Friday, July 9, 2010

Auf wiedersehen, Cliff Lee

Back in December when the Seattle Mariners landed Cliff Lee, about all Weisenheimer could say was, "Damn!" Now that Lee has been shipped off to the Texas Rangers for four prospects my reaction is pretty much the same, except it doesn't have the exclamation point.

I was excited about Lee, and the prospect of him teaming with Felix Hernandez as a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. But even in that December post I rang some warning bells:

There's still the small matter of the offense. Right now we have really no idea who is going to play LF or 1B, and if you go into the season with Jose Lopez penciled in as your cleanup hitter, then that's not a happy recipe for success. Opening day, however, is still nearly four months away. I have a feeling Jack Zduriencik may know what he's doing.
Ex-Mariner Cliff Lee. AP photo.
Well, maybe not. Z did not go out and get any bats, starting the season with ancient Mariners Griffey and Sweeney on the roster. My Sweetie, the official scorer, will back me up on this: At the start of the season I predicted the M's would be 10 games back of first by the first of May. I admit I was wrong. It took nearly until the first of June for them to be 10 games back, and now, with the All-Star game (it counts, you know) at hand. They're about to drop to 17 games back.

Trading Lee makes some sense on a couple of levels. It's a reasonable presumption that, at this point, it's not likely that the M's would have been able to lock up Lee on a long-term contract. (We'll ignore, for today, the differing versions of how hard they tried to do so this spring when the notion was much more plausible.) We won't know for sure for at least three or four years, but the package of prospects they received for Lee today seems much better than the package they gave up to get him seven months ago.

Here's the thing: I am sick and tired of the Mariners always being a seller.

Who have been the marquee acquisitions for the M's over the years?  Richie Zisk? Kevin Mitchell? Pete O'Brien? Willie Horton? Gaylord Perry? Sheesh, in the magical year of 2001, when it was clear they would make some noise, who was the big help they brought in to help in July? Doug Creek.

The thing about Smoak, for those of you who have been bemoaning Casey Kotchman all season long, is that Smoak is about the same guy. Numbers this year for Kotchman: .212 BA, 6 HR, 28 RBI, .648 OPS. For Smoak: .208-8-34-.670. Smoak is 23 years old, Kotch 27, which is not a trivial difference. And even though he's a switch hitter, Smoak hasn't had much luck against left-handed pitching so far. And you know what? If Smoak turns out to be the real deal, round about 2014 they'll trade him to the Yankees rather than lose him to free agency, because we can't afford good players, even with a taxpayer-funded stadium full of poutine.

Well. I'm hoping I get to see some games in Great Falls and Helena this year.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Six best Woody Allen flicks

Apparently a week or so ago Woody Allen did an interview with The Times of London in which he listed his six favorite Woody Allen films. They are:
  • Purple Rose of Cairo
  • Match Point
  • Bullets Over Broadway
  • Zelig
  • Husbands and Wives
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona
In Zelig Leonard Zelig (Allen, left) tries
to convince Psychologist Dr. Eudora
Fletcher (Mia Farrow) that he, too, is a
shrink and must leave because he has to
teach a course on masturbation. "If I'm
not there," he says, "they start without me."
I first found out about the story today on one of my favorite blogs, By Ken Levine. Levine disagrees with Allen's assessment. So does Vanity Fair. So does The Slog. It could be that Allen was pulling The Times' collective leg. It could be that he knew he could drum up some publicity because any numbskull or Weisenheimer with a blog would be willing to write up the correct list. It's also not clear if Allen was listing his favorite movies or the ones he thought were the best. And its impossible to find out, because you have to pay to read the paper's stuff on its website. Clearly, they didn't get the memo that said Internet content is supposed to be free, free, free.

I think all of the films on Allen's list are good, though I can't judge Vicky Christina Barcelona, which I haven't yet seen. I'm sure my Sweetie, the official scorer and keeper of the Netflix queue, will allow it into the house, especially since Queen Elizabeth is in it. Yet, I don't agree with Allen, either. Here is the Weisenheimer list of favorite Woody movies:
  • Manhattan
  • Annie Hall
  • Bullets Over Broadway
  • Zelig
  • Play It Again, Sam
  • Sleeper
If I were making a list of best Woody movies, I'd probably bump the "earlier, funny" movies, Sam and Sleeper, in favor of Crimes and Misdemeanors and Hannah and Her Sisters.

Interestingly, much of the disagreement among the various lists reveals a rift between those who love the earlier, funny movies and those who don't. Allen made a whole damn movie about the question 30 years ago, Stardust Memories, which barely misses my list. It's great because it's hilarious and because Charlotte Rampling is Hawt with a capital H. Everyone Says I Love You, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask are all high on the honorable mention list.

I love the earlier, funny ones, too, but think Allen's later work has better-developed characters, better plots, and is more beautifully photographed. They're better technically, and they're still very funny.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Omar Torrez: Virtuoso World Traveler

I don't often write about our music outings because words fail me. My overly verbal brain doesn't seem to process music into words, and that's ok. Music is a respite from words, words, more words.

But the Weisenheimer has been stacked up with book reviews and astronomy events to write about, and we're still talking about our wonderful evening at the Omar Torrez (in photo by Darien Davis) show at the Triple Door a few weeks ago; it wouldn't do to allow it to go unrecorded here in our digital scrapbook. So I'll grope around for some words....

I knew nothing about Torrez except that he plays guitar, and I hadn't heard any of his music--sadly. Torrez is the son of a friend and former co-worker of the Wisey's from his radio days who let us know about the show. I tagged along because the Weisenheimer plans all our dates and when he says "try it, it'll be fun," I go along. That pretty much sums up our courtship and a long and successful relationship since.

From the opening chords I sat up a little straighter, and then I relaxed and for the rest of the evening all my jiggly parts were jiggling. As much as I was enjoying the rockin' and rollin' and charming storytelling and tight band, I did find myself thinking "Hey, I thought this guy was supposed to be a guitar player." Well. I enjoyed the second half of the set even more than the first. I understand Torrez has been described as the Latin Jimi Hendrix. Works for me. He also put us in mind of Santana, Andres Segovia, and Jimmy Nolen. His guitar solos were all over the map, or at least the warmer climes--the American South including Texas, New Orleans, and the Delta; Mexico; Brazil; Jamaica; and Spain. I'm pretty sure Torrez can do anything that can be done with a guitar. The combination of roots rock/blues and flamenco was an especially tasty one. We've since purchased his CD Corazon de Perro and we listen to it a lot.

So there you go. We liked it. We're looking forward to the next time Omar comes back through town; we won't miss it!