Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"But to wait for you is all I can do."

For Wednesday, because his name came up earlier this week, this is Phil Collins doing "Against All Odds" at Live Aid in 1985. (If that being 25 years ago terrifies you, raise your hand.) Enjoy:


Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The first in what I hope will be a series in which I take photos of ads in the subway from afar, and then zoom in to a detail added by a citizen of New York. Like so:


AP Headline of the Day

Police Say Man Wrapped in Toilet Paper Robs Store

At the Movies

I’ve been meaning to write about a movie that I saw earlier this year (the best thing I’ve seen in 2010 so far), but now a couple of others have piled up. So I’ll get to the best at the bottom of this post. But I’ll start with Greenberg.

A big fan of Kicking and Screaming, a lukewarm admirer of The Squid and the Whale, and someone who avoided Margot at the Wedding because of how bad word of mouth was, I was expecting Greenberg to continue Noah Baumbach’s odd trajectory from sentimental wise-guy to curdled misanthrope. In some ways, it does, but I liked it more than I thought I would. It grew on me. I enjoyed the second half more than the first. Still, my two most prominent thoughts about it are both criticisms: First, the lovely Greta Gerwig (at left) is more complicated and interesting as Florence than Ben Stiller is as Roger Greenberg. (Roger is staying at his brother’s family’s house in California while they’re on vacation in Vietnam, and Florence is the brother’s personal assistant, who develops a relationship with Roger while he’s in town.) The opening scenes are of her alone in her car, and in many ways it feels like it should be her movie. With just a small bit of editing, and some different scenes near the end, the movie could have been called Florence, and I think it would have been stronger for it.

The second thing is something not unique to Greenberg, though it’s potently represented by it. It’s a general thought about the depiction of depressed people in movies. Greenberg has recently gotten out of the hospital after a nervous breakdown, and he treats Florence very badly. It’s possible that Greenberg is just a miserable person who anyone with even a modicum of social normalcy would ignore. But if I may, based on both Florence’s reactions to him and my own experience in life with people who are depressive, I would say it’s more likely that Greenberg is a roller coaster. It’s not that there aren’t people in the world who are just black clouds, pure and simple. It’s just more common that people who are depressive compensate for that (naturally, not calculatedly) with any number of other “skills,” like humor or intellect or storytelling. Thus, when the black cloud appears, the memory of those skills gets them some leeway from people that they might not otherwise enjoy. The problem is, Greenberg doesn’t attempt to show the roller coaster. Whatever Roger’s charms might be, they’re well hidden. It’s undoubtedly difficult -- both for a screenwriter and an actor -- to convincingly show highly complicated, dichotomous behavior within the course of two hours or so. But it might be rewarding to see them try more often.

I watched The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) over the weekend. Directed by Peter Yates (who also did the great Breaking Away), it only occasionally follows Coyle (Robert Mitchum), a small-time crook trying to decide whether to snitch on his clients, focusing instead on a broad range of bank robbers, gun runners, and hit men. The Criterion Collection’s DVD is, as always, terrific. As other people have noted, the movie’s soundtrack (in that cheesy 1970s land between funk and porn) has not aged well, but it’s not that distracting -- and even fits, since you couldn’t mistake the setting for any other time period. Everything else is great. The penultimate and final scenes, in particular, are perfectly done. You can watch a scene at the Criterion site, and see A. O. Scott’s video review of the movie here.

OK, now for the early best of 2010. Fish Tank is the second full-length feature by British director Andrea Arnold, and the acting debut of Katie Jarvis, who plays 15-year-old Mia. Jarvis is 18, and was noticed by a casting director while arguing with her boyfriend at a railway station. That’s a perfect story, because Mia is the angry working-class daughter of a single mother. Passionate about dance but disaffected about everything else, Mia’s life is changed by the appearance of her mother’s new boyfriend. The cast is uniformly excellent, but more importantly Arnold is a supremely assured filmmaker -- the look and feel of the movie make even the most minor moments part of an original whole. Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Chthonic Creatures and Peyote Breakfasts

Every time I see one of those ads that make me feel like my life is incomplete if I don't have a phone on which I can simultaneously talk to four friends, watch three different sporting events, start a small business, and book hotel rooms, I come that much closer to renting a small house in Saratoga, throwing my laptop in the Hudson on my way up there, and wishing you suckers luck with everything. Technology fetishism is out of control. That said, I'm on Twitter, and there's no denying it. So I figure that while I'm there, I should have some fun. To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, we are here to fart around. To that end, along with a good friend I've just started a new Twitter page called Imaginary Cormac, on which we post in our best approximation of the voice of Cormac McCarthy. The first nine entries are below. We hope you'll feel like following along.
A new horizon crackles along the edge of half-dark like the dream of a malevolent God. Twitter you think you are ready. You are not ready.

In the red gloaming a dwarf amanuensis crawls through the sagebrush kindling fire as he goes. Or Herb's kid got ahold of some sparklers.

Polenta sticks to All-Clad pans like the afterbirth of some chthonic creature not yet named.

Impossible to capture the God-rapture of horses and thunder in 140 characters. Maybe 150.

Just finished a creosote and peyote omelette. I’ll be in the shed for a few hours.

The day is beset by a rapacious darkening such that ocular mortals must abdicate mindfulness. Bedtime.

Taking votes for setting of my next novel: Ciudad Juárez before the dawn of time, the inside of a wolf’s mind, day care center.

A murderous androgynous raven flown from some distant sunless moon or moonless sun. Bieber.

Rooster woke me at dawn. Had him for breakfast at dawn:01.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Movie List: 55-51

55. “See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband to find out that you're not missing out on anything.”

Before Sunrise (1995)

I think there’s something like a critical consensus that the sequel, Before Sunset, is a better movie, and that might be true. But this one has a larger claim on me. I was in college when I read Anthony Lane’s enthusiastic review in The New Yorker. Finding the movie in San Antonio wasn’t going to be a cinch, but it did play at what passed for the local art house. I remain a sap, but I was a real sap back then, and the movie’s chatty flirtation knocked me over. It’s also associated with an anecdote I’ve probably shared before here, and that I love: I raved about it to a post-college girlfriend with whom I felt a strong connection. We rented it and watched in silence. I imagined, of course, that her silence was a product of rapt appreciation. As the credits rolled, she turned to me and asked, “Why did you like that?” Ah, love. In the glimpses I’ve seen since, I can imagine age might lessen this movie’s impact on me, but Richard Linklater’s calm touch still makes it a treat.

54. “You have no respect for order, you are arrogant, you’re disruptive, and you celebrate chaos!”

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

I wrote a full post about this movie soon after I saw it, which is here. It begins like this:

Albert Camus famously wrote that the most important philosophical question, the one that must be answered before any others can even be asked, is whether or not to commit suicide. It’s a question that wouldn’t occur to Poppy, the playful, tittering center of Mike Leigh’s terrific Happy-Go-Lucky.

Happiness is something that philosophers and artists alike largely ignore as a subject of study. Torment, tumult, grief, unrequited love, and boredom are more common inspiration. And the ledger shows that this is a good thing. On the one side, you have Anna Karenina, Mozart’s Requiem, David’s The Death of Marat, hell, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. On the other, you have “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

To examine the causes of suffering, and how we react to them, tends to be both more interesting and more edifying than portraying how we surf along on times of joy. But sustained happiness is another thing, and it would be fascinating -- maybe even helpful -- to see it depicted more often.

53. “I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion with you.”

Manhattan (1979)

This would have been a lot higher if I hadn’t rewatched it recently. It’s not that it’s bad (53 ain’t chopped liver). It’s just that . . . well, OK, parts of it are bad. Allen’s worship of New York is probably stronger when it’s less blatant than it is here, but still, Gershwin on top of black-and-white shots of the city is a good combination any way you can get it. And even though Allen's character's relationship with Muriel Hemingway’s character was stilted and creepy even before, you know, real life unfolded, and even though Diane Keaton’s character takes some time to like . . . OK, I’m going to talk myself out of this choice if I’m not careful. No, no, I’m still a sucker for the New York stuff, and the movie is funny, like when Allen says, “My first wife was a kindergarten teacher. She got into drugs, and she moved to San Francisco; went into est, became a Moonie. She’s with the William Morris Agency now.” Or when he accuses someone of being “the winner of the Zelda Fitzgerald Emotional Maturity Award.” I no longer think this is his second-best movie, which is the position it occupies on this list. But I think the world will survive the error.

52. “A minute of silence can be a long time.”

Band of Outsiders (1964)

I’m more of a Truffaut guy than a Godard guy. There, I said it. God, I feel liberated. But I love Band of Outsiders. You can still see its impact on filmmakers all the time. Quentin Tarantino’s production company is called A Band Apart, a play on the film’s French title, and Wes Anderson should be paying royalties to Godard’s estate. (Tarantino was also reportedly influenced enough by the movie’s famous dancing scene that he echoed it in Uma and Travolta’s dance together in Pulp Fiction.) In Outsiders, Odile (Anna Karina) and two new male friends, Franz and Arthur -- who both fall for her, and why not? -- plan to rob the villa where Odile lives with her aunt. The movie only features the kind of suspense that description would imply toward the very end. Until then, it’s all slow charm. The three friends run through the Louvre, trying to see the entire thing in a world-record time. (The previous record was 9:45.) Criminals exist in a distinctly New Wave mode, with their fashionable caps and argyle sweaters and guns under the kitchen sink. Watching it again not long ago, I also remembered it uses soundtrack better than most movies on the list. Only the sag of some early scenes keeps it from being even higher.

51. “I demand to have some booze!”

Withnail & I (1987)

Some cult movies, like Spinal Tap or Rocky Horror, actually outgrow the cult label. I don’t think this one has. Set in London and the English countryside at the end of the 1960s, and based on the experiences of writer-director Bruce Robinson, Withnail & I follows two struggling actors as they run out of money in the city and go to an uncle’s estate for some R & R. Paul McGann is very good as Marwood (the “I” of the title), but Richard Grant as Withnail is just brilliant. (In fairness to McGann, the script favors Grant tenfold.) Withnail is a raging drunk, and Grant, who allegedly never drank in real life, gives perversely entertaining line readings in scenes like the one where he takes to drinking what I'm pretty sure is lighter fluid, or when, biblically hung over, he moans, “I feel like a pig shat in my head.” When the two do get to the country, they realize they’re singularly unsuited for it. (A local rides by, and Withnail frantically tells him, “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!”) Almost nothing at all happens in Withnail & I. The sole drama is whether Withnail’s portly uncle, played by Richard Griffiths, will have his way with Marwood. But the script is great, the performances are four stars all-around (leave that to the Brits), and the final scene, in which Withnail recites a soliloquy from Hamlet in the rain, standing at the outskirts of the London Zoo, is profound, revelatory, and on a short list of the very best endings I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen the movie, you really should watch it before seeing the finale. But if you have seen it, and just want to be reminded, it’s here.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

"But I didn't see that the joke was on me."

For Wednesday-Thursday, a strange trio of clips below. Don't ask how all this happened. It's the result of some YouTube browsing yesterday, which obviously got a little out of control. First, a clip from a 1970s TV show in which Olivia Newton-John, ABBA, and Andy Gibb sit in the round and halfheartedly cover a couple of Beach Boys songs. Odd. Second, two Hawaiian sisters (I think) do a pretty cover of "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys, one of my all-time favorite songs. Lastly, a clip from 1974 of the Bee Gees doing "I Started a Joke" in Melbourne, Australia. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Humanity Update: . . . Still Nuts

If you've lately convinced yourself that the world is anything but a loosely held together circus of lunatics, please find your way to the Starbucks cafe at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square at your earliest convenience.

Yes, many of the people are studying or talking to friends. But the exceptions are strong. One pair, a balding, scraggly-haired guy in blue jeans and a woman reading a paranoid book about the government, have gotten up and switched tables the last three times that people adjacent to them have left. In the course of about five minutes, total. They seem to be evolutionarily wired to move into freshly unoccupied spaces.

But they are beaten to the crazy-punch bowl by a woman to my left. She is wearing a hoodie and earphones. She looks a bit (just a tiny bit) like Alfre Woodard. She is laughing hysterically with regularity. Like, hand to the mouth, stomp the floor, fight back tears laughing. What is she reading? A guide book to Helsinki. (The guy sharing the table with her -- it's awfully crowded in here -- doesn't seem to mind. He looks as if he wandered in here because OTB closed for the night. He just pulled a vodka bottle out of a plastic grocery bag, surveyed the paltry quarter-inch or so left sloshing around at the bottom, and calmly put it back in the bag with an almost imperceptible look on his face of aw, shucks.)

Blame Eyjafjallajokull

The volcano did it. The volcano kept me from blogging all this time.

Wait, what?

OK, the volcano didn't do that. It's kind of amazing what it did do, though. You know, shutting down the planet and all. Take that, globalization. (More incredible photos of it here and here.) By the way, how come some crackpot preacher hasn't yet attributed this volcano to God hating gay people? Or have they, and I just missed it? Or maybe the volcano itself hates gay people? Or God hates that gays are allowed to do so much international traveling. Maybe that's it. I'm just saying, there has to be some kind of reasonable explanation for this.

In the meantime, I'm back from a few days of total silence brought on by: employment search, gray moods, and stomach distress. How all those things are related I'll leave up to future generations.

When I recently wondered about the future of this blog, a loyal commenter wrote, "You will be missed." Well, geez, I thought. Bit of a preview of my own funeral, eh? Plus, I haven't closed up shop yet. There might even be a Rumsfeld-ian surge in coming days.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Death of Grammar, Pt. 7,894

Mark Jackson just said it during the Bulls-Cavs game (the Cavs are still not a championship-winning team, in my opinion), but I've been meaning to whine about this for a while now: "Score the basketball." This is now a common phrase to hear during broadcasts. They have to more aggressively score the basketball. He's become a lot more effective at scoring the basketball. Etc.

Have they changed the rules of basketball? If you throw, say, your shoe through the hoop, does that count for points? Because last I checked, "score" and "scoring" and "scored" used to stand on their own. And in fact, the verb "score," applied to an object, changes the word's meaning. Perhaps the players are cutting small notches into the basketball? Perhaps they are creating music to be played in sync with the movement of the basketball?

He just said it again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

AP Headline of the Day

Topless Colorado Gardner Wins Fight With Landlord

The Man from 2040

I just came across this profile of sprinter Usain Bolt by Luke Dittrich in Esquire. A piece:
When the other men reach their top speed, their limit, Usain Bolt continues to accelerate. By the fifty-meter mark, he has caught up to the leader. By the sixty-meter mark, a noticeable gap has emerged between him and the rest of the pack. By the seventy-meter mark, he is covering more than twelve meters of ground — about forty feet — every second, a pace faster than the speed limit for automobiles in most neighborhoods. Nobody has ever moved this fast before under his own power. Usain Bolt's top speed is simply significantly higher than anyone else's, ever. [. . .]

Ethan Siegel, a theoretical astrophysicist at Lewis & Clark College, recently charted a graph to demonstrate that, judging by the incremental progression of the 100-meter world record over the past hundred years, Bolt appears to be operating at a level approximately thirty years beyond that of the expected capabilities of modern man. Mathematically, Bolt belonged not in the 2008 Olympics but the 2040 Olympics. Michael Johnson, the hero of the 1996 Olympic summer games, has made the same point in a different way: A runner capable of beating Bolt, he says, “hasn't been born yet.”
(Via The Browser)

"You're with me now, will be again."

The Wednesday songs have been yet another victim of my blog delinquency. So, on this Thursday, a small step toward correcting that. This is Son Volt doing "Drown" in 1996. Enjoy:


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Questionable Headline of the Night


"Flyers stun Devils as Boucher outduels Brodeur"

Granted, the Flyers are seeded lower than the Devils in their playoff series, of which this was Game 1. Still, the Flyers beat the Devils five times in six tries during the regular season. If something "stuns" you the sixth time out of seven possible times that it happens, you need a sharper response system.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Depth of the Hot Tub

Matthew Dessem of The Criterion Contraption takes time away from watching Criterion DVDs to apply his sharp, close watching -- in a hilarious deadpan -- to Hot Tub Time Machine:
As Adorno put it, writing criticism after Hot Tub Time Machine is barbaric. Indeed, since the Hot Tub Time Machine is itself present at all times, all criticism is barbaric.

Intermission or Finale?

Awful quiet around here, I know. I'm hoping to suss out whether this is just a natural down time for the blog, given that I'm busy with several other things, or if this is the beginning of the end. The blog's five-year anniversary is coming up in early October, and I'm toying with the idea of building up to it as a grand finale. We'll see. In the meantime, the movie list must continue, hopefully sometime in the next 24 hours.

Monday, April 05, 2010

MLB Preview

Rather than my original plan of a few separate posts, I think I'll put all my Opening Week thoughts in one post. This way, those who want to skip it can do so more easily. Why you would want to do that, I have no idea. What are you, a communist?

So, piece by piece:

1. First, let us worship Albert Pujols. Yesterday, he started the year with four hits, two home runs, four runs scored, three batted in. He's 30 years old, and he's putting together one of the all-time great baseball careers in front of our eyes. Let's take just the three hitting categories that are most familiar to everyone. His batting average, home runs, and RBIs per season beginning with his rookie year, when he was 21:
.329, 37, 130
.314, 34, 127
.359, 43, 124
.331, 46, 123
.330, 41, 117
.331, 49, 137
.327, 32, 103
.357, 37, 116
.327, 47, 135
His average output over nine years is .334, 42, 129.

2. Welcome to the future. Ben McGrath has a piece in this week's New Yorker about Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg. Heyward is a 20-year-old outfielder with the Braves who has been nicknamed "The J-Hey Kid" -- no pressure or anything. In his first Major League at bat yesterday, he hit a three-run homer off Carlos Zambrano. Strasburg is a pitcher starting the year in the minors, but he'll be up for the Washington Nationals before long, at which point he will become, however he fares, the most interesting thing to ever happen in a regular-season Nats game.

3. Remember your origins. Most of the explanations in this list of how Major League teams got their nicknames are pretty straightforward. But there are a few fun tidbits, like the fact that "Mets" was chosen by fans from among these 10 finalists: Avengers, Bees, Burros, Continentals, Jets, Mets, NYBS, Rebels, Skyliners, and Skyscrapers. The New York Burros. That would have been great.

4. Remember Carl. According to this article about veterans playing in the minors and hoping for another shot, Carl Everett, former star slugger and dinosaur denialist, is playing for the Newark Bears this year. How I haven't been to a game in Newark is beyond me. I will do my best to rectify that.

5. Don't hold me to this. Time for ill-advised predictions. Playoff teams first, then awards:

American League: Yankees, Twins, Mariners, Red Sox (wild card)
National League: Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies, Braves (wild card)
World Series: Yankees over Phillies (again)
AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
AL Rookie: Brian Matusz
NL Rookie: Jason Heyward

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Movie List: 60-56

60. "My boy's wicked smart."

Good Will Hunting (1997)

I’ll undoubtedly take my lumps for this one, too. There’s a personal reason for its inclusion, as you might imagine. When it was released, in 1997, I was a daydreamy 23-year-old living in Dallas and wondering fairly constantly if I should move, and if so, where. Plus, I had girl trouble. Plus-plus, Ben Affleck wasn’t Ben Affleck yet. (And he's never been as well cast as he was here.) So it was easy for me to overlook or forgive some of the movie’s weaker elements (and there are several). It ends with a shot of Will hitting the New England highway en route to California, and that was a moment the 23-year-old liked quite a bit. But I can explain my affection for the movie on more objective grounds. I think it’s especially interesting as an example of what can happen when an auteur (in this case, Gus Van Sant) is constrained by the aims of a more conventional project. Some of the distinct mood that permeates a movie like Paranoid Park is present in Good Will Hunting (partly in the lilt of the Elliott Smith soundtrack, which might be partly responsible for the fact that every minor surgery on Grey's Anatomy has to be accompanied by a Joshua Radin song but sounded quite fresh at the time).

59. “I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday.”

Kicking and Screaming (1995)

I don’t know what happened to Noah Baumbach. Lots of people love The Squid and the Whale, but I had a Randy Jacksonesque reaction to it: I thought it was a little pitchy, and it was just OK for me, dawg. The reviews of Margot at the Wedding were forbidding enough to keep me away. I’ll probably see Greenberg, though it sounds dreary. But Baumbach’s debut, Kicking and Screaming, is a hilarious (if sometimes stiffly acted) look at post-collegiate life. I’m willing to admit that if this hadn’t been released within a year or so of my own college graduation, it might not have had the impact it did -- not just because of its overlap with my own timeline, but because its brand of absurdist, highly quotable humor is generational. My generation. Sloane Crosley parsed the quotability here.

58. “You are a sad, strange little man.”

Toy Story (1995)

I’m a vocal fan of Pixar, and the studio really came storming out of the gate with its first full-length feature. The animation may have been less mind-boggling than it is now, but the story is still one of the best Pixar has created. Buzz Lightyear, the toy who doesn’t understand he’s a toy, is a great character. (And the scene in which he discovers the truth while watching a TV ad for himself is genuinely touching.) He and Woody have a classic odd couple dynamic, and the movie is full of funny gags, like the arcade toys who worship the mystical claw that plucks them away for children. (Go to 5:20 in this clip. “The claw chooses who will go and who will stay.”) The sequel was strong, too, and we’ll see if the upcoming third installment is a good idea soon enough.

57. “My real message? Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb.”

Don't Look Back (1967)

D. A. Pennebaker’s chronicle of Bob Dylan’s 1965 UK tour is one of the great documentaries for all kinds of reasons. First, there’s the access. While you get a sense of Dylan controlling things, more or less, the camera goes places in a fashion that it’s impossible to imagine a major star allowing today. We see Dylan’s tense silences with Joan Baez, his interaction with Donovan at a party, his conversations with manager Albert Grossman in taxis. We see him performing in Royal Albert Hall, and we get amazing vintage footage of him singing at a 1963 voter registration rally in Mississippi. But mostly we get him as a contradictory bundle: star and regular guy, joker and jackass, manipulator and cipher. I’ve seen it several times now. After the first time, I came away a bigger fan of Dylan the artist and a bigger skeptic of Dylan the legend. His dealings with the British press, in particular, are maddening, as he greets vapid questions with adolescent jousting, and those exchanges foreshadow the total, unceasing triviality of entertainment “reporting.” A female journalist asks him, “Would you say that you cared about people, particularly?” And he answers, “Well, yeah, but we all have our own definitions of all those words, ‘care’ and ‘people’ and . . .” An exchange we could certainly do without, on both sides.

56. “I don’t wanna talk to some flunky pig tryin’ to calm me, man.”

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

I’ve already mentioned how my respect for Al Pacino has only grown while putting together this list. I’m going to keep mentioning it. Pacino is incredible, and this is one of his best roles. As a Brooklyn bank robber with a struggling family and a boyfriend who wants a sex change, Pacino erupts through the famously loud scenes, like “Attica!,” but the subtler dimensions of the character are lost when that scream is what’s remembered best. A. O. Scott put it very well in his video review of the movie for the Times (this series of smartly condensed capsules is addictive). He said, “[Dog Day Afternoon] turns the archetype of the solitary, antisocial outlaw on its head. What motivates Sonny to rob the bank in the first place is an almost oppressive, desperate sense of responsibility -- to his family, to his mother, to his boyfriend. And this proves to be his undoing as an effective criminal. Because once he’s taken all of these innocent people hostage, what he ends up doing is spending the rest of the day trying to keep them safe.”


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Duke 78, West Virginia 57

And that's really all I want to say about that.

Butler 52, Michigan St. 50

That was a hideous basketball game, but I'm glad that Butler won. I think there were two different stretches of longer than five minutes during which neither team made a basket from the field. Now I'm watching the Duke game, and it's a testament to how much I hate the Blue Devils that I'm strongly rooting for a team coached by Bob Huggins, who represents everything that's wrong with major college sports.

Having Butler win it all would be a great story, especially because this is probably the last year of the tourney as we know it. The NCAA seems serious about expanding the field to 96 teams next year, which makes me think the hoops people there have a sizable side bet with the football folks to see who can have a sillier postseason (or lack thereof). Ninety-six teams is a terrible idea for at least the same number of reasons, and it reminds me of something philosopher Mary Midgley said, in a very different context: "the idea that growth . . . is natural and required, is a mythical idea. This can't be right, because things do not grow indefinitely in nature; they grow until they're big enough."

But the tournament being so great has always been an anomaly for the NCAA, which is otherwise among the dumbest organizations on the planet. There's a long trail of evidence for that statement, but let's limit ourselves to this year's basketball event, in which there were first-round games in the "West" bracket played in Buffalo, New York, and first-round games in the "East" bracket played in San Jose, California.

Friday, April 02, 2010

(Lack of) Programming Note

This week really got away from me on the blog. I can blame the quiet around here on the following: work, "work," looking for more work, looking for less "work," and finally, leisure. One goal of mine in 2010 (not one of the most pressing, I must admit) is to come up with a solution for this blog's relative inconsistency (in volume) ever since I launched The Second Pass.

I'll have a few posts up tonight, while I watch the Final Four. (Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel is trying to convince us that this year's Duke team doesn't deserve to be hated; nice try, Mandel). These posts will include some thoughts on the upcoming baseball season, as well as the latest installment of the movies list.