Archive - 2003


December 25th

Baseball on Christmas Eve

Turned on the TV last night and found Tim Russert interviewing four Hall of Fame catchers on CNBC. It was a fun hour of television. Yogi Berra was joined by Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter.

Fisk is one of my favorites. He is a patrician. He played baseball like George Washington rode a horse, with a regal air. They called him the "human rain delay." Every game Fisk caught took on the feeling of a slow processional. In fact, research shows that games caught by Fisk took, on average, twenty minutes longer to complete than the average game.

Spaetzels for Christmas

To the extent that we have family traditions at Christmas, one has been to eat German food. My mother is all German, so we often have ribs, sauerkraut and spaetzels (boiled bits of dough). However, since Mom, Dad and I are in Tucson, they took me out to a German restaurant for our Christmas Eve meal. The spaetzels were delicious.

December 24th

Christmas spirit in Tucson

When I have gone out and about in Tucson, there are, despite the lack of snow and cold, signs that the Christmas season is on. Lots of inflatable snowmen. Lots of lights wrapped around the trunks of palm trees. Lots of Salvation Army bell ringers.

Speaking of which, it was touching as I walked into Target yesterday to see a blind woman digging in her purse to get out a dollar to put in the Salvation Army pail. The pail was already stuffed to overflowing with bills. I sort of felt sheepish putting in my pocket change.

December 23rd


Reader JW in British Columbia wrote to remind me of Bill Lee, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos, who is, she says, her favorite "jockmouth." His most famous announcement was that he mixed marijuana in his pancake batter every morning.

Cell phone etiquette, or lack thereof

Just spent a couple of hours reading at Barnes and Noble. I was lucky to find a chair, as the store was jammed.

Several times while I was reading, I was party to loud cell phone conversations. Personal ones. "Listen, this is what you always say, and I'm getting a little tired of it." That sort of thing. Tough to ignore. There were nice conversations, too. Once I heard over the din of the store a loud, "I love you, too!" You know that person was on a phone.

Keaton and Roberts, cont.

Well, I was wrong on Julia Roberts--she was raised in rural Georgia, not the Midwest. I have been to rural Georgia and found the people there very sweet and gracious, consistent with Roberts' on-screen persona.

Mona Lisa's Smile

What a fun movie! Julia Roberts stars as a rookie art history professor from the west coast who lands a job at snobby Wellesly College in 1953. It is the typical bohemian-teacher-wins-over-uptight-students story line, but it works.

While poking not-so-gentle fun at the 1950s, the movie also presents the best of the 50s: the music. The score is filled with chestnuts from the era, including Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa," but also has some very well done classical choir numbers performed in the college chapel. Music can make a movie.

December 22nd

Tucson's landscape

Those who haven't been to the Arizona desert might imagine it to be barren. It is anything but. Not only are there 2600 varieties of cactus in the area surrounding Tucson, but there are many trees as well. Green Valley is a city south of Tucson, and one might think that an odd name for a city in the desert. However, when one looks over this area from above, it is green, thanks to trees which hang onto their leaves throughout the winter and to the ubiquitous Palo Verde tree, which has a rich green bark which carries on photosynthesis even after the tree loses its leaves.

December 20th

Moss and the media

Randy Moss doesn't talk to reporters. This makes reporters mad. They then write nasty things about Randy Moss. Their chief criticism? That Randy Moss only talks to the media when he wants to, which is seldom. They go on to criticize his play, which is a stretch, since he is the best player in the NFL, but they do so anyway and imply that they wouldn't criticize him so much if he would just answer their questions.

Philosphical implications of astronomy

As I was leaving the planetarium a couple of nights ago, an undergraduate college girl said to her boyfriend, "I don't, like, understand how these guys can study the stars and all that without, like, freakin out philosophically." Her boyfriend grunted. She went on, "I mean like they say 'oh the sun's going to burn out' and 'this star's going to blow up'--I'm like--wait a minute!"

The boyfriend didn't get it. He mumbled something about the sun not burning up for 50 million years, so it really doesn't matter.