Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mentos: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I was eight years old when I was first introduced to Mentos.

Those chewy, candy-like, white orbs packed with an explosion of mint revealed themselves to me in the 1995 Alicia Silverstone sleeper hit “Clueless”.

My 10- and 11-year-old cousins, who were clearly much cooler than I – seeing as they were older and therefore wiser – utilized their cunning skills to convince their parents to not only buy Clueless but to let my younger sister and I watch it with them. I am forever indebted to them for giving me my first look at what High School was going to be like (according to early/mid 90’s social stereotypes).

Despite its unrealistic plot, the film does resonate with a generation of young people who have embraced Clueless for what it is – an adaptation of what it’s like to be a clueless teenager living in a high-class part of California during a tragic time for fashion trends.

But there’s more to the movie than greasy hair, flannel shirts, feathered bangs, and Valley Girl-Talk.

A co-worker of mine went to Costco over the weekend. While there, she bought a giant case of every flavor of Mentos known-to-man. The only fair thing to do was to share the wealth. So she offered each of us a pack of the “Freshmaker”.

They were in a word: Delish.

The next day, I was asked by the same co-worker, “So … have you enjoyed any Mentos yet?”

I replied with a “yes, of course” and an “I loved them”, followed up with a re-telling of my favorite Mentos-Clueless story.

It was then I realized, “This is why I’m a writer!”

How did I realize this? Simple. I equated a package of chewy mints with my memory of a 90’s teen movie seen with my cousins before I was even in the double-digit age range all for the sole purpose of commiserating with my co-work and showing her my thanks for the free pack of Freshmakers. In short, I can recall pop culture moments that mean nothing and turn ‘em into something worth reading.

And now, I'd like to channel the moment Travis Birkenstock (played by Breckin Meyer) thanks debate teacher Mr. Hall for receiving ("by far") the most tardies in the class (if you've seen Clueless, you know what I'm talking about):

I'll take this opportunity to thank the following individuals who have contributed to my writing this story. First, thanks to the fine folks at Mentos for creating such a delectable and easy-to-tote, minty-fresh treat. Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd for their semi-realistic roles as young adults struggling with their teenage lives on the silver screen. And mostly, Brittany Murphy for "taking a chance on an unknown kid" by singing the Mentos gingle during the movie – forever etching the tune into my memory.

How Old Are You Now?

Well -- it's official -- after 90 posts (that's including today's) and one year, The Chicago to DC POV is still going strong.

We've seen the Cubs botch another post-season, a Presidential Election that was down to the wire, the inauguration of our nation's first black president, Randy Johnson's 300th career win, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the third season of VH1's Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, the re-building of the Yankee Stadium, the Jonas Brothers nomination for Best New Artist at the 2009 Grammy Awards, Wrigley Field's first Ice Hockey game and commemorated 9/11.

We've learned that South Park is still funny after 12 seasons.

We've reminisced about the days when MTV still played music videos.

And we've also cried a pretty decent amount about the harsh realities of familial tragedy. On a personal note, this blog has taken a positive turn since my father's passing on January 17. My writing is full of far more passion than I could ever hope for -- and for this, I'm thankful.

To all of my loyal readers: thank you for your unconditional support with this project. It means a lot to me and I assure you that this is just the beginning of things to come.

To all of my soon-to-be-loyal-readers: you've got some good things to look forward to, so stick with it.

Today's post and every post from here on out is therefore dedicated to the following family members who passed away in 2009:

Dad (Steven Levitin)


Grandma Irene

and Bubbe (Marilyn S. Levitin)
...without them, none of this would have been possible.


R.H. Levitin
The Chicago to DC POV

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whose City Is This Anyway?

Update (9/30/09): It has just been made known to this blogger that The Pour House does proclaim that they ARE, in fact, the OFFICIAL Steelers bar in Washington, D.C. Good for them.

The St. Louis Cardinals have clinched the N.L. Central 2009 title and the Cubs remain one game away from elimination in the Wild Card race. The back-to-back stint in the playoffs will be remembered for years to come as another sad attempt toward achieving baseball's ultimate goal.

'Til next year, I suppose.

On the other hand, football season is three weeks in and it appears as if this one-team kinda gal must shift her alliances to the next best thing -- the Chicago Bears.

In D.C., it's hard to root for any native teams teams whether you're a transplanted resident or a local. Hell, there haven't even been any championship teams that have D.C. as their mailing address. With that said, I find myself required to root for my Bears in an attempt to silence my friend's hoot n' hollering about their respective teams.

After an afternoon matinee of the new Tucker Max movie "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell", a college buddy of mine went down to the Pour House on Capitol Hill for an afternoon of cheap pitchers, Kolbasa, fries, Skee Ball, and Steelers football.

There I was, a Cubs fan turned 15-minute-Bears fan at a bar jam packed with Steelers fans in D.C., when I thought to myself -- whose city is this anyway?

This was truly another "Only in D.C..." moment for me. Only in D.C. would it be socially acceptable to head to the local watering hole with the sole purpose of rooting for your home team only to be surrounded by hundreds of others just like you.

On Sunday, I was surrounded by Black and Gold. I couldn't take one step without seeing a Terrible Towel hanging out of Joe Shmoe's back jean pocket.

I vaguely recall making friends with a Red Sox fan during half-time, but no amount of cheap beer could keep me from remembering the lesson of the evening: the Pour House is the un-official Steelers bar of D.C. (according to my hill staffer friend joining me on this Sunday night adventure).

That got me thinking: where are all the Redskins fans? Mourning a loss to the Lions? Oh yeah ... that's right.

To all those Skins fans out there, I think we're going to be great friends. Now that I've started watching football, I think you'll find that we have a lot in common. You may or may not have heard about my Cubs. They're not too good. And from the looks of the Lion's ending their losing streak, I'd say you'd agree with the fact that the Skins aren't the best team either. I say we share a pitcher stool side at a bar sometime. It'd be better than pretending to be a Steelers fan as to not attract attention to oneself.

I suggest Cubs and Redskins fans unite. Together we can insure that we're no longer outsiders while cheering for our football teams on Sunday.

Q&A w/'s Jason Paul

Ever wonder what it would feel like to travel the country on a good old fashioned road trip only to end up living in the place you've traveled cross-country to see? Most American's have. It's a standard social fantasy a-la the 1960's sub-culture. It's very Jack Keroac in "On The Road".

Now what would happen if you combined an established American tradition, turned it topsy-turvy, and decided -- I'm going to live exclusively off of Craigslist.

22-year-old Jason Paul did just that. Paul, a recent college graduate and fellow American University Eagle, made the decision based on a the fact that this economic climate is not too hot for a young, degree-holding, wanna-be-professional job applicant.

And voisla! was born.

Paul took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions via E-mail for The Chicago to DC POV:

R.H. Levitin: Why Craigslist?
Jason Paul: There is a real answer and a fake answer to this question. When people ask me what I am doing, I tell them about my journalism job search and how that was a mega failure. 180 jobs in over 35 states without any success. So, I tell I am doing the one thing I feel college actually schooled me enough to do--Craigslist! That of course is my fake answer. The real answer is that Craigslist is this amazing tool that has many different users, with many different stories. Craigslist has something like 20 billion page views per month putting it at #7 in the English speaking world. At the same time, Craigslist is blamed, with good reasons, for the collapse of the news industry. I am sad "conventional" journalism is moving out the door, but why cry about this. I think we, as an industry need to regroup and do what we do best. Tell people's stories. For me, right now, that is hearing peoples stories on Craigslist.

R: How did you come up with the idea to start living off of Craigslist?

J: I don't really know. This is really just one of the many ideas I've had. I just went through with this one because I think it can be the funniest. I think the stories almost tell themselves.

R:What do you hope to gain from this experience? What are your long-term and short-term goals with this project?
J:Goals are really difficult when you are living each day by what is out there on Craigslist. Long-term, I hope to maintain a funny, interesting tone that keeps people tuned in. I want to stay relevant. It'd be great if these good vibes keep flowing. Short-term I hope to make some friends. To steal from one of the categories on Craigslist, I feel like I am having a lot of casual encounters--none in the way the site advertises. I meet people at events, have acquaintance like connections, but I have not yet broken past that. Who knows, tonight I am going to a free meditation and vegetarian potluck in Berkeley.

R: What's the craziest encounter you've had so far?
J: I don't know if it's the craziest encounter I've had but I think my drive from Cleveland to Denver is up there. I hung out with a 66-year-old retiree and heard his whole life story. Check out the entire post at I think it is one of my funniest.

R: What has been the general response toward and your plans to write a book on the same topic?
J: Generally the response is good. I think there are always the people who think what I am doing is odd. Someone will inevitably say that I am young and stupid but the reality is I have nothing to lose. I don't have any other employment options so the alternative, my parents basement, seems a whole lot worse. When I see the judgmental eyebrows spike, I just tell myself what 311 tells me, "Fuck the naysayers because they don't mean a thing, because this is what style we bring."

R:What do your parents have to say? Are they supportive?
J: My parents are supper awesome and always have been. Before I left, they hid a note in my bag. "The road will not always be smooth but what a ride it will be." They have been great, even when I was driving complete strangers in my car, though that was not easy for them.

R: How about your friends? Do they think you're nuts or are they just jealous that you're out living life and they're sitting behind a desk or making copies and coffee?

J: I don't know if they are jealous. I think they are proud of me too. People that know me well know that I am not usually on the map with my ideas. For me to take something so out there and run with it seems to be something people like rallying behind. As my friend Phil wrote, "[ is] a great instrument to live vicariously through while you have the 9-5 drag." Having him say that really means a lot. I am honored to be anyone's release from the real world. I hope I can always find a niche in society that allows me to avoid this "real world."

R: Any words for your fans and followers out there?
J: I can't really thank those who read enough. I would consider this year a success even if my manuscript never sees a printing press. Having people tune in is more than I can ever expect. At times I feel like my only friend is a silly Web site so hearing how much my words mean, makes my day and means the world to me. My most sincere thanks.

Learn more about Jason Paul's Living Craiglist adventures at!

Photos courtesy of Jason Paul.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Morning Comute Gone A-Rye Due To Suspicious Package

What happens when there's a suspicious package on Massachusetts Avenue? Hordes of the work force get detained at Glover Bridge.

More to come on this story later ...

The Only Legitimate Excuse for Being Late to Work in DC: A Suspicious Package

I've never seen Massachusetts Avenue completely empty in the four years I've lived in D.C. -- until today.

My N4 WMATA bus approached the U.S. Naval Observatory when it came to a sudden stop. Just beyond the panoramic windows from my seat on the bus, cars were directed by Secret Service and Metropolitan Police to a detour while buses were instructed to stay put until further notification.

There we were, hundreds of morning commuters, stranded in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue on our way to Dupont Circle, Farragut Square, and Metro Center, waiting for a decision to be reached -- will we walk or will we wait?

So I walked.

As I approached the British Embassy, I saw a sight I've never seen before: a traffic-free Mass Ave.

It was as peaceful as I've ever seen the capital. Not a sound rang through the streets except for the occasional lawn mower. I felt like I was on an abandoned movie set -- or even worse -- one of those reality shows where the cameras jump out at you say "I'm Ashton Kutcher and you've been Punk'd!"

I continued along my journey for a total of ten minutes until I came into the next batch of troubles keeping me from getting to my job on time -- police tape roping off the Glover Bridge.

Wide-eyed 20 and 30-something's stared at the blocked off bridge as if it were the light at the end of a never ending tunnel. To make matters worse, the Police weren't any help. They knew nothing. They told us nothing. All anyone knew was that there was a "suspicious package" holding up traffic. Fantastic.

Onlookers were confused -- more specifically the foreigners let off the bus. If only they spoke English, perhaps the situation would have made more sense to them.

The only options for commuters hoping to make it to work within a respectable time span were: take the Rock Creek path to Georgetown, take a scenic route behind the left side of Glover Bridge (but there's no telling when you'll actually hit a street heading toward Farragut Square or Dupont), or wait for the situation to end before hitting the road once more by foot.

So I waited.

But I wasn't alone. Many folks like myself were all going to be late for their respective jobs.

They say you learn something new everyday. Well I'll tell you what I learned today: D.C. is the sole place where being late to work because of a "suspicious package" is viewed as not only normal but a valid excuse.

R.H. Levitin Quoted in American University paper, The Eagle

The following is an article filed by Eagle Contributing Writer Stefanie Dazio on September 16, 2009 titled "Journalism film series opens with CIA leak movie":

School of Communication Journalist-in-Residence Nick Clooney, an attorney and an SOC professor discussed releasing names of confidential sources and the 2003 Valerie Plame-CIA leak grand jury investigation at AU’s Reel Journalism series opener on Monday.

The Greenberg Theater event featured a screening of “Nothing but the Truth,” a film inspired by the 2003 investigation. It focuses on the reporter’s refusal to name the source and her stint in jail.

The film, directed by Rod Lurie, was not released in theaters but went straight to distribution due to bankruptcy, according to attorney Floyd Abrams.

“There may be more people in this room, about to see the movie, than have ever seen it in this country,” Abrams said.

Abrams, who represented The New York Times and Judith Miller in the investigation, portrayed a district court judge in the movie.

In the film, a reporter (Kate Beckinsale) reveals the identity of an undercover CIA agent (Vera Farmiga), prompting a federal investigation. The reporter refuses to name her source and is cited for contempt of court by Abrams’ character, spending nearly a year in jail.

The inspiration came from Plame, a former CIA operative identified in an article by syndicated columnist Robert Novak in 2003. He cited unidentified sources in his column. It is against federal law to deliberately disclose a CIA agent’s identity, and the Justice Department began an investigation. Miller was subpoenaed, despite the fact that she never wrote a story on Plame. She refused to divulge her sources and was jailed for contempt for 12 weeks.

But the film isn’t really about the reporter Judith Miller, Abrams said.

“We have a movie and we have, in real life, a woman who was a reporter who had issues relating to confidential sources and who wrote about someone ... issues arose about someone who was in the CIA,” he said. “There’s similarity in all that, but everything else is different.”

The film was the first of this season’s Reel Journalism series with Nick Clooney, sponsored by SOC, the Newseum and the AU Office of Alumni Programs.

Clooney led the discussion between Abrams and John Watson, an associate SOC professor.

“The level of moral fortitude displayed here is not as common as we’d like to think,” Watson said. “I think I would have crumbled quite early.”

Audience member and SOC graduate Rachel Levitin said she would never give up her source.

“No, not a chance,” she said. “That, in a nutshell, is journalistic integrity.”

Find the original article at The Eagle Online:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall: It Feels Good

Summer lovin' had me a blast, spring fling was as good as it seemed, and I'll admit that there's something magical about a Winter Wonderland -- but there's nothing like the first day of day of fall to pull these heart strings.

September 21 is the first day of fall. My favorite season.

Fall has a distinct smell. It's crisp and brisk, bitter but gentle, and refreshing. Sweater weather is in full-swing and it's time to pull those sophisticated jackets out of storage.

The 9 to 5 crowd switches from iced coffee to sizzling lattes.

Sandals and shades go back in the closet while boots and cute little penny-loafers make their triumphant return.

A National past-time known as The Fall Classic brings together all baseball fans for the final stretch of October stress and triumph.

Those who don't fancy that American tradition turn to yet another -- Football.

No matter your personal preferences, fall is the end of care-free summer days, which leaves quite a few folks down in the dumps. Don't fret! Fall isn't that bad.

Cozy up with your favorite blanket, rent a movie, make some hot apple cider (with hint of caramel), and relax. Let the steam from your mug cling to each pore on your face while you catch a whiff of apple and cinnamon. That's fall at its finest.

Think about it this way: Something special happens in fall. I'm sure most people would not agree with that statement but I'll attempt to explain it to you.

Have you ever seen Gilmore Girls? If not, don't worry. I'll clarify this pop culture concept.

The first snow of the year is special to the show's main character, Lorelei. She is convinced that something big will happen each time the first flake hits solid ground. Thanks to some witty writing "something big" does happen, but that doesn't mean it can't translate into real life.

Lorelei has her snow. I have the entire fall.

Fall feels right. It's my security blanket. It wraps me in a comfortable state until that first snow flake invades the airspace above the jungle made of concrete and steal.

Even if the Cubs lose yet another chance at a World Series, I find solace in the fact that fall comes and stays just long enough for me to feel like I'm home -- no matter how far I happen to be from Chicago.

So ... here's to fall! Here's to something big! It's coming ... I can feel it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

V.2.0 Updates -- Where To Find The New Photos

September 30 is a special day for The Chicago to DC POV.

We'll be celebrating the one year anniversary of our internet invasion.

To commemorate this occasion, Chicago to DC has taken the liberty of adding pictures to the website because we all know that pictures make everything a little bit easier to read!

In addition to the most recent updated entry ("Romance, Circumstance, and Happenstance"), here's a list of other pieces that have been "re-mastered" for your viewing pleasure:

  1. Wells, The New Wood? -- This Year's Rookie Makes His Mark (September)
  2. Fly Me To The Moon (July)
  3. The Graduate: A R.H. Levitin Reflection (May)
  4. Disposable is the new Digital -- No, I'm not Kidding (April)
There are other posts that currently contain photographs. Feel free to parooze the blog for those if you like.

The blog is your oyster -- or at least something like that.


R.H. Levitin
The Chicago to DC POV

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Chicago to DC POV v.2.0

That's right Chicago to DC faithful, we've had a makeover.

We're sporting a new look for fall in the anticipation of our one year anniversary on September 30.

This isn't just about vanity though.

Chicago to DC's very own R.H. Levitin has re-visted previous posts and added photos from her personal collection in order to enhance your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy the new layout, check out the new photos, and keep on reading.


R.H. Levitin
The Chicago to DC POV

A Chicago to DC POV Flashback -- May 2009

The May entry titled "Romance, Circumstance, and Happenstance: A Look at Rachael Yamagata" has been updated and now contains photos from R.H. Levitin's personal collection.

rachael yamagata live at metro

All photos date to concerts at the Metro in Chicago in August 2005 and The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virgina in September 2009.

Re-visit this music feature originally written for an independent study course designed by R.H. Levitin during her undergraduate career at American University. "Romance, Circumstance, and Happenstance" was written under the guidance of Professor Marc Medwin from the American University Department of Performing Arts.

Forget Potential: Why Greed Could Save The Cubs

The Cubs biggest problem is holding on to the past. Case and point -- Carlos Zambrano.

player of the month
Zambrano receiving the Sears Player of the Month award, August 2005. Photo By R.H. Levitin

Cubs fans and Cubs management alike have trouble determining when a players time on the team should come to a close. It might be easier to let the past go than to hold on when a 100 year World Series deficit looms over the North Sider's weary heads.

The Cubs beat the Brewers 13-7 Tuesday night but not before removing alleged ace, Zambrano.

There is now talk about the Tribune hoping that Zambrano will waive his no-trade clause, according to Chicago Tribune reporter Patrick Sullivan. And the right-hander wanted nothing to do with the discussion after last night's 5th inning collapse resulting in 39 pitches and his removal from the game.

"I don't care," he said. "If the Cubs want to trade me, it's because they don't like me anymore. I have to move on. What else can I do? I just move on."

Zambrano added he doesn't want to waive his no-trade rights, then left, saying: "That's enough."

Here's the problem -- the Cubs want to win. There are 19 games left and the prospect of the 3-peat playoff stint dwindle with the Colorado Rockies 5.5 games ahead of baseball's lovable losers.

What the Cubs need is a change. They can't hold on to their favorite players with a death grip anymore. They're going to have to learn to let them go when the time has come. This is the lesson that needs to be taken away from the 2009 season -- if a player doesn't live up to his potential it's time to trade him. End of story.

It's the same story every year. "This is the year! The Cubs show great potential! Great rotation, power-hitting line-up, a bullpen with blossoming talent -- potential is the name of the game and the Cubs are ready to play it!"

To hell with potential.

Listen up Jim Hendry -- if you want to win, going all-in on players with potential won't get you a ring. Fans are hungry and yet you continue to screw up even the best player investments. Consider yourself lucky that the fans' tolerance for embarrassment is high. Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Rosenberg claims that the Cubs are the luckiest team in any sport. The proof is all there -- even with the biggest championship drought in the Major Leagues, every game is sold-out.

Does winning even matter anymore? You bet it does. But why do the Cubs keep owning up their lovable loser nickname? Because they overuse talent with potential and set their expectations sky-high.

Remember Mark Prior? Fans, teammates, and management alike were all praying on bended knee for his 2003 season to play on a repeated loop for years to come. That didn't happen and now Prior's career is officially over (although most would say his career ended circa 2005 before being traded to the San Diego Padres for a few year run on their disabled list).

Prior had potential. The Cubs (cough cough, Dusty Baker, cough cough) ran his career into the ground by pushing his pitch count and abusing his once healthy arm, leaving the team without their 2003 All-Star of an ace.

Face it, the Cubs use up their talent until there's nothing left of them. And they wonder why they've been shut out in post season play since game 5 of the 2003 NLCS.

Greed is the best chance for the Cubs survival during October baseball. Spend the money. Cut the costs on players that prove to be a waste of capital. If the Yankees can do it, anyone can.

September's BONUS One-Liner of the Month

The following is an excerpt from "September 13, 2009 -- Never Forget -- Rest in Peace, Dad":

"Always remember, never forget, remain resilient -- strength is everything when pain strikes the heart."

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 13, 2009 -- Never Forget -- Rest in Peace, Dad

If you look up at the sky at any moment, it's likely that a steel bird is flying in the heavens miles above your head. September 11, 2001 was the first time in as long as I've been alive that there wasn't.

It's been eight years since the terrorist attacks on America's soil. We all know this -- and still, it's hard to fathom.

2,752 souls perished that day out of hatred and spite. That's not fair.

When thinking of those days events, I find it hard to recall how it felt in the moment. However, what I do feel is the sense of loss. I understand it now. And although it's not of the same magnitude, a day like this helps to put my past eight months in perspective.

Between the dates of January 17 and August 22 my family lost four integral members.

Now -- I know what you're thinking -- that's nowhere near the same as waking up one morning on a September day in New York City to the death and destruction of your loved ones due to a terrorist attack. However, the pain induced from losing a loved one remains a difficult concept to muster.

I do not have the time to mourn those lost on September 11th, but I do understand how their families must feel. It's my dad's birthday on Sunday and it's the first one he won't be attending.

There will be no obligatory phone call complete with the birthday song. There will be no gift exchange or golf-themed birthday cards. His laugh won't be ringing in my ears after getting off the phone with him because of how loud it was. And in a nut shell -- that hurts.

As a nation, we must never forget the swift actions taken against our country in an effort to shake our spirits. As a young woman, I am obligated to take the past eight months and rise above them -- just as the American people continue to rise above terrorism.

Eight years ago I sat around the kitchen table watching the news with my sister, mother, dog (RIP Coco), and dad as the news played the attacks on a loop. We were lucky we had each other. We were glad we had a reason to celebrate life -- in particular, my father's 46th birthday.

Eight months ago I sat at that same table while watching the inauguration of our nation's first black president -- without my dog and without my dad. Nothing feels right anymore and nothing is the same, but if America can make it through the worst terrorist attack on our own soil then anything's possible.

Always remember, never forget, remain resilient -- strength is everything when pain strikes the heart.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wells, The New Wood? -- This Year's Rookie Makes His Mark

Randy Wells pitching at Nationals Park, July 2009. Photo By: R.H. Levitin

It’s been almost a year since Chicago northsiders said farewell to their favorite homegrown pitcher of recent memory – Kerry Wood. The man who started his career with the Cubs as the 1998 Rookie of the Year cemented what became a disappointing version of what we all knew and thought would end up being a Hall of Fame tenure. But we know how that story ends.

The 2003 season didn’t just spell disaster for the Cubs but for one of the best starting line-ups the team had ever utilized. From there on out, the once invincible pitcher found himself a regular spot on the disabled list due to shoulder/elbow problems (we can all thank Dusty Baker for that). Since then, Wood has shifted from an ace starter to set-up man to closer and no longer sports the blue and red of Chicago, but rather the navy and red of Cleveland.

Chicago lost one of their favorite sons in off-season trades between the 2008 and 2009 seasons but there was a gain in all of this – Randy Wells.

The Cubs came off of back-to-back National League Central Division championships with the hope that this year would end up being “the year” all Cubs fans and team members hope to achieve. This is a club that came into 2009 with a $135 million payroll and 6 former All-Stars and somehow they managed to mess up Piniella’s plan for victory.

"Names don't win baseball games," Piniella told the Chicago Tribune. "Production wins baseball games.”

And the Cubs offense is doing the opposite of that.

"We're going to score about 160-170 runs less than we did last year," Piniella continued. "That's a lot of offense to lose. That's a dozen or 15 games on a win or loss column. ... To me, that's the biggest reason we find ourselves in the position we're in."

What the Cubs do have is a rookie pitcher who is the sole member of this year’s pitching staff to surpass single digits in the win column.

Wells is one hell of a pitcher. In Tuesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Houston Astros, he allowed one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings which is the first time a Cubs rookie has reached a double digit victory count since Wood’s 13 in 1998. Only five other Cubs rookies have compiled a record of double digit wins over the last 40 seasons: Rick Reuschel (10 wins in 1972), Burt Hooton (11 wins in 1972), Mike Harkey (12 wins in 1990), and Geremi Gonzalez (11 in 1997).

Is it possible that we have a new Kerry Wood on our hands? It might very well be. Wells remains positive about the rest of the season while staying modest about his rookie achievements.

"I'm not trying to reach any plateaus or win any awards," Wells told the Tribune. "Every time they give me the ball, I just try to do my job."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September's One-Liner of the Month

The following is an excerpt from "Obesity of the Brain":

"Technology is man spooning himself information."

Obesity of the Brain: Why Man Can't Find The Answers He's Looking To Find

“All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.”

These wise words spoken by the Battlestar Gallactica cast during the re-imagined series (running between 2005 and 2009) define validity … even when spoken outside the realm of a Sci-Fi plot construction.

It has dawned upon this blogger that the cliché is correct – life moves in a circular pattern with an occasional pause on its way coasting through eternity.

First, there’s school. Who doesn’t remember the early morning wake-up calls where parents yell through every corridor of the house and kid grunts and rolls around in bed hoping to grab a few more seconds of shut eye because it feels so damn good in that warm cocoon of a bed.

Now, there’s work. The same morning struggle of getting out of bed remains but the parents are no longer supporting characters in this particular scene. The kid has transformed from a wide-eyed leading roll youngster with a potential case of dimples to a full-on, bill-paying, alcohol-consuming adult who has to wake themselves up in the morning.

A once simple task seems daunting now what with the technological advances of today’s society. Before, your father’s voice in the morning was all the alarm clock needed. Now, a cell phone on vibrate substitutes for the human voice.

How do you know what to wear to work for the day? Before, opening your front door or window helped you gauge the blaze of the heat outside or the frost covering the streets. Now, logging-in to answers all questions including what the weather will look like over the next 10 days.

Technology is man spooning himself information. The constant saturation of junk food-for-thought in cyberspace is enough to crowd the human mind and leave the brain swelling from too much STUFF. Forget physical obesity, our brains are fat enough due to the over saturation of useless information flooding our thoughts. Think about it.

A strong health regiment for the brain is just what people need. A few calisthenics should do the mind a little good. Some newspaper (in print, not online) columns in the morning, a cross word puzzle at lunch, classic or modern novels before bed – these would all help solve obesity of the brain.

This blogger would like to propose an experiment. All Chicago to DC readers, please, I beg you to oblige. Take a risk. Turn off that computer when you get home from work at night. Don’t even bother turning the television on, what good will it do anyway (evening news/post-bad day movies are exceptions to this rule?) Write friends you haven’t seen in awhile a letter instead of a wall post on their Facebook (yes, permission to ask them for their address via a Facebook message is granted for this endeavor.)

Society has lost focus of what’s good. We turn to our mistakes and continue to harp on them. Why not go back to what worked instead of attempting to discover a new alternative? Maybe the best decision we can make for the future is to utilize the past for our benefit. It worked once, it will work again – but we have to try if we want the answers.