What’s In The Box?

I have some stuff here that you should watch or click on.

– I just learned about a man called Chris Gethard who apparently has a show called The Chris Gethard Show which is either a real television show that is also posted on YouTube or maybe just a YouTube only production…? Fusion…? I don’t know, I’ve only just now seen this one episode with Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas called One Man’s Trash. The entire premise of this episode is that they try and guess what is inside a dumpster. That’s it. And it is the most riveting thing you will watch this year. It’s like waiting to see the outcome of a Anton Chigurh coin flip, but for like 43 fucking straight minutes. I can’t speak to the quality of a single second of this show outside of this episode, but (outside of that weird wrestling promo into the middle that I have no context for) every single second of this episode is amazing. Please, watch this.

– I am very confident in saying that this will be the best song you have heard yet with “terabyte of porn” as the hook. Although I’m not quite ready to proclaim it as the greatest song that you will ever hear with “terabyte of porn” as the hook. The future holds many possibilities. It’s got like a soulful, jazzy sR&BA channel with 114 subscribers should not be making videos this good. And by that I mean, they should have many more subscribers and this should have a lot more views (EDIT: whoa, it really took off after I wrote this). Two bonus things I also loved about this include the FBI badge made with blue ballpoint pen, and the disgusted and reluctant look on her face as she starts getting into the song at the end. Quality all around.

– Congratulations to everyone that called for the next guy to follow the Liam Neeson career arc from dramatic actor to grizzled 50+ year-old action star being…Bob Odenkirk! I mean…I have no idea how you looked at this guy and saw it all play out like this, but I’m sure some of you exist out there, and to you I say kudos.

In what has become something of a signature for Odenkirk, well-known his role as Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill, the actor will play everyday man who gets pushed past his limits.

Yes, like all of us everyday men who have the capability within us to become Keanu-like whirlwinds of horrific headshot violence. I mean…John Wick killed two guys with a pencil. Saul Goodman works at a Cinnabon in Nebraska!

“Lemon, do you think I’m a villain?”
“Well I have heard you say ‘Guards, seize him!'”
“I was a Knicks game, they needed to stop the clock.”

Stone Buddha, The Final Boss

This past Sunday, the Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of Seung-hwan Oh to a major league contract, likely signifying the end of their offseason moves. Reports are that he will be paid $1.75 million for 2018, with $1.5 million in possible incentives, and a $250K buyout for a 2019 option that will vest automatically for $2 million at 70 appearances. So basically $2 million guaranteed for 2018, and if he’s good enough to justify pitching in 70 games then that means keeping him for a tidy $2 million for next year will be pretty decent too. A depth signing for $2 million is not bad at all, but there’s a lot to like with Oh.

Oh was a dominant closer in his native Korea for nine seasons with the Samsung Lions, before crossing over to the NPB for another two with the Hanshin Tigers, posting an impressive 1.81 ERA and 10.7 K/9 over 11 professional seasons in Asia. He then came over to the big leagues with the St Louis Cardinals, debuting with an excellent 2016 season before a very meh 2017 season. Which then leads him here with the Toronto Blue Jays on a bargain deal, keeping his streak of playing for baseball clubs named after fearsome animals alive.

His history of emotionless domination on the mound closing out baseball games also earned him some all-time top notch nicknames, including “Final Boss” in Korea and “Stone Buddha” in Japan. I can’t wait for all the terrible headline puns to come as well. So there’s a lot to like about him.

He is also a 35 year-old pitcher who is coming off his worst professional season. He actually had a deal with the Texas Rangers lined up in early February for $2.75 million guaranteed, until a failed physical nixed the deal. Reportedly the Rangers didn’t like what they saw in an MRI of his arm. Oh, who has already had Tommy John surgery in 2001 while in college, and lost the majority of two seasons in the KBO shoulder and elbow injuries, is certainly no spring chicken.

Oh had a great MLB debut in 2016, eventually winning the closer job for a pretty good 86-win Cardinals team. He put up a 1.92 ERA while striking out 103 over 79.2 innings, good for almost 3 wins (2.6 fWAR and 2.8 bWAR) out of the bullpen. But then 2017 happened, and he stunk. His ERA ballooned up to 4.10, he allowed a ton more fly balls (GB% dropped from 40% to 28.7% and HR/9 tripled from 0.56 to 1.52), he stopped striking guys out (K/9 dropped from 11.64 to 8.19, swinging strike % from 18% to 12.9%) , and he was removed as a closer to become just one of many mediocre low leverage mini-bosses in the Cardinal bullpen.

But keeping in line with the rest of the Jays’ moves this offseason to raise the floor of the roster with small, cheap moves with upside (and to collect St Louis castoffs), there’s some optimism with this signing as well.

Between 2016 and 2017, his pitch velocities and walk numbers remained the same (BB% 5.8% to 5.7%). So there’s no obvious signs of aging in that area at least. And he actually allowed more soft contact (15.3% to 22.4%) and less hard contact (34.2% to 28.1%)…even though his BABIP went up 50 points (.270 to .319) so there’s some weirdness to his 2017 season. FanGraphs has a great article that I stole most of this from, about how Oh inadvertently changed his mechanics, causing a lower release point that prevented him from getting on top of his pitches, thus reducing the movement of his splitter and slider.

And indeed, when we look at these two frames of Oh’s release point on two random pitches from the 2016 and 2017 season…

…you can clearly see no discernible difference, because we are not professional baseball scouts and I don’t really know what I’m talking about. I actually may have even mixed up which one was from which year, I have no idea. Honestly…these might even be from the same year, who fucking knows.

But for $2 million and change, it’s a nice, low risk move to shore up some depth for what might be a surprisingly good Blue Jays bullpen. And there’s a non-zero chance this might turn out to be a pretty good move if Oh regains some of his 2016 form. Or he completely falls apart because maybe two decades of contorting his arm due to inhuman rotational speeds have just caught up to his 35 year-old tragically human body. Which is basically something you can say about almost any signing, so you have to wonder…why did I even bother saying it?

This isn’t even my final form!

It Is Fucking Cold Outside

As I stood in the record setting cold this morning waiting for public transportation, I struggled in a way that I’m sure many other of us in this city, on this cold morning struggled as well. As I kept my hands exposed to play games on my phone, they got colder and colder. And eventually I had to make that Sophian choice between boredom or frostbite. I chose boredom, electing to preserve the functionality of my hands and opposable thumbs for future mobile gaming opportunities.

I pray I made the right choice.

– Someone inserted Will Smith into the grand Star Wars mythos in this delightful Independence Day: A Star Wars Story mashup, and I am eternally grateful. I’ll never know why the universe took two decades to put this in front of me, but it doesn’t matter. I have realized my destiny.

– Much has been said here already about the merits The Big Bang Theory, so I don’t really want to ramble on again about how funny or unfunny the show is, I’m just here to make one last point about it. We’ve all pointed to these awkward scenes with the laugh track removed as “evidence” of how unfunny the show is, never mind the fact that removing a keep component of a comedy show’s format causing it’s pace and timing to be disrupted and make it feel kind of weird is not something that is necessarily unique to this show in particular. The laugh track serves the format of a multiple camera sitcom. I mean yes, the actual lines they’re ending on to elicit the audience laughter less punchlines and more…just general statements, but would Seinfeld still be funny without a laugh track? …actually yes, but okay, fine whatever. Anyway, my point is…replacing The Big Bang Theory‘s audience laugh track (or the legitimate sounds of oddly enthusiastic laughter arising from being “filmed in front of a live studio audience”) with the prerecorded sound of Ricky Gervais laughing raises it to a totally new height, transcending the sum of its parts. I would watch 18 to 22 minutes of this every week if it was available. I mean…some of it becomes like laughing at “him” because you’re wondering what he’s picking up on that’s so funny…and then the whole thing becomes even funnier. Layers upon delicious layers.

– Here’s an interesting article in which some dudes (researches, scientists, programmers?) are using deep learning and Google Street View to estimate the demographic makeup of neighborhoods across the United States. Pretty nifty correlations are seen when using 50 million images of Google Street View to identify objective visual details across neighbourhoods in 200 American cities. Cars in particularly seem to be the most useful to look at since “over 90% of American households own a motor vehicle, and their choice of automobile is influenced by disparate demographic factors including household needs, personal preferences, and economic wherewithal”…so you can tell a lot from a neighbourhood’s choice of car. As opposed to say…shrubbery or landscaping, spaces between houses, lot sizes, house exteriors, or blurry images of people on the street. So plug all the images into a machine learning algorithm, teach it how to identify makes and models of cars, reference it census and election voting data, and boom goes the dynamite. It’s a neat read, so you should go through it yourself, but some interesting details…

  • The strongest indicator that a neighbourhood was primarily Asian was the presence of Toyotas. Secondary indicators include…minivans, Hondas, and cars made in 1990-1994. Using all factors together their model was able to identify demographic attribute of “Asian” pretty accurately (r=0.87).
  • Strongest indicators for white neighbourhoods were Aston Martins, Volkswagens, minivans, Jeeps, and extended cabs. Was a bit harder to nail down the whites, as there’s some more scattering here, but still not bad (r=0.77).
  • They get better at predicting black neighbourhoods (r=0.81) which have top indicators of cars made in 2010-2014, sedans, and Chryslers, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles.
  • The indicators are actually better at predicting Asians (r=0.87) than at predicting median household income (r=0.82). The latter of which I would have thought would be easier to find based on just presumably a pretty strong correlation with the price of the car…but I guess Asians driving Toyotas are more likely than rich people having expensive cars.
  • Cities that have more pickup trucks than sedans were more likely to vote Republican (88% chance). On the flip side, cities that have more sedans than pickup trucks were more likely to vote Democrat (82% chance). It’s that simple, we’re all just numbers in the end.

I know we had stereotypes in our heads already, but now they can be collaborated against objective statistics! And this is all just based on studying 500 million pictures of questionable quality from Google Street View, which included 22 million identified vehicles, representing 32% of vehicles within these 200 cities, or just 8% of total vehicles in the United States. As self-driving cars that use cameras to navigate start to populate the roads – “Tesla vehicles currently take as many images as were studied here every single day” – there’s going to be a considerably larger sample size to study. So if a half dozen guys from Stanford University can put this together with what amounts to just a virtual stroll around American neighbourhoods, you gotta wonder what the genius tech giants out there have already figured out based on much deeper cuts of our lives available to them.

I have contained my rage for as long as possible, but I shall unleash my fury upon you like the crashing of a thousand waves! Begone, vile man! Begone from me! A starter car? This car is a finisher car! A transporter of gods! The golden god! I am untethered, and my rage knows no bounds!

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It is upon us!

Oops, this was actually for Friday, so I have backdated this post and just hoped no one would notice.

While we’re here, let’s all enjoy the classic Simpsons steamed hams scene which has also somehow simultaneously become a Guitar Hero song.

Snow dad’s better than no dad!

The Greatest Of All Time (1977-2017)

Oof. Man…I wasn’t ready for this. But who was?

I had expected to get a chance to celebrate when he would visit the SkyDome again and have his named added to the Level of Excellence as the greatest Blue Jay of all time. And then I had expected to get a chance to celebrate when he was voted into the Hall of Fame, becoming only the second player to be inducted as a Toronto Blue Jay. And then again when they would announce #32 would be retired, just like Alomar’s #12 when he was inducted.

But now he won’t be there when those things happen, we won’t be able to see him smile and wave to the crowd and drink up the loud, deafening, concrete-reverberated cheers of 50,000 people packed into that stadium to watch him do it. And that’s a tough thing that a lot of people, like me, are going to have to come to terms with this week.

I was watching the Dodgers two weeks ago in the World Series, and thinking about how they had such a grand, enjoyable history. In Game 1 at home they brought out Jackie Robinson’s family to throw out the first pitch. In Game 2 they had Vin Scully, Steve Yeagar, and Fernando Valenzuela. In Game 6 they had Orel Hershiser and Tommy Lasorda. In Game 7, Dodgers pitching legends Sandy Koufax and Don Newcombe. That’s a lot of Hall of Famers. And I kept thinking about how if the Jays ever made the World Series, we would eventually finally have our own Hall of Famer pitcher to bring onto the field in order to mooch off his mojo.

I typed up some words about Roy Halladay years ago when he retired, but I don’t really think it’s appropriate now to talk about his statistical accomplishments as a baseball player. The biggest single thing I remember about Doc was that he was always there. And he was always there. As long as his name was penciled in on the roster, there was some glimmer of hope for the season. For an absurd amount of innings every year, for a straight decade. He was there every four days, either extending a streak or busting a slump. And he was there on the mound for Opening Day to celebrate a new, fresh baseball season every year. For all those times we caught a game with those Star Passes after school and had the fortune to catch a brief, vintage two-hour long pitching clinic. He was a very bright spot on a team that didn’t collectively didn’t accomplish much during that time, which means he should be treasured even more. He was an unstoppable, emotionless, feared baseball playing robot.

And in retirement, turned out to be as much of a goofball as he was a terminator during his playing days.

And now…he’s not here any more. I’m not good enough of a writer to properly articulate this loss for this city and its fans. I’m not sure if anyone is really, although there have been a lot of nice articles these last two days written about him.

It was a sad day yesterday. And it’s a sad day today, and it’ll be sad for a bunch of days to come still.

It is impossible to express what he has meant to this franchise, the city and its fans.

The Juice Is Loose

I think I did it. I think I finally rid myself of a need to post. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, mind you. You could see a relative trend towards it over the last few years, but the drop off lately has been quite pronounced I’m happy to say. Usually when you are trying to immobilize a cat, you must hack away at the foundations that hold it up – namely it’s legs. And the pillars upon which this grotesque cat torso have historically rested upon have always mainly been stupid internet links and original material. And now everyone has their own source for funny videos and silly GIFs in 2017, and you will find that the need or the interest in expressing your own individual thoughts on the internet takes a sharp downturn when you turn 30.

It could just be cynicism. Or maybe more specific…a fatigue you acquire after realizing that it’s not always possible to make the world a more interesting place by opening your mouth. Or typing your fingers I guess, whatever. This is a fatigue that you acquire even faster when witnessing others opening their dumb mouths and seeing meaningless chatter spill out in their inane voices. But sometimes there’s a deep rooted need still to fill the void with matter. Any matter, just stuff something in there, create some crap and spread it on the walls. That’s still something I’m working on, which is where I find myself today.

Also metaphors. I’m working on metaphors. How to frame things in more relevant metaphors, but I have broken cat legs in my mind right now and it’s hard to shake.

Earlier this August, a date passed that would have marked the 15th anniversary of this site’s existence. And that would be a notable consideration if anything of significance ever happened here, but we’ve never really been about that. 15 years! That’s a long time to carry something around. You’d think things like this wouldn’t stain your life forever, and that you could eventually move on after a decade and a half. But life doesn’t work like that, and it’s unfair.

Just look at OJ Simpson.

He was the NFL MVP in 1973 (44 years ago!!!) and it’s still all anyone can talk about when the topic turns to OJ. Oh, no one had ever rushed for 2,000 yards before. Oh, it was the Bills’ first winning record since 1966. Oh, OJ led the league in rushing touchdowns, yards from scrimmage, and total rushing yards. Oh, he ran for 143.1 yards per game, 10 more than any other player in NFL history. Oh, he did it all in a 14-game season as well. I mean I’m sick of it, the man has a life outside of football, let’s move on already. Surely a man cannot be defined by such a singular act for the rest of their life.

I don’t remember what I was originally planning on expressing with this. Is there a metaphor here…? I will try again next post.

‘Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them

What Song Is That?

Holy shit, Finland celebrated it’s 100th year in some fucking style.

The fact that the countdown was timed against the beat drop is amazing, there is no better way to get hyped up for a new year like this. Over here, watching a ball slowly descend down seems practically Neanderthalian in comparison.

What’s even more impressive is knowing that they’ve done this 99 previous times before and the song still hasn’t gotten old.

The greatest thing I’ve seen all year.

Vuosi 2017 otettiin vastaan Sandstormin tahtiin, ilotulitusten välkkeessä.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It is upon us!

And boy it sure is. I had meant to bang this out yesterday when it actually happened, but I was too busy wasting my life away at Billy Bishop Airport.

Two flights cancelled by a light dusting of snow, five hours sitting in the airport, loading up into a plane and then disembarking again because we sat around on the runway too long and missed the curfew at 11:01 PM. And then this morning – the 7:30 flight boarded before my 6:45 flight, what is the matter with you?

I mean the bigger question is why my company thinks it is worth any value at all to put me on a plane to physically somewhere for work purposes. They are literally paying money for me to be closer to something that I will likely foul up. That just seems like a bad idea.

…unless something big and important is happening and I’m just on some wild wacky fake assignment to keep me busy and out of town.

Regardless…BOOOOOOOO Porter Airlines, BOOOOOOOO!

Like what is the deal with you anyway? What is this?

I see right through you, Porter. Trying to sell your second rate aviation service with two Asian girls wearing cylinder hats? Everyone knows that cylinders are the most basic curvilinear geometric shapes…and also the most erogenous as well. “Aw yeah baby let’s make a Steinmetz solid together and get real freaky.” Offensively transparent!

I had less than four hours of sleep last night and I’ve been up since 5AM on a busy day of work. And then I had a large poutine for lunch.

Those are like the exact identical conditions I used to thrive in during my university days, but for like…entire weeks at a time. Except now I am on the wrong side of 30 and I’m crashing hard. I don’t have the fast twitch muscles to catch up with the fastballs anymore.

I’ve written quite a lot of these posts.

Snow dad’s better than no dad!

Rock, Flag, And Eagle

So far in 2016…

In January, the World Health Organization announced an outbreak of the Zika virus in the Americas. Between its discovery in 1947 and 2007, there were 14 confirmed human cases. This is the first time it’s touched the Americas, now estimated to be infecting as high as 1.5 million people in Brazil alone. And David Bowie died.

In February, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar.

In April, Prince died.

In June, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, which they joined 43 years ago when it was still just the European Economic Community. And Muhammad Ali died.

In August, the Summer Olympics are held in Brazil where people from all over the world gathered together in one place to get bit by Zika mosquitoes and have Zika sex with each other.

In October, the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series since 1908.

In November, the United States of America elected Donald Trump as their 45th President, stunning the world not unlike how Trump himself was Stone Cold stunned at Wrestlemania XXIII.

It has been a really weird and wild ride so far in 2016.

Mass Effect: Andromeda will receive its first-ever gameplay trailer at The Game Awards 2016 which is scheduled to take place on December 1.

They’re Still Shitty

Some quick words to write.

– What a fucking ride that was. Hard to fault a well constructed team that was playing wells – sometimes you just get beat. Basically the American League’s #2 and #3 offenses just came together in the lowest scoring ALCS in history while Toronto’s bullpen – who lead the league in losses – allowed zero runs. That’s baseball for you.

– A curious look which teams accrued the most frequent flyer miles this season. No surprise the Mariners are up there (they probably lead this every year) but interesting to see the least traveled team was also the league’s best team and the current favourites to win the World Series…even though they haven’t even made it there yet. Baseball is rigged! “Circumstances!”

– Check out the “phantom championship” merchandise for the Toronto Blue Jays. Also known as parallel universe merchandise or this year’s fashion trend for impoverished African children. Although these are likely just digital mock-ups and probably only a few, if any, were actually created. Sorry kids. I thought I would get a funny kick out of this, but I was wrong. It’s too soon, the wound is too fresh still, and the stitches ripped apart like the drone-cut laceration on the pinky finger of Trevor Bauer’s throwing hand. Disgusting.

– Have you watched Luke Cage? It was kinda meh for me, but since it led to this Family Matters intro, that’s all I need. Best one yet!

Freddie Wong’s still making stuff! Big time stuff now – he’s sold out in the greatest way possible. How fun is this, to make such a silly wacky video with such big company characters and all these neato cosplay toys? He made a YouTube video sponsored by Blizzard! God bless you, Freddie.

– Ha, Pikachu dressed up as Mario. That’s hilarious. Also there’s like this new “Switch” thing or whatever, but who cares.

Sweet Christmas!


Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.



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