The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Corny ball games

Chicago's minor-league White Sox will play the New York Yankees tomorrow at a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark adjacent to the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa:

The Sox and Yankees begin a three-game series in the most unusual of locations. Thursday’s game will be played at a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark on the Dyersville farm where the Academy Award-nominated 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed.

“I was raised to embrace the history of the game,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said Tuesday. “Too often we lose parts of it. We should do a better job and we should do that.

“ ‘Field of Dreams’ is a great movie, embraces all about family and (what) the game is all about. A very special opportunity. Our guys are really excited to be there. I’ve seen some of the comments already. Should be a great day for the White Sox.”

This will be the first major-league game ever played in Iowa.

Journalism error on NPR

Yesterday, Boston University clinical journalism instructor and WGBH-Boston reporter Jenifer McKim presented a story on NPR's Morning Edition about Grindr, the gay dating app. NPR's Steve Inskeep introduced the story by saying "the dating app Grindr is a popular site for men seeking other men. It's also used by underage boys, which can put them at risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking."

Between that introduction and the body of the story, I got pretty steamed. This morning I sent the following comment to NPR:

I have serious problems with the way Jenifer McKim presented this story. Principally, despite the quote from Jack Turban that "gay people aren't more likely to be sexual predators than straight people," the story heavily implies the opposite. McKim's bookending the story with quotes from assault victim German Chavez sets it up as a story about abused children, strongly implying that gay dating app Grindr is to blame (and also implying that gay men are to blame). Yet Chavez admitted that he lied about his age to circumvent Grindr's age policy, and Kathryn Macpagal even says "there aren't a lot of spaces for LGBT teens online to make friends." It seems that the problem is a lack of safe spaces for gay teens, not an app explicitly marketed to adults with strictly enforced age policies.

Further, in the graf immediately following that quote from Macpagal, McKim blows all the homophobic dog whistles, saying "over 100 men...includ[ing] police officers, priests and teachers" have "faced charges...related to sexually assaulting or attempting to meet minors for sex on Grindr." This is exactly the language that conservative groups use to vilify gays and dating apps in general.

Of course I am not downplaying the harms of sexual assault and predation on minors. But I think McKim had an obligation to put the incidence of those harms in proper context. Start with the proportion of one hundred men out of millions of Grindr users. Of the 100, how many were "police officers, priests and teachers?" How many were journalists or BU professors? How many were convicted? In how many cases was it determined that the minors in question lied about their ages? Did Grindr cooperate with the investigations? What proportion of the cases were assaults, and what proportion were "attempt[s] to meet minors?" And what proportion of Tinder users, or OKCupid users, or FarmersD users for that matter, were police, priests, or teachers (assuming McKim meant "or" and meant to include the Oxford comma) accused of crimes against children directly related to their use of the app?

I applaud McKim's ongoing efforts to protect children. But the structure, presentation, and tone of her story yesterday did not live up to the standards for accuracy and against sensationalism that I expect from NPR or WGBH-Boston.

I'll post any reply from NPR, WGBH, or McKim that I receive.

About that Cubs fire sale

As of June 11th, the Cubs were tied for first place. That turned out to have been the high point of 2021. The nadir arrived over the weekend when the organization perpetrated the "biggest 24-hour roster dump in franchise history," according to the Chicago Tribune:

The Cubs entered the Brewers series hitting .186 in June, the fourth-lowest average of any team in any calendar month.

After beating the Cubs 13-2 in the opening game of the homestand, again with Sogard pitching in relief, the Philadelphia Phillies knocked out Arrieta in the second inning of Game 2, taking a 7-0 lead in a 15-10 win.

The Cubs lost 11 straight, their longest skid since a 12-game streak in 2012, the first year of the rebuild. They finally ended the streak on July 7, and one day later Hoyer announced his plans had changed in the previous 11 days.

Joc Pederson was dealt to the Atlanta Braves before the opening game of the second half, igniting the sell-off. Tepera was traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 29, and Rizzo was sent to the New York Yankees after that day’s game with the Reds. 

Bryant, Báez and Kimbrel were all gone in the final hours before the July 30 trade deadline — and the last hurrah was over. TV cameras caught Bryant in the dugout of Nationals Park in an emotional embrace with hitting coach Anthony Iapoce.

It took only 11 days for the Cubs to destroy a season that seemed to have so much promise and less than 24 hours for Hoyer to dismantle the core.

I remember the San Diego Padres having a similar purge in the 1990s. It took them a very long time to recover.

Oh well. It's just business, right?

MyGrain Brewing Co., Joliet

Welcome to stop #49 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: MyGrain Brewing., 50 E. Jefferson St., Joliet
Train line: Heritage Corridor or Rock Island, Joliet
Time from Chicago: 70 minutes (Zone H)
Distance from station: At the station

One of the subtle (to American audiences, anyway) bits of satire in Simon Pegg's 2013 movie The World's End is the sameness of the pubs that the characters visit. They have the same faux-handwriting, faux-chalk menu boards; the same layouts; the same food; the same prefabricated vibe. I have experienced this sorrow as well, when the lovely Blackbird in Earls Court got hollowed out in 2019 and became just like every other corporatized pub in London.

As I did at Emmett's in Palatine, and at Ten Ninety in Glenview, upon walking into MyGrain last Friday I felt...nothing. The servers, all of them just old enough to serve alcohol but not old enough to remember a world before Facebook, seemed friendly enough, even as they missed things like my request for a glass of water with my beer. Or silverware with my hamburger. (The food was fiiiiine.) They did let me charge my phone, though. That was nice.

While watching the US Women's Soccer team beat the Netherlands in penalty kicks to win the quarterfinal, I tried a 9-ounce Service Dog New England IPA (7.3%, 50 IBU) and a 16-ounce Pincher's Pale APA (5.7%, 60 IBU), both of which were fiiiine. They were well-designed, focus-group-tested, inoffensive, and utterly boring examples of the styles.

I get that opening a restaurant inside a large space under railroad tracks has a lot of risk in and of itself. I just wish that restauranteurs would sometimes stray, just a little, from the most-average-customer's tastes and try something interesting. But they didn't, so I finished my beers and my hamburger and checked to see if the 7:30 return train was on time.

Except there is no 7:30 return train. There's a 7:15 and an 8:30. So I wound up having another pint of Pincher's (still just fiiiiine) and watching the USA-Japan women's basketball game with half an eye, reading my book, and forgetting that I would arrive at LaSalle Street Station just as a million teenagers wearing inappropriate clothes would leave Lollapalooza and board the El I needed to take home.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? Everywhere, unavoidable
Serves food? Full menu (it's fiiiiine)
Would hang out with a book? No
Would hang out with friends? No
Would go back? No

Welcome to August

While I look out my hermetically-sealed office window at some beautiful September weather in Chicago (another argument for working from home), I have a lot of news to digest:

And finally, Jakob Nielsen explains to web designers as patiently as possible why pop-ups piss off users.

On this day...

Fifty years ago today, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar put on the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden:

It was the first major charity concert of its kind — the Concert for Bangladesh. In that corner of South Asia, civil war, cyclone and floods had created a humanitarian disaster.

"There are six million displaced Bengalis, most of them suffering from malnutrition, cholera and also other diseases that are the result of living under the most dehumanizing conditions," former All Things Considered host Mike Waters reported in July of 1971.

The situation was deeply personal for Indian musician Ravi Shankar, a sitar virtuoso, whose family came from the region. So, Shankar reached out to a close friend, former Beatle George Harrison.

He marveled at the astonishing roster Harrison was able to attract. "You have a Beatle — two Beatles in fact — that you have Ringo Starr as well. You have Bob Dylan," Thomson says. "None of these people had played live particularly much in the preceding years. So, that was an event in itself. You have a stellar backing band, people like Eric Clapton." Including, of course, Shankar on the sitar.

What they did end up making went to UNICEF. That weekend alone raised around $240,000. Millions more came later, as a result of the subsequent album and movie, all with the goal of helping refugees.

And exactly ten years later, MTV was born. (And I still have a crush on Martha Quinn.)

Elder Brewing Company, Joliet

Welcome to stop #48 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Elder Brewing Co.., 218 E. Cass Ave., Joliet
Train line: Heritage Corridor or Rock Island, Joliet
Time from Chicago: 70 minutes (Zone H)
Distance from station: 500 m

Joliet: the end of two train lines. Home of the Big House, the Sting, and a weird little brewery that I will make a point of visiting again.

When Andrew Polykandriotis opened Elder Brewing in 2017, he saw the brewery as a part of the push to revitalize downtown Joliet. You can see from the photo above that Joliet still has a way to go, though. No matter: he's created an inviting space with friendly people.

I only planned to have one beer so that I could get food at the other Joliet brewery, so I chose the Poly's Revenge APA (5.5%), one of the first beers Polykandriotis brewed. (The "revenge" is on all the people who predicted the brewery would fail.) It was great: nicely balanced, not too hoppy, clean, and flavorful.

The dog-friendly taproom has free popcorn and a library of old VHS tapes that they will happily play on the TV over the bar. A couple of patrons had just started The Little Mermaid when I came in. They also have a rack of menus if you want to order in from the local restaurants (a rib joint nearby looked like a good bet), and board games for all ages.

With a minor-league ball park a block away and easy access on Metra, I might make a day of it in Joliet at some point. Elder Brewing will be on the agenda.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Televisions? One, avoidable
Serves food? Only popcorn (free!)
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes

Imperial Oak Brewing, Willow Springs

Welcome to stop #47 on the Brews and Choos project.

Brewery: Imperial Oak Brewing., 501 Willow Rd., Willow Springs
Train line: Heritage Corridor, Willow Springs
Time from Chicago: 32 minutes (Zone D)
Distance from station: 100 m

It is very important to remember, if you plan to visit either of the breweries along Metra's Heritage Corridor line, that they run only three trains only from Chicago on weekday afternoons, and none to Chicago. So when I visited Imperial Oak Brewing yesterday, I took the first train towards Willow Springs, ensuring that I could get from Willow Springs to Joliet on either the second or third trains, and not have to figure out how to get home some other way. I didn't price a Lyft from Willow Springs to the next-nearest Metra station, but I imagine it would have cost quite a lot.

Once you get to Willow Springs, the first thing you see getting off the train will be the brewery, and its large and quiet patio. It felt a little like a country pub in England, surrounded by trees with almost no car traffic except for the few on the Willow Springs Road bridge overhead.

I tried four 5-ounce pours while sitting at one of those picnic tables with a book.

The 'Merica American Stout (center, 6.2%, 50 IBU) gave me some unexpected hoppiness, with good chocolate and caramel notes. I found it pretty bold for a stout, with a nice long finish. The Crank It Hop Citra-Mosaic IPA (right, 6%, 50 IBU) tasted excessively hoppy for my taste, but crisp and clean (and no caffeine!), and a good example of the style. The just-released Roundabout Hybrid Pale (left, 5.4%) was my favorite, with a good balance, some grapefruit notes from the Citra hops, and a crisp finish. I also tried the Udderly Black Milk Stout (not pictured; 5.3%, 20 IBU), which I found kind of bland after the hoppier guys I tried earlier. I did cleanse with potato chips and water, but the milk stout just didn't do it for me.

Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Outside only
Televisions? Two at the bar, avoidable
Serves food? No, but food trucks stop by
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes