Monday, June 30, 2008

Oh ... My Shoulders ...

For two weeks now I have been getting back into the martial arts after nearly a year ...

A year where I needed to rest an injured shoulder ...

A year where I gained 14 pounds ...

And now after two weeks I find myself nearly doing the 55 push ups I will need to be able to do for my Midnight Blue Belt Test on July 31 ...

For a few days my shoulders really rebelled against me.

But, it is clear that taking the time off to finally allow the left shoulder to heal after my rollover was the right thing to do. I had been hurting myself and giving myself the bad kind of pain. Now, I have a month to be ready for the exam and it feels like the rest of the weight and the shoulder strength should be there ...

A Soccer Double Header?

Wow.

It was days like yesterday that led me to write Oxymoron ...

It is also why I have added the subtitle From Pele to Beckham aka From Novelty to Profitability ...

Yes ... ABC showed two soccer matches back to back on a Sunday ... and neither of them were World Cup matches ...

DC United 4 - Los Angeles Galaxy 1 and Spain 1 - Germany 0

ABC did not dumb down their broadcasts. They assumed it was a soccer watching group and allowed their British announcers to announce and had retired US Men's and Women's National Team players doing various forms of commentary.

The days of searching for soccer on TV and hoping to hear something feel like a long, long time ago.

The Notion of Effort

The M's should not panic ... there is a lot to work with here ... A season first sweep should not be taken as too much proof, but it is clear that the talent on the roster we all thought was there is in fact actually there ...

I do believe that the M's ought to consider making some moves. Firing the Manager and General Manager almost had to happen due to their awful start, but there are reasons why so many people thought that the M's would be good.

The notion of effort has always bugged me. At the major league level a player plays for his job and million dollar livelihood every day. One should never mistake a lack of success for a lack of effort. They often are trying too hard or are pressing. They often are simply frustrated. Effort is rarely ever the cause ...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

An Evening With Krist Novoselic



EMP - JBL Theatre June 27, 2008 - 7PM
video

An interesting and laid back conversation about music and politics with the bass player of Flipper ... and Nirvana ...

Summer School Art #2 ...





Saturday, June 21, 2008

Evergreen Speedway 6-20-08 Friday Night Drags












A little post about my first opportunity to assist as a volunteer track official for the weekly Friday Night Drags at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. This was a last minute change of plans that turned into a very, very cool evening. After all, when else does someone get to stand on the track itself during races??? Walking the track at 11 helping put away the equipment was actually something I never really expected to have an opportunity to do. I also learned an entirely new definition for "break out" ... It was the latest sunset of the year and the view of the sunset over the grandstand while the drags took place and came around the corner to our station was definitely a high point for 2008 ...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jefferson's Duran Duran Confession (with notes from Jason)

This is a repost of my earlier Duran Duran post. In this instance, I have the notes from Jason to add. Look for this to probably also end up on Paul's Basement ...


***



"Jeff, it took me forever, but I finally added some comments to your article, which I loved. Feel free to use, edit, or discard as you wish."

Okay.

***


Jefferson's Duran Duran Confession ...

I am the Anti-Jason (or, How did I get here?): The Duran Duran Reunion Tour 2005 (March 9, 2005)

I feel like I need to confess it like a testimonial at an AA meeting.

My name is Jefferson, and I listen to the music of Duran Duran.

That's nothing. My name is Jason, and I own Go West's Greatest Hits CD. "We close our eyes..."



I do not believe that my selection as the Anti-Jason was entirely random. See, I have always believed that Jason hated me in high school. (I have in fact spoken to Jason about this and we did in fact dislike each other very much. Now we party together and he manages to get photos and videos of me singing karaoke online. Come to think of it, this is his way of showing that he still holds a grudge ...)

And you have fallen into my trap ONCE AGAIN!



Amongst other things, what really stands out is an incident during rehearsals for the Mountlake Terrace High School production of Ten Little Indians. I was bored, tired, going through the motions at rehearsal one day and our director was getting frustrated. I was sitting in a chair and having a hard time staying awake, which even though I was playing an old fart was not method acting. Jason got upset with me and decided to show me how my part should be done. He was right, but it was clearly obvious after that in A.P.E.S. class that Jason no like Jefferson. It wasn't anything either of us spent a lot of time contemplating and is more obvious in retrospect, but I am pretty certain that it was so.

I absolutely do not remember this. What I DO remember is whispering something in Matt Hughes' ear, offstage during a dress rehearsal, after which he recoiled in mock horror and shouted, "No, I will NOT suck your c***!" That episode, I will always remember, each time with a sharp, sick feeling of shame. But this alleged incident where I made someone ELSE feel like a fool...? Nope. Doesn't ring a bell.



Years passed. I bumped into Jason on occasion at A.P.E.S. and MTHS reunions and the occasional other occasion like a Paul's Basement event. We even had coffee once a few years ago. Times change and it appears that whatever was there had passed with time.

Honestly, what was that about? I have no idea why I decided I didn't like you. You even sold me a Toto LP once, at a reasonable price; a thing that normally counts for much in my book. Such are the vagaries of youth, or whatever. I have a sneaking suspicion that my dislike of you was in direct proportion to your sports proficiency. Damn jocks. Wait, now I hate you again.



Two years ago after and A.P.E.S. reunion several of us decided to go and see another reunion, Duran Duran.

Unlike the Summer 04 reunion of Judas Priest, this tour would not be a part of Ozzfest.

See, this is where the confessional part comes in ... I wanted to go and see Duran Duran in high school in 1984 but, wouldn't and couldn't admit it, so I did not go and quietly endured the stories of how "amazing" it was the next day from people I was not going to admit I was jealous of.

Thank God I was already firmly ensconced in the "Drama Fag" role, so I had no such qualms. Otherwise, I would likely have missed the Thompson Twins, with opening act Re-Flex! "The politics of dancing... The politics of mmm mmm feelin' good..."


I guess I was just not strong enough in 84 to admit I wanted to go ... There was apprehension about seeing a band that was so image oriented 20 years after their popular peak ... they had a new album that was not too bad, but they could never really expect to be relevant the way they were in 1983 ever again ... pop music will allow for the comeback and the retro nostalgia thing, but getting back to being actually influential just does not seem to happen ...

Yeah, you rarely hear the hipsters at local music stores saying, "hey, dude, have you heard that new Wang Chung album?" these days. Sad, really. They don't know what they're missing.



My tastes have always been varied; but high school, especially our high school, was clearly cut into groups defined by our respective tastes ... 20 years later I wish I had told people to piss off and had gone, but I cannot change the past ...

Well, I wish I had gone to see that legendary Ted Nugent show back in 1980 or so where he swung down from the balcony wearing only a loincloth, and one of my Auto Shop compatriots came to school the next day in a vomit-stained XXL Nugent t-shirt and claimed he couldn't remember a thing but that he had woken up naked in bed with his older brother's girlfriend. Sadly, that was not to be, and I had to content myself with the slightly-less-debauched antics of Bryan Adams.



So, we had dinner as a group, caught up on what our kids are up to, and got ready to go ... But, the girls tix were across the EEC from ours so we were not all sitting together ... although we could see them when we gave the place a good once over ...

If the ladies had sat with us, the people in the row behind probably would have been less convinced you and I were partners. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, just noticing. Gosh, we've come a long way, haven't we? First you sold me a Toto LP, then we hated each other, then we were life partners at a Duran Duran concert. Who could have foreseen that?



To review the show ... I think I was more impressed with them as a band than Jason was. to tell you the truth I had not really thought about them musically and artistically until then so maybe the bar was not real high ... It was a first class production and they were still obviously used to being "stars". Simon had a very good rapport with the audience ... I was expecting to enjoy it, just not as much as I did ... they played a much longer set than I had anticipated, mixing in new songs with the old ... I left very glad I had gone ...

Nick Rhodes is just as cool as ever. Didja ever see his coffee table book of photos? 200 pages of Polaroids of hotel room television sets.



Duran Duran is many things ... and one of them was always that they were a marketing machine ... their use of elaborate videos and sense of style propelled them past musically more gifted acts and gave them a cultural staying power beyond the one hit wonders and clones that their success spawned ... For instance, the tour program went way beyond cool with pop ups and cards and photos, and they had concert tees that were actually worth getting ... hardly something common any more ...

I remember their concert video "Sing Blue Silver," in which it seemed they were aghast at their rabid Japanese fans' behavior, mobbing the stage and crushing children in their desperation to touch John Taylor's stylish shoes. There was a whole sequence devoted to the emergency room where mascara'd, dehydrated Duran Duran fans gasped for air and wept, clutching their autographed tour books.



The crowd was a diverse mix of young and old ... the ladies in our row thought we were "together" and we kind of milked that, or at least Jason did when he kept bellowing "Simon! ... Simon!" over and over ... We missed the opening act (apparently to Max's dismay). I tend to see at least a part of most opening acts, just on General Principle, but in this instance the people watching and merchandise lines were more interesting to me ...

I have relayed this lesson to my kids, hoping to show them that their own tastes matter more than any perceptions others have about those tastes ... That way they won't miss out on something and have to wait for the reunion tour in 2028 ...

We can all learn something from Simon LeBon: "Fear hangs a plane of gunsmoke / Drifting in our room / So easy to disturb / With a thought / With a whisper / With a CARELESS MEMORY"



In case you haven't figured it out and still managed to read this far ... Jason's notes are in italics ... Thanks man.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer School Art ...







Doodles with the kids during down time the first week of Summer School ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Unfinished Business (Part Two) ...



Back to Thai Kickboxing class tonight !!!

it has been almost a year ... which is way too long ...

Tae Kwon Do will follow at some point. For now, it is nice to be able to finish my blue belt and to keep working towards my second black belt.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It is NOT OKAY for Sonics fans to root for Portland ...

Proposed KISW Men's Room Rule (in honor of Sonics vs. Seattle lease trial beginning today)

In the event the Sonics leave (or any other team leaves) :

*** Under no circumstances is it acceptable for a Sonics fan to ever root for Portland.

It is okay to choose a new NBA team to root for. However, given the manner in which the Sonics will have relocated it is no longer acceptable to root for the relocated team itself. It is also not acceptable to root for one of the Sonics' closest former rivals. This means that under no circumstances can Sonics fans become Trailblazers, Lakers, or Jazz fans. The rivalries and emotions regarding those particular teams make up an NBA Axis of Evil and it is unacceptable to move in that direction, in spite of everything. It is otherwise acceptable to root for other Western teams like the Warriors, Kings, or Suns; teams for which there is little emotional baggage. The Nuggets are a 50/50 proposition in this matter.

** The one caveat is that Seattle fans may root for a local player or former Sonic to do well such as Brandon Roy, but not to the extent that they actually root for Portland.

(This rule is in some ways adapted from Bill Simmons' sports fans rules on ESPN.com to apply to Seattle and Sonics fans.)

Should this rule be adopted an update to this post will be added.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day Flowers ...



Washington Nationals makes it 4 to go ...


Washington Nationals makes it 4 to go ...

Seattle Mariners 2
Washington Nationals 6
6-15-08 Safeco Field
Seattle WA

4 National League teams to go and I will have seen every Major League team at least once ... I actually got to see the Montreal Expos the last year of that franchise ...

The 4 left are:

Los Angeles Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks
Chicago Cubs
Houston Astros

I figure over the next couple seasons the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are due to come through ... but why I never made the time to see a Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium in my three trips to LA seems almost criminal of me now.

I had the thought to list a whole bunch of things about this game. But, to watch the wheels fall off as badly as it did due to bad managerial pitching decisions (leaving 2 pitchers in too long) really takes the wind out of one's sails ...




Friday, June 13, 2008

"Walkin' After Midnight" World Premiere At Paul's Basement ...






I missed Salman Rushdie and/or Jerry & The Philbillys for this?

Yes ... and it was worth it ... the world premiere of "Walkin' After Midnight" was well worth the long and arduous trek to Paul's Basement. The film is a highly candid (which actually is hardly shocking) re-enactment of a highly charged teenage crisis ... an actual real crisis, too ... not one of those really silly ones that we laugh about later. So, although this movie will make you laugh in points, it really is about something that is no laughing matter, if that makes any sense. (I cannot for the life of me actually figure out how to describe it.)

Just watch the film for yourself ... it really does draw you in ...

... and it should be up and running on the Paul's Basement website in the near future.

There is a link on the lower left side of this page ...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

As another school year ends ...

As another school year ends ...

Here are some late additions and funny subbing stories I forgot ...

And yes ... I am actually working to create a stand up comedy routine based upon these ... adventures ...

***

It took til I was 40 ... but, I finally wore a Duran Duran concert tee shirt to school ... it was 80s day so I wore it under a tweed blazer with jeans and cowboy boots and the kids thought Mr. L was actually cool ...

---

I was subbing middle school PE ... I won't say where ... during lunch, the other teacher and I are sitting in the gym office on the respective computers ... a kid comes in to take a make up rules quiz on a game ... gives them some thing to grade other than ability I guess ... so he sits next to me ... right next to me ... and cheats on the test

Yes, he has his study guide out and unfolded on his lap and he keeps leaning and peaking at it ... let me remind you, I am sitting right next to him ... inches away ... a teacher ... so ... I roll the chair down to the right 8-10 feet to the other teacher, the one who gave him the quiz and ask softly "is this thing open note?" He looks over, busts the kid ... after the kid leaves and the teacher calls his parents for cheating ... he looks at me and we discuss how this was the most audacious or stupid thing we had ever seen ... I mean ... sitting next to the teacher and cheating on a test????

---

Okay ... PE teachers are usually "guys" ... but they ran out of electrical plugs in the gym office so they moved the coffee pot to the "office" off the office ... at least it is on a table opposite the toidy ...

---

A girl had a splinter in her palm yesterday that still stung today so she was telling me that she couldn't do much reading since it hurt to, "like, flip pages or anything" ...

---

I was excited because there was a boom box in here I can play music for PE class... except the guy only had Cd's like "The Osmond brothers greatest hits" "Cameo: Word Up" "Saturday Night Fever" and "Linda Ronstadt: Greatest Hits" ..... and "Billy Ocean: Greatest Hits"

---

I walked into the wrong computer lab 6th period and started giving instructions to a group of students who had no idea and a very startled other teacher ... the computer lab was a two room setup and was next door to the class I was moving them to and from, but when I ran back to grab something the class ended up in the other computer lab without me knowing it, so I walked in and ...

---

So I am supervising recess ... k-3rd ... 100+ (I lost count around 84 with all the movement) kids on this 70 yard field turf field ... a pocket of kids playing here, a group of girls jump roping there ... and two separate soccer games going on all through the field ... the kids are all wearing jackets of different colors and they seem to know who is on each team ... and they just go around and through other groups that hardly seem to notice them as they play ... it is utter chaos ... 2 goalies in one goal but each only trying to stop the ball from their game ... crazy ...

---

I had Chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes with green beans, a roll, and a chocolate milk for lunch ... it had been AGES since I saw that meal and almost didn't realize what it was ... it felt like being in third grade again. In Elementary there was nothing better than that hot lunch.

---

There was a mosquito in class. One of the kids sort of freaked out about it. It could have "West Nile Virus!" he said ... so I followed the bug around trying to kill it when it settled onto another kid. The kid next to him whacked him one on the back. A girl nearby said "It's a white shirt!" Don't worry about the bug. Don't worry about the welt the kid got. Just, don't stain the shirt.

---

"He's a Plutard!" ... "What?" I foolishly asked ... plus tard is french for very late and is being used totally wrong, but it sounds like an insult ...

---

It's amazing how many kids have trouble with their own last name when I call roll and seem confused by the process like no one has done it before...

---

I asked a HS student during a math class, "Is it really normally this sedate in here?" He looked up briefly, said nothing, and looked back down without answering ...


---

I had crashed and burned around 8:15PM and found myself up and in need of a bathroom break. It was dark. I was not stressed about waking up since I do that often. It would only be a matter of a few minutes to fall back asleep and doze for another couple of hours. Then the phone rang and I realized that to blurry eyes in the dark 3:50 and 10:20 look shockingly the same ... I was WIDE AWAKE and would remain so until the real 2AM would roll around.

So ... I flopped around late all night because I was so sick ... and then was so tired the next day ... when I was out dancing all the time and took naps staying up late was okay ... but with $4.19 gas I don't go out much and the novelty has worn off anyways ... this is why snooze alarms are so necessary and not lame and why I set up to three alarms some nights ... and it was cold, in June, again ... like I wrote last year ...

Years ago in HS I showed up late (which happened a lot even with no first period class) and got a tardy slip from the office ... It turned out there was less than a minute left in class and when I handed the admit slip to Mr. Comeau I asked, "Is this a tardy or an absence?" Literally seconds later the bell rang. He only gave me a disdainful glance and never actually gave me a verbal answer and I mentioned it to him once in recent years at a reunion. This is an example of just how bad a HS student I was ... Oh, I got decent grades and did not get to know the VP or skip or the like, but I was a terrible HS student ... I try to remember that ...

Abacus ... not Abacab


Abacus ... not Abacab

It is rare for me to go to yard sales. I do not need other peoples' junk when I have spent years winnowing down my own to a manageable level, thank you very much ...

On May 31, Pizza Guy and I hung out for the afternoon leading up to the Brazil soccer match at Qwest and I found myself at a yard sale he wanted to go to. Being as he was driving and I had nothing better to do I decided to actually get out of the car and see why he wanted to go to this sale ...

There was a table of books; and I cannot resist at least perusing the books at friends' homes, let alone a table of books for a buck. I found a book on my reading list, the reading list of books I know I need to look for but rarely get to that is tattered and years old and needs rewriting. So, I bought the book for a buck. It was a deal too, originally two bucks, but they had marked down the book table because of weather and the progression of the day. She told me it would be fifty cents, but I talked her back up to that dollar.

But, we didn't leave. We hung around and chatted. Nothing wrong with that. Again, we had time to kill. Sheer morbid curiosity led me to glance at other items. Then, I saw it. Another item for a buck. I bought it. This sale was costing me money. But, I was convinced it was not junk, because it still had a ten dollar tag from the store from which it was purchased years earlier. It was clearly never used for the purpose originally intended, likely opened once and put away in fact. So, I peeled off another buck and bought it. Now, I had spent the two dollars I would have spent on the book from my reading list had I not gotten there late in the day when it was raining. I was a mighty bargain hunter.

And, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to use the damn thing. Can anyone help me?

Mariners past (Ephemera Project) ...

The links below are to three M's games from my childhood where remembering a few details led me to finding the actual box scores and information on the internets. God Bless baseball-reference.com ... this actually only took me a few minutes to find.

***

Mariners 9 Yankees 2
August 6, 1977 - Kingdome

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SEA/SEA197708060.shtml

The above game is memorable for a couple reasons. First, just look at the Yankees lineup. Take a moment, I can wait. Do the names Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, or Thurman Munson ring a bell? This Yankees team was managed by Billy Martin, and yes he cam out and argued a call. Second, the inside the park home run from Ruppert Jones coincided with my brother disappearing for a couple innings to look for a plastic Toronto Blue Jays helmet and returning to the seat to ask, "Did I miss anything?" We all still give him a hard time about it. Sometimes I still enjoy being a little brother. Perhaps I should email him this link.

***

Mariners 4 Brewers 3
July 2, 1978 - Kingdome

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SEA/SEA197807020.shtml

I won a contest with Herfy's where I would be the "Honorary Bat Kid" for the game. No, didn't get to be on the bench for the game, but I did get to go down to the field during BP and get my picture taken with a Mariner. I was also going to be recognized on the big screen and announced to the crowd. Plus, we got something like 4 really good box seats for the game. I must have missed the big screen announcement. My photo was with Mariner shortstop Craig Reynolds, but it never came in the mail. I have wondered over the years if my brother had something to do with that.

***

Mariners 2 Angels 3
May 30, 1979 - Kingdome

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SEA/SEA197905300.shtml

My dad took my brother and I to an M's game where we actually got to sit in the 200 Level, which was really cool at the time. I distinctly remember Nolan Ryan pitching a gem and Don Baylor smashing a home run. After looking at box scores this is the only Nolan Ryan Kingdome game that matches up since he only pitched in Seattle with the Angels a couple times before going to Houston, so it must be it. Check out the attendance. Years later I also got to see Ryan pitch in the Kingdome again, in what would prove to be his last ever start.

Seeing my breath ...

Seeing my breath ...

This was supposed to start as a June 8 rant ... and now I have seen it every day since, including this afternoon June 11 ...

Sunday night when I was out walking and realized I could see my breath it just really irritated me. I have lived my entire life in this area and the weather is whatever it is, but the last few years it has actually started to get to me when it never used to. Last June I wrote about waking up cold in June and not liking it. I have written on this very blog before that I don't want to talk about the weather. It snowed 6 inches on April 18 this year. The PI says it is colder here than in Siberia. It was 100 degrees in Arizona the other night for the Sounders game and they had to change climates from this to that and play in it.

When I got home Sunday night I jotted down these somewhat disjointed notes. Bear in mind I have been couped up lately with mono.

Mono sucks.
I am walking instead of running.
And, I can see my breath.
Let me repeat this.
It's June.
I can see my breath.
It's a fairly pretty night.
A bit cloudy.
But, it is 40 something degrees.
A beautiful sunset in the distant northern and western sky.
A crescent moon.
Almost dark.
Dammit, I hate talking about the weather.

And then I did not get this typed up straight away. I wrote "and today too, 6-9-08" and "pm 6-10-08" and "am 6-11-08" below those notes on the same sheet.

Dammit, I hate talking about the weather.

Those Oil Men In The White House ...

Those Oil Men In The White House ...

I tire of political confrontation any more. Blowhards can just be blowhards. I have no real desire to get into half-baked conversations with people who are not really listening. Sometimes though, one finds oneself in one of those conversations inadvertently. The challenge is to get out of it quickly, or at least quickly enough to keep one's composure.

A couple days ago I found myself in one of those conversations and was trying to get out of it ... I finally just made a vague comment and walked off, likely leaving him feeling like he had won or bullied me away, when in fact I just tired of him and knew it was pointless to talk to him.

It went something like this. The conversation turned to oil prices and I made a quip about having two oil men in office being a contributing factor. This, apparently, really pissed him off. After a bit of harranguing, it just seemed clear that I should walk away since he was absolutely convinced that the oil men in office has nothing to do with anything.

Never mind that oil companies have had record profits. In a period when Americans are using mass transit more and more and are driving less and less the profits keep going up. This only happens because they are working on a higher margin. The profits would remain consitent or dip if the price of gas related to the price per barrel was consistent given the current use and demand. The oil men in office are buds with these guys so they know they have a short window of opportunity to maximise this profit period with impunity. Bush doesn't care and doesn't do anything about it.

Never mind that we have a sudden infustion of cars that get better mileage, etc ... the oil men haven't really cared or done anything to promote public policy in this area for the better part of eight years. Instead of using tax breaks (their favorite thing in the entire world) to encourage the production of these vehicles and technologies, they have simply ignored it, exacerbating the problem instead of being proactive.

And of course the increased consumption in places like China and India due to increased industiralization, coincidentally where American companies keep sending manufacturing jobs, has not abated during the past two terms ...

And then there is the war in Iraq. I just don't remotely want to even go there very far. But, wasn't this war supposed to pay for itself and guarantee us access to cheap oil?

Nope, those oil men haven't had anything at all to do with how oil prices have impacted our economy.

Curve Balls

Originally published 1/96 in "The Silver Valley Voice" - Moonshine Hill Press



“Curve Balls” by Jeffrey Lageson

Years ago he was a heck of a catcher. Squatting for hours on end, digging the ball out of the dirt from pitchers who had no business trying to throw curve balls in a real game he would endure the pain. He would endure countless bad pitches and foul tips. He would try to be nice to the umpires, except for that one time he let the ump take a bad pitch right after a bad call he had complained about, the equivalent of a brush back pitch to the next batter by a pitcher who just gave up a dinger to a weak hitting shortstop to lead off the fourth. That ump deserved it. Most umps do. Still, he knew better than to argue, officials never change their mind, they are a stubborn lot that aren’t quite bright enough to know that refereeing any sport is a horrible job.

A long time ago he hurt his knee and on cold crisp mornings like this one he could feel the pain as though it was fresh and not phantom. It was the type of pain that would never go away. Reminders of a youth spent playing hard and an adult life still feeling every slide.

Baseball was only one of the games he would play. All the games were fun but he loved baseball. Curve balls were rapidly becoming his nemesis in life and a reason to sleep in. As opposing pitchers learned to throw the curve and coaches saw that he couldn’t come close with his bat there had been a steady decline in his batting average and a movement in the batting order from second to seventh. Only pitchers and weak hitting shortstops hit behind him, which guaranteed him no protection in the order and therefore even more curve balls. The trend was obvious. He was condemned to the ranks of being only a good defensive prospect. “Curve balls should be banned along with the spitter,” he said to no one, even though he wanted to.

The newspaper rack showed the World Series was over, a proud champion in the headlines. The copy showed the real story, players ready to ask for a raise or leave in the off season. A coach was still under fire after his team had won. Other teams were still threatening to move. The pain was in his knees as he read the grim state of his lost love. The day after the greatest annual day in American Sports and already the hangover. Baseball was quickly going back to what it really does best anymore, alienating its fans.

He didn’t bother to spend the fifty cents for a paper. He had other business to take care of. The cold air was fresh and the early morning quiet.

Errands to run.
Life to live.
The knee bugged him with every step. The only curve balls left to worry about were thrown at him from pitchers beyond his control. The world still seemed to know what kind of pitch to throw to him. On a beautiful crisp morning he chose to be a good defensive prospect and not care.

Jeffrey Lageson prays for the end of Astroturf in Pullman.

Archive Project - Previously Unpublished Work #4 - "B"

"B" a short story by Jeffrey Lageson © 1997
(previously unpublished)

A buzz.
Panic.
I glance.
Less than an inch long.
One of Hell's little messengers on Earth has once again found its way into the cab of my truck. Nothing on Earth is more frightening to me. The thought of dying from a fall from high atop a bridge or building is nothing compared to the pangs of fear that a thought of a swarm bearing down on me brings, the only true horror movie death. It's only one this time but that doesn't matter. Within the first millisecond of recognition my heart rate has tripled and any possible escape route is sought after.

I'm belted in. &*? #@^- safety laws.
The doors are locked.
Need to remember to be more careful.
The little #*(%er is buzzing along the dashboard away from me.
After what seems like a long time, sort of like the amount of time it feels like when you've really got to piss and your belt buckle and pants are tough to get past or are stuck, I manage to get the seat belt unbuckled. Time is relative in weird ways.

But it's like the microdemon has sensed my struggle, as though it is genetically encoded, given powers by Satan himself, to sense the struggles of mere mortals such as I. Ears small, yet capable of tuning in to movements of humans.

I dare not attack it.
There would be one chance and then I would move from hunter to prey. I'd really rather skip over the antagonistic part and run like Hell. If only I can get myself out of here.

I finally reach out and unlock my door. Slowly. My eyes remained fixed on the hovering microdemon. It's taunting me, baiting me, daring me to throw caution to the wind and throw the first punch. I dare not take the fantasy of squashing it with a single blow too much to heart. The odds of connecting a deathblow and not one that just pisses it off into a kamikaze buzz dive are greater than Lotto odds.

My only sensible course of action to follow is to flee. There is honor in a strategic withdrawal.
I am not being a chicken$#!+, I am being prudent, cautious, and am rationalizing with the best of them.
My hand slowly reaches for the handle. I hope to slowly depart, although I really want to run screaming like a baby. Two of my left hand fingers grip onto the handle. Slowly I begin to pull back. The latch releases. The door inches ever so slightly open. I make a break for it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Who's There ?!?"

Originally published 2/96 in "The Silver Valley Voice" - Moonshine Hill Press


“Who’s There?!?”

by Jeffrey Lageson

(c)1995

“Who’s there?” He tries to whisper.
Unfortunately, it almost comes out as a scream in the late night quiet of his house. Normally, he slept soundly. But from time to time he would find himself waking up in a sweat, unsure as to exactly why but aware of “something”. That “something” bothered him every time.

His conscious mind could never quite place what that “something” was. It was as though he didn’t want to remember and his subconscious mind was protecting him from having to face whatever was out there. That is, if anything at all was out there.

Since he was wide awake and full of adrenaline he knew he couldn’t get right back to sleep so he decided to get up and have a snack. His wife remained in oblivious slumber next to him. Both of his dogs awoke as he rose from the bed and judging by their dancing at the door they wanted to go outside.

The wood floor was cold as he staggered about the house. It was still dark so he turned on the outside porch light. In his backyard he thought he saw some motion but decided to write it off as the wind. Both of the dogs went about their business, not seeming to notice anything unusual, coming back inside from the early winter night on his first call. Quickly, they dashed in to the bedroom and snuggled back in close with his wife, not waking her despite pouncing on her with full force.

He caught himself giving the backyard a second look before he turned off the outside light, checking for a sign from something he had no inkling about. Finally, he turned off the light and stepped toward the kitchen, forcing himself to not look back. Even if he wanted to, which he wasn’t sure if he wanted to or not., he could not have forced himself to look.

There was a little juice left so he poured himself a glass, gulping it down quickly. Nothing else appealed to him for a late night snack. He headed back toward the bedroom, his two dogs still awake and snuggled in with his wife but staring at him. Their ears were perked and tails were twitching. He turned the light on next to the bed and grabbed a magazine to read.

His dogs continued to stare at him.
“What?” He asked them.
They both perked up.
“You’ve both already gone and I’m back in bed. So forget it.” Momentarily he wonders if dogs really do understand English.

Uncannily, they both seemed to know what he meant. With sighs of disgust they both put heads down and go to sleep. He reads for a while, not able to go back to sleep. After a short while he looked up and both of his dogs were staring at him again.

“I said no,” he says to them.
They give him “the look”, their heads low while looking sad.
“Not gonna work.”
They slowly lay back down again, their backs to him this time. He shakes his head, laughing at their attitudes. He continues to read, slowly getting the impression he’s being watched. A light passes by his window, a car headlight he thinks.

“Who’s there?” He says to a noise just outside his bedroom door. He begins to get up...
...and finds that it’s morning and he’s overslept again.
His dogs are staring at him, tails wagging and needing to go outside. The magazine he was reading is on the night stand next to the bed, neatly placed as though he had never picked it up to read in the middle of the night.

With an odd sense of deja vu he rises and goes about beginning his morning, taking the dogs to the backdoor, letting them out while scanning the backyard. He wonders why he should feel afraid.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vicarious Energy

Vicarious Energy
Originally published 11/95 in "The Silver Valley Voice" - Moonshine Hill Press



“Vicarious Energy”: a short story too many people can relate to
by Jeffrey Lageson

The heart pumps blood through our veins to all parts of our bodies. Mostly, this goes by without notice. And then there are the times where we can feel the blood go by molecule by molecule. A pulsing in the temples that manages to remind us that we are alive while making us wish that we weren’t.

Judging from the number of molecules coursing through my head I decide that my resting pulse rate is far too high.

Somehow, I struggle out of bed and stagger to the bathroom, avoiding various obstacles that could stub various appendages along the way. A hot shower opens my eyes halfway to the waking world. If anyone at work asks, yes I am growing a beard. The water continues to beat down on my shoulders, hot jets of heaven easing some of the tension from my body. The old habit of setting my clothes out before I go to bed comes in handy. Finally, I’m in the kitchen. Normally, I start the coffee pot before I go in the shower so I guess I’ll have to wait.

Damn.
Wrong.
I’m out of coffee.
I knew that when I went to bed. How could I have let this happen? Coffee is the elixir of life and I have none. The clock reads 6:14AM. There is time.

The truck starts quicker than I did and I’m off to pursue the cup of black medicine my body craves. There’s already a line at Perky’s Coffee. Patiently I stand in line, time to spare after all.

“Double tall...”
“Non-fat single...”
“Coffee of the day please...”
The lingo of the addicted coffeeholics. Except for the happy little blonde morning person ordering a decaf. We’re all groggy, patience overstated by our collective sleepiness. Two bucks is a bargain for our morning fix. Finally, next in line.

Two bucks?
Damn.
Wrong.
My wallet is sitting on the TV next to my work keys. A mental picture as clear as the scene in front of me focuses in my brain. The strain causes more blood to pulse through my temples. The exact positioning of both items is clearly embedded within my brain. Star Trek transporter technology would come in handy right now. Actually, any science fiction technology would come in handy right about now. At 6:14AM I could have just said, “Triple mocha, grande, hot.” Low and behold there it would have been in my handy computer operated house. Even a cup of “Tea, Earl Grey, hot,” would enable me to fulfill a small Captain Picard wannabe fantasy.

Traffic has picked up already as I push my old car to its in city limits. Of course, there are my keys and my wallet, right where I left them. Right where I wouldn’t possibly forget them. Luck being what it is, I no longer have time to stop and get a jolt. Three drive through espresso carts are on my route to work, but they all have long lines. Hence, I keep going.

“You drink too much coffee,” the doctor said to me last month.
“How can you tell?” I asked.
“You listed your blood type as ‘House Blend’ on your insurance form,” she replied.
“Oh,” I said.
It’s 6:55AM before I finally get to my office. No time for stopping downstairs at the nine little shops that have espresso machines.

“Good morning,” the new receptionist says to all of us staggering off the elevator. My otherwise dull senses pick up a distinct aroma in the office, fresh brewed coffee. The world is more fair than I had thought. I glance around at my fellow office drones, that glazed look in all of our eyes. It’s only Tuesday and already we’re in need of a big, bad jolt. I take a deep breath, inhaling the aroma of coffee, wanting to get down on my knees and thank God Almighty for such a wondrous drug. I mean, such a wondrous drink.

The nine businesses downstairs brewing the stuff, a little stand here, a big shop there, are testaments to the unnecessary importation of Colombia’s other cash crop. The entrepreneurial spirit of this country is alive and well and milking money out of us office drone burnouts. As we sit at our desks and plug away in our cubicles, staring blankly at requests from supervisors it is obvious to anyone that too many of us are in a perpetual state of burnout and easily open to influence.

It is therefore no surprise that there are nine espresso machines commercially operated in the building. Yet another example of how demand can create supply in our great and mighty capitalist free market society. Of course, our susceptibility also explains the popularity of mindless fluff like “Baywatch” and “Melrose Place”.

Sorry, digression.
Part of me wants to open a coffee shop of my own. The money I could make off of such a venture is staggering. I could live the American Dream. For now though, I’ll have to settle for being asleep long enough to dream on any given night.

Another part of me wants to put a survey on the 9AM meeting agenda to see haw many people want to forget the stupid meeting and go on a field trip downstairs to the coffee shop. As it is there will be a number of people with their cups full of that wondrous beverage.

“Have a latte,” a friend that shall remain unnamed said to me one day, “they are soooooo good.”
Then I had another and one day I woke up to find myself standing in line ordering a “double-grande-something-or-other” and ready to shell out three bucks for it. It was a Wednesday evening.

My brother wants me to quit. “Dude,” he said, “you drink too much coffee man.”
That would be a great superhero name for a parody.
One day I forgot and the headache nearly killed all of those around me. It simply cannot be done so I find that I don’t even like to talk about quitting. It’s a different type of addiction. The beans themselves smell so good. Dip a bean in chocolate and mmm-mmm. Going out for a cup of coffee has become a reasonable date for my generation. A delicacy to be shared.

There are tea drinkers who do not understand this infatuation coffee drinkers have. Did the colonials in Boston dump coffee? I think not. They truly were wise. It was only later that they dumped England itself. Their priorities were in order.

At 9AM in our meeting I’m going to stand up and scream and lead a revolt against our little middle level management guy if he does not heed the call to coffee.

“Yo man,” a voice says behind me.
“Good morning Pete,” I say.
“I’m heading downstairs to grab a jolt, want me to bring you up one?”
“Yeah...” I say stupefied.
“Pay me later,” he says.
“Bless you,” I say, turning to go to my desk to wait for my wonderful friend to return.

Jeffrey Lageson drinks too much coffee in Pullman.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I should be excited about The NBA Finals

I should be excited about The NBA Finals

Last night I caught the end of game one of The NBA Finals. The Celtics were ahead in what had apparently been a dramatic game. I kept flipping back and forth between the game and Last Comic Standing. I should have been STOKED.

I am having a really, really, really hard time giving a #*(% about this series.

Celtics versus Lakers for the first time in 21 years.

There are a number of really interesting subplots. Can Kobe win one without Shaq? Will Allen join the triple crown club? Can Phil get #10 after leaving and going back to the Lakers and Kobe?

Both teams were in shambles this time last year. Kobe wanted out and was publicly stating so. The Celtics had the balls bounce the wrong way in the draft lottery AGAIN.

One season turnarounds do not tend to happen in the NBA. And yet, here we are with both teams turning huge messes into championship seasons giving hope to other teams that the conventional NBA wisdom might be changing. The obvious examples of turnarounds are truly exceptional. In both the Lakers and Celtics cases this season the turnarounds were unlikely and highlighted by trades that were brilliant and worked immediately.

I am a former Celtics owner. For years from the late 80s until a few seasons ago I had a small number of Celtics shares. I would get dividend checks and financial reports and tried to go to games when the Celtics would come to Seattle. It was awesome. I don't dislike the Celtics but when the shares were cashed out involuntarily I did feel a sense of disconnect to the team that was evident last night.

It is simply impossible for me to root for the Lakers. Nope. I can respect the talent and the coaching but I will never, never, never root for the Lakers. Even with all the crap going on in Seattle I simply cannot root for them.

It comes down to my absolute hatred for David Stern. Yep. I have reached the point where I actually personally hate the man. He is arrogant and stubborn and flat out stupidly running his organization. I almost feel sorry for Bud Selig for his stupidity, but Stern is smart enough to know better and doesn't care about his cities or fans. My personal feelings toward Stern have now taken the luster and enjoyment away from the essential nature of fandom; watching the championship of a given sport. I could not get excited about that game because of David Stern. I cannot imagine I am the only one. The NBA is in trouble so long as he is running the show.




Photo from 2000 at Key Arena during a Sonics versus Celtics game when I still owned Celtics shares and cared about the NBA.

I kind of owe her an apology ...

I kind of owe her an apology ...

A few weeks ago I thought I saw a friend. She was walking a dog in the AM on a major street near my home. I took a long look and was convinced that it was her. The body language was right. The hair was right.

I haven't been around the "scene" as much lately so I never got a chance to ask her since I have not otherwise ran into her. The thought was shelved.

Then, at one point recently while speaking with a mutual friend I mentioned this and was wondering if she had either moved or was house/dog sitting ...

No idea ...

And then a few days ago there she was again.

Or so I thought.

I pulled over to maybe give a little honk/wave and got much nearer than before ...

... and this may be mean to the lady it turned out to be ... but I think I owe my friend an apology ...

Pick her now or not at all ...

Pick her now or not at all ...

Last night the news was all a tingly about a secret meeting between Obama and Hillary at the Clinton residence in DC.

What could they be talking about?

Were they negotiating something?

Umm ... duh ...

It is clear that an Obama/Clinton ticket is a potential winner. Obama has been gracious without gloating this week and Hillary was handling her loss with class.

But, the numbers involved in the primary season clearly indicate that there is a real split and it is very close between the two candidates. Something needs to be done to cement the notion that the party can be unified behind one candidate or it will all simply fade into an appearance of lip service.

If Hillary is going to be the veep, then Obama simply cannot leave it hanging for too long. It appears he would like to take some time to spread out the announcements. In this instance though I believe that would be a mistake. An announcement needs to be soon one way or another. This simply cannot linger.

The speculation as to what she negotiated for her support should she not be the veep will be huge, but far better than a lingering question would be. If she is the veep she can hit the ground running and they can spend a summer working out the kinks prior to the inevitable avalanche of negative campaigng the fall will bring. Picking a former opponent is tricky, but the longer we have to get used to the idea this year given the tone of the primary campaign the better.

If Obama does not know who his best picks for veep are already, or if he doesn't really know who the top picks for each cabinet post or future court nominations are then he is not ready to be president. Do not pretend that you are starting to think about this. Make the announcement one way or another and move forward. A united party simply doesn't really happen that often and this is one of those times where it needs to be grabbed hold of ...

The Customer is not always right ...

The Customer is not always right ...

I have long said that the notion that "the customer is always right" is the worst thing to ever happen to American culture.

Case in point.

On a recent stay in a chair getting my haircut at a large discount haircut chain I had the great privilege to witness just how badly some people will behave to get their way. I am not referring to a spoiled child. No, I am referring to a middle aged woman who was trying to scam and bluster her way past three unsuspecting hair stylists.

It was late in the evening on a Sunday and the store was to close soon. I find that it is a good time to go because the line is short if at all. Sure enough I was the only one in the chair and the other two ladies were cleaning up. In walks the customer. She sets down two items - that turned out to be almost empty mousse and the like - and demands her money back for the items. No, she does not have a receipt. The ladies point out that the items are nearly depleted and ask for her receipt. "The manager never makes me have a receipt," she says loudly, "just give me my damn money." Clearly, she is trying to bully these women into getting her way. One of the ladies decides to try and call the manager but cannot get through. After several minutes of haranguing and posturing the lady finally leaves. I leave my card with the store in case this woman comes back and accuses them of something that they did not do, since they were way more patient than she deserved.

It was clear that the items were not defective, they were mostly empty from use.

It was clear she chose a time where there would not be a manager, since no manager would have done it.

It was clear that the lack of a receipt was intentional.

I felt bad for the abuse those three ladies took.

The customer is not always right.