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Miranda. It's her birthday this month.
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June 2002 Archives

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June 30

Another morning of World Cup. Ronaldo saved us from penalty kicks with some beautiful goals. I stayed with Univision after the end of the game to see the presentation. My favorite shot was Marcos kneeling on the goal line, Brazilian flag draped like a cape, arms out in supplication, looking like some Pre-Columbian potentate invoking the gods. Telemundo selected my favorite goal, the bicycle kick by Edmilson of Brazil against Costa Rica as only the third best of the tournament. Congratulations to USA captain and Sunderland midfielder Claudio Reyna for earning a spot on the all-star team.

I was surprised that the officials received medals as well. I concur with the kudos to Italian referee Pierluigi Collina. Not exactly the prettiest face, but he did his job effectively and with humor. He kind of looks like the Blue Men, but you know it's not an act.

Mary and Miranda went to a birthday party at South Germantown Recreational Park. They went through a water park area and Miranda had her caricature drawn. I stayed home and blobbed. I went out briefly to rent a DVD to see if my cable plan from yesterday would work. With some effort, it did.

I rented 61*, Billy Crystal's HBO movie about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961. I liked it. I still like Eight Men Out better for historical baseball, maybe because it is less sentimental. At heart, Eight Men Out is a working man story and Sayles is a staunch unionist. At heart, 61* indulges Billy Crystal's childhood hero worship of Mickey Mantle.

We finished watching Mary Poppins. Whitlock and I both saw this movie very early in our lives. Later as adults, the characters of Mary and Bert seemed to reflect our attitudes. At heart we are big children, with occassional masks of respectability. At one time, we considered wearing the "Jolly Holiday" costumes from the animated section as our wedding outfits. At one time, I considered the film sort of cyberpunk because of its technophilic attitude to industrial smokestacks, but now I think it's more an early urban fantasy. Julie Andrews truly deserved her Academy Award as a sympathetic, yet credible cypher, all in the context of a fantastic musical. Again, I marveled at "Stay Awake," the contrary lullaby. This time I was noticing the minor keys, (D minor?) in "Chim Chim Cher-ee," an ostensibly happy lyric in an unhappy tune. So years after first seeing it, I marvel at how much more I discover in a subsequent viewing.

Miranda at a picnic table.June 29

Long day. I started by cutting the grass, then watering it. Then I went inside to watch Turkey and South Korea. Neither ESPN nor ABC showed the game live so I resorted to Univision, which the real fans say is the real World Cup network. Even there, you can't get away from the Verizon Can-you-hear-me guy. After the game I turned off the sprinklers and went grocery shopping. After grocery shopping, I took Miranda out for a father-daughter picnic. Okay, I bought McDonald's and ate at the Sally Ride picnic tables, but what does she know from picnics? After a short rest at home, we went to Lakeforest to get a cable so we can watch DVD's from the computer on the big TV. At night, all three of us watched Mary Poppins. Miranda started to fall asleep during the singing of "Stay Awake" so we decided to stop and pick it up from there tomorrow.

June 28

Last week Dan Le Batard observed the anonymity of Vladimir Guerrero. He lays the blame on the media and fans who refuse to accept a player unless he speaks English. First, the article portrays Guerrero as a loner, even among the Latin American players on the Expos, so his separateness may be partially intentional. I mean, I would prefer a boatload of money and anonymity to a boatload money and not being able to eat in public in the expensive restaurants I can now afford. Secondly, Hideo Nomo and Ichiro Suzuki haven't given interviews in English, but their endorsements and public adulation have never suffered in the United States. I have zapped to Univision and found Juan Gonzales doing a commercial in Spanish, so alternate endorsement opportunities exist. Finally, Le Batard himself, as a Hispanic reporter, has a responsibility to bring Latin superstars to light. In the distant past, newspaper reporters served as de facto publicity agents for the stars. He and other Hispanic reporters could do the same and if they paint the players vividly enough, the Anglo media will gladly pick up the story.

It's June and it's time to think about Christmas ornaments. Yeah, right. I do admit to being one of those who look forward to Hallmark's Dream Book. I only buy a handful of ornaments, not like some other Christmas-obsessed people I've never told you about. This ornament called Kindred Spirits might be interpreted as lesbian, although it depicts just close female friends. Close heterosexual male friends don't tend to give each other ornaments. Gay males probably look here or here for tree decorations.

Just one more thought on the death of John Entwistle. Back in 8th grade, my junior high relieved a science teacher named Joe Acanfora to administrative duties when they discovered his homosexuality. The school system found out when the state of Pennsylvania reinstated him to duties they relieved him from the year before. The school replaced Acanfora with a recent Vietnam vet named John Entwistle. Rebelling from the restraints of the military, Entwistle wore his old army jacket, but grew his dark blonde hair to shoulder length. Think Peter Frampton, but with heavy-lidded eyes and only a two-watt grin.

June 27

Yesterday the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. I'm sure when it gets to the Supreme Court, it will be overturned. Left and right, we've got more important things to worry about. The same people who added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance also add "born and unborn" to the end everytime they say it.

John Entwistle, bass player for the Who died. I knew in junior high and high school a bass player named Cragg Entwistle who hadn't heard of John until about 8th grade. I got into the Who in college but always pictured myself as the Daltrey sort.

Some sports reporters claim that the Rockets shouldn't be called the Ming Dynasty since their first round pick's family name is Yao. But couldn't we call the three-year-run in Los Angeles the Shaq Dynasty?

June 26

Bonds and Kent have downplayed their little dugout scuffle. I'm sure a lot worse goes on that we never hear about. The morning boys at ESPN Radio and their listeners gave Bonds the Just Shup Up Award for this statement from over the weekend.

"It's entertainment," he said. "It will come back. A lot of companies go on strike, not just baseball. And people still ride the bus."

There's a little arrogance to comparing ballplayers to busdrivers. However, he's right. The fans will come back.

Blew bubbles on the front porch this evening with Miranda. When Mommy came home it was her turn to catch lightning bugs out back.

June 25

Never mind. Common sense comes to Peruggia.

Saw an article that Mark McGwire has married St. Louis pharmaceutical sales representative Stephanie Slemer. Put this next to the Father's Day story on Jeff Torborg. First the manager's son is the strength and conditioning coach as well as performing in a profession well-known for widespread steroid use. Now, the one-time single-season home run king, long suspected of supplement use, marries a drug dealer. Doesn't anyone else see how bad this looks?

June 24

Tom Bowell writes about how steroids are destroying baseball. As far as he's concerned, cheating Babe Ruth is worst crime of all. In my mind, cheating is an operational problem for baseball, just like a corked bat or a scuffed ball. Certainly, much has been made of the owners actually encouraging steroids, because they increase the home runs that increase the gate. Ultimately, the owners will have to ban it because one day, a player with cancer traced to steroids will sue MLB. That player will claim that competitive pressures required him to shoot up and the institution of baseball is responsible for his health problems. Players using steroids are cheating their fellow union members out of a job, but cheating Babe Ruth? That only exists in the minds of those who play the Field of Dreams games in their heads.

Some of us statheads thought that Tom Boswell was one of us, because he invented Total Average. Think of Bill James as a car enthusiast. He wants to soup up the car so that it works better. Hence he creates tools to do that. For Boswell, baseball is a religion and Total Average was just a new prayer. Players on steroids damage that prayer. Strange that traditionalists say sabermetricians worship numbers, when the reverse is more true. When new research reveals that a star player's single season or career totals are incorrect, who screams bloody murder that a corpse has been defiled with this truth? When I hear a number, I ask myself first, what does it mean?

As unpleasant as it may sound, baseball's history is rife with cheaters. No one takes away the Giants' 1951 pennant because Bobby Thomson knew what Ralph Branca was throwing. Very few argue the greatness of Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb because they never played against blacks. We have to use our minds, not just the statistics to evaluate players across eras. This problem will be taken care of or it will remain a part of the landscape. It's not the end of baseball as we know it.

Miranda in the tube at Sally Ride. June 23

Today is Miranda's real birthday. I took her out to the Sally Ride Elementary playground where she coaxed me onto the swing. My voice has the resonance frequency of the crawl-in tube so that whenever I speak inside it, the tube shakes. Later in the afternoon, Miranda played out on a waterslide, courtesy of our neighbors.

June 22

Today was Miranda's birthday party. Before the party started, I went to our nearby Hallmark store to get some helium balloons. The woman in front of me was buying some for her son's Spiderman themed party. As the Hallmark folks finished her order, one of them asked,"Is Spiderman on the ceiling?" You realize how funny that sounds. This store has a very high ceiling, with the illusion of being lower by a maze of metal supports. The Spiderman balloon was so high, they needed the same kind of extension pole I use to change lightbulbs in our house to retrieve Spiderman. The girl who got it even had to put tape on the pole.

We rented four tables and put the party in our breakfast area, as you can see in the picture. My parents, in the tradition of Thorsten Veblen, just came back from their Alaskan cruise to pull into our driveway in their brand new Mercedes. The kids started with decorating their own goodie bags. After that, I took them outside for bubbles. You don't see any pictures of the bubbles because I was too busy supervising that activity. After bubbles came cake and ice cream.

Four pictures. First, a happy birthday balloon on the mailbox in front of our house. To the right of that, Miranda blows out her candles. On the next row, the party moves to the sprinklers. On the bottom right, Driveway Beach.

When they finished, the kids went out to play in the sprinklers. Towels laid out on our driveway reminded me of the places at the University of Maryland where, mostly the girls, lay out in the sun. Any such location immediately became known as a "Beach," hence "South Chapel Beach," "Byrd Beach," "LaPlata Beach". So for a few minutes we had "Driveway Beach".

The mothers of the St. James kids thanked us for opening our "beautiful house" to so many rowdy kids. Most of those mothers live in Potomac with expensive furniture, so they hold their birthday parties outside the house. We have no expensive furniture. We spend our money on books.

June 21

Welcome to summer!

I watched the entire match with Germany. The U.S. looked great. The internet reporters say it was the best game they played in the entire tournament, despite the loss. Everyone knows Germany is better, but the U.S. was in the game throughout. I was surprised that Germany bunkered in under the 1-0 lead. Just one lucky bounce going the Yanks way and the game would have been entirely different. My fears of Donovan giving the ball away turned into Donovan kicking the ball out of bounds. The Germans did a pretty good job of shutting him down. Where did Tony Sanneh come from? John Harkes, Marco Etcheverry and Jaime Moreno were the goal scorers for the first two D.C. United champions, not Sanneh. Tony was undoubtedly the man of the match for the Yanks.

The line of players stampeding under a free kick must be one of the most spectacular sights in sports. Ten or more men, running in the same direction, in close quarters, maybe tugging on a jersey, angling to head the incoming ball either into the net or away to safety. I can't think of anything comparable in other sports. The trenches in football are more like upright wrestling. Speed here just means one guy will flatten the quarterback. A kickoff just involves the return team standing in the way of the kickers. A basketball fast break also only has a few people. Good tight shots of free kick stampedes should be standard fare for soccer montages, not just the goals.

June 20

Bob Ryan writes that if you're a sports fan, you must watch the United States play Germany on Friday. Well, I know I'm not a sports fan. For all the soccer-bashing sportswriters and media personalities out there, I'm completely comfortable with their ignorance, as long as they leave me alone. I won't obligate anyone to watch the World Cup, as long as they don't obligate me to watch Shaquille O'Neal back his way to the basket with the deliberateness and excitement of a tractor-trailer easing into a loading dock. Heck, Shaq should beep everytime he does that. I don't want to have to watch the Daytona 500, the Indy 500 or Le Mans. Tiger Woods may excite millions, but not me. The United States encompasses a huge sports world and some of us can only get excited about a small part of it. I do recommend that if you ever get a chance to see a World Cup match live, do it, even if you're not a soccer fan. It's a natural spectacle produced by unadulterated enthusiasm, not the calculated extravaganza Camden Yards specializes in. When I went to see Switzerland play Spain in 1994, it was like going to another country, although I'm not sure which one. Despite the on-field participants, plenty of the fans cheered nonetheless for teams not there. I saw people re-connecting with folks they met in other stadiums earlier in the tournament, like a month-long multi-city convention.

So why does the rest of the world embrace soccer so much? Of course, there's the difference in wealth. All soccer costs is the ball and a place to play. Also, American wealth and time enables a greater variety of sports to engage our interest.

Meanwhile, back in Italy, Peruggia has cut Ahn Jung-hwan for scoring the winning goal against the Italians. I'm sure there'll be a long line of other clubs all over the world ready to snatch Ahn up. That's the great thing about capitalism. You're free to be a moron and act as stupidly as possible and someone else will stand by ready to take advantage of that.

The press have been handing out as many bouqets to Landon Donovan as raspberries to Jeff Agoos, but sometimes Donovan gives the ball away too often. I'm afraid, he'll give up a short ball against Germany, just after he passes the midfield line. Then it'll be Klose one-on-one versus Friedel.

Craig Barker's blog is hoppin'. Today, he doesn't see a solution to the current trend of cutting mens sports in order to fund womens sports in accordance with Title IX. I have a thought. I've heard that football teams have 80 scholarships. Cut that to 53, the size of an NFL roster, and you'll have scholarships left over for wrestling, mens gymnastics, or baseball. Please correct me if that data is incorrect.

Thanks to Craig for adding me to his blog list. In a forehead-slapping moment, I realized James Quintong is of Filipino ancestry.

This is third hand, but it's great. Nerds Rule!

June 19

Craig Barker has a poll asking Who is the best looking redhead celebrity of all time? Given that his audience presents themselves as heterosexual males, the answers he gives are all female. On the other hand, how many redheaded males end up on People's 50 Most Beautiful? David Caruso is the only name that comes to mind.

John Saraceno has a cow. Steroids are definitely a problem. But it's not the most unforgiveable sin in baseball. Steroids are not worse than fixing games like the 1919 Black Sox. Steroids are not worse than the owners colluding to fix salaries in the 1980s. Steroids are not worse than keeping black ballplayers out of organized ball. Steroids are not even worse than the Red Sox waiting 75 years to award the 1918 team their World Championship pins. Steroids are not worse than blackmailing cities for public money to build stadiums. Compared to these ills, steroids pale in comparison.

June 18

Today was Miranda's kindergarten graduation. Boy does that sound pompous. However, Miranda had a great time singing a solo on "Friends" and dancing to "Best Years of Our Lives". They sang "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" but left out the lyrics that bothered me. They sang "America the Beautiful" as well. She's grown up a lot, introducing her friends to her parents and grandmothers.

June 17

How about that USA soccer team? With Agoos finally out of the picture, the defense held a little better. I didn't feel confident until after the second goal. I knew the victory was in hand after the ejection. However, I sensed desperation when Luis Hernandez entered the game. I remember him playing briefly for the L.A. Galaxy. He was supposed to be a league savior for his fancy scoring skills. In fact, he acted like your classic over-the-hill foreigner the NASL used to have. He figured he could get by on his fading skills because the MLS was in the United States where they didn't play good soccer. He found out quickly he couldn't cut it. I laughed when he got a yellow card for diving.

June 16

For Father's Day, Miranda sang at Rockville United Methodist Church. For the first time I could actually pick out her voice, she sang that loud. She looked at the balcony to keep from being made nervous by the audience. Afterwards, I bought some belts with some gift certificates and had spinach spaghetti for dinner.

ESPN showed a cute Father's Day profile of Jeff Torborg and his son Dale. Dale is the Strength and Conditioning Director for the team as well as wrestler in the XWF as the Demon. He paints his face up like Gene Simmons from Kiss with full permission. Now it's an open secret that pro wrestlers take steroids and we don't care. Some baseball players take steroids and we do care. Does it look good for a baseball team to be not just hiring the manager's son as a strength coach, but for that son to be moonlighting in a field where they're probably taking steroids?

June 15

The taping for Silver Screen Test went well. We went back to the buzzer system for this show. Most important thing to remember for next time (August 24, if you're interested): enough contestants for two shows and all the character graphics done beforehand. The studio was too cold for scorekeeper Adam Fine who went back to his house to change out of short sleeves and short pants. Many thanks to my crew: Jimmy Albert, Yen-Ming Chen, Adam Fine, Oscar Janssen, Cameron Jones, Bob Mattia, Carolyn Murphy, Ally Potter and Larry Sheingorn.

Today was the day the Mets were to get back at Roger Clemens for hitting Mike Piazza in the head by hitting him. Sean Estes missed. Rob Dibble called him a clown tonight, said he wasn't a man. To Dibble, a real man is Dock Ellis. Dibble's idea of a real man dropped acid before he pitched.

June 14

Took the day off to prepare for tomorrow's taping of Silver Screen Test. Saw the disaster that was the USA game versus Poland. Either Jeff Agoos got a fortunate injury or one that put him on the bench. I guess now South Korea has paid us back for saving them from the Communists. I'll be too busy working on my show to see the "back door" comments coming from the sportswriters before the Mexico game.

James Katz, John Buckley and Patrick Thorpe helped Larry Sheingorn and I put up the buzzer system for tomorrow's show. To Larry, it seemed a lifetime ago since he last put it together, but it seemed idiot proof. Of course, October 2000, when he last assembled the set, was before his cancer treatment. In the meantime, I've moved from Montgomery Village to Germantown. Everyone else has endured the new world after September 11.

June 13

These days when I update the blog sporadically is when Matt Bruce chooses to put links to Eucalyptus on his site. A long time ago, when he used to look like Landon Donovan, Matt played for the Booker T. Washington quizbowl team from Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were a power at the National Academic Championship, winning it all in 1992. I sat with his coach, Dr. Andy Zaller and talked baseball while Matt soaked it all in. I must have been 27-29 at the time and I was in shock when he'd call me Mr. Barrientos. Now he's 27, working at both question writing and computers. He's also still looking for Miss Right and when I read his travails I think,"There but for the grace of God go I." All those married men who wish they were single again sure don't include me. I couldn't endure the torture of dating again.

June 12

My sister Bea, her husband Greg, and their two children Victoria and Ian came over tonight. To stop Miranda from lollygagging at school, I told her we were having a surprise visitor. She made many guesses on the way home, including the correct one, but I never let on. I didn't tell Whitlock, but she had the correct guess in mind when we got home. Miranda was still pretty upset when I refused to tell her. I promised from then on, either to tell her who was coming, or not to tell her at all. They came tonight to bring folding chairs from my parents' house for Miranda's birthday party as well as a graduation dress my mother bought.

June 11

Travels with Brick: Milwaukee

I spent a few days in Milwaukee on a side trip with my parents after visiting Chicago. My strongest impression was that the walk lights actually gave you time to cross the street before changing.

June 10

Like a good patriotic fan, I got up at 2:15 to watch the US play South Korea. Jeff Agoos won three MLS Cups with DC United and one more as captain of the San Jose Earthquakes last year, but he has to sit down. The Koreans did a speedskating celebration to protest the medal they lost to Apollo Ohno in Salt Lake City. I think to a lot of Americans, this falls into one of those empty mis-firing attempts at rubbing salt. Sort of like being called the slur of a totally different ethnic group. You know you're supposed to be insulted, but you just can't work up the bile to be offended. Now if two players stretched their arms out, pretending to be airplanes, and knocked down two teammates standing still, now that would be offensive.

The winners of the Washington phase-Horace
Greeley from Chappaqua, NY-Dylan Kellogg, Sara
Sheer, Dan Adler and Philip Levitz.June 9

Worked with Jason Russell this morning. What were probably the only two diasters of the weekend took place today. In one case, a set of questions were duplicates from a previous day. We ended up substituting later rounds until a new set was loaded into the computers. In the other one, a particularly badly written question ended up being the last one for a close match. We eventually decided to to substitute a question and I think both teams felt they were fairly treated.

The runners-up of the Washington phase-Edison
from Huntington Beach, CA-Solomon Chao, Kha Lai,
Naveen Khan and Matt Boese.In a toss-up where the answer was Ebonics, a team guessed Elizabethan English.

Horace Greeley defeated Edison 385-335 in the final match. Congratulations to Dan Adler, Dylan Kellogg, Philip Levitz, Dan Recht, Sara Sheer and coach Dr. Melanie Weinstein. Kudos also to the Edison crew - Matt Boese, Solomon Chao, Jeffrey Goodman, Naveen Khan, Kha Lai and coach Linda Carpenter. For the complete results, check the Questions Unlimited web site.

The clock I receivedDuring the introduction of the officials, Chip presented me with the pictured clock on a plaque commemorating my 20 years of service with the NAC. The inscription reads,"20 Year Award Presented to Brick Barrientos For Your Enthusiasm and Dedication, Expertise and Professionalism in Serving as Judge and Moderator during all 20 Years of the National Academic Championship June, 2002".

Ed Pizarello, Ernie Anderson, Brooks Sanders and Dave HubermanJune 8

Former NAC player and moderator Dave Huberman paid us a visit. His throat has been too unreliable of late, so he's taken himself out of serving as a reader. By the way, Ed Pizzarello joined us as a reader this year, but I didn't get a chance to work with him.

A team was discussing which state(s) had the cardinal as their official bird. One of the members said,"Hey, there's the Arizona Cardinals!" I hope he doesn't believe the Mormon Tabernacle is a jazz group because of the Utah Jazz.

One question asked,"What did Fernando Tatis of the Cardinals do twice in the same inning in 1999 that had never been done before?" Someone buzzed in and answered,"Hit into a double play?" It took a minute to register with him how bad a guess that was.

After the matches, I showed Ernie Anderson and Jason Russell, the non-buzzer version of Silver Screen Test. Afterwards, I read a packet of Trash questions I had written for Beltway Bandits to them and the Tina and Brooks Sanders. Jason believed they were just a little bit too hard.

Tanya Govorun, Chip Beall and Ernie AndersonJune 7

Longest day of the the tournament with fourteen rounds of matches. We had two rounds even after dinner. It's still a shorter day than back in Dallas or Houston when we might have played until 9:00 pm.

More funny answers: The team was supposed to complete the sentence,"The Outland Trophy is given to the nation's outstanding interior..." College football fans know the answer is lineman. However the teams game the answers "decorator" and "designer".

One toss-up concerned determination of the dates of Easter, Ascension Thursday and Pentecost. A player buzzed in and I could hear his teammate say,"What did you buzz in for? You're Jewish, not Catholic!" I should have called them for conferring, but I was in too much shock after hearing that. He didn't know the answer.

Jason RussellJune 6

Worked with Brooks Sanders the first day. We found out that the sounds for right and wrong answers had too much of a delay in the 60-Seconds Round, so we dispensed with the sounds until after the timed period was over.

Jason Russell loaned me Win Shares. When I eventually get my copy, I must use it to revisit the analysis you've seen on this site.

Funny answers: One bonus question asked which cliche originated with some sailors' women sleeping beneath the cannons, sometimes giving birth there. The correct answer given was "Son of a gun." The team guessed,"Baby boomer".

An entire 60-seconds round was called "Mom Said It," consisted of finishing parental cliches like,"You won't get any dessert until your vegetables." We were instructed to be rather liberal with our judgement and the team swept the category.

Brooks said that in New Orleans, the team in his room failed to get the one that began,"Stop crying or..." The answer was,"I'll give you something to cry about." Apparently parents are no longer quite so harsh with their children. I just never tell Miranda to stop crying.

June 5

Pretty shocked at the USA soccer team performance versus Portugal. The best I was hoping for was a tie. I guess Bruce Arena has developed a counterattacking style, as opposed to the defensive bunker Steve Sampson and Bora put the team in before.

I went to work for half a day before heading to Marymount for the National Academic Championship. On the way, I heard Jim Rome talk about the game against Portugal. He called it a great day not just for U.S. Soccer, but for U.S. history, alongside D-Day and Apollo 11. He considers himself someone who grew up with the game, who understands its beauty, and put a soccer ball in his son's crib. In the summer of 1999, this same Jim Rome said the following upon MLS Commissioner Doug Garber's announcement that the championship trophy would be redesigned,"Nobody gives a rat's ass about your game. The greatest moment in your sport was the commercial where Kevin Garnett plays foosball with Brandy Chastain then says,'What's up with the shirt?' " Sometimes, I don't know what's worse - the writers who hate soccer and bash it every chance they get or hypocrites like Rome. I have a feeling if Rome were allowed to be on the air on September 11 he'd have said,"Osama rocks!"

The NAC staff spent most of the evening familiarizing themselves with the new computerized system. The questions were on laptops on Microsoft Access. The sounds, the music and official score were all kept on the computer. For the times we weren't practicing the system, we got to play on the questions in mock games.

June 4

Had a terrible reaction to some Chinese food so I stayed home. Did see both host teams in the World Cup make nice showings.

June 3

Travels with Brick: Chicago

I had an aunt, uncle, and two cousins in Chicago. They now live in Northern California. When we were kids they lived on the border of Chicago with Evanston. My cousins loved horror movies and we watched Creature Feature in the basement. Just a short distance away in Evanston was Mount Trashmore, a former landfill converted to a park. Chicago is very flat and whenever they came to visit us, they reveled in Maryland's mild hills, whether on skates or on a bike.

While passing through a trip west after high school graduation, I went to see the Treasures of Tutankhamun, that I didn't get to see six months earlier in Washington. I was particularly taken by the statue of Selket. I stood there captivated, as I might have for a more modern beautiful woman. The following year the trip to Chicago included a night at a time share a little further out west in Galena.

Whitlock and I went out to Worldcon in Chicago on memberships bought by Knossos for our wedding. For myself, I had to see the Kane County Cougars of the Midwest League who played in Geneva, Illinois. I went alone to see this club which was then a farm team of the Orioles. Led to the gravel parking lot, I parked bumper-to-bumper to the car in front of me. The parking lot attendant screamed like I was crazy. At Kane County, the fans parked in neat rows allowing easy exit for everyone. At that time, in the Memorial Stdaium parking lot, cars parked bumper-to-bumper to shoehorn in more vehicles. If you decided to leave, but the cars immediately arround you were still there, you couldn't go. You had to wait for one of them to leave before you could slip out. Little did they know in Geneva, that's not the way things were done at the big club. The Cougars honored Bill Veeck that night and his wife was a guest of the radio broadcast. I listened to the broadcast on my Walkman and could see them in the press box from my seat. Even though I went alone, it was like having a great companion to hear baseball stories from. Greg Zaun, nephew of Rick Dempsey played for Kane County and was nicknamed the "Z-Man". Oneri Fleita, one of favorite baseball names, was the Cougars coach. Fleita played two years earlier in Frederick and I believe he now heads Latin American operations for the Cubs.

For Whitlock, we went to Lincoln Park Zoo and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. The Lincoln Park Zoo had three koalas on loan from San Diego that we must have watched ofr an hour. At one point, one of the koalas was staring at us. I wonder if s/he saw Whitlock's new "Koala Chaos" t-shirt which displays Mandelbrot fractals in the shape of koalas. The Oriental Institute had huge winged figures from Khorsabad in the Assyrian Empire, the one used as symbols for the Assyrian side in Avalon Hill's Civilization. I thought about playing Civilization in that museum, last at night, after closing time, in front of that figure.

We also went to new Comiskey Park, as in last month's rememberance of George Alec Effinger. The weather in the windy city was pretty hot, it being August. But on the day of the game, on September 1, suddenly the weather got cold. As if the city looked at the calendar and said,"Summer's over. It's time for cold." As is well documented, the first row of the upper deck at New Comiskey is higher than the last row of the upper deck at Old Comiskey and rakes very steeply. The seats were near the right field foul pole, very close, relatively speaking, to where we sat for the first game at Camden Yards, 7 months later. With that close comparison, I can say confidently, that the Camden Yards upper deck is much closer to the field, given that Baltimore has only one level of luxury suites rather than three in Chicago. World-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster also pointed out public housing units clearly visible from our location. He said that was the lowest income census tract in the United States. Great what we spend our public money on in the United States, huh? In my opinion, new Comiskey is the worst park in Major League Baseball, even worse than the Metrodome. At least the Metrodome was really built for football. New Comiskey has no such excuses. The Metrodome has a personality, albeit a bad one. New Comiskey is just big, bland and boring. The game also was the second major league victory for Wilson Alvarez. I saw his first big league win a few weeks earlier, a no-hitter in Baltimore. I thought perhaps I could have convinced him to take me on as a good luck charm, given that I'd seen both of his wins.

The convention also arranged a field trip to Fermilab. I got a cool t-shirt decorated with symbols for various sub-atomic particles and quarks. I also wonder whether I should wear it to a tournament and give away too many answers. The bus ride back we sat with Toronto fans who complained about the futility of the Blue Jays who still hadn't won their two World Series.

Don't expect to find very much seafood in Chicago. In addition, the menus had several varieties of beef, pork, lamb, and veal, but only one variety of chicken. And that was just labeled nakedly as just "Chicken." The people of Chicago have that Midwestern friendliness. Although some service people were incompetent, they were nice about it.

June 2

World Cup time is back. Unfortunately, one needs to get up quite early to watch the games live. USA captain Claudio Reyna plays for Sunderland. Most of the rest of the other Sunderland players seem to play for Ireland so if there's a second favorite for me, it's them.

June 1

Bought some bookcases and, with the help of Bruce Beard, transported them up to our second floor library. Meanwhile, Whitlock took Miranda to a birthday party at Putt-Putt.

The Undertow... another pointless surfing metaphor ...

|1000 Blank White Cards|
|Stupid Plot Tricks|
|NHL Uniforms|
|Samuel L. Jackson Soundboard|
|Positive Atheism|
|T-Shirt Hell|
|What Really Happened|
|Avedon Carol|
|Craig Barker|
|The Five Most Profitable Companies in the Star Wars Galaxy|
|Jar Jar the Harvest Lord|
|Flick Filosopher|
|Upcoming Movies|
|Cinemarati Roundtable|
|Movie Review Query Engine|
|Apollo Movie Guide|
|Film Snobs|
|Man Who Viewed Too Much|
|Cozzi Fan Tutti|
|Deep Focus|
|Film Threat|
|Life and Art of Vern|
|Impact Impressions|
|SK Business Supplies|
|K.I. Express Specialty Paper|
|Hannah M.G. Shapero|
|Webby Award Nominees|

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Last revised June 30, 2002
© 2001, 2002 B. Barrientos