Candy Crush Addict

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Candy Crush is pretty darn addictive.  Ole Hemingway and Ed A. Poe would have played and God only knows how it would have affected their writing.  The thing is, the music and the sound effects drive me crazy. I muted the settings 3 weeks ago, but I can still hear the small town carny music in my head when I play.  I imagine it’d have driven a deaf Beethoven to an earlier grave.  I can see Van Gogh out there in the fields with his mini iPad, cursing the game  – and cutting off his other ear to get rid of the trip hop soundscape.  Instead of Starry Night, we might have gotten Wavy Jelly Beans.

And here’s another thing.  It took me about a year to get past level 23, and I thought I’d be stuck there for the rest of my Candy Crush life.  I steadfastly refuse to buy boosters, but am tempted to buy some of those Red Hot Tamales in a box, if they still make them – remember those?  And maybe a case of green Chiclets.  What I would do for a bag of Lucky Charms marshmallows.   I admit it, I’m a sugar addict –  that’s why I play.  I’m not a gambler, don’t like the on-line version of games – been to a casino once and thought it was the dumbest thing I’d ever done in my life.  Look, I don’t need a new life, and I think it’s worth a little more than 99 cents…actually, maybe I do need a life, and thanks for the offer too – but keep the 5 extra moves to yourselves…ok, I’ll take them.  If you really want to give me a present, send over a couple cases of Lemonheads.

Play on!  I would but I’m on timeout with this message:  Level 28 – you FAILURE!  No more lives for you.

PS – If you’re on Spotify, mute that Candy Crush crap and play this instead: Candy Crush Grooves.

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The Cooperstown Myth

Baseball HOF

It’s not Williams College

Cooperstown.  I waited 30 some odd years, but my day finally came.  I didn’t get any votes or anything.  Just a few souvenirs and a bunch of photos, some good, some not so.   What is Cooperstown?  You really don’t know?  If you are an American from the United States of America (because you could be an American from 34 other countries that constitute the continents of North and South America) you should know.  You should not only know its claim to fame (and it really is a claim) but know where this mythical place is located.   I’ll tell you where it’s not.  It’s not in western MA, the home of Williams College.  And I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not a place where they make tires, you know, Cooper tires, or barrels – actually they might make barrels there.   I’ll tell you what it has:  a lake – Lake Ostego, where you can’t toss stones or bring your pets or even fish, but where you can rent out boats, I think.

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Cooperstown.  It’s in upstate NY (I think everything except NYC is upstate) in the middle of a bunch of Monsanto green cow pastures.  The gently rolling slopes of the Alleghenies intoxicate.  And then out of nowhere, a sign appears – 300 miles to Buffalo.  Have you noticed that wherever you are in NY, there’s always a sign for Buffalo?

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Cooperstown.  No coopers there.  And no buffalo as far as I could tell.  But lots of tourists.  It’s a tourist town, with one attraction, and one attraction only – The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  And I went through through this shrine to baseball the other day and can now proudly check it off my bucket list.  And what a fine shrine it is; baseball’s hallowed ground and as much the story of the “United” States of America, as baseball, as Ken Burns would say, and I think he’s right.

My wife asked, why Cooperstown in the middle of nowhere?  We all know Abner Doubleday invented the game in Cooperstown in 1839, the same man who later became a Union General during the Civil War.  But it’s not true.  Doubleday had nothing to do with the game and Cooperstown as the birth of baseball is little more than a manufactured lie that got the town a permanent contract with baseball, thanks to the Sporting Goods king, A.J. Spalding, who no doubt stood to benefit – a boon to the tycoon. The museum displays the “Doubleday” baseball found in some guys attic in Cooperstown that was supposed to prove Doubleday invented the game.  A poster above the display concedes that the ball did not prove Doubleday invented the game and that baseball derives from  other games played in England and elsewhere long before 1839.  However, a commission ruled otherwise and so the myth was born.

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And so baseball is really a reinvention of cricket and rounders and similar games from overseas brought over by early settlers and tweaked over the years until the game was finally codified and standardized.   And good thing too, because at one point, you could literally throw a guy out by hitting him with the baseball.

As unoriginal as the game turns out to be, baseball really is the story of this country.  Union prisoners played the game.  Segregated leagues paralleled the black struggle for racial equality during the Jim Crow years.  Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier that led to the integration of the major leagues which predated Brown v. Board of Education by a good five years.  Women first played the game in dresses.  As the game spread to other countries where America has strategic interests, the game caught fire and is now played around the Americas and the world.  In today’s modern game, the rosters are more diverse than ever with players originally from Cuba, Canada, Australia, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, Japan, South Korea, and the Dominican Republic. But regrettably, our national pastime, with its humble school yard roots in England, has been co-opted and commercialized to serve the interests of big business from the very beginning.  And without a salary cap, the Yankees and the Red Sox will always have a competitive advantage.

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But I liked the museum.  As a Red Sox fan, I liked seeing Babe Ruth’s and Ted Williams wax statues swinging together like best friends.  And the oil painting of Cy Young pitching who looked  like a giant 65 year old grandfather put a smile on my face.   I had my picture taken in front of the exhibit of one of my favorite baseball players, Roberto Clemente.  I took a photo of Curt Shilling’s shoes that held a bloody sock, that was not on display.  I snapped shots of an autographed Pedro Martinez Red Sox jersey, Phil Niekro‘s baseball card portrait, some old dresses the ladies used to wear when they played, and a few shriveled up gloves that looked like giant milk duds, which is also how I described some old Hall of Fame basketballs I saw in Springfield, MA.

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I enjoyed the day, as did my wife, who doesn’t like baseball.  The museum delights thousand of fans, young and old alike from all over the globe everyday.  Cooperstown; myth making at its best, the stuff of dreams and souvenirs.  And if you’re easily spooked like I am, stay away from the wax museum, just up the street.

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Ribbie’s Bucket List

Me at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Me at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Cooperstown.  Another one ticked off my bucket list.  But as a kid, it wasn’t on my list – I thought I’d be inducted; not many kids actually would or should have a bucket list or know what one is for that matter.  The closet thing to kicking the bucket I’d heard of as a kid was the game Kick the Can.  Even for most of my adulthood, if you had asked me what a bucket list was, I don’t think I’d have guessed correctly.  I might have just said a list of stuff you need for cleaning the house.  Kicking the proverbial bucket wouldn’t have entered my mind.  I was never too good with the meaning of proverbs anyway.  I think I have a proverb learning disability.  I mean I still can’t figure out why “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.  I was taught never to handle a bird because it might piss off its mother.  Plus, birds are known to peck and claw out the eyeballs of their handlers and to attack unsuspecting passersby.  I saw The Birds (1963) when I was younger (too young to have seen it) and I am still traumatized by it to this day.

So, I’m bad with proverbs and have lived without knowing I had a bucket list.  For the last 30 some odd years, I’ve lived my life with my head or is it nose to the grindstone, avoiding proverbs, raising two kids with my wife, taking vacations when possible and saving for retirement as best I can.  The meaning of Bucket List finally registered with me when I saw the movie previews of Bucket List (2007) starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

Ribbie’s Partial Bucket List:

  • Visit all the continents
  • Learn Spanish
  • Learn Guitar
  • Intelligently describe a wine
  • Football Hall of Fame
  • Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • NYC
  • Niagara Falls
  • Central and South America
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Grand Canyon
  • India
  • Brazil
  • Red Sox baseball game
  • Patriot’s football game
  • Globetrotters
  • California
  • Mexico
  • Civil Rights Museum
  • Marry
  • Have Kids
  • Send Kids to College
  • Start a blog
  • Write a book
  • Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Tie my shoe
  • Whistle through my fingers
  • trekking thru Europe in a Fiat Panda
  • Yes concert with my kids
  • DC (really do it)
  • DJ
  • Win the Lottery
  • Enjoy retirement with my wife

No Outlet in Suburbia

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My wife and I rolled out to the Midwest for a high school graduation party for my accomplished and college bound nephew at my sister’s in a suburb of a big city that I’ll call C. to pay tribute to Franz Kafka.  Kurt Vonnegut would have called it a middle western suburb.  Incidentally, we rolled passed the signs to his home town of Schenectady, NY in route.  Now I grew up in a quiet suburb in Arkansas, so I know a thing or two about suburban living, (there should be a magazine by the same name), but nothing prepared me for certain aspects of middle western suburban culture.  In fairness, I haven’t lived in what one could call “the suburbs” in 30 years; we live in an urban suburb where the neighbors are friendly, but guarded.  The streets are loud and busy with tricked out cars dressed in sports mufflers, mean looking bikers straddling snarling Harley Davidsons and aggressive drivers flooring their gas chugging SUV’s and illegally passing all smaller vehicles in their path.  Sirens drown out the jaybirds, crows and black-capped chickadees – sirens which produce a white noise that is somehow urban comfortable.

In middle western suburbia, the most common summer sounds are that produced by the gas powered mowers and weed eaters courtesy of landscaping services.  All the lawns are Monsanto green; all hedges meticulously groomed.  Because all the lawns looked the same, I got lost walking around the neighborhood of treeless yards the size of football fields dotted with linear rows of flower beds full of marigolds and daffodils from Home Depot.

The most disorienting thing of all (like losing the horizon when flying) are all the No Outlet signs.  I think this is a suburban euphemism for Dead End, but I can’t be sure.  It might mean that there are no outside electrical outlets to discourage rogue teens from usurping power for their arsenal of gadgets.  Or it may just be to keep outsiders away.  As my wife and I walked down the streets with no outlets, I could feel the neighborhood watch staring at us.  Admittedly, as strangers armed with a flip case iPhone and a long lensed Nikkon DSLR, we looked suspicious.  I felt afraid and near panic stricken as our devices ran low on power.  We barely had juice enough to GPS our way back to the safety of my sister’s house.

Another curious suburban phenomenon are the speed limits there.  Most streets, even the “major” thoroughfares, have a maximum speed limit of 20 mph.  My car won’t even go that slow.  I literally had to coast to go 20 mph.  The police have zero tolerance for speeders.  And because of the alarming crime wave in the area, a suburb over, where several men were convicted of lawn neglect, teens have a 9:00 pm curfew; just as well, as there are no outdoor outlets for suburban youth.

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