The World According to Keitho

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Archive for November, 2015

Cranberry sauce is for the birds

Posted by keithosaunders on November 28, 2015

one cran

OK listen up people. Once again it’s up to me to speak truth to power. Yeah that’s right, I’m referring to the corporate behemoth that is Big Thanksgiving.

You might be thinking, this is great, I’ve got 4 days off beginning with a feast at Auntie Gladys.’ You’re wrong. There are 3 football games that you are libel to miss for the sake of eating the most overrated foods known to man.  For a bonus you can throw in nonstop humblebragging from family.

Let’s face it folks, turkey is a dry, tasteless bird that when prepared well is passable at best, but the rest of the traditional Thanksgiving meal is a culinary travesty.

I mean, yams? They’re nothing more than a sickly sweet gooey mess.  Just because a food is orange doesn’t make it good.  I like my vegetables bitter, like my outlook on life.

There’s a reason we don’t eat stuffing year round with chicken: IT TASTES LIKE CARDBOARD THAT’S BEEN RUN OVER BY A BUS.

And cranberry sauce? How about no!  Again, don’t ruin my dinner with sweetness.   (see the above photo for my Thanksgiving dinner allotment of cranberry sauce)

Which brings me to desert.  Pecan pie is OK but I defy anyone to tell me that pumpkin pie is more desirable than chocolate cake .  It isn’t – we all know that.

Enjoy.

keith cran

Here I am being force fed cranberry sauce.

 

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Martin Saunders Jan 15th, 1927-November 18th 2015

Posted by keithosaunders on November 23, 2015

My earliest memory is of my father encasing my brother and I in his arms and rolling us down a hillside in a park in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.  That’s all you need to know about him.  He was there for us.  He took us to ballgames, to the beach, Disneyland, played catch with us in the summer, and shot hoops with us in the winter.  Even though he didn’t make any real money until well into his middle age, he rented a piano and gave me piano lessons from the time I was 8 until I turned I8.  When I decided to make music my life’s work, rather than discourage me by suggesting I find something to fall back on he encouraged me to keep playing and to follow my dream of moving to New York City.

He was born in Brooklyn in 1927.  My grandfather Leo was a rabid Dodgers fan and he passed this on to my Dad who would pass it on to me, although unlike him I would become a traitor , turning to the New York Mets in 1984.

Dad grew up with those bad Dodgers teams of the ’30s but would see them develop into a juggernaut in the 40s and 50s. He used to tell me about those bad Dodgers teams — how Leo would take him to Ebbets field and insist on staying to the end of the game no matter how far the Dodgers were behind. “You never know!”  One day Leo wanted to take my Dad to a Dodgers game but the skies looked threatening.  He decided to phone the stadium.  My Dad tells the story that all of a sudden Leo burst out of the phone booth with a huge smile, shouting, “GAME TODAY!”

He had this uncle Bill who somehow knew Babe Ruth. One day Uncle Bill took my Dad, who would have been 4 or 5, to Manhattan to the hotel Ruth was staying in. Somehow Dad ended up in Ruth’s lap and the Bambino asked him, “Are you a Yankees fan, son?” My Dad scowled and shot back, “I root for the Dodgers!!” The Babe smiled, laughed, and answered, “You stick with them, son. One day they’ll be good!”

Shortly before coming out of the army in 1946 Dad was quarantined and finding himself bored with nothing to do he invented a card football game.  At some point it was actually published in Esquire magazine.  He also invented card baseball and basketball games but the game that my brother and I loved the most was card boxing.  Not because it was a good game — it wasn’t.  You assigned  the two boxers a color – red or black. If two cards of the same color turned over that was a knockdown – if three in a row came up it was a knockout.  What we loved about it was that Dad would announce the fight, often making it an imaginary fight between a pair of friends or our neighbors. His announcing was so funny that he would have us in hysterics.

He could name every World Series and how many games it went going back to 1940.  Through him I learned that Stan Musial was a Dodger-killer, the most rabid Dodger fans lived in Bay Ridge, and that Jackie Robinson was the most exciting player he ever saw.

When I was 19 I had my first gig away from home playing in a cruise ship lounge band.  Dad drove me to the harbor in San Pedro to board the ship.  We pulled up to find the ship 30 yards from the dock and moving in the wrong direction!  (I had been given an erroneous arrival time and would have to fly to San Francisco the next day to catch up with the ship)  It just so happened that the Dodgers were home playing a day game and on the spur of the moment my Dad suggested we go.  I’ll never forget that game.  The Reds got off to a 4-0 lead in the 1st inning and just when I was wondering if the day could get any worse the Dodgers answered with a 10 run bottom of the 1st and coasted to an easy victory.  But what has stuck with me all of these years is that stolen time that I had with my Dad at a weekday baseball game.  He took time off from work to cheer me up and ended up giving me a memory that lasted a lifetime.

Thank you, Dad.  Thank you for your wit, your humor, and your love.  You’re physical presence is gone but I’ll carry you with me forever.

 

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Jam sessions: Not for the faint of heart. (or the humorless)

Posted by keithosaunders on November 10, 2015

For the past four years I’ve played in a house rhythm section at a jam session in Oakland. The gig follows a common jam session template: The house band plays a set which is followed by a break after which the jam session starts.  Anybody can sit in.

Anybody.

The singers are the worst.  At least with the horn players you can assume that they have spent time actually studying how music works.  For instance, it is useful to understand that songs are divided into equal units we call measures and that these measures contain smaller, equidistant units known as BEATS.  The singers don’t understand this.  If they’re lucky they will intuitively feel the beat and are able to maintain their place in the song.  But often they can’t feel the beat leaving them with two options.

a) They can listen to the band and try to hear where the downbeat is. Often the pianist (that’s me) will feed them the melody as a cue.

Needless to say option a is rarely utilized.

b) They can guess.

Option b is a very popular option.

So what happens when you have the singer and the band in different parts of the song?  It works out just fine if you’re performing a Yoko Ono song, but not so well for Gershwin or Cole Porter.  What ensues is a kind of musical free for all. The pianist may follow the singer while the bassist may stay put hoping the singer gets back on track.  Now you have people in three different spots of the song while the drummer silently congratulates himself for choosing an instrument that doesn’t require the playing of notes.

If you are ever in the audience when this happens check out the expressions on the musician’s faces.  The pianist, with lips pursed and glowering eyebrows will be doing the slow burn, resembling a constipated ombudsman. The bass player will probably be stifling a laugh, while the drummer, having given up on the tune entirely, will be at the bar flirting with an out of work tarot card reader with breasts the size of basketballs.

To sum up, you have to have a sense of humor to play at a jam session.  Especially after receiving your paycheck.

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The war on the war on Christmas

Posted by keithosaunders on November 9, 2015

Starbucks

This is unbelievable.  People are up in arms because Starbucks came out with Christmas coffee cups without pictures of snowflakes or Santa.  REALLY?  The cups have the prerequisite red and green coloring.  What more do you need, baby Jesus drinking an egg nog latte?!  To tell you the truth I’m more offended that these cups get trotted out in early November. We haven’t even had our lousy Thanksgiving meal with all the overrated trimmings that go along with it. (There’s a reason we don’t eat stuffing and cranberry sauce year round)

I am not offended by the Christmas season and all the imagery and hooplah that comes along with it.  I likes me a Little Christmas Carol, Clydesdales tromping around a New England snowscape, and Norelco commercial with Santa riding the razor like a sled.  It’s good clean fun!  What I don’t need is pre-Halloween or Thanksgiving capitalistic Christmas hype.  And by the way, if we’re at War with Christmas then the months from January through October should be called The Christmas Armistice.  (tm)

norelco2

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Going postal

Posted by keithosaunders on November 7, 2015

post_office_line

This afternoon I went to the post office to mail a package to my daughter.  There was the usual Saturday long line and only one postal worker behind the counter.  It was a tense crowd.  For example:  A woman came in and announced that she was after me in line and then disappeared.  (I think she went to address her package but this remains shrouded in mystery) Fifteen minutes later she emerged and took her place behind me in line, much to the consternation of the woman who had been behind me.  A terse discussion ensued prompting the disappearing woman to say, “You can go ahead of me if you must.”  Talk about passive aggression!

Soon thereafter several people could no longer contain their impatience and began shouting out, “Why is there only one worker?!”  One gentleman went the anti-govt route: “What do you expect from the government?!” Still another: “Your tax dollars at work!” Then there were the peaceniks “Come on, they’re doing the best they can! What do you expect on a Saturday?!”

I just sat back, smiled, and took it all in. At last, I thought, a broo-hah-hah without me in the center.

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The baseball card collector from hell

Posted by keithosaunders on November 5, 2015

frank howard

Like a lot of kids I collected baseball cards. I remember having most of the 68-70 Topps series. This was the era when the players largely resembled marines.  Frank Howard’s card comes to mind because it was kind of scary –  he was this behemoth who for some reason wore frame-less glasses.  He looked like a combination intellectual and ax-murderer.  In a few years the hippie culture would catch up to baseball at which point long hair and fancy beards and mustaches would abound.  But in 1969, even though the rest of the world was turning on and tuning out, the average baseball players look was that of a buttoned down nerd automaton.  Kind of like today’s Yankees.

Did I save the cards?  Yes, but – and you knew there would be a ‘but’ –  they are far from mint condition.  In fact, is there a category below ‘poor’?  Well below?

You see, way back in 1945 during the war…what do you mean what war?  THE BIG ONE.  WW DEUCE.  Now where was I?  OK, my Dad was quarantined for two weeks after returning from Japan. Since Al Gore would not invent the internet for another 50 years, my Dad had nothing to do. All he had was a few back issues of Stars and Stripes and a deck of playing cards.  What did he do?  Why he invented the greatest card baseball game in the history of card baseball games!

Now we fast forward a few decades to 1970 at which point Dad taught the game to me.  Picture the Lion King without actual singing or drama.  I instantly loved the game.  I took to it like Lucas Duda to a called third strike.

So:  I had a card baseball game and actual baseball cards. What to do…

Here’s 10 year old Keitho:

Say, I bet I can use my baseball cards as my lineup for the card game!  Hmm…I but I don’t have enough infielders in my Braves deck. Think, Keitho, think…I’VE GOT IT!  I’ll write 3B in ink on this Hank Aaron card and voila – hours of unbound fun!

Suffice it to say that 80% of my remaining cards have been horribly defaced.

For years I would play entire seasons (there were card football and basketball games as well) and I still have my folder containing all of the season stats.  For some reason I remember that one of my World Series was the Dodgers vs the Bluejays, and this was when the Jays had only been around a few years and were still bad.

So there you have it.  I collected comics and baseball cards and all I ended up with were these lousy memories.  Just kidding — the memories are actually pretty good.  Prettyyyyyyy, prettyyyyy, good!

larrydavid

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Days of comics

Posted by keithosaunders on November 4, 2015

jla2

Moving on.  (I’m still in the denial stage of what just happened re the World Series.)

I follow this person on Twitter who posts pictures of silver age comic books from the 60s and 70s.  He’s running an ebay business and the photos come with a link where you can purchase said comics, some with a price tag north of $100.00. Still, I enjoy seeing the photos of the comics, many of which I bought new, before tragically selling them for a pittance after deciding I had outgrown them. I wrote about that here.

At first I dabbled in Archie comics but soon gravitated towards the superhero books.  I was more of a DC man but I bought Marvel as well.  My favorite comic was the Justice League of America. I loved the idea of an interchangeable roster of heroes, each with his or her distinctive costume. I can still name the seven original Leaguers: Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, & Wonder Woman.  Like major league baseball, expansion would come to the Justice League and the first three additions were Green Arrow, the Atom, & Hawkman. (think of them as the Mets, Colt 45s, & Angels)

My favorite heroes’ were the Flash, the Atom, Hawkman, and Green Lantern.  I wasn’t that interested in Superman and Batman since they were kind of obvious and over-exposed.  What’s the deal with Superman anyway?  Is he some kind of Aryan ideal?  Batman is damaged goods – a psychotic who saw his parents gunned down.  (Come to think of it that actually makes him more likable) Aquaman’s power was too limiting, requiring water for him to be of any use.  Green Arrow was not exotic enough and I was never a Robin Hood guy.  In the early 70s, in an effort to compete with the more colorful Marvel personalities, DC gave Green Arrow a spiffier costume, long hair and a hipster goatee.  They also gave him a hothead personality, as well as a love-interest, Black Canary.  I liked him a little more in those days but he never cracked my big four.

I was drawn to the more science-fictiony characters.  The Atom could shrink yet somehow retain his true weight. Hawkman, being from the planet Thanager, used alien science. The Flash was a police-scientist in his secret identity (Barry Allen) and Green Lantern?  Well he’s not that sciency, but come on, what’s cooler, than an enormous power-ring green fist?

Next post we’ll go over baseball cards.

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The second guessers

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

I killed Matt Harvey back in September over the maxed-out innings controversy. I said he was gutless and that he was a pussy. Well I was wrong. He pitched his ass off in the post season leaving nothing on the table. Last night he was as dominating as a pitcher can be and showed no signs of weakening in the 8th inning.

Terry Collins showed guts in allowing Harvey to come out for the 9th. I don’t want to hear this BS about automatically going to the closer. Who are they going to? Mariano Rivera? Familia had a great season but by the time the Series came around he was used up meat and the Royals can hit him.

I can remember a delicate-genius manager, Tony La Russa, who went to his closer in the 9th inning.  This was a pitcher who would end his career with 390 saves and he probably would have had the most ever had he not been a starter the first 10 years. I bet Kirk Gibson remembers him.  If Dennis Eckersley can fail (and even the great Mariano couldn’t get it done in 2001) then it’s certainly not written in stone that Familia gets three easy 9th inning outs.

This is not a cookie cutter game.  Just because you have a closer doesn’t mean he will succeed every single time out, as evidenced by game one of this Series.  If you want to kill Collins how about this? He had two starters in his bullpen, both pitching effectively — Jon Niese & Bartolo Colon. How about sticking with them for more than an inning at a time?

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Post mortum

Posted by keithosaunders on November 2, 2015

The Mets lost the 2015 World Series and they did it in their inimitable style — in gut wrenching and embarrassing fashion.  After an improbable, some might say, miraculous season and playoffs, they came crashing back to earth in a World Series that saw them blow three late-inning leads,including two saves.

Their offense went awol, reverting back to pre-Cespedes quality, and their defense was putrid. I would go so far as to say that this was the worst World Series lineup I have ever seen.  The only one that comes close is the 1988 Dodgers, but that team won!

Yoenis Cespedes was playing hurt, his bat non-existent, but his defense was piss-poor and half the time it appeared as if his head was not in the game.  His bass-running gaffe which ended game 4 was inexcusable.  I was a huge Cespedes fan and it’s obvious that without him the Mets do not make the playoffs, but after watching his World Series error-riddled performance I question his baseball IQ.

It’s not only Cespedes.  Daniel Murphy, who carried the Mets through the NLDS and NLCS, reverted to being Daniel Murphy, slumping horribly and fielding like a little leaguer.  It will be interesting to see which team overpays for him during the offseason.

Nevertheless, I thought Terry Collins had a good Series.  I appreciate the fact that he sticks with his starters longer than most managers.  Matt Harvey, who I killed before the playoffs, pitched an absolute gem through 8 innings of game 5 and he (rightfully) lobbied to stay in the game for the 9th.  How could you take him out?  He was untouchable.  Jeurys Familia had been anything but lights out this past week and it was far from a given that he would have retired the side.  This idea that there has to be 7th, 8th, and 9th inning specialists is garbage.  GARBAGE.  I have no respect for anyone who would second guess Collins for having left Harvey in.  Zero.  If Lucas Duda makes a decent throw to the plate the Mets win the game.

And so it continues.  Even after a World Series appearance I cannot escape the embarrassment of rooting for this team. They couldn’t just lose normally — they had to do it in Keystone Cops fashion.  It’s as if they’re still paying off a deal with the devil they made in 1986. Written in small print in the contract:  Drink up, do as much coke as you want, stay out all night, get into brawls –  I’ll see that you win.  But be warned! Your team will be doomed to lose in embarrassing fashion for the next hundred years. 

A playoff upset to the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, the Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla era of the early 90s, the subway Series loss to the hated Yankees, Yadier Molina’s game 7 NLCS homerun, the epic division collapses of 2007 and 2008, and the garbage years of 2009-2014.

What to do?  I’ll sleep this one off, lose myself in some football, and by the time February rolls around hope will spring eternal.  Despite the doom and gloom of this post, the future does look bright for this team.  If only they can get out of their own way.

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