lon simmons

Every baseball fan understands how Giants and A's fans are feeling today. Because every team has announcers that not only become part of the team, but become our companions over the long six months of a season. 162 games a year, we hear the announcers, and they are as familiar to us as our next-door neighbor ... probably more so. So if you are a baseball fan, you have a special relationship with an announcer or two or three, and if you live long enough, some of those special people will pass away.

Lon Simmons died today at 91. He was a long-time announcer for the Giants ... he was a long-time announcer for the A's. Hell, he was a long-time announcer for the 49ers, and some of his most famous calls came with them, but you don't have the same relationship with football announcers, who are only with us once a week for fewer months than baseball.

Lon didn't just disappear when he retired. He came back and did some games for the Giants in his 80s, and if he wasn't quite as good at following the action, he always had his jokes. The Giants make a big deal of honoring their past, and Lon was always welcome at the park. He won the Hall of Fame's Ford Frick Award for broadcasters, and there is a marker commemorating this at China Basin, alongside ones for Russ Hodges and Jon Miller. Lon looked older as the years progressed, although he never looked as old as he really was. And his mind never quit working, so it was a pleasure when he'd stop into the booth for an inning or two.

The Bay Area has long been blessed with great announcers. Bill King was tops in three different sports. Hank Greenwald was a favorite of Giants' fans. The current baseball announcers are all wonderful, with the unnoticed Ken Korach, and the Giants' well-known team of Kruk and Kuip, along with Jon Miller, possibly the best of his era. Kruk and Kuip are truly loved. Yet I don't think even Bill King's biggest fans would argue with my claim that Lon Simmons was the most-beloved sports announcer in the history of Bay Area sports.


better living through chemistry, ten-year marker

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my going on drugs for anxiety and depression. I remember when I asked the doctor how long I'd have to take them, she said "for the rest of your life". (Kinda like Ian in Shameless.) As I've said before, the most notable difference to me is the lack of anxiety ... it's probably not an exaggeration to say I'd been anxious every day of my life up until that point, such that I didn't know I was anxious because I had nothing with which to compare it.

Sometimes I wonder if the placebo effect is involved here. Whatever ... I'm not going to stop taking them now.

For reference: I take valproic acid for anxiety, and bupropion (antidepressant).

throwing the thursday oracle

For some reason, I got the idea of examining The Man in the High Castle by way of the I Ching. One person commented that the post gave him “a glimpse of insight into your hippie past”, while another agreed that “it betrays a certain level of hippie”.

Not sure I have any photos or sound bites for this. But yes, in my wannabe hippie past, I consulted the I Ching. I was introduced to it in a few ways. Ken Kesey, who was an important influence on me at the time, wrote about it, in the classic-to-us-at-the-time Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog:

The oracle works on the cybernetic gestalt principle that when you stand at the free-throw line that the information concerning the future and distant relationship and outcome of ball-and-basket is contained in your physical state at the moment of the shot. We always know down in our cells which fork in the road to take but the knowledge is usually not permitted audiance in the tight-assed regime of the courthouse of ego and attachment that we recognize, in a kind of diplomatic dither, as our consciousness ... so we are sometimes forced to rudely bypass the red-tape media garble of our city hall for some grassroots opinion. So we give the Ching a ring. Of course we can’t stop the boys in the smoke-filled rotunda from tapping our line but then neither have they figured out a way to stop the call so we toss the coins and figure, What the hell; go ahead and listen, Captain. You get good advice from the Ching even when you’re eavesdropping.

Also, every morning the DJ on KMPX/KSAN (I forget which or both) read the daily I Ching. I think the DJ was Bob Prescott, although I could be wrong. The point is, it was part of my daily morning ritual.

Later, I think in the late-70s but again, not sure, I had a calendar/diary by Khigh Dhiegh. Looking at a photo, I think it was 1978. The book was called I ching: Taoist book of days: calendar-diary. 1978 Year of the Horse. (If I have the wrong year, then the title reflected whatever year I had.) As I recall, you threw the coins once for each week, and once for each month, and you made plans for yourself based on the readings, and then you wrote about your experiences. I think my diary entries eventually devolved into one “I hate my job” after another.

Dhiegh was an interesting man. He founded a Taoist sanctuary, and had a doctorate in theology, so writing a book featuring the I Ching wasn’t all that unusual for him. But his primary claim to fame was as an actor. He was the arch villain Wo Fat in the original Hawaii Five-O, and played a brainwasher in the 1960s version of The Manchurian Candidate. Furthermore, in true Anthony Quinn mode, Dhiegh usually played an Asian character, but his actual heritage was Anglo/Egyptian/Sudanese. In fact, he was born in New Jersey, as Kenneth Dickerson.

xmas 2014

We spent Xmas Eve at our daughter’s house, sharing the evening with her and Ray and Félix the Squirt. For dinner, our sister-in-law and nephew came over. After a nice Xmas breakfast, we went on to my sister’s house, where quite a gathering had assembled: all of the Rubio siblings, including the one from Oregon, partners and friends and extended family. I’ve been under the weather with a head cold, and it wasn’t always easy to keep my energy level up, but I made it through the day. We were happy to get home, though. The only downside was that we didn’t get to see Neal and Sonia, but hopefully that will remedy itself soon … their jobs make it hard to get even Xmas off, and many times, their favorite holiday is one where they can relax.

It is no secret that Xmas is not my favorite time of year. It certainly isn’t the fault of my family. I have the best kids and in-laws and grandson, the best siblings, the best long-time friends in the extended family. But I feel an obligation to put myself on display, and that takes energy, so after a big family holiday, I’m ready to collapse into a cave.

Yesterday, though, I remembered the one Xmas in my life that I spent alone. I was living in Indiana … it was 1971 … and it turned out I spent the holiday alone with our dog. There were some good things about that holiday, mainly that it was my only white Xmas. But I still remember being a couple of thousand miles from the Bay Area, alone on Xmas.

Sometimes I put burdens on myself. It helps to remember the alternatives.

backyard 9-14


Addendum for those who miss him:


thursday throwback (happy thanksgiving)

Once, my wife drove me to the county hospital in the middle of the night. I was so afraid of ending up in J Ward that I did my best to act like I was better.

"[T]he old county hospital had a mental ward that they locked up inmates in. ... The mental ward of the hospital was known as 'J Ward'."



maybe it's just that my brain is broken

Today I watched a soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan. Matches between these two are called the “Derby della Madonnina” (here in the U.S. it’s just the Milan Derby). This rivalry dates back to 1908. The two teams are historically very good. What makes this rivalry especially noteworthy is that both clubs play their home matches in the same stadium, the San Siro.

AC Milan’s home jerseys look like this:

Inter Milan’s home jerseys look like this:

I’m not sure why Inter, the “away” team in this match, wore their home jerseys, although I guess they were playing at their home, the San Siro. Whatever, the players looked like those jerseys for the match, with Milan in red and Inter in blue.

As I often do, while the match went on, I had the WhoScored website up in my browser. They offer real-time stat updates. The screen for Milan-Inter looked like this:


I hope you can see the problem. On WhoScored for this match, Milan was in blue and Inter was in red, although those colors were switched for the actual players’ jerseys as I watched my TV. What was worse, in the first half, Inter was going from left-to-right on my screen, Milan from right-to-left. I hope you can see how this was a problem, as well.

My brain couldn’t handle all of this. Even though I’ve seen these teams play many times, I kept getting confused about which team was which as I watched.

I’m sure the brain scientists can explain why this was so frustrating. Or maybe it’s just that my brain is broken.