Friday, April 18, 2008


Yes, it's sticking. Yes, we (and a hundred other families) have a giant yard sale tomorrow covering hundreds of blocks.

Snow on April 17th is BULLSHIT!

Boston ball grounds - 1912 (panorama #3), 9/28/12 (LOC)

This is part of a panoramic series of pictures of brand-new Fenway Park in Boston in 1912. It's from a glass-plate negative taken by an unidentified photographer for the Bain News Service -- possibly George Grantham Bain himself, I wouldn't know. The Library of Congress has it up on their Flickr page.

This particular view shows the left field bleachers, the little jog next to them, and the famous Green Monster, the biggest wall in baseball, in the days before it was green; it's covered with advertisements.

The bizarre thing about this is the six or seven rows of seats in front of the wall. These must have been insanely dangerous, being closer than 300 feet to the plate (the wall is 304 feet, whatever lie the Red Sox are telling these days), and well within right-handed line drive range.

I'm guessing that's why these seats were removed. I've never seen or heard of them before. Left field at Fenway in front of the wall is famous not for seats but for "Duffy's Cliff", a slope of grass running up to the wall, an unprecedented (and never repeated) ballpark feature that confused and tumbled opposing fielders until 1934 when it was leveled. Duffy Lewis, the master of climbing this mountain, was the left side of Boston's incredible outfield of the teens.

There's a shot of his centerfielder Tris Speaker right after this in the series; Speaker is seriously on the short list of possibly greatest players ever -- a hitter comparable to Ty Cobb, and arguably the greatest defensive centerfielder ever (though I'll argue for Gary Pettis, a player I've actually seen).

There's no better place to watch a baseball game than Fenway Park. I know Safeco Field and all the modern parks have the brick and retro gewgaws that make numbskull traditionalists swoon, plus all the modern amenities like adequate toilets and edible food (or so they claim), but there's nothing like sitting in a hundred-year-old park and seeing the mound that Babe Ruth pitched off of and the grass Speaker and Ted Williams patrolled.

Unlike modern stadiums, the "rake" or angle of the stands is sharp, which raises the fans up but keeps them close. The views at Fenway are incomparable; you simply cannot get that close in a modern ballpark. For comparison, the closest row of seats in New Comiskey ballpark in Chicago is further away from the action than the furthest row at Old Comiskey, built in the same era as Fenway here.

On the downside, all the seats in the right field stands face not towards the plate but towards the field, resulting in about 10,000 cricks in 10,000 necks on a typical day, but hey, you can't have everything. The atmosphere is worth it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Muscat Grapes Are Here!

My favorite table grapes are finally in stores. Yeah, yeah, they grow them in Chile or someplace and fly them here, but I don't care. They're sweeter and richer than regular grapes, with a honey-flower-citrus ping that I can't get enough of.

These are the same grapes they make Moscatel from, along with loads of other varieties, usually sweet. Asti sparkling wines from Italy are made from muscat grapes. I like 'em right off the stem. Check your supermarket.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Fenny For Your Thoughts

I like booze. It's no secret. Love the stuff, and I've tried everything. When I go places I try to find exotic liquors, like the bottle of Suze (a gentian-and-vanilla flavored aperitif) I brought home from Paris, or the Xtabentun (Mayan honey-and-anise liquor) I enjoyed in Mexico.

Today I discovered a new one, from Goa in India. It's called Fenny, or Feni, and it's distilled from the cashew apple.

The cashew apple, as I also discovered today on Slog, is a false fruit that grows behind the true fruit (which bears the seed, or cashew nut as it's called) of the cashew tree.

I've never seen or heard of it before, and I'm quite certain it's never been sold in this God-forsaken state with its repressive licensing laws and state liquor stores. I don't understand why the State of Washington is in the retail business, selling me booze, and telling me what kinds I'm allowed to have and what days I can buy it on; or why the only place within a mile of where I'm sitting that can sell me ANYTHING stronger than beer or wine closes in FIVE MINUTES. Hmm, perhaps that's a rant for another day.

While poking around the web, though, looking for an online seller (whose deliveries would be illegal but unlikely to be traced or stopped) I did discover this Indian exporter, who praises his "Fantasy" brand Fenny with the words "it has been designed to manulise your string of ecstasy" and "you will find it hard to resist howling in to one now and then." Which is exactly what I like to hear.

"Howling into one" doesn't make any sense, but it's the best description of what happens to me and a bottle of 40-proof I've ever heard.

Tickets to Goa are out of my price range. If this was a perfect world, someone would tell me in the comments where I can order this stuff online. I won't hold my breath.