Sunday, July 31, 2011

Year of the Bug: Photo Head

Week 30: Photo Head

so mac is apparently fine. the vet as decided on an "allergic reaction" to an unknown event. i'm going with that for now since i have no other alternative, really. all of his bloodwork was normal, and nothing really fits, so, allergic reaction to nothing in particular it is.

he's definitely feeling better- it was a challenge to take this shot because he was so wound up. on the other hand, he was doing that weird arousal thing that has been going on the past two months and is very un-mac-like. my boyfriend is here, though, and was trying to be my photo-assistant. we have to remember not to do that again.

the point was to get mac in front of the fauxlaroid-wall, and i knew it was going to be hard, since the fauxlaroids are a little too high for mac's head. he just would not hold still. hopefully by the end of the year, they'll be a little lower down and we can get a shot with the full bokeh effect.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm Not a Vet

I don't even play one on TV.

The official un-diagnosis for Mac is "allergic reaction to something." An unknown something. I'm not satisfied with this answer, but it seems to be what we've settled with now. T came to the vet with me and Mac yesterday morning. Everything, and I mean everything, on Mac's blood test and urine test came back normal. Mac had a slightly abnormal thyroid result from the initial blood test, along with a normal one, so they re-ran it. And the retest came out exactly normal, which ruled out thyroid problems. The urine test was normal, even with the extra test for Cushing's. Mac's glands had been huge, which gave T and me the horrifically scary thought of Lymphoma, but by yesterday, they were back down, basically ruling that out. His good ear itched so much that he thrashed away when the vet stuck the ear-looky-in thingy, and she couldn't really examine it, but she said what she could see looked fine. So now we have teeth that are unexaminable and and an ear that is unexaminable. I am starting to feel like the owner of a "normal" dog owner- the kind of dog onwer who has trouble trimming her dogs' nails, or has to muzzle her dog at the vet. Mac is a lot of things, but intolerant of the vet is not one of them.

But apparently I've got an allergic dog with symptoms that don't seem allergic to me, who is hard to examine. It's strange, and unsettling. The good news is that I don't have a dog with cancer, or a dog with thyroid problems, or a dog with Cushing's. Or at least I think I don't.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Confessions of a Budding Gamer

Something new and slightly disturbing has been happening on themacinator homefront. This new thing is Glitch. I've written a few times about my struggles with addiction, and while I may sound like I'm belittling addiction when discussing things like baseball and Diet Coke, I don't mean it that way at all. If you read this (basic) defintion of addiction, you'll see where I'm coming from. Clearly, addiction is not ruling my life, which I am thankful for, but it's something I think about, and fight. I would love to turn off this A's game right now. It's ugly. And I can't. See #7: "Desire to cut down. Have you sometimes thought about cutting down or controlling your use? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control your use?" Answer: Yes.

So I've found a new problem. I am a beta tester for the new thing in MMO's, Glitch. I have never played, or wanted to play an MMO. I honestly don't really know what an MMO is, and am linking to the wiki because I have nothing better. It's my understanding that these are games, basically, where many people play online together. Sometimes, many people play online together for many, many hours. Massivly addicting multiplayer online games. Let it not be said that themacinator did not spend too many hours on her computer prior to discovering the MMO. I have been a screenager since I was a small child on a grey-scale Mac, and though you won't catch me reading an e-book, I do use the computer A Lot. A lot a lot. But I've avoided it as a source of Step 5: "Neglecting or postponing activities. Have you ever put off or reduced social, recreational, work, or household activities because of your use?" for the most part. I do remember a time in my chlidhood where my sister and I would tell our parents that we had to wait till it was a good time to pause, or until we died, to eat dinner, or whatever we were supposed to be doing.

Glitch is my new addiction. I heard about it through some people on Flickr, including some people who left to become employees at Glitch. I heard it would be beautiful, and like no other game anyone had ever seen. So far, this has proved true. It's gorgeous. And it's like no other game I've ever played: it's not competitive. It's cooperative if you want it to be, and can be played alone, or in groups. Until the last two tests, there were no bad guys. There are a couple of bad guys now- the "Juju's," who look like upside down Jell-o cups and steal your stuff, and the "Rook," who attacks animals and requires cooperative play to stop. Get this: there are NO weapons. A pacifist gamer's dream.

Here is what I wrote in the Glitch Forum, a little paean to Glitchiness:

The discussion about herbs, and what they're good for, made me realize why I like glitch. I'm not much on the herbs myself, but I love going to the community garden and gardening. I collect purple flowers, and hand them out to others standing in there, tend the garden, keep a few rubeweeds and hairballs for myself for trips to nostalgia-land, and then head to a mailbox, where I send 1000c worth of mail to all of my friends: a flower per friend! I love a game where it's fun to hang out and make people happy.

The backstory, and so personal, envision my dia-de-los-muertes glitch lying on a therapy couch, is that I was traumatized as a young child my mother's repeated telling of how *she was traumatized by playing Monopoly. This was before the Civil War and the pieces were wood and metal, and her sister was (is) very competitive. When things didn't go according to plan, my aunt would throw these pieces at my mother, leaving painful marks. Therefore, my mother would not play boardgames with my sister and I, not even the quaint ones like CandyLand. I do remember Chutes and Ladders, but she also hates snakes, so maybe I made that up.

I grew up HATING competition. My sister and dad would play hours of hearts, but what a mean-spirited game! You gang up on people and dump hundreds of points on them! Ouch! Mean! Unfair!

The point is, Glitch is not only not competitive, it can be cooperative, and you don't even HAVE to play it like a game. It can be mindless niceness. I'm sure this isn't what draws other people to the game, and I can just put on my rose-colored glasses and assume that the other day when I dropped 100 planks, one at a time, that the person following behind me picking them up one at a time and not saying a word, was really actually quite grateful, but the point is, IT DOESN'T MATTER! I was having fun, not competing, being nice, and the game allowed for it! When I do those races quests with other people, and I've already done them, I wait at the finish line! I let people win! And I love that!! The game allows for it- maybe even encourages it! Or, if I win, the Glitch asks me if I want to do it again, and then I let them win the second time. WOOO! Anti-competition.

Of course, not everyone plays like this, which is also fine. But it's my ethic, and it's so Anti-American, and anti-real-life, it's just such a wonderful break, and fits right into my mindset. I can play, and lose too! Or share, at least.


In this little piece, you can see a tiny bit of the creative pieces of Glitch the funny herbs and the places you travel to where "Nostalgia weighs heavily on your shoulders." There are planks to drop, or splank with, and there's races that are OK to lose. Not everyone plays this way, but I do, and it's OK. So, how do I quit a game that let's me lose? That let's me opt out of gaming? The addiction that wins for losing?

So that's me in the upper left corner. If you want to sign up for Glitch (pusher!), I think you're supposed to do it through the homepage, and it requires Facebook. CLARIFICATION: only invites require facebook. I do not and will not have facebook. This game is not played on facebook. In fact, I got an invite without facebook. There are ways :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Year of the Bug: Embarrasment of Riches

Week 29: Embarrasment of Riches

If you know Mac in person, or study his every hair follicle and body change in pictures, you can see that he is not quite himself in this picture. He's feeling unwell, and has been for awhile, but the changes seem to be accelerating, and I'm starting to take them more seriously. You can see the baldness and head-discoloration on his head above his eyes, and his "puffy" look around the face and neck here- that's why he's not wearing his collar. His neck around his lymph nodes keeps swelling to the point I have to take his collar off. I have blood work in process, and I'm going to have them run another test for cushing's. Hopefully it's nothing. Actually, hopefully it's SOMETHING, something fairly mild that can be treated/managed with a pill.

I'm fairly philosophical about this right now. Since the big scare almost a year ago, I've sort of come to terms with the fact that Mac has been a long wonderful life lesson, and that I have gotten more from him than I can ever give him, except a soft bed and a life free of pain. I mean, intellectually I know that, so right now I'm just trying to make him comfortable and figure out exactly what is going on ASAP. He's not really in pain, right now, but clearly there's something wrong- my room is covered with the hair he is blowing off, he's blowing up like a blimp, then dropping down then blowing up again, and he's agitated at times. But I know we'll figure it out, so I'm calm. It's not like when he hurt his back and the dog was so clearly suffering. I know he is, and that he's being stoic, but it's not as acute.

So here he is, getting ready to enjoy his dinner.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Michael Chabon: Maps and Legends

I can honestly say that I have no idea what I just read or why I just read it. Somewhere I must have read a review of Michael Chabon's "Maps and Legends," so I put it on my "to read" book to look for at the library, and whenever a book shows up at my tiny branch of the library, I check it out. But that doesn't mean I know what I'm getting, and you know how library books don't have little blurbs on the back, so even if I wanted to, I can't judge the book by its cover. The first half of this book appeared to be little jaunts into Chabon's favorite genres, or authors he felt were exemplars of these genres. He is most interested in the short story, which he feels has been pigeon-holed into one tiny motif repeated over and over. Instead, if I understand it correctly, since Chabon never explicitly spells it out, the short story could include many more formats including the ghost story, the detective story, maybe even the comic or graphic novel. However, the first half of the book reads like a random collection of literary criticism, rather than a treatise on authors Chabon likes, so I'm making a leap here. Maybe this is actually a book of essays that Chabon feels like he can publish? At one point in the second half of the book, Chabon writes that now that he's won the Pulitzer, he feels like he has more authority (read: liberty/privilege) to write and publish whatever he'd like.

The second half of the book is much more interesting: it reads as a literary memoir, or a memoir of Chabon's writing life. Although there's still very little structure, the essays follow some sort of chronological progression through his life, and give some insight into the progression of his writing life. The most fascinating part of both parts of the book, however, are Chabon's breif, but alluring, discussions of what happens on the borders and edges of the map of literature and truth(hence the title). In this half of the book, Chabon appears to be narrating his life as a memoir, albeit a slightly fantastic life, but toys with the reader at the end, questioning whether the work is a memoir at all, or pure fantasy. In the last few pages, Chabon manages to tie all of the sections together thematically, though only in a very tenuous way. Once again, I've finished a book that I'm not exactly sure while I was reading in the first place. Chabon writes beautifully, which kept me going for awhile, as did the gorgeous book itself, which was an argument against ebooks: the hardcover edition has a lovely 3/4sized, detailed warp, and the pages are thick and set in a beautiful print. I literally loved to read the physical book. Unfortunately, that's the most redeeming thing I can say about "Maps and Legends."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Year of the Bug: Trifecta

Week 28: Trifecta

(Posted on Flickr on Wednesday for Sofafree Wednesday)

Taken for:
Year of the Bug
'Roid Week 2011

A strange thing happened while I was taking this picture. This is the "usual spot" by my house, which is a very quiet spot. But this time, along with 2 sofafrees, there was a strange old white man with those new giant earphones who had decided this underpass was the perfect place to wax his nice car. He had picked the spot directly next to the box of rotting animal that has been sitting there for weeks. I have no idea what kind of rotting animal it is, but it's so rotted that all that is left is juice and really really bad smell. Why this man was standing next to it was a mystery.

There was also a "three seater sleeper" Oakland Public Works truck parked in front of a dumpster, so I felt like I had to hurry, in case he was going to pick up my dumpster. But he wasn't- he eventually just picked up the dumpster and left.

Then a dude with a little pushy thingy for groceries full of his life's possessions walked by on his cellphone. Only the public works man seemed to think any of this was at all odd: me with my neon green diana taking pictures of my dog hopping on and off trashed sofas, rich-looking white dude waxing his car under an underpass next to rotting goo, or dude with his life in a cart on the phone.

Ah, Oakland.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Arizona, All Stars, and Anti-Americans

(photo stolen from MLB.COM where no photographer is attributed)

Today is the 82nd annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game. I've never really liked the All-Star game or the All-Star break. The All-Star Game, probably because I was raised by my dad, who felt it was a silly waste of time: after all, it meant nothing when I was growing up, and was a break from the serious business of 162 games of competition. Now that it "matters" in terms of home-field advantage for the World Series, I still don't really like it. I used to love taking dozens of the old school ballots from the men at the top of the aisles at the game and punching out my favorite players during the A's games. Without fail I chose the A's players, or players on our Rotisserie league team, or my favorite players from the baseball cards I assiduously collected. Occasionally I would fill a ballot out for my dad with wiser selections. I was a sentimental voter, and it turned out I was just like everyone else voting: the picks are meaningless precisely because they are popularity contests. Every year players who are on the disabled list get picked because they're Big Names or from Big Name Teams or because they had Big Years the year before, even though they aren't the best at their positions. It's understandable, but doesn't make me like the All-Star game any more. Punching those ballots was fun. Then the voting went online. Gone was the tactile feeling of the hard paper and the little hanging chads, and gone was any shred of interest I had in the voting. The A's radio announcers urge me to vote online for the A's top possibilities- this year Coco Crisp and Josh Willingham, and I feel scornful: really? top possibilities maybe, in AAA baseball! And somehow the voting changed this year, though I can't follow it at all. I gave up altogether, but I'm confused every time the Phillies' announcers tell me that Shane Victorino is in the running for some last available roster position. And any interest I have in making sure the "right" players are selected, that the team is accurate, is gone. The All-Star team is a popularity contest. I'm an anti-establishment non-joiner. Lame.

But there's more to my cynical dislike of the All-Star game than the strange grade-school popularity contest feel of it all. The All-Star game is three days where MY season is interrupted. For six months, I'm deprived of my day-to-day livelihood. Then I get into the swing of it, and about 90 games into it (for some reason the All-Star game comes a little more than half way into the season), I am forced to sit on my hands for three full days. WHY? The players have a whole season off. Why do they need three days? The announcers don't need it, although they sure sound like they do when they talk about their vacations to Mexico and the shore. Is MLB prepping me and the other diehards for winter? Just a little taste of mourning? Or are the rest of the fans itching for this, this spontaneous exhibition of frivolity in the middle of the season? Somehow I doubt it. The real fans, at least, I think are about real baseball. This is a game, a show, a show of a game, not working at play.

So this is why I'm not into the All-Star game on a normal year. But this year, I'm particularly perturbed by the All-Star game, as it's hosted in Arizona, by the D-Backs. Although it appears that progressives may have forgotten that Arizona has declared itself anti-brown, and over a year ago, I wrote about the issues with hosting the All-Star game in Arizona. This article, also from May of last year, touches on some of the issues of hosting a major sports spectacle in Arizona. Besides the immense amount of money that MLB will implicitly approve being poured into the economy (while other jurisdictions and companies are still boycotting the state), brown players ask "why would I want to go there as an All-Star, simultaneously being honored and potentially being asked to leave because of the my skin tone?" (my paraphrase) Great question! Last year, stars like Adrian Gonzalez said they would not take the field in the All-Star game (see the awesome Edge of Sports piece on his subsequent flip-flop) because of SB 1070's "immorality."

Ultimately, though, Major League Baseball decided they didn't care about morals, or racism, or really much of anything besides the bottom line. I'm not sure who reached this decision, or how they came to it, but they did, and the player's union followed suit. Per Zirin of Edge of Sports, Gonzalez was always going to follow the Player's Association's lead, and the Player's Association started out by talking big about a boycott, but wasn't really going to follow through. There's money in it for the individual players in the form of All-Star bonuses (whether the players compete or not) and there's obviously tons of money in the event for Arizona and the D-Backs, and lots of money in the All-Star break (including the Home Run Derby and whatever else they're doing, I don't really keep up obviously) for all of Major League baseball. If you open up the MLB site right now, you can't possibly keep track of the sponsors. I'm sure the same was true if you watched the broadcast. It's no Superbowl, but the sponsorship is pretty intense.

So where does the anti-American part of my post come in? Scroll back up to that picture at the top. It's Robinson Cano, New York Yankee and winner of yesterday's Home Run Derby, and the man who pitched to him, his dad, Jose Cano, former Major League pitcher. Both of the Canos were born in the Dominican Republic. And made/make their living in the most American way possible: playing at the sport of baseball. Look at the picture again: it's a portrait of patriotic pride that even I can get behind. Father and son, in jerseys that say "American," as in "American League," but the point is not lost, triumphant with trophy. The men are two shades of brown, and I have now told you that they were born outside of the United States, but they are being celebrated as American. I mean, even their shirts say so. But they are being celebrated like this in Arizona, where, though race may not be considered as a "sole factor" in deciding when to verify immigration status, it can still be used as a factor. The "sole factor" wording is a work-around for racial profiling. I am willing to bet Mac on the fact that I would not be asked for any proof of residency. Jose and Robinson Cano, on the other hand, without their jerseys and entourages, might very well be, especially if a truck was pulling over to them on a corner (the law prohibits hiring people on the side of the road).

Dave Zirin also boycotted the game today. I proudly join him as an anti-baseball, anti-American. I'm waiting for someone to tell me to go back to Iran. Or Cuba, or the Dominican Republic. But not Arizona, because I'm not American enough.

Monday, July 11, 2011

David Sirota: Back to Our Future

If anyone could write a scathing critique of the 80s, it would be a product of the 80s, a child who grew up in the 80s and was obsessed with the culture of it, the politics of it, the semiotics. This person is David Sirota. This person is most definitely not themacinator. Though I'm only a couple years younger than Sirota, and probably squeezed in just before the end of being an 80s kid, I was (fortunately) sheltered from most of the schlock that Sirota argues created the world we are still living now. The EightiesTM were not just ten years like any other "historical period," they are, both for him personally, and for the nation (and when the US is affected, you know what happens next), now: "The eighties fixation in our current culture and politics may not really be a resurrection at alll... our fetish may actually be the intensification of an ethos that never actually went extinct, in part because no epochal force ever intervened to kill it."

In the 80s, ideas and propoganda went viral much more easily as it was the first decade where every household had a TV, a VCR and cable, and most had video game consoles. (Part of the rock we lived under came due to lack of cable my entire home life and lack of video game console until late teens. This is not a complaint. This book is one of the many times I give thanks to living outside of the culture machine.) Just as we're seeing media conglomerates merge and merge and merge into smaller monopilies, in the 80s, "50 conglomerates controlled the vast majority of the newspaper, broadcast magazine, movie and publishing firms." And their products were designed specifically for vertical integration. Sirota gives the example of the movie "ET": not just designed for the movie theatre, you got the little alien and his buddy terrified of the government on TV (all the time), on the Atari, in your Happy meal, your action figures, the little give-aways in the cereal boxes, the cartoons, the binder covers, etc. And the marketing, of course, was aimed at kids. The propaganda was everywhere, and for the kids of The EightiesTM (who are the leaders or burgeoning leaders) of today, "we were a tabula rasa without today's well-honed bullshit detectors, and the first imprint on our psychological blank slate- the pulverizing imprint of 1980s pop culture- has naturally been the most lasting."

One of the most enduring traits of The EightiesTM that comes back over and over to both pop/mainstream culture and themacinator is post-racialism. Remember Bill Cosby aka Dr Huxtable? I'm not sure you could forget- I'm pretty sure reruns of "The Cosby Show" are playing all day every day on one of the cable packages somewhere on a TV near you. "The Cosby Show" worked (i.e. succeeded in making money while portraying a black family) because the characters and the show didn't make the audience think about blackness or race. "The logical conclusion," Sirota writes "is that to be 'black' is wholly separate from, and maybe even antithetical to, being 'American.'" While "The Cosby Show" was still airing, 60 million people watched the Huxtables each week. The well-to-do black family was appeasing to white audiences: economics trumped race and aussaged fears. Bill Cosby also chose not to talk about or confront any issues that could remotely be linked to race or bigotry in a single episode of the show. Nor did he include any black culture that could potentially threaten the idea of a post-racial family. Dr Huxtable and family were acheivable black role models for black families (supposedly) and changed white people's attitudes toward black people in the "my brother's wife is black" kind of way.

Now, substitute President Obama in both his pre-election campaign for Bill Cosby/Dr Huxtable, and you've got a scary situation that speaks to Sirota's point: The EightiesTM aren't over. Read this quote and answer this question: Is this a reviewer speaking about "The Cosby Show" shortly after it came out or a shockjock talking about Obama during his campaign? "I forgot he was black for a few minutes!" Does it matter what the answer is? Here's another quote, you pick the referent: The New York Times wrote that [insert your answer here] is forced to play a game "of trying to appeal to the widest possible audience, which means offending as few people and groups as possible," which Sirota adds, "when it comes to race, that's Establishment-speak for 'whites' and their unrelenting desire for the wholesale absolution that the transcendance brand affords." (The answers: The first quote was about President Obama, and the second was about Bill Cosby. But I think they're interchangeable, which is the point.)

There's a lot more to this book. Even more fascinating, to me, was the section about war and the military, and patriotism, which I may write about more later, but I tend to get slightly fanatical about the military and war, and the argument is slightly (though not terribly) complicated, and deserves a real treatment, not a hysterical one. The book is funny, and nostaglic, and is full of "aha!" moments for really anyone over 28. And anyone under 28 should relate, as The EightiesTM are back, or never went away in the first place. Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Year of the Bug: Dog Tested, Mac Approved

In honor of the revelation about the origin of sofafree, it was crucial to make this picture this week.

Week 27: Dog Tested, Mac Approved

Monday, July 04, 2011

The Story Behind the Sofa Free in Oakland

We all know my obsession with free seating for multiple people, no matter where the sofa, but of course I'm happiest with sofafree in Oakland. So encountering this article was a particular revalation. I have noticed an escalation of dumping in my neighborhood, and not just of lovely furniture. Trash, boards, dead animals, all the kinds of things I associate with the "ghetto." It's ugly. Sofafree, even at their most tacky, are NOT ugly.

The bottom line of the article, and I urge you to read it, no matter what your stance on roadside seating, is that Oakland (not surprisingly!) has a terrible big trash pickup policy. Basically, unless you own your home or live in a small building like I do, you can't schedule a bulky trash pickup. Most landlords aren't going to go thru the trouble of getting a dumpster brought out for their tenants each time they move, so to the curb your crap goes. I will admit I had NEVER been to a dump before I moved to Santa Cruz County, and I will also admit that I still don't know where the nearest one is. Looking now, I see it's off Davis, in San Leandro. Renters without much disposable income (which is what many moving renters are) have no incentive except goodwill and common sense to go to the dump.

Even better than this article is the fact that a reader was inspired to create a facebook page (I know, icky) devoted to the sofafree (or dumped couches, from his perspective) in the Adam's Point neighborhood of Oakaland. I've been inspired to make the slideshow above, which is devoted to only sofafree shots I've taken in Oakland since the series started. (There are way more, but not posted to flickr.)

It's weird how things come around, because almost exactly two years ago, I talked about sofafree in a philosophical manner. I get it that sofafree is trash, that it is blight, disrupting the landscape. But it's also a way to look at the landscape differently, sort of like street art, or good graffiti. It's a comment on where we are as a scoiety, of what we expect in our neighborhoods, of what "neighborhood" is. Knowing the background of what causes so many sofas to be lying around, besides just sheer laziness, backs up my theory that sofafree is a worthwhile photography/documentary subject, not just for beauty, but for provocation.

(Thoughts appreciated!)

Year of the Bug: Bucket Brigade

Week 26: Bucket Brigade

It's county fair season and the original idea was to have mac pose with something from the fair but i failed to find the appropriate prop. I found this plastic fire hat at a game at the carnival part, and the carny told me it didn't belong to anyone, so I took it. My boyfriend suggested Mac pose with a bucket. I couldn't figure out what on earth we was talking about, but duh, it's the old timey fire fighting tool. Of course, our bucket is plastic, and the red-cross is actually orange duct tape, but I figure it fits perfectly with the pit bull firefighter, the garden hose, and a plastic hat.

No one can say he looks depressed in this shot- look at that tail and his longing eyes at my photo assistant's cheese!!

Note: I absolutely can't believe this year is half over. I'm sad about this- it's the all-star break coming up, so baseball season is also half over, which we all know means depression. It means winter is coming up, and it means I *really* need to find a job.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

T.C. Boyle: When the Killing's Done and A's Updates

I finished this book almost a week ago, but really didn't have anything to say about it. Almost a year ago I said no more fiction reviews, then kept writing them. And even though I just heard about this book less than a month ago, I can't remember why I put it on my list. Did I hear about "Tortilla Curtain" first or both books together? I don't know, but this book was overdone and trite and maybe the reason I had never read TC Boyle in the first place. I can't blame the man- it appears he has written/published 19 books since 1979, has a blog, and also writes short stories. Not all of his books can be catchy and interesting. This one also veered into one of my all time favorite topics: animal rights. Boyle had a fascinating take on AR activists, but each character was an overdone stand-in for any real in-depth analysis to take place. And unfortunately, everybody drowns. That's not a spoiler: everybody, from the first chapter, drowns. It's inevitably dull when any tension ends with drowning.

In other news, I attended a very fun A's game today. A's games are always more fun when the A's win, and when you get to win with 10 of your closest friends. OK, 5,000 of your closest friends? Judge for yourself. (click the picture to get it bigger)

The announced attendance was 13,822, and for once, I don't think that's off by more than 5,000. The stadium DID fill in more than that, though the majority of us hid under the overhang, as it was blazingly hot. The picture, taken as usual during the national anthem, was not taken from my assigned seat (I did not get kicked out), but from a seat about 10 rows back, where we sat the entire game to avoid the sun. The shade doesn't usually hit our assigned seats till about the 5th or 6th inning, and it was 90 degrees. Way Too Hot. So my official guessed attendance was about 7000-8000. Maybe 10,000, but I don't even know what that looks like anymore. It was definitely better than earlier this week.

So what next for the A's? I suggest reading at least one of these articles/links/writings about the A's- food for thought (more than any TC Boyle book you're likely to pick up).

A depressing comparison of Walter Haas and Jon Fisher by Baseball Oakland.

Midway Marks by the excellent Todd Van Poppel Rookie Card Retirement Fund (best blog name ever).

Sentimentally, I miss Mark Ellis. He was a classy guy till the end, and clearly was choked up in the part of his press conference that I heard when he heard about his move to the Rockies. I hope that the A's treated him well when they traded him- he had the most tenure with the A's, and was definitely one of the most solid players during that tenure. As we've seen the last 2 years, defense is clearly an underrated commodity. His fielding percentage (until the last month or so) was amazing, and I remember his errorless streak very clearly. An anchor at second is crucial. I get why he was traded, but he was an underappreciated, quiet guy. He was never going to be flashy, and he was never GREAT, but he was good, and he was an A. Weeks is young and sparkly, and the A's need that. Totally understand, but I'm acknowledging that a veteran player, that hasn't bounced around, is also important. Weird to go out to the park and have Coco Crisp or Gio or Cahill be the old-timers on the club. Pennington? Suzuki? Just strange. Life goes on, and I wish the best for Elly.