The Provost of Drexel University recently sent out a lengthy email that detailed his difficult situation as a native New Yorker living in Philly and cheering for the Phillies during the 2009 World Series. He used his situation as an impressive segue for introducing a new philosophy for Drexel’s different departments, which are now offering programs and courses aimed at general audiences. Or something like that. I was actually kinda mad to receive an email during the World Series that was boasting about the glory of growing up as a fan of the Yankees and skipped over those parts.
I’ll spare you his thoughts on the Phillies, Yankees, and Drexel in the interest of sharing an eloquent, interesting excerpt. It’s OK to think deeply on a Sunday…
“The great American poet Robert Frost writes, ‘Nothing in life runs unmixed.’ The challenge of living comes from its complexity, its multiple perspectives and possibilities for interpretation, its uncertainties. Solving an equation correctly is satisfying; it provides closure. A really good movie or novel or poem — or a complex scientific or engineering problem — prompts more questions than it answers, poses challenges that are not resolved easily or perhaps at all. Friendships and relationships do not run unmixed. Major life decisions do not run unmixed. The great art of living well involves learning to live with uncertainty, becoming comfortable with conflict, even becoming able to balance two competing theories or perspectives at once — or affiliations to two sports teams locked in fierce competition. That’s why it’s an art and not an exact science.”
Ok, so “today” is actually 8 weeks later. My wife posted her entry on the benefits of a fall birthday on April 10, and I started writing mine the next day. Then, I encountered other priorities, a best man speech, podcasting, a lack of motivation, and a hard drive crash after finishing, which required a rewrite. Excuses aside, the summer is approaching and my rebuttal is below. Hopefully you judge my side of the argument for its content and not for its delay. Laura, a dedicated reader who was disappointed by this delay, has a spring birthday. Maybe she will add her thoughts on why it is better to have a spring birthday?
Summer is the best time to have a birthday. Without a doubt. After all, most people spend nine months of the year looking forward to the summer, which is arguably the best of the four seasons. That’s because summer represents freedom, fun, and friends – which are all part of a good birthday!
I cannot imagine any worse way to spend my birthdays as a young Brando than to have been in a classroom listening to a teacher lecture on something that really won’t be useful in 10 years, like the Medicis, isosceles triangles, or mitochondria (I can confidently make this claim because it is now 10 years later and I only use this knowledge for quizzo). Fortunately, I never once had to sit in a classroom on my birthday because my birthday is in July.
But the perks of a summer birthday don’t end with an educational vacation. My first 15 birthdays were an endless stream of awesome, including pool parties, picnics, and even Phillies’ games featuring serenades from ballpark hosts. I then became a counselor at a summer camp, so the past 13 birthdays have been spent with 500 of my closest friends. At summer camp, you can experience 500 people genuinely singing and wishing you a “Happy Birthday” – after parading you on a chair for a shower of High 5’s! Do they do that at winter camp? Oh wait, they don’t exist!
Forget eating stale donut fillings with your classmates while wearing mittens; nothing beats a summer birthday!
What do you think? Is it better to have a fall or summer birthday? Or do you prefer winter or spring? Make your argument, and keep it to 250 words or less!
Also, feel free to suggest Topic #2 for our He Said / She Said series!
I moved back to my hometown of Philly in May with my wife, who grew up in California with only a passing interest in professional sports. I now can follow my favorite sports teams very closely, and I also am fortunate enough to have a wife who wants to become a fan of the local teams. It is fun to watch Ali slowly falling in love with with the Philly sports scene. It is even more fun watching her understanding of sports develop; before moving to Philly, “sports” meant watching a game and seeing who scored more goals, points, or runs. Her definition of “sports” still involves watching the games, but has developed to include the joy of identifying with the players and learning each of their individual stories.
She knows all about the Jimmy Rollins’ yearly predictions; Pat Burrell’s rise, fall, and eventual rise again, before his departure and subsequent signing with the Tampa Bay Rays; that Jamie Moyer ditched school to watch the championship parade in 1980; Carlos Ruiz steady defensive play as a catcher after lying to accepting a challenge from a scout who said he’d only be interested in him if he was a catcher (he was a 2B at the time; he told the scout he would try catcher, despite never playing there in his life), and even that his nickname is “Chooch”; that Brian Dawkins responded to being criticized earlier this season for being too old and slow by taking it out on the Eagles’ opponents throughout the rest of the season and post-season; that the Flyers are a tough team and there is nothing more exciting than Game 7 in the NHL playoffs than overtime in Game 7 in the NHL playoffs — especially when your team wins, like the Flyers did in May; the agony of waiting 25 years to see a championship; and the joy we take in watching our rivals suffer. Especially the Cowboys, Mets, and Giants. Ali has truly become a Philadelphia sports fan. Her development in this area probably received a boost by the Phillies winning the 2008 World Series and the Eagles recent, unexpected run in the 2009 Playoffs. But I digress…
Ali’s education in Philadelphia sports included a whole section on the Curse of Billy Penn. I even updated the lesson to include the actions of workers building the Comcast Building, which is now the tallest building in Philadelphia. For those who don’t know, the workers wanted to break the curse so they placed a tiny statue of William Penn on the top beam in the building, restoring him to the tallest point in the city. The Phillies then win the 2008 World Series, so some argue that it worked.
I would like to propose another reason for the Phillies victory in 2008, and it is one that can be confirmed in a few short weeks. During the Phillies’ run, Ali noticed that Pat Burrell has very oddly shaped eyebrows. Three weeks later, the Phillies won the World Series. Then, during yesterday’s game, she noticed that Donovan McNabb also has oddly shaped eyebrows. Not only are his eyebrows weird, but they are the exact same triangular shape as Pat Burrell’s eyebrows (see picture below)!!! Even more amazing is that Ali noticed this about McNabb on January 11 — exactly three weeks before the Super Bowl! That’s right, I am dubbing this phenomenon “Charm of the Eyebrows!”
Burrell and McNabb also share the fact they were first round picks by Phillies and Eagles in their respective sport’s drafts. If the Eagles win the Super Bowl (I can’t believe I just typed that; 3 months ago I would be chastised for jinxing them by typing that!), you’d better believe that we will spend time in May checking the eyebrows of the Flyers players who were first round picks!!!
I have a Samson Zoom H4 – Handy Recorder, a little toy that I spent too much money on and use too little. With that being said, I am always looking for opportunities to use it so that I can both exercise my creativity as well as provide a little entertainment for friends, family, and anyone else who reads my blog or listens to my podcasts (Hello!). The 2008 World Series provided one of those opportunities.
My house became the unofficial World Series headquarters for my tight circle of friends — I’d like to think that my company is the reason, but the appeal is more likely that my wife likes to bake delicious Phillies-inspired cakes (see picture 1 below), cookies, and muffins for our guests. We had many friends and family members over for each of the 5 games, but it was Aaron, Adam, Ryan, and Jarad who joined Ali and me for both portions of Game 5. Eric was supposed to join us, but he was fortunate enough to be in the stadium for all three games in Philadelphia!
Ali’s Phillies cake — the true reason our friends came over
As the tension built in our house, we discussed the poor leadership of Bud Selig, the idea that we may finally witness one of our beloved teams win a championship, and the exciting possibility of a season ending without someone saying, “Well, maybe next year is our year.” I wanted to document the approaching historic moment as naturally as possible, so I turned on my little microphone during the 8th inning of Game 5b of the World Series. I placed it on a shelf in our living room and left it on to record our reactions and experience with a potential championship. We now know that the Phillies won the World Series and, two months later, I just listed to the captured audio for the first time.
I found a lot of interesting dialogue captured in the audio: we debate and discuss everything from the ideal time to listen to mute the TV and turn on 610WIP (to listen to the Phillies’ announcer, the legendary Harry Kalas), to the challenge of playing with mitochondria, to Scott Eyre warming up in the bullpen just so he can get some air time when the cameraman pans over to see what Brad Lidge is up to. Oh, and I also heard our reactions to the glorious moment itself! The attached audio may be dull at times, but it is a snapshot of pure, natural emotion and happiness.
I would ultimately like to edit the audio into something interesting, intermixed with interviews from each of those present (and Eric, who can provide his perspective of being in the ballpark) and with pictures laid over the top. For now, I have edited down the 1 hour of audio to the best 3 minutes*; essentially, the 3 minutes are the audio of Hinkse’s at-bat and our reaction for a minute or so afterward.
A guide to the recording below: the magic happens at 1:47 (WARNING: It gets VERY loud at this point of the audio!). Then, it’s about a minute of us reacting in absolute glee and exuberance. Finally, Jarad makes a very revealing declaration at 2:54 — be sure to listen =) The audio is below, so enjoy!
The gang, seconds before the big moment
Hinske just swung through strike 3!
No caption necessary
*Note: I edited some of the dead time out of the Hinske at bat, just to make the file a little shorter. Just wanted to let you know in case you notice that some filler dialogue from Harry and Wheels is missing.
“Sign Sign everywhere a sign
Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign”
–Signs, by Five Man Electrical Band
Signs are everywhere, with production values ranging from professional to amateur. While my wife and I appreciate old fashioned communication, we also observe and take delight in the many signs and notices bursting with poor grammar. Some of the grammar is so poor that your guess is as good as ours in determining the meaning of the sign. We have decided that we cannot keep this joy to ourselves and will be sharing pictures of signs that contain poor grammar on this blog.
Almost everybody is guilty of an occasional grammatical error (and I imagine I am making a few in this post), so nitpicking a decent effort to communicate is not the purpose of the Signs of Poor Grammar feature of this blog. Instead, this feature will highlight the absolutely atrocious errors, the ones that hurt your eyes and insult your intelligence when you read them.