Pitchers and Catchers Report in 14 Days

On the weekend of the Super Hype Bowl, the Washington Nationals web site notes that we’re 14 Days and 13 Hours (as of this posting) until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

To celebrate, let’s check out question #1413 from Obsessed With Baseball.

Which one of these Hall of Fame pitchers did NOT reach 300 career wins?

A.  Mickey Welch  B.  Early Wynn  C. Robin Roberts  D. Kid Nichols

And the answer is….C.  Robin Roberts

Spring is around the corner.

More to come…


President Obama Mocks DC Residents’ Response to Winter

The blog DCist has a great post today with a video of President Obama mocking the people of Washington about their response to the weather.  His girls couldn’t believe that school was closed today (which was true for Andrew and Claire’s schools, which are just down the street from Sidwell).  One of the girl’s said that in Chicago they would have gone out for recess in this weather.

The DCist response is perfect:

President Barack Obama basically called District residents a bunch of wusses when it comes to dealing with snow and ice. We’d be offended if he wasn’t, you know, totally, absolutely correct.

Sad but true.  Watch the video…it is funny.

More to come…


My New Favorite Off-Season Sport

I just realized that I have a new favorite sport for the off-season (i.e., the non-baseball months of the year).  Hockey.  Yes, hockey.  I’m choosing to watch hockey games on television instead of basketball (especially given that interminable season that is pro basketball).

And I’m hooked thanks to the Washington Capitals and their superstar Alex Ovechkin, the Great Eight.  (Ovechkin wears #8 on his jersey.)  He’s a terrific talent – fast and strong with a wicked shot – and he has the teammates to support him.

A friend of mine from New Orleans once said Southerners had learned to like hockey because it was the closest legalized sport to cock fighting.  A good line, but the fighting is not what I find intriguing about the sport.   I just watched a game between the top two teams in the Eastern Division of the NHL:  the Capitals and the Boston Bruins.  Although this is just after the All-Star break in the middle of the NHL season, these two teams played at a speed and skill level that was breath-taking.  Incredible puck handling, stop-on-a-dime turns, unbelievable stops by both goalies…this game had all the drama of playoff hockey.  As befitted such a well-played contest between the top two teams, the game went into overtime.  Ovechkin just missed a game winner due to a great stop by Thomas in the Boston goal, and in the ensuing rush up the ice the Capitols took a penalty.  On a bad bounce the Bruins with the power play won in overtime.  Nonetheless, it was a great game no matter your team.

Thomas Boswell, the baseball-loving columnist for the Washington Post, recently wrote a column that explains the appeal of this Capital team.  It ends with:

Sometimes, over the years, the Caps have been sportswriter spinach and fan repellent. And sometimes, they’ve been fun. But they’ve never been a thrill, never been the best show in town, never been the team whose tickets you gave to your family for Christmas. Until now.

It’s a strange new place we find ourselves, to be sure. But we can probably learn to enjoy it.

It is indeed a thrill that I’m enjoying a great deal.

More to come…


Exploring LA

Storer House

Having been in Los Angeles the last four days for work-related meetings, I haven’t had an opportunity to post More to Come…updates.  But I have had time to explore parts of the city with colleagues involved in historic preservation.  As is always true when I’m in Los Angeles, I learned more and more about this city’s many wonderful historic places. 

Our meetings were in Santa Monica, and I took some time to visit the historic pier and to sample a nice Spanish restaurant in their funky Main Street – which is more like a neighborhood commercial center these days.  Don’t think I spent hours on a sunny beach – it was cool, rainy at times, and in the 50s.

But on Saturday, when we spent 8 hours touring around town, the weather gods cooperated.  While the temperature stayed in the 50s, the rain gave way to partly cloudy skies. 

We began our tour on bus and went through a number of neighborhoods off Wilshire Boulevard, before we ended up downtown.  It was my first chance to see Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.  Although viewed only from the bus,Disney Concert Hall one could quickly see why this new building has captured the imagination of architecture critics and the public alike, and is becoming a major gathering space in a city that doesn’t have many public spaces.  The photo at the right doesn’t do the building justice, but there are many online views for those who want to explore further.

Our tour then led us to Little Tokyo, where we began with a walking tour.  The preservation issues here are difficult, as many of the Japanese Americans who once were confined to this part of the city have now dispersed.  We did visit a family-owned candy shop where they’ve been selling traditional Japanese confections for over 100 years.  And the street art was used to help tell the story…such as the note that in 1890 there were approximately 40 Japanese in Los Angeles.  By 1930, 35,000 Japanese in Los Angeles live within a 3-mile radius of the corner where we stood.  The Japanese American National Museum was another surprise.  We were all deeply moved by the exhibit on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  Stepping inside of one of the barracks rescued from a western internment camp made the experience very present.

Leaving the museum, we toured other neighborhoods, passed the Hollywood stars walk of fame, and ended up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Storer House for a tour and cocktails.  (See photo at the top of the post and those following.)  One of four textile block houses of Wright’s in LA, the Storer House is not generally open to the public but we were able to visit throughout the house.  The spaces were wonderful and pure Wright.  Very intimate and private bedrooms were adjacent to two large family spaces on the main floors.  The view of LA from the rooftop was beautiful.

 A wonderful evening…but the plane is getting ready to board. 

More to come…


Storer Housestorer-house-5-0109

Live at McCabe’s

Norman Blake Live at McCabe's

Norman Blake Live at McCabe's

I am in Santa Monica, California, for a set of meetings.  For most people, when they think of Santa Monica they think of the beautiful beach and the restored Santa Monica Pier, with its historic carousel and the great Ferris wheel that lights up the night sky.  Those things are all pretty wonderful, but when flatpickers come to Santa Monica they think of Live at McCabe’s.

Back in the 1970s, Norman Blake was making his first west coast appearance and he recorded an album at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, which is located on Pico Boulevard here in Santa Monica.  It is a wonderful album for several reasons, but most of all because it showcases Blake’s incredible guitar flatpicking skills.  For those who’ve only heard Blake on O Brother Where Art Thou or on his later albums, there’s always a wonder – as others have noted – at how Blake came to be mentioned among the first guitar greats in the same breath with Doc Watson, Dan Crary, and Clarence White.  When you listen to Live at McCabe’s you no longer ask the question.  Playing solo and with his wife Nancy, Blake gives a tour de force of guitar flatpicking on this album.  I learned Sweet Heaven When I Die from this version many years ago and still play it today – although without Norman’s virtuosity.

I drove past McCabe’s last evening on the way to dinner and was reminded of this album, Norman’s place in flatpicking history, and of this wonderful video of Norman and Tony Rice that I found on YouTube just a few days ago.  Enjoy these two guitar giants as they ride along the New River Train.

More to come…


More on the Inauguration

In searching the Internet this morning, I found a post on the Daily Kos’ Street Prophets section on faith that discussed the difference between the prayers of Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony.  I recommend the entire post, but I loved the ending enough to add it here.  Pastor Dan writes,

As a Facebook friend says, “Rev. Lowrey is to Rick Warren as Mavis Staples is to Britney Spears.” Yep, pretty much.

That’s a great line…and very true.  If you don’t know Mavis Staples, listen to the following video.  And the images are a poignant reminder of why so many people were quoted yesterday as saying, “I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime.” 

More to come…


Views of the Inauguration

Claire's View of the InaugurationJanuary 20, 2009 was a great day to be an American.  It was also a wonderful day to be in Washington.  And although I’m writing this from Santa Monica, California – I didn’t leave Washington until we had a new president.

Claire was on the mall with friends and she took several pictures of the inauguration – including the one at the top of the post.  She reports that it was very festive, and this picture captures that spirit.

Because I had to fly to California later in the day, and Candice was coming back from a long weekend in Florida, Andrew and I opted to go to Politics and Prose – the wonderfully independent and progressive neighborhood bookstore – to watch the inauguration with like-minded friends and patrons.  It was great.  The staff provided free popcorn, the coffee shop was hopping turning out the hot chocolate and lattes, and everyone was in a very good mood.  Andrew had on his Obama ’08 cap and we enjoyed the view and the company.  There were three Politics and Prose Inauguration Partydifferent screens and the place was full…it was almost as busy as a Harry Potter launch party!  We all cheered, a few hissed at the sight of outgoing officials, and I think everyone had a tear come to the eye.  I certainly did.

So I flew across the country for work later in the day, but did get to see the parade (thanks to Virgin America’s cool in-seat TV screens).  And just watching Larry King Live on CNN, one of his quests just talked about a great moment for him which I also found very moving.  That was when Joseph Lowery, the Civil Rights icon, began his prayer with the third stanza of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Negro national anthem.   Hearing that song the day after the MLK holiday and in this context was just the right touch.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

God bless our new President.  And God bless America.

More to come…