Monthly Archives: September 2015

A day at the Lotus Festival

I can’t remember the last time I had gone to the Lotus Festival here in town. But I had a day off from work, and my parents were going to help me hang curtains in my apartment anyway. So, we had time to go, and we went. Brief drops of rain came and went, but other than that, the weather was amazing.

Hopefully, my friends are not the only ones who read this. So, for those who don’t know, Lotus Festival is a music, arts, and cultural festival in Bloomington, Indiana, my hometown. It usually last for four days, and most often occurs in the second or third week in September. Artists in various mediums come from the world over to share their talents. Up until recently, I had always taken it for granted. Early in its inception, my elementary school classes would take a field trip to the Convention Center for Lotus Festival. As I got older, I realized how special it truly was. It has become part of Bloomington’s legacy, and long may it last, hopefully.

I had also done a volunteer shift at WonderLab earlier in the day, and we got there at around 2:45 in the afternoon, after parking and several other stops along the way. After walking around, various booths were setting up. There was a group with banjo, an upright bass, and others. Artists from the state of Indiana showed up, many of whom worked in lesser-known artistic mediums – for example, one man weaved fishing nets, and another was showing how to carve people’s names onto headstones. It was also nice seeing a friend from past acting projects while waiting in line for a lime snow cone. We caught up and wished each other luck in shows that are coming up soon. The last time I went to Lotus, I was reluctant to try things. This time, I felt more eager to go. I hope that my mom would have been proud of me. She was very active in the Bloomington community, although she grew up in Tennessee. It’s been a really strange time right now. Three weeks from tomorrow, the revival of our show will be over, and I’ll simply go back to work and prepare for the holidays that are coming up. I am trying to take it one day at at time right now, but sometimes it’s harder to do than expected. The festival gave me a chance to have some fun on a day off.

The main attraction of the day was a band called Trio Brasileiro. One of the original band members was unable to make it due to unforeseen circumstances, but a friend of theirs from Portland filled in nicely on the mandolin. The two other members were brothers, one on pandeiro (like a tambourine) and the other one on seven-string guitar. Their style was a certain music called choro, which is largely instrumental works. As they took the stage, member Douglas Lora mentioned that they were pleased to return to Bloomington, having played there three years ago. It was an amazing show, which lasted around forty minutes. That was the last event of the day, although the band does have another event tonight.

Additionally, I bought the long-sleeved Lotus T-shirt for twenty dollars. Quite an impressive design, if I do say so myself, and very comfortable at that. The picture of it can be seen below.

Lotus T-shirt - and a new haircut as well.
Lotus T-shirt – and a new haircut as well.

I’m glad I went to the festival today. I had meant to go in previous years, but time commitments prevented me from doing so. With IU football improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1990 (when I was three years old), I’d say it was a good day to be in Bloomington.

By the way, the curtains are not entirely done yet, but only because the fabric length needed to be adjusted. I think I’m really starting to do some good things on my own. Not a bad way to spend a day off from work, if I do say so myself.

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New poem – “Have a Day”

So, here is a new poem that I wrote. There’s a little story behind it. Read on….

“Have A Day”
This is inspired by “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, and is basically written as an homage to that, minus the meter of the original. It keeps the same rhyme structure from Frost’s poem (A-B-A-A-B), and is two stanzas longer. Also, I used the title as a play on words of “have a nice day.” Also, pay close attention to the wording in this one. You’ll see what I mean if you read it.

The hours shorten up on us and tighten
I hear sounds of October beckoning
Then I see the leaves fall and brighten,
Melancholy melodies mix and heighten,
While autumn sends down its blissful reckoning.

Shades of peeking shadows call to post
And, hey, we’ve got a minute; so, why lament the rain?
Releasing its anger from its fretful host
Communicating its serene bliss more than most
Providing us with our energy to sustain.

The foundations of the house are ours to plant
All along the seams and creases of the whole
We set the path, it’s ours to enchant
That is the gift that we all want to grant
To those who merely focus on the sole.

In our temple, more cacophonies ring
Broken pillars, merely torn apart
It’s in these pillars that we feel the sting
We become the bird with the broken wing
Morose harmonies re-enter the heart.

“No, not today!” we argue and claim
And now it is for peace that our hearts strive
Many of us will only pass on the blame
Of a complicated and unfair game
But all we can be is alive.

I took a moment to stop and think
Then found my words, and proceeded to say,
“Before you even have a chance to blink,
Use this time to both grow and shrink
And above all, just have a day.”

In large part, I wanted to write something about just being. I think “I don’t know” can be an acceptable answer to how we’re feeling sometimes. It’s a way of encouraging zoning out, and finding its value. Hope you enjoy reading it, and have a day.

Writer’s block

It’s frustrating. Writer’s block. Even now, I’m struggling to find the right way to express this. Have I just run out of ideas? Have I retreated too much? I’m not sure. All I know is that once I get into a writer’s block, I stay there for a while. They say to write more, but most of the time it’s coming out cluttered. This post is probably another example. Ugh.

For me, words speak louder than actions. It’s words that often inspire action in me. I can’t just wake up and “click on.” I need to write it down, like I’m doing right now. And when it comes out all cluttered like it is now, it’s so annoying – and repetitive, obviously.

Nothing too big tonight, just trying to think of things to write about. But quite honestly, I’ve just been having days recently. Not even bad days necessarily, just having a day. Routine carries the day. It’s as if I’m on autopilot. Don’t worry, I’ll take the controls back soon. But sometimes, you end up on repeat. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. This feeling isn’t forever, but it can sure feel like it from time to time.

The joys of October

There are about two weeks left in the baseball season. The St. Louis Cardinals became the first team to clinch a postseason berth; even with a loss to the Chicago Cubs, they were able to clinch when another team lost. As a Red Sox fan, they’re likely out, barring a miracle. Basically, they have to win every game from here on out, and hope the front runner lose every game. That’s unlikely to happen, although they can still manage a respectable showing, even if they finish last. If they can get to seventy-seven wins (they’re currently at seventy-one), I will call that a better season than last year. With better pitching, they’ll be contenders again. The question is when and who they need to find to help that.

October 7th is when the wild card games are supposed to be played. For many, baseball has lost its luster. But I’ve always found that connection to it. I’m of the opinion that perhaps they don’t want to pay attention to it. It can’t be that boring, can it? I’d rather watch baseball than a lot of sports nowadays.

The romantic notion of the game has been done before, and perhaps done to death, but there is something to that. It’s hard to romanticize American football; the “poetry” of the game is lost in football. I’ll take the poetry.

And who can’t love the storylines this year? We could see a rematch of the I-85 Series (Royals vs. Cardinals), which would also be thirty years this year; a potential Subway Series; perhaps a renewal of the Yankees-Dodgers rivalry, who haven’t met in the World Series since 1981; and, of course, so many people are waiting to see if Back to the Future, Part II is actually correct, and the Chicago Cubs will finally break their 107-year drought. I for one don’t think so, because it feels like an all-or-nothing deal with that kind of theory, and the first half of the equation was wrong (it said a Miami team would lose to the Cubs, which is impossible, because Miami plays in the same league as the Cubs, and have already been eliminated). I’m not saying the Cubs won’t do it, and Joe Maddon seems to be the right guy. But we’ve been down this road before. Let’s not count our chickens before they hatch.

Still, if you’re the romantic fan like I am, it’s hard not to yearn for the next few weeks to pass quickly. I hope October gets here soon.

Keltner list – Alan Trammell

Another Keltner list candidate: Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell.

Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball?
He came close a couple of times, but after 1988, not really.

Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?
His two best seasons were in 1987-88, and in the former, he finished runner-up in the MVP voting. But I think he struggled with the rise of other shortstops in the American League, such as Cal Ripken, Jr. That’s not his fault, but it doesn’t help him all that much either.

Was he the best player on his team?
I think this depends on the year. He was a member of the ’84 Tigers, one of the best teams in baseball history, but there were many superstars on that team – Jack Morris, Willie Hernandez, Kirk Gibson, and manager Sparky Anderson. In other years, he was, but he was aging at the time, so it’s not likely he could have led them to glory by himself.

Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?
He suffers from comparison to Cal Ripken, Jr. and Robin Yount. I think Ripken was better than Trammell, but Trammell was certainly better than league average during most of his career, and was on par with Yount. After 1990, his career tailed off a little bit with age.

Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?
I can think of at least three- 1984, 1987, and 1988. The Tigers won the first two, going all the way in 1984. In 1988, he finished seventh in the MVP voting, and the Tigers narrowly lost the AL East to the Boston Red Sox by only one game. The one I can’t reconcile is 1987 – the Tigers probably should have won the AL pennant that year.

Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?
Physically, his body began to wear down around 1991. So, we could say that’s when he passed his prime. The most games he played in after 1990 was 112 games, in 1993. But he did hit .329 in limited duty that season, so he had several good seasons. For those other five seasons, he hit respectable for shortstops in three of them (around .265-.275), only really slumping in his final season in 1996, when he was thirty-eight years old. I think that’s also a good question though – because he broke in so young, how old do you have to be to be “in your prime?”

Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?
I don’t think so. He’s gotten further than a lot of the guys who could be considered holders of that title. But to call him the “best” is probably wrong.

Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?
He’s better than most Hall of Fame shortstops. I think he’s very similar career-wise to Robin Yount. Trammell won a World Series and made more All-Star games, while Yount reached the 3,000 hit plateau and Trammell never did.

Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?
For his position, I’d say yes. If he hadn’t been a shortstop, I don’t know.

Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?
The only thing I can think of is the time frame in which he played. Shortstops began getting better offensively in the 1980s, part of which Ripken and Trammell helped to foster.

Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?
Yes, with two qualifiers: I’d say he’s the best in the American League, and of his era, that is not in. I think Dave Concepcion was better defensively, and played on better teams. As far as of the era, I’d put Bill Dahlen in first, but he played in the 1890s and 1900s.

How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?
He never won an MVP award, but in hindsight, he probably should have. In 1987, he was runner-up to Toronto’s George Bell, and it probably could have been a toss-up. Trammell hit thirty-five points higher and led his team to the playoffs, but Bell played in five more games than Trammell did, and led the league in RBIs that year. In hindsight, we probably would give it to Trammell, but at the time, it makes sense to give it to Bell. Trammell also finished top ten in 1988, so he was close in other years, while that was Bell’s only “great” season.

How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go to the Hall of Fame?
He made six All-Star games, and it sounds about right as far as “All-Star-type” seasons. The only one he may have been snubbed for was 1983, when he hit .319 and won a Gold Glove. But he had already made it before (1980), and he had several down years before that, so it’s not that much of a snub, in my opinion. Six All-Star games isn’t that much, but other guys are in with fewer. This is a tough call.

If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?
Not necessarily, but it’s more of the front office in this case. One of the reasons that the 1988 Tigers didn’t win the division is a poor farm system, and they had so many aging players that year that it was somewhat of a shock that they got to within one game.

What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?
I can’t really think of anything here.

Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?
I believe so. He later managed the Tigers from 2003-05, and in his first year, lost 119 games, an American League record. But his successor, Jim Leyland, credited him with giving Detroit a sense of pride and professionalism again. Part of “sportsmanship” is making the best of a bad situation, and I think that helps Trammell.

Analysis
Hmm. I think this is the toughest call so far. Trammell won a World Series (and was World Series MVP that year), was probably robbed of an MVP award in 1987, and played twenty seasons. I think what hurts him is that he played in Detroit, who struggled after 1988, and also played in a changing era for shortstops. Ripken and Yount got the headlines in the American League, but I think Trammell could be included in the conversation. I would say he belongs, but it’s not a stretch to leave him out. It depends on your criteria, I think. As a shortstop, I think he’s in. But that’s his biggest issue as well – he’s been defined too many times by what position he played. Trammell’s last year of eligibility is in 2016, and he’ll need a lot of help to get in.

Inner child

I feel like a kid sometimes, even though I’m twenty-eight years old, which is classified as an “adult.” But I think that I’ve been embracing my “inner child” again recently, like building Lego sets again, although I don’t know where I put them during the packing.  I’ve been watching old shows from our childhood, like Legends of the Hidden Temple, Carmen Sandiego, and Hey Arnold! It’s been a lot of fun to do that. In a world where we’re expected to make the right decisions now, being able to escape from that, for however long, brings a calm to me that I don’t have otherwise. Just because we’re adults now doesn’t mean we can’t embrace our inner child from time to time. When done correctly, and in moderation, you can go back to the past. Just don’t overdo it, and we’ll be fine. At the same time, don’t deny that side of you.

Autumn’s on the horizon

I may be in the minority on this, but I prefer cooler weather. It’s easier to walk in and I think it’s prettier, to a certain extent. Autumn is right around the corner. Soon the leaves will change color, and the days will be shorter. Additionally, the World Series will be starting soon, which makes me excited, even though my guys are unlikely to make it. In just other a month, I’ll be doing a Shakespeare revival, which I think is progressing along well. Hope to see some of you there.

As odd as this will sound, there’s something comfortable about wearing long sleeves. They’ve become more and more of a security blanket over the years. Additionally, I prefer to buy them a size larger, so they’ll fit more comfortably and last longer. With each year older, it’s a year where I realize I should have appreciated more from the past. It’s no big secret – I do live my life with a lot of regret. But I think that’s a good thing sometimes; we can seek to improve without forgetting the past. I mention this because when I was in middle and high school, my family would occasionally go for walks in Brown County State Park. At that age, I don’t know how much you process yourself in the moment, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. Admittedly, I also wasn’t walking as much yet and also got tired much easier, and was out of shape. I’m still out of shape now, but I have more stamina. Just today, I walked what must have felt like at least five miles, maybe more (from campus to Rogers Road, with only a stop at the mall, and I’ve gotten pretty good at walking the route now). The route was the quickest I’ve gotten there. I kept track of it tonight, and I left at 4:55, reaching my location at 5:30, having left from the mall and following the roundabout past the movie theatre. Honestly, the crosswalk at the movie theatre is the hardest part; after that, it’s pretty easy, even with a lot of it being uphill, and a (very) brief cross over local construction. Again, I know I don’t have to do this, and perhaps I shouldn’t, but honestly, it’s a good reflection time, and I need the exercise anyway. It keeps me calm to do this.

Some people like more sunlight. I like taking in the lights as the days get shorter. For some reason, I’ve always felt safer with the streetlights on. I think this originated with the exchange trip to France in high school – my host and I walked home after dark one night, with neither one of us being eighteen yet. One of the streetlights went out, and needless to say, our steps picked up as a result. It was then that I realized that the streetlights shouldn’t be taken for granted, and as the holiday season gets closer and closer, there’s something romantic about them.

I’m not saying I won’t miss summer. But as I’ve gotten older, I think I like autumn more, because it’s calmer. It allows you more time for self-reflection, with the year having only three months left. It’s as if the autumn is a celebration of the rest of the year. We take it for granted, and we really shouldn’t. Some of you may call me crazy, but I say, bring on the cooler weather.

“Because it’s there.”

When asked why he wanted to scale Mount Everest, George Mallory responded simply, “Because it’s there.” Mallory eventually fell short and died on the expedition, but you have to appreciate his gumption. Sometimes, the bravest ones are the ones willing to risk everything.

I’ve been playing it safe for a good portion of my life. I got comfortable in that. And I don’t always think that’s a bad thing. Still, it’s always nice to venture out. It doesn’t really matter what I do or where I go. I just want to go, you know?

Why? Because it’s there. Where is there? Anywhere, really. Just be willing to reach out.

Another chance

So, more updates:

The application process is set to restart soon. One good piece of advice I received is that I should tighten my resume. Part of my problem last time was that it was broader than it needed to be, and although I had some relevant experiences, and still do, they weren’t able to come forward enough. I’m not sure how big of a step this is, but it can’t be that small of a step. And even if it is just one step, it’s still a good step in the right direction. I’m still trying to find ways to get in – increase my volunteer hours, learning new languages (emphasizing Spanish and Dutch), and also perhaps walk more. An accumulation of small things can add up and help me.

We all look for second or next chances. All it takes is another chance to move mountains. Hopefully, I’ll get another one soon.

Improvement

As September goes on, steps are currently being taken to try to improve myself, and hopefully improve my chances for re-applying. The when is not entirely set yet, but hopefully before the end of the year. No matter how small the steps, taking them is the important part. I have been doing my best to learn Spanish and other languages, because it’s never a bad thing to learn. Additionally, I’ve resumed doing volunteer hours at WonderLab, the local hands-on science museum here in town. I love their A to Z exhibit that they’re doing. It’s been a while since I’ve done that.

The rain came yesterday, although it was manageable, nothing too strong. There was something peaceful about it, and I remembered an umbrella this time. It stopped by the time I got to rehearsal later that night, and as far as I know, stayed away for the rest of the night. It would certainly help Bloomington right now to get some rain. Hopefully, it’ll be a cooling rain. I’m in the mood for some cooler weather again.

Why do I bring the rain up? Because it was calming and serene, to tell you the truth. I’m trying to find that calm right now. Rehearsal went fine, and I did three separate chapters in the workbook. I’m a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t do some of these things earlier. Given the application pool, I know I always have room for improvement. We never stop learning in our time, but we also have to be willing to learn it on our own.

Practice makes perfect.