Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Go and Read: The Dragon's Tooth

Five of the Abell six have now completed N. D. Wilson’s latest fictional creation, The Dragon’s Tooth. Unanimous consensus is that this book is simply fantastic. Nate wrote, upon request from Amazon, a brief letter to potential readers. I suggest you read the whole thing, but here is a great paragraph:
Escapism in fiction can be a beautiful thing. But that’s not the only thing I hope to create. If kids around the world pass through The Dragon’s Tooth and become friends with Cyrus and Antigone Smith and form clubs and sit in circles to role-play with dice and wish they had more interesting lives, then I will have failed. But if they dream of learning to sail, to swim, to fly, if they dream of running faster than they’ve ever run and studying Latin (or Greek or Persian or Creole), if they walk outside and realize that their world is more wonderful, more surprising, more dangerous, and more exciting than anything I could ever create, if they discover that they themselves could become more interesting than any character I could ever shape, then I will have succeeded.
One of my daughters said that “Cyrus Smith, if he were real, was the kind of boy you could fall in love with...”

I love being a dad that gets to read the same great stuff his kids are reading. I love the excitement and fun we have discussing plots and characters and story lines. I love being a dad to my four and the head of the Abell six.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Considering I’m an Administrator...

The whole post by Douglas Wilson is about Missions, but the first two paragraphs seemed appropriate to my job description. Too much truth here...

Inside each capable administrator, there is a petty bureaucrat, yearning to get out. Inside each visionary, there is a wild antinomian, yearning to get out. Each one is suspicious of the inner other guy, when they ought to be suspicious of their own inner guy. 
Mission cannot be accomplished without visionary leadership. Mission cannot be accomplished without a supply corps, and working supply lines. Without the supply guys, the visionary is Napoleon marching on Moscow. Without the visionary, the administrator is an undersecretary for Garbonzo bean subsidies in eastern Washington, involved in a desperate turf war with the Chickpea guy for northern Alabama.
Read the whole thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


toes, originally uploaded by wenabell.

Wendy is fantastic. Can you guess whose toes are whose? Hint: I am not pictured and Wendy took the picture.

Chicken Involtini with Prosciutto and Basil

Life has been so busy that I haven’t grilled anything in a long time. Today, in the Lord’s kindness, I had an afternoon off. I finished a book I had been reading and then prepared the dinner pictured above.

Chicken Involtini with Prosciutto and Basil sounds really complicated. It is not. I simply took four chicken breast halves, hammered them between plastic wrap until they were thin, seasoned them with salt, garlic powder, and pepper, and rolled them up with a layer of thin-sliced prosciutto and provolone and a few fresh basil leaves. Once they were rolled, I carefully tied them up with baker’s twine and covered them with olive oil. I then grilled them over direct-medium heat on my Weber charcoal kettle grill for about 12 minutes, turning them about a quarter turn every few minutes.

Once they were done, I set them aside to rest for a few minutes while I spread some warmed, quality tomato sauce on a plate. I cut the baker's twine off each of the rolled chicken pieces, cut a piece in half, and arranged it on the tomato sauce with a few ripped up basil leaves.

Very easy, attractive, and tasted great.

My Favorite Baseball Game Ever

In 1995, I attended Portland State University’s civil engineering school. I was friends with Alex and Tim, two of the most dedicated baseball fans I know. I was a huge hockey fan; I loved the Portland Winterhawks. But these guys wore on me. They hooked me, and I grew to love baseball.

The closest MLB team to our home was the Seattle Mariners, a measly 3 hours away. But Tim and Alex took me to see a game anyway. I was hooked. In the evenings after work, it was my joy to watch games on cable and then talk with Alex and Tim the next day about what had happened. I was a baseball fan.

On September 3, 1995, Mackenzie was born. I loved to hold her and stare at her beautiful face and smell her beautiful skin. One of the favorite things I did was sit with her asleep in my lap and watch baseball. I still remember my favorite spot on our blue couch.

Ken Griffey Jr. has broken his wrist that summer, but he was back and the M’s were making a run for the playoffs. Randy Johnson was throwing left-handed heat. The Mariners had to face the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, with the first three games in NY and the last two of the five game set in Seattle—if they made it that far.

They lost the first game 9-6. They lost the second game 7-5 in 15 innings. But they won the third game 7-4. Then back home to Seattle and a win in game four, 11-8.

On October 8, 1995, the Mariners faced the New York Yankees in game five to determine who would go to the ALCS. The Mariners were down 4-2 in the 6th. No score in the 7th. In the 8th they tied the game 4-4. No score in the 9th. Extra innings. In the top of the 10th inning, Lou Pinella brought Randy Johnson in to close the game. Amazing. The Mariners’ best starter on only a few days rest, coming in to finish the game. No score in the 10th. In the top of the 11th inning, NY scored after Randy Johnson gave a lead-off walk to Mike Stanley.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, facing black-jack McDowell, down by one run, the Mariners started off with their number two hitter, Joey Cora. Griffey would bat second, and Edgar Martinez ready to hit third.

My writing can’t do that moment justice. I remember sitting, standing, biting my nails, yelling at the TV, waiting and watching with anticipation as Joey Cora got on base with a weak bunt up the first base line. Imagine! Griffey could end the whole thing with one swing. Instead he hit a single in between the SS and 2B. Cora to third. Edgar Martinez, DH extraordinaire, was up to bat. A very young Alex Rodriguez was in the box.

Now, I must say, Edgar was one of my heroes. He was slower than molasses, but he could hit. He had an amazing inside-out swing that would drive balls into the left field. If I remember right Edgar had 52 doubles in 1995. So, what does Edgar do? He lines a double to left field. Cora scores from third. The left fielder retrieves the ball and throws as hard as he can for home, only to have Griffey, screaming around third from first base—on a double, slide into home plate just ahead of the throw.

Mariners win 5-4!

I have not since experienced such an exhilarating game. I hope to again some day, though.

This memory was re-awakened in my mind because on Friday night the Mariner’s unveiled a statue in honor of their former broadcaster, Dave Niehaus, who began broadcasting for the Mariners in their inaugural season in 1977. He died in November 2010 after working every year for the Mariners.

Here is how Dave Niehaus called the winning play that I just tried to describe....
“Right now, the Mariners looking for the tie. They would take a fly ball, they would love a base hit into the gap and they could win it with Junior's speed. The stretch... and the 0-1 pitch on the way to Edgar Martínez swung on and LINED DOWN THE LEFT FIELD LINE FOR A BASE HIT! HERE COMES JOEY, HERE IS JUNIOR TO THIRD BASE, THEY'RE GOING TO WAVE HIM IN! THE THROW TO THE PLATE WILL BE ... LATE! THE MARINERS ARE GOING TO PLAY FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP! I DON'T BELIEVE IT! IT JUST CONTINUES! MY, OH MY!”
—Calling “The Double”, hit by Edgar Martínez, which scored Joey Cora and Ken Griffey, Jr. to win the 1995 American League Division Series in the 5th and final game.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Slay the Dragon

“G.K. Chesterton said somewhere that if a book does not have a wicked character in it, then it is a wicked book. One of the most pernicious errors that has gotten abroad in the Christian community is the error of sentimentalism—the view that evil is to be evaded, rather than the more robust Christian view that evil is to be conquered. The Christian believes that evil is there to be fought, the dragon is there to be slain. The sentimentalist believes that evil is to be resented.”

—Douglas Wilson, “Forward”, Omnibus IV, page IX.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Another Reason to Love Baseball

From Rob Neyer:
What single word could better summarize what Milwaukee Brewers catcher George Kottaras did, Saturday night in Houston?
Kottaras, the Brewers’ backup (and rarely used) catcher, entered the contest with 13 home runs and one triple in 454 career plate appearances.
In the second inning, Kottaras flied out. (Yawn.)
In the fourth inning, Kottaras hit a solo home run, a line drive that carried into the first row of right-field seats. (Well played, sir.)
In the sixth inning, Kottaras led off with a triple over the center fielder’s head and to the far reaches of Tal’s Hill. (Wait, what?)
In the seventh inning, Kottaras singled to right field. (Uh, guys? You might want to watch this...) 
In the ninth inning, Kottaras drove another ball past the center fielder ... and this one bounced over the wall for an automatic double. (Say what?) 
Kottaras thus became the first major leaguer with a cycle this season, as the last to accomplish the feat was Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez more than 13 months ago. And Kottaras now has hit for the cycle more often (1) than every San Diego Padre (0) and Florida Marlin (0) in major-league history. 
Of course, Kottaras probably isn’t the most unlikely cycler in history. He certainly isn’t the first slow catcher with just moderate power to hit for the cycle. If you’re making a list, though? Of the players who shocked the hell out of anyone paying attention? George Kottaras is within spitting distance of the top. 
Read the whole post and see a pic.

Watch more.

Fantastic Sentence

“Stanley Yelnats was the only passenger on the bus, not counting the driver or the guard.”

—Louis Sachar, Holes, pg. 6