Auto-correct Can Kiss My Add

One of Life’s great annoyances in this advanced electronic age is the auto-correct spelling feature present in our phones. It never seems to get certain things correct, automatically or otherwise. For example, when I type way I get easy and when I type easy I get ready. When I type as, I get add, which is at least close, but when I type better I get beget. That’s kind of close letter-wise, but no one since Moses has used the word beget so I don’t know why the phone automatically includes it as a choice.

The phone seems to have problems with B words in general. When I type, “I am going to breakfast,” the phone spits out “I am going to Bhagat.” Bhagat for those of you who don’t know, and that’s all of us, derives from a Sanskrit word meaning devotee. Again, why is that even a choice? I mean, is the phone thinking, “This guy can’t be talking about bacon and eggs, so let’s automatically assume that he’s making reference to a practitioner of Hindu.”

Often, when I type a, as in, I am going to a public place, I get s or z. What makes the phone think that? There’s only one other single-letter word in the entire English language, so if I hit only one button the phone should give me a or I, not s or z. Someone at Acme Auto Correct should have noticed that an s appeared when he typed a and yelled, “Hey, we need to adjust our programming. Get me the vice-president in charge of vowels!”

Sometimes the phone cops an attitude with me. I might type Chihuahua and it will put down circus, so now the person to whom I am texting thinks that there’s a lost circus in our neighborhood. When I go back and carefully type each letter of Chihuahua correctly, it still puts down circus. Then I realize that I haven’t hit the little check box to tell the phone that yes, this is really the word I meant. It stares at me in a condescendingly blank way and I know it’s thinking that I don’t know what I’m talking about until reluctantly, it spits out Chihuahua. It’s not a Smart Phone, it’s a Smarmy Phone.

Once I texted the phrase final shot, but the phone got all sophomoric on me and changed the vowel in shot. You would think it would auto-correct that, but no, the phone just giggled instead.

Let’s face it, our phones only half listen to us, anyway. I just randomly ran my fingers over the text keyboard and out came Both she only age Muncie. I wasn’t even typing any words, but it repeated what it thought I said. It must have been watching a ballgame on its little internal screen and was only half-listening.

Now, granted, I could hit the microphone icon and speak into the texting app, which would then translate my words into print and send them along, but this I refuse to do on principle. That’s just a phone conversation with a middle man. Many of you remember those decidedly immobile, five pound, rotary-faced, telephones that didn’t do much except connect you directly to another person. Looking back, I’m grateful for one thing in particular that those old phones didn’t do: Raise my blood pressure.

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Randolph Scott’s Hat

As I have written before, movies can be unintentionally funny if the writing is poor. Once that occurs, I just can’t take a film seriously. Sloppy scripting is by no means a modern phenomenon, either.

I recently watched A Lawless Street, a 1955 Western starring Randolph Scott, one of the great cowboy actors of all-time, and Angela Lansbury, who’s no slouch of an actress herself. Despite this top-notch acting talent, I was completely distracted during a scene in which Randolph Scott walks into a saloon, the Hired Gun gets the drop on him, and then shoots our hero. The bullet, however, has only grazed him across the top of his head, knocking him unconscious. The sympathetic town doctor pronounces him dead in order to fool the Hired Gun and the Bad Guy who hired him. Doc takes Randolph Scott to the jail where he nurses him back to health. In one day. Why no one in town questions storing a corpse in the jail instead of burying it is beside the point. More miraculous than Randolph Scott’s healing powers are the properties of the man’s hat.

Again, the bullet grazed him across the top of his head, but the next day, he donned his white hat (yes, it really was a white hat) to which there was not only no damage, there wasn’t even a speck of blood on it. If the bullet was low enough to miss the hat altogether, then I suggest that Randolph Scott’s thinking parts would have been pretty well-ventilated, at which point the color and condition of his hat would not be an issue, at least not to him.

If the bullet were high enough to merely part his hair, then the hat should have suffered some consequences. As should have the writers. You would think that someone on set would have said, “Hey, let’s throw some fake blood on the hat.” (Then someone else could have yelled, “Hey! I can’t believe we’re getting paid for this!”) I guess that was too difficult, but for the rest of the movie, I didn’t care if Angela Lansbury stayed true to Randolph Scott (she did) or whether the Hired Gun would get what was coming to him (he did) or if corruption would be expelled from Medicine Bend (it was). I only cared about the hat. A perfect ending to this movie would have been to have the hat ride off into the sunset by itself, but the writers stuck with a more traditional ending, which is strange to me because they certainly didn’t stick to a traditional hat.

Shortly after watching this Western, I watched a 1962 “thriller” entitled, Homicidal, which was a William Castle production and which, Time magazine liked better than Psycho. Homicidal was famous for containing a “fright break” right before the movie’s climax. A clock actually appeared on the screen and people were told they could leave if they didn’t think they could handle the scary ending. Castle offered them their money back, too, but that’s a different story, which you can read about here. This was a clever idea, but my favorite part of the movie is when the main character looks out the window and says, “Miriam Webster is here!” My first thought was that there was a dictionary walking up the driveway, and all during the rest of the picture I wondered if the writers were amusing themselves with this name or if they subconsciously got it from the unused Merriam Webster dictionary that was must have been lying around on the desk.

I’m only speculating that the dictionary was unused. The writers certainly never looked up the word plot. Well, maybe they did look up the word plot before they started in on the script. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt on that. I am quite positive, however, that the word coherent was not referenced.

Movies can be riveting. Sometimes, however, they rivet your attention to the wrong stuff.

You can watch the trailer for Homicidal below:


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Wrapping Up the World Series

After going one-for-two in my wild card game picks, and three-for-four in the divisional series predictions, my crystal ball went as cold as the Cubs bats. As you may recall, I had the Cubs beating Toronto to become World Champions. Instead, the Kansas City Royals dispatched the New York Mets last night in five games. A few observations:

  • There was quite a bit of turnaround in the play of the National League teams. Chicago dispatched the Pirates in the wild card game, the Cardinals in the division series, and then were themselves swept by the Mets in the League Championship Series, who in turn went down in five games to the Royals.
  • Daniel Murphy’s error in Game 4 was a tougher play than it looked. Lorenzo Cain ran between Murphy and the ball and the hop looked flatter than what he expected, certainly than what I would have expected.
  • On average, through the post season, Murphy pretty much played to his reputation: decent bat and less than average defense. Of course, he arrived at his average by being really hot, then really cold.
  • It’s too bad that Yeonis Cespedes didn’t foul that ball off his knee in Game 4 instead of Game 5. That way he would have been in too much pain to inexplicably head for second base on a little broken bat liner that everyone at Citi Field saw would be caught. Well, everyone, but Yeonis.
  • The Mets clearly weren’t as good a team although their starting pitching kept them close. Still, they had no margin for error and lost the Series by their inability to add runs in the later innings. Kansas City’s primary relievers pitched 17 innings and surrendered only 2 runs. Only Franklin Morales faltered, giving up four runs in one inning in the Mets’ Game 3 victory.
  • I would have sent Matt Harvey out to start the ninth inning of Game 5. It’s not as if Jeurys Familia was blowing people away in his previous Series contests. In any case, Harvey didn’t lose that game, not scoring more than two runs, lost that game for the Mets. That and the Hail Mary heave from Lucas Duda in his attempt to cut down Eric Hosmer at home. The announcers kept saying a good throw would have had Hosmer. A mediocre throw would have had Hosmer. Almost any throw, but that one would have had Hosmer.
  • Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals.

Fifteen weeks from today, February 15th, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

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Royally Improved

I didn’t think anything could make me root for the Kansas City Royals after they performed their Team Punk act during the postseason last year, especially against the Orioles, but I found myself doing so anyway the moment Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays decided to challenge David Ortiz for the title of Most Self-Absorbed Player in the American League. I didn’t get to see every play of every game of the ALCS, but I have to say that from what I did see, Kansas City acted as if they really HAVE been there before. I could have missed something, but I did not witness any of the mindless yapping or juvenile snarkiness that was exhibited last year. I did notice, however, that after the final out of Game 6, winning pitcher Wade Davis did NOT run over to Jose Bautista, who was in the on-deck circle, and yell, “Flip that, Jose!” while slamming his glove down during an “impromptu” victory dance.

In the National League, I noticed that the Chicago Cubs, my pick to go win the World Series, never even held a lead, not even for one of their 36 innings against the Mets. I also noticed Daniel Murphy (along with the rest of the world) who has impressed me, not just for his home runs, but for his overall approach at the plate. In Game 4, and with the Mets already on top 6-2, he lined a pitch that was up and away into left for an opposite field single. As hot as he was, and given the game situation, he could have been thinking home run; instead, he took what was given. That is being a professional. As a personal aside, I remember Daniel Murphy when he played for the Luray Wranglers back in 2004-2005 in the Valley Baseball League.

Kansas City might very well win the World Series, but it’s hard to pick against the Mets pitching: New York in six games.

Does anyone else out there feel that keeping track of the game-times and what station these games are on is as difficult as trying to interpret when a catcher is illegally blocking the plate? And now the World Series starts . . . I don’t know when, but I’m pretty sure that it will finish before Christmas. Baseball is a game with inherent drama because there is no clock, but Major League Baseball has no clue how to build drama throughout the course of the post season because these series start and stop. (Note: The epic 1955 Game 7 between Brooklyn and New York took place on October 5th.) Baseball needs a College World Series-style tournament.

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Playoff Picture and Summer Pictures

My playoff predictions proved to be more accurate than my regular season predictions. Toronto and Kansas City both won their respective series in five, although the Blue Jays did it the hard way. I will also point out that Ben Zobrist had himself a pretty good series as well. I had thought perhaps the Cubs/Cardinals games would feature some dust ups, but instead that came between the Jays and Texas Rangers. Don’t get me started on Jose Bautista’s bat heave–actually I already started and you can read my response to his epic fit of obnoxiousness here. We now have the two brattiest teams in baseball facing each other.  I’ll still go with Toronto as they seem to be clicking on all cylinders despite the mysterious handling of David Price.

The Cubs took care of business in four games rather than the five I predicted and I still like their chances against the Mets, who took the Dodgers in four. I had picked the Dodgers in four. New York has deep pitching, however, and a very hot player in former Luray Wrangler, Daniel Murphy, so it should be a classic battle. One thing I noticed about the Dodgers after watching this series: They’re not very good. Justin Turner is a very good utility player who appears to extract the most from his talent every day, but if the bearded red-head is your cleanup hitter? You’re not very good.

That’s the playoff picture. As for summer pictures, click on the photo below to take you to the photo album of the trip Al and I took to the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Indiana this summer. There are some great shots in there if I do say so myself and I’d like to see Jose Bautista try to heave this bat!

Midwest Baseball Trip 2015
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2015 MLB Playoff Predictions: Cubs End Curse!

The major league baseball playoffs are truly set, now that Houston and Chicago have joined the field. (For the record, I had the Astros winning 5-3 and the Pirates winning 3-2.) These are some very interesting match ups and no possible World Series permutation would surprise me. That said, I’ll list my predictions along with what would surprise me about each series.

Texas versus Toronto

The Rangers are a dangerous team with veterans Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder playing well and Cole Hamels in the rotation. Common wisdom, however, says that they don’t quite have enough to overtake the Blue Jays and I’d have to agree. Toronto in five. What would surprise me: A Texas sweep.

Houston versus Kansas City

The Astros might very well be this year’s version of last year’s Royals. Though they struggled down the stretch, their victory against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium seemed to revive their spirits and renew their swagger. I’m picking KC in five because of a better relief corps and a more balanced line up, but if Houston can get out to early leads and mitigate the Royals’ pen Kansas City might make an early exit. What would surprise me: If Ben Zobrist plays poorly. Despite the bigger names on Kansas City’s roster, Zobrist, a consummate professional, might end up the series MVP.

New York Mets versus Los Angeles Dodgers

This made for TV match up features two great pitching staffs in two great pitchers’ parks. The Mets’ offense might have peaked in mid-September, not that the Dodgers line up reminds anyone of Murderer’s Row. Furthermore, Mets outfielder Yeonis Cespedes went from trade deadline hero to being booed, and Matt Harvey didn’t win any friends in the stands or in the clubhouse by arriving late to Monday’s workout. The Mets are not in perfect harmony and they’ll need to be to sing a winning song. Los Angeles in four. What would surprise me: If this series is a high-scoring affair.

St. Louis versus Chicago Cubs

I often pick against St. Louis and I am often wrong. I’m still not sure how the Cardinals won 100 games this season, but they did! This appears to be another close series, but those wild card game winners seem to gain confidence by virtue of winning what is arguably the most pressurized game in the entire playoff structure. Cubs in five. What would surprise me: If these long-time and often bitter rivals played a polite, congenial series with no brushbacks and no take out slides. In fact, this series could get a bit ugly.

American League Championship Series: Toronto over Kansas City

National League Championship Series: Chicago over Los Angeles

World Series: Chicago over Toronto. Cubs break 107 year old curse!

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Bat Droppings

I am always curious about language and how certain terms originate and the journey that those terms usually take before coming to mean what they do. I recently heard the term, bats**t crazy [see note below] and it occurred to me, why bats? What is it about their guano that we associate with being not just a little crazy or temporarily insane, but full-blown nuts? As one might expect, there is no precise answer to this question, but it seems to be related to the phrase bats in the belfry which most definitely means a person is off his or her rocker. presents an excellent discussion on bats**t crazy which may have developed its current definition as recently as 2001. Or it may have originated with the Vikings. One contributor suggests that it may have something to do with the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum which is present in bat droppings and produces a “psychotic effect” in anyone infected. I urge you to read this discussion if, like me, you are etymologically curious.

Of course—although perhaps I should say of coarse—our society has this on-going linguistic relationship with the droppings of various barnyard animals. For example, bulls**t generally means that something is wrong or incorrect as in “Professional wrestling is totally unscripted!” to which one would reply “Bulls**t!” (On a historical note, the term did not come into widespread use until World War I.)

Horses**t, is not quite synonymous with its bovine equivalent, as it usually refers to something stupid or annoying, but not necessarily incorrect. For example, you are barely moving through a construction zone on the highway only to find at the end of six tortured and tedious miles that no one is constructing anything; they just left the signs and the cones out overnight. That’s horses**t.

The piles of poop produced by horses are just too large to reference when describing the smaller annoyances in life to which we apply the term, chickens**t. For example, you go to your doctor, the same one you’ve been seeing for 25 years, and you’ve had the same insurance for 25 years, but every year for 25 years, that nasty woman who sits behind the glass and pretends that she’s invisible, asks you to fill out yet another insurance form even though none of the information from the last 25 forms has ever changed. That’s chickens**t.

What I really don’t understand is why pigs**t isn’t a commonly used expression. Maybe because it actually smells so foul that it would send shudders through even the most hardened utterer of profanity.

Language is dynamic and almost as old as human kind. Of course, s**t is as old as human kind and was probably the subject of the first joke, but that’s another essay altogether.

Note: My father, who was the son of a Methodist minister never cursed in his life. (He never smoked nor drank, either; how he survived three years in the United States Navy without picking up at least one of those habits is a bit mind boggling.) In deference to Dad’s memory, and to others who may be offended, I have refrained from spelling out the word in question. After all, everyone can recognize the word from its shadow. You don’t have to step in it to know that it stinks. So to speak.

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