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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