Thursday, April 26, 2007

bill lee

Yes, this is same fella Warren Zevon recorded a song about.

I really don’t write letters to current or former baseball players and ask them for an autograph. However, after recently reading Bill Lee’s The Wrong Stuff and watching “Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey,” the documentary about Bill and his trips to Cuba to play baseball, I decided it would be a shame to not have one of his cards autographed in my collection.

So I sent Bill a letter along with one of my Archaeology Rocks t-shirts, and asked him to sign his card from the 1972 Topps set. Several weeks later, he sent it back… signed beautifully with a blue Sharpie.

Even if you don’t happen to follow baseball, Bill Lee is a person worthy of your attention. The fact that the “Spaceman” includes “EARTH” in his signature should be enough to make you want to Google him and find out what that is all about. There are so many interesting things about this man that I wouldn’t even attempt to summarize his character in a blog entry.

You’ll have to excuse me now so I can begin reading Have Glove Will Travel.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

one man's trash...

... is another man’s dollhouse.

Whether you live in a large city or the smallest of towns, you can always bank on discovering the strangest things while walking through alleys. I guess it boils down to the notion that people invest the majority of their yard beautification efforts towards the front of their homes, and neglect the backsides under the theory that no one will see it. Possibly that also indicates that most people are oblivious to what alleys have to offer beyond serving as a path to their garage, or the rare shortcut. Many people also tend to employ “their” alley as an extension of their world.

I think I’ve always been a sort of alley investigator, although I definitely prefer to explore them on foot rather than by car. First, I tend to miss the finer details when traveling at say, 35 miles an hour compared to 2 or even 3 miles per hour. Also, vehicles pretty much remove any possibility of stealth from the operation, whereas on foot a person may only attract the attention of the occasional family dog, or an entire block of family dogs if you have unusually large feet, or haven’t learned how to pick them up when you walk.

I recently encountered this relatively creepy item while on walkabout in search of interesting items to photograph. It was stashed in the alley behind a large house in Albuquerque’s historic Huning Highland Addition that was featured prominently in the nightmarish film “Suspect Zero.”

I was immediately captivated by the amount of effort that appeared to go into the construction of the house to make it look old and run down. Then I realized that it probably wasn’t so much the effort that went into the creation it inasmuch as it was just sloppily constructed and then more than likely left outside in the elements for any number of years. When I reached down to move the house into light more suitable for photography, I was impressed the object’s weight. I was particularly fond of the yellow room upstairs.

Upon reaching the conclusion that the toy wasn’t a scale model of the property’s actual house, I realized that it was time to continue with my exploration. Although I didn’t feel any urges to save the item from an eventual trip to the dump, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is an interesting story surrounding this house.

Monday, April 16, 2007

old red mare

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and I had an understanding. He would write fabulous books, and I would read them. Otherwise, we left each other alone. This is how it always was. This is how it should always have continued to be. Unfortunately, Time and Nature conspired to rain on that parade.

Now that I’m positive Kurt isn’t reading my blog (at least my blog isn’t getting any hits from IP addresses from Tralfamadore), I can write about topics that I otherwise may not have- such as the odometer reading in my pickup truck.

As trivial as it may be, my truck reached a milestone on the same day that Mr. Vonnegut passed away, by hitting the 100,000-mile mark. I remember when I was a kid the day our family car (I think it was a 1965 Chevy Impala) was going to “roll over,” and I thought it was going to literally flip off to the side of the road. It didn’t. I also remember my eyes being glued to the odometer as the dials changed for the next four miles. Then I sorta lost interest as we neared the Spoon River bridge.

When I purchased my Ford Ranger on August 20, 1995, I did so because I was pumping so much money into keeping my Dodge Daytona running that I figured I might as well be making payments on a new vehicle. It was the first brand new vehicle I had ever purchased, so it was a pretty big deal. Obviously I had no idea how long the truck would last, and quite honestly, I didn’t think much about it either. I was just happy to have a reliable means of tooling around Phoenix and the greater southwest.

Fast forward nearly a dozen years and an estimated 35 oil changes, the milestone was reached just west of the San Mateo overpass while traveling east on Interstate 40 through the heart of Albuquerque. If you must know, Aretha Franklin’s “Spanish Harlem” was flowing from the factory radio and speakers.

Overall, it has been a very good truck. The truck’s 13th windshield (that has been cracked now for a couple of years) stands testament to the fact that I no longer attempt to fight the fact that the vehicle is a magnet for flying gravel. The truck definitely has a unique personality, and features strange behavior such as the windshield wipers turning themselves on randomly, it hates to be washed, and similar to the driver, the radio receiver doesn’t “get” NPR.

It is possible that these items may be attributed to spiritual remnants attached to the human remains and associated grave items that were transferred in the cab from archaeological excavation sites around Arizona to various laboratories. Certainly there is no indication that Henry Ford’s ghost has been hitching a ride.

Monday, April 02, 2007

opening day 2007

Best day of the year? Why that would be Opening Day of course! How’d you celebrate the occasion this year?

I spent the afternoon soaking up rays and suds at Isotopes Park watching a ballgame between the visiting San Diego State Aztecs and the University of New Mexico Lobos. Normally, I steer clear of college baseball, but not when a team is managed by the likes of Tony Gwynn.

Recently elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Gwynn is quite happy to sign autographs for anyone who asks nicely with a “please,” and adds a sincere “thank you.”

After Tony walked around the dugout showing this card and saying, “This is my motorcycle,” I asked him how the bike was doing. He replied that it was "sitting in the garage collecting dust." It is nice to be reminded that even Hall of Fame ballplayers are regular people (sort of).