Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Lights-Out Lidge On The Open Prairie

"Who am I? Why am I here?"
- James Stockdale

Or, more specifically, "Where the hell have I been?" Glad you asked.

I just returned from two weeks of work in Los Angeles. Because I'm self-employed and have to shell out my own overhead (what the rest of the world calls "travel expenses"), I load my days up with so much work that there's very little time for more mundane, but much more fun, tasks.

Like blogging. Or breathing.

I do take quick time-outs to enjoy the simple things, though. Sunday night was my last evening in L.A. I stood on the balcony of my hotel and watched the beams of the full moon, rising in the east, wash the city with its gentle light, leaving a delicate glow in its wake.

Until, that is, I realized that my balcony didn't face east -- it faced west, towards Santa Monica. Then I noticed the complete cloud cover and absence of anything resembling a moon, and I realized that the "delicate glow" was emanating from the radioactive April Winchell. After considering the possibility that April was, indeed, mooning me, I went back inside.

* * *

Because I spend two weeks at a time in L.A. when I go, and I like to have my own car and my own stuff (without worrying about airline baggage limits), I have driven from Houston to La-la Land many, many times. I swore that this would be my final driving trip (it's 23 hours, and even with an overnight stop and plenty of audiobooks to keep me company, it's a very tedious drive).

When you're driving through the Arizona desert, east of Tucson and west of civilization, it's not easy to pick up radio stations. Unfortunately for me -- a die-hard Houston Astros fan for nearly 30 years -- Game 5 of the National League Championship Series was being played. When I was driving through Phoenix and Tucson, I could pick up the radio broadcast of the game loud and clear. But now, here I was, somewhere far away from the middle of nowhere, and Astros closer Brad Lidge takes a 4-2 lead into the top of the ninth inning of the elimination game.

If Lidge gets three outs, the Astros go to their first-ever World Series. Thirty years of personal suffering would be rewarded with glee. If I couldn't be at the stadium in person, I would at least get to share vicariously in the victory over the radio.

If, that is, I could pick up a freakin' signal. But all I could hear was static.

Willcox, Arizona (Interstate 10, mile marker 340) apparently doesn't have a radio station. Or anything else. I had pulled off the highway to find a bar with a TV set, which would undoubtedly have been tuned to the game. It was 8:30 at night.

Willcox was deader than Tom Sizemore's career. Nothing but a couple of convenience stores and roadside restaurants was open. No bars, no saloons, no pubs, and NO TVs. Dammit!

Meanwhile, Lidge had gotten two quick outs. The Astros were one crummy out away from the Series. And while I was scrambling around the deserted town, seriously considering renting a cheap motel room just so I could watch the end of the game, "Lights-Out" Lidge got lit up.

Not until I finally got to El Paso some three hours later did I finally hear the result: two strikes on David Eckstein (one strike away!), and he singled. Then Jim Edmunds walked. Then Albert Pujols took a strike, and belted a slider that would have left the stadium if the roof had been open.

Win or lose tonight, I'll be blogging about the Astros tomorrow. Here's hoping I'm nursing a champagne hangover while I'm doing it.

posted by Gary @ 2:22 PM


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Location: Houston, Texas

Why the heck wouldn't you want to read the toxic byproducts of my mental processes? It's not like you're too busy to waste a minute or two here, you know. You ARE just killing time by mindlessly surfing the web. Pop open a brewski and stay a while.

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