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Sept. 29, 2005

Ever hopeful.

Photo taken: Sept. 24, 2005


Sept. 28, 2005

Three recent moments:



"I don't think we've met. I'm [important person]."

"I'm Luke."

"You new here?"

"Five years."

"Oh. Well, welcome."



I'm making salad for a small dinner party. It calls for candied pecans. I've made this before but always end up nibbling too many along the way. One for the salad, one for me. One for the salad, two for me.

This time I chew gum while I cook so I'm not tempted to nibble. This fails. In the end I just become adept at chewing gum in the left side of my mouth while eating candied pecans in the right.



Sometimes I wonder about the motorcyclists popping wheelies or gunning their engines. Do they realize that when I pantomime the act of masturbation I'm referring to them?


Sept. 24, 2005

Luxury seating is one of the more regrettable developments in baseball, more regrettable than the designated hitter, more than steroids, more than Bud Selig, more than the Yankees.

More regrettable than a juiced Bud Selig playing DH. For the Yankees.

I find skyboxes anti-democratic and contrary to the game's working-class origins. By pushing upper decks even further into the clouds, they degrade millions more fan experiences than they enrich. They are like the modern city's parking garage, which provides convenience to some but is an eyesore to all.

That said, who am I to refuse an employer who offers a free seat in the company box?

The best part of the skybox? It's not bypassing the lines and bag searches at the front gate. It's not the dessert cart or beer fridge. It's not even the dry, warm shelter during the hourlong rain delay.

The best part of sitting in a skybox is looking down on all the little people, huddled and massive, and thinking: "Hello, little people! Don't you wish you had cake?"

And then thinking: So this is what life would be like as a Republican. I had always wondered.

Photo taken: Sept. 24, 2005


Sept. 20, 2005


Photo taken: Sept. 10, 2005


Sept. 19, 2005

Three recent moments:



"Addison stop, Addison stop, home of the 2006 World Series, doors open on your left."



A woman is Rollerblading down the lake. She's attractive, but she's not wearing a helmet and she's talking on a cell phone, two qualities that strike me as evolutional disadvantages, like the supermodel whose narrow hips couldn't possible bear a healthy child. It suggests a variation on one of Sandy's favorite jokes:

Q: What's the hardest part about Rollerblading?

A: Telling your parents you're evolutionarily disadvantageous.



It's three months and a week before Christmas and I have already seen my first holiday display, and already a treacly version of "Frosty the Snowman" has made me want to jump in the river. Thank you, Marshall Field's.


Sept. 14, 2005

Sherman Park Criterium.

Photo taken: Sept. 3, 2005


Sept. 13, 2005

Four recent moments:



"... but then working for Marvel would mean living in New York City."


"Did you just say 'Gotham'?"


"Gotham is DC."

"Oh. Of course."



A fat woman in flowing, fat-woman clothes gets off the Clark bus at Bryn Mawr. She's shaped like a pear -- an overripe pear that's been dropped once or twice. From behind thick, ugly glasses she squints at the noon sun. Teeth are missing. On her left arm is a constellation of sores, but also a large homemade tattoo: "LOVE."



I gather that one sign you have a gambling problem is when your poker playing makes you late for other, more important responsibilities. Is it a problem, then, when your poker playing makes you late for other, more important poker games?



"As soon as I could once again remember the lyrics to 'El Paso,' that's when I knew I was sober enough to get out of bed."


Sept. 12, 2005

The light above Last Chance Ranch, Blackwell, Mo.

Photo taken: Sept. 10, 2005


Sept. 9, 2005

Two recent moments:



"I found your blog the other day."


"You must have a lot of spare time."



Songs I hear on the radio on the first Saturday morning of September: Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" and Tom Petty's "Refugee." I change the station before "When the Levee Breaks" has a chance to come on. When the levee breaks I’ll have no place to stay ... Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good.


Sept. 7, 2005

When I compared poker to cycling last week, I mentioned that luck has a role. In Saturday's criterium at Sherman Park I got a first-hand lesson.

My Cat 5 race was the first of the day. I was executing my plan, trying to keep the race safe from the feckless weenies who just sit-in until the final sprint. I got off a few flyers, usually on the heels of a prime, but unfortunately I couldn't get any takers, and I couldn't create a gap big enough to sustain on my own.

With four laps to go I was considering one last jump when I found myself tight on a teammate's wheel heading up the inside. Suddenly I went in and out of a giant pothole. I swore loudly and a few seconds later heard the dreaded hiss of a pinched tube. My race was done. Walking back to the start area I passed a second teammate who had flatted in the same hole.

I would be damned, however, if this was going to be how my UCSF season would end (there are still a few ABR races in October) so on a whim I ante'd up for the 30+ race. I'd never done a masters race. All I knew is that they were F-A-S-T fast, full of riders who've been racing for decades and the occasional national champion. I briefly worried that I could even be a safety hazard among such seasoned riders, but what the heck. I tossed caution to the 10 mph breeze out of the east.

It turned out to be a small field, only 12, and although the pace was indeed high I was feeling comfortable keeping up.

There was a prime lap about 20 minutes in and I found myself at the front of the line. I wanted to get out of the wind but I couldn't get anyone to pull through. Halfway through the lap I slowed dramatically to see if someone would pass, and pass me they did: All 11 of them in a sudden surge, and just like that I was dropped.

So there I was, dropped in yet another race, and feeling pretty sorry for myself. All that work all summer and this is how I fare. Maybe this just isn't for me. Maybe I need to go back to running, which I now find fantastically boring, but at least a guy can suck in relative anonymity.

I was at my nadir, then, when I saw a friendly uniform just up the road. I bore down to his wheel and we quickly scooped up two other riders who'd been dropped. When a prime was announced for the four of us, I jumped without much thought and didn't look back. And by "didn't look back" I mean to say, "I looked back every 10 seconds to see how my gap was holding." Miraculously, it was growing.

And I have my teammate to thank for growth. He was blocking on my behalf, meaning that when he saw me jump he slowed right behind me, creating an obstacle for the other two riders. Granted, he'd later tell me that the other two were in a generous mood and didn't put up much fight, but escaping them gave me the boost of confidence I needed.

I hammered down and caught the next racer, a UofC rider in yellow. I rode with him a lap or two before I was able to ride him off my wheel. I pushed on and quietly passed the next racer before he even noticed I was coming. I caught up to one more rider but couldn't sneak past, and he beat me on the sprint. Still, I felt good about coming in 7th. It my not have come the way I'd expected it, but I had the top 10 finish I was shooting for.

And that's the subtle teamwork that makes cycling such an elegant sport. My mate's block turned my second DNF of the day into a 9th place and then into a 7th. I owe him one and look forward to when he can cash in.

Photo taken by Sandy Weisz: Sept. 3, 2005


Sept. 4, 2005

Of all the races I watched or participated in during Saturday's Sherman Park Criterium -- full race report TK -- the most enjoyable were the children's races. They certainly had the most pathos and drama, even more than the Cat 1/2/3 race in which two rivals spent many of their 30 laps loudly squabbling and swearing at each other.

The contestants were mostly neighborhood kids on an array of BMX bikes, mountain bikes and beaters. In the one-lap race for boys ages 13-15, the riders took off like madmen with the enthusiasm and panache I like to see at the start of a race, but around Turn 1 they realized that a mile was much, much longer than they had imagined. Ten minutes later they dragged themselves across the finish line, thirsty and weary. Many headed straight for the water trough to dunk their heads. The rider above splayed himself across the sidewalk, too exhausted to move another inch.

Photo taken: Sept. 3, 2005


Sept. 2, 2005

What's amazing is that the bride and groom were registered for it.

Photo taken: Aug. 27, 2005