Baseball Movie Classics: A Pseudo Marathon, Part Two

(Part One)

The storm this weekend meant that we got in one day of baseball movie watching. First up was Little Big League. This is one of the many children’s baseball movies that came out in the 90s, movies that I remember awfully fondly. (See also: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield) Dan campaigned for this one to be included in our study because it holds up to the test of time despite a very weak actor playing the main character. And he was right. It’s a great, if unlikely, story, about a kid whose grandfather dies and leaves him the Minnesota Twins. After arguing with the Twins’ manager, twelve-year-old Billy names himself the manager. It’s fairly straightforward from there: single mom is romanced by the first baseman. Old grizzled reliever resents having a kid as a manager. But what this movie has going for it are a bunch of really fun team members, clever trick plays, former MLB players playing the baseball players in the movies (including former Met Kevin Elster!), the Twins’ actual radio announcer, Chris Berman doing Baseball Tonight, and cameos from big-name 90s baseball greats like Ken Griffey, Jr, Pudge Rodriguez, Paul O’Neill, Randy Johnson, Lou Piniella and Rafael Palmeiro. You don’t see that kind of thing any more, and it’s just flat-out cool. Oh! And don’t let me forget that this movie contains a sweet baseball montage to “Centerfield” by John Fogerty. Which is kind of essential. It’s a good story and it’s funnier than you think. Good stuff.

Bull Durham was next, and this one carries a lot of weight. I’ve only seen it once, but both Dan and my brother list it among their very favorite movies. This was part of Kevin Costner’s late 80s baseball movie trifecta, and it’s GOOD. I mean, this is an amazing movie. Because this movie focuses on a really terrible minor league team, it’s unique. It’s about baseball and love and loving baseball, and about wanting to make it in the majors. And about sometimes not making it. Tim Robbins is hilarious as a clueless hotshot rookie who has no control on the mound, while Susan Sarandon is the woman who adopts one player each year and makes him great. But it’s even more about Kevin Costner’s character, and old catcher whose last hurrah will be grooming Tim Robbins to make it big. Maybe this movie’s strength comes from the fact that it was written by a guy who played in the minors for five years and really understands what that means. Another “Centerfield” montage, a fast-talking manager, and a really great cast of characters only add to Bull Durham’s charm. It’s funny, it’s sexy, and it’s a great story. So, so, so good. Don’t watch it with kids. But I love it.

Things I Want To Tell You About

  • Gold Bond Hand Sanitizing Moisturizer. I work with the public. I wash my hands a lot. I use a lot of that alcohol-based hand sanitizer. My hands are always, always, always crazy dry. I wash my hands, I put on lotion. The non hand sanitizer style Gold Bond lotion has really saved my hands from true horrors this winter. So I finally tried this new stuff, and I know this is super geeky, but it just makes me so happy. It gets the job done (while preventing me from thinking too much about how germy my workplace is), smells good, and it feels like I just put lotion on afterwards. Awesome.
  • Every few months, my lips get monstrously chapped. Sometimes I blame it on my allergy medicine, but that’s just a guess. It’s horrible; not your standard-issue chapped lips. They feel tight and then they crack and peel and flake and when it gets really bad, it’s like it spreads around the perimeter of my lips. And I have tried Every. Damn. Lip Balm. There Is. Burts Bees, straight up Vaseline, the new Neosporin super healing one, everything. And nothing really works, and I’m left just waiting it out. Well! I finally found the answer. And I am sharing it not because I think you care about my chapped lips, but this has been such a magic solution that you might want to know, too. It’s Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and I bought it in a pack of two 0.35 ounce tubes that are more chapstick-sized. My lips got really bad on Monday, and by Thursday they were back to normal. This is unprecedented. And amazing. And not even expensive! Also, it’s not medicated so it doesn’t sting, and it doesn’t smell or taste like anything. Hooray!
  • I finally joined listography, after long coveting the books and just loving that they even have a website. I added a link to the sidebar with what lists I have going now. Since writing lists features heavily on my 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 List, I thought it would be fun to have them over there. I may actually transition my books read/to read/movies seen lists over there exclusively, but I’m not sure yet.
  • And finally! I added the most current links from my delicious page in the sidebar, as well. I used to just star items in Google Reader, but I am not fond of the methods Reader offers for getting back to the items. Plus, I like that delicious allows me to just tag any site on the web. I’ve been using this for links I want to refer back to – recipes, craft ideas, wishlisty things, but mostly things I actually want to do or make or try, rather than just things I think are pretty. So in case you’re interested, that’s over there too.

Baseball Movie Classics: a Pseudo Marathon, Part One

When I wrote my 28 To Do List last summer, #11 was to watch some of those movies everyone thinks I should have seen, but I haven’t. There are a lot of important cinematic classics that I’m embarrassed never to have seen. Like The Godfather. Or Terminator 2. Or most of the classic baseball movies. But it’s not like I have a list of movies that fit this criteria, it’s more that I hate that feeling when someone can’t believe I haven’t seen something so ubiquitous. So this list item has been knocking around in my head, without a good solution. But my friends, baseball season is drawing near, and what better time than now to start an extended marathon of the classic baseball movies? (Prior to this project I had seen Major League once, Bull Durham once, A League of Their Own a bunch of times, and Rookie of the Year a million, billion times. Also frequently watched: The Sandlot. And Angels in the Outfield.)

So I consulted my brother and my boyfriend to make sure the list of movies was complete. We left out most of the children’s movies (see above: I’ve seen them a million times). The ones we included were ones John or Dan loved, or ones that were important to the baseball movie genre. Or simply ones I really need to have seen, just for the sake of completeness. We aren’t planning to watch these in a standard marathon, but over the course of the weekends in March, leading up to opening day. Maybe this will be a new tradition!

We started off with The Natural. I loved it. And I think I have a crush on Robert Redford now. This one had all of the best things non-comedy baseball movies should: solid montages, a spitfire manager, someone trying to take down the team, and best of all, old timey uniforms. Dan and I really like old timey baseball. It has a certain something modern baseball just can’t get at. I think, though, that this one I’m definitely going to need to watch again. The problem with watching a movie that you know is classic and well-regarded is that you’re on pins and needles waiting for something bad to happen. This happened when I finally saw the Shawshank Redemption three years ago, too. I was waiting for something horrible and sad and heartbreaking to happen at the end; to end up sobbing. It’s hard to relax and enjoy a movie with that in the back of your mind. But nothing as catastrophic as I feared happened in The Natural, and the scenes on the field at the end are pure baseball magic. Classic through and through.

Next up was Field of Dreams. I’m no stranger to the creepy whisper-shouted If you build it, he will come. I didn’t expect that the building of the baseball diamond in the cornfield would be finished so early in the movie, and that a larger spirit-quest would ensue, with further mysteriously whispered and unintelligible instructions. Before I say anything else, I do want to point out that I’m obviously approaching all of these movies with the open mind of a true baseball fan. But Field of Dreams? It was a little MUCH, wasn’t it? It was all Important Swell of Music and Long Pauses Before Meaningful Moments. It felt like they were bashing me over the head with these Meaningful Baseball Moments, rather than just letting the moments develop in a meaningful way just because it’s a good story that pulls your heartstrings. (See: The Natural). Maybe it was because the story is about life and nostalgia and this one man’s journey, rather than about the game of baseball… But I could do without this one. I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t know if this needs to be added to my personal rotation or anything. Of course, Dan’s brother Dave yelled at me for saying all of this. “This is one of the few guy movies with non-cheesy emotion! How can you mock it?!” Ooops.

This is going to be such a fun project.

Two Birds, One Stone

When I wrote my 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 list, several of the items on the list were meant to be ongoing. I didn’t intend to only go to one brewery, or to only go on one interesting photo-taking excursion. This past weekend, not only did I visit another brewery (the first one was Defiant Brewery in Pearl River, NY), but I had two days in a row of interesting photo-taking excursions! (It’s not the first time I’ve packed a weekend chock-full of photo-taking, either.)

On Friday, I went into New York to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Pookie and Schnookie. They go on trips like this every few months, and I’ve long been jealous of the amazing photo opportunities. I was a little nervous about the art museum factor, because I was having trouble visualizing how long I’d stay entertained taking photos of sculptures and paintings.

January 22, 2010

Well, as it turns out, there’s a lot of really interesting stuff at the Met. (Understatement of the century? Perhaps.) A lot of the pictures didn’t turn out how I wanted them to, but for all of my test shots (hee), I got a few photos I’m really, really pleased with.

geometric patterns! everyone stop!

What was also interesting was the fact that despite being surrounded by priceless, historic works of art, I was taking pictures of gratings, geometric patterns, and the architectural details of the museum itself. I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s just my style.

I'd totally hang one of these in my apartment.

But it was an adventure kind of day, with some time spent on a random NYC street waiting for the real business of the day to conclude (some of my favorite photos are from that hour, actually!), cupcakes, and the chance to stretch the way you look at what’s around you. I can’t wait to see the pictures I took with the film camera that day.

Is it possible to make ugly NJ Transit seats almost pleasing to the eye?

I got a few items on my Scavenger Hunt, and this one shot on an ugly NJ Transit train that might be one of my favorites from the whole day. How crazy is that?

how could I have forgotten?

Did I mention the cupcakes? I had another one on Saturday and it was, if possible, more mindblowing than these ones. And I just realized I never posted the photo of that cupcake, either. I think that means I’ll have to go back for another one, and SOON.

Saturday was the first photo meetup I’ve organized, and it brought together work friends, a college friend, Dan, and a flickr friend in a way that I was nervous about beforehand. What if they hated each other and it was all my fault? Okay, well, I didn’t really think that would happen, because I know all of these people and if *I* think they are all awesome, it just follows naturally that they all think the same about each other. Turns out? We all had an awesome time. It was so cool.

rusty geometric patterns

We first walked around campus taking pictures of details, buildings, and dead plants. There were a lot of test shots. We took a break for coffee to rest our feet and quench our thirst, and then visited not one, but TWO paper stores. The boys entertained themselves with a book about farts, while everyone else enabled me as I bought paper, a stamp, another e for my wall of Es, oh and a little dandelion card that’s so small and adorable that I’m sure I’ll never use it.

star filtered little beers

By that point we were hungry and starting to get chilly, so we headed over to Triumph Brewery, which I’ve been hearing about from friends and coworkers for a long time. They have quite a few beers available, and most of us got samplers of all seven beers. I got to try the Honey Blonde (very good, very light), Amber Ale (loved it), Bock (also loved it), Irish Dry Stout (stouts are never my favorites, but I liked this one a lot), Bengal Gold IPA (not as crazy strong as most IPAs, but still an IPA. I’d have to be in the mood for it; the sampler size was perfect), Winter Wonder (totally awesome, and such a high alcohol content that Dan’s came in a snifter rather than a pint glass. When he asked for a man-style glass for it, they refused because the high alcohol content means they have to serve it in smaller glasses), and the Gothic Ale (an English style ale that was a little warm on purpose. Good but not my favorite). The food was pretty awesome, too. I’m so glad we went, and I’m glad I got to go with so many people, and I still can’t believe how much we laughed.

for our imaginary upcoming photo exhibit

After the brewery, we were all craving something sweet, so we proceeded to the Bent Spoon, where a few of us got shakes, a few got ice cream, Dan got some intense hot chocolate, and I got another cupcake. We all wished we’d gotten what the others had gotten and the only reasonable conclusion was that we’d all need to visit again, and often. We’re already concocting plans for a warmer-weather, more beachy type of meetup.

But more than anything else, both days were everything you want a photo excursion to be – fun times full of sparkling wit, embarrassing admissions, tasty food, realizing that other people take awful photos half the time too, and above all being inspired by people who love photography as much as you do. I can’t wait until the next time we do this!

#13: Finish those damn cross stitches for my mom already!

For her birthday in 2006, I made my mom a small square cross stitch. It was an Elizabethan knot garden and I got it from a book of traditional cross stitch motifs that I bought when I first became obsessed with the immediacy of cross stitch as a hobby. Of course, that small cross stitch took significantly more time than I ever expected, but it turned out so cool and my mom was really happy with it.

Elizabethan Knot Garden, 2006

I surprised her in 2007 by making another Elizabethan knot garden and revealing that it would be a trilogy, and very soon.

Elizabethan Knot Garden, 2007

And then I sort of got tired of working on such intense, detailed stitching projects (compared to my usual fare!). But I wanted to finish the set, especially after my parents redecorated their bedroom and the colors worked perfectly with the little cross stitched gardens. So when I wrote my list of things to do while I was 27 in the summer of 2008, I made finishing (okay, starting and THEN finishing) the last garden #17.

And it just didn’t happen. My mom eventually stopped asking about it, and I felt bad.

So when I put the same task on my list of things to do while I’m 28 this past summer, I really meant it. I mean, cursing on my list? GASP. But secretly, I started working on it. And I finished it and succeeded in not taking or posting any photos of the finished project so as not to reveal the surprise.

Elizabethan Knot Garden, 2009

And my mom was surprised, and super happy, and she didn’t even make any comments about how it took three years to get all three. And now they live happily on her dresser, and even though they’re deceptively difficult to get a crisp photo of, they look pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

January 21, 2010

#2: Visit Local Breweries

December 4, 2009

It’s really no secret that I’m kind of in love with beer. (I’m thisclose to finishing my 52 Beers project, in fact.) So adding an item about visiting local breweries when I wrote my 28 to do list seemed a bit obvious. But for all of my love of beer, there are several really good breweries in the general area, and I have never been to ANY of them. I don’t know why. It’s silly. So! This past weekend, when Pete said he wanted to celebrate his birthday at Defiant Brewing Company in Pearl River, New York, you better believe I was in. (Okay fine, I would have been in to celebrate Pete’s birthday, brewery or not, but the brewery was like an added bonus. Especially given how much I like to check things off of lists!)

the menu

Anyway! My friends have been frequenting this brewery for a while, because the beer is good, the prices make your jaw drop, and the atmosphere is awesome. It was pretty crowded when we showed up around 10pm on a Friday night, but after an hour or two, it calmed down to the perfect type of bar vibe: there’s a place to sit, the beer is awesome, and you can hear each other talk. (I never claimed to be one of the cool kids!)

clearly, this shot was a misfire, focus-wise

I’ve been to breweries before, but Defiant had way more beers to choose from than I expected. I tried the Prohibition Pilsner (light for your non-dark-beer-loving pals, but not so light that a real beer lover won’t be happy) and one of the lagers, the Muddy Creek Lager, which I really enjoyed. The beer was really good. And for every three you drink, the fourth is free. Free! And they’re only $3.25 to start with! Honestly. It’s probably good that I don’t live closer.

Chocolate Porter, Defiant Brewing Company

It was a lot of fun, and not just because of the beer. I can’t wait to go back. Even if my clothes reeked of hops and yeast and barley something AWFUL after we left. (But don’t consider this item checked off! Triumph, I’m looking at you!)

the bartenders do double duty

Things That Make Me Happy

  1. the CLICK of the shutter and the the kerCHUNK of the film advancing on a film camera
  2. the smell of wet leaves on the ground
  3. bagels
  4. sunshine in the morning
  5. holidays with my family
  6. making apple pie with my mom
  7. converse
  8. composition books
  9. Coke Cherry Zero
  10. waking up to discover a text message arrived while I was sleeping
  11. planning my outfit around my patterned socks
  12. being in the middle of a really good, really long book
  13. lazy Sundays watching football and tv shows on dvd all day
  14. watercolors
  15. the promise of a full scale Thanksgiving dinner