Month: October 2012

Vote Early…or Late…Just Vote

Maryland’s early voting opened today, and I just returned from casting my vote at the Silver Spring Civic Center – along with hundreds of my neighbors. The line stretched back to the Whole Foods store, but moved briskly.  There was a festive feel in the air. Of course, when I got inside the Civic Center and saw the tabulation for votes at 1 p.m. – over 500 registered Democrats and less than 30 registered Republicans – I realized that most of the people in this line were going to vote the same general ticket. No wonder they were festive! Our presidential contest is assumed to be no contest, but we do have a few national/local issues on our ballot – the most important being the state’s Marriage Equality initiative.  Maryland, along with two other states, is attempting to become the first state to support marriage equality by popular vote. Waiting for 90 minutes also means you have a lot of time to talk with others in the line. I was in a typically diverse segment, …

Guitars and Baseball

James Nash once gave some good advice to aspiring guitarists: Rule #1 for learning to play fast:  don’t practice while watching the ball game.  Well, tonight…I’m guilty.  Two hours after starting, I’ve finally put the last instrument back on its stand.  I was watching baseball the entire time. However, I suspect that the San Francisco-based Nash would approve of my choice of ballgame, as the hometown Giants are in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. And while I didn’t get any real practice in tonight, it sure was fun to multitask around two things that I love.  (Note to regular readers:  Candice, who has become a baseball fan this year with the emergence of the Nats, is out-of-town. I wasn’t ignoring her.) I grew up as a Giants fan.  The Braves hadn’t moved to Atlanta, so we didn’t have a MLB team in the South.  And Willie Mays is, to my mind, the most complete player in the history of the game.  He was so much fun to watch as a young kid in …

How Many Days Until Pitchers and Catchers Report?

Thomas Boswell deserved better.  But another well-educated baseball fan with a way for words said it best: It breaks your heart.  It is designed to break your heart.  The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. I was at Nationals Park last evening to the bitter end.  The spring promise of the 3-0 lead after the first three batters inevitably (it seems in retrospect) led to the chilly fall loneliness of five potential game-winning last strikes that never came. To sum it up, Thomas Boswell had one of his classic columns in this morning’s Washington Post. Boswell has been writing intelligently about baseball for decades.  But this past week, for the first time, he’s been able to write about playoff baseball where his hometown team is involved. And the bitter pill of last evening’s Game 5 loss in the deciding game of …

Sunday Brunch…A Lifesaver

Last October, Candice and I inadvertently started a tradition of eating brunch out every Sunday.  What a lifesaver…in more ways than one. It began as a way to get Candice out of the house after her fall.  Since she wasn’t able to drive at the time, I was concerned that being home was making her stir crazy. Church was one of the initial places we ventured and that first Sunday I suggested that we add on brunch. My motives were probably less than pure.  Sure, Candice would get out of the house.  But I’d also get to eat great food…without having to cook! (I was doing a number of chores I don’t normally assume last fall.) Our pattern became pretty consistent. We’d begin to talk about our choices mid-week.  In the process we’d check out the “best brunches” in the restaurant lists for the DC area.  By Saturday, we go on Open Table and make our reservation.  Candice would often study the menu and go to the restaurant knowing what she wanted. I’m not that …

The Sound of Genius

I opened the paper this morning to the wondrous news that Chris Thile – celebrated l’enfant terrible of the mandolin – was one of the 2012 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship grants. You gotta love it when a kid who starts off in bluegrass ends up being recognized as a MacArthur “genius” – the popular term for the winners of the $500,000, no strings attached annual award. Here’s the description from the MacArthur Foundation website: Chris Thile is a young mandolin virtuoso and composer whose lyrical fusion of traditional bluegrass with elements from a range of other musical traditions is giving rise to a new genre of contemporary music. With a broad outlook that encompasses progressive bluegrass, classical, rock, and jazz, Thile is transcending the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres in compositions for his own ensembles and frequent cross-genre collaborations. Although rooted in the rhythmic structure of bluegrass, his early pieces for his long-time trio, Nickel Creek, have the improvisatory feel of jazz; his current ensemble, Punch Brothers, evokes the ethos of classical chamber …

2012 N.L. East Division Champs!

Like Michael Morse – shown here grinning as he steps to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 9th in a 2-0 Nationals loss to the Phillies –  I don’t think I’ve ever had this much fun in a ballpark after a loss. Best. Losing. Night. Ever. Candice and I were at Nationals Park on Monday, October 1st, hoping to watch the Nats clinch their first ever National League East Division championship. It didn’t happen the way we hoped, with a Nats victory. But since they played so well from April through September, this loss on the first day of October didn’t keep our boys from clinching. About 10 minutes before our game ended, the Pittsburgh Pirates (bless their hearts) defeated the Atlanta Braves. With a magic number of one, the deed was done and the outcome on the field was anti-climatic. For the third time this year, I made the big screen, this time holding up a pair of Champs banners that our seat mate had brought to the park. Let the …