Thursday, December 23, 2004

Two More Signs of the Apocalypse.

1) As if the low-carb dieting craze hasn't gotten you worried enough about counting carbohydrates, Halls is now introducing a carb free version of their cough drops. 'Cuz, you know, you don't want getting well to make you, like, fat and stuff.

2) The Discovery Wings Channel, the arm of the Discovery Channel empire dedicated to aviation-related programming, is set to become the Military Channel. Of course, you could argue that the History Channel is already the Military Channel, what with all its exhaustive WWII documentaries, but still...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Yankee Imperialist Trash Talk.

If you've been keeping even half an eye on the sports pages lately, you'll know that the three-team mega-blockbuster baseball trade that would've sent Randy Johnson to the Yankees, and has been dragging on for weeks, is finally dead because the Dodgers pulled out. Here's the reaction from Yankee president Randy Levine that's being widely circulated today:

"The Dodgers reneged on the deal that was agreed to last Friday, unequivocally and with no contingencies except for a window for contract extensions and physicals," Levine said. "For some reason, the Dodgers over the weekend started to backpedal. Why they would break their word is only something they can answer. It sure is disappointing, and we'll have to think long and hard before ever doing business with the Dodgers again."

Oh, please.

Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta has been saying ever since the deal was first reported that he was reluctant to pull the trigger unless a contingency plan was in place to replace the players that they'd lose. Add to that the reports that Yankee pitcher Javier Vasquez threw a petulant fit about going to the West Coast and refused to take the required physical, and it's no wonder the deal fell apart. If the Yankees didn't see this coming, then their hard-on to acquire The Big Unit must be blinding them to the reality of doing business in baseball. Because, frankly, the deal was a wash for the Dodgers and they would've lost a lot more than they would have gotten in return. The Dodgers' participation would've just been as a tool to help George Steinbrenner to land his latest big prize. The Dodgers didn't need that.

If there's any "villain" in the whole deal, it would be the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose unreasonably high demands in exchange for Johnson are what have drawn the trade talks out for nearly a year and necessitated the participation of a third team. A basic Yankee package of Vasquez, Dioner Navarro and Eric Duncan (the package that would've gone to the Dodgers), along with possibly the addition of recently-unseated second baseman Miguel Cairo, seems plenty fair in exchange for Johnson. However, the D-Backs seem intent on wanting to use the deal to gain a bunch of frontline starting pitchers and position players to restock their dismal lineup. It's just not going to happen. They need to lower their unrealistic expectations so that they can get the deal done one-on-one with the Yankees and spare the rest of the baseball world from having to hear about this little drama anymore.

And as for the Yankees never wanting to do business with the Dodgers again, so what? It's not like the Dodgers need what the Yankees have to offer anyway. We'll just have to be content with watching the Dodgers beat the Yankees on the field again, like they did in interleague play this past year. (Man, watching Gagne making Jeter and A-Rod flail around like little girls while striking out was classic....)

Lights of Old.

I haven't done any sort of conclusive survey of the rest of the nation, but here in SoCal, Christmas lights sure have changed a lot since I was a kid. Gone are the strands of individual lights -- each tear-shaped bulb a different color -- that were ubiquitous. Fewer people decorate their houses now. And those who still do it, do it with a vengeance -- covering every eave, bush and tree possible, then adding all sorts of animatronic reindeers, inflatable snowmen and the like.

And beyond all those extraneous doohickeys, the lights themselves have changed. They are now small bulbs (similar to the kind made for indoor Christmas trees for years) and all one color -- white. What's more, they are usually of the popular "icicle lights" variety, which feature little strands dangling down, meant to mimic icicles forming on the house's eaves. What a hopeless, pathetic attempt this is to recreate the look of a "traditional" white Christmas here in sunny Southern California. It doesn't snow here, people! Get over it already!

Which leads me down another tangent -- so many folks' slavish devotion to the iconography of what a "traditional" Christmas is supposed to look like, which is basically the imagery associated with Victorian-era holidays in England. You might be able to get away with that stuff in New England or Northern Europe, but everywhere else it just looks forced and unnatural. There are so many ways to celebrate and decorate for Christmas (or the winter holiday of your choice) across this widely diverse planet of ours that it feels wrong to be forced into such geographically and culturally narrow iconography. Mele Kalikimaka, dammit!

And, oh yeah -- power to the old school lightmasters and their multicolored strands!