Friday, December 31, 2004

LAST Year's News?

The Boston Red Sox won this year's World Series!!!

Sorry, that might be the last time I can say that for a while (though hopefully it won't be long)... so I had to relish it a little more. In fact, I'll say it again:

The Red Sox are this year's World Series Champions! Now!

Happy New Year, all!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Baseball Growing Up

As a life-long Red Sox fan I've had friends ask me my opinions on the recent departure of Pedro Martinez, the arrival of David Wells or Wade Miller, etc. While I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough to want to spend a lot of time commenting on such things here (my friend Cap'n Ho does that very well indeed already!), the loss of the "franchise player" in the current state of Major League Baseball does raise an interesting question for me.

I grew up with the Sox starting in the early 70's, watching Pudge Fisk, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Rick Burleson and Dwight Evans (did I ever tell you how much I like Dwight Evans???) join Captain Carl Yastrzemski (which I can still spell from memory at least!) to form a great core team that was together for the better part of 5 seasons. This made coming back to the Sox each spring very easy for a young teenager as it was coming back to family.

It's obviously very different these days. My son C is now starting to enjoy baseball, happily even before October of this past season. But he was devastated when Nomar was traded mid-season this year. He was upset when Pedro left this winter and stressed about Jason Varitek - his self-proclaimed favorite player since he was four - until Tek finally did re-sign with Boston last week.

How much does free agency and escalating salaries hurt the fan base of the game? It's no secret that few people outside of us die-hard baseball fans still consider baseball to be "America's past time". Why? Because kids - young kids - can't hook onto a team and follow the players on that team together for multiple seasons, as earlier generations could. A "favorite player" may move at any time. While a necessary aspect of the business - I certainly don't foresee it changing nor do I even make a case here that it should at this point - it hurts building a young fan base.

Oh, and as for Pedro? I absolutely agree with Cap'n Ho... I don't regret his leaving, though it's a shame. But I really, really wanted to wish him well and have him leave with dignity. His comments as he was introduced as a Met though were simply so over the top and - intentionally or not - nasty, that I can't do that. I loved Pedro for several years, liked him the past two years, respected him always (no, Pedro, not your kind of respect)... but now I find I'm hoping to high heaven that he fails miserably in his new endeavor. Again, I'd love nothing better than to wish him well and watch him from afar... but I can't feel that way about him any more.

At least when Nomar left, though he certainly had many hard feelings about the Sox and vented some of them, he remained overall professional and I do in fact wish him well. Indeed, C has already expressed interest in a possible family visit to Wrigley Field next year to watch Nomar and the Cubbies!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Happy Holidays!

Christmas was wonderful this weekend, as it usually is when shared with a small child. We did our traveling on Friday (Christmas Eve), visiting my folks in western MA. This was quite fun, although my folks and our son C are going through a tough period in their relationship where C is being held to a higher standard of behavior from them now than he has been in the past (less running and jumping allowed, no "silly" conversations acceptable any more, for instance). As a result, he's feeling they've become very strict (his word is "mean") with him and he hasn't enjoyed visiting with them on recent trips this year as much as he always has in the past.

This is troubling to me because I valued my relationship with my grandmother tremendously when growing up, and I've been very happy to see C enjoying his grandparents so much since he's been little. But for the moment he doesn't like visiting Nana & Grandpa as he always had and that's a shame. Of course all relationships change with time and it won't take C long now I'm sure for his behavior to catch up with their expectations. Alas, not long at all.

Indeed, we came home Friday night so we could have our family Christmas ourselves on Saturday morning, and it was very fun, very sweet, very special. But I was also very aware that this may well be our last Christmas with our "little child", the one who hugs us after every gift, runs around the room playing with each new toy as it's opened, and who still enjoys action figures and stuffed Pokemon dolls as much as he now enjoys video games and books.

He's maturing quickly now though and I'm thinking that by next year we'll likely be having Christmas with our "big kid". Maybe he'll be getting too cool to let his excitement show, too cool to run and jump into our arms after each particularly wonderful gift. Cool enough to have "a higher standard of behavior".

I'm not afraid of those days, they'll be wonderful in their own way, but it's another reminder of how fleeting childhood can be and it did add a tinge of the bittersweet to my holiday as I put C to bed Saturday night, clutching a small stuffed Pokemon doll in his hand as he fell asleep.

After our quiet family holiday on Saturday, The Momma's family (parents, brother and sister-in-law) all came for a visit Sunday afternoon, another very fun day especially as I don't get to see any of them very often. (With The Momma working weekends she and C usually visit her family during the week when I'm working.) We had a nice afternoon and evening before they all rushed home to beat Sunday night's snowstorm.

We don't have any big plans for New Year's this year, probably just a night home with the three of us. (It won't necessarily be a quiet night, though, we'll still be dancing and partying!) I certainly do miss the days of our infamous "Blues Bashes" back in the 80's and 90's, parties that would last anywhere from two to four nights and draw scores of people from all up and down the northeast corridor. Those days are largely over now with so many of us tending to our own families. Still, one of these years, maybe soon, I'll see if the interest is there to try it again... though probably a small party, maybe we'll even limit it to just one night!

Happy Holidays to all, and remember not to take any of these special times for granted... Hail the Tiki!

Monday, December 20, 2004

When Friends are Family

Party Cake!

In 1982 and 1983 I met several new friends at various science fiction events, conventions or movie openings throughout New England, and we have remained very close. In 1986 I joined a "Star Trek" fan club in the Boston area, the USS Christa McAuliffe, making quite a few more close friends and also finding that most of my earlier friends fit right into the McAuliffe as well. The McA became our group identity and remains so to this day, 20 years later (give or take).

Many people have a circle of friends that is very meaningful to them. Is it me though or do science fiction fans feel this kinship even more than our more "mundane" acquaintances? Maybe it's because so many of us were geeks growing up (before it was somewhat "cool" to be a geek), and frequently considered ourselves loners to some extent, with maybe a couple of friends but never quite fitting into the mainstream in those early years.

I feel enormously blessed to have found such a group of friends - of family - as I have found with my fellow McAuliffans. This past weekend we had our annual group holiday party; it had been a few years since I'd been able to go myself and I'm so glad I was able to make it there with C and The Momma. All of us had a wonderful time with about 25 other old friends, some of whom we still see often, some of whom we only see once or twice a year, but all of whom we are instantly comfortable with.

My thanks go to The Hey for arranging this event each year, and putting a great amount of work into it. But also my appreciation to everyone on the McA and our extended friends. It's special to sit down with such a diverse group as we are and after so many, many years and stories just continue to realize that these are Good People, and they are our friends.

Hail the Tiki, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"Can You Believe It?"

Since I've gone to all the trouble (uh-huh) of starting a blog, it'd be a shame not to post my thoughts from when the Red Sox won the World Series 6 weeks ago, on October 27, 2004. It was, after all, an amazing, life-changing event! So here's just a copy of an email I sent out the morning after, for, uh, posterity's sake (not that anyone else will care!).

Wow. World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. I've dreamed about hearing that title since I was 11 years old; I've cried about NOT earning that title several times since I was 13 (that was in 1975). Now it seems unreal... like we're in an alternate universe suddenly, just ever so slightly askew of our own.

Since before last year's ALCS I've many times wondered what it would be like to succeed. It's the stuff of legend for our generation to actually accomplish this goal, this driving focus of the candy always being dangled deliciously just out of reach. Would reaching the candy prove, as Spock once said, that having is not as good a thing, after all, as wanting

Hmmmm, I think I like candy. I want more!

The incredible, almost incomprehensible buzz of this victory will doubtless fade over the coming weeks and months as life goes on. But what came out of this wasn't a loss of something to strive for in the future. Certainly next year and in the years to come we'll still as much as ever desire to win that championship; there won't be any "Aw, we've been there, done that" malaise.

What came out of this year was Redemption. An exorcism. (And I'm not referring to a "curse" here!) It was a removal of the pain from the past 30 years (in my case). To get all Trekkie here, it's as if Sybok (see Star Trek V, the sucky film) reached into my mind, found my "hidden pain", helped me through it and just totally lifted it away.

Aaron Boone? Man, what a great ALCS that was! Buckner? I never held a bad thought against the guy, but of course the Mookie Wilson moment hurt like hell. Now I can think about it and maybe even smile... yeah, we almost got it that time, that was special!

We have perspective. We can continue to enjoy the hunt, to thrive on the drama, to LIVE FOR THIS.

But maybe the ghosts of the past don't have to hurt us any more.

Besides, there's no way those idiots could do it again next year anyway, right?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Another Boomer?


David Wells... now that's not a name I expected to find on a Red Sox roster at this point! And yet, I do kinda like the idea. Boomer (not to be confused with The Boomer, George Scott, of course!) certainly fits into the band of misfits and idiots mentality adopted by the 2004 Sox clubhouse. He's known as a heavy drinker, a party animal, and not big on rules... but oh yeah, he's been a pretty darned good pitcher for much of his career, even if there are quite a few question marks at this stage about his durability and, well, his coordination as he seems prone to fall off his barstools!

Still, the price is right, and this is a guy who could potentially have two good seasons left in him. I find it hard to picture him on the same bench as Pedro, or even Curt Shilling, but he'll sure have a good time with Kevin Millar (if by some chance Millar is still on this team in '05 of course).

And he'll take some of the media attention away from "Manny being Manny", as Boomer will doubtless be busy being Boomer! Buckle up, it's gonna be a bumpy ride... but it could be fun!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Santa Clause

Merry Christmas!

We set up the Christmas tree last weekend, on Sunday evening (December 5th) after my wife, "The Momma", woke up from her day nap. It was a little more work this year than usual, as we have a very small living room and the corner where we "traditionally" place the tree (the quotes necessary as this is only our second holiday season in this house!) now is home to our 10-gallon fish tank. So first we needed to find the fishies a new home.

An aside on the fishies - We bought these back in May or June. Three small fish, Danio Zebras I think they're called. C picked them out, even though they're not the most "beautiful" fish (though they are quite cute). But he wanted them because of the salesperson's description to us: "They never stop swimming, and they never sleep." That's C' kind of fish! We took three home, and C named them collectively as "Nonstop". Too cool... and a great choice, all three are still with us and seemingly happy (as best fish happiness can be judged).

Anyway, we moved Nonstop into our bedroom and finally got the tree up in its appropriate spot. Very fun, and Christmas had officially arrived.

But I told you that story so I could tell you this one (nod to Bill Cosby there). On Saturday C & I were watching something on TV and there was some reference to Santa Claus. 7-year-old C very calmly told me, "They don't know that Santa Claus isn't real". This was completely of out of the blue, but he's a bright kid so I wasn't completely surprised. Still, it was time to address the issue!

"You don't think Santa Claus is real?"

"No, do you?"

Touche, kid! "I believe that there's a real SPIRIT of Santa Claus, but I think Santa probably isn't a real person."

C found that agreeable, so I pushed a little further.

"Do you see why people LIKE to believe in Santa Claus, and pretend he's real even if it's not true?"

"Yes," said C. Cool, still so far, so good, he's not upset at the Big Conspiracy!

"Me too, I like that people believe in the spirit of giving and of loving people, and that we keep the stories alive." (Or at least, I said something along those lines but equally mushy; you talk that way sometimes with your own kids.)

We left it at that for a few minutes, but then C added, "The one thing I just can't figure out, is where the presents come from!" Oops, more work to do!

"Do you want to know the WHOLE truth about Santa?" I asked him. Of course he said Yes.

I moved over and sat next to him on the couch; it was time for the Big Revelation. "All those presents you get from Santa every year...?"


I whispered, "WE get those for you!"

He broke into a wide-eyed grin and said, "You mean YOU gave me my Payne [video game action] figure last year??"

"Yup," I said. And he threw his arms around me in one of the biggest hugs he'd ever given me.

"Oh thank you thank you sweet Daddy!" he yelled.

Well, THAT milestone of growing up went pretty well! He was delighted to be "part of the club", as it were. Naturally I warned him that he couldn't talk to other kids about it unless THEY broached the subject first, even if they were older than him. But he could talk to other adults about it.

The next evening then as we were decorating the tree I asked if he wanted to tell Momma what we'd talked about. He said "No, let's keep it a surprise!" I told him I was pretty sure The Momma already knew about Santa, but he wanted to save it as a Christmas surprise that HE knew now! Okey-doke. At one point The Momma commented that she hoped Santa would be good to us this year, and C grinned and whispered in my ear, "You WILL, right?"

Then the NEXT day, Monday, The Momma called me at work and told me C needed to talk to me.

"Daddy, do you think it would be okay if I told Momma today about that THING we were talking about?"

It only took me a moment. "You mean about Santa?"


"Yes, I think that's just fine. You decided you wanted to talk to her about it after all?"


"Okay, she'll like that, have fun!"

It was a Good weekend... and we've got a great kid!

To Blog or Not to Blog?

To blog, or not to blog? That's been the question for me for a few months now. The fact that it hasn't been a question I've paid a great deal of attention to should be a good indication of why I've been hesitant to bother. I feel that I occasionally have some things worth saying, but not often enough to warrant a running commentary.

I enjoy reading the blogs of my friends, however, and the chance it gives me to keep up with what's going on in their lives. So I think I'll get one started here, without necessarily bothering to tell everyone just yet, and if I find I actually use it I'll spread the word then. My fear... fear? Naw, I don't worry about it that much... is that I'll likely post very infrequently, maybe just a few times a month. But it won't hurt me to have the outlet available. If it hurts you to read it, well, c'est la vie!