Month: October 2014

Music of Water + Fire

Saturday evening’s WaterFire Providence – an award-winning sculpture installation featuring 100 blazing bonfires floating atop the water of Providence’s rivers – was capped with a terrific Brown University Chorus concert of Water and Fire-theme music. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful fall Saturday of activities during the university’s family weekend. After a late-night Friday dinner at Gracie’s (if you go to Providence you must eat at Gracie’s, and then have breakfast at Ellie’s, the restaurant’s partner bakery), we slept in a bit on Saturday but made it up in time for a fascinating lecture as part of the Family Weekend Forums.  Professor of Medicine Richard Besdine spoke on Fit at 50, Sexy at 70, Nimble at 90:  The Fundamentals of Healthy Aging to a room full of parents who looked a great deal like us!  (He added the “Nimble at 90” part of the title on the fly, and noted that our children’s granddaughters – Andrew and Claire’s granddaughters – would have a life expectancy of 100.) While there wasn’t anything we hadn’t …

Beer and Bluegrass

Beer and bluegrass.  Betcha never thought of that combination before. Yeah, right. At a festival that took “parking lot picking” to its logical conclusion (i.e., it was held in a parking lot next to the Clarendon Courthouse Metro Station), Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen rode to the rescue when the organizers of the Clarendon Arts & Crafts Beer Festival’s Acoustic Music tent were struggling with a bad sound system and horrible logistics (the sets were almost an hour late in starting). When the Dirty Kitchen band finally began their set  in the tent’s lengthening shadows, we were only ten minutes away from the festival’s posted closing hour. Somehow, with six Virginia Craft Brewers and about a dozen local food trucks to choose from, it didn’t seem to matter! The artist who was really shortchanged in the logistical and sound mess was Christie Lenee. This finger-style guitar tapper was new to me, but she has obviously been making waves in the acoustic music world for a while. Her inventive sound reminded me of Michael Hedges, but …

Cheerfulness

In the recently published The Keillor Reader, Garrison Keillor begins the book’s final essay with these insights: Cheerfulness is a choice, like choosing what color socks to wear, the black or the red. Happiness is something that occurs, or it doesn’t, and don’t hold your breath. Joy is a theological idea, pretty rare among us mortals and what many people refer to as “joy” is what I would call “bragging.” Bliss is brief, about five seconds for the male, fifteen for the female. Contentment is something that belongs to older cultures: Americans are a hungry, restless people, ever in search of the rainbow, the true source, the big secret. Euphoria is a drug. Keillor wrote the essay on cheerfulness after his mother died at age ninety-seven. He noted that she possessed cheerfulness, as did his father, but that it was a new topic for him. Yet as he realized in the writing, he is a cheerful man.  Later in the essay he notes: Cheerfulness is a great American virtue, found in Emerson, Whitman, Emily Dickinson, …

My 2014 World Series Fantasy

I know I’m now expected to cheer for the almost-hometown Orioles to make the World Series, as the Nationals have succumbed to the Giants.  The O’s have a good team this year, and I’d be happy to see them in the Series.  They deserve all the positive things that may come their way (although that Game 1 loss wasn’t a good start.) But…I keep having this recurring fantasy about the 2014 World Series. It goes back to my hatred of the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2012 NLDS, when we were one strike from winning and couldn’t put it away.  This year’s loss to the Giants hurt, but not like that, since 2012 was so gut wrenching coming as it did at home in Game 5. No, for my fantasy I’d like to see a replay of the 1985 World Series. You remember the “Show-Me Series” (or the “I-70 Series” depending on your preference): the only World Series between Missouri’s two baseball teams – the regal Cardinals and the expansion Royals.  In Game 6, with …

Nats Forget Basics and Lose a Season

Crash Davis said it best. Baseball is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball… Last evening and early this morning as they faced an elimination game, the Nats forgot how to throw the ball, catch the ball, and hit the ball. And so – no surprise – their season ended. Throw the ball.  A simple task.  Unless you are Gio Gonzalez and can’t throw a strike with the bases loaded. Unless you are Aaron Barrett, and can’t find your catcher on two consecutive tosses (including an intentional Ball 4). Unless you are Adam LaRoche and you throw home when no one is actually coming home. Catch the ball.  Another simple task.  Unless you are Gio (there he is again), and you do your best Billy Buckner impersonation and can’t pick up a gift of a double play ball that dribbles through your legs.  Unless you are Gio, Anthony Rendon, and Wilson Ramos who converge on a sacrifice bunt – a gift of an out – and …

In Doug We Trust

See you tomorrow! The Nationals finally played a sharp, aggressive game; had a great effort from pitcher Doug Fister; and turned the tables on the Giants when Madison Bumgarner took a sacrifice bunt and made an errant throw into the left field corner. Two runs later the Nats had a lead that quickly grew to three, and all of a sudden it appears we have a series! Bryce’s bomb in the 9th came tantalizingly close to McCovey Cove (how cool would that have been), but his sliding catch a couple of innings earlier was probably more important, as it helped keep the Giants scoreless at the time. We’ll have another game tomorrow.  Can’t ask for anything else this time of year. As Harper said to begin his post-game interview, “In Doug we trust.” Indeed! More to come… DJB

Matt, You Have to Trust Your Pitcher’s Heart

Last night was tough.  No doubt about it. A sunny and cool afternoon turned into a cold and cruel evening at Nationals Park, as we were reminded that sometimes the best managers do nothing in critical situations. They trust their players. Matt Williams is a rookie manager who has had a fine run in his first year, leading the Nats to the best record in the National League. But in what was close to a do-or-die game last evening, he over-managed.  And we were reminded that he is still a rookie. Jordan Zimmermann was one out away from completing two of the most stunning back-to-back pitching performances in baseball history.  How to follow-up a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season?  Oh, how about taking a 3-hitter within one out of a complete game shutout when your team is down one game in the NLDS.  He had easily handled the heart of the Giants order the last two times he faced them, so who cares if their 3-4-5 hitters are coming up. Zimm …