Friday, March 14, 2014

Understanding the Gilbreath Principle

Background: Those who know me know that I love magic, and I love mathematics. A while back—okay, over ten years ago—I created a sheet that explained "The Gilbreath Principle," a mathematical principle that is sometimes used in card magic. On some of the magic forums, I offered to send a PDF of the file to anyone who requested it. At first, there were many requests, but as the post moved further and further into the distant past, the number of requests dropped off. Every year or so, I would receive a request for the file, and I would send it off dutifully. Then many years past and I forgot about it, until just the other day when someone found the OP on the Magic Cafe and sent me a request. That's when I decided to post it here. I don't know if it's exactly Pop Void, since, the idea behind principles such as this is to not enter popular culture, but stay hidden from most people. Nonetheless, part of the mission of this blog is to explore the unexplored and tackle the willfully ignored. So, without further ado, this one's for the math and magic geeks out there.
The Gilbreath Principle
When two groups of cards in reversed sequential order are riffle shuffled together, the lower cards in one packet will force their complement out of the group at the top of the other packet. That is the Gilbreath Principle in a nutshell.
Here’s a visualized version of what happens:
Imagine you have a stack of five red blocks. The blocks are numbered one through five from the top down. The stack may contain exactly five blocks and no more. Next to the red set you have an identical set of green blocks, but these blocks are numbered in the reverse order, with block number five on top, and block number one on the bottom:



You are allowed to place as few or as many of the green blocks in the red stack as you wish. The only stipulation is that blocks must stay in their original sequential order. That is, green block number one must stay below green block number two, green block number two must stay below green block number three and so on. Likewise, red block number one must stay above red block number two, et cetera. In other words, the bottom block on the green stack (number one) must be the first block to be added to the stack of red blocks.

The same thing happens when you riffle shuffle two packet of cards together; they interlace, starting with the bottom cards of each packet, but they maintain their sequential order.
Now for the Gilbreath Principle in action:
When you put green block number one into the red set, red block number one is forced out of the set. Then result: five blocks numbered one through five. They are no longer in numeric order, and one of them is green, but there is still only one of each number in the five card stack:

 
If you put green block #2 into the red set, red block #2 is also forced out of the set:


Again, there is only one of each number in the set of five. As you can see, it does not matter how few or how many of the green blocks you put into the set, the resulting combination will always be only one with each number:


The same thing happens when you riffle shuffle the cards. It doesn’t matter if the sequence consists of only two numbers (which is the case for red-black combinations), or an entire suit.

Sometimes you will hear people talk about “The First Gilbreath Principle” and “The Second Gilbreath Principle.” This is a mistake; there is only one Gilbreath Principle. When Gilbreath first encountered this effect, he used it to shuffle red and black cards together. Later he found that the same thing worked with sequentially organized cards. At first he thought these were different principles, but he later realized that it was the same principle, just applied differently. Unfortunately, the word on “The Second Gilbreath Principle” got out there and is still talked about.

Okay, that's all there is to it. It's pretty simple really, and yet it holds so much promise. For some innovative work on using the principle, check out the card magic of Max Maven.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Using Subtitles



As most of you know, I also write for a blog called the East German Cinema Blog. And, if you read the previous entry here titled, Lost in Translation, you also know that from time to time I try my hand at subtitle creation. Recently I had the opportunity to combine these two interests when I came across the East German fantasy film, Heart of Stone (Das kalte Herz) on YouTube and later discovered that someone had created German subtitles for it. This emboldened me to try my hand at creating subtitles in English for the film. As always, first I ran the German subtitles through Google Translate and, as always, this proved to be nearly useless. It does save time with the mundane statements that crop up frequently, but is not much use beyond that. Heart of Stone proved to be even more of a challenge than Mädchen, Mädchen was.

In the first place, the language in Heart of Stone is slightly old-fashioned and uses terms that are not in general use anymore. I mean, when was the last time you discussed charcoal burning (as a profession) and horse-drawn drays? Plus, one of the main characters is a little leprechaun-like character called the "Glasmännlein." Literally, this translates to something along the lines of "little glass man." Sometimes it is translated to "Glassmanikin" and sometimes to "Glassman." You could also translate it as "glass sprite" or "glass elf." Just to complicate matters, he is also referred to as "Schatzhauser" (treasure guardian).

Complex sentences—and Heart of Stone has a lot of them—also can throw Google Translate for a loop. It has a nasty habit of tossing out words it can't fit into its translation schemes, but sometimes those words are nicht and kein, which are there to negate most of the rest of the sentence. So suddenly "I really don't care if you're a wealthy man" becomes "I really care if you're a wealthy man."

The other thing that made translation difficult was that a key plot point in the story hinges on the rhyming nature of stehen (to stand) and sehen (to see). These two words don't come close to rhyming in English, so I had to decide: do I keep the rhyme or keep the meaning? If I keep the meaning, then the main character's eventual discovery of the right word to say based on rhyme becomes incomprehensible. If I keep the rhyme, then I have to find other words that will fit reasonably well, and try not lose the essence of the recitation. I based my decision on an old translation into English that was published around the turn of the century. For this, I followed that translator's lead, which was to find a new rhyme that fit.

I eventually came up with a translation that, while not perfect, will do until the folks at the DEFA Library at UMass Amherst add this film to their collection and find a translator far more skilled than I am.

Now that we have English subtitles, the next question is, how do we use them? YouTube certainly doesn't let you use subtitles, and yet that is where the film is currently available. To help with this, I've created the following guide to watching YouTube videos with subtitles. There are a lot of foreign films on YouTube that simply are not available as legal videos in the United States.* Sometimes you can find the subtitles you need online and this will help you use these subtitles to watch the films. There are some potential problems as far as syncing goes, but that is a discussion I'll have to reserve for another day. In the meantime, you'll find that my subtitles line up perfectly with the copy of the film on YouTube.

How to Watch YouTube Videos With Subtitles

Step #1: Get VLC Player

If you haven't done so already, install VLC Player on your computer. It is available for both the Mac and the PC, as well as nearly every other system you care to name. There is no better video player out there. This is especially true for the Mac which incorporates a silly five time only region change policy on their DVD player (or I should say, use to—new Macs no longer include CD/DVD drives).

Step #2: Install a video downloader in Firefox

I recommend using Firefox and installing Video Downloader. Chrome makes capturing YouTube videos difficult owing to the fact that YouTube is a Google company, and if you are using Internet Explorer, you...well...why in the world are you using Internet Explorer? There may be a way to do this with Safari too, but I haven't fired that one up in many years. There may be a way to to it with Chrome as well, I simply didn't find one that worked for me. If you have a good solution for any of those other programs, post it in the comments and I'll see that it is published here.

Step #3: Go to the YouTube video and download

Don't worry about whether it downloads as an FLV or an MP4 file, or some other format. The VLC Player won't care.

Step #4: Download the subtitles

I've included the link for my Heart of Stone subtitles below. You can also find other subtitles at sites such as opensubtitles.org, or moviesubtitles.org. It should be noted here that sometimes the subtitles don't sync up properly with the film. I can report, however, that the subtitles for Heart of Stone are very well synced to the YouTube video. Perhaps in a future article I'll discuss how to fix it when the subtitles and the film don't match up.

Step#5: Open the video in VLC Player

It is going to want to start playing as soon as you do this so hit pause for now.

Step #6: Add Subtitles

Under the Subtitle menu, choose "Add Subtitle File..." Then locate the file choose "Open."

Step #7: Watch and enjoy!

That's all there is to it.

You can, if you prefer burn the video and the subtitles together on a disk, The subtitles are in the "srt" format, which many DVD burning programs can recognize (I use DVD Flick).


Resources:







* I realize that I am treading on thin ice here as far as the legality of these videos goes. Ideally, you should always buy your videos when they are available. I've purchased many from the DEFA Library at UMass Amherst and that's a great place to go to purchase East German films with English subtitles. I've purchased others overseas when I've gone to visit Germany. The techniques I show here are to be used only as a last resort when a film is either not available with subtitles, or, in some cases, not available at all on DVD. In the end, the film is the most important thing, as far as I am concerned. They need to be seen, and if the owners of the films are incapable or unwilling to provide them, then, by all means, find an alternative method to watch the film. If , however, a film you've watched in this manner does eventually become available, you should purchase it, just as you would purchase songs you listen to regularly via Pandora or Grooveshark.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On the Dark Side


That's how a friend of mine described it. Last month I started working for a company that makes email marketing software. It has been a real eye-opener. The company is in Alameda and it is called Goolara. Like most people, I had this image of email marketing that equated with spam. In fact, I'm finding that the folks here are far more anti-spam than the average person. "Email should offer something of value, not pester people," one of my co-workers said. One of the first things I learned was that the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 changed things in a very positive way. You know that "Unsubscribe" button at the bottom of your email. For years, I thought that clicking on it simply led to more email. Back in the late 1990s this used to be true, but now it actually halts that particular email. If you are sent a promotional email that does not have an unsubscribe button, they are violating the CAN-SPAM act, so go ahead and mark them as spam. Any reputable company will include the unsubscribe button. Marking these folks as spam does a disservice to them as it can affect their ability to send email to people who may actually want it (yes, Google and the others pay attention when you say something is spam, so use your power wisely, Luke).

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Lost in Translation

  
Recently I decided to try my hand at translating movie subtitles. Translating anything is hard enough, but movie subtitles brings a host of special challenges to the table. It didn't help that the movie I chose to translate provided nearly every single one of these challenges.

The movie was Mädchen, Mädchen, directed by Dennis Gansel, one of Germany's best young directors (The Wave, We Are the Night). The film is story of three young women, Inken, Vicky, and Lena. They are about to graduate from high school and are looking to get laid. There are several subplots involving a crucial volleyball game, the new girlfriend of Inken's father, and a lout who gets his comeuppance, but most of the action centers around Inken (the delightful Diana Amft) and her efforts to experience her first orgasm. It is a frank and funny film, but it is also pretty raunchy. The dialog is casual and realistic, which means lots of contractions and slang. Any attempt to get a meaningful translation out of the German subtitle source file by feeding it through Google Translate was bound to result in gibberish. A quick check online at the movie subtitle sites revealed that there were English subtitles already available, but they were obviously written by someone schooled in the King's English. “I have to go to the loo” wouldn't mean much to the average American, and I can't see an American girl saying, “My knickers are too tight.” Not to mention that these subtitles were not timed to the actual film, but were probably intended for a bootlegged bit torrent of the movie. I wanted my subtitles to be suitable for an American audience, and I wanted it to sync with the legitimate German DVD copy of the film.

Right off the bat, the movie presents a problem with its title. How do you translate “Mädchen, Mädchen?” IMDB lists the US title of the film as Girls on Top, which is almost as bad as the German translation of the title of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Vergiss mein nicht—or, “Forget me Not”). A more literal translation (Girls, Girls), would have been better, although the nature of English dictates a third “Girls” in the title, but Elvis already made a film with that title. Maiden, Maiden would also work, but who uses the word “maiden” anymore? I decided to not waste too much time on this conundrum and go straight to the dialog.

The film starts easily with the other girls wishing Inken a happy birthday. Things don't really get complicated until we encounter Tim, Inken's insensitive boyfriend. Tim likes to wear T-shirts with stupid sayings on them. When first we see him, he is walking into the gymnasium during a volleyball game. His T-shirt reads: “Trübsal ist nicht das einzige das Man blasen kann.” Feed this into Google Translate and you'll get: “Tribulation is not the only one that can blow,” which one could further finesse into “Misery isn't the only thing you can blow,” but even this doesn't come close to capturing the meaning of the saying, nor, for that matter, does it make much sense. The joke of the saying relies on the fact that the verb blasen (to blow) is the verb of choice for the noun Trübsal to mean to be down, or depressed, and blasen can also have the same obscene connotation that it has in English. Since the joke of the slogan is based entirely on the double entendre of “blow,” I decided to drop “misery” and find a word that would create the same effect in English, leading me to translate the shirt as “Smoke isn't the only thing you can blow.” I imagine that if this was shown in a theater, at this point, there would be Germans muttering to their American dates, “That's not what is says,” but at least this way the English-speaking viewers also have a pun to groan at.

Tim’s next T-shirt, though, proved even more problematic: “Andere Länder, Andere Titten.” Literally, this translates to “Other Countries, Other Tits,” but to translate it like that would miss the terrible pun in the saying. In German, one might say, “Andere Länder, andere sitten” to mean something along the lines of “When in Rome,” or “Different strokes, for different folks.” I had to find some way to get this across. My first thought was to take the English expression “different folks,” and turn it into something like “Different pokes for different folks,” but that didn’t really work for me. “Pokes” was too mild. Tim’s T-shirt were offensive and I wanted something equally offensive. I decided to go with “Different Cities, Different Titties,” which changes the meaning of Länder (countries) but keeps everything else more or less the same. Most importantly, it’s the kind of stupid thing that Tim might put on a T-shirt.

One of the biggest challenges with this film was dealing with obscenities. You might think that German would be a great language for obscenity, but it can't hold a candle to English when it comes to flat-out, blue-streak swearing. German leans heavily on Scheiß (shit) to convey most of the vulgar sentiments that Germans have to offer. The use of "fuck" is limited to the sexual act, and when intended as an obscenity, it is usually spoken in English. Arsch (ass) is also used a lot in German. So much so that Mozart actually named one of his canons, "Leck mich im Arsch." This translates literal to "lick me in the ass," but would translate more idiomatically to "kiss my ass." Clearly Mozart was in a nasty mood that day. Here, I had to use my imagination, and choose the obscenity that the average teenager would be most likely to use in a given situation. The problem is compounded a bit by the fact that girls don’t swear like boys do, but I decided that these girls were a little more foul-mouthed than average, especially Vicky. I took my cues from Sex and the City, with Inken as Carrie, Vicky as Samantha (of course), and Lena a little like Charlotte (Miranda gets lost in the shuffle).

Songs present a special problem in translation. If you translate the words literally, you usually lose the rhyme. Ideally, you want the translation to read like songs lyrics, yet still make sense in context. One of the best examples of this I have ever seen is in the subtitles for The Legend of Paul and Paula. Here, the lyrics of the songs by the band, die Puhdys, are translated almost verbatim and yet still rhyme. The British version of the Mädchen, Mädchen subtitles don't even try to maintain the rhyme, but I wasn't going to be daunted. I managed to come up with a pretty good translation, but I don't think the lyrics are going to win any Grammys. More problematic were the little rhymes that Inken and Vicky were creating for the personals ad. Most problematic of all was Schwengeln drängeln, which translates to something along the lines of  “pushy penises.”  After wrestling with it for a while, I decided to give up. It would have to stay “pushy penises.” It doesn’t mean much when Vicky first suggests it, but it doesn’t seem to mean much to Inken either. Later on when she uses it in a sentence, the meaning becomes clearer.

I am not 100% satisfied with my translation, but maybe no one ever is. I do think it’s a better translation than any of the others that I’ve encountered. It captures the spirit of the film and the humor in most scenes. If you have a copy of the movie and would like to add these subtitles to it, you can download them here:

Mädchen, Mädchen subtitles.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Google Docs is Down



Friday, August 26, Google Docs went offline. As of this writing, it is still offline. Judging from the posts on the Google Docs Help Forum, the problem started at 9:46 am (PT) and have continued for over an hour. Most interestingly, the forum people at Google, who were so good about responding quickly to user questions only an few minutes earlier are remarkably mum all of the sudden, both on the Google Help Forum and on Twitter. Meanwhile, the rest of us, unable to access our online documents, are sitting back and contemplating this inherent and inescapable flaw in the cloud computing concept.

Follow up: Google Docs came back online around 11:25 am (PT). Still no explanation from Google yet as to what happened, but I expect that will come later. Meanwhile, people all over the world are backing up every single file they have online.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Why I Hate MST3K


Okay, let me get this out of the way right at the top: the writers for Mystery Science Theater 3000 can be very funny. They can make me laugh, I won’t deny it. They have found a clever way to deliver jokes that are just obscure enough to make their audience think they are hip, but not so esoteric as to lose them. It is a fine balancing act and they perform it sensationally well. Yes, I know that most TV critics love this show; that the series won a Peabody Award; was nominated for two Emmys; and that James Poniewozik at Time Magazine called it one of the “100 Best TV Shows of All Time” (a worthless list, since it did not include That Was the Week That Was, Slattery’s People, or Naked City). Yes, I know that I am in a serious minority on this, and that many of you have probably already stopped reading lest I say anything bad about your favorite show.


All of this said, I implore you: Don’t watch this show. For goodness sake, just get the original movie and watch that instead. I don’t say this lightly, nor am I in any way intending to be troll about this. If MST3K is on, just change the channel. Someday you’ll thank me.


I first encountered MST3K back in its early days. A friend of mine was raving about it and wanted me to come over and watch an episode. This was back when there was no Tivo and many of my friends still didn’t have VCRs (and the ones that did were divided between VHS and Beta). This woman was one of the wittiest and most perspicacious writers I knew, so I assumed any show she would endorse had to be a winner. I went to her house and...I was horrified! I made polite conversation and got the hell out of there. I spent the rest of that afternoon brooding on what I had just seen. Nothing since then has caused me to change my mind about this show. Further attempts to “get” this show have made me dislike it all the more.


For those of you who have never seen the show, allow me to set up the scenario. MST3K is about a likable janitor who is imprisoned on a space station and forced to watch cheesy movies by two evil scientists (or one evil scientist and his sidekick, or two evil sidekicks and a woman in a minibus—I never got all this straight). His only companions are robots that he built from parts he could spare. During the films, the janitor and the robots made clever quips about what they see on the screen. Sometimes the jokes are obvious references to pop culture, but sometimes they are remarkably obscure. Most of the films they watch are low-budget exploitation films from the fifties, sixties, and seventies—the so-called “Golden Turkeys” as the concept was christened by the Medved brothers.


I don't dislike the show because they make fun of these movies. I’ve been known to do the same thing while watching them myself. My problem with the show is that it only goes in one direction: toward ridicule. If you are watching a low-budget movie on your sofa, with your friends, you may make similar comments to those made by the characters on the show, but you are also more likely to give credit where credit is due. A cheesy line, or absurd situation might elicit a sarcastic remark, but the next moment, you can acknowledge an effective shot or scene. MST3K cannot do this. Nothing is ever impressive. All observations have to have a punchline. If a scene works, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot are not going to say so. They will either try to make a joke (which usually falls flat in these situations) or wait until they can say something arch.


Worse still is that, by interjecting their comments, they remove the viewer from the experience of the movie. You are watching Joel (or Mike) and his puppets make fun of a movie, you are not really watching the movie at all. If you have any clever things to say, they are held in check in favor of the comments on screen. Your own wit is put on hold while someone else does the movie-watching for you. No good can possibly come from this.


But the worst thing about this show is that, like an invasive species, it has overtaken Netflix and forced out the distribution of many classic low-budget films in favor of the MST3K versions. You cannot, for instance rent Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Beast of Yucca Flats, The Giant Gila Monster, The Robot vs. The Aztec Mummy, The Wild Rebels, and half a dozen other interesting oddities that deserve to be seen in their original forms. Only the MST3K versions are available.


Right now, for instance, Netflix does not offer Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies except in the MST3K version. That’s really a shame, because if the only way you ever see this movie is with their comments, you are missing a world of delights. The songs are solidly entertaining, the camerawork—some of the first work in Holllywood by Vilmos Zsigmond and László Kovács—is spectacular, and, if you bother to pay closer attention to the film, you might learn a few clever low-budget tricks on the use of MOS (shooting without sound) to save money. All of this is lost on the MST3K viewer, who walks away from the film feeling oh so clever without learning a thing.


With this in mind, I would like to make the following suggestion to the makers of the MST3K DVDs: Give the viewer the option of turning off the peanut gallery and simply watching the movie. This is not too much to ask. It would solve the lack of access that presently exists with these films, and still allow people without any native wit to experience the comments of people cleverer than themselves.


The writer I mentioned at the start of this article stopped publishing her zine shortly after my visit to her house. Mostly this was due to the insertion of a new attention-sucking device into her life (i.e., a baby), yet I can’t help but think it is partly because of MST3K. Did the effect of being placed as a spectator where she used to actively participate cause her imagination to atrophy? I hope not, but I suspect the worst. I don’t care how funny you think this show is, it is stealing from you one of the great joys of watching these films: the opportunity to become one with the movie, giving you the ability to see them both as unintentionally hilarious and as stunningly imaginative. When watching MST3K, all that is left is you, sitting on a couch, watching the lives of others without a thing to say.

Follow up: After finishing this post, I tweeted it with the hashtag #mst3k, which, naturally, put the fans of this show on my tail. I decided to publish their remarks to allow the opposite viewpoint some breathing room. The most interesting post to me was the one that claimed that MST3K discs contain bother the original and the riffed versions of the film. Had this been true, I still would not have cared for MST3K, but they would have risen in my estimation somewhat. Alas, it turns out not to be true. Although some contain other material (usually mini-docs about the films and filmmakers that are as snarky as the show), they do not offer you the ability to watch the movies as they were intended.

I was amused at how many of the irate posters felt compelled to point out that the reason the show does not offer anything other than sarcastic comments is because it's a comedy show. Um, yeah, that was kinda my point. Although many of the posters tried to explain why they objected to my rant, none made a very convincing argument. One person surmised that I was a film snob based on my statements about the quality of the camerawork in some low budget films. If by "film snob," sir, you mean I care about movies as an art and pay attention to all the aspects of the work that goes into making them, then I plead guilty. The saddest comment is the last one (I've closed new posts on the topic for now): "If you want to see the movie untouched by the hands of the MST3K crew, rent or buy it in it's [sic] original form." Yes, exactly, but therein lies the problem. Many of these are currently only available in the bastardized versions, and MST3K has never done anything to help alleviate this.

Most of the emails and Facebook responses I received that supported my rant came—not coincidentally, I think—from people who either make films or write about them. One fellow film historian summed things up nicely: "It's worth remembering that those films were created by people who cared about them.... [MST3K] is piggybacking on someone else's work and should be seen as such."

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Giants Win the World Series

Photo by Jill Clardy
   

The Giants won the World Series, and entire city of San Francisco is a madhouse tonight. Shawn, my local homeless guy, is out on the corner, stripped to the waist, pants hanging halfway off his ass, whistling and cheering at the passing cars. They honk in happy response. It’s an unusually warm night tonight, which is helping to impel people onto the streets, laughing and shouting and hugging complete strangers. An old lady, who is at least ninety if she’s a day, is decked out in orange feathers, high-fiving everyone around her.

Normally this sort of stuff brings out the misanthropist in me, but this time it’s different. While the national news media ignored them, the Giants were slowly creeping to the top of the heap. Even after they made it into the playoffs, the national news media paid them little attention, choosing instead to concentrate on the Phillies and the Yankees—two teams they knew well, and could talk about with authority. The Giants? A ragtag bunch of oddballs that seemed more like the leftovers than the cream of the crop. Throughout the playoffs, the media took the stance that if they ignored the Giants, maybe they would go away.

But they didn’t go away.

Even after the World Series began, the New York Times barely reported on the Giants, choosing instead to concentrate on Texas. Ben Shpigel’s headline on Saturday read: “Texas Rangers Draw Closer in World Series.” And on Sunday, Tyler Kepner’s headline read: “Rangers’ Lee Expects to Be Razor Sharp in Game 5.” It wasn’t until their decisive win on Sunday night that the Times finally deemed it fit to start talking about the team, but even now, they do so by talking about them as a former New York team. Tonight’s article about the win starts out: “The Giants bolted New York for San Francisco 53 long years ago.” The next article on the sports page reads: “Harlem Learns Immortalizing Mays Isn’t Easy.”

I guess that is to be expected. The New York Times is, in spite of national distribution, the Big Apple’s local rag, but the fact is: the Giants are a San Francisco team. There is nothing evenly remotely New York about them anymore. They are a weird bunch. Some look like hippies, some like felons, and some like nothing I’ve ever seen. Tim Lincecum, with his bow tie and should-length hair looks more like a classical pianist than a pitcher. Then there’s Brian Wilson, with his bootblack beard, who claimed on Jim Rome’s show that he learned is a certified Ninja in a dream. “We're all the wildcats and misfits and people nobody wanted,” said Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt. “We have some crazies in this clubhouse, but that is who we are.”

Most importantly, they seem like a team; a characteristic all too often missing from major league baseball in these days of corporate ownership and multimillion dollar contracts. Back during the Barry Bonds years, we rooted for the team, but it was a bit half-hearted. Bonds was not a particularly likable person (and we all knew in our hearts that he was taking something). Worst of all, the rest of the team seemed like an afterthought, not just to the owner, but to the fans as well. A win in 1989 would have still brought people into the streets, but it would have been different. It would have been about Baseball and Sports (in capital letters), and the power of steroids. This felt like it was about San Francisco, and being different, and ignoring what the rest of the country thinks about you (and it didn't hurt that we were beating the team that George W. was rooting for). This was fun.

It’s almost midnight now and the celebration seems, if anything, to be getting louder. Shawn has pushed his shopping cart into the alley, and is getting ready to settle down for the night. He seems happy. “Wasn’t that just great?” he asks. Tonight, in spite of being homeless and alone, he is one with the city and the city is one with him.