my august 2009 mix..

Ok… I’ve been meaning to make a podcast out of this, but.. I’m lazy. So, here’s just the tracks..

clicky clicky: dennis’ august 2009 mix.

It opens with Lisztomania, by Phoenix, which you may recognize from the Brooklyn ratpack video that I posted awhile back. Damn, I love this song, it just gets me in a good mood every time. Cool in the Cool Way is a local band here in SF, made up of a bunch of my brother’s CMU classmates. Its video ironically bashes hipsters, which, in and of itself, is kind of inherently hipster. (Whoa, how meta.)

Moth’s Wings, by Passion Pit, and Velvet, by The Big Pink are two tracks that I found whilst listening to my favorite XM station, XMU. I still think that it was better when Toby was around, but whoever is running it now is getting better at finding good stuff. Except the lazy-voiced dude in the mornings. I can’t stand him.

Any one of my mixes is bound to be sprinkled with a liberal dose of female folky indie chicks, and this one is no exception. Blue Lips is one of my favorite tracks off Regina Spektor’s newest album, Far, and Bitter Heart by Zee Avi is a lovely tune sent to me by my friend Jason, who knows I’m a fan of this genre.

Definitely check out Blue Motorbike, by Moto boy, who I found through my work at Techdirt — we’re featuring some great things from Moto boy in the Techdirt Music Club that we’re currently selling, so go check that out. And buy it.

I was introduced to The Real Tuesday Weld by the movie Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist — their song, Last Words, was in the movie, and from there, and this track, It’s a Wonderful Li(f)e has that same dreamy, hopeful yet melancholy quality that I loved in Last Words. If you’re a fan of Indie music and Michael Cera, you should definitely go see Nick & Norah.

Quiet Little Voices is an epic post-rocky track from We Were Promised Jetpacks, from Scotland. Thick, luscious sound. Good. Hat tip to my friend, Ali, for this one. Kettering by the Antlers seemed to continue the epic tone that WWPJ had set, so I threw that in here as well. Closing out the triplet, and bringing us nicely back into a happier, lighter land, is Andrew Bird with Take Courage.

From there, Landon Pigg paints a light hearted picture of Falling In Love At A Coffee Shop — although if you’ve been to a coffee shop lately, I don’t know if that can really happen anymore, since everyone there seems engrossed in their laptops nowadays.

Wee.. music. Love it.


I just found another track that I’m going to add.. She & Him’s cover of the Smiths song, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want. Zooey is da awesomes.

oops.. i hurt my knee. but i got it fixed.

Well… This post has been a long time coming, but now that I’m on the road to recovery, I thought I’d share what me and my knee have been through in the past few months..

So.. on Saturday, June 13th, I had one of the most fabulous baseball days of my illustrious baseball career — playing the inmates at San Quentin. And yes, had I gotten hurt at *that* game, maybe this story would be even more bad ass. But, unless I do some revisionist history, I came back from that game with everything intact.

Anyway, Sunday came along, and my regularly scheduled baseball game was on.. this time at the field in Oakland. It was a decent field, the sun was shining, another fabulous day for baseball. Midway through the 7th inning or so, I went up to bat.. no outs, men on 1st and 2nd, and we were up by 1, I think.. So I decided to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Little did I know it would be sacrifice in the truest sense of the word.

The pitch came, a slow curve falling in for a strike. I squared up, and laid down a beautiful bunt down the 3rd base line. I bolted for first, and put my head down, thinking that I might actually be able to reach first base safely.

The throw came into first high and outside, so the first baseman jumps up to get the ball, and just as I get to the base, he lands on the bag a split second before I get there. Seeing him right in front of me, I cut right, and as I cut right, I land on the bag with my right foot.


I don’t remember whether or not I actually collided with the first baseman or not, but what I do remember was looking down at my knee as I hit the base, and seeing it give way. And then hearing the noise. I hit the ground, more pissed off that (a) I was out, and (b) that I hurt myself again. Argh. Not again. Fecking hell.

I rolled around the ground for about 5 minutes in pain. And then.. the pain stopped. Hmm. awesome.. maybe I’m ok? Maybe my knee is fixed! And everything is ok? Knee doesn’t swell up, so that’s a good sign, right?

Anyway, I was carried off the field to the dugout, where I sat out the remaining part of the game. We lost in the bottom of the 9th inning, to a game-losing 2-out bloop single. That was the perfect ending to cap an already crappy day.

I went to see Dr. Wingfield the next day, and she confirmed my worst fears. Ruptured ACL, with possibly some damage to the meniscus. Great. The reason that my knee didn’t swell? I had wrenched my knee with such force such that I tore the knee capsule, which meant that all of the blood from the rupture was able to leak down the side of my leg. (Aha, that explains the bruising on my calf). Eww. Crap. Well, that sucks.

The next day, my new bat arrives in the mail. A slightly used Mizuno MZP55, just like what Matsui and Ichiro wield. Oh, the irony.

A few more days pass, and Dr. Wingfield schedules me for an MRI. Hmm.. will the hardware that I have in my ankle be a problem? The MRI technician assures me that it’s far enough away that it won’t affect the image. The MRI safety videos that I watched on YouTube the night before flash across my memory as the huge behemoth of a machine whirrs to life. I feel a slight tugging on my ankle’s hardware during the MRI — a little creepy and a little cool at the same time. Oooo.. Cool. Magnets.

dr wingfield looks concerned.

I see the concerned look on Dr. Wingfield’s face as she reviews my MRI.

It looks like ham.

I don’t know if doctors sit at home in front of the mirror practicing that “I’m very concerned, yet trying not to absolutely freak you out so I’ll look a little hopeful” look, but I think she has it down pat. She points out on the MRI where my ACL *should* be and shows me what looks to be some damage to the lateral meniscus.. In addition, I had a non displaced fracture and a good deal of bone bruising.

“Are you sure you didn’t do this playing football?” she asks, “you did quite a number on your knee.”

Great. I’m an overachiever.

I get home, and since I can’t do much of anything anyway, commence a massive amount of internet research about knees and knee surgery.

With the broken ankle, I made ZERO decisions — I was rushed into surgery the morning after my injury, but with an ACL injury, you have to wait until the knee settles down until you decide whether or not to do the repair.. and even then, you don’t necessarily *need* an ACL to function. My dad tore his ACL (coincidentally, also at age 33, playing ball, at first base), and never got it repaired — and he’s been fine. Granted, he stopped doing a lot of sports and had to wear a big huge knee brace after that, but he’s been fine.

So I had to decide whether or not to get the surgery. But, since I do plan on continuing to be active at a high level (yes I intend to continue to play baseball) — and I do want to keep snowboarding, I decided to get the surgery.

And, since this time around, I have a PPO instead of Kaiser, I actually have physician choice. Is it better this way? Maybe in the long run, but man.. in the short term, I was faced with a TON of questions and stress. Which doctor should I use? When should I schedule my surgery? What kind of graft do I want? Ack! So many decisions!

Being that ACL reconstruction is the most common orthopedic surgery, there’s a TON of information out there on the internets. Man, what did people do before the internet? Go to the library? Make decisions without doing research ad nauseum? Scary. A little information is a good thing, right? KneeGuru was very helpful, and this YouTube animation of an ACL reconstruction was awesome in understanding what the surgery would entail.

I decided to go with Dr. Kenneth Akizuki at SOAR. Two of my close friends, Alan and Dana have seen him and highly recommend him. His Yelp reviews are stellar. although, frankly, that was a little off putting since I take all Yelp reviews with a grain of salt.. I chose an achilles allograft — Dr. Akizuki seemed to recommend that choice, and thinking about it practically, it seemed like a better idea to get a big tendon like the achilles rather than take one from my own patella or hamstring. And, since I already tore one of my own tendons, perhaps mine aren’t that great to begin with..

The surgery went well. Dr. A gives me the good news: I can weight bear, as tolerated. Crap. I know what that means as he delivers the bad news: he had to cut out about 1/3 of my lateral meniscus. I think I needed that.

I made a nice little video from the arthroscopic footage that Dr. A gave me. C’mon.. I know you want to watch it. I even set it to some nice, hopeful music.

After surgery, I was sent home with some pretty sexy looking leg wear, compression stockings to prevent swelling and embolisms. And, they gave me fancy machines that would keep my leg moving for 4-8 hours a day and nice and icy cold.

PT started a week after my surgery, and I’ve been going to Active Care on Geary. PT at Active Care is a chaotic melee of ballet dancers, weekend warriors, and old people, all running (or limping) around in various stages of repair. Lisa and Cort have been absolutely fantastic through this whole ordeal.

Apparently, when you hurt your knee, your quad degenerates very quickly — and even though I’d only been off it for about a month, my right quad was visibly smaller than my left. Furthermore, I wasn’t even using it when I walked, so PT is basically strengthening the quad, and then re-training you how to walk.

It’s a very strange thing to have to consciously *think* about every step you take.

Lift right leg. Swing it forward. Tense up the right quad. Step.

It’s a very deliberate thing, but after a few days of doing it, I started to remember how to walk again.

Are there any silver linings to hobbling myself?

The disabled placard is nice (don’t forget to ask your doctor for the signed form) — in addition to parking in the blue spots, you’re also able to park at meters in SF without having to pay for them. Although, I’d *much* rather just be able to bike where I’m going, obvs.

And, when you get hurt, your awesome friends and family are super nice to you and cook you things and bring you things. Thanks Everyone!!!!! You guys are the BEST.

And yes, Percocet is pleasant. But don’t forget to eat your prunes.

And finally, driving around costco in a scooter is kind of fun:
scooting around costco

Today is my 19th day since surgery, and I’m finally walking without crutches. Albeit slowly, but it’s a start.

Here’s to running and hopping and dancing and playing on my new knee soon.

playing baseball at san quentin

I’ve been meaning to write this up for awhile now.. and finally am now.

So, on Saturday, June 13th, I had one of the best baseball days of my life. We traveled to San Quentin (yes, the prison) to play the inmates. It was an awesome and surreal experience, and one that I will not soon forget. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to bring any cameras inside the prison, so I have no photos from the game itself, but I do have this shot from outside the prison gates.

san quentin parking lot.. getting ready for the baseball game.

Nestled on a gorgeous piece of bay front property (probably worth boatloads of $$$ even in today’s lagging real estate market), San Quentin is an old, creepy, scary kind of place. Built in 1852, it’s the oldest prison in the state, the gate that we walked through looked clearly like it was built in a different era, all old and rusty yet imposingly sturdy.

We walk into the prison with the organizer of the prison baseball program, who gives us an informal tour. He points out the new hospital and the building where inmates get sent for “correction.” (shudder) Towards the top of one of the buildings is kind of a caged balcony area — death row. We walk around the perimeter of the prison over to the baseball field, which is right in middle of the exercise yard. Already, the inmate team is warming up, most of them are dressed in blue jeans with denim shirts.

One of the big rules of San Quentin was that non-inmates are not allowed to wear blue shirts or blue pants, to avoid us getting mistaken for an inmate. Yah.. fine by me. That said, aside from guards at the gate, and a guard visible in one of the towers, I didn’t feel an overwhelming guard presence at all. If it were not for the 40 foot high walls surrounding the yard, this baseball field didn’t seem that different than other ones that I’ve played at.

About 20 minutes after we started warming up, someone arrived with the jerseys for the inmate team. Immediately they all began changing into their black and yellow uniforms — no need for locker rooms here. Even the urinals were out in the open — they were these grey plastic structures standing off to the side of the dugout. The exercise yard started filling in with more inmates, some walking or jogging around the yard, some just hanging out near the corners. A group of them gathered at the scoreboard in center field, a classic, hand-operated deal that the inmates themselves constructed in the prison workshop. Cool. 4 umpires came on the field, all inmates. I don’t think I’ve ever played a game with 4 umpires and a fully operated scoreboard. Cool.

The inmates were all very courteous and friendly — most of them are lifers and from the ones that I chatted with, the average amount that they’ve been inside was about 15-20 years.. There was one guy that was exactly my age, and he had been in prison since he was 18. The heckling from the inmates during the game was chiding and friendly, all part of the game.

The game itself was pretty solid — their pitcher pitched well, and we played a clean game. At one point, a siren went off and immediately all of the inmates sat down on the ground. I was coaching third base at the time (near the inmate dugout), so looking around at all of the seated inmates, I sat down too.

Seeing me sit down, one of the inmates shouts out “Hey! You ain’t gotta sit down, you’re wearing red!” To which another retorts, “He just don’t wanna get shot!”

Yah. Not getting shot would be great.

We won the game 7-4.

It was a great day, something very different than my usual Saturday. If you want to learn more about baseball at San Quentin, there’s a documentary about it called Bad Boys of Summer.

i love ohio themed clothing.

I just bought this Ohio t-shirt from HOMAGE.
Ohio T Shirt

I was pointed to this by fellow ohioan Ali, who recently gave me a shout-out for pointing her towards campfire goods, a couple of t-shirt guys in akron, with a ton of midwest-themed clothing — I have their midwesterner tshirt.

I’m a sucker for any bicycle-themed or ohio-themed piece of clothing.

Man, if someone were to come out with some sort of “I Bicycle in Ohio” t-shirt, I think I might instantaneously combust with excitement.