Friday, October 30, 2009

Aw2pp's Wii Baseball Tips

I apologize for this post. You can't expect me always to maintain my usual level of brilliance. This post goes out to my children, especially Jason, who, for the life of him, can't figure out how to beat me in Wii baseball. My Wii baseball rating is something like 2200, which won't impress the local junior high crowd*, but qualifies as big-time stuff at the Moose Lodge down the road.

* - According to my marketing department, we aren't really reaching that demographic anyway. I guess piano blogging just doesn't capture the next generation's attention like it should.

Here, for the benefit of all (or at least Jason), are my tips. I'll post them in the context of competing against the computer itself, but they work just as well when going against a live human being.

In some respects, Wii baseball success is brought about by doing things successful baseball players and teams do at the MLB level. One of these is to take a lot of pitches. Except in certain circumstances (hold that thought), I don't swing unless there are two strikes on the batter. The goal is to quickly elevate the other pitcher's pitch count, so that they get tired and start making mistakes. The #1 thing I wish I could do better is to hit foul balls on purpose. If you can, good on ya. I can't, so I take as many pitches as I can.

The difficulty here is that it's hard to be successful with this strategy if the other pitcher is pounding the strike zone. If they are throwing a lot of strikes, you're likely to see some quick scoreless innings. Thankfully, this is pretty rare. Don't stress if you aren't scoring much, if you get elevate the pitch count, you'll score plenty when the other pitcher tires out.

A best-case scenario is that the pitcher will walk a few batters, and maybe you'll pair a few walks and hits to score a few runs. But for the first (and to a lesser extent, second) inning, the most important thing is to get the pitcher to throw lots of pitches, hopefully at least 25 per inning. You'll know they reach that point when they start sweating. After they throw 50 pitches, they'll begin sweating profusely, and... well, I get ahead of myself.

Don't throw strikes
Meanwhile, while you are on the mound, stay out of the strike zone. Again, much like real baseball, the goal is to get the batter to swing at your pitch. Wii batters tend not to take many pitches; if you can get them to swing at something out the strike zone, it's almost always a good thing for you.

As a warning, I'll add that if you have a big lead, especially a big early lead, the Wii computer will override your pitch location selections, and you'll end up throwing strikes whether you want to or not. Natch, the other team will then smack the ball around the yard like it's the All Star Home Run Derby. Just accept it. Sometimes, the machine just has to have its way.

When I get two strikes on a Wii batter, I almost always throw split finger pitches until they strike out, dribble a grounder to an infielder, or walk. Which leads me to...

Recognize the split finger pitch
There are a couple things you need to know about the split finger pitch. First and foremost, it is never a strike, unless you choose to swing at it. Second, you can't hit it. The computer can, if it is in the mood, and may sometimes (very rarely) get a hit, but you can't. Which means you should never, never swing at it.

Once caveat: if the computer is in a grouchy mood, it will make you "miss" a split finger pitch, and you'll end up lobbing a slow meatball right down the middle of the plate. On which the batter will tee off. Dance with the devil...

Mix Up Your Pitches
Pretty simple, and again, much like real baseball. Alternate the speed and location of your pitches. Fast in, slow away, vice versa. Get two strikes, then throw your split.

The Exclamation Mark
Here is where you close the deal. Assuming you have made the other pitcher throw a lot of pitches, somewhere near the middle to end of the second inning, they'll get really tired, sweating a storm. When they get to this point, you'll notice them making "mistakes", which you'll recognize by the appearance of an exclamation mark (!, just to be clear) above their head when they deliver a pitch. When you see an exclamation mark pitch, go ahead and hammer it. This is my exception to the "Swing only with two strikes" rule... if it's the third inning, and the pitcher is throwing one exclamation point after another, I'll go ahead and swing with the wild abandon of a Dominican rookie.

The tireder (hey, that's a word?) they get, the more mistakes they'll make. When you get to this point, it is not uncommon to plate 10 or more runs in an inning.

- Aw2pp, filmed live before a studio audience

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I did not win my football pool this week. I'd like to blame my loss on the Bears, as I optimistically predicted they'd beat Cincinnati, even assigning a 9 point weight to the pick. Truth is, most of the pool participants are myopic Bear fans*, and they too put heavy points on a Bear win. So when the Bengals dominated the Bears 45-10 Sunday, the result had an insignificant effect on our confidence pool.

* - My choice was less a vote of confidence in the Bears, and more of an aspersion cast against the Bengals. I doubted they could continue to post miraculous last-second wins. As it turns out, I was right about this, but not in the way I expected. As for the Bears, I have no delusions that an NFL team trotting out 4 Vanderbilt graduates in their opening day starting lineup could possibly be any good.

We've not once talked football here, and we're not going to anytime soon in the near future. So why now? Well, as an excuse to post cute pictures of Rowan, naturally. (You didn't see that coming, did you? Keeping you on your toes, I try.) The Bears have not had cheerleaders since retiring the Honeybears after the 1985 Super Bowl. Ironically, they won that game by virtually the same score as Sunday's loss, 46-10... and haven't won a Super Bowl since. Is there a Honeybear curse?

I think the Bears should revive the "Dancing Girls", as Old Man Halas called them. Inspired by this level of cuteness, Super Bowl wins should follow soon thereafter. Even if 20% of the starting lineup comes from Vanderbilt.

- Aw2pp,who agrees that the senseless waste of pitting these two mighty forces of nature against each other, like matter vs. anti-matter, will be a tragedy, not only for the teams involved, but for our planet. All nations must band together, to ensure that such a conflagration never takes place.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Quick update on my recital piece

Just a quick hitter to say that, over the weekend, I got about 4 hours of bench time, and made significant progress on my Clementi Sonatina Recital piece. Which says more about where it was than where it is, but still, I now like my chances of having something in the hopper by November 12.

(Heading to Nashville that weekend, so I can't wait until the 11th hour like I usually do.)

- Aw2pp, a member in good standing of the Rock n Roll Justice League of Illinois

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Imeem, I am done with you

The whole point of embedding an Imeem player for recordings was that you didn't have to go anywhere else to hear the music. Then they started embedding ads in their embedded player, which I did my best to remove before posting. They seem to have figured that bit of trickery out, and now only allow you (me, anyone) to embed the first 30 seconds of a given sound clip.

Imeem, I am done with you. All further recordings will be posted using links only.

- Aw2pp, who originally posted this without adding anything here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

"The Berlin Reunion"

Ok, bear with me here. I'm not sure I can explain this in a sufficiently compelling way... you're probably better off just clicking this link, and bypassing my commentary entirely.

The Berlin Reunion - as shown by The Big Picture

For those of you who are still here (why are you still here?), here is what the others are seeing, as described by The Big Picture:

Earlier this week, 1.5 million people filled the streets of Berlin, Germany to watch a several-day performance by France's Royal de Luxe street theatre company titled "The Berlin Reunion". Part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Reunion show featured two massive marionettes, the Big Giant, a deep-sea diver, and his niece, the Little Giantess. The storyline of the performance has the two separated by a wall, thrown up by "land and sea monsters". The Big Giant has just returned from a long and difficult - but successful - expedition to destroy the wall, and now the two are walking the streets of Berlin, seeking each other after many years apart.

The photos (including the one below) tell the rest of the story.

I know it sounds implausibly silly, but the pictures are very moving, and do a reasonable job of conveying the story and emotions that surround it. And 1.5 million people showed up to see this? Around here, you need an air show, or maybe Oprah, to draw that kind of crowd.

Anyway, take about five minutes to see what they did. I'll file this under Internet Drivel, but it isn't your typical Internet Drivel.

- Aw2pp, who is doing his best to make up for a slow posting month

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"I'll take SWORDS for $200, Trebek"

I can't express to you how much I enjoyed this. My soul is fed. I may as well call it a day right now.

- Aw2pp, two-time Osage Chief.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Streets of Laredo

Continuing with a relatively heavy posting schedule this week, I now offer for your approval my version of the next Alfred's Book 2 assignment. I actually had this one completed before Introduction and Dance (a pox on it), but the purist in me wouldn't allow the blogger in me to post it (Laredo) without having completed the earlier piece (Intro) first. link - My recording

Streets of Laredo - Aw2pp

My favorite version, of the hundreds scores dozens one or two recordings I've heard comes from Nashville musician and self-proclaimed Last of the Full Grown Men: Webb Wilder*.

* - Not his real name, I'm sure.

By this point, my 30 second version of the song is surely done (you listened, right?), so why not hear a professional's take. link - Webb's version

Streets Of Laredo (The Cowboys Lament) - Webb Wilder

It's simultaneously an interesting, sad, and perplexing song. Apparently all the following is true:

A cowboy is a drunken gambler lowlife. Said gambler is also a cheat, and got caught. So somebody shot him. At which point, while dead ("dressed in white linen and cold as the clay"), he wanders the Streets of Laredo, and comes across the, uh, narrator. Whom he doesn't know ("I see by your outfit* that you are a cowboy..."). So he (the now dead cowboy cheating gambler) spends the rest of the song describing what happened to him, finishing up with very specific funeral arrangements. Which the narrator (again, a stranger, mind you) dutifully follows, even arranging for a sextet of prostitutes to sing a song in his memory. And why? Because, shucks, that kid, that's just the way he rolled, and they all loved him like that.

* I can just imagine this conversation between two rough characters.

"Nice outfit!"
"Oh this? Just something I threw together this morning."
"No, really, it's simply dashing** the way it conveys your cowboy-ness."
"Uh, thanks. Say, your outfit is... unusual. Looks like some bedsheets. And come to think of it, you also look kinda pale. Is that a new base you're working with? Or is there a toga party I am missing somewhere?"
"Oh, that. Well, funny you should mention it..."

** Yes, they actually use the word "dashing" in this song.

That's quite a bit of inconsistency to try to digest. And yet? It's still vastly superior to "Those Were The Days". (I know, it's time to move on.)

The Streets of Laredo (The Cowboy's Lament)

As i walked out in the streets of Laredo
As i walked out in Laredo one day
I saw a young cowboy dressed in white linen
Dressed in white linen and as cold as the clay

"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy"
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by
"come sit down beside me, hear my sad story
Shot in the breast and i know i must die

Play the drum slowly, play the fife lowly
Sound the dead march as you bear me along
Take me to the green valley, lay the sod o'er me
I'm a young cowboy and i know i've done wrong.

It was once in the saddle i used to go dashin'
Once in the saddle i used to go gay
Off to the dram house, off to the card house
Shot in the breast and i'm dying today

Beat the drum slowly, play the fife lowly
Sound the dead march as you bear me along
Take me to the green valley, lay the sod o'er me
I'm a young cowboy and i know i've done wrong.

Get six strong cowboys to carry my coffin
Six pretty whoregals to sing me a song
Place bunches of roses on top of my coffin
So they can't smell me as they bear me along"

We played the drum slowly, played the fife lowly
Played the dead march as we bore him along
Took him to the green valley and laid the sod o'er him
We all loved our comrade even though he'd done wrong

As i walked out in the streets of Laredo
As i walked out in Laredo one day

- Aw2pp, who tends not to let his freak flag fly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Introduction and Dance

Sorry to have put you through this. But given the time that I spent on this miserable, accursed piece of music (more here, in case you missed it), the very least I could do is let you hear my recording of the final time I will ever play it. Yes, once this was recorded, I turned the page on this piece, literally speaking, forever. Enjoy. link

Introduction and Dance - Aw2pp

- Aw2pp, who actively detests wistful songs about long-passed days ofyore

Monday, October 19, 2009

The View from My Window

For some reason, I have this notion that you (and Andrew Sullivan) would be interested in seeing what the view out my window is. Thanks for asking.

It's hard to explain, but my office is in my (our) closet. Thing is, out closet is about a kajillion times bigger than what Sue and I need. So we partitioned the thing, giving me a little 50 square foot cubicle. When I stand up, I look west out that window, and see what you see here.

- Aw2pp, hempen homespun.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I'm stuck

I do have a recording for you, but not today. Instead, I will whine about the piece I was supposed to have finished weeks ago. In Alfred's, it goes by the unassuming title Introduction and Dance, a Folk* song.

* - This Folk fellow... quite a prolific composer. Lots of Alfred's Book 2 pieces are attributed to him.

When I got started, it seemed simple enough. Sure, it's a minor key, and sure I tend to struggle with those for some reason. Two pages, with a repeat. I didn't recognize most of the first page, until the last three notes. Then I knew what I was playing. It was foisted upon us the year I was born, and remained on the airwaves for so long, I actually have childhood memories of hearing it on the radio. Naturally, I had the good sense even at a young age to develop a healthy hatred for this song, a whiny, defeated longing for times gone by. Here, in case you don't know what I am talking about, enjoy this clip, for all its putrescence. Please join me in despising this music with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns.

Yick. I don't blame you if you never come back here again. I am sure it's pieces like this that convinced Anthony B to learn piano using his all-Einaudi repertoire. Heavens, even my piano teacher dislikes it... I stumbled through it for her last week. When I finished, I started to point to a measure I have trouble with, but she stopped me, saying simply, "I think we've heard enough of this one."

So you'd think I'd just move on, wouldn't you? Thing is, it is my very hatred of this music that keeps me from letting it go without perfecting it. Sounds strange, I know. But there is a voice in my head (don't laugh, you have them too) that says, "You can't let THIS beat you, can you?"

No, I can't. So Alfred's progress (and, to a lesser extent, progress on my Clementi Sonatina) stalls while I grit my teeth and try to pound out a recording.

- Aw2pp, with a tip o' the bowler to Aleister Crowley.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

As I was saying...

Once in awhile, when PBS is trying to raise money or something, they'll put interesting programming on.* One of their staples during these times** is a series of documentaries about TV in the early days. I try to watch these each time they come on, even if I have seen the particular installment before. I enjoy trying to imagine what it must have been like. Today, we have several hundred channels to choose from... back in the day, folks would gather the family at the giant TV and gaze at a test pattern, marveling that the annoying tone and concentric circles were being broadcast all the way from downtown.

* - I kid, of course. I'm a fan. The Ken Burns National Parks Series last week was phenomenal.

** - "Pledge Drives", they call them. But I know you pretty well by now, and I suspect I didn't need to tell you that.

One of the things that I learned from watching these documentaries is that, in the early days, late night TV had some real geniuses. One of them, Jack Paar, got himself into an argument with his network TV hosts, and as such, left the airways for a spell. I don't recall any of the specifics, and, natch, I am too lazy to look them up. But I do recall that there was some doubt as to whether he would be coming back. And during the interim, since this was before The Daily Show, Nightline, or QVC, folks, either watched their local test pattern, or, heaven forbid, turned the TV off at night and turned in early. Or something.

Anyway, returning to what I DO recall from this story, Jack DID return. His studio audience applauded him wildly as the show opened, for some time, several minutes even. The applause died down, and then Jack paused. There was some tension in the studio. Would he acknowledge the "recent unpleasantness"? Would he take a moment to say bad things about NBC (I think it was NBC, but don't hold me to it)? Or would he go on as if nothing had happened, thereby creating the possibility that the tension would forever be unresolved?

He did none of those things. Or all of them, depending on your point of view. The first words out of his mouth were... "As I was saying..."

Laughter ensued, tension was broken, brief hiatus was simultaneously recognized and dismissed, and the world returned to normal.

What relevance does this have? Pretty much none. I am nowhere near as interesting as Jack Paar, I have not gone on hiatus because of some feud with Google, and, by all accounts, you've probably not noticed that it has been a couple weeks since my last post. And besides, even if all that were true, I totally forgot what we were talking about. Instead of "As I was saying," "Where were we?" is probably the more appropriate question.

Work has been very busy. I've spent various parts of the last two weeks in beautiful Appleton, Wisconsin and Holland, Michigan. There is talk of paying a visit to St. Louis next week. Remember, now, I am in software sales. And remember also (or perhaps you didn't know, since you weren't with us then, I'm looking at you, Moriarty) that July and August were disconcertingly slow. I had a lot to say then, and lots of bench / piano time. Today, not so much. But regard this as a good thing... salespeople like it when they are in the weeds.*

* Waiter term. Look it up. And it doesn't mean what you think. Shame on you.

The bad news, at least for our purposes, is that this pace results in a lighter posting schedule. I'll work on it, but no promises. Briefly, if I had been posting, I would be saying any or all of the following:

- Jillian continues to progress well in her lessons. And practice pretty much without being asked, although I think she over-reports her practice times to her teacher.
- I have missed two weeks in a row of lessons. Not to worry, Jillian has taken my time slots instead, and seems to be getting quite a lot out of the extra 30 minutes.
- Nevertheless, 10 minutes here, 30 there, I try to make progress on my own. I am almost ready to record a couple of Alfred's pieces for you. But I am growing concerned about my lack of progress on the Clementi Sonatina. That needs to be recital-ready in a month.
- I am finding myself reading a lot of "I just got my new piano" threads on PianoWorld. Which I really shouldn't be doing.

And, as you've come to expect, you'd see some kid pics. Sorry, not today.

I have to get back to work. I have to create a presentation explaining a prospective customer's pain points. You know, to show that I understand their problems, and how my company's software will help. Gripping stuff.

- Aw2pp, who knows how to improve the quality and outcome of business stakeholder reviews. No really, he does.