Monday, May 26, 2014

David Wright and the inner-secrets of gnomes

There’s a story sweeping the Internet about a Tennessee woman who accidentally dropped her garden gnome, discovering inside a hidden, detailed mystery figure.

She’s speculating that it’s a female form of some kind, perhaps an angel. You can read all about it – and even see a video – here.

The injured gnome, named Pete, now has his own Facebook page. 

He’s also lonely, as the women confessed to smashing all of her other gnomes to see if there was anything inside. There wasn't.

We here at Mets Guy do not endorse gnome carnage of any kind. 

Wanton destruction of gnomes on the off-chance that they harbor some inner- secrets is just wrong. Borrow an MRI machine.

We do know a thing or two about the inner-workings of gnomes.

We have under our roof, the Gnome of Victory and Celebration, who travels the country posing with landmarks, spreading joy and standing as the embodiment of  Mets victories and other good things.

As you also remember, the Gnome faced temporary dismembermentat the hands of a rogue jackalope at Wall Drug in South Dakota. Thanks to Uncle Jeff, Zack and the impressive inventory of Wall Drug, the gnome was reunited with his pieces in time for our visit to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

He’s had two accidental dismemberments since -- first, after measuring the accumulated snow in the driveway, and, more recently, while bouncing around the car trunk.

Today we obtained a safe trunk travel system, decreasing the odds of future breakage. But inspired by this Tennessee revelation, I decided to take a peek inside the Gnome of Victory and Celebration prior to repairs as the hot glue gun was warming up.

I expected nothing, of course. No startling images popped out in the previous separations. But we were so focused on despair and repair at the time that we never really took a close look. We also know that the battle-scarred Gnome of Victory of Celebration is a very special lawn ornament.

Is there hidden meaning to the two protrusions?
The first inspected part revealed what appear to be two distinctive protrusions of sorts, perhaps representing the Mets’ two world championships. Or, they could represent the Mets’ two World Series defeats. We decided not to look too closely for meaning and hope for better in the other part.

At first, there didn't appear to be anything. But slowly it emerged. A nose, a heroic if not troubled brow, cheeks – the unmistakable likeness of David Wright!

Seriously, take a closer look:

The unmistakable likeness of David Wright.

There he is, the Mets’ captain, right inside the Gnome of Victory and Celebration. Perhaps he serves as the gnome’s inner-voice, a conscience guiding him to embrace all the joys of Mets fandom and not dwelling on the sad times that seem to come and go.

We seem to be in one of those extended challenging times right now. Matt Harvey is on the shelf – and apparently in denial about his needed recovery time. We don’t seem to be scoring any runs. The bullpen seems allergic to saves.

But David Wright knows that good times are not far away. 

Our young pitchers seem to be as good as advertised. Curtis Granderson, shaking off the Yankee taint, is starting to mash the ball. Wilmer Flores has not injured any fans sitting behind first base with errant throws. And we have three players on the roster with little d’s to start their last names – Travis d’Arnaud, Jacob deGrom and Matt den Dekker, which has to be good for something.

David Wright could have fled as a free agent last year, but he chose to stay a Met. He knows that soon there will be victory and triumph.

And, like the Gnome of Victory and Celebration, we need to listen to our inner David Wright, calling for patience, not panic.

The glee of my newfound serenity was interrupted by the aroma of melting glue, and we quickly reassembled the Gnome of Victory. Like all Mets fans, he’s been roughed and has looked better.

Maybe, like the Gnome of Victory and Celebration, there's a little David Wright in all of us.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: Disgraced Fifi and talented Twiggy

Poor Fifi. This is not a happy dog.
Today’s topic is disgraced animals.

Exhibit 1 is Fifi, the shamed dog in this week’s bad postcard.

The back reads: “Fifi, MARINELAND OF FLORIDA’S canine mascot, enjoys a ride around a porpoise-powered surfboard. Marine is located 18 miles south of St. Augustine on scenic A1A.”

Well, we learned that a porpoise is involved. That means there are two disgraced animals here.

It’s bad enough that Fifi is thrown on a board that isn’t really a surfboard and dragged around a pool for the amusement of Floridians and tourists by a sea-mammal that had the good sense to stay out of the frame.

No, the problem here is the tutu. Dog’s don’t wear them. Actually, only a rather limited population of humans wears them because it’s just a tough look to pull off. Fifi can’t do it. She’s probably hoping the matching accessory will draw attention from the tutu, but it’s just not working.

About the best thing we can do here is look away and hope a compassionate porpoise tows Fifi into the orca tank where she can be put out of here misery is one bite, maybe two.

Now, let’s talk about an animal with a similar skill who circles the pool with dignity intact. I’m talking about Twiggy, thewater-skiing squirrel.

I've seen Twiggy. He appeared at the Grand Rapids Boat Show years ago. I spoke to his trainers, who are nice people.
Chuck and Lou Ann Best – also from Florida – found an orphaned squirrel after a hurricane and raised him as a family pet. The friendly squirrel used to ride around on their shoulders, even in the pool.

According to Twiggly lore, Chuck constructed a little water ski platform and hooked it up to a remote controlled boat, and Twiggy soon learned how to hitch a ride.
A video of these squirrelly adventures made it to a television show, and next thing we know Twiggy and several squirrels with similar skills are bringing smiles to boat show attendees across the country.  
I got to meet Mrs. Best and see Twiggy in action. It was very cool.

You ask about the difference between disgraced Fifi and talented Twiggy? Twiggy doesn't wear a tutu. He wears a cool little life vest.
Smart animals know that safety comes before style.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: Albion, Sigma Chi and fraternity shenanigans

Albion shows its billboard, not its town.
Albion, Michigan might be a lovely place. I've not had the pleasure of visiting yet.

But it’s generally a bad sign when the postcard telling the world about your town is a photo of the billboard telling the world about your town, rather than actual scenes from the town.

The back reads: “Albion was first settled about 1825. It is located in the center of the State at the heart of Southern Michigan’s industrial belt. Albion is a residential, educational, retail, agricultural and industrial community. It is the home of Albion College which is recognized as one of the outstanding small, four-year, Christian liberal arts colleges in the nation.”

Albion is between Jackson and Battle Creek along the I-94 corridor. The billboard itself is perplexing. We see “Oil fields, industry, home of Albion College.” But wafting in the clouds is “’The Old Rugged Cross’ and ‘Sweetheart of Sigma Chi’ composed here.’”

OK, now I’m hooked. This might get me in trouble, but churches and fraternities don’t always go hand in hand and this town inspired songs about both.

Let’s investigate.

The often-accurate Wikipedia tells us that technically, only the first verse of “The Old Rugged Cross” was written in Albion. Add an asterisk to the billboard, please, or add “Part of…” before the song title.

Wikipedia tells us that Methodist evangelist George Bennard wrote the first verse of "The Old Rugged Cross" in Albion in the fall of 1912 “as a response to ridicule which he received at a revival meeting.”

So the scoreboard shows Bennard 1, Hecklers 0, since the completed song went on to be a standard that is still sung by choirs today. He wins!

“Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” is more complicated.

Again, Wikipedia tells us that the tune is one of the most beloved and popular college fraternity songs. Written in 1911 by students Byron D. Stokes and F. Dudleigh Vernor, the tune became a favorite of ballroom orchestras and was used in two movie musicals.

Hold on, because here’s where things get hinky.

When asked about the song's inspiration, Stokes replied, ‘The “Sweetheart” is the symbol for the spiritual ingredient in brotherhood. It was the Sigma Chi Fraternity itself that inspired the song. I wrote the words not long after my initiation, and the magic of our Ritual with its poetic overtones and undertones was, I suppose, the source of my inspiration’.”

So, if I’m reading this correctly, the sweetheart is not a girl, but a bunch of guys and he was inspired the magic of their rituals.

I went to the University of Missouri in the 1980s, not Albion in the 1910s. But the frat rituals I saw seemed to involve beer, paddles, beer, public humiliation, beer and wearing sweatpants with Greek letters sewn across the butt. 

Yes, I proudly lived in the dorms where our rituals involved playing “Purple Rain” and finding any excuse to visit the girls’ floors above us. I did introduce many Midwesterners to Twisted Sister. There may have been public humiliation associated with all of that, too, but we didn't sing about it.

I know you’re curious, so here are the lyrics:

When the world goes wrong, as it's bound to do
And you've broken Dan Cupid's bow
And you long for the girl you used to love
the maid of the long ago

Wait. Dan Cupid? Who the heck is that? Cupid has a first name? Does his business card say “Daniel Cupid, archer/matchmaker?” But I digress.

Why light your pipe, bid sorrow avaunt,
Blow the smoke from your alter of dreams
And wreathe the face of your dream-girl there
The love that is just what it seems.

Not that I ever indulged in this but, the pipe-smoking in college frats of the 1980's was probably different, though dreams were no doubt altered.

The girl of my dreams is the sweetest girl
Of all the girls I know
Each sweet co-ed, like a rainbow trail
Fades in the after glow

“Each sweet co-ed like a rainbow trail?” I went to a frat party once. There was a lot of drinking. I didn't see any rainbow trails, but I did see Technicolor yawns.

The blue of her eyes and the gold of her hair
Are a blend of the western sky

Albion is west of Detroit, but I'm not sure I'd ever refer to it as being in the west.

And the moonlight beams
On the girl of my dreams
She's the Sweetheart of Sigma Chi.

The girl of my dreams is the sweetest girl
Of all the girls I know
Our sweet romance
Like a timeless dance
Dwells in my heart and soul

The love in her eyes and the warmth of her smile
Endure as the years go by
And the moon still beams
On the girl of my dreams
Like a bright shining star in the sky
My sweetheart of Sigma Chi.

Well, um, OK. Keep in mind, this is all about rituals and brotherhood. I still like Purple Rain better.