Monday, June 29, 2009

Needed: Ideas for a road trip... You can make a difference.

As those with sharp eyes (read: people who can read and comprehend the blatantly obvious) may have gathered from recent Writings, I've been a bit busy lately. Unfortunately for the author, "lately" will also extend for the next 12 days. (Not that anyone is counting.) Nonetheless, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. That light, although it seems as dim as a penlight in a spelunking expedition right now, is still putting forth a tiny glow. That tiny glow represents the vacation I'll take later this summer.

Currently*, the plan is to hit the road and take a trip to check out some new locales. Unfortunately, I don't really have any good ideas as to where to go. Big cities are out of the running, as it seems that visiting the sites of a big city would be better suited for traveling with a companion. (That, and I drive like a cataract-suffering grandmother in heavy rush-hour traffic.) Traveling to Cooperstown to visit that Baseball Hall of Fame is also a no-go, as that is a trip being saved for another occasion. I have been to Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado on many occasions, and therefore must also eliminate them from road-trip consideration. I won't drive to Canada, as I will not consider having to adhere to the metric system two summers in a row. I also refuse to consider going anywhere overseas... You see, this is a road trip, and I'm fairly confident my car will not stay buoyant enough to float across the ocean. 

*"Currently" could transform into "formerly, should fuel prices rise to the point that one cringes at the thought of filling their gas tank.

As you can tell by now, I really have no direction (literally and figuratively) concerning where I should travel on this trip. This is where you come in, oh valued reader. Delve into the deepest crevices of your mind and suggest a potential stopping point for the DLRT09*. You can suggest a state, a city, a small town, a tourist trap, a restaurant, a relative you would like a message delivered to, a trip theme, a list of roads to avoid, the number of miles I should drive with my eyes shut... You can pretty much suggest anything.

*Derek Larson Road Trip '09... It's the best I can name the trip without an actual destination in mind. It was either that, or "The Quest to Locate Some Semblance of Sense."

My hope is that the trip will provide plenty of material for a blog that has been severely neglected in recent weeks. It may not admit that its feelings have been hurt, but the fact that it's been playing Boyz II Men's "Water Runs Dry"* on a loop lately has me thinking something might wrong. It puts up a tough front, but in reality it's a very fragile blog. It seems that a cross-country trip where I'm sure to encounter "people in your neighborhood" and plenty of "things I don't understand," may be just what is needed to get things around here clicking again.

*Most optimistic estimate - This reference will confuse all but about three people that might read it. Hopefully, those three people appreciate it.

If you have any roadtrip ideas whatsoever, pass them along... Not for me. For The Writings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rooting for Fall

Usually, we at The Writings try to keep things lighthearted. We poke fun at life's quirks. We make light of all we encounter. We even back waterfowl for the country's highest office, despite knowledge that a duck would never be able to carry states where hunting is popular. Such shenanigans are typical business around here. Not today. Today is different. Today is the day The Writings takes a firm stance on an important issue.

Henceforth, The Writings shall be known as a blog that is firmly anti-summer.

That's right, I've had it with summer. What good comes from a season where the weather is so hot that one perspires just thinking of going outside? The temperatures in Kansas have been so sweltering lately that I'm fairly confident area hotels are going to start advertising their parking lots as saunas.

This staunch anti-summer attitude also stems from the fact that the author's workload increases exponentially in the year's sixth and seventh months. Apparently the only reason days get longer during this period is so one can spend more time behind his desk.

Sure, some might argue that someone who enjoys baseball as much as I do should love the summer months. If I had time to get to any games, I might agree. As things currently stand, I still am unsure whether Kauffman Stadium was actually renovated or whether the Royals are playing televised home games in front of a large green screen.

Now you might be wondering how one can commit to an anti-summer agenda when they only support their stance two reasons. Personally, I think the fact that my windows may very well be melting and that I've been too busy lately to buy a jug of milk should be enough, but I'm prepared to give my argument further backing.

What season finds you continually swatting at mosquitos in the evening, and leaves you feeling itchy enough to seriously consider diving into a thornbush the next day?

What is the only season where, when out in public, the wardrobe decisions of others continually remind you that God created very few perfect bodies?

What season sees you continually retreating to the shelter of a basement in anticipation of severe weather?

What season gives people who have no business anywhere near explosives the chance to embrace their inner pyromaniac, leaving house pets everywhere terrified?

What season finds television networks trying to pass off knockoffs of Japanese game shows as "must-see" programming?

The answer to all these questions, my friends, is summer. I'm sorry, but summer stinks.

**** Please note: The author reserves the right to turn his back on this stance when August arrives and he has the chance to take a vacation.****

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hey, an update... Amazing.

According to the band Sublime, "the living's easy" in summertime. This may come as a shock to many, but it seems the members of Sublime never worked my job, where my schedule has gotten considerably more busy with the arrival of summer. Nevertheless, I refuse to let a hectic schedule serve as an excuse for neglecting The Writings. (Other than, you know, earlier in this paragraph when I basically tried to use that excuse.) Anyway, what follows is yet another collection of random thought, which, if tangible, would probably pump through my veins.


Remember the scene in the movie Anchorman where Ron Burgandy reacts to Veronica Corningstone's statement that she wants to be a news anchor by yelling out in disbelief, "I thought you were joking"? I keep waiting for Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress to admit this to Brett Favre. After all we have been put through with the continued (and continued... and continued...) media coverage of another possible Favre comeback, wouldn't that be the perfect ending to this story? Favre could show up to the first day of the Vikings' training camp, only to see Sage Rosenfels taking snaps with the first team. Favre would then confront Childress, with the two jawing back and forth. Finally, the conversation would close in the following fashion.

Favre: ...but I told you I wanted to be the Vikings' starting quarterback.
Childress (by this point, also fed up with the fact that the only story surrounding his team involves a 39-year-old quarterback that threw as many interceptions as touchdowns the season before): I thought you were joking! I even wrote about it in my diary. "Brett had a very funny joke today." ... I laughed about it later that night!

A dignified way to close a Hall of Fame career? No. But is the current "I like you. If you like me circle 'yes'" flirtation much better?


It's well documented that I have an abominable history when it comes to making accurate predictions. It's so bad, that I'm fairly confident that if I had been around to predict a victory for the colonies in the Revolutionary War, we'd all be enjoying a lot more tea and playing a lot more cricket. With in accurate predictions being my forte, I was rather astonished (and then enraged, but then more astonished) when an event I wrote about a week ago actually materialized the following night.

You may have seen it by now, but if not, have a look. The Indians topped the Royals, thanks in part* to hot ground ball playing tag with an unfortunate seagull. In watching the clip, pay particular attention to the commentary by the Indians' announcers. Upon discovering that the baseball clocked the bird, they laugh like most folks do when they see one of the 37 groin shots shown in every episode of America's Funniest Home Videos. It's a laugh that almost seems diabolical. While the initial question on my mind was how the Royals could be so unfortunate that they lose a game on a seagull aided play, the big question occupying my thoughts now is whether that Indians commentator has a personal history with sea birds that makes him have hostility toward them. Did a flock of seagulls** attack his family when he was young? Is he actually a supervillain that is continually thwarted by a hero called Gullman?

*"In part" because Coco Crisp, who hasn't practiced fielding balls of members of the gull family nearly enough, isn't exactly known for having a strong throwing arm, and was also playing with a sore shoulder that now has him on the disabled list... It might have been rough getting DeRosa at the plate.

**Again, not the band... Although, again, that might be a more entertaining thought.


Big news recently is the revelation that you can now have a username on Facebook. As itself touts it, "Easily direct friends, family, and coworkers to your profile with a Facebook username."

Personally, I'm thrilled that usernames are now a part of Facebook. After all, it was such a chore directing my friends, family, and coworkers to the bevy of useful information contained in my Facebook profile by providing them with nothing to search for buy my actual name. Who can remember the full name of a friend, family member, or coworker, anyway? I hear it's a documented fact that most people are lucky to remember anything more than the first syllable of the first name if they haven't known someone for over four years. Good luck searching for my Facebook profile when you only have "Der" to search for.*

*This paragraph brought to you by the "No, seriously, this whole username idea is absurd. Do you really want to open Facebook to names like 'BigPlayaBallaPimp69'? Redact it while you still can" Foundation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Field Advantage?

It's the bottom of the seventh inning in Cleveland, and a flock of seagulls is attempting to take Progressive Field by force. (To avoid any confusion, please note that I speak of an actual flock of seagulls, not the 80s rock band of that name... Although that would infinitely more terrifying.) As the Royals move close to winning (yes, I said winning) in Cleveland, these sea birds are gathering in the outfield like it's some sort of garbage barge. (There you go, Cleveland. If you choose to change the name of your stadium, you can always use Garbage Barge Field. I won't even need credit for it.)

These birds, it seems, enjoy flirting with disaster. Haven't they seen what can happen to the feathered sort on a baseball field?

As they flap, swoop, and do whatever else seagulls do (I have seen no evidence of defecation, but there was a woman wearing a game program on her head... Draw your own conclusions.), I have begun to wonder if someone from the Indians organization may have lured them to the field with the purpose of providing a little extra advantage for the home team. Much like the Red Sox gain an advantage by learning the best ways to field hits off the Green Monster, the Indians could be working on studying trajectories of hits that deflect of winged creatures. It makes perfect sense.

If such is the case, and the Indians (aside from tonight... and most other nights this season, since they now have the worst record in the American League... just ignore such "facts" as they really put a crimp in this hypothetical situation) are earning a competitive advantage by luring seagulls to their ballpark, I think it's only fair that other MLB teams have an opportunity to follow suit. Imagine if, instead of seagulls, the Yankees and Mets were able to lure hordes of angry New Yorkers down onto the field to push and curse at opposing players. What if the Detroit Tigers could take cars from area motor plants and allow them to be test driven in the Comerica Park outfield. The Milwaukee Brewers have beer vendors patrol the opposing dugout in attempt to get the opposing players and manager inebriated by the fifth inning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks could embrace their desert locale, planting cacti in the infield and allowing desert wildlife - from rattlesnakes to coyotes - to have free reign on the field. Such changes could even attract a few more fans to the game, as the very fact that you recognize the name Steve-o gives great credence to the idea that people enjoy watching others hurt themselves.

The question remains, with ideas for other franchises, what would I suggest the Royals do to increase their home field advantage? Could they offer free barbecue to any opposing player that commits an error? Should they move the fountains from beyond the outfield walls to the actual playing field so that tracking a fly ball is like a trip to Oceans of Fun? Maybe they could play the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Video on the monstrous video screen in centerfield as the opposing team bats.

My suggestion? How about we start with a shortstop that can hit.

Too far-fetched?

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Cheesy Story

As he pulled up to the curb, the brakes on Donald's Ford Festiva squealed like a group of teenage girls at a Jonas Brothers concert. The sound, which was the result of general neglect in the area of car care (he was driving a Festiva, after all) was sickening, but Donald had no time to worry about it. He grabbed the pair of pizza boxes sitting on his passenger seat, and opened the driver's side door, vaulted out of his car, and kicked the door back shut in one fluid motion. If someone had caught this maneuver on high-speed film, it would have looked rather impressive. Again, Donald had no time to consider such things.

He gripped the boxes tightly as he sprinted across the street and up to the front door at 908 Maple Circle. The Cheezy Deluxe and the Carnivore's Delight pizzas housed in those boxes had cooled considerably since Donald had departed from The Cheese Stands Alone Pizza Shop 39 minutes earlier. There were times when Donald loathed this form of employment. This was one of them. The tips were lousy, the customers were often unfriendly, and he was constantly reminded that other people actually had lives. While peers were enjoying social evenings with friends, he was fighting traffic, contributing to the poor health of the morbidly obese, and wearing ridiculous Cheese-Stands-Alone-issued yellow attire. The outfit even included a hat with ear flaps, supposedly designed to look like a chunk of mozzarella.

While he did not always find his job horrendous, nights like this made it seem like Hell's torture chamber. The response to a late pizza delivery nearly always followed the same formula. After a ring of the doorbell or knock on the door, an individual sporting a scowl would slowly open the door. A smartass remark, of the "Hey, you guys realized my order wasn't a prank call," would then be added to the equation. Donald would apologize. More "hilarious" quips would follow, with others that had also been waiting for their pizza dinner yukking it up. Donald would apologize again. The customer would remark that they shouldn't pay at all. Then they would pay, but stiff Donald on the tip. He wondered if just dropping the pizzas and driving off, never to be seen in town again, would be a better option.


This delivery should not have been late at all. Donald had done his job, driving to the address he had been given. Unfortunately, that address was not accurate on this occasion. Twenty minutes earlier, just as he was pulling up to an addressed he assumed was correct, his cell phone buzzed in his pocket. Checking his caller ID, he noticed it was Alan, another Cheese employee. He flipped his phone open, but before his brain could process the "What's up" he intended to utter, he heard, "Don't yell at me."


"Okay. What am I not yelling at you for, Alan."

"You're driving to 908 Maple, right?"

"Yes. In fact, I can see in the front window right now. There's a hefty guy sitting on the couch. I wonder if both pizzas are for him."

"I'm going to say no, Donald. See I wrote down 908 Maple Street, but the order actually goes to 908 Maple circle."

Donald had learned long ago that if the only replies he could think of involved words he had first learned from Joe Pesci movies, he shouldn't say anything. He clamped his phone shut instead. For some reason, whoever had mapped out New Boston originally had put Maple Circle on the opposite side of town of Maple Street. He was furious. This delivery would be extremely late, and it was no fault of his.


The late delivery interaction played out just as Donald had expected. As the door shut in his face, he had no pizzas, no tip, and no dignity. As he turned to go back to his car, his mind was flooded with thoughts of his job and his frustration with it. When he made mistakes, he continually heard about it. When the mistakes were not his own, he still often received blame. He had no future with the job. Nowhere to go. What the hell was he doing?

By the time he got to the street, Donald was mumbling with his head down. "I should just quit," He muttered to himself. "Why should I keep wasting my time in this stupid-"


Donald woke up confused, with headache so severe he checked to see if some sort of medieval clamps were on his temples. He was not sure what was going on, but he was certain that this rather sanitary looking room he now inhabited was not on Maple Circle.

Later on, a kind nurse whose pace of speech rivaled the guy from the old Micro Machines commercials filled him in on what had happened. The fact that she did this as she provided him with a catheter was odd, but he appreciated the story. During his rage-filled trek back to his Festiva, Donald had apparently failed to notice a pair of headlights acting as his personal spotlights. Oblivious to his surroundings, Donald had been run down by a car that had never slowed down. Once his intrusive southern neighbor had taken residence, the speed-talking nurse mentioned that the accident would have been much worse, possibly fatal, had he not been wearing head protection - the Cheese-issued cap.

Stuck in a hospital bed with a fractured hip and a bit of head trauma, Donald now had plenty of time to consider anything and everything.  It was then that he realized that his self-pity and continual worry about his work was misplaced.

His job couldn't kill him. However, getting too worked up about it could.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Did you know? - The Royals Draft Edition

We are just one week away from the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Widely viewed as the biggest crapshoot among drafts of major sports, the MLB Draft is never an easy one to predict. As a result, and because I my record with predictions might be worse than the Washington Generals' record against the Harlem Globetrotters, I will make no predictions concerning next week's draft. Instead, I'll allow you to soak in the following tidbits concerning this annual event as it relates to the team I root for through thick and (most often) thin, the Kansas City Royals.

- In 1979, the Royals drafted a pair of Hall of Famers. Unfortunately for the Royals, both would bypass the diamond for glory on the gridiron. Kansas City drafted Dan Marino in the second round and John Elway in the 18th.

- Over the history of the franchise, the Royals have drafted two more Hall of Fame quarterbacks than the Chiefs.

- In 1982, the Royals drafted a first baseman that would go on to appear in six All Star games and win an MVP award in 1989. Unfortunately, Will "The Thrill" Clark chose not to sign with Kansas City and attend Mississippi State University instead.

- Bret Saberhagen, who would go on to win a pair of Cy Young Awards for KC, was actually the Royals' 19th pick in 1982. Picked ahead of Saberhagen were household names like Joe Szekely, Mark Pirruccello and Darren Sturdivant.

- 1985 was an historic year for the Royals, as they won the franchise's only World Series title. Though he would not sign, they also drafted Deion Sanders in the sixth round of the draft. The following year, they drafted Bo Jackson in the fourth round... It seems the Royals' front office should have been drafting for the Chiefs in the 80s.

- In 60 rounds of the 1989 draft, the Royals drafted exactly four players that actually played in the Major Leagues. Only two played for Kansas City.

- In 1994, KC drafted 10 players that reached the big leagues. The best was a pitcher named Jose Rosado that was a two-time All Star before his career fell apart due to injuries. No. 2 on that list would probably be Matt Treanor. Unfortunately for the Royals, the reason you recognize that name is probably because of his wife.

- In 2000, the Royals had the No. 4 overall pick. They drafted a pitcher named Mike Stodolka. He never pitched in the majors, and was actually last seen playing first base in the minor leagues. Philadelphia drafted three-time All Star Chase Utley 11 picks later.