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    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Sports: And Welcome to Fantasy Baseball

    One last note on the end of the 2008 season. I can now report the results of my first foray into the timesuck that is fantasy baseball. When I weighed in at the All-Star Break, I had finally muscled my way out of last place. At the time, I set three modest goals for myself. In the interests of completion, let’s see how I fared.

    I fervently hope to stay out of the cellar. I think I have a shot.


    I would accept finishing ahead of the person who dared me to play.

    Mission accomplished. Take that, Karma! (For the record, I am not taunting the Eastern belief that our actions in this life have consequences in the next. My friend Karma dared me to join her league, in part by saying that if I was in it she wouldn’t come in last. As it happens, she didn’t come in last, either.)

    Ideally, I’d like to make the top half of the field. I do not expect this to happen.

    I was wrong. I finished fifth out of ten, closer in points to the top than to the bottom. I’m not saying that this is the equal of the Red Sox’s staggering comeback in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. I’m saying it’s comparable.

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    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Baseball: Actually, I Do Care If I Never Get Back

    For the second consecutive year, the New York Mets took their season down to the final game. And for the second consecutive year, the team fell short.

    I can live with that. I am a Mets fan. I am inured to disappointment, conditioned to keep my expectations in check.

    It does sadden me that for the second consecutive year, the Mets squandered a truly titanic performance from one of their pitchers in the season’s penultimate game, a Herculean effort that made the drama of #162 possible. And it kills me that they couldn’t win the last regular season match-up ever to be played in Shea Stadium. For old times’ sake.

    A few days ago, when the Mets were in the thick of both the wild card and NL East hunts, sportswriter Tim Brown wrote, “say what you will, they do drama like no one else.” That attitude helps take the sting out of another almost-but-not-quite season: view it as a soap opera. It had all the ingredients. The lingering shadows of last season’s collapse, big personalities, late-night executions, sudden reversals, a heart-in-your-mouth ending. If it were a TV show, I’d set the DVR for it.

    I’ll remember the 2008 Mets season with fondness, in large part because I got to see them play at Shea one final time. Yes, I know that if their patchwork bullpen, an Achilles heel all year that imploded down the stretch, had held onto a lead in just one game, today’s drama would have been unnecessary. I know if their spotty offense had advanced a runner in scoring position in just one game, a playoff berth would have been theirs.

    But the end of the season always puts me in a philosophical mood. So here’s something else that I know. If the last game of the season counts, then all the games before it count. Every single one, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.

    It’s a lesson that all baseball fans know. Even Yankee fans. It’s just that lately, Mets fan have been learning it the hard way.

    All season long, I’ve followed my team at my friend Mike’s blog Mets Fan Club. Thanks also to the guys at Faith & Fear in Flushing. This wrap-up post is particularly fine. And here’s the New York Times’s George Vecsey saying goodbye to Shea.

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    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    On The Web: The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

    I can’t believe I didn’t mention this yesterday. More than one person told me about it, and Bill Crider even thinks I’m responsible. But The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three in its glorious entirety is now free on Hulu. Meaning you have no excuse not to have seen the greatest motion picture ever made.

    TV: The Olympics Opening Ceremonies

    Director Zhang Yimou did an extraordinary job with last night’s spectacle, even if the Death Star made an appearance and Lang Lang had Heat Miser’s hair.

    DVD: Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008)

    Forget the Olympics. Nothing in recent memory has stirred my patriotism like this movie. USA! USA! USA!

    Miscellaneous: An Open Letter to Senator John Edwards

    Dear Senator Edwards:

    Jesus, man, you’re a trial lawyer! You of all people should know there’s no way to keep an affair secret during a Presidential bid, even if you didn’t father the woman’s child and then pay her off. What if you’d actually gotten the nomination? A laughable notion, I know, but lawyers should consider every angle. I hereby retract every positive statement I have ever made about you, your policy positions, or your hair.

    Vince Keenan

    PS. OK. I stand by my statements about the hair.

    Miscellaneous: An Open Letter to the Various Cable News Networks

    Dear Various Cable News Networks:

    I understand how difficult it is to resist the siren song of the aforementioned scandal, particularly when Edwards himself says, “If you want to beat me up – feel free.” But could you maybe backburner the story for a spell while Russia is attacking another country? I’d kinda like to know what the hell is going on.

    Vince Keenan

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    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Book: Hit and Run, by Lawrence Block (2008)

    The philatelist assassin Keller returns in the latest from Lawrence Block. He’s in Iowa on what’s supposed to be his last job, and we all know how those turn out. (Why not just spontaneously decide to quit, so you’ll have wrapped up your last job before you know that’s what it is? That’s my plan.) He’s so focused on his target and his stamps that he barely notices it’s election season. He becomes aware of it in a big hurry when one of the presidential candidates is gunned down, and Keller becomes the sole suspect. After all, who better to frame for murder than a professional killer?

    With that premise, you might expect a globetrotting, grandstanding international thriller. I certainly did. But Block works against those expectations, delivering a sweaty, close-quarters novel that has more in common with the Gold Medal books of his early career. How can Keller make his way across the country without cash or a workable identity when he’s the subject of a manhunt? How can he rebuild his life? The big questions of who’s behind the assassination and why are answered, but in an almost throwaway manner. It’s amazing how effective that approach is. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. Lawrence Block takes a crackerjack set-up and turns it into what he does best: a Lawrence Block novel.

    Sports: An Open Letter to Brett Favre

    Dear Brett,

    I thought you should know that your recent shenanigans have not only tarnished your NFL legacy, they have also completely ruined the ending of There’s Something About Mary for me. Thanks, champ.

    Vince Keenan

    PS. You should have gone to Tampa.

    Miscellaneous: Video Link

    Tough day? Why not practice the art of relaxating?

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    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    New York Report: Medical Update

    Rosemarie’s back from the doctor and hobbling around in one of those walking boots. Turns out she sprained her foot while racing to Sardi’s for a cocktail before curtain. Making her the first person to injure herself in such a fashion since Kitty Carlisle Hart.

    New York Report: The Old Neighborhood

    The entire reason for scheduling our trip at this time was to see one last New York Mets game at Shea Stadium before the exodus across the parking lot to Citi Field. It’s pointless to rehash a week-old sporting event, so let’s focus on the color commentary.

    We headed to Flushing early, because it’s where Rosemarie grew up. She took me to her childhood haunts – the candy store turned cell phone shop, the former A&P. Her block, in her words, “is an inch long.” We took photos of her old house, alarming the contractors in the process of remodeling it. We also stopped by her school, not hard considering it’s across the street.

    Flushing is renowned for inexpensive and delicious Chinese food. But where to go? We were still without internet access. After a scouting expedition we settled on a restaurant that still had customers late in the afternoon, taking that for a good sign. Plus it had “Gourmet” in the name, and who’d lie about a thing like that? They certainly didn’t. (Note what a later web search turned up.)

    Next stop was Flushing Meadow Park. When I was a kid it was the only green area around. Not only did I have to take the subway there, I had to change trains at 74th Street. Never seemed out of the ordinary to me.

    Then it was game time. We met up with our friends Mike and Paula. (Here are Mike’s pre- and post-game reports.)

    It was merengue night. We didn’t stay for the show.

    Call me a traditionalist, but I miss the old blue and orange panels that used to hang from Shea’s exterior. They gave the stadium what character it had.

    A recent New York Times article on baseball cuisine reviewed the food at every major league ballpark. The verdict on Shea: eat the hot dogs and nothing else. New York law now requires fast-food outlets to post calorie information. This explains how I know that two Nathan’s hot dogs are roughly equal to a bag of peanuts. This made me feel better until I realized that no one consumes an entire bag of peanuts in one sitting. Even in extra innings.

    For the record, I ate two hot dogs and no peanuts. Apparently those things’ll kill you.

    Carvel ice cream is also sold at Shea. Talk about childhood haunts. Carvel soft serve would be my treat for getting good grades on my report card. Mike told me that the real prize dessert-wise was the lemon ice, which would last “a good three, four innings.” Only they weren’t available at any of the food outlets in the mezzanine. We’d have to wait for a vendor. By the seventh inning I gave up; “a good three, four innings” meant I’d be finishing it on the 7 train, not known for its dining ambiance. So we had Carvel instead. I didn’t bother to read the calorie information.

    Halfway through the sundae I remembered something: Carvel ice cream isn’t that good.

    There were a pair of homers in the game, a two-run shot from a reinvigorated Carlos Delgado and a career first for the Mets’ young second baseman Argenis Reyes. I was so excited to see the giant apple behind the center field wall light up twice that I forgot to take pictures each time.

    I did the “Jose, Jose, Jose” chant, along with “Everybody Clap Your Hands!” Beats doing it at home all by yourself. But that’s true of so much in life.

    Top of the ninth, one out with a six-run Mets lead, and who magically appears behind us? The lemon ice vendor. Thanks for nothing, guy.

    The Mets win and we join the throng filing into the IRT station. The “super express” gets us back into Manhattan in no time flat. During the ride, we have a pleasant conversation with a Cardinals die-hard who flew in for the series. Mets fans, magnanimous in victory.

    Barring a miracle, the next Mets game I see will be in Citi Field. Across the parking lot, but a world away.

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    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Sports: All-Star Break Report

    From Dan Barry’s Sunday New York Times article on Billy Joel:

    Someone must sing a proper song of farewell for Shea Stadium, the nice try of a coliseum in Queens, as its dismantling draws near and a new ballpark rises just yards away. But that someone must be able to convey emotions specific to the place, emotions beyond the sadness of many lost Mets summers and the euphoria of two World Series championships. There is so much more.

    The romantic idealism and the yeah-right realism. The quickness to mock and to take offense. The need to prove oneself better than any Upper East Side twit and the guilt from having conceived such a hollow ambition. The restlessness, angst and ache of the striver. The Long Island of it all.

    Had they asked to use my photo as an illustration, I would have obliged. The conflicted soul described above? C’est moi.

    But who cares? We got ourselves a pennant race!

    After a half-season of drama that reached dangerous Melrose Place levels, the Mets closed strong, winning nine straight. They’re now only a half-game out of first. A few weeks back, they seemed to be staring down another lost Mets summer. Man, I love baseball.

    Lots of critical games in the weeks ahead – and yours truly will get to see one of them. I want to say goodbye to Shea myself, no matter if it’s “not even the nicest ballpark in its own parking lot anymore.” Or if, according to some, it stinks.

    I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Vince, how are you doing in fantasy baseball?” Well, curse you for asking.

    As I’m sure none of you remember, I dithered on the subject of joining a fantasy league. Not too long ago I saw World Series announcer Joe Buck on Bob Costas’s HBO show say that he’d played fantasy baseball only once and came in dead last. I passed this salient fact on to my friend Mike, who replied, “Buck is old school. He probably drives a Buick and has dinner at 4:30 p.m. and watches Judge Judy.”

    I was essentially goaded into participating this year by a friend of Rosemarie’s. I am pleased to say that after spending most of the season mired in last place, I have clawed my way up to eighth out of ten. There’s a lot of churn where I am; just before the All-Star break I lost a mere half-point and dropped two slots.

    My goals for the year are modest. Ideally, I’d like to make the top half of the field. I do not expect this to happen. I would accept finishing ahead of the person who dared me to play. Currently that is the case, but how long that status stays quo is anybody’s guess. I fervently hope to stay out of the cellar. I think I have a shot.

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    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Sports Rant: Black and Blue and Orange

    It’s never easy being a fan of the New York Mets. But it’s been particularly difficult lately. First there was last September’s epic collapse, presided over by manager Willie Randolph. Then this season’s mediocre run, compounded by constant rumors of Willie’s imminent dismissal and mixed signals from the front office.

    All of that paled in comparison to last night’s shenanigans. Following a win in Anaheim, Willie and two coaches were fired at 3:15 AM EST. The Mets management apparently believes that fans, lulled by the pastoral rhythms of the game, are unfamiliar with the internet.

    Say what you will about Willie – and I’ve said a lot – he didn’t deserve the treatment he received this season. He certainly didn’t warrant being dismissed under cover of darkness in what Fox’s Ken Rosenthal calls “one of the most shameful episodes in sports history.”

    I could rant on and on. Instead, I’ll just point you toward this piece. Or this one. Or this one. Or you can pick your favorite search engine, type in “Mets” and your pejorative of choice, and read what turns up.

    All this plus the Mariners have the worst record in the majors, and I’m sucking wind in my first foray into fantasy baseball. It’s a grand old game.

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    Monday, February 04, 2008

    Miscellaneous: Thrills, Agonies, Defeats

    The Super Bowl: I should have known something was up when a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan told me he wanted the Giants to derail the Patriots’ perfect season. When an Iggles fan roots for the team’s most hated divisional rival – in the Super Bowl – then truly unholy forces have been unleashed upon the world. I’m surprised that a cloud of locusts did not enshroud all of Glendale, Arizona, that crows didn’t peck Tom Brady’s eyes out (maybe that’s why they closed the roof), that the earth did not open up and swallow Wes Welker whole. I woke up on Sunday and sensed a great shadow on the land. New England never had a chance.

    The Half-Time Show: Missed it. I watched an episode of The Venture Brothers instead. I couldn’t risk a Tom Petty wardrobe malfunction.

    The Commercials: Lousy crop this year. My favorite was the hot-air balloons.

    How to follow up such brutal competition? With even more! The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary about the battle to set the world record for the highest score in Donkey Kong, is hands down one of the best movies of 2007. It’s got everything: high drama, memorable characters, head fakes, last-second twists, even a training montage. And the DVD is packed with dandy extras. Rent it now.

    When the movie ended, Rosemarie said, “That was more intense than the game!” Coming from a Big Blue fan on the greatest day in the team’s history, that’s high praise indeed.

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    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Book: Grub, by Elise Blackwell (2007)

    It’s funny to realize how few novels I’ve read about novelists. You always hear that there are too many books about literary life. No doubt this is true. But unless the protagonists are accused of murder or battling vampires, odds are I’m not going to pick those titles up.

    Grub, however, may have changed my mind. Elise Blackwell’s novel is an elaborate contemporary re-imagining of New Grub Street, the 1891 satire of the London publishing world by George Gissing. I’m not familiar with Gissing’s book, but I have read the Wikipedia entry, which qualifies me as an authority.

    Aside from moving the action to New York, Blackwell apparently hasn’t changed much. Nor does she have to; ambition, jealousy and fear are constants in the writer’s lot. She smartly updates the Victorian conventions of Gissing’s novel. More impressively, she recreates the feel of reading one of the books of that period, with its rich stew of characters and incident. Success, failure, romance, secret identities, and endings that come in degrees of happiness. There’s something for everyone. Lovely stuff.

    Sports: The Road to Recovery

    The Phillies, who outlasted my New York Mets, are already out of the post-season. The Yankees also made an early exit. Which means I can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the baseball playoffs.

    I have moved on from the Mets’ late-season collapse with the aid of mental health professionals. The other day I even wore my Mets cap in public again.

    Complete Stranger in Supermarket: I haven’t been brave enough to put mine on yet.

    Me: You gotta man up, son. Next year starts right now.

    Complete Stranger in Supermarket: You’ve inspired me.

    Sadly, that exchange is the supreme accomplishment of my life so far.

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    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Miscellaneous: The September Stuff-I-Didn’t-Get-To Post

    Lonely Hearts. The sordid tale of Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, who murdered at least a dozen women in the late 1940s, was told in The Honeymoon Killers and Deep Crimson. Now Todd Robinson, grandson of one of the Long Island detectives who brought the pair to justice, recounts the case from their perspective. His low-key but gripping style honors the memory of his grandfather, played by John Travolta. I was concerned about Salma Hayek as Martha Beck, a fearsome woman who weighed over 200 pounds. But Salma finds her own ways to be fearsome.

    The Wounded and the Slain, by David Goodis. Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a pulp novel about a couple getting caught up in murder while on vacation in Jamaica. It’s a brutal portrait of a marriage in crisis that cuts to the bone.

    The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet. You think you know how bad a sexploitation version of the Bard’s classic filmed in the style of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In – complete with repeated references to “beautiful downtown Verona,” women hollering “Sock it to me!” during sex, and cutaways to lame one-liners – can be. Then you watch the movie. And you realize you had no idea.

    Sports: That’s What I’m Talking About

    After the Mets collapse, what I needed was a game like last night’s instant classic between the Rockies and Padres to, as they said at Faith and Fear in Flushing, restore my belief in baseball. (I should have linked to FAFIF long before now. Some excellent writing to be found there even if you’re not a Mets fan.) Seeing Mets castoffs like Heath Bell and Kaz Matsui playing with fire was odd, but it allowed the healing to begin. I figured the Arizona Diamondbacks, who smoke-and-mirrored their way to the best record in the National League, would win the pennant. But I’m revising that opinion. Whoever makes it out of the Rockies/Phillies showdown, sure to be a corker, will be in the World Series and give the AL champ a run for their money.

    In Mets’ downfall news, ESPN’s Bill Simmons was so moved by the team’s collapse that he created an entirely new level of losing to describe it. What did he call it?

    The Goose/Maverick Tailspin.

    I had that on Sunday, Simmons. I want full credit. Top Gun is an obscure film no one remembers.

    And don’t let anyone tell you what happened to this team is not a tragedy. Lives are being destroyed by it.

    Miscellaneous: Links

    A moment of silence for The Tube, an excellent music channel gone too soon.

    Hey, Stephen Fry has a blog!

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    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Sports: Express Train To Mudville

    Leave us journey back, if you will, to a simpler, happier time. A time when your humble correspondent was a younger, more virile figure. I’m thinking about a month ago.

    The Seattle Mariners are in control of the wild card race and about to host the the Angels Angels of Anaheim (translation from the Spanish) in a crucial series. Take two out of three games and they’re in first place in the AL West. My beloved New York Mets, meanwhile, have a considerable lead on the competition. If they do well in a four-game stand against the second-place Phillies, the NL East will be decided early. I allow myself to fantasize about a Mets/Mariners World Series.

    Not that my loyalties would be divided. I follow the Mariners, because I live in Seattle. I root for the Mets, because they are the team of my Queens childhood. In my fantasy World Series they don’t beat the Mariners. They crush them in four perfect games.

    The Mariners get swept, never contend for the division again, and blow the wild card. They finish tied for the fifth best record in the AL. Not bad for a team that wasn’t expected to be a factor this year, but still disappointing.

    The Mets? Oh, where to begin ...

    They’re swept by Philadelphia, which prompts them to play their best baseball of the year. By September 12 they’d rebuilt their seven game lead, just in time for the Phillies to roll into Shea for a rematch.

    They were swept again. Thus beginning what sportswriters are calling the most complete regular season collapse in modern baseball history. (Post-season collapse honors still go to the 2004 Yankees.)

    The numbers are too ugly to contemplate. Still, let’s look at ‘em. The Mets closed out the year 5-12. They lost six of their last seven games at home to teams under .500.

    Yet somehow, this morning their fate was in their hands. Win the final game of the year and at worst they forced a playoff against the Phillies for the division, with a shot at the wild card as well. Win and 2007 could still be the Mets’ Tom Cruise year.

    You know how early in Cruise’s career he’d play cocky guys who had never been tested? Then Goose dies and Tom goes into freefall? But through adversity Tom recovers his swagger and proves that he’s every bit as good as he thought he was? Hell, better? That works for me.

    The thing is, Maverick never gave up seven runs in the top of the first inning. And the Mets finish out of time, out of chances, and out of the money.

    Making it worse, both the Mets and Phillies games were shown in their home markets over the air. Which meant I had to follow both games listening to the Marlins and the Nationals announcers praise their teams’ performances as spoilers. The compliments were deserved; both squads finished the season strong. But it’s not the same as hearing the joy from Philly, or the ruthless anatomization of a year gone wrong from the Mets booth crew, the best three-man team there is.

    I should be heartbroken, but the truth is I never embraced this Mets team the way I did last year’s. That bunch, which was a swing of Carlos Beltran’s bat away from the World Series, could never be counted out of any game. This year’s team lacked that fire, and seemed to play with a sense of entitlement. As if they were saying, “Remember what we almost did last season? We’re gonna almost do it this year, too.”

    On Thursday I told my friend Mike that I started wanting the Mets to choke because at least we’d get an epic failure out of it, something to make the season memorable. Years from now, when a team falters late, their fans will say, “Yeah, they suck, but it coulda been worse. It’s not like they were the 2007 Mets.”

    I know the idea of rooting for a team is irrational. A bunch of millionaires wearing a particular uniform has nothing to do with me, with the place where I grew up, with the memories of my boyhood. But that lure is powerful. The other day I spotted a guy wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates cap and T-shirt. The Bucs logged their fifteenth consecutive losing season this year, but still he was letting his colors fly. I respect that. Even more, I understand it. I understand it all too well.

    The 2007 Mets were overhyped, overconfident, underachieving assholes. But they were my overhyped, overconfident, underachieving assholes. And I’ll let my colors fly.

    But not today. Today I don’t need the aggravation.

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    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    Movie: Mr. Brooks (2007)

    Loads of lurid fun. We’ve got a pillar of the community who’s secretly a serial killer. An unwanted homicidal protégé. A daughter who may have inherited her father’s “addiction.” A millionaire detective. Plus a second serial killer who has broken out of jail to seek revenge. And Portland seemed so laid-back on my visits there. It’s like an entire spinner rack full of airport thrillers packed into one movie, pitched at a level just shy of hysteria but always maintaining its balance. The whole enterprise is agreeably nuts, and I had a hell of a time watching it.

    William Hurt is a blast as the title character’s murderous id. But it’s Kevin Costner’s show as the killer, and he’s damned impressive. Of course, I’m on the record about Mr. Costner. I’d now fold this movie into my argument.

    Sports: My Impoverished Fantasy Life, Part II

    Play, the New York Times’ excellent sports magazine, has not one but two articles on fantasy baseball in its latest issue. Neal Pollack writes about his obsession with leagues that use players from throughout the sport’s history. Bryan Curtis, meanwhile, dubs fantasy baseball’s ascendance “a minor revolution” that’s creating legions of postmodern fans:

    “There’s a wrongheaded notion that we are attracted to fantasy baseball because it reinforces all we love about baseball. In fact, we play fantasy baseball because it shields it from all that we hate about it.”

    In other words, blame steroids and lousy management.

    Personally, I’m more inclined to see fantasy baseball’s popularity as another manifestation of our collective inability to give ourselves over to something larger, along with the impulse toward participation that’s passed off as vaguely democratizing. You know, the same thing that’s affecting literary criticism and porn. And as goes the skin trade, so goes our national pastime.

    Or maybe, as I’ve said before, I simply don’t get fantasy baseball. Which is why I’m making my annual pledge: next year, I’m going to try it out. One team in one league, just to see. I’ll probably punk out as usual. But this time, I’m making the promise in public.

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    Wednesday, May 30, 2007

    Miscellaneous: Today’s Random Connection

    The other night I take down my copy of David Mamet’s 1988 play Speed-The-Plow. Yes, I keep Mamet around the house. Why? To learn some craft. To have a sense of How Things Are Done. To “study.” Because I – I feel that ... look. Like the man says, if you have to ask ...

    Two Hollywood executives are considering a pair of potential projects. One is a prison movie starring a box-office draw. The other is a book being given a courtesy read. A book by “A Very Famous Eastern Writer.” A book called The Bridge, or: Radiation and the Half-Life of Society. Or, as the execs call it, The Radiation Book. Here’s how some of it goes:

    “The wind against the Plains, but not a wind of change ... a wind like that one which he’d been foretold, the rubbish of the world – swirling, swirling ...”

    And more:

    “What was coming was a return to the self, which is to say, a return to God ... And the man saw that ... things were ending. Yes. That things must end. And that vouchsafed to him a vision of infinity.”

    What is it? “It’s a novel about the historical effects of radiation.” Yes, but What Is It About? Simple. It’s about The End Of The World. It’s about a man and a child. It’s about what we all feel. Everyone is frightened. Everything is breaking down. Things as we know them are over. Or, to quote the coverage: “the device of God, in all things, to prepare the world for its final decay.”

    In other words, it’s Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

    Not that I’ve read the book. I don’t do everything Oprah tells me to do. Besides, I’m waiting for the movie.

    Sports: My Impoverished Fantasy Life

    In Slate, David Roth writes about how fantasy baseball has destroyed his ability to enjoy the game – and, to his eternal shame, to root unabashedly for the New York Mets, currently riding high atop the NL East.

    Every season I say I’m going to join a fantasy league, and every season I don’t do it. I couldn’t tell you why. It just doesn’t interest me. Apparently, the only people left who still watch baseball games for the pure pastoral joy of the sport are Bob Costas, George Will and me. Company that’s not as august as you’d think. Just once I’d like to see one of those guys reach for his wallet when the hot dog vendor comes around.

    MLB’s Extra Innings package is pitched to fans who can’t watch their hometown teams. That’s why I sprang for it. But the true market is fantasy fanatics who want to follow their rosters in real time.

    You’d think access to a dozen-plus ballgames a day would up my interest in fantasy play. Nope. My viewing remains Mets-centric. Take last night. I caught most of the Mets/Giants game, an extra innings corker that ended with Armando Benitez, a former Mets reliever, getting called for two balks against Jose Reyes to bring the tying run across the plate before Carlos Delgado’s solo HR took it for the Mets in the bottom of the twelfth.

    To quote Strangers With Candy, “If you’re paying for cable and not watching TV, you’re losing money. It’s just simple economics.” So on I went to the end of the Braves/Brewers game, hoping the Mets’ division rivals would fall even further back. (They did.) I closed the evening out with a little of the Mariners/Angels. All games that I watched and enjoyed, you know, as games. No divided loyalties. No sweat involved.

    OK, I sweated a little during the Mets game. But that’s the price of being a true fan.

    Other baseball notes: Sports Illustrated on how Mets’ GM Omar Minaya transformed the team into a contender. Hat tip to my brother Sean. And a terrific baseball blog with a focus on the Los Angeles Dodgers written by ... Alyssa Milano?!?

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