At 11:00 on Monday night I tuned into The Daily Show. Jon Stewart was talking about old stuff from a few months ago. It was obviously a re-run. Is he on vacation? So I switched to Rachel Maddow. She was also away from her post, with a substitute host. I switched back to Daily Show and watched a little bit. I knew that I needed more tobacco and more beer, so I decided to walk to King of the Hill Market (a convenience store about six blocks away) before they closed at midnight. It’s owned by a friendly Ethiopian guy named Abraham.
More below the fold.
King of the Hill Market
King of the Hill Market is named after Capitol Hill, which is the gay neighborhood in Seattle. Some people say Seattle has seven hills (just like Rome!) and Capitol Hill is named after the Capitoline hill in Rome. Other people say that some 19th-century land developer set aside land for a state capitol building somewhere on the hill, but then Olympia was chosen as the capital of WA, so he sold off the land. Sometimes people misspell it as "Capital Hill." These people are sadly mistaken and just wrong.
I like King of the Hill market because they sell Drum tobacco cheaper than anyone else. I started rolling my own cigarettes because rollies are cheaper than factory-made ‘grettes. When people ask me if I have an extra cigarette, I say, "Sure, but you’ll have to roll it." Homeless people almost always say yes (and sometimes they say, "Hey, I like Drum. This is a good tobacco."). But a lot of non-homeless people will say "No thanks." Or they’ll say, "Could you roll one for me?" I’m sorry, you only get a cigarette if you’re willing to put forward a tiny bit of effort.
The owner (Abraham) is a friendly guy from Ethiopia. Soon after first meeting him, I accidentally called him Ibrahim and he said, "I’m Abraham, not Ibrahim. I’m a Christian, not a Muslim." So I said, "Oh, really, I’ve heard about those churches in Ethiopia that are carved out of solid rock." He then pulled out a package of snapshots (mostly pictures of him standing next to hand carved churches) from the last time he went home to Ethiopia. Here’s a website with info about hand-carved-from-solid-rock churches. They’re way cool: Rock-Hewn Churches of Ethiopia
A few years ago, I visited the store on the Fourth of July and bought something and said "Happy Fourth of July! Hey, by the way, when is Independence Day in Ethiopia?" He said, "Ethiopia doesn’t have an Independence Day because we were never conquered and we were never colonized." I thought about it for a minute and, wow, he was right. Ethiopia has been an independent country going back to the Queen of Sheba. OK, yeah, Italy invaded Ethiopia in World War II, but that didn’t last very long.
Another time I asked him about Amharic (which is the language of Ethiopia). In college, I studied languages and linguistics. I know that Amharic is a Semitic language. I asked Abraham if Amharic was closer to Hebrew or Arabic (which are both Semitic languages). He said it’s like both of them but different. Then he started to explain the writing system. There are separate symbols for "bah" and "bee" and "boh" (and so on). I said, "Aha! So it’s not really an alphabet, it’s a syllabary based on syllables, like Katakana in Japan or like the Cherokee syllabary that Sequoyah invented." He said, "The Japanese use a system like this?" I said, "Yep. That’s why they call baseball ‘besuboru’ and they call beer ‘biru’. Every consonant has to be followed by a vowel."
A few months ago, I read that a famous Ethiopian singer had died. He was known as "The Ethiopian Frank Sinatra." Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article: Tilahun Gessesse
Abraham knew about him and he was amazed that anyone in Seattle had even heard of the guy.
Back to Monday night. I had acquired my beer and my tobacco. Café Metropolitain is next door to King of the Hill Market. I had to stop in, because after 11pm, you can get a pint glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon for a dollar. When I go there, I pay a dollar for the beer and tip the bartender a dollar.
What? I’m gonna leave a twenty percent tip on one dollar beer? That would be an insult.
I started talking to a guy who had attended the Mariners game that night. He had grown up in California and he wore his Oakland A’s shirt to the game. At the game, some idiotic fan (probably a Republican teabagger who didn't like outsiders) spat in his face. Which is wrong. I said, "If you were wearing a Yankees jersey, then it would be OK to spit in your face. But the A’s are in last place. Why would anyone spit on an A’s fan? The A’s suck worse than the M’s." Then we did a high-five for spitting on Yankees fans.
We got to talking about baseball. I tossed out my three brilliant baseball trivia questions, which are great ways to pass the time in a bar when you’re drinking and talking to a baseball fan.
Question #1 (Eight ways to get to first base):
Let’s say you turn on the TV. You don’t know what happened beforehand. There’s one runner on first base (nobody on second or third). You have no idea how this guy got on first. The question is, how did he get there?
There are eight different ways that a player could end up on first base. What are they? Most baseball fans will think of five or six answers, but almost nobody gets all eight. And we’re talking about how it’s scored (so an intentional walk is the same as an accidental walk – they’re both scored as a base on balls). There are four ordinary ways to get on first and four ways that are somewhat rare.
Question #2 (Cy Young award):
If you don’t know about baseball, the Cy Young award goes to the best pitcher of the year (one for the American League and one for the National League). Here’s the question:
Of all the pitchers who NEVER won the Cy Young award, which one had the most career wins? No fair to use Google. Hint: He won 511 games during his career, but didn't win a Cy Young award.
Question #3 (Hall of Fame, batting average):
Of all the players who are NOT in the Baseball Hall of Fame, which one had the highest career batting average? We have to eliminate players who had one at-bat and got a hit (1.000 batting average), so let’s say they played regularly for at least five years, so 500 at-bats per year times five years is 2500. So who has the highest batting average, but isn’t in the Hall of Fame? And no, the Negro Leagues and the Minor Leagues don’t count. Hint: His lifetime batting average in the Major Leagues was .356 and he isn't in the Hall of Fame.
Anybody want to make some guesses about the three trivia questions? At least one of them is a trick question.