Good morning, Folly followers. I have a bit of a humpday hangover today, not bad, at least not yet. Well-earned, though. I went with my chums to the Old Europe restaurant for the first meeting of our International Dinner Club (foreigners welcome).

“Old Europe” means “Germany” at this place, so there was wurst and sausage all around. I had the vegetable platter, which was as hearty as a vegetable platter can be. Saurkraut and picked red cabbage and potato and, um, spatzel and things. Get yourselves some spatzel, chirren.

The hangover is on account of the liter of beer, their Oktoberfest special. Nothing makes me feel willkommen quite like being served a liter of beer. Long live the metric system! And could we dim the lights just a bit?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a job.

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My face, after about three and a half days of not-shaving, is just right. Revel with me in my scratchiness. Skritch your nails along my chin as you think, and all will become clearer.

See, the practice of not-shaving brings one closer to the truth of anatman, or no-self, a Buddhist notion having to do with the transience of the ego. Shaving, you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, scrutinizing your face, being careful, and polishing up the appearance you present to the world as yourself. Or something. Could be I’m just lazy, but I’m sticking with this anatman thing, going for a low-grade enlightenment of scruffiness.

Hey, Smith, where’d you learn a fancy Sanskrit word like that?

School, y’all.

I was nineteen before I ever saw an ocean because I was raised in Tennessee by Hoosier parents. When I was younger, the destination for every road trip and vacation was a cluster of little towns that orbit Indianapolis. Taken together, Fortville, Carmel and Zionsville comprise the Land of My Ancestors. So every Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer the Smiths made our I-65 pilgrimage.

The best thing about this trip happens in Kentuckiana. (Smith, are you making up that word?) The bridge across the Ohio River from Louisville into Indiana is called the John F. Kennedy bridge because it was finished at the same time as the president. I’ve always loved the bridge. It’s ugly but beautiful, made of chunky, peeling girders that dip and rise like a child’s drawing of water.

Why do I bring this up? ‘Cause look what I found! Next time you’re in Louisville, drive across it and back a few times and tell me what you think.

I don’t know baseball or chess very well, but they’re fascinating. I don’t care enough about baseball to follow it through a season, but it’s growing on me, and I dig the post season tension. And I love good baseball writing for some reason. Baseball fiction, too. Ever read The Natural by Malamud? Summerland by Chabon? It’s a rich theme, and that richness permeates the current pennant races, which are starting to get to me. A Cubs-Red Sox underdog series would be just beautiful. I got World Series fever! This will end if neither the Cubs nor the Sox make it. Marlins? Eh. Young team, no folklore in them. Yankees? Seen it.

Chess writing is not exciting. Of course I don’t have a favorite chess player. I never really played it until about two years ago, when suddenly something clicked in my understanding of the game and I beat a friend in a tense match on Thanksgiving. Knew exactly what I was doing. Trembling by the end. Couldn’t sleep that night. It was nuts. I got a nice chess set, and a nice travel chess set, and a crappy travel chess set, and a few books. There was no one to play with, though. It died down, but I’m still pretty interested.

Monday I was listening to game four of the ALCS, which the Red Sox won. (Let’s not talk about game five). I was listening on the radio to capture some of the golden-age-of-baseball feel, and because my TV is busted. At the same time I was following the match in the Post’s chess column, playing along on my board. Yankees and Red Sox fighting an ancient feud in Boston, live; Kavalek and Formanek duking it out in Boston, 1970. Kavalek won, sacrificing pawn, knight, rook, and queen along the way. Red Sox won with a wiggly knuckleball. The pressrooms are calling this pitch the no-spin zone. I love that.

Go Sox! Um, go Kavalek.

My apartment is now a home. My new checks arrived, so that’s one thing. And I’ve just thrown out the last of my emptied boxes. Three months. I’m home.

I’m in my back room (foyer? utility room? it’s home, but I have not assigned this room a function) with my box cutter. A coin falls out of one box as I flatten it, a penny, dark brown with age. That’s an old wheat penny, I think. Sure enough: 1952, wheat. It’s good luck. A wheat penny I didn’t know I had has followed me to my new place. I’m home.

I carry my folded boxes down the back stairs. Behind my building is a small parking area, then the alley, then the backs of the row houses on the next street. I drop the boxes by the trashcans with satisfaction.

Mreow. This from a deck across the alley, loud, repeated. I mreow back and see a cat who normally ignores me. I sit on the concrete by the stairs and extend a hand. This always used to work. The cat and I mreow back and forth until it slowly climbs down and crosses toward me, not with normal catly nonchalance, but as though I may have food. It draws close and I pet its dirty fur. It’s plump, it has a collar. Hello, neighbor.

Then Nina pedals up, and the cat goes aloof again. Nina is the name on her kiddie plate. Her bike is pink with white tires and elaborate pink decorations. Too small for Nina, but she rides it well. “Do you know whose cat that is?” she asks.

“No. We were just talking.”

“Oh wait, I know. Caitlin.”

I hope that Caitlin is the owner and not the cat. It is an awful name.

Nina chases the cat away. Cat’s don’t get bicycles. “Hills are fun to ride down,” she says.

“Oh, I know.” And I do agree. To hell with up.

“How old are you?”

Great. “Thirty-one.” Speaking of downhill.

“For real?

Step off, you little brat. “Yeah.” Punk. “How ‘bout you?”

“In two weeks I’ll be eight. Do you know Caitlin?”

The owner. “Nope.”

A woman calls from down the alley: “Where are you?”

“I’m here!”

“Too close to the corner, get back here!”

Nina smirks. “Awww, man.” Pedals off.

“Nice talking with you.” And sure it was. I’m not an old curmudgeon. Not old, not grumpy (not always). I like kids. I don’t have any, but I welcome their conversation. Sure, Nina had brought up a difficult subject, but she knew exactly what hills are for. That’s wisdom that growing up can’t improve. She has years to learn about thirty-one.

I put the wheat penny over the door.

Last night I went to see Concert for George, which was filmed last year at Royal Albert Hall on the anniversary of George Harrison’s death. Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar, Paul, Ringo, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Joe Brown, along with a dozen others, performed George’s songs from his Beatles and solo years. Most of Monty Python were present to perform the Lumberjack sketch and the song “Sit on My Face,” which must have been one of George’s favorites.

It’s a moving show. George’s songs are poignant, and the performers clearly miss him. One of the performers is Dhani Harrison, who looks so much like George in 1964 that you can’t take your eyes off him.

You gotta like George. He’s the anti-Paul. See the movie, think about George.

Somebody slap California ‘pside the head. Unless these eleventh-hour revelations about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s groping and misogyny have any meaningful impact, it looks like Californians may actually elect the man governor. Even if the entire pool of people who vote for him amounts to less than ten percent of the state’s population, he can still win. If this happens, the state deserves him.

I’m torn. I loved Kindergarten Cop as much as everyone else. But a democratic system where this is possible is one busted-ass system.