David Foster Wallace

I never fully appreciated David Foster Wallace as an author until thumbing through the recently released “Greatest Hits” put together to posthumously celebrate the range of his literary contributions, prompting me to sit down with it seriously over the weekend.


The Wallace Reader opens with The Planet Trillaphon As It Stands In Relation To The Bad Thing, an early work published in the Amherst Review when David Wallace was 22, and before authorship took on his middle name.  As most first works, the degree to which it is autobiographical wasn’t as clear as it would become when he committed suicide 24 years later.  There is a dark side to DFW, yet – or, perhaps through this – he was able to inspire many readers and listeners, as evidenced in this video capturing the essence of a commencement speech he gave during graduation ceremonies at Kenyon College.

D.T. Max, writing in The New Yorker magazine, considers that DFW left this planet with considerable unfinished business.  As a newcomer to the depth of Wallace’s writing, I’ll be traveling down the path on which he has led other readers’ eyes and minds.  While I doubt that I’ll be experiencing Talmudic flashbacks as was the case for Joseph Winkler, one never knows where the linkages will lead.

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Talmudic Lesson

The Common


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Doubleheader Victories

Still basking in the fun of watching last Sunday’s basketball doubleheader in which the Goldstein Girls emerged victorious.  First Kayla’s uniform malfunction, showing up on the floor as “Rothschild” (long story short).  Love the sportsmanship the girls learn by both teams exchanging assembly line high fives after the game.  A nice tradition in all basketball games.  Notice that hockey only does this at the very last game; baseball only does this with the winning team congratulating themselves; and football is a more informal and selective milling around after the game.  Kayla then accompanied the family to show support for Ayelet and Leora helping Pressvision to our second win of the season.  Go Team!

Kayla 1Kayla 2Kayla & Abba WaveTwins Uni BackTwins Uni Front

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For Love of Country

Elli & Heather

It seems so fleeting to have only a Veterans Day.  It should be at least Veterans Week, for the effects of service to self, family and country last a lifetime.  One way among many to help preserve this is to buy a copy of For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice.  The book is co-authored by Starbucks’ head honcho, Howard Schultz.  The authors will donate proceeds from the sale of the book to Onward Veterans fund.


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Lichtenstein in Arizona

You see all kinds of interesting things in the Arizona Fall League, and have plenty of time in the sun to make these observations.  Take for example the Tampa Bay Rays Double A minor league pitching coach, R.C. Lichtenstein, one of the coaches for the Peoria Javelinas.  I have no clue if R.C. is Jewish, but the name Lichtenstein is iconic in Orthodox Jewish Circles (see here).  You know how superstitious ballplayers are, so if one is looking for signs from a pitching coach that he’s part of the Lichtenstein Dynasty, what number would his uniform be?


The Phillies pitching coach in the AFL this year is Ray Burris, who plies his trade for their Triple A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.  Nothing came to mind regarding the Burris pedigree, though it brought to mind the infamous Philadelphian Chuck Barris and his legacy The Gong Show – an apt description of how the Phils are developing minor league pitching talent.


The Phillies pitching prospects, hurling for the Scottsdale Scorpions, were underwhelming as expected.  All eyes were really on the Phillies prospect Roman Quinn, affectionately known as “Q”.

Eyes on Q

Q is a fun player to watch, still leading the AFL in steals and runs scored to date.  He has great range in center field, and handles the bat pretty well from both sides of the plate.  Kind of reminds me of a young, hustling Jimmy Rollins.  Would not be surprised to see him in the early part of Spring Training this year.

Quinn Dirt

Well … I’ll miss my $6 Senior Citizen ticket, but am already anticipating return to spend more time here next Fall.  It’s a wonderful setting to practice unretirement, and get some work done in beautiful weather this time of year.

AFL Ticket

My only regret?  No luck on the Wednesday Mystery Bobblehead Giveaway ticket.  You can’t have everything …

AFL Prize Ticket

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Farewell to the AFL

Went to our final AFL game of 2014 today, traveling to Surprise for no surprise, the Scorpions losing another to drop to a league’s worst 10-16.  But we don’t go for the wins; we go for the pure enjoyment of Field of Dreams, which it was today.


Surprise, Arizona.  Spring Training home of Texas and the World Series appearing KC Royals; fall home this year of the Peoria Javelinas while their home stadium is being refurbished.  Things go at a slower pace here in Arizona.





What a joy to see a “ball boy” who was older than me!  But gosh darn it – he must have had great bilateral knee replacement surgery because he was scampering all over the place at a very impressive clip.


The announced crowd today was 326 but I kid you not that the attendance wasn’t more than 150.  Amongst the “regular” fans, this gentleman down the third base line captured the spirit of the day.


I was expecting to see Pat Gillick at some of the games but did not.  I suspect he stayed out of view, not wanting to be spotted in Section 102.


Technology has certainly taken assessment of the game to another level.  Well perhaps not across the board.  Here is a high tech scout most likely from the San Francisco Giants.

Scout 1

And here is a low tech scout most like from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Scout 2

A take home message from the AFL?  Particularly when the crowd is sparse, you have to pay close attention to what’s flying.

Ball Sign

… as this couple can attest, when a sawed off bat propellored their way today.


I’ll close with a sequence from Phillies’ 6’7″ prospect Ethan Stewart because there’s a good chance you won’t be seeing him anywhere else soon, followed by a nod to the grounds crew who do such a great job keeping these arid stadia looking great.


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What? A Line for AFL Tickets?


It’s all a matter of perspective.  In my mind Arizona is the land of retirees, so the 6:35 start time of a game shouldn’t make much difference in attendance at an Arizona Fall League game.  But it did last night, with an announced crowd of 1,120 at Scottsdale Stadium – a crowd so dense that it overwhelmed the scant parking lot and created a long line to the lone ticket processor.

One of the reasons for the larger-than-usual-crowd was that Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame prior to the game.  Or as this retiree from Bahstin excitedly told his dahteh back east, “I’m here in Scawtsdale Stadium where they just ah-nehd Pedroi-er.


It wasn’t just the old fans who showed up.  I was impressed that Pedroia, who played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in 2004 brought out such a cross-section of men, women and children, old and young alike including my first sighting of a stroller at an AFL game.  None of them wore his retired #77 Scorpions uniform, but many were in his current Sox #15 uni – the dude in front of me sporting the gold trim look.


Aside from the pre-game Pedroia festivities, another factor that swelled the crowd was the evening start time.  As much as I think of Arizona as a retiree playground, there are evidently still plenty of kids who can’t make the usual 12:35 first pitch because they’re in school, or adults who actually work and save their game attendance for the rare 6:35 start – like this gent appropriately sporting his camel jacket for the evening cool of the desert.


I made my way into the stadium, in time for the start of the game but well after the Pedroia ceremony was over.  I was more interested in watching for any signs of progress with Phillies’ prospects Roman Quinn and Logan Moore.  Quinn struggled at the plate, Moore struggled behind it, and it wasn’t a good night for the Scorpions who fell to a league worst 10-15 in an 8-4 loss to the league’s best Salt River Rafters now boasting a 16-6 record.  In fact the crowd of 1,120 was big enough that we could barely hear the Silver Fox from Salt River who sat in her usual perch behind the Rafters dugout doing her usual routine of gyrations and verbal machinations, clapping and yelling encouragement after each pitch and oft times in between.

One the quaint enjoyments of the AFL is seeing second generation ballplayers trying to make it to the Bigs, with many familiar names in the same game like Mondesi and Mazilli. I can imagine the rail talk between these two last night.

Moore Bichette

Dante Bichette Jr.:  “Yeh, my dad had a pretty good career.  In 14 seasons he hit .299 with an OPS of .835, 274 homers and 1174 RBIs.”

Logan Moore: “Well my dad never lost a game in his major league career with the Phils.  Of course, he never won one either.”

Kind of depressing when you think about it, and this is destined to become an AFL trivia question.  What is the only major league team with all of its affiliates, from the low “A” all the way up to the major league club – including their AFL team – finish last in the standings in the same season?  Looks like it’ll be the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies.  I don’t envy the un-retired Pat Gillick.

(Well I stand corrected.  All of the affiliates except the Clearwater club, though they still finished under .500 to keep the losing profile intact.)

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