Thursday, April 7, 2011

Catching Up With The Circle Me Bert Superstar

GameDay: When we spoke two years ago, you'd been circled by Bert Blyleven 27 times. What's the count at now?

Boone Hagarsky: I'm up to 39. You can find all the video at my website,

GD: A lot has been written about the adjustments Twins players made moving from the Metrodome to their new ballpark. Did the move to Target Field require changes to your Circle Me Bert approach?

BH: Oh, absolutely. The Metrodome was a just a pristine Circle Me Bert environment. No wind or rain. No sun, so pretty steady temperatures and lighting. At Target Field, you've got to inject these environmental variables into your preparation and presentation equations.

GD: Talk about the adjustments to the preparation piece. Last time you described some really interesting preparation methods. Things like using dressing room mirrors and in store surveillance video monitors to experiment with stances, sign presentation angles, and the like.

BH: Sure. What you're describing there I call technique training. With the injection of Target Field weather elements, you've got to cross train that technique training with what I call MST -- Materials Stress Testing. If you want to be ready for anything Mother Nature throws your way, you've got to subject yourself and your hand held signage materials to the most extreme weather conditions you can simulate.

GD: With the winter we just had, I don't imagine you had much trouble simulating cold and snow.

BH: (laughs) No, that wasn't a problem. But cold and snow aren't something I worry about too much. Heat, and especially humidity, pose much greater challenges.

GD: You're talking about fatigue?

BH: You bet. There's is a "wilt factor", both for the man and his Circle Me Bert signs. I’ve found the best place to MST for wilting is at a health club. Unfortunately, lots of places want to claim they have policies against bringing signs into the men’s steam room. Especially when you're fully clothed.

GD: You get hassled?

BH: Well, usually by the third visit they'll insist I remove my clothes and leave the signs behind. At that point I’ll start MST-ing my accessories. That's when the younger guys -- I'm talking about health club security – they’ll start playing a little rough. The older guys, the guys who know their U.S. history, they tend to be more careful. I see them looking at me like, "That can't be him, can it?"

GD: You're referring to your astonishing resemblance to Henry Kissinger.

BH: Exactly right. I think there may be an intimidation factor there. (laughs). I clear out before they realize you're probably not going to find Henry Kissinger in a Minneapolis steam room straddling a donkey-headed broomstick while wearing nothing but cowboy boots and a Circle Me Bert sombrero.

GD: Pieces of a Don Quixote assemblage?

BH: One of my favorite Circle Me Burt ensembles. But look, if you're prepared to leave behind your conventional paper signs and your accessories, a men’s steam room can be a really good place to MST your experimental signs. I'm talking about the ones that push and ultimately redefine the boundaries of what constitutes a hand held sign.

GD: Give me an example.

BH: Well, suppose I paint on my chest a picture of me holding a Circle Me Bert sign. Now, suppose the sign in that picture also shows me holding a Circle Me Bert sign. Whose sign in turn shows me holding a Circle Me Bert sign. And so on. Circle Me Bert signs inside of Circle Me Bert signs inside of Circle Me Bert signs.

GD: Where does the Circle Me Bert sign end.

BH: Yes. But more interestingly, where do I end and where does the sign begin? In Heideggerran jargon, has my Being left the behind the realm of Dasein and entered the realm of the Ding an Sich? In layman's terms, have I become, in a profound and exciting way, a Circle Me Bert sign myself?

GD: I never would have thought to go there.

BH: Stay with me. Say I'm wearing this sign at the ballpark and Bert circles me. With the endless regress the picture suggests, have I been circled by Bert just once?

GD: Or an infinite number of times.

BH: Exactly. The phenomenology of the Circle Me Bert experience is just endlessly fascinating. What was once little more than an aside in my book is now a section approaching one hundred pages.

GD: So the move to the new ballpark has helped you explore existential dimensions of the Circle Me Bert experience. Sounds like Target Field has another fan.

BH: Oh no. Not at all. Listen, getting circled by Bert shouldn’t require that you ride a Valley Fair roller coaster to MST your signs against straight line winds. Getting circled shouldn’t require that you drive all the way to a Wisconsin Dells water park to MST your signs against everything from a sprinkle to a cloudburst. Especially when there are so many mothers who get absolutely hysterical when their small children get tangled up and allegedly “pulled under” by the soggy detritus from disintegrating signs. What I’m saying is that with the introduction of the weather elements, we’re talking about another, higher level of preparation and commitment here.

GD: Is that necessarily a bad thing?

BH: Absolutely it’s a bad thing. Look, seeing others getting circled, getting circled if you've cultivated those skills -- that's a huge part of the Twins experience. If the move to Target Field is pushing Circle Me Bert into an extreme sport, what does that do to the participation rates? I think every Minnesotan ought to be asking himself or herself, "Is the move outdoors worth it if we diminish the Circle Me Bert phenomenon in the process?”

GD: And your answer is no.

BH: I’d like to see the Twins move back into the dome.

GD: Wait. You must realize how preposterous that sounds.

BH: It’s not as preposterous as you might think. I’ve started up an organization to push for it. We Like It Here has piqued the interest of some heavy hitters.

GD: For instance?

BH: You’ve heard of Mike Veeck.

GD: Of course. The St. Paul Saints owner.

BH: Lunching with him next week. Then there’s Justin Morneau.

GD: Justin Morneau?

BH: Not sure how he found out about us, but he approached me. He’s been incredibly supportive.

GD: Well, I’d wish We Like It Here the best of luck, but given the popularity of Target Field, that would probably cost me my three readers.

BH: (laughs)

GD: Listen, you mentioned your book. I’ve no doubt it's going to give us a really comprehensive look at all facets of the Circle Me Bert experience. When can we expect it on the shelves?

BH: I still have some work left. They uncovered some primitive hand held sign technologies in a pre-Clovis site in Monte Verde, Chile. Just incredible. That’s forcing me to rework the “origins” section. And then I need to find a publisher. But it’s close.

GD: We’d love to post some excerpts here.

BH: Yeah, maybe. Let me see what I can do.

GD: Great. Thanks for the time, Boone.

BH: Thank you. And win Twins!