Memories from an All-Star Game (Pt. 3)….Finally!

So…another two months constitutes a little while, right? I know it’s been a long time again, but this time I’ve got better excuses. I had a migraine issue flare up at the beginning of November. I took a bunch of meds which make me feel weird and being in front of a computer didn’t help. It also pushed back my work on my collection of short stories. I’ve been working to get back on track, but with work, it’s an uphill battle. Still, resolved to work through it!

 

Day the third. We revised the plan since we wanted to get into Oklahoma Joe’s without having to forfeit too much of our lives. We got up earlier than the day before and drove to the restaurant thinking we’d get there shortly after it opened at eleven and maybe be at least in the building when we got in line. On the way, I called home. The All-Star game, played on July 10th, also happened to be the same day as my father’s birthday. Unfortunately, when I called the first time, he was out of the house. That was fine though because we arrived at Oklahoma Joe’s shortly after I called. It was 11:15 when we showed up and our goal was just a little off base. While the line wasn’t wrapping around the corner of the building, it was already out the door. Still, it didn’t seem as daunting, so we stayed. Forty-five minutes later, we made it to the counter. I’d called home again while in line. Dad was still outside. Mom was pretty sure he’d be in in a few minutes, so I said I’d call back in a few minutes. However, I was quickly distracted by lunch. Jordan got the standard pulled-pork sandwich while I got a smoked beef and pork sandwich. We both got fries and a drink then sat down at a table. Despite the small structure, it was easy to find a seat. It was a good thing because you need to be sitting when you first bite into an Oklahoma Joe’s sandwich. Bar none, it is/was/possibly forever shall be the best barbeque I’ve ever eaten. To make it even better, the fries were top notch as well, and they gave you so much food we couldn’t finish everything off. And while wasted food is always a shame, this food being wasted seemed a Greek tragedy. We contemplated forcing everything down and then not moving the rest of the day, but we had plans that we needed to hold to. Mainly, we were going to visit the Negro League Baseball Museum. It was kinda weird leaving the restaurant. For the game, I was wearing my Yadier Molina jersey (even though he didn’t end up playing in the actual All-Star game). As we were going by the line, another man wearing a Cardinals jersey stopped me and asked, “Is it worth it?” I don’t know how long that guy had been in line, but what did he expect me to say? Based on his spot in line, he’d probably been there thirty minutes. But aside from our mutual affinity for the St. Louis Cardinals, what else did we have in common? With a nod, I replied, “Definitely” and continued on my way. Now, I was being honest, but it’s all from my perspective. Maybe he’s the one in a million that won’t like Oklahoma Joe’s.

Anyway, after eating lunch, we headed for the museum. I called home along the way; dad was not there. The museum shares a building with the American Jazz Museum. If we had time, we might have visited it as well, but we wanted to make sure we got to the game early enough. There is a lot of interesting stuff in the museum including: old uniforms, equipment, contracts, and other memorabilia from players of that era. Again, we stopped and watched a couple videos about the era and the conditions players dealt with. Perhaps the most interesting elements of the museum were a collection of baseballs honoring each person honored in the museum and a baseball field holding statues of some of the most famous players from the league including: Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, and Satchel Paige. On my way out, I purchased a book in the gift shop. We still had a little time to kill, and there was an interesting exhibit outside the museum we decided to check out. I don’t remember exactly where it all came from, but they had a lot of jerseys, displays cases, and golden gloves given to Negro League players. We got caught up, however, in a rebroadcasting of a home run series from the 60s. We got to see Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, and Ken Boyer.

Then, the time came to head for the ballpark. After our fiasco parking at the park, we decided to forgo the cheap alternative and park at the stadium. We arrived about an hour early, so we walked around, visited the gift ship again, and watched the arrival of the mascots. It wasn’t overly exciting, but sitting outside a ballpark for an hour makes a lot of things more interesting. I tried calling home, but it was impossible to get a signal outside the stadium. One way or another, dad was going to get a happy birthday from me! Eventually, the time came, we entered the gates and took a couple photos by a sculpture of a blue baseball covered in all the MLB logos adorning a crown like in the Royal’s logo. We also stayed in the lower level seating for a while watching batting practice. Jordan called a friend who had much better seats than us, and we all talked for a while. As we did, we saw MLB network analyst Harold Reynolds take infield with the All-Stars. We also noticed that in every seat was a T-shirt in a plastic bag. There were instructions that the shirt was to be worn during the national anthem. When the time came, we realized the lower level was blue and the top level was striped in red and white. We received white T-shirts. On the way up, we stopped by a gift shop and bought stuff for our family and friends. We also went ahead and got dinner. Then, we went to our seats. As we sat in our seats inspecting our shirts and instructions, I called home and finally got ahold of dad! I wished him a happy birthday and chatted for a while. Apparently, he and mom would be watching the game looking for us. Given our seats, I didn’t have high hopes for them.

It was very cool watching the crowd come in and the colors begin to take form. Eventually, we were a giant red, white, and blue mass of fans. It made for a nice picture. More interesting, however, was the national anthem itself. The man singing it took too long. A stealth flyover was planned for directly after the anthem, but as most of the noticed, the singer was taking too long. Perhaps as a direct result, the plane didn’t fly directly over the stadium but took a slightly deviated course. The singer was just beginning the last line of the anthem when the roar of the plane started.

After that, the game got going. Something about the All-Star Game setup seems to dictate little offensive production. When Justin Verlander is the starting pitcher, that theory seems to be confirmed. Theories aren’t always true. Three batters into the game, the National League scored. By the end of the first inning, they put on five runs. Without a doubt, the most interesting part was Pablo Sandoval hitting a bases loaded triple. Just watching him chug around the bases was entertaining enough.

After a while, the game did slow down and pitching returned to dominance. I was curious to see what would happen when Robinson Cano came to bat in the bottom of the first. I hoped the scolding would end and Royals’ fans would let it go. No such luck. The booing was not as thunderous as the day before, but it was there. It was also annoying. I didn’t mind the first day, but seriously, enough was enough.

I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought though. I was enjoying the moment too much – watching all the players I saw on TV. Seeing players from my favorite team. It worked out well that the man in front of me wore a Cardinals jersey as well. We shared a couple high fives when our players did well. One in particular, Carlos Beltran, used to play for Kansas City, so I was very happy to hear him get an ovation from the fans. It somewhat made up for the treatment of Cano.

There were also a lot of memorable matchups in the game: Stephen Strasburg vs. Josh Hamilton, Bryce Harper vs. Jered Weaver, Mike Trout vs. R. A. Dickey, and Mike Trout vs. Aroldis Chapman. Really watching anyone hit against Chapman is fascinating.

Two moments however stand out among the rest, although Bryce Harper losing a fly ball in the lights almost cracked the list. The first happened in the top of the sixth inning when Chipper Jones came to bat. Jones, retiring at the end of the year, stands as one of the greatest third basemen of all-time. When he first came into the league, I wasn’t much of a fan, but Jones did one thing that rarely happens in baseball anymore – he stayed with one team. Drafted by the Atlanta Braves, Jones played his entire career with the Braves which is something that demands respect. A fact which was clear to everyone in attendance. When he came to bat, much like when he was announced at the beginning of the game, Jones received a standing ovation. The moment was so much that Jones had to step out of the batter’s box to acknowledge the crowd. He went on to get a single before coming out of the game at the end of the inning.

The other was the at-bats of Billy Butler. He didn’t come in until the seventh inning though the crowd had been cheering for him since the game began. He grounded out, but you’d never heard such cheering for a groundout. He also came up in the ninth with a chance to get the American league on the board. Unfortunately, he struck out, but he still received a thunderous ovation.

The game ended 8-0, and Melky Cabrera won the MVP. Months later he’d be suspended for PEDs. In the present, the moment was nice though.

Jordan and I would leave Kansas City the next day. We left with a plethora of memories that not everyone gets to have. Indeed, it was an experience that will never be duplicated. I’ll go to other ballgames in the future, see other parks and players, but nothing will be like the All-Star game experience. Partly because of the events I witnessed. Partly because Kansas City showed it can put on a great weekend despite the poor play of the team. Finally, partly because of the company. Often in life, it’s not the event that is so great; it’s the people along for the ride. Experiencing greatness is special; getting to share greatness with another is even better.

 

Hope All is Well,

Patrick Kennedy

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I’m Back Baby! (All-Star Game Memories Pt. 2)

Holy cow! What happened to August and September? It’s been more than two months since I’ve done this. That’s terrible. Thanks to my cousin for reminding me it had been a while. I’ll go ahead and dedicate this one to you Phil!

Last time I did this, I was talking All-Star game. After two months of work, I need to think of simpler times again. Besides, I’ve got two more days of All-Star celebration to cover.

Monday – Home Run Derby. That’s what the day was all about, but we had a lot happen before we got there. My buddy and I got up bright-an-early at nine in the morning. The plan was college basketball Hall-of-Fame, lunch, and then back to the stadium. For those that don’t know, the college basketball Hall-of-Fame is located at the Sprint Center as part of the College Basketball Experience.

It’s pretty cool from a fan’s perspective. They have a full-length basketball court inside the building. They also have several little games off to the side. You see how many free-throws you can make in a minute, how many 3-pointers in a minute, there’s a 3-on-3 half-court, a dribble-and-shoot station, and a dunking goal for 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10-foot goals. I was pretty stoked to find out I could still 360 on a 9-foot goal. Granted, that’s giving up a foot from high school, but I’m still proud. They also have posters for all the best college players like Chamberlain, Bird, Johnson, Jordan, etc. They have championship banners hanging all over the place. It’s really neat.

The actual Hall-of-Fame is downstairs on the second level. They have a few more games down there too. Along the wall to the Hall, they have the National Championship trophy and profiles of the most successful college programs in history. (KU, #2 by the way) Within the hall, they have the bottom half of a giant basketball going into a large hoop. The ball is clear and blue-lit, providing the only light in the room. All around, they have the patrons that helped make the building possible. One of them is named Pat Kennedy. I had no idea I was so generous. Then, down another hall, is the actual Hall-of-Fame. All the inductees have a glass square with their name on it. The stretch of wall with those squares on it is back lit. They also have these big circular information screens on the floor. You can find any player inducted and learn more about them. On the way out, we stopped in a little video room and watched five or six of the small segments they had playing that day. We picked a good day because there was virtually no one else in there that day.

Finally, around eleven-thirty or so, we decided to go grab lunch. We’d been given some good barbeque restaurants to go to and advice on what times to arrive there. We decided on Oklahoma Joe’s, even though we were about a half-hour beyond the given time of arrival. We didn’t think it would matter that much. We were wrong.

When we got to the restaurant, which is in a gas station by the way, the line was already out the door and down one side of the building. I love barbeque as much as the next man, but when the line doesn’t move for ten minutes, I can concede for one day. So we did. We went back to the Sprint Center since the Power and Light district wasn’t too far away. We walked around for a while and finally decided a little sports bar.

We thought we were in luck when they had a special of slice of pizza, salad, and soda. Yes, I eat salads. Not much and not often, but I do. Unfortunately, they discontinued the special that was clearly printed on the sign. That makes sense, right? In any event, we got a slice and a drink. We hung out there for a while until we were ready to go to the ballpark.

There’s a park near Kaufman Stadium that was giving parking spaces for significantly less than Kaufman was. We parked there and started the twenty minute walk to the gate. We did come upon some luck when a park worker in a golf cart offered us a ride. Even though you’re clearly not a big deal, you feel like one being driven around on a golf cart.

We were so early, we had about an hour to kill before the gates opened. We went into the team store to see what a simple T-shirt was going for. (Anywhere from $30-$55. I don’t even wanna get into jerseys.) We then started a quest for the cheapest thing in the store. I think it ended up being a bag of Big League Chew for $5. Even the Lego-men of the All-Star players were more expensive. That’s right, Lego-men of the All-Star players.

About an hour later, we got into the stadium. We walked around for a while, went into the Royal’s Hall of Fame, and eventually went up to our seats. A country band played before the Derby started. I don’t remember who it was, but they were pretty entertaining.

Without a doubt, the most interesting part of the Derby was the treatment of Robinson Cano. He got booed mercilessly for putting Mark Trumbo on the roster instead of Billy Butler. After watching Trumbo, I understand his decision, but it would’ve been smarted to play Butler obviously. Throughout the Derby, the things that got cheered more than Cano was astounding. Among them:

1. John Kruk eating ribs

2. Billy Butler sitting on the bench

3. Billy Butler leaning against the dugout fence

4. Billy Butler watching the jumbo-tron (this gets awfully repetitive)

5. A dog catching a Frisbee

6. And a little kid hit a ball over a fence thirty feet away after missing terribly on his first four attempts

(Disclaimer: since I am not a true Royals fan, I did not participate in the booing so as not to give into peer pressure. Besides, after a while, I just felt bad for the guy.)

I always enjoyed watching the Home Run Derby on TV, but there is something much better about seeing it live. You get a real appreciation for how hard the ball is hit and how far it travels. It was also pretty cool to see Trumbo hit one on top of the Hall-of-Fame and watch Prince Fielder hit the fountains with ease. It was hilarious that Cano and Matt Kemp only hit 1 even though they were the captains for the two teams.

After watching Fielder take the trophy, we headed out. We got cans of Pepsi Max on the way out (told ya it was a theme) and took the long walk back to the car. No golf cart this time. It was fine though. We made it back easily enough and went back to Jordan’s aunt’s house. We stayed up a couple hours looking at tweets and stuff about the Derby. We also decided that we would eat at Oklahoma Joe’s the next day…no matter what!

So, day 3 in a little bit. Since it’s been a while, I’ll talk about some other stuff as well. I’m still planning on self-publishing some short stories and poems before the year is out. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I should ready to go by the end of November. The only thing I’m struggling with is a title. How do you decide on a title for a collection of pieces?

Hope All is Well,

Patrick Kennedy

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Memories from an All-Star Game (pt. 1)

It was one week ago that I sat in Kaufman Stadium in section 431 row RR seat 1 watching the 83rd annual All-Star Game put on by Major League Baseball. It was easily one of the Top 5 greatest experiences in my lifetime. Many baseball fans find the All-Star Game somewhat tedious and not that exciting. Many people had that argument regarding this year’s game since there was only scoring in two of the nine innings played. But as is the case with so many trips, it is not the destination that is so important as it is the journey that brought us there.

For my friend Jordan and I, the journey began Sunday July, 8th somewhere around 10 in the morning. As is routine during All-Star Sunday there is a large ‘Fan Fest’ put on by Major League Baseball in the city where the game is being held. Along with tickets for the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, and Future’s Game, we received tickets for FanFest on Sunday. Knowing the crowds would be out in full force, we left Sunday morning early enough to get to FanFest and then go to the Future’s Game immediately after.

The ride to Kansas City was great, mostly because I got to catch up with my friend who lives in San Antonio. I lived with him for close to six years, and now I see him a few times a year. Needless to say, we needed a few hours just to catch up. In the stories we had for each other, the time vanished before our eyes and we had eaten lunch and arrived in KC before we knew it. We made our way to Fan Fest at the Kansas City Convention Center and walked around the area taking pictures and soaking in the sights.

Unfortunately, we had to wait a bit before we could actually go into Fan Fest because our tickets were for 4 o’clock and we arrived at 1:30ish. Still we got in around 3, which made me question these people’s ability to recognize the correlation between actual time and printed time, but I wanted to get inside so I said nothing. If there is a playground for baseball fans, we found it at Fan Fest. There were activities scattered throughout the center – ball fields for kids to play a pretend game on, practice for grounders and fly balls, a base stealing game, and a bunch of others. There was a big space for video games, exhibits from the Hall of Fame, and some special displays made for the Kansas City Royals and the Negro Leagues of the past. Memorabilia stores were all over the place as well, and a shop to buy All-Star Game clothing and whatnot. Players were there to sign autographs (we saw Andre Dawson and Ferguson Jenkins). Probably the most interesting part of the clothing store was a booth where they’d made a personalized jersey for you right in front of you. They had fancy protractors and things to help them with the spacing, but they made it while you waited. Really cool!

But probably my favorite thing at Fan Fest was a gallery showing items that were going up for auction over the next few days. There was a lot of stuff from Harmon Killebrew for some reason (don’t get me wrong, any Hall of Famer is worthwhile and yes, Killebrew played for the Royals, but he’s definitely more famous for being a Twin). But there were really cool items at this thing – I mean, cool for baseball fans – balls signed by Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Cy Young, old gloves, and bats. You could even buy one of Jim Palmer’s old Cy Young awards. I mean, some of this stuff that dates back well over 100 years now, but the names are still on the minds of every baseball fan out there. Baseball may not be as popular as it once was, but there is one thing that it has over any of the other two favored American sports – history. Basketball and football may be more popular right now and may stay so for a long time to come, but baseball has its roots deeper than either of them.

After taking in Fan Fest we decided to head for the ballpark. As we were leaving, we got mini-cans of Pepsi Max, which quickly became a theme for the rest of the weekend as you’ll see. We were about an hour late for the Future’s Game, but we weren’t worried because usually the Future’s Game doesn’t draw a full house. But as we were in Kansas City, we quickly learned that would not be the case.

When we drove by Kaufman Stadium, we saw a packed house. We learned later that over 40,000 people were in attendance for that game, the second highest total in the game’s history. Still, it was easy to find a spot and walk up to the ballpark. We stopped off for a snack and a drink and then made our way to our seats. This brought in the only dark mark on the weekend as a whole. People were in our seats!

It didn’t really turn into a thing. They had the seats next to us, so they moved. They weren’t all that gracious about it. They tried to get us to sit in front of them since the people sitting there had left several innings ago, so they probably weren’t coming back. We didn’t care, so we started to sit in those seat, when one of the morons in our seats suddenly got up and made his buddies move. Then he started complaining about how he just wanted some ‘elbow room’ and didn’t see why we had to sit near next to each other if we didn’t have to. If he had half a brain, he could’ve looked down the row and seen we had about eight open seats between the five of us, so elbow room was possible if he could just do the math. I won’t say I’m that surprised that he couldn’t.

Nevertheless, we took our seats and watched the game. The Future’s Game isn’t like the All-Star Game which pits the American League against the National League. Instead it picks a team for the United States and a team for the World. It was the fifth inning when we sat down and the US was winning. They quickly opened up a sizeable lead and won the game easily. KC fans were especially happy because a guy in the Royals’ farm system, Will Myers, played very well in the game. He got a lot of cheers when he came up.

The other element of the All-Star Sunday is the Celebrity Softball Game which takes place shortly after the Future’s Game. There were some big name baseball players like George Brett, Ozzie Smith, Bo Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Andre Dawson, Steve Garvey, and Dave Winfield, and then other celebs like Jennie Finch, Jon Hamm, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, and KU basketball coach Bill Self. The game was fairly entertaining. I liked it especially when Self came up to bat. Since we’re in Missouri, all the Mizzou fans booed him mercilessly, but he hit a home run anyway. But easily, the best part of the game was the fact that each team had a player from the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Every time one of these players came to the plate, he received an ovation from the crowd. It was as touching a sight as I had ever seen, and as fate would have it, one hit a home run during the game and took home the MVP honors.

We didn’t stay for the whole game that night. We knew we wouldn’t be leaving early again, but we did have other places to go. Jordan’s aunt was nice enough to offer free lodging for the trip, so we wanted to find her house and settle in for the next few days.

For one day, it was quite a bit, there was plenty more to come. I’d keep going, but I don’t really want this post to be that long. More to come, I promise.

 

Hope All is Well,

Patrick Kennedy

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It’s Been a While

And don’t I know it. I was sure that when the summer rolled around, this would be easier to keep track of. However, a week after school let out, I went on a two-week binge. Well, not a real binge – a writing binge. 5,000 words a day for twelve days. Some days as many as 10 hours of writing, and I completely screwed up my internal clock. I was going to bed at four in the morning, waking up at noon, and a whole lot of naps in between. So when I finished, I really didn’t want to write for a while. In fact, I still kinda don’t. That’s why I’m stealing an old writing from my past and re-posting it today. Enjoy!

It seems like every day comes day to one moment that either makes or breaks the day. We can be in a good mood or a bad mood given the turn of one sometimes seemingly insignificant moment. The whole day can be won or lost in a matter of seconds or minutes based on how that one moment turns. That’s really when it hit me; I have never known the exact measure of a moment. If somebody tells me to think about something for a second, I do. I think about it and then move right along. Think about it for a minute requires a little bit more thought, but I know how much time to give it. Even if someone asks me to think about it for a while, I have an idea of how much time to throw into it. But to think about something for a moment, I can’t really be sure. When examined, the moment could be the oddest standard measurement of time that we use. Years involve the time it takes the earth to go around the sun. Months are defined via lunar cycles within the year. Weeks are an exact grouping of days. Days are the time it takes the earth to spin on its axis. Hours are equal parts of the day, equal to the number of time zones on the earth. Minutes are equal parts of an hour and seconds equal parts of a minute. Everything bigger or smaller than these measurements are still equally portioned. Millenniums are 1000 years, centuries 100, and decades 10. But as best as I can tell, moments have no precise duration. I’ve seen night turn to day due to a moment of lightning. I’ve thought about something for a moment and minutes later been thinking about the same thing. The happiest moment for a couple is when they become man and wife. But is that moment when they kiss, when they’re pronounced as man and wife, when they’ve exchanged vows, or does it somehow encompass the entire thing. It’s even possible that that moment happens sometime before the wedding and the wedding is just the recognition of that moment. Regardless, the fact remains that the length of a moment can never truly be pinpointed. But perhaps it is the fact that moments cannot be measured that makes them so important. The reason that moments can turn our days good or bad is because we live from moment to moment. We can’t remember things by the second or the minute, but by the moment. One moment can ruin the next or make it that much more amazing. For it is moments that define our lives, not seconds, hour, or even days. We plan for what we will do in the moment because we have an understanding of what a moment can provide. Moments can provide unlimited emotion that cannot be measured much like moments themselves. In the moment, we can be taken to that higher plane and be in a better place. We can exceed the very definitions of happiness and joy as we know it if we only put ourselves in that moment. We know what we’ll get from a second, how long it’ll be until the minute passes, and when we’ll face a new day. But when the moment comes, we can never be certain. All we can do is hope that we’re ready for it. Because whatever a moment can provide, it can also take away. If we’re not living in that moment for the moment, it’ll pass us by. And much like time, we can’t get moments back. Each moment we come across is unique and we’ll never see another one like it. So it may not matter how long a moment lasts, rather what matters is what we put into the moment. We may need to seize the day, but to do that we must first live the moment. Truly, it doesn’t matter how long the moment will last, but that we’ve made the moment worth the time it took.

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Movie Etiquette

It’s hard to believe it was almost a month ago that I went and saw The Avengers on the Thursday/Friday that it came out (Midnight showing – they’re so fun!) which turned out to be an awesome movie and then had to trudge through work the next day without collapsing. Granted, it took around a gallon of caffeine-laced soda throughout the day, but I did it nonetheless. It was at the movie that I decided on the topic for my next posting and was excited to write about it because it’s all part of my odd sense of humor that I hadn’t had the opportunity to express yet.

I love going to the movies. Some people look at movies as poor versions of books or larger stories that exist in other media, but I just look at them as another way to tell a story. When it boils right down to it, what I really love is the story concept – whether it’s told in writing, pictures, video, etc. And while I love the idea of the theatre, there are some hang-ups that keep me from enjoying the full effect of the moving going experience. Sad to say, just about every one of those hang-ups stems from people. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then something about the theatre itself ruins the experience, but more often than not, the other spectators do something that threatens the enjoyment of the showing. It’s these violations of Movie Etiquette that have resulted in a series of personal opinions/rules that I believe should be followed at every movie.

So, yes, there will be some of these rules you don’t agree with, some that seem picky, and some that seem petty. Nevertheless, there are my rules, and everyone needs their own rules. It’s why NCIS is so fun with Gibbs having his list of rules.

1. Arrive at the theatre early: Unless it’s a spur of the moment decision or you’ve been given bad intel, there’s no excuse for not being at the movie at least ten minutes before the curtain goes up. This allows for the purchasing of tickets and concessions with time to stop at the restroom if necessary. Generally speaking, I don’t believe in leaving the theatre once you’ve been seated. Exception to follow.

Furthermore, it’s painstakingly annoying to have to put up with people who arrive late and then either look for a place to sit or look for their friends/family who had the common decency to arrive early. Your opinion about previews is your own, but I have them invaluable. That brings me to my next rule

2. Shut up during the previews: Ticket prices what they are today, you have to squeeze every last bit of value that you can out of the movie going experience and that includes previews. They may look terrible and be for movies you’d never see in your lifetime, but they’re free! Never look a gift horse in the mouth as someone cliché might say. Besides, some out there do want to know what’s coming down the road and use the preview as a valuable tool. So even if you don’t care about the coming attraction, at least show you’re a decent human being. The only words said during a preview should come after it’s played and should be brief:

“That looks terrible!”

“Definitely gonna see that one!”

3. Think before you sit: Personal space is important. That’s why we have chairs and not long benches. We come with people we want to sit by, but if we were being honest, those are the only people we’d want in the theatre. Hence, a buffer becomes important. Of course, the ideal can’t always happen, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

Wherever you sit, you should make sure you’re not directly next to, in front of, or behind anyone you didn’t come with. For the record, I consider directly in front and behind to be one row away. Let’s be honest, rows do matter for the angle on the screen, but only severely rarely does one row make that much of a difference.

The next concept would be next to. If you can help it, never…NEVER sit next to a stranger in a theatre. This happened to me twice in San Antonio, so I’m under the current assumption that San Antonio is the worst place to watch a movie. It seems as though one seat would provide the proper buffer, but it doesn’t. Reason being that if the theatre does fill up, it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult and rude to force people to abandon their friends and end up sitting next to you and some other random stranger. On the one hand, they deserve it for arriving when they did. On the other hand, we’re civilized…most of us. Regardless, the proper buffer is two seats. More if you like, but as long as there’s two, you’re just fine. And let’s face it, if you only leave 1 seat, you’re gonna be talking through the previews anyway, so why not go for broke!

HELPFUL HINT: Think of the theatre as a checkerboard. Look at where people             are sitting and then sit in the same color squares.

4. Once the movie starts, leave on emergencies only: You forgetting popcorn or wanting a refill is not an emergency, it’s poor planning on your part. And as my father’s mug says: a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. Your kidneys are about to burst – get out! You’re about to show off the hot dog you ate thirty minutes ago – get out! Your water just broke – get out! Otherwise, suck it up!

EXCEPTION: If the curtain isn’t up, you’re good. Just be quick about it. This is especially poignant for midnight showings where you have to show up an hour        prior.

5. Turn off your phone: It’s so rude! I don’t even care if you’ve gone some sort of emergency you need to know about. If it’s that big of a deal that you need to know at a moment’s notice, what the hell are you doing at the movies?

EXCEPTION: Mothers. If you’re leaving your child at home for the first time, by           all means, have your phone on. I am NOT going to stand in the way of a mother        and her child. Just, if possible, put it on vibrate.

6. Seating saving is acceptable: I know…shocking right? I mean, I expect everyone to show up early enough to the point where seat saving isn’t necessary, but I still accept it as part of the game. However, indicate the fact that you’re saving seats. Until the totality of your party arrives, sit one person at the end of the range, and you sit at the other end. (That brings up rule 6.1: Never save more than four seats by yourself. It’s for your own safety.) I don’t care if you bring a jacket for the specific purpose of saving a seat – bring it! I’ve seen all kinds of items used to indicate seat saving: hats, shoes, gloves, tub of popcorn, even a napkin for crying out loud. Just make it clear that those seats are out of play. Otherwise, people gotta yell or go halfway down the aisle and then turn around and go back when they fail.

7. Don’t add commentary to the movie, nobody cares: Oh they may laugh, but I guarantee you they’re just as upset that you disrupted the illusion. In the moment, you’re the comedian. Hours later, you’re the idiot who made me miss part of the movie.

8. Quit clapping: Beginning of a highly anticipated movie – okay. I’m not crazy about it, but at least I can understand that. I’ve been to three midnight showing thus far – the afore mentioned Avengers, Star Wars Episode III, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (All of which I loved!). At every one, people clapped when the movie began. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. Some people are just clappers. In my mind, what’s the point? There’s no one from the movie at this thing. And even if they were, they’re not gonna feel better about random applause at the beginning of the movie. They know you’re excited for the movie; you came to a midnight showing and showed up hours before the movie began.

Now at Star Wars and Pirates people at least the decency to minimize the clapping after the start. A few clapped when lightsabers first showed up and some when Johnny Depp made his first appearance. But at Avengers, it’s like people were trying to save Tinkerbell for two and a half hours. I mean every five minutes people were clapping. And if I hyperbolize, which I won’t concede I’m doing, I’m not off by that much. Come on folks, I’m trying to follow a plot here, and the movie doesn’t pause and wait for your to stop. I missed a really funny line but Robert Downey Jr., and I’m gonna have to wait months to find out what it was. I know, I know, it’s one line, why does it matter? Because I managed to pick up everything else! Maybe I’m a perfectionist or just annoying, I don’t know, but little things bug me. So please, clap when it’s all said and done if you must, but hold your applause ‘til the end.

All this talk about clapping at midnight showings reminds me of something else I tend to see a lot at midnight showings – costumes!

9. If you come in costume, you can’t get mad when people make fun of you: I’m a firm believer that if you open yourself to ridicule, then ridicule will come your way. When it does, you can’t lose your mind over it. I get it – you’re a Star Wars nerd: saw all the movies, prefer the originals and not the digitally enhanced ones, own them all on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and digital copy, read the books, went to conventions, bought the action figures, own a lightsaber that you act out scenes with, argue about who shot first: Han or Gredo (Love Clerks II by the way), and the list goes on and on. (For the record, I fit four of those criteria; I’ll let you ponder which ones.) But not everyone in the world connects to Star Wars in the same way you do, so don’t expect them to understand why someone would dress as a Wookie.

Of course, in a perfect world, no one would make fun of anyone, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of the general population is unwilling to make that sacrifice. I’m not saying people get to form a line in front of you to ridicule you mercilessly, but you still may hear the offhand comment. Laugh it off and move on. You’re there to enjoy the movie after all; don’t let someone else ruin it with their own problems.

 

I’m sure there’s more that I haven’t thought of, but this covers most of it. If you have anything to add, I’m all ears, but perspective is in the eye of the beholder. I know what I need to enjoy my movie, and all things considered, I don’t think the demands are too high.

 

Hope All is Well,

Patrick Kennedy

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For Those I Care Deeply To Whom Tragedy Has Befallen

It is not often that I know I must write about something. Typically, I know that I must write, but what I write about remains a mystery until I get into it. However, this time is different. Events transpire to provide clarity in a moment that might otherwise be lost.

 

A family that I know well has had tragedy befall them. They will soon lose a close member of the family. For my part, I have met this person a handful of times and know how important he is to those that love him. Death is unfortunately an unavoidable part of life. It is always difficult to deal with, and its mark never truly goes away. Yet, in time, many of us find comfort in the passing of others believing they have moved on to a better place. In any event, another truth that brings us comfort would be the fact that those people never truly leave us.

Peter Brooks is a literary critic. I first became familiar with his work in a Master’s class on American Literature. And when I heard a quote from his work, I found myself in a situation where I suddenly knew what I must write about. Brooks said that “all narration is obituary” which I considered in the context that narration is final resting place for an idea. Since we are talking about narration, clearly the idea is a story, and once the story is told, the idea dies in the head of the storyteller. While the reader can get a sense of the story through the reading, he/she can never truly get the full effect of the idea because the idea was not an original of the reader. Some things get lost in the telling of a story that doesn’t quite add up to the fullness of the story. This is the same for an obituary, which tries to get across the life an individual. Yet, when we read the obituary, we do not get the fullness of the life it describes. We get a strong sense of it, but not the totality.

Now, however, I further the idea when looking at what happens once the story is transcribed and kept for the future. When we read a story, we feel the spark of inspiration. For some, the spark inspires them to tell their own story. For some, the spark inspires them to tell the story to others around them. And for others, the spark merely inspires them to apply some lesson to their own lives. In any event, the idea lives on through the interaction with the story. On some level, in some way, we connect with the original concept presented to us and allow the idea to continue in us. The same can be said for the lives of those we love. We need not always read an obituary to remind ourselves of the individual; we simply must call forth the memories we have gathered. Though slightly different from a true obituary, those collections of memories become, in a sense, the obituary we write and keep in our minds.

And as each person keeps their own obituary with them, the inspiration sparks within them that will keep the person alive. Because of that, they remain with us forever and always. In time, this spark and this inspiration will pass on to another and another. Through this exchange, we become connected to each other, and each continues the inspiration that come from the world before us.

In truth, I knew little about the man. I gathered only enough memories to fill a few hours. But every time I look upon his loved ones, I see and develop a further understanding of the inspiration that has passed on from him to them. In that way, though he will move on, he will never be gone. The pain of this loss will lessen and fade away, never forgotten but eventually impotent. The sadness of the moment will pass, and life will provide us the opportunity to return to normalcy. But the spark of inspiration will ignite a fire that will burn for the rest of our lives to give us a joy and comfort that nothing can touch.

 

Hope All is Well,

Patrick Kennedy

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Reason #7

Side Note: I spent two days last week preparing for this post, but then the storms hit. A couple of twisters in your backyard really change your priorities. Now that I’m back on track and normalcy has reared its ugly head, I can get to it.

Every now and then I need a reminder of why I push this whole writing thing the way that I do. Granted, if it boiled down to it, I’d write to my heart’s contend for myself and myself alone, but I think I got a little more reason than that.

While most of the people that read my book are students at my school, there are some outside that small circle who have picked up the book as well. To date, I’ve heard nothing bad about the book, which is a positive, even if people haven’t had anything particularly positive to say about it. Nevertheless, I’ve signed a few books for a few fans outside the grand total of two book signings I’ve done. One in particular continues to be enough to keep me going even if I tire.

Most people don’t enjoy going to the dentist. I know there was a good four-year stretch when I wasn’t a fan of it – braces and such. Now the last few times, I’ve enjoyed the experience, but I needn’t divulge why save this one aspect.

My appointment was in the afternoon, so I drove from work to the dentist, typically a good forty minute drive, in thirty minutes so as to be on time. For that reason, I wasn’t paying much attention when I entered the lobby and signed the sign-in sheet. When I looked up, I was a little taken aback by the fact that all three ladies behind the desk were staring at me. Nothing against them personally, but I always get a little uncomfortable when coordinated staring occurs.

Finally, possibly sensing my anxiety, one of them motioned to the counter. Sitting there was a copy of my book!

That relaxed me to no end, now understanding that one of them purchased the book and then put it together that I was the author of the book. Call it arrogance if you will, but I could already sense a signing coming so I was thinking of dentistry puns to put in the book. I despise puns myself, but they tend to go over well. Besides, after the day of work, I was just trying to think of anything beyond the simple stuff.

In the meantime, one of the receptionists asked if I did write the book, and I confirmed that I did. Before I could say anything else, the receptionist closest to me explained that she didn’t own the book. Apparently, a girl from England came to stay with her and her family over the summer. The girl brought the book with her and had read the book several times already and was one of her favorites. So much so that the receptionist was about the send the book back to her. Then, she looked ahead on the schedule and saw that I was coming into the office for a checkup. To surprise this girl, the receptionist decided to have me sign the book before she sent it back.

I’ve signed just about every book that I personally have sold whether it was asked for or not. I always enjoy putting a little bit more of myself into the book. This one was a little different because of what it did for me. To know that my book, my story has reached places I haven’t even gone to yet is part of the reason I wanted to do this in the first place. Even if it’s only happened for one girl, that’s a whole lot more than I could have hoped for.

So thank you Chelsea from England, whichever one you are. You are one of the reasons that I continue to write.

Hope All is Well,

Patrick Kennedy

Posted in Publishing, Writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments