Saturday, May 23, 2009


I was reading an article on Japanese baseball a week or so ago and came across the name of one of Japan's 300-game winning pitchers. His name was Victor Starffin. I was not so surprised because many Japanese baseball accomplishments have been made by non-Japanese. I assumed that Starffin was an American I had never heard of.* Then I saw that Mr. Starffin won 26 games in 1942, 10 in 1943, and 6 in 1944. I realize that not everyone is very solid on history, but it is unlikely that Americans were voluntarily playing baseball in Japan from 1942 to 1944.

Turns out that Victor Starffin was . . . Russian. He hadn't apparently been to America at all. His family apparently fled the Russian Revolution and ended up on Hokkaido. He was signed by the Yomuri Giants predecessor team in 1936, and presumably got to play through World War II because he was not Japanese, and probably not eligible for the Imperial Army. Some of his best years were while the good players were off fighting, but he did win 27 games (and lead the league in wins) in 1949.

Starffin died in a car/train collision in 1957 and was elected to the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame in 1960. He's the first foreigner to have that honor bestowed upon him. It looks to me like at the moment he is one of only four non-Japanese citizens in the Hall of Fame and the only non-American. Bet you didn't know that.

* not very surprising. Remember Boomer Wells? He's an MVP in the Pacific League. So are Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera. See what I mean? Randy Bass won the Triple Crown in Japan. TWICE! For all the success Ichiro and Matsui have had in the U.S., Japan is still a place where some American scrubs (see, Rhodes, Tuffy) thrive.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Remember when this simpering weirdo was the face of a brand:

Well, now they are reduced to having the ass of a brand:

What were they thinking? And, did nobody in any focus group mention that hanging asswipe on a bear's ass was . . . gross?

By the way, I LOVE the tone of this commercial. Show pride and support for President Obama with . . . a Chia Pet!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


I did not realize that blogger had a means to post via phone. Of course, I can't create bold, hyperlink, or add pictures.

Anyway, it seems to me that twittering, blogging, and other social communications are coming together. I understand that tweets are much shorter, but I think that's partly due to the medium (SMS messaging), but between the iPhone, Blackberries, Palms and others, the ability to reasonably add entire paragraphs on the fly is getting more common.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


We have become big train fans in this house. The Boy really, really likes trains. Whether they be freight trains, Amtrak trains, or L trains, one never passes without eliciting an excited "train!" That happens pretty often because we live on the northwest side of the Chi, and as the map below reflects, we are surrounded by train lines. We live near Portage Park, and there are multiple lines south and east of us, as well as an L line in the middle of the Kennedy and huge yards to the west of us. We see lots of trains.

View Larger Map

This also means that I have been scouting places to watch trains. Of course, there is one place we can always watch trains, and that is on the television. Not just Extreme Trains either. We also watch lot of Thomas the Tank Engine. And that's the point of this post (in case you were wondering). Does Sodor have more miles of track than any island in the world? Seriously, they have one bus (Bertie) and about 20 train engines. We just watched an episode where they have an engine to pull the "mail train" which consists of one car that is loaded into a mail truck. Seems like rail overkill to me.

Maybe I'm not making my point effectively. Check out this map of Sodor and its rail lines. Now look at this rail map of Germany. I think Sodor has as many lines as Germany! And this one of the UK. I don't understand the extensive rail coverage on Sodor. Unless there was some sort of Victorian stimulus package that promised a railroad in every pot, and never having to walk more than ten feet to reach a train. Must have been like the old Johnny Canal sketch on SNL.

By the way, I recently discovered that a cousin of mine (maybe a second cousin? I dunno. My Grandma's sister's kid. That's a cousin, right?) is a train guy and takes some fantastic pictures of trains. Check these out.