Archive for April, 2009

Bocce Ball And Friends

bocce-hill-shoot(Tricky shot, pallina on the side of a hill.)

In a Minneapolis park, on Thursdays, a group of friends start to gather. This may not seem unusual or special except for the fact that they have been gathering here in the same spot for more than twenty years. Every Thursday they come together to play bocce ball. Each week anywhere from 6 to 16 people will show up, this last Thursday April 23 rd, 13 people (10 at the start of play) were there including myself.

They first started playing bocce ball sometime around 1975, when a friend with Italian heritage introduced them to the game. At the time several of the players were living in the same house (four-plex) or next door (a tri-plex) to each other and they started playing in their backyard or where ever they could. It wasn’t until sometime around 1988 that they started meeting on Thursdays in the park to play. None of the players can tell me why Thursdays were chosen.

Before the game starts teams have to be decided. This is done by first throwing out the pallina then all the players grab a ball and line up. The call for teams will be made, in this case with 10 players the call was the 3 closest and the 2 farthest would be on the same team and have control of the pallina first. The other team gets to chose the color of balls they want. Then everyone throws their ball at the same time. Some how they always seem to keep track of their own ball. If you come late a coin is tossed to decide your team, heads is red.

They don’t play on a court, they play the park, uphills, downhills, under benches, and over the wood chips around the trees. They play anywhere with the rule that you have to respect the flowers and other people in the park. The rules they play by are the standard rules with a couple slight modifications.

They have a big tournament around the summer solstice known as the Tournament of Roses. Games are two on two with double elimination. Typically more than twenty people will show up for the “big event”. To qualify for the Tournament of Roses you have to play in at least one Thursday game. Trophies are awarded.

Many of these friendships go back 30 years or more. Two of the men that play, Robert and Tim, have been friends since they were in the first grade, 50 years ago. Some of the original players have introduced their spouses and their kids to the game. Dogs are welcome as well.

Tom, a man that the players have gotten to know because he has been walking his dog(s) through the park for abut 15 yrs, knows “spring has sprung” when he sees the bocce players. This year spring sprung on April 9th, when the season opened. The season will last as long as the weather holds out, sometime in October.

Several times throughout the season the conversation of bocce ball as an Olympic sport will come up, “everyone knows it’s more exciting than curling!”

Every game ends with handshakes and “good game” all around. Then it’s back to the lawn chairs for a break before another round kicks off. Records of wins and loses are not kept (officially). It’s just friends enjoying each others company and enjoying a truly friendly, yet competitive, game of bocce ball.

Even though they have played holding umbrellas in the rain and have had some games last into the darkness of night, using flashlights and even the light from cell phones to see the balls, they deny being “serious” or “dedicated” bocce ball players and after playing with them I agree. What they are is serious and dedicated friends.


Milestone Birthdays

The 7 milestones of your life (if you make it that far).

  1. 10-You’ve finally hit double digits.

  2. 13-You’re a teenager yippee!

  3. 16-Hot damn you can drive.

  4. 18-Finally you are an adult (except for the drinking part).

  5. 21-You can now drink alcohol legally.

  6. 36-Yahoo! You can now legally sleep with someone half your age.

  7. 100-Triple digits.

Hope everyone will enjoy all 7 milestones, and maybe a few others.


According to my dictionary Procrastinate means to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. Or to postpone or delay needlessly.

Well I’m not saying I’m a procrastinator but I have a writing assignment for my Citizen Journalism class that is due on Tuesday and as I’m sitting here at the computer to work on it. I found myself surfing the Internet and then playing solitaire (spider) instead of working. Then again I’m one of those guys that wakes up in the morning, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day out, I’ll stretch and think I should get up and enjoy the day, then I think I’ll do that later and  I go back to sleep.

Now I’m writing this and not that. I’m not too worried I usually get things done on time, besides procrastination isn’t to bad as long as you waste your time in an enjoyable manner.

Well I’ve wasted enough time, guess I’ll get busy now….maybe!

What Is The What by Dave Eggers

what-is-the-what1I think this story is one that needs to be read. It’s an emotional roller coaster, that had me laughing and choked up many times over (often on the same page). This story does a wonderful job of giving you not only a personal point of view of what happened in Sudan but it also gives you a look at what was going on to cause it. I would classify this story as a horror story. No monster every imagined (including Satan) is more horrifying or evil than what man is capable of doing to man. Yet, nothing is more heartwarming than the good in man, his instinct to survive and the resiliency of the soul.

By the end of the story you may even have an idea of what the what is.

5 out of 5 Stars

Read March 2008

Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

eaters-of-the-dead Crichton did an excellent job with his twist on Beowulf. I liked the way  he showed the differences in cultures, along with superstitions and the reasons behind some of them. Plus there was plenty of action. All resulting in a mutual respect/brotherhood (even of each others differences). A very entertaining read. The movie wasn’t bad either (the 13th warrior)

Got 5 stars and is on my favorites shelf.

Read September 2006

Werewolves in Their Youth: Stories by Michael Chabon

werewolves-in-youthThis book is a set of short stories, and none of them have werewolves in them. But all of the stories have a point where the main Character reaches a place in their lives where they have a sort of “Changing” or a realization of who (or what) they are really. I really liked a couple of the stories, but there were a few that I didn’t care for, but over all I found it was worth the read and not a total waste of time.

Read May 2005  Rated 3 out of 5 stars

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Citizen Journalism


Last night (April 14th) I had my first citizen journalism class. I had signed up for it through the Community Adult Education Program on a whim. I was thinking the class would be interesting and informative. Thought it might even give me a few ideas for my blog, help me with structuring my article and giving me some basic direction. Other than that I didn’t really give any thought into what the class would actually be like (silly me). To my surprise the class turned out to be more fun and professional than I expected. I’m to turn in a 600-800 word article for the class to workshop so I can get instructor and student feedback. Then I need to turn in a second draft that could be published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Now I’m a little more excited about the class, not just because my article has a chance at being published but because of the feedback I’m going to get. Now all I have to do is come up with something to write about, do some interviews, name my sources and put it all together in a traditional “four box” structure…I’m in shock.  Wish me luck.