I’m essentially caught up on my grading until I get my last big batch of papers on Monday, so time for a little this-and-that, don’t you think?
Mrs. M and I continue to hold down the fort here in Mondoville, making occasional trips to the store, but that’s about it. Every couple of days, I make an excursion to my office, including a recent one for on online meeting (My internet connection is better there than it is here at home, at least when it comes to this sort of online meeting software.)
One odd thing about the academic building — about ten days ago, the vending machine company came by and emptied the Coke machines. (By the way, while I’m from the region that uses “Coke” as a generic for soft drinks, I’m being brand-accurate in this case. Coke has pouring rights here at the college.) I guess they figured they could sell their stuff more swiftly elsewhere, in buildings that are more… open. So now I’m packing beverages into the building.
South Carolina is currently semi-open — frankly more open than I might like it to be. Still, the public schools are working remotely for the rest of the year, and the college will be doing the same at least through the first summer term. We also see efforts to regulate occupancy at the supermarkets and other such stores.
There have been some 21 reported cases here in the county, with one fatality thus far. Still, things seem quiet around here.
To pass my time (and perhaps some of yours as well), I’ve continued with my Social Distancing Storytime series on YouTube. You can find last week’s episodes here and here, and I plan to record another couple tomorrow for release later in the week. Views and comments are, of course, welcome.
I haven’t only been reading my own work, though. Earlier in the week, between bouts of grading, I read By His Own Hand, the third of Neal Griffin’s series of police procedurals set in Newberg, WI. The book came out just about two years back, and it was interesting enough to make me want to read its two predecessors.
The central protagonist, Detective Tia Suarez, is interesting enough, and she has a solid supporting cast, both supporting her and obstructing her. Newberg seems to be an exurb of Milwaukee (as is the real-life city of Newburg), and there’s room for big city crime to make its way to town. I managed to stay about half a page ahead of the plot, but I don’t read these for the puzzles in any case. Suffice it to say that what at first appears to be a suicide proves to be far more complicated, and involves stepping on toes both political and ecclesiastical.
As I said, I’m interested enough to read the rest of the series. Unfortunately, I notice at Amazon that the number of reviews steadily declines from book 1 through book 2 and then book 3. I don’t know if that necessarily signifies that the series will die out, but as I said, it’s been a couple of years, and I don’t know what the threshold would be that gives a three-book series a shot at book 4. If so, it’s a shame — but I guess I’ll just have to keep looking for works from Mr. Griffin now.
The world of baseball lost a legend last weekend, with the death of Steve “Dalko” Dalkowski at the age of 80.
Although he never made it out of the low minors, he was one of the game’s great puzzles. It has been suggested that Dalkowski may have been the hardest thrower in the history of the game — but he never managed to control the heater. During his years in the Orioles organization in the late 50s and early 60s, he put up mind-boggling numbers. From St. Wiki:
During a typical season in 1960, while pitching in the California League, Dalkowski struck out 262 batters and walked 262 in 170 innings. Dalkowski for 1960 thus figures at both 13.81 K/9IP and 13.81 BB/9IP (see lifetime statistics below). In comparison, Randy Johnson currently holds the major league record for strikeouts per nine innings in a season with 13.41. In separate games, Dalkowski struck out 21 batters, and walked 21 batters.
[…] Pitching for the Kingsport (Tennessee) Orioles on August 31, 1957 in Bluefield, West Virginia, Dalkowski struck out 24 Bluefield hitters in a single minor league game, yet issued 18 walks, and threw six wild pitches. Dalkowski pitched a total of 62 innings in 1957, struck out 121 (averaging 18 strikeouts per game), but won only once because he walked 129 and threw 39 wild pitches. Moving to the Northern League in 1958–59, he threw a one-hitter but lost 9–8 on the strength of 17 walks. In 1957–58, Dalkowski either struck out or walked almost three out of every four batters he faced.
He received a certain level of pop culture immortality as the inspiration for Tim Robbins’s character, Nuke LaLoosh, in the movie Bull Durham. Unfortunately, Dalkowski never got a Hollywood ending — he blew his arm out in spring training in 1963 (reports vary — some say he was warming up; others, that he was pitching to Phil Linz, and still others say he was fielding a bunt from Jim Bouton) and after his baseball career ended, drank himself into an extensive police record and dementia.
But he still may be one of the most famous minor leaguers in the history of the game. May he rest in peace.
(A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to my student Josh Bookbinder.)
I need to write a final exam tomorrow, so I think I’ll wrap things up for the evening. Blue Oyster Cult has been one of my favorite bands for many years, and although they aren’t the draw they once were, they remain road dogs of the first water; it’s no coincidence that their T-shirts have included the phrase “On Tour Forever” for years.
But of course, the current situation has knocked the concert business in the head for the foreseeable future. Like the rest of us, the Oyster Boys are doing the social distancing bit. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t playing. The Mad Dog reminded me that the other day, Buck Dharma, Eric Bloom, and the rest of the Cultists put together a nifty “lockdown” version of one of their standards. So here are Long Island’s finest, with everyone’s favorite paean to a 255-foot-tall lizard.
Two major cool points:
- I love how they sneak in the riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker” at 2:53.
- The video is credited to “Bivalve Omnimedia.” Well played, guys.
See you soon!