Baseball chatter with Jim On Things podcast


I don’t write about baseball as much as I once did, and that means I don’t talk about it on radio or podcasts as much either. So I was grateful when Jim Irizarry invited me on his new podcast, Jim On Things, to talk about the upcoming MLB season and baseball’s woefully slow offseason.

You can listen to the show below, at the Jim On Things website, or through just about every podcast provider available, including Anchor FM, which I’m eager to learn about from Jim. We recorded the show via Zencastr, which provided some excellent sound (maybe too good, when you hear me loudly draw in a breath frequently).

Next time, maybe we’ll get into some of MLB’s proposed rules changes. And of course, we’ll have actual baseball to talk about in a couple of months. Or I’ll try to add to whatever stress Jim is experiencing about his upcoming wedding.

It was always great fun with Jim and Craig Williams (who I knew from one of his previous radio gigs) on their Maximus and the Bartender podcast talking baseball and pop culture. I could talk to those guys for nearly an hour and it felt like 10 minutes. I was bummed out when they had to shutter the show, but I certainly understand when life takes precedence over fun and hobbies, and they had to move on. I’m glad to hear Jim get back in the ring, though.

As someone who’s tried his hand at podcasting and may want to expand what I’m doing there, I’ll be following Jim to see what he does with his new show — not just in terms of content, but distribution. It gets easier each day to find a podcast and listen to it on whatever device you choose. Jim’s not trying to fit in a niche; he just wants to talk about whatever is on his mind and tell stories from his life. I’m intrigued by that.


Amusement Park Podcast 026: The True Cost of Streaming and Mr. Rogers Still Has the Right Idea – and bonus thoughts


With the Mister Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, debuting on both HBO and PBS last week, we thought it would be fun to talk about on the Amusement Park Podcast. I saw the movie last summer and thought it was one of the best movies of 2018, but Chris is just coming around to it now.

We also talk about the ideal streaming setup as more networks and studios create their own over-the-top services to compete with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. If you want to (or already have) ditched cable or satellite, which are the best services to sign up for that provide the content you’ll want to watch?

I’m probably long overdue to make some decisions on streaming subscriptions. I’ve basically signed up for everything, yet still maintained a cable subscription. Whenever I think Hulu is something I could live without, they launch an original series or documentary that gets me thinking it’s worth keeping. I also subscribe to DC Universe and the upcoming Criterion Channel. I’ll surely sign up for Disney+ once that launches.

Where I’ll probably make a cut is with sports. I shouldn’t admit this as someone who’d still like to work in sports media, but I don’t watch as much baseball as I used to and the Detroit Tigers likely won’t be worth many of summer hours, so I’ll probably ditch MLB.TV. That almost seems inconceivable to me (and I wrote it off as a work expense). But that’s nearly $150 I can save right there.

Please leave a review and rating on iTunes for us and a like on our Facebook page to help spread the word. You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

You can also give us feedback at and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you! Thanks for listening!


Overzealous Recycling 005: This world would be unlivable without art


If you missed the last Overzealous Recycling, you can read it here

We usually save something inspirational for the end of these (not a) newsletters. But Steven Soderbergh has been doing quite a bit of press for the release of his new film, High Flying Bird, on Netflix. (I hope to post a review this coming week.) And in one interview, he responded to his 2001 Academy Award acceptance speech being used by Oscar telecast producers as an example for the ideal acknowledgement for winners.

Steven Soderbergh talking to Bill Simmons is a fascinating conversation

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the speech Soderbergh gave upon winning the Academy Award for Best Director. (Traffic was the film that earned him the honor.)

Weekly Affirmation

Succinct and to the point. It’s definitely a good example for other Oscar winners to follow. Here’s the key passage, the one which really spoke to me and so many others:

“I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don’t care if it’s a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music — anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think this world would be unlivable without art, and I thank you.”

As an aspiring writer, that meant something. I’ve cited it many times in my own writing, in classroom settings, and to contemporaries. It was important to hear, occasionally providing a little nudge to try a little harder, to finish that idea I was shaping, that story I was writing.

In an interview this past week with IndieWire, Soderbergh downplayed that speech, saying it was a result of “alcohol and adrenaline” because he didn’t expect to win. He seemed embarrassed that it was cited as a template. But he shouldn’t be. Modesty aside, what he said is a great example of creativity on the fly and the sincerity of articulating a feeling without preparation.

Meal Plan

The older I get, the softer I prefer my scrambled eggs. (I don’t think that has anything to do with my teeth getting soft. Still in good shape there.) While listening to an older House of Carbs podcast (I’m determined to listen to every episode), I was hooked on Eggslut founder Alvin Cailan’s description of the signature soft scrambled eggs they make for their sandwiches.

Naturally, I figured that there had to be videos of preparing those eggs and I wasn’t disappointed.

Having the patience to stir and fold eggs in a cold pan that slowly warms isn’t necessarily the way to go if you’ve gotta have breakfast RIGHT NOW. (It helps to have some bacon to munch on while you’re standing at the stove.) So maybe it’s better for a Saturday or Sunday morning.

But the payoff is worth it. The eggs are creamy and have more flavor, even without cheese, chives, or even salt and pepper. (And no, I don’t add caramelized onions. There’s only so much time in a day.) It’s been pointed out to me, however, that I spend far more time cooking the meal than eating it. I always eat too fast.

10 to Read

** Frank Robinson, who died this week at 83 years old, wasn’t a household name among casual baseball fans and those who don’t follow sports. But he was a momentous figure in baseball history — 586 career home runs, MVP awards in both leagues, Rookie of the Year, a Triple Crown winner, and baseball’s first black manager — as Barry Svrluga reminds us while recounting his experiences with Robinson. [Washington Post]

** It’s difficult to argue that articles about Donald Trump’s tan accomplish very much, and maybe the NYT should be above such stuff. But Trump’s skin tone is something many people notice, so why not ask how he gets that orange color? [New York Times]

** Late to this, but this is a stunning story of how a Minneapolis dancer’s reputation was terribly smeared by two writers (one of which is Kevin Powell, whom you might remember from the first season of The Real World) in retaliation for something she didn’t write. It was a horrible case of mistaken identity, and Powell and his wife didn’t even bother to do the bare minimum in making sure they called out the right person. [City Pages]

Musical Interlude

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of Sparklehorse’s Good Morning Spider. I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed that album until re-listening to a lot of my music collection while converting my CDs to digital files. (I know, I was like 15 years late in doing so.)

Annie Zaleski writes about Good Morning Spider in far greater depth than I could ever hope to achieve for Stereogum. Yet she also distills the album down to the key point that Sparklehorse — and songwriter, the late Mark Linkous — played with so many different styles that the music couldn’t be easily defined. Yet what could’ve been a creative mess turned into truly memorable.

** Are people really saying that “books are dead”? In my circle (which I’m not saying is expansive), most everyone is reading something. Devices like Kindle or services like Audible allow us to fit reading in rather easily. Watching cable news and even sports studio programming, it seems like just about everybody is writing a book. [TIME]

Maybe the novel is in a more precarious situation? I’ve certainly been guilty of reading far more nonfiction than fiction during the past 10 to 15 years. It feels more difficult for my brain to get in the right mode to lose myself in fiction. I’m trying to change that this year.

** Michael Bloomberg probably won’t run for president among what’s already become a ridiculously crowded field of candidates. But he could provide significant help to Democrats campaigning against Donald Trump with “all the data” and a system for applying that information toward potential voters. [The Atlantic]

** Dana Perino became an unwitting Super Bowl meme by tweeting a photo of what looked like very unappetizing queso dip. What are the origins of chile con queso, how did it become a thing, and what are some tasty variations? [Eater]

** Bob Mould’s new album, Sunshine Rock, was released on Friday and I’m spending a good chunk of the weekend listening to it. In this interview, he says he’s tried to be more positive in his recent songwriting I admire the guy for moving to Berlin without knowing how to speak German. [Rolling Stone]

** It’s been five years since Shane Salerno’s documentary about J.D. Salinger and accompanying biography was released. But Salinger’s son, Matt (who played Captain America in a 1990 film), says there is plenty of unpublished material that could be released over the next 10 years. But it needs work. [The Guardian]

** Fielding Yost is a football coaching legend at Michigan, but his name isn’t often cited among the coaching pioneers of the game. That made it notable when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick cited Yost among those he learned from in reading vintage football books. [MVictors]

** I eat a lot of pickles (cucumbers, peppers, garlic, okra, asparagus and more), which leaves jars of leftover pickle juice. Just tossing it down the sink seems like a waste, but what can be done with it? I typically use pickle juice for salad dressings, but might try some of these other suggestions. [Garden & Gun]


Amusement Park Podcast 025: Avengers Goes Dark, Hanna Grabs Our Attention, We Catch Up with GoT – and bonus thoughts


We’ve reached the 25-episode mark on The Amusement Park Podcast! (Actually, we’ve done 26 episodes, including a Special Edition. We haven’t done any of those since, probably because it’s not always easy to find time to record, and I’m not sure we’ll do so again.)

This time around, we talk about the Avengers: Endgame and Toy Story 4 Super Bowl teasers, in addition to a couple of other commercials. We also review Amazon’s Hanna pilot, which was available for 24 hours after The Big Game, and look back at Game of Thrones Season 1, trying to refresh ourselves on everything before Season 8 premieres in April. And we do some quick hits on a variety of topics, something we may do regularly on future podcasts.

One thing I didn’t mention during our discussion of Hanna was how much I enjoyed the soundtrack for the original 2011 movie. The music by The Chemical Brothers was a vital part of the film, setting the visuals to a beat that fit the story’s quick pace. Or in the case of “Hanna’s Theme,” the soundtrack was a play on the coming-of-age aspect of the main character’s story.

Also worth mentioning was how much of a departure this movie was for director Joe Wright, whose filmography is largely filled with dramas like Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Darkest Hour. But there wasn’t really a place for that during the conversation.

Please leave a review on iTunes for us and a like on our Facebook page to help boost our signal. You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

You can also give us feedback at and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you! Thanks for listening!


Overzealous Recycling 004: That’s up to the gods


I snuck out the last Overzealous Recycling with no promotion, but you can read it here — 

Maybe this is a hedge, but I’m more of a New England Patriots admirer than a fan. I’ve read a few books on Bill Belichick during the past few years because I’m intrigued by how he’s been able to maintain such success in a NFL that turns over so frequently. And Tom Brady is a Michigan man who was never appreciated as much in Ann Arbor as he should’ve been.

Also, a good friend of mine recently moved to New England and is saturated with Red Sox and Patriots talk, as you might imagine. I tend to follow the sports teams wherever she lives, if for no other reason than feeding her watercooler conversation topics.

So I suppose I’m rooting for the Patriots in Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII. I’d have no problem with the Rams winning, and it would sort of be revenge for the Pats beating the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI (2002). But I’ve always liked to see excellence rewarded, even if it doesn’t make for the most compelling sports story or rooting interest.

During one of my local radio appearances on WISE Sports Radio here in Asheville, I said on the air that the Patriots would win, 31-20. (And I’ll be sitting in as a co-host this Friday for the second consecutive week.) So I should stick to that. But I do have this feeling that the Rams’ fearsome defensive tackles, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, could disrupt Tom Brady. It might be closer than I predicted.

Musical Interlude

Sometimes, I feel like the people who truly get me in this life are those who share my love of CBS Sunday Morning. If you’re with me, you enjoy that signature theme song and trumpet. The show is celebrating its 40th anniversary and last week ran this feature on that distinct theme.

You Stand Corrected

How many replies did NPR get from Dungeons & Dragons fans (or board game enthusiasts) to post this correction?

Grocery Store Playlist

For the last couple of years, I’ve joked with friends that the best music I hear these days is playing at the grocery store. Songs from the ’80s and ’90s just hit my sweet spot. I probably linger in the aisles longer than I should because I’m enjoying the music, while also fantasizing about eating healthier and cooking more ambitiously.

During my last three visits to the grocery store, I’ve started keeping track of which songs I hear (Shazam helps me with the tunes I don’t recognize) and posting those playlists on Facebook. But it occurred to me that I could share the fun by making Spotify playlists of those songs. Here’s what I heard last Saturday while buying salad ingredients, restocking La Croix and marveling over what’s available in the frozen food aisle these days.

That’s two Musical Interludes for this week, isn’t it?

Meal Plan

I’ve been wanting to include some food content in each (not a) newsletter, and Super Bowl Sunday seems like a good occasion to share some fun dip or snack recipes. But I usually just have pizza or wings. Nothing too exciting.

But I’m thinking of trying Sean Brock’s recipe for pimento cheese this year.

3 large pimento peppers (about 12 oz.)
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Duke’s
1/2 tsp. vinegar-based hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 cup pickled ramps, chopped, plus 1/2 cup of the brine. (If you can’t find ramps, you can substitute finely-chopped bread-and-butter pickles and brine.)
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater

You can read the prep at Garden & Gun. I’m not sure about roasting the peppers, but know they’ll taste better and mix better with everything that way. Oh, I’m gonna eat way too many crackers…

10 to Read

** We’re probably to the point where Tony Romo is overpraised for his analysis on CBS NFL broadcasts. (“Genius”? C’mon.) But he is really good on TV and it’ll be fun to watch/listen to him on Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast. [New Yorker]

** Journalism should be supported with subscriptions. But should that money be put toward an inferior product? Friends of mine have lost jobs due to the Citizen-Times‘ layoffs here in Asheville, and the current product has very little local news in it. It’s not worth my money. But is that attitude part of the problem? [Washington Post]

** My former colleague Harry Lyles Jr. wrote a fascinating piece on Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood and how it changed irrevocably after the January 2000 incident involving NFL linebacker in which two people were murdered. [SB Nation]

** Information for life, if you ever happen to eat a Lego piece. (Accidentally, presumably.) But a specific kind of Lego piece. Imagine volunteering for this study. [Smithsonian]


** Lost in all the disbelief over Donald Trump serving the national champion Clemson Tigers an array of fast food burgers, fries and salads is that only 15 of the team’s 74 black players opted to visit the White House. That’s 26 percent, folks. [The Root]

** Would you be surprised to learn that Trump’s favorite thing to point out when giving tours of the White House is where Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky spent their… intimate moments together? No, me either. [Washington Post]

** I changed my passwords on a couple of Gmail accounts because I couldn’t remember them. It caused a mess that took me at least a half-hour (it sure felt like longer) to fix. This writer tried to cut Google out of her life entirely and it didn’t go so well. [Gizmodo]

Yes, I know I’m far too dependent on Google and Apple, and should probably do something about that. For now, I’ll accept the consequences for convenience.

** I want to disagree with Drew Magary’s contention that bagel sandwiches are bad because it’s such an unwieldy eating experience. Yet in thinking about how I usually eat bagels (bagels with cream cheese are one of my favorite foods; if only that was nutritious), I almost always deconstruct the sandwich and eat each half individually. Mostly to prolong the joy. [GQ]

** Jumping back to the wasteland of the current media landscape — sports media, especially — there may be no better example of how bad things are than acclaimed sports columnist Ray Ratto being unemployed. Ratto is polarizing because he doesn’t try hard to be liked, but he’s dead-on about so many things in the industry and how sportswriting should be approached. [The Ringer]

** A couple of weeks ago on the Amusement Park Podcast, I highlighted YouTube show Cartoonist Kayfabe as something I’ve really been enjoying recently. I just love the deep dive nostalgia on comic book magazines, artists, characters, and trends. This interview with hosts Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg extends the fun. [Monkeys Fighting Robots]

Weekly affirmation


Amusement Park Podcast 024: The Batman, Reign of the Supermen, The Punisher – and bonus thoughts


On the latest Amusement Park Podcast, we react to news of the next Batman movie being set for a Summer 2021 release and a younger Bruce Wayne meaning Ben Affleck will no longer play the role. We also review the entire Season 2 of The Punisher after delving into the first six episodes last week. And we review the latest DC animated movie, Reign of the Supermen.

Previously, I’ve just posted the same blurb and link to the podcast that you can find at the Amusement Park Podcast website. But I’d like to try and offer a bit more here at The Casselbloggy, especially for those who take the time to click over and read. I think it could be a good opportunity to discuss topics that didn’t make the cut or stuff that I intended to include but forgot to mention while we were recording.

That’s where I’d like to go this week because it’s bugging me that I forgot to talk about Punisher star Jon Bernthal and his voice for Frank Castle. I’ve seen Bernthal in several other movies and TV shows like The Walking Dead, Sicario, Show Me a Hero and The Ghost Writer, but had forgotten what his actual speaking voice sounds like. So when I watched some talk show clips of him, it was jolting to me how different he sounded from Frank Castle.

I know; it’s called acting! But it’s still impressive to me (and far more effective than, say, Christian Bale’s Batman voice) and a reminder of how deeply Bernthal lost himself in that role. It’s a damn shame that he probably won’t play The Punisher anymore.

Please leave a review on iTunes for us and a like on our Facebook page to help boost our signal. You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast everywhere you find podcasts:

You can also give us feedback at and find us on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear from you! Thanks for listening!


Steven Soderbergh talking with Bill Simmons is a fascinating conversation


Tastes may vary when it comes to Bill Simmons and his podcast, but I don’t think he gets enough credit as an interviewer. Even if you don’t like his sports opinions, Simmons shows great taste in who he brings on his show, particularly with writers and directors.

The most recent example of this is his chat with director Steven Soderbergh, who was at the Sundance Film Festival to promote his new movie, High Flying Bird, and was probably the best guy Simmons could’ve talked to about the current state of filmmaking and how that content can find an audience.

But the interview is also an opportunity to talk about Soderbergh’s 30 years of filmmaking — which began with Sex, Lies and Videotape showing at Sundance — and everything he’s learned about the industry during that span. The conversation begins at the 28:45 mark:

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