Saturday, May 3, 2008

Smorgasbord Saturday

It is official, Julio Franco has retired. After a successful and honorable 23-year career in Major League Baseball, he is calling it quits at the age of forty-nine (he'll be fifty in August). Franco wasn't picked up by any major league team this season and went to Mexico to play in their professional league. His decision to retire was announced first to his Mexican league team.

I grew up watching Julio Franco play. Julio played in the big leagues for longer than I've been alive. He may not have held a roster spot all those years for his bat, overall .298 average, 173 homers, 2,586 career hits, but secured roster slots with the Phillies, Rangers, Devil Rays, Brewers, Indians, Mets, Braves, and White Sox because of his leadership in the clubhouse. For me Franco hasn't just been a phenomenal player to watch, I clearly remember watching him come into the game to pinch run for Carlos Delgado at the age of forty-seven and remember him starting at third base against the Marlins, he has been a reminder of everything that is good about baseball.

In my favorite Newsweek section "A Life In Books" this week, Errol Morris, the Oscar-winning Errol Morris, was picked to give his five most influential movies (guess they've run out of people to ask about books). Usually the people give their five most influential movies or books, but Mr. Morris caught me completely off guard. I think of Errol Morris as this very serious filmmaker and you want to know what one of his movies was? Billy Madison. I kid you not. I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair and then immediately called my little brother to tell him that even the serious, nerd-types can be cool!

Speaking of the kid brother, he got his driving permit yesterday. He has to drive with an adult (over 21) for six months and then can drive on his own. I've become a new necessity in his life--after he got done asking if I was an adult or not! He'll turn sixteen before his six months are up so he gets to bypass the whole period of not being able to drive at night. He's very excited about this, why I may never understand. I had to wait an entire year after getting my license before I could drive at night and if I still had that restriction I wouldn't be very sad about it. I hate driving at night. Insane that the kid can drive. In my head he's still an adorable seven year old. Where did the time go?

I have to admit when the news broke about Miley Cyrus appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair wearing nothing but a bed sheet I didn't know who Miley Cyrus was. Somebody had to connect the Billy Ray Cyrus, Hannah Montana dots for me. First of all, what should we be expecting from a photograph by the famous (perhaps infamous) Annie Leibowitz? The fact that Miss Cyrus is only fifteen shouldn't leave us with any expectations of limits Leibowitz might recognize. Frankly, I don't care what Miley Cyrus wears when being photographed for Vanity Fair because I know that she has sold herself, she is no longer just a talented fifteen year old with a semi-famous father, she is a franchise. And Disney is out of their mind for objecting to her photo shoot and throwing a fit about the signal it sends to her younger viewers. They did this to her just as much as her father did.

The reason I bring this up has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus and has everything to do with Vanity Fair. It's a damn shame that their June issue will be forever associated with this barely-dressed teen, when there is a fabulous article by the ever amazing Thurston Clarke about Bobby Kennedy inside its controversial pages. With the 40th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's assassination about a month away, I can think of no other person, save Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. himself, more worthy of reading right now than Thurston Clarke. You can read an excerpt of his article here. Too bad as a country we're too busy worrying about Miley Cyrus to realize how important this anniversary is.

Andrew Carroll of the Washington Post had an interesting, though not entirely surprising, article about how we should be spending our economic stimulus checks in his column Friday. His opinion on how we spend our checks is much more thought out than mine was, but I'm standing by my assertion that we should be buying books of poetry!

Looking forward to the coming New Music Tuesday? So am I. A little less than I was a few days ago now that I've figured out that the new 3 Doors Down CD isn't being released until May 20th. However, the long-awaited sophomore release of Gavin DeGraw will be on the shelves Tuesday! Not really a New Music Tuesday release, but something being released Tuesday as well is I'm Not There, the Bob Dylan bio-pic. The soundtrack for this movie is fabulous--especially the "All Along the Watchtower" remake by Eddie Vedder and the Million Dollar Bashers.

There was an article in Monday's Washington Post that I wanted to mention, I've decided it deserves it's own post. Until then, happy Saturday!

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