Barcalounge Skipper - Buck Up

"Good game, good game. I'm buying the candy corn!"

     Here come the Baltimore Orioles.  It's about time.
     Although the O's aren't likely to avoid their 13th straight losing season, they now have the -- can I say it -- underrated Buck Showalter managing the team.  Since taking over the directionless, listless Orioles a few weeks ago, Baltimore's boys of summer have gone 11-7 and appear to have a new sense of purpose.  Credit Showalter for turning around the team's attitude, as was clearly evident in Buck's disgusted and dismissive remarks about the Oriole's goofy orange uniforms, worn during a game against the Rays last weekend.
     "Someone said it looked like Halloween candy corn," Showalter said via the AP. "Take a picture. You won't see them again."
     He's right.  Candy corn sucks. Now, it seems, the Oriole's don't.
     If baseball has a modern-day turnaround artist, it's Showalter.  Having previously taken change of three foundering franchises -- the Yankees of 1992-95, the Diamondbacks of 1998-2000, and the Rangers of 2003-2006 -- Big Show has always had a big impact.  Season by season, here's the composite record and winning percentages for all three teams, year by year:

Year One 212-274 (.436)
Year Two 277-209 (.569)
Year Three 234-203 (.535)
Year Four 159-147 (.519)

     Showalter won Manager of the Year twice, in 1994 and in 2004. And he built the Yankees into the franchise that won Joe Torre four championships, as well as the team that beat the Yankees in 2001, Bob Brenly's Diamondbacks.  Since Showalter left the Rangers four years ago, that team has been a winning franchise, certainly better than it was before he got there.
     Buck is the kind of coach I think I'd like running my team, and Oriole's president Andy McPhail certainly sees it that way.  Prepared, focusing on fundamentals and preparation, Showalter should help turn around a historically great franchise in a truly great baseball town.  Baltimore deserves a great team, and it should be coming sooner than anyone suspects.
     And I have to like a guy who has nothing but disdain for Throwback Uniform Night.

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PNodcast - Law of the Swamp

In a podcast from the old days of Flak Magazine, we consider the potential impact and deeper significance of the then-new Stand Your Ground law, which encouraged Florida citizens to shoot first and ask questions later.

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PNodcast - On Hiatus

In the first podcast, we return to the airwaves with a contemplation of what it means to be away from the mediaverse for three whole years -- and what it means to be a parent.

Passing Notes - On Hiatus

In April of 2007, my wife and I packed up our apartment overlooking the Miami River and the old Orange Bowl and moved.  We moved to Boca Raton, for educational reasons and a chance at new places of employment.  We also needed a bigger place, because we were expecting a baby boy that summer.  Everything worked out better than we had expected, and by the time we moved back to Miami last year  was still happy with my day job, my wife had finished all of her courses, and we had two babies – not one –in the house.  During those three years, for me to have kept up with all the writing and producing I was doing – well, it wasn’t going to happen.

Put down the keyboard. Get me a bottle. Now.

Now, our two boys are older.  They sleep through the night.  They can feed themselves, for the most part, and they’re working on, you know, learning their numbers and their colors and the alphabet.

I’m not going to talk about how having kids changed my life.  Having kids should change your life.  If having kids doesn’t change your life – not completely maybe, but in some profound ways – maybe you’re doing it wrong. What do I know though? A lot of people are parents.

I am glad – no, I am even a little proud – to be of a generation of dads who are expected to be in the delivery room when their kids were born, who change diapers and do those midnight feedings and burping, who don’t think twice about helping out with the exhausting work of taking care of a newborn, an infant, a toddler. Be hands-on most of the dads my age say.  Give the kids their bathess at night and tuck them in to bed.   Be involved.  Man up and take care of your kids.  One of the best things I’ve done  lately is to load my boys kids in the van this summer and take them on an all-guys road trip from Miami to Maine – leaving their mother behind in South Florida for a well-deserved and long overdue staycation.  That was some bonding time for the Hayes Boys.

Three years off the air is an eternity in media time.  Of course, I’ve been hanging around – you know, living.  So what have I been doing for the past three years?  My wife and I had a couple of kids, I mentioned that.   When I could find time, I listened to a lot of new  music.  I drank coffee.  I read some books.  I drank coffee.  I watched as many movies as I could stay awake for.  That was about 11 movies total.  I drank coffee.  I kept at my day job.  I drank coffee.  And, above all else I sang “This Old Man” more times than I could tell you.

I did a lot of thinking , but I didn’t write much, and I didn’t share my opinions with the world in a weekly broadcast.

So this is Passing Notes, a second time around.  I realize that I know a little bit more about books and music and the like, but that my opinions are much less strong.  Maybe that’s humility.  Maybe that’s wisdom.  Maybe that’s being open-minded.  Passing Notes, this time around, will be more conversation with other people and more listening on my part.  We’ll try to interview the authors and film-makers whose works we’re considering.  We’ll listen to a little more of the music under review.  Passing Notes, this time around, will be about sharing the experience rather than just my view of it.  I think you’ll enjoy that more.  I know I will.
If I’ve learned anything from my family over the past three years, it’s to pay closer attention to people, to listen carefully, and to be honest about trying to see all sides of a thing – because there’s certainly more sides to the story than just my own.

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Reader's Notes - Passing Strange

Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color LineI've heard Martha Sandweiss, the author of Passing Strange, explain the outline of the story of Clarence King's double life -- that is, King was a well-known white citizen of Gilded Age America who, for the sake of love (and other thrills) led a double life as a Pullman Porter.  For those of us interested in the cultural construction of race, this is a fascinating read -- and the feature of a recent author interview on NPR.

If the theme of negotiating the color line is interesting, a reader might check out Nella Larsen's Passing or even Mark Twain's The Tragedy of Puddin'head Wilson.

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Reader's Notes - The Death of E-mail?

     In an age of rapid change -- I suspect we're in one of those ages right now -- experts love to predict the rise of this phenomenon and the death of another.  Even better when one kills the other.
     Late last year, for instance, Ross Storey wrote on his blog about the death of e-mail, claiming that text messaging and its related platforms are the preferred medium of communication among young people.  Storey provides some convincing statistics to back up his argument.  Of course, in 2007, I remember reading this "death of e-mail" story in Slate.
     I work with young people every day, and I have to explain to my bosses that I yes indeed do text my students when I need to get in touch with them.  They will respond to a text, almost to a person, within an hour -- most of them within 10 minutes.  To many of them, w-mail, which often requires sitting at an old fashioned computer keyboard, seems formal and old fashioned.  Forget the handwritten note.  If the art of letter writing was elbowed aside by email, its been positively decimated by text messaging.  But who was writing long, literary letters anyway?  Aren't writers going to write, regardless of the medium?
     Rather than bemoan the death of the paper-and-ink letter or the e-mail, let us instead embrace the form of the tweet and the text -- all 140 characters of them -- despite the awkward SMS shorthand and l337isms, as a form of composition that rewards the concise, the clever, and the well-timed.  If you want to see fine Tweeters at work, go pick up the feed from film critic Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) or the disturbing and hilarious @eddiepepitone.  You don't know what you're missing if you won't dip just a toe in the waters of the Twittering sea.
     Readers, where have you found your most artful texts?


Review of Sunday Morning by Randy Klein on eJazzNews

This just in -- my review of Randy Klein's excellent album of jazz duets, Sunday Morning, has been posted on eJazzNews.  This gets me up to date in working through my pile of CD's and into the August releases.  Coming up, CD reviews of Suresh Singaratnam, John Escreet, Mike Mainieri, and Ethan Mann, as well as a book review of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original and the return to the airwaves of Passing Notes.  I've added a collection of videos on YouTube, and as soon as my technical genius Shawn Adderly returns to town, we'll follow up our broadcasts each week with a "Passing Notes - Uncut" podcast available through iTunes.  And I'm off to enjoy the rest of Sunday!

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Passing Notes Video

Not that there's being any video produced right now from the home office -- I hope there will be one day -- but I've set up a YouTube channel as a place to collect video that might be related to any of the artists whose names pass through. Right now, PN Video offers jazz and blues videos from all over, interviews with authors, and a playlists of a few of my favorite web series -- Chad Vader and Wainy Days.

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Listener's Notes - Jazz Cafe with Ed Blanco on WDNA

Give my buddy Ed Blanco a listen Sunday mornings on WDNA's Jazz Cafe.  In Miami, tune your radio to 88.9 on the FM dial or listen online via the WDNA website.  Ed and I hosted a new music show in 2007 called "Straight, No Chaser," and Ed reviews jazz regularly for eJazzNews and AllAboutJazz.  WDNA is one of the last all-jazz stations on the air in the US, and it plays a wide range of straight ahead jazz, latin jazz, world music -- and none of the smooth stuff.

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