The Ace of Cubs

The three of us secure perches at our usual spot on the rounded far edge of the bar, where we survey the churning curiosity that comprises the customer base as well as the teevee screens with updates on the latest world chaos and sports developments. We all have our priorities as well as our favorite beverages, and when ensconced here at the Liquor & Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Underarm Lasering Center, we address them each in turn.

cubs-suckAs is their wont, professional gambler Duck Diamonds and retired sportswriter Lu Ann Senz are needling one another over the impending World Series. While Duck won’t say whose money is backing which team or state his own preferences, of course, he thoroughly enjoys tormenting Lu Senz — who spent over 30 years covering the Cubs as a Chicago beat writer — about the team’s prospects.

“How can they lose, Lu?” he asks innocently. “They win 108 games so far, what’s four more? What could go wrong? It’s not like they’re gonna collapse now, right? Not the Cubs!”

“What’s four more? I dunno, Duck, what’s 108 years? You’re talking about a team that perfected the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. St. Jude’s poster child.”

“Leave your snatch out of this, willya? Besides, the Injuns are as snake-bit as the Cubbies. They’re the only team to lose a World Series to Atlanta when the Braves kept finishing first every season but losing big ones. 1995, right? Last time they won a Series was 1948 against the Braves. The Boston Braves. They’re baseball’s Harold Freaking Stassen.”

So Lu — you think there’s something to the various Cubby curses? The billy goat? The black cat? The Gatorade Glove? Not to mention Steve Bartman.

“No, it has nothing to do with curses,” says Lu, dismissively. “Look — this Cubs team has extraordinary talent and youth, but more important, they’ve gelled as a team. If the regular season didn’t prove it, then the LA series did: totally shut down for two straight games and then they’re back with a vengeance.”

“Made the Dodgers look like the Cubs,”  observes Duck. “Dropped fly balls, runners picked off, missing cut-off men and tossing the ball all over the infield…..”

Soooooo — who do you like, Lu?

Lu Senz very deliberately pulls a cigarette out of the pack, fires it up, exhales, then sips her neat Jack Daniels. Her smile is sad but lovely; she sighs with both grey-blue eyes.

“What I came to understand all those years in the press box, dugout, locker room, and taprooms after the game and deep into the night is that the whole entire reason people love the Cubs is precisely because they’re helpless fuck-ups,” she says.

“Tomorrow two of baseball’s most snake-bit teams face off, and only one can lose again. The Cubs lucked out much the way Hillary Clinton did: drawing the only opponent they (she) could prevail upon.” She pauses for another drag. “I think they’ll win. But…..

“I will root for the Indians for historical reasons. What I and millions of fans love about the Cubbies, what makes them interesting, is their frustration and futility. I’m a traditionalist. Let’s preserve tradition.”

“You’re gonna root against the Cubs?” hollers Duck, incredulously. “After all these years of living and dying with their every season? Have you no heart, no loyalty?” He peers at her like a snake eyeing a rodent. “Hey — you crying?”

“Fuck off, Duck,” says Lu, eyes wet but jaw set. “You butt-sucking sportshole. You don’t know what love is. I love the Cubs, okay? Love ’em. My whole damn life. And that’s why they need to lose.”

It seems like with this the entire raucous bar stills, as time itself pauses to consider. A passing bird falls from the sky into the parking lot. Don Tequila, tending bar, becomes a statue. The ice in a dozen mixed drinks clutched in sweating hands throughout the room stops melting. And then somebody flushes a toilet, and a cell phone rings.

We’ll settle this. Play bawl!

Posted in The Adventures of Don Tequila | 5 Comments

Locker Room Talk

parlophoneLots of talk these days about abusive men, microaggressions, safe spaces on campus, male privilege, etc. Many of these conversations are accompanied by red faces, waving fingers, and spluttering insults, especially when alcohol is involved. Ask me how I know.

Anyway, here are the lyrics from a supergroup’s popular song in 1965. How would this sound today?

Run For Your Life

Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl than to be with another man

You better keep your head, little girl or I won’t know where I am


You better run for your life if you can, little girl

Hide your head in the sand little girl

Catch you with another man

That’s the end ah little girl


Well I know that I’m a wicked guy and I was born with a jealous mind

And I can’t spend my whole life trying just to make you toe the line


Let this be a sermon, I mean everything I’ve said

Baby, I’m determined and I’d rather see you dead


Story is that years later, John Lennon expressed regret about the sentiments reflected here, but I doubt today’s activists would cut him any slack, and probably call him a racist.

Reached for comment, Yoko Ono screeched unintelligibly.

Posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment | 4 Comments

Around The Hurled in 80 Clicks

Early Friday I find a Sun-Sentinel instead of a Miami Hurled wrapped in plastic (along with the NY Times) on my driveway, so I call the Hurled to report the error. The usual recorded message plays, encouraging subscribers to go on-line to report delivery issues, but this time a message advises that the Hurled is aware of a problem and we subscribers can expect our newspapers “late this afternoon.” Thank you and sod off.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.  Or the Hurled to arrive, either.

So much later I visit the website and attempt to report my problem. Under “subscription services” I find options to subscribe, cancel, put on “vacation hold,” purchase gift subscriptions, etc., but nothing to report delivery problems. Nor do I find anything else vaguely related.

But there is the old “Contact Us” option, so I send the following:

  1. Despite your recorded message when I call, there does not appear to be a way to report a delivery problem on your website. If there is, please send instructions, as it grows old calling every few weeks to report problems.

  2. Today’s Miami Hurled did not arrive. When I called, the recording informed me that the Hurled was aware of a problem, and I could expect delivery of the paper “in the late afternoon.” Two things: (a) I don’t want the paper “in the late afternoon,” but (b) you provided me no option to cancel. However,

  3. The paper didn’t arrive anyway. So you owe me some money. Please credit my account.

I have no expectation that anybody will notice, let alone comment on or complain about, my use of the term “Hurled.”

A few hours go by and I get this:

Thank you for contacting the Miami Herald

If you are emailing regarding a missed delivery, vacation stop, to check the status of your account or to make a payment, you can do this through our automated system 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • You can use our automated voice response system by calling 1-800-843-4372.
  • You can use our online system by going to
  • Activate your digital subscription for 24/7 access to our online content and e-edition at

If you are emailing us about something else, someone will get back to you within 1-2 business days.

Please do not respond to this email.

Thank you for contacting the Miami Herald

Isn’t that grand? You wonder why they bother having a customer website at all. In fact, you wonder why they don’t just disconnect the telephone, too.

When I visit the link provided, it takes me here:


… which turns out to be a series of links (and note redundancy) to sites where users may make additional purchases of god knows what.

Precisely because I am asked not to respond to their email, I send this:

This does not respond to the concerns I raised in my initial contact.

The link provided here to access the online service is at best mysterious, but quite worthless.

If you’re not willing to help me, just say so. Don’t send me on fool’s errands.

I do not anticipate a response. I may look dumb, but I’m ugly.

Saturday’s paper arrived without incident.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 4 Comments

He DID Build That

shoeless-joeThe talented and quirky author W.P. Kinsella died over the weekend. Or, as they say in show biz, “He’s dead, Jim.”

I’m glad he received some recognition, although it irks me that he’s best known as the guy who wrote a book (“Shoeless Joe”) that became a very popular movie (“Field of Dreams”). It’s an old and worthless lament — books don’t get the acclaim or reward that movies inspire — and a sad commentary on the culture and education of the American public.

If I say, “Clockwork Orange,” do you think of Anthony Burgess, who wrote the book, or Stanley Kubrick, who made the movie? You can play this game all day ’til the popcorn cools and it will end the same way every time.

Still, a paycheck is a paycheck, and I don’t doubt Kinsella was delighted to get his. Besides, it was a decent movie, as faithful to the book as it needed to be. He struck me as smart enough to take the food before biting the hand that fed him.

Godspeed, my friend, and when you bump into Ernie, tell him Let’s play two.

Posted in People Who Died, Died | 5 Comments

“Up on the Roof! 100 Proof!”

meckler's ladderRemember that kind of call-and-response thing from years ago? Nothing to do with the song by the Drifters. Nothing to do with anything, as I recall, except adolescent hormones better left forgotten.

Although I had occasion to think of at least some of these synaptic fragments this week.

We’re getting a new roof. After 17 years old and three separate patches, our roof is porous as the Mexican border, but a lot more humid.

The roofers leave a ladder up against the front of the house for the inspector to use – SOP. Inspector climbs up, pokes around, then signs off (or not) on paperwork so project moves forward. Although I understand that in some parts of Florida, the only climbing the inspector does is out of his car to saunter into the office to exchanges a signature for an envelope stuffed with cash. It’s just bidness.

After lunch, I climb up to the roof to clean out some dead palm fronds and seed pods with my defrondulator (pronounce that with Schwarzenegger accent). The defrondulator is a 9 foot long bamboo stick I harvested some years ago when our bamboo was just out of all fucking control. It has a few nubs and branches good for grabbing and yanking. Awkward, but effective, and better than anything similar I’ve ever bought at Home Depot.

I’m up there 20 minutes, having a glorious time in the afternoon baking sun, reaching for and yanking fronds off the areca palm and flinging them down to the back yard. But all things must end, and soon there’s no more in safe reaching distance, so I make my way back over to the front of the house…….and the ladder isn’t there anymore.

It’s one of those moments, a balance between Twilight Zone and Laurel & Hardy. There had to have been a ladder there less than half an hour ago. Same house, right? Ladders don’t walk. So — where is it?

I yell for Guido, who comes out curious, and ask her if she moved the ladder. No, she hadn’t. Nor did she hear anybody take it away. “I heard something,” she says, “but I figured it was you up there.” I suggest she quickly call the roofing company and ask if anybody had just come back to remove the ladder. She does. Somebody did. She tells the rep her husband is on the roof, stranded. “OMG! Let me get my guy on the phone!”

Ten minutes go by during which I devise two alternative dismounting strategies, both certain to cause injury. One is to leap for a sturdy palm and make my way down, monkey-like. The other is to jump down on the roof of the shed, easily accessible but a very steep pitch, then climb down the step ladder Guido could set up for me. The maneuver from shed roof to step ladder is not a surefire success, assuming I don’t teeter off the shed’s steep incline first.

ladderReally, all this picture needs is a sixpack and the famous last words of rednecks everywhere: “Hey fellers! Watch this!”

Fortunately, before I settle on Plan B (Bruises) or C (Contusions), Mr. Roofer returns with the ladder and makes them both moot. “I only climbed high enough to unhook it from the roof,” he says. “Didn’t expect nobody up there – not this time of day, anyway.” Shakes his head. “Been roofing over 25 years and this is the first time I ever stranded anybody!” He squints my way. “What were ya lookin’ for?”

I show him my defrondulator, explaining how I take the opportunity when I can to clean out the palms, pulling all the dry brown crap out so they look better. Besides, the sun is fabulous up there, all that reflected heat and bouncing UV waves. He nods neutrally and thoughtfully, then asks Guido, “So how tempted were you to just toss him a beer and leave ‘im there for a while?”

I get no respect. No respect at all.

Anyway, I’m back to earth and vow to never climb up again without taking a phone (a parachute wouldn’t work). And if using anybody else’s ladder but my own, making sure it’s in view at all times. No question I’ll be up there again, of course. Gotta get my money’s worth on the defrondulator.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 4 Comments

And He Could See Russia, Too!

A friend filed the following dispatch from the Alaskan Bay:

“We continued south on a ship whose first port of call was Skagway.  It turns out that part of Sarah Palin’s childhood was spent here. The house, built in 1899, was small with light blue aluminum siding and a pretty picket fence around the property. While I did not see a bronze plaque explaining that it was a building of historical significance, I did see [this] sign nailed on the picket fence.”

Skagway - Spitting Prohibited



Posted in NIMBY | 4 Comments

Even The Losers

BojackMinding my very own business at the Liquor and Rubber Balls Sports Bar & Numismatics Anonymous Recovery Center when I commit the error of nodding hello to Betty Washerman- Shirtz, sitting down the bar and texting furiously. Washerman-Shirtz has a well-deserved reputation at LRB as a relentless and tedious political junkie, constantly over her head in one life-or-death cause or another, like changing the names of streets in Hollywood.

“This is a seriously bad development,” she tells me, grimly, downing her drink.

What — out of gin? I’m sure you can get Don to mix you another one. With or without formaldehyde?

“No, dearie. The bad development is these back room Republican power brokers trying to maneuver Trump off the ticket. I’m thinking it’s just rumor but there’s sources say it’s true. At the very least they’re talking about the RNC cutting off money to him and diverting it to local races.”

trum thumbWhy is this a problem? You want Trumpf to win?

“Of course not. But I don’t want him to drop out. God only knows what happens next — they move Pence up, they get Kasich or Cruz to take over, they run Bullwinkle and a ham sandwich instead — it all spells disaster for the Democrats.”

Lemme guess — cuz the ‘Crats nominated somebody so unpopular the only one she has a chance to beat is Trumpf?

“Isn’t it obvious? The sole candidate to rack up worse unfavorable numbers among voters than Hillary is Trump. She’d lose to Rubio or Jeb! in a New York minute. She’d lose to Jersey Governor Porcine! Hell, she’d lose to BoJack Horseman!’

I can see the banners. Vote Neigh for the U.S.A.

“Lemme tellya, if the Democrats were smart, they’d be infiltrating some of these high-level Republican gabfests and reinforcing Trump’s support. They might even shovel some extra cash his way, just to make sure the sonofabitch doesn’t lunch out. Losing him at the top of the ticket is the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to the Clinton campaign.”

Didn’t Hildabeest send an email to that effect when she was still Secretary of State?

“Not funny, Squattle. And ‘Hildabeest’ is an offensive name dripping with microagressive sexist hatred.” She glares at her phone. “Excuse me. I gotta get on this.”

bojack 4 presYou go girl. Meanwhile, I get my microaggressive ass (WTF?) out of there. The Betty Washerman-Shirtzes of the world are another reason even normal voters despise the political process and the people who manipulate it.

But she has a point: 10 weeks out from Election Day, the second-to-last last person on earth I want as president is Hillary Rotten Clinton. That’s why how I’m voting for her.

Unless I write in BoJack Horseman.

Posted in Shaken and Stirred | 5 Comments