Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 2011

WI D Legislators Pro-Jobs; WI Rs Dither; Scott Walker Recall Starts Nov. 15

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Last night at the Roma Lodge in Racine, WI, there was a jobs forum sponsored by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO where four state Democratic legislators showed up — Representative Robert Turner (D-Racine), Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine), Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha — also a former United States Representative for district 1, which includes Racine and Kenosha), and Senator Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha).  The Democrats listened patiently to the concerns of Racine residents, which included the following comments (pulled from this article from the Racine Journal-Times):

Barbara Rankin of Kenosha, 78, told the four legislators that of the sixty-six people in her family, only four have jobs that pay over $10 an hour.  “Jobs shouldn’t be that hard to get,” she said.

According to the Journal-Times article, person after person stood up to talk about their problems with jobs.  They mentioned looming cuts to the Racine bus budget, the need for a casino in Kenosha (or something to replace Dairyland Greyhound Park, which closed at the end of 2010), and the need for greater funding for technical colleges, which also got their budgets cut as part of the Scott Walker budget bill earlier this year.

This is why Scott Walker needs to be recalled, folks, in an nutshell; Walker’s done nothing to help Wisconsin workers find jobs for nearly a year, yet he ran on a “pro-jobs” platform.  I’m tired of Walker “talking the talk” but refusing to “walk the walk,” and the other Rs in the Legislature are obviously taking their cues largely from him.

Now, what are the other Wisconsin Rs doing in response to this?  Not a whole lot.  Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, recently killed a bill that would’ve prevented the state’s main utility company (WE Energies) from charging customers for faulty meters, despite this bill being proposed by another member of his own party, Mike Ellis (R-Neenah — also the President of the Senate). 

Yes, that’s right — Wanggaard voted against consumers.  Against the people of his own district.  (Why am I unsurprised?)

Wanggaard has also recently drafted a “jobs bill” — as in, finally in October of 2011, nearly a full year after he was sworn into the state Senate, he’s finally figured out that we’re in a jobs crisis.  That the City of Racine, the area he currently represents, has consistently had 13% to 14% reportable unemployment for the past three years or more (those of us working part-time don’t count on that; those of us who’ve fallen off the unemployment rolls also do not count) — of course, Wanggaard will soon represent the counties of Racine and Kenosha, who aren’t doing so bad, due to the 2011 state Legislature’s gerrymandered map; perhaps that’s why Wanggaard doesn’t care too much about the City of Racine as he knows his days as its Senator are numbered?

Now, apparently Wanggaard had this jobs bill on his mind for at least a month, as I was able to find a reference to it back to September 12, 2011.  And much of it, I actually agree with (from the Milwaukee television channel’s Fox 6 News report of the same date):

Sen. Wanggaard’s proposal would provide help for hiring. The plan would give businesses a $5,000 tax credit if they hire someone unemployed for more than 60 days and keep that employee for more than a year. Rep. Wanggaard says, “We can’t continue to throw money at things that aren’t working. We’ve got to think outside the box.”

I agree.

Going on, Wanggaard also says that the current situation is “unacceptable.”  Again, I agree.

But was he at this jobs forum?  No, he wasn’t — and my guess is, he probably did know about it as courtesy invitations usually go out to both sides.

Going back to the Journal-Times article I referenced above, Rep. Cory Mason said this situation is awful:

“It is a sad state of affairs in the United States of America, where you can work full time and still be poor,” Mason said.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

At any rate, the recall of Scott Walker will start on November 15, 2011.  I plan to be out there on the first day getting signatures, because I believe Walker has failed — failed on jobs, and failed as a Governor, period.

And while I do not know when the recall of Van Wanggaard will start, whenever it does, I’m going to be right there, too — because to me, it’s flat unacceptable that Wanggaard hasn’t done any better in the ten months he’s had in office to get any new jobs into Racine City (or County).

Performances, Chaz Bono, and DWTS

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This week on “Dancing with the Stars,” it was Broadway Week — meaning every star had to do a ballroom dance of some sort to a Broadway song and also put some “Broadway inflection” into his or her routine.  Chaz Bono and his professional partner, Lacey Schwimmer, drew the tango — not an easy thing to dance to a Broadway tune — and the theme to Phantom of the Opera.

Now, I’ve written before about my liking for Chaz Bono before; I believe what he’s doing, in being open about his past gender identity struggles and being the first transsexual contestant ever on DWTS, is a very good and empowering thing.  I also think that as a heavier person, he dances well and shows that it’s a complete myth that “big people can’t dance.”

His routine tonight to “Phantom” was a tough one; his partner, Lacey Schwimmer, told him early on that he’d have to “step it up” and do more difficult choreography — that the “super-basic” routines he had learned up until now wouldn’t work.  (Note that last week’s samba routine was not all that easy; what I think Schwimmer was referring to was the rhumba routine and some of the routines before that, which were at the most basic level.)  I think this was difficult for Bono to hear, but he handled it, learned his routine, and performed it well.

Then came the judges, who were more critical than Bono had anticipated (they were about what Lacey Schwimmer expected, though of course I’m sure she’d hoped for better); they said that the role of the Phantom “did not suit” Bono (both head judge Len Goodman and judge Bruno Tonioli said this pretty much word-for-word, while judge Carrie-Ann Inaba said it in a slightly kinder way, referring to the “challenge” of acting a character that is not your own), that the dance of the tango wasn’t fiery enough or precise enough, and that Bono altogether “lacked the sense of menace” that a dance like this requires (Goodman, again).  No mention was made of the fact that Bono danced most of the dance in the half-mask of the Phantom; no mention was made that Bono’s movements were sharper and crisper than they’ve ever been, and that the form of the dance was preserved throughout.

As a performer myself (though not a dancer or actor), I’ve been there.  So I have some words for Chaz Bono that I hope he’ll heed tonight:  “Mr. Bono, please, do not listen to the harshness of these critics.  You have to understand that as a performer, not everyone is going to appreciate what you do, and you can’t do anything about that.  You can only control what you can do — which you did, as you danced the best I have ever seen you on the entire season of ‘Dancing with the Stars.'”

Or, in other words — I think the critics, while they’re certainly correct about the forms of the dance and maybe had a point about being more emphatic in your movements (the only way you could possibly have been more “menacing,” it seems to me, behind the Phantom’s half-mask, is to be very direct, cutting, and emphatic), are flat wrong about how you danced.

Look.  Your partner, Ms. Schwimmer, is correct about the way the judges will act.  This is just what they do; some of it is for effect, because they want to make a better show — and some of it is just how they are overall. 

Schwimmer knows this; she’s been dealing with these same judges now for several years.  All of her training is meant to help you withstand their criticism; she is an exacting teacher, yes, but also a kind and honest one.  She isn’t known for cursing or being upset with her pupils, in the main; she’s known for being able to teach anyone — including Steve-O of “Jackass” fame while he was just “getting clean” after finishing up some rehab for alcohol and drug addiction — to the point that her partners actually learn the dances, rather than just the routines.

Do you know what that means?  You’ll remember how to rhumba years from now.  You’ll know how to do the cha cha cha.  You’ll understand the tango, and be able to do it again once you’re off the show — that’s because she does teach the “super-basics” as well as the flourishes a show like “Dancing” requires, because she wants you to understand the dance as well as perform it.

The upshot of all of this, Mr. Bono, is this — it was very hard for me, as a viewer, to watch your face fall once you’d performed your routine to “Phantom of the Opera.”  I didn’t like seeing that, because that made me think that you’ve forgotten the most important person in the equation — you — and are basing your opinion of yourself on what other people think rather than what you think about yourself.

Granted, this can be very tough to do as a performing artist.  I have been there (I once had someone criticize my oboe playing who had listened to three hundred clarinets in a solo-ensemble music contest; it was the one and only year I didn’t go to the state contest in high school — I was the only oboist this judge heard all day, too, which made it all the more unfair) and I know how difficult it is.

Here’s another example for you:  I once had a saxophone lesson when I was going for my Master’s degree where I asked my professor, “Did I do anything right today?” 

His answer was, “Of course!  But if I don’t tell you what you did wrong, how will you ever improve?”   (Note that I was an “older” Master’s candidate, going for my Master’s past age thirty because I believed in myself and felt I still had a chance to improve my playing and perhaps work in my field.  I still believe that if my hands co-operate, I will be able to once again get back to where I should be and I really wish to work in my field, which is performing, teaching, and composing music.) 

This is why I have great sympathy for you doing something so far out of your “comfort zone,” because you obviously believe it’s the right thing to do.

I think what Lacey Schwimmer is doing by giving you criticism about how to improve your dancing and your overall performance is meant so you can take the criticism, incorporate it into your performance, and become a better dancer.  It certainly is not meant to wound you (even though it hurts, and badly, at the time).

As a performing artist (no matter how long I’ve had to be idle due to my carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues), I know that when fifty people compliment you, but one is highly critical, you tend to remember the one person who was so critical like it’s a burr under your skin.  I can only imagine what it must be like to hear yourself be criticized like that by three judges on national TV.

I know that I, as a viewer, saw both improvement and personality in your dance.  And I believe that as a performer, you did your job, because you did the very best you possibly could — you lived up to everything your teacher asked of you — in the best way you possibly could do it. 

So what I’d like most to tell you is this: keep on dancing, Mr. Bono.  You’re doing a fine job; you’ve learned a lot; you’ve hung in there and you’ve done everything in your power to improve and you have, indeed, shown improvement.   And while your overall likeability is one of your greatest strengths, do you know what your best strength is?  Your perseverance.

So keep on keepin’ on, and non illegitimi carborundum.


Oh, one other thing: if I listened to “the critics” regarding my saxophone playing (now that I can’t do as much as before, or at least as quickly as before), I’d not even be making the attempt to play.  So yes, improvement must be taken into consideration here — which is why every single week, I’ve voted for Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer and it’s why I plan to keep doing so.

When Life Does Not Go As Planned . . . .

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Today was one of those days where I’m reminded of the phrase, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

First, my saxophone student’s mother called late to let me know that her son was not feeling well enough to take his lesson.  (This happens.  I’m just glad she called me before the lesson.)

Second, I was hoping to do something different this evening — something fun, maybe.  Something frivolous, perhaps (that is, if I remember how to “frivol,” if that’s even a word).  But that was not to be, either.

Today was all about getting work done — or in the case of my saxophone lesson that didn’t come off, being prepared to do the work but not being able to do it.  So once again, it’s one of those days where life definitely did not go as planned.

That doesn’t make this a bad day, mind you.  But it does make it a somewhat unsettled one.

And hey, at least tomorrow I know I’ll have a bit of down-time as I watch Dancing with the Stars.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Writing

World Series Tied, 1-1, and Other Non-Issues

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Folks, right now the World Series is tied up at 1-1, meaning the St. Louis Cardinals won the first game, and the Texas Rangers won the second.

Of course, since my Milwaukee Brewers team is out of it, I don’t care that much about the outcome — and I won’t pretend I don’t.  The only reason I’m following it at all is that there are at least two ex-Brewers on the Texas roster — those being pitcher Mike Adams and outfielder Nelson Cruz (both were in the minor-league system for the Brewers), and of course the Brewers’ former pitching coach, Mike Maddux, now is the pitching coach of the Rangers.

This reminds me ever so much of something my late husband, Michael, and I discussed years ago.   I think we were watching a baseball game in 2003 — not a World Series game, either — and he said, “I remember that guy — he’s a former Giant.”

Not to be outdone, I told him, “Well, that guy over there for the other team” — I forget which teams they were — “is an ex-Brewer.”

Sure enough, we went to look it up, and we found several ex-Giants and ex-Brewers on both teams.  That increased our viewing enjoyment in an otherwise mundane experience . . . though mundanity itself can be pleasant, if you have the right person by your side.

Anyway, right now I’m engrossed in another editing project, which takes up a large amount of my thought-space (even when I’m not editing the project in front of me, I’m thinking about it; part of the deal); that’s the main reason I’m not talking about politics (though I will, and soon), more about the Brewers (still deciding what to say about the overall Brewers season), or music (except that I’m glad to be playing, there isn’t much more I can say there right now).

Stay warm, folks.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Posted in Writing

Just Played in my First Band Rehearsal in at Least 10 Years

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As the heading says . . . I went out tonight and played my saxophone during a rehearsal of the local community band.  This is the first rehearsal in over ten years of any group whatsoever I’ve attended, mostly because my hands were not strong enough to sustain the strain of holding the instrument, much less fingering it, in all that time.

The main reason I decided to start playing in a band again after all this time is that I now can practice, on average, three times weekly for at least forty-five minutes (the high, so far, being about an hour and a half) without hurting my hands or wrists in any way.  (They ache, but I can use them, and I can live with that.)   The secondary reason is that in the last year, I’ve gone through two rounds of occupational therapy for my hands and wrists, which helped immensely.  So now, I can play again.

I am aware that in many senses, I’m very fortunate; I have carpal tunnel syndrome, but I have never lost the ability to type.  Most people with this condition do, whereas instead I merely lost some speed.  The OT helped me regain some of my overall typing speed, too, so it was extremely beneficial overall.

Now, as to how I played?  As you might expect, I certainly was nowhere near top form; I kept getting thrown off by other people’s sense of time and meter, and my own hands kept betraying me now and again (they wanted to slide off the keys, a big no-no that I knew was likely to happen due to the stress of doing something for the first time — even though it’s not, exactly).  But I followed the music, and knew what it was supposed to do; next time, I hope to play a solo part or two (within the context of the band pieces, not in front of the band), and I will practice the toughest parts (and of course the solo parts, too) so when I go back to rehearsal in two weeks (the next rehearsal, for a concert in December), I will be prepared and ready to lead the saxophone section.

Tonight, everything that I’d hoped for didn’t happen — my hands ached and weren’t doing what I wanted and needed them to do all the time (though they worked at least 85% of the time, and I’d actually expected worse — sight-reading music always means you’re going to make mistakes, and because my hands aren’t totally right (and will never be right again, I’m sorry to say), that just adds to any sight-reading mistakes I’d be likely to have anyway.

But my rhythmic sense was good; my sound was good; my intonation, mostly, was good.  (That last is an upper-level skill.  Mine is where it should be right now, and I can match pitches with other people, but I’m not where I would be in top form, no.  Will it affect me playing in a band, though?  Nope.)  And I had enough energy to get through an hour and fifteen minutes of rehearsal (it was a “short” rehearsal this week, mostly to see the new music and get copies of it to practice and be prepared to play in two weeks), so that, too, was a good thing.

I kept myself from playing for quite some time because I feared my health would not be good enough, and I knew my hands definitely weren’t good enough.  Now, though, I’m able to play . . . and even though I’m not where I want to be, I’m at least able to do something.

And something always beats nothing any day of the week.


Note:  I’ve been leery of discussing any of my physical challenges on this blog, because for the most part, I feel they’re irrelevant to the discussion.  However, in this case, they are quite relevant, even though I wish devoutly that they weren’t.

Now, are my physical limitations about to stop me?  Absolutely not.  They haven’t for anything else — merely slowed me down a little — and they won’t here, either.  I just have to learn to work around them, that’s all.  And I will do so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Brewers Start Marcum, Lose Big; Cardinals Advance to World Series

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The Milwaukee Brewers, to be blunt, laid a big, fat, juicy egg last night against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.  They did so because of one thing — Brewers rookie manager Ron Roenicke making a “rookie mistake” and insisting upon starting Shaun Marcum when Marcum had at least six bad outings prior to last night and had shown nothing at all in his last two starts that led me — or anyone else — to believe that Marcum would do better in Game 6.

That the Cardinals won the game, 12-6, and thus advanced to the World Series, is almost an afterthought due to Roenicke’s horrible managerial decisions.  Roenicke could’ve gone with Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (who last pitched on Wednesday, so he’d have had about the right amount of rest between starts) as Game 6 was do-or-die for the Brewers — Gallardo is the Brewers best pitcher by a lot these days, and with Gallardo on the mound, the Brewers had at least a chance to tie the series up again and go to Game 7.  Note that other managers in similar positions have done things like this before, most recently Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers — he pitched his ace, Justin Verlander (who went 24-5 in the regular season), in game 5 as that was Detroit’s first “elimination game” — and Verlander delivered, staving off elimination for another night.

But Roenicke, in his post-game press conference carried by the Brewers Radio Network, insisted that he made the “right call” in sending the struggling Marcum to the mound.

I beg to differ.

Marcum went out there and struggled from the get-go.  (There were some questionable balls/strikes calls from the home plate umpire, yes.  But if you’re a good pitcher, you get beyond that.)  He didn’t have his best stuff, or even his most mediocre-but-still-can-get-guys-out stuff — instead, he ended up giving up four runs in the first inning, and the Brewers were in an immediate hole.

There were some good hits by the Brewers in this game.  Corey Hart led off the first inning with a towering home run — not a cheap job, either, as it bounced off the scoreboard in right-center field.  Rickie Weeks hit a nice, long HR.  Jonathan Lucroy hit a 2-run HR that brought the game as close as it ever was — 5-4, still in favor of the Cardinals — but really, that was all the Brewers were able to muster as far as heroics went.

What was worse even than Marcum’s pitching performance (and total lack of understanding afterward that his arm is tired, he needs rest, he never should’ve started the game in the first place and for all I know, may have a hairline tear or other arm problem that needs to be addressed, pronto) was the Brewers defense.  Hart made an awful play in right field — one that was caused by thinking he had the ball in his glove when he didn’t, and might’ve been caused by him trying too hard — in the fourth.  Then Jerry Hairston had a double-error play — yes, two errors on one, single play — which put the Brewers out of reach as the Cardinals scored several more runs off the ground ball Kameron Loe had been brought in to induce.  (Loe had to be frustrated, though he was as impassive as ever out on the mound.  Loe’s professional demeanor would unnerve me as a hitter, for sure.)

Anyway, there were a few other positives aside from Loe doing what he was asked to do — get outs (not his fault that Hairston misplayed the ball, then made a bad throw for that double-error play).  Takashi Saito pitched two really fine innings for the Brewers to hold the Cardinals (for those innings) to “only” eleven runs.  Francisco Rodriguez gave up a solo HR, but compared to most of the rest of the pitchers, was OK — and I don’t blame him for that at all.  While John Axford pitched his usual scoreless 9th . . . oh, if Roenicke had just used the brain he was born with and started Gallardo, then done anything except start Marcum in game 7 (providing we’d have managed to win Game 6 with Gallardo pitching instead), I’d have had a far better experience watching my 2011 Brewers compete in the post-season.

But as it stood, we had bad pitching (Marcum, and then Chris Narveson, who wasn’t as bad as Marcum in that at least Narveson got some Ks, but gave up 5 earned runs in 1 2/3 innings as opposed to Marcum’s 4 earned runs in 1 inning), bad fielding (Marcum, Hart, some plays Rickie Weeks should’ve made but couldn’t due to his injured ankle, a missed cutoff man/throw to the wrong base made by Nyjer Morgan early in the game that allowed two extra Cardinals runners to move up and eventually score, and of course the boneheaded Jerry Hairston’s double-error play), and a lack of timely hitting, combined with a few really bad calls here and there (the low, outside strike was called for the Cardinals, while it wasn’t called for the Brewers; Braun was safe at first on an attempted infield hit, but the ump called him out due to Albert Pujols getting injured on the play and all the costernation over the strawberry Pujols had on his right arm; a home plate call that could’ve gone either way went the way of the Cardinals).

All that said, I’m still glad the Brewers made it so far in the post-season.  I’m proud of their efforts — yes, even Marcum’s, even as bad as Marcum has looked in the past six weeks, I know he tried his best (it’s not his fault that his manager put him out there, either) — I’m proud of the 2011 team, and I hope that the 2012 team will be able to compete more effectively (maybe with better starting pitching and defense?) down the road.

Also, one more time — kudos to Randy Wolf, for pitching the only “quality start” in the entire NLCS.  Your professionalism, poise, and competence was something that I will always remember from the 2011 post-season.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 17, 2011 at 3:09 am

Brewers Losing Game 5, but I Don’t Care

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My Milwaukee Brewers are currently losing to the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-1 in the eighth inning . . . but I don’t care.

You might be wondering why this is so.   Have I lost my love for the Brewers?  (Um, no.)  Have I decided that baseball isn’t that important?  (Well, no . . . it’s still what it’s always been.)

Or is it that baseball isn’t as important as someone else’s life?  (You’re on to something if you picked this option.)

Look.  One of my best friends is in the hospital in Colorado, and I don’t have the financial wherewithal to go visit him.  He has bacteria in his spine, brain and heart; I was contacted by a different friend who let me know what was going on.

I talked with my friend, very briefly, earlier this evening, and he sounds very ill.  He’s been in the hospital for a week and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be getting out any time too soon, either.

Whatever’s gone so wrong for his health that he picked up a major bacterial infection and has landed in the hospital is such a terrible thing that it’s driving out much of anything else.  I don’t have many details, not that they’d probably help if I did; I just know he’s ill, he’s too far away for me to visit, and I can’t do anything to help besides pray.  (Which I am.)

Anyway, the Brewers still have Game 6 in Milwaukee, and can maybe win that.  My brother has a ticket for Game 6 and I really do hope the Brewers will win and tie the series back up at 3-3.

But for now — just for this one game — I’m a lot more worried about my good friend than I am about the Brewers’ World Series hopes.  Because the Brewers can always try again next year for the World Series if they miss it now (it’ll be tough to get there without Prince Fielder, who is assuredly going elsewhere as the Brewers cannot afford the huge contract Fielder wants, but at least it’ll be possible); my friend’s life, on the other hand, is in a real life and death struggle and I’m far more concentrated on that than I am about any sports team, no matter how much I appreciate them or the game of baseball in particular.


Edited to add:  I have added a tag with my friend’s name, Jeff Wilson, for those who knew him.  I’ve had a number of people ask me what Jeff’s illness was; this is the main post where I discussed it.

I really wish I hadn’t felt the need to add the tag, though; it really stinks that Jeff is no longer alive to talk writing, politics, and the world at large with as he was a most excellent conversationalist.  (And my best friend.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Randy Wolf Pitches Great — Brewers Win against Cardinals and Tie Series at 2-2

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The Milwaukee Brewers, going into tonight’s National League Championship Series game against the St. Louis Cardinals, needed at least one pitcher to step up and pitch a good game.   Even Yovani Gallardo, last night’s starter, wasn’t able to pitch well (he had one bad inning, the first inning, which led to last night’s 4-3 loss against the Cards), and he’s the Brewers ace.   

Up until tonight, it was an open question as to whether or not any of the Brewers pitchers would be able to pitch a good game in the NLCS, much less give the Brewers a chance to win due to the strength of their pitching (rather than the Brewers’ hitters ending up having to bailing out the pitchers with their great hitting).

Then left-handed starter Randy Wolf stepped up to the plate and delivered not only a win, but his first-ever post-season victory.  (Talk about pressure.)  

Wolf pitched seven innings, giving up two solo home runs (one, to Cards OF Matt Holliday, was as cheap as they come, barely getting over the fence near the right field foul pole) and nothing else; he was in command, and pitched a calm and competent game to give the Brewers the chance to win.

Fortunately, the Brewers were able to get four runs, first with two runs off Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse in the fourth inning, then a third run in the fifth inning (also off Lohse, then he was removed from the game), and finally a fourth run in the sixth against Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs.   That was all they needed, as Brewers pitchers Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) pitched a scoreless eighth inning for a hold, and John Axford pitched a scoreless ninth for a save.

This win by the Brewers ties the series at 2-2, and guarantees that no matter what happens in game 5 tomorrow night in St. Louis, the Brewers will return to Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.  That’s a good thing, as the Brewers play far better in Miller Park than they do anywhere else — and besides, win or lose, we Brewers fans deserve another chance to cheer for “our guys.”

Mind, I have no idea how Greinke will do in game 5; he didn’t pitch well in game 1, at all, yet managed to eke out a win because the Brewers’ hitters managed to bail Greinke out.  So he’s due to pitch well — but then again, so is Cardinals’ starter Jaime Garcia, who is also returning from a tough stint in game 1 (where his team’s hitters nearly bailed him out).

I guess we’ll see how it goes, but it’s good to know that at least one pitcher besides Gallardo is still capable of buckling down and pitching a good game.  (Thank you very, very much, Randy Wolf!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 13, 2011 at 10:56 pm

Just Reviewed Martin’s “A Feast for Crows” for SBR

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Folks, I thought George R. R. Martin’s A FEAST FOR CROWS wasn’t up to the standard of his other novels in his Song of Ice and Fire series, and said so just now at Shiny Book Review.

Here’s the link:

Have at!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Brewers, Cards tied 1-1; also, DWTS info

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Last night’s Milwaukee Brewers-St. Louis Cardinals game wasn’t worth much as the Cardinals won easily, 12-3 .  Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum again didn’t have it (this was at least the seventh game in a row where Marcum has looked awful), the Cardinals went up 3-0 in the first inning and the Brewers were unable to battle back.

Now, there was a blown call by the first base umpire in the fifth inning, as Rickie Weeks was called out (the second half of an inning-ending double play) when he should’ve been safe.  And there were some defensive lapses in center field by Brewers OF Nyjer Morgan; at least twice, Morgan misplayed the ball (a third time, where he nearly made a great catch after “laying out” with his glove in front of him, was a very fine attempt) and that, too, revised the score upward for the Cardinals (while the blown umpire call definitely revised the Brewers’ score downward because if Weeks had been called safe as he should’ve been, a run would’ve scored in the bottom of the fifth).

So, a brief tally here with that umpire’s blown call revised and Morgan not running the wrong way in the outfield twice would’ve possibly changed the score to something like 7-4 (or 7-5) Cardinals if everything else had been the same.  Which would’ve still been a loss, of course — it just would’ve been a loss that Brewers fans would’ve felt better about.

That Brewers manager Ron Roenicke agrees with Marcum’s self-assessment that Marcum “isn’t pitching that badly” is absurd.  While Marcum has had a number of bloop hits and really light hits fall in lately, he’s also been hit really hard by Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.  It’s also blindingly obvious that  Marcum has missed many of his spots (you don’t want to throw pitches high in the strike zone to Pujols unless you want him to hit .750 against you, yet that’s exactly where Marcum was throwing; later on, Marcum said on the radio post-game show that he “didn’t miss his spot by much.”  What?) and doesn’t look good — instead, he looks like his arm is too tired for him to get any decent pitches over the plate.

Anyway, game 3, which will be played in St. Louis’s home park, Busch Stadium, will be tomorrow night.  The pitching matchup will be Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo, who’s been great in the post-season thus far, and Chris Carpenter, who’s had one bad game and one outstanding game (the outstanding game, of course, was his complete game shutout effort in game 5 in the NLDS versus the Philadelphia Phillies).  This game should be a much closer affair, and will be likely to be determined by how well the two starters pitch rather than how many runs the Cardinals and Brewers can get off two errant starters (as in the previous two games).

Finally, in tonight’s “Dancing with the Stars” results show, Chynna Phillips was voted off.  Phillips was paired with professional partner Tony Dovolani, and the two were a very entertaining pairing; however, on Monday night’s show, Phillips completely forgot her routine and Dovolani had to talk her through it.  This is a real shame, because as I’ve said before, there are a few stars who aren’t as good as Phillips who are still there, including Nancy Grace, Carson Kressley, and as much as I hate to admit it, Chaz Bono.

Now, I vote on the basis of entertainment, improvement, and whether or not I really like the professional dancer (as the longer the pro’s “star” stays on, the more the pro ends up getting paid as I understand it).  Bono, thus far, has shown the most improvement, while of the three I mentioned, Kressley has been the most entertaining.  Lacey Schwimmer, Bono’s pro, is by far my favorite pro dancer on the show, so between the two things — Bono having shown improvement, and Lacey being my favorite pro — they continue to get my votes week after week.  (Mind you, I don’t really know Nancy Grace’s pro dancer, Tristan MacManus, though MacManus seems like a really nice guy and he’s certainly doing his best with Grace.)

The two good “star” dancers on the show, J.R. Martinez and Ricki Lake, are light-years beyond Bono, Grace and Kressley.  But Phillips at her best wasn’t that far behind either Martinez or Lake, which is why it’s such a shame she had an off night and ended up being eliminated.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm