KingMidget's Ramblings

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215,094 With A Bullet

Back in the old days, the music charts would signify a hot song with the phrase “with a bullet” to describe a song that was rising fast in the charts.  As in “Debbie Boone’s ‘You Light Up My Life’ is at #12 with bullet this week after rising 32 spots.”  Can’t you just hear Casey Kasem saying that?

A few years ago, when I was in the midst of my writing/publishing journey, I signed up on Authorgraph’s website because it promised a way for readers to get e-books signed by the authors. After a test run, I was less than impressed with the technology and haven’t done anything with it since. Of course, that I’ve kind of stopped writing is another reason.  But, anyway…

I still get emails from the site that update me on how my novel One Night in Bridgeport is doing on the ol’ Kindle best listings.  Usually, it is ranked in the mid 700,000s without much change even though I rarely sell a Kindle download on Amazon’s website.  (Oddly, it’s different over at the UK version of Amazon — where I continue to rack up 5-10 Kindle downloads per month.  Apparently the Brits have a thing for small town justice in America.)

Yesterday, as is my habit every week or two, I checked the website that provides the daily reports on sales of Kindle e-books.  I was shocked to see a download for the US Amazon site.  And lo and behold, this morning I got an email from Authorgraph indicating that One Night in Bridgeport was up on the 215,094th spot on the ol’ Kindle sales charts.  Up a grand total of 552,500 spots.  Based on one download.  If that doesn’t indicate this book is hot, I don’t know what does.

Go out and get your copy before it’s too late!

And, oh, by the way, this review from Teresa just showed up on Goodreads:

We all make choices … everyday. We choose what we will have for breakfast or which shoes to wear or whether to write with blue or black ink. Most of the choices we make on a daily basis won’t have a long lasting impact on our lives. A few will have life altering results, however.

This story is about one of those life altering choices and the downward spiral that follows. We watch what happens when a trial takes place in a small town with public opinion ruling the jury, a district attorney with his own agenda, a judge with a multitude of personal issues, lies, gossip, guilt, speculation and a desire for revenge. A man’s life unravels because of a decision he made one night.

I liked this book. It caught my attention immediately, had interesting subplots and characters as well as being twisty in places.

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A Moment

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I Give Up

I have resisted every knee jerk reaction people have had to conclude that Donald Trump is a racist. It’s been difficult to maintain my resistance.

The reason for my resistance is that I don’t know the man. I’ve never met the man. (I consider that a blessing these days.) I don’t like reaching conclusions like that about people I don’t know and haven’t met.

But I give up.

His tweet about Puerto Rico that “They want everything to be done for them” is either racist or so remarkably tone deaf. It may be a dog whistle to the worst of the right wing. It is reminiscent of the statements of the right with respect to those pesky brown people and poor people who just want to mooch off the government. Statements I’ve been hearing and reading for decades.

Let’s back up for a moment though.

From what I’m seeing on the news and the interwebs, Puerto Rico is an island of three million American citizens that was … well completely destroyed by the last hurricane. And destroyed may be an understatement. Almost the entire island is without power and may be for months. Half the population doesn’t have access to running water. Now, imagine if your city, town or state were to be experiencing that. No power, no water. And, oh by the way, vast swaths of massive destruction of property, including homes and business. I think it’s safe to say that Puerto Rico is facing a catastrophe we can’t even begin to understand in which it doesn’t matter how much they do themselves, they are in desperate need of outside help.

And you know what? American help isn’t outside help. Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They are us. We are them.

But not to our President. “They” are not him. They are all brown. And they just want everything done for them.

I’m disgusted.

The reality is that I still don’t know if Trump is a racist. More than anything he is a classist and a narcissist. It’s not people of other races he abhors, it’s people who aren’t as “good” as him, based on his personal definition of “good.” All who haven’t conquered the world like he has are simply unworthy of him.

I’m disgusted. Whatever he is, he is a despicable human being. And he’s the President of the United States. While virtually every member of his Administration has and will resign either in disgrace or disgust, Trump just continues on. Tom Price resigned because he was wasting government money on chartered jets. But Trump and his family’s travel expenses make Price’s look like the difference between the money spent on a top of the line Mercedes and a Yugo.

I’m disgusted. This cannot continue.

A Class Act

I regularly have these conversations with other sports fans.

“Whose your favorite baseball player?

“I don’t have favorite players.  I follow teams.”

“But Posey?  Pence?  Curry?  Lebron?”

“No.  I follow teams.  With all of the movement of players from team to team and all of the things you learn about their human weaknesses at some point, I don’t fall in love with the players.  I follow the teams.”

As long as I can recall being a fan of sports, when it comes to the team games in America, I have been a fan of the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  I’ve spent my life in Northern California. As a result, that last favorite team — the Steelers — frequently results in raised eyebrows.  The thing is, I grew up in the 70s.  The decade when the Steelers were winning four Super Bowls, the 49ers sucked, and the Raiders were the root of all evil. I’ve been a Steelers fan ever since.

The reality is, however, that my first, last, and only love when it comes to real and true sports fandom is the San Francisco Giants. I have struggled with remaining interested in the NBA as the game has grown more and more boring as the years go by. It’s only the recent success of the Warriors that has brought be back into the fold. And the NFL? Bah. I detest them. Their dominance. Their arrogance. The fact that as the baseball season turns its late summer attention to heated pennant races, the sports pages turn their attention to the NFL preseason — as in, practice and games that don’t count. I have hated that for years. If I had my way, although I follow the NFL because I am an inveterate sports fan, the league would cease to exist. Tomorrow.

But the Giants. The baseball San Francisco Giants. It’s been a love affair ever since I was a child. Listening to them on the radio on KNBR as I went to sleep. Reading the box scores in the paper every morning for years. Decades. Living through years and years and years of suffering.

Followed by a magical five year run with three World Series championships. I believe I can speak for many Giants fans when I say, I didn’t know how to act.

The thing is that their success didn’t change things for me. I remained a fan of the team. The players were another story. I never attached myself to any of them or considered the players to be my heroes or role models or anything like that.

As the 2017 season winds towards its hideous, horrible end for us Giants fans, however, I’m beginning to realize that I missed something in my being a fan of a team and trying to resist the significance of the individuals.

This will be the last season for Matt Cain. He first made an appearance for the San Francisco Giants in 2005, at the tender age of 20. From that point on, he became a mainstay in the Giants rotation for the next ten years. At the end of this season, he will have spent his entire professional career in the Giants organization.

Matt Cain was class.  For the first few years of his life as a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, he pitched remarkably well, but recorded more losses than wins because the Giants offense absolutely sucked. He never complained.

Matt Cain was class. He went out and did his job. He pitched every five days. He gave his team a chance to win almost every one of those games. And when the offense failed, he never complained. He never whined. He just went out five days later and did it again.

Matt Cain was class. In 2010 and 2012, he was a fundamental piece of the San Francisco Giants first two World Series Championships. He was 4-2 in the postseason, with an ERA below 3.00. In the World Series, he pitched twice, with one victory to his credit and an ERA below 2.00. Things changed by 2014 and the third and final run to the World Series. He didn’t pitch an inning in the postseason. And he never complained. He never griped.

Matt Cain was class. He persevered. Did his job. Earned three World Series rings. He pitched a perfect game in 2012. He ends his career now with more losses than wins, but it wasn’t his fault. And he has never complained.

A few years ago, after a season of struggle, Matt Cain went under the surgeon’s knife to remove bone spurs from the elbow of his pitching arm. He has never been the same since. Imminently hittable and remarkably unsuccessful after almost ten years of incredible success.

The thing that always baffled me about Matt Cain was that he didn’t seem to have any awesome gifts as a pitcher. His fastball was routine — not up in the high 90’s, not a lot of movement. It always seemed so flat and hittable. He didn’t have a huge, sweeping curve. Or something else that would baffle batters. Except for the only thing that is left. Pinpoint location. When he threw a pitch, it went where he meant it to go. And he could mix things up just enough to keep batters off balance.

Maybe somebody else who knows more about pitching can explain it, but what was so great about Matt Cain was his success without any apparent strength.

A few years ago, Matt Cain signed a contract extension that paid him over $20 per year for a few years. The contract runs out this year. Unlike some athletes who try to hang on, convinced that they have one more year and if they could only get that one year, things could turn around and maybe they would have another year, and another, Matt Cain has announced his retirement at the end of the season.

Tomorrow he will have his last start as a Giants pitcher. As a major league pitcher. I plan on watching the game. I want to watch a baseball hero. A man who did his job. He never whined. He never complained. No drama. Absolutely nothing other than that he went out and pitched every time his manager gave him the ball. He achieved success beyond anybody’s wildest dreams. And he recognized when his time was over.

Matt Cain was … and is … class. He will be missed by this Giants fan and by many others as well.

Alejandro Villanueva Should Not Apologize

As a lot of people do, I have strong feelings about the whole “taking a knee” phenomenon going on in the NFL.  Started by Colin Kaepernick during the pre-season last year, it initially started as him sitting during the National Anthem.  He drew no attention to his actions, made no public statement, did nothing at all until somebody asked.

And all hell broke loose.

It makes no difference to me the political reasons for standing, sitting, kneeling, or napping during the National Anthem, I believe that peaceful protest is a fundamental part of the character of our nation. And each of us have the right to do so. There is no symbol that is greater than that right.

You all probably know what has happened in the last few days.  Trump tweeted. (I know, I was shocked too.) Trump’s tweet made things worse instead of better. (I know, I was shocked too.) And an uproar ensued. (I know, I was shocked too.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers was one of several teams that decided to remain in the locker room during the National Anthem. They described it as the best way to stay unified as a team and remove themselves from what had essentially become a political powder keg. I’m not sure that really makes sense, but okay. (Side note — I’m a lifelong Steelers fan, so accept that for whatever bias you want here.)

There was one exception to the Steelers’ decision. Alejandro Villaneuva, a graduate of U.S. Military Academy, played football for Army, served as an Army Ranger including three tours in Afghanistan. While the rest of his team stayed in the locker room, Villaneuva stood just outside the tunnel and held his hand over his heart during the National Anthem.

His coach expressed dismay at this, and today he has apologized for making his coach and teammates look bad.

No.

He didn’t make his teammates look bad.

Alejandro Villaneuva did the exact same thing his teammates and many others have demanded they have the right to do — to respond to the National Anthem as they see fit. Whether in “respect” for it, or as a means of protesting a larger issue.

There is nothing wrong with what Villanueva did and his decision should be respected and admired, just as much as those of us who support Kaepernick and the other protesters believe their actions should be respected.

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