Tailgaters, Wally World, And Beer Law

Thursday morning, I was off to Walmart after taking a shower very early in the day. I like to do shopping there as early as possible, because that’s when the foot/cart traffic there is at its least.

I’m a little less than two miles away from the store when I begin my trip around 6:10 am, but the good part is I don’t have to get on the big north-south road, US 19, to get there. I just have to take some slow surface streets. As soon as I get onto the street, a van gets behind me, as in RIGHT behind me. I don’t know if Van Driver has their high beams on, but high beams or no, the lights are very bright, distracting me as I glance at the rear view mirror.

Some of you who frequent this blog know that usually, I’m terribly underwhelmed by people hogging the space behind me when I do my driving. But this coupled with the fact that it’s dark out, I choose do the sensible thing. I pull over and let the bullying Van Driver pass me. If I’m distracted to the point where I hit someone walking on either side of the road, it won’t be Van Driver’s fault, but it certainly will be mine, manners of his or hers notwithstanding. With no one behind me, the rest of the way proceeds without incident.

I didn’t even shoot out a middle finger as the driver passed, because I’m good like that.

Once I do my Walmart shopping, it’s another mini-crisis. There are only three checkout aisles open, but they’re all 20 items or less aisles. I guess it hasn’t dawned on someone running the Pinellas Park store that someone might being getting more than 20 items, which also make the store more money? Do they not want my money, by the way? One of the employees comes up to me and says I can check out at any counter when all the aisles are less than 2o aisles, so I have that to remember next time.

One of the things I picked up was a can of beer. The mood to get beer strikes me about once a month, and I usually get a big can, like a can of Foster’s. I checked out around 6:50 (because with practically no one in the start, you get things done quickly), and the man ringing up the items tells me, referring to the beer, “I can’t sell you this.”

Puzzled, and thinking I had somehow entered some time warp where Prohibition was again legal in 2016, I began thinking about what the problem was. Looking it up after I went home, it seems that Florida (unless a local municipality orders otherwise) has a law that you can’t buy beer between 1:00am to 7:00am, which I wasn’t aware of. If I had waited 10 more minutes and checked out at 7:00, the law would not have applied.

Now, I wasn’t planning on drinking it in the morning, but with lunch. But I suppose the law is the law, and the nanny state is alive and well.

Flashback: “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor

A week has gone by, nothing new about what killed Prince. Rumor has it (from a couple of media sources) is that the 80’s pop star had the AIDS virus. Nothing but conjecture at this point, but in the absence of information, rumor will continue to persist as the media outlets continue the hunt for solid info.

Prince pinned this beauty of a ballad originally for a funk band called The Family in 1985, but Irish singer Sinead O’Connor (no stranger to controversy in her own career, famously ripping up a picture of Pope John Paul II in 1992 on Saturday Night Live) took the song and made it her own, giving her a #1 hit on the Billboard charts in 1990.

I always love a good ballad, and it didn’t hurt that an Irish singer performed it. Wasn’t a bad year for the Irish, as Ireland made the final eight of the 1990 World Cup before losing to host Italy (despite not winning a single game, but winning a penalty shootout over Romania in the round of 16), and Irish horse Go and Go won the 1990 Belmont Stakes.

More to come…

An Indiana General In King Trump’s Court

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Dick Vitale always called Bobby Knight “The General.” I’ve always said simply that he’s a leader of men, pure and simple. That is, young men who want to become better men.

I’ve always been a fan of Knight’s. Yes, I know, I know. He has had some legendary anger management issues that has checkered his career, including a famous chair throwing incident in 1985. But my respect for him is there because he always did two things right. First, he made sure his players paid attention to their studies, making sure they were not just there to be basketball goons.

Secondly and more importantly: he followed NCAA rules to the letter, and that meant everyone he coached followed those rules without exception. Once in Steve Alford’s career, he agreed to pose for a calendar photo for an on-campus charity, which was against NCAA rules at the time. Alford was suspended one game, and Coach Knight lambasted his pupil mercilessly for costing him victory against Kentucky in the game Alford sat out. Harsh, yes, but the point was made, taken, and understood from that point on.

Last night, the 75 year old Knight endorsed Donald Trump, which carries some weight (or should) because Knight rarely does political endorsements. Some in the media say it’s merely a sign of one bully enabling another bully. I have a slightly different point of view. I think Knight sees Trump as he sees himself: not cut out of anyone else’s cloth, a renegade, a guy who leads as he chooses to lead. While Trump isn’t my cup of tea, I kind of get where “The General” is coming from here.

Aircheck: WINZ (South Florida), 10/10/1987

It’s Uncle Neil’s (Neil Rogers) last show on WINZ in South Florida, as he headed over to WZTA (Zeta 4, 04.9 FM) to do an FM morning drive talk show (on a rock station, no less) two days later on October 12th. He’s playing a lot of his bits on what would wind up being his last ever Saturday talk show.

Later in the show, Neil’s on and off sidekick Glen “The Bird” Hill joins in, as does Stan Major.

Now a days, WINZ is an all sports station in Miami that is the flagship station for the Miami Marlins, and WZTA is now WMGE, an all Spanish pop radio station.

Deflategate Redux

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I know. I’ve been doing a lot of blog entries revisiting some of the 1,000 or so I’ve already done. But that’s the way life is, I guess. Some things just keep crawling back into view, whether you want them to or not.

The most recent of recent examples is the fact that yesterday an appeals court reversed a previous appeal of the Deflategate fiasco of 2015. Therefore, if Tom Brady wants to continue playing in the NFL and choose not to retire (he’ll be 39 at the start of the 2016 season), he will have to serve a four game suspension and sit out the first four regular season games of the year.

That is, unless he or the NFL Players Association which to re-appeal, possibly to the US Supreme Court.

As I said last year, the whole thing is a circus. The NFL wants to keep up this “crime doesn’t pay” image when history shows other players in Brady’s era or thereabouts did the same thing without getting caught. If there was such concern about Brady getting footballs deflated changing the outcomes of games he’s playing in, why not suspend him from the next game, which was Super Bowl XLIX?

If you have laws and rules, and you say that there will be order, and therefore punishment for whoever breaks the rules and laws, enforce it every time. What applies to Tom Brady should also apply to Joe Shlabotnik.

Getting Boned By Bone Biggs

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The veterans/police benevolent/fire department/teachers scam is back darkening my door again, or at least noisifying my phone. You can tell who these people are, as I mentioned a little over three years ago: they all want to record you, and they all want you to make pledges to some group that you have no idea as to whether or not they are a fraud.

It’s never just one organization that calls you (though that I’m now convinced it’s not some ACLU front but some kind of GOP scam), it’s one organization passing your number to another, then another, and so on.

The latest organization that calls me: should I give out their number? Why yes, yes I should, since they know mine. They call  me from 202-688-1029 and have the caller ID of Bone Biggs. When I get strange calls like this, Google is many friend, as just typing this number into their search engine tells me they’re a bunch of chronic scammers.

I don’t avoid them, I like to mess with them as they mess with me. I say hello, which activates some computer triggers, and I get an automate voice saying hello back. Then, I say nothing, and wait for them to hang up, which they do.

Keep it coming, guys. I’ll be here one more time then you’re willing to call. Now, I don’t say that to be an a**hole or anything, because I’ve been on the other end, taking the abuse dealt out by the people in my current shoes. I just wish the people in charge of these places would cut all the cloak-and-dagger nonsense and not hide behind falsehoods.

In my “perfect world” if such a thing would exist, there would be a message at the beginning of any such call clearly stating who the business is and belongs to, and what they want. Makes you wonder why that world doesn’t exist, doesn’t it?

Swimming In Pizza

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I must be doing something right in my life these days, living in the Tampa Bay area.

Twice in the past week, I’ve taken advantage of a couple of deals Papa John’s Pizza has offered, mainly because of geography and local sports. Much like similar deals in other Major League Baseball markets, if the Rays score six runs or more in a game, their pizzas can be ordered half off online if put the code of “RAYS6” in. Last year, the Rays scored six runs or more in 37 of their 162 games. So far in 17 games this season, they’ve only gotten to six runs twice.

But wait, there’s more! Whenever the Tampa Bay Lightning win a game, the pizza is also half off when ordering online, using the “SLAPSHOT50” code. Thursday, the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 12-8, AND the Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 to win their first round series in the NHL playoffs, sending Detroit fans and their octopi back home to Michigan.

On top of that, I had a free pizza coming my way with their rewards points system.

With all of these orders to choose from, I had a brain fart. I redeemed the free pizza as opposed to keeping that offer on ice for later.

Oh, well. What can you do other than fridge the pizza slices that you can’t eat? There are bad problems to have, and good problems to have, and this is a clear example of the latter.

Deja Vu All Over Again

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With everyone still talking about the death of Prince on the networks in a near breathless detail, it gave me a weird sense of deja vu that I’ve only had one other time in my life.

I was at home on February 1, 2003 in the early morning hours. I knew the space shuttle Columbia was set to land just past 9am. The cable news outlets were preparing to briefly cover the landing, or so I thought. I read on the bottom of the TV screen that Mission Control in Houston had lost contact with the shuttle minutes prior to landing, which began ringing alarm bells in my head. I knew from following the landings that there is usually a blackout period when the shuttle returns to Earth, but that time should have come and gone by that point.

Then the landing time of 9:16am came and went, still no shuttle. Commentators like Jay Barbree on MSNBC (who I once talked to in my radio travels, decent man) and Miles O’Brien on CNN were beginning to put Columbia and the fallen shuttle Challenger in the same sentence. Something was wrong, but what, and where would it come down, and in how many pieces?

The rest of the day was a blur. That day in February, to me, very much resembled January 28, 1986. The three anchors were the same: Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather on ABC, NBC, and CBS respectively. The facts slightly different, but as was the case in 1986, a loss of all seven members of the crew, each time five men and two women.

Prince passing felt very similar to me to Michael Jackson’s passing. MJ died on a Thursday in June 2009 right after Farrah Fawcett had been buried, Prince died on a Thursday a few hours after pro wrestler Joan “Chyna” Laurer had passed in California. In both MJ and Prince’s cases, there seemed to be warnings the each was not well in the time leading up to the passing of each rock/pop legend, but only fully decipherable until both had respectively died.

Not to mention the “King Of Pop” had two sons named Prince, which is somewhat odd.

Another odd fact, Prince mentions in his 1987 song “Sign O’ The Times” the following lyric:

Is it silly, no?
When a rocket blows and, and everybody still wants to fly
Some say man ain’t happy truly until a man truly dies
Oh why, oh why?

In a way, everything ties together when you really look at things.

Much like that day in 2003, Thursday was a bit of a blur to me. Even though there were marked differences in the lives touched and now changed, it felt like generally it was the same script, a story I didn’t want to relive again, but a reality that will now be there eternally.

Flashback: “I Wanna Be Your Lover” By Prince

One of the greats left us yesterday, as Prince Rogers Nelson, better simply known as Prince, died yesterday in Minnesota at 57.

For many of us who went to high school in the second half of the 80’s, his hits were the soundtrack of our lives. I saw last week that he had a bad bout with the flu, but reportedly recovered. Seems like the recovery itself was temporary, though his cause of death won’t be revealed for a while, or so it seems at the time of this writing.

As I was telling a friend last night, he was our generation’s version of Jimi Hendrix. No one was doing what Prince did in the MTV era (or, back when MTV played actual songs), and even Eric Clapton was quoted a few times saying that he thought Prince was a better guitarist than he is. Now that is high praise.

It was hard to find a song that Prince did on YouTube, so this concert footage from early in his career will have to do. May he rest in peace.

4/20

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Yesterday was April 20th, a date that means something if you smoke some marijuana.

To be honest, I never have smoked weed to this day. Closest I ever got to doing it was briefly holding a lady friend’s marijuana cigarette my freshman year of 1985 at Largo High School. My heart skipped a few beats those moments, fearing I was being set up for a bust, that my lady friend would suddenly say “That’s not mine!” if busted.

I don’t think marijuana should be illegal. I see people on prescription medication act a lot more crazy and do a lot worse, not to mention those people on steroids that have frequented the sports and entertainment industries.

But yet, here we live in a society where mellow MJ is banned, but prescription drugs are not. Something’s wrong with that picture.

Spreadsheet Baseball, Revisited

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Carlton Fisk gesturing at a ball he hit to stay fair during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. The ball indeed stayed fair that October 11th evening, giving Boston a 7-6 win in 12 innings. The following night, the Reds took the final and decisive 7th Game.

A little less than four years ago, I did a post about Out Of The Baseball, a baseball simulation that I kill a lot of time playing. The 17th version of the game has been released for about a month now, chock full of more bells and whistles. What I said back then about OOTP I say again now: there’s less in this game that you cannot do as opposed to what you can do.

One of the new improvements to the sim is that you can take any two teams dating back to 1901 and put them in a series against each other. Eager to test out this new part of the game, I did a 1975 World Series replay, which many consider to be the best World Series of all time. Following real life conditions, Boston was the home team for series, and as was the case that season, I did not use the designated hitter for the entire series per the rules of that year’s series.

The first six games weren’t much to right home about, as each team took three games. In fact, each team took the game that was taken in the real life series. (Boston winning games 1,4, and 6, Cincinnati winning 2,3, and 5.) The sixth game, in real life a classic contest, was an 11-4 rout by Boston to even the series.

The seventh game was one of the best games I’ve ever seen playing OOTP these past few years, although I was watching the computer manage both teams. Boston built an 8-0 with 4 runs in the first two innings apiece, knocking Reds starter Jack Billingham out of the box. The Reds then catch fire, scoring 5 in the fifth and 2 in the 6th, now trailing 8-7. It then looked like the Reds had petered out, as the Red Sox kept them off the board in the 7th, 8th, and were an out, then a strike away in the ninth from winning.

With Joe Morgan up with a 3-2 count and two outs and nobody on, he hammered a Dick Drago pitch down the right field line, and it’s LONG gone into the Boston night for a home run. The game is now an 8-8 tie, the Reds completing their comeback to tie the game being down 8-0 after two. The game stays that way through the 9th, 10th, and 11th.

Much like the real life sixth game, the deciding frame would be the 12th inning. After Bill “Spaceman” Lee killed off a Reds rally in the top of the 12th by inducing Ken Griffey Sr. to fly out to left, Clay Carroll took the mound. After Tim Blackwell walked, Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn hit back to back singles to load the bases. Dwight Evans came up to bat, and promptly drilled the first pitch for a line drive base hit to right to win the game and series, 9-8.

What a (simulated) game it was.

The Fight For $15

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In the past year or so, McDonald’s employees have made their intentions known that they would like an hourly wage that’s livable. And so, they started a movement with the eventual goal of making a wage of $15 an hour.

McDonald’s responded in kind to this movement with the usual amount of tone deafness of companies that would accompany the hiring of skilled workers at low wages. They have, in various places here and there in the world, experimented with automated cashiers.

Automated cashiering is nothing new to me. In 1996, I could go to my nearest Taco Bell in Marietta, Georgia and press a touch screen to get my order. In 2000, I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina when Kroger’s brought out automated cashiers. You scan the items you want, and you can pay either by cash or credit card.

Just like Walmart, the CEO of McDonald’s just got a hefty raise to ignore the wishes of his employees to the tune of 368%. (He made $7.91 million in 2015, as opposed to $1.69 million in 2014.) Anyone wonder how he sleeps at night? I imagine he’s paid so well because his bosses don’t want him rocking the boat.

Greed is only good if you’re on the greedy end. Otherwise, it sucks.