I don’t know which meteorological phenomenon is responsible for the present weather conditions in Gainesville (partly cloudy, seventy-six degrees). Perhaps it’s El Niño or La Niña. I don’t really care more than to say that, whatever it is, I love it. It hasn’t been cold in weeks. Indeed, we haven’t had a day with a high temperature below sixty-five degrees since the twelfth of February, and eight of the past ten days have reached eighty degrees. I ride home from class at night in a t-shirt and I feel fine.
At last night’s Florida baseball game, I stood on the deck of Dizney Plaza [at the left on the picture below] overlooking left field and basked in the cool breeze blowing across the diamond. The temperature was precisely what one would choose if somehow, as with a giant magical thermostat, he could select a permanent outside temperature that would never change.
The afternoon before I had met up with our friend Laura who had never been to a UF baseball game, but was excited to have the chance. We arrived for the five o’clock game perhaps fifteen minutes early, and took our seats in my normal spot, halfway between third base and the left field fence. Shortly thereafter we were approached by one of the athletic department staff who asked if we’d like to volunteer to be “Captain K”. Captain K is the person or persons who sits in the bleachers above the left field wall and hangs up giant posterboards printed with the letter K, signifying a strike out thrown by a UF pitcher. I had never done it before, and was a bit hesitant, only because I’d be committing to paying perfect attention. McKethan Stadium does not have a billboard-sized screen offering repeat glimpses of important plays. Moreover, Captain K is expected to distinguish between strikeouts in which the batter was caught looking or went down swinging. Nevertheless, Laura and I fulfilled our duty admirably, tallying eight strikeouts during the amazingly brief two hour game. For our trouble we received a “Captain K” t-shirt and a $25 gift card to the Gator Sports Shop. I now have a tinge of regret that I didn’t trade Laura for the cool shirt, since it isn’t every day that one gets to be Captain K.
UPDATE: Laura’s Captain K t-shirt was too big for her so she let me have it! Huzzah!
Friday night was the University of Florida’s home opener against the Bulls of the University of South Florida. I had been eagerly awaiting the day since late last June. Indeed, I had been dreaming about the new baseball season rather obsessively.
Miriam and I met up for dinner on campus at five o’clock. She’s not that into baseball, but our date was lovely.
Quite like last season when I left the station each evening and headed to the ballpark, Friday night I dropped of my backpack at work (since I cannot bring it into McKethan Stadium), and headed over to the park. The same guy who scanned tickets last season was there again at the south gate. I flashed my ID and went inside. It felt great to be back. Up at Dizney Plaza they were distributing t-shirts to the registered Bleacher Creatures. I don’t generally sit in the outfield stands with the genuine Bleacher Creatures, but I admire them. I met up with my friend and fellow History grad-student, Anthony. He’s a lifelong baseball fan, too.
We enjoyed a terrific, if lopsided game. The stands were full: announced attendance was over 5,100. And the weather was absolutely perfect, with clear skies, a nearly full moon, and temperatures in the low 70s.
In the last two weeks I have begun to assume some of the recording duties at work. That is, I have attended live concerts and recorded them for possible future broadcast. Last Friday it was a Gainesville Chamber Orchestra performance of the Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 (which pleasantly surprised me). Last night it was the University of Florida Wind Symphony performing music by an American composer named John Mackey, including his Trombone Concerto, performed by it dedicatee, Joseph Alessi, the principal trombonist with the New York Philharmonic. It was a thrilling piece, and our recording came out splendid. (I hear that they are in the studio today making an official recording, and I will be sure to look out for it when it is released.) I also loved Mackey’s other piece the band performed, Hymn to a Blue Hour, which was quite cinematic.
Since the composer has not yet given his blessing to our recording of last night’s performance, I will keep said recording under wraps. But I will keep you posted when and if we broadcast it. In the meantime I can give you a sample of the final work performed last night: Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. This is the end of the March that concludes the whole piece, and the recording sounds fine if I do say so myself.
Meanwhile, today I am about to burst with happiness, because UF’s baseball season begins tonight. I have been eagerly awaiting this moment for months. Aaaahhhhh!
You might think I have put out an internet APB for any news stories related to Abraham Lincoln or Cleveland, seeing how I am fascinated by both subjects. It was only a coincidence, however, that I found this New York Times post today about Lincoln’s February 1861 trip to Cleveland en route to Washington. Lincoln’s train would pass through Cleveland again in 1865, but on that occasion it was his funeral train taking him home to Illinois.
The above article even mentions This Is Spinal Tap. That’s the trifecta.
I don’t care about football, but I was fascinated and delighted by this great video documenting the Wilson football factory in Ada, Ohio, where workers with decades of experience sew footballs together.
I found the video through a link on a blog I enjoy reading called UniWatch, which, for the most part, shares my enthusiasm for vintage-looking sports uniforms, and stirrups in particular. On the other hand, they dislike the new Tampa Bay Lightning uniforms (well, they like the uniforms on their own, but don’t think them appropriate for the Lightning), which I think a huge improvement.