Mediocre Fred's Mediocre Blog
Thursday, July 31, 2003
  Programming note: Tomorrow I'll dissect the trading-deadline deals and, if I'm feeling frisky, maybe even issue another one of my political non-opinions. We'll see if the spirit moves me. Until then, stay safe and stay dry. 
  Today's Musical Selection: "The Kid is Hot Tonight" by Loverboy

DONTRELLE DONTRELLE BO BONTRELLE, BANANA FANNA FO FONTRELLE, FEE FI MO MONTRELLE

Okay, this is a stupid title, and I apologize. But it was either that or yet another take-off on "Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?" and I'm sure you're as sick of that as I am. Inanity trumps cliche any day, in my book.

Last night, I happened to catch Dontrelle Willis outdueling Randy Johnson on ESPN. My initial reaction was disappointment, because Johnson is on my cellar-dwelling fantasy team and I could really use a win. But soon enough my petty disappointment was swept aside, and the sheer marvel of watching Willis work took over. And judging by the number of articles in praise of him lately, I'm hardly the only person to fall under the Dontrelle Spell. But what, exactly, makes Dontrelle so special? Why is he taking the country by storm, as opposed to, say, Arizona's Brandon Webb, another rookie pitcher having a fine year, but with much less fanfare? I thought I'd go a little deeper and see if I could get at the roots of Dontrelle Mania. Why do we love him so? Consider the following:

1. He seemingly came from nowhere. This is a key aspect of the true phenom, the sense that he suddenly descended from the heavens to shoot thunderbolts for our amusement. And between the Internet and fantasy-league obsessiveness, almost no one flies under the radar like that anymore. If a player shows even the slightest hint of future stardom, his exploits are tracked pretty much from T-ball onward. For instance, take Rocco Baldelli of Tampa Bay. He's a rookie, he's made a splash, and he's fun to watch (all the more so because he seems like a nice kid). But anyone who paid even occasional attention last year heard all about Baldelli's romp through the minor leagues. Hell, Peter Gammons tabbed this kid as something special back in the Cape Cod League. Other sports are just as phenom-resistent. Need an example? LeBron James. (If you haven't heard of him, please e-mail me and let me know if you're subletting space in that rock you've been living under.) But Dontrelle didn't come up amidst a lot of fanfare. In fact, he practically snuck on the scene in midseason, brought on to try to patch up the Marlins' sputtering staff. So far, I'd have to say he's done a decent job of that.

2. He's the best player the Marlins have. While this isn't a requirement for phenom status (Fernando Valenzuela was hardly the only star in the Dodger constellation of the early '80s), it certainly helps. Take the aforementioned Webb. Good kid, great year, great job keeping the Diamondbacks afloat while Johnson and Schilling were out. But when you think of Arizona, do you think of Brandon Webb? Of course not. You think of the Dynamic Duo. But when you think of Florida, who do you think of? Mark Redman? Juan Pierre? Nope, it's Dontrelle all the way. If he keeps this up, he may displace humidity and political corruption in people's minds when they think of Miami.

3. He's got a distinct style. Okay, is there anyone outside of Phoenix who can imitate Brandon Webb's pitching motion? No? Is there anyone outside of Tampa bay who can mimic Rocco Baldelli's stance? Didn't think so. But how many of us can imitate Dontrelle's funky-jerky windup/delivery (or could, if we could lift our legs that high)? Dontrelle's motion is his signature. Like Luis Tiant or Hideo Nomo, he's one of a kind. If you happen to channel-surf past Sportscenter and catch even a glimpse of that wacky motion, you know instantly who it is. As an added bonus, Dontrelle looks like he was born to wear the Marlins' teal-and-black. A lot of players aren't really suited for that look (paging Al Leiter...), but it's just right for Willis. The right man in the right place at the right time.

4. He carries himself like a pro, but with a kid's enthusiasm. In the modern media age, you'd better be ready for prime time in a hurry. If you seem even a bit ill-at-ease or snappish in front of the cameras, the media will tear you to shreds, no matter how good you are. Ask Barry Bonds, who treats the media with all the warmth and friendliness of Oscar the Grouch, only less cuddly. Dontrelle, on the other hand, is cool, classy, humble and playful all at the same time. Take his quote after last night's contest: "If you're not a fan of baseball watching that game, you're not going to be a fan. It was just fun to watch." No chest-thumping, no insincere invocation of deities who apparently rule over the results of sporting contests, no profanity, no slamming a reporter's fingers in a car door. Sure he's pointing out (slyly) that he pitched a hell of a game, but notice what's missing? The almighty "I." Dontrelle loves baseball as a fan, and that's appealing as hell. For another example, take his appearance at this year's Home Run Derby. He laughed and kidded with Chris Berman, talked about how thrilled he was to be at the game, and shouted "Whoa!" like a fan when someone hit a particularly neck-snapping shot. By contrast, Alex Rodriguez (who was also there) was smooth, well-spoken, witty... but also subdued and calm, like the image-conscious commercial pitchman that he is. Dontrelle's having too much fun to worry about his marketability, and bless him for it. In an age of athletes who are either dull and self-conscious or surly and vulgar, Dontrelle stands out as a prince.

5. He's black. Let's be honest: Black pitchers in today's game are as rare as umpires with consistent strike zones. Young black athletes are flocking to football and basketball, and as a result, baseball's fan base is starting to resemble the membership of Thurston Howell's yacht club. Dontrelle is athletic enough that he could have played another sport if he wanted, but he loves baseball, so he wants to play it. For a fan, this is a breah of fresh air. For MLB, this could be what saves the sport from future irrelevance.

6. He has a really cool name. Don't discount this factor. Would Babe Ruth be quite such a mythical figure if he'd kept his given name, George? "Dontrelle Willis" is an awesome name. I wish my name was "Dontrelle Willis." Which sounds cooler: "Hey, are you watching the Arizona game? Webb's going tonight" or "Hey, turn on the Marlins game. Dontrelle's going tonight"? I rest my case. It's a fun name to say, and that never hurts your status as an icon.

7. The fans and the team love him. Dontrelle may be on the verge of singlehandedly rescuing the Marlins, who've really been circling the bowl ever since the '98 fire sale. Sure, the Marlins are a young and hustling (if somewhat anonymous) team, but if recent history has proved anything, it's that young and hustling (if somewhat anonymous) teams are about as appealing to the average fan as a case of the Ebola virus. Dontrelle, on the other hand, creates buzz and glamour, something to root for. Don't take my word for it; last night's game, on a Wednesday, sold 37,000 tickets, two-and-a-half times the Marlins' usual attendance. Yes, two-and-a-half times. And his team seems to love Dontrelle just as much as the fans. After departing yesterday's game, ESPN panned the Marlins dugout, where the team gathered around to shower Dontrelle with real affection. Ivan Rodriguez even hugged him, which I thought was sweet. Is it a coincidence that the Marlins have catapulted into the wild-card race ever since Dontrelle appeared on the scene? I think not. He gives them a focal point, an identity, even a little swagger. Which is more than you can say for Derrek Lee, no offense intended.

Is Dontrelle the future of the game? Sadly, I don't know. He could blow out his arm next year. But let's all pray that the next generation of stars is as charismatic, accessible and exciting as Dontrelle. For a sport whose public face has all too often been Bud Selig and Don Fehr arguing over who gets the last cruller at the next press conference, baseball could stand to have everyone fall under the Dontrelle Spell. Spread the word. The future is now. 
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
  Today's Musical Selection: "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful

SUMMERTIME, AND THE LIVIN' IS... STICKY

Feeling a little foggy today, so I think I'll just expound on a subject with which I've suffered my whole life: D.C. summers. I have a great deal of Nordic blood coursing through my veins, so I have a naturally high tolerance for cold weather. While the rest of the Fedroplex was cursing under its breath last Presidents' Day as we were hammered by two feet of snow, I was merrily skipping about, freeing stuck cars, pelting helpless children with snowballs and trying with little success to organize baseball games. Winter suits me fine.

But summer... it's just awful. First of all, it's just too damn hot. Humankind was not equipped for temperatures over 90 degrees. (No matter what Dusty Baker says.) The energy leeches out of you along with your sweat, as the unceasing, ruthless sun does its best to turn you into a raisin. The day sucks you dry, and as soon as you can you reach for a tall, cold water, pour it down... and then start cramping up because you drank too fast, you fool. Sweaty, gasping, doubled-over misery: that's what summer means to me.

And then there's the sunburn. Remember that Nordic blood I was telling you about? As one might expect, my heritage has left me with the complexion of Casper the Friendly Ghost. I'm about two shades south of albino. The sun regards me the way a jackal regards a fresh-killed zebra carcass lying untended in the middle of the Sahara. When I head outside, I can hear the sun licking its chops. Three weeks ago, I attended an afternoon ballgame. That went ten innings. From the grandstand. By the time I made my way back to my car, I looked like a Mr. Melanoma action figure. I can still see the burn lines on my arms. (Yes, yes, I know, sunscreen blah blah blah. I was never inducted into the Sunscreen Cult as a kid, and I'm not going to start now. I'd rather look like a lobster than smell like a baby-oil factory.)

These elements of summer are pretty standard fare throughout the country. But the Eastern Seaboard, and especially the Washington area, adds another devilish ingredient: humidity. Humidity is the bane of my summer existence. In Phoenix, for instance, it may be 120 degrees and you turn into human jerky the minute you step outside, but at least you can stand in the shade and perhaps buy yourself an extra couple minutes before you shrivel up and die. In Washington, you can stand in the shade and it doesn't make a bit of difference. The air follows you wherever you go. It's like living in a sauna. You feel like you're wading from place to place. Your clothes stick to you. You mow the lawn and the grass sticks to you. You sit in your car and stick to the seats. In Washington in the summer, you are one giant Post-It Note.

And then there's the gnats. I am convinced that I must have saved the gnats from extinction in some previous life, because wherever I go during the summer, they regard me as a deity come down to earth. They flock to me the minute I step outside, buzzing around my head, flying in my eyes, begging for autographs. Wherever I try to turn, they anticipate my motion and get there ahead of me. I wind up with a giant boiling gnat cloud encircling my head, which makes me feel like Pig Pen. (Yes, yes, I know, bug spray blah blah blah. They tried to indoctrinate me in the Bug Spray Cult as a kid, but the sweat always made it run into my eyes and besides, I don't want to smell like a giant citronella candle either.)

So, that's my image of summer: sweaty, gasping, doubled-over, burnt to a crisp, surrounded by worshipping gnats, eyes stinging, covered in grass and cat hair and dust and the sheer, unbridled misery of knowing that decent weather is still months away. Sign me up for that!

And yet, in our culture, we have created this insane mythology about what a wondrous season summer is, a time of carefree laughs and catching fireflies and drinking Country Time Lemonade in between bites of your Ball Park All-Beef Hot Dog. What is wrong with our culture? Why must we celebrate the Season of Suffering as if it were some sort of gift handed down from on high by a just and generous god? Let me briefly examine some of the supposed virtues of summer, and explain why they're not all they're cracked up to be.

The beach: Ah, the centerpiece of the summer myth. High times, laughing and swimming and lounging in the sun and walking on the boardwalk with your best girl (or guy). What a crock. Swimming does tend to cool you off, at the expense of inhaling considerable quantities of salt water. Given my complexion, lounging in the sun in my swim trunks is essentially the equivalent of jumping directly into a blast furnace. People-watching can be enjoyable, sure, but ever notice how the hot bodies in all the beach-based commercials never show up at your beach? Of course not! Attractive people are sick and tired of being exposed to the leers and wolf-whistles of slobs such as yourself. They congregate at private, "Attractive People Only" beaches, where they can frolic and shoot commercials surrounded by their fellow demi-gods. As for the boardwalk, that stuff went out 40 years ago. Now you're lucky if you can find a broken-down shooting gallery that, if it weren't rigged, might offer you the chance to win your best girl (or guy) a dingy, mildewed teddy bear. Feh.

Cookouts: Now, don't get me wrong: I enjoy grilled, sauce-slathered meat as much as the next guy. But it strikes me as the height of masochism to fight back against the miserable, hot summer by standing in front of an even hotter grill, squinting into the flaming embers and trying to distinguish the fine differences between medium-rare and charcoal briquette, then sit down and try to fight off the cavalcade of bugs that invariably crash the party as you're sitting down to eat. The primal allure of throwing slabs of meat onto a column of flame just isn't worth it.

Vacations: Har-de-har-har. I think this is how they rope us into buying the summer myth in the first place: they give young children a couple school-free months in July and August, and the kids (not knowing any better) confuse their feelings for the season itself with their unrestrained glee at being free of required reading and fidgeting behind desks and pop quizzes on the Treaty of Ghent. This is all well and good until they dump you, unceremoniously and head-first, into what they cheerfully call "the real world," where you don't get to take July and August off to go run in the sprinklers and shoplift candy. And yet, nostalgia-oriented commercials still give us these soft-focus shots of kids running footloose on vacation, despite the fact that these commercials always strike me as cruelly taunting us with our lost youth. Go figure.

The slower pace of life: Double har-de-har-har. I'm sure this was true, once. But now, what with developments in mass transportation and air-conditioning (a godsend without which I would surely long since have moved, at minimum, to the Arctic Circle), the pell-mell pace of our existence can continue no matter what the weather. Just for fun, I affected a Southern accent and asked my boss, "Surely, sir, no reasonable man can be expected to put in a full day's work in this beastly awful weather. What say we knock off at 3 and repair to the diner and order some sweet tea?" My boss stared at me and replied, "The assignment's still due Friday." So I sighed, shrugged and returned to typing this post. Take that, Working World!

Baseball: Now we're getting into it. My President's Day adventures convinced me that baseball is definitely a summertime sport. But let's be honest... the games are a lot more pleasant to go to at night, when the scoreboard isn't wavering before your eyes and you can focus on the game, rather than on whether the lemonade man is going to make it back to your section before you collapse of heat exhaustion. Don't believe me? Ask my burn lines.

Summertime smells: Okay, I'll grant, there is something a little intoxicating about the heady combination of cut grass, burning meat, swimming-pool chlorine and eggs frying on the sidewalk. But if you've been indoctrinated into either the Sunblock or the Bug Spray Cult, you can't smell anything other than yourself. And if you haven't, well... it's a lot easier to smell things without columns of adoring gnats clogging your nostrils.

Fourth of July: America's Birthday, the high holiday of the summer season. Parades, bands, picnics, and, most of all, bombs bursting in air, which satisfies our primal urge for light, color and explosions. Of course, you can get light, color and explosions any time you want by renting any of the Lethal Weapon movies. And the rest of it neatly combines the disadvantages of cookouts and daytime ballgames. I'll stick with Thanksgiving, if you don't mind.

I believe my point is made. Summer worship is a fraud, a myth cooked up by makers of summer-oriented products, in order to lure you, foolishly, out of the house and into the loving arms of the Summer-Industrial Complex. (Where do you think Daylight Savings Time came from? Bingo. The same people who are still peddling you powdered lemonade and sunblock.) So buy into the myth if you want. Set up your hammock, mix up some sweet tea, lean back and catch a ballgame on the radio. Have fun. I'll be inside, in my air-conditioned apartment, looking for my woolen mittens and praying for another blizzard. (Not from Dairy Queen, either.)

Howie Kurtz takes a stab at explaining the results of the poll on attitudes toward homosexuality I showed you yesterday, and his explanations sounds... strangely like mine, minus the smirkiness. (I'm sure he came up with his explanation himself, of course, and it looks like he actually put a bit of thought into it, unlike me. But still. Is Mediocre Fred ahead of the curve? We report, you decide.)

Many thanks to The Smart Lady for getting the comments feature working for me. Now you, The Reader, can tell me exactly what you think of my nonsense, in real time! Who knows? If you say something especially cogent, I may post it on the main page for all to enjoy. As you've probably gathered by now, The Smart Lady is the only reason this site has any hope of achieving true mediocrity, so if you like anything you see here, she deserves the credit. Anything you don't like, on the other hand, is entirely due to my lack of talent. So, thanks again, Smart Lady. I hope this was a good idea. See you tomorrow, gang. Tally-ho!

Quote of the Day
"You don't like these ideas? I got others."
-Marshall McLuhan 
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
  Correction: My e-mail address is mediocrefred1979@yahoo.com, not mediocrefred@yahoo.com. All the panting masses who are dying to comment, please take note. 
  Tonight's Musical Selection: "Centerfield" by John Fogerty

(Note on Musical Selections: I'm something of a musical soul, and as a result I usually have a song playing either on my stereo or in my head while I compose these little gems. I figured I might as well let you know what's playing. If you play the song as you read, perhaps my writings will make more sense. But I wouldn't count on it. If you don't share my musical tastes, feel free to ignore my selections.)

BASEBALL IN DC: THE MEDIOCRE FRED CRUSADE

This may be stunning to you, The Reader, but Mediocre Fred does actually believe in a few things. One of them is the fact that major-league baseball belongs in Washington, DC. Now you, The Reader, may well be saying: "Wait a second. That sounds suspiciously like an opinion. Don't you guys have the Orioles?" Well, allow me to digress a moment into the difference between opinions and facts. For instance, this is a fact:

Washington is not Baltimore.

This is a fact, because it is verifiable. Look at any map, and (assuming it is a map of the United States) you will be able to notice that Washington and Baltimore are discrete geographical entities. Therefore, it is a fact. On the other hand, "Orioles owner Peter Angelos is the handmaiden of Satan" is an opinion, since it is not verifiable, despite strong circumstantial evidence to that effect. Unless someone is able to track down the Prince of Darkness and ask (and as of this writing, Satan has not returned my calls), we don't have a solid fact. In this argument, I am going to attempt to the facts.
In this case, the salient fact concerns the Montreal Expos, currently being operated as a ward of the state by Bud Selig's Band of Merry Men. Previously, they were owned by Jeffrey Loria, who has many human-like qualities, executive competence unfortunately not being one. Loria generally ran the franchise as though he was being paid a bonus for each empty seat at Olympic Stadium. Major League Baseball, shrewdly recognizing a problematic situation, quickly moved to take the Expos away from Loria, so that they could hand him an entirely different franchise (the Florida Marlins) to ruin. This left MLB holding the bag, so to speak, stuck with an Expos franchise that was losing money at an alarming rate. Once again demonstrating the quick-thinking management skills that brought us the '94 strike, they did... absolutely nothing for an entire year. This year, deciding that the city of Montreal was the obvious problem with the team, MLB moved a chunk of the Expos' "home" schedule to San Juan, Puerto Rico, a lovely baseball-mad city without anything resembling a major-league facility to play in. (Hiram Bithorn Stadium, where the Expos play in San Juan, is roughly half the capacity of a normal major-league stadium and has fence distances normally associated with Little League.) Curiously enough, the franchise is still losing money, and Bud's Merry Men look like they might finally be ready to get rid of the Expos and land them in a real, permanent home. There are several cities on the presumed "short list," and I'll run through their merits and demerits here:

WASHINGTON, DC
Pluses: Vibrant, diverse, international city. Metropolitan population over 4 million, making it easily the largest market without a professional baseball team. One of the highest per-capita incomes in the nation. Little to no risk of Mayor-for-Life Marion "Bitch Set Me Up" Barry returning to the political scene. Plus, we've become accustomed to losing teams, so what's one more?
Minuses: Peter Antichrist has sworn undying opposition to put a team in "his market," which is entirely reasonable. After all, the last time I checked, the Baltimore city limits did extend well into North Carolina. Also, there's the minor matter of effervescent DC Councilman Jack Evans, who recently informed MLB that they could take its team and "stick it where the sun don't shine" unless they played the game Evans' way. We should all be thankful that Councilman Evans isn't going on any diplomatic missions to North Korea anytime soon.

NORTHERN VIRGINIA
Pluses: If they do it right, this could be the best of all worlds: a stadium in an urban setting, at or near the riverfront, with a great view of the monuments, right on a Metro line, with access to the NoVa noveau riche and farther away from the Orioles' "market."
Minuses: There's no way in hell they're going to do this right. Arlington County, home to most of the quality site, informed the Virginia baseball authority that it wanted no part of a stadium. This comes on the heels of Fairfax County, home to the next-best site, informing the authority that it wanted no part of a stadium either. At this rate, the only stadium site left will be Miss Hathaway's cow pasture in Harpers Ferry, accessible only by horse and buggy.

PORTLAND, ORE.
Pluses: A growing, pleasant city with relatively little competition for the sporting dollar. Also, at least so far, Peter Angelos has not attempted to claim Portland as part of the Orioles' market.
Minuses: Not nearly as big as Washington, plus their stadium funding plan seems to consist pretty much of waiting for $350 million to fall out of a passing plane onto the steps of City Hall.

SAN JUAN
Pluses: Planted thick with smart, passionate baseball fans. Also, theoretically "international" market, which carries a lot of weight with Commissioner Bud, who has realized that baseball's future rests on finding new countries to alienate.
Minuses: Not exactly planted thick with the well-heeled individuals and corporate base necessary to ustain a sports team in the Age of the Almighty Dollar. Also, "San Juan Expos" is Spanish for "Tampa Bay Devil Rays."

MONTREAL
Pluses: They already have the team. Kind of. Technically. And they have an existing stadium. Kind of. Technically.
Minuses: A solid decade of receiving a big fat bird from the folks in charge has reduced the fan base down to about 50 people. Also, poutine is so fattening.

Based on the above analysis, it seems clear to me that if we can just lock Angelos and Councilman Evans in a closet together, the road will be clear for baseball to return back to the nation's capital. So, Commissioner Bud, if you're reading this... I'd be greatly surprised.
If you, The Reader, want to get involved, click here. Take care, and talk to you tomorrow.

Technical note: I plan to have a comment feature on here, but I haven't gotten it working yet. I plan to ask The Smart Lady about it soon, but until then, send all comments, concerns, and verbal abuse to mediocrefred1979@yahoo.com. 
  AMERICA THE CHEERFULLY CONFUSED

Hey, look, it's my first link! A fairly interesting poll reported in USA TODAY:

Americans have become significantly less accepting of homosexuality since a Supreme Court decision that was hailed as clearing the way for new gay civil rights, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll has found. After several years of growing tolerance, the survey shows a return to a level of more traditional attitudes last seen in the mid-1990s.
Asked whether same-sex relations between consenting adults should be legal, 48% said yes; 46% said no. Before this month, support hadn't been that low since 1996.

Well, now. There's certainly grist for opinion here. Rightish bloggers would probably suggest that this proves that, at heart, the American public is far more traditional than those far-out hippy-dippy liberal libertines would have you believe, and that the public is reacting to the collapse of the culture into decadence. Leftish bloggers would probably argue that any forward progress inevitably meets with a backlash as old paradigms are torn asunder, and that in time the true American attitudes will come out as support returns to the previous levels. But I don't truck in opinions here, as I mentioned yesterday, so my take is one of mild amusement.
This poll is a perfect example of the American tendency to support advancements in rights for minority groups -- hey, this is the land of the free, right? -- right up until the point when it appears that said minorities actually might start receiving those rights. This is the same mindset that causes Americans to support balanced budgets -- hey, fiscal responsibility is good, right? -- right up until the point when it becomes clear that actually balancing the budget would require either tax increases (Hiss! Bad! Bad!) or cuts in spending on programs that benefit the poll respondent (Uh oh... so the budget can't just be balanced on the backs of people I don't much like anyway? Boo!). This creates quite a dilemma for the conscientious politician, since voters also don't like being told that they're unreasonable morons. Is it any wonder that political advertising these days pretty much consists of the following: "Senator Blutarsky says he's against murder, but if that's true, why were there 4,500 murders committed in his state in the last year alone? Senator Blutarsky says he didn't commit any of those murders, but can you really trust him?" There's definitely no percentage in having verifiable stands on any major political issue, not if you want to be re-elected. (Mediocre Fred has suddenly realized that perhaps this blog could be a stepping stone to political office after all...)
That's all for now. Oh, and by the way, since I'm going to be mentioning The Smart Lady a lot, allow me to shamelessly plug her blog. (WARNING: The preceding link contains actual opinions. Consult your physician before clicking this link. Discontinue reading if a rash occurs.) You may not agree with her all the time, but I guarantee she'll make you think (and since I don't intend to, I feel morally obligated to link to someone who will). Just trust me. The Smart Lady rules. The Smart Lady is the cat's pajamas. Talk to you again this evening, if I'm not face-first in my spaghetti carbonara by then (I've been courting death with my sleep habits the last few days, and I expect it all to come back to haunt me any time now.) Peace. 
Monday, July 28, 2003
  OH, GOD, NOT ANOTHER BLOG.

Yes, yes, yet another Bright Young Hope For Our Future has decided that his opinions are simply so incisive and unique that he simply must share them with the world. Stop cringing. But if I am intent on foisting this... unique incisiveness upon you, The Reader, it would only be fair if I attempted to explain myself, where I'm coming from and so forth. So, allow me to engage in that most pompous of conceits, the fake self-interview, aka Frequently Asked Questions. (And yes, the next person to ask them will be the first, so I don't suppose they're actually "frequent." So sue me.)

So, who the hell do you think you are?

Good question. I'm a 24-year-old wage slave from the formless suburbs of Washington, DC, living in the shadow of Dot-Com Canyon. I studied English and Economics at the University of Virginia, a fine and august institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, the expansion of the frontiers of human knowledge, and the consumption of a great deal of fermented-grain beverages. I enjoy baseball, classic rock music, good literature, and long walks in the woods. I'm beautiful but stupid. And I'm left-handed. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

So, why should we care about your opinions?

Ah, see now, that's the beauty part of this whole endeavor. The way I figure it, you can go pretty much anywhere and get opinions on any range of hot-button issue, from abortion to Zaire and everything in between. (Is Zaire still a hot-button issue? Probably not, but you try coming up with an issue that starts with Z.) And given that, I see no reason why any reasonable person would want to listen to my opinions. So I'm going to do things differently. I'm not going to express opinions on things. I consider it my goal here to make sure that you, The Reader, have an oasis of indifference in a violent sea of passionately-held feelings and meaningful arguments. Have you ever had that friend who, when tempers rise and voices get heated in the room, kind of withdraws into the corner and nods politely, hoping all the while that there won't be any bloodshed? That's me! I'm your friend. If I say something you don't agree with, I promise it won't be about anything important.

So why the hell should we read your stupid blog?

You shouldn't. No, really, I see no reason why you should. I'll certainly attempt to be at least a bit entertaining or thoughtful, since I imagine I owe you, The Reader, something for expending the back-breaking effort of entering this URL into your browser. But I don't have any idea yet how I'll accomplish that goal. If I think of something, I'll let you know.

So what's the blog going to be about?

Well, I imagine I'll make some reference to the major political issues of the day, because I can't help myself. I'll pontificate on my lack of a strong opinion about said subjects. I may even link to people with actual opinions, if they seem intelligent. I promise I'll warn you, though, if I'm about to send you back out into the harsh world of actual opinion, so that you can avoid it if you want. Beyond that, if I notice something in the course of my day that seems worthy of note, I'll probably mention it. Also, I have some writing projects I'm working on, and I'll probably post those if they amount to anything. No promises, though.

Who is Mediocre Fred?

"Mediocre Fred" is the title of a song by the Smothers Brothers, a couple of comedic singers from the '60s. The first verse goes like this:

There once was a man who was none too good
But then I'd say he's none too bad
Times he was mighty good for a spell
And times he'd go out and he'd raise a little hell

That's pretty much my life credo right there.

Okay, enough questions. How about we go get a beer?

Okay, but you're buying.

That about wraps up my introduction. If I think of more Questions that might be Frequently Asked, I'll post an addendum to this later on. I'd like to welcome you, The Reader, to the Mediocre Experience. Thanks to Blogger for the software that enabled me to broadcast my barbaric yawp, to my parents for deciding to have children, to God and the Academy and to all the little people I stepped over to reach the heights I have. Most of all, thanks to The Smart Lady Who Sometimes Keeps Company With Me, for encouraging me to do this. I don't know if this was a good idea, but I wouldn't have done it without you. (Fair warning: The Smart Lady is going to show up a lot in here. She has opinions. But they're smart ones.) Ta-ta for now. 
Valium for the soul. Don't worry, none of those pesky strong opinions here. All are welcome. No shirt, no shoes, no service.

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My Distinguished Colleagues

ARCHIVES
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 /


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