Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Random Thought for a Random Day ...

This week, instead of an Eddie/Kurt/Layne comic, I decided to do a “Random Memories” one. There are two reasons for this, one is because I haven’t done one in awhile and the other, I will get to in a bit.

Of all the strips that I have done (this is my 20th), the ones that get the most feedback are the Random Memories. I’m not sure why, but they seem to resonate most with the people who read the strip. In fact, I was thinking of focusing solely on them, but I think they’re a dish best served once in awhile … like cookie dough ice cream.

There’s cookie dough ice cream on the web now? Really? Let me see … Uhmm, sorry Sport, there isn’t any real ice cream on the web, just a lame comparison between a comic strip and America’s favorite frozen dairy product. If you want to check out the virtual ice cream though, be my guest at www.room19comics.com

Anyhow, I’ve been telling this story for years, so if you’ve known me for long enough, chances are that you’ve heard it before. The thing is people seem to dig it, so I’m more than happy to illustrate for this page. The best part is that this is a true story, though I’ve made Buck a bit more of a blowhard than he really was.

A couple of quick things about the freshman baseball team:

We had about 30 guys on the team at the beginning of the year and we whittled it down to about 27 by the last game. And that wasn’t because of cuts, the town that I grew up in, Amesbury, MA, had a rule that no one can get cut off a team. So, just about half the boys in my grade went out. Like I said, three or four got knew that they sucked and they quit, but the rest of us stayed on, hanging out and playing ball.

The problem was, we all sucked. And since there were so many guys on the team, there were times when our focus was lacking. This caused us to do a bunch of stupid stuff that pissed Buck off to no end. There was one kid (who actually was our best pitcher) who would leave in the middle of practice, run across the street to buy a bag of donuts and then come back to tempt us with them. He would stand behind a fence and say, “Who wants a jelly? Who wants a crueller?”

It was like we never saw food before, the practice would stop and everyone would run over to the fence literally begging for a donut. Buck would go insane, calling us “Fucking Ethiopians” and start peppering the fence with frozen ropes (he was in the Brewer’s minor league system for a few years prior to this and could hit the ball harder than anyone I had ever seen). This would send us all scattering back to our positions.

It’s not as if Buck was completely blameless in these stories. Buck loved to chew tobacco, just loved it. He always had a chaw in his mouth, and he regularly gave dips out to anyone on the team that asked for it. Especially to our backup shortstop who’d take a dip, swallow the juice and puke behind the backstop. He did this three or four times, and every time Buck would laugh like a maniac.

This one day my friend Ray Arthur and I were playing catch in the outfield, Buck comes up to us, “Arthur, Magrane … you wanna dip?” We said no and he said, without missing a beat, “You guys are fucking pussies.” The thing is, he was probably right, but at that time in my life I wasn’t planning on ingesting any sort of tobacco product, drinking alcohol or doing any kind of drugs. Less than six months later, I fell off that wagon.

Also, Buck loved making the fattest kid on the team run. I mean, this literally brought an ear-to-ear grin to his face. At the end of every practice, he’d hit everyone a pop up. After we shagged it, we were to run in and stand next to him as he hit another teammate a pop up. By chance one day, the fat kid on our team (Derek Garvey, who was jut morbidly obese and an all-around dick) was the last kid to get a pop up. Buck looked at the rest of the team and with a huge smile said, “Watch me make the fat fuck run.”

With that, he launched a ball into orbit that had to go over 320 feet on the fly and continued to roll for another 100-120 feet. There was no fence in right field, so the ball just kept going and going. As Garvey ran, the rest of us just laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. It really couldn’t have happened to a nice person. Anyway, he stopped coming to practice after that.

As things happen in life, I saw Buck about 10 years later at the local gym. He was still living in Amesbury (less than a half mile from my folks) and was a real nice guy. He came up to me and asked me if I was Byron Magrane and wondered if I remembered him. Of course I did, you don’t forget a dude like that. We talked a lot about the old team and he’d always laugh when I brought up a story and he was seemed interested in where everyone ended up in life.

I saw him a bunch of times over the next few months to a year and he always said hello and stopped to chat. He was a pretty cool guy to talk to and looking back, he was a cool guy to play ball for.

Oh yeah, the other reason why I went with a Random Memory instead of the normal cast of characters. Last week I really screwed the pooch on the strip. Everything was too small, from the layout to the wording … people didn’t know what was said, what Eddie was doing in the first panel (for the record, he was slamming his fist into his open palm) and the whole thing was a mess. And despite checking the spelling of Nietzsche three fucking times, I still spelled it wrong in the strip.

I’m sorry for posting a craptastic cartoon last week. I tried to hype it up a bit in last week’s Blog entry, but I guess it just didn’t work. I guess we’re allowed to have a clunker every now and then, and that was mine. Trust me, this week’s strip is much better. And I’m sorry if you’re new the site and that was your introduction … read the archives and stick around for the next few weeks and you will definitely see better pieces.

Before I forget, beginning on Friday, I will be in San Antonio, so unless I have a computer in my hotel room, there is absolutely no way I’m going to be able to update this space. Next Tuesday, I’ll be home for about five hours before I go to class, so hopefully, I will have a longer entry then.

And if you’re really looking for long entries, check out last Wednesday’s entry where I review five books … it’s really pretty good.