29 December 2008

New Year's Readership Drive Promotion

I really am so self-absorbed that it's bugging me to only have two subscribed readers.  I am hereby offering a free gift (entirely of my own choosing) to anyone who subscribes to this blog by the end of the calendar year 2008.  Hey, those scientists gave you an extra second, so you have more than enough time to get in on the action.  Just subscribe to this blog and post feedback to at leats one post by 11:59:59 PM 31 December 2008; it's that easy!

24 December 2008

The Boss Coming to Guitar Hero World Tour...Free!

So not only is Bruce Springsteen riding a wave of Obamamania and performing the half-time show at the forthcoming Super Bowl, he's also coming to Guitar Hero World Tour...for free!  In late January or early February, Activision is reported to be making available two tracks: "My Lucky Day" from the soon-to-be-released album Working on a Dream, and  "Born to Run."  But don't take my word for it; you can click here to read what I read.

I Think Mom Is Santa

The following video clip was posted to my wall on We Are Crohns by an online friend.  It's so wrong, yet so funny I had to share it.  Merry Christmas!




19 December 2008

Another Study, Another Day Closer.... Maybe.

This blog was originally published in Travis McClain's Journal - Patient on We Are Crohns on 19 December 2008.

One of the nice features of Google is being able to sign up for instant alerts to any and all news articles that contain key words.  I, for instance, have signed up to be informed the moment anything is published containing the word "Crohn's."  Frequently, I get local news articles about a citizen functioning with the diagnosis (or occasionally dying from it).  I am also alerted any time a new study is published, which also happens with a higher instance of regularity than I would have suspected.  Today is no exception, and I thought this important enough to share.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208203928.htm

 

"Researchers at the University of Edinburgh believe a chemical messenger that is essential for developing a baby's gut in the womb could hold the key to new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition which affects 1 in 250 people in the UK." That's the introductory paragraph, and you can read the rest of it by clicking the above link.  For those who aren't interested in reading the entire thing, there's a defective gene we appear to have that fails to help colon cells communicate so they know what they're supposed to do.  The scientists behind the study are working to see if they can counter this failure.

 

This year alone, I've seen studies that linked our condition with dairy enzymes, an absence of a particular bacterium, a lack of healthy exposure to germs in our formative years and being left-handed.  Seriously; lefties are statistically more likely to be Crohnies, though this is not presumed to be a causal relationship.  Is there an underlying relationship amongst these studies, something that is closer to being revealed?  Have they all been colossal wastes of time?  The truth is likelier something between.  Who knows how long we'll have to wait before it's revealed?

15 December 2008

2008 in Entertainment

It's December and this is a blog, ergo I am required by the Year-End List Act of 2001 to post a blog about the better works of entertainment of the year.  Bear in mind, of course, that I have a fairly limited interest in (and therefore, exposure to) these things.  You will likely find none of my favorites in your list, but maybe they're things to check out.  As always, feedback of any kind is welcomed--including disputes.

Music - Albums
The two albums of the year I couldn't stop playing were Shelby Lynne's Just a Little Lovin' and George Strait's Troubadour.  Hayes Carll's Lost Highway debut, Trouble in Mind, is a rare breath of fresh air (and destined to be ignored by mainstream country).  In the interests of full disclosure, I am a member of the Lost Highway street team, so they send me their albums free.

Music - Songs
Thanks to iTunes and Borders giving away .mp3s every week, I've actually heard a lot more stuff this year than I ordinarily would have heard, left to my own devices.  This is my Favorite Cuts of 2008 Playlist, arranged in no particular order:
  • "Another Way to Die" - Jack White & Alicia Keys (didn't like at first, but it's addictive)
  • "Love Song" - Sara Bareilles (so catchy!)
  • "Cheater, Cheater" - Joey + Rory ("Where'd you meet that no good white trash ho?" That's great writing!)
  • "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven" - George Strait (sorry, Chesney)
  • "Little Toy Gun" - Honeyhoney (goofy, yet fun; very fresh)
  • "Johnny and June" - Heidi Newfield (walks the line--pun intended--between crass cash-in--pun also intended--and nice tribute)
  • "I Only Want to Be with You" - Shelby Lynne (it wasn't easy picking just one cut from that album)
  • "Honey Bee" - Lucinda Williams (right, like we don't know what she means by 'hav[ing] your sweetness all up in [her] hair")
  • "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" - Bruce Springsteen (sorry, Kid Rock, but this was the best summer anthem of the year)
  • "Outlaw S***" - Waylon Jennings ("Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand" reworked as a wistful ballad?  Crazy, I say!)
  • "She Left Me for Jesus" - Hayes Carll (so wrong, yet so fun)
  • "Merry Christmas Baby" - Elvis Presley & Gretchen Wilson (see earlier blog entry on the Christmas Duets album)
Movies
Batman and James Bond both returned in style, and The Dark Knight and Quantum of Solace were both great.  Ben Stiller nailed it with his surprising Tropic Thunder, and Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott and Christopher Mintz-Plasse made Role Models far funnier than it had any business being.  Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of the most awkward comedies I've seen in a while, but great (though perhaps too much full frontal male nudity for my taste).

Television
Most of my TV viewing this year was Major League Baseball.  Burn Notice continued to be the one show I don't want to miss (I'm already counting down until it returns 22 January!).  Psych continued to be an amusing distraction, more absorbing than it really ought to be.  Moving to USA really helped Law & Order: Criminal Intent, though I'm sorry to see Chris Noth depart.  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report are still the only things on Comedy Central I like at all.  On [adult swim], I continue to enjoy Family Guy, Boondocks, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Robot Chicken and (God help me) Moral Orel.  Unable to travel, I snuck away vicariously with Samantha Brown's Passport to Great Weekends.  I've also returned to (and gotten my wife into) The Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  I used to switch over to Conan, but Ferguson is the one guy my wife gets into, and I've come to really enjoy his show.

Video Games
I spent most of the year working through the three LEGO games for the Wii (LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Adventures, LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Trilogy and LEGO Batman: The Videogame), but the single most addictive experience of my video gaming life has to be Mario Kart Wii.  All you need is a Wii with wi-fi and that game.  You never need to own any other game or console.

Podcasts
Having been hospitalized twice this year with bowel obstructions, I make sure to stay abreast the latest research with Health Talk: Crohn's Disease.  We also got fully into B.J. Harrison's excellent The Classic Tales Podcast, escaping to classic literature via the iPod at night before going to bed.  I still find The Midwest Teen Sex Show entertaining (though, at thirty, I haven't learned anything from it), and I have really come to enjoy and respect Johnny Cash Radio, a weekly hour long show.  I also followed the 2008 Presidential election through podcasts of the debates, campaigns and now through the weekly updates via Videos from the President-Elect.

Internet
Google Chrome became my default browser, and I switched all my stuff over to Gmail.  I have found a lot of great deals on DVD's (far more than I could afford to keep up with) via the forum on DVD Talk.  I have found a wonderful support system on We Are Crohns, as well.  Thanks to Amazon, I didn't even have to go out on Black Friday to get a great deal on Psych: The Complete Second Season.  And, of course, I've started this very blog right here on Blogger.

Books
I read more this year than I ever have (excepting, of course, required reading for class), though virtually none of what I read was published this year.  In fact, the only book I can think of offhand that was a 2008 publication was Cinescopes.  I really stepped up my use of the Oldham County Public Library (and can't wait until the new branch opens in January), and I became engrossed with Half Price Books.  Those places rock!

07 December 2008

Riverfront Memories

When I was younger, I was taken to just a few baseball games in Cincinnati to watch my Reds.  I can confirm three of those occasions were games against the Atlanta Braves, because they were my dad's and brother's favorite team (which is why we went to two of them). The third game against the Braves was pure happenstance, but more on that in a moment. There were, of course, souvenirs from those games. I have in my possession today the Khan's sponsored team baseball card sets that were given away in 1988 and 1989. I would have a poster commemorating Tom Browning's perfect game (16 September 1988 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers) except that it rained the day that was given away and the poster was in rough shape before we even got out of the ballpark.

Armed with this knowledge (and nothing better to do), earlier yesterday I collaborated with a buddy of mine to research what dates those games were actually played. See, one of those games happens to have been a highlight of my entire thirty years on this planet. I won tickets via an Arby's/Fox promotion to a Reds/Braves game in 1989. It was perfect; all we had to do was meet the group at Mall St. Matthews and hop on one of two buses which would take us all to Cincy. The visiting team was my brother's favorite team, so everyone was happy. Until the morning of the game, and my mother was miserably sick with a severe migraine, something digestive and possibly Ebola.

To her credit (and to this day I not only don't know how she did it, but she won't let me forget it), she managed to endure the bus ride to and fro, and the intervening game itself. For this alone I would be indebted to her beyond reason, but it doesn't end there. On the ride up there, they passed around Arby's roast beef sandwiches and RC Cola (a combination I love to this day), and somewhere between Louisville and Cincinnati, the organizer of the promotion saw how jacked up I was about the game. He asked if I would like to go down on the field before the game.

Asking me that made it impossible for me to even think, much less speak. I think my smile might have actually begun to consume the rest of my face at that point, but whether I could say anything didn't seem to matter; he understood that I was communicating an acceptance of his offer. That day was Khan's team baseball card set giveaway day. I know, because I'll never forget rushing through the turnstile, handing my set to my mom and dashing into the souvenir stand to buy a baseball to take with me to get signed. Again, demonstrating valor above and beyond the call of duty, mom had the foresight to go back later and buy a ball holder.

I was escorted through the clubhouse and down onto the Astroturf during batting practice. In those days, the home team wasn't afraid to hit in front of the fans, and I got to watch Todd Benzinger hit. He trotted off before I could snag his John Hancock, but I did manage to get Dave Collins, Chris Sabo and Eric "the Red" Davis to sign my ball. There are three or four pictures that were taken by a photographer of this, and one of them quite clearly shows Eric Davis signing my baseball. We were then invited to tour the dugout, where we met the man himself, Peter Edward Rose.

Contrary to whatever stories I've ever heard about Charlie Hustle, the man could not have been more gracious and welcoming to us kids. I was surprised, even at the age of 10, that he was so willing to take time out to chat with us about being Reds fans when it seemed like he would have more pressing issues on his mind just before a game. His signature cemented the ball's place in my heart, and it is one of my three prized possessions to this day.

Shortly after this once-in-a-lifetime encounter, Rose accepted his lifetime ban from Major League Baseball, and I only bring this up because it was helpful in establishing the chronology of events as we worked to pin down the exact dates of these three games. His banishment went into effect on 24 August 1989, and I knew that the game I met him took place on a Sunday. There was only one Sunday game in Cincinnati with the Braves in town prior to that date, and that was 6 August. I was greatly disappointed to know that the Reds will not be playing at all on that date in 2009; I had rather hoped to celebrate the 20th anniversary by trekking up I-71 for another game.

That seemed rather early in the year to me for a baseball card team set giveaway, but then things have changed over two decades. Working backward, there was only one series against the Braves shortly after Browning's aforementioned perfect game. I know there was rain, so that eliminated the dry Friday and Sunday games; ergo, I was at the 1 October 1988 game. Eric Davis's 21st home run of the season powered the Redlegs to a 3-2 victory.

Since I didn't get the 1988 card set and the Browning poster in the same series (one was with mom, the other with dad), the only other series I could have attended in 1988 was in August. That also checks out with the card set in '89 having been given away in August. Again, being a Sunday game, I was able to determine that I was there on 14 August. Jose Rijo started that game, but got a no-decision in a 2-0 shutout.

Now, here's where things go south. I have a clear impression of watching Hal Morris hit a rare home run in the last game I saw as a kid in Cincinnati. I can close my eyes right now and see it hovering, then climbing up into the right field seats...the universal applause, punctuated by fireworks...it's right there in front of me. The problem is, Hal wasn't a Red until 1990. He only hit seven home runs that year, four of them on the road. I know I didn't go back to a game until 2000, so there are only three at-bats I could possibly have witnessed in 1990. Here they are:

5 August 1990 vs San Diego Padres - H Morris (4, off C Schiraldi; 4th inn, 1 on, 0 outs to Deep RF Line).
11 August 1990 vs San Francisco Giants - H Morris (5, off J Burkett; 2nd inn, 0 on, 1 out to Deep RF)
12 August 1990 vs San Francisco Giants - H Morris (6, off S Garrelts; 3rd inn, 0 on, 1 out to RF)

Now, here's the thing. I remember mom took us up to Cincinnati for an overnight stay one weekend. We saw a Reds game one night, and planned to go to Kings Island the next day. The next day, though, it rained all day long so we stayed at the hotel and swam. They had an indoor/outdoor pool, where it extended beyond the building, and you could actually swim right under part of the hotel itself.

So, I checked the schedule. The fifth and twelfth of August were Sundays. The reported conditions for the twelfth were dry with no precipitation, so I could not have attended the game on the eleventh.  The conditions were likewise dry on the thirteenth, which means I could not have attended the game on the twelfth, either. That leaves the 5 August game, and there was no game played the next day (a Monday), so I don't know if it rained in Cincinnati that day. The timing does, however make sense as our family's shop was closed on Sundays and Mondays, and this would have been the last chance to get away and do something before the school year started.

Looking at the game recap, I see that Eric Davis doubled, Paul O'Neill was caught stealing and Billy Hatcher homered in the seventh. It seems to me that someone else did homer later, and I kind of recall being disappointed that my favorite players failed to be more productive (they being Davis and O'Neill). So, until and unless someone can refute that I attended this game, it's going down in my log that I was in Cincinnati on 5 August 1990 to see Hal Morris hit his fourth home run of the year.