Long Island whats?

Having joined a fantasy baseball league, I am struggling to come up with a suitable name for my team. I want to go with something Long Island-themed, like the “Terminal Moraines”. That’s how I came up with the domain name for this website after much ruminating many years ago.

Let’s begin with a quick review of Long Island professional sports team names, past and present:

  • New York Islanders. Too literal, sort of like calling a city team the New York Citizens.
  • New York Nets. Now the New Jersey Nets, the name is so totally inappropriate for baseball.
  • Long Island Ducks. Cute—I like ducks—but overused since it was used in the past by a minor league hockey team and is now in use by a minor league baseball team.
  • New York Arrows. They were a soccer team in the old MISL. I have no idea why they were called that.
  • Long Island Rough Riders. This is the present professional soccer club on Long Island. They are Theodore Roosevelt-themed, which I like (he was the only Long Island president), though the Rough Riders had little to do with Long Island itself.
  • Long Island Lizards. The professional lacrosse team (remember this is New York) is named after lizards? In my entire childhood on the island I never saw a lizard or even heard of one living there.

So what to do? For starters, ethnic mascots are out, so exit the Long Island Shinnecocks, Unkechaugs, or Guidos. But as you can see, it is not easy to come up with a team name for Long Island. It lacks charismatic megafauna and fossils. Most of its interesting natural features are glaciological (i.e. terminal moraines) or are unintimidating marine animals and phenomena that suggest only the following:

  • Littoral Drift, which describes the formation and reformation of barrier islands by along-shore ocean currents.
  • Limuli, from Limulus polyphemus, scientific name of the horseshoe crab, one of my favorite animals.
  • Wampum. You can’t walk along a beach on Long Island without the finding purple and white quahog clam shells bits once used by the Indians to make ceremonial currency. Wampum is pretty inert and uninspiring.
  • Quahogs. Along the same lines as above, but it has unfortunate associations with “The Family Guy”.
  • Pine Barrens. The Long Island pines sure are an interesting biome, but how would the logo distinguish pine barrens from pine anything else? Maybe a flaming pine tree?
  • Lloyd Aquifer. A gold star for you if you even know what it is.
  • Nor’easters. That might be a good one (or the “Glorias”).

Long Island also has little in the way of nationally familiar landmarks, historical events, or cultural contributions. The Montauk Lighthouse (after which the local microbrew Montauk Light takes its name) is popular among Long Islanders but is not well known elsewhere. The island’s military history is inauspicious: the Battle of Long Island was rout of the Continental Army at Brooklyn Heights (the “Evacuators”?) and the landing of German saboteurs by submarine is not exactly a point of pride (the “Infiltrators”?). And I’ll pre-empt the Billy Joel references right now, so no Long Island Piano Men or Uptown Girls.

The “Long Island Baymen” is in use by an amateur baseball team in Lake Ronkonkoma (Ooh! “The Bottomless Lakers”!). A local term for near-shore fisherman and clammers, “Baymen” has regional charm and working class connotations but could be denounced by radical feminists are “promoting traditional white patriarchy” (something I heard about my college’s mascot once). And I don’t think the “Baypersons” would cut it. What about:

  • Snapples? Nah.
  • Roast Ducklings? Iced Tea? Maybe for a chuckle.
  • Buttafuocos? I’ll throw that one out with the other ethnic stereotypes. And harem pants aren’t easy to play ball in.
  • Gold Coast, or even better, Gatsbys? Both are dated and each are respectively elitist and tragic.

Long Island is associated with some high-tech achievements in physics, genetics, and aerospace:

  • Heavy Ion Colliders. Pretty esoteric physics stuff goes on at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and from a shadowy federal department to boot.
  • Double Helices. That at least won someone a Nobel Prize, but Cold Spring Harbor Lab was also waist deep into eugenics at one time.
  • F-14 Tomcats or Lunar Excursion Modules. Unfortunately Grumman left Long Island a long time ago.
But now I think we’re getting a little obtuse. Maybe I’ll just go with the “Eagles”. Blah.

The Hobbit

After a long, hard day of slaying dragons, the last thing I want is to come home and find the Sackville-Bagginses trying to auction off my belongings. I thought I wouldn’t have any further use for my trusty sword (except maybe for buttering scones) but it turns out they slice through other hobbits quite nicely. Much more easily than through those stringy-fleshed orcs. Anyway, with my ring of invisibility those pesky relations never knew what hit them. Now what do I do with all of these Sackville-Baggins chunks?

An alternate history of mobile devices

My new smart phone has a button I have to press if I want to use it as an actual telephone. Which reminds me that not so long ago I would have been very perplexed if someone made the absurd suggestion of taking a photograph with a telephone or anything else that was not a camera. I suppose it was inevitable that the telephone instead of another household device evolved into today’s digital Swiss Army knife, but that was a chance occurrence? Could we today be carrying iToasters around with us, taking photographs, and occasionally pressing a button when we wanted some toasted bread?

In 1987 Steve Jobs pulled over at a rest stop on the Interstate. He plugged his toaster into the car’s cigarette lighter. Because of his fondness for buttered toast, he had adapted the appliance to work in his car while he traveled. Suddenly, while he was waiting for two slices of enriched white Wonder bread to toast to a golden brown, an escaped elephant from a nearby zoo dashed across the Interstate. Cars swerved to avoid the rampaging beast. The elephant paused on the grassy median, raised its trunk and trumpeted. Three more elephants lumbered across the northbound lanes and joined the first. “If only I could take a photograph and send it to my friends at Apple,” Job cried. His toast popped up, each slice making a little somersault before returning softly to the toaster slots. Jobs looked down at his appliance. The delicious aroma of toast filled the inside of his Ford Escort. An idea was born.

If only Steve Jobs had really, really liked toast.

Hurrah for General Tso!

Speaking of General Tso’s chicken, I made up a story a while back about its origins.

During the Long March, the weary and hungry Red Chinese soldiers grew tired of eating spoiled rice. They were beginning to lose their determination. “Cheer up!” said their cheerful general, General Tso. “Soon we will achieve a glorious proletarian victory. We might even have a little bit of fresh chicken for dinner!”

“Hurrah for General Tso!” cheered his men.

Weeks went by and the soldiers grew hungrier and hungrier. Now all that was left to eat were lichens and mosses.

“Cheer up!” said General Tso. “Soon we will achieve a glorious proletarian victory and there will be two chickens in every pot!”

“Hurrah for General Tso!” cheered his men.

When the Red Chinese soldiers reached Yan’an, there weren’t even mosses and lichens left to eat.

“Cheer up!” said General Tso. “Soon we will achieve a glorious proletariat victory and there will be enough succulent fried chicken with a sweet, vinegary red sauce for all the workers!”

The next day, Chairman Mao found some of his Red Chinese soldiers eating steaming bowls of tasty morsels made with a sweet and vinegary red sauce.

“I’m looking for General Tso.” asked Chairman Mao. “Where is he?”

The soldiers each raised a chopstick with a piece of succulent meat. “Hurrah for General Tso!” they cheered before taking a bite.

“Hurrah, comrades!” said Chairman Mao. “But where is General Tso?”

The soldiers raised their bowls and cheered again, “Hurrah for General Tso!”

“Hurrah, comrades,” said Chairman Mao, becoming annoyed. He was tired from a long day of giving syphilis to teenaged girls. “Now where is that confounded General Tso?”

“You must be hungry, Comrade Mao,” said a captain, offering the chairman a bowl and a pair of chopsticks. “Have some of ‘General Tso’s Chicken.'”

“Oh, all right,” said Chairman Mao. He was quite hungry and took a bite. “My goodness,” he said, “This is delicious. I taste apricot, ginger, garlic, and vinegar. But where did you get chicken? We haven’t eaten fresh meat in months.”

“It’s ‘General Tso’s Chicken’, Comrade Mao,” the captain said with a wink. “The secret ingredient is… General Tso.”

“Hurrah for General Tso!” cheered the Red Chinese soldiers.

How to kill a mockingbird

My name is Scout. It’s a dumb name for a girl but then Jem is dumb name for a brother. My father’s name is Atticus. He’s a bad-ass lawyer with a shotgun. He shot the rabid dog. He shot that freak Boo Radley when he finally dared set foot outside. He shot Calpurnia just for shits ‘n’ grins. Anyway, he taught me how to kill those bastard birds that wake us up every morning. Fucking mockingbirds.