Manny being Manny, part dos

I’m sorry to see the Manny of up until 3 weeks ago go.

I’m not sorry to see the jackass of the last couple of weeks go. [if you care about these things, you must watch Eck bitching about Manny]

Still, I wish it hadn’t come to this. There’s going to be a big hole in watching a Red Sox games now; Manny era, watching the Sox come up to bat, there was always this Magic knowing Manny was in the lineup. As much as I have loved Papi and Varitek and Nomar and many others through the years of my Sox fandom, when Manny was in the lineup, there was always this magic when Manny stepped up to the plate that is now just gone.

I already apologized on Facebook to all my Pirates peeps for getting Jason Bay. Gar. Is this what it feels like to be a Yankees fan?

Hitchens gets waterboarded

I can’t decide if Christopher Hitchens’ article in Vanity Fair in which he willingly submits to being waterboarded in order to help him decide if it’s torture or not qualifies him to be considered like one of those spunky courageous first-person journalists of yore like Orwell or if it’s just an audition for Jackass: Celebrity Journalist edition. I’m guessing a little of both, leaning toward the latter. Because while it certainly shows a little more guts than many of his milquetoast bretheren, there are actually a lot of fairly courageous journalists actually covering the war at real, great personal danger. And it’s ultimately sort of a pointless stunt: maybe Hitchens personally wasn’t sure waterboarding was torture, but honestly, I don’t even think the Bush administration lawyers really believe deep in their hearts that it isn’t.

AirTran roller coaster

Air Tran rollercoaster

Saw this in Harvard Square station the other day, and, call me crazy, thought it was odd that an airline’s ad would compare their airplane to a roller coaster.

Recent Reading

The Good Soldier Schweik— I bought a copy at a used bookstore on our recent trip to Virginia/DC, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s sort of a World War I classic that’s fallen off the radar about a Czech soldier who’s basically an idiot who not so stupidly manages to avoid ever making it into combat. SchweikThe novel starts in Prague, and weirdly, the humor reminded me of Kafka, and there’s probably a thesis in comparing Schweik and K. from The Castle; where K. employs all the intelligence at his disposal in struggling against a vast, almost metaphysical bureaucracy to gain admittence to the caslte, Schweik uses his idiotic blank grin and the deep incompetence of the Austrian army bureaucracy to constantly frustrate their efforts to get him to the front. Seems like it’s often called an anti-war novel, and the novel does preach at times, but Schweik’s honest idiocy seems impervious to all kinds of cant, and he seems like as basic and original a comedic character as Don Quixote. It ends abruptly when the author died of TB.

The Last Tycoon— We got this in our great plundering of Terri’s parents’ book and record collection last weekend and I blew through it in a couple of evenings. It’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final novel (which ends abruptly when the author died of a heart attack) about a movie tycoon. Seems patterned after any number of film tycoons, but the one that comes to mind most to me is Irving Thalberg. It’s pretty uneven at times, and you suspect that it would have been seriously rewritten and cleaned up a lot once it was finished. But that in itself is part of the charm; the edition I read had author’s notes and outlines of what Fitzgerald expected to happen, so you get the interesting task of finishing the novel for yourself, as well as an interesting vivisection of a novel in progress. The main character Stahr is a workaholic producer who, while driven into the future out of dissatisfaction with his past a la Gatsby, seems to genuinely love his work, and the scenes where he is prodding his writers and directors to work creatively are alone unlike anything I’ve read elsewhere and are themselves worth the price of admission.

I Will Soon Be Invincible by Austin Grossman — a friend recommended this novel about superheroes and supervillains that are all too human. I liked it a lot (I blew through it it last night and this morning), but if you’ve seen The Incredibles, imagine it as novel, make it slightly moodier and less cartoony, and you’ve got the idea.

Manny being Manny

So, NESN is playing a “Manny being Manny” marathon. Currently, they’re playing the big 2005 game against the Twins on the day of the trade deadline. This is probably one of my all-time favorite Sox games. Manny was supposedly going to be traded in some complex 3-team deal, and was not in the starting lineup. The crowd was aware of this. The trade deadline was 4pm. In the 8th inning, the game was tied 3-3. 4pm came and went. David Ortiz was intentionally walked, and Manny came in as a pinch hitter. The crowd goes crazy as soon as they see him step out of the dugout. He hits a little base hit and Edgar Renteria scores. The crowd goes double-crazy.

“Manny being Manny” had been a phrase that up until that point people used semi-derisively– sure, he’s a great slugger, but you can’t always depend on him, say, knowing what inning it is, or how many outs there are, or to not disappear into the green monster to take a wee wee or chat on his cell phone. Those little antics were just “Manny being Manny”.

But after this game, Manny’s talking to Eric Frede about not being traded, and he says “this is the place for me… it’s Manny being Manny, man”. And it’s just brilliant. There’s nothing more “Manny being Manny” as Manny saying “Manny being Manny”. Because you don’t know if he really quite gets that it’s used semi-derisively, or if he does and he doesn’t care, or— and this is my favored interpretation— somewhere on the odd planet that Manny lives on, which the rest of planet Earth can see only with the most powerful telescopes, he has heard the term, and, he interpreted this as a compliment. Regardless of why he said it, the fact that he said it instantly turned the whole thing on its head. Planet Manny and Planet Earth’s orbits came a little closer, because from that point on, it was no longer semi-derisive, it was simply descriptive.

Also, watching that game now, I forgot how weird it was: it was an early game featuring Jon Papelbon. Curt Shilling came out of the bullpen as the closer. And Kevin Millar was wearing black under his eyes, and it streaked like he was in Kiss.

4th of July in Saratoga Springs

dogs & ballet girlsWe drove to Saratoga Springs last Friday, the 4th of July, to spend the long weekend with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece. Simon and Frances are teaching at the ballet school that they’ve been teaching at for the past few years. Saratoga is a good vacation town too, and Terri also went to school at Skidmore, so we have gone there several times with no ballet involved.

Not long after we got there, we went to the school’s 4th of July picnic at one of the several B&Bs they rent out for the students. At the sight– and overwhelming sound– of a hundred 10 through 17-year-old girls running around, Terri asked me “So, was this what it was always like when you guys growing up?”

I said, “Yeah, basically, except imagine that Simon was also a teenager, and all the girls were yelling ‘Simon! Simon! Simon!’”

It was good to see Roberto– I haven’t seen him in I don’t know how many years, and I’d never met his wife (it’s their ballet school). I also saw a couple of people I knew from back in the day, including little Stevie, who I have literally not seen in 15 years, and who now is not so little, is not so “Stevie” and who is now hot stuff at NYCB.

Photos with simonNot long after we got there, Simon was accosted by a bunch of his students, and we basically never got near him again.

Terri said, as we watched the girls take each others pictures with him, “So, basically, what you’re telling me is, nothing’s really changed.”

Pretty much.