Filler post, with apologies

Those of you who eagerly await my daily post at 3 a.m. Central — if you exist — were no doubt perplexed that I missed that target overnight. Here it is, around 9 a.m. now, and I am just now posting. My humble apologies.

It’s been an interesting few days, to the point where I was unable to stay ahead of the game and ran out of time to schedule a post to appear early today; it was hit the pillow or the keyboard, and the flesh was weak. But here is a March 31, 2023, blog post, a few hours late but the day is still young.

There is a better explanation than “It’s been an interesting few days,” and probably I will elaborate  sometime, but I’m afraid that will have to wait.

Meanwhile, here is yet another photo of an adorable young pup with whom I will be reunited in a few hours after a very long couple of days. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Change the broadcast, not the game

The best part of baseball always was that it moves at its own pace. All the other major sports were a battle against the clock — who can score the most points in an hour, or 48 minutes, or 90 minutes, or 40 minutes — but not baseball. If you can avoid making the third out, the game can go on forever. 

Not anymore. As the baseball season begins today, a shot clock is in place, or more precisely a pitch clock. The pitcher has 15 seconds to throw a pitch, or 20 seconds if there’s a runner on base. No more mind games between the pitcher and the batter, no more stepping out of the box, no more taking the foot off the rubber, no more throwing to first base once, twice, three times. Nope. Fifteen seconds, buddy, throw the damn ball.

The idea is to speed up the game. They say the average spring training game was 26 minutes shorter with the shot clock.

I’ll tell you how to speed up the game.

For my birthday one year, my brother gave me a set of cassettes that preserved the actual radio broadcast of a 1963 Mets game. Growing up in New Jersey just after the Dodgers and Giants betrayed their New York fans, I was a Mets fan from opening day of 1962, so sending me a ’63 game was great nostalgia.

The top half of the first inning ended, and Lindsey Nelson started reading a commercial for Viceroy cigarettes. It was a 60-second commercial.

By the time Nelson finished reading the ad, the first pitches of the bottom of the first inning had already happened, and he had to catch up. “There’s a strike, and the count is one and one.”

Do you see my point? If you want to speed up the game, don’t pause for three, four, or five minutes between half-innings. Let the game flow: One team leaves the field, the other team takes the field, a process that takes less than 30 seconds, and batter up!

I would bet the actual time it takes to play a baseball game hasn’t changed much over the years, but the frequent stoppages of play for interminable commercial breaks has extended the distance between the first pitch and the last out.

Reduce the number of ads by 26 minutes, and you accomplish the same effect as chaining pitchers to a clock. Change the rules of the broadcast, not the game.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball,” James Earl Jones said as the character Terence Mann in Field of Dreams. “America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game — it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”

It could be again, that is, if everyone would just take a breath, sit back and pay no attention to the clock.

Robot without a clue (opening lines)

Gigo was a robot, to begin with. Let there be no mistake beyond thinking it was anything but. And I mean no disrespect by calling Gigo an “it.” I only mean to clarify that using “he” or “she” or “they” would imply that it was more human than he really was — and look at me, assigning him masculinity at the outset.

Fine. He was a fine robot, as robots go. The tasked assigned to Gigo were completed well, fully and efficiently. His ability to perform was not an issue.

The issue was that he lacked intelligence, be it artificial or otherwise. Or perhaps his intelligence was of a kind that we humans cannot quite comprehend.

“It is at this point that you insert the inciting incident,” Gigo said, looking up from the page and addressing yours truly.

“What?” I said. “Are you talking to me?”

“You’re the only one here,” Gigo said.

Mining me

Somewhere in here is a trove of stories about seekers of truth, and travelers through time and space, and dinosaurs, and sentient robots, and robots without a clue, and puppies whose only superpower is love, and all of it itching to be told. 

Somewhere in here is a determined storyteller who yearns to sit down and bang out tale after tale to delight his inner child and his outer old fogey in tandem.

Somewhere in here is a frustrated artist who wishes he would stop pointing fingers at himself and just get on with the artistry.

Somewhere in here is the world, the universe and everything and ducks lined up in a row.

Ten first lines

I’m still on the Bradbury theme from the other day, “You have to inject yourself with a little fantasy every day in order not to die of reality.” 

So I decided Sunday I would would do a journal exercise of 10 opening lines to potential short stories. Which one should I do first? (The first one will be familiar since I’ve already done two blog posts about it.)

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The dragon settled in our backyard one sunny afternoon just before the end of winter.

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Tom Cole Piper carried his magic guitar slung over his shoulder like a rifle.

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If ever there was a perfect day for a grumpy gnome to cross Susan Winkel’s path, this wasn’t that day.

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When I say I never expected a unicorn to walk into my insurance agent’s office and take a dump, I’m as serious as the day is long — and this was the summer solstice.

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Do mermaids wear mascara? Asking for a friend.

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In the old stories a Martian base always has some generic name like Mars Alpha One. In real life it’s just home.

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The sun rose, gray and alien, and Hal Spenser had no interest in seizing any day.

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“Are you sleepy?”
“Very much so, and all of a sudden …”
“Yeah — I meant to do that,” waving an empty packet.
“What?! Why?! You little …”
“Yes, that’s what I am all right.”

+ + + + +

Of all the seedy bars in all the planets in half the galaxy, she walks into mine.

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I met the creature in the field next to my house, when I was 8 years old. I saved its life, and this is how he returned the favor.

A surprise winter redux

The weather forecasters were fooled by Ma Nature this time. A snowfall that was supposed to bypass us or leave a dusting morphed within a couple of hours into a winter storm warning. There were six inches on the back deck when I took this picture, and that doubled by the time the snow moved on late in the afternoon.

That big willow tree looks over Willow’s Field, which I named after Willow The Best Dog There Was, because it was the first place we took her after we adopted her and because she loved walking and running and chasing her flying disc across the grass.

Willow would have been 14 today, Sunday, March 26. The almost 12 years she was with us changed me. It wasn’t all Willow’s doing, but she was a big part of it. Dogs are strange and wonderful and dare I say magical creatures.