The Garden

A squash-friendly blog for our times

Sunday, September 19, 2004


It was a dark and stormy night.

Last night, I caught what will surely be the last baseball for me of the season. The remnants of Hurricane Ivan had visited earlier in the day, and the wind was still blowing in mightily from the outfield at Citizens Bank Park (a/k/a The Vault). And, let me tell you, even if you didn't factor in the wind chill, it was almost downright cold. Thank heavens I'd dressed in layers (thanks, Mom!).

All that physical discomfort could mean only one thing: Extra innings. It took all of 14 innings, in fact, before the hometown Phillies self-destructed once again. Sigh. Final score: Expos 6, Phillies 5.

When you have to turn the heat on when you get in from a ballgame, you know it's finally autumn.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


If only there were a yellow school bus...

Two of my favorite bloggers—Joe of Deeper Shade of Seoul and Will Baude of Crescat Sententia—have first-day-of-law-school stories to tell today. Joe's story is about the pre-class jitters that I'm sure are already gone for good. Will, meanwhile, has some first-day quotes to share.

Neither Joe nor Will needs any advice from me, but I'd have my eyebrow permanently cocked and ready to raise for any Contracts professor who said his class was "really about love." That's either creepy or lovely, and I'm not sure which.

Yes, I miss the drive-thru daiquiri stands.

The new issue of Bookslut is up (or is that out?), and I immediately headed for Liz Miller's interview with New Orleans novelist Poppy Z. Brite. Brite's new novel, Liquor, tells the story of a couple's quest to open a restaurant where every dish is based on the strong stuff. Having read the interview, Liquor, which was already on my wish list, goes right to the top of the list. It sounds just too New Orleans-y to put off.

It's been over three years since I last lived in New Orleans, and it's been over eight years (goodness) since I finished law school there. The food, the music, the architecture, the weather, the mix of peoples—it all got to me. Now, I guess, I'm homesick for New Orleans in pretty much the same way I'm homesick for Oklahoma. In both places, I feel like I belong. (It's funny how some places can seem like "home" a lot faster than others.) I sort of feel like I'm a New Orleanian as well as an Okie at the core. So why am I living in Pennsylvania, huh? Good question.

Anyway, via the Bookslut interview, I learned that Brite keeps an online journal, Dispatches from Tanganyika. What a smartly written, interesting journal! Today, I laughed and laughed every time I thought about her September 4 entry: That day, Brite attended a birthday party thrown by a neighborhood for a longstanding pothole. Hee. If you know anything about the city, you know that's a New Orleans story if there ever was one....

Monday, September 06, 2004


Labor Day Lessons

Today is Labor Day in the States—and Canada, too, although I guess it's actually Labour Day there. I'm always a little bit sad on this last holiday of the summer. As I've said before (random aside: this is one of my most linked-to posts), autumn is simply over-rated, and it's always been a lot more fun for me than winter. I'm just not equipped for the cold or, for that matter, even the cool. [Insert your own reptile joke here.] But I've vowed this year to try to focus more on the beauty inherent in changing seasons change and less on the physical discomforts of the cooler seasons.

Anyway, there's not a lot going on in Blogistan today. Everyone is apparently trying to squeeze in one last trip to the beach.... If you're looking for something to read, though, I do have a few worthy nominees:Is there a theme to this post? Seriously, I'm asking.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


This was my September 4.

  • As you probably know, I grew up in Oklahoma, and—even though I currently live somewhere else—a huge part of my identity comes from being an Oklahoman. Naturally enough, I root for the Oklahoma Sooners during football season. Unlike most Sooners fans, though, I also have a soft spot for Bowling Green State University, where I earned a master's degree a lifetime or two ago.... So today, when the highly-ranked Sooners met the lowly-regarded Falcons from BGSU, I didn't know what to think. Somehow or other, it made me feel better to know that the Pride of Oklahoma, OU's marching band, had to play the Bowling Green fight song today (link via Life and Deatherage). Final score: Oklahoma 40, BGSU 24.

  • To get away from the dissonance of the OU-BGSU football match-up, the flatmate and I drove to Lancaster, Pa., to attend the 26th Annual Long's Park Art & Craft Festival. I knew one of my favorite ceramicists, Hiroshi Nakayama, would be there, and, anyway, I have a hard time passing up any good craft show. Today's major purchase: an enormous framed print of this Alan Krug photograph. I can't decide whether it belongs in my kitchen or at the office....

  • When I got back from the festival, I needed something, um, different to read, and I found it. Erik Hanson has an essay at Killing the Buddha that's the best writing on religion I've read in ages. His piece is called "Bible Porn," and it describes Hanson's stint as wayward counselor at a camp hosted by an evangelical Protestant denomination. Hilariously, and also poignantly, Hanson decided he'd rather convert his teenage charges to existentialism than to Jesus. Highly recommended!
  • Wednesday, September 01, 2004


    My U.S. Open Picks—A First Look Back

    A little bit earlier this evening, the last of the first-round U.S. Open matches—Tommy Haas vs. Davide Sanguinetti, if you're (inexplicably) keeping track—finished up. That means it's time to take my first good look at how my picks did.

    How did my first-round picks do? I did about as well (or, if you prefer, about as poorly) as I generally do, correctly picking 44 of the 64 first-round men's matches. (As always, I didn't make picks in every first-round women's match.) That works out to about 68.8%. I did better at last year's Open, when I correctly picked over 73% of the first-round matches. But it's about what I managed at the two previous Slams this year: I correctly picked 45 of the first-round men's matches at both Wimbledon and the French Open this year.

    Some day, I vow, I'm going to achieve an 80% accuracy rate at a Slam. I wonder how long that will take....

    How are my projected quarterfinalists doing? On the men's side, seven of my eight projected quarterfinalists survived the first round. One of my nuttier picks, Juan Ignacio Chela (#17), lost in five sets today to Brazil's Richard Mello (who's ranked No. 117 in the world). Even though I said my confidence in this pick was "lower than low," I'm shocked that Chela didn't make it further in the tourney. It's a shame, too; Chela had an awfully sweet draw. Speaking of the draw, this section is startlingly open now: Not only did Chela lose, but Jonas Bjorkman (#32) did, too. As for a back-up pick, I guess I'll have to go with No. 8 David Nalbandian, even though he's played very little this year. In his first-round match, anyway, Nalbandian didn't seem to be too hampered by his recent injuries.

    Happily enough, all eight of my projected women's quarterfinalists are still in the tournament. I'm sure that'll change soon enough. Actually, for awhile today, I was afraid Julia Vakulenko was going to uspet one of my picks for the semifinals, Amélie Mauresmo. Mauresmo, though, managed to come back from the loss of the opening set.

    How'd I do with the projected first-round upsets? As you may recall, having decided to play things cautiously on the men's side of the draw, I couldn't bring myself to actually pick a single upset (although, admittedly, I said I was 100% sure that there'd be upsets). There were actually quite a few—eight—upsets, though:
  • Qualifier Andreas Seppi upset the struggling No. 11 seed, Rainer Schuettler;
  • Thomas Enqvist took out No. 13 Marat Safin;
  • No. 14 Fernando Gonzalez lost to Robin Soderling;
  • Mello defeated Chela;
  • Kristian Pless upset No. 20 Gustavo Kuerten;
  • Hyung-Taik Lee defeated No. 24 Ivan Ljubicic, who had to retire in the third set;
  • No. 27 Mario Ancic (it was a bad day for seeded Croatians) lost to Olivier Rochus; and
  • Tomas Berdych upset No. 32 Jonas Bjorkman.

    In my defense, and I realize it's a weak defense, I said I "like[d] the chances" of Enqvist and Berdych. The others, though, took me pretty much by surprise.

    I picked two first-round upsets on the women's side, and I was right about one of those. As I predicted, Marion Bartoli upset No. 32 Meghann Shaughnessy. I was almost right about my other pick, too: Conchita Martinez took No. 31 Maria Vento-Kabchi to three sets, but the veteran couldn't cinch the deal. Too bad.

    What first-round upsets didn't I predict? I already mentioned the many, many, many men's upsets that I didn't foresee. There were also three upsets on the women's side that I didn't correctly pick:

  • Jelena Kostanic over No. 18 Karolina Sprem;
  • Shinobu Asagoe over No. 24 Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi; and
  • Maria Kirilenko over No. 25 Elena Likhovtseva.

    I'm going to claim partial credit here, though, because I did list all three of these as tasty first-round matches. That's something, right? Right? Huh?

    How'd my other miscellaneous picks do? Pretty darn well, actually. All four of the qualifiers I mentioned—Marcos Baghdatis, Potito Starace, Paul Goldstein, and Alexander Peya—did, in fact, win their first-round matches. My lucky loser, Janko Tipsarevic, lost, however. (Maybe I just like his name!)

    I said some unkind things about the wild cards, and maybe I should've been kinder. Wild card Amer Delic, who's ranked No. 245 in the world, defeated Tipsarevic. Bobby Reynolds, a startling No. 320 in the world, actually took Peya to five sets before succumbing. And probably just to spite me, Alex Bogomolov, Jr., the one wild card that I picked to advance, lost to Stefan Koubek.

    I promise to be kinder to wild cards from now on.

    Three Short Items

    1.) In the spirit of our recent Olympic experience, Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam asks, hilariously, whether "literary doping" can explain strangely prolific authors like Stephen King and David Brooks (link via AJ's Daily Art News).

    2.) Regarding the actual Olympics, the Times (London) says the media must take much of the blame for the empty seats at some of the venues in Athens:
    TO ATHENS, an apology. The world media has let you down. We said these Olympic Games would be a disaster and they have not been. We said the transport system would crawl to an unmanageable halt and it has not. We said that the stadiums would not be built and yet they have been spectacular. We highlighted security problems and they have been few.

    And then, the Olympic flame had barely been lit before we started laying into the host nation for the fact that there were so many empty seats. If I had been a punter with a love of sport and was considering making Athens my big summer holiday, I’d have read the press for the year leading up to the Games and gone as far as possible in the other direction.
    Well said. (Link via The Sports Economist.)

    3.) Shattered Buddha called some sad news to my attention: Bitty Schram, whose performance as Sharona on Monk helped make the show, won't be back for the second half of the show's third season. Bummer. I found the first half of the current season to be pretty weak (for one thing, Monk seemed to be a caricature of himself); now I'm pretty sure the show's on its last legs. The emotional center of a good TV show can rarely be replaced....

    What I would've said then, only now it's now (part II).

  • While I was paying more attention to whitewater canoeing than to RSS feeds, one of my favorite blogs, The Critical 'I' obtained a new url, a new look, and a new name—Population Statistic. I wonder if Costa's referral logs are now filled with lost demographers. Costa's still blogging about the right things, including the dating ethics that surround a shaved-off goatee. Hee.

  • At least two other recent changes are also worthy of mention: Both Cinema 24 and Mode for Caleb are sporting cool, new looks. Caleb's is an homage to a favorite album cover. The Garden would be a little, um, busy if I looked to my favorite album cover for design inspiration....

  • Greg of gregunderwater visited my corner of Pennsylvania and liked what he saw. Check out his pictures of some of Philly's murals. I think I need some out-of-town company to help me see things with a fresh eye.

  • Will Baude of Crescat Sententia learned that Blogistan is a small world. After he wrote an interesting post about playing Scrabble (in a tournament) against Gonya, an elderly woman whose poor English skills seemed to Baude to harm her score, Gonya's grandson responded in his own blog. Be careful out there, bloggers.
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