Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On this date in 1981 ...

The Twins played their last game at the old Metropolitan Stadium on September 30, 1981, losing to the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on a rainy afternoon. The night before the final game, home plate was stolen, and after the final game ended, hundreds of fans gathered on the field, searching (mostly unsuccessfully) for mementos -- Wikipedia

Here's a sign myself and "No Guts No Glory" Wissink absconded with a while later:

Adds a little panache to my basement.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'd scream for more baseball

It's always a sad day for me when the Minnesota Twins play their last game of the season. Today was that day. I feel a little more hopeful about next season than I did this time last year, but that's not saying much.
Sure I love the playoffs and the World Series, but as of late they haven't involved my team. So it's not as great as it could be. Still, pretty great.

I'm a baseball guy. I love watching my son and his friends play it. I love the fact that my daughters know as much about baseball as any of their peers. Even my dog loves baseball.

I like other sports, of course. Having played several, with little success, I've covered them for newspapers for 25 years before moving west. I've known some of the greatest coaches in South Dakota, interviewed many of the best players, and remain friends with some great people involved in athletics throughout the state.

Football is my second favorite sport to follow. Friday night under the lights at any field in South Dakota is a night well spent. Yet, I consider football to be one of the silly sports. It's not one that most people play after their high school or college careers in a competitive manner. It's not a lifestyle sport, like cross country, golf, tennis, baseball or even basketball. Still, it's great fun to watch.

I also enjoy it on the psychological level, watching fans and coaches and players. The emotions and personalities are on full display in football.

I find the motivational techniques interesting. I'd guess two-thirds of the football coaches I see might be considered borderline personality disorders. It's a sport where grown men can yell, swear and shove kids without ramification. If they did in Walmart what they do on the sidelines, they'd get a visit from law enforcement or Social Services. I've just always found that method odd.

You don't normally see math teachers screaming out their students: "Two plus two is four! Get your head on straight!" I don't see golf coaches get the most out of their athletes by yelling at them: "Keep your head down or you're running ladders!"

Baseball is just more fitting of my personality I guess. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I've screamed at somebody in my 50 years. I like quiet runs on forest trails, reading and writing in my man cave, pulling weeds in my garden, hiking with my dogs, and, best of all, sitting along first-base line watching a bunch of kids or men trying to hit a round ball with a round stick.

Maybe I could incorporate a little more yelling at the umpires into my routine though. But it'll have to wait a few more months.

I cannot tell a rye

I'm man enough to admit my mistakes, and sometimes even too lazy to correct them, especially when they're funny.

In the Lemons Never Lie post I was recently made aware that I referred to Westlake's sense of humor as being rye. As we know, rye is a grass. Its grain is often used to make whiskey. Now I could try to wiggle out of it and claim I was using the dictionary's second definition which refers to the word as being a "gentleman." So maybe it was a gentleman's sense of humor. But that would be incorrect and I'd be lying if I said that was my intended usage. And I hate to lie unnecessarily.

Yes, I know, it should be a wry sense of humor. I goofed. And some emailers need to get out of their basement and find themselves a date.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekend link-oh-rama

Some stories and notes I ran across that I found interesting:

** A lot of good points here: The Reaction to Rob Ford's Cancer Proves We Don't Take Addiction Seriously
It's almost as if that nasty business of the media running roughshod -- downright bullying -- a man suffering from a mental illness never happened. Journalists never hounded him at the rehabilitation facility. Or coerced other patients into revealing intimate details of his treatment. Or wrote features about the clinic founder's own history with the law.
Now that he's dealing with a physical disease, on the other hand, it's real. Let's give the man some privacy, our noble journalism vanguards suddenly declare.
** Speaking of old rock, in a post below ... I went to this ceremony and the site near Hill City is pretty cool. I'd recommend it for anybody looking for a quick afternoon jaunt. Might even learn something: Once doomed, Gold Mountain Mine mill frame now an attraction
Seven years after the mill frame was declared dead, officials Tuesday morning celebrated the opening of the Gold Mountain Mine Interpretive Trail. The sunny September morning allowed visitors to walk the trail around the mine and read interpretive signs explaining both the history of gold fever in the Black Hills and the process for gold mining it. 
The trail ends next to the preserved mill frame and a partially intact boiler unit that supplied steam power for workers at the mine.
** Minneapolis author Louise Erdrich wins a big award I'd never heard of and 25 grand. From the Star-Trib:
Her novel "The Round House" was the 2012 winner of the National Book Award; "Plague of Doves" was a Pulitzer finalist in 2009, and "Love Medicine," her debut novel, won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984.
** I like to think that for every Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice in the NFL, there are more like this: Ex-Raven quites NFL to give kidney to brother
"Man, when that thing came out I felt like somebody threw me a small football," he said.
** Here's an in-depth look at the NFL's security apparatus, basically run like the FBI by former agents. It makes me wonder how much crap gets covered up, glossed over and never sees the light: Elaborate security network is supposed to protect league from trouble

** From the FederalistGlobal warming was worth it, and if we had to, we'd do it again

Friday, September 19, 2014

Finished: Westlake/Stark's 'Lemons Never Lie'

I've been on a crime noir kick lately -- Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) in particular.

Westlake is one of the all-time great writers. Yet, when I talk books with friends, even voracious readers, I've yet to run into a person who has read him. The guy sold millions of books, so obviously people have read him, just not those I hang with I guess.

His best friend was Lawrence Block, and he's much better known today, partly because he's still alive and Westlake isn't. Block's 1992 novel A Walk Among the Tombstones is being released in movie form this month with the great Liam Neeson as the main character Matthew Scudder.

Block has also written some outstanding crime noir. But, back to Westlake, I just finished his novel Lemons Never Lie, written under the pseudonym, Richard Stark.
When he’s not carrying out heists with his friend Parker, Alan Grofield runs a small theater in Indiana. But putting on shows costs money and jobs have been thin lately – which is why Grofield agreed to fly to Las Vegas to hear Andrew Myers’ plan to knock over a brewery in upstate New York. 
Unfortunately, Myers’ plan is insane – so Grofield walks out on him. But Myers isn’t a man you walk out on, and his retribution culminates in an act of unforgivable brutality.  
That’s when Grofield decides to show him what a disciple of Parker is capable of …
This has a 4.5 rating out of 5 on Amazon. I gave it a good 7- out of 10.

The title refers to it supposedly being bad luck when you sit down at a slot machine and hit three lemons. That's what Grofield does at the start of the book, and sure enough they don't lie.

Westlake is a master of the twist, with a rye sense of humor that puts him among the elite. I highly recommend anything Westlake has written, and LNL is no different.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Is rock dead? Naaaa

Gene Simmons of KISS recently said rock is dead. Dee Snider of Twisted Sister disagrees with a thoughtful response. I gotta side with Mr. Twisted on this.

Is it hard to make it rock 'n' roll? You bet. Always was, always will be. Will rockers make as much money as they did "back in the day"? Probably not. But that won’t stop them, and they'll be motivated by a much more genuine love of the art, and great rock will continue to be produced, played and embraced by rock fans.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Guest: Krauthammer's book is treasure

By Wesley Roth

Disclaimer: I am a big fan of Dr. Charles Krauthammer and look forward to hearing his opinion on Special Report and also reading his columns in the Washington Post.

"Things That Matter" is a collection of Krauthammer's best writings from the most personal (death of his brother) to the political to the historical.  Every column or essay is a treasure trove of insight and most of the time I found myself nodding in agreement.  Some of his positions I disagree with (mainly social issues), but on fiscal and national security issues he is spot on.

The most powerful essay in the book is "Zionism and the Fate of the Jews," which gave me lots to think about in the years ahead, myself being a Christian Zionist. Also, the long-form essays in Chapter 16 on "America and the World" should be read and taken to heart.  Highly recommend this book of Dr. Krauthammer's best writings.  I will treasure my signed copy I received from my brother last Christmas. Thanks Ryan!

Also: Krauthammer's book sells 1 millionth copy

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finished: Jeffrey Deaver's The October List

Just to annoy those of us who have difficulty writing a novel, Jeffrey Deaver (he of over 30 novels) went and wrote one in reverse.
And I just finished it - The October List.
It has a relatively low 3.39 of 5 rating on Goodreads, but I gave it a 7- on my 10-point scale, which is pretty amazing considering I almost quit reading it halfway through.
The book starts on Chapter 36 and works it's way to the beginning. So, obviously, you know how the book ends but then weave through to find out how it got to that point.
I give the dude credit for originality. I also give him credit for keeping my attention and forcing me to look back (to the end/beginning of the book) to try to remember things, because let's face it, the 1980s were tough on my brain cells.
I had never read a Deaver book before, but it was given to me by a friend who reads many of the same genres as me though different authors. He said he wanted me to read it to see what I thought.
I think I liked it. But I wouldn't want to read to many more written that way. It was a challenge, but reading doesn't have to be easy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back and rambling

If you think I fell off the planet the last few months, you're close. It was baseball season, so I was in places like Chamberlain, Burke, Chadron, Martin, Tabor. Mostly though, my inattention to the blog was due to a lack of a computer.

The laptop blew up and I was relegated to using the Kindle, which is fine for surfing, but not so good at posting. But as luck would have it, it's Junior's 17th birthday this week and I bought us a laptop for his birthday. So no excuses now.

The thing is, I wish I'd been a more responsible blogger this summer, because I thought of some really great things to write about as I chased foul balls around the country. Most centered around stupid people I ran into. While few in number, bigots, idiots and morons always seem to stick out more than normal people.

Mostly, this summer reaffirmed my belief that as much as people like to complain about "kids now-a-days", it's actually the adults who are the problem. As I like to say, too many clowns, not enough circuses.

But I'll save that for another day. Today's lesson refers back to Junior and is titled: "Mom is always right."

As you may be able to make out in the photo, there is a fly inside that foggy cup. While unusual, the more unusual thing is that the fly has been inside that cup and on our kitchen counter for four days now.

It all harkens back to a long-running argument between my son and my wife. Son was perpetuating the teenage boy myth that flies only live 24 hours. Wife said she didn't believe that. Son said it was a scientific fact. This discussion has been going on for quite sometime, probably for as long as it's taken wife to catch a fly in a cup, which happened four days ago. (The funniest part to me is imagining how long she's been chasing flies around the kitchen with a cup. But I digress.)

As it's not enough to flaunt the boy's failure for just 48 hours, declare victory and let the fly go, now the kid is forced to look at his failed "scientific fact" every morning and evening as the fly flies around in its glass day after day for who knows how many more days or weeks. What's his answer to this: It's probably some sort of super fly.

Poor kid. He just needs to do what I did long ago: Admit that she's right (even when she's not). And move along.