Coke bottle eerily relevant–again

My son and I went on a baseball trip to middle-of-nowhere West Virginia a couple of weeks ago.

A lovely–but remote–little American town with nothing (much) but a baseball diamond and a general store. I’m sure the residents would argue that there isn’t “nothing” there but I’m also sure they would agree with me that in this context, there is “nothing” there. One of them even jokingly referred to it as “Hicksville.”

Anyway, the mom of a boy on my son’s team said, “Did you notice that your son’s name is on a Coke bottle in the general store?”

Now, my son doesn’t have a common name. In fact, I’ve only heard of a couple of other kids with his name. And yet there, in the middle of a very small town in WV, in a general store, in a back refrigerator, on a Coke bottle … there it was.

Oh, and I gave it to Bennett in the dugout (he was finished playing for that game) and predictably, he drank it and threw away the bottle. Luckily, anticipating this, I had taken a photo of the bottle before giving it to him.

Deja Vu All Over Again
You may recall that I’ve had a similarly eerie Coke bottle experience with my novel, Sliding Home. You can read the whole post here, but essentially, I put a some money in a vending machine on Centre Island (!) and out popped a Diet Coke with my novel’s exact title on it. I didn’t even notice until I was about half-way through drinking it.

So, thanks, Coke, for narrating my life in a really weird way.

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The missing pigeon section

Photo by Paul Hum

Photo by Paul Hum

Here’s the part with the pigeon, which was cut for length.

I was using the pigeon to break up the tension of the big fight between Gnash and Jock–sort of like cutting to Gabby Hayes, standing in the doorway of the saloon during a gunfight in the Old West.

CHAPTER 5: SHORT BENCH
The voices died down and became silent. The crunch of shoes on the dry in-field dirt and far-off curses and laughter from the soccer players were the only sounds in the Pits, as the baseball crowd looked towards Jock and Gnash at centre field.

A grey speckled pigeon, stabbing with his beak at a cigarette butt in the dirt behind home plate, turned its nervous, darting, pin-prick eyes on the scene.

Coop took off his baseball cap and ran his fingers through his sweaty faux hawk, and then tamped the cap back down onto his head.

And then, in a sudden outburst, Gnash angrily threw his glove onto the ground, wound up with his foot and gave the glove a kick that sent it flying towards third base.

“Seriously?” asked Jock, rhetorically. And then he added in a squeaky sing-song taunt, “and is that how we treat our equipment?”

“Shut up!” yelled Gnash, his face beet red. “Shut up! Shut up!”

Gnash launched himself toward the much taller boy, charging at him with his head down like an angry goat. Jock was caught off-guard by the attack, and soon he was on his back on the ground with his glove over his face, covered by Gnash who was landing blows anywhere he could find a soft spot.

The dugout cleared as the entire team ran to pull the boys apart. They converged on the dust-up, each boy grabbing a limb or a piece of jersey and yelling at the two to stop fighting.

With a furious flutter of its wings, the old pigeon scrambled up the hill behind the home-plate fence, cigarette butt clenched in its tiny beak, desperate to flee the angry scene.

You do remember Gabby Hayes, right?

Gabby_hayes

 

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The “Tagged Out” pigeon returns!

In an early draft of Tagged Out, there was a curmudgeonly pigeon. He got cut for length, but editor Kat Mototsune and I still miss him.

In fact, when we got together a couple of days ago, we talked about him. How much we liked him but, alas, how he had to go (it was the right editorial decision).

Toronto Playgrounds is the league that plays in Christie Pits. This is truly life imitating art.

Photo: Paul Hum.

Photo: Paul Hum.

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When characters do their own thing…

playground-children-pixabayI’m writing a scene for my baseball novel, Home Team.

In the scene, Miguel is babysitting a boy in the playground. He stops to talk to someone else, and when he’s distracted, the child runs away.

But here’s the thing. The kid did that on his own–nowhere in my synopsis or chapter outline does it say, “the boy runs away.” He just took off!

So now I need to write a scene where my main character looks for him.

Kids, these days! Sheesh!

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Baseball at the Ontario Summer Games

Photo: Allen Gou, Summer Games

Photo: Allen Gou, Summer Games

One of the reasons I wrote Tagged Out is that my son has played baseball practically since he could walk. In the summer, our entire family lives at the baseball diamond.

For many years, that diamond was at Christie Pits, where Tagged Out is set (and he still umps there). This year, he joined the Hamilton Cardinals Bantam Elite team and they were given a great opportunity–to participate in the Ontario Summer Youth Games in Mississauga. They had an incredible time, and took home the bronze.

Congratulations to all of the competitors — and yes, my next baseball book will include some scenes that happened right on the field during the Games!

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Pitching Coach Ryan “Army” Armstrong recommends Tagged Out

Ryan "Army" Armstrong

Ryan “Army” Armstrong

“Kids will enjoy this fun read, packed with baseball action. And hey, if this team ever needs a pitching coach (and it definitely does!) I’d be happy to step in.”

-Ryan (Army) Armstrong, Silver Medallist, 2001 Canada Summer Games and Head Pitching Instructor, The Baseball Zone, Mississauga, ON.

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Get the best seat on the bus — tips from Domingo Ayala

At some point, you’re going to go on a road trip. The great baseball coach Domingo Ayala tells you everything you need to know–about getting the best seat on the bus.

Check out the other hilarious videos on Domingo Ayala’s website: http://domingobeisbol.com/

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