In 2009, Parks and Recreation first aired. A spiritual spin-off (but not an actual spin-off) of The Office, it follows the life of the Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and the rest of the staff of the Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional, Springfield-like city of Pawnee, Indiana.
In 2011, Knope released a book on Pawnee in the show, entitled Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. NBC released the book in the real world.
In 2013, as part of a Netflix/Hulu binge to get caught up on Parks and Recreation before the next season starts, I also read Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. I got it from the library (thankfully, my local library is not run by Ron Swanson’s second ex-wife Tammi). In doing so, I was able to catch a clever baseball reference in it during a section on Pawnee’s school board- which is filled with people who have lots of A’s at the start of their names in order to be at the top of the ballot, helping them win simply through the laziness of the voters of Pawnee. I’ve put the page up below the jump*, can you spot it?
*(Please don’t sue me, NBC!)
Some of you may be wondering what the next installments of Bizarre Baseball Culture will be. Well, here’s a little sneak preview- not really giving out exactly what and exactly when, but some good hints:
Actual Books: There hasn’t been a Bizarre Baseball Culture on fully-written material since the short story that acted as a prologue to this feature. That will soon change, as I am currently reading two books that fit into the realm of Bizarre Baseball Culture. One of them involves time travel, the other involves the Frankenstein Monster. I’m not sure what one I will do, but one of these WILL be the next installment.
Ultimate Sports Force: At the turn of the century, there was a comic company called Ultimate Sports Force that made it’s name making giveaway comics that depicted athletes as actually being superheroes. I have obtained some of these comics, and I can confirm they are as crazy as you could think. How crazy? Well, as I told Michael “Old Time Family Baseball” Clair on Twitter, one of them involves four members of the New York Yankees fighting off meteor-monsters by order of Cal Ripken Jr. and the United States Military. Go back and read that sentence again, and not look for the pieces of your mind, as it has just been blown. Expect to see some Ultimate Sports Force comics between now and winter, although I’m not quite sure of the order yet.
Public Domain Comics: The backbone of early Bizarre Baseball Culture installments, there still are some tales left to tell from way back. There is, however, one public domain story I will not be doing, at least anytime soon: a Captain Marvel Jr. story in which he goes and helps American POWs in a game against the Japanese. The reason I am not covering it is because it is incredibly racist, and even considering that it was a product of being in wartime, I don’t feel comfortable printing any images of it here.
Television: There are other television things I’ll be covering, both live action and cartoon. They will range from shorts like the Goofy segment to longer-form things like the Pokemon and the Pinky and the Brain episodes.
So, keep an eye open….
Do you have any suggestions for “Bizarre Baseball Culture”? Let me know.
So, apparently the winner of “The Bachelorette” played baseball, or something. He’s a guy named Chris Siegfried and he played in the Cubs organization and briefly the Indys. Here are his stats:
|2007||21||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A–A||CHC||2||1||.667||3.83||24||1||11||4||42.1||37||25||18||2||25||40||6||1.465|
|2009||23||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-A+||CHC||3||4||.429||3.38||32||0||12||2||61.1||55||27||23||2||31||51||9||1.402|
|A (3 seasons)||A||7||9||.438||5.39||61||15||13||1||160.1||172||105||96||16||75||105||14||1.541|
|A+ (2 seasons)||A+||6||9||.400||4.12||58||4||19||2||98.1||92||48||45||4||39||93||10||1.332|
|A- (1 season)||A-||0||1||.000||2.35||14||0||9||4||23.0||23||12||6||2||9||17||2||1.391|
|Ind (1 season)||Ind||1||1||.500||3.46||9||0||3||0||13.0||12||6||5||3||2||9||0||1.077|
In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.
Last time on Bizarre Baseball Culture, we took a look at Pinky and the Brain‘s baseball episode. This time, we are looking at the classic Disney short, How To Play Baseball, starring Goofy. It’s available on Disney’s website.
Yes, How to Play Baseball, first released in 1942 to time with the release of Pride of the Yankees, it is one of the classics of the Disney canon, the first of a series of Goofy cartoons in which he tried to play or learn a sport, skill or occupation. While most of the information given in it is more-or-less true, the visuals are exaggerated and done for comedic effect. And, rest assured, this cartoon is hilarious, standing alongside Baseball Bugs as an example of anthropomorphic cartoon animals playing our national game.
“What are we going to do this week, Dan?”
“The same thing we do most weeks, readers… try to find Bizarre Baseball Culture!”
You know how when you come across a movie on cable, they give you a brief description?
Well, here are some baseball movies that must be made, and what their cable TV description would be:
BOBBLEHEAD THE MOVIE: A 1960s bobblehead is forced to come out of retirement to lead his team over more realistically-proportioned action figures. Starring the vocal talents of Kevin Costner, Rainn Wilson.
MURDER MOST FOWL: After the shocking murder of Mrs. Met, the San Diego Chicken must lead the hunt for the mascot responsible. Starring Ted Giannoulas and the guy in the Mr. Met costume.
BAY OF PUIGS: A greedy baseball agent finances a invasion of Cuba, looking to open it up in order to find more talent to sign. Starring William Dafoe and Pitbull.
MINOR PROBLEMS: The GM of a minor league baseball team must escape assassins sent to kill him after a disastrous “Russian Heritage Night”. Starring Paul Giamatti and Zooey Deschanel.
HOSS: The tale of the pitching deity and dapper gent is brought to life. Rated NC-17 for language, violence, excessive drinking, opium use and syphilis.
DINOSAUR BASEBALL: Dinosaurs play baseball —*Television explodes from the awesomeness before you can finish reading it.*
Normally I’d wait until an off-topic Thursday to do this, but I’ve decided to do this while the film is still fresh in my memory.
So, let’s cut to the chase: as an example of “film as art”, Pacific Rim may not be a great movie. It might not even be a good one. It doesn’t have much of a driving moral lesson or deep characters, nor does it provoke thoughts about what it means to be human. You can see 90% of the twists coming and you can spot references or scenes that are much like those in other films. No major new ground is broken.
However, as far as “film as entertainment”, Pacific Rim is a great movie, a eat-your-popcorn-and-enjoy-the-show experience that is also something that is an increasingly rare thing in modern movies: something new and original, and not a sequel, prequel, remake, adaptation or based on a true story.
That isn’t to say that Pacific Rim is something completely new. No, far from it. This is a film that follows in the footsteps of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars, paying tribute to previous traditions while putting a new spin on them. In the case of Pacific Rim, director Guillermo del Toro is paying tribute to Japanese Science Fiction in general and the kaiju (giant monsters- Godzilla, Mothra, etc.) and mecha (giant robots) genres in particular.
Now, with that introduction of my most basic thoughts and a quick primer on the film out of the way, go below the jump to see what I liked and what I didn’t about Pacific Rim.
As an off-topic video, here’s a video I found that combines two of my favorite things: the hilarious movie Anchorman and the cult video game classic Earthbound: