Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Incredible Come Back by the Nats

When you are down 9-1 by the end of the second innning. Well it’s very unlikely that you come back and win a game.

A.J. Cole started for the injuried Max Scherzer. This was hismajor league debut. He lasted two innings, giving up nine hits and nine runs, four earned. He commited a very costly error when he went to cover first base. He missed judged the ball and didn’t catch it. It lead to five unearned runs and a seven run second for the Braves.

Well game over. I mean come on. The way the Nats have been playing a six game loosing streak. The team with the most errors in baseball. They committed four on Monday night alone. Two by Doug Fister on pick off attempts. You figure well no way. Why tune in and watch another slaughter.

This game shows why you watch to the end of the game. It’s like leaving early at a concert you miss all the encores which are usually some of your favorite songs.

And come back the Nats did. The Nats scored 4 runs in the 5th. One run in the 6th inning. Then 3 in the 7th innning.

A little more detail from the Post:
Down 9-1 by the top of the third, the Nationals got a run back on a sacrifice fly from Jayson Werth. They scored four more in the fifth. Span doubled, Ian Desmond reached on an error, and Werth hit another sacrifice fly. Zimmerman singled, and Lobaton hit a three-run homer, his first of the year. Span homered in the sixth, but the Braves got one back against Tanner Roark in the bottom of that inning

In the seventh, Uggla’s triple scored Bryce Harper and Lobaton, both of whom had walked. Reed Johnson doubled home Uggla to cut it to 11-10. But the Braves scored off Blake Treinen in the seventh for a two-run lead.
The Braves got one in the bottom of the 7th. No runs scored in the 8th.

Come the 9th inning the Nats were down 12-10. I started watching around the 7th on and off. I thought well they made a good try. They came back or at least put pressure on the Braves. I figure a moral victory if not an actual win.

Then up comes Dan Uggla. Danny Espinosa is on first and Jose Lobatón is on second. With the count 0-2, Uggla swings. (Right before the pitch I said please hit a home run.) And that’s exactly what he did. You knew as soon as he hit it the ball was gone. Nat’s lead 13-12.

Uggla said afterwards: “You know, these are some crazy dudes in here,” Uggla said. “They get excited and love to show it. It fired me up. I’m a pretty low-key, mellow guy, but seeing them excited ... I was already pretty jacked up, but seeing how excited they were, just the energy that flows through your body and flows through the dugout like it did, it was cool.”

I really like what David Schoenfield from SweetSpot blogger:
Dan Uggla, the veteran second baseman whom the Braves released in July but who is still getting paid more than $12 million by them, hit a three-run home run against Jason Grilli, off what was pretty much an 0-2 meatball, giving the Nationals the improbable 13-12 victory once Drew Storen locked it up. It was Uggla’s first home run in the majors since hitting two April 14, 2014. He entered the game hitting .135 in 37 at-bats with two RBIs. Tuesday, he tripled and homered and drove in five runs.

From ESPN Stats & Information: Over the past five seasons entering tonight, teams with an eight-run lead had gone 1,031-5. A little baseball miracle and suddenly things are a little less gloomy in the nation’s capital.

Great story about the reactions of people to Uggla's home run.

Here's a link to the video of Uggla's home run.

Video that recaps the Nats scores.

Here's hoping this is the start of something big.

More from the Roman Galleries

This is a young Hercules

Notice how small the armor is compared to a person of today.

Roman Sculpture at the Met

More from my wanderings around the Met. Always a wonderfully amazing fantastic experience.
Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius

Looking down at the Roman Gallery from the mezzanine level.

This is an Etruscan chariot.

The Music Room at the Met

A mini-saxophone

There is always something new to discover when you are at the Met.

I came across the music room and a really interesting collection of musical instruments.

This is a very ornate clock.

Just a little bit of gold added to the piano

You turn a corner and then you see this big guy. Very cool.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Thoughts on the Presidential Race so Far

Started on this a few weeks back and never got around to finishing it. But here are a few thoughts on the latest people to declare for the presidency. And all the money pouring into the campaigns

My original title for the post was going to be: Two More Throw Their Hats in the Ring

Just thinking about that where exactly did that saying come from. Obviously this refers to boxing. This is what I found out:

The ring in question here is a boxing ring. These, of course used to be circular spaces in a crowd of onlookers, rather than the square, roped ‘rings’ of contemporary pugilism. Any Jack the lad who fancied his chances in a bout would throw in his hat - presumably this was a more reliable way of putting oneself forward than just shouting over the hubbub of the crowd.

The expression dates from at least the early 19th century. The earliest citation of it that I have found is from an 1805 issue of The Sporting Magazine, or as the publishers preferred to call it The Sporting Magazine or Monthly Calendar of the Transactions of the Turf, the Chace, and every other Diversion Interesting to the Man of Pleasure, Enterprise and Spirit:

Belcher appeared confident of success [in a boxing match], and threw his hat into the ring, as an act of defiance to his antagonist
So now that that is out of the way.

As to the two most recent announcements: Marco Rubio and Hilary Clinton well they couldn’t have been more different. Rubio had a huge rally essentially saying it’s time for the old farts to get out of the way. Clinton’s was extremely low key. Announcing on the web. Then taking off on a listening tour. Reminiscent of what she did when she ran for the Senate all those many years ago.

So now there are three Republicans running and one Democrat. The first caucus won’t happen until January of next year. Plenty of time for plenty more candidates to enter the race. Most likely just about all of them will be on the Republican side.

It makes me wonder, in this very crowded Republican field, how one of them thinks they will become hot. The answer is money. Money from a very few very rich people that can carry a candidate and prolong their campaigns.

“There could be as many as a dozen candidates that have a threshold amount of money in their campaigns and super PACs to compete vigorously in the early states,” said Phil Cox, a Republican strategist who runs America Leads, a super PAC supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie that has the backing of at least two billionaires.

Some party operatives say 2016 could be the first race in the modern era in which a candidate does not need to win Iowa or New Hampshire to prevail. Strong showings in those early states have historically translated into much-needed financial momentum. But this time, wealthy patrons might keep their favorite picks aloft through independent spending.

Contenders such as Cruz and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee are crafting long-game strategies, staking their hopes on a wave of Southern-state primaries that will not take place until March. Although next year’s compressed primary schedule could intensify the momentum for a front-runner, it could also help a range of contenders pick up delegates if a single leader does not emerge quickly.

It means candidates will have the ability to stay in longer even if they don’t do particularly well electorally. They will have the money to do so. Now whether they stay in the race is another matter entirely. But, with the shear number of candidates running on the Republican side, it means it could take longer for the field to narrow down. I’m not sure that does any favor for the eventual Republican nominee. Republicans certainly showed in the last presidential election that they don’t play well with others.

Certainly Romney was hurt in his primary contests that and the number of debates. The number of debates has been reduced the idea being to reduce the potential for the candidates to throw punches against each other. But with access to so much money candidates may rely more on media to get their digs in on their fellow candidates.

The sums of money raised will be vast.

At the Met — The Plains Indians Artists of Earth and Sky Exhibit

 Great exhibit on Plains Indians.
This exhibition will unite Plains Indian masterworks found in European and North American collections, from pre-contact to contemporary, ranging from a two-thousand-year-old human-effigy stone pipe to contemporary paintings, photographs, and a video-installation piece. Works of art collected centuries ago by French traders and travelers will be seen together with those acquired by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition of 1804–06, along with objects from the early reservation period and recent works created in dialogue with traditional forms and ideas.

The distinct Plains aesthetic—singular, ephemeral, and materially rich—will be revealed through an array of forms and media: painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler, and shell; porcupine-quill and glass-bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes depicting figures and geometric shapes; richly ornamented clothing; composite works; and ceremonial objects. Many nations, including Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, and Meskwaki will be represented.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Last Sunday at the Met

Next series of posts over the next few days will be about my visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last Sunday.

Here's the Mission Statement about the Met from their website:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, "to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction."1

This statement of purpose has guided the Museum for over 140 years.

On January 13, 2015, the Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art reaffirmed this statement of purpose and supplemented it with the following statement of mission:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art collects, studies, conserves, and presents significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas.

1Charter of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, State of New York, Laws of 1870, Chapter 197, passed April 13, 1870 and amended L.1898, ch. 34; L. 1908, ch. 219.

And I would say they fulfill that mission statement admirably.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New York at Night

More from my trip to New York last weekend.

After Wolf Hall, I headed off to the Carnegie Deli. There was a line out the door so I went to the place next door and had to settle for chocolate fudge cake. At great personal sacrifice on my part I ate all of it. Oh it was good.

I then walked around for the next hour or so. Went to Times Square which of course was jammed with people. Then headed over to Rockefeller Center. The ice rink there was still open.

Chocolate fudge cake. Need I say more.

Times Square on a Saturday night.

The skating rink at Rockefeller Center

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wolf Hall Parts I and II

Such a very impressive play. To see history unfold before you. Really interesting in part because I’ve always been interested in this part of history.

You also have to be a trooper to see both parts in one day since there is over five hours worth of play to see between 2pm and 10:45pm. There is enough time between plays to grab a bit to eat and get ready for the next one. It was a bonding experience with fellow theater patrons that were seeing both on the same day.

Here’s a little about each play from the play’s website:

England, 1527. The court of Henry VIII is in upheaval as the King rages over his lack of a male heir. But when Henry’s anger turns to passion for the alluring Anne Boleyn, the Pope refuses to grant him an annulment from his wife, Katherine of Aragon. Into the fray steps Thomas Cromwell, a shrewd and ambitious politician, who realizes that the man who gets Anne into Henry’s bed will win the favor of the Crown. Using charm, deception and wit, Cromwell will climb the thorny ladder of power and bring the King what he most desires.

Anne Boleyn is now the queen of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell has become the King’s chief adviser…and chief fixer. Anne has failed to deliver Henry a male heir, and the King turns his eyes towards a new conquest, Jane Seymour. Thomas Cromwell realizes his only hope to satisfy the hot-blooded Henry, and survive the deadly intrigue of the court, is to align with his greatest enemies. But whose head will pay for his ruthless ambition?

Those are the plays in a nut shell. A pretty big nut shell if I do say so. There are few if any props used in the plays. There’s also very little of a set. Just a large open stage. There are all sorts of comings and goings many times the actors coming down or out of the audience. Music is used to set many of the moods for the scenes. It is just really really well done.

From the NY Times:

The stage version, a production of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is strictly for fun. That may sound like a weak recommendation to those who wear their brows high. But being fun in period costume for nearly five-and-a-half hours of live theater is no mean achievement. This was my third visit to “Wolf Hall” (after seeing it at Stratford-upon-Avon and London last year), and I found myself just as much in its thrall, and even more admiring of its accomplishment.

But there’s method in Mr. Miles’s ostensible mildness. We begin by rooting for Cromwell, and we are happy to see a shadowy world through his spy’s eyes, as he connives his way into favor with Henry and, just as important, the ravenously ambitious Anne.

Then before you know it, he’s masterminding a series of self-serving, vengeance-driven executions of his foes and rivals. The effect is rather like seeing someone you befriended at the office in your early days of employment suddenly glowering at you from the executive suite. You don’t recognize your old friend at first, until you start to go over your shared history; then everything that person did makes chilling sense.

There’s a great article on Ben Miles who plays Thomas Cromwell.Here’s a little from it:
The ways in which Mr. Miles inhabits and “enhances” the role have made him “one of the shapers” of her third Cromwell novel, “The Mirror and the Light,” Ms. Mantel said, speaking at the Winter Garden during a rehearsal break. “He’s solved certain problems for me,” she said. “He’s pinned me to the moment and made me think deeply.”

Ms. Mantel spoke with particular admiration of Mr. Miles’s “ability to project ferocious energy while apparently doing nothing at all, while being absolutely still.” But that intensity has come with practice and at considerable cost. During each performance, Mr. Miles is offstage only for moments. “Even Hamlet gets a break,” said Mr. Herrin. And Hamlet, he noted, “only has to do one show.”

From Time Out:

Still, as a fast-paced political thriller, it is fiendishly engaging, and director Jeremy Herrin’s 23-member corps skillfully slips in and out of multiple roles. Parker’s King Henry is finely modulated over the course of the plays, transforming from a hale-and-hearty young buck to a more corrupt and ruthless eater-up of friends. Lydia Leonard’s petulant, feline Anne Boleyn justifies both her rapid rise and fast fall. Paul Jesson jigs jovially among wily patriarchs: from a politic Cardinal Wolsey to future queen Jane Seymour’s pandering dad. As a character meant to fade into the background, Cromwell’s loyal clerk Rafe, Joshua Silver is ever-present, watchful, recording. And as Cromwell, Miles can make holding your tongue seem like high drama. As Mantel fills in the blanks of history, so Miles fills his character’s conflicted motives with intelligence and moral purpose, however ugly they get.

Together these marvelous actors create a little England populating Christopher Oram’s grimly gray set, a blank slate that swiftly becomes a cardinal’s office, Henry’s court, the Thames or a tavern. Always looming against the back wall are four concrete square slabs, not quite touching edges. In the negative space their sides create, we see a constant cross. It’s an eloquent metaphor for this world: grace, pity, peace, God—all exist as potentials in the cracks of a stony, material world.

From Entertainment Weekly:
First things first: the stage adaptation of Wolf Hall is a long one. Those daring enough to sit through Parts One and Two in a single day–a Broadway binge, if you will–can look forward to spending six hours nestled in the Winter Garden Theatre. The good news: it’s worth every minute. Imported from London, where the plays were a smash, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s outstanding production does justice to the revered Hilary Mantel novels (which include the sequel Bring Up the Bodies) while also offering its own intriguing spin on the oft-retold historical drama.

That would be the story of Thomas Cromwell (Ben Miles), the 16th century political fixer and the kind of antihero that modern audiences have come to love: a savvy everyman who–through craft and cunning–escaped his ignoble background and became the most trusted advisor to King Henry VIII (Nathaniel Parker). His skills were key in allowing Henry to divorce his first wife Katherine of Aragon (Lucy Briers) and marry the ambitious Anne Boleyn (Lydia Leonard)—thus breaking England from the Church in Rome. Part One focuses on exactly how Cromwell did it, while Part Two shows us how he undid it. As he himself says, “Times have changed—our requirements have changed—and the facts must change behind us.” That serves as both Cromwell’s job description and the play’s synopsis.
I was blown away by the play. I’m going to have to add this to my list of the great things I’ve seen on Broadway. I will add that near the end of the play there is a very revealing line (to me at least) as to Cromwell’s motivation and reason for all that he’s done. It certainly gave me something to think about the spectacular that I’d just seen on stage. It’s something I’m going to keep in mind as I start reading the books.

Cuddly Kitty Cats Up for Adoption

My friend, Yolanda, is a volunteer with the Washington Humane Society. She's part of a cat adoption fair this Sunday.

The fair will be at Annie’s Ace Hardware, 1240 Upshur St NW, Sunday, April 26, 12pm – 3pm.

So if you are looking for a furry friend and companion, stop by the fair this Sunday and see all the wonderful cats ready to be adopted.

More about the Humane Society:

The WHS Mission
The Washington Humane Society inspires and creates a community where all animals have secure homes and where people and animals live together with joy and compassion.

About WHS
The Washington Humane Society (WHS), the only Congressionally-chartered animal welfare agency in the United States, has been the area’s leading voice for animals since 1870. As the open-access shelter in the Nation’s Capital, the Washington Humane Society provides comfort and care to over 43,000 animals each year through its broad range of programs and services including sheltering for homeless animals, a comprehensive adoption program and off-site adoption events to find new families for the animals in our care, low-cost spay and neuter for pet owners and other local organizations, an aggressive TNR (trap-neuter-return) program for feral cats (CatNiPP), investigations of each allegation of animal cruelty or neglect through the Humane Law Enforcement, lost and found services to help reunite lost pets with their families, pet behavioral advice to help resolve issues that lead to animals being relinquished to shelters, working with breed rescue groups to find more homes for more animals, volunteer and foster programs to allow other members of the community to help us help more animals and an award winning Humane Education program that teaches kindness to animals to the next generation of animal lovers.

I just love the picture she found for this month's event!

You can also follow the Petworth Monthly Cat Adoption Event on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Washington Sport Teams Score a Trifecta

Last night three Washington sports teams were playing. And all three of them won. The Caps and the Wizards were in playoff games. The Nats were playing the hated Cardinals. The Wizards won going away 117-106 against the Raptors and are up in their series 2-0.

The Caps and the Nats needed extra time to accomplish the feat.

If the Caps had lost they would have been only one loss away from being elimiated by the Islanders. Instead, with the win, they have tied the series 2-2. From the Post:

More than 11 minutes into another extra period inside this thundering building against the New York Islanders, Backstrom had gathered the puck along the half wall, his back to the net, and surged into the middle. Forward John Tavares, the man who needed only 15 seconds of overtime to tilt Game 3 in the Islanders’ favor, had fumbled his stick, so Backstrom found a sliver of space, rocked onto his heels and fired. The puck hissed around teammate Joel Ward, who again had screened goaltender Jaroslav Halak in traffic. Soon, the complexion of these Eastern Conference quarterfinals — and really, the Capitals’ season — would finally swing in their favor.

The Nats need ten innings to finish off the Cardinals. They came very close to winning in the bottom of the night with bases loaded and one out. But could not get the winning run across the plate. So it was on to the tenth.

After a tense, back-and-forth game that featured a lot of base runners but few runs, Escobar knew the situation well. He knew that Cardinals reliever Carlos Villanueva, a former Toronto Blue Jays teammate, was going to try to get ahead in the count. So Escobar sent a first-pitch inside fastball with two outs over the left field fence. And after he rounded third base and tossed his helmet to the side, Escobar curiously slid headfirst into home plate under the mob of jumping, Gatorade-throwing teammates.

Here was the time line for the Washington Trifecta

At around 10:39, the Caps topped the Islanders on Backstrom’s overtime goal to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece. Perhaps two minutes later, Wall and the Wizards finished off a surprising blowout of the Raptors to take a 2-0 lead in their own first-round series. This was the first time both franchises had ever — ever — won playoff games on the same night. And at Nats Park, the anticipation for something special grew.

Ten minutes later, Yunel Escobar blasted a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th, pushing the Nats past the Cardinals, the villains from Washington’s brutal playoff disappointment in 2012. Escobar slid headfirst into home. Fans around the area hugged, laughed and screamed. All of this was too much happiness.

Certainly a great night to be a sports fan in Washington, DC.

The Start of the Trip

I discovered something important that parking restrictions around Union Station only run Monday through Friday. The reason that is important is it means I can drive my car down and park by Union Station to get a bus.

Usually I would ride Metro but that doesn't open until 7 am on Saturday. The first train doesn't arrive at the Rhode Island Avenue Station until around 7:20. So the earliest bus I could take up to New York would be the 8 am bus.

But that's all changed with this new discovery. Now I can take an earlier bus. And that is exactly what I did on Saturday. I got down early and found a parking space two blocks away. I ended up on the 6:10 am bus up to New York. There was a $5 change in reservation fee.

It worked out so well. I got up a little after 10:30. Walked up to the half price ticket booth. I got tickets to both parts to Wolf Hall at one time. So no rushing back to the booth after the matinee to get the ticket for the evening performance.

I decided to go to my hotel, the Cassa on 45th Street, to drop my bag off so I wouldn't have to carry it around with in the afternoon. Turns out I was able to check into the room when I got there! The room was fantastic. So was the bathroom and decided to take a quick shower.

Then grabbed lunch at a Pret that was nearby. After that I headed off to Wolf Hall Part I.

This was such a comfy beds and lots of pillows!

Very clean and modern bathroom

With a huge walk in shower.

Times Square

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2Political Podcast Episode 104

2Political Podcast Episode 104 is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

We start with light-hearted stuff, like Jason hates fitted sheets. Jason shocks Arthur when he talks about still paying bills by cheque—well, he'd use a check, probably. Jason is going to the closing date of Mama Mia, a show he's talked about before. We also talk a bit out the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC—and all the other things going on at the same time. He also went to Opening Day for the Washington Nationals. Arthur, on the other hand, had a less fun time.

When we turn to politics, we start with the recent announcements for candidates for president by Rubio and Clinton. We also talk about the problem Republicans face in their campaigns, especially whoever their eventual nominee is. Money is a problem for Republicans, too, because of what it does to their nomination process.

Everyone's welcome to leave a comment (agree or disagree!).

Links for this episode:
As it turns out, Arthur blogged about folding fitted sheets
All Jason’s blog posts tagged “Cherry Blossoms”
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

A Few Pictures from the New York Trip

Just a couple of quick pictures from my recent New York City trip. More details to come shortly. But I will say it was really great. Wolf Hall was nothing short of amazing.