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18 June 2018 @ 03:01 pm
I have a bunch of political ranting to do, but first let me catch up on the past week or so.

Celebrity Death Watch: Ira Berlin was an historian, who wrote largely about slavery. Victor Tolmachev was one of the chief designers of the Antonov airplane. Eunice Gayson was an actress, notable as the first Bond girl. Kenyatta Jones was a football player. Lorraine Gordon owned the Village Vanguard, a jazz club. Christopher Stasheff was a fantasy writer. Leslie Grantham was a British actor. Martin Bregman produced movies, including Scarface and Dog Day Afternoon.

You don’t really need me to tell you about Anthony Bourdain. His suicide seems to have hit a lot of my friends particularly hard. I found it unsurprising, frankly. Bourdain made no secret of his history of substance abuse, which is often a form of self-medication. And his relationship life was said to be turbulent. Still, he was an interesting writer and deserves credit for encouraging people to broaden their food horizons.

Hail, Colorado Springs: I flew out to Colorado Springs Monday afternoon. My flight from IAD to DEN was crowded, but arrived early. The DEN to COS leg was delayed about 20 minutes, however. Despite my reservation being for a compact car, Avis asked offered me a Chevy Tahoe or a minivan. I pushed back and ended up with a Kia Soul. Which is not a compact car either, but is at least possible to: a) park and b) get in and out of wearing dress shoes. I stayed at the Springhill Suites, which is adequate, but my room had rather too more traffic noise than I’d prefer.

The bigger noise issue was Tuesday night, when I was awakened about 12:45 a.m. by a thunderstorm. Shortly after that started, I thought the people above me were panicking and running around furiously. Then I remembered I was on the top floor. In short, there was the worst hailstorm I have ever experienced. It went on for about 35 minutes and sounded like a herd of moose stampeding through the parking lot. Reports were that the hail was either golf ball size or baseball size, but I couldn’t tell from my brief glance through the window of my room. The next day, everyone was talking about damage to their rental cars. I was lucky in that mine just got about a half-dozen or so dents on the front hood, but several people had windshields shattered.

The meetings I was out there for were reasonably productive, though I was fairly annoyed at one person (who is someone I am often annoyed at due to his lack of listening – and, more significantly, lack of interest in listening.) I made a token appearance at the social on Wednesday night, which was more annoying because: a) parking in downtown Colorado Springs is a pain and b) the place it was held at was too loud to really carry on a conversation.

The trip home on Friday was just okay. The real problem with a 6 a.m. flight is that I don’t sleep well when I have to be up earlier than usual. I was pretty wiped out from poor sleep and the altitude and, of course, my gate for the DEN to IAD flight was all the way at the other end of Terminal B from where the COS to DEN flight had arrived. I really felt like I was going to collapse on the way there. I was fine once I had rested a bit and drunk a lot of water. I was still happy to get home to the humid lowlands, which really suit my body much better.

World Cup: I am cheering for Uruguay and Senegal, should anyone care.

53rd Old Time Music Hall: The British Players do their old-time music hall show every year or two. The traffic on the Beltway getting to Kensington Town Hall was annoying, but I’d left myself a lot of time (more because I was concerned about parking, but it turns out that there is a fair-sized lot at the Town Hall itself). The ticket includes refreshments (beer, wine, or soft drinks, plus nibbles like goldfish and chex mix). There’s a sing-along before the show (and another at the end of intermission). But the main thing is a bunch of musical acts, along with a lot of corny jokes. Many of the songs are funny (e.g. "The Cannibal’s Menu," "The Pheasant Plucker," and "The Night I Appeared as Macbeth.") But there was also a bit of a focus on World War I, including an Irving Berlin medley (nto quite British music hall, but …) and a Flying Machine medley (Come, Josephine…) and some dance numbers (though the kick line was not quite as well-synchronized as it should have been). Overall, there was nothing profound here, but it was a fun afternoon.

The Scottsboro Boys: I had seen The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway. I thought it was an interesting show, with excellent music and a lot of disturbing aspects, starting with the use of minstrelry as a mechanism of presenting a story full of racism. For those unfamiliar with the historical background, the story involves 9 black boys who were arrested and sentenced to death for the alleged rape of two white women in a boxcar. It’s clear all along that they’re innocent – but they are repeatedly found guilty even after one of the women recants and admits they made up the rape to avoid being arrested for hopping the freight. The affair caught the attention of the Communist Party and, hence, the involvement of a lawyer named Samuel Liebowitz. There is a shockingly anti-Semitic song ("Financial Advice") which deals with his involvement in the case. The real focus is on Heywood Patterson (played excellently by Lamont Walker II) who refused to confess in exchange for being freed. (In the play, he died of cancer after 31 years in jail. In real life, he escaped in 1948, but was later arrested and convicted of manslaughter in an unrelated case in 1951. His death in prison was of cancer, but followed that second sentence.)

There is another aspect of the show I want to mention, but I will be put it behind a cut to avoid spoilers. Read more...Collapse )

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11 June 2018 @ 10:20 am
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: I saw the Kennedy Center Center Stage concert production (i.e. minimally staged) on Friday night. Yes, the sexism is problematic, with secretaries whose sole ambition is marrying a tycoon. But there is plenty of humor, along with great songs and outstanding performances. They did cut "Cinderella Darling" – and I’d rather they had cut "Paris Original" – but there’s still the fun of "Coffee Break," "Grand Old Ivy," and "I Believe in You."

As for the performances, I was very impressed by Skylar Astin as J. Pierpont Finch and Michael Urie as Bud Frump. Betsy Wolfe played Rosemary well, though this production made her seem particularly predatory and, hence, less likeable. And then there’s Nova Payton, who is one of the biggest stars among local performers here and whose scat singing in "Brotherhood of Man" stole the show.

All in all, a fun evening.

The Flushies: Saturday was the Flushies, the "awards show" for the Style Invitational. I stopped off at Pie Gourmet on the way over to pick up a strawberry-rhubarb pie for the potluck. I should probably have brought an appetizer or main dish, as there were disproportionately many desserts, but that’s how it goes sometimes. There was lots of good conversation, followed by sing-alongs of parody songs, award presentations, and a game. In short, this is a good group of people to socialize with.

Memory Lab: On Sunday, the JGSGW had a session at the Northeast DC Library on how to use their Memory Lab. This started with a talk about archiving and preservation, which had some helpful info on things like naming files and selecting formats and such. Then we got a demo of both the audiovisual equipment, which you can use to digitize videotapes and cassette tapes (and copy data from floppy disks), and the high-resolution scanner. I probably won’t be able to make an appointment to use things for a while, given how overcommitted I am, but this is a great resource, and I am glad I went to the program.

Farewell to a Friend: Sunday night, I went out to dinner with some FlyerTalk friends, including two people visiting from Australia. The two locals included a guy who is moving to Bangladesh. I’m missing his official going-away party (due to a business trip) so was glad I got to see him. After dinner, we went over to his condo, which has and amazing view, including DCA and some of the monuments in the city. It was a fun evening and I was glad I got to see him before he leaves.

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11 June 2018 @ 10:09 am
This is early and short, due to impending business travel.

The theme for Week 24 (June 11-17) is Father's Day. My father, Eric (Ephraim Pinchas) NADEL, was born in Koenigsberg, East Prussia, which is now Kaliningrad, Russia, and grew up in Kaunas, Lithuania. He survived the Kovno Ghetto and Dachau and came to the U.S. He went to high school in Detroit, then went to New York. He studied civil engineering at City College of New York, usually referred to in our house as The Harvard of the Proletariat. He spent his career at the New York City Housing Authority, where (as he used to explain to people) he ruined neighborhoods. That is, he planned low-income housing projects, to the chagrin of various of our relatives in neighborhoods where some of those projects went. He was active in our synagogue. He liked to read murder mysteries, watch sports on TV, and listen to a variety of music (Broadway show tunes, cantorial music, pipe and drum bands). He was a bit of a clothes horse and he had dozens of neckties. He was smart and had a great sense of humor. He died way too young. I appreciate him more and more every day.

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08 June 2018 @ 04:13 pm
Trayf: This is a world premiere play, currently on at Theatre J, which I saw Wednesday night. I couldn’t resist the description which said it follows the adventures of Zalmy who drives a Mitzvah Tank by day and sneaks away from his ultra-religious community at night to roller skate and rock out in clubs. That isn’t completely accurate – Zalmy is the navigator for the Mitzvah Tank, while his friend, Shmuely, is the driver. But the point is that this is a story about the conflict between religious and secular lifestyles. ("Trayf" is the opposite of "kosher." It doesn't apply only to food.)

Zalmy and Shmuely have been best friends from childhood and their excitement over the Mitzvah Tank - and their efforts to encourage Jews to be more observant - is palpable. They also argue about little things, which reflect on their views towards life. One good example is Shmuely’s insistence on playing tapes all the way through, while Zalmy likes mix tapes. (This is the 90’s. We are talking cassettes.) But things come to a head when they find an enthusiastic man who wants to know more about Judaism – but who turns out not to be Jewish. Jonathan’s father was Jewish, but his mother was Catholic. Still, he’s enthusiastic and Zalmy invites him to Crown Heights, where Jonathan finds a real spiritual home and starts on the road to conversion. He also gives Zalmy mix tapes of secular music, listens to him talk about his excursions to the roller disco, and even gets him a ticket to a Broadway show. Shmuely is upset, not just about the secular influences, but because he feels left out with Zalmy and Jonathan’s growing friendship. There’s also an interesting encounter between Shmuely and Jonathan’s (secular Jewish) girlfriend.

This play had a lot of good things to say about differences and similarity and people searching for their paths in life. It’s clear that Lindsay Joelle, who wrote the play, has a lot of respect for Jewish community (and Chabad-Lubavitch, in particular). It’s also very funny. There are a few jokes that I am not sure a general audience would get, e.g. when Shmuely announces he has a date (arrange, of course) and Zalmy asks who the girl is, he says "Chaya Mushka," and Zalmy says, "which Chaya Mushka?" This is only funny if you know that’s the most popular name among Chabad women (after the late wife of the last rebbe), sort of the equivalent of Jennifer in the secular world at that time. But, overall, I think the conflict and the friendship story is more broadly relatable and I highly recommend this show. I really hope it has a long future, including (of course) being performed in other cities.

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The theme for Week 23 (June 4-10) is Going to the Chapel. This isn’t a particularly Jewish theme. But one of the suggested interpretations was to write about a relative who was a clergyman.

My maternal grandfather, Simon LUBOWSKY (originally Szymek CHLEBIOCKY) supposedly had smicha (a rabbinic degree) from a yeshiva in Petach Tikva. I haven’t been able to track down any evidence of this. And, since being a rabbi wasn’t really a way to make a living, he then followed his younger brother to Cuba and learned to become a watchmaker and silversmith.

My paternal grandfather, Leo (originally Leib) NADEL, got a cantorial degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He served as the cantor at our shul on the high holidays some years and also led the services at my brother’s bar mitzvah. I don’t think I appreciated his voice nearly enough when I was a child. I believe he made at least one recording of cantorial music for a landsmanschaft (a society of Jews from a particular community) from Lithuania, possibly specifically from Kovno. My favorite tidbit connected to this topic however is that he had business cards identifying himself as "the Reverend Cantor Leo Nadel" and we used to put one of them on the windshield to get better parking when we were visiting somebody at the hospital.

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05 June 2018 @ 04:45 pm
Celebrity Death Watch:Dick Tuck was a political prankster. Lla Brennan was a restaurateur. John Julius Norwich wrote about history and travel. Jill Ker Conway wrote a well-received memoir, The Road from Coorain, and became the first woman president of Smith College. Nick Meglin was an editor of Mad Magazine. Bruce Kison was a baseball pitcher, including two World Series championships with Pittsburgh and a brief stint with the Boston Red Sox. Frank Carlucci was the Secretary of Defense from 1987-1989 (under Reagan). Russell Nype was a Tony-winning actor. Kate Spade was a fashion designer.

Camelot: I went to see Camelot at the Shakespeare Theatre Company on Friday night. I have a complicated relationship with this show, since we did a production of it when I was in 6th grade. That was largely on the grounds that we were studying the Middle Ages, but it was really because our teacher, Mr. Ryder, was into musicals. And, while we used the songs, we rewrote large portions of the script. Most of the songs were sung by the entire class. As a result, I know the score well, but I had never actually seen the show. (I should also mention that the show got me addicted to Dark Shadows because I made paper mache trees for the set with a couple of other girls, who insisted we had to watch that soap opera while working on them.) I have, however, read The Once and Future King, which is largely the basis for the book.

So how was it? It’s rather a mess, really. For one thing, there is no way to tell how much time passes between events. There must be some time for word to spread to France about the Round Table and for rumors about the relationship between Lancelot and Guenevere to reach Scotland. But there don’t seem to be any knights going on quests, so who knows? Even King Pellinore seems to have given up on the Questing Beast in favor of sleeping on a featherbed with a fluffy pillow. The score has a few notable moments. "If Ever I Would Leave You" is lushly romantic, but it has other songs that are easy to mock. I’m always tempted to change a lyric in "C’est Moi" from "a knight so extraordinaire" to "a knight so full of hot air." And then there are songs like "How to Handle a Woman," "The Lusty Month of May," and, especially, "Fie on Goodness"” which just scream that this is not Lerner and Loewe at their best. (I should note that my biggest objection to the score is that it doesn’t have a consistent tone and has few bits that suggest medieval England.)

I could forgive much of that if the performances were better. But Alexandra Silber was too operatic as Guenevere, without being able to enunciate clearly enough with all the vocal pyrotechnics. Ken Clark was uneven as Arthur, but that is probably as much the fault of the score (and direction) that doesn’t know quite what to do with his disillusionment. The best performance was by Nick Fitzer as Lancelot. Now, there’s a voice that suited the character!

Incidentally, I have whined before about STC’s failure to use local actors and this was another case of it. Also, while I am nitpicking, the set had Lancelot and Guenevere rolling around on a stage full of rose petals at the beginning of Act II. The petals stayed there, which may be practical from the standpoint of set design, but annoyed me, because I was distracted by them being swept around in random patterns by the long dresses and robes worn by many characters.

There is some interesting political relevance to the story, but, overall, the show just didn’t work well for me.

The Indie 500: Saturday was the Indie 500, DC’s local crossword tournament. There were plenty of out-of-town attendees, particularly the Boston crowd. They’d moved locations and there were more people competing this year.

The puzzles were fashion-themed this time, though how much the themes had to do with fashion varied. I will refrain from details to avoid spoilers for the solve-at-home crowd. (I have one spoiler in rot13 in the comments). Things started off well for me, with a decent time (5:24) on Puzzle 1, even though I entirely failed to notice the theme while solving it. The average time was 5:41, by the way.

One of the Indie 500 traditions is pie and the boxes of miniature pies showed up early this time – between puzzles 1 and 2. They were unlabeled. I got something that seemed to be a sort of lemony custard, which was quite tasty.

Puzzle 2 had a cute theme and was reasonably straightforward. I finished in 11:24, which was a little slower than I should have, but there wasn’t any particular thing that slowed me down. (And the average time was 12:57, so it isn’t as if that was a bad time.)

I really enjoyed the theme of Puzzle 3, as well. I got slightly slowed down by one of the theme clues being a Down clue, while the rest were Across clues. And there was one square that required me to go through the alphabet to figure out an answer. Still, I solved it cleanly in 17:08, while the average was 18:27. At the end of three, I was in 75th place out of 164 contestants.

Then it was time for lunch. I ended up at Rice Bar, which is a bibimbap place a couple of blocks away. It was good and filling, though I will probably choose a different sauce than the peanut sauce I got if I go there again.

Puzzle 4 was the hardest of the day and took me 24:43, while the average was 19:26. Part of my slow time was due to my being unsure about the spelling of one person’s name. I had a spelling issue on another name, too, though I figured that out quickly. But I got hung up on the southeast corner, largely due to an initial error on one clue. I did end up solving it cleanly, but I was slow.

Puzzle 5 was straightforward and had a cute theme. I finished it in 11:47, while the average was 12:52. Sounds fine, right? Well, it would have been if I hadn’t had a stupid error. I had attempted to correct an error, but did not manage to actually completely erase the wrong letter. All I can think of is that I used the eraser at the end of my pencil, instead of the click-eraser I had with me. The error cost me a lot of points. And I ended up finishing 100 out of 164. Aaargh.

While the scores were being tabulated for the finals, there was a game that involved finding names hidden in other words. I was pretty good at this, for the most part. One of my teammates was amazed that I knew the word "psaltery" (a sort of medieval stringed instrument). I will confess to actually owning one – and playing it, though not very well.

So here is how I’ve done over the years on the Indie 500:

2018 – 100 / 164 (39th percentile)
2017 – 64 / 128 (50th percentile)
2016 – 60 / 117 (49th percentile)
2015 – 61 / 100 (39th percentile)

Quajado: I got home and made quajado for a potluck on Sunday. For those who are unfamiliar with this dish, it’s a Sephardic egg, cheese, and vegetable dish, sort of like a crustless quiche. I baked it in a 9 inch square pan because that’s what I had, but one could use a round pan, of course. Here’s the recipe I used:

Chop one medium onion. Saute in olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes.

Grate two smallish zucchini.

Thaw one package of frozen chopped spinach. (You could, of course, use fresh spinach, but I had frozen on hand.)

Mix the vegetables together. Add 6 lightly beaten eggs, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, and a ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese. Add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a teaspoon or so of crushed red pepper.

Pour the mixture into an oiled baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until set and slightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You can use other vegetables and other cheeses, e.g. farmer cheese instead of ricotta, gouda instead of parmesan. And you could throw in additional herbs.

JGSGW Luncheon: That potluck was the annual luncheon for the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington. The quajado went over well and I didn’t have any leftovers to bring home. I suspect that was, in part, because it was more original than, say, yet another kugel (there were three if I recall correctly). I had some interesting discussions about traveling in Eastern Europe. And I refrained from pointing out that Austria is really Central Europe.

The actual program had to do with things you can find in newspapers and the speaker had some interesting examples, e.g. several items from a small town newspaper that all mentioned the street that members of a prominent family lived on. There was also a lot of information about good sources for newspaper research, starting with the Library of Congress.

Washington Folk Festival: After the luncheon I raced across Maryland in the pouring rain to get to Glen Echo Park for the folk festival. The weather was truly atrocious and River Road was pretty close to living up to its name. Still, I made it there. My set wasn’t until 5 p.m., so I had time to listen to some other people’s stories beforehand. As for my set, I told a brief Herschele Ostropole story, followed by Mendel and the Enchanted Goat, and a Nasruddin story. I could probably have squeezed in one more story, but my watch was fast so I thought I had just one minute instead of about five.

The rain had let up (though not actually stopped) by the time I left. So it wasn’t bad driving home. I had time for grocery shopping and then ate supper before pretty much collapsing.

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04 June 2018 @ 01:24 pm
I have a lot of things to write about (ranging from theatre-going to puzzle-solving to a new-to-me recipe to storytelling), but I am having a day of many meetings. At the very least, I can post the latest set of snack reviews:

Original Fruity Flapjack: These are soft oat granola bars with dried fruit (dates, raisins, apricots, and currants) and seeds (sunflower and pumpkin). They have 230 calories. They’re quite tasty, with a strong flavor of golden syrup. I like the texture and flavor and appreciate that these are quite filling. Flapjacks are one of the best things about Graze and this is no exception.

Jelly Doughnut: This is a mixture of vanilla cookie drops, raspberry-infused raisins, raspberry fruit strings, and almond slivers. It has 120 calories. This is a delicious sweet snack, with lots of fruit flavor. It tastes surprisingly like a jelly donut.

Snickerdoodle Dip: This is a snickerdoodle cookie dip with cinnamon pretzels to dip into it. It has 150 calories. It has good cinnamon flavor and a nice creamy texture. A good sweet snack.

Twist of Black Pepper Popping Corn: This is 130 calories worth of microwave popcorn with black pepper seasoning. It pops up quickly, with few orphans. The black pepper is a nice addition.

Caramel Apple: This consists of dried apple slices with a caramel dippling sauce. It has 80 calories. This is thoroughly delicious. There is a generous portion of the caramel, which goes perfectly with the soft, chewy apples. I could probably eat a gallon of this caramel sauce, so I am grateful for the built-in portion control. Yum.

Jalapeno Cheese Taco: This is a mixture of cheese-flavored cashews, jalapeno chickpeas, and chili broad beans. It has 140 calories. It is only mildly spicy, but still flavorful, albeit not especially taco-like. Between the taste and the crunch, it is a pretty good savory snack.

Cranberry & Hazelnut Toasts with a Rich Cocoa Dip (new): These are twice-baked toasts with cranberries, roasted hazelnuts, and black quinoa, paired with a cocoa sauce to dip them in. They have 130 calories. I liked the mixture of crunch from the toasts and sweetness from the cocoa dip, but the dip overwhelmed the flavor of the cranberries. It would also be helpful to have a couple more of the toasts, but I just ate the rest of the dip with a finger.

Maple Oat Squares with Superfood Maca (new): These are rolled oat squares with maple syrup and maca, which is apparently an Andean root vegetable. They have 200 calories. This was tasty, but the texture is drier than Graze flapjacks, and I found it less satisfying.

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31 May 2018 @ 01:11 pm
The theme for Week 22 (May 28-June 3) is So Far Away. This theme, frankly, didn’t do much for me. I’m used to the idea that my family moved around, not always voluntarily. For example, Jews were expelled from Kaunas Guberniya in Lithuania during World War I. So my grandmother’s brother, Nachum Fainstein, was born in Slutsk, near Minsk. The family returned to Lithuania after the war. Nachum survived the Kaunas ghetto and Dachau and DP camps in Italy and eventually went to Israel.

Lots of my relatives ended up in Israel, the U.S., South Africa, and various parts of Latin America (Cuba, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico). Frankly, people went where they could. I feel lucky not to have experienced exile. Though, with the way the current administration is handling things…

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29 May 2018 @ 03:16 pm
Celebrity Death Watch: Clint Walker was an actor, best known for his role in the TV series Cheyenne. Dovey Johnson Roundtree was a civil rights activist. Allyn Ann McLerie was an actress whose roles included Amy in Where’s Charley? (as in the song "Once in Love with Amy.") Richard Peck wrote children’s books. Ted Dabney cofounded Atari. Gardner Dozois was a science fiction writer and editor.

Philip Roth was a highly overrated writer. Portnoy’s Complaint is one of those books I finished only to see if it improved. It didn’t. His attitudes towards Judaism and towards women were simply obnoxious.

Alan Bean was the fourth person to walk on the moon. He had a later career as a painter, apparently incorporating moon dust from his patches into some of his art. There are now only four moonwalkers still alive – Buzz Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, and Harrison Schmitt.

New England Trip: I flew up to PVD on Saturday morning. I always get a minor kick out of taking advantage of Star Alliance lounge access (thanks to my United Gold status) at IAD when I’m taking a short flight. Especially when it’s a flight on a CRJ, the most uncomfortable planes around. In this case, I had a nice breakfast at the Turkish Air lounge – yogurt, berries, and simit (the Turkish equivalent of sesame bagels, but better because the ratio of sesame seeds to crusty bread is higher) plus surprisingly drinkable coffee.

I rented a car and drove to Connecticut. I had planned to walk around Mystic, but it was very hot and there were big crowds for the holiday weekend, so I didn’t spend long there. Then I drove up to Mohegan Sun, which provided a quick lunch, people watching, and some gambling. It is remarkably glitzy. I was tired so drove on to my hotel (the Hampton Inn in Norwich) in the late afternoon. I took a nap and read for a while, before ordering in what proved to be mediocre Chinese food for supper. Overall, it was an unexciting day, but the next day was the real reason for the trip.

In the morning, I drove to northern Providence to pick up my friend, Ron, at the bus station. We then headed to Pawtucket, hoping to find somewhere to kill time before the PawSox game we were going to. Fortunately, there turned out to be a diner right by McCoy Stadium, where we had a reasonably cheap brunch. Then we headed to the stadium, which has something truly miraculous – free parking! We hung out for a while until the gates opened. That gave us time to notice cute sculptures of children playing ball, as well as a larger statue of Ben Mondor, who bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1977. There is also a mascot statue who needs new pants.

We stopped at the team store for me to buy a hoodie as the fleece I had brought with me had a broken zipper. This was a wise move as the weather was not very baseball suitable – cold and drizzly. Fortunately, the rain stayed light enough that the game could be played. The PawSox defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs 1-0. The most notable aspect of the game was a large number of walks. I should also mention there was a sports bottle give-away, so I got to add to my collection of ballpark gimmes.

McCoy Stadium is old (1942) and is at least somewhat endangered, but I thought there was nothing really wrong with it. It’s not at all glitzy, to be fair, but the seats are okay and the concessions, while unexciting, are pretty much in line with other minor league ballparks. The most unique thing there is the tradition of "fishing" for autographs. The field level seats aren’t really at field level, so people lower buckets to the dugouts on ropes with something to sign, a sharpie to sign it with, and some sort of "bait" (typically candy or gum). There are also lots of banners about team history and famous players, as well as a big display about the longest game ever played – the famous 33 inning game between the PawSox and the Rochester Red Wings.

I should also note that the PawSox follow a lot of Red Sox traditions – including singing "Sweet Caroline" in the moddle of the 8th inning and playing "Dirty Water" at the end of the game when they win. The latter doesn’t really make sense that far away from the Charles. Overall it was a fun afternoon, despite the weather.

I drove Ron to the Providence train station, then headed back to Pawtucket to the Hampton Inn there for the night. I read for a while, before walking over to an Irish pub right next to the hotel for supper. The food wasn’t great, but the Narragansett IPA was good.

I flew back Monday morning. I didn’t get nearly as much done Monday afternoon as I’d hoped to, though I did accomplish fairly major grocery shopping and fairly major napping.

Minor League Ballparks: I haven’t officially decided that I should go to a game at every minor league ballpark (as I did with the majors) but I am obsessive enough to sort of have it in mind. So, for the record, here are the ones I have been to (in chronological order):

Salt Lake Bees – Pacific Coast League (AAA) affiliate of the Anaheim (not L.A. damnit) Angels. Apparently, the stadium in Salt Lake City is called Smith’s Ballpark. It’s easy to get to, since there is a light rail stop one block away. I was in SLC for a conference in May 2006 and the game gave me something to do one evening.

Reno Aces – Pacific Coast League (AAA) affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greater Nevada Field is conveniently located downtown, a short walk from the hotel area. I was in Reno mostly to do a volksmarch or three in April 2011, so this was another target of opportunity.

Portland Sea Dogs – Eastern League (AA) affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. I was in Portland, Maine for Sharing the Fire in April 2013 and thought it would be fun to spend Sunday afternoon going to a game at Hadlock Field. What I neglected in this thinking was the fact that Maine is still uninhabitable in April. Even though I wore multiple layers of clothes plus my winter parka, I don’t think I thawed out completely for a solid week.

Potomac Nationals – Carolina League (A-Advanced) affiliate of the Washington Nationals. G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium is in Woodbridge, Virginia. This is maybe 30 miles from my house, but one has to figure an hour, given traffic on I-95. It’s a shorter drive from Lorton, where I had spent the day at a storytelling event in July 2013. The main reason to go there is that it is a lot cheaper than going to a real Nats game.

Lexington Legends – South Atlantic League (A) affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. I was in Lexington for a Flyertalk Do in April 2014 and skipped out on Friday night partying to go to a game at Whitaker Bank Field because I am more obsessive about baseball than about either horses or bourbon.

Vancouver Canadians – Northwest League (A – Short Season) affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Another target of opportunity, as I was in Vancouver for the July 2015 NPL con. I figured I might as well go to a game at Scotiabank Field (aka Nat Bailey Stadium)

Toledo Mud Hens – International League (AAA) affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. Fifth Third Field is downtown, as much as Toledo has a downtown. This was the first time I went somewhere specifically to go to a minor league game, as part of a FlyerTalk Do in September 2015.

Pawtucket Red Sox – International League (AAA) affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. McCoy Field is the oldest of the AAA ballparks and they are talking about either building a new stadium in Pawtucket or moving to Worcester. This was a trip specifically to go to a game there while the ballpark still exists.

Shameless Self-Promotion: I have a few storytelling performances coming up. This coming Sunday (June 3rd), I’ll be telling folktales having to do with Tricksters and Treatsters at the Washington Folk Festival. The festival is at Glen Echo Park in Cabin John, Maryland and is free. My set is at 5 p.m. but there is storytelling and music and dance all day (and all day Saturday, but I have another commitment then.)

On Wednesday June 20th at 7 p.m. I’ll be telling at a Better Said Than Done show at the Lake Anne Coffeehouse in Reston, Virginia. The theme is Top Chef: stories of dining, wining, and winning (or trying to. And on Saturday June 30th at 7 p.m. I’ll be at the Auld Shebeen, again with Better Said Than Done, as part of a show about S’More: stories about camping, food, and wanting more.

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25 May 2018 @ 04:18 pm
I am still ridiculously busy at work. My boss needs to learn how to take a vacation as he is still sending me things to review.

I did get out two nights this week. Tuesday night I went to the Washington National Opera production of Candide, which was part of the Bernstein celebration at the Kennedy Center. They used a new book by John Caird. The change I noticed most was in the second act, with changes in the song "What's the Use?"

Alex Shrader was an appealing Candide and Emily Pogorec was up to the role of Cunegonde. Denyce Graves was very funny as the Old Lady. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening.

The other evening out was for Book Club, which was pretty routine.

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