February 2011

LOUISIANA — Day 2

I don’t know anything about guns. I don’t particularly like guns. Guns make me nervous, and I generally stay as far away from them as possible. (Make love not war. Yes? Hello? Anyone?) But this was a special occasion. I was with my gun-toting relatives in Louisiana, and I’ll admit that I was curious to fire a few shots (at non-living targets).

Do you remember Armand from my previous entry? He cut open a 12-gauge shotgun shell to show me what was on the inside. Check it out:

One shell contains all those little pellets. You pull the trigger and — BOOM!!! — they all fly out at once. See those two orange things sitting on the table below the shells? Those are earplugs. Armand told me that I was gonna need them. Here he is showing me how to load shells into the gun:

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FYI, the woman wearing the red shirt is Armand’s mother Yvonne. She married my half-brother Henry in 2008.

I took aim at a white rectangular target (a piece of Styrofoam, I think) more than 100 feet away:

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Armand had warned me about the powerful jolt (aka “kick back”) that the gun would produce, but I was still stunned by the force. Look at my reaction after pulling the trigger:

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I should probably be embarrassed, but whatever. I was the person laughing the loudest when we all saw these pics. Here’s one more:

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Hell, I was even laughing at the time. Look at my reaction when Yvonne came to get the gun.

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Armand showed me how to use an even more powerful “goose gun” after that. Let me skip all the aiming/shooting pics and redeem myself with this epic image instead:

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Oh yeah.

(If only I’d actually hit the target. Maybe next time.)

Meanwhile, on the porch:

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Back inside, there was a beautiful king cake waiting to be consumed:

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See the teeny plastic baby in the crevice near the yellow sprinkles? That’s part of the fun of eating a king cake. Someone “hides” the baby inside the cake (by wedging it in from the bottom), and then whoever ends up getting it in their piece has to throw the next party, or at least provide the next cake. My mom ended up getting the baby, so I guess everyone has to come visit us in New York City.

While eating the cake, this was the view behind me:

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Speaking of New York City, it felt like I was a million miles away. I’m telling you, it’s like I was on another planet. I mean, who has a horse roaming around in their backyard? Who even has a backyard?

We all headed out in the late afternoon…

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…and wouldn’t you know it? The whole town was gearing up for another Mardi Gras parade:

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But first, we all had dinner. Check out the following pic, and I’ll tell you down below who everyone is:

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1) my mother Naomi

2) my half-sister (from my dad‘s first marriage) Martha

3) my half-brother Henry

4) Henry’s wife Yvonne

5) Yvonne’s mother Miss Julie

6) Yvonne’s father John (who was the mayor of Sunset, Louisiana for 42 years)

7) Yvonne’s sister Denise

8) Yvonne’s 13-year-old son Armand

Look at my lovely food:

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(You knew it was coming.) I had a fried catfish sandwich with an order of cheddar grits, and it was outstanding.

It was time for the parade.

There were bands…

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…and floats…

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…and we all got an absurd amount of beads:

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No one, however, got more beads than the “official Mardi Gras tree.” Take a close look at it by clicking the photo below:

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After the parade, Henry took us to a place called La Poussiere, which sounds like it could have been somewhat debaucherous, but no, it was an “Authentic Cajon Dancehall.” See?

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It was tough to take photos inside because it wasn’t well lit, but here you go anyway. First, here’s the bar:

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Here’s the space itself:

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As you can kind of see, there were picnic-like tables surrounding the dance floor.

Here’s a a shot (actually a screen shot from a video) of people dancing:

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It was so damn sweet. Most of the couples were twice my age and looked like they’d been married forever. And once again, I felt like I was in another world. There was a popular Cajun/Creole band called the Pine Leaf Boys playing live music, and people were dancing up a storm. The whole scene was so far beyond my reality that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself except love it and soak it in.

I was wearing my beads the whole time, and they were really heavy. They were giving me a stiff neck, and my back was also starting to ache, and if you think I’m exaggerating and being wimpy, all I can say is look at the next photo. It shows the markings on my neck after I took off all the beads:

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Yow.

And that’s it, at least for Day 2. I’m already back home and working on my final (Day 3) entry from the trip. More soon…

LOUISIANA — Day 1

Yesterday morning, I flew with my mom from New York City to Memphis, Tennessee. My half-sister Martha, who lives in Memphis, met us there, and the three of us flew to Lafayette, Louisiana to visit my half-brother Henry and his family.

Henry picked us up at the airport. Here he is:
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We met up with Henry’s wife Yvonne and her 13-year-old son Armand. (If you’ve been reading this blog for a couple years, you might remember everyone from 5/18/09 at Dodger Stadium. If you’ve only been reading it for a month, you’ll probably remember Martha and my mom from Barbados.) The six of us then went to a Mardi Gras parade in New Iberia. The crowd started gathering early:
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An hour later, the parade still hadn’t started, and people were still standing around. Here’s a photo I took from a second-floor balcony:
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Finally the parade got underway:
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There were lots of young/aspiring beauty queens riding by on the tops of cars…
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…and of course there were lots of beads being thrown into the crowd. Here I am with some of them:
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My snagging skills definitely came in handy. I caught so many necklaces that I gave a bunch away and still had all of these left over:
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Here I am with Martha and Henry:
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After the parade, we headed to the nearby apartment of one of Yvonne’s friends. Here’s everyone sitting around:
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When we went back outside, the street was deserted:
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See the photo above? Okay…check out my laptop in the photo below:
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The six of us went to a restaurant, and while we waited for the food, I went through all my photos. The food, BTW, was my seventh meal of the day. I started with a bacon/egg/cheese stromboli at the airport in New York. Before landing in Memphis, I ate a turkey/gouda wrap that I’d brought on the plane. In the Memphis airport, I ate a large order of BBQ baked beans. On the flight to Louisiana, I ate a protein bar. Before the parade started, four of us went for sushi; I got a roll with crawfish and crab and cucumber and avocado and spicy mayo, along with an order of edamame. Then, at the home of Yvonne’s friend (when I was already stuffed and it was half an hour before dinner), I ate cheese, crackers, spinach/artichoke dip, quiche, king cake, and a kumquat. And finally at dinner, I ate a cup of chicken/sausage gumbo and a caesar salad…and most of an order of bread pudding with meringue, which was supposed to be shared equally, but which everyone else was too stuffed to even look at.
Oof.
Henry and Yvonne’s house is old and funky and incredible. I’ll take some pics today, but for now, I can only show you what I photographed last night, namely my makeshift bedroom:
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Their house is located between two very small towns called Arnaudville and Grand Coteau. We are truly in the middle of nowhere, at least compared to what I’m used to, and FYI, if you plan to say “Arnaudville” aloud, know that the dee is silent.
Did you notice my beads in the photo above? Here’s a closeup:
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Isn’t that pretty? My favorite is the one with the golden dice. I might be able to make use of it at costume parties back home.
After photographing the beads, I went to the bathroom for five minutes to…you know…brush my teeth and take out my contacts and…well…anyway, when I returned my bedroom, this is what I saw:
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Not only was there a one-eyed dog named Bubbles (half-chihuahua, half-poodle) wrestling with a stuffed animal on my pillow, but Armand had placed two gigantic guns on the bed. Armand really likes guns. I mean, he really REALLY likes guns. It’s a bit frightening. We might shoot them today.

MLB Dreamjob

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails this week about the new MLB Dreamjob position. Here’s a screen shot from MLB.com:

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These emails have come from friends who’ve essentially been asking, “Have you heard about this job?!” and “You’re going to apply for it, right?!”
The answer is…I don’t know what to do. The list of qualifications describes me perfectly — no problem there — but there’s one responsibility that wouldn’t really work. It’s the second one on the list: “Must be present in the location to observe all MLB regular season and postseason games during the 2011 season.” Sounds like fun, right? I’m probably going to be watching most of those games anyway. But it also sounds like I wouldn’t get to leave NYC or attend any games. This, of course, would be a major problem. My new book is coming out in 13 days, and although I haven’t yet booked any trips for this season or even looked at the MLB schedule, I’m planning to travel all over the place and attend lots of games and promote it and raise more money for Pitch In For Baseball. I just don’t see how the “dreamjob” would actually fit in with my life at this moment. Or maybe I should just shut up and go for it? And if I’m lucky enough to get chosen, I could worry about the details later?
I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. What should I do? Are you applying for this job too? I think it’s pretty cool that MLB is doing this.

More book reviews

It’s only 20 days until The Baseball officially comes out, and there are a few new book reviews. The biggest one just appeared on About.com. Here’s a screen shot of the first part of it:

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Click here to read the whole thing, and FYI, baseballs have 108 stitches, not 104 as the writer mentioned in the first paragraph. (Duh.) Big thanks to my friend Todd Cook for sending me the link. I might not have seen this otherwise.
Several days ago, another review appeared on a Dodgers blog called “Vin Scully Is My Homeboy.” Here’s a screen shot…
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…and here’s the review itself.
Ready for one more? A teenage baseball fan (whose name happens to be Zac) reviewed the book on his blog called “All Things Pirates: Breaking Down the Buccos.” Here’s the first part of the review…
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…and here’s the rest of it. Good stuff.
In other media news, I was interviewed today for nearly two hours by a graduate journalism student from Columbia University. He has to write one story per week for one of his classes, and the stories usually end up hitting the national news wire, which means that bigtime newspapers sometimes pick them up. His story about me won’t be ready for a few weeks, so I’ll post an update if I hear anything.
****UPDATE****
Moments after I posted this entry, my publisher sent me this:
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Hot damn! Booklist is pretty big in the publishing world, so this is great. They reviewed my last book four years ago and said nice things then too. Can’t wait to read more reviews. Let me know if you see any. Sometimes I miss stuff.

Book update No. 30 — final copies

Look what I got:

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That’s right, baby — final copies of my new book, The Baseball, which is coming out one month from today.
Several days ago, a teenage baseball fan named Matt (who often leaves comments here as “mhbaseball”) wrote a review of the book on his blog. Here’s a screen shot of the first half of it:
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Click here to read the rest of this (awesome) review on Matt’s blog.

Website tweaks

I don’t often make big changes to my website. Usually I’ll just post pics to the photos page, or add a new line to my game log or update a few other snag-related lists, like this and this and this.

Well, I made a pretty big change this week. I’ve actually been working on my site nonstop for several days, and although the overall design looks the same, some of the content has been reorganized.
You know how there are eight main links at the top? I replaced the “Watching Baseball Smarter” link…
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…with one that simply says “Books.” Check it out:
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Now that I have a new book coming out (in 32 days!), it didn’t make sense to feature Watching Baseball Smarter. If you go to any page on my site and still see the old link at the top, try refreshing it, and if you still see it after that, let me know. It’s possible that I missed it somewhere. (In general, if you find any broken links, either on my blog or website, please let me know.)
Recently, if you did click the “Watching Baseball Smarter” link, you’d end up on a page that looked like this:

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Now that page looks like this:
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Better, right? As you can see, I made the boxes bigger, picked a better image for the “Media” category, and replaced “Watch With Zack” with “Fan mail.” (FYI: I’ll still be doing Watch With Zack games this season; I’m just not promoting it on this page any more.)
I also changed the Baseball collection page. It used to look like this…
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…and then it briefly looked like this…
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…and now it looks like this:
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I realize this isn’t quite as pretty as the original page — that green book was rather eye-catching — but I think the content/organization is better this way.
I still need to tweak my FAQs and make some other small changes, but that’s pretty much it for now.
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