Saturday, February 13, 2010

From The Sublime (Jane Austen) To The Ridiculous (The 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies)

I usually write on Sunday, I’m making an exception this week because I hate Valentine’s Day and that’s the last you’ll read about it on this blog.

Let’s talk baseball…well, that was a short conversation. There is nothing of real substance to ponder, I truly can’t get worked up about signing a catcher from Australia. Right now and I’m not going to make up baseball topics to discuss; there will be time enough for that beginning Thursday (a discussion that will not end for at least seven months).

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering. – Jane Austen"
Was Jane writing about being a Ranger fan?
I am very amused at the recent rock star status of Jane Austen. You’d think all these teenage/twenty/thirty something women had just discovered some hidden secret. I have news for you kids: Jane has never been big secret – she was extremely popular among the teenage and twenty somethings when I was in college and that was the 1970’s. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the Bronte sisters (Charlotte and Emily). Austen’s books have witty with memorable characters, however they do all follow the common fantasy blueprint of the romance novel: after some minor adversity everyone winds up living happily ever after. The Brontes are darker, earthier, more realistic – their characters are just as brilliant but, as in real life, there aren’t really any happy endings.
However, I do have a soft spot for Miss Austen. She is responsible for creating the finest performance of my (short) acting career: I played Mrs. Bennett in the NDC Masquers Production of “Pride and Prejudice” during my junior year in college (see picture on the left - I'm the one with my eyes closed).
As I mentioned in a previous blog: two books I’ve found by British author Jude Morgan (An Accomplished Woman and Indiscretion) are the best of the “Austen” style that I’ve read lately. Additionally, much to my delight, Morgan is writing a novel about the Bronte sisters. Avoid the Colleen McCullough novel “The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett” – it’s terrible as are all of McCullough’s novels (I loathe “The Thornbirds”). “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is my favorite “tele” version of that novel, and “Sense and Sensibility” with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant (and in a very small part Hugh Laurie) is the best big screen movie (so far) of an Austen story.
Between the snow storm and the Olympics I’ve been watching a little more television than usual and one local commercial has caught my attention: Michael Buble at the AAC, really? I can see him for 4 or 5 nights at the Myerson, or the Bass Hall or Nokia Theatre. His song stylings, I think, are a little more intimate – I just can’t picture Michael Buble singing “Home” or “You Don’t Know Me” with the same kind of effect in the cavernous American Airlines Center. Since I’m writing about Michael Buble – click on this link for the SNL Skit with Michael Buble and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) it is worth waiting a few seconds for the download.
I won’t say I have Olympic fever, but I might have an Olympic cold. I enjoy watching the competitive Olympic events – the ones that truly have a measure of performance: skating/skiing the fastest, scoring the most goals. I do not like the style Olympic events, meaning any event where a judge scores the event – for example: figure skating, ice dancing, freestyle anything and snowboarding. I do appreciate the hard work all the young people put into training for those events – but they aren’t true competition in my opinion since the outcomes are based solely on the subjective conclusions of observers. Unfortunately, network television spends way too much time concentrating on those 2 or 3 events when there are so many more interesting ones taking place.

Bob Costas must’ve repeated at least five times that it was going to be hard to top the opening of the 2008 summer games in Beijing - he was right. The Vancouver opening ceremony was…weird. I’ve been to Canada a few times, really enjoyed it. I have several baseball friends who are Canadian and they aren’t strange at all. Isn’t the opening ceremony supposed to introduce the host country to the world? So where were The McKenzie Brothers? Where were the donuts -Tim Horton’s ?) The Royal Canadian Air Farce?

I know they wanted to include prominent Canadians like Joni Mitchell – but I’m not sure what “Both Sides Now” really has to do with the Olympics or Canadians in general. Although the young man who performed the trapeze like act during the song was about the only thing I kind of liked of the entire production (and Both Sides Now is on the A side of the soundtrack of my life)

 Having KD Lang, who can croon with the best of them was a great idea. Having her signing a Leonard Cohen song must’ve seemed like a good idea – but “Hallelujah”? Did anyone listen to the lyrics? Cohen’s “Closing Time” would have fit in much better with the lively Olympic spirit (thanks to Greg Rogers for introducing me to Leonard).

And since we’ve gone down Leonard Cohen lane – I was really surprised to see Justin Timberlake, Charlie Sexton and Matt Morris sing an excellent version of “Hallelujah” during the Hope for Haiti concert – I was even more pleased find that Justin Timberlake knows about Leonard Cohen.

Finally, that's it - what is the weather like in Surpise?

Only 4 more days until the second most important holy day in the religion of baseball -- Marla Hooch

P.S. The best Olympic moment - EVER:

Friday, February 12, 2010

An Obscure Peter Krause Reference and More Snow!

Some scenes from early this morning around Hooch Secret World HQ.

I'm going to link these pictures again in July, so we'll remember all of our comments and complaints about the February snowstorm in the middle of summer!

12 1/2 Inches Under -- Marla Hooch

P.S. 4 1/2 more days until pitchers & catchers report

Thursday, February 11, 2010

July 11, 2010

This is the view from my office at Hooch Secret World HQ at 3:45 p.m. on February 11, 2010:

Now, let's keep today in mind on July 11, 2010 as the Rangers are playing the Baltimore Orioles at 2:05 PM- when it will likely be between  85 - 95 degrees (am I being optimistic with the temperature?)  with the sun baking the players and the fans at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Making snow angels -- Marla Hooch


Sunday, February 7, 2010


If you ever visit my house – and you probably never will,  thus the moniker: Hooch Secret World Headquarters – you would find stuck to mirrors, books, the fridge, a couple of selected lampshades, my purse, my binoculars and by each of the phones little yellow post-it notes with lists written on them. The same thing happens in my cubicle at work and yes, even on the dash board of my car. This is the inspiration for this week’s blog: a few random lists.

Marla’s Top 5 All-Time Favorite TV Shows:

1. Homicide – Life on the Street – I’d turn down invitations to go out on Friday night to stay home and watch this show – for seven seasons it was television at its finest.

2. St. Elsewhere – did you know that Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon and Howie Mandel were regulars on this show? They’ve never released the entire series on VCR or DVD which is a shame – it’s better than just about any medical drama on television today.

3. WRKP in Cincinnati – how often have I referenced this show on my blog? Too often, probably. I’ve seen all the episodes more times than I can count and they still make me laugh out loud – Captain Rutabaga!

4. The Mary Tyler Moore Show – Aside from the fact it set the standard for ensemble comedy and characters (Sue Ann Nivens, Ted Baxter, Rhoda Morgenstern and Lou Grant) and  produced one of the classic comedy episodes in television history (“Chuckles Bites The Dust”). I think most women my age will tell you that the Mary Richards character (smart, single and career minded) was a role model that we appreciated and many of us followed.

5. Star Trek – the original series. Many of you in  the Star Wars/Avatar generation will never understand what an amazing series this was back, back, back in the day.

 Marla’s 5 Preferred Stadium Sections To Sit In During Her Baseball Travels

1. Section 108 - at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. Yes, the world’s greatest usher, Dennis, takes care of that section – which is the primary reason I sit there. There’s no screen to mess up the focus on my camera, you can see every corner of the park, and the full moon that rises over right field is always a sight to behold.

2. Section 114 - at the San Antonio Missions Ballpark (Nelson Wolff Ballpark) The lighting in that stadium is absolutely perfect – I’ve taken some of my best pictures there.

3. Anywhere - at Dell Diamond in Round Rock. It’s the best place to see a minor league baseball game. I really hope that rumors are true that this could be the future home of the Rangers AAA affiliate.

4. Section 315 - at  the Ballpark in Arlington -  $10.00 seats on Friday, $5.00 parking, a great view and nice breeze – what more could you ask for? (Section 13 runs a close second – but the price of tickets have become too expensive for me to sit there on a regular basis).

5. I don’t remember the section number, but it was by the bullpen on the third base side of Tiger Stadium You never forget where you sat at your first major league baseball game, the stadium is gone – but the memory remains.

5 More of Marla’s Favorite Places To Dine

1. Bodacious Barbeque – Arlington, Texas
2. Konaki Greek Restaurant – London, England
3. Luminaira – Santa Fe, New Mexico
4. Central Grocery – New Orleans, Louisiana
5. The Burmese place in Greenwich Village - (can't recall the name right now,  this where the New Mexico Bean and Dr. Richards had their wedding reception ) – New York, New York

The 5 Best Episodes of Spectacle: Elvis Costello With…. (Sundance Channel)

1. The Guitar Pull – Season 1 (Kris Kirstofferson, Roseanne Cash, John Mellencamp, and Norah Jones)
2. The Police – Season 1
3. John Prine, Ray LaMontagne and Lyle Lovett – Season 2 (I could’ve done without Ray LaMontagne – which would’ve meant more time with John Prine and Lyle Lovett)
4. James Taylor – Season 1
5. Bruce Springsteen – Season 2 (and I don’t even like Bruce)

The 5 Things Marla Feels That Rangers Have To Do In Order To Contend in 2010

 1. The young pitchers (Holland, Feliz, Hunter) MUST:  be much better and more consistent – if they don’t do that, then the other 4 items on this list don’t matter.

2. Rich Harden has to stay healthy and pitch well, which means he needs to make as many starts as Kevin Milwood did in 2009 (31) but he has to win more games (Milwood won 13)

3. Josh Hamilton has to be the second half Josh Hamilton of 2009 (.288 BA - .754 OPS)

4. Did I mention that the young pitchers need to step up and Rich Harden needs to be healthy and pitch well?

5. The Rangers have to hope that not all of Seattle’s off season moves will work out – otherwise...well, it's too early to start thinking about that

5 Good Books Marla’s Read Recently
1. Dangerously Funny – The Uncensored Story of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour by David Bianculli - it’s about much more than pumas in crevices and David Steinberg’s sermons.

2. An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan – Ms. Morgan’s Jane Austen like style writing is a pleasure to read.

3. Murder in the Bastille by Cara Black - the way Ms. Black weaves the city of Paris into each of these Aimee LeDuc mysteries has me reading these books late into the evening just to see who did it.

4. Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly – it’ll get your Irish up

5. The Newberg Report 2010 Bound Edition – no explanation necessary

The 5 Things Marla Loves About Spring Training:

1. Watching the minor leaguers on the backfields in Surprise – it’s my first opportunity each year to see some of the “new” guys.

2. The fact that Nolan Ryan had the organization start putting the names of all the minor league players on their jerseys at Spring Training – I think he was as confused as I was trying to figure out who he was watching.

3. Jason Botts in Glendale – looking forward to seeing my friend back in the US

4. Jovial evenings of erudite conversation and companionship with good friends at Scoreboards.

5. The fact that 2010 Spring Training is just around the corner.

 Getting ready to make a quick trip to Target for some more post-it notes - - Marla Hooch

P.S. I'm one of those people who watch the Super Bowl just for the commercials - the Letterman/Leno ad blew away the competition: