Monday, October 26, 2015

The return of the October Classic to my radar

Twenty nine years ago this month I was sitting in my living room in Fredonia, New York, watching the Mets win the World Series on a 13” black and white television trying not to celebrate too much as my then wife had her face in a pillow. She was a Red Sox fan and was devastated. I had to mute any joy I had, which was fairly representative of that relationship.

Fifteen years ago I was at a New York Rangers/Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game the night Roger Clemens threw part of Mike Piazza’s bat back at him. I saw this happen through long lost binoculars as I looked at the screens of the luxury boxes of Madison Square Garden from my Uncle’s seats. My then fiance and I were on vacation, visiting my family on Long Island. That is about the only memory I have of the 2000 Subway Series other than the yankees won it all at now demolished Shea Stadium. They should have won it on their own turf, but so it goes.

It was harder for me to follow my team from Columbus, Ohio back in those days. After the 1994 strike that cut the season short, I did not look at a game or a box score in the newspaper for an entire year and never really got my enthusiasm for baseball back. It took a few more cable channels devoted to baseball and an internet that could always find access to a game to bring it back.

I watched two end of season collapses from afar and a horrible playoff loss in the last decade or so. This year I have been paying even more attention.

After an impressive take down of the Dodgers and a sweep against the Cubs that I would never have predicted the Mets find themselves in the World Series against the Kansas City Royals. The Royals return to the series for the second straight year after getting defeated in gut wrenching fashion by the San Francisco Giants. The team has not won the series since 1985.

So this is where we are at: the solid hitting of the Royals vs. the young hurlers of the Mets.

Will the bats of the Royals solve the fastballs of the Mets pitching, or will control be the key for the New Yorkers? From my side, I’m worried about the left shoulder of Yoenis Cespedes they way I was about the field crippled Rusty Staub in 1973. Can Lucas Duda produce in the way he did in game four against the Cubs? If so, he is capable of carrying a team.

And of course there’s the explosive chaos that surrounds Daniel Murphy, who had owned opposing pitching this postseason to the point where he now has a major league record of most games in the postseason with a home run to call his and his alone. Will he be able to keep up his amazin’ pace against the erratic starting pitching of Kansas City?

The Royals have home field advantage, which means the designated hitter will be involved in at least two games. The Mets are said to be using Kelly Johnson in this role, but I prefer the seemingly out of favor Michael Cuddyer. I think the starting pitching is going to be ok and adjust to the fastball hitting Kansas City lineup, the way for the Mets to win will once again be maintaining their offense and ability to generate runs. I’m excited!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

So much learned from a few hours in Poughkeepsie

The Brother I knew when we were growing up was not a Friend of Bill W.. I went to college and never really came back home before he got sober. I knew he changed, but distance and rarely seeing each other did not often let me see how much. It took me a long time to accept the compassionate person he became, from the turbulence of what he was during those years.

At the funeral, so many people came to me. After the initial, “You must be his Brother, you look so much like him,” I heard how much he helped other people. I knew he did this, but not to the depth and extent others told me.

I did not need specifics, that’s part of the privacy, but understood immediately how profound his help was to others. Anytime, he was there. Over and over I heard and saw these emotions expressed from all the men and women he held his hand out to. There was a real bravery in some of these people, for telling me, a complete stranger, a very tough part of who they are.

That’s the good of what I received from these people. What I took most from a weekend in which we were all saddened by a person being taken from us way too soon. My Brother was an amazing person in the second act of his life, and I think he’s alright now.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Needs calendar work

The child comes home from school, takes his shoes off. Has some yogurt. Put his shoes back on about half an hour later. Then he's walking around a bit anxious. Taps my leg and the couch over and over. What do you want, I ask him. He says something unintelligible.

Then I say, "I want..."

He says, "Ziggy."

Ziggy is the horse he rides.

Thursday kid, today's Monday.

And maybe this week he will want to stay on the horse for more than fifteen minutes of the half hour session.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

To write it all down, or none of it.

My Brother died on Tuesday of complications following a bone marrow transplant. He kept his illness private, but if there were any questions he would always answer them.

Last month, he left me a message to call him. I suspected something was up, as this was a very rare thing for him to do. In my family, random phone calls mean the news is rarely good. We were not very close, due to physical and emotional distance. Despite his being a yankee fan, a lot of mutual respect between us developed over time. He was always wondering how my son was and did his best to keep on his life.

He told me he was going into the hospital, again. The way he said it was a bit of a surprise. He had been in and out of the hospital more than once in the last couple of years, but this was the first time he let me know. There was something in the tone of his voice that led me to think this was more serious than usual tests and defense against infections.

During her visit, my sister confirmed this. His body weakened over the last few weeks and his organs told him the fight was over. He had a strong spirit, was a good man, and his loss will be felt by so many in and outside of his family.

Rest in Peace, Scott.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Being social is hard, but rewarding.

It's a rare weekend when we're invited out for not just one, but two, social events and have the time and ability to do it.

There was an energy in the microbrewery on Friday, where we waited for a person to show up to celebrate his birthday, and to meet him in person for the first time. We had a good conversation with another friend who was waiting as well, and met the celebrant's brother and a few other people.

Over the course of the evening we also met a local dining establishment owner and a local food blogger. I was in a good mood so I did not ask the blogger if he ever had a bad meal out, ever, and if did, did he ever write about it? But that's my issue with local food critics who hyper-focus on nothing but positives and never offer any constructive critique.

So that was growth on my part, I think.

There was also a fun dinner party in which Cards of Humanity was played. My wife and I were cleaning up on the black cards but this exchange was one I happened to read.

"Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's ___________________

White privilege."

That was the first card I read, and I nearly ended it right then and there. How can that be topped?

It was good, but tiring to get out.

Plus, the Mets were playing on the west coast in the playoffs. The games ended very late, Here's my poem about last night's game.

"An open letter to Chase Utley of the Los Angeles Dodgers; after he broke the leg of New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada during an illegal slide into second base in the seventh inning of a game that was played on October 11th, 2015.

Fuck you."

And that's all that needs to be said, until Monday night.

The death of Carey Lander, the keyboardist for Camera Obscura, leaves me very very sad. Lander died of sarcoma this morning at the age of 33. Sucks when such a vital, creative person is taken from us too soon. She will be greatly missed. Condolences to her family, the band, and her friends.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hope within the real challenges

How to Dance in Ohio is an honest, sweet, intense and refreshing glimpse into the lives of three young women on the autism spectrum who are preparing for a formal dance. It is a very fair look at the quirks, anxieties and how human people on the spectrum are, they just need some help. And the help is provided by Columbus doctor Emilo Amigo and his staff who work with young adults and adults on the spectrum with coping and social skills.

There is a beauty in the young women in their preparations for the dance that the filmmakers show us with great skill. It’s also a rare look at women on the spectrum, and it’s necessary. A lot of the film had me nodding in agreement, in that yes I’m there too with the parents on their journey in dealing with the challenges their children have. It’s an accurate depiction of young people coming of age.

The documentary is making the festival rounds now and is set to air on HBO on October 26th. I’d like to give a sincere thanks to Chris Stults of the Wexner Center for the Arts Film and Video Department for letting me know about the screening. It was a packed house full of people who were subjects of the film. There was also a very entertaining and moving post-screening talk by the director, producer and two of the ladies who appeared in the film. It was an honor to be in the audience.

Here is a link to a featurette about the documentary and an interview with Alexandra Shiva, the director.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chewing the authenticity

I may be one of the few people in this country who is not excited about McDonald's serving breakfast all day. It seems to be The Wire of fast food. It's also been years since I've been inside one, and that was to reassess the Shamrock Shake.

And it sucked. The food I've avoided since reading Fast Food Nation so it has been at least ten years since I've had a quarter pounder. Sure I go to Wendy's, a company with their own challenges with their practices and White Castle a couple of times a year whether I need to or not. And they do plenty for autism awareness even if it is with autism speaks.

Of course that would change if my son gave a shit about happy meals, but that has not happened.

The teenager has recently lost his joy in swimming, which makes me sad. I'm also not sure how the horseback riding is really going since he's cut the last two sessions short. Maybe he does not like the saddle, they're going to leave it off this week.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A week of cranky

It was great to have a guest last weekend. We hung out, ate, drank, caught up. My guest had never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so that was checked off a bucket list. Then there was a knock on our bedroom door at 5AM the day of departure. Our guest's car had been broken into and a bunch of stuff was stolen. Sure, it's stuff and it can be replaced, but some of the clothes, the annotated textbooks and nostalgic items cannot be replaced. They got into my car, which I always keep unlocked, and took an iPod charger (stuff) and my registration (what the Hell?)

I did tell my guest to bring anything important into the house, which was kinda sorta done. I really think that car was a target even if it was empty. I've been looking in pawn shops and craigslist to try and find the stolen stuff, but have had no luck.

I rarely write about work, but there are changes. Not much I can do but get through them as best as possible. There is also the matter of the second one of my coworkers being taken out of the building in a stretcher on Thursday. This one will have a more positive outcome though.

There was time to get a nice haircut but when I got to the car it would not start. AAA was called, gave me a jump I thought the problem was solved. Went to get takeout, the car died again. A Good Samaritan gave me a jump. Got home, tried to restart it would not. Was grouchy all night and got little sleep thinking of what had to be done today to get the car fixed. Did not want to take the day off but had to. Called AAA again who advised me to get a new battery. Why the Hell not? I thought as he told me the battery was the wrong size for the car and also needed a bracket because it was sliding around, which causes damage.

Battery replaced, car starting what I hope is normal. Went to auto parts store to get the bracket. Staff there had a bastard of a time finding the proper bolt but did. Nice people at Advance Auto on Harrisburg Pike. Figured I'd get a new air filter while I was there. Errands got ran. Air filter in car and furnace got replaced.

Trying hard to come down from the crankiness caused by hemorrhaging cash. Maybe it's seasonal malaise, I keep forgetting I crash when autumn is around. For all that though, things could be worse.