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dull torpor pulling downward

For many Red Sox fans, the baseball season ends with the last out at Fenway and anything is better than discussing the postseason fortunes and misfortunes of other baseball clubs …

When exactly did all the weathah people stop saying, you know, "it's going to rain" to saying "we are expecting a significant rain event"?


Yeah, can't you just hear old timahs saying, "Pray for Spahn and Sain and a two day rain event"?


I mean is all this "rain event" and "snow event" crap just a lame attempt to make the weathah forecast seem more, I dunno, scientific rathah than the wild ass guesses they really are?


Yeah, and why is percipitation singled out for the "event" treatment? Why don't we evah hear of a "sunshine event"?


Really! By a failing to "eventize" the temperate weathah, aren't they suggesting that there is some default idyllic state, some sunshiny Edenic stasis and rathah than the dynamic and constantly fluxing atmospheric phenomena that is the quintessence of what we call "weathah"?


Damn you Jim Cantore! See the mess you've stahted?


Well, if this conversation is any guide, I'm forecasting an inauspicious staht to the offseason.


It's like being on a trawhlah in the North Sea.


It's days like these that I most regret failing to pursue my childhood dream of becoming the greatest scrimshaw artist in the Bay State.


A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy!


All noble things are touched with that.


Author's Notes

"A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that." — from Herman Melville's Moby Dick (Chapter 16).

And today's title is a line from the 10,000 Maniacs song, "Like the Weather."


You know, I read Moby Dick again over the summer just for fun, (No seriously, it's one of my favorites), and after the sweep, the first thing that came to mind was the end when Ahab goes down:

"...voicelessly as Turkish mutes bowstring their victim, he was shot out of the boat, ere the crew knew he was gone."

White Sox... White Whale... it all kinda makes sense in a way.

It's gonna be long off-season, but I keep imagining a healthy and determined Schilling backed up by all those flame-throwing young guys in '06 and it is good.

I came for the baseball and found poetry. Why I should have found anything different. I don't know. Brilliant writing thanks. I anticipate your blog more than the next episode of Lost!! Thanks for all the hard work!!

I anticipate your blog more than the next episode of Lost!!

Wow! That's high praise!

Lost has hooked me so hard this season that it has messed up the rest of my TV viewing as no other show gets me to quite that level.

I don't know about Curt. He'll be 39 next season, and while that's not done and done, it's rare to see someone come all the way back from the kind of injury he's had at that age. I expect him to be an effective pitcher, but whether he'll get back to dominant has to be a big question in Theo's head.

As long as we're harping on weather men - err, meterologists, I have always found it peculiar when they say something like 'Today's weather is brought to you by Microsoft.' Really, Microsoft is responsible for this 'rain event.' Maybe we should reboot and we'll get sun?

HB, I just read the WSJ article on you. Love it.
This longtime reader is kicking himself for not 'getting' the pseudonymn. Hart Brachen, indeed.

Funny you should mention Spahn. My great uncle recently passed away. He was a baseball lover, but most specifically a Cleveland Indians lover (grew up in Cleveland..if he hadn't died last winter, this fall would have killed him). But while helping to clean out his house, my cousin told me to take whatever I wanted. My uncle had some nice things but I was only interested in a few things that I found.

The entire 1948 season scorecard book for the Indians (everyone's in it from their games against Boston...Doerr, Dom, Teddy Ballgame, and Johnny Pesky). I'd really like to get the book up to see Pesky some time, I'm just not even sure how to go about doing it.

World Series tickets from 1948 and 1954.

And a baseball signed by Warren Spahn. Most likely signed at one of the World Series games in 1948 (Boston Braves vs. Cleveland Indians).

The weather reminds me of a great shirt I got back in 1994. It was Eddie Bauer and it came free with a parka I had just bought. On the back across the shoulder blades was the first verse of "The Rain" by Robert Creeley:

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

the never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent -
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be, for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

This longtime reader is kicking himself for not 'getting' the
pseudonymn. Hart Brachen, indeed.

Well, don't feel badly, as I don't think you're alone. And I actually did pick a name that very well could be a real name, since Brachen is a fairly popular surname and there are Harts all around too.

Originally I was going to use "Walter Smithee" like they do in the movies, but then when I thought of the play on "Heartbroken" I knew it was perfect.

Of course, it makes far less since now than it did in April 2004 when the site started.

Be wet
with a decent happiness.


Why don't we evah hear of a "sunshine event"?

If you lived in the Northwest, you would. Since moving out here, I've been introduced to a whole new weather lexicon. The key term they use is "sunbreak:" ie, the sun pokes through the clouds so rarely around here that it actually merits a mention on the newscast ("We should be having some lovely sunbreaks tomorrow around 2pm.")

By the way, did anyone notice that Nomar pulled two women out of the Harbor last week?

Thought I'd sve this for today, as I figured it might've been lost in the madness that was yesterdays postings- Is there a link to the WSJ article? The edition that I found out here on the left coast had no such feature.

If it makes the embedded East Coastahs feel better, SoCal resembles pea soup today and temps are hovering in the 60's...


Thanks for the info on the "sunbreak" thing. That's interesting.

Hey, I got permission to link to the WSJ article from yesterday. (Think the link is only valid for a week, though.)

WSJ.com - 'The Soxaholix': It's Not Ovah, Though It's Ovah

I really, really want to believe the story about Nomar pulling the women from the water last Friday, according to his uncle and witnesses. But my mind drifts back to the incident where A-Fraud "saved" the p.r. exec's son on Newberry Street this past summer, and I wonder ...
What did you hear, my blue-eyed son,
and what did you hear, my darlin' young one,
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.
I heard an uncle say a shortstop saved two drownin' girls.
I heard a voice in my head say we need a second baseman.
and if he could just stay healthy, his swing is still decent.
I heard ten thousand whisperin', but was Theo listenin'
and it's a hard, and it's a hard and it's a hard, and it's a hard. It's a hard rain's gonna fall.

ON the other hand, wasn't Nomar the name of the Submariner in Marvel Comics? Oh wait, that was Namor. But what's a typo between friends...

Speaking of weathermen, hb, did you notice your Yakuza friend has moved on?


"He gets to Fenway Park only once or twice a season and doesn't follow every inning of every game. "I feel guilty because I'm not the fan people think I am," he says"

What RSN needs is fewer bandwagon jumpers and more people like you, hb. Regardless of your tenacity in following every microsecond of the season, you provide infinitely more to the greater good than the likes of Ben Asslick and Jimmy Fallon ever could. I fear what would happen to the quality of the strip if you were a live-and-die-with-the-team fan (BDD anyone?)Thanks for everything, and keep up the good work.

Amen to that, NV. The thing I love about Soxahlix is that it pays homage to the Sox while still keeping baseball in some sort of perspective, much like the rest of us must do in ordinary life. It's hard for me to deal with the life-and-death and take-no-prisoners attitude of some people who post on other sites. I love the baseball talk here precisely because of the irreverent, witty repartee and the poetry, music and literature allusions. HB, you are the David Frost or Jack Parr of Red Sox Nation.

NV in SD,

Thanks so much for saying that. Seriously, means a lot to hear it.

Forgive the long post, but there's wealth of potential baseball allegory in one of JT's rain songs...I'll be pawsoxpop can rewrite the heck out of this one!

You can play the game and you can act out the part,
even though you know it wasn't written for you.
Tell me, how can you stand there with your broken heart ashamed of playing the fool?
One thing can lead to another; it doesn't take any sacrifice.
Oh, father and mother, sister and brother, if it feels nice, don't think twice,
just shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.
Things are gonna work out fine if you only will do as I say, just
shower the people you love with love, show them the way you feel.
Things are gonna be much better if you only will.

You can run but you cannot hide, this is widely known.
Tell me, what you plan to do with your foolish pride when you're all by yourself, alone.
Once you tell somebody the way that you feel, you can feel it beginning to ease.
I think it's true what they say about the squeaky wheel always getting the grease.
Better to shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.
Things are gonna be just fine if you only will what I’d like to do to you.
Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.
Things are gonna be much better if you only will.

Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel.
You'll feel better right away.
Don't take much to do, sell you pride.
They say in every life, they say the rain must fall, just like pouring rain, make it rain.
Make it rain, love, love, love is sunshine, oh yes,
Make it rain, love, love, love is sunshine. Everybody, everybody.

I was thinking the Nomah story was maybe another way to upstage A-Rod.

Congrats on the great article h.b. Your pseudonym never occurred to me.

What do people think about all the talk of Johnny or Manny moving to New York? I don't like the idea.. I mean, Manny on the Mets would be cool, but I can't imagine those guys in pinstripes. Seems like they'd both like a trade though.

Talk of moving Matsui or Sheffield in a trade too. I like both of those guys on the Yanks.

h.b., on the psuedonym thing - I think the DGA credit is "Alan Smithee", for when a director feels his film was wrenched from his control. But taking that one would've gave the game away. I didn't even pick up on the psuedonym til you mentioned it.

I've always loved this site precisely because the characters love the Sox, but aren't codependent, relying on the success of the Olde Towne Team for self-validation. I know some people like that and its scary. And the literary references make me feel smarter than I am. :)

I used to play "Dancing For Rain" by Rise Against a lot before the Red Sox won the Series last year. Good "drought" music and nice lyrics for today's rain theme.

we're losing daylight but i can't work any faster.
under the veil of dusk we go on
dont close your eyes.
what if it all disapears in the shadows that reach for the stars?

if i held my ground would you ask me to change
this drought bleeds on now we're dancing for rain
we drink the air but its still not the same
these worlds collide but the distance remains
we point the finger, never accept the blame and i know.. i know
Lets go!

the waters come but the fire still rages on here
the men all shrugged their shoulders and left
we sleep so sound in rooms just up the stairs
will you save us like you saved them?

if i held my ground would you ask me to change
this drought bleeds on now we're dancing for rain
we drink the air but its still not the same
these worlds colide but the distance remains
we point the finger, never accept the blame and i know.. i know

you've bled me dry but i'm still breathing
i swear i'm sucking dry the sky
and you wont ever find us kneeling
or swallowing your lies

if i held my ground would you ask me to change
this drought bleeds on now we're dancing for rain
we drink the air but its still not the same

these worlds colide but the distance remains
we point the finger, never accept the blame, and i know.. i know

this drought bleeds on... this drought bleeds on

Damon's contract is up, so he doesn't have to wait for a trade, and can sign anywhere he wants. He thinks that, at his age, he's going to get a huge payday and a long-term contract. The current Sox regime has demonstrated pretty clearly that they aren't going to give out those type of deals. (Varitek was an exception because elite catchers are few and far between.)

There are only two teams with both the kind of cash Damon wants and the willingness to spend it on aging players, and one of them has a guy named Beltran already patrolling center. That leaves the Yankees. If that extra year on his deal is worth it to Damon to endure the undying hatred of a fanbase that has loved him up until now, then he should take Steinbrenner's money. But perhaps he might want to talk to Wells before he does so, for some perspective on how players who switch sides in this rivalry are treated by their former fans.

As for Manny, he's Not. Going. Anywhere. His contract is too big, and they'd never be able to get equal value in return. Is everyone prepared to see Papi walk 200 times next year? Because that's what would happen if Manny wasn't batting after him.

Don't know how many of you are part of the "Cult of Mac" but ohmigod the news coming out from Apple today has me giddy.

- Front Row - comes with new iMacs. Lets you enjoy video/music/pictures from sofa. Everything still displayed on iMac screen. iPod-like remote. 6 button remote.
- Photobooth - appears to be slide show application.
- Music Videos. 2000 available to buy. $1.99 each.
- Can "gift" music to other people. Peer reviews and recommendation service.
- Videos have Digital Rights Management built in. Can play on up to 5 computers.
- You will be able to buy TV shows from iTunes Music Store. $1.99 per episode. ABC on board (Desperate Housewives, Lost)

Great song addition, Bob.

And Aaron, very well said. I was going to attempt to address the Manny/Johnny issue and the fates prevented me from doing so, knowing what a perfect response you were working on!

Incidentally, here's Buckner commenting on A-Rod.. a little bit more class than I've been hearing from some people (both Yanks and Sox fans):

"I wouldn't criticize Alex Rodriguez as much as he's going to get criticized..."


To echo hb's comments, if:
a) you are a non-code writer, and
b) you can somehow swindle your office IT people into getting you an ibook or powerbook, it's highly recommended. I bless the day I took the advice to do this. You can find all the relevant Windows based programs for the Mac (complete backwards/forwards compatibility) and you can even get virtual PC for the mac, a program that allows you to run the windows environment if need be.

It takes my laptop 10 seconds to boot up/shut down, even with God knows what I have installed.
In 18 months, this laptop has frozen/crashed: 0 times

aaron: Well reasoned analysis, but I think the yanks will go for a lower tier outfield option than Damon in the offseason. Damon's arm is weaker than Bernie's. Jim Thome could be the major target this season.

I just downloaded episode 3 of Lost from iTunes and gathered about 4 of my colleagues around desk to watch a few minutes of it.

Quality is better than I expected!

This is going to be perfect for going back in to rewatch particular scenes looking for clues.

I still think A-Rod will get the MVP, because without his bat his team does not make the playoffs. Of course you can say the same for Papi, and he hit much better during the playoffs, but the voting is held before the playoffs, and A-Rod is still a "five-tool" media darling. But from the fan's point of view, both in Boston and New York, the $25 million/year deal is an albatross around his neck that makes it harder to forgive double-play balls, strikeouts and errors. Just like Manny'sMoney makes him a target to many Sox fans whenever he loses focus in the outfield or on the basepaths. But Billy Mahty, while I agree with Buckner that A-Rod does not deserve all the blame for the playoff loss, I also am very glad that the Sox did not trade Manny for him. I would just much rather have Manny on my team. Despite the sabermetric arguements in favor of Mr. Rod, he still has to prove that he can come through in the clutch in October -- and with that contracat it means regular season MVP is just not good enough for most fans.

HB I wanted to thank you for expanding my vocabulary. I do quite a bit of proofreading at work and have dictionary.com as one of my favs. At least twice a week I use it while reading your strip (that or googling a name or phrase). Keeps me on my toes.
Since we're giveing weather reports-78 degrees & blue sky in NorCal right now.

A strip like that and barely any commenting on the place of Moby Dick as the greatest novel ever written in the English language? WTF, man? I threatened violence on a philosophy professor during a MA class because he dared to say something was, "like Moby Dick; nobody really enjoys it, they just pretend to so people will think they're smart." Holy Jayzus, I was ready to clap that fool.

As far as Manny goes: there's a man name of Konerko with that kind of power who is a free agent really soon. I would love to see the Helmeted One play first every day, but you could definitely replace a bunch of Manny's production with Konerko.

Also, Lost is the shizznit. My wife burnt DVDs of the first season and sent them to me whilst I was gone and I got everyone hooked. A barely trailing second? Battlestar Galactica.

Also, not to sound too much like a poof, but if you like Lost and/or any of the other good non-reality shows, you have to read Watch with Kristin. There's all kinds of stuff in there, and the message boards let you catch details/connections/weirdness you miss when watch Lost the first time.

Belated congrats on the WSJ piece. So deserved.

Congrats on the Wall Street Journal, h.b.!

da kine...I, um...I see the professor's point. I mean, not that I believe no one likes it and he shouldn't generalize like that, but personally, I find Moby Dick very, very dull (though I've only read the first couple of chapters). I'll take a little Hawthorne or some Burgess if I want (what I would consider) high-falutin' literature (in English...mostly in English in Burgess's case, anyway).

But, of course, I adore Harry Potter, so I'm obviously an intellectual lightweight...oh...wait...

Congrats on the WSJ piece. Frame that baby and put it up where the Red Sox stuff should be in your office :)

Hey, h.b., I just read the WSJ piece. I have to confess that I'm not up to speed on the literary allusions and quotes in your strip. I went to the small private school down the street from Harvard; you only have to take two courses in four years where the books have more words than equations in them to graduate from there. But I love the strip. I'm one of 500, eh? Have you seen an uptick in hits since the WSJ piece came out?

Meanwhile, back here in Chicago, the penultimate play of last night's game has been analyzed over and over again. It's amazing how many people DIDN'T know that you can advance on a third strike in the dirt, or that the umpire SHOULD signal a strike and an out, or that it goes in the books as a strikeout. When I saw the very first replay, I turned to my wife (who does know; my daughter caught fast-pitch softball in club travelling teams, high school and college) and said, "They're going to rule the catcher trapped the ball." And that's what happened. It wasn't a dropped third strike (which is what the commentators called it), it was a trap. And that's what the umpire said after the game (accompanied by the crew chief and the league supervisor of umpires; think they coached him a bit?).

I loved the league supervisor. In the press conference after the game, some dimwit made a convoluted comment about how you're never supposed to hear the umpires' names and what it means if you do, and the supervisor said "Pardon me?" with a quizzical expression, and then "Next question!" with a disgusted one. I should hope the guy in charge of the MLB umpires wouldn't suffer fools gladly.

The play could only have happened like that on the third out. On the first or second one, the catcher either holds onto the ball or throws it to the pitcher, who is still on the mound. It was interesting to listen to them talk to both the catcher and the plate umpire talk about how the umpire simultaneously calls a strike (otherwise, how do you know it's a third strike and you can advance) and signals "No catch". Both of them talked about what umpires "usually" do, which means to me that is no consistent practice. That should change, although it worked out for the White Sox (or as Ken Harrelson says when he's feeling literary, the Pale Hose) this time.

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