Hi there Wheel, Empty, and and otherwise gear heads, it is time for Spring Trash Talk. There is a lot under foot, Spring Training in Major League Baseball, free agency season and pending entry draft in the NFL, the somewhat diminished fortunes of the NBA and, most of all, FORMULA ONE! The Circus season is upon us, and it is starting down under in the Land of Oz.
Appears we are starting off where we left off: there is yet no reason to believe the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are anything less than the cars to beat. But, that being said, there is also no reason to think that the Ferrari and McLarens are anything less than the threat that they were at the end of last season. Drivers make a difference in F1, and Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are very, very good drivers. And their cars are not chopped liver either. For the clear superiority of the Red Bulls, and even the McLarens for that matter, Fernando Alonso pulled off one of the greatest performances in the history of F1 with inferior equipment last year. Alonso was only 3 measly points behind Vettel in the final Driver’s standings. Simply astonishing.
The opening two practice sessions for the Australian GP were late last night my time; i.e. between 9 pm and 12 am whatever the heck time AZ is. (Daylight savings time really screws with our heads here, cause we don’t do that). Bottom line…..not much has changed.
Okay, if I were pleading guilty (I would never!) to a heinous offense under truth serum to make sure I was cray cray (yeah, okay, this is some stupid shit too) I MIGHT admit that a lot of this post was written from a series of taco joints in Old Town Scottsdale. It is nowhere near as opulent as it sounds; hell even the mariachi music is piped in like Muzak. And the 60 something threesome at the table next to me looks like their Winnebago may be illegally parked out on Camelback Road.
Where were we? Okay, back to the Australian GP. Here is what Brad Spurgeon thought:
Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel have won all the titles for the last three seasons. Vettel became only the third driver in Formula One history to win three drivers’ titles in a row, after Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1950s and Michael Schumacher last decade. Only Schumacher, Fangio and Alain Prost have won more than three titles, with seven, five and four, respectively. So both Vettel and the team have more pressure on them than ever. Still, Red Bull has the advantage of the consistency of keeping the same two drivers and technical team, and Mark Webber is still pushing for his own final career chances to capture the drivers’ title. With the great designer Adrian Newey leading the way, Red Bull should remain among the strongest.
As a lifelong aficionado of Scuderia Ferrari, I would kill to demur. But, I cannot; I think that is right. Still. As to the beloved Prancing Horse, well, from the lens of the season start, it will take another superhuman drive for the ages by Fernando Alonso to keep Ferrari in the chips.
That leaves McLaren and Mercedes fighting for sloppy thirds. Maybe it will come to be that one will blast out of nowhere to be a contender for King Vettel’s Crown, but it is really hard to see. Lewis Hamilton proved himself to be a self absorbed punk at the more superior team, McLaren; now he will try to do what Michael Schumacher could not at fast, but unreliable, Mercedes. Please. Juan Pablo Montoya performed better and was sent packing to NASCAR.
For all the sturm and drang, for all the off season shuffle, the Championship will still be fought for between Red Bull and Ferrari, with a decided advantage to the former.
Let the Circus games begin!
And, then, there is the NFL free agency merrygoround. Heck, I do not know who are the winners and losers at this point. But, a quick take says the Steelers and Cardinals, the teams of local pricks bmaz and Scribe, did not do well.To be kind. Probably nobody did worse than the Cardinals, who signed an aging punt return specialist that even the Cleveland Browns did not care about anymore, and let go Kevin Kolb, the only even practice squad level NFL quarterback they had. Seriously, what kind of addled mentally challenged assholes are running the Cardinals? Oh, wait, it is still the fucking Bidwell family. Who could have guessed from this level of rank pathetic incompetence??
The Deetroit Kittehs seem to have done very well. If they can keep their peeps healthy and out of the klink, they may have the greatest show on fake turf. The Pats lost Welker’s whining wife (and shitloads of clutch catches in the slot and over the middle) BUT gained a sometimes fragile Danny Amendola. Amendola was the successor in kind at the Pirate attack fun/gun at Texas Tech. Amendola is actually every bit the route runner, and even faster, than Welker. But he ain’t as predictable, nor as reliable, as Welker. This could be a wash, or it could be a loss. Time will tell. The Pat’s defense and, especially, secondary looks to be much improved.
Other than the above, the Squawks got Percy Harvin and some other studs, and the Niners got some too. Whoo weee baybee, the gold rush is on on the left coast.
MLB is in Spring Training; let me tell ya something brother, it is fucking hot here. The NBA is in the stretch run, but the only question of interest I see is what lower seed will the Lakers fill? 8? 7? 6 looks bleak, but not impossible; though I would be shocked. We will return to that in a roundball post later. As we will with the student athletes for March Madness, and very soon.
Rock it, Talk it, Jayhawkit. Get yer sweve on Wheelies. Light it up.
Music by BB King, Bono and the band.
And so we reach another Christmas Eve together here at the Emptywheel Blog. And I mean together, because this is a community, from Marcy, Jim White and me, to all of you who participate here with us. You are not just names on a computer screen, you are our friends and colleagues.
We deal with a lot of hard, and far too often infuriating and depressing, topics. Sometimes you just want to scream, because really success seems to be measured only in whether you can slow down by a fraction, or put a slight dent in, the bad things going on in this country and the world.
Occasionally, however, there are truly bright spots in what we cover and push. One of these is certainly the movement on marriage equality and equal protection for sexual preference. Another is, as problematic as they are in their own right, the victory of the Democrats and Obama over a slate of Republicans who would have materially regressed about everything we hold near and dear. It may be small solace, but it is far better than the alternative. So there are good things too.
But the one irreducible minimum is, despite the passion we all have for various subjects and policies, life will actually always plug on one way or another for most, it is simply a matter of how it does so. And that is really something too easily lost sight of…what really counts when you get down to it are the people.
Here at Emptywheel, so it is the people who really count too. And we would like to take a moment to thank you for sharing your time, your experience, your knowledge, your humor and yourselves. It makes all of us richer and that is something to be thankful for as we look forward to Christmas day and the week of festivities that culminates in New Years Day. Health and happiness to one and all.
I’d also like to take a minute to remember that not all are doing well. Some are struggling and have health problems. We know of several, but it would not be appropriate to discuss the individual situations. Just know that we know, we care and our thoughts are with you.
And then there are those that we have lost along the way this year. One in that category really stands out. One year ago tonight, our friend, colleague, and contributor to this blog, Mary Perdue, passed away. We miss Mary a lot, both in content and in her unique character. I constantly see discussions and think “Damn, Mary would have been all over this”.
However, Mary is not the only important voice here that has gone dark this year. We also seem to have lost MadDog. I first encountered MadDog at FDL during pretrial proceedings in the Libby case. We both quickly became regulars at the precursor to Emptywheel, known as The Next Hurrah. He followed us from TNH to Firedoglake and then to here. Like Mary, MadDog was a constant colleague with a well developed sense of irony and sharp analytical skills. The last comment by MadDog was on September 11 at 8:16 pm, since then a deafening silence. We have tried to determine what happened by both email and phone, but no luck so far. We miss him greatly.
In that regard, I want to excerpt part of a post we did in memory of Mary when we learned she had passed. Not just to honor her again, but because much of it applies to the nature of all who participate here, have participated here, and how we feel about them and you:
The internet is a strange and wonderful thing. Just about everyone and everything in the world is on it, even though it is nothing but data in the form of binary computer code traversing by random electrons. Yet thought is crystalized, and friendships born and nurtured, through commonality of interest and purpose. And so it is here at Emptywheel, where many of us have been together since the days at The Next Hurrah, through years at Firedoglake, and now at our new home. Just because it germinates via the net does nothing to detract from the sense of community, friendship and admiration for each other gained over time.
With profound sadness, I report we have lost a true friend, and one of our longest tenured contributors, Mary. Mary Beth Perdue left us on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2011.
Here at Emptywheel, she was just Mary; and she was so much more than a simple obituary can convey. She was funny, kind, and, most of all, razor sharp in analysis of extremely complex issues surrounding torture, indefinite detention, international human rights, illegal wiretapping and executive branch overreach.
But this is the way it is with one and all here. You all contribute so much. Thank you. All here are indeed more than electrons and impersonal screen names.
It is the people – you – that count. Marcy, Jim and I raise a glass of fine IPA in toast to one and all. So, as you sit down with your families and friends for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the holiday week, from our family to yours, enjoy and thanks!
This is an open thread for all things – news, politics, cooking, sports, holiday greetings and all manner of discussion. Music by the incomparable Alicia Keys.
Rolling Stone has a readers poll on the greatest live rock and roll albums of all time. The article is here. The list is as follows:
1) The Who “Live At Leeds”
2) Allman Brothers “Live at the Filmore East”
3) Peter Frampton “Frampton Comes Alive”
4) Rolling Stones “Get Yer Ya Yas Out”
5) Kiss “Alive”
6) Deep Purple “Made In Japan”
7) Little Feat “Waiting For Columbus”
8) Nirvana “MTV Unplugged in New York”
9) The Band “The Last Waltz”
10) Bob Seger “Live Bullet”
I am kind of shocked, completely shocked, that I agree with most all of the list. It is really good. First off, and this is a positioning quibble, so not that important, but I think the Stones “Get Yer Ya Yas Out” is the greatest live rock and roll album ever, not the fourth best.
I would not have Frampton Comes Alive on my list. It was unquestionably one of, if not the, best selling and most popular live albums in history; but it was not musically that great of shakes. In its place I would unquestionably put “Full House” by the J. Geils Band (anybody who leaves this off of their list is either nuts or doesn’t know the album).
Secondly, “Alive” by Kiss is actually pretty great in a way. But I would replace it with “Live At The Apollo” by James Brown. Other than that, Rolling Stone’s list is darn good.
Here are five Honorable Mentions that are so good, it is a crime they are not listed:
Jefferson Airplane “Bless Its Pointed Little Head”
Bob Dylan “The Royal Albert Hall Concert”
Lou Reed “Rock and Roll Animal”
Derek And the Dominoes “In Concert”
Thin Lizzy “Live and Dangerous”
Well, those are my thoughts. What are yours? This is a open for any purpose music discussion thread, just with emphasis on live rock.
What I can confirm is that it is unequivocally the single most awesome grouping of words I have seen in a very long time. So I am rolling with it baybee!
And, you know, leave it to the Irish, in this case Michael Higgins, who was not then, but is now, the President of Ireland. And, also, who is, by my marker, a man of and among men. I would quote Mr. Higgins more, but it would not do him justice. Watch the video.
Honestly, sincerely, really unequivocally, whatever the fuck, just listen to Michael Higgins eviscerate the American ethos. It is brutal and real.
Oh, before we go any further, I have a new chapeau. I will, and you can, thank the one and only, ever lovely, Phred for this wondrous occurrence.
Y’all have known I had an affinity for CHEESE since I was a child in elementary school. It was easy then, as there was no NFL team within hundreds of miles, and the one that was there was the Rams, and it was not all that compelling. No, the team of my youth and dreams was Lombardi’s Packers. Fuck Dallas, Green Bay was, and is, the people’s, and America’s, team. Always has been. As the only team actually of the people, it must so be. Don’t pitch that crap about teams that are corporately owned, or owned by narcissistic dicks like Jerry Jones.
Knowing my affinity for the once, always, and future real team of America – the ONLY publicly owned and locally controlled, NFL team, the Green Bay Packers, our friend Phred has blessedly provided me with an official CheeseHead. It arrived a couple of days ago, and is the most awesome thing I have been given in a LONG time.
Back to Michael Higgins, necks and bollocks. Watch the video. Higgins correctly identifies the wankers in life, I love it and ratify his identification. Precisely.
Now, on to the sporting side of life. Well, normally, Marcy or I post up Trash Talk whenever we are so inclined. Sometimes, however, itinerant Roving Reporters, like Mademoiselle Rosalind, get all uppity in our grill and force us to Trash.
Oh my. The ignominy of it all.
So, without further adieu, we shall lead off with sailing. Yes, I know, this is all a bit discomfiting for the normal Trash Talk aficionados. Whatta ya gonna do Mofo? We support our Continue reading
It is time for the Formula 1 Grosser Preis Santander Von Deutschland 2012. There is that.
Then there is the fact Jon Lord has died. If you do not know Jon Lord, he was a founding member of, and keyboard player for, Deep Purple. One of the more underrated keyboard players, and bands, of all time (by my book anyway). RIP
And, indescribably, twelve more souls died in Aurora, with scores more injured gravely. I would love to say something pithy, profound and appropriate. However, I have no clue what that would be.
A lot of other stuff has also transpired demanding extreme talking of the trash. The video embedded to the upper right is custom made by my daughter, Jenna, and I, from CGI runs of the Hockenheimring set to the sounds of the timeless Deep Purple classic Highway Star. All for this F1 Trash and wake for the Lord thread. Okay, mostly her work, but she swears even I can be taught the necessary skills. We’ll see about that. With no further adieu…..
We are in the summer doldrums. No football. No basketball. Do they even play hockey in the States? I forget. I understand there is some kind of athletic contest coming up across teh pond. In a move that may well INCREASE the safety of one and all, in Olympic Village and the world over, actual stiff British upper lip troops will be filling in for corrupt, fraudulent and incompetent G4 Mercenary Contractors.
Other than that, there is the start of the second half of the baseball season and……Formula One! This week is the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
Uh, BREAKING NEWS: My TeeVee just told me:
“For years people have been working to perfect the margarita. At last, the wait is over. Introducing Bud Light Lime Margaritas. The ready to drink margarita. With the refreshing twist of Bud Light Lime.”
At any rate, qualifying is about to go off at the German Grand Prix. Hockenheimring is a relatively flat, and traditionally very fast circuit. The video really gives a good feel for it. Although shorter than originally laid out to be, it is still nearly three miles long and presents numerous opportunities for overtaking.
At practice, the rain spoiled the fun, and especially so for the German favorite, Michael Schumacher. The Mercedes team may be further plagued by a five place penalty on the grid due to a gearbox change in Nico Rosberg’s equipment. Things were brighter, however, for McLaren, who saw Jenson Button be fast with Lewis Hamilton close behind.
The skies do not look to clear for Saturday’s qualifying, but the rain may hold off. [Quick addendum: watching Q3 now and the track is soaking wet. Both Alonso and Schumacher are radioing that it needs to be stopped, but the stewards do not appear so inclined. The ability of these drivers to keep their cars on the track in these conditions is simply stunning] Race day will be a crapshoot though. Updates after qualifying will be in comments below.
Which brings us to Aurora. I was still up early Friday morning when the first word of the tragedy started coming in. I thought about posting something, but was so numb there was just nothing to say. Not sure much has changed in that regard. The root facts are on the usual relentless babble stream of cable news etc. and I have not even checked in in a bit to see the latest. The one take that really stuck out to me was by David Sirota, who lives literally right by the scene in suburban Denver:
Confronting that question, of course, is mind-bending and painful — in the age of “War on Terror” agitprop that purposely defines terrorism in one specific, narrow and politically convenient way, it’s akin to the cognitive difficulty of pondering the size of the universe … or, perhaps, death itself. It takes us out of our comfort zone and forces us to consider the causes of all kinds of extremism and violence — not just the foreign Islamic kind that we so flippantly write off as alien. Indeed, at a time when so many bloodlusting Americans cheer on our government proudly assassinating the imams who allegedly inspire Muslim terrorism, a shooting like this (if, indeed, it had nothing to do with Islamic extremism) begs us to wonder why we don’t feel similarly bellicose or enraged at the inspirations fueling so many other forms of terrorism — whatever those inspirations may be.
These contradictions and omissions, of course, are why such a question will almost certainly be ignored in the now-practiced kabuki theater of horror porn — the kind where vote-seeking politicians issue meaningless platitudes, ratings-stalking reporters breathlessly recount the gory details and attention-starved pundits preen in front of cameras to prognosticate about the electoral implications of mass murder in a presidential swing state. Carefully avoiding the T-word, it is a conspiracy of distraction and reduction, playing to our reflexive desire for soothing diversions and simple answers. The conspirators expect that when the cameras eventually pan away from the cataclysm, we will slip back into hyper-sleep for another few weeks, until the next massacre hits, and then the cycle will begin anew.
Yep. About right.
There may not be much front line sports on this weekend, but there is certainly a lot to talk about. What have you all been up to? What is on your mind? Let’s talk.
That’s right mofo’s, we gots us a full on food fight here on the Emptywheel blog.
What’s it all about? Well, when you get down to it, it is ALL about Dallas.
No, I am not talking about J.R. Ewing (and who shot him – psssst it was Bing Crosby’s daughter), Bobby Ewing, Sue Ellen, Pamela, Christopher or John Ross. No, I am not talking about that Dallas. Although, I would like to note, the New Dallas premiers on TNT channel on June 13th and, all things considered, it looks very appropriately oily and greasy just like the original Dallas. And, I have to confess, I loved the original Dallas. In fact, my roommates and I had the most awesome tux & tails “Who Shot JR” party you can imagine when I was in graduate school in Boulder. It was a certified event in the Boulder social scene of the day. The trailer for the New Dallas is to the right. Get used to it, there is likely to be more of this!
But that is NOT the Dallas I am talking about here today. Oh no. No, the Dallas I am talking about here and today is Dallas Escobedo. Most awesome champion pitcher for the Arizona State University Lady Sun Devils.
That would be the Defending NCAA Champion ASU Sun Devils. Thank you very much.
And, as luck would have it, Dallas and the Devils are back in the hunt for the 2012 College Softball World Series. Tonight they play their first 2012 Super Regional game against Louisiana Lafayette at – oh wait – that would at Alberta B. Farrington Stadium; conveniently the home of the Lady Sun Devils!
So what about the Emptywheel blog food fight?? Oh, well, you see we now have this SEC interloper guy, Jim White. Honestly, it was distressing enough that I had to share time with an itinerant Big-10, Big-10.2, Big-10.2.5 – hell whatever – woman, but now the Gators are representing?? Well, I just don’t know anymore.
If you are from Alabama, do NOT troll this post! You see, the Crimson Tide (another criminal SEC team!) is, as we speak, playing the Michigan Wolverweenies in another Super-Regional. This is REALLY painful for me. Go Big Blue!
This post will keep reappearing on top of things so long as the Real Dallas, Escobedo edition, and the Lady Devils keep winning. ASU Baybeeee!
I don’t know what the fine Cheese and Brat heads up in Wisconsin did to piss off the political gods, but they have been blighted. It was bad enough to cause national outrage and solidarity when extreme right wing movement conservative Governor Scott Walker and the crazed GOP majorities in the state legislature started attacking the working men and women of Wisconsin’s unions, teachers, cops and firefighters. But now they have gone a bridge too damn far.
And that is why I am supporting Russ Feingold in a recall election against Walker, and you should too.
Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans are declaring war on quality craft beer. From ThinkProgress:
Tucked into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) much-discussed budget was a little-noticed provision to overhaul the state’s regulation of the beer industry. In a state long associated with beer, the provision will make it much more difficult for the Wisconsin’s burgeoning craft breweries to operate and expand their business by barring them from selling directly to restaurants and liquor stores, and preventing them from selling their own product onsite.
The new provision treats craft brewers — the 60 of whom make up just 5 percent of the beer market in Wisconsin — like corporate mega-brewers, forcing them to use a wholesale distributor to market their product. Under the provision, it would be illegal, for instance, for a small brewer located near a restaurant to walk next door to deliver a case of beer. They’ll have to hire a middle man to do it instead.
And, so, what corporate moneyed hacks are Walker and the Wisconsin GOP blowing this time? From OpenMarket.Org:
The biggest backer of the bill is SABMiller, or as it is known in the US, MillerCoors. They have been pushing the measure, they say, in order to protect the vitality of Wisconsin beer in the face of a hostile invasion from their main national competitor, AB InBev, aka Anheuser-Busch. InBev has reportedly begun a nationwide campaign to purchase distributors in many states, something that MillerCoors says threatens all other brewers’ ability to get their beers in bars and on shelves. That’s the line that MillerCoors is peddling, but craft brewers in Wisconsin say they, and their ever increasing presence in the beer market, is the true target of the proposal.
So, the one thing we will not tolerate here is an attack on quality beer. Nawt gonna happen. there was some yammering here last night about whether so and so or no and no would or wouldn’t vote for Feingold – apparently for President, it was hard to tell. But here, Wheelies and Wheelers, is a real decision point. Would you trade Russ Feingold for Scott Walker? Because that decision is a real possibility for the Wisconsonites.
That is a deal that should be made all day, and all night, long.
As you know, our very own lovely and talented Marcy T. Wheeler introduced guest of honor Sen. Russell Feingold last night at the gala session of Netroots Nation 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As I am just arriving in Minneapolis as I post, and lord knows what trouble we may get into over the extended weekend (may even be beer drinking), be advised there will be substantive blogging here at Emptywheel, but the timing of the posts may be a bit, ahem, unusual. Hopefully Mary will also be supplying some coverage.