Saturday, June 27, 2009


"You're in the seventh level of Dante's Hell right now..." Doug tells me as I rest my forehead on my wrist. Sidled up at Flat Branch for another day of tennis, NBC shows their personal bias towards American men's tennis and I'm stuck watching a point by point ace game between Roddick and Meltzer. Each time Meltzer tries to bring Roddick to the net, America's one dimensional player slams the ball to the baseline, never stepping foot anywhere near the net.

Boring tennis. Anyone suffering through the Roddick-Meltzer match today must be stronger than I am. I instead turned away from the match after the umpteenth ace and listened to Peter's story of finally meeting the 75 year old guy who regularly steals the bar's copy of The New York Times, a meeting which involved Peter's engaging with the thief. Peter confronted the old man, explaining that the newspaper is regularly read by several very regular patrons and the bartenders, now knowing why the newspaper disappears everyday around 2, have come to recognize the old man and have started hiding The New York Times from him. It's sad it's come to that, of course, but sadder still that better matches weren't aired while I had no obligations to a paying job on a Saturday.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Oh, I'm on grass alright--thick stands of big and little bluestem, gama grass, Indian grass, breaking through the grass and forbs to tally up the field sparrows, yellow breasted chats, indigo buntings, and prairie warblers. The blue grey gnatcatchers hang out on the edges.

While I'm in the woodlands, those with access to ESPN2 can see if Maria has actually been playing tennis during her recovery period. Roddick is still in (damn it), Nadal, Gasquet and Monfils aren't even participating in Wimbledon. The baseline grass is already burned out while grass at the net is pristine.


Centre Court - 1pm start

M Sharapova v. G Dulko
G Garcia-Lopez v. R Federer
S Querrey v. M Cilic

No.1 Court - 1pm start

S Greul v. N Djokovic
J Groth v. S Williams
T Haas v. M Llodra

No.2 Court - 12 noon start

M Fish v. J Tipsarevic
V Azarenka v. I Raluca Olaru
R Soderlingv. M Granollers
A Rezai v. E Dementieva

Play starts at 12pm on the outside courts and at 1pm on Centre Court and No.1 Court.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Her sentences end with a "yes."

From the final chapter, titled "Molly," of James Joyce's Ulysses
*Yes because he never did a thing like that before as ask to get his breakfast in bed with a couple of eggs since the City Arms hotel when he used to be pretending to be laid up with a sick voice doing his highness to make himself interesting for that old faggot Mrs Riordan that he though he had a great leg of and she never left us a farthing all for masses for herself and her soul greatest miser ever was actually afraid to lay out 4d for her methylated spirit telling me all her ailments she had too much chat in her about politics and earthquakes and the end of the world let us have a bit of fun first God help the world if all the women were her sort down on bathingsuits and lownecks of course nobody wanted her to wear them I suppose she was pious because no man would look at her twice I hope Ill never be like her a wonder she didnt want us to cover our faces but she was a welleducated woman certainly and her gabby talk about Mr Riordan here and Mr Riordan there I suppose he was glad to get shut of her and her dog smelling my fur and always edging up to get up under my petticoats especially then still I like that in him polite to old women like that waiters and beggars too hes not proud out of nothing but not always if he ever got anything really serious the matter with him its much better for them to go into a hospital where everything is clean but I suppose Id have to dring it into him for a month yes


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Molly Anne Bloom Poss, 1993-2009

Molly died at 5:45 this morning in my bed as we gently stroked her back. Following a year of dietary restrictions to help impaired kidneys and two series of intravenous fluids administered over the course of a year, her kidneys finally gave up. In March, we discovered a large tumor on her chest that began to impact her breathing, but managed to shrink it with two rounds of antibiotics and homeopathic methods for slowing tumor growth in dogs (cut out grains, first). Special thanks to the Millersburg Veterinary Hospital for unflappable dedication to my dog's health and patience with my fear of needles while they provided instruction for administering fluids.

(Rather miraculously, three hours after my 16 year old dog died, I somehow managed to pass my Fire Academy exam while my dog lay in the cool basement on her bed awaiting burial.)

We buried her under a dogwood tree, in rich soil next to an elm sprout (which she liked to eat in her later years when her stomach started bothering her) surrounded by tall violets and Silphium perfoliatum plants. Her grave is now a bed of impatiens and caladiums--happy, bright little shade-loving annuals to serve as pretty placeholders for the Christmas ferns, mosses, and Ozark wildflowers I'll gather in the fall from Brazito. The house wrens and katydids will keep her company out there.

Molly is survived by Booker Beck and Gulliver Poss, two hounds she never liked very much at all; they were both too rowdy, too rambunctious, and too friendly for her taste. Her smile could light the room, and we're absolutely lost without her. From now on, June 16, Bloomsday, will be a holiday for me.
Post scriptum: Click here for a nice selection of images and great videos of Molly. See, in action, Molly fight the Monster in the Bed; it's the first video below the slideshow, and in the end, she gleefully discovers the source of Monsterdom.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Monfils' bionic knees

Two lines I say a lot: "Boy, I'd love to burn that...." and "hey, you know, the world is a patchwork quilt, it takes all types, we all have our own opinions...." Recently having been called "less charitable to the benighted" in my staunch beliefs by a lovely new friend, I'd like to share with you a moment spent at Flat Branch where I didn't press my opinion on an unsuspecting other.

My tennis viewing schedule is relegated by the open hours of Flat Branch (11 am-1am, most days) and the random posting of illegal downloads of live matches by members of a thriving online tennis-loving community. So I take the tennis I can get, often watching players I'm not really interested in, or players whom I like playing mediocre tennis. I tend to miss all of the wonderful 3 am matches at Wimbledon, matches which I used to watch at a bar in New Orleans surrounded by Hungarians or Englishmen wanting to watch Manchester-Chelsea matches instead. If I owned a television, I'd only want it hooked up between the French Open and the US Open. I really don't care to watch anything else but tennis.

And so, in this predicament, I often find myself at Flat Branch next to a. folks who would rather the Cardinals game on the chosen television, or b. other tennis fans. On Sunday, I was sitting next to another quasi-tennis fan. Nadal and Soderling were on the little muted screen and Nadal didn't look so good; the girl next to me was rooting for Soderling. At some point in the match, she explained to her date that she was rooting for Soderling because he was an American. My ears perked up and I muttered to her that actually, he was from Sweden. "Oh, then I like Nadal," she replied. We all have our reasons for supporting our sports players, whether we like the silks of the jerseys in horse racing or Dennis Rodman's charismatic behaviour on the court. So, the world is a patchwork quilt and it takes all types. One of my own family members has a Sarah Palin calendar, but I don't rib him about it.

After Nadal lost that day, NBC broadcast the Roddick-Monsfils match. Those of you who know me know that I positively loathe Andy Roddick. I think he's a transparent player, a typical American tennis player, and he doesn't understand the concept of finesse in tennis. Oh, I know, I've heard that he's a humanitarian, that he supports women's rights in other countries; he probably even donates $25 a year to The Nature Conservancy and recycles his Zima bottles. I can sum up in 6 words why I hate Roddick. I wasn't even ranting about Roddick when the girl next to me said "I like Roddick." I could have very easily launched into a measured explanation of 1,000 different reasons why he is not a great tennis player, even though his game is improving (still ignores the net. Totally scared of it.) and he does manage to return the ball sometimes warranting a "good job!" I didn't say a word to the girl next to me (are you proud, Alyssa?), who offered "I like him because he's an American." Like clockwork, I answered, "yeah, that's mostly why I hate him. American men's tennis is all about power. They don't really understand the point of the game." I was ready to launch my diatribe against American men's tennis, when she countered with, "I like the Williams' sisters, too." I like Venus, I really do, but I don't like her because she's an American. I disengaged from the conversation and kept my vocal support for Roddick's opponent focused on the screen above. So, that's cool, I liked the White Sox because I liked Carlton Fisk and the early 1990's lineup which included Frank Thomas. She likes American men's tennis. I had nothing to say to her.

Rewind to last year's French Open when one of Columbia's finest tennis players and coaches sat next to me at Flat Branch enjoying grilled salmon and steamed vegetables, the same guy who coined my favorite phrase about Columbia "it's [Mexican food, seafood, independent bookstore, Farmer's Market, sushi] great for a town of this size." Before he went home to watch tennis on his big screen television where he can see the one bead of sweat that emanates from Federer's brow on a bad day, he said, "check out Monsfils. Watch Monsfils." I've tried, I really have, and it's taken four grand slams before the viewing schedule at the watering hole, my work schedule, and the deft footwork of France's Miles Davis look-alike coalesced to a moment where I could, finally, check out Monsfils.

He's great. He slides all over the gorgeous clay courts, running all over the place to hit each shot. A good match for Roddick; when Monsfils tipped a ball over the net, essentially asking for a fencing match, Roddick didn't know what to do. Ah, great joy to see Roddick smeared across the court, his one dimensional game stopped in its tracks. So, today, having spent 18 hours at work yesterday, I took the morning and early afternoon off for a little warm time at Flat Branch to watch tennis. Serena moved through her 11 am match, though not fast enough for Kuznetsova, whose ankle must be killing her right now after that awful fall in the second set, rising up covered in red clay. (Kuznetsova continued playing and won the match.) I still can't imagine what Serena's skeletal system looks like; it must be made of steel or something to be strong enough to carry around that kind of weight.

By the time I ordered my second mediocre pinot noir, it was time for Monsfils-Federer. Monsfils probably wasn't accustomed to playing someone of Federer's caliber. He held his own by sliding all over the court, stretching his legs cross court to hit a drop shot. A very capable player, and a good match for Federer. Maybe he's been practicing more on grass lately...which is no excuse for Sharapova's performance yesterday (her blog, linked to the right and titled "Maria's Doodles", explains that she's recovered from her shoulder injury, but I don't think she actually played any tennis during her recovery? I should start calling my work projects "doodles."). I second the tennis coach's directive regarding tennis viewing: "check out Monsfils." At 22, Monsfils is proving to be a dynamic, deft, and interesting player. Good tennis all around. Beats sitting at my desk.