to get it done.

We’d spend the last few days unpacking the remaining boxes, and removing any clutter left stacked in the corners. I gave the garage a good cleaning, and reconstructed a shaky shelf that was bothering me. We finally put our 40-year-old water heater out of its misery, and had it replaced with a new model Tuesday, which is a story in itself. We reorganized a couple rooms. We finally decorated our walls.

Phoebe was as excited as anyone. Grandpa S. sent her a letter a few weeks ago that included a November calendar and some stickers, with instructions for Phoebe to add a sticker to the calendar every day and count the days until they would be here for Thanksgiving.

Last night, Kates and I went into a furious cleaning mode. Laundry. Dusting. Vacuuming. Preparing the guest rooms. We let Phoebe run wild around the house, thinking it would be good to let her stay up late and hoping she would sleep in late today. … We received confirmation from Kates’ family that they were on their way, and we anticipated their arrival around 2 a.m. I was planning to stay up and wait for them.

Just as Kates was settling into bed around 11 last night, I received a text from Kates’ mother. “Trouble in Tiffin! Stopped for gas & now the car won’t start! Tow truck is here - more when we know something.” … About an hour later, she called me with an update. The tow driver couldn’t determine the problem. The best they could do was check into a hotel for the night and hope to get a rental car in the morning. They were still about 4 ½ hours out.

This morning, we awoke and checked in with the Kates’ family for another update. They reserved a rental car through their insurance company, but there was no one at the rental outlet to release the car. All they could do was camp out in their hotel room for the day and get the rental tomorrow morning. Totally not the Thanksgiving any of us had hoped for or planned.

On with the day.

Kates made us some delicious egg sandwiches for breakfast. And afterward, we had a Skype session with my parents while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV. … Mostly, Phoebe couldn’t care less about the parade, except when she saw a balloon character that she recognized; Buzz Lightyear, Ronald McDonald and Snoopy drew the biggest cheers from her.

After the parade, we turned to the pregame show for the Packers-Lions game. … Phoebe stayed content playing games and coloring. … One of her favorite things these days is to climb the step stool in our kitchen so she can reach the Post-it notes on our refrigerator. She then draws on them and attaches each uniquely colored Post-it to the side of the refrigerator. At one point I stepped into the kitchen, and she held up one of her latest creations -- a Post-it she colored completely in black. Said Phoebe, in her trademark way of speaking several thoughts in one breath: “Dad, does this look like a mouse? I think it does. Oh, I need to add a tail!”

The Packers kicked off at about 11:40 a.m., and Kates made up some nachos with turkey meat for our lunch time snack. The big turkey and all other Thanksgiving-related menu items officially had been delayed for a day.

By halftime Kates had retreated for a nap, and Phoebe followed. … I enjoyed watching the Packers put the game away in the third quarter dozing off myself and missing the final 11 or so minutes of the game. Fortunately, the Packers held on for the win.

When all of us rose again, we decided we needed to get out and planned for a night at the movie theater. We’d hit the dinner theater and see the new Muppets movie, and have a grand time. …

Right about that time, Kates’ mother called with this news: Miraculously, the car started, and they were on their way! Praise the lord!

So, we put the kibosh on the Muppets movie and decided to save that for later this weekend with the larger family, as we’d originally planned. … But we still wanted out of the house for while. We cruised Main Street to see what was open -- I was hoping for Kentucky Fried Chicken -- but the only places open were Taco John’s, McDonald’s and Applebee’s. Pheebs chose McDonald’s, and we picked “Winnie the Pooh” out of the Redbox kiosk as an added bonus for the night; we watched it a full two times before our visitors finally arrived. And we worked in a second Skype session with my parents, Uncle Doug and Great-Grandma H.

Shortly after 9 p.m., just after we'd embarked on a third showing of “Winnie the Pooh,” Kates spotted the van coming up the driveway. They had arrived, and great celebration ensued. For all of the hugs and happiness shared when they came through the door, it was as if they had been lost and driving for weeks. It was a day of many ups, downs, twists and turns to say the least.
And yet, all things considered, this was one of the most peaceful and relaxing days I’ve had in a long, long, long time. “Maybe it was a blessing that we got to spend the day together, just the three of us,” Kates said tonight.

And for that I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Classic 'Cats

With the success of last weekend’s ‘Cats football game, our team lived to see the playoffs. … And Phoebe wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

While Kates stayed home to clean for our Thanksgiving company, Phoebe wanted to travel to the game with me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this scenario 10 years ago, and this father couldn’t be more proud.

About the football. … This was week one of the playoffs. After an unbelievable start, our team squeaked in as the fifth of six seeds in our region. It appears they’ll play all of their games on the road. If they win all four, we’ve got a ticket to play in the national championship game for the sixth time in seven years.

We’ve got a long way to go, but some might say we have a team of destiny on our hands. They lost two games this season -- by a total of six points. Both were the result of a fourth quarter comeback by the opponents. … But this team has a way of playing at another level in the playoffs. No matter the deficit they will find a way to overcome it. And don't forget this season has an added meaning.

This weekend we were going against our bitter rivals to the south. Think of it as our version of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry in college basketball. We’re close in proximity and we hate losing to each other. One of our two regular season losses was to them. ... Just walking on to their campus today made my skin crawl.

Pheebs and I arrived at the stadium and met friends Mallory and Matt at the gates. Our team’s fans had already packed the sideline bleachers, so we ended up in a set of bleachers behind one of the end zones … I bought Phoebe a box of popcorn, which I think is the real reason she loves going to the games, and we set in for what was sure to be a classic.

It started rough for the ’Cats. As in ugly rough. … On the first play from scrimmage, one of our guys fumbled a lateral that led to a score. Then, an interception that led to a 58-yard-field goal. Then, a second interception for a 55-yard touchdown return. And -- bam! -- our team was down 0-16 just four minutes into the game.

At halftime, we trailed 7-22. … You could say it was déjà vu. Last year, we trailed the same team 0-17 at halftime in the first round of the playoffs. We won that game 28-24.

Anyone who’s come to know our team as I have over the years knows it’s not over until the final second ticks off the clock. In our fans’ minds, we always knew we would win that game today.

So in the second half, our boys tightened their play and -- voilà -- we trailed 27-29 at the end of the third quarter. … At this point, it’s worth noting that our marching band plays the fight song after each of our scores. After one of the scores, I got distracted but snapped out of it to catch Phoebe, who never ceases to amaze me, shouting the university cheer that comes at the end of the song. She knew exactly what to do when she heard that song.

Closing in on eight minutes left in the game, our kicker missed a 26-yard field goal into the wind that would have given us our first lead in the game. … But in the wake of our letdown, something happened and the next thing any of us saw was one of our defensive linemen carrying the football into the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning score. It turned out the opposing quarterback fumbled the snap, and a two-point conversion put us up for good, 35-29.

The defense held on. Time ran out. And our students stormed the field when it was over.

As the celebration settled, I boosted Phoebe on to my shoulders and we joined the team and remaining fans on the field for the customary post-game gathering.

My friend Gina sent me a text that read, “That my friend is closure.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Division I can deal with it’s money-grubbing corporations and host all of the dot-com bowl games it can come up with. It’s a travesty that Division I doesn’t have a playoff system, and it’s reason numero uno that I, try as I might, just can’t take Division I football seriously. D-II is where it’s at, my friends.

Back at our car, I flipped on the radio for the post-game show and marveled with our team’s analysts at yet another classic ‘Cats comeback.

It took us the entire post-game show to get out of the parking lot. … When it was over, I honored Phoebe’s request for the “I Walked By and You Caught My Eye” song. … She was snoring in her car seat a few minutes later.

Another good day.


A night with Mates

I’ve just finished my graduate paper for this week. It’s been a relaxing, but extremely productive day. Now as I wind down for the night I can finally get to more pressing issues …

Reflecting on last night. Dreams came true … 

It started with a Paste magazine sampler sometime in 2006. I fell madly in love with “Fraud in the ‘80s.” I wanted more and downloaded their entire catalogue up to that point. I grew more fond of them when I learned they got their start in Lawrence, Kan. Then, I saw them backing Feist, on what is arguably my favorite musical performance of all-time on the “Late Show With David Letterman.” Then, I got hooked on Kori’s blog. Then, I bought “Re-Arrange Us.” And “Crushes.”

Yes, Mates of State were near the top of my list of bands to see live for a long time. When I bought my ticket in August, I could only hope and pray nothing blocked me from making the trip.

On this night, everything fell into place -- even amid a mini-crisis at the university in the morning. … I retreated from my office shortly from 5 and joined Kates and Phoebe for dinner (Chicken pasta!). Shortly after 7, and after filling the Little Green Machine with some gas, I was cruising toward Kansas City.

We’re approaching the two-year mark of this “adventure,” and -- Kates and I have said this a lot during the last year -- it still blows my mind to think that we’re living in the Kansas City area. The Milwaukee-Chicago corridor was so ingrained in our lifestyle for seven years that so many scenes and experiences in this new life strike us as surreal. Driving down Highway 169 and crossing the Missouri River over the Broadway Bridge, lit up in red, with the Kansas City skyline illuminated in front of me -- and Mates of State’s “Technicolor Girls” playing on my iPod -- was one of those moments …

Another “moment” occurred when I pulled up to the venue, the Record Bar. It was in a strip mall with an Ace Hardware, a Dollar Tree and a used book store, among other small shops. This was clearly a long way from the Chicago Theater, Turner Hall or The Rave. For a couple minutes I started to wonder, after driving two hours, what I’d gotten myself into.

The anxiety didn’t last long. I joined the line of people waiting to get inside and was pleased to see the crowd was mostly young adults. I got the feeling most of them were serious music fans, too. That was confirmed when the girl behind me started talking to her female companion about seeing a recent show in California and purchasing tickets for the next edition of Bonnaroo. Serious.

The Record Bar was indeed a bar, with a small stage set up in a corner. The whole room wasn’t much larger than our living room, and I knew then I could be in for something special. It was amazingly intimate. … I took a position just off the stage left corner. Just before Mates of State went on, I glanced behind me and there was Kori Gardner, just a step away and chatting with someone in a doorway. I was so close to the stage I could have reached out and tapped Jason Hammel’s drum if I wanted.

The New Orleans-based Generationals opened. I’d never heard of them, but I was impressed enough by their sound that I plan to search for more of their stuff. They played for about 40 minutes and must have buzzed through nearly a dozen songs during that time. To me, their sound reminded me a lot of Foster the People’s “Pumped up Kicks” with its reverb and groovy hooks. I liked it.

Mates of State took the stage at 11, and the crowd had grown thick. … As the band members set up, there was a charming moment when “Break My Stride” played on the bar stereo and Kori broke into a dance.

Moments later, they broke into “Get Better.” And it was good. So good

They moved seamlessly from song to song, playing a healthy dose of fan favorites spanning their entire catalogue. About half of their set consisted of songs from recent albums -- “Re-Arrange Us” and “Mountaintops,” which I downloaded just a couple weeks ago and it was love at first listen. But they also pulled out some oldies I’d lost track of, including 2000’s “Proofs,” which drew a good cheer from the crowd, and when they burst out with that opening line "It hardly matters!" -- so great. Hearing some of that old stuff again had me gaining a newfound appreciation for it; I refreshed my iPod tonight, giving new life to those songs that were buried in my music library.

About midway through, they asked the crowd, “Old or new?” “ ‘Like U Crazy’ or ‘Parachutes’?” They took a crowd vote by a show of hands, and “Like U Crazy” -- to my pleasure -- got the win. They never did play “Parachutes.”

Looking back now, it’s hard to pick a favorite from the night. I would have liked to hear “Fraud in the ‘80s,” but in the end it didn’t matter. All of the music sounded so good and fresh. There were moments I thought to myself, I can’t believe I’m actually here and seeing this!

The only downfall of the night, seeing them in a small venue: The music was loud. And my ears are paying for it today.

Nevertheless, Hammel makes playing the drums look so effortless, and watching Gardner shuffle her feet and jump around at her keyboards kept me smiling. Their already uptempo music had even more energy in its live forms.

Further, they're the kind of a couple that, in another life, I'd like to think could be some good friends. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Their cheerfulness is infectious, they have a remarkable chemistry. Every album is better than the one that precedes it. . They appear to be having loads of fun, and a band that does all of that will get me every time.

I'm reminded of a brilliant Mates of State bio I first read a few years ago that described their "cute" factor.

Another bio takes it a step further ...
It's “pure pop for adults who haven't quite grasped that they're adults yet.” And while it's certainly pop, it's pop in the same sense that the Beach Boys and the Beatles but also the New Pornographers and of Montreal are pop – they're stretching the limits of what the term means, of how to make music that is just as interesting as it is accessible.

Yep. The Beatles and The Beach Boys were the musical benchmarks for my childhood years, and Ben Folds Five and Toad the Wet Sprocket set the musical benchmark for my adolescent and college years. Now, it's Mates of State, Guster, the New Pornographers, The Weepies and Ingrid Michaelson doing it for me as an adult.

Today, I took a vacation day from work to recover and accomplish some things around the house. I’ve had Mates of State going on the iPod all day, and they’ll be playing for the foreseeable future. I'm enthralled with their music.

So here's a highlight video I made. As usual when I try these types of things, the sound quality sucks. But at least it gives you a good feel of the scene and vibe. And if you're a fan, it may be fun to just hear these snippets.

Here’s last night’s set list (links to official music videos/album versions)…
1. Get Better
2. Maracas
3. For the Actor
4. Unless I’m Led
5. The Re-Arranger
6. Think Long
7. You are Free
8. Sway
9. Goods
10. Ha Ha
11. Whiner’s Bio
12. Like U Crazy
13. Basement Money
14. Now
15. True Love Will Find You In The End
16. My Only Offer
17. Proofs
18. Palomino


Saturday (and Sunday) Night Live

So I just finished watching this weekend's "Saturday Night Live" -- for a second time ...

Best episode I've seen in years. At least since the glorious 2008 campaign run. The sketches felt fresh and varied. Admittedly I don't much about Emma Stone, but I was impressed with her range ...

Here are my favorites ... Starting with the news reporter Herb Welch, who, arguably, may be my favorite current SNL character. This one had me laughing so hard (see the bit with Kristen Wiig) my stomach was hurting ...

This was the last skit of the night, which is almost always the throwaway of the episode. Not the case last night as the last two skits were perhaps the best of the show ...

And this one, the second to last sketch, gets the prize as my favorite. Adele and her music has seemingly been everywhere this year. SNL hit the mark ...



So we had our first snow of the year Tuesday night. I caught on when I saw a student tweet a request for a snow day on Wednesday. … I headed for the sliding glass doors at our deck and -- sure enough -- the ground was already covered with about an inch of the white stuff. As much as I hated to admit it, it was a pretty snow.

It was even sweeter Wednesday morning, as I was getting ready for work, when Phoebe came bounding into our bedroom, shouting, “Daddy, you wanna see the snow!?” … She then took my hand and pulled me across the hall to her bedroom window where she pointed out the window. “See!”

For a few moments I gained a whole new appreciation for snow.

* * *

We went to our last ‘Cats football game of the regular season. A 62-21 win.

But the best part for me was spending it with Phoebe.

As we were getting ready for the game, she put on one of my team hats and asked if she could wear it to the game. She was so cute in it, I couldn’t say no. I helped her tie her hair in a pony tail, adjusted the cap to fit her little head and then taught her how to put her pony tail through the back of the cap. To my surprise, she wore the cap for the bulk of the game.

As usual, we started with the tailgate. Today’s buffet was nachos. And the band is better with each week. … Phoebe also couldn’t wait to get to the inflatable slide, a popular destination for the kids at this year‘s tailgates.

After the halftime performance … Kates headed home, while Phoebe stayed with me for the rest of the game. As the ‘Cats ran up the score, Phoebe wanted to go to the park adjacent to the stadium. She ran and played for the rest of the quarter and the first part of the fourth.

With a few minutes left in the game, we headed back into the stadium and watched the rest of the game from a fence behind one of the end zones.

When time ran out, we headed onto the field. We listened in on Coach’s post game talk to the team. And Phoebe was delighted, as always, to be on the field. … We walked home, and she held my hand the entire way.

After checking in with Kates, I needed to run some errands and asked Phoebe if she wanted to take a ride with me. It wasn’t my intention when I took her along for the ride, but about halfway through I realized she had been quiet for some time. I looked at the rear view mirror, and she was asleep. … Back at home, I unbuckled her from her car seat and carried her inside to her bed.

Kates and I woke her up about an hour later so she could eat supper and get her bath. Had we left her, she might have slept through the night.

When we did put her to bed for good tonight, I gave her a tight hug and thanked her for the great day. “I had a lot of fun with you today,” I said.

“Thank you, Daddy. I had a lot of fun, too.”

I can’t think of many things better than that.

* * *

Now Kates and I are sucked into “Serendipity.” … She found it on TV and whatever plans we had for the rest of the night were thrown out the window.

Have I mentioned how much we love this movie?

Judge me all you want.


Chiefs, Royals could cash in with new stadium names

Call me a purist, but I've always disliked the idea of naming stadiums for corporations. Now the Chiefs and Royals are talking of giving in.

From a sports franchise's perspective, I get it. The team needs to bring in dollars in whatever ways it can.

But from a consumer's point of view ... I don't care how many impressions that company gets by having its name on a stadium. It's a non-factor when it comes to me buying their product.


Halloween fun

This was floating around the interwebs today. A ha-larious must-watch ... Especially if you have small children.


Three days later

So Tony LaRussa led the Cardinals to a World Series title night Friday night, and Monday he retired from baseball.

Totally didn't see that coming. I figured he had at least another year in him. ... Still, I say, good for him to going out on top. Tony truly did it his way.

Then, there's the Red Sox mess in Boston. No baseball fan will soon forget Boston's collossal collapse in September, ending with that incredible night of Sept. 28. I sat in our hotel room in Kansas City that weekend reading, somewhat bemusedly, about Terry Francona's resignation -- or firing, depending on what you believe. And then The Boston Globe dropped the bomb a couple weeks ago with its story about the Red Sox clubhouse and a few players' cravings for Popeye's chicken. That story doesn't appear to be going away any time soon either.

Good reads ... 
a Francona: John Henry didn’t ask him to stay
a Red Sox Nation is hurting diplomatic relations
a Red Sox’ biggest loss is their credibility
a Riveting drama at Fenway theater
a In ‘04, Bill Mueller's glory was stolen amid Red Sox comeback
a Red Sox’ Jon Lester 1st to admit clubhouse drinking
a Jon Lester’s confession fails to absolve
a Embarrassed Jason Varitek says Red Sox stuck together
a September was a horror show, but it had nothing on these ghouls

Of course, what makes the Red Sox downfall more interesting is ... Theo's in Chicago now!
There are so many things wrong with the Sox at this hour, it’s difficult to know where to start. The manager is gone, the general manager is gone, the owners are in hiding, and the players are a loathsome lot totally unworthy of the money and adulation they receive.

Theo Epstein’s gone. It was a seismic event when he quit in 2005. This time, his departure is lost in the mix as the Sox go from freefall to nuclear fallout. The Fenway lawn is scorched earth.
Seriously. I'm as excited about Theo coming to Chi-Town as every other Cubs fan. But I'm also in no denial that Theo has a lot of work ahead of him if he's going to turn the Cubs into a contender. I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll be able to work his Red Sox magic (which didn't always work out ... ) in Chicago.

Good reads ...
a Epstein says farewell to Boston with full-page ad
aCubs history lesson for Theo Epstein
aTheories on Cubs' failures abound
a Coming to Chicago would bring pressure with it
a Are Red Sox making a big mistake?
a Epstein deserves benefit of doubt
a Epstein introducing 'Cubs Way'
a Changes likely at Wrigley Field?
a Epstein vindicates Cubs fan on Starbucks sighting

And that brings us to the manager search. ...

Dale Sveum and Mike Maddux seem to be the names that keep popping up, and deservedly so. Based on my observations of them over the years, especially with their contributions to the rise of our beloved Brewers, both of them appear to be great baseball men. It was only a matter of time before they got their shots. Now you throw Terry Francona and the St. Louis Cardinals into the mix and you've got three storied franchises gunning for any one of three guys who could be a good fit for their clubs.

My bet is that Sveum gets the Red Sox job and Francona follows Theo to the Cubs, although I could also see Francona turning down the Cubs job and sitting out for a season or two. That would leave Maddux for a shot at the Cubs job, but I'm thinking he sticks with the good thing he's got going with the Texas Rangers. I wouldn't mind seeing Ryne Sandberg in the dugout either, but that appears to be a longshot ... As for who takes the Cardinals' job? I haven't got a clue.

Good reads ...
a Francona is the easy choice for Cardinals
a Hiring Francona, Part 2
a Maddux will make his pitch to Red Sox

As for where Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder land ...

I think there's no way Pujols leaves St. Louis. The city adores him. He's the centerpiece of the franchise. He's had a special kind of success there that I doubt he'll be able to duplicate anywhere else. It would be a blunder for both the Cardinals and Pujols if they seperated.

Now, Prince is a wild card. A lot of the marquee teams are set at first base; teams that are known for throwing money around, like the Yankees or Red Sox, probably won't bite on Prince. And when I look around and see who's left, I don't see a lot of places where Prince would enjoy playing as much as he's appeared to enjoy playing in Milwaukee.

Detroit could be a possibility, but Prince has a grudge against his dad that will keep that from happening. Washington, D.C., could be a possibility but the Nationals are years from contending.

Maybe he'll go to the Rangers, the Cubs or the Angels. But, like Albert and the Cardinals, I think Prince has a good thing going in Milwaukee. To this point, Prince has been careful about his language, and he hasn't exactly shut the door on returning to Milwaukee. In fact,  I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed put.

Let the offseason begin.

Good reads ...
a Dear Prince and Albert, please stay
a Pujols hits free agent market for first time



The high temperature today was 71 degrees. It was sunny and gorgeous, on Nov. 1.

If today were a baseball game, I feel like I scored a few clutch hits and raised my batting average. It was a good day.

The iPod is on a roll and totally in sync with my emotions tonight. Mellow rock.

Clarity. I'm feeling it this week. ... If only I didn't have graduate classes to worry about this weekend.

Check out this neat nerd video my friend Darren sent me this morning, featuring a fellow alum of our fine university.