Archive for October, 2009

The Mets Fan’s Nightmare

So it’s come to this. We didn’t only have to endure losing hundreds of millions of dollars to a Ponzi scheme, we didn’t only have to endure injuries to our five best players, we didn’t only have to endure a dropped pop-up to lose a game to our crosstown rivals, we didn’t only have to endure our general manager blaming his own firing of a team executive on a newspaper reporter and then having to apologize—twice—for it, we didn’t only have to endure a 92-loss season.

Now we have to endure this: a World Series between our two most hated rivals that appears, on paper, to be one of the most compelling matchups in decades.

Things, as they say, have been better for Mets fans.

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Unabated to the QB, Week 7: The Right to Parity

manning brees

“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?”

—Albert Camus

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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Learn How to Swim

Chuck Klosterman did an interview with The A.V. Club in which, in honor of Halloween, he discusses his fears. Here is an excerpt:

A few years ago, that movie Open Water was out. I can’t swim, so of course the idea… It’s really hard for people who can swim to relate to this. If you can’t swim, the idea of being in nine feet of water is terrifying, much less the ocean. So when I saw the trailer for that movie, I just couldn’t fathom seeing it. I get no pleasure from that. People who can swim just can’t get it. They’ll push you into the water, assuming that you must be lying.

The interview is, as all interviews involving Klosterman are, very much worth reading. But I don’t want to talk about Klosterman right now; I want to talk about people who don’t know how to swim.

For some reason, it seems unreasonable to me that some people don’t know how to swim. I don’t know why. Swimming hasn’t been essential to the survival of the human race for a few millennia now, and unless you’re a lifeguard, a pirate, or an employee of the Coast Guard, I don’t see it really being integral to your day-to-day life. And it’s not like I swim very often myself. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while incubating ourselves from the threat of flu…


  • Too big to win? We can only wonder what adjective Slate could have used if Jim McGreevey had stayed in the race six years ago.

The Anthologist and the Abandonment of Plot

anthologist

A few months ago, Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist came out to a reception of some very generous reviews. This shouldn’t be totally surprising; Baker’s book, about a minor poet struggling to write the introduction to his forthcoming anthology of rhyme, is infectious and endearing. Paul Chowder, the poet in question, spends a lot of time thinking about poetry, meter, rhyme schemes, free verse, as well as his ex-girlfriend Roz, his career, and his financial situation.

But here’s the thing: Chowder doesn’t actually do much of anything for the entire novel. He sits in his attic, he walks his dog, he picks blueberries—but there is no real plot at all. In fact, there aren’t really any other characters: Paul interacts with some people, but nobody for more than a few pages at a time, and nobody who gets more than the most superficial treatment.

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this. Baker is clearly more concerned with developing Paul than he is with introducing a plot. And spending a few hundred pages in Paul’s mind provides a telling illustration of writer’s block, specifically the kind of a writer so infatuated with and invested in a certain subject; Paul is paralyzed at the thought of saying anything about poetry, for fear of saying something wrong or not expressing himself completely. Continue reading

Happy Time for Pardon the Interruption

Now, I didn’t get ESPN until right before Pardon the Interruption debuted eight years ago Thursday, so I don’t really know what ESPN’s afternoon programming looked like. I imagine there were a lot of SportsCenter reruns, maybe some extra NFL Lives just in case we weren’t sure how OTAs were going in mid-June, and possibly some Up Close with Gary Miller.

Eight years later, those SportsCenters aren’t reruns but rather the same show aired again live, those NFL Lives air at night, and Up Close with Gary Miller has been upstaged by the YES Network’s CenterStage with Michael Kay. ESPN’s afternoons, meanwhile, have been revolutionized by the show we affectionately call PTI.

It’s funny when you think about how something so derivative itself could spark a revolution. It would be like Rob Thomas becoming the new voice of a generation. PTI simply preyed on the well-known idea that people enjoy sports and sports debate. All Pardon the Interruption essentially did was take the idea of sports talk radio and put it on television.

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Thoughts on Conspiracy Theories

Zapruder

The History Channel recently aired a special about the Kennedy Assassination called “Beyond Conspiracy” that was meant to discredit the many widespread conspiracy theories about President Kennedy’s death. Predictably, it only served to reawaken my interest in these theories.

It’s not that I necessarily believe that Kennedy was killed by the CIA, or the Mafia, or the Russians; I just think that the JFK assassination is a great illustration of how people can look at the same event and see completely opposing things. Continue reading