For much of the past five years or so Thursday nights have been bowling night for me.
I have tried other sports through the years and despite the lasting sting of being cut from my high school bowling team as a freshmen bowling seems to be the one that stuck and was also the one I went back to after each of my stints attempting other sports.
My first foray into team sports was a couple of seasons on the Gaithersburg, MD Recreation League soccer circuit. I enjoyed the strategy of the game and the cat and mouse dynamic between the goalie and the strikers trying to score.
Okay, to be honest I was like 4 or 5 when I played soccer and I basically just remember the half time orange wedges.
I also remember that in two years of playing the only time my team scored a victory was on Father
Recently it was announced that the Food Network was cutting ties with personality Paula Deen in response to a deposition she gave where she admitted to using a certain word in the past.
The word in question was uttered several decades ago, yet the fallout was swift in the part of the Food Network despite Deen stating that she no longer uses the word and has not since it was deemed offensive.
Lost in the debate is the fact that the word is still widely used without any penalties on one side of the tracks yet it is considered career suicide to use it on the other.
Vocabulary needs to be either for all or for none. There cannot be words that only certain members of society can freely use and others cannot.
In terms of this particular word I personally think that it should not be used at all due to the offensive nature of it. To say that a word is only offensive when uttered by people who look a certain way does not work.
As a journalist I am a huge fan of the First Amendment and related freedom of speech clause contained therein. Without that freedom the job of the press would be greatly impacted. But of course that freedom does not encompass all language and does not mean a freedom from reaction to the words spoken. We have the freedom to say things but others have the freedom to react either favorably or negatively to what is said with that freedom.
Following the announcement of Deen losing her Food Network position, countless fans have rallied to her side and protested the decision.
About this time last week I was able to do something that I had never done before.
It was not that I had never wanted to do this particular thing. In fact I had often thought about how fun it would be to try.
Still despite my best efforts and desires I had never found myself with the opportunity to grill my own dinner.
Of course I have cooked my own dinner numerous times and actually enjoy coming up with new creations but the pivotal manly event of cooking over either a propane or charcoal grill with visible flames had eluded me.
I mean some people would say that guys are born to grill from the womb with generations of instincts rattling around through them dating back to the first fire discovering cave men.
Others might think that a man of my age who had never actually harnessed those generations of innate fire cooking skills is not really living up to their full manly potential.
It is hard to say how it is that I got so far in life without ever being head griller. There were just always others around who would do the cooking.
And of course apartment living did not always make for the best open flame situations so I did get to be quite good at George Foreman Grill cooking.
In the spirit of full disclosure I had cooked over an open flame before with Smores and campfire hot dogs but I am talking about never firing up the grill and having an honest to goodness All American barbecue where it is man versus grill.
Of course as is often the case one needs to be careful what they wish for.
While burgers, steaks and other red meat delights tend to be the go to carnivorous treats for cooking over open flame, my grilling debut experience included jumbo shrimp and fish fillets.
As they say about what to do when in Rome, it seemed more fitting for seafood grilling when overlooking a pool and hearing the sounds of the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.
Knowing that the shrimp were likely so fresh that they were still swimming and doing what shrimp do a day ago was also a bonus to the entree choice.
Of course, fresh seafood can be way less forgiving on a grill than say a huge hunk of meat.
So I knew that my seafood would require constant supervision and a keen eye to avoid it getting too rubbery or over cooked.
What I did not know was how difficult it would be to get the all-important cooking flame going at the start of the process.
While I had witnessed many a time on the grill this was my first attempt at actually starting the fire making process.
So armed with charcoal and an Aim in Flame I went down to the grill to get the fire started.
Now in my mind I pictured a quick shot of the Aim in Flame followed by glorious full spreading fire that would be the start of the process.
I have never had much luck with using paper matches. Not sure why that is but they always seem to give me fits. So with the Aim in Flame I knew the spark to start the fire would likely not be an issue.
Unfortunately the charcoal I had to work with was the non-presoaked kind so it involved lighter fluid as well as spark.
After numerous attempts to get the full range of charcoal burning and applying copious amounts of lighter fluid I just could not get the full glorious flame that I had seen in my previous observations of grilling.
After switching to presoaked charcoal though I was able to get the flame going and was one step closer to putting the food on the cooking surface.
Once the charcoal turned a lovely shade of gray it was time to foil up the cooking surface and place the Old Bay seasoned food upon it.
Just for the record Old Bay goes great on pretty much everything.
Of course I forgot another crucial step in the cooking delicate seafood on foil approach and that was the use of non-stick cooking spray.
Growing up I did not see a lot of non-stick cooking spray used so it did not really dawn on me that things could stick.
So, some of the seafood stuck to the foil and some of it did not.
Then when it came time to flip the items over for even cooking it became clear to me that I was missing the crucial grilling tongs and other utensils that are often found where grilling is taking place.
So instead of longer tongs with insulated handles I was forced to use regular all metal kitchen tongs which had me closer to the fire than I would have liked.
Each day just like clockwork the sun rises and the sun sets.
Okay, technically the sun stays in the same spot and the earth just rotates around on its axis to give the appearance of setting and rising but it is nice to think of a rising and a setting sun as opposed to a spinning wildly earth whipping through the solar system.
Of course saying that the earth moved around the sun as opposed to the other way around was once cause for severe punishment as it went against the commonly held beliefs of the day.
But thanks to people like Copernicus it was finally determined that we earthlings are in fact moving through space across the solar system dragging our little buddy the moon around the sun.
There were of course the believers in a flat versus round earth as well but those theories were also debunked through science and exploration.
Despite this lack of actual rising and setting of the sun, people tend to flock around to see the beginning and end of each day.
To help make that even easier to do the weather forecast each day includes a listing of a time for both sunrise and sunset.
Of course the listing of sunrise and sunset times tend to be geared more towards farmers and people who need to know how many hours of daylight they have to tend their field, but you don’t have to be a farmer to appreciate knowing when the sunrise and sunset will occur.
Truth be told I have seen way more sunsets than sunrises over the course of my life.
If memory serves I have actually seen sunsets on three continents and a few island nations here and there.
I have nothing against sunrises per se, it is just that I am usually either asleep or in the shower when the sun is doing its morning light show each day.
Of course, there are people who are the opposite and for them I do feel their pain for rising so early to be up before the sun.
On the days when I do see a sunrise it is certainly worth seeing but I certainly wouldn’t want to make a habit of it.
Sunsets on the other end are quite a different thing and during the spring and summer months I see the sunset daily on my way home as my commute has me pointed west each evening.
Of course nothing quite compares to a sunset on the beach and during a recent week on the beaches of Manatee County, FL I was able to see many nice sunsets over the water.
And, take it from me sunsets are best observed over water if one has the option of where to view them.
I knew that there were people who enjoyed watching sunsets over water as I do and I have been on enough beaches through the years to see the people gathered, but my recent week on the water showed a sunset watching club like I had never seen before.
After spending the day battling the rays of the sun under the cover of sunscreen and umbrellas dozens upon dozens of people strolled to the waterline each night to watch the sun fall beneath the water.
Some of these sunset worshipers bore the telltale pinkness of losing that day’s battle with the sun as they ventured to the shore for the evening viewing.
Perhaps it was sunscreen that wore off, or maybe it was from no sunscreen at all but the signs of what the sun can do to unprotected skin were everywhere along the shore.
The image of the beauty of the sunset paired up with the vicious burn and scent of aloe was quite the combination. It was almost a game of sun roulette with those not yet burned taunting the sun to try and get them another day.
Despite my best efforts of remaining free of the redness of the sun I bore two small marks on my arms from the sun’s rays pushing beyond the sunscreen barrier. The burns will heal and will likely not peel but they certainly do not take away from the beauty of the sunset.
As the sun is setting the shore comes alive with various creatures of the deep coming to feed. It can also be a good time to look for seashells and also just to unwind from the day and get refreshed for the day to come.
So if you ever find yourself on a western facing beach around sunset by all means take in the show and watch the parade of people watching it along with you.
And of course if you are ever on an eastern facing beach and get the urge to watch a sunrise they are equally impressive.
And for all of those late sleepers and snooze button hitters out there who want to see a sunrise without actually getting up in the predawn hours you can always just take a video of a sunset and then play it backwards to get the full sunrise affect.
Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of the release of a movie about the ins and outs of Minor League Baseball.
The movie that is causing all of the hoopla is Bull Durham, or as I like to call it the base of the Kevin Costner baseball movie triangle that also includes Field of Dreams and For Love of the Game.
While Bull Durham enjoyed modest success during its theatrical run, it gained wider popularity in the years following to the point that celebrating the quarter century mark since it was released is kind of a big deal.
While each of the sides of the Kevin Costner Baseball Triangle are good in their own ways, I have always identified more with the comedy infused Durham.
I still watch both Bull Durham and Field of Dreams each year at the start of the baseball season, and both still make me laugh and cry in various ways so many years later.
I suppose Bull Durham resonates with me so well because while I was never a Minor League Baseball player I was very much a Minor League Baseball fan and was attending games around the same time that the movie came out.
So, the movie showed me the parts of Minor League life that I didn’t see from my view in the stands.
The movie also provided several concepts that I use even today as part of my daily life.
The concept of creating your own rain delay when the grind gets to tough and you just need a day to catch your breath is a theme that I have embraced from the movie.
Although I have never turned on the sprinklers in the office, I have certainly found ways to give everyone a rain day here and there.
The movie also provided many timeless quotes with some of them being appropriate for repeating and some best left to the professionals.
In that respect, the current members of the Durham Bulls, the real-life team that inspired the team in the movie, made a hilarious video reenacting some of the crazier lines from the film.
What makes the video of the players recreating the lines so funny, and perhaps makes the rest of us feel a little old, is the fact that many of the players were not alive when the movie first came out.
Another interesting aspect of the real life Durham Bulls is that they serve as the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays who were 10 years away from existing at the time of the film’s release.
As a bit of trivia the Bulls were a Single-A affiliate at the time the movie was made and were owned by one of the filmmakers.
But enough about things that weren’t around when the movie came out. It is time to focus on something highlighted in the movie that is no longer around.
In the movie and in real life, Max Patkin was the Clown Prince of Baseball. For over 50 years Patkin went to Minor League ballparks across the country and Canada performing his baseball clown act.
I was fortunate enough to see Patkin perform during an Orlando Sun Rays game at Tinker Field. Patkin’s act was shown in several scenes and Patkin himself got a dance to himself later in the movie.
While it was clear that Patkin was closer to the end of his performing career than the beginning by the time Bull Durham came out, to this day when I watch his performance scenes it is like I am right there watching him in person and trying to avoid getting sprayed by his water trick.
Although he died in 1999, Patkin will forever live on in his scenes from Bull Durham. That is both a testament to the man himself and to the filmmakers for recognizing the important role he played in conveying the essence of Minor League Baseball.
Another staple of both the movie and Minor League Baseball in general is road trips on a bus. Unlike the Major League players who travel in first class chartered planes, the Minor League players arrive by bus for all of their road trips.
When Michael Jordan tried to make it as a baseball player in the late 80s, he bought a luxury bus for the Birmingham Barons to use.
Still, despite the “luxury” bus features it is hard to picture Air Jordan traveling through the cities of the Southern League in a bus.
As for the bus that was used in the movie, that was purchased by a man named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Jr. is someone who knows a thing or two about motorized vehicles.
While Bull Durham has stood the test of time for 25 years, every once in a while a rumor surfaces about a potential sequel being made. Sequels can certainly be tricky business as few ever really are as good as the first or meet the lofty expectations set for them.
But, even with all of that being said, I would still watch a sequel to Bull Durham. Do I think it could ever be as good as the first movie? Probably not.
But, it does not have to be as good as the first movie. It just needs to help show where the characters ended up some 25 years after we left them on the porch and field.
I have my own ideas about what happened to the characters. So, if a sequel is never made I will still carry on my version of the story in my head. But it would be nice to see the cast get back together for one more trip around the bases.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to swing for the fences and see if I can hit the bull to win a steak. And remember “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”
Across much of the country school is out for the summer. Or if it is not already out it will be so in the next week or so.
The end of school also marks the start of summer vacation for many families who will head towards the beaches on the Nation’s borders in search of sun and surf.
For those like myself who grew up along the coast the drive to find summer sun and surf is a relatively short one.
Another benefit of being so close to the coast meant that summer vacation did not need to be a single week on the beach and could truly last all summer long.
As part of the summer long salute to summer, I would often spend time with my grandparents who lived on Anna Maria Island on the west coast of Florida which was about two hours away from where I lived.
Although the distance between Orlando and the island was short, there were worlds of differences as time seemed to slow down the closer to the coast I got.
My mom’s dad died when I was 5 so the only “grandfather” I had was my dad’s mom’s second husband, Ryland. So from the time I was five I did not have a biological grandfather per se but I did have a Ryland, and that was twice as good in many ways.
Trips to see my grandparents would include fishing and shelling and if I was lucky a trip to Big Olaf’s to get homemade ice cream inside a waffle cone.
One summer I even created my own saltwater aquarium with hermit crabs, shrimp, mollusks and other creatures of the sea that I caught.
Whenever my grandparents would travel up to visit they would bring gallons of saltwater from the Gulf to keep my aquarium going.
It was years later in a pet store that I learned about making one’s own saltwater for aquariums. Still, I am glad that I had the gallons of real Gulf of Mexico water delivered to me.
The bottles always made me laugh since Ryland would write “non potable” on every spare side lest I think that the brownish water contained inside was good for drinking. I never had any desire to drink the water, and the markings were not necessary, but I never thought to tell him that and I am sure even if I did he would still have marked them anyway.
Ryland and Mom Mom lived on various parts of Anna Maria Island for around 30 years and while my visits to see them became harder and harder to accomplish after I moved to Texas I always tried to see them whenever I could.
When I would visit them after I moved to Texas I would wear the same UCF shirt. I don’t know if they ever caught on or thought that I didn’t have enough clothes but to me it was fun to have pictures of us together year after year and me wearing the same thing.
I last saw them and wore my photogenic UCF shirt in 2009. Ryland died about a year and a half after that visit and Mom Mom moved to an assisted living center near Orlando so they are no longer on the beach.
Recently I had the opportunity to return to the beach of my youth for a week long vacation in a beach house.