Addison at the Bat

The scene was slightly sullen for the Cheesetown Six that day.
Just half the roster found the time to lace ’em up and play.
For May was full of rainout dates, and June was soggy, too,
But after this rescheduled game, their season would be through.

The score? It was ignored in this, the littlest of the leagues.
Wins and runs meant nothing to the boys in blue fatigues.
Just three outs separated these delinquents from their summers.
They’d find new noncommittal games, march to beats of different drummers.

But one young man in royal blue had outcomes on his mind.
This last at-bat would bring rewards of the most glorious kind.
He competed not for trophies gold, he played not for a ring.
He swung not for the fences, no; he yearned for Burger King.

The deal he’d struck that morning with the Devil . . . well, his dad,
Required he get a hit that day, and the boy already had.
That knock was on the infield, though, and the contract specified
His hit must reach the outfield to warrant burgers broiled (not fried).

But after two trips to the plate, young Addison was miffed.
Against one kid and then a coach, the fledgling slugger whiffed.
So if he failed in his last chance to torch the outfield grass,
His royal BK dining opportunity would pass.

“You can do it!” yelled the baseball moms to Addison, “You can!”
And to acknowledge he’d heard their cries, he gestured with his hand.
He strolled with nonchalance to his place beside the dish.
His carefree stance belying the stark fierceness of his wish.

He gripped the bat with fingers strong as tree roots just the same,
But he tapped the plate politely (when pounding is his claim to fame).
He barely glanced as toward the catcher’s mitt the baseball soared.
And when the umpire yelled, “Strike one!” mighty Addison looked bored.

“That was low!” his father may have shouted with shock both loud and vehement.
And Addison, mighty Addison, may have nodded in agreement.
But the protest didn’t faze him. He just turned with cool resolve.
He knew that after four balls sailed, pitching duties would revolve.

There are no walks in this league, see. Wildness has no reproach.
The eight year olds, after hurling four strays, give way to the coach.
So despite his father’s urging, “Swing if it looks good to you!”
Addison just struck a patient pose as the umpire called, “Strike two!”

Reality took over. Burger King hung in the balance.
Addison assumed a piercing glare worthy of the late Jack Palance.
No tapping this time: POUND, POUND, POUND, his bat attacked the plate.
He’d seize the moment now and ditch his customary wait.

“You can hit this kid, I know it!” yelled the deal-making dad.
The pitch zipped down the middle. Our hero swung with all he had.
His bat ripped through the atmosphere; it could have leveled trees.
The fielders’ hats flew off their heads from the manufactured breeze.

A roar, a gasp, a popping glove, then dust and hopes did fall.
The crowd sat shocked that his ferocious swing had missed the ball.
But just a fraction of a second after sullen silence fell,
The quiet shock was shattered by a most triumphant yell.

“THAT,” his father shouted, “WAS A SWING WORTH BURGER KING!”
And his son’s soul went soaring like an eagle on the wing.
Though that dad wished his son had hit the ball, he’d never tell.
For Addison didn’t just strike out . . . he struck out really well.

Mighty Addison, King of Burgers
Mighty Addison struck out. And was rewarded with Burger King.

A Little Rain

The view out every window. Every day. All day long.

Who was the poet who wrote, “Into every life a little rain must fall,” was it Coleridge?* No matter. He was guilty of understatement. Sometimes every life gets deluged.

I’m not writing about my own life, at least not now. But there is a depressingly long list of friends of mine who wouldn’t be considered remotely vain for thinking this song post was about them. And that sucks.

The 10,000 Maniacs song “Like the Weather” comes to mind, and not in the random way tunes usually worm their way into my consciousness. Here in Chicagoland, the rain just won’t stop. On our Cubs blog, Tim suggested tricking Kosuke “April is my only good month” Fukudome into thinking April lasted for 180 days. Somehow the weather deemed that a fantastic idea.

This rain just won’t stop falling, and I don’t really understand why.

And I get a shiver in my bones just thinking about what some people I love have been going through lately. Some of it’s annoying like a rained out picnic. Some of it’s depressing like three days without sunshine. And then there are lives I’ve seen ravaged by events as unforgiving and savage as tornados.

It’s not a contest. I don’t care to compare, say, the loss of a child to the loss of a friend or to the loss of a job, an opportunity, or just hope in general. All I know is that far too many people are getting drenched by the far too many storms.

I don’t want to complain. Well, yeah, I do. But I know everybody has a lot to be thankful for. (Like sentences that begin with conjunctions and end with prepositions. And fragments.) Still, I wouldn’t say no to a little sunshine. A June day that doesn’t feel like April 85. A break for my friends. Maybe that is too much to ask.

But right now I’m on my knees. Asking. For just a few sunshiny days.

*These are the things I ask when I’m posting from my phone and don’t feel like rifling through the interplumbing for answers.

Today’s video playlist:

The Muppets Official Trailer

Electric Mayhem Tour Bus
Electric Mayhem Tour Bus
They're getting the band back together.

The Great Muppet Caper was, I believe, the first movie I ever saw in the theater without parental guidance. So I’m pretty excited about the new Muppet movie hitting theaters whenever this is supposed to be hitting theaters but I’m too lazy to look up even though it’s probably stated in the very trailer I am posting and yes I am quite proud of this run-on sentence wouldn’t you be?

Father’s Day Fizzle

Of all the “it’s not really a holiday because nobody really does anything on Sunday anyway” holidays, Father’s Day is easily my least favorite. Always has been.

First of all, fathers are not, in general, an underappreciated group. We’re just not. Fathers tend to get enthusiastic praise for doing anything family related. A mother can spend all day working on a million projects for her family without so much as a thank you; a father need only walk in the door to get greeted with cheers and hugs. That’s not always how it works, but it’s a generalization I don’t mind making.

Father’s Day also has a history (perhaps in general, but also from my personal perspective) of being the day where the gifts kind of fizzle. I’m speaking mostly from the gifts my siblings and I would give to my dad. I don’t remember too many great ones. I do remember giving him a magnifying glass once. Ties. Mugs. A mug tree. The presents my dad liked best were the ones he got for himself . . . in April.

I’m not going to complain about Father’s Day presents I’ve received, because, as I said, it’s not like I think the occasion calls for outrageous recognition. If I get nothing but “it’s the thought that counts” presents, I’m spoiled.

But here’s my real issue with Father’s Day: if you grow up going to church, you hear all about how fathers are supposed to give children an image of who God is. Well, they might as well call this holiday Not Even Close Day, because the godliest man in the world is never going to be godlike. And there are a lot of great dads out there (my dad being one of them), but they’re all full of weaknesses.

And nobody knows a father’s weaknesses like his kid. I mean, that’s a kid’s job, to learn his parents’ weaknesses. That’s how they learn to push our buttons. Love us as they may, kids learn how to manipulate our weaknesses from birth. I’m not kidding. That’s the first lesson any kid completes in life—before learning how to eat, learning how to poop, or learning how to sleep, newborn babies learn how to get their parents to take care of business. They are natural born button pushers.

All that to say, kids know their parents’ weaknesses. So this notion that a father is supposed to represent a child’s image of who God is . . . it’s hopeless. We do what we can. We teach love. We teach strength. We teach some concept of right, wrong, discipline, and grace. But mostly we teach kids that we’re all kind of kidding ourselves. And we teach them to be okay with that.

We cheer for them when they have a semi-okay game of baseball, and they cheer for us when we show up in time for dinner. We give them cheap trophies. They give us homemade ties. We all pretend to be thrilled with it all. We know we haven’t done much worthy of celebrating. But it’s nice to be recognized for more or less trying our best.

Who knows?

There might be a point to this post, who knows?

There might be an answer coming to the last trivia question. Who knows?

The Cubs might win one against the Yankees. Who knows?

Someone may have heard that tree fall in the forest.

The light at the end of the tunnel just might be you.

It might be. It could be. Who knows?

Cannonballs may have already been forever banned.

We may have already found the rainbow connection.

Green Lantern might not be as bad as the critics say it is.

There’s probably a reason. Who knows?

Why did I forget to press ‘publish’?

Is this long enough?

Does it make any sense?

Does anything make any sense?

Who knows?

Too Much Is Just Enough

Tonight I made too much popcorn. Well, I made more than what I usually make. What I usually make is one bag of microwave popcorn, which is as exact and consistent an amount as a maker of popcorn could ever expect. But a month or two ago, Heather bought a bag of popcorn. Not microwave popcorn, a bag of popcorn kernels. The kind you can pop in an air popper or, in our case on the stove. Old school. With old school inconsistencies.

So tonight I made too much. But after eating too much, I realized I was plenty happy to have eaten the amount that I did. The ridiculous amount that I ate, yes. It was just fine.

And that got me to thinking: what are the foods that I just can’t get enough of. It’s not everything I find appetizing. Pizza? Deep dish pizza? You’ve gotta put the brakes on after two pizzas, four at the max. Otherwise you’re looking at an unforgiving blockage, either arterial or intestinal. Too many Sweet Tarts will brand a canker sore into your tongue. But these foods? I eat them until they run out.

Salty. Tasty. Perfectly contoured to the shape of the tongue. I honestly have no idea why the canisters come with a resealable plastic lid because there’s no reason to stop eating them.

Ice cream
There’s just never enough ice cream. The only reason to put down the spoon is for rationing purposes. Running out of ice cream is like running out of oxygen. You just don’t let that happen.

It’s the perfect fruit. None of the acidity to turn your mouth into a  burn victim. Subtle, satisfying taste. Easy on the teeth, loaded with nutrients. Only problem is that it doesn’t last forever.

Coca-Cola Classic is corrosive. It is sugary. It is as close to instant fat as you can find. But it’s so delicious. It burns in all the right ways. I could drink it all day. I would die pretty quick, but I could do it.

Everyone who ever said, “I ate too many brownies,” was lying. Just stop.

Chocolate chip. Snickerdoodle. Girl Scout. Why on earth do any of these ever go uneaten?

The problem with pie is that there’s never enough. You’re lucky if you can ever find two slices you don’t have to share. Pie-eating contests are the obvious exception, but I’ve never been so excepted.

Any Breakfast Food
Within reason, here. Not corn-beefed hash or beef-chip gravy or Eggs Benedict. I don’t want any of that stuff for breakfast. Cinnamon rolls, pancakes, French toast, omelets, bacon. That stuff. Breakfast served all day? Yeah. I could deal with that.

I could go on. That’s kind of the point. But I should probably stop. If I left out anything, please let me know. I’ve got a lot of eating to do.

Happy. Tuesday.

I’ve said it before. I hate Tuesdays. Tuesdays are the worst day of the week. If the days of the week were made into a movie, here’s who would play them.

Bill Murray is: Monday
Bill Murray, like Monday, is dry. Kind of ridiculous. So irritable it's funny.
Russell Crowe is Wednesday
Serious. Versatile. Rogue. Wednesday means business at work, but, as a commemoration of halfway doneness, it's still wild at heart. Wednesday is Russell Crowe.
Sarah Jessica Parker is Thursday
Thursday is fun but productive. There's something special about it you can't quite put your finger on. Thursday rarely disappoints. It's not outrageously awesome. It's not perfect. But you can't help loving it. It's Sarah Jessica Parker.

Pauly Shore is Friday
Friday is a no-brainer. Just like Pauly Shore.
Matthew McConaughey is Saturday
Saturday could be hard working, it's probably laid back anyway. It might go out for cocktails, it might just hang out, and the shirt is probably not staying on for long. Saturday is so Matthew McConaughey it's not even funny.
Ellen DeGeneres is Sunday
Sunday is thoughtful and fun. It's picnics and spontaneous dancing. It can't show up without us religious folks saying something about it. It's hanging out with friends yet for some reason insisting on wearing a suit. Sunday is Ellen DeGeneres.
Martin Short is Tuesday.
Tuesday is loud, irrepressible, obnoxious, and it thinks it's so funny. Every now and then it is, but mostly you just wish it would go away. Sorry, Martin Short. It's nothing personal. But you're perfect for this role.

Oh, and I’m still waiting for an answer to last Friday’s question.

Random Thoughts: UPDATED (again)

Not everything worth saying belongs in a paragraph.

Cold, rainy days in June are less crappy than they seem.

When someone asks you what you want on your pizza, the only wrong answer is, “Whatever.”

The only thing anyone named Newt should be president of is Chess Club.

Grown Paul Reubens dressed up as Pee-Wee Herman: funny. Kinda old Paul Reubens dressed up as Pee-Wee Herman: creepy-sad.

The Star Wars prequels happened. Deal with it.

Junk mail is so much nicer than spam.

How much does a gorilla have to weigh before it becomes a topic no one in the room wants to discuss?

Someone invented knock-knock jokes and most likely died by bludgeoning.

I’ll probably add more later, but I’m typing this all on an iPod, which is getting old (the process . . . and the iPod).

See? I told you I’d add more later (now is later, by the way).

The soundtrack to Michael is still a great listen and ridiculously overlooked and underrated.

The Spin Doctors, not so much.

If you were to tug on Superman’s cape, he’d probably give you an autograph or something; I don’t get that axiom.

The law of averages states that the Cubs will probably win again this year (but probably not today).

I love a good dangling participle.

I’ll probably add more later. But I need more coffee more than I need random thoughts.

I decided not to add any more.

I can be pretty indecisive.

The most oft-ignored instructions in all the world: “Fold this flap in first,” on the ice cream carton.

After listening to Prince’s thoughts on the matter hundreds of times, I’m still no closer to knowing what it sounds like when doves cry.

I’m tired.

Friday Playlist – Trivial Again

Another Friday, another playlist, another wish I was more faithful with trivia, and another long-awaited question:

Who was the last person to set foot on the moon?*

And here’s the playlist for those unable to listen:

“Hate it Here,” Wilco
“Every Day I Write the Book,” Elvis Costello
“That’s How I Got to Memphis,” Solomon Burke
“Fast Car,” Tracy Chapman
“I Turn My Camera On,” Spoon