What we read while Kim Kardashian made sure to pack a camera for her honeymoon…
Does the reduced frequency of my Pretty Little Liars’ reviews reflect perhaps a taming of my zeal for the show or a latent unhappiness with the second half of the first season?
I want to quell such worries now. Sure, the last few episodes — including the last two — have not been as transcendent as I came to expect each week’s offering to be. But I’ve grown to appreciate the subtle genius on a week-to-week basis. It’s kind of like watching Tim Duncan in 2011.
I, for one, was nothing short of stunned to see that last night’s episode wasn’t Valentine’s Day themed. In fact, there wasn’t a single mention of V-Day. I suppose they didn’t know the air dates when filming, but these days, every show seems to put out a Valentine’s Day special. Part of me was happy to see PLL buck that trend, and part of me wanted to see what it would have looked like.
Let’s look back on “Je Suis Un Ami” and “The New Normal”:
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“A man’s works often retrace the story of his nostalgias or his temptations, practically never his own history especially when they claim to be autobiographical. No man has ever dared describe himself as he is.”
—Albert Camus, “The Enigma”
How exactly will we remember Randy Moss?
Figuring out the legacies of football players is difficult. Just ask the NFL Network, which recently released its compilation of the 100 greatest players in NFL history to much criticism. Football isn’t baseball, where individual stats are fairly reliable. Football isn’t basketball, where a star player can and should take over almost every game. How do you judge a quarterback such as Joe Montana who played in a revolutionary offense with the receiver who NFL Network called the greatest player in the league’s history? Steve Young didn’t do too badly himself behind Montana, but does that take away from Joe or just mean that Steve was also really, really good?
These kinds of questions are ubiquitous in thinking retroactively about football players, and the topic of legacy is particularly problematic when it comes to wide receivers. At the receiver position, there is Jerry Rice, and there is everyone else. I’m not sure if Rice is indeed the greatest player in the history of the sport, but I am sure that the gap between him and the next-best receiver is wider than the gap between the best and second-best at any other position.
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“So it was with me as I peacefully died of my cure.”
This weekend finally sealed it. At season’s end, I am officially retiring from fantasy football.
I have made this threat before. In fact, it’s been kind of a mid-aughts Favrian period from me along these lines, where I consider retirement without ever making the leap (thus the distinction between mid-aughts Favre and late-aughts Favre).
I have long deplored the aesthetics of fantasy sports. In fact, I’ve already explained this earlier in the season. To wit:
“Now, I despise the idea behind fantasy football. To me, it’s a compensatory hobby designed to manufacture allegiances when you don’t otherwise have one. I don’t care who wins this game, so I will root for Aaron Rodgers to throw a touchdown pass to Donald Driver for Green Bay, and for LeSean McCoy to have a nice performance for the Eagles. This will make me happy. Fantasy football, then, is something I patently don’t need. I love the Giants, and therefore I have a strong rooting interest in almost any game that includes an NFC team. Over time, I have developed a hierarchy of affection in the AFC, and so I have mild rooting interests in its games as well. I cannot think of a single time I have watched an NFL game completely indifferent to its outcome. Continue reading »
“I recognized no equals. I always considered myself more intelligent than everyone else, as I’ve told you, but also more sensitive and more skillful, a crack shot, an incomparable driver, a better lover.”
—Albert Camus, The Fall
Truth be told, I didn’t watch the Sunday Night game between the Patriots and Colts; I had “better things to do.” Now I kind of wished I had watched it, being that it was only the best game of this regular season and included one of the most stunning coaching decisions in NFL history.
Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 from his own 28 was no doubt surprising, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t rational, like any proper blindsiding from Survivor. Perhaps even more surprising has been the aftermath of the decision, where close to (if not) a majority of sportswriters have supported the decision. Joe Posnanski was behind it (obvs…if he weren’t, I wouldn’t be), citing The New York Times’s statistics. Three of the four guys on Around the Horn liked it, and the one who didn’t was Jay Mariotti, who defended his position by telling the others, “You’re idiots.” Most people in this Fanhouse roundtable supported it, too. Even Gregg Easterbrook defended it, but I don’t really count him as a sportswriter.
Of course, not everyone was behind the call. David Fleming at ESPN—who I had never heard of before—called it “uncharacteristically panicky,” a notion that seems to be rebutted by Charlie Weis saying it was likely planned. Mike Francesa thought it was moronic. And Rodney Harrison called it the dumbest decision Belichick had ever made, which I thought was ignorant of perspective.*
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“Mediocrity seeks to endure by any means, including bronze. We refuse its claims to eternity, but it makes them every day. Isn’t mediocrity itself eternity?”
The Saints’ remarkable comeback victory over the Dolphins late Sunday means that there are three undefeated teams through seven weeks for the first time in NFL history. There are also three winless teams, who lost their most recent game by 28, 36, and 59 points, respectively.
And this is supposed to be the league of parity?
Let’s consider this for a moment: For at least the last decade, all talk of the NFL and its place within the context of the four major sports has included the word “parity.” Most people interpret “parity” in this context to mean equality within seasons, when really it more accurately refers to equality across them. The NFL produces just as many dominant teams as the NBA or Major League Baseball does. In fact, if pressed into naming a Team of the Decade across sports, the answer would almost certainly be the New England Patriots (in the same way that the 49ers could make a claim to it in the ‘80s, if we exclude hockey and the Oilers).
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Summoned to give evidence regarding what was a sort of crime, he has exercised the restraint that behooves a conscientious witness. All the same, following the dictates of his heart, he has deliberately taken the victims’ side and tried to share with his fellow citizens the only certitudes they had in common—love, exile, and suffering. Thus he can truly say there was not one of their anxieties in which he did not share, no predicament of theirs that was not his.
These words, coming toward the end of Albert Camus’ 1948 allegory of German occupation, The Plague, serve as both the revelation of the novel’s narrator* and the mission statement of its author. The Plague is at once a very informative and very misleading title, for the novel is, practically, about a plague that overtakes the Algerian city of Oran. Theoretically, however, the novel is less about disease than about the mental shackles placed on an imprisoned population, with the plague acting as a stand-in for the occupation of France during World War II.**
*Shh…it’s kind of a secret. And I mean “kind of” here literally, in that it’s only “kind of” a secret.
**Funny story: I first read The Plague in high school on my own with no knowledge or inference of its allegory, even though it was pretty explicit upon my re-reading in college. It is a testament to Camus’ abilities as a writer that the novel works regardless.
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