Ten Albums From 2011 My Friends Tell Me Are Good

I don’t really listen to music. I mean sure I “listen” to music, but I’m not really paying attention to what’s going really going on out there, there’s just so much. Luckily for me I have a lot of friends who do, and they’re very opinionated, so I get the opportunity to hear a lot about what’s good. Here is a list of ten bands that are supposed to be the bomb.

1. Tennis – Cape Dory

Here’s how the conversation went:

Him : “You wanna check out Tennis?”

Me: “You wanna go play?”

Him: “No, the band.”

Me: “There’s a band called Tennis?”

Him: “Yeah man they’re sweet.”

Me: “Wow. What next? A band called Girls?”

2. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Damn it.

3, Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams

Oh wait, I think it was these guys he was talking about, or girls, or whatever.

4. Girlfriends and Boyfriends – Young Ones EP

No, no, this was band I’m sure of it. Or maybe I was just thinking about “Girls Against Boys”. Remember them?

5. The Men – Leave Home

A lot of people have been making fun of the all the new band names that are out there, but these guys came up with something super simple that works. They are men, they are “The Men”, very definitive.

6. MEN – Talk About Body

Or maybe this is a more definitive name. We’re not talking about females here, or maybe we are. MEN’s debut album is actually the new project of the mostly female troupe Le Tigre and touches on themes of gay baby makin’, feminism, and gender politics, or maybe music-band-name-confusion-politics.

7. The Weeknd – House of Balloons

Me: “You misspelled one of the bands you sent me.”

Him: “No, that’s how it’s spelled.”

8. Weekend – Sports

Me: “I think you misspelled one of the bands you sent me.”

9. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

Me: “Hell yeah, love me some EMF”

Him: “Uh no the band is EMA”

Me: “Like the label?”

I think my friends are starting to get pissed off with me.

10. Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu

I can’t tell if they’re trolling me or not. I can’t tell if this album is a joke or not. Is it so horrible that’s its actually good? A lot of people seem to be talking about it. Music these days confuses me.

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The Tale of Two Johnny Tomorrows

“Memory, the warder of the brain.” – William Shakespeare (from Macbeth)

Some of the most enjoyable pleasures we receive from our brains come our memories. The recollection of an old song, a quote from a TV show, or just remembering what happened last Saturday. Our memories mostly deal with events from the past, but is it possible that we may be able to remember or “see” things that happen in the future?
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Most people who know me will have probably heard of the show I created called “Johnny Tomorrow and the Way of the Planetarium”. It was a time travelling story about one boy’s adventures growing up with the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium and the search for extraterrestrial life, and the greater meaning to our own lives. Of course Johnny Tomorrow is me, Michael John Unger. My vocal coach reminded me as I prepared for my last run that Johnny Tomorrow is essentially the superhero version of myself, so I should play him that way.  I created that pulp sci-fi persona for myself to act as a narrator of my own story, since I was writing the show and performing it, I wanted to create a distinction between Michael the writer and Michael the actor. The name “Johnny Tomorrow” came very quickly to me when I was brainstorming titles, it just had a good ring to it. I google searched the name and didn’t find that it was used  in any significance for any creative projects, so I was well on my way.  A few weeks ago as I was wrapping the final shows of the remount for “Johnny Tomorrow”, I did another google search to see what kind of response was out there from the show, and I came across an oddity that I hadn’t picked up before.
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There was a children’s book called “Johnny Tomorrow” written by Carolyn Bear and illustrated by Gillian Hills, and published by Hodder and Stoughton, a UK publisher, in 1976.  There was not much description on the few sites that I found, and it didn’t seem like a very significant release. The cover though said a lot, a young boy in a white space suit on what looked like the  moon or another planet. To the best of my memory, I could not recall ever seeing this book before, it was possible that I may have read it when I was young, but I couldn’t remember. 
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I had put a message out to anyone that if they came across this book, to let me know, and lo and behold someone found the book and sent it to me at the Space Centre. With a bit of nervousness and excitement I held the book in my hands in anticipation of what I may find inside.
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As it turns out Bear’s story does bear some resemblance to my Johnny Tomorrow. It is about a young boy who lives with his family on a planet far away called Utopiam. His parents are from Earth, but he is the first boy ever to be born on another planet. Since he  is alone on the planet, Johnny seems pretty lonely, even though he has a computer that acts as his teacher and companion, PAL (Programmed Active Learning), just as the planetarium HAROLD is to my Johnny Tomorrow.  In one sequence Johnny learns a pre-history lesson where PAL replicates holodeck style some life-size dinosaurs, so there is also a bit of a time traveling similarity as well. Johnny’s parents have made painstaking efforts to give Johnny anything that he might desire giving him his very own replicator, and in one panel we see that in the “Pong” is still all in the rage in the future.

In the Future they still play Pong

Overall it’s a pretty odd children’s story. It’s long and very wordy, and strangely changes tense midway through the story, but it’s the tone that brings them together. It’s as if this children’s story was a creation by my Johnny Tomorrow, recreating his own past. In my brain I have no recollection of this book, so the year in which is was written has no significance because it only existed for me about a week ago. Carolyn Bear wrote many children’s book’s although Johnny Tomorrow doesn’t seem to be one of her more popular ones, in fact it seems that she wrote most books for girls, and later on in her career she would move on to novels for teenage girls which she wrote under the pseudonym Chloe Rayban. She even went on to Young Adult books including “Virtual Sexual Reality” which was made in to a movie. Oddly enough looking up the illustrator Gillian Hills reveals and even more bizarre biography. Hills started her career off as an actress that specialized in doing nude roles in such movies as Beat Girl, Blow Up, and most famously the orgy scene in A Clockwork Orange.

Hills is on the left next to the famous top ten list that gave bands "Heaven 17", and "Sparks" their names.

After reading the book, I still had no recollection of ever reading the book, but of course could never say for certain as it does have a vague familiarity to it. Being published in the UK it seems unlikely that I would have ever come across it even though the time frame would be about right for it to be sitting on a shelf somewhere, maybe in a library which I was known to frequent a lot when I was young. When I was young I devoured books, not really caring so much for the content but more for the ideas and the emotions they elicited from me, helping my imagination work its magic. Even when I was young I knew it was my best trait, I even told teachers that if daydreaming was a talent I was sure that I was one of the best, if only I could find a job that encouraged it.
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Photo by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

In the creation of “Johnny Tomorrow and the Way of the Planetarium”, I created a show that used my brain to its fullest capacity. I wrote, produced, and acted in a one person show, something I had never done before, and created a planetarium show, which I certainly had never done before. I wonder if somehow in the process of using my brain this way I tapped into something when I came up with the name “Johnny Tomorrow”.  I’ll probably never know for sure if I did read it when I was young or not, but the inscription on the back cover of the books solidifies the strange oddity of the tale of these Johnny Tomorrows.
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“Come on a trip into the future. Meet Johnny, the first child to be born on another planet. He lives in an incredible world of underground tunnels and air-domes filled with weird creatures and strange sculptured mountains. His story, fantasy today, may well become reality tomorrow.”



Adventures in Veganland

Just to be clear, I’m not a vegan. I am however a fan of vegan cooking, and some of my friends are really good vegan cooks. So perhaps when the script calls for it, this actor can turn himself into a vegan when then scene calls for it. Would this character however be able to turn himself into a chef? A skill that may seem simple enough to pick up, but given the variables of a vegan audience, how would this play out? What follows is my attempt to create a dish for a vegan American thanksgiving hosted by the lovely vegan American Kaylie Barfield and her equally lovely partner Malloreigh H.

Malloreigh (left) Kaylie (right)

Before I go into my adventure, I should give some background into my food lifestyle. Growing up in the suburbs of Vancouver, I was not exposed to many food options that didn’t come from the Bovinae family. As I moved to the city, I began experimenting with different food lifestyles. For a while to make myself more conscious of what I was eating, I would give a name to the animal I was eating like Charlie Bovinae or Jimmy Tuna. I found the company I kept would influence me greatly though in my habits, so currently I am keeping up with a mostly vegetarian diet. However in conversations with Malloreigh she’s pondered what kind of variables it would take to convert someone to veganism. For me the only things that stand in my way are cheese and eggs. I love cheese. In fact when they do an autopsy of me they’ll find that I’m mostly made of bad jokes.

Apparently the only thing stopping me from being vegan.

I have found though that I can go stretches without those two ingredients, but it can be hard when I’m not cooking at lot to find vegan options at restaurants. So going into the thanksgiving dinner, not only have my cooking skills gone rusty, but I’ll be cooking for vegans who are all accomplished cooks. So I cranked my Tool (notable vegan band) and got to work.

My chosen dish was one that would be simple enough to create and fitting for the Thanksgiving theme.

This is how the recipe appeared on www.epicurious.com:

Leek and Wild Mushroom Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms*
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 8-ounce French-bread baguettes, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 large egg, beaten to blend

Obviously I would be using Earth Balance instead of butter, and will be just omitting the egg. I was unable to find dried porcini mushrooms so I just added more white mushrooms. Later on in the recipe it would call for using the mushroom soaking liquid to moisten up the stuffing before baking, but as you will see I just used Vegetable Broth as a substitute.

First off I wanted to get all my ingredients chopped and ready to go. There was a ton of mushrooms to be chopped, and after a while my back was starting to hurt. I wondered if my chopping technique was flawed so I went to youtube.com and found several videos showing the various methods of chopping. Thank god for youtube. Here’s some of Alex Trebeck’ s drunk Jeopardy outtakes I found while procrastinating the cooking.  Good times on the inter web.

The recipe continues:

Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add shiitake and button mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes. Add leeks and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, thyme, and porcini mushrooms. Cook until almost all wine evaporates, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour mushroom mixture into large bowl and mix with the bread.

Now that I had gotten anal about my chopping techniques, I started to worry about the sautéing time. In these situations when my brain is consumed with tasks, keeping track of time can prove challenging. So what I did was mark the time by when a song would change. I would look at the track listing briefly, and when the song ended I would know how much time has passed. It sounds ridiculous I know, but it’s just the way my brain works.

I was getting pretty hungry at this point so it’s a good thing I bought lots of bread. Plus I had some bonus wine left over. So I had only the last step until I had time to relax.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add enough reserved mushroom soaking liquid to stuffing to moisten (3/4 cup to 1 1/4 cups). Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 40 minutes.

Again I substituted the Vegetable broth for the mushroom soaking liquid because of the lack of porcini mushrooms.

So from the moment I compiled my list to go to the grocery store to the moment I pulled out the dish from the oven, it was probably a good 5-6 hours. Again ridiculous, but I was going slow, taking my time, enjoying the process. Could I become a Vegan? Who knows? I would have finally put the stuffing into Tammy Turkey of the Melagris family but she kept running away. So for today I was a Vegan.

Special thanks to my lady friend Bronwen Marsden for the support (panicked text messages) and inspiration on the dish.

Hockey as Theatre: The Vancouver Canucks vs. The Phoenix Coyotes

(I write theatre reviews for plankmagazine.com, I haven’t reviewed in a while, and I was fortunate enough to obtain tickets to a Canucks game. I hadn’t been to a Canucks game in a while, so I decided to approach this game with the same approach I do to theatre. This is the result.)

The Vancouver Canucks vs The Phoenix Coyotes on January 7th 2009 was a rousing piece of theatre that made the most of all elements – from the writing to the acting – to make it a winning production. I would say that it’s a must see, and you should rush out and see it, but it was a one-time-only performance. Sure, you can find the highlights somewhere, maybe even find someone who PVR’d it and watch an entire replay, but unless you were in General Motors Place that night, you will be only watching the basic plot and you’ll not get the full experience of this drama.

Sitting amongst the 18,000-plus that the venue holds, it’s clear that as we look down upon the sheer white ice in front of us, we will be just as much a part of the storyline as the actors that will be on that stage. More on this a little later. The rink is oval, giving every single seat that surrounds it on two tiers a perfect vantage point to the ice, but also to other audience members. I’m always conscious of it when I see a play laid out like this, whether it be a theatre in the round or a layout like at the Pacific Theatre. For the pre show, the production team for the Canucks stole a page from the book of the Planetarium Laser Shows with a tense build up of Pink Floyd’s “Time” that was subtly enhanced by some of the lights around the concourse. As the actors entered the stage it switched to U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” backed with an air raid siren customary of all of the Canucks shows in this theatre. The song choice is not your typical sports anthem but really works here: as the combination of The Edge’s frantic strumming riff and that siren, it pumps the blood stream into a frantic state.

The costumes were decent, with the Phoenix Coyotes sporting colours of brick-red, desert sand, and black around a logo of a howling coyote.

The Vancouver Canucks were predominantly in majestic royal blue with green and white trim. Their logo of an orca is arched by the block letters of “Vancouver”. It’s uncommon for hockey companies to emblazon the city name on their costumes, but it seems to me that this may be a way of cashing in on some of the Vancouver branding that has happened to coincide with those big games that are coming in February. The costume history of these two teams is interesting, as both have had bad reviews of previous adornments, but I am glad to say that designers for both teams should be proud of these handsome presentations.


These jerseys used to wreak havoc on the colour spectrum of old TV's.

The metaphoric premise of a lumberjack Canuck battling a pack of Coyotes is the central image of tonight’s story.

The writing was superb, with just enough twists early on to send it into a satisfying finale. Alexandre Burrows opened the scoring in the first period with a deft top-corner wrist shot. In the previous chapter – which played a few days before – Burrows recorded a hat trick, so it would seem he was the main character in tonight’s play. The history of the hat-trick is an interesting, albeit confusing, one. The first known reference actually came from Cricket in the 1800’s, but the lore has grown with stories of Hat salesmen offering hockey players free hats if they score three goals in a game. Currently the tradition is for theatre patrons to throw their own hats on the ice stage after such a feat is accomplished.

The first period ended with a crunching hit on Aaron Rome by former Canuck Taylor Pyatt. The virginal white ice became stained with blood as it poured out of Rome. In this modern age of theatre you would expect immediate retaliation as has become the custom; even if Pyatt’s hit was a clean one, there was nary a reaction, nor was there a penalty. Curious… It was Pyatt last year who endured a personal tragedy when his fiancée was killed in an accident in Jamaica. The plot thickens. Could it be that former popular teammate Pyatt earned a free pass from his brethren? Like Hamlet, the Canucks chose not to enact their revenge right away. However, if there was any flaw in this production, it was the resolution of this plot point. The crowd was not allowed a second look at what happened to Rome. Often there will be a replay on the big screens of some of the action that happens to give the audience a quick recap, but none came of this clearly dramatic event. As Rome was helped out, and the Icemen scraped the red blood off the ice, there was no replay, explanation, or return of Rome to the stage for the rest of the night. Upon my review of the moment when I got home, it was clear to me that the Pyatt hit was a clean one, thus making the non-call by the referees the correct one, and explaining why there wasn’t immediate revenge on their former friend. It was a shame that the audience had to be left bewildered and frustrated over what happened simply because of a lack of replay. Those following the story at home, on television, may have thought the audience that night to be a bit rash, if not stupid, but perhaps it was this kind of reaction the writer was intending to provoke.

With the score 1-0 for the Canucks, the second period was, for the most part, controlled by the trailing Coyotes as they hounded and berated the shorthanded Canucks. Without Rome the Canucks were down to 5 defencemen, when suddenly another defenceman – Salo – went down, also bleeding from his face. What was this? An homage to the plays of John Ford? Two dramatic showings of blood: what sort of symbolism was this? Yet, once again, the production failed to explain any of the questions surrounding this incident. There was no penalty on the play, and there was a lot of action going on so I, personally, didn’t see what had happened to him. The audience was left in confusion and anger. And they voiced their displeasure with derogatory chants full of colourful language. It’s interesting that in this theatre the audience seems to believe that they can alter the play in front of them. I’ve always believed in collective consciousness but I’ve never thought of it in terms of the stage. A piece of theatre that alters and shifts itself based on the will of the audience. In this specific incident there was, again, no replay to help us, bringing on the derision of the collective consciousness. I have been led to understand that the NHL – the league that governs these plays – instructs its theatres not to show controversial incidents on the big screen. This seems like a gross misunderstanding of the basics of dramatic storytelling, especially since we are allowed to see replays of everything else. In both cases I feel that with a proper replay the crowd would have had sufficient explanation for the incidents. In Salo’s case it was his own teammate Willie Mitchell’s stick that cut him in the ear  Unlike the incident of disciple teammates Judas and Peter, the ear would stay intact and Salo would return to Mitchell and the rest of the Canucks for the 3rd period, which they went go into leading 2-0 from a late goal from Mikael Sammuelsson, scored with just 4 seconds left in the 2nd period.

Overall, the performances were tremendous and included many highlights: A failed penalty shot for Mason Raymond when the score was just 1-0, two heated fights to go along with some of the incidental blood shed that flowed on the ice and, ultimately, a shut-out victory for Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks as they defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0. The story also included a hat trick for Alexandre Burrows which — as previously mentioned — was a follow-up to another hat trick from the previous game chapter. This feat had not been accomplished by a Vancouver player since Petri Skriko in the 86-87 season. Almost like a Rocky Horror Show audience, they responded to this incident by throwing their hats onto the stage in celebration of the moment. There were several times during the night when the crowd  was prompted into responding. A chant of ‘Louuuu” went up after a significant stop from Luongo, as well as humourous occasions when they turned the cameras around to the audience to show them on the big screen, to give them a bit of a chance to be part of the show. Most responded by flailing their arms nonsensical and dancing, or confusedly looking at their neighbours to acknowledge that they were being shown to the rest of the audience.

As a kid I liked to say "Skriko streaking down the wing!"

This chapter, mid-way through the season for the Vancouver Canucks, is a good win, yet not overly huge when looking at the big picture. There will be many more of these dramatic contests that will need to be played out before the ultimate meaning of this play can be put into perspective. I couldn’t help but wonder about the significance of the Phoenix Coyotes franchise. Their financial uncertainty prior to the season left the entire company in flux, and probably still does. It could very well could be one of the last times the Coyotes from Phoenix will come to Vancouver to participate in a theatrical endeavour. It may soon be a blip in history, much like a memory of a Vancouver Canucks play in the 70’s  vs. The Golden Seals of California, or Flames of Atlanta.

All in all, I would recommend future theatrical performances of the Vancouver Canucks, although I have to note: Even though it may be promoted as a family outing, with all the bloodshed and foul language from the crowd this is more in the realm of Shakespeare/Mamet than Disney. The metaphorical imagery may also go over their heads, but it is a good introduction for those not accustomed to more mature Theatre. The symbolic imagery of Lumberjacks slaughtering a pack of Coyotes may be a bit much for some. Perhaps it would be worth waiting for the Canucks to rake some Leafs from Toronto (who are, apparently, grammatically challenged) in an Autumnal play, as it might be better suited for the family.

Also not suited for kids.

Pursue the Pennant: A 20 Year Board Game

Today is October 27, 2010. Twenty years ago today, I began to play a board game called Pursue the Pennant. Last year I revisited the game and played the final game of a season that I had started.  I wrote the following article as an epitaph to a childhood game that I’ve played for the better part of my life.  Over the years my passion for baseball has waned. I no longer follow each box score the way I did when I was following my favourite team the New York Mets, but in wake of the steroids scandal the integrity of the game has been lost for me. Playing this game reminded me of what I like about baseball and I want to preserve that feeling, which is why I wrote this article.  Today also marks Game 1 of the 2010 World Series which features for the first time in baseball history: The Texas Rangers. This is significant, as you will read, because in my 20 year season it was the Texas Rangers that made the World Series which went against all the stats and the odds. So it feels appropriate to revisit the journey again.

Pursue the Pennant

On October 25, 1990 I received the board game “Pursue The Pennant” for my 13th birthday. PTP is more of a role-playing baseball game than a standard board game. It basically involves elaborate player cards for all the players as well as charts to determine the outcome of each play as a result of rolls from three 10-sided dice. Two days later on October 27th, 1990 I would play my first PTP game, actually the first game of a season that I set up for all the teams. I created a schedule that would have all 26 teams play a ten game schedule. Doing the math that means a 260 game regular season, plus an all-star game and the playoffs. For the next 3 years (1990-1993) I would play pretty consistently, the game itself didn’t take that long to play, but I did keep track of all the stats, and quite often would just spend time looking back at the past games and reliving the game stories. In the last ten years every once and while I would find the game in a closet and be reminded of a season of Pursuing the Pennant that was never completed, so I would play a few games slowing inching towards the World Series. Inevitably as I got older, my drive for playing a board game essentially created when I was 13, didn’t have the same excitement. I’d wonder to myself why I wasn’t putting my free to time to better use or even getting out of the confines of my bedroom and this solitary game that I’ve been playing for the past 20 years. The other day I found PTP in my storage as I started to clear some things out. I looked through my game log and realized that I had left the season in the midst of the World Series. With the Texas Rangers up 3-0 on the Atlanta Braves, it meant that I could be one game away from finishing the game that I started almost exactly 19 years ago.

Example of a player card

To describe “Pursue the Pennant” to someone can prove challenging, especially for those that may have never played a role-playing or a CCG (customizable card game). It strives to be a realistic portrayal of a baseball game that gives you the experience of the game but without the cold beer or hot dogs. Fantasy sports have thrived in the past 10 years with the aid of the internet to help teams interact, but fantasy baseball has roots that go back to the early 80’s with Rotisserie Leagues. Daniel Okrent is credited as inventing it, as the name comes from “La Francais Rotisserie”, a restaurant they would meet and play at. Since Pursue the Pennant is designed for two teams to go against each other, 2 players would seem to be necessary, but I actually found it more fulfilling to play solitaire style. I had gotten used to playing games alone, or finding ways to take on two personalities when playing a game. There were a few games that I did play against friends, but the game was always at its best when I sat alone next to my bed with the game layed out on the floor. My Dad would walk in to my room with the classic joke “Who’s winning?” when he saw me like this. It took a while for self humility to sink in for me. That’s part of the reason that there is a large gap when the game was buried and not played for years at a time.

In commemoration of Game 4 of the World Series of my Pursue the Pennant season, I will detail inning by inning the results which potentially could be the last game of my PTP season.

Game 4 World Series

Atlanta Braves vs. Texas Rangers

Rangers lead 3 games to 0.

Arlington Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Weather Conditions: Warm, Clear, Wind Blowing In

There is an actual board used mainly for reference purposes and a place to throw the dice. There is different stadium backdrop for every ballpark. Arlington Stadium is a deep stadium, not conducive to many home runs. The weather conditions were determined with dice rolls referenced against charts that would accurately depict temperature and wind conditions in Texas in October. These conditions do affect the game slightly.

Pitching Matchup:

Tom Glavine vs. Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan

Tom Glavine

I am happy with this matchup as both of these players are very distinct and different and are quite clear in my mind. Tom Glavine is a left-hander with a slow smooth side-step. Nolan Ryan is a old school right handed fastballer, who brings his hands above his head and follows through with a big leg kick. I like to envision each play as it happens, and it’s important to me to be able to visualize the pitcher pitching to the batter. A quick depiction in my mind of a pitchers windup and batters stance are necessary for me to get a handle on my world before I throw the dice to figure out the outcome of the play.

1st Inning

Atlanta jumps on top of Nolan Ryan right away with a 2 run double by Lonnie Smith to kick things off. I am not cheering for either team, in fact it’s kind of ironic that after 19 years it would be Atlanta and Texas to make it here because in fact they’re probably two of my least favourite teams, but right now they are the only teams that matter to me.

Atlanta 2 Texas 0

2nd Inning

I suppose in the back of my mind I am kind of hoping that Atlanta can pull through, as I am fully aware that this could be the last game of Pursue the Pennant I ever play. That thought starts to become clear in the second inning as Atlanta fails to capitalize on having the bases loaded. Opportunities to score on Nolan Ryan don’t come often, but Tom Glavine is shutting down the Rangers hitting so far.

Atlanta 2 Texas 0

3rd Inning

When things happen that are rare, it lends to the belief that it is manifested destiny. When Moses parted the Red Sea it took rare occurrences to miracle levels. In reality the parting of the Red Sea may have just been a rare occurrence of “wind set-down effect”. Florida scholar Doron Nof estimated that the likelihood of such a storm in that area of the world would happen less than once every 2,400 years. So when Rangers catcher Mike Stanley lead off the bottom of the third with a solo homerun, such a rare occurrence can just be chalked to pure numbers. Pursue the Pennant uses stats from the 1989 season, and in that year Mike Stanley hit only one homerun. Upon the roll of my trusty three ten-sided dice, there were a series of 9 numbers out of the possible 1000 while facing a left-handed pitcher that would enable Stanley to hit a homerun, and such he did. Perhaps miracles are rare mathematical variables, or on the other hand since those variables happen eventually, it’s conceivable to think that miracles happen all time. In plain sport talk, Stanley’s homerun may mean that it’s going to be good things to come for Texas.

Atlanta 2 Texas 1

Moses was the also head of the NRA.

4th Inning

Nolan Ryan mows down the Braves for a 1,2, 3 inning and I know right away that the Braves won’t get another sniff from him. Call it gut instinct, or call it a trigger from the million of nerve cells in the stomach that informs the brain. All Pursue the Pennant is, is rolling dice and determining results based upon a list of variables. While that is pure science, gut instinct is not thought of as a “good science”, yet it is used every day in decision making. Perhaps the gut instinct is just a scientific nomer that we haven’t figured out yet. Dr. Michael Gershon wrote a book called “The Second Brain” which goes into groundbreaking studies about this very subject. It’s amazing how many things other than baseball I think about when I play this game.

Atlanta 2 Texas 1

Rafael Palmeiro, First Baseman/Gay Porn Star.

5th Inning

Rafael Palmeiro comes through for the Rangers with an RBI single to tie the game. I’ve never liked Rafael Palmeiro, in fact you could say that I despise Rafael Palmeiro. There could even be a correlation now that I think about it with all players from 80’s that wore mustaches. Mattingly, Boggs, Eckersley, even Keith Hernandez who was on my favourite team of all time the NY Mets, rubbed me the wrong way with their fur lip. Recently I was confronted by a friend’s child who upon seeing my face after a couple weeks worth of growth, exclaimed that he “doesn’t like it at all.” Perhaps mustaches serve as frightening glimpse into the future of a boy, and the “manhood” which lies dormant within, waiting to be unleashed with the onset of puberty. Maybe young boys can relate easier to larger versions of themselves that have faces similar to themselves. Now I just sound racist. Just so you know my favourite baseball players have fruit names.

Atlanta 2 Texas 2

6th Inning

Steve Buechele hit a solo homerun to bring the inevitable Texas come back to fruition. Who is Steve Buechele you say? Well when Steve Buechele hit that home run, what he didn’t know was that that would be the last time his alcoholic Dad would see him. A tumultuous relationship at best, Ron Buechele left his family when Steve was young, but did periodlly spring back into his life, especially when Steve started to show promise as a high school baseball player in Lancaster, California. Steve took resentment for his Dad’s new found interest in his life, but only passively kept his distance from his father. Perhaps Steve did secretly enjoy impressing his father with his prowess with hitting home runs, especially solo home runs, because every time he did it was symbolic of how he could succeed without him. Steve would get word of his father’s death from a messenger that came to the dugout at the end of the inning. Steve was neither sad nor happy to hear the news, but suddenly seemed confused as to why his teammates continued to congratulate him on his home run that put in the Rangers in the lead. (The only part of that story that is true  is Steve was famous for hitting solo home runs.)

Texas 3 Atlanta 2

7th Inning

Palmeiro again. Another RBI single. Some men have legacies. Real legacies. Maybe not our fathers, but our father’s fathers. They had war to contend with. Some men are artists. Real artists. They have the reality of living with others to contend with. Since I’ve been playing this game for almost 20 years, this is perhaps the closest thing to a legacy that I have. Here I am sitting in my apartment playing PTP and I’m actually getting sad that Texas is building on a lead that could lead to me never playing PTP again. I said before that I never pick sides, or cheat myself when I play. The roll of the dice rules all. Yet here I am having to watch stupid Rafael Palmeiro get RBI’s. I feel agitated, and it’s bothering me, because it’s going against everything that I stood for in this game, and yet after 20 years I’m feeling myself becoming dissatisfied with the result. Every single game that I played has lead to this game. Every result that has happened before, that has excited and thrilled me, has left me bewildered with emotion. I’m going to have to stop and take a break. It was quite common for me to stop a game midway and continue later, but I don’t think I ever have wanted to do so quite so badly as in this instance.

Texas 4 Atlanta 2

8th Inning

The end is near, it’s so near, but I don’t want the party to end. Each roll is immediately nostalgic. I start to look to the future, like I always do. Wonder what I’m going to be doing later, today, tomorrow, next year. All the projects I want to work on, all the fun creative places my mind can wonder into, because I know: this is it. It’s not really, Atlanta is only down by two. Miracles happen, but I know. Atlanta makes some great defensive plays in the bottom half of their inning. They’re playing right till the end. Perhaps the players that live inside these variable numbers, their personalities that are inside my brain, know my plight. That’s probably because they are me. Every single insecurity I have is self-inflicted. If I could just stop thinking, maybe I wouldn’t need this beer to calm it. If I could just stop rolling the dice, this game would end and I could move on. The 8th Inning for some reason usually and always is uneventful, Just get to the 9th so we can decide this.

Texas 4 Atlanta 2

9th Inning

I focus nothing more on the game, it’s the reason I play in the first place, to escape.  Anyways it’s best not to get all emo like I was back in the 8th. There are actual decisions to be made in PTP that are outside of random chance. When to steal a base, go for home on a double with a man on first, when to pull the starter, and so forth. In fact, making the rosters I would probably say is the funnest part about playing, because it makes you really feel in control. Who’s going to bat in that #3 spot? If two guys are equal in power would you put a guy with a little more speed in that spot as opposed to the #5? Trying to explain the nuance of that part of the game is hard to do if you don’t know the game of baseball. It’s hard to explain why I’ve been playing this game for twenty years, if you haven’t been dreaming of these esoteric variables in the midst of sleep. When I was younger, and trying to last longer during sex, I would try to recite baseball lineups. This was before I even saw “Singles” too, so imagine my surprise when I saw the Xavier McDaniels scene.

All of these actors were considered "it" at the time.

I told myself before the inning started that Nolan Ryan, who had been dominant all game but well past his fatigue mark, that I would leave him in until the first sign of trouble. The Braves were only down by two so it was the prudent thing to do. He got the first two outs, with Otis Nixon at the plate. I suddenly remembered Otis Nixon actually being in that exact position in the 1992 World Series, so on instinct, before I rolled the outcome, I called for a bunt.  Unlike in ’92, Nixon actually legged it out for a hit. So finally some drama in this game, something that I didn’t expect to happen. I brought in Jeff Russell, for the final pitching change I would ever make because Terry Pendleton would ground out to Julio Franco for the final out.

So it was over, and suddenly another surprising emotion peeks its way into my body: relief. Instead of being sad over the end of a game that I’ve known for most of my adult life that’s ended with one of my most disliked teams winning the World Series, I’m relieved that I’ve actually completed a long running creative project. I could never have know at the time that I would still refer to typed out rosters that I completed on a Word Perfect program on my IBM compatible 386 , printed out on a dot matrix printer. The first game I ever played was October 27, 1990. The Pittsburgh Pirates at the St. Louis Cardinals. John Smiley vs. Joe Magrane. My Grade 8 juvenile printing style is a stark contrast to that of the final game played October 22, 2009. I write this now as a 32 year old with no more Pursue the Pennant games on the schedule. I could condense a much shorter schedule if I were to keep playing.

Would I start a new season? Should I start a new season? Do I want to start again?

As I type this out alone in my apartment thinking about this, I can hear my Dad saying “Who’s winning?”