Two Nonfiction books about the Pacific Northwest: ‘The Boys in the Boat’ and ‘The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff’

I must confess–every year I tell myself that I will try to read more nonfiction and ever year I read a bit more but perhaps not as much as I had intended.

Last year I happened to read two nonfiction titles that delve into different slices of Washington state history.

The Boys in the BoatFirst, I had heard so much about The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown. It is one of those books that has captured the spirit and the imagination of our region with a story of timeless triumph. So when a bookstore customer told me, “You need to read it–it will make your heart bigger!”–I finally took the plunge. Continue reading “Two Nonfiction books about the Pacific Northwest: ‘The Boys in the Boat’ and ‘The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff’”

Movie Mondays: What’s So Funny about Sports?

I love comedies. I don’t love sports. But I do love the sports comedy sub-genre. These four films rise to the top of the ranks in my book (along with the best sports comedy ever, Caddyshack, which I’ve blogged about previously and will probably write about again).

The Bad News Bears (1976) was a favorite of mine as a kid, though it’s really not a “family movie.” Walter Matthau stars as Coach Morris Buttermaker, the curmudgeonly down-and-out coach of a terrible little league baseball team full of foul mouthed boys. That is, until Coach recruits Amanda Whurlitzer (Tatum O’Neal), who’s pitch is good enough to turn the team’s luck around, if the rest of the team would only accept her. It’s an interesting combination of the benefits of grit and perseverance alongside cynicism and lots of rude, crude (but funny) humor. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: What’s So Funny about Sports?”

Books that are One with the Bike

I’ve been reading some interesting books about bikes and bike riding, racing and commuting. Here are a few books that have an interesting angle or two. Sometimes the angle is from the ground looking up.

This is Parkin’s follow up to his very popular A Dog in a Hat. This time he returns to the states and learns to ride a wide tired bike over snowmobile tracks. When he finally gets his chance to race in America he finds this snow training has been all wrong for the quick and tumble races that lay before him in the American South.

“I’ve been riding a bicycle as my principal means of transportation in New York since the early 1980’s.” So says the author and musician in this book where he recounts his bicycling travels in Berlin, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Manila, Sydney, London and U.S. cities big and small from New York to Sweetwater Texas. Continue reading “Books that are One with the Bike”

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Blank US Bicycle Route Shield. Design based on the specifications in the 2004 edition of Standard Highway Signs. Public Domain image.

When I was in college, I lived off-campus with a small army of roommates. I had a great time, and I don’t have any major complaints about my roomies. However, young people often become obsessive with music and play the same albums and songs over and over and over again. For example, I had one roommate (we’ll call him Tim because that was his name) who constantly played Kansas. It seemed like torture to be forced to listen to “Dust in the Wind” all day long only to be woken after a full evening of entertaining by the shrill Kansan vocals again in the morning. I had another roommate, Pat, (his real name) who played Queen albums 24/7. I moved. That’s how I handled that situation. Although years later I would suggest that the Geneva Conventions be updated to include a mention of the damage that can be done by repeated listenings to Kansas, I have come around to Queen.

Today is Ride Your Bike to Work Day and in honor of this occasion I would suggest two things: Continue reading “I Want to Ride My Bicycle”

Bicycle Obsessions

As a bicycle commuter along the Burke-Gilman trail here in Seattle, I am not that upset when it rains. Hail, ice and snow, of course, are another matter. Rain seems to thin out the casual walkers and riders. And so beginning this Bike to Work Month with several days of rain has not been that unpleasant, given that I have not been struck by lightning or a vehicle of any kind up to this point.  This morning I was heading south over the Fremont Bridge when the lights went on and the spans went up. The rain had stopped by that time and I took advantage of my wait to take off some of my gear. As I put my rain pants in my bag and hooked it onto my back, I glanced to the canal and saw a small tug pushing another large tug slowly towards the sound. When I looked back right before we took off, there was a long line of walkers and bikers in a great variety of outdoor attire.  It was reassuring to be part of that silent community of Continue reading “Bicycle Obsessions”