Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cat Scratch Sunday

Oops, missed annoying LL yesterday. Tragic!!!!

This seemed like a perfect picture considering the weather here has been fabulous - windows open and everything! So, in honor of spring (although it's more summery the past three days than spring-like) here's Boris sitting in an open window.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cat Scratch Saturday

This is Igor's favorite place to hang out when I'm in the shower. Directly to the right of where he's sitting is said shower. Schneider built the shelves in the wasted space between the end of the tub and the wall (my old apt. directly below did not have these handy-dandy shelves) and we all appreciate them. Boris likes to climb up on the very top (just above Igor's spot) and you can see where Igor likes to sit. I use the purple towel to protect the ones I actually use from becoming covered in black cat hair.

Today was as GORGEOUS day here in Michigan. I went out for Sander's hot fudge cream puffs with the OS, Mom and the Nephew's girlfriend (nephew was going to a geek fest). After the hot fudge decadence, we went to Grandma's condo to check out the stuff that was left. I hadn't gotten to go through her stuff the first time around because I was in SF and Vegas. I got some cool kickass old time ash trays that don't look like ashtrays but sweet glass sculptural bowls. I'll have to take a picture sometime to show you. Childhood memories.

I'm not feeling 100% so I'm going to bed. I do not need to get sick AGAIN! I'm tired of being sick.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Tribute to The Bird

NPR's story on the Bird. There's a nice comment at the bottom of the story telling yet another story about Mark's modesty, but there's a button at the top where you can listen, including a snipped of The Bird is the Word.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Go, Bird, Go!

I'm taking a page from the good doctor and telling you all about someone very important to Detroit who died yesterday. I'm talking about Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. He was the personification of joy and ebullience back in 1976 when he was The Rookie of Major League Baseball. If you never heard about The Bird, then you are missing out.

He was the reason I became interested in baseball. He was known for his quirkiness – talking to himself with the ball close to his mouth so it was generally accepted that he talked to the ball, grooming the mound with his bare hands between pitches, *running* to the mound, refusing to step on the white line. Stories are told that in the minors when the centerfielder would make a great catch, Mark would run out to centerfield to high five the centerfielder (or slap him on the back or in some other way thank him). Tigers management had to explain to him that that was not acceptable in the majors. Too bad, really. I would have loved to have seen him do it at Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers sucked in 1976 (they lost 103 games), but he won 19 games! He started the All-Star game. He went 7 innings on Opening Day. He pitched SIX complete games in a row (probably a good reason why his career flamed out so quickly as in 1977 he had shoulder and knee issues).

While he was an instantaneous star in Detroit from Opening Day, the nation didn't discover him until he took down the mighty Yankees during a nationally broadcast game on Monday Night Baseball in June. It didn't matter where he went that season, games sold out. Somebody told me earlier today that they remember when the team went to KC that summer, he wasn't scheduled to pitch, but they put an autograph table out there at 3rd base and he signed autographs for as long as the fans wanted…REMEMBER: this was NOT in Detroit. Unlike the high-priced ball players of today he never ever charged for appearances or autographs. And in his rookie year he made the league minimum - $16,500. However, the Tigers did give him a bonus of $25,000 at the end of his rookie season. They then signed him to a three-year contract worth $255,000 – not really an impressive sum of money when you think what players are paid now. It's sad how people like Mark Fidrych and Gordie Howe struggle to make ends meet when players in this day and age could retire after one friggin' year. (Sorry for the editorialising.)

He even had his own song here in Detroit – "The Bird is the Word" by the Trashmen. His picture was on every t-shirt in Detroit, to say nothing of the Sports Illustrated covers - with Big Bird (for whom he was nicknamed) and one from 1978 – even 30+ years ago SI sucked in knowing what was important – freaking Rookie of the Year in 1976 and they don't put him on the cover until he was already hurt in 1977.

Everybody who ever had the opportunity to meet The Bird only has good things to say about him – how friendly he was, how he would talk to anybody, especially about baseball, he'd sign anything, and how much he loved life. The quintessential story about Mark is how he said one time that if he hadn't made it in baseball at all, he would have been happy pumping gas back in Massachusetts. And after his short-lived baseball career was over, he went back to Massachusetts where he drove trucks and had a farm.

He was found yesterday dead under his dump truck, apparently, the truck slipped off its jack and crushed him. A friend found him. His career as a Detroit Tiger was over much too soon, as was his life. My prayers and thoughts to his wife and his daughter.

Here are a couple of good columns about Detroit's most beloved Tiger of all time:

From the Detroit News, about his serious side.

This story by Joe Lapointe of the NYT is one of the best. It takes registration at NYT, but it's free and it's worth it.

And while I'm mad at right now (all their official merchandise is made in China), they have a tribute page.

Another blogger has written his own very personal tribute about what Mark meant to him.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, everybody. I've ODd on Tootsie Rolls and deviled eggs. But I figured what the heck, I only get them once a year.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cat Scratch Saturday

This is my favorite picture of my beloved Tikal who I had to put to asleep back in May 2003 due to a tumor that attached his tongue to the bottom of his mouth so he couldn't eat. The day I put him to sleep was one of the worst days of my life. He was so sweet and a complete lap cat. At night he would sleep under the covers in my bed. When he'd want to go under the covers, he'd head-butt me until I lifted the covers. I was always worried that he was going to suffocate, but obviously never did. One time the YS stayed at my place when I went somewhere and after a couple of nights, she told me that Tikal was head-butting her at night but couldn't figure out why. "Oh yeah, he wants to be let under the covers." After that, she had uninterrupted nights of sleep.

Back in 2000 when the YS and I were driving my belongings and me back to Detroit from San Francisco in a big rented truck with Tikal in a carrier - at least to start. But we couldn't keep the poor sweetie in the carrier the whole time, so we let him out, hoping he'd sit on my lap, but he was a bit freaked out by the noise of engine and spent most of the first few days of the drive on the floor next to Aunt YS's feet (there was a separate little area in the wheel well on the driver's side). By the time we reached the Plains states, however, he was sitting on the seat between us and looking out the windscreen. Aunt YS played the license plate game with Tikal, and he won. He was excellent at spotting license plates and almost got all 50 of them. ;-)

The funniest part of the trip, however, was one time when he was sitting up looking out the windshield, we were approaching an overpass and as we passed underneath it Tikal totally ducked. It was hilarious. At the next overpass, he still ducked, but not to the extent of the first one. After that he figured it out and realised that the overpasses weren't dangerous, but that initial duck was so darn funny. I still miss him, even as much as I love Boris and Igor, Tikal holds a special place in my heart. He was a sweet boy.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Stand By Me

This moved me.

Stand By Me

Although there was an "embed" button, I couldn't get it to work. Trust me the click is worth it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Cat Scratch Saturday & March Books & Movies

Igor and Boris looking like they get along...silly boys.


11. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Soto - 340 pages - I love Audrey Hepburn. She was an unbelievable woman - living through WWII, dealing with the abandonment of her father, the coldness of her mother, etc. All she ever wanted in life was to be loved and to be a mother of many children. She ended up married to two men who did not appreciate her or love her the way she wanted to be loved. Such a sad story.

12. Mystery of Crocodile Island by Carolyn Keene (#55) - 180 pages - Nancy and friends left River Heights and its myriad mysteries for the Florida Keys and some bad guys owning a crocodile farm and smuggling illicit goods. I know this will shock you but she solved the mystery and avoided great danger to her and Ned.

13. The Thirteenth Pearl by Carolyn Keene (#56) - 179 pages - This is the last of the Nancy Drew books. She leaves the country with her father, Carson Drew, for Japan where she dresses in disguise as a Japanese girl (somehow the people she comes into contact with fall for it), figures out the key that will help her solve the mystery of the missing pearls once she gets back to River Heights where her friends help her once again. Whew, I was worried on this one. ;-)

14. The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes and Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients Ed. by Lucy H. Spelman, DVM and Ted Y. Mashima, DVM - 311 pages - The title of this book caught my eye as I do love rhinos, the subtitle convinced me to buy it. It contained great stories of vets figuring out what was wrong with their animal patients and how they cured them - at least most of them. It also had pictures of all the animals. I would definitely recommend this book to any animal lover, especially LL.

15. A Walk in the Woods By Bill Bryson - 274 pages - Somebody gave me this book years ago and told me it was very funny, but I had just never gotten around to reading it. After I read his Shakespeare book last month, I finally took it off the bookshelf. The person (whoever it was) who gave me the book did not steer me wrong. This book is one laugh after another and is about Bill Bryson's attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I actually know someone who has accomplished this particular feat and I've also hiked the last bit in Maine myself where I saw people who were finishing the AT themselves (some were nice, some were a bit snotty, as if they are better than day hikers). Whatever. I'd definitely recommend this book, even if you're not hiker (I don't consider myself to be a real hiker).


11. A Night To Remember - 1955 - Retroplex - I read the book that this movie was based on when I was in grade school (multiple times). I was fascinated by the Titanic story. While I hate the James Cameron/Leonard diCaprio movie, Titanic, I loved this movie, as it's based on the book by Walter Lord and he had interviewed many of the survivors to get as true a story as possible. I cried throughout The Night to Remember which I did not do at all during Titanic.

12. Ratatouille - 2007 - Encore - I have a thing for animated films, but I hadn't seen this when it came out. I thought this was very cute. The concept is a rat that has a thing for cooking shows and ends up in a Paris restaurant where he helps the true owner (but we don't know that yet) take over the restaurant from the mean guy. If you haven't seen it, and it's shows up on cable, definitely check it out.

13. Coffee and Cigarettes - 2003 (N) - This marked the end of my Jim Jarmusch phase and I have to say that I bloody well hated this movie. It was all I could do to finish watching it. And it had Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Steven Wright, Roberto Benigni and Kate Winslett in it. Premise was a series of vignettes where people meet over cigarettes and coffee, not a horrible premise, but it was horrendously boring and I wanted to slap people. Honestly, it had Iggy Pop in it and I hated it.

14. Slumdog Millionaire - 2008 (Star-Sfld) - I don't see many movies in the theatre, but I really wanted to see this one, so I went one Sunday with Pamela after she cut my hair. I didn't know much about it (i.e., the violence and torture), except that it was about a slum kid in India who gets on their version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I quite liked it.

15. Velvet Goldmine - 1998 (N) - I had been wanting to see this movie again for some time, especially after reading the Iggy Pop biography. I have to say that knowing more about Iggy gave me a new perspective on the movie. It's not a bad movie, but it didn't work for me as well as it had before. Sometimes too much knowledge can take away the enjoyment of a thing.

16. MacGyver - Season 2 - I love MacGyver.

Book of the Month: This is tough...the Audrey Hepburn book was great, but it was sad. The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes was fabulous, but Walk in the Woods was hilarious. I'm going with A Walk in the Woods.

Movie of the Month: A Night To Remember - See it...especially if you think DiCaprio's Titanic was good.

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