Greg Bird is a long home run machine — more on the Yankees to come — and Clint Dempsey had a hat trick. Not a bad weekend for athletes who play for two of my favorite teams.
Today, I found out a story I’d been working on was published on Popularium. Definitely my daily dose of happy. You should check it out.
I know I already included the Sounders, but this stolen road point when the team had been down 2-0 after 80 minutes is too good to skip.
Two parts happy, one big part sad.
Happy: The MLS Cup Champion Sounders take the field today to begin their title defense. It’s regular season MLS time!
Happy: Now that the Sounders won the MLS Cup I can argue that the Supporters’ Shield winner is the real champion of a given season without sounding like a bitter homer.
Sad: I’m away from Seattle as the Sounders season begins. From season tickets to nearly 3000 miles away is a sad trade.
Em and I decided to watch The Trip to Italy tonight, and now I want to travel even more than I normally do. Watching two men drive through the Italian countryside, eating their way from location to location, drinking wine while staring at beautiful scenery and watching beautiful women. It makes me want to rob a bank so Emily and I can take off with no return date. Well, I guess not rob a bank, but whatever the 2015 equivalent of robbing a bank is, since actual bank robbery seems like a high risk, low reward sort of venture these days.
It would be so wonderful to have that sort of adventure. Emily and I did a seven week road trip when we moved to Seattle, and there is something special that happens when a trip goes on for that long, when your brain flips into nomad mode and you’re more ready than normal to take in the remarkable variety that life and culture has to offer. It was even more exaggerated for us, since we were leaving behind the state of our births for something mostly unknown, in a more permanent sense. I think that trip still has echoes in how we live now, how we approach our city and our world, how we thirst for new experiences.
Traveling for extended bouts to do nothing but write would certainly be a pretty great life. The dream, to imagine myself as an expat writer wandering Europe like I was one of the many real life characters from A Moveable Feast. If only. Instead, I’ll just have to recreate it at home as best I can, without the exotic locales, the insane friends (can’t say I’m disappointed about that one), or the talent. Wah-wah.
I suppose all I can do is work to make those travel dreams come true, one shiny nickel at a time.
The Roots just came to Seattle, playing two nights at The Showbox at the Market. Fortunately for me, Emily got me tickets for Christmas. It was an amazing three hour show. The encore alone included a 30something minute long medley that featured Roots songs and covers (from Guns & Roses to Led Zeppelin), and during which the band expended more energy than any other band I’ve seen does in their entire set. Here are three impressions I came away with after the show. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but I imagine no one really wants to read 3000 words of my thoughts about the show.
1. ?uestlove is a genius.
I love The Roots. I think that even with, or perhaps because of, all their popularity as Fallon’s band, they are a wildly under-appreciated and underrated band. During their concerts, they take the whole thing to a new level.
The engine/heart/curator/director/producer/brain behind it all is ?uestlove. He is a remarkable bandleader, which is why they are such a skilled and contagiously fun live act. Yet, his direction is always subtle. He is constantly creating contexts for other people to shine. He never leads the band by shouting or making big gestures to make sure everyone knows who is in charge, but simply has a second microphone at his kit that only feeds to the rest of the band and to the folks controlling the levels. Through this he refines each moment of the performance, keeping the band on point, and directing the sound board based on the main feed he gets through his headphones.
It’s hard to find anything more fun than a Roots show, and ?uestlove is the primary reason for that.
2. The Roots Are the Happiest Band on Earth Continue Reading →
I’ve been in the mood to do this again. I’d like to do it as consistently as I used to, but needs must and whatnot. Maybe my schedule will allow it, maybe it won’t.
For my first post back in a while I decided to share five things I’ve been enjoying, along with five things I still really want to try soon.
Five Things I’ve Been Enjoying
1. Kurt Vonnegut.
Loving a writer like Vonnegut is pretty obvious, especially for someone with my particular sensibility. Still, before this year I had only read Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. As some of you know, this year my goal was to read every Vonnegut novel. I’m through six, and he is everything I’d hoped he would be and more.
I expected the gallows humor, the irony, the cleverness, and the imagination that he is known for. What I didn’t expect was the beautiful tenderness in his writing. Sure, the writing is darkly hilarious and honestly realistic about the world, but for all Vonnegut’s ability to see humans for the absurd beings we really are, he also seemed to love us in spite of it all.
Vonnegut’s work is hopeful, but in an eyes-wide-open way that results in the only hope that’s worth a damn.
The contemporary western series based on characters created by Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite things of late. I’ve been careful not to start episodes most days because it too often results in binge watching multiple episodes in a row.
I only just finished the second season and it was outstanding. What could easily be a purely formulaic affair is elevated by great camerawork, satisfying and thrilling season-long story arcs, phenomenal acting by recurring players, and two of my very favorite characters on television in Raylan Givens [Timothy Olyphant] and Boyd Crowder [Walton Goggins]. Like Eastwood’s various protagonists, these characters give us those moments of delightful badassery, complete with smart-ass one-liners and love/hate banter.
3. Silicon Valley
I started watching because it was created by Mike Judge and Kumail Nanjiani is in it. I kept watching it because of how great it is.
Relevant, original, hilarious, and smart. This and True Detective are the best examples of why HBO is still in the company of Netflix, et. al. as the future of serial storytelling.
Also, the eureka moment in the series finale is probably my favorite ever, but I won’t explain why and spoil anything.
4. Seattle Sounders
The trick with sports is that your team is going to have a season that ends in defeat significantly more often than in victory. Being a sports fan, even a relatively realistic and rational sports fan like myself, is often a painful affair.
Thus, the Sounders could break my heart sooner rather than later.
Right now, though, it sure is fun to be a Sounders fan! In the 15 games before the break they are literally running away with the entire league. Hopefully after the World Cup break the boys in Rave Green will get right back to providing a non-stop highlight reel.
5. Last Week Tonight
The first two or three episodes were good. Certainly good enough to keep me coming back. Yet, as the show hit its stride it became downright brilliant. The writing is improving every week, and Oliver continues to get his legs doing a job he’s done before but never in this context.
At this rate, Last Week Tonight, a show that in its initial episode looked to be merely clever and funny, will become one of the more important weekly events on television. John Oliver’s rants smack of a special kind of truth-telling this world needs a shit-ton more of.
Five Things I Hope to Enjoy Soon
1. Child of Light
A video game that follows a young girl who finds herself unable to awaken in her real world, but is instead trapped in a dark world where the sun, moon and stars have been stolen by the Queen of the Night.
From what I’ve read, which isn’t much because I don’t want everything spoiled for me, the game uses the fairy tale structure to engage deeper themes of sadness, isolation, connection, and hope. So, basically, the description you’d give if you were trying to catch me hook, line, and sinker.
2. The Edge of Tomorrow
So far this weekend, people aren’t going to see this. However, I hope that before the week is out I can be one of the few who have bought a ticket. The premise looks exciting and fresh, Tom Cruise continues to make entertaining movies even if he is apparently a psycho IRL, and critical reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
Oh yeah, and Emily Blunt.
I am still baffled that one of the storytellers I cherish the most for his insight, tenderness, and honesty helped create Jackass. Oh, Spike Jonze, you beautiful enigma.
It’s good to see Favs writing something smaller again. Did I mention some friends and I used to watch Swingers once a week in freshman and sophomore years of college? Occasionally we would take breaks and watch Made once a week instead.
Plus, the cast looks fantastic. I really wish there were more Bobby Cannavale performances in the world.
5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Technically, I’ve already started enjoying this because I’m 50 pages in. I hope to have time to enjoy the other 650something pages later this week, because so far it seems to be exactly the kind of book I want to be reading right now.
Lynch’s first novel, and the first book in the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series (which is up to three books thus far), is apparently a well-written crime caper in a beautifully realized fantasy setting. So far, I agree with the consensus assessment that the book is awesome. I can’t wait to get back to it!
Already, some of you lovely folks have offered to help out with some of the things on my list. I will most definitely be taking you up on those offers, many times over.
In that spirit, one of the primary places I could use some buddies is in the theater-going habit. Perhaps it seems silly to create a goal pertaining to how many movies I will go see in the theater, but I like it. Going to the movies the old-fashioned way is something that easily slips through the cracks, something that I seem to let slide and won’t do for months at a time. However, I also know that when I finally get there, it is good for my soul.
It was first at movie theaters as a kid where I fell in love with movies to begin with. There is a magic in sitting in community (especially when one is fortunate enough to be graced with a great co-audience), as the lights go down and the previews roll that cannot be recreated in the living room, no matter how great the home entertainment system. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Little Mermaid, Jurassic Park, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights are among my early theater memories, adding extra power to the movie-watching experience. As far as audiences go, I know there are films I enjoyed more because of how great the folks in the theater with me were. It’s pretty great when you find yourself watching a movie with a few hundred other people who get the same subtle jokes and love the same moments. Wonderful.
Anyway, it’s a lot harder to get myself to the theater when I have to do it alone. I’m way behind the needed pace to see the 36 movies I aim to see. I’m not against going to the movies alone, but it is far easier to get my ass to the theater if I have partners in crime.
So, are there able-minded folks out there willing to join me in some movie joy?
Here are ten movies coming up in April and May that I want to catch in the theater (not including films that came out before this weekend):
- Upstream Color
- To The Wonder
- Iron Man 3
- The Great Gatsby
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Before Midnight
I suppose April is a bit late to start sharing the stuff I want to do in 2013. Better late than never? Every year I make a list of stuff I want to try to do over the course of the year, that way I can look at it from time to time to offer me some motivation to get cracking on my goals as the months pass by.
Some are purely story based, i.e. movie or book related. Some are more concrete and harder to accomplish. They aren’t vague resolutions, like “Get In Shape!” Instead, they are specific, like “Run a 10k” and “Run a 24 Minute 5k.”
I’ve decided to share the list with you, because that will add a bit of added impetus to get this stuff done. Some are personal, but whatever, here’s to throwing caution to the wind! I think I’ll offer more specific updates eventually, and go a bit deeper into a few, but for now, here is the list so far:
- Read 52 Books [As of this writing, I’ve read 14.]
- Finish My Integrative Project
- Complete My MDiv
- Watch 250 Movies [I’m behind on this one, 62 as of this writing.]
- Find a Way to Afford Therapy Again
- Start Blogging Consistently Again [Check!]
- Finish ‘Trigger Fiction’
- Run a 24 Minute 5K
- Run a 10K [Did this for the first time last week.]
- Try to Publish Something
- Finish Writing a Novel
- Organize The Basement [It was in rough shape, but I’ve made really great progress so far!]
- Come Up with a Legit Halloween Costume, Also, Attend or Host a Big Halloween Party
- See 36 Movies in the Theater
- Actively Work to Get Medicated [In process, but there’s definitely been an improvement!]
- Attempt Karaoke
- Get Weight Back Into the 160’s
- Buy a New Suit
- Master Five Cocktails, Along With Their Common Variations
- Run An Officially Timed 5K
- Work Full-Time [Conventionally or Unconventionally]
- Complete Two+ DIY Projects
- Host Six Parties and Six Dinners
- Leave the Continent [We’re going to Scotland and England with Em’s family in July.]
- Finish Patronizing All Downtown Ballard Restaurants
There are a few things I want to add, things related to concerts and whatnot, but for now, there is the 2013 To Do List. I also made one for my 30’s for my birthday last year, so I’ll share that one soon, too.
I’m Sounders ’til I die
I’m Sounders ’til I die
I know I am, I’m sure I am
I’m Sounders ’til I die
My relationship with sports over the last few years is a complicated one. I still love so much about sports, but there are just some things that irk me to the point that at times I want to throw in the towel altogether. It’s not the things that normally seem to bother people about sports, where people get mad about inflated contracts and lopsided spending. Yet, that doesn’t really bother me, something I’d be happy to explain in another post or conversation. What does bother me is the way so many sports fans act as sports fans (my past self included). The behaviors I’m referring to include:
- The asinine habit in which so many sports fans lump their own ego together with their favorite sports team’s performance. Sara roots for Team A, Tommy roots for Team B, and when Team B wins, somehow in Tommy’s mind that makes him superior to Sara. He isn’t on the team, he didn’t play a single minute of professional sports, and yet, somehow, he feels better about himself as a human being when his team wins, and vice versa.
- Fans often attach a moral element to their fandom. That sentence is so fucking ridiculous it seems unreal when I type it, but it is true. People don’t claim to root against the Yankees or the Lakers or the Cowboys because they just prefer other teams, but because those teams are ‘evil.’ Obviously, this is the real world, there are good guys and douche-bags on every single team. Yet, based purely on the uniform, fans think they can accurately determine the moral standing of a given player. Even if the same player switches teams, they experience a drastic metaphysical change when they switch jerseys. Usually people point to things like the Yankees payroll and use that as a reason to claim moral standing… but unless they would abandon their own team if it started spending tons of money, then it isn’t a moral issue at all. It’s just that they are pissed that their team is getting outspent. That’s fair, they should be frustrated, but it isn’t doesn’t make Red Sox or Dodgers or Angels bad human beings. I’ve never understood it. As a Yankees fan my entire life, I always liked guys like Big Papi and Pedro Martinez, and always disliked guys like Roger Clemens, even on the Yankees. No amount of jersey changing is going to convince me that Kevin Youkilis is a good guy. I have a dream, that one day people won’t be judged by the color of their jerseys, but by the content of their character.
Anyway, just a brief primer to explain why my sports fandom is conflicted over the last few years.
Yet, for all the negative bullshit, their is something potentially beautiful about sports. When it is celebrated without us attaching our self-worth to it, it can be a raucous cause for joy and a worthy reason to lament if we can find healthy ways to live and breathe with the teams we love. Sports can be art, but there isn’t space for me to write more about that in this post.
The teams I love the most all have moments attached to them, when I can remember being a part of a community of people celebrating, when I remember how special a moment was, and my heart was won over and I never took it back. I remember sitting on the arm of my mom’s couch hoping the Bills would miss a field goal, and celebrating with all my eight-year-old strength as they did, and the Giants won the first championship of any of my favorite teams within my lifetime. I remember what it meant to the people of New York when the 1994 Rangers won the Stanley Cup, and I also remember watching Mark Messier cry on the ice during a video montage of his time in NY when he returned as a visiting player. I remember when John Starks dunked on Michael Jordan and Horace Grant with the same dunk. I remember watching Derek Jeter hit his first homerun. I remember standing in the living room of the Camp Taconic cook to see the Yankees return from two games down to win the 1996 World Series.I remember my first playoff game at Yankee Stadium, and how electric the atmosphere was, especially when retired Don Mattingly threw out the first pitch. I remember how important the 2001 World Series was to New York City, even though the Yankees lost in the end, those thrilling endings in Yankee Stadium picked a city up off the mat and gave them a reason to cheer again.
Those are just a small sampling of moments that made me fall in love with teams. And now that Seattle is my home, another team has been winning my heart over the last few seasons with moments just like the ones I just mentioned. I’ve gotten to be a part of a passionate, loving group of fans who know their team well and celebrate it with vigor, which is something that most fan-bases can’t claim.
The first game I saw was with my friend Brian, and it was clear immediately that the experience of seeing a Sounders game in Seattle is a special sports experience (and those who know me at all know that I’ve seen a lot of sporting events in a lot of different cities). The fans are knowledgable, passionate, and make for a really great environment for taking in a game.
Here is a small sampling of what the experience is like, this is a portion of how fans celebrate the start of every game:
The feeling of being at Century Link Field for Sounders game adds weight to every moment (also, it doesn’t hurt that I get to go to the games with some of the people I love the most in this world). This extra gravity is good, because I have been able to be a part of some Sounders moments that brought up that special sort of feeling that sports can create, the ones that bring a tear to the eye and widen one’s smile. There have been many moments, but I picked my three favorites, the ones that felt the most special. These moments are the reason I’ve graduated over the last few years from casual but interested fan to ardent supporter, with super-fandom rapidly approaching. Here are my favorite Sounders moments so far:
1. Kasey Keller’s final games with the team
Kasey Keller’s last year with the Sounders just happened to coincide with the first year that I watched with any consistency (I know, I’m a new fan, don’t judge). A supremely likable player, he is a local boy who went on to make a name for himself as the most successful American-born goal-keeper in the history of the sport. Then, he came home to play for the Sounders upon their transition to the MLS. We were at the Clink (Century Link Field) for his final regular season game, and his final home game in the playoffs. It was loud, and emotional, and even though there was no way I could have the personal investment that those fans around me had, the atmosphere was infectious. It was easy to get caught up in the energy.
There was also this moment, in Keller’s final home game, that is the stuff that legends are made of. When people tell their kids about Kasey Keller, they will mention this moment.
2. Steve Zakuani’s Return
Steve Zakuani was a rising star, one of those ‘can’t miss’ talents that everyone was excited to watch. Then, a brutal slide tackle by Colorado Rapids’ Brian Mullan broke Zakuani’s tibia and fibula. The tackle was brutal enough that Mullan was banned for 10 games, which is nearly 1/3 of the regular season in the MLS.
It was an injury that had the potential to end his career, and he missed the next 15 months. But, he worked hard, beat the odds, and he made it back to the pitch for the Sounders. The significance of the moment wasn’t lost on the Sounders faithful. To be there at Century Link for that game will always be one of my all-time favorite sports memories.
Watch the first two minutes of this video to see that moment.
3. The introduction of Obafemi Martins
You would think that #3 would be the Sounders’ first ever playoff win, but it isn’t. That was a wonderful moment, but it wasn’t a time that solidified my sense of connection to the team. This last game was.
Obafemi Martins is a big signing, the sort that doesn’t normally happen for teams in the MLS. For more commentary on why the signing is huge, you should read this. It’s a big deal that the Sounders were able to land him, and it’s an even bigger deal that Oba wanted to come to the Sounders over the other possible destinations. Seattle is quickly becoming a legitimate destination in the international soccer landscape, and the ramifications of that could impact Sounders fans and the rest of the MLS quite a bit over the next few years.
In case there was any question as to how excited Martins was to join the Sounders, here is your proof: Martins finished the paperwork he needed for a work visa and whatnot on Friday, then flew from Spain to Seattle to be present for the game on Saturday with no real expectation of starting with a team he’d never practiced with, only to get back on a plane and fly all the way to Nigeria to join his native country’s World Cup team.
On the way to the match on Saturday, we buzzed about it in the car. He would be suited up, he would be eligible, and while we knew he wouldn’t start, a substitution later in the game would provide the fans the opportunity to properly welcome Martins to Seattle, to assure him he made a good choice in joining the Sounders. The anticipation was palpable, and his appearance electrified the fan base, with his potential on the field being quickly evident.
As they tend to do, NBC was pretty bad at capturing the feeling of the moment, so this video is the best we’ve got.