Thursday, August 23, 2012

Addendum on Thinking

Someone recently pointed out to me that the admission in my previous post that I think too much about food and drink should not be limited to those categories, but should include just about everything, as in, "You overthink everything."  So, after thinking about that (yes, irony noted), I asked myself, at what point do you think too much about something?

First, I'll say that most people don't spend enough time thinking.  If they did even a little more of it, especially before opening their mouths, life would sure be different.

Beyond that, my conclusion is that the only time you think too much is at the point where it prevents action.  Whatever you want to achieve, if you spend time thinking about it, but don't actually do it, there's a problem.  Which is why I'm keeping this blog entry short, to go and write today's script pages.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bean Me

In a break from the political snark I post on Facebook, and the writing on films, let's talk chow.

I spend way too much time thinking about food and drink.  As my father always says, "it's the one indulgence that's also a necessity, so you may as well enjoy it."  That sentence can be used to justify a multitude of sins, but I'll save that for a post somewhere down the road where I'm feeling a need for contrition.  This morning, let's just chat about coffee.

Many people have written about this brew over the years and taken both high and low opinions of it.  I've gone through long periods of not drinking it, only to return as if to an old friend with open arms, or mouth, as it were.  As I vaguely remember, there's a chapter on coffee and the rise of coffee houses in Tastes of Paradise, that covers both the social and economic implications of coffee.  Partially, coffee was a reaction against alcohol with the added benefit of being a stimulant that coincided with a rise in worker productivity and work ethic.

I personally see no need to even consider the either/or coffee/alcohol debate.  Both are beverages that are a part of my daily life and I take them both seriously.  Caveat: by seriously, I don't mean I'm a snob about it, I just spend my time thinking about it and, when the opportunity presents itself, I make my coffee in a variety of ways.  The only bad coffee for me is coffee that's too weak.

It may seem excessive, but right now, I have three choices in my house every morning.  There's the standard drip coffee maker, which has the advantage of having a timer, so bleary mornings don't require  even basic culinary skills.  I'm fueling that with a bag of coffee brought back directly from Panama by a friend for us.  It has a nutty, sweet flavor.  Then, there's the big pitcher of cold-brewed iced coffe base (see sidebar for simple instructions) which I cold brew every week from Cafe Du Monde's coffee/chicory blend.  This is for those really hot, sweaty mornings.  Finally, there's my French Press, which is proof positive that the simplest methods often provide the best results.  In the press I'm brewing locally roasted beans in a light/dark mix from Burlap & Bean.

I am not a coffee expert, and I don't spend a lot of time tasting different varieties.  But I do like a strong cup of joe to get me going in the morning.  In the see-saw of medical advice, the pendulum has swung back in coffee's favor.  Even popular entertainment recognizes the import of coffee: Jerry and Larry debate coffee v. tea in this episode of Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  Who am I to argue with those guys?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer Ennui - Armchair Sportsman

It wasn't so long ago that I used to write about baseball pretty often, or at least make facebook and twitter posts about it.  This foul season (pun fully intended) I've had plenty of time off because I have been able to disengage.  My hometown Phillies just haven't been the reliable sideshow they have in years past; this time around, they're the train wreck you CAN look away from.

Their fall from grace, from the commanding top position in their division to one of the worst records in major league baseball hasn't even been interesting.  Their lackluster playing makes it seem like just another day at work for them.  They can't even flame out spectacularly.  But for some strange reason, the front office thinks there's still a championship team there.  The evidence was in the Tuesday trades - getting rid of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, seemingly at a loss, while holding onto players who are clearly underperforming and who represent clear weaknesses.  For instance--

Ryan Howard.  It's time for Reuban Amaro and everyone else in the organization to just admit that Howard's career as a daily player in the National League is over.  Send him to the AL where he can serve out his time as a DH and be done with him.  His career has been in decline since he signed his multi-year deal and since his injury, he simply can't move at major league levels.

Roy Halliday.  The great pitcher is in decline.  His ERA is bad this year and his mental grip seems to be shaky at best.  Get rid of him while he's still worth something.

Chase Utley.  I understand he and Howard were key elements in the 2008 season, but that season is long gone, as are his knees.  You're either creating a championship team or you're trying to jerry-rig a championship team from the past.  Only one of those options leads to new championships.

Charlie Manuel.  He may be a great hitting coach, but it's not showing in the offense.  He may be a great manager, but they're not winning games.  The blame can't all be found in the outfield.  Manuel needs to retire gracefully, before it's clear to everyone that his taciturn press conferences aren't revealing homespun wisdom but a detachment from reality.

The flip side to clearing space is developing new talent.  That, of course, implies there's new talent to develop, or that your scouts and minor league managers are able to spot it.  The solution is not to spend more time on guys like Dominic Brown, who have already had more than one shot at the show and been unable to cut it.

I'm going to miss Shane Victorino, who was a bit of heart and soul on the field.  He always brought his A-game, and he always had a smile while doing it.  He may be the only guy to be happy playing.  He was certainly more happy than I've been watching.