Gr8chefmb's Blog

Just another weblog

Wait Til Next Year! October 19, 2010

One of my favourite books is Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir Wait Til Next Year. She talks about growing up in the 50s and 60s as a Catholic girl rooting for the perpetual underdog Brooklyn Dodgers. I discovered Ms. Goodwin while watching Ken Burns’ epic Baseball miniseries, as well as other baseball writers. I was excited when Ms. Goodwin published her memoir for two reasons. I love reading biographies and I love reading about history. This one book hit both of these points, and I could kind of sort of relate, having been born and raised Catholic.

It was interesting reading about the trials and tribulations of the Brooklyn Dodgers, especially agains the backstory of the New York Yankees and the New York Mets. I could so relate to the author’s feelings about the Brooklyn Dodgers because I have felt the exact same way about my beloved Texas Rangers. Every year, when the Dodgers failed to win playoffs, let alone the World Series, the rallying cry was ‘Wait until next year!’

I have been a lifelong fan of the Texas Rangers, even when I was really too young to understand the game. I have stood by them in good times and bad; commiserated with other fans over bad pitching staffs and silent bats; and gotten disgusted with bad signings (Chan Ho Park comes to mind!). Every year, I anticipate the start of the new season in the hopes that this will be our year, only to be disappointed again. My hopes were raised in 1996 when the Rangers reached the playoffs for the first time only to fall out of the first round. My own personal rallying cry has been ‘Wait until next year!’

The playoffs this year have been amazing, nail-bitingly close, and mind-blowing. I really hope and pray it continues for the Rangers all the way to end with them winning the pennant. This could be our ‘netxt year.’ Go Rangers!


Ghost Rider – Travels on the Healing Road by Neil Peart June 28, 2010

In honour of an award-winning documentary having been released as well as a celebration of their nearly 40 years of seriously, awesomely cool music, I recommend this book to everyone. Written by the talented drummer/lyricist of legendary Canadian rock band RUSH, Neil Peart underwent a series of unspeakable tragedies-the loss of his daughter in a tragic car accident and then the death of his wife due to cancer and a broken heart almost a year later. He was left to contemplate whether or not he was interested in continuing to live, and if so, what that life would be like. I cannot even begin to imagine trying to come back from something like that, but Mr. Peart did find a way. Due to circumstances, the band was on a five-year hiatus. This memoir details those tragedies as well the way he found to cope. He hopped on his trusty BMW motorcycle and traveled over 55,000 miles from Quebec to Alaska to the Antarctic Circle down through the western parts of Canada and the United States into Mexico and further down into Central America. During his travels, he slowly came back to humanity and eventually found the photographer who was to become his second wife. He did return to continue his work with RUSH bandmates Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, releasing ‘Vapor Trails’ which featured several songs about his sojourn. The band returned to the road and ended that tour with three amazingly successful dates in Brazil, including one show performed for the largest audience ever in the band’s history.

Even if you don’t love this band and their music, you will love this book. Mr. Peart’s writing style is somewhat wry, but it is extremely descriptive and full of humour. As private a person as he is, he lets the reader into his psyche as he stuggles to cope with the events of his life. That storyline alone will touch the reader to the core. This book will also appeal to armchair travellers as well as motorcycle enthusiasts all over. Mr. Peart also has an insatiable interest in the world around him and constantly reads. He also recommends various books throughout this narrative-sort of like a book review within a book review. A plus is that he includes lyrics he has written and the band has recorded, some of which seem extremely applicable to his life even though they were written well before the tragedies. If you are a fan of this band, it is almost like a playlist in your head as you read the lyrical snippets. He also indirectly gives clues for areas to visit that are off the beaten track.

No one could ever completely get over the pain of losing one loved one, let alone two. However, he has managed to find a way to survive and even thrive. He and his new wife celebrated the birth of their daughter in August 2009. The band continues to record and tour. Neil, Alex and Geddy have continued to be honored and their strong friendship is evident in everything they do together. The life-affirming outcome alone is so worth reading this book.


For the love of the game… March 22, 2010

For as long as I can remember, I have loved baseball. I don’t know why, really. I have no athletic ability whatsoever…LOL! I have that same feeling that is displayed so ably and touchingly by Kevin Costner in his baseball trilogy of movies [Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For the Love of the Game]. I guess there is something satisfying in hearing the crack of bat against ball and racing against time (and opponents) to score. I love watching games on TV and/or listening to them on the radio, but I am happiest when I can attend games in person. I love the sights, smells and sounds of the ballpark. When I can’t attend in person or watch on TV, I listen to the games via that most blessed tool, the internet. It gives me a sense of history to listen to games and imagine the action on the field, much as I suspect fans did before the advent of television.

I have been a fan of the Texas Rangers since they moved to Texas after being the Washington Senators for such a long time. I have memories of old players from the 1970s and 1980s, such as Gaylord Perry and Nolan Ryan. My appreciation grew even more in the 1990s and on to today. I have cheered when they have won, especially when they had some awesome seasons. I have cried when they came up short, as they so often have. I still entertain the hope and the wish that they will make it to the World Series and win it.

I love reading about the history of the game and players’ biographies. I absolutely LOVED Ken Burns’ miniseries documentary. In fact, his documentary led to some of my favorite authors and sports writers as well as introducing me to old-school players of which I was not aware, such Buck O’Neill and so many others. Currently, I am finishing reading for a second time ‘The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship’ by David Halberstam. This was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone. I also thoroughly enjoyed Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir, ‘Wait Till Next Year,’ of growing up in the 1950s and rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their quest to finally win the pennant (which they did in 1955 and then moved to Los Angeles).

The spring training is almost over and the regular season will start. As always, I am hoping that the Texas Rangers will have their ‘next year’ THIS year. We’ll see… I will be cheering for them and hoping against hope. ūüôā


How did you get that gig, anyway? August 2, 2009

Have you ever wondered how certain individuals get certain gigs? I certainly have…This morning, I woke up, grabbed a cup of coffee and turned on one of my all-time favourite programs, Texas Country Reporter. In Dallas, it comes on at 10:00a on Channel 27, and nationally, reruns are aired on RFD TV (‘Rural America’s most important network’) at 10:30a (and other times, too). I have been watching Mr. Phillips when his program started out as 4-Country Reporter, I think, around 1972 or 1973. He travels around Texas to do profiles on various people, events, etc. that are interesting, weird, heart-touching, thoughtful, unusual, or all of the above.


Sorry, I digress…I was watching his show this morning, which featured a guy who restores old license plates, a bait-seller (on the Lake O’ the Pines in East Texas)/poet, a band director who plays songs on a turkey baster (yes, you have read that¬†correctly – a turkey baster)¬†and a couple of other stories…As I was watching, a thought popped into my head – “How did he get a gig like that?” Another thought popped in after that one, “Where does he find these people?” Actually, I have wondered this about Mr. Phillips for a long time. His is quite an interesting job. He has definitely talked to some seriously unusual people!


As I am a big fan of NASCAR, after Texas Country Reporter, I flipped the station to Speed Channel. I had seen on ESPN a day or two ago that qualifying had been rained out, so I was hoping the race at Pocono would not be rained out as well. I love watching John Roberts, Jimmy Spencer, Kenny Wallace, Hermie Sadler and Wendy Venturini on Speed Channel’s NASCAR RaceDay. I have often¬†wondered how Wendy got her gig as pit reporter. Unfortunately, it is still somewhat rare to see a female sportscaster or reporter. Ms. Venturini has been doing an excellent job for the past several years, and man, would I LOVE to trade jobs with her! I have loved car racing since I was old enough to watch the Indy 500 every year. I have been a fan of NASCAR for the past 20 years or so…ever since I watched Dale Earnhardt, Sr. bump and grind his way to all his Cup championships.


I would have loved to have been a sports jounalist/on-air personality like Wendy Venturini, Susie Kolber from ESPN or Jillian Barbieri. How in the world did they end up doing what they do?? I love sports in general, and particular ones, hockey, auto racing, baseball, especially. I like to think that I could have been a good sportscaster even though I am a woman. I also like to think that I could have Bob Phillips’ job in a heartbeat if I could operate a camera…I can certainly talk with people and take notes.


These are only a couple of examples; the world is filled with even more. How do taste-testers get started, or recipe testers? How do you get a gig as a traffic reporter? Who do you have to know to become a sports arena broadcaster? I guess it’s just one of those quirky things that occupy my mind sometimes. Perhaps, one day I will have some answers.


The Joy of Facebook! July 31, 2009

Social networking….is that something that strikes fear into your very heart? I used to be fearful…worried about pervs trying to get to me; annoying people who think they know all; etc., etc. I grudgingly set up a MySpace page and a Facebook page…not too sure about the other social networking sites.


Since I have set up my Facebook page, I have been seriously amazed at all the old (not age old…okay, maybe so…LOL) classmates I have found…some of them going all the way back to kindergarten. It is just hysterical. I have even been brave enough and bold enough to tell several high school classmates that I had crushes in high school. Holy cow! Of course, I am not sure I would have been bold enough to do so in person…maybe, maybe not.


The thing about technology is that despite its seeming impersonalness (is that even a word?), it allows everyone to connect with everyone else, even when they are miles apart. Keeping in touch can be done at our convenience without regard to time zones, schedules, postage rates, etc. We can laugh at ourselves and our contacts, but no one is the wiser. We can share memories and lives, bad times and good, inane and important events, etc. Sure, a lot of the comments are silly, but it breaks the monotony of our existence. It also crosses the boundaries of break-ups, bad feelings, or whatever because you can choose who you want as your ‘friend’ and how much you want to stay in contact with your ‘friends.’


I have actually found people that were extremely important in my life that I thought had been lost forever. How cool is that? It is also seriously cool that I can remember certain things, all because someone made me their ‘friend.’ It may be something I hadn’t thought about for years and years, but a glimpse of a face brings it back just like it happened yesterday.


I think the jury might still be out on social networking sites, but in my humble opinion, they are a good thing. It is all about freedom of choice, and like the song says, ‘You can choose not to decide, but you still have made a choice.’ Happy Posting! ūüôā


Farewell Zubie! We’ll miss you! July 30, 2009

Filed under: Hockey,Sports — Gr8ChefMB @ 11:15 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Football fanatics weep when a beloved player leaves or retires. I am a hockey fanatic, and I am weeping because free agent Sergei Zubov has signed with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL league in his native Russia. He was signed as a defenseman for the Dallas Stars for 12 seasons. Prior to that, he was a member of the New York Rangers and had a brief stint as a Pittsburgh Penguin. He helped both teams to win two Stanley Cups in 1994 and 1999. He also took home a gold medal in the 1992 Winter Olympics playing for the Commonwealth of Independent States (after the U.S.S.R. was dissolved).


The thing about Zubie is that he has always been underrated. Most of the time, you didn’t know he was around until he zinged the puck away and/or into the net. He was not afraid to get physical, either, although he preferred to play well by positioning himself to get pucks out of tight spots (like in the corners). By all acoounts, he was fairly quiet in dressing room. Unfortunately, in his last season with the Dallas Stars, he played only 10 games and recorded 4 assists. He had a hip which required surgery and a lengthy recuperation.


He was what some called the ‘stereotypical Russian’ because he did not draw attention to himself and he was a collective¬†team player, rather than an individual. He very seldom made mention of wants or desires. Zubie was a mainstay on the penalty-killing unit, and had several high-scoring seasons. He earned three trips to the NHL All-Star game while he was a Dallas Star. Unfortunately, he flew under the radar enough that he was only nominated for an NHL award – the Norris Trophy, awarded to the top defensive player demonstating the greatest all-around ability – only once; he did not win that award.


Besides his stealth on the ice, the thing I will always remember about Zubie came from an article in our local newspaper. The reporter talked about the music the guys liked to hear in the ‘room’ while preparing for game. The responses were the typical mix of metal, hard rock, etc., except for one player who loved Toby Keith. The reporter also mentioned that when this song (I think it was Beer for My Horses)¬†was played, everyone sang along with it, including Zubie. The mental picture of this quiet, reserved Russian singing along to a country song is funny. I would have paid good money to see that.


So, Zubov, his wife and two kids are headed back to their native Russia. I wish them the best; I am certain they will be glad to be back. On a personal level, I will miss seeing him on the ice digging out pucks from the corners. I am certain that the rest of Dallas will miss him, too. Nostrovia, Zubie!