When I got up this morning, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to write about. I started glancing through my Twitter feed and I happened to follow the author Paulo Coehlo. If you have never read any of his work, I highly recommend “The Alchemist” and “Aleph,” both of which are excellent books. He had posed a question on his Twitter feed and on his blog and the more I got to thinking about it the better I thought it would be to ask myself. He asked for the names of the five books that changed your life. I think five might be a bit much for some people. I think a lot of people can say they have really only been influenced highly by one or two, three at the most. So I am going to change the question up a little bit:
What is the one book that you think has changed or affected your life the most?
I started thinking about this as soon as I read the question this morning. For me, I think there are 2 books that I can say have had a big effect on my life. The first is William Paul Young’s “The Shack.” Granted, many critics and people will say that it is not a great piece of literature and just as many might say they disagree with message. That’s fine; I am not looking for an argument on its literary merits or its religious take. For me, the book carried meaning. It came along at an important time in my life just after my father had passed away in 2008 and I think it really helped me to understand things better from my own personal perspective. After my own illness and brush with death in 2009, I read it again and I think it meant even more to me. As someone who does not consider himself to be the model Christian or even very religious, it gave me some insight into the way that I need to approach life, love, religion, the hereafter and God. For me, it was a life changer.
The other book that I think had a big effect on me, and for completely different reasons, is Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Now, some may wonder how this particular book could have any type of influence on a person, but it changed the way I approach literature and writing. This was one of the first books I read when I was starting to go for my Master’s degree in English and it opened my eyes. The way Marquez is able to employ just about everything into his writing and make you feel what the many characters in the book are feeling to me was enlightening. It also gave me my first exposure to books using things like magical realism and a postmodern approach, and I loved it. From then on, I was always looking for books that would give me the same feeling and insight and I think it still affects the way I read today.
So what book do you think has had the biggest effect on your life?It can be anything; it doesn’t have to be something profound or deep or with great literary meaning as long as it means something to you. Leave a comment here and let’s see what you can come up with. I’ll ask some people on Twitter too and see if they respond.
Thank’s to all who answered my last question about the Muppets. It seems as though there are a lot of Miss Piggy and Animal fans out there . Check back next time and see what I feel like talking about.
Filed under: Books, Questions, Writing | 3 Comments
Tags: book that has changed your life, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Paulo Coehlo, The Shack, William Paul Young
So enough of listening to me complain about not having enough time in the day to take care of this blog. I want to do it more, so I am going to do it more and find the time to do it. Let’s get beyond that and simply move on to other things. I was just trying to figure something to write on here today to help me get back into the swing of doing fun writing. So I got to thinking about what would be fun to write about, something cheerful and that makes us smile, and then for some reason this question popped into my head, so I will pose the question and see what you have to say:
Who is your favorite Muppet?
I know, it’s kind of a weird question. You are probably thinking – he took all this time off from writing this blog and this is what he came up with? Sadly, for some reason it came to me today. I don’t know why I was thinking about the Muppets, but then why do we think about half the things that come into our heads during the day? Anyway, I do have an answer to this question. Now if we are talking about Sesame Street, which I think are not really part of the Muppets, I would have to choose the Count. Now I remember when the Count first came around and was a little more edgy, when he could actually hypnotize people into silence and things like that that a real vampire could do. That was the Count I always liked. Not that there was anything wrong with the Count after that. He was funny and served his purpose, but there was something more appealing about him earlier on.
Anyway, my feeling has always been that the puppets on Sesame Street are not Muppets. The Muppets had their own TV show and movies and those are the guys I remember. Now I was much older when the Muppets first started around, and Kermit would be the easy choice to make as the favorite of the group. He was smart, friendly and likeable and had a good sense of humor.I like him, but he’s not my favorite. If I had to pick a favorite it comes down to 2 characters for me:
It has to be Fozzie vs. Beaker. Now Beaker never talked, but there was something about the way that he expresses himself and the way he was always getting into Three Stooges-like situations that made you have to smile and laugh every time he was on-screen. Fozzie was the lovable vaudeville comic who’s jokes were so bad that you usually cringed instead of laughed, but he has a certain amount of sincerity and caring about him, and he does actually seem to come up with some funny lines that most kids probably didn’t get at the time. So I think if I had to choose for myself, I would go with Fozzie.
So what do you think – who is your favorite Muppet? You can choose someone from Sesame Street; I won’t hold it against you if that’s what you like best. You can leave an answer on here or on Facebook or Twitter. I am curious to see if I can get any celebrities on Twitter to answer me as well. I’ll post if they do.
Next time, we’ll see what I can come up with. You never quite know what it is going to be. Let’s think of this more as a stream of consciousness blog for now. Sometimes it will be questions, sometimes baseball, maybe music, movies, current events, writing, it’s really whatever happens to strike me at the moment. We’ll try it that way for a while and see how it goes, okay? If you ever have a suggestion, question or just feel like saying hi, drop me a note or comment. I’ll be back.
Filed under: Blogs, Television | 2 Comments
Tags: Beaker, favorite muppet, Fozzie Bear, Muppets, Sesame Street, who is your favorite muppet
It’s been a couple of weeks since I have done a posting on here. As I have said before, there just never seems to be enough time for me to get on here and post like I would like to. Real life has a way of getting in the way of doing things we would all enjoy more, and then when I do have some free time, I just can’t seem to get the energy up to get on here and write. I think I can can get more into the swing of doing it again every day if I start out by just doing some short posts to get me back into the groove and the mood. It’s hard when you spend all day writing to get the energy up to write just for fun; at least for me it is sometimes.
So for this first short post, I just want to give a quick notice to a new blog that was introduced to me this past week. It’s called “Kids Who Think Outside the Box.” It doesn’t just refer to children who may not fit into what some may call “the normal” or popular group that many kids feel the need to try to fit into. While I may not (and still don’t, I think) fit into what is the mainstream I think it’s great for kids and adults who can embrace being this way and thrive on it. It’s not always an easy thing to do for anybody, particularly if it means you stand alone sometimes. The great thing about is it encourages you to be yourself and be interested about the many different things that go on in the world around us. Try something that is out of the ordinary; encourage your kids and yourself to be as unique as you or they want to be. Most of all, have fun and be happy with who you are and what you do. I have found through my personal experiences that we don’t get a lot of chances to really get the most out of our lives. We spend so much time worrying about things that we don’t have a lot of control over or getting caught in a career or life that we are unhappy with. Take it from me – life can turn on a dime and completely upend you. Take your time to enjoy your family, friends, surroundings and your passions in life.
Check out the blog and see what you think. I think you’ll enjoy giving it a look. More from me later on, including the last story Sean and I were working on and the new one we are working on as well.
Filed under: Blogs, Change, Dreams, Family | Leave a Comment
Tags: blogging, blogs, Kids Who Think Outside the Box
Okay, I never saw Denny McLain pitch in person. As a matter of fact, his career ended in 1972 when I was only five years old. That being, said, even though he did not have a very long career, he accomplished something that very few players have done in their careers. As a matter of fact, he is the last person of the thirteen who did it in the 20th century. Of course, 1968 is known as “The Year of the Pitcher” in baseball, when pitchers basically dominated both the National and American Leagues, McLain included. He wound up winning 31 games that season as the Tigers made their way to the World Series and the eventual championship over the Cardinals.
That wasn’t his only good season. Even though baseball changed the height of the pitcher’s mound and shrunk the strike zone in 1969, McLain still won 24 games and won another Cy Young Award, to go along with his award in 1968 (he also won American League Most Valuable Player that year). No one ever doubted his talent. His first game in the minor leagues for the White Sox in 1962 he threw a no-hitter and struck out 16 batters. He won 20 games in 1966, 17 games in 1967, 31 in 1968, and 24 in 1969. If his 131 career wins, 92 of them came in that four-year span.
Unfortunately for McLain, his personal life led to his undoing. He was always seen as something of a troublemaker and never failed to rouse the ire of teammates, management, fans and baseball itself. He spoke his mind, which often got him into trouble. He was long rumored to have served up a home run ball to Mickey Mantle so Mantle could take over 3rd place on the home run list since he was always a fan of Mantle’s. Besides being outspoken, he seemed to find trouble. He was a known gambler and found himself involved in a bookmaking operation, which led to a suspension. Subsequent suspensions followed him through the 1970 season for other infractions, including carrying a gun onto a flight. The Tigers eventually had enough and traded him to the Senators in October, 1970 in a package deal that also sent Elliott Maddox to the Senators. In return, the Tigers got a package including Joe Coleman, Aurelio Rodriguez and Ed Brinkman. Brinkman and Rodriguez were Gold Glove infielders and Coleman had a good career with the Tigers, so it was quite a steal.
McLain clashed with Senators’ manager Ted Williams, lost 22 games, hurt his arm, ticked off management and got himself traded to the Oakland A’s, who shortly after traded him to the Braves for Orlando Cepeda. He finished 1972 with the Braves, they released him in spring training of 1973, and he was out of baseball at 29.
Granted, McLain became infamous for all of his legal troubles after his baseball career and has spent various stints in prison for things like racketeering and embezzlement. He has also done various sports radio and talk shows and a column for a sports magazine and still resides in Michigan.
It’s sad his career didn’t turn out better than it had as he, like so many others, had the potential to be a Hall of Fame pitcher. He won 131 games and still had all the troubles he had; if he had managed to stay healthy and out of trouble, who knows how good he could have been.
I tried for years to get his autograph but often got no response until I got this card back in 2011, nearly 3 years after I had sent it. it’s from K-mart card collection I had many years ago, and it was nice of him to sign it.
Next time up, we’ll go back to another former Met.
Filed under: Autographs, Baseball | 2 Comments
Tags: baseball, baseball autographs, cy young award, denny mclain, detroit tigers, elliott maddox, oakland a's, orlando cepeda, year of the pitcher
Gack, it seems like it has been a constant cycle of sickness around here for the last few weeks and I haven’t had time to get anything done. I was going through some illness with withdrawal from the Lyrica and then got a cold, and then Sean has been sick with a respiratory infection, so it has been one thing after another, leaving no time to do anything at all for anyone. Now that everyone is feeling better and I am trying to get life back on the rails, I hope I can get back to more regular posts again. I just have to be more strict and regimented about what I am doing and when I am doing it and then I think everything will fall back into place.
Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot going on all around the world of politics, religion, sports and media since I last posted. The Pope is resigning, companies are getting hacked by the Chinese military, the government is nearing yet another financial standoff/crisis, gas prices are ridiculously out of control and there seems to be a countless stream of bad weather all over the country. It sounds like another typical couple of weeks the world over.
in the sports world, today is the Daytona 500, which is great for racing fans. I am not a huge fan, though I do follow and watch some of the races with my brother and I do root for one driver, Travis Kvapil. I just like his style, attitude and name, even if he doesn’t win the race. He tries hard and does his best each time out and had some good finishes last year, so let’s hope for the same this year.
It is also the start of spring training in baseball, bringing about my favorite time of year. I watched the Mets first spring training game on television yesterday and I am really looking forward to the season starting. I have a 15 game package this year, so we’ll be going to a lot of games to root them on and hopefully we’ll have some fun at each game. I’ll be doing a post later on about baseball memories and another player if you want to check back and see who it is later.
The other big news for today I guess is that today is the Academy Awards. I love to watch movies, but I have to be honest and say that I rarely actually go to the movies. I prefer to watch them in my home, so I usually wait until something comes on cable or Netflix before I get to see it, so I haven’t seen any of the nominated films yet this year. it takes a lot for me to actually go to see a movie, one because I think the price is really high to see a movie today and two there just aren’t that many movies that I would actually want to see. Michelle and Sean go to the movies a lot so they see much more than I do, but I do watch a lot of movies late at night on cable, so I have seen more movies as far as volume, but nothing quite as recent. So that leads me into a question for today:
What was the last movie you saw in a movie theater?
As I said, I don’t get out to the movies very often. The last one I saw in a theater was the installment of the Saw movies in 2010, so it’s been a while since I have seen one, but I have to admit there are a few I wouldn’t mind going to the movies to check out. Personally, I don’t often see much out there that looks interesting enough to me to go and see, although I am intrigued by “Dark Skies.” So what is the last movie you went to see in the theater? Let me know what it was and we’ll see what people seem to like the most.
Sean and I are getting back to our writing project as well. Here’s the topic from the latest cards that were drawn from The Storymatic:
A person who can’t wait any longer
At last, love
Sean didn’t like the choices, but we promised to stick to it. Personally, I think it will be easy to write about it, so check back and see about that one as well. Feel free to write along and contribute as well if you would like.
That’s it for this post. I have some other posts to work on now, so keep checking back to see what else goes up. Thanks for sticking with me through all the craziness. I’ll be back later. I think I’ll ask some celebrities what the last movie they saw was as well, so we’ll see if any reply. Talk to you later!
Filed under: Baseball, Celebrities, Movies, Questions, Writing | 4 Comments
Tags: Academy Awards, baseball, baseball memories, Dayotna 500, daytona 500, last movie you saw in a theater, oscars, Spring Training, the storymatic, Travis Kvapil
As we creep closer to the start of spring training, today’s baseball post is about a player baseball fans are likely familiar with. Mitchell Page was a player with tremendous promise. He put up some great numbers in just two seasons in the minor leagues with the Pirates. The Oakland A’s always wanted him, drafting him out of high school in 1970, though he chose to go to college instead. The A’s made a big trade for him, getting Tony Armas, Doc Medich, Rick Langford, Dave Giusti and Doug Bair for Phil Garner, Tommy Helms and Chris Batton. it was a pretty good haul for the A’s, all things considered. Armas and Langford were mainstays with the A’s for a number of years. Giusti and Medich were near the end of their careers and did not add very much. For the Pirates, Helms was nearing the end of his career as well, though Garner would go on and have many good years for the Pirates, including helping them to the 1979 World Series Championship.
Anyway, back to Mitchell Page. Page came up as soon as he was traded and took over left field for the A’s. His first year in the majors was pretty impressive as he hit .307 and had 21 home runs. He finished second to Eddie Murray of the Orioles in the American League Rookie of the Year voting that year. He had a good year in 1978 as well, hitting another 17 home runs. Unfortunately for Page, he got into a contract dispute with A’s owner Charlie Finley after that. Pretty much everyone around that time had a dispute with Finley, who was known for being more than frugal when it came to paying his players and had rid the team of anyone of any value by this point. Page was suspended in the spring, relegated to DH once the season was under way and struggled, hitting just 9 home runs and batting .247. It was pretty much the end for him after that.
He rebounded a little in 1980, hitting 17 home runs but batted just .244. 1981 was a nightmare, batting just.146 even though the A’s made the playoffs. he was left off the playoff roster and spent most of the next couple of years wither in the minor leagues or on the disabled list. The A’s released him in the spring of 1984 and he hooked up with the Pirates, his original club. He only got 12 at-bats with the team in 1984 and none in 1985, spending the whole time in the minors, before he was released and his career ended.
Page bounced around as a minor league and major league coach for years, spending time with the Royals as first base coach and then spending a number of years with the Cardinals as their hitting coach. He was their hitting coach in 2004 when they made it to the World Series and lost to the Red Sox. He spent 2005 and 2006 with Nationals organization and then coached again for the Cardinals organization in 2010.
Sadly, Mitchell Page passed away in 2011. he was known to have his demons and an alcohol problem and was a heavy smoker as well. He had left his jobs with the Cardinals and Nationals for “personal reasons” along the way. He was only 59 when he passed away.
Page had a lot of promise as a young player and maybe he just lived too hard of a life and it caught with his ability at a young age, an all too familiar story for a lot of young ballplayers. I always liked him as a player as he had some home run power and could run pretty well when he first came up. I also had an affinity for those 1970′s A’s teams even though I was a Mets fan. They just had some great characters on those teams who were also good ballplayers. Page at least got a chance to share some of his baseball wisdom with younger players in his years as a coach.
I have a couple of autographs from him that I got from him back in 2010. He was nice enough to sign a couple of old cards I had, including this one from the 1979 Topps set.
Anyone have any memories of Mitchell Page? Feel free to share them in the comments below. Also, if you have any players you might like to see featured, feel free to ask. I have thousands of autographs, so there’s a good chance I might have one from someone you are interested in. There will be another baseball post next week and a couple of regular posts from me along the way. Until next time, only a few more days until spring training officially starts!
Filed under: Autographs, Baseball | Leave a Comment
Tags: autographs, baseball, baseball autographs, Oakland A's.Pittsburgh Pirates, Rookie of the Year
With Spring Training right around the corner and only about a week from now, once or twice a week I’ll be posting a baseball article about one of the players I have autographs from. As many of you know, I am a die-hard Mets fan and one of my goals has always been to try to get the autographs of everyone who has every worn the Mets uniform. No easy task, for sure, and while I have many, there are still some I don’t have and likely never will. Guys like Rogers Hornsby, the Hall of Fame second baseman from early in the twentieth century, was the Mets batting coach in 1962 and died in 1963, making his autograph well out of my price range even for those that I have purchased over the years. Anyway, it has led me to get some autographs of players that many fans may not have heard of, but I often find those players more interesting and fun to get anyway.
Such is the case of today’s subject, Hank Webb. Webb did not have a long career in the majors, spanning 6 seasons, but most of those he only appeared in a couple of games each year. He showed great promise in the minor league system of the Mets as was often talked about as a prized prospect. Unfortunately, he didn’t pan out and ended up getting traded to the Dodgers in 1977 for the great Rick Auerbach, who never actually played a game for the Mets. The only year he had significant innings was in 1975, when he started 15 games for the Mets. He was actually a part of two clubs that made it to the World Series, the 1973 Mets and the 1977 Dodgers, though he didn’t appear in the postseason and only pitched 2 games in 1973 for big club and 5 for the Dodgers. Some Mets fans may remember Webb mostly for being the losing pitcher in the 25 inning game against the Cardinals in 1974. Lesser known is that he did pitch a seven inning no-hitter for the Mets minor league team in Tidewater in 1974. Another interesting fact about him was that while he appeared in 29 games for the Mets in 1975, he also managed to hit .258, which is pretty darn good for a pitcher. The 1975 Mets team had a lot of potential with some good players mixed in with young talent, but things just didn’t come together that year. Sadly, we Mets fans are all too familiar with that mantra. Some people might also remember Hank Webb because he is the father of Ryan Webb, who pitched for the Marlins last year out of the bullpen.
I don’t remember ever seeing Hank pitch myself, in person or on TV, but I was only 8 when he had his busiest season with the Mets. This is the only autograph I have from him, on a 1976 Topps card. You can add him to the list of Mets that might have been or obscure Mets no one seems to remember well. One thing I did notice when I was scanning this card is that he shares the same number as Ike Davis, my current favorite Met on the team.
That’s my baseball memory for today. I’ll have another one later on in the week of another player. Anyone out there have any particular memory of Hank Webb? Please feel free to share it in the comments below. Enjoy the rest of your day as we creep another day closer to the start of spring training.
Filed under: Autographs, Baseball | Leave a Comment
Tags: baseball, baseball autographs, baseball memories, Hank Webb, Mets, rick auerbach, rogers hornsby