Feed me!

This is Robbie, Miiko’s favorite dog. He knows that if he stares at me long enough, I will eventually cave in and feed him bits off my plate. The Dog Whisperer would not approve, but so what?

Easily amused

I ordered a new CD by an indie rock band today and when the shipment confirmation arrived, the length of the email caught my eye. It wasn’t the typical, bland “Your order has shipped” note. It was far more creative.

It read:

Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Wednesday, January 30th.

Just hilarious. Call me gullible or easily amused, but just because of their originality and humor, I went to their Web site again to check out their music catalogue. I’m definitely going to order from them again. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the CD arriving in a tiny, little cardboard box.

Is it spring yet?

I hate this time of year, and I’m not talking about the weather. It’s been nearly three months since the World Series and another two months before the 2008 baseball season starts. I’ve been jonesin’ for baseball big time, so what do I do? Go nuts the last few weeks, buying tickets to six spring training games as teams in the Cactus League open up ticket sales to the public.

About ten years ago, when I flew into Arizona for ballgames in March, I loved lying in the grass beyond the outfield fences and stretching out. But now I’ve become a snob and like to get as close to home plate as possible. And that’s why I love the Milwaukee Brewers. Their fans seemingly never go to their games, so you can always get seats right behind home plate. (Score!)

Two years ago, during the World Baseball Classic, when Team Japan played a practice night game against the Brewers, my brother and I just strolled into the ballpark, bought tickets, and were three rows behind home plate. We were so close to Ichiro on the on-deck circle that we could hear the velcro rip as he put on and adjusted his elbow pad.

Off the field, this offseason provided us another round of mindnumbing steroids news — Barry heading to court, the Mitchell Report, the Congressional hearing and the Clemens saga. We get it. Steroids is bad. Yes, the last 20 years of baseball statistics are a joke. But the sport has tried to clean up its act and instituted stringent testing three years ago, so let’s move on people.

Major League Baseball’s Web site has a countdown to Feb. 14, the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. As I write this, it’s 18 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds.

Play ball, already, dammit.

Year-in-Review Overload

Editors and news directors of the world, please stop the madness. We consumers of mass media can’t open a newspaper, turn on the TV or click on a Web site this week without a year-in-review story. 2007’s Best and Worst Movies! The Top Sports Moments of the Year! A headline on the San Francisco Giants’ Web site reads: “Memories aplenty for Giants in 2007.” (Yes, and they all sucked because the team sucked! I don’t need to see a month-by-month, blow-by-blow account of the team’s worst season in 12 years).

Every section in a newspaper feels a need to do a year-ender. The San Jose Mercury News’ restaurant reviewer even chimes in with “my 10 most memorable meals of the year.” And the Arizona Republic this week felt compelled to remind us that the year’s top local business stories include the lousy housing market and the opening of new shopping centers across the Phoenix metro area. (Why state the obvious? I mean: it’s all still happening and we see it with our own eyes every day. “For Sale” signs litter every neighborhood and houses sit empty for months on end. And, you don’t think we notice that the hundreds of acres of farmland along the freeway are suddenly replaced by a huge Best Buy or Target store?)

At least some enterprising publications are not just regurgitating old news and are trying to put a new spin in their stories. But they, too, have varying degrees of success. (more…)

Hunting for food

I’m a night owl in a state full of morning people. I face that reality every time I go out to eat. Nearly all the restaurants in my bedroom community close at 9 or 10. Anything later and the only options are the big chains. This past Saturday, we were ready for dinner at 10:30 p.m., so we settle for P.F. Chang’s, which closes at midnight. When we walk in, the large dining room is empty, except for two couples, and they are already wrapping up with doggie bags on their tables. We sit down and Miiko says, “We’re living Manhattan hours in Arizona.” So true. The night before we strolled into The Cheesecake Factory at 11:10 p.m.

I used to complain about the lack of restaurant options after 10 p.m. in Arizona. But it’s partly because we’ve romanticized the Bay Area. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time back home the last few months, and realized – or reacquainted ourselves with the fact – that many Bay Area restaurants close up shop early, too. Upon further reflection, there’s perks to late-night dining in Arizona. We’re always one of the few customers. We get excellent service and the food arrives fast.