Books Acquired Recently

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2020.

I just received this recently published Dungeons & Dragons rulebook as a housewarming gift from a friend. It attempts to fix the racist ways some of the game’s races have been portrayed. We’ll see whether it succeeds or not.

Yoder, Rachel. Nightbitch. New York: Doubleday, 2021.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting this debut novel from Mennonite writer Yoder, and my pre-ordered copy arrived in the mail this week.

Vintage Baseball Videos: 1984 National League Championship Series, Game 5, Chicago Cubs at San Diego Padres

Now that Major League Baseball has finally realized having their footage on YouTube is a good thing and has posted lots of vintage games, I’ve been watching some of them this spring and summer. I’ve been focusing on famous games that I know about that I was not able to watch originally, either because I was not alive or because I was too young to stay up for them as a boy.

What follows is the first installment of a new series of posts, Vintage Baseball Videos, about my experiences watching these games. I discuss interesting historical tidbits and elements of the broadcasts that stand out to me. It is an exercise in nostalgia, without which baseball would not exist, rather than in historiography. We’ll see how long the series lasts before I get tired of it or run out of time to work on it, but I’ll try to do at least one game a week for now.

I became a baseball fan when I was five in 1985, so this game (here is the link to it) occurred before I was a fan, in the last year that the League Championship Series were best-of-five instead of best-of-seven. I lived in northern Illinois from 2004-2011 during graduate school (i.e., before the Cubs finally won a World Series in 2016), and knew lots of Cubs fans, and heard stories about how this game continued to haunt them because they still hadn’t broken the World Series drought that was already four decades old in 1984. Although the game is a traumatic memory for Cubs fans, it’s worth noting that they have won a World Series in the intervening 37 years and the Padres have not.

ABC’s broadcast crew for the game was Don Drysdale on the play-by-play with Reggie Jackson and Earl Weaver (both active in the majors at the time, Jackson as a player and Weaver as a manager) as the color commentators and Tim McCarver as the sideline reporter. All are now in the Hall of Fame. My initial reaction was that it would not be a good broadcast because two-thirds of the booth team were not regular announcers, but the chemistry between the three is good, and Drysdale and Jackson have a fun back-and-forth repartee representing the pitching and hitting perspectives, respectively, throughout the broadcast.

Before the bottom of the first there is a recorded interview between Drysdale and Cubs starting pitcher Rick Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe is incredibly articulate and, seemingly, genuine in it (compare the wooden interview Steve Garvey gives to McCarver before the beginning of the game). It’s no surprise that he has become a good color commentator for ESPN after retiring as a player.

The San Diego crowd made an incredible amount of noise throughout the entire game, beginning with the Padres’ player introductions. The boxed-in architecture of Jack Murphy Stadium (the one good characteristic of all of the cookie-cutter baseball/football stadiums of the era) helped to keep in the sound.

I knew very few of the specifics about this game before watching it other than that the Padres won and that Leon Durham made a supposedly decisive error. The game illustrates how quickly one can bounce between baseball’s highs and lows. Durham, who had a .307 career average with runners in scoring position at the time according a graphic flashed during his first at-bat, hit a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Cubs an immediate lead. This hit helped lead to Padre starter Eric Show’s (pronounced to rhyme with “Mao,” not “owe”) quick exit. Show only pitched 1.1 innings before being pulled after giving up three runs on three hits (two homers) and a walk. The Padres’ bullpen then delivered 7.2 shutout innings.

After a failed hit-and-run by the Cubs in the top of the third, Jackson notes that he’s never been the hitter in a hit-and-run because he swings and misses too much. He later retired as the all-time leader in strikeouts, and remains so.

Durham’s error with one out in the bottom of the seventh, which allowed the tying run to score (not the winning run, the tying run, so it’s a little unfair to consider the error “decisive” because the Cubs still had two turns at bat left–they had the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning against Goose Gossage, but couldn’t score–and it’s not Durham’s fault that the Cubs didn’t make what in hindsight was a necessary pitching change after the run scored), is pretty shocking on the replay. He is down on his knees waiting for the ball, but moves his mitt at just the wrong time instead of letting the ball hit it, so the ball goes through his legs. The play is, of course, reminiscent of Bill Buckner’s error at the end of game six of the 1986 World Series, but in the case of the Buckner play he barely gets into fielding position (because of his infamously bad legs) before the ball gets to him, whereas on the Durham play it almost seems like Durham has too much time even though the ball is hit sharply, and he takes his eye off of it. After the error, Tony Gwynn hit a go-ahead double. Then Gwynn robbed Durham of an extra base hit when Durham led off the ninth inning. Again, the Cubs had chances after the Padres took the lead, but they couldn’t capitalize on them.

One last note. I did not realize that Dennis Eckersley was on the 1984 Cubs in his pre-closer days. There is a shot of him warming up in the bullpen at one point, though he never got into the game. So many future Hall of Famers or near Hall of Famers were involved in this series: Eckersley, Gwynn, Gossage, Garvey, Sutcliffe, Graig Nettles. Based on the teams’ rosters, it makes sense that the Padres won the series in hindsight. Even if the Cubs had won, they would have lost to the Tigers in the World Series like the Padres did because of how dominant Detroit was that year. Overall, even though the mythology surrounding the game is a little overblown because of how it emphasizes the Cubs losing rather than the Padres winning, it is an exciting one that is worth watching.

Writing Activity, June 2021

One of my 2021 goals is to keep a list of my writing activity for each month. I do so partly as a form of encouragement for myself–to show that I am still able to do some writing despite the energy-sucking terrors of the pandemic (Which is still going on! Keep wearing masks!)–and partly as an archive that I can look back on in the future. As such, I will include negative happenings (e.g., receiving rejections), not just positive ones.

I think that it is important for me to share my list publicly as a queer disabled writer of color because mainstream discourse tries to either pretend voices such as mine do not exist or actively tries to suppress them. Whether one is part of a marginalized group or not, writing is an essential act of resistance in these terrible times, so I hope that my list offers encouragement to others.

Much like May’s list, the June list is fairly short because I am still getting settled after my move as I prepare to begin my MFA program in the fall. The list is basically in chronological order.

1. Recommenced writing a haiku or senryu on most mornings.

2. Gave a friend feedback on their chapbook manuscript.

3. Had an essay on Ana Castillo published, “Queering Space in Ana Castillo’s Give It to Me,” in Transnational Chicanx Perspectives on Ana Castillo, edited by Bernadine M. Hernández and Karen R. Roybal (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021), 123-33.

4. Updated the Mennonite/s Writing Bibliographies website.

5. Submitted a chapbook of haiku and senryu to a publisher during their reading period.

6. Submitted three senryu to a disability poetry anthology at the beginning of the month, and they were rejected at the end of the month.

Book Acquired Recently: Brandon Taylor’s Filthy Animals

Taylor, Brandon. Filthy Animals. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021.

I read Taylor’s novel Real Life last year and loved it. I was very excited earlier this year when I heard that he had a short story collection coming out this summer. My copy came in the mail a few days ago.

Books Acquired Recently

Bergman, David Saul. Unpardonable Sins. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2021.

Bergman is the pen name of two Mennonites, Daniel Born and Dale Suderman. Their book is a mystery novel, a rare genre within Mennonite literature. Born sent me a free copy, which I look forward to reading.

Jamison, Leslie. The Empathy Exams: Essays. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2014.

—. Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays. 2019. New York: Back Bay Books, 2020.

I just found out that I’ll be reading some of Jamison’s work in one of my classes this fall, and decided to buy these essay collections as preparation.

Books Acquired Recently

Bechdel, Alison. The Secret to Superhuman Strength. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021.

I love Bechdel’s memoir Fun Home and her old comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. I look forward to reading her latest!

Hotham, Gary. Rightsizing the Universe: Haiku Theory. Scaggsville, MD: Yiqralo Press, 2019.

I was intrigued by the inclusion of “theory” in this collection’s title, so decided to acquire it.

Laymon, Kiese. Long Division. 2013. New York: Scribner, 2021.

Laymon’s two books of nonfiction are excellent, thus I am quite excited to read this new printing of his novel.

Writing Activity, May 2021

One of my 2021 goals is to keep a list of my writing activity for each month. I do so partly as a form of encouragement for myself–to show that I am still able to do some writing despite the energy-sucking terrors of the pandemic (Which is still going on! Keep wearing masks!)–and partly as an archive that I can look back on in the future. As such, I will include negative happenings (e.g., receiving rejections), not just positive ones.

I think that it is important for me to share my list publicly as a queer disabled writer of color because mainstream discourse tries to either pretend voices such as mine do not exist or actively tries to suppress them. Whether one is part of a marginalized group or not, writing is an essential act of resistance in these terrible times, so I hope that my list offers encouragement to others.

Here is the list for May (here’s April’s), which is basically in chronological order. I got very little writing done this month because

1. I got into Hunter College’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction (I got accepted a few months ago, but can now make it public), and spent the month making moving arrangements and moving. My writing has been evolving more and more toward the personal during the past five years, and I feel the need to get some more training for how to embrace this shift.

2. I had a publisher follow up on a book proposal about a volume of literary criticism on Mennonite literature by asking for the full manuscript, which I then submitted.

3. I had a senryu published in the April issue of Kingfisher (which arrived in May): “pandemic / my manic Mondays / on hold”

Books Acquired Recently

Hernández, Bernadine M., and Karen R. Roybal, eds. Transnational Chicanx Perspectives on Ana Castillo. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021.

I have a chapter in this book, “Queering Space in Ana Castillo’s Give It to Me.” My author’s copy arrived today.

Rod, Dena. Scattered Arils. Hamilton, OH: Milk & Cake Press, 2021.

I saw a presentation by Rod at AWP this spring and pre-ordered this poetry collection, which came today.

Warfield, Liam, Walter Crasshole, and Yony Leyser. Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution; An Oral History. Oakland: PM Press, 2021.

I don’t know much about the queer music scene of the 1980s and 1990s, so I’m excited to read this book as a way to fill in this knowledge gap.

Writing Activity, April 2021

One of my 2021 goals is to keep a list of my writing activity for each month. I do so partly as a form of encouragement for myself–to show that I am still able to do some writing despite the energy-sucking terrors of the pandemic–and partly as an archive that I can look back on in the future. As such, I will include negative happenings (e.g., receiving rejections), not just positive ones.

I think that it is important for me to share my list publicly as a queer disabled writer of color because mainstream discourse tries to either pretend voices such as mine do not exist or actively tries to suppress them. Whether one is part of a marginalized group or not, writing is an essential act of resistance in these terrible times, so I hope that my list offers encouragement to others.

Here is the list for April (here’s March’s), which is basically in chronological order:

1. Wrote at least one senryu or haiku in my journal most days, although I really slacked off on this during the last week of the month.

2. Finished revising (for now) a book manuscript on Mennonite literature and submitted a proposal about it to a publisher.

3. Updated the Mennonite/s Writing Bibliographies website.

4. Found out which of the five poems I had submitted to the 2021 Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology last month got accepted (everyone who submits has one chosen).

5. Attended a meeting with my haiku mentor and workshopped my first ever haibun.

6. Attended a workshop run by Carley Moore about how to write about current political events.

Books Acquired Recently: Poetry Edition

Harjo, Joy. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry. New York: W.W. Norton, 2020.

I read a review of this recent anthology in the April issue of Poetry and decided to acquire it right away.

Orr, Gregory. Poetry as Survival. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002.

I just received this book as a belated birthday gift. I’ve been thinking about the societal role of poetry specifically and literature in general a lot during the pandemic, and the book looks like it will be excellent accompaniment for these thoughts.