Sunday, May 28, 2017

Match Report: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 - DC United 1

  • Goals scored: Neagle 61' (penalty)
  • What happened: Vancouver dominated the match almost from start to finish-- they hit the crossbar and goalpost multiple times but could not score. DC were awarded a questionable penalty early in the second half and scored. Vancouver were awarded a penalty late in second half stoppage time-- Cristian Techera's kick hit the post.
  • Who sang the national anthems: A child
  • Players in today's match that I recognized because they used to play for the Seattle Sounders: Fredy Montero and Sebastian Le Toux (Update-- According to my friend Michael, DC United goalscorer Lamar Neagle is a native of Federal Way, WA and former Sounder as well. Additionally, Michael says that his wife of many years has always had a crush on Neagle.)
  • Question I had while watching the match: How do the Tyranno-Vision screen and Roof Opening Apparatus (pictured below) not fall down on to the field and crush the players?

  • Other question I had while watching the match: How does one get a job on the Stretcher Crew (pictured below-- the four guys in white vests)? 

  • Final questions I had while watching the match: Why did they water the pitch at halftime if it is artificial? Or was the truck that drove around spreading sand instead?
  • How we got tickets: Free from friends
  • Where the teams were in the MLS standings coming into the match: Vancouver-- mid-table in the Western Conference; DC United-- bottom of the the Eastern Conference
  • Things the Vancouver fans did not like: The officiating, especially after Neagle converted the penalty kick for DC United (video below)

  •  Things that disappointed the Vancouver fans: Techera missing the potentially equalizing penalty kick in stoppage time (video below)

  • What this match teaches us: They still play the Vancouver Whitecaps Anthem before games.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Forty years ago today-- the Sex Pistols release "God Save The Queen"

Sometime during the 1979-80 school year, when I was eleven or twelve, my older brother returned home from college in Colorado, where he was a freshman and hating it. When he’d gone off in the fall, Clark had had shoulder-length hair and was listening to the Marshall Tucker Band, the Eagles, and the Who; when he came back home, his hair was half an inch long, and he was wearing cracked mirrored sunglasses and an amused snarl. One day during his visit, Clark told me I needed to call the KSHE Radio request line and ask for a particular song to be played. At the time (and probably to this day), KSHE played “Real Rock Radio” and was where white St. Louis went to hear Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Charlie Daniels, Steely Dan, and Yes—it was, at my brother’s insistence throughout high school, the only radio station we ever listened to on family car trips. Now here was Clark wanting me to call up these arbiters of dinosaur rock taste and request some song with bad words in it he'd heard about while away at college. As the younger brother who always wanted to be included in any mischief and mayhem, I was eager to comply.

I’m not sure I actually remember placing the phone call, so I always imagine my fingers shaking as I dialed and my voice cracking as I asked the man who answered the phone on the other end of the line, “Can you play ‘God Save the Queen’ by the Sex Pistols?” But I have no trouble recalling his response— he quickly shouted “Fuck you!” and crashed the phone down. Needless to say, I was thrilled—what powers had I just unleashed? What was this music that made grown men cuss out little kids over the phone just for requesting it? I hadn’t even heard the song yet, but I knew was hooked.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Data analysis: every single book I read in 2016

Above: Primo Levi at his desk

In 2016, I read a total of 39 books. As best as I can determine, of these books...
  • 32 were written by men; 7, by women
  • 35 were written by white authors; 4, by authors of color
  • Of the non-white authors, 3 were Black and 1 was Latino 
  • 34 were originally written in English; 5, in a language other than English
  • Of the books translated from a language other than English, 1 was originally written in German, 1 in French, 1 in Russian, and 2 in Italian
  • 15 were fiction; 24 were non-fiction
  • 23 were books I read for the first time; 16 were books I had read at least once before
For the complete list, click here.

Every single book I read in 2016

Los Macheteros: The Wells Fargo Robbery and the Violent Struggle for Puerto Rican Independence-- Ronald Fernandez
The Thief Lord-- Cornelia Funke
Rising Sun-- Michael Crichton
Addie and the King of Hearts-- Gail Rock
Coma-- Robin Cook

Dealing or The Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues-- "Michael Douglas"
The Plague-- Albert Camus
Gorky Park-- Martin Cruz Smith

The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther-- Jeffrey Haas
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold-- John Le Carre

The Village of Ben Suc-- Jonathan Schell
Dispatches-- Michael Herr
Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention-- Jamal Joseph

What's a Commie Ever Done to Black People? A Korean War Memoir of Fighting in the U.S. Army's Last All Negro Unit-- Curtis James Morrow
Dog Soldiers-- Robert Stone
Death Zones and Darling Spies: Seven Years of Vietnam War Reporting-- Beverly Deepe Keever
Notes: on the making of Apocalypse Now-- Eleanor Coppola

Winners and losers-- Gloria Emerson (pictured above along with New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg)
Witness to War-- Charles Clements, M.D.
The Military Half: An Account of Destruction in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin-- Jonathan Schell
The New Legions-- Donald Duncan
A Subaltern on the Somme-- Mark VII (Max Plowman)
Catch-22-- Joseph Heller

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life-- William Finnegan
Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs-- John Lydon with Keith and Kent Zimmerman
Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back-- Shel Silverstein *
Reckless: My Life As A Pretender-- Chrissie Hynde

I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography-- Richard Hell
POPism: The Warhol Sixties-- Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett
When Workers Organized at Wesleyan University-- Alexandra Ricks
Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth-- Rick Remender (writer)/ Wes Craig (artist)/ Lee Loughridge (colorist)
Deadly Class Volume 2: Kids of the Black Hole-- Rick Remender (writer)/ Wes Craig (artist)/ Lee Loughridge (colorist)
Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life In Ink-- Jeff Johnson
There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom-- Louis Sachar *

A Wild Stab For It: This is Game Eight from Russia-- Dave Bidini with photos by Brian Pickell
The Yellow Arrow-- Victor Pelevin
Cut off behind enemy lines in the Battle of the Bulge with two small children, Ernest Hemingway, and other assorted misanthropes-- Bill Davidson
Survival in Auschwitz: The Nazi Assault on Humanity-- Primo Levi
The Reawakening-- Primo Levi

* Indicates a book I read out loud to my students

For a data analysis of the books I read this year, click here.

Monday, June 27, 2016

I saw the St. Louis Cardinals play the Seattle Mariners, Part Three

What I saw: the St. Louis Cardinals play the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. The Cardinals hit six solo home runs from the sixth inning on and won 11-6.

What I wore: black Nike sneakers (same as the previous day), tan Levi's jeans (same as two days before), light red Arizona Cardinals t-shirt, faded blue Cardinals hat.

What I did beforehand: continued a multi-day conversation/argument on the phone with my older brother about whether St. Louis is the most racist place in the United States and how that impacts rooting for the Cardinals. (My argument, which I'm not sure my brother ultimately agreed with, involved a complicated, lengthy cooking analogy about how the basic ingredients of racism-- political disenfranchisement, economic oppression, threats of or actual violence by the police or white citizens, etc.-- exists everywhere in this country, but that each local area combines them in a slightly different recipe based upon local conditions. So while the racist stew dished out by the white people of St. Louis may be particularly repulsive, it's not necessarily all that different or worse than a similar city such as Cincinnati or Baltimore. My brother's argument involved a lengthy list of all the horrible things that have ever happened in St. Louis.)

Who went with me: my friends Dorothy and Paul, whose daughter went to preschool with my daughter almost twenty years ago.

How I got tickets: Mariners ticket office-- the friendly ticket agent helped me choose different but excellent seats for all three games.

Why I saw this game: I've loved the Cardinals ever since I was a little kid. There were a lot of other Cardinals fans there as well.

Pretty much everybody in red in this picture is a Cardinals fan.

Where I sat: section 245, row 2, seat 12. These seats were in the club section, which has it's own concessions area and padded, slightly-wider seats. There were ushers who would take your order and bring food to your seat if you wanted (we didn't). The bathrooms in our section, though, were some of the dirtiest I've ever seen at Safeco Field.

Things that were sad: one of my all-time favorite Mariners, injury-plagued Franklin Gutierrez, hit a three-run home run in the sixth inning to tie the game at 6-6. 

Things that were funny: the Mariners gave all dads belated Fathers Day barbeque tongs.

If you weren't a dad, you couldn't get one

Things that were not funny: the people behind me had a long conversation with a young man who seemed to be some sort of relative (but maybe not a son) about how to choose a fraternity when he heads off to college.

What it is: a satisfying ending to a weekend spent watching baseball.

Who should see it: me and my friends and the chatty Mariners fan who sat in front of us who once worked for a year-and-a-half in St. Louis for the circulation department of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

What I saw on the way home: a lot of people were leaving Seattle Pride at the same time that the game ended, so the light rail was very crowded (but not as crowded as some train riders (who were telling people on the platform not to try to get on) seemed to think). 

(Thanks to How Way Leads On To Way for the inspiration.)

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I saw the St. Louis Cardinals play the Seattle Mariners, Part Two

What I saw: the St. Louis Cardinals play the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. The Cardinals were down 5-0 after two innings, mounted a comeback, but ultimately lost 5-4.

What I wore: black Nike sneakers (comfortable but old), grey Levi's jeans, red Cardinals Busch Stadium 1966-2005 commemorative t-shirt, black Champion warm-up jacket that doesn't fit very well, faded blue Cardinals hat.

What I did beforehand: went for dinner to the Phnom Penh Noodle House in the International District. I had the Tender Duck Noodle Soup and my friend had the Foursome Beef Noodle Soup, both of which we enjoyed. This restaurant is owned by the family of former students at my school, so I spent some time reminiscing and catching up with the mom of two boys who will now be going into 8th and 11th grade.

Who went with me: my friend/fellow teacher/fellow union activist Michael. 

How I got tickets: bought them several weeks ago at the Safeco Field ticket office. Details are here.

Why I saw this game: I have traveled thousands of miles just to see a Cardinals game-- it would be ridiculous to not see every Cardinals game on one of their rare visits to Seattle.

Where I sat: section 116, row 20, seat 1. These seats were in the outfield down the first base side, and, because of that, were in prime foul ball territory. The view was quite good, but it was actually somewhat terrifying-- several line drives came into the general area of where we were sitting, one of which ricocheted and hit a man in the face, giving him a bloody nose. I regretted forgetting to bring my glove.

Things that were sad: the man getting hit in the face by the ball; the Cardinals losing for the second night in a row by a single run; how slow Yadier Molina runs.

Things that were funny: in the middle of the fifth inning, a shoeless fan wearing an American flag draped over his shoulders ran out onto the field and almost interfered with a fly ball being caught. 

The fan being escorted off the field after being tackled by security

Things that were not funny: we were sitting directly in front of a very loud and entertaining older Black Cardinals fan from St. Louis. When the Cardinals did well, she would celebrate very boisterously by dancing, hollering, and waving her Cardinals blanket around. At one point during one of her celebrations, someone in the almost all-white crowd behind us started throwing popcorn at her. She then proceeded to pretty loudly announce to those around us that she's from St. Louis and not to be messed with. The popcorn throwing stopped after that. Remember-- racism is real folks, even out here in "liberal" Seattle.

What it is: an expression of loyalty that I would gladly make again and again to waste this much time and money watching my favorite baseball team lose two nights in a row.

Who should see it: anyone who enjoys sitting outside on a beautiful summer night watching grown men run around playing a game. Also anyone who enjoys remembering 1980s baseball uniforms, movies, music, and computer graphics-- it was Throwback Night and everything was 1980s-related.

What I saw on the way home: a young adult on the light rail with what appeared to be either his mother or his much-older girlfriend returning home from the game; several glum-looking Cardinals fans; junk mail in my mailbox when I got back to my building.

(Thanks to How Way Leads On To Way for inspiration.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

I saw the St. Louis Cardinals play the Seattle Mariners, Part One

What I saw: the St. Louis Cardinals play the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle. The Mariners won, 4-3, on a 9th inning walk-off three run home run by Adam Lind off Trevor Rosenthal.

What I wore: newish grey Nike sneakers, tan Levi's jeans (most comfortable pair of pants I own), unremarkable blue polo shirt, black Helly Hansen rain jacket, faded blue Cardinals hat

What I did beforehand: waited at my apartment for my friend Pete to arrive from work on his bike; drove him in my truck over to his house to drop off his bike; drove over to the Beacon Hill light rail station and parked my truck; took light rail to the stadium.

Who went with me: my friend Pete (see above). I took him to the game in honor of his birthday which was the previous week.

How I got tickets: the last time the Cardinals were in Seattle was back in 2002. I had always promised myself that I would go to every game in the series the next time the Redbirds returned. When I saw this three game series on the schedule, I took the light rail down to the Safeco Field ticket office to buy tickets to all three games (to save on service charges and delivery fees which typically add a sizable amount to any online ticket order). At the time that I bought the tickets, I had no idea who would be going with me to each game.

Why I saw this game: I grew up in St. Louis,  where everyone (except one or two crackpots in my family who claimed to originally be Browns fans) roots for the Cardinals pretty much from birth. Many of the most memorably traumatic moments of my life revolve around Cardinals losses, starting in 1974 with the time I cried inconsolably after Cubs catcher Steve Swisher dropped a third strike to allow the Pittsburgh Pirates to clinch the NL East title and knock the Cardinals out of playoff contention. I was six years old.

Where I sat: section 109, row 37, seat 7. One of my favorite places to sit-- easy access from the south-east gate at Safeco Field; on the first level of the outfield so there's a realistic chance of catching a home run ball. The other fans in our section were friendly, rowdy (but not drunk), profane, and knowledgeable-- can't really ask for more (except for fans to refrain from shouting out racist insults-- see below).

Things that were sad: the Cardinals held a 3-1 lead going into the 9th inning but lost.

Things that were funny: from where we were seated, we could not see the Tyranno-Vision screen, so we did not have a lot of information about players and stats (nor were we close enough to see the players faces clearly). I haven't followed the Cardinals quite as closely in the past few years as I have in previous years, so I don't know all the numbers of the players. Because of this, I somehow convinced myself the Cardinals were pitching Michael Wacha instead of Carlos Martinez. It was only in about the sixth inning that I finally figured out my mistake.

 Wacha (left) and Martinez (right)

Things that were not funny: at one point early in the game, the Mariner's Dae-Ho Lee, an enormous south Korean slugger who has become something a fan favorite this year, came up to bat. In the section around me, several people made racist comments, most notably the guy behind us who shouted out, "Konnichwa, motherfucker!!!!" Once again, Seattle's self-annointed reputation for open-mindedness and tolerance is shown to not actually be the case. 

What it is: a sport, played by professionals, in front of a crowd of paying customers (and others watching on television).

Who should see it: Cardinals fans, Mariners fans, baseball fans, and even people who aren't baseball fans-- this was a game that almost anyone who have found enthralling.

What I saw on the way home: the most erraticly-driven light rail train I've ever ridden on. 

(Thanks to How Way Leads On To Way for the inspiration.)

"Hockey ought to be sternly forbidden, as it is not only annoying but dangerous." Halifax Morning Sun, quoted in Michael McKinley's Hockey - A People's History