Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Revel in Great Red Sox Writing

by Roger Angell

His ode to Nomar:

Iconic players—the Kid and Johnny Pesky, Yaz, Jim Rice, and Nomar—have allowed the Red Sox to overlook some chronic problems, like speed and defense, down the years, but on July 31st, minutes before the trading deadline, and with the Sox in second in their division, eight and a half games behind the Yankees, the young general manager, Theo Epstein, completed a multi-club trade that sent away the once untouchable shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs, in return for the younger and quicker Orlando Cabrera, from the Expos; a Gold Glove first baseman, Doug Mientkiewicz, from the Twins; and a late-inning base-stealer, Dave Roberts, from the Dodgers. The shocker here was Garciaparra, who had been too easily injured of late, and had become a distant celebrity in the clubhouse (there was a red line on the floor, a figurative little looped maître-d’ rope, in front of his locker, to discourage writers). Talk was that he’d been affronted by the news that the Sox planned to trade him away over the winter, as part of the aborted A-Rod deal, but I prefer to think that it was a damaged wrist, first injured in 1999, that took away his exuberant line-drive-spraying swings at the plate, and dimmed the gleam in his eyes. “Nomah!” no more.

Questions & Answers

Part of our Ithaca weekend was a writing circle with a wonderful writing teacher. Zee gave each of us a copy of Number 2 of her journal "Blue Moon". The topic of Number 2 was Questions and it is 14 pages of questions. Just questions.

Here's a brief sample: "What are the names of Snow White's little friends? Can I be trusted? Can you be trusted? How much longer can it rain? Do you ever wake up laughing? Can you love too much? Who discovered whistling? Is it ever going to be over? Are we there yet? Is there ever enough? Is there always enough? Are you listening? Could it get any hotter? Why does this look so familiar? Would you care to join me?"

I wrote this essay during our writing time:

Why do I have to have quiet when I write? Who's your daddy? (Gratuitous Red Sox reference.) What would my life be like if I turned off my television? How can I break old habits? Can a person really change? Why am I such a saver? Why can't I throw food away the day I know I've finished eating it? Why do I save every letter I've ever gotten? (Actually I know why I do that -- I like to read them years later and be reminded of (or realize I've completely forgotten) past events.) Why do I have 5 boxes of bubble wrap in my basement? Why do I have 3 boxes of used padded envelopes in my office? (Could be that ebay ceramics book tear I went on this year.) Why is the surface of every table in my house covered with paper? Why do I own 6 sets of nesting bowls? Why do I own 17 glass reamers? Why do I own 39 tabletalk pie tins? Why do I own an untold number of teapots?

Some of these things are preparation for the future I don't even know yet is in front of me. The bubblewrap has come in handy for transporting pots. Ditto with the envelopes. All the china and pottery I've collected gives me inspiration as I go into the studio to make my own pieces.

Why didn't I ever take pottery classes until I was 46? Why didn't I realize that a kid who loved to play in the mud would love wet dirty messy sensuous clay?

Questions from the popular culture of my past:

Why is there air?
Who are you?
Why don't you love me like you used to do?
Why do you treat me like a worn out shoe?
What is success?
Where are you going to?
Do you really care?
Why not call Roto-Rooter -- that's the name -- and away go troubles down the drain?
Cream and sugar?
Care to dance?
Dance with me?
Walk much?
Talk much?
Tell me -- tell me -- tell me -- do you love me?
Why not us? (Second gratuitous Red Sox reference.)
Would you?
Could you?
Where's the rest of me?
How many roads must a man walk down before he can see the sky?
Do you know the way to San Jose?
Have you been a good little girl this year?
Did you send Santa a letter?
Do you have to wear that?

Veering back to my own life I think, How did I ever get this old? When did I have to start learning slang from kids instead of my friends? When did the word "versus" replace "against"? When did random become a popular adjective (or adverb, and why don't I know the difference between the two? Why wasn't I taught grammar in grade school?) Why do kids have so much homework these days? How did I survive in school without an hour or two of homework every night? If kids' parents control their play when they're 13, how will kids decide what to do in their own lives when they're 26? Is SpongeBob SquarePants a better or worse cartoon than Heckle & Jeckle? Who was the first person to think, there should be a TV network just for kids? Did that person make a lot of money? Will that person burn in hell? Is there really a hell and do people really burn there? Purgatory: fact or legend? How many years do I have left in my life? Will I be judged in the afterlife? Will I be judged on my beliefs or my actions? Who's the official scorekeeper? Is God dead? Do you get to meet everyone you've ever known in the afterlife? Are departed family and friends looking down on us now? Do they know what happens next to us or is it like live theatre to them? Do they have odds on what we'll do next? What are the odds on me?

Do you have any questions? Post them in comments, below.


I was responsible for a meal at our gathering of 12 in Ithaca. A frittata is a flat omelet. It is drier than an omelet. They're great hot or warm or cold the next day.

Carmelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Frittata

4 medium onions
3 heads garlic
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T butter
18 eggs
pinch nutmeg
salt & pepper
8 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded
3 T romano cheese

Day before: Cut 1/2 inch from top of whole garlic heads. Arrange heads on foil sheet. Drizzle each head with 1 t. olive oil, add salt & pepper. Fold foil into sealed package. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes at high (450 degrees) heat. Meanwhile, halve onions & slice thinly. Melt 2 T butter in 2 T olive oil. Add onions, salt & pepper & cook over slow heat while the garlic is cooking. Cook until onions are soft & carmelized to a soft brown.

Put garlic heads -- foil package & all -- and onions in plastic storage containers.

45 minutes before serving: Squeeze garlic cloves out of papery head into a large bowl. Break 18 eggs into the same bowl & mix, using a whip, hand blender or beater. Add pinch nutmeg (fresh is great!) and salt & pepper.

In a large non-stick fry pan (preferably one with a metal handle as you will be putting frittata under the broiler) over low to medium heat, spread the cold carmelized onions evenly. (The butter & oil you used to carmelize the onions will be the fat that keeps the frittata from sticking.) Spread the shredded cheese evenly over the onions. Pour the egg/garlic mixture over the onions & cheese. Sprinkle the romano over the top.

Cook (moving the pan if need be to cook the bottom evenly) until the bottom is browned (use a spatula to check). Put pan under broiler & watch carefully until top is browned. Put a knife into the center. If interior eggs are still runny, place pan into a 350 degree oven for 10 or 15 minutes until frittata is cooked through.

Serve immediately, with good bread & fruit or green salad.

Monday, November 15, 2004


From a weekend in lovely Ithaca, New York. Where the most popular lawn ornament was a sign saying "Bush Must Go". Did my heart good.

Back to regular posting on Wednesday.