Goodbye, Chucky Cat

Not that I needed another sign of how old I’ve become, but I received a sad one this past week: My parents informed me that they had put their cat Chuck to sleep.

Chuck was the last of the pets that my parents owned while I still lived with them. And with his death, that pretty much severs the only remaining tie to my childhood.

I was primarily responsible for Chuck’s adoption. In the summer of 1995, I was working in my father’s store when I noticed a sign advertising that a black and white kitten named “Max” was up for adoption.

My mother had always been a fan of black and white cats, so I suggested that my father bring him home as a surprise present. He called Max’s owner to ask if the cat was still available, and then warned my mother that we’d be having a surprise guest for dinner the next night.

The next night, my mother was surprised – and thankfully pleased – to see who the guest was.

The "immortal" Charlie Hayes

The “immortal” Charlie Hayes

We decided to give him a new name, and I suggested naming him after the Philadelphia Phillies’ third basement at the time, the immortal Charlie Hayes. And so, the cat was rechristened as Chuck.

I’d also sometimes refer to him as “Mister Whiskers,” although there wasn’t any real basis for that nickname. (You know, aside from the fact that cats have whiskers)

You may remember Chuck from when I interviewed him. As I mentioned there, the two of us never got along all that well.

There wasn’t any one particular reason why we weren’t close.  He certainly didn’t like it when I’d bring him back inside the house at night, or pull him away from the rodents which he had hunted down, or move him out of my room when I wanted to sleep.

Maybe he sensed that I have never really been a “cat person.” Maybe with my sister moved out of the house, he filled the sibling rivalry void caused by her departure. Or maybe he simply wasn’t all that social. He didn’t get along particularly well with our other pets either.

After I went off to college, our relationship actually got worse. I think Chuck got used to having the run of the house, and didn’t appreciate when I’d come home to visit and encroach on what was now his territory.

It wasn’t until 2000 when I truly began to torment him. That was when I started doing “Here Comes Chucky Cat.” I would pick him up, and run around the house singing to the tune of “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

This is how I imagine Chuck felt when he saw me coming. (Image source)

This is how I imagine Chuck felt when he saw me coming. (Image source)

I enjoyed this little game much more than he did.

In recent years, his health began to worsen. He lost a significant amount of weight, and would become dehydrated to the point where he’d require an IV of fluids.

Worse, his mental condition deteriorated into a senile state. It got to the point where my parents didn’t want to let him go outside, fearing that he might wander off and not find his way back.

Last week, he stopped eating. Once that happened, my parents knew that it was finally his time.

At 19 years of age, Chuck certainly wasn’t shortchanged. I just hope he’s having a good time up in kitty heaven. He’s probably having a ball, chasing all the rodents he wants, and never having to worry about someone picking him up and singing “Here Comes Chucky Cat.”

Posted in Randomness | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Who won the internet? – Ryan Block

It’s time for another installment of Who Won the Internet? The first time I did this, I said that I hoped it would become a weekly feature…but I warned that it was more likely that you wouldn’t see it again for a couple of months.

It turned out I was correct in my negative assessment of my dedication. I just hope the anticipation will make this post that much more enjoyable.

This week’s winner was an easy choice.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a fan of Comcast. Therefore, when someone does something to embarrass the company and expose their horrible customer service practices to the world, it’s going to make me happy.

Ryan Block wanted to cancel his Comcast Xfinity cable service (A very wise decision). He called their cancellation department thinking this would be fairly simple to accomplish. But the “retention specialist” he spoke to made sure that the process was as difficult as possible.

About eight minutes into the call, Ryan was already becoming frustrated. So he decided to start recording the call. Once it was done, he posted it on the internet and it quickly went viral.

If you’ve somehow missed hearing the recording of the call, follow the link below. Keep in mind that Block didn’t start recording until about eight minutes in:

Ryan Block calls Comcast

Even though I’m not the one actually going through the process, I can’t help but get frustrated listening to the call. The Comcast rep’s refusal to comply with Block’s request and his constant badgering (“I just want to know what about our service you don’t like!”) is infuriating. Block must have near infinite patience as I would have surely been screaming and threatening the rep with bodily harm.

It reminded me of arguing with my daughter. Except when Block got too fed up, he didn’t have the option of putting the rep into “time out.”

Like most large corporations, Comcast isn’t thrilled about having this conversation become viral. Especially since it’s becoming more and more obvious that while the rep obviously took things a bit too far, he probably felt compelled to do so due to corporate policy.

Naturally, Comcast apologized to Block and said they were extremely sorry for what happened. Block topped off his week with a near perfect response.

He’s right. The company could take the easy route by making the rep a scapegoat, or they could examine why this happened and why people consider them to be the worst company in America.

Congratulations to Ryan. His patience, perseverance, cleverness, and grace allowed him to be the clear winner of the internet this week.

Posted in Who won the internet? | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Why I agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling on Hobby Lobby

As you may have heard, the Supreme Court of the United States made a somewhat important decision this week.

Side note #1: Are there any decisions made by the Supreme Court that aren’t important? I mean, isn’t that why they’re the Supreme Court? Do we really need to designate a ruling as being important?

Side note #2: I’m going to avoid using the acronym SCOTUS, simply because it reminds me of the word scrotum. Surely I’m not the only person to think this, right?

If you missed it, several American corporations – Hobby Lobby being the most prominent – wanted to opt out of certain mandates of Obamacare. The specific part that they disagree with is the inclusion of contraceptives. They argued that their religion opposes the use of certain types of contraceptives, and therefore it was un-Constitutional to force them to pay for them.

The Supreme Court agreed with them., and most liberals are up in arms about the decision. Heck, even some members of the Supreme Court are upset about it. As a firm liberal, it feels like I should be jumping on the bandwagon and join in on the condemnation of the Supreme Court (or at least the male members).

But I’m not going to do it. In fact, I actually agree with the court’s decision.

I’ll confess something right off the bat: I am not a woman. (Gasp!) I don’t want to be accused of being “another man telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies.”

I am also not a fan of Hobby Lobby. I think the owners are backwards-thinking people who would be just as happy if the Constitution was replaced by the Bible. But I also believe that they are quite devoted to their religion and are almost 100% sincere in their intentions.

Thanks to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), they are not only entitled to their religious beliefs, but they’re allowed to run their business – which has been deemed a “closely held corporation” – according to those beliefs.

Everybody seems to love laws like the RFRA when they protect our own individual freedoms. But we’re not always happy when it protects beliefs that don’t quite sync with our own.

I’ve noticed that Americans are often very quick to defend the religious beliefs of everyone in the country – except Christians. Even though Christianity is the predominant religion in America, it doesn’t mean that Christians are any less deserving of their rights.

Hobby Lobby is not forbidding employees not to take birth control. They are not firing people due to taking birth control. They are not enforcing their religious beliefs on their employees.

If women want to purchase birth control, they can still do so. But they’ve got to pay for them out of their own pocket.

I realize that some women take these drugs for other medical reasons besides preventing pregnancy. The cost of these drugs is high, and could very well cause some tough choices and hardship. While I sympathize with those women, that still doesn’t change my opinion on the Court’s ruling.

In all the outrage I’ve seen, most people are missing the real problems.

The first problem is that like many laws, RFRA was subject to a large margin of interpretation. And apparently it is so vague that even the members of the Supreme Court can’t really agree on it.

Since the law’s induction, a precedent has been set that it applies to closely held corporations as well as people. If that is how the law has been interpreted, then the owners of Hobby Lobby can indeed enforce their religious beliefs on their company.

I can understand why this interpretation exists. For instance, what would happen if a law was introduced saying that all restaurants must serve bacon with every meal?

Let's all pray that the bacon law never passes. (Image source)

Let’s all pray that the bacon law never passes. (Image source)

I’m sure there are some bacon enthusiasts out there who would be very favor of such a law, but for a restaurant owner who kept kosher, this would not be good news. The law would force them to operate their business in a manner that directly conflicted with their religious values.

Don’t they have the right to run their business in accordance with their beliefs?

The second problem is that the burden of providing health care is being placed on employers. When we place the financial burden of healthcare on corporations, it only make sense that those employers are going to want some input into what is being provided.

A loss for Obama is a win for conservatives? (Image source)

A loss for Obama is a win for conservatives? (Image source)

Many conservatives are pointing to the ruling as a victory. Based on what I’ve read, this is mostly because it was a defeat for Obama and Obamacare, and most conservatives have ceased caring about anything besides defeating Obama and anything he stands for.

But the continued push towards “corporations are people” may not turn out to be such a good thing for business interests. The relationship between a company and its owners has become blurred, and that may limit the amount of personal protection gained by incorporation.

I’m sure there are lawyers out there already dreaming up schemes to sue the owners of Hobby Lobby or other closely held corporations. Perhaps a former employee feels that they were discriminated against due to their religious beliefs. Since the company gains its religious views from its owners, shouldn’t the owners be held personally responsible for any discrimination?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg argued that the Supreme Court “ventured into a minefield” with their decision. While the situation is indeed a bit of a minefield, I feel it was created long before now, back when RFRA was introduced or when the precedent of “corporations as people” was first set.

The Court is now forced to maneuver their way through a terrain that is likely to become even more treacherous in the days ahead. In this particular case, even though it might not have been an especially popular step, I feel that it was indeed the correct one.

Posted in Trips and Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

So we bought a minivan

After learning that we would soon have three children living in our house, Mrs. Cutter and I realized our lives were about to change.

We knew that major adjustments would have to be made, and we weren’t exactly thrilled about some of them. One of the most distressing moments of my life was when I realized we would soon fall below a 1:1 person-to-bathroom ratio.

I'll be needing a couple more of these soon. (Image source)

I’ll be needing a couple more of these soon. (Image source)

Mrs. Cutter dealt with this better than I did for the most part. But she nearly lost it when she realized that we’d need to trade in one of our cars and purchase a minivan.

To her, driving a minivan is the ultimate surrender of whatever coolness we might have once possessed For me, that act of surrender came a few years ago when I traded in my convertible for a CR-V. The CR-V has served as somewhat of a gateway van, making this transition much easier to handle.

She tried to find a way to make the CR-V still work, but no amount of hoping and wishing could make three car seats fit in the backseat. Like it or not, we would soon be minivan owners.

We narrowed our purchasing choices down to the Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey. We test drove them both, and either would have worked, but we finally settled on the Odyssey. The deciding factor was that the Odyssey was more accommodating for three car seats, but it didn’t hurt that we really liked the Honda dealer.

If you’re in Maryland and want to buy a Honda, we recommend seeing David Tran at Criswell Honda. He was friendly, patient, and unlike the Toyota dealer, he didn’t call us at 9:30 in the morning asking when we’d be stopping by. I’ve had bad experiences with car dealers in the past, so dealing with David was a refreshing change of pace.

Although after watching this video, I’m a bit worried that we should have gone with the Toyota Sienna. It is apparently the much cooler vehicle:

Her parents might not have been all that thrilled about getting a minivan, but the Cutlet was ecstatic. When we pulled into the driveway with our new ride, her eyes lit up in delight.

“Yaaaaaay!” she squealed with glee before insisting on taking an immediate ride. She was disappointed when Mrs. Cutter drove her to school on Monday morning because it meant that she wouldn’t get to ride in it.

I guess I can understand the appeal. She’s got a lot of space in the backseat (Don’t get used to it, kid), and she gets to open and close the automatic doors by herself. To a three-year old, a car like that is about the coolest thing there is.

So in just a few short years, I’ve gone from cruising around in my convertible to trying to squeeze my van into parking spots that seem increasingly smaller. (Seriously, I’m having a hell of a time parking this thing.) But that’s what parenthood will do to you.

Nobody said we got to remain cool forever, right?

At least I’ll be able to transport my family around in comfort. Now all I need to do is to install another toilet in our home, and then I’ll be set!

Behold the ultimate in cool vehicles: The Honda Odyssey! (Image source)

Behold the ultimate in cool vehicles: The Honda Odyssey! (Image source)

Posted in The Cutlet | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

A Blogger’s Analysis of the 1989 Cleveland Indians as Depicted in Major League – Part Four

In honor the 25th anniversary of the movie Major League, I am attempting to chronicle the events of the movie from the perspective of a sports blogger.

For past installments: Part One – Part Two - Part Three

The “Wild Thing” makes for an interesting day at the ballpark

Now THAT was interesting.

After years of playing bad baseball that was for the most part unremarkable, the Indians gave us something new yesterday: Bad baseball that was absolutely fascinating to behold.

There were errors. There was a basket catch. There were base running mistakes. And most of all, there was Rick Vaughn.

Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn

Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn

Vaughn, who has been (affectionately?) nicknamed “Wild Thing,” had perhaps the most memorable debut in team history. He threw 14 pitches. The first 12 missed the strike zone, and maybe only two of them could even be generously categorized as close.

Vaughn’s 13th pitch was sent deep into the seats by Clu Heywood. My guess is that Vaughn was trying to stay away from Heywood, and he was only able to throw a strike when he didn’t actually want to.

His 14th – and final - pitch was a fastball directly into the back of the next batter. Vaughn claimed he wasn’t trying to hit him, and I think I believe him. Based on what we saw yesterday, it’s difficult to believe that Vaughn is capable of hitting his intended target.

The umpire disagreed and decided that on this particular pitch Vaughn’s accuracy was true, and ejected him from the game.

Vaughn’s line: 0 IP, 14 pitches, 1 H, 4 R, 0 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 1 ejection. If there’s another pitcher who has posted an identical (or even similar) line in history – let alone his debut – please share it with me.

Here’s a video of the carnage:

After Vaughn departed, (He didn’t go quietly either, as he had to be restrained and pretty much pulled off the field. A suspension is likely forthcoming.) the game did deteriorate into a mundane affair. The Yankees seemed to lose interest and were content to coast through the remainder of the game.

But we shouldn’t be too concerned about that. There are still 161 more chances for excitement, and in that regard, the Indians do not appear likely to disappoint.

Posted in Pop Culture, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Of Mice and Men

Let me tell you about the rabbits…

Like many couples, Mrs. Cutter and I had a plan.

After our wedding, we would enjoy a few years of married bliss and then begin to propagate. Once our first child was born, we’d sell our condo (at a tidy profit of course!) and move into a real person house in preparation for our second child (which would be the opposite gender of the first child).

At first, everything seemed to be going according to plan.  In October 2009, after a few months of work, Mrs. Cutter woke me up to show me a positive pregnancy test. So far, so good.

After spending a couple of years as a family of three, in January of 2012, we attempted to proceed with the next part of the plan. We put our condo up for sale, and even though we weren’t fooling ourselves into thinking we’d be making much money, we still hoped that we’d get a little bit out of the deal.

This is where things began to run a bit off course. As the calendar flipped to July, we were still living in the condo, having received a grand total of zero offers. And we received a further complication when Mrs. Cutter showed me yet another positive pregnancy test.

All of a sudden, we had extra incentive to find ourselves a new home big enough for our expanding family. But even the strongest incentive couldn’t seem to get our condo sold, and we concluded that we could not afford to move without selling first.

It should have been a happy time for us. I’d like to say that we were filled with happiness and optimism.

But we looked at our condo and realized it was growing smaller every day. We looked at our finances and realized I need to get a higher paying job. And it would be difficult to fix either of those problems until we sold the condo, and we were losing hope that we would ever be able to do that.

Maybe if I had felt more positively about that child, things would have worked out differently. Or maybe I’m just flattering myself to think that my negative mindset had anything to do with what happened. Sometimes these things are just not meant to be.

Once October rolled around, we had resigned ourselves to taking the condo off the market. A week before we likely would have given up, we finally received an acceptable offer. We had to quickly locate a new house of our own, but after the lengthy moving process was complete, it felt like we were finally getting back on track with our plan.

The only thing missing was the second child. That didn’t seem like such a tough task. We had already created one child, so we were pretty sure of the steps necessary to make another.

At first, we assumed that it was just a matter of time. But then a month passed; and then another; and then another.

It wasn’t an all-consuming obsession, but it began to wear on us a bit. The child-making process became much less enjoyable, and it certainly didn’t help that we kept getting reminders about our failure.

The Cutlet would see one of her friends get a new sibling and she would ask why she didn’t have a younger brother or sister. She celebrated her birthday and we realized that the potential age gap between the children was growing larger each day. Then I celebrated another birthday, and I realized that I’m not exactly a young man anymore.

As the months went by, our mindset slowly evolved. We went from “If it happens, it happens,” to “We’ll see what happens,” to “When is this going to happen?” to “Why isn’t this happening?” to “This might not happen.”

Mrs. Cutter and I have always been good at rationalizing things. We started talking about how much money we would have with only one child. We started to think that maybe we were only destined to have one child, and we should be thankful because there are many people who would give anything to even get that.

After waiting long enough for something, at some point your mind accepts the possibility that it isn’t actually going to happen. So I was genuinely surprised when Mrs. Cutter walked downstairs one morning holding a positive pregnancy test.

Due to what happened before, we were happy but cautious. The caution, along with a classification of “high risk” caused Mrs. Cutter to go in for an early sonogram.

When I looked at the monitor for the first time, that’s when I finally realized how little our plans actually mattered. A person can plan out their future all they want, but in the end, life has a way of changing those plans around.

Yes, we’re expecting the second child that we hoped and planned for. But we hadn’t planned for the possibility that the child might not come alone.

Welcome to the new plan.

Introducing the Cutlass and Cutter Junior (Cujo)

Introducing: The Cutlass and Cujo

Posted in Trips and Events | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Who won the internet? – Week of May 30th, 2014

I’m going to try out a new feature. My goal is to make this a recurring feature and repeat this every week. (Which means that you’ll be lucky if you see it again before August.)

Each week, someone in the world makes news in a way that captures the fancy of the internet-using public. The internet-using public often reacts by Tweeting, writing blog posts, and making clever Photoshopped images.

I’d like to honor those newsworthy individuals who are able to capture the public’s fancy in that manner. I’d like to honor those people who – for at least one week – are able to win the internet.

So with no further delay, I give you the premier edition of…

Who Won the Internet?

Week of May 30th, 2014: Lance Stephenson

The sports fans among you will know Stephenson as the starting shooting guard for the Indiana Pacers. His team is currently taking on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA playoffs.

For the non-sports fans among you (or at least the ones who didn’t stop reading once I started talking about sports), the Miami Heat employ LeBron James (I assume most people have at least heard of him) who is generally acknowledged as the world’s greatest basketball player.

Lance Stephenson has been tasked with trying to stop LeBron, but this has proven to be quite a difficult task. He tried trash talking him, but that only served to make him play better. So next, he tried pretending to sleep on the court:

After that didn’t work, it seemed that Stephenson was all out of ideas. But apparently he had one more trick up his sleeve.

During Tuesday’s game, Stephenson attempted to throw LeBron off his game by blowing in his ear.

Yes, that was certainly different. And bizarrely enough, it kind of worked. While it might have been more due to Stephenson’s tough defense (or perhaps just a bad night), LeBron had an uncharacteristically poor game and the Pacers won.

But that’s not really the important thing. The important thing is that the internet proceeded to internet, and we got ourselves a new meme!

http://allball.blogs.nba.com/2014/05/29/lance-stephenson-blowing-on-things-is-the-nbas-newest-meme/

http://www.sportspickle.com/2014/05/lance-stephensons-list-ideas-bother-lebron

So congrats to Lance! He may not end up winning the NBA title (and it is very likely that he will not), but for one week, he was able to win the internet! In my opinion, that’s a pretty nifty consolation prize.

Posted in Pop Culture, Sports, Who won the internet? | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

X-Men: Days of Maggott Past

Based on the media blitz, you have probably noticed that those wacky X-Men are starring in another movie that opens today.

This next installment looks promising: It’s based on one of the best comic book stories ever, original director Bryan Singer is returning to the franchise, and they’re melding the cast of the original trilogy of movies with the “rebooted” cast from X-Men: First Class.

Word of warning: They tried something similar in the movie Star Trek: Generations and the result wasn’t all that great.

I spent a good twenty years of my life reading X-Men comic books, so you could say that I am a bit of a fan. Earlier this week, I came across a link that attempted to rank all of the various characters who have served as members of the X-Men in the comics throughout the years.

Before I clicked on the link, I was pretty sure who was going to be at both #100 and #1. Sure, it was possible that the creator of the list might do something clever like rank Cyclops as the worst, or he might be a huge fan of someone like Colossus. But barring those scenarios, I was pretty sure who would be ranked as both the best and worst.

Oh, Wolverine is your favorite? No kidding! (Image source)

Oh, Wolverine is your favorite? No kidding! (Image source)

The top spot is obvious, and in a way, I’m a little annoyed at how popular Wolverine has become. I liked Wolverine before he became EVERYONE’S favorite. Maybe I only liked him because we’re approximately the same height (Or at least the comics version of him. Hugh Jackman is inappropriately tall for the role) and he has metal claws coming out of his hand, but still, I liked him first!

I feel sort of like a fan of an indy band that made it big. Sure, it’s kinda cool to see your favorites blow up and become successful, but you also hate to share them with the world. I suppose I owe the longtime fans of The Black Keys an apology since I didn’t really get into the band until last year and now they’re one of my favorites.

I bet most of those nouveau Wolverine fans couldn’t name the guy who was at #100 on that list.

The late 90′s X-Men comics were often strange to read. The X-Men had become more popular due to the cartoon series, and it seemed the writers were often stuck trying to appeal to both long-time fans of the comic and the newer fans from the cartoon. (This problem has grown worse since the movies brought the X-Men fully into the mainstream.)

There were frequent changes in creative direction. The team would be re-shaped quite often and without warning, new characters were introduced, and older characters were either written off, or the writers just stopped including them in stories and hoped people wouldn’t notice.

This meant that a steady supply of new characters would have to be provided. It is understandable that the writers wanted to come up with a character with powers that nobody had ever seen before. I mean, how times can they give someone super strength or the ability to fly?

When they created Maggott, they certainly succeeded in coming up with a unique set of super powers. But as it turns out, there was a reason why nobody had given a character this particular power set.

Confession: I may be a huge X-Men fan and may have some very strange information committed to memory. But even my brain decided that it could only store so much information about a mostly obscure comic book character from the 90′s. So I had to look up some of this information.

Maggott’s mutant power is that his digestive system is composed of two living “slugs” that bore their way out of his body, consume matter, and then re-enter his body, providing him with super strength and blue skin. (Feel free to re-read that sentence a few times.)

Not surprisingly, he didn’t stick around for very long. After just a few issues with the team, one of the X-Men told Maggott that he might be a better fit with the X-Men’s junior team called Generation X. (Seems like a nice way of telling him that they didn’t really want him around.) After one issue with Gen X, I believe they also kindly asked him to take his talents elsewhere. And just like that, Maggott disappeared.

These days, there are about 3,000 X-Men spin-off titles. (By my count, about 75% of these star Wolverine.) Occasionally, the only difference between them is that they put a different adjective in front of the team’s name. (New X-Men! Astonishing X-Men! Mostly Mundane But Sporadically Interesting X-Men!)

One of the satellite titles was called Weapon X, and because it didn’t star Wolverine, it didn’t last all that long. (No wait, towards the end, they also brought in Wolverine) Realizing that the book was not long for this world, the writers began to introduce all sorts of strange concepts. And if you want to try out strange concepts, it might not be a bad idea to use the former X-Man with the strangest powers of all.

Maggott - in his non-blue form (Image source)

Maggott – in his non-blue form (Image source)

One of Weapon X’s storylines involved sending mutants to a concentration camp. To show the high stakes involved, they decided to kill off a character. They wisely chose a character who was recognizable to readers (Even though nobody liked him, it’s hard to forget Maggott) but also disposable. (There wasn’t exactly a huge clamoring for his return among the fans.) According to the storyline, Maggott was marked for execution because his powers weren’t deemed useful. (You don’t say?)

Since this is the comic book world, death means almost nothing, but unless a writer really has a kick for “offbeat” characters, Maggott may stay dead. He’s since shown up as a member of an army of zombies, but he has yet to officially come back to life and rejoin the X-Men. (I’m not exactly holding my breath)

All things considered, it’s hard to dispute Maggott’s ranking on that list. And even though this new movie has introduced a bunch of new X-Men from the comics, I somehow doubt that Maggott is going to be included.

But who knows? Fox is going to try to make as many X-Men movies as they can in the coming years, and you can only run Wolverine out there so many times before audiences get sick of him.

Maybe they’ll decide that they need to focus on some new characters; characters who the American public hasn’t been overexposed to. Maybe they’ll decide that the way to freshen up the series is by introducing a blue-skinned guy whose digestive system consists of two sentient slugs.

I can see it now! X-Men Origins: Maggott – Coming soon to a theatre near you! Summer 2018!

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Blogger’s Analysis of the 1989 Cleveland Indians as Depicted in Major League – Part Three

In honor the 25th anniversary of the movie Major League, I am attempting to chronicle the events of the movie from the perspective of a sports blogger.

For past installments: Part OnePart Two

Leading off for your Cleveland Indians…

wesley-snipes-majorleague-1The Cleveland Indians will play their season opener tomorrow, and their leadoff hitter will be Willie “Mays” Hayes. While I’ll be the first to admit that he’s got a pretty cool nickname, I’m not quite convinced that he’s going to be a solid option at the top of the order.

The traditional job of a leadoff hitter is to get on base and score runs. Often times, a team uses its fastest player in this role, because generally, the faster a man can run, the easier it is for him to get around the bases.

Hayes certainly has the necessary speed for the job. From what we saw in exhibition games, Hayes is easily the fastest player on the team, and I’d be willing to bet that he’d be able to hang with just about any other player in the league.

Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, “You can’t steal first base.” Hayes’ speed isn’t going to do him much good if he can’t get on base, and he didn’t get on base nearly enough in Spring Training games.

It seems that Hayes isn’t content just being a speedster; he also wants to hit some home runs. Unfortunately, based on all the pop ups he hit in spring games, he can barely get the ball out of the infield on the fly, let alone over the fence.

Manager Lou Brown has seemingly been trying his best to make Hayes understand that you can’t beat out a pop up, and the more Hayes hits the ball on the ground, the better his chance of reaching base.

tumblr_l8iiepYCzf1qamvdlo1_500

Hayes was ordered to do push ups every time he popped up

Remember when Hayes hit a pop up and dropped to the ground to do push ups? Many of us laughed at it, while others denounced Hayes as an attention seeker. But it seems that he isn’t egotistical as much as flighty. During batting practice, Brown forced Hayes to do push ups every time he popped up. Apparently, Hayes didn’t realize that the practice shouldn’t continue during actual games.

By the way, this is an example of why people shouldn’t feel too bad for Brown. Yes, this may very well be his only shot at managing a major league team, and yes, he’s been given a team that doesn’t appear to have much (any?) chance at success. But with low expectations comes freedom. The Indians are full of players who are so desperate to make the team that they’ll jump through hoops – or in this case do push ups on demand.

WMH

Hayes and Brown have a confrontation during a team practice

If Hayes is fortunate enough to remain in the league for a few seasons, you think he’ll be quite so willing to do those extra push ups in a couple of years?

For now, the hope is that the message gets through to Hayes and he becomes a slap hitting machine who is a menace on the base paths. Of course, it seems just as likely that he doesn’t figure it out, and he’ll be just another lousy player on a team that seems to be full of them.

We’ll get our first indication of which way he’ll go tomorrow.

Posted in Pop Culture, Sports | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fixing the Computer

When the phone rings and I see my parents’ names pop up on the caller ID, I feel a slight sense of dread. It’s not that I don’t enjoy talking to my parents on the phone. I’m just worried that I’m going to hear my father say these words:

“The computer isn’t working right.”

While my father isn’t completely unfamiliar with technology, he isn’t exactly on the cutting edge either. He knows just enough to be able to break the computer, but not enough to fix any problems that may arise. So whenever his computer isn’t functioning exactly the way he expects, he calls his more technologically inclined son.

I’ve learned that “not working right” can mean many different things. Some past examples of “not working right” include: The display is too small, the mouse isn’t clicking fast enough, Internet Explorer is slow to open, or the printer isn’t printing dark enough.

Thanks to the invention of screen sharing software like join.me, I am now able to start an online session where I can view my father’s computer screen and even take control of it if necessary.

On one hand, this has made it easier for me to help him. Nothing is quite so frustrating as blindly trying to talk him through a fix while receiving vague descriptions about what is happening on his end.

“There’s a box that says something.”

“What does it say?”

“Wait, it went away. Or no, I can’t see it because that thing’s in the way.”

“What thing?”

“You know, that gray thing.”

Of course, now that he knows I can do this, it’s tough for me to claim that there’s nothing I can do to help. And I’ve found that at times, getting the screen share running can be more difficult than fixing the actual problem.

Recently, my father came to the conclusion that he needed a new computer, partially due to some bad decision-making on my part a few years ago.

Maybe it wasn't quite this old...but it was close. (Image source)

Maybe it wasn’t quite this old…but it was close. (Image source)

In the summer of 2011, my father was complaining that his Dell desktop was running slowly. This wasn’t surprising as it had been purchased in 2005. Despite my father’s insistence that it “wasn’t that old,” I managed to convince him that it might be time to purchase a new one.

The mistake I made was advising him to buy a laptop. I thought that my parents would enjoy the portability it provided. I was wrong.

My mother – about as technologically challenged as they come – was the one who seemed more enamored with the idea of a laptop, but I’ve learned that you shouldn’t count on her to ever use a piece of technology. Once she encounters any problems, she usually just gives up. The laptop they purchased had some issues – most notably with connecting to the printer - so it wasn’t long before she stopped using it.

My father remains convinced that laptops are inferior PCs. He preferred the desktop despite his constant claims that it was too slow. So the laptop went mostly unused while the old Dell soldiered on.

Finally, Microsoft accomplished what I was unable to when they ended support for Windows XP. (Despite that being the only version of Windows that people actually liked.) I informed my parents that they wouldn’t be able to effectively use the desktop anymore, and would have to switch to the laptop full-time.

“But aren’t laptops slow? And I don’t want to use the smaller keyboard and screen.”

Lesson learned: Do not force technology upon your parents.

I connected the laptop to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse so that the environment would be as similar as possible to the old setup. And yet, I still heard complaints that “there were too many wires hanging down,” and it still wasn’t printing correctly.

Unhappy with the laptop, my father decided that he wanted to buy a new desktop. Mrs. Cutter began to suggest that they get an “all-in-one” model, but I told her that if she pushed for that, then she could handle all the inevitable problems that came with it. No, they would be getting a simple desktop, and they would (hopefully) like it.

My father found a couple of computers on sale and asked my opinion of them. They seemed like fine machines, except for one problem: They were running Windows 8.1.

I don't see how this could possibly go wrong. (Image source)

I don’t see how this could possibly go wrong. (Image source)

Windows 8.1 has gotten mixed reviews. While it may work well with touchscreen computers, desktop users haven’t been that pleased. Knowing my father’s resistance to change in his computer operation, I shuddered to think of the problems he might have. I told him that we’d both likely be much happier if he got a Windows 7 model.

As it turns out, most retailers aren’t carrying Windows 7 models in their stores. Apparently, Microsoft is aware of the complaints that users have had, and their response has been to push retailers to only sell computers with 8.1. When I went up to visit this past weekend, we were unable to find an acceptable model in any of the stores.

My father decided to wait until the next time I come for a visit, and he’ll order it online ahead of time. Or at least that’s the plan.

In the meantime, I tried to get the laptop working as efficiently as possible. As part of this process, I ran a registry cleaner. To my horror, I discovered that once the registry cleaner was finished, Internet Explorer was no longer working. It wouldn’t load any sites and only displayed a blank page.

Oops.

This didn’t seem like a major problem since the registry cleaner included a rollback function…which didn’t work.

No big deal, right? I’d just do a system restore back to earlier that day when I had run a few Windows updates; Only that didn’t work either.

We were well beyond “oops” at this point.

I couldn’t leave the computer as is, but I was running out of ideas. I eventually determined that an IE add-on wasn’t running properly. I disabled all add-ons, downloaded Firefox, and was then able to uninstall and re-install Internet Explorer.

Ah, good old Internet Explorer!

That solved the problem, but I didn’t have enough time to double-check everything, and I’m fairly sure that some other problem will arise because of it. On the bright side, I left detailed instructions on how to manually connect the printer to the laptop so they could use the printer again.

Hooray for small victories!

Now that he’s had time to think about it further, my father seems to be reconsidering Windows 8.1. He’s worried that they’ll stop supporting Windows 7 (despite my reassurances that by the time that happens, he’ll likely need a new machine anyway), and that it will likely become harder and harder to find them on sale. (This concern is legitimate.)

Sigh…There’s a very good chance that further “service” calls are in my future.

Posted in Randomness | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments