Saturday, April 22, 2006

Clearing out the backblog, vol. 1

Here at the 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters, we've been hip-deep in the reality that is being the executive producer of a daily interview program. This should mean nothing to you, the 19 Minutes reading faithful, except that it's been hard to post regular updates - especially this week, as we've also been filling in as the host of the show.

The upside is that our brain's memory cache has been filling up with column material. The downside is that as new stuff shows up in our mind, some of the old stuff finds itself filed in our brain's recycling bin. (We'll stop the extended Windows metaphor any minute now.)

So we're left with a bunch of stuff that could best be labeled "quick hits" - stuff that could be worth 750 words, but will end up being represented by two or three fascinating paragraphs. At the very least, they'll be easier to print out and post on your refrigerator, should you happen to want to post any of them to your refrigerator, which you probably don't.

(On a related note, who decided that refrigerators were the kitchen appliance of choice for posting shopping lists, artwork de les enfants, or tickets to upcoming baseball games? Why aren't we posting these things on our dishwashers? I can understand why they don't end up on our waffle irons, but the side of an electric can opener is just wasted space at this point.)

Anyway, this is the freshest material we have to work with.

A hypothetical: Let's say you're a guy. (Actually, for the 19 Minutes staff, this isn't really a hypothetical.) When you're a boy, say, nine years old, and you're at a sporting event, you spend roughly one-eighth of your time watching the game, one-eighth of the time dripping hot dog mustard on your t-shirt, and three-quarters of your time trying to con the players, coaches, umpires, linesmen, bat boys, the old guys sitting in the right field corner who scoop up the foul balls, groundskeepers, and photographers in the camera bays to throw you a ball, puck, batting glove, cracked bat, broken stick, pine tar rag, sweat-soaked towel, or empty bag of sunflower seeds.

This almost never comes to fruition, since a) you're not being very polite about it, b) there's no compelling reason for any of these people to throw you anything since as a nine-year old, your bribery options are somewhat limited ("Come on, I'll trade you the Pog chip that's in my pocket..."), and c) there are roughly 650 other nine-year old boys crowded around you trying to accomplish exactly the same thing.

So every once in a great while, the bullpen catcher or the backup goalie will toss a batting practice baseball or a warm-up puck into the crowd, purely for the amusement of watching 650 nine-year old boys attempt to kill each other to take possession of this sacred talisman of sports fandom worth $.49 to the team in question.

Having just packed a household and moved it across the country, I recently came across one of the few such treasures I collected in my youth - a baseball rolled across the dugout to me at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore by vaunted-yet-obscure Red Sox pitcher Allen Ripley on May 23, 1979. I know these facts surrounding this baseball, because written on it, in green ballpoint 10-year old handwriting, is the inscription: "Rolled across the dugout at Memorial Stadium by vaunted-yet-obscure Red Sox pitcher Allen Ripley - May 23, 1979." Okay, so I've added the "vaunted-yet-obscure" business 27 years later. Also, my handwriting has improved. Or at least changed.

Now let's go to another hypothetical. You're a girl. Specifically, you're a 22-month old girl at Game 1 of the first round of the AHL's Calder Cup playoffs - Milwaukee versus Iowa. You're wearing your Ottawa Senators jersey, in part because it makes your dad pleased, and in part because it's the only hockey attire you own, save for the paper hockey helmet obtained from the Frozen Four Skills Challenge a couple weeks ago.

You spend roughly half your time pointing and/or waving cheerfully at the hockey players who are busy slamming each other violently into the dasherboards, a quarter of your time eating Wheat Thins, and a quarter of your time walking back and forth in front of the three seats you and your parents occupy in the second row behind the visitor's bench and trying to get at the old french fries under the seats. In short, you are not requesting anything at all from the players, referees, equipment managers, ushers, or your fellow fans.

This means, naturally, that after the horn goes off at the end of the second period, a referee hands off the game puck to a fan sitting nearby, who of course tosses the puck to you. And it means that after the game, when you - at 2-feet-5 - want to walk through the crowd on the concourse towards the escalators roughly a half-mile away, the crowd parts to watch this miniature person wearing a hockey sweater making her way towards the exits. And then another girl - probably around 10-years old - walks over and offers you her inflatable 'cheer sticks'. And so now you're walking through the concourse, holding two inflatable sticks almost as tall as you are, oblivious to the fact that even more people are now charting your progress, watching you like the citizens of Boston in "Make Way for Ducklings". (Only instead of the man who sweeps the streets saying, "Now, ain't that nice," it's a guy in a Milwaukee Admirals jersey, holding a beer, saying "I think that's the smallest person I've ever seen.")

And so, of course, a woman wearing an Admirals staff nametag stops by and hands you a foam rubber puck, telling your parents not to worry because you can't hurt herself with this one. And so you set down one of your cheersticks and cheerfully carry the puck for a while until you hand it off to mom and re-collect your second cheerstick.

On you march, the crowd continuing to part, and cute college girls bending over to pinch your nose. And then another Admirals staffer walks up, and says, "Ah... I was looking for someone to give this puck to..." and you wind up with a brand-new game puck, too.

Again, let me stress that this 22-month old did nothing to solicit any of these items, except to look heartbreakingly cute as she went about her business at the Bradley Center.

And you know what? You are pretty darn cute.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All the build up and NO photos of Sylvi in her Sens jersey???