Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trolley Dodgers at PetCo Park

Hanging at the Tin FishWhen a friend comes to town and you haven't seen him in 11 years and it's 4:30 in the afternoon and he grew up in San Diego but hasn't yet seen the downtown ballpark and the dastardly Dodgers are in town, whaddaya do? Go to the Ball Game! So we drive downtown and park in our secret parking garage, grab an idle lawyer from his downtown office (just kidding Sam), consume the beverages of our choice and fish tacos at the Tin Fish, procure tickets (the deal was made on the street corner, but it was not illegal), and gawk at the baseball fans streaming in from the trolley.
PetCo Park
Here's Big Mike's take on the evening:
A good time was had by all!
Especially the Padres.
Of course, our hearts go out to the poor poor Angelenos and their Trolley Dodgers, who failed to dodge the San Diego FREIGHT TRAIN.
Trevor Time
After the Padres built their picket fence (one run in four consecutive innings), closure came in the form of Trevor Time, savored by Padre fans lucky enough to be in the park when it happens!
Next Entry: Happy To Be in North Carolina

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Mystical Transformation; or, Life Begins at Ninety

Memories of My Melancholy Whores
The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.
And so begins our Book Club selection for this month. I must admit, as a product of a more egalitarian society than that described by Gabriel Garci­a Marquez in his novella Memories of My Melancholy Whores, I was a bit put off by this opening sentence. Is this a tale of child abuse couched within the fantasy of literature? Perhaps. However, we are privileged to witness the lyrically orchestrated self-discovery of the narrator ("the Scholar"), a ninety-year-old newspaper columnist. Whatever you think of old age, this story tells us that people of any age have the ability to find love, even those whose previous intimacies are paid for liaisons. Here is a man with no family and whose only friends seem to be women whose love he has bought. He is certainly loveless. He has squandered his life. Somehow, in spite of himself, in his ninety-first year he finds love. The fact that physical love in this new-found relationship remains unconsummated makes his adoration not unlike a religious veneration. It is with religious zeal of his new love that he transforms his life:

The house rose from its ashes and I sailed on my love of Delgadina with an intensity and happiness I had never known in my former life. Thanks to her I confronted my inner self for the first time as my ninetieth year went by. (p. 64-65)
Besides his own transformation, the Scholar offers up pearls of wisdom on aging, such as

. . . you go on seeing yourself as you always were, from the inside, but others observe you from the outside (p. 7)

On the other hand, it is a triumph of life that old people lose their memories of inessential things, though memory does not often fail with regard to things that are of real interest to us. (p. 10)
Although a translation (by Edith Grossman), the words flow, the prose is rhythmic, and the language is uncomplicated.

We think that this will be about the many women the narrator has known. Yet, really, the story is about the narrator himself: his transformation from loveless to one who loves and is loved, from one who begins life at ninety. He must deal with and overcome adversity. He triumphs. This transformation is his own deflowering. At the end, he leaves us with this forward-looking farewell:
It was, at last, real life, with my heart safe and condemned to die of happy love in the joyful agony of any day after my hundredth birthday. (p. 115)
And Delgadina, the child? We never know what she thinks. Indeed, she is always asleep. She never loses her purity. In the fantasy world of fiction, she loves her Scholar in return. After he and Rosa Carbacas, his loyal procuress, make lasting financial arrangements with each other to secure Delgadina's future, Rosa tells him
"Ah, my sad scholar, . . . That poor creature's head over heels in love with you." (p. 114-115)

Next Entry: Trolley Dodgers at PetCo Park

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Ogunquit Offering

Ogunquit River Barnacle Billy's
Ogunquit, Maine is a glorious summertime destination. My brother and I visited this coastal community in June, had a lobster lunch at Barnacle Billy's, and hiked the Marginal Way, a paved walking path from Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. Upon our return, we ran into a couple of ex-presidents who have been hanging out of late, fund raising for causes such as Tsunami Relief and Hurricane Katrina victims. Their lunch spot, Barnacle Billy's, allowed us to take some photos and meet President Clinton. If nothing else, these two obviously get along.
Clinton & Bush Sr.
Next Entry: Mystical Transformation; or, Life Begins at Ninety

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Killer Combo

Summer brings out the most delicious vegetable garden combo: tomato and basil. I'm not an expert gardener by any means, but am blessed with year-round mild climate. I am able to grow many herbs and lettuce all year; summer time, however, brings luscious tomatoes and delicate basil. Sweet and aromatic. Growing edibles makes you more attentive in the kitchen. The best use, by far, for this killer combo is sliced tomatoes (not to be confused with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes), fresh slivered basil, a bit of olive oil, and fresh ground pepper.
Next Entry: Ogunquit Offering

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Meet the Skimboarder

Wave Action
Water temp: 70. Air temp: 70. Surf: choppy and surging. A shore break develops as high tide approaches. Two kids are romping in the shallow soup and I'm watching a lone skimboarder who looks like he's training for the X-Games. I'm thinking of speed-dialing my chiropractor in sympathetic pain.

The skimboarder has a routine, timed with the cyclic wave action. He stands on the beach and times his run as the wave recedes, throwing down the skimboard in front and chasing after it in a short sprint. He jumps on the board as it skims in what seems like a quarter-inch of water, just enough to hydroplane the board.

The real drama unfolds at the end of the ride. The ebbing water and skimboarder collide with the incoming wave as the shore break shoots the board skyward. Board and boarder fly up; arms, legs, and torso contort in an effort to survive. He crashes into a foot of swirling foam, but like a cat with nine lives, somehow lands on his feet. And then he does it again. Sunday at the beach.
Next Entry: Killer Combo

Saturday, August 05, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth
If you haven't seen Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" do yourself and your (future/current/even if you're not even seeing anybody right now) children|grandchildren|the neighbor's kids a favor and see this movie. Be sure to stay for the credits. Learn more at climitecrisis.net. Tell your friends. And go get that hybrid car you've been thinking about. Oh yeah, and recycle. It's a serious topic, but believe it or not, wooden Al has loosened up a bit and even cracks a few jokes. He inspires and finishes with encouragement and hope. I'll leave you with one last[ing] vision, courtesy of NASA . . .
Earth from Space
Next Entry: Meet the Skimboarder

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Summer Beach Days

When the home office heats up, when the portable fan becomes useless, when the ocean breeze isn't quite cool enough to clear my thoughts, I head west where sand and surf and wind are just the cure for the summertime blues.
D Street Beach
This is D Street Beach in Encinitas taken in late afternoon from the beach access stairs. It's low tide in March. I purchase a Tide Calendar every year and use its blue line sine wave to check the daily tide. In short, is there enough beach to run?

The beach changes constantly. Not just the twice daily high tide-low tide, but the daily changes of storm surf, rocks, sea weed, sand movement, currents, red tide, wind direction and strength, and the erosion of the cliffs. The rollers, source of great (and cheap!) fun, are affected by the bottom, the tides, and the wind. This summer has produced uncommonly high water temperatures (mid-70's for all of July).
Swamis at Low Tide
Low tide unveils otherwise hidden treasures. This is Swami's Beach here at low tide exposing algae-covered rocks.
Erosion Cave Art
Cliff erosion is a constant threat to cliff-based homes and naive cliff climbers who tempt fate. Cliff collapses are not infrequent and have closed beach access stairways more than once. This particular stretch of cliff has beautiful erosion-produced caves carved by water in the fragile sandstone. And my favorite beach, Stone Steps, has warning signs advising people to keep back from the bluffs.
Stone Steps
Next Entry: An Inconvenient Truth