Why We Live Indoors

The other day I got into a spontaneous conversation with two ladies I work with here at the library, about the dubious joys of camping and enjoying the great outdoors. It proved to be amusing and thought-provoking enough that I thought I'd write about it. My brother and I get along great and have lots in common, including a whacked-out sense of humour and a generally easygoing attitude about most things. But sometimes it’s hard to believe we share the same DNA and parents. Unlike me, he isn't overtly musical and isn’t much of a reader, but on the other hand, he’s really practical and handy. So even though he’s two years younger than me, I want to be just like him when I grow up. He’s always been a good saver and an early-to-bed type, can build or fix anything – he even has tools for God’s sake – and he’s loved camping for as long as I can remember. Everything about it - the freeze-dried food, the Coleman stoves and lamps, the bug-spray, tents, sleeping bags, canoeing, portaging, the whole schmeer. I like canoeing and maybe taking a hike to watch some birds, but otherwise, my idea of a wilderness experience is being in a bar where they don’t know how to make a martini. Anyway, without further ado, the TOP TEN REASONS WHY I HATE CAMPING:  Packing the gear. Once you’ve made the ill-advised decision to leave civilization, you have to assemble all the gear you’ll need and pack it in, or attach it to, your car. This means finding the junk wherever more [...]

Someone Has To Blink First

The second round of the baseball playoffs continued where the first one left off, with tense, exciting, rollercoaster individual games in two series that didn't come close to going the full distance. The Royals swept the ALCS against the Orioles, yet the first game was decided in extra innings, they won the second one by breaking a tie with a two-run ninth-inning rally and the final two games were decided by the same bare 2-1 score - not that close, yet very close. It was similar in the National League, where the Giants needed one over the bare minimum to dispatch the Cardinals in five, yet the games themselves were hotly contested and extremely competitive. The opener, won 3-0 by the Giants, was a relatively tame affair predictably dominated by the stingy pitching of Madison Bumgarner, but the other games were all hairy, see-saw battles decided late, either by walk-off home runs (by the Cards in Game Two and the Giants in Game Five), or by unlikely, opportunistic rallies by the Giants off various Cardinal sins, if you will (passed balls, wild pitches, errant throws to home, first base, etc.). I'm getting older and my memory may be at fault, but I can't recall a baseball postseason with so many tight, dramatic games and surprising turns, and with so few one-sided stinkers. The only laughers were the Giants' 8-0 win over the Pirates in the NL wild-card game, and the Royals' ALDS-clinching 8-3 win over the Angels, which was still thrilling because it involved a team winning more [...]

L.D.S. = Lively, Dramatic, Surprising

The first round of the baseball playoffs - known as the League Divisional Series (LDS) - have just finished and already, the games have provided a nail-biting cornucopia, enough surprises and thrills to last an entire postseason. There have been lots of extra-inning games, one-run games, lead reversals, nervous ninths, late-inning heroics, close plays, strategic brilliance and managerial blunders, clutch-hitting and clutch-whiffing, great pitching and fielding and not-so-great pitching and fielding. Even some of the bad plays have at least been startling and dramatic, not to mention occasionally bizarre and even ironic, such as catcher Buster Posey being involved as a runner in two key outs at the plate, both of which were so close they needed slo-mo reviews. It was the horrific injury to Posey several years ago while blocking the plate that led to the new rule requiring catchers to leave a sliding lane for an oncoming runner - how odd that he would be on the other end of this twice in one series. None of the games have been boring, so where to start? The first Orioles-Tigers game last Thursday ended up with the laugher score of 12-3, but was a one-run game - 4-3, Orioles entering the bottom of the eighth, when all hell broke loose. There was a double and a Tigers' error, they yanked Max Scherzer and Baltimore immediately got to Detroit's fire-brigade of a bullpen, starting with chief arsonist Joba "The Hutt" Chamberlain, who's looking more and more like an extra from more [...]

October Salamis

  First of all, I want to apologize for the many typos in yesterday's post. I wrote it in some haste and to a tight deadline, owing to an early-evening recording session. Also, my editor - namely me - edits like Emilio Bonifacio plays second base, i.e. clumsily. I also want to apologize in advance to those of you who are jazz fans rather than ball fans, because I'll probably be writing mostly about baseball the next little while, for a number of reasons. First of all, 'tis the season - it's October, when the most meaningful games are played, after a 162-game marathon just to determine the dance-partners. And I've neglected baseball for quite a while, and have heard about this from readers who are baseball fans. You can't please everybody, not even if you try. Also, a string of recently published idiotic articles and other items about jazz have set my head to spinning and left me wanting to take a rest from it for a while, rather than use what's left of my energy to respond, which is a waste of time. (These items include the New Yorker Sonny Rollins "spoof" which backfired badly, Justin Moyer's moronic "jazz hit-piece" in The Washington Post, which basically stated that jazz isn't any good because he doesn't like or understand it, and John Halle's piece in a leftist rag called Jacobin, which more or less said that jazz isn't important anymore because it has lost its counter-culture appeal and political relevancy, whatever that means. Gee, and I thought it was more [...]

Season Wrap

  My last baseball piece was a naïve, premature and overly optimistic one about the then-brimming fortunes of the Blue Jays, written as they stood in the sunshine of first place, about fourteen games above .500. They promptly stumbled, then really fell apart in August and, scraping egg off my face, I resolved never to write about baseball again. I felt like a know-nothing hack and a jinx to boot (not that I'm superstitious about baseball or anything, no...).You knew that this self-imposed embargo wasn't going to last forever though and, seeing as the baseball season just ended and that I'm far too confused about jazz at the moment to write anything intelligible about it, I thought I'd chime in with a few thoughts on the grand old game and the season just past. Adieu, Konerko. Almost without mention and utterly lost amid the season-long, overblown spectacle that was Derek Jeter's farewell tour - the tribute gifts from all MLB teams, the epic, almost cinematic "RE2PECT" commercials from the likes of Nike and Gatorade, the endless fan signs and feel-good moments and so on, ad nauseam - was the fact that another important and worthy ballplayer played his last game on Sunday - Paul Konerko. Even given that the countdown to Jeter's last game reached a fever pitch and hogged all of the spotlight, the media coverage of Konerko's retirement still was shamefully minimal - I only happened to catch a small clip of his final moment by accident while watching the Jays' final more [...]