I loved our first two shows, but this might be our best episode yet -- just because, like anyone else embarking on a new project, we're learning. I hope you enjoy it:
the ride with this blog is worth the fall
He speaks in your voice, American, and there's a shine in his eye that's halfway hopeful. --Underworld by Don DeLilloThen there are those openings that are especially notable because they arrive from an unexpected narrative position:
I am a sick man . . . I am a wicked man. --Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky
My father, unlike so many of the men he served with, knew just what he wanted to do when the war was over. --The Risk Pool by Richard Russo
We were fractious and overpaid. --Then We Came to the End by Joshua FerrisAnd a trio of endings I liked:
You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. --Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out. --Infinite Jest by David Foster WallaceAnyone care to share their favorite beginnings and/or ends?
But that was just a story, something that people will tell themselves, something to pass the time it takes for the violence inside a man to wear him away, or to be consumed itself, depending on who is the candle and who is the light. --Angels by Denis Johnson
He told me what he was going to do when he won his money then I said it was time to go tracking in the mountains, so off we went, counting our footprints in the snow, him with his bony arse clicking and me with the tears streaming down my face. --The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe
Though it is a natural impulse to believe that the excruciating film one is watching today is on a par with the excruciating films of yesterday, this is a slight to those who have worked long and hard to make movies so moronic that the public will still be talking about them decades later. Anyone can make a bad movie; Kate Hudson and Adam Sandler make them by the fistful. Anyone can make a sickening movie; we are already up to Saw IV. Anyone can make an unwatchable movie; Jack Black and Martin Lawrence do it every week. And anyone can make a comedy that is not funny; Jack Black and Martin Lawrence do it every week. ... A generically appalling film like The Hottie and the Nottie is a scab that looks revolting while it is freshly coagulated; but once it festers, hardens and falls off the skin, it leaves no scar. By contrast, a truly bad movie, a bad movie for the ages, a bad movie made on an epic, lavish scale, is the cultural equivalent of leprosy: you can't stand looking at it, but at the same time you can't take your eyes off it.For his king of the all-time stinkers, Queenan selects Heaven's Gate, "a movie in which Jeff Bridges pukes while mounted on roller skates."
Even in horse racing, where track records are a fairly common occurrence, an animal just does not go around beating an established mark by nearly three seconds. It would be as if Joe Namath threw 10 touchdown passes in a game or Jack Nicklaus shot a 55 in the Open.Then, a more far-ranging article by George Plimpton about a lesser race run just a few weeks after the Belmont:
Such was the exhilaration at Belmont that even the jockeys on the losing horses were caught up in it. They joked and carried on after the race, intoxicated by what had happened, as if they were pleased, even though vanquished, to have been identified with Secretariat's historic triumph.And this gem, from the same article:
For some people the fan letter is not enough. They must come to see him. When Secretariat arrived at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, an elderly couple, the Ray Klings from Glenview, Ill., were there to meet him. They had waited four hours. Apparently the Klings have a penchant for going to arrivals of this sort. They had seen Whirlaway unloaded at Midway Airport years before. "He was some ham, that Whirlaway," Mrs. Kling said, thinking back to that day. Secretariat was only in sight for 10 seconds or so as he came down the ramp from his Electra turboprop and disappeared into a van. Asked if the four-hour wait was worth it, Mrs. Kling replied, "Yes, heavens yes. This is much more exciting than Lindbergh's landing. And I was there," she added defiantly.
I confess myself baffled by Obama supporters who can't fathom why the Reverend Wright is suddenly a big deal. The lunacy, the stupidity, and the poisonous conspiracy theory-mongering of his sermons should trouble anyone who hears them. The fact that Obama treats the man as his spiritual advisor and subjects his children to his rants calls his judgment into serious question.That makes perfect sense to me. If Obama believes, and I think he does, that his own story proves how we’re capable of moving forward as a country, with effort, then why would he want his smart children -- who, as the next generation, have the potential to build on the progress that’s come before -- to listen to someone who’s entrenched in battles that Obama considers outdated and counterproductive? It’s a good question.
This was the context for the suggestion by Sporting Life, which really should have known better, to take away outfielders' gloves and allow only small ones to the pitcher and infielders. "The big mitt has made the ballplayer," an editorial harrumphs in 1908. "We have no desire to revert to the glove-less game, but there is a wide margin between no gloves and the present huge mitts which enable the veriest dub to face a cannon shot."2. There was a bizarre rash of baseball suicides in that era, including George "Win" Mercer in 1903, who inhaled gas. Mercer "was so handsome and popular that his ejection from a game on Ladies' Day in 1897 sparked a riot by the disappointed females." He also left this sentiment in his suicide note: "Beware of women and a game of chance."
The argument was ludicrous, even at the time. The "huge mitts" are webless slabs of leather little bigger than a man's hand. As for allowing the veriest dub to face a cannon shot, that was the point. It took an idiot, not a hero, to stick his hand in front of a hard-hit line drive, which is one of the reasons why games in the preglove era had scores like 103-14.
In 1903, Waddell had a good season; once he finally bothered to show up in June, he won twenty-one games and led the league in strikeouts (with 302). It was a busy year in other ways, too: he also starred on vaudeville; led a marching band through Jacksonville; got engaged, married, and separated; rescued a log from drowning (he thought it was a woman); accidentally shot a friend; and was bitten by a lion. ... Among his more respectable hobbies were chasing fires (he adored fire engines) and wrestling alligators; he once taught geese to skip rope. Hughie Jennings, manager of the Tigers, used to try to distract him from the sidelines by waving children's toys.
In athletics, as in so many other human activities, superior performance is generally attained through training and practice. One gets to run faster by running; one builds up endurance by enduring; one increases one's strength by using it on ever-increasing burdens. Likewise with the complex specific skills of the game--hitting, fielding, and throwing the baseball. The capacity to be improved is improved by using it; the deed to be perfected is perfected by doing it. In many cases, of course, no amount of practice can overcome one's limited natural endowments: nature dispenses her unequal gifts with little regard for any abstract principle of "fairness." Yet however mysterious the source and the distribution of each person's natural potential, the individual's cultivation of his natural endowments is intelligible. As agents and as spectators, we can understand the connection between effort and improvement, between activity and experience, between work and result. We appreciate self-achieved excellence because it flows from and manifests the presence of an active, excellence-seeking self.And:
A game comprises more than competing moves calculated for, or justified solely, by the result. Consider the best human chess player playing against a chess-playing computer--an outstanding human being facing off against an outstanding human artifact. Are man and machine really "playing chess"? On one level, they are indeed playing the same game, making intelligible moves according to the same rules. Yet the computer "plays" the game rather differently--with no uncertainty, no nervousness, no sweaty palms, no active mind, and, most crucially, with no desires or hopes regarding future success. The computer's way of "playing" is really a kind of simulation--the product of genuine human achievement, to be sure, but not the real thing: playing chess. By building computers that "play" perfect chess, we change the meaning of the activity itself, reorienting the very character of our aspiration from becoming great chess players to producing the best-executed game of chess.
At 32, David Gordon Green is five years younger than Paul Thomas Anderson and six years younger than Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. The fact is worth noting, not because Green has calcified an aesthetic and turned himself into a mini-industry like the other three, but because he hasn’t. He still has the room (and time) to become the best director of his generation.
During the mid-1980s, Sgt. Slaughter released a full length LP, Sgt. Slaughter and Camouflage Rocks America. It featured a number of original songs, including "The Cobra Clutch," as well as a cover of Neil Diamond's "America.")One more anecdote about my dad that I think is worth sharing, this one involving Slaughter himself:
Mildred: I had to park three blocks away. It started to rain, so I ran the last two blocks. Then my heel got caught in the subway grating. When I pulled my foot out, I stepped in a puddle. Then a cab went by and splashed my stockings. If the hardware store downstairs was open, I was going to buy a knife and kill myself.
The physical layout of the game is perfectly adjusted to the human skills it is meant to display and to call into graceful exercise.And this, which actually hadn't occurred to me in quite this way:
...baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball, and this has the remarkable effect of concentrating the excitement of plays at different points of the field at the same time. Will the runner cross the plate before the fielder gets to the ball and throws it to home plate, and so on.Coincidentally, I was in the middle of drafting another post that briefly references Rawls when I came upon this. Should be up in the next day or two.
What else is the American dream if not the theory and practice of self-invention? How otherwise define the American way of life if not as a ceaseless effort to boost performance, hype the message, enhance the product? Deny an aging outfielder the right to inject himself with human-growth hormone, and what does one say to the elderly philanthropist who steps out of an evening with a penile implant and a flower in his lapel?
Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.
By focusing on these films, Harris has fleshed out a pivotal moment in cinematic (and American) history, but his fashionably portentous subtitle ignores the fact that the New Hollywood died very young. By the late ’70s, Jaws and Star Wars would set the template for everything that was to come — metastasizing sequels, screenplays inspired by action figures, a scorched-earth release schedule in which movies built to make or break in their first 48 hours simultaneously flooded thousands of screens across the country.
(Paul) Mazursky, here at least, is a director who likes people — both the characters in his movie and the audience watching it. He trusts them to be complex, intelligent creatures who can feel conflicting things and hold more than one idea in their heads at a time. He gives us a movie that’s adult in its comprehension of the world and its take on relationships, in the way it’s both light and serious, clear-eyed but still hopeful.And she cites Roger Ebert, who in 1978 wrote this beauty:
An Unmarried Woman is such a good picture not because it states vast truths about men and women but because it finds that there are none; its heroine and, maybe the rest of us, are in a muddle most of the time, and depend more than we’d want to admit on old friendships, white wine, and quiet desperation to get us through.
The coalition of either Clinton or Obama will fade in August. And then what? Reagan won the Democrats Clinton is winning for good reasons. If people want to boil it down to racism this time, that seems to be a little naive and not a very intellectual argument. How does Obama keep "those people" in the party? My point is the kinds of posts on this blogs is not the way.Me:
Joe, I think you have a good point: "Reagan won the Democrats Clinton is winning for good reasons." I agree. That said, Obama is likewise winning many independents and Republicans for a reason. (My father and stepmother, lifelong Republicans, both voted for Obama yesterday in Dallas.) As an Obama supporter (and more tepid "Democrat-in-general" supporter), what I'm arguing is that Obama has the potential to beat McCain, say, 58-42, if everything breaks his way. I still don't see a scenario where Hillary beats him any better than 51-49 (remember, her husband never won a plurality), and I can easily imagine him beating her. The fact is, I haven't heard a lot of Clinton supporters saying there's "no way" they would vote for Obama in November, but you hear the opposite a lot, and I really don't think it has anything to do with latte.
In his latest novel, Mr. Price puts his myriad gifts together to create his most powerful and galvanic work yet, a novel that showcases his sympathy and his street cred and all his skills as a novelist and screenwriter: his gritty-lyrical prose, his cinematic sense of pacing, his uncanny knowledge of the nooks and crannies of his characters’ hearts. “Lush Life” is a novel that gives us a wide, 3-D Imax portrait of a small corner of New York City (the Lower East Side of a few years ago, at that hinge point in time, when young hipsters were beginning to push out the immigrants and the working poor), a novel that captures Manhattan’s magnetic appeal to dreamers and drifters, and its ability to crush the weak and unlucky and turn their dreams into disappointment and rage.
“the joy of being spanked, in words and videos”And my personal favorite, because it brushes against my world view:
“opposite sex siblings in apartments in wisconsin”
“annoying things about protestant church services”
“car noise thesis”
“which direction would you head if you wanted to travel from Texas to South Dakota”
“to live is to be afraid and continue even though”
“You can make this picture for teenagers, late teenagers, early twenties, or you play it for kids, and that’s what we’re going for, eight- and nine-year-olds. This is a Disney movie.”And later, discussing the potential audience:
“Only kids -- I’ve made a Walt Disney movie, a cross between Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. It’s gonna do maybe eight, ten million.”If, like me, you hadn't heard of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, here's a summary. (Even better, here's the tremendous opening credits sequence -- has there ever been a better title song for a movie?)