Playing Softball with the Rad Sox, Visiting Granville Island, Seeing Alanis Morrisette

A few weeks ago, I made the decision to join the company softball team, the Rad Sox (Rad, as is “Radical”). This was for several reasons: I’d get out more, meet more people in the company that I wouldn’t normally have interaction with, hopefully improve my skills, and have fun.

Two out of four ain’t so bad, I guess…

We’ve played three games now, and we’ve lost each and every time — usually by a very unhealthy margin (our second game was something obscene, like 38 to 3). We practice a lot, usually without a lot of progress, it seems. Although my fielding is better, I still have problems.

For example, on our Friday practice, I managed to somehow manage not to get my glove under the ball. So instead of the ball landing in my glove, it instead drove into the nail of my right big toe. Nearly bent the nail in half. Couldn’t walk very quickly for a couple of hours. Rather painful. Luckily, nothing was broken, and the bleeding was minimal.

So let’s skip ahead to Monday night (don’t worry, I’ll get back to the weekend in a minute). This was our third game, against some other company (we usually don’t know the names). I spent the first half of the game in the dugout (we have too many people for everyone to play the whole game). When my chance finally came up, I raced onto the field (mostly in an effort to warm up — it was very cold last night … did I mention that I’ve taken a strong dislike to the weather in this city?).

I played third. First time that I was brought into the infield. Until then, I’d played the outfield … and sucked horribly. The coaches figured I needed the chance to suck on the infield. So I sat there, ready to play the role I was supposed to play. I made a catch, taking out a runner to third, and overall seemed to be doing pretty well.

Until the next batter came up.

She hit usually down the baseline, or bunted. Either way, Jon (the shortstop) suggested I play a bit closer to the baseline. Sure enough, next hit went straight towards me. It was an easy catch — the ball was rolling across the grass (albeit very quickly). I extended my glove, ready to snatch the rolling ball and throw it to first.

The fields that we play on vary in quality. Some are pretty good. Some are really bad. And then there is Churchill (this is where we played last night). If you removed the grass, it would look a little like the surface of the moon.

When the ball reached about two feet from my glove, it hit one of the many divots/dents/craters in the field and shot up at about a 45 degree angle. Although my brain could not tell my hand exactly where it was going to catch the ball, it did manage to tell my eyes to close and brace for impact.

It’s amazing how much inertia an ordinary softball travelling at 60km/h has. It’s also amazing how much abuse the human nose can take without breaking. But at least I stopped the ball.

While I was reeling backward, trying to figure out whether or not I was upright or dead, the game continued until the ump had the notion to suspend play at one base (or something like that — you’ll forgive me if I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the game). I returned to the dugout to stop the bleeding (which didn’t take all that long, surprisingly). I stayed out for the rest of the game.

So I’m now on partial DL until Wednesday, at which time I’ll figure out how I’m feeling. Hopefully, it’s not too bad…

Anyway, back to Friday. Allison’s sister, Jane, came out to visit for the weekend. Exact reasons, we didn’t know, only that she probably wanted to get away from home for a couple of days. I picked her up at the corner of Granville and W. Georgia, hopped a SkyTrain, and headed for the Old Spaghetti Factory in New Westminster.

Allison appeared about a half hour after Jane and I got a seat, as the weekend traffic made getting across the bridge from Surrey rather difficult. We stuffed ourselves on OSF’s pasta and bread, all the while engaging in conversation.

That evening, we took Jane to Playdium, to engage in some serious video-gaming. >From 10pm until 4am, you can play as much as you like for $25. Yeah, it sounds expensive, but when you consider that most games cost $2 normally, it’s a really good deal. We played a good number of the games until about 1am, when we headed home exhausted.

The next day, we drove down to Granville Island to spend an afternoon roaming around. After managing to find a parking spot (a bit of a feat, now that the traffic levels are beginning to skyrocket) we headed into the Island.

Initially heading for food, we stopped to watch a busker. Allison and I had seen this act before, last summer. Joel from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (at which point everyone was instructed to say “Ooooooo”) was performing the trick made famous by Harry Houdini: Handcuffed, wrapped in chains, placed in a bag, and escape in under a minute. It’s actually a pretty simple trick, once you see how it’s done.

I got abducted as his assistant. Oh yay.

After he made a few cracks at my job (I never bothered to mention I work for a video game company … dopey me), I made an effort to cuff him very tightly. Further cracks wanted me to chain him as tightly as possible. I can only assume that’s why he does that. A poor girl from Delta (the equivalent of Brampton to Toronto) got suckered into checking his pockets for keys … something she really didn’t want to do.

Needless to say, he escaped. In 57 seconds. He held out for three seconds to heighten the drama.

Following lunch, we headed over to the Granville Island Brewery to have a tour, only we missed it by an hour. The next one was at 4:00. Back into the market to get dinner. We bought stuffed pork shops (which are mighty tasty, albeit huge), corn, and various vegetables for skewers.

We missed the 4:00 tour because I couldn’t hold out any longer, and had to make a bathroom break. We took the opportunity, though, to get some beer and a bottle of wine.

For my birthday, the Collins bought me a wine rack. Yes, a wine rack. It has a counter on top that we keep the microwave on. It’s very handy. Almost every time we go to Granville Island, we buy a bottle of wine. When we finally get the thing filled, we’ll actually start to drink it.

We spend our time indoors, eating, drinking (beer and daiquiris) and watching “Home Fries”. Seriously messed up movie. Of course, it was written by Vince Gilligan, famous for writing seriously messed up X-Files episodes.

Sunday was a weird day. Allison and I spend most of our time trying to kill time. After we sent Jane on her way, we needed to kill a few hours — we were going to a concert that night.

I will admit that Alanis Morrisette doesn’t exactly rock my world … but she’s a pretty good performer, all things considered. She’s short (at least compared to the rest of her band) and quite energetic. Good live singing voice, too.

The opening acts were Veda Hill (some local performer) and Sloan. Once again, Sloan’s bad luck with sound struck at them — the only reason I knew what song they were playing is because I could figure out the odd guitar chord and drum beat. It wasn’t until “Money City Maniacs”, their last song in the set, that the sound was reasonable. After Sloan’s set, Chris Murphy took a seat in the audience a couple rows behind us, just outside of arms’ reach.

The sound, of course, was tuned to Alanis. Despite the fact that she was over a half hour late hitting the stage, she put on a pretty good show. She did a very interesting rendition of “You Outta Know” — the music was extremely tame (no harsh guitars or heavy drums) for the first two verses. It really showcased the anger that the lyrics exude. Her encore I predicted about halfway through the show: “Thank You” and “Ironic”. But she didn’t end there, playing two more songs before coming back with an acoustical set. Quite impressive. She even let her pianist go nuts for a few minutes, showcasing some of the most amazing jazz-influenced talent I’ve ever heard.

When all’s said and done, it was a good weekend. Now if we can just warm this corner of the country up a bit, it’ll actually get liveable around here.